Fourth Wall

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gardening in the Rain

Last week in San Francisco was rainy, and it felt like it had been raining for about 600 years. Recent months have been particularly wet, which has produced a damp, green, overgrown feeling to my once spare garden. For example, the licorice plant, which was once just a few sgraggly branches of light green planted as a companion for a pot of pansies.

Or the fennel, which was transplanted from its original overcrowded pot in a backyard rescue operation. We weren't sure it would survive. (Patrick, you may remember this as the "darn you and your trowel" episode.*)

Gwyn says, "this rain thing sucks. I'm going inside to sleep by the heat register."

*Typed out, it sounds like we were having an argument. Actually, Patrick was trying to help uproot the fennell and ended up covered in dirt.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Winter Break, Week One: A Review

So, dad and I went and saw Casino Royale on Wednesday. We both enjoyed it, although Dad complained about the long and unrealistic poker scenes. I really liked Vesper, perhaps the smartest Bond woman ever, and enjoyed the many appearances of M (I love Judy Dench). I'm also glad that we've gotten over the era when people like Madonna were singing the theme songs. All of this said, I couldn't help but be struck, while watching the first chase through the construction site, by the unrealistic acrobatics and endurance displayed on the part of both the chaser and chase-ee. Then I thought: this chase scene could only be written by and for men who grew up playing Nintendo video games, specifically the Mario Bros. version. Think about it: all that jumping, the ricocheting off the walls, the moving platforms... you know it's true.

The Shady Dealer can't hold a candle to reality. (At this point, I find that I can't link to the U of C's Shady Dealer attempt-at-humor magazine, which recently ran the headline, "Rising Crude Oil Prices Force Local Synagogue To Shorten Hanukkah to Four Days." You'll just need to trust me. They did.) I offer you, in comparison, this article from the SF Chronicle: Jewish groups work to make Festival of Lights a little bit greener: Campaign promotes use of energy-efficient bulbs Here are some selections:

This Jewish response to global warming gives new meaning to the Festival of Lights, which lasts eight nights and celebrates an ancient triumph of energy conservation.

"We love the story of the miracle of oil," said Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, who will be encouraging the temple's 630 families to buy the curlicue-shaped fluorescent bulbs this season. "Our world is in desperate need for a miracle to make our oil last, but we are the ones to make it happen. And it needs to be about reducing our dependency on oil."

To be clear: I think that this program is cool, but wish that the article and quotes were a little less cheesy. If you want real cheese, though, try to come up with a Christian version ("We're called to be the Light of the World..."). Yeah. Ugh.

When we went to see Casino Royale, Dad and I went to the theatre in the new San Francisco Center-- a big, fancy, shopping mall. I like the new addition because it has more stores where I might actually want to shop. The food court is ritzy, but the best part is the rotundra. It's spectacular, especially with the wreaths and lights that are up right now. I felt like a tourist in my own home town.

Mordu ordered me to relax, so I spent some time browsing the Scary Go Round archives. Nick and Patrick agree with me-- this is a great comic. I do, however, find that if I read too much of it in one sitting, my speech patterns start mimicking those of the comic. Back in High School, when he was just starting, I tried to get into John Alison's previous comic, "Bobbins," but found it roughly drawn and not to my taste. He's come a long way.

Other linkages: I think some of you will enjoy The Affected Provincial's Almanack. Notable recent posts include his book tour in San Francisco and a post on the loss of the Chinese River Dolphin.

He reminds me, in many ways, of Richardson Wright, who I recommend to everyone but Patrick, who finds him annoying. My copy is currently lent out to everyone's favorite MorganStanley sell-out.

We are quote-rich these days, but I'm just going to amuse you (I hope) with some selections from a lengthly e-mail conversation I've been having with my friend and fellow medieval historian, Neil. I'm going out to New York for Anne's wedding, but I'm staying with Veronica in New Jersey for a few nights beforehand. This has inspired much plotting on the parts of my many friends who live in Jersey. Neil, for his part, writes,

I was going to suggest that garett, myself, you, possibly Veronica all get together for some
debauchery, and since this is NJ, it IS noteworthy that the D for Debauchery also is for Diner.

On being informed that Mordu was also "making noises" about everyone getting together, he says,

I remember hearing those noises, but they were low and indistinct. If you want to visualize what the noise I would be making would sound like, just picture the end of Braveheart, where William Wallace is screaming "FREEEEEDOOOOOMM" at the top of his lungs. Just replace "freedom" with "diner" and you've got it.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

"And he ran through the streets shouting 'Eureka!'

...which means, 'I'm naked!' - Amy DeC, age twelve-ish.

So, I flew back to San Francisco early this morning (so early that it feels like it was yesterday). I've got a bad cold, and I'd woken up at an ungodly hour, and I'd taken some Ny-Quil with the hope that it would help me sleep on the plane, so I wasn't much in the mood for anything at all. It was one of those ginormous United flights with the little television in the seat, so when they announced that one of the options for the in-flight movie would be "The DaVinci Code," I thought to myself, "well, I guess I'll be watching Animal Planet."

On reconsidering the situation, however, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to review the movie without giving Mr. Brown any of my papist custom-- which is to say, it was free, and it seemed unfair to make fun of something that I hadn't seen. Furthermore: opportunities for witty blogging! What was there to lose?

Well. I can now make fun of the first twenty minutes, because that's as far as I got. If you want more, I'd recommend (of course) Got Medieval's several articles thereon.

(Scene One)
Apparently, French men do not need to speak French, even amongst themselves. It is sufficient to speak with a French accent.

Stephan K. complained that Silas doesn't look sufficiently albino, but my complaint is that, (gathering information from my friendship with the aforementioned Stephan), I consider it highly unlikely that someone with albinism would be able to aim a gun with such accuracy.

(Scene Two)
a) Symbology?

b)I guess that once you're tenured at Harvard, you can give lectures at conference without new evidence or conclusions. Nobody will notice (because you're tenured at Harvard), and attractive yuppie women will flock to your booksignings (see Scene Four)

(Scene Three)
Opus Dei monk? Even if you go in for all of the sacred feminine hoo-ha, you should at least get your facts right. Opus Dei doesn't have monks, this is why people think they're weird. Continuing the film's goal of preventing the French language from ever being spoken on screen, he speaks conversational Latin, which for some reason, makes me giggle.

I skipped the self-flagellation part, so the only think I'll say about that is that I still think "The Crypto-Flagellants of Thuringia"** would be a great name for a band.

(Scene Four)
What are all of these people doing at an academic book-signing? Maybe it's because the academic looks just like Tom Hanks...

(Scene Five)
Is that a Bishop with a private jet?

(Scene Six)
Aha! French! But what is this? "It's a Fibonacci sequence!" Well, let's give the star cryptographer a cookie.

(Scene Seven)
Doesn't it break something like six hundred rules of protocol to have a woman working on the murder and desecration of her own grandfather? (N.B. These rules are also extremely flexible in such shows as "Law and Order," "CSI," and my own favorite, "The X-Files.")

...and that was when I couldn't stand it anymore. My apologies.

* I love Animal Planet, and the Food Network.
** Phrase from a Prof. Caroline Bynum lecture.


Friday, December 08, 2006

That's it. I want to go THERE.

From the University of Toronto CMS website:

"Summer studies are enhanced by the Centre's intermural softball team, the mighty Papal Bulls, a team whose ranks are always open to new players or fans and whose games are frequently followed by celebratory or consoling pub evenings" (emphasis mine).

First-year memories provided here
and (not to toot my own horn) here.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Latin Final Tomorrow. I mean, Today.

Professor Fulton (my BA advisor, for those of you keeping score at home) has attempted to assure me that there is no such thing as "Death by Sallust." I'm not so sure...

Anyway, I'm going to bed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two of Two

A: Sometimes I think that humor is a mechanism for surviving a fallen state.
A: Which is why the early Saints don't laugh.
G: hrmm
G: God kicked us out of Eden, but left us with humor?
G: That makes a lot of sense...

G: And apparently, I woke you up from your nap.
A: I wasn't actually napping...
G: Oh, you were being sarcastic. Was it a sarcasm nap?
A: There's no such thing as a sarcasm nap, Garett.
G: Well, not with you. It's a 24/7 kind of thing.