Monday, August 30, 2004

Simpsons Eternal

"If you ever wonder if 'The Simpsons' will be around for another season, just look at how many (of its) executives have to pay alimony." Nancy Cartwright, who does the voice of Bart Simpson.

Brief

May get out of Kroger after this week. Will update later. Kids ripped modem out of wall and it's barely working.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Censorship of Birth of a Nation

Roger Ebert has good output this week. His review of Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid is pretty entertaining and his Movie Answer Man column has a good point about the NAACP's victory in stopping a showing of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation.

The second half of the film is clearly racist and I would oppose making it mandatory viewing at a film school. Yet, you can't get around the fact that this is one of the most important films ever made. Should we face the past or ignore it?

I can't make sense of the NAACP's position--were they afraid the Klan would use a silent movie nearly a century old for recruitment? It's hard for modern audiences to sit through black and white movies (I gave up trying to have students watch even a clip of something without color). I can't see a skinhead sitting an hour and a half through a silent film just to get to the start of the Klan storyline.

I own Birth of a Nation on DVD and have seen 27 of Griffith's estimated 490 films. Most are either border-line socialist or outright socialist--Griffith was far more to the left than any of his critics would believe. For the son of Jake Griffith, a confederate celebrity, he was more tolerant than would be expected. His friendship with the white supremacist President Woodrow Wilson ended primarily because of Griffith's more enlightened views (which granted isn't saying much--Wilson made Strom Thurmond look like Jesse Jackson). None of this makes him a wonderful person but I think the world could survive another showing of his most infamous movie.

Had Griffith hung on for another five years or so, it's certain that he would have one of the first directors blacklisted by the House UnAmerican Committee. I suspect this would have drastically altered his current perception. Does any of this justify the images of Birth of a Nation? Not at all, but it should make us consider the greater racism of Griffith's counterparts, few of which took any heat about it (Cecil DeMille's The Cheat [available from the Cincinnati Public Library] calls for the removal of minorities from society by any means necessary.)

As wrong and ugly as images of the second half of Birth of a Nation are, they're also almost laughable. The villainous leer and exaggerated facile expressions don't have the same effect on an audience as they did in 1916. Whatever you think of Griffith or the film, it shouldn't be used to justify censorship. If anything it could be used to show just how incompatible the Klan is to the modern world.
Gotta be Fake

I don't believe this picture is legit but it's pretty funny.
Flying Cars

We're 25 years from flying cars? Of course, back in the 50s, didn't they say we'd have a moon colony by 1999?

The book, The Wrong Stuff (available from the Cincinnati Public Library), lists several flying cars. Several actually flew, including one that was basically a flying air bag, but none were very practical. But who knows? I didn't expect cell phones to take off as quickly as they have.
Dead Wedding

In South Africa, a man shot his pregnant fiance then killed himself. They're still getting married.

As bizarre as this is, a few years back in Northern Kentucky, a man dead for two years was awarded a divorce from his widow. Let me see if I can google that up.

Update: Here's the story of the dead man's divorce. Hey, a new variation to the old joke: if a dead man divorces his wife in Kentucky, are they still brother and sister?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Moonbat

My last posting about odd Arthurian/Celtic legends drew a comment from our local junior high outcast. Okay, maybe he's so thin-skinned that after calling for the death of all Muslims, his heart was broken by one of my snide responses (although nothing I said was as harsh as "moonbat." Man, that smarts!)

But correct me if I'm wrong but I don't recall posting anything that could be remotely considered Marxist on this blog (or anywhere else for that matter). I see three posts about Celtic/Arthurian legends (two of which involve bestiality), the story about gamers wanting to date Lara Croft, rock-eaters, a new planet, a Manson family member parole hearing, a big alligator, the first day of classes, the longest English word, Ben Franklin, a language without words for numbers, and the list of the most challenged books.

I guess the last one could be considered political but is consideration about the size of an alligator liberal or conservative?

I shouldn't be too critical. The eighth grade is a tough year for kids. Cincy must need to blow off some steam after a hard day of gym class, algebra, and swirlies.
Arthurian Bestiality

Many stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are based on older Celtic legends. You might recognize a few elements in this tale of Sir Eliavres.

Eliavres was a magician as well as a knight and during the course of his adventures, he fell in love with King Arthur's niece, the beautiful Ysaive. Unfortunately Ysaive was already married to King Caradoc, the ruler of Vannes and Nantes. Using his magic, Eliavres made it so that whenever the royal couple started to couple, Eliavres took the king's place and substituted either a bitch, a sow, or a mare for Caradoc.

Eventually the queen gave birth to Prince Caradoc Briefbras who discovered the truth about his parentage. He told the king who understandably was somewhat upset. On threat of bloody death, King Caradoc forced Eliavres to publicly have sex with another bitch, sow, and mare. Each of these bestial encounters resulted in a pregnancy, with the bitch giving birth to a boy named Guinalot, the sow producing Tortain, and the mare Lorigal.

Again not much is said about the animal/children. I could see a movie with Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) playing Guinalot, again Jason Alexander as Tortain, and Patrick Warburton as Lorigal.

The funny thing is that many myths involve bestiality (with a god in the form of an animal) but the Welsh seem to have a knack for producing human children of animal mothers (Irish stories often leave the human/animal offspring in the form of the animal).

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I'm Moving Up

First the Hoax Museum found the idiot who created a web page to bemoan his virginity. Now it's got a seemingly legitimate poll that says gamers would rather date Lara Croft than a supermodel.

Not that I'd really want to date a supermodel either but to even think about dating a character in a computer game is beyond the definition of geek.

Of course, I'd date Thelma from Scooby Doo but that's an entirely different issue.
Mmmmm, Rocks

After working at Kroger, this actually looks good. (Via Hoax Museum)
Planet Krypton Discovered!

Well, not really. But they shouldn't call it a Super-Planet.
Manson Family Member Denied Parole

Van Houten denied parole for 15th time.

The only other time I've heard the name "Van Houten" is in The Simpsons. Bart's geeky friend Milhaus is named after Nixon. Does his last name come from the Manson family?
Deer-Eating Alligator

In case you've been awake at night worrying about this, Snopes has unearthed the truth about the giant alligator e-mail that's been making the rounds.

A six-foot alligator lives in the canals behind my parents' house. He doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Transsexual Bestial Incest
(Man, I'll get the hits now)

According to Welsh legends, there once lived a perverted young man named Gilfaethwy who happened to be the brother of the magical Gwydion fab Dôn. Gilfaethwy lusted after the beautiful Goewin, a footholder of King Math fab Mathonwy's court. Naturally footholders were required her to be virgins so Gilfaethwy got no satisfaction.

Ever the brotherly sort, Gwydion fab Dôn used his magic to spark a war between King Math and the national hero Pryderi over his magic pigs. Gwydion fab Don visited Pryderi and asked to trade 12 stallions and 12 greyhounds with gold collars and shields for the swine. Pryderi agreed so Gwydion fab Don hurried away, knowing the horses and dogs were magical constructs and would fade away after 48 hours.

Upon learning he'd been duped, Pryderi declared war on Math and while the king at battle, the two brothers took turns raping Goewin. With the war at a stalemate, the two sides agreed to a duel of single combat between Gwydion fab Don and Pryderi. Using his magic, Gwydion easily killed the heroic Pryderi and only afterwards the king learned what the he and his brother had done.

Math used his own magic to turn the brothers into a mated pair of deer for a year. Their sex drive wasn't diminished so by the end of the term, they had borne a fawn. The next year Math turned them into a couple of pigs and they again bore a son. Finally Math turned them into wolves, producing a wolf cub at year's end. At this point, Math relented and changed them all back to humans. Gwydion fab Don continued his tricks in another cycle of legends but I could find nothing else about the children other than that the deer-boy was called Hydwn, the wolf cub Bleddyn, and piglet Hwychdwn. The Welsh never mentioned how having two transgendered brothers for parents affected the boys or if their early childhood as animals had any repercussion.

I can imagine a movie based on the exploits of the grown up animal/children, starring Ben Stiller as Bleddyn, Jason Alexander as Hwychdwn, and Keanu Reeves as Hydwn. Hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

100 Most Challenged Books

Well, Pharyngula just eliminated whatever freetime I have by making me aware of best of lists. It's so petty but I love lists like this. Here's the first that jumped out at me:

1 Scary Stories (Series) Alvin Schwartz
2 Daddy's Roommate Michael Willhoite (If this had been banned in New Jersey, we'd have had no trouble with the governor)
3 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
4 The Chocolate War Robert Cormier
5 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain (The irony, the irony)
6 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
7 Forever Judy Blume (The one where she--no, that's not it)
8 Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson
9 Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman
10 The Catcher In The Rye J. D. Salinger (Good God, why? You always hear about some idiots trying to ban this but why? Why?)
11 The Giver Lois Lowry
12 My Brother Sam is Dead James Lincoln
13 It's Perfectly Normal Robie H. Harris
14 Alice (Series) Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
15 Goosebumps (Series) R. L. Stine
16 A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck
17 The Color Purple Alice Walker
18 Sex Madonna (Is there a need to ban something this stupid? Isn't it a good thing that morons lost their money on this book before they could do something really dangerous with it?)
19 Earth's Children (Series) Jean M. Auel
20 The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson
21 In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak (The kid is naked for a bit which is disturbing but I doubt damaging)
22 The Witches Roald Dahl (The kid kills a bunch of witches! Isn't this what Ashcroft wants? Probably not a hit with Wiccans)
23 A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L'Engle (I'm guessing this was an attack from the left. This book is basically the Bible in space)
24 The New Joy of Gay Sex Charles Silverstein (The GOP opposed this?)
25 Go Ask Alice Anonymous (Goofy hoax but why ban?)
26 The Goats Brock Cole
27 The Stupids (Series) Harry Allard
28 Anastasia Krupnik (Series) Lois Lowry
29 Final Exit Derek Humphry (No! You should suffer and like it!)
30 Blubber Judy Blume
31 Halloween ABC Eve Merriam
32 Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George
33 Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane
34 The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
35 What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters Lynda Madaras
36 Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers
37 The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood (A feminist condemnation of fundamentalism? This got banned?)
38 The Outsiders S. E. Hinton
39 The Pigman Paul Zindel (I remember not liking or finishing this but I wouldn't stop someone else from picking it up)
40 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
41 We All Fall Down Robert Cormier
42 Deenie Judy Blume (Is this the one where she. . .?)
43 Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes
44 Annie on my Mind Nancy Garden
45 Beloved Toni Morrison
46 The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar
47 Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat Alvin Schwartz
48 Harry Potters (Series) J. K. Rowling (Oh shut up)
49 Cujo Stephen King
50 James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl (What? Is the talking spider somehow satanic?)
51 A Light in the Attic Shel Silverstein (Giving poetry to children encourages buggery)
52 Ordinary People Judith Guest
53 American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis
54 Brave New World Aldous Huxley (For the drugs or the sex?)
55 Sleeping Beauty Trilogy A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
56 Bumps in the Night Harry Allard
57 Asking About Sex and Growing Up Joanna Cole
58 What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons Lynda Madaras
59 The Anarchist Cookbook William Powell
60 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret Judy Blume (Or is this the one where she masturbates? I remember reading that about three million times)
61 Boys and Sex Wardell B. Pomeroy
62 Crazy Lady Jane Leslie Conly
63 Athletic Shorts Chris Crutcher
64 Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan (I remember thinking "This is the dumbest book I ever read" but I wouldn't ban it)
65 Fade Robert Cormier
66 Guess What? Mem Fox
67 Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut (It's a crime to ban this but I could see where uptight idiots would object, unlike Catcher in the Rye)
68 Lord Of The Flies William Gerald Golding (Nobel, Schmobel)
69 Native Son Richard Wright (Yeah, I can see how this would make a conservative twitch)
70 Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies Nancy Friday
71 Curses, Hexes and Spells Daniel Cohen
72 On My Honor Marion Dane Bauer
73 The House of Spirits Isabel Allende
74 Jack A. M. Homes
75 Arizona Kid Ronald Koertge
76 Family Secrets Norma Klein
77 Mommy Laid An Egg Babette Cole
78 Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo A. Anaya
79 Where Did I Come From? Peter Mayle ("The stork, dammit!")
80 The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline B. Cooney
81 Carrie Stephen King (Is it the religious fanatic mom or just the violence?)
82 The Dead Zone Stephen King (Is it the violence or the insane right-wing politician?)
83 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain (For the love of Pete!)
84 Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
85 Always Running Luis Rodriguez
86 Private Parts Howard Stern (Okay, maybe I would ban something)
87 Where's Waldo? Martin Handford (Is this on the right list?)
88 Summer of My German Soldier Bette Greene
89 Tiger Eyes Judy Blume (Or does she masturbate in this one? That's really all I remember of Judy Blume)
90 Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman (Yeah, this could get uncomfortable)
91 Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett
92 Running Loose Chris Crutcher
93 Sex Education Jenny Davis
94 Jumper Steven Gould
95 Christine Stephen King (Is it the violence or. . .I guess it would have to be the violence)
96 The Drowning of Stephen Jones Bette Greene
97 That Was Then, This is Now S. E. Hinton (I remember not liking this book but it might because I was going through a phase of "Anything without a masturbating girl just plain sucks")
98 Girls and Sex Wardell B. Pomeroy (I would have never left the house)
99 The Wish Giver Bill Brittain
100 Jump Ship to Freedom James Lincoln Collier
First Day of Class

Years of night and weekend classes made me forget how horrible it is to park during the day. I spent more than 40 minutes looking for a space before I found one in the most remote parking lot on campus.

I haven't taught a regular (less than three hour long) class since 1994. I thought I breezed through things and let students out early but it turned out it was only about 20 minutes before usual.

On the bright side, the faculty computer can access Blogger's controls. I can run spell-check and make lines without typing them in by hand.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Longest Word in English

According to Schott's Original Miscellany, this, a name for the "Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Dahlemense Stain" is the longest word in English at 1,185 letters:

Acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonylserylprolylserylglutaminylphenylalanylvalylphenylalanylleucylserylserylvalyltryptophylalanylaspartylprolylisoleucylglutamylleucylleucylasparaginylvalylcysteinylthreonylserylserylleucylglycylasparaginylglutaminylphenylalanylglutaminylthreonylglutaminylglutaminylalanylarginylthreonylthreonylglutaminylvalylglutaminylglutaminylphenylalanylserylglutaminylvalyltryptophyllysylprolylphenylalanylprolylglutaminylserylthreonylvalylarginylphenylalanylprolylglycylaspartylvalyltyrosyllysylvalyltyrosylarginyltyrosylasparaginylalanylvalylleucylaspartylprolylleucylisoleucylthreonylalanylleucylleucylglycylthreonylphenylalanylaspartylthreonylarginylasparaginylarginylisoleucylisoleucylglutamylvalylglutamylasparaginylglutaminylglutaminylserylprolylthreonylthreonylalanylglutamylthreonylleucylaspartylalanylthreonylarginylarginylvalylaspartylaspartylalanylthreonylvalylalanylisoleucylarginylserylalanylasparaginylisoleucylasparaginylleucylvalylasparaginylglutamylleucylvalylarginylglycylthreonylglycylleucyltyrosylasparaginylglutaminylasparaginylthreonylphenylalanylglutamylserylmethionylserylglycylleucylvalyltryptophylthreonylserylalanylprolylalanylserine.

The web page, http://members.aol.com/gulfhigh2/words3.html, lists a word even longer but notes that it might not be fair to count chemical terms as real words.
Ben Franklin

Good piece on Franklin by Cecil Adams but the illustration makes it memorable.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

No Words for Numbers

South American tribe has no words for numbers.

I had started on a story with this general idea but never thought a group of people would really create a language like this.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Many Isles of Mail Duin

Anyone up for a long Irish story with an anti-climatic ending? If so, check out the adventure of Mail Duin:

From the Irish epic of Immram Curaig Maíl Dúin, believed to have been written down in the Eighth Century (although the oldest surviving text comes from the Tenth).

After a man murdered his father, Mail Duin took three friends, German, Diruan, and an unnamed individual (presumably wearing a red shirt), to hunt down the killer. His father, Aillill, had been set upon and buried in an abandoned church and Mail Duin was determined to do whatever necessary to avenge him. His voyage took him to many strange lands:

The Island of the Slayer: Within the first two days of sailing, Mail Duin came to two small islands with a fortress on each. In one of them, his father's killer was loudly boasting to the neighboring fort about the murder. Mail Duin was about to land when German and Diruan praised God for guiding their way. Apparently invoking God's name during an act of vengeance was blasphemous—a great wind suddenly blasted them miles out to sea, far out of sight of the island. The sailed for three more days before seeing any land again.

The Island of the Ants: The next island they saw was swarming with giant ants the size of horses. The ants rushed to beach at their approach. Mail Duin decided against landing there.

The Island of the Birds: Finally they stepped ashore to an island, one covered with a thick forest. They found enough birds to feed them for weeks.

The Island of the Fierce Beast: They next stopped at a sandy beach, only to have a monster with the body of a horse and clawed feet, charge out of the forest. They barely escaped to sea. The beast threw pebbles at their ship as they sailed away.

The Island of the Giant Horses: German and Diuran set off to explore the next island. They found what appeared to be a giant race track full of hoof-prints the size of their ship's sail. They wisely departed, and from a distance out at sea, saw huge horses appear on the track, running neck and neck.

The Island of the Stone Door: They sailed for a week before coming to another island. On the beach was a house with a stone door that opened into the sea. Schools of salmon swam through the door, stocking the house. They entered and found the beds of four giants and a feast laid out upon an enormous table. They ate the food and moved on before the owners came home.

The Island of the Apples: This island jutted directly from the sea with steep cliffs on all sides, too high and sharp to climb. Mail Duin was able to break off a branch from a tree that grew over the edge. They sailed around the island for three days but found no way to come ashore. However, in that time, the branch he'd broken sprouted three giant apples, each one large enough to feed the crew for 40 days.

The Island of the Wondrous Beast: The next island was surrounded by a great stone fence, a la King Kong, holding back a monster that rushed around the island again and again. Finally, it climbed to the top of a hill so the crew could make it out. There the beast stood still but made its skin twirl around its immobile body. Then it made its skin stay still but made its body twirl around inside. Mail Duin didn't bother even attempting to land and the beast hurled stones at them as they sailed off. One of the stones cracked into the hull of the ship and stayed there.

The Island of the Biting Horses: The next island they came to ran red with blood, flowing from a herd of demonic horses that constantly fought and bit each other. Mail Duin took one look and kept on sailing.

The Island of the Fiery Swine: By this time, the giant apples were entirely eaten and the crew was starving. They had to find food on the next island or die but it was full of giant red pig-like monsters. The creatures were powerful enough to uproot entire trees to get to their fruit but slept soundly at night in the caves beneath the island. That night, Mail Duin and the others crept ashore and loaded up on apples. The heat from the monster pigs was so intense that even when they were deep below in the caves, it nearly burnt the soles of their feet.

The Island of the Little Cat: In a Monty Python-esque turn of events, this proved to be the deadliest island of all. Not really an island, this was a tower that rose out of the sea with many white houses on top. Mail Duin led his crew into the largest house. They found plenty of provisions as well as a little cat that leapt from pillar to pillar. Taking only food, the men set back to their boat when the unnamed member of the crew saw a beautiful necklace and decided to pick it up. The moment he touched it, the cat transformed into a ball of fire and burnt the man to a pile of ashes. Mail Duin took these ashes and scattered them on the sea as they sailed away.

The Island of the Black and White Sheep: This island was divided in half by a great bronze fence. On one side was a flock of white sheep with black sheep on the other. A giant watched over the flocks and occasionally picked a sheep up and placed it on the opposite side of the fence. Immediately the sheep would change color. Mail Duin threw a white stick on the black side of the island and it darkened. Not considering that this could act as a Sneechian Star-On/Star-Off machine for racists, they sailed away, still searching for the killer.

The Island of the Giant Swine: Anothre island full of giant pigs. The crew killed the smallest one they could find but it was still too heavy to move, so they roasted and ate it one the spot (if you ever roasted a real pig, you know how likely this is). German and Diuran searched farther inland and saw, across a river, a giant herding cattle. German stuck his spear into the river to test its depth but it instantly dissolved. They turned back to the search.

The Island of the Mill: Upon this island, they found a mill with a giant working a great grindstone. He told them that he was grinding "all that men begrudge each other." Mail Duin and the others made the sign of the cross and took again to sea.

Island of the Black Mourners: This island was full of black men who grieved and cried (probably not meant to be Africans but to symbolize mourning). When German and Diuran stepped ashore, they turned black and began to weep as well. Mail Duin covered his head so he could neither see the land or breathe its air, stepped ashore, grabbed them and pulled them back to the ship. They recovered and sailed away.

The Island of the Four Fences: Fences of Gold, Silver, Brass, and Crystal divided this island into quarters. One part was ruled by kings, the other by queens, another by warriors, and the last by maidens. Being long at sea, you can imagine which one they chose. The maidens greeted the men and fed them magical cheese that tasted like whatever they desired. Then they happily accepted a magical drink which put them to sleep. When they awoke, they were back on their ship, the island out of sight.

The Island of the Glass Bridge: This island held a fortress with a brass door and a glass bridge. However, "None shall pass here!" The bridge bucked them off each time they attempted to cross. Each day a maiden came from the fort with a pail and filled it from the moat. After four days, she invited them to follow her. Once inside, she poured from her bucket any food the men wanted. She fed them this way for three days but on the fourth morning, they found themselves back in their ship, far at sea.

The Island of the Shouting Birds: This island was full of black birds that constantly shouted at neighboring brown birds. Mail Duin simply passed by.

The Island of the Anchorite: Another island full of trees and birds but this one also held a naked hermit, "clothed in only his hair." He told them that he had sailed away from Ireland on a tiny clod of grass and dirt which had grown in size by one foot and one tree every year. He and the birds would be sustained by angels until the Second Coming. Mail Duin stayed with him for three days before setting out again.

The Island of the Miraculous Fountain: Inside a golden castle lived another hermit, again clothed in only his hair. Despite his lack of a wardrobe, his castled boasted of a fountain that spouted water on Friday and Wednesdays, milk on Sundays and feast-days of martyrs, and ale and wine on the feasts of the Apostles, Mary, John the Baptist, and the yearly high tides.

The Island of the Smithy: Hearing a giant blacksmith talk about killing them when they landed, Mail Duin and the boys decided to keep sailing by this island. The moronic blabbermouth realized his mistake and threw a clump of molten metal at their ship that set the sea aboil but they escaped unharmed.

The Sea of Clear Glass: The ship sailed across waters so clear that they could make out the features of the seabed fathoms below.

The Undersea Island: From the sands, rose an island that did not quite reach the surface. Their boat was just able to sail over it. Through the clear waters, they could see an undersea city with a hideous creature perched in an underwater tree. An aquatic warrior attempted to drive sea-cattle beneath the tree but the monster reached down and ate them at will. Afraid of drawing the beast's attention, they sailed away.

The Island of the Prophecy: The people of the next island somehow knew the ship was coming and didn't like it at all. They had built a wall around their beaches and stood atop it to taunt the ship. One woman even tried to hit the men with large nuts. Mail Duin decided not to try to come ashore but kept the nuts for provisions.

The Island of the Spouting Water: Water gushed up from a pool on one side of the island and spouted to the far shore. Caught in the water were many salmons which Mail Duin speared for more food. Finding nothing else, they set off again.

The Island of the Silver Column: This was a huge pillar that rose out of the sea into the clouds with no openings for access. As they examined it, a huge silver net fell from the sky next to them. Mail Duin took a large section of it which only weighed two and a half ounces. With no way to enter, they sailed away.

The Island of the Women: After all their troubles, this one was a treat. The boys found a huge mansion containing 17 maidens. They spied on the girls as they prepared a bath. Soon a rider approached the house and dismounted. As the rider stepped into the bath, they saw she was a beautiful woman, the queen of the isle. After the bath, one of the maidens came to them and invited them inside. Mail Duin met the queen and almost instantly married her. German and Diuran each married the maiden of their liking and they all stayed in the mansion for three happy months. The island was enchanted so that disease and old age were unknown there.
At the end of three months, Mail Duin tried to sail away while the queen was away on business but before they were far from shore, she arrived home and hurled a ball of string at him. Once it touched it, Mail Duin could not let go and was drawn in like a fish. This happened two more times before Diuran realized Mail Duin was so in love with the queen that he was being caught intentionally. During the next escape, Diuran leapt in front of his captain and caught the string himself. Before he could be reeled in, he drew his sword and cut off his hand. The ship finally left the island.

The Island of the Red Berries: Upon this island, they found trees that grew red berries that produced a liquor so strong that the Irish sailors had to water it down to drink.

The Island of the Eagle: Finding another naked hermit was no shock but seeing a giant eagle was. Two more great eagles landed and they all bathed in a lake for three days, emerging mightier than when they had entered. Although Mail Duin warned him not to do it, Diuran dove headfirst into the lake. He was never sick again a day of his life.

The Island of the Laughing Folk: This island was full of men, playing and laughing hysterically. After drawing lots, one man (presumably German) stepped onto the island. Immediately he began laughing and had to be pulled back on the ship. (Some versions of the story say that he was lost for good.)

The Island of the Flaming Rampart: The crew could see a marvelous, magical city upon the next island but could not land because it was surrounded by a wall of fire.

The Island of the Monk of Tory: This was more of a large rock than an island but still a lone monk called it home. He had run off from a monastery onTory Island, taking a fortune of gold and valuables before sailing away. In mid-sea, the winds died about him and an angel told him to throw the treasure overboard or starve. He did so and his boat drifted to the rock where otters brought him salmon and burning firewood. The otters fed Mail Duin and the others as well. During this visit, the monk asked Mail Duin to forgive his father's killer rather than seek vengeance.

The Island of the Falcon: Cattle and sheep lived here but no humans so the crew killed and cooked to their hearts' content. When one of the men saw an Irish falcon, they decided to follow it. It flew across the sea to another island just off the coast of Ireland where Mail Duin found his father's killer. At the last moment, he decided to take the monk's advice and forgave the man. Then he returned to his ship to sail home.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Gorilla Hunt


"It's really horrifying when a gorilla suddenly jumps out in front of you."
Via Hoax Museum.
Even Stranger

If you just noticed the post from Wednesday, you aren't going crazy. Even though it appeared in my post listings as both a draft and a published post, it didn't show up on the actual blog.

I still have problems with Blogger's posting features and that was most likely the cause but still. . .

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Letter Openers

A few weeks ago, I mailed essays from my ENG 291 class to students who had turned them in the last day of class. One, an essay condemning the Patriot Act, somehow opened at the Post Office and was taped shut. The paper itself was lost in the mail (only the envelope arrived).

Since then I've noticed some of my mail has been opened and taped shut. This could all be chance (letter writers forgetting to include something, opening the letter, then sending it again) but it's getting disturbing. I doubt if I'd have noticed it if my student hadn't contacted me about her paper.

Has anyone else had this happen?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Library List

In case you're interested, here's my latest tally from the library (no italics due to Blogger problems):

My Books
Comics and Sequential Art - Will Eisner
A Dictionary of King Arthur's Knights - Pamela Ryan
100 Best Books for Children - Anita Silvey
Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything - Dan Falk
Arthurian Myth and Legend - Mike Dixon-Kennedy
Celtic Myth and Legend - Mike Dixon-Kennedy (Virtually every Irish saint and many Catholic holidays come from Celtic gods. Despite what Dan Brown says, the Holy Grail started out as a Celtic artifact, predating Christianity by centuries.)
Chinese Dragons - Roy Bates
Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care - John McWhorter

Kids' Books
Doctor De Soto - William Steig (Picked by Anita Silvey as his best book; the story of a mouse dentist with a devilish fox as a patient)
Shrek - WS (Donkey shows up for one page and takes verbal abuse)
When Everybody Wore a Hat - WS (Steig's autobiography. Kids don't seem to like it so much but I can take only so much Dora and Maisy)
Doctor De Soto Goes to Africa - WS
The Amazing Bone - WS (Possibly his best book. The story of a little pig that finds a magical talking bone. Once again a fox is the villain who apologizes for kidnaping the heroine and preparing to eat her but just can't help himself.)
The King's Stilts - Dr. Seuss (I'd heard of this but never read it.)
Dora's Book of Manners (Again?)
Arthur's Nose - Marc Brown (First Arthur book)
Maisy Cleans Up - Lucy Cousins (Again? Again?)
Jazzy in the Jungle - Lucy Cousins
Maisy's Rainbow Dream - Lucy Cousins (Again? Again? Again?)

The Gingerbread Man (Book and Tape)


Kids' Videos
Dragon Tales: Whenever I'm Afraid
Winnie the Pooh: Springtime for Roo
Dora the Explorer: Egg Hunt
Playtime Maisy
Spy Kids 2
Jay Jay the Jet Plane
The Wiggles: Cold Spaghetti Western

My Video
Bubba ho-tep (DVD)

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Good News for Aliens

August 6: Science news argues against planets like Earth. Now this.

No, it's not another Earth but it raises possibilities.
Fun Toys

Some of these would be fun. Others might get you arrested.
Bad Sport

Is this George Bush taking an illegal cheap shot?

Or is it a fake? (I can't imagine it being real and staying hidden until now.)
6,000 Year Fossils

Take a look at the Creationist Fossil Shop

Yes, I know it's fake--look at the URL.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Still More Credible than Fox

Nude News
How Sexy is Your Name?

Before you dismiss this as a waste of money, perhaps it could lead to the development of a super-sexy name that would give its owner unspeakable powers.Now that would piss off the religious right.
Aliens Love It

Do you want to party with aliens? Crazin' some good anal probing? Here's the product for you.
Dino Without A Cause

Yes, it's a stupid tagline but Giant just wasn't enough and anything about dinosaurs with the word "Eden" brings out the kooks. James Dean and T-rex.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Loser

Sometimes I thing I'm the biggest loser on the planet. Then I come across a guy like him.

This looks like a hoax (the Hoax Museum is unsure) but I guess he could be real. Any volunteers?

Monday, August 09, 2004

Friday, August 06, 2004

Defense of Marriage (Nigerian Style)

Is it the old slippery slope or is this destined for U.S. swingers?
Bad News for Aliens

Despite the discovery of a new planet every few weeks, scientists still have dim hopes of another solar system.

I would think it's a little premature to write things off. Twenty years ago, we weren't aware of any planets outside of our neighborhood. With billions and billions of stars, 120 planets might be too small a number to be statistically valid.
Next for National Security. . .

More political wackiness from Tennessee.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Sorry About the Italics

For some reason, I can't access the bold, italics, web links, spell check or anything else in my new posts. It seems to make a big difference if I misplace a backslash.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

New Ending for Jedi

A rumor is going around that George Lucas will replace Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen in the ghost scene of Return of the Jedi. (In case you're not a complete geek, that's the scene where Luke sees the ghosts of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Darth during the Ewok party.) See Museum of Hoaxes for more info if you are remotely interested.

Part of me wants to find a reason to care but I'm to the point where I'd favor censorship if it included destroying everything related to Star Wars. Especially the fans.
Bubba Ho-Tep

In the last year, I think I've seen three grown-up movies (I don't want to use the term "adult movies" on the Internet). Besides Big Fish and F for Fake some time back, I recently had the chance to see Bubba Ho-Tep.

There's a saying in science fiction that you can ask a reader to swallow a porcupine but you can't ask him to swallow two porcupines. Meaning you can introduce a concept beyond the normal pale of suspension of disbelief but anything after that is asking for trouble (Plan Nine from Outer Space tried to have an alien invasion AND zombies). True, some writers like William Gibson can throw you a porcupine per page but in general the lone porcupine rule stands up well.

Bubba Ho-Tep features Elvis in a nursing home, years after he switched places with an Elvis impersonator (it was the impersonator, not the true King, who died on the toilet). JFK lives a few doors down the hall—only he's black. "They dyed my skin," Jack explains to Elvis. What better way to sow confusion and disinformation? Another man thinks he's the Lone Ranger. No suggestion is made that he really is the Lone Ranger but the concept of identity is circumspect in this film.

Elvis is simply waiting to die—he's got a pus-filled growth on his impotent Little King—and spends the days full of regrets. Everything changes when he's attacked by a giant beetle, which is apparently the familiar of Bubba Ho-Tep, a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy that was lost in the creek next to the nursing home decades before during a robbery from an art museum (you need a lot of dependent clauses to explain this baby).

JFK and the King team up to destroy the mummy before it devours the souls of the old people. You see, when a mummy sucks your soul from your body (through any orifice but preferably the anus), you don't go to heaven or have a shot at reincarnation. Your soul is digested and shit down the nursing home's visitors' bathroom while Bubba Ho carves obscene hieroglyphics on the stall.

I liked the movie but almost wish the mummy never showed up. Just watching the old Elvis interact with the other characters was enough. Bruce Campbell kept things from melting down. There's something about Campbell that just helps you accept things as they're presented.

Bubba Ho-Tep isn't on Citizen Kane's level but it's inventive and funny without being idiotic. Roger Ebert once said that seeing an ass isn't funny in itself; it depends on whose ass it is and how you saw it. Although you never see them, the idea of a withered mummy in cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat sucking the souls from Elvis's and JFK's ass is funny and disturbing.

I'm going to have to buy the DVD.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Cook Well Thy Fish

Good news from Kroger: remember how the employee's restroom didn't have soap or even an area for a soap dispenser since before Memorial Day? This Saturday they somehow squeezed in a dispenser. For the moment, it's full.

In more disturbing developments, an employee in the seafood department was suspended from work. Said individual has a severe mental handicap so I don't want to get too critical of him. However, do you remember the episode of The Simpsons where it was revealed that Troy McClure "slept with the fishes" in the non-Mafia sense? Ugly situation—apparently he wasn't even using a stall. It's hoped that the fish was disposed of but nothing has been confirmed.

Plants have it so easy with that photosynethesis thing.