Saturday, May 31, 2008

On Faramir and Eowyn

Tolkien wrote this scrap to a now-unknown reader of Lord of the Rings, and I found it in his letter anthology (ed. by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien), pg 324. I liked it and thought you my loyal readers might find it of interest also.

"Criticism of the speed of the relationship or 'love' of Faramir and Eowyn. In my experience feelings and decisions ripen very quickly (as measured by mere 'clock-time', which is actually not justly applicable) in periods of great stress, and especially under the expectation of imminent death. And I do not think that persons of high estate and breeding need all the petty fencing and approaches in matters of 'love'. This tale does not deal with a period of 'Courtly Love' and its pretences; but with a culture more primitive (sc. less corrupt) and nobler."


I don't know if y'all have found this to be true also, but somehow all the ballyhoo about Narnia makes me wish to go and read about Middle-Earth, and when Tolkien was all the rage, I preferred to visit quietly with Lewis. It must be my homeschoolerish side coming out: if everyone else is doing it, there must be something the matter....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Appointment at Tooth-Hurty

Inspired by my sister, a while back I started making an office comic. This is one of my favorites. :-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breakpoint's summer reading list

Breakpoint has come out with its summer reading list. I'm rather pleased, because several of my blog-comment recommendations made it on there. :-)

My next priority, which isn't on that list: Alexander McCall Smith, whom I hear is Scottish. What are y'all going to read?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quote of the day

"You've got to see this: I was going to show Dr. M-. It'll make him laugh. I'm a teacher, and my dog ate my biteguard." --Patient

She showed me the remains. The dog certainly did eat her biteguard.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quote of the day

"Nietzsche was not what you'd call snuggly." --Jonathan

"I'm with Aristotle on that one, though: a person who is not snuggly is either a beast or a god." --Jonathan, again

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indy returns

The good doctor very kindly gave me permission to attend the first showing of Indiana Jones today (what's with me and first showings?), and it was fun. I went with the Baers and Mom and Mrs. Finnegan, and Rachel and I shrieked and held onto each other at all the scary bits while Ethan looked at us tolerantly. Caspian was a much better movie, but Indy was fun.

[Caution: spoilers ahead.]

This Indiana Jones wasn't so much archaeological and political adventures, exactly, as a sort of action version of Napoleon Dynamite, with a Soviet Galadriel in an Egyptian bob chasing Our Hero and his messy personal life through a nuclear blast, some car and motorcycle chases, the Red Scare, and the Cold War, and ending up with aliens building the Mayan pyramids. It was fun, but not precisely a Plot on the caliber of, say, hunting the Holy Grail.

Cate Blanchett, Villainess Extraordinaire, amused me. It's my problem, I know, because I don't exactly think of her as Cate Blanchett so much as "Cate Blanchett Who Wasn't A Very Good Galadriel." So when she turns up as a commanding officer in the KGB--with the aforementioned dark Egyptian-style haircut and a hideous gray flightsuit and a sword and a pistol--it's just hard to take her seriously. But she enjoyed herself, and we had some great swordfights on two moving vehicles. Also she came to a bad end, as well she ought, so justice (or something) was served.

The absolute best part of the movie had to be the return of Marion Ravenwood, whom Indiana (as you may remember) loved in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They got Karen Allen to play her again.* The actress had aged right along with Harrison Ford, and it was so--nice. It added a touch of "aww!" to their love affair or whatever it was, that it was them, and not some chit of a girl. Marion didn't look like her old self at all until she smiled, but then there was no mistaking. She also kept her sense of adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I didn't really care for the giant red ants; the scorpions; the creepy natives who hang out in cemeteries for no apparent reason and try to kill Our Hero; the extravagant collection of partially-decayed corpses; the miles of ill-lit tunnels out of which something was sure to jump; the aliens (aliens?? I ask you!); the psychic nonsense that was foggier than midichlorians; or the unimaginative Hollywood-politics attempt to make Americans look dumb by having the CIA suspect Indy as a communist. That plot thread was never resolved, by the way.

I kind of liked the wedding, the Mayan glyphs, the chases, the character interaction, the romance, Indy's take on school, the duck's wild ride to the river, the swordfights, the architecture, the snake moment, and the way that every question can be solved by a sufficiently educated and brave individual and his friends. It was highly entertaining.

But about the plot. There's a lot to be said for pacing yourself and including transitions. I'm all about keeping the action going, but when there's so much action you aren't sure what continent you're on--well, it might have been better to have calmed down a bit. And I think cliffhangers lose their potency when they're bunged together anyhow like socks in a suitcase. Also the plot was more an excuse to multiply really nasty skeletons, large amounts of water, nifty stone machines, and gunfire, than a story to be told. But action was the point, really.

Best quote: "Das vedanya, doktor Jones!" --Villainness, about to knock Indy off a cliff.
Worst quote: "I have a bad feeling about this." --Indy, having a Han Solo moment.

The Indiana Jones series demonstrates the breakdown of your standard humanist worldview rather well, I think. Lucas really, really wants to take us beyond the ordinary. In the first three movies, he did it by going after religious artifacts. This is all well and good if religion is true. BUT. For the Grail to mean anything, there has to be Jesus: after all, it's the cup He used at the Last Supper and the cup that collected His blood at the cross. No Jesus; no Grail. So Lucas, since he doesn't really want to deal with the true God, made an excursion to Asian deities in Temple of Doom. But even then, for the gods to work as a plot device, there have got to be gods: or at least the possibility of them.

Humanism doesn't like gods. Humanism likes this world, and for every force to be understandable and conquerable by man (especially Our Hero). So Lucas is scrabbling around, and having exiled the gods from this world, he looks to space aliens and mystic psychic forces.

Rather sad, really. But then, so is the SETI project. "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind..."

So there you have it. It was fun with some unpleasant bits, and overall Caspian was a much better movie. But you might enjoy Indy. I did.

*I just discovered on IMDB that Karen Allen shares my birthday: October 5. Cool!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prince Caspian

A bunch of us went to see Prince Caspian last Friday; in fact, our lot was nearly the entire audience for the 12:30 showing. It was great. :-) I sat with Rebecca and her sisters and Amelia.

I thought the movie itself was mixed. I liked it, but it's got nothing like the worldview or depth or charm of the book. But I'll buy it when it comes out, because it's still one of the best fantasy movies I've seen.

It didn't understand Aslan, heroism, manliness, womanliness, kingship, chivalry, romance, solemnity, or what dryads and river-gods are doing in Narnia at all. (Which is awkward, seeing as those are major themes.) The less said about Susan the better, actually.

But Adamson is a skilled movie-maker. It was funny. Reepicheep had a great introduction: he got to single-paw-edly take out an entire Telmarine troop, and his voice was perfect, even though I had serious doubts about casting Izzard. And the CG! Reepicheep ran like a mouse! I've never seen a movie mouse that ran like a live one. My own mousies Bing and Merry would run like that if they had the great gift of being Talking Mice.

Aslan was better than in Wardrobe. The voice of Obi-Wan coming from Aslan still disturbs me, but he didn't have many lines, so that was all to the good really. And you could sort of see why Lucy loved him.

The way they played the Hag and Wer-Wolf was suitably creepy. But I never did get a proper look at the Wer-Wolf. He was always in deep shadow, and I wonder if they skimped on his costume. And then having Edmund be the one to demolish the White Witch was so appropriate, though they felt the need to let Caspian in his angst go much further toward black magic than in the book.

But the very best parts of the movie were the woods and the Telmarines. I would go to that forest. Immediately. Lucy's dream-scene, with the forest in golden light, was heartbreakingly lovely. And when you realized it was only a dream, it was more heartbreaking still: because in the book it was real.

They played the Telmarines as the descendants of Italian-Spanish brigands, and it so worked. The architecture, costumes, props, actors, accents, even the gardens, everything suited the Telmarines, both in beauty and cruelty. Doctor Cornelius' library felt like something out of an Italian Renaissance/New World castle, which was gorgeous--like I would expect from the Santa Fe Palace of the Governors, if it had been stone instead of adobe. The lordly conniving worked very well in that setting; but then, I think Adamson understands Telmarine scheming better than Narnian loyalty.

The jarring moment of getting a Spanish Caspian is when the young whatsit discovered Miraz killed his father. He went straight into Inigo Montoya mode. "You killed my father. Prepare to die!" Rebecca and I just rolled our eyes.

I was pleasantly surprised by--of all things--Queen Prunaprismia, Miraz's wife. She had a character, and a complex one at that, without being angsty. On the one hand, when she woke up to find her husband being menaced with a sword, she pulls out a bow and arrow. This strikes me as a perfectly reasonable and appropriate response, not Fiona-Xena-Warrior-Princess-Delusional at all (::cough, cough:: SUSAN). On the other hand, when she discovers said husband is a murderer and regicide to boot, she doesn't actually like it very much. She was great.

So there you have it. I liked it; it's not the best possible screen adaptation of Prince Caspian. Personally, I'm praying that in another generation or so, we'll get a director who can show the parts of the book that I loved: the kinds of goodness that moderns don't understand at all.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Great moments in teaching

We "do maps" in Sunday School. Yesterday's map included the Sahara, or, as one young man put it, the "Sharia dessert."

Yesterday's quote of the day

"Bug! Navy bug!" Mom
"Is there an army bug? Or a Marines bug?" Dad
"Nope, just a navy bug." Mom
"It's a navy of one." Me
"Maybe we should make navy bugs worth just one point." Dad
"No, I don't like that idea." Me
::returning to a previous topic:: "And we can call you Philly." Dad
"Whatever for?" Me
"You were born in the Philippines." Dad
"Oh, I thought you meant Philadelphia--" Me
"Yeah, me too, and she's only been there once." Mom
"No, no. But you know, that's where Bug-less MacArthur was. He never got any bug points." Dad
"But he always keeps trying. He shall return!" Me

For the horribly confused, we play the bug game all the time (just ask Megan K), and have an elaborate but straightforward scoring system. Your basic old VW bug is worth one point. New bugs are worth two points. Accessories add an additional point each, including redness, convertibility, a mask, or significant decoration such as ears and a tail. It's a beautiful thing. :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quote of the day

"I'm losing my socks. I hate it when my socks fall down into my boots, don't you?" Me

"Better to lose your socks than your mind. You can always get more socks." Lisa-here-at-work

Rain without and cinnamon rolls within

A rainy day- o great delight!
To wake and see a drizzly dawn
Then splash to work through puddles light
And know the land will put green on!

I love living in the desert: when it rains all day, people get really, really happy. :-)

We drank tea all morning instead of the usual coffee, and talked about England. Over lunch I ventured forth with a teal umbrella and coral raincoat for chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls. I was actually thinking fond thoughts about crumpets and buttered toast, like in The Great Mouse Detective, but who will turn down her nose at a good fresh cinnamon roll? I didn't think so.

Beautiful architecture

These are lovely. Wouldn't it be nice if Christians still built this well?

Hat tip: Brandywine Books.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The bracelet

Please indulge this fashion moment. It's not merely fashion: it also partakes of wild travel-adventure, and therefore might be entertaining.

Right. Today I have a charming outfit: a green knit-and-eyelet cami, of a the latest sixties-ish full cut; black high-heeled Mary Janes; khakis; and a loose black short-sleeved swing cardigan. That's a lot of solids, so I figured the outfit could do with sparkly green earrings and a chunky bronze bracelet to liven things up. All the teenager stores were selling these bracelets last summer when exotica was in, so I stocked up.

Amelia noted the bracelet this morning.

"Thank you! I thought this outfit could do with a nice pagan bracelet."

"It's not so much pagan as Celtic looking--especially with your ring and green shirt." She was referring to my Celtic engagement ring, which is very pretty and if you haven't seen it, I should be delighted to show it off next time I see you. :-)

"Ooh, cool! So it does!"

"Did you get it anywhere interesting?"

"Mm, not really. I think it came from a teenager store at the mall."

"You could pretend it came from the Philippines."

"Ooh, yes, from a street vendor." I like getting jewelry from street vendors in interesting places; not that I have, much.

"No, how dull. You must have gotten it from a political person."

"Probably so. I must have banged him on the head and absconded with it. Do political persons in the Philippines wear much jewelry?"

"Probably not. I expect the political person gave it to you to soothe your screaming. You were very loud and only gold would satisfy you!"

"That's true. I didn't do so much banging as screaming when I was in in the Philippines. I hear I did a lot of screaming. I was very small."

"Or maybe you got it from a tribal person," she suggested.

"Hmm. There are a lot of Muslim tribal people in the Philippines. Maybe it came from one of them--from a Muslim person who hopefully don't know I was the daughter of missionaries! If I was just an ordinary unbeliever they might let me get away with it, but if they knew we were missionaries it'd be all over."

"No, I don't like that theory. I'm sure it came from head-hunters."


"Yes, are there head-hunters in the Philippines?"

"If there aren't, there must have used to have been!"

And there you have it, folks. I got my bracelet from historical tribal head-hunters in the Philippines, when I was very small. :-)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The book meme

This one's been going around a while, but so far I've been able to escape being tagged. Is it cheating to just decide to do it anyway?

"The Rules:
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
(No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people."

From Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis:

'loquar cum Professore Dumbledore si forte lex illa primanorum flecti possit. Pro deum fidem! turma meliore nobis obus est quam proximo anno.'

I think that's Snape talking, but it's a little hard to tell. Since I did it untaggedly, I hereby tag anyone who feels like it. Please comment and let me know.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Olwen has quite recovered from her run-in with the magician or old age or Entropy, whichever it was; a battery transplant cured her ailments, and she's been her amiable self ever since.

However, ::deep sigh:: my computer Chrysophylax (the silver-loving Dragon of Turion) has been exhibiting signs of bewitchment. I tried to wake him up Sunday morning to do Sunday school, and he went into one of those endless loops. Daddy was able to joggle him into Safe Prompt Mode or some such, so I could do my word processing, but the network was completely off and Chrysophylax refused to acknowledge such mundane allies as CD drives or printers.

He did, however, work grudgingly with jump drives, so we were able to do a spot of memory-sharing and I made it to church all right.

I left him up all night, because I wasn't at all sure he'd ever awake again if I let him sleep, which perhaps explains his dragonish behavior today. Daddy got him into Last Good Configuration Mode, which was...not very good, actually. He's been temperamental. He burned one good CD backup and then started snarling error messages. Further, he won't let the kitchen computer burn backups of his data. You'd think I was trying to snitch his hoard or something.

I guess I am, come to think of it.

But it's my hoard, and he's supposed to be caretaker. Stewards are supposed to give their trust back to its owner...

I hope to coax him next with a really big jump drive.

Quote of the day

"At least nobody's been stabbed in relation to your wedding." Firinteinne

I was fussing about how similar wedding-planning and directressing are. The entertaining thing is, I actually found this quote encouraging. :-)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why Lilly didn't get her catnip yesterday

"Lilly found a patch of catnip yesterday," Mom said this morning. (The cat was lounging in a sunbeam, occasionally rubbing me with her head or playing tailsies.)


"But she didn't get to enjoy it. Just as she'd discovered it and sniffed it thoroughly and was just settling in, a harududu came roaring along!"

Lilly looked heartbroken, remembering this sad event.

I asked, "But what's a harududu?"

"It's a--machine. Like cars. This one was a roto-tiller. Haven't you read Watership Down?"

"Oh. No, I haven't." Amelia and I had discussed last week about how I hadn't read Watership Down. It's a really good book, but dense, and if I was expecting something like Redwall, that would explain why I hadn't been able to get through it.

"So Lilly never got her catnip because of the harududu."

Lilly went up to the door and begged to be let out. "Please? Out?"

Dad put in at this point, "It was a ro-TO-till-er."

"The harududu was a ro-TO-till-er. That's right," Mom said.

And I added, "That's right. It doesn't drink alcohol. Only rotos." Because, you know, the original tee-totallers didn't drink alcohol--only tea. That's the story I've heard, anyway.

Mom let the cat out. She immediately sat outside the glass door and looked in. She didn't want back in; she just wanted to watch. She does this; but it's possible I caught her looking nervously over her shoulder at the harududu. It was curled up on a corner of the patio, mumbling in its sleep. "Really hard for breakfast... with just a hint of catnip..."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

On knowing God

The Christian radio station (the grown-up one, not the teenager one) this morning played a song I'd never heard before. I didn't catch the title or band, but it started out, "I tried to write a song/Three minutes long/But God wouldn't fit into the lines..."

Well, yes, but no.

I think that song (besides being self-aware and insipid) is a good illustration of a church fad at the moment, namely that you can't know God. I think it comes from a couple sources. Eastern Orthodoxy has a good solid handle on mystery, which is closely related to not knowing and being okay with it. But then there's the Emergent emphasis on not knowing, which draws heavily on Postmodern wafflings whether knowing and communication are even possible. (That's true for you. I can't tell you who God is!)

God wants to be known, actually. He set up a universe where it was possible. We can't know Him fully, but we can know Him truly. We can also talk about Him truly. What did God say about Job's "comforters"? "You have not spoken of me rightly as my servant Job has." Here God assumes that it's both possible and important to speak of Him rightly.

I love Postmodernism because it asks the right questions, but then I think you've got to let Christianity answer them. :-D

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Olwen gets enchanted

I named my good car Olwen because she came from the Summer Court; her paperwork said so. I picked "Olwen" rather than any other standard Arthurian name because Olwen, poor girl, seems to have been nearly the only lady in the entire legendarium who was neither wicked nor witchy. She merely had an unreasonable giant for a father and got rescued by some knight.

So I suppose, given her heritage as a Muggle among dangerous folk, it was only a matter of time before the dear girl ran afoul of someone or other. It happened tonight while Daddy and I were having a dinner date between work and the Awana awards ceremony.

I parked Olwen back behind El Parasol (the haven of taco goodness), and when I came back to her, all the little display needles went nuts and then died. Whoops.

Personally, my theory is that an evil magician came along and cursed her battery. Daddy did something mysterious to her innards with a red ice scraper and was able to make her regain consciousness in brief gasps, but we think the whole battery ought to be switched out. ("Bring me her heart in this jeweled box.") She spends tonight alone. Perhaps tomorrow we can awaken her.

The Lemon-Blueberry Muffins of Doom

On Friday night, I had Amelia and Rachel and Emily W. over for some serious Girl Time. The details shall remain secret--deeply and darkly secret--but the next morning involved Blueberry-Lemon Muffins from Victoria Magazine. They sounded so airy, so summery, and the pictures in the magazine backed that up, being as they were full of pretty blue-and-white dishes and yellow tulips.

I'd skimmed the recipe before they arrived to make sure I had the ingredients, but I hadn't actually read it through. This turned into one of the stranger muffin-making events of my admittedly muffin-short career.

To start with, they ought to have been called "Every Bowl in the House Muffins," or possibly "Complicated and Only for Very Special Occasion Muffins." Amelia made a crumb topping while Rachel--I'm not sure what all Rachel did, though I'm sure she made coffee to keep body and soul together while we baked, but I combined flour and things in one bowl, and sugar and egg in another, but before you could put the egg-ness in you had to separate the eggs because the recipe called for one whole and then two yolks. Then, to the sugar and egg you added lemon zest, which Amelia dutifully zested and juiced. Then I had to thaw the blueberries in the microwave. The recipe wanted me to individually gently squish each berry and drain the excess juices off, but I decided whole blueberries would be just fine, thank-you-very-much.

With great relief, I finally got the muffins into the oven. Mom said, "Didn't you want to put the crumb topping on top?" Oh! Why yes, I did. So I took the muffins out of the oven, crumbed them, and put them back in.

There they baked half an hour and cooled another fifteen minutes. They were really good; but we would have starved before they were ready if not for the coffee, fruit parfaits, and baby omelettes made with the leftover egg whites. It was an amazing breakfast, actually. :-)

Today I brought the remaining Lemon-Blueberry Muffins to work. They are excellent with gooseberry jam.