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Strange cryptic Paige Moss (Veruca) remark -- JCC, 10:56:23 07/27/02 Sat

In an interview from the Watchers Guides, Paige Moss, who plays Veruca said:
"Veruca & Oz are soulmates... Soulmates always find their way back to each other. And only a silver bullet can kill a werewolf."
The silver bullet comment was a Veruca line from the show. Why did she use it here?


[> Weren't there whole story lines that went bust... - - Rochefort, 12:05:39 07/27/02 Sat

when Seth Green left the show? Too bad, especially if they involved varuka cause she was pretty cool. Wouldn't have minded that at all.

[> [> Re: Weren't there whole story lines that went bust... -- JCC, 12:13:05 07/27/02 Sat

The Veruca/Oz storyline was supposed to go on longer, but Seth Green went on a leave of absense and was supposed to return full time later in the season.

[> [> [> Veruca can come back with or without Oz... -- ZachsMind, 19:36:17 07/27/02 Sat

If the writers find a reason to bring a werewolf back into the storyline, but can't get Seth Green to work them into his "busy" schedule, they could still bring in Paige Moss if she's more accomodating.

Now wouldn't a little Willow/Veruca shippage late in the season be deliciously ironic?

[> [> [> [> Willow/Veruca? Hmmm... -- VR, 21:52:55 07/27/02 Sat

Might be interesting, but I doubt it would ever happen. Of course, that's where dreaming and fanfic come in.

[> Only silver? -- VR, 21:59:15 07/27/02 Sat

Is there anything else in the book? I don't have one. Could never find one.

But, if that's all that's in there, then, is that it? Just silver. If only silver makes them check out real estate companies in rural areas, then, do they even grow any older?

[> [> Re: Only silver? -- MysticalMuesli, 06:29:29 07/28/02 Sun

But werewolf Oz killed werewolf Veruca to protect Willow.

[> [> [> As far as we know she's dead. -- VR, 07:55:18 07/28/02 Sun

They've never said in the show how a werewolf can be killed. But, it definitely looks like they can be killed that way.

O/T Whingeing -- dubdub, 15:22:47 07/27/02 Sat

Okay, this could only happen to me: I work up my courage for two months (after my surgery) to get my nose pierced, then I see all kinds of pictures on the 'net of the whole operation and freak out and say, NO WAY!; then I calm down for another two months and finally try for a week and a half to find a place that looks clean and efficient to have the deed done, and talk to people about recommendations, and finally find a place, make an appointment, go there today, listen to 1/2 hour presentation on the art and science of nose piercing, have the deed DONE (YOW! YIKES!! OWWWWYYYY!!), only to be told, "Oops, not quite straight--I've taken the hoop out. Well, would you like me to do it again or just forget it?"

So, I went through the incredibly painful process of having my nose pierced TWICE within five minutes...(breathe, breathe, breathe) okay, I feel better now but I went into chat and there was no one there to listen to me rant, WAHHHH!


[> Re: O/T Whingeing -- Rahael, 15:26:36 07/27/02 Sat

One extra person in chat now!

[> Further OT - Tattoos -- Darby, 16:32:07 07/27/02 Sat

A less personal-experiencey warning: there is a growing body of evidence that hepatitis virus (the C, if I recall) can survive in the ink used for tattoos. The needles can be sterilized, but not the inks. The incidence of hep in people with tattoos has jumped way up, especially in areas with a high base rate (more people to contaminate the ink). The evidence is preliminary but convincing.

Just sayin'!

[> [> Re: Further OT - Tattoos -- dubdub, 16:58:09 07/27/02 Sat

Interesting...I suppose it's possible but ideally the ink should only be extracted from the bottle once during the process for each colour, so a potentially contaminated needle would never come into contact with ink that might be used on someone else...

My tat was done ten years ago, so I guess I'm off the hook, but a valid warning, none the less...


[> [> [> Re: Further OT - Tattoos -- anom, 21:38:26 07/27/02 Sat

Couldn't they clear the needle of ink & run bleach through it to sterilize it after each use? Or would they have to do that each time they refilled the needle, because it's going back to the same bottle? Maybe they could take out as much as they need for each person & then do the bleach before the next one.

BTW, dubdub, sorry it hurt so much. Hope you're pleased w/the results once the pain goes away. Love your swollen/pierced Q-nose smily!

[> [> [> [> Thanks! :Q) -- dubdub, 21:43:58 07/27/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> Re: Further OT - Tattoos -- Darby, 21:53:25 07/27/02 Sat

There are precautions that could be taken, but not enough evidence to support regulations at this time. From the report I ran across, the suggestion was to use very small separate units of ink. I don't know enough about tattooing to know if that's reasonable, or whether your suggestions are. All I know is from ink cartridge pens and air brushes, where it's tough to use something too close to when it's been cleaned, and that stuff isn't being injected into somebody's dermis.

[> [> Re: what a way to brighten my day! -- neaux, 17:22:35 07/28/02 Sun

so... since my tats are 5 to 7 years old.. does that mean I'm in the clear?

I really would like to avoid waking up one day with Hepatitis on my stomach and leg.

[> [> [> This won't help... -- Darby, 06:40:39 07/29/02 Mon

I did some more checking, and I've got good news and bad news.

The good news is that the Hepatitis C rate in the US has been dropping pretty dramatically (probably because precautions against AIDS work against Hep C as well) - this means the chances of getting it from a recent tattoo in this country are pretty small. The bad news corollary is that your risk was higher 7 years ago.

Hep C won't reveal itself at the site of the tat - it's a disease of the liver, commonly very prolonged, maybe 20 years between infection and serious symptoms. The symptoms, eventually, can become life-threatening as the liver becomes too damaged or cancerous to keep doing the dozen or so major things that a liver does.

Found a pretty good primer at

http://www.epidemic.org/theFacts/essentials/whatIsHepatitisC .html

Other sources, more recent and detailed, confirmed the suspicion against ink, but there are so many other much worse risk factors, I don't think that this is drawing much attention. Interestingly, it was mentioned that many places bar people with tattoos from giving blood.

Just some stuff to think about. I've never understood why injecting a variety of chemicals permanently under the skin wouldn't have some sort of nasty side effect, rare enough to have been missed anecdotally but otherwise legitimate. I mean, is anybody really surprised that lighting up pesticide- laced dried plants and then sucking the smoke into your lungs is bad for you in a bunch of ways?

In previous eras, it would have been tough to isolate an effect, too - the demographic group typically getting tattoos was also commonly putting themselves in harm's way from a bunch of other...er, chemicals and infectious agents. The current broad demographic is where we'll really tease out side effects, over the course of the next decade or so.

So how's it feel to be an epidemiological guinea pig? Ahh, don't feel singled out, we all are for one thing or another.

[> [> [> Perspective on this -- Wisewoman, 09:44:54 07/29/02 Mon

Okay, I agree that some risk exists, but let's look at this objectively.

The risk of contracting HIV from a needle previously used to inject heroin by an HIV-positive individual is extremely high. The risk of contracting HIV from a new, single-use needle used in a doctor's office for injecting Vitamin B (as an example) is nil.

Similarly, if you got your tats while serving time in the local pen and they were applied by someone using a sharpened spoon handle and ink made of burnt match ends and saliva-- hey, you're probably in trouble! If you got them at a reputable, established tattoo parlour the standards of hygiene were probably equal to those of a hospital emergency room; ink supplies were not re-used, and certainly needles were not, and you have no problem.

There seems to be an unspoken comment here as well: "Anyone stupid enough to get themselves tattooed at all pretty much deserves Hep C, or whatever else they get."

Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but hey, the whole tattoo "industry" has come a long way since the days when drunken teenagers had Betty Boop tattooed on their biceps to prove how "brave" they were before shipping out to active duty. I know some individuals may still find tattooing distasteful (not to mention piercing and branding!) but lets keep things in perspective.

Young people may still be getting and sporting tattoos as an act of rebellion, but there are thousands of tattooed adults out there to whom their tattoo represents something very powerful: a spiritual connection, a mid-life passage, a religious symbol, a tribal connection, a statement of ownership of one's body, etc, etc. It can represent a belief in one's own human body as a sort of canvas, an opportunity to create art. It does represent a lifetime commitment, at the very least to identification with a particular image, and as such deserves a modicum of respect. JMO.


[> Re: O/T Whingeing -- LadyStarlight, 17:59:43 07/27/02 Sat

Oh, poor baby!

I can empathize a little, I went & repierced my ears about a month ago. (small babies, dangling earrings, you do the math...)

[> Re: O/T Whingeing -- aliera, 14:10:28 07/28/02 Sun

Ouch! Hope you feel better soon. I wouldn't have the nerve anymore. My tattoo was long enough ago and not in a sensitive spot, but still. Best wishes.

[> [> um...that's not the question -- anom, 21:12:38 07/28/02 Sun

[PSA]It doesn't matter where the tattoo is, as far as risk of hepatitis C is concerned. And it doesn't occur at the site of the tat--it's a liver disease transmitted through blood, these days mainly among IV drug users who share needles. I don't think 10 years is necessarily long ago enough (Darby, check me on this?) to put anyone in the clear- -it was transmitted for years through the blood supply before a test was developed to detect it. And the effects may not show up for 20 years. I've edited material on hep C, & tattoos don't seem to be a major route of transmission, but they are a possible route. It might be worth asking your doctor about. However, the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) doesn't seem to think the risk is very high:

"Although some studies have found an association between tattooing and HCV infection in very selected populations, it is not known if these results can be generalized to the whole population. Any percutaneous [through the skin] exposure has the potential for transferring infectious blood and potentially transmitting bloodborne pathogens (e.g., HBV, HCV, or HIV); however, no data exist in the United States indicating that persons with exposures to tattooing alone are at increased risk for HCV infection. For example, during the past 20 years, less than 1% of persons with newly acquired hepatitis C reported to CDC's sentinel surveillance system gave a history of being tattooed. Further studies are needed to determine if these types of exposures, and the settings in which they occur, are risk factors for HCV infection in the United States. CDC is currently conducting a large study to evaluate tattooing as a potential risk."

For more info you can check this page.[end PSA]

[> [> [> Yeah, what she said. -- Darby, 06:46:43 07/29/02 Mon

I should read all of the new posts before I respond - I pretty much just dittoed everything up above.

Another Returning Tara Idea.. (S7 spec/spoilery) -- ZachsMind, 19:22:54 07/27/02 Sat

This is just one of perhaps a dozen ways to write Tara back in. And believe me there's at least a dozen ways the writers could do it. My personal favorite is "Ghost Tara" because I think the Scoobies need a ghost. However, I've recently learned they already did that with Cordelia and Dennis over at the Angel tv series a couple seasons ago. I dunno if Whedon's gonna wanna repeat himself again like that. He's already got people comparing Souled Spike to Angel. However, if Whedon does what I'm suggesting here, people won't be comparing Spike to Angel. Oh no. They'll be too busy.

Remember the second episode in the fourth season? "Living Conditions" was about Buffy's dorm roommate Kathy, and how it turned out she was really a demon. A demon who wanted a human's education, but her family would hear nothing of it so they sent her back home. There are as many different kinds of demons as there are snowflakes in the winter's sky. Some demons may have different ways of interacting with "Family". Tara showed up at UC Sunnydale about the same time that Kathy did. It's just that Kathy got found out.

There's something that's always bugged me about Tara's back story. Maclay female children are told they grow up to become demons when they're 20. Tara's mom was over 20 before she died. Tara told the Scoobies that her mother was a powerful witch, but she never told us whether Mrs. Maclay was demon or human. It always felt to me that the episode "Family" wasn't telling us everything. There were just too many gaps in Tara's past that were purposefully being left open. Why would Tara have believed her 'kind' turn from human to demon at the age of 20 unless her own mother was one?

Perhaps her mother managed to work up a magic spell that allowed her daughter to remain human after the age of 20, hoping a better life for her. Perhaps this was the same spell that killed Tara's mother when Tara was 17. Perhaps this spell is dispelled when Tara's human self dies. Perhaps we'll find out.

Okay. So if this is the case, how come Spike's chip kicked in when he punched Tara? Simple. Spike's chip is not a magic thing. It's based on The Initiative's technobabble technology. It works on Spike's BRAIN and God love'm, Spike just ain't the smartest vampire in the crypt if ya know whut ah'm a sayin' an' ah thunk ya dew. It only knows as much as his brain knows, so it only triggers when he THINKS something is human. It's like a lie detector. As he punches at something, the chip watches what he's doing with the conscious mind and the chip talks to his subconscious mind. If the subconscious mind tells the chip that what he's punching is human, the conscious mind gets a shock.

It's also why Spike can punch Buffy now. She's come back from the dead. In Spike's subconscious that means on a technicality Buffy's no longer human. Spike BELIEVED Tara to be human because his unconscious mind saw no legitimate proof otherwise. So he got a migraine when he punched her. Tara could still have been/be/will be a demon who had been hidden in human form until now.

You think Angel/Angeles was bad. Wait till you get a load of Tara/Terror.

[> my problem with "Family"... -- celticross, 19:56:00 07/27/02 Sat

Tara was told that McClay women become demons when they turn 20. Ok. And then she's told her mother was. BUT...Tara's mother was not born a McClay (unless there was some, shall we say, interesting marriages going on...yeah, yeah, insert Tennessee joke here). So, if McClay women become demons, it's carried in the male line.
(A story with a similar problem is ST:TNG's "Sub Rosa", but now I'm being a geek, so I'll hush :)

[> A nice theory, but unfortunately.... -- cjl, 06:51:21 07/28/02 Sun

Spike's chip is often SMARTER than he is.

Remember when Buffy was fighting the muggers (of the human variety) and Spike joined in? He genuinely thought the muggers were demons, and got a whopping headache for his assumption. You might say his subconscious figured out the muggers were human, and fed that information to his chip-- but then, why wouldn't his subconscious do the same about Tara in the reverse situation?

As for the Maclay ancestry problem, that's Joss' goof. Tara simply could've said the demon infects women in her mother's line, and that would have solved it. I think ST:TNG did just that in "Sub Rosa." It's clear that the "Howard women" in Beverly Crusher's family viewed their heritage in a matrilinear, not patrilinear fashion. (Which brings up the question: why did Beverly take Jack Crusher's last name if she saw herself as part of a matriarchal bloodline?) Anyway, I loved that ep. With the exception of the Halloween ep, "Catspaw," from the original series, it's the closest thing to Buffy Trek ever did. (Besides...Gates McFadden...mmmmmmmmmm....)

[> [> Re: A nice theory, but unfortunately.... -- Darby, 10:17:32 07/28/02 Sun

The chip thing is easy to explain on a sensory subconscious level - vamps can detect humans when they're trying, mostly through smell, but the brain would be picking up the signals whether they were consciously trying to or not. But not every demon registers pheromonically, as the Initiative found out. Spike would have the muggers' pheromones and Buffy's "No!!!" to kick the chip in.

The problem with the chip is that it needs to be explained technologically, but everybody's used to magical explanations. Warren, and to some extent Dru, has confirmed that the chip almost certainly isn't magical. From a technological standpoint, the chip's only interface with the outside world is through Spike's perceptions. I agree that his preconceptions affect it, too, and that might explain the Buffy exception. Or it might not. Was it Shadowkat who saw the current arc as 2 seasons long? That might explain all the still-dangling plot threads...

The thing about magic that's convenient is that it can be used to cover things that make no sense, like the Maclay family (what the hell kind of name is that?) curse. But the chip isn't magic and requires explanations that at least get into the neighborhood of what a brain implant could reasonably be expected to do.

The thing about Tara is that Joss has said a couple of times that she won't be back, although Amber will be. They've done the suddenly-appearing younger sibling thing, is it time to do the identical cousin thing? But they'll probably avoid doing that if only to not have to deal with the really bizarro name they gave them (notice Tara didn't mention it even during the ID discovery in Tabula Rasa!). As Spike/Randy might say, why not just call them the MacShags and get it out in the open?

Hematologic Perdition!

[> [> [> Re: A nice theory, but unfortunately.... -- Finn Mac Cool, 11:52:55 07/28/02 Sun

When Joss said that, I think he ment that Tara wouldn't be returned as a character. She would stay dead. However, that doesn't mean they can't do a guest appearance, similar to what they did with Jenny Calender in Becoming and Amends, or Joyce in Normal Again. They didn't bring the characters back in the usual sense, but did use them again.

[> [> [> Re: A nice theory... -- aliera, 14:02:43 07/28/02 Sun

To do Zach's post credit, I think they've left themselves enough room to move on the chip that many things would still be possible...

Re: Amber, the guide feels right for Tara especially considering Restless. Also, depending on how they truly feel about the outcry, there may be some things they hesitate to do, like returning the character as evil. The number of contracted episodes seems to indicate it's not just an incarnation of a shapeshifting demon. I'm not sure how they would make a potential guide that not-Tara though. If we interpreting his statements literally, a ghost is still an aspect of Tara.

Thanks for your take on the chip it makes a lot of sense.

The thing about magic that's convenient is that it can be used to cover things that make no sense... But the chip isn't magic and requires explanations that at least get into the neighborhood of what a brain implant could
reasonably be expected to do.

Exactly. It's a little harder to suspend disbelief in the science arena. Although the world according to Joss has been around long enough that we've seen some pretty long interesting debates on the "rules" magick too.

[> [> [> About the 'Maclay' name... -- KKC, 15:44:03 07/28/02 Sun

--Darby writes: The thing about magic that's
--convenient is that it can be used to cover
--things that make no sense, like the Maclay
--family (what the hell kind of name is that?) curse.

Maclay is, of course, a Scottish name. Possible related names are MacClay, MacLeay, and MacLeigh (as in Archibald Macleigh, Pulitzer-prize winning American poet.) You can find more information about the Clan Maclay at http://members.fortunecity.com/kgoofy7/EarlyMaclayHistory.ht m but make sure you have a pop-up ad killer turned on. :)

-KKC, who in spite of his first name has no Scots for ancestors. :)

[> [> [> [> Not the Point - "Randy" is a real name too... -- Darby, 17:17:55 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> Sorry, I'm slow today. What's the objection to 'Maclay?' -- KKC, 17:55:54 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Sorry, I'm slow today. What's the objection to 'Maclay?' -- d'Herblay, 18:09:10 07/28/02 Sun

I can't remember how it was pronounced in "Family," but the two choices are "muh-clay" or "mack-lay," and Darby finds the second embarrassing, for much the same reason I became a little abashed to realize my posting pseudonym was a combination of slang for marijuana and slang for sex. Of course, my Grandmother's maiden name was "Adcock," so embarrassment runs deep through my veins.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> OOOH! I understand now! I didn't get it before either! lol -- Rahael, 18:11:36 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: OOOH! I understand now! I didn't get it before either! lol -- KKC, 03:52:23 07/29/02 Mon

Without making any judgements... Does the misinterpretation of a name say something about the name, or something about the interpreter? If I say 'Roth IRA' to you, do you immediately think of a retirement fund or of Irish independence? In the same way, assuming something is sexual about the name 'Maclay' says more to me about the influence of one's culture on the person making the assumption. Have I stopped short enough of saying that people think of sex too much? :)

-KKC, first the Scots, now the Irish... Any more UK minority groups we can work into this thread? :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> So you're saying we have Saxon the brain? Interesting Angle -- d'Herblay, 04:20:50 07/29/02 Mon

You trying to Pict a fight with me? What Gael! There is not woman Norman who can say that and get away with it.

Welsh it. I guess I've been Celt worse.

Over to you, anom.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Fair play for Jutes! -- CW, 08:34:20 07/29/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> Re: About the 'Maclay' name... -- leslie, 13:50:44 07/29/02 Mon

Huh. Interesting. I have always perceptualized Tara's last name as McClay, and somehow thereby contrasted her with Adam (whose name means "red earth").

Incidentally, I think the poet you're talking about is Archibald MacLeish (don't know if it's etymologically related to Maclay, but the house I grew up in, we bought from his son, and everyone in town still knew it as "the MacLeish place" so the spelling is pretty much burned into my head!)

[> [> [> [> Are we sure it was MacLay?. -- darrenK, 14:10:40 07/29/02 Mon

If all of you say it was then I doubt I'm right, but I remember it as MacIay with an [eye], not an L, then it's pronouced either McEYE or McAYE.

Truthfully that's the way I remember it.

Joss loves bawdy, but I doubt he'd name her MacLay, make her sing a song that ends in an orgasm, then kill her after she's just spent the night on a sex romp with her Lesbian lover. That's too much even for a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oh. S-lay-er. I think I'm starting to see a pattern...


[> [> Re: A nice theory, but unfortunately.... -- ZachsMind, 12:27:51 07/28/02 Sun

"Remember when Buffy was fighting the muggers (of the human variety) and Spike joined in? He genuinely thought the muggers were demons, and got a whopping headache for his assumption. You might say his subconscious figured out the muggers were human, and fed that information to his chip-- but then, why wouldn't his subconscious do the same about Tara in the reverse situation?"

I got a simple answer to that. Spike lied. It's just as easy to assume Spike had been tailing her for some time and knew exactly what they were, but figured if he jumped in and pretended to not know who they were, it would make him look more chivalrous to Buffy. Remember, this is the same guy who made a point to show her he wasn't taking advantage of fallen victims at the Bronze. "No drinkin'. Not a nip. Know you wouldn't like it." Sure. Fine. Spike's adorable. Whatever. He was still evil. Lying's definitely not against his nature.

Heh! I could re-engineer canon any way I'd like! I'm simply amazing! Whedon really should put me on the payroll. *smirk*

"As for the Maclay ancestry problem, that's Joss' goof. Tara simply could've said the demon infects women in her mother's line, and that would have solved it."

Whedon's fixed his own goofs before. This could be kinda like a few years ago when Whedon got the math wrong & said at one time Spike was just as old as Angeles but then renegged on that a little bit in the actual show's dialogue. There's still people out there arguing over just how old Spike really is. Eventually Whedon pretty much cinched it, but it's wonderful cannonfodder for us diehards to contemplate.

Re-engineering canon again, I can see how one can take what already exists and put a much darker slant on it. We all think Tara was sincerely sweet and buttery, but what if it was all an act? What if the reason she was always so unsure and careful in her word choices and shy was cuz she really honestly was hiding something. It kinda puts a whole new slant on every sweet innocent smile and giggle doesn't it? She honestly thought she was gonna turn into a demon and didn't want her human friends to find out about it. That's a given. She must have had conclusive proof of some sort to be that certain of it.

Maybe it's not just a bloodline thing but a specific demon type kinda thing? Maybe Tara's 'kind' are supposed to only fraternize with others of their kind. In order to bring in someone from outside to mate with, that human has to *become* a demon of her 'kind.' Sorta like when Cordelia had to turn half demon to keep the visions from killing her.

Or maybe they never mate outside their own 'kind.' This would further explain Tara's sexual proclivities. She wasn't interested in human males. They literally could do nothing for her. They were beneath her figuratively speaking. Or maybe what appeared in "Family" to be a staunchly sexist patriarchal family structure was actually enslaved human males who had signed their souls to female "Maclay Demons" in order to mate with them and be their slaves. Anya's proven that one can be a vengeance demon and also a witch. She was a witch before she was a demon. So a demon can also be a witch, which makes explaining Tara's mother much easier.

Yeah I know. A lot of maybes, but that's the fun-ness of reverse engineering canon. "Family" was on the surface a poorly written episode. It felt to me the first time I saw it that Whedon was purposefully leaving a bunch of stuff out, making it look like he was giving us a glimpse into Tara's past but really not telling us anything at all except what he wanted us to believe. Again, he's been guilty of this before. When Faith's new Watcher showed up, she was always evil and power hungry, but we didn't KNOW that until the very end when Gwen had a chance to get her hand on the glove. Also throughout the last two or three episodes of season six, Whedon purposefully made us think Spike was doing all those tests to get the chip out, when he was really after his soul.

He's a tricky bugger. He's got everyone guessing about Tara over the summer. No matter what he cooks up it's gonna be a surprise to all of us. No matter how one paints it though, we haven't seen the last of Tara. Ghost, Demon, or whatever.

[> [> Similar goof in "The Witch"... -- Rob, 11:25:59 07/29/02 Mon

...where Catherine's cheerleading trophy read "Catherine Madison," even though, by that point, she hadn't been married to Mr. Madison yet. Amy says they got married "right afte high school."

Speaking of "The Witch"...complete sidenote. The character who spontaneously combusts at the start is named "Amber." One of the other girls mentions that Amber's coach is named "Benson." Amber Benson! It's as if TPTB planned out that she would be on the show one day...

Or I'm just a total geek, also. ;o)


[> Re: Another Returning Tara Idea.. (S7 spec/spoilery) -- skeeve, 08:30:00 07/29/02 Mon

The are at least two possible explanations for Tara not having seen her mother as a demon. She might have been told that her mother was a human-shaped half-demon. like Doyle. She might not have seen her mother at all. Her mother might have been locked up.

As another has noted, ghost-Tara is still Tara. If Joss wants to bring Tara back, she can simply walk out of heaven. Heaven being optional, she wouldn't need any special power.

To bring Amber Benson back as a different character is more difficult if one doesn't want to use a conspicuously convient plot element. Bring her back as a gelf. On Buffy its chameleon-like characteristic would probably be the result of magic instead of genetic engineering, but the result would be similar.

[> Amber as Marty Feldman's hump -- Darby, 11:31:27 07/29/02 Mon

...she can come back as a character who some people think looks like Tara, while others don't see it at all. The show has gotten an Emmy for make-up, after all...

I'm not sure that's exactly like the moving hump of Young Frankenstein ("What hump?"), but how could I not go with the title once it occurred to me?

[> [> Great title... -- Rob, 12:46:20 07/29/02 Mon

But, if you need a better example for the "why can't anybody see her resemblance?" it might be better compared to the "Friends" episode entitled, "The One With Russ." It took place shortly after Rachel broke up with Ross. She dated a guy who looked exactly like Ross (played by the same actor) and had the same personality, but he was named Russ. All of the characters noticed the resemblance between the Ross and Russ, except, of course, for Ross, Russ, and Rachel. And, of course, it drove the others crazy that none of them could see the obvious.


[> [> [> And, of course, there's Twin Peaks (spoil/spec/whatever).... -- mundusmundi, 14:11:46 07/29/02 Mon

Which began with Sheryl Lee dead as Laura Palmer, only to bring her back to play Laura's cousin, who was also brutally murdered not long after. Would Joss have the gall to kill Tara twice? One shudders.

Promethea, Primeval and assorted ramblings -- ponygirl, 23:18:50 07/27/02 Sat

Been having a wild weekend with volumes 1 & 2 of Alan Moore’s comic book series Promethea. So many different ideas, it’s a bit mind-rattling. In some ways it’s a bit like reading the board – all the different myths and theories rolling around: look there’s the myth of Inanna! Here’s Little Red Riding Hood! Colour symbolism! Tantric sex! A history of the universe told through the Tarot! Let’s just say there’s a lot to think about.

Promethea had been mentioned recently by Rahael as being cited in the dvd commentary on Primeval as an influence by both David Fury and Joss. Having read some of Alan Moore's work before, and experiencing that oh too rare phenomenom known as payday, I took myself off to the comic book store to track the series down. I originally only intended to buy the first trade paperback which collects issues 1-6. Unfortunately for my bank account vol.1 a) ends on a cliff- hanger; b) is really good. So I ended up buying the quite pricey second volume in hardcover. I’ll probably get vol. 3 and the subsequent issues eventually, but right now I have enough in my brain.

I’ll try not to give away too many plot details of Promethea, which actually won’t be too hard since Moore himself pretty much abandons the plot by the end. The man likes his exposition.

Essentially Promethea is an actual human girl in 4th century Alexandria who is taken by the gods to live in the realm of myth and imagination – the Immateria. By living in this land she herself becomes a story, a part of the collective unconscious. Occasionally people are able to tap into this idea of Promethea, and imagine her so strongly that they themselves become an incarnation of this demi-goddess or project her onto another person. Each incarnation manifests different aspects of Promethea depending on their own personality, but they are also part of a larger idea. For Promethea represents the imagination, the power of metaphor itself.

The newest incarnation, Sophie, a modern-day student, becomes Promethea in the course of researching her. In learning about her new powers, Sophie comes into contact with her predecessors and various other forces that seek to either control or free the imagination.

It was pretty fun reading this. While not a Rosetta stone for deconstructing Buffy, the Promethea series is quite similar in tone and execution. There’s a strong feminist sensibility at work, a generous mix of fairy tale, myth and pop culture, and dialogue that can shift from the grandiose to the snarky within a sentence. It is quite easy why Joss would appreciate the series, and it's easy to see Promethea’s direct influence on the episode Primeval.

In Primeval we see the Scoobies come together to form the SuperSlayer, each representing a different attribute: Xander the heart, Willow the spirit, Giles the mind, and Buffy the hand. The tarot is used to symbolize these different aspects. In Promethea, Sophie is instructed in the four weapons of Promethea, each embodied by one of her predecessors and symbolized by the different suits of the tarot: the cup, the sword, the pentacle and the wand.

The cup is said to represent compassion, in Primeval that would be the heart or Xander. The sword, reason and intellect – the mind, Giles. The pentacle or the coin is physical existence, manifest in Primeval as the hand and our Buffy. Finally there is the wand, in Promethea the representation of the will, and the symbol of creativity and magic – Willow most definitely.

The book puts it this way, "Four elements, four magical weapons, four essential human qualities… they’re all the same thing in a way. Spirit, compassion, intellect, and physical existence. You need them all to be Promethea… or to be human."

Sophie’s incarnation of Promethea is seen as combining all of these elements, creating a better version of Promethea than had gone before. However to battle her enemies Sophie calls forth these predecessors – they are both separate personas and still share the common essence of Promethea while physically distinct beings. In Primeval, the Scoobs combine their essences and identities to form the SuperSlayer within Buffy herself. They share one body, one mind, personalities subsumed into their new entity. The powers the SuperSlayer yields seem taken from Promethea as well, most particularly the idea that matter and mind are not separate, that the imagination can control reality, or rather there is no reality beyond what is imagined. Thus the SuperSlayer can change bullets into doves or detonate power cores harmlessly.

It’s interesting reading these books and seeing ideas and images that have echoes in Buffy. I’m left wondering what ideas or germs of ideas stuck with Joss and grew into something completely different. It’s fun to imagine how one thing led to the other, or simply coloured a perspective here and there. Among the things that stick with me is the image of Sophie’s red-haired friend weeping in the dark woods overwhelmed by the pain of the entire world, much as Willow would be unable to put the world's suffering into perspective in Grave. Little Red Riding Hood pulling a machine gun out of her basket reminded me of Buffy’s basket full of weapons in Fear Itself.

And then there was the completely board-related thrill I had to see the stripping of Inanna myth (so beloved of the Caroline) briefly touched upon. And I believe it was shadowkat who had mentioned the symbolism of colours in relation to Buffy and Spike. Here in Promethea was an explanation of Tantric sex complete with a colour chart. Who knows what Joss will take or leave, but it did warm my Spuffy heart to see that according to Moore the colour red representing fire and destructive passion led to the calmer more reflective green and into the gold of the chakra of the heart and the soul.

Well, this was a bit of a ramble. Don’t know if any of this made sense, eventually I may be able to do a more coherent analysis. Or at least throw random and annoying Promethea references into future posts!

[> You came in 5x5, pg. I sense another hit on my budget coming on... -- cjl, 07:01:08 07/28/02 Sun

I'm going to have to pick up the Promethea volumes and check it out for myself. Factor in my car problems and my vacation ticket...oh well, who says I have to eat this week?

[> Re: Promethea, Primeval and assorted ramblings -- aliera, 13:23:09 07/28/02 Sun

Great post, ponygirl...I will definitely have to look for it now. You made it sound wonderful. And from the way you described it very similar to Buffy in some ways. Thanks.

[> [> Thanks cjl and aliera -- ponygirl, 07:37:21 07/29/02 Mon

I look forward to hearing your opinions when and if you read the series! There were a couple times I wanted to toss the book aside and say "enough with the tarot cards already!" but it was definitely worth it. And at least we know that some of the references made on the board are ones that Joss would be familiar with.

[> [> [> Re: Thanks -- aliera, 09:14:15 07/29/02 Mon

Oh funny! Probably my posts too! I kind of like discussions about the cards and other stuff; but, I can see where it gets to be a bit much. I always look for the posts by people with other interests, although I may not respond...

It a humidity wave here today so I won't get out to the bookstore but I definitely will read it. I'll also bear in mind not to many tarot card evaluations! Take care!

You know you watch too much Buffy when... -- change, 11:46:59 07/28/02 Sun

I saw the new Austin Powers movie today. Britney Spears has a cameo as a Britneybot. When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was that it was an insider joke for Buffy fans. I wonder if Joss has connections with the Austin Powers screen writers.

[> Even if it's not for BtVS or AtS, PLEASE announce all spoilers! -- Wizardman, 22:36:52 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> Sorry. Minor spoiler that occurs within 1'st 5 minutes of the Austin Powers film (NT). -- change, 03:45:45 07/29/02 Mon

Classic Movie of the Week - July 27th 2002 -- OnM, 18:27:29 07/28/02 Sun


Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

............ Anais Nin


The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you
will—eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned
impostor couldn't be happy with.

............ Joseph Brodsky


Reality is that which refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.

............ Phillip K. Dick


This above all; to thine own self be true.

............ William Shakespeare


At what point does preconception turn into prejudice?

Earlier this week, or maybe it was late last week, I read a letter to a syndicated medical advice column in
my local newspaper where the letter-writer took the doctor who writes the column to task for something
he had previously advised. Said advice was that, in the doctor’s opinion, it makes for a generally safer
household to keep any guns you might happen to own in an unloaded and/or locked-up condition. The
letter-writer pretty much took the position that the doctor must be a complete and total idiot, because he
rather sarcastically pointed out that if his house were being invaded by a criminal, precious moments would
be lost while he unlocked and loaded his weapon, thereby allowing the crook time to get the drop on him
or a family menber.

On the one hand, it might make perfect sense to ignore this kind of thing. After all, just how many actual,
real-world crimes are prevented by the homeowner confronting the burglar or whomever and
pointing a pistol at him/her? Statistically, I suspect the number is very small. Every time I read this kind of
comment from a gun-lover, I try very hard to recall the last time I read about such an occasion in the
paper, or heard about it on the electronic news, and I can never recall any. Oh, I’m sure it does
happen, it’s a big ol’ world, after all. On the other hand, a single day doesn’t go by that I don’t
read or hear about someone, somewhere, injured or killed by a carelessly utilized firearm, often right here
in my ‘little’ hometown. (~sigh~) God, guns and guts makes America paranoid. At any price, let’s get a
life, already.

It’s kind of like the ‘full moon’ theory of wacky behavior. Several years ago, I read an article about a
university-level research group that wanted to find what the actual causes were for this widely-accepted,
presumed-to-be-true belief. They decided to make a year-long survey of local hospital emergency rooms,
and analyze ‘cause and effect’ to the degree that it could be determined by studying patient case histories.
Most of the researchers frankly expected a ‘null’ result, or a slightly positive one that could be based on the
inherent psychological outlook of the patients. What they found out shocked them-- the incidents of crazy
behavior were statistically less on the three nights centered around the full moon. Now, not only did
they have to find a reason why this happened, but it seemed the whole preconception was faulty in
the first place, at least in the locality being surveyed.

I mention this full moon thing because a fellow I worked for some years ago was an individual who quite
regularly presented me with what I saw as a serious contradiction in intellectual behavior. Like myself, he
was trained as a service technician, and also enjoyed science-fiction stories and films (mostly the latter, I’m
unsure just how much literary SF he indulged in). For me, it is impossible to divorce my technical abilities
from having a fundamental understanding of basic science and the scientific method. While I like to keep an
open mind, if the data strongly suggest a certain conclusion in any given matter, I accept that conclusion
untill someone can satisfactorily prove otherwise. I can enjoy SF and fantasy as fictional creations, but if
too much ‘real’ science gets conveniently contradicted, I tend to tune out, at least if the creator of the
fictional work is purporting to ‘get real’ with his or her work.

But my associate really believed in things like the ‘full- moon’ effect on human behavior, alien abductions,
astrology, ‘creation-science’, psychic abilities, and all of that sort of pseudo-scientific babble that I
personally only accept as a fantasy scenario for purposes of entertainment. He would usually attempt to
justify his beliefs by citing some ‘expert’ opinion that tried to define a ‘logical, scientific’ explanation for
the phenomena, or failing that, fall back on the ‘so many people believe this, is must be true’ line of

Huh? I don’t think so. What I found so hard to believe is that he was able to divorce the knowledge base
that he used to repair electronic equipment from any and all other related scientific disiplines. I mean,
people, it’s all tied together, you know? Physics, chemistry, biology, most of the other related ologies, and
mathematics, the common language of the known universe. You can’t pick and choose. If you choose to
selectively believe, then there is no particular reason for your car to keep running or your computer to
compute. They might stop at any time, for pretty much any reason-- phases of the moon, because ‘the signs
aren’t right’, because an angry co-worker cast a spell on them.

Proof, please. And kindly don’t go around casually redesigning the universe until you have at least
a reasonable understanding of how it works ‘down on paper’ (or equivalent), objectively verifiable by
disinterested others
. Be humble-- the universe is a big ol’ place, discovering its secrets will take a long,
long time, maybe more time than we will ever have as a species. Don’t read one book, and presume you
grok. And most of all, try to avoid preconceptions, they can make for trouble, big-time.

By now you are probably saying, ‘Gee, Mr. Philosophical Movie Man, we know all this, why the riff de la
obviousness?’. A fair question, I grant you. The point that I’m eventually wending my way toward has to
do with the fact that while the scientific method can be reliably applied towards figuring out how the
universe works, or applying the tools of logic and reason and statistical analysis to problems or perceptions
in general, it tends to work far less accurately when the subject is the interpretation of personal human
experience. Emotions and feelings don’t really exist on a literal, corporeal basis, they exist only as a mental
construct of a sentient mind. This construct is by its nature a tenuous structure, and typically ‘lives’ in a
state of constant flux.

And this line of thinking comes about because (again) earlier this week, I happened to read a series of posts
on the board that returned to the discussion of the death of the Tara character on BtVS this last season.

I first thought of posting a detailed response, but having already done so several months ago, I figured I’d
mostly be rehashing, and anyway there were already several other posters basically arguing exactly what I
would argue. However, I will reiterate here the one key point of my earlier post on the subject, which was
that the dilemma is unsolvable. You can argue effectively for either side because either side has
merit when logic and reason are applied in the most careful fashion possible. Depending on one’s
individual human experience and perceptions
, Tara was either a victim of a ‘cliche’ perpetuated by
poor or insufficiently-creative writing, or the failure of the creative people involved to be honest with their
intended audience, or else just doing what ‘they had to do’ to tell the story they wanted to tell. All of
these things are likely true

The only thing that was different about this series of posts was the suggestion that some fans of the show
who have been recently disappointed should consider actively not watching it when Season 7 starts
in the fall.

Huh? I don’t think so. Yes, I understand that it hurts. A character or situation that meant a lot to a lot of
people was destroyed, but I don’t recommend allowing one bad experience to prejudice oneself towards all
future experience. If this were true, there would be plenty of good doctors who stop the practice of
medicine the first time they lose a patient when they ‘shouldn’t have’, or lawyers who stop defending the
innocent because one of them got convicted despite their best efforts. For sure, the audio/video industry I
work in is chock-full of stupidity, short-sightedness and greed, but they also manage to make some pretty
cool toys on occasion that bring a lot of pleasure into the lives of millions of entertainment-starved

So what’s the very worst case scenario here? Joss screwed up? He made a bad decision and made the other
writers go along with it because he’s the boss? He killed off a character that a lot of people loved
(including yours truly) and was less than convincing with the reasons for doing so? So, is he suddenly a
hopeless, insensitive idiot and all his future works will now be worthless?

You gotta move on. Even if the decision was a bad one (and I’m not saying it was, but again, I understand
how it could be seen that way, I really do), one, or even two or three or ten instances of questionable
creativity doesn’t even begin to negate the vast amount of superior work that has been
presented for our entertainment and (bonus!!) enlightenment over the past six years. An artist’s work is
their child, at least if they care about it, and you need to be careful with the preconceptions when the child
does ‘a bad thing’. Past isn’t automatically prologue. Because BtVS Season 6 was a mega-bummer for
many doesn’t mean it had no value for others, or won’t even turn out to be pleasing to the currently
dismayed when the next year’s story takes off and runs. Don’t tune out-- if you watch Season 7 and don’t
like it, at least you’ll be able to argue your point from actual experience. If 90% of the viewers were
profoundly unhappy with the show (such as may have been with the last season or two of The
), that might be one thing, but no such situation exists with Buffy (or Angel), not even close.
Hey, I wasn’t a big-time fan of Angel Season 3, but I assure you I’ll be watching every ep next season
before I decide whether the show has run its course of creativity or not.

And finally, this whole prior discussion serves to preface my recommendation for this week’s Classic
Movie, La Vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful), directed by Roberto Benigni. This is a film that,
while securely in the plus column as regards worldwide critical opinion, nonetheless generated some
equally vehement detractors because of its particular treatment of certain subject matter.

At this point, I would like to issue a caution, one that I don’t usually do. Part of the job of ‘reviewing’
usually entails providing some description of the events that take place in the film. If the reviewer does a
proper job, s/he will not give away any critical plot points or other aspects of the film that would seriously
‘spoil’ the audience that has yet to see it, particularly if the film has been just newly released and is playing
in theaters.

The situation is slightly different for a film that is out of current release, and is available on video. I have
never seen any actual statistics on this subject, but my instinctive guess is that the majority of video rentals
(and certainly purchases) are of films that the renter/purchaser has already seen. Or, they may have
been intending to see it while it was in the theater, but didn’t get time, etc. etc. Or, it may be a film directed
by someone whom the viewer is familar with and likes. Or, the film may feature an actor or actors that
provide consistantly excellent work, even if the film itself is less then exemplary overall. Whatever the case,
most viewers know at least something about the movie before they see it. Certainly, I fit in this
category. So, I adjust the anount of ‘spoilage’ in my reviews according to the degree of familiarity I expect
my readers to have with the particular flick I’m discussing.

In this case, I happened by plain, random circumstance to be completely unfamiliar with either Life Is
or Roberto Benigni, with the exception of ‘having heard the names’ and the awareness that
the film was highly regarded as a creative work. I was browsing the used laserdisc bins at one of my local
video vendors and came across it, and thought ‘hummm, did a kinda cynical film last week, might be
nice to do a more light-hearted one this week for contrast. Understand this Benigni guy can be pretty
funny, supposedly sort of an Italian Chaplin’
. I plucked the disc from the bin, and then on Thursday
night after work popped it in the player without even reading the dust jacket.

I would suggest if you have not seen this film, and want to, that you might stop reading here and go
rent it
, or else just skip to the Miscellanous section or the Question of the Week. I say this because I
was completely taken by surprise at the sudden and unexpected turn this film makes about half-way
through. Enough surprise, that you may wish to keep your own impressions distinct from mine until after
you’ve seen it for yourself. Whether you end up agreeing with me or not, I guarantee that the viewing
experience will be worth your time, because this is a very heartfelt and emotionally affecting film. Whether
you agree with the way the director realized his story may be up for debate, but his effort is a sincere one,
and so it’s a worthy debate to enter into if you wish.

Still here? OK, then on to the particulars.

Benigni not only wrote and directed Life is Beautiful, he also plays the lead role, a character named
Guido Orefice who does indeed recall visions of Chaplin’s ‘Little Tramp’ and his essentially humorous,
good-hearted, albeit slightly askew view of the rest of the world.

Benigni’s Guido is a jovial young man who moves to Tuscany, Italy in the late 1930’s to take a job as a
waiter in an elegant restaurant owned by his uncle (Giustino Durano), and who eventually wants to open a
bookshop. The car in which he is driving has its brakes fail while going down the long hill into town, and as
it goes careening along one of the main streets, gradually slowing to a halt, he is mistaken for a visiting
dignitary. This case of mistaken identity leads him to a chance meeting with Dora, a village school teacher
(played by Benigni’s real-life wife, Nicoletta Braschi) whom he immediately falls in love with. After
securing the waiter’s job, a series of comic misadventures ensue, during which time he appears destined to
run into Dora over and over again, each time accompanied by some event that seems to imply that their
love is more fated than a matter of random chance. Every character in the film is ‘colorful’ to say the least,
and those viewers who are fans of this type of ‘classic’ old- style film comedy will no doubt feel right at

Midway though the film, the time changes to 1945, and the overall tone changes abruptly. This is
disconcerting at first, but when the film ends and you start to think back over what you have seen, it makes
perfect sense. One of the reasons why ‘good men do nothing’ and so ‘allow evil to triumph’ is that evil
often sneaks up slowly, and wears a disguise of easy dismissibility. The fascists must seem so ludicrously
bereft of sensibility to anyone possessing actual sense, that it is inconceivable that anyone would take them
seriously enough to provide them with any real political power. Guido may be a ‘clown’ but he has ‘sense’,
one reason why Dora finds him so honest and beguiling compared to the man she was previously engaged
to, who often espoused sympathy with the fascist line. The first half of the film is the world as Guido sees
it-- a beautiful, happy world, full of delightful possibilities, and the ‘villains’ that are present are foolish and
mockable, easily defeated by anyone with heart and will. Now it is made clear that for the moment, this is a
pipe-dream, but it also represents the world as it could be, and will be again in time.

Guido has married Dora, and they now have a 5-year-old son, Giosué (Joshua). The Fascists have risen in
prominence, and the town is now very inhospitable to Jews. Guido, a Jew, is inwardly terrified of what is
happening, but he tries to shield his son from the ugliness around him by concocting fanciful tales or
seemingly ‘logical’ explanations of things like the signs in the windows forbidding Jews to enter. ( For
example, when the boy asks why a store sign forbids entrance by ‘Jews and dogs’, Guido laughs it off,
suggesting they post a sign on their own bookshop, restricting entrance to ‘Visigoths’.)

Near the end of the war, all the Jews in town are rounded up by the Fascists and shipped by rail to a death
camp. Guido and Joshua are loaded into a train, and Guido instinctively tries to turn it into a game to
comfort his son. Dora, a gentile, goes to the train station and insists on being made a passenger along with
her husband and son. At first the soldiers refuse her, but finally give in and allow her to board. They travel
to the camp, where the men and women are quickly seperated and lead off to different barracks.

Once interred in the concentration camp, Guido spontaneously creates an involved and ever-expanding
fictional story to continue to protect his son from true awareness of the actual horror of the place. He
pretends that everything that is happening to them is part of a game, and the first ‘player’ to get 1,000
points will win. The ‘prize’ is a tank, a real one, and Joshua will be able to drive it anywhere he wants to
go. (Joshua had a toy tank that we see earlier in the picture, apparently a favorite toy.)

This is the point where one has to remember that this story is not an attempt to depict the reality of a
concentration camp-- the chance of pulling off a stunt like this is of course close to zero. The point is that
Guido doesn’t have any other way to fight back at his oppressors-- he doesn’t have a gun, or money for
bribes, or friends in the underground resistance, or anything but his quick wit and creativity. His primary
mission is to protect his family and try to keep them from almost certain death. I simply cannot agree with
those critics who seem to feel that this is an Italian version of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and that it is impossible to
utilize humor in conjunction with the Holocaust. While the ‘final solution’ subject itself certainly isn’t
funny, fascism is assuredly more than ripe for being seriously mocked, and this is exactly what Guido is
doing, as he has always done, although the primary practical effect now is to work towards survival.

A key scene that makes this intent very clear takes place shortly after Guido and Joshua arrive at the camp.
A pair of agressively intimidating German officers/guards stomp into the men’s barracks and demand to
know if any of the prisoners speak German. Guido doesn’t, but volunteers that he does, and walks over to
the guards, who eye him contemptuously. Ordered to translate into Italian, the one guard barks a long and
involved series of rules that the prisoners are to follow. After each pause, Guido ‘translates’ the ‘order’
into the ‘rules of the game’ that everyone must follow to win the ‘first prize’. Joshua stares at his father in
fascination, taking everything in as if it were completely true. Guido has no idea what the real ‘rules’ are,
and in fact there is no need to. The one obvious real rule doesn’t need translation-- it is to stay alive by any
means possible.

Life Is Beautiful is not a story about fascists, or concentration camps or even the Holocaust. It is a
story about the need to provide hope and the sense that life can transcend the horrors of the moment and
come out the other side with spirit intact or recoverable. It is not about finding humor in the land of the
humorless, it is about destroying that negativity with positive actions.

E. Pluribus Cinema, Unum,



Technically subjective objectivity:

La Vita è bella / Life Is Beautiful is available on DVD, the review copy was on laserdisc. The film
was released in1997 in Italy, and in 1998 in the USA. Running time seems to vary slightly with the
particular version, but is somewhere between 1 hour, 54 minutes / 2 hours, 2 minutes. The original
theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1, which was preserved on the laserdisc edition and presumably also on the
DVD version.

The screenplay was written by Roberto Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami. The producers were Gianluigi
Braschi, Mario Cotone and Elda Ferri. Cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli with film editing by
Simona Paggi. Production design, art direction and costume design were all by Danilo Donati, with set
decoration by Luigi Urbani. Music was by Nicola Piovani and Jacques Offenbach. The original theatrical
sound mix was Dolby Digital, DTS and other standard digital film formats.

Cast overview:

Roberto Benigni .... Guido Orefice
Nicoletta Braschi .... Dora
Giustino Durano .... Guido's uncle
Sergio Bini Bustric .... Ferruccio Papini
Giuliana Lojodice .... School principal
Amerigo Fontani .... Rodolfo
Pietro De Silva .... Bartolomeo
Francesco Guzzo .... Vittorino
Raffaella Lebboroni .... Elena
Giorgio Cantarini .... Giosué Orefice
Marisa Paredes .... Madre di Dora
Horst Buchholz .... Dr. Lessing
Claudio Alfonsi .... Amico Rodolfo
Gil Baroni .... Prefect
Massimo Bianchi .... Man with Key



Here’s an interesting article about M. Night Shyamalan’s new film Signs and what he attempts to
provide for his audience in all of his films to date:


(c) 2002 / The Philadelphia Inquirer


Hey! It’s (almost) the end of July! (Almost) the beginning of August!! So soon it will be time for:

The Second Annual Guilty Pleasures / Buried Treasures Month o’ Reviews here at

( Yes, I had such a ball doing this last year, that I decided to do it all over again for 2002. Wow, tradition
is kewl!! )

These are those strange little flicks (or great big epic-y ones) that you really kinda like, but are not so sure
you want to share that fact with your friends, family or co- workers. They can be B-flicks that are way
better than expected, or A-flicks that seemingly no one out there in movie-land liked but you. They can be
stuff that never even made it to the movie theater despite being intended for same, but got released directly
into the video market.

While I’m sure I can come up with another four or five ‘film fatales’ to add to my choices from last year,
I’d be more than happy to accept some ‘guest host’ reviews from ya’all on this topic. We’re a pretty
accepting buncha semi-intellectual philosophical dweebs here at ATPo, so if you want to come out with a
GP/BT film of your very own, then be aware that there is no place like this place near this place, so this
must be the place!

Pick a flick, write up a review in the general style of this weekly column, and send it to me at:


as a .txt or Word RTF file. If you have a Mac, you may also just send it as the body of your e-mail if your
Mac doesn’t like to format WP files for Windows. You don’t need to do the ‘technical stuff’, Misc. or
QotW if you don’t want to, but if you do, please do!

Any questions, same addy. Get those guilty feelings out in the open, you’ll feel better and maybe clue the
rest of us in to a worthwhile and overlooked cinematic gem, or even just a good Saturday night’s mindless



The Question of the Week:

Is there any subject matter that you thought was impossible to treat in a humorous fashion, either
directly or satirically, but then saw a film that managed to do so? While normally I’m looking for films
here, in this case I’ll bend the rules a mite to accept TV movies or shows, since TV-land has traditionally
been a home for satire and parody (for example Monty Python or SNL).

Post’emifyou’vegot’em, and as always, take care! See you next week, and maybe on time, this time!


~ ~ ~

Classic Movie of the Week

Best Picks in Flicks for the Philosophically Inclined or Just Plain Bored

- for over -

0.015 Century


~ ~ ~


[> On a lighter note,one of my personal favourites would have to be "Strictly Ballroom" -- AurraSing, 18:54:49 07/28/02 Sun

I dare anyone who watches this movie and then runs across one of those PBS ballroom dancing specials not to guffaw even contemplating sitting there and watching the contestants dance with a completely straight face.

It turned what appears to be a boring and straight-laced sport into a wonderful comedy about not wanting to conform anymore,about the sadness of being an ugly ducking but most of all it's about love and how it turns up in the most unlikely places.

[> [> Re: On a lighter note,one of my personal favourites would have to be "Strictly Ballroom" -- fresne, 11:57:28 08/01/02 Thu

And of course it contains some darn nice dance sequences. Personally, I love it when Dad and Grandma show the young man a thing or two about Spanish dancing.

Then again, I love Baz Luhrmann's stuff.

[> A thoughtful review, thank you -- Rahael, 18:59:12 07/28/02 Sun

I haven't seen Vita e bella yet, because I find that such films just hit too hard for me.

I avoid a lot of films - about war, about genocide, and any play/film which advocates hatred of other human beings.

Mostly, my problem with war films is that we spend so much time in the head of the soldiers. The second category is too harrowing. And the third just frightens me. I have no problems with films about hatred - that's a different category for me.

I think anything can have humour in it, or be treated with humour. Gallows humour in the face of tragedy is a very important part of human survival. It is of course, a matter of careful handling. Many films treat murder humorously. I think Vita e bella is one of the riskier films, and I can't comment on its effectiveness because I haven't seen it. I have a feeling that its humour would make it even more gut wrenching for me.

Just a minor nitpick - you quote Shakespeare as having said "to thine own self be true" - that isn't true. The creepy Polonious says that. It's doubly ironic that he makes this statement in Hamlet, a play which questions the nature of self. It's frequently attributed to Shakespeare as a wise maxim - though it's a bit like attributing a bit of dialogue by the Mayor to Joss (though the Mayor is of course, far more likeable than Polonious). Reminds me of the scene in Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" where Mr Deasey says:

"As Shakespeare says, 'Put money in your purse,'" and Stephen mutters "Iago."

[> [> You're welcome. As to quotes and attributions... ( Note: *Spoilers* for film ) -- OnM, 20:34:34 07/28/02 Sun

... the source of the quote was the one I most commonly use, a website somewhat portentiously titled "On Matters of Most Grave Concern", but which harbors a stunning collection of quotes from sources both old and new, all nicely grouped by general topic.


If a quote is one made by a character in a play, film, book, TV show, wouldn't the 'author' of the quote be, in fact, the writer of said work? Is there a conventional method for how such a quote should be presented?

I'd be interested to know, if so-- this seems like a grey area to me.

Whether Vita e bella is a film that you will find to be an enriching or depressing experience is a tough call to make, and I certainly wouldn't presume to suggest anything other than my own reactions, as stated in my review. One thing for sure, there is very little time spent in the 'heads of the soldiers'-- the story is very clearly told from Guido's perspective, and Guido intends to be a survivor, or at least try to achieve survival for his beloved wife and child. In this regard, it's a very life- affirming film, despite the darkness that shifts the tone of the second part. The director's intentions seem very honorable to me, and I appreciate the risk he took by structuring the film the way that he did.

[> [> [> quotation convention -- Solitude1056, 21:08:14 07/28/02 Sun

The quotation convention that I see most often in academic works is that of the quote, followed by the title of the piece, and the author's name. The assumption is that in the fiction piece, the author had a character say the line, which is different from the author himself saying it. I have seen quotes where it's simply quote and author, but I prefer quote, title, and author, myself, and that's how I usually do it in my own academic pieces. I've noticed that Ded also does the same, in the essays he's sent me.

[> [> [> [> Re: quotation convention/ War films -- Rahael, 05:55:26 07/29/02 Mon

I avoid if at all possible watching any film about war or its effects. I might, I think read a novel about war – only I haven’t.

Of course, I read any amount of poetry about war, though actually, I do not share many people’s fondness for poetry of the first world war, though there are some individual poems I like a lot. I should probably count Greek, Indian and Icelandic epics about warriors and wars. And I always keep forgetting that my main historical interest has been the New Model Army, and looking at English politics purely through their heads! (Okay, there is some great irony here – I only remembered this as I was writing this out.)

I guess I am interested in the following questions: why do people watch films about war? What do you get out of it? This is not a rhetorical question, but one which I am genuinely interested in finding out. Is it, like Buffy, an examination of human beings under unusual circumstances, an extended metaphor? Is it a personal interest because it has touched you in some way?

Perhaps my reaction is affected by the different experience I have when watching the visual medium and the act of reading. I’ve mentioned before that ‘watching’ is a phenomenon that was new to me. I did not grow up with a television, and when I was little, I had heard of it, and tried hard to imagine what it might be like.

I find that reading gives me a control that watching does not. I am one of those horrendous people who underline and make little notes when reading things. I can stop at any point. I can put the book down. I can pick it up when I am feeling differently. I can look things up. It’s just looking at text itself – I can feel a distance from it. I can critique it, agree with it, disagree with it, understand what the writer wants me to feel and how she achieves it.

I most often read things twice. A particularly good passage gets reread often as five times. I may stop and copy it out. Most importantly, books leave a lot to the imagination. Words, groupings of words, descriptions of texture, colour smell, these unleash flashes of memories, ideas, concepts. Reactions which are yours alone.

Film, the visual medium I find inserts itself into my mind, ready made. I do not feel the same critical distance from it. I find myself insidiously, uncritically taken along with the narration of the film, and if that particular film depicts brutal and random violence, spectacular explosions and the like, I find it disturbing. I lose the control to imagine things the way I want. I’m told how to see things.

This is not to say I don’t love films, nor that I cannot watch violent films. The best films speak visually to me as words do sometimes. Convince me that there is no better way to see what is being depicted, and for some reason keep me thinking, questioning all the way through. Miller's Crossing, by the Coen brothers for example is a particularly violent film. There are many terrible scenes where men are humiliated by others with the use of violence/guns. It successfully depicted to me both the viewpoint of the man holding the gun, and the man trembling on his knees. Most importantly, it is not emotionally manipulative, a quality I cannot value highly enough.

Also, a counterpoint to your question about difficult subjects being handled with humour. What about great films about distasteful subjects? D.W Griffiths ‘Birth of a Nation’ which I have never seen. Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will”, which I understand to be enormously influential.

As for quotations, in written essays, and academic work, if I were to quote something for any special reason, I’m more likely to quote because of the context. In other words, I would quote “To thine own self be true” as an ironic statement. But that’s because I’m aware that it is probably the second most common mistake people make with Shakespeare (the first is the quote “Lead on Macduff”, which really should be “Lay on, Macduff”).

Like Sol, in essays, I'd always footnote every quote with the title and author. I'd also add page number, date of publication.

In posts/ordinary conversations, I am more often circumspect. Often novelists most quoted phrases tend to happen in the narrative, so I have no problem someone saying “as Forster said, Only Connect”. Also, Oscar Wilde is a playwright whose aphorisms tend to be distributed indiscriminately among his characters as amusing and witty lines, and can be taken safely out of context. But this is only my point of view – more discerning readers of Wilde might have a different one.

[> [> [> [> [> Learn something new every day. -- matching mole, 08:54:54 07/29/02 Mon

I had no idea that the term New Model Army refered to anything other than a punk band. A quick search on google revealed the earlier NMA - a military group during the English Civil War. Thanks for broadening my horizons.

[> [> [> [> [> Reading vs. watching -- Sophist, 09:20:12 07/29/02 Mon

I find that reading gives me a control that watching does not. ... Film, the visual medium I find inserts itself into my mind, ready made. I do not feel the same critical distance from it.

I think yours is the most common experience. I've always found it odd that I get far more emotionally involved in books than I ever do watching TV or movies. I almost always feel somehow distant in the theater; horror movies don't work for me because I simply don't get scared. There are exceptions to this -- Schindler's List, for example, had a profound effect on me. With books, in contrast, I can lose myself completely.

I'm just curious whether anyone else experiences this "opposite" reaction.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I do... -- Rob, 10:28:40 07/29/02 Mon

I am an avid reader. I adore reading. I do it all the time. And yet I never find myself with the emotional reactions that I do when I watch a stirring film. I have never cried reading a book; I have watching a movie. I have never truly been scared by a horror book; I have by horror movies. I am a very visual person. When I'm reading a book, I find myself very capable of distancing myself from the action. I can look up and away from the book; a great deal of the time I read in crowded places. I just find it very easy to not get too involved if I don't want to. That is not to say that there are not some books I adore. As I said, I love reading. And there are some exceptions to this rule--#1 being Neil Gaiman. But then, going with my visual preference, a great deal of his best works are comic books, except for his novel, "American Gods."

When you are in a movie theatre, there is no way to escape the film. The sounds surround you. The picture fills almost your entire field of vision. Even when I watch a film at home, I can shut out the entire world by turning on a DVD. There are films that make me cry or feel sad or happy or make laugh every time I see them. (There are a lotta Buffy eps that do that for me too.) A great background score helps a lot, too, whether it's playfully dark, like a Danny Elfman piece, or sweepingly epicy like John Williams.
And no film or book has ever touched me, in my entire life, the way that "Moulin Rouge" did (with the exception of "Buffy" and "Six Feet Under," which I hold in equal regard to each other, and to "Moulin Rouge").


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Emotional Involvement -- Rahael, 12:37:38 07/29/02 Mon

Thanks for these - made me think some more.

I'd say I had a more instinctive emotional reaction to films - I often cry when watching films, which doesn't really happen when I read books.

But I'd also say that I tend to forget visual images pretty quickly. Words have more power for me. Whole books take root in my mind, creating a whole world, an atmosphere that stays with me forever. I know lines of poems by heart - they become part of me. Each powerful book I read is kind of like a whole new room in my mind. A room which gains in depth with each rereading.

Thanks for the recommendation of Das Boot, Mundus. It is actually one of the films I have on my 'must watch' list. Perhaps it's because I am so politically opinionated that I have such trouble with so much film making about wars. There still seems to be this residual glamour surrounding guns/killers/soldiers. Even if it's a kind of anti-hero glamor. Can I just mention in passing that I loathe James Bond? lol. A quirk of mine.

Mole, the New Model is a fascinating army because it was made up of volunteers, not conscripts. They saw themselves as fighting for certain values - anti the tyranny of the Crown, safeguarding the constitutional freedoms of England. And as a side note re the whole issue of anti-semitisim, Cromwell argued in the 1650s to formally welcome Jews to England. His fellow councillors argued him down, but only formally. Informally, the welcome remained. But best not mention the anti-Catholicism!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Emotional Involvement & Memory -- shadowkat, 13:01:07 07/29/02 Mon

Interesting discussion regarding emotional involvement and memory.

Sophist tends to react more to books, less to movies, Rob more to movies, Rah more to movies but also to books, which appear to resonate more.

For me - my emotional reaction depends on the film and/or book. Most horror novels don't scare me but the movies do.
Example - The Shining as a novel - no impact. The movie?
Scared the wits out of me.

I too am an avid reader and tend to read just about everything. But I can't remember lines or lyrics or poetry.
I can tell you play by play everything I saw on film and if I read the book closely? I can tell you the entire plot, characters, theme, exactly what happened of a book I read twenty years ago. I can still relate the Great Gatsby, and I read that at least twenty years ago as an example.
Of course I read the book and saw the movie. But I can also tell you the plot of C.S. Lewis NArnia books which I read over 25 years back. (okay I feel old now.)

My memory is more visual than auditory. If I can see the story in my head, I'll always remember it. If I see it, write about it, and read it aloud - it's ingrained forever.
Some episodes of Buffy will never leave my head. I think I have Seeing Red and OMWF imprinted on my brain for example.

Does the way we remember something affect our enjoyment of it? I don't remember anything I hear - song lyrics go right through my head, poetry is the same way - yet I truly love it. So maybe it doesn't affect enjoyment. No my enjoyment and emotional attachment is more linked to whether I can relate to what is happening in the story in a personal way.
If I can't relate - it's unlikely to move me. If I can - it will.

I tend to avoid slapstick comedy for example because it makes me cringe, not laugh. I love dark, black comedy. But slapstick - where we laugh at someone who is being humilated is very painful to me. I find myself identifying too closely to the person being humilated - ex: Meet The Parents. Yet - I loved the first Pink Panther movie. So perhaps it is the type of humilation? Or maybe my own experiences?

YEt, I can be affected emotionally by something I've never experienced myself - if I can relate to the metaphor.
Schindler's List affected me deeply for instance. So it doesn't have to be an exact experience.

I think part of creating art is hunting a way of expressing yourself on an emotional level to your audience. In a way it's like walking a tight rope - you don't want to manipulate the audiences emotions (at least not obivously, you'll lose them) on the other hand you want to affect them emotionally - whether that is to scare them or make them cry. And you want to be true to the story. How artists manage to pull that off continues to fascinate me.

yes...another ramble. hope made some sense. Nice thread.
Thanks OM et al.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Emotional Involvement & Memory -- Sophist, 13:35:08 07/29/02 Mon

My memory is more visual than auditory. If I can see the story in my head, I'll always remember it. If I see it, write about it, and read it aloud - it's ingrained forever

That's a good point. My visual memory is much better than my audio one (though I do remember song lyrics well, just not, say, college professors :)).

But I'm not sure that affects the immediate emotional impact of a work. Maybe it does; much of our emotional reaction depends on how something resonates with things we remember. OTOH, you'd think the emotion of a movie would be apparent within the confines of the movie itself.

This is a long-winded way of saying I'm clueless.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Emotional Involvement & Memory -- Dead Soul, 14:19:52 07/29/02 Mon

I'm so heavily verbal, i.e., left-brained vs/ right-brained that I've had dreams that are nothing more than me reading, that is actually seeing on the page, a "new" book by a favorite author that my subconscious has made up.

Scariness/gore in neither books nor movies actually scares me but in books something really extreme can make me a little uncomfortable - although I think books are allowed to be more extreme than movies simply because a.) they aren't visual, and b.) in general, any given book has fewer readers than a given movie (e.g., how many more people saw "Hannibal" than read the book - I might be completely wrong, I have no idea what the box office vs. book sales score is).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Emotional Involvement & Memory -- aliera, 16:40:57 07/29/02 Mon

Hey, you're younger than me, so no grousing.

I think my experiences are different from most (even on this board). I can easily go a long, long time in the summer with no TV not even a day without a new book, although as I've gotten older it tends more and more towards non-fiction. About the emotional or intellectual resonance, I tend to manipulate this more for myself now by my choices in material.

Let me ask you this instead...what types of scenes do you remember most vividly?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Scenes remember most vivdly? Going back to Btvs (Spoilers through Season 6) -- shadowkat, 18:35:56 07/29/02 Mon

Since we are on the ATPbtvs board - I figure I'll take this back to Buffy.

"Let me ask you this instead...what types of scenes do you remember most vividly?"

Interesting question. Hard to answer. Here are a few examples of the scenes I remember from Buffy vividly at this moment in time:

I remember Buffy on the floor of the darkened hallway, Angelus just attacked Willow and she barely saved her. Someone askes if she is alright. For some reason this scene is the most vivid of Innocence/Surprise. Next to the incredibly painful scene in his apartment when he tells her that she didn't quite cut it.

I will never forget the scene in the bathroom. If I close my eyes, I can see it replayed in black and white. Just as I see Spike back at the crypt breaking a glass in his hands.
I also will never forget Willow sitting on the floor, her eyes glowing red.

The scene from the Gift...when Buffy tells her Sister why she must jump and does jump.

Willow throwing knives at Glory.

Buffy and Spike having sex as the building came down around them in Smashed.

The scene from I will Always Remember You - Buffy is in tears screaming that she will never forget Angel being human.

In movies? I vividly remember Jack Nicholson knocking an AX through the wall in the Shining and saying here's Johnny.
I also vividly remember Malcom McDowell singing "Singing in The Rain" as he attacks the family in his white tights and black bowler hat in A Clockwork Orange. I remember the scene in The Searchers where John Wayne has finally found the Apache Scar. Or the scene in the Wild Bunch where the children torture a scorpion.

More positive images...the dance in Pride and Prejudice, the proposal and the scene where Colin Firth dives into the pool then encounters Elizabeth outside his grounds, his awkward embarrassement (version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle), the scene where Dustin Hoffman rips off his whig and exposes himself as a man in Tootsie.

I think the images that resonate, that I remember are the ones that hit me on a gut level. Violent scenes. Scenes that scare me. That make me turn away. Or scenes that intrigue me, make me think, turn me on.

I remember renting the film The Haunting - the 1960 film with Clair Bloom, Julie Harris based on Shirly Jackson novel. As a child my brother and I watched a version on PBS.
When I re-watched the movie version with him, he suddenly exclaimed during one particularly horrifying scene - "oh! It's a movie. I always thought that memory was from a re- occuring dream I had." (The image/memory that he remembered was of a woman running out of the old house in terror almost to get hit by a car. The woman couldn't say what frightened her...and we never found out.)

I think the types of scenes we remember may be different for all of us.

I was reading a thread from the Feb archive on what everyone thought of Season 6 so far. It was fascinating - people loved different episodes and placed them in different categories.

Everyone voted OMWF as excellent.
But some put OAFA as mediocre, some as excellent. Some loved Smashed. Some hated it. Some preferred DMP, some thought it was the worste. What delighted me - is all the opinions were valid, the variations had to do with what resonated with each person. What images were vivid to them.

So my question - assuming anyone reads this rambling post or makes it this far:
Which images are most vivid from Season 6? Which resonated for you? Without re-watching the episode, which images will stay with you? Haunt you? And why?

For example: Seeing Red will haunt me...because the scene in the bathroom and in the crypt immediately thereafter - hit me where I lived. It brought up images and feelings about things that I hadn't really thought about. From a pov that never occurred to me. I'm still wrestling with these images and feelings. Just as Smashed
did. And Dead Things. I'll never forget that scene in the Bronze or the crypt door scene. Why? I think because the sex scenes and relationship between Spike and Buffy was so different than what I'd seen before. It was seductive and
racy and violent. And intense. Neither character was portrayed in a good or bad light. It was like watching two people caught up in a hurricane of emotion, attraction, and addiction. Feeding off of each other. It brought up questions in my head about the nature of human relationships, sexuality, love, physical and emotional attraction, desire, and domestic violence. These were disturbing questions but ones that continue to buzz in my head unanswered.

Then there was the vividness of Willow sucking the text into her. Going dark. This brought up questions of vengeance of how far we are willing to go. What breaks us?
More questions that hum in my head unanswered. Probably why I keep writing essays. My attempt to answer them.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Scenes remembered most vividly? -- OnM, 20:40:56 07/29/02 Mon

The two most vivid scenes that I recall from S6 both involve Buffy, and both are intensely painful to watch.

One, the scene where Buffy confesses to Tara that she's been sleeping with Spike, and Tara accepts this non-judgmentally, which horrifies Buffy even more.

Two, the scene at the end of Bargaining Pt II where Buffy is on the tower and wants to kill herself, and knowing why, which we didn't the first time around, but did later on at rerun time.

Both of these images are steeped in real horror, not the traditional gory, fantasy kind. But they also clearly illustrate why Buffy is a creature of the light, because in both cases she goes through the pain and comes out the other side.

There are many other scenes, but these are the first two that come to mind. Perhaps I'll try to do a list at greater length tomorrow.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Scenes remember most vividly? Going back to Btvs (Spoilers through Season 6) -- aliera, 05:34:57 07/30/02 Tue

Season six
Buffy digging out of the grave and crouching in an alley...Buffy framed by stone angel wings...Buffy sitting on her bed surrounded by a barrier of garlic...Buffy in the alley in DT...

Willow bargaining...in Wrecked...Willow with the bramble of lethe...crouched on the floor holding her legs against herself when Tara leaves...Willow in the Bronze with Amy...her eyes going black in SR...crying in Xander's arms

Spike in Buffy's house in B2 as she stands above him on the stairs and sitting with her in the 'living room', crying by the tree...in the crypt 'I saved you everynight'...in the grave holding up a look-a-like vamp in front of himself as an offering...his face in DT...his face in SR...barefoot in the demon's cave.

Xander with Willow in the woods...xander in the kitchen 'I have tools'...his face as Anya does her dance of capitalist joy...dancing with Anya in OMWF...his face in Hell's Bells...with the ax...standing in front of Proserpexa offering.

But my most vivid memory of Buffy is from season two...cruched before Angelus holding the sword between her two hands like a prayer...realizing she has herself and it's enough.

Sorry would like to respond further, but I just looked up and realized I'm late for work. Perhaps more later!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Scenes remember most vivdly? Going back to Btvs (Spoilers through Season 6) -- ponygirl, 06:36:09 07/30/02 Tue

There are many scenes from BtVS that stick with me. I can remember describing Becoming 2 to a friend and both of us actually getting goosebumps. S6 will probably have the lion's share of such moments just because of its emotional intensity, but Dead Things really got to me. Watching the alley scene between Buffy and Spike I choked a bit, it was though I had forgotten to breathe. I'm usually pretty conscious of my responses to movies and tv especially when I'm watching with other people it's rare that I get caught off guard by my own emotions, but in that scene? I completely forgot that I was watching something separate from myself. I've had that happen on occasion with movies and books but never with tv.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Emotional Involvement & Memory -- mundusmundi, 08:46:24 07/30/02 Tue

Both movies and books resonate with me. Though I'd have to say that I prefer books that read like movies over movies that play like books. The novels I love the most are usually very visceral, along the lines of Martin Cruz Smith or Michael Connelly. I'm presently reading Laura Hillenbrand's marvelous Seabiscuit, and the prose is so lean and muscular, so cinematic, that I find myself playing a movie of it in my mind. (Gary Ross, the writer-director of Pleasantville, has reportedly snatched up the screen rights, to which I've mixed feelings.)

I tend to dislike static films, which is why I'm not a fan of the Dogme '95 or low-budgie digital Sundance flicks. I like movies that engage me on a variety of levels. Steven Soderbergh is, right now, the filmmaker who does that better than anyone else. He makes movies the way people breathe -- so naturally. (In fact, he got his start with a low-budget indie, sex, lies and videotape, but that film is very organically made, as a friend recently said, and only seems static at first glance.) The new Ocean's Eleven will never be mistaken for one the all-time great movies, but I get jazzed watching it. Soderbergh tosses off complex scenes so casually it makes me laugh. That's the kind of film that stays with me.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I love Soderbergh too.....esp. Out of Sight -- Rahael, 11:14:39 07/30/02 Tue

I watched it in during a wonderful December in 1998. You have reminded me that it is one of those films that has stayed with me - all spine chilling, romantic and complex.

In fact, I can't think of that Christmas without remembering it. It was just the right film at the right moment. Magic!

Vertigo, North by Northwest, Bad day at Blackrock, The Apartment are other films that stick in my memory.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Out of Sight...great flick -- mundusmundi, 12:44:18 07/30/02 Tue

Although it did disappointing box office when initially released, Out of Sight really launched Soderbergh's comeback and Clooney and Lopez's careers. I love the editing in all his movies, and especially in OoS, which features Anne V. Coates' brilliant work. She's the genius who edited Lawrence of Arabia four decades ago, practically inventing the jumpcut. (Remember the famous shot of Lawrence blowing out a candle, that cuts away to the sun rising over the desert? Ahhh, beautiful.)

Save for Traffic, which is disappointingly lacking in goodies, nearly all his DVDs are stuffed with extras. The commentary tracks are particularly fun, since they usually include some of the stars needling each other (and possibly drunk), and in the case of The Limey, Soderbergh tangles half-jokingly with his screenwriter, Lem Dobbs, who accuses him of ruining the movie. Mwahaha.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> There are at least 2 versions -- mundusmundi, 13:10:41 07/29/02 Mon

of Das Boot, both of which are worth seeing. The shorter version, "only" 2 1/2 hours, is the one that premiered in the States back in 1981. The longer version clocks in at around 4 1/2 hours and is the one that was initially released in Germany as a TV miniseries. As somebody else wrote (I think at the IMdB), the former plays more like an "adventure," while the latter feels like a "mission." The short version gives a more general depiction of the characters and compresses the action scenes so that they offer more thrills and chills. The longer one is more character-oriented, draws out the cat-and-mouse games between the U-Boat and the British destroyers to riveting and nearly unbearable extremes, and is ultimately more satisying, I think. Needless to say, watch it on DVD.

You indirectly reminded me of another inherent flaw of war movies, which Das Boot shares: No girls allowed. Save for the stereotypical sweetheart back home, prostitute in port or French lass rolling in hay, war films are invariably about boys. 'Tis the nature of the beast.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Emotional Involvement -- matching mole, 14:01:43 07/29/02 Mon

I think that film (especially in the theatre) has a much more immediate emotional impact. However, although I generally don't react as strongly to books, the effect is generally more subtle and more long lasting. My imaginative memory is not terribly visual and I can't really conjure up the effect of a film or a painting when I'm not looking at it. With a book I'm imagining it as I go along and it works its way more deeply into my subconscious. I can recall the effect even when I'm not reading it. That's not to say that I can recall all the details of the plot - I have a terrible memory for such things unless I've read or watched multiple times.

For example - yesterday I went and saw 'Minority Report' based on a short story by a favourite author of mine, Philip K. Dick. The visual style and imagery of the film had an impact that none of Dick's written work could duplicate. I waited for the conclusion with much greater anticipation, I was more worried for the immediate safety of the characters than I ever would be reading something he wrote. However when I read a really good PKD novel I'm left with the sense of quiet unease. I'm not moved to tears (or even close to it) by the plight of Dick's characters. But the book insinuates things about society, human interaction, the nature of reality itself in a way that would be very hard to do in a film. That feeling will always be with me while the impact of Minority Report is already fading. That's not necessarily a comment on the quality of the film but on how my mind works.

Reading poetry to myself generally has almost no effect on me. Hearing it read aloud (even if I'm the one reading) or listening to song lyrics can have a very strong effect on me. In fact I'd guess that songs have moved me to tears (or close to it) more than all other forms of art combined. And I can remember lyrics really well. It's too bad I'm tone deaf!

Thanks for the info on the New Model Army. Next I'll find out that Captain Sensible and Johnny Rotten were the names of important advisors to Cromwell.

Like Rah, I think my own anti-war bias is strong enough to make watching war films difficult. The war movie that had the strongest positive effect on me was 'The Grand Illusion'. I recognize its rather naive idealism but I can't help but get carried away by it (much like John Lennon's Imagine).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> "I was a male war bride" - my favourite War film! -- Rahael, 14:36:50 07/29/02 Mon

Mundus, you reminded me of the above Cary Grant film which I love, with your comment 'no girls allowed'. You know, I hadn't even thought of that? lol. How startlingly obvious now.

Anyway, I recommend it to anyone who might be inexplicably unaware of it. It's excellent.

And Mole, I too love Philip K Dick, and he has exactly the same uneasy effect on. His world is both so real, and so utterly strange all at the same time.

And I think your comment about the interaction of your imagination and the book, working its way deeper into your consciousness is exactly my experience.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> You're quite the exception... -- Darby, 19:55:08 07/29/02 Mon

I've been doing a classroom / laboratory exercise to help students figure out how their minds process information (and to figure out whether they share compatabilities with professors, an incredibly useful ability) for a number of years, and I find that science majors are overwhelmingly visual.

Did you see the posts here about the "hidden message" in Minority Report that changes the ending dramatically? I think it went up about a week ago in the middle of a huge thread on another topic (wish I could remember what), and I think D'Herblay originated it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: You're quite the exception... -- matching mole, 08:50:02 07/30/02 Tue

Interesting - the visual memory thing. Maybe my left brain is visual (I do understand abstract concepts better if they're presented as an image) but my right brain isn't?

I haven't been checking the board very regularly of late so I missed the Minority Report discussion. I'll look it up.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: You're quite the exception... -- mundusmundi, 09:03:27 07/30/02 Tue

Did you see the posts here about the "hidden message" in Minority Report that changes the ending dramatically? I think it went up about a week ago in the middle of a huge thread on another topic (wish I could remember what), and I think D'Herblay originated it

Terry Gilliam performed a similar feat in Brazil (another movie Minority Report is incredibly derivative of and which none of the critics deigned to notice), except Brazil plays for keeps and at the end shows you what actually happened to poor Jonathan Pryce. Spielberg, as usual, wants to have it both ways, to be a "serious" filmmaker without having the stones to back up this new trend toward seriousness. I liked him better in the 70's and early 80's when he was unabashedly populist. And when he bothered to employ an editor.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Speilberg -- matching mole, 09:23:03 07/30/02 Tue

I tracked down the thread and I have to say that it seems a most Dickian conclusion. I really enjoyed MR even though I certainly agree that the ending was completely gratuitous. Mostly I liked seeing an sf film that wasn't an endless series of explosions.

I think that mundus' comment about Speilberg wanting to have it both ways is very interesting given his tendency to make films based on work by authors that seem (to me at any rate) to have completely different world views from his own. Ballard and now Dick.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Not to mention Alice Walker. -- mundusmundi, 12:35:13 07/30/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Reading vs. watching -- aliera, 15:14:28 07/29/02 Mon

I, also. My imagination is more fully engaged.

[> [> [> [> [> Not wild about war films. -- mundusmundi, 11:46:37 07/29/02 Mon

I think because most of them fall into a pulverizing dichotomy: pro or anti. The former tend to be jingoistic and the latter pendantic. From John Wayne to John Milius, pro- war movies can give you a temporary charge that makes you hate yourself in the morning, while highly praised anti-war films like Platoon or Paths of Glory often strike me as "thesis movies" that don't give you any room to think or breathe. If anything, the glut of war movies since Saving Private Ryan is even worse, mimicking the jittery, washed-out style and piled-on carnage of Spielberg's film (a movie that, in and of itself, is deeply confused about what it's trying to say). My favorite war movies usually use war as peripheral to the subject. Das Boot, for example, takes you so deeply into its German characters that you can't help but have empathy. It's held up remarkably well after 20 years. Ditto Patton, which is over 30 years old and manages to refrain from becoming the usual glorifying biopic to deliver a compelling portrait of an enigmatic personality. The movie somehow balances Patton's love for war (the battle scenes themselves are horrifyingly beautiful) with the bigger picture of blood and destruction.

[> [> [> [> [> Wow. This deserves a better response than I can formulate at this late hour. -- OnM, 20:45:43 07/29/02 Mon

As do many of the other responses! Great stuff here, try to get some thoughts together tomorrow before work and post 'em.

Thanks guys, and especially Rah.

BTW, seconding mundus's recommendation of Das Boot. If you are only ever going to see one single war movie in your life, this is the one.

[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - July 27th 2002 -- Cactus Watcher, 20:43:27 07/28/02 Sun

"The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you
will—eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned
impostor couldn't be happy with."

Talk about things that strangely can be funny. This quote from nobel prize winner, Joseph Brodsky, makes me grin. He wasn't talking in generalities here. He was talking about himself. He was a great poet. He was definitely eccentric. Yes, I met the man, and he is one of the reasons I firmly believe in separating what you think about an artist's work from what you feel about them personally. No, I didn't hate the guy, but he certainly was a different person when he was writing.

[> My pick for best comic depiction of non-comic topic is... -- Rob, 22:58:10 07/28/02 Sun

...what I consider to be one of the best black comedies ever put to film, and bar none, the best film ever about high school...the cult classic...(drum roll please)..."Heathers." Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that a movie could find the humor about teenage suicide, but, honest to God, this movie does. Somehow it is able to brilliantly satirize the situations and people's reactions to the deaths, and yet not make light of suicide itself.

To attempt to describe the movie to anyone who hasn't seen it is hard, because it is impossible to convey just how truly, genuinely funny it is. In fact, when my friend first tried to describe it to me, all I could wonder was how that could ever be funny. But it was.

Basically, it's about a girl, Veronica, played by Winona Ryder, who, with her boyfriend, Jason, played by Christian Slater, in one of his first (if not his very first) film role, accidentally murders her best friend (very loose term- -the friend was cruel to her, and everybody else), and then pens a suicide note in the girl's handwriting. This girl, who had been the most popular girl in school, suddenly gains "depth." Although everyone used to hate her, they all begin looking back on her fondly. Suddenly, committing suicide becomes the new fad in the school--something the cool kids are doing.

In fact, when one of the dorky kids tries to kill herself by jumping in front of a car, she is injured but does not die. A popular girl says, "Just another example of an unpopular kid trying to be cool and failing miserably."

This movie, yes, is seriously warped...but, for all its over- the-top elements, at its heart is a great deal of truth about the pressures of high school, regarding school work, peer torture, bullies, and just plain survival. In many ways, it is like "Buffy"--it is a horror-ific portrait of high school that uses exaggeration to comment about the truths and pains of growing up.

And, as I said, it finds the funny in suicide, which is a hard thing to do...

Veronica: "I just killed by best friend."

Jason: "Or your worst enemy."

Veronica: "Same difference."


[> [> Heathers -- sunshine, 05:31:34 07/29/02 Mon

I saw Heathers again recently (after a gap of several years) and was knocked out by it. It's all too rare for such black comedy/vicious satire to reach the big screen.

Also, I think this was one of the first films that really tried to re-invent teen slang (the language is just so *very*) - in this respect it's hard to imagine Buffy without Heathers. In other respects the two are quite dissimilar - Heathers is terribly cynical, whilst Buffy is essentially optimistic about what young people are capable of (one of its great virtues in my book).

[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - July 27th 2002 -- Rufus, 00:55:09 07/29/02 Mon

Huh? I don’t think so. Yes, I understand that it hurts. A character or situation that meant a lot to a lot of
people was destroyed, but I don’t recommend allowing one bad experience to prejudice oneself towards all
future experience.

I'm with you on that one. I like many characters in BTVS but I understand that at any moment any of them could be gonners. On the Succubus Club interview with David Fury he admitted that he didn't consider the lesbian cliche til it was pointed out to him and then he could understand where people would have read that into the death of Tara. He also said that Joss may have done things a bit differently, but the end result would have been Tara dead. I also have said that I didn't think the story around Tara was over and hinted at such when I posted on the Symbolic use of Tara. I can see where the lesbian cliche could be seen by some, but until pointed out to me, I didn't. I saw the results of vengeance, be it for the death of a love one,and Warrens actions due to the slight to his ego in regards to his ego and the perception that his failures were the fault of the other gender.

Because BtVS Season 6 was a mega-bummer for
many doesn’t mean it had no value for others, or won’t even turn out to be pleasing to the currently
dismayed when the next year’s story takes off and runs. Don’t tune out-- if you watch Season 7 and don’t
like it, at least you’ll be able to argue your point from actual experience. If 90% of the viewers were
profoundly unhappy with the show (such as may have been with the last season or two of The
X-Files), that might be one thing, but no such situation exists with Buffy (or Angel), not even close.
Hey, I wasn’t a big-time fan of Angel Season 3, but I assure you I’ll be watching every ep next season
before I decide whether the show has run its course of creativity or not.

I thought many episodes of Angel were very good this year, only the season end left me a bit cold. I will watch every episode of both shows. I read the article on Signs and found a bit I quite like.....

"I focus on loss because when you lose someone, the paradigm shifts," Shyamalan reflects. "Then the story becomes about moving from darkness to epiphany."

The marketer in him knows that audiences respond to the journey from dark to light more intensely than they do the return trip. But the shaman in Shyamalan also believes that the passage into illumination is more healing.

All you have to do is look at the character development of Angel and Spike to see that the trip from evil to good gets us every time....well almost......now all we have to do is wait for Joss to illuminate us in season seven Buffy....I was going to mention Angel but then I'd be spoiling you all....;)

[> Train of Life (complete spoilers for the film) -- ponygirl, 07:13:10 07/29/02 Mon

I thought that was a great review OnM, I do however have a few problems with Life is Beautiful. I understand all the points you were making, but I couldn't help but long for Benigni's mask to slip a bit, to show that his character was a bit more vulnerable to the horror.

The only other Holocaust "comedy" I've seen (a fortunately small genre) was Train of Life, a French film that came out a couple years ago. This film concerned Jewish villagers who steal a train and attempt to escape to Russia in it by posing as Nazis and their prisoners. Along the way they meet up with a group of Gypsies who are doing the same thing - there's a great scene when the fake Nazi leaders of each group commiserate with each other about how everyone resents them for playing Nazis so well. The whole film has the feel of a folktale, and is quite funny and life-affirming. However, and here's where I spoil the end of the film, in the final scene the narrator tells of the happy endings for all the characters and saying his story was all true. More or less. And then the camera pulls back and we see that he's in a camp, that the whole story was just that, a story. The effect is like a punch to the gut. It made me realize both the necessity of stories for us to survive and also ultimately that some horrors are too great for fiction or for comfort. That was what I felt was missing from Life is Beautiful.

[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - July 27th 2002 -- aliera, 14:45:51 07/29/02 Mon

Well, it may not be popular but I am going to once again thank you for you post. I'm not a movie person (or rather my movie tastes tend to be on the lighter side) but I read them for your essays and this is to thank you for the (again) thoughtful essay on Tara.

[> How about "Cancer Boy" and "flipper babies" in Kids in the Hall's "Brain Candy"? -- A8, 15:44:01 07/29/02 Mon

[> [> I love that movie! And, wouldn't ya know? It just came out on DVD!! -- Rob, 09:30:01 07/30/02 Tue

[> or just about anything on South Park - it's kinda their raison d'etre -- Dead Soul, 17:05:55 07/29/02 Mon

[> You want proof, I'll give you proof -- Caroline, 07:26:53 07/30/02 Tue

Read the works published by Michel Gauqelin, a French mathematician who set out to disprove astrology using common statistical methods in the 1960s. Instead, he ended up proving the validity of a set of predictions that astrology makes concerning the placement of planets in a horoscope (e.g. a prominent Mars near an angle would indicate a greater likelihood of one's profession as an athlete, a prominent Jupiter would indicate a politician, etc). He went on to do much statistical work on other aspects of the birthchart. You may also wish to read Robert Hand's Essays on Astrology for more information.

You may also note that in the field of medicine, many of the old wives' tales and local folklore previously dismissed by the medical profession in an effort to make their craft a science are now being looked at anew, with researchers finding that certain herbs, teas, bodywork are actually of benefit. My allopathic doctor has now completed his course in medical acupuncture (based on the Chinese 5 element theory) to the benefit of many of his patients who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other chronic medical problems. (Now if I broke a bone, I'd want an allopathic doctor, but there are maladies best treated by traditional means). And just try to prove the 'existence' of 5 element theory! So, I know that sticking this needle into this place will have this benefit but the why is what is up for grabs. The same with astrology, magick, alchemy, and many other crafts. You're right, the universe is all tied together. And you shouldn't pick and choose. Very good advice. But since I have not as yet, in my extensive, amateur readings of physics and how the universe is put together (two favorite authors are Paul Davies and Stephen Hawking) haven't seemed to contradict what I know of Buddhist philosophy, or 5 element theory or astrology, I'll maintain my openness of mind to all these traditional crafts.

[> [> Re: science and nonsciense -- aliera, 12:41:04 07/30/02 Tue

I enjoy science (what I consider science I'm not really sure how OnM or Darby or others would consider, I liked Gould, I'm reading Pollen now the Botany of Desire) as well as reading in areas that are considered by many to be dubious. The love finding out the history and the "why" of things. But it's the inexplicable (among other things) that brings me back to more non-tradtional reading.

Also the synchronicity...

No, there's no proof, of course. It's just interesting.

For example you mention the five elements and last night I'm reading a short downloaded history of celtic myth, religion, etc. and there are the five elements, again. I can't imagine that we will ever fully understand everything. Simply can't imagine it. And I have a pretty overactive imagination.

I'm pretty accustomed to trying to explain and understand other views. My father was/is a scientist, my mother a nurse, the rest of the family consists of business people and several lawyers and one lone music therapist. I also have to throw out the mention that my statistics professor impressed upon me pretty early the importance of looking closely and in a questioning frame of mind at tests and studies. None the less, OnM had good points and a great essay-both points are valid and I like to think that they depend somewhat on the circumstances or the context. Thanks for another interesting mini-subthread, Caroline.

PS Any chance of another myth essay? Hint, Hint.

[> [> [> Imagination -- Sophist, 13:23:01 07/30/02 Tue

I can't imagine that we will ever fully understand everything. Simply can't imagine it. And I have a pretty overactive imagination.

If you haven't seen it before, I'm sure you'll like this quote by J.B.S. Haldane:

"The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine."

[> [> [> [> Thanks for that quote - it's wonderful! -- Caroline, 09:44:56 07/31/02 Wed

[> [> Michel Gauqelin -- Darby, 13:32:50 07/30/02 Tue

It's interesting to see this name show up, since his statistics categorically found no correlation between astrological signs and...anything, really.

He did seem to find correlations between planetary positions at birth and occupations and what has been called "soldier success," on which he based a fairly wacky non-astrological planetary theory, but no one has been able to replicate even those findings. And it ain't science if it ain't reproducible.

I'm not one to out-of-hand dismiss medicinal knowledge from other eras, but I'm amazed at how blindly accepting people can be about pretty much anything folksy or old. I'm a huge believer that our ancestors were very intelligent, but can't ignore the fact that they were woefully ignorant and way more limited in useful experience (first, second and third- hand experience was a much tighter circle in the past). Just ask some modern people what they believe and you'll find the world still hasn't changed that much.

And y'know, with lots of potential money at stake here, way more of this stuff has been tested than you would suspect, and it very, very rarely amounts to anything.

[> [> [> Sorry, Snarky -- Darby, 08:56:48 07/31/02 Wed

My response was much nastier than it should have been. Sorry, it's a reflex that I control a lot better in person, really! This can be a problem when sitting alone just facing a screen.

[> [> [> [> Re: -- aliera, 09:39:22 07/31/02 Wed

Darby: I admire anyone who can apologize; it's a rare,rare quality.

Here, chuckle: http://www.eskimo.com/~billb/freenrg/laughed.html

And thanks to Sophist, I'll be reading Haldane and Norse mythology tonight...I'm sure I'll be different in the morning.

I am very,very fond of this board. :-)

[> [> [> [> Re: Sorry, Snarky -- Caroline, 09:40:53 07/31/02 Wed

Sad to say that being interested in astrology (both Hindu and western) as well as eastern medicine, philosophy etc does leave me open to these sorts of attacks and the snarky tone you yourself picked up on. As one trained in the western traditions of science and quite deeply in statistical methods (I build lots of economic models in my work), yet also exposed to much traditional knowledge from my own family, I see much less opposition between the two approaches than apparently seen by you and OnM.

Replying to your points on astrology - MG's work has been reproduced by others and there is a rather vibrant astrological research community out there using standard statistical methods - of which Robert Hand, a world-renowned astrologer - is one of many. This type of work is important if one wants to get out from under the weight of circular or ridiculous explantions (this bad thing happening to you is caused by your actions in a previous life!). And, any decent researcher would never posit that plantery position is 'causal', it's just 'consistent with'.

As for traditional medicine and bodywork - the fact that so many people in my yoga classes are there because of an allopathic doctor's recommendation makes me extremely happy. Or that menopausal women I know use St John's wort and black cohosh and dang qui to such good effect for their symptoms they no longer need HRT. Or that many people are using traditional bodywork to deal with stress and the problems it creates in terms of the health of the immune system. I could go on and on and on. And the benefits of all of these therapies and many others are being verified by western scientific methods. And that requires no disparagement.

[> [> [> [> [> Paradox -- Rahael, 10:14:41 07/31/02 Wed

I think the human brain is very good at holding two quite divergent models of thought at the same time.

I think belief in astrology, magic etc a 'different scheme of thinking', and we must seek to understand those belief systems much as anthropologists approach the belief systems of cultures different to us.

I myself was born into a different culture with a deep belief in a certain view of life, that of a recurring cycle of death and rebirth, the idea of astrology guiding human lives. Even though my family was Christian, they happily continued to hold a belief in a Hindu world view, while also entering into a Christian scheme of belief. It's not hard to find scientists who continue to believe in God and in western scientific methadologies.

When I was born, I had a detailed horoscope done at my birth - a horoscope that I will one day have reread.

This is why I find Wittgenstein's theory of 'language games' so attractive and so compelling. These different language games have different satisfactions.

In a word, there are multiple self consistent systems of thought and belief, which is why I can believe the usefulness of Western medicine and scientific thought, while continuing to consider myself at least a strange kind of Christian. Somehow the story of Christ's ressurrection etc etc still has power for me.

To say that certain belief systems are superstitious, mistaken, irrational and wrong is to deny the complexity of human social interaction and thought. I simply find the existence of these beliefs, and their power, for me and for others fascinating. It's a very useful point of view as a historian. It's essential for anthropology.

Why do we give Buffy et al a quasi realistic existence? Why do novels continue to resonate within us? What's responsible for the power of quite ordinary things - a beautiful day, a hug, a song to move us to tears? For me, none of these things are unconnected.

Allowing for this complexity also allows us to move from certain destructive arguments (God exists - I'll prove it via the Bible. And for this argument to work, I must believe in the word of the Bible the way my neighbour believes in inductive reasoning. And the Bible says this, so these ways of life are illegal and wrong).

I'm rambling now, so I'll stop. I hope I've made some kind of sense.

[> [> [> [> [> [> LOL - you're very sneaky, ya' know... -- redcat, 10:59:34 07/31/02 Wed

"When I was born, I had a detailed horoscope done at my birth - a horoscope that I will one day have reread."

It's on its way -- HONEST!! I took off from painting closet doors today just to make some time for things like this....... (see redcat sniff plaintively, please!) (OK, so what am I doing reading the board instead of your chart?!)

And I think Wittgenstein is very appropos here. I think of astrology and such disciplines as psychology, sociology and cultural studies as interlocking circles in a Wenn diagram. But as Greenblatt reminds us, not all things can be spoken in all languages, and not all languages are appropriate for speaking all things. I wouldn't use astrology to try to figure out the merits and weaknesses of the SPNFZ treaty, but neither would I use only the language of physics, medicine or any other single science. A rational approach to understanding the treaty problem must include insights from political science, geography, history, biography, nuclear physics, military science, anthropology, psychology and linguistics. OTOH, astrology can be quite useful to help good friends make sense of the patterns of connection, dislocation, change and emotional relationships in their lives, insights some of which may also be available from other disciplines, like psychology, literature and history. Astrology makes the human intellectual buffet that much richer, not that much weaker.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Please keep reading the board!! -- Rahael, 11:28:41 07/31/02 Wed

I am very good at being patient!

"OTOH, astrology can be quite useful to help good friends make sense of the patterns of connection, dislocation, change and emotional relationships in their lives, insights some of which may also be available from other disciplines, like psychology, literature and history. "

Exactly! It's yet another way we have of making sense of life, of telling our story. You remind me of the post you made a while ago, about the stories that never get written down, the stories of grandmothers. I remember the stories my grandmother told me, of her past, about the Bible, of the childhoods of my mother and her sisters. Astrology was woven all the way through. Even the tragedies that our family had suffered were made sense of. The story of how an astrologer had refused to tell my mother's future past the age of 30. How an astrologer had told my great grandfather the name of his future son-in-law, and the name of his daughter. How when my aunt was thrown into prison, they went consulted an astrologer, to ask whether her husband and her would ever be reunited (a sneaky way of finding out whether she'd get out).

It's so much a part of the fabric of my world view and my life. In fact, it ties into the whole reading thing. I'd beg and plead my busy grandmother for 'just one more story' until I realised that if I read, the number of stories I had at my finger tips were endless. And my way of keeping sane in really insane situations was to withdraw into the third person narratives. I used to describe whole hours of my life to myself. Astrology is another way to describe our lives, one of the many we have available to us.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: -- aliera, 11:59:29 07/31/02 Wed

And perhaps to understand it...but, I believe we have within ourselves the capability to be involved with both sides, rather than dividing ourselves in two, which is what we most commonly see, even here.

[> [> [> [> [> Thanks, Caroline, for the response and Darby, for the apology -- redcat, 10:36:49 07/31/02 Wed

Caroline, I very much appreciate your polite and reasonable response in your (our) disagreement with Darby and OnM,
both posters I greatly admire, but with whom, like you, I deeply disagree about the subject of astrology and other
"alternative" practices. Like you, I am professionally trained in a western rational, analytic discipline in which I teach
courses at the university level. As I suspect is similar to your own history, I also have long experience using disciplines
that many (most?) modern western peoples find easy to discount, such as astrology, tarot, naturopathic healing and yoga.
I'm particularly glad you suggested Robert Hand’s work. He’s a great place to begin a serious investigation of the work
of what is, as you very rightly note, a vibrant global research community whose own statistical and analytical methods are
based on contemporary notions of evidence using statistical modeling and **very cautiously worded** interpretations of
that evidence. Liz Green's work is also superb and I find it complements Hand's quite well.

I've been an astrologer for more than 25 years -- made a pretty big chunk of my living doing that and tarot for several
years and, like you, have often been on the receiving end of some rather snarky comments, especially from academic
friends whose initial reaction tends to be, "I can't believe that someone as smart and rational as YOU can believe in that
junk!" -- and that's if they're being polite. What is most interesting is that, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, people I've met who
have that attitude toward astrology have never, in fact, researched it seriously, read any of the contemporary
researcher-writers like Hand and Green, or sought out any real experience with a trained and/or certified (there are several
national and international associations that one must pass rigorous exams to join) contemporary professional. If they've
read anything at all, it tends to be the refutations of the Gauqelins' early work rather than Michel’s own or others' defenses
of their later research. Such friends often accuse those of us who practice the astrological discipline of doing so simply
because we "believe." My experience is that most of us have a fairly large stock of empirical experience and carefully
gathered evidence on which we base our work within that system, linked to a very real and present scepticism about any
one claim made by any one author within that system. And we NEVER take newspapers "astrologers" seriously -- well,
except Rob Breszny (grin). OTOH, those whose opinion of astrology is almost viciously negative usually base their
opinion almost solely on their own belief system, i.e., that astrology is non-rational and that science inevitably refutes such
"non-scientific" systems --and all this without any real understanding of what it is they think "their" science is refuting!

So Darby, I would like to take a good, hard, careful look at all that research you say has proved astrology “very, very
rarely amounts to anything” – just as hard and careful a look as I would take at any statement or research from within the
field that claims to prove a specific angular relation, planetary position or house/sign correlation “always means” a certain
thing. If you have such evidence or know of such research, please post the bibliographic data so I can check it out.

Oh, well, Caroline, now I’m glad that I was away from the board when this originally got posted and that you were the
one to answer instead of me. Given what I’ve just written, I’m not sure I could have remained as polite as you have.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Woo and a hoo! Wonderful to find fellow travellers... -- Caroline, 12:15:38 07/31/02 Wed

on this board. Thanks redcat and Rah for the wonderful posts. I haven't been in the astrology field for as long as you, redcat (only 3 years of study - I figure it takes a lifetime) but I got to it via psychology (Jung) and have devoured everything I can by Liz Greene, Howard Sasportas, and many others including Robert Hand (who lives in my area and I had a personal consultation with him and let me say his reputation is very well-deserved). And by some wonderful synchronicity, it seems that we share many other interests also - I too have a meditation and yoga practice, I practice alternative healing, I study shiatsu (I'll be fully qualified soon!) and my sister gave me a tarot deck a couple of years back and I'm trying to learn the major arcana. As Rah says, all these things help to make sense of the story that is my life and help me to identify the themes that run through it. But these things are just as much a part of me as my training in western, rationalist disciplines. It reminds me of Walt Whitman - I contain multitudes.

As for the politeness of my response, it's just empirical evidence that meditation *does* in fact work!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> "Live in fragments no longer' -- Rahael, 16:18:51 07/31/02 Wed

"Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer"

Howard's End EM Forster (1988) p188


[> [> [> [> [> [> For what it's worth, some additional thoughts. -- OnM, 21:20:09 07/31/02 Wed

I debated mightily whether or not to get back into this discussion, but I’m going to give it a shot. It is very
clear from reading the responses to this particular sub- thread that my issues with many of the subjects that
I have generally lumped into the catch-all category of ‘pseudoscience’ are just as related to my own
experiences and background as those of the respondents who offered to supply some ‘proof’ in rebuttal to
some of my comments.

People who actually are skeptical by nature, but at the same time try to keep themselves open to new ideas
are very rare, in my opinion-- it’s pretty much a matter of ‘My worldview, or the highway, bucko’. The
converse is also usually true-- there are people who seem to accept almost any statement, no matter how
outrageous on the surface, as being perfectly OK, as long as it comes from an ‘authority’ of some kind.

Our board generally seem to occupy a (respectful) middle ground within the extreme endpoints delineated
above. In the spirit of trying to maintain that, I’d like to try to clarify a few things to help let you know
why I tend to have disdain for some of these preoccupations that many other people view as ‘harmless’.

I’m going to use as an example what may appear to be a trival area of inquiry compared to the big ones
such as religion or philosophy, but I assure you it is representative of the point that I am trying to make,
and has the advantage of being a world I have been initmately familiar with for over thirty years.

The audiophile community is one that at one time I was proud to consider myself a member of, but no
more. The simple reason for this is that over the past three decades, I have watched a hobby/professional
interest go from a logic/science/reason driven, engineering- based field into one driven by irrationality,
pseudoscience and highly dubious marketing techniques. Worst of all, the core group of serious hobbyists
that once acted to support the advancement of useful new technologies has largely dissolved into numerous
factions of cranks who spend nearly all their time debating the merits of things that have little or no
relevance to advancing anything.

If this type of activity were restricted to these hobbyists, I really wouldn’t care, because they have a right
to (legally) entertain themselves pretty much any way they wish, much as the Geek Chorus in S6 Buffy
were ‘harmless’ as long as they were only into debating which version of the ‘Death Star’ was the better
one, or watching free cable porn. If a group of stereo buffs hates CD’s (or anything that’s ‘digital’) and
wants to bring back vacuum tube equipment, they may do as they please. But, when a customer comes into
the store where I work, and wants to know what we have available in vacuum tube preamplifiers, and it
is immediately clear that this person is not a hobbyist, but a ‘normal’, ordinary Joe or Jane Doe
looking to update their sound system
, now I have a big ethical dilemma confronting me.

The simple fact is, and is universally supported by disinterested, repeatable, controlled testing
, that vacuum tube gear is inferior to solid state gear. Furthermore, it wastes more energy, has
much higher maintainence costs, and is far less reliable. What is interesting is if I politely explain this to the
potential buyer, 3 times out of 4, that buyer will listen just as politely and then go somewhere else
to buy his/her tube preamplifer.

Why? Because I’m just a ‘salesman’ who wants to ‘sell them something I have in stock’. I have no
‘authority’ compared to the ‘experts’ who write for audiophile magazines. Yeah, that’s right-- the
magazines published by the exact same array of pseudoscientific cranks I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.

Now, this is the dilemma. Do I just give up? Well, pretty much yes. A person without a technical
background cannot make an informed decision
in a matter such as this. So, they fall back on what
becomes a we said/they said scenario, and whoever ‘feels’ right to the potential buyer ‘wins’. This wasn’t
always so. While the mass market outlets for audio gear have always been largely full of baloney, you
could generally rely on independent specialist dealers (such as the people I work for) to provide real value
and careful product evaluations of equipment made by reliable and honest manufacturers. No more-- the
electronic lunatics have taken over the asylum, and the industry now openly panders to them instead of
resisting them. You pretty much go with the flow, or watch customer after customer walk out your door.
The process of deceit is slow and insidious, but just as damaging in the long run.

So, what happens when the issues involve truly potentially life-altering possibilities, and not a totally trivial
item like a piece of stereo gear? If people do not have the proper experience and/or background to analyze
the variables and come to a conclusion on their own, they have to rely on the advice of other, external
sources of information. If those sources are not reliable, the chance for making a good decision is greatly

Let’s say for example that a person is diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. The disease is discovered
in the early stages, and the average cure rate using ‘established’ (Western) medical technology is about
90%. The treatment, however, is long and carries many unpleasant side effects. The patient decides to
‘explore’ alternate treatments, in the hope of a less debilitating cure. The treatment decided upon is one
based on anecdotal results, or the simple greed of a ‘quack’ whose only interest is fattening his bank
account. The patient feels better for a while (largely because of a placebo effect) but then gets worse again.
Now, however, the delay has caused the disease to progress significantly, and the cure rate has been
reduced to 30%.

Of course, if there is nothing that ‘conventional’ medicine can do, then there is little to lose (except maybe
money, which of course you would lose anyway with Western medicine) and the sense of possible hope
could enhance whatever time the dying person has left. This is a more difficult decision to make.

Astrology is a grey area, because for most people it will not cause destructive effects if practiced. On the
other hand, when I read stories about past president Ronald Reagan allegedly making decisions based on
the advice of his wife’s astrologer, I cringe. This is a man with a finger on the nuclear button. The idea that
we might launch an attack against an ‘enemy’ at a time that ‘the stars’ indicate potential results would be
optimized is terrifying to me. (Fortunately, despite the media attention paid to this story, I somehow was
left with the impression that Ron mostly did this to keep his wife happy rather than taking it seriously as an
indicator of or progenitor for policy decisions. I have no way to confirm this, of course.)

The mindset is really the problem. If once keeps a balanced perspective, usually all will be well. What I see
with a lot of people (note-- a lot, obviously not all) who readily accept scientifically or
logically questionable ideas is that they are furthering an agenda of some kind. On the transmissive side, the
agenda typically involves either the aquisition of money or influence, or the pursuit of political power. On
the receptive side, there is often the desire to delegate the normal decision-making processes of life to
external individuals, for psychological reasons far too complex to go into here. These pursuits, in either
mode, are obviously potentially dangerous to both individuals and society as a whole if misused, which
strikes me as being the case almost depressingly often.

A remining issue is that most average people-- myself included-- simply do not have the time to do the
level of research necessary to backup every last decision we have to make from day to day. We have to
place our trust in others to at least some extent. Skepticism is a benefit if not overused, and those
‘authorities’ who can not only talk the talk, but back it up with objectively provable information, verifiable
by others who preferably are disinterested pro or con, are the ones that I have to place most of my trust in.
Real research is often long, boring. painstaking and on occasion discovered to be invalidated by some
unintended internal bias or failure of neutral methodology.
The true scientist accept this and soldiers
on. He or she, if intellectually honest, will not try to bend aberrant data to fit a preconception, no matter if
the preconception is a highly cherished one. This same individual keeps an open mind to alternate
possibilities, and is willing to incorporate them if they fit the paradigm correctly.

I would like to finish this off by citing two links as regards Gauquelin, a person I was unfamiliar with prior
to this thread. I did some web searches, and among several articles I uncovered, found that he apparently
was not a crank, but a respected scientist. What is also interesting is that most of the counter-arguments to
his theory that I saw were handled respectfully by those who disagreed with him within the scientific
community, which I suspect is because he apparently made honest attempts to do honest research. This
is a key factor. Many people in the general public who embrace non-scientific-mainstream concepts do not
realize just how woefully uninformed many of the proponents of these theories are
. Anyone can write a
book, or offer a ‘theory’. The real work of backing it up is much more difficult, and so is seldom pursued
at all.

The first link here is presented because it branches out to several other, more detailed links which readers
may pursure or not as they see fit. The second link is one of those, and I am providing it to present some
idea to those not familiar with the obsessive detail necessary to validate (or invalidate) what seems like
even the most ‘elementary’ bunch of statistics, as to the substantial level of effort required.

I didn’t read all of it myself, and I am not even slightly an expert in statistical analysis. But there are those
people who will, and who are, so I’ll leave it up to them to do so. I will excerpt this one section from near
the end, with the bold/italic emphasis by me, to draw attention to the fact that the author has respect for
the man he is debating ideas with.

OK, this was long, and maybe more than needed to be said, but maybe if it lends a little insight here and
there as to the way my head works, it was worthwhile. It is not my attention to offend anyone, I just feel
that the world would be a better place if more people became less dipolar and more bipolar in their ways of
looking at the universe and the little corner of it we inhabit.


audiophilius trivialitus:

dipolar: A dual-transducer array which produces a diffuse, out-of-phase soundfield, resulting in a
diminishment of specific localization of of energy within the soundfield. Typically used in selected instances
to enhance reflected energy at the expense of direct energy, such as in surround sound rear-channel

bipolar: A dual-transducer array which produces a homogenious, in-phase soundfield, resulting in a
broad diffusion of uniform energy within the soundfield. Used in selected instances where a larger-than-life
sonic presentation is advisable in a limited physical space.

(OK, I’m stretching a metaphor just a mite here... cut me some slack OK? ;-)





Exerpt from the second link shown above. Italics by OnM:

*** The Mars Effect hypothesis was based on data collected by Gauquelin. The evidence for Gauquelin's
massive bias is compelling. No value can be attached to the hypotheses these data gave rise to. This
does not imply any willful deceit on the part of Gauquelin.
The eminent physicist René Blondlot
never gave up believing in his nonexistent N-rays and died 27 years after his 'discovery'. The academician
Boris Deryagin acknowledged after ten years he was mistaken about polywater. Two-time Nobel laureate
Linus Pauling never gave up his belief in vitamin C, even though clear clinical evidence never materialized.
Even the best scientists can be trapped in illusions of their own making. Michel Gauquelin
has died in 1991. His archive is gone, and no one knows what he would have said upon confrontation with
his bias. Let's leave it that and move on to more fruitful research. ***


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: For what it's worth, some additional thoughts. -- redcat, 22:54:59 07/31/02 Wed


Hmm, well, I’ve read your original post more thoroughly than I did the first time, and have now read this second long post
of yours carefully and with great interest. It’s clear you’re trying hard not to be offensive and that you have a itch to
scratch about this subject, but I have a few questions for ‘ya. As I ask them, I would like to point out that I am also trying
hard not to either be offensive or offended, so I hope you take this in that spirit.

1) Since the two websites you posted URLs for are called, in order, “The Skeptic’s Dictionary” and “On-Line Texts about
Cults and New Religions,” does it occur to you that your own approach to the issue may be a bit influenced by a
predetermined negative stance? “Cult” is not a neutral word. Did you bother to check out any pro-astrology sites or any
of the professional associations, or even the authors that Caroline and I recommended?

2) How seriously do you think we can take a website that follows a rant about the implausibility of Gauquelin’s
(admittedly-controversial, even within the field of competent astrological research) “Mar’s Effect” theory with a plug for
a link to something called “Number Watch” that is captioned with the following quote (in living color, no less): “All about
the scares, scams, junk, panics, and flummery cooked up by the media, politicians, bureaucrats, so-called scientists and
others who try to confuse you with wrong numbers.” Are you SURE this is the type of reliable, competent authority you
want to promote in this discussion?

3) The main site you posted, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, defines astrology in the following three statements, chosen among
many possible examples:
A] “Astrology, in its traditional form, is a type of divination based on the theory that the positions and movements of
celestial bodies (stars, planets, sun, and moon) at the time of birth profoundly influence a person's life. In its psychological
form, astrology is a type of New Age therapy used for self- understanding and personality analysis. (This entry concerns
traditional astrology. See the entry on astrotherapy for a discussion of psychological astrology.)”
B] “...astrologers believe that it would provide support for their theories that the things in the sky are actively influencing
who and what we become.”
C] “The most popular form of traditional astrology is Sun Sign Astrology, the kind found in many daily newspapers which
publish horoscopes. A horoscope is an astrological forecast.”

The deterministic view of astrology displayed here may have been all the rage in previous centuries, but it pretty much
went out with the advent of Freudian psychology at the turn of the 20thC and certainly heard its death knell in the advent
of Jungian approaches in the 1920s and 1930s. *And* since neither New Age Anything nor “newspaper astrology” have
anything *at all* to do with the actual professional practice of contemporary astrology, I’m confused as to why I’m
supposed to take a site that continues to define astrology in these easily-dismissible ways as a serious refutation of what I
do. Clearly, the author/s have not done their own homework and their conclusions are based on some pretty unsound
assumptions about the “it” they’re supposedly dissecting. Again, my question to you is, since it seems like you didn’t
bother to read any other definitions or explanations of the system, how can you assume that this type of definition is
actually the one most contemporary professional astrologers use?

4) The site authors ask (as if the question somehow proved some point), “Why is the moment of birth chosen as the
significant moment rather than the moment of conception?” Well, again,
if they’d done their homework, they might have found out that both a great many professional
modern astrologers and some of the most insightful ancient writers have a good answer for
that – that since astrology is NOT a predictive, deterministic, fatalistic symbolic system but a
correlative, psychological, interpretive symbolic-system (a map-tool but not a magic one) -- it
makes some pretty sound meta-psychological sense to draw that map-tool from the beginning
of the journey you’re trying to use that tool to gain some insight about. Most astrologers try to
do that as closely as possible to the “first breath,” the first time a new being becomes
completely separate from their mother. But few professional astrologers I’ve read would argue
that using the birth moment is without some controversy and NO professional astrologer I know
assumes that the birth times we get from clients or from their birth certificates are either
accurate or absolute. In fact, the best of our profession (geez, OnM, you’re making me
defend something I haven’t done professionally in 12 years!!) keep a very open mind and
expect there to be some fine-tuning necessary when working out a client’s chart. So, again,
how is this question, asked as if it was an answer or a logical refutation, supposed to make me
feel even less skeptical of the “research” that went into the site than I was before?

I understand your frustration with the popular abuses of the system, just as I understand your
frustrations with the similar (and similarly financially motivated) abuses of the audiophile field.
But those “pseudo-scientific cranks” who publish in the popular audiophile magazines do not
make what *you* do and know as a professional any less valid just because some (or even
most) of your customers believe them. Similarly, what I do has so little resonance with the
descriptions that I read by following several of the sites linked to the Skeptic’s Dictionary that
reading them was like reading about something else entirely that only happens to share the
same letters in its name as the practice I engage in.

I’m not trying to convince you that astrology is “real,” but I would appreciate not being lumped
with Nancy Reagan or being (boldly) told that I am merely “trapped in an illusion of [my] own
making.” I am a rational, analytic, careful and sometimes even insightful person. You ask that
we approach the subject in a bipolar rather than dipolar way. That is all I ask of you, as well.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Allow me to make one point in defense (really!!) of Astrology -- d'Herblay, 02:04:55 08/01/02 Thu

“Why is the moment of birth chosen as the significant moment rather than the moment of conception?”

Just wanted to take a moment to point out that due to the regularity of celestial mechanics, given the positions of the planets at an individual's birth, and the period of gestation, any competent planetary astronomer (or anyone who owns a computer program like RedShift) could derive the planetary positions at conception. Because gestation times are pretty regular at nine months, we can therefore say that the planetary positions at conception are inherent in the planetary positions at birth. Obviously there is a fair amount of variation in actual gestation times, and such a gloss would make Astrology pretty dicey for those born prematurely, but an Astrology which works for everyone but premies is a substantial science. (And it should be noted that some of the more influential planets -- Jupiter comes to mind -- revolve much more slowly than human embryological development.)

I have learned to accept the fact that there are on this board intelligent, amazing, respectable people who believe in things I do not. My earliest experience of this was when I realized that one of the people whose intelligence I most respected on the board was not only a practicing Wiccan, occasional Astrologer and professional Tarot reader, but the only person I have ever seen to present skepticism as a spiritual virtue. I have never pointed out the contradiction, and am not sure that there is one. In any case, she, like you and I and Walt Whitman, contains multitudes. (For that matter, you should remember that I am an atheist whose mother is currently in seminary studying the occult arcana of the Presbyterians. This does not make me lose respect for her or she for me, though the more Hebrew she learns the more she comes to my point of view!) I must admit I had a lot of fun baiting the Astrology- believers in chat when they'd ask me what sign I am by responding, "You know me pretty well by now, shouldn't you be able to offer an educated guess?" No one ever guessed correctly (Scorpio was a common choice), but when I'd reveal that I was an Aquarius (my birthdate is in the archives, so I'm forestalling cheating), they'd claim that I couldn't be anything else, that I was so obviously an Aquarian.

For all of my talk about being raised a skeptic, I used to consult the I Ching occasionally (and Rob Breszny absolutely nailed a week of my life spot-on -- seven days out of 11,126 is not bad at all!). I never believed there was magic in the yarrow sticks (actually, product of my times, I used a computer simulation), but I did find it valuable to take a moment now and then and really focus on what questions I felt were important enough to ask. I suppose I view Astrology much as I view the I Ching, the Tarot, meditation or for that matter psychotherapy: as an avenue through which one might come to examine one's own life and self. I can't begrudge anyone that. I don't know if that means I support belief in Astrology as a "a correlative, psychological, interpretive symbolic-system," or not. I do know that such a view makes questions such as "why is the time of birth privileged over time of conception?" largely irrelevant. However, should Astrology posit physical claims about the Universe (such as the existence of some force exerted by the planets on the womb stronger than their negligible gravity), I still expect that those physical claims be physically testable.

I have a word or two about skepticism. redcat, in effect, asks OnM to watch the watchers, to treat the skeptics with skepticism. This is always good advice, and I have seen the good name of "skeptic" sickeningly self-applied to those with causes ranging from anti-fluoridation efforts to Area 51 inquiries to Holocaust denial. However, I was raised to distrust the preacher in the Cadillac more than the preacher with bare feet, and the day I turn on some late-night TV and see a commercial with Martin Gardner telling me to call his Skeptics' Hotline ($2.99 the first minute, $1.99 each additional minute), I suppose redcat's point would be stronger. (I have no real problem with the Number Watch blurb, as sensational as it is. The idea that politicians and the media are not misrepresenting nor just plain mangling numbers to their ends or through their innumeracy is the more surprising claim.) This is not to say that all people who accept or practice Astrology are Miss Cleo, just to point out that there really aren't any Miss Cleos on the other side. No, Astrology is where the money is, and where the money's at is where the mischief's at.

I hope that you will take this as respectfully as it was intended. My feeling is that Astrology may well work as "a correlative, psychological, interpretive symbolic-system"; but it's not my cup of symbolic-system tea. For that, I have Buffy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: A point in defense (really??) of Astrology -- redcat, 03:23:18 08/01/02 Thu

“...there really aren't any Miss Cleos on the other side. No, Astrology is where the money is, and where the money's at is
where the mischief's at.”

Gosh, d’Herblay, I'm barefoot *and* broke -- in fact, I never did make much money from doing all those (several
thousand at last count) readings on which my experience is based. In reality, I always had to work at several other types
of jobs during the years I read charts and Tarot cards professionally. Maybe I just didn't have the right marketing
strategy? ...Or maybe, I didn’t do it for the money after all, but because it seemed to help people I cared about.

Just curious if that makes you less suspicious of me, or more?

And BTW, not only are human gestation times not nearly as regular as simply saying “nine months” would suggest, but
the actual “moment of conception” itself is a fairly long and drawn-out process, and cannot be determined by simply
subtracting nine months from the moment of birth. (Anyway, would that be nine 30-day months or should we throw in a
few 31-day ones, too, or just count backwards on the calendar and if so, using which one?) In an internally- closed,
internally-relational and internally-consistent system like astrology (see Goedel’s Theorem), it actually shouldn’t matter if
we counted from the tenth breath or from ten seconds before the first breath or from any other point, **as long as
everyone using the system used the same point** AND **as long as no one tried to relate this system to a different one to
which it has no real relationship** (like causative physics, for example). Using the “first breath” point makes meta-
psychological sense when discussing humans as beings of independent identity and it’s relatively easy to determine (as
opposed to the moment of conception, for example, which is almost impossible to determine). However, I too am
extremely skeptical of those claims which posit a direct, causative, physical relationship between the gravitational pull or
the atomic weight of a planet or other body as it orbits our solar system and human behavior or psychology. I do find it
useful to contemplate the metaphysical and spiritual correspondences that can be understood by considering a planet’s
position relative to the Earth (or more specifically, to the exact location of a person on the Earth at the time of their birth)
in relation to other solar system bodies and the angular relationships between them. It’s cool with me that you do not find
any of that useful at all. And “Me like Buffy [too]. Me [very] glad Buffy is alive.”

My own experiences (I mean those other than the ones that have taught me to respect folks like you who are “intelligent,
amazing, respectable people who believe in things I do not”) have also taught me some humility where astrological
specificity is concerned. Like most astrologers, I’ve worked very deeply on the charts of most of my own family members
and have found doing that a marvelous tool for understanding myself. Unlike most modern astrologers, however, I don’t
know even the actual day of my father’s birth, much less the exact time. We know only the day his birth was registered.
His mother literally “went off by herself” to have her babies (into the near low foothills, I believe, but she was gone for
close to a week so she could have traveled up to a hundred miles either way). This was the way her Cherokee mother had
given birth to her babies and so it became the way my grandmother did it, too. The family has always just left it at that.
It’s frustrating, but I soldier on.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I had no suspicions of you to lessen or increase -- d'Herblay, 04:39:01 08/01/02 Thu

Of course human gestation is not as clockwork as say celestial mechanics. The mean time for "normal" pregnancies is calculated to very fuzzy significant digits (I think about a week). (And your mention of 30-day versus 31 day months is beneath you.) And no, conception is not a definite moment. Still, if you watch the sky over a period of time, you'll notice that with the exception of one mercurial and one lunatic planet, the heavens are pretty damn slow (some even saturninely so). Of course, if you're concerned with "the exact location of a person on Earth" in relationship to the planets at the time of birth, you're dealing with a level of specificity which would give you problems since, as was mentioned above, most charts are drawn for people who know their birth-times only to the date. I think a fuzzy period of a few days would be acceptable on the metapsychological level.

I did have the thought as I typed it that Carl Sagan surely made more money off of skepticism than you or dubdub ever did from drawing charts. Of course, my point was about the relative means of the profit-making bell curves, not the ends. I suspect that you would have made even less had you tried to interest adults in lectures on, for instance, probability theory. You might even have derived some satisfaction from helping people too. Still, I never meant to suggest that you believed in astrology out of venality. In fact, I am unsure of how you decided that the post I wrote was in any way condemnatory of you. It was, as all my posts are, all about me. With a little aside about my mother.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A memorable quote from Carl.... -- mundusmundi, 05:20:10 08/01/02 Thu

Whom, while of course very popular and, one assumes, not clipping coupons on Sunday, achieved his acclaim precisely because he countered the skeptic stereotype so thoroughly, expressing the wonder and imagination that most scientists feel but are rarely able to express. (Look at Richard Dawkins.) Sagan wasn't always right. In fact, he was widely disrespected by many of his peers, even denied tenure at Harvard. His critics claim he made no contributions to his field. His defenders say that he could have played the game better than anyone in the Ivory Tower had he wanted to. The truth is out there.

Anyway, here's the quote from The Demon-Haunted World, a quote which I should add is not aimed at anyone specifically in this discussion. (I too am invoking the All About Me Clause....)

"It seems to me that what is called for is an exquisite balance between two confliciting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convincted that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you....) On the other hand, if you are open to the point of guillibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish useful ideas from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all."

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A wonderful quote, and All ABout Me III -- OnM, 08:04:18 08/01/02 Thu

First off, my sincere thanks to d'Herblay for his eloquent response to redcat's comments, which pretty much sum up a lot of my perspective on this, and to mundus for the great Sagan quote.

Yes, it may be slightly unfair to quote/present material from a 'skeptics' POV, but that is the side I am generally allied with, as you have allied yourself with material that supports your side.

It is much less fair that you might (and BTW, I fully accept that you are what you claim), as a 'skeptical' practitioner of 'modern' astrology which 'no longer bears any relation to' what the vast majority of the general public understands when they hear the word 'astrology', get grief from people like myself who are not up on your field.

However, my point with using the audiophile analogy is that my anger comes from the fact that the general public does not view your field the way that you do, because they don't have your knowledge. They are therefore made to be easy prey for hucksters and charlatains. Every time a person purchases a faulty or inferior audio product because they believed the specious claims of the manufacturer a small crime has been committed. This offends me, as I'm sure it offends you every time you see an ad for a 'Miss Cleo' type on TV.

So, my approach is strictly a practical one-- how do I enlighten the buying public not to waste their time or money on junk? I am fighting a massive amount of disinformation on the other side (as it is now clear to me that you are attempting to do also, in your field). The degree of disinformation is growing, and ensnaring many additional persons. You and I are just small voices in a large community.

It is therefore natural to me to extend this concern, at least philosophically, to other 'related' practices in the world.

BTW, redcat, I took no offense at your response, in fact I anticipated that if you did respond you would point out my sources as being equally 'biased'. Naturally, it depends on how one defines 'bias'. Since I generally agree with the sources I presented, it is logical that I would cite them to support my reasoning. Birds of a feather, right?

I do appreciate your enlightening me on the finer details of your approach to astrology, this is new information to me. Also please rest assured that I have not lost any respect for you in any way because of your affiliation with this field of endeavor. One of the joys of hanging out here is to have intelligent conversations not only with people who see things the way you do, but with those who don't.


(Off to sell semi-bogus audio/video equipment now and thus pay the bills... (~sighs sadly~))


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> An open letter to d’Herblay and OnM -- redcat, 14:01:50 08/01/02 Thu

You know, I really do admire, respect and appreciate you guys. I really, really do. One of the reasons I have continued
posting to sub-thread is that you both are among my very favorite posters on the ATPoBtVS board. It makes little sense
to me to engage in conversations, much less debates, with folks I neither care about nor respect, but since I deeply respect
both of you and have come to care quite a bit about the conversations we as a collective community have on this board, I
would like to post what I hope (!) will be my last comment in this sub-thread.

I’d like to begin by re-posting a short section of my original post in this thread, which I wrote in response to Caroline’s
and Darby’s initial conversation. To me, this is the heart of what I was trying to say in that post and have been trying to
say, obviously somewhat unsuccessfully, in my subsequent posts:

“Such friends often accuse those of us who practice the astrological discipline of doing so simply because we "believe."
My experience is that most of us have a fairly large stock of empirical experience and carefully gathered evidence on which
we base our work within that system, linked to a very real and present scepticism about any one claim made by any one
author within that system.”

OnM’s post in response to this (“For what it’s worth, some additional thoughts”) was in line with my past experience. His
post asserts his understanding (at that time) that the practice of astrology is based on “illusion” and is primarily the
domain of those “who readily accept scientifically or logically questionable ideas.” My sense that OnM understands the
practice of astrology as being based on nothing more than a belief system is supported by the fact that the substance of his
post concerns his (quite appropriate!) dismay at the quacks, charlatans and frauds who operate both in his profession and
in my old one; and that both the websites he links us to in an effort to refute alternative claims about astrology actually
make some pretty illogical and uneducated statements.

D’H continues this astrology=belief approach in his post (“Allow me to make one point...”), which, on the surface at any
rate, purports to defend the practice of astrology, but which instead somewhat disingenuously subverts that “defense” by
consistently using such phrases as “people who believe in things I do not,” “the Astrology-believers in chat,” and “people
who accept or practice Astrology.” Such statements suggest that d’H, despite his avowed tolerance for diversity of
opinion and experience, also understands astrological practice as being primarily based on faith. At the same time, he also
continues OnM’s focus on the capitalist-oriented, commercialized and often fraudulent expression of pop- culture
astrology, to wit, “my birthdate is in the archives, so I'm forestalling cheating” (does this reflect what you really think of
me, d’H, that I would “cheat”?), and “Astrology is where the money is, and where the money's at is where the mischief's
at.” It is perhaps no wonder that I responded to that post with my concerns about what feels like at least some (I think
unfair, obviously) suspicions about me and my practices. Perhaps my flippant comment about 31-day months was inspired
by what I read as a flippant (and – sorry, d’H – astrologically-illiterate) approach to the question of the mathematical
specificity required by professionals in the field.

I want to say again at this point that I do truly admire both of you, and was especially glad to see your last post OnM
(“...All About Me III”), which reiterates our mutual respect. I also want to make it clear that I am not simply being nit-
picky or critical, and I am certainly not attempting to start a flame war. But I do think that a central part of my argument
in this sub-thread has been either consciously or unconsciously ignored, dismissed or inappropriately conflated with
something that it is not. I speak here of my argument that the practice of astrology, in my case at any rate, and I suspect
in the cases of Wisewoman, Caroline and possibly others who read this board but don’t regularly post here, is based NOT
on some irrational, ill- or un-considered, quasi-religious “belief,” much less on some venial kind of quackery, but on
literally thousands of hours of study, research, personal experience, critical observation, careful record keeping, and a
practical, skeptical approach to the evidence thus found, working in tandem with a careful examination into records left by
previous practitioners over many centuries of intelligent human self-contemplation, and the work of contemporary thinkers
and researchers in the field, some of whose names Caroline and I have already provided you.

What I would really love to happen at this point is that you would stop right now, as you read this, and think about what
you really understand astrology to be. I hope that such a self-examination would lead you to admit that your
understanding that astrology is only or primarily a belief system is ITSELF a belief system. I would be overjoyed if that
realization also led you to give a modicum of real respect to the astrological practitioners on this board based on your
acknowledgment of your own ignorance of the subject and of our intelligence and faculties of critical observation.

However, I’m not gonna hold my breath. Until then, I will content myself with reading the rest of your usually- quite
fascinating and informative posts elsewhere on the board and will continue to admire and respect your opinions,
interpretations and humor as the enrichment of my life that they have become.

Thank you for reading this,

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Sticking my (still slightly swollen) nose in -- :Q), 10:07:24 08/01/02 Thu

d'Herblay wrote:
Still, if you watch the sky over a period of time, you'll notice that with the exception of one mercurial and one lunatic planet, the heavens are pretty damn slow (some even saturninely so).

True, however...I have consistently resisted doing charts for people who don't know both their exact place of birth (OMG, I had to change that, I just typed "death" instead of "birth"--not gonna go there, Freudianly!) and exact time of birth. All others might as well read a newspaper horoscope column rather than waste their time and money on having a professional chart done.

Along with Sun sign (which is easily determined unless the birthdate is on the cusp) the two most important determinants in Astrology are Moon sign and Ascendant (the constellation just rising on the Eastern horizon at the time and place of birth).

Moon sign is equally as important as Sun sign in determining someone's "horoscope," and the Moon is zippin' around there from minute to minute and not easy to pin down. As one ages, one tends to move more toward the "type" signified by their Moon and away from their Sun "type."

And the position of the Ascendant determines the positions of the Houses in the chart. Okay, to make an interminable story shorter, without exact time and place of birth probably 85% of the value of an Astrological chart, including Houses, Aspects, and Transits, is lost.

Conception has a 72-hour window between ovulation and loss of ovum, and there's no way short of laproscopic camera to determine that moment in a "natural" pregnancy, so we're pretty much stuck with whatever time the harried nurse recorded in the delivery room.

Okay, lecture over...hey, I'm bored and you know I still love you...

;o) (Also an Aquarian and strongly suspecting that d'Herblay's Moon sign is Scorpio!)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> musings on math, moons and modern versions of ancient languages (not Sumerian) -- redcat, 12:10:02 08/01/02 Thu

Thanks for weighing in here, dub. I appreciate the easy clarity of your response. It feels like at least some portion of the
civility to which I’ve been treated in this sub-thread is due to your long-time active and influential presence on the board.
I’m still trying to work out a more general response to “the guys,” but your last comment here intrigued me, so I pulled
out my trusty calculator and my ephemeris and came up with this, the posting of which I most sincerely, tenderly and
sweetly hope doesn’t offend anyone.

Going solely on the information d’H gave in an earlier post that he was 11,126 days old yesterday (7/31/02), and assuming
that he was born somewhere in the middle of the NA continent, and without having any idea what his actual time of birth
was, and also assuming that he calculated the days of his life based on a 365.25-day year instead of a 365-day one, then I
would suggest that he probably was born within a 24-hour period of the new moon rather than the quarter moon. Not
only does this seem more consistent with his limited information and my own experience of his high intelligence level, but
such a placement supports an advantageous sun/moon/mercury conjunction at the point which completes a second grand
trine in his love’s natal chart, which presents there as a sun/mercury conjunction in the 4th/trine moon in the 8th. This
would be particularly interesting if this natal triple conjunction is in his 8th house, which I suspect is a reasonable projected
placement given your comment (you know him better than I), and given his own statement that folks who know only a
little bit about astrology often mistake him for a Scorpio. A further advantage of this placement is that it gives him
exquisitely beautiful near-exact trines from both his mars to her mars and his venus to her venus, which makes wonderful
sense, while suggesting significant and useful challenges in the form of his venus squaring her sun/mercury and his mars
opposing her moon. ( All of this assumes that the birth time I have for her is accurate to within 30 minutes or so, which I
believe it is.) Plus, if this suspected triple conjunction is indeed in his 8th house, then he likely also has an early- to-mid
cancer ascendant which would place it in a powerful trining relationship to her own major grand trine of
jupiter/uranus/ascendant in water, as well as probably placing his venus (in mutual detriment to his mars) on or near his
mid-heaven with an empty Scorpio at his nadir and mars in the 11th. [It also puts his sun/moon/mercury conjunction in
opposition to my own sun/pluto conjunction, squares my mercury with his mars, and quite possibly means that our
ascendants are conjunct... oh, dear, I feel another karmic life lesson coming on...breathe, girl, breathe...]

Hey, I’m just sayin’...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Singing along..."And that's what it's all about!" ;o) -- dubdub, 14:27:42 08/01/02 Thu

Well done, red!

I don't know d'Herb's or Rah's details, but it's interesting that as well as being a fellow Aquarian with d'Herb I also have Cancer ascendant. Not a whiff of Scorpio though, and I must admit I harbor unreasonable prejudices in that particular area so I was being possibly more flippant than factual, LOL!

I wonder if I could ever convince him that the apparent paradox of my own being has to do with being born during a full moon lunar eclipse and having Aquarius opposed to my Leo moon? Nah, didn't think so...


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: musings on math, moons and modern versions of ancient languages (not Sumerian) -- Caroline, 14:56:20 08/01/02 Thu

All those grand trines....I'm so jealous. It might be interesting to do a composite chart and see what comes up...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Allow me to make one point in defense (really!!) of Astrology -- Rahael, 06:36:00 08/01/02 Thu

"I have learned to accept the fact that there are on this board intelligent, amazing, respectable people who believe in things I do not."

Yes, precisely my reaction when it comes to the reverence accorded to Joseph Campbell.

You could also say that there is money in religion, and money in politics, money in science and money in atheism. In short, there is money in anything that offers human beings explanations of their lives and their worlds.

To single out money making in one area is disingenous.

I find it very hard to articulate both why I do not believe in the existence of God, but can be a Christian. Why I think religion gives people the ammunition to do great harm, but still find something beautiful in it.

I find it hard to explain why I am enmeshed in two whole different cultures; perhaps even 3. How some of them contain antithetical beliefs but still are woven strongly together. I feel a reverence and awe for the Hindu religion. I feel find the same beauty of holiness in the Christian religion that George Herbert did. How I can be sceptical of newspaper horoscopes and yet listen with belief to the traditions and practices that my culture is rooted in.

My father does not believe in God, well, I suppose that's not a strict article of faith in Buddhism. But he renounced his youthful radical Marxism, because his deeper pull was away from any system of thought that demanded suffering from other human beings for the greater good. With his atheism, and his western outlook, he still boils up traditional herbal remedies when I'm ill, still believes that when he saw his wife in dreams the night she died (which he was in ignorance of), he knew that she had come to bid a last farewell.

I'll know that when my mother speaks and consoles me in dreams that this is comfort I produce for myself. And yet, at the same time I'll know that 'she' speaks to me from the new place she resides, my heart.

At the end of the day, this is why I am fascinated by the history of culture, of mentalites. What human beings believe, why, how it influences them - that is what makes up our history. Every system of belief has its own coherence - and its own gaps. How on earth could I seek to enter the mind of a white, middle aged Protestant clergyman of 16th Century England? How can I understand how human beings not very long ago, human beings like Virginia Woolf, referred to men from my community as 'apes'?

That was justified by empirical means.

Black people do worse in 'IQ' tests, consistently, no matter what class they belong to, they still trail white people of the same background. I find *that* despicable and dishonest. I read and appreciated Gould's stinging critique of those tests, but yet, IQ tests are still performed, and yes, certain human groups are judged as less intelligent. Or having 'different skills', a way of thinking I still reject.

It's at these points I'm very happy, and proud to turn away from rationality toward the firm conviction that no test can determine who I am as a human being.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Disingenuity and sincerity -- d'Herblay, 07:49:12 08/01/02 Thu

You could also say that there is money in religion, and money in politics, money in science and money in atheism. In short, there is money in anything that offers human beings explanations of their lives and their worlds.

To single out money making in one area is disingenous.
No. It is disingenuous of me to argue my firmly held belief that cliché and stereotype have diverged to have different connotations by selectively repeating only the one clause of three in the Shorter Oxford's definition of cliché which did not include the word "stereotypical." However, my "singling-out" of money making in astrology (and I did passingly glance at money making in religion) is based on a genuine point. It is not that there is money there and not in skepticism or atheism; it is that there is so much more money there than in either. When I go to my local Borders, I find three floor-to-ceiling bookcases of Christian non-fiction, and another three of Christian fiction; the books on atheism are on two shelves just above the floor usually obscured by a comfy armchair. The section for "metaphysical studies" is larger and better stocked than those for science, mathematics and anthropology combined (not to mention that they continue to shelve Philip Johnson as science). I respectfully refuse to withdraw this point or to consider it disingenuous.

As to the rest of your as always deeply moving post: you do know how beautiful you are, right? Inside and out. (The board is quite familiar with the inside part.) I really don't think I ever implied that the means by which people find their way in the world could be begrudged them; it is only when they make testable claims that I would hold them to any test. I suppose that puts me on the side of the empiricists, and I suppose by association, with Virginia Woolf and all sorts of "scientific" racists. But I am not asking that there be an empirical test to determine who you are as a human being; would you mind however were I continue to rely on my sensory evidence to make my own determination of that? You know, by listening and watching and smelling and feeling and, once and again, tasting? Now unto forever?

You'll have to excuse me. There are a few subjects I get slightly irrational about.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> ROFL. -- mundusmundi, 08:02:00 08/01/02 Thu

the books on atheism are on two shelves just above the floor usually obscured by a comfy armchair.

Armchair atheists...gotta watch those guys.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Ummmm, mundus? -- d'Herblay, 09:23:05 08/01/02 Thu

Could you not follow my sincerely, tenderly and sweetly intentioned concilliatory posts which are directed at Rah with an "ROFL"? Gave me quite a start there.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Me, too! -- dubdub, 10:17:13 08/01/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> *Deep sigh* Are we seriously critiquing subject headings now? -- mundusmundi, 11:47:37 08/01/02 Thu

'Twas a spontaneous reaction, nothing more. However, I am sincerly, tenderly, achingly sorry for causing such a start.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Thanks! -- ;o), 14:31:43 08/01/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Now I know why I try to read all the posts ... -- LittleBit, 13:03:18 08/01/02 Thu

...that was just lovely.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Words, Wide Night -- Rahael, 03:25:41 08/02/02 Fri

"Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine
the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you and this

is what it is like or what it is like in words. "

Carol Ann Duffy

My love for you is so great, it seizes up my throat, stops my mouth. I lose articulacy. All I have to give - my sincere, wordless love.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Allow me to make one point in defense (really!!) of Astrology -- Caroline, 08:14:58 08/01/02 Thu

You make some great points. A lot of the reason I became involved in astrology (and other symbolic languages such as mythology and folklore)over a period of years is that it became apparent to me that there was so much of ancient culture and peoples that I could not understand if I did not have an understanding of how they explained their world. Astrology was a huge element in the way many ancient cultures describe their world, a huge part of their symbolic language. It's really frustrating to read modern commentaries on Plato, Ptolemy etc, about how wonderful these guys were and then have their work on astrology dismissed. Ditto for Isaac Newton and many others. I would argue that there is so much about ancient cultures that are not understood by many modern scholars, precisely because they don't understand the power of the symbols and symbolic languages of those cultures.

I suppose that in a 1000 years, people will look back on our reductionist, ultra-rational approach and infer all sorts of things about our world and culture from the prism through which we view the world. I wonder what they would conclude?

I am happy to find others who share a similar understanding to me because it not only inspires me in my journey but also makes me feel part of a community. I can analyse this need intellectually but the emotional power would in no way be lessened, and, to me, that's just as important as the intellectual. But the disparagement of those who choose to dismiss astrology without exploring the empirical data continues to sadden me. It just shows me that prejudice and bias is still rife among those who tout the superiority of modern science and its methods, because no amount of evidence will be enough to convince. It seems to be the best stance for these people should be "I don't know much about the subject and can't really form an opinion" instead of making attacks based on prejudice. That would be in the best spirit of modern, scientific methods.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Some personal experience not academic -- shadowkat, 08:43:07 08/01/02 Thu

I've lurked on this thread for awhile now. Somewhat timidly I step into the fray of a debate that I've participated in on both sides of the equation throughout my life.

I have not studied this topic in great depth for quite a while, but I did experiment and study it a little in undergrad and have explored it periodically through my life as I've explored numerous religious and philosphical discplines.

I remember in College being somewhat timid about admitting an interest in astrology and my knowledge of tarot cards.
When I did tell people they had me do readings of tarot thinking it was no more than a "parlor" game. They scoffed.
Just as they scoffed at Oujia boards and astrology and other mystical practices. Then I explored the Christian religions and discovered similar mystical practices - in Christian Science - it is believed that God can heal you and you should not see a doctor - at least in the branch that I interviewed for a Religion and Ritual Class. It was an interesting experience - in the class we had to go to a church other than our own and research the religion then give a report. What was most fascinating was after giving the report - receiving reactions from those who actually attended the religion. My partner in researching Christian Science was an athesist. I was raised Catholic. We had assumed that all Christian Scientists believed they could be healed by god, did not see doctors and were hypocritical about the use of symbols - stating they didn't believe in them and saw them as idol worship - when we had seen symbols in the church. A fellow student, a practicing Christian Scientist, was highly offended by our report and sought to correct many of our assumptions. Proving the teacher's point about the danger of imposing our own beliefs, our own views upon anothers.

Every religion has its extremists, its charltans. As does every hobby or focus. You could say that Some Buffyfans have crossed the line into insanity. And I do receive some of the same responses for admitting I watch and write critical essays on Buffy that I received when I admitted an interest in and use of tarot cards. In College I had people accuse me in "derogatory" sense of being a witch. I wasn't.
But I defended the religion as something they should not condemn without studying it in more depth. Not basing their assumptions on one luntic fringe which they may have personal experience with but hardly represents the whole.

Astrology, tarot, I Ching, palmistry have unfortunately been the victims of widespread marketing and commercialization. They have been used by charltans to make money. As a result - society scoffs. Ignoring the fact that several of these disciplines have been practiced longer than our modern religions. It wasn't all that long ago that people scoffed at Columbus for believing the Earth was Flat or scoffed at scientists regarding the Big Bang theory.
And what about Darwin? There are many who scoff at Darwin's ideas. In fact it was not that long ago that Kansas outlawed the teaching of Darwinism in schools. Stating it was against religion and offensive.

Regarding charltans - every day on the way home from work I pass a Revialist Tent with a Reverend promising miracles.
The tent is set up in the parking lot of Yankee Stadium.
I tend to be skeptical about these things. And scoff at it.

And yes skepticism is good to have. My brother often comments that I tend to be too skeptical. Probably the reason I haven't practiced any religion in quite some time. I've dabbled in quite a few - hunting something. A little afraid to believe too hard, afraid perhaps of being disappointed. The charltans, the ones who give false horoscopes or happy fortunes over the phone and/or internet are doing the same thing revialists or televangelists often do - feeding off our desire for hope. For comfort. For consolation. The desire to believe in something.

But just because there are charltans does not mean the religion, the belief system or the practices are any less valid and/or true. I have had some interesting experiences with tarot cards. One time I sensed an illness in a friend who two years later died of leukemia. I misread what I sensed, because I was untrained, merely working off intuition, but later realized it. I don't admit this very often - because my rational mind says coincidence or tells me it didn't happen. But truth? Don't know. No more than I know for certain whether there are ghosts(spirits) or that
there is a god. I know or sense there are souls and we have them, because I remember seeing my first dead body, my grandmothers and how empty she looked. I sensed nothing when before there was something.

Should I trust my intuition? That part of me that senses things which I can't touch, taste, smell or see? I think so. Because there are a great many things we can't touch, taste, smell or see that we know are real such as bacteria and particles of air.

I try to keep an open mind. While there are some astrologists who are truly nothing more than fakes, there are others like my brother's girlfriend's mother who aren't.
I've met one or two on my travels. People who saw astrology and palmistry and tarot not as "fortune telling" but as a way of understanding ourselves on a deeper level, a way of understanding our subsconscious urges and our connection with the universe and the flow of life. The world/universe is a difficult thing to comprehend - astrology is just another tool to figure it out, no more or less valid than the tools of the biologist, the astronomer, or the physicist. After all there was a time that chemistry was considered the heretic charlan practice of alchemy.

Just my two cents for what its worth...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> OnM, empathizing with your dilemma, and proceeding even further on that tangent... -- A8, 19:42:12 08/01/02 Thu

...you didn't even mention the fact, that due to the effect of modern industrialization, human hearing is worse than it has ever been. The human ear, by the textbooks, supposedly hears in the 20-20kHz frequency range, and that has been the starting or reference point for improving on audio equipment. However, due to an increasing level of background noise in our daily lives, the human species is becoming progressively tone deaf. I believe the current estimate is that we've already lost the upper 4kHz, and I'm not sure what's happened at the low end of the spectrum, but that can't be good either. If you blind tested many a fanatic "audiophile" who'll swear by his thousands of bucks worth of gear, they probably couldn't discern between a mini-disc or a source CD or CD and virgin vinyl analog LP, given the right combination of equipment. Their ears are simply not equipped to hear the difference anymore.

All this would be okay in my book, no harm no foul, if it weren't for the fact that it impacts my life. The prejudice of such audio snobs has real detrimental effects in the real world. The tube (and analog, in general) versus digital war rages in the world of professional pop music and impacts not only the type of amplification that is available, but what is acceptable to use in order to be considered a "professional" musician. I forget who coined the phrase, but it it often true that "pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs" in the music electronics world. The same goes for the open-minded in a world versus the "soul-less minions of orthodoxy"(to quote a quirky character from DS9). Show up to a gig without a tube amplifier, preferably one with a name history like Marshall or Fender, and even the most ignorant 2 chord limited pseudo punk will pitch you an attitude. Little do they know that many of the sounds they attribute to the "warmth" of good ole' fashioned tube technology on record were actually the result of solid state (and digital) technology with some clever mic placement (read basic experience) know-how. I could go on, but this rant is even boring me already.

We'll just have to suffer the ignorant and walk into the wind with an open mind. It's a pity that so few want to join us in the future.

[> Laughing at Nazism -- KdS, 05:30:54 08/01/02 Thu

I'd like to start off this response by saying that I haven't seen Life is Beautiful, and have no particular desire to. I have a fairly close relationship with my parents, and they came back from it in a mood that left it fairly clear they considered it indefensible. As you say, everything is a matter of taste, but I believe there are things which can't be transcended in the way you talk about in your last paragraph, at least if you personally experienced them, and that to portray a plan like Guido's working, even as fantasy, is to degrade the actual horror of what occurred in the 40s. I think the only thing that could have salvaged the film would have been an ironic ending of the type that ponygirl describes.

All of which is a long preamble to introduce my nomination for the most audacious comedy of all time. Imagine that you are asked to adapt a well-known novel, by people who appear to consider it a "hot property" but not to know much about it. Imagine that when you read the novel you find out that the political opinions it appears to promote are so different to your own as to seem not merely distasteful but actually evil. What do you do? You could simply walk off the project. You could try to keep enough of the novel to justify the title, but to tone down the belief system. If you are particularly lacking in conscience, you could simply hold your nose and take the money. Or, if you are really courageous and don't mind risking your career, you could adapt it with the dial turned up to eleven, to take the obnoxious politics to such an extreme, albeit logical, conclusion that anybody with a brain would react with either horror or appalled laughter. My nomination is Paul Verhoeven''s "Starship Troopers".

Verhoeven took what he saw as the racist and militaristic philosophy, and the relish for violence, of the novel and produced what can only be described as an ironised attempt at producing the film a 1930s Nazi would have if he had access to a massive budget and 1990s special effects. Astonishingly, it gained commercial release. The ultimate accolade came when critics who weren't aware of the book and didn't get the joke accused the film of actual fascism. In case anybody here hasn't seen the film and is considering it, I would like to give a strong warning that it contains almost unprecedented levels of gore. Moreover, the deadpan apeing of Nazi idealism may shock some of you so much that you can't sit through the film. This is a film that tries to achieve the same objective as Jonathon Swift's "Modest Proposal", and if that approach disturbs you you'd better not try this out.

However, if your preferred approach to black comedy is not to use sentimentality as a bulwark against the darkness, but to smash through all normal barriers of revulsion into helpless laughter, track a copy down.

[> [> Great, great film! -- Rob, 08:00:12 08/01/02 Thu

Although I don't agree with you about Life is Beautiful(I thought it was heartbreakingly brilliant), I am a fellow Starship Troopers fan. And, from the moment it was originally released, I was absolutely shocked by those people who didn't "get" the joke; who thought that this film was actually praising fascism...

This is an extremely funny film, with extremely black (almost acidic) humor...complete with parodies of WWII military propaganda newsreels. The enemies in this film are giant alien insects. And in one particularly brilliant newsreel, a bunch of schoolchildren are seen stomping cockroaches. The overly genuine narrator says, "Even the children are doing their part for the war effort!" Those damn bugs, indeed.

If you can ignore the gore and love your humor served dark as can be, get this movie!


[> [> [> Re: If you like ST -- KdS, 08:28:04 08/01/02 Thu

You may want to try to track down a novel (currently out of print, unfortunately) called "The Iron Dream", by Norman Spinrad. It takes a broadly similar approach to ST, but is in much, much worse taste :)

[> [> [> [> Two other laughing at Nazisms from Mel Brooks and on PV -- shadowkat, 10:14:42 08/01/02 Thu

For a little less dark a tast -

Try these two Mel Brooks classics:

1. The Producers - which is now on Broadway, is about two Broadway play producers who decide to creat a flop, the pick the idea of doing a musical called Springtime for Hitler. Create a bunch of songs about Hitler and Nazism.
The movie and the musical intends to offend just about everyone and is gay romp through satire.

2. To BE or Not to BE - about a bunch of actors caught in Poland during the Nazi invasion.

Mel Brooks believed the best way to deal with monsters like Hitler was to laugh at them, bring them down to size.

Paul Verhoven is an interesting director - violent and constantly courting controversy - I believe he was the one who directed Basic Instinct (one of his first films), then
did Total Recall - which also discussed fascism but on MArs and controlled by corporate interests as well as the concept of what is real.

[> [> [> [> [> Oh, The Producers! If you can get tickets...do so!! -- Rob, 17:59:44 08/01/02 Thu

I saw it with Nathan Lane's understudy and he was briliant...Now he's starring in it.

So don't not go because Lane and Broderick left. It's still well worth going to!


[> Okay, just thought of two from Monty Python and Mel Brooks. -- A8, 20:01:31 08/01/02 Thu

Pretty much the entire "Life of Brian" movie, but especially the scene on the cross where the crucified are all whistling and singing a happy tune.

Then Mel Brooks' "The Inquisition" production number from "The History of the World." I can still hear it:"hey Torquemada, what do you say? I just got back from the auto- da-fey."

[> [> "The Inquisition, let's begin, The Inquisition, what a sin..." -- Rob, 20:33:04 08/01/02 Thu

"We know you're wishin That we'll go away But the Inquisition's here and It's here to stay!!"

Bring on the nuns! ;o)


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