Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

For the Really, Really POD....

Why settle for a rabidly modern lace mantilla? Now you can cover your head with a
linen or
silk veil, or a
reeeal wimple. Accessorize with a turret hat and be as beautiful as you are virtuous, you Tower of Ivory, you!

For those who don't want lay wimples and do like armor, Sword Maiden assures us there really were such things as warrior nuns.

The Order of the Glorious St Mary was founded by Loderigo d’Andalo of Bologna in 1233. It was the first religious order to grant the title of `militissa’ to women...

In 1477AD, Abbess Renee de Bourbon raised an army in order to attack a renegade monastery in Paris. She was on a personal crusade to end the excesses of the monasteries and convents under her domain. When she eventually prevailed, she made each nun and monk sign an oath of loyalty to her...

The problem of warrior nuns became so pervasive that in 15th century Bologna a law forbade citizens from loitering near convents for their own protection! Various popes established decrees forbidding women from engaging in martial combat or wearing armor, again in an effort to reduce the power of these warrior nuns. This is one of the decrees which were used against Joan d’ Arc.

Definitely check out Chivalry Today, particularly the essay on "The Road to Abu Ghraib".

Friday, May 14, 2004

Euphemisms R Us

Check out this article on the French Revolution at

The term French Revolution refers to a period in the history of France covering the years 1789 to 1799, in which republicans overthrew the monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church perforce underwent radical restructuring.

Oh, is that what you call it when you ban the Church and guillotine every priest and nun you can find? Yeah, having no head is a change in your structure, all right.

Manga Must Be Catholic Art --

It has its own bishop. (You know, this could be a very profitable thing for Burkino Faso.)

I ran across another example of Catholic characters in manga today. The second run of Vampire Yui -- translated as Yui Kanonsho in the US -- starts with Yui being found, amnesiac, by a priest. Eventually both her friends and enemies find her, and the priest ends up dying in Yui's place. He's a good character, and very POD, too -- even wears that priesty cape thing. I'll see if I can scan some pictures of the priest and the cherry blossoms.

(Btw, the Japanese way to say "Catholic priest" or "Father" is "Shinpu". "Shin-" is an alternate pronunciation of the character for G/god, "Kami"; and "-pu" uses a character almost exactly the same as "father". Nice, huh?)

Speaking of the Good Ol' Days, there's a brand new independent comic set in Japan which sounds pretty darned interesting. Blood and Bushido is the saga of a Norse pirate captain saved by Spanish and Portuguese priests. In gratitude, he offers himself and his crew as bodyguards to the new missions in Japan. This review claims that the story is too ambitious for the art, but that it's a good, interesting comic all the same. And hey, how many comics feature heroic Jesuit characters?

On the more progressive side, we have an online American manga, Altar Girl. As the author describes it, this is "Your typical Catholic school girl meets naive dead boy scenario. Angels, half demons, bishounen, etc." The saga of Ashley Altars has apparently been rolling since 2002, so it's probably time for St. Blog's to drop by! (Don't be scared by the tattooed image in the first comic. As we all know, the cover of a comic never reflects its contents, and that's especially true with this one. It's as sweet and cute as the littlest kid at a May crowning. At least so far as October 23, 2002, which is as far as I've gotten so far.

Sakkaku no Serenity (Illusions of Serenity) is another online American manga. This one uses the usual pretty boy and CLAMP-inspired Christian imagery to very good effect. It does seem to intend to deal with Christian themes, and hey, we all need a little dose of pretty horror comic every once in a while. Besides, the comic on "why we don't always interpret the Bible literally" is a stitch.

Magical Boys is an online manga poking fun at the magical girls genre by reversing genders. That's right -- this time the magical fantasyland will be saved by guys with destinies! Radical, eh? Anyway, the Catholic connection is provided by the cast with good Catholic kids Brendan and Brooke Ashe, and their friends. Unfortunately, the series seems not to have been updated since 2003.

Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) is a highly amusing anime series about a motorcycle gang member turned first-year teacher. (This must be the sort of stuff they were always watching back in the teachers' lounge....) Apparently, however, the show had a live action drama special in which Onizuka was transferred temporarily to a Catholic girls' school! This I have to see....

On the Japanese manga side, there's apparently a good many Catholic characters in the horror/romance/adventure comics of Higuri You. You gotta love titles like "Lost Angel" and "Tenshi no Hitsugi-Ave Maria-". The problem, is that the innocent fun of bishounen so often takes a turn into shounen-ai, and the next thing you know, some retired Episcopal bishop is wearing a lei on his head and "marrying" his boyfriend. Which sorta takes all the fun out of the Catholic background, if you know what I mean. (Not that it matters at this point, as this lady's work apparently hasn't been translated into English and I'm not likely to hit any Japanese comic stores any time soon.)

St. Blog's is only one online parish, it seems.

Fr. Dennis Drury has an Elfwood gallery for his artwork. Some nice stuff. I don't agree with him about women in armor, though. No "shape"? No shape? No shape?! Oh, totally shapeless. Bah, I say. Seriously, though, it would be difficult to confuse a woman in armor -- even plate armor -- with a guy. Totally different stance and leg shape, just for one. Half an hour in the SCA would open his eyes. Here's a page with lots of styles of women's armor.

B-Chan has apparently written a book called Think Manga. The next book is apparently going to be Think Stuart and Bourbon.... *grin*

Another anime and manga fan is at Embry-Riddle and looking for an RCIA program for over the summer, from what it sounds like. Anybody able to help her?

Here you can find even more members of whatever you'd call the Livejournal parish.

Friday Dogblogging

There's been a lot of Friday catblogging lately. So here's our Irish wolfhound Liath to tip the scales back in the canine direction. She should outweigh any number of cats....

Thursday, May 13, 2004

A Visit to the Catacombs

Shrine of the Holy Whapping visits the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla!

A Wrinkle in Time: The Disney TV Movie

I wrote a little too much for Bill Cork's comment box, so I'll post it here instead. It's a lot kinder and more balanced than the comments I had during and after the movie, I assure you.

It didn't entirely stink. The CGI was done by people who'd obviously liked the book. Also, there were certain inherent problems in adapting a book about thoughts and feelings to a visual medium. But.

Any Meg who doesn't wear glasses is wrong. I liked the actress and what she did with what she was given -- but the angry pretty hood/nerd is a different species from the angry tubby nearsighted nerd. I cried bitter tears over this.

(Yes, literally. I hadn't had a lot of sleep the night before, and besides, AWIT was the first science fiction book I ever read. It means a lot to me, and I identified heavily with Meg as a child. My fourth grade self takes adaptations very seriously, and insists they be faithful to the letter.)

Any movie which consistently reverses or destroys the writer's really important images and metaphors is a bad adaptation. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was pretty darned bad.

One of the prime moments of the novel is the street in Camazotz. It's in the normal suburbs, and every house has the same accessories: the same perfect lawn, the same perfect flowers, and an expressionless girl skipping rope or an impassive boy bouncing a ball. (Little kids, mind you, not teenagers as in the movie.) Each child is doing the same thing the same way, not just to the same rhythm. The only exception is a boy who can't quite manage to keep a ball bouncing in time at all, much less for as long and as perfectly as the others. The movie made this child a flashy Michael Jordan of the junior high set, which is quite a different metaphor than somebody who can't do sports at all. Especially since we already have Calvin to be the gifted athlete of the book.

The image of a boy trying his best to bounce the ball and being embarrassingly bad at it, yet refusing to surrender to Evil in exchange for mindless perfection, was a very important and personal thing to many of us with bad coordination. Yet Disney changed this important plot point without an apology or second thought. It felt like a slap in the face to L'Engle and to us.

People who are awkward, or who don't have perfect eyes or sports skills, have no business being in a movie, it seems.

As one blog reviewer said, "It raped my childhood."

The Happy Medium was really gay. The sad thing was that the actor at least understood better than the Which, Who, and Whatsit actresses how to play a fantasy/comedy/drama role. I kept wanting to smack them upside the head for hamming so badly. This wasn't children's theater and playing to the back row in a giant turtle suit or something. They were supposed to be mysterious, powerful and bizarre beings with a touch of whimsy, not assaulting the world with a whimsy brick!

The book isn't overrated. My fourth-grade self urges me to say this in the strongest term. (She also is exasperated by the idea of assigning it to anyone, much less the wide array of Cliff Notes and essays-for-sale ranged about it these days in defensive rings. Studying a book in school makes it less comprehensible and removes all of its power, she feels.)

I'm surprised most people didn't comment about all the times the Christianity was sucked right out of the movie. For example, the translation of the winged people's singing was originally a quote from the Psalms. Although other quotes were often left intact, almost all Biblical and saints' quotes were removed. It was very blatant. I was surprised they left St Paul and Emily Dickinson in at the pivotal point.

So, although it didn't stink as badly as it could have, it stunk.

As for la Madeleine, it should be recognized that she is old, sick, cantankerous (it's said), and the possessor of an occasionally dry sense of humor. She has been known to write Bible fanfic herself (Many Waters). Also, she's Episcopalian and was writer in residence at St. John's the Divine. feeling about the Da Vinci comment is that she thinks it's fun and interesting because she doesn't believe it for a minute, and assumes that the readership knows it's all made up as well. For a writer, it's a fun trope to play with. If she has been spared the disheartening realization that people _are_ that ignorant and gullible by her age and meds -- well, I only wish I could be so blessed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Ohio Bloggers!

Globe of Blogs has a bunch of Ohio bloggers for your perusal. Power to the Buckeyes!

Mommies at Law: Just what it says!
This Woman's Work: Stay-home feminism.

Blogbandit: Kevin Cole is obviously not your stereotypical Cedarville resident.

Reds Daily: All Cincinnati Reds, all the time. (And if this is the same J Arney I know -- hi, Sparky!)

Movies Past Tense: Historical flicks and sword-and-sandal pics. Joy, this one's for you.

Joe Clifford Faust: Science fiction author. I've never really read his books, but I think I may have to read his blog. Which of course will lead me to feel guilty if I don't buy his books....

Ferret Press: a small press for comics.

Celtic Fantasy is a heavily poetic blog by a woman from Cleveland.

Why should the earth continue?
Why does the universe become curious
To see what will be for me and you
When there is never going to be an us?

Ohio Parishioners of St. Blog's:
Video meliora, etc.
My Domestic Church
Mannequin Hands
(Yet another convert! Congratulations, Erin from Columbus! You go!)

"My Name Is Nick Berg" --

I've written a song about the civilian contractors killed in Iraq. You can download an mp3 of it from

My Name Is Nick Berg
Lyrics and Music: Maureen S. O'Brien, 5/12/04

My name is Nick Berg, and I came to this land
To get a job giving her people a hand.
Now my killers hate freedom; that's why they killed me.
So I died for my dream that Iraq would live free.

I'm Fabrizio Quattrochi. They thought I would cry,
But instead I showed them how Italian men die.
And if I had to die far from my own country,
I have family here -- all who mean to live free.

REF: And the vines will grow green;
They'll sit under their trees
And they'll say what they like,
With no tyrant to please.
All the peace back at home
That we gave up will be
Born anew in this land
When Iraq can live free.

Our names are not few, though to you they're not known.
We cry out from our graves with the rattle of bones.
As Saddam's men killed us, now they kill you with glee.
But remember. Avenge us. Iraq must be free.

My name is Iraq. I am young and age-old.
Pain has just made me stronger and made my heart bold.
By my side are good friends, and no murd'rers scare me.
I will win, and my people will fin'lly live free.

REF: And the vines will grow green;
They'll sit under their trees
And they'll say what they like,
With no tyrant to please.
All the peace back at home
That we gave up will be
Born anew in this land
When Iraq can live free.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A New Beginning

Blogger has new features up for us non-paying customers -- obviously, Blogspot wants to be more competitive with LiveJournal -- so I'm taking advantage of them. You can now comment on posts, if you like. If I get annoyed by spam or trolls or flames, I will make the comments for registered users only.

Apostle to the Gweeps

Worcester, Massachusetts (once home to the folk of has a new Catholic bishop. He seems to be starting out with some strong ideas about improving seminary recruiting and training, according to this interview in the Sentinel and Enterprise.

He said he grew up in a strong city parish of 3,000 members, where young priests inspired him to enter a part-time high school seminary.

"They were the heroes of our parish. They were our heroes, our mentors," McManus said. "They played a tremendous role in our lives."

But McManus said by the time he entered a college-level seminary, he saw changes that were not always for the better.

He said some would-be priests in the 1960s took the Second Vatican Council's emphasis on personal responsibility and self-direction the wrong way.

"Some of that change led to confusion, or some indecision," McManus said. "I think some people misinterpreted the de-emphasis of regimentation and the re-emphasis of self-education as permissiveness."


McManus also said it's even more important for priests to follow and support the church's teachings.

"You wouldn't be hired by IBM if you didn't believe in the quality of the product," he said.

Gweep, btw, was the term used for the Worcester computer geeks of yore, both in real life and in Undocumented Features.