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20 Feet From Stardom

20ftAs part of our recuperation from a long road trip to and from San Antonio this past week (and driving the freeways of that fair city alone was a battle of epic proportions), my Lovely Wife and I crashed on the sofa Sunday afternoon and watched a documentary about backup singers from the glory days of rock and roll. I thought it might be interesting, but it exceeded my expectations. If you have the chance, you should see it. It’s called 20 Feet From Stardom, and it won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

At its heart, this film celebrated the power of sublimating personal ambition in the service of a greater goal. Backup vocals, performed mostly by people nobody ever heard of, have transformed good music into great music, and popular songs into chart-busting hits. Think about it—how many times when we’re humming along with the chorus of a song on the radio are we following the backup singers, not the star? Backup singing is a particular sort of talent, and its community is small and tight-knit. The same voices can be heard in the background of our most iconic pop music, over and over again. Many of these great singers are well into their golden years, and their voices are still mesmerizing.

Backup singers with all the right tools to launch solo careers often founder in the transition, and I thought it was interesting that most interviewees identified the root cause as a lack of ego. That “20 feet from stardom” is a very long walk indeed for people whose life has been devoted to a supporting role rather than the spotlight. Sometimes it’s the difference between being a brilliant musician and being a charismatic entertainer. One does not necessarily imply the other.

I was struck by the wealth of innovation and spiritual passion that flowed from Christian culture into rock and pop music during its most dynamic stage of development. The influence of musical patterns and themes from the black church community, in particular, was immense during the 1950′s and the two decades that followed. Early in the documentary, there’s a sort of roll call, asking the vocalists where they got their start: “…pastor’s daughter…church…pastor’s daughter…church choir…pastor’s daughter…” Soul and R&B often followed the “call and reply” pattern of a revival meeting, with the lead singer acting as the preacher, the backup singers as the choir, and the audience as the congregation. The only real difference, as someone said about one marquee performer, was that “…instead of singing about Jesus, ______ was singing about sex.” It was more than just adopting an arresting style and a catchy rhythm, though. The religious influence soaked deep into rock and roll and pop music and provided much of its vitality, and several stars acknowledged its importance: “If you try to bypass spirituality,” one said, “you’ve got nothing.”

The film portrayed a secular community eager to adopt elements of Christian musical culture that were exciting, creative and fresh, even if it failed to fully appreciate or understand their meaning and ultimate source. There was something genuine, powerful, and enduring about the sound wafting skyward from the churches and choirs of the inner cities and rural South, and the rock musicians wanted a piece of it.

Ironically, the roles are reversed now. We have a strange state of affairs where the Church has abandoned its historic role as a patron and wellspring of artistic creativity to become a consumer and mimic of the popular culture it disdains—all in a desperate effort to stay “relevant.” It’s like a talented backup singer who wants to be a headliner but isn’t suited for the job. The glitter of the spotlight, of what appears to be leadership, obscures the quiet yet profound power and long-term influence of the supporting role.

And that was the final lesson of 20 Feet From Stardom. The road to fulfillment is found, in part, by embracing who you are and the gifts God has given you, not by trying to conform to someone else’s picture of success.

20 Feet From Stardom is currently available on Netflix and iTunes, or via a variety of outlets on DVD.

Here’s a link to the official trailer.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Faith, Media Reviews, Music

 

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Random Randomness, 7/14/2014

“Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster, but an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” – Obi Wan Kenobi

Or maybe it’s just a collection of stuff with little point and less connection to any coherent meaning.

Have faith, dear Cosette.les-miserables-bwVive la France!  A happy Bastille Day to one and all. In honor of the revolution that sparked the messy and somewhat random Gallic transition from feudal tyranny to mob rule to Napoleonic empire to constitutional monarchy to democratic republic (and heavily influenced our own revolution on the other side of the Atlantic), I’m reading an advance copy of the Manga Classics edition of Les Misérables, adapted by Crystal Chen and Stacy King, and illustrated by Tsemei Lee.

So far, it’s a faithful and respectful abbreviated retelling of the Victor Hugo classic. It seems Manga Cosette has a better stylist than Broadway Poster Cosette, though both look wistfully misérable, in their respective fashion. Review to follow soon.

Baguette: French food that even a random, uncultured lout like me can appreciate. Quite possibly the perfect expression of bread.

Because All Office Work and No Play Makes Fred a Pale, Flabby Lump of Flesh: In my ongoing effort to keep up my general fitness and resist sliding into a sedentary abyss, I’ve spent more time of late in outdoor activities:

1. Long evening walks with my Lovely Wife, altogether pleasant and refreshing.

"Feed me!"2. Excursions with the Family Pack to the local Off-Leash Dog Park / Canine Muddy Water Absorption Area / Gateway to Chaos.

3. Pruning the noxious, spiny, toxic, flesh-eating vegetation our builder randomly selected and declared “ornamental shrubbery.”

4. Playing disc golf with my Eldest Son, an activity with all the quaint charm of the original Scottish activity once described by Mark Twain as a “good walk spoiled.” FYI, the fact that golf discs are cheaper than golf clubs does not compensate for the fact that they are much more expensive than golf balls and just as easy to lose in the briars to which they are attracted with an intensity approaching that of ferrous metal to a superconducting magnet.

5. Geocaching, a sport in which adults employ 21st-century satellite navigation to locate plastic boxes filled with children’s trinkets and concealed deep within tick-infested thickets of poison ivy.

Mulligan: A free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played or sucked into a random inter-dimensional vortex. See also: “do-over.”

This Just In From the FIFA World Cup: Thank heaven, it’s over. GGGGGOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!!!

Flop: In soccer, to aggressively exaggerate a foul or the appearance of a foul in order to manipulate officials into a favorable call. See also: “diving,” “faking,” “acting,” “lying,” “begging,” and “cheating.” According to this article, American players are notoriously bad at flopping due to some random cultural attachment to outdated principles like good sportsmanship, honesty, and fair play.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the flop is not unknown to American sports culture, and my otherwise ethically-impeccable high school basketball coach instructed our team in its rudiments. We weren’t very good at it either.

sam

Sam, chilling with a slushie after a recent walk.

Speaking of Dogs: We added a new member at random to the Pack last week. This is what happens when the family stops by the local rescue shelter to “visit.” His name is Sam, and like Tigger, his bottom must be made out of springs because he has a vertical leap about three times his body length. Despite his athletic ability (or maybe because of it), he’s one of the most calm and even-tempered dogs I’ve ever encountered. He also walks well on the leash, which is helpful on those evening walks with my Lovely Wife.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Family, General

 

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I Found a Cool Story the Other Day, #24

airplane-food

“…and I bet you didn’t know the brain is mostly cholesterol. I’m a MENSA-certified genius, baby.”

Sometimes, cool stories turn up when you’re not even looking for them.

While perusing Facebook today, I happened upon a discussion about the Fermi Paradox, which notes our strange failure to encounter other intelligent life in the universe, despite the statistical improbability that we should be alone in the immeasurable vastness of space. The recent Kepler surveys indicate there are many star systems near us with planets potentially capable of supporting life, which makes the apparent silence in our galactic neighborhood even more intriguing.

In the “related links” section that Facebook helpfully inserts whenever somebody shares an article elsewhere on the web, I noticed a link to a very cool short story I read years ago that takes a clever twist on the Fermi Paradox. It’s by Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Terry Bisson. He’s known best for his short story work, though he’s written a wide variety of novels, screenplays, and comic book adaptations. He also completed Walter M. Miller Jr’s sequel to A Canticle for Leibowitz, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman.

Maybe the problem isn’t a lack of other intelligent denizens of the cosmos, or their failure to notice us—maybe they simply can’t bear to acknowledge our intelligence. Bisson’s story is titled, aptly, “They’re Made Out of Meat.”

“They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”

“So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”

“They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”

“That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”

“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they’re made out of meat.”

You can read the whole thing here, courtesy of Mr. Bisson. It was originally published in Omni magazine in 1990.

In pondering the reaction of the story’s bigoted non-corporeal beings, I recalled that the Latin word for meat, caro, is also the root of our English word incarnation. When Christians say Jesus Christ is God “incarnate,” they’re saying the Creator of the universe took on flesh, or in other words, made Himself “into meat.” For us.

Maybe the universe isn’t such a cold and lonely place after all.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Writing

 

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Buy My Friends’ Books!

Here’s some fun new stuff from some fine writers of my acquaintance:

escapeEscape, by T.M. Hunter and Lyndon Perry: Orphans on the run…in a dirigible! Lyn has been writing novellas lately like nobody’s business, and this time, he’s teamed with one of my favorite space-opera writers on a thrilling steampunk tale for younger readers. Escape is the first episode of a continuing series, The Adventures of Max McCannor.

mtdhMa Tutt’s Donut Hut, also by Lyndon Perry: Fresh from the oven, this cozy magical mystery in four parts introduces fledgling bakery owner Dolly Tutt and a most unusual cat who might just save her business, if he doesn’t destroy it first.

This is a departure from the sort of stories I’m accustomed to seeing from Lyn, and I’m anxious to read it myself.

Mmm…donuts.

UPDATE: Lyn is offering Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut on Kindle at a special premiere price of $1.75 this week only (through July 13). Also, check out a very cool interview about the book on Jeff Chapman’s blog.

Kynetic-Cover-Final-192x300Numb-Front-CoverNumb and Kynetic: On Target, by John W. Otte: This ink-slinging Lutheran pastor, inveterate gamer, and raconteur at large has a flair for sci-fi thrillers and comic-book adventure, and he delivers both with a pair of new offerings. Get it? Pastor…offerings…oh, never mind. In Numb, a ruthless assassin gets a new contract—but this target isn’t quite what he was expecting, and he finds himself driven for the first time to save a life rather than take it.

Kynetic: On Target is the latest book from Otte’s Failstate universe of superheroes. Kynetic is looking for a little respect—and a partnership with Failstate. Will she resort to an assist from a gang of super-villains to get what she wants?

ppOrdinary FolkProtection’s Prison and Ordinary Folk, by Kat Heckenbach: Ms. Heckenbach will soon deliver the third installment in her Toch Island Chronicles series of YA fantasy novels, but in the meantime, you can pick up Protection’s Prison, a companion novelette to the series. Magic…and forbidden love!

Kat also dabbles in horror, and Ordinary Folk is a short e-story that will give you a taste of her style in that genre. Janey’s having problems around full-moon time every month. No, not that sort of problem, the other kind. The kind with fangs and claws.

 

UPDATE: Even more summer reading goodness! Splashdown Books is clearing out some on-hand inventory (books that travel to conventions and such), including some of my books. The more you buy, the more you save, but once they’re gone, so is the deal. http://www.splashdownbooks.com/july-2014-sale

Authors’ webpages: Lyndon Perry, T.M. Hunter, John W. Otte, Kat Heckenbach

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Writing

 

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Ink & Paint XXVI: Robot Carnival

RobotCarnival-headerAs Thursday on the internets has become “Throwback Thursday,” where everything that’s old becomes new again, this seemed a good opportunity to highlight a movie that cemented my interest in anime. I grew up with Astroboy, and Speed Racer, and Kimba the White Lion, but after they vanished from the airwaves, my next contact with this distinctive style of Japanese animation wasn’t until my college years, when I discovered StarBlazers/Space Battleship Yamato, and Gundam Wing, and Dragonball.

Then a few years after that, I happened upon Robot Carnival, which encapsulated everything I’d always enjoyed about anime—a fresh speculative vision, a sense of adventure, attention to small, interesting mechanical details, and a childlike sense of wonder coupled with a sophisticated and whimsical sense of humor. In a nutshell, it was different, and it was fun.

Robot Carnival is that odd bird, an anthology movie, featuring a collection of short animated tales, ten minutes or so each. The stories have one thing in common: robots, as you might expect. They’re an eclectic mix of storytelling and artistic styles, in a variety of genres: drama, romance, comedy, horror, and action. Stories are set across the past, present, and future, and the definition of “robot” is flexible—some are sophisticated artificial intelligences, others are little more than mechanical dolls. There are good robots, evil robots, robots that wish to be human, robots masquerading as human, and humans masquerading as robots.  Most of the segments are wordless—only two include spoken dialogue—so there’s a heavy emphasis on music to support the mood and pacing.  The score is worth a listen all by itself. In keeping with the robotic theme, all the music is computer-synthesized, though that’s often hard to discern.

Most of the artists were obscure at the time. Some have gone on to garner awards and have participated in notable anime features like Akira, Steamboy, Lupin III, Roujin-Z, the Gundam series, and The Animatrix. If you’ve seen any of those, you’ll probably notice the family resemblance in many of Robot Carnival’s stories.

You can still find copies of Robot Carnival via Amazon, eBay, and anime-specific vendors, but you can also watch the entire film or any of its component parts on YouTube. I’ve summarized the individual segments below and linked to their YouTube postings. The quality is a little (okay, a lot) grainy for most of them, but you’ll get the idea. Hey, it’s 27 years old. We were still working off VHS tapes back then, you young whippersnappers. Now, get off my lawn.

rc_mtOpening“: In a windswept Mongolian desert, a boy discovers a tattered flier announcing the “Robot Carnival” is on its way. He and his fellow villagers soon realize this is not cause for celebration. The Carnival is a ponderous clockwork contraption that is sort of a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for the entire film—a conglomeration of entertainment devices lacking clear direction or purpose, yet plowing relentlessly onward, flattening everything in its path and filling the air with music, pyrotechnics, and the occasional goat.

 

fgFranken’s Gears“: In this brief vignette, a mad scientist with dreams of world conquest builds a powerful robot that perfectly obeys his every command. He discovers perfect obedience is sometimes a very nasty bug, not a feature.

 

 

 

 

deprive

Deprive“: A future society where robots and humans live in community is devastated by an alien invasion. After a young girl is captured by the aliens’ evil overlord, her damaged robot companion re-engineers himself into a powerful fighting machine and speeds to her rescue. This one is almost pure action, with the robot’s courageous battle against overwhelming odds accompanied by a dynamic musical score.

 

Robot-Carnival1Starlight Angel“: A day at the robotic amusement park leads to fun, tragedy, danger, and a little romance. It’s a familiar girl-loses-love, girl-finds-better-love story with a symbolic robot battle tossed into the mix, but it’s nicely animated, conveying the story and its emotional content without a single word. Anyone who’s spent a day at Disneyland will notice lots of tributes to the iconic theme park.

 

 

 

presence2Presence: A robotics engineer trapped in a loveless marriage creates his ideal companion, but she proves a little too perfect for his comfort, with tragic results. Near the end of his life, the ghosts of his past return to haunt him…or, perhaps, to save him.

This piece takes place in a near future where robots are commonplace, and often very lifelike, but are treated with little more respect than toys or other common objects. It’s the most fully-rounded story of the collection and one of only two with significant dialogue. It raises some interesting questions: What is life and where does it come from? Do we assume some level of responsibility for and to our creations? The background art, particularly in the engineer’s workshop, is beautiful, with lots of delicious little details.

(Note—the link goes to a playlist. This episode is longer than the rest and was posted in multiple parts)

 

robotcarnival_fiA Tale of Two Robots—Part 3: Foreign Invasion“: There’s no Part 1 or 2. This comedy plunges us into a strange clash between two cultures and two giant robots, as a collection of misfits take their steam-powered parade float into battle against a mad scientist bent on conquering Japan. The characters are all standard archetypes, but if anything, that enhances the fun. Like “Presence,” there’s spoken dialogue (the English dub incorporates some stereotypical accents for the Japanese characters).

There’s a parable in here somewhere about overbearing Western attitudes, and the indomitable Japanese spirit, but in the end, it’s just a big, blundering, robot fight—steam and wood versus electricity and steel, with more damage dealt to the town than to the combatants.

 

cloud2Cloud“: A little robot boy trudges along a desolate road, where he’s battered by wind and rain, but strange things are stirring in the heavens. This is the artsiest episode of the anthology and in some ways the most beautiful. Ninety-nine percent of the action happens in the scrolling, magical tapestry of the background art. It takes a little patience, particularly if you favor slam-bang action, but there’s a nice payoff at the end. The music is appropriately soft and dreamy.

rc_nmNightmare: The cast-off bits and pieces of a decayed city come to life as a demonic army, and a drunken salaryman caught up in the horror scrambles to survive the night.

This is an unabashed tribute to Disney’s “Night on Bald Mountain” from Fantasia, beginning with a moody, portentous opening that plunges quickly into a pulse-pounding roller-coaster of a mad monster party.

Was it real, a dream, or merely a night of intoxicated delirium? Does malevolent life lurk within the technology we’ve created, waiting for the right opportunity to overwhelm us? You decide.

Ending” and “Epilogue“: The Robot Carnival meets its wheezing, clanking end in the desert, and we see some images of its better days, interspersed with scenes from the various stories as the credits roll. The worst seems over for the Mongolian villagers, but the Carnival has one final gift for them. You’d think they would have known better.

Here’s the link to the entire film in one package.

I’d rate this at a low PG-13 for some violence and emotionally-intense situations in “Deprive,” “Presence,” and “Nightmare.” Your mileage may vary.

 
 

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A Susan Not Forsaken

“Our sister Susan is no longer a Friend of Narnia.”

This is one of the most chilling lines in classic fantasy literature, and among devotees of C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia, one of the most hotly debated. At the climax of The Last Battle, Aslan shuts the door of eternity on Narnia, and our heroes find themselves in Aslan’s Country, a land that only gets bigger, and richer, and more real as they go further up and further in. It’s Heaven, for all intents and purposes, but somebody’s missing. Queen Susan the Gentle is nowhere to be found, and her surprising absence is summed up, without preamble, in those ten harsh, flat words from her brother, Peter.

The conventional wisdom has always been that Susan represents the once-faithful who have fallen away, seduced by the cares and pleasures of the mundane world—the lipstick and nylon stockings and parties and invitations—she’s the good seed that fell among thorns, strangled and stunted. Apostate, worldly, backslider, wanderer, lost sheep…the labels go on without end. Susan is a cautionary tale, pitiable, foolish, bereft of hope. Back in England, she’s the only member of her family remaining after the railway accident that ushers the rest of the Pevensie clan, plus Digory, Polly, Eustace, and Jill, to their joyous eternity. Susan is left alone, presumably to console herself as best she can with her boudoir and her social calendar.

susan3Still, somehow, the conventional wisdom never satisfied me, for some reason I couldn’t articulate. Susan’s dismissal jarred, like a single cracked bell in a carillon, a badly-tuned violin in the string section, a missing key on the piano. It didn’t ring true, not to the story, and not to Susan.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a poignant essay by E. Jade Lomax that speculated about Susan Pevensie’s life after the train wreck, and it shed light on what had bothered me all along—Susan was a queen, and she never stopped being a queen, in or out of Narnia.

What was it Aslan said at the very beginning? “Once a King or Queen in Narnia, always a King or Queen.

But not always a King or Queen in Narnia. None of the testimony about Susan’s failings comes from Aslan himself. There’s no recrimination, not even a question to her siblings and companions: There were eight of you. Where is the other? Where is your sister? Might it be Susan’s story wasn’t finished yet, that she had other responsibilities to fulfill, that she might need a little more time to understand Aslan better in her own world, as he said, “by another name?”

susan4I discovered yesterday that I’d overlooked a companion essay to the one I’d read, set a little earlier on Susan’s timeline. Putting the two together yields a portrait of Susan that had never occurred to me, a Susan who learned in Narnia how to rule, but remained in England to become a different, stronger, nobler sort of queen, compelled by the virtues Narnia wove into her soul, always sensing the weight of the Lion’s commission. A Susan not forsaken. Always a King or Queen:

I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

Susan living through WW2, huddling with her siblings, a young adult (again), a fighting queen and champion marksman kept from the action, until she finally storms out against screaming parents’ wishes and volunteers as a nurse on the front. She keeps a knife or two hidden under her clothes because when it comes down to it, they called her Gentle, but sometimes loving means fighting for what you care for.

This is just a taste. You should read both essays in their entirety, here and here.

susan2Frankly, I doubt this occurred to C.S. Lewis, either. What little he said about the topic reinforces the conventional wisdom of a Susan who confused “growing up” with maturity, to her great cost, though perhaps there was a chance she might have found the way to Aslan’s Country later, after many tears and hardships:

What Lewis said to his favorite readers was that he hadn’t meant to suggest Susan was damned, just that her story diverged from the one he was trying to tell.

Lewis wrote to one young reader that Susan was written out of the story “not because I have no hope of Susan’s ever getting into Aslan’s country” — that is, Heaven — “but because I have a feeling that the story of her journey would be longer and more like a grown-up novel than I wanted to write.”

Lewis admitted fallibility and issued a startling invitation: “But I may be mistaken. Why not try it yourself?”

Sometimes authors do things in their writing they don’t consciously intend, and they later realize a deeper, better truth was hidden within their story all along. While perhaps not agreeing with the essayist on every detail, I think, on the whole, Lewis would have recognized her Susan, and approved.

As for me, those ten harsh words are now inextricably linked with some others, from Susan’s perspective:

Peter had always looked disapprovingly on the care with which Susan applied her makeup back home in England, called it vanity. And even then, Susan would smile at him, say “I use what weapons I have at hand,” and not explain any more than that. The boy ruled at her side for more than a decade. He should know better.

susan1

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Writing

 

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Random Randomness, 6/6/2014

O! Many a shaft at random sent—finds mark the archer little meant! – Sir Walter Scott

“Eek! Tracker-Jackers! Run, Katniss!”

Cut Your Hair and Get a Job: A recent article in the Slate Book Review by Ruth Gordon asserts that we grownups (readers older than 18) are reading too many random Young Adult novels instead of Really Important Books, and shame, shame, shame on us. It seems Ms. Gordon spent years of toil grinding through her local library’s YA slum, slogging through an odorous midden of tales pungent with “satisfying endings” and “likable protagonists” to emerge—oh frabjous day!—into a glorious paradise filled with stories that didn’t make her eyes involuntarily rotate in their sockets, over and over and over again. She wonders when the rest of us will grow up and discover Great Literature. I expect she has a very long wait in store.

I will agree with Ms. Gordon on one point: YA books have a tendency to not simply offer a teenage point-of-view, but to “present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way.” I remember enough about my adolescence to understand the limits and dangers of the teenage perspective, and it could stand a little timely critical analysis, even in our recreational reading. Old age and treachery often trumps youth and skill, and that’s not always such a bad thing.

Tome: A book ponderous in its physical dimensions, but perhaps not worth pondering, and thus, random.

Enclave_LogoA Hermitage by Any Other Name: There was much excitement among Christian science fiction and fantasy writers regarding last week’s formal announcement of Marcher Lord Press’ rebranding to “Enclave Publishing.” New logo is at right—if the pen is mightier than the sword, then the pen-sword is…oh, never mind.

Anyhow, it’s their business and they’re free to assign it whatever random label floats their boat, but my first impression is that the name doesn’t communicate a bold new enterprise so much as it reinforces the idea of a Christian spec-fic genre characterized by a fortress mentality and a fishbowl culture. I think the future of Christian-authored science fiction and fantasy lies more in venturing outward past safe, comfortable boundaries rather than huddling inward for fear that whatever might lurk in the foggy darkness beyond our fortified walls plans to serve us up with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

oubliette

An oubliette.

Speculative fiction thrives when it embraces the joy and wonder of what is yet to be discovered “out there” and brings the reader along on that voyage of exploration. That’s a different vision than toiling over musty manuscripts within the abbey vault, emerging occasionally so the peasants might gaze in awe at your glorious illuminations. There’s certainly a depth of camaraderie and intimacy that comes with being locked in a tiny monastery, scribbling away and brewing the same old beer with the same handful of folks year-in and year-out, but it doesn’t exactly cultivate a spirit of adventure.

Oubliette: That lovely little compartment in a castle where you toss random things and people you wish to forget—forever.

Because Science—So, Shut Up: Here’s some sensible, thoughtful commentary from astrophysicist Heino Falcke on the tragically random and rocky relationship between the scientific community and social media. Read the whole thing—it’s refreshing. I’ve recently noticed the rise of a cultish community of self-appointed science-defenders who call for the virtual execution of anyone who dares express skepticism about any idea or policy buttressed by science (or something that sounds scientific), no matter how tentative or slipshod. Doubters are labeled “Science-Deniers.” Maybe my schooling was eccentric, but I always understood that science began with asking questions and challenging assumptions. A science intolerant of questions and challenge is no science at all.

denier

Just some random denier.

Denier: (n)  1. One who denies (e.g., the truth); 2. A small, originally silver, coin formerly used in western Europe; 3. A unit of fineness for yarn equal to the fineness of a yarn weighing one gram for each 9000 meters.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in General, Opinion, Writing

 

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