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Archives for May 2006

Word of the Week

zoösemiotics A branch of SEMIOTICS that studies the features of human COMMUNICATION which, as the end products of an evolutionary series, are shared with animal systems of communication; opposed to ‘anthroposemiotic’ features, which are exclusively human. Under the heading of ‘zoösemiotic features/systems’ fall certain features of tone of voice (cf. PARALANGUAGE), facial expression, gesture, etc. (cf. KINESICS, PROXEMICS), as well as several mechanisms of animal communication which seem not to overlap with human signalling systems (e.g. chemical signals, pheremones, echolocation).

[From: Crystal, David. Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Fourth Ed., Blackwell, 1997.]

The Mystery of Things

My review of Debra Murphy’s novel is up over at Godspy.


Thanks to MCM for passing along word of this obituary for Judith Moore in the Los Angeles Times.

This fellow wrote something as well.

Why I’m a Catholic

Why did I join the Catholic Church?

Out of boredom, when it comes right down to it. Everything else bored me to death — except God’s love, God’s majesty, God’s infinite intimacy and yet infinite distance, His mystery. And only in the Catholic Church are those preserved. Everywhere else under the sun is a yawning chasm of yawns and boredom unto death.

And yet there are these formidable forces within the Church, working to strip it of that majesty and that love and that mystery, and make it a place where boredom once again reigns, as it reigns everywhere else on Earth. The most scandalous thing about the much-publicized sexual abuse scandal, for example, is that it is so essentially boring, arising out of boredom and leading from boredom unto boredom.

Gosh, thanks.

The Catholic Press Association gave Swimming with Scapulars second place in the First Time Author category. I am honored and grateful – to the Association, and to the folks at Loyola who made the book possible, and made it better as well.


Who writes anything with FORM anymore? I’d like to hear from those of you who have read something recently that’s been written recently which has a) form b) matter and c) beauty all over.

I’m thinking of Shakespeare’s sonnets; Keats’ odes; Anonymous’ ballads (i.e. Sir Patrick Spense.); but also the classic architecture of a good Henry James novel or even that scarcest of animals: the epic. How ’bout a good ol’ fashioned weep till you cry tragedy?

Furthermore: why is “form” so formless anymore?

Henry Adams said that a chaotic age demands a chaotic art. But surely he didn’t mean what we have nowadays. (Take your pick: from dung on sacred things to urine on others in the plastic arts – to poems that sound more like Jim Morrison on a bad day and fiction that mean more to it’s author than to its readers.)

Admittedly, a jag of sorts in an early corner of the morning’s room.

A pretty good version of the good life.

Wisconsin IS Middle Earth…

Of course, I only this year got around to reading Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (I always preferred the Arthur C. Clarke type spaceships and hardware science fiction when I was growing up – and of course regret now having wasted my time on it and not making the acquaintance of Bilbo and Frodo earlier…).

But for those interested in knowing a bit more about my Wisconsin Life and How to Live It: You will be none to thrilled to know that by the sheer accidental allignments of fates and furies, muses and marplots, I was born in NJ. But, to echo Isaac Asimov’s own sentiments regarding his native USSR, I rectified that situation as soon as humanly possible.

(Not that NJ is the same as the USSR – although I recall Billy Joel once quoted as saying something to the effect of if you wanted to know what living under Communist bureaucracy was like, just visit a DMV in NJ…)

At any rate, by the sheer drift of my educational career (similiar in plot and character development to one of Spencer Tracy’s last films, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”) I wound up in Wisconsin. Many know, via Swimming with Scapulars, that it was the Earth Goddess, my wife Cecilia, who drew me, Belle Dame Sans Mercy-style, into the heart of the Oochcooch Mountains (as this glacially untouched region of southwest Wisconsin is known natively). And with six children, I might add, even today the glaciers know enough to stay away…

After living in NJ, California and Texas, I found Wisconsin, at least this corner of Wisconsin, the best of all possible post-Edenic worlds… I wish I knew how to post pics and I’d show you how I know this fact. We have limited time on this planet, and to find the place where you are, the place where every morning you can wake up to the bracing thought, “Mine,” well that’s worth at least a bit oof Souchang Lapsong tea in the bottom of a junk.

OK – I’m going to try to explain this better in a poem (yes…I can hear the groans already…)I wrote on this same issue to my wife….

Valhalla, Wisconsin

-for Cecilia

It should have been the very first thing you said,
But it came out only after
We worried enough grooves
In the hard-wood floors,
Made ample memories in the dusty windows,
And put sufficient shadows
On the walls, behind the pictures
We brought there with us.

It should have hit you like a dollop of inspiration,
A saying blurted out
In immediate apprehension,
An unthinking seeing
Of a whole in every part.
“Just imagine it,”
You could have said,
“Part Rhine castle, part Irish cottage — all Valhalla.”

Yet, it took the time and weight of multiple dynamics,
Of hot and humid nights
Combined with stolid in-laws, screaming babies, etc.
Like DNA blueprints
Layered on one another,
A grafted jungle of family trees,
Drafted ingeniously into genealogies of love,
To really bring it home:

We sat before the Muslim hum of the air-conditioner,
Lights low, kids asleep,
In-laws banished for the night,
A beer between us.
We cashed in our inventories of the day
On our inventory of days,
And you said, “It’s ours.”
Part sigh, part battle-cry, all Valhalla.


We’re trying to figger out how to git JOB up an’ runnin’ here at the Godsbody Lab…

Word of the Week

year’s mind n [ME yeris minde, fr. OE geargemynd, fr. gear year + gemynd memory, commemoration, mind — more at YEAR, MIND]: a Roman Catholic requiem mass for a deceased person held on or near the anniversary of death or burial — compare MONTH’S MIND

[From: the big dictionary in the library.]

JOB’s job…

So, I’ve been given the job of keeping us entertained while our good friend Mr. Lickona goes off and drinks himself silly up and down the California Coast – or whatever it is he’s doing (I honestly don’t know.)Before we start anything more serious, though, I thought I’d give you a bit about myself. Other than what you may or mayn’t read in Swimming with Scapulars (I might write an essay some day entitled, “I Swam Too…”), I live on 115 glorious acres (12 of which for tax purposes I own) of a farm in li’l ol’ Soldiers Grove, WI (about fifty miles south of La Crosse): It’s one claim to fame is that we had Agnes Morehead teach in a one room schoolhouse in our town before Orson Welles gave her her big break as Kane’s creepy mother.Up here in Badgerland, we have a regular Catholic Commune (I call it “Branch Davidian North” to scandalize the uninititiated) – three sisters and their husbands (of which I am one) and a brother (single, but working on it…) live on a farm with their father, a widower. There’s plenty of space for all (150 acres and three houses).There are aspects of our community which might be mistaken for radical – but I can assure you we thrive much better on reactionary karma…We recieve the Wall St. Journal, First Things and New Oxford Review (instead of Mother Jones, High Times and The Nation). Instead of constructing a sweat lodge somewhere on the premises, we have recieved permission to build a private Catholic chapel, complete with the Blessed Sacrament and with its completion (forecast: 2007 cum fingers crossed) we will declare our community experiment truly radical.We’re all educated through the Thomas Aquinas College/University of Dallas pipeline and take our faith as seriously as the Hippy community a valley or two over take their pleasure-seeking. Instead of arguing over which Grateful Dead “set” was better, the first part of the 73 Vegas show or the second half of the ’84 Boulder show, we have arguments over the New Mass vs. the Old Mass. We listen to Wilco, Jack Johnson, Ben Folds, U2 and Carbon Leaf; but we also listen to Thomas Tallis, Palestrina, Antonio Vivaldi, Archangelo Corelli and Joseph Haydn.We all drink extremely dry martinis and quality Wisconsin Leinenkugel beer (Northwoods Lager especially) and some of us smoke Camel cigarettes. We prefer potato vodka to pure grain. We have a kegerator (the marriage of beer keg and refrigerator in perfect post-Enlightenment technological harmony) in the basement which during the summer is usually full. Bottles of semi-frozen vodka are a regular fixture in the freezer portion of our refrigerators. We “do” alcohol and nicotine. We’ve never touched anything stronger.We also “do” Christ. We believe in the sacraments and recieve them on a regular basis and find that nothing stronger touches us.E.F. Schumacher and Hillaire Belloc are household names. We consider Chesterton as wise in the things of beer as in the things of the faith. And some of us actually own copies of Russel Kirk novels. Books, in general, far outnumber DVDs, videotapes and CDs in our houses.Every Friday and Saturday (except during Lent) we have an undeclared cocktail “hour” – which usually extends in the spirit of hilarity an hour or two – before, during and after dinner. But we also say family rosaries and discuss current events mostly in light of Church teaching. We are generally content with our lot though not without the usual tics and bugs of community living (it’s not Eden!).We maintain a (mostly) organic garden during the summer months, and can and perserve much of it for the winter months. We breathe easier with the first sign of spring; and grope for our blaze orange at the first sign of hunting season (otherwise known as autumn). Our deep-freezers are full of venison (and chicken, beef and pork, all farm raised).Some of us make a living working for the Church (one brother-in-law is a member of the curia for the Diocese of La Crosse and I, of course, work for its paper); some of us make a living working like the Church (my wife’s father and brother both took up Joseph and Jesus’ occupation: carpenter.) We have presented our scion a total of 13 grandchildren (so far…) – and eschew the notion that so many children are mere population pollution. All the women stay home with their children; all the men work their bones for their families’ sake. All children recieve their education at home and the older ones have no problem looking an adult in the eye and carrying on sensible conversation. The girls like to play dress up and the boys will pick up anything even vaguely resembling a gun barrel and start shooting… They’re homeschooled normal.Well, if I haven’t completely chased off Matthew’s clientele, I’ll be back again tomorrow with something a bit less about myself.

Gone Fishin’

Honored Readers,
The day job beckons, as do a couple of other projects. I’m putting the blog on hiatus for a while. Should anything earth-shattering happen here at Casa Godsbody, I’ll make a note of it, but otherwise, it’ll be pretty quiet. Thanks to all who have visited and all who have commented. You guys are the best.

Holy Crap, Percy’s Going to the Big Screen

Via MaudThe Second Coming is Coming To A Theater Near You. Fascinating that this should be the one to make the jump first. In some ways, it comes across as the least, well, moving – as in, motion. But there’s action at the heart of it, and Allison is a fantastic character. I’m all giddy.

Double Sigh.

Actual quote from Hollywood-type person, said to me sometime around 1999:

“What you should write is some kind of religious conspiracy thriller. It’s what’s hot right now. I keep reading about things like a piece of the devil’s horn kept in the basement of the Vatican.”

Godsbody – missing the boat since forever.

And so an end to the Code-postings.



Can We Talk?

About this?

P.S.: Don’t miss the link to the trailer at the bottom.


Kind Hearts and Coronets

The arch of a brow
A slim bridge between drama
And black comedy

Well, the arch of a brow and Alec Guinness playing eight members of a wretched English family…