Flip Through

Sunday, December 16, 2007

But is it exothermic or endothermic?

Places Hell May Be Located

- Walmart
- Any chain restaurant
- Haines City, Florida
- _________ and MLK Blvd (every city has one)
- a black hole
- a parking garage
- an apartment complex and its parking lot

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

And then Diana failed all her classes

I have come to the conclusion that the nature of writing and authorship is cyclical, particularly in the case of C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman. I have also concluded that I would like to have Mr. Pullman's babies.

See, His Dark Materials are pretty brilliant books and the saucy Sally Lockhart Victorian thrillers are also quite capital. But it wasn't until I read part of Thomas Huxley's Evolution and Ethics that I realized the scope of Pullman's authorial slyness. It occurred to me that perhaps C.S. Lewis had been reading Huxley while writing the third book of his Cosmic Trilogy, That Hideous Strength--the basis of Huxley's argument is that human evolution is a constant struggle with nature (he's very pro-pruning). The text of Evolution and Ethics reminded me strongly of the aims of the antagonists in That Hideous Strength; Wither, Frost, and the mad priest wish to advance the evolution of man to the point that all natural processes (food consumption, waste production, copulation and birth) are unneeded. They wish to set up Man as God: fueled by brainpower, worshiper of intellect: and to "cleanse" the Earth of erroneous life, plant and animal alike. Obviously, Lewis doesn't agree with this line of philosophy.

That actually has nothing to do with Pullman's book, not really (other than the fact that Pullman too would not want to see the Earth erased of all life but human); but thinking about the possible connection between Huxley and Lewis made me think about those people who call Pullman the "anti-Lewis". This title is due chiefly, I believe, to certain surface similarities in the two men's most famous books. The Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials are indeed possessed of some plot similarities, including talking animals and a famous wardrobe scene. Also, some fundamental Christians see Pullman's books as diametrically opposed to Lewis's--the fact that Pullman kills God is a sore point. However, I think that the two sets of books are similar on deeper levels, and that the similarities (and differences which are revealed by the similarities) bring Lewis and Pullman closer than a casual glance would show.

The real meat of this is found in The Amber Spyglass. I recently reread it and the Cosmic Trilogy, and found some startling plot points in all. In The Amber Spyglass, the character of Mary Malone finds herself alone in an alien world, forced to make contact with the residents of the place--large elephant-like creatures who move on wheels. While animal, these creatures are "people": the moral and emotional equivalent of any Homo sapien. Mary learns their language and customs, and grows to love them, when another human arrives, who brings fear, hatred, and death to their world. This plotline almost exactly parallels that of Out of the Silent Planet, wherein the protagonist Ransom arrives on Mars, finds three species of life who are sentient and capable of language, science, and art, and are for all points and purposes "human". Ransom, a philologist, learns their speech and becomes very fond of one species in particular, the hrossa. As he grows to know them, two other humans with whom he had been traveling kill one of the hrossa. Altogether they refuse to regard any of the Martian inhabitants on a "human" level.

This first similarity is fairly straightforward. It is the second which makes things interesting. Pullman's Mary Malone is told that she must act as tempter (the serpent of the Bible)--for Lyra and Will, the two heroes of the story. In order for all the universes of His Dark Materials to be redeemed, the two must be tempted into what the Church would regard as sin; they must fall in love and they must realize it. Likewise, in Perelandra, the second book of Lewis's trilogy, Ransom is sent to Venus to act against the tempter who is there to make certain that Venus, like Earth, falls. Reading Lewis, you yearn for Perelandra to remain pure, paradisiacal, untainted by the diseases of mortality; reading Pullman, you plead for Mary to remain alive long enough to show Lyra and Will the way into love.

How then is it possible for the same reader to enjoy both series? For I certainly do. When I first read about Ransom and his exploits on alien worlds I was glued to the page, aching for his great good to triumph. When I read about Lyra and Will and their worlds I cheered when they realized that they loved one another and cried at their inevitable separation. The two themes of the books are seemingly disparate, but at the same time strikingly similar. I would submit that Pullman is only the "anti-Lewis" in his treatment of certain subjects. His Dark Materials is like the photographic negative of The Cosmic Trilogy--everything opposite and the same.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The kids are alright

This post was supposed to about this brilliant insight I had last night concerning Thomas Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and Philip Pullman, but that can wait, because right now, I'd rather write about the epilogue of Fargo Rock City.

Yes, I'm sorry. Once more you will be subjected to ramblings about Chuck Klosterman.

In any case, the epilogue of my favorite heavy metal examination leaves me with the wondrous, glowing feeling that I, personally, validate my one of my favorite writers. See, in this postscript Chuck mentions a book which was published at the same time as his--a little something called Our Band Could Be Your Life. Maybe you've read it. Most people (read: hipsters) have. I have. Chuck has. And the way he describes it, the aesthetics of these two styles of musicians are desperately dissimilar. Incompatible, even. The artists of Azerrad's book consciously attempt to be "important", while the bands of Klosterman's are simply concerned with being "cool". Chuck makes sure to point out, however, that the fans of these musicians are probably not that dissimilar--that kids like Black Flag for the same reason that they like Van Halen ("Man, these guys fucking rock!").

Why yes, Mr Klosterman. You are correct. At least for me.

See, not only have I read both Fargo Rock City and Our Band Could Be Your Life (numerous times each), but one actually led to the other. I read Our Band Could Be Your Life when I was fourteen, a massively uncool, reclusive ninth-grade bookworm. I loved it immediately and it made me install Kazaa on the family computer so I could download lots of Black Flag and Fugazi and Minor Threat, et cetera (Interestingly--perhaps tellingly--the only bands featured in the book which stuck with me were The Minutemen, Big Black, and Mudhoney. But that's a different story). Another group that piqued my interest, though it was merely a throwaway mention, was Queensryche.

Downloading Geoff Tate due to a sideline note in a hipster Bible led me to a fully-formed metal appreciation, which in turn made me buy Fargo Rock City.

So stick that in your juicebox and suck on it, critics the world over! Music really is simpler than you people want it to be! The same pseudo-intellectual kid who listens to Steve Albini and his thunderous drum machine can appreciate "Girls Girls Girls" (even if she is a girl). The vast, vast majority of music listeners, be their drug of choice rap, country, math rock, or glam metal, listen to their favorites for one reason: it fucking rocks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More of a concept than a thing

Fifty Things Which Are On My Desk:

Two stellar Bose speakers, one pair of denim shorts, a Forgotten English page-a-day calendar, an ugly jar made in high school pottery, four books (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Mrs. Dalloway, All Over but the Shoutin', and The Handmaid's Tale), a set of X-rays of my spinal cord and rib cage, a Nexium pen, a pair of jeans, a set of new car insurance cards, three months' worth of bank statements, a black skirt, a denim skirt, a black bra, an empty plastic cup, a checkbook, a thank-you card, the title of my car, a stack of comic books (Immortal Iron Fist and White Tiger), three textbooks (Images of the Past, Cultural Anthropology, and The Longman Anthology of British Literature), one yellow folder with various library call numbers written on it, the set list of a Kamelot show, a red picture frame featuring a postcard from the Victoria and Albert Museum, a sonnet written in response to Keats's "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time", English notes from last summer, an "I trust Severus Snape" sticker, and my purse.

One Thing Which Is Not:

My computer.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sugar and spice and everything nice

This, we know, is what little girls are made of. Little boys, likewise, are made of snakes and snails and puppydog tails, for reasons unknown.

Very nice, but more interesting is what the state of New Hampshire is made of. Dunkin Donuts and granite and vanity plates? Communist-era grocery stores and hair salons and dial-up Internet? Ski slopes and haddock on buns and bikers? Is this truly the most bizarre state in the Union? I think so-o. Containing barely one million citizens, New Hampshire ranks 41st in population and not one of these people is anything less than snowy white.

I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.

Worth noting is that New Hampshire, despite its frigid temperatures and lack of wireless, has produced a variety of famous people, including Daniel Webster (who is not who you think he is), Dan Brown (who does not deserve to be well-known), and funnyfolks Sarah Silverman and Seth Meyers. All I can think is that growing up in an Arctic environment of seasonal tourism and IGAs would turn me towards meth and teenage pregnancy, not fiery oratory, pot-boilers, and Comedy Central shows.

Honestly, it's funny how New Hampshire works. You fly into Manchester, the only international airport in the state, and think, if you're me, Wow! I'm farther north than I've ever been in the Continental United States! You then realize that your parents live four hours north of where you are currently standing. So far north, in fact, that it would have been closer for them if you had just flown into Montreal, Quebec. As you drive ever more northerly, you begin to realize why this state has so few residents. Why the place is abounding with Dunkin Donuts yet has perhaps ten movie theatres. Why black people would find it such a heinous environment to live in. Why, perhaps, the Old Man in the Mountain had the gall to finally fall down after untold years of being the main tourist attraction.

There is nothing to do here. One can only hike so much. If it is not winter, skiing, snowboarding, and tubing are not possible. The beach is not a beach, simply a shoreline. The state history is the history of every other New England state. The only places to buy alcohol are state liquor stores. If it isn't blazingly obvious, I don't have much use for New Hampshire.

One thing worth mentioning--NH will make you write. The best short story I've written thus far was set in New Hampshire. Maybe John Irving and Robert Frost are on to something.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Worst Idea Ever, Continued

All right. At my viewing of the trailer for The Dark Is Rising, I was left with the impression that it was set in America due to the American accents used by the characters (and I seem to recall some scene with a yellow bus. o.O). However, according to a SciFi.com article , the movie will be set in England (northern England, but more on that later); only the nationality of the Stanton family has been changed to American.

I am not rescinding my previous post. It was an honest reaction, and I think a valid one. However, with this new news, I simply get the leeway to rip everything else apart. And even from one trailer viewing, there is much to be ripped.

Let's start with the Stantons. Their Americanization is a bad, bad idea. Along the same lines as before, the Stantons' nationality is integral to the story. The Dark Is Rising in particular has several scenes concerning with British pride, and commentary on how Britons deal with this and that. Furthermore, the story is drenched in British mythology, particularly that of Arthur; it seems that the makers of the film version are attempting to completely modernize the story by leaving out all the history and tradition at its core. Not only that, but the family structure of the Stantons has been decimated. Will is older--13, where in the book he is 11, for a very important reason--and apparently he has been given a twin, a boy who has been in captivity by the Dark. And it gets better! Robin and Paul, two of Will's older brothers, have been transformed into grungy bullying jerks; their literary selves were, respectively, a rugby-player type who liked to sing and a dreamy, quiet boy who played the flute. Paul especially was sensitive to and defensive of Will. Then there's the warping of Max, the second-oldest brother, from an art student to a tattooed, pierced rebel. Simply put, the Stantons are unrecognizable. To turn them from a mainly happy and loyal family into a splintered, mean-spirited bunch is antithetical to the themes of the story. Will is not an outsider who needs acceptance into the ways of Britain--he only begins to feel distanced when he discovers his powers as an Old One. From then on, his path is one of learning and guidance from his masters, and the close of the series finds him wise and complete in the lore of his country.

Then there's the matter of Merriman and the other magical types in the story. Merriman is badass, it's true, but in a rumbly repressed sort of English way. HE DOES NOT WIELD A FUCKING MACE, PEOPLE. Neither does the Lady have a cane which turns into a sword if she needs to go medieval on the baddies. Hawkin is not gifted (or cursed) with eternal youth, and neither has he lost his soul. And, perhaps most trivial and at the same time most important, the Black Rider rides a black horse.

In case it's not obvious, I cannot find enough wrong with this film. I do not think I will be seeing it. I will remain content with the novels and my own vision of them. Who needs a homogenized Hollywood version where all that is recognizable is the title?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Worst Idea Ever

Actually, I'm not even sure why I used that title. This post is not about the new Harry Potter film (which was excellent, by the way. Go see it).

No, no. This post is about a trailer shown prior to Order of the Phoenix. Some Hollywood asshole has apparently seen fit to twist yet another fantasy novel into a product for Mass American Consumption. This time, the unlucky lottery winner is Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising.

Now, let me just say that as far as books-into-films go, I'm actually pretty forgiving. The directors of the Harry Potter films have my love, as does Peter Jackson, and The Princess Bride is possibly even better than its source material. But this travesty has passed into unforgivable territory, by merit of a seemingly-simple decision: to move the setting from Britain to America.

For non-readers, a quick summary--The Dark Is Rising is the second book of the series of the same name, chronicling the journey of several children (and specifically Will Stanton) toward an epic battle between Dark and Light. Instances of British mythology and lore are used, and on the whole the books are smaller-scale than, say, Tolkien's; the battles take place on eye-level, between opposing personal wills rather than grand armies, and every place location is used for an exact purpose. Cooper doesn't toss her characters into Cornwall or North Wales or Buckinghamshire because the country's pretty--they're there because the grail is hidden in Cornwall, because Arthurian legends have roots in Wales, because Herne the Hunter has no American equivalent.

And here we have an American director, dreaming that it'll be okay to move inherently British characters to the United States. Imagining that the story will still sing; that no viewer will feel anything awry; that a tale so British can be Americanized--modernized, even, for the novels were published in the Seventies and, though not exactly dated, still feel like that time period.

The Dark Is Rising is at its core a love poem to Britain and uniquely British legend and setting and feeling. It cannot, cannot exist in another country. Who would even consider moving Hogwarts to New York City? This film adaptation of Susan Cooper's book suggests a complete lack of care for the source material--an insult to both author and fans. Moreover, the looks of this first film indicate that the rest of the books will not be filmed. Perhaps I should say that the looks of this first film make Cooper fans pray that the rest of the books will not be filmed, because who among us could stand seeing Over Sea, Under Stone and Greenwitch ripped from Cornwall and transplanted into Cape Cod, or The Grey King and Silver on the Tree failing to flourish in, say, Montana?

Someone at Walden Media (incidentally, the people who brought us the similarly-enraging Bridge to Terabithia) is grievously mistaken in their belief that Susan Cooper's settings don't matter. No one can say of her books "the plot's the thing" and ignore the locales. From Kemare Head to Huntercombe, from Tywyn to Greythorne Manor, from Aberdyfi to Stanton Farm to Tal y Lyn and Mount Badon, The Dark Is Rising inextricably intertwines character and plot with setting, resulting in a seamless, truly British whole. This American film version, this shift from specifically British locations to Anywhere, America, is an indignity to the writer and the readers who loyally and lovingly read and reread.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Way down upon the Ochlocknee River

A pair of text messages from me to my best friend, en route to Tallahassee from Tampa:

I think we're in Tallahassee, but I'm not sure.

Five minutes pass.

Oh, wait! That's the Capitol building.

This should tell you something about Florida's capital city, namely, that it does not deserve to be the capital of our glorious state. Bah.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Girl who sings blues buys stairway to Heaven

"I've noticed that no one changes the station when "American Pie" comes on; they always listen to the whole thing and sing along with the chorus. However, almost no one listens to "Stairway To Heaven" all the way through." (Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live, p. 144, middle paragraph)

Now how true is that? I know it's true for me. I, for unfathomable reasons, am quite fond of "American Pie". I listen to it every time it comes on the classic rock station in my car, and I sing along to all of it, not just the chorus. "Stairway to Heaven", however, is horrendous. When it comes on The Bone, I flip the station, then switch it back when I know the almost-end is coming up. I don't like 85% of "Stairway to Heaven" but I do like the bit which begins with "And as we wind on down the road".

I like Led Zeppelin, though. And I don't like Don McClean. Long-haired, side-pipe-rocking, Aleister Crowley-channeling Brits are way better than middle American everymen who write tributes to Fred Astaire and Vincent Van Gogh. So how come I can't stand most of "Stairway to Heaven" but know every word to "American Pie"? It's not like I have any visceral reaction or attachment to either song. Both are exceptionally overplayed and overrated by nearly every classic rock station in the US. Both pretend to be important and neither really succeeds. And I bet if you tried to play the opening bars of "American Pie" in a music shop, the bassist from Slaughter would rush up and stop you.

What was my point again?

Monday, April 23, 2007


I am convinced that the title of that famous Nazareth song is the result of a typo on the part of a mostly-illiterate typesetter who thinks that "heir" and "hair" are homonyms.

I am also convinced that the narrator of the Fall Out Boy song "Sugar We're Going Down Swingin'" is a gay man.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The books of the hour versus the books of all time

In other literary news (if literary can be used with regards to this next), Dan Brown has won a lawsuit against some Brit writers who say he stole their ideas and turned them into the worst best-seller ever.

All I can say is, can the literate free world sue Dan Brown for stealing hours of our time and Godknowshowmuch of our money?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Here come the Swedes with a clang and a bang

Thanks to Dooce, a website I shouldn't even read because it means that I'm a bad Mormon and on the road to apostasy (...well), I am presenting you with a few of the greatest TV ads ever created:

And of course

Those Swedes, man, they really know how to do it right. I mean, let's think about this. Sweden has produced, in the history of its being, stellar musical acts such as Abba, Roxette, and Yngwie Malmsteen, delicious meatballs, Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, and Bjorn Borg, cute little Uppsalan gnomes, and of course, Ikea. Clearly the main export of Sweden is rump-kicking coolness.

PS: I will marry whoever can tell me where I got the title of this post. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Service du jour

This article was of some interest to me, given that I work in the food service industry. I don't wait--I host--but of course I work closely with both customers and servers, and have ample opportunity to observe what people would consider to be "good" and "bad" restaurant experiences.

However, the article seems to focus mainly on the relationship between customer and server, forgetting that there are other factors needed to ensure a pleasant dining experience. Given that, I decided to add some things.

1. The customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is dead wrong (see #3, 4). Sometimes the server/host/busser/manager is perfectly entitled to choke said customer into submission, although one rarely takes this opportunity (pesky job security).

2. It's almost never the server's fault. Really the only time it IS the server's fault is if they, personally, screw up your order--as in, they write down/deliver a Mushroom Cheeseburger instead of a Turkey-Pastrami Melt. If your food is cold or takes forever in getting to you, it's more than likely the kitchen's fault.

3. The manager can do nothing if the restaurant doesn't serve breakfast all day and you feel like French toast. The decision to serve breakfast until whenever is not even the general manager's to make, and once the kitchen closes a certain section, why should they reopen it simply because your brat wants an egg sandwich? Make him one yourself, bitch. Or go to Denny's.

4. When the host tells you to sit somewhere, sit there. Don't point to an empty booth and say, "That booth's empty. Why can't I sit there?" The host generally has good reasons for seating you in a certain spot. If you demand a booth when she wants to give you a table, she'll probably seat you in the booth directly adjacent to the bathroom.

5. Don't whine at the prospect of a fifteen-minute wait. It's not that long, really. Go to the Cheesecake Factory and wait for an hour, then come to my restaurant and be grateful for fifteen minutes. Also, it's not the hostess's fault that the restaurant is full; she can't exactly tell people to leave so that you can sit down.

6. If you want to people-watch while you're eating, eat outside. Duh? The laziness of people confronted with the lack of outside wait staff is incredible. Don't say, "Oh, if there's no service outside I'll eat inside" and then proceed to whine when there doesn't happen to be a window seat available.

7. Don't camp. Order your food, eat your food, pay the check, leave: this is the proper order of restaurant dining. Sitting and talking at your table for nigh on three hours is not a permissible guilty pleasure; it's rude. The longer you sit, the fewer tables there are available in the restaurant and the less money your server makes.

8. TIP, DAMMIT. If you can afford to pay eight dollars for a sandwich, you can afford to leave a decent tip. Ever wonder why apparently all servers smoke, and smoke a lot? $2 on a six-person bill will do that to a person.

This all seems fairly petty, but when you get right down to it, restaurants are a luxury, not a necessity; I think America has forgotten this. As such, give and take is required on both sides--it's senseless to blame a "bad" dining experience on one person. I mean, hey...you could've cooked your own meal, and it probably would have been better anyway.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Big Three

Of the week, anyway. Since apparently I'm going to be the last person in the free world to see 300, I have to blog about other movies instead.

1. Hot Fuzz: All right, I think we can agree that anything containing Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, and Jim Broadbent is clearly comedy gold. Plus, have you ever interacted with a British cop? OH YEAH AND, this film's by the makers of Shaun of the Dead. Nothing more need be said, amirite?

2. The Lookout: Now here we have one of my perennial favorites, ever since he was on Third Rock: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Not to mention somehow he's morphed from lanky-haired awkward goofball into sssssizzle, with acting skills to boot. And hey, everyone likes guns, bank robbery, and Jeff Daniels!

3. Stewart the Duck: These here ditties are a little off the radar--okay, a lot off the radar--but they ought to be YouTube heroes. Would-be viral phenoms Tom, Jason, and Co. spoof, cavort, mock the Army, and eat Cheetos in excellent good fun. Go comment!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007



Dude. I've always wanted to do that without meaning to (clearly I'm already great at dangling participles). I can cross #13 off my list of Things To Do Before I Die.

Now to move on to Hugh Jackman.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The old razzle-dazzle

Am I the only one bored enough to be insulted by the lack of creativity abounding in articles about celebrities? Has anyone else noticed the strange circularity of the vocabulary used in fashion, movie, and music writing?

Well...probably. Anyhow, here are my top three most-overused terms in celebulary:

buttery: adj. used to describe the hair of every blonde female from Gwyneth Paltrow to Anna Nicole Smith to Kate Winslet to Helen Mirren. In other words, as long as it's some shade of blonde, it's 'buttery'. Ex: 'Reese sets off her orchid-tinted outfit with buttery but flyaway-topped tresses...' (MSN Oscars 2007: Undressed!)

pop: v. basically, spot-coloring. Anything from clothing to makeup to jewels to shoes can 'pop'. Ex: 'Choose lip colors that are natural...for a pop of color.' (MSN Shopping: Expert Makeup Advice)

chanteuse: n. any female singer ever. Genre not an issue. Ex: 'McLachlan isn't the only modern-rock chanteuse to throw her red felt hat into the ring this year...' (MSN Music)

On second thought, maybe the writers at People own a dictionary--clearly MSN is most responsible for these semantic crimes. They, too, give me my honorable mentions: modish and snaggle-toothed (oddly, both are usually used to describe Kirsten Dunst). I guess the moral of the story is, read what your Brit Lit professor assigns you and skip the famous people.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Le sigh

I confess that I am baffled. First, there's this, a New Yorker article about Joel Surnow, the creator of the cult TV show 24. Now, I have never seen this show and probably never will, so that means I'm unbiased, right? Or maybe it means I have no right saying what I'm about to say: that this show seems ridiculous, I can't see how it has so many fans, and how on Earth is it winning Emmys for portraying acts such as the ones detailed in this article?

However, 24 is not really the point. The point is, Joel Surnow, the "right-wing nut job" himself, apparently wants to make a pro-McCarthy movie...a movie which depicts McCarthy as an "American hero". All I can think of when I consider this hypothetical film is, Huh? I didn't know there WERE pro-McCarthyists! I didn't know that being anti-McCarthy was a liberal point of view--I thought it was an I'm-not-psycho point of view! Geez, people; the guy was crazy. He was a demagogue and he did imprison and blacklist and otherwise ruin the lives of plenty of people, some of whom were only guilty of occasionally wearing red lipstick. "It's not a movie I could get done now," Surnow says, and me oh my am I glad.

Then, there's the weensy fact that Bridge to Terabithia is getting good reviews. 74% positive on Metacritic and 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, to be exact. I can only conclude that none of the critics have actually read the book. Bah. Am I actually going to have to see this film??

Sunday, February 11, 2007


My logical side knows that hypocrisy is not a crime. If it were, what would we do for government leaders? They would all have life sentences. However, things like this completely dispense with my logical, rational, equitable side and bring out the roaring feminist within.

Actually, scratch that. This is not about feminism. This is about common sense. I'm not a feminist, and I don't have a lot of common sense, but I have enough to know that a mother breastfeeding her baby is not exactly a situation for lawsuits. Futhermore, this is America. Breasts are big business. They're everywhere, from movies to billboards to music videos to magazines dirty and otherwise. It is sheer hypocrisy to label a mother feeding her infant as 'indecent' or 'lewd' when more than half of the nation's population looks at tots daily. Where is these people's shame? To claim that 'men don't know what to do or where to look when a woman is breast-feeding in front of them' is sick and should be seen as such. Look at her face, you drooling idiot! Try and act like your IQ is higher than your sperm count. There is nothing, nothing sexual about a mother feeding her child, and there is no reason that men should feel awkward. A good chunk of them were breast-fed, I expect, and another sizable bunch see their wives' or girlfriends' breasts every day. Celebrities in Hollywood blockbusters flaunt their double-Ds all over the movie screen, yet an infant receiving its breakfast is despicable and should be hidden? Lame.

Another aspect of this situation is that many of the people taking offense are women. Does that make sense, or am I just old-fashioned? Why would women be taken aback by the sight of something that they personally possess? One of these women commented on a magazine cover which used a photograph of a nursing baby; she said, I don't want my husband or son to accidentally see a breast they don't want to see. From this woman's comment, can we assume that she and her husband have never seen one another unclothed? And she better not believe that her son's never seen boobies, 'cause that's just wishful thinking.

Certainly, it's preferable to find a private place to feed your kid. But if that's not possible, and often it isn't, what's more annoying: a screaming baby or the possibility of the public seeing something 99% of them have already seen, numerous times? Come on. No one in this country can grow up without seeing tots, and lots of them--girls have them, boys like to look at them. It's stupid to say otherwise, and it's hypocritical to pretend offense when a woman breast-feeds her infant in a public place. Our society sees breasts as sexual, but that same society is what has turned breasts into fantasy objects. Breasts are there for a purpose, and that purpose is to feed children. Deal with it or go find a nice cave, you self-righteous Puritans.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Kicking butt, spraining ankles

Despite my slow-but-sure assimilation into the world of comic books (zomg Immortal Iron Fist!), I still have one problem with the whole shebang.

The women. No, I'm not going to go off on some feminist rant about how no comic artist has ever drawn a less than modelesque superheroine/villainess--you have to be a feminist to write things like that, for one thing. My problem does lie partly in their appearances, but I don't really care that they're all apparently 42-39-56. I care more that they seem to save/destroy the world while wearing thigh-high stiletto boots, white lingerie (I mean...come on. White? Clearly written by a man), and generally scanty outerwear which would, in a realistic situation, provide not-very-much protection. And they overwhelmingly have long, flowing hair.

The innate sexism in comics aside, this is just stupid. If I were fighting an opponent, particularly a male opponent who is theoretically larger and stronger than me, I would much rather be wearing, say, very lightweight Kevlar. NOT Spandex, NOT leather, and certainly nothing as exposing as the White Queen's typical gear (hello? That bare midriff is just begging to be stabbed). I can sort of understand why everything is so skintight; excess fabric gets in the way, I suppose (although I also suppose it might soak up some impact)--plus, a gal's gotta be able to move. But this is the Marvel universe, where S.H.I.E.L.D. can create fabric that never rips, shows bloodstains, or even bags at the knees! Surely they can come up with some sort of flexible body armor. Also, may I point out how impossible it is to run while wearing heels? No woman of any sense would choose heeled shoes as part of her alter ego's costume.

Then there's the matter of the hair. Back to this hypothetical fight--the dude I'm fighting, he wants to win. And we all know that no one (except maybe Captain America) fights clean. Seriously guys, it's not just a chick-fight thing. If my hair's waist-length, a man's going to do the same thing a woman would do: Yank all that hair flapping around in his face. It hurts to have your hair pulled, people know this, and in a fight, they're going to do whatever it takes to win. Who would give their opponent an extra weapon against them? Not to mention that hair also gets in the way of whosever head it's on...in the middle of a nasty fight, I want my peripheral vision to be free and clear.

So, my point is--I know that comics aren't real, that their unreality is at least half the coolness and fun, that the appeal of Emma Frost and Natasha Romanoff is that no real woman actually resembles them--but for goodness sake! At least give our heroines and villainesses a pair of sneakers!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jossaholics Anonymous

A weensy disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon. Honestly, if they managed to reproduce his essence of cool in, say, whiskey form, I'd have to start attending AA. Thus, if my drool starts oozing out of your computer screen, really--it's not my fault.

Okay then! Let's talk about Joss and his many excellent creations. Rather, let's talk about what the Big Three of Cult TV have in common (besides a mutual creator and general awesomeness). I would like to postulate that it is music. Not that the soundtracks of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, and Firefly are that similar; they're not. However, Joss's opinion of the importance of music is evident in all three series. Serieses?

First, we have the Buffy theme. AH, the Buffy theme. That creepy organ chord--that wolf howl--and then, Nerf Herder! Doing their darndest to shred your eardrums! I love it; I never get sick of it. Furthermore, the Buffy theme illustrates, within the 40 seconds of its existence, the delightful pastiche of teen culture and classic horror which came to signify the series itself. Which brings me to the rest of Buffy's music; from Dingoes Ate My Baby to Cibo Matto to Aimee Mann to Michelle Branch, the Scooby gang had a frippin' awesome soundtrack to their lives. Slayage to the beats of "Chinese Burn" never looked or sounded so fun.

For my money, the Angel theme is equally rad, if in a totally different way. It's darker, slower, and more classical--cello-rock, if you will--and fitting for a show on the whole more gritty than its parent series. As Buffy's theme illustrated the Buffy credo, so does Angel's theme show Angel's journey of redemption. Angel also gets its share of pop: the karaoke bar to end all karaoke bars, Caritas, is the scene of many a grand rendition, including Barry Manilow's "Mandy", Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and "Crazy" by Patsy Cline.

(Worth noting...an actual Buffyverse discography exists, including the movie soundtrack, the original songs written for "Once More, With Feeling", a compilation entitled "Radio Sunnydale", The Velvet Chain's The Buffy EP, and Live Fast, Die Never, an Angel soundtrack compilation. Groovy!)

And, at last, the boot-tappin' tunes of Firefly. Ah, was there ever a zanier television series? Space cowboys! What's more fun than zipping around outer space in duds straight out of Bonanza? The sadly shortlived show's theme, "The Ballad of Serenity", was composed by Joss himself, and performed by Sonny Rhodes. The soundtrack itself is a sometimes-bizarro blend of campfire fiddling and Asian white noise, reflecting the retro-futuristic nature of the show.

And there you have it: the secret to Joss Whedon's success. Good music, duh.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A lump in the throat

I'm not so huge on most of Robert Frost's poetry (though I acknowledge that his poems are not the easy, simple ye-olde-Americana-scratch-the-surface-and-get-more-surface rhymes that some people seem to think), but I am getting to like his literary criticism. "The Figure A Poem Makes", his most-oft anthologized essay, is lovely and lyric enough so that you can tell a poet wrote it, yet it remains clear, succint, and definite.

I kinda love it.

Admittedly I enjoy reading literary criticism, period. I love Orwell's essays in particular (possibly even more than his novels), and Martin Kellman's T.H. White and the Matter of Britain is brill, but Frost's essay on the nature of poetry left me a little dizzy. I actually read it three times in a row, and I never read anything for American Lit classes more than once. (Not even "The Waste Land". Ick.) Frost manages to articulate ideas and give structure to thoughts of mine that have only ever been ethereal; while reading his essay I felt that essential recognition, the likes of which I have only previously experienced while reading White.

Anyway I'm about to quote, and with relish.

"If it is a wild tune, it is a poem...to be wild with nothing to be wild about."(The joy found in the everyday--the telling of the mundane in a way which is anything but.)

"For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew."

"Scholars get their [knowledge] with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields."

"Read [a poem] a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a petal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went." (The pleasant shock of discovering something in pages read over and over.)

Longwinded, yet deserving, I think. Frost's words can be applied not only to poems in their technical sense, but any writing with the smoothly lyrical, off-kilter and frightening, or purely lovely qualities of poetry. Even prose, at its highest, is a form of poetry and contains the joys of remembering things we didn't know we knew, of recognition, of sparkling newness.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Amalgam universe

At long last, Tampa has deemed Pan's Labyrinth worthy of its screenspace. Only about a month late, but as they say, better late than never. A towering fantasy of a film, Guillermo del Toro's newest is great. Those expecting a pure fantasy will probably be a bit disappointed, but for my part, I was enthralled. The balance of fairy stories and history seemed just right, and for someone a little obsessed with the Spanish Civil War, the historical backdrop to fantasy was welcome. The two plotlines feed off one another and come across as natural, while there is evidence aplenty to support either the idea that everything is in Ofelia's head OR that the fantastic elements actually occur. Del Toro has done an astounding job keeping the ending (and indeed, entire movie) beautifully ambiguous.

At the risk of sounding overwrought, I don't recall the last time I was so absorbed into a movie. Go see it, right now.

In other news, two adaptations I'm excited about, and one I'm excited about on behalf of most of my friends:

a) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. ZOMG one of my favorite fantasy series OF ALL TIME. Committed to...okay, television. HBO is turning Martin's as-yet unfinished masterpiece into a seven-season miniseries. Why oh why do I not have cable?

b) Atonement by Ian McEwan. Considered by many to be his greatest achievement, the upcoming film stars Keira Knightley as Cecilia. I would have chosen her for Briony, but that's just me. In any case, it's an Ian McEwan novel, on film. YAY!

c) Metal Gear Solid. No link because there's nothing to see, yet, but...dang, another videogame film. At least Uwe Boll isn't directing this one. I vote Eric Bana for Snake please!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...