Monthly Archives: April 2011

Said Some Foolish Things Last Night

But I’ve been thinking, and it occurs to me that Elisabeth Sladen almost drowned in that cave river at Wookey Hole, back in the Seventies when they were filming the Cybermen episode. She was only saved by dint of a crewmember almost getting himself drowned going after her.

That would have been really dying young. Everything since then has been bonus time.

And of course, plenty of people do still die of cancer. It’s unusual to have two from the same show die close together, but different kinds of cancer are radically different from each other.

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Video Links for Remembrance

BBC News report on Elisabeth Sladen’s death. Includes brief interviews with a couple of Doctor Who production people.

Not very good audio, but a long 2007 interview with Sladen herself. Here she is on CBBC with a lot shorter interview.

A November 2009 interview where Lis finally gets rolling pretty assertively, and which features Lis reading the news beautifully, talking politics passionately, and then discussing a story about terminal illness.

An example of her graciousness to fans from 2009. She must have been dead tired.

Here’s an early part she played, in “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em”. Lis in the police in “Special Branch”.

Slideshow video with information about the actress.


“Suddenly I see/This is what I want to be.” A spunky compilation, including all the Sarah eras.

Action Sarah Jane Smith compilation to “Just a Girl”. Has some very clever bits.

Probably the prettiest tribute compilation. To the tune of “Try to Remember”.

A wardrobe compilation! Some of these clothes, like the dirndl, were actually Lis Sladen’s; others were inflicted on her by the wardrobe department and writers. πŸ™‚

A tribute compilation to the tune of the 2nd most popular song for this sort of thing. Big chunks of “School Reunion”, but plenty of old footage too.

Not sure why there’s no fan videos on YouTube that are set to this song, as it’s the classic old-school fan song for that sort of thing….

A fan who’s collected some of the many classic hypnosis/mind control scenes from Doctor Who. (This was always happening to Sarah Jane; she was apparently quite susceptible to it — or the writers liked to see her playing out of character!)

UPDATE: 99 Red Balloons. Heh!

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Elisabeth Sladen, RIP

Elisabeth Sladen passed away today. Apparently she, like fellow Doctor Who actor Nicholas Courtney, had been battling cancer for some time. It’s very typical of her reserve about her private life that there hadn’t been much said about this.

I am in shock. I still think of her as a comparatively young actress, and certainly she’d always seemed full of energy and life while playing Sarah Jane Smith in her own show.

A gracious and down to earth person to her fans, always kind and respectful of the children in her audience; a polite and willing professional at her job; someone who got married and stayed that way; and someone who seems to have genuinely enjoyed working with her grown actress daughter on her Doctor Who audio play series. I’ve never heard a bad thing about her from anyone in the Doctor Who world. She didn’t always get the breaks she deserved, but you never heard her complaining about it.

May Our Lord, Who also suffered and died in this week, take her where there is no more tears and no more sadness. Please remember to pray for her soul and for her grieving family and friends.

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In Which We Discover Why Beatus Hasn’t Been Translated

Having established earlier in his commentary that Revelation 2:9 is saying that you gotta watch out for bad Christians and Christians in name only, who may as well be all the bad bits of Sodom and Egypt, we move along to quotes about what the new Ten Plagues of the new bad Egypt would be.

I don’t know who this particular quote source is, but whoever he is, this guy’s not out to make friends in academia. Plague One is philosophers who make “slippery and erratic” arguments, and Plague Two is bad songs of the poets. (That would be the plague of loud croaking frogs, for those of you playing the home game.)

There’s several pages of this. Following on his picked quotes about how even Bible study can be bad for your character if you don’t accompany it with obeying God, good works, and plenty of humility about your skills; and how being a monk could potentially be the road to Hell unless you do it right; you can tell that good ol’ St. Beatus wasn’t overly concerned with flattering his potential readers. πŸ™‚

So yeah, if you hear any particularly bad music during this Holy Week (or Passover, for other folks), you can always amuse yourself by regarding it as a plague of frogs. Rrrrrribbit.

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Here’s a Fun Little Music Generator Thingie.

Here’s what I created totally by random in Otomata. Make your own!

Via Slashdot.

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More Library Video Games

There’s a video game of The Great Gatsby. Alas, it’s a hidden object game and not a first person shooter. (Everyone in that novel needs to die, from the narrator on down. Gotta be done.)

There’s a UK videogame of Lost Horizon that came out in 2010, though I haven’t seen it. You can download the demo still, at various fine purveyors of games. This is one of those “Nazis are invading Tibet” sequel situations. Looks pretty, though.

BTW, a lot of said videogame purveyors, from Amazon on down, have sales running right now.

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Mwahaha! Catholic Blogosphere Does a Road Trip

150 lucky, crazy bloggers with passports have been invited to Rome for an official conference with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications at the beginning of May. In a totally subjective but apparently effective process, they narrowed it down from the 750 applications they got, trying to pick a nice variety of folks. (And wow, if I’d known the odds were about 1 in 7, I’d have submitted a few people whom I suspect have passports. The Catholic blogosphere is apparently a humble and/or poor and/or undervacationed bunch.)

Anyway, it appears that the Crescat is indeed finally going to get to go to Rome, which shows that Icelandic volcanoes erupt in mysterious ways — or as Sayers put it in The Nine Tailors, that Providence looks out for our little harmless pleasures as well as our serious necessities.

There’s also going to be a blognic (blogger/reader picnic/party/meeting) in Rome for anybody who happens to be hanging around, which is being run by Hilary White. So anybody who’s vacationing or pilgrimage-ing in Rome, there you go.

Let’s pray for all the lucky bloggers, at the meeting or otherwise, that they have a good and fruitful trip to Rome!

For those staying home, a list of discussion points for the bishops’ upcoming synod on the New Evangelization. Check it out!

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More Beatus Quotes

“I do not hear how he may sing along with me, but I hear how he would live. Works talk; why do we demand words? What evil person doesn’t try to talk well?”

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“Fifty Always Refers to Penance.”

Another quotable quote from Beatus’ sources.

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Odysseus as Type of the “Man of Sorrow”?

Okay, I can truly say this interpretation is totally new to me. (Lack of a blogosphere back when this came out.)

I finally saw the Odyssey episode of Clash of the Gods (a short History Channel series about various important legends of Western civilization and their various mythical underpinnings — Michael Drout and a lot of other good academics were in it, and they did eps on Beowulf and Lord of the Rings and such). They included a brief segment on how some people argue that the Gospel of Mark brings out parallels (for the Greek readership, anyway) between Odysseus and Christ.

Here’s what I remember:

Odysseus was also a wanderer and knew carpentry and sailing. Odysseus’ name meant “man of pain” or “man of sorrow”, and was an example of warrior endurance and perseverance (as well as cleverness, of course) to the Greeks. When everybody else sinned by eating Helios’ sacred cattle, Odysseus was the one man who didn’t sin and was spared. Odysseus’ story climaxes when he comes home and reclaims his bride in the middle of a solar eclipse, so different-looking that his own people don’t know him. And of course, his journey included a trip down to Hades where he talked to the dead and gave them blood.

I’ve never seen this particular parallel drawn before, but I gotta say I find it very likeable and plausible! Apparently the (current) advocate is a guy named Dennis McDonald, and his book came out ten years back. It apparently also brings out other cases of “emulatio” and types/antitypes in pagan and Christian literature, which sounds like a lot of fun.

The amusing bit is that, while the (old) atheist sites don’t think that Homer refuted Virgil, they do think that Homer would thus refute the Gospels. (They don’t think about the fact that this MacDonald guy went to BOB JONES UNIVERSITY, not exactly the promised land of atheism.) I guess this means that any history book modeled after any ancient historian would have to be totally lies and plagiarism, and that Shakespeare couldn’t write because he made references to other writers. Heh! I guess these guys had forgotten this theory by now and gone back to plugging Mithra, until a few of them watched this show. (Search engine trends make this pretty clear. Heh.)

Others take it the opposite way — that Mark was attempting a hostile takeover of Homer. This seems equally silly, because a Christian Jew who hated all pagan literature wouldn’t have spent all his time making references to it!

This is more likely a case of taking the willingly-given spoils from the Egyptians and making adornments for the Tabernacle, so to speak. For the non-religious, it shows that the later Bible writers (like the writer of 2nd Maccabees) weren’t afraid to write Jewish and Christian sacred literature in the context of their culture, just as books like Esther and Exodus, Job and Proverbs, included other cultural and literary considerations besides just Jewish ones. All peoples were made by God and will eventually come to know and serve Him; so there’s no reason to leave them out, even in a strictly Jewish context. With the evangelistic imperative given to His followers by Jesus, there’s even more reason to include other cultures in.

So there’s one for my reader who’s a big fan of Sean Bean, when she watches him in the movie Troy. πŸ™‚ And of course, it applies to the modern Odyssey film O Brother, Where Art Thou, though that Odysseus was pretty much all trickster and no Christ.

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Cognitive Dissonance for Gamers

When it’s a game about druids, and they use Norse runes instead of ogham, and they play cards. (Their little linguistic note doesn’t help.)

I guess the best thing to do is to assume it’s a bunch of druids playing a Norse collectable card game provided by time travelers from the 21st century….

It does look like a fun game.

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Charlotte Bronte vs. Jane Austen

Don’t hold back, Ms. Bronte. <a href=";Tell us what you really think.

Of course, it’s hard to say what’s taste and what’s just reaction against “old-fashioned” books, when it comes to writers of different eras and aims. But it’s kinda sad when wit, humor, and sympathy can’t stretch between literary eras, or persons whom you’d think would have understood each other.

OTOH, Bronte may just not have been in the mood for what she got. It took me a while to appreciate Austen.


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Another Patristics/Saint Quote Collection Book

The euphoniously named Auctarium Polyantheorum Sacrorum for volume 3, with the whole schmole of volumes called the Polyanthea Sacra. Edited by Fr. Andrea Spanner, S.J. This is volume 3, published in 1704. Here’s Volume 1 and Volume 2. There were a bunch of editions, apparently.

These books focus on symbols, types, figures, and other non-literal readings of Biblical imagery and verses. They look very useful as finding aids for stuff in the Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers through the ages.

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Little Pitchers Have Big Ears, Royal UK Wedding Edition

It has come to my attention that the marketers of the world have decided that little kids in the US should be marketed stuff about Prince William’s wedding. There’s a picture book coming out with the story of how the couple met and married, which is going to be aired by Disney as a sort of animated bridezilla cartoon on their kids’ channels, along with a full force marketing of Disney Princess stuff. Here’s the relevant press release section:

“In recognition of the increased interest in all things Royal, Disney Channel will present “A Modern Fairytale: The Royal Wedding Week,” a short-form series for kids, tweens and families, Monday-Friday, April 25-29. Hosted by ABC News’ Juju Chang, the series will tell the story of the Royal couple. Disney Channel will present a week-long primetime programming event that includes telecasts of prince and princess-themed movies, including “Enchanted” and “Cinderella,” every night (check local listings)…

“ has launched a month-long online celebration titled “Happily Ever After.” The website features tips from Disney’s expert princess-makers on how to have a fairytale wedding or vow renewal celebration; a showcase of Disney Princess-inspired wedding gowns; ideas for mom and daughter Royal Wedding viewing parties; and fun tips for moms to feel like a princess every day!”

So basically, the premiere modern company associated with fairy tales is swearing to your kids that two real people are protagonists of a fairy tale, and that it’s the kind of fairy tale where nothing goes wrong (as opposed to the kind full of killing and sorrow). This is not something Disney has any right or ability to promise.

The problem is this. You should never lie to kids or tell them something which they will soon find out is close to untrue; and you should never make promises that you can’t fulfill. Disney is doing it. Don’t go along with them, or your kids won’t trust you, either.

I’m very glad that the prince and Miss Kate Middleton are getting married. But there’s no denying that some of the history of their relationship isn’t anything you can easily reduce to “kid friendly” or worthy of emulation by young people. Nobody knows for sure if any of the tabloid reports are true. So how could you say anything with confidence about them in a kid’s book? Why would you even bring it up?

But then, normally, if somebody in your family were getting married, I assume that it would never occur to you that the preschool and elementary school set had any expectation of being told anything about the history of the happy couple’s relationship. It wouldn’t be their business, and only a little bit yours; it just wouldn’t come up. All the kids would need to know would be how to behave at the church and the reception.

Here’s the other thing. I remember that, at a very young age, I already had a fairly good knowledge of many historical and contemporary scandals. I didn’t know exactly what bad things Catherine the Great had done with men, but I knew she’d been bad with multiple men to whom she was not married, and whom she had used to gain power in Russia, and that a lot of the stories were worse than what she’d really done but that what she had done was bad enough. I could have told you something about Cleopatra and Caesar and Antony, also, and the six wives of Henry VIII. I also remember clearly how adults sometimes forgot kids were in the room before talking about things going on in the family which they criticized. Kids hear and remember a lot.

So yeah, if the newspeople say anything at all about the various royal scandals, or about tabloid allegations about the happy couple, your kids probably have picked up on this, or they will. (Especially if they’re on the Internet or pay attention to news.) So there’s no sense trying to market them a pretty-pretty picture book if it’s full of pretty-pretty lies.

But it gets worse. There’s an adult “enhanced video ebook” with ABC News video that has just come out from ABC and Disney, which is also called A Modern Fairy Tale, and which apparently tries to pretend that Charles and Diana were an example of “Three Generations of Royal Love”, despite the fact that they had a messy divorce and slept around a lot, very publicly. Apparently nobody at Disney/ABC has a problem with this, but I can see a few. And yes, they’ve got reviews up, telling people to let their kids watch this. Bleh.

Anyway… Disney is trying to sell your kids things, and they don’t love your kids like you do. Enjoy the hoopla with your kids, sure, but I don’t think you want to allow them to be sold a bill of goods by Disney, particularly in the matter of the picture book/cartoon. If you do let them watch it (or if it comes on in the middle of the princess movies that will be shown in the next few weeks), you might want to point out the sad media cycle of saying exaggeratedly nice things one minute and tearing down people the next.

Meanwhile, over on, Disney actually is trying to sell a line of wedding gowns. Real ones. Which would just be funny, except they’re associating Disney children’s movies with brides lying around on beds looking not at all bridelike. There’s also a bunch of similarly stomach-churning Royal Wedding junk on the website.

OTOH, at least the various Royal Wedding “crafts”, including the “Princess Kate paper doll with Disney princess dresses” are free; they’re just propagandizing you instead of ripping you off directly.

I’m not any happier about presenting the story as a love comic. I mean, sure, the love comics actually held on in the UK longer than in the US, and maybe it seems like a hilarious idea. But it’s not at all fair, especially when it comes to making up private thoughts and dialogue and plotline about real people who are currently living. Ewwww. You don’t get around that by having a sense of humor in the writing; it just makes it more stalkerish.

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