01/31/2008, 2:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

YermaFederico Garcí­a Lorca was a Spanish author who lived from 1898 until 1936, when he was executed by members of the Nationalist party for reasons that may have included his political affiliations, his homosexuality, and the content of his works. Although this beginning may sound a little bit (okay, a LOT) similar to a poorly written biographical piece (read: Wikipedia article), it’s not really what I’m on about. I think that to understand the play Yerma, one needs a bit of background knowledge on the struggle and unpopularity of its author.

Yerma takes place in rural Spain at the turn of the last century, and focuses on the struggles of its titular character whose name means, quite literally, “barren land.” Yerma is married to Juan, a farmer, and encounters many townspeople (never given names more specific than “First Girl” or “Second Sister-in-law”), as well as a few other central characters: Víctor, Marí­a, the Old Woman, and Dolores.

The plot hinges on a single, bitter fact: Yerma has no children. In a day where a woman’s purpose in life stemmed from her role in the home raising her children, she is inútil, useless, and nothing that she can say or do for Juan gets through to him. Her desperation is markedly worse every time we encounter her, causing her to hallucinate sounds or smells, to refuse to speak to her sisters-in-law who come to stay with her family, or to sneak out of her home at night to meet Dolores, a woman of reputed spiritual/magical skill.

Without giving away the end of the play, I wanted to share this beautiful peace of prose-poetry-drama with any Bweinh! readers who enjoy gems of literature. The play is, in my opinion, one of the best I have read in my lifetime for a few reasons.

Continued here!

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Board Games (#2)

01/31/2008, 9:30 am -- by | No Comments

Today’s Ask Bweinh! poll is sponsored by Nintendo! It’s our second list of board games, and this time there’s a new leader!

Rank Game Points
1. Settlers of Catan 18
2. Scrabble 16
3. Cranium 15
4-5 (tie) Apples to Apples; Monopoly 12
6. Dictionary/Balderdash 8
7. Risk 6
8-11 (tie) Life; Parcheesi; Candy Land; Snakes (or Chutes) & Ladders 5
Other Age of Mythology; Trivial Pursuit; Chess; Wise and Otherwise; Encore; Stratego; Bethump’d; Clue; Aggravation; Oligopoly 1-4


Quote of the Day, 1/31/08

01/31/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.” — A. Lincoln

Bweinh! Goes to the Movies: Rambo

01/30/2008, 11:50 pm -- by | 5 Comments

I’ll tell you one thing — Rambo is by no means Sylvester Stallone in the feel-good picture of the year. But he has his moments.

The story revolves around sexagenarian John Rambo and a squad of mercenaries who rescue missionaries from the evil clutches of a brutal, dictatorial, oppressive, homosexual, Southeast Asian general and his raping, pillaging, murderous goon-filled death squads. Overall, the plot itself is fairly standard for 1980s-level action films, just with a higher production value.

Rambo himself is as murderous a killing machine as he is inventive, eliminating enemy soldiers with knives, bows and arrows, pistols, truck-mounted machine guns, and even by attaching a Claymore to an unexploded WWII British bomb. Oh, and he also rips out a man’s throat. Wicked. But it’s all for a good reason, so he’s kind of a nice guy at heart, you know?

Other characters lack depth (unlike the ever-multifaceted Rambo’s two sides — kill and slur). The missionaries are presented as pigheadedly bent on complete nonviolence as they infiltrate the border of a war zone for “the greater good.” The mercenaries are completely off the handle, screaming and swearing at Rambo, one another, trees, boats, rain, missionaries, enemy soldiers… in this movie, just about anything that can be screamed or sworn at is.

The death squads are believably evil, but why Stallone chose to include a scene of a young boy’s private late-night visit to the general is beyond me. I mean, seriously. We just watched this guy order a village hacked to bits and pieces, we get that he’s kind of a bad dude. Why add that he’s also into little boys? Is genocide not bad enough? Will American audiences think, “I still see the good in that man, even past his 1970s sunglasses and creepy mustache — but now that they’re implying he’s gay, I think he deserved to be hacked in half with a machete by John J. Rambo.”

The action scenes at the end of the movie were intense, too intense. I had no clue who was killing whom or why, except when the head missionary avenged all the others by bashing a soldier’s head in with a rock. Very Cain and Abel-esque.

Overall, I don’t think anyone should be exposed to the violence of Rambo, but I’m not going to lie to you. I enjoyed it.

Yo, Adrian!!!

I ♥ Grocery Shopping

01/30/2008, 8:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

The other day, a friend of mine was talking about “retail therapy,” which means going on a shopping spree until unhappy feelings go away. I declared that I was going to do that on Friday, and she said, “Ooh, where are you going?”

“Um. . . Wegmans,” I answered sheepishly.

“I don’t think grocery shopping counts,” she answered, but I still think it does.

I have never in my entire life been so excited to go grocery shopping. I made a list in class today of all the things I intend to buy. It was two pages long, and included such things as “cheeses” (you can never have enough cheese, and only one kind won’t do) and “ingredients for cookies,” which means any possible ingredient for cookies I could conceivably imagine in my wildest sugar-deprived dreams.

I’m ecstatic about the culinary delights that lie before me. My grandmother’s best dishes, my childhood favorites, my church’s famous potluck inventions…even a top secret recipe from Germany, for which I promised my firstborn son and daughter. Believe me, it was worth it. It was a cookie recipe.

I never thought I’d be thinking day and night about all the things I could buy at the grocery store, as if it were a stationery shop or shoe outlet. Those of you who have been college students may understand. Those of you who have been poor will understand even more. And those of you who have been both — you’ll know exactly how I feel.

But if you have never been any of the above, try spending $20 on groceries for a month and see how you feel afterwards. Suddenly the grocery store will look to you like Toys-R-Us looks to kids, a week before Christmas.

Battle of the Bands XLIII

01/30/2008, 12:30 pm -- by | No Comments

Here are the next batch of band names from Luke (Through the Roof moves on!)


Bible Discussion — Luke 6

01/30/2008, 12:30 pm -- by | No Comments

This week, looks at the next chapter of Luke, Luke 6.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: 1:1-38 | 1:39-2:40 | 2:41-3:38 | 4 | 5

Jesus’ sermon in this chapter will never cease to be countercultural, because at every turn it challenges the default setting of humanity, to seek selfishness and success.

In the last chapter, Jesus scolded the people for trying to mix New Covenant and Old Covenant concepts in their question about fasting, likening it to placing new wine in old skins. Now He begins to use His teaching to turn the Jewish religion upside down, overturning their ideas about the Sabbath, wealth, popularity, judgment, mercy and what constitutes real righteousness.

After leaving the guy with the splinter alone, and pulling the beam out of my own eye, I am actually allowed to go back and say “OK, now about that splinter:”

Before Jesus chose the twelve disciples, He spent an entire night praying. Talk about careful consideration! And yet, all of these men were flawed, said and did things that were less-than-upbuilding to Jesus or His ministry (Peter, etc.), and often seemed so dense when Jesus spoke to them that it is hard to understand why He chose them to be His “inner circle” of followers.

Jesus is talking to people from Judea and Jerusalem, which means He’s talking mostly to Jews. And yet He says, “For that is how their fathers treated the prophets,” ‘their’ referring to the ones who persecute ‘you.’ Already the believers have been set apart from the rest of the Jewish nation.

I hadn’t noticed what Chloe just said until I read this discussion, so I’m going with that.

Josh: Blind Guide
David: Plankeye
Erin: Simon Called Peter
Chloe: False Prophets
Steve: Bramble Bush

Continued here!

Joke of the Day, 1/30/08

01/30/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

A drunk man sat down on the subway, next to a priest. He opened a newspaper and began reading. After a few minutes the man turned to the priest and asked, “Say, Father, what causes arthritis?”

“It’s caused by loose living, wicked women, alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man.”

“Wow, you don’t say,” the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.

The priest thought for a minute, then nudged the drunk man.

“I’m very sorry, I didn’t mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?”

“Oh, I don’t, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does.”

Clash of the Titans LXV: Surveillance Cameras

01/29/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | 7 Comments

In this corner, supporting public surveillance cameras, is Connie!

And in this corner, opposing their use, is Mike!

June 2, 2007 — Kelsey Smith, 18, was abducted and strangled by Edwin Roy “Jack” Hall, outside a store where she had purchased a present for her boyfriend. Hall’s identity and apprehension was aided by the store’s use of security cameras. On his MySpace page, “Jack” called himself a “Sweet Troubled Soul,” interested in “eating small children and harming small animals.” Prosecutors are considering the death penalty.

February 1, 2004 — Carlie Jane Brucia, 11, was returning from a sleepover when she cut through a car wash. There she was led away by a man, never to be seen alive again. The camera at the car wash showed a man in a uniform shirt approaching Carlie, talking to her, and then leading her away. NASA assisted by enhancing the image, and the FBI helped find Brucia and her abductor. Police arrested Joseph P. Smith, who had been arrested at least 13 times in 11 years, and had been previously charged with kidnapping. Carlie’s family described her as a beautiful young girl who loved her cat named Charlie and enjoyed time with her friends.

February 12, 1993 — Jamie Bulger, 2, was kidnapped from a mall in Liverpool, England, by two 10-year-old boys, who then took him for a long walk which ended with them senselessly beating him to death and tying him to train tracks. The boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, had been stealing things all day at the mall. Caught on CCTV with James, the boys were convicted of his abduction and murder.

May 30, 2005 — Natalee Holloway, 18, disappeared while on a post-graduation senior trip in Aruba. She was last seen leaving a popular nightclub with three young men — Joran van der Sloot, Deepak Kalpoe, and Satish Kalpoe. All three men were arrested but released, and there was no security tape available of her on the island. Her family and friends hold out hope for a miracle, and her mother travels to churches, sharing her testimony of God’s strength and presence in her life, despite these devastating circumstances.

I could have listed numerous cases of missing kids where cameras could have provided some needed answers and valuable closure. I personally believe that when you are in public, you and your actions are public property.

The argument in favor of surveillance cameras is a touching one. How many crimes against innocents — especially children — could be prevented? Isn’t saving a life — just one life — worth any qualms we might have over privacy issues?

Of course, exactly the same argument could be raised for banning McDonald’s. Many more people die from the results of overeating than are murdered each year. Shouldn’t our government be concerned with this? Isn’t saving lives the point?

While people who feel this way (including my worthy adversary) are to be commended for their humanitarian spirit, I don’t understand the role of government in this way. Government doesn’t exist to save the lives of its citizens, it exists to preserve the rights of its citizens without which freedom is a hollow word.

The genius of the seminal documents of our nation is that they recognize the dangers of totalitarianism: give all the power to the state and watch the state misuse it. The right to privacy implied in the Constitution provides an important safeguard against this.

I may occasionally choose to give up my right to privacy. With a club card, I allow the grocery store to know what I purchase in return for discounts. I allow cookies on my computer in order to use internet services I enjoy.

I am willing to compromise my right to privacy in extraordinary circumstances, or simply for something special I enjoy. But I am unwilling to compromise my right to privacy simply to walk around town or use the subway.

Does that mean that occasionally people will violate the rights of others, even the sacred right to life? Yes, of course, and those people should be punished appropriately. But violating the basic rights of all to protect against a few predators is simply unacceptable.


Snow on Snow

01/29/2008, 10:00 am -- by | 1 Comment

SnowflakePerhaps you’ve heard of Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, a Vermont farmer, turned amateur photographer, turned amateur scientist, turned mild sensation. In the early 1900s, Bentley used his 5,000+ collection of snowflake photographs to prove in a series of articles in National Geographic that no two snowflakes are exactly the same.

This sparked a romantic intrigue in readers and scientists alike, and his assertion was later proven true — that no matter how hard storms may precipitate, blanketing the vast acres of land in Siberia, Alaska, Tibet or Vermont, no snowflake will ever have an exact duplicate.

This is a compelling idea to consider as we step on, shovel through and wipe from our windshield the relentless number of snowflakes that visit us each year. I was recently indulging in this mind-expanding exercise while I watched it snow steadily, in weather warm enough that it was also melting and dripping off the roof in a reflection-inducing rhythm. Once perfectly unique crystals, now joined with others in a similar globular fate, speeding their melted way to form a drop falling off an eave. Never documented, never looked at, and never to be seen again.

The intricacy of a snowflake’s formation is too intense to ever truly comprehend, but its fragility pounded home to a level this human could master. I thought of a fetus — how at its very conception, it is immediately distinct, unique, exclusive and unrepeatable. Fetus But unlike a snowflake, it is not made by the chance encounter of high and low pressure systems, but rather the massive chemistry of human biology, emotion and decision.

And unlike a snowflake a fetus is not meant to quickly melt but rather grow, breathe, emote, possess fingerprints, and wrinkle. Despite its small size, a fetus — like a seed — carries the complexity to burst out, to mature into something astonishingly more. In fact, this is its very design, inexorable and compulsory.

But perhaps a fetus is most unlike a snowflake because one snowflake doesn’t require others to see it through to maturation.

And perhaps they are most similar in that all snowflakes — and all fetuses — have the same end together, in the ground.

Quote of the Day, 1/29/08

01/29/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” — G.K. Chesterton

9/11 “Truth”

01/28/2008, 2:15 pm -- by | 8 Comments

I like people of every political stripe. We might disagree on every issue, but I can almost always understand where they’re coming from. I can’t support abortion, or breaking our alliance with Israel, or Obama’s foreign policy, but I can see why you might. We can certainly still be friends.

So if you want to lose the right to engage in rational discussion with me, there are only a few positions you can take. You can be explicitly sexist or racist, and tell me that one group of people is inherently superior to the rest. You can demand I convert to your religion on pain of death, threatening the future of my country and my faith.

Or you can tell me with a straight face that our government was involved in the attacks of September 11. Do that, and I will gladly defend your near-absolute right to say such things under our Constitution. But I will never again respect you.

Chloe had never been to New York City before, so we came across on the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. We walked around admiring the architecture, and I pointed us up toward where the Twin Towers had stood.

As we neared the PATH station, I heard a man screaming. Behind him were banners for the despicably misnamed “9/11 truth movement,” encouraging passers-by to explore the many “unanswered questions” behind the attacks. As we moved toward the temporary memorial, stark columns of the names of the departed, rage welled up inside me. How dare he.

I was compelled to confront him. In a loud voice I let him know he was a disgrace to his nation, and to the men and women killed on the ground where he stood and spread his despicable filth.

His voice dropped immediately, to a soothing tone, as he had been programmed. “I totally understand your negative reaction. I mean, people died here, and it was a terrible thing. So if you want to have a conversation, let’s have a conversation, but I don’t want to yell.”

I did. “Do you actually believe this crap? How were you brainwashed into believing that a government that can’t keep anything a secret from the New York Times could not only be responsible for the deaths of thousands of US citizens, but that everyone responsible would keep it a secret for the past six years?”

“I was there, in the room, when the 9/11 Commission Report was written –”

“What do you mean, you were there when it was written; it’s a huge document!”

Chloe pressed him on why he thought it was right to do this at the site of the attacks, where families and friends of the victims would have to hear.

“Relevance,” he answered. “Here, people don’t have to be reminded of what 9/11 was all about, they can see it for themselves. And I was there, with the victim’s families, when President Bush and Dick Cheney came to testify before Congress, and that’s where this movement came out of, the victim’s families, they started this –”

“No!,” I yelled. “The President never testified before Congress. And this wasn’t started by the victim’s families; it was started by lunatics on the far right and left who think government conspiracies are responsible for everything bad in the world!”

“Can I ask you a question?,” he said. “What would you do if this” — he brandished his flyer — “were true?”

“I’m not going to answer that question; it’s irrelevant. I know it’s not true.”

“No, just answer the question! What would you do if this were true?”

“Well, what would you do if I were a unicorn?? Would you get on my back and ride me?”

He started to go on, but Chloe interrupted. “Answer his question! Would you get on his back and ride him?”

“I’m a unicorn!,” I yelled, bending over and trumpeting loudly, for the benefit of his gathering crowd of supporters, probably hoping I would decide it was time to back up my words with violent action.

He pressed on, God bless him. “I’ve read the books, I’ve watched the movies, and I’ve done the research, and I’m telling you that this is the truth.”

I turned to Chloe. “Ohhhh, never mind. This guy’s read books! I’m convinced! He must be right!”

He started in again, but Chloe interrupted and told him we had to catch the next ferry. As we walked away, we didn’t hear him yelling anymore, so I wonder if he took a break and let someone else catch the flak for a while. I was just disappointed to see small groups of people huddled around their propaganda posters.

Now don’t you dare tell me I didn’t listen to this guy. I DIDN’T NEED TO. I’ve read all of his crappy, illogical, paranoid arguments before, a hundred times, and I know that they’re all wrong. I’m not afraid of what he had to say either; I’m just deeply disturbed that some people are actually foolish enough to believe it.

It takes a special breed of deluded half-wit to look at the events of September 11 and conclude not only that our own government made a conscious choice to slaughter its own people, but that it was then competent enough to hide that from the world forever, except for the heroic efforts of a few who dare to tell the world the “truth.”

It is illogical, it is immoral, it is incomprehensible, and it is evil. And though I agree that he had the right to stand in that hallowed ground and spew his lies, I would sooner repeat them myself than let them go unchallenged.

The Council’s Ruling — Old Age

01/28/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — At what age is a person old?

Josh delivers the ruling of the council, joined by Chloe, Erin, Tom, and MC-B:

65. It’s time to retire, and it’s pretty impossible to still look young at that point.


MC-B concurs, joined by Connie and Djere:

With people living longer, one has to be at least 65 to be considered truly old and not just over the hill.


David dissents:

Everyone knows that you can’t trust anyone over 30. 40? 50? 60? Who cares? They’re just extensions of 30.


Job dissents:

50 is old and the age at which the reader of an obituary doesn’t wonder what caused the death.


Steve dissents:

70. Average life expectancy is 78 now, and these days, it’s only during the last 10% of your life that you’re truly old.


Mike played no part in the determination of this issue.

Next time: Is a white lie always wrong?

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Sports (#2)

01/28/2008, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

In today’s Ask Bweinh! poll, we return to the question of favorite sports, sponsored by AAMCO, who reminds you to be safe — trust the Midas touch.

Rank Sports Points
1. Football 27
2. Basketball 22
3. Baseball 20
4. Soccer 18
5. Hockey 12
6. Volleyball 8
6-7 (tie) Racquetball; Jai Alai 5
8-10 (tie) Golf; Tennis; Kayaking 3
Other Bullriding; Badminton; Kites; Pitch; MIFFLE (Midget Indoor Flag Football League); Bowling; Skiing; Dodgeball 1-2


Joke of the Day, 1/28/08

01/28/2008, 7:00 am -- by | 4 Comments

When is a hamburger not a hamburger?

When it turns into a big, angry gorilla!

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