Δευτέρα, Μαΐου 31


Soundtrack:Senza Fine sung by Monica Mancini.

Hi chaps. I'm taking a wee break from blogging. Spent the weekend with my parents in Malacca, as we were picking up some documents from a friend of dad's there and decided to make it a short overnight trip.

I'm going to watch a few films and unwind. This afternoon I watched Ghost Ship, an absolutely awful horror film from 2002 (or 2001, I forget). What was nice was the italian 60s love song used in the film. I'll quote it below and be done blogging for the day!
>Senza fine
Tu trascini la nostra vita
Senza un attimo di respiro
Per sognare
Per potere ricordare
Cio che abbiamo gia vissuto

Senza fine
Tu sei un attimo senza fine
Non hai ieri
Non hai domani
Tutto e ormai nelle tue mani
Mani grandi
Mani senza fine

Non m'importa della luna
Non m'importa delle stelle
Tu per me sei luna e stelle
Tu per me sei sole e cielo
Tu per me sei tutto quanto
Tutto quanto io voglio avere
Here follows my attempt at translation:

Without end,
You drag our life
Without a moment of breath
In order to dream
To be able to remember
That we have lived

Without end
You are a moment without end,
You have not yesterday
You have not tomorrow
All and by now in your hands
Hands, great Hands, without end

The moon is of no importance
The stars are of no importance,
You for me are the moon and stars
You for me are sun and sky
You for me are, Oh, how much
All how much I do not want to have (I have no idea how this translates)

But ah well!

Παρασκευή, Μαΐου 28

Congrats... You're an Incubus!! You Stud! ^_~

Soundtrack: Tell Me Why by Paul van Dyk.

I took the What Mythological Creature Are you? test!

More Bitching on Troy

Soundtrack: Together We Will Conquer by Paul Van Dyk. Mmmmm. Trance.

More lovely bitching about the crap film from the chaps at Livejournal Classics
DEATHS: Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. The deaths made me cry. Not with pity or sadness, you understand, but with shock and horror at the stupidity. Giving a list seems to be the best way around my incoherent agony...

Menelaus - He dies. On the SECOND DAY! He's not meant to die. He wins. He gets the girl. He goes home to Sparta. The end. But not, apparently.

Ajax - Also killed on the second day. Apparently, suicide is not an option the film-makers wanted to include, because obviously giving depth to their characters was the last thing they wanted.

Paris - Not actually a death, and therin lies the problem. He's meant to be dead, why isn't he dead?!

The ending? Paris, leaves the city with Helen and Briseis May I be the first to say, WTF?! There's not even a little basis in canon for this. Not even a little. Helen leaves the smoking remains of Troy with Menelaus. Paris is dead [yay!].

And, of course, we must include the immediate distortion of relationships. Agamemnon is established from the first as having something of a feud with Achilles:

"Of all the princes...I hate him the most"

Yep. It's that subtle.

Achilles, obviously, hates him back. Ta Da: instant rivalry! Therin lies the reasoning behind Achilles taking the entire Trojan beach, all by himself, just to show off.

Agamemnon then goes on to cement his appearance as an evil bastard by laughing evilly and proclaiming, at great length, about his brilliance. The ancient greek equivalent of 'I am so great! I am so great! Nyah!' What is equally odd, in light of this, is the dismissal of the Iphigenia episode. I mean, if you want people to think a character is evil, have him kill his own daughter. Cinematically, it's a good bit to include, although obviously easy to misinterpret. But no, this must be missed out, because then if something from the actual story happened (heaven forbid!), then the director might actually have had to go with the canon and let Agamemnon live to get his come-uppance at a later date.


That said, Agamemnon was so ridiculously evil. I was waiting for the scary music and for him to sprout fangs.

And Orlando Bloom. Tsk, tsk. Does he have more than one facial expression? Or even more than one character basis? I swear, I was having LOTR flash-backs the whole way through. I kid you not.

Didn't the audience come out saying "What was the big deal about a 17 day war ? How did this make Achilles famous ? He won a 17 day war ?"

And then, just the whole "cousin" thing...they tried to ditch the homoeroticism, but instead, everything that could have remotely been related to homosexuality stood out like a sore thumb--because we were all LOOKING for it. Especially with the men flaunting abs and rear ends everywhere you looked!

When students go to literature class and find out it's different in Homer, they gain the greatest lesson that can be taught, that of questioning one's sources and looking past what one is told. The fact that the truth ALWAYS has to be searched for and is never spoken outright by anyone. If a few million americans had learned this, we probably wouldn't be at war now. That's the problem with this. people expected to be handed the truth. you're not going to be. if you want it you have to go looking.

My favorite anachronistic line from the movie:
Hector: When will the soldiers from the countryside be here?
Random Soldier: Noon.

Yes, noon, and they had watches in Troy?

If you can STILL read more, try this list of errors spotted by a Classics student and teacher. Here are my favourites:
1) The war lasts about 16 days in the film, when it is supposed to last 10 years. But a decade more or less, does it really matter?...
2) In the film Agammemnon has unified all Greece... Maybe they confused him with Philip V of Macedonia (Alexander's daddy), who lived 9 centuries later and who was the first to do such a thing.
5) By the way, Sparta is not supposed to be on the sea shore, it is placed in the hinterland, just like in the map they showed 3 seconds before showing the port of Sparta!
19) So, the Trojans used to wear togas?? I was surprised not to see any lictor!
24) It was already amazing to see the 2nd century Romans using stirrups, but it seems now that even the Trojans used it in the 13th century BC...
26) The Achaean army counts 50'000 soldiers... Maybe this is a little too much; I wonder if there was some men left in Greece to protect the land during their absence...
28) I didn't know that the Greeks used money as soon as the Bronze Period...
29) If it was the case (!), they were putting the coin in the mouth of the dead, not on his eyes (but I suppose it is more cinematographic).

Which Translation of the Iliad?

Alright, since a number of readers of this blog seem to have been directed here on account of my review of Troy, and I've gotten a few questions on which version of the Iliad they should attempt, here's a little attempt by me to tell you!

Needless to say, ideally, the Iliad (and Homer) should be read in the original Greek, and read ALOUD. It's poetry, after all. Click here to hear Stanley Lombardo, read the first book of the Iliad in the original Greek. That may be slightly boring to those of you who don't understand Homeric Greek (I confess mine isn't terribly good either), and you may recall that Homeric epics were meant to be sung by bards, who told the story to crowds, varying details in each performance. What did that sound like? We can't be sure, but there've been efforts to reconstruct the effect, based on folk epics and storytelling traditions that still survive. There's page about Homeric Singing, which contains Demodokos' Song from the Odyssey, sung to a melody based on the pitch accent of the text and accompanied by a reconstruction of the Homeric Phorminx (a sort of 4-stringed harp). The original Greek has a sort of Tummm-ta-ta rhythm that's quite hypnotic, and standard for epic poetry.

I have two criteria for judging translations. Firstly it has to be poetry, with a recognisable rhythm (the Iliad is VERY rhythmic), hence any 'free verse' nonsense is out. Secondly, and perhaps more nebulously, it has to feel like Homer. I'll quote the opening of each so you get an idea of what they're like. Here's a very basic English translation as reference (numbers in square brackets indicate line numbers in the original Greek):
The wrath sing, goddess, of Peleus' son, Achilles, that destructive wrath which brought countless woes upon the Achaeans, and sent forth to Hades many valiant souls of heroes, and made them themselves spoil for dogs and every bird; thus the plan of Zeus came to fulfillment, [5] from the time when first they parted in strife Atreus' son, king of men, and brilliant Achilles.
If you want a very old-fashioned English verse translation of Homer's Iliad, check out Alexander Pope's version of 1725:
Achilles’ wrath, to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumber’d, heavenly goddess, sing!
That wrath which hurl’d to Pluto’s gloomy reign
The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain;
Whose limbs unburied on the naked shore,
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore.
Since great Achilles and Atrides strove,
Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove!
Very pretty, and very poetic, but it's not Homer - it's Pope. Still, Pope's translation is very pretty to read, even though he adds in all sorts of 1725-ish details.

Next, there are the modern versions available:
Lattimore, 1951:
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus
and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaeans,
hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls
of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting
of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished
since that time when first there stood in division of conflict
Atreus' son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus.

Fagles, 1990:
Rage--Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.

Lombardo, 1997:
Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls
Of heroes into Hades' dark,
And left their bodies to rot as feasts
for dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.
Begin with the clash between Agamemnon--v The Greek warlord--and godlike Achilles.
Each of the translators has made a series of choices in translating Homer into English. All of the translators are attempting to be accurate, clear, and readable, but they express these qualities in different ways.

Lattimore's translation has been often praised for its accuracy and poetic qualities. It manages to be literal without being stiff and matches Homer's phrasing closely. It also uses a number of devices to maintain the 'strangeness' of Homer: Achilleus is Achilleus (reflecting the original Greek), not Achilles; Hades is mentioned in line 4 without further explanation; and in line 7 Lattimore renders the Greek faithfully with the patronymic 'Atreus' son,' rather than substituting the name Agamemnon as the other two translators do. Lattimore, like the other translators, decided not to render Homer's dactylic hexameter in his translation into a strict English meter, such as dactylic hexameter or iambic pentameter, but instead chose a naturally stressed free verse. In Lattimore's case, he aimed at a regular six-beat stressed line, letting the natural stresses of the English words carry the rhythm along. For example, the first line can be read and stressed as follows in English (an accent ['] mark indicates which syllables are stressed):
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus
The meter is beautiful to the ear, especially when longer passages are read aloud in English. Finally, Lattimore's translation matches Homer's Greek line for line. For example, Lattimore's Iliad Book I is 611 lines long, the same length as Homer's. In contrast, Fagles' Iliad Book I is 745 lines long, Lombardo's 643.

Fagles and Lombardo were each trying for something different from Lattimore. Fagles tries to bridge the gap between Greek culture and our own by being more accessible: the word 'Rage' is repeated twice in line 1 to emphasize that 'rage' (μήνιν in Greek) is the first word and a major theme of the poem; in line 3 "the house of Hades" has become 'the House of Death'; 'carrion,' not in the Greek, has been added in line 4, as has 'Muse' in line 7, to help the reader understand who the Goddess is the poet addresses in line 1; and 'Agamemnon' has been substituted in line 8 for the more obscure 'Ατρείδη - Atreus' son.' Lombardo's main goal is to emphasize one characteristic of Homeric Greek above all else: its speed. Homeric Greek is supple and moves quickly, and to try to capture this aspect Lombardo writes a shorter English line and drops words and phrases from Homer. 'Peleus' son' drops out of line 1, 'Achaeans' is shortened to 'Greeks' in line 2, Homer's "strong souls" become simply "souls" in line 3, and again 'Atreus' son' has become 'Agamemnon' in line 8. Both Fagles and Lombardo also wrote their translations as poetry to be read aloud. Fagles says in his introduction that he used a flexible line of five, six, and occasionally seven beats, while Lombardo's metrics are quite free, designed to reflect the stress and rhythm of ordinary speech in the service of speed.

All three of these translations have their strengths and weaknesses. The reason that I recommend the Lattimore translation is that the majority of Classics scholars have found that it offers the accuracy, clarity, and readability that works effectively in trying to read Homer. Lattimore's translation can be more demanding than the other translations, but so far faculty and students have found that it offers an excellent means for studying the Iliad and the culture it portrays. There will undoubtedly be a time when Lattimore's translation is replaced by another one for me, since no translation, no matter how great, keeps its vitality forever, but this will only happen when it is obvious to the me that the new translation will allow new generations of readers to enter into Homer's world in a way that Lattimore's no longer can.

On the other hand, if you don't really want a feel of Homer, but want a gripping read, try Lombardo's version. Compare the two translations when Agamemnon replies to the priest of Apollo, who is asking for his daughter Chryses back:

Lombardo, 1997:
'Don't let me ever catch you, old man, by these ships again,
Skulking around now or sneaking back later.
The god's staff and ribbons won't save you next time.
The girl is mine, and she'll be an old woman in Argos
Before I let her go, working the loom in my house
And coming to my bed, far from her homeland.
Now clear out of here before you make me angry!'

Lattimore, 1951:
'Never let me find you again, old sir, near our hollow
ships, neither lingering now nor coming again hereafter,
for fear your staff and the god's ribbons help you no longer.
The girl I will not give back; sooner will old age come upon her
in my own house, in Argos, far from her own land, going
up and down by the loom and being in my bed as my companion.
Sso go now, do not make me angry; so you will be safer.'

I think that really sums it up. One's like something out of a novel and the other's epic.

Who said...

... that reading the Bible without reference to Tradition could get you in trouble?

A man was looking for some guidance from God so he asked God to make his Bible open at the page He wanted him to read. So the man opened his bible randomly and the first verse that his eyes met was 2 Corinthians 13:12, "Greet one another with a holy kiss." A little discouraged he tried again and this time he found himself at 1 Corinthians 14:39 "Do not forbid the use of tongues."

The classic example is the guy who opened to "Judas went out and hanged himself", tried again and found "Go thou and do likewise..."

[from Shrine of the Holy Whapping]

More Sartorial Lust

Soundtrack: Love Flows Like A River by Tuck & Patti. Folksy Jazz, great for parties and relaxing.
Ah, I'm in sartorial lust again. This time, it's the house of Berluti, a Parisian luxury shoe brand, dating from 1895 when an Italian shoemaker, Alessandro Berluti, moved to Paris and opened a shop. Berluti makes stunning shoes with a deep burnished shine, like expensive hardwoods. Have a look at their website, their Club, Dandy and Tatoues models are to die for. I showed them to a friend and he said "they have to be wood.. it's not humanly possible for leather to shine like that". Prices start at £650 for ready-made shoes and £2000 for bespoke shoes.

Incidentally, Berluti made the most expensive pair of shoes to date, a pearl-studded pair for 'Emperor' Bokassa of the Central African Empire (now Republic), for his self-coronation in 1977, and those loafers cost a whopping $85,000 USD.

Oh, in other news... Justin brought the girlfriend along. But that's alright, cos she was nice and I've decided she's ok. We had a good catching up session. Justin's still yummily buff as always.

蔭餘堂 Yin Yu Tang - A Chinese Home

Soundtrack:流水Liu Shui, a piece for Chinese ch'in zither, apparently dating back to the middle Ming dynasty (hence 1400s or so).

This one's an interesting site, a home of the late Ch'ing (Qing for you pinyin Nazis) Dynasty, from Anhui province, moved in toto to America and restored beautifully. It's now at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusets, and is the only complete, historic Chinese house located outside China. The website is beautifully constructed and shows great attention to detail. The artefacts, the construction, daily use as well as the dismantling and later restoration and re-erection in America is explained extensivly and lavishly illustrated. Of course, everyone should have a deep knowledge and abiding interest in Chinese architecture, culture and history, so the site should be a source of great joy to all, but should one be such an unthinkable boor as to lack all of these things, the site will still remain an excellent example of how a museum website should work.

Πέμπτη, Μαΐου 27

Spot The Fake Smile

Soundtrack: Gloria from Guillaume Machaut's La Messe de Nostre Dame, sung by the Ensemble Organum. One of the earliest pieces of Renaissance Polyphony, dating from the 1300s. Fascinating, as it still feels very Mediaeval, but at the same time, it looks forward to Palestrina in some moments. This performance by Ensemble Organum introduces some rather Byzantine-sounding ornaments and is *quite* interesting.

I got 17 out of 20 right in this test.
Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles. One possible explanation for this is that it may be easier for people to get along if they don't always know what others are really feeling.

Meanwhile, after a long and tiring day of meetings, I'm having dinner with Justin Soo, whom I've not seen in something like a year. I do hope he's not bringing his girlfriend with him. Yes, I'm slightly jealous of her, but there's more than that. Yes, she's a nice girl, but she's so simperingly feminine that it drives me up the wall. She coos and poses... she's the sort of girl who takes two bites of a meal and declares herself full, and will only eat one more mouthful if her boyfriend feeds it to her. Ugh. Girls like that make me want to throttle myself.. Justin and I have been friends for over a decade now (some of my circle have been friends with him even longer), and he's a close old friend.. but none of us have been able to see him this past year without him bringing his little girlfriend along.

I'm currently looking through a pictoral catalogue of Ming and Ch'ing furniture mum brough home (a book, not a collection of furniture!)... and drooling at the chinese antiques. Would that I could afford them. Ha. Would that I could afford a lot of things...

This week's pick from Lew Rockwell

Soundtrack: Gabrieli's Deus Qui Beatum Marcum from A Venetian Coronation, played by the Gabrieli Consort and Singers, directed by Paul McCreesh. OTT Venetian festival music from the late 1500s, with plenty of instruments and singers. Bombast is the word.

First off, two articles by Mike Rogers on music: Rock and Roll Repudiation, and Now That's Good Music! on why Rock music is bad for babies. Please, please, read them.

Was There a Trojan War?
- Probably, but not much like Brad Pitt's.

The Dangers of a Purely Contemporary Language - We’re Losing Shakespeare!
- by Joe Sobran. "George Orwell saw not only the poverty but the danger of a language that had become purely contemporary. A language without roots, without the authority of generations implicit in its usages, is the perfect instrument for tyranny."

Things That Make You Go...Aaarrghh!
- Finally, life's most annoying things explained. (Well, some of them, anyway.)

Τετάρτη, Μαΐου 26


Soundtrack: Sonata Duodecima by Dario Castello, played by the Palladian Ensemble.

my prescription:

Prednisolone: 5mg morning, 2.5mg evening
Famotidine: 40mg morning, 40mg evening
Telfast: 180mg morning afternoon and evening
hydroxizine: 25mg morning and afternoon, 50mg evening.

Whee. Great fun. I'm on ultra-high doses of anti-histamines to control the hives, the docs are trying to wean me off the steroids which I've been on for nearly half a year now. Steroids are bad in the long-term - I've gained weight, had constant skin breakouts, been subject to mood swings... I'm a Spotty Grumpy Whale, basically.

Just took my evening dose with a gulp of Amaretto - it was the only drink I had to hand. Someobody tell me why taking medication with alcohol is a bad idea? It's never been explained to me properly.

Cooked dinner this evening for the family. I figured pasta would be quick and easy.Started off with a basic Aglio e Olio recipe - olive oil, lots of garlic and chilli... but I decided to jazz it up with a good amount of chopped mushrooms. Then I had the idea of adding the juice of half a lemon. The result? An Aglio e Olio that had a bit more texture than usual and a slight tanginess that complemented the oiliness nicely.

Used the leftover lemon juice with olive oil for a salad dressing, but again, with a difference - a few dashes of sesame oil into the olive oil. The ensuing lemony-olivy-sesameish flavour is very very good.

Oh if you want a cheap laugh, go here.

I've been having discussions with friends on the nature of friendship recently. How often do friends need to be in touch and see each other? I've friends with whom I'm in regular contact online and via text messaging, and hence I don't see that often - some of these I see perhaps once a year or even less, although we talk online perhaps several times a month. I've friends with whom I've not had contact with for years, but when the deep bond of friendship is there, once we meet again or talk online again... the gap of years falls away and it's as if we'd never parted. There are friends I see often because we live in the same city and constantly have stuff to update each other on and bitch about, or perhaps we move in roughly the same circles and these circles cross every so often.

Dependency is not healthy for any friendship, I've come to realise that. When one party constantly leans on the other, it's not good. Friendship is something that can only exist between equals. While I'm not advocating choosing friends based on a possibility of benefit, it should be obvious to anyone that a mentor-student relationship is not a true friendship. Really close friends aren't co-dependent, aren't sticky and their intimacy isn't forced. The distance between the two has to be comfortable for both.

I'm reminded of a Chinese saying:
It translates roughly as 'The relations between gentlemen is bland like water, the relations between little people is sweet like honey'. Alas, the literal translation carries none of the force of the original. The idea is that Gentlemen friends keep a respectful distance between each other and aren't over familiar, presuming to want to know every detail of each other's lives, whereas 'little people' or 'people of small minds' are sticky and extremely close all the time, cloyingly sweet like honey. There's also the idea that the water in the first bit is clear, pure and flowing... silent but deep. I know, it's not in the translation, but it's all implied. That's one of the glories of the Chinese language - its terseness, rather like Latin.

There's the striking mental image that comes to mind - two Chinese scholars in robes of the archaic period (like Confucius) standing on opposite sides of a gently flowing stream, bowing respectfully to each other. Then the second part of the saying brings to mind two crude peasants, scruffy and rough, arms on each other's shoulders, both of them enjoying sticks of candied haws (which are very sticky) and getting it all over themselves (hence sticking to each other) while loudly joking.

In other news, I've continued reading the Iliad. There is such an abundance of glorious lines in there... lines that I have to remember and use when appropriate. I'll collect them as I find them and post them here in Greek and English. Quotes such as Hector's curse to Paris "we should have given you a coat of stone long ago" - i.e. a stoning. Don't be surprised I can't remember the Greek, for Homeric Greek is as different from Classical Greek as Beowulf is from Chaucer. Imagine a novel written in a mix of Ebonics, Scots, Rap-talk and Engish... that's what the Iliad is like, as the Homeric language is a mishmash of various dialects.

Andrij sent me this lovely quote from Metro (a free London daily newspaper distributed in the Underground stations):
"I almost wet myself listening to Brad Pitt making a fool of himself at a
press conference in Cannes while pitifully attempting to explain Homer's
intentions when writing The Iliad. Shut up and be pretty, girly-man!"
I'll end this post and go to bed with one more quote, this time from Pensate Omnia:
What would happen to society if it were actually possible -- from an economic and political point of view -- to radically redistribute wealth and opportunity in such a way that all people were equally well educated, cultured and groomed? Now, I think this goal is sorta nice (maybe), but completely impossible in reality. But, all that aside, how would society function if such a liberal/progressive vision actually happened? Who would work in McDonalds, or drive semi trucks, or clean hotel rooms, or sit behind a little desk answering phones all day? Seriously.

Society would fail if everyone were well educated, cultured and groomed.

I Love Haydn

Soundtrack: Haydn's Cello Concerto in C Major, played by Christophe Coin and the Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Christopher Hogwood. Stunningly beautiful and gorgeously lyrical. Review available here. I find Coin's version better than Yo-Yo Ma's, as Coin specialises in period cello, and Ma doesn't.

Ah, I so love Haydn's music. There's a mixture of geniality and sanity about his work that I find irresistable. I actually prefer him to Mozart by far. Mozart is exuberant and giggly, like a little child in bright colours running about the place. Haydn, in contrast, is quietly elegant and always serene, rather more like a perfectly mannered adolescent girl of the 18th Century in an understated silk brocade dress, with a gentle smile on her lips.

Someone once said that while Mozart seems to walk on air, and Beethoven digs down into the depths, Haydn always kept his feet on the ground, and I think that is perhaps one of the reasons I love his music so. He was a genius, but never a tormented or showy genius. He has been accurately described as 'the most comforting and humane of composers' and he wrote music, he said, so that the 'weary and the worn, or the man burdened with affairs, may enjoy a few moments of solace and refreshment'. It is hard to think of a more modest, or beguiling, description of the consolation of great art (and music in particular).

Come to think of it, Haydn may well have been my introduction to classical music. Mum tells me while I was yet in the womb, she would play her classical records (one of the favourites was Haydn's Cello Concerti) and talk to me, saying something like 'you must listen to music like this when you grow up, ok? None of that horrible noisy modern stuff!'. Apparently it's worked for the most part, even though I quite like Trance, for I find myself constantly coming back to Jazz and Classical for solace.

Piece Of Useless Information: the melody of the German anthem Deutschland Uber Alles is taken from the slow movement of a Haydn string quartet.

Francis I of France and the Pope once met in one of those show-off friendly encounters that Renaissance monarchs used to enjoy. One night, the king and the Pope exchanged lutenists: Francesco da Milano played for Francis, and Albert de Rippe played for the Pope. After Francesco was done, Francis thanked him and gave him his weight in gold. After Albert was done playing, the Pope thanked him and gave him ... his blessing.

More Troy Stuff

Soundtrack: Arvo Pärt's Kanon Pokajanen, Slightly out of synch, I know, but hey, it's good stuff!

Two cartoons about Troy this morning: Troy, the Gabriel Cut and this one. It could have been a "gay" film, but nooooooo, they had to be "cousins"...

Just for kicks, some friends and I have been compiling a list of works from Western literature that are messed up by the "artistic licenses" taken in Troy. Here it goes...

  • The Odyssey

  • The Oresteia

  • Andromache
  • Electra
  • Hecuba
  • Helen (in Egypt)
  • Iphigenia at Aulis/Iphigenia Among the Taurians
  • Orestes
  • The Trojan Women

  • Ajax
  • Electra
  • Philoctetes

  • The Aeneid
  • The Eclogues (mention Paris as a shepherd...so I guess this is kind of nitpicky)

  • The Metamorphoses
  • The Heroides

  • The Inferno

  • Troilus and Cressida

  • Iphigenie auf Tauris
  • Faust

    Now, I'm sure we're missing some, so feel free to add what you can think of. Personally, I liked the movie for its entertainment value (and nothing else), but you have to wonder just how many artistic licenses you are entitled to when something forms the basis of Western literature.

    You very own Odyssey. by laurel_blossom
    Who accompanied you?Telemachus
    What was your mode of transportation?On a raft made of bendy straws
    What happened with Circe?She drove you insane by playing elevator music all the time.
    Did Calypso take you prisoner?Yes, but you escaped by making a small boat out of all her ugly wooden jewelry.
    What did the Phaeacians think of you?They thought you were funky awesome cool, man.
    How did you deal with the suitors?You threw pillows at them, thus they were frightened away by the extreme cuddly softness.
    What did your family say when you returned?“Your dinner got so cold that it turned into ice cream and ruined the table cloth; just so you know, that’s coming out of YOUR allowance.”
    Created with the ORIGINAL MemeGen!

  • Τρίτη, Μαΐου 25


    Soundtrack: Monteverdi's Oblivion Soave from L'Incoronazione di Poppea, sung by Dawn Upshaw.

    If you've been paying attention, you'll notice a new little box below my User Profile on the right. That's my Phlog! You'll be wondering what a Phlog is, naturally. The answer is simple, and I'll let the chaps at Whisk explain:
    Phlogger is an extension to your blog. When you blog, you usually have to be at home online, but what Phlogger does is it allows you to blog thru your phone, by SMS or MMS, and whatever you type will go into your blog almost immediately, anytime, anywhere. Perfect for while you're out and you're hit with a sudden urge to blog something to all your readers, before you forget it once you're home. Too cool to be true? Nope, it's here and it's free![more]
    It can be used either as a standalone or embedded into a blog (as I've chosen to do)... it's apparently quite popular with school-age adolescents (I found the link from a former student's blog) in Singapore (the company's Singapore-based), and I like to think I'm 17 (for the tenth year running), so that's ok. Right, so now I have a phlog - I'm officially kewl*. It's a cute idea, but let's wait and see how long before phlogging becomes a dead horse.

    *- incidentally, how does one pronounce "kewl"? Is the "kew" pronounced identical with "Kew" (as as in the Gardens) and "Queue"?

    Some Links

    from Lew Rockwell:

    A Sense of Wonder: by Charley Reese.
    "Both Christianity and Zen urge us to return to a childlike state so that we can experience the wonder and the beauty of the world. Our memories of childhood are so vivid because then we lived in the present moment, encumbered neither by memories nor worries about the future."
    It's a blessing to be able to do that, being able to live "in the moment" and enjoy life to the fullest. I know I've still got a bit of that child-like wonder, I wonder how long I'll be able to keep it.

    Best Teller: by Robert McCrum.
    This one's quite good, a bit of speculation about the identity of Homer. Why's Homer so important? Well, Western civilisation worships the Romans. The Romans worshipped the Greeks. The Greeks worshipped Homer. That rather makes him like God then...

    Two men who tell it like it is, from Serge:

    "The Israelis Are Acting Like Nazis!"
    says Holocaust survivor Yosef Lapid.
    An Israeli Jew who isn't afraid to face the truth and call it evil.

    "Poor blacks can't speak English, shouldn't blame the police for imprisonment and have themselves to blame for being poor!" says Bill Cosby.
    "Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'

    He added: "They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' ... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. ... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. ... You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"
    There's more - speaking about blacks in prison:
    "These are not political criminals," he said. "These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"
    Thank Athena some black person has the guts to say this, for in their current state of victimhood-mentality, the black community won't let anyone of any other colour get away with it. Perhaps they'll listen up this time.

    Δευτέρα, Μαΐου 24


    Angel of Protection.
    What kind of Angel are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    The Lost Soul
    The Lost Soul
    What sign of the Black Zodiac are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    O Westron Wynde

    O Westron Wynde when wylt thow blow
    The small rayne downe can rayne
    Cryst yf my love were in my armys
    And I yn my bed agayne.

    (Anon., before 1500)
    O Western Wind, when wilt thou blow
    The small rain down can rain
    Christ, if my love were in my arms
    And I in my bed again
    I miss you. Not a day gone by these nearly two years when I haven't thought about you. You know who you are. I know you think of and miss me too, yet also do I know I wish not for your return. We're not good for each other, even though our intentions were good and we wished only the best for each other. My life is complicated enough as it is. You know full well you complicate things even further. Oddly though, while you were in my life, the instability and volatility of our relationship was a dependable constant. Our intimacy was luminous while it lasted, but we should both move on now. It's true, all good things come to an end, but wish I to the gods that it had ended otherwise. I hope we both end up in the same place in Eternity, for I'd rather be able to love you perfectly in the next life than to have you in this life, where all love is imperfect.
    If Love's a Sweet Passion, why does it torment?
    If a Bitter, oh tell me, whence comes my content?
    Since I suffer with pleasure, why should I complain,
    Or grieve at my Fate, when I know 'tis in vain?
    Yet so pleasing the Pain is, so soft is the Dart,
    That at once it both wounds me and tickles my Heart.
    (from Henry Purcell's The Fairy Queen)
    O how often I thought those words to myself when we fought and argued. I suppose it's all part of growing up, this childish love-affair. After we parted, for the longest time I could not bear to listen to Noël Coward's Someday I'll Find You without tearing, for I thought of you each time I heard these lyrics:
    Someday I'll find you,
    Moonlight behind you,
    True to the dream I am dreaming.
    As I draw near you'll smile a little smile;
    For a while
    We shall stand
    Hand in hand.
    I'll leave you never,
    Love you forever,
    All our past sorrow redeeming:
    Try to make it true,
    Say you love me too,
    Someday I'll find you again.
    Still, I shall remember what we had with a smile through the years, tho it be bitter-sweet at best. Perhaps Coward's Let's Say Good-bye is relevant here:
    Let our affair be a gay thing,
    And when these hours have flown.
    Then, without forgetting
    Happines that has passed,
    There'll be no regretting
    Fun that didn't quite last.
    Let's look on love as plaything,
    All these sweet moments we've known
    Mustn't be degraded
    When the thrill of them has faded,
    Let's say 'Good-bye'
    And leave it alone.
    Be well, and take good care of yourself.

    Spanish Royal Wedding

    from Dappled Things:
    Nearly everyone rejoiced at the festivities of the wedding of Don Felipe de Borbón, Prince of Asturias to the first commoner to be set on the road to becoming one day Queen of Spain. Some people are never happy, though, and the inevitable party-poopers had to make some noise. One group complained that it cost too much. A group of miserable republicans protested outside the Cathedral and called for the abolition of the (extremely popular) monarchy. Just as miserable, the Iranian theocracy issued a diplomatic protest because the Spanish royals had invited the deposed Empress of Iran and the late Shah's son to the wedding. Good for the Spaniards.

    Che Guevara and other Monsters

    from Dappled Things:
    I admit to detesting those red t-shirts with Che Guevara's face on them. The people who wear them are, more likely than not, as ignorant of Che Guevara as they are of any other historical figure, so I suppose we should cut them some slack. Still, it's a despicable fad. The Telegraph has a piece on the fashionability of Che (whom it calls "the murdering savage") at the Cannes festival.
    What was he about? Here's a bit of information:
    He was not a Cuban, but a high-born Argentinian who as a young man was appalled by the plight of the poor of South America. As so often happens, however, he combined a hatred of an existing system with the super-ego of privilege and with a self-ordained exemption from all law and morality. The outcome, classically, was a merciless revolutionary, who revelled in homicidal violence, both as a means and an end.

    Within a month of the Fidelistas' triumph, with Guevara's secret Communist cell driving the process, more than 500 ex-members of the deposed regime were murdered. When a young revolutionary urged caution, the Argentinian abused him roundly. "What a shit-eater you are," he roared. "We must make the revolution in a struggle to the death against imperialism from the first moment."

    Not content with the bloodshed in Cuba, he travelled to Africa to preach Marxist violence to the pre-literates of the Congo. But many brands of violence, even cannibalism, were vying in that charming marketplace and, unable to compete, he returned to Cuba. His next mission was to mainland South America to create - in his own words - a continental inferno, another Vietnam, which would ultimately destroy the US. So, all in all, an admirable fellow...

    The poster of Guevara on an undergraduate wall is an echo of this fatuity, a historically-ignorant and adolescent rejection of the poor devil who is paying for the flat. Above all, Guevara's enduring status in film and populist imagery is proof of mankind's pathetic inability to recognise evil when its guise is beauty and its lie is love.
    Don't even get me started on the idiots around the world (especially in Britain) who happily wear teeshirts with the hammer and sickle or CCCP on them. They have no idea of the evil that drives Communism.

    Catholic and Protestant pilgrims make way to Marian shrine in Fujian

    from The Curt Jester:
    Fuzhou (AsiaNew/Ucan) - A Marian shrine in Fujian province has attracted a large number of Protestants as well as Catholics this May.

    Sister Zheng Wenying of Fuzhou estimates that at least 1,000 Protestants from Fujian and neighboring provinces had visited Rosary Hill Village by the middle of the month that Catholics traditionally devote to Mary. Most came in groups ranging from dozens to a hundred, led by Protestant pastors.

    Sister Zheng told that nuns of the diocese explained Catholic teachings about the Blessed Mother to some visiting Protestant groups. Some members of these groups agreed that revering both Jesus and his mother would make their Christian faith more complete, she said, adding that "some even knelt and prayed in the church."


    Why Traditional Southrons do not spell words like the Yankees do?

    Doxos has been reading about a series on "Verbal Independence", and it's quite interesting.
    For cultural distinctiveness the LS eschews the use of Webster's so-called "American" English orthography which actually is nothing more than a bastardisation of the proper and correct English language by New England busybodies.

    Whenever possible, we prefer to use the more traditional, antebellum Southern English orthography; widely known to many as the Oxford standard which once saw widespread usage in Dixie prior to the War for Southern Independence and Reconstruction and even some limited use afterwards... the Oxford standard is the most widely accepted and orthodox orthography in the English-speaking world. It is actually the most accurate guide to the spelling of the English language available today, and we proudly re-embrace it as a part of our Southron language.
    It's fascinating, as they advocate a standard that's almost identical with English.

    Lame Religious Joke Du Jour

    (from St Stephen's Musings)

    Q: Why do Episcopalians/Anglicans never win at chess?
    A: They can't tell the difference between a bishop and a queen.

    A Koranic verse I had never seen before

    "When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives." Surat Mohammed: 47: 4 [from Gerard Serafin]

    Anyone else to suggest it's a religion of peace?

    Κυριακή, Μαΐου 23

    Random Thoughts

  • I'm in sartorial lust again. I was just reminded of a beautiful pair of shoes I saw and tried on with Justin Soo 2 years back in London:

    Red House, they call it. No patterns, no stitching, no broguing - just one single piece of leather for the upper. They looked gorgeous on me and felt like heaven. Now imagine them in this sort of Burnished Tan colour:

    But alas, they're over £200 a pair - £220 for the simpler model and £297 for the best ones. The rest of the site's stunning too - I love their shoes! Keep on drooling, Ed. (That's a hint for you readers to pool some money together to buy me a pair!)

  • Tried finding a new toothbrush today. All the shops had were Soft and Medium. Doesn't anyone use Hard toothbrushes anymore? There will be no jokes about putting hard things in my mouth. (Anthony, this means you!)

  • Had a brunch appointment with Remí today, and thanks to his usual punctuality, it turned into a lunch appointment. I was glad to see him again - he's doing alright in National Service, almost nearing the end of his BMT (Basic Military Training). He's deeply tanned, has no hair, but has kept his sense of humour. He loves the humanities deeply, and cannot imagine life without music, books and beautiful things. He also wants me to run a sort of intense crash-course in high-culture for him when he has his week of leave after finishing BMT, before he gets posted to a unit. We'll see about that. He's such a sweet little goof.

  • The quite-good and conveniently-located Bellagio's Gelato in Holland Village in Singapore has closed. I only realised this when Cheryl and I went down for a spot of Gelato after lunch today and found, to our horror, the place empty and a "For Rent" sign up. A pity, they weren't bad and not too expensive either. Ye shall be missed. The blazing tropical heat seemed a lot hotter after that.

  • It seems that the Turks are now claiming Homer was Turkish, and that he was actually named Omar. Ha. Speaking of Omars...

  • Omar Sharif, the venerable actor, now aged 71, is learning ancient Greek:
    Fluent in several languages, the elder Sharif said he has taken up the study of ancient Greek. "One of two things will happen: I will have died learning something useless but beautiful, or I shall die having read Homer in the original. It may seem stupid but you have to have a beautiful mission in life."
    Good for him!

  • Reading my friend Alfian's blog, I have new respect for the Malay tongue, which I had hitherto considered a primitive and savage language:
    Malay is a subtle and complex language, and its many modes of pronoun address are enough to give me a headache. Take, for example the word 'we'. In Malay, two versions of 'we' exist: one, 'kami', excludes the person addressed to, and 'kita', includes this person. If I take such examples of exclusion and inclusion further, then it is possible to conclude that Malay society is extremely stratified, going back to its early feudal roots, where separation was enforced between the court and the rakyat, the formal and colloquial.
    I'm surprised that the distinction exists in Malay - it certainly doesn't exist in any language that I know, and I recall asking my teachers of ancient tongues at King's College whether there were different sorts of the pronoun "we/us" that included or excluded the person to whom it was addressed.
  • Quizzes

    IntellectualYou're An Intellectual!
    You can always be found reading or on the computer. People always come to you when they need information. You don't really care about love at this point, your only goal is to improve your mind. After all, knowledge is power!
    What Type Of Anime Character Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Blues are some of the most loving, nurturing and supportive personalities. They live from their heart and emotions. Their purpose for being on the planet is to give love, to teach love and to learn that they are loved. Their priorities are love, relationships, and spirituality.
    What Is Your True Aura Colour?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    You are an

    Find out what kind of quiz-taker you are

    LustYou're Lust.
    Sex appeal is all you desire. You have a one track mind that's controlled by your hormones and your desires. Nothings to big a challenge. Especially when it involves "Gettin jiggy wit it".
    Which Of The 7 Deadly Sins Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Yeah, like that's a surprise. I suppose next to that comes Pride and Gluttony.

    Σάββατο, Μαΐου 22

    The Enclave Of Deranged Hamsters

    My buddy Glen has started a blog today - Happy Birthday to Glen's Blog! Welcome to blogland - may we see more of you in time to come!

    Two entries at the time of writing, and his first post is entitled "In The Beginning Was The Word", which is of course, the title of my blog. His second is about Troy. Not a bad start! (Yes, I know, I've managed to turn an announcement for his blog into yet another piece of shameless self-advertisement, but hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want, NYAH!)

    Oh, ladies, Glen's 22, tall, tanned, an absolute sweetie and CUTE! (Hey Glen, you owe me bigtime for that...)

    Karaoke with the Korean Friendship Association

    Come on kids, sing along!

    If you were wondering how to join the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), you can find out all you need to know here.[links via North Korea Zone]

    Gosh, is that a scream or what? Even China doesn't do crude propaganda like that anymore.

    While we're at it:

    Kim Jong-Il announces "Smoking is Bad for Your Health"
    According to the BBC, North Korean dictator/fruitcake announced that smokers were one of the "three main fools of the 21st century," and has kicked off a campaign to reduce smoking in the impoverished communist nation, which stands at about 40%. I wonder if leaders of reclusive Stalinist prison-nations came in fourth on that list. Apparently, he is concerned that too many people were dying from cancer before they had the chance to die from starvation. Funny thing a brutal dictatorship will do to a person's time preference.

    It turns out that this comes because he recently quit smoking after a bout of illness a few months back. Maybe a few months of starvation in a prison cell would work wonders on his concern for the famine his people have been suffering under.

    Hilarious police encounter in Warsaw

    Side-splittingly funny account of a Polish expat who returned to Warsaw and got (very incompetently) mugged, then flagged down a vanload of completely bonkers cops who ran around the city, stopping trams and pointing at nuns, businessmen and other improbables and saying, "are these the kids who mugged you?" [link via Boing Boing]

    Hindus Conduct Service At Fátima Shrine Chapel

    link from Serge:
    Arriving in Fátima the pilgrims made their way to the Chapel of the Apparitions, where from the altar a Hindu priest led prayer sessions... The Hindu priest is then seen clothing the Rector of the Fátima Shrine and the bishop with a Hindu priestly shawl. “On the shoulders of the highest representatives of the Church in Fátima, the Hindu priest places a shawl with the inscriptions of the Bhaghavad Gita, one of the sacred books of Hinduism,” the reporter tells his viewers... The newscast finishes with scenes of the Hindu priest lighting a candle at the shrine while his followers dance outside the Chapel of the Apparitions chanting praises to their gods.
    Abomination. No other word is suitable.

    Now, there's a place for respecting other religions, but violating Christian sanctuaries is really too much. The Christian altar is to be used for no purpose other than worship of the God of the Christians, and the Bishop allowing himself to be clothed with a Hindu priestly shawl is appalling. As for the Hindus dancing ourside the Shrine while "chanting praises to their gods", I keep thinking "Baal has conquered the God of Israel". While in no wise do I advocate the beyond-insane fundamentalism of the Mahometans, I cannot imagine any Mullah allowing the same in a mosque anywhere in the world, and for that I respect them greatly.

    Mutual respect and co-operation (where mutually benficial) between religions is good, we must not fall into indifferentism, for "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto demons, and not to God." 1 Corinthians 10:20

    I'm sorry. The holy martyrs did not die rather than offer incense to pagan gods so that their successors could allow this in our churches. I'd like to burn those who allowed this abomination, but the waiting list of apostate clergy and laity is miles long. Instead, I'll content myself with writing a bit of imitation liturgical poetry. Those of you who are Orthodox or know the Byzantine rite may find this familiar in tone:

    O Apostate Priests, how ye have sold yourselves! Judas received thirty pieces of silver to betray the Son of Man - what was your recompense for bringing the abomination into the Holy of Holies? Judas bent his neck to betray Christ with a kiss, and the false-bishop of Fátima bends his neck to receive the demon-inspired writings. Idols of wood and gold have eyes which see not, ears which hear not and mouths which speak not, yet in laying them upon the altar of God, your wickedness cries out to Heaven for vengeance. The episcopal ring, the sign of fidelity, thou wearest, O false-Bishop, but instead thou hast raped God's bride, the Church. Elias laughed as the priests of Baal danced in vain, but ye smile and welcome the priests of darkness in to dance upon the holy ground of God. O faithless ones, O heartless traitors, ye have shewn yourselves servants of darkness! But by the prayers of the Saints and Martyrs faithful to thee,O Christ, confirm the rest of us in the faith.

    What ought to be done to that bishop? He ought to be defrocked - as should all the rest of the bishops of the world who've hushed up sexual scandals and misconduct in the church. In case you weren't aware, there actually IS a ritual for that: the "Degradation of a Bishop" (Degradatio ab ordine pontificali), which can be found in the Roman Pontifical (Pontificale Romanum) of Pope Benedict XIV.

    When he promulgated this ritual in 1862, Pope Benedict obviously felt that it was necessary. He envisioned the possibility that a bishop could disgrace himself so thoroughly, and abuse his office so blatantly, that the Holy See would have no choice but to remove him. Such a bishop would not be allowed to resign quietly "for reasons of health;" he would not be transferred to a titular see in the Sahara; he would not be "promoted" to a meaningless desk job at the Vatican. He would be stripped of his office and--the word is so beautifully expressive--"degraded."

    Since CWR first published this ritual, a dozen bishops have been forced to resign, in America and other countries, after accusations of gross sexual misconduct. We have every reason to believe that more such resignations will soon be forthcoming. Isn't it a shame that their resignations were accomplished through impersonal communication--by mail and by fax--rather than with a formal liturgical ceremony?


    If the degradandus (the person to be degraded) be an archbishop, the degrading prelate removes his pallium (the bishop's stole), saying:
      We deprive thee of the rights and privileges of the episcopal dignity, symbolized in this pallium, since thou hast abused them.
    Then, even if the degradandus be a mere bishop, the degrading prelate removes his mitre, saying:
      We strip thy head of this mitre, emblem of the episcopal dignity, since thou hast befouled it by thy ill government.
    Then one of the ministers brings the Book of the Gospel to the degradandus, which the degrading prelate takes from his hands, saying;
      Give us back the Gospel! Since thou hast spurned the grace of God and made thyself unworthy of the office of preaching, we rightly deprive you of this office.
    Then the degrading prelate removes the ring from the finger of the degradandus, saying:
      Rightly do we pull off thy ring, the sign of fidelity, since thou hast made bold to rape God's own bride, the Church.
    At this time one of the ministers brings the degradandus a crosier, which the degrading prelate takes from his hands, saying;
      Thy shepherd's staff we take from thee, that thou shalt be powerless henceforward to exercise that office of correction, which thou hast brought to disarray.
    Then the ministers take off the gloves of the degradandus, and the degrading prelate lightly scrapes thumbs and hands with a knife blade or a shard of glass, saying:
      We hereby deprive thee, to the extent of our powers, of the grace of spiritual blessing and of sacramental anointing, that thou shouldst forfeit the office of sanctifying and of blessing, and their effects.
    With the same knife blade or shard the degrading prelate lightly scrapes the head of the degradandus, saying:
      We utterly erase and eradicate the consecration, blessing and anointing bestowed upon thee, and we put thee out of the episcopal order, whence thou returnest unclothed.
    The ministers remove the shoes from the degradandus. Thus ends the ceremony.

    No doubt the last is to signify that the man can no longer follow in the footsteps of the Apostles. It is a humiliating ceremony and most necessary in these times when so many bishops have indeed abused their rights and privileges, disgraced their administration, made themselves unworthy of their preaching office, shamelessly raped God's very Own Bride, and mismanaged their pastoral office. If ever there was a time for the renewal of the Office of Degradation, it is now.

    from Boing Boing

    Hybrid Fruit Photoshopping

    iPod/Torture Mashups In NYC

    These Iraqi torture/iPod ad mashups are appearing around NYC.

    Women Plagued By 200 Orgasms A Day

    Greek Religion Redux

    from Rogue Classicism:

    We've read about this group before, but they're getting a pile of press coverage all of a sudden, especially in the southeast Asian press, for some reason:
    On a sweet Athenian spring evening with the sacred rock of the Acropolis bathed in the white light of a full moon, a chorus of voices join in prayer, chanting: “Hail Zeus!”

    The voices are not those of actors in an ancient tragedy or an Olympic ceremony, but a group of modern-day Athenians solemnly worshipping the Olympian Gods.

    Long before the Olympic Games became a rich commercial bonanza, they were among the most important religious festivals of the ancient Greeks, held in honour of the heavenly 12 of Mount Olympus. Now, as the Games return to their birthplace in August, a small group of Greeks are pressing for official acknowledgment of their pre-Christian roots.

    They have applied for formal religious recognition and sought court injunctions against the commercial exploitation of their religious symbols by organisers of Athens 2004. The trouble is, no-one is taking them seriously. In some cases they even face prosecution for participating in an illegal cult.

    While classical Greece is revered as the seat of Western civilisation, its gods, heroes and monsters are more commonly associated these days with the muscle-bound characters in American-made cartoons. Gathered on the balcony of a 21st-century Athens penthouse, adults stand with their eyes screwed shut, hands aloft and coloured ribbons in their hair as the moon is eclipsed.

    A plastic God Apollon looks down nobly from his black teak altar. On his right, Athena is wearing a warlike helmet, while an image of a bare-breasted Aphrodite recalls her status as the Goddess of love.

    Turquoise ribbon: The worshippers finish their full moon ceremony by linking arms to form a circle.

    Vasileos, a chemical engineer who preferred not to give his surname, is convinced that he and his fellow worshippers are the real Greeks and that Orthodox Christians are impostors. “Who were these early Christians? They were the great unwashed, they had no athletics, no culture and they only had one book – the bible.”

    Georgios, a distinguished lawyer with a turquoise ribbon in his hair to signify the circle of life, cannot see where the credibility problem lies. “The ancient Greeks invented logic, science, medicine and philosophy and built the Parthenon. Are you telling me they didn’t know what they were doing when it came to religion?” he asked.

    Panayiotis Marinis, a doctor and spiritual leader of the group, was born into a family of polytheists in the tiny village of Kithra on the island of Kefalonia. He said the tradition was still strong in many smaller communities. “My family were believers, a lot of people in our village were,” he said.

    He pointed to the huge crowds who have followed the Olympic torch since it was lit in a ceremony borrowed straight from the traditions of their religion. Marinis estimated there were as many as 100,000 followers of the 12 gods spread around Greece but they were no closer to getting state recognition.

    They have been waiting for two years for an answer to a petition for an official place of worship to the Greek ministry of education and religious affairs.
    Many in the group are unimpressed by Orthodox Christianity which they regard as an unwanted visitor to Greek shores. “Christianity was the first form of globalisation,” said Doretta, a writer. “To us a god is not a boss, he is a friend, and you can fall out with friends — look at Odysseus and Poseidon,” she added in reference to a famous spat between the Greek warrior and the God of the sea. [more from the Daily Times]
    Someone tell them Christ knocked their marble deities off the pedestals nearly two thousand years ago. As I mentioned in another post,

    Παρασκευή, Μαΐου 21

    Note to Self.

    Despite what you have been told at various times by assorted dusty tomes, the voices in your head, Homer, the penguins, and the reincarnation of Julius Caesar, it is probably not a good idea to start muttering dark imprecations (in dead languages) against certain people you are not fond of.

    It is almost assuredly a bad idea to attempt to turn these muttered imprecations into curse tablets.

    I can guarantee you that it is a very bad idea indeed to try to use your assorted dusty tomes as a set of instruction manuals to do so. Placing ancient curses always runs the risk of irritating the more, er, snarky cthonic deities. But they can usually be placated with a decent libation. And maybe a tapdance.

    Especially Egyptian ones. Don't even think of trying a spell in Egyptian because the last time you tried, you stumbled over the hieroglyphs, and we all know mispronouncing things in spells is a recipe for disaster. You know full well the Opening of the Mouth is the one and only Egyptian spell you can handle.

    Besides...where would you find a sheet of lead in Singapore at this time of night?


    I tend to doubt it's a good sign that you're even capable of formulating dark imprecations in other languages, let alone in languages that have been dead for thousands of years. It's even less of a good sign that you can do so without pausing in your reading for more than the moment or two it takes to locate a fresh source of caffeine.

    You might want to have this looked into before the nice young men in the clean white coats come for a visit.

    A Selection of Troy-Inspired Icons

    These are my favourites:

    [mostly from Stephane - thanks!]

    Here's a bit more bitching: At Hector's funeral - where the hell are the ceremonial mourners? Why hasn't Andromache cut her hair like a good widow?

    Links from Mirabilis.Ca

    Latin For Tourists In Rome
    From iol.co.za: Rome takes tourists back in time with Latin.
    Rome - When in Rome, do as the Romans do... or at least did.

    Tourists have long been drawn to the Colosseum and ruins of magnificent Roman temples in the heart of the Italian capital, but starting this week they can immerse themselves in ancient history and even pick up beginners' Latin.

    The regional government along with two historical societies is offering free Latin classes to tourists in a bid to lure even more of the sword-and-sandals loving crowd to Rome. (...)[full article]

    Canterbury Re-opens Mediaeval Tunnel
    From the BBC: Cathedral's medieval tunnel opens.
    A 15th Century tunnel at Canterbury Cathedral which allows pilgrims to visit the site of the murder of Thomas Becket has been reopened to the public.

    The tunnel, which was built around 1420, had been closed for over 40 years and used for storage.

    It was built to enable 15th Century pilgrims to visit the site without disturbing the cathedral's monks. [continue].
    The official Canterbury Cathedral website has more detail: Cathedral’s tunnel restored after 600 years.
    A tunnel in the heart of Canterbury Cathedral, built in the early 15th Century, has been re-opened to the public for the first time in over 40 years. Linking the South West Transept to the Martyrdom, and running under the Pulpitum steps that give access to the Cathedral Quire, the tunnel was built in about 1420 to allow pilgrims to visit the site of the murder of St Thomas Becket without disturbing monks performing their daily duties. (...)

    Four knights of King Henry II murdered St Thomas Becket in the North West Transept of the Cathedral by on the 29th December 1170. Many miracles were reported following his death and Canterbury became the one the chief European centres of pilgrimage for centuries until the Reformation.
    Now you'd like to know more about Thomas Becket, wouldn't you? From Eyewitness to History: The Murder of Thomas Becket, 1170.
    A sword's crushing blow extinguished the life of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, on a cold December evening as he struggled on the steps of his altar. The brutal event sent a tremor through Medieval Europe. [continue]

    New Window Opened On The Silk Road

    From the Taipei Times: New window opened on the Silk Road.

    The felt slipper in the glass case looks somewhat worn and dusty, but still serviceable. Hence the shock of its caption — which reveals that its owner once pounded the Silk Road, the great ancient trade route, more than 1,000 years ago.

    The Tibetan shoe, dating from the 8th or 9th century, is among a wealth of astonishingly well-preserved treasures from the Silk Road which have just gone on show at the British Library in central London.

    Running from modern-day Iran to the west through central Asia and into China, with branches into Tibet and South Asia, the Silk Road — a series of trading routes rather than a single highway — saw commodities such as fabrics, spices and precious stones carried along its length.

    More importantly for historians, with their passage came a transfer of ideas, technologies and beliefs.

    Much of the route, especially that lying in what is now far-western China, is arid desert, meaning that a huge amount of usually perishable materials such as papers and fabrics have survived the centuries, often buried in sands.

    The British Library's exhibition is largely drawn from items discovered by famous Hungarian-born explorer Marc Aurel Stein, who trekked along the Silk Road a number of times between 1900 and 1930. [continue]

    The exhibition mixes such treasures with many objects and documents giving a taste of ordinary people's lives along the great trade route,

    One letter, found in Sogdiana, in modern-day Uzbekistan, was written by an angry woman to a husband who had abandoned her, forcing the woman to work as a servant for a Chinese household.

    "I would rather be a dog's or a pig's wife than yours!" reads the curt missive, a domestic dispute which happened in the early 4th century, only to be rediscovered by Stein more than 1,500 years later.
    After reading this, I scurried over to the British Library website to see if the Silk Road exhibition has an online component. It does! Go take a look at the Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith pages. The site offers five illustrated themes:
    The development of the book and the invention of printing
    Languages and Scripts of the Eastern Silk Road
    Buddhas and bodhisattvas
    Play on the Silk Road
    The Silk Road Sky

    Those who have Shockwave installed can also view the Diamond Sutra in detail.

    Moutarde Violette

    From the New York Times: Mustard Isn't So Yellow Anymore.
    When Elie-Arnaud Denoix and his father, Louis, dusted off the family's recipe for moutarde violette — mustard mixed with grape must — in 1986, the only other person here in the Limousin region making this ancient preparation was "one very old woman who just made a little bit," Elie-Arnaud Denoix said. "We knew that when she died, that would be it for moutarde violette — unless we started making it again," he said.

    Given that the word mustard comes from mustum, Latin for grape must, the loss of what was once a standard type of mustard seemed, to Mr. Denoix, both ironic and somewhat poignant. Besides, he'd miss it... [continue]

    Extending The Living Room To The Street

    From the Global Ideas Bank: Extending the living room to the street.

    Inner city residents in Stavanger, Norway (population 108,000) have transformed a whole street into a permanent ‘social space’ by furnishing it with benches, tables, a pergola, potted plants, a notice-board, wiring for those who want to sit in the street with their computers and surf the internet and a flagpole (a flag is hoisted on the pole to celebrate residents' birthdays).

    It all started one day when Trond Sigvaldsen took his father's garden bench out in the street to give it a polish, taking with him his newspaper and a coffee flask. People started to gather around his bench for a chat. So, they thought, why not make the whole of Vikesdalsgata street into an open air living room?

    Having first knocked on doors to get the agreement of all the residents, they spent tedious months negotiating with local authorities and then more months furnishing their new dwelling space.

    The launch took place in the spring of 1999 and nowadays the street has become something of an attraction for surrounding neighbourhoods. The improvements are much appreciated by the elderly waiting for their buses and by school pupils in their lunch hours.
    Bonkers Book Collecting

    From The Telegraph: The bizarre world of bonkers book collecting.
    According to the organisers of this year's Antiquarian Book Fair at Olympia, west London, interest among collectors in what have become known as "bizarre books" - the quirkily titled, the inane of subject and the unfortunate of author - is rising fast.

    Oh I've a copy of Bizzare Books, which lists some of the gems in there:

    Criminal Life: Reminiscences of Forty-Two Years As A Police Officer. By Superintendent Bent.
    The Haunted House by Hugo First
    Skiving Off by Marcus Absent.
    Drummer Dick's Discharge.
    Play With Your Own Marbles.
    The Big Problem With Small Organs.
    Fine-Weather Dick.
    Scouts in Bondage.
    Correctly English in Hundred Days. ("This book is prepared for the Chinese young man who wishes to served for the foreign firm. It divided nearly 190 pages. It contains full of ordinary speak and write language.")

    Britain for Americans

    This one's great fun, and having spent most of the last 5 years in London, I know exactly what they're talking about. [link from Iconoblog]

    While you're at it, here's another link from Iconoblog:

    Learn to speak Danish
    - with audio examples. The instructions there say that one should be able to pick up the phrases (said at breakneck speed) after about 10-20 listenings. I suspect I'll take a lot more than that for most of the phrases, even though I managed to learn how to say "great party, huh?". In case you were wondering, it's "fed fest, hva?". Give it a try, then say together with me: "Are you SURE it's related to English???"

    Links from Lew Rockwell

    O Happy Addiction: John Laughland on very expensive shoes.
    No shoes last for ever, and every five years or so a pair can no longer be repaired. Then, it takes a while before I can muster the funds to replace them. But when I finally take the plunge and buy a new pair, I always justify the outlay with the simple — and, as far as I know, unanswerable — question: why make a virtue of a necessity like shoes, when you can make a luxury of them instead?
    I know the feeling, being a dandy myself...

    Nectar of the Olympians: Brad Edmonds on hot sauce.

    War Insanity:
    A Japanese view, from Mike Rogers.

    Ten Lessons of Colonial War: Relearning them in a hard school. Article by Eric Margolis.

    Noble Rot: Jonathan Yardley on A Bordeaux Wine Revolution by William Echikson. Ah, an article on my favourite drink in the world - sweet wines!


    Alfian's one of Singapore's young (he's my age, so I HAVE to think of him as young) writers, and even though I don't agree with his political and cultural views... the fact that we've been friends (on and off) since we were both 15 keeps us in a sort of respectful co-existence even though I don't like most of his work and consider him to be pretentious and overly angsty. But this time, Alfian's written a hilarious bit about the Nonok - and married it to the founding myths of Singapore, the malay prince Sang Nila Utama.

    Πέμπτη, Μαΐου 20

    Two Links from Serge:

    Forgotten Christians:

    Not all displaced Palestinians are Muslims!
    At the time of the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, it is estimated that the Christians of Palestine numbered some 350,000. Almost 20 percent of the total population at the time, they constituted a vibrant and ancient community; their forbears had listened to St. Peter in Jerusalem as he preached at the first Pentecost. Yet Zionist doctrine held that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land.” Of the 750,000 Palestinians that were forced from their homes in 1948, some 50,000 were Christians—7 percent of the total number of refugees and 35 percent of the total number of Christians living in Palestine at the time.

    In the process of “Judaizing” Palestine, numerous convents, hospices, seminaries, and churches were either destroyed or cleared of their Christian owners and custodians. In one of the most spectacular attacks on a Christian target, on May 17, 1948, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate was shelled with about 100 mortar rounds—launched by Zionist forces from the already occupied monastery of the Benedictine Fathers on Mount Zion. The bombardment also damaged St. Jacob’s Convent, the Archangel’s Convent, and their appended churches, their two elementary and seminary schools, as well as their libraries, killing eight people and wounding 120.
    Following the incremental atrophy of leftist ideals, the Islamists are seen as the only ones who are willing and able to fight the occupation. The Lebanese Hezbollah, widely seen as a nonsectarian organization that is able to cooperate with people of all faiths, is particularly admired both among the refugees in Lebanon as well as those who remain in Palestine. “We have received far more support and comfort from the Hezbollah in Lebanon than from our fellow Christians in the West,” remarked one Christian Palestinian refugee in Damascus. “I want to know, why don’t the Christians in the West do anything to help us? Are the teachings of Jesus nothing but empty slogans to them?”

    This is a justified and important question, but the answer is not straightforward. The Catholic Church has, in fact, long argued for an end to the Israeli occupation and for improvement of the Palestinians’ situation. The leaders of the Eastern Orthodox churches have taken similar, often more strongly worded positions.
    Christians find themselves under the hammer of the Israeli occupation to no less an extent than Muslims, yet America—supposedly a Christian country—stands idly by because its most politically influential Christians have decided that Palestinian Christians are acceptable collateral damage in their apocalyptic quest. “To be a Christian from the land of Christ is an honor,” says Abbas, a Palestinian Christian whose family lived in Jerusalem for many generations until the purge of 1948. “To be expelled from that land is an injury, and these Zionist Christians in America add insult.”

    Abbas is one of the handful of Palestinian Christians that could be described as Evangelical, belonging to a group that appears to be distantly related to the Plymouth Brethren. Cherishing the role of devil’s advocate, I had to ask him, “Is the State of Israel not in fact the fulfillment of God’s promise and a necessary step in the second coming of Christ?” Abbas looked at me briefly and laughed. “You’re kidding, right? You know what they do to our people and our land. If I thought that was part of God’s plan, I’d be an atheist in a second.”

    Please Me, O Lord: S.M. Hutchens on the roots of romantic worship. If you're an Evangelical Christian, please read this - I'd like your thoughts on it. If you're any other sort of Christian, this may help give form to those nagging doubts you've had about Evangelical worship which you may not have been hitherto able to articulate. Those of us who live in Singapore will know of the spectacle of a self-proclaimed evangelical "pastor" hopping around the stage during what she calls 'services' and acting more like a temple prostitute than a cleric of Christ.

    It is said that in the old days, Chinese civil servants would avoid certain places at different points in their lives:

    When you are young, avoid Szechwan - the food is spicy and makes you crazy.
    When you are young, avoid Shanghai and Keangsoo (Jiangsu) - the girls are pretty, and you will never leave.
    When you are old, avoid Canton - the food is good and the weather warm, you will never want to return north.

    Just goes to show that the south has it far better than the barbaric north, and they knew it even back then!

    Quizzes from The Philosopher's Magazine

    Very interesting and thought-provoking. Those of you who enjoy thinking about life, reality, morality and suchlike will have a ball with these. {link from Old Oligarch)


    what decade does your personality live in?
    quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd

    Ouch. But then perhaps I'm like God... I'm above and beyond time! Mua ha ha ha!

    You are a Sylph!
    The sylphs are the air spirits. Their element has the highest vibratory rate of the four (beside earth, fire, water). They live hundreds of years, often reaching one thousand and never seeming to get old. They are said to live on the tops of mountains. The leader of the sylphs is a being called Paralda who is said to dwell on the highest mountain of Earth.

    Sylphs often assume human form but only for short periods of time. The vary in size and can be as large as a human. They are volatile and changeable. The winds are their particular vehicle. The work through the gases and ethers of the Earth and are kindly toward humans. Slyphs are usually seen with wings, looking like cherubs or fairies. Because of their connection to air, which is associated with the mental aspect, one of their functions is to help humans receive inspiration. The sylphs are drawn to those who use their minds, particularly those in creative arts.

    Which Type Of Faery Folk Are You?

    Moral Sense

    "I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
    Ettiene De Grellet

    What Motivates You?