Dreams are really very puzzling things. Sometimes they seem to make all the sense in the world, and sometimes there is nothing about Great Aunt Marge chassing you on rollerskates that suggests intelligent design. Of course, there are people like Sigmund Froyd who believe that dreams spring from the unconscious. In allot of ways, that seems fairly reasonable. If Great Aunt Marge secretly terrified you as a child, a nightmare with her at your heels might spring from some reality. You might not even reaslize she ever scared you - and think it hillarious when you wake up - but lurking in your unconscious the image of her never quite rests in peace. I think we've all experienced that. But there's another kind of dream that can be quite fascinating; the kind of dream that just cannot have sprung from any experience conscious or unconscious. You wake and feel like you've walked in another world, spoken another language, or been part of something that seemed almost more real that reality. Tolkien apparently experienced a particularly vivid form of this, as did his son, Christopher. In the Notion Club Papers (a fascinating read if you ever get the chance) Tolkien dwells upon this in depth. Ransom, a philologist and proffessor at Oxford, experiments with his dreams, attempting to access a different timeperiod through them. The story was unfortunately never finished, and it almost seems like Tolkien could never make up his mind about the outcome of such an attempt. Practically, dreams definately cannot be used as a timemachine, transporting us physically back or forward, but the idea that we can access a different time or place in our dreams I find very interesting. Who knows? That faerie land may still be open to those who dream.


Merry Christmas gentle readers

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on, our troubles will be miles away.
Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.
Through the years We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.


The Good Neighbors

Anyone feel like traveling back into the 60's? Definitely not me...but it can have it's charms, if you're just watching it. I ran across an old tv show originally entitled "The Good Life", but rechristened "The Good Neighbors" when the Americans made off with it. Yes...the cloathing his tasteless, the hair frankly terrifying, but the humor is good. If you're looking for a lowkey show that will make you laugh 'til you cry... try the Good Neighbors. Man - that sounds like an advertisement. whoops.


Arriba, arriba...

It is hard to believe that the Spanish Civil War was a mere seventy years ago. That kind of passion, courage, and faith don't seem like virtues you could find much of anywhere in Europe; and to think that there are still people alive who remember a much different time--a time where these virtues were very much in evidence--is quite frankly remarkable. Spain today is a sorry mess of dying culture and futureless appeasement. It birth rate is a heartbreaking 1.1 (no country has ever pulled out of a death spiral like that) and the churches are nearly as empty as the cradles. The country that in former times spent an agonizing 770 years driving out Islamic invaders now kowtows to Islamic terrorists and meekly does their bidding. You would think that a bomb going off in your capital, killing innocent hundreds would provoke some kind of ire. But no...the reaction is instead to frantically try to smooth the ruffled feathers of killers who get upset when you curtail their activity. And this from the grandchildren of men and women who shed so much blood, sweat, and tears in what now seems a futile attempt to secure the future of their beloved country. But then when there are fewer and fewer children to think of, I guess it's not so surprising that they have ceased to think of the future and are trying desperately to just survive the present.


jelly beans

Apparently, people amount to just that, jelly beans. Check out this doozy of an article that appeared in USA Today on the 7th: “LATEST SHUTTLE CREW IS ONE OF DIVERSITY- NASA Corps still has ‘a ways to go’ The seven astronauts on space shuttle Discovery will be undistinguishable today as they wait for liftoff clad in bubble helmets and orange launch suits, but their gear will mask a milestone: For the first time, two African-Americans will rocket into space together. They’ll be joined on their 12-day flight by a half-Indian astronaut, making this the most diverse shuttle crew in recent years. The six crewmembers on September’s flight were white. The composition of Discovery’s crew illustrates how far NASA has come in building an astronaut corps that reflects America…. ‘We’ve made some great strides, and this mission is an example of that,’ says former astronaut Winston Scott, an African-American who is vice president of the Engineering Sciences Contract Group in Houston. ‘But clearly there is a ways to go.’” Hm. Is it just me, or should we be worrying more about people's qualifications rather than their skin color? I was raised to think that skin color was just as important as eye or hair color. (Unless you were really white to begin with...in which case you want to make sure your skin never turns red) Seriously; if we wanted a really diverse crew, we would send a contingent of righties as well as lefties, democrats and republicans, artists and engineers...and the mission quite possibly would end in a disaster. Who cares whether the astronauts are black or white or latino? Let's just make sure they know what they're doing, please. It would seem America does have a ways to go if we're still tolerating this kind of stupidity.


Lock your doors

Uh-oh. that just isn't a good idea...funny that he wants better treatment for his illness. What's wrong, Jack? Don't you want to die? Yeah. he makes me blood boil, creepy, evil old man. but anyway i have to go...watch a movie with my brother. I'll be back after the season. Merry Christmas.

Stardust Movie

More info on Neil Gaiman's first big-budget movie. Stardust has gone into preview screenings for test audiences and has been getting sweet reviews. Comparisons to Princess Bride abound, but it looks like it's kept that Jonathan Strangesque darkness that made the book so cool. Its about time we got to see a straight up, non-cheesy fairy story, set in Faery, and with some acting muscle behind it (Clarie Danes, Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O'Toole, etc) Read the Aint it Cool News Review here.


football feevah

I just realized that I am a total footbal fanatic. How did I come to this conclusion? Listen to this. Today I decided that the world's three major religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, can be seen in the light of...you got it, football. It's like this. Because Muslims are the farthest away from the truth and therefore, of the three, the least well informed on God, they are like a high school football team. They play (pray, hehe) on Fridays. Jews, however, are better off than the Muslims, and are like a college football team. College football teams are better than high school team; and they play on Saturdays (Jews go to synagogue on Saturdays...)! Lastly, you have the Christians; they are like professional footballs teams and play on Sundays. And are better than college or high school teams. At first I was highly amused. Then I thought...did I actually just come up with that?


Faeries Part II

All the flurry that surrounded my last post on the topic has set me musing on what we do and don't know about these legendary creatures. And I guess the final and only conclusion you can come to at this point is that we plain don't know. Which is why I've begun to dislike the angels&demons theory so strongly. It feels to me as though there's a fundamental human tendency to deny that there is anything in this world or universe that can't be explained. It's as though because God did not impart any revelation on faeries, they either cannot exist, or must exist within the context of what He has revealed. Nothing could be farther from the truth (in my opinion). In point of fact, if humans were the only intelligent life form (besides angels) that God created; if earth was the only habitable planet in the universe; if scientists do indeed end up mapping and charting the entire universe; I would be extremely disappointed. If there's no mystery or wonder left it does make everything a bit bleaker...kind of a "this is it?" feeling. So I'm going to discuss all that I know about faeries; material gleaned solely from myths, folktales, and legends. And while we're at it, I have to emphasize once again how important the element of human contact is in these stories. I have found in every myth cycle I've ever read, the gods that cultures came up with rarely had direct contact with humans. The one glaring exception to this is, of course, the Grecian mythology. There we have gods talking with, marrying, destroying, helping, and interfering with humans 24/7. However, the Greeks did not in fact have any traditions of faeries. The closest thing in the Greek tradition would be a nymph, nyad or dryad. Now take Norse, Irish, Native American, or Japanese mythology. Whenever the gods are the subject of a story, it is mainly to explain a natural phenomenon (lighting, seasons, weather, natural disasters, etc.) or develop a story cycle around them. Thus the Norse gods' activity is (as far as I've ever read) confined to themselves and Valhalla (aka home sweet home). The same holds true for the other cultures listed. What makes faeries different? Because in all stories concerning them, they are (for good or evil) interfering in human affairs. Now that we've come to this, it's time to talk about some pretty intriguing conclusions that we can try to draw from the spotty knowledge we have of them. A question I hear often is: do faeries have souls? Obviously no one has any idea, but the question is very interesting regarding what information we do have on them. Take for instance the fact that they are seldom if ever bound by the laws of nature or physics. They don't necessarily fall if thrown into the air (also known as HE CAN FLY!!!), they can fit into small spaces, grow and shrink at will, and do not age. This is all in direct contrast to humans, who live according to a very strict set of rules that involve gravity, aging, and physical matter. The same applies to the effects of time on these guys. To us, time is pretty much a constant; it moves at the same pace, is predictable, and can be charted. Not so with faeries. Read any story of a human spirited away to some faerie kingdom, and you find that one night dancing with the fair folk can translate into several hundred human years when the guest comes back to the human world. Even that isn't consistent; sometimes seven days over there is seven years here, and sometimes a single night there is three hundred years over here. For those of you who have read Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, her footnotes and statements on faeries are very much in the British and Irish tradition ( that being the tradition with the most information on the subject). Most telling ( I think ) in her book is the statement that humans are most rational and unmagical; while faeries are most irrational and magical. This would seem to be confirmed by any conversation recounted betweeen a faerie and a human. From a human point of view, most faeries' answers and/or question are random, schizophrenic, and suggestive of ADD. As far as anyone can tell, faeries just are not linear thinkers...which fits with everything else told about them: their, well, inhuman, view of death (which includes amusement, delight, and plain curiosity at times), the fact that the laws of nature by which we abide has little to no affect on them, the fact that their affections are so capricious and inexplicable, and their (what we call) magical prowess. Perhaps the best concept of "fairy land" is the Irish Tir nan-Og, which holds that the land in which the faeries live is sort of a parallel universe; such that we exist nearly on top of each other, with only brief and infrequent glimpses into this other world. It makes sense to me, at any rate. That somehow outside (in an indefinable way) this material world exists another one which we can't and couldn't explain or understand because in every fundamental way it is so radically different.

Dead White Guys

More evidence today of how much smarter people were in the past than they are today. I already had a general idea of this when I was a kid, and it only got reenforced further when I came to TAC (either Euclid was some sort of weird savant or he wasn't entirely human). But when something like the Antikythera Device came up, it only weirds me out even more. The Device was discovered in 1901 onboard a shipwreck near Greece. It's aparently from the 1st century BC. It's only within the last month that scientists have figured out what it does; track the planets, the sun, and even follow the irregular orbit of the moon, along with predicting eclipses. What the aztecs figured out with math, the Greeks built. There's other evidence besides this that the ancient world, especially in the late Roman empire, was on the verge of an industrial revolution, and with technology like this, I believe it. Examples of this kind of clockwork were never seen again until almost 1500 years later, when they had to be reinvented from scratch. I just can't wait till someone builds a replica.



I find it fairly monstrous that a forum (here if you're interested , but you can't log in if you're not a Seton student) that has no problem discussing the possibility of Satan founding Washington D.C.; that has no qualms about listing anyone except muslim terrorists (including big oil, neo conservatives, Jews, and a secret government organization that no one knows anything of...) as the real force behind 9/11; that this forum will then get such a laugh out of some poor soul trying to start a reasonable and intelligent debate about the existence of fairies. What is it about fairies that makes so called rational souls recoil in horror? We're Catholic, after all. I had thought that the Protestant ban on imagination was limited to just that, Protestants. Since when does the absence of proof (there has been no scientific documentation of fairies as a species) become proof (therefore fairies do not exist.)? I guess I just don't get the complete refusal to even talk about fairies existing hypothetically. As for me, I couldn't say for certain if I believe that fairies do exist currently or not. All I know is that at one point there had to be something, some reason for the stories to exist. How do you explain Native Americans, South Africans, English, Irish, Italians, Scandinavians, all coming up with the same idea: clever, crafty, dangerous, and spooky humanoid (uh-oh, here comes the Star Trek vocab) creatures? All I'm saying is let's please find a better explanation than "they were all strung out." Aha. It doesn't really matter to me that people don't tend to sight the "fair folk" these days. If we're speaking of their hypothetical existence, then it would be a stupid move on their part to come out of hiding, or hibernation, or wherever they are. Can you spell "labs"? Why don't we all come out of the "information" age induced stupor society seems to wrap around itself, and acknowledge that we will never know everything about the world we live in? "There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy."


oh yeah!

24 is coming back! I knew that. But I forgot. Anyway, here's the preview:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T184KcDHsn0&mode=related&searc have fun!

Casino Royale - 3 1/2 stars

Since Catherine is busy posting the serious stuff, it's time to get back to my post as reporter of all things vaugely geeky or entertaining. So Saturday night I went off and saw Casino Royale. In a theater. Which was nice, since I rarely get off campus, much less watch movies on a more than 12 inch screen, and was generally amazed at how shock-and-awe cool the movie was. The relaunch of the series seems to be taking a much more Batman Begins/Bourne Identity approach; everything's more gritty and down-to-earth. The gadgets are minimal; for the most part Bond is equipped with nothing but a tux and a silenced pistol, doing actual spying things. Daniel Craig, too, is now my favorite action hero apart from Jason Bourne. He plays a version of Bond you can take seriously as a character, and whom you root for instead of laugh at. The only elements of camp in sight were the periodic jabs at the old movies. Eva Green, as the new Bond girl, is not only inhumanly good looking, but a great actor too. And her character is barely slutty at all (relatively speaking.) The only weak point I could see was a somewhat disconcerting (for me) sense of overall pacing. I was sometimes unsure where I was in terms of the story arc, or even what Bond was supposed to do next. The long running time exacerbates this too, and some plot strings are left hanging. Even so, I didn't even notice the movie was over two hours long. Casino Royale gets my Best Action Movie of the Year So Far Award.


Black November

It's kind of hard to write about this blasted month. The election seems so far away now; I can honsetly say that the disappointment over Santorum has worn off. But then Texas lost (unjustly, too...there's the rub) to A&M. Setting the stage for Saturday night. Can't deny it...I shed my fair share of anguished tears. One of the first horrified thoughts that crossed my mind was, "God doesn't care about football after all!!!" Of course once rationality returned, I realized that He says "no" to His Irish children more often than any others. I just hope those hard earned (and painful I might add) miles gave some extra strength to Brady. He took a heck of a pounding that night.


some things never change

Take Russia for example. Russians always and forever will get a raw deal; it looks like if they're not being oppressed in one way or another some inutterable cosmic order will be unbalanced. Putin is about as scary as they come. This actually is quite startling, because Russia rarely has a ruler who isn't a terrifying human being. So he decides to bump off a female reporter (whose name I cannot spell, unfortunately) who was criticizing him and his policies too freely. And then Alexander Litvenenko decides to investigate her incredibly fishy death and...yeah. Saw this coming a mile away. After a short vacation, Russia's back to the days where you avert your eyes and mutter "I don't know" when someone asks you about your government.


and the kitchen sink

I feel like I would do almost anything for an Irish victory this Saturday. I did manage to do a little bit (besides assaulting Heaven with my .45 caliber prayers). I told God that I would run three miles (look, I'm no marathoner) every day until Saturday, INCLUDING Thanksgiving if He would guarantee a win for us. Then I thought that was a bit bold, told Him never mind, it was in His hands, but I was offering up all those extra miles anyway. Just so He knew. For those of you unfamiliar with my route, it's a wimpy two miles. So by Saturday, five more miles will be run for those guys. The scary thing is that I don't even go to ND; if this kind of desperate fervor is inspired by the mere presence of a relative at the institution...I tremble to think what will happen to me if I attend. All night mortification sessions, here I come! This is not to say that I lack confidence in Quinn, Samardjiza, Walker, Zbikowski, et al. Just being prepared. Speaking of all night mortification. Recently I had to read The Scarlet Letter for school. It was fairly decent as far as Nathaniel Hawthorne goes. But I was shocked that I was supposed to think Roger Chillingworth was the villain! Excuse me? Who's the slimy noodlehead who seduced and then abandoned Hester? Hmm? Who's the man who abandoned his child to the mercy of Puritan justice and left the woman he supposedly loved to rot in a hygenically unsound hut? The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale was not just a weak character who needed redemption, blah blah blah. Chillingworth was not deranged to desire justice (hey, maybe he did get sidetracked, but that still wasn't his fault) Dimmesdale is to blame for everything. He fathers Pearl, abandons her and her mother to the dogs, and then pretends to live a life of perfect sanctity, causing his parish to venerate him as a saint and the whole town to grant him obsequious adulation. Hester was made to do penance for her sin right away; Dimmesdale continued to increase his sin by his craven neglect of the mother and child and his despicable inablity to 'fess up. So what if he whips himself all night? So what if he fasts and abuses himself? In the long run, it doesn't take much moral courage to mortify yourself in the privacy of your closet if you don't intend to let the world know your guilt. Roger Chillingworth comes home to find his wife on public display for the sin of adultery with no man beside her to share the blame. I think it was his duty as a husband to locate the miserable worm who took advantage of his wife and bring said worm to justice. So he deduced Dimmesdale's guilt and then went insane, quite literally. And who's fault was that? Dimmesdale again! The fact that this prim and proper minister went about preaching on others' guilt and was held in high reverence by the community while Hester was reviled and treated with hatred and scorn turned Chillingworth's mind. As it would have many a stronger man, I'm sure. Chillingworth unfortunately decided Dimmesdale should go to hell and never repent; otherwise I would laud him as the one truly manly character in that wretched hole of a Puritan village. Dimmesdale makes a grand confession at the end...and dies. Typical melodrama on his part. Doesn't even live to clarify that he meant what he said; his diehard parishoners go on think he was the holiest pair of feet to walk the planet. Apparently they assumed he stood by Hester the Sinner to make a symbolic point. And no, he doesn't get off the hook because he died. He should have seen that one coming. At least Pearl became normal and presumably had a nice life; Chillingworth went died because his sole pastime (tormenting the tremorous toad) was gone. Hester left and then came back to continue her penance. Add to that the fact that Dimmesdale never was sorry ( he managed to convince Hester to live with him abroad...easy for him to say, nothing happened to him the first time) and you are left with the inevitable conclusion that Dimmesdale (figuratively speaking) can be safely added to my list of people-who-deserve-to-be-called-louses-and-thrown-out-of-windows. Just so you all know, I did run three miles on Monday, and again today. I feel quite helpful.


Bah, Picard.

Recently I completed my epic viewing quest: five seasons of Star Trek The Next Generation. Star Trek seldom fails to make me chuckle; at times I can't help guffawing. The main theme is not nearly as hilarious as the theme from the Original Series, but other than that, I enjoy TNG immensely. Except for one character. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (aka Patrick Stewart) is a thorn in my side. It's not that he's out of place because he actually can act. It's because he has such a vexing take on human history. I mean, he's supposed to be the resident archaeological buff on board, but apparently only on random alien moons. He reads Shakespeare and 40's whodunits, but honestly...that seems to be the extent of his Earth knowledge. As I'm from Earth, I resent his posturing, preachiness, and galling self-righteousness. (Uh-oh. I didn't think I was a Trekkie, but I'm starting to talk about this guy like he really existed.) What right has he to blandly talk about how savage humans used to be, how they even warred over "economic principles"...*cough cough, you mean communism?coughcough* (turd. that's like saying we fought Nazis because of their religious principles. saying we had a choice.) He assures visitors from the past that humans don't fight anymore, 1) because they've evolved -don't ask-, and 2) because humanity somehow eliminated all need for personal possessions and any want of any kind. go figure...they bred out Original Sin. I suppose his bad attitude has to do with the fact that there is absolutely no religion and a whole lot of boring and overstated agendas. But even if it's not his fault, every time he shows up (when I'm watching by myself...and that's 99% of the time) I chuck a pillow at the tv. Even so, I'm still pining for unwatched episodes. It's a sickness.



This was going to be a comment on Ben’s post, but then it got really big. So…first off, I have to admit, I have never read His Dark Materials; and I don’t intend to. Pullman’s probably a very good writer (Ben is seldom wrong about these things) but beyond that I have nothing good to say about him and only ill will to direct toward the movie coming out based on The Golden Compass. See, Philip Pullman takes pride of place on my list of people-who-deserve-to-be-called-louses-and-thrown-out-of-windows. He’s a vile lump of humanity and I would as soon smack him as set eyes upon him. Anyone who calls Tolkien an “imbecile” and “childish” I hold in contempt. And anyone who calls CS Lewis “wicked” and “dangerous” for children to read really should be thrown out a window. Pullman pleads guilty to both charges. If only for that I would thumb my nose at his books, but I did read a lengthy review in Crisis about his work and found myself grimly vindicated in my opinion of the man. Apparently the theme of his work is the evil of authority (the protagonists get to team up with Satan, lucky them). I even got to read the thrilling passage where said proragonists kill God. That was exciting. I am intrigued by the news that The Golden Compass is going up against Prince Caspian. I sincerely hope Narnia takes the boxoffice by storm and The Golden Compass goes belly up. I don’t think His Dark Materials is as popular a series in the US as it is in Great Britain; however, I have seen it on school bookshelves. Catholic school bookshelves at that. There was no Harry Potter in that library, which probably made them feel righteous. But I couldn’t find the Chronicles of Narnia in there either.


The Golden Compass

After much wrangling over a choice of directors, the movie The Golden Compass is finally getting underway. With the director of American Pie at the helm, things are looking bleak already, but this recently released still perks up my hope a bit. All the behind the scenes stuff I've seen look very neat, mostly because studios are realizing how much money these epic fantasy movies can make. Lyra is being played by an unknown, Dakota Blue Richards (that's right, a different Dakota), but Daniel Craig aka The New James Bond will be playing Lord Asriel, Nichole Kidman will be Mrs Coulter, and Eva Green will be the witch Serefina Pekkala. New Line was reported to be concerened at first with the series' blatant anti-God message, but it's still uncertain how much, if at all, those themes have been diluted. Pullman declared he was happy with the script though, so that might be evidence enough. On an ironic note, it appears the movie will be realsed in competion with Prince Caspian, which ought to prove to be very revealing, seeing as Pullman has pretty much anounced himself to be Lewis's antithesis on all matters moral and thematic. I'll probably end up seeing both. There isn't a whole lot to object to in The Golden Compass; things only get seriously loopy in The Amber Spyglass, and, taken strictly as a literary work, it's remakably well written. For more information on the His Dark Materials book trilogy, go to the Wiki page here. Sorry for the rather extended leave...I'll try to get more posts up here from now on. Unless I can't.


gee whiz

People are so rude these days. I realize it's hard to build a house quietly; the construction workers next to my house have been remarkably subdued up until now. I don't know what changed, but now they've upped the volume about 200%. One day it's just tap tap tapping on the beams...the next thing I know, I go out to get the mail and am greeting by the dulcet strains of WE ARE FAMILY!!!!!! I'VE GOT ALL MY SISTERS WITH ME!!!!!!!! I don't remember the disco era and count myself blessed. But I have a vague idea of what a disco move should look like and performed a few wild gyrations down the driveway (wouldn't have made it in Saturday Night Fever, but I tried) and achieved the desired effect. The music was silenced...whether the guy made a decision to get dinner or simply aghast by what he'd seen, I have no idea. And today they've learned that yelling is more productive than seeking out and speaking to. JOHN! YOU MEASURE THAT? YEAH!! CUT A COUPLE INCHES OFF! ugh. I'm to civilized to brandish my fist at them.


no pain, no gain...

...I guess. Patriots lost AGAIN. this time to an insignificant blip of a team. I feel like I'm finally becoming a seasoned fan, toughening up and saying, "There's always next week!" That, and the fact that New England is still top of the AFC East. Hope springs eternal. This looks promising for the Irish; I still hear predictions that they'll lose to USC...to which I say "bah!" (now my new favorite word) In other news, Michael Medved rocks my world. Too bad I don't know how to link to today's radioshow...such is the fate of the technologically impaired. Anyway. The topic was that Sir Elton John apparently thinks religion is more trouble than it's worth. Not terribly surprising, coming from a man who engages in a sin commonly repugnant to religious people. So of course there came the callers in droves, accusing organized religion of violence and hatred. Medved was really good on pointing out that Christianity at least, teaches that God does not hate any sinner, only the sin committed. One of the gay callers demanded to know where in the Bible it says that homosexuality is wrong. So out comes that tricky little verse in Leviticus where it is referred to as an abomination. Gay caller takes offense. Wants to know why Medved thinks he's an abomination. To which to intrepid Jew responds that said caller may be a mdoel citizen and great neighbor, but in this one part of his life, there is an abominable act. And no, we don't know if said caller is going to Hell, that's kind of up to God. Seems fairly obvious, but there are so many people who insist that the Church hates gays and sends them to Hell. Maybe when Jesus said "The poor you will always have with you" He meant the poor in mental faculties.

doom. and gloom.

I don't know how many of you watched the game last night. If you didn't...well. The Patriots lost. So, considering what my prophecy amounted to on Monday, I am going to change everything around. The Patriots lost on Sunday. They will lose again on Tuesday. Not the NFL team, needless to say; and I don't mean to say that Republicans = Patriots. Or that all Democrats are intrinsically unpatriotic. But the MSM will have won, and if they win...then whatever the antithesis of patriot is ( traitor dare we say?) will have won. No, gentle reader, these folks...these anchors and journalists and reporters that constitute the MSM are not patriots. It's harsh but true and has been true since...well, I would venture since Edward R. Murrow. They love America as a vague idea; but in practice, for whatever reason, they concentrate an absurd amount of effort into breaking her. This is not in reference to all exposes (how I wish I could find an accent key!); those are dashed useful on occasion. Probably more often than that. What I'm talking about is their silliness,their prissisness, self righteousness that lost us Vietnam (heck no, Ho Chi Minh didn't beat us. Walt Cronkite, hands down) and could lose us Iraq. What kind of media do we have when they pull out embeded reporters, not for the reporters' safety...but because they were too sympathetic to the troops? (Yes, OUR troops). Why don't they have the guts to wear American flags on their lapels? (what do you bet that if a Kofi Annan button was around, they'd stick it on...) These people are petty, and have been for a long time. So. I don't think things will go well come Tuesday...


Oh what the heck

Just to be ornery, I'm posting my own election prediction: Republicans keep both House and Senate. Seem farfetched? Well so am I. I guess I am not as sure as everyone else that America is that desperate for change. But I could be wrong. I am not very hopeful for the Patriots against the Colts. Not that I think Manning is better than Brady (perish the thought) but I don't have a lot of confidende in the Pat's defence. But then, the Colts' don't really have a stellar defence either.


...and the horse you rode in on.

So Law&Order's been advertising still more cases "ripped from the headlines". But the one that caught my eye was the celebrity who gets arrested for drunk driving. And then we get to see a clip of said celebrity getting in some woman's face and yelling " You're a Jew, aren't you?" (If it's any consolation, he didn't look a thing like Mel) At the time I didn't quite know what to say. Then I thought to myself...what is wrong with these people? To me, responsible human beings don't jump on another to sell a tv show. That's the action of rabidly starving wild animals, who need food. So if your writers are that desperate, it should tell you something. Like...maybe they should get a new job. Now to change the topic. I love Steve Hartman; he's funny, original, and pretty much always has a great story to tell. But tonight on CBS I was disappointed for the first time. He was covering illegal immigration, and a photo gallery that shows pictures illegal immigrants take crossing the border and pictures taken by the minute men trying to stop them. That's all well and good and interesting, but then why oh WHY did he (Hartman) then take sample pictures to prospective illegal immigrants? And ask them if they know that Americans don't want them to come? Will try to keep them out? Will discriminate against them? AIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry. Then the young girl looks at him and tells him that she knows Americans are afraid of them and will discriminate against them because of their color, but that doesn't matter because we're all equal. Ok. So we have another tear jerker, but missed the point entirely...which is that those mean Americans "don't want" Mexicans coming in ILLEGALLY. Yes, we love immigrants. Immigrants made this country what it is. But we also aren't terribly fond of people who break the law. Isn't that still alright? Sheesh. Immigration needs to reformed, though. It's ridiculously difficult to get into America. ( As a legal resident...to immigrate, in other words) Immigration has practically become our monument to useless paperwork and frustration (...yes, I mean bureaucracy)


Lugheads, guttersnipes, and THE PATRIOTS!!!!

My computer is behaving oddly, otherwise I would post the by now famous picture of some of our troops in Iraq holding up a sign...a plea for help, addressed to John Kerry. See here. I have to say, my initial reaction to the Massachusets senator's "botched joke" was complete disbelief. I mean to say; how stupid can you get? A week to go in the elections, and you want to start intimating that our troops are idiots? Not as stupid as you, you lughead... In further news, I have firmly come to the conclusion that journalists are, by in large, feckless, irresponsible guttersnipes. Now what? Oh, just the story that was aired on ABC, CBS, and NBC. About Iraq being oh so close to complete chaos. Complete with nifty chaos meter. All this fascinating information? Courtesy of the New York Times. What exactly they're trying to accomplish is beyond me. I'm trying to think of any way in which a story like that all over the MSM is going to help the situation...oh wait, the elections are next Tuesday, aren't they? However, we may end on a positive note. The Patriots played some wicked football on Monday (Minnesota was made to bite the dust, 31-7). No power in the 'verse can stop them.


At last a tirade

I haven't been able to have a really good tirade in a while, so here she blows. Recently, a couple of friends saw Flyboys and hated it. That's fine, war movies are not for all of us; however, these same two saw MI-III and loved it. On the surface, that seems normal; if historical war films aren't your cup of tea, maybe insane action flicks are. I liked both. But what got me was the criticisms of Flyboys: too long, so many stupid cliches, so predictable, the relationship between the rich white guy and the poor black guy was unbearable, so many times to groan...and I realized that if I were to make a critique of MI-III, all those things would be on the list. True, I was laughing wholeheartedly through my groans, and the final revelation about who the real bad guys were and what they were up to wasn't entirely expected. On the other hand, that same final revelation was so dumb that I forgot I didn't see it coming. Aha! Our government is evil and underhanded AGAIN and tries to frame poor Middle Eastern countries, selling them dirty bombs and the cleaning their clocks so that it can "do what it does best; clean up, infrastructure, democracy". Excuse me while I go throw up; I find treasonous statements unpalatable. Oh, and guess what...the white guy, is the bad guy, he was just framing that poor, righteous black man. Because he was black. Wow. See, the reason I would in most moods prefer the aforementioned war movie is because it is heroic without having to bash the mother country; there is romance without descending into gratuitous immorality (although that might have been different if they had cast Tom Cruise as the leading man...I think it's in his contract or something); and in some ways, totally new and non-cliched because it's a war movie that isn't screechingly anti-war. It chooses to celebrate heroic virtue, what are the odds. So, I liked MI-III and everything, but am sort of sad that it's more the mood the country finds itself in, instead of the other film. With that theme music, how can you resist...



Happy Halloween! Here's a goosebumpy Op-Ed article by Neil Gaiman from the New York Times, just for the occasion.


How long will this take?

The conflict in Darfur, Sudan, has been going on for three years. 2.5 million displaced and 200,000 dead people later, when is the United Nations going to wake up? Answer: never. It's not going to do anything, because it's against the very nature of the institution. This is the institution that "looked into" the "acts of a genocidal nature" in Rwanda twelve years ago. And did...nothing. This is the institution that half heartedly tried to help in Kosovo, and succeeded only in making the world's largest slum (relatively speaking). So, since it's pretty obvious that the UN will continue to do nothing until directly asked by the government ( kind of like Hitler asking them for help because all these Jews were being killed...) shouldn't someone, somewhere, be doing something? It seems that way. The US is sending pounds upon pounds of food, but is in an awkward position because the Sudanese government is giving the Washington information on al-Qaida. So it's tricky business for the folks down at Foggy Bottom; if I were running the world, my foreign policy might be a little more along the lines of...you're no longer in power here, but if you give us the information we want, you get to live. I wouldn't last long as a diplomat ( or is that doormat?) but at least something would get done. I just pray these suffering people don't continue to be killed and forgotten. The German people said "Ich wußte nicht" ( I didn't know) after World War II. What's today's excuse?



Well, the Notre Dame/Navy game stopped being exciting pretty quickly...but then, Brady probably improved his chances for a heisman at the same time. This was aired during the game; best commercial I've seen in a LONG time. I love our military.


Absurdity heaped on absurdity

This caught my attention while browsing likeawhatsit. I rarely talk about the issue of embryonic stem cell research because it is so fundamentally sick and disgusting that one would think it wouldn't pose much of a problem. But it does...and makes me think of this passage from Baruch: "(God) brought down upon us evils so great that there had not been done anywhere under heaven what has been done to Jerusalem...that one after another of us should eat the flesh of his son or of his daughter. He has made us...a reproach and a horror among all the nations round about to which the Lord has scattered us. We are brought low, not raised up..." Extinguishing the life of a tiny child so that your biological needs can be fulfilled; embryonic stem cell research is not much different from eating children. You just have to wonder why the cures brought about by adult stem cells are ignored in the general media frenzy over what might happen with embryonic stem cells is highlighted again and again. Then again, it's not that unbelievable. If you admit that embryos are children and cannot be tampered with, then the argument for abortion quickly evaporates into nothingness. Isn't it funny that women supposedly have a right to decide what to do with their body; their reproductive system cannot be regulated in any way by the government; but the general public allows its respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems to be regulated day in and day out? Smoking is not allowed in practically every building in the US. In New York, restaurants are not allowed to serve foods with trans fats in them; and printing nutritional information on food products theoretically serves the same purpose that posting ultasounds of babies on the walls of abortion clinics does...just letting you know what you're getting. Nurses in public schools are not allowed to give aspirin to children with headaches...if those same children want contraceptives, than all bets are off as the nurse doles them out. We can let the government regulate all this...but the reproductive system? Perish the thought. Because no matter what progressive teachers and radicals tried to tell you in the 60's, apparently sex isn't just like every other bodily urge. Every other bodily urge we attempt to control.


take a look

A picture's worth a thousand words. See the only country shrouded in darkness? That would be North Korea. The only little blip of light is Pyongyang...the period after "N" isn't another city. The difference between two countries, so alike in background and culture, right next to each other...it's astonishing.


I'm back

So the computer was giving me problems...now it's not. Time for random information. The Irish won...little closer than the blood pressure could have wished, but a win's a win. God Bless Samardzija's sticky fingers. The Patriots have emergerd victorious...over the Bills, so that's no big deal. But still. Here is your extremely strange video for the day. I didn't know that sharks could do that. But did YOU know that sharks only eat seven people a year? As opposed to the 200 people per annum who are slain by falling coconuts? And 300 a year that choke on ballpoint pens? And now for a moment of conversational whiplash: were you aware that we didn't lose a single battle in Vietnam? That we were in fact winning up the time of our abrupt departure? I gues I hadn't thought of it like that. Makes you want to clutch your head, close your eyes, and pretend the world makes sense...


Guests of the Ayatollah

Just recently finished Mark Bowden's excellent latest work Guests of the Ayatollah. It is funny to think there was a time when Americans were surprised and even startled to hear their country referred to as the Great Satan. I don't know what part I liked better; the Marines harassing the guards to the point where the line between captor and captive got a little blurry or when CIA Station Chief Tom Ahern was given a rope and told to beat his guard. See, they had tortured him earlier, and apparently, as a sign that Islam was pure and righteous, he was given the opportunity to do the same to his guard. His response? "We don't do stuff like that" And it couldn't be more perfect. It was very clear in the book that so many of the Iranian students who took over the embassy had no idea what America really was and what she stood for. For example: during one interrogation (or let's be honest...one tirade against the United States) the interrogator complained about America's unjust bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In response to that, the prisoner shrugged and said that they started it and we ended it. The interrogator was flummoxed and first wanted to know where this Pearl Harbor was and then was downright flabbergasted that the Japanese had bombed Hawaii. I'm afraid that this kind of selective ignorance is still extremely prevelant. But no need for you to be ignorant! Go read this book.


That was classy

I'm sure most of you have already heard about this, but just in case... What's up with politicians of late? Not only are they corrupt and power hungry, now they're stupid and childish too. Just what we needed to see before election day. In the Virginia race between George Allen and Jim Webb, it's degenerated into accusations about racist pranks. "You stuffed a deer head into an African American's mailbox!" "Did not! I mean, so did you!" "Did not! YOU did!" And so on and so forth, blah blah blah blah. Come on people, aren't we supposed to be talking about, oh, I don't know, the war? The economy? The crazy people with nukes who want to kill us? Isn't that the usual meat for debate? There are weird things going on all over the country. In New Jersey, Robert Menendez is embroiled in a huge scandal involving too much money and bribes and threats; from the tape they've got of Menendez's thug ordering a psychiatrist to hire Menendez's patron "or else" it would seem that they've got a minor mafia going on back there. And then of course there's the Mark Foley thing, and the Republican leadership spinning like weather cocks, trying to free themselves from blame. Sheesh. This will be a very strange November.


This is pretty fun

On trusted advice, I went and check this out. Basically, it's for people who like to make lists, and show their lists to other people who also like to make lists. But it's so much fun! You can compare you libraries with other folks' libraries, compare "author clouds" "tag clouds" and more; you can form a group or join one, talk about your books or get recommendations based on your library. I'm an addict.



The Patriots didn't play today. Yes, their biggest fan this side of the Mississippi forgot they had a bye this weekend. Want to know what's even weirder? The Irish didn't play this weekend either. The powers that be have conspired to make the weekend BORING. Oh well. I had to go to CCD this morning and sat through a class about mental figleaves. It would seem that the most important figure in the Garden of Eden story besides God was the figleaves with which Adam and Eve chose to garb themselves. It symbolizes, I suppose, how they were no longer protected, how they were ashamed...and this relates to our present state in the form of mental figleaves. If you're lost at this point, "mental figleaves" is just a overly creative way to say "vices". There. This class also went into how certain words are inherently mysterious....such as love, soul, God, Trinity, I and you. Here I have to disagree. "I" is the word most commonly understood by each and every human being. My 18 month old niece has grasped the meaning of the word "I" completely; she knows just what she means when she lunges for the apples. "I want one" All the philosophical word wangling makes heads spin and in my opinion accomplishes very little else. I know who and what I am. I am a creature composed of body and soul; while myself is not contained in any one part of my body, I am incomplete after death, when my body is not available anymore. I guess I just don't see what is the point of even more introspection; having an entire class wandering about musing on themselves and their state of being doesn't seem like a good idea to me.


too bad

Because yesterday was the 13th and a Friday, I was going to do a cool little piece on Franco; my reasoning was that all irrational people would be hiding in their closets and I would be speaking solely to intelligent beings. But the moment has passed. Until the next Friday the 13th. In the meantime, I am watching Gettysburg as promised and realizing that I never followed this movie like I thought I did when I was little. What was I doing? (Chamberlain's mustache is not listing yet...that I do remember) Here for your musing are some poll results I found interesting. Most intriguing was the result about choosing a candidate based on religion alone. I wonder why 83% said yes to a Catholic, since most Catholic politicians aren't, well, Catholic. I suppose there are more nominal Catholics in the country than I thought.



I forgot to tell the world what I thought about this movie, silly me. I LOVED it. At first I wasn't that thrilled with idea because let's face it...World War I? Gaaaah. But this film was so good; it showed that yes, trench warfare was incredibly hideous, and the destruction and death was made all the more horrific by its apparent pointlessness; but what was also shown was that heroic virtue and courage are timeless and can be applied to any situation. It was also really interesting...instead of focusing on trench warfare and the unbelievable death toll, it revealed the fascinating world of fighter pilots. Considering that the airplane had only recently been invented, I find it remarkable that it had so quickly become so indespensible. Looked cold...open air cockpits, yikes. Anyway. It was all very intriguing. And on top of that, it was just a ripping good story, great characters, sufficient humor, and all true. Besides, I love good war movies. In honor of my departed (gone to another state, for those of our uninformed readers) brother, I shall watch Gettysburg over the weekend. So. Go watch Flyboys if you can and revel in your inner patriotism, courage, and nobility. If you have trouble finding it (Flyboys...I'm assuming you're all well stocked in the virtues department) watch Band of Brother instead. And if you can't get ahold of that, watch Gettysburg over the weekend in spirit with me. Fortunately, the hatred of all things in military uniform has disappeared since the Vietnam era, so the populace of today greets our returning troops with enthusiasm and gratitude, thank God. Flyboys clearly illustrates that even if the cause does not meet with your criteria for support, many soldiers enlist out of love of their country...and nearly all posess a degree of courage and nobility that deserves even more widespread adulation.


*is ashamed*

I'm in an egregiously rotten mood. Well yes, you may say. The world is populated with crazy Communists and Muslims who are armed with nukes and want nothing so badly as our immediate and painful death. (Yeah, remember that whole Mutually Assured Destruction thing? I don't think it's going to work with these guys...) On top of that, politicians are as corrupt as they've ever been, as of now we are being ruled by nine tyrants nobody voted for (yes, that would be SCOTUS) and the media is saturated with immorality that everyone's supposed to lie down and accept. Alas, no. I am not unduly troubled by the above, though I should be. The particular thorn in my flesh is a housing project going on right outside my own house. I have tried to look at it in a positive light; after all, doesn't everybody need a place to live? Haven't I witnessed my married siblings search for houses and wished them luck? I do try to envision these new houses as future homes instead of aesthetically unsound structures. I try to imagine happy little families creating traditions and memories in a happy little home. But it's hard. All I can concentrate on right now is the fact that they've cut down a lot of trees, creating a large and highly unattractive brown spot; large machines and power tools drown out the normal quiet and/or pastoral birdsong; and the house that will go up ( one of four; the others are hard on its heels) will succesfully block a gorgeous view of the Cascades and surrounding foothills. And some of the others will just make the view out my window a whole lot less utopian. There. I shouldn't be so whiny, but misery is hard to foist upon me, and, well, these few houses have done it. Remarkable.



Terry Gilliams new movie Tideland should be out in limited US theaters soon, and it looks beautiful and very weird, as it might be expected. See the trailer at the official site or on YouTube. It's sad how he struggles so much to get anything he makes released, when it's all so wonderful.


Like that was any surprise

Yeah, so the Patriots won. I conceal my elation under miles of confidence in them. I have to address something else, though; so how about I say how much the Mark Foley affair bothers me? Not like we didn't know that Republicans are corrupt...they just happen to be less corrupt than Democrats. And they occasionally do something I like. But anyway; I find it aggravating that the media holds onto the emails for three years, and then release them right before the election. What could possibly cause them to do that? Also, why doesn't ABC go more in depth with how the IM's were a joke and a set up? And how, creepy and perverted as they were, they weren't illegal, because that idiot page was eighteen? Obviously other people have gone way more in depth with this than I have. Most I use this page as an outlet for my frustration at the lack of common sense in the world. And since I begin to feel that this post lacks some substance, here's something you can take away from it: What is a Freudian slip? When you say one thing and mean your mother.



Alright. I know I usually wait for the weekend to cease before I do the whole stats thing, but I'm bored, and frankly devoid of any other topic of conversation. The Irish destroyed Stanford. But it's not like anyone was expecting anything different. All I can say is I sure hope Brady Quinn gets the Heismann (is that how you spell it? Good lord, I'm unreliable) trophy because I just remembered that he's a senior. And I really doubt he's going to pull a Matt Leinhart and stay another year. (What would it be this time? Yoga?) So. Let's all pray that Ohio State turns into a complete catastrophe (the football team, not the state itself) and enters a deathspiral of losses. I'm afraid there's no other way. Hasta la vista until next time, when I shall indubitably record what happened to New England tomorrow. Crumbs, I don't even know who they're playing.


What the (supply suitable expletive)!?

Okay. So we established that Terrell Owens is not someone we'd like our offspring to imitate, right? He appeared in an indecent commercial, was a jerk (trying to refrain from fruity language here) to his teammates, was and remains the most infantile player in the League if you judge by maturity alone, and recently nearly killed himself. (Oh, it was an accident? nice one...) Yet he supposes that he's as well qualified as anyone to write children's literature. Sure his books are going to be about traditional values...I guess. Sharing, and the like. But if little kids are the astute and impressionable creatures I've been told they are, this might not work out too great. If you read a book to a child the way you're SUPPOSED to, complete with author and title, the child will remember the name. Unless he hates the book. But anyway; I distinctly recall my very young nephew hearing "Make Way for Ducklings" and bellowing appropriately: "ROBERT MCCLOUSKY! (By the bye, I don't know how to spell that name either.) So I think it follows that if children know the name, know the book, and you own a TV and they hear about the further expoits of T.O....well. You catch my drift.


The Christian Response

The appalling murders that took place in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, PA, a few days ago gave me cause to think how much different the true Christian response to tragedy is in comparison to the Islamic response we see all to liberally. Here is a tiny town that has been emotionally devasted, five young girls shot to death, and five more still suffering from their wounds; and yet there is no anger. Just grief and acceptance. In recent times, we have become so used to hearing of Muslims taking offence at this, at that, and the other, and reacting with destruction and death, I think stories like this give hope that humans are, after all, human. These Amish have no e-mail, no telephones; they come to share their condolences with the afflicted families by taking the time to travel to their respective homes. They don't demand tighter gun restrictions, more funding for security, or even show disgust at the killer himself. Instead, they invited the killer's family to the funeral, reached out and offered them sympathy as well; because the killer too had died. And they didn't see it as the death of one who deserved to die, but the death of a human being; in other words, a tragedy. How striking the difference is between these genuine Christians and the current Muslim violence in Gaza, Iraq, and throughout the world. To the Muslims who run riot across the evening news every night, the death of a family member, friend, or just another Muslim who lived within shouting distance is cause for as many throats to be cut as humanly possible. But for as much violence and suffering as we have to live with in this world, at least in these simple Americans we can see authentic Christians: compassionate, loving, humble, and human.



If we're going to be despicable, can we at least be consistent? This is just (besides disgusting) weird. First the line is supposed to be "abortion is just another medical procedure" and we're not to think any more about it. But apparently it occured to them that Planned Parenthood's new t-shirts emblazoned with the statement "I had an abortion" were pretty pointless on top of being crass. Someone must have told them that if it just another medical procedure why wear a t-shirt about it? I mean to say, who's going wear a t-shirt that declares "I had open heart surgery" or "My appendix was removed". So they've abandoned taht tactic and it's become something to boast of. Unbelievable.


the weekend

So pretty much a fabulous weekend for me. Friday: women's soccer. UP smashed the Washington Huskies into oblivion. Saturday: Notre Dame destroyed Purdue Sunday: New England trounced Cincinnatti. The Irish were just amazing...how about that faked fiel goal attempt? can't get enough of it. New England just played solid football; they're pretty darn good about rebounding after a defeat. As for the soccer, I just happened to be at that game...I don't typically follow it too closely.


The Alchemist

I ran accross a CD entitled The Alchemistrecently that blew me out of the waters. It is a musical adaption of Gerard Manly Hopkins' poems by the Irish singer Sean O'Leary. When I first heard about it, my resonce was typical. Another guy who thinks he can sing and somehow thinks it's his right to ruin a great man's poetry. But I guess I was wrong. Check it out for yourself right here

The forbidden security measure

Hehe...you'd think that after about a decade of dealing with Islamic terrorists we'd start to notice some basic points. A) They mostly come from the Middle East; B) They are mostly male; C) They are mostly Muslim; and D) If they're Muslim, Middle Eastern and male, that means MOST OF THE TIME you ought to be looking for dark complexioned men speaking Arabic and waving the Koran around. But no. That would be rude. And if we're going to get wiped out as a nation, we might as well be remembered as polite. Despite the fact that the IRA hasn't been threatening us with utter annihilation lately and as far as I know Scandanavia has yet to send bevies of their braided women with the intent to kill, TSA continues to methodically chose people at random from among those in line and carefully search and probe them...and if we're lucky, we might actually choose someone who looks half-way capable of being a terrorist. This is not to say I've become a racist and accuse all Arabs of trying to kill me; it's just that mathematically the probability of Great Aunt Helga on visit from Lichstenstien attempting to wreak havoc at the airport instead of Mahmoud Hassan Ali from Syria is fairly remote.



Persepolis is a fairly recent graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. It's actually an autobiography about her childhood growing up in Iran. The author is in her thirties now, and living in France, so the book comes out of the French/Belgian bande dessinée tradition that Tintin was born from. The "clear line" style is slightly apparent, but what stands out most of all is the european comics continuing tradition of creating comics that go beyond the stereotypes and fandom that usually go along with the art form, and create distinctly powerful stories. The perspective througout the book is revealing and fascinating. In a time where the middle east is constantly on the mind, Persepolis takes you into the head of a girl growing up in that culture during the Islamic Revolution; surrounded by torture, war, and "purges", but most of the time just trying to find ways to smuggle tapes of American rock into her room. The ordinariness of the situation is wonderful, in how it humanizes the Muslim population, and contrasts more strongly with the real moments of terror. There are some intense and mature themes in the book, so I wouldn't recomend it for young kids, but adults would most likely get alot out of it. She has written a sequel, about how her escape to France, but I didn't kind it nearly as interesting. What really captured my attention lately, was that Sony Pictures is developing the first book into a movie, apparently using an animation process that mimics the books stark illustrations. I always get excited when people experiment with animation, so I'll be keeping my eye on it.


Order of the Phoenix

Good to see Mr. Radcliffe has his hair back under control again; here I believe is pictured "Dumbledore's Army", as described in the book. I can't remember precisely when the movie comes out...soon, no doubt. As a matter of fact, I don't even know who's directing it. I seem to have dried up as a source of information. I do know that most of the cast is still there, including the original Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who were supposedly going to only do the first three movies. Whatever. I seem to recall book #5 being described as ten pages of plot and 8oo pages of fluff (roughly...I'm paraphrasing here). It may be an accurate description, but what fluff! I rather enjoyed it, but then again, haven't read in in a couple years. I am interested in the movie, though, because if the book is mostly fluff, then it shouldn't be too hard to cut the movie down to size and then retain some of the more humorous elements. Cheers!


report from the front

I just realized that I failed to mention my football teams over the weekend. It was bittersweet...while Notre Dame vanquished MSU, New England suffered a grievous defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos. To think that I rooted for Denver briefly as a child. The Notre Dame win was truly spectacular, though. What with everyone feeling that their football season was shot, they would never make it to the National Championship, Brady Quinn's Heismann hopes drifting away; and then the fourth quarter happened, and we realized Michigan State was not University of Michigan. That was last week! And with that epiphany, the Irish cleaned house. Huzzah. On the other hand, on Sunday, the Patriots were defeated. At home. All I can say is that it's a wonder they won the two previous games, considering the way their star players are defecting left right and center. Adam Vinateri (sp, probably...that's how it sounds anyway) sought greener pastures in Indianapolis, Deion Branch went West Coast into Seattle, and as for Willie McGinest (another terrible sp strikes) and David Givens, I completely forgot where they went. The main thing is that they're gone, and Tom Brady is having to deal with a bunch of rookies for the time being. Of course they'll all pull through in the end, once they've figured out how to play together, but for now every game brings about a severe fit of anxiety on my part. Next Sunday they'll be on the road in Cinncinatti (is that how you spell it?) and that won't be easy.



Me and a dozen other TACers are sitting in Amy Schneir’s house as I write this, waiting for the announcement that TAC has or has not been burned to the ground. It’s a lot of fun actually. Probably the first real vacation we’ve gotten since we got here. No work study, no homework, nice couches, and pizza. Real food. Yes.

Last night was not such a blast. We got sent to an evacuation center at the parish hall of Sacred Heart church. Where the Red Cross gave us stretchers for beds and a really thin blanket and no pillow. We ended up staying up so late watching Hellboy anyway, that the whole sleeping thing didn’t factor in much anyway.

Pictures are attached of the evacuation, fire, and flight. People I’m hanging out with right now, in clockwise fashion, Tim Cantu, Dagny Bach, a girl whose name I can’t remember, Lindsey Yates, Becca Cupo, Nina Mires, Juila Krause, and Brenna Saunders. Somehow I ended up in the girl car. John Hall, Kate Atkinson, and Annette should be around somewhere too. It’s a laptop party in the Schneir’s living room right now, while we wait for lunch. It’s like a library…

And Lunch is served. More later.

I’m back.

It all began during the Junior Dance. Which sucked, (the evacuation, not the dance) because the dance was the best yet. It had entertainment along with the dancing, in the form of a couple student-made movies, and Matt Grimm dancing in a grass skirt and coconuts. Everyone is unsure HOW that got approved, but it was hilarious regardless. The fire had been growing all night, and before the dance we could see the glow over the hills. Peter and Paul’s started a tribal drum-off on the second story, which, due to the concave shape of the dorm, got projected across the campus. There was also talk of sacrificing someone to the wildfire gods to appease them, and Carson was scheduled to do a fire-stick juggling routine before the dance, but he ended up not showing. When the Dean announced that we were implementing the evacuation process, there was a collective groan, but people caught on quick to the fact that it would mean no homework, and a nice vacation. Enough. Gonna go work on my chapter now. Laters.

I’m back again.

Me and some of the girls took a walk down the street, to this amazing open-air used bookshop called Bart’s Books. Never seen anything quite like it before. Selection was okay, but the whole gimmick of it being permanently outside (and open for anyone to steal from) is so trusting and amazing that I fell in love. Forgot my camera though, curses. The place is laid out around two central courtyards, and the shelves are set up in a really claustrophobic, mazelike fashion. Picked up copies of The Golden Compass, The Princess Bride, The Book of Merlyn, and another book by T. H. White I hadn’t heard of before.

Right. Done now. Pictures below.


Enough is enough

Yesterday I was reading the magazine Chronicles, but stopped after reading an article about "Bush's Legacy" by Joseph Sobran. Unfortunately, not being a reamarkably ariticulate person, I can't quite convey the depth of animosity I now feel toward Mr Sobran. It's one thing to label yourself a paleo-conservative and every other conservative who disagrees with you a neo-conservative; and I don't care if these paleo-conservatives disagree with Bush's policies and are frustrated with him...that's their deal. But I am so sick of them slamming Bush and being stupid about it. What does Mr Sobran prove by stating that "one glaringly obvious difference between America and France is that the French have a president who speaks fluent English." ? Aside from the fact that it's puerile humor at best, what's the point? He goes on to moan about Iraq, about our civil liberties disappearing, and then declares that Clinton's administration was a comparative "golden age". This is where I get violent. So now this supposedly Christian, conservative columnist wants back William Jefferson Clinton. The man whose screwball policies (or would that be non-policies?) on terrorism lost us opportunities to secure al-Qaida and Bin Laden, got two embassies and the Cole bombed, and ultimately led to 9/11; the man who opened the doors for abortions to peak in the 90's; the man whose deception and promiscuity led to only the second impeachment of a president in US history; we're to prefer him over a genuine Christian who has succesfully combated terrorism for five years, under whom abortions have dropped significantly, with abortion clinics closing so that there are now hundreds where there were thousands, who vetoed the stem cell research bill...pass the milk of magnesia.


Pan's Labyrinth

There's a distinct lack of truly creative fantasy movies out there, but a hopeful sign, for me, is the new film by Guillermo Del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth. Del Toro, who made the Hellboy movie, has an impeccable sense of style in the fantasy/horror genre, that, at present anyway, puts him ahead of Terry Gilliam on my list favorite directors. The film is also being co-produced with Alfonso Cuaron, who directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and has Doug Jones (Abe Sapien from Hellboy) playing the role of Pan. Pan's Labyrinth is a fantasy movie with an interesting twist: it's set completely in Spain just after the Spanish Civil war. I'm pretty sure it doesn't come down on Franco's side, but the historical context is a great idea and provides some wicked juxtapositioning. The movie is also entirely in Spanish (with subtitles), Del Toro's native language, which gives it an even greater sense of authenticity. I'm a little hazy on the story, but it has something to do with a girl finding her way down into an imaginary underground Labyrinth (a la Alice in Wonderland) ruled by the god Pan, where he sets her three tasks to accomplish, in order to bring the magical realm back into the waking world. It's also interwoven with the above-ground story of her adoptive father, who is in the army and hunting rebels. The movie is running with the tagline "Innocence has a power evil cannot imagine," which sounds like a nice change from the usual themes of horror movies, though it's unclear whether Pan or the Spanish Government is the evil being refered to. What I absolutely love about Del Toro is not only his sense of Gothic design (always more interesting than Burton's spindly twistedness) but also his dedication to making extremely original stories, and his unhesitating use of prosthetics and physical models over CGI. Pan's Labyrinth has already been selected for the Cannes Film Festival, and ought to be out in the US by December 29th. It is rated R, but early reports say that the rating is for realistic war violence. Click on the picture to go to the website, where you can also see the awesome trailer, and go here for some clips. Pan's Labyrinth currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.


good grief

I find this disgraceful. For pete's sake, the woman's 83 years old. This is what I don't get...critics will get on the late Francisco Franco's case for chasing down Spanish Communist war criminal several years after the fact; and yet, when it comes to Nazis, the war never ends! What possible harm could this lady do anyone? I decree it stupid; leave her alone.


Spinach crisis

By now, everyone should know about the bagged spinach scare and the 113 people infected with e. coli. Does it really help for the nightly news to drill into our heads that there are over a hundred people infected...out of about 300 million people who eat bagged spinach? What good does it do to go in depth and cover the stories of the e. colied, except to spread panic among other people who start thinking they may have eaten a piece of spinach a day or two ago? Odds are that I could get away with eating a bag of spinach and not get sick. But you wouldn't know that by watching the news...


Bush is a rockstar

No, seriously. Watch this and revel; I am so grateful to whoever put that together...even if you haven't heard U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday". And if that made you smile, enjoy this as well. Why am I in such a good mood now? Trust me, I still haven't gotten over the Irish yesterday, but the Patriots did win. Hence the picture of my hero, Tom Brady. See right.

Ring of Fire

So here we are at TAC, cellebrating its 35th aniversary. Right about when the people get out of the opening mass, they notice that it seems to be snowing, until they realize that that's actually ash, and that the sky has been blotted out and the sun is dim and blood red. After ruling out the possiblity that the second coming was at hand, we found out that a brushfire had been spreading for a while now, was headed south, in our direction. So here I sit, in the TAC computer room, wondering if they're going to start ringing the church bells soon to evacuate us, and thinking Hey, maybe if we WERE evacuated, I'd get some more writing done on my book. And, in a relevant way, for those who like both Johnny Cash and Coldplay: Ring of Fire


What a day

It started out bad enough when I had to ref a soccer game from hell. My only bright spot on the horizon after getting through the nightmarish second half (look, when you've got two teams of 15 year old boys, one entirely Mexican and the other very white...and neither very pleased with me...I'll leave it to your fertile imagination) was going home to watch the Notre Dame football game . And then THAT turned into a bloodbath. Well, there's always tomorrow...

If it's not one thing...

This probably isn't a good thing, but by now, if it make Muslims mad, it usually makes me happy. And this makes me happy. His original speech made perfect sense (look, the quote he gave was from a man whose city was being besieged by Muslims at the time) and I'm loving his reaction to the Islamic reaction. Basically, sorry I made you upset, but that's the way it's going to be. Most excellent.


This is so funny...and rumor has it that Mackay's erstwhile girlfriend left him for Bill Clinton! Not sure I believe that one either, but who knows. It's just odd to be hearing about political officials this way; it's like tabloids have gotten bored with the whole Hollywood thing. Ever since she wore those stiletto boots...



...Otherwise known as nesting dolls and held up as a traditional Russian folk art. However, these little dolls didn't actually originate in Russia! They're from Japan; the toymaker Vassily Zviozdochkin was inspired by a similar looking doll he bought from that country. He designed his own version of the doll and exhibited it at the 1900 Paris World Fair. Another odd thing I found out is that the dolls are still hand carved (real ones anyway) with the smallest one first and the biggest one done last. Also, traditionally, one artist carves the dolls from wood and another actually paints the dolls.


For those of you who enjoy Dorthy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, I'm sure you'll agree that Lord Peter can't be played by just anybody. He is a very unique person, and Ian Carmichael in the BBC series, doesn't quite cut it. I just discovered recently that Sayers used the face of Roy Ridley (pictured above) to help her describe Lord Peter. Insidentaly, his face is very similar to the one I always envisioned, the face of Lesley Howard.


En Guard!

Fencing is one of the coolest sports ever. What can beat stabbing people with swords? But, it's very different from what people think it is. It isn't anything like dueling and it doesn't, in the end, have anything to do with killing people. The key word is 'sport'. Fencing is a mental game. It is about using your head to fool someone else's head. That is why it is such a fascinating game. It has multiple layers of complexity, each very difficult to learn, taking hours of experience and concentration. At the end, however, it is so rewarding that your hours of sweating and striving for perfection become a happy memory tinted with your knowledge of achievement. There is nothing like hearing "Bout!" ring through the salle and calmly saluting your defeated opponent. Sweat dripping from your face, your whole body exhausted, you stand there with eyes shining and taste the joys of victory. Anyways, if you ever have a chance, try fencing. It's a sport like no other.

Five years later

Over the the weekend, I've been reliving the events of September 11, 2001 in a number of ways. On Friday I became embroiled in an online debate over what really happened that fateful fall morning. On Saturday I watched the phenomenal movie "United 93". Last night I watched the first half of abc's controversial mini series, "The Path to 9/11"; now the anniversary itself has almost passed. The debate I've been having (or attempting to have) about what really happened on 9/11 is very hard to take seriously. However, the guy who insists that the WTC was really demolished by Zionists takes himself very seriously. As does the other young lady who thinks that these so called "neo-cons" brought down the towers to make an excuse for war in the Middle East. I think I'll just wash my hands of the whole thing...is it really that hard to believe that Islamic terrorists wish to kill thousands of Americans? Haven't they been trying to kill thousands of Westerners for several hundred years? As for the two movies I've seen, I have nothing but praise. "United 93" is an important movie with an important story to tell. As Mr. Bush said in his speech, those Americans on that plane won our first victory in the war on terror. The abc docudrama has been very fair, I think. Critics claim that the scene in which CIA agents wait in vain for the go ahead order to capture Bin Laden is fictionalized. I see no problem in creating a scene that pretty much covers all 12 times Clinton had Bin Laden within reach and let him go. I will be watching the conclusion tonight, and hope it will be as interesting and well done as the first segment. God Bless America



Well what do you know, the Patriots won their first game. Doesn't look like it was a spectacular game, and the Bills aren't particularly good, but what the heck. Made me happy. Unfortunately, Andy Roddick did not beat Roger Federer in the U.S. Open final; not that I expected him to. And the Portland Pilots ladies' soccer team lost to the University of North Carolina. Bummer.


Ickle Pluto

I'm just so mad that Pluto doesn't get to be a planet anymore. Just because it's tiny, composed mostly of ice, more or less identical with a bunch of other ice chunks floating around out there, and has an orbit that could get it a DUI, it has to get demoted. Personally, I think it should've been put up to a vote of the people. Who cares what the astronomers and scientists and other more informed people say? I want my planet back! I mean, now we'll have to learn "My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos" and get used to saying "all eight planets" and other such unpleasant changes. I say once a planet, always a planet. A planet's a planet, no matter how small. In my world.


The Ladies of Grace Adieu

Charles Vess, one of the preeminent fantasy illustrators, has put information up on his blog about the illustrations he's doing for Susanna Clarke's new collection of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu (at left is Vess' rendition of the Raven King). It will collect most of Clarke's shorter works, plus a new one involving Jonathan Strange, and ought to be out on October 16th. The blog also has pictures from the cell phone of Neil Gaiman from the set of the Stardust movie, an adaption of Neil's fantasy tale, which he and Neil are currently involved in. And speaking of Clarke, New Line Cinema has picked up the movie rights to JS&MN. This sounds hopeful, what with New Line's track record with The Lord of the Rings, and their upcoming production of His Dark Materials and Inkheart.


Come off it

Why on EARTH is this such a big deal???http://http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14685267/from/ET/?GT1=8506 Seriously, for the past month it seems, one has been unable to view anything on CBS without yet another ad for "Katie Couric, coming soon." The hype has been unbelievable...at least she finally got here and I won't have to watch any more Cour-mercials...


The Crocodile Hunter

I can't believe this: http://http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20349888-2,00.html He's one of those people that you just assume will always be around. He did so many crazy things and worked with so many dangerous animals that I thought nothing could happen to him, for some reason. I had these images in my head of him still chasing crocs well into his eighties. It's all very sad, and kind of put a cloud over my day.


Graveyard of Buried Hopes

Recently I ran across some lyrics in an Irish song book that interested me. They go as follows: "When apples still grow in November, when blossoms still bloom on each tree, When leaves are still green in December, it's then that our land will be free, I wander her hills and green valleys, but still to my sorrow I see, A land that has never known freedom, and only her rivers run free." There were a few more verses in the usual style...tragic, stirring, patriotic, and fairly typical. What really caught my eye was the date this song was written: 1973. Normally, this kind of thing would be dated in the mid to late nineteenth century, certainly not post Republic of Ireland. This song made a strong impression on me because it's become more and more apparent that hoping for a re-unification of Ireland, hoping for the lost six counties to become part of the Republic is plain foolish. This cry of despair from whomever the poet was that wrote the lyrics touched me deeply because it's all so impossible. Northern Ireland was lost irrevocably when De Valera cut his deal with the British in the 1920's; there's no going back now. Of course it was horrendous for English families to come over to Northen Ireland in Elizabeth I's time and displace or kill the Irish Catholics whose land they took. But 500 years later those once English families now know Ulster as home, and have no reason to wish Northern Ireland's departure from the commonwealth. And in the end you have to realize that it has ceased to be a religious war. The IRA lost its identity when it forgot it was Catholic and started training with anyone who would help; from the Soviet Union to al-Qaida. It's not that the Northern Irish are Protestant and don't want to be one with Catholic Southern Ireland...it just that those in power can see no political or economic benefit in unification. Just as Partition has become a fact of Irish life over the years, so has secularization become a fact of life in the cities of Dublin and Cork. Scandals have hurt the Church in Ireland, and all but one of the seminaries has shut down. Ireland, quite simply, is not what she was, and probably never will be again. In a very real way, Anglican England won her war against the Irish papists; religion just isn't a good enough reason to take back Northern Ireland. Robert Emmet was a heroic Irish patriot, rebel and outstanding orator in the nineteenth century, who was executed by the British for sedition. He asked that there be no epitaph written on his grave until Ireland became a free nation once more, taking her place in the world alonside other free nations. Sadly, it doesn't look like Emmet's epitaph will ever be written. The dreams of all the Irish rebels who took their place in the rising of '98 and the Easter uprising of 1916 have been fulfilled in terrible incompleteness; their true desires for their country may remain forever buired with them.