Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From My Quote Journal

But the law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be. Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation.

Sermon by Peter Chrysologus

From today's Office of Readings. Advent does inspire some lovely language. My journal is growing by leaps and bounds these days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

From My Quote Journal

For it is the slow, persistent efforts at union with the Source of Love that enables us to share love, and our ability to love others (or ourselves) is in direct proportion to the strength of our relationship with God.

~Father Joseph Lody

Merry Christmas, beloveds!

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering, Our Heroine Does Not Support World-Dominating Secret Terror Organizations

As a general rule, Our Heroine does not wade into the comboxes on political blogs. Political comboxes are like rough-n-ready frontier towns at the turn of the century: there is no law, and only the strong survive. And Our Heroine, while blessed with some heroic qualities (like perseverence in the face of a baking disaster), is not strong.

However, Ace of Spades had a review up of Quantum of Solace, and I wanted to see what the consensus was, because I liked it, (though with reservations) so I dived into the comments. And I can't wait to share one of my most favorite comments evah.

First: my reservations. Really, one reservation. The movie was too strong on realpolitik. I mean, I know that Haiti is mostly an impoverished hellhole, and I know that good governments sometimes get in bed with bad dudes to keep even worse dudes from making trouble, and I even know that spies can suffer from moral lassitude. But when I want a healthy dose of real-world spy drama, I'll read Graham Greene or something.

This is a Bond movie, people. Bond does not do Haiti (or Bolivia) to thwart petty tyrants and bring water to the sweaties and grubbies. No. Bond does Paris, Biarritz, Prague, etc. He plays high-stakes Baccarat against the agents of world-dominating secret terror organizations that want to nuke the moon, for pete's sake (I don't know why they want to nuke the moon. They just do. Ok? Deal with it!)

So, basically, I thought Bond was too constrained by "reality" in this film, but not in a good way.

The comments at Ace's were hilarious overall. And there was a debate about how corporations were portrayed. I didn't share in the opprobrium for QoS on this count, because the only corporation in it was really a world-dominating secret terror organization masquerading as a corporation -- and I didn't get the idea that you were being told that these are interchangeable entities.

However, I have been sensitive to this anti-corporatism in other movies where I didn't think it belonged like Iron Man (most recently).

So, since I've been getting kind of tired of this exact same trend, this totally frantic-sounding comment from someone named Cautiously Pessimistic made me horse-laugh. (and horse-laughing is not something to which I readily admit.)

Does anyone know of a movie where the eeevil corporation turns out to be an intentional force for good? I'm getting increasingly tired of every freakin' corporation being evil personified that wants children to die in the streets because their blood turns into gold or something. If anything, having a good corporation in a movie would be a plot twist without the twist, because everyone will be waiting for the CEO to take of his mask and say, "FOOLED YOU! I'M THE ANTICHRIST!", and be totally taken by surprise when it doesn't happen.
I would like to write this movie now, just to make him happy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our Heroine Requests a Word, Kind Sir.

I am going to institute a recurring feature on this blog in which Our Heroine 'fesses up to words she had to look up for meaning and/or pronunciation. I don't know what y'all will find more odd: the words Our Heroine doesn't know, or the places she finds them.

Today's word is axiomatic, which was a look-it-up for meaning word. And Merriam-Webster said this: axiomatic -- 1 : taken for granted : self-evident

I encountered the word at The Corner today and here's the specific sentence:
For Mayer, it is axiomatic that the aftermath of September 11, and what it revealed about the flaws in the American security apparatus that made the jihadist attack possible, did not necessitate any new framework for thinking about the protection of the United States from a new form of foreign aggression.
No judgements, people (and that means both the word and the outlet)!

The Devil You Know versus...Cake!

(ed. note: There is no cake at all in this post. Sorry) Y'all, I know I haven't written much that is original lately, and I apologize, I truly do. I have lots of things in my head that I'd like to get out to you, but I can't get myself to sit still and do it. Also, there is a big world of bloggers out there and they keep discovering interesting bits of news and writing about them in a more interesting fashion than I could, a pox upon them all!

This post is no exception. I don't know how many of you have read C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters (I know Dad has, as he is the first person I remember ever mentioning it to me.) but if you haven't, I highly recommend it. It is a short novel consisting entirely of letters of instruction written from a senior devil (the titular Screwtape) to his nephew, Wormwood, a junior devil who has been assigned to ensure the damnation of a young Englishman.

The letters are exceedingly clever, and the whole book is one of the best examples of pure, unadulterated irony in the English language. It's the best sort of irony -- not like current faux-hip irony (people too clever to be sincere about anything, except things too ridiculous to be sincere about) -- and it is also rather funny. It takes only an afternoon to read, and I highly recommend it on a rainy Sunday.

Anyhow, supposedly there is discussion about turning it into a movie. And, of course, in true Hollywood fashion, in doing so, of emptying it of all that makes it great.

From Strange Herring:

Peter Chattaway over at Filmchat reports that Walden Media is looking into the prospect of adapting C.S. Lewis’ classic Screwtape Letters into a screwball comedy in the vein of Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis’ Mr. Bean series.

Uh, please don’t. If for no other reason than the Mr. Bean films didn’t work. And they didn’t work because Mr. Bean is a short-form character, a sketch-comedy creation. He couldn’t sustain a full-length narrative arc. And the directors hired to helm the Bean films were no Jacques Tati, whose original vision and a deliberate stylistic innovation provided a unique context for his minimalist character, Mr. Hulot.

Screwtape is intended to be ironic, not farcical. A wacky devil trying to derail the spiritual journey of his subject at the behest of a Dr. Evil-type Satan will get tired REAL FAST — as well as deflect from the apologetic purposes to which Lewis put the device. (But I guess that’s a given in any mainstream, big-media adaptation.)

If you were going to cast Screwtape and Wormword, I know who I wouldn’t want: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy — none of the usual suspects. Rowan Atkinson might not be that bad a choice if he could leave Bean behind. (A young Dudley Moore would also have been a definite possibility — think the original Bedazzled, which might have had Screwtape in the back of its collective mind, but toned down a notch or two — less wackiness, more empathy. )

Jeff Daniels as the struggling Christian might be a nice choice, though.

We shall see … but I share Chattaway’s doubts about this enterprise, as well as the direction Walden Media seems to be going in.
Ah well, it can't be any more horrific than Brideshead Revisited! But seriously, you should read the book some sniffly day soon. You'll like it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Have Such a Soft Spot for Old Codgers

I like feisty old codgers anyways. But feistiness in defense of Our Lord? I tilt my parasol at you, good sir.

Would-be Host thief gets a little frontier justice in Florida.

Favorite line:

Police say two parishioners, ages 82 and 61, received minor injuries in the scuffle.

82 and still ready for a scrap.
Thanks to Dale Price

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Our Heroine Makes a Political Endorsement

H.P. Lovecraft virgins, you can learn all about Cthulhu here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our Heroine Admits She Has a Soft Spot for Circus Peanuts and Crazy Old Coots

Y’all. I have got serious things to read. I got sucked into another book club (memo to self: is there a book club, anywhere, that I have not, at one time, been a member of?). And, in a moment of enthusiasm brought on by calzones and two glasses of red wine, I consented to lead the next discussion of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair.

People, The End of the Affair is no lighthearted Wodehouse romp. It’s a short gray slog through “the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” If I’m going to lead my fellow book pumpkins through a discussion of this wee beastie, I had better get crackin’ on it and reread it, toute de suite.

Instead, I am consuming Georgette Heyer romances like circus peanuts. They are delicious confections and I can’t stop. You know what delights me? The deliberately slang-y grammar of the British aristocracy during the Regency period. I love it. Love it! I should like very much to be so awesome that that I could negligently construct sentences such as this,
“Marry her? Eh? What does the boy want to marry her for?” asked his lordship, puzzled. “It don’t seem sense to me. First the girl’s off with him, then she has a fancy for young Comyn – [to Comyn] oh, are you there, m’boy? Well, it makes no odds – and now I’ll be pinked if she hasn’t gone off again, though whom she’s gone with this time is beyond me.”

Is that just the most awesomely silly sentence? His lordship is Lord Rupert Alastair, the old, rascally uncle of the young heart-throb marquis, and, I tell you: if the aged Lord Rupert were a real person, and we both occupied the same place in time and space, I would totally want him to be my uncle so I could have him over for brandy and copious amounts of roast mutton.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Heroine Will Not Aquit Herself with Honor in the Likely Event of a Raptor Attack

I could survive for 47 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk Beds.net

I wish I could say that I answered this (critical) question:
If the raptor bit off one of your arms, which would you be most likely to do?

With choice 2) Take the arm back and beat the raptor with it.

But that would be a lie. The truth is, if a raptor bit off one of my arms, I would scream and cry like a giant cheese-eating surrender monkey.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Public Service Announcement from Our Heroine

The winners of the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced! The real winner is awesome, but not my favorite. Below are my real favorites. I think I can win the whole magilla next year, folks. I write bad sentences now without even trying. Imagine what Team Heroine could do with only the addition of a financial sponsor and an Eastern European coach.

My favorite

Creeping slowly over the hill, the sun seemed to catch the small village nestled in the valley by surprise, which is a bit unusual really, as you'd think that something with a diameter of 865,000 miles and a surface temperature of 5780 degrees Kelvin, and which is more normally seen from 93,000,000 miles away, wouldn't be able to creep anywhere, let alone catch anything by surprise.

Malcolm Booth
Brinsworth, Rotherham, U.K.

My second favorite

Like almost every other post-Hegelian neo-hipster angst monkey at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Rene flatly rejected the labels society placed upon him.

Bob Salsbury
Spokane Valley, WA

File Under: We Laugh to Keep from Crying


"Hey, did you hear about that P.Z. Myers guy?"

"Says he stuck a nail in Jesus and nothing happened to him?"

"Yeah, that guy."

"Eh, it's been done."


Art: Gustav Dore
Script: Peony
Latin: Bob the Trousered Ape

(H/T Peony Moss via Dawn)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!

At the risk of alienating my two regular readers (hello, RK and Dad!), and being removed from the one blogroll that lists me (thanks, Frank) – Our Heroine is going on summer hiatus. In general, I don’t read fancy books during the summer - but I do get obsessed with sundresses - and thus my blog takes a sharp turn for the frivolous. Last year someone tetchily commented in July, “I don’t like the direction this blog has taken.” Y’all, I sympathize, but I can’t think deep thoughts when it’s so hot outside and just keeping my hair under control takes about 5 hours a day.

So, I’ll be back in September, and I just might tackle The Divine Comedy if y'all don’t watch yourselves.

Hugs and kisses!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Hero’s (Precisely Timed) Return Across The Wine Dark Sea

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I feel about the Greeks of The Iliad the way I feel about the Yankees: I know I’m supposed to love them*, but instead I hate them with the fiery burning of a thousand suns.

There is room in my heart for only one ancient warrior race, and that place is forever occupied by the Trojans. In particular, Hector, breaker of horses. However, if pressed to choose one Greek for whom I would willingly make Nanna’s meatball gravy, it would be Odysseus. Simply because, when I was reading The Iliad, I always sensed that he really wanted to kick that knucklehead Achilles in the shin for being such a stupid, whiny baby. Of course, it would have meant instant death if he’d done it, so he resisted the urge. But I know he was thinking, “Just SHUT UP already about Briseis. We are at WAR, dude.”

I liked him in The Odyssey. Since the gods made it ridiculously hard for him to get home to his one true love, I found it in my heart to forgive him for the horse idea and I sort of started rooting for him. He’s so clever!

Also, I always secretly liked the scene where he finally shows up at his palace in Ithaca, 10 years after setting out for it, and just starts killing all of Penelope’s suitors. It's awfully violent of him, but they had been warned by Theoclymenus, and I understood where Odysseus was coming from. I think that’s just how barbarians dealt with bad moods and stress.

Anyhow, all this to say that very scene may have helped scientists pinpoint the exact day and time of Odysseus’ return. (I KNEW it was awesome for a reason!)

…The seer Theoclymenus then foresees the death of the suitors, ending by saying, "The sun has been obliterated from the sky, and an unlucky darkness invades the world."

The Greek historian Plutarch suggested the prophecy of Theoclymenus referred to a solar eclipse.

Two astronomers think they have learned to which eclipse Homer was referring, and can extrapolate from that precisely the day and time when Odysseus reached home.

Read the whole thing here. It’s amazing.

I know the astronomers are excited because they realize this may mean the ancients knew more about the stars than we’ve commonly given them credit for, but I like it because it makes Odysseus more real, and if he’s more real, somehow so are the stories; Homer, their author and everything about that world. Gives you the literary willies, doesn't it?

*Yes, I know scholars have argued that Homer wanted us to hate the Greeks, and that The Iliad is really a secret anti-imperialist tract, but blah, blah, whatever.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Heroine Ain't Gonna Wear The Clothes That You Like

But if Weezer eats their candy with the pork and beans, so will I.

Click to listen to the happy. So cute! This makes me smile!

However: Rivers Cuomo, what is up with the 'stache?

P.S. Yes, I know the song is about not conforming, but still, that is quite a mustache for a young man. I'm not saying he should shave it off, I'm just asking, "Why?"

Our Heroine Finds The Holy Grail of Literary Cartoons

Oh! I am seizing up with happiness. I found my most favorite New Yorker cartoon online today.

For years now, whenever I feel glum, I only have to think about this cartoon and I start giggling. I've even sketched it for people! I could never find it again after that one time in the magazine, and it became the Holy Grail of cartoons for me. But now, it is shrouded in darkness no longer!

Mr. James Joyce, I don't enjoy reading your fiction, but I can only be grateful to you for being the writer you were, because it inspired this:

If you can’t quite make it out, Joyce's refrigerator “To Do” list reads:

1. Call Bank
2. Dry Cleaner
3. Forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
4. Call mom

Is it totally pretentious to get this on a mug?

(H/T Walking Raven, who closed-captioned it and got it on a shirt)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Heroine Does Not Approve of Having a Very Special Message Hijack Her Movie About A Killer Virus

Y’all, I’m sorry. I got really excited about The Andromeda Strain remake on A&E, so I forgot my critical-thinking hat and blindly assumed it would be awesome. How could anything based on that book not turn out to be solid gold awesome? Even when I saw they had added a scrappy journalist to the plot, I remained hopeful. I like a good scrappy journalist! I do!

However, you may have noticed I never mentioned The Andromeda Strain again. And that was because Your Heroine was deeply ashamed, because it was awful. It was so awful I couldn’t finish watching it. It made a fine gray dust of despair settle on my soul for days, which only an intense regimen of cupcakes and shimmery lipgloss eventually cured. I was so depressed about it I could not even summon the energy to tell you all how much I hated it.

But I’m better now, and ready to thank Jonah Goldberg for doing what I could not. (Side note to Jonah: I hope you have cut your hair. It was looking a bit insane the last time I saw you on TV.)

The Paranoid Style -- From Outer Space!

...a couple months ago Ross [Douthat] had a very good piece in the Atlantic about how 70's paranoia is fashionable in film again. Unfortunately, the piece came out before the remake of The Andromeda Strain ran on A&E. My wife and I caught it the other night. Wow, what a horrible concatenation of clichés, plot holes, absurdities, and all around groan-inducing inanity (See the comments at IMDB for a taste). The casting has a real Love Boat feel, piling up out-of-work or between-gig fading TV stars, including some very talented ones (like Andre Braugher, who plays the Army General with his heart in the right place). Will from "Will and Grace" plays the heroic journalist. Imagine Rick Berke from the New York Times fighting off special-ops assassins in the desert...

Anyway, amidst all of the other cliches, it turns out that the real villain isn't the killer space bug, but the evil land-rapers, henchmen and dirty tricksters swirling around an unpopular president. Without spoiling too much, it turns out that there's a Very Important Environmental Message at the heart of the movie which falls on deaf ears in the corridors of the Military Industrial Complex but hopefully not on the rest of us.

That’s it in a nutshell. Of all the problems Jonah listed, what bothered me the most was the “very special message.” There is no special message in The Andromeda Strain. It is anti-special message, unless that message is, “It is bad, VERY BAD, to pry open military satellites that crash in your backyard. So, don’t do it!” But that’s not really a special message, that's just plain common sense.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Our Heroine Enjoys A Good Insect Alien Whomping As Much As The Next Girl

2008 was supposed to be many things for Our Heroine, but one thing she never expected it to be was the year in which she read ALOT of science-fiction, and maybe, sort of, liked it.

To wit: Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, which is several hundred pages of military strategy and command training being hammered into the brain of a 6 year boy in the hopes that he alone will save the world from alien destruction, before he turns 12.

This book does not have "girl" written all over it. And yet...

I absolutely loved it! I read it in one day. Today is that day. The novel is very intense. The suspense was killing me. I was a very quiet car companion on the drive back from Vermont, because I had to know if Ender cracked under the training to which he was subjected, or became the greatest military commander in all of human history. I won't tell you. You should all read it.

I'm not sure what this means for the rest of my summer. I do have nice, civilized literature to read, and yet somehow I keep buying novels about scientist-soldiers struggling against insane challenges in the distant future. Very often these insane challenges involve, or in fact, ARE, insect aliens.

I do enjoy a good insect alien whomping. So maybe that explains it.

Actually, I have a theory, which I don't think is particularly original, that sci-fi writers can be especially frank or brave about describing the ills of humanity, because it's not really us they're describing. It's almost us, but it's not really us. It's a different us that we can feel disgusted with, or alarmed at, but not get defensive over, because it's the future, or an alternate universe, or against insane odds (read: insect aliens).

I'm not sure if that's why I am reading more sci-fi these days, but it is one reason to consider it if you never have before.

Even so, I promise my next book will be in the Canon. Even if it's the shortest of short stories, or just a teeny sonnet, Harold Bloom will have approved it!

But first: I need air conditioning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Our Heroine Can't Decide: Will It Be The Best of Musicals Or The Worst of Musicals

They are bringing a musical version of A Tale of Two Cities to Broadway this August. What should I do? Should I see it? Do you think I will storm the stage in protest if Sydney Carton sings, "It is a far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."? Maybe I will just feel depressed for days afterwards.

I feel this is like making a musical out of Oedipus Rex (saints preserve us!) or Macbeth. But then again, it is Dickens, and he is kind of like really good pop music. And this is my favorite Dickens novel (so far) on top of it all. I am tossed and turned on a sea of indecision. Someone tell me what to do!!!

Our Heroine Raises A Glass to St. Thomas, But Not With What You Think

Saint Thomas Aquinas once said (though I can't now find the reference) something along the lines of, "there is no sorrow on earth that a warm bath and some red wine can't alleviate a little."

I love Saint Thomas! He was so practical! But, in all seriousness, the Angelic Doctor did not have a 7-11 across the street from him the way I do, and thus he did not have 24 hour access to 32 ounce, ice cold, fountain Diet Cokes laced with lemon. Sweet cracker sandwich! There really is no trouble that those can't medicate. And that's really the only point of this post. I was simply meditating on the big, frosty, Diet Coke with lemon that I drank in Bryant Park earlier today and how happy and contented it made me feel. I wish that feeling for all of you! Go! Drink!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Our Heroine Utters A Literary "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?"

I am a soft-touch for book clubs. I am. I am always wanting to start them and I am always wanting to join them. And this has never worked out well for me. One day, I will recount for you readers the tragi-comedy that was my short-lived Homer Book Club just so you all understand how organized reading groups and I don't mix. I think I either get over-excited (as with my Homer book club) or I get seriously under-whelmed (as with most every other book club I've ever joined) and in neither case is the club experience enriched by my involvement.

All this by way of introduction to my most recent book club membership, the Freebird Books Post-Apocalyptic Movie and Book Club. It's a book club being run out of a little independent book store in Redhook, and the idea is we get together once a month to discuss a piece of Science Fiction set on some sort of post-apocalyptic Earth. We discuss themes, imagery, symbolism, plot structure, etc., over wine and cookies, and then we go next door to watch a movie, also post-apocalyptic, that has similar themes to the book. So far, so good.

The June discussion I can't attend because I'm out of town, so I thought I would get started on July's read, which is Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delany.

Tonight, I curled up on my couch with a nice, lemony Diet Coke and my book and I read seven pages and put the book down and thought to myself, quite literally, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?"

What just happened to my protagonist? Was he just crouching in a shrub, and did he just...er...you know... with an Asian lady who also happened to be a tree? And did he get dressed in a prism chain afterwards? And if so, huh? And did I actually read this line, "It is a city of inner discordances and retinal distortions."

Thoroughly confused, I decided to read the foreward by William Gibson to see if he could tell me what the heck this book was about, and this is what I read,

...Delany, equipped with the accumulated tool-kit of literary modernism, heads straight for the edges and borders and unacknowledged treaties of the consensual act of fiction. And, most remarkably - almost uniquely, in my experience - he succeeds; the text becomes something else...

Oh, golly. I hate when the text becomes something else. Mostly I just like it when it stays text.


I distrust few things more deeply than acts of literary explication.
Here is a book. Go inside.
It's your turn now.
Circular ruin.
Hall of mirrors.
Ring of flesh.
The smoldering outskirts reconfiguring with each step you take.
Remember me to them.

That's the foreword, dear readers. That's what I'm relying on to help clarify what I'm about to read. Now my head hurts.

Also, I think I learned that it's supposed to be a metaphor for the Sixties. Circular ruin, indeed. I don't think I want to read this anymore.

Am I wrong? Should I display austere self-discipline and finish the thing? Or should I wait to redeem myself in August, and in the meantime read some Wodehouse?
Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the hotel at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.

Our Heroine Has a Hopkins-Related Incident

Tonight, Father A. really pulled out the stops with his homily as far as I am concerned. And I may be asked never to attend St. B's ever again.

Father A. was wanting to stress that each of us has been chosen to perform a specific task in God's plan of salvation, and that feeling a failure at life doesn't mean we aren't doing a spectacularly successful job at the special thing it is that God wants us to do. To illustrate his point, Father A., with no warning whatsoever, whipped out Gerard Manley Hopkins. (Er...just to be clear, he didn't actually like, whip GMH out of his pocket or anything, I mean he just suddenly started talking about him.)

Y'all, here is a hint for future dealings with me: if you ever want to watch me cry big, wracking tears of grief, talk to me about Gerard Manley Hopkins. Do y'all know who he is? He was English, a Jesuit and tragic. Already I'm sniffly.

In truth he was a Victorian from a prominent English family, an Oxford bright, and, of course, an Anglican. While at Oxford, he Poped (yay!), was expelled because of it, and then, as if that wasn't bad enough, became a Jesuit and was disowned by his family.

He was a flop at all his priestly assignments, he spent much of his life battling great mental and spiritual anguish, and was generally considered by all (himself included) to be rather a failure at his vocation. He died young, of typhus, at 45. He's like the Catholic Rupert Brooke.

Anyhow, while he was alive he wrote poems for God, virtually unseen by anyone, and they are beautiful, and revolutionary in style and structure. Everyone agrees they are masterpieces. Everyone now. But Hopkins himself was never to know it.

I love that the kindly Father A. used him in the homily. It was his posthumous Father's Day gift to the lonely Jesuit poet who has become a spiritual father to so many people.

You can see why I was sobbing, most indelicately, in a Church with only 30 people in it? I don't think I can go back there.

I leave with your very own poem of Father Hopkins. Resquiat In Pacem.

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things --
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced -- fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Speaking of spiritual fathers: Happy Father's Day, Monsignor H. and Father A.!

And, of course: Happy Father's Day to my own lovely Dad!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Our Heroine Would Not Tamper with a Downed Satellite If She Were You

When I was in high school, I somehow got my hands on a copy of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain. I don't know why I read it then, considering that the only books I wanted to read in high-school involved brooding heroes with wounded souls being saved by plain but sassy governesses in country houses.

But I did read it, and it was Michael Crichton's first novel, written (I think) while he was still at Harvard Medical School and before he went all Hollywood and started sticking precocious kids in every book because he's really just scripting a movie.

This book was serious, hard-core, written entertainment, laced perfectly with that ol' Aristotelian fear that, "This could happen to me."

My Pumpkins, I cannot express accurately how reading that book for the first time made me feel. It sticks in my head as one of the most exciting reading experiences of my entire life. I mean, I missed my bus stop - several times - because I was so engrossed. I didn't talk to my girlfriends for days; I just wanted to be alone to read. The book is perfect entertainment. It's really just perfect. I don't want to give too much away, but the plot involves a satellite, a collision in outer space, a top-secret government lab and a mysterious something that wreaks apocalyptic levels of death.

The book is probably my favorite science-fiction novel, and easily among the top 10 most enjoyable books I have ever read. It's totally believable. I reread it, and while the technology now seems dated, the premise still makes perfect sense.

Why am I raving about this now? Because the super-geniuses at A&E have brilliantly decided to (re)make Andromeda Strain as a movie which airs this weekend. When I saw the commercial a little while ago, I threw my cat off my lap and started running around my apartment, shrieking. And I am going down to the 7-11 when I'm done posting this to celebrate with a nice, lemony Diet Coke.

I know it's science-fiction, but will you ladies watch it if I tell you that Benjamin Bratt is playing hero-scientist, Dr. Jeremy Stone? (Megan, there are no insecty-alien creatures like the last science-fiction thing I tried to foist on you.)

Anyhoodle, before I sign off with one last whoopee of excitement, I must confess that every random science career I've ever imagined for myself was spawned from reading The Andromeda Strain, in which all the scientists were tough and smart and brave and patriotic and willing to sacrifice their lives to save the world. Sadly, I just can't do math in my head, so the science life was not to be for me.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Our Heroine Posts a Nubbin

St. Thomas on a donut! My cowgirl hat is so ridiculously cute I can't stand it. When will my job switch from business formal to Western casual?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our Heroine Goes Country

Last week I went to see Dolly Parton at Radio City Music Hall with Frank and Megan, at which event Frank wore his cowboy hat. And, I don't know why, but I was suddenly consumed with jealousy over his hat, and possessed of a fierce desire to own my own.

The problem is my giant Keeler-shaped head, which is the bane of both my and my brother's existence. It makes hat-buying a trial, I can tell you.

So I Googled "cute cowgirl hats" in different sizes and I ordered this one, which is hanging out at the UPS outpost in Secaucus, a mere day away from my loving hands:

How cute! I think I will wear it with short flowered sundresses and big gold earrings and people in Brooklyn will laugh at me but I won't care because in my head I'll think I look sorta like Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats, the movie during which I'm pretty sure I loved every. single. outfit.

And I thought about this hat and the pretty clothes from Hope Floats on my subway ride to and from work today and it made me smile.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Our Heroine's Shiner is Fading Quite Nicely, Thank You for Asking

Most of you probably know that I got snookered into the possession of two cats last year, practically before I knew what was happening to me. Basically, I made the mistake of stopping by an adoption center at a sidewalk fair where I saw an old gray cat being overlooked, at which point my heart broke in two because she looked so utterly lost and alone, and so I took her home and got her a friend.

So now I have two cats. And I am not allowed near adoption fairs. But anyway, the guy who makes these Simon's Cat videos knows cats better than anyone else ever! This video is a technically accurate reenactment of my morning, down to the smallest detail -- up to and including the black eye.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now Our Heroine is Cookin' with Gas!

Lappie 3.0 is in the house and he's already a beloved member of the family.

I have SOOOOOO much stuff to tell y'all! But not tonight, because I already posted one thing, and I'm a sleepy heroine. So blogging will pick up properly tomorrow.

How do y'all feel about a post on French film? Mais non? Then maybe something on that stupid movie about that guy who hates his ex-girlfriend and goes to Hawaii to forget her or something. I'll see.

(Thanks to Papa Juliet Foxtrot for the insightful installation advice and numerous puns on the word "PC-cillin"!)

Our Heroine Issues a Mea Culpa

We here at The Decanonon (and really, that's just me) do try to credit content from other sites when we use it. But in my post, Our Heroine Is Not A Raptor Sympathizer I did not credit the creator of the most awesome velociraptor cartoon of all time with a via http://xkcd.com/.

That was a long time ago, and I'm not sure why I didn't, though I know it was accidental. Anyhow, it's fixed now, belatedly, and I want to offer a kind "thank you" to Oliver Babbles for his gentle reminder to me to do the right thing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our Heroine Wonders When Our Long National Nightmare Will Be Over

What is wrong with these jeans? I ask y'all. If you need help, look closely at the cuffs.

As if the ubiquitous leggings craze wasn't bad enough, or the tight jeans inside boots craze, or the maternity shirt over tight pants craze, or the too-long tight pants worn with ballet flats craze. As if any and all of the current crazes weren't bad and unflattering enough, now we’re bringing back pegged jeans?! For serious? I mean, I wore those things once before, in college, and those are the pictures I look at now and shudder and think, "My G*d, what was I thinking?"

But now, suddenly, they're hot? And even preppy J.Crew approves? When will our long national nightmare be over?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Special Guest Post By: Rick Astley

Who wants you all to know that...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Our Heroine Sighs, "Ave Atque Vale," Through Salty Tears

Y'all, sad news: the hard drive on my laptop died a hero's death earlier this week as it valiantly tried to incorporate the latest iTunes upgrade. Blogging will be light until I figure out what to do.

While I am well equipped to handle crises of fashion, home decorating, cuisine, and personal grooming -- any problem related to the cold, hard innards of machinery flummox me greatly.

I am going to throw myself at the feet of the sales staff at Best Buy and beg for mercy.

In the meantime: RIP Lappie 2.0 -- I will eventually use some other, healthier laptop to tell people how totally awesome A Canticle for Leibowitz was -- but it will not be the same.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Our Heroine Wishes You a Joyful Easter

I'll be gone for the Triduum, y'all, and back blogging on Monday. I'll be celebrating great and holy things by buying out the Bare Escentuals store with my sister-in-law in Vermont. And, like last year, I leave you this very lovely and appropriate poem by the wonderful John Donne:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Our Heroine Misses the Veggietales Poster of Yesterweek

For the past few weeks, this poster keeps catching my eye at the 49th Street N/R stop. Every time it does, I always have the same question. "What. is. she. wearing?!" I mean, I get what's going on here. This ad is trying to show me that it's sexytime for The Tudors. But... is she wrapped in a tablecloth, or what? Is that her nightgown? Because if it is, it is the craziest nightgown I have ever seen. A real Tudor nightgown would have had about 17 more yards of fabric. And sleeves. And who sleeps in strapless anyway!!? Even now, nobody does. And what's keeping it up? It has no boning, so are you trying to tell me she's got an elastic band at the top? Elastic, in 1509? For serious? So, if it's not a nightgown, is it supposed to be a dress? And it if it's supposed to be a dress, why is it the color of stale bread? And it if it's supposed to be a dress, why hasn't she been thrown out of court for a wh*re? Let's look at a real 16th century dress, shall we?

Perhaps you noticed. That's a lot of dress. She's got some sort of sleeve layer, a fur layer, the green dress layer, plus quite a bit of accessory on her head.

Speaking of accessories, I love that the Tudor poster lady, (who I'm pretty sure is Catharine of Aragon) decided to put on her most luscious jewels, then grab a big goblet of wine, before wrapping up in a yellowed bedsheet.

It's just so unfortunate and exasperating to be assaulted every morning with all these questions. Before I've even had coffee. A pox upon you rascally Tudors! I bite my thumb at your weird, semi-naughty, non-historical fashion.

Also, a question for my readers: when did Henry VIII become history's superfox? We've all seen that one portrait where he's the pudgy guy wearing the tights and the floppy, feathery hat, right? Just checking.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our Heroine is a Victim of the Last Acceptable Prejudice

I have been added to the blog roll at Frank Helps You Think It All Out, where I will remain, on probation, "as long as posts are regular and informative."

I am also informed that this blog, "Could use some more NASCAR."

Now, Frank's friend Ptolemy hasn't updated his blog, Our Man in Europe, since March 2005, and he has never been removed from the blog roll or given so much as a stern warning. Also, he writes posts about mustaches and dentistry -- whereas I write posts about velociraptors and spies. And yet, MY blog is the less exciting one? The one that needs an injection of NASCAR?

Clearly there's an undercurrent of something ugly going on here, and I think we all know what it is. The main difference between me and Frank's friend? Other than the fact he is a tall Australian guy living in London, and I am a short American girl living in New York? Exactly. The darling of Frank's blogroll has a smarty-pants, superunusual name from antiquity. Whereas the red-headed stepchild of Frank's blog roll has a totally normal, two-syllabled, bourgeois name like everybody else. Nameism: Spot It. Stop It.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sometimes, This is How Our Heroine Feels Too

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wilderness,
for I had wandered from the straight and true.
- Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto I

via Fallen Sparrow

Our Heroine Thanks TEC for Helping Catholics Feel Better About Their Troubles

Y'all, I love Chris Johnson of The MCJ. I hope he becomes a Catholic one day, but not yet, because his ring-side reports on the bust-up of The Episcopal Church are just too entertaining. He's a remarkable guy, to remain so upbeat, cheerful, and wickedly funny during what must be, in reality, very disheartening circumstances.

That being said, Piskie Bishop Katie Jefferts Shori's Easter message is hilarious! Takeaway: "Jesus died so I could reduce my carbon footprint."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Golden Age -- What Happened?

This is not a real post y'all, just an update to explain why I never posted again on The Golden Age, like I wrote that I would.

The book is part of a trilogy, and in a hard-core way; the hero, Phaethon, just figured out that he owns an incredible starship, and is walking towards it when the book just ended.

That's it. I won't know a thing more til I read the next installment.

So, there's not much to say until I get to Phoenix Exultant, which is Part II. Right now, my hero is just walking, and that's healthy, and I'm happy for him, but it's not inspiring me to write any of my normal, overblown blog musings.

Stay tuned, he'll reach the ship eventually.

Our Heroine Thanks You For Your Votes

Thanks, everybody here - and at Frank's blog - for voting for my cousin Christine Kinneary.

Nine semifinalists were narrowed to three for the 2008 America East Women's Basketball Fans' Choice Player of the Year Award. My cousin was one of them!

Ultimately, Hartford senior forward Danielle Hood - who is a lovely lady - took first place. My cousin was psyched she won. So, thanks for pitching in to get her in the finals, and we'll win it all next year!

Postscript: If you voted and want meatballs, let me know! A promise is a promise, unless you're Frank; in which case you're still not dishing up the chateaubriand you owe me for losing that Oscars bet!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Basically, Our Heroine was Unimpressed

I just finished the novel Atonement. Meh.

Incredible momentum in Part I, with all events, large and small, rushing forward to the story's horrible climax. And, like in Hardy, making the multitude of small words, choices and actions that lead to the terrible denoument seem inevitable. As if no other outcome were possible.

Hooray! Good stuff! I was gripped. And then. Meh.

Did you ever write an awesome scene, just a great little scene, and then be very, very sad that you had no novel to put it in? Well, that's what Atonement felt like to me. Like Ian McEwan wrote this fantastic little short story, "Two Figures at a Fountain," and then felt obligated to keep writing Atonement so he would have someplace to put it. Meh.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Our Heroine is Sitting in the Pity Pot

Y'all, I finished The Golden Age, and it's 11 pm, and I don't have anything to read. This makes me petulant and cranky. I have books lying everywhere, stuff I haven't read or have only half-read, but none of it's appealing to me now. I want something new, from the store, with a shiny cover and an uncracked spine.

Better still, I want to read The Moviegoer but I want it to be the first time I ever read it, which requires a DeLorean, a flux capacitor and 1.21 gigawatts to accomplish. You see that nothing will satisfy me? Why isn't Lost on right. now?

Whee! I went and found a Simpsons quote and it made me giggle:

B.T.Barlow: Mr. Mayor, I have a question for you. What if YOU came home one night to find your family tied up and gagged, with SOCKS in their mouths. They're screaming. You're trying to get in but there's too much BLOOD on the knob!!!!!

Mayor Quimby: What is your question about?

B.T.Barlow: It's about the budget sir.

I guess I'll just get over myself and go read Oprah.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Our Heroine is Not Above Bribing People with Meatballs

A post even the curmudgeonly Frank can approve.

Y'all, I have been blessed with some adorable and funny and sweet and affectionate cousins, and one of the most awesome of them is Christine Kinneary - the superfierce starting point guard for Boston University. She's up for AmericaEast fan favorite this season, so please go to this web site and vote for her:

I will make you some of my Nanna Crispino's meatballs if you do. And trust me, you really want to try those meatballs.

Voting wraps in two days, so no lolligagging!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Our Heroine Demands Truth in the Advertising of Ralph Fiennes!

I saw the movie In Bruges this weekend. GAW! What a terrible movie. A virtual perfect storm of things I hate to have paid good money to see. Let's see if I can enumerate the various ways in which this movie appalled me, in no particular order.

1) Complete dishonesty in advertising? Check.
The entire trailer was culled from the last 10 minutes of the movie, which leads one to believe that the movie consists of a suited Ralph Fiennes running through the streets of Bruges. As a girl I think that movie would be awesome. We all like Ralph Fiennes, right? He's so proper! He's so handsome! He's British! He's also fierce! I would have really liked that movie.

This was not that movie.

In this movie, the last 10 minutes would be the ONLY 10 minutes in which Fiennes appears on film, and the only 10 minutes in which anyone runs anywhere. The rest of the time, two annoying, generic hitmen (neither of whom are Ralph Fiennes) jaw at eachother about...life.

2) Completely amoral "anti-heroes" who are supposed to be likable and cool but who are actually utterly repellent in every particular? Check.
The leads are assassins, people. The fact that one likes castles and the other one, midgets, does not make them "quirky" and/or "charming."

3) Anti-American jokes that serve no purpose other than the director's ideology and to show his pseudo-intellectual European friends he is perfectly in tune with "right think?" Oh, definitely check.
In my humble opinion, if you want to make jokes about fat, loud, crass Americans and have it sting a bit, perhaps the people making the jokes shouldn't be child-killing assassins.

4) Cheap one-night stand with a drug-dealer, which ostensibly becomes "True LoveTM"? Check, indeed.
If a killer and a pusher who spend one day lying to and manipulating eachother, then shag, are what qualify as great lovers these days, then we have truly emptied the concept of love of all meaning.

So, that's it. I just really, really hated the movie. I turned to my friend at one point to roll my eyes over how heinous the whole thing was, but he was asleep. GAW! Yet further evidence that the movie was not only appalling, it was boring.

One final note on the plot. Sane people do not consider shagging a drug pusher an act of redemption appropriate to a parking-ticket, let alone child-murder. Turning yourself in to face the consequences? Yes, maybe. Drug-addled sex, followed by an assault charge? Not even close.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Our Heroine Is Kind Of A Coward

Ok, so, I'm reading a science fiction novel. Real, honest-to-goodness science fiction. (I KNOW, it's weird to me too, it's not normally my thing.) It called The Golden Age, about an interplanetary Utopian society. The author is John C. Wright, who converted from secular atheism to Catholicism, and for whom I have recently developed a soft spot.

I'm totally enjoying it, and I'll write more about it later, but I did want to comment on the state of the story thus far. The book asks the reader to consider this question: pleasure or truth? That's a great question, right? It's a version of the only question worth asking. Is it better to be well-regarded; popular; loved; successful; rich; immortal, even, with unlimited access to every lawful pleasure; than to have the Truth without them?

Since I already know a little about Mr. Wright's philosophy, I'm confident of what he thinks is the answer. But what is particularly interesting to me, is reading how this dilemma plays out in the Utopian world Wright has created. I mean, if his hero chooses Truth, he essentially loses Paradise. And, unlike the author, the hero has no religion, no, "Not this life, but the life hereafter" philosophy. If he does what I think he will do, I wonder: would I be so brave in the same circumstances? See headline of post, if you have any doubts.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Our Heroine Loves Jokes About Evolution

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

I really want that on a shirt.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Our Heroine Was Clearly An Insufferable Child

Ok, y'all. So, when the original Star Wars came out I was also three, like the wee lass in the video above. And my Dad took me and my two boy cousins to see it, and I was deeply, deeply awed by it.

And I remember, even now, asking my Dad why Darth Vader was fighting against Luke and his friends, and my Dad, not quite sure how to explain "universal domination preceding institution of a totalitarian dictatorship" to a toddler, opted for a simpler approach. He told me that the two were fighting over who got to be the good guy. Now, this was something he knew I'd understand, since I was always arguing with other kids over who got to be the good guy during games. But this time, seeing the same argument in the context of a grown-up movie, I had the sudden understanding that bad guys thought they ought to win too.

The idea that bad guys thought they ought to win, or had a right to win, was totally new to me. I had always assumed that bad guys knew they were bad. Also, I assumed they knew that because they were bad they were going to lose, and thus, that they didn't really want to be bad but kinda had to be bad - temporarily - just to move the story along. Which is why, before that movie, bad guys never scared me.

But the idea that bad guys had an agenda apart from, "Well, if I don't act mean to Princess Leia, what's Luke Skywalker going to do for the next two hours?" And, that they actually wanted and expected victory, despite the fact that they had to *be* mean and *do* mean things to get it, was heretofore INCONCEIVABLE to me. It meant they would probably *stay* mean even when the story was over, and that was really scary, because it meant it was their choice.

Anyhow, I write all that, not to be unbelievably pompous, which no doubt I was, but really just because that video reminded me that the Star Wars movie prompted me to have my first ever "deep thought" (also my last ever) and that it was, in a dim way, the knowledge of evil.

But also, just like her, I really liked the shiny robot who worried.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Our Heroine Is Onto Something...

...and that something is a little Walker Percy.

The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.
Oh, Moviegoer, how much do I love thee?

Our Heroine Is Not A Raptor Sympathizer

Click on the image to see it in all its large-sized, raptory glory.

Via XKCD, a site that describes itself as a "webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." Hooray for all of those! (except math)