POETS Day! Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Photo by Henry Kellner, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

It’s POETS Day! Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday… yay…

Look. I’m trying to be enthused about sneaking out of work and starting the weekend early, but the college football season is done. Party’s Over, Endure The Sabbatical feels a better fit. August 26 is a long way off and I’m full of existential questions. “Are you really a Saturday if no one misses a holding call?” “How are you not just a secular Sunday?” Justify yourself, Saturday.

I guess all the non-football related fun stuff is still out there and once the pain of loss ebbs I’ll pick up and remember that weekends are still worth living for and shift hours are still damned tools of the oppressor but right now my heart just isn’t in it. Sure, you could dissemble, obfuscate, fudge the truth, and gleefully trespass the norms and delicate pieties that preserve our hopefully durable civilization as per usual, but why? There’s no college football methadone out there. The rules are still the same though let’s face it. We’re just going through the motions here. All means are a-okay in service of the urge to prematurely escape the bonds of employment and settle in at a friendly neighborhood joint a few hours before even happy hour begins, lay comfortably in the grass at a local park, go for a swim, or God forbid, go for a light jog. It’s your weekend, I guess. I’ll need a bit to mourn and acclimate. Thankfully, there’s still verse to pass the time.

Continue reading

POETS Day! Roy Campbell

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Sometimes I feel bad for people who don’t speak English and are stuck calling their master lyricists words like poeta, digter, imbongi, or tusisolo that don’t form tidy acronyms encouraging their better hedonist angels. Thankfully we are blessed by the vision of William the TBA who noticed that Godwinson was busy in York dealing with family issues and figured even if Harold could get to Hastings in time, he’d have to force march his men with out any bathroom breaks. William won and French words marginalized German words. Instead of the dubious Diners In Cardiff Hate Tasting English Rarebit we get the dulcet Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday, so Happy POETS Day! Disassemble, obfuscate, fudge the truth, and gleefully trespass the norms and delicate pieties that preserve our hopefully durable civilization. Nearly all means are justified by the urge to prematurely escape the bonds of employment and settle in at a friendly neighborhood joint a few hours before even happy hour begins, lay comfortably in the grass at a local park or cemetery, take a schvitz, or God forbid, go for a light jog. It’s your weekend. Do with it as you will, but in homage to the mighty Norman acronym may I suggest setting aside a moment for a little verse? It’s a particularly good way to pass time waiting on friends who may not run as roughshod over the delicate pieties and were not as successful as you were in engineering an early exit.


In October of 1944, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien spent an evening in discussion with Roy Campbell, this week’s featured poet. Lewis was put off by Campbell’s, according to Lewis, “particular blend of Catholicism and fascism.” Tolkien, who was writing The Lord of the Rings at the time, reportedly took Campbell as inspiration for a mysterious hobbit character named Trotter who he would over time rewrite as a man, rename Strider, and reveal as Aragorn. People didn’t react mildly to Campbell. Even when they were ostensibly friends and admirers of each other’s literary abilities and fellow members of The Inklings, Lewis wrote a mean poem at him.

Continue reading

Why You Should Keep Saying Soccer

Real life, Twitter, TV, articles… this keeps coming up. I want to be clear. The game they are playing at odd hours on the corpses of immigrant workers far off in the desert is called soccer. No “in America” or “by Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, the Irish, Pakistanis, South Africans, Nigerians… et al.” clarification needed. The game is Association Football, shortened by weird Oxford students who add -er to the end of everything to Soccer Football and later just Soccer. The game falls under the same identifying umbrella as Rugby Football, Gaelic Football, American Football, Australian Rule Football, and Hockey (field for certain – I’m not sure about ice.)

No sane person has a problem with anyone calling the game football in a context that makes it clear which of the many games you are referring to that are encompassed by the word. The British can say football all they want, knowing that those around them understand what is being referenced is the type of football known as Association Football, just as I casually use the word football to refer to the American Football type in which Alabama just beat Alabama Polytechnical Institute 49 to 27. I do have a problem when some East End denizen thousands of miles away gets a bee in his trunk or a local hipster with a crisp on his shoulder and a copy of Proust sitting on his night table that he’s started six times gets high and mighty because I or someone else is more specific than he wants to be.

Continue reading

How To Deal with That Family Member at Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Thanksgiving dinner is intended to be a convivial affair. Much is made of the idea that we should stop and consider our blessings, note the good that others have done for us, count the times that we have feared but not lost, and the recognize than when we have lost the sadness felt was in proportion to the joy we were lucky enough to share in. I’ll not object to such exercizes. We should enumerate and recognize the things that make our lives better and give thanks for them each and separately. I don’t think I’ve ever done that, but we should. To me, and I assume many others, the wonder of Thanksgiving comes from less the mental tabulations – again, worthy activities – than time set aside to spend in communion with those we love; the feelings of thanks flowing effortlessly from and through the fellowship and unbidden forming yet another entry on the grand ledger for which we give even further thanks. Properly set, the Thanksgiving dinner table is a familial perpetual emotion machine. At least, it should be. We do our best. That’s why I’m so loathe to bring this up.

We all have that relative who is going to disrupt the Thanksgiving dinner harmony this year. It’ll likely be a man. I don’t want to be sexist, but it will. Your brother, uncle, brother in-law, father, grandfather, or cousin is going to say something controversial. Ideally, I’d sit on my hands and hope his inane thoughts get ignored and he moves on to other subjects, but these days there are devoted cable stations, web sites, and all manner of social media clamour feeding the bubble he lives in and god knows how many circular bias reinforcing bar conversations he’s a veteran of. He’s been marinating in this fantasy and has enough ammunition to blather on from soup to nuts. In addition to annoyed eye rolling adults, there’s the matter of any children present at the table. Should you sit by while a supposed authority figure fills their minds with this? You have to weigh his intrusion on their formative mind against the risk of upsetting your host and having it out with the offending presence right then and there (in which case I believe your host and probably all of the other guests will be secretly relieved and thank you later.) I say have it out. If you are cutting and decisive you may have him vanquished and silent before anyone sits at the table because when he sees Detroit playing Buffalo on TV he won’t be able to help but smugly inject some variation on “Flip channels so we can watch some real football. Brazil and Serbia, man! World Cup!” Properly armed you can end this now.

Continue reading

Kids and Their %*^%$&^$ Language

There’s a great brewery here in Birmingham called Back Forty Beer Company. They began a little north in Gadsden but in 2018 they built a magnificent palace to beer, burgers, pizza, sports, and outdoor fun with room for football games and fire pits.

I was there last Saturday in the late afternoon with my wife and two sons, my sister-in-law and her husband and two kids, and my mother-in-law.

We hadn’t taken the kids in a few years, and not because it was the scene of then six-year-old’s last and greatest temper tantrum – He wanted a double decker burger that was bigger than his head, much less his mouth, and he was furious that I ordered the already oversized single burger for him instead. There was flopping and screaming. We haven’t been back because we just don’t get out that much. I hear that’s not an unusual thing lately.

This time we sat outside at one of the picnic tables and that six-year-old tantrum thrower, now eight and more ready to appeal to reason, came up to the table of adults and was near tears. He’d been throwing a football around with a bunch of kids and one of them called him an idiot.

Continue reading