Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

Risen Indeed!

… like a bat outta …

However appropriate, I suppose this metaphor might seem a little confusing, given the season.

Still, the point is, they made it!!!

Congratulations to Matthew & Mark and everybody involved with the project. We’re looking forward to the first episode!

Father Loisy’s Still Life with Book and Pears

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The search for truth is not a trade by which a man can support himself; for a priest it is a supreme peril. – Alfred Loisy

The morning sun is threading through the haze
That hangs above my head. Tobacco’s whiff
Occludes this April’s finer fragrances.
I break my fast on pears and wonder if
The foolish faith within my heart corrects
The proofs of falsehood – my grandest grazie
To God! These fondled pages – each dissects
The saints’ exquisite corpses, prima facie.

And deep in thought, I stab my cigarette
At earthenware from which I ate the fruit.
The sticky ash that crumbs and smears my plate
Evolved from gold ciborium and cruet.
And so these browning table pears don’t rot
But change, project, develop, recreate…

Contract Time

to the tune of “Be Thou My Vision”

The helicopter in my head hovers
like a hummingbird, like a big fat Q
over/above the eternal word,
its muffled dubba-dubba-dubba-dubba

beating back everything underneath:
a field of grain, weird waves on water,
newspapers, hats, even the satellite dish
—the swirling all of everything—

on top of that thing we call “a building.”
Men with briefcases come running.
The Maharishi, the Dalai Lama
and the pope approach, dresses flapping

as our star appears in sunglasses,
shielding her eyes from a still mighty wind.
Yeah, it’s a comedy! Or a tragedy,
whatever you want … just sign here for me baby,

You know I’m your biggest fan.

‘What else is there?’

Frames from Mad Men Episode 5.8, 'Lady Lazarus'

Frames from Mad Men Season 5, Episode 8, ‘Lady Lazarus’

Last season […] I was showing that the culture [of the United States in 1968] was like Don. It was carnal, it was anxious, it was having a huge self-confidence problem… And now [in Season Seven] I want to look at the material and immaterial world. Things that are of this world — ambition, success, money, and time to some degree — and the contrast of what we can’t see, the spiritual, the internal life… When your needs are met, when you have a roof over your head[…] and at a certain point those needs are met, what else is there?

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner on the show’s seventh (and final) season, which premieres this Sunday night; interview with amc.com dated April 7, 2014; emphasis added.

***

DON DRAPER (1960)

You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.

–Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 1 (‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’)

***

DON DRAPER (1960)

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.

–Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 1 (‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’)

***

DON DRAPER (1967)

You’re happy because you’re successful… for now.  But what is happiness?  It’s a moment before you need more happiness.

–Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton, Mad Men, Season 5, Episode 12 (‘Commissions and Fees’)

***

ROGER STERLING (1967)

What are the events in life? It’s like, you see a door. The first time you come to it, you say, ‘Oh, what’s on the other side of the door?’ Then you open a few doors and then you say, ‘I think I want to go over a bridge this time. I’m tired of doors.’ Finally you go through one of these things, and you come out the other side, and you realize that’s all there are: doors! And windows and bridges and gates. And they all open the same way. And they all close behind you. Look, life is supposed to be a path, and you go along, and these things happen to you, and they’re supposed to change your direction, but it turns out that’s not true.  Turns out the experiences are nothing. They’re just some pennies you pick up off the floor, stick in your pocket, and you’re just going in a straight line to you-know-where.

–Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 6, Episode 1 (‘The Doorway, Part 1’)

***

DON DRAPER (1960)

I remember the first time I was a pallbearer. […] I remember thinking, ‘They’re letting me carry the box, they’re letting me be this close to it, they re not hiding anything from me now.’ And then I looked over and I saw all the old people waiting together by the grave and I remember thinking I… I just moved up a notch.

[…]

Jesus, Rachel, this is it. This is all there is, and I feel like it’s slipping through my fingers like a handful of sand. This is it. This is all there is.

–Bridget Bedard and Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton and Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 10 (‘Long Weekend’)

***

What, after all, is the use of not having cancer, cirrhosis, and such, if a man comes home from work every day at five-thirty to the exurbs of Montclair or Memphis and there is the grass growing and the little family looking not quite at him but just past the side of his head, and there’s Cronkite on the tube and the smell of pot roast in the living room, and inside the house and outside in the pretty exurb has settled the noxious particles and the sadness of the old dying Western World, and him thinking: Jesus, is this it? Listening to Cronkite and the grass growing?

–Walker Percy, ‘Bourbon’, Esquire 84 (December 1975): pp. 148-149; collected in Signposts in a Strange Land

Words of a Dying Man for Lent

A great personal reflection on Mr. Bones from the late Mario Palmaro, Italian author and journalist and, yes, Triddywacker:

The first thing that shakes you up about sickness is that it hits us without any warning and at a time we do not decide. We are at the mercy of events, and we can do nothing but accept them. Grave illness obliges one to become aware that we are truly mortal; even if death is the most certain thing in the world, modern man tends to live as if he should never die.

 In sickness you understand for the first time that life on earth is but a breath, you recognize with bitterness that you have not made it that masterpiece of holiness God had wanted. You experience a profound nostalgia for the good that you could have done and for the bad that you could have avoided. You look at the Crucifix and you understand that this is the heart of the Faith; without sacrifice Catholicism wouldn’t exist. Then you thank God for having made you a Catholic, a “little ” Catholic, a sinner, but who has an attentive Mother in the Church. So, grave sickness is a time of grace, but often the vices and miseries that have accompanied us in life remain, or even increase [during it]. It is as if the agony has already begun, and there is a battle going on for the destiny of my soul, because nobody can be sure of their own salvation.

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 14-19

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One chapter down; forty to go! Today’s post concludes Part 1, Chapter 1 of my attempt to rewrite Crime and Punishment as a verse novel à la Eugene Onegin.

Click here and scroll down to review the story to date.

Thanks to all who have read along so far. As always, your comments — including, but not limited to, negative comments — would be very welcome.

Is the story bogging down at any point? Is the action or setting ever confusing? Are there any trite rhymes? Any syntactic absurdities, prosodic infelicities, or lapses of characterization?

And is there anything that ‘works’ especially well?

1.1.14
He scans the space: a table (smallish),
A sofa (tall), and chairs (a few) —
All cheap and old, yet bright with polish,
Immaculate; the floor gleams, too.
(‘Lizavéta’s work’, he thinks; ‘that’s certain.’)
Here hangs a small icon… A curtain
Hangs there, in lieu of bedroom doors;
Beyond it stands a chest of drawers,
He knows — though he has yet to enter
The shadow of that shrouded cell….
… His hostess pipes up sternly: ‘Well?’
‘I’d like to pawn…’ he says; presents her
A pocket watch (worn silver-plate).
‘Good sir, your payment’s two days late:

1.1.15
‘Your other pledge is past redemption.’
‘I know, Alyóna, ma’am — my ring….
Please give me just a month’s extension.’
‘I’ll do as I please with that thing.’
‘Well…. How much for this watch? It’s silver.’
‘Not even worth the work to pilfer
A piece of trash like that, my friend.’
‘It was my father’s…. If you’ll lend
Four roubles, ma’am, I will redeem it.’
‘I see. Before, I was too nice —
I lent you more than that ring’s price.
As for this watch, now, take or leave it:
A rouble and a half.’ ‘You might —
One and a half, good sir.’ ‘…….. All right.’

1.1.16
She takes her keys out of her pocket;
She takes his watch behind the shroud.
He strains his ears; hears her unlock it —
The top drawer, scraping high and loud….
While he had been discreetly peering
At her (right pocket’s) steely keyring,
One key’d looked larger than the rest:
(‘Not for a drawer…. A trunk? A chest?
… But this is all so nauseating!’)
‘You owe me thirty-five, all told.’
(She’s back!) ‘Here’s one-fifteen; I’ll hold
The watch.’ He stands there, hesitating —
Then speaks: ‘In one more day… or two
… I might… have another pledge… for you…

1.1.17
‘… A cigarette case… silver… fancy!’
‘All right. We’ll talk about it then.
Good night.’ ‘Your sister! Any chance she
Might sort of… sometimes… wander in?’
‘What do you want with Lizaveta?’
‘Oh, nothing, ma’am.’ ‘You want to meet her?’
‘No no, madame, I just… Good-bye.’
He turns, and goes — and starts to cry:
‘Oh God! Can I –? Can I imagine?
How could –? Is my mind capable –?
My heart, so hateful? Horrible!
A month! A month, bent to this passion –!’
His self-disgust is oceans wide….
He sinks, and chokes — and steps outside.

1.1.18
The evening sun continues bleeding
Its dying light upon the host
Of Petersburg, while, all unheeding,
Our Rodya passes like a ghost
Among them, heart and mind encumbered:
He reels, colliding like a drunkard
Along the boulevard, until
His feet and thoughts at last are still:
Up from a dingy basement tavern,
Two tipsy, cursing men emerge;
Raskolnikov now has the urge
To go spelunk that urban cavern.
A sticky table; frosty beer;
A gulp. His thoughts begin to clear!

1.1.19
‘No need to worry any longer,’
He says — and smiles! — with rising cheer.
‘A simple side-effect of hunger;
Just takes a little bread and beer!’
Smiles all around! Lighthearted, hearty,
He beams at one departing party
(Four men; a girl; accordion),
Grins at a fat Siberian.
Above the pale cucumber salads,
Black bread, and kippers past their peak
— Which emanate an evil reek —
Drone mediocre drinking ballads.
An ex-official sits aloof —
Alone, but for his eighty-proof.

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 11, 12, & 13

630px-Piranesi03 - Sawhorse

The adaptation of Crime and Punishment into a verse novel à la Eugene Onegin continues.

Click here to catch up on the story.

1.1.11

If you’ll excuse the interruption,
Dear reader — Something in the way
Of a digression on the Russian
For ‘crime’: It’s ‘prestuplénie’,
Which (in more literal translation)
Means (to a close approximation)
Transgression, or ‘a step across’ —
Concision’s gain, nuance’s loss.
(I claim no special erudition;
I’m just repeating what I’ve read,
But this is what I think it said
In Norton’s Critical Edition.)
We here conclude our brief aside
And rejoin Rodya in mid-stride.

1.1.12

He’s in. His hostess glowers sharply —
Sharp little eyes, sharp little nose:
A tiny, desiccated harpy,
Of sixty years, one would suppose.
Her head is bare; her hair is sallow,
Just touched with grey, smeared thick with tallow.
Her neck is yellow, long, and thin —
Much like the leg of some old hen.
Upon her shoulders hangs a mangy
Old capelet cut from yellowed fur,
For even summer’s cold to her.
She coughs, regarding Rodya strangely.
(‘Does she suspect –? Of course, I must
Act all-correct… establish trust…

1.1.13

‘… show some respect — That’s always prudent!’),
He thinks, and makes a little bow.
‘Raskolnikov, madame — a student.
I came last month…. I’ve come back now.’
‘I know, good sir.’ She’s brusque and hurried.
(‘Was she this way before? I’m worried….
Her piercing eyes… her voice’s edge….’
)
‘I’m here about — about a pledge!’
She glares, then points — still coughing, groaning,
‘In there, good sir.’ And so he goes
Into a faded room that glows
With ruby hues before the gloaming…
Stained scarlet by a long, late ray….
(‘The sun will blaze like thisthat day!’)

Located: Source of clown dearth

foto-abuso-liturgico-494

Just in case anyone was wondering where all those pesky clowns went

The American Catholic Church, which emphasizes property rights and the integrity of neighborhoods, retained the Latin Mass and plays The Star-Spangled Banner at the elevation of the host.

In a tent! On a boat! In a field! On a haybale! On a suitcase! Liturgical dancers! Rainbow stoles! Superman vestments! Dogs! Magicians! Pig roasts! More Rainbow stoles! Sit-down/lay-down Mass! (Did we mention rainbow stoles?) Light Sabers! Puppets! Giant Puppets! Life-sized Puppets! Monster Puppets! Liturgically dancing puppets! Oh, and look, even Masons! Yes, all of it and more at …. Missa Whatshappeningnow!

Ah, yes, the times they are a changin’.

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 9 and 10

1024px-Giovanni_Battista_Piranesi_-_Prison_-_Google_Art_Project

In honor of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs, whose feast-day was 14 February, here are the latest stanzas in my ongoing project of adapting Crime and Punishment to the sonnet-stanza form of Eugene Onegin. It’s been thirteen-and-a-half months since the last update, but, plot-wise, things are, I daresay, on the verge of getting real.

Click here to read the previous stanzas.

I welcome your comments, whether effusive or abusive.

1.1.9

The stairs he climbs are dark and narrow.
‘Still dark… still safe…. That’s good… but think!
Just now, I’m frozen to the marrow!
How, then, will I feel… on the brink
Of –?
’ Rodya all but crashes into
A pair of porters — two old men who
Are lugging down the furniture
From someone’s flat… Fourth floor! He’s sure
It’s from the old crone’s only neighbor.
‘That German clerk is clearing out
… So no one else will be about
If I…. That’s good! Then why belabor
The point? It’s time. I’m doing well….’
He’s at the door. He rings the bell —

1.1.10

And flinches from its tinny tinkling:
Its feeble chime seems to recall
Some distant, half-remembered inkling.
‘That certain sound…? It’s nothing! All
These flats have bells like that! … I know this!
Why did I cringe? It goes to show this
Is still too soon; I’m still too weak
For now!’ The hinges groan and creak:
A little gap; a glimpse; the glitter
Of wary eyes that peek, then spy
The porters and the clerk nearby.
The hag seems reassured a bit: Her
Apartment door now opens wide —
And now, our Rodya steps inside.

Alphonse is Kids’ Stuff