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 mail.ru 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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