Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's been awhile.

Hey all.

Now I know you are probably wondering about what I am up to now, where I've been, what I've been doing, and if not and of those questions then who am I and why do I share your last name.

I know, it's been awhile.

But I am not here to talk about me, there will come a time and a place and frankly here, now, is neither. I am here to talk about a person near and dear to all our lives. The person who has pushed us to be better in every aspect of ourselves. I think this person needs to be especially recognized since mother's day just passed and they have been a mother to us all.

Of course, I am talking about Bill Murray.

The iconic, quirky, funny-man that is Bill Murray. Obviously, we all love his movies. That's a given. But I also love him for his mythos. Bill Murray has become a spook story told throughout the country. Tales of him showing up in expected places, say for example underneath your chair at the movie theatre, doing some ridiculous stunt and then muttering the ever taunting phrase "No one will ever believe you." has become a never ending internet meme. I remember just a few years ago Bill Murray was supposedly going through Philadelphia and he promised he would stop at anyones house if they had karaoke going and had his name on a sign outside. I remember every house, every bar, every cardboard box was emblazoned with Bill Murray. His mythos is mysterious and ever sage-like, with him showing up and taking a lucky man or woman on crazy adventures through out the city with the night only ending with life advice from the one and only.

So here's the thing. I love Bill Murray, and while I wanted to believe all these things I just believed they were over zealous fans spreading the idea of Bill. Until today. Today my facebook newsfeed trended with Bill Murray, crashing a bachelor party and giving life advice to the groom and to all those in attendance. Maybe this doesn't match up to the stories I've been told. The stories told only in hushed voices in the back of dark bars by strangers with hidden faces. But, to me, this gives me hope that it is all true.

If you have never heard Bill Murray story here are a few:

Years ago, I left my laptop open at a Starbucks while I left to get my drink. When I returned, Bill Murray was sitting in front of my screen tapping away on the keyboard. I looked over his shoulder as he anonymously posted a number of stories regarding encounters with himself. They ranged from tackling others, stealing food and other fun oddities. When he finished, he closed my laptop, stood up, and looked me in the eye. Then he said, “No one will ever believe you” and walked away.


Bill Murray came in and ordered a basket of Suicidal wings and a scotch, neat. He was carrying a manuscript under his arm, which he laid on the seat next to him. I wanted to say hello but I didn’t want to seem starstruck so I just smiled and waved my drink at him.
As the night progressed, he ordered more drinks and more wings. At some point, as is usually the case at DTH, with his hands covered in wing sauce, Bill Murray ran out of napkins. After a couple of halfhearted attempts at getting the bartender’s attention, Mr. Murray began tearing pages off the top of the manuscript next to him and using them to wipe his hands. Odd, but not altogether crazy.
After a few drinks of my own, I finally mustered the courage to approach him and offer to buy him a round. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, however, Mr. Murray grabbed me by my wrist, pulled me towards him and said “You’ve got something…a bit of schmutz right…there.” He then tore a page off the top of that manuscript and wiped something off the corner of my mouth.
I thanked him and unsure of what to say after that, I cast my eyes towards the pile of crumpled-up pages and napkins on the bar beside us. It was then that a watermark on each page caught my eye: “Ghostbusters 3: Back In Business.”
Bill must’ve seen a change of expression on my face because at this point, he pulled me closer, leaned over and whispered in my ear “No one will ever believe you.
Some can be more ridiculous than others.
And Finally

Bill Murray's Response from GQ magazine when asked about this phenomenon:
[long pause] I know. I know, I know, I know. I've heard about that from a lot of people. A lot of people. I don't know what to say. There's probably a really appropriate thing to say. Something exactly and just perfectly right. [long beat, and then he breaks into a huge grin] But by God, it sounds crazy, doesn't it? Just so crazy and unlikely and unusual?
So to finish Bill Murray is great with his fans and creating this mythos. If I could choose one person to live forever with no adverse affects it would be Bill Murray. Stories are a bound, pictures are few and movies... well I've only ever found one.... or two.
Below is the movie of the bachelor party in question:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Even our Best Friends Can Let Us Down

The linked article recently published in the New Yorker, Is Heidegger Contaminated by Nazism?, really needs no comment, except a personal one.   It captures for me a lot about why I loved studying Heidegger so much in my undergraduate days, along with my profound disappointment at his anti-semitism.  And, perhaps, there is also an object lesson here.    As the article notes, philosophy professor Peter Trawny said this about Heidegger's anti-semitism: “The problem is not just that I’m morally shocked—it’s also a problem that he is so dumb.”  It seems that no amount of brilliance in one area can innoculate us against stupity in another.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

As many a curbstone philosopher has observed....

"[A]s many a curbstone philosopher has observed, everything is related to everything else.”

          -- Antonin Scalia

All these and more correlations can be found at Spurious Correlations, a blog by Tyler Vigen.  Here Vigen explains his project:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Easter Octave

At some point over the years, the Church recognized that some celebrations require more than just one day to do them justice. And the octave, an eight day period of celebration, was born.  

I'd like to think that the idea of the liturgical octave came from the musical octave -- the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency -- called the "basic miracle of music."  After all, few real celebrations happen without music.

In any event, in the fourth century, annual liturgical feasts began to be honored with an octave. The first such feasts were Easter, Pentecost and, in the East, Epiphany. Later, Christmas was given an octave.  During the Middle Ages the number of octaves expanded to include almost every imaginable feast day, including saints days.  This included days like the feasts of Corpus Christi or the Holy Innocents.  In addition to these, the patron saint of a particular nation, diocese, or church was often celebrated locally with an octave. 

It sorta got out of hand and, just when it looked like the feasting days might outnumber the actual working days, the church started cutting back.  By 1955, only the octaves of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost remained.  And then, in 1969, Pentecost was jettisoned from the elite eight-day holidays.

And so, we just completed the celebration of the octave of Easter.  The day that completes the octave is called simply the Second Sunday of Easter, or sometimes Low Sunday.  It has also been called St. Thomas Sunday, after doubting Thomas, the central character of the Gospel of the day.   (In the Gospel, when the disciples tell Thomas that "we have seen the Lord," he replies, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."  Thomas seems to have anticipated Carl Sagan's aphorism -- endorsed by Christopher Hitchens -- that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.")

This Sunday has one other quite distinctive name:  Quasimodo Sunday.  Lest you think that the day is intended as some kind of tribute to the unlikely protagonist of a Victor Hugo novel, be advised that the name of the Sunday pre-dates Notre-Dame de Paris by many years.  In fact, the character Quasimodo is so named in part because Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, discovers him on Quasimodo Sunday.  

Instead, the last day of the Easter octave derives its name from first words of the Introit -- the entrance chant -- of the Mass for the day: "Quasi modo geniti infantes" ("As newborn babes"). "Quasi" in Latin means "almost" and "modo" means "the standard measure."  In the Introit, the words are simply translated as "like" or "as."   The character Quasimodo is "almost the standard measure" of a human being.  Here's what Hugo says:  
He baptized his adopted child, and named him Quasimodo, either because he wished to mark in this way the day upon which the child was found, or because he wished to show by this name how imperfect and incomplete the poor little creature was. Indeed, Quasimodo, one eyed, hunchbacked, and knock kneed, was hardly more than half made.
Anyway,the great octave of Easter is over and we have to wait until Christmas for another 8-day celebration.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas-Caravaggio