Academia Confirms: Martin Luther Loved Poop

Fo’ shizzle.

Danielle Mead Skjelver wants to tell you all about it. You can find an entire paper authored by her on Luther’s scatological expressions at German Hercules: The Impact of Scatology on the Definition of Martin Luther as a Man 1483-1546.

Apparently in medieval and Reformation Germany, poop jokes made you more manly.

Introduction: The writings of Martin Luther are among the most studied in the world. With words sublime, he gave the Christian God back to the common man, and yet Luther also spoke with shocking cruelty and vulgarity. Martin Luther’s employment of vulgarity, and specifically scatological vulgarity, in his writings and speech has drawn criticism, embarrassment, and accusations of psychological instability. But there was power in coarse language, for Martin Luther’s combative use of scatology defined him as a virile male in sixteenth century Germany. Brash and full of bravado, the scatology of Martin Luther lent him the appearance of fearlessness. Scatology in many societies is associated with the beer hall and the military, two bastions of masculinity (analogous to today’s ‘locker-room talk’). Even among elites in the Europe of Luther’s day, scatology was not unusual. This was particularly true in German speaking lands. In a time of strong proto-nationalism, his combative and demeaning brand of scatology, which was leveled against not only a spiritual but also a foreign enemy in the Papacy, secured for him the definition of virile German male. In spite of his emaciated condition from years of fasting, and later in life in spite of corpulence, and even in spite of his public proclamations that he proudly helped his wife wash diapers, Luther was ever the man in the eyes of both allies and enemies. His virility was largely the product of his aggressive use of scatological language, for in demeaning his enemies, Luther diminished their virility. His adversaries, however, vilified his character in such a way that their attacks emphasized Luther’s masculinity.

Will Swanson Fall Ill in 2012?

Ron Swanson is a hero to many. The mustachioed maven of meat and ‘merican manliness is, for me, the chief attraction of watching Parks & Recreation (notwithstanding the unrelenting cheery winsomeness of the Knope character).

A couple of posts back (James Bond’s Favorite Eggs) I embedded a video compilation of Swanson eating his Turf n’ Turf, which consisted of a 16oz t-bone and a 240z porterhouse, accompanied by scrambled eggs, whiskey, and a cigar. All of this, of course, consumed at once.

If you’re unfamiliar with the character, this clip sums him up.

Much has been made on the show of Swanson’s dietary and drinking habits. It’s become something of a cultural phenomenon with a momentum of its own. Season five of the show premieres in September of 2012, and I’m afraid the Ron Swansonness of Ron Swanson has reached a point where the writers of the show might feel they have to introduce some sort of health crisis into the character’s life.

That’s my prediction. Parks & Rec has made a lot of hay with Swanson’s unapologetic embrace of all things testosteroney; his only weakness is his women. Will they have the courage to continue writing his hilarious philosophies and appetites as they are, or will they make the man suffer a heart attack? I would be amazed if the artists behind the show managed to continue prioritizing their art over their stricken social consciences.

Actually, I have no idea if their social consciences are actually stricken. But come on, this is TV. Someone with enough power is going to make sure all the viewers know that if you sin against the god of living-as-long-as-possible, you must pay for your sins.

Sure hope I’m wrong.

Talking About Money Will Make You Dumb

Talking about money makes you dirty. Yep, I just said it. And please note, it doesn’t just make you feel dirty. It actually makes you dirty.

Now for all the qualifications.

If it’s your business, talk about it. Are you a department head talking to a comptroller? Talk about it. Are you a husband talking to a wife? Go ahead. Are you trying to convince an acquaintance to invest in your company? Do it.

If it’s not your business, stay away.  And don’t try any of that “Those who won’t talk about money won’t make any money” schtuff I ran across as I googled away in preparation for this post. I’ve had frank conversations about money with friends…when we were talking about going into business together. It might even be a very casual conversation, money talk doesn’t have to be stressful, but it does have to be…

*cue drumroll*

…one of my favorite concepts ever! Money talk has to be modest!

I don’t care if you think my wife is hot. In fact, I’ll probably be pleased. It might even have become obvious over the course of our friendship that you thought so. And everything would have been cool. If only you hadn’t said “Your wife is so hot” out loud. It got weird then.

I don’t care if you’ve figured out how much money I make. I have a certain kind of job, I have a particular house, I wear these clothes. Just don’t ever get explicit; don’t get immodest.

The other day I got caught up in a conversation about home buying. An acquaintance mentioned that he’d looked in our neighborhood, at a house, in fact, that is just one over from ours. I expressed interest. He then told me that he didn’t think much of the price of this home. Fine so far, although I was beginning to get uncomfortable. Then he dropped the bombshell. “I looked up how much they paid for that house. I even looked up what you paid for yours.”

I was absolutely flabbergasted.

I didn’t mind that he had the information. I would have told a friend if the friend was just trying to get a grasp on prices in my neighborhood and was just being clumsy. I probably wouldn’t have told this person if he’d asked me directly (saying something generic like “We got a pretty good deal” and moving on), but I wouldn’t have cared if he’d gotten the information from somewhere else. In fact, as soon as he’d said “I looked up how much they paid for that house” I knew he’d looked up the price of ours.

It was his telling me he’d looked that blew me away.

Modesty, people. Circumspection. The lack of it when talking about money makes you dirty. It’s the way you do it. You make it creepy, dude.

__________________________________________________________

I have family in Palm Beach County.

I hate going to Palm Beach County. Do you know why? It’s not because of Palm Beach. That’s where all the outrageously rich people live, both the sophisticated and the gauche, the nouveau and the vieux riche. The rich are like the poor: some are polite and some are rude, depending on what their mamas taught them. I hate going down there because of West Palm Beach. West Palm is where all the middle class South Floridians live their money-grubbing lives.

All these people want the same thing.

These people don’t even have the decency to drive gaudy convertibles and build houses with outrageous columns out front. No, these people commit a worse sin than that. They talk about money all the time.

__________________________________________________________

I now become the sort of man who accuses others of being bourgeois.

Obsession with money is what makes these people “middle class”. They are the perfect example of what bourgeois is. The problem is not lack of money, or lack of business success. The problem is concupiscence.

1bour·geois

1: of, relating to, or characteristic of the social middle class
2: marked by a concern for material interests and respectability and a tendency toward mediocrity
3: dominated by commercial and industrial interests :capitalistic

“Middle class…” “…a tendency toward mediocrity…”

There it is. Mediocrity. The word I’ve been looking for. The idea that will convince you to shut up and not talk about your money or mine.

Go make money. Lots of it. Save money. Lots of it. Tip less, coupon more, I don’t care. But don’t get caught up in talking and thinking about money all the time. It will crush the spark of genius in you that might have done great things…like write beautiful sonnets or explore new worlds or make lots of money. Talking about ideas (including business ideas) will make you smart; talking about money will make you dumb.

Men who think about and talk about women every waking hour cannot write love poetry or find true love. Those who think about and talk about money all the time only ever see that they don’t have enough, and they never will have enough.

Men who are openly lustful make the women around them uncomfortable; the women feel judged and violated. Those whose minds and mouths are always on their money make their friends feel judged and violated.

That is why it’s rude to talk about money. And if you insist on being asininely Randian about this, then I will advise you that your own self-interest will be best served if you close your mouth, pour yourself a lemonade, and open a nice book of sonnets. You might not get richer, but you’ll feel richer. And maybe, just maybe, the new sonnet-reading you will be able to vault himself out of mediocrity with a soulful bounding leap.

Colorectal Screening: Will I Get Behind It?

There are two billboards that I drive by regularly which have achieved their goal of raising (at least my) awareness of colon cancer and the need to screen.

I’d be curious to see studies into the success of these campaigns, since I find that while they make me think about screening, they’re sort of strengthening my resolve to hold out until the last minute.

Mind you, I’m not endorsing that. I’m just saying. At some point in the next several years the original integrity of the posterior opening to my alimentary canal will be violated by a beneficent finger. I do not look forward to that day, but like so many unpleasant tasks that I can do little to plan for or affect, I do better just waking up one morning and deciding to do it.

The longer I have to think about it, the more likely I am to chicken out. I’d be more likely to respond positively if the doctor said, “Hey, while you’re here, why not give this a go?” than to a cheerful receptionist saying “Mr. Swait, why don’t we schedule a screening for three months from now?”

And I have years to stew over this.

The billboards feature two scary things. The scary slogan: “Colon Screening: Get Behind It”. “Get Behind It”?!??! Are you serious?! I mean, that’s cute and all, but I imagine that this sort of campaign would do better to stop short of creating in men “bend over” visualizations.

And then there’s the scary logo: an upside down heart…a butt. Love your colon.

Oh, man. All that innocuous-looking little blue butt makes me think of is uncomfortable fingers. I don’t think I will talk to my doctor.

Of course, that’s easy to say now. We’ll see what’s up in a few years.

66-Year-Old Considers Retiring From Rugby

The other day a couple of the lads from my rugby club and I were sitting on the bleachers having a pre-practice pint and talking about phasing it back a little bit. My two compatriots were right at the 40-year mark and were talking about coaching more and playing less; I knew I wasn’t too far behind. I’ve got a few more good years in me, but I’m not confident my knees can carry my weight around for as long as I’d like.

I guess that with that defeatist attitude I’m toast already. Because this hardcore dude pictured to the left, a 66-year-old truck driver who plays flanker for a club in New Zealand at a similar level to mine, is thinking that maybe it might be time to hang it up. Maybe.

Here’s the story.

After 48 seasons of senior rugby, sometimes playing with the grandsons of old team-mates, the 66-year-old reckons he has had a reasonable trot in the game and is considering making this his last season as a flanker for the Southern United Cavaliers, who sit mid-table in the Waikato senior second division (senior reserve) competition.

“It’s starting to get to the stage now where the pain for the rest of the week is not worth the 80 minutes. It must be coming to a close soon but I wouldn’t like to say exactly when.”