Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy birthday, James Joyce. Other people remember it's Groundhog Day. Every year I remember February 2 is James Joyce's birthday. It was an important day to him. He arranged to have several of his books published on this day. He was an important writer for me, beginning with the day in high school when a renegade nun slipped me a forbidden copy of A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man. His language, his legend became touchstones for me, unfortunately in some respects, throughout college and well into my 20s. Richard Ellman's biography of Joyce went everywhere I did. I still have a hefty Joyce collection. So for years I celebrated his birthday, often with some stout and an Irish whiskey (or two.) Once when I was doing so at a bar during my exile in Greensburg--I was also reading a paperback copy of one of his books--an astonished young man I didn't know expressed his astonishment. He couldn't believe there was actually someone else there who knew it was Joyce's birthday, or cared. He had to be halfway in shock. That's JJ's gift to all of us, I guess, even now that more people celebrate Bloomsday than have ever read Ulysses. Painting by Joel Issacson.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Again, it wasn't pretty. The Steelers couldn't punch it in close to the goal line. Both the offense and defense ran hot and cold. And it sure wasn't easy, but it was true to their pattern: one amazing defensive play--in this case, an interception and the longest run for a touchdown in Super Bowl history--and a last minute drive engineered by Big Ben for a touchdown. Santonio Holmes got the MVP and he made stellar catches, but the Most Valuable Player was Big Ben. Steelers 27-23. (Odd, but I noted last night when I checked the long list of ESPN predictors, the chosen winner most often had 27 points.) So the Pittsburgh Steelers are world champions for the sixth time, more than any other team. Owner Dan Rooney thanked President Obama (who predicted the Steelers would win in a close one) and Steeler Nation. Big Ben thanked his offensive line.