Flip Through

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bad day

#s 383, 384 of Things Which Piss Diana Off:

-the sudden plethora of goddamn blow job songs (I'm looking at you, "Addicted", "Crazy Bitch", and all versions of "Lollipop"). I like oral as much as anyone, but srsly. The "it's only hot if I'm shoving her head down" meme is sick.

-people who mix up "white elephant" and "Secret Santa" parties. This is what comes of being functionally illiterate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let my dreams unfurl

I had the intense, nearly orgasmic, pleasure of seeing Kamelot live once more recently, and something occurred to me: one or more of the band members have a real problem with God, or at least organized Western religion.

Which is fine by me, but I sort of wonder why it's taken me so long to notice, especially if you consider a few of Conception's very anti-religion songs (Conception being the other super-awesome delicious band Roy Khan was part of). I mean, look at 'em: when Kamelot isn't...

+singing about some sort of vague karma, heh heh ("Karma") or Hindu-ish life cycle ("The Haunting", "Love You To Death", "Soul Society"),

+they're openly defying or denying the white male Christian god ("III Ways to Epica", "Soul Society" again, "We Are Not Separate", "Center of the Universe"),

+or taunting the audience with images of an uncaring deity ("Abandoned", "Eden Echo", "Across the Highlands", "Farewell", "Mourning Star") with an evil regent on Earth ("The Inquisitor"),

+a sympathetic demon-figure ("Descent of the Archangel", "March of Mephisto"),

+and, well, Hell ("Black Tower", "A Feast for the Vain" );

+or brandishing their own self-sufficiency ("Rise Again", "Up Through the Ashes", "The Fourth Legacy", "The Edge of Paradise", "Wings of Despair", the "Elizabeth" cycle, "Moonlight", "Anthem").

+They also have a tendency to remake Christ in purely human form ("The Human Stain", "Up Through the Ashes" again, "Birth of a Hero", "Moonlight" again).

+It should be noted that all of these apply to "Nothing Ever Dies".

Whew! Seems to me that Kamelot are a bunch of agnostics at the very least (or maybe pandeists)... Conception, on the other hand, seem to favor textbook Satanism. Their choice gems: "War of Hate", "Among the Gods", "The Promiser", "Parallel Minds", "Soliloquy", "Under a Mourning Star", "A Million Gods", "Gethsemane", "Angel", "Reach Out", and the double whammy of "My Decision"/"Missionary Man", in which any variety of religion-related topics are discussed, including false prophets and preachers, sacrifice, self-reliance and/or the setting-up of oneself as a god, denial of deity, the silliness of the sects, the possibility that Jesus kind of resented being sacrificed, and hey kids, Lucifer is your buddy!

(Kamelot also obviously has a bit of a King Arthur fetish, clearly; if the name wasn't proof enough, check out "The Shadow of Uther" and "Once and Future King", and (if you ask me) "Karma". This band really caters to my own set of obsessions.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Free people read freely

The right to read is celebrated during the last week in September, and as we have a notably anti-intellectual freedom lady running for Vice President, I'm taking this observance as an excuse to slack off my school assigned texts and indulge in a little Pullman, a little Lawrence, a little Twain.

Here's the list for 2007:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Interestingly, it seems that the emphasis has shifted from race to sex --any kind of sex. After all, everyone knows that "offensive language" and "unsuited to age group" are unimaginative code for "sexually explicit"; heck, within the context of His Dark Materials and And Tango Makes Three, "religious viewpoint" and "anti-family" are clearly indicative of sexual themes. Then again, fearing a natural human function makes almost as much sense as fearing a skin tone. I'm almost glad to see, though, that Huck Finn is hanging on at #5; however, I would venture that cries of "Racism!" are simply a veneer for the real thing fundies fear about Twain's classic: its anti-authoritarian stance. The scene when Huck, fearing for his mortal soul, writes a letter turning Jim in...and then tears it up, declaring, "All right, I'll go to hell", is, I assume, the most frightening scenario any conservative can imagine.

I'm also glad to see that people have finally left off James Joyce. Why bother attempting to ban Ulysses? Anyone who claims to have read and understood it is probably lying.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tell your friends!

Okay, so, remember the part where Joss Whedon is God? Yeah. Reaffirmed by his new project, the online miniseries of Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

I mean really. Stars Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion? Check! Supervillain wannabes, evil horses, homeless folks, asshole superheroes, and laundromats? Check! Quintessentially Whedonesque one-liners and staging? Check! Musical goodness? CHECK! The series, in three acts, covers the sad tale of a would-be supervillain (Neil Patrick Harris in the title role) on the Evil League of Evil (run by aforementioned evil horse), and his many defeats, both in love (with spicy laundress Penny, played by Felicia Day) and in combat (by the "corporate tool" Captain Hammer, played by Captain Tightpants himself, Nathan Fillion). Prime singing abounds on the part of all cast members, Freeze Rays are created, tight goggles and shirts are proudly worn; Harris the villain is sympathetic, shy, and full of pipe-dreams and bad intentions, and Fillion delectably awful as the muscly jackhole Hammer--everything is here.

Whedon, because he is a compassionate deity, posted all three acts of the series for free from July 18th through July 20th, and both the series and its soundtrack are now available on iTunes, if you missed it. There'll be a DVD edition this fall, complete with any number of tasty extras, including shiny new musical numbers by the cast.

He's done it again, kids. Download it now, buy the DVD in the fall, or be like me and aim to do both, but give it up somehow for Whedon and Co. for delivering laughs, music, and heartfelt villainry in the perfect dosage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One thing Ben Stein and Co. got correct

Evolutionary theory makes no claims about the origins of life.

Okay, that's done, now how about a million (or so) things that the so-called documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed gets wrong?

Let's see--how about the selective quoting of Darwin's Descent of Man to back up the shaky link between Darwinian theory and eugenics, which happens to leave out telling and significant bits which actually show Darwin as being anti-eugenics? How about the use of the term "Darwinism" in order to sell evolutionary theory as a completely unified school of thought,
despite the fact that evolutionary science is now synthesized between natural selection and genetic theory? How about the claims that no dissent against this "Darwinism" is allowed, despite the myriad arguments against various tenets, many of which often become accepted into the theories when they provide sufficient scientific data? How about the attempts to claim Intelligent Design as a science, when as something that is scientifically untestable it simply doesn't qualify? How about the disgusting and ham-handed use of Holocaust imagery? How about the creative editing of evolutionary biologists' quotes?

Face it: Expelled is irresponsible and scientifically incorrect. The teaching of Intelligent Design does not belong in science courses, because Intelligent Design is not science. Save it for comparative religion and philosophy, kids.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Homo Vasconensis (or, in which it is confirmed that Diana is a huge dork)

Anthropology may be proving the Basques right (unless you're a lumper). See, the paleontological discoveries at Sierra Atapuerca in Burgos in northern Spain are, according to their finders, a species apart from both earlier and later versions of Homo. It is purported that the skulls of Gran Dolina Boy and others are neither Homo erectus nor Homo heidelbergensis but another species: Homo antecessor, the ancestor to the neanderthal and sapiens lines.

There could be something to it; the bones identified as antecessor are the oldest yet found in Europe, save for the fascinating transitionary fossils found at Dmanisi in Georgia. Since the trendy line of thinking utilizes heidelbergensis as the probable antecedent to sapiens and neanderthalensis, the even older fossils at Atapuerca and La Gran Dolina are the logical predecessor to the heidelbergensis finds from various sites in Europe.

Well gee! Dating from 1.2m to 800,000ya, antecessor seems to live up to its name...if it isn't an offshoot of ergaster or the same species as heidelbergensis. Really, it depends on what side of the model and assignment arguments you're standing. Juan Luis Arsuaga, one of the antecessor discoverers, even claims that the species living in Spain commanded a symbolic, logical language. Associated tool findings show an Acheulian assemblage, indicating a dispersal out of Africa. Antecessor's proponents declare it to be the last common ancestor to both Neanderthals and early moderns--and thus, the ancestor to ourselves.

And look where it's located...right up there near the Basque country. Though situated in Castile-Leon, Burgos is close enough to Euzkadi's borders to be more than coincidental, don't you think? Maybe the famous Basque declaration of "first humans in Europe" isn't too far-fetched after all. I'm betting by and large that Basque anthropologists are splitters. While more of a lumper myself, I think it's about time we stopped using erectus (and by extension, ergaster and heidelbergensis) as a dumping ground. In this case, I may be willing to suspend my suspicions of carefree splitting--even if that willingness is due more to my fondness for Basque cake than paleoanthropological evidence.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Devil women

Why are all metal frontwomen so damn hot? I mean really. Most metal men aren't hot (the demigods of Kamelot excluded), so how is it that the most masculine of music genres, heavy metal, gets the most dollsome lady singers?

Cristina Scabbia, Lacuna Coil:

Anneke van Giersbergen, The Gathering:

Simone Simons, Epica:

Shannon den Adel, Within Temptation:

Tarja Turunen and Anette Olzon, once and future voices of Nightwish:

You see what I'm saying? And they can sing, too--ridiculous! Maybe it's because all the good metal comes out of Europe anyway. Good genes and all that. Hmmph.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Really awful books

I like to read so much that every now and then I read things which are terrible just so I can take a break from all the usual rhapsodizing.

So without further ado (and it is ado, people, not adieu), we have the Top Ten Books Which Make Diana's Brain Itch!

10. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. It hurts me to put this on here, because I adore Thomas Hardy, I really do. But it is so very, very awful. Man loses wife and child in a bet? What? This, I believe, was Hardy's lone delve into opium. What you should read instead: Anything else by Hardy. Really. Including his poetry.

9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Again, I love Dickens to death, but, along with so many other bona fide geniuses, he's like the girl with the curl right in the middle of her forehead--when he's good he's very good, and when he's bad, he's horrid. Pip, go choke. I'd rather read about Barnaby Rudge and his blackbird. What you should read instead: Dombey and Son, Bleak House, and David Copperfield.

8. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I really don't like Virginia Woolf, period, and this technically is not as bad as Orlando, but both are simply exercises in egotism. People who write specifically to change the shape or style of writing are rarely my friends. What you should read instead: if you HAVE to read Woolf, To the Lighthouse.

7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It isn't just that her politics are loathsome; her characters are cardboard cut-outs representing ideas, and the entire work serves an agenda other than story and character development. I guess I'm old-fashioned. What you should read instead: Anything else by anyone else that isn't on this list.

6. Blood Canticle by Anne Rice. Interview is okay, Armand is pretty fun, but Blood Canticle is tripe. Actually, most of Anne Rice is angsty nonsense, albeit nonsense with hot vampire-on-vampire action. What you should read instead: Queen of the Damned.

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Trashy people doing trashy things. Ugh. What you should read instead: Tender is the Night.

4. Everything Ernest Hemingway wrote ever except For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Movable Feast.

3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Whine whine whine, angst angst angst, my sister is smarter than me, wonky "message" at the end. Poor little rich boy. What you should read instead: nothing by Salinger, that's for daaaaamn sure.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm sorry, Matt, I really am, but I just cannot pretend to like these books any longer. Long, overweeningly descriptive, dull, long, full of bad poetry and ditties, excessive tendency to borrow from Germanic myth, long, dull, and did I mention long? What you should read instead: The Silmarillion (not even kidding).

1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. And I'm not even religious! The writing is overwrought, the characters are weakly stereotypical, the plot borrowed at best, and the "facts" incorrect. Utter drivel. What you should read instead: don't read Dan Brown. Burn Dan Brown.
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