Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Fannish/Scadian POW No More!

Sgt. James J. Riley was the senior person left alive in his part of the 507th, so he was the one who had to decide to surrender when they no longer had any working weapons. (Sandstorms. Yuck.) He was then senior POW until the helicopter guys got there the next day. He certainly seems to have acquitted himself well.

His family seems to be bearing up wonderfully under all the media coverage (and the weight of their grief for his sister Mary, who died in her coma three days after he was captured, apparently). His mom is just everybody's mom, and his dad has a great accent compounded of New Zealand plus New Jersey. I loved his joke at the news conference. When his mom said their son was just doing his duty, his dad said he wasn't. "In fact, he's been AWOL for three weeks!" Glad to know our family's not the only one with a slightly black sense of humor.... But I really didn't like how the Good Morning America lady interviewed them this morning. If you have to bring up the grief for their daughter, ask the parents something cheerful afterwards, please! Don't just drop them into a well of depression and leave them there! Also, somebody should get the media away from the house, give the Rileys some bread and milk, and make 'em sleep for about three days. They look like they need it.

I'm really thrilled about all the POWs, of course, and particularly Shoshana Johnson. (And why do they keep saying she looked "frightened" on the Al-Jazeera video? She looked wary, is how she looked. There's a difference.) Strange that two of the moms had birthdays yesterday and today, huh? *Cue Twilight Zone music* But as Patrick Nielsen Hayden said, he's a member of our tribe.

Welcome home, Sergeant Riley! Hope I see you around at a con sometime. Or maybe this year at Pennsic, eh?

Some reports from his local newspaper, the Cherry Hill Courier Post:"Pennsauken's James Riley alive and well", "Son's stubbornness might have helped him cope, Rileys say", "Neighbors rejoice at rescue", and "Merchantville congregation elated by Riley's rescue". From the nearby Philadelphia Inquirer, "Prayers answered, N.J. couple says" and from the Philadelphia Daily News, "Thumbs-Up for POW". Also, from North, "POW Freed and Nation Rejoices", from The Trentonian, "Family Rejoices with Release of POW", and from the Sydney Morning Herald, "Kiwi among US troops found alive in Iraq". Here's the fullest summation of Riley family conversation I've seen, at CBS News. Here's the best summation of the joy I've seen, in The Baltimore Sun but from the Los Angeles Times.

And there was much rejoicing.

Signs of the Times

The pickup truck at the business next door that had all the anti-war and do-nasty-things-to-Bush bumper stickers? (The one that also had the "I Brake for Amazons" one, bizarrely enough?) Well, over the weekend -- maybe even last week, since I didn't see it then -- those bumper stickers magically disappeared.

It takes a big person to admit to being wrong, and I salute this action.

More Evidence the Rowling Legal Team Never Read the Book

Apparently, Tanya's psycho cousin Pipa does not have a crush on Garry Potter (the Russian spelling of Harry). No, the mysterious G.P. she's in love with (along with a lot of other Russian girls, apparently) is the mysterious "Gurry Pupper". Who also appears in the next three books in the Tanya Grotter series. In fact, his name appears on both front and back covers of Book 3 (TG and the Golden Leech), as well as being a major part of the plot of the upcoming fourth book (TG and the Throne of Dvernir), as the aloof Mr. Pupper finally falls in love -- with someone who isn't interested.

You know, when you have two Harry analogue-characters in a story, you'd think that would prove it was a parody. And a very complex one, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

A GOOD Appointment in Samarra!

News is coming in that our seven POWs have been rescued by Special Forces! Iraqis tipped off our guys along the road to Tikrit that they were being held in Samarra, having been hauled there from Baghdad. Since this ancient market town is perhaps best known in the West for that angel of death story, this is an incredibly wonderful piece of irony!

(If you don't know the story: once there was a Baghdad man who was walking down the street and met the angel of death. He thought he was going to die, but the angel just looked surprised. "My appointment with you isn't for a week." So the man decided he had a week to get away from Death, and ran off to Samarra. He had just begun to count himself safe when he ran into the angel of death again. "Ah, there you are," said the angel. "I wondered why my appointment with you was in Samarra!")