In A Narrow Grave

In anticipation of a trip to Texas, I got this one off the shelf.  Neither McMurtry’s best (that would be Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, in which he gives a recipe for lime Dr. Pepper) or his worst (that would be Paradise, where he proves his point that Tahiti is boring), in this fan’s opinion.

McMurtry’s essay on the sexual attitudes of the post-frontier Texas of his youth is pretty interesting:

He also says it wasn’t a big deal in his youth for a young man to have sex with a cow or pig.




That’s from this study in the Swiss Journal of Psychology.  Happened to see that on Twitter somehow.

Was struck when I actually read The Prince and realized Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney either hadn’t read it or hadn’t taken some of its blunter advice.

foxes, being foxlike

from the piles of Rumsefeld memos you can read online.

On about page six of this book (haven’t finished) he says don’t invade countries where you don’t know the language.

Maybe a new rule should be that when we invade a country, the President or at least the Secretary of Defense should have to live there:

Dictionary of National Biography

When you come across this book, it’s fun to take it down and open it at random and read about some guy.  For instance, Caleb Jeacocke, debater and roll-maker:

The Crown’s JFK

Peggy Noonan raises concern about the depiction of JFK on episode 8, season 2 of The Crown on Netflix:

There is nothing—literally nothing—to support the assertion in “The Crown” that after the trip JFK, in a rage at being upstaged by his wife, drank, threw things and lunged at her. There is no historical evidence that he ever got rapey with his wife.

(what a sentence!)

Also he didn’t smoke cigarettes.

All of this, and more, is so vulgar, dumb and careless. It is disrespectful not only of real human beings but of history itself.

Interesting points.  JFK did at least sometimes smoke small stubby cigarillo things, as we can see in Primary.

He famously got himself a bunch of Cuban cigars before announcing the embargo (a story that’s told as a funny, cute anecdote rather than an example of small but representative corruption).

JFK was rapey with other young women in his employ, if we believe Mimi Alford.

Caitlin Flanagan points to more evidence.

I loved The Crown’s version of JFK.  His psychopathic side.  A worthwhile distinction: the way the story is told in The Crown, what we see is Jackie’s perception of JFK.  That could be different than like historical truth.

Consider what Errol Morris says here (talking Wormwood) about “reenactments”:

Well, I noticed that even with the scripted elements of Wormwood, people call them “reenactments,” but they’re not reenacting anything, properly speaking. I got so tired of it that. First of all, reenactments came out of a sort of see-and-say type of stuff. You’d have an interview, the person would go, “Blah blah blah,” and then you’d illustrate them with the subsequent reenactment.

“On the night of June 4, 1973, I went to the store and bought a pack of cigarettes,” and you cut to an actor in a wide-lapel shirt and bell bottoms walking into a store and buying a pack of cigarettes.
That’s correct. So I pointed out like, “What exactly am I reenacting?” Am I reenacting truth? No. Am I reenacting belief? More often than not, I’m reenacting claims of what people saw or didn’t see. A version of events, a belief about what transpired, rather than what actually transpired. And I got in the habit — out of annoyance, I would say — of pointing out how consciousness is a reenactment of reality inside of our skulls. This idea that we have some immediate and privileged access to the world around us? Excuuuse me! We do not!

If we’re seeing Jackie’s reality, as imagined by The Crown, is that wrong?

But I’m a sucker for this kinda thing.  I loved Dennis Quaid as Bill Clinton in The Special Relationship.  I felt he showed the alpha dog side of Bill Clinton that must be present.

Hope Davis as Hillary also.  Chilling.

To see the past in all its complexity is impossible and compelling.  A key theme of Helytimes.



Eleven Tweets

getting pretty into Van Gogh since I bought this book for $19.99 at the Taschen store

Feel like a sucker writing for free from @jack’s website, but I love Twitter, so I am experimenting with putting my Twitter length thoughts over here on Sundays.  

so easy to get people’s credit card numbers. all you have to do is be a store

Nervous I will be blamed for the government shutdown

Saw a girl wearing a bright orange sweater yesterday. She looked great!

Aziz wanted to start a conversation about Modern Romance and my god mission accomplished!

THEORY: bc of energy drinks and coffee chains, people have too much energy, they burn it off fighting about the news

The timeline equivalent of Paul writing about Jesus is somebody writing about a guy who died in 1997

A comedy can get away with not being funny if it’s so unfunny it becomes critically acclaimed. Like shooting the moon in Hearts.

Not sarcastic: I love all memes and can’t get enough of them.

I for one don’t want to be lumped in with other white people

Journalists are so horny about “ledes”

Theory: AI has begun conquest of Earth with help of autistic human allies (Thiel, Dorsey, Musk) who find computer rule more rational

The Red Vineyard, allegedly the only painting VVG sold in his lifetime. I’d argue: one of his worst and tackiest ones!  Source.

Mark Five: Weird

Fifth in our series about the Book of Mark: 

Mark One, about the scraps of Mark on Papyrus One. 

Mark Two, an intro to Mark, and what’s going on with it. 

Mark Three,  about “The Secret Gospel of Mark.”

Mark Four, about J. B. Phillips.

As a kid the first time I heard The Book of Mark was read aloud to me, in deliberate boring tone, in Catholic church, a notoriously stiff and elderly kind of place, not all that appealing to the average child.

On the plus side, you did get a good education in a way in the Bible and some aspects of human behavior.

Wanted to stand up and cheer when I got to this part of Ross Douthat and Tyler Cowen’s conversation.  Connecting Catholic theology to what the Guy says on the hillside in Galilee in the Gospels takes insane mental labyrinth building.  A fun project in a way but not what the Guy himself seems to describe as the way forward.

Take, for example, Mark Five.  (Turns out we’ve discussed it before).

Here’s what the NIV gives as the rough sections of this chapter.

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

JB Philips gives it:

Jesus meets a violent lunatic

Faith is followed by healing

Weird, supernatural type stuff.  How’re you gonna deal with this?  Unpacking the events of Mark Five could probably be a career for a theologian.

Hard to make your church last 2,000 years without sanding the edges down a bit I guess but when you go back to the source you can sometimes feel like what’s missing is the compelling, almost alarming strangeness of the story.

Let’s say only that by Chapter Five of his book, Mark’s Jesus is unstoppable, coursing with power that flows almost like electricity.

If Mark is avail they should hire him for a Marvel movie.

Next time:



Liked this quote from PTA’s AMA where he says the script is “just a temporary thing”