Monthly Archives: April 2004


Sign language from the world of Haibane Renmei

This wonderful Haibane Renmei website even includes a written alphabet and pictures of the sign language system used by the Tooga, the mysterious masked people who are the only ones allowed to speak to traders from outside the Wall of the town. The downloads section includes the font used in books in the town. Yes, this is the level of detail found in this anime series. Nifty, eh?

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“…and fuddled the bell.”

Like they say in the song,

Oh, what a parish, a terrible parish,
Oh, what a parish is that of Dunkeld.
They hangit the minister, drooned the presenter,
Dun doon the steeple and fuddled the bell.
The steeple was doon, but the kirk was still staunin’.
They biggit a lum whar the bell used to hang.
A still’s what they got, and they brewed Hielan’ whisky.
On Sundays they drank it and ranted and sang!

And they’d probably stolen the bell in the first place! From Belgium!

A HISTORIC church bell is at the centre of an Elgin Marbles-style ownership row between Scotland and Belgium.

For more than 300 years, parishioners of Kettins Parish Church near Dunkeld in Perthshire, have believed the 16th century bell, which proudly sits in the church graveyard within a stone turret, is their rightful property.

However, representatives from the Our Lady of Troon monastery in Grobbendonk, near Antwerp, claim the bell originally belonged to their abbey and was stolen in 1572 by mercenaries.

A delegation from Grobbendonk recently visited the kirk in Kettins in an effort to resolve the dispute. Paul van Rompaye, a Grobbendonk councillor, and Martine Paelmon, a member of the Belgian parliament, want the bell to complete the restoration of the 600-year-old monastery.

But although the bell�s inscription reveals a Flemish connection, the Kettins parishioners are reluctant to part with the 485-year-old antiquity.

The inscription, which reads �My name is Marie Troon and Mr Hans Popenuyder made me in 1519�, identifies it as the work of the famous German cannon-maker who armed the Mary Rose, Henry VIII�s favourite warship, and had connections with Grobbendonk.

Now a compromise has been reached which may prevent the row souring relations between the two congregations. The Belgian delegation is willing to accept a copy of the bell made from a cast.

Van Rompaye said: “We believe it is our church bell, looted from the priory of Troon. Our local records show that the bell was taken to Kettins in 1572. Other than the inscription on the bell and our church documents, we can find no other connection between the two villages. Also, the bell-maker Hans Popenuyder had a local connection with Grobbendonk, as he was a personal friend of Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch humanist who lived in the area.”

How Popenuyder’s bell travelled from the Continent to Scotland is a mystery that began to unfold 30 years ago after a Grobbendonk native visited Scotland.

Van Rompaye said: “Everyone in Grobbendonk knows the story of the lost bell. Many people have travelled across to Scotland to see the Kettins bell, but it was only 30 years ago that any serious attempt to have it returned was made.”

Theories on the bell�s journey are numerous. One suggests it was once used on a ship before it was stolen as the vessel lay moored in a Scottish port. According to local folklore, the bell was then gifted to the Kettins church after the thief dumped it in a nearby field, where it was discovered in 1697.

However, another theory says that the bell actually belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Coupar-Angus, 10 miles from where it was found.

Theorists believe the bell could have been secreted away to the Baldinnie bog by monks during the turmoil of the Reformation, and then placed in the church at Kettins for safekeeping.

But historical records state the abbey was destroyed during the Reformation in 1559, 13 years before the bell was taken. A third theory claims the bell was stolen by Dutch soldiers after they attacked and looted the Flemish monastery in 1578.

Local historians believe the soldiers then sold the bell to Scottish traders and it may have fallen into the hands of Dundee merchants the Hallyburton family, who could have presented it to the kirk as a gift.

What is not disputed is that the bell was standing in a belfry atop the Kettins church by the late 17th century, before it was taken down and placed in the churchyard in 1893.

The Rev Linda Stewart, the minister of Kettins Parish Church, said: “The church records show the bell was given to the church in 1697.

“But as far as I understand, a church in Belgium claim it belongs to them.”

Russell Miller, head of Kettins Community Council, added: “We think the bell became the property of the church after it was found in a nearby bog.

“It was used as the church bell for over a 100 years, until a steeple was built in 1893. It was then taken down and placed in the graveyard, where it has remained ever since.”

Okay, so it’s Kettins and not Dunkeld itself, so it’s probably not the famous befuddled bell in question. But it certainly does indicate what sort of things those folks up by Dunkeld got up to! Via

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Fushigi Yuugi Anime Song Translation

Another singable translation, this one from the opening song of the series Fushigi Yuugi (The Mysterious Play). It’s an interesting show in which two modern Japanese girls fall into an old Chinese fantasy novel. Unfortunately, one gets trapped there in a very bad situation and falls in with the villains, while the other is rescued by her true love. The two girls end up in an epic struggle between kingdoms, each wavering between friendship and hate as they try to do the right thing. It’d be a good show for older teenage girls, I’d say, except for the presence of a couple genderbending characters (but nothing worse than you’d find in an old Chinese martial arts fantasy novel).

And no, I don’t know why I’m on a roll with these, but I am. Enjoy!

Itooshii Hito no Tame ni
(For the Sake of My Beloved)
Fushigii Yuugi opening song
Lyrics: Aoki Kumiko
Music: Kiyo’oka Chiho
Singable translation: Maureen O’Brien, 4/26/04
(after Takayama Miyuki at and the album)

(O Phoenix, fly high,
Suzaku —
Miracle dancing….)

Legends waken. I feel the stir of destiny.
I can feel it — inside unfurls the re-al me.

(Far off the echo of “Wo ai ni”)
With you to lead me upon the path to go,
(My soul awakening inside me)
Another world is shimmering bright to see
And I see….

That for the sake of the one I love so true,
Now what can’t I do,
Now what can’t I do?
There never was a dream that did not come true.
Believe it’s true —
Wholeheartedly, I do.

Caught between them, earth and the starry heaven’s sky,
Sucked into this — adventure that could blow my mind.

(Show me your smile, please, say “Ni hao ma”)
With you to watch me, and always at my side
(Bright constellation of Love we saw)
Another wonder comes back into my mind —
You remind

Me of the once-in-a-lifetime way we met —
Carved in your spirit,
Please don’t you forget —
Whatever else love may be, I know I’d bet
It’s good to get —
I’m sure of that yet.

That for the sake of the one I love so true,
Now what can’t I do,
Now what can’t I do?
There never was a dream that did not come true.
Believe it’s true —
Wholeheartedly, I do.

(Open up to In-
Mysterious Play-y)

Another translation where I had to spin things out a bit to get the sound right. Not much, though. “Wo ai ni” means “I love you”, and “Ni hao ma” means “Hello” or “How are you?” If you ever watch the series, these Chinese phrases will be engraved on your brain; so I didn’t translate them.

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Mr. Dooley, Petroleum V. Nasby, and Friends

Lileks linked to an Ohio U. article on New Yorker humor today which, just in passing, mentioned Petroleum V. Nasby. I vaguely remembered having to memorize the name of this character in Ohio or American history, but hadn’t realized he’d supposedly been a Kentuckian or appeared in fake letters to the editor in the Toledo Blade. (But the Findlay paper first, apparently. Typical big city reductionism.) I felt annoyed at myself, because if I’d known when I was in Toledo, I probably could have read entire collections of the guy. So to repair my error, I Googled.

Indeed, the letters of Petroleum V. Nasby during the Reconstruction period seem to be pretty funny, so I’m sure his war and ante-bellum letters were equally so. Unfortunately, just as the political humor appears to be in the school of Mr. Dooley and his many predecessors, so does the dialectal humor. In other words, it’s hard as heck to read the dang thing. My dad (a patient and scholarly man) thinks Mr. Dooley is really funny and has a book of his pronouncements. I’ve never made it through the whole thing, just because it’s too bloody slow to read silently. Mark Twain and Kipling are the only ones I manage to slog through. (And the Dayton poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, but he was doing serious regional poetry after the style of Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley.)

Usually, I’m all for authorial intentions. No doubt there’s linguistic analysis that could be done on both characters. What the heck kind of weird Kentucky accent is Nasby saying, and where in Ireland birthed Mr. Dooley before he came to this country? Where did the authors screw up on the accent? Etc cetera. But … wouldn’t these characters be a lot easier to read today if we got rid of the dialectal spellings? (Of course, this would make the Reverend Nasby’s favorite term for African-Americans stand out rather glaringly. I seem to recall this being Mr. Dooley’s as well. Satire or no, I doubt that would go over well; but I suppose that it’s really a dialectal misspelling of “Negro”, and could be treated as such.)

But that does seem kinda weasel-y, doesn’t it? Not only overeager editing of the sort I deplore in Baen Books’ Eric Flint, but the kind which looks down the editorial nose at what the past was really like. It’s very easy to deplore the casual racism of those times…but we only have the kinder casualness of our times because the Civil War was fought and more than a hundred years of opinion-making done. By people like the creator of “Petroleum V. Nasby”.

So I guess the ideal presentation of dialectal characters from the past would be as an audiobook. If an actor read the dialectally-spelled words in the indicated accent, we would hear only a whimsical reading of what the author wrote, without having to worry about whether dialectal spelling is intrinsically a put-down of the people who speak that dialect. (A rather problematic allegation about folks like Dunbar, Whitcomb, and the Irish-American author of Mr. Dooley.) But it would have to be a very thick-skinned actor; while there are many people willing to say profanities in the service of art (or otherwise), I think most people would have a lot more problem with saying “n—-r” than “f–k”. But I guess if you could get an African-American to do the reading, and put enough warnings on the box about this being satire and inappropriate language, it might get sold unsued.

I think that would be a good thing. It’s a shame to let the thoughts and humor that influenced millions of Americans go silently into the night, read only by bored graduate students who think they’re big intellectual stuff for reading something so obscure, when they’re really reading Bloom County. Also, it’d be a good present for my dad.

It would also not be too far from the intent of the original authors. They almost certainly meant their work to be read aloud to one’s family or co-workers for the humor of it. They also went on lecture tours, just as Mark Twain did, doing dramatic readings of their works. In fact, Twain apparently really liked Locke’s performance of “Cussed Be Canaan”, according to this article. (The Library of Congress apparently has a picture of
David R. Locke as his character Petroleum V. Nasby
from one of these tours). So audiobooks would not just be more suited to today’s popular tastes; they could actually be pretty authentic.

Here’s a few more links. Mr. Dooley on golf, as presented by the scholarly golfers of Myrtle Beach, and on temperance, as presented by some kind of anti-anti-drug crusaders. Also, here’s Artemus Ward on visiting the Tower of London. Josh Billings seems to be represented on the Web mainly by quotes (in normalized spelling, of course….)

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Bubblegum Crisis Song Translation

This is something a bit obscure, but I think it’s a very fitting song for the times. Besides, I’ve just finally been able to find out what a lot of the songs on my old BGC Best Vocal Collection CD actually mean, so you get the results!

Bara no Soldier (Rose Soldier)
Bubblegum Crisis Ep. 5 Insert Song
Sung by: Tsubokura Yuiko
Lyrics/Composition/Arrangement: Makaino Kouji
Singable translation: Maureen S. O’Brien, 4/22/04
(After Takayama Miyuki at

Stabbing through the still there comes a sudden cry
Out of the earth’s quiet greenness.
Something’s blocking up that road as black as night —
With dazzling light plainly seen.
Look at you, angel, on the ground. Did something make your wings break?
Here and now keep living for tomorrow’s sake.

So-oldier, fighting to kill the wrong —
In your heart, the red roses will be —
So-oldier, this is the way of love
Until you can take up victory.

Here within your hands, there lies the future’s key.
Truth fights for you — the Resistance.
What sets spirits trembling in the di-istance —
The power of bravery.
Even blood flowing can be proof that you are really alive,
If you fight for those you love, so they’ll survive.

So-oldier, question of life or death —
In your heart the red roses will be —
So-oldier, meaning of life for you —
Until you can take up victory.

Joy of life, joy of living —
The birds that fly in the sky, and the flowers —
This is what we swore in our hearts,
This is what we swore in our hearts:
We would not keep silent and let it pass!

So-oldier, fighting to kill the wrong —
In your heart, the red roses will be —
So-oldier, this is the way of love
Until you can take up victory.

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Bubblegum Crisis

First off…this is not Bubblegum Crisis 2040. Certain persons are more tolerant of that remake series than I am. I’m glad it makes Linna, the least-used character in the old series, a main viewpoint character. But I don’t like the rest of the changes; so for me, it’s simpler just to ignore it entirely.

Because once upon a time, there was Bubblegum Crisis — a series I saw for the first time in the U of Michigan’s Student Union with their anime club. It featured an almost entirely female cast from all walks of life, who shared a secret identity as high-paid, justice-seeking, evil-corporation-fighting, robot-butt-kicking mercenaries in powered armor: the Knight Sabers.

Now, all of that was quite enough, even if you didn’t have subtitles, a translated script, or even more than a vague summary of the plot. You could tell what was going on. But there’s a saying that there’s seldom much wrong with a series if the music is good — and Bubblegum Crisis had one of the biggest and best hard rock soundtracks ever, not just in anime. Sung by the voice actors, what’s more. (Did I mention one of the Knight Sabers had her own band, Priss and the Replicants?) So of course I loved the show.

But then we got the subplots. Priss the musician is also the team’s red-suited, motorcycle-riding hothead. She has an admirer in Leon, one of the police detectives investigating both the mysterious giant robot malfunctions that keep devastating Megatokyo and the elusive Knight Sabers. And then there’s Leon’s partner. And then there’s Nene, who acts like a bubblehead but maintains a triple identity: Knight Saber, police clerk, and hacker. Meanwhile, the overarching story is of Sylia’s revenge against the Genom Corporation for killing her father and tampering with the robots he designed. There are a lot of twists in each episode as well, but I’ll let you discover them for yourself.

I should mention there are a couple annoying things about the show. The team’s leader, Sylia, runs a lingerie shop as cover and funding source. Her little brother (the team driver) occasionally tries to check out the team members while they’re putting their armor on. In other words, typical Japanese “fan service” moments.

In general, however, the show is a wonderful, fun, and exciting trip to a cyberpunk future full of rubble, robots, horrors, and hope. I recommend it without reservation.

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Anime Singable Translation: “Coppelia’s Coffin” from Noir

Again, this takes a few liberties for the sake of filling up syllabobbles. Otherwise, it’s not bad. Note the Eucharistic theme! In the opening credits, the song at first seems fairly harsh and critical of Christianity, but when you hear the whole song, it ends up supporting it. But I never really doubted it; the cry of “Kami” in the song is heartrending.

Coppelia ni Hitsugi (Coppelia‘s Coffin)
Noir opening song
Sung by: Ali Project
Lyrics: Houno Arika
Composition/Arrangement: Katakura Mikiya
Singable translation: Maureen S. O’Brien, 4/22/04
(after the DVD subtitles and Elwen Skye at

Coppelia’s encoffining —
All the tears that once were flowing have completely gone dry.
Loneliness thirsts for blood-drinking.
Death is dancing — with him, bringing
The perfume of angels’ hair and angels’ wings.


In the town where the sun is black
And it never is setting,
People look like a magic trick;
That’s how silently folks keep working.
Walls of metal that close me in
In the room they’re enclosing —
As soon as I lay down my head
I sleep like the dead till it’s morning.

I look for You. I can’t see You,
Not with these eyes. I can’t see You,
God who created us all from the rocks and clay.

Coppelia’s encoffining —
All those people are just dolls who’ve tired out from the dance.
Lamb on the altar, Offering —
You can see the clockwork dreams
All the mechanics of their schemes — where will they go?

Prophecies of Apocalypse
Are what they’re now announcing.
On the doors of the neighborfolk
Who live near, I hear soldiers pounding.
Folded fingers, there’s thousands there
Like birds with folded wi-ings,
But it’s only their many prayers,
That can fly to the sky, arising.

I look for You – I can’t meet You,
Not around here. I can’t meet You,
God who can save us, o God who can set us free.

Coppelia’s encoffining —
All the tears that once were flowing have completely gone dry.
Loneliness thirsts for blood-drinking.
Death is dancing — with him, bringing
The perfume of angels’ hair and angels’ wings.


But even so — I want to touch,
And with these hands — I want to clutch,
The one and only Love that is protecting us.

Coppelia’s heart pulsating —
Oh, the thing is, to be living is to be feeling pain.
Throw off my shoes, go barefooting,
And without a single doubt,
I will set out to wear that footpath down again.

Coppelia’s encoffining —
O light waking in the darkness, springing forth like the dawn,
Lamb on the altar — offering,
What about the clockwork dream
Whose spring has run down, poor machine? Where will it go?

* “encoffining” — Instead of ‘coffin’. It’s all for the syllables and rhyme, I swear.
* “angels’ hair and angels’ wings” — The DVD seemed very sure about it being feathery down from angels’ wings, but everybody else seems to think it’s angel hair. I combined them for peace of mind.
* “as soon as I lay down my head” — Added.
* “from the rocks and clay” — “Pebbles” in the original. Shrug.
* “Lamb on the altar” — The original says “sheep”. I don’t know if there’s a word for “lamb” in Japanese, and if there is, if it fits the scansion.
* “All the mechanics of their schemes” — Added.
* “Like birds with folded wings” — The original just says “folded like wings” and was probably making another angel image, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that fit.
* “That can fly to the sky” — Added.
* “Coppelia’s heart pulsating” — The original had “Coppelia’s heartbeat”.
* “go barefooting” — Added.
* “springing forth like the dawn” — Added.
* “poor machine” — Added.

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More Proof That Journalists Aren’t

I hear that CBS ran footage of the dying Princess of Wales last night. British journalists are outraged. When UK tabloids look down on you, I think you should mend your ways.

Meanwhile, if anyone happens to see Dan Rather, ask him what Edward R. Murrow would’ve thought of that. If you can be heard above the sound of CBS News spinning in its grave.

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Someday’s Dreamers Anime Song Translation

Here’s my singable translation of the closing song for each episode, “Under the Blue Sky”. (The credits only use the first verse and chorus, but there’s a music video on Volume 1 that includes the whole song.) I used both the subtitles on the DVD and the translation by Kevin at to figure this puppy out. I’m afraid it’s a bit freer translation than I like, but since the Japanese used an awful lot of syllables for concepts that don’t take long to say in English….

“Under the Blue Sky”
by The Indigo
Singable translation: Maureen S. O’Brien, 4/19/04

Even now, when I look behind me it’s still right there,
The tomorrow I always gave my all to pursue.
Inside my heart’s what really matters —
Precious things beyond compare.
I made a wish that was my own prayer
On an drifting cloud unseen beyond the blue.

Under the blue sky,
That day we were together — dreamed this dream up — you remember?
Don’t ever make us wake,
Oh, please don’t ever make it end.
Under the blue sky,
Here’s hopin’ you and I will keep on goin’ while we’re glowin’,
And may the journey without end…continue.

We can swear to each word fell out of our mouths that day
And they change into power, transforming all they find.
The stubborn stains of an old sorrow that no tears can wash away —
You made them vanish — presto change-o!
With the magic that they just call being kind.

Under the blue sky,
That day we were together, trading words — oh, you remember?
While they were coming true,
While watching over me and you.
Under the blue sky,
And now the time that tied up to the future, to tomorrow,
It’s set itself to start to move, even now.


* Tomorrow: Originally, “the future”.
* “what really matters” and “precious things”: Both are meanings of “taisetsu na mono”. Also found in the original title of the series, Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Mono (Things Important to Magic Users).
* “beyond compare”: Added.
* “that was my own prayer”: added.
* “drifting cloud still unseen beyond the blue”: You write a line about a blue, drifting, still-unseen cloud.
* “you remember”: Added.
* “keep on goin’ while we’re glowin'”: Originally “go on walking while we’re shining”.
* “presto change-o”: Added.
* power: chikara, not mahou. Mahou is used in the line about the magic called kindness.
* “oh, you remember”: Added again.
* “to tomorrow”: Added.

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Anime Recommendation: Someday’s Dreamers

From the classy folks at Pioneer Animation…I mean, Geneon… comes the 12-episode show Someday’s Dreamers (aka Mahou Tsukai na Taisetsu ni Mono: Someday’s Dreamers). It’s a sweet, simple story set in a world just like our own, but with mages scattered among the population. This is Japan, so of course all certified mages are part of the Bureau of Mage Labor, acting only on duly filed and approved citizen requests. Of course there are exams that young mages must pass or give up magic. So, just like thousands of Japanese high school juniors, Yume (the name means dream) must leave her family’s farm for Tokyo during her summer vacation, to go cram like a maniac. (Many, like Tenchi in Tenchi in Tokyo, even move to Tokyo for the last few years of high school to get a better chance of passing the college exams or do special study.) But Yume’s teacher is a quiet, sober Class B Master Mage who also owns the salsa bar downstairs. (And how the show manages that subplot while remaining quiet and dignified itself…’s amazing.) As Yume’s warm and impulsive heart keeps getting the country girl in trouble, Mr. Oyamada’s patience and judgement is a lesson in itself. But Yume also learns that she can change things for the better, and that she doesn’t even need her magic to do it.

Interestingly, this show actually features a Christian character, albeit a foreigner. Angela Brooks is a young mage from England who’s come to Japan to be trained by Japan’s enigmatic Chief Mage Ginpun. Angela wears a cross necklace all the time and uses an angel-winged cross as her heraldic badge. (All mages register a badge in this world; it helps ID their magic.) But there’s really nothing more to it than the look — though we’ll see how Volume 3 works out. (Some think the way Angela’s played is a parody of Witch Hunter Robin.)

There’s absolutely nothing in this show to cause a parent a moment’s anxiety, and yet it’s got enough meat in it to satisfy older kids. There is a certain amount of joking in this show about other anime series; for example, the first few shows counter all the cleavage shots elsewhere with shots of men’s bare chests, there’s several characters designed like bishonen, and one woman who can’t get a date with Mr. Oyamada decides he’s gay. (Mr. Oyamada is actually still grieving for his wife, who passed away several years ago.) I haven’t watched the dub yet, though it’s pretty good from what I hear. It gets a bit annoying, though, to have “mahou” constantly translated as “Special Power”, when everywhere else it’s translated as “magic”. Is everybody afraid of Rowling’s lawyers?

The show itself is visually beautiful and has a sweet soundtrack using classical piano and contemporary Celtic music to good advantage. (The soundtrack is available in a US edition including an 18 page insert with lyrics and everything. Go, Pioneer!…er, Geneon!) Each episode is chock-full of the details that make up a Tokyo summer. Also, Yume speaks with a Tohoku accent (though I have trouble picking out what’s so different about it).

All in all, it’s a lovely series you may come to love.

Other reviews from Anime Academy (with pictures), Sci-Fi Channel, DVD Verdict, and

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St. Expeditus Don’t Get No Respect

Yes, I’ve heard the crate story. In enough versions that I don’t believe it anymore. So it wasn’t too surprising to find out that St. Expeditus appeared in a 5th century martyrology (though one notorious for having enough misspellings to drive Nihil Obstat around the bend); he was one of a group of martyrs killed in Melitene, on April 19th in the year 303. Devotion to St. Expeditus seems to have begun in the Middle Ages thanks to his punning name (“Expeditus” means a kind of Roman footsoldier marching unimpeded by baggage, as well as “fast”). The usual iconography shows a Roman soldier holding a cross marked “Hodie” (Today) stepping on a raven crawing “Cras!” (Tomorrow). Devotion originally centered in Sicily and Italy and seems to have spread out from there, especially in seafaring towns.

Devotion to saints can sometimes be a scandal to non-Catholics, and things like the crate story don’t help. It also doesn’t help that childlike faith can sometimes sound a lot like belief in magic. (And if you’re not careful, it can go that way literally, as with all that voodoo syncretism.) So it’s easy to point and laugh and not look farther — much easier than trying to understand a tradition that is helpful to many people around the world.

But I’ll stick my neck out. There is something nice about people in urgent need being able to turn to a brother from the early Church. History may not even have gotten his name right, but God can turn even a typo into a help and encouragement for his people. I’m sure Expeditus doesn’t mind being known as God’s footsoldier. I’m not ashamed to know him, either.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in this week heading up to his festival, St. Expeditus seems to be getting very popular in Brazil.

The interesting thing to notice here is that the usual urban legend about the crates resurfaces, but this time it’s supposed to be in Paris instead of Sao Paulo, New Orleans, or Haiti. Usually everybody seems to be convinced that the crate stamped “Expedite” showed up _in their city_, which is a sure sign that it prolly ain’t true.

A nice webpage full of good info, taking St. Expeditus’ popularity back into medieval times. Additional info in Italian, if you want to use the Fish. Also, an archive of iconography — in the form of Word documents, for some bizarre reason! Anyway, the Italian site not only quotes the actual martyrology lists, but also theorizes that the iconography comes from an artistic representation of how the soul should not put off following Christ, but instead do it “hodie”.In this interp, the raven is either a devil or the soul’s own annoying procrastination. This makes good sense to me.

This Argentinean site has a lot of nice things, including a list of churches.

San Expedito’s Church in Renaca, Chile includes some very nice pictures and a local hymn to St. Expeditus. If you stay on long enough, you can hear it!

A rough translation:

Patron Saint Expedito,
You clear up the fog on the sea
So that in the firmament
The sunlight will shine more brightly
And so your contented village
Can sing to Love and Peace: (ie, God)

“Long live our protector,
St. Expedito.
Warrior martyr of Christ,
We thank your Lord.
Long live our protector,
St. Expedito,
Loyal and blessed shield,
You call on the Lord “today”!”

Strong and straightforward patron,
With Our Mother you are
United to all your children
Before this temple of peace.
And so Renaca is witness
Like the sun, it shines brighter.


The site also includes the cutest folk prayer yet: “San Expedito, San Expedito, concedemelo altirito!”

A page full of images courtesy of the “Republic of Molossia”, which is some guy out in Nevada. Nice page, even though it’s a joke.

Catholic Forum’s page is short and sweet.

Saints Preserved claims St. Expedite’s patronage for computer programmers. Heh. Also note yet _another_ version of the urban legend.

A nice explanation of the Sicily connection.

Check out Dr Bob’s rather cute image of St. Expeditus bookin’ it! He replaces the raven with a gator…. 😉 OTOH, I’m not impressed with the domain rates. There’s also an express package company in the UK named Expeditus after the saint.

St. Expeditus in the Philippines.

Czech church with a St. Expeditus painting from 1760 (not shown).

An overview of New Orleans voodoo tours, which mentions the Church of Our Lady of Guadelupe and its famous statue of St. Expedite. What isn’t said here, but I read on a Catholic blog, is that there’s also a statue of St. Jude on the other side of church. So SOP is to tell St. Jude about your impossible problem, then go over to the other side and ask St. Expedite to see about getting it done fast. No wonder the police and fire departments use this parish as their own, having lots of emergencies and hopeless cases to deal with….

A novena to St. Expeditus.

Google has a cached entertainment column from Malaya – The National Newspaper
, which includes a prayer to St. Expeditus as “the bearer of money”. In order to thank the saint, you’re supposed to give alms to the elderly or a pregnant woman. This is the kind of devotion that sounds kinda iffy…but I guess it’s no worse than the Jabez prayer.

Another folk prayer to St. Expeditus.

This Argentinean site includes more folk prayers: “San Expedito, San Expedito, dame lo que necesito” and “Confio en ti, San Expedito, que cubras con tu mano bienhechora todo lo que necesito”. (“St. Expedito, St. Expedito, give me what is needed” and “I trust in you, St. Expedito, that you will cover with your benefactory hand all that is needed”. (“Good-doing” just doesn’t work in English, does it?) There’s also another hymn to St. Expeditus:

“A thousand hymns to glorious Expedito
Who shed his blood in Armenia
Your name is written in heaven
And you won the martyr’s laurel.”

(The skywritten name on the other Argentinean site is probably a reference to this hymn.)

This Argentinean site even includes a litany of St. Expeditus, as well as pictures of a procession through the website’s hometown and a prayer card to print out.

The Detroit Free Press suggests celebrating St. Expeditus’ Day by sending checks to all those charities you’ve been meaning to get around to.

Happy St. Expeditus’ Day, fellow procrastinators! May St. Expeditus pray for us, that like him, we may find at our deaths that we have traveled to heaven most expeditiously!


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Basic Motivations of Tolkien’s LOTR Characters

There are two main groups here, although some chars (like Aragorn and Arwen) are a blend of both groups. Older characters are people with power who are busy using it. They’ve already figured out what they want to do with life; the only question is how to achieve their goals. (These chars are largely misrepresented in the movies, because Hollywood only lets villains have long term plans. So Elrond and Denethor become even more semi-villainous, while everyone else is made planless.) Younger characters are people with some or no power who want to do something with their lives but aren’t sure just what. They want adventure, power, parental and community respect, experience of the world, and members of the opposite sex. (These chars are largely misrepresented in the movies, because “reckless, hyper, and imperfectly clued” is consistently replaced by “stupid”.)

Frodo: do something with his life as cool as his uncle/fosterfather did, get away from annoying people, get rid of this stupid ring, see the world, and move out of his own basement.

Sam: stick with Frodo, get out of father’s basement, see the world and elves! Also, do something to impress Rosie (and Rosie’s dad).

Pippin: stick with Frodo, see the world and be a hero!

Merry: stick with Frodo, see the world and find a father who cares.

Gandalf: get the job done and clean up Saruman’s and Sauron’s mess. Do a little Machiavellian powermongering as a hobby on the side.

Tom Bombadil: Machiavellian powermonger with plans so long term even the Valar can’t figure ’em out.

Goldberry: Machiavellian powermonger.

Aragorn: Machiavellian powermonger with longterm plan coming to fruition, who fully intends to get the kingdom and the girl. He must impress her father (his fosterfather and ever-so-many-greats-granduncle) to get her.

Arwen: Machiavellian powermonger with longterm plan coming to fruition which will allow her to get the boy and move out of her father’s basement.

Elrond: Machiavellian powermonger who just wants to see his wife again, and has to either see his daughter Queen of Gondor or Aragorn definitely a loser before he can leave Middle Earth. Also, needs to defend his kingdom against major orc and troll offensive and clean up Sauron’s mess. Loves, respects and funds his fosterson Aragorn and his Machiavellian plans.

Galadriel: Machiavellian powermonger who has trained Arwen and Aragorn well, and whose really long term plans of finessing the Valar are coming to fruition. Also, needs to defend her kingdom against major Mordor offensive and clean up Sauron’s mess.

Saruman: Machiavellian powermonger who knows better than anyone and thinks it’s time for progress and for academics to rule the world. Well, one academic, anyway. Getting rid of the Valar is a soluble problem.

Legolas: See the world, do something fun and exciting, and get out of his father’s cavernous basement.

Gimli: See the world and get out of his dad’s cousin’s basement. Impress Galadriel.

Boromir: Be a hero! Also, semi-Machiavellian powermonger who finds out he may not get the kingdom after all, which might make getting girls harder.

Denethor: Machiavellian powermonger who’s losing the kingdom and lost the girl long ago. Win, dammit! And if winning is impossible, then nobody can have Gondor or his son! Especially not Aragorn, who was annoyingly good at impressing the kingdom and the girls back in the day. Really wishes Faramir didn’t remind him of Aragorn, as it makes him wonder. (J/K! But seriously, the whole goodlooking scholar/bard/warrior thing apparently sets Denethor off something fierce.)

Faramir: Non-Machiavellian powermonger who doesn’t want the kingdom or expect any girls. Just wants his father’s love and respect. (This the movie kept, though without most other char parallels.) A really nice guy who is heap psychic used to fighting off temptations to grasp at his brother’s power, and thus can fight off the Ring just like Aragorn. (This the movie dumped.)

Theoden: Non-Machiavellian powermonger who thinks losing the kingdom’s inevitable. Protect the kingdom and his sister’s kids. Avenge himself on Saruman and keep the faith with Gondor.

Wormtongue: Machiavellian powermonger who’s out to steal the kingdom and seduce the girl. (Him the movie just made stupider; the motivations they kept.)

Eomer: Get his uncle/fosterfather’s respect. Die well. Protect Eowyn and Theoden, his only family left alive, and defend the kingdom.

Eowyn: Get people to take her seriously. Die well because life sucks. Get the guy she wants, or die well so he’ll be sorry. Figure out something to do with her life when suicide-by-orc fails her.

Ioreth: Say “I told you so” with gusto.

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Write Your Own Caption!

Mike Peters had a very nasty and logic-deficient cartoon up today in the Dayton Daily News. (Lengthy and annoying registration required.) Far be it from me to fool with Mr. Peters’ copyright, so, a summary.

Picture: a bishop standing with his hands folded.
“If you’re a pro-choice Catholic, you can’t ever receive Communion.”

Picture: bishop smirking behind his hand.
“…but if you’re a pedophile priest, we’ll just move you to another parish.”

So basically, he’s saying that two wrongs mean nothing can ever again be wrong. This is particularly unfair as Archbishop O’Malley (to whose pronouncement he is referring) has been one of the good guys helping to get rid of the pedophiles and bind the wounds of the pedophiles’ victims. But let’s not let truth get in the way of a good distortion.

So I would like to present a challenge to my readers. Let’s recaption Mr. Peters’ speech balloons!

Bishops That Mike Peters Might Like Better Than O’Malley:

“Being Catholic means respecting life.”
“…For felons, I mean, not fetuses.”

“If we’re in a state of grace, Communion gives us life.”
“But if we’re in the state of Massachusetts, it’s more important to give babies death!”

“Because of the pedophile scandal, we can never again make a moral judgement.”
“…Permanent vacation!”

For Folks Who Think O’Malley Said Too Little:

“Rape kids — zero tolerance. Kill kids — zero communion.”
“…But we’ll let your nonexistent conscience enforce that last one.”

What If Archbishop O’Malley Was Really Strict?

“We’ll support Mr. Kerry’s position on the separation of church and state…”
“…if he’ll promise to separate from this Church and this state!”

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The “Books That Changed Your Life” Meme

If Terry Teachout and my friend Az are doing it, I suppose I shall have to do likewise. I’m only sorry I can’t be as revealing.

1. Flip by Wesley Dennis. It’s a great book. It’s a beautiful book. However, it’s cruel to give a colt wings and then reveal that it was only a dream, even if there’s more story after that and a happy ending. If I ever ever write a story that was only a dream, you’ll know that I have cruelly betrayed my inner two-year-old fangirl. But this was also the book which showed me that I really liked fantasy, so I can’t hate it too much.

2. The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I loved the fantasy series, and I was delighted when I finally figured out Aslan’s secret identity at seven or so. My love for story arcs, high medieval and classical folklore, and my stubborn counterculturalism were all fed by this novel. But it’s the eschatological vision that has stayed with me.

3. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d read The Hobbit when I was younger, of course, but I kept bouncing off the scariness after Bilbo’s party. When I was six or seven, I finally girded up my loins and fled past the Black Riders. I read all three over a weekend or so, and was caught for the rest of my life. I majored in linguistics because of Tolkien. Unfortunately, nobody told me that Tolkien had watched his beloved philology die and be replaced by linguistics. Sigh.

4. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. When I was 15, nobody else was telling me that I didn’t have to feel what other people thought appropriate. Dorothy L. Sayers stood up for me. She very likely saved my life.

5. Larousse’s Mythology, in one of the older editions with the Robert Graves introduction. Back when I was a big fan of Mighty Isis (isis isis isis) on TV, my parents bought me Larousse at the Dayton/Montgomery County book sale. I learned all about all kinds of gods, some neat and some repulsive. I learned all kinds of things about philology and archaeology and anthropology…and unlike Az, I felt no inclination whatsoever to become a pagan. I just loved the stories and pictures. (Though I did feel kind of embarrassed by all the nekkid Greek statues.) Possibly this is because I was so disappointed in the real Mighty Isis (isis isis isis), although the whole saga of sewing Osiris back together had its moments. But it gave me a real window into worlds full of stories and poetry, which most people today have trouble referencing.

6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Meg was another one who saved my life and taught me a lot about my religion. Also the book that made me realize I was a science fiction fan.

7. Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl. The book that eventually made me a Star Trek fan, and definitely the book that made me want to be a writer. It was amazingly impressive to a fourth-grader, and it still holds up as a darned good book. I have three copies on my shelf, thank you very much. Meeting the author online was an amazing experience for me. (She happened to join the same mailing list I was on. I saw her name and couldn’t help asking if she was in any way related to that Engdahl…about five minutes ahead of all her other fans on the list….) Her return to the world of publishing has been a delight to my soul. I only wish she’d get the urge to write some new fiction.

8. The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust. The novel that opened up all those glorious 19th century novels to me. I thought I’d read Dumas…but I hadn’t. I thought I’d read Austen…but I was wrong. Even my beloved Sabatini came to new life after reading Brust’s loving tribute. I only wish I’d bought the darned book in hardcover.

9. The Story of a Soul by St. Therese de Lisieux. Insofar as I have ever been a mystic or know anything about theology, I got there by following Therese. Knox’s translation is a lot better than what I read in school, so try that.

10. Le Ton Beau de Marot by Douglas Hofstadter. Got me off my butt and doing translations. A dazzling and heartbreaking read.

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