Sunday, September 28, 2008

A day trip . . .

. . . to the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Memorial

I have a great interest in military history, so Mrs. B and I took a short trip to downtown Norfolk today to visit the MacArthur memorial for that "old soldier who just faded away."

MacArthur's biographers either hate him or love him, but there is no doubt that he was a towering figure through the first half of the 20th century.

He may have been a primadonna, but it seems that in wartime, we need them. Montgomery and Patton for instance.

The front entrance to the memorial, complete with a more-than-lifesize statue of Gen. MacArthur. I guess that's fitting. He was larger than life.

The main rotunda of the memorial is impressive, with excerpts from his speeches, flags from all the units he had under command, a history of his advancement throught the military, and his theaters of service.

MacArthur is buried with his wife Jean in a recessed area in the center of the anteroom, directly under the rotunda. William Manchester's biography, American Caesar" is well titled, as evidenced by the laurel wreath on his tomb.

I'm not sure this is MacArthur's personal uniform, but it is accurate in every detail. His citations include the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross (3), Distinguished Service Medal (4), Silver Star (3), Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and dozens of others.

Side note: His father, Arthur McArthur, was awarded the Medal of Honor for service in the Civil War.

The museum also has two of Hideki Tojo's Nihonto that were "appropriated" by MacArthur. One katana is unsigned, but believed to be late Yamato-den, Ca - 1450. The other is signed "Bishu Osafune Sukesada," and is dated February 1509. One is mounted, the other is in a shirasaya (wooden storage scabbard). Interestingly, those signed "Bishu Osafune Sukesada" are considered to be inferior, mass produced swords. They were also called bundled swords because they were sold in batches rather than individually. Essentially, considering his rank, Tojo carried a K-mart sword.

There was also a tanto in a shirsaya. However, it was stolen from the museum and a fake was put in it's place. The theft was detected when it was examined by the Japanese Sword Society for provenence. It's whereabouts is unknown.

Finn McCools . . . . . . after action report.

A new shopping center nearby opened last year, and the smaller shops have been popping up like weeds. The Skinny Dip frozen yogurt shop is great. It's serve yourself. Fill your bowl as full as you please, mix in anything you want, and pay by the ounce.

We tried that last week. This week, it was Finn McCools.

Not good.

I was hoping for a decent U.S. impersonation of an Irish Pub. It wasn't. It was more of a sports bar. Notre Dame vs. Purdue on one screen, Tennessee vs. Auburn on another.

Mrs. B ordered a chopped chicken salad. With fingers crossed, I ordered fish and chips. Mrs. B said the chicken salad was great.

The fish and chips wasn't.

It was served with tartar sauce. Mayonnaise with chopped bits of "stuff" in it. In my book, that's a hanging offense.

Luckily, the waitress had the good sense to leave a bottle of malt vinegar. I did not have to resort to violence.

The fish in fish & chips is Icelandic cod, right? Wrong. Try Pollack. Biologically, the same family. Different genus.

The batter was great. The fish was mushy, not flakey. Ick.

I couldn't get a black and tan.

Redeeming quality: all the waitresses were those pleated schoolgirl skirts and knee socks.

Sorry. That was inappropriate. I'm way too old for that. Or, maybe not.

And, I seem to have gone Brennigesque after reading his blog today. Apologies to the B-man.

Nebraska plays Virginia Tech tonight. Football - the oblong, pointy kind, not the silly kind where nobody scores points and fans kill each other or the referees, and the stars have poshy, alien-looking wives with 80 lb. bodies and 20 lb. breasts.