Hmmm... that's interesting.

Articles and other literary ticklers.

My Photo
Location: Mandaluyong, Philippines

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Miracles in Iran quake rubble
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 9:36 p.m. ET Dec. 29, 2003

BAM, Iran - As search crews despaired of finding more survivors from Iran's devastating earthquake, Monday brought moments of hope and reports of miracles: Rescuers pulled a girl out alive from the rubble of her caved-in house, and three men believed dead stirred in their white burial shrouds.

Rescuers using an electronic search device found the girl soon after sunrise Monday, unconscious and with a broken leg, an Iranian relief worker said.

"The only reason she remained alive was because the roof had not totally collapsed," said the worker, Shokrollah Abbasi. "There was air for her to breathe. We found her in the kitchen. There was a plate of rice near her, and it appeared to me that the food had helped her remain alive."

He said the girl appeared to be about 12 years old. The body of a woman and a boy were found in the same house.

'He's alive'
Meanwhile, an Iranian cleric brought in to help bury the dead said that mistakes were made in the haste to bury victims in mass graves hollowed out by bulldozers to prevent widespread outbreaks of disease.

Hojatoleslam Mojtaba Zonnor, a clergyman from the seminary town of Qom, described how, three times in the space of five hours Monday, he was reciting the final prayers for unidentified men wrapped in shrouds when their bodies moved. The first time it happened, "my friends were taking the body to place it in the grave," he said.

"Then they thought there was a movement. They called a doctor. After a brief examination, the doctor said, 'He's not dead. He's alive.' And they took him out of the shroud and put him in an ambulance and took him away."

Zonnor, one of about 500 clergymen from across Iran who came to help bury the dead, said the exact situation happened twice more.

News reports Monday also said a toddler was found alive in the arms of her dead mother. The mother’s protective embrace had shielded the child from falling debris and saved her life. The rest of the infant's family was found dead.

"She was in good health," a senior Red Crescent Society official told Reuters.

The miracle rescues came as Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mohammad Khatami paid separate condolence visits Monday to Bam, a city of 80,000 people surrounded by citrus groves and dotted with date palms.

"All of us are responsible to meet the demands of the survivors," Khamenei told people in the streets. "Aid should continue to come so that, God willing, the city of Bam is rebuilt better and this time stronger than before. We can build a strong and developed city out of this devastation."

Khatami appealed for international help, saying relief provided by Iran's government and its people would not be enough.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Century edge
Posted: 2:02 AM (Manila Time) | Dec. 22, 2003
By Ruel S. De Vera
Inquirer News Service

'Brave, bold step'

"Siglo: Freedom"
Edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Vin Simbulan
Mango Books, Quest Ventures and Kestrel IMC, Inc.
2003, 140 pages

ONE look at the elegantly spare cover, and readers will know that "Siglo: Freedom" is unlike anything else out there. Nothing indicates that it is a collection of comic-book stories. The loaded title, the beguiling design -everything about "Siglo" says this is a project that takes itself very seriously.

And readers should take it seriously as well, because "Siglo" is a brave, bold step forward for Philippine comic books.

The first in what is intended to be a yearly series of anthologies, "Siglo" is the brainchild of the people who crafted the prize-winning anthology "Isaw, Atbp." They have evolved that narrative effort into a more mature, more daring form. The project challenges popular ideas of what a comic book is and isn't.

Pushing the envelope is an impressive and diverse collection of comic book talent: Gerry Alanguilan, Dean Francis Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Arnold Arre, Jason Banico, Marco Dimaano, Andrew Drilon, Honoel Ibardolaza, Lan Medina, Elbert Or, Vin Simbulan and Carlo Vergara.

"There are no men in tights flying through our panels, or young geniuses firing lasers from their giant robots to fight off alien invasions," the editors write in their introduction. "But that does not mean we have a shortage of heroes. On the contrary, you will find tales of the courage and heroism of ordinary people as they struggle to attain their own unique brand of freedom."

Escapist it isn't

Obviously this is very serious stuff, so readers looking for escapist escapades should head elsewhere. It's so literary, it would easily be considered pretentious if it didn't work. But work it does.

Each set in a different time and place in Philippine history (and future), from Jolo in 1913 to Manila in 2004, the 10 tales in "Siglo" tackle a different vision of the quest for freedom, told through the writers' and artists' unique perspective. Staged in black-and-white and told mostly in English, each tale showcases the creators' diverse strengths and distinctive storytelling qualities.

Dean Alfar and Drilon's opening story juxtaposes the learning of a new alphabet with the painful lessons of a people's subjugation. Nikki Alfar and Dimaano's second story puts one woman's quiet liberation next to a man's loud call to arms.

Banico and Ibardolaza's take on a stage magician's fateful trip to Cebu is a parable in the tragedy of smoke and mirrors. Simbulan and Or's post-martial law story is a personal journey of living beyond a father's considerable shadow.

Delivering a punch

The stories are accessible and well-crafted, but the solo tales, written and illustrated by a single creator, deliver a particularly palpable punch.

The most lighthearted of the otherwise heavy stories, Dimaano's romantic tech tale, is sweet and heartfelt, much like his "Angel Ace" high jinks. Alanguilan's gritty take on a collaborator's change of heart, however, is as violent and as illuminating as his best work in "Wasted."

Arre's foreboding look at the future is a bracing, hypnotic visual departure from his usual work, though the message remains vintage Arre, classic and new in its own way.

Ibardolaza, also an award-winning writer of children's stories, displays a stunning range of visual style by conjuring a playful, wistful and perhaps heartbreaking portrait of young friendship amid the sugarcanes.

It is only right to pay special attention to the solo stories from two young but prime talents. Or's subtle unraveling of the scenes behind an arranged Chinatown marriage in the 1950s is a study in generational differences and in the efficiency of clean, solid storytelling.

Drilon's chaotic, noisy, dark roller-coaster ride through a wired, tangled techno-trapped metropolis provides a rousing, disturbing, fitting finishing kick to this ambitious anthology.

A thoughtful trip

The 10 stories stand apart and yet obviously follow one another, leading readers on a thoughtful trip through these disparate eras in Philippine past, present and future. And though the tales are patently works of fiction, something does ring authentic and convincingly true in the creators' aching portrayal of how freedom has been sought, sometimes attained, sometimes denied. It all feels so real.

Beyond just the collective talent in this collection, it is the singular vision of, the big picture being drawn by, "Siglo's" creators that pulls powerfully at the reader. Honest and edgy, it is that big idea whose time has come; the kind of comic book other comic-book people talk about all the time but never actually make.

It will be valuable to note that comic-book fans and non-comic book fans will be able to recognize good work when they see it, as the straightforward yet inventive storytelling in "Siglo" will appeal to serious readers. Don't expect any fluff. Don't expect fantasy.

There are times when readers can immediately identify that crucial step forward in a genre's evolution. Behold the footstep. A powerful collection of tales from a journey that is both fragmented and yet undeniably connected, "Siglo: Freedom" is a passionate paean to a people's seemingly endless search for the many things that have proven both invaluable and elusive.

Available at all Comic Quest branches.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Secrets to Simple Entertaining
by Rozanne Gold

Dining rooms may have become endangered species in our homes -- along with butler's pantries and libraries -- but entertaining needn't depend on formality any longer.

Keeping it simple makes it possible for everyone, from the novice to the veteran, to do it in style and, more importantly, to do it often. Says my sister-in-law Gail, who had five parties at her beautiful, but snug, Hoboken, New Jersey, apartment last weekend (including lunch and dinner on Saturday for different guests!), "the more you do it, the easier it gets."

Every affair needn't be an extravaganza. There are many styles, including sit-down dinners, buffets and kitchen parties. Try a wine tasting party instead of the more traditional cocktail-hors d'oeuvres regime, have an old-fashioned Sunday dinner at 4pm instead of a more predictable Saturday night meal, or invite friends for an informal brunch on the lawn.

We each have a style. Each style has its idiosyncrasies. Know them. Respect them. Flaunt them. Here are eight suggestions to get you started.

• If you're not a great cook, choose recipes or menus that feel familiar and focus on some other aspect of the event (tabletop, flowers, conversation).

• Don't overextend the cocktail hour, or your evening will lose focus. Keep it to no more than 30 minutes from the time your last guest arrives, or one hour total.

• Limit the kinds of hors d'oeuvres you serve to no more than three, or you'll befuddle the appetite.

• Buy great bread.

• Inject a surprise to liven things up. Champagne sorbet or a trou normand (swig of Calvados) at mid-meal, a spectacular piece of cheese with fruit before dessert, or two separate dessert courses all give the evening a lift.

• Don't invite guests to another room for dessert and coffee. You'll dissolve the "social glue" that's holding your party together.

• If you don't want to make dessert, buy it, and garnish it in a special way.

• If you don't care much for serving or cleaning up, hire a waiter. But even the King of France in the 18th Century, after dismissing the servants at the end of a party at Versailles, himself served coffee to his guests.

And don't forget that the way a meal is served is a fascinating variable in entertaining, for the very same menu can feel formal or casual depending on how dishes are presented. Menus can be plated in the kitchen and placed directly on the table. Home entertaining is usually agreeable to family-style service, where platters are placed directly on the table and passed from guest to guest. Think about incorporating more than one style into a meal. It provides choreographic interest for the guests and alleviates bottlenecks in the kitchen.

Overcoming Pre-Party Panic
by Ms. Demeanor

Q: I have difficulty determining whether to open gifts at parties or not (with the exception of a bridal or baby shower). For example, we tend to host small casual parties frequently. When someone walks in with a wrapped gift (usually wine or champagne), do I open it there? Is the gift a thank-you gift or is it a real gift? Do I need to send a thank-you note for it? Am I supposed to serve the wine or champagne they've given that night?

Along the same lines, I would like a resource to help me fully plan a party. I find that in the final three hours, I can't pull it all together between the vacuuming, my appearance, the last-minute meal assembly. I always have someone show up exactly on time, too. I am at such an intense stage of preparation, I can't easily delegate tasks. What can I do to make things run more smoothly?

A: When guests show up for a casual party or a dinner, the gifts they bring are basically "hostess gifts." It's not a good idea to open them on the spot because it might be embarrassing for the other guests who came empty-handed. When the gift is wine, there really is no reason to drink it at the party. A good guest, though, will be savvy enough to say something like, "Here's something for you to enjoy later." And no, you needn't send a thank you note, as the gift was given to thank you for the invitation.

Everybody gets flapped when they entertain. Perhaps you're biting off more than you can chew? Is there a way you can simplify your parties? (For instance, instead of trying to do a sit-down dinner for ten on Friday night after work, invite fewer people for a more intimate dinner, or hold a crowd-pleasing buffet on Saturday, when you have all day to prepare. And no one is going to give you a bad-hostess citation if you serve a few gourmet "ready-mades" instead of cooking everything from scratch.)

I've always used this trick to help prepare for parties and avoid last-minute angst over forgotten items: Ten days ahead, write the menu course-by-course, then, next to each course, write down what you'll need for it. That means ingredients, serving dishes and utensils, condiments. Even if it's a soup-and-salad supper, taking the time to do a detailed list when you're not rushed will save lots of time later.

Finally, here are some ways to get organized the night before and not feel so time-pressed the day of the event:

1. Set your table and put out whatever things you'll need ready in the kitchen to prepare and serve -- serving plates, ingredients that don't need to be refrigerated and so on.

2. Do whatever prep work you can -- for instance, wash salad greens and wrap them in paper towels, then put in plastic bags to refrigerate.

3. Put anything you need for the bar out, too: mixers, wine, soft drinks. If the bar will be self-serve, lay it out where it will be used.

4. Get coffee service ready by putting mugs or cups, empty creamer and sugar bowl on a tray, together with spoons.

5. The night before a party always seems to be a late one for me and often I go on adrenaline the day of the party. However, it sure cuts down on last-minute pressure!

One final note to guests: Never, ever show up early for a party!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Filipino American heirs to Spanish nobility recognized
Rita Villadiego, Dec 10, 2003

WHEN Reyes Arevalo, 54, A Filipino American heir to Spanish nobility, got a letter from Spain’s Cabinet of the Armed Forces (Cuartel general del Ejercito Gabinete del General) recently, he wept.

"I just can't believe, they're recognizing us," said. Arevalo who was in a hospital when he got the news from his daughter, Cara Maria Margarita.

The letter contained documents from Spain's General Military Archives, outlining a big vineyard and other properties in Cadiz, Spain that should have been inherited by his grandfather, Don Julio Arevalo, the son of the Spanish Governor General to the Philippines in 1859.

A copy of the former general’s last will and testament showed he had bestowed 2,000 escudo (gold) coins to his son Don Julio , the vineyard and properties in Cadiz. Those gold alone are worth millions today.

The letter was addressed to Cara Maria Margarita. It was a sweet but partial victory for the heirs who for decades struggled to research their ancestor’s past.

"This research was the biggest gift to us because we were always away and treated at arms length. But to be bitter was never Dad's role.

If there was a vast wealth that my father gave us, it is the unquestionable love we have for each other," says Cara Maria Margarita, 28, a self-made businesswoman based in Washington, D.C. and Cherry Hill, N.J.

For decades, the Arevalo family documented, and struggled to have their story told but because of fear of political dynasties in the Philippines, their grandparents were ignored by government officials.

Unlike their cousins (the Bayot clan) who took over his grandfather's estate in the Philippines, and who were educated in the best schools in Manila and Spain, Reyes Arevalo grew up in the impoverished province of Masbate, as a simple salaried man, untouched by lavishness which royalty normally lives with.

When he immigrated to the U.S., Arevalo was hired as a staff of the late King Hussein of Jordan in Washington, D.C. Rubbing elbows with diplomats in D.C. polished his children into cultured and gracious persons.

Faced with harsh political realities in the Philippines, U.S.-born Juan Carlos Arevalo, president of Royal Archives and great, great grandson of Juan Martin, said their privileges were "threatened, unprotected and taken away" because of illegal government dynamics in the Philippines.

The younger Arevalo and his sister Cara wrote a letter to President Geroge W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople informing them of their bloodline and claim to the properties. He got a letter from President Bush a few weeks ago to acknowledge the documents he sent and assured him of his help.

The older Arevalo said their family discovered their lineage through extensive documents provided by the military archives of Segovia, Spain.

The family's story will be made into a documentary film by independent film maker Connie Bottinelli. She has documented the life story of Jessica Savage of NBC and King Tut of Egypt and is currently making films about missing people of Bosnia war, and Precious Cargo about World War ll veterans who found secret documents from a Japanese plane expected to be partially shot in Mindanao and Negros, Philippines.

"This could be a mini-series feature. The story has tremendous potential," Bottinelli said in an interview. "It's a love story, a legacy, intrigue, greed, murder. It's a life and death story," she said. Initial filming began last October.

Loyalist to the crown

Backed with authentic Spanish documents, Cara Maria Margarita said their great great grandfather Don Juan Martin De Arevalo Gomez Y Requena of Cadiz, Spain, was the son of a Royal Sir.

Don Juan's father headed the Paz and Esmeralda frigate expedition against Emperor Napoleon's army. He was also treasurer of the fortification of Cadiz for King Ferdinand Vll, was a trusted military adviser to the Queen, and a recipient of several distinctive awards from the crown.

The Governor General was one of the military leaders who suppressed the largest military rebellion in Fort Santiago, now a famous tourist site in the Philippines. He was given a medal of excellence, the Cross of Queen Isabel l. The Govenor General was also a military captain who stopped a Muslim rebellion in Jolo, Mindanao in 1846.

Philippine history books have omitted the Governor General's role in history. He was murdered in Taytay, Palawan in 1863.

The heirs are set to file civil cases in the U.S., Spain and in the Philippines to claim the estate and military benefits of their great great grandfather.

Lawyer Natalie Dziobczynski who examined the documents said official communication, from the Supreme Tribunal of War as approved by Queen Isabel II, gave funds to the governor general’s widow, Anastacia Dominguez, and his only son Don Julio.

Dziobcynski said that under U.S. law, the estate needs a formal accounting and audit as to who received the remittances from Spain and how it was spent.

If the money is owed to the sole heir, it needs to be accounted for.

Queen's lover?

The heirs have unearthed a damaging story, that their great, great grandfather may have had a relationship with Spain’s deposed Queen Isabel II. They have come out to establish their birthright and redeem the general’s role in history. Arevalo was twice bestowed, the Order of San Hermenegildo, the highest award given to someone with outstanding conduct for their royal and military contribution to Spain, by Queen Isabel II.

A few months after he died, his Spanish-Filipino fiance Atanacia Dominguez, bore him a son Julio Dominguez Arevalo. Dominguez pressured the church to marry her to Arevalo even after the latter had died in a ceremony called Articulo Mortis, (marriage after death) to legitimize the birth of their only child and collect a generous estate for life called Delegada de Pagos.

Lawyers of the Arevalos said the marriage dated April 8, 1863 should be declared as valid. Since the marriage was valid, Don Julio was a legitimate child and rightful heir to the military benefits and honors awarded to his father, Don Juan Martin.

The Monte Pio (generous military estate) was approved by the monarchy and included annual royal gold mint currency called escudos. Dominguez, a widow, had a much older son from her previous marriage to Don Joaquin Maria Bayot.

Spanish records showed that she used her marriage certificate to beg the Justice Ministry of war and the Public Lands to establish her relationship with Arevalo and made her son, Francisco Maria Bayot, from her previous marriage, as the official executor of the governor’s benefits thereby depriving the only heir, Julio, his.

Dziobcynski said since the Order of San Hermenegildo, the highest award given to someone with outstanding conduct for their royal and military contribution to Spain, by Queen Isabel II.

A few months after he died, his Spanish-Filipino fiance Atanacia Dominguez, bore him a son Julio Dominguez Arevalo.

Dominguez pressured the church to marry her to Arevalo even after the latter had died in a ceremony called Articulo Mortis, (marriage after death) to legitimize the birth of their only child and collect a generous estate for life called Delegada de Pagos.

Lawyers of the Arevalos said the marriage dated April 8, 1863 should be declared as valid. Since the marriage was valid, Don Julio was a legitimate child and rightful heir to the military benefits and honors awarded to his father, Don Juan Martin.

The Monte Pio (generous military estate) was approved by the monarchy and included annual royal gold mint currency called escudos. Dominguez, a widow, had a much older son from her previous marriage to Don Joaquin Maria Bayot.

Spanish records showed that she used her marriage certificate to beg the Justice Ministry of war and the Public Lands to establish her relationship with Arevalo and made her son, Francisco Maria Bayot, from her previous marriage, as the official executor of the governor’s benefits thereby depriving the only heir, Julio, his.

Dziobcynski said since Bayot was made an official executor, he should have made the funds available to the rightful heirs. An official auditing and accounting has to be done under the law.

Julio Arevalo, whose death was never established. had nine children.

The youngest, Jesus Arevalo, Sr. is the heirs' grandfather. With the Spanish influence on land-grabbing in the Philippines and the power of the rich trampling the rights of the poor, we believe that a heavy case of transgressions, force and manipulations, and suppressions of feelings transpired during the time of our great grandfather, Don Julio until his death, the heirs said.

The book The Tenacious Dynasty of the Bourbon written by John Bergemini and published in the U.S. in 1974, related that Queen Isabel II, who was arranged to marry her effeminate cousin King Consort Francisco de Asis, had passionate love affairs with members of the military and the latter was known to have plotted several assassination attempts against her.

The book also revealed that the Queen gave birth to illegitimate children.
The Queen sent several love letters to Arevalo. She declined to approve a royal license that would allow Arevalo to marry Ms. Dominguez.

Most of these letters are kept by the heirs both in the Philippines and the U.S.

Ruben Arevalo, an uncle of the heirs based in the Philippines said in a phone interview that his late father, Jesus had discovered the documents in their old house.

That compelled them to initiate a probe.

The Order of San Hermenegildo, was given by the Queen, specifically to Arevalo, during the births of Princess Maria Isabel (1851) who was the crown princess and heiress, and Alfonso XII (1857), who became king, and the great, great grandfather of the reigning King Juan Carlos.

Because of her illicit affairs and military favoritism, Queen Isabel II was forced to flee Spain in 1868 and banished to France where she died in 1904.

The remains of the governor — which have been pinpointed through the documents — have been buried in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, hidden in a newly built opulent resort, dedicated to Queen Isabel ll, called Club Noah Isabelle.

The heirs are asking permission to bury the governor's remains with a noble military ceremony in Spain.

"If we have to reconstruct the truth of our lives, there would not be enough tears.

The years involved in this research and paper work cannot compensate the hurt Don Julio suffered. As we read every document, we feel him peering through and crying with us. We're proud of this contribution because we feel the same pain," said Cara and Juan Carlos.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Ghostly image at Britain's Hampton Court
Surveillance footage shows spooky figure shutting doors

A costumed figure stands in a doorway at Hampton Court Palace in southwest London in this image caught on closed circuit television and released by the Palace Friday.

LONDON - Are there ghostly goings-on at Henry VIII’s palace, or is that hazy image of a fellow in fancy robes just a bit of Christmas cheer?

Closed-circuit security cameras at Hampton Court Palace, the huge Tudor castle outside London, seem to have snagged an ethereal visitor. Could it be a ghost?

“We’re baffled too — it’s not a joke, we haven’t manufactured it,” said Vikki Wood, a Hampton Court spokeswoman, when asked if the photo the palace released was a Christmas hoax. “We genuinely don’t know who it is or what it is.”

Wood said security guards had seen the figure in closed-circuit television footage after checking it to see who kept leaving open one of the palace’s fire doors.

In the still photograph, the figure of a man in a robelike garment is shown stepping from the shadowy doorway, one arm reaching out for the door handle.

The area around the man is somewhat blurred, and his face appears unnaturally white compared with his outstretched hand.

“It was incredibly spooky because the face just didn’t look human,” said James Faukes, one of the palace security guards.

“My first reaction was that someone was having a laugh, so I asked my colleagues to take a look. We spoke to our costumed guides, but they don’t own a costume like that worn by the figure. It is actually quite unnerving,” Faukes said.

Popular tourist attraction
The palace, built in 1525 on the River Thames 10 miles west of central London, is a popular tourist attraction and some of the guides wear costumes of the Tudor period.

Wood said she was hoping people would come forward with similar stories and try to explain the figure.

The palace has been the scene of many dramatic royal events, and already is supposed to have a few ghosts.

King Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, died there giving birth to a son, and her ghost is said to walk through one of the cobbled courtyards carrying a candle.

Her son, Edward, had a nurse called Sibell Penn who was buried in the palace grounds in 1562. In 1829 her tomb was disturbed by building work, and around the same time an odd whirring noise began to be heard in the southwest wing of the palace. When workmen traced the strange sounds to a brick wall, they uncovered a small forgotten room containing an old spinning wheel, just like the one Penn used to use.

Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, condemned for adultery, was held at the palace under house arrest before her execution at the Tower of London. An 1897 book about the palace says she was reportedly seen, dressed in white and floating down one of the galleries uttering unearthly shrieks.

The palace was once a prison for King Charles I, who later was beheaded, and then home to his nemesis Oliver Cromwell, who briefly ruled when Britain was for a short time a republic.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Gaffes: Fellowship of the Nitpickers
A Web site traces Peter Jackson’s every step—and misstep

NewsweekDec. 1 issue - It ain’t easy making movies. Tiny blunders—the kind normal folks don’t notice—get made all the time. But nothing escapes the hawks at For kicks, NEWSWEEK ran the site's best catches past Peter Jackson to get his side of the screw-up.


Blunder No. 1: "During the scene with Sam and Frodo in the field with a scarecrow, you can plainly see a car cruising past in the distance, from left to right."
Jackson: We actually didn’t know about the car until we were cutting the movie. The smoke [from the exhaust] and dust wasn't so bad because there was already lots of it around, but the bloody windshield was reflecting the sun back into the camera lens. So we erased it for the DVD. I think some people were upset because they tried to show it to their friends and it was gone.

Blunder No. 2: "While Arwen is carrying Frodo to the Ford, a close-up of his face shows his eyes and mouth covered in a green, pus-type substance. Moments later, his face is clean."
Jackson: Yeah, we started with the pus and then we got just a bit revolted by it. So we eased back on the pus. We didn't think Elijah looked very good with pus.

Blunder No. 3: "When Arwen and Frodo are being chased on horseback by the Ringwraiths, the soundtrack to the scene is a cantering horse. A canter is three beats, whereas a gallop—which is what the horses on screen are doing—is four very fast beats that often sound like a single beat."
Jackson: I should've—well, it’s too late to fire anyone. The damage has been done.

Blunder No. 4: "When the hobbits enter Bree, there's a distance shot from above in which the principal actors have clearly been replaced by shorter doubles. Also, the sizes of the doubles are completely wrong. The last hobbit into Bree is really, really fat—and he isn’t even the double for Sam, who’s the stockiest of the hobbits. It's actually Merry, who's very thin."
Jackson: [ Giggles ] It's true. There are definitely little doubles in that shot, and we did have four standard hobbits who were all about four feet high. So if you’re really paying attention, there are shots where you can sense that someone's body shape is suddenly slightly different.

Blunder No. 5: "During the scene in which the hobbits ask Strider where he's taking them, he answers, 'Into the wild.' A second later, as Viggo Mortensen walks past the camera, the bow he carries on his back bumps into the camera, nudging the screen a bit."
Jackson: It does, yeah. But it was the best take. We did three or four takes, and for various reasons his movement past the camera just wasn't as dynamic. So I chose the one that has a little bit of a bump. I was just hoping people wouldn't notice. [ Laughs ] This is fun.


Blunder No. 1: “As people are fleeing Edoras, there are many shots of Eowyn—and in all of them, her hairstyle is different.”
Jackson: [ Laughs ] That shouldn’t be! Maybe it was the wind. It was really windy there.

Blunder No. 2: “The Uruk-hai are these huge, ferocious, twisted, unbelievably strong warriors—and yet the hobbits keep laying them out by tossing rocks at them.”
Jackson: In the books, hobbits are renowned for stone-throwing, so I guess if you’re going to rely on somebody to bring down an Uruk-hai with a stone, it’d be a hobbit.

Blunder No. 3: “When Saruman is talking to Sauron through the palantir, his lips aren’t moving.”
Jackson: Well, that’s because he’s engaged in a psychic session. That was deliberate.

Blunder No. 4: “In shots of Fangorn Forest from a distance, it’s an evergreen forest. Seen from up close or inside, it’s a deciduous forest.”
Jackson: Wow. Well, when you see it from the outside, it’s a real beech forest on the South Island of New Zealand. But seen from the inside, it’s a miniature forest that we built. [ Pause ] You’ve got pages and pages there. And those are all mistakes they’ve spotted?

Mortensen Got Role at Last Minute
Dec 15, 1:17 PM EST
Associated Press

Viggo Mortensen was never supposed to be the man who would be king.

When director Peter Jackson started filming "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy in October 1999, he had another actor cast as the warrior Aragorn, a reluctant hero whose courage and royal bloodline help defeat the ancient evil of Sauron.

That was Stuart Townsend, a then 26-year-old Irish actor who later appeared in "The Queen of the Damned" and last summer's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

But once work began on "The Lord of the Rings," Jackson said it became clear that Townsend was too youthful to convey the sense of wisdom and world-weariness needed for Aragorn.

So he dropped him — with a cast and crew of thousands assembled in New Zealand and a budget of $270 million on the line.

"We had to make a very hard decision very quickly, without having anyone else cast," Jackson said.

Days passed with tensions rising as Jackson and crew busied themselves filming Hobbit sequences that didn't require Aragorn. But the three films — "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King," were being shot simultaneously — and they needed a king to return, fast.

The rugged, soft-spoken Mortensen, then 41, agreed to take the role.

"The best thing I can say about it is I didn't have any time to get nervous. I just had to do it," he says more than four years later, sipping tea beside a massive, shady tree in Los Angeles.

"In retrospect, that was probably a good thing. The downside is I was worried for quite a while about letting others down. I didn't want to be the guy who, when you saw the movie, you said: 'Good movie ... but THAT guy ..." He rolled his eyes.

Jackson said Mortensen's involvement was "fate dealing us a very good card." "He's an actor with huge integrity and professional responsibility, and once he's committed to a movie he's there for you morning, noon and night," the director said. "It doesn't matter what time of the day it is. It doesn't matter how long you've been working."

That work ethic helped the newcomer quickly earn the respect of his fellow castmates.

In the public mind, however, he was still somewhat obscure.

Mortensen's first role was as an Amish farmer in the 1985 Harrison Ford thriller "Witness," and he had notable roles as hunks opposite Demi Moore in 1997's "G.I. Jane" and with Julianne Moore in the 1998 "Psycho" remake.

He also earned a living with roles in B-movies such as "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III" and "The Prophecy," in which he played a handsome, moody Devil.

After the success of the first two installments of "The Lord of the Rings," he's ambivalent about his newfound fame. He credits it with helping him land another lead role, as a horseman in the upcoming Disney adventure "Hidalgo," but his heartthrob status seems like a distraction to him.

"It doesn't help me do a better job and doesn't have much to do with my personal life or work life, so I'm a little bit removed," he said. "Sometimes it seems a bit strange, but all in all it's flattering and certainly nicer than hearing that everybody hates you."

And it's certanly nice that his star status has attracted attention to his other endeavors as a poet, photographer, painter and publisher.

It has even carried over to other artists at his publishing company, Perceval Press. "I'm using that strange phenomenon of public attention to accomplish good things," he said.

A frequent critic of the Bush administration, Mortensen said part of what appealed to him about "The Lord of the Rings" was its positive message about integrity in leadership.

"Everyone thinks (Aragorn) is the man for the job, because he has humility, a concern with the consequences of his actions and words on others and an interest in finding common ground with other people. All are qualities which I wish there were more of in real life in our modern-day leaders. There's an unfortunate lack of humility and overabundance of arrogance."

He's not sure whether that message is apparent to most audiences. "I think you get what you want out of the story."

As he speaks, Mortensen's expression can best be described as fierce mellowness, as if he is focusing very hard to stay relaxed.

His "Rings" colleagues say below that restrained exterior is a surprising amount of confidence, energy and intensity. While others slacked, he remained aggressive.

"I'd say he was very much a leader," said Liv Tyler, who plays Elf Princess Arwen.

He was so dedicated to getting into character that he went everywhere with his character's sword, she said, adding: "He kept his sword in his car and drove around with the sword all the time."

Arwen shares a war-torn romance with the human Aragorn, and since they had few scenes together she said he was always trying to add extra depth to their exchanges.

"For our love scenes, he would come to me the night before and say he wanted to change all the lines to the Elvish language. He was trying to make that connection stronger, and I thought it was beautiful that they'd speak Elvish to each other because it adds a layer to their history that you wouldn't otherwise see."

In Mortensen's real-life love life, he once was married to Exene Cervenka, a singer with the rockabilly-punk band X; they divorced in 1997.

Their son, Henry, now 15, was the one who urged Mortensen to take the role of Aragorn.

Part of Henry's reward was joining the cast. He has played a villainous orc, a heroic Gondorian and a young soldier of Rohan in some of the battle sequences.

Asked if his teenage son is impressed to have Aragorn for a dad, the actor wrinkles his face.

"Ehhh ... he has a healthy amount of disrespect for me and every other adult," he said. "That comes with being that age. If it was otherwise I would think there is something wrong with him."

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Bow-Lingual, the electronic dog translator

Up until now, your relationship with little Muttley has been pretty much a one-way street. You talk and she gazes dopily back. You occasionally wonder, "What in the blazes is going on in that dog's mind?"

Now, you can know — or at least imagine you know — what's cooking in the pooch's noodle, with a $99.95 Takara Bow-Lingual electronic dog translator.

The device is the result of work by Japan Acoustic Laboratory president Matsumi Suzuki, who analyzed dogs' voiceprints, and Norio Kogure, executive director of Kogure Veterinary Hospital. They devised what they claim is the first "Animal Emotion Analysis Analysis System," recording barks of hundreds of breeds and analyzing thousands of voice (bark) prints to come up with six communication categories, based on dogs' emotions: happy, frustrated, sad, assertive, needy and angry.

The Bow Lingual involves two pieces of hardware (in bright blue or fire-hydrant red): one for you (the translator/receiver) and one for your dog's collar (the wireless microphone/transmitter). To begin, you are asked to choose your dog's breed from among the 84 in memory, picking a close match for mutts. The microphone on Muttley's collar transmit her barks to your little hand-held LCD wireless receiver. Her every utterance is digitized and "instantly matched against thousands of prerecorded prints in Bow-Lingual's database" and assigned one of six emotions.

What you see on your screen is an emoticon-type face along with one of 200 text expressions such as "I feel sad" or "Play with me!" or "Leave me alone." In addition, the thing translates 23 types of body language such as sulking and tail-wagging into text and illustrations, displaying them on a graph.

You can also toss away the nanny cam that you bought to see what Muttley does while you're gone. The Bow Lingual stores a dog's last 100 vocalizations so that when you return you can pour a stiff drink and see what the little darling has been feeling while you've been working to bring home the kibble.

The beauty, from the inventors' point of view, is that until some pooch comes along with a way to refute them, who's to say they're wrong? The Bow-Lingual is being sold at stores including The Sharper Image. If you like it, look for the Meowlingual cat translator by the same folks.

Art of the New Machine
Clark Whittington looked at an obsolete cigarette machine and saw a revolutionary way to sell art.
By Robin Cherry

Warning: The surgeon general has never suggested that buying art from an Art*o*mat® is addictive. But he probably should.

I first discovered Art*o*mat at the Whitney Museum of American Art. An Art*o*mat is a cigarette machine that has been reconfigured to dispense artwork. The Whitney's machine seduced me with its offering "Proof of the Existence of God," which I decided was worth its advertised price of $5. So I bought a token, put it in the slot, pulled back the lever (which makes that old-fashioned ka-chunk sound), and out came a box filled with four vibrantly painted pieces of Styrofoam. While I'm still an agnostic, I did make friends with nearby shoppers who were happy to have their Art*o*mat curiosity satisfied on my 100 nickels.

Art*o*mat is the brainchild of Clark Whittington, an artist/inventor from Winston-Salem, N.C., who looked at an obsolete cigarette machine and saw a new channel of distribution for a struggling artist—himself. Whittington used his first Art*o*mat to sell his photographs at a local café art show. After the show, the proprietor asked if she could keep the machine to sell art, and a business was born.

Today, there are 49 Art*o*mats representing more than 300 artists. Proceeds from each sale are split between the artist (50 percent), the machine's host (30 percent), and Art*o*mat (20 percent). Hosts can keep their share, though most donate it to charity. Available items include paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and mini-contraptions. Some are beautiful, some are funny, some are bitter, and some are just bizarre.

After my Whitney experience, I knew I was addicted when my first stop in Northampton, Mass., was the gift shop Faces, where a turquoise-faced Art*o*mat holds court in the basement. A hand-written "local artists wanted" sign graces the machine's upper right-hand corner, adding a homey, regional touch.

At Faces, I purchased the prettiest addition to my burgeoning Art*o*mat collection: a collage of hand-marbled and handmade papers stitched together and mounted on a small wooden block. On the back, artist Debra Mulnick lets me know that her process of stitching paper to wood "ensures the continued patronage of her local sewing machine repair shop." Think global; buy local.

While I was at it, I couldn't resist buying "Wishbone Channeler." While the instructions were a little vague (essentially, wave the wishbone-shaped object with a small bell attached to a golden wire strung across the top at a person, place, or thing in need of balance and "repeat as needed"). I think it worked. Shortly after I waved the channeler at my traveling companion, she remained totally calm as a fellow traveler hurled expletives at her for being in the wrong turning lane. I can't guarantee it was the channeler, but, unlike a nicotine fix, it couldn't have hurt.

The next Art*o*mat I plan to visit is modeled on the board game Operation, complete with the buzzers and lights that go off when you try to remove the hapless patient's breadbasket. That machine entertains both parents and children at the Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem.

Friday, December 05, 2003

• Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

• Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

• Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

• If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of credit card payments.

• Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

• If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

• Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

• If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably
worth it.

• If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

• Some days you are the bug; some days you are the windshield.

• Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

• The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

• A closed mouth gathers no foot.

• Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

• There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

• Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

• Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

• Never miss a good chance to shut up.

• We are born naked, wet, and hungry, and get slapped on our ass... then things get worse.



The true and original pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is an elusive historical detail. The lack of any certainty in nailing down an exact form of pronunciation for this ancient name baffles many scholars.

A few, especially Jewish scholars, are loth to admit they have lost the correct pronunciation of the name of their God.

Of sacred name people, few are willing to show any degre of uncertain as to what they calle "the original and true" pronunciation of the name. After all, getting the one and only original pronunciation of the name is the very essense of their sacred name doctrine.

To admit that one does not know with certainty how the name was originally pronounced is tantamount to admitting the doctrine of a Hebrew sacred name is just a farce.

The Original Pronunciation Of YHWH Is Lost

1. "…the true pronunciation of YHWH is quite lost."
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language,
David Crystal, pg. 9, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge.

2. "The true pronunciation of this name, by which God was known to the Hebrews, has been entirely lost."
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pg 781,
Ed. Merrill Unger, Moody Press, Chicago,

3. "This name in now pronounced Yahweh by scholars; the true pronunciation of the name was lost during Judaism when a superstitious fear prevented its enunciation."
Dictionary of the Bible, pg 316, ed. John
McKenzie, Macmillan Co, New York,

4. "The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian Church testify that the name was pronounced 'Yahweh.'"
Encyclopedia Judaica, pg. 680, The
Macmillan Co., New York, 1971.

5. "Early writers such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost."
The New Encyclopedia Britannica, pg. 804,
Encyclopedia Britannica inc., Chicago,


1. The original pronunciation of YHWH is lost and has been lost for many centuries.

2. However, the pronunciation espoused by Samaritans and early Catholic writers "was never really lost."


How Did The Pronunciation Come To Be?

A. "The form Yahweh is a scholarly attempt at reconstruction"
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language,
David Crystal, pg. 9, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge.

B. "Modern scholars believe the approximate pronunciation was 'Yahweh.'"
The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, pg.
409, Abingdon Publishing Co. Nashville.

C. "The form Yahweh is here adopted as particularly the best. The only competing form would be Yehweh…"
J. B. Rotherham, The Emphasized Bible,
Introduction pg. 22, The Standard
Publishing Co., Cincinnati, 1916.

1. The scholars are guessing.
2. Sacred name teachers are also guesing at a way to pronounce the name.
3. While we must not doubt their sincerity, they are only guessing.
4. Such lack of facts cannot be the basis for a saving faith and holds no place in the certified gospel.


Historically The Pronunciation YAHWEH Is Dependent On:

a. Clement of Alexandria (3rd Century AD) says the Jews said Iaoue – EE-A-OU-E.

b. Egyptian magic papyri (late 3rd Century AD) has Iabe – E-A-VE.

c. Theodoret of Cyprus (5th Century AD) said the Samaritans of his time spoke Iabe – E-A-VE and Iabia – E-A-VY

d. Gilbert Genebrard, 16th Century (aka Genebrardus) professor of Hebrew at the College Royal and Archbishop of Aix was likely the first to suggest the pronunciation Yahweh.

e. Modern Samaritan priests (19th Century) pronounce Yahweh or Yahwa.

1. Secular religious scholars stake their reputations as scholars on guessing at a pronunciation of the name based on evidence gleaned from early Roman Catholic scholars, from Egyptian magicians, from 2nd Century Samaritans, and others.

Gilbert Genebrard, a French Hebrew scholar and Archbishop of Aix, seems to have been first scholar to advance the pronunciaton Yahweh as an acceptable possibility. Other and more modern scholars have accepted Yahweh as a workably pronunciation and agreed upon it by use.

2. The converts to the sacred name doctrine are willing to stake the eternal salvation of their souls on the guessing of these men.

Cartoons act like cocaine
By Roger Highfield in London

A search for the mind's "funny bone" has shed new light on the mysteries of merriment, revealing that the reason humour is addictive is that it activates "reward centres" in the brain.

This work, and further studies to come, would clarify why men and women had different styles of humour and shed light on why some people were giggly and others grumpy, said Allan Reiss of Stanford University.

Sophisticated brain imaging techniques were used to look at activity in specific brain regions when Dr Reiss and colleagues presented people with cartoons considered funny or unfunny.

The results, published in the journal Neuron, show that, in addition to activating areas associated with the perception and production of language, humour activates a network of brain structures associated with known reward systems.

Amusing cartoons activated a region of the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, that has previously been linked with happiness and with cocaine- and amphetamine-induced euphoria.

The reward network is "a very powerful brain subsystem, if you will, underlying motivated behaviour. It will be fascinating to see if persons whom others might consider 'humourless' lack this component of their humour appreciation network," Dr Reiss said.

This new information will shed light on social behaviour. "One's sense of humour often dictates if, how, and with whom we establish friendships and even long-lasting romantic relationships. Humour also is a universal coping mechanism when faced with all varieties of stress," Dr Reiss said.

The Telegraph, London