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Snow White vs. Snow White in an epic steel cage match!

Nov. 18th, 2011 | 11:28 am

Well, perhaps not. Still:

Mirror, Mirror (IMDB link)
"A dark twist on the classic fairy tale, in which Snow White and the seven dwarfs look to reclaim their destroyed kingdom."

Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, Lily Collins as Snow White. Release date March 16, 2012.

Snow White and the Huntsman (IMDB link)
"In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen."

Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen, Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. Release date June 1, 2012.

Have some trailers behind the cutCollapse )

The Theron/Stewart/Hemsworth trailer has about 150% of the RDA of Awesome. I am definitely seeing that one. I'm dubious about the Roberts/Collins one, but will probably see it anyway.

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An anniversary

Nov. 10th, 2011 | 03:30 pm

As of today, I have been working at Microsoft for fourteen years.

This is just slightly less than one-third of my life.

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And so it begins...

Nov. 9th, 2011 | 03:31 pm

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Unusual views of a Ross

Oct. 30th, 2011 | 01:35 pm

So here are a couple of things that happened:

Yes, it's true: I have joined the Borg collective.

Actually, no: this is me all wired up for a sleep study; the most comical part of which -- other than what I look like there -- being that they expect you to sleep like that. Apparently the electrodes told them that I have this little habit where I stop breathing twenty-three times every hour that I'm asleep, which it turns out is considered "moderate" sleep apnea. So I get to join the collective of people who get to sleep with a Darth Vader mask, or at least I will as soon as they get around to issuing me one. I can't say I'm thrilled by that idea, but on the other hand the notion of not killing my brain with oxygen deprivation has a certain appeal to it.

In entirely unrelated news, my church encouraged people to come in costume today, and when our priest Fr. Pete saw me dressed like this:

...his comment was, "Ross, we told you to wear a costume."

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Kraken, China Miéville

Sep. 26th, 2011 | 01:57 pm

Not bad, not bad at all; but I think I liked it better when it was called Neverwhere.

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Summer Recap

Aug. 29th, 2011 | 03:47 pm

Man, it's been quite a while since I posted to LJ, hasn't it? What's been going on in the world of Rossness?

Things that happened this summer:

The Mari came to visit. The Mari would be my sister Linda, her husband John, and my nephew Rick. They were conducting a whirlwind tour of the west coast -- or at least parts of it -- and stayed with me for a couple of days. We took Rick to see the locks and the fish ladder -- he saw a giant fish, which was pretty cool -- and then we went to the Pacific Science Center. I'm told that horseback riding with Grandma Diane blew the locks out of the water (so to speak) but I think Rick still approves of Seattle.

I drove a Bug in the Pride Parade. It was a "Standing on the Side of Love Bug." How did this come about, you ask? One of my Seattle University theology friends was responsible for organizing the Unitarian Universalist contingent in the parade, and she needed someone who could drive a stick, very slowly, in the middle of a heavy crowd. Apparently this is a small pool.

Also, this is a thing that happened at the Pride parade:

This was my Facebook profile picture for a brief period, but I took it down lest it give someone the false impression that I might someday wear a color.

I took two weeks off work and didn't go anywhere. It was awesome.

Dresden #13 Ghost Story came out. We've been eagerly awaiting this book, since at the end of the last book, Harry jnf fubg va gur purfg naq sryy vagb gur ynxr. As it turns out, he fcrag gur ragvergl bs guvf obbx nf n tubfg, fbeg bs, nygubhtu ur qbrf trg orggre evtug ng gur raq. So now we can begin eagerly awaiting the next one, which is apparently called Cold Days.

I read a book about Wookiees. Some of you know why this is funny. Let me rephrase: some of you know the particular reason this is funny. The rest of you will simply have to fall back on general humorousness.

ETA: I saw my godson make his stage debut in Grease. This was through the Olympia program Kids at Play, which, by the way, if you're looking for somewhere to put your donatin' dollars, you could do a lot worse. Just saying. Nick played a nerd, and loved it.

ETA: I preached again. I have, however, been extremely lax, and have not yet transcribed it onto my web page. I shall do so soon! however, and post a note here when I have done so. Promise.

I saw the movie Cowboys and Aliens. One thing you have to say about this movie: it delivers what it promises. Cowboys? Yes. Aliens? Also yes. Also a shirtless Daniel Craig and a cranky Harrison Ford, assuming one is into either of those things. Actually I thought it was a pretty good fluff movie.

I saw Les Miserables with the Hayeses. I first saw Les Miz mumblemumble years ago, in LA, when I was at Tech. I've listened to the soundtrack, at a conservative estimate, a million billion times. I like the show, is what I'm saying. It's playing at the 5th Avenue in Seattle, and so the Hayes clan and I went to see it. It was a really good production, I thought -- a much smaller stage than the show I saw in LA, but they made excellent use of it and very creative use of a scrim -- and they had a very strong Valjean and a very strong Eponine. I had a blast.

So it's been a good summer, is what I'm saying.

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Blatantly stolen from Wikipedia

Jul. 9th, 2011 | 10:39 am


Forty-three is the 14th smallest prime number. The previous is forty-one, with which it comprises a twin prime, and the next is forty-seven. 43 is the smallest prime that is not a Chen prime. It is also the third Wagstaff prime.

43 is the fourth term of Sylvester's sequence, one more than the product of the previous terms (2 × 3 × 7).

43 is a centered heptagonal number.

Let a(0) = a(1) = 1, and thenceforth a(n) = (a(0)2 + a(1)2 + ... + a(n-1)2) / (n-1). This sequence continues 1 1 2 3 5 10 28 154... (sequence A003504 in OEIS). Amazingly, a(43) is the first term of this sequence that is not an integer.

43 is a Heegner number.

43 is a repdigit in base 6 (111).

43 is the largest natural number that is not an (original) McNugget number.

This is the smallest number expressible as the sum of 2, 3, 4, or 5 different primes:

  • 43 = 41 + 2
  • 43 = 11 + 13 + 19
  • 43 = 2 + 11 + 13 + 17
  • 43 = 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 17.
4 15 17 7
5 19 13 6
20 9 2 12
14 0 11 18

The date magic square at right illustrates the magic constant as the sum of four primes:

When taking the first six terms of the Taylor series for computing e, one obtains


which is also five minus the fifth harmonic number.

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Memorial Day

May. 30th, 2011 | 10:55 am

Honor the fallen. 

In particular this day, I remember Richard Arthur Akin Jr., 1948-1968, my uncle; killed in Vietnam. 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

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May. 22nd, 2011 | 05:46 pm

That is to say, Priest the movie. Here, have a trailer

I'll spoil the plot for you: Paul Bettany engages in irrelevant heroics while Maggie Q saves the day. 

Also, the future is once again badly lit. They have super-tech solar-powered jet-motorcycles, but building a light bulb that doesn't flicker or go out all the time is a mystery that continues to elude them.

Also also, the movie is unclear on the fact that "priests" are not a group in the church distinct from "the clergy." On the other hand, priests in this world are also a cadre of bad-ass superhuman ninja warriors, so perhaps the sacrament of orders works differently in Dimly Lit Dystopiastan.

Also^3, the villain is named in the credits "Black Hat." He doesn't tie anyone to the railroad tracks, but there is a train involved.

All together, it was about what I expected; and I think Seattle U let me down by not teaching a class in crucifix-ninja-star-throwing.

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Spock's reply to his mother, circa 1986

May. 21st, 2011 | 01:11 am

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane; Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn, world serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs. Feed it off an aux speak, grunt, no, strength, the ladder starts to clatter with fear, fight down height. Wire in a fire, representing seven games, and a government for hire and a combat site. Left of west and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck. Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped. Look at that low playing! Fine, then. Uh oh, overflow, population, common food, but it'll do. Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed, dummy with the rapture and the revered and the right -- right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.

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An interview with Archbishop Bernard Longley on ARCIC III

May. 17th, 2011 | 04:09 pm

(Note for the acronym-challenged: ARCIC is the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, dedicated to ecumenical discussion between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.) 

The Roman Catholic co-chair of ARCIC III answered some questions about the upcoming discussions. Herewith are some excerpts:

What is ARCIC III and why was it set-up?

ARCIC III is the third phase of the international dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. It originally began in response to the Second Vatican Council and as a result of the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, to Pope Paul VI in 1966.

Archbishop Ramsey and Pope Paul issued a joint statement at that time speaking of "a new stage in the development of fraternal relations" and this vision has been a characteristic of the ARCIC dialogue every since.

ARCIC III takes as its mandate the meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams in 2006 when they committed our two communions to continue the dialogue.

What particular areas of work have the Holy Father and Archbishop of Canterbury asked ARCIC III to study?

The Holy Father and the Archbishop asked ARCIC III to "address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous".

In other words ARCIC III is being asked to reflect on the nature of the Church as understood by Anglicans and Catholics and to consider the way that the Church arrives at authoritative teaching, especially about moral issues.

On that basis ARCIC III will look at two connected areas of theology: the Church as Communion, local and universal and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching.


When ARCIC I and ARCIC II were set-up there were high hopes that full visible unity between the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion might be possible one day. Since then the Anglican Communion has ordained women as priests and bishops and put an insurmountable block in the way to full unity. So what is the point of ARCIC III?

The climate in which ARCIC III is working is very different from that of ARCIC I or ARCC II and yet the ultimate aim must remain the same. Both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion are committed to working and praying for the full, visible unity of the Church and we see ARCIC as contributing to that end.

Of course, we must face the obstacles that make that journey much more difficult. This phase of ARCIC will recognise the impact of the actions of some Anglican Provinces which have raised the issue of the nature of communion within the Church. We hope ARCIC III can make a contribution to resolving some of the issues that seem so intractable a present.

The question of "full visible unity" is an interesting one, especially since Anglicanorum Coetibus -- now commonly referred to simply as "the Ordinariate" -- has, I think, highlighted how the Roman Catholic Church thinks of unity. (That's not a slam at the RCC, by the way: it's a natural consequence of their understanding of the nature of the Catholic Church. Some of us just don't agree with that understanding.)

I'm not sure what the Anglicans who are hoping for "full visible unity" are imagining that might look like -- perhaps they were envisioning something like the various Eastern Rite churches within the Catholic Church -- but I suspect that if anything like that was actually on the horizon, they'd be surprised how much resistance would rise up from within the Anglican Communion. I myself, for instance, consider myself fairly Anglo-Catholic; but there are reasons I don't hop the fence to Rome.

As for the fact that "the Anglican Communion has ordained women as priests and bishops and put an insurmountable block in the way to full unity," I have a suggestion for the Roman Catholics as to how they can cause that to cease being an "insurmountable block."

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Attention: Techers

May. 11th, 2011 | 11:40 pm

Link courtesy of Adam Villani, over on Facebook.

What's this? Why, it's every issue of the California Tech.

Potential sources of amusement:
  • Reading old "Inside World" columns and trying to remember the scuttlebutt they were making fun of

  • Reading old letters to the editor and remembering the things we got all worked up about

  • Reading old ads and remembering that we are old people now

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May. 10th, 2011 | 06:57 pm

It appears that the Presbyterian Church USA may be on the verge of allowing same-sex partnered people to serve as clergy. As one would expect, the usual arrays of arguments are being made on both sides. Speaking as someone whose church has been going through this for some time, it's clear that both sides are, for the most part, talking past each other. 

I have no illusions of convincing anyone to change their mind. However, in the interest of better understanding one's opponents, I think it's useful to step back and take a look at the foundational metaphors that both sides are using to understand homosexuality. 

Please do not take time from your busy schedule to tell me just how wrong one or the other paradigm is. I'm not saying these are right or wrong (although, obviously, I agree with one and disagree with the other), I'm just saying this, based on my experience watching the debate in the Episcopal Church over the course of several years, is broadly speaking how the people on each side look at the issue. If your experience is different, I'd be interested in hearing that.

My hope is that, if we keep in mind the fact that our opponents are most likely thinking with these paradigms, it will be easier to understand where they're coming from and the kinds of arguments they make, and easier to avoid talking completely past them in return.

People who are opposed to the normalization of homosexual relationships, in my experience, tend to think of homosexuality as analogous to alcoholism.

There may or may not be a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, or possibly environmental factors may be primary. Either way, you can argue that an urge or inclination towards alcoholism is not necessarily a moral fault in a person -- rather, you can look at it as an unfortunate burden -- but the fact remains that an alcoholic always has a choice about whether to actually take a drink or not, and that is a moral choice.

Alcoholism, if the person succumbs to the urge to drink, is invariably destructive to the person's life -- sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but it never ends well. The only way to avoid this is not to drink, and people who truly love and support the alcoholic will bluntly tell him or her this rather than enabling their drinking.

Some people will tell the alcoholic that there's nothing wrong with drinking to excess; it's possible they even sincerely believe that. But the consensus of moral teachers throughout history is against them; and even if they are not swayed by that, the obvious damage that drunkards inflict on themselves, their loved ones, and on society at large ought to convince them of their error.

To people who view homosexuality through this lens, the supporters of homosexual normalization are basically hanging signs on their churches reading "Alcoholics Welcome! Come On In and Have a Drink On Us."

By contrast, people who support the normalization of homosexual relationships tend to think of homosexuality as analogous to left-handedness.

Being left-handed seems pretty clearly to be genetic, although it's conceivable that environmental factors may be involved in some way. Either way, while the left-handed will always have a slightly awkward time in a society constructed around the right-handed majority, there's obviously no moral weight to being left-handed -- it's neither virtuous nor sinful, it's just a neutral fact about a person.

Despite this, there has historically been prejudice against the left-handed; they've been viewed with suspicion, and have often been punished for using their left hands. Even language reflects this discrimination, e.g. "dexterous" and "sinister"; and if you hunt through the Bible you can find verses (for instance, "seated at the right hand of God") that superficially appear to support the moral superiority of right-handedness.

A left-handed person can sometimes train themselves to use their right hand, if they try hard enough, but it will never feel natural or comfortable.

These archaic prejudices, to the modern eye, are clearly just that: archaic prejudices; and simple justice demands that they be renounced in favor of allowing left-handed people to be left-handed without hindrance or hassle. If that means that, say, government offices will have to supply both left- and right-handed scissors, then that is what will have to be done.

To people who view homosexuality through this lens, the opponents of homosexual normalization are pretty much going around saying, "Sure we love you left-handed freaks! But your dirty left-handed ways make Baby Jesus cry, so you'd better tie that hand behind your back if you want in our church."

Is it any wonder we have a failure to communicate?

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A question posed to the infinite knowledge of the internet

May. 8th, 2011 | 11:06 pm

I caught a bit of Casino Royale on TV tonight -- the 2006 one with Daniel Craig -- and happened to catch the scene on the train where Bond and Vesper Lynd are playing the "Let's show off our analytical skills be deducing things about each other" game. Vesper says:

"All right... by the cut of your suit, you went to Oxford or wherever, and actually think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn't come from money, and your school friends never let you forget it. Which means that you were at that school by the grace of someone else's charity: hence the chip on your shoulder. And since you're first thought about me ran to 'orphan,' that's what I'd say you are."

So the part of this that's always made me curious is that Bond is wearing what appears, to my untrained eye, to be a perfectly ordinary suit such as you'd find on any businessman. What is it about the "cut of his suit" that reveals he went to "Oxford or wherever," and why do human beings (apparently) not actually dress like that?

You can see the scene in question here -- Vesper's line comes at about 2:27 in that clip, here.

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May. 8th, 2011 | 05:05 pm

I preached at the 8:00 AM service today. Sermon is here.

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Easter Sunday

Apr. 24th, 2011 | 01:53 pm

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

And they remembered his words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

And he said unto them, What things?

And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

And he took it, and did eat before them.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

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Holy Saturday

Apr. 23rd, 2011 | 10:07 am

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.

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Good Friday

Apr. 22nd, 2011 | 03:25 pm

And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. 

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

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Idle thoughts

Apr. 18th, 2011 | 11:14 pm

A friend of mine saw the Atlas Shrugged movie over the weekend. It's currently scoring an impressive 8% at Rotten Tomatoes, but my friend thought it was a decent movie of a bad book... which he hasn't read, by the way. 

Now, I haven't seen the movie, nor do I feel the slightest urge to do so, but it so happens that I have read the book... and I wouldn't call it a bad book, exactly. It's not a good one, certainly; it's long, turgid, filled with one-dimensional characters delivering gigantic boluses of speeches at each other while battling legions of the strawest of straw men ever to take the literary stage. But it remains, for some reason, strangely readable; I read it once out of curiosity, and a second time out of... I don't know why.

Needless to say, although I'm saying it anyway, I'm not an Objectivist.

But my friend's comment got me thinking. Could you make a good movie out of Atlas Shrugged? It's not like there isn't dramatic stuff embedded in those thousand-odd pages -- heck, by the end, a secret cabal of industrialists has destroyed civilization and caused billions of people to starve to death. (Oh, did I give away the ending? Oops.) Plus there's sex and plane crashes and torture and a giant death ray. And lots of trains, if you like trains. So there's definitely material to work with.

Here's the thing, though: I dislike it when people adapt material solely to subvert it. Case in point, the Verhoeven movie of Starship Troopers -- he hated the Heinlein book the movie was nominally adapted from, and the movie mocks it from beginning to end. Now, whatever you think of the book -- that's a whole 'nother post -- I consider this not cricket; you shouldn't license a work to make a movie out of it if the movie is going to contradict everything the original work was trying to say.

So let's rephrase the challenge: can you make a good movie out of Atlas Shrugged that treats fairly with the book's Objectivism? Note that I say "treats fairly," not "takes at face value"; by which I mean you would have to honestly try to find the core parts of Objectivism that have some validity and show them to advantage. Also, you would have to tell a story that is compelling and makes sense. Can it be done?

I think it could... but I think that Ayn Rand's fans are not the ones to do it. They're too... well, too fannish. They lack the necessary critical distance. You need someone with, ironically, a certain objectivity. Not to mention a willingness to ruthlessly prune the sacred text to fit a thousand pages of meandering diatribe into 120 pages of dramatically tight screenplay.

And that, of course, is the rub: you need someone with enough distance from the material to treat it effectively, but who still gives enough of a crap to actually want to. Apparently, no such person exists, or at least has never made a successful pitch. Hence, we instead have a movie made by the fans, for the fans. And about 8% of the critics.

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Green Lake ecumenical Palm Sunday procession

Apr. 17th, 2011 | 03:25 pm

As is traditional, St. Andrew's Episcopal met with Bethany Lutheran down by the shores of Green Lake for an ecumenical blessing of the palms -- and this year we were also joined by Green Lake United Methodist, because their new pastor is a friend of mine from Seattle U and I put her in touch with my rector, so the ecumenical seminary thing is already paying off.

Anyway, here are some picturesCollapse )

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