Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Guilt; Vocations

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
10:21:00 AM MST
Feeling Angry


I'm all discombobulated today because of my disproportunate response to a pair of unpleasant emails from a man claiming to be a minister and longtime friend of Madeleine L'Engle. He accused me of promoting saccharine falsehoods on my L'Engle pages, said I should be ashamed of myself, and called my site fawning and obsequious. I eventually figured out that he was objecting to certain items on my L'Engle FAQ page. That page had not been updated since March, 2001, and was so labeled. The man was apparently incensed that I hadn't always known that some of L'Engle's reported details of her life were not entirely accurate, and said so, in the most perjorative terms possible. Or, failing that, that I did not update the site to include the most negative details of the New Yorker article on the moment I read them, or the moment he told me of them.

This whole thing has been distressing to me, especially this attack from a stranger who expects me to believe every word he writes, but does not provide his last name. Readers of this blog and the AOL sf writers' boards are aware that I've agonized about the New Yorker article and my best response to it.

Well, I've updated the FAQ page. I acknowledged most of the points raised in the article, but not all of them, and I've done my best not to attack either L'Engle or her family. Still, I'm not comfortable about all this. I have no perspective at all. That explains why I'm wasting time at work writing this when I have so much work to do (I'm terribly behind!), and why I got virtually no studying done last night for my accounting final tomorrow night. I need to stop worrying about this and get on with my life!

This is much worse than obsessing about the Mâvarin prequel.


Written by mavarin.
This entry has 1 comment:
    What I would do you mostly did. Update the FAQs and post that I've done so, that mea culpa, I hadn't earlier and I should've. Thanks to someone for pointing it out. I wouldn't name him.

    If the emails were nasty, I'd block him from emailing me or posting on my journal and I wouldn't answer him. I don't think people who are nasty deserve a response.

    Since you didn't state whether or not you responded to him directly--or I missed it--I can't comment on that. But if I did feel I should respond, I'd simply say, Thank you for pointing that out. And I'd leave it at that.
    Comment from shellys555 - 4/28/04 10:25 AM

Friday, April 30, 2004
11:14:00 AM MST

Vocations (no, this isn't a religious entry)

Last night I used all four hours of scheduled class time struggling through a final exam in Advanced Accounting. Afterward I told Fred, the CPA and UoP instructor, "Another four hours and I'd have nailed it. As it is, I'm not happy."

Even on the open book, open laptop test, I simply couldn't do all that work in the time allotted. My spreadsheets didn't balance. Good thing Fred gives partial credit for getting most of a problem right. Maybe I'll get a C on this; if I'm really lucky, a B.

Until my previous course, Intermediate Accounting III, I hadn't gotten less than an A for a course at University of Phoenix. Now it looks like I'll be A-less for two courses in a row. Rats.

It matters, because all this is a warm-up for taking a CPA exam next year. I have to learn this, or $20,000 worth of student loans will be for nothing. I was so good at this stuff in the early stages, but it's getting harder, and I'm getting slower at working it all out. I keep reassuring myself, Stewart Smalley style, that I'm good enough and smart enough. But my confidence isn't, shall we say, at an all-time high. Still, I have to keep going. It's a bit late to study for some other profession, even if there were something better suited to my talents, interests and personality. Accounting is a good profession for an introvert, and that's what I mostly am.

All I want to do, really, is finish the final edit on Heirs of Mâvarin, and work on To Rule Mâvarin and Mages of Mâvarin. But there's no money in that, especially if I don't submit anything anywhere. I haven't sent out a query in 18 months.

So this weekend I'll do a little Mâvarin stuff, and start reading downloaded chapters for the tax accounting course. It's supposed to be an easy course, and the instructor is really good.

Maybe after that course, I'll feel less desperate about whether I'm really up to this accounting stuff.


Written by mavarin.
This entry has 2 comments:
for a while before revising
    I've been told that only 7% of people without postgrad degrees pass the CPA on the first try. Pretty daunting! --KFB
    Comment from >mavarin - 5/1/04 10:56 PM

    My hubby's one-time pass on the CPA exam, notwithstanding, I've been told this is hard to pass on the first try, at least in NYS, sort of like passing the bar the first time. It's do-able, but many folks don't do it. Your grades aren't as important as understanding the material. Good luck!
    Comment from shellys555 - 4/30/04 11:48 AM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Testing Capabilities; Living the Fictional Life

Sunday, April 25, 2004
12:02:00 AM MST

Testing capabilties

Aha! I've been wondering how Shelly got pictures into her entries without those big ugly white boxes around them. Cool. I've now got the journal set to wrap the text around the big white boxes when I do use them, and now I know I can do the little clip art thing, too.

I also added the "not Rani" picture to the About Me box, and added Wil Wheaton, of all people, to the journal list.

As long as I'm using the book quote gif thingy, I'll go ahead and recommend the book I'm reading now, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I'm not fond of the title, but the book itself is excellent. (In case you've missed the minor hoopla about it, it's a British bestseller about punctuation--really!)


Written by mavarin . Link to this entry
This entry has 4 comments: (Add your own)
To Shelly: Nope! I found a camera icon near the text controls. (Was that there before? I don't think so.) Clicking on that gives me a chance to type the URL of the clip art I want to appear in the same box as the text.

To HG: In the early days of eBay, when John and I cruised the yard sales every Saturday morning, we were frequently annoyed at the sight of printed metal signs advertising estate sales run by a couple named Brown. "The Brown's Are Selling" was a slogan on the signs, and on Mr. Brown's smock (apron?), I noticed, when I attended one of the sales. John and I always derisively call the couple "the Brown Is," not to their faces, of course, but from the privacy of our car. The happy part of the story is that the signs were changed a year or two ago. The offending apostrophe is gone. I like to think that so many people gave them grief about the error that they finally changed the signs, either for the sake or literacy and professionalism, or just for the sake of peace. - KFB
Comment from mavarin - 4/25/04 10:08 PM

It will be interesting to see just how big a sensation E, S & L becomes over here -- and whether it has real impact. A half-million Brits have read it; is that nation becoming any better punctuated?

Actually, I believe the panda on the cover visited a Goodyear auto service shop in Lynn, Mass., sometime last year. The sign out front read "GOODYEAR WELCOME'S COMMUTERS" for a year or so. Last year, somebody (or some Asian, bear-like mammal) painted over the apostrophe in a not-quite-matching shade of gray. I can only hope that scores of customers and passers-by, not just one nagging grammarian, complained.

Comment from eeyorehmg - 4/25/04 8:06 PM

I guess I should add that I have Eats, Shoots and Leaves on my To Buy list. And I love Wil Wheaton's blog. It's an award winner, I believe. I found out about it when I saw his book in B&N.
Comment from shellys555 - 4/25/04 7:13 AM

Actually, someone on the Journals message board explained how to copy and paste after you upload graphics to My FTP space and when you do that, there's no white box. Is that how you're doing it now? It looks good.
Comment from shellys555 - 4/25/04 7:11 AM

<> Sunday, April 25, 2004
9:56:00 PM MST

Living the Fictional Life

I've interviewed dozens of actors, writers, producers and other creative people over the years, mostly in connection with Doctor Who and Quantum Leap and, decades ago, Star Trek. Celebrity tends to accrue more to on-camera types than behind-the-scenes people, so it's the actors who turn up most at conventions and golf tournaments. The writers are more easily found in production offices or at home, and there are fewer opportunities to meet them unless they're named John Vornholt or Ed Bryant or David Gerrold. Consequently, most of my interviewees are actors. That's fine with me.

When I talk to an actor, the question I'm always driving at, usually without arriving, is this: what happens in the actor's mind at the moment of performance? When I do ask the question, I get a variety of answers.

Some actors claim that it's simply a matter of hitting their marks, saying their lines and not bumping into the scenery. But is that truly all they're doing? Is it as calculated and external as that, just a matter of saying the lines convincingly, without ever feeling them?

The next level goes along with the cliche, "once more with feeling." In this scenario, the actor uses his or her own feelings and experiences to inform the performance. It's a relational thing. The actor has not been through quite what the character is going through. The character is upset about the death of a sister, but the actor isn't upset about the character's sister. The actor remembers the death of a dog, or a mother, or a friend in high school. It's enough to put real feeling into the lines about the death of the sister, but they're not the character's feelings.

One level deeper, and one gets to "being out of your head," as Richard Herd puts it. This is the level of controlled madness, or, perhaps, loss of control. This is the edge of, I suppose, the Method, but I've never read An Actor Prepares, only a short story by Harlan Ellison ("All the Sounds of Fear," I think it's called.) The actor actually slips into the personality of the character, and maybe, in some fashion, experiences what the character experiences, lives bits the character's fictional life.

I'm not sure whether that really happens, or whether it''s just another way an actor chooses to look at the process. It may be that the line-sayer and the method actor are doing pretty much the same thing, but perceive it differently. It could also be that the idea of an actor becoming the character, however temporarily and vicariously, is just my flawed interpretation of what Scott Bakula and Richard Herd and others have said.

I'm not an actor. I took an acting class at the age of five or six, and appeared on stage in Syracuse in 1965 in one of my mom's musical revues. In school I played a skunk, was a narrator several times, and beat Dan Cheney as "Bobby Fischer" in a sketch that marked my last stage appearance ever. I have no feeling for acting, no drive for it. The closest I get to acting is when, like today, I get to read a passage to the congregation in church, especially if there's dialogue in it, or read a passage from my novels aloud to a friend.

What I am, aside from a bookkeeper and student and wife and all the other things I am, is a writer. My creative process that isn't the same as what an actor does, but in a way it's similar. Like the actor who has an inkling of what it's like to be an alien or a member of the opposite sex or Lee Harvey Oswald by virtue of playing and embodying that role, I have an inkling how a tengrem thinks because I've written from a tengrem's point of view. It doesn't matter that there's no such thing as a tengrem. It doesn't matter that Rani and Del and Crel and Fayubi aren't real. It doesn't matter that Scott Bakula and Willie Garson probably don't really know what it was like to be Lee Harvey Oswald, and that nobody really knows what it's like to have two hearts and twelve regenerations. It's still an important and valuable thing, bringing these people to life, on stage or page, big screen or small. Knowing how Crel feels about power, how Fayubi feels about playing the fool, and even how Rani feels about rabbits, gives me a chance to experience and feel and, most of all, think about concepts and principles and emotions that I'd never come across while balancing credit card accounts against vendor payables--at least, not unless my mind is seriously wandering at that moment!

There's one more level, one more step in the process. That's when the reader or viewer reads the book or watches the performance. If the creative people have done their jobs well, the reader or audience will also have some inkling what it's like to serve on a starship, be shot in Philadelphia, escape from Castrovalva, or catch a rabbit and eat it raw. Whether the experience itself is a good or a bad one, the consumer of the entertainment will enjoy it, be shocked or inspired by it, learn from it, or all of the above. Some of those consumers will then create or embody fictional people of their own, and pass those real emotions and unreal experiences to further audiences.

Neat, huh?


Written by mavarin.

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Friday, April 23, 2004

The Inconvenience of Inspiration; Character Profiles

Friday, April 23, 2004
2:39:00 PM MST
The Inconvenience of Inspiration

Okay, now I'm in trouble. I just spent part of lunch working on my prequel, Prince of Mavarin, which will probably be renamed To Rule Mâvarin. The book will take Jor from teenaged prince to widowed prisoner of the tengremen. Most of the characters from his generation - Fayubi, Sunestri, Lormarte, Genva, Jami, Lokvi, Pol, Wil, and Harisoni - will be in it. I think it opens with Fabi (the future Fayubi) writing his most important prophecy while Hari/Harisoni hums in his sleep. It will probably end with some version of the scene with Jor shown here as Otherworld Journal Entry #5.

Why now? I have no time for this!


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Saturday, April 24, 2004
10:59:00 PM MST
Character profiles on

...have all been written and uploaded. Each character page has a portrait by Sherlock, a brief introduction to the character, a brief quote by him or her, and either a fictional "journal entry," a book excerpt or both. The journal entries are the same ones posted here, and do not appear in the books themselves. Eventually I hope to have both an original entry and a book excerpt for each page.

While I was at it, I reordered the "next character profile" links to cover all eleven pictured characters with no orphans. (At least one page was accidentally "left out of the loop" before.)

A propos of my earlier musings about writers, privacy and family relationships, I made a link from the Rutana page to the Ruth Anne Johnson page, but not from my mom's page back directly to the Rutana page. People can just use the back function or go to the index page.

My mom, Ruth Anne Johnson, was a Renaissance Woman of sorts, a psychologist and singer and playwright and composer-lyricist and teacher and administrator and all-around overachiever. Her page doesn't really go into all that, or what she meant to me; and really, you probably wouldn't be interested in such details unless you knew her. What is on the page, the part that may be of interest to people who care about music and writing, is the lyric to one of her best songs. Take a peek sometime, if you feel like it! Perhaps one of these days, I'll post lyrics to Merry-Go-Round or The John Burp Marching Song. And if anyone has cheap-and-easy ideas for transcribing my mom's handwritten, faded sheet music from 1964-1972, please drop me a line. Mind you, there's a lot of it, so transcribing it all is probably not something you want to volunteer to do for me!


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Monday, April 12, 2004

Updates; L'Engle Controversy

Monday, April 12, 2004
2:38:00 PM MST
Updates and Things to Come

I just revised my recommended authors page to include links to some author-related websites, particularly for Harlan Ellison and Douglas Adams. The most recent addition to the Mâvarin material is a page for Li Ramet (see below).

Still to come: one more religious entry to finish off my series of Lenten/Easter reflections and self-examination. Please understand, everyone, that these are not intended as a criticism of anyone else's religious, agnostic or atheist views. They are merely a sharing of my experience and information concerning Episcopal practices as I've observed them in recent years.

Also, I will be writing about an article in the current issue of The New Yorker about Madeleine L'Engle [link to be updated]. To fans of this wonderful writer, the article is somewhat upsetting. I will offer some perspective on this as soon as I have a moment to do so. Meanwhile, I'm terribly behind on my schoolwork!

And finally, I have a rant in my head about all the pictures of Rani I've gotten poor Sherlock to do over the past several weeks. I will probably post about this on AOL and to the UrsaMajor email list rather than here. Stay tuned.


Written by mavarin

This entry has 2 comments:

This is going to sound lame, but I don't know how to access Usenet any more. I haven't been on rec.arts anything in over a decade. - KFB
Comment from mavarin - 4/16/04 10:35 PM

If you have access to Usenet, you might check out rec.arts.books.childrens when you have a chance. A discussion of the L'Engle article is already under way and is, so far, troll-free.


Comment from eeyorehmg - 4/14/04 2:57 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004
11:03:00 PM MST
L'Engle news and perpectives

As many people know, Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite writers, probably my very favorite writer. I maintain an online bibliography to her work, although I've been very delinquent in updating it in recent years. Here's the link to the main page, which I just updated:

Two recent bits of L'Engle-related news have caused quite a stir among her fans. The first is good news: after years of delay, the 3-hour adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time will air on Monday, May 10th. I was beginning to worry that it wouldn't air during the writer's lifetime.
The other news is that there was a profile of Madeleine L'Engle in an early April issue of The New Yorker. Normally, I'd say this was a good thing, but the article was upsetting. L'Engle's children and grandchildren, who were interviewed extensively for the article, allege that L'Engle's nonfiction is too fictional, that her fiction is too real (and therefore an invasion of their privacy), that Hugh Franklin cheated on L'Engle, and that her son--well, never mind. Basically they resent appearing in her work, both under their own names and in the form of fictional characters with similar traits or experiences.

After reading the article, I have to say that my opinion of L'Engle is not much diminished, but I'm quite annoyed with her progeny--not for telling their version of the truth, but for their obvious resentment of these wonderful books.

Every writer is told to "write what you know!" Not all do so, but many, like L'Engle, take bits of their lives and the lives of loved ones, and twist and fictionalize them into something more interesting and dramatic. L'Engle has been doing this, and doing it extremely well, since the 1940s. There is nothing wrong with this, in my opinion.

What is wrong, it seems to me, is that now when L'Engle in her mid-80s and in less than perfect health, her relatives have decided to blurt to the national press their condemnation of the books that damaged their lives by invading their privacy. I can see that it would be difficult for them, but nobody's life is perfect. This article seems like a long-delayed betrayal on their part.


Written by mavarin (Link to this entry)

This entry has 2 comments:

Didn't Christopher R. Milne have problems in adulthood dealing with his father's having frozen him in childhood in the Pooh books?

I can understand that sort of resentment -- I'd have big problems with my mother or father publishing the names of my childhood stuffed toys and imaginary playmates; fortunately, neither is an author -- but the long delay by the L'Engle children and grandchildren is hard to figure. Could it be that no writer of a L'Engle profile had thought to talk to them before this one? You've written plenty on her -- had you ever sought out the children and grandchildren?

That said, it does seem as though some sort of resentment of some aspect of their relationships with L'Engle, not just resentment of being used as fictional characters, may be at work here. It's petty and quite unseemly at this stage of the game, agreed, but when feelings are hurt nasty words are often spoken. We don't know what L'Engle has said, privately, to these people over the years; perhaps they have been hurt as well.


Comment from eeyorehmg - 4/19/04 7:59 PM

A lot of humor columnists write about their families, as do many writers. Gerrold (sp) Durrell wrote a book, My Family and Other Animals, and really got up close and personal. To take offense at a fictional work seems odd. I suspect they didn't have a good relationship with their mother or they wouldn't be attacking her in public this way...
Comment from pagadan - 4/19/04 6:29 PM

Monday, April 19, 2004
10:01:00 PM MST

More on L'Engle controversy

I'm getting a variety of responses on this, not all on this page. Some people have more sympathy for the kids than others. One correspondent pointed out that children of celebrities pretty much inevitably suffer, but it seems to me there would be a spectrum there, too. A really abusive, troubled or unloving parent is going to do more damage than a stable, nurturing one, regardless of fame. Still, I suppose the fishbowl component is a genuine problem.

I've had very little contact with the children and grands, just the occasional email (usually a listserve or form letter) from one of the grandchildren, who issues biannual health updates. My impression from that is that until now the family has been protective of L'Engle, disseminating slightly rose-colored news and gradually taking over the writers' correspondence (the fan mail part of it, anyway). That makes the New Yorker gripefest all the more shocking.

For the record, I don't have much sympathy for Christopher Milne, either.

My mom wrote a couple of award-winning one act plays while she lived in Florida in the 1980s. She told me outright that the characters were based on me and my best friend growing up, Joel R. One of the plays has the pair running away together and hitchhiking across the country. I think the other one may have the characters married to each other. Joel and I never did anything of the sort. I've never read the plays, and never really thought much about them. As far as I'm concerned, the characters in them are just that--characters. They are my Mom's perspective of two real people at a certain time in their lives, filtered through my mom's own attitudes and personality, experiencing events that are mostly imaginary. Why should it upset me that Brevard County theatergoers once saw an actress portray someone a little like me, doing things I may or may not ever have done? Granted, that character isn't a world-famous magical child from a major literary work read by generations of children and adults, but I'm not sure that would change my response substantially. But who knows; maybe it would. If I ever come across those scripts in my mom's stuff and actually read them, I may have a clearer idea how L'Engle's progeny feel. Or not. I suppose if the character is depicted as cruelly betraying her mother, I'm not going to be happy about that--not because someone in Satellite Beach thinks Ruth Anne's daughter was mean to her, but because it would be a reflection of my mom's distorted perspective of my stormy relationship with her right after her divorce, which was very upsetting at the time.

I have to wonder whether the family trusted the New Yorker writer with candid remarks that were never intended for print. I also wonder, if L'Engle has read the article, what she thinks about it all. If she isn't bothered, maybe it's not such a terrible thing for the family to unburden themselves after all these years.


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The next entry from Musings, Otherworld Journal Entry #5: King Jor, can be found on Messages from Mâvarin.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Repose, Parts 1 and 2

The Altar of Repose during the English Faire

(Note: This picture did not appear on the original Musings entry, but was added when I first reposted this piece on the St. Michael's Arts blog.)

Friday, April 9, 2004
6:30:00 PM MST


Last night at midnight, my friend Kevin and I spent half an hour reading and praying at the altar of Repose in the back of St. Michael's & All Angels Church. The Eucharist lies hidden away there for nearly 24 hours each year, from the end of Maundy Thursday mass until the beginning of the Good Friday service. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, with its insitution of Holy Communion, otherwise known as Holy Eucharist, the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. Maundy Thursday also commemorates Gethsemane, with its sleepy apostles and the sweating of blood, and the arrest of Jesus. Good Friday commemorates his death and burial.

Some of the Eucharist consecrated on Thursday is set aside for Friday, which has no Eucharistic Prayer of its own. While it's there at the Altar of Repose, parishoners and clergy keep vigil in half hour shifts, usually two at a time, all night and all day. In effect, we are waiting up with Jesus on the anniversary of the Passion, staying awake as Peter, James and John did not.

All this takes place, at St. Michael's, in an area between the last pew, the ushers' table and the church's heavy wooden doors. The Altar itself is an an alcove on the right. Behind it is a painting of Jesus, attended by angels as he suffers. In front of it are two large candles, which I long to staighten--they both list to the right. To the left is a bank of votive candles, which may be burned for 25 cents each. Accomodatjons for the faithful include a rickety kneeler with attached rail, a couple of folding chairs, and the usual books: the Book of Common Prayer, the Eucharistic Lectionary and the Hymnal, not that we would sing through this. Some yeard there are laminated printouts of suggested prayers. Not this year. We're on our own.

(to be continued)

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Friday, April 9, 2004
6:39:00 PM MST

Repose, Part Two

This year at the Altar of Repose I did pretty much what I always do on this occasion. Part of it I spent in prayer, of course. This consisted mostly of a rather self-absorbed monologue in which I attempted to make a connection, intellectually and emotionally, with Jesus: who he is, why he did what he did, and what he wants now. The rest of the time I read a couple of psalms, two chapters of Acts and two of John, and the Maundy Thursday readings I'd missed in favor of a four hour class about the equity method and the purchase method of accounting for business combinations.

At the end, just before Father Smith and his daughter arrived for the next half hour slot, I found myself wondering: did I get anything out of this? Am I supposed to get anything out of this? Or am I supposed to be giving something to it? If the latter, did I manage to do so?

I don't know, but I tried.

Karen Funk Blocher
Good Friday, 2004

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Note: the next entry from Musings, "Excerpt from Prince Talber’s Mâvarin Journal," can be found in Messages from Mâvarin.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Silent Night; Doing Good

Wednesday, April 7, 2004
10:19:00 AM MST
Hearing NPR

Silent Night

Last night I went to post a fun little piece on the expression "did good" (hi, Howard!), but AOL's journal posting function was apparently offline. I'll try again tonight. Also on tap: another new fictional journal entry, this time from Prince Talber of Londer. You can see it now. though, on his new page on I've been posting one character profile a day over there, and he's the latest.

I've accessed Musings from Mavarin from AOL for Mac OS 10, on the latest AOL for Windows, and via the Web (Netscape and IE). It's highly variable. Sometimes I have text controls, sometimes not. Sometimes I can paste prewritten text into this box, sometimes not. This seems to be true even comparing different instances using the same program and computer. Weird, huh? The other day I had to retype my Palm Sunday piece from scratch, and partly from memory, when the second entry ran too long.

Which reminds me, this entry is probably long enough.

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The journals have been wonky since the upgrade early Tuesday as the beta testing is over and the revamped journals went live. I could only add entries via IM and couldn't edit. Someone suggested going in thru IE and that worked, and then doing it thru AOL worked. Finally. We can do much longer entries now--25,000 characters--so it's been worth the temporary inconvenience, IMO.
Comment from shellys555 - 4/7/04 6:00 PM

Wednesday, April 7, 2004
6:15:00 PM MST

Doing Good

NPR's All Things Considered aired a commentary yesterday by a sixth grade teacher named Daneil Ferri, objecting to the use of the expression "did good" by his students and by sportscasters, most particularly (allegedly) Bob Costas. Although it was a funny piece, Ferri missed an important point, prompting me to write the following email to NPR:

At the risk of being a goody-goody or a goody-two shoes, I must take issue with Daniel Ferri's commentary aired April 6th,about the expression "did good." His otherwise amusing story overlooked the possibility that erudite sportscaster Bob Costas may have spoken correctly.

"Good is an adjective," Ferri insisted to his class, and to his listeners. It is, sometimes, but what if it isn't? Sometimes "good" is a noun meaning the quality (or quantity!) of goodness, as in, "the battle of Good and Evil," or "In the battle for correct grammar, James Thurber was a force for good," or even, "Bob Brenly's batting order
du jour may do some good." Costas may have said something of the sort, and said it correctly. By the same token, people who try to save the world are correctly called "do-gooders," not "do-betters." Myself, I'd like to do some good, and do it well.


Karen Funk Blocher

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I haven't watched one minute of a Diamondbacks game so far this year. Even if I didn't feel as if they're no longer the team I knew, I just haven't time! - Thanks for posting! - Karen
Comment from mavarin - 4/11/04 10:05 PM

Maybe, but the pitching order (rotation) is pure evil.
Comment from eeyorehmg - 4/11/04 9:58 PM

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Palm Sunday Heresy, Parts 1-2-3

Sunday, April 4, 2004
1:17:00 PM MST
Palm Sunday Heresy, Part One

When I was about six or seven years old, I used to hold my own little mass in what my family called the game room, the library-shelved, leftover furniture filled finished room next to the basement, in which my mom met with her patients in private practice. I would put a purple towel on my mom's desk, set up a statue of Mary that my godmother had given me, and read through the Weekly Missal, very fast. I didn't quite credit, at that age, that it didn't count unless there was a real priest present, and that only men were priests. In those days, no women served at Mass at St. Anne's in Manlius, New York. Acolytes were called altar boys, and even the readers were male deacons at least.

By the time I reached high school, some of the altar boys were girls, and there were lay readers, some of them women. I wasn't among them, although I still sat in a pew every Sunday. I was in my Jesus Person phase, illustrating a Jesus Christ Superstar album cover for art class with a somewhat graphic depiction of the crucifixion, singing songs from Godspell at Area All-State, going up to the front at the War Memorial when invited to do so by David Wilkerson protege Nicky Cruz, where some disciple wrote down "H.S" as the reason I came forward. Despite everything, though, I didn't get what I was looking for, a little spark of feeling in my soul that I knew for sure to be God, waving and calling out, "I'm here. I'm real."
I kept looking for that through college. I went to church at St. Patrick's across town to see Father Ed Van Auken, who once said, "Theology's not my bag." I attended get-togethers at Newman House where a priest whose name I've forgotten preached against the Pill I was taking. I had long discussions about God with a close friend who wanted to be among the first female Episcopal priests, but who was rejected. I agreed less and less with the Catholic Church and the Creed. I wasn't sure what I believed any more, in something, certainly, but not in "the resurrection of the body." Then I married an agnostic, soon to be an atheist, who liked to say, "one man's religion is another's belly laugh." That was the end of my churchgoing, except for the occasional Christmas, for many years to come. If I didn't believe it, why go to church to say it?
(to be continued)

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Sunday, April 4, 2004
7:28:00 PM MST
Palm Sunday Heresy, Part Two

Fast forward nearly 20 years, during which I hardly ever went to church, hardly ever looked at a Bible. In all those years of waiting for inspiration to hit, waiting to find out what I believed, I never really worked at it. I thought going to church and saying the creed would make me a hypocrite. I did, however, build a rather impressive collection of Madeleine L'Engle books, including a bunch of religious nonfiction. I've never read most of them, but I got the impression from what I did read that the Episcopal Church, a cathedral of which L'Engle attended, was worth a try. It seemed to have all the things I liked about the Catholic Church, and none of the stuff I didn't. That's an oversimplification, but it proved to be fairly accurate.

So I went to the church up the street from me, the one with a socially conscious sign out front. I've been going there ever since. It turns out that faith, for me, at least, is more a function of doing in public than of thinking in private. I was never going to find faith (much less prove anything to myself logically) by ignoring the subject most of the time, never going to church, never reading the Bible or any other books on the subject. I had to go to church, read the readings, listen to the sermons, think about the prayers, and maybe have a cup of ice tea in the Parish Center afterward. Once I started doing these things, I discovered that the Nicene Creed didn't bother me nearly as much at age 40 as it did when I was 20. I don't believe every word on a literal level, but I believe them on some level. And I learned that maybe there is a little spark inside me that says that God is there, God is real, even if I don't feel it every second, even if I don't understand, even if I don't know exactly what to believe.
(one more part to follow.)

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Sunday, April 4, 2004
8:31:00 PM MST
Palm Sunday Heresy, Part Three

These days I act as crucifer about twice every six weeks, and read to the congregation about once every ten weeks. I never quite get it right, somehow. When reading, I go a little too fast, or lose my place and blurt out, "Wait a minute...," or stumble over a word. Carrying the crucifix on a long pole near the front of the procession, I walk a little too fast, or too close to the thurifer (incense-bearer), or let the candles (candle-bearers) get ahead of me, or knock into something, especially outside before and after Mass. Up in the sanctuary, I forget to go get the stand for the readings, or to put it back, or to retrieve the cross during the prayer over the catechumen, until Proscovia nudges me or gives me a look or says my name. So I don't do it perfectly, ever, but I get by. Afterward I eat high carb food at coffee hour, and go home and update the church website at http://smaa/mavarin/com/smaa.html, or more likely just the schedule page.

Why do I forget to do what I'm supposed to do? I'm thinking about what I believe, or the parts of the ritual others perform, or the pain in my knees as I kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. I'm trying to sing a hymn without the hymnal, because I never have one when I serve as crucifer. I'm wondering whether 98-year-old Eva's okay, because she didn't come to Mass, or she fainted, or she just stepped outside. I'm thinking about the readings, and the prayers, and the styles of the different priests and what they each have to say. I'm thinking about my novels, or my school work, or my stomach ache. So mind mind wanders, until Proscovia nudges me or my mind wanders back on its own.

It's not good enough. I know it's not good enough. I'm not attentive enough. I still don't know exactly what I believe. I don't do much to save the world or feed the hungry. I don't have faith the size of a mustard seed.

But at night I go to bed and pray my repetitive, idiosyncratic prayers, full of gimme and give us and not at all full of praise, because I'm not good at it and don't know how to say it sincerely. I think about Heaven, which I neither understand nor reject entirely. And I talk to God, as I've always done. He never really answers, but I know he's there. He's real. He's listening. There's no ecstatic revelation, just a feeling, the same one I've always had.
And, because of Him, it is enough after all.

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Web Update

Thursday, April 1, 2004
9:48:00 AM MST
Web Update

All 11 of Sherlock's illustrations of Mavarin characters are now on Character profile pages will follow soon. So far I've added one for Cathma and one for Fayubi.

In other news, I got a B in Intermediate Accounting III. That's the first course since I went back to school for which I didn't get an A. 12 As, one B. What's my GPA now?


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