W.H. Auden on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Friday’s Child

(In memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred at Flossenbürg, April 9, 1945)

He told us we were free to choose
But, children as we were, we thought—
“Paternal Love will only use
Force in the last resort

On those too bumptious to repent.”
Accustomed to religious dread,
It never crossed our minds He meant
Exactly what He said.

Perhaps He frowns, perhaps He grieves,
But it seems idle to discuss
If anger or compassion leaves
The bigger bangs to us.

What reverence is rightly paid
To a Divinity so odd
He lets the Adam whom He made
Perform the Acts of God?

It might be jolly if we felt
Awe at this Universal Man
(When kings were local, people knelt);
Some try to, but who can?

The self-observed observing Mind
We meet when we observe at all
Is not alarming or unkind
But utterly banal.

Though instruments at Its command
Make wish and counterwish come true,
It clearly cannot understand
What It can clearly do.

Since the analogies are rot
Our senses based belief upon,
We have no means of learning what
Is really going on,

And must put up with having learned
All proofs or disproofs that we tender
Of His existence are returned
Unopened to the sender.

Now, did He really break the seal
And rise again? We dare not say;
But conscious unbelievers feel
Quite sure of Judgement Day.

Meanwhile, a silence on the cross,
As dead as we shall ever be,
Speaks of some total gain or loss,
And you and I are free

To guess from the insulted face
Just what Appearances He saves
By suffering in a public place
A death reserved for slaves.


I am under Jack Attack! NOBODY SAVE ME.

I was perfectly happy with the return of “24” to television  — I’d give the Season 9 premiere, “24: Live Another Day,” a 9 out of 10.  It delivered.  We’re a long way from the problematic Season 6, here  — everything that once made the show so great is back in evidence.  There’s fast pacing, intertwining personal, political and techno-thriller plotlines, and cool, compelling characters despite a large cast.

We’ve got immediate tension and a nice mystery served right up front, and having our heroes cast as antagonists is a great game changer that keeps things fresh.

Kiefer Sutherland and William Devane are as perfect as always, even if Devane’s face will always remind me of his role in “Marathon Man” (1976).  His acting is perfect, and the interplay among him, Audrey and Mark was unexpectedly touching.

Dear Lord.  Look at the expression on Bauer’s face when Chick-Jack (Kate Morgan) pulls her gun on him.  He’s the closest thing to the goddam Batman outside of the DC Comics universe.  I’m pretty sure that he alone could take on all of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  But I don’t want to start a nerd turf war, because I remember that time I criticized Doctor Who, and those Whovians threatened to come to my house.  (Turns out his fanbase is a lot tougher than he is.)

Speaking of Kate Morgan, the character here actually has nothing to do with Kate Warner from Season 2 — the confusion connected with the similar names is compounded by the fact that the actresses have a close resemblance.

And, of course, there was a hilarious bit of fan service with a “dammit” at a perfectly opportune time.



Spy vs. Spy (DAMMIT!)

Remember that friend in the intelligence community who I turned on to “24?”  He’s hooked.  He did at least half of Season 1 yesterday.

Spy Guy via text: “this wasn’t the right show to watch when I have things to do!!”

But it got funner when he “dammitted” me: “DAMMIT DUDE I NEED TO TURN THIS OFF.”  (Because spies have an abhorrence for commas.)

Wouldn’t it be funny if an intelligence professional were late for work because he stayed up watching “24?”  I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of irony.



A … curious new trend on the Internet has been brought to my attention by Len Ornstein, and has been the source of some bemusement for a few Mary Washington College alumnae.  Evidently, people are scanning and uploading yearbooks to the net?  As I understand it, this is being done not by graduates or those depicted, but … just by random people who enjoy uploading yearbooks?

This strikes me as a totally random and bizarrely specific technology-related hobby.  Then I remember arguing in the imdb.com chatrooms with 15-year-olds in Britain about the cultural implications of Wesley Snipes’ “Blade.”  (The implications are more divisive than you might expect.  That Brit Kid called me a “bellend.”  Then everyone laughed at me on Facebook when I posted to ask what the term meant.)

At any rate, allow this to fuel your paranoia, as it has mine.  Photos of you that were taken 20 years ago are now available via keyword search.  Len, a schoolteacher in Arizona, had his mug brought to his attention by his students.

And if you suffer from the same apparent mutation that I do, pay attention to your mysteriously expanding head.

Exhibit A:  Look at the first picture below, which is a page from the 1994 (?) Mary Washington College yearbook.  Look at me in the top left corner. (Yes, I majored in psychology, and, no, the irony is not lost on me.)  My head is small — and I mean TINY.  I don’t think that this was a trick photography gag employed by the yearbook club, because Photoshop kind of wasn’t a thing yet.  (My passing resemblance to Danger Mouse here is also a separate matter entirely.)

Exhibit B:  Look at the second picture below, which was taken quite recently.  My forehead is HUGE.  I don’t have a receding hairline.  I DON’T.  But yet I cannot explain why my forehead appears to be growing at a geometric rate.  Seriously, look at it.  I should rent out space on that thing.  It would go a long way toward supporting my poetry.  This might be why Pete Buccellato (also the Class of 1994) has opined repeatedly that I look like “Guy Smiley” from Sesame Street.

I know that one of Green Lantern’s nemeses (Herman something …?) has a giant mutated cranium, but that developed with super-intelligence and telepathic abilities, neither of which I’ve seen evidence of in my life just yet.  I keep telling myself that Morrisey also has a large forehead, and I’m pretty sure he gets all the girls, even if he blew it that time with Tori Amos.

Whatever.  You can take your mind off your troubles by noting the affable face of a one Mr. Mike Merritt at the bottom right, with whom I am thankfully still friends.  That smile informs us once again that he was a sublimely well adjusted kid.  It was great knowing Mike back at school.  I still remember encountering him on Campus Walk around The Fountain after partying in New Hall.  If I was a bit deep in my cups, I would accost him with my endlessly repeated pun for his name: “Merritt Baaaaaaaaaadge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”   The law of diminishing returns apparently worked backward in my 20-year-old mind, because the joke just got funnier every time I hollered it.

In fact, if you are an alum in Virginia and you have occasion to see Mike, would you please yell it at him for me?  That’d be just great.




I persuaded a spy to watch “24.”

Seriously.  Dude has a full-time job in the intelligence community, and he’d never seen a single episode of the program.

So the joke always fell flat when I would call him on the phone and scream, “THERE’S NO TIME, JACK!!!!!!”

Last night he did a Season 1 marathon.  And all because a chain-smoking liberal poet told him to.



Another edition of “What I Am Reading”

Head on over to see what 4-LAN the Robot has to say about “Thimblerig’s Ark,” by Nate Fleming.

A groundhog protagonist?  Packs of wild dogs?  The Great Flood?  This book actually does sound like a hell of a lot of fun!




Nurse Your Favorite Heresies in Whispers

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