[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball


bright, shining new poet

my boss, judge alexander, brought me a book of poems and photographs by kids enrolled in the new orleans center for creative art / riverfront, one of whom happens to be her niece, hallie rundle. i was stunned. literally. the work was superb, across the board. i emailed hallie and got her permission (thanks, hallie!) to put one of her poems on my blog for y'all to read. i think you'll agree that it's amazing work for any poet, much less one still in high school.

Her long fingers are these narrow streets
that loop into each other,
all bending toward the sea.

The dark fringe of her hair
is the low black sky hovering
over the horizon,

her sloped shoulder.
Winter's rare snows shroud
her face and glaze the iron scars

of streetcar tracks across her forehead;
her tears are these silvered
sardines that the fishermen sell

along the ice-slick curve of her neck.
Her children live in houses built
between her wrinkles; they breathe

her own salt breath,
and when she sighs, the hems
of their unbuttoned jackets flutter.

now we can all say: "i knew her when . . . ." nice work, hallie. thanks, again.

making (in)sense

so guess who gets to be the thurifer for easter vigil @ st. peter's? yup -- lil' old me. which prompts a couple of questions: (a) why do episcopalians use incense, anyway? seems like a lot of people claim they're allergic to it (and, no doubt, some are) or that it screws up their noses or heads or whatever, but i love it. the church of the advent website reports:

The tradition of using incense in the liturgy dates back to ancient Hebrew worship, as recorded in the Psalms: "Let my prayer be set forth in Thy sight as the incense" (Psalm 141:2). As this verse suggests, incense symbolizes the prayers of the faithful rising up to heaven as the smoke rises to the rafters. Incense also appears in the Bible in association with visions of the Divine, most notably in the book of Isaiah and the Revelation to St John. The smoke itself is associated with purification and sanctification; thus, we cense the consecrated elements of the Eucharist to show that they are set apart, and when we cense people we are not only symbolically "purifying" them but also acknowledging that they are set apart by their Baptism.

so there! and the second question -- (b) i wonder whether, over the entire course of christendom, the little thingy that holds the incense (can you tell i'm a newbie?) has ever flown off the end of the chain and struck a parishioner, icon, stained-glass window, priest, chorister, organist, body of christ, et cetera? the advent webpage has a section on safety, but they don't go so far as to answer that question, now do they? perhaps there are legal implications. that might be a good project for me to study during my anglican year, yeah?

feast of john donne, priest (1631)

today is the feast day assigned to john donne, so i read some of his work (while i neglected mine own) this a.m. it being lent, and w/ holy week rapidly approaching, the questions in "the cross" are worth considering:

Since Christ embraced the cross itself, dare I
His image, th' image of His cross, deny?
Would I have profit by the sacrifice,
And dare the chosen altar to despise?
It bore all other sins, but is it fit
That it should bear the sin of scorning it?


godly work

wow, what a long, taxing day @ the office. interestingly, b/c i'm notorious for getting cold feet (a.k.a., "doubt monkeys jumpin' on my big ol' head"), i have done a lot of thinking since renee' and i decided to stay in mississippi one more year prior to going to an episcopal school for my year of anglican studies. my office window looks directly out over st. peter's, my church, and the place that, most days, i'd much rather be laboring. so what the crap am i still doing here?!? but then i remember that when we leave the mass and "go in peace to love and serve the lord," we go to our homes, to our jobs, to our play, and all of it becomes worship when we do it to the glory of god and his kingdom and in service to others. so an office job ain't all that bad when i'm helping to "dispense justice" (if that's really what i do). after all, nothing is required of us except "to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly w/ our god." (micah 6.8).

it was either bart of caleb who told me a few days ago that they had been reading bro. lawrence's the practice of the presence of god, which got me to thinking about a snippet of a poem my friend mary alice wood gave me years ago. you wanna hear it? here it go:

There is no small work unto God.
He required of us greatness;
Of his least creature
A high angelic nature,
Stature superb and bright completeness.
He sets to us no humble duty.
Each act that he would have us do
Is haloed round with strangest beauty;
Terrific deeds and cosmic tasks
Of his plainest child he asks.
When I polish the brazen pan
I hear a creature laugh afar
In the gardens of a star,
And from his burning presence run
Flaming wheels of many a sun.
Whoever makes a thing more bright,
He is an angel of all light.
When I cleanse this earthen floor
My spirit leaps to see
Bright garments trailing over it,
A cleanness made by me.
Purger of all men's thoughts and ways,
With labor do I sound Thy praise,
My work is done for Thee.
Whoever makes a thing more bright,
He is an angel of all light.
Therefore let me spread abroad
The beautiful cleanness of my God.

(from the monk in the kitchen, by anna hempstead branch)

so next time you see that ad on tv that starts by asking "why do we go to work," just think: my work is done for thee. and say a little prayer that i won't forget that's why i go to work, too. christ's peace ~ sam

it's coming!!!

first the good news: it's early spring, and my heartbeat begins to quicken . . . dennis calls to report the yanks lost to the d-rays last night, and i'm strangely warmed . . . i sit @ my desk dreaming of fenway franks and light jackets and no-maaaahhh . . . something "wicked" (in the good, new england-y sense) this way comes!

now the bad (actually, the cynical) news: what ever happened to "opening day"?? the first pitch from the mound in cincy, all the excitement for the espn triple-header, etc? now we've got "opening week." now we've got america's most recognizable pin-stripes playing in freakin' tokyo before we even get to hear "the star spangled banner" for real over here, and the game counts. it's not just an exhibition or spring training game. alas, i know it's all about the benjys, but i despise the mlb's continued whoring of my game, my game, just to create a global market for sammy sosa bobble-heads and barry bonds brand official steroids. and don't get me started on chemical enhancement, cooked balls and tiny parks. jeesh.

whew. that was a rant. sorry. i'll feel better on sunday @ 8:05, 7:05 central.

tick, tick, tick

man, time flies @ night. i get home, play w/ ellie grace, have dinner w/ renee', maybe watch tv for a few minutes, play on the computer a little, and . . . bam! . . . it's 11:11p. had lunch w/ the judge and my friend dave today, and he said he's typically a morning person. gets up @ 3:45a some days to go hunt turkeys! even when he's not hunting, he's up @ 6a to read for an hour before work. get that? before work. it's all i can do to get to work by 9 in the morning!

but i remember talking @ a bible study years ago about how we, as christ's body, are to "redeem" our time. i wish i had set up a time-log this lent to see just how much of my time is spent on inane goofiness (blogging?) and how much i do work that has even the slightest bit of eternal significance. i do think that some of the nights on the porch have had had a "kingdom" element to them -- conversations about god, faith(lessness), any number of theological innovations tossed about (some good, some bordering on heretical). the time i spend @ st. peter's is wonderful, both for me and the fam, as well as for the kingdom of god, i think. ollie and i just finished a generally well-received 5-week "walk through lent," and i hope to continue to teach there in some capacity. i know that when i do my work to the glory of god that it has some sort of eternal significance -- but, then again, i slack far, far too much. and i try to read theology as often as i can, which may help me be a better minister in 2014 or some time in the future.

but maybe i'm being a little hard on myself. probably not, but maybe. i read a sermon by john wesley on eph. 5.15-16 called "redeeming the time," wherein he urges xtians to even experiment to see just how little sleep they can get along w/ so that every possible bit of the day is squeezed for all it's worth in furtherance of the kingdom. just wish my 11p determination was matched by my 6a determination. but i still pray for this. i still periodically resolve to awake early enough for morning prayer before work, or to make a priority of saying compline w/ renee' before bed. and i know that, although i have not yet claimed that particular prize, i will press on, w/ morning breath and sleep encrusted eyes. and i'll ask myself: can i not tarry one hour?


the passion of the christ

ok, so i promised myself i wouldn't write anything about the passion of the christ after having watched it, just b/c so much has been written already, and i don't want to jump on the pop-cultural express this movie has become (for good or bad). i even put off seeing it until tonight, although renee' saw it w/ her mom on the day it opened, and practically everyone i know has seen it @ least once by now. but now i can't help myself. to preface, though, i think it will take some time for me to process the film, maybe even for me to see it one or more times over, to figure out just what it means to me personally and what effect, if any, it will have on me.

first, though, i think now what i thought weeks ago -- it's art, so none of us should jump on gibson for painting what he sees in the story. how is it different from any artist's depiction of any event, like konstantin's "crucifixion" or salvador dali's interpretation. let the artist paint w/ his or her own strokes. what's so wonderful about gibson's vision, however, is how it conforms to scripture and catholic teaching so well even as gibson emphasizes or highlights things that are poignant to him. incidentally, i was put off by the evangelical church's out-of-hand rejection of scorsese's the last temptation of christ, as well. if somehow there will be a great and final "judgment" of artists for how well they depicted this most momentous of events in history, then so be it; but who are we to become angry b/c mel gibson made some creative and directorial decision that we, personally, might not have made?

second, i was appalled by the violence of it, but not in the same way that i understand the authors of countless articles on tpotc have been. of course it's not for children to see. good heavens, how could anyone think their seven-year-old could have the mechanism to process that sort of violence and, bluntly, gore? even i don't have the mental and emotional machinery to understand it or to even take it all in, and i've been a christian for 18 years and have a masters in divinity. but the violence was honest, whereas some of the portraits of a bloodless christ are so contrived and cleaned up that they lose any historical validity. if a man is crucified, he's going to bleed -- buckets -- and a lithe figure on a crucifix bearing a beatific visage simply strains credulity. the movie was shocking, just like the event itself was shocking, and perhaps we need to stop treading gently on pins and needles in a (fruitless in any case) attempt to be inoffensive, and rather be shocked back into the reality of what raw torture crucifixion could be and was.

third, and i'll stop w/ three for tonight, i didn't have the sort of emotional response that some people seem to have had. i had more of an emotional reaction watching braveheart and in the name of the father than i had during tpotc. sadly, i didn't leave the theatre knowing that somehow i was more holy or less bent to sinning -- indeed, i probably sinned before i got out of the parking lot! but i was moved by the film, and certain scenes i'll probably never forget. the most moving scene, for me, was mary running to jesus when he falls, while simultaneously remembering running to her little boy when he fell as a child. even then, she could only hold him and say "i'm here" (in aramaic, no doubt), and now, some thirty-odd years later, she runs to the defense of her boy. it was fruitless, in a sense, for she could do nothing to stop jesus from walking the way of the cross. but when caviezel spoke tenderly to her, "see mother, i am making all things new," i lost it for a minute. maybe it's b/c i'm still a new father, but understanding how much i love ellie grace has taught me more about our lady's love for our savior, and about the father's love for us, than a million books could've taught me a year ago.

so, for now, i can say only that i thought it was a profound film, and i am grateful to gibson and the actors for bringing it to the screen. you can't help but wonder what gibson was thinking when he shot the last supper scene where jesus told his disciples, "do not be surprised when the world hates you -- remember they hated me first." if i take nothing else from the film than that, it was worth 8 bucks and two hours of my life. i may write about this every day for a week, but then again this may be the last you read of it from me. still, if i don't post anything else about the film in the next few days, then trust that i have decided to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, like a gift, for that is indeed what the film was.


biscuit-dough-hands man

i give up on "go -- burn my monster," which was my homage to josiah. alas, it strained his cognitive powers well nigh unto breaking. it was, in fact, an anagram of "montgomery burns," josiah's hero. so here's another fairly random name from a great cartoon (and, believe it or not, another of josiah's heroes, i think).

please, renee'??

i know i'm a half hour or so early, but i was afraid i'd forget tomorrow: today in 1925 in savannah, georgia mary flannery o'connor was born . . . .

poems -- one good, one not so good

a holy sonnet (j. donne)

batter my heart, three-personed god; for you
as yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend;
that i may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
i, like an usurped town, to another due,
labour to admit you, but o, to no end;
reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
but is captived, and proves weak or untrue;
yet dearly i love you, and would be loved fain,
but am betrothed unto your enemy;
divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
take me to you, imprison me, for i,
except you enthral me, never shall be free,
nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

(composed: 1609? (pub. 1633))

"on poetry"
most tentative of clasps we held
upon our first encounter, but
now built within my heart a thirst
none save you dare put out.

parameters of you to know,
your coastline, far, survey to find
your depths, they are unfathomed,
your boundaries divine.

of hours spent within your grasp,
i can but dream to speak,
of nights your vast storehouse of hope
and rebirth bade me sleep.

'til now no aspirations lie
inside me but those your face
inhabits -- our first halting grasp
since become a sure embrace.

(28 mar. 1994)



go -- burn my monster!

so i've been @ work now for over an hour, and i'm not sure i have spoken to anyone yet. why, you ask? b/c one of the security officers handed me a puzzle on the way in, and i was hooked. as such, i shall attempt to poison the minds of anyone who might stumble across my blog on this day -- here goes:

"There are thirty books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much, he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on his while fishing in his johnboat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since some of the books' names are not capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade stand set a new sales record. The local paper, the Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, "the books are all right in plain view hidden from sight." Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that might help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know all the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mass exodus, there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found."

i could only get 29 b/c there was a stupid type-o in the sheet my friend gave me. so i have called down a pox upon his children and his children's children. if you need it, here's the answer.

oh, and the name change -- that's targeted directly @ dennis. he's been getting so much done @ work lately that i have given him not one, but two challenges. tee hee.


the voice i wish i had

every few years i run across someone whose music i just fall in love w/ -- you know, your david wilcoxes, john gorkas, derek webbs. this go round, it's richard shindell. dunno how i didn't hear about this guy before b/c some of my old favorites have covered his songs, plus he teamed up w/ lucy kaplansky and dar williams (whose "february" is hands down the most beautiful song i've ever heard) for a project called cry, cry, cry. nevertheless, however late i have come to this party, i'm here and happy. shindell writes haunting music, and his lyrics are, well, lyrical. i borrowed my boss' cry, cry, cry and shindell's latest solo record, courier, a live compilation that includes the amazing "transit" that you really have to hear to believe. no kidding. and the deal was sealed when i heard his version of james keelaghan's "cold missouri waters," a survivor's narrative of the deady mann gulch fire near helena, montana in 1949. that conflagration, which took the lives of 13 smokejumpers, just so happens to be the subject of young men and fire, norman maclean's last book and one of my favorites. tonight i got a used copy of somewhere near paterson, and it's great too. all shindell's songs are quintessentially american, and he's a former student @ union theological seminary in nyc, too, so he's rapidly closing on a spot in my top 5 people i'd most like to have dinner w/.

x is for "sux"

well, that certainly sucked. g'bye maroon banner, g'bye harvey pekar goes to the 'dawgs. hello black 'dawg. @ least now i don't have to pay attention to the sweet 16 (and, i should add, this wasn't nothin' compared to game 7 of last year's alcs).

18 days 23 hrs 51 mins 11 secs and counting . . . .


the maroon banner is up a little before the actual start of the msu/xavier game today, but only b/c the tip is so ridiculously early that it interferes w/ church. if it wasn't for the fact that my mom's pastor called on friday night to ask me to fill in for him this morning, i'd seriously consider hooky. suffice it to say: it's short sermon season, baby!

p.s. bucky gets tricky woo in this a.m.'s strip.


"scholarly smackdown"

ok, so i still haven't seen the passion of the christ. sue me. but on your way to the courthouse, check out theological pugilists john dominic crossan and ben witherington iii going @ it about the theology behind the movie and its effects on society in a debate entitled (sadly) "scholarly smackdown". it's interesting to note that crossan here puts in print a quote once attributed to him by my rector @ christ church. fr. liias quoted crossan as saying: "i consider the doctrine of vicarious atonement to be transcendental child abuse, and i'll not have it!" fr. liias' cheeky (and very sarcastic) reply: "john dominic crossan . . . good for you." can you tell whose side i'm on??


thus endeth the streak

woooooooohooooooooo! the nefarious streak is ended -- i watched msu on tv and we didn't lose! in honor of the victory, the i am harvey pekar blog shall now be called harvey pekar goes to the 'dawgs. the bulldogs were too much for monmouth, winning their 1st round game 85-52. i think it must've been the nifty maroon banner (which replaced the nifty purple lenten banner just for the duration of the game) or the fact that i watched the game wire-to-wire, as opposed to the 3 games i've watched only portions of and we've lost. or maybe it's b/c i bet dennis a six-pack that msu would lose. one must cover one's bases, mustn't one.

some thoughts on coming home

every year @ about this time, i make a trip home for the opening weekend of the ncaa basketball tournament. for me, this weekend is the best of the tournament, not the final four. for four straight days, my family and i watch hours and hours of basketball (renee' often opts for surfing the web; ellie grace, in this, her first tourney trip, plays w/ cat toys or tries to eat a bug). but really, it's not buzzer-beaters and upsets that prompt my trip, it's just a chance to come home.

in the lenten class @ st. peter's, we've been talking our way through all the collects and readings for the season (notice the nifty new purple banner?). next sunday's gospel is the parable of the prodigal son, and ollie recommended i read henri nouwen's the return of the prodigal son to prep. it's an exercise i highly recommend and one i intend to repeat annually. anyway, in reading i came upon this passage, which seems to speak poignantly to the situation i find myself in:

"addiction" might be the best word to explain the lostness that so deeply permeates contemporary society. our addictions make us cling to what the world proclaims as the keys to self-fulfillment: accumulation of wealth and power; attainment of status and admiration; lavish consumption of food and drink, and sexual gratification without distinguishing between lust and love. these addictions create expectations that cannot but fail to satisfy our deepest needs. as long as we live within the world's delusions, our addictions condemn us to futile quests in "the distant country," leaving us to face an endless series of disillusionments while our sense of self remains unfulfilled. in these days of increasing addictions, we have wandered far away from our father's home. the addicted life can aptly be designated a life lived in "a distant country." it is from there that our cry for deliverance rises up. (nouwen, 42-43.)

after many futile attempts to deny myself this lent, nouwen's words are as accurate a portrayal of my life as rembrandt's of the return of the prodigal son, his magnificent painting that hangs in the hermitage museum in st. petersburg. but, thanks be to god, i can come home, and it's that hope that drives me to passages like this, from the pen of henry drummond (i think the book, bread and wine: readings for lent and easter, is out of print, but maybe used copies are out there somewhere):

in the end, it is god looking into the sinner's face that matters. knowing first hand the difference between human and divine sorrow is of utmost importance. it is the distinction luke brings out in the prodigal son's life, between coming to himself and coming to his father. "he came to himself," and then "he came to his father." so we are always coming to ourselves. we are always finding out, like the prodigal, the miserable bargains we have made. but this is not the crucial thing. only when we come to our father in response to his waiting look can we be freed and forgiven.

a pedro the lion song called "almost there" says: the chances are slight that I won't shoot up tonight, but the sensation that's waiting beneath is a kick in the teeth. that's how i feel most nights, and more often than not i shoot up, i get my fix. but nouwen and drummond and all the authors of holy scripture promise that i can always come home. again and again and again. and, always, the father is waiting to embrace me.


4 days, 48 games!!

we have arrived @ the locus of our annual pilgrimage: my parents' couch. warm up the satellite dish, and let the madness begin!


and while we're quoting . . .

the best quote i've run across this lent: "you can't conceive, my child, nor can i or anyone, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of god."
- graham greene, brighton rock; quoted by pres. bartlet (martin sheen) in "two cathedrals," ep. #222 of the west wing, broadcast may 16, 2001

the paradoxical christ

a comforting thought for those of us who look for god amid confusion and in half-light:

“God is known on earth ‘sub contrario’ -- under his opposite. If you want to find the presence of the risen Christ, you can find him paradoxically in loss, despair, suffering, and solitude.”
- Paul Zahl, A Short Systematic Theology

happy st. patrick's day!

like yesterday, i'm too swamped to do a large a.m. post, but i couldn't let the occasion pass to pay tribute to st. patrick of ireland, @ present my favorite among the saints. not only is he associated w/ ireland, but legend has it that he used a shamrock to explain the trinity -- always a plus for the boston celtic- and notre dame fightin' irish-inclined (and, if you are interested, it is worth noting that the boston red sox are wearing green today, which prompted the color change in the i am harvey pekar banner in solidarity w/ said sox). if you have a moment, during lenten solemnity or st. paddy's festivity (whichever is the case), reflect upon "st. patrick's breastplate," a prayer st. pat wrote in 433 (amy welborn has an informative bit on her blog about whether st. patrick actually wrote it -- and whether we should care). one "version" of the prayer reads:

i take for my sureties:

the power of god to guide me,
the might of god to uphold me,
the wisdom of god to teach me,
the eye of god to watch over me,
the ear of god to hear me,
the word of god to give me speech,
the hand of god to protect me,
the way of god to go before me,
the shield of god to shelter me . . . .

christ be with me, christ before me,
christ behind me, christ within me,
christ beneath me, christ above me,
christ at my right, christ at my left,
christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me,
christ in every eye that sees me,
christ in every ear that hears me.

what a way to see the world! blessings on each of you this holy day.


obeying in the dark

coming home for a year has really been a blessing, although i had to be driven to that blessing kicking and screaming. ellie grace got to know her grandparents better, renee' got to be a stay-@-home mom for a while, i met my friend ollie and came to love the people @ st. peter's, i renewed my friendship w/ the judge and even made a little money. but even if i had to measure the value of my time here solely by the nights spent out on my porch, i'd still say this is exactly where god wanted us for these months.

it seems like we hit mississippi @ just about the same time that several of our friends were going through difficult and life-changing experiences, and god has allowed renee' and me to (i hope) be of some help to most of them, in whatever little way we could. it's really my first taste of "pastoral" ministry, and it all happened in in the unlikeliest of settings. tonight i emailed someone i love very much and told him what i've come to learn while sitting out there swinging -- whatever the circumstances, keep asking questions, keep searching, keep praying, keep reading, obey even though it seems like it's perpetually twilight . . . and god will be found. he longs to be found, and sometimes all it takes is a few friends, a cloud of smoke and a porch. to those of you who have sat w/ me out there, thanks. for everything.

is a marriage a marriage?

g'day. too much work to blog early, but i did come across an interesting discussion of marriage from a philosophical point of view: what makes a thing a thing? i, my own self, don't know much about philosophy aside from reading sophie's world, but sensing's general discussion does give a little philosophical underpinning to a topic that seems to come up among our "porch groups" quite often. phood for thought.


sometimes simpler is better

my name is paikea apirana, and i come from a long line of chiefs . . . .

last summer my friend reed came to visit us in marblehead, and, as always, talk turned round to movies. she had recently seen whale rider, and she raved about the story of conflict b/tw a grandfather's belief in a traditional way of life and his granddaughter's obvious transcendence of that belief. tonight, renee' and i finally watched it, and it was wonderful in the literal sense of the word. it's a simple story about real people, told w/o adornment, beautifully directed and edited. and, although i bucked the trend among my friends in that i actually enjoyed minghella's cold mountain, in my opinion the academy made the same mistake as whale rider's koro -- they overlooked keisha castle-hughes. she was the best actress in a leading role, hands down. watch the movie, and tell me i'm wrong.

american splendor

alas, kathleen turner overdrive is no more. henceforth, for @ least 2 days, this little corner of the web shall be called i am harvey pekar. a bit o' background: my friend, dennis, started blogging sometime last night. this morning, i realized 2 things: (a) he's a better writer than me; and (2) he actually says something when he writes. got me to thinking about american splendor, a movie imdb touts as "an original mix of fiction and reality [that] illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman harvey pekar." i saw it a few weeks ago and thought it was fantastic. of course, any movie whose credits, in order of appearance, begin with "superman, batman, robin, green lantern . . ." is by definition fantastic. paul giamatti is brilliant, as he was in the negotiator, thus offsetting his complicity in big momma's house. note to reader: rest asssured that will be the only time you'll ever see a link to big momma's house on your blog of record.

anyhoo, seeing as how i be more "everyman" than literary titan: blog, retitle thyself!

oh, and in the words of jaspreet nijher and some other guy i can't recall, beware today.


ellie wakes up the echoes

what a glorious morning! firstly, i feel immensely better. now i may be phlegmatic psychologically (i actually have no idea what that means), but not physically. but more importantly -- my beautiful, intelligent and obviously discerning daughter has discovered notre dame! she first glimpsed the golden dome on tv during football season last, and she jubilantly licked bushmills from the tip of pop's finger every time the irish left the gridiron w/ a win. ok, ok, so she was in no danger of succumbing to alcoholism in light of the misfortune that befell blue and gold last season (just wait'll next year!). indeed, the first song to caress her ears as a newborn was the nd fight song.

but i digress. on this most glorious morning, her ma happened to be letting her wander throughout the maze of child-endangering objects and pitfalls that is our humble abode, and ellie grace's eye happened upon a picture on a foolisly low (ergo, child-endangering) framed picture of a phrase in bas relief above the east entrance to the sacred heart basilica on nd's campus. my friend john mcmahon gave me the picture, and i treasure it. it reads, simply: "god, country, notre dame." ellie's response to so thrilling a sight: immediate and uncontrollable bouncing and arms waving about in ecstasy, as if to indicate, "let's us shake down some thunder, pop!"

now, anybody got a hundred grand or so to pay for her to attend god's favorite university?

in a darkened house

nighttime is the coolest time. finally i can sit and play w/ my as yet fairly inchoate blogging skill-set while i listen to my new/used copy of blue pony i just got on ebay. i'd gotten sniped twice before i won this copy, and it's great late night music.

it was a wonderful day around here. ellie grace played w/ grandma and grandpa, smiles all around (unless you're the cat, then there are hisses all around -- gotta protect little sister @ all costs). of course, the bulldogs blew their game against vandy in the sec tournament tonight, which sucks. we've played, what, 28 games this year? i've watched 3 -- count 'em, 3 -- on tv. we're now 25-3. wanna guess which ones i watched? i'm a freakin' jinx, that's what i am. but time goes on. i'll take to the couch in a few moments, get a dip (still struggling w/ that addiction -- i intend to submit a rather lengthy diatribe on addictions in general and my addictions in particular in the future), pick up augustine's city of god or maybe henri nouwen's the return of the prodigal son, and read until sleep overtakes me. (repeat that three times w/ a seed of faith: sleep, overtake me; sleep, overtake me; sleep, overtake me.) now i'll say the rosary, toss some salt over my shoulder and chug some nyquil.

the good thing is i'm not nearly as sick as i was even yesterday. just a lingering cough and a wonderfully deep, raspy, teddy pendergast kinda voice. i've been gleefully singing sixteen tons to myself all day. so, i'm off to night night times. and i leave you w/ an abstract thought i heard on a certain delightfully offbeat website this week: "is a penguin a bird or a duck?"


lunch in the little easy

there's just something about having lunch on a fine spring day in oxford, ms. where else can one stroll into a funky eatery and see, inter alia, billy "the dawg" brewer talking to god knows who on a cell phone @ one table and barry hannah holding court @ another across the room? where else do plain old cheese grits and "greens" (of the turnip variety) have so much spice that they scald the mouth? a single midday constitutional reveals myriad dog breeds, old timey sidewalk sales, mamas pushin' babies in strollers, shaggy characters sucking cigarettes (yes, you can still smoke here), newly blooming flora and fauna (the aforementioned canine breeds foremost among the latter). if you have to live in the south, which, i confess, is still a far cry from my beloved adoptive new england, this is where it's @. and, no, i don't care that grammar snobs sneer @ "where it's at". they, quite obviously, don't live in oxford.

a wise friend once said . . .

today has already brought conversations w/ more than one friend about love, its effects, it's depth, it's sheer capacity to bewilder, confound, discombobulate, perplex and addle. dennis threw off a quote, which he had lifted from another friend, who probably lifted it from another friend, and so on, and so on . . . like danny vinyard said, "someone else has already said it best so if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong." i googled it and found this sonnet. make of it what you will.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)


crawdads & grandad (and grandma)

the in-laws showed up tonight bearing a whole mess o' crawfish! it was a little disheartening to me to be sick and not want any beer, but it definitely opened up the old sinuses. little ellie grace got to show off her new walking skills (such as they are), and we had the inevitable political convo around the dinner table. there's something about a group of liberals sitting around a table covered w/ a garbage bag w/ big pots of crawfish on it, wondering whether john kerry's little "open mic" incident was calculated, a la "the west wing." all of life relates to "the west wing" in some way. or "raising arizona." or maybe "bottle rocket."

speaking of the latter, renee' and i re-watched "rushmore" yesterday during my afternoon convalescence. what a fantastic film. wes anderson and owen wilson are geniuses, pure and simple. now if only owen wilson would stop acting in films and just stick to writing them. he can act in his own films, but someone needs to warn him away from eddie murphy, jackie chan and ben stiller. if you ask me, "the minus man" was about his best acting job outside of "bottle rocket."

anyway, i'm goofy on codeine tabs and nyquil, so i could be wrong. i usually am. g'night.

21 days, 1 hr, 20 mins, some odd seconds

had bronchitis for 2 days. i've come into the office both mornings only to leave in the afternoon after hacking all over wills, kt and "the liz" (pronounced w/ a long "eye" sound of course). if only it was april 4!! imagine -- what better time to take ill than opening day? and w/ dennis bearing some of the financial burden of the directv mlb extra innings package, i'd be parked in front of the tube w/ remy on the webradio as the sox storm camden yahds. alas, it shant be this day. this day, i shall cough until i throw up, spew bacteria all over wife/daughter/cat, and maybe read a book. maybe i'll watch bridget jones' diary. now that'll make me throw up for sure.

please stay tuned. substantive posts to follow. i promise.

albeit sickly.

call a k.t.o. baby!

somehow "the shape of horse and woman" didn't do justice to the dreams i have for my blog, so i've decided, as a tribute to jack black, to rename the blog every week or so like jack renamed his band in high fidelity. thus, welcome to kto (i wanted sonic death monkey, but i think there's actually a band w/ that name now; therefore, trademarks and whatnot. be that as it may, i don't think anyone's actually reading this except my lovely wife and perhaps josiah, so i'll feel free to infringe said patent protections freely!)


welcome to the shape of horse and woman

couldn't think of what to call my new blog, so when blogger promised me i could go back and change it later, i just pinched "the shape of horse and woman" from dickenson (or @ least i think she wrote something like that). hopefully i'll have time and guts to spill here in the weeks to come as i transit from law clerk to student to (hopefully) priest. perhaps blogs are just the logical conclusion to insomnia, but i figure "i'm up, hell, i might as well write." updates to come as events warrant.
WWW [rough draft]