I don’t care what anybody says; I’m going to call the new Pope “Joey Ratz” until I get tired of it. This is one side effect of having “The Sopranos” on on-demand cable.
Oy, but it’s going to be a long day. I can feel it already, and it’s barely begun. Last night’s rowing class hit new levels of torture, and the teacher said the real pain lies ahead. I was physically exhausted in that way that makes it hard to sleep, which means I pushed too hard, but after my sedentary winter, it felt good to push. Until it didn’t, alas. My form still needs work, in case you’re interested. Sure you are.
A long, grueling day is probably payback for yesterday, which was a beautiful, non-grueling one, topped by a return to Ann Arbor. I asserted alumni privilege to attend a seminar at Wallace House with none other than Susan Orlean, who is in the very select and small group of journalists to be portrayed by a fabulously beautiful Hollywood actor. Her talk was very good and, like all W.H. events, off the record, so I can’t repeat her very funny anecdote about what it was like to read the “Adaptation” script for the first time. If you ever run into her, ask her to tell it.
This is the last week of this year’s fellowship, and the current class had the look I expected — still cheery, but with a slowly dawning realization that time advances in tidy 24-hour segments, and midnight is approaching, and the coach is about to turn back into a pumpkin. I should have told them what another alumnus told our class in October, back when we were still giddy: “Start the Prozac at the beginning of April. It takes about a month to kick in.”
So, then. Bloggage: Today is the first full day of the papacy of Joey Ratz, which means only a few hundred thousand words have been written about him so far. Before you bother to plow through the ignorant, uninformed ones, check out this profile of the man by John Allen, Vatican correspondent for National Catholic Reporter. Allen’s been turning up here and there on mainstream media in the last couple weeks, and strikes me as that rarity of rarity among religious journalists: A journalist. Level-headed, fair and free of ax/grindstone. Worth the time, if things like that interest you.
I’m frequently in agreement with James Wolcott, but not on his recommendation of “House” as “the best new series on TV.” I’ve been watching “House,” which I prefer to call by Heather Havrilesky’s suggestion, “Dr. Grumpy Pants,” mainly because it comes on after “American Idol” and by that hour, I’ve lost the impulse to look for something better. Wolcott’s right that Hugh Laurie does a great job with the lead role, but the rest of it makes me purely insane. I’m enough of a journalist that I have a limit to how much disbelief I can suspend, and “House” takes place in yet another Fantasy Hospital, where great-looking doctors sit around brainstorming on diagnoses, while Laurie fills his down time treating run-of-the-mill patients whose major complaint is they have this lump. Just once I want Laurie to say, “Your problem is, you have a subplot growing in your abdomen, and it needs to be removed.”
Last night was it for me. Now it’s HBO series, “Idol” and nothing else. I’d be better off writing.
One of the many tricks my dog can do — all of which involve barking — is this: If you say “bow wow wow,” he’ll bark back at you. Usually three times, which I think is really funny, but admittedly in a you-have-to-be-there sort of way:
“Bow wow wow!”
“Bark bark bark!”
So the other day I was walking through the house, singing “Atomic Dog,” which we all know has a great chorus: “Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay bow wow yippee yo yippee yay.” And my own atomic dog took up the call. I think “Atomic Dog” should be his theme song. Joel Achenbach asks, “What’s yours?” And yes, one of his commenters calls him on stealing ideas from Ally McBeal.
Sure, its frivolous and frothy, but once you’ve plowed through that Joey Ratz profile, you’re going to need it.