Archives for March 2006


Off to darkest Orange County, there to chat with the folks at Loyola Press – I think they’re in town for the RTBE – about that little book of mine they published. And from there to Ojai, land of the Pink Moment, where some nights you can get your bliss on by just standing outside and inhaling, so powerful is the scent of orange blossoms. Back Sunday. As my dear friend who somehow ended up a Manhattan lawyer living in Park Slope used to say when he signed off – be good.

They Might Be Drinking

It occurred to me in the shower this morning, as I bellowed my way through my morning songlist, that They Might Be Giants is among the few pop bands (as opposed to country) I know that makes consistent, quality references to drinking. Off the top of my head:

Self-titled debut album:

Well, I ain’t feeling happy
About the state of things in my life
But I’m working to make it better
With a six of Miller High Life

– from “Alienation’s for the Rich”


Lie still, little bottle
And shake my shaky hand
Black coffee’s not enough for me
I need a better friend

– from “Lie Still, Little Bottle”


She never called me baby-doll
I never had much pride
But now I rock a barstool
And I drink for two
Just pondering this time bomb in my mind

– from “Lucky Ball and Chain”

Apollo 18:

Now let’s toast the sad, cold fact
Our love’s never coming back
And we’ll race to the bottom of a glass
So narrow your eyes

– from “Narrow Your Eyes”

John Henry:

Meet James Ensor
Belgium’s famous painter
Raise a glass and sit and stare
Understand the man

– from “Meet James Ensor” (Admittedly, the weakest reference in the bunch.)

Factory Showroom:

Full bottle in front of me
Time to roll up my sleeves
And get to work
And after many glasses of work
I get paid
In the brain

– from “Your Own Worst Enemy”

And there, alas, my love affair ends. Haven’t bought any since. But what a run! I knew there was a reason I liked these guys!

Elective surgery…

…is there any finer sign of encroaching middle age?

Got a lump carved out of my neck this morning. The wife encouraged it. I fought her on it, but when the thing grew a mouth and started talking – and I don’t know where it learned that sort of language, I swear – she suggested that I take action.

In the end, I agreed because I feared it would turn out to be more a more interesting conversationalist than myself. Trumped by the lump – the stinging shame of it!

The King

Yesterday’s News Today, per usual…

Burger King has, to their great credit, revived the Burger King himself in their ad campaigns. Now, every king has a court jester – a fool, a … clown. Let’s see…are there any burger-related clowns out there who could be cast in the role…hm…

It would make such a great commercial. Ronald, the King’s Fool.

“Your Highness, instead of flame-broiling, why not FRY your burgers?”

“Ha ha ha, Ronald! The things you say! Truly, you are the greatest fool any king ever had.”

Talkin’ NFP

I just finished an interview on Relevant Radio. During the interview, a fellow called and said that he and his wife were, it seemed to him, some of the only Catholics he knew who practiced NFP. He wanted to know how to put it out there, how to present it, how to explain it. My answer wasn’t too stellar. Mostly, it was this: admit it’s a hard teaching. Admit it’s diffficult to understand. Suggest that understanding is not essential to obedience – “trust the Church implicitly,” as Cardinal Newman advises, especially if you believe that She is on the side of love. Suggest also that God will surely not be unhappy with the sacrifice you have made in obeying His Church – even if you didn’t understand exactly why you had to do so.

But I’d love to hear how y’all would have answered.


First Son can be our toughest nut, emotion-wise. So it was amazing to see him literally jumping out of his seat with anxiety, rage, and sympathy as we watched Heidi. Heidi, with Shirley Temple. I thought he’d be half into it, at best. Wonderful to see what stories can do.

Today in Porn, Poignant Edition

Or rather, yesterday…

So I was heading down to RCP Block and Brick to get crushed rock so I can line the bottome of the ginormous new flowerbox we had built for the wife for her birthday – which was yesterday. RCP is next door to Little Darlings, an establishment whose bubblegum-pink exterior has faded considerably over the years. (I was at RCP a few years back for decomposed granite for the front yard of last house – we were going for the Provencal look, lavender bushes lining the edge, etc. It’s all grass and sprinklers now. The place was pinker then.)

The first thing I noticed was the ice cream truck in the parking lot. “Urgh. Dude goes straight from selling Bomb Pops and Fudgsicles to getting his jollies, doesn’t even switch to his civilian car. That’s just nasty.” Then, as I passed by, I saw the sign on the side of the truck: Mrs. Frostie. “Mrs.? Some girl working on a second career, gets off her shift, throws on jeans and a sweatshirt and heads out into Kiddieland?”

Wrong again. On my way back home, I checked Mrs. Frostie again (go ahead and cast aspersions; I surely deserve them), and there was a young lady standing at the side of the truck, staring up into it and deciding upon her order, just like any expectant kid would do. Except she wasn’t exactly a kid, and she was (half) dressed for work. The woman inside was very much a Mrs. Frostie – middle-aged, matronly.

Not sure what I can add to the image by way of comment, so I’ll leave it at that.


“Memento mori? You must be joking. I can hardly forget it.”

Second Son, Theologian

Okay, so insofar as the devil has existence, he is loved by God. After all, if God didn’t keep willing the existence of a thing, it wouldn’t exist, and existence is a good, and willing the good for something is loving it. Right?

So I have to explain all this when Second Son asks me if God hates the devil. (Here’s what haunts me behind that question – my forbidding them to say they hate anyone, except the devil.)

Months later: “Dad, shouldn’t we love the devil? Becuase God loves the devil.” (Missing middle term: we should love as God loves.)

Let the distinctions commence – while you try to help make dinner and calm the crying baby, etc.


"Writing is Easy…"

…says the man. ” Just sit down and your desk and open a vein.”

He’s right. That’s the easy part. Getting someone to read the stuff, now that’s the trick.

That goes for blogging, too. What does it mean when I find that, during the month that I quit linking to outside stories, I get what is far and away the lowest number of visits to the blog since its inception? That’ll teach me to write poetry…

A Bookmark of Sorts

First Son had a grand idea for a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip yesterday – something about not being able to test his mother’s theory about what made sundaes great without trying a second one – but he couldn’t get it to look right. He crumpled the paper in frustration. I showed him William Faulkner’s 1955 acceptance speech at the National Book Awards (he won that year for A Fable):

By artist I mean of course everyone who has tried to create something which was not here before him, with no other tools and materials than the uncommerciable ones of the human spirit; who has tried to carve, no matter how crudely, on the wall of that final oblivion, in the tongue of the human spirit, “Kilroy was here.”

That is primarily, and I think in its essence, all that we ever really tried to do. And I believe we will all agree that we failed. That what we made never quite matched and never will match the shape, the dream of perfection which we inherited and which drove us and will continue to drive us, even after each failure, until anguish frees us and the hand falls still at last.


Not sure I agree absolutely with the first part, but that bit about failure seems worth considering. It’s encouraging, in the odd way that the reassurance we get from the saints that we shall never be sinless is encouraging.


(It’s not linking if it’s done in perfect charity, or something like that…)

Visitors to my comments boxes may have noticed a new voice: the estimable Father Stephanos, O.S.B.. I have had the pleasure of meeting Father, and now you can, too: he’s taken up blogging at One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict.

Jukebox/Today in Porn

Was it Flannery O’Connor who linked porn and sentimentality?

The band Nickelback scored a big ol’ hit playing on the sweet, sweet sentiment of nostalgia, in what may be its purest, rawest form: old photographs. The song “Photograph” is about a dude recalling his high-school days via the “photo album spread out on my bedroom floor.” The nostalgia gets so intense that he calls out to God, an expression usually reserved for more passionate moments – rage, sex, etc.:

Oh oh oh
Oh god I

Every memory of looking out the back door
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It’s hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

I was surprised when it became a hit, and then I wasn’t. I like looking at old photos, too. Then I was surprised again when I turned on the radio and heard this little bit from Nickelback’s “Figured You Out”:

I love your pants around your feet
And I love the dirt that’s on your knees
And I like the way you still say please
While you’re looking up at me
You’re like my favourite damn disease

This, from the guys who sang, “Kim’s the first girl I kissed/I was so nervous that I nearly missed” in “Photograph”? And then, again, I wasn’t surprised any more. Porn is a sentimental view of sex, in that it removes it from the rest of life and tries its damnedest to airbrush out the shadows and realities. If a band is willing to hit the sentimental nerve as hard as “Photograph” hits it, then maybe this kind of dabbling in mild raunch is just the other side of the coin.

Stepping on a Nail on a Rainy Morning

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. I say in silly poetry.

Come, nail
My foot
Your point
At joint
Of ball and toe
My woe
The yells
The harm
Is small

The Discriminating Drunk

When I’m drunk on good gin
I still feel bad about sin
But when I’m drunk on good bourbon
Sin is much less disturbin’.

Whiny Author

So there’s a dude at the info desk at Borders tonight, and he’s got Garry Wills’ Why I Am A Catholic in one hand, and he’s asking where he can find Jenna Jameson’s How To Make Love Like A Porn Star. And I’m thinking, “Dude, you are my ideal reader.” I would have loved to put my book in his hands (to say nothing of book two), and according to the computer, the store had it on the shelf. (Not that there’s much of a chance that I actually would have had the guts to approach him.) According to the computer. According to the shelf, nada. I actually bleated – it’s the sixth or seventh time I’ve visited, seen it listed “in stock,” and not found it on the shelf. I am such a sad specimen.

Reminder from St. Joseph

Whose feast is today…

To be a better father. To draw the comic, make the mix tape, engage in the wrestle. To teach baseball, for pity’s sake. And before that, to buty the Neat’s Foot Oil to treat the baseball glove.

I want to be the shepherd of my flock.

The Table and the Bed

So somewhere along the way last night, a friend challenged me to write one chapter of a food-related romance novel. If I can pull it off by birthday 33, I get a bottle of Blanton’s. If not, I owe him some decent Barolo. Hoo!