The Special Hell


I found another category of “specially damned” individuals rampant in modern times. All those people who morph the faces of their friends or famous people (who can tell) on classic paintings. If that weren’t bad enough, they share them to the point it uselessly pollutes Google image search with the world’s most wretched and ugly Photoshop.

For goodness sake, what did Velasquez ever do to you?!  Just search for Velasquez if you really want your eyes to bleed.

OK, Fine. This is by far the best of the lot. It’s even funny.

So I guess sentence reduced to eating desert first and purgatorial probation.


Overheard this Sunday…


My commentary on this.

I really wish I understood more of the homily at the Spanish language mass I went to. Remember last Sunday’s set of readings? He equated the riches of this earth with lies… and the lies told about Pope Francis. He described the MSM as “having a perverted relationship with truth”. Even better in the original Spanish. He also quoted St Luke, and the Pope’s latest Encyclical. Almost shocking to hear a priest talk like that, outside the usual suspects. What a commentary of our age.

He stated at least three times, that the sacraments were the riches in heaven, giving us guideposts for living everyday life in the family. He then when into a discussion of the sacrament of confession and what that teaches us about dealing with problems in the family– and how that relates to truth as used in society. It was pretty strongly worded for someone used to English homilies.

Having heard lots of “liberation” theology, (and yes, in Spanish, too) I could tell that this was NOT it.

Based on this paltry sample of one, I wonder if this means that Pope Francis is having a positive effect on Spanish speaking parishes. It’s harder to hide from them what he’s really saying. For people repeatedly washed over with the LC crap, it’s easy to see where Francis really stands.

What does that have to do with his visit?

As the priest said, “in the light of Truth, lies will fall away like tattered last year’s high fashion.”

Earlier in the week, I overheard an executive from the music industry RAVE about Pope Francis. My only defense is, I couldn’t help overhear this conversation. He was practically shouting it from the rooftops.

It sounds worse than it is. He was actually persuaded by the guy, even though he knew he didn’t agree with him… and here’s the shocker. He didn’t believe the media lies either, and he’d be inclined to. Talk about immersed in the culture that revels in them!  He got the real message, and even developed a bit of respect for that, even if he was not Catholic,and in truth quite skeptical.

Hey. It’s a start.

It’s hell on the rest of us, but long term seeds haven’t started growing just yet.

IN short: there are all kinds of idiots who want to believe lies. All we can do is point to the truth. They will cheerfully ignore us, because lies are prettier to them than what is.  Thankfully, that will all fall away soon enough.  We are torn, because we want more time to convince the recalcitrant. Let me write a volume or two on what I know about recalcitrant. Oh…20 years worth, maybe?

Considering the great fanfare invested in my personal conversion, I hold on to hope that it’s not just me.  :)

One last thought.  I wonder if it was this bad when PJ II was Pope.
I just remember he was in the news an awful lot, and there was usually some softly worded scandal among those who flaunt the fact they do  not believe in scandals. Sadly, I was a kid at the time, so I don’t remember the details. By the time I got older, JP II was ill and the media backed off a little bit… until they stabbed him in the back for his illness.



The review you’ve all been waiting for…


The closest thing you could describe me as in high school was a Goth. I played Vampire the Masquerade, both tabletop and LARP, for 15 years. I read both Anne Rice and Barbara Hambly, and liked the latter better. Hell, I even watched My Best Friend is a Vampire, probably one of the most underrated teen films of all time. I even watched that brief flash of awfulness they called the Masquerade tv series. Hint: we called it “The World of Noon”. I watched Forever Knight, Buffy, and Dark Shadows. Hell, I was weaned on The Munsters. Morticia Addams hosted one of my favorite B movie horror shows back when I was watching a hick station from a 60’s Zenith that had technicolor and a fish eye lens. Fortunately, her show was done in black and white. Then again, it flickered back and fourth from color to black and white, so I’m not sure which it really was.

..But it was my best friend who was obsessed with vampires. Yeah, that’s what I kept telling myself.

By the time the books that True Blood was based on hit the shelves, I was a bit burned out. I read them, and enjoyed them. The TV show lost me when the actor with the best southern accent became the supervillain. Sure, I saw it coming, but it still galled me.

Oh, then there was Twilight. Sure, an enthused friend handed them to me. She did a fine job of convincing me they were awesome.

They weren’t.

I was pretty sure, by the time I put the first book down, scraping my gray matter with a paint scraper was too kind a way to get rid of that drek. I felt DIRTY because of that book, and no, not in a good way. I was pretty sure I was done with vampires. For good.

Then Declan Finn comes out with Honor at Stake. Dammit, I thought I was over this. I’m even hauling out my Rasputina and Black Tape for a Blue Girl thanks to this guy. He already knows he’s responsible for all the Cruxshadows appearing in my playlist. And, he’s not sorry at all.

That’s a good thing.

It will be all his fault if I start wearing black lipstick again, I swear.

Okay, I’m joking about that last part. No, seriously, this guy writes about… ahem, real vampires, not the sparkly fucked up Jar Jar Binks of the vampire world. They are deadly hunters, with vestiges of humanity that make them more frightening.

And yet, it is one of the most powerful love stories I’ve read in a long time. For a wonder, he’s not all angsty and whiny and whatnot. The Goth movement whine came later… thanks to Morresey and those Emo wannabes who can’t see out of their own pain. The whole point of Goth is to celebrate the darkness of life, because it is short. And, Declan gets it. He really gets pretty much everything we loved about vampires by displaying an impressive knowledge of the classic repertoire. Then he brings in his own contributions, turning it up to 11. He uses both Thomas Aquinas and advances in modern science to give a whole new dimension to the moral, ethical and medical possibilities behind the beloved predators of the horror world.

There is plenty of action and Things Going Boom, this being penned by the Mighty Finn. But this is more meditative, more emotional, and the raw feeling he wields like a master is something to exult in.

I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Amanda, and Marco is a fun character to follow. His life is a very real look into an outcast with a unique set of problems. He’s a PA. And he likes killing people.
In fact, that goes back quite a ways into his personal history.

He’s not a serial killer. Yet.

He’s a lethal weapon with a brain, and that makes him even odder than most nerds. Fortunately for him, patching people up is much harder than taking them down, so that scratches his itch for a challenge, and being up to his elbows in blood. Mostly.

Marco practices fencing, because he always needs a new challenge. That’s where he meets Amanda, who is just as good as he is. But there is something… off about her.

He knows killing people is wrong, and there are even people out there he likes, But… look out if he has to defend himself. Most of the traditional big city predators in his neighborhood have already found this out the hard way. He also has a secret that makes his problems a bit hard to deal with, or even talk about them.

Is there anyone out there who might understand?

Well, then he meets Amanda. Who has– shall we say– good reasons to understand.

They meet (not quite cute, but meet flirt?) at a late night college fencing class. The tension crackles, the steel flies, and soon they find themselves in a class of their own.

When they aren’t trying to lop each others’ heads off.

Though clearly wealthy, she has what seems to be more than a lifetime’s store of sadness in her past… and is so far passed jaded she is a smooth and graceful sculpture. Yet in battle is quick, clever, and vicious… So they get along excellently. The statue discovers she can be moved.

Why should such a splendid creature be alone? Seems to be the question each of them asks.

Until Marco finds himself bound and gagged on an unfamiliar Brooklyn roof…

And no, I’m not going to tell you how it ends.

Suffice to say, there is a lot of heat, a lot of fang and the action spirals ever upward to a innuendo/confrontation that has to be read to believed. Advisable to turn up the AC before proceeding.

Let’s just say, as excellent as they both are in the dojo– or in the street, a great deal of backup needs to be called before this train gallops toward a breathtaking finish. You will see vampire bars explode, gang on gang action, Vatican ninjas and some very heavy firepower.

Did I mention that the FBI gets involved? Merle Kraft isn’t exactly what you’d call a normal FBI agent, he specializes in the strange, and the exotic. He’s a short Asian cross between Penn Jillette and Fox Mulder, with piercing blue eyes. Like any magician, he brings a bit of baggage with him– which blends wonderfully into an already explosive mix.

He has questionable, nay diabolical relatives and a dubious past.

Can Amanda and Marco trust him?

And… even that is not enough. After all, something evil is not only creating murder and mayhem in NYC, but seems to be emanating from the UN building.

Trust me, it’s an enjoyable ride. Highly recommended.


Plus something fun I found on G+. Why is it here?   Um… no reason… :twisted:


Margot talks about God… again.


So I was thinking the other day.  Dangerous I know.  But I wondered… what the heck does God want?!

You stare up at the Cross and understand that duty and and love being sacrifice is a Big Deal.  But there’s more to it than that.


Why did he feed us? Why did he heal us? If it’s all just one big slog, why did he spend two years hanging out with his disciples, reaching out to people, teaching them, listening to them, touching them, and telling stories to anyone who’d listen?

He believed that whomever heard the story and cherished it would just… understand what it meant. So what are critics supposed to do again?  Laugh, as I jest. You can still have commentary on the worlds of Jesus written today– and they still have insights to relate to the modern age.Yes, even ours.

After all, Jesus had an audience in mind, and a body of tradition, and we need to be reminded of that.  But what does that mean for Him? What does he really want?

Okay, okay, teach the nations how to follow God. But somehow, we lose something if that’s all we do. Reason can show us that the whole world lacks a certain something, like a beginning, unless God’s in the picture somewhere.

But… Where is the fire?

But like the proverbial guy who has everything… God is a bit of a murky topic when it comes to motive. Why… the Universe? Why this place? Why time? Why did he make a bunch of hyper intelligent naked monkeys with delusions of grandeur?

I know you saw love coming a mile a way, but this is still not quite an explanation. What does love really mean? Sacrifice? Tolerating hardship for a greater cause? Necessity? Sure.

But what is it that we crave when we WANT love?


A soldier learns to love duty, or at least derive the satisfaction of being a necessary part of a larger whole, owed not only to abstract entities or places on a map, but to the faces of his comrades in arms. Those of us who didn’t serve don’t really understand that anymore, because we don’t teach it to anybody but soldiers or within military families.  This is a shame, because it is easy enough to lose the depth of this powerful impetus and think of it as slavish or guilt bound. It’s not. And it completes the lives of many men and women who otherwise would be shadows without souls.

But there’s still more.

Because… reading between the lines and recalling Genesis, God doesn’t want to be merely needed. That is why he holds off those who follow him for bread or promises of miracles and living water alone.

He wants to be wanted, not needed. He wants to be gratuitous, to be a source of joy and delight, to be a gift that turns the daily grind of grimdark planet earth into a transcendent mystery.  God wants to be the Anti-Murphy that makes all this shit worth while. That’s why even death had to fall before him, and the resurrection came as a huge surprise.  Even he he had been telling stories about it all along.

And I believe that it is this aspect of love that we idolize the wild affair, break our homes and our marriages, looking for the spark we left to die at home. We become accustomed to the necessity of our beloved, and not the precious gift that God meant him or her to be.  And because we think of all reality as a gift, we forget to cherish the gifts we truly value, and become vain accountants looking for an equality that cannot exist between two different people.

So this key to love is not just about God, but about us, and our relationships. It is true for friends, for family, for lovers and spouses. And in the name of delighting in every flower, we love the wide field and forget the fragile blooms entirely.


Why The Puppies Did It

The Arts Mechanical

I’m not a professional writer. I haven’t pursued the muse in the makings of the craft.  I’m an engineer and designer.  Because most of my work has been in rather eclectic things, the average person will not encounter what I create, but their lives will be enriched from them through better manufacturing methods and being able to detect toxins in foods.  I’m not sure what experiments have been run on the Free Electron Laser, but I imagine that something significant was learned.

In any case I’ve been asking myself why I’ve been devoting so much time to the Hugo Awards, science fiction and the future of  science fiction and fandom.  Then I saw this.

I think that each and every one of the puppies is to some extent the kid under the stairs.  We are the odds that instead of looking inward at our rage, try to look forward for…

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Welcome to Ask A Geek Anything, Issue 16

It was me. Guilty. I made it happen. Sorta.

Otherwhere Gazette

Welcome to Ask A Geek Anything, Issue 16

This Sweet Sixteen episode is brought to you by a glitch in the Universal Prognosticator’s predictive formula. We were trying for the most entertaining possible combination of topics… and got this instead.  Fortunately, we will answer anything that won’t crush grain elevators in Gainesville.   There are clouds of confusion on smoking and its influence on SF and Fantasy, brought to you by Cirsova-  

Lately I’ve been collecting a lot of old sci-fi pulps and paperbacks, and have found a lot of great stuff crammed with shmancy cigarette ads (particularly Kent in MoF&SF and various Ace paperbacks); while I can chalk up spacemen smoking cigarettes to the fact that everyone smoked cigarettes back in 40s and 50s, I’ve begun to wonder how much influence tobacco had on the SF/F publishing industry; casual observation suggests they might have been bankrolling the industry at…

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The End of Religious Freedom

Hear, hear…

The Catholic Geeks

The idea that gay marriage will endanger religious freedom is an old and common argument. So old and common, in fact, that it’s frequently dismissed on its face. After all, no one is forcing any religion to alter its practices. This is just about not imposing religious practices on secular society.

Of course, nearly every time I suggest to someone who fervently supports gay marriage that perhaps this argument would be best addressed by removing all state recognition of marriage from our society, I’m met with scorn, derision, and hatred. I was even, on one spectacular occasion, faced with a crowd of people who insisted that this proved I wanted to impose my religious beliefs on them. I’m not sure how the suggestion that state not dictate to religion meant religion dictating to state, but there you go.

The fact of the matter is that the inevitable result of this situation…

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