Anglican Update…

There are a couple of good editorials out there today for those interested in the Anglican communion.

The first one (subtitled “The Diocese Is Attacking the Faithful”) is about the current situation in Virginia. It has a lot of good background information about the case, if you’re not familiar with it:

It’s a sad day for Christendom when a national church attacks faithful Christians instead of encouraging them in the faith. Typically, churches attack the sins of this world and offer solutions to the world’s problems.

Yet this is the situation that 11 Anglican churches find themselves in since the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church attacked us with lawsuits.

Read all about it here.

The second is from the Church of England newspaper, and it paints a bleak picture of Britain’s spiritual future:

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

Read all about it here.

Today’s Pictures…

Wow – there are some cool pictures out today!

The first is a picture of NASA’s Phoenix Lander in its decent to the Martian surface, as taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:

Phoenix Lander

The second picture is of a rare portrait of Elizabeth I as a young girl. According to this article from the BBC,  the portrait was “found in the Duke of Buccleuch’s collection at Boughton House”, and was painted between 1650 and 1680, after a (now lost) original dating to the 1550s. Prior to this find, there were only two known portraits of the Queen as a young girl; now the world has three. Elizabeth is to the far right in this picture, flanked by her father, her brother, and sister (click to enlarge):

Young Elizabeth I Portrait

And lastly, enjoy another beautiful picture of Amy Winehouse:

Amy Winehouse: crazy

That’s Just Gross!

In case you haven’t heard, famous record producer Mutt Lange has left his wife of 14 years… Shania Twain. Here’s a picture of the homewrecker – Marie-Anne Thiebaud – standing next to Shania:

Shania Twain Affair

Amazingly, Shania is the older one in this picture. She is 42, while the nasty hussy that broke up her marriage claims to be 37. Hell, she looks old enough to be Shania’s mother.

I myself am 37, and am old enough to know how much truth there is in the old saying “no matter how good looking she is, someone somewhere is sick of her shit”. Perhaps Shania is a giant pain in the ass. Maybe she’s needy or just plain crazy. Maybe that Swiss woman understands Mutt in a way that Shania doesn’t. I don’t know. But still… what the hell, dude? Don’t you know that you’re supposed to trade up, not down?

Forgotten Shows: American Gothic

TV networks cancel shows all the time. In many cases, it’s because the shows simply aren’t very good. Sometimes it’s because of politics: a network like Fox, for example, might cancel a show made by Universal to make room for a show made by 20th Century Fox (thus, keeping the profits “in the company”). Sometimes they’ll ditch a show (or bunch of shows) simply because they’re “changing their image”. Sometimes, though, networks just don’t know a good thing when they see it. They’ll order a show, and when the show underperforms, they’ll move it around the schedule or hassle the show’s writers into making changes. And sometimes, they’ll simply let a show die.

This is the case with American Gothic, a show that debuted on CBS in 1995. Set in the fictional town of Trinity, South Carolina, the show is the story of Lucas Buck (Gary Cole), an evil small town sheriff with a twist: he’s actually evil. The show never comes right out and says that Lucas Buck is the Devil, or a demon, or simply a human being that sold his soul to Satan for complete control over a small Southern town. But the effect is the same: Buck knows everything that happens in Trinity. He sometimes even knows what’s going to happen in advance (which is especially handy if you’re a corrupt law enforcement officer, no?). He can convince people into doing things simply by looking deep into their eyes. He can touch things and see events in the past. And since he knows everything about everybody, he’s able to help the townspeople in their more mundane affairs (like lending them money or settling neighborhood disputes). This creates an unknowing army of loaylists in the town. Lucas Buck, it seems, has everything all wrapped up.

But not quite. A few years ago, Buck raped a local woman, which led to the birth of his (as yet unacknowledged) son, Caleb Temple. Caleb’s mother to committed suicide shortly after Caleb was born, and as the show begins, we see Caleb’s father (Gage Temple, played by Sonny Shroyer – Enos from Dukes of Hazzard!) commit “suicide” under suspicious circumstances. Caleb’s older sister – Merlyn, played by Sarah Paulson of Deadwood and Studio 60 fame – witnessed the rape and had been a basket case ever since, spending her time rocking back and forth in a chair saying “someone’s at the door” over and over again. When Sheriff Buck goes to the Temple house to “reclaim” Caleb as his son after Gage’s suicide, Buck breaks Merlyn’s neck, causing her instant death. Later on, Caleb is sent to the local hospital for “observation” while the authorities figure out what to do with him now that his entire family is dead. While there, Merlyn’s ghost comes to him and begs him to leave:

American Gothic

Caleb then goes on the run from Sheriff Buck. As Caleb is only around 10 years old, his options are limited. However, Caleb is not alone. Former Trinity resident Gail Emory (Paige Turco), a “big city” reporter from Charleston, arrives back in town to learn more about the mysterious death of her parents (who ran the local newspaper and opposed Sheriff Buck on many occasions, only to die in a mysterious fire). Emory is joined by Dr. Matt Crower (Jake Weber), a “Yankee doctor” that’s new to Trinity. Emory, Crower and Merlyn’s ghost take Caleb under their wings, and do everything they can to keep Caleb away from Sheriff Buck.

The show, then, is a classic battle of “Good vs. Evil”, with a lot of supernatural elements thrown in for good measure. Although some of the special effects seem dated at this point, it’s the storytelling aspects of the show that make American Gothic so great. Although the heart of the story is about Lucas and Caleb, there are also a lot of small town regulars thrown in, giving the show a bit of a Twin Peaks feel. The producers of the show also get points for filming much of the series on location in South Carolina; you’ll often see tobacco plants and peach trees in the background instead of the mountains and deserts of California you so often see in other series.

And those of you that only know Gary Cole for his comedy roles in Office Space, Talladega Nights and the Brady Bunch films are in for a real treat: Cole’s Lucas Buck character is very well played. He’s “subtly evil”. There’s nothing about Buck that’s not human, or blatantly evil. There’s just something about him that gives you the willies and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Caleb Temple: I hate you!
Sheriff Buck: And someday, we’ll make that hate work for you.

And if I still haven’t interested you yet, take a look at the show’s pedigree: it was developed and produced by Shawn Cassidy (yes, the former teen heartthrob; he also produced the ABC show Invasion). Sam Raimi (the Spiderman films) and David Eick (Battlestar Galactica) also produced the series. So it’s got the deets.

The series is available from Netflix and can also be purchased from Amazon here.

Condé Nast buys Ars Technica

The news hit the Internet on Saturday, so I’m a bit late with this… but I just thought I’d mention that Condé Nast’s WIRED digital division has purchased Ars Technica, one of my all-time favorite web sites, for an undisclosed sum (guesstimated to be around $25 million).

I’ve been a member of Ars for 9 years now (can that be right?) and was terrified for the past couple of days at what might happen to the “little tech site that could”. Thankfully, Ken Fisher – the genius behind Ars – has written this post, which says that Ars will not change at bit, except to greatly expand its base. Instead of a handful of writers, Ars will now have a couple dozen, and the site will soon be opening offices in Chicago and San Francisco. Ken will be staying on as “Caesar”, so I’m sure that Ars will remain the site I know and love… only bigger and better!

It makes me all giddy inside. I’ve met half of the Ars staff over the years (Hi Jade!) and I feel like I know them personally. To me, they aren’t nameless faces running a website… they’re my friends! And so, I’ll just say this:


Classical Babes!

If you think of “fat women in Viking hats” when you hear the phrase “women in classical music”, you’re behind the times, my friend! There are tons of beautiful women in classical music today… here’s just a few:

Anne Sophie Mutter

Anne Sophie Mutter
(German violinist)

Helene Grimaud

Helene Grimaud
(French pianist)

Cecilia Bartoli

Cecilia Bartoli
(Italian mezzo-soprano)

Caroline Dale

Caroline Dale
(English cellist)

I used to have a huge crush on Anne Sophie Mutter. I was searching for something on Wikipedia last week when I stumbled across her picture and thought “Wow – ya know, she really is good looking”. So I dug up a few pictures of other “classical hotties” and thought I’d post them for your enjoyment. In doing so, I found Beauty in Music – a site dedicated to all the beautiful women that make classical music. It’s a fun site – if you get a few minutes, you should check it out!


Lisa and I stopped by the Harris Teeter the other day to pick up a few sale items. Imagine my surprise when I walked down the snack aisle and saw these:

Utz chips
The food of the gods!

Yes, Virginia… Utz Chips are now available in the Charlotte area!

They’ve been available in the Raleigh area for years now; I emailed the company a couple of years back and asked them when\if they were ever going to sell them in Charlotte. A nice lady replied that they were “working on a deal” but had no idea when it would happen. I guess the “deal” did finally go through… and now I can get my Utz Crab Chip jones on any time I want! And no, the crab chips don’t taste like crab; they’re seasoned with something similar to Old Bay, which is often used to season crab dishes in the Maryland\DC area.

Oh – and “Grandma Utz’s” chips are handcooked in lard! Healthy? No! Delicious? YES!