You are currently viewing archive for October 2007
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. Roadside messages.
Tom Spaulding has this tribute to Porter Wagoner on his site.

Bio from

From Youtube:

I'll Fly Away Porter with the Willis Brothers

Julie Porter from his show

And, from near the end, Albert Erving Porter with Marty Stuart and his band on the Letterman show

Oops, almost forgot, can't do without a Porter and Dolly
an extended clip that includes Dolly's first appearance on the Porter Wagoner Show

Farmer, you're the real Country Music expert, why not add a few words to this post.
From the White House website:

"President George W. Bush today announced recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civil award.

"Established by Executive Order 11085 in 1963, the Medal may be awarded by the President "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

"President Bush will honor these recipients at a White House ceremony on Monday, November 5, 2007:

"Gary S. Becker....

"Oscar Elias Biscet....

"Francis S. Collins....

"Benjamin L. Hooks....

"Henry J. Hyde....

"Brian P. Lamb has elevated America's public debate and helped open up our government to citizens across the Nation. His dedication to a transparent political system and the free flow of ideas has enriched and strengthened our democracy.

"Harper Lee has made an outstanding contribution to America's literary tradition. At a critical moment in our history, her beautiful book, To Kill a Mockingbird, helped focus the Nation on the turbulent struggle for equality.

"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf...."

In re Brian Lamb: a well deserved honor for a great American hero.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
As I have pointed out before, baseball reflects an agrarian America, the rhythm of the seasons and farming, the pace of work with human muscle and horses, and the dominant role of weather. Baseball also reflects pre-industrial labor in a village setting: cooperative specialization--pitcher, catcher, infielders, outfielders / cooper, blacksmith, carpenter, preacher--universal skills and tasks--caring for and using animals, working the soil/batting, catching, throwing. The social actions of village life are also reflected in the teamwork of baseball: working together cooperatively, but separately in responsibilities and often in distance.

No other American sport has the consistent distance between players on the same team that baseball has, but each must cooperate with the others to succeed. When the ball is pitched, no one can throw it but the pitcher or catch it but the catcher, if the ball is hit to right field there is only one person who can catch it; at the plate, all the responsibility is shouldered by the hitter, one player at a time, but his approach to that at bat is determined by whether there are men on base and where. Teamwork and individual responsibility. Farmers and craftsmen and merchants mutually dependent, farmers cooperating in labor for threshing and barn-raising, but each responsible for the success of his own family on his farm or in his shop.

I'll develop reflections on the other sports at a later date, but for now let me point out that football and basketball are industrial-age sports both in time of origin and in the nature of the games. Both are structured by mechanical clocks, have a fast pace reflecting industrial labor, and team members play in relatively close proximity most of the time. Labor is more specialized, especially in football, but even in basketball centers do not bring the ball up the court nor do guards usually post up. Weather does not determine if a game will be played or not. Both sports run counter to seasonal progression in nature, beginning their seasons when the cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest is ending; football ends its season in late winter/very early spring, basketball in spring. And while football does require a field and grass, basketball separates itself from nature completely.

Perhaps I love baseball because in my heart of hearts I'm a nineteenth-century kind of guy.
I'm about to go all Andy Rooney on you, so either indulge me or scroll to the next post.

Baseball is a game tied to the seasons and to the rhythmns of an earllier agricultural America. See this earlier post. It begins in the spring, the time of planting crops, greening grass, budding trees, lengthening days, warming afternoons. Each season matures during the heat of summer with a season as long and slow and meandering as a great river under a dog day sun. Then comes fall, with its shortening days, cooler nights, and harvests.

Greed for television revenue is debasing the game. The regular season now lasts longer than in the past, and the additional layer of playoff games postpones the World Series 3 to 4 weeks later than it was a few decades ago. The extended season, combined with World Series night games (again, for the television revenue) means that these pinnacle games, the result of all the games in all the parks since opening day, often take place in cold and wet conditions. Blasphemous. Unnatural. The National Sport ruined by unbridled capitalism.

Shorten the season. Rethink the extra playoff games. (I mean, what's a Wild Card doing in baseball? For years it was the only professional sport where winning the regular season meant everything to advancement into the post-season.) AND GIVE US DAY GAMES IN THE WORLD SERIES. Baseball is a better radio game anyway.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
With Halloween a week away, I reprint my post from last year suggesting viewing and reading material.

Most "scary movies" I dislike. They are what I think of as "shockers": the visual equivalent of jumping out of the dark and yelling BOO!, or worse, "gorefests" that shock in the same way the sight of a bad car wreck with its blood and death grabs the attention and causes the audrenaline to pump. To these movies I say, So what.

I do like "suspense" movies: the kind that induce sustained apprehension, like Jaws. And I like "weird" movies, that mess with my mind, challenge my thinking and perceptions, and disturb me at a deep level. Like The Exorcist. But mostly, I think the realm of The Weird is better done in literature.

So this Halloween, if you must watch a movie, I recommend The Exorcist, or the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney, or perhaps the 1922 Nosferatu, or maybe the 1932 The Mummy with Boris Karloff, or if you can find it the 1932 Freaks.

But, I recommend you read this Halloween. (more below)

Somehow the interaction of author and reader in the privacy of the mind, the necessity of one's own images and imagination, the quiet of a good book in a quiet house with only the reading light on, makes for a more satisfying experience of The Weird.

There are so, so many great pieces of weird literature, in length from short stories to novels, that even I recognize the presumption of picking out a "best of category" selection. (Though I'll probably try in a future post; apparently my hubris knows no bounds.)

What I want to do is make a few suggestions of some American authors you may have overlooked.

First, from the earlier days of literature in this country, two authors that may be overlooked because of the overpowering brilliance and reputation of Edgar Allan Poe: Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Both of these men turned out some great short stories of Weird Fiction. For Irving: most of you have probably seen one version or another of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," now read the story, and also "The Adventure of the German Student." Hawthorne could write with power of the darkness of human existence: "Ethan Brand," "Young Goodman Brown," "Feathertop," and of course The House of the Seven Gables.

Next, Ambrose Bierce: "The Death of Halpin Fraser," praised by H.P. Lovecraft as a "mountain-peak" of American writing.

And, if you've never read Robert W. Chambers, locking the doors before you begin reading his stories will not calm your nerves, they are fears of the mind and soul, not the body: "The Yellow Sign," and "The Maker of Moons".

Of course, if you love Weird Fiction, you've not overlooked H.P. Lovecraft. He messes with my mind.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
What is a Christian to make of the Harry Potter stories? Cardinal George Pell argues that while the stories are not built on a Christian world-view, the virtues exhibited by Harry Potter are compatible with Christianity.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Congratulations to Wade Phillips and the Dallas Cowboys, who, despite losing to the overwhelming New England Patriots at home on Sunday, are off to an impressive start.

As many of you know, I am not currently a loyal fan--but Phillips, son of Texas coaching legend, Bum Phillips, is a guy I can get behind. Best of luck, Coach.

Thinking about Bum Phillips, I remember fondly his homespun sincerity and his magical interlude with the Houston Oilers during the 1970s.

For a brief moment, sporting his trademark cowboy hat, and leading Houston to victory on the strength of another legendary Texan, Earl Campbell, Phillips was probably right when he asserted that the Oilers were actually "Texas's Team."

But the spell faded. After a heart-breaking loss to the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game (for the second year in a row), Bum promised:

"One year ago, we knocked on the door. This year, we beat on the door. Next year, we're gonna kick the son-of-a-bitch in."

But, after a disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders the following year in the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers fired Phillips.

The wise guys joked after the Oakland loss that Bum had meekly urinated on the door.

Which brings me to other football story making news in Waco, Texas:

From the Waco Tribune-Herald :

"[The] Baylor University assistant football coach who was cited early Sunday for urinating on a local bar, has been suspended indefinitely."

Full story here.

The head coach, Guy Morriss: “We’ve suspended him indefinitely until this situation is resolved and that’s about all I have to say at this point in time.”

Waco police cited the 30-year-old offensive line coach for disorderly conduct and/or reckless exposure after he allegedly urinated on the bar at Scruffy Murphy’s in Waco about 2 a.m. Sunday.

An aside: It has been a long time--but I have been in Scruffy's at 2 AM. Even when you are not urinating on the furniture, it is an inappropriate venue for an adult employee of Baylor University at that hour of the morning.

I suppose there are some things an institution will endure to field a competitive team--and some that they will not.

According to the Trib story, the coach in question "played collegiate football at the University of Miami from 1995-2000." It occurs to me that the threshold for the Hurricanes is relatively high.

But, for Baylor, 3-4, 0-3 in conference, and coming off a 58-10 defeat against the Kansas Jayhawks, urinating on the bar at a local beer joint probably represents something the university is unwilling to abide. Although managing personnel always presents a tension between forgiveness, accountability, and consequences, my speculation is that this decision is a no-brainer; this particular offender is toast.

The greater question: what about the already teetering head coach?

My guess is that this unfortunate episode spells the end of the Moriss era at the jewel on the Brazos. These incidents are often indicative of systemic problems within a program--even if this one is not--why take the chance?

As for the bigger picture: none of this makes me anxious to re-embrace my former pastime.
On Oct. 8, 1956, Larsen was as close to perfect as any pitcher can be and he chose the most important series in baseball to have his shining moment. Story.

The occasion was Game 5 of the World Series, Yankees versus Dodgers. A perfect game.

We watch sports for many reasons: the excitement that takes us out of our narrow concerns and for a moment or an hour induces self-forgetfulness, the camaraderie with other fans that makes us part of a larger fellowship even if only for an afternoon, the satisfaction of the same deep feelings that caused pagans to mark the progression of seasons with ceremonies: fall football, spring baseball.

But we also watch sports to see occasional human perfection--Montana floating a pass through the narrow window that exists only for a moment between the cornerback and safety, and into the hands of the receiver who will cross that window for a fraction of a second, all as Joe evades a rushing defensive end with mayhem on his mind; Jeeter leaping to snare a scorching liner then twisting his body to throw a bullet to first, catching the runner off the bag, all before Derek's feet hit the ground again; Stockton surrounded by giants down in the paint, hitting Malone streaking in from the corner even though John's glimpse of Karl was a fleeting sight of jersey briefly glimpsed between defenders.

Those we watch on summer evenings and fall afternoons and winter nights give us occasional glimpses of human perfection, gods at play. Major league baseball has burned me more than once, but, I'll be in front of the television for all the games I can, watching the World Series. Maybe I'll see a god at play.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
One of my favorite political commentators is David Brooks. He is a thoughtful, incisive, and well-modulated conservative beholden, seemingly, to no one.

I received his latest article via gmail from stalwart Bosque Boys reader and contributor, Tocqueville, with a succinct two-word introduction and endorsement: "he's right."

I agree with Tocqueville. This essay is a significant admission from Brooks, who (like me) has supported and exhorted the Bush attempt to remake the Middle East.

For those reasons, and in recognition of the New York Times and their recent decision to suspend their annoying and ill-considered pay-per-view regime, I am featuring this latest offering from Brooks via the NYT:

The Republican Collapse

"Modern conservatism begins with Edmund Burke. What Burke articulated was not an ideology or a creed, but a disposition, a reverence for tradition, a suspicion of radical change.

"When conservatism came to America, it became creedal. Free market conservatives built a creed around freedom and capitalism. Religious conservatives built a creed around their conception of a transcendent order. Neoconservatives and others built a creed around the words of Lincoln and the founders.

"Over the years, the voice of Burke has been submerged beneath the clamoring creeds. In fact, over the past few decades the conservative ideologies have been magnified, while the temperamental conservatism of Burke has been abandoned."

Brooks goes on to sketch out the fissures in the modern American conservative movement.

I encourage you to read the full article here (free subscription still required).

And this conclusion from Brooks:

"American conservatism will never be just dispositional conservatism. America is a creedal nation. But American conservatism is only successful when it’s in tension — when the ambition of its creeds is restrained by the caution of its Burkean roots."

04/10: "Gay" Culture

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
I have assumed for some time, based on anecdotal evidence, that what passes for gay culture in the MSM is a sanitized version. For a very unsanitized version Little Green Footballs links to a photoessay from the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. WARNING: the photographs are not safe for work and should not be viewed by anyone under 18.

It must be nice to have enablers like the MSM to present more acceptable images to the public, while the reality remains under-reported.

I don't think I'll leave my heart in San Francisco.

I find it significant that Gay Patriot, who is as his blog title suggests, has had no success in getting gay groups to protest the fact that children are allowed at the fair.