Monthly Archives: May 2013

Watching the Agatha Christie Anime Again

Sadly, I didn’t keep my CDs of the anime series (still unlicensed in the US or anywhere else, boo), and most of the folks that had copies were keeping them on Megaupload before its fall, so now I have to keep tracking it down on Veoh or or whatever.

Currently the series is available on two YouTube channels (nightstrutter and imadix24) but a couple of nightstrutter’s vids have been deleted, and he hasn’t uploaded all 39 eps anyway. Conversely, imadix24 appears to have both Agatha Christie and various Arabic videos which look political, but I can’t determine if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. One hopes he’s a good guy as well as a mystery/anime fan, of course.

Otherwise, you have to watch the anime with French or Spanish subtitles, which is doable but makes your head hurt.

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American Football as Videogame

From commenter The Rocketeer at Twenty-Sided:

I figured out that American football is pretty simple if you put it in video game terms.

Your team starts with three extra lives. If your guys can move the ball ten yards, you hit a checkpoint and get all your lives back, but each time you fail you lose one of your lives.

Keep hitting checkpoints until you get to the end of the level, and you get a bunch of points. Or if your about to run out of lives, you can try and kick the ball for a few points. If you beat the level, you get a bonus round where you can try and make another point or two.

Either way, when the next round starts the other team spawns their dudes wherever the ball was last, so if you screw way up and can’t score you can still kick the ball to the end of the field so they spawn all the way at the start of the level, and then they play a round on offense while you try and make them lose all their lives.

And on and on, until the clock winds down and the match ends. It’s like Payload in TF2.

You can now explain football to all your non-football friends.

For further study, they can watch the anime Eyeshield 21.

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No Honor among Lawyers

After being given a collection of books in 1869 under the clear understanding that it would never be broken up or sold, and after being given cataloguing money by the UK under the same understanding, a society of lawyers is selling the books anyway.

Well, gee. What’s 150 years of their organization keeping faith with the original donor, against “I feel like it and there’s money in it”?

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We’ve Also Lost Jack Vance

The man was 96, he’d written his last book; but even so, I’m sorry to lose him so soon. He passed away Trinity Sunday.

I was just fingering my stack of his books earlier this week, feeling like it might be time to re-read a few….

He’s not somebody that I could read with real enjoyment until I was almost thirty. But he is a wonderful pleasure once you get in the right mood for him.

Here’s Mr. Vance’s jazz side. Buy his album if you like. You can also buy an opera based on his novel Space Opera, and many fine ebooks. It’s Paypal only.

St. Thomas More, patron of sf writers, worldbuilding, and purposefully dubious utopias, pray for us!

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Priest; Sociologist; and SF/F, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary, and Historical Writer

Fr. Andrew Greeley passed away last night. I think most Catholics would feel that dying on Corpus Christi Eve was a blessing, and I hope his family takes it as a consolation.

Fr. Greeley was a liberal, yes, but he was also a darned good writer who was misunderstood and even hated by the literary establishment, apparently for not being liberal enough, too Catholic, and too much a storyteller. He cared about Catholic identity when most liberal priests seemed happy to have people think that Catholicism was a very bland variation on mainline Protestantism. He wanted to save souls, and to warn the bishops of dangers.

He also did a few very public stupid things — most notably, allegedly trying to electioneer a papal election while in Rome to report it, and not using enough bella figura to blend in with all the other folks pushing papabile. You can see where this could get you kinda in trouble with various folks in the American hierarchy, especially the ones he was trying to electioneer…. He also on occasion publicly championed some Cool Ideas that were kinda sorta heretical in his own Chicago way, like when he claimed that Jesus didn’t have to die on the Cross to save us but should have died heroically, like a firefighter or something; but I’m not sure how serious he really was about it. He also apparently had feuds with some of his good ol’ liberal buddies, like Cardinal Bernardin, apparently over stuff like hiding child abuse and passing the priests along. So yeah, sometimes not having the bella figura may have been a good thing — but he never really broke the whole thing open, either. There were just a lot of Chicago hints.

And yet, he kept bobbing along. He wrote for Tor when Tor was a lot more fun. He liked Irish wolfhounds, and frequently included them as characters. He wrote bestsellers that seemed a little paranoid about stuff like priests abusing kids, but proved not to be. He described the Irish-American Chicago of his youth with an amazing detail that challenged others to keep up. He told stories of sin and redemption. And yeah, he tested and wrote up some darned interesting sociology studies too.

Always, he championed Catholic beauty, at Mass and elsewhere, against stupid ugly junk. And that was pretty darned conservative back in the 1980’s.

There were many years when I clung to Greeley as a beacon for Catholic identity, much as my grandfather did (I caught reading him from Grandpa, but Grandpa was a non-liberal Democrat….) We didn’t have EWTN where I was, and most of that stuff was strange to me anyway. But even if he got me to do some theologically stupid things (like toying with calling God “She”), he mostly taught me not to be ashamed to be Catholic and stay Catholic, and to understand and know a lot of Catholic things that had died out where I was. I learned Latin words from him. And he was a happy writer, most of the time, with good stories worth reading.

Usually his politics made me laugh; his later novels were cruder and angrier about it, and made me scowl. Then I lost a lot of patience with Greeley the day that I found out his bugaboo of several novels, the eeeevil Kardinal Ratzinger, was actually not a bad guy, and was in fact also championing beauty and Catholic identity. Later it made me laugh sadly, to see how Greeley kept it up against someone who was fundamentally on his side. I laughed even harder when I saw Pope Benedict carry out several of Greeley’s pope fantasies from novels. (Truly, there’s nothing like a good nemesis.)

And now, Benedict is in a monastery, and Fr. Greeley has gone to God after years in his monastery of being injured.

May God be good to him. Let us pray for his soul, and ask him to pray for ours.


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The Kingdom of Slender Swords, by Hallie Erminie Rives

I’ve just read a romance novel from 1910 that ought to be an anime.

1. Set in Japan by a writer who’d visited there and married a diplomat.

2. Features every cool and creepy part of Japanese society, including a heroine who gets lost and inadvertently visits Yoshiwara’s brothels!

3. Includes martial arts being used by cool Japanese guy against annoying foreigner.

4. Spends a lot of time both showing the attractiveness of Japanese popular religion, but arguing that Christianity is still the way to go.

5. Descriptions of kimono which are authentic and instantly able to be pictured. (Especially if you know what Edwardian kimono look like, from watching shows set back then.)

6. Plenty of things happen. Plenty of things.

7. Ends with action scene where heroic American diplomats team up with heroic Japanese Navy guys to defeat an evil Western terrorist plot by a mad scientist, complete with a life or death struggle on an airplane. (And this was right after the Wrights.)

Strangely enough, this very positive (but not unrealistically idealistic) portrait of then-modern Japan was drawn by a lady who had previously written another novel defending lynching, of all things. Granted, she was a lot younger then, and her dad was an old Confederate colonel… but sheesh, that’s a change and a half.

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Friar and Jazzman

I just came across a Life magazine article about an old jazz alto sax player named Boyce Brown. He converted to Catholicism in 1952, joined the Servite friars in 1953 and became Brother Matthew, was permitted by his superiors to record an album with some old friends in 1956 (for the benefit of the missions), and passed away in 1959.

Brother Matthew in the recording studio. This story goes on for a few pages after, but this is the best pic.

Here’s a long blogpost from a jazz fan, mostly about his career before the monastery. Features some interesting comments on the post, so read all the way down.

Boyce Brown playing on Jimmy McPartland’s 1939 recording of “China Boy.”

Boyce Brown on “Jazz Me Blues.”

You can also buy his Brother Matthew album on Amazon.

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The Poor Man’s Controversy, 1769

A Catholic apologetics book for ordinary people by John Mannock, OSB.

Here’s a later edition of one of Mannock’s earlier works, The Poor Man’s Catechism.

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Chestertonian Bookplate

Shawn Tribe is selling a Chesterton book from the Chestertons’ own library.

(G.K. and Frances, that is, not Ian and Barbara.)

Nice bookplate. Me likey.

Look, learn, feel holy envy; and if you have the moolah, buy.

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Memorial Day

May our debt to our fallen never be forgotten.

May they rest in peace.

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1974 Father Brown mystery series now free for Amazon Prime

Just what the headline says.

Also featuring the guy who played Ian Chesterton (actor William Russell) as an Anglican clergyman in the first ep. Didn’t even recognize him, he was so into his part.

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Licensed to Fic

Amazon. So freakin’ brilliant. So clever about making money.

For now, the only “Kindle Worlds” available for authorized, licensed fanfic-for-sale are Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars. But Amazon says more fanfic licenses are coming.

Royalties will be shared by Amazon between the license owner (Warner Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment) and the fanfic writer. Royalties will fall into two different classes, based solely on length.

On the dark side, Amazon Publishing owns your story. “Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.” So if they lose the license, you’re kinda outta luck.

More info:

“Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World. When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.”

So if you come up with a great piece of fanon or a new character, they own it and you don’t. You’re working for the company, just like somebody putting out a comic or a novel in the traditional licensing way.

Also, you don’t have control over how much it costs, and thus how much royalty you end up with, and you don’t have marketing control. “Amazon Publishing will set the price for Kindle Worlds stories. Most will be priced from $0.99 through $3.99.”

There are also guidelines. Which, oddly enough, will probably ensure that fanfic survives in the wild.

“Pornography: We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Content: We don’t accept offensive content, including but not limited to racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language.

Illegal and Infringing Content: We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.

Poor Customer Experience: We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art, or product descriptions. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.

Excessive Use of Brands: We don’t accept the excessive use of brand names or the inclusion of brand names for paid advertising or promotion.

Crossover: No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.”

Yup, even when it’s all owned by the same company. Crossovers are tricky in the legal world.

So there you have it. Definitely not as restrictive as the traditional sort of work for hire, and you even get royalties. But still, it’s writer beware, so be careful out there.

If you’re interested, visit Kindle Worlds today!


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Dept. of What Fresh Hell That Came From

Apparently, the incredibly stupid and simoniacal “service hours” requirements for Confirmation in some parishes are based on the incredibly stupid, illegal use of indentured labor “community service hours” requirements to graduate some high schools.

Well, of course somebody has to do something in the Church that “sounds good” but is stupid and illegal, just to parrot something secular that “sounds good” but is stupid and illegal.


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Chris Hadfield’s Music Video of “Space Oddity”

At this point, Hadfield is definitely living the filker power fantasy.

Here’s a video put together by him and his brother, which apparently tickled the heck out of David Bowie.

Note the actually-pretty-daring stunt with the guitar. Wouldn’t have been pretty to kill your guitar when you’re up in space. It’s probably not the first time anybody in space has sung the song (a lot of astronauts and cosmonauts sing and play), but it’s definitely the most stylish!


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