Programming note: Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll be hosting another audio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week on Serenade Radio in the UK at 5.30pm British Summer Time (that's 12.30pm North American Eastern/9.30am Pacific). You can listen from anywhere on the planet by clicking the button in the top right-hand corner here.
Afterwards right here at SteynOnline we will launch a brand new Tale for Our Time.
~Welcome to the penultimate installment of our ongoing weekend entertainment: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, a favorite book of Steyn readers and proving very popular in this audio serialization.
In this weekend's episode, two men with contrasting views of life, its origins and its purpose. First, a Polish pontiff:
Twenty-six years ago, one young physics student summed up the hopes he and his compatriots had invested in that Papal visit in this simple declaration: 'What I want to do is to live without being a liar.' The Soviet Union and its vassals were an empire of lies, and, while you can mitigate (as many Poles and Russians did) the gulf between the official version and grim reality with bleak jokes, living an epic lie day in day out is corrosive of human dignity. That Polish physics student had identified instinctively what would be the great over-arching theme of John Paul II's papacy: to quote the title of his later encyclical, Veritatis Splendor – the splendor of truth.
Not a lot after that with this current modish papacy.
After John Paul II, we turn our intention to the man who in his own words, to the barmaids at his pub, claimed to have discovered "the secret of life":
Francis Crick is dead and gone. He has certainly not 'passed on' - and, if he has, he'll be extremely annoyed about it. As a twelve-year old English schoolboy, he decided he was an atheist, and for much of the rest of his life worked hard to disprove the existence of the soul.
Last week's episode was also inclined to the spheres, and both the man who wanted to see what spring was like on Jupiter and Mars and the man who could have beamed you up to either prompted many reminiscences from listeners. John Cashman, a Rhode Island member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
There were several great phrases from Star Trek and I always enjoyed when they could be utilized. I did work in the construction industry.
I remember one time when we were testing the emergency generator on a project. We killed the normal electrical feed to simulate a loss of power. The emergency generator started to kick in, but was kind of burping and smoking but not fully engaging. All of a sudden one of the guys yells out Scotty I need more power. Someone else then yelled out in a perfect Scottish accent 'Captain, I am giving you all we got!'
Right after that the generator did kick in, we passed the test and had a good laugh.
John Barrett, my fellow Granite Stater from a couple of hours south of me in coastal New Hampshire, was tickled by our all but unheard second version of "Fly Me to the Moon":
I had no idea two of my favorite singers - Sinatra and Strait - had a duet 'together'.
I think Strait did himself proud; I wonder what Sinatra would have done with 'Amarillo By Morning.'
I enjoy these gems you give us.
In the mid-Seventies, John, Sinatra began work on an album of country songs - eventually abandoned, and probably wisely.
If you'd prefer something a little less meaning-of-life-ish this weekend, we have four dozen cracking capers for you over at our Tales for Our Time home page. Tales for Our Time is an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proved very popular, and is now in its fifth season.
If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo side of things, give it your best in the Comments Section below. And do join me tomorrow for the start of a brand new Tale and next weekend for the conclusion of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade.