Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Review | Finding Merlin

[This review is by Nick Owchar of the LA Times. I have not yet read the book, but I do have a slight interest.]

In search of a wizard

In 'Finding Merlin: The Truth Behind the Legend of the Great Arthurian Mage,' Adam Ardrey condemns long-ago chroniclers for their motives but is like a sleuth in tracking ancient details.
By Nick Owchar November 23, 2008
Think of your favorite movie Merlin: Was it Sam Neill's Tolkienesque version (see photo) or was it "Excalibur's" Nicol Williamson, with that unforgettable steel skullcap? How about Stephen Dillane's blue-faced portrayal in the 2004 box office disappointment "King Arthur"? (The movie didn't disappoint me, Keira Knightley was in it.) Adam Ardrey would have none of them, and very little of all the other Arthuriana that's out there -- not T.H. White's "The Once and Future King," not Tennyson's "Idylls of the King," Thomas Malory's epic, "Le Morte D'Arthur," not even Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon."
The author of "Finding Merlin: The Truth Behind the Legend of the Great Arthurian Mage" (The Overlook Press: 384 pp., $24.95) would say that any adult interested in these inventions must be emotionally trapped in junior high. Oh, and they've probably also participated (at least once) in one of those silly medieval warfare reenactments. Excuse me while I adjust my chain-mail pants. And yet, above his clear distaste for the popular versions of this legend -- and he doles out plenty of this in his new book -- there is a fascinating question which he pursues with zeal: Just who was Merlin, really?
The answer Ardrey's book provides is that the real Merlin was something of a scientist and Druid leader who helped the Scots and Britons fight off the Angles in the aftermath of Roman occupation. For his efforts, though, Ardrey says Merlin's contributions were written out of early English chronicles or, when he is found, he is reduced to an insulting form -- a wildman or a madman of some kind... [Read More]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Funny: Let's Go Exploring

I love this comic strip. Scott Kurtz penned a truly fine homage to Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes". Click the image to see it full size, or use the following link to view the strip on Kurtz' website: PvPonline » Archive » Let’s Go Exploring

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quotable | Cary Grant

open quoteEverybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.” -- Cary Grant

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Idiots in the Wild: Group of Bird Watchers Commit Act of Face-Smacking Stupidity

Here's the nickel summary of the story: Man spots rarely seen bird -- a burrowing owl. Tells other nearby birders who repeatedly flush the oul into the air so it could be seen. Within hours, the burrowing owl is torn apart by a hawk. Afterward, Robert Hughes, the man who first spotted the owl and sent an alert to others, wrote: "The sad truth is that we birders may very well have been responsible for the demise of the burrowing owl." Well, give that man a gold star and call him Captain Obvious! If this is how folks are appreciating local wildlife, I'd feel a lot better if they just ignored it. Full story at Birders wonder if they contributed to owl's death I recommend reading the comments as well.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Doctor is (Write) In

Brent Sienna votes for the other "One." Original URL:

Election Day 2008!

This morning, I was the 46th individual to cast a 2008 ballot at my polling location. Two years of speeches, fliers, TV and radio spots, debates, and bloviating all come down to this day. And now, all I can do is wait. Some time tonight, or early tomorrow morning, my country will have a new president. I always find it exhilarating to participate in the electoral process. And today was no different -- in fact, it was probably a bit more exciting than previous elections. My being voter #46 is one reason for the excitement. You see, I believe it is a good sign that almost 50 people had voted shortly after the polls opened: For the past several elections, I was among the first 25 voters, even nailing the number one position twice. So I am thinking along the lines of record turnout now. The candidates themselves is the other reason for this excitement. Regardless of what you think of Senators McCain and Obama, this election is the first one in a long time where I did not feel that voting for a major party candidate was a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. Seriously, I feel that either man is a capable leader. But please do not misunderstand me -- they represent very different options for the United States of America and her future. Which is why I do not understand people who choose not to vote. Some people claim it's because of the choices. But there are at least six options in this election alone! Depending on your state, there are candidates from the Republican, Democratic, Independent, Libertarian, Constitution, and Green parties. And choosing to vote third-party or for a write-in candidate is completely understandable. In fact, I have done so on more than one occasion (one time writing in "None of the Above"), but never more than once per election, mind you. No, it is the individual who cannot be bothered to vote. The individual who thinks it's about being "outside the process" or sees voting as simply something "other people do." Even more infuriating are the people who skip the polls due to laziness, apathy, or weather ("I can't vote because it's raining"). Now, surely, there are many people who feel forced to forgo voting because of work, or inability to travel, or a host of other issues. Fortunately, if these people are identified, helpul volunteers are more than willing to do what it takes to get them to the polls. But there is nothing to be done for the individual who chose to not register, who cares not one whit about voting. At least ... nothing that will make any difference before the polls close today. Happy Election Day, America! Kudos to you if you voted. And a long period of soul searching for those of you who could not be bothered to participate.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some "Post" Samhain Writings

I've been a bit quiet here, and I do apologize for not keeping up with the blog. In lieu of writing some updates of my own, I point you to two collections of posts over at MetaPagan. First up, chronologically that is, would be a lovely set of Samhain poetry and traditions collected from across the web and MetaPagan contributors. Second, a sampling of Samhain stories. These stories are a welcome respite from the "usual annual glut of mainstream news stories that crop up this time of year". Enjoy!