November 17, 2017

Jessica Chastain...

Is NOT happy that Amazons in the Justice League movie are (apparently) wearing less than they did in Wonder Woman.

Nor is, for the Yahoo! record, is Melissa Silverstein.

I really, REALLY, hate the "you hypocrite" argument; I don't normally make it, myself. But, could it be that there is, I don't know, some jealousy at the success of superhero movies, or perhaps some feeling that "When I do female nude, it's necessary to the plot, but when your Amazons dress more scantily, it's a...step backward?"

Let me see here.

I ran some searches and (with a NSFW) warning, I discovered that:

Jessica Chastain has done 3 - 4 movies in which she has appeared entirely nude, and several others with skimpy clothing. Perhaps she would say that this is artistic choice. But, really, she's done her bit for nudity on screen. And now she's concerned about Amazons?

Enough with Chastain.

Melissa Silverstein states:
Ms. Silverstein is the founder of the Women & Hollywood page / blog / movement, which
"Educates, Advocates, and Agitates for greater gender diversity in Hollywood and the global film industry." Sounds laudable. For those who are wondering, the "male gaze" vs "female gaze" thing can be found here.

Summarily, Ms. Silverstein attributes the differences in costumes between "Wonder Woman" and "Justice League" (with the latter being more skimpy) to the difference between female director Patty Jenkins, of Wonder Woman, and male director Zack Snyder, of Justice League.

She also said, based on responses to the above tweet:
So, can we take away from this that Ms. Silverstein is interested in de-sexualizing cinema? I say "BRAVO." I'm in total agreement that this should happen, from casting couch to the screen, male or female directors.

This doesn't mean, however, that one can state that women are sexualized only by male directors, but female directors can proceed with impunity, right?

Ms. Silverstein states that she "loved" the first "SMILF" episode, and is excited about another. Strangely, SMILF features at least a few scenes of nudity and sex. I don't see that Ms. Silverstein called them out for that. But then, these are female directors. Perhaps this was an oversight on her part. Let's see...
Referring to Hedy Lamarr, whom Ms. Silverstein lauds (rightly) as an inventor and actress. And yet, Lamarr also was one of the earlier progenitors of frontal nudity and portrayal of orgasms on film. But, she is excused because she was otherwise a great actress who was a brilliant inventor.

Oh, and then there's Grey's Anatomy, of which Ms. Silverstein says:
This is the same Grey's Anatomy which features (on ABC) guys fantasizing about women making out in a shower, a woman jumping up and down on a bed in lingerie, and assorted other scenes.

Ms. Silverstein's website also seems to be quite excited about television shows and movies which star or are directed by women, and feature sexualized nudity.

So, is this simply another instance of "So long as my people do it, it's okay, but if it's your people, you're 'male gazing' and 'sexualizing?'"

November 13, 2017

The Christian Idea Has...

...Not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult; and left untried.

Today, I am moved to write briefly about this article, entitled "I'm Catholic and Didn't Get Married in a Church For This Reason."

I fully expected that the article would reference problems with the Church's teachings on sexuality, on marriage, on children, etc. This would be de rigeur among writers on Yahoo!, or any of its linked sites (in this case, "Style Me Pretty"), and likely, among many bloggers. However, I was initially somewhat surprised to see her claim that it was all about money.

You see, the church this author initially contacted (red flag!) asked $1,200 for the use of the church. And, the author notes, "from there, our options got less and less attractive." Presumably this means that other churches charged more.

End of story, right? Money-grubbing Catholics? Seems like it. Being Catholic myself, I found this a bit shocking. Catholic churches, charging people huge sums to get married?

When reading the story, however, something became very obvious: This is a collision between the world of identity politics, "tradition," and the world of lived faith and pragmatism.

The author, a "Ximena N. Larkin" (website here, if this is the same person) reveals as follows during her brief sketch (I've fisked it for your convenience):
[W]e were both raised Catholic. Up until high school, he attended a Catholic private school. And I started every Sunday with mass and then picked a Catholic university....There was no way around it. We were engulfed in religion.
Given what follows, perhaps "[w]e had been engulfed in religion" would be more accurate.
It was the primary reason we were even considering incorporating the ritual in our wedding day. Even though during our two-year relationship, and one-year engagement we had never attended mass as a couple, we felt like it was something we had to do.
AH HAH! SO THAT'S IT. A two-year relationship and one-year engagement and never attended Mass as a couple. Yet you were both Catholic. Seems like you were awash in nostalgia and identity, not "engulfed in religion."
I was shocked to discover our first pick required a $1,200 mandatory donation for 45-minute use of the church (more than 10 times the cost of our wedding venue for the evening). 
Now already had a wedding venue reserved, and NOW you're calling around for churches? Did the desire to get married in the Church come from within you, or was it something that parents or grandparents mentioned and you decided to give it the ol' college try for them?

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that, if you're a member of a parish, the charge to use the parish is free, or nearly so. However, if you're just calling around for a venue, they charge because it makes it less attractive to church shoppers. As I look around the internet, it seems some churches do charge for the venue due to costs inherent in a wedding and the use of the facilities. Some churches offer to waive the fee if the couple are parishioners and cannot afford it, and also offer free convalidations during weekday Mass.

And THEN, towards the end of this article, we read the following revelatory statements:
The church had played no part in our relationship. We honored and respected the traditions held by family and friends, but realized we had to make a choice between what we 'should do' and what was right for us. For us, that meant promising to honor, love and respect each other every day. A pledge requiring work from both parties and not a religious deity to do the heavy lifting for us.
[Oh, RIGHT...that's what getting married in a church means? You get GOD to do the work and rest on your laurels? BULLS**T.]
Family members still ask if one day I'll get married by the church. Being Mexican and Catholic is part of my identity so the answer is yes. One day it'll happen when we're ready, not when someone tells us to.
So, wait...was all the money stuff a serious argument? Or did you reject a Church wedding because someone told you you had to? Or because you didn't believe in the first place? Why not have a free or nearly-free convalidation done and call it good?

This is identity politics and smear in equal part and parcel. Religion when I feel like it, when it may be important to me feeling "Mexican" enough, or to show our children what it's like, or whatever.

But let's not pretend that "we couldn't afford" to get married in the Church. You didn't care about Faith at the time you got married, except as a sort of cultural crustation and a vague desire to please someone else in your life. If you simply want to say you'd fallen away from the Faith and didn't care about religion any longer, own it. You are engaged in deceiving yourself and others regarding the real reason why you didn't get married in the Church.

August 18, 2017

Tintagel - Art and Music

Tintagel Castle, in Cornwall, has sparked the imaginations of people since Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote (c. 1138) that King Arthur was conceived there. Abandoned in the 1600s, visitors began coming in the 19th century to see the ruins of a castle from 1233. The earlier use of the site was rediscovered (so to speak) in later archaeological digs.

Since its rediscovery, Tintagel and the rather stunning landscape of its environs, has proven to be a destination not only for the general public, but for artists of many stripes, including composers, painters, and others.

Artists I have found who painted Tintagel include:

Thomas Moran (1837 - 1926)

Samuel Palmer (1805 - 1881)

William Trost Richards (1833 - 1905)

Image result for tintagel castle trostImage result for tintagel castle trost

Image result for tintagel paintings

Thomas Rowlandson (1756 - 1827)

JMW Turner (1775 - 1851)

Image result for tintagel painting jmw turner

I am sure there are more paintings out there, and definitely thousands of photographs. 

I'd like to quote, briefly, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, from his poem "Idylls of the King," to wit:

They found a naked child upon the sands
Of dark Tintagil by the Cornish sea;
And that was Arthur; and they fostered him
Till he by miracle was approven King:
And that his grave should be a mystery
From all men, like his birth; and could he find
A woman in her womanhood as great
As he was in his manhood, then, he sang,
The twain together well might change the world.
But even in the middle of his song
He faltered, and his hand fell from the harp,
And pale he turned, and reeled, and would have fallen,
But that they stayed him up; nor would he tell
His vision; but what doubt that he foresaw
This evil work of Lancelot and the Queen?

Finally, I'd like to reference a couple compositions, namely by:

Sir Arnold Bax (1883 - 1953)

His is probably the most famous musical interpretation, but there have been others. Most of the others are more modern, vocal and tonal music. At any rate, this is a small sampling of the effect the site has had on the imaginations of artists of several walks. I hope you enjoyed it!

July 27, 2017

Trumptastic Review

Looking at the insane tweet clown show that is the presidency of Donald Trump, I wondered if I had made any predictions or statements regarding DJ Trumpy that would still hold up now. So, taking a look back at my posts of March 8, 2016, March 16, 2016, and August 7, 2016, it appears I had the following to say:

From March 8 (wherein I reported that Trump would never be president - my serious mistake):
As should be evident, you change position depending on how the question is asked and when. You make flimsy excuses ("I didn't hear the question") for bad positions, you state different things at different times, you hedge, you engage in glittering generalities, and you bluster about hand sizes and other nonsense.
Also from March 8:
We have swallowed it long enough. It is no longer a question of taking a deep breath and opposing Obama or Hilary or whomever. You have become a force to be opposed. And we will do that by refusing to vote. We think you are a charlatan - a paper tiger - a sophist - a ridiculous TV clown who opens debate answers with penis jokes.
March 16, post-nomination:
Donald Trump is a mockery of this virtue. He remembers every evil. He seems not to have grand or noble designs - instead, his every speech is flattery to the crowd. He reverses course when challenged on his own words, denying that he said them, or excusing them as an error of the moment. In fact, he seems more apt to live up to the OED obscure definitions related to his name: (1) trump - noun: "A thing of small value, a trifle; pl. goods of small value, trumpery;" and (2) trump - verb: "To deceive, cheat."
And also from March 16:
We have laughed at the idea of virtue in society, exchanging it instead for an ethics of utilitarianism. We are now on the verge of electing a man whose very nature is excess - excess in wives, in wealth, in appearance. He is the embodiment - the end, the telos - of an age dedicated to excess. His popularity cannot be denied, and I do not think it a stretch to say that his popularity is based in no small part upon his willingness to step upon and trample older ideals of virtue.

Re: Trump v. Hilary, from August 7:
This reasoning presumes, of course, that Trump is a better option than Hilary. I do not think this is proven. In fact, Trump seems equally likely to engage in all sorts of questionable, and perhaps immoral, behavior. Certainly, he has no qualms about doing that during his campaign, sounding quite insane in the process: "(Cruz’s) father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up...."
The same August 7 post:
He's a loudmouthed, buffoonish, machismo clown, with delusions of grandeur. He is completely driven by appetite - and that's quite bad. I would wager, to reference Aristotle, that he is nearly a vicious man. Does he regret making personal attacks at every turn? Does he even realize what he's doing? C.S. Lewis once noted that it would be better to live under robber barons than omnipotent moral busybodies...but what about robber barons vs. intemperate bullies? 
I think all of these are still very much apt, even more so as Trump continues his paranoid style of politics, acting as a one-man clown show. 

July 13, 2017

Medieval Cookery

Two of the more interesting pages I have run across are the Medieval Cookery page and the Gode Cookery page. Apparently, one thing ubiquitous in English cultures (and perhaps more broadly - I have not investigated) is the existence of cookbooks. Some Nutritional anthropologist would no doubt have more to say on this score.

For your own edification and entertainment, I recommend at least a cursory perusal of the above pages. For a preview...

Puddyng of purpaysse

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: Harleian MS 279 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Stuffed porpoise stomach


.xl. Puddyng of purpaysse. Take þe Blode of hym, & þe grece of hym self, & Ote-mele, & Salt, & Pepir, & Gyngere, & melle þese to-gederys wel, & þan putte þis in þe Gutte of þe purays, & þan lat it seþe esyli, & not hard, a good whylys; & þan take hym vppe, & broyle hym a lytil, & þan serue forth.