Search This Blog

Loading...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Gathering Storm.




The Change destroyed the technological achievements of man, and prevents them from being recreated. In its wake, civilization died in all but a few guarded and lucky enclaves, along with 98% of the population. In the first trilogy, the forces of Free Oregon struggled to grow and survive against the SCA/gangsta fusion centered in Portland around the fearsome sociopath Norman Arminger. The good guys clustered around Wiccan singer and priestess Juniper Mackenzie (Clan Mackenzie), Marine Mike Havel (the Bearkillers), the Faculty Senate of Oregon State University (Corvallis) and the Benedictine Abbot-Bishop Dmwoski (Mount Angel Monastery and town). Free Oregon defeated one massive invasion from Portland, then the second invasion was aborted into a duel between Havel and Arminger, which saw both men kill each other, though the result was worse for the more fractious Protectorate. The armistice which followed left the Protectorate briefly destabilized and weakened by the treaty requirement that any of the serfs who wanted to leave the Protectorate were allowed to do so.

The beginning of The Sunrise Lands finds the Pacific Northwest in CY 21/22, and peace reigns following what is now referred to as the War of the Eye. The Corvallis Meeting defuses most disputes between the growing statelets. Another factor preserving the peace is the friendship between Mathilda Arminger and Rudi Mackenzie. Mathilda is the heir to the Protectorate throne, and Rudi has officially been "hailed" as "tanist," or assistant, to his Chieftain mother.

All is idyllic, and then a stranger from the "Sunrise Lands" east of the Mississippi stumbles into the Clan's largest city, pursued by a team of fanatical assassins.

The stranger, Ingolf Vogeler, has been to Nantucket, and desperately needs to talk to "the Son of the Bear" about a vision featuring a sword...

We don't see all of the familiar characters in this installment. We only hear about the Bearkillers, for instance. Ken Larssen has died in the interim, and Will Hutton no longer heads the Outfit, having relinquished the role to Signe Havel.

We also don't see any of the good guy Corvallans, though a developing reputation for Venetian slipperiness by the city-state's merchants is demonstrated in one scene. The lesson: don't try to pour snake oil on Astrid Loring.

Ah, yes--everyone's favorite bat-guano crazy Tolkien reader has settled into married life with Alleyne Loring rather nicely, though Alleyne and Eilir Hordle can only soften the edges of Astrid's LOTR fundamentalism.

How fundamentalist? The Dunedain Rangers are raising their kids from the cradle to speak Sindarin. Or as much Sindarin as can be cobbled together from "the Histories," as they are called. Little John Hordle remains a massive pillar of sanity and nicely reformulates a Dune aphorism for use by the Rangers. Via broad Hampshire, of course--right down to the "Oy!"

But the main perspective characters are, as can be imagined, Mathilda, Rudi and Ingolf. Also featuring as major perspective characters are Mary and Ritva Havel (Mike and Signe's oldest daughters), now proud and frighteningly effective Rangers; Baron Odard Liu, son of the late unlamented Eddie Liu; Edain Aylward, eldest son of Aylward the Archer; and the Benedictine warrior-priest Fr. Ignatius (born Karl Bergfried).

It is discovered that the assassins are from the Church Universal and Triumphant, a budding technology-hating syncretist theocracy growing in Montana-Wyoming area. Its leader is called The Prophet, and he's ripped right from history. The Church's military arm fights using tactics reminiscent of the Mongols and the Arab Muslims. Vogeler's vision jibes with the ones Juniper has had, so it is quickly decided that they will have to go to Nantucket to try to figure out what it means. Which, of course, means eventually braving one of the worst death zones on Earth, America east of the Mississippi (Excluding Northern Michigan, right? Right?), whose only two-legged survivors have devolved below the level of barbarism.

But they have to get by the CUT, first--and the Prophet knows about the vision, too....

Along the way we meet an Army Ranger bent on restoring the United States of America, right down to the successful collection of a handful of surviving Senators and Representatives, see a battle between the Prophet's forces and two opponents, go on a tiger hunt, experience betrayals, sword fights, Terminator quotes, comic book references, find out what the Ballad of Eskimo Nell sounds like in Sindarin, read a handwritten note from Benedict XVI and learn how to survive in a blizzard in the mountains. Oh, and did I mention possible visions from the future? Toss in nice nods to A Canticle For Leibowitz and the LOTR movie, and you have plenty to keep you busy.

Some of the Amazon reviews have argued that the series is turning into fantasy. I don't read it that way at all. Yes, the protagonists are getting some vivid visions and sendings, but the Alien Space Bats are probably capable of that, don't you think? There are some high stakes at work, and you can read (I'm speaking from speculation, not knowledge) hints of a battle going on beyond the character's perception.

Mild disappointments: The abrupt resolution of the Antipope Leo storyline--there was a creepy vibe that never quite got off the ground. Also, I like the Bearkillers a lot, and they don't show up here. Then again, it's a trilogy, and the way things are shaping up, that will be remedied.

Positives: Pretty much everything else. The plotlines are handled very crisply, and we get good looks at the major players, good and evil. And you can't avoid the nice deliberate nod to the Fellowship of the Ring, with Edain's turn as Sam Gamgee being especially apt. A lethal Samwise, but still our Sam. And the Catholic bits are especially well-handled and I'm not saying that to pat myself on the back. The Faith is handled with a welcome sensitivity, and easy caricatures aren't even on the radar.

It really is the best of the series, with the new post-Change world finally settling down and coming into its own. And, since it ends on a brutal trio of cliffhangers, you'll want the next installment in short order.

Not so BTW--TSL is in its third week on the New York Times Bestseller List. So you might as well start jumping on the bandwagon if you haven't already. There's still plenty of room.

Sorry.

I really thought this new template idea would be a project of a few minutes.

It's not, obviously.

Be patient with the links.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I feel a lot better about the size of our newborns now.



They're both newborns. The one on the left is Nadia Barabanova, weighing in at a tidy 17.1 pounds. Favorite line, as described by Mom:

"What did the father say? He couldn't say a thing -- he just stood there blinking."

Yeah. That's the only sane reaction: Shock. The only reason Mom is coherent is because it was a c-section.

Their twelfth.

[Photo credit]

Humor me.

Yes, I'm redoing the blog.

And yes, I've screwed up the links and Haloscan.

Bear with me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Resolved: this House will in no circumstances fight for King and Country."

Columbia students cheer Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The only good news is that these are American college students we're talking about. By definition, a herd of lockstep freethinkers with "Question Authority" bumperstickers on the Maximas Mom and Dad bought who confuse education with intelligence. Many of them will graduate college, get slapped with clues and regret this behavior later.

Rather like they do now on Sundays, waking up with a pounding hangover and realizing that cocktails of Everclear, Milwaukee's Best and Ecstasy aren't the elixir of life.

Still, cheering Islamofascism a few blocks away from Ground Zero...

Here's the regime you were applauding in action, kiddies.
My morning--in a nutshell.




[Also via Mgoblog.]
Yes, our man-love for Mike Hart is getting restraining-order weird.



What can I say? He'd carry a sack of anvils and still get 125 yards.

Probably the best Wolverine back. As in ever.

[Via Mgoblog.]
Last one out of Michigan, shut off the lights.

UAW and GM just can't all get along.

And the state government's set to shutdown October 1 because of a gigantic budget deficit.

Oh, that's right--I could play safety for the Lions.

Wheee!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Offer your congrats here!

1. To Franklin Jennings, who is now, in the words of Long Duc Dong, "mellied" and back from the honeymoon. It's all a breeze from here.

Congrats to the Bride and lucky groom!

2. To James Fellrath, whose lovely bride is going in for a scheduled c-section today. Apologies to Jen for crushing her in the fantasy football league game last week. No, there is no crying in FF, and no mercy--not even for ladies in a family way.

The new child will join the handsome Duncan in speaking like a pirate, being experts in soccer, getting bekilted, using words like "laddie," scarfing haggis and generally being the most Scottish folk ever surnamed Fellrath.

Congrats, and hope all goes well. We expect--nay, demand!--pictures of the child and soon.
Yeah. Why fight it?

You am what you is.


I am nerdier than 77% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!



NerdTests.com says I'm a Kinda Dorky Nerd God. What are you? Click here!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Attention, Domers.

No gloating here--just pure relief. College footballdom won't be talking much about the Wolverines this week. I think, my brothers and sisters, that Hunk might be dead on this year. I ended the game not ecstatic, but puzzled. Passing on our usual tradition of talking about Michigan wins right after the game, Dad and I didn't even discuss it until Sunday. Frankly, we have no idea what it says about the Maize and Blue.

Wonder of wonders, the Lions overcame boneheaded plays and one inexcusable coaching blunder to win in OT. Again, we don't know much about this team yet, except that (1) it has more guts than previous editions, and (2) it will go into a death spiral if Kitna gets sidelined. Way to arrange for a quality backup there, Mr. Front Office Guy Whose Name I Tire of Saying. Speaking of Kitna--he just might might might be the leader the team has been looking for these past few decades.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

And my other princess turned three today.

Rachel on her birthday:



Boo on her first Easter:





And just this summer, staring out of the window of her Papa's car:




Love you, sweet pea.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Whoa.

What happened here?
Something tells me the CCD program she attended during her genuinely-Catholic days had ample supplies of glitter and markers.

Carl Olson finds a Newsweek interview of another person who asserts she's a Catholic priest(ess).

Jessica Rowley strikes me as a very pleasant person with a genuine thirst for aspects of holiness. She is a lot happier than the cohort of lemon-eating sisters striking a blow against patriarchy, kyriarchy and good sense. Moreover, she--unlike those determined to call themselves Catholic--admits that she is no longer a member of the Church.

So, a tall finger of fellowship to Newsweek for the title. Then again

A woman who left Catholicism is ordained to serve an offshoot church that claims it has a Catholic priesthood. Not surprisingly, the Catholic hierarchy does not have a lot to say about it because the episcopate can't comment on every Catholic who leaves the Church, but obviously cannot approve

doesn't fit the printing template very well. In fact, such a story doesn't get published.

However, like the unpleasantly-ordained who still call themselves communing Catholics, she privileges the zeitgeist and displays a feather-soft spirituality. For example: you will search in vain for references to discipleship in the interview.

Once again, it's the Church of the Perpetual Hello and Welcome. And they're bleeding to death everywhere you find them, regardless of the title they currently have on the sign out front.

I hope the ECC enjoys its instant of fame. I wouldn't care to bet on the odds of the communion making it to 2040.
Ummmm...firearm deer season doesn't start until November 15. And you can't use a 7.62mm round for hunting in Wayne County anyway...


Yikes.


Lebanese Muslim medical student arrested in Dearborn park toting a loaded AK-47, dressed in camo. Personal website's a Hezbo love feast. Last uploaded picture (day of the incident) says "The Start of My Personal Jihad (In The U.S.)"


Hard to find the "spiritual struggle" angle on this one.


My best guess: from the timing of everything (arrival back from Lebanon, the gun purchase, the clothing, the post and the nature of the arrest), he couldn't go through with it. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hey! Get some beer... . And some cleaning products.

OK, I couldn't pass on this one--Chris Johnson lighting up the foggy, plaintive demideity of The Episcopal Church.

There's that dreaming god of hers again. I think I know why so many people leave the Episcopal Church for Rome, Constantinople or Geneva and it has nothing to do with doctrine. It has to do with the fact that in those three traditions, God actually does something once in a while. Kate's stoner deity just sits around all day, gets baked, listens to Pink Floyd and wishes that somebody somewhere would do something about all the problems of the world. And bring him some Doritos.

RTWT.

And bonus points for whoever identifies the film from which the post title is taken.
Blogkeeping.

Kathy Shaidle has new digs. Be warned, however: despite the title, there's a decided and stunning shift in tone and emphasis, with posts about feng shui, fashion tips, and (!) making your own pillow shams. Despite this, I'm happy to update the blogroll. Soon.

Longtime commenter Franklin Jennings is getting himself hitched this weekend (using the Extraordinary Form), and Jim Cork hosted the bachelor party. Congratulations and welcome to the world of the Much More Responsible, Franklin!

I owe a friend some overdue (English understatement) assistance, and work is bonkers of late, so--wait for it--posting will be sparse.

However, look for the review of this on the weekend. Early comment: the best so far.



Despite my vow, I'll probably watch bits of what has been dubbed the "Cripple Fight" between Michigan and ND this Saturday. Heck, I watched the Lions last Sunday.

And, by all means, laugh it up, anti-Wolverines. Two words for next year: Les Miles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tally ho!

The British thwart metrification. Score one for the foot, pound and gallon.
9/11 on 9/12.

I didn't think I'd have anything to add to this and this.

Except for the fact I hadn't counted on the dismaying ingenuity of the American political system. Sorry, Gov. Patrick, but it is pathetically stupid to talk about the murderous assault using anodyne 9/10 Therapyspeak. "Tragedy" and "incidents" do not begin to cut it.



"A failure of human understanding...a failure of human beings
to understand each other, to learn to love each other."

If that's the best his third-tier speechwriters can do, then perhaps the Governor should consider having a mime deliver next year's speech.

Look: by all accounts, Deval Patrick was a dedicated and capable assistant attorney general back in the mid-90s. Would that the dogged advocate had shown up here. But the other legal tendency, which cultivates blurred and passive lawyer language, is embarrassing in this setting.

Those who planned and executed the slaughter six years ago understood perfectly what they were doing. And they gloried in it. And, oh, would they just love to do it again. They have no intention of learning a damn thing from us--except to the extent it helps to kill ever-larger numbers.




The word you're looking for, Governor, is "evil."

Monday, September 10, 2007

From the Daaaaaad! Files.

Madeleine: "Daddy, Dale says he won't play with me because he only plays with me on Mondays."

Me: "This is a Monday."

Maddie: [brightens] "Oh, OK."

Me: "Dale, this is Monday."

Dale: "I didn't know that. All right."

Then they proceed to play amicably in the dirt.

Problem solved.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Madeleine!

My baby girl turned six today. 2:14pm, September 6, 2001. 8 lbs, 12 oz of evicted ("induced") fury. And heart-melting beauty.

Two from then:





One from now:



Love you, little girl.

Where did the days go?

Blame Canada.

The whiny Canucks wear out Rome and get the right to use the dread NRSV as their lectionary. It's a time-honored tactic, and why not? It works.

Take note, fellow orthodox: tick-on-a-dog's-ass tenacity pays dividends.

All of this is being done to placate a tiny elite group of people whose second generation will sleep in on Sundays anyway.

The slight (think tick) good news? We can change it when they're gone. Good news part two: "With most of its inclusive language intact." "Most"?

Best piece of good news? I don't live in Canada and don't have to go to church there to listen to the cack-handed translation.

But for the most part, this decision is absolutely horrid. Not to mention mind-boggling. How on earth is this squared with Liturgiam Authenticam? For all of the banalities/general clunkiness in the NAB, and the half-hearted throw at inclusive language in the RNAB, it wasn’t an ideologically-driven project from the start.

Others in Fr. Zuhlsdorf's combox do a good job of showing the fatal problems with the NRSV (especially Kevin Edgecomb), but I’ll add the most infuriating from my perspective: the rendering of Daniel 7:13, which turns the crucial "son of Man" passage into "I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven…"

Nice. No, that "Son of Man" phrase isn't important at all. No, sir--er, ma'am--er, Ms.--er, M. Combine that with the nuking of the christological signals in the Psalms, and the NRSV does a better job of severing Christ from the Old Testament than Marcion.

And this will definitely be an encouragement for the Ministry of Inclusivity types here in the US. An amazingly bad decision.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Schembechlerism: College Football's faded Arianism.

Oh, this is just beautiful, all over. From a commenter at Mgoblog, what is wrong with Michigan football:

What we witnessed on Saturday is an indication that we're in the final, terminal stage of Schembechlerism, a religious approach to football which, stripped of its positive qualities now that Bo is gone, has become a stale creed kept in place by rote observance and ritualistic repetition. Lloyd Carr has been an extremely loyal adherent to this philosophy, having learned at the foot of the master himself. However, like most acolytes in such positions, he's lacking in the founder's personal dynamism or charisma that can make up for the practical deficiencies in the ideology.

Schembechlerism asserts:

• It is never necessary to make a hard, realistic assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses as compared to your opponent's. This relieves you of the burden of developing game plans tailored to your opponent. We are Michigan, after all, and all we need to do is execute properly what we want to do anyhow. Of course, this also relieves the opponent of the necessity of preparing for anything that they haven't seen on tape or film already, but the element of surprise is very overrated and probably gay anyhow. It doesn't matter that we've averaged under 12 points per game against USC in Rose Bowls since 1970; we know each and every time we play them that we don't need to do a damn thing different than what we've done all season long. Why? We're Michigan, dammit.

• Speaking of unmanly things, anything smacking of subterfuge, trickery, or sleight-of-hand is also unholy and probably gay. Although the observation of this unspoken rule has in truth been spotty at times, it is only resorted to in extremis, like when we're down by 17 points in the fourth quarter at Minnesota. This is why Michigan will not use play action as part of the base offense. Just because an initial fake to Mike Hart will induce the entire defense to converge on his tiny person is no reason to use it. (Besides, according to Father Andy Mignery, using play action creates pass blocking problems. No word on how teams as diverse as USC and Boise State, not to mention the entire NFL, manage to solve that religious conundrum, but remember: we're Michigan. We don't need to look at what other teams do. Why? Because we're Michigan).

• Never, never hire a Special Teams coach with a recognized talent for that arcane part of the game. It is far better to have already overworked position coaches, or better yet, grad students, take control. Just because ST is one-third of the game is no reason to go crazy. This means you can do fine with LBs—as opposed to players with actual blocking experience—for critical blocking assignments. It also means you can refuse to double up gunners aiming for Steve Breaston's femurs. Kicking to Rocket twice is fine, too. To refuse to kick to him again is ever-so-slightly poofy. Having punts blocked is also good.

• Whenever possible, make sure your defensive backs line up at least 10 yards off the receiver and backpedal furiously at the snap. It is far better to yield the entire middle of the field than to have even the slightest possibility you'll get beat on a long bomb, which is unmanly. This is especially critical when the opponent needs to go 70 yards with less than two minutes to play. Besides, the repeated stabbings of 8-yard passes to wide-open TEs and RBs in the middle of the field stimulate the appearance of stigmata on the foreheads of duly reverent UM fans. This served us well in the Rose Bowl back on January 1, 1972 against the Stanford Harbaughs, and has worked beautifully many times since then.

• Beware of recruiting speed on the defensive side of the ball: it is the seductive siren of the spiritually dirty. In a morally pure world their RBs wouldn't be faster than our hulking LBs, and we shouldn't abandon our principles merely for the sake of adequate coverage on 3rd and 7. Just as important, ensure that Saint Gittelson is unquestioned. Squats are for pansies.

• On first down, run, do not pass, regardless of the number of defenders crowding the LOS. On third-and-eight, throw a five-yard pass, regardless of the absence of blockers. If our RBs and wideouts are pure of heart, they will find a way.

• Always, always, always run a sweep to the short side of the field, regardless of circumstances. The Book of Schembechlerism says that the sideline functions as an additional blocker. Those who assert that the close presence of the sideline gives the advantage to the defense are impure and very probably unmanly.

• Lastly, it is critically important that all major staffing decisions be made with the goal of maintaining Schembechlerism at all costs. Therefore, whenever a coordinator position needs to be filled, it is imperative to not look far and wide for the most qualified coach; the on-staff assistant or trusted personal friend are the only permissible options. We must not let the filthiness of other football religions and philosophies enter the hallowed meeting rooms of Fort Schembechler. Remember: all those vermin outside are enemies of the Panicky Deep Safety Drop, the Short-Side Sweep, the First-Down Off-Tackle Run, the Lead-Footed Short-Armed Linebacker, and the Five-Yard Pass on Third-and-Eight. Vigilance is necessary and permanent.

Re: the worst day ever in Michigan fandom.

What Mgoblog says goes for me. And the reference to the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay is a nice historical touch.

There's only so much hype, BS and inexcusable coaching one can stand in a lifetime, and I've reached the saturation point.

This team hasn't had a collective set of clockweights since some guy named Brady lined up over center. Nor a killer instinct. Nor an ability to adjust. Nor the sheer strength of will to get off the mat.

As Sports Illustrated said in 1997, the "M" stands for "mediocre."

Sparties, Buckeyes, Nittany Lions fans, all of college footballdom--you're right: the Wolverines are a perennially overrated fraud and an arrogant program that thinks itself immune to reality.

Enjoy the rest of your NCAA football season.