Friday, April 27, 2007

Six of one; a 101 of another

Or, the False Prophet in Hell

To celebrate my 101st post here at False Prophecy, why not see just where in Hell I'll end up?

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Test
For the Republic of Heaven!

OK, so from a Facebook note from IM, I was directed to the website for the upcoming Golden Compass movie. I took the "Find your Daemon" test and got this result:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More monsters from China

China Miéville, "the sexiest man in politics"

China Miéville, known for his innovative "grunge fantasy" books for adults (and lesser known for his Marxist politics), has written his first children's book:

Miéville has turned his hand to children's fantasy fiction with a fast-paced firecracker of a book, Un Lun Dun. Set in a kind of upside-down London, an "ab-city" filled with all of London's lost and broken things, it tells the story of two girls who stumble upon the strange, alternate metropolis and must save it from a destructive enemy - a sinister smog. While the tale itself may have a familiar ring to it, everything about the world of Un Lun Dun and the characters that populate it is wildly, almost breathlessly, inventive. The imagery is surreal - characters have birdcages for heads, buildings shift around, words turn rebellious - and the wordplay adroit. It also strikes a rich vein of humour and fun. The Binjas are dustbins that sprout limbs and strike karate poses, the Black Windows are fantastic - in every sense - monsters at Webminster Abbey.

This sounds a lot like a Neil Gaiman premise, but I have faith in Miéville's writing to bring this across in his own unique voice.

Via Bookninja.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don't you know your Dewey Decimal System?

Thanks to Queen Azura for the pic.
Bring back those golden oldies...

Senator Vivienne Poy will be visiting our library system for Asian Heritage Month, the annual observance of the history and cultural contributions of Asian-Canadians to our country. Poy, as Senator, introduced the Senate motion for the federal government to recognize this event.

One of Senator Poy's goals is to amend the words to the national anthem, changing the line "True patriot love in all thy sons command" to the more gender-inclusive "True patriot love in all of us command". She produced as support for this measure, a recently-unearthed copy of Robert Stanley Weir's original 1908 English lyrics, where the line is question was rendered as "True patriot love thou dost in us command". (Weir revised the lyrics three times after writing these--one of the later versions is the official anthem.)

Reading over the original lyrics, I'd actually be in favour of instituting them as the official English language lyrics, since they are actually fully inclusive. Poy's change would leave the reference to God in the anthem (incidently, this never appeared in any incarnation of Weir's lyrics, but was added by the National Anthem Act of 1980), excluding the 16%+ of Canadians who are non-religious, not to mention polytheists, some Buddhists, and the like. The one potential stumbing block would be the line "May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise", but that's in the third verse, so we could just omit it from the official anthem (the rest of that verse doesn't add anything not already said in the second).

As an aside, the French lyrics (which were written earlier) have never changed since their authoring. The French lyrics make explicit references to Christianity and militarism ("Car ton bras sait porter l'épée, Il sait porter la croix!"), though most contemporary Quebecois have little passion for either.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wingardium Leviosa!

OK, I usually don't read the reviews on Penny Arcade, but this one caught my eye. It's for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the Nintendo Wii:

The Wii-specific controls for the game seem remarkably well put together. Once Harry's wand is drawn, the Wiimote can be used to directly control the spells you cast. Everything is handled through accelerometers; there is no pointing in the game whatsoever. Any of the game's spells can be cast quickly and easily, merely by a flick of the wrist. Thrust the Wiimote forward, and Harry will propel an object away from himself. Motion upward with both the Wiimote and nunchuk, and Harry will cause an object to levitate in the air.

How cool is that?! (he interrobanged) Now you can work on your leet wand skillz in the comfort of your living room!

I also liked the reviews discussion of the similarities between HP:OotP and the Grand Theft Auto franchise:

For this latest entry in the Harry Potter series, EA UK took a cue from Grand Theft Auto, astonishingly enough. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix actually has a whole lot in common with that beloved franchise. That's not to say that Harry is going to be beating down hookers with a baseball bat or anything. Rather, for this adventure, EA UK opted to implement the sandbox-style mission structure of the latest GTA games. Littered throughout the game are "discovery points," which function as milestone markers. These discovery points can be activated by completing various challenges, and reward the player with spell and level advancements.

Almost makes me want to buy a Wii. Almost.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt is up in heaven now

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, great American novelist, passed away yesterday. Bookninja links to a slew of obituaries. My friend GS sent me a link to this article, one of Vonnegut's last rants against the current Bush administration. Read the whole thing, but I'll point out the section wherein he praises my vocation:

While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

And still on the subject of books: our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what's really going on.

I will cite an example: House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger, published in early 2004, that humiliating, shameful, blood-soaked year...

...So I am a man without a country, except for the librarians and a Chicago paper called In These Times.

As for the title of this post, it is at Kurt's request:

I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

Keep 'em laughing, Kurt.

UPDATE (May 24, 2007): Almost forget I had a previous connection to Vonnegut.
"Here we go!"

Vostok I

Today is the 46th anniversary of the flight of Vostok I. Its sole passenger was Yuri Gagarin, and Vostok I, a "tin can sitting on top of a bomb", would make him famous. On April 12, 1961, Gagarin became the first person in space.

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

In my youth, I was fascinated by outer space, and voraciously devoured books on space flight and astronomy. I read pretty advanced and detailed non-fiction on the subject. In fact, I remember when I was nine, I participated in my local public library's summer reading club, and that year's theme was outer space (timed for the arrival of Haley's Comet). I read several thick non-fiction books on the subjects of astronomy and space travel (one I recall was a detailed chronological narrative of the American space program up to that point), but the librarian would only accept fiction. Then the fiction I chose apparently wasn't advanced enough for her tastes, but I suppose my prepubescent self couldn't make her understand that I cared very little for "stories" back then and preferred history and science (I wouldn't start reading fiction with any sort of devotion until I was twelve). With all the stifling conditions she placed on me I still wonder to this day why I joined her profession.

Although my childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, or astronomer, or aeronautical engineer have long since faded, I still have a soft spot for space travel and the men and women who have struggled and continue to struggle to increase the range of humanity's grasp just a little bit more. I continue to mourn the death of manned space exploration and become upset when governments disrespect the memories of our space-faring brothers and sisters.

Here we go, Comrade Cosmonaut.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Shuffle Meme

OK, for this web meme, get your iPod or equivalent mp3 player, set it to shuffle, and answer these questions in order with the song that comes up.

How does the world see me?
Arcade Fire, "No Cars Go"

I'm apparently a place inaccessible by most vehicles. Maybe I'm a mountain!

Will I have a happy life?
Jane's Addiction, "Been Caught Stealing"

I guess I'm going to prison for fraud.

What do my friends really think of me?
The Sword, "Freya"

I wait in Valhalla for the souls of warriors slain in battle? Is that a metaphor for being a shoulder to cry on?

Do people secretly lust after me?
Beck, "The New Pollution"

Only women who like their men dirty. Grrowwwl.

How can I make myself happy?
Luca Turilli, "Black Dragon"

I have to get in touch with my draconic heritage and fight evil. Great--apparently I'm Eragon. :-(

What should I do with my life?
Les Miserables soundtrack, "Confrontation"

I need to have a dramatic confrontation with my nemesis. Am I Jean Valjean or Inspector Javert in this equation?

Will I ever have children?
Oasis, "Wonderwall"

I am, and they're apparently going to save me from depression.

What is some good advice for me?
Coheed and Cambria, "Devil in Jersey City"

Don't pick fights in Jersey City. Good advice for anyone who isn't one of the Sopranos, really.

How will I be remembered?
Dimmu Borgir, "Nocturnal Fear"

Can't get any plainer than that. My ancient Mesopotamian gods will give everyone nightmares.

What is my signature dance song?
HIM, "Your Sweet 666"

A goth metal love song. I guess that does sum me up fairly succinctly.

What do I think my current theme song is?
The Arrogant Worms, "Sam, the Guy from 'Quincy'"

'Cause I won't stop beating (or in this case, exhuming) dead horses!

What song will play at my funeral?
Rhapsody of Fire, "Emerald Sword"

Clearly there is too much epic and symphonic metal on my iPod. But, Vikings have the best funeral rites!

What type of women do I like?
MC Hawking, "Fuck the Creationists"

Well, I certainly don't like ignorant or overly credulous women, that's for sure. I assume that the F-word here is being used as a dismissal, not an invitation to sexual intercourse.

What is my day going to be like?
Gin Blossoms, "Follow You Down"

It's a crap shoot.
Just oaking around

Well, yesterday I linked to a story about Keith Richards snorting his dead father's ashes with some cocaine. Apparently, it was just an April Fool's Joke:

"It was an off-the-cuff remark, a joke, and it is not true. File under April Fool's joke," said Bernard Doherty, a Rolling Stones spokesman, about Richards' quote in NME magazine...

...In a statement posted on the Rolling Stones Web site, Richards said: "The complete story is lost in the usual slanting! The truth of the matter is that I planted a sturdy English Oak. I took the lid off the box of ashes and he is now growing oak trees and would love me for it!!! I was trying to say how tight Bert and I were. That tight!!! I wouldn't take cocaine at this point in my life unless I wished to commit suicide."

However, it says a lot about Keef's reputation that people took this at face value.
An Easter Vigil

OK, this story from AlterNet reminded me why Trey Parker and Matt Stone are such comic geniuses. I don't really watch South Park religiously (ha!) anymore, but this reminded me that the show still has its bite (link includes three clips from the episode).

This comic makes me wonder about the episode's conclusion, though.

On a related note, I came across this posting via The News Blog:

Coming to the US my biggest shock was how seriously people took religion. It was a form of religious intensity that I had never encountered. In Saudi I had endured a totalitarian theocracy (is there another kind?) but I had never seen the man on the street be so wrapped up in their religion. I had never met people who defined themselves, first and foremost, on the basis of their religion.

Which is all the more interesting considering how ignorant many Americans are about their religion:

The United States is the most religious nation in the developed world, if religiosity is measured by belief in all things supernatural -- from God and the Virgin Birth to the humbler workings of angels and demons. Americans are also the most religiously ignorant people in the Western world. Fewer than half of us can identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible, and only one third know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount...

...Approximately 75 percent of adults, according to polls cited by Prothero, mistakenly believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." More than 10 percent think that Noah's wife was Joan of Arc. Only half can name even one of the four Gospels, and -- a finding that will surprise many -- evangelical Christians are only slightly more knowledgeable than their non-evangelical counterparts.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but then I regularly have arguments with family members who know very little about what their Catholic faith is actually about.

Well, I for one will be spending Easter in my annual ritual of watching Jesus Christ Superstar (Norman Jewison version, of course).

"Heaven on Their Minds" (JUDAS)

The first song after the overture. Featuring a fantastic performance by Judas (Carl Anderson) and one awesome guitar riff! One of my favourite pieces. I wish Webber could have kept writing like this.

Listen Jesus I don't like what I see
All I ask is that you listen to me
And remember I've been your right-hand man all along

You have set them all on fire
They think they've found the new Messiah
And they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong


High Priest Caiaphas and his brother-in-law Annas convince the Sanhedrin that Jesus is a threat to their power and must be eliminated. Excellent contrast between Caiaphas's (Bob Bingham) deep bass and Annas's (Kurt Yaghjian) falsetto.

What then to do about This Jesus-mania?
Now how do we deal with the Carpenter King?
Where do we start with a man who is bigger

Than John was when he did his baptism thing?

Fools you have no perception!
The stakes we are gambling are frighteningly high
We must crush him completely
So like John before him, this Jesus must die

"The Last Supper" (JESUS, JUDAS, APOSTLES)

Jesus (Ted Neely) confronts Judas about his forthcoming betrayal. The confrontation scene is one of my favourites.

Peter will deny me in just a few hours
Three times will deny me - and that's not all I see
One of you here dining, one of my twelve chosen
Will leave to betray me -

Cut out the dramatics! You know very well who -
Why don't you go do it?
You want me to do it!
Hurry they are waiting
If you knew why I do it . . .
I don't care why you do it!
To think I admired you
For now I despise you
You liar - you Judas
You wanted me to do it!
What if I just stayed here
And ruined your ambition?
Christ you deserve it!

Hurry you fool, hurry and go,
Save me your speeches
I don't want to know - Go! Go!

"I Only Want to Say (Gethsemane)" (JESUS)

Jesus's solo piece where he pleads with God to spare him the coming pain and suffering. Neely's most passionate performance.

Why, why should I die?
Oh, why should I die?
Can you show me now
That I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little
Of your omnipresent brain
Show me there's a reason
For your wanting me to die
You're far too keen on where and how
But not so hot on why

"Trial Before Pilate (including The 39 Lashes)" (JESUS, PILATE, CAIAPHAS, CROWD)

Pilate (Barry Dennen) is one of my favourite characters.

You have nothing in your hands
Any power you have
Comes to you from far beyond
Everything is fixed
And you can't change it

You're a fool, Jesus Christ
How can I help you?

Crucify him! Crucify him!
Remember Caesar
You have a duty
To keep the peace
So crucify him!
You'll be demoted
You'll be deported
So crucify him!

"Superstar" (JUDAS, ANGELS)

Speaking from heaven, Judas questions the whole enterprise.

Every time I look at you
I don't understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You'd have managed better
If you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?

If you'd come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Coke and Ashes

Back in the early 90s, as part of No Cure for Cancer, the rant that launched his career, comedian Denis Leary mentioned a certain Rolling Stones guitarist:

I was reading an interview with Keith Richards in a magazine and in the interview Keith Richards intimated that kids should not do drugs. Keith Richards! Says that kids should not do drugs! Keith, we can't do any more drugs because you already fucking did them all, alright! There's none left! We have to wait 'till you die and smoke your ashes! Jesus Christ! Talk about the pot and the fuckin' kettle.

Then my friend ER sends me a link to this story:

In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002, at 84.

Rolling Stoned? Broilling Stones? Puns fail me...

UPDATE: Keith was just kidding.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Puppet Master

"Speak, minion, into the amplification device before you. SPEAK!"

Cheney stalks Bush from the shrubbery.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm Power Girl, Dammit!

The Designated Sidekick has a new MySpace page which seems to be an exercise in irony (if you know anything about the Designated Sidekick's column). Not much there yet, but he did link to these great fan-produced films featuring Power Girl:

Kara looks for a job.

Oracle tries to get Kara to rejoin the Birds of Prey.