Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Baka, Baka, Baka!

Trent Lott is a big fat idiot. Read it and weep. The only silver lining is that, if he keeps screwing up like this, maybe we can get Lott out of the leadership quicker than I've hoped.

Sunday, December 08, 2002


Just to prove that the Catholic bit of this blog is somewhat important, I'll point out that today would have been the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, if it weren't the Second Sunday of Advent instead.

Quick misconception check: It's not about the virgin birth of Jesus. The "Immaculate" part in Immaculate Conception doesn't mean Mary's parents didn't have sex, or had her without sex; it means God waved his hand and made Mary free of original sin _from the moment of her conception_. (You could compare this to being conceived already baptized, or you could compare Mary to the pre-fall Eve, the new Eve to bear the new Adam. I've never heard if there's a theological preference, but the poetic tradition all goes for the Ave/Eva dichotomy.) So Jesus was immaculately conceived, too, but Mary is _the_ Immaculate Conception -- the first member of the renewed human race.

I'm supposed to sing with my parish's choir at UD tonight, as part of their "Christmas on Campus". (Well, they can't have a big Christmas thing on campus when everyone's gone, so they pick a Sunday mass during Advent and just add a lot more songs.) I'm not sure this is going to work too well, as my throat is sore, my knee is killing me, and I missed Tuesday's practice. (Oooops.) But the show must go on. I will simply avoid any soprano descants and hope for the best.

"My lady, my queen, my little girl"

Given that I have a prayer card of Our Lady of Guadelupe tacked up in my cube, I hope I'll actually remember to post something about her feast next week. I will recommend in advance getting one of the wonderful albums of Mexican baroque music dedicated to La Guadalupana. My album's "Guadelupe: Virgen de los Indios", by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE). It includes songs in Nahuatl and Spanish from cathedral archives throughout Latin America. Several were composed by Native American converts. There's also spoken texts from the Nican Mopohua, the Nahuatl account of the Guadelupe apparitions. (And if you go to their page, you can hear some MP3 clips.)

Speaking of Nican Mopohua, you can read a translation of the full text online. It's beautiful and not all that long.

And as he drew near the little hill called Tepeyac it was beginning to dawn. He heard singing on the little hill, like the song of many precious birds; when their voices would stop, it was as if the hill were answering them; extremely soft and delightful, their songs exceeded the songs of the coyoltotl and the tzinitzcan and other precious birds. Juan Diego stopped to look...

And then when the singing suddenly stopped, when it could no longer be heard, he heard someone calling him, from the top of the hill...And when he reached the top of the hill, a Maiden who was standing there said to him...

"Listen, my dearest and youngest son, Juan, where are you going?"

"My lady, my queen, my little girl, I am going as far as your little house in Mexico-Tlatilolco, to follow the things of God...that are given us, that are taught to us by the ones who are the images of Our Lord -- your priests."

...."Know -- know for certain, my dearest and youngest son, that I am the perfect, ever-virgin, holy Mary, mother of the one great God of truth who brings us life, the inventor and creator of people...I very much want them to build my little house here, in which I will show him, I will exalt him in making him manifest.

"I will give him to the people in all my personal love...because I am truly your compassionate mother -- of you and of all the people who live together in this land, and of all the other people of different ancestries -- those who love me, those who cry to me, those who seek me, those who trust in me...."

...And immediately he prostrated himself in her presence; he said to her: "My lady, my little girl, now I am going to make your venerable breath, your venerable word, a reality...."

Now that Juan Diego's been canonized, I suspect this feast will be particularly merry down in Mexico.

Don't Buy Anti-Semitic!

This story on the new European anti-semitism reveals that five European countries have banned all kosher food production. One, Switzerland, is considering banning kosher food imports. In related news, Sweden is considering banning ritual circumcision.

I am sickened. This is exactly the kind of stuff that makes me thank God my ancestors came to the US. Also, I knew animal rights activists were pretty unscrupulous, but I didn't know they'd sink so low as to let themselves be a front for a bunch of little Hitlers.

Well, the heck with this. In the name of that Jewish guy I happen to worship, I'm boycotting all five countries involved. From now on, I will not be visiting or buying stuff from Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, or Denmark.

This is inconvenient for me, since I love tins of butter cookies from Scandinavian countries. But I'm willing to fast so my brothers and sisters can eat. Institute a little more freedom of religion, o Hanseatic Injustice League, and I'll see about giving you a little more freedom of my wallet.

Never Again

Here's one of my fellow fans who would no doubt have done a lot for the world. Instead, he died in Theresienstadt. But Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon flew his "Moon Landscape" into orbit. So rest well, Petr Ginz.

Possibly Not Increasing My MovieCred

Ain't It Cool News ran a contest last week: write a movie proposal guaranteed to be a bomb. The winners are impressively offensive efforts; proof that the depths of movie death were not plumbed by Battlefield Earth. But alas, one of them actually sounds good to me!

Yes, you guessed it. Abortion, the adventures of Leroy the Kung Fu Fetus as he struggles to escape his mother's womb so he can survive his father's attempts to kill him. I mean, yeah, it's highly nasty to just about every side...but hey, it's time for another righteously edgy movie. Maybe the guys from South Park and Kevin Smith should take this project on.

(And yes, I know I'm a sick woman. But wouldn't it be cool to see a Christian movie featuring mad fetal kung fu skills vs. the Evil Dr. Killmeister? W00t!)

Solaris Review

You've got a spare couple hours this weekend. You like a story that's a little Twilight Zone-y. (Everybody likes Twilight Zone, right?) So why not go see Solaris? It's a really good science fiction mystery, it's beautifully shot, and the actors act their brains out. (Okay, and George Clooney's naked. But it's the most chivalrously shot sex scene in recent memory -- none of this show-all-the-actress, show-nothing-of-the-actor stuff. Besides, it's so dark you never see much more than Clooney's backside, so don't fuss.)

The story is not some gloomy art film thing. It's about love and loss, reparation and redemption, and how much you really know the people you love. It does get pretty angsty. Bad things happen, people do bad things, and the portrayal of suicidal depression is scarily true-to-life if you've been there. But the overall message is that we need to respect life and each other, and not despair.

Why is this movie not being praised to the skies by religious writers? Is it the sex scene? (Oh, please; they praise lots of flicks including premarital sex.) Is it the fact that the right thing is defined by what happens if you don't do it? Are some people not paying enough attention, so they want things spelled out in a voiceover at the end instead of just paying attention to all the clues? Or is it just that there's a real lack of appreciation for Polish sf made into Soviet movies made into Soderbergh/Cameron collaborations?

*sigh* This isn't action/adventure sf. This is the low budget Doctor Who or X-Files tradition (albeit done with a very nice budget), where the sets look vaguely like someone's deserted workplace, you rarely see aliens or monsters close up, and talking about what the heck's going on and why provides most of the interest. Personally, I like a good creeping sense of terror or wonder, while trying to figure out which one it will be.

So don't be a Scrooge! It's a great flick! Indulge your fannish soul and go see this sad, uplifting, funny, odd little movie. I loved it, and if you go in with the right attitude, you will, too.

You Must Be Kidding Me

CBS Sunday Morning did a story on some Judith Leiber woman's purses. They kept talking about how elegant they were. They were kitsch. Something that's covered in rhinestones or shaped like a tomato is kitsch. It can be cute, funny, cost more money than I make in a year, and be carried by every diva and Hollywood star -- but that doesn't make it high elegance. It makes it a slightly more expensive, more well-made version of the crap you find at garage sales.

I applaud this Leiber woman for making bucks by having fun, though. I just wish the rich and powerful women of this country had the guts to openly embrace their inner trailer trash, instead of pretending they are patronizing works of fine art.

(However, I very much appreciated the essay on how high heels hurt. Go, Nancy! Also, I'm glad to say that Baz Luhrmann's Broadway production of La Boheme looks and sounds very nice. The amplification of voices is an unfortunate necessity given the theater; the presentation of the opera looks like 40's dress, which looks very good; and using Moulin Rouge's popularity is the perfect way to get first-time-opera-going butts into seats. Go, Baz, and go, his wife the production designer!)