Saturday, May 31, 2008

Play a Horse Riding Game

Click here to play a horse jumping game. Run fast. Jump high.

The photo is from allspice1's Flickr page.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Elder Son chose The Bourne Ultimatum, but it's one we've been wanting to see for a while. It's the third film in a trilogy -a beautifully constructed, coherent, balanced trilogy. The Younger Son and I both like this one best of the three. I am an Albert Finney fan, so this film holds a special draw for me because of that.


Variety tips their hat to Albert Finney:
Albert Finney effectively lends his weight, basso tones and a slight Southern drawl to his man-behind-the-curtain character.

The New York Times says,
What’s different about the Bourne movies is the degree to which they have been able to replace the pleasures of cinematic violence with those of movie-made kinetics — action, not just blood.

Rolling Stone:
The movie is thunderously exciting, but what makes it resonate is the wrenching story we read on Damon's face. We've waited all summer for a wild ride to grab us with more than jolts. Now it's here. Hang on.

Roger Ebert says,
I enjoy the movies simply for what they are: skillful exercises in high-tech effects and stunt work, stringing together one preposterous chase after another, in a collection of world cities with Jason apparently piling up frequent-flier miles between them.

"Ultimatum" is a tribute to Bourne's determination, his driving skills, his intelligence in out-thinking his masters and especially his good luck. No real person would be able to survive what happens to him in this movie, for the obvious reason that they would have been killed very early in "The Bourne Identity" (2002) and never have survived to make "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004). That Matt Damon can make this character more convincing than the Road Runner is a tribute to his talent and dedication. It's not often you find a character you care about even if you don't believe he could exist.


Joan of Arc

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1431 of Saint Jeanne d'Arc, martyr. There is a short biography at the Catholic Encyclopedia. There are links here to biographies online, texts of the trial documents and more. My post from last year includes several links, including a link to a film on her trial which is available both online and as a Criterion DVD. There is a wikipedia article listing depictions of her in literature, theater, operas, oratorios, vocal works, paintings, sculpture, films, music, television, video games, computer games, comics and animation. Joan of Arc has been a popular figure through the years.

Here's Joan the Woman, a 1917 Cecil B. DeMille silent, in 2 parts:

The picture at the top of the post is Entreé de Jeanne d'Arc à Orléans, painted in 1887 by Jean-Jacques Scherrer.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cleanse This Hellish Place

Click here for help getting started.

The image is from xkcd, "A webcomic of romance,
sarcasm, math, and language."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Accelerando by Charles Stross won the 2006 Locus award for best science fiction novel, which is why I happened to decide to read it. The book is readily available and I picked mine up at my local Borders, but it is also free online here, having been released by its author under a CC license. It's nice to be able to browse books online like that, but I don't read books online. I like curling up on the couch or in bed with my books.

I'm glad I discovered this author. I'll be looking for more by him.

from the back of the book:
The Singularity. It is the era of the posthuman. Artificial intelligences have surpassed the limits of human intellect. Biotechnological beings have rendered people all but extinct. Molecular nanotechnology runs rampant, replicating and reprogramming at will. Contact with extraterrestrial life grows more imminent with each new day.

Struggling to survive and thrive in this accelerated world are three generations of the Macx clan: Manfred, an entrepreneur dealing in intelligence amplification technology whose mind is divided between his physical environment and the Internet; his daughter, Amber, on the run from her domineering mother, seeking her fortune in the outer system as an indentured astronaut; and Sirhan, Amber's son, who finds his destiny linked to the fate of all of humanity.

For something is systematically dismantling the nine planets of the solar system. Something beyond human comprehension. Something that has no use for biological life in any form...

SFSite declares it:
Stross's latest and greatest statement in post-human science fiction
writing for people who know, understand, and love science fiction

Emerald City (oh! how I miss it!) has a review which says,
It is fast-paced, slick and thoroughly seductive. If you wanted to make a case for science fiction being a distinct and very different literary form, Accelerando is a book you would have to study. As for the rest of us, we’ll just add it to that list of seminal books that anyone wanting to understand SF has to read.

Glenn Ford's 3:10 to Yuma

The Younger Son and I watched the original 1957 3:10 to Yuma during lunch this afternoon. We are both favorably impressed by the film, which stars Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. I had not seen this one before and have not seen the remake. From what I've read of the plot of the remake it kept some of the bones of the story but added lots of cliche extras (Apache warriors, Chinese railroad laborers, etc.) and changed the ending.

Here's the opening segment that includes the theme sung by Frankie Laine:

Puffin Cam

I posted a link to a puffin cam last year, but Refuge Watch has posted a link to one. It appears to be the same camera, though the link is different. Click here to get to the host site.

Wonderful puffins!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mystery Men

Mystery Men was The Elder Son's choice for tonight's movie. I think he chose it strictly because it has Tom Waits in it. It was fun and is apparently developing a bit of a cult following.



I've seen Pippin on a college theater stage and have the original cast album CD (which replaced my well-worn LP), but none of us had seen the filmed version. The Younger Son, The Daughter and I watched Pippin during lunch today, and though everybody liked it fine, I was disappointed. There is a lot missing from the film. I'm particularly disappointed in War is a Science, which seems much shorter. It's been a while, but it seems to me like entire songs and even whole scenes were missing.

Here's a song from early in the film:

R.I.P Sydney Pollack

/film reports that Sydney Pollack has died.


Coffee coffee and more coffee
100Films has a video.
NPR Morning Edition:
Film Director Sydney Pollack died Monday of cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73. Pollack was best known for directing The Way We Were, Out of Africa, Tootsie and Three Days of the Condor, among many other movies. But he began his career as an actor.

NPR All Things Considered has an audio interview.
Roger Ebert
The Guardian obit, film blog
Voice of America
Times Online
Huffington Post
Best known as a director, he had very few genre credits. As an actor, he appeared in Death Becomes Her (1992) and one episode of The Twilight Zone ("The Trouble with Templeton", 1960). He produced Sliding Doors (1998), and directed an episode of The Fugitive ("Man on a String", 1964).

Edward Copeland on Film

Colonize Mars or Invade Iraq?

I know which I'd have chosen! When I was a child I dreamed of the Earth-Mars shuttle and a colony on Mars.

Charles Stross, whose novel Accelerando is my current sf read, asks,
Yes, I'm asking you: what would you do with the cost of the Iraq war (take your pick: $513Bn or $6000Bn) in your budget? Colonise Mars? Solve our carbon emission problem and fix global warming? House half a billion people? Or something else ...?

(And what isn't going to happen now, because we pissed it all away on the desert sands?)

HT: BoingBoing

Monday, May 26, 2008

First European Sumo Champion

The winner of the Emperor's Cup in the summer tournament is Bulgarian-born Kotooshu, the first European to win that prize.

Daily Yomiuri Online says,
Kotooshu capped his first Emperor's Cup with a 14th win at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday, beating fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai to end two weeks of drama in Tokyo on a high.

With 13 wins and just one defeat on day 14 of the 15-day tournament, he is now guaranteed victory.

"It's so delightful. I can't find right words to express my feeling," the beaming 25-year-old told reporters.

"I just concentrated on my sumo. That's all."

Kotooshu's two main rivals, Mongolians Hakuho and Asashoryu, put in mediocre performances to stand at 11-3 and 10-4 respectively.

The Guardian reports:
Kotooshu, whose real name is Kaloyan Mahlyanov, said: "I can't believe it. I've let so many chances slip through my hands before". He became the seventh foreign wrestler to win a tournament. The two reigning grand champions are Mongolian.

Kotooshu, from a village near the city of Veliko Tarnovo, was a European champion at Greco-Roman wrestling by the age of 14, and was expected to compete in the 2000 Olympics until he was spotted by his current stable master, Sadogatake, who persuaded him that his bulk was better suited to the sumo ring.


International Herald Tribune
The Mirror has a story and video.

The photo above is by Morio and is from Wikipedia.


The Sofia News Agency reports:
"I have no words to express. I am so happy. I finally did it," said Kotooshu, who took 34 tournaments from his sumo debut to win the Emperor's Cup.

Kotooshu entered the meet with one goal in mind getting a majority of wins to maintain his ozeki status. But the 25-year-old has been on fire, conquering both yokozuna en route to matching his previous best winning streak of 12-0 as a sekiwake at the 2005 autumn basho.

With the Marines at Tarawa

Coffee Coffee and More Coffee has inspired me to watch With the Marines at Tarawa in honor of Memorial Day:
That 18 minute film, With the Marines at Tarawa won the 1945 Oscar for Best Documentary short subject. Two marines in the photographic unit died filming the battle, while Captain Hayward, who was on the beach as well, was awarded the Bronze Star. For me, it seems more appropriate to remember Louis Hayward on Memorial Day, than to watch war films starring actors who chose to stay at home.

Louis Hayward was a British actor (The Man in the Iron Mask, And Then There Were None) who enlisted in the marines after Pearl Harbor and served in the photographic unit documenting the war.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tim Burton's Batman

The Elder Son had never seen this and thought it would be interesting to watch it before he sees the new Batman movie that's coming out soon. It's been years since I last saw it. We don't have the DVD, just the VHS we bought years ago.

Tim Burton's Batman stars Michael Keaton in the title role, Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Kim Basinger as the love interest.

To be honest, I can't remember what my opinion of this film was when I first saw it. I much prefer the new series incarnation now.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

We went to the mall theater to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull after church and a quick burger this afternoon. I had read such scathing reviews from disappointed viewers that I went in with low expectations. The few positive reviews I had seen were an encouragement to me, but still... I dreaded another Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, second in the series and the one I never forgave them for.

I liked this one. I think it's not as good as the original film but every bit as good and probably better than the third one. It is fun and action-packed, but the best thing about this installment is the return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. She's wonderful, with that beautiful smile, and I can believe in her full and happy life as Marion Ravenwood Wilson between movies 1 and 4.

There are some really cool scenes, including fencing scenes that The Younger Son says are about the best he's seen in modern movies. I'm not impressed by the monkey scene. That's the one scene I'd cut if I were given the choice, but then, what do I know. Some seem to like that scene.

I'm glad I went and will buy the DVD when it's available.



Roger Ebert
Cinematical has a review and bunches of links.
/Film has links to early reviews.
Rolling Stone
Slant Magazine

... there's still enough of the old magic, and heart, left in to leave no doubt that this was a film that everyone involved really wanted to make for the characters and story, not just for the paycheck. That, among many other virtues, is what elevates Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull above the vast majority of would-be blockbusters this and any other summer.

SFSignal has a review. He doesn't mention the return of Karen Allen.

R.I.P. Dick Martin

Dick Martin died last night. I saw the news first on GreenCine. I remember watching Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In back in junior high and high school.

There is a video with clips from Laugh-In here.


The Independent
The Huffington Post has an obituary and a story about Laugh-In with videos.

Towel Day

Don't panic! Today is Towel Day, a day set aside in memory of Douglas Adams.

from Adams' work The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as quoted at the wikipedia Towel Day site:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

The photo of the towel is from Kreg Steppe's Flickr page.

Psalm 131

Psalm 131

1 Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.

3 Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Duke Ellington

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1974 of Duke Ellington.

Ellington made a short film called Black and Tan Fantasy in 1929. It is available at youtube in two parts.
part 1:

part 2:

It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing):

Take the "A" Train:

Friday, May 23, 2008


We just recently bought Jumanji and Zathura in a DVD 2-pack, and we watched Jumanji a few days ago. Tonight we saw Zathura, which is reported to be a prequel to Jumanji. It is not as good, or at least not as appealing over as wide an age range. We think we would have enjoyed it much more if we'd seen it when the kids were 10 or so, but, of course, the movie hadn't been made yet when our kids were 10. The special effects were great fun, and The Younger Son got a big kick out of the Bullitt poster. We've decided it belongs in the same group as Galaxy Quest and The Last Starfighter only these other 2 are much more re-watchable.

Roger Ebert says it "it works gloriously as space opera." SFSite says, "I found Zathura an absolute delight."

The BBC reviewer likes it:
Though some of the intergalactic mayhem may be too intense for very young viewers, this exciting frolic is perfect family fodder with a pleasingly retro feel and a sly wit that ensures grown-ups will be as entertained as their children.

Entertainment Weekly likes it, too:
From a Hollywood that often settles for less in the family department, Zathura is a rarity: a stellar fantasy that faces down childhood anxieties with feet-on-the-ground maturity.

But some folks had some of the same problems we did. says,
And what a boring game it turns out to be once it actually gets started! Zathura spends a ridiculous amount of time at the beginning to establish the fact that the boys hate each other. For nearly 30 minutes, we're subject to non-stop, obnoxious yelling and screaming between Danny and Walter.

The NYTimes review is here.

This film, like Jumanji before it, is based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg.


Olbermann's Opinion of Hillary's Latest

Yes, exactly.

HT: Huffington Post

R.I.P. Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin has died. I saw the news first on SF Signal.


John Scalzi

World Turtle Day

Today is World Turtle Day, a day set aside for people around the world to appreciate turtles and tortoises. The Humane Society suggests 12 Things to Do for Turtles and Tortoises:

1. Help Stop the Asian Turtle Crisis.

2. Get Turtles out of U.S. Live Animal Markets.

3. Don't Pollute or Litter.

4. Protect Turtle and Tortoise Habitat.

5. Stop Turtle and Tortoise Exploitation.

6. Give Them a Brake.

7. Enjoy Turtles and Tortoises in the Wild.

8. Do Not Disturb.

9. Turn Out the Lights.

10. Report Crimes.

11. See What You Can Do.

12. Spread the Word.

There are details on how to participate in these activities at the site.

James Blish

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1975 of James Blish. I still have all 12 of his Star Trek series books and Spock Must Die. They were a bright spot in my junior high school years. I also liked Cities in Flight, which is on this list of 50 Most Significant SFF Books and on The Younger Son's list of Top 15 Very Long Books that teenage readers should read, and I loved A Case of Conscience, which is on a different top-50 list.

There is a list of 16 inventions here traceable to his work.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Space Alone

A touching 3-minute video by Ilias Sounas:

HT: SFSignal

Edward Bellamy

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1898 of author Edward Bellamy. His book Looking Backward was one of the first utopian novels I read. The book was first published in 1888 and is readily available online. Bellamy was a political socialist and his views are apparent in the book.

Some of his stories are available at Gaslight. There are links to resources here. The Simple Dollar takes an economic look, focusing on Bellamy as inventor of the credit card. There are critical notes at enotes.

Bellamy's father was a Baptist minister, and Bellamy was baptized into a Baptist church in his teens. His early faith influenced his later thought, but he did not affirm a Christian faith in later life.

I'm Gonna Live to 102.

Mother is going to live to be 105!

How about you?

Click here and answer the questions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Talk Like Yoda Day

Talk Like Yoda Day today is. Yours is the challenge, yes. Give up you will not. Fail you will not. Try you will not. Do! Meet the challenge you will.

Instructions there are.

From niallkennedy's Flickr page the photo is. Admirable, hmmm?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Truth and Consequences

Years ago I read and loved Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, so when I saw her Truth and Consequences for a buck at Dollar Tree I snatched it up and put it on the top of my TBR stack. I enjoy her writing style. It flows and enables the story without calling attention to itself.

Bookslut hits the nail on the head with a review that closes with "This is a quiet story about real people in a place that is imaginable, but what Lurie asks the reader to do is look at themselves and extrapolate this story onto their lives."

The NYTimes review is here. The Spectator reviews it here. There's a reading guide at Penguin.

I can't remember the last time I heard the word "widdershins" outside of a fairy tale, but reading it had a big impact on how I read the novel and read the characters.

Cowboy Bebop 1

Borders had a great 40% off sale on DVDs, and I bought the first DVD in the Cowboy Bebop series. We watched it this evening. It includes the first 5 episodes:
1 Asteroid Blues
2 Stray Dog Strut
3 Honky Tonk Women
4 Gateway Shuffle
5 Ballad of Fallen Angels

They are about 20 minutes each, which I guess makes them 30 minutes long when commercials are added on tv. I liked these. They reminded me thematically of Firefly and visually of Johnny Quest (with Helsing thrown in). The Younger Son doesn't see the Firefly connection and hasn't seen Johnny Quest or Helsing, so I'm alone in seeing the likeness, but I can't help what came to mind.

Now, if only the regular price per disc weren't $30!

Cowboy Bebop is an extremely character oriented series that revolves around two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet. Spike is a lanky gunslinger with a dangerous past and some killer martial arts moves. He tends to be rather presumptuous and aggressive, which often lands him in some pretty dangerous situations. Luckily for him, Jet is there to watch his back. Laid-back but tough, Jet is a rough-sounding ex-cop with a bionic arm. He seems to be almost a perennial father-figure to Spike, and is often the more rational of the two. During their adventures in space, they come across a few more companions.
The beauty of this series is the way in which it explores its characters. Each character has a fully-developed past which is slowly revealed as the series progresses.
There is no other way to describe the production values of Cowboy Bebop: they're just outstanding.

almost guaranteed to be loved by fans of stylish action and sci-fi, as well those into not-too-serious space adventure and way-too-serious space adventure.

opening video sequence:

Budget Hero

Play the Budget Game and be a hero. Think some about how the individual items affect personal life as well as the national budget.

HT: Boing Boing

Monday, May 19, 2008

Murnau's Faust

This 1926 silent film was directed by F.W. Murnau. It is based on the German story of a man who makes a pact with the Devil. Faust is # 91 on the Arts and Faith list of 100 most spiritually significant films.

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema has an article which concludes,
Through the use of light and movement, and some brilliant special effects, Murnau attempted to create a visual equivalent of Goethe's literary masterpiece. Murnau's film may not be as great an icon as Goethe's classic, but it is nonetheless a cinematic masterpiece worthy of its filmmaker.
Films de France says,
Where the film is most impressive is in its avant-garde cinematography - which by the standards of 1925, when the film was made, was way ahead of its time. Murnau’s technical competence, imagination and willingness to take a gamble and try something different all play a part in defining the film’s unique visual feel. The way in which the film uses image to convey the emotions of its protagonists and the sheer awesome power of the Devil is something which only a few other filmmakers could ever come near to matching. Time and again, the spectator is stunned by Murnau’s artistic genius - and his daring.
Roger Ebert considers it a "great movie" and says that
"Faust," with its supernatural vistas of heaven and hell, is particularly distinctive in the way it uses the whole canvas. ... Murnau treated the screen as if it offered a larger space than his contemporaries imagined;
5/20/2008 update:

Having just seen this film yesterday it came to mind when I saw the post at Finding the Balance: Woodstock for Preachers - Day 1 (I think I followed a Methoblog link, but I can't trace it back now...) where the blogger compares his preaching conference to Woodstock (I wasn't at Woodstock, so I don't know) and comments:
So, here I am at the Festival of Homiletics, which I've determined is "Woodstock for Preachers (absent the free drugs and love - I hope! Uggh - kill me now)."
The angel in the last scene of the movie (at about 1:44:30 here) protects the couple in the name of love, even though their love was inspired by carnal desire and corrupted by the Devil and condemned by society and brought them both to their deaths, and calls love
The Word that wings joyfully throughout the universe, The Word that appeases every pain and grief, The Word that expiates all human guilt, the Eternal Word...
Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic.

And I'm in favor of free drugs, which would surely help with our budget. Going from 80% to 50% prescription drug coverage in a one-income household was a real kicker.

10/11/2009 update: House of Mirth and Movies has a review.

Viking Eggeling

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1925 of film maker Viking Eggeling. There is more information here.

Symphonie Diagonale (1924):

ubuweb says, in part,
In Diagonal Symphony, the emphasis is on objectively analyzed movement rather than expressiveness on the surface patterning of lines into clearly defined movements, controlled by a mechanical, almost metronomic tempo. ... Above all, a sober quality of rhythm articulation remains the most pronounced quality of the film.

Critical Culture
has a post on the film.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1864 of Nathaniel Hawthorne whose best-known works are The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables. Around our house The House of Seven Gables has the reputation of being one of the most boring of the required readings. I haven't read it again since it was required of me in high school, but I certainly found it boring then. He wrote 2 books re-telling Greek myths: A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys and Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls.

He wrote several stories of horror, fantasy and the occult. Some examples: The Artist of the Beautiful is here, Rappaccini's Daughter can be read online here, The Birthmark can be read online here, Dr. Heidegger's Experiment is here, Young Goodman Brown can be read here and seen in a modern video interpretation here, The Celestial Railroad is online here....

His works can be read online here. There are some excellent links to resources and works online here.

This is the segment from a video on Salem Massachusetts that focuses on Hawthorne:

Sunday, May 18, 2008


The Elder Son suggested we watch this during supper. I had never seen Jumanji and neither had The Younger Son or The Daughter. The Elder Son had seen it in the theater with The Husband when it first came out and they had rented it and watched it at home some years ago. This DVD copy came in a 2-pack with Zathura for $7.99. Not a bad price.

We all enjoyed this. I like Robin Williams when he is scripted -it's when he's ad-libbing that I don't like him. We thought the movie was perfectly cast. We'd love to see special features like interviews with the actors, information on the groundbreaking special effects with interviews with those responsible, an interview with Chris Van Allsburg, whose book was the basis for the movie....

I can't believe I'm just now getting around to seeing this one.


One Million Years B.C.

I have a soft spot in my heart for One Million Years B.C.. I saw it in the theater when it was released when I was in elementary school, and my sister and I pretended to be cave people for ages afterwards. My kids never saw it, but I picked up a used copy at Spin Street the other day and introduced The Younger Son and The Daughter to the film this afternoon. It was so much fun watching it again. The giant iguana with the forked prehensile tongue is a riot, and I love the vultures, the pteranadons, the dinosaurs, the cave people and the shell people all living within a few short miles of one another. I was telling the kids that it is a modern classic (their raised eyebrows demonstrated their skepticism), and I asked them if they could guess why I have such a fondness for it. The Younger Son, eyebrow still raised, said, "The plot?" I love my family. I explained that that was indeed part of it, but I also have an appreciation for the character development and the intensive archaeological and historical research that went into making the movie the picture of accuracy.

But, really, it is dear to my heart.

It is a Hammer film directed by Don Chaffey, has special effects by Ray Harryhausen and stars Raquel Welch as pictured above (compliments of Wikipedia) in her fur bikini.


TCM has clips from the film.

1/4/2009: Ivanlandia loves Nupondi. And has pictures. I'm glad to see some folks out there don't prefer the blond, even if the blond is Raquel Welch.

Trinity Sunday

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14 KJV)

Today is Trinity Sunday, a celebration of the triune God -one God in three persons- and is the only Sunday of the Christian Year devoted to a doctrine of the Church. Traditionally the Athanasian Creed is recited during worship on this day:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic Faith is this:
That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible,and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord.
And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord,
So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, here be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God;
One altogether, not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

I remember the following hymn well from my childhood:

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

The sheet music for the hymn can be printed here.

The picture above is a depiction of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy gl ory above the heavens.

2Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ghost in the Shell

The Younger Son and I have been familiarizing ourselves with anime, and tonight we watched Ghost in the Shell. It wasn't at all what we had expected although neither of us knew what to expect, knowing nothing about the movie except that it appeared on some of the lists we've seen of recommended anime DVDs.


Moria reviews it here. AnimeWorld has a review that says,
Though Ghost in the Shell is a departure from the Masamune Shirow story on which it is based, director Mamoru Oshii has constructed a reserved, philosophical movie examining the meaning of the mind and the effects of technology on the soul. It lays out it's intricate political plot on a dark, subdued canvas that implies as much as it explains outright, in a world populated by harsh characters questioning their humanity. Undeniably stunning visuals, with fluid animation and incredibly detailed art, coupled with an abstract but impressive soundtrack round out the picture.

AnimeNewNetwork says, "It exists on the elite plane of modern anime masterpieces, and for this reason alone, it should be watched."

CyberpunkReview discusses the philosophical aspects of the story, commenting that the film "still provides anime’s the best examination in the questioning humanity. GITS is dominated by an ongoing discussion of what it means to be human and really, what it means to be alive."

Too Many Projects Film Club has a post discussing it.

We liked it, but I don't know that I liked it enough to shell out what it would take to collect all the DVDs in this franchise.

update: We found a boxed set of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex used for a reasonable price, bought it and gradually watched all the episodes. I can't find the blog post I wrote when we finished them, so I thought I'd just make note of it here.

We enjoyed these.

Locus Online
Anime News Network

Lloyd Alexander

Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of award-winning author Lloyd Alexander. There is more information at NNDB, the Washington Post obit and The Scoop.

The NYTimes obit has this quote:

“In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar,” he said in his Newbery acceptance speech in 1969. “And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.”

"A Visit with Lloyd Alexander" is at youtube in 3 parts here, here and here. It's a delight to see and hear him. In the videos he talks about his life, shows us his harp and some of his awards, sits at his writing table and shows us the room where he works, he talks about his writing process and much more. These videos really are a joy to watch.

SFSite has links to their reviews of his books. The Black Cauldron is a Disney film based on his Prydain books. Facebook has a group devoted to his memory and the ongoing appreciation of his work. has a 2 1/2 minute audio obituary that was on All Things Considered.

Bug Report


Friday, May 16, 2008

Indiana Jones Blogathon

Today begins the Indiana Jones Blog-a-thon being hosted May 16th - May 23rd by Cerebral Mastication. The contributions to the celebration are being archived here.

We devoted our evening to a viewing of the first in the series: Raiders of the Lost Ark. We watched it back in August when The Younger Son saw it for the first time, and tonight The Daughter had her first experience of it. She had seen the other 2, so I'm not sure how she managed to miss this most worthy one, but there ya go.

I was sharing with The Offspring how much I enjoy Karen Allen in this film, how much I missed her in the next 2 and how much I look forward to the 4th installment solely because she appears in it. I've also seen Karen Allen in Animal House and Starman (with Jeff Bridges -we recently saw him in Iron Man). When I said I was disappointed she had not been cast in the other Indiana Jones movies the kids said that she wouldn't have been a good fit in them. But that's my point exactly! The other movies would have been completely different with her in them and that -especially in the case of installment #2- would have been a Good Thing.

Bob Costas interviewed her in 1991. Part 1 of 3 has spoilers for Starman:

Part 2
Part 3

We have gotten a lot of mileage out of the government warehouse scene, but really we know where the Ark of the Covenant is: Ethiopia. At least that's what the people say who have charge of the Ark in Ethiopia.

5/26/2008: has an interview with Karen Allen, looking at her in a whole new light.

Saint Brendan the Navigator

Today is the feast day of Saint Brendan the Navigator, who died around the year 577. I first heard of him when I heard of Tim Severin's re-enactment of Brendan's Voyage and the book he wrote telling the tale. The story of the original voyage is online here. More about St. Brendan: Patron Saints Index (he is the patron saint of whales) and the Catholic Encyclopedia.

This is an animated short film telling the story of Brendon's life:

Here's a folk song celebrating the voyage:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Schultze Gets the Blues

The Elder Son rented Schultze Gets the Blues from Blockbuster, and we watched it tonight. The Daughter didn't care for it and left not long after it started, but The Sons and I enjoyed it. Roger Ebert seems to like it. The New York Times review opens with this:
"Schultze Gets the Blues" rediscovers the world through the astonished eyes of a retired German salt miner on a musical pilgrimage to the United States. As the title character (Horst Krause) ambles around the Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana bayou country, the screen drinks in the sultry, humid atmosphere. Puttering on the local waterways in a battered blue motorboat, using his few words of broken English to communicate, Schultze enjoys a late-life liberation that the movie pushes to the brink of sentimentality.

Beer-bellied and taciturn, he is not the kind of tourist who takes aim at a strange location with a guidebook, camera and language tapes in hand. He is more like a benign visitor from another galaxy who has simply dropped out of the sky.

trailer, but the trailer doesn't do it justice:

Old Nuns Fencing

Click here to see actual photos of nuns on walkers waving rapiers. More photos here and here.

The photo is from Michael Heilemann's Flickr page.

Len Lye

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1980 of Len Lye. I discovered this artist when I participated in the Short Film Blogathon. has an article on Len Lye.

There is an overview of his film work at Senses of Cinema, which ends with this:
A cultural outsider with the determination, intuition and insight to move within several artistic and industrial circles simultaneously, Lye's films opened up space for an art of documentary and, alternately, the possibility of an accessible avant-garde. By inventing new ways of making films without a camera, expert knowledge or extensive equipment, he initiated a field of artisanal, self-sufficient screen practice that continues to grow and thrive. Importantly, his innovative modernist films reveal that experimental cinema can be a fun, ecstatic and pleasurable experience, self-rendering a cinema of limited means that is no less valuable.

Senses of Cinema also has an article on a talk Lye gave called The Absolute Truth of the Happiness Acid:
Happiness was important for Lye – he was essentially a happy person, and he worried that personal and international problems prevented others from sharing his attitude. When he developed his political/philosophical concept of 'Individual Happiness Now' in 1941 at the height of the war, he was hopeful that he could share 'the best in human experience' with others.

ScreenOnline has a short bio and wonderful short studies of individual films. The New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre has numerous resources, including stills from his films, written works -both prose and poetry, and links. Art New Zealand has a series of articles here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here and a print interview here.

Lye also created kinetic sculptures and other works of art, some of which are pictured at The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which "is home to the archives and studio collection of the Len Lye Foundation". Here is a photo of the Wind Wand taken from Get Down's Flickr page:

This is an excerpt from a documentary:

It includes Len Lye discussing and demonstrating his kinetic scultures.

I found some of his films available online.

Tusalava (1929):

A Colour Box (1935):

Rainbow Dance (1936):

Trade Tatoo (1937):

Colour Flight (1937):

N or NW (1938):

Swinging the Lambeth Walk (1940):

Rhythm (1957):

Free Radicals (1958):

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Endorses Obama

Everybody's been wondering, and now we know:

Former Democratic White House candidate John Edwards will formally endorse party front-runner Barack Obama on Wednesday, an Obama campaign source told AFP.

Former presidential candidate John Edwards will endorse Barack Obama's Democratic White House bid on Wednesday, a campaign spokeswoman said, giving a big boost to the Illinois senator in his effort to rally the party around his candidacy.

Edwards is scheduled to endorse Obama at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this evening. The move is a blow to New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who, along with Obama, had sought an endorsement from Edwards.

Wednesday's endorsement could help Obama reach out to white blue-collar voters, a demographic that Obama has failed to capture, most notably in the recent Pennsylvania and West Virginia primaries.

Edwards had campaigned on the message that he was standing up for the little guy, the people who are not traditionally given a voice in Washington, and that he would do more to fight special interests.

The Nation:
Edwards may have dropped out of the presidential race in the dead of winter. But he will be in the fight by high summer. And come next January, if there is an Obama administration, John Edwards will be in the thick of it.
Edwards' support might at least tone down the level of speculation about Obama's strength or weakness with the white working-class voters who were Edwards' base in this race.

and Reuters reports the Steelworkers Union follows suit. They had endorsed Edwards and are now following Edwards' endorsement.


SF Religion

I know that truth is stranger than fiction, but sometimes I think truth is fiction. Or maybe I should say that fiction is truth. I loved this story from ReligionNewsBlog:

HOLYHEAD, Wales: A man who dressed up as Darth Vader, wearing a garbage bag for a cape, and assaulted the founders of a group calling itself the Jedi church was given a suspended sentence Tuesday.

The man acting as Darth Vader obviously doesn't know about Vader's redemption. He is not doomed to remain in the Dark, no. Saved he is.

As I consider, though, I'm wondering about seeking ordination in the Jedi Church. Apparently ordination is an easy EUR 15. I wonder where you get training in dealing with attacks from The Dark Side....

Henry Rider Haggard

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1925 of sff/adventure novelist H. Rider Haggard. I've read just a few of his books -King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain and She, having read these 3 back in high school- and have seen a couple of film adaptations -the 1937 King Solomon's Mines and the 1935 She. His works and at least one of the films are available online.

His Allan Quatermain character makes an appearance in the modern movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Here's King Solomon's Mine:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Julian of Norwich

Today is the feast day of the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich, who died in about the year 1416. There is information about her at this Saints Index, the Luminarium, Umilta's site and the Catholic Encyclopedia. The Episcopalians have lectionary resources but celebrate her feast day on May 8 (see here also) along with the Lutherans. The Episcopal Church has a religious order named for her. There is a shrine in Norwich. Her writings are readily available both in hard copy and online at the Luminarium and at CCEL and other sites.

from Showings (the Classics of Western Spirituality series edition):

And so I saw that God rejoices that he is our Father, and God rejoices that he is our Mother, and God rejoices that he is our true spouse, and that our soul is his beloved wife. (p. 279)

I saw and understood that the high might of the Trinity is our Father, and the deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, and the great love of the Trinity is our Lord; and all these we have in nature and in our substantial creation. (p. 294)

For prayer is a right understanding of that fulness of joy which is to come, with true longing and trust. The savouring or seeing of our bliss, to which we are ordained, by nature makes us to long; true understanding and love, with a sweet recollection in our saviour, by grace makes us to trust. And in these two operations our Lord constantly regards us, for this is our duty, and his goodness cannot assign any less to us than it is our obligation to perform And when we do it, still it will seem to us that is is nothing. And this is true. But let us do what we can, and meekly ask mercy and grace, and everything which is lacking is us we shall find in him. And this is what he means when he says: I am the foundation of your beseeching.

And so in these blessed words with the revelation I saw a complete overcoming of all our weakness and all our doubting fears. (pp. 252-253)