The literary adventures of a spicy, yet tasteless, bookworm.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Prisoner of Vandam Street by Kinky Friedman.
This was a disappointment. I know Kinky is ending the series. He said as much in his reading. The book wasn’t bad, just a let down from his usual dark humor. There was way too much scatalogical humor and his usual acidity came off as just being mean. The Kinkster over-reached himself in trying to inject far too much meaning into his story. He could have pulled off a lot more if he hadn’t been trying so hard. He also took too long to get to the actual mystery part. The first few chapters were malarial wanderings and the rest of the book just couldn’t get on track. The mystery itself is a take-off on Rear Window and works pretty well. It’s the tone of the book that falls flat. I wanted more and better from the Kinkster. Kinky fans will buy the book and generally enjoy it, but it is a second tier effort.
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner.
Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!! This is the funniest thing I’ve ever read! This beats King ! It beats O’Rourke! It beats Grizzard! It’s like a Groucho monologue in heels! I was busting a gut on every page. The book tells the tale of Cornelia’s trip to Europe with her friend Emily and the jaw-droppingly hilarious mayhem that ensues. From ship to shipwreck, from H. G. Wells to Notre Dame, from measles to an uneventful night in a brothel, this is flat out funny. Skinner has a perfect sense of timing (she was a stage monologuist after all) and she is a very sharp writer. Every word is either funny or leading up to being funny. Hunt down this book no matter how long it takes or how much you have to spend. Hi-leer-uh-tee don’t come better than this.
Having been pretty postless for the past week or so, I won’t be getting much better before next week. My personal and professional lives have conspired to ensure that I am in total overload. Good thing I’m a pessimist so I don’t have any of that “hope” stuff dragging me down. I have nothing very inspiring to say about Easter, so I’ll just wish you all a happy one. My Easter gift will be a choice morsel from my current read, Our Hearts were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner, the only thing that’s made me laugh out loud in a coon’s age:
“The family received a constant stream of callers and whenever we thought them sufficiently well-known we’d horn in if possible. One afternoon Sybil Thorndike was to come to tea, also Gilbert Miller. The prospect of meeting Gilbert Miller made me rather twittery. I was about to launch forth upon the stage and, who knew, Mr. Miller might offer me a job if I made an impression on him. It seemed a golden opportunity. They arrived and their visit passed pleasantly. Also a decided impression was made on Mr. Miller, but not by me. My thunder was stolen by Emily, who in her excitement over this distinguished occasion ate the baby-ribbon which was tied around the sandwiches. It was hard to chew and even harder to swallow because it got untied in transit and she had to gulp it down like a stomach-pump. But to pull it out hand over hand would have been even more spectacular, so she washed it down with tea, hoping it wouldn’t start tying itself in bowknots around her appendix. Gilbert Miller never took his eyes off her. He never even blinked. And as for topping that impression, I hadn’t a chance.”
Instant Replay; The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer.
God I miss football season. It starts again on Sept. 9 at New England where the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will again defeat the dopey Colts. I’m not sure I’ll make it. I have a big biography of Vince Lombardi saved up in case I need some methadone-reading come June. Oh, yeah, Kramer’s book. It was a very funny and very smart look at the life of a pro-football player of the 60s. It’s weird how cultured those guys were. Not opera-loving, Chateau Briand drinkin’ cultured, but just generally well educated. Compared to today anyway. Kramer’s anecdotes are full of players, black and white, who speak in complete sentences, with minimum slang, and without cussing. Some parts were way too “football insider” and others were just otherworldly in their encapsulation of the time period of the book. The training methods he describes are jaw-droppingly brutal. This is a great book for the football fan but those of you for whom the name Sam “Bam” Cunningham means nothing should read something else.
Okay, so it’s not that bad yet but I emphasize yet. Am I the only one finding St. Blog’s Parish to be a near occasion of sin? Regular reading of St. Blog’s has me alternating between hatred of the Church and hatred of the self-righteous pricks hurling anathemas like vases. I thought I was a self-absorbed, judgmental know-it-all! The Word according to St. Blog’s can be summed up thusly: bishops are evil, the laity are evil, vernacular is evil, choirs are evil, EMEs are evil, priests are evil for not rising up and lynching their bishops who are evil, etc. It’s a pretty crappy God who sets up such a thoroughgoing Evil Church. I exaggerate to prove a point but not as much as I wish I were. Yes there are wise and wonderful people in St. Blog’s, prayerful, faithful, and holy guides along the soul’s highway. But there is a strong undercurrent of malicious pharisee-ism that regularly bursts its banks and floods the plains of Zion. Posters and commenters abound who mix hate, arrogance, and spiritual condescension more violently than I can mix a metaphor. Forget loving your fellow wayward Christian, how about not loving your hatred of them? If this is how faithful Catholics lovingly correct their brethren, I’m glad I live in a Shall Issue state.
Since becoming a regular St. Blog reader I found myself nitpicking at Mass, trying to detect the creeping heterodoxy that so shivers the online timbers. I examined actions and gainsaid motives like I was the bastard child of Sherlock Holmes and Madame LeFarge. I finally found the impediment to the full flowering of true Catholic faith: my own blog-o-rific Heterodoxy Hunt. Sure there’s room for improvement but the forces of evil seem to be avoiding La Divina Alabama. From cruising the Catholic blogs, I can safely say that my parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in Homewood, AL, is the last remaining orthodox, reverent, devout, obedient Big-C-Catholic Church in the known Universe. (Maybe Father should toss ol’ what’s his name, that Polack in the funny hat, a bone and let him bunk in the Rectory.) I don’t know how the rampaging hordes of Liturgo-fascists, Pedo-priests, and E-e-e-e-vil Bishops missed us. Maybe they took a wrong turn up HWY 31. We also seem devoid of Tridentine Tyrants, scowling Mantilla Ladies, and Snooty Eastern Riters. Was it something we said? Like, Mass maybe?
Without further ado, here’s my list of the Top 10 Things I Love About OLS:
1. Fr. Deering, whose homilies are always good and always explain aspects of the Faith
2. Msgr. Muller, who is visibly bummed when the Communion line ends. He also always kneels facing the Tabernacle until the EMEs have put Him away after Communion no matter how long they take
3. Not everyone genuflects before receiving Communion, but enough people that nobody thinks you’re weird if you do
4. When the cantor gets too into singing the Psalm, you can watch Msgr. Muller twiddle his thumbs
5. The Chapel of Our Savior, where we have had Eucharistic Adoration for as long as I can remember. Muller’s in there 2-3 times a day, with at least 1 hour every morning. The bishop is often there too. So are lots of other people there too, perfectly normal people.
6. Fr. Lody, who really needs to start writing down his homilies but he’s so enthusiastic about the Mass that everyone likes him anyway. When he hears Confessions, he gives everyone a full half hour. Sure that makes the lines longer but they were long anyway
7. Msgr. Muller gives 2 homilies per Mass, a little one after the entrance procession about the first reading and the other long one at the usual time. I used to think his homilies were too long and dull until I got caught up in one and realized his homilies were great, I just hadn’t been paying attention
8. No Latin-Nazis
9. Fr. Deering is always willing to take as much time as necessary to listen to the needs and troubles of a parishioner, no matter how whiny
10. The Parishioners. Some hold hands during the Our Father, some don’t. They give the sign of peace like they mean it.
11. OLS men play “paterfamilias” with the lone females in their pews, offering hands in the Our Father and when they step back with the usher to let their families out of the pew for Communion they will guide you in front of them too so you are in the “protected’ family group.
12. The ushers never bounce you from the Confessional line, even if you are getting rowdy. (Yes, true story, involving me, 2 converts, and a revert. Don’t ask)