Holy Sheet!

February 26, 2006

Some guy is selling a miraculous Image of Jesus on a Piece of Sheet Metal on eBay. According to the item description, “you can actually see an image of him with arms in the air or a frontal and a side image of him”. You decide:

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Sorry, but I don’t see Jesus there; I see Tom Selleck with a goatee:

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Incredibly, the current bid for the Holy Sheet is $676. And if you have more money than common sense, you can buy it outright for a mere $10,000!

UPDATE: At 7:32 a.m. today the Holy Sheet sold on eBay for $10,000 — Blessed Tom Selleck preserve us! The buyer was The Ticket Source, Inc., a ticket brokering service operating out of Dallas, TX. Oh … kay …

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Friday Catblogging: Meet My Girls

February 24, 2006

After 40+ years of being a “dog person”, in 2003 I decided it was time for a change of pace and adopted two cats (both domestic shorthairs of dubious lineage). I quickly became a cat-convert — nauseatingly so, I am told by friends. Hey, any housepet that instinctively buries their bidness in a box of deodorizing sand and doesn’t bark frantically at every falling leaf outside is all right by me!

So, meet my girls:

TIFFY

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“Submit to my Fluffy White Tummy, puny human! Worship it!”

Name: “Tiffy” is short for Tifil, the Goldogrin form of Tevildo (meaning ‘Hater’), the monstrous demon-cat in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Book of Lost Tales”. A.k.a. Tiff-Tiff or The Tiffinatrix. Personality: Tiffy’s name is intentionally ironic, since she’s quite the dainty little princess and a veritable black hole of emotional neediness who is constantly demanding lots of love and attention. Coat: Tiffy’s a “dilute” calico, meaning her spots are grey and fawn rather than black and red. Likes: tummy rubs; playing with rabbit-fur-covered toy mice (she knows the sound of the kitchen drawer in which the Sacred Holy Mice are kept, and comes running when she hears it being opened). Weird dietary preference: loves yogurt and Jello.

MIMI

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“Well if you didn’t want me to break it, then
why did you hide it on top of the fridge?”

Name: “Mimi” is short for Miaulin, another Goldogrin name (hey, I’m a language geek, so sue me), this one meaning ‘she-cat’. A.k.a. Meemers, Meemerton Q. Cornflake, Farmcat. Personality: Mimi’s my mischief-maker; but like her “sister”, she’s a gooey little love-sponge at heart, and often acts up just to get some attention. Coat: brown mackerel tabby. Likes: pushing things off counters and tables and watching the results; climbing up onto unlikely places; dangly cat-toys-on-strings; chewing on bendy straws. Weird dietary preference: Likes eating coffee beans.


Mørk calling Orsøn, come in Orsøn …

February 22, 2006

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The Baleful Eye

Time for the Baleful Eye to direct its unblinking gaze at Tyalie Tyelellieva, the website companion to Lisa Star’s print publication of the same name — or rather, erstwhile print publication: the print version of TT has not published a new issue in almost five years, though issue No. 19 is rather optimistically described on Lisa’s site as still being “worked on” (on a page last revised August 2002). While we’re on the subject of publication output, let’s do a little contrast-and-compare, shall we? Since the last issue of TT (no. 18) appeared in December 2001, Vinyar Tengwar has published six issues, nos. 43 (Jan. 2002) through 48 (Dec. 2005); and Parma Eldalamberon has published two issues, nos. 14 (2003) and 15 (2004). To put it another way: since January 2002 the Editorial Team has published over 450 pages of new, primary Tolkien material — and Lisa Star has published bupkis. Lisa might consider putting her nose to the grindstone and squeezing out an issue in the near future, lest a disgruntled subscriber get impatient and post a nastygram called “The Failure of Lisa Star” on one of the Tolkien discussion groups. Trust me, I know how unpleasant that would be for her.

The Tyalie Tyelellieva website — which is not as moribund as its dead-tree counterpart, having been updated in January 2006 — is a rich source of misinformation, disinformation, slanted half-truths, and unsubstantiated innuendo directed at the Editorial Team (Lisa might consider borrowing Burger King’s slogan, “The Home of the Whopper”). Here’s a typical example of misinformation, appearing in Lisa’s A List of Tolkien’s Unpublished and Slightly Published Manuscripts:

§7, Taliska; §8, Mørk; and §9, Hvendi are three Germanic-type languages invented by Tolkien on the basis of Gothic, Old English (Mercian dialect) and Old Norse, respectively (see the Biography, p. 37 where it is reported that Tolkien “began to invent `extra’ Gothic words”).

The descriptions of Taliska and Hvendi here are accurate enough, but there’s a slight problem with Mørk: J.R.R. Tolkien never invented it — Mørk exists solely in Lisa Star’s imagination. Lisa first reported the name of this non-existent language as “Mork” in her List of Tolkien’s Languages, where she writes that it is “probably related to Old English” (this page was last updated July 2000). The account in the “Unpublished and Slightly Published Manuscripts” list cited above is later (updated August 2002), and there Lisa — amusingly — changes the name of non-existent “Mork” to the equally non-existent “Mørk”, apparently in an attempt to make it look more Germanic. Also note how the wealth of imagined detail is increased in the later account, in which Lisa drops the qualifier “probably” and flatly states that Mørk was “invented by Tolkien on the basis of … Old English”, while further adding the wholly imaginary tidbit that it was specifically modeled after the Mercian dialect.

Perhaps in the future Lisa will change her mind yet again, and describe this non-existent language as Björk, modeled after Icelandic?


3,000 Reasons

February 22, 2006

President Bush asks critics of the Dubai ports deal to “step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard”. I can think of just about 3,000 reasons. I cannot fathom how he can’t think of even one.


Very Punny

February 19, 2006

I have long felt that there can be no substantial improvement in professional journalism until and unless the editors of news publications lay and enforce a strict ban on puns in headlines. Truly, I think that some reporters love punny headlines so much that they pick them first and then write their “reporting” to fit the headline, and are quite Procrustean in carving off whatever parts of the full truth of the matter are needed to make it fit.

Case in point: Time magazine, reporting on the Cheney hunting accident, chose the title “Sticking to His Guns” to emblazon the cover. CNN, not wanting to miss out on the fun, reports on the Time story in an article titled “Readjusting their sights”. Ha ha! Funny! And yet I rather doubt that Harry Whittington finds the wordplay quite so humorous. What’s more, somehow I sincerely doubt that we’ll ever see in Time or CNN an article called “Water Under the Bridge” about Ted Kennedy’s fatal driving accident at Chappaquiddick (even if the sentiment it expresses has been exactly that of the MSM ever since that incident).


Putting Paid to the Lie

February 19, 2006

Well, let’s set that Baleful Blogroll to rolling then, shall we?

Helge Fauskanger has now twice claimed on the Elfling list to have paid twice for Vinyar Tengwar 48 — the first time qualified with “in a sense”, and the second without qualification: often is half truth made into received “fact” by such rhetorical sleight of hand.

Of course, there is no sense in which Helge has paid twice. Sending a check that cannot be cashed, and then only later actually paying, is in fact paying exactly once. Thus, for example, if I send my mortgage company an invalid check, and then replace it with a valid one, I don’t think they’ll agree that I paid my mortgage twice, in any sense.

But that’s rhetoric for you. It sounds impressive and important, until you look at its substance, and find that it is nothing more than an airy confection.


Grumpy Old Men

February 19, 2006

Well then — I guess this is that “blogging” thing all the kids are talking about nowadays.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s early writings, the Gnomes had a saying: i·weg na an fofrin ‘man is a foolish creature’. While this is pretty bitchy, especially coming from a race sharing their name with a lawn ornament, it’s also undeniably true — and it’s nowhere more evident than on the Internet. I’m glad that Carl has started this blog to cast a “baleful eye” on the foolishness that runs rampant here in cyberspace (and elsewhere), and grateful that he’s asked me to be a contributor.

This opportunity comes at a particularly appropriate time for me; if you can imagine 2006 as a long, dark tunnel, then my 50th birthday is the light at the end of it. Yes, this is the year in which I’ll officially be entering middle age (and if it weren’t for my pesky Y chromosome I’d be able to join the Red Hat Society). My mother once noted that as she entered her 50s she started “getting feisty”, and now I’m seeing the same process in myself — I no longer suffer fools gladly (myself included), and CavScrip will provide a nice way for me to vent (and hopefully be entertaining in the process).

Oh, and there WILL be Friday catblogging. Don’t say you weren’t warned.