1. La Boheme
You get a good idea why rummaging through Trivia-Pop.
Sneed, in the Sun-Times bursts in with another Judy Baar Topinka exclusive! Topinka’s dog, coyly named “Bella Beagle”…the same one who went wee-wee in 10 countries…has just had cancer surgery! So the woman Sneed calls “irrepressible” (barf) spent election night eating a can of tuna fish caring for the perp—so she phoned in to Sneed.
Also: news flash Topinka who loves caffeine, drank six large coffees from Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and a mini-mart on election day. Not Starbucks, mind you. These gossip column leaks (pun intended where Bella Beagle is concerned) are manufactured in concert with Sneed to build the Topinka political brand—colorful, witty, zippy lady. In lieu of issues. And the poor mouth is devised to distract from the $150,000 a year in state pensions plus another coming from the RTA board which has made Topinka a very wealthy lady. Money deserved if she had a head for public policy. She doesn’t. Her state treasurer’s constitutional officer job is better filled with a professional who knows something about investing—not puppies. The same for the job she seeks—comptroller.
Because she isn’t very good at issues (although she served as state Rep, state Senator and state Treasurer)…so bad in fact she faced Rod Blagojevich with zilch ideas (her idea to cut the budget was to eliminate the warming rods under the sidewalks to Blago’s mansion)…she’s cutesy pie-like turned herself into a (supposedly) lovable human brand: Penny-pinching Bohemian lady who pinches pennies (ergo the Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s touch) to convince you she’ll do the same as state comptroller, the post she’s been nominated by a mindless GOP electorate for.
Bella Beagle and the can of tuna fish are to make you forget she’s a very rich lady ready for after-political life with an obscenely rich taxpayer-endowed pension plan—to become much more which after she finishes as state comptroller (where she intends to perch on the taxpayer’s dime for at least another decade) hoping when retiring to haul down at least $200,000 per annum totally. Sneed dutifully plays along with the branding…reporting the `60ish un-stylish Bohemian Girl bit—cause Sneed’s in that age bracket herself. Two irrepressibles.
Perky Katie Couric: Up to Her Jeweled (Censored) in Harpers Bazaar.
2. Come to the Weimar Republic Cabaret!
After years of portraying cute little fuzz-ball Katie Couric as a deep…very deep…intellectual anchor of the CBS News, Katie dashes the brand to bits by exulting that she’s soon to be on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar posing dripping with jewels and fine clothes. Katie earns $14 million a year and CBS is denying even a teensy salary cut via cue tip down to $13.4 million to show compassion for the legion of highly trained reporters earning $70k who have to be let go because of Her Cuteness’ salary. No—Katie will get it all. Let `em out of work eat cake.
Moreover, she’s soon to meet with ABC anchor Diane Sawyer because you know they’re in the same racket. Katie hasn’t really spent time with Diane but not long ago she pulled a great trick on her. The day Diane gave up her Good Morning America AM anchor to go nightly, Katie did a video to be played at her going-away party. You’ll love this! The video had Katie smooching on her office luxurious wraparound couch with Diane’s husband Mike Nichols when…all of a sudden…ABC’s investigative reporter Brian Ross breaks into her CBS suite!
All this fun at a time when we’re 10% unemployment, jobs are vanishing, we’re in two wars, Haiti is rolling over and dying and Ahmadinejad has sent a space rocket to the moon to show he’s got the stuff to fire a missile to detonate the West. But with the dinosaur media, let the good times roll!
Ralph McInerney: Philosopher as Actor.
All good teachers are actors. My wife and I took the Great Books course taught by its founder, Mortimer Adler. Because he was a great…superb…teacher, Adler violated the canons he himself had laid down for teachers of the Great Books. Such teachers are supposed to be merely the first among equals, asking students’ opinions on the readings without tipping a hand as to what should be believed.
Adler was indubitably right and of course his suggestion as to be tabula raza was wrong. One of the greatest teachers I ever had was Ernie (for benefit of those who are new here, he was Fr. Ernest Kilzer, OSB, professor of philosophy and theology at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota during the time I went there—and had him all four years—1946-50). I refer to him now…as we did then (but behind his black cassocked back) as Ernie.
One day in discussing Aristotle on Politics and thoroughly dissatisfied with our answers, Ernie said exasperatedly after hearing many incoherent amateur analyses of the Greatest One: “Think of me as Aristotle!” It was perfect and for the better part of two hours, Ernie answered questions from the class as Aristotle would. We did think of him as Aristotle and we conducted a virtual news conference with Aristotle—asking him what he thought was the purpose of life, the essence of truth, happiness, virtue. Aristotle batted forth his answers and got into deeply intellectual but enlivening disputes with the class. We learned far more than way—with the professor simulating the person he taught—than by any other method.
The late professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, Ralph McInerney did the same with Thomas Aquinas. He never said to his classes or audiences (of which my wife and I were part of at least twice in his later years) but he in fact personified Aquinas. And while he never declared…as did Ernie “think of me as Aquinas”—we did. McInerney was truly a great professor who came to his trade through an earlier life of hard knocks. But like Ernie, he was the embodiment not just of the scholar he elucidated but the institution he served. Ernie was the old Saint John’s. Sadly that Saint John’s is no more. McInerney was Notre Dame (in the same way as Charles Rice is Notre Dame).
McInerney would never duck from the religious embodiment of life. He talked natural law but he always maintained that natural law is meaningless without connection with the Natural Lawgiver who is God. When he spoke of Aquinas’ proofs for the existence of God he would say…you’re driving your car and suddenly ahead of you the railroad gates go down and red lights begin to flash. You stop and wait. But what if an empty freight car rolls by without any engine? Would you not wonder what makes that freight car move? Ergo: IT CANNOT BE! There has to be an engine that impels the freight car to move! Thus we never see just an empty freight car move. We see a long line of freight cars…sometimes an un-enduringly long line. But we know that this line of freight cars cannot go on for infinity because truly a line that has no beginning cannot move. So there must be a beginning, an engine that impels the freight cars to move…
An engine that is of itself UNMOVED and is the source of all movement. Therefore in all things it is essential to discover the Prime Mover and to understand that to reckon there is no Prime Mover is to court madness. But to understand the Prime Mover is God is the beginning of all wisdom.
Thus the McInerney style of describing Aquinas’ first rule to prove the existence of God—From Motion.
Essentially, we are all the richer for having McInerney and fortunately we will always have him. His lectures about Thomas, about Dante, about the other philosophers are all on video tape at EWTN. McInerney is far luckier than was Ernie whose lectures only are video-taped in my mind. We need to pray for the repose of the soul of Ralph McInerney…truly one of the great professors, actors and lecturers of the contemporary West…and pray too that the people at EWTN will re-issue the tapes of his representation…his acting out…the great thinkers of our time.
*: Feast of St. Agatha [Date Unknown]. What we do know about her is that she was born beautiful—which for a girl who consecrated her virginity to God was a great tragedy. Born in either Palermo or Catania in Sicily, she belonged to a wealthy and powerful family. When she would not yield her virtue to a consular named Quintian he brought her before him and heard her pray aloud “Dear Lord of all, thou seest my heart and thou knowest my desires. Do thou alone possess all that I am. I am thy sheep: make me worthy to overcome the Devil.” Quintian ordered her handed over to the aptly named Aprodisia, a wicked woman who with her six daughters ran a bordello. Dissatisfied with her resoluteness, Quintian ordered that she be stretched on the rack and tormented with stripes the tearing of her sides with sharp hooks. Enraged at her cheerfulness, he ordered her breasts to be crushed and cut off…after which she be imprisoned in a dungeon with no food or medical care.
Legend says in the dungeon she had a vision of St. Peter who provided her dungeon cell with a bright light and consoled and healed her. Four days later Quintian caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. As she was carried back to prison she prayed, “Lord, receive now my soul.” Then she breathed her last. In medieval art her severed breasts are portrayed as in a dish. Later they were mistaken for loaves of bread, starting a practice of blessing loaves of bread on St. Agatha’s feast which were brought up to the altars on dishes. In Sicily she was credited with having stopped eruptions of Mt. Etna by causing bells to ring. Accordingly the guilds of bell makers took her as their patroness. Two 6thcentury churches in Rome were dedicated to her and she is named in the canon of the Mass.