Archives: June 2006
Tue Jun 27, 2006
I'm going to spend most of the next two weeks in Tennessee and Missouri, so things will be even quieter than usual around here.
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Sat Jun 24, 2006
The smell of SF in the evening
"Sf's no good," they bellow till we're deaf.
"But this looks good." -- "Well then, it's not sf."
--Robert Conquest, Spectrum 2 (1962)
When I come across arrogant ignoramuses like those who inspired the linked editorial, I don't want to argue with the them. I just want to clobber the dolts.
It's all Fred's fault for finding this depressing essay.
Soundtrack: The Rodeo Carburettor (sic), "Bonnie"
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I've noticed that my weblogs are viewed least on Saturdays. Which is good: it indicates that you all have better things to do than idly surf on your days off. But a few do stop by, and for them here's a reward: a couple of cute little movies about an unlikely love.
*or something like that. My Latin's a bit rusty.
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Lost in transit
There's a new Philip K. Dick story out: The Missing Android.
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Thu Jun 22, 2006
Wed Jun 21, 2006
This week's really bad idea
On June 17, Amusement Cafe St. Grace Court opened in Akihabara. This cafe features "nuns" as waitresses, and rather than greeting customers with "Welcome home, Master," which is a common welcome at maid cafes, the "sisters" welcome customers with the phrase, "Lost Lambs, welcome to Grace Court". The cafe's background music is Gospel-styled. Pictures of the cafe, the waitresses and their uniforms are available here.
I have no problem with catgirls, but a "Nun" cafť? Um, no.
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Tue Jun 20, 2006
Cranky old man from Tulsa
A note on R.A. Lafferty:
Lafferty is never "realistic." However ordinary his settings may seem when first we start one of his tales, we must remember that for a certainty they are surreal fantasies in the truest sense of those words. I think the most apt analogy for Lafferty's works is animated cartoons. Things in Lafferty tales happen at the breathless, breakneck pace--and with the madcap ad hoc paralogic--of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. We believe none of it because we are never for a second expected to believe any of it, any more than we are expected to "believe" what happens to Bugs and Elmer; we do not participate to behold "slices of life" but to behold madcap exaggerations and distortions of it. The single worst error a reader new to Lafferty can make is to think that a world Lafferty introduces in apparently ordinary science-fiction terms actually is (even by science-fiction standards) ordinary.
Keeping this in mind, go read Nine Hundred Grandmothers.
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Mon Jun 19, 2006
Getting the big picture
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Sun Jun 18, 2006
MamaT has revived the Friday Feast. It's Sunday now, but so what?
Appetizer: What is a word that you use that would not be considered common?
Ordinarily, I prefer the demotic to the recherchť. When I do use less common terms, it's generally when I'm discussing subjects with specialized vocabularies, e.g., Japanese words in the context of anime, or botanical terms with cacti and mesembs.
Soup: What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?
Just two calendars this year, one ballet and one Tolkien.
Salad: What is the age span of the children in your family ... and the children in the family you grew up in?
In my own family -- not applicable. In the family I grew up in, thirteen years, if I counted on my fingers right.
Main Course: Do you care about fashion? What do you especially like to shop for?
Present-day fashion, not in the slightest. Past, future or fantasy fashions, yes (look for me at Costume-Con 25). I hate shopping. Period.
Dessert: What is the last beverage you drank?
Soundtrack: Steve Morse, "Southern Steel"
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Tue Jun 13, 2006
Scourge of the seven seas
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Odds & ends
There is not a single nation or culture on the face of planet earth that voluntarily converted to Islam. Is it possible that the heritage of forced conversions has infected Islamic culture not with the zeal of true faith but with a psychological coping mechanism of self-justifying fanaticism? Not that this is conscious, but that there is a subconscious structure of distorted fanaticism based on a cultural remembrance of the initial forced conversion. If an entire culture is conquered and forced to adopt a religion it in no way believes, could the new believers create a mindset conducive to the kind of murderous fanaticism we see today? If the individual forced convert reacts in the ways [Eric] Hoffer describes, what would an entire culture do in the same situation? Quite frankly, this does make the Muslim world a lot more understandable than a strictly logical analyses does. -- Lee Ann Morawski
My usual opinion of film reviewers is that they couldnít cobble together enough college credits for a degree in English literature because they were too busy compiling their The 101 Greatest Movies About . . . compendia. As the saying goes: Those who canít, teach. Those who canít teach, teach gym. And those who canít teach gym get a degree in cinema studies. I should know: I got a degree in cinema studies. I also have a list of the Five Greatest Films About Chess. Wanna see it? Didnít think so . . . --Anthony Sacramone
Just wondering: is there any mention of the George Bushes in the movie A Prairie Home Companion? Or does Keillor feign sanity?
I made some very minor changes to the stylesheet for this weblog yesterday. Today I found that I can't read individual posts here or in my other weblog in Safari. If I click on the "comments" or "link" tags at the bottom of an entry, I get a screen full of black text on a black background. This happens only in Safari; in Firefox, everything works the way it's supposed to. Is this happening in other browsers, or is this just an annoying peculiarity of Safari? (If it does happen with your set-up, you can still read the comments by selecting everything.) The thudding sound you hear in the distance is me banging my head against the wall.
Update: I reversed the problematic change. I still want to fiddle some more with the templates, but I evidentally need to some research first.
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Mon Jun 12, 2006
Numbers do not lie ...
... but they have the propensity to tell the truth with intent to deceive. (Eric Temple Bell)
Data about data:
People get a message stating, "There are a lot of interesting things on this disk, but I seem to have misplaced my glasses, so I can't read it right now. Would you like me to utterly destroy all your work for the last year?" Oh, Iím sorry. Thatís not actually what it says. It says, "Disk damaged. Initialize?" Anyone writing messages like this needs to be initialized. (Bruce Tognazzini)
Soundtrack: Mama Guitar, "A Certain Girl"
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Galadriel in black?
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Fri Jun 09, 2006
Really bad idea of the week
"billy budd sailor fanfiction"
Other recent nightmarish search strings include "metal bikini" and "sonata for the harp and bicycle the synopsis."
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Singing like a chainsaw
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Thu Jun 08, 2006
You know these characters very well.
Hint: imagine them ten years younger.
There's more here.
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Tue Jun 06, 2006
An overdose of high culture
Before there were the Bonzos, there was Spike Jones:
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Mon Jun 05, 2006
Thought for the day
The great thing about family is that youíre stuck with them. God as Father means heís stuck with you, regardless of your lack of ability to please Him. And for that I praise the Lord! Because he has made us family and heís stuck with us!
Soundtrack: Someday's Dreamers soundtrack, "I won't forget"
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On the road
Whether Cars is in the same class as The Incredibles remains to be seen, but the early word is positive:
CARS reminded me, in many ways, of what separates Pixar's product from the rest of the pack. Other producers simply take a premise, hang a lot of one liners and gags on it - and vocalize it with an all star cast. That's what Hollywood sees when they watch a Pixar film. However, one of the secrets to Pixar's success is that their films contain larger themes weaved within the surface story. Subtexts that really enrich the film and leave you with something to think about. This time, it's not just about talking cars, it's about Route 66, and about a part of America that we've lost.
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Thu Jun 01, 2006
Expensive cat toy
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The literary landscape
Entering "Gene Wolfe" into the map generator yielded R.A. Lafferty, Cordwainer Smith and Neil Gaiman, as expected, but also Borges, Euripides and Dostoyevski -- which is as it should be.
(Via Flos Carmeli.)
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Better ways to spend your time
Victor Morton returns:
Things Victor Would Rather Do Than Watch THE DAVINCI CODE
I would rather receive a pair of boxing gloves from Mike Tyson, with a card that says "let's whisper sweet nothings again, Evander" ó than see THE DAVINCI CODE.
I would rather go to Mecca during the Hajj and smear myself in bacon while wearing a burkha patterned after the Danish flag ó than see THE DAVINCI CODE.
I would rather moderate a debate between Fred Phelps and Rosie O'Donnell in the Tehran University student union while eating shards of broken glass so small they only leave paper cuts on my tongue ó than see THE DAVINCI CODE. ...
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How to read a book
Maureen O'B. encounters another Maureen O'B.:
... she's got a post up about Mortimer Adler and being a "demanding reader", and how this is a GOOD thing. Instead of getting caught up in the story, you're supposed to hold yourself apart, jotting down little notes as you go.
God should save me from ever having to do such an unnatural, art-destroying thing.
What the lady is describing, and Mortimer Adler is advocating, is not "how to read a book". It is "how to read a book if you're a professional academic who plans to write a paper on it".I don't think I've ever ranted on this before. So let me use this as an excuse, and tell you all now ó I find this kind of reading to be the enemy of reading. It prevents both enjoyment and true understanding. (IMHO.)
What you do first is READ THE BOOK. Savor its flavor and digest it for a while. Don't think of it as a thing to be analyzed; it is a thing to be read. How can you understand anything about a book unless you read it as a book?
I suspect that professional academics tend to come up with silly theories because they like to analyze before reading and digestion are anywhere near complete. Why not make bricks without straw? Why not use them to build a new Tower of Babel? No need to wait and see whether the author agrees with your pretty idea ó just write it as you go. Just scribble notes in the book until the author's ink is overwritten by your own.
You can also see how young academics get tricked into making their lifework the study of writers they don't even like. As long as you never allow yourself to come under an author's spell, you don't need to find out whether or not the spell works.
Update: Here's the post that prompted Maureen I's rant. See also Maureen II's comment on Maureen I's post.
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