- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

Ice bowl
"Over the course of a 16-game season, an avid fan of the National Football League typically sees several dozen serious injuries. This is to be expected in a game that features 300-pound men running at one another at full speed like battering bighorns on the Animal Planet.
"But one thing these fans have never seen is a cold-weather Super Bowl. A 1966 NFL rule prohibits the league from awarding outdoor Super Bowls to cities where the mean temperature at game time is below 50 degrees. True, the NFL has lots of stupid rules banning loose socks and untucked shirts, for example. But for a league that prides itself as the toughest of the tough, perhaps no stipulation is sillier than the one requiring a warm-weather or indoor championship.
"Ask anyone to name the most memorable professional football championship, and nearly everyone will cite the 'Ice Bowl,' the 1967 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Game temperature was 13 degrees below zero and the wind chill, 46 below but the stadium was filled. Even casual football fans can recall Packer coach Vince Lombardi nervously pacing the sidelines, each exhalation as visible as a thick puff of cigar smoke."
Stephen F. Hayes, writing on "Weather or not," Thursday in the Weekly Standard Online at www.weeklystandard.com

Clergy and laity
"There is something deeply tragic in the way the contemporary Church has gradually stripped itself of much of its traditional asceticism, leaving only a few craggy remnants of this vanished culture silhouetted against the sky. Of these lonely remains, surely the most incongruous is clerical celibacy. Until the Church restores the supporting superstructure of her ascetical tradition, clerical celibacy will remain a fundamentally meaningless and even dangerous relic of a past long gone.
"It is only because of the loss of this general ecclesial culture that the loss of the more specific culture is so serious.
"In short, the laity cannot justly complain that their priests do not keep the law of celibacy while at the same time demanding that they themselves be subject to no ascetic discipline. Until the laity begins to accept the need to fast, to be mindful of what we wear, how we speak, how we relate to each other there is no hope that the clergy will find the strength to do so. Only a Church of mystics can realistically expect their clergy to be saints."
Byzantine Catholic monk Maximos Davies, writing on "Celibacy in Context," in the December issue of First Things

Pretty, not sexy
"Within minutes of People magazine's announcement that Ben Affleck is this year's 'sexiest man alive,' e-mail outrage flooded my in box.
"I'm sorry, People, and no disrespect to J.Lo (his fiancee, Jennifer Lopez), but Ben Affleck is not sexy. Ben Affleck is tall, buff, inoffensive, possibly charming, totally all-American. But from 'Pearl Harbor,' where he played Sgt. Square Jaw, to 'Armageddon,' where he played Capt. Cleft Chin, the guy is as far from Take Me Now as any Teflon god in recent American cinema. Is he pretty? Sure, in an 'I can't remember what he looks like when he leaves the screen' kind of way. If anything, he's That Guy, the one outsider girls want because he's so phenomenally mediocre.
"Perhaps there's someone else smoldering under Affleck's vanilla multiplex persona. Maybe he's really a dangerous indie stud underneath it all, the ultimate subversive.
"But I think the big-budget roles are the real Affleck. There's always the jingoistic attempt at macho, but in the end he's a bland American everyman.
"Maybe that's supposed to be sexy now that we're going off to war. But I'm not buying that. If Ben Affleck is sexy, then the terrorists have won."
Sheerly Avni, writing on "Ben Affleck sexy?" on Thursday in Salon at www.salon.com


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