Thursday, May 31

The most epic confrontations in the Tolkien Legendarium.
Note: If you haven't read The Silmarillion and to a lesser degree Unfinished Tales and The Children of Húrin, a lot of these will not be familiar to you. I suggest you just skip this post altogether until and if you read those books. A knowledge of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is certainly required, but it only tells of the Third Age (with some few flashback to earlier days), and many of the grandest armed confrontations occurred in earlier ages, especially for some reason in the First Age, when Morgoth was constantly up to no good and the proud princes of the Noldor were still mighty.

In your opinion, what were the greatest individual or small-group conflicts in the history of Middle Earth? I don't mean grand strategic clashes like the destruction of the rings, nor wars fought by thousands on either side, but individual single-combat duels or one against many or small group versus small group conflicts. These are some of the most dramatic points in the various tales of the Ages, and can make a hero's reputation live in song for generations to come, so I want to know which were the truly epic fights, either because of the tremendous power of both combatants, or a case where a much weaker combatant takes on a stronger one against seemingly hopeless odds or at least dies honorably leaving an account of himself that surprises and awes everyone. No need to go on, you know what I mean by epic!

Here are the choices in no particular order. You can select 10 or as many as you want if you want to describe your reasoning. Likewise, you can describe why some matchups were not as heroic as billed. You can rank them or rate them. It's really up to you and your knowledge of each conflict. You can even put in your own favorite conflicts that I've overlooked. I will weigh in after several others have put their two cents in. For convenience I've numbered them in case it's easier for you to refer to them that way.

1. Fëanor vs Gothmog and his balrogs and many orcs (with only a couple other elves at his side).
2. Boromir against innumerable orcs and úruks defending Merry and Pippin after betraying Frodo.
3. Fingolfin vs Morgoth (after challenging him to single combat and bringing him out of Angband).
4. Ecthelion vs Gothmog (inside Gondolin during the sack of that city).
5. Túrin vs Glaurung (singlehandedly and one-handedly after seemingly everything goes wrong).
6. Beren, Lúthien, and Huan vs Curufin and Celegorm, Carcharoth, Sauron, and Morgoth.
7. Eärendil vs Ancalagon the Black (during the War of Wrath).
8. Bilbo and Bard vs Smaug (in Lonely Mountain and over Lake Town).
9. Éowyn and Merry vs the Witch-King of Angmar on the Pelennor fields.
10. Aragorn, Imrahil, and Éomer vs thousands of orcs and trolls on the Pelennor fields.
11. Gandalf vs Durin's Bane (the balrog of Moria).
12. Gandalf the Grey vs Saruman (their first encounter).
13. Aragorn vs five Black Riders on Amon Sûl (Weathertop).
14. Aragorn meeting Sauron's gaze and matching his will in the palantír of Orthanc.
15. Glorfindel against a balrog outside Gondolin (during the sack of that city).
16. The four returning hobbits in the battle of Battle of Bywater, to rid the Shire of Sharky's mob.
17. Húrin vs Gothmog and his troll guard in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.
18. Húrin vs Morgoth (resisting Morgoth's will rather than a physical battle).
19. Gandalf the White vs Saruman (at Orthanc after the ents have made a mess of Isengard).
20. Gil-Galad, Círdan, Elrond, Elendil, and Isildur vs Sauron on the slopes of Mount Doom.
21. The ents vs Isengard and its remaining legion of orcs plus a rather hapless Saruman.
22. Sam vs Shelob with Frodo already poisoned.
23. Finwë vs Melkor in Aman trying to retake the stolen silmarils.
24. Aragorn confronting the spirit king Baldor of the oathbreakers and his horde in Dunharrow.
25. Finrod Felagund in chains vs Sauron and a huge werewolf.
26. Orodreth of Nargothrond vs Glaurung and his host.
27. Ar-Pharazôn of Númenor vs Sauron and later vs the Valar.
28. Azaghâl driving back Glaurung to Angband in the Dagor Bragollach.
29. Fingon who drove back a young Glaurung then later nearly slew Gothmog but for treachery.
30. The "Princes of the West" vs the numberless horde at the Morannon (end of ROTK).
31. Huan the hound vs Carcharoth the wolf in single combat during Beren and Lúthien's quest.
32. Frodo vs Smeagol for the ring in the halls of Orodruin (Mount Doom).
33. Thingol defeating the toughest orc ever, Boldog (heh), in single combat.
34. Morwen holding out against the easterlings for several long years with Nienor to care for.
35. Thorondor, king of eagles, against multiple winged dragons in the War of Wrath.
36. Thingol, Beleg, Mablung, Beren, and Huan(!) vs the silmaril-crazed Carcharoth.

Again, I realize this is only for true Tolkien buffs, so feel free to pass it by, but remember if you do you're a big wuss and you should be ashamed of yourself for not reading more about the history of Middle Earth.

Bull in the Pen
(Michael Rose)

Three sixes, the sign of the Pope.

The fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen
I said the fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen
The mark of the beast is on a President
The fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen

Round the bend, there creeps supernatural force
While babies with open mouths holler and shout
Shed tears for food to eat day and night
Ethiopia's calling, show your African pride!

The fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen
I said the fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen

The truth doesn't make you less of a man
So make South Africa know they are lying
Can't get nothing to eat, they all are freaks
Woman get shot, some sent to the desert to suffer.

The fence never hold - too much bull in a the pen
I said the fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen
The mark of the beast is on a President
The fence nah hold - too much bull in a the pen

To hide the truth from my people
Whites stop and stare when technology is advanced
Your reward shall be your "treat"
Some walking up and down the street, with nothing to eat.

The fence never hold - too much bull in a the pen
I said the fence can't hold - too much bull in a the pen
The mark of the beast is on a President
The fence nah hold - too much bull in a the pen

The Mark of the Beast is on our President.

America is not the world.
(who else?)

America, your head's too big
Because America, your belly's too big.
And I love ya,
I just wish you'd stay where you is.

In America,
The land of the free, they say
And of opportunity
In a just and a truthful way;
But where the president
Is never black, female or gay
And until that day,
You've got nothing to say to me
To help me believe.

In America
They brought you the hamburger.
Well America, you know where
You can shove your hamburger.
And don't you wonder why in Estonia they say,
"Hey you, big fat pig, you fat pig, you fat pig."

Steely blue eyes with no love in them
Scan the world.
And a humourless smile with no warmth within
Greets the world.
And I, I've got nothing to offer you
No, no, no, no, no
Just this heart deep and true
Which you say you don't need.

See with your eyes,
Touch with your hands, please.
Hear through your ears,
Know in your soul, please.
For haven't you me with you now?
And I love you, I love you, I love you
And I love you, I love you, I love you.

Spanish Caravan
(Jim Morrison)

Carry me caravan take me away

Take me to portugal, take me to spain
Andalusia with fields full of grain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, spanish caravan
Yes, I know you can.
Trade winds find galleons lost in the sea
I know where treasure is waiting for me
Silver and gold in the mountains of spain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, spanish caravan
Yes, I know you can.

What are your favorite 15 Tolkien characters? (7 runners up allowed)
No Valar or Maiar allowed for this quiz (Wizards, Eagles, Sauron, Balrogs are all Maiar; Dragons and Ents are not).
No Tom Bombadil or Goldberry for this quiz either, since their natures are unknown.

Mine are, in order:
  1. Aragorn
  2. Túrin
  3. Beren
  4. Lúthien
  5. Húrin
  6. Fingolfin
  7. Círdan
  8. Elrond
  9. Faramir
  10. Frodo
  11. Imrahil
  12. Bilbo
  13. Fingon
  14. Éomer
  15. Pippin
Honorable mentions:

Wednesday, May 30

What are your 10 favorite Harry Potter characters?

Mine are, in order:
  1. Snape
  2. Dumbledore
  3. Hermione
  4. Luna
  5. The Weasley twins
  6. Lupin
  7. Hagrid
  8. Cho
  9. Ginny
  10. Mrs. Norris
Honorable mentions to:

The Sorting Hat

What are your 10 favorite Star Wars characters?

Mine are, in order:
  1. Boba Fett
  2. Han Solo
  3. Wedge Antilles
  4. Darth Maul
  5. Imperial guards
  6. Obi-Wan
  7. Snowtroopers
  8. Vader
  9. Qui-Gon Jinn
  10. Palpatine
Honorable mentions:
TIE pilots

Episode 6 Luke
Probe Droid

Try Not to Breathe.
(Michael Stipe)

I will try not to breathe

I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shivering and bold.
I will try not to breathe
This decision is mine.
I have lived a full life

And these are the eyes that I want you to remember.
I will try not to burden you I can hold these inside.
I will hold my breath

Until all these shivers subside, just look in my eyes.
I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me. I shudder to breathe.
I want you to remember.
I need something to fly over my grave again.
I need something to breathe.
Baby, don't shiver now, why do you shiver now?
I need someone to fly over my grave again.
I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me. Don't dare me to breathe.
I want you to remember.
I need something to fly over my grave again.
I need something to breathe.
I want you to remember.

I Sit and Think

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

-JRR Tolkien

Richard Cory
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich - yes, richer than a king -
And admirably schooled in every grace;
In fine we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

-Edward Arlington Robinson

FOOD, yo.

Most people seem to believe there are only five food groups. They got this notion way back in grammar school from someone called a "health" teacher who would go around to all the classes once a week to teach "health." No one is really sure what qualifications these people had, and what subjects "Health" actually covered. But one thing I do remember is they would stress the 'five basic food groups.'

Today with our sophisticated technology we actually know there are not five but TEN food groups, at least. They are as follows:

The "Queso Casero" food group
The "Brie" food group, which includes several subgroups
The "Guinness" food group
The "Bombay Sapphire" food group
The "Grey Goose" food group
The "Haagen Dazs Butter Pecan" food group
The "Coca Cola Classic" food group
The "Carl Buddig Lunch Meats" food group
The "Pizza" food group
The "Corn Nuts Original Flavor" food group

The next USDA meeting on the subject is scheduled for 2010. Applicants seeking "food" status include:

"Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn"
"Hot pastrami on rye"

I personally hope all three of these gain official recognition, as they contain among them rich sources of fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fats. We'll see what happens! I'm going to submit suggestions for "mayo" and "Jack in the Box tacos" as well, as soon as I can get around to it.

What food groups would YOU add?

Tuesday, May 29


The Sun is your friend, but don't forget protection from harmful UV rays.

There's no substitute for the heavens when it comes to beauty. If I were cut off from all the world I would become a Sun worshiper. I would write treatise upon treatise, paint landscapes, and write verse to someday be discovered by at least 1 or 2 people. I wouldn't care for general recognition, because generally I don't recognize most people as being sentient. Many seem like another species, incapable of higher thought.

The Sun brings us everything we need, it makes the green things grow, it powers life upon this earth. I can only marvel humbly at its power. It makes me feel good. I don't feel selfish for stealing the Sun's rays because they are there for all, and present whether you utilize them or not. I want to power the earth with sunlight. Wouldn't that be a delightful mimicry of nature? Forget the ugly black goo under the ground, sunlight is clean and good, and I feel best when I am sitting amidst it, sweating, cleansing myself, powering my body and mind. It alleviates depression. It is primal.

The Sun lords over all the planets of the solar system and all the living things of the earth, and I am not stupid enough to oppose it. Welcome, welcome instead, precious rays of light - bring illumination to all that is dark in my life. And don't give me cancer please.

Well, "jagulars" always call, "Halloo!"
And when you look up, they drop on you.


Monday, May 28


I heard a man say, without moving his lips, or opening his eyes, "Dread the passage of Jesus, for he will not return." And all was still about us. I heard no rustling of leaves, I heard then not anything. For the sky blew great black clouds that billowed grinning against a green sky, and the timber-creak of angels I knew in my bones. It is that moment I will never be allowed to let go. A little girl in a white dress sat on the lawn, her locks shorn. Across her head was tattooed again and again, time jesum transeuntum et non riverentum, time jesum transeuntum et non riverentum, time jesum transeuntum et non riverentum.... Until my mouth grew dry looking out to the horizon. And there I saw four men on four horses, and their heads were made of gold. And all was chaos about us. But there was no sound, no sound, no sound. Nothing to drown out the noise of the silence in which we lay, our appendages bound. Our minds redrawn. And all the churches had fallen to dust and scattered in the wind. For where the malevolence of faith takes hold, misery never ends; it never ends. The first man to die is the last man to Heaven. Take my hand, let's leave this dimension.

There are so many things I want to say to you; so many things I want to ask.
I don't get the present or the past. Couldn't believe when I met you, it could last.

Things I want to show you. See what you've done - how and why you've lived your life.
These things are on my mind. They come and go like tides. I spiral inward out of every day,

Wonder why you dropped me like a stone in a lake. Wonder why I take the things I do.
And how could I possibly love you? Because you are pretty? Is it that easy? Oh no, no.

I don't know what love is but I know when I feel it. That color you cannot forget again.
Only a few understand. Only a few made me feel that way... in all my long, long days.

Garden's green and full of bees. Blue sky glows atop the trees. Clouds swim slowly past.
I don't even know you; me I know much less. Didn't believe when I met you it would last.

What does it take to win your heart anyway?
How do men slip and slide into your life,
Treat you good and bad and underhandedly break your heart
How could somebody actually leave you?

I don't understand. But then I've never understood.
I'm a straight shooter and my heart is good,
I don't play chinese whispers. I don't love and run.
I just want to hold you fast beneath the sun.

¤ And feel good forever ¤

Marital - I mean martial - arts.

As we all know it is impossible to be skilled in the marital arts. You do one thing brilliantly, and like a butterfly's wing-flapping in Georgia, that causes an improbable chain of events which makes you out to be a bully in your spouse's world, and you get the doghouse.

But that's not what I want to know. What I'm wondering is, what's the most practical - nevermind aesthetic - martial art these days? Like, say I want to kick someone's behind (for defensive purposes only), and don't have a lifetime to dedicate to the philosophical side of things, what should I study?

Now before people start going nuts, I do appreciate that a lifetime's study of t'ai chi ch'üan and a strict Taoist philosophy will make you the ultimate badass, the one who never even has to fight and all that. I know I'm being flippant but that's my mood at the moment.

What I'm looking for is what fighting style will make you most effective on the street, not just against others using the same "style." Thugs, in other words. I'm thinking Capoeira, Wing Chun, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido. Even Eskrima if i wanted to include weapons. What about Jeet Kune Do? Is it legit or just hype?
Big ol' storm.

Here's a photo from Cassini showing a Category 9 storm on Saturn, which has a thick atmosphere to begin with. Yes, I said Cat 9 - which means that Saturn's New Orleans is gonna have a whole lot more to complain about than a filthy Superdome.

I'm heading straight for the eye of that sucker and following it where it goes.

One thing that bugs me.

Yep, there's only one. Well... anyways, I hate how hard it is to type special characters on computers, especially Windows. I haven't used Macs regularly since OS X came out, so I can't speak for that operating system, but Windows straight sucks when it comes to "true" quotes (left and right curl different ways), en- and emdashes (dashes of different lengths), a real apostrophe (it's not a vertical line), accented characters, circumflexes, tildes, umlauts, ellipses, daggers, and all the rest. One can hardly carry on a chat in Elvish without these characters, or even French, German, or nearly any other non-English language. Forget about Czech/Magyar or Swedish/Norse/Icelandic. And then there are whole different alphabets like Cyrillic and Cantonese, but that's another story for another day.

I know there is the ALT+XXXX approach where X=some number, but that means I have to keep a chart by my computer. In HTML there's the same ungainly idea with the &#XXXX thing. And there's Unicode, which is a cool means for fonts to actually have and display a large set of characters, but doesn't help the typist indicate the appropriate characters in the first place with an American or British keyboard. Maybe this already exists, but i suggest a little sidebar you can load where you can click any of these special characters and they will be instantly inserted into whatever text field has the focus. There are things like Key Caps that do this in a roundabout way, bu they are not quite friendly enough to use regularly. The other possibility is a keyboard that gets rid of dumb keys, like the Windows key, "scroll lock," "num lock," the existing tilde/grave key, and all the other garbage keys and replace them with a neat column of special inflection mark, say on the leftmost side of the keyboard where some dumb companies put application or media-control keys that don't work. Then, you just press that character, say an umlaut, then press your vowel on the normal part of the keyboard, and out pops the correct letter. No Ctrl or Alt+anything. Is this too simple for it to happen?

I like to use accents and related special characters when I can, and it makes a document more professional and beautiful to see them used correctly–so why is it so hard to do the right thing?

If anyone has suggestions that might make my life easier in this regard I'd welcome them. Thanks.
Amateur art that is better than mine - Part I
But I've lost the credits. If one of these is yours and you want it removed, let me know.

Amateur art that is better than mine - Part II
But I've lost the credits. If one of these is yours and you want it removed, let me know.

One thing I do know is the guy in the second-to-last one is hosed.

Sunday, May 27

or: People Can't Help But Look At Other People

Barry Bonds


Edward Norton

Renée Zellwegger

Charlize Theron
Jessica Alba

Grace Kelley

Brendan Perry

Hard Gay

Stephen Morrissey

Kate Beckinsale

Archived Posts

Search The Meta-Plane