Monday, February 21, 2005

About St. Denis

St. Denis holding his head
I remember being intrigued several years ago by a headless statue (holding his head -- third from the left in the image above) on the façade of Notre Dame cathedral. Someone told me it represented Saint Denis (which is a lot of fun to say in French: san-duh-nee).

I finally read about him today in Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne (excellent so far, by the way). At 90 years old (this was the 3rd century A.D.) he was arrested for denying the divinity of the emperor. He was decapitated but then picked up his head, washed it off, and continued walking for six thousand paces. The place of his execution became the "Mons Martyrum" -- or Montmartre -- now home to some great music shops, street artists, Sacré Coeur basilica, Moulin Rouge, and some other shops that probably wouldn't make a saint very proud.

The spot where he finally died (after the six thousand paces) became a holy spot and eventually home to the cathedral of Saint-Denis. Several French kings were buried there, beginning with King Dagobert (about whom I definitely need to learn something so I can start dropping his name).

Friday, February 18, 2005

Man and Superman

I recently discovered Bernard Shaw, having somehow missed out during high school and college. He's pretty amazing - very witty guy. Man and Superman is my new favorite. There's a long scene in the middle where a character has a dream about a woman finding herself in Hell. She doesn't think she belongs there, but Don Juan meets her to reassure her she's in the right place. She goes from claiming innocence to raging about how much worse she could have been had she known she wouldn't make it to Heaven anyhow. Then the devil shows up and a statue and they have a great debate about Heaven and Hell with excellent insights into human nature. The best part is a statement from Don Juan about the devil's earthly minions where he lists a series of virtues and their worldly counterparts. I'm guilty of several of them.

"Your friends are all the dullest dogs I know. They are not beautiful: they are only decorated. They are not clean: they are only shaved and starched. They are not dignified: they are only fashionably dressed. They are not educated: they are only college passmen. They are not religious: they are only pewrenters. They are not moral: they are only conventional. They are not virtuous: they are only cowardly. They are not even vicious: they are only “frail.” They are not artistic: they are only lascivious. They are not prosperous: they are only rich. They are not loyal, they are only servile; not dutiful, only sheepish; not public spirited, only patriotic; not courageous, only quarrelsome; not determined, only obstinate; not masterful, only domineering; not self-controlled, only obtuse; not self-respecting, only vain; not kind, only sentimental; not social, only gregarious; not considerate, only polite; not intelligent, only opinionated; not progressive, only factious; not imaginative, only superstitious; not just, only vindictive; not generous, only propitiatory; not disciplined, only cowed; and not truthful at all: liars every one of them, to the very backbone of their souls."

They are not. . .They are only. . .
cleanshaved and starched
dignifiedfashionably dressed
educatedcollege passmen
public spiritedpatriotic

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

iPod returns

My iPod's battery capacity suddenly plummeted a few weeks ago -- it was lasting about 4 hours from a full charge instead of the advertized 12. I decided to send it back to Apple for a replacement since I've only had it for about 6 months. Unfortunately, I was 3 days past the 180 days they give you for free shipping, so they stuck me for $32. It's a pretty cool process -- you put in the request online and get an empty box via DHL a day later. It's all pre-padded with a space just big enough for the iPod. It even comes with several strips of tape to seal it back up. And it's prepaid, so you just drop it off at DHL or call them to arrange pick-up.

4 days later, I had a "new" iPod (the fine print emphasizes that you won't get your same iPod back and the replacement will be new or refurbished). The replacement was almost completely dead -- when I turned it on it would grind, click, grind, click, grind click, and then display a file and exclamation point icon before shutting itself off. It took me about 50 minutes on the phone with Customer Service to convince them that was a bad thing. I started the process over again - shipped it Monday and got another replacement that Saturday.

It seems to be working beautifully now (although I'm not totally convinced I'm back up to 12 hours). It was a painful couple of weeks without any Bob Dylan, though.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Will it be another single-entry blog, quickly abandoned? Or will it in some small way be acknowledged as the greatest work of genius ever created by Man? (Rip-off of an old Deep Thought.)