Saturday, November 12, 2011

creating a history of violence

Overturning a similar decision in Indianapolis, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner noted: "Violence has always been and remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low. It engages the interest of children from an early age, as anyone familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault are aware." Posner adds, "To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

[movie review] Lock Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels

After my friend @ AnatomyofP confirmed that she liked Jason Stratham, I gave it a 2nd try. Okay, he's good; maybe not the most underrated, but this was a far more enjoyable movie. I'm not really sure if it was supposed to be a light farce, somewhat more serious than Shoot 'Em Up, but I liked the 2/3 of it I saw. Procrastination overtook me, and I decided that finishing my homework was more important. However, I've got to do laundry tonight, so I think I'll watch The Mummy and finish this.

4 - Definitely see it on video.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Greatest at what, exactly?

I'm just SO sick of people older than I am going on and on AND ON AND ON about "The Greatest Generation". No offense meant to the actual members thereof, but Who The Fuck Cares?

These are the same people who piss & moan that my generation Does Not Love Our Country; that We Don't Appreciate What They've Given Us, etc. etc. etc.

Why should we bother to try to live up to your pathetic opinion of us? What do you actually expect a group of people to achieve who are told over and over that they're mediocre?

It's not as if we have a war to fight to keep up with them.
... oh, wait ...
It's not as if we have a war to fight that anyone actually approves of
... oh, wait ...
well, the THREE or FOUR goddamn wars that the "Greatest Generation's" Children got us into ('cause we sure as shit didn't get ourselves into them) are 3rd page below the fold news. We don't even have the courtesy of a daily body count.

I sit back and watch the Greatest Generation's Children, a.k.a. Baby Boomers, piss away my country's everything: economy, environment, international good-will, domestic integrity, etc. by looking at their parents' dreams and deluding themselves into thinking they deserved to have it all.

Expect life to get better? Who the fuck actually thinks that the Baby Boomers are going to leave the rest of us a pot to piss in? I don't. No one else I know does, either. And, if this is only just occurring to y'all, then it's because you haven't been stuck with some damn X to your name because the Baby Boomers didn't want to admit there was a future that didn't include their self-centered existence.

Friday, November 4, 2011

To choose or not to choose...

Refusing to chose is a choice.

A group in Austria has published seven recommended changes to how the Catholic Church should function. I like the list. Their website has a guest book. Seeking some tool of procrastination, I wrote something there rather than here. Efficiency being holy, I'm writing here, too. It took a while, since I wrote it in German. One point I made, however, is that over the past 2,000 years the Church has changed; yet we still hold ourselves to be "one holy, catholic, and apostolic church". Of course these words come from the Nicean Creed, which any long-term Catholic knows. However, at this point, since I certainly don't know the Creed -or any other part of the Mass in German other than the offering of Peace - and wished to use that wording in writing to a bunch of German-speaking priests, I sought the text auf deutsch on that wonder of wonders, Wikipedia.

My education for the day: The American Catholic Church uses the Nicean Creed accepted in 381; the German Catholic Church uses the original version from 325. I didn't realize there was more than one. I like ours better. I'm actually quite surprised at how very close the current version is to the one from more than 1700 years ago.
The German ends with We believe in the Holy Spirit [boooooring], with nothing about Her role in our faith.
Ours ends with We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, with the Father and Son She is worshipped and glorified, She has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. [perhaps long-winded, but at least comprehensive in highlighting many of the differences with the evangelical/pentacostal sects]

As much as I approve of the social justice policies of the US Council of Catholic Bishops, they fall prey to the same limited vision as their fellows in the Vatican. The USCCB is changing the official text for the Celebration of the Eucharist (ie., Mass). I'm torn between thinking change is ok, after all, that's what I want the church to do and thinking "this sounds stupid and has no apparent purpose other than being closer to the old-fashioned version pre-Vatican 2 text". Here we go, back to mea maxima culpa. The new Gloria sucks. Just sucks. The only exception to my disregard of the new text is that the end of the Nicean Creed uses the first person, "I believe / I confess / I look". I confess I like the fact it makes the profession my personal. I really want to know who voted against the changes (173-29).

So, how badly do I think it sucks? How much is the change going to influence my decision to attend Mass? Will I go to the physical building, leave Mr. Gopher with the Jr. Gophers in our regular pew and go read a book in the social hall? Or sit there in silence? Yes, I'm emotionally attached to the current version. I've used it for the past 45 years. I have sympathy for the people who were confronted with the changes from the 2nd Vatican Council. But those changes were made to keep people in the church and to involve The People in the Mass.

What do these new changes provide?
a) A power trip for the Bishops to remind us of who has the power?

b) A sincere belief that the changes from Vatican 2 were detrimental to the pious and devout expression of our fidelity to the dictates of Jesus to achieve the Salvation promised by the Messiah?

c) Stupidity?

d) All of the Above?

Would I stop going to church because of these impending changes? I suppose it says something about my devotion to the holy Church of Rome that my answer is: hmmmm... I'm not sure.

Does the form of the Mass have such a big impact on enjoying it? Should enjoyment be a criteria for going to Mass? The annoyingly conservative parishes use the same words we do. It is, in part, what makes the church universal.

I go to Mass and belong to a Catholic parish when my adherence to the Church's teachings is at times tenuous. Why? The same reason I belong to the Green Party: no one has it all right. I'll pick the one that has the greatest proportion of what I think is right. The willingness of local parishes to pursue good works tips the scales. Does that make the Church a social organization? At times I think people look more at what their parish is doing, and consider a generic "Christianity requires us to do Good Works, I'm doing good, therefore I'm fulfilling my requirement as a Christian" to be the only justification for belonging to a specific denomination.

Yes, I realize being a member of a religious group is voluntary and if a person doesn't like it, one can leave.

I was confirmed my last year at university, when I was 21. I was questioning my choice to continue to return to the Roman Catholic church. There was, after all, no pressure from anyone to belong to any church. One evening at Mass, I paid more attention to the check list presented by the Nicean Creed: one god, check - creator of all, check - Jesus son of god, check - messiah, check... and so on. At the end I decided that I could agree with all of them as the core items of faith. Everything else is optional. Question answered.

I know so many Catholics who don't want to stop being catholic, but are frustrated by (i.e., fed up beyond human comprehension with) the Church's apparent blatant refusal to accept that any of the social changes of the last, say, 500 years are beneficial. The moral choices before us today may be the same (abortion, extramarital sex, divorce), but the social context in which those choices are encountered is different than it was 1500 years ago. Or 500 years ago. Hell, it's different than it was 50 years ago. e.g., Did the church want to know that Mr.Gopher and I were living in consensually blissful sin for a few months before getting married? No. 50 years ago we would not have moved in together before the wedding, even if we were ignoring the prohibition against pre-marital sex. Did we want children before we said "I do"? No. Did it happen? No. Why not? The genetic lottery wasn't selling tickets back then.

Birth control is almost universally ignored by young (or middle-aged) (or older) (hell, maybe all) Catholics. I don't accept the theological conclusions about why it's wrong. If virginity and the absence of sperm does not present an insurmountable barrier to the Almighty, a little bit of fragile latex shouldn't either. Theological flippance aside, it boils down to a question of who gets to choose when I have children: me or God. Why shouldn't I? Because God knows best seems equally flippant. The Jr.Gophers both spent a few months lobbying for a little sister. I had to explain to them that we thought 2 was a nice number for us. Tubal ligation isn't really in their vocabulary yet.

The boys in Rome present a bureaucratic and human (not divine) obstruction to our method of worship. The church runs on theology; theology is simply the human conclusions about what they think god is/wants/means.

I know many who have changed their relationship with the church; we just accept that the bunch of old men over in Rome are ignorant of the beliefs that we, the Faithful, have while concurrently refusing to accept that we should participate in any meaningful way in developing the Church's theology. I simply cannot imagine anyone, not one single person in the Vatican actually giving a damn about my opinion about theology. I could tell them Jesus Christ, Son of God was the Messiah and they wouldn't care.

A 2nd Reformation is not out of the possibilities for the Church. I'm sure they didn't think the first one would happen. I'm sure they don't think another could. I'm not familiar with the popular sentiment in Luther's era (the 95 Theses were written in 1517), but where would you go, if you refuted the Church of Rome in the 16th Century? You'd likely be socially ostracized, rejected by your family and friends. Today? Few would care. No one would even know outside of your immediate circle of friends.

The Church has a choice: they can change their relationship with me (us), or they can stay the same without me.

I have a choice before me: change my relationship with God or change my relationship with the Church. I can no longer be faithful to both.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Finally get back here. Several things to write. Look at the front of blog. Think xkcd: I haven't read it in weeks. Half hour later ... uh ... it's time to go to bed. Try again tomorrow.

The comic strip is - however - really funny. Especially Password Strength
I think I need to change all of my passwords. Wow - it's a good thing they're all written down on a post-it note in my top desk drawer.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fat & Lazy? How 'bout Criminally Stupid

“After twelve years of being in power, you tend to get fat and lazy, and in some cases arrogant with respect to your positions,” said Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican party. “There is no doubt that we have had people who have gotten caught up in both illegal activities and immoral activities and none of that helps the party as a whole."

Never say the GoP are all inveterate idiots. Not even the ones from Michigan.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Left Buttons vs. Right Hooks

Movies are a window into other cultures when watching foreign films. Despite performing the same activity, it sometimes catches us unaware and leaves us thinking 'something's wrong'. Occasionally it's obvious: watching Irish films, the cars are on the wrong side of the road, which just feels wrong until you actively stop and think "oh, yeah, it's from [insert country that didn't bother to kick out the English before 1900]. There are other things which pop up, trigger "something just feels wrong".

Masterpiece Mystery: Sherlock is a modern re-take of Doyle. I highly recommend it - so much so that I'm planning to write a review of it. Holmes & Watson are going up an escalator. For you Americans, imagine a pair of escalators side by side. One up, one down. On which side is the Up escalator? On the right, right? Same as the side of the road we drive on. The scene on the English TV show, however, caught my attention by "something's wrong". The pair of escalators has the Up escalator on the left. It just looks wrong.

The Man with a Camera, a Russian film from 1929, is a fascinating look at ordinary life there. Short - a few seconds each - images of activities ranging from cars driving in town around horse-drawn carts, coal mining, factories, store fronts, and a woman waking up and rising from bed. The film returns to the woman several times, doing the various things one does, including getting dressed. With her back to the camera, she put on a bra. Again, my brain catches and my thumb hits 'pause'. The bra has a button/loop closure, and not a hook & eye. I've never actually seen a bra with that kind of closure. I'm left wondering if we used them here. I'm all the more amused because she's clasping it behind her back, rather than the hook-in-front-then-rotate method every women I know uses.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

[review] Masterpiece Mystery! : Sherlock

(Apparently the exclamation mark is required in the title.)

A Study in Scarlet is the first story/novella describing the meeting and beginning friendship between John Watson, a medical doctor invalided out of the British Army occupying Afghanistan, and Sherlock Holmes, an independent investigator and master of deductive logic. The stories are all written in the first person voice of Dr. Watson. I've read a few of the short stories and the longer Hound of the Baskervilles, and do not claim to be a fan of Doyle who goes off the deep end because of some bit of minutia. E.g., Holmes gets his nicotine from patches, since as he puts it, it's impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days.

A Study in Pink is the first episode of the 21st Century re-make. Not being a rabid fan, I can't tell you if the other 2 are directly based upon Doyle's works. A comment, though: I read Study in Scarlet after watching the show, wondering how this back-story of Watson matched up to Doyle, or if it was just a dramatic license to make it appeal to a 'modern' audience. Oh, the irony of history re-written upon modern flesh.

The most remarkable two points are the script and Martin Freeman. The script is sharp, witty, fairly representative of the characters from the books, and fairly non-stop with the only pauses for a breath being the (unfortunately repetitive, but at least infrequent) cuts of Our Heroes in a London taxi en route to something.

Martin Freeman, aka Dr. John Watson, is absolutely stellar. Subtle is the only succinct adjective I can provide for Freeman: not too much, not to little, perfectly aligned with the script. Rarely am I so impressed with an actor's work at first view. Given this fact, I am perhaps doubly looking forward to The Hobbit. This Watson is a 40-ish ordinary man, nothing physically remarkable, with a strong sense of the value of human life and curiosity. I can't imagine Holmes keeping an inept companion, so seeing a competent and active participant in the investigation is pleasant; I wouldn't have been able to take a bumbling doctor. He is still writing their stories, only today it's in a blog rather than the magazines Doyle used.

Holmes is, as always, an excessively arrogant and obsessively objective man, though Cumberbatch is an unexpected choice for his age; Mr.Gopher & I both had an image of a more mature man. He pulls off an elegant Holmes, always well-tailored, and smooth, but physically and verbally, but I still think he should have looked older. Rather like DI Lestrade (Rupert Graves), who looks like a senior detective inspector for Scotland Yard. Well, he totally pulls of an arrogant SOB, too, who nevertheless grows to rely upon the participation of his friend. He comes across as the primary hero, which is how he's written by Doyle's doctor.

The adaptation of things for the modern life are amusing at times: texting is sort-of like telegrams. And, for mild humor, the initial episode finds Watson confronting modern assumptions of why two men are living together when initially meeting their landlady.

Watson is a far more approachable character, either in the books or this film, finding our sympathy for putting up with a pain-in-the-ass colleague, balancing Holmes' absolute objectivity with emotional perception. As Doyle's Holmes states, "You see, but you do not observe"; Watson could return "you observe, but you do not feel".

As I haven't read everything Doyle wrote, I don't know if episode 2 or 3 is from original material. The plots are interesting. Other characters are introduced to some degree. If you know in which story Holmes first runs into Moriarity, I would like to know.

My only significant complaint is one element of an otherwise perfectly fine filming style. I notice most often in made-for-TV shows an over-use of the "Hey, This Is Significant" shot. There's a fight in an apartment, the dining room table gets scratched by the villain's weapon, Watson comes home, notices the table is scratched, gets annoyed at the disregard for the furniture, meanwhile being ignorant of Holmes nearly getting decapitated. I really don't need a close-up of the weapon making the scratch. In a show which should appeal to an educated audience, the patronizing use of these shots is just annoying. Again, luckily they're infrequent - it's just extremely annoying.

Overall, they're wonderful. Carefully considered modernization, good cast, great script-writing. And since I could watch it on Netflix, great price.

Gopher Rating: Worth paying for.
hmmm. I don't have a rating scale for TV shows, so "See it on the big screen" isn't really an option. I'll have to come up with one. Everything boils down to money, though: either its worth paying for or it isn't; either it's worth an hour or two of your life or it isn't.

post script
Everyone in the world seems to want to make movie versions of Sir A.C. Doyle's master detective. Netflix isn't streaming the 1930s versions w/ Basil Rathbone, so I can't compare them, since I think I saw one of them on Channel 9's Saturday Afternoon B&W Matinee on LBI 25 years ago. The Downey/Law version that came out in 2009 looked like a souped-up action-adventure movie with the same names. Robert Downey is awesome when his game is on, but the preview left the impression of what would happen with Tony Stark playing Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps unfair, but the trailer is what's supposed to entice me. As I write this, I pause and search for a trailer for the TV show ... well, perhaps that wouldn't have enticed me, either.

by the way:
Who assigns idiots to making movie trailers? The worst EVER was for Terminator 4.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fruit salad

Neighborly Fruit Salad

2 C. mandarin orange slices, drained
1-1/2 C. crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 large tart apple, chopped
1 C. peaches, chopped
1 C. pears, chopped
1-1/2 C. diced celery
1-1/2 C. slivered blanched almonds
dried cherries
dried cranberries

Mix fruit, celery and almonds. Sprinkle dried fruit as garnish. Serve cold. Adjust proportions as desired.

The almonds and celery provide a pleasant crunch with the sweet fruit. Make sure the fruit is ripe and soft, otherwise use canned fruit to make sure the crunch isn't from the fruit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

bumper sticker of the month

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.

like many amusing/intriguing quotations, one can find multiple repetitions of it on-line, but not anything vaguely resembling a citation thereto.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

where am I?

Wow - I just realized the last post was 6 weeks ago.
It's not as if nothing has lit a fire under me in 2 months.
I've just been hiding out from my regular life.
I haven't been to Stammtisch often.
Many friends @ St. Albert's haven't been after Mass recently.
I don't know where I am myself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thou Art My All

O never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seemed my flame to qualify.
As easy might I from myself depart,
As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie.
That is my home of love; if I have ranged
Like him that travels I return again,
Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
So that myself bring water for my stain.
Never believe, though in my nature reigned
All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
That it could so preposterously be stained
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good —
For nothing this wide universe I call,
Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.

Sonnet 109, William Shakespeare

Monday, May 9, 2011

7 words

George Carlin’s 7 deadly words - transcript of his monologue. This is sort of wandering.

I tried to think of what they were, and could only come up with 3. I asked Mr.Gopher and he came up with the same 3. (definitely not allowed to hog the dictionary for Quiddler, honey!)
Fuck, Cunt, Shit, Piss, Motherfucker, Cocksucker and Tits.

The FCC stated that it would address the legality of broadcast language on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the context presented, use of the “F-Word” [fuck] or other words as highly offensive as the “F-Word” [fuck] may be both indecent and profane, if aired between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

and then there's: highly offensive vs. indecent vs. obscene vs. just-a-little-offensive??

FCC rule bout what is okay
#3. whether the material appears to pander or is used to titillate or shock. No single factor is determinative. The FCC weighs and balances these factors because each case presents its own mix of these, and possibly other, factors.

And they apparently think it’s okay for Fox-TV to have a bunch of sex fetishists running around dressed up in horse-bondage paraphernalia on a TV show at 7 p.m. ...??? What the hell else is that, if not intentional titillation (does that count as “tit”?) or shocking? I was pretty shocked. Admittedly, I was shocked because of the time of day and the fact it was on regular TV. After 10 p.m. would have surprised me that it was on regular TV, but it wouldn't have enraged me.

How many shows are there with a message “some content may be unacceptable to children” at 7 or 8 p.m. (because "local time" here = EST not CST) where there’s . Fine, if you need to put it there to make some righteous idiot turn off the TV to avoid seeing some woman’s cleavage = the one in front, ‘cause if you ever watch the beginning of CSI:Miami, you sure as hell have seen the one in the back with no warning notice. And that's not titillating? [well, I don't think it is, but I'm also not the target audience for them] Except, I've never seen that warning with sex, only with blood/guts/gore.

This came up with discussion about regulating cable more. Strange bedfellows, with some fearing any increase in the Fed's ability to regulate anything vaguely involving the 1st amendment on the same side as those arguing that "free market" forces means letting the customer pick which cable channels she wants, rather than be forced to buy bundled channels.

I would be very, very leery of any additional regulation given to the FCC over cable companies. They already bend & spread 'em to the wimpy wimpy wimpy whiners over those 7 words. Have you seen movies where the "offensive" language was cut/re-dubbed? It's like the Daily Show - any idiot with a 1/2 baked brain knows perfectly well what they're saying during those little bleeps. Watch Battlestar Galactica (the new one, obviously) - the F-word is 'frak'. I can't figure if it is to avoid some FCC/idiot problem [yes!] or if it is simply an effort to make something familiar yet different. Because it is patently obvious what the script writers mean.

Then Jr.Gopher#2 yesterday exclaimed "darn it!"
hmmm... I'm confronted by where to draw the line about what's acceptable abrupt language. Is Sheiße okay? 'Cause Mr.Gopher uses it, but doesn't like me to say shit. In our house, being in a foreign language doesn't excuse it from acceptability. However, what happens when a word isn't as offensive in German as it is in English?

Back to Carlin ... tits? That's banned?? Well, shit. What cocksucker thought that was obscene, but 'boobs' isn't? Does fucktard become a banned word? How about infixes? (As opposed to suffixes or prefixes, an infix is inserting the extra part into the middle of the word, e.g. holy fucking cow, whoopty-fucking-do, et fucking cetera).

I'll go back to science, and the Boltzmann distrifuckingbution.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

peace & quiet

I have a supremely enjoyable memory of sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan and watching the sun set. This was during the phase of "my life has just completely fallen apart". I was at a gathering of friends up north at some one's "summer cottage". [What a disingenuous euphemism: it was huge.] After a delightful dinner with so many of my closest friends, I simply wanted to be alone for a while. I took my weekend-sized glass of scotch and walked down to the end of the backyard, i.e., Lake Michigan. A pair of chaise lounges there sat far enough from the house to be encompassed with quiet. No one else was on the beach. Peace and quiet.

A while later, BirdMan came out, apparently with the same intention. We were both, actually, right in the middle of the exact same "my life has just fallen apart". He apologized for disrupting me, and asked if he could join me. Sure, I said.

He pulled the other chaise lounge over next to mine, and settled in with his own weekend-I'm-not-driving-anywhere glass of scotch. We sat for at least half an hour in the mutual quiet, holding hands.

It was so pleasant. The intimacy of simply being together with a dear friend. With no distractions: no traffic, no radio, no TV, no loud neighbors, no conversation, no children screaming, no expectations of good humor. A supremely peaceful moment.

I am looking for more opportunities to have this peace & quiet with Mr.Gopher. To simply be together. Maybe our next Date Night can be dinner and silence.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Parental Rejection

The Author posed the question about a person who was becoming more reclusive and socially/emotionally strange:

"...Where was the trusted person who could tell him it wasn’t a good idea, ..."

I would also ask:

Who benefited from his bad choices?
I wish I could recall which novel I read, but a central point was that a powerful figure is manipulated to the benefit of another via his bad choices.

Of course, if you don't trust anyone, it's hard to benefit from their loving/unloving advice.

Sometimes it's easier to not give advice. My older son is old enough to really resent some of my edicts (chocolate chex is the current issue). It would be soooo easy to just cave in & buy a box to get him off my case. He doesn't know enough about life to understand either my reasoning or understand the idea that he needs to trust someone else's reasoning. Many parents want to be loved by their children without realizing this is *not* synonymous with being liked by one's progeny. They cave in in order to be 'liked'.

I can easily see someone else with a weak personal security wanting to give Jackson good advice and fearing to do so, in fear of losing his good opinion. Which rejection, in an adult, easily transmits to losing personal contact.

Becoming a parent has drastically enlightened me into the idea of seeing God as a parental figure. Christianity (at least my flavor of it) teaches that God is all loving; that you cannot make God stop loving you; that Her love is always there. I struggle to recall this when I have to deal with my own children.

People find themselves in such a totally screwed up point in their lives that they cannot believe that God could still love them. They then refuse to ask for God's help, fearing an active rejection without realizing there won't be any. A real parent, admittedly, is far more likely to reject a child. Even if they weren't, the child could easily fear rejection so much that they never ask for help.

The same applies to adults. Perhaps Jackson realized how totally screwed up his life had become and feared the loss of public/friends approval, so he didn't change his path. It's better to screw up your life than to realize the decision you made to fix it actually resulted in losing your friends, even if your life is otherwise better for the change you made.

I can look at my parents (and spouse now), and realize that they may not always like my decisions or my choices. My parents probably care just as much about me loving them as they always did. Me being an adult doesn't change that (I hope). I will always desire my children's love. Consequently, I need to take the risk of them disliking me or even [esp. in adolescence] rejecting me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

[review] Green Zone

eliminate subtitles

It's not often that I am struck in the first 20 minutes of a movie by "I would have done it differently". Subtitles are a nice feature to communicate information while concurrently trying to provide the viewer with the "feel" of foreign-ness. And face it, dubbed movies look stupid.

Subtitles are not the only tool at a director's disposal, though.

The further through the movie, and given the movie's major Theme, the movie really should have just left out the subtitles altogether. Several scenes later on were wonderfully done to avoid dialogue all together. The opening should have done the same thing - provide a visual story which didn't require dialogue and then add the foreign language in without subtitles.

Generally, though, I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book of Mercy [review]

Psalm 33
You who question souls, and you to whom souls must answer, do not cut off the soul of my son on my account. Let the strength of his childhood lead him to you, and the joy of his body stand him upright in your eyes. May he discern my prayer for him, and to whom it is uttered, and in what shame. I received the living waters and I held them in a stagnant pool. I was taught but I did not teach. I was loved but I did not love. I weakened the name that spoke me, and I chased the light with my own understanding. Whisper in his ear. Direct him to a place of learning. Illuminate his child's belief in mightiness. Rescue him from those who want him with no soul, who have their channels in the bedrooms of the rich and poor, to draw the children into death.
Let him see me coming back. Allow us to bring forth our souls together to make a place for your name. If I am too late, redeem my yearning in his heart, bless him with a soul that remembers you, that he may uncover it with careful husbandry. They who wish to devour him have grown powerful on my idleness. They have a number for him, and a chain. Let him see them withered in the light of your name. Let him see their dead kingdom from the mountain of your word. Stand him up upon his soul, bless him with the truth of manhood.

Book of Mercy
, Leonard Cohen, Villard Books, NY 1984.
yes, that Cohen.

Written without a pause, without a break, without artistic & artificial separations one sees in the visual presentation of poetry, this pushes, his words driving in passion, giving you no opportunity to emphasize one thing over another.

These psalms absolutely must be read slowly. Cohen's music and lyrics are powerful, often presented in an extremely blunt style in his recorded music. (you gave me head/on the made bed) These poems are straightforward, direct, but not blunt. From an extremely talented user of the English language, each sentence should be considered carefully.

As one would imagine from the title, the majority revolve around Mercy, seeking or seeing God's mercy in the various aspects of Life. I wish I could include some of the others** which were poignantly moving for me, except you'd likely get bored.

The psalms in the Old Testament are poetry. Some are exquisite in pain (Ps. 22) or overwhelming in joy (Ps. 118) comforting in their traditional use (Ps. 23) or just nice (Ps. 150). I have a psalter (book of psalms) which is translated from Hebrew into modern poetry.* Here, Cohen has simply written his own. These are not renditions of biblical passages from the King of the Israelites or some other dead Jewish guy 2100 years ago; they are cries from a man today, which might not be in print in another couple millenia. Although if they were, they would cry out, appealing to man's soul and God's Mercy.

Gopher rating:
2 - definitely buy a copy, you'll read it more than once.

*I'm not at home, so I can't cite it.

** Why not? Copyright allows me to present material for purposes of criticism. So, from my lips to God's ears:
Psalm 40
Let me not pretend you are with me, when you are not with me. Let me close down, let the puppet fall amoug the strings, until, by your mercy, he rises as a man. Let him dare to call on you from the dust, when there is nothing but dust, and the coils of his defeat. Enter me again into the judgment, I who refuse to be judged. Enter me into the mercy, I who have forgotten mercy. Let me raise your kingdom to the beauty of your name. Who do you welcome me? asks the bitter heart. Why do you comfort me? asks the heart that is not broken enough. Let him lie among the strings until there is no hope for his daily strategy, until he cries, I am yours, I am your creature. Then the surface of the world is restored, then he can walk and build a will. Blessed are you whose blessings are discerned by those who know your name. The evil are seen clearly, and the good are beyond safety, and in the panic the whole world prays. Let us not be tested. Blessed are you who creates and destroys, who sits in judgment on numberless worlds, who judges the present with mercy.


Monday, May 2, 2011


We will feast when the rich become road kill.

bumper sticker of the month

Unions: the folks who brought you the weekend

Friday, March 18, 2011

more family photos

more photos from the Minnesota gophers:

A bit more recent - since the big blizzard in January through a couple weeks ago. Misplaced the camera for a while. I'm not sure, but I might bring it to the Tae Kwon Do next weekend for JrGopher#1's yellow belt test.


The hike en route to the falls:

Further on the hike - please note the fact that Jr.Gopher#2 could just sit on the snow without sitting down.

Playing ice hockey over @ the But-Palskis

Yes, we will show this to Jr.Gopher#2's girlfriends. He said he wanted to be a princess, and the neighbor girl assuredly had the accessories to do this. (Lord, don't get me going on the revolting Disney Princess obsession.)

MPR's modern station, 89.3, had their annual Rock the Cradle a couple weekends ago. It's a music splendor at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. All focused for children, I would assume about 10 and under. A kiddie disco, where the DJs were the radio station's DJs. One program was an Instrument Petting Zoo, where the kids could pick up and actually play different instruments. Violins, cellos, an electric piano, a drum set, a couple hand drums, electric guitar, and lots of different little percussion item. The boys both found the string instruments interesting and fun.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

holy cow ...

Tone of awe: oh, my god.

Parking lot of Cub Foods @ 60th & Nicollet.
Someone just told me there used to be a gas station there before the grocery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

[review] Careless in Red

Wow - I just realized I've never written a review for an Elizabeth George book. I own almost all of them and am eagerly awaiting the latest being available at the Mpls Library.

Which is which?

updated photo selection: okay if you are the one person who actually look at this often (Hi, mom), you'll be able to tell, since only one changed - I got a much better photo from Japan (thank you, Der Spiegel).

Tell me which one is Fukushima (Tokyo) and which is Chernobyl (Prypyat)?

Photograph #1

Photograph #2

A Ukrainian Liquidator, one of the first on site at Chrnobyl & surprisingly still alive, compliments the Japanese. "We wore normal clothes and a face respirator. As we went in to the reactor we were given an iodine preparation which was normally the first emergency aid..."

Today, 50 are remaining to control 3 reactors, hoping to keep them cooled. Or more, depending on which source. The Ministry of Health increased the acceptable exposure limit to "to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for American nuclear plant workers."

Despite the demands of occupational safety experts here to protect workers, I can't imagine the Dept. of Labor (i.e., OSHA) actually being capable of moving overnight to change an exposure limit. The cynic in me thinks this is, in part, because after-the-fact the safety professions would turn around and demand to have all of the other 30-year old limits changed, too.

I'm surprised the Green Party in the US isn't going more ballistic, given its absolutist platform on nuclear power. The party chair for Die Grüne [the German Green Party] was making this point in a rather restrained manner Sunday, anticipating the impending state elections in Baden-Württemburg. Given the party's platform on feminism, I suppose referring to her as the chairman would be gauche.

Interestingly in the German news, the Greens are confronted with 'warming their hearts' [ihre Seele wärmen] over the opportunity to renew one of their core beliefs coming to conflict with their desire to create a Black-Green coalition government, i.e. CDU/Green, which to the American bipolar condition sounds strange with the conservatives & tree-huggers. Admittedly, the German Conservatives are still in touch with reality, unlike ours.

#1 = Chernobyl
#2 = Fukushima

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Financial whining

I'm so sick of listening to complaining about cutting government spending. Let's back up and look at it again, folks. How to fix the country's budget/spending problem:

1. Figure out how much money is actually coming in
2. Make a list of everything that you want the government to pay for.
3. Make a list - it'll be reeeaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllly long - of every last damn dime spent by Uncle Sam. Do NOT make this list first. Ignore, completely and totally ignore what we're spending today when you make the list of what you actually want to pay for.
4. Start spending and stop when your balance sheet hits $0.

The financial wizard/con-men are trying to screw you by including point #3 above. This is completely irrelevant to the solution. Ignore today's reality when trying to create tomorrow's. Really. Seriously.

"Cutting Spending" is the modern mantra. It's bullshit. You don't want to pay for the state's maternal and child welfare (a.k.a. WIC) ... just don't put it on the We Want To Pay For It list. Cut everything!
Start from Zero. Not from the current budget.
What do you want? Can you pay for it? Figure out what you can afford. Everything else will be eliminated anyway, so stop arguing about whether or not to cut it.

Back up.

1. Decide whether or not you want to live with Capitalism. If you don't, please go away. If you do, please wake up and smell the coffee. You don't live in a capitalistic economy, if you live in the USA. I hate to break it to you, but all of you already live in a socialist state which has NOTHING to do with whether GW or Obama is in office.

2. Eliminate every last goddamned penny of federal subsidies. Take the resultant $1.6 Trillion* and cut the federal deficit by half.

Subsidies are economic engineering. A True and Pure Capitalist would refuse to take them. A real capitalist would ... well, actually she would take them. And any other damn thing the federal government threw her way.
Then she would start to rely on them.
Then she would demand them as her due.
Then she would claim they were her right as a business owner.
Then ... one day she might look in the mirror and realize that she's been sucking off the teat of the American Taxpayer and has committed Capitalistic Heresy and Apostasy.

If you want subsidies, that's fine. Just don't ask for them and then delude yourself into thinking you're a Capitalist.

As I listen in painful agony every weekday morning to 91.1 FM, I hear people of all parties saying they want to cut spending. And I never ever ever ever hear them say exactly what they want to cut.

The following need to be removed from any conservative (that is, the American ones) whining about social problems. None of this would be a problem if you just sucked it up and did what you're supposed to be doing according to the Word of God and Conservative Society:
  1. birth control: if you ain't married, you don't need it because you aren't having sex
  2. abortion: since the only way you'd get pregnant is if you're married, you can't need an abortion
  3. financial aid: if you can't afford to pay tuition, you need to get off your ass, get a job, and save up your money. You cannot sit back and expect me to pay for you to go to college.
  4. unemployment benefits: you'd have a job, if you just got off your ass and made a real effort
  5. unemployment benefits: if you'd saved your money like a responsible person, you wouldn't need to worry about a year of being without a job because your neighbors and fellow parishoners will be helping you like Good Folk Should
  6. job safety: if you just do your job properly, there wouldn't be any accidents.
  7. drug safety: if we just let Pharma alone, they'll be more than happy enough to let us know if there's a problem with their products
  8. food safety: if it isn't safe, don't buy it and the market will realign itself to reflect the customer demand.
Holy cow - think of how much money we could save by eliminating all of the government agencies or laws which regulate the above items?

This, plus cutting all subsidies should fix the Whole Financial Crisis and we could get back on with our lives.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nigeria v. France

So, unless I'm becoming even more chronologically illiterate ... the opening game of the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, hosted by the current World Cup holders, Germany, is between ... drum roll, please ... Nigeria and France in some city somewhere named Sinsheim.


oh, yeah ... later on that day, Germany will be playing Canada in Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

Sinsheim, fyi, according to FIFA "lies at the heart of the Kraichgau region".

... uhhh...

I probably know more German geography than the Average American -- terrifying, considering how limited my knowledge actually is -- and I have not only no idea where Kraichgau is, I've never even heard of it, either.

To put this statement in perspective, I can't actually tell you exactly where Mecklenberg-Vorpommern is ... but I do know it's a state, I can spell it, and I'm pretty sure it's in the former DDR somewhere in the vague vicinity of Berlin. Okay, so just about all of East Germany was in the vague vicinity of Berlin, so sue me. And, yes, I picked that state at random after thinking "hmm, which state sounds the coolest & do I know where it is?" I didn't look at a list of states, I already knew it was one. Really. Being inveterately curious, I of course had to go look. It's in the north-west corner of modern Germany, north of Brandenburg, which is the state surrounding but not including Berlin.

Further on, from FIFA, I read that it's in Baden-Württemberg and is 22 km. SE of Heidelberg.

At least, unlike most Americans, I know what a kilometer is.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cancer sucks

We got totally shitty news Saturday. The 6-year old son of some friends at church, whom we haven't unfortunately seen in a while, discovered he has cancer. Not some pansy-ass whimpy thing like leukemia. The name is 2" long and ends with -carcinoma. It's highly aggressive & highly malignant.

Something so rare in kids that the docs at the Mayo Clinic [just down the road from here] initially said, "that can't be right", go get another opinion. 4 opinions later ...

There's only 2 cases reported in the literature about kids. Which translates to "we're sort of clueless about what to do".

He started chemo over the weekend. A whirlwind saga of options on chemo, surgery, and lots of medical terminology.

They aren't telling him the extent of the extremely poor prognosis. It hadn't occurred to me that there would be a psych specialist for the parents. Managing the information flow to their child, to help him stay informed enough about what's being done to him without nuking his still-positive outlook.

I'm not sure if Jr.Gopher#1 remembers the boy - right after we started going to St. Albert's, there were four boys all the same age who really enjoyed playing together.

A friend of the family is in the home stretch dealing with pancreatic cancer. Did I mention cancer sucks? He's 78. As unhappy as I will be, and likely contemplating the age of my parents, it will not be a life cut tragically short. 6 years, though ...?

Explaining to Jr.#1 that Don is sick and probably won't live much longer seemed a beneficial situation. After all, he intellectually knows that old people die. I am assuming [?] that Don's death won't be emotionally traumatic. Raven the Cat dying will probably be more emotional.

We told the boys that Mr.Gopher's uncle died - but this was 2 years ago. We could have said any other stranger died, for all it mattered to them. They had never even heard of this man.

So, thankfully at least, their first exposure to Death will be the death of someone they actually know, and it won't be their grandparents. But this boy? Even if Michael doesn't remember him all that well, trying to explain that a 6-year old boy probably won't live through the Summer...? God. No wonder people want to be atheists.

I was the Lector yesterday at Mass, and read the Prayers of Intercession.
These are the prayers that include:
lector: "For the healing of the sick, we pray."
Response: "Lord hear our prayer"
I was sooooo close to simply adding the boy's name to the list of the sick and realized I didn't know if the parent would want me to ... it made me feel so sad to refrain from asking people to pray for him.

For the healing of Will Newll and the courage of his parent, we pray.
Lord, hear our prayers.

If anyone can, please say a prayer - or whatever intervention method you want - for Will Newell.

I'm usually one who cries at the drop of a hat. This ...? Mr.Gopher told me on Saturday night. It was this afternoon before it hit me. I'm sitting in the StPl library, trying to finish my thesis, and I can't stop crying and don't have any kleenex.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

photos - past 6 mo. or so

Good Afternoon, everyone!

So I've been slow on the uptake. Or at least up load. Photos from the past 6 months or so. From last Summer's vacation to Michigan to late autumn. I'll try to get the Christmas/New Years/Birthday photos. When the German School posts the pictures from last Friday's school performances, I'll post a link there, as well. Of course, if they have a video of the 1st Grade singing a ditty about boogers [ein Popel ein Popel ...] I'll link to that, too. I could tell which parents in the audience spoke German based upon where the laughter was.


We got some up-close and personal exposure to the birds at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing

One of Jr.Gopher#2 favorite stuffed animals is a llama; he finally got to see a real one in person.

Beale Gardens at Michigan State University

The hat was to hide my horrible self-inflicted hair-do. The ferret was just to make the boys laugh.

Here in Mpls, Fall 2010

Not 100% discernible, but the silver thing behind his head is a duct-taped mummified water fountain.

No, you really don't want to be giving him a license yet.

Near where the Minnehaha Falls flow into the Mississippi River

The Minnesota River flooded this year, a bit higher than usual. The submerged trail here is normally a mile from the river bank. To imagine the amount of water involved, consider that it is pretty flat out here. Someone mentioned the excess water flow in the millions of gallons. Too bad BP didn't schedule the gulf oil spill a bit earlier - this could have flushed it all away from the shore.

Halloween 2010

Lufthansa Flight 596 en route to Dusseldorf departing from Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport, we'll be flying with the plane named after Gladbeck. Yes there is one, and we've flown on it.

Jr.Gopher#2's rocket ship required registry with some nation. But he refused to put BRD or USA on it. I am glad, however, to have avoided hand cramps since he didn't want "Deutschland", either: the other side of the costume reads "Germany" with its flag.

Near Mississippi River, Autumn 2010


The Minnehaha Falls are somehow more impressive when they're frozen. I should find a Summer vs. Winter photo pair.

Walking w/ Papa

earlier section of trail

Computer Engineering & Game Design 101
Jr.Gopher#1 decided to build his own laptop, since I wouldn't let him play games on mine. This also required, of course, designing his own games to go with them. He insisted on the keyboard layout, since - as he informed me - he was perfectly well aware of the fact that B, and not S, comes after A.

Jr.Gopher#1 and I took in an ice hockey game: U of M vs. U of M. [The photo is Goldy the Gopher on the ice.] After the debacle of his emotional melt-down at the state soccer championship game, when we randomly picked the team geographically closest to S. Mpls to cheer for, "our team" lost 0-3, I convinced him we could cheer for both teams, since he was born in Michigan, and I am going to school a Minnesota. Luckily, U Minn beat U Mich 5-3. It was the first time I've seen someone get a 10 min. penalty, too. Double luckily, it didn't occur to him to ask why grown-ups who break into fist fights and hit each other with sticks only get a 2 min. time out, whereas he gets 6 min.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rammstein & Sesame St.

Krümmel Monster mit Ich Esse den Keks a la Rammstein
Cookie Monster with "I Eat the Cookies"

Winnie the Pooh - again, in German - Ich Will
was removed by youtube
I guess Disney didn't like being coopted by Rammstein. sigh ... it was really good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

oh, them!

Jr.Gopher#1 was speaking with his phys. ed. teacher last Friday. I caught part of the conversation:

PE teacher: ... you like Gopher Sports and ice hockey.

PE teacher: Who do you think is going to win the game this weekend?

Jr.G #1: huh?

PE teacher: The big game this weekend - who are you cheering for?

Jr.G #1: huh?

Me to teacher: No one in our family follows American football.

Jr.G #1: oh! football!

PE teacher holds out her hand with her nails painted green & yellow.

PE teacher: Whose colors are these?

Jr.G #1: Brazil

Monday, January 10, 2011


After hearing the news on MPR this a.m. about Rep. Giffords, my first thought was "god, I hope he wasn't Mexican".
How sad.

What's Your Rank?

What's your job score?

Ms. Healthy Gopher:
Occupational Safety: 89

Motion Picture Editor 19
Computer Programmer 18
not sure which would apply - maybe you count as 18.5

Mr. HT
Computer Programmer 18

Mr. Gopher
Electrical Engineer: 62

Dr.Nuke: Physicist 12
Heather: Attorney: 82
The Author: Author: 93

Of course, there's always top and bottom rank:
Mathematician: 1
Lumberjack: 200

Friday, January 7, 2011


Where did 2010 go?

Am I actually going to finish my taxes before April?

Am I actually going to finish the Christmas/New Year cards tonight & post them tomorrow a.m.?

Holy shit ... am I really going to be 45 in 4 days?

is Jr.Gopher#2 actually going to be 4?

Is the Lansing City Assessor's Office going to spontaneously implode due to the amount of financial b.s. exceeding critical density?