Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Grand Unified Theory of Harry Potter

Maybe not that broad...but almost. Presenting Lycoris' chess theory.

What is the sound of several million hands slapping (their foreheads)?

Visiting Hell! (and Purgatory/Heaven)

We hear a lot about how school was better in the old days, particularly Catholic schools. I'm not so sure. Last night I was talking with two intelligent, well-educated Catholics who were both unaware that a) Dante's Inferno was a poem, not prose; and b) the poem continued into Purgatory and Heaven. Of course, I distinguished myself by a horribly wrong explanation of terza rima, so I can't really talk....

What led me to this was recommending that, as preparation for reading Dante, their teenage sons read Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Inferno, which is a prose sequel to Dante. Even though large segments of the work consist of trying to figure out sf explanations for Hell and gleefully sending annoying bits of the seventies and eighties to it, it does have serious religious content. Niven and Pournelle deal with the morality or lack of their own jobs as science fiction writers (I did mention that was their protagonist's profession?). Beyond that, they also make their protagonist confront the mystery that is God -- not just someone with more advanced knowledge and power than us -- a sort of super-alien -- but Someone infinitely better who loves us still.

But anyway. If you've never read Dante, you should. Naturally it would be better to read him in Italian, but probably most of us don't. (Me, neither.) There are apparently a lot of good translations out right now, both old and new, rhyming and not. I'm very fond of Dorothy L. Sayers' version, but then, I'm very fond of Sayers period. I didn't know that Longfellow had translated Dante, but his prose version is online, side by side with the Italian. This will at least give us non-Italian speakers more of an idea -- and a better explanation of that terza rima rhyme scheme than I could give!

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Quote of the Day

"I am a storyteller with delusions of necromancy, which is to say an historian."
-- naomichana of

I love the way this woman thinks, and have since I first encountered her. If I were a scholar, I would pray to be like her. Here she is on History of Magic as taught at Hogwarts, if you haven't seen it already.

Good Things Come in Threes, Too

You already know about the offer to send me free books. (Yay!)

Then I went down and got the mail. I found my contributor's copy of Why Can't Penguins Filk?: Songs from FilKONtario 7. Track 12, "The Dead Woman's Son" is my first song and performance to appear on an album. (Though technically, I can be heard in the background audience chorus on quite a few live recordings....)

It's weird to hear a slice of my life from back in 1997. It seems a million years ago now. It's especially weird to lack of sleep and (then) relatively recent composition, the tune on the CD keeps changing as I sing it. Um. I _sound_ good, more or less,'s kinda the quantum flux version of the tune. On the other hand, it's nice to know what key I originally sung the tune in, because it does sound better up there. And on the gripping hand, it does sound kinda like the filk version of a field recording, which must count for some kind of trad. cred....

But I can't help feeling happy! I'm on an album! It's so cool! (Now, I only have to get cracking on my album....)

Finally, about that hymn for St. Albert the Great's feastday. I decided to submit it to the new music director and see if it interested him. (The previous music directors were very nice about my hymns but also pretty unencouraging. Heh. With reason in some cases.)

And you know, he did actually seem to think it was pretty good. He got interested in how he'd want to arrange it to be sung and everything! Furthermore, he mused aloud that next year he could do a full four-part arrangement for the choir and put copies of the lyrics in the pews for the congregation...well, assuming a bit of money to me for royalties. (And with the royalty rates, believe me, I'd be lucky to be able to buy a cup of coffee at the gas station with that bit. Obviously not a major consideration. Still, it was cool that he thought to mention that to me.) So we'll have to see if anything materializes, as the feast is next Sunday. But it's definitely something. (And I guess my project wasn't all that quixotic, after all.)

So I'm in a ver' happy mood today. Happy founding of St. John Lateran's, everyone!