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Friday Morning Latin Lesson: Vol. CVII

March 22, 2013

Salvete, amici!  Here we are again at the end of another week, and what a week it's been, eh?  Is your bracket already busted?  Are you asshole deep in snow yet?  How about that new Pope, eh?  That covers pretty much the sum total of all the news that was this past week, doesn't it? 

This is, of course, the greatest time of the year for me, being that the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments are going right now.  The men's tournament, of course, tipped off on Tuesday with the "first four", the four in this case being the first four games, otherwise known as the "play-in" games.  However, "purists" don't count these first four games (because purists are dumb) and you probably have to look long and hard to find someone who actually counts these games in their office pool brackets.  I guess it's understandable; only the truly sick and depraved would watch these games and hold an actual interest in them.  I don't have a problem.  I swear!

The tournament itself has picked up the moniker "March Madness" (even though half of it this year will be played in April...) which stems, somewhat, from the phrase "mad as a March hare".  March is the month in which rabbits get it on, which would be one reason for those hares to be acting all harebrained; sweet, sweet cunnus cuniculi is on the line!  March Madness originally was the nickname for the Illinois state high school tournament--a Land of Lincoln version of Hoosier Hysteria (so much alliteration...).  It was lifted by noted national sportscasting perv and Webb-family hero, Brent Musburger, who probably thought it his own creation when he spewed it forth in a drunken broadcast during 1982.  We thank you for that, Brent, as well as the gift of Katherine Webb in a bikini um, diving, or whatever shit she's doing in that television show.  Shut up and close the blinds--I'm watching here!

The term "Sweet Sixteen" showed up sometime in the 90s, and was once again lifted from a high school tournament.  Several lawsuits with much legalese being bandied about came from the state of Kentucky, where Sweet Sixteen was used for many, many years to describe the final sixteen teams playing in their state high school tournament.  Final Four, also, was stolen from a high school tournament, this time going back to the hotbed of high school hoops, the great state of Indiana, where "final four" was used to describe the last quartet of teams that survived the semistate rounds of the tournament before class basketball ruined Indiana high school athletics forever.  Someone claimed that "final four" was used in the late 70s to describe when Marquette was one of the final four schools left in the tournament, but Marquette can go fuck themselves for all I care.

Oh, thanks for Tom Crean, by the way.

March, of course, gets its name from the Roman God of war, Mars.  Martius was the first month of the Roman Calendar, and it was ruled over by Mars--the embodiment of bloodlust and battle of warfare, as opposed to Minerva who was the strategist--because Martius was the time for planting crops and for making war.  Mars was originally an agrarian god, one who looked over the soil, the crops and the land.  The connection between the soil and battle was made glaringly clear in the movie Gladiator, where Maximus is constantly rubbing the soil on his face and fingers before battle.

Mars also gave us the name for Tuesday (in a round-about way).  The Romans thought that Mars, the planet in the sky, commanded the second day of the week, and so they named it dies Martis or "day of Mars".  When the Romans came in contact with some of the Germanic folk, the Germans liked this idea and so they began calling the second day of the week after their God of War, Tyr.  Thus, the name of the second day of the week became "Tyr's day" which eventually morphed into Tuesday.  And with the first four tipping off on Tuesdays, we've brought this bitch full circle.  All praise Mars!

Tempus est Furori Martis!

Pronounced:  "Tem-poose est fyoo-roar-ee Mar-teese!"

There's some serious meta stuff going on in this picture.  Also, hovertext!

March, of course, has the reputation of "coming in like a lion" and going "out like a lamb."  We're three weeks into March, with the first full day of Spring being yesterday.  This weekend, most of the country is bracing for another major snowstorm.  Yep.  Totally going out like a lamb!  I thought maybe this other phrase would be helpful while you're shoveling your car out of yet another bank of snow left in the wake of the plows.

Te pedicabo, Philippe...

Pronounced:  "Tay pay-dee-cah-boh, Phil-lee-pay"

A translation more accurate that weather prognosticating rodents in the hovertext

Lay in some alcohol and have the pizza man on speed dial:  it's going to be a long weekend.  Might as well get drunk, watch some basketball, and have cholesterol-laden regret coursing through your veins on Monday morning!  Valete, omnes!

Let's Talk Library Etiquette

March 20, 2013

My kids changed schools this year (again).  They now attend a school which is maybe two miles from my main place of employment.  It's also a charter school, so it does not have any busing routes, which means that suddenly daddy becomes the bus driver.  Which means I totally get to smoke pot, wiggle my fingers and think about how amazing they are.  Like, mind-blowingly amazing.  Whoa.

Anyway, since radio around here sucks (the frigid, empty expanse of space holds not a candle to the vast wasteland of corporate playlists or morning- and evening-drive time deejay drivel that is foisted upon the innocent listeners of the Triangle area), my children and I have been rocking the audio books for most of the year now.  And we've all really enjoyed them.  I've introduced them to a few of my childhood favorite characters (Bunnicula) and we've found some new gems along the way (Bartimaeus. kicks. ASS!).  They say that it's supposed to be a good thing for kids to listen to audio books as a way of expanding their minds and increasing their vocabulary and blahblahblahblah.  I just know that I don't want to put a fist through the front face of my radio because Klinger has some other badass witticism to thrust upon us about how awesome ice-cold Budweiser is.  Yeah, man.

I almost punched my screen just imagining that scenario.

The only problem has been moving from one series to the next.  The aforementioned Bartimaeus trilogy was the first audio book we picked up, and it was a hit right away.  Everything else has kind of paled in comparison--mostly because the story for Bartimaeus was so awesome, and the narrator, Simon Jones, gave the titular demon a personality that popped right out of the speakers (and off the page of the book, since I bought all three of them in various paper and electronic formats).  As I mentioned, we've been through several, and some have not been as good as the others, but overall we've been pretty happy with the experience.

Currently, we're listening to the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper.  The fourth book of the series, The Grey King, was a Newbery Award winner, though I don't think that it's any better than the other books in the series.  Perhaps because it involved more questing, the second book, The Dark is Rising, was my favorite.  Overall, they've been a good listen.  On Monday morning, on the ride to school, we finished The Grey King, and so while I was out on my lunch break, I thought I would swing by the library and pick up the final book in the series.

Not so fast, my friend.

Everything was fine, initially.  I walked in the door, dropped off the finished audiobook and then went over to the section of the library where the kids audiobooks were featured.  This is where things began to go pear-shaped.

And, I mean that almost literally.

As I approached, a large, unfriendly-looking woman, festooned in steak fries dipped in ranch sauce--okay, I'm making this last part up.  She was wearing a sweatshirt.  With kittens on it.  Silhouetted.  Kittens.

I probably should have given up then.

However, I persisted because I knew where the book was that I needed, and I knew that this library had a copy of the book.  As I approached the three shelving units of audiobooks, she settled her dead, yellowish eyes on me, picked up her purse and set it on the shelf next to a stack of books she was going to check out.  The purse and the books were stacked up right in front of the book I needed.

So, I decided not to make a big deal out of it.  I would just wait my turn patiently, like a mature, calm, cool-headed adult.  And that's what I did.  I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After five minutes, she shuffled down to the next bay of audiobooks.  Before she slithered away, she looked at me, not once, but twice.  Most normal human beings would have excused themselves and asked if I needed in to the area that she was guarding.  However, ranch-infused, kitten-sweater wearing embodiments of Dolores Umbridge don't ask such nice things.  They simply look you over, dismiss you as a functioning member of society, and then dig through the audiobooks with their pudgy, beringed fingers.

So, I waited.  And waited some more.

At this point, my childhood spent being raised in the Great Lakes region was beginning to show through, and I hit this woman with some of my finest Passive-Aggressivism.  I leaned toward the books.  I folded my arms.  I paced back and forth, all the while looking at her nasty little pink purse, looking through that insult to humanity, to the place where the book was for which I so yearned.

Unfazed by a world going on around her gravity well, she continued slumping toward the third bookshelf, pawing at the titles neatly ordered there.  I continued to pace, by now having waited fifteen minutes simply to get my book.  Finally, she slouched back toward her purse and books, but then decided to have another go at the first bay of audiobooks, taking another two minutes to go through the titles before, with a heavy sigh signifying how put out she was that she had to take her stuff and go, she finally heaved that atrocity of a purse onto her shoulders, picked up the stack of books and, not without one final look at all the titles on the shelves, waddled away toward the check out area.

I stepped forward, took the book that I needed, and was gone.

Five seconds.  That's all it took.  Five.  Fucking.  Seconds.

I walked straight to the check out line, beating her by a good thirty yards.  I scanned my card, scanned the book, printed the receipt and was gone in thirty seconds.  Quick as a wink, I was out with my book.

That is, if the wink took 25 minutes.  Twenty-four and a half were spent waiting on silly Sally Kittenlover to move her prodigiously pink handbag out of the way. 

The lesson:  if someone is standing in line trying to get to the same area where your shit is stacked up, kindly ask them if they need in there.  More than likely, they will politely say yes, take what they need, and thank you up one side and down the other for your altruistic sacrifice.

Otherwise, you end up the subject of a public-shaming in the blogosphere.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson: Vol. CVI

March 8, 2013

Salvete, omnes!  I'm sure you've heard a rumor to this effect by now, but in case you missed the news (there are still plenty of rocks to live under...hey, we don't judge here (we totally judge here)), Pope Benedict resigned at the end of last month.  In a rather unprecedented move, the pontiff cited lousy health as the reason why he left the office, the first Pope to do so since Gregory XII way back in 1415 AD (duh).  Even then, Gregory was forced to resign the office.  You'd have to go back to Celestine V (Pope for half of 1294) to find another Pope who quit, and he was rewarded for his resignation with a prison term that ended his life.  In case you were wondering, it was the Pope who took over after Celestine, Boniface VIII, who imprisoned Celestine; Celestine ended up dying in prison.  Wait, that's not good work!

In fact, it was Celestine who even made it possible for a Pope to quit.  His one act was to provide the Pope with the right to leave his seat in Rome, take his ball, and go home.  Boniface VIII, who we can probably guess did not much care for Celestine, wiped out all of Celestine's work other than the right to abdicate.  Celestine was canonized for his piety and service; before this turns into a feel-good story, remember that sainthood is always given posthumously.

The Pope, of course, rules from Rome and, with the notable exception of a few years in Avignon, France, the Pope has always ruled from Rome.  In fact, the Pope ruled in Rome even before Jesus was born. Quid dicisne?

The Pontifex Maximus was a title given to the head priests of Rome, even back during the days of the Republic.  Most of the time, these were leaders of the state religion--which, of course, pre-Constantine, was a pagan, polytheistic belief system--and as such the Pontifex Maximus was allowed to determine how the temples were run, when and what services would be provided, animals to be sacrificed, and he was even able to shuffle priests and priestesses around from one temple to another as he pleased.  Sounds kind of familiar, eh?

When Julius Caesar was murdered, a man named Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (his name means "charming" or "effeminate"; you make the call) was the Pontifex Maximus.  However, when Octavian took over and became Augustus Caesar, the first Emperor, Marcus Aemilius went into exile.  As Lepidus was an ally of Julius Caesar's, he represented power that Augustus wanted, so Lepidus did the sensible thing and ran.  He kept the title of Pontifex Maximus until his death (again, sound familiar?).  After he died, it was decided that the Emperor of Rome should also be the head of the church--after all, he was the head of state already.  Augustus then added the title Pontifex Maximus to his long list of accolades.  The Emperor of Rome kept the title Pontifex Maximus (though it was seldom actually used) until Emperor Gratian decided he didn't want it anymore sometime in the fourth century.

It is unclear as to whether the Pope assumed the term Pontifex Maximus (which means "the great pontiff") and then Catholic bishops became known as pontifices, or if it happened the other way around.  Whichever, the Bishop of Rome, aka the Pope, became the Grand Pontiff.  Pontifex itself is an interesting word.  It is believed to come from two words, pons meaning "bridge" and the -fex coming from the verb fecere, which means to make, do or build.  Literally, the pontiff is one who builds and bridge between men and the gods.  Or, in the case of the Pope, he is the man who serves as the bridge between Man and God.  We still have the verb "to pontificate" in English, which means to serve as a bishop, or to speak as if you are infallible, especially at length.  The noun pontificate means serving as a bishop.  *yawns*  Boring!

In case that was not enough of a Latin for you, let's get down to the actual lesson, shall we?

Meum magis prope Deum fers.

Pronounced:  "May-oom mah-geese pro-pay Day-oom fehrs."

Nearby translation in the hovertext

A little, somewhat related addendum here.  Trent Reznor has recently confirmed that he did spend most of last year writing music for Nine Inch Nails, and that they will be touring the country later in the year with an eye toward a World Tour in 2014.  Like a lot of other people my age, I really got into NIN when I was in college back in the mid- to late-90s.  My room mate (also named Matt) introduced me, but I had actually accidentally bumped into NIN a few months before Matt let me borrow "The Downward Spiral".

I was on the phone with the Ex-, back in the time when we were doing more talking than physical interaction (part of that being that it was a long-distance relationship...) but our relationship was spiraling downward toward being a sexual one.  We were talking one night and we were actually talking about sex, as in sex with each other even!  Being a goofy-assed naive Midwestern lad with limited experience in the arena, I could barely contain myself and I told her "I want to fuck you like an animal" (God, I'm so suave!).  She giggled.  And then I added "I want to know what you feel like on the inside.  I want to be in you."  She giggled again and then said, "Yeah, I've heard that song, too."  I was a bit confused, but I went with it.

When I later learned that there was an actual song with those lyrics, I was agog.  I thought I was being dirty sexy, but really I was just ripping off Trent Reznor.  I felt much less creative then.  Less creative, but still horny as fuck.  It's almost like I was a college-aged male.  Go fig.

Don't forget to spring forward this weekend.  Enjoy yourselves.  It is the last weekend of the regular season this weekend for college basketball.