Egypt appointed its first female judge. The nation has now caught up to the early American twentieth century. Here's why:
Yup, those women's rights in Muslim countries just keep shooting forward. If this keeps up, they'll be in the 1950s by the end of the 21st century. permalink
The first Fiskie award is up, and you must go over there to see the cartoon. It's hilarious.
I am proud to say that I voted for the winner. permalink
Robin Goodfellow has his contribution up. As I was sound asleep when he posted it, I'm opening the blogburst to a second day. If any of you know of more Tolkien posts that should be noted, send me email.
Robin's essay is on why Middle Earth is such a draw to the modern-day minds, and he doesn't think it's because we yearn for simpler days.
Chris Newman has a new post up. I'll read it and summarize when I get back late tonight. (Maybe I'll write mine tonight, too. Sigh.)
Pontifex Ex Machina is having ftp problems, but his entry will be up (probably by the time you read this), and I have to wrap a birthday present and then leave, so I'll update the link later tonight.
Mac Thomason has a serious piece on the origins of the orcs, and whether or not Tolkien did right by them. (Souls? Ya think?)
Andrew Northrup's thoughts on the Two Towers are funnier than any of the parodies I've linked to so far.
Andrew Ian Dodge finally sent in his entry: Would the RPG industry exist if LOTR han't been written?
Here's a problem you'll probably never see on the SAT:
You are a Jewish woman. You used to live in the greater New York area, now you live in the greater Richmond area. You discover, to your chagrin, that it is extremely difficult to find Mallomars. You have just finished dinner and crave something chocolatey for dessert. Do you choose:
If you chose anything but number four, you are neither Jewish nor female, and you don't live in Richmond, either.
[great big sigh of contentment] Mallomars. The Jewish lembas. permalink
My Tolkien post is in the spike file at the moment, because it sucks. But I was wandering around checking out some other weblogs, and if Bigwig isn't too mad at me for supporting Lair instead of him in Michele's Most Intriguing Blogger poll, well, uhhey, Lair didn't win, either.
He's channeling Zod again, and a few other personalities. And I do believe congratulations are in order, as his wife is going to have another baby. (I assume it's Bigwig's.) Ngnat is going to have a sibling. Bigwig is going to get even less sleep. The blog should get more intriguing, then. And there's the serious side, of course. Bigwig displays Islamic hate speech right there in North Carolina. permalink
J.R.R. Tolkien would have been eleventy-one today, an age that all Tolkien fans know is the age that Bilbo Baggins turned in the first chapter of The Lord of the Rings. So we're throwing a Tolkien Blogburst to celebrate.
Mac Thomason has put Captain Euro into the Prancing Pony scene at Bree. Utterly hilarious.
Angie Schultz writes about the hobbits' return home, and the way they are treated by their own people, in an essay on the chapters that most people find anti-climactic and unnecessary. (They're not in the film.) As I was reading it, I was struck by the similarity to what happened to America's returning Vietnam vets. There are many, many levels to find in Middle Earth, apparently.
Scott at AMCGLTD has an essay on Western warfare, from Tolkien to World War Two, and the way battle is perceived in Western civilization and the rest of the world.
Andrea Harris has been writing so many Tolkien posts, she has her own page of them. Pick and choose, there are too many to describe. Her email mentions this one as having some interesting comments. Go and join the fun.
BloggerRabbit has a very funny bit on what television from Middle Earth might look like if Middle Earth had televisionincluding commercials.
The Philosphical Cowboy has some pictures from the town where Tolkien grew up. Hey, I think the possible Orthanc picture is a match.
Tom Paine, on why the West (that would be the U.S. and her allies) has the power of Saruman, but not the will to use it for evil.
Aeglos is still working on his, but he sent me to this hilarious parody of the film. (What is it with all the gay jokes, anyway? Can't a bunch of guys go on an adventure together without being gay? You'd think it was like, oh, an adventure series starring a woman warrior and her best friend.)
Alex Knapp chimes in with why a guy who hates fantasy loves Tolkien. (That's i before e, Alex.)
Dorothea's husband was the go-to guy for Elvish for the films. Read all about it from Dorothea, his drooling fangirl. (There's an article on him in the Chicago Tribune. Annoying registration required, so I haven't read it.) Dorothea also wrote this post on the phonaesthetics of fantasy, which includes her Law of Velar Villainy (it's really neat, go read it). I do believe I've found a match for Doc Weevil. Well, not that kind of match. A match in a linguistic, scholarly way. (Yeah, that'll drive them to click the link. Do it. It's fascinating.)
Hold on to your hats. I found a series of serious Tolkien essays by Alan Sullivan. Well, actually, he found us, but why quibble? Never let it be said that we don't strive for edification as well as petrification (see Sean, below).
Sean posted a really disgusting post entitled "The White Hand," and I am forced to rate it R for sexual content, and D for gross. Of course I realize that means that all of you will click that link immediately. Pervs. I may rate it A for annoying, as well. Damn, Sean.
Mine will be up later. If you write something, or wrote something, and want it included, email me. Update: I'm heading to bed. Anyone else wants in, they're going to have to wait until tomorrow. permalink
Go take a look at Chris Newman's review of The Two Towers, which also disses Roger Ebert's review.
Funny. Very funny, all of it. permalink
Chris Newman's pal Jeff Silver started a weblog. Oh, sure, just what we need, another lawyer's p.o.v. Well, of course we do. There's more than enough room in the blogosphere. Here's part of what he has to say about the recent outcry that the U.S. may be torturing terrorism suspects:
Hey, any friend of Chris' is a friend of mine. Welcome, Jeff. Might I make a couple of suggestions? Number one, get your permalinks working and republish your archives. Two, choose a wider table cell to work in. Those long strip designs are a pain in the butt for reading. Three, email Instapundit. I hear he's a lawyer, too. He might link. permalink
J.R.R. Tolkien would be eleventy-one tomorrow, if he hadn't already died. Pity. But in honor of his eleventy-first birthday, a few of us are throwing a Tolkien Blogburst party. I'll have the URLs to various Tolkien posts up later tonight, with more being added tomorrow.
If you're a Tolkien fan and you want in, write something decent, post it, and send me the URL. permalink
Reign of Fire was the second of the sucky movies we were supposed to watch New Year's Eve. I saw it last night. Here's a summary:
The plot: In the future, dragons rule the earth. And they caused the extinction of the dinosaurs! Because they burned them all up and ate the ash, you see. Ash, I suppose, being easier to digest than brontosaurus. They weren't too clear on the pseudoscience, but as always, it's great for a giggle. I get the feeling the writers said, "But what's their motivation? Why do the dragons want to burn everything, anyway?" And one of them said, "Waitaminute! I've got it!" as the ash of his cigarette dropped onto his lap.
So there's this cute British guy with a great accent whose mother woke up the male dragon, who did not eat him but stopped to kill his mother before burning up the construction site. And yet, the site was in remarkably good condition later in the film when Quinn [not known as, but should be known as, "the mighty"] went back for that one-on-one showdown with the villain. With a crossbow, no less. I kid you not. Well, hey, the guy strips mighty nice and probably cleans up well, so I liked him. Matthew McConaMcConauhey, dude, change your name to something we can spell!
Matthew McConaughey, on the other hand, was a hoot. He was a tough guy. You could tell, because he chewed a half-smoked cigar but never smoked it. Plus he had a shaved head. Plus he had lots of tattoos. Plus he spoke in a low growl and had some kind of Midwestern or southern accent. Well, he stripped nicely, too, and I'm sure that the women in the audienceall four of themwere wishing he'd keep his shirt off, or at least dump the smelly cigar stub.
So, if you swallow the plot, this male dragon gets awakened and then proceeds to fertilize the eggs of a bunch of female dragons, though they weren't quite clear on where these females and their eggs were. Perhaps hiding as Stonehenge or the Easter Island heads. Those Easter Island heads are kinda egg-like, don't you think? Well. Then, these dragons burn down the planet, basically, and destroy most of humankind. Even our nukes aren't enough to stop them. Because, well, they fly really fast and they breathe fire, so, like, a platoon of American Marines probably couldn't do squat to them. Uh-huh. Well, if they're soldiers as stupid as the ones in the remake of Godzilla, who were flying in helicopters and were too stupid to go up to get away from the monster. ("I can't shake him!" said the pilot. "Fly up, you asshole!" said every member of the audience.)
Well, the American guy joins the British guy, the usual hijinks ensue, and of course everyone except the two leaders and the girl die (well, the kids don't die, but you can't bring eight-year-olds to a post-Apocalyptic London and use them as dragon fodderI think it's against the MPAA). So they go to London, sneaking up on the dragon by flying in a noisy helicopter, and then they get to see hundreds of dragons reduced to just the male, because they start eating their own. Because they're hungry, you see. They've eaten most of the 6 billion humans on the earth, these few thousand dragons worldwide. Almost nothing left. So this hollow plot device leaves only the male dragon to face Our Heroes, which, of course, he does. Because he's smart in one scene, but then Denton Van Zan (hey, I didn't make these names up), the American Irregular Soldier, says the dragon can't count to three in another scene. I'm not so sure about that, but I'm pretty sure that the Van Zan guy can't get past ten. And, um, question? Howcome the dragon had holes in its wings, and howcome it could still fly with them in it? Or am I not supposed to ask?
Anyway. Of course, the hero wins. Heroically. Of course Van Zan dies. Heroically. Of course Quinn gets the girl, but she doesn't strip at all, thus disappointing every male member of the audience. Oops. Didn't mean it quite that way.
This is actually turning out to be rather fun. I may rent really bad movies just so I can knock them in my weblog. I'm so looking forward to "The Core." I saw previews. Apparently, the earth's core stops moving or something, and it screws up the tectonic plates and the earth's orbit. Coming this summer. Can't wait. permalink
It's been quite a year for me. I've changed jobs, I've changed states, I've spent more time on this weblog than I have on anything else I can think of. But it's paying off. Things are happening. Good things.
For those of you who haven't been around the full yearand I know there are many of you, as my traffic stats from December 2001 were (hold your breath, now) an astonishing 67 visitors per day, as opposed to about 15 times the traffic per day todayI thought I'd present a look back at what I think were my best, most interesting, most important, or funniest posts of the year. (Yes, that means I read back over a year's worth of archives. This was a lot easier in 2001. I think I also wrote shorter sentences back then, but I wouldn't place a bet on that.)
But hey, it's already the second day of the new year, so this is late. Click and read if you like. If I had to choose three, it would be Sober, any of my Hulk posts, and Yes, I am a Jew. But I can't choose three. So here are some more.
Sober: Answering the email cranks
Reading between the lies: Answering Anil Dash re: the LGF hate-site label
Lies that Harvard told us: The Harvard divestment petition
I'm feeling snarky today: Making fun of the Arab News
Jews for Allah (really!)
Living with uncertainty
Just thought you'd be interested
The day this weblog changed, and other posts on Judaism, Israel, and terrorism
Start at the bottom and read your way to the top. Then read Yes, I am a Jew. From that point forward, events in and about Israel became an integral part of this weblog. But the true turning points were during the week of the Passover Massacre. Read this one, then scroll up.
And if that isn't enough for you, just keep on reading the archives. Oh, and there's always Cattales. Four months shy of two years' writing. Yeesh. I wonder how many words there are.... I wonder if I could write a program to count them. Hm. permalink
If you study animal life long enough, you can determine the whys and wherefores of their behavior. This I have learned over a lifetime of owning cats and watching other people's cats and dogs, although I must admit that I have a lower opinion of the behavior of most other people's cats and dogs than I do of, say, my cats and Heidi's dogs. And it's not just because ours are so well-behaved. It's because yours are not.
On New Year's Eve, the behavior before, during, and after the Sucky Movie Not-Quite-Marathon (see below), was an exercise in futility. For the humans, of course.
Exhibit one: Worf and Willow in front of the fireplace, although shortly after I arrived, they were lying down near-comatose, and Worf was sulking because Heidi had walked Sparty and Willow numerous times during the day, and had only taken him for a run once. Lest you think I was exaggerating, Worf did not join us for the Sucky Movie Not-Quite-Marathon (I said see below), although it is entirely possible that he'd already heard about how bad "The Time Machine" was and didn't want to subject himself to such a lousy movie.
So Heidi, G., and I started to watch the movie, with a very skeptical Sorena in the room, who left shortly after the death of the Time Traveler's fiancée, frowning with displeasure until I put "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in the DVD player of my laptop and set it up for her to watch. (She's also furious with us for making her see "Star Trek: Nemesis", not because it was bad, but because of the violence and death and all-around scariness-to-nine-year-olds in the movie, which we did not warn her about. In our defense, we didn't think it would scare her, what with her having been a fan of the TV show since she was a toddler.) So there Heidi and I have the sofa all to ourselves and the laundry, which is more than room enough. Except after a while, Willow came into the room and tried to get on the sofa, which I didn't exactly discourage until she tried to get into my lap. Seventy five pounds of Rhodesian Ridgeback is about 75 pounds more than I ever want in my lap. I refused. She found a spot between Heidi and me, settled down to hope for popcorn, and not watch the movie (I think Worf told her that it was a really sucky one and her best bet was to hope for popcorn and ignore the film).
To review: The sofa is big enough for me, Willow, Heidi, and the laundry she was sorting. So we were still fine. (Well, except the movie still sucked.) But we were fine until the end of the movie, when Worf left his spot in front of the fireplace to see what was going on in the TV room. Hey, he said to himself, if Willow's up on the sofa, I'll get up there, too. "No," I said. "Get down. Worf, get off of me." Worf is bigger than Willow. Twenty-five pounds bigger, at least. He tried to sit on my lap. I tried to push him down on the floor. He tried to sit in my lap, not even noticing that I was using force against him. It was at that point I vacated the sofa. Worf wanted to lie down, but Willow wasn't moving from her spot, so he did this. (left) That's right, he sat on Willow. It wasn't enough to put his heavy ass on me, he figured he'd push her out of the way. There's still room for Heidi in this picture, and even a little laundry, but that won't last much longer. Because after he managed to claim part of the sofa, Heidi vacated as well, leading to this (right).
Notice that Worf's butt has slipped down somewhat, although he's still completely oblivous to sitting on Willow, who is also completely oblivious to being sat on by her brother. Now, I have been sat on by my brothers at various points in my life, most notably when we were either wrestling in play or fighting for real, and I must comment that it is not something to which one is normally oblivious, and it leads mepainfullyto believe that Willow may, in fact, be dumber than she looks. Especially since her brother weighs at the very least 25% more than she, and perhaps 35% more (G. insists that Willow is only 65 pounds, not 75, but since neither he nor Willow have been on a scale in quite some time, I'm a bit skeptical both that he is correct about Willow and that he has any judgment of how heavy something is, because man, have you seen yourself at the end of this holiday season?). But I digress.
There is yet another picture, but I hesitate to publish it, because there is an Aphorism Pillow involved, and I wasn't the one that put it there, although I am the one who feels nauseated by it whenever I see it (aphorisms have a really bad effect on me, especially if they're really bad aphorisms, and this one has effing angels in it). Let me take a vote: How many of you out there want to see the effing aphorism picture?
Goddammit. I really hate my readers sometimes.
Fine. Don't tell me you can't read the pillow. Of course you can't read the pillow; pillows aren't books. And if you insist on making me, I will tell you that the words on the pillow say "Friends Are Angels In Disguise" and I think it also says "Merry Christmas" and no, I did not give it to Heidi and G. I gave them the chicken-on-the-pig's back salt-and-pepper shakers because I saw them at Wal-Mart on the night before Christmas Eve and they were too hideous not to share, and perhaps I should get a picture of them and share it with all of you. It is a fact of life that some things are too hideous not to share. All of you should also rent and watch the remake of "The Time Machine." Misery loves company. Anyway. To get back to the dogs. This picture is actually supposed to be between the first two, because G. made me take a picture with the pillow in it, and I didn't want to, but I got the feeling that they'd make me drive home after midnight on New Year's Eve instead of sleeping over if I didn't. So there, there's your stupid aphorism pillow picture, G., and don't be expecting anything nice for your birthday next week.
This is Worf. That is my sweatshirt in his mouth. That is also Worf's devilish expression. What he is actually doing in this photo, which was taken shortly after he snuck into my room and stole my sweatshirt, was tempting me to chase him. If I am foolish enough to leave out either my sneakers or an article of clothing or something that belongs to me and is of a size that a dog can get its mouth around, Worf will steal it, run up to me, stand out of arm's reach and wait for me to say, "Worf! Drop it!" Then he will turn and run away with my sweatshirt/sneaker/article of clothing and/or any other thing that he has stolen that he's not supposed to have in his mouth.
He really likes being chased. It's a favorite game of Ridgebacks, and you don't have to work too hard to get them to play it. However, I like my sweatshirts and sneakers and various other items without dog-tooth-shaped holes in them. So I generally relieve Worf of the article. (He used to steal Sorena's favorite soft dolls and stuffed animals, and Heidi and I would be sitting at the table chatting away when we'd suddenly hear a wail from Sorena: "Mo-om! Worf has my dolly!" and tears would flow until we chased the dog and relieved him of his stolen treasure. Which was all he wanted, anywayto be chased.)
But to the behavior, so that I can make my point and end this lengthy post: You see, all the sleeping in front of the fireplace and then the auxiliary sleeping on the sofa wasn't just normal dogs-sleep-the-day away activity. It was the extra-special sleep, so that Worf could store up the energy to get me to chase him after midnight on New Year's Eve. Because it was just that important to him. And because it wouldn't be a visit if he didn't devil me at least once.
So I obliged him. What the hey, I spent New Year's Eve watching sucky movies and the Red Green Show's New Year's Eve special (hilarious). I didn't have a lot to drink, unlike some bloggers I could name. I didn't have any trouble running around after Worf. Once I got my sweatshirt away from him, that is. permalink
It wasn't a marathon after all, but we did watch the remake of The Time Machine. Wow, did it suck. Simon Wells has single-handledly made me change my mind about the length of copyright (currently life of the author plus 75 years). If ever I have an heir that screws up something I wrote as badly as Wells' great-grandson, then screw my heirs, they aren't getting a dime. Heidi said that obviously, since Wells has some of H.G. Wells' DNA, he felt that gave him the right to screw with the story. I think it may also be due to the fact that Time Machine was the first of his directorial efforts that wasn't a cartoon. (And two of those cartoons were sequels; obviously, genes don't necessarily pass on talent.)
One of an old friend's favorite lines to say during bad television shows or movies is, "I could write this shit." It's generally said after you speak the line before the character in the show does. Well, I taught it to Heidi and G. last night.
How much did the film suck? Well, there was a time machine in it, and a time traveler, and Morlocks and Eloi. Just like in the book. The similarities stop there. But not the stupidities.
In the movie, the Eloi could speak English. So could the Morlocks. There was a truly annoying computer hologram that was made even more annoying by constantly going out of focuseven before the computer was 800,000 years old (must not have been Microsoft software, no way could Windows last that long without freezing up). And just in case you weren't annoyed enough by that, the computer had an attitude that made you want to find the off switch.
There was a pointless scene from the future where the moon broke into pieces and tumbled out of its orbit, of course landing on earth. (When Alexander winds up in Eloi/Morlock time, the moon is a string of rocks and rubble in the sky. Sorta made me think of The Tick cartoon, after they shot a chunk out of the moon.) There is a also pointless quest, now. It is not enough to travel through time because of the draw of, well, traveling through timethey had to give Alexander a reason. So they had him ask his girlfriend to marry him, then killed her off. Then they killed her again after he created the time machine and went back in time to make sure she wasn't killed by a mugger (the second time she was run over by one of those newfangled automobiles). Now Alexander's quest is to find out why he can't change the past. He learns it from the Super Morlock, whose name we never did get, but whom Alexander beats in a fight even though Super Morlock kicked his ass the moment they met. Oh. The answer is, "Because if your woman never died, you'd never have invented the time machine." Ohhhhhh! Now I get it. Not only was she there to give him a reason to travel in time, she was there to give him a reason to travel in time. Just in case we didn't get what they were trying to tell us.
The absolute kicker to the film was when, after having dispatched Super Morlock (who really looked like one of the albino Winter twins until he turned around and showed you his exoskeletal back ridge, after which he just looked yucky), Our Hero decides he's going to Save The Future. He does this bywait for itjamming his pocket watch into the time machine, which somehow causes the machine to explode, which somehow causes these waves of disintegration to fan out from the time machine and manage to catch only the Morlocks. No Eloi were harmed during the making of this explosion. So, like, in case you haven't gotten the point, he used time to save the future. Get it? Get it? Deep, man. (Say, pass me another one of those [censored] and put on Edgar Winter's Frankenstein, man, will you?)
And Our Hero gets to stay with the Eloi, the annoying computer, and the pretty lady in the skimpy clothing and live happily ever after, rebuilding society, so in a few hundred years, I guess, someone else can build another time machine and we can have another really sucky movie. Well, if Simon Wells has a great-grandson who does as horrible a job at films as he does.
I guess the good news is none of us will be around to see it. Unless someone comes back in a time machine and brings us to the future and makes us watch it. Wow. One would hope that they'd outlaw torture in the future, but one never knows. permalink
Tobacco Road Fogey takes issue both with David Mamet's charges of Clancy's anti-Semitism, and with my acceptance of those charges without having read the books. So does Gary Utter, who sent me the following letter:
I wouldn't know about legal grounds to sue, but I do know that I don't blow off comments like Gary's. Folks, you shouldn't assume that just because I may disagree with you, your email gets relegated to the trash bin. I am perfectly willing to accept that I may beperhapsjust might be wrong about something. (Yes, that was kidding. Regular readers know that I'm not one of those bloggers who bulls ahead pretending she's never wrong.)
Of course, I'm really not wrong about not wanting to read Clancy's novels. They're not my cup of tea, and since I have yet to read one, I don't think I'm going to start now. But I'm not only willing, but happy to find out that Mamet is misinterpreting his work.
And on a similar topic (thanks for bringing it up, Gary, I've been meaning to write about this for a while, and don't take it personally, as it's directed at many correspondents):
Don't assume things I haven't said. A while back, someone sent me email about linking to his weblog, and I'd had a busy week or two, and didn't get back to him after our first correspondence. When I finally went to look around his weblog for something to link, I found a nasty post that included my private email, and was also about how mean I was for ignoring him. Uh, yeah. I have no life, therefore since I didn't answer his email promptly, I was ignoring him. I didn't link after all. I'm not so nice a person that I'll link to someone being nasty to me. It's rather hard to make new friends when you're insulting them. Something to think about for the future.
I'm not saying I'm going to publish every dissenting letter I receive. If I were going to do that, this weblog would have comments. Although, come to think of it, I could see putting up a letters page on a regular basis, like Sullivan does. Hm. Something to think about for the new year. Double hm. Triple hm.
I like that idea. Coming soon, a regular feature of yourish.com: Letters Day. permalink
Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.