Saturday, April 30, 2022

Quote of the Day (Fanny Howe, on a Bus in Ireland)

“On the last bus from Dublin to Limerick
Raindrops pelted the landscape
And held little photos
Of aluminum crutches in each drop
Rolling down the glass.”—American poet, novelist, and short-storywriter Fanny Howe, “2011,” in Love and I (2019)
The image accompanying this post was taken of Fanny Howe in 2008.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Movie Quote of the Day (‘Paper Moon,’ as a Con Man Gets More Than He Bargained For)

The recently orphaned eight-year-old Addie Loggins has just overheard traveling con man Moses Pray, who had recently shown up at her mom’s graveside service, bilk a third party out of $200 meant for her. Instead of driving Addie to her aunt in Missouri, as he had promised her relatives, “Moze” plans to use the money to fix his car while putting Addie on a train alone with just her ticket. As they sit in a café later, Addie has something else in mind.]

Addie Loggins [played by Tatum O’Neal]: “I want my two hundred dollars.”
Moses Pray [played by Ryan O’Neal]: “I don't have your two hundred dollars no more and you know it.”
Addie: “If you don't give me my two hundred dollars, I'm gonna tell a policeman how you got it and he'll make you give it to me because it's mine.”
Moses: “But I don't have it!”
Addie: “Then get it!”
Cafe Waitress [played by Jody Wilbur]: [walks over solicitously after Moses slams his fist on the table] “How we doin', Angel Pie? We gonna have a little dessert when we finish up our hot dog?”
Addie [sullenly]: “I don't know.”
Waitress [to Moses]: “What do you say, Daddy? Why don't we give Precious a little dessert if she eats her dog?”
Moses [annoyed]: “Her name ain't Precious!”— Paper Moon (1973), screenplay by Alvin Sargent, adapted from the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown, directed by Peter Bogdanovich
I’m not sure why, but I not only never saw this movie when it came out, but managed to bypass it in all the years since—until last week, when I caught it as part of TCM’s tribute to the late Peter Bogdanovich.
I’m glad I waited, as I was finally able to appreciate this droll black-and-white road comedy set in the Great Depression. The sub-teen Tatum O’Neal won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this—only, Bogdanovich insisted later, because Hollywood would never award Best Actress to someone so young.
Ryan O’Neal, the story goes, was so annoyed that his daughter was nominated while he wasn’t that he refused to accompany her to the ceremony. That set the stage for decades of turbulence between the two.

(Not that there hadn’t been tension between them already on the set: In interview excerpts included in the blog, Cinephilia and Beyond, Bogdanovich related, “I had to keep Ryan from killing her” over the child’s inability to learn her lines.)

No matter. The people who give us classic film comedies are often terribly complicated people who, in spite of themselves, give us a few hours of laughter and light that they don’t experience. Cherish their gifts to us, anyway.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Quote of the Day (Anatole France, on Accomplishing Great Things)

“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” —French novelist and Nobel laureate Anatole France (1844-1924), introductory speech at a session of the Académie Française, December 24, 1896, in Works of Anatole France (2008)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Quote of the Day (Babe Ruth, on Baseball, ‘The Only Real Game in the World’)

“The only real game in the world, I think, is baseball.”—Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth (1895-1948), speech to the crowd at Yankee Stadium on “Babe Ruth Day,” April 27, 1947

Seventy-five years ago today, for only the second time in history, all clubs in major-league baseball honored a single individual: Babe Ruth. The event was deeply poignant, because the mighty slugger had come down with cancer.

The center of activity that day was, appropriately enough, Yankee Stadium. Though The Babe had left the Bronx Bombers with his managerial ambitions unfulfilled, the stadium remained indisputably “The House That Ruth Built,” the site of his major feats as an everyday player.

Babe Ruth Day” would not be the last time Ruth would visit the stadium—he’d be back a little over a year later, when his number was retired—but many of the more than 58,000 in attendance in April 1947 sensed that the end was drawing near for their hero, as the once-powerful hitter was helped to home plate.

If there was any doubt about his condition, Ruth removed it quickly. It remains shocking, if you click on the above link, to hear him rasping, “You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad.”

But then, Ruth started speaking about the two things that had brought out the best in him as a player: youth and the game of baseball.

A classic at-risk youngster, Ruth credited his life being turned around after he’d been taught the fundamentals of baseball by Brother Matthias of St. Mary’s Industrial Training School, a Baltimore educational institution primarily for boys with behavioral issues. "If it wasn't for baseball,” he once said, “I'd be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery."

And now, Ruth told the crowd—and the lords of baseball—the right way and time to instruct youngsters in the game:

“As a rule, people think that if you give boys a football or a baseball or something like that, they naturally become athletes right away. But you can't do that in baseball. You got to start from way down, at the bottom, when the boys are six or seven years of age. You can't wait until they're 14 or 15. You got to let it grow up with you, if you're the boy.”

Over time, I’m afraid, baseball has forgotten the lesson that The Babe was trying to teach that day. There are so many other sports today competing for attention. How can young fans become attached to baseball when so many games are held at night and last so long?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Quote of the Day (Umberto Eco, on How ‘A Book is a Fragile Creature’)

“A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements, clumsy hands…. So the librarian protects them not only against mankind but also against nature, and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion, the enemy of truth.”—Italian novelist, essayist and semiotician Umberto Eco (1932-2016), The Name of the Rose, translated by William Weaver (1980)

Monday, April 25, 2022

Song Lyric of the Day (John Gay, on Larceny and Lawyers)

: “A fox may steal your hens, sir,
A whore your health and pence, sir,
Your daughter may rob your chest, sir,
Your wife may steal your rest, sir,
   A thief your goods and plate.
“But this is all but picking,
With rest, pence, chest, and chicken;
It ever was decreed, sir,
If Lawyer's hand is fee'd, sir,
   He steals your whole estate.”— English poet-dramatist John Gay (1685-1732), “A Fox May Steal Your Hens, Sir," from The Beggar's Opera (1728)
Gay had in mind financial chicanery when he penned these words nearly three centuries ago. But these days, here in the U.S., it’s become more and more apparent that attorneys have been at the center of a different kind of filching: the attempt to overturn the results of the Presidential election of 2020.
Lawyers were at the heart of efforts to create fraud where it didn’t exist and to wrest supervision of ballots from the normal observers of the process to legislatures dominated by members of their own party.
While the mastermind of the effort was John Eastman (with opera bouffe assistance from Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell—filers of 50 lawsuits contesting the results, and on the losing end of all of them), Republican members of the House of Representatives and the Senate pitched in to help, notably Senator Ted Cruz, as noted by Abigail Weinberg of Mother Jones.
A lawyer, Peachum notes, can steal “your whole estate.” Leave out the letter “e” in the last word of that quote and it reads just as accurately for the perilous state of American politics these last few years.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Reinhold Niebuhr, on the Gospel and ‘Heroic Devotion’)

“The gospel commits us to positions which require heroic devotion before they will ever be realized in life. But we are astute rather than heroic and cautious rather than courageous.” — American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic (1929)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Quote of the Day (Anne Tyler, on a Middle-Aged Eccentric)

“You could say he was a man who had gone to pieces, or maybe he'd arrived unassembled. Various parts of him seemed poorly joined together. His lean, hairy limbs were connected by exaggerated knobs of bone; his black bearded jaw was as clumsily hinged as a nutcracker. Parts of his life, too, lay separate from other parts. His wife knew almost none of his friends. His children had never seen where he worked.”—Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Anne Tyler, Morgan’s Passing (1980)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Photo of the Day: Cherry Blossom Time

“The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.  
In one whole year I haven’t learned  
A blessed thing they pay you for.  
The blossoms snow down in my hair;  
The trees and I will soon be bare.”—Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet W.D. Snodgrass (1926–2009), “April Inventory,” from Selected Poems, 1957-1987 (1987)
I took the image accompanying this post nearly two weeks ago while walking in Overpeck County Park, not far from where I live in Bergen County, NJ.

By the way: Happy Earth Day.  

Quote of the Day (‘A.M. Juster,’ Treating a Cliché Properly)

“If you’re crazy like a fox,
   get tested for rabies.” —Poet, translator, and essayist A.M. Juster (pseudonym for Michael J. Astrue, former head of the Social Security Administration), “Proposed Cliches,” in Sleaze and Slander: New and Selected Comic Verse, 1995-2015 (2016)
Some current and recent world leaders regarded themselves in this manner. For all who trust in them: Beware. As this image demonstrates, they are eyeing their next meal, and it may be you.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Quote of the Day (Nikos Kazantzakis, on ‘What a Strange Machine Man Is!’)

“What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish, and radishes, and out come sighs, laughter, and dreams.”— Greek novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), Zorba the Greek (1946)

The image accompanying this post comes from the 1964 adaptation of Zorba the Greek, with Anthony Quinn in the title role.

(Thanks to my friend Holly for bringing this to my attention.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Quote of the Day (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, on ‘Unlimited Power’)

“Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty.”—Russian Nobel Literature laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (1973)

It was one of the great ironies and tragedies of the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn that the Russian novelist, who endured imprisonment, harassment, and exile at the hands of the Communist regime, was blind to the growing menace to his country posed by a former KGB operative.

Wrapping himself in the intense love of country and faith in God felt by Solzhenitsyn and so many of his countrymen—all the while ensuring that the material needs of the populace were met more than they had been in generations—Vladimir Putin consolidated absolute power by degrees. With an additional dollop of ego-stroking, he managed to fool even the great Russian writer and dissident into believing that he was merely restoring national greatness.

Too bad Solzhenitsyn could not have pondered again his own words about what happens when “unlimited power” is placed in the hands of people without the capacity to withstand temptation. But those of us in the West should not go away thinking it can’t happen here. It has, and may yet again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Quote of the Day (Joan Didion, on Why She Wrote)

“Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to know what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.”—American essayist, novelist, and screenwriter Joan Didion (1934-2021), “Why I Write,” The New York Times Book Review, December 5, 1976

The same goes for me, I think, along with the need to tell someone somewhere about it in a manner that involves expression in an orderly fashion.

Monday, April 18, 2022

TV Quote of the Day (‘Saturday Night Live,’ on ‘Elon Musk’s’ Acquisition Spree)

“What are you scared I’ll buy next? The Oscars?”—“Elon Musk” (played by Mikey Day), on fears that he’ll “make Twitter bad,” in the “Cold Open” skit for Saturday Night Live, Season 47, Episode 18, Apr. 16, 2022 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Pope Francis, on Jesus, ‘A Specialist at Turning Our Deaths Into Life’)

“Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing (cf. Ps 30:11). With him, we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover– from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence. Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: His love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?” —Pope Francis, “Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter: Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis,” Apr. 20, 2019

The depiction of the Resurrection of Jesus in the accompanying image is by the German painter and graphic artist Bernard Plockhorst (1825-1907).

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Movie Quote of the Day (Robert Benchley, Explaining the Theory of the Income Tax)

Joe Doakes [played by Robert Benchley] [Holding up a larger-than-life diagram of a silver dollar]: “This here represents one dollar of your income. Of course, one dollar of your income isn’t as large as this, but we have to take a few liberties.” [Tearing off a piece] “According to the income tax law, 8% of your income comes right off from the start. But if you have another dollar like this [fumbling to catch a smaller piece], there is a penalty: an added 4%, or 12%.” [Tearing off another piece]: “Then comes the supplementary or surprise tax of 45%, which at compound interest, with time and a half for overtime, brings the total beginner’s surtax to a cool 78%. Now, figure on the basis of 3 and a half to 7, with a penalty…we have the supplementary or accrued income tax of 92%.” [Holding up a very thin slice of the original coin, then smiles]. “Now this, you remember, is your dollar.” [It accidentally flies out of his fingers into the air. Looking around but not finding it, he smiles sheepishly again.] “Well, easy come, easy go!”— How to Figure Income Tax (1938), MGM film short written by humorist-actor Robert Benchley (1889-1945), directed by Felix E. Feist

A few weeks ago, when TCM was running one of its assorted distant and more contemporary time-fillers between major presentations on its schedule, I caught this amusing short. I knew instantly that not only would it be appropriate for income tax season, but also that it afforded me another opportunity to extol the virtues of Robert Benchley.

Daily readers of this blog know that I quote frequently from this legendary wit from the Algonquin Round Table. But in prior cases, I quoted from among the 600 of his essays eventually collected into 12 volumes.

This short gave me the chance to allude to—and comment on—some of the work he did in Hollywood.

Towards the end of his life, Benchley’s already considerable drinking intensified over his belief that he had forsaken reasonably creative outlets such as his reviewing at The New Yorker and a radio show for more remunerative work in Tinseltown as a supporting player in full-length films and a star in his own shorts of less than 10 minutes.

A few weeks before his death, his physical and mental health had deteriorated so much that he stopped writing altogether.

The Hollywood work that Benchley regarded with such loathing consisted of 48 short “how-to” videos. One, “How to Sleep,” won Best Short Subject at the 1935 Academy Awards. I don’t know the particular conditions under which he made them, but they can still provide laughs for anyone in need of one—and who doesn’t?

Some contemporary readers on Amazon, commenting on one of Benchley’s books, have been known to write that they are “dated.” This strikes me as an essentially meaningless complaint. The same could be said of almost any work not released in the present moment.

If you want a better evaluation of his work, remember this: Four of the leading humor columnists in the last half-century—Russell Baker, Art Buchwald, Erma Bombeck, and Dave Barry—looked to Benchley for inspiration, according to Neil Grauer's wonderful 1986 appreciation of the humorist in American Heritage Magazine.

“How refreshing to read a biography of a humorist who was not, in real life, a son of a bitch,” wrote another great humor writer, Christopher Buckley, in commenting on Billy Altman’s 1997 book, Laughter’s Gentle Soul: The Life of Robert Benchley. “The worst that could be said of Robert Benchley was that he was a bit of a bounder to his wife, an absentee father to his sons, and ultimately a disappointment to himself. But for all that, his wife and sons were devoted to him, as he in his way was to them. His friends, who were legion, adored him. As he lay in the hospital, hemorrhaging to death from cirrhosis, forty people showed up to volunteer to give blood. How many writers could make that posthumous boast?”

(For a fine look at Benchley that focuses on his film work, see Stephen Mears' 2017 "TCM Diary" blog post for Film Comment Magazine.)

Quote of the Day (Elmore Leonard, on How He Used Research to Become a Published Writer)

“I wrote about a gunsmith that made a certain kind of gun. I have no idea now what the story was about when I sent it to a pulp magazine and it was rejected. I decided I’d better do some research.  I read On the Border with Crook, The Truth about Geronimo, The Look of the West, and Western Words, and I subscribed to Arizona Highways. It had stories about guns—I insisted on authentic guns in my stories—stagecoach lines, specific looks at different little facets of the West, plus all the four-color shots that I could use for my descriptions, things I could put in and sound like I knew what I was talking about.”—Crime and western novelist, short-story writer and screenwriter Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) quoted in Gregg Sutter, “A Conversation With Elmore Leonard,” in The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard (2004)

Friday, April 15, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Tom Bissell, on the Mysterious Figure of Judas Iscariot)

“Who Judas was, what he did, why he did it, and what he ultimately means have been debated within Christianity since its first decades. In the centuries since, many—believers and non-believers alike—have attempted to discern in his few scriptural appearances a personality complicated and large enough to merit the crime for which he is condemned. These myriad attempts have resulted in almost as many Judases as attempts. We have been presented with a Judas who is tormented and penitent, a Judas possessed by devils, a Judas possessed by the Devil, a Judas who is diseased, a Judas who is loyal, a Judas who does what he has to do, a Judas who wants Jesus to act against Rome, a Judas who is confused, a Judas who is loving, a Judas who loves women, a Judas who kills his own father, a Judas who works as a double agent, a Judas who does not understand what he has done, a Judas who kills himself, a Judas who lives to old age, a Judas who loves Jesus ‘as cold loves flame,’ a Judas who is the agent of salvation itself.”— Travel and short-story writer Tom Bissell, “Looking for Judas,” VQR, Summer 2009

In Israel’s Hinnom Valley over a decade ago, Bissell and a companion journeyed toward Hakeldama (alternatively, Akeldama), or Aramaic for “field of blood”—originally where children in the Old Testament were sacrificed, then made more notorious as the site that Judas Iscariot is alleged to have bought for betraying Christ, and where, tradition holds, he hanged himself in guilt-ridden remorse.

In the fascinating creative nonfiction piece that resulted, Bissell examined what is commonly accepted or disputed about the most notorious Apostle, including differences among the Gospel accounts of what led him to his shocking last act.

Unlike other sites in the Holy Land with less historical foundation, Bissell found, there are no physical signs pointing the way for pilgrims here. But the atmosphere, with its "caves, mud, and bushes," remained eerily desolate.

Moreover, on the ridge overlooking the field, loomed a contemporary reminder of the division and violence that Jesus came to ameliorate before becoming its victim: what modern Israelis call the Separation Barrier and Palestinians refer to as the Racial Separation or Apartheid Wall.  That concrete wall, Bissell observed, “possessed the hideous gray inelegance of a supermax prison.”

The image accompanying this post, showing Judas Iscariot, in the right foreground, slipping away from the Last Supper to betray Christ, was created in the late 19th century by the Danish painter Carl Bloch (1834-1890).

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Quote of the Day (Merryn Somerset Webb, on Activist Investors and Corporate Boards)

“In theory all boards represent all shareholders. In practice they tend to be bogged down in regulation compliance and succession issues, operating more as stewards than challengers. A regulatory shift should require one well-supported non-executive director to be fully responsible for shareholder communication and engagement — retail and institutional; for asking about and understanding what activist investors are thinking about; and for directly promoting their views on the board. Adding a little activist magic along the way might help change boards for the better.”—UK personal finance magazine MoneyWeek editor-in-chief Merryn Somerset Webb, “Nagging Is Still the Best Way to Make Boards More Active,” The Financial Times, Apr. 2-3, 2022

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Quote of the Day (George Eliot, on People’s ‘Ridiculous’ Illusions)

“People were so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fool's caps unawares, thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else's were transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as if when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone were rosy.”—English novelist Mary Ann Evens, a.k.a. George Eliot (1819-1880), Middlemarch (1871)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Quote of the Day (Jerome Charyn, on a Book-Loving Lady Robber)

“[Prudence Miller] wasn't willful about one thing: she never used a partner, male or female. Women were more reliable than men; they wouldn't steal your money and expect you to perform sexual feats with their friends. But women thieves could be just as annoying. She'd had her fill of them at the farm, where they read her diary and borrowed her books. Pru didn't appreciate big fat fingers touching her personal library. Readers were like pilgrims who had to go on their own pilgrimage. Pru was a pilgrim, or at least that's what she imagined. She read from morning to night whenever she wasn't out foraging for hard cash. One of her foster mothers had been a relentless reader, and Prudence had gone right through her shelves, book after book: biographies, Bibles, novels, a book on building terrariums, a history of photography, a history of dance, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, which she liked the best, because she could read the little encapsulated portraits of films without having to bother about the films themselves. But she lost her library when she broke out of jail, and it bothered her to live without books.”—American novelist-film critic Jerome Charyn, “White Trash,” in Bronx Noir, edited by S. J. Rozan (2007)

The image accompanying this post, of Jerome Charyn at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival, was taken September 6, 2015, by fourandsixty.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Quote of the Day (P. G. Wodehouse, on a Reversal)

“Mike nodded. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812 and said, ‘So, you're back from Moscow, eh?’” — English humorist P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975), Mike and Psmith (1953)

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Tom Holland, on Faith ‘In the Face of Unspeakable Suffering’)

“[I[n the face of unspeakable suffering, faith has provided solace where no other source of comfort could. Perhaps it is necessary first to have walked in darkness to see a great light.” — Historian Tom Holland, “Our Secular Society Draws From the Well of Christian Tradition,” The Financial Times, Dec. 23-24, 2017

The image accompanying this post, a detail of the painting Christ Crucified, was part of the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, by the Italian late Renaissance master Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594).

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Quote of the Day (V.S. Naipaul, on Our Possibilities)

“After all, we make ourselves according to the ideas we have of our possibilities.”—Trinidad and Tobago-born British Nobel Literature laureate V.S. Naipaul (1932-2018), A Bend in the River (1979)

Friday, April 8, 2022

TV Quote of the Day (‘The Honeymooners,’ As Alice Accounts for a Mystery Bothering Ralph)

Alice Kramden [played by Audrey Meadows]: “I suppose you were cold sober, Ralph, the other night when you came charging in the house, ran in the bedroom, flung the window open, stuck your head out and started yelling, ‘Hey, Mrs. Gallagher, what's this cat doing in this apartment?’"

Ralph Kramden [played by Jackie Gleason]: “Well, I'll ask it again: What was the cat doing in this apartment?”

Alice: “It wasn't her cat. You had your raccoon hat on backwards.”— The Honeymooners, Season 1, Episode 30, “The Loudspeaker,” original air date Apr. 21, 1956, teleplay by Marvin Marx, Walter Stone and Jackie Gleason (uncredited), directed by Frank Satenstein

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Quote of the Day (Sir Francis Bacon, on ‘The Monuments of Wit and Learning’)

“The monuments of wit and learning are more durable than the monuments of power, or of the hands. For have not the verses of Homer continued twenty-five hundred years or more, without the loss of a syllable or letter; during which time infinite palaces, temples, castles, cities have been decayed and demolished?”—English philosopher, scientist, essayist, and statesman Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Essex’s Device (1595)

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Quote of the Day (Horace Greeley, on How ‘Fame is a Vapor’)

“Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; riches take wings; the only earthly certainty is oblivion; no man can foresee what a day may bring forth; while those who cheer to-day will often curse to-morrow.”—American newspaper editor, publisher and Presidential candidate Horace Greeley (1811-1872), Recollections of a Busy Life (1868)

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Quote of the Day (Roger Angell, on the Beauty of Baseball’s Opening Week)

“Baseball has begun. East and west, this is the week of the unfurled bunting, the flexed mayoral or gubernatorial wing, the restored hope, the repainted seat, the April fly ball falling untouched on resodded turf, the windblown shout, and the distant row of pitchers and catchers huddling deeper into their windbreakers as the early-spring sunlight deserts the bullpen. Now everything counts; from now until October, every pitch and every swing will be recorded. In another month, some order will begin to emerge from the standings. Infields will have hardened, some arms and expectations will have gone bad, and enormous crowds will pour out for their first weekend doubleheaders. The long season will engage us once again.”—Baseball essayist and former New Yorker chief fiction editor Roger Angell, The Summer Game (1972)

Okay, traditional day doubleheaders are becoming an increasing rarity because of major league baseball’s attempt to maximize the dollars. But the owners still recognize, even in their usual money-grubbing way, that the diamond, grass and the players who run there are objects of hope and, sometimes, joy for millions.

Play ball!

Monday, April 4, 2022

TV Quote of the Day (‘All in the Family,’ As Archie Fears Age Discrimination)

Archie Bunker [played by Carroll O’Connor]: “They just wanna get rid of us old guys over 50, that’s all, and put us out to pasture. Well I ain’t ready to be pasteurized!” —All in the Family, Season 6, Episode 9,Grandpa Blues,” original air date Nov. 10, 1975, teleplay by Mel Tolkin and Larry Rhine, directed by Paul Bogart

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Eamon Duffy, on Christians, ‘Citizens of a World Whose Heart is Love’)

“Christians are those who find in [Jesus’] life and death an astounding fountain of joy and hope and life; who affirm and are content to affirm what he affirmed about God, because they find in that affirmation a realism which does justice to life in all its horror and all its glory. Not sad, high-minded men with a handful of high-minded, bleak ideals, but citizens of a world whose heart is love. We know in the way of Jesus, not a law, but a liberation into true humanity; the power to love, to belong to one another, to start again when things go wrong, to be grateful, to adore.”—Irish church historian Eamon Duffy, Faith of Our Fathers: Reflections on Catholic Tradition (2004)

The photo of Eamon Duffy accompanying this post was taken Apr. 24, 2010, by Fr. James Bradley from Southampton, UK.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Song Lyric of the Day (Bob Seger, on Truth and Lies)

“The night came on like thunder
Lightning split the purple skies
My whole day had been a journey sorting through the truth and lies.”—American rock ‘n’ roll singer-songwriter Bob Seger, “Gates of Eden,” from his Ride Out CD (2014)

Friday, April 1, 2022

Quote of the Day (Samantha Montano, on the Scientific Opportunity Lost During COVID-19)

“In early 2020 some thought the pandemic would be just the sort of focusing event that wakes up world leaders to the risks of sleeping on the climate crisis. Maybe they would use this ‘window of opportunity’ to draw obvious parallels, so that one global crisis inspired action on the other. Perhaps the U.S. Congress would finally admit the need to reform—and massively expand—our emergency management system to one that prioritizes risk reduction rather than reactionary measures. One that meets the needs of frontline and marginalized communities who experience disproportionate disaster impacts and are kept from accessing adequate aid.

“None of this has happened. Not only is the government not applying the lessons of the pandemic response to other disasters, but even within the pandemic itself, many elected officials have failed to apply the lessons learned at the beginning.”— Samantha Montano, assistant professor of emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, "We Didn't Get Serious About the Climate Crisis," Scientific American, March 2022

Joke of the Day (David Spade, on a Common Flight Ritual)

“Whenever you get on the plane, the flight attendant will always tell you the name of your pilot. Like anyone goes, ‘Oh, he's good.’"—Actor-comedian David Spade, “Quotes,” Reader’s Digest, October 2010

The image of David Spade accompanying this post was taken from a YouTube video on Nov. 19, 2016 by thepaparazzigamer.