January 07, 2015

Of Dogdom & Bams

So went to a local restaurant overlooking the city and river. The river was shockingly low as a result of dams being removed. "It's a much healthier river," said the waitress, but not quite as scenic I thought.  A spiritual metaphor, perhaps.

Afterward we headed to theatre for Unbroken, the big bestseller about a guy surviving WWII.  The movie nearly broke me vicariously

I had low expectations, figuring it would be depressing, and it's always a plus to have low expectations going in. First, though, there were gobs of advertisements for coming attractions with Mom humorously panning each one loudly.

The movie was sort of like The Passion of the Christ meets Chariots of Fire. There were long - torturously long - scenes of torture. Forty-eight days lost at sea. Japanese prison camp. Solitary confinement. Working to exhaustion hauling coal. Mentally abused by sadistic guard with hinted-at homosexual tendencies.  (SPOILER alert full steam ahead!)

The beginning was like a different movie altogether - boy delinquent finds running as an outlet and ends up as high school runner in 1936 Olympic Games, finishing first.

Later his "toughest battle" was severe PTSD; he tried booze and psychiatrists to get over his thirst for revenge but eventually, via Billy Graham, found Christ and ended up going back to Japan and forgiving his captors. (The sadistic guard would not meet with him.)

From Cincy Enquirer Paul Daugherty's blog:
"We saw Unbroken. It was slightly better than OK. No match for the book, which was meticulous, compelling and fabulous. Not sure how I could watch this tale of abject heroism and not feel especially moved. But that's what happened."
Oh the perils of reading the book before seeing the movie. No such issue for me.


Christmas always seems very shortlived despite the billing of twelve days, or even more given the liturgical season. To me it feels like even the Church has seemingly moved on what with the Sts Stephen and John days and Holy Family feast. Of course you can't just have the Christmas reading every day.


Feels magical to have this transportive Kindle, a screen that takes me to places I want to go - like the life of Heather King, the deck of the Pequad, the novel All the Light We Cannot See, Scott Hahn's new book on the birth of Christ.

I also relished the mood-altering drug of the OSU victory against Alabama. And nice to have the national championship game to look forward to, although this game felt like a national championship given who we beat (number 1 team). Even the name - “Bama” - feels powerful and forbidding, the first syllable being the aggressive “bam”. Their program has the scent of college football divinity about it.

Their crowds occasionally look a bit dorky. Kind of white and bourgeois; the guys sometimes dressed in blazers -- they look like they all belong to an old school '50s-era fraternity. I think how fascinating it would've been to have gone to a truly Southern college, like Ole Miss or Alabama. Whatever regional differences remain would likely linger there. Perhaps poverty is the only guarantor of difference, because the newly wealthy south attracts so many outsiders, diluters if you will. Pockets of real regional difference probably center in Appalachia and the Indian reservations of the West, at least the ones without casinos.


Death, taxes and Sunday babysitting. The three things beside the theological virtues that endure. Vegas won't even take odds on them because everybody dies, pays taxes, and we, at least, babysit on Sundays.

But it's a-okay because it's nothing God and beer won't bring me thru. At least I have the right order there.

Steph took one boy to the animal shelter for potential dog adoptions. She said that he was a good test case, to see if the dog would get along with him (and thus kids) and I couldn't disagree. So I held down the fort with a Will-a-thon, listening to Five Little Monkeys endlessly. Second circle of Hell they play that song repeatedly by the way.  Later I peeled off for a well-earned 30 minute run. Running never tasted so good.

One thing is self-evident: Steph without a dog is like Columbus without the Buckeyes, New York without the swagger, Texas sans pride, policemen without Dunkin' Donuts, me without vacations. It simply does not compute.

The first option Steph presented me with was two 12-week pups, a brother and a sister located about an hour away. Both golden retrievers, so that was right, but both way too young and one too many. This was the very definition of a non-starter, and I dismissed it immediately. Words cannot express my distaste at the thought of having not one but two puppies, and thus facing a two-year slog of double-trouble in the form of chewed artifacts and semi-destroyed furniture. A worse idea can scarcely exist.

Wasted a couple hours watching the ever dubious Bengals drop yet another playoff game. “One and done” should replace the “Who dey” motto. “Who dey” being whomever they play in the playoffs.


Read more about that perennially interesting foreign country: Detroit, Michigan from the book Devil's Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit. This chapter on churches leaves you just gaping in astonishment that such color can exist in these semi-homogenized United States. Honestly it reads like fiction. A Sunday night service the author attended had no less than four collections, one unabashedly announced as going towards a Mercedes Benz for the pastor. You simply can't make that up. At one point, the pastor cuts his white robe into squares and sells them for $5 a piece. Again, that seems fictional. An excerpt:
Boyd’s church is more elaborate than most, but it is still a modest edifice for a man who claims to be in direct, personal touch with God: blond wood pews, a small altar and walls decorated with neon signs—DIVINE GOD and 7 (God’s perfect number)—that look like beer advertisements. Adjacent to it is the House of Holiness, a combination sacristy, meditation facility and boutique where Boyd meets with congregants. When I went to see him on a Saturday afternoon, there was a long line of people ahead of me. As I waited I browsed through the merchandise in his store, which runs to the exotic. Holy hyssop bath oil ($5.00), hyssop floor wash, Voodoo dolls ($3.25), Jinx Remover, Triple Strength Cast-Off Evil Incense, Holy Vision Bath Oil ($5.25), High John the Conquerer Soap (“It conquers all evil forces”), and cards inscribed with the Reverend Boyd’s revelations (sample: “I am, I am in perfect harmony with the law of prosperity”) for $2.50.
Now tell me that doesn't make for riveting reading. Boyd also sells winning lottery numbers, or at least predicted winning lottery numbers. Your mileage may vary.


So the search continues. Two strikeouts on the golden retriever rescues we wanted. Impatience isn't conducive to acquiring the crown prince of dogdom. There's a reason they call them “golden”.

I left messages at both shelters (one near Cleveland, the other here) and was collins'd (i.e. from Phil Collins, as in the song "no reply at all"). I called both back around 3 and lo and behold both dogs were on hold already. One golden retriever rescue service requires a "home visit", a blood-signed vetting from your veterianian and an oath to become vegan. You really can't make it up. The continuing humanization of canines continues apace.

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