Thursday, November 30, 2006
We trimmed our tree today, though it was a bit early for us, and we had our traditional wassail. We do this the easy way: Warm apple cider on the stove with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and float lemon and orange slices in it. Yummy!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
I had never read this tragic story by Thomas Hardy before but read it for the BritishClassics online reading group at yahoogroups. The full name of the novel is The Life and Death of The Mayor of Casterbridge: A Story of a Man of Character. Wikipedia has a page on the book, which includes some background information and links to study guides. The book itself is in the public domain and is readily available online at online-literature.com, classicreader.com, worldwideschool.org, the University of Adelaide Library and numerous other sources. VictorianWeb's coverage of Hardy, his life and works is comprehensive. The Thomas Hardy Resource Library has links to texts online, a timeline of his life and much other information.
I've read that Hardy was a poet first and foremost and only wrote novels as finances demanded, and this book is permeated with poetic imagery. I enjoyed the reading and look forward to the book discussion.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I am grateful for my Methodist upbringing. I am grateful for this church. I watch with great interest and appreciation those of you who struggle to make the decisions that will govern us for the next four years. And I appreciate that you are grasping with the hard issues; being willing to debate and discuss what needs to be done. And I would hope that many of us, not only members of this church, but all people of faith, would say we have so much in common that we can do, and summon our energy on behalf, first and foremost, of our children. If we were to do that, I know we would see changes before our very eyes. And that the church you serve and that has served us, would continue to grow because it was serving the world, living out the gospel, and being a servant for those who need to hear that message.
With that in mind, I thank you for keeping alive the Methodist traditions and teachings; for helping to awaken and strengthen the spirit and faith of men, women, and children; and for helping all of us to have courage in the face of change, to be willing to struggle forward doing what we can individually, and to make common cause with others who believe that we are called, both for personal salvation, but also for the work we must do in this world. Thank you very, very much.
1 O Lord, remember in David’s favor all the hardships he endured;
2 how he swore to the Lord and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
6 We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.”
8 Rise up, O Lord, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy.
10 For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons also, forevermore, shall sit on your throne.”
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:
14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless its provisions; I will satisfy its poor with bread.
16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation, and its faithful will shout for joy.
17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace, but on him, his crown will gleam.”
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Just 40 years after a famous TIME magazine cover asked "Is God Dead?" the answer appears to be a resounding "No!" According to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine, "God is Winning". Religions are increasingly a geopolitical force to be reckoned with. Fundamentalist movements - some violent in the extreme - are growing. Science and religion are at odds in the classrooms and courtrooms. And a return to religious values is widely touted as an antidote to the alleged decline in public morality. After two centuries, could this be twilight for the Enlightenment project and the beginning of a new age of unreason? Will faith and dogma trump rational inquiry, or will it be possible to reconcile religious and scientific worldviews? Can evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience help us to better understand how we construct beliefs, and experience empathy, fear and awe? Can science help us create a new rational narrative as poetic and powerful as those that have traditionally sustained societies? Can we treat religion as a natural phenomenon? Can we be good without God? And if not God, then what?
This is a critical moment in the human situation, and The Science Network in association with the Crick-Jacobs Center brought together an extraordinary group of scientists and philosophers to explore answers to these questions. The conversation took place at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA from November 5-7, 2006.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Shrek is one film where everything works near perfectly in terms of humour, characters, visual invention, artistic quality and plain all-out enjoyment.
Roger Ebert says
This is not your average family cartoon. "Shrek" is jolly and wicked, filled with sly in-jokes and yet somehow possessing a heart.
Hollywood Jesus has reviews with lots of still shots. The New York Times reviews it here.
This was The Husband's choice tonight for entertainment while making pizza.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Psalm 126 (NRSV)
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves
The picture is an e-card from Dover Publications.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
1001Flicks has a review.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
While working at the music and neuroimaging lab at Beth Israel/Harvard Medical School in Boston, I developed a quick online way to screen for the tonedeafness. It actually turned out to be a pretty good test to check for overall pitch perception ability. The test is purposefully made very hard, so excellent musicians rarely score above 80% correct.
Give it a try!
My score: 80.6% Correct
The site says results can be interpreted this way:
Greater than 90% correct: World-class musical abilities
Greater than 75% correct: Excellent musical abilities
Greater than 60% correct: Good musical abilities
Less than 50% correct: You may have a pitch perception deficit
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Charade is a treat.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Jack Palance died Friday of natural causes at the age of 87. MSNBC coverage is here. The Reuters report is here. I remember him best in 2 particular roles: 1) as the bad guy in Shane; 2) as Muscular Dystrophy in a segment for the Jerry Lewis telethon years ago that personified the disease as pure evil.
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help 6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Superman: The Movie is as good as it gets for a Superman movie except for a couple of personal issues. I prefer the George Reeves TV interpretation of Clark Kent to the Christopher Reeve version as the latter is just too clumsy for my taste, and I despise the poetry-in-motion flying sequence. #1 Son hadn't seen it before, though he'd seen many a Superman cartoon in addition to the Reeves TV serial.
Here's one of the old Superman cartoons "Terror on the Midway":
Here's a little clip of George Reeves' Superman breaking through a wall:
Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
NYTimes has a review.
Call it the Frankenstein of action thrillers, since it's stitched together out of pieces from better movies.
it emerges as an action film with rare intelligence and a considerable sense of humour.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Massimo Troisi starred as the postman in this his last film, dying at the age of 41 as filming was being completed.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Psalm 146 (KJV)
1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
9 The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
10 The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
I read Ship of Fools years ago and loved the book until the ending. For me the ending just kinda petered out, and I never looked for other books by Russo. I'm glad I rediscovered him.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Tonight we watched The Wolf Man, with Lon Chaney, Jr. in the title role. This is my favorite of the monster movies, which my hubbie hadn't realized until quite recently. Once he found out he went out and bought the DVD to replace our old VHS tape which we couldn't get to play on Halloween night. Claude Rains is priceless as always and is perfect as Sir John Talbot, father of the recently returned son who suffers under the tragic curse. Bela Lugosi puts in a fine performance as the gypsy fortune-teller. I love Maria Ouspenskaya as the old gypsy who tries to help Larry Talbot in his time of great need. She is also a bright spot in Love Affair, which I much prefer to the remake.
"The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Your suffering is over. Now you will find peace for eternity."
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: