Saturday, February 01, 2003

Biographies and photographs

of the seven astronauts. At the Boston Globe.
Linked to this column six days ago

and today's events cause us to turn to it again. The beginning of Jeff Jacoby's Jan. 22 piece mentions an Israeli pilot-turned-astronaut named Ilan Ramon, who did the civilized world a very great favor in 1981, and who was apparently lost along with 6 Americans in today's space shuttle explosion. May they rest in peace.

on Nelson Mandela's mischievous moral stupidity.
Southern conservatives are racist. Northern progressives are not.

Or so they say.

Via Rosa Mystica. A New Jersey school board published three versions of a "guide for parents" -- the English version, the Spanish version, and the African-American version. That last was basically the English version, shorn of polysyllables.
Schoolteachers must correct papers

with green ink, says an educator from across the pond. Red ink, you see, has negative connotations, and the sight of too much red ink could traumatize a child. Via The Rat.

Well, it's the same change that Far Left politicians have made in recent years. They're no longer Reds, they're Greens.
Are the Jesuits Catholic?
or are they ... AmChurch in excelsis?

Via Disordered Affections. From the Weekly Standard. A review of a book on the Society called "Passionate Uncertainty."

Boston's Jesuit Urban Center is mentioned in the course of the review, as having been cited in the local gay gazette as one of the best places to meet a mate. As one of my fellow Bay State bloggers said a while back : "Lavender without pretense."

Karl Rahner is mentioned, as someone who says that loyalty to the papacy is "part of our heritage," but who hints that the papacy might evolve into something, well, different -- as the reviewer, Paul Shaughnessy, asks, with more vexation, perhaps, than generosity : Into what? Pope Chelsea XII?

One Jesuit opines that the Church is being run by thugs; another, that His Holiness John Paul II is "the worst pope of all time. Don't misquote me."

Are the Jesuits Catholic? Are Democrats pro-life? The answer is the same. Some are, but I'm afraid, very few.
Joe Fitzgerald

on the retirement of a "miraculous" priest, forty-seven years in ordained ministry, who nearly died in 1971. The priest credits not only modern medicine, but also the prayers and solicitude of a legendary Boston Redemptorist, with having plucked him from the snare. The column -- an interview, really -- also contrasts the differences between 1956 and 2003, in terms of reaction to young men who sense a vocation to the priesthood.

Friday, January 31, 2003

Howard Dean is Big Brother

Found at chirp. Pro-abortion Vermont governor has "an initiative" (is it law?) that the family of every newborn in the state of Vermont will receive a visit from a state social worker within two weeks of the infant's birth. Presumably, if the dumb parents were not helped by such government tutelage, they'd be tempted to boil the child in oil.

Of course, if the mother wanted to stick a knife in the child's neck in the eighth or ninth month of gestation, the benevolent State wouldn't interfere.

This is why many people hate the Left. Viva hate!
Democratic toothbrushes!

I could explain that , but ... nah ...

Added yestreen to Places Oft Visited : Disordered Affections.
Allen Tate

Although there are some readers, of pains-takingly "correct" politics, who would accuse me of reactionary sentiment (oh, no!) and who would clamor for the suspension of my right to vote on the basis of what I'm about to say, I'll say it anyway.

Ode to the Confederate Dead is an awesome poem.

Read it (aloud, if possible) and see why.

The language of the beginning of the poem is more Latinate than Virgil, and yet it works. Paradoxical phrases like "casual sacrament" and "seasonal eternity" enhance this reader's pleasure considerably.

A sample of some lines toward the end :

What shall we who count our days and bow
Our heads with a commemorial woe
In the ribboned coats of grim felicity,
What shall we say of the bones, unclean,
Whose verdurous anonymity will grow?
The ragged arms, the ragged heads and eyes
Lost in these acres of the insane green?
The gray lean spiders come, they come and go;
In a tangle of willows without light
The singular screech-owl's tight
Invisible lyric seeds the mind
With the furious murmur of their chivalry.
Ashbery's promiscuous orchestrations

Am linking to a review of his newest book, Chinese Whispers. I used to read him quite a bit about a decade ago, but now find him to be a most unsalutary phenomenon & a dangerous influence.

Still, he's fun on some level. I still take his books out of the library, from time to time, for much the same reason that Alicia Keys watches the more annoying hip-hop videos : to know what civilization is up against; to lament the lunacies of the age; to deplore the resolute triviality of an indisputably clever man. To be entertained and vexed at the same time.
Possibly upcoming
not for sure ...

More poetry talk : Ashbery, Tate (Allen, not Nahum), and a brief informal meditation on formalism & personality.

Spiritual reading : from Eastern Orthodoxy, most likely.

Merton : his 88th birthday would have been today.
Just thought I'd check my blog

to see if I've posted anything since last night. Have I?

Thursday, January 30, 2003

A small annoyance, true ...
but if people can go on about "nukular"

I love people who don't "embed" their links in comment boxes.

You know, someone who'll put a link that's longer than the Boston Marathon in a comment-box?

... impairing the readability of the other comments, by warping the size & shape of the window!

Here's a hint : "a href" those links !!!
The Administration vs the Poetburo

Not even close : I'm with the White House on this one. A planned poetry symposium to have taken place at the White House has been cancelled, because the poets were going to tell the President how much they don't like his policies.


This is, selon moi, a perfectly acceptable pronunciation of the word nuclear. Seven syllables, four beats.

But nuclear pronunciation is just one of the enticingly droll aspects of this litany of "impromptus" by one Jay Nordlinger, of National Review.

Other highlights : A convincingly unconventional choice for the most charming Democrat; and a new name for that holiday in December.
Celebrity gossip

[post deleted]
Let me clear my throat!
Kick it over here, baby! Pop?

Bishop of the month for January goes to Archbishop Myers of Newark, who recently made a decision regarding the discontinuance of allowing eulogies at funeral Masses in his diocese. Whether that was the right decision or the wrong decision, popular or unpopular, I applaud Archbishop Myers for making a decision and for acting, as he saw it, for the good of the Church, and for maintaining the solemnity of Catholic obsequies.

We have heard much praise of Bishop Weigand of Sacramento for his having rebuked the pro-abortion governor of his state, Joseph Graham Davis. Some of this praise is understandable. We don't often hear bishops being even rhetorically confrontational.

But will there be, we wonder, a disciplinary consequence of any kind for Gov. Davis? We are not optimistic.

And a question lurking in the background is : Why are bishops sometimes rambunctiously decisive about small matters, and flinch from making the tougher decisions on the more urgent matters? One would think that a professedly Catholic governor militating against Church teaching on the sanctity of innocent life constitutes a somewhat graver crisis than a eulogy that goes five minutes too long, or the decision to incorporate "Danny Boy" into the music of the funeral Mass.

I maintain that Bishop Weigand has done little more than loudly and impatiently clear his throat, in a futile effort to get the attention -- or to effectuate the repentance? -- of Governor Davis. We have seen and heard things like this, and things a bit stronger, before : the late Cardinal O'Connor on Geraldine Ferraro, and Archbishop Hannan on Mary Landrieu. The thing is, it has been but rhetoric. Good, necessary rhetoric. But when bishops have the power to issue a disciplinary decree (i.e., public excommunication), why are they afraid of this option?

I proffer this penultimate thought somewhat delicately. Hasn't the Church learned, in recent years, that it doesn't do much good in the long run to be overly hospitable to phenomena that militate against virtue, to misconstrue charity as a culpable tolerance of mischief?

On excommunication, some might say : The politicians have done it to themselves, so a declaration of excommunication would be superfluous. Uh-uh. The pols need to know that they've excommunicated themselves, and the country needs to know that about some things, the Catholic Church means business.
Also from the library

The Poet's Handbook, by Judson Jerome. A fairly ample volume on technique. The poet wishes urgently to impress upon the reader of his Handbook that, yes, despite what you may have heard, there is technique involved in writing poetry; that most poetry is metrical, and rehearsed. It is not, he says with some asperity, a matter of spontaneous effusion.

The late Mr Jerome seems to have been a man with a salutary skepticism about the fashionable, to the point of being sharp and even sarcastic. This is not a non-partisan Poet's Handbook! Jerome is a formalist, as is every poet when you come right down to it (a poet is someone who makes, who is concerned with form, who shapes the language; and the most resolute of anti-formalists has an obsession with form, is perhaps more vexed by the problem of form than your average metrician). Jerome is blunt in this book. He shows us an excerpt from the work of Paul Blackburn, and gives us his verdict that it is forgotten as soon as it is read. He asks whether a poem by Denise Levertov -- not one who fought shy of the unconventional line-break -- wouldn't have been better off as a single-paragraph prose-poem. He rearranges Amy Lowell, and concedes that his rearrangement can't really help matters.

I've only read a few pages, but this looks like a good one.

Oh, yes -- what, pray, do you imagine Judson Jerome's attitude toward E. E. Cummings was? He seems to have been quite "pro." Jerome insists, rightly, that in his most radical rearrangements of type, Cummings was not casual and not "spontaneous." He governed his language quite well ... and, Jerome reminds us, Cummings wrote many sonnets -- and verse as intricately metrical as anything by Sidney or Herrick.

The Poet's Handbook is no mere reactionary protest or polemic against the Beats (or against what Donald Hall has called the McPoem). It's a positive and salutary reminder that poetry is a craft, that it is conscious, that it is art and artifice. That although we are all poets in a certain sense (whether we make metaphor as adults or babble sounds for our own pleasure as children), there are certain things that can be learned, and are worth learning.
Patriot. Anti-elitist. Likable guy.

Took out of the library Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think by Chris Matthews (The Free Press, 2001).

He's especially good on the differences between the two candidates in the 2000 presidential contest. One quip about W vs. Gore : "The debate audience preferred the notion of having a guy in the White House who often spoke English as if it were his second language to one who spoke to us as if English were our second language."

And he has an interesting method of predicting future Presidential elections: "Look for the man with the sun in his face."

He cites the sunny optimism of FDR, and JFK -- the robust bumptiousness of Harry Truman -- the likable war hero Ike -- Jimmy Carter in '76, cultivating the persona of the folksy peanut farmer -- the deftly quipping, photogenically smiling (stern when he had to be) Ronald Reagan, chopping wood at his ranch into his 70s -- etc.

And then he says, Okay. Now think of Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Jimmy Carter in '80, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore. They were born behind desks.

This theory (sunny, outdoors folksiness beats bureaucratic condescension) strikes me as pretty damn sound.

Look at the last contest again : It was something akin to a battle between two "fusion tickets" : Truman & Ike on one side, Stevenson & Dewey on the other.

Matthews' test (the man with the sun in his face) is remarkably similar to mine own. The 2-John test. Here it is :

In your mind's eye, picture John Wayne. Then picture John Mellencamp. Then combine the two, somehow.

Whichever candidate is closer to the Wayne/Mellencamp hybrid, that candidate will win.

But getting back to Matthews, for a man with impeccable Democratic credentials (his dad, though, a Republican), and for someone who remains pro-choice on abortion, it's amazing how often he makes sense. The personality -- and perhaps the thinking on some issues -- is much closer to the 43rd President than to the 42nd. Matthews is patriotic, unelitist, suspicious of a tutorial or overgoverning government. Deeply offended by the casual dishonesty that was the atmosphere at 1600 for most of the nineties. Very sharp on Clinton. And always, eminently quotable.

Matthews on the current President Bush : "Every time you lower the bar on this fellow, the easier it becomes for him to clear it."
Breakfast at Falco's

I need my coffee in the morning to get fully waked
Because at work I cannot take a flipping coffee-break
I need my donut, need my muffin, need my scrambled eggs
Or else I cannot move my arms and cannot move my legs

I need a cup o' joe, I need a slice of toast
I need some crullers, too, 'cause I like them the most
But then I hear the voice of something like a coffee-roll
That says "you know you want me; come on, eat me, I'm a Danish!"

I'm a Danish, I'm a Danish ...
The 1970s
and one from the early eighties

"Barney ... Barney ... Barney ... is your mother from Killarney?"
-- Det. Nick Yemana (Jack Soo) in Barney Miller

"Do you take cream and sugar in your eye?"
-- Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) to Sammy Davis, Jr. in All in the Family

"Sit down, you criminal person."
-- Det. Philip Fish (Abe Vigoda) in Barney Miller

"Hey! Sharp as a tack!"
-- Det. Ron Harris (Ron Glass) in Barney Miller

"Certainly! You take the blonde, and I'll take the one in the turban."
-- Igor (Marty Feldman) in Young Frankenstein

"You have my permission to marry him."
-- Ralph Marolla (Barney Martin) in Arthur

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Three women
New Revised Standard Version

Scratch Sandra Day O'Connor. Replace her with Serena Williams.

I like the idea of the three most powerful women in the country all being black. (And none of them named Maxine!)

Happy birthday, Oprah! (The crawl on CNN Headline News: Emmy-winner & icon Oprah Winfrey turns 49 today.)

Icon! ICON !!
Surreal headlines

Headlines of the four articles on the front page of The Back Bay Courant, a weekly gazette serving the aforementioned section of the Hub :

Eat Your Veggies

Local Hospital Wants Biowarfare Laboratory

Newbury St. May Get Public Toilet

O - o - o - o - o - ohhhhhh - kay

Bit of trouble this a.m., getting to the 'edit your blog' page, & bit of trouble seeing all but the four or five most recent posts at the blogspot address. Have things been remedied?

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

But ...

(see post immediately below ...)

that's power as the world sees it ...

:: :: :: :: ::

I wonder if there isn't more power for the good in an anonymous eighty-plus-year-old nun in an inner-city convent, praying for the whole damn creation & brightening the day of whomever she glimpses!

I am slightly acquaint with just such a nun, who seems younger & is joyfuller than my tristful self.

I'm having a slight bout of optimism & good cheer; please forgive me. A ray of hope has pierced the darkness, & illuminated the soul with something approximating an insight.

It'll soon pass, & I'll resume being cantankerous.

But what matters more in the great scheme of things -- the prayers of Sister Mary Lucas (pseudonym) or the pronouncements of judges and media titans?

Well I wonder.

Sister ML told me once that she met the foundress of her order, now a canonized saint of the ecclesia.

So I've met someone who's met a saint! Small world, eh?
Three most powerful women in the country

Oprah. The opinion-shaping capacity, the book club, queen of all media, etc., etc.

Condoleezza Rice. Makes Margaret Thatcher seem comparatively like a museum curator in Vaduz.

For the third, I'm going to go with Sandra Day O'Connor, for the time being, because she has been so often "the swing vote" in Supreme Court decisions that affect the whole country.

(Hillary used to be on this list, and may join it again if my worst fears come true!)
Are you a liberal?

At, a list of 22 positions or propositions against which to check your ideology.

The gist is : If you don't agree with most of the positions, and you're voting Democratic -- why, in heaven's name? Why?
Same thing, different names
via chirp

1. Kleenex or tissue?

Kleenex, methinks.

2. Soda or pop (or tonic or whatever)?

Brand name or type (coke, ginger ale). Never "pop"; sometimes (Bostonian, remember?) "tonic."

3. A sandwich on a long roll: sub or hero (or hoagie or grinder, etc)?


4. Glasses or spectacles?


5. TV or television (or boob-tube, or telly, for our friends across the pond)?

TV, sometimes television, rarely the others.

6. Movie or film?

Movie mostly, film or flick sometimes. Cinematograph, anyone? Emphasis on the "mat."

7. Sofa or couch?


8. Stove or range?


9. Remote control or clicker?

Remote. Sans "control."

10. Supermarket or grocery store?

Name of supermarket (Star Market, Shaw's, etc.)
Three modern converts

An article by Tim Drake in the National Catholic Register. By way of the blogger at Disordered Affections.

I smiled upon learning that a young tree in bloom along the Charles River played a part, however small, in the conversion of Avery Dulles!
The New American Bible translators
have a whack at Clement Clarke Moore

(Complete "translation" to be released in December 2003 ...)

It was the vigil of December 25th :
      and audible within the abode,
No stirring creature, not a single one,
      tiny rodents being no exception.

Hosiery of red, carefully tacked into place,
      dangled from the mantel-edge
Happily expecting, eagerly awaiting
      Nicholas's canonized arrival.

Tucked securely under the sheets
      were the small fry,
Haunted by the cranial choreography
      of spectral fruit-snacks.

For a glacial forty winks
      our minds became mute,
My wife, who was wearing a bandanna,
      and in my night-cap, I.
A bit of Markham

The smack and tang of elemental things:
The rectitude and patience of the cliff;
The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves;
The friendly welcome of the wayside well;
The courage of the bird that dares the sea;
The gladness of the wind that shakes the corn;
The pity of the snow that hides all scars;
The secrecy of streams that make their way
Beneath the mountain to the rifted rock;
The tolerance and equity of light [...]

Did a woman write the Odyssey?

Samuel Butler says yes; The Rat says no.

Am linking to this post because I sense the obligation to link to any blogger who mentions the poet and translator Robert Fitzgerald, however en passant the mentioning of him might be. Fitzgerald (1910-85) translated both of Homer's epics and the Aeneid.

There's something uniquely satisfying about unshaky, well-wrought blank verse.

Stop me before I blog the entirety of Edwin Markham's Lincoln, the Man of the People!

:: :: :: :: ::


On a much more serious note. See the same blogger on her recent reading of a book about North Korean gulags, The Aquariums of Pyongyang.
Highlight of my Sunday

Hearing Chad (Hill Harper) sing the sean nos song in the ultracharming 1998 film The Nephew ... have seen the film many times before; was glad to see this part of the film yet again ...

1. Who are the three most powerful women in the USA?

2. Who is the Bishop of the Month for January 2003?

I believe I am owed reparations for the ghastly treatment endured by the Poles at the hands of the National Socialists and Communists during the 20th century. I don't have a drop of Polish blood in me, but my ancestors did come from Europe, which is the continent where Poland can be found.
The mind is an enchanting thing

is an enchanted thing
      like the glaze on a
            subdivided by sun
            till the nettings are legion.
Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti;

like the apteryx-awl
      as a beak, or the
kiwi's rain-shawl
            of haired feathers, the mind
            feeling its way as though blind,
walks with its eyes on the ground.

It has memory's ear
      that can hear without
having to hear.
            Like the gyroscope's fall,
            truly unequivocal
because trued by regnant certainty,

it is a power of
      strong enchantment. It
is like the dove-
            neck animated by
            sun; it is memory's eye;
it's conscientious inconsistency.

It tears off the veil; tears
      the temptation, the
mist the heart wears,
            from its eyes -- if the heart
            has a face; it takes apart
dejection. It's fire in the dove-neck's

iridescence; in the
of Scarlatti.
            Unconfusion submits
            its confusion to proof; it's
not a Herod's oath that cannot change.

-- Marianne Moore (1887-1972). See The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore (Penguin, 1982), pp. 134-5.
The Blogg-watch Queene
elle se trouve ici

    The Signorina sings of watching blogs
    In cadences she borrows from the Smiths;
    Now Spenser's epic comes; the blogger clogs
    Her page with eighties tunes and lyric myths :
    There's not an excellence she's apt to miss;
    She'll guide you to a spate of lively prose
    With sharpish barbs, with mischievous verbal twists,
    With antic dithyrambs -- anything goes! --
With wit as pointed as the thorns upon the rose.
High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922-1941)

Oft have I slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the Face of God.

:: :: :: :: ::

Lines from this poem were quoted by President Reagan in a memorial speech following the Challenger space-shuttle disaster, seventeen years ago today, January 28, 1986.
Rock me, Amadeus!
Mozart's birthday yesterday

Er war ein Punker und er lebte in der großen Stadt
Es war in Wien, war Vienna, wo er alles tat
Er hatte Schulden, denn er trank, doch ihn liebten alle Frauen
Und jede rief: come and rock me Amadeus

Er war ein Superstar, er war so populär
Er war so exaltiert, because er hatte Flair
Er war ein Virtuose, war ein Rockidol
Und alles rief: come and rock me Amadeus

Amadeus, Amadeus...

Es war um 1780 und es war in Wien
No plastic money anymore, die Banken gegen ihn
Woher die Schulden kamen, war wohl jedermann bekannt
Er war ein Mann der Frauen, Frauen liebten seinen Punk

Er war ein Superstar, er war so populär
Er war zu exaltiert, genau das war sein Flair
Er war ein Virtuose, war ein Rockidol
Und alles sucht noch heute: come on, rock me Amadeus

Amadeus, Amadeus...

Monday, January 27, 2003

I am not Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
but that's no excuse

In a prayer-booklet somewhere in this library of a room, there is a beautiful enthusiastic sincere personal deeply devoted Morning Offering composed by the French Carmelite. It is how she began her day, every day.

It is an instructive and rebuking contrast to how I begin my day. Usually with a groan, a deep sigh of ingratitude, and a three-word exclamation which I shall not reveal here. Suffice it to say, it's not Hosanna in excelsis or My Jesus, mercy or even Good morning, God!

The unprayerfulness is becoming somewhat pronounced.

But at 5.08 this morning, give or take a few microseconds, more than half-asleep but with some startling premonitory twinges in the chest, prayer was made. Briefly, instantly, fervently.

Got up. Walked around a bit. The pain went away.

I should note, too, that I've lately been in the habit of attending Sunday Mass about once every 600 centuries (please make allowances for hyperbole). My logic is, if I want to watch Barney, it's on PBS. And perhaps more seriously : A dominical celebration of the Eucharist shouldn't have to involve blocking out eighty percent of what's going on in the church. I don't really like my parish.

Still, even as I make excuses for the dominical truancy (grave matter, the Church tells us) I must acknowledge and confess : the prayer isn't there during the rest of the week. An occasional perusal of the Psalms, and petitionary prayer for those in St Blog's who have asked for it. Or a somnambulistic recitation of the Rosary, interrupted before the second decade by sleep.

I wonder if I believe in heaven.

I see the joy of other Christians, and marvel at it.

I see zeal and compassion, and nod approvingly ... but have not a whit of it myself.

There are things that rather need changing, course-directions that rather want reversal, addictions to various & sundry things (perhaps most toxically, the habit of complaint) that hinder one from seeing the Light in which one has publicly professed to believe.

There are those dreadful Saturdays.

There's the Francis Thompson line that comes to one, of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot.

There's the Smiths lyric, To pretend to be happy could only be idiocy.

There is resentment. There are grudges.
Bill O'Reilly
at Jewish World Review

nails George Clooney to the wall.
If anyone bristles

at the Osbournes' language, you should hear me when the computer is functioning -- when the internet is moving -- at "Come on, Dover" pace.
This post

has been deleted.
Very. Wise. Answer. Indeed.

Gregg the Obscure in the comment-box below, answering the Eminem-vs-Bill Clinton question :

Clinton – while both have been responsible for the ruin of many lives, most of Clinton’s nefarious influence won’t be so lasting. Rappers eviscerate the consciences of untold millions, with little hope for future recovery.

A sentiment echoed by one of the brighter young talents in the recording industry :

Oh my God, the [hip-hop] videos! The imagery is so awful! I just can't get with it at all. The best thing I can say about it is that sometimes you have to see that kind of stuff so as to have a more balanced view about why it's so bad.

The newly 22-year-old (as of Saturday) Alicia Keys, offering her opinion on the use of women, sex, and sleaze in today's rap/hip-hop videos. (Via her bio page at the Internet Movie Database.)

Knew I liked her for a reason.
Who's cooler? (my answers)

1. Will Smith or Denzel Washington?

"In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days." One is mystified by the "at his name every knee shall bend" tone of voice wherewith the elder fellow is often praised. He is the National Homework, the State Religion. And charm & a sense-of-humor do tip the scales somewhat decisively in Mr Smith's favor. Plus, Will Smith is a miracle worker. He has taken rap, a genre that is on balance as benign as a swastika made of anthrax, and made it ... charming. Even though some would use the word "domesticated" or "harmless" as a pejorative. With DW, I've always gotten something of a personality vibe. I use the word "personality" Obliquely.

2. Alan Greenspan or Steve Forbes?

I can listen to Steve without falling asleep. Although AG is too sexy for his shirt, I choose Forbes.

3. Marcel Proust or Monty Python?

Haven't read Proust. But if I did, I'd wager he wouldn't be as enticing or entertaining as the Python sketch in which game-show contestants are asked to summarize A la recherche du temps perdu in 15 seconds or less. Besides which : My hovercraft is full of eels.

4. Kevin Spacey or Kevin Bacon?

Hamlet or Richie Cunningham? Wallace Stevens or Edna St Vincent Millay? Spacey, by furlongs if not leagues.

5. Tony the Tiger or Charlie the Tuna?

"I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus's garden, in the shade." He's big, he's blue, he's subaqueous.

6. Matt Damon or Ben Affleck?

The talented Mr Damon. Largely on the strength of Ripley.

7. Nomar Garciaparra or Derek Jeter?

On the basis of being Bostonian, in part, but really, whose name is more fun to say?


8. Robert Herrick or George Herbert?

I'm more familiar with George Herbert. He seems to have a greater number of poems that immediately magnetize our mind and implicate our attention. But Mr Riddle's preference for Herrick is by no means to be discounted, and causes me to wonder if I've read Herrick with sufficient thoroughness.

9. Alfre Woodard or Halle Berry?

Halle Berry is an able actress, from whom one doesn't easily avert the eye. But there's a regal quality to Alfre Woodard that the glossy magazines miss. She is the queen of my heart and the empress of my soul. Plus, I was disaffected, a bit, by something Ms Berry said in an interview. (Ditto Alfre Woodard, but with Halle, the damage was more lasting. Odd, when you consider I remember Alfre's remarks, but don't remember Halle's.)

10. Luke Spencer or Sonny Corinthos?

Sonny's handsomer, you might even say sexier if you were inclined to think in those terms, but he reminds me against my will of The Fonz. I half expect him to snap his fingers, and have cheerleaders gravitate toward him like iron filings to a magnet. Lucas Lorenzo Spencer is much more multifaceted, and on occasion scarier than Sonny. On frequent occasion. Luke just might be the greatest character in soap opera history.

11. Eminem or Bill Clinton?

I can conceive of a politician worse than Bill Clinton. I can listen to Bill Clinton for longer than five seconds without feeling as if I am undergoing the tortures of the damned. He did excel at the ceremonial aspects of the presidency. I think of his reading of Psalm 1 at Oklahoma City, or of Sir Stephen Spender's "I think continually of those who were truly great" at the funeral for Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. I want Eminem to develop a lifelong career-ending case of laryngitis.

12. Jamie Buchman or Debra Barone?

No bloody contest. Jamie Buchman, especially from the earlier years of Mad About You. I dream of Debra Barone quite often. She's standing on the 15-yard-line of a football gridiron. Ray comes along & kicks her through the uprights, a field goal for which more than three points should be awarded!

13. Bob Dole or Pat Moynihan?

This one makes Jamie & Debra seem close. Bob Dole was the first man in American history to resign the Presidency without having been elected to it. He just can't win, and he doesn't win here. Imagine, if you will, a Clinton/Moynihan primary in 1996. Wouldn't that have been nothing short of great? And don't we owe Pat a debt of thanks for -- unwittingly? -- helping Rudy win the '93 NYC mayor's race? Moynihan's artice on "defining deviancy down" was, for all purposes & intents, Giuliani's campaign speech. And for many more reasons than the ones just cited, acknowledging that no one's perfect & that there are cases where Dole had the right view and Moynihan the wrong view.

14. Marianne Moore or Elizabeth Bishop?

Marianne, for the Complete Prose, most especially. My veneration for Miss Moore was one time as great as some other bloggers' veneration for Cardinal Newman. She has her disaffecting points. But I'd rather read a Marianne Moore review of a book by Elizabeth Bishop than read Elizabeth Bishop. I think, if I may venture to say so, that Elizabeth Bishop would agree with my preference for Miss Moore, whilst taking obvious issue with some of my reasonings.
Fred Reed's latest

A mite jaundiced, and perhaps more than a mite. When he writes "I do not oppose racial discrimination against blacks" (I read the sentence ten times before I was certain I was reading right), I can see why.

You see, he's fed up. He's fed up with aggressive racial chauvinism, and African-Americans today are (I'll phrase the matter primly, politely, temperately) not guiltless of this particular form of intransigent unbenevolence. He doesn't favor discrimination against blacks, but he can no longer bring himself to care whether a complaint about racism made by an individual African-American, or a group of blacks, is legitimate.

You become what you behold, one might say. If you see blacks fanatically attached with left-wing politics in a way that makes James Carville seem equivocal and unobnoxious, and if you see a racial self-interest that is hardly less culpable than that of Eugene "Bull" Connor, it does deplete the available supply of your tallerwince & thenthitivity.

When you see a commentator write that a pair of judges recently nominated by the President are "no friends of the community," simply because they are not slavishly obeisant to the divisive lunacies of the African-American left (Quotas in perpetuity! Reparations now!), a certain, uhm, disgruntlement can creep in to the tenor of your rhetoric.

While some of this latest Fred rant is a bit much, even for the paleolithically neanderthal likes of me, it is cheering to know that someone is talking about the things we shouldn't talk about. In a manner that is, as always, effervescent, provocative, and cheerfully pessimistic.
George Will
via the B from the C

has a few questions ... 15 at the end of this column ... intended to promote intellectual diversity.

Something sorely needed in our universities, and in other precincts of our society.

A sampling of Will's questionnaire :

The Supreme Court's principal function is (a) to wield the Constitution as a living document to right all wrongs (b) to protect the Second Amendment.

U.S. policy toward Iraq should be: (a) give peace a chance (b) pave it.

Were you home schooled?

Do you watch Fox News Channel?

America's coolest anchorman is (a) Tom Brokaw (b) Dan Rather (c) Peter Jennings (d) Brit Hume.

Do you read National Review while listening to Rush Limbaugh?

America's worst failing is (a) racism (b) sexism (c) inequality (d) imperialism (e) respect for the United Nations.

[dylan says : a tie between (e) and (f) Colin Powell continues to be Secretary of State]

Who is the more plausible president: (a) Martin Sheen of "The West Wing"? (b) John Edwards of North Carolina? (c) Any of the Dixie Chicks?
Who's cooler?

Pray, avoid ties. And maybe, if you feel the need to, add a brief word explaining/justifying your choice.

Some may not recognize all the pairings in this baker's dozen (plus one for good luck) of non-lethal duels; so, leave blanks if you must. Or pick one anyway, based on a total lack of knowledge!

1. Will Smith or Denzel Washington?
2. Alan Greenspan or Steve Forbes?
3. Marcel Proust or Monty Python?
4. Kevin Spacey or Kevin Bacon?
5. Tony the Tiger or Charlie the Tuna?
6. Matt Damon or Ben Affleck?
7. Nomar Garciaparra or Derek Jeter?
8. Robert Herrick or George Herbert?
9. Alfre Woodard or Halle Berry?
10. Luke Spencer or Sonny Corinthos?
11. Eminem or Bill Clinton?
12. Jamie Buchman or Debra Barone?
13. Bob Dole or Pat Moynihan?
14. Marianne Moore or Elizabeth Bishop?

Sunday, January 26, 2003

You are not reading this

There are no words here.
that friday five thing which i easily confuse with monday mission and which i almost never do and which i'm doing incredibly late considering it's called friday five

1. What is one thing you don't like about your body?

Not suitable for either marathon running or gymnastics. Or defying gravity.

2. What are two things you love about your body?

Sixteen stone of pure man. And it's able to do most everyday things.

3. What are three things you want to change about your home?

Nothing. As for changing the world outside of it, where does one begin?

4. What are four books you want to read this year?

Want to reacquire volume 6 of the Merton journals. Leadership, by Rudolph W. Giuliani. The Sheen bio that came out a year or so ago. And something funny (maybe I'll reread Moab)!

5. What are five promises you have kept to yourself?

Can't think of that many. The ones that require a minimum of effort. Like not voting for presidential candidates from the world's oldest and most juvenile party.
A Bacon Number of 4 !!

In case you're interested.
This post

has disappeared.
Jeff Jacoby

Musings, random and otherwise

The 1981 incident he describes, in which Israel did us all a huge favor by destroying an Iraqi nuclear reactor, was something I found out about just last night by reading George Will!

Here's a point to ponder :

When homicidal tyrants are appeased instead of crushed, when their lust for the tools of genocide is met with words instead of deeds, young artists eventually die in concentration camps.
I was trying for Winchester
for obvious reasons

but this'll do just fine.

Click here to take the M*A*S*H quiz!
An essay on conservatism
in three sentences

Conservatism is civilization's memory.

Conservatism is civilization's conscience.

Conservatism is civilization's immune system.

:: :: :: :: ::

These thoughts may be expatiated and expanded upon, presently. But can anyone suggest other facets of, or ways of looking at, conservatism?
George F. Will

With a Happy Eye, But ... : America and the World 1997-2002

Only about a quarter of the way through. Resumed reading yestreen after a week or two of putting it to the side.

He quotes Mark Twain in one column : Twain once said he'd like to live in Manchester, England because there, the transition to death would be less noticeable.

He quotes Francis Fukuyama in another column (1999) as having said that "human history is no longer being driven by passionate differences." Will warned, yes, we've had a good decade, but a decade is a blip in "human history."

A glance at the index of the book shows five references to "Twain, Mark" and eleven to "Moynihan, Daniel Patrick."

Also worthy of mention :

A post-9/11 column in which Will says that the Administration should ration its use of two words : "justice" and "tragedy."

We are not going to "bring the terrorists to justice," as that implies a juridical proceeding in which a robed man wields a gavel, and a jury decides the fate of the accused. We are going to fight a war, and destroy our enemies.

As for "tragedy," it implies impersonal forces (San Francisco earthquake, plane crash) or Sophoclean or Shakespearean drama. This was an attack, on our soil, by our enemies. In which 3100 innocents were slaughtered.

Must we, Will wonders, be perpetually squeamish about using the right language?

A short-lived sitcom of, what, five or six years ago? featuring Rhea Perlman as Pearl, a 40-something working-class gal who "goes back to college," and Malcolm McDowell as her magnificently supercilious English professor, Dr Pynchon.

One day, Pearl tells Dr Pynchon that she's been reading Thomas Moore, the poet who wrote Irish Melodies. Pynchon winces in pained disbelief :

"Thomas Moore? Thomas Moore?? John Keats could eat alphabet soup and expel better poetry than Thomas Moore!"
Bourgeois Bohemian Tanka
in sequins

Humanize your world!
And visualize whirled peas,
and act karmically.

Or something like that. Dear friends,
ANSWER is not the answer.