Yes, I felt the skittling * weight of NCAA basketball descend upon The Manor over the weekend. In case I proved unresponsive to its skittling weight, out of the corners of my increasingly blind eyes there were repeated hints that La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, The Milanese Nightingale, herself, had embarked upon the annual costuming for the collegiate tournaments. Dragging her trunks of operatic stage finery into the light cast by the wide stone hearth in the Medieval Kitchen (the gathering spot for our wing within Marlinspike Hall), Bianca descended into a frenzied madness as she developed the governing rules for the Fashionable Viewer.
Unfortunately, she put most of her stylistic tenets in aggravated slavic Syldavian, a language that neither Fred nor I speak, and even less understand. A Slovak lifer who married into the Manor Domestic Dynasty Staff, Klára Králová, claims fluency -- but even so, she and The Castafiore have nearly come to blows over the translation of the Syldavian motto, Eih bennek, eih blavek. Such a disagreement among speakers wouldn't normally be a big deal (Remember: Native speakers disagree!), except that it was added, in 1234 AD, to the Haddock Family crest. As one of those annoying word ribbons draped over ancient crossed swords, believed to be the first illustrated pair of Damascus blades, Captain Haddock asserts its meaning to be: "If you gather thistles, expect prickles." (Never forget: Those who lack fluency assert!)
Some linguistic experts, and you know how they are, insist that the best approach to Syldavian is via the intricately fine grammar of the Marollien dialect, according to which Eih bennek, eih blavek means nothing less than: "Here I am, here I stay."
Marols or Marollien (also known as Brusselse Sproek, brusseler, brusseleir, brusselair or brusseleer ) was a dialect spoken in Brussels. Essentially it is a Dutch dialect incorporating many words of French origin as well as a sprinkling of Spanish dating back to the rule of the Low Countries by the Habsburgs (1519-1713). Its name refers to a district of Brussels called Marollen (Marolles), a neighborhood in the central municipality of Brussels, not far from the Palace of Justice. The district takes its name from the former abbey of the nuns Maria Colentes (Marikollen). It was a working-class neighborhood, though now it has become a fashionable part of the city. Marols is described as "totally indecipherable to the foreigner (which covers everyone not born in the Marolles) which is probably a good thing as it is richly abusive."
The Théâtre Royal de Toone in Brussels puts on puppet plays in Marols.
Yeah, so... anyway... collegiate basketball is entering the richness of tournament season, and we're feeling it here at The Manor. Duke will fall, no doubt, from its number one ranking today, but not to worry: That's exactly what we want; That's exactly what we planned on. We are peaking, in our own inimitable way, precisely when a reintroduction to humility does the greatest good.
Mala Fortuna -- Stanford Stops the Streak.
By the leavings of her search, it looks like La Bonne et Belle Bianca will be wearing a cross-section of jewel-toned satins. Oh... my.
Like the drums of Khazad Dum, rolling upward from the depths of our saline moat, we hear the beginnings of that diverse call to action, that urge to tap the toe:
* A made-up word; A "skittling weight" is what I imagine as the tactile impact of a frenetic crab climbing a human thigh -- under water. Under ocean water. [NOT a reference to cough syrup abuse.