Essays in Idleness


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It’s a girl

“Historic princess will be first to benefit from new succession rules,” it sez here, above the streaming headline in some tabloid somewhere, glimpsed via Internet. Did not read story; knew it already. Newspaper headlines today tell us things we already know, or more likely, things we already know to be false. But in this case: […]

Oyster sauce chronicles

There are three essential ingredients in a Chinese oyster sauce, so far as I can make out from the labels: oyster juice, sugar, and monosodium glutamate. Corn starch is needed to adjust the texture, but I should think rice or potato starch might serve equally well. In the Chinatown grocery I most frequent, bottles of […]

Down lunchpails

If I deviate from my admired R.S. ever or at all, it is because from my own “life experience” I cannot derive any pleasure from leftist twinkling. This is a slippage I have observed in many otherwise reliable dinosaurs. I attribute it to the drought of fashion. That is, we (dinosaurs) are always out of […]

Saint Catherine of Siena

Upon being received into the Church, at the tender age of fifty, I took the Christian name of Anthony, after Saint Anthony of Padua. There was good reason for this, for as I looked back, he had been encouraging me to join for a long time. Of course the first reason was my alma mater, […]


Oddly, several correspondents have asked me to write my autobiography, unaware that they have been reading it. Any curious or amusing event from my life may fall into this space, eventually. True, the account is intermixed with my opinions, and general reflections, but that is the case in more conventional autobiographies. The individual chapters are […]

Self-love & stupidity

This notion, that malice need not be assigned as an explanation, when stupidity could serve as well, is so Christian as to be almost attractive. I say “almost” illegitimately. There is much pagan left in all of us, or perhaps I should say so much in me, that I resist certain Christian attractions. I’d rather […]

Saint Peter Canisius

Characters like today’s (usus antiquior) saint, Peter Canisius, turn out to be quite relevant, forty-six years after the Vatican Vandals (™) stripped him from the liturgy, to make more space for kumbaya. A pioneering Jesuit, later recognized as a Doctor of the Church, he served through the reigns of four popes in the sixteenth century. […]

Jubilate Sunday

“Happiness is a feeling, joy is a fact,” it says here, in this (usus antiquior) pamphlet for the Third Sunday After Easter. I would go farther than that, in extension of something I said yesterday in passing (and often say). I would say happiness is a theory. A modern theory. Check out your Psalms (4, […]


An Armenian lady I know is hardly speaking to me after a column I wrote five weeks ago (here) on the word, “genocide.” I dislike the word, for reasons I gave there: it is legalistic, and to my mind, while claiming to increase, it actually reduces the weight of terrible atrocities, to the small and […]

A sister

It is galling to take out one’s winter clothing, after having packed it away. I say this as a Canadian, but from the banana belt of Canada — the extreme south. In the north they never put anything away; just dig things out of the ice every morning. Let me add heated words for the […]

Saint George

“God for Harry, England and Saint George!” It is the 399th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, after a drinking bout with Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson, and perhaps a few other old pals at a Stratford inn. It may also be the Bard’s 451st birthday, and — who knows? — perhaps the 416th anniversary of the performance […]


A correspondent tells me that these daily lucubrations are “too long and involved.” Another asks if I could “keep it short.” A third, who is a veteran journalist, says the important thing is to hold the reader’s attention to the end. ____________ NOTE. The last of these correspondents now writes: “Overkill. The third sentence is […]

The valour deficit

When I am asked, “So what would you do?” about the circumstances I touched upon yesterday, I reply by looking glazed. Fortunately for me, if not for others, I do not hold a powerful political office, and am quite unlikely ever to do so. As a pundit once, I believed it my duty to think […]