Friday, October 30, 2009

Maureen Playing Games

Oval Man Cave
Published: October 27, 2009

Since Maureen doesn't golf, she has this challenge:

Since the president is finally willing to let women in on the games, I offered up my own challenge: Scrabble. I’m curious about what X and Z words the smarty-pants Y chief executive can come up with.

There might even be $10 in it for you, Mr. President.
Never has an invitation for a board game looked sexier. I'm in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ratting on Ratzi

The Nuns’ Story
Published: October 24, 2009

There is no love lost between lifetime Catholic Maureen Dowd and the current Vicar of Christ in Rome.

In 2004, the cardinal who would become Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating “feminine values” like “listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.”

Nuns need to be even more sepia-toned for the ├╝ber-conservative pope, who was christened “God’s Rottweiler” for his enforcement of orthodoxy. Once a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth, Benedict pardoned a schismatic bishop who claimed that there was no Nazi gas chamber. He also argued on a trip to Africa that distributing condoms could make the AIDS crisis worse.
Her particular beef is with the treatment of nuns who dare question the increasingly reactionary orthodoxy of The Church.
The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.
She contrasts this Inquisition (and nobody ever expects the Spanish variety) with the rather light wrist-slapping sexually straying male clergy endure.
The church can be flexible, except with women. Laurie Goodstein, the Times’s religion writer, reported this month on an Illinois woman who had a son with a Franciscan priest. The church agreed to child support but was stingy with money for college and for doctors, once the son got terminal cancer. The priest had never been disciplined and was a pastor in Wisconsin — until he hit the front page. Even then, “Father” Willenborg was suspended only because the woman said that he had pressed her to have an abortion and that he had also had a sexual relationship with a teenager. (Maybe the church shouldn’t be so obdurate on condoms.)
She accurately assesses the recent overtures to ultra-conservative breakaway Anglicans as appeals to anti-feminism and homophobia.
As the Vatican is trying to wall off the “brides of Christ,” Cask of Amontillado style, it is welcoming extreme-right Anglicans into the Catholic Church — the ones who are disgruntled about female priests and openly gay bishops. Il Papa is even willing to bend Rome’s most doggedly held dogma, against married priests — as long as they’re clutching the Anglicans’ Book of Common Prayer.
In the age-old doctrinal debates over the celibacy of the priesthood and the ordination of women, Dowd clearly sees what the current Church position is.
Nuns were second-class citizens then and — 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are. The matter of women as priests is closed, a forbidden topic.
And that, ladies, is a dealbreaker.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dowd Defends Dave

In her column today, Maureen Dowd defends workplace hanky panky:

Office romances abound in life and art (“The Office” has its interoffice wedding this week), and sometimes young staffers are attracted to the boss, and vice versa.
Anybody shocked? I didn't think so. 'Nuff said.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dowd Call Kettle Brown

Maureen Dowd has decided enter the national writer sweepstakes to see who can eviscerate the latest Dan Brown thriller the worst. Her thesis is that rather than being a mind-blowing expose, The Lost Symbol pulls punches and doesn't go far enough.

His book is a desperate attempt to ingratiate himself with the Masons, rather than to interpret the bizarre Masonic rites and symbols that illuminate — as in Illuminati! — how the ultimate elite private boys’ club has conspired to shape the nation’s capital and Western civilization ever since George Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol building in a Masonic ritual wearing full Masonic regalia, including a darling little fringed satin apron. If the Masons are more intimidating than the Vatican, if Brown has now become part of their semiotic smoke screen, then all I can say is, God help us all.
Maureen does catalog the more salient features of Dan Brown's writing style, such as it is.
  • Over-reliance on italics.
Or as Brown, who is more addicted to italics than that other breathless Brown, Cosmo Girl Helen Gurley, might put it: What the hell?
  • Crappy romantic subplots.
Emotions are the one thing Dan Brown can’t seem to decipher. His sex scenes are encrypted. Even though Katherine seems like Langdon’s soul mate — she even knows how to weigh souls — their most torrid sex scenes consist of Robert winking at her or flashing her a lopsided grin.
  • Over-written metaphors
His metaphors and similes thud onto the page. ­Inoue Sato, an intelligence official investigating a disembodied hand bearing a Masonic ring and iconic tattoos that shows up in the Capitol Rotunda, “cruised the deep waters of the C.I.A. like a leviathan who surfaced only to devour its prey.” Insights don’t simply come to characters: “Then, like an oncoming truck, it hit her,” or “The revelation crashed over Langdon like a wave.” And just when our hero thinks it’s safe to go back in the water, another bad metaphor washes over him: “His head ached now, a roiling torrent of inter­connected thoughts.”
  • Adjectivitis.
The author has gotten rich and famous without attaining a speck of subtlety. A character never just stumbles into blackness. It must be inky blackness. A character never just listens in shock. He listens in utter shock.
  • Anti-climactic non-endings.
In the end, as with “The Da Vinci Code,” there’s no payoff. Brown should stop worrying about unfinished pyramids and worry about unfinished novels.
More curious is how Maureen Dowd drew the short straw on reviewing this review-proof turd. My guess is that no self-respecting critic would touch it. Besides, who knows more about bad overwrought writing than the style mistress of the Op/Ed page.