Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on YouTube!

Don’t the second two raise questions about the first one?

Just for kicks

What I did on my summer vacation

The Secret of Phantom Lake

(To the tune Identikit, by Radiohead)

Our country club was one tennis court
in the middle of a marsh,

and a large, rectangular pool

doubling a small, moon-shaped lake,
whose surface was always as black

as cannonballs stacked in the sun.

The girl was saved from drowning
in the deep end under the diving boards,

as I ran back and forth along the edge,

dripping dry, nothing to assuage
my guilt choking on action

even as it tried to swallow inaction.

Anger, that dispels all phantoms
and then creates more of its own.

To have a will as clear as water
without urine and chlorine.

Next morning, steam rose from the lake,

pieces of a ragdoll mankind,
that we can create, that we can create

as witnessed by reeds and cattails.

“Natural order? You sound like one of those insane Neo-Catholics.”

Altered-Carbon-2

…is an actual line of dialogue from Altered Carbon, Netflix’s dense and gorgeous sci-fi series about life after death has been digitally defeated. Consciousness has been codified, so you can get “spun up” into a new bodily “sleeve” for all eternity — provided you have the means. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s this weird bunch of religious zealots who object — who make noises about soul and body having more to do with each other than ghost and machine, who think it devilish to deny death and what comes after. Who make noises about human dignity. Remarkable.

It’s chock full of sex and violence, and the dialogue isn’t always the strongest, and the acting isn’t always spot-on. But there’s a lot there, and I’m kinda fascinated. It’d be fun to see some smart Catholic critic dig into it. Heh.

Fathers and Sons

ADDED: A primer for those who don’t know why NYFG fans hate the PEs (and, yes, of course, the NEPs too.

ADDED: Exhibit A & B.

How I Feel Now that Philadelphia ("Ptui!”) Is Going to the Super Bowl

How I Feel Now that Philadelphia (“Ptui!”) Is Going to the Super Bowl

 

There is the boy and there are the certain facts of boyhood
(Though nothing autobiographical
Is ever really deduced, is ever really reducible).

Yet the boy’s whole story is as any boy’s life, full
Of moment and followed by others, messily progressing
Along in the plain old myth-telling style.

There was the boy and his father — a fact which must go
Unverified as a creature’s cause. That which didn’t
Make self, though, inherited at least this knowledge:

There is the father and the son – met in boisterous love of sport
Which welded the lessons of thunderous anger
And the sadness hidden in laughter’s cloudbanks.

The boy’s hand consumed in his father’s, they would walk
The yard, policing November’s washout of light;
Spring would arrive only later in the Sun’s cult.

But now was the time to take all of creation into account,
To find the faults in the earth where hide the virtues
Of fathers, to corral the sins of the sons with a hard stewardship.

In these wintry days, the son played Icarus with his father’s
Crafted matchstick ships, motorized by cleverness;
Or played Phaeton pilfering matchbooks and cigars; or Ganymede

Holding the cold brown bottle of Olympia beer for
Father Zeus watching Sunday football, weighing and sighing
In the gridded and hashed balance of his favor-fought heroes.

Thus, Zeus’s gaze fell shadow-like on the U.S.S. Missouri’s
Jacked keel, but withheld just punishments for playing
Fire’s innocence, and hounded the N.Y. Giants weekly battles

Against his patience – all things that youth reaches for
In the hardened hands of time, the works and ways
Of which the golden scales tip in a boy’s growing favor.

Hostiles

A very good movie, which reminded me a little of (the also very good) Meek’s Cutoff in its consideration of the mutual antagonism between Native Americans and White Settlers. The year is 1892, and the now safely united US government has all but finished clearing the way for westward expansion. Captain Joseph Blocker, who has himself done a fair amount of this clearing, has now been tasked with escorting a former adversary, Cheyanne Chief Yellow Hawk, from a fort in New Mexico Territory to the Chief’s ancestral lands in the newly created state of Montana. Violence ensues and then recurs like bad spells of the weather, meted out by both the U.S. Army and what Native warriors remain. Though, interestingly enough, not between Chief Yellow Hawk and Blocker, who need one another to fight other hostiles, Native American and Caucasian alike.

The friend with whom I watched it praised the movie for its story of a man growing beyond the racism with which he performed his duty to clear the territories by subjugating or killing people he refers to as “savages”. I saw that, but what interested me more was the way the knife’s edge between sanity and insanity was even sharper than that between violence and peace. In the end I decided that it was because of Blocker’s stubborn insistence on sanity that he is able to rise above the genocidal racism by which he has fought, and lay claim to the humanity he’ll need away from the battlefield. Uniformly well acted, especially by Christian Bale, and director Scott Cooper’s best yet.

My New Paper Shredder

is an absolute dream. For years I’ve hunched over a brown paper grocery bag every few months, laboriously trying to cut my medical reports and payment past due notices into confetti. This year I got a brand new shredder for Christmas, and feeding six months worth of backlogged paper into this hungry little monster was the most fun I’ve had since piling up all those bills and medical problems in the first place.

shredded

As I was about to take the bag down to the recycling bin, I spied one cutting that read “on bended knee”. Seemed significant. What on earth could the gods be trying to tell me?

I looked at another that turned out to have a number of Chinese characters. Assuming I could safely disregard these, I sat down right there on the floor and pulled out a few more, continuing to disregard the Chinese characters, lines of seemingly random numbers and letters, and of course those that were blank or had been cut perpendicular to lines of text. What I ended up with was this:

fortunes

Thank Heavens for my training in Classics, which included deciphering legends stamped onto coins, the handling of ancient manuscripts, and—most helpful here— epigraphy. Here’s what I’ve been able to determine:

IMPORTANT:
[Your] mission is [at] 5:00 on T[itan.] We have the e-Surge, and we claim thy pathways logo are trademarks of Cenall. They are like nomination meetings, or s[oft]ened [skulls], but [oh] how it felt on bended knee! Now is the time, Wanderer—pray tell your fri[ends they] ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY.

So there you have it. Not gods, I now understand, but that intergalactic force of aliens from EGS-zs8-1 now hiding behind Planet X. While I appreciate the information as well as sentiments conveyed in that last line via all caps, I’m not sure how I feel about Cenall claiming my pathways. And they may denigrate said pathways as a reading back of the minutes of an annual Rotary Club meeting or Aunt Sylvia’s habit of including herself in the conversation on Fox and Friends, but the point is simply this: these pathways may not be pretty, but the fact is they work. What you’re feeling there is success. You’re welcome.

So I won’t be disposed of that easily. I’m a man of my word, so you can count on me to make that trip to Titan—but you can also expect me to wander by the Cenall HQ on Europa before I do. And then we’ll see about that e-Surge, you can be sure of that.

BREAKING: Wisconsin Marshmallow Farms Report Bumper Crop

What? Did you think they grew on trees?

image2

marshmallow farm cropped 1

marshmallow farm cropped 2

Early reports indicate that the graham cracker harvest will be equally vigorous this year—although no world yet on how the chocolate season will fare – it all depends on whether the cocoa fish will be as plentiful this year (last year they suffered from a caramel blight, reducing the total intake of chocolate oil for processing).

Film at eleven.

“…to the last syllable of recorded time.”

copyHeath Ledger’s Joker performs Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…” for a captive and humiliated Batman at the most recent iteration of Cherie Peacock’s Shakespeare Party, held at the La Mesa home of Tim and Roisin O’Neill.