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Friday, January 23, 2009

Emptying Out the Shelf

You can always tell when a best-selling author is just offered too much money to put out a book. They release some sort of "compilation" of "previously unreleased materials" most of which, like the deleted scenes on a DVD, were withheld from public consumption for good reason.

I also am not feeling the whole "new material" thing right now, and I also like the idea of having some of my better writing samples up on the blog, so here's one of my favorite Viewpoint Columns, and the only one to ever receive a letter in response. Yep, one year of wracking my brains trying to come up with column ideas, and one letter in return. Clearly it was all worth it.

Viewpoint #5

I've noticed that the Viewpoint section has gotten rather stale lately. I yearn for the glory days when we debated so vigorously lyric changes and hypothetical reactions to unlikely football victories. Unfortunately, it's a little too early for the annual spring dust-ups, the unholy trinity of Vagina Monologues, meatless Fridays, and how the Keenan Revue is oh my God the most offensive thing ever. Did you hear they made fun of Saint Mary's?

Let's work together to break this dull, plodding train of unoriginal objections. My part in this is simple, over the next 700 words or so I plan to take all manner of debatable positions on ridiculous issues. I will occasionally, as is my privilege as a columnist, use questionable logic and I reserve the right to resort to demagoguery.

Where do you come in, gentle readers? Why you must respond with equal vitriol, and even less reliance on logic, of course! I want you to flood the inbox of my editor with strongly worded pleas for reason, while demonstrating none yourself. If you think my positions too absurd for discussion on the editorial page, just remember this: There's a freshman out there somewhere composing a letter stating that her class should be referred to as "freshpeople" in order to be more inclusive.

There is something in here for everyone to argue about: music-lovers, sports fans, and people of all majors. I swear that I strongly believe in at least half of these statements, and that I am willing to fake it on the rest. Do your worst, Notre Dame!

I believe that Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is beyond question the greatest of all 19th-century British epistolary horror novels. "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" backers, I welcome your disdain.

The biggest fault to be found with Charlie Weis isn't arrogance, foul language or occasionally questionable play-calling. It is his taste in music. I'm about as New Jersey as they come, but I can't stand Bon Jovi, and the next time I respect someone after hearing that they love "Living on a Prayer" will be the first.

"Mickey's Christmas Carol" is the best version ever made of the Dickens story. Scrooge McDuck is much more convincing in the Ebenezer role than Alastair Sim.

Leibniz invented the calculus. And people who are truly refined only refer to it as "the calculus."

"Family Guy" is the most extensive work of plagiarism since Joe Biden's law school career.

Typing "plagiarism" into Wikipedia in order to make a moderately obscure reference is completely acceptable.

I removed a joke about Ron Paul from this column because I don't want to give Libertarians anything else to whine about.

People who complain about the low quality of American television but don't watch "30 Rock" are empty-headed pedants who do not have to be taken seriously.

Bacon, ham and pork are all wildly overrated meats. I eat so few pig products that I'm afraid I'll wind up on a government watch list.

It shames me to admit this after so many years of arguing for the positive aspects of the Hayes presidency, but Tilden really should have won in 1876.

Your favorite beer is swill. All beer is swill. ResLife, you know where to mail my check.

The worst result of the Cola Wars was that R.C. Cola got left in the dust because it was unable to lure Max Headroom or Michael Jackson to be its spokesman.

The best way to cure doubts of one's sanity is to spend 90 seconds in conversation with a Chicago sports fan.

The Cubs are not lovable. Your Rex Grossman jokes are not funny. You're not a Bulls fan if you can't name more than five post-Jordan players. Go away and try to figure out if Luc Longley or Bill Wennington is still playing.

I am as yet unsatisfied that Fermat's Last Theorem has been proved.

George Harrison had the best solo career of any of the Beatles. Anyone who cites "Imagine" while making the case for John Lennon is deafer than Beethoven.

It is okay to make deaf jokes about Beethoven because he's been dead for 180 years. The fact that he couldn't hear them anyway is only an ancillary consideration.

If your car leaked oil onto an easel, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and a Jackson Pollock original.

I certainly understand that colonialism was oppressive and exploitative, and that it is the right of every free people to name their own country. I just happen to think Rhodesia sounds better, and I don't think you have to so rudely correct me.

The same goes for Ceylon and British Honduras.

This column is an inane, irrelevant, and poorly thought out piece of tripe written at the last minute by a hack writer too ill-informed or lazy to form a cogent argument on one topic over 800 words.

Alright, get going on your responses, although you better not disagree with that last one. I happen to know it for a fact.

John Everett is a senior English major. He is thought to be somewhere between 21 and 45 years of age. He is armed only with a sharp wit and is considered cantankerous. If you have any information regarding his whereabouts, please contact jeverett@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your assertions regarding Mickey's Christmas Carol.

    Being from Chicago myself, I further concur with your evaluation of Chicago sports fans, which is one reason why I do not follow sports teams. I enjoy the sports, can't stand the fans.

    Well said, sir.

  2. Thank you for telling me things I should already know. You should work for the Huffington Post!