Tuesday, February 22, 2005

requiescat in pacem

Hunter S. Thompson took his own life Sunday, with a gunshot to the head.
. I read a bunch of blog responses to his death last night and they left me depressed. Fifteen years ago or so I decided to pray every day for HST, and I regret to say that after staying reasonably faithful to my decision for about a year I let it fall by the wayside. I thought at that time that he was a man of intelligence and heart (yes) trapped by his reputation. His fans were so adoring that the man would have had a terrible uphill battle with his ego if he were ever to drop his wild man mask and reveal the inner Hunter.

A tragedy, all the more so for its failing to be recognized as such. True to form, his fans continue the worship of him in death. His suicide is being hailed as the most fitting end possible. "What else did you expect?" one blogger wrote. "The man was gonzo to the end."

Perhaps I can manage to be faithful to prayer for him now.

Disgusted with myself, Rae

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ellen Goodman gets it. She really, really gets it.

I can think of no better indicator that ignorance about religious faith is waning than Ellen Goodman's article yesterday on Women's Rights in a Shi'ite Iraq.

I cannot imagine her writing this five years ago:
Until now, the discussion about the future of Iraqi women has been framed as a conflict between secular and religious camps. For the most part, advocates of women's rights talked in a secular voice, while opponents talked in religious tones.

In the wake of this election, the struggle over the status of Iraqi mothers, wives, and daughters may well have to shift to religious grounds.

When you use the word ''sharia" and talk about the Islamic code, most Americans assume there is a single set of laws to be lifted and applied like a reactionary grid over every country that calls itself Islamic. But scholars describe something quite different: a rich set of moral principles and varied, evolving laws.

Sharia may literally mean ''the path to God," but the legal cobblestones are different in nearly every Muslim country and subculture. Nations as progressive on women's roles as Tunisia and as repressive as Saudi Arabia both defend their family laws as sharia.

Not surprisingly, the Koran is as open to debate and interpretation as the Bible. Elora Shehabuddin at Harvard Divinity School compares it to the movement to abolish slavery: ''Two groups read the same text and came up with different interpretations." So too, she says, ''One can argue that the spirit of Islam is justice for everyone. Or one can argue that men should be superior and that's the end of it."

On the matter of polygamy, for example, one passage in the Koran seems to allow men to take four wives as long as they treat them equally. But another passage describes the impossibility of treating these wives equally. So the Tunisian reading of the Koran outlaws polygamy while in Saudi Arabia, polygamy is a man's prerogative. In some Muslim countries, polygamy is even grounds for divorce.

The laws of sharia vary as well on modesty -- a long-sleeve blouse or a burka. They even vary on inheritance. The once-liberal laws that gave daughters half the inheritance of sons have been modified and equalized in some countries, but not in others. And if the Saudis find a reason in the 1,400-year-old Koran to ban women from driving automobiles, other countries scoff at this reading.

If politics hinges on religion, religion is also political.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Perfesser Creekwater at Sacred Grounds Coffee House

Perfesser Creekwater, aka my brother Mark D'Orazio, aka A HOME*LESS BY CHOICE WORD*SMITH, has been doing his poetry at the Sacred Grounds Coffee House in San Francisco.
Meet the perfesser and read two of his poems. He did the bagel poem at the coffee house here in Newark, DE one time when we both read our work. Each person got two poems to do. I did my two, it was great fun. The perfesser did the bagel poem, saying he was going to keep doing it until this particular place opened up the dumpster again so folks could get the excess bagels.

Then it was time for his second poem.

He did the bagel poem again...

Mark's book A GUITAR IN SAGGITARIUS is a wonderful chronicle of the life of a wandering, homeless poet in the late twentieth-early twenty-first century America, full of both artistry and sharp political commentary. I wish I could find a big house publisher for it.

I love my brother Mark. I'd like to tell you how he gave away his modest five-figure share of our mother's estate to a well-deserving recipient... but that would probably make him blush.



Sunday, February 13, 2005

Kill Bill

I finally saw Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2. For the longest time I had no interest in seeing the movies at all. The reviewer for the NCCB rated it O, Morally Offensive, and while I've often enjoyed movies rated O, I am one of those who gets irritated at Quentin Tarantino at the drop of a hat. I thought that it was quite a squandering of talent to make a movie whose theme was revenge and whose title says it all.

But I have to admit, I enjoyed both volumes very much. Tarantino is a darned good moviemaker, he makes movies like George Lucas used to make. This was pulp fiction at its best, better than his own Pulp Fiction. Uma Thurman was amazingly assured and athletic as the samurai assassin turned blood-splattered Bride. My son Ish tells me that an authentic samurai sword like the one the Sonny Chiba character made her would cost $100,000 or more, and that they are banned in Japan in an attempt to eliminate samurai once and for all.

Every time the Bride took on one of her fellow female viper assassins, I wanted to yell out "cat fight" like in that Seinfeld episode. But as with the fights between Buffy and Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I too like the spectacle of women fighting.

I can't find anything sacred in it but I can't find anything profane either. What is it about fake violence that is attractive? Real violence is horrible, and I hate realistic violence in movies. But comic book violence - oh yeah, I love it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


My heart hurts. H., whose shooting star friendship blazed across about 18 months of our mutual lives until the &%$#% November election, walked into the Media Center today. It is the first day of the Spring semester. She will need to come here from time to time to get video materials.

Will it ever not hurt to see her unexpectedly? It added such joy to my day to have a real friend at work -- the kind that sneaks into your heart, the kind that makes you feel like a little girl again at school -- as had not happened in 15 years or so. Some times on Friday afternoons when she was finished teaching her classes for the week, we'd go out for lunch and wind up playing hookey. Lunch, then coffee, then hot fudge sundaes, and finally a trip to Rainbow Books and Records the best used book store in New Castle County or maybe all of Delaware. I remember calling my boss Tom up on one of those Fridays, an April afternoon so glorious with spring air and clear sunlight that it made you want to cry, and said I was out for the day, kidnapped by H., just couldn't come back.

It was the sweetest friendship I had known in years. It came out of nowhere, and ended all of a sudden due to political differences. Having met my husband when I was 16 years old, I'd never been dumped. Until middle age.

What makes this on-topic is that every time my heart twinges, I wonder if this is how Jesus feels in his human heart when he thinks of folks who have entered into wild, wonderful relationships with him at some point in time and then later dumped him. Does he miss them? Want them back? Remember the laughter and the joy? I think so -- I remember once reading an essay by some saint who related our common (even embarrassing) human experience of unrequited love with the experience of God made man.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ah, PLATO we hardly knew you...

Gordon, you'll appreciate this one.

A new idea! Educational games!

My son David sent me that link with a question, "Didn't PLATO do this 25 years ago?" I told him I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. When I think of the PLATO online community, I get all choked up. It was the Internet before the Internet... and without ads. I've been watching people announcing the invention of the wheel for years now... this is just the latest.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

when are you going to die?

Barbara Nicolosi always has these fun quizzes to take that she posts on her blog. She posted a quiz to take to see what age you'll be when you die. I took it and below are my results. I found that a little shocking, as my mom and grandmom both lived into their 80's. And I'm exercising and everything now!

I am going to die at 78. When are you? Click here to find out!