Monthly Archives: October 2011

Horror Movie in Real Life

So you’re some idealistic young woman with plenty of student loans to repay, and you go to do something idealistic with your friends: camping out in New York City. And then you find out that some of your friends are getting raped, but that the other people are insisting that nobody report it to the cops or even find out who did it and commit some kind of mob justice. There are a few suggestions that rapists and men attempting sexual assault be counseled.

So then, the organizers turn up the heat on the authorities. You’re marching around in the dark, yelling at the police, and suddenly you realize that you don’t know who is even standing next to you. There’s a lot of talk of pushing the old, the disabled, and the women up front, to bear the brunt of the police, while people behind you throw things not far over your head. Some of the rocks and cans and smokebombs fall down among your part of the crowd instead of the police. People behind you put their hands on you, and sometimes somebody gropes you and you have to twist violently away. And then, off in the crowd, you catch a glimpse of a face that somebody thought might be the rapist….

And then, after nights and nights of this terror and confusion among people who are supposed to be your comrades (and after somebody steals your good sleeping bag and pad that you brought from home), you hear that there’s going to be a freak snowstorm. Everybody has to move in together with even more strangers than usual.

And then, in the middle of the howling storm and wind and snow, when every rightminded person knows that everyone has to take care of each other in order to survive instead of freezing to death, you find the rapist doing his best to rape you….

In a sudden desperate combat, our comrades come to your aid. Everyone fights together to beat the heck out of him. You sigh with relief, sure that the rapist will finally be handed over to the law.

And then, your comrades turn on you, and demand that nobody reports the incident to the police. The rapist is to be allowed to go his way, looking for easier prey, and free to return and take his revenge on you at any time.

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The Friar (Kids’ Show on EWTN)

I’m pretty sure they’ve run this show on EWTN before, but I’ve never actually watched it.

As with a lot of Catholic kids’ shows on EWTN, it’s apparently a redubbed Spanish or Italian TV show. The format is that “Friar John” is an adult host interacting with a puppet child, frog, and mouse to explain Bible stories. First they set up a frame story. Then the Bible story itself is presented as a puppet story with independent characters and sets. Then the friar discusses the Bible study with the kid and animal puppets, which leads into more frame story. Then there’s a “music box” with a picture recapping the Bible story, followed by a song recapping the Bible story with a cartoon video. Then there’s more frame story, following the theme of the Bible story. (In the episode I saw, this included Marian prayer. Prayer and action were shown to interact.) Then there’s a saint story, presented with painted slideshow pictures, which also relates to the Bible story. Then the framing story is resolved happily. Finally, they recap the story puppets and song with new verses, with the friar and the puppets singing along. (Recaps are good for kids’ memory.) In the episode I saw, the story puppets even show up in the “real world” of the framing story, singing through the window of the friar’s house.

The episode I saw was about the Good Shepherd, and was apparently the pilot episode. It was strikingly done. First off, most retellings don’t talk about the sheep’s motivations for wandering off! Second, most don’t show a sheepfold keeping the other 99 sheep safe. (Or one of the safe sheep suggesting that the Shepherd not go after such a bad sheep as the straying one.) Third, most don’t assume that the wolf was engaged in a deeplaid plot to catch and eat the sheep through both deception and undermining the sheep’s faith in the shepherd. Fourth, most retellings don’t end with a life or death puppet struggle between the Good Shepherd and the bad wolf! (“Take that! And that!”) But all this goes along with various sheep/shepherd stories and verses in the NT, and was also full of charming details. The song video did more of the same. They even included and explained a statue of Mary as a shepherdess, helping find lost sheep (very popular in Spain).

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A Serious Post about Waiting to Have Kids

The Other McCain points out an obvious, but increasingly forgotten, fact: if a woman doesn’t decide fairly early that she’s ready for pregnancy and kids, she’s fairly likely to be out of luck. Men can drag their feet a bit, though not forever; but women can’t.

I didn’t ever want to live in anything other than blessed singleness and chastity. But sheesh, even I felt the biological clock ticking. At several points in my life, I could hardly avoid the thought that I was probably never going to have kids.

But then, I never messed up my hormones with birth control in an attempt to ignore nature, much less put my metaphorical fingers in my ears while chanting La La La, in some bizarre attempt to drown out my body.

I feel sorry for people like this, though. They just believed what they were told, and believed that they were smart and wise.

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Man Enough to Wear a Pony Patch

Equestria Daily posted a picture of a genuine US Navy brony (that’s a male fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) wearing a very unofficial Rainbow Dash patch. (Scroll down through the news roundup post.)

In the comments, Navy Brony himself turns up. It turns out that he’s a rescue swimmer. Anybody willing to get out of a perfectly good helicopter, in order to jump into the ocean to save people, is apparently tough enough to be a fan of whatever he wants. Even a teenage girl pegasus. (Uniform issues are also explained.)

A much older unofficial pegasus patch was also linked in the comments….

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“Breuddwyd Mair” (Mary’s Dream)

Up until late Victorian times, it was common for the Welsh to recite the Our Father, the Creed, and the Hail Mary every day, a faint memory of their Catholic past. Up in the mountains, they also recited a sort of devotional poem called “Mary’s Dream,” which was found in all sorts of variants.

Here’s a sort of munged together verse translation of it:

Blest mother Mary, are you sleeping?

I am not, my dear Son, I’m dreaming.

Blest mother Mary, what is your dream?

They catch You and crown You with thorn, I’ve seen,
Nailed to the cross, white rod in hand.
Lied to by Satan, one blind man
Pierces your side, and Your dear blood streaming
Is wine to drink, cleansing water gleaming.

Blest mother Mary, true is the dreaming.

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Praise Report

Monday afternoon, I got some unexpected money in the mail.

Today, I was walking home and feeling sad when I suddenly saw a huge chunk of rainbow. It lasted on and off for a good ten minutes, lighting up one of our main roads and bringing joy to a lot of beholders.

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New Junk in the Mail

I got a message from the post office telling me that they had a certified letter for me. Naturally, I was very annoyed, because this meant I’d have to get to a certain physical post office somehow, while it was open, to sign paperwork. Fortunately, I was taking a day off anyway, so after a week and a half of worrying about what it might be, I finally got down to the post office.

Do you know what it was?

A single sheet of junk mail. They told me I had unclaimed money and wanted my personal info and a finder’s fee. They also didn’t have my name right, so obviously there was never any unclaimed money for me. They just wanted to mine my data.

For this, I wasted a bus ride, twenty minutes’ walk on a cold damp windy day, and then waiting for the bus afterward. If I hadn’t been able to do other errands afterward, I would have been even more angry than I was.

So I’m not sure that it’s technically a scam, but I hereby name and shame “Smart Venture Investing LLC” as a bunch of timewasting jerks with mush for brains.

Also, everyone else out there, please bear in mind that certified mail and any kind of signature delivery is only good for business addresses which are constantly occupied during delivery hours. For everyone else, it means losing the lunch hour at best, and losing work hours or whole days if the facility is more difficult to reach. So be reasonable. Don’t punish the recipient of your mail.

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Deut. 24: 5 in Beatus

All these weird little Vetus Latina things that aren’t marked in the critical edition keep showing up in Beatus, and I keep finding them. Search engines aren’t everything for scholarship, but they sure help.

This time, the author calls Mary (and by extension, Eve) a “novam virginem”. I think this also had some kind of specific meaning in pagan ancient Rome; but it shows up in some Latin translations of Deuteronomy 24:5 as the replacement for the woman/wife word in Hebrew (and Greek, too, apparently).

Anyway, since Deuteronomy 24:5 is the one about how a man who’s just married isn’t supposed to go to war, but instead is to stay home for a year and keep his newlywed wife happy, it makes the whole passage of Beatus about the nuptial comparison of Eve and Mary as brides. Not a super-big change, but a nice nuance.

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The “Bewitched” Theme Song Has GOOD Lyrics!

And Peggy Lee sang it, back in the day!

Seriously, listen listen listen. It’s good stuff.

The version I heard first was a more relaxed, slow, subtly off time arrangement. (A little more indicative of the way love throws you off kilter.) It was on MusicChoice’s “Sounds of the Seasons” channel, which you can listen to here. (You have to pick it off the top bar. Hit the arrow to the left until “Sounds of the Seasons” scrolls into view, then click on it.

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Walkerloo — Paper Toy Soldiers

On the dark side, not super-durable. On the bright side, easy to pack and very authentically drawn and colored.

On the third hand, the cannons fire rubberbands. Weaponry!

A joint UK/French product, available at toy soldier dealers in the US.

YouTube video fun! With cannons!

Some of their toy soldiers are available as downloads for you to print yourself (a lot cheaper, but maybe your printer won’t do the colors as well, and you’ll have to cut them out yourself). They sell some, and some are free. Instructions are provided to help you to make your “print-fantry.”

Here are the free ones on their website.

There do not appear to be any green-jacket rifle companies among the many French, English, Scottish, and German units available. Or Polish hussars. Other than that, it’s cool.

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Louisiana Makes Pretty Much Every Louisianan an Outlaw

Louisiana outlawed selling things secondhand for cash money, unless you’re a certified pawnshop or junkyard. You can’t buy things for cash, either. And anybody who buys two secondhand things in a month is now officially a secondhand dealer.

Apparently nobody realized that this made garage sales and schoolyard dickering with pennies illegal — or lawmakers are totally okay with sending Granny to the big house. They want to outlaw thieves selling copper and metal, but obviously didn’t write the law with any sort of narrowness. It also seems to violate all sorts of federalness.

Bonus stupidity: Even in the secular comboxland of Slashdot and Volokh, it took about five seconds for somebody to connect this up to not being able to buy anything without the Mark of the Beast. Yeah, Louisiana legislators, real helpful.

More info from Techdirt, who notes that the particularly idiotic provision was an amendment.

UPDATE: A lawyerly take on it from Volokh.com.

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On the Morality of Holiday Alms-Collecting Processions

Yup, another post on trick-or-treating. 🙂

Holiday times, and the days leading up to a holiday period, are particularly fitted for doing good works. One of the most basic good works is giving alms. Therefore, it is very common to have charity collections at holiday times, and for the collecting to be accompanied with a certain amount of fun, pageantry, and entertainment to make doing good easier on both the collector and the collect-ee. Going door to door in a procession is an ancient Christian way of doing this.

Alms-collecting processions are usually oriented toward the following causes: alms for the poor, alms for the poor souls of the dead, and alms for children not making their own money yet. Alms could be in the form of money, food, or other gifts/donations. Christmas caroling is an obvious example of this, except that in the US, people don’t seriously expect to be given food and a drink inside and some money for the poor. (Even though they sing about it in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Here We Go A-Wassailing”.) So is Carnival and Mardi Gras, to a certain extent, and St. Martin’s Day processions. In Jewish tradition, Purim is the traditional time when kids dress up and get goodies. In Iran, kids dressing up and being given money by adults is one of the many traditions associated with Persian New Year (Nourooz) at the spring equinox; and of course Jewish and Christian and Muslim traditions are all mixed into that stew. A whole bunch of similar alms-collecting traditions could be pointed out here, the vast majority monotheistic. (So no, it’s not a pagan thing.)

Trick-or-treating is the modern, gussied up, American form of “souling”, the pre All-Souls’ procession for the good of poor souls and of kids. Ghosts represent the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Occupational costumes represent the dead of every profession. Good and bad people are clearly part of the story, as are all the creatures in Creation. Angels, and devils and monsters, have an obvious place in this pageant of the Four Last Things.

Giving kids candy and money is obviously a pre-holiday opportunity to do good works to kids, while symbolically doing it for the sake of the Poor Souls. Adults who have home displays merely wish to join the procession, somewhat in the manner of people who build station altars along the path of a Eucharistic procession.

If your theology doesn’t include praying for the dead and/or Purgatory, of course you can just elide that part; and then you can just take it as giving to kids for the love of God and/or of neighbor. But the “fun pageant to make you remember the cosmic significance of life and death” part is equally valid for pretty much any religious group. (Which is probably why the “Hell House” concept has gone over so well with certain Protestant groups.)

And so, even people dressing up as “Naughty Nurse” or something else designed to find them trouble, are still participating in a great Christian pageant and alms collection event. Maybe not in a good way, but they are. Like a lot of people do, with a lot of Catholic holiday customs which have had their Catholic, Christian identity mostly forgotten.

So yes, good little Christian children should go trick-or-treating, and good Christian adults should be sure to give ’em some candy alms. 🙂

* The association with “tricks” may come from the dark side of almsgiving collection. For example, the original anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes collections were sort of a “test of loyalty”, and if you didn’t contribute, obviously you were a traitor who should be pranked. This seems to have bled onto some Halloween collection. However, it’s likely that most Halloween pranks just came from things getting dark early, spooky stories being told, and kids being ingenious. For example, MIT pranking doesn’t come from any kind of hatred or shakedown tradition; they prank for prank’s sake.

Also, “forfeits” for doing or failing to do something are pretty common games in Europe. If you walk under the mistletoe with someone without noticing, you have to accept being kissed. It’s not a shakedown from fear; it’s a forfeit. Similarly, “Truth or Dare” is a forfeit game; except that both choices are really forfeits, if you think about it. “Trick or treat” seems to present the house owner with a similar choice between forfeits. (Maybe this is just something engrained in American childhood humor, because many childhood games and jokes here have a similar structure.)

In any case, it’s pretty clear that American trick-or-treating was drawn from Scottish and Irish custom, and made big in the twentieth century, to give kids something to do on the holiday other than pranking their neighbors, as people got way too much of that during the 19th and early 20th century. (Or firing off guns into the air, which started as a dangerous French settler tradition but still continues as “Devil’s Night” in Detroit and other American cities.) Hence, “trick or treat” presents the potential donor with a pretty clear choice!

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Our Pope vs. All That 2012 Silliness

Clearly he’s not too worried about Mayan calendar reset buttons, and is telling people so (among other things).

After all, if you’re the Pope, and you declare a Year of Faith beginning Oct. 11, 2012 and ending on Nov. 24, 2013 (kind of a baker’s dozen year), and thus going from the anniversary of Vatican II to the feast of Christ the King (King of the Universe, if you include the whole schmole of the name, which the Pope does), you’re clearly filling out your planner all the way through to Advent 2013.

The Feast of Christ the King is actually a pretty newfangled feast in both the OF and EF, so there’s kind of a funny comment there to people who think they hate everything new but love the Feast of Christ the King. (And who doesn’t love that feast?) All the crazy stuff that has happened, all the evil things that have been done, will ultimately be trod underfoot by Christ the King. All we have to do is follow Him faithfully.

Primarily, though, I suspect this is supposed to be a year of trusting God’s plan and God’s love, as well as “opening the door of faith” to others, as the Pope says. Fearing the future is not something that Christian believers should do. Fearing a Mayan future is kinda missing the point of being Christian.

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The Lord Is My Shepherd

I shall not want.

Although I may be kinda pinched.

I found out today that my corporate employers are getting rid of people, and unfortunately I’m one of the lucky winners. On the bright side: I’ve got two more months before they let me go entirely, I’m going to get a fairly large chunk of severance pay, I’m not in debt, I’ve got my health, I can call on my parents if I really need help later on, and in short I’m not in a horrible position for somebody suddenly out of work. But it’s definitely a shock.

Please pray for me. I would like to find another job as soon as possible, obviously, but even part-time work would help. (I would rather not live off my severance pay, as you can understand.)

I would also like to finish up my translation project and make some money off it, but that won’t be finished for a few more months. (Although for whatever reason, I’m feeling a creativity burst. Perhaps being blamelessly unemployed starts up the adrenaline.) Obviously I could also put out audiobooks and fiction to make cash, and I even have things I could sell. So I’ve got several strings to my bow, potentially, to eke out my resources if I don’t find a job right away. As I say, I’m in a reasonably good position.

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