Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Things That Make My Brain Ooze from My Ears, Part 1

People who read strongly rhythmic and rhymed poetry out loud and try to make it sound like free verse, thus laming the horse instead of riding it.

Poets were sometimes the rock stars of other eras -- and part of their power was the primal interaction of sound and rhythm, combined with the more cerebral pleasures of imagery and meaning. If you don't combine them, your reading is going to sound horrible. Like William Shatner "singing".

I don't care how much your English teacher feared you sounding "singsong". A prosy drone with no rhythm and no power is worse.

A poem with a driving beat is not the same as a lyrical piece of free verse, any more than a dance hit is the same as a meandering 30 minute guitar solo. Pay attention to the poem. Read what it says, the way it says. Otherwise, you're not reading the poem at all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Iran: In the Fire of Spring?

In case you've been totally out of touch with world events, Iran is just a tad bit volatile these days. The people don't like the mullahs anymore. They run corrupt elections. They ban everything fun, including the big Spring family holiday, Nourooz, celebrating the traditional New Year on the spring equinox. So every year on Nourooz for the last few years, the students and the people have been demonstrating. And burning mullahs' cars and houses, just to make their point clear.

The current president is not just a hardliner mullah; he also thinks the Mahdi is coming. And since it turned out that Khomeini wasn't, he thinks he's probably he's it. (Roll your Paul Atreides clip here....) He has visions of being clothed in a beautiful light and an Armageddon battle in Iraq. Near the holy city of Najaf.

Oh, yeah, and he's got this thing for developing nukes. Not to mention several Saddam scientist alumni in fun fields like biological and chemical weaponry.

Meanwhile, the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf, in Iran, is now open to just about anyone who wants to go there for the first time in years. So the faithful Shi'ites from Iraq and Iran are back to regarding Najaf's mullahs as the authorities on what to do to be a faithful Shi'ite. Najaf's mullahs, who now advocate democracy. Instead of Khomeini's mullahs in Iran, who only came to prominence there because Saddam had pretty much shut down and cut off the mullahs of Najaf.

And Ahmadinejad, who has method and motive and can create opportunity, is dreaming of an Armageddon battle near Najaf. Convenient for him, isn't it.

But he has to move fast, because Nourooz is coming, and the Iranian people are angry, and the Iraqi people are growing strong.

So what will happen? Will the Iranian people jump over the bonfires on Chaharshanbeh Souri without getting burned? Will it be out with the old, and in with the new -- freedom, peace with Iraq, and prosperity for all?

Or, God forbid, will the fires of Spring be the consuming kind?

The bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter -- and the bird is on the wing.

On a more hopeful note, if anybody out there wants to invite me to a Nourooz party...

...and 2006 is also the Year of the Dog according to the old Persian year calendar.