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What I did for Matthew Lickona’s birthday

kentucky buck

It’s called a Kentucky Buck  (a mule variation) and it’s coming to a San Diego cocktail review near you!

 

Reminder

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Post your poems, prayers, and spankings in the birthday boy combox.

Paging Dr. Percy

So I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film very much about the importance of the artist.

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And at the end, there was a note about how the film was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. Over at The New Yorker, Richard Brody shone a little light on the connection. Naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of Zweig in the magazine. Ah – a suicide. And naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of suicide’s resurgence, also in the magazine.

Artists, suicides, Zweig…ah. Of course. A Moveable Piece: Stefan Zweig and Walker Percy’s Problem of Artist-Writer Reentry, Jennifer Levasseur’s very fine presentation (attended by several members of the Kollektiv) at the second Walker Percy Conference (not to be confused with the Walker Percy Weekend, which somehow has yet to be mentioned on this blog).

Perhaps Dr. Percy is not quite as doomed to the past as I had feared. When I applied for the Amtrak writer thingy, I pitched The Last Gentlemen. Hoo!

“The Celebrity for Believers” – interview over at Dappled Things

surfing-with-mel-cover-upright Over at Dappled Things, Bernardo Aparicio has an interview with Old Man Lickona in support of Labora Editions’ very fine hardbound edition of Surfing with Mel.

I’ll see your Pope on the cover of Rolling Stone

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…and raise you St. Francis De Sales over at Paris Review Daily:

In fact, hell has a way of rearing its infernal head at awkward moments throughout the Devout Life, perhaps as in life itself. Here’s a bit from “Balls, and Other Lawful But Dangerous Amusements,” which doesn’t mean what you think it does:

“Balls and similar gatherings are wont to attract all that is bad and vicious; all the quarrels, envyings, slanders, and indiscreet tendencies of a place will be found collected in the ballroom. While people’s bodily pores are opened by the exercise of dancing, the heart’s pores will be also opened by excitement … while you were dancing, souls were groaning in hell by reason of sins committed when similarly occupied, or in consequence thereof.”

Buzzkill, Francis! Not all his advice is so starchy, though. In “We Must Attend to the Business of Life Carefully, But Without Eagerness or Over-Anxiety,” he writes, “Imitate a little child, whom one sees holding tight with one hand to its father, while with the other it gathers strawberries or blackberries from the wayside hedge.” (I do this literally all the time—can’t recommend it highly enough.)

Still, if Francis has really been watching over the Fourth Estate for these many centuries, one imagines he’s pretty disappointed with the profession. After all, journalists and writers are not known for their piety, to put it mildly. Saving Calvinists from perdition no longer moves us to dip our pens.

“Buzzkill, Francis!” is my new “Settle down, Francis.” I do feel a bit sorry for the writer, however – in his rush to smirk, he’s overlooked Francis’s perceptive genius: quarrels, envyings, slanders and indiscreet tendencies on the dance floor form the basis for a great many of today’s more popular poems, the kind that show up on the radio.

Quarrels? Check 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”

When my joint get to pumping in the club, it’s on
I wink my eye at your chick, if she smiles, she gone
If the roof on fire, man, just let it burn
If you talkin’ about money, homie I ain’t concerned
I’mma tell you what Banks told me Cuz, go ahead, switch the style up
If they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up
Or we can go upside your head with a bottle of bub’

Envyings? The list is endless, since the club seems to be as much about establishing status as anything else, but let’s take this very basic example from Will i. Am’s “Scream & Shout”

Everybody in the club
All eyes on us
All eyes on us
All eyes on us

Slanders? Back to 50 Cent and “Get Out Da Club”

Bitch you think you high class you ain’t worth a third of a nigga
Ya man is gangsta but we ain’t never heard of the nigga

And hoo boy, indiscreet tendencies. I’m gonna use this bit from Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor,” since it actually mentions sweat, and Francis mentioned the open pores brought on by dancing…

That badonka donk is like a trunk full of bass on an old school Chevy
Seven tray donkey donk
All I need is some vodka and some coke
And watch, she going to get donkey konged
Baby if you’re ready for things to get heavy
I get on the floor and act a fool if you let me
Dale
Don’t believe me just bet me
My name isn’t Keith but I see why you Sweat me
L.A. Miami New York
Say no more get on the floor

The poor devil also seems to misunderstand what it means for a saint to be the patron of this or that profession. Please correct me if I’m mistaken, but I always thought it had more to do with the excellent execution of the work than the piety of the worker. As long as we still dip our pens in the service of truth, I’m pretty sure Francis has to be pleased.

Still.

Triangulation at Its Best Part II

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The first (!) two-time Super Bowl winning coach of JOB’s team talking about the two-time Superbowl team from Webb/Potter/Jobe’s corner of the world in reference to one of if not The Most Painful Super Bowl Loss sustained by Lickona’s team:

“Here’s what impresses me about the Seattle defense,” Parcells says, “and it’s what impresses me about any top quality defense in this league: They keep things very simple. They rely on execution the way any good defensive team we ever had relied on execution. They’re not schematic. They’re not out there to fool you. They’re not one of those teams that’s gonna show up next Sunday and say, ‘OK, we’ve got three or four blitzes you’ve never seen before.’ That’s not who they are.

“It’s why this is such an interesting matchup to me, and just because it’s best offense against the best defense again. If it goes Denver’s way, they’re going to get up early and have that be their way of putting pressure on the defense. Seattle? They’ll just hang around a little bit the way they did against the 49ers, and then try to play the way they want to play.”

UPDATE: But of course, in this game, the gods of football will find a way to even keep greatness humble.

Triangulation at Its Best…

 

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In an outtake from the recent Salinger biodoc.

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And, in unrelated news yet to happen, there’s this…

JOB [To Interviewer]: “So, you better talk to Jonathan Potter about this, but it’s a great story. The way he tells it,  or at least how he told it to me, Matthew Lickona was just beginning to get his life back in order, right? He was recently out of debt and was returning from some bigwig marketing meeting at the prosthetics company he was working for. Anyway, he decides he’s going to take a cross country trip by train – not bad, right? See a little bit of America’s ass side, spend some time knocking back a few in the dining car, snooze to the clickity-clackity rhythm of it all… Well, anyway, so he’s sitting there, America’s backyards and back alleys racing past his window in a cartoon blur. Meanwhile, unknown to Matthew, Angelico is seated two seats behind him. And so at some point during the trip, the train is about to take one of these God-sized mountain tunnels – it’s out in the middle of Utah or Colorado or something – and it just so happens that who? Right! Dorian Speed is walking up the aisle to the smoking car – she smoked in those days, Camel filterless if I recall – I remember because she started a three-pack-a-day habit soon after the giraffonet replaced the internet and she was having such a hard time transitioning – at any rate, Angelico thrusts his foot into the aisle because he’s got this cramp in his calf, see? He just made this big sell to Icon Productions for his client – but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself – anyway, so he puts his leg out like he’s going to kick a door in and Dorian, tripping on his leg, stumbles forward – but just then Jonathan Webb is walking down the aisle in the other direction, having just finished in the smoking car a Romeo y Julieta – a Churchill I think it was – you know, he could afford them in those days, what with the movie deals he was getting for the Death Fables and all – and he lunges to catch Dorian, but she meanwhile is putting her hand out to save herself from falling flat on her face, and in the process grabs Brian Jobe, who is also on the train – a seat behind and diagonal from Matthew – unbelievable, right? I thought so too! – so she grabs Brian Jobe by his black mock turtleneck – this was during his black period, the whole Propertius affair was still a fresh wound at that point – and she yanks him into the aisle as she’s falling and Webb accidentally grabs for the emergency brake – except, you know, it wasn’t accidental? Because just then Webb sees Matthew at the same time that Matthew spots Webb. Their eyes lock and for one furious moment – well, think crossing streams and Ghostbusters and marshmallow bits everywhere! Well, at the very least, fireworks, hello! So Matthew stands up and is about to punch Webb in his gob – because, you know, poor Matthew is still sore about Webb’s refusal to testify in the Gibson suit – but then Angelico, still rubbing his calf, sees Matthew and unaware of Matthew’s ire tries to get his attention by throwing a copy of Groundwork at him – which someone told me he’d found in the WalMart remainder pile – that’s where I find them, anyway – but anyway, the story – so instead, right? Angelico hits Webb with the book – his own client and he hits him with the book -and right between the eyes – and so, well, anyway, everything sort of went black for a moment as the train passes into the tunnel and…. well, look, I don’t know. This is just what I heard. The only one who was there was Potter. Ask him. He knows the whole story.”

Mel Gibson alert

mel2Paul Elie:

Gregory Wolfe in a memorable (if unappealing) formulation insists that the current generation of Catholic writers is a “whispering generation.” Which leads me to ask: Whispering why?

The answers usually have something to do with the state of the church or the state of the culture or some such.  But my approach to the issue begins with the conviction that literature is made by individual writers, not by the surrounding culture or the spirit of the age – by individual writers who for whatever reasons are (the religious word is undiminished here) inspired to make written works in some ways rather than others.

I wonder if the “whispering generation” is really a cowering generation – writers who are timid when they ought to be bold.

See also?

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.

“Which movie do you want to see?”

Stack

The Catholic Beat reviews Surfing with Mel!