Monthly Archives: December 2014


I took a break from my perpetual cheapitude and bought the Kindle edition of Scott Hahn’s new book, Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does).

And guess what!

Roger Pearse’s translated edition of Eusebius’ Gospel Problems and Solutions, was a footnote/endnote in Chapter 2! (Although Hahn must’ve been in a hurry, and didn’t list all the translators… oooooops. But he was recommending the book and not quoting, so it’s not an error, per se.)

Hahn’s a good writer and I love his book. (Highly recommended, as always.) But the pleasure of finding that footnote and letting Roger know was more than any money I could possibly spend.

A nice ending for 2014, for those few of us who share the crazy life of being indie patristics scholars, publishers, and translators.

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Movie Musical Marathon on GetTV

If you have one of the syndicated GetTV stations in your area, they’re running movie musicals (well, really “musical reviews”) all day today on New Year’s Eve. They’ve got one on right now from WWII, called Reveille with Beverly (1943). It’s a story about a young woman who works at the local hospital acting as a disc jockey for the wounded soldiers staying there. Ann Miller plays the protagonist and has really nice 40’s hair.

(Yeah, yeah, it must be time for a haircut when I start looking at movies for hair ideas.)

Anyway, it had an awesome filmed version of “Cow Cow Boogie,” among many other videos of musical awesomeness by the original bands. You should watch it!

UPDATE: It’s over now. What a great movie! Kind of a dust in the eyes ending, but in a sweet way. Now they’re starting Castle in the Air, supposedly a UK movie about a haunted castle in Scotland. But the program notes were confused. This is actually the OTHER 1952 movie called Castle in the Air which is a movie musical set in real life on the Columbia Studios lot (and including huge amounts of in-studio jokes about making movies, and the various non-acting jobs on the lot). This same movie is also called Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder. It’s a cute movie, but I usually only catch the end of it.

(And btw, there’s another wartime job – women deejays. All of a sudden after the war, no women deejays, even though everybody acknowledged that men liked women doing the job. You don’t see women deejays again until maybe the 1970’s. Did women in the audience not like the idea of “sexy/sweetheart women deejays” once their men were home? Did the idea of women deejays turn into women as talk show and variety show hosts instead, like Dinah Shore and Ruth Lyons?)

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Learn Chinese Culture from Amazon Prime Video!

There are a LOT of Asian films on Amazon Prime Video right now, and you could stay busy for years.

But there is also some kind of Chinese documentary series available about people who are famous in both Chinese literature and history. This could help a lot when you’re trying to follow a kung fu movie or understand when it takes place. I’m sure it’s meant as a sort of Cliffs Notes for students.

Amusingly, the documentary series is called in translation, “Well-Known Cultural Literates of China.”

The one I first came across is about good old Cao Cao (aka Tsao Tsao in the older transliteration). This guy is the hardworking, clever baddie in Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Chinese opera, and is legendarily known for breaking at least seven Confucian rules of family duty, either out of duty to his country or blind ambition. (This is known in Hughart as “the Seven Sacrileges of Tsao Tsao.”) OTOH, in real life he may or may not have been bad; but he certainly did have his good side in either case. (Even in Three Kingdoms, this is true.) He apparently did write good poetry.

Communist China has long been trying to reform his bad reputation, based on perceived similarities between Cao Cao and Mao. Obviously Mao Zedong was an epic villain who had literally millions executed and even more people killed by his incompetent policies; so even a villainous Cao Cao looks pretty good next to Mao.

(I just want to know who to root for in operas and anime. So determining the villain in a history I don’t know much about, and the primary sources of which I can’t read, is not all that important to me! Still, it’s good to know that there is a debate.)

This documentary is sort of a low budget version of a History Channel-type production. It came out in 2007. Subtitles are in English, with the translation generally okay but sometimes confusing. Audio is in Chinese. (Mandarin? Cantonese? I have no clue.) There are a fair number of Chinese academics interviewed on the show, many of whom get very excited at times about the good parts. (One guy has an awesome model of a medieval Chinese warship on his bookshelf.) The documentary includes readings (in appropriate historical places) of a few pieces of Cao Cao’s poetry. This is pretty cool, because I’ve read a lot about 4 character lines and Tang Dynasty poetry, but I’ve never heard it read by anybody.

The documentary also includes Cao Cao’s second and third sons by his second wife, who were also fairly famous historical figures and poets. (They’re collectively called “The Three Caos.” Which sounds in English like a barnyard, whether you pronounce the family name correctly or incorrectly….) One became Emperor of the country of Wei, but wasn’t very nice to his brothers. The other became a genteel prisoner for life, but wrote great poetry for the ages. Both died in early middle age.

I enjoyed it, although I wish Amazon Video would stream a little faster. (Generally the best way to watch Amazon Video is to download it onto a tablet, and then watch it online or offline. Offline puts a 48 hour-7 days time limit into play, however.) It really could have used more maps of where the towns were/are.

I don’t know if this documentary series is propagandized or reasonably factual, but it is probably worth watching. I’m the kind of person who wants to know at least a little about other countries’ history and literature (or at least I hate feeling totally ignorant!), so this is about my speed.


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“Jerusalem Tea”

My brother was away from wifi and called me to ask me for a quick search engine run. He’d seen something on sale called “Jerusalem tea,” and my parents thought it sounded like it must be marijuana.

Well, it’s apparently one of many names for “epazote,” a plant that is mostly found in Mexico but which has close relatives in Asia and Europe. (No relation whatsoever to cannabis. Its Latin name is “Dysphania ambroisioides.”) It’s a green, leafy medicinal plant that allegedly acts as a sort of “natural Bean-o,” or at least helps with gas. So it’s often used in Mexican cooking to help with black bean digestion, while also adding a little bit of extra flavor (“sweet and mild,” they say) as well as nutrition. (It’s greens.) You can also use it as an herbal tea. But you probably want to cook it first, or get the tea water really hot — because apparently it tastes like creosote if you eat it raw. (Although obviously tastes differ, and I’ve never tasted it to know.)

In other news, the seeds do kill hookworms and other parasites, but that’s by eating mass quantities; and it’s dangerous.


The seeds, stem, and roots have a lot more of the turpentine-y tasting compounds, and it would be embarrassing to get sick (or die, which is barely possible) from eating large quantities of something nasty. Of course, if you eat enough to choke a cow, it can be poisonous. So just use the leaves; and use them as a spice, not a salad.

Apparently the smell of the raw leaves is also kinda different. The name “epazote” means “skunk-excretions.” So yeah, use it as a cooked spice.

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How to Do a Good Pumpkin Soup

Well, yes, you need chicken broth. And lots of meat and veggies are good. And yes, you need lots of spicy spices unless you’re making a sweet pudding instead of soup.

But you know what really goes well as an ingredient for a pumpkin soup?

Barbecue sauce. A nice sweet, spicy barbecue sauce. It doesn’t change the orange color much, but it makes a BIG difference in flavorfulness.

(Possibly you could just use vinegar and sugar to do something similar, but a tomato barbecue sauce really does seem to make a difference.)


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“I Am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist”

Okay, you gotta watch this one!


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Boring Cars with Boring Paint Jobs

An article about boring cars.

Fortunately, today I saw a sportscar painted RACING GREEN. It was more a primary color racing green than a British racing green, but it looked pretty sweet. The magwheels were also green, except for the one which had been scraped up and was temporarily silver in places.

A new paintjob has to be cheaper than a new car, and it would also help you find your car in the parking lot. So there is some practicality.

Since today’s cars don’t have much shape to them, a paintjob designed the right way might make a boring car look pretty cool, by adding the illusion of shape.

And then, there’s always the great tradition of painted vans and painted Russian cars, which can now be achieved by using that vinyl photo-wrap stuff instead of actual paint. That way, you don’t have to sand down the car first, it’s cheaper, and yet it lasts 4-5 years. If you change your mind, you can pull the wrap back off, and everything on your car is the same as it was before. The only downside is that you would want to hand-wash your car while it’s wrapped – but I imagine dirt wouldn’t cling as tightly to vinyl. (And in fact, there are clear vehicle wraps that are just there to protect people’s paint from sun and weather.)

(Btw, here’s an article about dislike of the color green in NASCAR circles. Some regional groups of Irish people traditionally see green as a color that belongs to the Sidhe, and therefore unlucky for humans in clothing and some other categories. I don’t know if that’s where the NASCAR superstition comes from, but there are lots of Scots and Irish people in NASCAR country. Anyway, here’s more about NASCAR superstitions.)


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