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Hurricane and Himmicane

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Live-blogging the Brisket – Hour 4 & 5

Perhaps to temper the fire of my hubris with a little smoke of humility, in today’s Gospel reading (Rite of ’62) our Lord’s words were a fitting reminder of priorities, even as my Weber was attending to its business, I should be minding my own:

“Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?” (Matthew 6:24-26)

But then after returning home from Mass, I wondered if our Lord also considered cats in these calculations…

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Alas, they seemed undeterred by maledictions and threats of malefactions, should they even be considering carnoklepty…

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Of course, I should have trusted n the Lord (and it being a Sunday too!)…

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It is finished (sort of…)

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It’s not every day that you get Hugh Laurie to do some electrical work in your house. I didn’t, of course, but my brother-in-law Andy is a perfect stand-in as he enjoys some whiskey-cum-bacon this morning upon finishing the installation of the faux-tiffany lamp fixture haloing him and the wonderful spirits of the house, furhter pimping up the bordello decor of my booze-room.

The perfect place that is no-place at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday to push back at the malaise and feel the tingle on the back of one’s neck upon catching sight, out of the corner of one’s eye, of the particles of nostalgia dancing with dust motes in the fading rays of a late-setting sun….

Many thanks to Andy for shedding some light on why this little corner of the O’Brien shack is one of my favorite rooms to visit… (And of course the lamp adds additional luster to the camping opportunities which our great little neck of Wisconsin affords visitors: Angelico/Angelica of the Twin Cities, I’m looking at YOU…)

 

Storm Days

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                            for my father

The wind is in rare form tonight – all in –
The pine and the walnut are sent adrift
In darkness to wave-break the night, an ocean
Of sighs that have slashed autumn’s lines and left

The summer unmoored – grief enough, father,
To see in the porch light your fading shade
That time when the talk sat with ease. Whether
The hour of that someplace translated your staid

And passing years – whiskey conversed, earnest
As lyrics, the crisscross of legacy
That made my manhood. Then you taught, honest
As wages, how jib sails are cut to see
A weather gauge measure a typhoon sea
And signal words speak a level ballast.

“Am I Hamlet or Don Quixote?”

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“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…” – Hamlet

“Truly I was born to be an example of misfortune, and a target at which the arrows of adversary are aimed.” – Don Quixote

With ermine cuffs I sharpen up each gem
That studs this crown…No, Papa was not king
Despite this barber’s bowl. And Mama’s hymns
Remain in mind but there’s no will to sing.
Milan, more French than Roman, sings instead
Inside my veins – the fluted lace, the neat
And crimson fashions – coy frissons of the dead
Which resurrects a joy, now made complete
Confusion.
                  Oh, Papa! Oh, Mama! Since
I chose this road of sorrow, I confess
To neither left nor right. For Denmark’s prince
Well knew that failure proves its own success
And windmills creak and tilt upon the breeze
Canticles to a world I could not please.

John Barleycorn in Rags

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He is John, man in ragged overcoat
Long to withered knees
Manbeard made of clipped leaves and twigs

Man with face of rough bark
John who walks Saturday-night stupor
Through sibilant rings

Of maple, elm and linden leaves,
Swiftly satyr-dancing
Into crackling flower of fire

In peripatetic permutations, cough
Of dry staccato vespers, leaf to stone,
Each skeletal ballet whispers

He who is barrowed by mottled stile,
Stilled and waked in copper kettle,
Kegged and bunged for cooling cellar

In hoarse tones violent riots of autumn
Become seasonal rites trans-
Corporeal, quiet in slow burn

He is John of the demijohn
Bottle god of good folk,
Fanatic familiar of flagon, flask and firkin

His limber limbs are all consumed,
Sap-drunk as wasp and hornet
Dry and empty as cracked bobbin,

His spirit tumbles leaves down empty lanes
And empty well; he is spirit in wind,
He makes spirits from color, heat and motion

He is tall shoots and thick roots,
A shock of fruited stalks between
Breaks from his loamy scalp.

His anatomy taps boot heels,
Claps coarse palms. He, mate of dance,
Husband of hilarity, spouse of song.

Brittle brown leaves, fallen angels
Dancing down cold swift winds
Hymns that scrape, swirl and click

And always he must come along,
Always feed fire’s fermenting flower –
He empties nectar from his eye

He is John, and John must die.

Mularkey

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Here I was all set to vent my journalistic outrage (and privately, I did) regarding this kuffuffle, when a more staid and sober friend sent along the above as Exhibit A for The Possible Reason Behind the Reason Mularkey Had to Go

She also engages in a lot of modernist talk about art that I’m not sure squares with Catholic aesthetics – but I’ll let the philosophes among us make that call…

“Dorfman is an artist who understands that. The animated tactility of his work testifies to the obstinate fact that art comes to us from gifted hands in service to an eye. At the end of the day, sensibility is everything.”

As my friend asks, whither transcendence?

HT/DH

Walter Isaacson on Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricanes

In yesterday’s issue:

Walker Percy had a theory about hurricanes. “Though science taught that good environments were better than bad environments, it appeared to him that the opposite was the case,” he wrote of Will Barrett, the semi-autobiographical title character of his second novel, “The Last Gentleman.” “Take hurricanes, for example, certainly a bad environment if ever there was one. It was his impression that not just he but other people felt better in hurricanes.”

Percy was a medical doctor who didn’t practice and a Catholic who did, which equipped him to embark on a search for how we mortals fit into the cosmos. Our reaction to hurricanes was a clue, he believed, which is why leading up to the 10th anniversary of Katrina, it’s worth taking note not only of his classic first novel, “The Moviegoer,” but also of his theory of hurricanes as developed in “The Last Gentleman,” “Lancelot” and some of his essays.

Percy lived on the Bogue Falaya, a lazy, ­bayou-like river across Lake Pontchartrain from my hometown, New Orleans. He was a kindly gentleman whose face knew despair but whose eyes often smiled. With his wry philosophical depth and lightly worn grace, he was acutely aware of his alienation from the everyday world, but he could be an engaged companion when sitting on his porch sipping bourbon or holding court with aspiring writers at a lakefront seafood joint named Bechac’s. “My ideal is Thomas More, an English Catholic . . . who wore his faith with grace, merriment and a certain wryness,” he once said. That describes Percy well.

Indeed it does. Thank you, Walter

But will it also be true of earthquakes, when the really big one comes?

The Diocese of Dappled Things

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Came and went and I never even knew…

 

from Territorial Rights by Muriel Spark

Territorial Rights isn’t Spark at the top of her game, but even Spark at half power is more inspired than most writers at their best. It takes place in Venice, where a handful of English acquaintances improbably, ridiculously, end up at the same pensione. One is a young man, Robert, who has recently walked out on Curran, his chicken queen, in Paris in order to chase Lina, a young Bulgarian art student who may or may not be under surveillance by Bulgarian spies (the novel was published in 1979 and takes place not long before then).

Robert disappears, perhaps at the hands of those same Bulgarian spies, and Lina befriends Curran, who in turn gets her a job doing sociology research for his friend Violet, yet another English expatriate who does research abroad for a private detective agency. Leo, who is traveling with Grace, who is in Venice to find out about her former lover, Robert’s father (also in Venice, with yet another adulterous companion) on behalf of Robert’s mother (back in England).

Lina moves into the attic apartment of Violet and soon after begins sleeping with Leo (Robert, remember, has gone missing).

Another scream, a bang, a man’s voice protesting, trying to placate. Violet precipitated herself out to the landing, in time to see the little lift descending and, through its glass windows, Lina with her head thrown back dramatically and, her hands clutching her head, giving out frightful animalistic noises.

The lift passed the upper floor of Violet’s apartment and reached the ground floor of the building. Violet, followed by Curran, had run down the flight of stairs to meet the descending lift, while Grace, outside Violet’s landing joined the banister audience.

Lina flew out of the lift, still yelling wildly, barefoot, dressed in a huge yellow flannel nightdress and throwing her arms around in a way which was quite alarming to watch. Violet caught old of her, and Curran, too, tried to hold her, both joining the exclaiming chorus of people above in the tall echoing palazzo. ‘What’s the matter? … Lina, whatever is the matter? You’ll catch your death … Stop … Wait! ….’

But Lina had struggled free in a flash and had opened the front door. She ran out on to the landing-stage. She turned with her back t the water for just a moment in order to cry out ‘Leo is the son of a Jew — I have slept with a Jew — God, oh God! — I must cleanse myself! I die for shame!’ And with a further shriek the girl half-turned and dropped into the canal.

That would be a canal in Venice.

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