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

The Unveiled Clepsydra

The Voyage to Ruin
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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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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
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26 July 2008
The Dark Knight, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Harvey Dent
Okay, so, we got to see The Dark Knight a second time while visiting kashi's folks in Kansas, since her dad had not yet seen it (yes, it's so very terrible the way we suffer). I think, now, upon reflection, I am able to gush properly about it.

First and foremost, let me say that Christopher Nolan is nigh god-like in his directorial powers. So far, I do not see how the man can do wrong--Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, and now The Dark Knight--such an excellent run of films. The man knows storytelling, he knows pacing, and he knows how to let characters really drive things along. Just beautiful filmmaking.

Second, Harvey Dent. I, truly and definitely, believe in Harvey Dent. Aaron Eckhart brought an amazing strength and warmth to this character, with just a hint of violence hiding beneath to suggest the turmoil that would later characterise Two-Face. He is believable as a White Knight, and thus his pain is our pain. This is tragedy, folks. This is what the Greeks were doing thousands of years ago, what Shakespeare did, what we, I believe have lost much of today. I could go on, but I daresay it would be merely effusive blathering. There has been much talk of Heath Ledger getting an Oscar nod for his performance (quite deserved, too), however I've yet to hear anyone speak of Eckhart's performance, and that is a real shame. He brings the kind of presence to Dent that is needed, that can serve to show just what Batman really is, and the danger the Joker really represents for Gotham. Because Dent is a good man, through and through. Alas, he is, in the end, a man, and thus subject to the same flaws we all are.

And then, there is, of course, the Joker. The previews do not give one the proper sense of menace that Ledger gives us in this character. This is most assuredly not Jack Nicholson's Joker. This is not a somewhat dangerous buffoon creating bad art and stealing because he can. This is, as he himself recognises, chaos incarnate. No rhyme. No reason. Just menace. And he is frightening, yet, somehow, oddly sympathetic. It is, perhaps, because he is so very honest (and earnest) about what he is and what he is doing. Though he may wear a mask (of sorts), the mask is what he is (though not the Mask, for Nolan's world is not the ridiculous world of Jim Carrey--who also made an awful Riddler). Whatever made the Joker the way he is, I suspect there, too, is tragedy. Yet there is no possibility of redemption or resolution here. There is no coming back from where the Joker has gone, just as what he was before becoming the Joker no longer exists. He has no identity, no past. He is the Joker, through and though, and who is to tell what story to explain his scars is the real one? Ledger truly is amazing in the role. Powerful, unpredictable, malevolent, at times childlike, utterly convincing.

Now, have you noted that I've said almost nothing of Batman himself? Why, the film is titled The Dark Knight, isn't it? Shouldn't it be all about him? Did this movie make the mistake of the earlier wretched films by casting too many villains? No, no, and no. In many ways, it is and is not about Batman. Throughout, Batman is being acted upon by other forces. This is a film (like the first, though in a different way) of becoming for Batman. The forces which act upon him (which if they are to effect a change--a believable change--must be developed properly first) are there to produce the Dark Knight. To make him what he needs to be. Nolan is showing us changes, progress, development. He is not rushing this storytelling, and is thus producing some of the finest films of the decade in the process. Batman's story in this film is pointing toward the future, and so we must of necessity spend more time with the forces of his present that will create his future. And we do, and it is wonderful.

Speaking of the future, there is a brief, subtle hint early on that has kashi and myself thinking that the next film will present us with Catwoman. Since Nolan has consistently given us incredibly human heroes and villains in these two movies, I cannot wait to see what he does with Catwoman. I am certain it will not disappoint.

If you've yet to see this film, do. And then see it again.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:56 AM
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I'm still not one hundred percent sure why, but I am now on Facebook. It's a strange phenomenon, because I tend toward anti-social so very much, yet this whole site is all about "connecting." Still, it is nice now that I actually have friends on it to have a window into the lives of far away acquaintances. Oddly, a student (now-graduated Poetry Club member) happened to find me first. Now that some real-life friends have located me, it's rather blossoming (well, for me, 12 is blossoming).

Still, quite bizarre.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:48 AM
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20 July 2008
Prayers Requested
One of my students (I had her as a sophomore and will have her again this year as a senior) just lost her parents and brother in a private plane crash. Please keep her in your prayers. Thank you.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:49 PM
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I Believe in Harvey Dent

Jelly Pinched Wolf   3:38 PM
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19 July 2008
Stunned Beyond the Point of Stupefication
Will comment more later when I've had more time to digest, but for now let me say this:

We saw The Dark Knight last night. It may well be one of the most amazing films ever. It left me speechless.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:07 PM
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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
This will only be online through tomorrow, but if you can, go and watch NOW! It's the latest Joss Whedon creation, and is amazing. The ending's a bit, well, it kinda just stops, but it's still a terrific production. Both Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion are great. They're planning a dvd release, which we shall definitely be obtaining.

Thanks to Happy Catholic for finding this.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   12:40 PM
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18 July 2008
London 1888
In researching steampunk and Victorian stuff for the story I'm currently working on, I came across
this game. Looks really cool (after all, a Clue-meets-Jack the Ripper scenario has to be instantly cool), but alas, it seems to only be in French at the moment. Hopefully the purported forthcoming English version will actually be forthcoming soon.

Via Brass Goggles
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:53 AM
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The Spirit

All I have to say is that I'm terribly excited about this. Setting aside all the Frank Miller stuff (although the look of the things really is amazing), it's just great someone's finally made a movie based on one of the most foundational works in the comics medium. Definitely one to look forward to.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:41 AM
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17 July 2008
I just got news from one of my AP kids from this past year that he scored a 5 on the AP English Language and Composition Exam. I'm so thrilled--not only because at least one of them made a 5 (I think I was mostly worried because it was my first year teaching AP, so I was never sure how well I was preparing them), but because this particular student did so well. He's the one student I prayed would get at least a 4 or 5 (although I certainly hoped they all would), mostly because I felt it would be something of a coup. He's very bright and has a terrific sense of argumentation, but he had a tendency to complexify his writing far more than it needed to be, which often made it inscrutable. It's something we worked on all year, and he definitely improved--well, obviously he has, as his score can attest. kashi and I have talked about this problem, actually. It seems the really smart kids think they need to use the big words and complex language to really be effective, when often simpler and more straightforward is better. There's a reason that clarity is the first of the Universal Intellectual Standards, after all. You can't be persuasive if your reader has no idea what you're trying to say.

Well, this one certainly did me proud. I can only hope the rest of the class has also done well. They're a good group, and it'll be great to see. Not to mention the confidence boost it'll give me since I'll have a good majority of them again next year for Senior AP.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:55 PM
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14 July 2008
So, I started this poem back a while for kashi, but had hit a wall until just recently. I'm not sure of its quality (I've been a little out of practice with the writing of poetry and thus find myself a bit lacking in confidence), but kashi likes it, and really, that's all that matters. No title yet, as that's always the part what takes forever, but here you go.

And by this star I ship my heart.
And by this parchment existence
I roar like her watery depths.
And by this constant melody
I sound my quiet devotion.

Fallen hours echo in brittle seasons,
Scoured by the dismay of broken icons
For estranged deities. But this Passion's
Word revests the lost roots of my design
By chanted avowal and bounden blood.

You are my soul's first and last syllable.
What utterance I can, I sing for you.
Between song and sense, breath and nascent grasp,
In the cadence of dream and wiles of art,
These notes of grace conduct this artless plight.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:06 PM
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09 July 2008
Just pray, hard and often. If
this comes to pass, it would more wonderful than I can possibly say. Being a part of an Anglican Use parish myself, there are ways of making this happen. We just have to hope.

Via Holy Whapping
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:43 AM
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08 July 2008
Also on Sunday we took in the new Will Smith movie, Hancock.

There's been some serious negative reactions to the film, which I must say I just don't get. It's a well-put together and fun movie that delivers plenty of happifying explosions, good humour, and a really satisfying ending. Yes, all ye complainers--I found the ending satisfying. I hear all this talk about the unexpected twist, and yet it's only unexpected if you have absolutely no powers of observation. The hints are dropped like a stack of two-by-fours, and the conclusions about what's behind it are an easy few steps away. The specific background details that are revealed are not obvious (which is good, because then it'd be lame), but otherwise, it ought to surprise no one. What I particularly like about the reveal and the ending is that it doesn't spell out everything, but leaves some terrific implications behind.

Was it great art? No, of course not. Nor does it try to be--or need to be, for that matter. It is what it is--an enjoyable (and even rather thoughtful at times) summer movie.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:12 AM
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Apparently, we have no control over our desire to acquire new feline members of the family. As of this past Sunday, we adopted a new kitten because it seemed our 1-year old, Anathema, really needed a tiny friend to play with (especially since her continual attempts to jump on Luna, our older cat, have met with nothing but squalling and fleeing). Alas, Anathema is slow to warm to the new tyke, but I think it's just a matter of time.

We've named the new kitten Artemis, since she's already demonstrated she's fearless and will attack anything. (I really wanted to name her Starbuck, but alas, it was not meant to be.) She's a gorgeous tawny Abyssinian (mixed, I think) bobtail. Beautiful colouring, and sweet as can be. Someday, we shall have a sprawling house, with much land, and can feed this little addiction properly....

Anyway, here's a photo of the 12-week old little one:

Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:59 AM
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03 July 2008
Poetry Break
While putting together selections of stories and poetry for my Senior AP class, I happened upon the following two poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson. I've always rather admired Robinson for his sense of the ironic, but the first of these two poems, "New England," really hits home. This is the atmosphere I grew up in--where "reserve" is the nicest word one can apply to the kind off coolness that New England society breeds. As for the second poem, well, it's about the Flying Dutchman--that's just inherently cool.

Edwin Arlington Robinson - "New England"
Here where the wind is always north-north-east
And children learn to walk on frozen toes,
Wonder begets an envy of all those
Who boil elsewhere with such a lyric yeast
Of love that you will hear them at a feast
Where demons would appeal for some repose,
Still clamoring where the chalice overflows
And crying wildest who have drunk the least.

Passion is here a soilure of the wits,
We're told, and Love a cross for them to bear;
Joy shivers in the corner where she knits
And Conscience always has the rocking-chair,
Cheerful as when she tortured into fits
The first cat that was ever killed by Care.

Edwin Arlington Robinson - "The Flying Dutchman"
UNYIELDING in the pride of his defiance,
Afloat with none to serve or to command,
Lord of himself at last, and all by Science,
He seeks the Vanished Land.

Alone, by the one light of his one thought,
He steers to find the shore from which we came,
Fearless of in what coil he may be caught
On seas that have no name.

Into the night he sails; and after night
There is a dawning, though there be no sun;
Wherefore, with nothing but himself in sight,
Unsighted, he sails on.

At last there is a lifting of the cloud
Between the flood before him and the sky;
And then--though he may curse the Power aloud
That has no power to die--

He steers himself away from what is haunted
By the old ghost of what has been before,--
Abandoning, as always, and undaunted,
One fog-walled island more.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:04 PM
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02 July 2008
WALL-E Redux
Since I was actually physically incapable of saying much about the film, I point you toward James Lileks' incredibly astute, spot-on review:

The Bleat

In addition, he is today responding to the "fallout," email responses to his review from people who are far too caught up in their own politics to enjoy one of the finest films in, well, ever. He says:
Look: it’s a pro-human movie. Really. That’s the point of it all, wrapped up in metaphor and parable and satire. If it is impossible to even lampoon consumer culture as a force that invites a loose, agreeable, consensual form of collectivism – one that distracts people from more pressing matters occasionally - then we’re getting entirely too touchy. Besides, all the conservative critiques of contemporary culture can be found in the movie, if you look for them – the culture of the humans in the future is infantile, sensational, oral, banal. People who bitch about network TV ought to love this, because the culture 700 years hence is the logical end result of the idiot stew pumped out by the networks.

What kashi and I have been talking about for several days now is that the issues this film raises (which are only bloody tangential to its main point anyway) are moral issues, not political ones. The environmental stuff in the film is the set-up for the story, not the point of the story. You want to create a situation with a lonely robot as the last creature on the planet after humanity makes a mass exodus? Well, turning the planet into a garbage heap's a darn good way. Consumerism? Look, we've been materialistic since the nineteenth century at least. Melville criticises it Moby Dick. That great conservative of the twentieth century, T.S. Eliot, criticised it relentlessly. And suddenly now it's the "out" thing for a conservative to do? Right. Anyone who knows me or has heard me rant about that pathetic and lame excuse for a novel Ishmael that our school had as summer reading a couple years ago knows that I am no fan of the environmentalist agenda. That said, we are supposed to be stewards of the earth. Thus we are to use its bounty to the best of our abilities and needs, but not trash the place in the process. Eliot's Waste Land was mostly spiritual and cultural, but it was physical, too. The land did not not breed life anymore. And Prufrock's "yellow fog" was not a mere trick of the light, my friends. Can you guess what that might have been? Artists have nearly always been politically motivated in some way, especially in the twentieth century. If I couldn't separate a message in a work of art from the work itself, I'd never watch another film or listen to music again. I mean, Green Day has some of the most atrociously liberal (heck, anarchic for that matter) lyrics, but at the same time they make good music (well, now they do--they've grown a lot in the last decade). Point being, there is a difference between what the work of art is, and what the artist may or may not be trying to say. Learn to tell the difference.

So, yeah, people just need to get off their dead horses and learn to enjoy something that is beautiful--a story that is about individuals (robot and human) making a connection with each other and learning to act for themselves instead of just waiting around for everything to come to them.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:37 AM
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01 July 2008
Visual Stimuli
Now that I'm back on something more akin to a vacation-like schedule, I figured it was about time to get on with catching-up.

To begin with, the biggest addiction ever: Battlestar Galactica. I remember the original series from my youth as fun and exciting, but it's got nothing on the new series. I'd been hesitant to watch it at all because the ads I'd seen really did not do it justice. But when one of kashi's co-workers lent her the first season, we decided to give it a shot, and were pretty much hooked right away. First of all--very little pseudo-science. Much like the excellent Firefly, Galactica goes for a more gritty, realistic approach in telling good stories about textured, interesting characters. And there's some darn good action, as well, which never hurts. We've made it through the first three seasons, and will now, alas, have to wait for the current season to hit dvd so we can find out what happens. Definitely a worthwhile show (and since it comes from the Sci-Fi Channel, something of a miracle, given their track record). Also, it gave us the usage (as I mentioned previously somewhere) of the neologism "frak." We thought it silly and cheesy at first (which it is), but it quickly became addictive. It's nice having an inoffensive, non-curse word substitute for curse words--especially since it is silly, which reduces the anger factor which seems to be one of the major problems with cursing in the first place. For me, anyway.

Okay, end digression.

We did not get to see many movies during the year, but the ones we did were mostly excellent, with one exception.

I Am Legend

Though radically different from the novel in several ways (which annoys the purists to no end), the new film version of the Richard Matheson novel (and the only version to keep the novel's title) is pure excellence. kashi and I screened it before I took my Horror Lit class to view it, and though the suspense was a bit much for kashi, I absolutely adored it, and found that subsequent viewing improved it. To begin with, it tells a beautiful, affecting story while using good elements of horror and never once straying into the destructive land of most zombie movies and abominations like Saw. Brilliant economy of storytelling throughout, but especially in the opening with an immediate cut from the setup to the after effects--no time at all is wasted in showing the fallout of man's overwhelming pride in believing he can fix everything, because it's unnecessary. The process of apocalypse is unnecessary if the results are clear enough--and the hauntingly barren New York streets and skyline are quite clear. Will Smith continues to prove that he can be a powerful performer, mostly because he's so darn human, and so very earnest in his portrayal of characters. One of the things I didn't care for in the novel (though it wasn't a big issue) and I suspect the naysayers about the movie did approve of was the rather dispassionate qualities of the character, and the narrative for that matter. It's a stoic, bleak world, and an even more bleak ending. What I liked about this film was that it managed to be tragic yet still hopeful. Life will out, this movie says. We can be saved, if we have faith. I suppose that view isn't modern enough for the purists. And the novel is very modern (though let me be clear--it is an excellent novel, just not brimming with hope for humanity). On the other hand, there's an alternate ending to the film which is in fact too hopeful--very Hollywood, very cheesy, very lame. The filmmakers chose well in not using this ending. In the end, the film gives me hope that good horror can still be made.


The opening sequence of this film (and several other smaller bits throughout) was the first major production using traditional, hand-drawn animation in some years, and thus we were obligated to see it (having an animator as a wife comes with certain rules, and since those rules involve watching movies, one can hardly complain about one's lot in life). First, the animation (which was done by
James Baxter, who's done amazing work for both Disney and Dreamworks) is absolutely gorgeous. To all the harbingers of the demise of 2D animation out there: this is proof of just how absolutely wrong you are. And then the live-action portion of the movie is both delightful and infinitely rewatchable. One of my favourite aspects is that the current girlfriend of the male protagonist (who, of course, must be displaced by our herione according to romance plot rules) is not an unlikable harpy who gets her comeuppance in the end. She is, in fact, a decent and strong woman in her own right, and merely not the person for our hero. Much of the film is an homage to the classic Disney tropes, and so in that may be considered cliché, but otherwise it avoids the usual egregious clichés it might have fallen into. A great film all around.


And then, we have a wretched, wretched mistake. I think I can even avoid going on and on complaining how this movie is not like the poem, that it strays from the story too far. Well, I could go on and on, but that aspect is so obvious, it doesn't need mentioning. And as can be seen above, I'm not so much of a purist that I don't understand some changes need to be made in adapting a work. The problem for me is the choices they made in adapting, the story they chose to tell, which is flawed and horrible and wrong. Our culture needs more heroes today. It does not need to see the hero demythologised as a thoughtless, lying brute who is a slave to his hormones. We do not need to be led to believe that humans are terrible people who can't actually commit truly heroic actions and that monsters may not really be all that monstrous, but merely misunderstood victims. Even all of this aside, the movie simply was wretched to look at. Robert Zemeckis again proves he's fallen a far way off from the brilliance he demonstrated with Back to the Future by giving us lousy, wooden, zombie-like performances through mo-cap, which should be used for little else besides video game production unless you've got a team of highly skilled animators to flesh out the motion and make it flow. The dragon was very well done, I admit, but then that was pure animation, not a reliance on mo-cap. Ultimately, this was a throroughly disappointing piece of dreck created by people who don't seem to believe in much beyond the baser, more primal instincts of humanity.

And there you have it. The visual year as far as my experience covered it.

Next chance I get to expound upon anything at length will likely be a discourse on why William Faulkner is the greatest author after Shakespeare.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:17 AM
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Well Said
Really interesting thoughts on female altar servers over at
Aliens in This World. I love it when people do research and present these sort of ideas logically and reasonably. It's so refreshing.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:02 AM
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