Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year's Irresolution

Christmas is over and the New Year's rolled in. Time to take down the decorations, shed the Christmas spirit, and return to your old self. Some of you might have thought to do the reverse: shed the old self and keep the spirit. You might even have made a New Year's resolution to prove you were serious about it. Most of you will fail. Your character was formed at a very young age and you've been set in your ways ever since. You might have experienced a religious conversion at some point, but all that did was make you excessively optimistic about your prospects. Most likely your character is essentially the same. You don't really want to find yourself by losing it, nor do you wish to "pray always." You still want what you want when you want it. You love gossip and backbiting, and though you may not indulge any public vices, you nurture them privately. You claim not to wish that evil befall your enemies, but inwardly rejoice when it actually happens. You remind me

Just as I was thinking about leaning toward making a resolution, my resolve was pre-empted by whoever smashed the rear window out of my car on New Year's Eve. Apparently just for fun. Totally shattered, glass everywhere; I got cut cleaning it up. Little slivers remain under my skin. After power-vacuuming the entire vehicle, sparkling remnants keep reappearing as if by magic. I'll never get it all out. If the perpetrators' aim was to make my life miserable for the following week, they have succeeded. But the event inspired a sudden clarity of thought: what's the point in changing when everyone around you remains the same? How can I do good to those who misuse me when I can't find them? Retribution and revenge ought to have a more prominent place in the Christian ethic. I tried plumbing the depths of my soul for the spirit of forgiveness, but found it wasn't very deep, and thus concluded, not with reluctance but with considerable gusto, that my ultimate hope for the malefactors was that they die young and go to hell. If you want a more Christian take on the proper response to insensate evil, there are plenty of pious websites out there.
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People have been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing. My evidence for this? None. Huge assumptions provide motivation.

But (in the spirit of the foregoing) one thing I've been doing is keeping track of dead people. Bad dead people, who died during the past year. A partial list:

Slobodan Milosevic
Abu Musab al Zarqawi (remember Nick Berg)
Saddam Hussein
Richard Kuklinski, 70, a Mafia hitman known as 'The Iceman'.

Some other bad people also died on "The Sopranos," but I'm not sure they're real or that they really died.

Feel free to add to the list if you wish. Others, whose eternal fate we leave to the heavens, and many of whom we can't help but miss, in the order of their perishing, you can find listed here. Among them are Dana Reeve, wife to Christopher; Maureen Stapleton, of "All in the Family"; Muriel Spark (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and many others); Patsy Ramsey, mother of Jon Benet; Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, of Vatican banking scandal fame, and Johannes Cardinal Willebrands, a Dutch liberal, both familiar names in my early Catholic years. Maybe the headlines don't tell all there is to know about a man; and Jeanne Kirkpatrick (see Peony's tribute). We lost the voices of Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett, June Pointer (at only 52), Buck Owens, and Gene Pitney ("Town Without Pity"); the voice of sportscaster Curt Gowdy is also gone. And the screen presence of Shelley Winters, Jane Wyatt (of "Father Knows Best", and later Spock's Mom), Anthony Franciosa, Dennis Weaver, Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, Glenn Ford (he always reminded my wife of her father), Peter Boyle of "Everybody Loves Raymond", who came to prominence in the film Joe, and, of course, the widely loved Steve Irwin, the Croc Hunter, whom I promise not to pick on anymore. And on and on. God rest'em, most of them anyway, especially if they didn't kill anybody or vandalize property.

Some have also been wondering what I've been thinking about various goings-on, so in obedience to huge assumption #2, let's break it down into categories. The first category is: WORLD AFFAIRS

I'm sorry to have to report that I haven't been keeping up very well in that department. So let's mix it in with NATIONAL AFFAIRS and maybe that'll get us started. Well, I haven't been keeping up in that area either, but I do know that Gerald Ford died. I also know that James Brown died, but I don't know which died first because Saddam Hussein had to go and get himself hanged, which kind of crowded out the attention being given to the other two. Death ain't fair, is it? I also know that Hussein appeared a more dignified and sympathetic figure than his killers. I remedied this somewhat by dwelling for a few moments upon his past life, which included the snuffing out by chemicals of several thousand Kurds. I also know that some guy sang a song entitled "Sex Machine" at James Brown's funeral. Yeah, at his funeral. They can sing that one at mine. After all, that's what they do at funerals, dwell upon the past.

I'm further aware that Ethiopia invaded Somalia and put the sharia thugs temporarily out of business, which is what should be happening all over the world, and probably will once we get this War on Terror into proper focus. These things take time. At home the prospect is a bit dimmer. The six imams who shouted Allahu Akbar! in an effort to terrify passengers preparing to board a U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis have inspired the TSA to inflict sensitivity training on its employees, so that they won't be unduly alarmed when they hear fanatical Mohammedans shouting out "the very last human sound on the cockpit voice recorder of United flight 93 before it screamed into the ground at 580 miles per hour... the sound of male voices shouting 'Allahu Akbar' in a moment of religious ecstasy." You can find out about the imams' further behavior, and the reactions of passengers, here (click on the printer-friendly format). The author, Debra Burlingame, is the sister of the pilot who lost his life at the controls of Flight 77. Said Newt Gingrich, "Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists. And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated..." (Newt for President? I'd kind of like to see what toxic chemistry might develop between him and Mizz Pelosi.) Andrew McCarthy, echoing Pogo, says that we have seen the enemy and he is us.

Just to prove it, the first Muslim member of the U.S Congress took the oath of office yesterday by putting his hand to the Koran and swearing to uphold the constitution of a country that takes its values from a rather different book.

As a bulwark against the demon of tolerance, I offer you a beacon of sanity.

Speaking of Nancy Pelosi, she is THE FIRST WOMAN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE. That means she's third in line to assume the presidency should something happen to George and Dick. God save George and Dick. I've been wondering, purely as a matter of political strategy, if Cheney ought to invite her to go hunting...

Well, that's about the extent of my expertise in those areas, so let's move on to the next category: POPULAR CULTURE, or as some gal on Fox called it, the "skankification" of said culture ('culture' seems a bit elevated a word for it), which apparently has been going on for some time beneath my radar. For example, we were informed that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were palling around and skanking up the town and that the paparazzi took photos of Brit getting out of a limo with no underwear on (Britney, not the limo), having forgotten, in her fetching, drunken absentmindedness, to don any, and that the photos were everywhere abroad but I haven't seen any of them swear to God. On another show on Fox (moving on to our next but not completely unrelated category, THE MEDIA), a panel of journalists claimed collective culture shock at the fact that so much of this skankification phenomenon was being given air time. I guess their approach was that the more they talked about it, the less visible it would become. Pessimists all, they predict more and worse in the future. They promise to talk about it then, too.

Actually, I hate politics and entertainment, so let's try something of genuine import, SPORTS, which consists of a single Memo to TSO: Michigan, the team you thought should be in the championship game, sure looked good against USC (whom he now thinks might've should've been in the championship game). Do you mean the same USC that lost to UCLA that lost, in its bowl game, to the worst FSU team to come along in 30 years? I'm sensing some big time Big Ten bias here, and a total disrespect for the Gators. If the Gators win, you will hear more along these lines. If they don't, I'll be going back to delete this so that no record of it remains.
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Perhaps some of you would like to know what I got for Christmas. Of more interest is what I had to give away: a bunch of free paintings to relatives. Elizabeth walked off with two. Bern got one, but today I sent her a cell phone photo of a work in progress and now she wants that one too. The greedy, grasping presumption of women who seem to think they can get anything they want out of you. It's worked so far, and I have no remedy. I have considered producing more than they could possibly want, but I don't think it's possible. Elizabeth also got the biggest prize of all, a new laptop. But she deserves it. She's gone without long enough. She offered many thanks, over and over, but her face was reward enough; genuine gratitude cannot be disguised.

I am not totally bereft of it myself. I'm thankful for good people like TSO and Zippy and Cella and Peony and Ellyn and Elena and Terry and Micki and Christine and most all the folks in my sidebar and others who aren't. Sometimes I rouse myself from the reign of lethargy and say a prayer for Dylan. Other voices have been lost to us for good. Jeff Culbreath has resigned from Hallowed Ground, though it's possible that outside of cyber space he still lives on it, and has deleted his Lumen-Christi collection. I hope people remember how good he was, how distinctive his voice, the kind of man you wished could always be right even when you suspected he was wrong. Francis Mooney disappeared never to return: this page cannot be displayed. Kathy the Carmelite's Gospel Minefield has imploded. She could probably use your prayers too. Most of her comments here were sharp and often funny, but most have also been lost. She was a fighter, and I suspect now she's in the fight of her life.

It all seems so fleeting, and it is. Just remember the bumper sticker I saw on a dumpy little vehicle in traffic the other day: "Don't let the car fool you. My treasure's in heaven."

And that Purgatory's a place of hope, not despair.

Meanwhile I miss my girls and the dog. Fortunately, the main girl still lives here and still puts up with me. She got me a Stay-wet palette for Christmas. She always knows just the thing. I got her a gift certificate for two at Ruth's Chris. She took Elizabeth with her. That girl knows how to work it.


TS said...

Ah yes...speaking of distinctive voices. Not just Culbreath but also you Mr.Luse. And you have the added benefit of being right in pointing out my u-turn on USC ('they suck!' after UCLA; 'they rule!' after the Michigan win). Memory like an elephant yours. Guess we'll just have to see what happens on Monday.

Pelosi is the first WOMAN speaker? I hadn't heard.

Of windows smashed - I'll never forget when I got my car broken into just for the "sin" of having
a black White Sox cap in the back window. I guess black hats were popular back in the '90s and so I lost mine as well as a window. The car was sitting right next to a police station too. Go figure.

The only resolution I've made in the past couple decades was made in '01 or '02, and it was to drink more beer. Not sure if I kept it as I lost track.

Elena said...

Nice year end roundoup Mr. Luse. Sorry about your window.

Britney Spears will remain someone to watch in 07 as well as she struggles with these personal demons. She is the reason I keep my little girl in ballet instead of jazz class, and that I will be pulling her out all together in favor of competitive swimming in a year or two. I think she has a good heart. I think she has a messed up head. I think the same of Anna Nicole Smith. If they could ever get free of their celebrity they might do alright. But I'm not counting on it.

I made TONS of resolutions. I'm hoping to keep a few of them! ; )

Susan said...

Paris and Brittney deserve each other's company. Ugh.

Sorry about the window- a few years ago someone broke into my car during the day (I stupidly left the door unlocked.) Always one to learn a lesson from my wrongdoings, I locked it when I got home from work that night.
I guess they thought that they missed something the first time because at 4am I couldn't sleep and looked out the window to see the dome light on in the car. I walked outside; the door was ajar and there was glass everywhere. I should have left it unlocked because that cost me $150 to fix and it was JANUARY in New York. Not fun driving around with no window in that.

There's nothing you can do except hope that karma will exact revenge if you believe in such a thing. What goes around...

RIP Ed Bradley too.

William Luse said...

I like your resolution, TS. Sounds like one I could actually keep.

Elena, hope you do keep them. As to the Brit-twit, she'd better find that heart pretty fast. I've been led to believe she's the mother of two children.

Muvygirl - looks like a lot of us have suffered broken windows. Happened to my wife and daughter too. I don't believe in karma, except in the sense that there will come a time when we have to answer for all our nastiness. The 'we' includes me. Damn.

William Luse said...

By the way, some will be interested to know that Dylan read the post and sent me an email. He says he's doing well, but not feeling particularly "blogacious". Typical Dylanism. That's why I miss him. He also sends 2007 best wishes to all.

TS said...

It seems I'm more likely to regret the drink not taken than the extra drink taken, although it probably depends on the timing of the question.

Paul Cella said...

Bill, I didn't know you were a painter. I join you in lamenting the loss of Mr. Culbreath's distinctive voice. I'm sure his reasons were eminently good ones, though.

William Luse said...

I'm not sure you can call me a painter. (Although I did a pretty good job on the house a couple years ago.)

Everything about Culbreath was 'eminently good.' 'Is', I mean. He's still out there.

MamaT said...

We love you too, Bill.

I got my side window broken out last year in the hospital parking lot while I was visiting my mother. Let's say it didn't do much for my opinion of humanity. And I try to think of myself as an optimist! It's getting harder as we go along.

2006 is a year I'm well shut of--too much pain and too much sorrow. I'm hoping for wild improvement in 2007. There's that optimist coming out again!

TS said...

Hindsight is 20/20 but now I'm amazed at how lightly I seemed to take the Gators. I mean they only had one loss. And they have a great defense. And I do respect the SEC.

I guess I blame it on too much listening to the experts. I wish we could've played Michigan instead.

William Luse said...

Hope 2007's better for you too, Terry.

Twas funny, TS, to watch the experts explain the Gator victory as though they'd never badmouthed them to begin with. The only one I remember giving them a break was Mark May, who kept pointing out that, although a lot of their victories were skin-of-the-teeth ugly, they always found a way to win.

TS said...

Well one things for sure - there are no OSU fans now referring to them as the "Gay-tors".

William Luse said...

If they were saying that, no wonder the Gators chomped. They were pissed. I like the one about "FSU, where the girls are girls and the boys are too."

Erik Keilholtz said...

Yes, I assure you that last I saw Mr. Culbreath (after midnight mass on Christmas), he was doing quite well. I assume that not much has changed in that direction in the last three weeks.

William Luse said...

Well, that's good to hear.