Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My middle name is Alexander...with an X

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name.

Ok folks. Here’s my middle name outline. My middle name, as you can see is Alexander. I’m named for the Greek leader guy. My first name is Greek as well, as you might have puzzled out. I picked random nouns and adjectives that are vaguely associated with me or which remind of interesting stories from my life and from my family history. I did edit the final E entry, though. Originally I had selected the word “eviscerate” and told the story of the abortionist Catholic monk in the 1930’s in Celle, Germany (not a family member, but someone who had something to do with a family member), but I decided it was a bit too graphic. It’s interesting, though. Maybe I’ll tell it later. At any rate, here’re the goods (or the bads, depending on what side of the fence you sit on, and no, I did not justify my margains!):

A – Allegorical. Much can be taught by simple comparison. In writing and in speaking I very much enjoy good use of rhetorical devices. Cicero and Virgil, in my opinion, are masters of the rhetorical device. I’ve consumed copious amounts of coffee since 11th grade reading the Latin prose of Cicero and the glorious verse of Virgil. Arma virumque cano! Of course Cicero was always a seeker and revealer of truth in his orations. I like to say that I also enjoy a good truth revelation from time to time. Only problem with that is that the truth is sometimes hard to swallow. Cicero found that out when he was slaughtered, head and hands cut off and nailed to the rostrum in Rome. But I won’t dare to mention that when someone tells the truth, one’s primary reptilian response is usually to shoot the messenger.

L – Landstuhl. The town in Rheinlandpfalz, Germany where I came into the world. I was a fat blond kid who spoke only German but who could understand English, although he didn’t care much to speak it. Casette recordings made of my voice when I was a toddler reciting Mother Goose in English reveal that I spoke with a very distinct, clipped German accent: “Check bee nimbll, Check bee Kvikk. Check chumped offah zih Kendl Sstik.” I was also baptized in Landstuhl, and I wore hand-made Belgian lace booties. I have since lost my German accent in English for the most part, and have since learned to speak English quite well. Speaking English, but thinking like a German can be intimidating to people who are insecure or paranoid.

E – Excommunication. When a Catholic parish kicks you out, but still persists in sending you offering envelopes in the mail, as is the case with me. That reminds me of Louis XV’s famous quote: “After me, the deluge”.

X – Xi. One of the only letters in the Greek alphabet that can not be reversed. The letter is also drawn by students on their Latin and Greek texts to remind them while re-reading for exams of the presence of a chiasmus in the text. The chiasmus is an exciting rhetorical device that involves interlocking verbal parallelism.

A – Andes. The name of an after-dinner chocolate and mint confection. I hate mints, and therefore I hate Andes. Pardon the syllogistic argument, but in this case, it happens to be true. Now, this question: who really believes that the burning flesh of St. Polycarp as he was roasted at the stake really did issue forth the odor of bread baking? And if it did, was old cousin Poly a loaf of white or whole wheat? One thing remains certain, he was most absolutely not gluten-free, by golly! And further, this question: are the primary relics of Polycarp actually bread crumbs?

N – Necromancy. The pseudoscience of conjuring the spirits of the dead in order to reveal events in the future. In the middle ages, it might have been possible for a good Catholic boy to double major in Necromancy and Alchemy in order to ask dead aunt Harriet how to make gold – such knowledge would enable him to free generations of sinners locked in Purgatory until their bail could be met. Too bad Mr. Teztel didn’t do that. His work would have been so much easier. My favorite run-in with necromancy was during a performance of Le Roi David back when I was an undergraduate. I was asked to play the celesta, so I had a load of time on my hands…until the witch of Endor was requested to engage in necromancy. The narrator changed her voice to sound witchlike, summoning the spirit to appear. Only thing, this: her accent was so contorted, it sounded like she said “up here”. I turned around slightly to hide my smirk, when I spotted the lead tenor mouthing the text of the narrator. The rest was history. I fought the good fight for the remainder of the concert trying as best I could to banish the witch of Endor from my mind, lest I wet my tuxedo pants. Necromancy can be fun when musicians are excessively bored.

D – DDR. The letters which in German stood for Deutsche Demokratische Repulik, otherwise know as East Germany. This is where my family is from and from whose borders my family was caused to flee in the 1950’s. My mom made it out in the late 40’s, as youth were being deported to the Soviet Union to join the Russian work force. She was guided to the West by a border runner with nothing more than a backpack. My grandparents were persecuted in the East after my mom escaped. My grandfather was arrested and interrogated communist-style. My grandmother was beaten by the Stasi woman (secret police) who lived in the neighboring apartment.

E – Esurientes. This word begins verse 8 of the Magnificat: esurientes implevit bonis: et divites demisit inanes. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. (That’s the English translation from the Book of Common Prayer, folks. The only translation of the Latin texts into English that’s really worth a flip. Don’t get me started on ICEL). The verse reminds me of the Bach setting of the Magnificat, a cassette recording of which I had in my pack back in November of 1990 when I visited Vienna. I remember listening to the work over and again traveling by bus to Austria. My class stayed in a hotel run by Italians near the Prater (not so good a neighborhood). There was exactly 1 tablespoon of hot water for the hotel guests each morning. I remember buying a paper cone filled with chestnuts at the Prater. There was a worm inside and I puked in the bushes. While in Vienna that November, I saw Fledermaus at the Volksoper, moving from my standing spot during the intermission to front balcony to occupy the seat of someone who had tickets but didn’t show. I also saw a wonderful art deco staging of Anatol at the Theater in der Josefstadt – box seat, folks. Attended Mass at St. Augustine’s with my class. They had some strange corn flour hosts there. They were yellow. At any rate, the choir sang the Schubert German Mass. I also danced in a disco somewhere in Vienna late at night to Susanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”. Deliciously random factoid: there was a horse butcher across from the hotel where we stayed, and I walked into a dive bar down the street from the hotel with a handful of 10 Groschen coins to make change for the vending machine in the hotel lobby.

R – Regensburg. I studied there in 1990/1991. I went to the University of Regensburg to study Latin, Roman History and Old Testament. I read Cicero in class for two hours each day and spend about twice that long each night preparing the readings for the next day (we had to analyze the text grammatically and stylistically). I took organ lessons in ancient and baroque technique at the Papal Church Music School there as well, which allowed me also to become an adjunct organist at the Lutheran cathedral as well as a smaller suburban parish connected to the cathedral. I was actually one organist on a staff of organists. The first semester, I racked up enough hours to max out on my yearly quota, so that gave me an entire semester to dedicate to my research of Roman Regensburg. The research that semester turned into a major paper for Classics back home and lead to the preparation of my thesis work: the first English translation of the life of St. Emmeram and the annotated edition of the Latin text.


Brian Michael Page said...

Time to update the footer on mine as to how many people are now duly tagged (my 7 plus your 9 = 16).

Thank God the DDR in question is not that "Dance Dance Revolution" game that my kids love to play.

Brian Michael Page said...

Though now that I'm reading the real DDR, ouch! Thank God you and mom got out safely. My condolensces on the grandparents, however.

Mr. C said...

Composers I have known and loved:

D- Danzi, Franz. A mini Mozart whose genius was crafted like Salieri's.

A- Allegri. "Nuff said."

N- Newman, Randy and his whole damn family of film composers.

I- Ibert or Ingeneri, "I" can't decide. Though (hint) my BA is in Flute perf.

E- Ellington, Edward (Duke) Come Sunday indeed.

L- Luzzachi- Oh sweet mother of early Baroque chromaticism!

Mr. C said...

Like a guy, I never read the instruction manual.

Thems I'm tagging:


Ron mmstra
Mike O

Lyn F. said...

Well, Charles, I've already done my bit and filled in the meme. Have a look at it on my blog, if you care to ...


PhiMuAlpha2681 said...

LOL at the nursery rhyme. Sounds like Inge in Young Frankenstein

Putt zee Kendl beck!

Mary Jane Ballou said...

I'm so glad my middle name is short. Of course, Jason doesn't seem to be at a loss for words. (It's the result of those long sentences in German.)