Monthly Archives: May 2008

In the Midst of Life….

A few days ago, the daughter of one of our nicest choir members was born with her umbilical cord wrapped far too tightly around her neck. I’ve heard that her grieving father was able to reach a priest and get her baptized; her parents also were comforted by many, many of the staff at the hospital who very kindly stopped by while they were given the time to hold her. Somehow, this baby’s death was as blessed and comforting as it was sad and wrenching. We forget that there really can be such a thing as a happy and blessed death — and then it happens again, and we remember how humans were meant to live and die, before we first sinned.

(We say these things are extraordinary, but really, they happen all the time yet are always something unexpected. We don’t know why some people receive certain consolations in special ways; why others are comforted by God through more mundane channels; or why others suffer like Christ, mostly alone. Some day we will know, but not yet.)

Just yesterday, Robert L. Asprin (funny and controversial author, musician, songwriter, co-creator of the Thieves’ World shared world anthologies, creator of the Mythadventures, and founder of the Dorsai Irregulars, the Klingon Diplomatic Corps, and the SCA’s Great Dark Horde) passed away at his home in New Orleans. He was fine earlier that afternoon; he was dead by the time a friend arrived to give him a ride to the airport to be Guest of Honor at Marcon in Columbus. He died reading a Terry Pratchett book — and surely, that’s a little sign of God’s grace to him.

I only met him once or twice. Sure, I’ve heard lots about the bad stuff he did. But my friends and acquaintances in the Horde and Dorsai have enriched my life, and so have his songs and stories. He was good and bad; but he was never indifferent. So farewell, Yang the Nauseating, Commander Kras of the KDC, and all the rest.

In the midst of life, we are in death. This Memorial Day, we will remember and pray for our gallant dead. Please add to your prayers and thoughts a moment to remember an old pro and a tiny young girl — to pray for their friends and family as well — and to remember that you too must die.

Will you and I make as much of a difference as he did? Or as she?

UPDATE: A portrait of Bob Asprin by Kaja Foglio.

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Geography Quiz: Snarkers Wrong.

Which state is closer to Arkansas’ borders: Kentucky or Illinois?

If you are Glenn Reynolds or The Corner at the National Review, or even Ann Althouse, you don’t bother to look at a real map or measure distances; you just shoot off your mouth. I know that’s tempting, but it’s a bad idea when it comes to matters of fact.

So yes, Illinois’ borders look like they go further West than Kentucky’s — but Illinois borders Missouri, not Arkansas. Kentucky and Illinois meet at the north of Kentucky, whereas Kentucky gets pretty darned close to Arkansas further south. My mapreading skills and straight-edge, zooming in on an official US government map, show that border bits of Kentucky are at least a good thirty miles closer to border bits of Arkansas than any bit of Illinois is. (As the crow flies, not as the road drives.)

I don’t like Obama or his political positions. His comment was stupid in many ways.

But geez, people. Shouldn’t anybody in opposition to a person try to have a higher standard of accuracy than him?

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What Would Mary Wear? She Might Wear — a Hat!!!

This blog has pointed folks before to statues of Mary and the Child Jesus dressed as shepherds and as pilgrims, so we’ve seen Mary wearing hats before. And of course, a crowned Mary is wearing not a veil but a hat, or both a veil and a hat.

But now… this blog is delighted to present the perfect way to defend hats from those who advocate veils alone. (Or as we might like to call it, sola mantilla. Ancient Romans would advocate sola stola.)

Direct from Spain, the home of the REAL mantilla, we present Mary in a chic May hat! Her lovely ensemble also includes rings on all her fingers, dangly earrings, and an eentsy-beentsy daisy barrette. (Click on the photo to enlarge it and get all the details. Honestly, that is one cute Mary statue. I love all the May flowers.)

So… QED for one argument. My next step is to find pictures of Mary in pants. Possibly out in a rice paddy somewhere, or riding a horse with the Baby Jesus in her arms. Surely there must be images of Our Lady of Mongolia?

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Judge Dee Strikes Back!

Heh! Judge Dee will not stay in the shadow of Judge Bao forever! There are now two Judge Dee TV series out. A third (The Legendary Ren Jie) is currently in production, and will air in the fall. Finally, the famous director Tsui Hark (Chinese Ghost Story) is going to make a Judge Dee movie for 2009. Mwahaha!

The Chinese series apparently came out on DVD recently but aired from 2004-2006. It’s called The Detective Di Ren Jie.

Judge Dee with wuxia fighting and swords and cool stuff! I guess Trang Sang Giang Nam: Di Ren Jie III is a Vietnamese TV series — actually, the third season of a series. You can watch all the episodes here, but they don’t have any subtitles and I don’t know Vietnamese.

OTOH, I never thought I’d be worrying about getting access to any Vietnamese TV show. Much less one based on a European mystery writer’s tales of a real life historical Chinese detective. We live in a very odd world!

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Fun with Translation: Distiches on Baptism by Pope St. Leo the Great

On St. Venantius’ Day, Fr. Z posted some distiches (couplets) written by Pope St. Leo the Great, in the man’s pre-papal days. Fr. Z then challenged his readers to translate them.

My Latin isn’t good, so I leaned on the translations provided. Inevitably, this meant I messed up. Here’s a revised version of my translation.

From seed the Holy Spirit’s sown,
A nation springs to be His Own —
Bound for the Heavens. God’s Breath sighed
On waters, and they fructified.
Our Mother Church, still virgin, there
Children conceived by Him does bear.
All you reborn within this spring,
Hope for the Reign of Heaven’s King!

The happy life is not for those
Born only once. The spring arose
To wash the world and wet what’s dried
With water from Christ’s wounded side.
O sinner who’d be purified,
Plunge underneath the sacred tide!

It takes the old man, makes him new.
If you’d be innocent, then do
Be washed in this bath from your sin
And from your father’s deep within!

Those reborn know no parting wall —
Font, faith, and Spirit same for all —
So in their union, they’re made one,
And none need fear their sins, no, none
Despite their count or kind. Don’t faint!
Who’s born in this flood is a saint!

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“Zappari Wakaranai.”

I’ve been watching fansubs of a Japanese mystery series. (Live action, not anime!) Galileo is a really good show, well-produced, with really good mysteries and gimmicks and a very winning soundtrack. Of course, the detectives are the best part: an awkward but determined rookie female police detective, Utsumi, and an impossibly Spocky physics professor, Yukawa. The first season was only 10 episodes long. So I’ve almost worked my way through it, and am very sad there’s no more. However, a movie and a new season of shows are supposed to be coming out for fall… so there’s something to hope for.

As always with a foreign show, there’s a certain fascination in watching things happen that would never happen in an American show — or not in the same way.

There’s a certain importance in Japanese to the use of certain pronouns for certain people, for instance. So when the professor told someone that he couldn’t talk because he had plans with “her” (kanojo) — meaning Utsumi — the obvious implication is that Utsumi is a woman of special significance to him.  You usually hear “kanojo” only in reference to a wife or girlfriend — sorta like an Irishman referring to “Herself”.

But Professor Yukawa being Professor Yukawa (doing things his own way, and regarding most of the world’s common usages as illogical), it is of course possible that he just means to use the literal meaning of the pronoun. So… another kind of mystery.

One thing that you’ll notice with all Japanese mystery shows, though — the characters tend to give up very meekly when caught. Part of this is Japanese social theory and social pressures, both in real life and in their ideas of a good story. But part of it is apparently that, in real life, the Japanese police feel that a bad attitude on the part of arrested people (ie, not admitting guilt right away) is good reason to give them a hard time back in the cells. This comes up in news stories. (And yes, it’s not a good thing to be erroneously arrested. Most Japanese in this situation confess, too.)

Naturally, it never comes up in the genteel mystery shows I watch, or with a good cop like Utsumi. But since it seems a bit unrealistic to non-Japanese, I thought I’d better explain.

Anyway, it’s a fun show even if you’re not used to watching Japanese shows and aren’t interested in intuiting romance between characters. And I’m not kidding about the cool gimmicks. Any show that teaches me a fun new home use for Sharpies is my kind of show!

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