Monthly Archives: January 2007

This Hasn’t Been an Easy Month for Our Net Friends, No.

Miscarriage deaths. Parental deaths. Fiance deaths. And now, this, via Locus:

David Eddings accidentally burns down his office.

And his vintage sportscar, driveway junipers, and original mss. Plus the fax to his sick wife’s doctor.

I’m not a David Eddings fan, but the man’s 75 years old and supporting his wife and mother. Losing your workspace and all your stuff — it would make you just feel sick. I think prayers are called for. (I don’t see any call for donations at Locus, though, so the insurance must have been all paid up.)

Come on, February.


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January 31 in the Irish Martyrologies

From the Martyrology of Gorman:

Forba in mis do Mhaedocc,
dom-Chumma cain comraind,
do Mhaelanfaidh amgand,
do Chainnech, do Chairnan,
do Lug-aed fial amlond,
do Ebnait dia n-adhramm,
do Metran mhor mholta
dan dolta ‘sin dagrand,
do Saturnin sarmaith
in lanraith dia labramm,
do Sillan seng saerocc,
do da-Thaedoc tabram.
A noemh uile Enair
do erail ar n-anmann.

The month’s finish let us give to Maedoc,
to Cumma — a fair participation —
to Mael-Anfaid the generous;
to Cainnech; to Caernan;
to Lug-aed, modest, gentle;
to Ebnait whom we honor;
to Metranus the great and lauded —
a poem told in good stanza —
to Saturninus, excellently good,
fully gracious, of whom we speak;
to Sillan, slender, noble warrior;
to your Taedoc —
Every saint of January
to direct our souls.

From the Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee:

Pridie cal. Febr.

Sluind Aed fortren Ferna,
Mael-anfaid ainm remain,
benait co mBrig romoir
barr find for sluag enair.

Declare strong Aed of Ferns,
Mael-anfaid, a name preeminent:
they strike with mighty Brig
a fair end (Barrfind) on January’s host.

I really like the notes!

Maedoc of Ferns, i.e. “my Aedoc”, i.e. of the Fir Luirc of
Lough Erne was he…

Fifty bishops of the Britons of Cell Muine came on their
pilgrimage to Maedoc of Ferns. They came because Maedoc of Ferns
was a pupil of David of Cell Muine. From David’s time, flesh was
not brought into the refectory of Cell Muine until
Maedoc’s successor brought it, and hence David’s strife
and contumacy towards the successor that brought it; and
his remaining in the refectory, i.e. the abbacy of Cell
Muine, with his feet not touching the ground, so long as
he was alive. So they came in pilgrimage to Maedoc.

They were taken into the guest-house in the Lent of spring. There
was brought them for dinner fifty cakes, and leeks, and whey-water.

“Why has this been brought?” says the bishop.

“For you to consume it,” says the house-steward.

“Take it away,” says the bishop: “nothing shall be consumed
until there is a pig and an ox there.”

The house-steward relates this. “Permission,” says Maedoc.

It is brought to them. “‘Tis well,” quoth he. They eat the meat.
They are there until the morrow.

Maedoc salutes them. “Well,” says Maedoc, “it is not too
much to reprove you for eating the meat in Lent and refusing
the bread.”

“Not from study have you delivered that, o Maedoc,” says the bishop.

“Well?” says Maedoc.

“Easy,” quoth the bishop. “The pig drank its mother’s milk,
and the ox which was brought ate nothing but the grass of
the earth. But in the cakes there were three hundred sixty-five
weevils; therefore, we did not consume it.”

Mael-anfaid, i.e. abbot of Dairinis, i.e. at Mochutu’s Lismore is
Dairinis, where a great river goes out to sea…

That is the Mael-anfaid who beheld a certain little bird a-wailing
and lamenting. “O my God,” says he, “What has happened yonder?
I will not partake of food until it is revealed to me.”

Now, when he was there, he saw an angel coming toward him. “That is
well, o cleric,” says the angel, “do not let this put you into
grief any more. Molua mac Ocha has died, and therefore all living
creatures bewail him, for never has he killed any animal, little or
big: so human beings do not bewail him more than the other animals and
the little bird which you see.”

*leaping to conclusion* So now we also know where the name “Dairine” comes from!

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January 30 in the Irish Martyrologies

From the Martyrology of Gorman:

Ypolit uais, Enan,
Aldeguind og amra,
Mathias tend eirbe,
Alexander aitchimm,
Bathild dagfial delbda,
la Flauian co feidle:
Barrfind, Ternoc thuirmthir,
Cronan, cruimthir Eilbe.

Noble Hippolytus, Enan:
Aldegundis, marvellous virgin;
Matthias, a strong fence;
Alexander, I beseech.
Bathildis, excellently modest, shapely,
with Flavianus the steadfast:
Barrfind, Ternoc who is reckoned,
Cronan, Eilbe the priest.

From the Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee:

iii. cal. Febr.

Coecae ar cet martir
martrae morsus dorus,
ainsium ar lin ammus
Enan Roiss rin solus!

Fifty and a hundred martyrs,
the door of martyrdom magnified them:
may Enan of Ross(mor), the bright star,
protect me against a number of temptations!

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Wherein the Blogger Is Bitter against Whitley Stokes

Whitley Stokes, I am disappointed in you.

I have trusted you all these years to give me a true translation of Irish mss, and what do you do?

You lie to me! By omission, granted. But still! Whitley, my trusted Whitley!

Sigh.Yes, I went over to the Corpus of Electronic Texts to take a gander at the Vita of St. Brigit (whose feastday is the 1st of February) from the Leabhar Breac and its translation by Whitley Stokes. I was reading a bit more closely than usual the reference bits of the Bible verses, since we now have the Douay Rheims and Vulgate online, and what did I see?

Whole paragraphs of the vita’s preface discussion of virginity were left out! PARAGRAPHS! What kind of lame excuse for scholarship is THAT!? I expect more from my Victorians!

And I can do something about the Latin, but the Middle Irish? In time for St. Brigid’s Day? Good luck with that!

(I will also mention that the CELT English translation text had been proofread twice, but retained multiple lovely misspellings of common English words. Like “preganant”. Yeah, buddy, those grad students were sure doing a great job proofing. Yuppers.)

Bah, I say. Bah and humbug.

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January 29 in the Irish Martyrologies

In Félire Húi Gormáin (The Martyrology of Gorman):

Mo Chenna, Blath bulid,
Cronan cian o chintaib,
Dallan mac fial Forgail,
Papias, Maurus milidh,
tri clarenich cardair:
Ualeir co n-aeib ordain,
Segein ro siacht toethir,
la Boethin nar’ borbaig.

My Cenna, blooming Blath,
Cronan far from crimes,
Dallan, Forgail’s modest son:
Papias, Maurus, the soldiers.
Three table-faced ones are loved:
Valerius with dignity’s beauty,
Segein who reached the silent land, [ie, Heaven]
with Boethin who wrought no rudeness.

In Félire Óengusso Céli Dé (The Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee):

iv. cal. Febr.

Ain epscoip ro radius
ron-snadat diar ndilius,
Hipolitus, Paulus,
Gillas, Constantinus.

Splendid the bishops I’ve mentioned —
May they protect us to our possession!
Hippolytus, Paulus,
Gildas, Constantinus.

From Whitley Stokes’ translation and editing, and from, of course.

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Happy St. Blath’s Day!

It’s the feastday of St. Blath of Kildare (pronounced ‘blah’, means ‘flower’), the incredibly patient and incredibly skilled cook among the nuns of St. Brigid’s monastery in Cell Dara! It was said that bread and bacon in St. Brigid’s house tasted better than a feast anywhere else.

Why did this make her a saint?

Because St. Brigid was always giving away the food, or inviting home a zillion guests, or trusting in God to make sure there’d be enough milk, bread, and bacon in the house. For St. Blath, every day was a chef’s mission impossible. But somehow, as folks with vows of poverty usually do, God provided, and the nuns didn’t have to fast much more than they were supposed to. (With help from Brigid’s miraculous luck with getting food given to them, flitches of bacon back from dogs who stole them a month ago, and cows giving more milk than physically possible.)

Now, my old fake etymology explanation that St. Blath is St. Blog, and that ‘blah, blah, blah’ comes from her name, was of course a joke. But I still think she’s well in the spirit of our ‘parish’. It’s been a hard month for many of us, I know, and I hope that patient, practical St. Blath will remember those of us who are grieving. She didn’t ask for her crazy life, either. But she trusted in God and kept going, and it did work out in the end.

Blath, Blath, Blath, pray for us.


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An Alternate Bakumatsu Anime?

If you’ve watched Rurouni Kenshin, you know the Bakumatsu — the period when the shogunate fought various rebellions,  the rebels strove to bring down the shogunate and put in a new “imperial” government, and all while foreigners traded in Japan courtesy of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship “diplomacy” and brought in change after change.

So… an alternate history Bakumatsu anime? With an acting troupe? And geisha? And all sorts of real historical characters tangled up in ahistorical revenge plots, conspiracies, and magic? And all sorts of pretty and cool things?

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been sucked into another intellectual, arty magic kenjutsu anime full of history I don’t know, the way other people are suckers for bishonen or pretty girls with guns. But dang it, at least I’m a highly cultured fangirl sucker for this stuff. 🙂

The name of this thing is *take deep breath* Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto.

Watch for it.

UPDATE: Spelling fixed. Also, the meaning of the title is apparently something like “Bakumatsu Machinery of Power Theory: Colorful Flowers Must Fade”. That last bit is all the first line of a poem — a poem which incidentally determines the order of the Japanese syllabary. It probably is using it both in the sense of “The ABCs of the Factions That Made History” and the sense that “all these characters and factions will pass away shortly, due to the new world they’ve made”.

Btw, if all this isn’t enough for you, the manga of Gintama is readily available in American stores and the anime is probably coming soon. Gintama imagines what would have happened if 19th century Japan had been visited by black starships full of aliens instead of US navy ships.  Suddenly Bakumatsu Edo is reimagined with limos and VCRs, basically. And giant monsters are rampaging through Tokyo for a reason — the aliens brought them along as pets.

It’s a pretty funny concept, but for a non-Japanese person, it’s more of a heh. I mean, it’s hard to really get into the game when you keep remembering, “Oh, yeah, they’re comparing us — or our ancestors — to these crazy, incomprehensible alien critters.” OTOH, it is definitely good skiffy entertainment.

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Battlefield Britain

I keep forgetting to recommend this awesome show! You get to see all kinds of great UK battlefields, and thus get to see how the terrain worked. You also get to see reenactors and learn interesting facts. (Red was the cheapest dyestuff in Cromwell’s time. Hence the redcoats.)

Tonight it’s Culloden. Gorgeous Scottish scenery. So gorgeous.

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This is an interesting post on what was really going on in the sixth Harry Potter book. I’m really kinda surprised that people feel so much resistance to the theory (whether right or wrong). After all, it should be abundantly clear at this point that Harry Potter is as much a mystery series as it is a fantasy or a boarding school saga.

Mystery writers misdirect. It’s in the job description. The more elaborate the misdirection, the better they like it.

The English misdirect as a war strategy. C’mon, people, are we not abundantly familiar with all the measures used to protect the D-Day secret?

So should Harry be all devastated if it turns out Dumbledore and Snape staged a few things to protect security and defeat Voldemort? No. There’s a war on. Harry is essentially a walking security leak to Voldemort as well as the wizarding world’s greatest weapon against him. So a few security countermeasures would be extremely prudent.

Does this remove Harry’s heroic status? Of course not. There are plenty of spy and mystery heroes who find themselves in the position of knowing the least of all the players — shadowed and spied upon by the bad guys, and forced to use intuition and logic to figure out if their friends have turned or are simply forced to do things by circumstances they can’t currently explain.

A minor player with limited and sometimes faulty knowledge is a player still. A pawn can be made a queen — or any other piece, for that matter. Harry’s heroism consists in doing the best with the situation he’s in and the knowledge he has — exactly the same situation as that of Dumbledore, if it comes to that.


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Book of Betrayal Becomes Treacherously Marketed Movie

Why would anyone make a movie out of a book which clearly hates its readers?

Why would the trailers suggest that it’s a feel-good fantasy flick, when in reality it’s a book about the sudden suicide senseless accidental death of one of its protagonists?

Yes, my children, it’s time for another generation to be traumatized, betrayed, and thrown into deep suicidal or homicidal depression by Bridge to Terabithia. Now with more special effects to make you feel even worse!

You know, there are truly awful, and truly evil, authors out there who do not deserve one half the opprobrium and public humiliation which Katherine Paterson deserves for inflicting this book upon the defenseless tots of the world. Yes, all in all I think Philip Pullman is probably less damaging to young psyches when he literally kills God than is a writer who spits upon the very idea of having any contract with her readership, and feels no need to provide a rounded storyline instead of a slap in the face.

Now, mind you, it’s not the death of a protagonist that I object to. That happens. (Heck, I love anime and opera, not to mention Shakespeare.)

But it’s a sudden and senseless death, almost entirely unforeshadowed. IIRC (which I may not, as I was trying hard not to beat the borrowed book against the wall or rip out any pages, and my first read was my last), the death was also blamed upon The Evils of Imagination and Role-Playing, as was almost all geek suicide back in the eighties. (Apparently The Evils of Getting Stuffed Into Lockers never caused suicidal thoughts in anyone, but a bit of pleasant musing, friendly socialization, and/or dice rolling did.) So the death of the protagonist is not the writer’s fault — it’s the fault of the other protagonist, and the reader, and any other rotten little kid who dares to have an imagination. (Never buy another fantasy book, kids, or we _real_ writers will kill a puppy!)

If anyone out there takes a child who does not know the story’s ending to see Bridge to Terabithia, he or she is a sadist. (If there is any child out there who, knowing the ending, actually wants to see the movie, he or she is a masochist or a very gothic Goth, but that’s your and the child’s problem.)

My true regret is that Dorothy Parker never lived to skewer Bridge to Terabithia with a mot juste. But surely she would agree that “this is not a novel to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force.”

Into the sea. With the film reels (or DVD and player) wrapped around it to keep it from floating.

And a wooden stake piercing them through, just to make sure.

UPDATE: Okay, it seems that IIRC (if I recall correctly) was indeed the qualifier to use. I recalled incorrectly. (And so did other people who’ve discussed this book with me elsewhere.) I could’ve sworn that the implication was that she’d jumped/fallen into the river on purpose, driven by obsessive love of fantasy and excessive attachment to the absent friend. But apparently, this was one ingredient not included in the mix. I apologize.

I am not against surprises and twists. By no means. I watched Babylon 5 largely because I loved the surprises. But a twist should always make sense in retrospect, not seem even more senseless.

I still think that if you’re going to make a book all about dealing with death, you kill the person off in the first chapter or so. It works for mysteries, after all. You don’t write a story where the moral is, “Life stinks and bad things happen! Here, let me punish you for reading my book!”

Most kids have a firm grasp on the concept that bad things happen for absolutely no reason, that people and the world can’t be trusted. Childhood is all about random acts of violence and cruelty from your fellow child, and the law of gravity continually smacking you in the face. As a child, I read books to be reassured that there was in fact order beyond the chaos, and hope beyond the hatred.
While this book may in fact have been intended (consciously, anyway) to bring logos into children’s lives, it did so by subverting the basic logos of the writer’s contract with readers. It’s like advocating peace by running around slashing random throats to create a message in big blood letters — it’s wrong and it’s bad art.

It struck me even back then as a writer using her power over her defenseless young readers to work off her anger at the world (or her anger at her child being affected by senseless death, apparently). I resent being so used, and I resent the fact that this movie is being marketed with deliberate deception about its point. Thus this long post of condemnation. If sub-creation is one of the most important human tasks, then misuse of that power is one of the worst crimes humans can commit. I don’t think it’s silly to get worked up about that.

UPDATE: Can I get a witness? Yes! Kevin Carr at 7M Pictures says:

I was in fifth grade when I read the book “Bridge to Terabithia.” I figured that it had to be pretty decent. After all, it won the Newbery Award. (This was, of course, before I realized that the Newbery Award is the grade-school equivalent of the Oprah Book Club which librarians force on children out of guild or curriculum requirements.)

My mother read it first, and when I was finished, she asked me if I liked it. What resulted from me was a tirade of venom that continues to this day.

I loathed the book. I hated it with a passion. I cannot remember reading anything else in my youth that I hated more, and I read a lot when I was a kid.

I hated the book “Bridge to Terabithia” for the same reason that I fear many kids might hate the movie. I was, quite simply, misled. With a name like this, it sounded like high adventure. It sounded like another Narnia story. The trailers to the film are much the same.

A word of warning to everyone out there: “Bridge to Terabithia” is about as far as you can get from a Narnia movie…

Perhaps I would have liked the book better if I knew what I was getting myself into. Now, as an adult, I know that a modern story of high adventure would never win a Newbery. Case in point — the Harry Potter books….


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Hogwarts = Hochwart?

There’s a town name that appears several places in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, and which is even the name of some people. “Hochwart” apparently means “high guard tower”, or literally “high-ward”. “Ward” is also a name for the inner bailey of a castle, or the area the castle protects.
Now, we know the Founders of Hogwarts were learned people, so it’s not an impossible name for them to choose. And the English are well known for their ability to remake names over time.

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Two Heartwarming Stories from Gutenberg

August First, by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews and Roy Irving Murray.

An inexperienced minister tries to persuade a young woman not to commit suicide, and the two wind up in correspondence. Not entirely an epistolary novel; I think the fusion works well.

Everybody’s Lonesome: A True Fairy Story, by Clara E. Laughlin

A depressed young woman visits her fairy godmother in New York.

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God-Haunted in the Fashion World

Donatella Versace’s new line for men apparently eschews the “sci-fi look” (Ooh! Shiny!) and the “rave look” (Ooh! Clashing acidic neon!). Instead, she goes for tailored black. The press note two inspirations for this. First, it has been ten years since her brother Gianni’s murder. Second (and amusingly), our little pope’s tall secretary, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein. (Not “Fr.”, o Times of London.)

:). I’m sorry, but it’s so cute to see women turn into puddles over “Gorgeous Georg”, especially since he really doesn’t wear anything particularly extravagant. He goes to a good tailor, wears nice clericals and shoes, and that’s it. Of course, it probably helps that he and the Pope look so different, but still!

(I’m sure the Gaenswein fans over at the Papa Ratzinger site are amused to find that a famous fashion designer has joined their number!)

Diogenes and his commenters are a bit harsh about this. Well, of course the woman says what she means in a silly way. Fashion designers don’t earn their bread by being orators or poets, much less theologians. It’s her art that speaks for her, and I think it’s rather touching.  She is being drawn towards God and doesn’t know what to do about it, or how a memento mori should be made. Those of us who have been graced with a little clearer call, or with families a little less crazy, should not mock her for it.

It’s not a scandal that women should be attracted to priests — as long as they aren’t acting on it, or compromising the priest in any way. The Georgiste (as the jet set Georg fans apparently call themselves) know perfectly well that the good monsignor is committed to God and the Church. He is untouchable and unattainable, his interests are not grounded in partying and getting noticed, and odds are that he’s not going to do anything morally embarrassing on any front. This makes him safe for them to have a crush on him, because there’s so little chance he’ll betray their admiration by getting arrested in some Kennedy-like situation. There are very few celebrities or public figures of whom this can be said.

Diogenes should save his ire for all these historical romance novels about Black Robes who betray their vows. Yeah, they’re all about the getting burnt alive, but dedicated young French Jesuits who can resist torture and Frenchwomen are bound to fall for Native American shamankas who dress their hair with rancid bear grease.

Oh, wait, we’re not supposed to mention rancid bear grease, just like noble Japanese ladies of the past never stiffen their hair or blacken their teeth in romance fanfics…. 🙂 (Except in “The Courtship of Lady Tokio”, where the dental issue is covered, IIRC.)

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About those sermons I’m translating….

Apparently, the same set of sermons has been ascribed to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, as well as St. Albert the Great. The guy who edited the edition I’m using is convinced that St. Albert is the author, and I guess the oldest edition (which was included in a collection of St. Albert’s works) did say that they were by St. Albert. Of course, some people disagree but don’t want to say who it’s by, so they list it under “Pseudo-Albertus Magnus”. (Whether any of this reflects our contemporary state of scholarship on the thing is anybody’s guess.)

Sigh. I will eventually translate the editor’s foreword so you can share the joy.

I’m scarcely in any position to comment on style. But clearly, if people could attribute these sermons to the big three philosophers, theologians, and preachers of the day, they’re not unorthodox or unhelpful. And I find them to be fun, so I’m going to keep on going. But it would be nice to know for sure whose stuff I’m working on.

Btw, there was apparently a famous German preacher back in the day who was best known as “Frater Socci”, Brother Sock. This makes me happy, although it also makes me think he preached using sockpuppets. (Or maybe his feet just got ice-cold in sandals, and his superiors ordered him to wear some woolies on his tootsies.)

There was another famous preacher named Hochwart. No news on whether he founded any Scottish schools. 🙂

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