Monthly Archives: December 2003

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Good Cheer Returns

Thanks to Dave Alway (a really good guy), I now know my true identity.


This test brought to you by Blakeney Manor.

Find out:Which Scarlet Pimpernel character are you?

So I’m the cleverest woman in London or Paris, and a reigning beauty. What can I say?

Hee. Sometimes the line between ‘classic literary character’ and ‘unabashed Mary Sue’ is very fine indeed. I suppose the moral of the story is that you must be an unusually gifted writer to pull off an unusually gifted character.

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Uncertainty and Doubt

I put my blogroll back up and added some blogs to it. We’ll see if they stay interesting.

I also finally found out where a lot of folks I know have been hanging out on Livejournal. In a way I’m glad to know this, but I also feel a bit left out that I had to find them myself. OTOH, I still don’t really want to get on LJ — to me there’s something creepy about all the different levels of access and relying on someone else to give you a code. It smacks of junior high, when indeed I could feel lucky if I was just being left out instead of actively persecuted for the crime of being me.

But on the gripping hand, I really don’t know if I want to be hanging out with all the folks I know. They’re nice people, but the deep differences between them and I keep becoming more and more apparent. I get tired of all the casual insults and nasty jokes about people in my political party, when I don’t ever say anything derogatory about theirs. There are dramatic differences in what we think is ethical behavior on many other topics, as well. Many of them are part of religions I honestly can’t respect, and I get the feeling they don’t really respect mine. We still have a lot of common ground in our feelings about music and literature, but…I always thought I’d keep growing closer to my old friends, not grow further apart.

I know I have a tendency to take offense easily and to be paranoid. I keep working on it. But I do wish I had more friends (other than my Constant Reader!) who shared my tastes and my morality, too. I want to be able to stop biting my tongue.

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Adventures in Hymnwriting Again!

I guess this is sort of an offertory hymn. Mostly I wrote it because I felt I was neglecting the sacrifice angle of the Eucharist. I don’t think I really got into that enough, but…I freely admit that I don’t understand the theology as much as I should. Sacrifices on altars are just not something my liturgical experience has been aimed at presenting — and it seems to me that this is the sort of thing that comes across better as a picture or in other nonverbal ways. So this is pretty much groping in the dark. (sigh)

What Can We Give You, God?
Lyrics and Music: Maureen S. O’Brien, 12/28/03

What can we give You, God, when You have everything?
You made the burning stars; You made the sparrow’s wing.
You made the grain and grapes, and it’s by Your design
That heat exists to bake, or yeast can make juice wine.

We bring these gifts to You, though they’re not really ours,
As children of a gard’ner might pick him his flowers.
We know You just want humble, sorry hearts that serve,
But we can’t even love You, Lord, as You deserve.

Once You asked Abraham to give You back his son,
But then You stopped his knife before he had begun.
You gave him for his sacrifice a thorn-caught ram;
To us You gave Your only son, a thorn-crowned Lamb.

Who makes such sacrifice, has so much love to give?
You gave Yourself to us, came here to work and live
And teach and heal and feed us, and, for us, You died –
Your gifts can put to shame all of our wealth and pride.

Since there’s no fitting gift that we can ever bring,
Please make this bread and wine the Lamb worth offering.
Your flesh and blood’s the gift that is the most fitting
To give to You, o God who gave us everything.

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More Signs of the Smallness of the Fannish Universe

(If any were needed after the post below.)

I know Michael Zecca through the ol’ B5 newsgroup. I know Michael Burstein by sitting next to him during several parties surrounding Solomon’s wedding. And Michael Burstein is Admiral Zecca’s evil twin.

And they say the world is a cold and unfriendly place. Why, you’re never alone with an evil twin!

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Nunc Dimittis

I am listening to a (pleasant!) Turkish Pernese heavy metal song (sung in English) which I found through a Russian filk site. I can die happy now.

(http://www.battlorn.com/eng-menu-download.html for the mp3, and http://www.weyrx.dax.ru/index.php?id=68 for the lyrics, since I can never make ‘em out on my own in heavy metal songs.)

Seriously, let’s not get jaded about this wonderful Web we have. We can do neat things, interesting things, silly things, marvelous things with it. Don’t get stuck in a rut of just visiting the same sites over and over. Take some time to look around. More than that, contribute by putting up your own fun stuff and telling others where to find your own discoveries. We don’t have to be starry-eyed, but we don’t have to pretend we’re too cool to enjoy what we have. If you’re bored with the Web, it really must be you. :)

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Death of Democratic Party Imminent: Film at 11

You know that a party’s gotten a leeeeeetle bit extremist when you see things like this from Thomas Cahill (and never mind what he wrote, ’cause he ain’t gettin’ my money ever again till he apologizes). In fact, I feel like a little fisking is in order.

Republicans: Others have taken the trouble to tell me how disturbed they were to read reports that I had said (in answer to a question at the end of a talk) that I failed to understand how someone could be a Republican and a Christian.

Can’t understand why they’d be disturbed. I mean, wasn’t my meaning self-evident?

What I actually said was that it seemed to me that “Republican” — at least in its current usage — and “Christian” had become contradictory terms.

Ohhhhhh! Well, that makes it all better!

Of course, I know there are many people who consider themselves to be both (and some of them are even good friends of mine).

And very loving and forgiving Christians they must be, too. Still, we are supposed to take care of the mentally ill and those who have lost their way.

I am also well aware that historically there have been many Americans who were both good Republicans and good Christians, Abraham Lincoln perhaps most preeminently.

Well, garsh, that’s mighty nice of you, Mr. Cahill, sir. And historically, I’m sure there’ve been at least a few Democrats who didn’t go to Hell for worshipping strange nameless gods in caverns under the sea, their vestigial gillslits flapping as they chanted, “Ia, Ia, Cthulhu fhtagn!” In fact, my little brother claims they’ve even stopped doing readings from the Necronomicon at the Democratic National Convention.

But the Republican Party in its current incarnation is racist (racism being the clear premise of its “Southern strategy,” pursued so singlemindedly since the days of the ineffable Richard Nixon)…

Ohhhkay. So everybody down South is a white racist. Now that‘ll be a surprise to all those black and Vietnamese voters, nevermind the Cherokees.

Do remind me which party is obsessed with categorizing people in terms of race.

… and the enemy of the poor.

And that would be why so many blue-collar and working-poor folks support the Republican party. They enjoy getting their faces ground into the mud by the relentless assertion of their party leadership that they are somebodies and can make something of themselves because America is still the land of opportunity. Creating jobs and a better economy and encouraging entrepreneurship makes the poor starve and die in hopeless squalor; and if that ain’t enough, Laura Bush stops by their houses and steals their candy.

I would find this more amusing if I hadn’t just been reading, on one of my mailing lists, a rather bizarre complaint about sf writer Orson Scott Card’s editorial about how “Some of my fellow Democrats are unpatriotic.” Now, I would expect criticisms from a liberal Democrat such as ‘Card is all wet’, or ‘too severe’. I might even expect the odd ad hominem attack based on Card’s rather erratic levels of excellence in writing, or the fictionalized fantasy version of Joseph Smith’s life that is his Alvin Maker series. But what the lady in question said was, “How can someone as conservative as Card even pretend to be a Democrat?” And others agreed.

Note that. Nobody said, “Well, of course Card’s a Democrat. His father was a Democrat, his mother was a Democrat, and his family still feels grateful for the New Deal and winning World War II.” Noooo. Ideology — one axis of ideology — is the only allowable criterion for party affiliation as a Democrat.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t even occur to the Republican Party that an ideology test is required. If anything, conservatives sometimes think of Bush as being a little too willing to flirt with moderate and liberal stances.

Two words, kids. ‘McGovern‘. ‘Whig‘.

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Irish High Crosses!

Oooooh. Dr. Deborah Vess’ Celtic High Crosses site is a must-see for St. Blog’s parishioners. They’re not painted anymore, they’ve been out in the Irish weather for over a thousand years, and a lot of pagan folks like to try to claim them for their own. But these great works of art and faith survive, still literally placing Biblical and Irish history inside the context of the Cross. As a bonus, you also get three Welsh high crosses! Did you even know there were Welsh high crosses? Me neither! What a site!

Note that, when you’re looking at a Celtic cross’ wheel-shaped halo, the line in “The Dream of the Rood” about ‘eaxlgespanne’ makes perfect sense. If the cross looks like a wheel, it’s bound to have an axle. (I’m sure I’m far from the first person to notice this.)

Btw, as long as we’re talking Unknown Facts (Pinky Carruthers would be proud), I recently learned that Echternach (of the beautiful illuminated Echternach Gospel) is not an Irish or Scottish place. No, it’s in Luxembourg. (From that post about dancing procession for St. Willibrord.) Man, if I’d known that, I could’ve gotten Kev to visit there when he was doing Guard in Germany.

(Btw, does anyone know if the maze-like decoration behind the Lion of St. Mark in the Echternach Gospel is really supposed to be initial letters? And if so, what’s the significance. There’s pretty obviously an A and a B in the top left and bottom right corners, but beyond that?)

But alas, all I knew about Luxembourg was that it has a Grand Duke and that a Canadian syndicated Dracula TV series was shot there. (It was the one with Mr. A. Lucard the zillionaire, being fought by some Van Helsing kids and their grandpa.) Looking at IMDB, I see that the ubiquitous Geraint Wyn Davies was even in this sucker…ironically, as a Helsing, though he’d later play vampire cop Nick Knight in Forever Knight! Not a bad cast for a cheap little series with some pretty decent writing.

Luxembourg seems to have a really good set of Christmas customs.

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In Case You’re Wondering Why I’m So Energetic Today…

…I finally finished my story for the ‘obscure fandoms’ Secret Santa fanfic project, While We Tell of Yuletide Treasure. I realized I was going to find it hard to write my story immediately when the project started early in November, since important stuff was due to happen in the fandom I planned to write about. But for some reason, I didn’t manage to finish my story till today. I went through several ideas, mind you, but I couldn’t get to an actual plot that fit the gift parameters and spirit. I got a particularly good plot idea today, but it wouldn’t have made a good present. (Too angsty, too little romance.) So I dropped the (sorta) innovative and went for the (sorta) tried and true. I’m also sorry that its natural length was rather short. But I loved writing it, so I hope my gift will be accepted — and enjoyed — in the spirit it was given.

I’m also eager to see my present on Christmas morning, of course. *BigEvilGrin, while crossing fingers for a Daniel/Adele romance* I’ll also be interested to see everybody else’s stories on January 1. I love obscure fandoms, and while many of these aren’t all that obscure, I’ll still be interested. A good few of my old favorite writers from X-Files and the like are involved, so l can’t wait to catch up with their doings. (Too bad so many folks seem to have been asking for slash, as this means their presents will not be of much interest to me.)

What disturbs me is how very easy I find writing romance. Personal experience does not seem to be a major factor here; the graceful manipulation of literary tropes is. Too much lyric poetry in my youth is undoubtedly to blame.

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Cain Adomnain and the Rights of Women

Hunh. Cain Adomnain usually gets a bad name in feminist Irish studies, as being the law which disarmed women. To be honest, however, I think it seems to be exactly what it claims: a reform that, overall, improved the status of women. The picture of Irish women formerly fighting with polearms is interesting, too, as Japanese women usually used naginatas and other polearms for castle defense and the like. (Which is not to say there weren’t good Japanese swordswomen, but if you’re shorter, polearms are a great equalizer of reach.) The big advantage is that killing any woman, child or cleric, whatever their legal rank, became a very grave matter. The bad part of the deal is that any woman who kills anyone gets the death penalty, no matter what her rank. Unfortunately, this is exactly what you’d expect of a legal system in which women in general had a lot of rights (especially compared to other legal systems of the time), but not the same rights as men. Read it and see what you think.

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Gadzikowski’s Doctor Who/AbFab Crossover

You gotta love a cartoon with the punchline, “It has been 117 years since my last confession.”

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Regionalisms Poll

I got this through Elizabeth Bear.

WHAT DO YOU CALL:

1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks?
A stream or a creek. (“Crick” is old-timey Greenville.)

2. What the thing you push around the grocery store?
A grocery cart.

3. A metal container to carry a meal in?
A lunchbox.

4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in?
A frying pan.

5. The piece of furniture that seats three people?
A sofa if it’s the good one in the living room; a couch anywhere else.

6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof?
A gutter or a pipe, depending on which part of the assembly we’re talking about.

7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening?
A porch.

8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages?
Pop!

9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup?
A pancake.

10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself?
A sub.

11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach?
Swimtrunks.

12. Shoes worn for sports?
Gymshoes.

13. Putting a room in order?
Cleaning.

14. A flying insect that glows in the dark?
Lightning bug or firefly. (Lightning bug just sounds friendlier, doesn’t it? Firefly is so formal. If Josh Whedon’s show had been called Lightning Bug, it would’ve had higher ratings!)

15. The little insect that curls up into a ball?
Pillbug! Also, kids called them roly-polies.

16. The children’s playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down? Seesaws are the big ones on playgrounds. Teeter-totters are the little ones you might have at home.

17. How do you eat your pizza?
With my fingers, preferably off a paper towel instead of a plate. And by the way, it should be cut in wedges unless it’s from Marion’s Piazza. Donato’s Pizza is just a cruel, cruel game.

18. What’s it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff?
Garage sale!

19. What’s the evening meal?
Dinner usually, but supper sometimes.

20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are?
The basement. It’s only a cellar if it’s entered from outside the house.

21. The shoes with two straps you wear at the beach?
Sandals, then thongs, and now flip-flops.

22. A machine you can drink water from?
Drinking fountain.

Added:
23. Wash or warsh? Washington or Warshington, D.C.?
Both, of course.

Dayton, Ohio. Where dialects meet, and we steal from ‘em all.

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Airboy’s Catholic Roots

Heh. Little did I know that Airboy, star of Air Fighters comics, flew a plane designed by one of the Franciscan monks that ran the orphanage where he lived. Check out this article for the friar/engineer’s sad fate.

Man, and they think comics today are violent!

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow!

Sky Captain looks like it could be the greatest 30′s pulp movie ever. Lessee, we got your Captain Midnight-type steely-eyed aviator Sky Captain. Your daring girl reporter Miss Polly Purebred…er, Perkins. Your Angelina Jolie with an eyepatch mystery lady/flyer. Your giant robots straight out of Superman cartoon shorts. You’ve got skyscrapers in all their silver-gray glory. And you’ve got the Flying Legion. What the heck else could you ask for?!

(Well…Doc Savage, maybe….)

Btw, here’s my list, in no particular order, of the greatest pulp adventure movies ever:

Zorro’s Fighting Legion.
Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Rocketeer.
Buckaroo Banzai. (He’s Doc Savage.)
The Adventures of Jake Speed. (He just uses Doc’s company.)
The Phantom.
Big Trouble in Little China.
Those Superman cartoon shorts.
The Shadow, until the exact moment when the trumpet solo plays.
Batman: The Animated Series.
The Mummy. (The Brendan Fraser version isn’t horror, but pulp adventure.)

You can get more pulp adventure movie names from this discussion. I’d love to see the Hong Kong movies they list.

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My Brother Graduated….

…From the Air National Guard’s Satellite NCO Academy. He got pretty good grades, too.

(The idea is that you attend classes for X-many weeks over satellite TV, with an “audio bridge” so the classes can ask the teachers questions. Then the final two weeks, the NCO school folks go to McGhee Tyson in Knoxville and do more intensive classwork and testing. It’s a lot of work. Kev was one of only a few staff sergeants who got to go; most folks were higher up in rank.)

The graduation ceremony was very nice. It included a POW/MIA ceremony. (I can’t help thinking that whoever composed this ceremony was influenced by the Passover seder. All that bit with the lemon symbolizing the bitterness of captivity and the salt thing, too…not the same, but way reminiscent.)
There was a speech that wasn’t too long by the head chief master sergeant in the Air Force, and the first commandant of the Satellite NCO Academy also visited. He was a Bataan Death March survivor named Paul Lankford. (Here’s more about him.) Kev stayed in a barracks named after him. I also noticed a building named Spruance Hall, which seemed positively bizarre on an Air National Guard base but would have been normal in the Navy. Apparently it must be named after this guy. Busy family, eh?

It was a nice trip. I’m glad I went along. Too bad I don’t have any pictures of the dress I bought to wear to the thing; it was a really good one. I didn’t mean to buy a darkish blue so as not to be too conspicuous in the sea of dress uniforms and mess dress, but it worked out that way…. :) It all looked like an episode of Stargate SG-1 or JAG was about to break out.

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