December 12th, 2005

bear by san

"Fire is *motivating*."

Put that way, it almost seems like I've been pretty productive recently. And JJA did a nice job of making me sound coherent. Note the clever use of brackets and ellipses to remove the worst of the digressions.

I think this is the end of the spate of SCI FI Wire coverage; I'll be slinking back into obscurity now.

This NPR segment is making me remember how much I loved Richard Pryor, his intelligence, his integrity, his incisiveness, and his refusal to blink.

And in addition to all that, he was funny. And funny in a way that could make you re-evaluate your preconceptions.

His like, as they say, shall not pass this way again.

You'll notice there hasn't been much newblogging here lately. This is because if I blogged everything that was pissing me off this winter, there would be no room nor time for anything else, and there are others who newsblog better than me.

ETA Via mechiaeh, The Cthulhu dildo cozy.

It doesn't even require comment, does it?
bear by san

BPAL: Black Forest

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In other news, today is stwish's birthday. It's also Jennifer Connelly's birthday. She's 35, which makes her about nine months older than I am.

I have an enduring fondness for Ms. Connelly. having identified excessively with her character (my namesake) in Labyrinth. I suspect that character's refusal to be bought out by romantic blandishments is in large part responsible for my failure to assimilate into mainstream society.


It might be part of the reason, at least.

That movie also introduced me to Trevor Jones. Which means that two movies I really like feature Connelly and Jones, because there's also Dark City (the best Phillip K. Dick movie never made) to consider.

I did think she was prettier before she lost so much weight, though. Pressures of the job, I know. But she doesn't make my jaw drop the way she used to.
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bear by san

It's Christmas time again; it's time to be nice to the people you can't stand all year.

So what is the technical difference between stromboli and calzone, anyway? Is it the presence of ricotta in the latter?

And if so, why, when I order a calzone with extra ricotta, hold most of the mozarella, do I get a puddle of melted mozarella with a little bit of bread floating on top?

All right, news blogging after all. I couldn't resist this one.

Via CBS:

"A small bit of news sparked an idea. Amtrak is resuming service on the City of New Orleans. [Arlo Guthrie] said, "well, there's something we can do."

The City of New Orleans train was made famous by a song that Guthrie released in 1972. Now, Guthrie, his family and some of his musician friends are riding the train from Chicago to New Orleans--holding concerts en route-- to raise money for musicians who lost everything to Hurricane

[Guthrie said,] "In our family, singing's one thing. you also have to do something."

The money raised will also purchase instruments and help flood damaged music clubs, many of which did not have insurance.

Usually, road tours with lots of different musicians take many months to get on track. Arlo Guthrie began by sending a mass email to his friends in August, including one [friend] who would not live to see the tour.

Richard Pryor, who died this weekend, helped underwrite the first show.

Willie Nelson will join Guthrie for the finale."

He's got pains in his brains and chimney scars cover his buns.
--Jimmy Buffett, "Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum"

You know, I probably have something like seven or eight hours of cynical Christmas music. That cheers me up, irrationally.
bear by san

You could say I've floundered with the best. (In which the Bear digresses quite spectacularly.)

You know, when you give me a day off, I get into trouble. Remember what we were saying about how cool history can be?

I've just reclaimed a copy of Steeleye Span's wonderful album Back in Line (mine having been a copy on cassette that has not weathered the years, alas), and I'm listening to it while reading The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad and letting my brain try to regenerate so I can do it all over again soon. (It being the whole novel-writing process)

We begin our story in the midst of the Scottish Civil War. Blah blah blah Scottish Civil War blah blah blah. (Consider the stage set.)

The second song on the album is "Isabel." Which is about the captivity of "The Caged Countess"--Isabel of Buchan, who was born a MacDuff (Yes, one of those MacDuffs) (...and I don't recall if the Earl of Buchan was a Stewart yet, or if that came later--oh, wait, Wikipedia has an entry. According to them, her husband was the first Stewart Earl of Buchan)--and who notoriously stole her husband's horses to make it to Scone to crown Robert the Bruce King of Scotland about a month after he stabbed another leading claimant, *"Red" John Comyn, under truce at Dumfries.

In a church.

And then sent men back to finish him off when he found out he hadn't done the job right.

Yep, that's the hero of Scotland.

In a further irony, by the way, John Comyn was descended of Duncan I of Scotland.

Yes, that Duncan.

Are you with me so far?

Carrying onwards (I almost said "carrying on"), rumor has it that Isabel was Robbie's mistress, but anyway, we've got enough prurience here without the smut. (And the smut is in the song, anyway.) Anyway, Robert and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh were crowned in March of 1306 (and let's not even get into the irony of getting your mistress to crown your queen).

Edward I of England sort of naturally found this to be, oh, an act of treason.

By mid-June, Edward I of England's troops had taken Isabel, Elizabeth, Robbie's sister Mary and assorted others captive and sent the Bruce's daughter by his first wife to a nunnery. (She was later to die in a fall from a horse while heavily pregnant. Obviously the nunnery didn't take. (The baby lived.) (And will be back to trouble us momentarily.) )

And here's where the chronology of the song gets a little confused, because the Bruce didn't get his family back for another seven or eight years, when he kicked Edward II's rear end about back to London. (Yes, that Edward II. Different Isabel. Don't get confused by Mel Gibson's inability to render accurate history, though I admit the thickets of Isabels get absolutely bewildering somewhere around Chaucer and persist for a good long while. Just breathe. It's all good.)

Bruce then ransomed the women home. During the interim, Mary and Isabel were kept on display in wooden cages on castle walls. Thus the "Caged Countess."

So anyway, my point is, Isabel would have had a heck of a time watching the battle of Bannockburn. Although, you know, I don't actually know she wasn't there. I suppose it's possible that Edward would have hauled her ass out there to watch Robbie get his head handed to him. Except it didn't quite work out that way.

Okay, anyway, the women are back in Scotland, Robert is King, and Elizabeth eventually produced four children, John, Matilda, Margaret, and David. Of whom only David claimed the throne.

And David died childless, leaving his nephew Robert (remember Robert? He's the one delivered by Caesarean section from the belly of his dying mother at the end of the fifth paragraph above) King.

From Robert (Now Robert II of Scotland) are descended all the Stewarts.

Yes, including the ones that bitched up England so incredibly spectacularly three hundred years later. (Blah blah blah English Civil War [all three of them] blah blah blah.)

If my vague memories of what my rumourmongering geneologist grandmother told me can be trusted, Isabel and Robert are both, in some distant, left side of the blanket, consanguineous sort of way, ancestors of mine. (I'm a Buchanan back there behind the shrubbery, and I think we might be also be somehow vaguely related to America's Worst President (Blah blah blah American Civil War blah blah blah.), but she's dead, so I can't ask her.)

Anyway, all this to explain that it's a little weird hearing a song about the extramarital affairs of one's thirty-five-generations removed ancestors.

Moral of the story: Never, ever, ever give Robert the Bruce or any of his relatives or descendants a government job. The best you can hope for is a civil war. Or five.

*(yeah, yeah, et fix wrong Comyn.)