Monday, August 12, 2013

The Wit 'N' Wisdom O' Doghouse Riley

As mentioned here, we've been slowly reconstructing what little of our archives survived the Great Hack Attack of 2010, and this weekend I went back through some of those old posts and grabbed a random sampling of bon mots and pensées from our friend, the late, great Douglas M. Case, better known around here as Doghouse Riley:

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Jesus, think what these people would be like without the humanizing effect of Christianity.
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Max Boot: Bob Novak without the good sources.
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On Jonah Goldberg:  Let’s imagine for a moment that instead of being a professional load, Jonah were a trumpeter. Could anyone then explain how he’d been releasing albums for over ten years without ever hitting a single note?
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If attending church only at Easter raises questions about the validity of one’s faith it’s time for the Janice Shaw Crouses to acknowledge that this country is 20% Christian, tops. And if we throw in people whose parents were insufficiently rigorous in their church attendance it’s probably more like 15%. Goddam vocal minorities, always clamoring for special treatment.
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What, really, is to be done about the Cornerites? Apart from Derb and KLo–unless I’m forgetting somebody–they’re probably all something less than certifiable, but I’ll be goddamed if there’s a one of them who, were he my roommate, wouldn’t cause me to hide all the medicines and cutlery.
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Look at [Mike Adams'] cv, fer chrissakes: associate’s degree from San Jacinto College, BA and masters from Mississippi State (Motto: Our Degrees Are Now Recognized In Alabama!), all in Applied Time Wasting psychology, doctorate in criminology, chair in criminology at a community college where he spends his time arguing with student groups and conducting strategy sessions with the Young Republicans’ Magnifying Glass Club out at the big anthill every sunny afternoon. Anything, I suppose, to avoid going home while the wife is awake. It positively screams “If I’d caught a few breaks I could have been Jeffrey Dahmer”, don’t it?
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“Postive expectation” is a measure of a bet’s ratio to the total pot multiplied by the odds of winning. So if you’re facing a $10 raise for a $20 pot, and your expectation of winning is even, you’d make the bet because you win $20 half the time and lose only $10 the other half. Of course, for every positive expectation there’s an equal and opposite negative expectation, and that doesn’t count your ability to estimate the chances of winning, or the rake, but then I’ve never yet met a(n amateur) gambler who didn’t tell you how much in won in Vegas while leaving out what he spent to get it. It’s the triumph of hope over mathematics, which is why schools hold bake sales and bookies don’t.
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On Michael Reagan:  Like adoptive father, like son, I guess. Just as Ronnie fearlessly imagined that trees caused pollution and “only a theory” was some sort of put-down of Darwinism, so does Michael rise to defend a language he knows nothing about. English is the greatest borrowing language on earth. Over half our common words come from somewhere other than Anglo-Saxon. If you put ketchup on the fried potatoes you eat on your sofa while watching sports, and at the half you take the scraps to the garbage, you might say a quick word of thanks to, respectively, the Chinese, Haitians, Arabians, Normans, Frisians, Old Norse, and Italians, and for that matter to the Dutch and Germans for quick, word, and thanks. It’s hardly surprising that it’s people like Reagan, who want no part of integrating Hispanic-speakers into the culture, who complain about language skills. And for my money, the biggest threat English faces these days is idiots who give no thought to our cherished notions of accuracy.
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Nothin’ beats the smell of cynical faux-capitulation to an artificial groundswell of manufactured opinion first thing in the morning, does it?
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I do invite everyone to join this year in the Third Annual Informal Audit of Church Nativity Scenes, which tallies occurances of the sacred relic which is so goddam crucial to proper observance of the holiest day on the Christian calendar they can demand tax monies be spent to rub other peoples’ noses in it, but don’t bother actually putting the damn things up ourselves. 

Last year, if memory serves, I counted three creches in my survey of fifty churches, and two of those were on private property I passed along the way. 

Survey takers should note the presence of light-up Magi, signifying textual illiteracy over and above the couldn’t-possibly-have-happened-that-way Nativity tale, and (I’m assuming this applies only to private displays) the presence of Santy, red-bulb-nosed reindeer, or other concurrent Christmas kitsch in the same display.
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The career of Pat Boone is more interesting than that. Okay, not interesting–maybe curious is the right word. He had an eight-year career followed by a forty-five year non-career, which must be some sort of record. When the whole “Teen idol/way for white Christians to dig race records” thing was killed by the British invasion (justifiable homicide) he just switched to being a professional Christian. Genius, really, no matter who’s actually behind it; after all, we aren’t talking about Bobby Rydell these days. 

Then he managed to become the only celebrity endorser in the long and storied history of snake oil sales in this country to actually get sued and lose, and he blamed the company without bothering to mention he owned it. Way ahead of his time.

And then came Heavy Metal Pat, which was a pretty good joke for about thirty seconds, and goofy rather than annoying after that, until the flock turned on him for that leather jumpsuit, after which, instead of saying, “Fuck you if you can’t take a joke,” he caved,which made the whole thing utterly inexplicable. But Pat knew his audience, and he knew it wasn’t metal. (Interesting that Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert were granted more leeway than Pat.) 

So now he’s writing cranky Letters to the Editor in his dotage, and we’re really left to ask if that’s the real Pat, or if we’ve been treated to the longest case of incipient Norma Desmonditis ever.
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[on the subject of the Save Christmas in Massachusetts guys, who once proudly trolled our comment threads] 
Generalissimo Marley,
Apologies for interrupting that endless Davey and Goliath tape loop in your head, sir, but I thought you should be made aware of the fact that while it’s possible to pull off such an illustrious campaign as yours against Wal*Mart, the reason is they don’t give a shit about anything except sales, and Wal*Mart is particularly vulnerable to the inbred mouth-breather demo that is Fox News stock in trade. (You’ll forgive the rough language, sir, but it is wartime.)

Before attacking the education establishment, sir, you might want to consider that it will be fairly clear to the enemy that the Generalissimo and his troops have never had any use for its products, rendering a boycott useless.
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It’s Catch-22 for these people. If they were savvy enough to realize how poorly they’ve been led for 25 years they’d be smart enough not to be fundies, or at least to drop their foolish, smell-my-farts, read-my-commandments agenda. God knows, you should pardon the expression, there’s at least as much pent-up acrimony among our 2000 Protestant sects as between Christians and pagans. More, no doubt, since their differences are fueled by metaphysical certainties, while most pagans happily live and let live with Christianity when it’s not trying to muscle everyone else aside.

The parochial school movement is 150 years old. It didn’t come about because atheistswere oppressing Catholics, and it sure didn’t come about because Protestants gladly shared tax money with schools featuring other religious doctrines. Pushing Jesus into the political debate assured one thing: that one day the Savior was going to lose His majority.
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Bush declared last night that “victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship”

Right. This one’ll be on an aircraft carrier, and it’ll come at the beginning instead of the end.
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Y’know, I’ve set aside a jar of formaldehyde on the off chance I’ll live long enough to see his brain offered on eBay.

We need to appreciate Jonah for what he is: a paragon of wingnut educational impulses dating to the early 60s. It’s not just that he’s remarkably lazy; it’s that this laziness is completely in the service of that transplanted Soviet Heroic school of history, public affairs, and the Arts which produces nothing but so infects our public discourse that our school history texts are one-third bunkum and half omission. Seriously. It’s enough for Jonah that he can recap the pro-Vietnam war arguments he was drilled on as a child for him to claim to be offering us lessons from History. Odds are good he’ll deliver an obsequy or two to the well-respected Martin in the next few days, but he has less understanding of the Civil Rights Movement than you could teach a parrot. Everything’s a moral outrage because that’s the single, unfletched arrow in his quiver, unless you count that light sabre with the dead AAAs.

If I had demonstrated at 13 the sort of unrestrained ignorance of WWII, or the Great Depression (both further from me than the 60s, let alone the 80s, are from Jonah) that the muddle-aged Goldberg does about events in his recent past I’d have flunked out of junior high.
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Oh, to have been inspired by such a professor in my own sad student days, one who realized “that Mein Kampf was an example of propaganda that relied on logical fallacies”! All they ever told me about was Hitler’s mediocre footnoting.
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I’m gonna have to finagle a promotional copy of this thing ["Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys"]. It’s just about my favorite topic in American political life–not “how” these people “became” “conservative”, but how the old 60s and 70s itinerant church-basement speaker (“I used to be a hippie/drug dealer/Satanist”) routine morphed directly into this idiocy and remained saleable.

I’m 53, older than most of those people. I still had a learner’s permit when the 60s ended. For a lot of them the era of “Boomer” political and social upheaval (mostly led and achieved by non-Boomers) is merely the era of Freely Pooping in your Drawers, and they’ve displayed precious little interest in getting the history right since then. Their exposure to The Left amounts to watching Charlie’s Angels first-run and having long-haired dope smokers steal their lunch money.

David Brooks (born 1961) touts his Road to Damascus moment at regular intervals, but is there really any doubt he was Alex Keaton, not Alex Chilton?
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Correct me if I’m wrong–I was educated in a previous century–but shouldn’t someone who “specializes” in Christian worldview be, like, aware, if not fully conversant, with the fact that something on the order of 50% of Christians in this country would strongly dispute that characterization of gender roles? I mean, you’re a specialist. You should acquire the basic knowledge before moving on. If I’m riding an elevator with a plastic surgeon and I have a heart attack, I hope he’d start CPR, not an emergency liposuction.
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Y’know, every comment I leave here anymore winds up in moderation. And I never use scatological language or imagery, so it really blows donkeys.
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Helmut Monotreme said...

Thanks for this, Doghouse Riley's death hit me harder than those of some people I've actually met. I don't know when I am going to remove Bats Left/Throws Right from my bookmarks, The good stuff there isn't going away anytime soon, but it's a fresh reminder of his absence, every time I absent-mindedly click on it, to see what he has to say about some new political mess.

Bob said...

I can't bring myself to delete the bookmark either, so I've been reading his archives.

Scott Supak said...

I find it odd that there haven't been more tributes like this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I discovered Doghouse in your comments back in 04, and have been reading him ever since. I still cannot believe he is gone.

R. Porrofatto said...

Thanks for these; here's hoping there are still more to come. I never missed a word of Doghouse's blog-essays, and I still can't believe he's gone, either. One thing I've always been curious about: I know plenty of funny, brilliant people who are not professional writers, but few if any could match Doghouse's ability to craft such wonderful, fluid sentences and paragraphs, object lessons in wit, construction, and le mot juste. Does anyone know if he was a professional writer at any time in his life?

heydave said...

Nicely said, Mr. Riley, nicely said.


toma said...

Thanks so much for the post. Time well spent.

Doc Logan said...

I've been a reader of World O' Crap since the Salon days, and one of the reasons I never commented until recently was the strength of the commenting community, most especially including Doghouse Riley. It's an all star lineup here, and I had doubts as to whether I could cut it.

The late Mr. Case left us much brilliance, and thanks to Scott for showcasing it.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

"Before attacking the education establishment, sir, you might want to consider that it will be fairly clear to the enemy that the Generalissimo and his troops have never had any use for its products, rendering a boycott useless."

Had my Nannie (maternal grandmother), a public-school teacher for 43 busting-her-flat-ass years, largely without air-conditioning AND partially without indoor plumbing, had lived to read that phrase from Mr. Riley, she'd have GUFFAWED and squealed with delight. Considering that she was a very VERY dry wit who only rarely cracked a smile but could eviscerate damned near ANYBODY with SPOT-ON mimicry --- I think that Doghouse would've taken it as high praise. I sure as hell would.

Bush declared last night that “victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship”

Right. This one’ll be on an aircraft carrier, and it’ll come at the beginning instead of the end.
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**WHAMMO!!!!!! I hope that Dumbya AND his closet-hiding buddy Karl Rove BOTH felt that RIGHT IN THEIR THIMBLE-SIZED CODPIECES!!!!!!

*sigh* Ohhh, thank you, Scott. That was wunnerful.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Fuckin' HTML. I hate you, too, you fucking 111111s and 000000s.

Weird Dave said...

That was depressing. Not because of what he wrote, but because he won't be writing any more.

I have said it before but truly, Dog you will be missed.

Thanks Scott.

Woodrowfan said...

I really liked his posts about dealing with his elderly Mother, who suffered from dementia. My Mom is slowly moving down that same road and his posts about dealing with it meant a lot to me.

D. Sidhe said...

Yeah, I keep clicking on his bookmark too, and getting depressed when I realize I've done it. But, there's the old stuff to read, which somehow helps a bit.

Thanks for putting this together, Scott.Picking a "best of" that didn't include basically everything he ever said must have been challenging.

Even his casual toss-off remarks were wonderful, as when he tagged Doug Giles as "Our Lady of Do Not Block Dumpster".

God, the man was hilarious. I must have proposed to him a dozen times on the strength of his writing alone. Obviously I could never compete with his equally witty wife, but he did graciously allow me to become his Official Stalker, which was almost as good.

Losing your partner is devastating. It won't help, but I hope she knows how much he meant to everyone who knew him.

Scott said...

D: Frankly, I didn't know what to choose, since it was all great, so I finally defaulted to picking relatively self-contained comments which didn't require a lot of context. But there are plenty more (I haven't even finished rebuilding the archive, so some I haven't even found yet) and I'll probably make this an occasional series.

I've been worried about his wife too. It's heartbreaking to think back on all those "Fun With Monogamy" posts.

culuriel said...

I keep forgetting he's gone and clicking on his bookmark. We need a proper edition of all his best blogs and comments.