Cold Ground
email Derryl (replace AT with @)

Places to Go:
Derryl's Fotolog
Fictionwise (reprints of some of Derryl's fiction)
Alyx Dellamonica
Boing Boing
Charlie Stross
Jena Snyder
Making Light
Randy Reichardt

~ Friday, August 30, 2002
Green Terrorists? Bill Berkowitz shows who's been cheapening the memory of 9/11 and just how far some conservative groups will go to win their point, taking advantage of the new fear-laden climate in the US.
~ Thursday, August 29, 2002
Wait... Canada has a warship? (Thanks, Don)
Cory mentioned at boing boing about a goofy site that rants about Evolution, a new show on PBS, as well as harping on the Mac being a tool of Satan. Very funny.

But there's a fabu link at the bottom of that page which takes you to the apparently-being-built-as-we-speak Creation Museum. Check out the "photos"! See T-Rex in the Garden of Eden! For that matter, go here to discover the truth behind T-Rex's secret shame!

And then check out this site for a dose of sanity.
~ Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Weird feeling moment just dropped by: In February the boys and I had a visit from Rob Roy Gray (Jo was at work). Rob was my Aunt Carol's male friend after her divorce, and although the relationship changed to one of strictly friendship, the Murphy clan had more-or-less adopted him as one of our own. Rob grew up here in PG (turns out his mother was once the mayor, although he had never told me this) and he was up from Victoria to visit his sister. He was in bad shape at the time, on oxygen, very tired, but felt that things were going better than they had in some time.

In June, we were on our way to NS for holidays and stopped at my Aunt Janice's place in Calgary the day before our flight. Jan wasn't home yet, and when the phone rang I saw on the caller ID that it was Rob's number. Surprised he'd be phoning, I picked up and said "Rob!" in a half-excited, half-goofy tone of voice. On the other end was Carol, crying and asking who this was. I knew right away that Rob had died. Carol had gone to check on him and found him dead in his bed. He'd gone to sleep, probaby two nights before, and never woke up. We talked for a minute, and I promised her that Jan and my dad would get in touch with her.

So today I'm cleaning up months of email crap from my inbox, over a thousand messages. And sure enough, there's one from Rob. Just a short note thanking me for the visit and telling me he was looking forward to seeing us this summer.

I'll delete it. Not tonight, but I will. I just need to sit on it a while longer.
~ Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Another thought that occurred to me while I was mowing the lawn is that aliens are our boogeymen these days, not demons. Gone are the days of The Exorcist and The Omen, films that played on fears of demonic possession. Movies along those lines today tend not to go as far at the box office (I think here of Schwarzenegger's movie End of Days). Movies and TV about aliens do, though, X-Files being the prime example. I guess my thought here is that Night is trying to scare us using the zeitgeist; religion on TV or in movies tends to be of the Touched by an Angel variety, and scares as of late come mostly from splattery sources.
Possible spoiler warning; if you have not seen Signs but intend to, you may not wish to read on.

There has been a lot of discussion in the science fiction community about M. Night Shyamalan's latest film, not all of it positive. For one take on that, go to this review by Claude Lalumière in Locus Online.

Joël Champetier, a science fiction writer from Quebec, the other day posted something so obvious that I thought my head would cave in, I smacked it so hard. I had known from the start that the movie was emphatically notan alien-invasion film, but rather a story about loss and renewal of faith and family. The aliens were incidental, at the time there because I thought that Night was saluting his childhood love of B-movies.

So you would think, since I walked out of the film knowing in my heart of hearts that this was a film about faith, that I would have noticed that the aliens were, in effect, demons or devils. That the glasses of water were holy water. And, to directly quote Joël now, the aliens could be "killed by a baseball bat manipulated by the Parsifal-like character of Joachim Phoenix, a believer and true of heart, to save the soul of his unbelieving brother, since saving the son will bring back faith to the father."

Well, duh. Can't believe I missed it.

And then he takes it further, pointing out that demons (aliens, whatever; the two are now officially interchangeable) can not be stopped by force. Rather, the hand of God must intervene. Think of the germs in War of the Worlds, or the computer virus in Independence Day.

It has also been pointed out to me that Night couldn't have known about farming, since pretty much the entire farmhouse was surrounded by fields of corn. Indeed, Night is probably not a farmer, but he does live in the area of Pennsylvania where the film was made, and so it's fairly safe to say that yes, he was aware of this fact. Rather, I choose to interpret the cornfields as the wall Father Graham (Mel Gibson's character) has surrounded himself with, against the outside world that has caused him so much pain, a wall that enables to Forces of Darkness to encroach on his life.

There are still some remarkable images that stick with me from this film: the first time the baby monitor really picks things up, the whole family has to work together, be in physical contact with each other, and reach up towards heaven; so many shots of Graham have him dead center, showing us that no matter what he thinks, he is the rock, the very focal point of a deeply-wounded family - and by extension, of his family in Christ; and of course the moment when he turns the TV set and we see the alien reflected in the darkness of the blank screen.

The conservative view of religion and of God that comes through in this picture irks some people. Why does Graham's wife have to die in such a horrible fashion, just so she can pass on the clue that he needs to save his son? Predestination can be tricky ground, and frankly, I think making a movie about it does not necessarily mean belief in it. I could be wrong, of course, but I think that even though events were kicked into gear by a higher power, said events required action by Graham. Whether or not he chose to ignore the signs, he would be exercising free will. perhaps the outcome would be different (likely), but he still had the choice. But he remembered what his wife said as she was dying, he put two and two together, and in one sudden epiphany he regained his faith.
~ Monday, August 26, 2002
I wish this had more pictures. The collection of sign names is dandy, but really, more pictures would have helped, I'm thinking. (via Making Light)
Right. I've flushed netcomment, since they've been unavailable for more than a day, and when I went to look they weren't even there anymore. Doorknobs. I'm using Haloscan instead (there's a link at the bottom). This time the comments show up above the posting, although it's beyond me why there's one above the day's date as well.
Another test
And again I test
Randy just sent this to me: "CanonicalTomes is a volunteer-created, volunteer-administered, and user-contributed database of books or other works which define their respective domains. The hope is that in time, someone approaching a field for the first time, or someone from within the field looking for the best reference will find herein the consensus of their peers."

Hmm. Just had a look at the SF section, and I have to say it's largely a joke right now. I'll delve more into why later.
The Chickenhawk Database. For those interested in US politics (which I am; I love the silly stuff as much as I love our own), this is a great list of folks who support a hawk-like stance (most notably right now with Iraq) but never had the guts or gumption to actually serve their country when they had the chance. Some of the excuses are priceless, such as Rush Limbaugh's anal cysts.
Here's a great joke from James Morrow, sent to me by Michael Bishop:

"Q: What's the difference between a science fiction writer and a pizza?

"A: A pizza can feed a family of four."
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