Friday, April 18, 2014

R.I.P. Gabriel García Márquez

Colombian-born writer, novelist and journalist Gabriel García Márquez -- best known for having been awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature and for having written such novels as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera -- finished the last chapter of his autobiography yesterday at age 87.

He will be missed.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Movie Quote of the Week

God made men. Men made slaves.
--John Derek, The Ten Commandments (1956)

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TV Quote of the Week

I know why they have holidays. They have holidays so people can get together and have fun. So why am I alone?
--Todd Barbee, It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Selena!

AKA Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.

Born April 16, 1971. Died March 31, 1995.

It is difficult to use her name nowadays without confusing it with Disney star Selena Gomez whose fans also like to refer to her by only her first name.

Then again can Ms. Gomez claim to have a U.S. postage stamp issued in her honor?

On a more serious note, I would gladly see an end to such items if it meant the original Selena was still alive. But, alas, that is one wish that will never come true.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Dusty Springfield!

AKA Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien.

Born April 16, 1939. Died March 2, 1999.

She was one of my favorite English pop singers.

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Envy is one of the most fashionable vices that exists nowadays and I suspect it has always been fashionable. As the movie Life of Brian once illustrated, even people in the midst of misery can't resist the temptation to envy other people.

Moreover, in an age when so many are suffering the effects of a bad economy and worse economists, it can be very hard to resist the siren call of such a vice. It is even harder to preach against such a vice since it may be argued that the right to envy those who have more is one of the few consolations that the poor can count on in this day and age.

But who are the poor?

Those who have little?

Or those who just envy those who have more?

And who are the rich?

The rich folk on the hill?

Or the not-so-rich folk who live down the block or across the street.

And what does it mean to "have more"? And how can you be that sure that the folk who have more are necessarily that rich just because they seem to have more than you?

After all, a neighbor of mine who lives on a fixed income is considered "rich" by many of her friends and neighbors because she owns her own property and has a steady supply of money due to a monthly disability allowance that she doesn't have to work for.

But just because she is richer than some of her neighbors does not mean she is richer than all of them. Nor do it mean that she is totally exempt from money troubles. After all, a fixed income is still a fixed income, no matter how large it may seem to those who don't have one. And unless you are around her 24/7, you have no idea what expenses she has or how much trouble she has paying them. Indeed, by the standards of many rich people I know, she might actually seem poor.

So what about the neighbor who owns his own car? Surely he is rich, right?

Well, he probably is not that rich or else he probably would not be living in a neighborhood with so many poor people in it. And even if you assume differently, you have no way of knowing for sure how hard he had to work to get that car unless he tells you. He might have had to work two jobs. Or maybe three. Or get into outrageous debt that he has to work night and day to repay. Or pay it off with a legacy he received from a deceased relative. (The type of legacy you don't exactly get every day.) You just don't know for sure unless he tells you and even then there is no guarantee that he might tell you the truth.

Anyway, the more you know about said neighbor, the less inclined you might be to envy him. So it might be better for your own peace of mind if you resist the urge to make assumptions about people until you have gotten to know more about them. And bear in mind that even the most open of people tend to be like icebergs in that they don't always show everything in their past to the people they encounter in their present.

Come to think of it, there are probably a great many secrets that you may have from the world at large. And for all you know, there may quite a few people out there who envy you -- though I doubt that such people would ever admit it. And it goes without saying that you would probably care as little about the assumptions such enviers make about you that the people you envy care about the assumptions you make about them. So perhaps it is best to resist the lure of envy altogether.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Literary Quote I Like

Yesterday's sin becomes tomorrow's virtue.
--Judith in H. A. Keller's Yesterday's Sin

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Monday, April 14, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Sarah Michelle Gellar Prinze!

Born April 14, 1977.

She is still everyone's favorite vampire slayer even if she seems to be currently retired and out of uniform.

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Quote of the Week

I might have been an immaculate conception. You never know.
--Sarah Michelle Gellar

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Jennifer Morrison!

AKA Jennifer Marie Morrison.

Born April 12, 1979.

She is an American actress who is best known for portraying Dr. Allison Cameron in House M.D. and Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time. She has also appeared in such movies as Urban Legend: Final Cut, Surviving Christmas and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. She also played James T. Kirk's mother in the recent Star Trek reboot -- which just seems so wrong for an actress her age.

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Quote of the Week

I never could understand why thick-headed, drooling Protestants would accuse us of being prudes when they gave the world the Puritans and the Moral Majority and we gave the world Rodin's The Kiss.
--Robert J. Hutchinson, When in Rome: A Journal of Life in Vatican City

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Spanish Words of Russian History

1. Bloque del Este -- Eastern Bloc.
2. bolchevique -- Bolshevik.
3. comunismo -- communism.
4. comunista -- communist.
5. cosaco -- cossack.
6. El Telón de Acero -- Castilian term for "Iron Curtain".
7. Eslavos -- Slavs.
8. La Cortina de Hierro -- Latin American term for "Iron Curtain".
9. La Guerra Fría -- The Cold War.
10. La Gran Purga -- The Great Purge.
11. Marxismo -- Marxism.
12. Pueblo Potemkin -- Potemkin village.
13. purga -- purge.
14. República Popular -- People's Republic.
15. Unión Soviética -- Soviet Union.
16. zar -- czar.

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Spanish Words of Spanish History

1. Armada Invencible -- Invincible Armada; Spanish Armada.
2. Babieca -- El Cid's horse.
3. bucanero -- buccaneer.
4. caballero andante -- knight errant; wandering knight.
5. castillo -- castle.
6. conversa -- female converso.
7. converso -- literally, convert; Jewish or Muslim convert to Christianity.
8. El Desastre -- literally, "The Disaster"; Spanish name for the loss of Cuba in 1898.
9. El Manco de Lepanto -- literally, "the one-handed man of Lepanto"; nickname of Miguel Cervantes.
10. generación del '98 -- literally, "generation of '98"; a group of writers and philosophers active in Spain during the Spanish-American War of 1898 who were known for their criticism of the Spanish literary and educational establishments.
11. hereje -- heretic.
12. Imperio Español -- Spanish Empire.
13. imperio global -- global empire.
14. infiel -- unbeliever; infidel.
15. Jimena -- El Cid's wife
16. La Ilustración -- The Enlightenment (historical period).
17. La Inquisición Española -- The Spanish Inquisition.
18. la movida -- literally, "the commotion"; a post-Franco backlash in Spain.
19. leyenda negra -- literally, black legend; the claim that Spain and the Spaniards were depicted as uniquely bloodthirsty, cruel, greedy and licentious, in excess of reality.
20. leyenda rosa -- literally, pink legend or white legend; the claim which promoted an ideal view of Spaniards.
21. limpieza de sangre -- purity of blood.
22. Los Reyes Católicos -- literally, The Catholic Monarchs; King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.
23. mestizaje -- miscegenation.
24. morisco -- Muslim who converted to Christianity after the Spanish reconquest.
25. moro -- Moor; North African.
26. mozárabe -- Christian who remained in Muslim territory during the Muslim occupation of Spain.
27. mudéjar -- Muslim who remained in the territory of Spanish Christians without converting to Christianity.
28. pagano -- pagan.
29. peregrino -- pilgrim.
30. pinturas negras -- literally, black paintings; Goya's most morbid portraits.
31. pirata -- pirate.
32. reconquista -- literally, reconquest; normally a historical term referring to the reconquest of Muslim-occupied Spain by Catholic armies.
33. romero -- pilgrim.
34. siglo de oro -- golden age.
35. siglo dorado -- golden age.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

Could this be the most subtle example of sexual symbolism to ever appear in a movie poster?


But I would not be surprised to find out that the creator of this poster had to do some major penance afterward.

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

Carol stood on Glaeken's rooftop in the bright morning sunlight and wished she had the nerve to remove her blouse. Jack and Bill had pulled off their shirts as soon as they'd stepped out the door. Carol envied the males their casual ability to expose so much surface area to the warm light poking through the cloudless sky.

"Why not me? she thought, reaching for the top buttons on her blouse. After all we've been through together, what difference would it make?

But she stopped after two buttons. If it was just Bill, maybe. But not with Jack here.

I know I've been changed by all this -- but not that much. An uptight Catholic girl was still alive and well somewhere within her.
--F. Paul Wilson, Nightworld

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Science Fiction Quote of the Week

Olava said her cult would never endorse killing. Semyonus said the same for his government.

"In previous times," said Lewus,"Olava's church has ordered people killed, and Semyonus' government now does it. You should know that. I am not the only person with a sin."

"You think I needed to be told these things, Lewus?" I said.
--Richard Ben Sapir, The Far Arena

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