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November 19, 2011 - November 12, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011


Tim Tebow, The Philadelphia
 Eagles & the end of everything...

All six of NFLN's coach and player experts told us this couldn't happen. It did.

BATTLING DESPAIR. I did the big post Monday because I wanted a few days off to think. Then it gets difficult knowing how to jump back in. Why I rely on serendicity so much. Eduardo had this to say when he grew tired of the Dexter discussion:

Who’s up for a topic change? If anybody else watched that Jets/Broncos game last night (it was unwatchable by itself, but I had it on in the background as I surfed the web and wrote an email to Apotheosis explaining why I thought the movie Priest was more amusing than unbearable), it encapsulated the entire Tebow situation.

Tebow didn’t look so good. He flat out missed wide open receivers in crucial 3rd down situations. Other times it looked like he was trying to peg them in dodgeball instead of passing to them. Here’s the thing, though: Mark Sanchez was even worse. In fact, Sanchez has been bad for longer than Tebow, but is there a legion of dedicated Sanchez haters? Not that I know of. Instead, he’s been doing Verizon & Pepsi commercials.

Yeah, granted, Tebow can be annoying. And the Broncos can’t keep winning on the last minute Tebow TD scramble, which I still can’t believe is catching teams by surprise (I mean…really??). At some point he will have to start throwing the ball accurately to be successful, so if he’s taking the past few games as some sort of sign that he can survive by running, he is setting himself up for a massive fall. But still, I can’t see hating the kid. If I were a Jets fan I would be hating Sanchez a lot more than Tebow right now.

What he left out was the magic he was reporting on. The Tebow Magic. An almost cartoon hero, looking lousy for the whole game, then suddenly doing everything right to win at the end. Even people who are rooting for him are embarrassed by it. How can it be? How is it possible to have a talent for nothing but winning?

I was already thinking about it when I saw Eduardo's comment. Because in Philadelphia, we are facing the exact opposite situation: a whole team of great talent that keeps finding a way to lose late. The Eagles roll up yardage, points, and spectacular highlight plays, then collapse in a heap when it really counts.

I think both these phenomena are related to what I've been struggling with of late. (I concede Penn State was a kind of last straw... the one that broke this camel's back. The past is still alive in the present, and if some part of the past you trusted is corrupt, where does that leave you? Gasping.)

Why is the whole world falling so completely apart right now, so that the news is just sickeningingly awful every day, and not enough people appear to see it to take any decisive position against it? Obama is so utterly the worst president of not only my lifetime, but my parents' lifetime, including even FDR, that every even-toned discussion of how he might yet win reelection fills me with a sensation approaching panic. Polls showing the race close are like getting stabbed by glass.

There's way too much evidence to cite. He has set not just the poor against the rich, but the middle and upper middle classes against the rich, endorsed the "Occupy Wall Street" shibboleth of the 99 percent against the 1 percent. And the mainstream media endorse him in that idiotic characterization, so that polls for a long time indicated that ordinary Americans preferred incoherent, lice-ridden squatters -- with no political platitudes not plagiarized from expressly marxist 1960s SDS mimeographs -- to the Tea Partiers who asked, politely, and amazingly hygienically, for less government control of their lives. In the United States of America.

The Republicans keep calling him a socialist, but he's more national socialist -- i.e., fascist -- than marxist. The party with the closest links to the financial epicenter of the country is the Democrats, not the Republicans. Why Solyndra gets the sweetheart deal, why Goldman Sachs provides more money -- and White House functionaries -- to Obama than to the evil conservatives the dim-witted 'Occupy' thugs are so anxious to do in.

Why I keep saying -- and no one ever listens -- that the crisis facing us is not about hunger for money but the thirst for power. Last night, on Fox News's four-to-one against libs show The Five, a conservative insisted on describing the Penn Sate mess as being about greed. It's not. The people who run government, universities, and the media don't care about prosperity at all. They want to be vindicated in their belief that they're smarter than all us flyover fools, and more than anything, they want the power to tell us what to believe, who to believe in, how to live, how to bring up our children (uh, as theirs, or their compliant drones), and how to go gently into the good night of totalitarianism.

Sometimes, the devil really is in the details. You have the mayor of New York, a billionaire, who cites freedom of speech when he's approving a mosque nobody wants at Ground Zero but who refuses to tolerate religious representation at the tenth anniversary of September 11. He cites freedom of speech again when he refuses to crack down on dope-smoking 'Occupy' protesters who are incapable of any kind of articulate speech while he insists on regulating the tobacco, caloric and salt intake of the law-abiding citizens of his city. He just wants to be in charge, to be our daddy and mommy by turns, until we are only children waving pennants for sports teams.

What they all want.  And they don't care about prosperity for the real 99 percent. Especially Obama. They just want credit for pretending to care about people they demonstrably don't give a shit about.

Obama won't approve drilling for domestic oil or natural gas. Jobs? He won't approve a pipeline that would create what? Jobs. He pushes a government control bill that is guaranteed to raise health insurance premiums and lies about the fact that everyone's premiums will go up and many will have to give up plans he insisted they wouldn't? Does he care? No. He blames it all on his predecessor and the rich. Also why his whole approach to tax policy for stimulus is to pay the wages of teachers, cops, and firemen and perpetuate unemployment indefinitely rather than turn the much larger private economy loose to do the 'evil' American thing of creating new economic opportunities where bureaucrats typically see none.

Europe is financially imploding. Even the dumbest of the mainstream media used to know that if the United States catches an economic cold, Europe catches economic pneumonia. Now Europe has something worse than pneumonia, and the only remaining mechanism for reining in the world-bankrupting federal spending levels in the U.S. is an extra-congressional committee of octogenarians who are empowered only to trim a fraction of the automatic growth of a U.S. budget that hasn't existed in legislative reality since Obama became president.Try to find a description of the European debt crisis that places the blame for Euro-tuberculosis on American pneumonia. Good luck.

Foreign affairs? Oil prices spiking, rising, scaring? Obama doing nothing -- absolutely nothing other than bland talk -- about Iran's nuclear intentions. Withdrawing completely from Iraq. Promising to flee Afghanistan soon, if not sooner. He chooses to kill bin Laden, Awlaki, etc, rather than capture them because his political buttboy attorney-general is committed to trying them in New York City if they're captured alive, and the alternative of a mlitary tribunal in Guantanamo would be even more embarrassing. And maybe we'll be able to get rid of Israel too. Who doesn't want that in the American liberal community? Lousy goddammed Jews. Except for the ones who insist on helping us every step of the way. (They'll get something for their help in the end....)

Am I boring you? Back to first questions. What do Tebow and the Eagles have to do with this mess?

So, this morning, I heard two different sets of analyses. Maybe they were close to the truth because the facts are so stark, I don't know. A quarterback I know doesn't think Tebow has what it takes shook his head and said (something to the effect of), "You can't underestimate the power of belief. If he's really able to convince them they can win, that's an incredibly potent force in sports."

Conversely, I heard from multiple analysts who still believe the Eagles might yet be a force to be reckoned with this season (none of them from Philadelphia), I heard (and I'm just summarizing), "When bad things start to happen, you can start to look for the bad things, and then they happen."

I'm sure you all want a bottom line. I refrained from watching news coverage of the 'Occupy' nonsense that was happening yesterday. I watched a SyFy movie instead. All about the moon about to collide with the earth. Lady Laird makes fun of me for watching these movies. I enjoy them because we always escape Armageddon at the end. Totally unlike what we see on the History, Discovery, and Science channels. They actually can't wait for the end of the human race.

Which is where I come down on the whole subject. Since World War I, the so-called intellectuals have been rooting for the end of the world as we know it. They believe they killed God and the proof they seek is that we disappear into nonentity and meaninglessness. Which makes them look smart.

Simple as that.

Why do you suppose they have battled so hard and furiously against the idea of American Exceptionalism when the actual history is so decisively against them? The American Revolution is responsible for all the freedom in what we call the western world. Directly. Muscularly (given WWI and WWII and the Cold War). They want to die. They want us to die. To this end, they have conquered the educational institutions and the media, they have turned truth into lies (post-modernism), and they have created a phony ideal of a green world that if it had ever existed would not contain Gizeh, Athens, Pompeii, Michelangelo, Newton, Shakespeare, Paris, Einstein, or New York. Where most of them live or wish they did. Their fantasy is that we all live naked on the banks of the Amazon drinking bad beer made from capsum bark. While listening to John Lennon on our iPods.

Buying it? Not me.

But I'm buying the bigger point. Which is that the world is at a crossroads. The propagandists have succeeded in convincing something like a majority to give up. (William O'Blivion is looking forward to the breakup of the United States.)

The resisting minority have not perceived the extent of the danger. They believe that most people still believe. They are in error about that. Something cracked in the body politic after the end of the Cold War. They haven't caught up. The end of the Cold War thawed out the worst emotion of all -- Thanatos. They still think they are raising their children to participate in something like a continuum from the past. Wrong. The continuum was fatally sabotaged long long ago.

Why I am so, so unhappy. Death is advancing on everything we hold dear. Our children have to be raised not as good citizens but implacable warriors.

I'm too old to understand all the implications of my own statement. But it's making me close to catatonic.

I took down a post earlier in the week. I should explain. I apologize. But cover-ups go way way back. The roots of the "Occupy' movement go all the way back to my own adolescence in 1969, when a third of the student body walked out of Saturday Chapel at Mercersburg Academy. It was, perhaps, the moment when the Boomer Bible was born. I tried to go back. Thomas Wolfe famously said, "You can't go home again." He was mistaken. You can go home again. I have. You just can't go back in time. Everyone who was alive then has his own version of what happened, and almost nobody else remembers anything that could be called truth. There is only the myth of what happened.

So I spoke to old teachers and younger relatives of those who were, in fact, present. I was trying to understand how institutions remember things that changed their histories for good or ill. The answer? They don't. It's all a continuous present that ejects the past like shit from a goose.

Why do I trust my memory? I committed an historic event. I published an "Extra" of the school's award winning newspaper. I got it published in 48 hours. I documented what was said at the all-school meeting after the walkout, I solicited pro and con articles from members of the faculty, and I wrote an editorial. The only thing I don't remember is my editorial, except that I was opposed to what had happened.

What did my research disclose? Nobody knows anything about the event itself anymore, even though my Extra still sits in the annals of the paper, on record and accessible.. My favorite teacher doesn't want to know about the relevance of that moment to 'Occupy Wall Street' because it conflicts with what he wants to remember about his own liberal tenure. And the youngsters have been taught to remember that only my graduating class -- 1970 -- is somehow mysteriously bitter about their alma mater.

What does any of this have to do with Penn State or the state of the world? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Except I'm still stubbornly thinking about Tebow. And this:



And this, meaning the whole thing:

Watch My Life as a Turkey on PBS. See more from NATURE.

Including the moments when he learned that turkeys live quite alertly and consciously in the present... and the moment when his last turkey friend suddenly, savagely, attacked him as a male rival.

The human plus? We get to think about it. If we can. We can't go back, but we live not to die but to live.

Are we alive? Or dead like those others? Your call.




Monday, November 14, 2011


Sifting the Comments

Is there gold in them thar spills?

EVEN THE BEST HAVE THEIR WEAK MOMENTS. I read all the comments but I can't respond to all of them. That would be folly. The good ones need no particular remark unless they start a new line of thinking. The bad ones are usually self-evident unless they illustrate a pattern of some kind or are so absurd as to need calling out. But if you want your comments replied to, I can give you some guidelines. 1) Be brilliantly original or provocative. Or 2) Demonstrate that you haven't read what I've written, 3) Be nonresponsive to what I've written while pretending to respond, 4) Ignore what I've written to pursue your own personal agenda, or 5) Cherrypick what I've written to register some great gotcha that bores everybody but you.

I've made no secret in the last week or two that I'm disgusted with things in general, but that hasn't deterred stratagems 2) through 5). Which is your right, of course. And some of you have been valued commenters in the past. Like William O'Blivion, who has many erudite thoughts -- but not this week. Case in point. He replied to my post about how dumb conservatives are being thus:



A slap at my dismissal of Herman Cain, sure. Fine. Never mind that Harry Truman was anything but an amateur. He was a skilled Washington politician who got lots of attention for pursuing war profiteers when he was in the House of Representatives. Yes, he was a haberdasher at one time and never earned a college degree. Not quite the same thing as never having held any kind of  elective office. But that was just the opening salvo. The bottom line here is the bottom line: "Not even Reagan was a Reagan." Uh, yeah. He was. Mr. O'Blivion is wallowing in his own despair and wants us to wallow with him. Disgust is not despair. In fact, it's the opposite. He's welcome to his own agenda, but I write my posts. Comments should be written too, not splattered across the Internet.

There's also Pittsburgh Guy -- uh, Bud -- all bent out of shape because KDKA broadcast a football game on the radio in the 1920s and the Wiki entry I quoted about the University of Pennslvania claimed that laurel for Penn. Which justified a slander only half mitigated by one of those opaque Internet typographical prompts:



Never mind what the post was about. Meaning the worst scandal in the history of amateur sports. Or that I wrote an actual -- if wry -- love letter to Pittsburgh a week or so ago.

Pittsburgh is a fine fine city. Like so many American cities are. Unique in history, architecture, cultural riches (Pippa has already studied Faberge treaures at the Frick), neighborhoods, and ethnic identity. I love this country. Wherever you go, there is beauty, stores of knowledge and art, and the people make you welcome and proud to be American. Even in the appalling moral cesspool that is the headquarters of Stiller (Steeler) fans.

Wrenching the whole discussion into a back alley nobody cares about is its own reward. Cherrypicking is its own reward, however off topic, distracting, and dull.

Yes, I'm grousing. William O and Bud will understand that I'm just teasing them. Commenters are entitled to commit most of the sins I've enumerated. But Sins 2) and 3) actually piss me off. Which brings me to SkinnyDevil. He's a Paulista. Initially he was befuddled by this post.



Then he collected himself and (non)responded to what he didn't like.



I admit it. This whole post is about sneaking up on SkinnyDevil, who has his own blog and seems to think the weight he's throwing around is somehow equal to InstaPunk's. Wrong. He commits the cardinal sins that make Lord Laird mad. He hasn't read what I've actually written, which answers the questions he triumphantly asks, and he is nonresponsive to the central point of the post he presumes to be superior to.

"You are well aware that Iran poses no direct threat to the US."

The weakest argument in the world is presuming that your own lame assumptions bind the person you're disagreeing with the same way they bind you. ("You are well aware that if I shoot your brother I haven't harmed you in any way.") I despise Ron Paul's foreign policy precisely because it doesn't conprehend that events in the world -- such as the annihilation of Israel -- would also be crippling assaults on the United States. Not perceiving that fundamental point is the stated reason for my detestation of Ron Paul. Why I -- in the text of my post -- call him "not a politician" but "a cult leader." So SkinnyDevil can't or doesn't read. Which is my problem with all Paulistas.

"Which brings us back to why you would take issue with Paul when every candidate on the stage with him agrees with much of what he says..."

Read what I fucking wrote: "The plan is published as a spreadsheet, with no description of how any transition is to be accomplished. The problem I've always had with libertarians. We're right. Who gives a shit about what happens when we finally take charge?" [Boldface added after the fact because it's apparently necessary for some of the tools in the audience.]

If Gingrich says he wants to do away with various federal departments, I know that he knows it requires more than the stroke of a pen and a crazy grandma smile of jubilation. Which makes him vastly different from the congressman who could guest star as the villain of the week on Criminal Minds without raising an eyebrow.

What part of that don't you get, SkinnyDevil?





 
Disgust, Part 2

The Mark Twain Prize

"I hope that, like Mark Twain, a hundred years from now people
will see my work and say, "Wow, that is actually pretty racist."

BY ALL MEANS LET'S IGNORE THE DESERVING.. Disgust. Here are the winners of the Mark Twain Prize:

    1998 – Richard Pryor
    1999 – Jonathan Winters
    2000 – Carl Reiner
    2001 – Whoopi Goldberg
    2002 – Bob Newhart
    2003 – Lily Tomlin
    2004 – Lorne Michaels
    2005 – Steve Martin
    2006 – Neil Simon
    2007 – Billy Crystal
    2008 – George Carlin
    2009 – Bill Cosby
    2010 – Tina Fey
    2011 – Will Ferrell

Disgust. Mark Twain was not a standup comic or movie actor or producer. Hemingway said of him, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn." (Except that there was also Edgar Allan Poe.) He was a writer. Here's a reminder from a lovely and still affecting souffle called Innocents Abroad, which none of the winners could duplicate or even aspire to. So what else is new? As Keith Richards says, "90 percent of everything is crap." MT is an exception. Behold the American voice:

They pronounce it 'Pom-pay-e.' I always had an idea that you went down into Pompeii with torches, by the way of damp, dark stairways, just as you do in silver mines, and traversed gloomy tunnels with lava overhead and something on either hand like dilapidated prisons gouged out of the solid earth, that faintly resembled houses. But you do nothing of the kind. Fully one-half of the buried city, perhaps, is completely exhumed and thrown open freely to the light of day; and there stand the long rows of solidly-built brick houses (roofless) just as they stood eighteen hundred years ago, hot with the flaming sun; and there lie their floors, clean-swept, and not a bright fragment tarnished or wanting of the labored mosaics that pictured them with the beasts, and birds, and flowers which we copy in perishable carpets to-day; and there are the Venuses, and Bacchuses, and Adonises, making love and getting drunk in many-hued frescoes on the walls of saloon and bed-chamber; and there are the narrow streets and narrower sidewalks, paved with flags of good hard lava, the one deeply rutted with the chariot-wheels, and the other with the passing feet of the Pompeiians of by-gone centuries; and there are the bake-shops, the temples, the halls of justice, the baths, the theatres—all clean-scraped and neat, and suggesting nothing of the nature of a silver mine away down in the bowels of the earth. The broken pillars lying about, the doorless doorways and the crumbled tops of the wilderness of walls, were wonderfully suggestive of the "burnt district" in one of our cities, and if there had been any charred timbers, shattered windows, heaps of debris, and general blackness and smokiness about the place, the resemblance would have been perfect. But no—the sun shines as brightly down on old Pompeii to-day as it did when Christ was born in Bethlehem, and its streets are cleaner a hundred times than ever Pompeiian saw them in her prime. I know whereof I speak—for in the great, chief thoroughfares (Merchant Street and the Street of Fortune) have I not seen with my own eyes how for two hundred years at least the pavements were not repaired! —how ruts five and even ten inches deep were worn into the thick flagstones by the chariot wheels of generations of swindled tax-payers? And do I not know by these signs that Street Commissioners of Pompeii never attended to their business, and that if they never mended the pavements they never cleaned them? And, besides, is it not the inborn nature of Street Commissioners to avoid their duty whenever they get a chance? I wish I knew the name of the last one that held office in Pompeii so that I could give him a blast. I speak with feeling on this subject, because I caught my foot in one of those ruts, and the sadness that came over me when I saw the first poor skeleton, with ashes and lava sticking to it, was tempered by the reflection that may be that party was the Street Commissioner....

Then we lounged through many and many a sumptuous private mansion which we could not have entered without a formal invitation in incomprehensible Latin, in the olden time, when the owners lived there—and we probably wouldn't have got it. These people built their houses a good deal alike. The floors were laid in fanciful figures wrought in mosaics of many-colored marbles. At the threshold your eyes fall upon a Latin sentence of welcome, sometimes, or a picture of a dog, with the legend "Beware of the Dog," and sometimes a picture of a bear or a faun with no inscription at all. Then you enter a sort of vestibule, where they used to keep the hat-rack, I suppose; next a room with a large marble basin in the midst and the pipes of a fountain; on either side are bedrooms; beyond the fountain is a reception-room, then a little garden, dining-room, and so forth and so on. The floors were all mosaic, the walls were stuccoed, or frescoed, or ornamented with bas-reliefs, and here and there were statues, large and small, and little fish-pools, and cascades of sparkling water that sprang from secret places in the colonnade of handsome pillars that surrounded the court, and kept the flower-beds fresh and the air cool....

It was a quaint and curious pastime, wandering through this old silent city of the dead—lounging through utterly deserted streets where thousands and thousands of human beings once bought and sold, and walked and rode, and made the place resound with the noise and confusion of traffic and pleasure. They were not lazy. They hurried in those days. We had evidence of that. There was a temple on one corner, and it was a shorter cut to go between the columns of that temple from one street to the other than to go around—and behold that pathway had been worn deep into the heavy flagstone floor of the building by generations of time-saving feet! They would not go around when it was quicker to go through. We do that way in our cities.

Everywhere, you see things that make you wonder how old these old houses were before the night of destruction came—things, too, which bring back those long dead inhabitants and place them living before your eyes. For instance: The steps (two feet thick lava blocks) that lead up out of the school, and the same kind of steps that lead up into the dress circle of the principal theatre, are almost worn through! For ages the boys hurried out of that school, and for ages their parents hurried into that theatre, and the nervous feet that have been dust and ashes for eighteen centuries have left their record for us to read today....

And so I turned away and went through shop after shop and store after store, far down the long street of the merchants, and called for the wares of Rome and the East, but the tradesmen were gone, the marts were silent, and nothing was left but the broken jars all set in cement of cinders and ashes....

In a bakeshop... the exhumers of Pompeii found nice, well baked loaves which the baker had not found time to remove from the ovens the last time he left his shop, because circumstances compelled him to leave in such a hurry.

In one house (the only building in Pompeii which no woman is now allowed to enter) were the small rooms and short beds of solid masonry, just as they were in the old times, and on the walls were pictures which looked almost as fresh as if they were painted yesterday, but which no pen could have the hardihood to describe; and here and there were Latin inscriptions—obscene scintillations of wit, scratched by hands that possibly were uplifted to Heaven for succor in the midst of a driving storm of fire before the night was done.

In one of the principal streets was a ponderous stone tank, and a waterspout that supplied it, and where the tired, heated toilers from the Campagna used to rest their right hands when they bent over to put their lips to the spout, the thick stone was worn down to a broad groove an inch or two deep. Think of the countless thousands of hands that had pressed that spot in the ages that are gone, to so reduce a stone that is as hard as iron!

They had a great public bulletin board in Pompeii—a place where announcements for gladiatorial combats, elections, and such things, were posted—not on perishable paper, but carved in enduring stone. One lady, who, I take it, was rich and well brought up, advertised a dwelling or so to rent, with baths and all the modern improvements, and several hundred shops, stipulating that the dwellings should not be put to immoral purposes....

In one of these long Pompeiian halls the skeleton of a man was found, with ten pieces of gold in one hand and a large key in the other. He had seized his money and started toward the door, but the fiery tempest caught him at the very threshold, and he sank down and died. One more minute of precious time would have saved him. I saw the skeletons of a man, a woman, and two young girls. The woman had her hands spread wide apart, as if in mortal terror, and I imagined I could still trace upon her shapeless face something of the expression of wild despair that distorted it when the heavens rained fire in these streets, so many ages ago. The girls and the man lay with their faces upon their arms, as if they had tried to shield them from the enveloping cinders. In one apartment eighteen skeletons were found, all in sitting postures, and blackened places on the walls still mark their shapes and show their attitudes, like shadows. One of them, a woman, still wore upon her skeleton throat a necklace, with her name engraved upon it—JULIE DI DIOMEDE.

But perhaps the most poetical thing Pompeii has yielded to modern research, was that grand figure of a Roman soldier, clad in complete armor; who, true to his duty, true to his proud name of a soldier of Rome, and full of the stern courage which had given to that name its glory, stood to his post by the city gate, erect and unflinching, till the hell that raged around him burned out the dauntless spirit it could not conquer....

We came out from under the solemn mysteries of this city of the Venerable Past—this city which perished, with all its old ways and its quaint old fashions about it, remote centuries ago, when the Disciples were preaching the new religion, which is as old as the hills to us now—and went dreaming among the trees that grow over acres and acres of its still buried streets and squares, till a shrill whistle and the cry of "All aboard—last train for Naples!" woke me up and reminded me that I belonged in the nineteenth century, and was not a dusty mummy, caked with ashes and cinders, eighteen hundred years old. The transition was startling. The idea of a railroad train actually running to old dead Pompeii, and whistling irreverently, and calling for passengers in the most bustling and business-like way, was as strange a. thing as one could imagine, and as unpoetical and disagreeable as it was strange. 

uh, yeah. Like I said. He was a writer, not a comic. Or the racist of Tina's ignorant imaginings. Here's the bed he died in.


Imagine having sex with Tina Fey in that bed. Can't? My point exactly.

I'm betting if he were still in it he'd raise himself up and cuss a blue streak against the shallow nothings who have been lent his name as an honor they feel free to dishonor.

He was a great cusser. Just like me.

      





Finally Proud

Guess what. We're champions. Again.

NOT AS LOYAL AS THE PENN STATERS. I went to a lot of games when I was a student, and in those days the Patriots also played at Harvard Stadium on Sundays (yeah, I'm that old.) I saw Joe Namath subjected to the gentlest sack any NFL quarterback has ever received. They owed him.

But here's the funny thing. I never bought anything that said Harvard on it. I never bought a Harvard tee-shirt, sweatshirt, or class ring. I was so used to the squiggly-eyed look people gave you when they asked you where you went to college and you said "Harvard" that I just never went there. How many times can you hear people say "Hah-vid" and laugh as if it's the first time you heard the joke? Pahk the cah in the Hahvid Yahd? Fine. Go for it. Enjoy yourself.

Then I got married for the final time a few years ago. I introduced my bride to the fun of college football, which she had never cared about and suddenly fell in love with. We got Rutgers season tickets. And, as if by magic, I suddenly started getting all this Harvard stuff as presents from my wife. Tee-shirts advertising their frequent Ivy football championships, an official Harvard sweatshirt (my first one ever, at the age of 57), a long-sleeved gray jersey that felt almost discreet and another bright crimson one that boasted of the team Ryan Fitzpatrick led to the title. And my wife had a tee-shirt that contained the coats of arms of all the Harvard houses on the back. Presents for the female kids and grandkids turned out to be Harvard things, some of them involving glitter.

I was embarrassed. Sometimes I'd change my shirt before a family gathering or a trip to the hardware store. I always disliked people who wanted Harvard to be the first thing strangers knew about them. As if... well, who needs more snobs?

You know what, though? This week, I'm finally proud. Especially of Harvard football. Harvard Stadium has 40,000 seats, usually half-empty except for the Yale game. Franklin Field, Penn's home, has 60,000 seats, usually two-thirds empty when Harvard is playing there, and we've been there twice for that with abysmal results. The last time I actually had to apologize to the guests we'd invited to the dismal performance of Harvard -- it was the single worst, dullest college football game I've ever seen. Why I picked up the whole tab at the fabulous Ralph's Italian restaurant in South Philly.

I'm not apologetic now, though. I'm proud. Finally proud. With one week to go in the season, Harvard has clinched its 14th Ivy football title out of the last 56 years. It doesn't even matter what happens against Yale next week, except that Yale's quarterback should definitely attend his Rhodes Scholarship interview in Atlanta rather than play a meaningless rivalry game.

Which is why I'm proud at this point. Big time football has just exploded in a nuclear firestorm. The Ivy League ("The Ancient Eight" as one of my tee-shirts has it) has been, after all these years, vindicated. Harvard football players aren't physics majors and classics scholars. They tend to live with other jocks in Kirkand House. On the whole, they're dumber than the rest, but some of them still make it to the NFL, which they do NOT turn their noses up at. But, but, but... they are definitely, absolutely amateurs. They do not go to bowl games, there are no challenges or replays at Ivy games, and every one of us roots for Columbia to win at least one game every year, because they are the smallest undergrad population and we don't want them to become hopelessly discouraged.

Yesterday I had to run an errand that encompassed two states. I put on a 2006 Harvard football championship tee-shirt. I was just hoping someone would make a sleighting remark, so I could say we play football cleanly as a sport. Unlike some schools we could mention.

No one did.

I mean, who cares about Ivy League football? Let's be real here.

But we did help invent the game. Does that count for anything...?

uh, No. So be it. And I'm busting my buttons over it, for the first time in 40 years. Go figure.



We win. Or, rather, I win. Who out there has a wife like mine, who always knows what's important way ahead of time? I tell you, it makes me humble.





Dexter Season Five

Most shows get worse and gutter out... I tell the truth about such things.

FAIR WARNING: I HATED SEASON 4. I promised myself I would do four posts today. I concede I'm getting tired after just three. But the Lady and I have been watching Dexter Season 5 in our usual fashion -- all at once -- and I have to confess I have a confession to make.

Maybe I was burned out by watching the end of the Harry Potter saga. Deadliest Hallows XIX showed up in the queue on Friday, so we watched it. Okay. Best of the whole 45-movie saga. I can admit that. Who among you can say I'm not fair about all matters not pertaining to the Rolling Stones? See?

But then there were the On Demand continuations of CSI New York, NCIS, and Not CSI Somewhere, USA, and I have to tell you there's such a thing as series burnout. Too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing, and there's no way I wouldn't tell the truth to my faithful readers about such a thing.

Which is why I have to report that Dexter Season 5 is absolutely the best ever. They've changed the show without changing the show. How Michael Anthony Hall doesn't automatically win the Emmy for most killer TV performance every year is far beyond my poor powers of film criticism.

I can't say much without risking spoilers, so I won't say much. Just watch. Especially if you're a Christian. Oops. I said too much. What I meant to say was, watch especially if you're a homicidal heretic with a grudge against the world. Except that...

Something I never ever thought would happen. Dexter making me cry. With him, for him, by him being human.

He does that. Lady Laird left home half an hour early this morning to mail the DVD so we could get the last epsiode ASAP.

I think I can stop writing now. Four posts. All done. Except one thing: Franco Harris? Fuck you. Dexter would know what to do with you, and being an NFL fullback wouldn't make a particle of difference. He's a, well, killer.




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