"I'm felling your tree. Your time is up." - Death

Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman died at home today at the age of 89.

Though many of his 50+ films were admittedly lost on me, Sjunde inseglet, Det (The Seventh Seal (1957)) is hands down my all-time favorite movie.

Many have asked me where my fascination with the crusades may have started, and I honestly don't know for certain, but it may very well have been with this film. Antonius Block (played by Max von Sydow) is a crusader (from his garb (black with a white crusader's cross), it looks like he may have been a Hospitaller) returned home to Sweden after 10 years of fighting in the Holy Land. When he arrives he finds his homeland in the grip of the plague which kills young and old, firm and infirm indiscriminately. Death approaches him very early on in the film to claim his life, but Block isn't ready to go just yet. ("My body is ready, but I am not.") He wants to do something meaningful and important before he dies, and has some questions concerning the existence of god that he wants answered before he's ready to kip over. He wants proof. He wants answers. He wants to know, why? What's the point?

"Is it so terribly inconceivable to comprehend God with one's senses? Why does he hide in a cloud of half-promises and unseen miracles? How can we believe in the faithful when we lack faith? What will happen to us who want to believe, but can not? What about those who neither want to nor can believe? Why can't I kill God in me? Why does He live on in me in a humiliating way - despite my wanting to evict Him from my heart? Why is He, despite all, a mocking reality I can't be rid of?" - Antonius Block

He challenges Death to a game of chess to buy some time to find answers to his questions.

"You drew black" - Antonius Block
"Appropriate, don't you think?" - Death

Everywhere he turns, he finds no answer but Death. In one scene he goes to confession. He believes he is confessing to a priest, but the audience can see it is Death facing away from the confessional screen so Block cannot see his face and will talk freely.

Block - "My whole life has been a meaningless search. I say it without bitterness or self-reproach. I know it is the same for all. But I want to use my respite for one significant action."

Death (disguised as a priest to find out Block's strategy in their game of chess) - "So you play chess with Death?"

Block - "He is a skillful tactician, but I have not yet lost one piece."

Death - "How can you outwit Death?"

Block - "By a combination of bishop and knight. I will break his flank."

[The "priest" turns to face Block through the screen.]

Death - "I shall remember that."

Block - "Traitor! You have tricked me! But I'll find a way out."
He ends up giving up a key piece which will cost him the game. He does this purposefully, a calculated move to distract Death from taking a young family, kind and simple in their faith. Death takes him in their place, and Block dies, none of his questions answered. But he has arguably made the"one significant action" he'd confessed to the "priest" he wanted to accomplish before he died, though he and he alone dies knowing what it was. He sacrificed himself and his quest for proof and answers in order to save a young kind family.

"Mia! I see them, Mia! I see them! Over there against the stormy sky. They are all there. The smith and Lisa, the knight, Raval, Jöns, and Skat. And the strict master Death bids them dance. He wants them to hold hands and to tread the dance in a long line. At the head goes the strict master with the scythe and hourglass. But the Fool brings up the rear with his lute. They move away from the dawn in a solemn dance away towards the dark lands while the rain cleanses their cheeks of the salt from their bitter tears." - Jof

Thank you for producing the most striking, thought-provoking film I've ever seen, Mr Bergman. You'll never be forgotten.



I wrote a few days ago about how (much more) dismayed I am with Indiana regarding how the "crossroads state," the one with the least Lake Michigan coastline, I might add, is allowing BP to dump more toxic crap into Lake Michigan in exchange for 80 freaking jobs.


Did I mention of the states bordering Lake Michigan, Indiana has the least amount of coastline? Yeah. 45 miles versus Illinois' 63 miles versus Wisconsin's 300 miles versus Michigan's 1,058 miles.

SELFISH idiots!

Apparently, (not to mention thankfully!!!) I'm not alone in my concerns. This just arrived in my inbox from Congressman Rahm Emmanuel.

"Together, we have made real progress to clean up the Great Lakes. From steps to curb invasive species like the Asian Carp barrier, to plans for funding ongoing preservation measures, and cracking down on polluters, we have made measurable strides in improving the health of the Great Lakes.

"That is why I am alarmed by the recent decision of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to allow BP's Whiting, Indiana facility to increase the amount of ammonia and sludge it dumps into Lake Michigan. This permit would allow BP to pour an average every day of 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of "sludge" into Lake Michigan.

"On behalf all of us who depend on Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes for drinking water, recreation, and quality of life, I have been working with members of Congress from both parties from the Great Lakes delegation to stand up to the EPA and to BP. We are urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency to call a halt on Indiana’s permit until studies conclude that the additional ammonia and sludge will not degrade Great Lakes water quality.

"Additionally, Senator Durbin and I have written to BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward to urge him to reconsider his company’s policy of upping the pollutants it dumps into our Great Lakes.

"Last week, I also introduced a bipartisan resolution, H.Con.Res.187, that expresses the sense of the U.S. Congress that BP’s dumping plans should not go forward, and to rededicate our government to protecting and preserving the overall health of the Great Lakes. Today, the House of Representatives will vote on our resolution.

"In 2004, President Bush said "the Great Lakes are a national treasure," and I wholeheartedly agree. With your help, I will keep the pressure on to prevent any other practice that jeopardizes the Great Lakes. If you would like more information on efforts regarding BP’s dumping plan, visit http://chicagoparkdistrict.com/. My office has also worked with environmental groups like the National Wildlife Foundation and the Sierra Club to fight to protect our Lakes.

"Please visit my website at www.house.gov/emanuel for more information on this and other issues, and please do not hesitate to call my office at 773-267-5926 to share your thoughts and concerns. It is a privilege serving you in the U.S. Congress.



After hearing on a daily basis what abomination the Bush administration has been up to, this was like a breath of fresh air (or a wash of fresh water!) in the world of politics. I have renewed faith that there are indeed proactive politicians who really, truly care about their communities.

GO RAHM!!!!!


Who Spotted the Prophecy in Book One? Show of Hands....

I haven't picked up the last book in the Harry Potter series, book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I will read it eventually. I'm currently re-reading book 1, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and will re-read all of the other books before reading the latest and last one. Just my way of drawing out the end, I guess.

It's funny how words take on a new meaning if you re-read them. Who knew the popularity and controversy, the madding crowd draws at book releases, the costume look-a-likes, movie viewings in the hundreds of millions back when lucky page 13 (paperback) of the very first book was written:

(spoken by Professor McGonagall) "He'll be famous - a legend - I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future - there will be books written about Harry - every child in our world will know his name!"

Harry Potter Day was cancelled, incidentally, by headteacher Paul Martin, known to his students as "VoldyMartin," due to the controversy part I alluded to up top.


So .... What, Exactly, Does This Say About Me, Then?

My very favorite perfume, Bulgari Black, was discontinued....

Or so I thought.

I recently found it, but it's no longer called a "perfume."

Though the scent is still the same, it's now a marketed as a "cologne."

For men.

Despite its gender issues, I'm going to keep on wearing it, because it took me YEARS to find a favorite scent!


I's Just Gots One Of Those Faces, I Guess...

I get asked all this question all of the time "Where do I know you from......? I know you from somewhere...." and in the most EXTREME cases, I've had a strangers ask me for autographs, or stare at me open mouthed with an "OHMYGOD! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE IN MY STORE!!!" sort of look on their face. I really wish I could figure out how to profit from this, but I haven't sorted it out yet.

Aside from "Are you John's sister?" "Weren't you my Connie's roommate at Drake?" "Do you work at Heaven on Seven?" "Aren't you Sarah's daughter?" "How'd that Metamucil work for you last week?" (I NEVER buy Metamucil! ..okayokayokay. I never bought it from her or even from that store!) and "The usual?" (Huh? Um, I've never eaten here before...what should my usual be, exactly?) I often get compared to screen personalities. I've figured out that, aside from Jenna Elfman, they're all brunettes with brown eyes, which is interesting because I've dyed my hair every shade of red for the better part of 16 years (my eyes are brown, though!)

Neve Campbell
(Mark - sober)

Parker Posey
(Mark after 2 gin martinis)

Hillary Swank
(two girls at CVS who were trying to decide who I looked like "...Sandra Bullock!" "No she doesn't! She looks like Hillary Swank! She totally does!" "Don't say that - it's rude!" I didn't think it was rude, Hillary! I was quite flattered. Unless they were talking about your look in Boys Don't Cry....but I rarely wear flannel.)

This cat
(must be the bob cut. )

Mia Hamm
(when I brought my film in to a Wolf's Camera to be developed, mind you this is 7 years ago, the teenager behind the counter just stared at me. I started to get a little nervous, because he looked a little scared. "Ummm....when can I expect these back?" "Huh? Oh, uh...are you Mia Hamm?" "*laugh!* NO!" "Oh, okay. How about Wednesday after 5?")

John Leguizamo
(must be the 'too. That is one COOL-ASS 'too!)

Jenna Elfman
("....NAH!!!" "Nonono, wait wait wait! It's totally the attitude, not the look." John and Mark - stoned, who then proceeded to call me "Dharma" for...it's been 8 years now. Cut it out.)

Thankfully, though, not Danny Elfman (no offence, Danny!), although I love to use that evil smile in some of my characters in improv, or to get Shannon to do something for me out of

Miranda (far left)
My Sex-In-The-City personality match (also my Sex-in-the-City hairstyle match)

Sandra Bullock
(this actually may have landed me one of my previous jobs).
I actually had two people ask me for "my" autograph, thinking I was Sandra Bullock a few years ago - one in Chicago, at a Starbucks I think, and a trucker in New York. Sorry, Darren - that autograph you're trying to sell on E-Bay for $3.00 + 17.99 shipping/handling is not authentic.

Posh Spice
(must be the hair - it's definitely not the size -14 physique!...actually, I just don't get this one....but thanks!)

And most recently Nat Gastiain (Natalia) Tena.

Matt, I totally think it was the purple hair in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - my hair was almost exactly the same shade about a month ago (Accidentally! I swear!)

The best part about this is I'm getting younger all the time - Tena was born in 1984! SWEET! Those spells of Nymphadora's that I've been tinkering with are working! I'm sure glad I picked up that orange wand last time I visited Diagon Alley. Powerful stuff is the stuff of orange, apparently!

So if you put all these together....okay, I don't know what you'd get, but she'd have one killer tattoo!


The Last of the Tendrils of Illusion Dissipates Into Nothingness

I bought my gas almost exclusively at BP. I know all gasoline is pretty close to the same, but I went to BP for two reasons: I had gone to Amoco before it was bought out by BP, and BP stood for British Petroleum, which sounds, well, British! Being the anglophile I am, and having lived a half mile from a BP in Headington where I bought all my crisps and Cadbury bars, I have been partial, if not exclusively loyal, to BP for YEARS.

My illusions about this company being all green and good and speaking in crisp English accents vanished this past weekend when I found out that Indiana will be allowing BP to dump more crap - ammonia and industrial sludge - into Lake Michigan. Way to go, Indiana! Oh! And what does Indiana get in return for the $3.8 million expansion it's allowing that will create all this extra waste?

80 new jobs. No, I'm not missing a zero or a comma - 80. New. Jobs.

I'm going to have to cut the cord with BP and find a new station to be loyal to. Any suggestions?

I wish I could boycott Indiana, too, but I have to use it to get to other places. At least they now accept the I-Pass. Once drivers learn to read the words "CASH ONLY" thereby freeing up the I-Pass, E-Z Pass, and I-Zoom lanes, I'll be able to get outta the "Crossroads State" even more quickly!

"Crossroads"...."crossroads"....isn't that where the devil gets ya?

Einstein and Gödel

I love this picture. Two of the smartest people who ever lived, who had completely different outlooks on life (not to mention styles of dress!), standing so easy in eachother's company.

"Um das Privileg zu haben, mit Gödel zu Fuss nach Hause gehen zu dürfen." - Einsten

The Last of the Last Bowie Posts

No, really, for serious.

Shannon and I rented Extras Season 2 through NetCrack and watched all three episodes on disc 1 last night. The Orlando Bloom episode was the best, but this segment with David Bowie almost put me on the floor laughing:

Here's some of the Orlando Bloom bit:

Other highlights thus far include: Kate Winslet dressed as a nun smoking and saying vulgar things, my favorite being "purple-headed womb ferret," and Daniel Radcliff having to beg back his "pro-fo-lack-...TIC" from Dame Diana Rigg (see below):

Oh, yes - and everything out of Patrick Stewart's mouth. It's a toss up between this one and the Orlando Bloom episode for my favorite so far:


It's True That You Are Blessed and Lucky

We lost another of our beloved pets on Tuesday of last week. Max T. Ferret was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over 6 months ago when we brought him into the vet because he was losing his ability to walk - his back legs were failing him. Pancreatic cancer is inoperable, so surgery wasn't an option. In pancreatic cancer, the cancer is peppered throughout the pancreas like bits of sand, so it's nigh on impossible to get to all of the bits, and since the pancreas cannot be removed (unlike the gall bladder or appendix, it's a necessary organ), the only thing we could hope for was to slow the progression of the cancer and maybe kick his legs back into gear through drug therapy. Thanks to Dr. Byron de la Navarre, whom we can't recommend highly enough, Max had many many more good days after his initial diagnosis. He started to falter, and we had to continuously up the dose of his meds, but his spirits never flagged. He never appeared to be suffering or in pain. On his worst days he just seemed really, really tired, but on his best days you would swear he was in pretty good health.

I got Max about 4 years ago. Like all of my ferrets, he was given to me by someone who could no longer keep him. My coworker's friend was getting married, and she didn't want her fiancee's ferret in "her" new house (I'm still angry about this, and don't hold much hope for that marriage. When they brought me Max, his owner was quietly fighting back tears and staring at Max with true regret and sadness, reluctant to hand me his cage, while his fiancee was going on and on about "how WONDERFUL Max was!" and "how much they'd miss him *tear!*"). I'd only before brought in animals whose owners truly couldn't care for them as they deserved. Max was obviously very, very loved and well taken care of by his previous owner.

As much as I wanted to help Max find a new home (I LOVES me the ferrets!!), I was hesitant to bring another ferret in when the two I had - Donnatella and Umberto - got along SO well. I told the owner I'd see how things went, but if they didn't get along, he'd have to find him another home. Max was about 5 or 6 at the time.

I prepared everyone for the initial meeting. I read all the Webbernet sites, called a few ferret shelters, and fretted most of the week before I brought Max home. Before they met, I gave them each a bath with the same shampoo so they smelled the same. I scoured the cage and put in all new litter. I even put in all new bedding. When I finally introduced Max into the cage, the three started to circle and sniff at eachother. I left the room after about 20 minutes with an ear open, listening for any signs of aggression or distress and ready to dash back in if I heard so much as a "DOOKA!," but I didn't hear anything but the ordinary, and when I came back a few minutes later, they were all piled on top of eachother in the cuddle cup, snoooooooozing away contentedly. I told my coworker to let her friends know had a new home.

I came to regret my decision a few weeks later when he started to terrorize Donnatella. He only attacked her whenever they were let out of the cage (he left her alone inside the cage, and they'd sleep in a pile like nothing had happened). When he'd start to attack her I'd put him back in the cage or into another room, trying to condition him to leave her alone, but he didn't learn to leave her alone until she got sick. He was an excellent ferret aside from this, but I felt bad all around - for Donnatella for the attacks, and for him because he was spending most of his time in the cage or in a room separate from the other two ferrets. He didn't seem to mind, but they're generally such social animals, I couldn't help but feel badly.

When Donnatella got sick, Umberto brought her food and used himself as a blanket to keep her warm. When Max got sick, he did the same for him, but to a lesser degree as the weather got warmer (the warmer it got the less Max needed an Umberto blanket, and Max's strict regimen included twice-daily doses of protein/fat rich food, so he didn't need to go up the levels of the cage too often get food). Nevertheless, it was obvious Umberto was keeping an eye on him. Our vet has never heard of anything like this mothering behavior of Umberto's.

Max was the most socialized (with bipeds) of my ferrets. His human obviously loved him and played with him extensively. One of their favorite passtimes was ferret bowling. To play ferret bowling, you curled Max into a ball (ferrets have no apparent bone structure) and slide him down a smooth hallway. He'd shake himself off when he came to a stop, then come running back for the next frame.

Like most ferrets, he was afraid of nothing, but he held a milder temperment than Umberto. Umberto would go into DOOKA!! ATTACK!! mode when startled, Max would simply change direction. Bu found him fascinating and would follow him about as though studying him.

Max had gone into convulsions before, but this time we couldn't stabilize him. Dr. de la Navarre's practice was still open so we brought him there to be put to sleep. We didn't want to take him to an emergency clinic where the surroundings would be unfamiliar (he'd spent a few weekend "spa-visits" there whenever we travelled out of town, our minds at ease knowing they'd take excellent care of him in our absence, so he was familiar with the staff and they with him), and we knew it was time. He'd been getting progressively weaker over the past 2 weeks and we had been watching him as closely as Umberto for the slightest sign of discomfort, which he showed no evidence of until the very end. Even then he was fighting like mad to stick around. While I was driving home from work that day, clouds started forming overhead. As soon as I stepped out of the car it started raining. By the time I got into the apartment it was pouring rain, and the winds were whipping like mad. Max was conjuring a tempest! We drove to the vet in the pouring rain and got drenched in the short jog from the car.

When we left, the winds had calmed and the clouds were parting.

The staff at Animal House of Chicago has been amazing. One of the vets who took care of him while we were away last weekend said she could not believe he was about 10 years old. Just couldn't believe it. Ferrets just don't live that long! Turns out they do when you give them the excellent care they do at the Animal House of Chicago.

Umberto is now alone - a situation he's never found himself in before. He has been spending alot of time sleeping, and appears lethargic. For risk of sounding as though I'm personifying my animals, I'd say he's grieving and lonely. If you know of anyone giving away any 4-month old ferret kits....

We were blessed and lucky to have had Max, and we, and Umberto, Aethelred and Bu, miss him dearly.