An Ode to Orioles’ Pitchers Past

I wrote a short silly salute to the fearsome starting rotation of the 1971 Baltimore Orioles for Bardball yesterday. It was only the second rotation to contain four 20-game winners in 92 years, just a buzzsaw that sent fear into their opponents.

I remember hating the Orioles as a kid, because they were the elite of the AL at the time, and always seemed to have the number of my beloved Tigers. Now, as the team is doing well for the first time in a generation, I feel a certain fondness for them. There’s all the old saws about Baltimore being a great old baseball town that has long suffered, blah blah. It’s probably just nostalgia on my part, or a generous mood to let bygones be bygones. The Oakland A’s are also okay by me lately for the same reason.

The Royals, however, can still suck it.

Podcast Recording for “Was Jesus Married?”

For those of you out there who are “auditory learners” or want to fall asleep to my smooth-as-cocoa vocal stylings, here’s the audio recording of my essay from last week’s Paper Machete, posted by Kate Dries and the grand folks over at WBEZ.

To all my fondly remembered teachers at Catholic Central HS, I hope you take this as part of a constructive debate. You always tried to get us to think for ourselves, which may have been your undoing.

Was Jesus Married?

My contribution to the latest installment of The Paper Machete, Chicago’s live newsmagazine/reading series, which happened last Saturday:

Big news this week in the field of papyrology, that is, the study of ancient papyrus scrolls. (and when you ponder whether YOUR degree has gotten you very far, think of that.) A small piece of ancient papyrus, much smaller than a placemat from Pier One, was discovered to contain writing that could or could not shake the foundations of the Christian religion.

First, a little background. At the end of last year, a papyrus collector (and I should warn you, never get cornered at a party by a papyrus collector) brought the scrap to the Harvard Divinity school. Dr. Karen King, noted papyrologist, examined the scrap, showed it to colleagues at the secretive and exclusive Papyrus League Club, and determined that it was not a forgery. This week, Dr. King announced her findings would be published soon in US Weekly (really, the Harvard Theological Review).

The scrap, cut from a larger scroll, contained seven lines of sentence fragments. Among these were the words: “Jesus said, My wife.”

Now, I’d like to get address the elephant in the room and head straight for the Borscht Belt treatment: Jesus said, “My wife wants to take a vacation, spark up our LOVE life. Wants to go to the Dead Sea. I say, Why the Dead Sea? She says, it reminds me of our love life.”

And also: How can you tell that Jesus was married? He brings 5000 people over and then asks, “Hey, have we got any food?”

The headlines screamed the predictably sensational question, “Was Jesus married?” The expert from Harvard answered strongly that she had no idea. The sentence wasn’t complete, it had no context, the scrap had been cut from a larger papyrus we don’t have. It was written 150 years after the death of Jesus, who as you remember, was someone prone to speak a little cryptically. It could have been the start of a parable, analogy, mystical figurative allusion, or something else.

But I ask you, what’s more fun, scholarship or baseless conjecture? Then let’s get to it.

There is no clue as to the identity of the woman mentioned. Some traditions in the early Common Era have held that Jesus had a more-than-platonic relationship with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute turned disciple. This was exploited for Biblical Broadway hotness in “Jesus Christ Superstar” and for the members of the Wal-Mart Book Society in The DaVinci Code. If Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife, at least she’d be travelling with him and not stuck back in Podunk-areth.

The idea that Jesus was married does more than make the New Testament more saleable as a Lifetime mini-series. (You know somewhere the concept has been pitched, and a producer has said, “I like the story, but this guy Jesus, he needs to be sexed up.”) If the scrap proves to be accurate, it might shake the foundations of the Christian church as we know it, at least until the church as we know it squelches it.

(The collector who owns the scrap, by the way, has chosen to remain anonymous. He says it’s because he doesn’t want to be flooded with requests to sell it. But we all know what he’s really afraid of: Vatican ninjas!)

Continue reading “Was Jesus Married?”

Because It’s Been Too Long: BARDBALL!

It’s been a while since I posted one of my poems from Bardball here. Not that I haven’t been working on keeping the site alive and growing, but because I’m starting to lose track of all the online venues I’m supposed to feed material to. The Internet is starting to feel like Audrey II, with constant cries of “FEED MEEEE!”

Anyway, here’s a fresh one from yesterday’s White Sox-Tigers game, possibly the most important game between them this year:

Madre de Dios! Ese Alex Rios!

Among Omar Infante’s dislikes
Must be incoming baserunners – Yikes!
To dodge getting maimed
Cost the Bengals the game –
One of inches, and feet wearing spikes.

A Little Taste of ‘Tea Party Fairy Tales’

Time and attention spans are short, so for fans interested in what’s contained in my latest Kindle Single, Tea Party Fairy Tales, here are a couple of samples. To get your copy for the super low price of $1.99, click here:


Get out of bed! No more sleeping! It’s time to wake up, Storybookland!

Some years ago, my name somehow became attached to the leftist “politically correct” movement because my name was attached to a book — Politically Correct Bedtime Stories — that many liberals took to heart. In that volume, I argued we could forge a better world by rewriting familiar stories for our children. By eliminating violence, sexism and prejudice from favorite childhood tales, I thought we could create a better society.

Well, like all social engineering projects, that one failed miserably.

Now the scales have fallen from my eyes. Rising levels of socialism, anarchy and personal cholesterol have alarmed the 50-year-old me, to the point where I realize we need to recast society in a more fundamental way, one that defends liberty, encourages personal initiative and prevents the government from stealing any more of the money I made on my previous books.

The evidence still asserts (if you can believe what pointy-headed academics are saying) that impressionable children can be molded at an early age by their reading material. The crises of the coming decades will require brave, conservative young men and women if the American experiment (bolstered by divine providence, of course) is to survive. America is the greatest country ever, bar none, in the history of this or any other world. That’s why it’s in such mortal danger, from both within and without. That’s why we can’t risk having a younger generation shaped by anything less than true 100% American values, screamed from the highest rooftop and blasted through every media channel. Real truth is strong, incorruptible and eternal. That’s why it needs to be repeated at the top of our lungs, again and again, lest it perish…..


One morning two Sheep were deciding on the best destination for their grazing.

“I think we should go up the mountain,” said the First Sheep. “Not many other animals go there to graze, so there should be enough clover to eat. Besides, the view is very pretty.”

The Second Sheep said, “No, let’s go down near the river. The grass is very sweet and plentiful there, and we’ll be shaded from the sun and wind.”

“I don’t like that idea,” said the First.

“But I don’t like yours, either,” said the Second.

“Well then, let’s compromise. We can go to the broad plain that lies between the mountains and the river. It should have enough grass to eat, and the weather should be fine for both of us.”

“Agreed,” said the Second Sheep.

And as the Sheep set off down the road to the broad plain, they were both pounced upon by Hyenas and eaten.

Moral: Compromise equals death.


Once upon a time, when everything was as it should be, there lived a young girl named Red Riding Hood. Now, just because she was named Red and liked to skulk around in red clothing and hide her face with a hood doesn’t make her a secret Communist. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean we’ll be letting our guard down, either. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

One day, Red Riding Hood’s mother asked her to take a basket of goodies to her grandmother’s house. She also gave Red a Glock .45 automatic for protection. Old Grandma Hood was fiercely independent, you see, and was still living off the land at age 92. She was also a crack shot and an avid supporter of the NRA (Nonagenarian Rifle Association). At her trailer in her wooded compound, times had grown hard and supplies were getting scarce. And since Grandma’s medication was probably getting low, Red had to be armed and ready in case her beloved granny was getting a little cuckoo and thought Red was from FEMA.

So, free and fully armed, Red Riding Hood set off down the path, pushing her wheelbarrow full of powdered milk, jerky, dried beans and ammunition to Grandma’s compound. Her Grandma was a patriot, and Red Riding Hood loved her.

On the path in the woods, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a Wolf. “Yo, baby, what you got in the cart, huh?” he asked very rudely.

Red Riding Hood took out her Glock and shot him.

“An armed society is a polite society,” she said, and pushed her wheelbarrow along…..

Why Can’t I Quit Football?

I drove up to the cottage Wednesday, in order to get up to Grand Rapids Thursday and meet a couple of Thai tailors who’d flown to town to get everyone fitted with nice cheap suits. (Yay!) For dinner, I drove to a sports bar nearby Saugatuck, hoping to catch a little of the early action of the Tigers-Indians game. From my barstool, I could look at 11 different TV screens at once.

Little did I know, the whole country was counting down the minutes to something monumentally important.

No, not the Democratic convention, but the start of the NFL season!

The countdown to the kickoff! The clock running down in the corner of the screen! The clash between the Dallas Cowboys (America’s Team to some – shudder) and the NY Giants! In the middle of the media capital of the country! More forced amusement and community than in 10 Rockin’ New Year’s Eves! How could such monumentalosity escape my attention?

With the sound off, it was surreal to watch the interviews, and the other interviews, and the retrospectives of the interviews. However, sound-free was definitely the way to enjoy the music and dance-a-ganza taking place midtown in Rockefeller Center (30 Rock, for the more macho announcers). Mariah Carey sang and danced, looking like she had just enough time on the subway to do her hair. Some fat bald rapper recited from a big gold throne, while everyone who wanted to be part of such scripted joy shoved and pushed to wave to their fans at home. Meanwhile, the dancers around Mariah wriggled and shimmied wearing modified shoulder pads. Too bad they were male dancers.

Oh football. Why can’t I quit you?

You embody so much that is crass and overblown in American culture. Every Sunday, we’re urged to get down, pig up, chest bump, drink up (though with shitty beer that only gets you drunk in the manner that Mariah Carey gets you dancing) and roll back evolutionary progress a couple of centuries.

You make us cheer for brutality, long for overstuffed blonde barmaids, treat a 3-hour relaxing TV respite like it were a matter of life and death. You force us to identify with still-adolescent meatheads whose goal in life is not enlightenment or service or ecstasy, but merely to own a mancave decorated entirely with promotional items, an Ali Baba’s cave for the soulless and rudderless.

Still, I can’t quit you.

To enjoy a game, you force us to ignore millions of dollars wasted in glitz and advertising, not to mention millions of tax dollars siphoned off to build high-tech stadiums for the rich and connected. You force us to forget how many former players are hobbling around their houses on shattered knees, or trying to keep from shaking from the concussions they’ve suffered. You require us to forget about the thousands of young men who never make it, but are sold a bill of goods by sadistic, power-mad coaches that they must sacrifice themselves to the game to get ahead when they could be getting an education or learning a trade.

Still, I can’t quit you.

Football, you force me to admire jocks who not only were assholes in high school (the last time we ever existed on the same plane) but now are rich and even more entitled. You force me to make excuses for the players who get arrested for beating up their girlfriends, or even casual passersby. You encourage me to lard stories about heroism and sacrifice and honor upon a bunch of arrogant steroidal gorillas who would only pull over to help a stranded motorist if there were a film crew nearby, who sometimes play with less enthusiasm than a 40-year-old stripper on a pole. And some day, I am completely certain, I will watch a player die on the field from blunt trauma.

Still, I can’t quit you. How can that be? What in God’s name is wrong with me?

The Chicago Bears connect with me more thoroughly than ever did the Detroit Lions (godawful for my entire life in the Motor City) or the Michigan Wolverines (just not that exciting to me). Plugging into the enthusiasm of Bear fans makes me feel like I grew up here, which is a feeling I like to cultivate from time to time. I like to think of my late father and me watching a game on TV sometime, with his long-gone Aunt Helen smoking cigarettes in her kitchen in Homewood and yelling at Butkus. And the time I spend watching the game (even better when my daughter joins me) gives me a chance to suspend responsibility for just a little while, and enjoy watching someone else’s well-laid plans either go well or ill. But these are only partial reasons, dressed in play clothes of nostalgia.

So what is it about you, football, that keeps me coming back? I never played the game. While short-tempered, I’m not a violent person. We have an artistic household, not an athletic one. My wife and son give me grief for watching a game every weekend.

Still, I can’t quit you.

Must be the logos.

Enjoy the season, fans!!