Saturday, January 23, 2010
Teachings of the BuddhaI've had fun translating this particular passage into both French and Portuguese:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
How can a troubled mind
Understand the way?

Your worst enemy cannot harm you
As much as your own thoughts, unguarded.

But once mastered,
No one can help you as much,
Not even your father or your mother.
from the DHAMMAPADA, translated by Thomas Byrom

Dhammapada (en français)
Nous sommes ce que nous pensons.
Tout ce que nous sommes se pose avec nos pensées.
Avec nos pensées, nous faisons le monde.
Parle ou agit avec un esprit impur
Et le trouble vous suivra
Comme la roue suit le boeuf qui tire la charrette.

Nous sommes ce que nous pensons.
Tout ce que nous sommes se posse avec nos pensées.
Avec nos pensées, nous faisons le monde.
Parle ou agit avec un esprit pur
Et le bonheur suivra
Comme votre ombre, inébranlable.
Comment un esprit troublé
Comprendre le chemin?

Votre pire ennemi ne peut pas vous nuire
Autant que vos propres pensées, sans surveillance.

Mais une fois maîtrisée,
Personne ne peut vous aider autant,
Pas même votre père ou votre mère.

Dhammapada (em português)
Nós somos o que pensamos.
Tudo o que somos surge com nossos pensamentos.
Com nossos pensamentos fazemos o mundo.
Fala ou age com uma mente impura
E problemas irão segui-lo
Como a roda segue o boi que puxa a carroça.

Nós somos o que pensamos.
Tudo o que somos surge com nossos pensamentos.
Com nossos pensamentos fazemos o mundo.
Fala ou age com uma mente pura
E a felicidade vai seguir
Como sua sombra, inabalável.
Como pode uma mente perturbada
Compreender o caminho?

Seu pior inimigo não pode prejudicá-lo
Tanto quanto os seus próprios pensamentos, não guardado.

Mas uma vez dominados,
Ninguém pode ajudá-lo a tanto,
Nem mesmo seu pai ou mãe.

This comes out of a wonderful book I read a couple of years ago, titled Teachings of the Buddha, edited by Jack Kornfield.

The Bare Vault of Talent

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I've an opinion I've been holding in for some days now, but I think it would be best to give it some air. The past few years I've had the pleasure of meeting — if 'meeting' someone online can be called 'meeting' them — several professional writers, folk who make their living at a keyboard. They've all been great people, without exception. When talking about the business, they're honest, which is important when one desires to ply one's living using things as nebulous as words can be.

However — you know there's always an 'however,' there's always an exception — there's one who has grated on me. I'll name no names. I see no need to. The one to whom I refer, their writing is sloppy, imprecise, and stylistically vagrant. This person's online persona, the way they interact with folk, is presumptive and unprofessional, lacking both grace and compassion.

Regarding the writing samples by this person that I have read, both online and in print, if such brute and muddy expression is capable of generating a full-time income, then either the vault of talent is bare or the bank of readers is bankrupt in their perception of good writing. I'm inclined to lay substantial blame at the threshold of the vault of talent: publishers can only withdraw from what they have in reserve, and if the reserve is diluted, polluted, and crass, one cannot fault the readers (unless they simply don't care — and I believe a significant number of them don't, so a small part of the blame lies there, as well).

Making Miéville Blue

Saturday, January 16, 2010
Over at the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog, author China Miéville offers up an intriguing essay titled, "Why the Na’vi Are Making Me Blue," on the current fad of CGI in movies. He speaks in particular to James Cameron's hugely successful Avatar, as well as makes reference to Peter Jackson's work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010
AvatarAvatar, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, is fabulous!

It amazes me the criticisms that some can concoct about any movie. I don't go to a movie to look for what's wrong with it. I don't expect any movie to be perfect — nothing is. I don't go to a movie to be preached at. I don't go to a movie to hear propaganda. Movies, novels, short stories, stage plays, television shows, all have one main purpose: to entertain. If it entertains me without anything else getting in the way of that, then I like it. Period.

I think critics trump up all sorts of reasons to not just praise movies, novels, short stories, stage plays, television shows, etc, but also to criticise them, because they seem to think that they'd short change their audience with a simple: I loved it. Go see it. Their frequently inflated reviews often serve only to justify their existence and purpose as reviewers.

Yes, I love movies that make me think. I'm not one who generally goes for mindless entertainment, but neither is there anything necessarily wrong with it, either.

One opinion I read faulted the film for being 'superficial' in trying to make several points, thus making its message 'diffuse.' 'It can't seem,' the author said, 'to decide if it is about environmentalism, colonialism, the war on terror, and so on -- phrases like "shock & awe" really throw you out of the movie by jarring you away from the story.' (The bit about 'shock & awe' may have been 'jarring' for the author of this opinion, but it wasn't for me. Many movies and television shows often use current terminology to make their stories easier for the audience to relate to. If the phrases don't fit the story, then, yes, there can be a problem. In this case, however, 'shock & awe' was quite appropriate, I think.)

In my opinion, this movie's message was quite clear, and it was successfully conveyed, too, and without being didactic — a huge plus! There were minor messages included in this visual concert, to be sure, but considering that it was 2½ hours long and that the point of any movie, really, is to entertain and not to educate, I think calling its treatment of those messages — both major and minor — 'superficial' is expecting a bit much. Roger Ebert says, 'It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message' — if you've not seen the movie, I wouldn't recommend following that link — and I agree with him.

In my view, any story — no matter what the medium — if it is handled well, conveys at least two different messages: that of the protagonist and that of the antagonist. As to taking sides, that all depends on point-of-view. Prose — novels and short stories — is, by nature, thoroughly imbued with point-of-view. A point-of-view has to be chosen. It can't be avoided. Movies, however, have more difficulty with point-of-view, as they tend to border more on reportage when compared to prose fiction. Movies are closer to a story viewed by an uninterested observer; their point-of-view is conveyed through actor portrayal (which can be subject to viewer interpretation and so isn't always reliable), through focus on given characters, and, more importantly — because this is the most reliable — through the message conveyed by the resolution of the story conflict. This is might be called an unfair comparison, but I think not. Each storytelling medium has its advantages and disadvantages and there is nothing 'unfair' in pointing them out. It's no more 'unfair' to point out that movies are more like reportage than to point out the disadvantage that prose has in having to rely solely on letters and words to create pictures in a reader's mind. Movies are more effective at that than prose for obvious reasons.

This is criticism of criticism, obviously, because I think too much of it is too damned self-important for it's own good.

This is a good movie. It's entertaining. The feats achieved through its 3D effects are well-worth the additional price you'll pay for the ticket.


Sunday, January 10, 2010
KnowingKnowing is, I think, a creepy, but excellent science fiction thriller that has the all-too-rare attributes of portraying events that are — except for the more speculative aspects — very possible. Definitely one to see if you haven't already.

The blurb for this movie reads:

Nicolas Cage stars in this edge of your seat sci-fi thriller as John Koestler, a professor who deciphers a coded message with terrifyingly accurate predictions about every major world disaster. Looking to protect his family and prevent future calamities, he enlists the reluctant help of Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), daughter of the now-deceased author of the prophecies. His quest to understand the messages and his own family's involvement in them becomes a heart-pounding race against time as he faces the ultimate disaster.

Bucket List (Recap)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Back in January 2008, I posted a list of 25 items that I called a "Bucket List." In my original post, I referenced this article at the New York Times. The title "Bucket List" comes from the movie of the same title starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and is a reference to the idiom "kick the bucket." In other words, the items on a "Bucket List" are those things you wish to do before you start pushing up daisies, to use yet another idiom.

One of my goals for this year was to accomplish one of the things on my "Bucket List," so it only seemed appropriate to recap the list. To wit:

  1. Get a novel published/make my living as a writer.
    Technically, "get a novel published" is a dream, not a goal, as it involves something I have no control over. But "make my living as a writer"? I have some measure of control over that, as there are things I can do to move in that direction.

  2. Learn to fly a plane.
    I've always wanted to learn to do this.

  3. See at least one Formula 1 Grand Prix.
    I'm a fan of racing, especially Formula 1, yet I've never been to one. There are two here in North America that I could easily see, one at Indianapolis, Indiana, and one in Toronto, Canada.

  4. Drive a single-seat race car.
    The sort of car found in Formula 1. There are places where you can do this . . . for a price.

  5. See, in person (not on television), all four tennis Grand Slams.
    U.S. Open in New York. French Open in Paris. Australian Open in Melbourne. Wimbledon in England. Those tournaments. The 'majors.'

  6. Finish visiting all 50 States.
    I’ve currently been to 39 of the 50 States in the US, which leaves only 11 for me to visit. They are, in alphabetical order: Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington.

  7. Visit all the countries in the European Union.
    I’ve already been to several, so why not the whole lot? There are currently 27 member states, of which I’ve already visited 8: France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The remaining 19 are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden. Since there are other countries seeking to become member states, the above lists will change as the list of states grows.

  8. Visit any countries in Europe that do not become member states of the European Union.
    In other words, I want to see all of Europe.

  9. Visit all seven continents (North America [to include Central America], South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica) and the Arctic Circle.
    I’m naming and numbering the continents as I learned them when I was in elementary school. I believe they’ve changed this in the intervening years. It doesn’t really matter how they are delineated insofar as I’m concerned.

  10. Travel to at least 100 countries.
    Of course, I want to see more, but I want to set a specific number so that I know when I’ve achieved this goal. I’ll modify it once I hit 100.

  11. Learn to speak at least three languages fluently.
    This does not include English. Since I’ve already started learning French and Portuguese, they are two of the three. As for the third, I’m inclined to learn German, although Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish have risen up on my radar recently.

  12. Go shark-diving off the coast of South Africa.
    What better way to go shark-diving than with a shark, right? That’s what I’d like to do. :P Submerge myself in a cage, with toothy-monsters all around me. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Included with this is a desire to visit a certain shark in her homeland. Now I’m talking about a landborne shark, the sort about whom Shakespeare said, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” :P

  13. Experience zero gravity.
    This is cool, and very, very doable! It involves experiencing zero gravity in the same way astronauts do before they actually go into space, in a plane that is flying in what could be called a sine-wave pattern (or, technically, parabolic flight), to simulate zero gravity. You can learn more about it at http://www.gozerog.com/. At the moment the price of this is $4,950 (+ 5% tax), but it’s also the closest you can currently come to experiencing what space flight is like without the astronomical cost of actually going into space.

  14. Actually go into space (a low-Earth orbit, at the least).
    If commercial space flight becomes possible and affordable before I kick the bucket.

  15. See the Grand Canyon.
    And now I come to the most ‘touristy’ of my goals, which entails visiting — in person, obviously — significant tourist sites and natural wonders. I start with the Grand Canyon, in Arizona.

  16. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

  17. See the Great Pyramids.

  18. See Stonehenge.

  19. See the Taj Majal.

  20. See the Great Wall of China.

  21. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    I accomplished this in 2008.

  22. See the Colosseum in Rome.

  23. See the Mayan Ruins.

  24. See Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.

  25. See the Great Barrier Reef.

As I noted in my original post: "This list is by no means comprehensive. It's more like a start. I've actually started coming up with more items to add, but I wanted a minimum of 25 to put in this post." This now gives me a post tied to this new blog template that I can reference for when I accomplish this goal.

Goals 2010

Monday, January 04, 2010
I've been wondering if I should do a goal post for this blog or not. One thing I hadn't considered when I decided to use this template was my goals, and where I'd stuff 'em. With my previous template, I had a sidebar in which to stuff 'em. I suppose I could stuff 'em in one of the three columns down below, but that'll likely mean rearranging things.

And then there's the goals themselves. I typically write a post rehearsing the previous year's goals, noting where I succeeded and where I failed, and I usually failed more often than succeeded. This year there shall be no rehearsal of last year's goals. I failed miserably. Enough said.

Ah, what the hell. I must be insane. Here's some dumbass goals:

  1. Find a job.
    Goal: A–S–A–fucking–P!
    Yeah, employment would be nice.

  2. Lose weight.
    Goal: 150-159 lbs (68,0-72,1 kgs).
    This might actually happen . . . sometime during the next century! Of course, it would help if I actually did something to make it happen.

  3. Write.
    Goal: 250,000 words.
    At my writing blog, I've detailed a plan to help me achieve this with as little fuss as possible.

  4. Mythology course.
    Goal: Start it; finish it.
    Tried this last year; failed like a son-of-a-bitch, too. Don't like failing. I'm better than that. Don't like making excuses about it, either.

  5. Read.
    Goal: 30-40 books
    At least 20-27 must be fiction. The rest can be anything, fiction or non-fiction.

  6. Learn Portuguese.
    Goal: Start and finish Hugo Portuguese course
    If the past is any indicator, I'll probably do as well at this as at losing weight. Don't hold your breath on this one, though.

  7. Life Goals.
    Goal: Accomplish one item
    I need to review — and perhaps re-post — these. I know I've accomplished at least one of the items.

  8. Folding bicycle.
    Goal: Buy one. This year.
    Once I have a job, of course.

  9. Buy a new MacBook.
    Goal: Also this year.
    Also dependent on the job situation, obviously.

  10. Manual typewriter.
    Goal: This year, of course. This typewriter.
    Also dependent on the job situation, obviously.

  11. 4 x 6 Index Card Cabinet.
    Goal: This year, dammit! Only one, though.
    Or not. I'm not sure, but I thought I'd include this. I've actually come up with a different option that would cost probably as much as the cabinet, or possibly less.

  12. Metal bulletin board for the office.
    Goal: Eight 12" x 12" tiles.
    I'd like to mount them to the outermost door of my office closet. I've recently come up with a vision of how to further modify my office to better accommodate my writing aspirations, and it includes something like this (as well as that card cabinet above).

So, yeah. Now I've got to figure out how the hell to incorporate these into the 'dashboard' below. That should be fun . . . and interesting, too!


Saturday, January 02, 2010
DefianceBased on a true story, Defiance is a powerful movie about the Bielski brothers — Tuvia, Zus, and Asael — Jews from Belorussia who started their own community, a refugee camp of freedom fighters in the forests of Belorussia, during World War II.

The blurb for this movie reads:

Daniel Craig (James Bond: Quantum of Solace) stars as Tuvia Bielski, an ordinary citizen turned hero, in this action-packed epic of family, honor, vengeance and salvation. Defiance is a riveting adventure that showcases the extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers — outnumbered and outgunned — who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters. Tuvia, along with his unyielding brother, Zus (Liev Schreiber, X-men Origins: Wolverine), motivate hundreds of civilians to join their ranks against the Nazi regime. Their "inspirational story" is a true testament to the human spirit.

Garrulus' Travels

Canada ::: England ::: France ::: Germany ::: Greece ::: Guam* ::: Ireland ::: Italy ::: Japan ::: Philippines* ::: Portugal ::: Scotland ::: South Vietnam* ::: Spain ::: Thailand ::: Turkey* ::: Wake Island* ::: Wales :::

Greece — countries where I've lived
Portugal — countries I've visited
* — airport layovers

Goals 2010

  • Find a Job
    date hired: —

  • Lose Weight
    GOAL: 150-159 lbs (68,0 – 72,1 kgs)
    current weight: 192 lbs (87,0 kgs)

  • Write 250,000 words
    53,177 | 21.27% compl.

  • Mythology Course
    date started: Mar 31
    date completed: —

  • Read 30-40 books
    — 20-27 must be fiction —
    11 — fiction
    7 — non-fiction
    18 — TOTAL READ

  • Learn Portuguese
    Complete Hugo Portuguese course
    date started: —
    date completed: —
    vocabulary words: —
    verbs: —

  • Life Goals
    goal achieved: —

  • Folding Bicycle
    Dahon JetStream P8
    date purchased: —

  • MacBook Pro
    13" 2.26GHz MacBook Pro
    date purchased: —

  • Manual Typewriter
    Corona Sterling/Silent of 1940s
    date purchased: —

  • 4 x 6 Index Card Cabinet
    date purchased: —

  • Metal Bulletin Board
    8 Umbra 12" x 12" Tiles
    date purchased: —

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