Πέμπτη, Μαρτίου 31

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog as she sat, contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a verdant meadow near her castle.

The frog hopped into the princess' lap and said: 'Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am and then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in your castle with my mother, where you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so.'

That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sautéed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce she chuckled and thought to herself: 'I don't freakin' think so.'



You scored as Musical/Rhythmic. You are sensitive to sounds in your environment, enjoy music and prefer listening to music when you study or read. You learn best through melody and music. People like you include singers, conductors, composers, and others who appreciate the various elements of music.

Musical/Rhythmic

100%

Interpersonal

96%

Intrapersonal

96%

Verbal/Linguistic

96%

Bodily/Kinesthetic

68%

Visual/Spatial

61%

Logical/Mathematical

21%


The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with QuizFarm.com

Τετάρτη, Μαρτίου 30

A Truly Awful Thing

This has to be the most awful thing I've seen today:

Terri Schiavo's Blog.

Appalling.

A bit of Chinese wisdom

Over a year ago, I blogged a bit of Chinese Wisdom. Here I'm blogging it again because I didn't know how to type in Traditional Chinese back then, and had to use the horrible Simplified Characters. Here it is again:

天下有二難登天難求人更難,
人間有二苦黄蓮苦貧窮更苦,
天下有二險江湖險人心更險,
人間有二薄春冰薄人情更薄;
知其難守其苦測其險忍其薄,
可以处世矣.



Translation:

Under heaven are two difficult things: to ascend the sky is difficult, to beg people even more so.
In the human realm are two bitter things: Huanglian(1) is bitter, poverty even more so.
Under heaven are two dangerous things: Jianghu(2) is dangerous, human hearts even more so.
In the human realm are two thin/fragile/false things: spring ice thin/fragile/false, humanity/humankindness even more so.
Know these difficulties, bear these bitternesses, foresee these dangers and bearing these falsenesses,
Only then can you do great things.

(1) Huanglian is a sort of medicinal herb, extremely bitter.
(2) Jianghu is the world of itinerant martial artists who go about brawling. it's a bit like the underworld.

This came from a piece of calligraphy which hangs at home - it's cynical, but true. The sooner these lessons are learned, the better.

Τρίτη, Μαρτίου 29

Misha & the search for the Perfect Jurisdiction

Warning - religion geek post ahead! If you're not at all interested in religion, specificially Christianity, you may skip this post

Misha (diminutive of Mikhail/Michael), my Bielorussian friend who was a seminarian at the ROCOR seminary at Jordanville, New York, after leaving ROCOR in the belief that it had compromised itself and was on the road to perdition...has now found more problems.

His Dukhovnik(Spiritual Father), a Priest-Monk, has decided to leave the monastic life to get married. Naturally Misha is highly disturbed. The priest-monk, having made vows of celibacy for life and being ordained a priest... cannot marry and remain a priest. He doesn't think leaving the monastic life and getting married is tantamount to giving up the faith, but many (Misha included) think so. Misha's now on the lookout for a new Spiritual Father.

Problem is, Misha will have nothing to do with New Calendarists. Graceless and all. He won't even step foot inside a New Calendar church. He now goes to St Markella's Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in Astoria, NYC. One may well ask which jurisdiction that belongs to. Apparently it's under Metropolitan Pavlos of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Church of America. Ai yai yai. Anytime I see the words true or genuine in a jurisdiction's name, I smell trouble. Misha is obviously still searching for the 'most Orthodox/correct' jurisdiction. Good luck, Misha, and God be with you.

One thing I've realised is that there is no such thing as a perfect jurisdiction on earth. Not the Catholics, not the Orthodox, not the High Anglicans. Each jurisdiction has its own problems, and learning to accept these, I find, is important, and a pre-requisite for spiritual growth. I've accepted that being Greco-Catholic, otherwise known as Orthodox-in-communion-with-Rome, has its own set of problems, and that I have to learn to live with them and perhaps try to fix them from within. The alternative is to continually jump jurisdictions in search of the most hardline/hardcore/rigorist positions. I know someone who hangs around the Net forums which discuss Orthodox, and he's been flip-flopping from Latin Traditionalist to God-Knows-Which-Old-Calendarist-Jurisdiction Orthodox with such alarming frequency that the running joke goes along the lines of 'if it's Tuesday, he's with the True Orthodox Church of Greece'. Which also is the saddest thing - one who constantly jumps jurisdictions because one's current jurisdiction doesn't believe (or isn't hardline enough about it) that those outside that jurisdiction are in complete woeful error and devoid of God's grace, isn't going to grow any spiritual roots. This flip-flop fellow I mentioned is the sort of chap who gives rise to jokes about being a member of the 'jurisdiction-of-the-month club'.

This sort of behaviour isn't confined to the Orthodox and Byzantines - one sees it in the Roman Traditionalists too. Those of us who've ever been Latin Trads or have contact with them, will know of those who went from the Novus Ordo to the SSPX, and then to the SSPV, and then end up under some Antipope, or sedevacantist or feenyite. One starts moving in ever-smaller circles with each jurisdictional jump, to the point where one is like the monk on Mt Athos who is only in communion with less than ten people, each of whose Orthodoxy has been personally verified to be in line with his views. Those of us who've been in contact with rabid Traditionalists will know that the idea of a monk on Mt Athos being only in communion with, say, 4 other people on earth, is not impossible.

We may be able to say for sure where God and His grace is, but can anyone really say where God and His grace is absent? We play a dangerous game when we start placing limits on the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit blows where It will. Even more dangerous is when we declare anyone or any jurisdiction/church to be beyond salvation, for if the God we believe in is defined as Love and Mercy (among other things), who are we to say whom God cannot save? Here I have in mind the nutty Evangelical attitude of 'all Catholics are going to Hell' and the Feenyite attitude of 'those not baptised into the Roman Church are cannot be saved' - odd how for two very different religious groups, the nett effect is the same. I tell the same thing to the rabid Protestant fundie, to the Feenyite/Sedevacantist Romans, and to the Traditionalist Orthodox - God is beyond jurisdiction, and Christ is bigger than all of us added together.

Some of the holiest clergy and people I've known have been in the Conciliar RC Church, or so-called 'canonical' Orthodox jurisdictions, or even (SHOCK! HORROR!) Anglicans or Protestants. These people have come to accept the flaws of their jurisdictions as part of the fallen nature of man, and believe that these flaws are not necessarily obstacles to acheiving personal holiness and communing with God. They also believe in staying and making sure the jurisdiction doesn't fall any further - after all, if all the really holy and knowledgeable people in any church ran away and founded their own Church-of-the-Pure-and-Holy, where would that leave the rest of us miserable sinners? Who'd help us along and help fight the forces of secularism and modernism?

Seek first holiness - the essence of holiness (not that I'm in any real position to talk about holiness) is so subtle and fine, that in amidst the hubbub of nitpicking over jurisdictional perfection, rubrical purity and suchlike, one may miss those two essentials - love of God and love of one's fellow man.

Personal holiness is a glorious tapestry, a beautiful pattern stiched by the needle of the Holy Spirit with the finely-spun silken thread of communion with God. However, this requires the backing of the canvas, the warp and weft (the crosswise threads) being the love of God and fellow man. If the warp and the weft are flawed then the tapestry cannot be made, and the most elaborate tools (liturgical detail/rigour of dogma) are but useless.

A powerful example was given by Mother Maria Skobtsova, a Russian Orthodox nun, who was taken from Paris where she had been helping Jews and eventually died in the Nazi women's camp at Ravensbruck in 1945. She left behind a written statement which read,
'At the Last Judgement, I will not be asked whether I satisfactorily practiced asceticism, or how many bows I have made before the divine altar. I will be asked whether I fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and prisoner in his jail. That is all that will be asked.'
Wow. Let none be surprised to hear she was declared a Saint of the Orthodox Church, but let us all follow her example.

Uniquely Singapore?

Fellow pedant and grammaticus (σχολαστικος even) Re-minisce has pointed out the stupidity of the authorities in their new catchphrase for promoting tourism to Singapore, and his post is well worth quoting in its entirety:
Okay someone explain this one to me.

Here we have the Speak Good English movement in full swing, proudly plastered across buses the country over (technically, it ought to be the Speaking English Well movement innit? But I shan't nitpick... for once...)...

... and yet we have, in large letters all over EVERYTHING else from a yacht to an entier street, the inspiring phrase, "Uniquely Singapore."

It has a certain ring to it (much akin to the sound one gets when you sustain a severe head injury from blunt trauma) no?

But... that's like saying Jealously Sheep. Or Drunkenly Goat. The point being that you can't put a noun after an adverb... at the very least make it an adjective.

Like Uniquely Singaporean.

Or Unique Singapore. That works too.
YOU GO, GIRLFRIEND!

Two Bits of Religious Humour (or possibly Two-Bit Religious Humour...)

Overheard the other day at a church:

Priest (giving Holy Communion): 'Body of Christ'.

Communicant: 'Thank you!'

If you have to ask why that's funny, it won't be funny when I tell you...

Meanwhile Andrij found the following link - The Orthodox are Coming! Absolute nonsense, because the Orthodox haven't been able to unite and agree among themselves for the last thousand years, and joining the E.U. isn't going to mean all of the Orthodox will speak with a united voice and have any political clout. Ha.

Κυριακή, Μαρτίου 27

Miscellaneous Stuff seen in Chinatown

First of all, a blessed Easter to all those who celebrate it today! I'll get my Easter in 4 weeks' time - today is the Feast of St Gregory Palamas in our Orthodox calendars.

I've been taking pictures of churches, as I said I would, but am having trouble uploading the pictures into the computer from my camera... patience...

Took a walk through Chinatown yesterday afternoon after having a cup of tea with Leentje, who was passing through London on her way back to Belgium for a short vacation. I swear, I'm hearing more and more Mandarin there each time. They weren't kidding when they said there are more and more Northern Chinese in Britain... even thee restaurants are serving more northern dishes.

There's one corner diner that used to serve Bubble Tea back when it was fashionable. It now has a few handwritten signs in its windows - 正宗北京餃子 - 'Authentic Peking Dumplings'. Very northern. It even has a girl behind glass, wearing a white lab-coat (like all cooks in China), making dumplings as one watches.

The Extended Version of Hero is out in London, available in those little shops in Chinatown which cater to the Chinese community - it's £25. OUCH. On the aside, Umizaru is also available here - for £12. It's a Malaysian edition (which means I can get it in Malaysia much cheaper)... with the odd option of a Cantonese (not Mandarin!?) dub.

Then there was Tokyo Diner, with this curious bit of information in its window:
No Tipping! Tipping is not part of the culture in Japan. Paying extra for service is a foreign concept. Since Tokyo DIner first opened in 1992, tips have never been expected or accepted. Any money which is mistakenly left on the table goes to the St Martin-in-the-Fields unit for the homeless.
Now how about that?

Meanwhile, in other news, I've been invited to a Jewish Passover dinner at my friend Daniel Hadas' place. Admittedly, his family is RC, but of purely Jewish descent, so I guess it still counts! More later, have to run... I'll be late for dinner...

Πέμπτη, Μαρτίου 24

Coming Soon

Soundtrack: La Pothoüin by Duphly, played by Davitt Moroney.

Now that the Lent Term is over and I have a month's vacation - I have two blog ideas.

The first - an occasional series on Unusual Saints , prompted by Fr Jim Tucker's notice of my post on Orthodoxy Vespers in which I mentioned St Constantine XII (or XI as some number it) the Ethnomartyr, a Saint of the Orthodox Church, died in communion with Rome and received his last communion from Cardinal Isidore of Kiev. I hadn't realised most Western Catholics weren't aware that the Last Emperor of the Romans died in communion with Rome, and that he is a Saint of the Orthodox Church. Most Orthodox, on the other hand, are unaware that he never repudiated his union with Rome.

Basically this will be a series in which I will point out (with varying amounts of scholarship) that it is not necessary to be Orthodox to be a Saint of the Orthodox Church, that it is not necessary to be a Catholic to be a Saint of the Catholic Church, and that both Churches have Saints on their calendars which weren't even Christian (or better yet, never existed). Heh.

The other idea is that I've always wanted to visit all the various churches of the City of London - the old mediaeval ones, the Wren churches... et caetera. Since I have my digital camera with me, I thought I might as well take pictures and blog about them.

Mind you, this being Western Holy Week, I'll be attending various services here and there, so pictures from those will be forthcoming too.

Things Japanese

Soundtrack: Free Love (Deep Dish Bootleg remix) by Depeche Mode.

On Monday evening, my housemate Ben had his friend Tak from the Architects' Association over for dinner. Tak's Japanese, and a sterling fellow. René's birthday had just passed on Saturday, so he opened up a bottle of bubbly and we had cake. Conversation went on bubbling like the champagne till the conversation went to World War II. Tak expressed the opinion that the Nanking Massacre was greatly exaggerated by the Chinese. The room suddenly froze.

Now, for those who aren't aware of the event, here's an extract from a website:
In 1928, the Chinese Nationalist Government moved the capital of China from Peking (Beijing) to Nanking. The city normally held about 250,000 people, but by the mid-1930s its population had swollen to more than 1 million. Many of them were refugees, fleeing from the Japanese armies which had invaded China. On November 11, 1937, after securing control of Shanghai, the Japanese army advanced towards Nanking from different directions. In early December, the Japanese troops were already in the outskirts of Nanking.

On December 9, the Japanese troops launched a massive attack upon the city. On the 12th, the defending Chinese troops decided to retreat to the other side of the Yangtze River (Yangzi Jiang). On December 13, the 6th and 16th Divisions of the Japanese Army entered the city?s Zhongshan and Pacific Gates. In the afternoon, two Japanese Navy fleets arrived. In the following six weeks, the occupying forces engaged in an orgy of looting and mass execution which came to be known as the Nanking Massacre. Most experts agree that at least 300,000 Chinese died, and 20,000 women were raped. Some estimate the numbers to be much higher - 340,000 and 80,000 respectively. The Japanese government, to this day, maintains that the death toll is greatly exaggerated, and some politicians have even claimed that the Massacre itself is a fabrication.
Numerous accounts of the events by foreigners exist, as do photographs sent home by Japanese soldiers proudly showing off their work. Particularly chilling is how a newspaper in Japan ran daily columns in which officers of the Japanese army kept a tally of the numbers of Chinese each of them had personally beheaded - a running competition of sorts.

Tak insisted that everything didn't really happen - that there were only about 3,000 people killed (including combatants). This of course, goes against the detailled 190-page report sent back to Berlin by the German Nazi Legation in Nanking. Even the Nazis were shocked by the brutality of the Japanese. Not to mention photographs sent home by proud soldiers. A gallery of photographs is available here (warning - not for the squeamish>Tak insisted that reparations were made and apologies issued. A complete untruth - Japan paid not a cent of reparations to China and has never issued an apology of any sort to any of the countries she occupied and terrorised during the 20th Century. I don't blame Tak - that's what he's been taught in school and he truly believes it. However, Japan's Government bears the full guilt of what has happened. Japanese schoolbooks refer to 'the Nanking incident' and insists that the Japanese takeover of Asia was done in order to free the people of Asia from 'White Domination'. Yeah, right. Japanese denial of her guilt is right up there with the Turkish denial of the Armenian & Syrian Holocaust at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Why doesn't more of the world know about what happened in Asia? After World War II, while the Germans were preparing for trial at Nuremberg, the U.S., represented by General Douglas MacArthur, brokered secret deals with the Japanese government. In exchange for their research on germ warfare and human biology, the murderous actions of the Japanese in China and elsewhere in the Pacific would be ignored. Even today, the germ-warfare research which the U.S. obtained, and which some believe may explain some POW illnesses, has not been declassified

I have family who suffered under the Japanese occupation of China and Southeast Asia - indeed, almost everyone in Asia does. I personally bear no ill-will against Japan, but she *MUST* face up to what she did and admit her guilt - otherwise the ghosts of history can never be laid to rest.

At a minimum, what the Asian community wants from the Japanese is a full and sincere apology to all of its victims from World War II. Reparations for victims might be a start. A guarantee that the next generation of Japanese schoolchildren will be taught the full extent of wartime atrocities committed by the Japanese. That's a good start. Right now, in Germany, it's against the law not to teach the Holocaust in public schools. Contrast this with Japan, which for decades has systematically covered Japanese war crimes up. They whitewashed it from their textbooks. During the rape of Nanking- just that incident alone- the number of deaths that resulted surpasses the death toll, the immediate death toll, of the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined. That's just one incident. The rape of Nanking was not a unique and isolated incident. There were so many similar atrocities that occurred all throughout China. So few people even know about them.

Going slightly off on a tangent, I'm a wee surprised at my response to what Tak said. I never thought I'd feel so strongly about that period in history (and indeed, about Chinese history in general) - Dad suggests it's because I'm a lot more Chinese than I think. Perhaps he's right - I don't think many of my peers in Singapore would feel so emotionally involved with these things.

Meanwhile, for a bit of something cheerier, do you recall those plastic/wax mock-ups of sushi and various other foods that one finds in the window fronts of Japanese Restaurants? Have a look at the USB SUSHI I found on the Old Oligarch's site:


Τετάρτη, Μαρτίου 23

baby jokes

How do you fit a hundred babies into a telephone booth? with a blender!

How do you get them out again? Nachos!

Laugh yourself silly

Ah yes, Protestantism, that great bulwark of intellectual rigour and intelligence.

Just look at http://www.reformation.org/inquisit.html and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Notice the following words:

For more information on the Exodus see the movie: The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.

Riiiiiiiight.

Τρίτη, Μαρτίου 22

Orthodoxy Vespers!

Every year, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (the first Sunday in Lent), all the Orthodox (except ROCOR) get together to have a multi-language vespers service, followed by a meal. The various groups take turns to host the event - the Russian (Moscow Patriarchate), the Antiochians, the Greeks and the Serbs. The Bulgarians and Romanians are always there, but their communities are too small to host the event.

This year, the event was hosted by the Antiochians at their Cathedral of St George at Redhill Street - conveniently some 15 minutes walk from where I live. So there I was on Sunday evening, singing with the choir of the Russian Cathedral. Present was a Metropolitan of the Greek Church, and Bishops Basil of Sergievo and Anatoly of Kerch, both of the Patriarchal Russians.

A003

This first picture shows the Antiochian Deacon at the Great Litany. The petitions were in Arabic, and the responses alternately in Greek, Arabic and Romanian. Since those three traditions all use the same music, merely in different languages, they could all sing together - the cantors of whichever tradition singing the words, the others following along on the Ison. They're on the far end of where I'm standing - all in black. On my side of the kliros/cleros there were the Russians and Serbs.

A005

Notice the great numbers!

A004

Clergy during the Great Entrance - Bishops Basil and Anatoly can be seen to the right, in the black veil. Then the Antiochian Deacon, the Russian (actually English) Deacon in purple, the priests of the various jurisdictions around the Greek Metropolitan at the throne, then the mass of chanters from the various Byzantine traditions.

Various languages were used - Arabic, Greek, Slavonic (by both the Serbs and Russians), English (only by the Russians), Romanian. A lovely experience!

A007

Bishop Basil preached a short sermon.

A008

After vespers was the communal pigout session - by oeconomy, this year we had food in the church (I'm not going to say anything)...

One thing marred the experience though. I was talking with a young couple (the girl was Greek) about the service, and as soon as it came out that I was a Byzantinist and a chanter, they got all excited and we got along really really well. Until the question 'so you are a convert then?' - to which I answered 'no, I'm not'. Then 'oh, you were born Orthodox' and I said 'no, I wasn't'. They said 'oh, are you Orthodox'. and I said 'in a manner of speaking, yes. I'm Greek Catholic, an Eastern Catholic'.

And then all hell broke loose.

'Oh! You believe in the Pope?'

Which really is a silly question. The man in Rome exists independent of whether I believe in him or not! It's not like believing in God, whom one cannot see, and whose existence cannot be proved by scientific methods. She didn't quite understand that. And she went on and on about how I had to unite myself to the true church. Which was truly offensive - if I'm not formally Orthodox and I'm at that sort of event, I count as a guest of sorts, and attacking my beliefs unprovoked was.... well, bad manners of the highest order. Honestly, I couldn't tell her that without spoiling the conversation, so I held my piece. If I ever see her again and she starts again, I *WILL* tell her off.

I stirred things a bit by pointing out that it is possible to be a saint of the Orthodox Church without being Orthodox - specifically St Constantine XII, the last Emperor of Byzantium and Ethnomartyr. After all, he signed the union with Rome and never repudiated it. Even worse, he received Communion the morning of his martyrdom from the hands of a Cardinal - and Orthodox are notably short on Cardinals.

'No, it cannot be' was her constant denial. I told her to look in the history books and read the chroniclers - she insisted I must be reading biased sources - she demanded to know which writers and chroniclers. Gee, is it my fault that I'm better-read in the history of her nation than she is?

And she went on and on about how since I was there for the Feast of Orthodoxy and all, it must be a sign from God that I should convert. Gee, lady, I'm there because I'm singing for the choir, what's your problem? Surely my religion is the business of none but myself?

I think the most offensive thing about it was that I only got this because I'm in communion with Rome. There was more beef in her than in the whole of Texas! Had I said I was an Anglican, they'd have welcomed me and been all over themselves to be nice to me. Grrr. The pox on her.

Avocado?

A009

Housemate Tatiana found this label on an Avocado the other day. Notice the little 'C' in a circle at the bottom of the sticker. A copyright symbol. Which, of course, begs the question - how on earth does one copyright an avocado?

In case you were wondering...

about what happened on my Saturday afternoon visit to hear an American Baptist preacher rant about Catholicism, my friend Peter Williams has very kindly blogged about it!

Δευτέρα, Μαρτίου 21

Book List!

As Don has asked, here's my list of books:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
Silence by Shusaku Endo.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Not a book character, but on a film character...

The last book you bought was...?
The Great Canon by Saint Andrew of Crete - it's Lent after all...

The last book you read was...?
Well, I just dipped into La Natura e i suoi Simboli - Piante, fiori e animali (Nature and her Symbols - Plants, Flowers and Animals) by Lucia Impelluso and Simboli e allegorie (Symbols and Allegories) by Matilde Battistini. These two are part of the Dizionario dell'Arte series, which explain (obviously) how to read symbols and allegories in paintings and help in their interpretation. They're in Italian (no English editions exist), alas, but simple Italian, so I can just about manage.

What are you currently reading?
The Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain. Terrible to be reading this during Lent, I know.

Five books you would take to a desert island...
1. All of P. G. Wodehouse
2. The Old Orthodox Prayerbook
3. The Bible (Greek, of course)
4. The Ladder by St John of the Ladder
5. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

What three people are you passing this stick on to and why?

To everyone who read this!

Varia

I had thought the Dialectizer was the most horrific of translation engines, but Dave over at Mixolydian Mode has brought my attention to Gizoogle. Yes, Dave... you're right - that one's far worse!

Meanwhile:

Willikins!!
Discworld: Which Ankh-Morpork City Watch Character are YOU?

brought to you by Quizilla

Recently I blogged about the campy Japanese fantasy flicks Onmyoji 1 and 2, but my friend Chen Seong has written a far better review here. Some extracts:
On to the topic of Onmyoji. It's very hard to describe, actually. It's kind of like a Japanese wu xia flick, but with magic. Okay, let's try again. It's kind of like a fantasy flick, like Merlin on HBO, but made by some Jap dude high on amphetamines. Hmm. Okay, one more time. It's like a Japanese gay drama, but with no sex, a lot of bad special effects, and dialogue that sounds like French and Saunders did a number on Romeo and Juliet and Ursula le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea
---
Aone is standing by the side, doing absolutely jack-shit. Well, she is, actually. She’s spewing lines like:

(to Seimei) “Hiromasa is very precious to you.” “He is a very good man.” “He is such a good man that just being near him, you can feel his goodness.”

(Uhm, ma’am, are you okay? And, giggle, I’m sure Seimei’s felt a lot more than the fella’s “goodness”. Unless that’s a cutesy name for the little Minamate no Hiromasa, if you get my drift, and I’m sure you do, because I make lousy jokes.)

(to Hiromasa) “You are a very beautiful soul.”

(to Seimei, after Hiromasa has rushed to the palace to defend the Mikado) “The two of you are like twin stars. If one of you is extinguished, the other will die too.”

(People gag, or go Aww. Astronomers flip in their graves.)
---
So Seimei rushes to the Palace too, where the Evil Prince/Doson has invoked Evil Spirits (all with facial hair, and fangs, and hilarious noises) to fight for him! Everyone dies except Hiromasa, who pouts and poses and fights Doson, but who is ultimately killed by an arrow that came out of Doson’s mouth.

Seimei weeps.

Just before dying, Hiromasa opens his eyes, smiles a wan smile and says:

“I never thought I’d see you shed tears, Seimei,” then expires.

Seimei looks to the side, resolute and stoic. Then he starts to weep and scream “I’ve only just met you, you can’t die! Without you I am nothing! We’ve only just met!”

It really is quite sweet, this part.

Doson exalts.

Seimei and Lady Aone realize that Secret Onmyoji magic can be used to exchange life force! And Lady Sad Mikadette Aone is willing to sacrifice her own life to bring back Hiromasa’s because, well, he’s hot and she’s not, plus, she’s so damned sad she’s already half dead anyway. So Seimei agrees and does some interpretive dance with some sparkly lights and lo and behold, Aone disappears and Hiromasa is back and twice as pouty and they fight with Doson and there’re some bad special effects and after a Very Long Time Doson dies.

Phew.

Oh, Doson only dies because the Lady Aone’s spirit comes forth from Hiromasa’s body (will the woman NOT go away? Argh! Even when she smiles she looks like she wants to kill herself! Oh my god – she’s the Japanese Julianne Moore!) and persuades the dead Prince’s spirit to come forth from Doson and they argue and cajole and then go to Paradise together.

And in the really sweet ending scene, Hiromasa says to Seimei, “I still remember you crying, you know.” And Seimei says, “I never cried.” And it’s really really funny and kind of sweet, in an old lovers kind of way.
Oh, and I'd definitely agree that Hideaki Ito is about five million different kinds of hot!

Κυριακή, Μαρτίου 20

Bourbon
Congratulations! You're 125 proof, with specific scores in beer (80) , wine (116), and liquor (86).

Screw all that namby-pamby chick stuff, you're going straight for the
bottle and a shot glass! It'll take more than a few shots of Wild
Turkey or 99 Bananas before you start seeing pink elephants. You know
how to handle your alcohol, and yourself at parties.



My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 37% on proof
You scored higher than 89% on beer index
You scored higher than 97% on wine index
You scored higher than 91% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid


(link from Dappled Things)

Σάββατο, Μαρτίου 19

HOT HOT HOT

The weather in London is now officially NUTS. Monday was winter... 8 deg. Wed was spring... 14 deg... today is Summer, 20 deg and SUNNY. BRIGHT and sunny. My room has a large south-facing window, and I've got bright sunshine streaming in all morning - it actually feels warm, and I'm on the verge of sweating. More here.

Crazy.

Apologies for not blogging these two weeks - this week's been the first week of Lent and I've been in church most nights. Well, I should have been anyway.

After last Sunday's Liturgy at Holy Family, I was expecting the Greeks to have their usual party at their cathedral - the last party before Lent. So Andrij and I make our way over to Bayswater - to find no party! So we ended up having Chinese. The place we found ourselves at had, in addition to the usual 'Chinese Restaurant' menu, another menu, entirely in Chinese, which offered 家常菜home-style cooking of various regions. and dishes that the average foreigner would not order. I thought, not bad, let's give this a try. And it turned out quite good!

燒茄子 - Roasted Aubergines in a sort of Sweetish-soy sauce
酸辣土豆絲 - stirfried potato shreds in vinegar and oil (very finely shredded, and blanched, very quickly fried so they retain their crunch)
紅燒三魰魚 - braised Salmon in another sweetish soy sauce.

We had Forgiveness Vespers at the MP Cathedral on Sunday night, after which I finished up the remains of the vodka in the house as well as an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream (every minute was agony, I assure you).

Monday was the first week of Lent, and I am told the Greek Embassy's Cultural department had a lunch of fasting food to celebrate the first day of Lent. With live music and dancing. Go figure. It could be worse - in Greece, I'm told the first day of Lent (Ash/Clean Monday) is a public holiday. Why is this worse? Because the Greeks, being who they are, seeing a public holiday in spring, usually hold a barbecue on this day. I sang for Great Compline with the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete at the MP Cathedral, quite a nice experience.

Tuesday I went fencing, as is my wont. Mirko was awfully sweet (as always). At drinks afterwards, Fabian had his arm around me the whole time, not that I'm complaining!

Wed I had a word with Mrs Charlotte Roueché, my tutor, who thinks that I've missed too many weeks of term to catch up, and so we've both agreed that I should suspend study this year and restart in September. Wed evening I was altarboy for the Presanctified Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. Afterwards, Andrij and I went to one of those Chinese Vegan Buffet places - £6 each, lots of mock meats, very satisfying.

Thursday evening I had dinner with Avi from fencing, as well as his friend Jenny, visiting from Yale. We popped into the Indian YMCA for dinner - £4.50 for a set, not bad at all.

Friday evening, Andrij and I popped into the Romanian Church along Fleet Street. On Fridays in Lent, these guys do the Anointing Service. And I don't mean the Litiya - I mean the full Unction service - 4 priests, 7 gospels and epistles and prayers. Andrij and I usually go up to the Kliros to join the singers when we're up there. The priest there, knowing full well Andrij and I are Greco-Catholics (we've specified UNIATE to him before), still happily comes round to anoint us. I'm not complaining. The Romanians must've gotten used to the sight of a yellow-skinned, slitty-eyed boy coming and joining in their chanters, heh. We then had dinner at the India Club along the Strand. The India Club is frequented mostly by Indian civil servants from the Indian High Commission across the road - so the standard of their food is very very high - it's real Indian cooking. Pity the place is rather, uh, run-down. They haven't changed anything since the 50s. Not the peeling wallpaper, not the linoleum floors, not the worn velour chair cushions... but the food was good and inexpensive.

Meanwhile, I'm off now - going to hear an American Baptist apologetics preacher talk about 'Roman Catholicism - the Whore of Babylon' at the Welsh Presbyterian Church this afternoon. It should be an absolute scream - I'm going with two other RCs for a laugh.

http://www.hawt.net/viewvideo.php?id=246

Τετάρτη, Μαρτίου 16

Taxing on the ears for late payers

Tax collectors in southern India have come up with an unusual - but highly effective - scheme to encourage slow payers to settle outstanding bills.

Ten-strong teams of wedding drummers are being paid to set up camp outside the homes of defaulting residents, with orders to continue playing until they pay up.

The scheme is being implemented by city officials in Hyderabad which is owed 50 million rupees (£625,000) in unpaid taxes.

"They make a damned big racket," said T S R Anjaneyulu, a municipal tax commissioner, "and even the neighbours approve because they get to see who hasn't paid up their bills. (full story here)

- link via Mirabilis

Τρίτη, Μαρτίου 15

A Great Line

from my friend Alex, who overheard the following exchange in Oxford...

An American tourist, pointing to some ancient edifice in Oxford, asked, 'Oh, that building is so pretty! Is it pre-war?'

To which the reply was, 'Madam, that building is pre-America.'

NICE ONE!

Κυριακή, Μαρτίου 13

I am Latin

France Modern (trois fleurs-de-lis)
You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the tongue of the ancient Romans is a real anachronism. With its profusion of different cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a language; it is a whole different way of thinking about things. You are very classy, meaning that you value the classics. You value old things, good things which have stood the test of time. You value things which have been proven worthy and valuable, even if no one else these days sees them that way. Your life is touched by a certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain fascination with the grotesque and the profane. Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad transplant. Your problem is that Latin has been obsolete for a long time.


What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Why am I not surprised?

(link via the Old Oligarch)

Πέμπτη, Μαρτίου 10

The Most Horrific of Language Translation Engines

THE DIALECTIZER!

(link via Vernon)

Τρίτη, Μαρτίου 1

Rice with Everything in China - Including Relics

BEIJING (Reuters) - Rice fills the bowls on many Chinese tables -- and also the cracks in its ancient buildings, and maybe even the Great Wall, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The legend that ancient Chinese craftsmen used glutinous rice porridge in the mortar while building ramparts has been verified," it said in a report seen on Monday.

Full story here.

(link from Andrij)

Eddie had a Little Lamb...

No, this post is not about a latest conquest... It's about dinner!

Dad and Mum have been moaning for months (some would say years) about how I cook for my friends and so on, but never cook for them. So today I decided to make them dinner:

  • Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Lemon & Garlic (yeah, I know, very basic)
  • Tomato Salad
  • Roasted Onions with Oregano and Butter
  • Spicy Roasted Pumpkin

    In case you wonder, we don't usually have dessert at home.

    Some of you will be wanting recipes, so here they are!

    Roast Leg of Lamb
    This one's too easy - you can find the recipe anywhere. Besides.. leg of lamb is basic...


    Tomato Salad
    The trick to good tomato salad is salt. Add salt to ANY tomatoes (yes, even the horrible orange-coloured Malaysian ones) and they immediately taste better. Start with something like 2 large tomatoes per person (or 4 small ones), and either cut into slices, or quarter them in the case of small ones. I'm assuming feeding 4 here, so that makes 8 large tomatoes or 16 small ones.

    with your tomatoes (sliced or quartered) in a large bowl, sprinkle the following over them:

    2 teaspoons of salt
    2 teaspoons of freshly grated black pepper
    2 cloves garlic (VERY FINELY CHOPPED)
    4 teaspoons of basil/parsley/oregano (any mix as desired)
    juice of half a lemon
    2 tablespoons olive oil

    I'll bet that makes one of the best tomato salads you'll ever have had. If one wishes, one can crumble some feta cheese into the mix. Adding some olives can work too, though I prefer to keep it simple - just tomatoes. After all, if you're adding feta and olives, one might as well add cucumbers to make a Greek Salad.

    Roasted Onions with Oregano and Butter
    Take 8 medium or 6 large red onions. Remove fist layer of skin. With a knife, cut bottom of core end off, giving flat base, make 2 cross-cuts in the top, cutting halfway down (don't cut into quarters). Push some salt and oregano (or thyme if you like) into the slit (get it right into the gaps) and a little knob of butter. Roast for about 30-40 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (I just added them during the last half hour of cooking my lamb). They're sweet and very tasty when roasted, great with a roast.

    Spicy Roasted Pumpkin
    Again, this is for 4-6 people.

    1 medium Butternut Pumpkin (I'm told they're called Butternut Squash in America)
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    2 teaspoons coriander seeds (omit if unavailable)
    2 teaspoons fennel seeds (omit if unavailable
    in place of the seeds above, I used 2 teaspoons dried basil and 2 teaspoons dried parsley
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    2 cloves garlic (VERY FINELY CHOPPED)
    2 teaspoons 上海辣漿油 Shanghai spicy sauce (omit if unavailable, or use Worcestershire sauce)
    1 teaspoon of hot chilli paste (a little goes a long way)

    Wash pumpkin, scrubbing skin. Cut in half, remove seeds. Cut pumpkin lengthways into quarters, then in halves, ending up with approximately 1" thick boat-shaped wedges. Cut these into 1" long pieces. Put into large mixing bowl

    Put all the herbs and spices and stuff into pestle and mortar and pound them up with the salt and pepper to make a paste. If no pestle and mortar is available, just mix them in a bowl... add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and moosh them about nicely. One done, scrape into the bowl of pumpkin pieces and toss thoroughly, making sure pumpkin pieces are well covered.

    Place pumpkin on a baking tray, skin side down. Roast them at 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes or until tender. The spicy flavour will cook into the pumpkin and the pumpkin will crisp slightly, the skin becoming caramelized and chewy.

    Useful to accompany a roast, or later for risotto or a filling for ravioli...