Some people know they're on vacation when they're spread out on a poolside lounger drinking a pineapple cocktail. I know I'm on vacation when I'm huddled behind some bushes, hiding from my kids, so I can smoke a cigarette in the middle of the day. I like to smoke on vacation because it's the only thing that really distinguishes a vacation from any other day of breaking up fights and wiping bottoms, albeit in a different location. - Betty Duffy
One sometimes speaks of the proper time in life to read certain writers: no Hemingway after twenty, no Proust before forty, that sort of thing. Less attention is given to the best time of day to read a writer. The literarily omnivorous Edmund Wilson said he was unable to read the Marquis de Sade at breakfast. (I shouldn’t think he would go down too smoothly at bedtime, either.) Off and on in recent years, I have found myself reading George Santayana—the eight volumes of his letters, his three volumes of autobiography, his essays, and his one novel, The Last Puritan—directly upon arising in the morning....Not only did the happy anticipation of returning to him serve as a reward for getting out of bed, but Santayana’s detachment, a detachment leading onto serenity, invariably had a calming effect. Reading him in the early morning made the world feel somehow more understandable, even its multiple mysteries, if not penetrable, taking on a tincture of poetry that made the darkest of them seem less menacing. - Joseph Epstein on Santayana via Patrick Kurp via Bill White
[Rita] Dove has the supreme confidence that comes to most people only after a night of binge drinking, when they clamber up on a bar and launch into “Danny Boy.” - Logan's review in "The New Criterion" on Dove's poetry
The tattoos you see on female ankles today started among strippers. The earrings you see on men started among homosexuals cruising the bars. The baggy pants on boys started among prison inmates. So, whereas culture used to flow from the top down, modern culture flows from the bottom up. Trends that had their origins in the sewer end up becoming mainstream. - Jeff of Stoney Creek Digest
The best Catholic authors seem to say, "Yes, God is present, but you will have to find your own way to him." They can give you hints, weave a little story that enigmatically points to God, a lamb in wolf's clothing, but stop short of saying, "I'll take you to him." Leave that job for the clergy. It's what they're trained to do. There have been bold and holy people in my life who said in the bluntest most unveiled ways, "I will lead you to God." But I was also ready to be led. I was asking for it. Begging for it. The most effective Catholic literature when I did not yet know that God was what I needed, did nothing more than suggest that there is an alternative. - Betty Duffy
Cooking is an art, and defending it in utilitarian terms shocks my conscience as much as defending Mozart because it makes your baby have a higher IQ. - Eve Tushnet
Twentieth century American men and women have never been especially puritanical, but before the 1960s, they could be broadly described as being in possession of a bourgeois modesty that the porn industry and Hollywood labored tirelessly--and successfully--to subvert. - "Diogenes", via Terrence Berres
Faith alone triumphs, and faith is hard, dark, stark. To place oneself before what seems to be bread and to say, 'Christ is there, living and true,' is pure faith. But nothing is more nourishing than pure faith, and prayer in faith is real prayer. "There's no pleasure in adoring the Eucharist," one novice used to say to me. But it is precisely this renunciation of all desire to satisfy the senses that makes prayer strong and real. One meets God beyond the senses, beyond the imagination, beyond nature. This is crucial : as long as we pray only when and how we want to, our life of prayer is bound to be unreal. It will run in fits and starts. The slightest upset -- even a toothache -- will be enough to destroy the whole edifice of our prayer-life. - Carlo Carretto (1910-88) from Dylan of "dark speech upon the harp"