Saturday, July 29, 2006


This is actually Quin's mother, Mrs. Finnegan, writing from the basement room of one very lazy internet addict. Quin has been grounded for two weeks and isn't allowed to 'blog' (I hope I'm using this word correctly) until August 12th, and then only when he has shown that he is willing to pull his own weight around here. First he must clean his 'apartment' - there are an awful lot of paper towels and tissues scattered here and there, and I wasn't even aware he had a cold. And Pampers? He must also sweep off the roof, clean the gutters, pick up the garage, and sell the 1982 Camaro that's been up on blocks for the last ten years. My stars and garters! You would think a 40 year old man would show a little more effort in getting on with his life.

Word: A Literary Event

I hear it's going to be great. Harvey Goldner will be reading, among others. And it's free. And there's a bar there. It isn't free, but at least it's there.

Friday, July 28, 2006


St. Lucidius (c. 938) Benedictine hermit. He entered St. Peter’s Monastery in southern Italy but spent his last years as a recluse in Santa Maria del Piano.

St. Lyutis (c.1038) Benedictine hermit of La Cava, Italy. He began as a monk at Monte Cassino.

St. Innocent I Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding Pope St. Anastasius I, on December 22, 401. During Innocent's pontificate, he emphasized papal supremacy, commending the bishops of Africa for referring the decrees of their councils at Carthage and Millevis in 416, condemning Pelagianism, to the Pope for confirmation. It was his confirmation of these decrees that caused Augustine to make a remark that was to echo through the centuries: "Roma locuta, causa finitas" (Rome has spoken, the matter is ended). Earlier Innocent had stressed to Bishop St. Victrius and the Spanish bishops that matters of great importance were to be referred to Rome for settlement. Innocent strongly favored clerical celibacy and fought the unjust removal of St. John Chrysostom. He vainly sought help from Emperor Honorius at Revenna when the Goths under Alaric captured and sacked Rome. Innocent died in Rome on March 12. His feast day is July 28th.

Bl. Anthony della Chiesa Dominican superior and companion of St. Bernardino of Siena. Anthony was born in 1394, the son of the Marquis della Chiesa, in San Germano, Italy. At the age of twenty, despite his family's objections, Anthony became a Dominican, gaining recognition as a preacher and confessor. He accompanied St. Bernardine on missions and served in various capacities in the Dominican monasteries. Anthony was also one of the leaders opposing the last of the antipopes, Felix V While journeying from Savona to Genoa, Italy, Anthony was captured by pirates but was released unharmed. He was a known miracle worker with an ability to read the consciences of men and women.

St. Samson (c. 565) Welsh bishop and evangelizer. Born at Glamorgan, Wales, he became a disciple of St. Illtyd at the monastery of Lianwit (Llantwit) in southern Glamorgan and then lived as a monk (and later abbot) of a community on Caldey Island (Ynys Byr). He was joined there by his uncle, Umbrafel, and his father, Amon. After a trip to Ireland, Samson became a hermit with Amon whom he cured of a mortal illness. During a trip to Cornwall, he was consecrated a bishop and appointed an abbot. He then departed England and went to Brittany where he spent the rest of his life as a missionary, even though he had long searched for solitude. Samson founded monasteries, including one at Dol and another at Pental, in Normandy. He was one of the foremost (if not relatively unknown) evangelizers of his century and has long been venerated with enthusiasm in Wales and Brittany.

St. Nazarius and Celsus Martyrs supposedly beheaded at Milan during the reign of Emperor Nero, although their Acts are considered unreliable. Their relics, however, were discovered in 395 by St. Ambrose of Milan. Nazarius’ blood was still liquid when his remains were found.

St. Peregrinus Priest and hermit. He was probably a priest serving in the area around Lyons. He survived the persecutions under Emperor Septimius Severus by residing as a hermit on an island in the Saone River.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

More from Bernanos

"Sometimes I think of Satan as trying to get hold of the mind of God, and not merely hating it without understanding, but understanding it the wrong way round; thus unknowingly struggling against the current of life, instead of swimming without it; wearing himself out in absurd terrifying attempts to reconstruct in the opposite direction, the whole work of the Creator."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Red Pants of Justice on Some Nightmarish, Gold Plated Treadmill

Mr. Red Pants is back with another quarterly missive in which he takes on Press Junkets, Tim Allen, and the dreary business of mixing the sound for a film after all the shooting and editing is done. He also reveals that before he was RPOJ he was Spiderman. Here's the first paragraph:
It is a well-worn refrain, from the glitterati of the movie business, that press junkets are the worst part of making a film. You know the sort of thing – a gaggle of actors, their faces glazed with the kind of resentful, joyless expression born uniquely of contractual obligation, being interviewed literally hundreds of times over the course of a few hours by journalists from all over the world, asking the same questions, over and over and over again. I once saw an outtake from a press junket for Toy Story, in which Tim Allen blew his top after being asked the same stupid question for, quite possibly, the 300th time that day. It was a priceless moment, but not an entirely unsympathetic one. Junkets are like purgatory for sucessful actors, the penance they must do in order to be invited to all those glitzy parties and award ceremonies. Actors quite simply hate junkets, and they will testify that there is no part of the filmmaking process, from beginning to end, that is less fun and less rewarding.
Man, this guy writes well. I wish I knew his secret identity, or rather the real identity behind the superhero thing. That way I could watch one of his films.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How You Found Quotidian Quintilian VI

Wow! That was fast. Yesterday I posted a few words about Bernanos' novel in the form of a priest's diary, and a day later someone in Malaysia finds it because he or she is looking for something about a 'life diary'. Not sure if they found what they're looking for, but they could certainly do worse than to check out that book. And I've heard they could use a few priests down there in Malaysia. Even a fictional one.

Franz Sez

"Human nature, essentially changeable, as unstable as the dust, can endure no restraint; if it binds itself it soon begins to tear madly at its bonds, until it rends everything asunder, the wall, the bonds, and its very self." ~ The Great Wall of China

Monday, July 24, 2006

Diary of a Country Priest

Having listed Bernanos on that infamous list over at Korrektiv a couple of weeks ago, I decided to reread this most Roman Catholic of novels. Interestingly enough, I'm finding that the point-of-view, with its necessarily interiorized monologue, makes it more difficult to follow daily events than I remember. In fact it hardly resembles a diary at all - there are no dates, for example - and references to life in the world of Abrimcourt are swept into a narrative that is hard to imagine anywhere outside a novel. For example, the novel begins with the sentence, "Mine is a parish like all the rest," and then in the next paragraph gets Right Down To It:
My parish is bored stiff; no other word for it. Like so many others! We can see them being eaten up by boredom, and we can't do anything about it! Some day perhaps we will catch it ourselves - become aware of the cancerous growth within us. You can keep going a long time with that in you.
That paragraph is essentially novelistic for a number of reasons, but aside from its augury of things to come and the time required to simply take it all in, it occurs within the sweep of a narrative that combines material descriptions of character, place and weather with abstracted judgements about good and evil, the nature of boredom, and the transparancy of hidden emotions in the eyes of a very minor character. That's on the first page. It's certainly well composed, but it's also hard to imagine an actual priest taking the kind of time required to put something like this together. Of course he's a bit of a saint, our priest, so perhaps anything is possible. But it doesn't look like any diary I 've ever seen. It certainly doesn't look like my diary. And looking at it as the work of a saint (as someone says on the back cover) puts it somewhat at odds with the ordinary province of the novel. But maybe this is the fault of novelists. The good novel enlarges our understanding of what it means to be human, and shouldn't the lives of saints do much the same?

Stranger still is the fact that it isn't "saintliness" that attracts us - by which I mean me - to this character. What I find so compelling are observations such as this:
I have been looking over these first few pages of my diary without any satisfaction, and yet I considered very carefully before making up my mind to write it. But that is not much comfort to me now. For those who have the habit of prayer, thought is too often a mere alibi, a sly way of deciding what one wants to do. Reason will always obscure what we wish to keep in the shadows. A wordling can think out the pros and cons and sum up his chances. No doubt. But what are our chances worth? We who have admitted once and for all into each moment of our puny lives the terrifying presence of God. Unless a priest happens to lose his faith - and then what has he left, for he cannot lose his faith without denying himself? He will never learn to 'look out for number one' with the alert common sense - nay, with the candour and innocence of children of this world. What is the use of working out chances? There are no chances against God.
Very plainly laid out here is the most comon way we keep ourselves from God - i.e., from becoming holy. There is a lot of confession here as well, without it seeming the least bit 'confessional'. He's certainly someone we'd expect to have the habit of prayer; what does this tell us about his motives for keeping the diary? He's also a 'wordling', so how good is he at weighing out the pros and cons? And who exactly does he point to with that "our"? How has he come to understand that 'there are no chances against God'? That inevitability of returning to God becomes even more clear as the story develops and we learn how difficult it is for this diary keeper to keep praying. He doesn't write in order to make himself out as a 'saint'. It is true, though; he does lead an extraordinary life, and however improbable the form of this story, it's an extraordinary novel.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Simple Twist of Fate

Here's a nice version of the Blood on the Tracks classic, with Scarlet Rivera playing violin Desire style.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Friday, July 21, 2006


St. John & Benignus
Twin Benedictine monks of Moyenmoutier. They were trained by St. Hiduiphus.

St. Victor
According to legend, Victor was a soldier in the Roman army at Marseilles when he was hailed before the prefects, Asterius and Eutychius, who sent him to Emperor Maximian for his exhortations to Christians to be firm in their faith in the face of an impending visit by the Emperor. He was dragged through the streets, racked, imprisoned (he converted three guards, Alexander, Felician, and Longinus while in prison). He was again tortured after the guards were beheaded when it was discovered he had converted them to Christianity. When he refused to offer incense to Jupiter, he was crushed in a millstone and beheaded. His tomb became one of the most popular pilgrimage centers in Gaul.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi
Caesare de Rossi was born at Brandisi, kingdom of Naples, on July 22nd. He was educated by the conventual Franciscans there and by his uncle at St. Mark's in Venice. When sixteen, he joined the Capuchins at Verona, taking the name Lawrence. He pursued his higher studies in theology, philosophy, the bible, Greek, Hebrew, and several other languages at the University of Padua. He was ordained and began to preach with great effect in Northern Italy. He became definitor general of his Order in Rome in 1596, a position he was to hold five times, was assigned to conversion work with Jews, and was sent to Germany, with Blessed Benedict of Urbino, to combat Lutheranism. They founded friaries at Prague, Vienna, and Gorizia, which were to develop into the provinces of Bohemia, Austria, and Styria. At the request of Emperor Rudolf II, Lawrence helped raise an army among the German rulers to fight against the Turks, who were threatening to conquer all of Hungary, became its chaplain, and was among the leaders in the Battle of Szekesfehevar in 1601; many attributed the ensuing victory to him. In 1602, he was elected Vicar General of the Capuchins but refused re-election in 1605. He was sent to Spain by the emperor to persuade Philip III to join the Catholic League, and while there, founded a Capuchin house in Madrid. He was then sent as papal nuncio to the court of Maximillian of Bavaria, served as peacemaker in several royal disputes, and in 1618, retired from worldly affairs to the friary at Caserta. He was recalled at the request of the rulers of Naples to go to Spain to intercede with King Philip for them against the Duke of Osuna, Spanish envoy to naples and convinced the King to recall the Duke to avert an uprising. The trip in the sweltering heat of summer exhausted him, and he died a few days after his meeting with the King at Lisbon on July 22nd. Lawrence wrote a commentary on Genesis and several treatises against Luther, but Lawrence's main writings are in the nine volumes of his sermons. He was canonized in 1881 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.

St. Arbogast
Archbishop and friend of King Dagobert II of the Frankish realm of Austrasia. Arbogast, originally called Arascach, was born in Aquitaine, France, and lived as a hermit in the German forest. He then moved to Alsace, becoming a friend of Dagobert II, who had been protected by the High King of Ireland and now occupied the throne of his former enemy, Childeric II. He appointed Arbogast archbishop of Strasbourg. Arbogast is reported as having raised up the son of the king after the child was killed in an accident. When Arbogast was dying in 678, he requested burial in the cemetery used for criminals. His grave was so popular that a church was erected on the site.

St. Julia of Troyes
Martyr of Troyes, France. Taken captive by the Romans, she was given to Claudius, a soldier. Julia converted him to Christ, and they were beheaded as martyrs in 272.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Fox and the Hedgehog Rerevisited

What if among all those things the fox knows is the one thing the hedgehog knows? What if the one thing the hedgehog knows is the sum of everything the fox knows?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Fox and the Hedgehog Revisited

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. ~ Archilochus

What if everything the fox thought he knew was wrong? What if the one thing the hedgehog knew was that he didn't know what he thought he knew?

Art Theil on the Oklahoma SuperSonics

"Flawed ownership. Flawed building. Flawed industry. Alert to basketball fans in Oklahoma City: As of Tuesday, your arena is already on the fast track to becoming a crap can, your owner is a wild-eyed venture capitalist and your team next year will pay maybe $50 million to a pimply teenager who doesn't know a drop step from a drop kick.

At least it's not the Dust Bowl. But the taste is recognizable."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Franz Sez

Writers speak a stench. ~ Diaries, 1910

Monday, July 17, 2006

Be a Pollock

Sunday, July 16, 2006

14 Days

without a blank post. Some might say this was cheating.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

La Mala Educación

Over at Korrketiv I have some good things to say about Bad Education. I watched the DVD version of Pedro Almodóvar's paean to Hitchcock and film noir this weekend, and while it is certainly one of the more well crafted movies I've seen in a while, it's also one of the most virulently anti-Catholic. The story has as its villain a priest in charge of an all boy's school in the Francofried Spain of the 1960's. If that adjective seems cumbersome, it's also important: the way political, moral and artistic power is used or abused is important to every character and plot development in the story. And it is a very good story.

Friday, July 14, 2006


St. William of Breteuil
(c. 1130) Benedictine abbot of Breteuil, neai Beauvais, France. He rebuilt the monastery after it had been nearly destroyed by the Normans.

St. Libert
(c. 783) Benedictine martyr, educated by St. Rumoldus. Libert was put to death by raiders at Saint-Trond Abbey, France.

St. Phocas
Martyred bishop of Sinope, a diocese on the Black Sea. He was martyred during the reign of Emperor Trajan.

Bl. Richard Langhorne
English martyr. Born in Bedfordshire, he was educated at the Inner Temple and worked as a lawyer. He was arrested in 1667, released in 1679, then arrested again as a conspirator in the so-called “Popish Plot.” He was hanged at Tybum on July 14. Richard was beatified in 1929.

St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountian
Monk and writer. Born in Naxos, Greece, he entered the monastery of Athos in 1775 and worked with St. Macanus Nataras of Corinth to compile the Philokalia, a massive compendium of monastic life and spirituality. Nicodemus also made translations of Western spiritual writings. He was canonized by the Orthodox Greek Church in 1955.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle. Kateri became converted as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it. Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified. She died on April 7, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the "Lily of the Mohawks". Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980. Work is currently underway to have her Canonized by the Church. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today.

Bl. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Blessed. Her feastday is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.


Thursday, July 13, 2006


How many can you kill?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Edith's Diary

by Patricia Highsmith is the last book I've finished reading. Highsmith is the author of the Ripley (as in The Talented Mr.) series, and many think this is one of her very best. Although there may or may not be a murder committed in the course of events (in this way it is perhaps a very contemporary story), the novel doesn’t concern plotting or intrigue so much as it chronicles the decline of a suburban housewife over the course of two decades in a Pennsylvania town. Edith and Brett Howland have one son, Cliffie, and a cat, Mildew. Staying with them is an increasingly infirm uncle of Brett’s named George, and they receive occasional visits from a beloved Aunt Melanie. Brett is a newspaperman, and Edith is a politically conscious writer of articles with a distinctly leftist bent. They tend to drink a lot, whether alone with each other or with friends and neighbors like the Zylstra’s, the Johnson’s, and the Quickman’s.

Things go from bad to worse in the Howland household in fairly routine way: the marriage goes bad and Cliffie grows out of being problem child by becoming a troubled teen and then the town drunk. Through it all Edith keeps a diary. She’s a survivor, and the diary seems to help her fill that roll. Unfortunately she begins to write about Cliffie in a way that he very much isn’t, and perhaps because of this begins to feel herself ‘slipping.’ Later she describes her condition as ‘cracked.’ Or Highsmith will, and this permeates much of the novel in such a way that I was always waiting for something to crack it all wide open. I won’t give away more than that, but I will say that the strength of the novel lies in the more finely drawn characters: Edith, Brett and Cliffie in particular, but most everybody else as well.

Some scenes struck me as difficult, if not impossible to imagine taking place in real life. Brett bringing his girlfriend home to meet Edith, and a few other episodes between the three of them. Other scenes seemed to recur with monotonous regularity; how many times did neighbors actually come over for drinks? I wish I’d kept count. Perhaps this was part of the author’s plan: to really impress upon the reader a sense of oppressive monotony. At times this worked rather too well.

Highsmith also seems to enjoy striking the unseemly note from time to time.
Mechanically, Edith began folding sweaters, closing drawers, then she made the bed. Beside the bed, one damp sock. Did Cliffie have sweaty feet? Nerves? Was that why he washed his own socks so often? He’d squirm if she asked, Edith thought, so maybe it was better not to ask. She put away slightly muddy tennis shoes, gathered from among the shoes on the floor of his closet five or six more socks, obviously dirty, some even stiff.

The diary doesn’t appear as much as I’d expected from the title, but it does raise the interesting questions that diaries generally do. As I've asked before in another context, Is one’s closest relationship always with one’s self, or can it be the most distant? How does one maintain honesty in a diary? What about those things that are left out? Have they been left out for reasons that are self-serving, or to protect others? Who, in fact, does one keep a diary for? If for one’s self, does the diary actually reflect this intention? If for others, when is it best to disclose this intention? For posterity? For posterity it might be better to write novels; which is perhaps why Highsmith, a keeper of diaries herself, has given us Edith’s Diary.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

“Tuydon Bropdon”

was the name of the gelato we were searching for on the Peloponnesus. Night had fallen and we were running down an alley to find the shop before it closed. No, not Greece: Italy. Gelato comes from Italy. With berries so sweet they had to have been grown in fields tilled by the Devil himself. Wait a sec. The Devil can’t grow anything, much less till a field. Doesn’t like blisters. And berries like these grow on brambles with thorns. Those thorns can make a person can bleed. Which the Devil would like, I think. In front of a mirror, admiring his horns. Oh, I’m sick of the Devil! I don’t want to think about him any more! I won’t! I won’t! I won’t!

Once we came out of the alleyway there was daylight, and plenty of it. Actually, there wasn’t any alley. Just a lot of burnt grass, and maybe some plain trees in the distance. Perhaps not so flat as I now remember. And you weren’t even there, come to think of it. All of a sudden I was shoved in the back of a delivery truck. The roller door was so loud, and then it all went black (sound of whistling, cab door closing, sound of ignition, and soon a rocking motion moving very slowly over twin ruts going deep into the heart of nowhere, gentle as the swaying hips of that old whore in Budapest). Man, that sun was friggin' hot. Darkness was a salve.

No, it wasn’t Uganda either. Or Hungary. And it was definitely something more than imaginary, or somewhere. That leaves Oregon, in the woods off I-205 where cool waters flow along the circadian banks of the Columbia river. 'Arcadian' is what I mean, but I like the way 'circadian' fits as well. French explorers named it Ouragan, "the river of storms," although columba, as you probably know, is the Latin word for ‘dove’, inferring peace. Anyway, those berries are good. You should get some. The ice cream, I mean, or gelato, or whatever it is; I understand it’s quite popular now, and available at any Baskin and Robbins. Because. At the end of the day, when push comes to shove and all is said and done in the final analysis, everything comes from God. Everything.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Der Neunte Tag

Over at Korrektiv I have a few words to say about Volker Schlöndorff's follow up to The Handmaid's Tale.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

At Sea

Saturday, July 08, 2006

How You Found Quotidian Quintilian V

This lucky soul was apparently in search of Nabokov's story Ultima Thule, in my opinion one of his best. It's from an unfinished novel that I think was called Solus Rex. It was written in Russian after he finished The Gift, his last novel in that language. What strikes me is its similarity to Pale Fire, which he wrote some 20 years later.

Read the story here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz

Not much is known of the early life of Emmanuel Ruiz, but details of his heroic death in defense of the faith have come down to us. Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time. Among these were Emmanuel, superior of the Franciscan convent, seven other friars and three laymen. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their faith and become Muslims. The men were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom. Emmanuel, his brother Franciscans and the three Maronite laymen were beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI. ~


Thursday, July 06, 2006

On this day in history

Sir Thomas More was beheaded for defending the papacy. Read all about it at here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy 5th!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

لا شيء