April 10, 2005 - April 2, 2005
Sunday, April 10, 2005
It has been awhile, but I hope you've been watching the Masters this year. With
all the weather delays it has been a struggle, but Tiger Woods turned in a 66 for
his second round yesterday and a 31 for the first nine holes of his third round
before play was called for darkness.
This morning he closed out his third round at 65. And leads the field with -11.
Chris DiMarco is in second at -8.
It should be worth the time to take a look at the final round today.
Friday, April 08, 2005
The Ultimate Blog Site
Thursday, April 07, 2005
There was once a Father who had Two Children
Does anyone out there still think President George W. Bush is stupid?
Usually, that would be all we wrote, allowing you, dear reader, to fill in the rest. However, sometimes
people write in and don't get it, so we'll expand -- just a bit. Linger over this picture for a little
longer than usual. There they are, President Clinton and President George H. W. Bush kneeling next to the
Pope's body. They've been appearing all over the place raising public awareness and coordinating
relief efforts for the tsunami victims and now they've traveled to Rome together.
President Clinton is the most powerful voice the Democrats have and he is constantly seen with the President's
father. Now he is seen kneeling with the President's father. Throw in the fact that President Clinton's
past father figures have been a bit deficient and you can catch a glimpse of the brilliance of our
President. See? Funny.
Also, you could hold your cursor over the image and get a bit more of the humor. Yet again, there is a lack
of symmetry in this photo (meaning, someone is missing that would balance the shot) which is also very
funny, the more you think about it.
It does seem like something, or more likely, someone has caught President Clinton's eye in the balcony.
We imagine this will be discussed quietly at another time.
Some days, the jokes just write themselves.
The writer Saul
He wrote beautifully
writing when he felt he had nothing more to add, and if this
is to be believed, he arrived finally at happiness.
Janis Freedman eventually began working
part-time as Bellow's secretary and, several years after I graduated,
they stunned everyone by getting married.
He was more than four decades older than
she, and you only need read the vicious portraits of his ex-wives in
his novels to see how unsuccessful he had been at the marriage game.
But this unconventional union was the one
that finally took. In his final book, Bellow paints a blissful portrait
of his marriage to Janis, who gave birth five years ago to his only
Bellow's great subject as a novelist was
the human yearning for love and meaning. It turned out that, like the
protagonist of his great 1970 novel "Mr. Sammler's Planet," Bellow had
to wait until his 70s until he could find the love and meaning in his
own life that had so long eluded him.
These are rare achievements for twentieth century writers.
Congratulations, Mr. Bellow, and Godspeed.
Monday, April 04, 2005
The Gathering Storm
It seems that only in the case of movie stars do we roll back the clock
at the moment of death to see the departed as they were before age and
illness eroded their physical bodies. Most of the footage we'll be
seeing in the next week will show us John Paul II as an enfeebled old
man. This is no conspiracy, in my opinion, but it does serve to
undermine one of this Pope's most outstanding attributes -- his
extraordinary strength. The image shown above is meant as a small
Others are much better equipped to discuss his role in history and in
the spiritual realm. The first two articles I looked at this morning,
, used the same reference point to establish the scale
of the Pope's stature: Stalin's dismissal of the power of Rome -- "The
pope? How many divisions does he have?" Stalin didn't get an answer in
his lifetime, but rather in the posterity that toppled all of his
monuments to himself, aided considerably by the strong right arm of
Pope John Paul II.
Yet for all the talk of greatness we shall be hearing in the next week
or two, I suspect that there are forces at work to make sure that the
next pope is not a titan but a mere mortal. Why? Several reasons, both
general and specific. Greatness tends, however much we admire it, to
abash and even fatigue us. Nature or providence often tenders the
relief we yearn for, in the shape of a smaller, less intimidating
successor. Washington retires on horseback, bequeathing us the bookish
Adams. Lincoln is assassinated to promote the hapless Andrew Johnson.
Churchill is rudely turned out of office at the very moment of his
supreme victory in favor of Clement Atlee (who?!). Franklin Roosevelt
carries his vast Patrician iconography with him to the grave, and his
people inherit the decidedly plebeian Harry Truman.
The Catholic Church actually has a saying that captures this
phenomenon: "A fat pope is followed by a thin pope." While I'm sure the
adage is not meant to suggest that a good pope must be succeeded by a
bad pope, it may well portend that a strong pope is often succeeded by
a weak pope.
Other, more topical factors -- perhaps in reflection of the larger
principle -- also support the notion that the cardinals may move in a
different direction this time. It is clear, for example, that the
Europeans have developed a preference for leaders who are, in every
real sense, impotent. We can see their vision of the future in the
presidency of the EU, a revolving door of faceless obfuscators who
remain acceptable by saying and doing nothing that could be called
brave, let alone strong. Many countries around the world seem to
approve the European model; outside the U.S., Kofi Annan's pitiful
stewardship of the U.N. has generated enough fondness to make it likely
that he can survive the corruption of his administration merely by
reaffirming his mild lack of interest in making a difference anywhere
In contrast, note the ceaseless hateful rhetoric that issues from the
worldwide chorus because the United States has contrarily opted for a
strong president. Is this a lesson that will be lost on the College of
Cardinals? Time will tell, but there are signs that even within the
Church, there already exists an academic foundation capable of
rationalizing the deep emotional need for relief. In this morning's L.A.
Times, there is a column by Michael McGough titled "Should
the Papacy be Down-Sized?
" McGough cites a book by John R. Quinn,
archbishop of (where else?) San Francisco, which argues for a Vatican
more along the lines of the E.U.:
Paradoxical as it seems, the
larger-than-life pontiff, whose "popemobile" ran up mileage around the
world, issued an encyclical in 1995 expressing interest in a quieter
papacy, in finding "a way of exercising the primacy, which, while in no
way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nevertheless open
to new situations."
The encyclical, "Ut Unum Sint" (That They May Be One), is the starting
point for Quinn's critique of Vatican over-centralization. Perhaps its
most startling feature is the suggestion that the pope might return to
the lower-profile job of bishop of Rome, as it was understood in the
first 1,000 years of Christianity, before the schism with Eastern
Orthodoxy. In those days, John Paul noted, the bishop of Rome merely
"acted by common consent as moderator" when Christians disagreed about
beliefs or practices, rather than as an ecclesiastical micromanager.
What would a papacy shaped by the encyclical look like? For one thing,
it would be more parochial, more local, with, most likely, an Italian
pope who tended to his Roman flock and didn't stride so much on the
Yup. Us post-modern folks don't much care for lots of striding on the
world stage. Slinking and sneaking and drinking tea with visiting
despots will do.
Thankfully, I know next to nothing about Vatican politics. So, I'm most
likely dead wrong about what's going to happen in the next few weeks.
That's the good news.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
THE RIGHT TO REDEFINE
. This spring, deep issues seem to be bubbling up from the
subconscious depths to burst into public debate. So far, we've had the Gender
, the Life
, and to a lesser extent the First
. Not much has really been accomplished on any of
them. The war between the sexes is likely to continue
The Schiavo affair has come and gone without generating more than one
or two points of light
amid all the heat
And the First Amendment issue is still awaiting an equivalent
large-scale detonation. Here at InstaPunk we've noted the beginnings of
an assault from the right, and in fairness we should note that the
biggest threat is still the one posed by McCain-Feingold. Professor
Bainbridge addressed this bill's newest ramifications
not long ago and summarized its spectacular unconstitutionality in a
few well chosen words:
Sigh. How hard is it to understand
those simple words of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law
... abridging the freedom of speech...."? No law!
This kind of logic is far too simple for the intellectuals on
the right and the left who know better than the rest of us what should
be permissible expression and what shouldn't. So I'm lining up with
them. It's so much easier to stake a particular claim than to try
imagining all possible permutations of the law of unintended
consequences. I got started thinking about this yesterday. It was a
bitter, rainy, windy Sunday, and I found myself torpidly watching a
Stephen King miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel. I think it was called
"The Storm of the Century." It was a pretty awful Kingish morality tale
featuring an omniscient demon who knew everybody's secret sins, and,
boy, did everybody have them. But that's not what bothered me the most.
I realized a couple of hours in that I had reached the point of wanting
to outlaw any screenplay that gives actors an excuse to employ a Maine
Small-minded? Perhaps. But the more I considered it, the more I
realized what a public service such a law would be. Not only would it
effectively ban all future movie versions of Stephen King's books, it
would also set a precedent for banning numerous other obnoxious
regional accents actors like spewing. Accents that I'm sure many of you
are as fed up with as I am.
Think about it. That horrifying Boston Irish accent we hear from Bruin
fans and in man-in-the-street interviews with Boston cabbies. Forbidden
by the FCC. That annoyingly over-the-top New York/New Jersey accent
that has spread like an audio infection from Martin Scorsese gangster
movies to the Sopranos
nine different versions of Law and
to... well, it's endless. Except that it ends right here
and now. Outlawed.
There's no need to stop there. I'm also silencing the nauseating
Chicago accent that began with the Blues Brothers' "Mission from God"
and swept the public via the supposedly funny SNL skits about "Da
Bearz." And I'm going to be even more draconian about the
consonant-swallowing Valley Girl accent used by every teenage girl in
the country. If they can't speak like sentient human beings, they'll
have to shut up forever. It amazes me that they all talk like Beverly
Hills brats whose minds have been destroyed by cell phone microwaves,
and yet --when they show up on American
-- they all sing like tone-deaf clones of Whitney Houston.
That's going to be illegal too. When it comes to singing contests,
there's going to be a new diversity-affirmative-action-type regulation
that requires some representation of real singing talent, as well as at
least a few practitioners of non-Whitney-Houston-type vocalizing --
say, a smattering of perfect-pitch Broadway voices, a handful of boys
and girls who sing the actual notes without doing flyovers and snap
rolls around them, and at least one superb operatic tenor.
I haven't yet decided if I'm going to ban the F-Word entirely from all
movie and TV scripts, but here's what I am going to do: I'm sentencing
the writers of Deadwood
imprisonment, subject to parole only
if they express genuine remorse for not realizing that a dirty
vocabulary is not sufficient to make you a trenchant slice-of-life
artist with a lifelong permission slip to show up at awards ceremonies
in jeans and a five-day growth of beard. There's more to it than that.
You also have to get arrested for possession of heroin and beat the rap.
Speaking of rap, it's gone. Regardless of what you may think, we've all
heard enough of it to last a lifetime. And think how many lives of
automobile speakers will be saved in the process. They have a right to
One more thing. I also listened to a few minutes of NPR yesterday and chanced to hear the most recent Harry Shearer vehicle called "Le Show." It's banned. Permanently. There's nothing worse than a comic who's traded his sense of humor for dull, repetitive sectarian sniping. Adios, Harry.
That's enough for now. Think about what I've proposed so far, while I
study matters further and add to the list. Eventually, you'll all be
glad I did this for you. Honestly.
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