Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
November 23, 2010 - November 16, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick. Don't Look.

Anybody can make a continuous 'mistake' for most of a decade...

WHAT WE CAN OVERLOOK BECAUSE WE DON'T SEE IT. I took some heat a few days ago when I suggested God had a purpose in the instant new mega-celebrity of Michael Vick. What hardly anyone (er, no one) realized was that I was grappling with the atheist model that there is no God and therefore no judgment of what we do with our lives. The American generosity about forgiveness and second chances has been perverted through the secular cult of celebrity into an image game. How you look, how you perform on camera, and what you say to interviewers have somehow become a substitute for what used to be known quaintly as morality. If you're a charismatic celebrity right now, that fact seems to erase everything dark and sinful about your personal past. Unless. Unless even celebrity and its instantaneous starbursts of admiration are meant as a lesson to the rest of us, its highlights and lowpoints orchestrated by a power that really would like us all to think about life, the universe, and everything.

I dared to suggest that the monolithic condemnation of Michael Vick in which I have participated at greater (documented) length than any of my commenters might have been rebuked by an ostentatious display of God's gifts to a sinner we find it conveniently easy to damn without having to make any real demands on ourselves. The result was more condemnation of the easy-target sinner.

Allow me to make it even easier for you. A few weeks ago, I offered up a judgment about abortion. I said:

I believe there are things people can do that deserve the death penalty. And in my simple Scottish mind, those things are not about closure, Old Testament "eye for an eye" cant, Christian compassion, or revenge. They're about justice. Kill willfully in some cause other than self defense and what? You've forfeited your own right to live. You're a failed soul the rest of us shouldn't have to fret about. You just need to be put down like a rabid dog.

I feel the same way about abortion. Sorry. That doctors could do this...?

Or hadn't you thought about the morality question with vivid pictures in front of you? They're crime scene photos. Nothing else.

It's not about choice. It's about murder. (As is 9/11, Which the MSM also doesn't want us to see anymore. Because it would upset us or distort our judgment or make us suspicious of muslims or something. Something they know better about. Like abortion.)

I know "no one cares about the social issues this time." Except that a lot of us still do. At least 30 million babies have died this way since Roe v. Wade.

I'm for the death penalty. For murderers. And, no, in my heart of hearts. I see no contradiction in terms. [boldface added in service to my current argument]

So, for all those who feel any temptation to participate in the feel-good story of the redeemed Michael Vick, who must be a good guy because he now watches game films instead of snorting cocaine and gives touchdown footballs to fans instead of partying with his thug entourage, here's a real picture of the dogfighting world he chose to finance and seek underworld status in as a "player" during his era of superstardom with the Atlanta Falcons:

And just so you know it's no anecdote but a lifestyle and a perniciously nasty form of organized crime, here are Parts 2. 3. 4. 5.and 6 of the same damning documentary. Moreover, Michael Vick was not motivated by easy paydays that overrode recognition of evil incarnate in this 'sport.' He liked the dogfighting subculture enough to live a double life of fine restaurants and dirty dives, as well as the lies that double life entailed to fool people who trusted and believed in him.

Feeling good now? Justified in your dudgeon, are you? Does it confirm your view that cruelty to animals is principally a function of the criminal hip-hop lifestyle, even though you'd never admit to any racial component of your self-righteousness? I mean, if only you'd known, if only you'd had any capability to intervene in a world that is entirely closed to your influence, life experience, and knowledge. In that case, there would be no dog murder anywhere and respect for animals would reign supreme. Right? Right.

Funny thing. A guy called in to SportsTalk in Philadelphia over the weekend. He got blown off because he had the misfortune to talk with Rob Charry, but he made an excellent point. Why, he wanted to know, was it okay to condemn Michael Vick for things that are every day and everywhere sponsored, administered, and profited from by governments? What was he talking about? Greyhound racing.

Huh, what? uh, dog tracks. Why, perfectly nice people go to the dog track. It's actually kind of sophisticated, isn't it? Something Dorothy Parker might do in between literary luncheons. Always was, anyway. And it's always been there. Until, oddly enough, this year, legal and a source of tax revenue in 15 states of the U.S., including such enlightened blue states as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire:
The Wiki entry that provides this information also rather strangely includes the following commercial for state-sponsored greyhound racing:

In the United States, greyhound racing is governed by state law, which ranges from total prohibition in some states, to lack of regulation in others.

The National Greyhound Association founded in 1906 strictly regulates greyhound ownership in the U.S. and has established comprehensive animal welfare guidelines based on veterinary recommendations. These guidelines cover nearly every aspect of greyhound care on the farm and at the racetrack. The American Greyhound Council conducts unannounced inspections each year on the nation's 300 breeding farms and kennels to enforce compliance with the industry's animal welfare guidelines. Minor violations are noted and corrected and more serious violations are addressed in hearings before the NGA's governing body. Those found guilty of these violations can be banned from the sport for life. Ref.

Greyhounds live in climate-controlled kennels, usually on or near the tracks where they race. They are turned out several times daily for mild exercise and play, exercised on sprint paths and taken for walks...

There's more of the same in the Wiki text, but it's not reprinted here because it's bullshit. This is a form of dog abuse, torture, and murder that is traditionally acceptable and under the radar because it's institutionalized and not associated with other forms of societal dysfunction. But it is dysfunction.. And cruelty. Here are the opening paragraphs of a website you should read if you think government bureaucrats treat dogs as sources of gambling revenue more humanely than do illegal urban gamblers:

The majority of people attending [greyhound] races have little knowledge of what actually happens to these animals. Little do they know, or care, what kind of life these dogs lead. To them it’s a lot of fun, have a few drinks, make or lose a few bucks, and return to their comfortable homes. The life of the Greyhound is one of misery, fear, mistreatment, and finally a painful death. The remains of approximately 3,000 Greyhounds from Florida tracks were discovered on the Alabama property of a track security guard who “took care” of unwanted dogs with a .22 rifle. Their horrible life began the day they were born, and ended the day they died...

The Greyhound is not considered as a living animal, but rather a running machine. Thousands of Greyhounds are produced each year, many more than are needed. Dogs that are considered as too slow to make it are killed. Any dog that is injured, or develop[s] muzzle sores or... any problems is killed. If they win they live. If they lose they die. Very few make it to 4 years old.... Dogs suffer at every track [from] neglect, and soon meet a cruel death... Many suffer from malnutrition and dehydration. Without the proper air conditioning they die from heatstroke. Any dog that slows down or becomes unprofitable is killed. One kennel owner faced felony charges for selling over 1,000 Greyhounds for medical experimentation. So how are [they] killed.? The favorite method is a .22 bullet in the brain. In an Idaho Greyhound Park, a female Greyhound was placed on a wet floor, a metal wire shoved in her rectum and attached to her lip with an alligator clip, and she was electrocuted. Many are beaten to death, buried alive, and hung. In Florida six Greyhounds were found along the highway near a dog track. All met a horrible death.

Some pictures of government-acceptable treatment and/or retirement of racing greyhounds:

20 track dogs killed

Allowed to starve.

Useless Racer to be killed -- not competitive

One of 10 Greyhounds Found in Phoenix

Greyhounds decapitated at end of season

I'm going to close by asking all you sanctimonious Vick haters if you've ever 1) felt as much anger about the whitebread abuse of greyhounds as you have about inner city dogfighting, 2) done anything about either by, say, adopting a greyhound or a pitbull, or 3) managed to refrain from condemning pitbulls as a breed that is dangerous to children, decent dogs, and human beings in general?

But I'm not closing yet. While you think about my previous questions, I'm going to deal with the PETA defense. The lame rationalizations of those who can somehow employ moral relativism to forgive the Michael Vicks of the world because they condemn those of us who eat chicken, veal, and fish as co-conspirators in the oppression of all animals. Which is to say that there is no crime because belonging to an omnivore species makes all of us criminals.

Dogs are not chickens or veal calves. They're not even cats. They are likely as important to the development of human civilization, and even human consciousness, as any factor yet discovered in the anthropological record. It's not me saying this. It's scholars who have made a study of the subject:

The cohabitation of dogs and humans would have greatly improved the chances of survival for early human groups, and the domestication of dogs may have been one of the key forces that led to modern humans. Anthropologists Tacon and Pardoe argue that the effects of human-canine cohabitation on humans would have been profound, and hypothesize that some of the effects could have been moving from scavenging to large game hunting, the establishment and marking of territories, living in optimally sized social groups, hunting/working in synchronised teams, and negotiating partnership bonds.The human-dog partnership set both species on a new evolutionary course.

The paragraph above references academic work done by Drs. Tacon and Pardoe. Here's the briefest of reports on their theories:

Humans live a dog's life

Tuesday, 26 March 2002 

A new theory claims that many human behaviours are a result of our long-standing relationship with dogs, and vice versa.

Dr Paul Tacon from the Australian Museum and Adelaide bio-archaeologist Dr Colin Pardoe put forward their ideas in yesterday's issue of the journal Nature Australia.

"We were asking the questions, 'What is a human?' and 'What is a dog?'," explained Dr Tacon.

"The answer was not straightforward and we found the two were intertwined."

Wolves were the first animals to be domesticated by humans — and the researchers believe this may have happened much earlier than previously thought.

Domestic dogs appear rather suddenly and widely in the geological record between 13,500 and 14,000 years ago. But the lack of evidence before then may be due to the lack of burial sites, said Dr Tacon.

It was only about that time that humans began settling down and farming — prior to that, most people led a nomadic existence, so burial sites were rare.

Other evidence points to earlier domestication, note the researchers. DNA analysis suggests a split between dogs and wolves over 100,000 years ago, and possibly as much as 135,000 years ago.

In addition, fossil canine skulls much smaller than those of most wolves have been found at archaeological sites in England along with human artefacts. These are estimated to be 190,000 to 130,000 years old...

In their paper, the researchers argue that an early relationship between humans and dogs directed the evolution of both species.

"Most studies have concentrated on the effects of human–canine cohabitation on dogs rather than the reverse," they write.

"But the effects on humans, on their psychology, hunting practices, territoriality and social behaviour, would also have been profound."

In fact, dogs may have chosen us rather than the other way around...

Both wolves and humans are social animals with complex communication signals, leading them to adopt each other's behaviour, say Tacon and Pardoe.

For example, humans may have adopted the practice of making symbol marks on rocks from the wolf behaviour of territorial marking. These symbol marks, which appeared between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, are quite different to engravings and paintings, the researchers point out.

Another wolf-like behaviour is big-game pack hunting, which does not appear to have occurred among pre-Homo sapiens groups. It requires special powers of cooperation and negotiation in complex situations...

So is it true that that dog people are different to cat people?

"Cats were domesticated 4,000 years ago, but our relationship with the dog goes back much further in time," Dr Tacon said.

"Dogs and humans have similar social systems and are ideally suited towards living with each other."

NOW I'll close. Wolves and human beings were in prehistoric times the two most successful predator species on earth. A subset of one chose to live with the other, and the evidence suggests that both expanded the range of their talents and emotional depth thereby. Wolves have bigger brains than dogs. But Neanderthals had bigger brains than modern humans. Today, wolves are endangered and Neanderthals are extinct. We are condescending in our research when we note that the difference between wolves and dogs in test situations is that wolves will persist in a failed problem-solving situation because it doesn't occur to them to ask for help from humans. Wildness! We admire it so.

Dogs, with their smaller brains, give up quickly when a problem is beyond their powers and look hopefully at humans. We humans are happy to provide the answer, and they -- amazingly enough -- have the communication skills to understand and act on the answer. Are wolves really smarter than dogs? Who is it that lies in front of a peacedul fire in winter and snores under an air-conditioner in summer, with cake, spaghetti, and Big Macs an occasional treat in the offing?

uh, how is this different in any way from Madison Avenue's characterization of the difference between the human male and the human female? Not much. The same kind of blindness is at work.

These days, we enjoy the pretense that the female is the superior sex, because she's so much better at the juggling of minutiae than the sex which produced Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, the Sistine Chapel, the works of Shakespeare, Mozart, and all the world's major religions (including the only evil one). But if we are now, belatedly, learning to appreciate the small things as something equivalent or even superior to the big things, it's definitely time to accept the virtues of the oldest partnership of all.

Dogs are not our possessions or chattels. They are not fish, cuts of meat, or the source of eggs. They are co-creators of the civilization we both rely on and whose fruits we both passionately enjoy. When we maunder on about core values, we can never in good conscience exclude them. They are our better half when it comes to the senses, the simplicity of love, the stone eternity of loyalty, and the importance -- despite every complicated distraction -- of play. They're content to act like the dumb ones in our partnership, but they're the ones who know more of our language than we do of theirs, and they're the ones who keep teaching us that life is to be lived in the moment, this moment, which is just about as close to the genius of Einsteinian physics as any human can ever get.

And, no, I'm not equating women with dogs. Except that I am. Because I'm also equating men with dogs and women. We're all three better for the presence of the other two. Dogs inure women to the disgusting physical habits of men. Men inure dogs to the stormy emotional reactions of women (Woof!). Women inure dogs to the temporal failures of men about vital matters like water, dinnertime, and treats. And men and women learn to bond over the fate and well being of a creature who is neither the child of their loins nor the hope of their destiny. They all learn about love for love's sake.

Hurting a dog isn't like eating veal. Being a man who has hurt dogs isn't a sin that goes away. But being a man or woman who has never rescued a greyhound or a pitbull or a shelter dog or a stray on the side of the road isn't the world's loftiest moral platform either.

Just saying.

Here's a greyhound rescue site, where there are dogs who need you to learn what stairs are.

Here's a pitbull rescue site, where there are dogs who need you to learn what hanging out on the couch means.

You can't actually go wrong either way. Greyhounds are probably better for older or quieter folks. They want their own sofa; the love is automatic and assumed. Pitbulls are probably better for active families; the love is something they want to demonstrate to their humans in every way possible. I've known both. A long list of greyhounds tilts me in that direction. But I also remember Peter's Sullivan, a pitbull so anxious to please, and so thoroughly gentle, that the very thought of him makes me angry at the endless slanders of this handsome and maliciously maligned breed.

Or go to your local shelter. Just don't buy a damned toy poodle and tell me you can't ever get past Michael Vick. Or do. But please don't tell me about it. I won't be listening.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Because it's Friday...

Missing Sam Kinison

We were having fun then. What are we doing now?

SOMETIMES COMEDIANS SING. I'll begin with a definite nod to Big Hollywood's John Nolte, who today remembers the late comedian and offers up videos of some of Kinison's more politically incorrect routines. They're NSFW for reasons of language, but the larger point is that they're also Not Safe for the 21st Century (NSF21?). Who could have guessed that this irrepressible spirit would seem an impossible anachronism less than 20 years after his death? Sad to consider how devastating his take would be on the post 9/11 world he didn't live to laughscream at.

I'm sharing what may be the only PG-rated video clip of him on YouTube. Well, maybe PG-13. Truthfully, I'd forgotten just how much fun Kinison's version of Wild Thing is. How could so much hostility have such a vital sparkle in its eye? But it's there, along with a slew of rock and roll royalty (extra points for identifying all the stars who were so evidently delighted to participate as props for Kinison's anthem of betrayed love).

You can look at the Big Hollywood stuff or not. I don't care. All I know is that I laughed out loud watching the clip shown here. It's just a great good time. Something therapeutic for another grim Obama Friday.


Because it's still Friday...

Famous Covers

We're so jazzed about Sam Kinison we can't help ourselves.

TGIF. Not all covers are good. But some are great. Here's your chance to weigh in. Here are the covers and the originals. Vote. You're still Americans, aren't you? The cover is first, the original second. Which is better? Sometimes it's a close call. Sometimes it isn't.

All Along the Watchtower.



Comfortably Numb

Van Morrison:

Pink Floyd:

I Can't Get No Satisfaction


Rolling Stones:

Blue Bayou

Linda Ronstadt:

Roy Orbison:

Eve of Destruction

Barry McGuire:

The Turtles, The Kingston Trio, the songwriter, etc:

Light My Fire

Jose Feliciano:

The Doors:

Sympathy for the Devil


Rolling Stones:


Sinead O'Connor:

Pink Floyd::


Frank Sinatra:

The Beatles:

Ain't Too proud to Beg

Rolling Stones:


Crimson and Clover

Joan Jett:

Tommy James & the Shondells.

Salt of the Earth

Joan Baez:

Rolling Stones:

Have fun. It's Friday. Whatever you think, nothing much matters on Fridays.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Your safety is a job for... [fill in the blank]. But it (sort of) rhymes with 'heroes.'

REMEMBER THE EMERGENCY BUTTON? Where I part company with South Park Republicans. Everybody seems to love the 'Junk' reference, including the cultural arbiters at Hotair. Does Michelle Malkin approve? Trawling for traffic? Screw'em.

Private parts, male or female, are not junk. Unless you're a rapper or his ho.

Tired of the coarsening. This is how it happens. Fox News has been featuring the 'junk' reference all day long. Is it conceived of as some kind of euphemism? (The Fox & Friends objected strenuously to the term 'teabaggers.' Is 'junk' a term too abstract for Gretchen Carlson to anathematize...?!) Well, it isn't abstract. It isn't clever, it isn't respectful of civil liberties or personal privacy, and it isn't appropriate to a discussion of national policy that affects the dignity of millions of private citizens. It's crude, stupid, and offensive. And sexist to boot.

In the first place, women don't have 'junk.' They have breasts, which are definitely not junk, and whereas men have something you could demean as junk (provided you hate maleness), women have a complete absence of it. So is the characterization of the invasion of the most intimate personal privacy a misdirection designed to make it seem that only men (homophobic paranoids) are objecting while women, like all women, actually enjoy having their genitals caressed by total strangers...? I give up. Maybe men are the problem. If they could only get in touch with their latent, inner homosexuality, they'd learn to love having their testicles felt up by fat loser TSA employees.

Weren't lefties all fired up about the invasion of civil liberties represented by the Bush War on Terror and the unforgivable intrusions of the Patriot Act? And now aren't we being coerced to accept the absolute ultimate violation of civil liberties -- the compulsion to be sexually molested by utter strangers in the name of keeping us safe? So who is it exactly who cares about personal dignity and freedom in the post 9/11 age? Terrorists can go free because it's impermisssible to cause them discomfort during interrogation, cellphone conspirators must be protected from wiretaps on constitutional grounds, muslims who overstay their visas can't be profiled for fear of offending their religious sensibilities, but minor girls can be groped between the legs by agents of the federal government. Yeah, that makes sense.

What the fuck is wrong with everybody? I have absolutely, completely, fucking had it with all of them.

The only 'junk' I'm worried about is what's inside the heads of the Obama administration. Something that can and should be thrown away because it has no value. You know. Junk. How 'bout you?

Dirty Work, indeed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Worst Prediction Ever:

"Eagles by 10."

Not trying to beat up on the anonymous commenter on this post.
It's just that somebody had other plans. Very much grander plans.

MORE VICKBALL. Eagles 59, Redskins 28. It was at the same time indescribably beautiful and horrible. Michael Vick was semi-superhuman. Can football have an Antichrist, as seductively magnetic as he is evil? I was watching the greatest individual performance I've ever seen on an NFL field thinking, 'I don't know how to feel, what to say, how to describe the mix of emotions.' So, being a writer, I have to talk anyway, and you are all my victims.

Fair warning: I'm going to get pretentious here, and I'll prove it by beginning pretentiously. In eleventh grade English they made us read a book that purported to explain the "problem of Hamlet" in Freudian terms. The big news, of course, was that there is a problem with Hamlet (Who knew?), namely, why he doesn't kill his father's murderer before the play even begins. The Freudian explanation is suitably salacious for eleventh graders; Hamlet has an Oedipal complex, meaning he wants to sleep with his mother and kill his father, etc, which is why it's more important to talk about it with a therapist (soliloquies aimed at therapeutic us) rather than actually do anything, because his emotions are so conflicted.

I thought that was idiotic and came up with my own explanation of the Hamlet problem. I didn't know about Occam's Razor then, but Occam would have been proud of me. My explanation was simplicity itself. Hamlet is an actor ("The play's the thing.") He wants to feel the gamut of human emotions and act them out for all of us. Which is to say there is no problem. The playwright always stands behind the actor, and the actor says the lines written for him. Who wouldn't, given that it's the greatest play ever written? But who is the playwright?

Who indeed? Now for my equally pretentious transition. The Eagles-Redskins game played last night was an event of Biblical proportions. What do I mean by that? I thought looking the word up might help:

bib·li·cal also Bib·li·cal adj.

1. Of, relating to, or contained in the Bible.
2. Being in keeping with the nature of the Bible, especially:
a. Suggestive of the personages or times depicted in the Bible.
b. Suggestive of the prose or narrative style of the King James Bible.
3. Very great in extent; enormous: a natural disaster of near biblical proportions.

Well, it does and it doesn't. Washington fans might think the third definition adequate, but I'm thinking the key definition is the one that's missing. The fourth and most important definition is divine in scale and meaning.

That's what I saw last night. I couldn't go to sleep for hours afterward. I knew I had witnessed something incredibly important, long and deep in the planning. No matter who you were, there were lessons. The way God works. No miracles. God doesn't need miracles to do his teaching, only to exercise mercy. But mercy and forgiveness are part of who he is, and sometimes he writes a play designed to remind us of that fact, although the point of the play is always to make us think, think, think, regardless of our individual perspectives. That he can do that seamlessly in real time in our terms is the proof of his existence and his omniscience. I won't pretend I understand all of the design, but I can at least play the role of theater critic. Some of the themes and meanings my poor perceptions can detect...


Even the most committed of Vick haters could see beauty in his performance last night. We were given a glimpse of the peak of the human creation called football. Perhaps no player ever has excelled so completely in this artificial construct. It was a work of art. And significantly, there is more than one layer of joy. There is the art, and there is also the emotion, the life meaning. The latter two were embedded in the Philadelphia experience. A city whose people have invested so much of their hearts and souls in a mere idea -- the Philadelphia Eagles football team -- and who have been tempted to lose faith after years of disappointment were rewarded spectacularly. No Eagles team in living memory has ever done what Michael Vick and his Eagles did last night. Lesson: it's not futile to hope and believe and make yourself vulnerable to the promise of an idea.

But why would God choose as his instrument of renewed faith and hope Michael Vick, the dog killer?


The nature of gifts is that they are not earned. They are the product of generosity and love. (Why nothing reduces me to tears faster than the gifts my wife gives me that aren't for us but for me alone; I am rendered prostrate with gratitude and love.) God has for his own reasons given Michael Vick an extraordinary gift. God loves Michael Vick, and he is also testing Michael Vick. Our first hint that the play is a subset of other ongoing and future plays. Imagine how it must feel to be Michael Vick in last night's game. Is there some other lesson for him? And for us?


All his life Michael Vick has taken his gifts for granted. He lived on what is called pure talent. Then he lost it all, through multiple acts of sin. (Sorry to be so "biblical" in my termninology...) Loss and punishment and suffering catalyzed a fulfillment of his talent he would never have realized without divine intervention. Which is to say that God is coming back at Vick with a second temptation: "You have learned and you have worked and here is your reward -- adulation. Now you must decide. Will you be virtuous and loyal and good? Or can you be seduced yet again by adulation and money?" Because in another wrinkle of plot, multi-million dollar contracts were also in the air and therefore on the field. Shhhh. M-o-n-e-y.


God writes like Evelyn Waugh, only better, with more perfect irony. Everyone gets his own lesson, on the same neutral-looking set. Superficially, Donovan McNabb is a much better person than Michael Vick. But last night was a smack in the face for a man who has never taken real responsibility for his own failures or declared allegiances beyond his inner circle. The malignant narcissism of Vick had to be shattered with actual physical punishment. The softer, more passive narcissism of Donovan McNabb had to be shattered with epic humiliation. Done. Is McNabb loving his brand new $40 million contract today? Or is he recognizing that no amount of money can make up for his inability to bond with a city that really truly wanted to love him, if only he had dared to love them back? Maybe a lesson in...


It's hard to be humble when so many admiring eyes are focused on you. A great playwright can use the same scene to test both protagonist and antagonist. As protagonist, Vick passed -- for now. He handed out credit all round. As antagonist, McNabb stumbled. His temptation was to blame the team, not himself., which has been his inveterate habit. The good news for McNabb is that the play has more acts to come. God keeps writing all the time. Because he knows we are all subject to...


Why would God allow his son to be tempted directly by Satan? Because all of us are. I'd contemplated subheads like "Convenient Morality," Hypocrisy" and "Blind Vengeance" when I decided to write this pretentious post. But I tossed all those in the garbage can. The common word for everyone involved is simply 'temptation.' There are those who never cared that Vick killed dogs  Unfortunately, God is tempting them to believe that goodness, work, and faith are not essential. They'll be the biggest losers. There are also those who -- like SportsTalk's genuinely brilliant and self-satirizing Angelo Cataldi -- are in the process of convincing themselves that killing dogs isn't such a big deal if you're the greatest football player who ever lived (Nagging doubts to follow...)  AND there are those, the genuinely virtuous and therefore most endangered ones, who choose to put themselves above ALL God's lessons and hate Michael Vick despite the evidence of God's gifts to a man who should be permanently cursed. Despite his magnificent display of human art, and the unintended consequences of...


Another related play that's been off-Broadway for a few years. The script is larded with cliches like "mistakes" (synonym for murder) and "second chances" (meaning more millions in contracts). The literate critics, including me, haven't been impressed. Uh, sin is sin, isn't it?

Maybe. Maybe not. Why I don't position myself as anything more than a theater critic. Why I said at the outset of this post, "I don't know how to feel, what to say, how to describe the mix of emotions." I, as a sinful human being, still cannot forgive what Michael Vick did to defenseless dogs in his care. He beat them, electrocuted them, strangled them. I cannot forgive him, which in Christian terms, is also a sin. As a dog-person I want to beat him within an inch of his life. As a writer, I want to interview him, ask him if he has nightmares about what he's done, if he suffers for his sins...

At the same time I want to believe that we can all be forgiven for our sins. I want to know why God has blessed Michael Vick with such gifts. I want to know why God is blessing Coach Andy Reid for putting the sins of his own sons above the obvious welfare of his team and his job, Why is such selfishness a virtue? Actually, I want to interrogate God:  "Are you planning to give Philadelphia the Super Bowl trophy they have so earnestly prayed and sacrificed for, and if so, why does it have to be like this -- in the guise of a poisoned apple? Are you telling them that the desire for victory and vindication and vengeance is Satanic? Or are you educating them that no great accomplishment can be a function of unalloyed joy? That sin and virtue are perpetually holding hands in the foxhole and even our purest joys always carry the taint of human weakness and venality?

More essentially, does God really forgive Michael Vick what I in my hubris cannot?  Is God telling me that his gift to Vick is emblematic of his love for all human beings, a reminder that I have in many subtler ways sinned fully as badly as Vick? Is he telling me, and everyone else, that all is vanity, including the cathartic joys of shared triumphs?

Or has he written another of his infinite plays for the purpose of making us all take a step back and judge ourselves as we judge others?

Courtesy of commenter Alfa...

My conclusion: The play is the thing. We're writing it along with the Creator... What lines do you wish to quote?

Ah, screw it. Here's my quote.

A punk is a punk is a punk... and we love our deerhoundsdogs. I've introduced myself many times before, but allow me to do so again. I am, oh so humbly....

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