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Archives for April 2008

Catching Up

If this were a real web log and I were a real web logger — and if I had unlimited time on my hands and devotion to keeping a log here on the web — I’d have posted on the following items (and, potentially, thousands of other items like these):

1. Will in the World a Wonderful Read
My review thereof. A fine piece of literary biography by Stephen Greenblatt, a page-turner. High level “new historicist”? scholarship aimed at a popular audience. (What do you scholars do with such books? Dismiss ’em? But you can’t really; and yet it’s a bit embarrassing, ain’t it?) Fascinating and (mostly) pretty damn plausible speculations about Shakespeare’s life in the context of his times. Shakespeare was, it seems certain, a Catholic but a Catholic of a particular sort, namely the bad sort — in a (mostly) good way, given the climate of the times, and Queen E’s penchant for some pretty nasty treatment of religious dissenters like Campion (whom the young Will might well have encountered at a key moment). Was Shakey also a B in the GBLT gay-bacon-lettuce-tomato matrix? Greenblatt pushes for that a bit overmuch — but his take on the first twenty or so sonnets is fairly compelling vis-a-vis some complicated homo-hetero triangular desires (ala Girard, whose book Theater of Envy I’ve also recently picked up.) For example, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” is almost certainly addressed to a dude. Greenblatt makes a good case for the speculation that Shakespeare was hired to write these poetic pep talks to the dude in question by way of persuading him (the royal dude) not to eschew marriage “but tell that face thou viewest now is the time that face should form another.” And then there is the dark woman who may have had a fling with the same dude, or perhaps some other younger and more virile dude, and may have also (alas) infected Shakes with syphillus. And, it would seem, none of the sonnets is addressed to Mrs. Shakespeare back in Stratford. (But I happened across another book on the new books table in Borders the other day — Shakespeare’s Wife — which seems to be an apologia for the Mrs. and perhaps a corrective to Greenblatt’s — and other’s — harsh conclusions about Ann and her relationship with Will.) I could go on and on with this post, but this isn’t the actual post, only a mock-up of the post that was never and will never be written, so I’ll leave it at that.

2. Seattle, The Moviegoer, and Existential Despair
This just came across the transom: I know someone from the internet from Seattle and he likes the novel The Moviegoer by Walker Percy a lot. His name is Matthew. I argued with Matthew on the internet one time. I said The Moviegoer was melodramatic and did melodramatic things in regard to existential despair. I met him on my book tour last year. He works in a bookstore. I’m not sure exactly why, but when I was around him I felt strongly that he enjoys existential despair a lot. He seemed to be experiencing existential despair at a higher level than me and to be almost actually “having fun” with his experience of it. I can’t think of any concrete details regarding why I felt this way. But it makes me think that Seattle is from the future, because I feel like in the future people will strive for existential despair, for more fulfilling and purer kinds of existential despair, in the same way people in Brooklyn strive for an apartment closer to the L train. This makes sense because existential despair is usually talked about in books and people in Seattle read books more than people in other places. It’s from a quirky piece in the quirky Seattle alternative weekly paper, The Stranger. If I were actually posting on this, I would give you a link to the entire article, the entirety of which I haven’t read, but I did skim a bit of it and it looked pretty funny in a pleasant, quirky sort of way.

3. Shakespeare’s Psalm
Shakespeare’s birthday was a few days ago. April 23, I believe. At least that’s when some folks observe it — I guess the exact date is no known. The scholars guess at it based on the baptismal record. (Any scholars out there?) Anyway, back in mid-December or thereabouts, I came across an interesting piece somewhere in the vastness of the web which offered up the speculation that Shakespeare contributed to the King James translation of the Bible and that he was 43 at the time (which happens to my age a the moment as well) so if you look at the 43rd Psalm in the KJV, you’ll find a quirky little allusion that Will must have inserted as a sort of signature. The psalm begins with the word Shake and ends with the word spear, if I’m recalling this correctly. This was back in December, like I said, and I was tempted to post on it back then but then I thought: No, wait until April and make this a Shakespeare’s birthday post. I could look it up, but seeing as this is not a post but only the muddled recollection of my failure to post, I’ll let you scholars chime in and sort this out. Please do so. OK, I couldn’t help myself. I went and looked it up. I didn’t quite have my facts straight, but I was close. Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564. It is widely assumed that he was born that year. The Authorized Version was being revised in 1610, by which time Shakespeare would have been 46. In the King James version of Psalm 46 (see below), counting 46 words down from the top, we find ‘shake’, and counting 46 words up from the bottom, we find ‘spear’. ‘Selah’ doesn’t count — it is sprinkled throughout the Bible as a sort of punctuation mark. [source]

Psalm 46: KJV To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains SHAKE with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the SPEAR in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

4. Hello Dalai Lama Rama Ding Dang
I attended a special convocation in Seattle recently. The Dalai Lama was in town so the dignitaries at the University of Washington decided to present him with an honorary degree. With my blogging credentials, I was admitted into the press area and sat behind a real reporter with a real Associated Press laptop. I didn’t even have a pen or paper, only my malaise-sharp wit and sieve-like memory. But I was able to look over the shoulder of the AP writer and watch him compose his piece. His byline was Manuel something. (Google manuel “dalai lama” seattle and you’ll probably find his article.) There was much pomp and circumstance and quite a bit of absurdity which I don’t think was adequately reflected in the AP writer’s article. For example, one of the UW regents stood up at the podium and introduced the Dalai Lama thusly: “If it’s true that we are all fellow passengers on the Spaceship Planet Earth, then you, Your Holiness, is the navigator.” That’s right: you is the navigator. I could tell more but I’ve said too much already. You can see for yourself by viewing the video of the event at UWTV.

5. For Reals
Whenever I utter something questionable, which most of my utterances are, my four-year-old daughter will often say: “Are you for reals, Daddy?” I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I could try but I’d fail. Her drawing skills have turned a corner of late, too, and if I were a real web logger I would scan her latest portrait of me and put it here on the blog as well. It’s fantastically accurate. I would also say something about my lovely wife and the second daughter who is her own distinct and delightful self closing in on 11 months now; and how I was lying awake last night crying tears of joy I can’t explain, pierced by the love and the seeming apex of joy I find myself standing so tenuously and so unworthily upon. For reals.

6. Loopt
Came across an article about this in the latest Snoozeweek. Check it out. I would love to have 20 or 30 of my close companions, some saints, Kierkegaard, Percy, O’Connor, Shakespeare, folks I’ve lost touch with, my mom and dad and sister, nieces, in-laws, my wife and kids, all with GPS-equipped cell phones and roaming around the French Quarter or Spokane on a carefree summer’s eve so we could easily find each other whenever we wanted to.

7. Me, My Wife and I
That’s my idea for the title of either a series of humorous short stories (i.e. fiction) loosely (ranging from extremely loosely to not very loosely) based on my life with my wife; or a series of humorous essays (i.e. creative nonfiction) based on my life with my wife. Notice the narcissistic implication of the title, the focus on “me” and “I” with “my wife” coming between the two. Irony. Love. The rubbing off of jagged edges as of two pebbles in a tin can that is shaken continuously for years on end.

8. Note to My Capricorn Wife
This also (like so many things) just came across the transom. It’s funny and sweet and it’s from Freewill Astrology, which I enjoy (at the peril of my soul, I know, but the magi were astrologers, too, right?) and I’d like to draw it to the attention of my wife, who is a Capricorn: Capricorn: When the first George Bush ran for U.S. President in 1988, he worried that he and his wife Barbara appeared less affectionate in public than their opponents, Michael and Kitty Dukakis. “Sweetsie,” he wrote to her, “Look at how Mike and Kitty do it. Try to be closer in, more romantic on camera. I am practicing the loving look, and the creeping hand. Yours for better TV and more demonstrable affection. Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo.” Though my moral principles make it tough to ask you to imitate any president named Bush, it’s my astrological duty to do that, at least in this one matter. Your Love Quotient has got to go way, way up. So please: Practice the loving look and the creeping hand. And find an excuse to call someone “sweetie-pie-coo-coo.” [Source: My Dear President: Letters Between Presidents and Their Wives.]

Shakespeare Party

Today in Porn, Rome Edition

That’s St. John Lateran, one of the big four basilicas, in the background. That’s a newsstand with a special pink porn section in the foreground.

America is in line at the airport

Peggy Noonan hits the nail on the head. A couple of nails, actually. With a lovely hammer that she somehow slipped through airport security.

Søren Says

The person who is deceived by the world can still hope that he will not be disappointed some other time under other circumstances, but the person who deceives himself is continually deceived even if he flees to the farthest limits of the world, because he cannot escape himself.
~ Patience in Expectancy

Today in Porn, Jailbait Edition

Oh, Miley. How did those wicked, manipulative people at Vanity Fair ever manage to manipulate you out of your shirt and bra?

Move over, Joe and Jessica Simpson?

Today in Porn, Biblezine Edition

Amy passes along this gem:

“Ever wish your Bible was as easy to pick up as your favorite magazine? Now there’s a new BibleZine created with today’s modern guy in mind. With an edgy, techo-savvy style and content that makes Biblical truth fresh and relevant, it might just make Bible reading the best part of your day. By putting one of the most readable versions of the Bible, the New Century Version, together with articles about the topics you face everyday, we’ve created a ‘zine that will help you get deeper in the Bible, find out what God has to say for your life, and grow in your faith.”

What does God have to say? Sexcess! Which seems to be defined as “Success with the opposite sex,” but which looks an awful lot like “Excess Sex!” Either way, the Gospel has newfound relevance!

Today in Porn, Unplanned Obsolescence Edition

[Heads up – blue language ahead.]

Balk, musing upon the massive number of CDs he purchased back in the day, asks the question:

“But what about the porn fans? I’m sure there’s some poor guy who’s looking at the giant collection of expensive DVDs and videotapes he purchased instead of upgrading his wardrobe or joining a gym and smacking himself (not that way) when he sees how much free jack-off material the Internet makes available now. And not just normal blowjob videos and the like (the porn equivalent of your major label releases), completely cost-free bizarre fetishy stuff (those rare white label Japanese-only pressings of MBV B-sides). Let’s shed a tear for those guys, the porn addicts who were born too soon.”

Bragging Rights

Our cousin is the new Director of Vocations for the NY Archdiocese. Things there look good (on the Interweb, anyway). So did the brochure that everybody in Yankee Stadium got in their “gift pouch” (which pouch also included an “emergency” poncho/windbreaker, thank God). It was as smart as it was beautiful (much like the site; much text and many pics in common). Of course, for something like this, beautiful is smart; it’s about desire, people. (It was attractive to me, and I’m both deliriously hitched and pater of a familias of seven!) Wish I could post the cover photo (couldn’t find it on the site): Taxicabs whizzing past St. Patrick’s. Quintessential Church-in-New-York, which is to say, quintessential New York.


My boss is in the news again:

“Jim Holman, owner of the San Diego Reader, has spent millions trying to persuade Californians to pass a law requiring parents to be notified before their underage daughter has an abortion…Opponents predict another defeat for Holman, who has spent a considerable personal fortune on the three measures, about $4.6 million so far…’I’m a dad with daughters,’ said Holman, 61. ‘But beyond my personal situation I see it as a great horror that young girls under 18 can be whisked away to hide an abortion’…Holman, who is a devout Catholic with seven children, said he has stayed active because he believes he can fill a gap. He charged that others, including Catholic bishops, are too afraid…They are calling the measure Sarah’s Law, after the pseudonym of a Texas girl who died from complications arising from an abortion in the 1990s, Short said. The girl’s parents were unaware she had an abortion.”