Required Reading
Cap'n Flynn (deviantART)
Cap'n Flynn's Salty Sea Chest

The Unveiled Clepsydra

The Voyage to Ruin
Catholic Works
Aliens in This World
Apologize and Don't Be Sorry!
Catholic Ragemonkey
De Fidei Oboedientia
Doubleshot Thoughts
E-Pression (Zorak)
Flos Carmeli
For Keats' Sake!
Happy Catholic
John C. Wright's Journal
Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa
Scuffulans hirsutus
Shrine of the Holy Whapping
Summa Mamas, The
Troglodyte, The
The Stacks
Basia me, Catholica Sum
Corner, The
Fiat Lux!
I Am the Lizard Queen!
The Kawaii Menace
James Lileks
Wasted Words
Weirdsville, USA
8-Bit Theater
Get Fuzzy
Sluggy Freelance
xkcd: A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language
One Guy's Opinion
Dark Echo
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Catholic Culture: Liturgical Year
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Invisible Children
New Advent
The Rosary Confraternity
Anglican Use Society
Book of Divine Worship
Pastoral Provision
Saint Mary The Virgin Catholic Church
Chambers' Book of Days
King's American Dispensatory
The Writer's Den
Jim Butcher
Bruce Campbell
Susanna Clarke
Harlan Ellison
Stephen King
Lit Gothic
The Studio
Jeff Matsuda
Moby Dick, the Movie
The Conservatory
David Bowie
Dougie MacLean
Gaming FM
Great Big Sea
Kate Rusby
The Myriad
Nickel Creek
The Recliners
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23 June 2007
Words, Words, Words
Yesterday, kashi passed me an article she'd found somewhere online (the original source is

Very good and interesting stuff. At least, 'tis to me as a teacher and as a lover of the language. I'm ever in search of more and better ways to help my students increase their vocabularies (which are far too often paltry, pathetic, or sophomoric), but it's always an uphill battle. Oddly, one of the best ways I've found has been to simply speak as I am wont to do, to not, as Clive Beck in the article would have us do, lower my vocabulary to meet the current level of the students, or use their lingo as a way to "connect." And these kids will stop me, and ask what the words I use mean. And get this--most times, they remember the word. The word detritus had them practically falling all over themselves. One student even requested a daily word to help augment her vocab. Part of it, I suspect, may be that I let them harbour no illusions about my pretentiousness and love of the language. I don't use big words because I'm trying to make them feel less than myself. I use them because I love the language, and because I simply am, naturally, a pretentious windbag. I tell them this. It really is amazing what honesty can do for you.

Alas, spend time in corporate America, read a business email, and you'll know that your expansive vocabulary is worth little in today's culture. People will just shut down on you. If it's not Dick-and-Jane simple, you're going to lose most people. Which means I'm going to lose most people all the time, because I shall not say in three words what can be said far more beautifully in fifteen. Which is not to say I don't recognise the power of an economy of phrasing, a certain succinctness, being terse, or pithy (not to mention the ability to use irony). I mean, should I find myself and a loved one in a dark alley with a vampire, I think I would be much more likely to say "Run!" than "Let us, my dear, hie ourselves from this place with all due haste." But in most cases, by God and St. George, I will not let my vocabulary go gentle into that good night.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   3:52 PM
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I wonder if all theatres are showing the new horror film 1408 in the fourteenth theatre of their complex? If not, they should be. For those who notice, it'd be a nice touch. Something akin to Hitchcock making theatres lock their doors once Psycho had begun so people couldn't come in midway through (which I imagine, for lawsuit reasons alone, could never be done today). The art of presentation seems a lost one, alas.

Anyway, caught the movie this morning, and I have to say I'm pleased. And impressed. A film that can hit all the right scare notes without unnecessary dismemberment and gore. Nor does it ask its audiences to leave their intelligences at the door. Which is not to say it's by any means a deep movie, but it certainly operates on a much higher level than Saw or any of that wretched ilk. Mostly, though, 1408 delivers a sustained level of suspense that is exceedingly effective and beautifully enhanced by the use of sound. Also, the protagonist is a damaged man who is seeking something (peace, healing, release, truth--what do you seek when you're hurt? And do you always go to the right place? That's what the subtext of the movie asks, it seems.) Where John Cusack's Mike Enslin seeks it is the evilest room ever. I mean, it plays the Carpenters at him--how much more evil can you get?

Anyway, it's got humour, irony, a host of scares, and Samuel L. Jackson having a deliciously creepy fun time in his role. Ultimately, if more of today's films were like this, and fewer like the one trailer kashi and I caught (Captivity, which even in the trailer clearly shows there's something horribly wrong with our culture), I could rest a little easier at night.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   3:13 PM
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18 June 2007
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
In the coming weeks, I'll likely have some movie reviews, or comments when I'm feeling more laconic, especially of movies I intend to watch for the film class I'm teaching this year, as well as ones I intend to show in my Horror Lit class.

Since my mind's been on the horror trip of late, I decided to rent The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which I'd heard much about, but on which was somewhat dubious. Mostly, I found it suspect because my experience of recent horror films has not been good. Between the badly done and morally shallow zombie movies which have been all the rage, gore-fest-o-ramas, and the ill-made exorcism movies like Exorcist: The Beginning (see
here for my review of that debacle), one can easily lose hope that anyone knows how to do good horror anymore.

Happily, I can report that not only does Emily Rose manage good horror, but it's also simply a darned good film. One part horror, one part courtroom drama, and one part philosophical/ theological musing. What is best about this last aspect is that the film does not force any particular view on the viewer, but merely forces the viewer to confront his own ideas in order to question or further embrace them. One cannot view the film (at least not honestly, in me own 'umble opinion) without at least pondering what his own mind is on the subject of demons (and more generally the supernatural and faith). Now, based on character arcs and such, I would argue that the film does perhaps more favour belief and faith and recognising that there are evil forces out there waiting to eat us, mind, body, and soul, but it never disparages the other view, or a doubting one either. And ultimately, it is the two leads, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson, who really sell this ideological (and at times emotional) sparring.

One cannot, however, overlook the performance of Jennifer Carpenter as Emily Rose. For a girl who has very few actual lines in the movie (unless one counts screaming, which she happens to excel at), she really delivers quite a punch. Because the actress has some amazing physical control over her body, the special effects team actually decided to redesign their approach to the FX, so as not to get in her way, but rather to merely enhance what she was already doing on film. And it is in her performance that we get the true horror of the movie. Because we see Emily Rose before she is attacked, and what we see is a bright, pretty, and most of all hopeful young woman. She comes from a loving family; she has dreams and aspirations; she is, simply, a good person. And it is this person, this goodness, who is ravaged by something completely beyond her control. And yet, she is not without power in the world, not entirely helpless to effect change. And it is here that the film makes an important point.

One of the things I really love about good horror is that it does not feel the need to end happily in order to satisfy our need to believe the world actually makes sense. The world doesn't make sense; it can't. It's beautiful. It's wonderful in many ways. But the things that happen in it are never going to fit the happy ending rules. And lest you think me a cynic (which, actually, I am), it's not because the world is all bad, but rather because the world isn't the point. The physical world is the place of opportunities. Opportunites to show what we're made of, that we can be true to how we were made, even unto death. The horror movie doesn't always end happily, but it should end well. Evil may not be forever vanquished, but we must know it can be defeated--even in small doses, even if it requires the main character's death. We are asked to live in this world, but we are not left without tools and equipment to do what we're asked to do. Which is not to say you don't often have to look really hard to find the bright spot in the end of a horror story, but the ones that are utterly bleak, utterly hopeless, are often the ones that leave you cold. Good horror should make you feel good about humanity. It should make you believe, not just in a Good beyond ourselves, but also in us, in humanity. It should show us that we are capable of standing up against those things that do exist, and that we cannot even begin to really comprehend, so long as we recognise we'll almost certainly have to lean on the support what's been supplied to us from the beginning. We are never alone in the fight.

In Emily Rose, Father Moore responds to his attorney's agnosticism regarding the existence of demons by saying, "Demons exist, whether you believe in them or not." So, the question is, that thing which is lurking over your shoulder, or around the next bend and is trying constantly to find an opening in your soul--how will you deal with it when it attacks?
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:03 AM
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Gone a Little While...
And all your links become a mess.

Maybe it's just me, and I'm becoming (or have been and never really knew it) an old fogey, but the internet is too transient for my tastes. Admittedly, nine months is a long time to not be posting and keeping my blog updated, but still, between the redesigned blogs, and the changed addresses, it took the better part of Saturday to get all my links cleaned up.

Never mind me--just grousing.

Anyway, I'm happy to say that all my links (so far as I know) point in the right directions now. And since Mixolydian Mode has shut down to become Scuffulans hirsutus, that's all fixed as well. I've also added in Jim Butcher to The Writer's Den, should anyone have an interest.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:51 AM
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16 June 2007
Don't Delay; Buy Now!

Get the word out now to all you know--there's a new book out that you must have. If, that is, you enjoy pirates, magic, naval battles, treachery, honour, love--all that sort of thing. 'Tis called, The Voyage to Ruin, and is written by H.L. Trombley.

The book is a series of stories which all serve one main plot--the attempts of Captain Acheron Zeal of Her Majesty's Royal Navy of Camembert (in the world of the Quadra Terrarum) to hunt down the notorious pirate, Captain Franceline Drake, who has waged her own little war against Zeal. But of course, it could never be as simple as this. For another man's fate (and possible that of the whole world) hangs in the balance.

The book is filled with wonderful characters, excitement galore, and exceeding fine prose. This is a new kind of fantasy here, I think; one which at once holds true with the essence of traditional fantasy, while also breaking new ground and maintaining a joyous wit throughout.

Now, why am I effusing so much? Because it's good, that's why. Also, I happen to know the author, and am helping to promote it. Also also, my wife, kashi, did the interior illustrations for the book, so I have triple reason to urge everyone, everywhere to obtain it as quickly as possible. But even if these two other factors were not involved, I would recommend it most highly, for it is worth owning, and worth reading again and again.

Finally, the technical stuff. The book is currently only available on (the author has chosen to self-publish), and is thus only available at list price. Within about two months' time, it should be available through major book distributors like, and thus at their usual discounted price. However, this is by no means a sure thing, and I highly recommend you purchase it immediately--if anything, it's perfect summer reading material (also very family-friendly, ao anyone with children 12 and up who have interest in this area of fiction should not hesitate). Anyway, it's available in a beautiful hardcover edition with cover art by Jackie Sullivan (see her artist's site here) and, as I said, kashi's illustrations inside. There is also a much cheaper paperback version, but it is, alas, sans nifty interior illustrations.

So, then, without further ado, I give you the web address at which you, yes you, dear friends, can jaunt off immediately to buy said wonderful book. Enjoy!

The Voyage to Ruin
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:00 AM
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09 June 2007
I Am Legend

Couldn't be happier this morning. I've just found out that they've done a re-make of The Last Man on Earth, a Vincent Price film from the fifties which still stands today as one of the best horror films of all time. Both films (as well as the 70s flick The Omega Man with Charleton Heston) are based on Richard Matheson's book I Am Legend, which I've not yet read, but soon will. Matheson's one of those horror writers you hear about all the time, but it's usually years after you've watched something which he penned, or something which was adapted from one of his works, that you say, "Oh, he wrote that? I love that!" Matheson's also the author of Hell House, which again, I know of, but have yet to read, and he wrote that classic Twilight Zone ep starring Shatner, "Nightmare at 20000 Feet." You know the one: "There's a ... man ... on the ... wingoftheplane!" Sorry, that's the best I can do to Shatnerise text.

Anyway, the teaser trailer for the new film (using the book's original title) can be viewed here. It stars Will Smith--some might have a problem with that casting, but I really don't. Smith's got the kind of charisma and honesty in his acting that I think makes him very adaptable to different roles. Done right, this role could really make people look at him differently. True, there's something to be said for spindly Vincent Price tackling vampires as the last man on earth--it's got a frightening realism to it which I think unseats people's sense of safety better (and what else is horror for?). But all of this is to say that I'm hopeful. Alas, I'll have to wait until December to find out if they made a good film or not, but that's okay, I can be patient.

Until then, if anyone's interested, see if you can dig up the original with Price. If Blockbuster's smart, they'll make it available before the new one hits. It's well worth the viewing.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:52 AM
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07 June 2007
And Another...
Because the comic's just too funny, and sums up my feelings on MySpace.

Join MySpace
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:38 AM
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Absurd Humour
Colour me strange and bizarre, but this web comic is hilarious.

xkcd: A webcomic of romance,
sarcasm, math, and language.

(This particular one's from the archive.)
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:53 AM
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05 June 2007
My Burgeoning Acting Career
A few weeks ago, I, kashi, and a friend got to be extras in a short film put together by
Element X Creative for the 2007 Dallas 24 Hour Video Race. The film won 1st Place in its category. Though I'm the only one of the three who made it into the final cut (and barely any of me did--you can see most of my head as I'm unloading a truck in the background), we still helped, it was much fun, and kashi's the one who came up with the title. If you're interested, it's a fun little short, and you can watch it here: The Day of Wrong.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:03 PM
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