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Monday, October 27, 2003

Earth to Jesus . . .

I can’t go into it right now but if y’all could find it in your hearts to toss some prayers up for my sister Hon and the mini-munchkins Ola and Pojo, please do so. This a time of great trial and she and the rest of the ‘Ski family are in dire need of an Amen corner.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, October 27, 2003 | link

Vacation.

My upcoming absence is not due to laziness. I am off Oktoberfesting. This is more of a tactical retreat than a vacation but the fact remains I’ll be AWOL until Friday.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, October 27, 2003 | link

Football Roundup.

Alabama lost in 47th overtime. Okay, only fifth but the game was really long. Their guard broke his leg in a truly Thiesman-ish injury in the first quarter. I mean a full 90-degree-angle-to-his-shin break. It was so bad Shaud Williams lost last week’s chunks. Seriously, he puked on the field. Alabama hung in, blowing a mid-range field goal just before the end of regulation. They went back and forth for 4 OTs but finally lost. Bama has a tendency to play only 56 minutes of ball, and they did so this week. But they woke up and played hard in OT. Bama ain’t great this year but they show some promise for next year and beyond. May I just say that the OT rules should be changed a bit. After third OT, no more field goals. If it gets to fifth OT, the players should get bats.

Green Bay was on bye-week so they put off losing until next week. The Patriots won but they were boring as they did so. The Pats got no offense. The D seems to have come together (mostly) but they can’t get anything consistent on offense. They’ve got what they need, it just ain’t working. Yet they win. That’s what surprises me. They keep winning. Spooky.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, October 27, 2003 | link

A-Bove it all.

Look, Bob’s been linked by the Two Sleepy Mommies! He always did have a way with the wimmins. If Lady Peony plays her cards right, she could get a theme poem. If Spam gets one . . .

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, October 27, 2003 | link

Ah, Childhood.

The cookies, the games, the coke residue on the bendy straws. La Landes, the resident femme fatale at the OMC, gives us the lowdown.

I should mention that Patricius Maximus is on vacation and has brought in a babe and a hairless guy to post in his absence. La Landes, the babe, is starting strong.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, October 27, 2003 | link

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Friday, October 24, 2003

Gioia Update

My October 20th post on poet and essayist Dana Gioia’s Erasmus Lecture at the Union League Club in NYC implied I’d be getting a transcript, but I’ve been informed by Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, whose Institute on Religion and Public Life Institute invited Gioia, that none is available, though the lecture will be published sometime in a future First Things issue. As soon as that happens, I will post here—I guarantee it will be worth the wait.

In that same post I also referred readers to two of Gioia’s notable essays available on the Web. The second is particularly important because it is the product of the current chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—an exhaustive, impartial survey of the popular poetry scene in America, in which Gioia (pronounced JOY-ah) makes the astonishing prediction that poetry in our age will outlast the novel, that, in fact, poetry is alive and well. Again, the essay is long and in pdf: "Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture".

In it he asks, "What will be the poet's place in a society that has increasingly little use for books, little time for serious culture, little knowledge of the past, little consensus on literary value and--even among intellectuals--little faith in poetry itself?" Among his points is the observation that, "the orthodox views of contemporary poetry no longer are either useful or accurate in portraying the rapidly changing shape of the art," and that "the forces most affecting contemporary poetry now mostly come from altogether outside the tradition."

As a poet who has his feet planted somewhat unsteadily both inside and outside academia, I heartily agree with Gioia when he writes, "Without a doubt the most surprising and significant development in recent American poetry has been the wide-scale and unexpected reemergence of popular poetry--namely rap, cowboy poetry, poetry slams, and certain overtly accessible types of what was once a defiantly avant-garde genre, performance poetry." And, he adds, "all these new poetic forms have thrived without the support of the university or the literary establishment."

Remember, Gioia's purpose here is not to judge the quality of popular poetry--or the quality of MFA product--but to place it all in context. It's easy to worry about the state of poetry from inside the academy, but teachers of all stripes must always remind themselves, as Hugh Kenner once wrote, citing Pound, I believe, "The classroom is in the world. The world isn't in the classroom."

It also helps to remember that most of the poems out there in any given era are pretty awful, no matter the context. Ditto for the rest of the arts. The difference now, unfortunately, is that teaching the good works no longer seems to interest either English departments or MFA programs, an undeniable symptom, an indicator that decadence, if not divine, has at least proved to be a successful virus.

posted by Robert on Friday, October 24, 2003 | link

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Linguistic Note.

Yes, I did just coin the word “derbilicious.” I am also the proud creator of “ramesherrific.” My greatest verbal triumph, and the neologism most likely to get on heavy rotation on the OMC, is “Borktacular!”

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, October 23, 2003 | link

Ars Derbica! Yeehaw!!!

The Derb has succumbed! He has finally started writing up his adventures in La Divina Alabama. The One True State is finally getting the respect she deserves. I do hope this doesn’t make any of those fool Yankees want to move here. Derb rocks! He should get a medal from the Axis of Weevil. Or at least pride of place when we take over the world. Just read this derbilicious article. Check out his appreciation of our wiser than average politicians:

“Another pleasure in Alabama was reading the local political news. A while before I arrived, the state had realized that it was headed for a budget crunch. The governor thereupon set out to raise taxes. This did not sit well with Alabamians, who do not like taxes . . . they [the citizens] decisively voted down the governor's tax increases.

“What's a politician to do? If this was New York or California, the governor would just have hiked taxes anyway. In fact both the legislature of New York State and the Mayor of New York City have responded to their respective fiscal crises by raising state spending! There's always a way to override these annoying referendum results — a ruling from some friendly judge generally does the trick. Then, to fudge those equally annoying numbers, the boys in the backroom would have cooked up some fancy new kind of bond, putting citizens in hock for 30 years in order to pay the next three years' current expenditures. That's how things are done, isn't it?

“Nope, not in Alabama: Governor Riley called a special session of the legislature . . . and they set about cutting state spending! Private agencies that have been getting state money for years will now get none. ‘Teacher professional development’ boondoggles (i.e. get a Ph.D. while drawing a state salary) have been cut; so has ‘classroom technology’ (i.e. computer games to occupy your kids while the teacher works on his Ph.D. thesis); so have welfare services. Can we get Pataki and Bloomberg down here for some lessons?”


There should be one more installment to Derb’s Ode to the Southern Promised Land. I wait with barbecued breath.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, October 23, 2003 | link

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Bye-Bye Barbarism.

The Senate approved a bill banning Partial Birth abortion, one of the most sadistic of unnecessary operations imaginable. If Mengele were an abortionist, this would be his preferred method. First, you induce a breech birth, then “freeze” the labor with the baby’s head still inside the birth canal. Then you fracture the baby’s skull and suck his brains out. Even the AMA, abortion rights champions though they are, has admitted the procedure is never medically necessary. In fact, it’s more dangerous for the mother than a normal delivery would be. Congress tried to ban the torture before but Guess Who vetoed it. Bush promises to sign the ban. Good for him. Good for Congress. Good for the unborn.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 | link

Football Roundup.

I had a most righteous head cold this weekend and that can really put a damper on a football game. I didn’t watch any games Saturday. I did watch the Patriots on Sunday. The Patsies played a long, hard game against the Dolphins and the refs. There were some very questionable, very intrusive calls. Still, the Pats pulled it out in OT, after some coin toss weirdness. Or maybe I imagined the coin toss weirdness. No, I wasn’t on any decongestants so I think the refs really did futz the toss. All three Pats players protested simultaneously. They said the ref I.D.ed heads and tails one way before the toss and another after or something. He must have because that’s a pretty stupid thing to make up. I did not watch the Pack as they played like old geezers in a tar pit. They must have spent all their mojo in last week’s yawnathon. Favre did injure his thumb but this is their bye-week. He’ll start in their upcoming loss to Minnesota.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 | link

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Monday, October 20, 2003

Catholic Poet, Unchained

Last Thursday, I had immense pleasure attending a lecture by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman and noted poet Dana Gioia—a Bush appointee unanimously confirmed by the Senate!— to a packed ballroom at the venerable Union League Club in mid-town Manhattan. Entitled “The Christian Writer Today,” Gioia’s presentation was this year’s installment of the Erasmus Lecture, sponsored by The Institute of Religion and Public Life, the folks who bring you First Things.

I intend to write more on the lecture later, but for now it is enough to say that Mr. Gioia was superb, not only because of the content of his lecture but because he seemed so at home in the Union League's environs and in front of a very sharp audience (including Jewish intellectual Midge Decter, author of a forthcoming book on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld). I felt he was speaking directly to me—and I'm sure many felt he was speaking directly to them—a skill the poet no doubt honed during his years as a marketing vice president at General Foods.

Gioia sensibly narrowed his focus to American Catholic poets and fiction writers. Hence, he discussed the past more than the present, surveying notable Catholic writers from roughly 1945-1965 and contrasting their very public Catholicism (think Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy) with the dearth of self-identified Catholic creative writers on the contemporary scene.

He noted the irony in the current situation, given that the Church is now the largest religious group in the U.S. and is the fastest growing and that Catholics simultaneously have abandoned the plastic and literary arts to secular culture. His prescription, ultimately, was for Catholic poets in particular to gather their courage and announce their beliefs—though he did say the announcement might be followed promptly by martyrdom. But coming from Mr. Bush's NEA chairman, this call was more than a little encouraging. In the lively, generally friendly Q&A following his lecture, Gioia was asked if the NEA would continue to ignore Catholic writers and he very smoothly said that as chairman of a Federal agency he was under oath to represent all Americans, including Catholics. He ended his lecture with the apt “Unsaid,” from his 2002 American Book Award winner for poetry, Interrogations at Noon.

For more Gioia, go to his most recent essay, a long one, in Hudson Review (Spring 2003): “Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture.” His famous Atlantic Monthly piece (later expanded into a book) from May 1991, “Can Poetry Matter?,” can be found here.

posted by Robert on Monday, October 20, 2003 | link

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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Happy Anniversary!

Happy silver anniversary to my beloved Pappa! Today marks 25 years since Karol Wojtyla was elected to the Throne of Peter as John Paul II. He is a most worthy successor to the Apostles. From proclaiming Christ to taking down the Commies, Pappa has made history. The other sites are issuing cheeery blessings like Sto lat or Multi anni or even giving serious commentary. That is not the Spinster way. Our way is vulgar, inappropriate debate. So here's your topic kiddies:

John Paul II: hoss, bad ass, neither or both?

I say he's both a hoss and a bad ass.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, October 16, 2003 | link

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Football Roundup.

I have a sore throat and I’m tired so here’s a quickie. The Patsies played very well and trounced the Giants. That isn’t saying much because anybody can trounce the Giants. Fassell, the G-men’s coach, may be a truly wonderful human being (he is, didn’t you watch that episode of adoption stories? The man’s a hero for this pro-lifer) but he is a lousy head coach. He flat out doesn’t adjust. Once the game plan is set pre-game, it stays. The other team adjusts and kills the G-men.

Notre Dame finally switched QBs and won this week. I guess I’ll have to watch them next week. Auburn won over UGA which shocks me no end. Bama won too but I think they other guys were in red too and that irks me.

The Packers choked and handed their game to the Chiefs. I was expecting a great game and didn’t get one. The Chiefs were pretty mediocre. They should have kept the score closer. They didn’t do anything until the 4th quarter and the Pack’s defense was tired. Even then they only made one real drive. The other points were off a fluke interception. No really, it wasn’t a Bonehead Brett pass. It was deflected. Brett played beautifully. It made me glad to be alive and able to watch the glorious passer that is Brett Favre. The man has been touched by God, presuming Touchdown Jesus likes pro ball. Anyway, the Chiefs didn’t win, the Pack lost. I was disappointed in the Chiefs. They ain’t what their record says they should be.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 | link

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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Der Ah-nuld.

Okay, so he won. Better than Taxamante. One thing though: after Arnold won, we got the typical “reaches out to Democrats” headlines. Ignoring the fact that “reaching out” means “selling out your base.” I’ve noticed that the Dems never do this, even when they have campaigned on their promise to do so. What I want to know is, why can’t we just once see a headline about a victorious Pubbie “dropping pants and showing butt” to Democrats?

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 | link

The Best Thing About Football Season . . .

Is the yearly reminder of why I don’t watch TV much anymore. From the network promos on heavy, very heavy, rotation during the games, I will be TV-free for a long time to come. There’s the new sitcom about the boy raised by right-wing troglodytes who falls for the girl raised by liberal gays. You just know that will be a monument to Hollywood’s tolerance and understanding. Gag. Then there’s my fave lame-o-rama, Skin. The DA’s son and the Pornographer’s daughter get it on! I am still confused as to why a man who market’s women’s bodies as disposable playthings would get upset when some guy uses his daughter like a disposable plaything. Isn’t that the ideal the porn guy is trying to create? Sounds like a heady combination of the overwrought and sanctimonious, but at least it’s not “ripped from today’s headlines.” Those were the most amusing promos. The one that annoys me most is the Cold Case promo. Do the networks think the American people are so dumb they’ve never heard of cold case squads. Like the tough bimbette cop is going to break new ground. All in all, my post-season viewing schedule looks like it will be back to Brit Hume.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 | link

Football Round Up.

Holy Cow, the Patsies won! They beat the Titans, a far superior team. McNair is the QB I want Brady to be when he grows up. This was an incredibly good game. The Titans played good, but for them that’s not good. They should be playing great. The Patriots played much better than they have been. They were still too light on the pass rush. They were also plagued with the same bad play calling and bad execution that has been their trademark. Vinitieri whiffed 2 FGs inside the 40. Color me shocked. But he made a later, longer FG so I guess it’s just a slump. Dump the coach and we’ve got a chance.

Green Bay came on strong in their game against the Seahawks. The Pack won in what turned out to be a great football game. The Seahawks stayed in the game until the end. Even when they trailed badly they would suddenly throw it into gear and tighten up the score. It kept you on your toes. The emotional game was decided once Favre got into that fight with the defensive back. The defensive player nailed Favre in what Brett took to be a cheap shot (it wasn’t) and the refs had to break things up. That’s the old Favre spark. This game gave me real hope for the season. The Seahawks have shaped up to be a fine team this year.

As for college ball, the Notre Dame boycott continues. Auburn actually beat Tennessee. I was hoping the Bore Eagles would lose the big games and get Tubberville fired. Harumph. Alabama lost, which is no surprise now that they are down to their third string QB. The starter, Croyle, went down with an injured left shoulder. The back-up, Pennington, went down with an injured right shoulder. They looked like bookends. The third stringer played pretty well but couldn’t do anything about the onslaught of the UGAs. I think it was the UGAs. Bama’s got to stop playing teams in red uniforms. It’s getting so you can’t tell who's playing.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 | link

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Sunday, October 05, 2003

Reap, Sow, Suffer.

The self-destructive infantilism that is Permanent Adolescence has been rotting modern American society from the inside out. An entire generation has rejected the responsibilities of adulthood and demanded an eternal youth full of instant pleasure and no consequences. Everything and everyone else exists to either subsidize their games or to act as pawns to further the fun. Yes, the Boomers, spoiled beyond redemption by the alleged “Greatest generation” and spawners of the paralytically cynical Gen X, have broken with society as anyone knew it and have striven to remake the ruins in their own image. Viewing the world completely in terms of what will give them immediate pleasure, they and the modern culture they have forged have cast off the necessary duties that make society function. Not just big duties, like child-rearing or caring for aged parents, but little duties as well, like saying “please” and “thank you.” Not that anyone else can shirk these duties. Woe unto any older parent who insists their fully-grown Boomer kid pay his own freight. Woe to any half-civilized trophy child who doesn’t treat his elders with the respect he was never taught.

This is not merely a generational failure. No matter how spoiled and self-indulgent the Boomers may be they only destroyed what those around them refused to defend. As this most destructive generation raged against the social mores that inconvenienced them, like chastity, marriage, fidelity, parenthood, adulthood, it was their parents and elder brothers who gave in, issue after issue, tut-tutting and saying, “well, they’re just young . . .” Thus one generation, then another, remained “young” in mind and spirit, until they were little more than over-grown, squalling toddlers. The question, “what happened?” may be simple but it is Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (qtd. Bove, Monday Morning Morals) who responds: “The more complicated answer arises from the assumptions of our culture as a whole, especially its escalating sexual permissiveness, its loss of spiritual direction, its pathological fear of human mortality and the related cult of youth, its dedication to instant gratification and disdain for sacrifice, and, perhaps most portentously, its abandonment of children.”

Robert Bove has posted several pieces in past week or two dealing with this same topic. I am essentially tossing my two cents in his fountain. Bob made the cumulative point that we live in a culture shaped by over-ripe adolescents. They want the peace and enlightenment of a mature spirituality but refuse to put in the hard labor of serious prayer, contemplation, and belief. They want a culture that reassures them of their guiltlessness even as they demand the exercise of worse and worse debauchery. They want sainthood without faith. They want to rut like whores and be as respected as angels. And we as a nation have allowed them to act as if this could ever be so. Bob is also right to zero in on the spiritual aspects of cultural self-destruction.

If Chesterton was right in claiming that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”, then Bob is equally right in saying that “post-modern, post-Christian culture offers nothing of substance because its producers worship nothing but the will.” (cf. Nothing is Real.) The spiritual rot at the heart of modern culture is not merely the loss of serious Christianity, but its replacement with the worship of the Self. Those who believe in a god outside themselves tend to worship God-as-Lucky-Rabbit’s-Foot. This deity exists solely to bestow blessings and miracles upon the wonder that is you. When the harshness of reality (or morality) intrudes upon this Holy Mirror of Love, the offending god is traded in for a more supportive model. In the end, modern culture bows down to the only deity that truly reflects its maker, themselves.

What all this spiritual stuff means to society as a whole is a citizenry that privileges itself above all else. If its responsibilities get in the way, an inconvenient spouse, a demanding child, an expensive elder, that obstacle to self-actualization must be eliminated. The divorce severs the unwanted spouse, the abortion or the round-the-clock child care gets rid of the clinging urchin, and the merciful doctor “relieves” Granny of her burden on your inheritance. Severing one's ties to previous generations and refusing to establish ties to the next, our culture may have a fun here-and-now, but the future is going to be hell.

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, October 05, 2003 | link

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Thursday, October 02, 2003

Derb-Bama!

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! The allure of the One True State has brought yet another furriner into the glorious Light of La Divina Alabama. The great John Derbyshire describes his sojourn to the Southern Promised Land.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, October 02, 2003 | link

Football Round Up.

I refused to watch Notre Dame. I will not watch them until Holiday gets benched. Auburn racked up a decisive victory over the Appalachian School for Blind Quadriplegics, I mean, Western Kentucky. Alabama lost, but barely, to Arkansas. They played hard but couldn’t hold on to finish ‘er out. Also, their kicker missed the field goal in OT. Bama is definitely back. They’re playing some great football. Even their loses are good games.

The New Englan’ Patriots have, in my mind, been obliterated by nuclear bombs and their radioactive ash scattered to the four winds. When Adam Vinitieri whiffs a FG inside 45 yards, it’s a sign that God doesn’t love you anymore and you should just cast thine own ass into the smoldering bowels of Gehenna. Brady’s 2 INTs hurt the Patsies more than one measly FG, although they only lost by 3 points. This game was all bad play calling, bad decisions by the QB, and the loss of the Almighty’s affections (see Vinitieri’s whiff).

Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle; this time I think we go through the middle. And they did, all game long. Green Bay that is. And they actually won. No really, they did. Decisively, even. If only they played like this against somebody other than the Bears. Favre only threw one interception, which is like none for any other quarterback. They ran the ball. They passed the ball. Special teams looked darn special. Their only weakness is defense. They are too shallow on defense. The Bears came alive in the third period and drove down the field. The longer the drive, the slower and weaker the D got. Even without injuries the Pack are shallow. They can’t rotate their line or their secondary and the defense just gets worn out. Then they get beaten. Luckily Favre led a nice, long drive back down the field and let the defense rest. They should have drafted a few less receivers and a few more linesmen.

The Chiefs were smokin’, however. They looked very strong. Holmes was still most of their offense but I think they could win without him. I have a few qualms defensively, but by the time this game came on I had had a bit too much to drink. So would you if you had been watching the Patsies.

Oh, yes, Rush. No I didn’t hear the comments. I don’t watch ESPN. ESPN is never watched, it is endured. They have the lousiest announcers in football and they never shut up. Back to Rush, he did make some comment about Donovan McNabb of the Iggles being overrated because he’s black. This was certainly rude and pretty dumb to say on air but I don’t think the remarks were resignation worthy. The NFL has spent the last 5 years racializing its organization (seen their new guidelines for hiring head coaches? The next black coach hired might as well have the word “token” tattooed on his forehead) so extending that idea to the playing field isn’t unthinkable. I don’t recall any of these Flush Rushies making a principled defense of the Lions when they got fined $500,000 for hiring their coach on the basis of his abilities instead of his skin color. The people who caved to Jesse Jackson and Johnnie Cochran on one issue look pretty laughable when they scream for colorblindness on another.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, October 02, 2003 | link

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Contact Spinster Lee Ann at calhounista_at_hotmail

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Two Babes and a Bob! Opinion, insight, commentary, sarcasm, scathing polemic, and wit by Lee Ann, Carol, and Robert. Featuring the spectral presence of Gena.
Contact the Spinsters at: brodskii@yahoo.com (Gena) calhounista@hotmail.com (Lee Ann)

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