Archive for September, 2006

The Ecstasy of Gold

September 14, 2006

One of my favorite musical themes of all time, Ennio Morricone’s masterful The Ecstasy of Gold from his soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

My favorite version is the one performed by Yo Yo Ma on his Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone album.

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Pendulous Reading

September 13, 2006

I am about 2/3 of the way through Umberto Eco’s excellent Foucault’s Pendulum, which I started during the cruise last week. I hope to get most of the way to the end tonight after I stop blogging here.
A couple of thoughts so far:
I wish I knew Italian so that I could read this in its original form. It is multilingual anyway, with lots of French, Latin, and Old French. But I can tell that there is lots of clever wordplay, which never translates perfectly.
Best way to summarize the story and style? Imagine that Neal Stephenson had written The Da Vinci Code instead of Dan Brown.
I would like to see them try to translate this to film, since I rather enjoyed the movie version of Eco’s The Name of the Rose. But Da Vinci Code (in both book and film form) has probably oversaturated the market for Holy Grail/Templar/Rosicrucian/Illuminati conspiracy stories.

Caribbean Photoblog – Days 2 and 3

September 13, 2006

Our second and third days of the cruise (September 4 and 5) were spent at sea, where we saw flying fish (click for larger):
FlyingFish.jpg
… And enjoyed the natural beauty:
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More beauty:
CaribbeanBeauty.jpg
And our room steward made these cool origami towel-animals each night:
OrigamiElephant.jpg
OrigamiSwan.jpg
Coming tomorrow soon: zipping through the Jamaican rainforest, swimming with stingrays and eels in Grand Cayman, and comida autentica mexicana in Cozumel…

Ann Richards, RIP

September 13, 2006

Former Texas governor Ann Richards died this evening of esophageal cancer at her home in Austin, Texas. She was 73.
I didn’t vote for her in either gubernatorial election, but I did think she had one of the funniest (and most accurate) one-liners in the 1988 Democratic National Convention about George H. W. Bush: “Poor George. He can’t help it — He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” (Source).

Caribbean Photoblog – Day One

September 12, 2006

We departed Galveston, Texas on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas at 5:00 PM on Sunday, September 3, 2006. A few hours later, we were well into the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying the first of many lovely sunsets (click for larger):
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More to follow in the coming days…

Trendsetting SF Babe Blogger

September 12, 2006

That’s me. Geeze. On the whole SF Babe thing, I’ve been WAY ahead of the curve.
First, everyone seems to be noticing fellow Planoite Anousheh Ansari now that she’s going into orbit and has her own blog. Me? I noticed her two years ago and even named her an honorary SF babe for helping fund the X-Prize.
Female Stormtrooper costumes? Again, on the absolute bleeding edge.
That makes me think I need to revive the whole SF Babe Poll thing again, to stay on the cutting edge. I know I need to re-run the Firefly poll, since I didn’t include “Our Mrs. Reynolds” (Saffron) the first time around. Any other suggestions?

Anticipating the Rush

September 12, 2006

This article has me more excited than usual about Rush’s new studio release due in early 2007. This extended quote from drummer and lyricist Neil Peart especially piqued my interest:

“You try to put your own way of seeing the world into some kind of congruence with other peoples, and that’s difficult for me… I mean, I see the world in what I think to be a perfectly obvious and rational way, but when you go out into it and see the way other people think and behave, and express themselves on church signs, you realize, ‘Well, I’m not really part of this club….'”
“I looked for the good side of faith…. To me it ought to be your armor, something to protect you and something to console you in dark times. But it’s more often being turned into a sword, and that’s one big theme I’m messing with.”

What particularly interests me about this is that he has already touched on the “faith as sword” theme in the song Peaceable Kingdom from Vapor Trails (lyrics and some commentary here), which was a pretty obvious condemnation of jihadist Islam.
Peart is familiar with the church signs he mentions based on his wide-ranging motorcycle tours of North America (chronicled here and here — the latter one notably recounting his painful journey through the continent to deal with the grief of losing his wife and daughter within a year of each other.)

I’m Back – Tan, Rested, and Ready

September 12, 2006

My most recent absence from regular posting results not from the normal laziness around here, but rather from a week-long cruise in the Western Caribbean with my wife that lasted from September 3-10. More on that soon, with pictures.
I don’t have much to say about the 5-year anniversary of 9-11 that hasn’t been stated better elsewhere. Lileks got it best, I think:

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

On to the usual lighter subjects…
Update: The Heinlein quotes I post here usually have some meaning related to either the specific month or my particular mood at the time. For example, July’s featured a quote about liberty, appropriate to mark the month of America’s philosophical birth via the Declaration of Independence. August’s resulted from some recent encounters with unintentional but depressing rudeness. Not to embarass my wife, but this month’s was directly related to my anticipation of the cruise, which we took without kids to mark our 15th anniversary (which actually took place in July; but the deal with her parents was that they would babysit for a week once the kids were back in school — so we waited). I am happy to report that the quote was perfectly accurate, although we also found time to play cards.

Heinlein Quote of the Month (September 2006)

September 1, 2006

“Kissing girls is a goodness. It beats the hell out of card games.”

– Mike in Stranger in a Strange Land.