Friday, June 19, 2009

What has it got in its pocketses?

"Well, I'm lost too," cried Bilbo, "and I want to get unlost. And I won the game, and you promised. So come along! Come and let me out, and then go on with your looking!"

"They call me basilbeast".

It seems it's appropriate for an author to write a biographical paragraph or two in the debut post of a fine blog such as this. And so it is.

As you will find out from the link above, my nom de blog is taken from the name we gave our black cat. You can find out his history from the video link as well. We got his name from His Grace Basil, the present Antiochan Orthodox Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America. His Grace knows about this, and even blessed the little fellow. It seems to have worked, basil's 15 going on who knows.

At the time, my wife and I were upstanding members of PECUSA, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. Back then, that was a very bi-polar religious sect, and still is today. As our Dean at Christ Episcopal often proclaimed, "Either high and crazy or low and lazy." He and his group within the cathedral were the "high and crazy", and for various reasons, we followed him into the Orthodox church and established a new parish, All Saints in Salina, KS. Our Cathedral Mother, St. George in Wichita, just happens to be right next door west of the Lutheran church where Dr. Tiller was murdered recently.

This short feline and religious history is as good a beginning as any to introduce myself to the owners and patrons of this literary bar. When I first climbed aboard the World Wide Web in 1999 with my dial-up connection to my Sears-bought Compaq Presario with 4 Gs of hard drive memory ( quite the big deal when I bought it and I still use it as my stand-alone work machine ), literally a whole new world opened up, full of wonders and information and danger. Much like Bilbo finding his way out of the darkness of being lost and into the brilliance of enlightenment. Maybe some will hoot and holler and say "Big Deal!", but in reply I'd say, "Yes, it is a big deal and here's why."

I was born and raised in Kansas, and still live in it. Although the state does have some fame through wheat and sunflowers, a big military base, movies, a few famous sons and daughters, and notorious murders, it still is as I am fond of saying, "The Middle of Nowhere, USA." Before the turn of this century, life in Kansas was very cloistered. It still is to a large extent, but due to the explosion of this new Age of Information, undoubtedly that will change. Cloistered from the outside world due to a lack of any kind of genuine alternative news sources other than right-wing radio and corporate print and broadcast media, my fellow Kansans and I grew up conservative socially and politically, and with a strong tendency, which I still prefer to follow, to Mind Our Own Business. If you think this isn't true, read the book. I highly recommend it.

Now, I could go on further in this vein of thought, but that is fodder for another essay. I'll end with some further personal history.

As I noted above, I was born in Kansas, in Horton, a small town a few miles away from where my parents lived in an even smaller town. My dad was a kid from south Georgia, not far from the Okefenokee, and my mom a girl from a farming family in eastern Nebraska. They met in Omaha at a USO dance as dad was ending his Navy career at the tail end of WW 2, and may I add a further note, they recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. I'm the oldest of 7 and I turn 59 next month. 4 of my brothers served in the military, Army and Navy, but the farthest I got in that direction was a semester of ROTC at college. The University of Nebraska, if you want to know. I grew up helping my grandpa summers on his farm south of Horton. Best time of my life, if you ask me.

My chosen career is teacher of the Lingua Romana Antiqua, AKA Latin. Not necessarily chosen, but maybe more "fallen into". I've retired as of this past spring, but I plan to continue teaching part time. I can't afford not to, to tell you the truth. A really bland biography compared to the adventures of the rest of the crew here, but I have travelled a bit. When I told my advisor in school of my plans, I remember him laughing as he said, "Prepare to travel then." Which I have done. My first position was in Philadelphia for 3 years, a year in Amherst Virginia, 3 more in Abilene KS, 20 in Salina KS and 6 more where I am now. I've also taught Greek and know a bit of the modern language.

A bit of the credit for making me what I am now, politically, needs to be given to the literary denizens of Intel-Dump. The more I read there and elsewhere, and compared, the more "educated" in world affairs I became. Part of that is also due to Swimming the Bosphorus, part due to the catastrophes of Nine-Eleven and the 8 years of "Dubya", and just simply living in America.

So what am I? A very partisan Democrat, politically. I don't think I have changed that much in other respects, but I became active in local politics during the 2003/04 presidential campaign for Kerry/Edwards. However, I was very much the Deaniac from the start and I'm the local Democratic rabblerouser, the duly elected Precinct Committeeman for my area. So therefore, a lot of my posts here, as long as I can keep my stool at the bar, will be about politics. But I have other interests too, as you can see from the short bio behind my name here. I like to post at the message board TORC a lot, I've been a big fan of Tolkien since my UNL days and I post there as "basil" if any would like to drop by to say "nemarie". Watch your language!

Other topics from me will be on education, religion, language, history, maybe a book or 2 and a movie review.

I hope you'll like what I offer. Pax Vobiscum, homines egregii!


  1. Does Horton hear a who, as well as a "what"? :)

    Before I read further, I thought, "Wow, that cat is full of grace and serenity" -- behold!

    Congrats to your parents -- when I think of Kansas, I think of them. I am glad you are a member here. I so enjoyed everyone's voice at IntelDump -- what a unique gathering, as shall this be.

    Since you are a fantasy fan, I imagine you may also read at Armchair General? (He provides a combo of sci-fi and military bits.)

    I don't know much Latin, so I imagine you are wishing "Peace to your homies" at the end? :) Peace back at you, brother.

  2. "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore."

    But you are, Basil, and it wears well. What a terrific introduction. As I've told the others, I don't care if you're military or not. I only care if you've got your shit together. You, my friend, have always had it together. Your introduction has given me some insight as to how all that happened.

    I have to say I'm very pleased with how FDChief's inspiration has worked out. And I'm looking forward to your prose, my friend.

    Also envy you. Never got a cat past 14. I still miss my little friends.

  3. Thank you kindly for your kind comments, friends.

    Lisa, Soror Callidissima, ( Most Clever Sister! ), you had it mostly.

    Peace be with you all, Outstanding ( could be Notorious as well :) ) Folks!

    I know, Publius. Sometimes I wish cats were more like parrots and live at least as long as we do. But then, maybe we'd miss out on more of the li'l darlins.


  4. Welcome, basil. Looking forward to reading your ideas and growing in understanding together; as Seneca would say, Homines, dum docent, discunt.

  5. basilbeast-

    Nice introduction.