Archives for December 2013

Mr. White?


… h/t to my wife whose attention was wandering during the homily.

Don’t let Dappled Things become the dappled dodo.


A perhaps thirty-year-old Walker Percy (full head of brown hair) is standing on the grass of a public park on a fine summer’s day. The location could be Seattle or New Orleans or Heaven. A small audience of bookstore patrons and suchlike (including myself) is gathered. Cut to a newspaper article about Percy. From the text of the article, the Kiergegaard quotation that serves as epigraph to The Moviegoer jumps out at me, but it is formatted as a dictionary definition of despair. The original epigraph (as I recall it) has two numbered definitions, but here Percy (or the author of the article) has added a whimsically humorous third definition. Cut back to Walker standing there. He’s wearing a short-sleeved button-up shirt with a green cross-hatched weave, tucked in.

Walker introduces a semi-famous country singer who sits astride a bicycle (beach cruiser style) at the edge of the crowd and now commences to ride down the gentle grassy slope towards Walker. The country singer croons a couple of verses of a song that is loosely apropos to the occasion as he pedals in a wide arc around Walker. It is an odd spectacle, and Walker seems pleased but slightly abashed about it. He speaks to the audience for a short while and then concludes. The crowd disperses and Walker turns to walk away as well. It occurs to me I should say something to him while I have the chance, so I approach him from the side. Now he’s wearing a dark brown pullover and I grab the sleeve to get his attention.

“I just wanted to say your work has meant a lot to me,” I say.

“Well, all right.” Walker says, smiling cordially.

I let go of his sleeve. We both nod and smile and part ways.

I’m walking down the sidewalk away from the park. I burst into tears.

I wake up crying.

‘Get me rewrite!’ ‘The Man Comes Around’ edition

When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter…
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh….

There’s a man looking ’round judging souls,
And he decides who gets toys and who gets coal.
Everybody can be seen from the North Pole.
You will hear the hooves of reindeer touching down
When the man comes around.

You’ll listen from your bed, as cold as ice,
To the tally of each virtue and of each vice.
Will your name be set down among the ‘Nice’,
Or will you shout or pout or cry or frown
When the man comes around?


Hear the jingle, hear the jangle;
One hundred silver bells a-ringing;
Girls and boys are rising as the twelve drummers drum:
Some are ivy and some are holly,
Some are jaded and some are jolly,
The hour of the Man in Red is come.

And the stockings hang by the chimney!
(The children are all trimming their tree.)
The stockings hang by the chimney!
(No sugar-plums will dance that night for thee.)

Until the daybreak, Pedro Negro, Peter Black,
Or the Krampus crams bad children in his sack,
And carries them away upon his back
To beat them, eat them, or to see them drowned
When the man comes around.

Whoever is naughty, let him be naughty still.
Whoever is joyous, let him be joyous still.
Whoever is toyless, let him be toyless still.
The twice-checked list at last shall be unwound
When the man comes around.


A trick on kids, or something more profound,
When the man comes around?

… And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night’….

La Grande Bellezza

First of all, it isn’t La Dolce Vita all over again, as I thought it might be when I first saw the trailer a month or so ago. As the director Paolo Sorrentino says in an interview, Fellini’s movie is a true masterpiece, but I don’t think that is the distinction that needs to be made. It isn’t La Dolce Vita because, despite the long orgy sequence at the beginning, it is downright melancholy in tone. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t fun and in many places even funny. It’s just that it’s now fifty years on, and what was sweet and charming in a decadent sort of way has grown a little stale. A lot stale. Chic Marxist politics, if it ever was anything other than a tired cliché, is here shown to have grown very stale indeed. Performance Art, pretending to be cutting edge drama, fails even to rise to the level of nihilistic and ends up laughable. If the beauty of young women in cocktail dresses wandering amidst the fountains of the eternal city was a sign of all that was possible in 1960, middle-aged satyrs and hags at a botox party is an even bigger sign for just how far we’ve fallen. This is Italy in the death spiral the demographers keep telling us about. If Beauty will save the world, it isn’t merely for being beautiful—it’s for showing in high relief just how ugly our world has become. That’s the story of The Great Beauty.

What The Korrektiv Did for Its October Vacation

Perhaps Percy’s most intriguing work, Lost in the Cosmos is a weird yet satisfying book – a hybrid of philosophical inquiry, satire, cultural analysis, multiple choice questions, thought experiments and (“What the hell, why not?” you can hear Percy say) even fiction. Perhaps the book most closely resembles Melville’s own loose but not-so-baggy monster, Moby Dick. But Lost in the Cosmos stands well on its own. The quality and quantity of presenters at the conference attested to its enduring worth—with more than 40 papers covering everything from liturgy to pornography to interstellar exploration to mimetic theory to Marshall McLuhan.

From Korrektiv’s Hirsute Hits of Haustralia Kollektion

This one goes out to all the Jonathan Potters of the world – Wear your grow and wear it proud!

H/T Number One Niece from Down Under Beth G.

Burning My Fire in the Sun

Bonus feature.


cf. House of Words, p. 44

Hey, Darwins…

…or any of you other smart people…

Would you mind taking a look at this? There’s some unpleasant smarm, but there’s also some clarity about the problem. And Lord help me, I’m not that bright.

Middle-age whimsy


Forty is when you tell your wife you’re not going to get new glasses because “I’m a fat slug and I don’t deserve nice things,” and she laughs and you laugh and later on you realize, “Yeah, I pretty much meant that.”

Forty is when you wake from a dream in which you cry, “I never thought I’d become a slave to a symbol” and then drive a carving knife into your own chest and think, “Well, that might be from some psychological crap I’m stirring up with this piece I’m working on, or it might be the devil,” but you don’t think, “Holy crap, I just committed suicide in my own dream.”

The day Peter became a rock star

pius xii bathroom pic

Something to offend everyone:

“From the time that the Church decided to embrace the world, she started to speak to the world in what she thought was the proper way. In the 1950s it was middle-class and the Right. Today it is middle-class and the Left, but in either case with an air of radical chic.”



“Get me rewrite!” “Tim Finnegan’s Wake” edition

Here’s what you need to know for this one: Tim Hilgeman is an excellent fellow and a fine guitarist. He lives near Our Lady of Grace church in El Cajon (OLG). But he leads a choir at a parish in North County. They sing the Glory and Praise stuff. Ernie Grimm, on the other hand, leads a choir that sings traditional polyphony at Our Lady of the Rosary’s monthly Novus Ordo Mass in Latin.

Tim Hilgeman lived near OLG
But sang up north, that’s mighty odd
Drove 30 miles to draw a fee
For the songs he offered up to God
You see he’d sort of a strummerin way
With a love for the guitar he was born
The charismatic songs he’d play
Could wake the dead on Sunday morn!


Be Not Afraid Cuz Here I Am
One Bread One Body that we break
The Lord of the Dance gets one last jam
There’s lots of fun at Hilgeman’s wake

One morning Tim was all on fire
He spoke in tongues, which scared the priest
Got slain in the spirit and did expire
And they carried him home for a funeral feast
Rolled him up in a big felt banner
Stretched him out upon the bar
At his head, a liturgical planner
And at his feet, his folk guitar


His friends they all sang auld lang syne
And Mrs. Hilgeman brought the cheer
First she poured out good red wine
Then Irish whiskey and Irish beer
Then Tim’s friends all said “Glory and Praise
The man knew his way around a hymn
Was a friend to old Dan Schutte, SJ”
“Thank God he’s gone!” cried Ernie Grimm


Tim’s friend said “Dammit Grimm, that stings
Did you get the memo? Latin’s dead
When our man Tim sang ‘Eagle’s Wings’
At least we all knew what he said.”
Tempers all got hot then hotter
The shouts, they rose to God on high
Gentle Woman, Stabat Mater
It made the Baby Jesus cry


Well Grimm he threw his Guinness stout
When things had gone a bit too far
The glass it scattered all about
And twanged the string of Tim’s guitar
Tim rose up and rubbed his eyeballs
And saw the booze that we had poured
Said “My friends are here all drinking highballs
It’s judgment day Blest Be the Lord!”


Christmas is for heretics, too.


From the Korrektiv Katalog of Kristmas Katalogs

Via Deadspin:

waffle maker

“Why do I need the “A Bit More” setting when it already has twelve browning levels? Why don’t I just go to the next browning level? OH BUT THIS WAFFLE MAKER GOES TO ELEVEN, YOU SEE. I also own a $300 alarm clock that has a “Just A Soupcon Extra Of Shuteye Darling!” button instead of the standard, guttural SNOOZE button. Please note that W-S suggests you top your waffles with “cranberry-apple compote”. You people with your fucking compotes. If it were up to you, everything would be a compote.”

H/T: Sis-in-law Elizabeth.


My oldest’s newest nickname…

(Not to be confused with that other fella, Johann Gambolputty-de-von-Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crass-cren-bon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelter-wasser-kurstlich-himble-eisenbahnwagen-guten-abend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwürstel-gespurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumeraber-schönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittleraucher-von-Hautkopft of Ulm.)

Comment of the Year?

No, not here at Korrektiv; across the entire Internet. It matters that it comes at the end of a New Yorker piece on 2013’s literary feuds.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 4.16.32 PMI think our work here is done.

Still Life with Privy

cold morning

Mithridates, He Died Old…

mithridates kingdom
The cool redundant columns. Echo’s bark
From hills above the ruins. Shepherd’s call
Still further up the dusty slopes. The stark
Reply of time to history’s rise and fall.

So love is nothing if not temporary
And shadows have our hands behind them –
We push them hard and dig the scenery,
Dialogue’s own ad hoc mausoleum.

I take your eyes for granite. Watch me switch
Out clocks for more notorious emblems –
The rings upon our fingers. Watch us clutch
At minutes, hours – pride’s failed museums.

The glassy crack of marble. Rust at play
With iron’s age. Collected skulls, a gloss
On bones that counted. Killing time this way,
The finger taps within its golden compass.