Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ships, Seas, and Salvation

Hello, Dear Friends! A few snips & snails from me to you at the end of today, a better-than-most Sunday. You may be pleased to hear (or you may not give a toss) that in sharp contrast to last week, I'm not agitated. Not irritated. Not discombobulated. There is still much roiling of seas around me, but my wee craft seems to be bobbing along and taking on only minimal water. Nothing the bilge pump can't handle.

Given the day of the week it is, I thought it might be apposite to relate to you the only concrete thing I remember from several years of Sunday School: how to mug an old lady using a walker (Brit translation: Zimmer frame).

I must have been around thirteen or so, and was preparing (or rather, being prepared) for Confirmation. The lessons themselves were dull and dry, and I recall feeling extremely uneasy; I wasn't sure at all if I believed in all of this Bible stuff, but I sure as heck was petrified at what might happen if I didn't (cue: hellfire, damnation, wrath of God etc ad nauseam). I was an impressionable lad with an active imagination...

Helping out with the teaching were some older, ideologically sound teenagers. They were supposed to go through various exercises with us ("Describe your favourite saint" and things like that), but as soon as the Fathers and Sisters were out of the room, the japery started.

One Sunday our Sweet and Tender Hooligan Shepherd of the week asked for a volunteer. He wanted to show us how to mug an old lady. I don't know why, but I raised my hand. He told me to stand at the front of the class with my hands on a chair in front of me. I was to be the hapless granny, the chair my walker. As I shuffled slowly, Hooligan Shepherd grabbed my ankles, flipped them over my head, rotated me over the chair, and lowered me gently (remember, he was also Sweet and Tender) onto the floor such that I was lying on my back. He then finished by saying one was supposed to grab the handbag from prostrate, winded (paralysed?) granny and flee. Charming.

So there you have it - the sum total of what I remember from Sunday School, and one of the reasons I am leery of churches and organized religions. Thanks to Mentok for drawing this memory out of me through our comment exchange last week. I thought about posting Public image Ltd's 'Religion' as an accompaniment, but I'm simply not feeling aggressive or uncharitable enough. Instead I give you the fluffier:

Culture Club - Church of the Poison Mind (buy here)

In other news, for some time I've been studiously ignoring Sufjan Stevens. Too much hipster hype, methought, best stay away. But witnessing the conversion of Colin, now on a ship sailing to Sufjan City with Ash, and the retreat of Coxon and LovelyBelle to a Sufjan-free island redoubt, I thought it was time to stop treading water. So I listened to one track. Then another. I read up on the man, pinching my nose to shut out the stench of arch hipness. Then more tracks. And then this one:

Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day (buy here)

And that did it. Colin, wham bam thank you man, chuck me a life ring and pull me aboard. I've been in this cold, cold water for so long that I look like a prune. I am now baptized, Hallelujah (even if it's not a hard rock one)! Shuffleboard with Sufjan, it is.

And now, a riddle. Quite by chance I caught an episode of an old telly programme that made me laugh like a drain. But rather than tell you what it was, let's see if you can guess it. To guide you, I offer two songs and a strip of dialogue. And the winner gets... oh, I don't know. I'm sure we can come to some agreement. At very least my unyielding admiration.

The Associates - Party Fears Two (och aye, buy here)

"Angus Podgorny, what do y'mean??" "He wasnae so much a man as a ..."

Blancmange - That's Love, That It Is (buy here)

Oh, dash it, I'm just feeling so compassionate and generous right now. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. 'I want to give peace, love and kisses out to this whole stinking world. The gypsies, the travellers and the thieves. The good, the bad, the average and unique. The grebos the crusties and the goths...' So here you go, a final few gifts on what is fast becoming Monday morning.

Carter USM - The Only Living Boy In New Cross (buy here)

dINbot - Beastie Bop (Ramones vs Beastie Boys) (onetwothreefour ch-ch-check it out here)

Bjork - Fool On The Hill. Sung in Icelandic and recorded when she was all of 11 years old. Appears on the eponymous 'Bjork Gudmunsdottir,' which I understand is only on vinyl & I have no idea where it can be found (EDIT: Many thanks to Buffer Low from Oz for sending this jpeg of the fantastically exotic album cover). A lovely song, perfect to wind down to...


go to sleep...

dreaming happy dreams...


james henry said...

Excellent - I was thinking of that CUSM only the other day, many thanks.

The Civil Servant said...

Oui cher Fil,Church of the poisoned mind me semble parfait pour illsuter ses "souvenirs" d'├ęducation religieuse.
En plus c'est une tr├Ęs bonne chanson pop.


L'Anonyme de Chateau Rouge said...

Well, my first english teaching are not very well...
For the first time I don't understand your chronique...
Civil Servant (He ! Hello man !) explain me (and at everybody writes english very bad as me) : it is a chronique at your religious education ! Aaaahh...
But finally, if I don't understand your note...It is because I'm not religious man ! Not because I'm a very bad english talk man...
Pouuuuuu.... this is fastidious... sorry...

My challenge is the same: writes english !
never give up, never surrender (my favorite sentence..)

Mentok the Mind-taker said...

Thanks FIL, the story was hilarious!

...And how absolutely British! It's so easy to imagine Monty Python doing a bit like this.

What is it about island nations? That would make for an interesting discussion thread sometime. Have you ever noticed how Japan and Britain are two of the most idiosyncratic places on the planet? Or is it just me? ;-)

unknown said...

SufjanCity welcomes you with open arms my friend! You are at peace, rest easy, praise you... :) (and what a lovely post this was)

Rachel said...

Oh bother...That's fine, have your wonderful Sufjan, I however will remain strong. I will prevail. ;)

Aside from the song from you know who...I must say thank you for such an enjoyable post...And then the tracks, which were awesome...dINbot, Beastie Bop was very cool but then Bjork, Fool On The Hill made my day...

For a moment I had forgotten the loss of you and colin to Sufjan Land.

You will be back...I give it to July when he comes out with his outtakes and extras album in July with a whopping 21 tracks of Sufjan!!!
I can't wait...really :/

Anonymous said...

you can buy that BJORK album in CD format now, you know.

FiL said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FiL said...

James: You are most welcome! BTW, I visited your bloghome and wanted to say HUGE THANKS for Green Wing (even if you only did an average of 17.3766% of it). It was a ray of twisted sunshine in my life.

My Dear Mentok: I must point out that said RE experience took place at a Catholic church in Queens, New York. Indeed, it would have been grand had it taken place against a backdrop of Pythonesque irony & absurdity. But I fear the atmosphere was more one of teenage cruelty. Sigh.

I do like your island thoughtlet. You may be onto something. But beware of using the portmanteau 'Britain' lest the Scottish contingent (and any Irish and Welsh in the audience) take umbrage at being lumped in with the weedy Sassenach...

Dearest Colin: Please put down the caber and sheath your claymore. Sufjan would not approve ;-D

And lovelybelle: Sigh, thank you for being so understanding of my weakness. But I really had no choice. I am also grateful for your kind words and implied offer of a compassionate entry visa, should I develop a severe allergic reaction.

Yes, I find the Beastie Bop wildly compelling. And the Bjork track is just...otherworldly. I'd probably have counselled against the shouty finish to the song, but perhaps I'm being churlishly picky.

Salut cher anonyme! Toujours plaisir de te revoir ici. Je salue ton courage - l'anglais est une langue bizzare. Oui, il s'agit en partie de mon education religieuse. Je m'en souviens tres peu, sauf l'histoire que je viens de raconter. En bref, le prof nous a montre comment aggresser une vielle qui se promene avec un deambulateur. Jolie, hein?

Moi je suis pas "religieux"; je me mefie des eglises et du dogme. Mais j'ai le plaisir et la bonne fortune de connaitre des bons gens vachement spirituels, et oui, parmi eux quelques pasteurs. Et le dharma bouddhiste, ca m'interesse beaucoup. C'est pas l'opium du peuple...

Oui mon vieux, never give up, never surrender. Never!!

Civil Servant: Merci pour tes services de traduction!!

Dear Nonny: I understand CD bootlegs of the vinyl original are now to be had. But according to there's never been an official release. Many thanks!


A. B. Chairiet said...

Hi FiL,

The story of your Sunday School memory: it's the best writing I've read all morning...and I read a bit of Hamlet.

Okay, so I recited Hamlet. It doesn‘t count. ;)

I love your memory...very well written, as I said...but also, raised in Sunday School, I remember our preacher teaching us how to rob a soda machine. Strange.


As for Sufjan: I swear! I've been meaning to tell Colin that Casimir Pulaski day is my second favorite Sufjan song, behind For the Widows in Paradise. (Chicago is also number‘s the best, not favorite)

I'm so glad you found it! So glad you like Sufjan, and as for Sufjan City: Yay! I'm so happy you're joining us! :)

You can also join our fight over who gets to marry him...

I think it should be me: Mrs. Ashley Sufjan Stevens.


I'm feeling much better today.

Thank you so much for the kind words at my place. They helped.

I hope you're doing great! :)

Glad you had a better-than-most Sunday.


Happy Tuesday,
~ Ash

Mentok the Mind-taker said...

Man, I'm not much of a mind-taker, am I? I've consistently guessed wrong about details on all your anecdotes.

Well, if there's any place that's even more idiosyncratic than Britain or Japan, it would have to be New York City. It is in many ways an island within North America, so I guess the premise still holds.

BTW, when I say "Britain", I mean it in a general sense, such as Scandanavia or North America. I strongly sympathize with Scottish umbrage ;-)

...Although, when it comes to insular idiosyncracity, there are few parallels for the Scottish. I forget the source, but some comedian somewhere once adroitly observed that the entirety of Scottish culture sounds like something that was done as a dare ("Ah dar yuu ta weare a dress all day. Ah dar yuu ta ate a sheep's stumach.")

Once again, Colin, I'm saying this as a Scottish sympathizer...don't hate me! ;-)

Fil, you are such a font of interesting words. I had never heard the word "Sassenach" before. I almost thought you made it up. Truly, one of the great little-known insults of the world...right up there with tete-carre (English Canadians).

T&F@tlh said...

Ah Dear FiL,

Teaching our dear colonial cousins the joys of our near neighbours' language!

Hope you are having a fun week......I'm trying to decide on staffing numbers - 250 should see it about right...


T&F@tlh said...

FiL et al.

Have a look at the Father's day photos


unknown said...

no hate taken mentok, just pure Scottish love... and we need all the sympathisers we can get... aye... a haggis is on the way to you. and a kilt. :)

FiL said...

Hi Ash! You make me blush so terribly with your lavish praise...

So you can rob a soda machine. Perhaps we should be partners in crime: you take care of the fizzy drinks, I'll keep us in hairnets and lavender soap. By the way, do you know which book of The Bible this all come from?? ;)

Yes, Sufjan City will be a hopping place. But rest assured I'll fight neither you nor Colin for his hand in marriage; as of today, I'm pining for Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell...

Thanks for brightening the day!


FiL said...

Hey Mentok, fret not - perhaps you just need time to adjust to my mind's wiring. It is somewhat jumbled.

Yes, I think the island analogy still holds.

Glad to see there won't be war 'twixt the Prairies and Caledonia!

'Tete-carre' is not one I'd yet heard, so thanks! I'm thoroughly enjoying assimilating/being assimilated by Canadian/British Columbian culture. Recent epiphanies include poutine, meat raffles (also popular in Minnesota, so I hear), and the phrase "fill your boots."


FiL said...

Ah, Most Dearest T!! How nice to hear from you. 250? Gosh, that's a lot. Dress them in powder blue and arm them all with orange feather dusters for that First Earth Battalion vibe.

And are you sure you typed in the correct link to your photos? Seems you just typed pogo a go-go's url. How meta is that...?

Lotsa lurve,

Mentok the Mind-taker said...

Colin - "Pure Scottish love"? Reminds of that old joke. You know the punchline, I'm sure: Ben Dover and Phil McKracken.

FiL - wow, you really are assimilating quickly. Poutine and everything. Now you just need to learn the correct pronunciation of Toronto, which is part visual. You say the word in the same sing-songy way Homer Simpson would say "Well, La-dee-da". As you say it, roll your eyes, wrinkle your nose and roll your head from side to side to show disdain. Pull that off and ppl will swear that you were born here ;-)

p.s. the word verification right now spells "Fil Yo"

xolondon said...

I love Sufjan's song called "Predatory Wasps" (blablabla) - it's heartbreaking in a way. He's quite the gentle soul in concert - you have to kind of ignore the Stereogum/Hype Machination of him. It is an external put upon him. I hope he survived 2005 okay!