By now everyone knows about the death of acclaimed cellist Mstislav Rostopovich at age 80. Funny enough, I knew of him first as a strong figure in the anti-Soviet movement before I realized he was also a incredible musician.
He was a friend of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and helped investigative biographer Edvard Radzinsky get ahold of some technically off limits documents. (For those of you who don't know Radzinsky's work, I would recommend his The Last Tsar, by far the best biography of Nicholas II I have ever read. He also has written great works on Rasputin and Stalin.) Rostopovich also performed Shastakovich's unmistakably rebellious symphonies with relish.
With Boris Yeltsin dead, Russia has lost two products of the Soviet dominated 2oth century, men who were willing to stand up and fight against injustice. Not too encouraging, given the troubling inclinations of her current president.



Another thought on A Fistful of Dollars. Did you know that Jeremy Bulloch (played BOBA FETT!!!) acted out his part in Star Wars based on The Man With No Name (aka Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars)? Crazy cool, huh? I may have random taste, but it appears to be consistent. ( I love Boba Fett, in case you hadn't caught on.)

The Squint of Clint!

Too bad for you people; I was going to do a piece on combat robots, it being about time for a completely random and unexpected train of thought. But then someone deleted it and quite frankly I had no inclination to research a topic that strange all over again.
On the other hand, I've watched A Fistful of Dollars about five times since renting it on Saturday. I kind of forgot that it's one of my must have movies..."I don't think it's nice, you laughing. My mule doesn't like it; he gets the crazy idea you're laughing at him..."
Very quotable. And hilarious. And the music is fabulous.
I got to go play tennis now, only one more week.


April is the cruellest month...


Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

I think Eliot spelled cruelest with two l's because he was mad that his name only had one. That's my stab at being a poety critic.

I love this time of year...colors are all intense and varied, the weather alternates between heavenly and apocolyptical, and I feel like I'm receiving some cosmic stream of energy. Maybe it's from a whirling dervish!

I refereee soccer games every Saturday, and absolutely love watching the ten year old boys playing their hearts out. Especially when it's a tubby Mexican kiddo who can't run very fast but has better footwork than anyone else on the field. That was hilarious. He may have been un poco gordo, but could dribble circles around all the skinny white kids. He even chipped it over one guy's head, spun around him, and kept going. Incredible.


The Guggenheim Grotto

And here is a song from a new band I heard about from a friend. They are from Ireland, and are very catchy. I Told You So

The Graveyard Book

Neil Giaman is about 100 pages into his next children's book, The Graveyard Book, according to his blog. He writes it by hand in an unlined Venitian notebook, which I think is cool. Above is a picture. You can see him reading a chunk of it on YouTube here.


That was unexpected

This caught me totally offguard. I still can't believe that Kennedy went the right way...the Catholics on the Court held thier own. It's impressive. And then Kennedy wrote the opinion, to boot! It's a wild, wild world. And for now, a better one.


nuns with guns



For a girl I'm not much of a horse person, and didn't tend to read horse books unless they had something to do with racing. Some of the ones I remember being fairly awesome were Gaudenzia by Marguerite Henry, King of the Wind by the same, and Man O' War by somebody else. (I'm just a goldmine of information, I know) Man O' War was totally the best one, and in fact remains one of my favorite books period, aside from the horse category.

It probably results from my love of spectacular sports stories, and Man O' War's record (21 starts, 20 wins) and fabulous name made a definite imprint on my memory. The other horse I remember kind of growing up with (stories of him, I never saw him race) was Secretariat. I used to love hearing the story of his winning of the Triple Crown and especially the famous Belmont Stakes race. Which was why I was so excited to find this. I finally got to see it! (Ah, I love YouTube) And then this was pretty awesome too, considering that those are just about the only horses I really was at all attached to. (You just have to ignore the appalling spelling in that one).

So that's about as far as me and horses go, but I do think that those guys were way cool.


guess who I saw yesterday?

That's who.
As it is Friday the thirteenth, I will indulge in my fondness for statistics and of course my desire to inform my gentle readers.
The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 240,000. Only 100 people each year die from lightning strikes.
The odds of being killed in a tornado are 1 in 5 million. Only 60 people each year dies in tornados.
The odds of being killed from a bee, hornet, or wasp sting are 1 in 5.33 million.
The odds of being bitten by a venomous snake are 1 in 37,250. Only 12 people a year actually die from snake bites.
The odds of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 11.5 million. In fact, according to the International Shark Attack File, you are more likely to sustain an injury from your toilet seat than from a shark. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The odds of being attacked and/or mauled by a bear are 1 in 36 million. And that's if you live in Wyoming.
So there's not much to fear this Friday the 13th.


me wonders...

I just remembered that TIE fighters make an excruciating screeching sound when they go flying space. Isn't space a vacuum? Shouldn't there sound? And you shouldn't be able to hear the lasers either. It doesn't make any sense. And then (surprise surprise) I was watching Star Trek last night and the intrepid crew started panicking because they were....low on fuel??? You're in space, for crying out loud! Why don't you just turn on the engine, and then turn it off? There's no air resistance, and nothing to slow you down.

It frustrates me.

For those of you who notice "distinct veins" in my writing, my deepest apologies. I had been brooding about this and needed to let it out.


Holy Saturday

I finished War and Peace! Tolstoy thought than man did not have free will. I think that Tolstoy did not have an editor.


Good Friday

O Sacred head surrounded by crown of piercing thorn
O bleeding head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn
Death's pallid hue comes o'er thee, the glow of life decays
Yet angels hosts adore thee, and tremble as they gaze.


Holy Thursday

Notice Judas' atrocious table manners. A remarkable lunge.
Holy Thursday is almost my favorite part of Eastertide because it is my favorite Mass of the entire year. Not because of the washing of the feet, or the cute little first communicants processing around, or even the silent reverence in front of the Altar of Repose. It's a combination of the music and the fact that it is all so centered around the Holy Eucharist. It's one of two times a year that I receive the Precious Blood (the other being Corpus Christi).
Plus the possibility that it may be a Dominican Rite.


Spy Wednesday

I almost forgot what day it was today. In fact, it's hard to realize that it is in fact Holy Week already. Palm Sunday was a little surreal and life has been more than a little hectic since then.
Do we know that Judas is in Hell? We're not supposed to judge anyone, and Dante was hardly an authority on roll call down there. On the other hand, if Jesus says that it would be better that you were never born...I can't imagine that you would end up in Heaven, since that would mean that it was better that you were born. And why was it better for Judas never to be born? Jesus had to die to complete His mission, so he would have been handed over to the Sanhedrin one way or another. My theory is that it's because he not only lost belief in Jesus but also despaired and killed himself, thus committing what is called an "unforgivable sin". I think that means that if you truly despair, it is unforgivable because you decide that you can't be forgiven, and don't bother repenting.

Bet you weren't expecting this!

Ben feels we have fallen into a rut, and to allay his fears, I will now post on totally random and unexpected topics. Such as Whirling Dervishes. Cool picture, huh?
Apparently dervish means mendicant in ancient Persian and dervishes are a sect of a sect of Islam. They beg to learn humility, but cannot keep their earnings for themselves and have to give it all away. So I don't know how they live or eat...maybe they don't. In Turkey they perform whirling to obtain religious ecstacy, holding one palm up to receive energy and one palm down to transmit it to the earth. They are also a major tourist attraction.
Now that I've edified you all, I think I'll be on my way. And I hope that this was off the beaten path enough to surprise you all.


Does anyone think we could use more contributors on this thing? You know, fresh blood. Not that I think our content gets stale exactly, but it does seem to run in some very definite veins. Just an idea...

A New Beatification

Last Sunday, Locus Magazine announced some very startling news.

pretty much lame

So. I am full of fresh vituperation to heap upon that worthless, lowdown, conniving buch of hobos called "Congress". Their new conception of daylight savings has struck again.... My television, it would seem, has a little chip in it that tells it when to switch times with daylight savings. Said machine did switch times when it used to be daylight savings, before Congress stepped in. As a result...I recorded Prisonbreak instead of 24. I am so outraged and yet to powerless. Woe is me! I have somewhere around 100 pages left of War and Peace. Yes, that would be 100, not 1000. However, it is not worth pulling out my eaglesbobbleheaddoll dance because I'm totally fed up with it. Andrei is dead, and Pierre (can't stand him) is still lumbering around, presumably well on his way to marrying Natasha. Another reason for me to be in a foul mood!



I don't know how many of my dearly beloved readers watch LOST...but last episode, which I taped and watched yesterday, completely freaked me out. I had to pause it and go out of the room, just to walk around and catch my breath, calm back down. It managed to combine a couple of my worst fears in a particularly disturbing fashion. Twas awful. My guess is that the writers pull an all nighter, drinking heavily and reading Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Horror aloud. There is no other explanation for that episode, it was totally random, didn't advance the main plot AT ALL and was juuuust weird.