Friday, November 30, 2012

"Small World" - That's Why We Need to Protect It

I saw this article in the Korea Times yesterday, "Korea selected as council member for chemical weapons treaty" (November 28, 2012):
Korea has been re-elected to an executive council of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday. The convention, which took effect in 1997, is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. The convention is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an independent entity based in The Hague, Netherlands, and has 188 member states. During the Conference of the States Parties held there, Korea became one of 21 members of the executive council for the May 2013-May 2015 term, according to the ministry. The council plays a role in verifying the scrapping of chemical weapons, implementing international agreements and supervising the management of its secretariat, it added. "As the country having the world's sixth-largest chemical industry, Korea has served as a member of the executive council since the convention took effect, and continues to strive to play a key role in scrapping chemical weapons and urging non-member countries to join the move," the ministry said in a statement.
That reminded me of two things: first, that one of my childhood friends is head of the Industry Verification Branch at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is located in The Hague Area of the Netherlands; and second, that when my friend took the job a couple of years ago, she asked my then-eleven-year-old son to create some artwork on the danger of chemicals, so he did:

Chemical 1
En-Uk Sequoya Hwang

Chemical 2
En-Uk Sequoya Hwang

Chemical 3
En-Uk Sequoya Hwang

Chemical 4
En-Uk Sequoya Hwang

Chemical 5
En-Uk Sequoya Hwang

My friend liked the result and wrote these words in response:
I like them all! The face in the beaker (#1) is a bit scary. I think he has a future in flag design. They seem to be the colors and shapes of many countries' flags.

He got the idea pretty clearly, didn't he? He has . . . [a way] of making something simple represent a complex circumstance. Does he have description for the symbols? What are the oblong things that look like bar codes?
En-Uk never did explain himself . . . but artists don't have to. Anyway, I wrote an email to my friend yesterday, providing a link to the Korea Times article, and she wrote back:
Yes, this is my work. I just finished a big annual "Conference of States Parties" today. They just approve what the smaller "Executive Council" forwards to them from their 3-4 meetings per year. The EC is made up of 42 of the 188 member states and has a rotating representation, so Korea will function as one of the representatives of the Asian group. I see them occasionally.

Small world.
Yeah, it is a small world. That's why we need to protect it . . .

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

France Putting Up Barriers to Beer Bars?

Beer drinkers at Chez Prune in Paris
Photo by Stephane Remael
The New York Times

And against beer generally! Or so reports Aurélien Breeden for the New York Times in "Beer Lovers Fear an Unequal Tax Bite in Wine Country" (November 26, 2012):
Simon Thillou likes to think of La Cave à Bulles, his shop here devoted only to beer, as a place where beer lovers can gather to taste new brews and, of course, discuss the state of the world. But this was one controversy he never saw coming, and wishes he never had: a proposed 160 percent increase in the tax on beer.

"The increase is brutal; 160 percent is a lot," said Mr. Thillou, 36, who prides himself on promoting French microbreweries. On a barrel near the entrance, a pile of fliers that say "+160% taxes on beer: Who is going to pay the price?" shows what he thinks of the government's latest plan for raising revenue.
The intent isn't actually against beer, but rather to help the French government cover its growing deficit, a problem that many European countries need to solve as social welfare spending puts a strain on state budgets. But maybe the tax won't happen:
Complaints about the tax increase are coming not just from customers, but from brewers, the food industry generally and politicians, who know that some voters, at least, like French ales. They say the government's public health arguments are an excuse to single out beer, instead of spreading the pain across all alcoholic drinks.

"If we want to keep industries and economic sectors, we can't do any old thing," said Bernard Gérard, a center-right politician in the National Assembly, Parliament's lower house. "Increasing excise duties by 160 percent seems completely unreasonable to me."
I agree, and this politician has my vote -- or would if I could vote in France. I'll just have to raise a glass of brew to his success in thwarting this evil proposition, even if I have to fill the glass with some overpriced, highly taxed, poor Korean beer . . .

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good Beer in Korea?

Great Korean Food
Poor Korean Beer
Photo from Eyevine

The Economist has a nice, short article, "Fiery food, boring beer," asking why Korea's excellent cuisine has to be accompanied by such poor beer. The editors don't leave us hanging:
The problem for South Korean boozers is that their national market is a cramped duopoly. Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery (OB) have nearly 100% of it. Their beers are hard to tell apart; their prices, even harder. At five out of five shops visited by The Economist, their main brands all cost precisely 1,850 won ($1.70) per 330ml can.
The lack of competition ain't the worst of it, for the duopoly does have one big, unexpected 'competitor':
Some South Korean beers skimp on barley malt, using the likes of rice in its place. Others are full of corn. And despite the recent creation of Hite Dry Finish -- a step in the right direction -- brewing remains just about the only useful activity at which North Korea beats the South. The North's Taedonggang Beer, made with equipment imported from Britain, tastes surprisingly good.
Though the South ought to be ashamed to lose out to its archenemy, Taedonggang Beer is the sole North Korean product I'd like to try! But even better than the North's special beer are the brews being created in microbreweries down South, and Dan Vroon's pub is mentioned:
[A] handful of small brewers have risen to the challenge [of providing Korea with great beer]. One of them, Craftworks Brewing Company, is owned by a Canadian, Dan Vroon. Mr Vroon's pub in Seoul is packed every night.
The Taphouse Craftworks is wonderful watering hole, and for those who don't know about it or where it is, here's some information at the link.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two More Bottomless Bottle Illustrations by Terrance Lindall . . .

The first shows the lovely Hella, replete with warning:

Terrance must have had her dye her hair, for she's normally sporting hair of flaming red, but regardless of hair color, she's deadly seductive -- as the warning words reveal -- so let's see more of her to see why:

She looks sort of sweet-tempered . . . till you notice the blood dripping down, signifying her vampiric nature, but also likely to re-dye her hair hellish red, though she does have nice long legs . . .

Our naive hero had better watch out for her! Your wife is better for you, o naive one!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Bottle that Refused to Recycle . . .

In the scene above, Terrance Lindall depicts the moment that the wife of our naive hero discovers the bottle of Shoggoth's Old Peculiar still sitting on a shelf in the refrigerator, and she draws her husband from his easy chair as she hits the roof . . . metaphorically, of course, and only because she's worried about his excessive drinking:
"What! I thought you tossed this in the recycling!"


"This bottle!"

"What bottle?" I asked.

"Your Shoggoth's," she replied.

"That's with the recycling," I reminded.

"No," she informed me. "You forgot and stuck it back in the fridge."

"Impossible!" I exclaimed, astonished. I clambered from my chair and joined my wife at the refrigerator. There sat the bottle of Shoggoth's Old Peculiar. I could only stare. Was I going crazy? "That can't be here!" I finally cried.

"But there it is," my wife insisted.

My eyes didn't lie. I then looked at her, my turn to be suspicious. "You put it there, didn't you? To play a trick on me."

My wife gazed at me a long time, as though intent on reading my mind. "No trick," she finally said, her voice even.

I stared at her, then at the beer, in consternation. I took the bottle from the fridge and dropped it again in the bin. "There," I announced, "you see! You're a witness this time!"

"Good," she said. "Make sure it stays there." She turned to close the fridge door, but stopped and gasped.

"Now what?" I asked.

For a long moment, she said nothing, then turned to look at me, her eyes narrowing from dumbfounded surprise to hard suspicion. "Didn't you claim you’d gotten just one last bottle?"

"Claim?" I said, annoyed. "Spoken like a true-blue lawyer. But yes, just one. Why?"

"What's this, then?" she demanded, pointing into the refrigerator with her left hand.

I went to stand beside her, and stared in shock. Within the refrigerator was a Shoggoth's Old Peculiar. "This can't be," I muttered. My thoughts turned to the day before. Had I been so drunk as to bring along an extra Shoggoth's? Without noticing? I took the bottle out. "I don't remember this," I said, as much to myself as my wife.

I set the beer on the table and returned to the bin.

"What are you doing now?" my wife asked.

"Comparing." I rummaged in the bin.

"You want to taste both?"

"Not the flavor. The bottles, but I can't find it."

"The first bottle?"


"Men can never find anything," she complained, and came over to look. She looked long into the bin, saying nothing. Finally, she bent over and rummaged herself. "Odd," she said after some time, clearly baffled. "I can't find it either. I don't think it's here."

We looked at each other, then slowly turned to stare at the bottle sitting on the table. "No way," I said. We went to the table together. I picked the bottle up and inspected its label. "Looks the same."

"It is the same," said my wife, also looking quite carefully. "It's the very same bottle."
From that point on, the story grows a bit weird, but it's all in good, devilish fun and will be available in book form next spring, though the story version is available already in Carter Kaplan's anthology Emanations: Second Sight.

Stay tuned for further developments . . .

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Belated Happy Thanksgiving . . .

When one lives abroad, the holidays of the old country are often celebrated on off-dates, so I enjoyed my Thanksgiving yesterday with a fellow American and our families in his home up on a mountainside in Seoul.

The afternoon and evening were as relaxed as the scene in Terrance Lindall's illustration above, which will appear in my novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, sometime next year, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here's Lindall's humorous take on my story . . .

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Man Can Dream . . .

A friend sent me this image, and though I've seen it before, I got tickled again and had to laugh and post it.

I wonder what the story is behind this photo. Was it purely a gag? Or was it a drinking contest? Or was it simply two men enjoying two very large snifters of beer?

And where is this place? New York? Chicago? Milwaukee? Any readers know?

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Taking Sharia Seriously

"Shari'ah's Uphill Climb"
Photo from Andrea Kermann
Christianity Today

Christianity Today has an article by legal scholar John Witte, Jr., that actually takes sharia seriously as making claims already in the US, "Shari'ah's Uphill Climb" (November 20, 2012):
Some advocates [of Shari'ah] want separate Muslim arbitration tribunals that operate alongside the state; others want independent Shari'ah courts akin to those of Native American tribes . . . . [T]he bottom line is . . . to allow Muslim communities eventually to become more of a law unto themselves in the governance of marriage and family life. For the past decade, law journals, blogs, and conferences have been full of sophisticated papers pressing this case. Readers can get a good sampling of these arguments in two superb new edited volumes: Shari'a in the West (Oxford University Press) and Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context (Cambridge University Press).
I told you multiculturalism pointed this way! Witte tells us even more, noting the three paths that lead the way indicated:
The three most prominent arguments for the use of Shari'ah family norms and procedures in America (and the rest of the West) are based on religious freedom, political liberalism, and nondiscrimination.
These terms "religious freedom, political liberalism, and nondiscrimination" hint at the sharia advocates' arguments, which Witte spells out in greater detail, but he also offers rebuttals:
Though each argument seems plausible on the surface, they are all, to my mind, fundamentally flawed.
I won't attempt to summarize his more detailed analyses or rebuttals, for they are already brief and easily read at the website. Suffice it to say that he thinks sharia will not find easy acceptance in the US, or in the West, and he should know:
John Witte Jr. is Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Distinguished Professor, and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law.
I hope that he's right, and maybe with these credentials, he's believable . . .

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Illustrated Scene: The Bottomless Bottle of Beer

Entering the Beer Alcove
Terrance Lindall

Above, in Terrance Lindall's imaginative depiction of Mr. Em and the naive hero entering the beer cellar with a bottomless bottle of beer, you see Mr. Em pointing to the bottles. The catlike Behemoth and the 'cleric' Azazello stand behind Mr. Em, waiting. Here's the passage to which this generally corresponds:
[Mr. Em] extended the torch into what seemed a nook, but a nook within what, I was unable to determine. We entered the small alcove, where Mr. Em located a hole in the wall at arm’s length above our heads and slipped the torch handle in. Apparently, it was designed for that. I then saw lining the walls of this small room hundreds, maybe thousands of bottles, each one corked, like wine.

"Wines?" I guessed.

"Why, no," Mr. Em softly murmured, as though reluctant to contradict. "These are corked beers."

I peered more closely in the flickering torch light. What he said was true. Not only were the bottles stubbier than most wine bottles, their labels identified them as beers in the broadest sense: ales, wheats, porters, stouts, whatever sort one might care to tally.
As you see, Terrance has artistic freedom to render as he wishes, which will make the book issue of my novella more interesting for readers, I think.

I reckon we'll find out . . .

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lincoln's Providential Role?

I thought that I was done with Lincoln until such time as I've seen the new film by Spielberg, but I read a review by Christopher Sullivan, "Abraham Lincoln's Faith, 'Battle With God,' Explored In New Book" (Huffington Post, December 12, 2012), which has some interesting details about a new book by Stephen Mansfield, the one depicted above:
Textbooks often freeze and simplify Lincoln's religion, making him merely a "skeptic, ever religiously uncertain," Mansfield writes in "Lincoln's Battle with God." "The truth is that Lincoln was, in fact, a religious pilgrim" . . . . As we follow Lincoln's journey through life, it's a revelation to read how candid and forthcoming he could be about his state of mind and soul . . . . In his 20s, freed from the strict Calvinistic beliefs of his father and other youthful religious influences -- including the wild enthusiasms of revival meetings -- Lincoln for a time vehemently and publicly rejected the religious givens of contemporary America . . . . Lincoln became known for his hard line. But when he went so far as to write a "little book on Infidelity," attacking the divinity of Christ and the inspiration of the Bible, and then announced that he hoped to publish it, . . . . [a friend] "snatched it from Lincoln's hand" and burned the manuscript.
Reportedly, the friend didn't want to see Lincoln ruin a promising career, and perhaps he was right to react so, for Lincoln surely could not have become president with such a book to his name, and his views changed, anyway, as he grew older:
Two ministers whose writing he admired and whom he sought out personally shaped his thinking, and he continued to read and study the Bible, a habit learned from his mother. Though he never joined any church, he attended Sunday services of his wife's Presbyterian congregation in Washington -- and even a Tuesday evening prayer meeting, listening from the pastor's office so as not to be distracted . . . . He came to see the unrelenting carnage of the Civil War as God's judgment and punishment for slavery, as he says in his second inaugural shortly before his assassination.
My guess -- though I have little reason to imagine that I'm right -- is that Lincoln could not bear the moral weight of the Civil War upon his shoulders alone and thus returned, in part, to the Calvinist faith of his father, seeking meaning for his role in one of history's great tragic episodes of flawed justice by attributing its dire purposes to Providence, and he himself merely participating in a role for which he'd been born and shaped but had not chosen.

I wonder if I'm right . . .

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brett McCracken, Lincoln Review


Brett McCracken reviews the film Lincoln for Christianity Today (November 16, 2012), awarding it highest rating (four stars). Against the Lincoln revisionsts, McCracken agrees with Spielberg's view that slavery was the crucial issue:
[Lincoln] believes abolishing slavery is a necessary step to move the country forward in unity. But politics being the complicated game that it is, conviction alone won't accomplish the goal. A good leader also needs skill in forging alliances, making deals, and charismatically bargaining with the other side to give and take for the common good. In other words: political skill. And Lincoln had it in spades.
In other words, Lincoln knew that an America half-slave, half-free would ever be a house divided against itself and never stand, but he couldn't show his cards ahead of time. Like Obama, he believed in negotiation and compromise, but he was good at it, loved the process, whereas Obama isn't, and doesn't . . . unless he's learned from his first term's failures. Or learns from the film. I understand Obama arranged a private screening in the White House, with Spielberg and the actors present. Maybe he'll gain some insight from this:
One of the fascinating strengths of Lincoln is the way that it turns the nitty-gritty, inelegant work of politics into utterly compelling, even inspiring, drama. At a time when Americans are more cynical than ever about Congress and the partisan politics of no-compromise belligerence that threaten to pilot the nation over ominous "cliffs," a film like Lincoln is helpful. It reminds us that amazing things can emerge from democracy even in the most divided of times. The country was extremely divided in 1865, and the tone in Washington wasn't exactly civil (back then, politicians hurled insults like "you fatuous nincompoop!" at each other during House debates). And yet, with the guidance of Lincoln and the shrewd political maneuvering of his cabinet, enough votes were secured to get the amendment passed. Spielberg's film is a captivating document of history, yes; but it's also a reminder that working across party lines is not weak capitulation. On the contrary, it can birth revolutionary, healing change.
Or do the Republicans need to learn from the film? Probably both sides. Not that this will be easy. There are deep issues at stake, e.g., whether we want a European-style social welfare system or not, and either way, how we're going to handle demographic decline, a problem the whole world faces, and one that will likely create economic problems that ramify throughout society and the political system, something that I ought to blog about. But back to Lincoln:
As much as Lincoln is about political process, it is also (obviously) about the man himself: Honest Abe. The beauty of this film is that it maneuvers effortlessly between the legislative drama and the intimate moments where we get glimpses -- thanks to Day-Lewis' remarkable performance -- into the personality and character of Lincoln and his family. Much of the "iconic Lincoln" is on display here: the tall, lanky man with a scraggly beard and top hat; the unpolished frontier boy with log cabin roots (Lincoln puts his own wood logs in the fireplaces of the Oval Office). But as portrayed by Day-Lewis, he's also a natural born storyteller and jokester, an individualist who values quiet time alone and has strained relationships with members of his own family. He's a dignified man who is sober-minded and soft-spoken, but forceful and impassioned when he needs to be. Above all, he's a commanding presence; when he opens his mouth, people listen.
I wish I had that quality, to speak and be instantly listened to. My maternal grandfather had it, but I don't. One needs a good mind, a good voice, and a good memory, and Grandpa Perryman had all three. I have only one of the three . . . or I hope I have at least one.

I intend to see the film. Perhaps I'll pick up a few pointers on how to improve my speaking by watching Daniel Day-Lewis's commanding performance.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Mysi Diry of Prague . . .

Stunning Prague
Image by Ocean/Corbis

I visited Prague way back in 1992 to see my friend Victor Pollara -- whose mathematical algorithms have taken him God knows where -- back before Communism had entirely relinquished its stranglehold on the city's throat, though the Communists themselves were gone from power, still before the city had even started its recovery from half a century of repression, but I wish I could revisit the place now, if for nothing else, to experience the mystery of the "mysi diry (mouse holes), the little passageways that run between Old Town streets," or so writes Evan Rail in "My Hidden Prague" (New York Times, November 16, 2012), and he describes them in a way that helps me make better sense of the golem stories, of Kafka, and of the greater mystery of Prague:
If you see a gate or a doorway at a crook in the road like the two at the end of Michalska Street, check if it's unlocked. In all likelihood, you'll find a hidden pathway.

Many such paths offer wonderful views, as I discovered when I struggled to find something that seemed as of it would be impossible to miss: a new walking and biking trail in the Zizkov neighborhood, after hearing it described recently by Pitr, a neighborhood friend.

"It's very long, and fairly private," Pitr said. "But the interesting thing is that it's almost completely hidden. If you don't know exactly where it is, you will never find it."

I made the mistake of not taking Pitr completely at his word, and after fruitlessly searching the area for half an hour, I gave him a call. Armed with fresh instructions, I backtracked toward Hlavni Nadrazi, near the top of Wenceslas Square, then walked east up Seifertova Street.

Passing under a railway bridge, I saw an elderly couple walking an even older dachshund and followed their route up an embankment to what had once been a small railway branch line. Hemmed in by elder trees and lined in some sections with herb gardens, it had been paved the previous year, creating a path directly behind some of Zizkov's most beautiful 19th-century apartment buildings. The voyeuristic views onto each pavlac, or communal balcony, offer a clear sense of what life -- hanging laundry, chatting with neighbors -- on those balconies must have been like 50, 60 or 100 years ago.
Sounds like a cycle-full of fun, that secret bike path, and Evan Rail sounds like an interesting fellow to bike with . . . if his riding is anywhere near as good as his writing.

But what ever happened to Victor? He was a fellow Fulbright Scholar, and we had some great conversations. I wonder if his career turned out any more illustrious than my own.

Victor? You out there?

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pastor John Recalls REA Football . . .

Bro. John in Training

Above, we see my brother, Bro. John, in his younger days training for REA Football! Or maybe not . . . but there was REA Football in Salem, Arkansas, as John explains in describing Salem football before the school program started (the year after my graduation, in 1975):
"Before that, we always played football at the electric company, either on evenings or on Saturdays. It was the Rural Electric Association back then, and there was a grass field where the parking lot is now. We played from light pole to light pole. It was tackle football and there was not a pad on us. There were a lot of broken noses. We had guys with a lot of heart and not much sense." (Kyle Mooty, "Greyhounds' program has traveled from REA to perfection," Area Wide News, November 14, 2012)
I was one of those without much sense, given my flying tackles. I must have banged a few brain cells silly! As I told my old classmate Jay Nemec, who forwarded the article with the quote from my brother John:
I remember REA football. So does my body!
It really does: the knees, the shoulders, the ankles, maybe all the corporeal hinges . . .

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lincoln and Equality

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

When I was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany back in 1989-90, I read Euclid's Elements because I had time, and I tried to understand them, even resorting to straight-edge and compass to assist my effort, but the going proved rough, and in grinding my way through that particular text, Ptolemy's Almagest, and a modern textbook on astronomy, I eventually ran out of time, as well as grant money, and just focused on John's Gospel and Gnostic texts instead of trying to master all of classical antiquity, my ultimate aim.

I wasn't as smart as Lincoln.

As I know from my reading on the man, the self-educated Lincoln taught himself Euclid . . . and understood it with clarity. In Stephen Spielberg's recent film, Lincoln, the screenwriter Tony Kushner understands that Lincoln understood Euclid, and has him state:
Euclid's first common notion is this: Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. That's a rule of mathematical reasoning. It's true because it works, has done and always will do. In his book, Euclid says this is self-evident. You see, there it is, even in that 2,000-year-old book of mechanical law. It is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
Kushner, however, who put these words in Lincoln's mouth, didn't quite understand Euclid, for the Elements was not about mechanical law. It was about geometry, mathematical law. It also wasn't about that assertion in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." But none of that matters to inspired creative writing. Kushner can connect them to make a point, that white men were men, as black men were men, and both being equal to men were equal to each other.

I'd also have made the same, creative links using the word "equal" that Kushner made if I'd been writing the screenplay.

If I were as smart as Kushner . . .

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Shaima Alawadi and One Million Hijabs?

Kassim Alhimidi

A regular reader sent me this link as a follow-up to the murder of an Iraqi woman in San Diego, Shaima Alawadi, whom I blogged about last spring, my last entry noting that the police were no longer considering the killing a hate crime, supposedly motivated by hatred of Muslims, and evidence that she was filing for divorce before her death was raising suspicions in the minds of some about the husband, Kassim Alhimidi, who had left for Iraq to bury his wife. I didn't expect him to return, but here he is, arrested in America:
Eight months after begging the public for any information that could lead to finding his wife's killers, Kassim Alhimidi himself was arrested and charged with the homicide.

Police arrested Alhimidi, 48, of El Cajon, Calif., Thursday for the murder of his 32-year-old wife, Shaima Alawadi, according to ABC News affiliate KGO.

Alawadi's family called her death a hate crime after she was found beaten with a tire iron in her living room with a note calling her 'a terrorist.'

He is charged with first degree murder.

The death of the mother of five sent shockwaves through El Cajon, which is home to one of the nation's largest concentrations of Iraqi immigrants.

Shortly after the homicide, Alhimidi was in court making emotional pleas to his wife's 'killer' and begging for information.

This past March as his 15-year-old son Mohammed translated from Arabic, Alhimidi said: 'The main question we would like to ask is what are you getting out of this and why did you do it?'
Maybe he can answer that question now himself . . . if he's guilty. We have to keep in mind the American legal principle of "innocent until proven guilty." The article, however, "Husband of 'One Million Hijabs' victim arrested for beating her to death months after making emotional plea to find her 'racist' killer," appears in the Daily Mail (November 10, 2012), a British paper, and maybe British tabloids are not quite as committed to that principle, for the caption supplied with the photo above said:
Liar: Kassim Alhimidi himself was arrested and charged in his wife's death months after telling the press that it was a hate crime perpetrated by racists
Or perhaps the Daily Mail has some details not yet made public. If the paper is right, then I think we need one million hijabs doffed against honor killings . . .


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Prematurely Regretful?

By coincidence yesterday, I read two articles on regret, the first early in the morning on a 5:30 subway train, the second late in the evening at 8:30 on my sofa. But who cares for such concrete details? The sequence could just as well have been reversed, right? Actually, no, the two came to me in the better sequence. No regrets about that.

I first read Kim Seong-kon's "James Bond and older men's wisdom, knowledge" (Korea Herald, November 14, 2012, p. 15). Here's his photo, from the Korea Herald:

And here's his opening paragraph, which I found more fitting for me than for him:
As I grow older, I begin to look back upon my past with remorse and regret. During my lifetime, I must have done . . . a few good things . . . . Sadly, however, I . . . can only think of all the mistakes I have made, whether unwittingly or intentionally. Full of regrets, I often whisper to myself silently, "I shouldn't have done that. How could I have been such an imbecile?"
I seriously doubt that Professor Kim is an imbecile, for I've met him and he makes a good impression. Not that my judgment is unimpeachableable, given that I have so often been such an imbecile, much to my regret.

But I need not despair, for the second article, Erica Brown's "Time to get your regrets right" (International Herald Tribune, November 14, 2012, p. 9), offers advice . . . but first her photo, from the The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington:

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

According to Ms. Brown, regret grows as death nears:
In the course of research for a book on death and how to overcome fear of mortality, I spent years speaking to dying individuals and their families. The notion, famously attributed to Samuel Johnson, that nothing concentrates the mind like imminent death jumped off the page again and again as I conducted my research. Imminent death often occasions self-reflection and, with it, disappointment and remorse.
As I have so many regrets but am only 55, I must be prematurely regretful. Death could be fast approaching! How frightening! What to do? Her advice: Use index cards. How? By writing down some regrets:
Regret is an essential part of repentance in Jewish law, and, as a Jewish educator, I find myself thinking about regret each year before Yom Kippur. As part of my research into the subject this year, I handed out index cards to my students from age 18 to over 80, and asked them to list a small regret and a large regret.
That's the depressing part, especially since I've just written my regret: "I regret that death may be fast approaching." But not to despair, for one also writes down a way to transform one's regret into something positive:
I have saved my index cards. I asked the original holders of the cards to flip them over and write down one thing they could do to improve how they live. You can't eliminate a regret, but you can transform one. Imagining a way to fix the future was easier than most students thought and provided a better, more realistic life solution than invincibility. It offered a sliver of optimism. I am keeping the cards because they remind me that death may be around the corner.
I don't know how this advice about fixing the future applies to my mortal regret since death is precisely what might be lurking just around the corner. One of those big convex traffic mirrors for seeing ahead would be more useful! But perhaps I just have to deal with my regret like a man of classical antiquity. Write something classic and leave behind a great name. But for that, I'd need more index cards. I regret not having bought more, but there's a shop just around the corner . . .

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Terrance Lindall: The Church of the Apostates! - Enhanced

Descending (Further Enhanced)
The Church of the Apostates!
Terrance Lindall

My friend the artist Terrance Lindall, with whom I am working to create a 'partial' Gesamtkunstwerk, an illustrated Bottomless Bottle of Beer (later to be made into a drama, musical, major motion picture, and stupendous comic book), is still coloring The Church of the Apostates! and adding more details, so the process is taking longer than some of the other illustrations, as he notes:
Still not finished. For some reason taking longer than others.
I replied:
Probably due to some great idea slouching towards Bethlehem to be born . . .
While we wait for that new birth, we can compare the image above with the same image as it appeared a couple of days ago -- and play with the two like one of those spot-the-differences pair of nearly identical drawings we've all sweated over sometime:

Fascinating, to observe the creative process -- for me, anyway, and I hope for readers . . .

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid - "Don’t Blame the Taliban - Part III"

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid
A Brave Man, No Kidding

I've drawn attention to the Pakistani journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid and his criticisms of Islam twice before (here and here), and he has now published "Don't Blame the Taliban - Part III" (November 10, 2012) over at Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch. I should note that I read Spencer regularly but very critically because he has a tendency to shoot from the hip -- often accurately, I think, but sometimes off target -- and because he too often relies on snark that -- in my opinion -- mars his analysis. He wouldn't agree with me, of course, for he's defended his intentional snarkiness in response to criticism from others.

Be that as it may, I'd like to quote from Shahid's article, the third in his series taking Pakistani Muslim liberals to task for defending their moderate Islam as if it were the true Islam and not criticizing Islam itself, which according to Shahid is the Islam practiced by the Taliban. For instance, he cites the Qur'an 9:29 against the view that "Islam only prescribes 'defensive' Jihad":
"Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."
He then explains its context to clarify its application to offensive Jihad:
Verse 9:29, revealed during the preparation of Battle of Tabuk, kick started the three-pronged Muslim course of battle - 1. Invitation to accept Islam 2. Demand for the payment of Jizya and 3. Instigation of war. This tradition was carried forward throughout Islam's expansionist phase; wherein refusal to accept Islam or pay Jizya was considered reason enough to launch a "defensive" war against the infidels. This trend was continued by the first four caliphs of Islam and the leaders that followed en route to formulating a gargantuan Islamic empire. Again, if the "blessed companions" of the prophet misapprehended his and Allah's ostensible concept of a "defensive war" the skeptics of Islam can be forgiven for the "misunderstanding" as well. Or of course it could mean that the prophet, the caliphs, and leading Islamic scholars understood the concept of Jihad rather well but the present-day apologists want Quran's message to appear differently, since the original command doesn't fit in too nicely with the modern-day norms.
For Islam, in Shahid's view, a "defensive" jihad is what the rest of the world would call offensive! Is there then -- in Shahid's view -- no hope? Oh, he offers a glimmer:
Islam needs a massive revamp for it to become attuned with the present day, which should begin with not taking it [the Quran] literally as the word of a divine deity. One could then perceive the Sunnah as fitting for the political movement at the time, and mould the teachings to ensure their compatibility with the modern age. We would then have the ideology that the [liberal] Muslim apologists propagate, which although is quite palatable and tranquil, it is still light years away from the original Islamic scriptures and their teachings.
In short, drop the universal Muslim view of the Qur'an as Allah's direct revelation. Well, good luck with that . . .

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Terrance Lindall: The Church of the Apostates!

The Church of the Apostates!
Terrance Lindall

My artist friend Terrance Lindall is being guided by the muse these days, a rather wild, amusing muse, for he's currently working on wondrous illustrations, like the one above, which presses upon the boundaries of my story, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer:
Again, unfinished, But gives you the idea. As I am doing these [illustrations], ideas pop up, I sort of thought that the place below [the shop] was Satan's church. The motto being "Lead us into temptation," as opposed to the Lord's Prayer "Lead us NOT into temptation." Here Em initiates the Apostates, as with the Naif with BEER!

Probably overstepping the bounds of your story? Am I getting too wild for you Jeffery?
I had no objections, quite the opposite, so I wrote back:
Terrance, it fits my story fine.

Add as many literary allusions to other Satanic stories and religious references dealing with the devil as you wish, e.g., in Dan Webster's library, which could contain all sorts of books, including Terrance Lindall's illustrated Paradise Lost, Carter Kaplan's Emanations 1, and Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors (which has the story "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" -- not yet read by Webster, so put it on a shelf of texts awaiting reading, along with such self-referential textual allusions as Emanations 2 and The Bottomless Bottle of Beer!).

I like the allusion to Mark Twain's story "The Mysterious Stranger" in the words "Lead us into temptation." I also like the Naif's obliviousness to Satan's church. Feel free to go hog wild! I like it! You might even set my imagination free for future stories!

Don't forget, however, that the left side of the path soon becomes a bottomless pit, but there are all sorts of artistic allusions possible with that, such as Dante descending into hell, or religious allusions, e.g., to the imagery in the "Book of Revelation."
Terrance liked these suggestions and took me up on my offer:
Hog wild it is! I did not have time to focus on your BBB until now. I will even stick Bob Wickenheiser, Banez and Kaplan in there!
In that case, put our two images in as well -- perhaps as passers-by on the street, or a couple of patrons in the Witch's Brew!

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Carter Kaplan's Anthology Published: Emanations: Second Sight

Emanations: Second Sight

The anthology Emanations: Second Sight, edited by the poet and novelist Carter Kaplan, is now in print and available through Amazon! Despite reaching about 400 pages, the price is only about 13 dollars!

Unfortunately, there's no "Look/Search Inside the Book" -- not yet anyway -- so the stories, poems, and essays can't be previewed before ordering . . . though that may change after I check with Carter.

I haven't seen the hard copy yet, but when I receive one, I'll perhaps say more. For the moment, I can affirm that it has the short story version of my novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, with three illustrations by Terrance Lindall, just in case any reader is interested.

Dario Rivarossa -- a regular commentator here -- has contributed many illustrations to the anthology, including his reinterpretation of Paradise Lost. See his announcements, here and here.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Bottomless Bottle of Beer: "Sad instrument of all our woe"?

The artist Terrance Lindall has recently sent me two masterful illustrations for my short novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, both of which appear near the onset of the action and in sequence. Here's the first, showing Mr. Em, in the presence of a deceptively 'small' feline called "Behemoth," inviting our naive young hero down to the cellar for a 'bottomless' bottle of beer.

Mr. Em Invites the Naif Below

Our nameless hero initially hesitates, puzzled at the offer of a 'bottomless' bottle of beer, but then acquiesces:
[Mr. Em] seemed to understand my visible perplexity. "Come," he beckoned. "We have several below, down in the cellar." He turned toward the door to the left, and I followed into a narrow hallway lit by candlelight. As we passed through the doorway, he said, "Behemoth, close the door behind us, please." I looked back and from the dim, yellow light saw that the huge cat was following close behind. The creature appeared to be dropping down onto four feet, as though it had been standing fully erect on its hind legs to pull the door to. That was surely an optical illusion, but how had the cat tugged the door shut?

"Watch your step," cautioned Mr. Em, drawing my attention from the cat.

The narrow hallway began a steep descent by stone steps as the left wall abruptly ended in darkness, leaving the steps to descend along a narrow ledge. I followed carefully, keeping to the remaining wall, but glancing fearfully into the abyss of darkness to my left. The steps continued their descent, growing darker, then brighter as we ventured from one candlelit spot to the next. I found myself wondering who maintained all the candles. Mr. Em had mentioned others responsible for the shop sign, but that number would surely be small, no more than two, maybe three. Far too few for the scores of candles. "What the hell am I doing here?" I muttered, considering whether to complain. A prospective customer surely ought to be served, not made to wander dangerously along the margin of such utter darkness, where a single false step would send one plunging confounded from the light, however dim.

I had just opened my mouth to express my reservation when Mr. Em announced, "Ah, here we are."

I looked and saw that while the ledge kept descending, we had stepped down onto a landing, a pause in the descent. The wall to our right was hollowed out into an unilluminated room whose entrance was blocked by a massive portcullis.
Behemoth Raises the Portcullis
Mr. Em gestured with a downward motion. "Would you please open that for us?"

I naturally assumed he was speaking to me, but as I prepared to protest that I knew nothing of such infernal devices, I heard chains clanking and gears grinding, metal against metal, as with impetuous recoil and jarring sound, the portcullis began forthwith to screech its way rapidly up. I looked behind me and saw with astonishment that Behemoth was pulling down on a great chain, the large cat's claws hooked into two of its links. At that very moment, I began to think of Behemoth more as person than cat, like a short, stocky fellow in a catsuit, and I watched as he quickly drew the chain down, unhooked the lower claws from their link and reached high to rehook those same claws into another link, all the time continuing to pull as he alternated paw over paw. When the heavy grating had been harshly and completely raised, Behemoth caught one of the chain's big links onto an iron hook set firmly in the stone landing, and the portcullis remained open.
There, that excerpt will suffice for these two images. Readers interested in the entire story with some 50 illustrations will have to wait until at least March next year. For the images alone, this is worth the wait, for I'm impressed by Terrance's use of details, e.g., the Milton image, the apple, the memento mori, the aqua morte . . .

For better viewing, click on an image . . . and again.

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Kinky Friedman Robbed of Election!

Kinky Friedman
The Man Who Would Be President
If This Were A Fair World . . .

I've long been a Kinky Friedman supporter, ever since I heard his song "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" while I was studying at Baylor University in Waco, Texas back in the 1970s.

Anyway, a little known fact ('cause the powers that be want it little known) is that he was running for president this year, and my contention is that he won the election, but for various nefarious reasons, nobody knows this except me even though I have tried to raise awareness of the issue over at the Marmot's Hole, starting when the election results had not yet been 'definitively' announced:
I'm still waiting for the Kinky Friedman write-in votes to be counted, and that we've heard nothing yet about those is a real scandal -- and probably a conspiracy -- but once Obama is proved an alien from Kenya and Romney an alien from Kolob, Friedman will step forth to accept the honor of being proclaimed POTUS, our first real Jewish cowboy president from Texas who's even written a novel and will therefore govern with novel ideas!
Nobody responded to that comment of mine because everyone else was screaming abuse at Obama and Romney, so I followed it up with a plea for attention:
Why is the Kinky Friedman vote scandal being ignored?

Since any voter with good sense either checked Friedman's good name or wrote it in and since my fellow Americans are all voters with good sense, then Friedman must have won by a landslide!

Kinky was the only candidate who'd truly protect free speech!

Remember his campaign slogan:

"I always say, you can pick your nose, and you can pick your friends, but you can't wipe your friends on your saddle, so you're stuck with 'em."

That says everything!
Still no response, so I tried again, this time by promoting my own political party:
I consider myself a radical left-wing conservative reactionary independent solipsist trying to build a political party, except none others like me seem to exist . . .

Where are all the other solipsists?
That got a response from a commentator who called himself "Anonymous Joe":
#257 jefferyhodges: "Where are all the other solipsists?"

We stopped thinking about you.
Relieved to have an interlocutor, I replied:
Jeffery Hodges (#257): "Where are all the other solipsists?"

Anonymous Joe (#262): "We stopped thinking about you."

That explains why I haven't felt like myself lately. Cogito ergo sum must be flawed -- or maybe I just need to think harder!

Be that as it may, all other solipsists are invited to join my Radical Egalitarian And Left-wing Conservative Reactionary Independent Solipsist Party, officially acronymed as REAL CRISP!

We support Kinky Friedman, the true winner of this year's presidential election!
After this comment, I received no further response, either from Anonymous Joe or any other commentator.

The conspiracy of silence is far-reaching . . .


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Descending into the Abyss . . .

Terrance Lindall

Above is Descent, Terrance Lindall's most recent illustration to go with my story The Bottomless Bottle of Beer. Lindall lives in New York, and the hurricane of last week has left him effectively cut off from his office, so he's had to improvise with other materials for drawing upon, as he informed me in the message accompanying the image:
Sketching on napkins! The descent . . .
If you click twice on the image and closely inspect the top, you'll see that he's not joking -- if you can only make out the perforated line! Which actually leads me to wonder what sort of 'napkin' this is, and where Lindall was seated as he sketched the scene . . . Anyway, I wrote back:
I didn't know that sketching on napkins was even possible! You are a genius . . .
Well . . . "genius" might be slightly overpraising Lindall's resourcefulness in this particular case -- but he is a genius! I can hardly wait to see the entire sequence when he's finished and the illustrations are arranged with my story.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Quote of the Election Day - Sheik Khatib al-Idrissi

Sheik Khatib al-Idrissi

Neil MacFarquhar reports in the International Herald Tribune that "2 brands of Islam vie for pulpits of Tunisia" (November 6, 20012), and he quotes Sheik Khatib al-Idrissi on democracy in Tunisia:
"If the majority is ignorant of religious instruction, then they are against God . . . . If the majority is corrupt, how can we accept them. Truth is in the governance of God." (page 4a)
The good sheik is a Salafi Muslim -- the strictest kind -- and he means that "Truth is the governance of God" as he, Sheik Khatib al-Idrissi, interprets the rules of sharia.

Meanwhile, in the land that's the source of all corruption -- America -- a democratic election is taking place, and one-half or the other is going to have some sympathy for the sheik's point of view, namely, that the majority is corrupt, maybe even against God!

I can scarcely wait to see which side I'm on . . .

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Medical Checkup: Alien Invasion!

SahmYook Medical Center
Seoul, South Korea

I should note up front that my visit to this Seventh Day Adventist hospital was as delightful as a hospital visit can be when one is being investigated from stem to stern. I in fact had no medical complaint necessary to have looked into; rather, I needed to undergo my annual checkup required by Ewha Womans University as one duty of my professorial position. The visit was -- as ever -- an educational experience that I'm glad I need not share with my students!

Not on video, anyway. They're welcome to read about it here. As follows . . .

First, I met a young doctor who checked to see if I might perhaps be trembling excessively -- and I was nervous about that -- but he diagnosed me as trembling just about exactly enough for me age. I reckon I wasn't excessively frightened by his medical authority.

I then had my eyes checked by a kind young nurse. She found a slight inflammation in my left eye, but my vision was not especially bad for my age -- I'm not yet seeing angels and demons battling over my soul! Not that I admitted to, anyway . . .

Afterwards, I had my chest x-rayed while I basked in the adulation of lovely young nurses enthralled at the sight of my powerful pectorals. Or maybe those 'feminines' were just envisioned angels debating whether my pectorals were strong enough yet to power a set of wings, for when I stepped away from the machine, I saw only the x-ray technician, a heavy-set guy in his forties . . .

I next was weighed in the balances, measured for my height, and taken of my pulse and its pressure. All okay. Maybe better than okay, for my pulse was 55 -- exactly my age! Serendipitous? I think not! Unsure what this Jungian synchronicity might mean, though . . . Incidentally, my vision was checked again -- maybe the elderly nurse who investigated this second time was suspicious that I might have seen angels or demons after all -- but I performed even better on the eye chart, happening to recall from memory several of the letters on the previous, identical chart.

Somewhere in this procession of Foucauldian panoptical experiences, I was forced to produce an intimate substance that I'd rather leave unspecified.

Finally, however, came the alien invasion, a tube pressed down my throat so that a middle-aged male doctor could see what's there below (as if science doesn't already know!). I felt like John Hurt in the first Alien film, for the procedure did hurt! The nurse assisting the doctor later reported that I had a throat inflammation and should avoid irritating it. Well, that's a fine thing to advise me to avoid after the two of them had spent five minutes plunging the Transatlantic Cable down my esophagus! Next time they want to do that, I'll have to remind them of their own medical advice!

But to be utterly serious, the staff was wonderful and the checkup as painless as a checkup can be, so I recommend this hospital to everyone, including other invading aliens like myself . . .

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Salman Rushdie - For Free Speech

Salman Rushdie

I've kept long enough on the back burner this Patt Morrison interview, "Salman Rushdie, freedom writer," which I read in the LA Times about one month ago (October 3, 2012) but only now have found opportunity to excerpt:
In the new book you write that the protagonist -- you -- chooses ethics and the universality of freedom over fundamentalist religion and moral relativism. Is this the defining conflict of the epoch?

I think so. I really wanted to sum it up not just in a narrow political way but in terms of what it is about literature and the things that I love that I wanted to defend against the things that were attacking them.
I find fascinating the fact -- and it is a fact -- that a supposedly universal religion should mire itself in moral relativism, but Islam is doing that by its refusal to subject itself to the universalizing force of reason.
You called the "Innocence of Muslims" video the worst thing on YouTube. It certainly isn't art, but it is "speech." Should we draw a line on the protections we extend to speech?

I don't think so. The correct response to a piece of nonsense on YouTube is to say it's a piece of nonsense on YouTube. To use that to try to blow up the world just seems, to put it mildly, disproportionate. It's become clear that the video has become a pretext for the unleashing of a more generalized anti-American rage. And the video has been used by political and religious leaders across the Muslim world just to point an angry mob in the direction of America.
Bully for Rushdie. He comes out clearly and forcefully for free speech.
Even as the video protests unfolded, "The Book of Mormon," which makes light of religion, opened in Hollywood. Nobody burned down the Pantages over it.

It's a brilliantly clever show, and I know a lot of Mormons have seen it and thought it was funny. This is how to be grown-up. We're sometimes told that, on [history's] calendar, Islam is only in the middle ages, so it will mature as the centuries pass. But Mormonism seems to have got there a lot faster.
Excellent point -- precisely to the point! Islam is less mature than Mormonism. Of course, Mormonism is an American religion. Anyway, Rushdie concludes with full-throated appreciation of America's First Amendment:
I feel the American principle, the 1st Amendment, is the best: Better to have the bad ideas out in the sunlight where they can be attacked than under the carpet where they will be in some way glamorized by being forbidden. Vampires shrivel in the sunlight.
My view precisely, almost exactly as I used to defend free speech in Germany when speaking with German friends over Germany's legal restrictions on freedom of expression.

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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Mind Craft? Oh, Minecraft, whatever that is . . .

Minecraft - Pocket Edition

My 13-year-old son, En-UK, had been immersed in his smart phone for days on end despite my ironic comments. I'd finally had enough and criticized him for wasting his time on mindless games of dubious skill.

He stopped 'playing' long enough to show me what he was doing -- not playing, but instead building stuff, something like what you see in the image above.

More, in fact, than what you see, for one can enter the construction to lumber down long hallways and pass through unexpected rooms, endlessly, I infer, so long as one has interest in continuing to build and explore what has been built.

Here's a video showing sort of how it's done.

En-Uk took me through the house he has been building, and a rather complex one it is. I was impressed out of my irony and complimented him on his construction project.

I concluded that the 'game' was educational enough for him to keep 'playing'-- and I asked what it was called. "Minecraft," he told me, but I heard "Mind Craft," or thought I did, and checked.
"No," he corrected, "Minecraft."

"Oh," I said, "as in 'mine' -- it belongs to me?"

"No," he again corrected, "It's a mine. You have to dig."

"Ah," I said, having an almost-aha moment, "like digging for gold or coal."

"Yeah," he agreed, "except you dig to escape monsters."
That sounded a bit less educational, but as long as he was building a house above ground and mining a deep basement below ground, even if these were for defense against monsters, I figured that he might be incidentally teaching himself some architectural skills, so I supposed I still approved . . .

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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Terrance Lindall - Bottomless Bottle Film Noir

Bloody Flaming Bottle of Beer
Cover Page and Movie Poster
Our Hero and the Seductive Hella
Terrance Lindall

Terrance is still working on my story's illustrations in his New York office despite untoward circumstances in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. First comes an image previously posted (if I recall), but now newly colored, the devilishly ridiculous and impossibly tall demon Koroviev waiting to board the bus within which our hero rides, headed for Café Griboyedov:

Next comes a depiction of the obviously impossibly tall Koroviev asking the fare price, though why he asks remains forever mysterious, for he never pays, considering any price unfair -- though he occasionally pays an 'unfare' (as he calls it) with Russian roubles that later turn to worthless scraps of paper:

Soon arrives the moment when Koroviev accosts our hero and inquires if he might have the seat, much to our hero's consternation, who imagines that the tall, bowing stranger wants to take the seat from him:

The misunderstanding is quickly resolved, however, and Koroviev skillfully succeeds in charming our hero . . . sort of:

Things don't look good at this point for our somewhat naive hero, but he is not a man to be underestimated, as this new neo-noir trailer proves . . .

UPDATE: The trailer appears unavailable for the present -- I'll check with Terrance.

UPDATE II: Some glitches have to be ironed out, but Terrance can't get back to his workroom due to the aftermath of the hurricane that struck NYC.

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Friday, November 02, 2012

Brief Conversation with a Friendly Korean on the Jungang Line

Cheongnyangni Station

Yesterday on the Jungang Subway Line as my train was just leaving Cheongnyangni Station, a Korean man approached me where I was standing engrossed in my newspaper, greeted me warmly, took my hand and shook it, and asked me if I speak English. When I had affirmed that, he smiled broadly and asked if I were American.

"Yes," I acknowledged, a bit cautious.

His smile grew, and he quietly but with emphatic certitude confided, "Koreans love Americans!"

At first, I was unsure how to respond, wondering if he were crazy or thought I was, but I finally replied, "Some do."

His smile faded, and he looked concerned as he insisted, "All Koreans love Americans. The Americans helped in 1950. Many died. Perhaps some of your uncles?"

I nodded. "Some fought," I revealed, "but lived."

"Koreans and Americans have a blood relationship," he told me, "so Koreans love Americans." But he seemed to reconsider, for he added, "Some Koreans don't. A few. They are 'Advanced.'" He looked at me to see if I understood.

"Progressive," I corrected, knowing that the Leftists in Korea call themselves that.

"Yes," he agreed. "Progressive. But they are traitors."

I didn't follow up on the possibility of a political discussion, but asked him what he does and found out that he teaches English linguistics in a university. He said that he likes Chomsky's linguistic theories.

I wondered what he thought of Chomsky's politics, but our conversations soon ended anyway as the man bade me farewell and exited the train at Hoegi Station.

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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Terrance Lindall Survives 'Frankenstorm' and Continues Illustrating . . .

Azazello Draws Blood
Terrance Lindall

Several hours after I posted yesterday's worried blog entry, Terrance re-established contact despite destruction in New York City by the worst hurricane in a century, and he seems to have worked throughout the storm's duration, as he forwarded a new 'trailer' for what will be his illustrated version of my novella, offering these words to accompany the video:
"Master Storyteller Horace Jeffery Hodges writes a tale that is already considered a classic. [As it was a]n immediate hit, Terrance Lindall, master illustrator, adopted the story for a graphic novel and a film. Release is set for September 2013."
Terrance seems to be quoting someone, but doesn't identify the writer -- though perhaps it's James Baldwin Cohen -- and despite the quote citing September 2013 as the release date, the video says March 2013. Perhaps that's Terrance's 'trickster' spirit, but I'll ask him to clarify.

I'd like to believe my story is a classic, but that's for others to judge. It's at least been something of a 'hit' with readers who have previewed it. Meanwhile, watch the video for Terrance's humorous take on the tale!

UPDATE: Some glitches have to be ironed out on the video, but Terrance can't get back to his workroom due to the aftermath of the hurricane that struck NYC.

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