Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
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MY ESSAY ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS, "The Arrival" is currently the featured article at Mike Burch's Mysterious Ways: Poetry and Literature about God, infinity, eternity, things mysterious.



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 31, 2005 5:24 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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Patience Please. A Spam-Free American Digest Comes First.



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 30, 2005 1:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Penguin Movie for Guys

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Oh my, one more Saturday night.

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY... as a guy, you have either seen The Penguin Movie , will see The Penguin Movie , or been told to see The Penguin Movie , and have decided to ignore all that because you're just not that into her, or into seeing The Penguin Movie which is, after all, about a bunch of birds at the bottom of the world.

If so, this one's for you guys out there just so you can know what this film is all about. Now some, girls or girly men, will tell you that The Penguin Movie is about how "In the harshest place on Earth, love finds a way," and my yes that is so true. Others, arguing for intelligent design will state that The Penguin Movie proves through the sheer magnificence of these creatures that a hidden hand moves always behind the veil of mere existence. Still others, more sodden, will argue that The Penguin Movie proves Darwin was a very smart man. These things are also true, but they are not the real, deeper purpose of The Penguin Movie .

The real purpose of The Penguin Movie is to establish once and for all how fortunate all men are to be born MEN and not male Penguins.

Here's how the life of a Penguin of the male persuasion unfolds according to The Penguin Movie.

First you live on the edge of an ice-sheet in Antarctica and, for the most part, hang around holes in the ice. When the mood strikes you, you plunge headfirst into these holes and into the just-barely-above-freezing slush to try and snag some sashimi on the fin that has not even been descaled and cleaned. You diet is sashimi, sashimi, and more sashimi with nary a hot bottle of Sake for about 3,000 miles minimum.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 27, 2005 1:57 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Name in the Stone

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On Living with the Loss of a Son in Wartime. Written and first published on Memorial Day, 2003

MY NAME, "GERARD VAN DER LEUN," IS AN UNUSUAL ONE. So unusual, I've never met anyone else with the same name. I do know of one other man with the name, but we've never met. I've seen his name in an unusual place. This is the story of how that happened.

It was an August Sunday in New York City in 1975. I'd decided to bicycle from my apartment on East 86th and York to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island. I'd nothing else to do and, since I hadn't been to the park since moving to the city in 1974, it seemed like a destination that would be interesting. Just how interesting, I had no way of knowing when I left.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 26, 2005 6:33 PM | Comments (37)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mr. Wonderful's Bad Day

So my pal and I are standing in line in a sandwich shop waiting to see if two chicken salad sandwiches, chips, and cokes will yield any change from a $20 (They don't), when this guy my pal knows staggers in the door and joins the line. He's the blonde, aging and pear-shaped frat boy type on a life pension from his grandparents common in these parts. He's an elite member of the Maynard G. Krebs Zero-Work Brigade.

It's possible to see he is a reasonably good looking man, but just. This is because, besides a distinct wobbling lurch in his step, he also appears to have gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime.

His nose is thickened along with the rest of his face, and not just from a lifetime's love affair with single malt. There's a huge nasty scab across the bridge of his nose and a larger one running along the side of his jaw and under his chin giving off a rusty red gleam like some speed strawberry birthmark. Both his eyes have large, dark circles around them as if they've gotten special attention from a ball-peen hammer, and their expression is that of a man who's just walked out of a fire-fight in the Afghan hills.

My pal knows him and introduces me. I shake his hand and say, as anyone would, "What happened to you?"

"I had a bad day on Wednesday."

"Obviously," said my pal.

"Can I tell you about it?"

"Obviously."

"Well, I get up in the morning and go out to the garage for my car. That's when it starts.

It's got a flat and the tire that's flat is the spare that I put on the week before that I haven't gotten around to getting fixed. So I have no spare for the spare, and have to get the tow truck to come out and take the car to Discount Tire and me to Budget Rent a Car for some wheels. They rent me a car and I drive away for the rest of my day intending to pick my car up in the late afternoon. I do some errands and go home and hang around there for a few hours.

"Finally it's time to pick up the car and take the rental back. I call the tire shop and they tell me I'm good to go. So I pick up the keys and go out to the car that's parked at the top of my driveway.

"At some point in my walk, I notice there's a bee buzzing around my head. Then I notice three bees and then an entire swarm and they are all swooping and diving at me and trying to sting me."

At this point, the sandwich line and the entire sandwich shop has slowed to a crawl, listening.

"I get stung three times on the forehead, four times on one arm, twice on the other and six times on my right leg." (Polo shirts and shorts are the uniform of choice in this town.)

"So I'm whirling around and waving my arms and trying to get to my rental car when I notice that the bee swarm is thickest between me and the car.

"I decide to do one thing. Flee! I turn around and still waving my arms all around me begin to run at top speed down the slope of my driveway towards the street about thirty yards away down the slope.

"Running downhill at speed in flip-flops isn't, I'm here to tell you, a great idea since at some point I feel my hip give and, boom, I perform a perfect face plant in the asphalt.

"The good news is that this seems to throw the bees off since they leave me alone. The bad news is this face. The worse news is that just when I think that I'll just lie there, phone 911 on my cell and wait for the paramedics since I can't walk, my hip pops back in and I'm able to sneak around the house and into the rental and drive myself to the emergency room."

My pal and I murmur our condolences and gather up our sandwiches.

"Thanks," he says. "But that's not the best part."

"No?"

"Nope. When I came out this morning to go to work, another tire was flat. I walked here and now I'm afraid to go home."



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 23, 2005 11:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Another Day in My Pajamas-- Covering the Apocalypse for PJM

Brain Jazz today at Pajamas Media where the name of the tune was:

Doomsday Watch:

The End of the World

Omnes: (Chanting) Now is the end - Perish The World!
A pause
Peter :It was GMT, wasn't it?
Jon : Yes.
Peter : Well, it's not quite the conflagration I'd been banking on. Never mind, lads, same time tomorrow... we must get a winner one day. -- Beyond the Fringe, 1961


It's the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine... as of now. So we thought that we might as well track it throughout the day, at least while the going is good and until the Apocalypse arrives.

Annan offers to negotiate with the Twelfth Imam. (Scrappleface)

Iran looks to start "serious talk on the 23rd" and "play a constructive role in all issues"--which still means that it's ignoring the demands of the UN. Ambassador Bolton responds. (Atlas Shrugs)

"He sees you when you're sleeping; he knows when you're awake." Santa? No, Twelfth Imam. (The People's Cube) (HT: Kesher Talk)


Warning: Funny but NSFW.

10,000 Reasons Civilization is Doomed!

Reason 10,001

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Paris Hilton makes the sign of the Beast. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Reason 10,002: Issandr El Amrani @ The Arabist notes that Paris Hilton is releasing her album Paris today and "is trying to encourage women to join her on her 'no sex for a year' pledge."

The article that started the frenzy, by Bernard Lewis.

Patrick Poole looks at "Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic faith:" the Hojjatieh sect of Shi'ism.

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HT: Who Knew?

Bob @ Confederate Yankee: "If is is indeed their plan, I pray that they now reconsider. The three major religions that arose in the Middle East and propagated around this world all believe in a Creator, One that created All. If these major world religions are correct, then God alone is all powerful, and only God alone can chose the time and place of the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega."

Jerusalem Gypsy has the perfect excuse for... well, let's just say it's NSFW.


"The Rapture. It's Coming. Be Ready."

Quay Fortuna @ Armageddon Cocktail Hour is liveblogging.

August 22s, back in time: the slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia let by Nat Turner (1831)

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Apocalypse 4 by Laurence Acland

The date is significant not only to Islam followers, but also to Crusading Christians: "On August 22, 725 AD, the Bishop of Nantes became the martyred St. Emilian while leading the French against the invading muslims."

Another August 22 in history: the battle of Brooklyn (1776)

Michael Totten (guestblogging @ Daily Dish) already told us yesterday that we shouldn't be worried.

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"The blast does not travel at the speed of light, but the light from the blast does." -- William Burroughs
Allahpundit: "Please stop with the August 22nd crap."

All quiet in the Houston front: Frisky the cat is keeping en eye out for the 12th imam at Laurence Simon's (TBIFOC)

Apocalypse Now? The Jerusalem Post quotes Israeli experts who cast a skeptic look.



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2005 5:27 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Absolute Moral Degeneracy of Cindy Sheehan

IT ALL BEGAN AS IT TOO OFTEN DOES, WITH THE BARREN MAUREEN DOWD searching out still more ideological children who were not cats. In her usual frantic keyboarding, where she constantly demonstrates the ability to type faster than she can think, Dowd pushed out, at some effort, the phrase "absolute moral authority" in describing this ruined woman's quest to get the Celebrity Spotlight on "Me-Me-Me."

This simple, ham-handed cliche launched a thousand cameras and, Shazam!, we've had the Cindy Show, live and not-so-very live, pulsed up from the drainage ditches of Crawford, Texas for the last fortnight. And as always with such media inspired circuses, the usual rag-tag assembly of carping Americans kept dragging in like the rusty, dusty and doomed cast of Carnevale. Crosses were planted. Signs were scrawled

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2005 2:01 PM | Comments (26)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Rubber Knives to Gun Fights

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I have a secret love for private emails so awful that they are copied anonymously about the Net that others may laugh and/or writhe at their innate cluelessness. It is an ancient, if not honorable, tradition and once involved flames, threats, and love notes rife with embarrassing details before people started being careful about those things.

The most recent missive to show up unbidden but cherished in my In-Box is a letter on "conflict" from some hapless dolt who has evidently been on a drip-feed of Political Correctness Kool-Aid for some decades now. This is a letter that reveals a soul teetering on the edge of catastrophic mental collapse as the liberal bromides, solutions and blather of the last few decades of academe devolve into an ever-escalating Tourette's episode from which there is no escape, only life in a strait-jacket and locked in a padded cells with hosts of fellow sufferers. All of whom have mysteriously received tenure.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2005 8:36 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
OUT? MAYBE IN 20 YEARS: Our Military Bases in Iraq Are Essential

FILE UNDER "AGREEABLE PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH YOU, HOWEVER TARDY": THE FEDERALIST PATRIOT, August 19, 2005

One closely guarded objective in securing a free Iraq is to establish a forward-deployed presence in the Middle East -- a presence that would certainly include personnel but whose primary component would be massive military-equipment depots that could be tapped for future rapid-deployment military operations in the region. This forward-base objective is critical, given that it will ensure our military presence in the heart of Jihadistan, and an ability to project force in the region quickly without having to ramp up via sea and airlift. This alone will pay rich dividends by way of maintaining peace through preparedness.

AMERICAN DIGEST, First published on September 22, 2004
WHY WE ARE IN IRAQ : Military Bases Are A Requirement, Democracy is Merely an Elective.

Resolved: To safeguard the personal and economic wellbeing of the civilized world in the 21st century, it is essential for the United States to control Iraq for strategic and tactical military purposes alone.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 19, 2005 10:10 AM | Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Meanwhile @ My Other Site

There's a brand new look and feel to Pajamas Media this morning. This and Politics Central represents pretty much what I've been working on with a great team for the past couple of months. (Oh, yes, there was that On-Hold War in the Middle East too.) Drop on by and see what you think.



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 15, 2005 11:23 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hive and the Town

DURING MY YEARS IN THE CITIES, returning to New York by air at night mezmerized me during the long approach. Sliding down over the Alleghenies from the west, curving in over the Atlantic from the South, or throttling back and easing off the Great Circle Route from Europe, the emergence of the vast sprawl of lights that defined the Hive always enraptured me. On moonless nights, after the humming hours held in that aluminum cylinder hoisted into mid-heaven, you saw the long continents of dark water or land dissolve into shimmering white-gold strands connecting to clusters of earth-anchored constellations that merged to expanding galaxies of towns, suburbs, and cities until all below was a shimmering web of man-made stars.

As you swept down still lower, these massive meadows of stars resolved to highways and streets, boroughs and neighborhoods, houses and buildings and the yellow prongs of headlights darting under the streetlights. Then you were over the boundary, the runway blurring just beneath your seat. A bump and a bounce, engines reversing, weight shifting forward then back, and you were down and rolling towards the gate. If you were coming in from the Caribbean there was grateful applause for the pilot for the miracle of a safe landing.

You deplaned, grabbed your bags, hailed a cab and soon lurched along the Long Island Expressway, part of those headlights hazed beneath streetlights you'd looked down on only minutes before. The meter clicked past $30.00, the skyline of Manhattan rose behind the gravestones of the vast cemetery, a bridge and a toll and you were back in the Hive.

I loved the Hive across all the long years I lived within it. It was at once exciting and exasperating, densely communal and achingly lonely, empowering and eviscerating, inspiring and degrading. It never stopped coming at you and, on those days when your mental defenses were weak and your emotional shields wavered, it could splatter your soul. The same random evening stroll through downtown that would show you six people ambling along dressed as gigantic baked potatoes (complete with a pat of butter, gob of sour cream and chives), would also show you a wizened bum so diminished that he would drop his trousers, squat, and defecate in the middle of the sidewalk as bond traders in bespoke suits and handmade English shoes stepped carefully around the spectacle seeing nothing, nothing at all.

An old friend with little use for it describes the Hive as, "Hell with good restaurants."

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2005 11:20 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hometown Hezbollah

File under: "Suffer the Little Children."

I don't know about you but I'm especially fond of the sub-title that tells us we are spending some quality time with "The family of Ahmed Assil, the first modern-day suicide bomber."

"First modern-day suicide bomber... Sort of gives you a real head's-up notice that the wiring in all human heads is not all exactly the same, doesn't it?



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 3, 2005 12:58 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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