Lacrosse: Sport of the North American Martyrs

Rugby is a gentleman’s sport played by savages; lacrosse is a savage’s sport played by gentlemen. Don’t ask me where I first heard that formula — it works best as a nugget of bona fide sports folk wisdom, an aphorism too perfect even for Yogi Berra to have coined. Brazenly racist, elitist and sexist — [Read More...]

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Just Kidding!

The humor concocted in parish kitchens can aim surprisingly low. One afternoon in December of 2009, I was hanging around, helping someone do something, when the the subject of upcoming changes to the diocesan marriage prep program arose. As is often the case with Church scuttlebutt, nobody had a very clear idea what was coming, [Read More...]

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Cartoons and the Pious Mind

James Thurber claimed that he first gained a sense of the surreal from hearing the cliches of his neighbors and family in Columbus, Ohio. In the world of his childish mind, men left town under actual clouds, and women existed who were literally all ears. Hearing about Mrs. Huston, who was all cut up when [Read More...]

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Snob in a Sacred Space

I can’t believe I’m saying this openly, but last Sunday, for the first time ever, the Novus Ordo Mass started looking cheesy. My reaction did not reflect any evolution in my liturgical tastes: the previous week, I’d fled a church whose ambience was wound so tightly that I expected the priest and altar servers to [Read More...]

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The Cain Mutiny

The acronym TINA — There Is No Other Alternative — may explain Herman Cain’s recent surge in the polls. As far as the Republican base is concerned, Rick Perry’s mandatory vaccinations and his provision of in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants put him in the same RINO pen with Mitt Romney. Quick — [Read More...]

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The Church, the Dirty War and Taking Bad News

Argentina’s Guerra Sucia, or Dirty War, didn’t get that name by accident. From 1976, when a military junta seized control of the government, until 1983, when the country’s National Reorganization Process held general elections, thousands of citizens — some claim as many as 30,000 — were made to disappear. Argentina’s Commission on the Disappearance of [Read More...]

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Martin Sheen: Broken, Bowed and Happy

Making Apocalypse Now pulled Martin Sheen into the heart of his own personal darkness. His latest project, The Way, the story of a bereaved father making a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, stirs memories of his countermarch back toward the light. If the film turns out to be half as moving as this [Read More...]

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What Price Perfection?

John Belushi and Humphrey Bogart were born too late. On the other hand, if you’re reading this, and haven’t yet died of lung cancer, or from shooting up a speedball, you might be right on time. According to the New York Times, researchers at San Diego’s Scripps Institute are planning work on a vaccine that [Read More...]

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The Renaissance of the Man-Cuddle?

I hadn’t been in Russia twelve hours before some guy kissed me on the neck. Having flown into Sheremeteevo Airport early in the morning, I checked into the hostel where my study group was to be quartered and spent the afternoon sightseeing. Upon returning early that evening, I discovered that — providentially — someone had [Read More...]

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How to End Illegal Immigration

School officials in Alabama are reporting a sudden disappearance of Hispanic students. The Associated Press reports that some parents said they planned to leave the state “to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students’ immigration status.” Like that old joke about 100,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean, this is [Read More...]

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Wanted for Baseball: A Strong Pope

To all appearances, the Boston Red Sox broke their curse once and for all during the 2004 World Series, when they took the Cardinals in four straight games. Now, in view of Boston’s late loss to Baltimore, some are saying that the hoodoo is still very much operational and under warranty. In Slate, Brian Palmer [Read More...]

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Beware the Coach with An Artistic Temperament

High school football just went gothic. After Marcellus High’s junior varsity squad lost a game, head coach Jim Marsh ordered the team bus to stop at a local cemetery. Exactly what happened next is still subject to dispute, but some are claiming Marsh used this visit to the abode of the dead as the backdrop [Read More...]

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Al Qaeda to Iran: Darn Tootin’ We Done It!

Remember that scene in A Few Good Men, where Colonel Jessup, his pride having conquerd his instinct for self-preservation, screams, “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT I ORDERED A CODE RED ON [WHATEVER THAT KID'S NAME WAS]“? Well, it looks like Al-Qaeda has reached that point, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the role of Lieutenant Kaffee. In [Read More...]

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Pretty As A Picture

During my last miserable year of grad school, I found occasion to court the woman who had, in my last year as an undergrad, taught the German class I took as an elective. Though she’d lived most of her life in the Valley, she looked the part of Biergarten waitress, at least judging by how [Read More...]

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Phoenix Goes Dry; I Weep

In a Bill Mauldin cartoon that ran in Stars and Stripes during World War Two, two officers are standing on a peak somewhere in the Apennines or Vosges, gazing at a breathtaking sunset. Turning toward the other, one asks, “Beautiful view! Is there one for enlisted men?” This image, I’m afraid, is exactly what comes [Read More...]

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The Addict Saint

When I taught ESOL in China, the first thing that struck me was the English first names the students had assigned themselves for the purposes of the class. They’d chosen them some years ago, when they first began studying, and were already quite attached to them. I can only assume they were inspired by their [Read More...]

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