Thursday, November 28, 2013

On First Looking Into American Free Verse

A poet is a very Spoiled creature:
Proper punctuation — is regarded −
of secondary import − to the rest —
Consistent Meter — need not be followed — because he's an Elitist
Nor do all lines —
Have to be the same length — or follow a considered Design —
But Repetition is artistic — because you're an Elitist
Inserting syllables has been allow'ed — and —
omitting them — that made no sense but Clarity and Reason
do not matter - 'cause I'm an Elitist

See that shift from 3rd to the 1st person?
Was that not profound and 'genius?
A symbol of change in poetic theme —
And the author's expanding egotism — that's really important, BTW.

A Bird just sung outside my writing office —
Why should you care? Because it is a Picture —
Of my internal Conscience and its wanderings —
I'll write whatever crosses upon my mind — 'cause I am an
Narcissistic Elitist

I am like some irrational thing from Nature that −
regardless of its animality — exhibits human traits —
And reminds me of myself —
Nature is my second Half −- without which I am nothing — because I'm a
Air-headed Elitist

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Lessons of Gallic History

For those of you who insist on thinking that millennia-old, dead, white, heterosexual, European males have nothing of truth, insight, or relevance to say in the age of Progressivism, here’s a message from Caesar translated from his pure, journalistic Latin by yours truly in which he describes the religion and culture of the Americans Gauls.  ‘Footnotes’ on the translation and implications of his words have been enclosed in parentheses.  Forgive the stilted, repetitive, New York Times-quality reporting and recognize that the bland style is Caesar’s signature, not my own.  Shakespearean though his story was, a Shakespeare he was not, which is why I’ve decided to compile this Good Parts Version of his completely objective masterwork, The Gallic War.  As the first 5 books of this history can mostly be summarized as “Gauls offer Caesar’s commanders a deal, Caesar’s commanders gullibly accept their offers, Gauls pound the Hades out of Caesar’s commanders, Caesar sweeps in and saves the day”, we’ll jump right into the middle of the 6th book, which I find more substantive and interesting.

There are two classes of men in all of Gaul who are of any number and any standing.  For the common people, who risk nothing of their own accord, are held almost in the condition of slaves and are summoned for not a single council.  A great many give themselves up in slavery to the nobles (politiclass), who have the same rights over these men that masters have over their slaves, when they are burdened by debt or the oppressive level of taxes or the violence of the powerful.  But one of these two classes is the Druids (public “workers”), and the other the equestrians (elites).  The former take part in divine matters (institutionalized leftism), attend to public and private sacrifices (wealth erosion), and handle religious ceremonies: a large segment of young people congregate to these men for the sake of learning (how to profit as a Druid), and they are held in high regard among them.  For they most of all decide all public and private disputes, and if any crime (offense) has been committed, if (hate-)murder has been done, or if there is an argument over inheritance or borders, the same men give the decree and settle rewards and penalties; if any, either a private man or a people, has not abided by their decree (ideology), they forbid them from engaging in sacrifices.  This punishment is the most severe among them.

These, upon whom the prohibition has thus been enforced, are regarded alongside the number of ungodly and accursed men (bigots), and all forsake them and shun their approach and conversation, lest they take on anything of disadvantage from the contact, and neither is justice rendered to them when they seek it nor is any distinction shared with them.  One man, however, who has the greatest authority among them, rules over all these Druids.  When this man has died, either someone succeeds him if any excels out of the rest in rank (dynastic heritage, blackness, or womanness), or, if there are many equals, they contend by a (fraudulent) vote of the Druids and sometimes also by arms (name-calling, attack ad campaigns) for the leadership.  At a certain time of the year, these men take a position on a consecrated place in the territory of the Carnutes, which is held to be the middle region of all Gaul.  Here they convene, all who have disputes (personal political agendas), from every side and submit them to their trials and decrees.  The system is thought to have been discovered in Britain and brought over into Gaul, and now a great many who wish to learn that system deeply set out to that place for the sake of learning.

The Druids are used to being free of war and do not pay taxes together with the rest of the people; they have an exemption from military service and freedom from all public obligations.  Many come together into the system of their own accord, excited by such benefits, and many are sent by parents and relatives.  They are said to memorize a great number of verses (useless information) there.  And so some people stay in instruction (law school & environmental/urban education/women’s, gender, and sexuality/fill in the non-white race/social studies) for twenty years.

And they do not think that it is right to entrust these things to writing… They seem to me to have decided on this for two reasons, because they wish neither that the system be made known among the common people, nor that those who are learning develop weaker memory relying on writing… Furthermore they discuss many things about the stars and their motion, about the universe and the magnitude of the earth (its vulnerability to human life), about the nature of things (Darwinism), and about the force and power of the immortal gods (Mother Environment), and they teach (brainwash) the youth.

The second class is that of the equestrians.  These, whenever there is need and any war (election) arises… all engage in the war, and each of them has very many vassals and clients (political dependents and/or victimized props) around them in such proportion as each is the largest in class and forces.  They know of this single influence and power.

The whole tribe of the Gauls is very devoted to religious ceremonies, and for that reason those who have been afflicted with grave illnesses and those who are engaged in battles and dangers (poverty) either offer men (their more prosperous neighbors) as sacrifices in the stead of animals or vow that they will sacrifice and use the Druids as priests (tax collectors) for these sacrifices, because if the life of one man is not restored in return for the life of another man, they do not think that the divine will of the immortal gods (greater good of the people) can be pleased, and they have publicly instituted sacrifices of the same sort.  Others have statues (businesses) of an immense size, the limbs of which, having been woven together with wickers, they fill with living people; and when those have been set on fire (robbed into destitution), the men are killed (laid off), surrounded by a blaze (government obstructionism and penalties).  They believe that the sacrificing of those who have been arrested in the act of theft or of brigandage (the pursuit of profit through free-market capitalism) or of any crime is a favor (fairness) to the immortal gods (the proletariat/middleclass); but, when a supply of this kind (the bourgeoisie) fails, they even resort to sacrificing innocents (theworkingclass).

They especially honor the god Mercury (administrative state).  There are very many statues of this god: they hold that he is the inventor of all the arts (jobs) and that he is the overseer of roads and journeys (employment), and think that he has supreme control over the acquisitions of wealth and over trade.  After this god they worship Apollo and Mars and Jupiter and Minerva.  Of these they have mostly the same opinion that the rest of the tribes share: Apollo (socialized medicine) wards off diseases, Minerva (higher education) entrusts the beginnings of military works and of handicrafts, Jupiter (the supreme and lower courts, so long as they support abortion) holds the highest power of the gods, and Mars (Obama) directs wars.  Whenever they have determined to fight in battle (take blind shots at suspected terrorists), they generally devote to this god those things which they will have captured in the war: when they have conquered (withdrawn out of “fatigue”/“war weariness”), they sacrifice animals they’ve taken and collect the rest of the things into one place (indefinitely detain enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay)…

In the rest of their lifestyle’s customs they mostly differ from others in this, that they do not allow their children to publicly approach them (transfer the responsibility of raising said children to the state) except when they have grown up (reached 26 years of age) so that they can uphold duties in military service (the public sector), and they consider it dishonorable for a son of a young age to stand by in the presence of his father in public.

An appraisal having been made, husbands (male cohabitators) share so much from their own estate with the dowry as the wealth they receive from their wives (female cohabitators) under a bond of dowry.  The condition of all this property is jointly held and the profits reserved: whichever of them lives longer (wins primary custody in the divorce case), the portion of each falls to that one along with the profits of former times…

And those states (bureaucracies) which are judged to more suitably manage their own government (the federal one, that is) have made it binding with laws (mandates/opinions/edicts/regulations) that if anyone has heard anything about the state from neighboring tribes by rumor or common talk (unsanctioned, private news sources), he should report to the magistracy and not communicate with anyone else (leak incriminating information)…

The magistrates conceal those things which seem should not be revealed and share those things which they have judged to be of use to the masses.  To speak about the state is not permitted except through an assembly.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Force of Gravity / Ender's Lame

The black and lonely reaches of space have long provided the setting of many a famous horror film. Ridley Scott’s Alien pitted man against a terrifying monstrosity of nature in all its chaotic violence, using a buglike menace to make audiences feel the full depth of human weakness against the unknown. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 likewise expounded the terrifying reality of our mortal frailty, but instead of focusing on a war between man and nature, Kubrick wove an intense and credible yarn about technological shortcomings and the propensity for creation to rebel against creator.  Even in video games, storytellers have seized upon the medium of outer space to toy with audience’s greatest fears, with Visceral’s graphic but effective Dead Space series being the outstanding example in its field.  Out of all the space horror stories, though, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is undoubtedly the most plausible, realistic, and visually breathtaking, if not quite the scariest.  There are few genres in cinema that can inflict a greater emotional payload than the “lone man” survival story, and Gravity wields its pathos with a raw, unbridled ferocity, rendering it one of the best films I’ve yet seen in theaters.

The narrative is simple and methodically paced, taking not 10 minutes to introduce each of its 4 or 5 characters (all but two of which are instantly expendable, like Guy from Galaxy Quest) and establish a scene of gentle but uneasy calm before launching into the events so dramatically depicted in the marketing campaign.  An opening text crawl presses that “life in space is Impossible”, not so much to state the obvious as to set up the appropriate mood for the story; at the same time a single musical note climbs to a deafening blast, then cuts to silence with a camera that seems to orbit the earth from the heavens.  Eventually an American space shuttle catches up to this camera, which proceeds to fly around its hull effortlessly and track the activities of the various astronauts working on the Hubble Telescope outside it.  From the start, the film focuses on two individuals: Matt Kowalski, a cool and collected veteran space walker who glories at the magnificent wonders of space without regard to its dangers, and Ryan Stone, a relatively inexperienced “Mission Specialist”, which Hollywood fact-checkers inform me isn’t the same position depicted in the movie as if I care when I really don’t.  The beauty of the earth from their vantage point is striking, and the solitude of space seems utterly peaceful, but this delicate peace cannot sustain itself for long.  When a missile unexpectedly decimates a Russian satellite, Mission Control at Houston reports that deadly showers of debris are flying towards them faster than a speeding bullet.  Needless to say, what ensues is a disaster of incredible proportions which tears the shuttle apart in spectacular detail and dislodges both Stone and Kowalski into the harsh and empty void of space, leaving them with little oxygen, a nearly depleted jet thruster, and a narrow timeframe to reach the closest space station and hitch a ride home.

The camera doesn’t appear to break once during the entire opening sequence even when the action starts to take effect, and the whole film is populated with similarly lengthy and apparently unbroken shots that should be a familiar signature to anyone who’s encountered writer and director Cuaron’s previous work in the well-received apocalyptic drama Children of Men.  I haven’t seen that movie myself and I wasn’t overly impressed by his other, more renowned English-language film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but the direction and cinematography here are truly mesmerizing and sometimes jaw-dropping in their naturalistic effect.  What I expected to be a gimmicky and gratuitous trick like 3D turned out to be a powerful instrument for drawing the audience into the story and making them feel like 1st-person witnesses to real perils and calamities endured by astronauts.  To parrot an oft-repeated trope from the critical community, the camera in Gravity really does represent a kind of 3rd character in this concentrated narrative of survival, imparting to viewers the same sensations of weightlessness, confusion, and overwhelming mortality that the protagonists, specifically Stone, wrestle and overcome with time.  Cuaron’s application of 3D also signifies the first time I would recommend the medium in a motion picture, not so much because I experienced its added effects, having seen it in 2D, but because I felt the prevalent and somewhat distracting weight of its absence.  As opposed to most movies that either thoughtlessly throw a slim handful of random things at the screen or make no effort to justify the ticket surcharge at all, Gravity consistently dangles people and debris in front of the viewer’s eyes throughout the whole 1.5 hour running time to create an immersive and probably dizzying bond with those sitting in the theater.  The movie still looked fabulous in the standard presentation, but I got the impression that I was only receiving half of the storytelling’s impact. Regardless of what format one chooses to watch it in, Gravity should definitely be beheld on the largest screen possible, as it will easily be picking up nominations and likely awards for all the technical aspects of filmmaking, from its cinematography and editing to its phenomenal special effects.

Whether its two stars will receive any prizes for their involvement remains an entirely different question, one I’m inclined to answer negatively, not because Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play their parts poorly by any measure but simply because their characters probably aren’t as complex or demanding as many others we’ll see this year.  Clooney deftly imbues Kowalksi with all the sardonic pluck and larger-than-life egotism that his roles always possess; in other words, he’s basically playing the same on-screen persona that you either love or hate by this point, but he does succeed at easing the viewer’s fears as well as Stone’s through humor and his ever upbeat demeanor, which is an admirable feat.  Bullock likewise gives a great performance as Stone, perfectly exhibiting the heroine’s fierce contest between strength and terror, resolve and despair, and making such forces genuinely palpable.  In the end though, despite a couple of backstory twists that surface early on in the film, she’s really just playing a physically and emotionally weak woman who faces death head on and majestically emerges as a resilient and godlike titan. As with The Blind Side, the theme is triumphant, the character inspiring, and Bullock’s performance exceptional, but critics have rather overblown just how worthy the role is to merit a reward.

Still, the acting is just as superb as any of the visual elements, and if I were to identify a single major flaw in this survival thriller it would only be that it’s a survival thriller.  The intrinsic pitfall that any director aiming to tell a survival story faces is his audience’s subconscious foreknowledge that at least someone in the narrative is going to survive.  Since Gravity whittles the list of possible survivors down to two within the very first scene, the film sacrifices a lot of the suspense that it might otherwise have sustained if the story had more players and gave less certainty as to who would make it out alive.  While the catastrophic events captured on screen are certainly thrilling and intense, they’re not truly suspenseful due to the predictable obligations of the plot.  Riddle me this: if the movie’s only a half-hour in and the main character appears to be imperiled, is she really imperiled?

Nevertheless, this is a totally non-unique complaint that only slightly detracts from the equally beautiful, horrifying, and pulse-pounding experience of watching Gravity.  A heroic and mythical story that almost seems too simple at face value, it can be appreciated, discussed, and interpreted on a literal and a metaphorical level, symbolizing both the abject dangers of life beyond our world and the journey of a soul from spiritual ambivalence to humility and faith in a higher being than man.  So long as Hollywood keeps churning out movies like this, I’ll continue to gravitate towards my theater.

Grade rating: Mass * Acceleration = A-

Sub-note: I see that there has been a small degree of controversy revolving around the filmmakers’ decision to garb 40-something Sandra Bullock in a form-fitting tank top and shorts instead of a more realistic, spacefarer’s diaper, while the decision of those filmmakers behind We’re The Millers to (un)dress 40-something Jennifer Anniston in something even smaller has been unilaterally ignored or applauded by the same sowers of said controversy.  Such critics need to get a replacement pair of eyeballs.

Trailer Reviews
The Counselor – Between Alien, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, and Gladiator, Ridley Scott has built a mostly successful filmography (until he sacrilegiously defiled his own sci-fi legend with Prometheus), but this just looks like ultraviolent cow dung headed by a mostly mediocre cast.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – Stupid name aside, this looks like an awesome premise for some straight-to-DVD, slapstick poppycock.  But it’s not a straight-to-DVD movie, and the preview wasn’t that funny.
Grudge Match – Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky returns to the boxing ring for a 6th time, only this time he isn’t technically playing Rocky, he looks twenty years older, and he’s fighting alongside Robert De Niro, who also looks twenty years older than he did in... never mind – he was never an action hero in his youth.  We’ve obviously seen this before, albeit without the admittedly funny mockery of hiring boxers to motion-capture themselves for 21st century video games.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Complex – Adapted from a series of books I hadn’t read or even heard of up to this point by the recently deceased thriller legend Tom Clancy, this appears to be loaded with shaky camera, but the trailer does climax with an awesome scene of a van ramming off a tall bridge, Inception-style.  The cast led by Chris Pine and Keira Knightley has a decent track record and the direction of Kenneth Branagh, who has brought us such Shakespearean masterpieces as Henry V and As You Like It on top of popular blockbusters like Thor, leaves me more optimistic about this than I would ordinarily be.
August: Osage Country – Ah, The Lumineers’ ‘Stubborn Love’.  The quintessential sappy movie trailer song.  Stay home and listen to it 20 times instead of giving more money to Meryl Streep for a movie that has ridiculous dialogue.  (Grandma talking to a teenage girl) “You’re so big!  LOOK at your BOOBS.  Last time I saw you you looked like a little boy.”
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug – The most outstanding thing about this preview was how unnatural it looked in 2D.  The CG animation and New Zealand landscapes look spectacular but simultaneously weird without the 3rd dimension to complete the illusion that Middle Earth is dancing in front of my eyes.  Anyway, it’s clear by this point that Peter Jackson took way too many liberties with Tolkien’s book to stretch this unexpected journey over three parts.  Even if Legolas does court some other elf in one of Tolkien’s supplementary LOTR short stories, I fail to comprehend how that sideplot and many others are remotely tied to The Hobbit’s narrative crux, viz. Bilbo’s adventure there and back again.
The Monuments Men – Why George Clooney chooses to pursue a career in writing and directing movies instead of just making commercials for the Democrat National Committee continues to baffle me, as every one of his projects so far (Good Night and Good Luck, The Ides Of March) has been little more than a vehicle to propagate his frankly asinine views on American government.  To quote Clooney himself, “Freedom of speech means you have to let the idiots speak, and that’s the unfortunate thing... This guy clearly wanted to create problems... but the simple truth is that in order to make [democracy] work, the idiots get to have their say, too. And that’s unfortunate.”  Allegedly based on a true story about preservationists who try to protect historical documents, monuments, and artwork from the Nazis in the infernal chaos of WWII, Monuments Men doesn’t seem to have to most riveting or heroic subject matter but is graciously less politically charged at face value, even with the presence of Matt “Everyone should contribute more support for public schools except I, who will continue sending my daughters to expensive private schools” Damon.  At least there’s Bill Murray to compensate for these two idiots, and John Goodman is returning to play the same smartalecky guy that John Goodman always plays.

And it is here that I must defer to The Author’s Files first (real) guest writer, my good brother Phil M. Komen Tory, who will be giving us the run-down on the film adaptation of Ender’s Game, because he wasn't smart enough to heed my boycott.

Overcrowded, multilayered, concept artsy – why don't we see more Star Wars-y posters like this?

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.  I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.  And then, in that very moment when I love them–”
“You beat them.”

Such are the words of Andrew (Ender) Wiggin to his sister Valentine.  Ender Wiggin is a third child in a society where couples are limited to have only two children – incidentally this information is not actually given in the movie despite several allusions to the fact.  He is a social outcast, a situation that is only worsened by the fact that he is also one of Earth’s brightest adolescents and is enrolled in a school that trains children for a future military career.  When Ender’s monitor – a device that allows his teachers to see through his eyes and hear his thoughts, thus aiding them in their evaluation process – is removed, he is tormented by both older children at his school and his older brother at home.  As Ender soon learns, however, this was a merely his final test before entering battle school, where he begins his military training, which takes place in the form of zero gravity battles between the different “armies” of students.  Here he is tormented further by jealous students, and Ender learns that a teacher by the name of Colonel Hyrum Graff is isolating him so as to bring out his full skill and potential.  Graff also introduces Ender to the mind game, a video game designed to mirror the players emotions and feelings, thus aiding the teachers in their evaluation of the cadets.  To reveal much more would be to spoil the entire film for you and so I shall say no more concerning the plot of the movie (not that it’s really worth seeing).

Before I tear this film apart digital limb by digital limb, I shall focus on one of the few positive aspects of the film, mainly Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford’s acting.  Asa Butterfield does a superb job as Ender, communicating through his expression what mere words cannot.  He also manages to convey surprising amounts of emotion even through his formal, monotone speech.  I was shocked witnessing Butterfield express Ender’s brutal instinct in several different scenes.  Harrison Ford too deserves a sizeable acknowledgement for his part in the film as the strict and heartless Colonel Graff, coming across as uncaring and impatient.  Everyone else, however, is boring, one-dimensional, and utterly devoid of any purpose in the film except to be there.  Ben Kingsley does a decent job as Mazer Rackham, who unfortunately is about as interesting as dirt.  Abigail Breslin does an acceptable job as Valentine, who is equally boring, if not more so, than Mazer.  Viola Davis plays Major Anderson, who acts like your regular damsel in distress despite her rank.  I’m not sure whether I was supposed to think of Petra as a helpless, young girl, a tough battle school veteran, or Ender’s girlfriend.  Bean is an obnoxious twelve year old with an extremely annoying voice – which upon further reflection is shockingly comparable to Justin Bieber’s, not a pretty thought.  And Bonzo, Peter, and Stilson are your stereotypical bullies, although this is more the fault of the writers than of the actors themselves.

Gavin Hood and his crew took what’s probably one of the best books I’ve read and turned it into a poorly executed mishmash of zero gravity battles, pretty CGI scenery, and boring, one-dimensional characters.  While Gavin Hood manages to stick the story in the first ten minutes of the film, Ender’s time at battle school is practically indecipherable from the book, mashing various battles and characters together and erasing certain characters entirely as well as chopping out half the book.  On a similar note, Ender’s brother, Peter, might as well have been written out of the script entirely. He appears in one scene, in which he is portrayed one-dimensionally as an evil bully who lives but to torment his brother, a picture very dissimilar to the book’s representation.  I was very disappointed to learn that Major Anderson had been cast as a girl… or perhaps it was an allusion to a much darker truth… Gavin Hood also turned the mind game, which in the book had been a metaphorical parallel to Ender’s emotional and moral development, into a half-explained precognition to a later scene in the film. Indeed, almost everything in this movie is left unexplained.  Gavin Hood attempts to fit too much into this one hour and forty-five minute film, and as a result, fails to finish most of what he starts.  For example, Ender is referred to as a “Third” as well as several comments that “stopping the buggers was what he was born to do”, and yet never is it explained that couples are permitted only two children in Ender’s time.  Hood also completely writes out chapters eight and nine.  Another pitfall of the short run time is that no one message is properly conveyed.  While Hood hints at several different themes, whether it be friendship, duty, or the internal struggle between good and evil, none is fully expressed and can only be discerned upon extensive reflection.

The visuals too fell short of my expectations from a film with a hundred and ten million dollar budget.  The spaceship designs for both the humans and buggers are uncreative and unoriginal.  The small, awesome bugger, ah, I mean “Formic”, ships that you see flitting around through the air in the trailer look like tiny Millennium Falcons in reality.  And those large ones? Well, they just look like the Decepticon invasion ships from Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  The human ships are hardly better.  The large, fighter carriers look like they could come right out of a Halo game, and the fighters themselves look no different from your everyday fighter jet.  The bugger planet is boring and consists entirely of dead wasteland and pointy obsidian rock formations.  The mind game’s graphics are shameful, almost insulting when compared to the highly detailed games of today, and the buggers, when finally revealed in the flesh, are sadly disappointing.  And all the poor graphics are reinforced by the simple cinematography and boring presentation of the film.

If you have yet to see the disaster that is Ender’s Game, I beg you to read the book instead and spend your time and money elsewhere.  This illiterate atrocity is not worthy of your interest or attention.  Gavin Hood ought to be exiled from the movie industry for his contemptible direction and screenplay.

Score: 4/10

Note: Phil M. Komen Tory now maintains his own blog at Opinionated under the pseudonym MiddleDude.  Not my suggestion.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Few More Random Thoughts

* Does this not look mouth-wateringly delicious?

* Finally, a headline in the newspaper with which I can agree.  Or maybe not...

* The sight of Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘pixie cut’ is going to haunt me until the end of my days, and that’s only a slight exaggeration.  Whoever wielded those scissors should be prosecuted for being fashionably illiterate and creating a public disturbance.  This girl is not on fire.  Change her back!

Now, if you will kindly excuse me while I retreat to my chamber and wallow in grief and horror at what I have witnessed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pithy, Random Thoughts

* A fashion reflection on prom/homecoming from a male who has little sense of what's fashionable and will never go to prom/homecoming:

* Objective, Method, Data, Analysis/Conclusion – Few would bother to question so standard a structure, but bringing a predetermined ‘objective’ into any kind of experiment is the root of all politicized science.

* If Carrie’s mom is a “religious zealot”/fundamentalist, and a fundamentalist is one who accepts the fundamentals of something, and that particular something happens to be the Holy Bible, and the Holy Bible teaches as a fundamental that we must be fruitful and multiply, and that to be fruitful and multiply we must of biological necessity have sex, and Carrie’s mom believes that God forbids sex in any circumstance, thus vowing human extinction despite numerous instances in both the New and Old Testament where God intervenes to save his people from annihilation by the earth or their own hands, and the extremism of that supposedly Christian but avowedly heretical belief is the entire basis for the stupid story, then the obvious conclusion is… what kind of dope was Stephen King smoking and how does anybody take him seriously?

* Moreover, how does anybody take a guy seriously who chooses to publish a direct sequel to a book he wrote more than 30 years ago which got an acclaimed movie adaptation at the time and didn’t need a follow-up?

* On twerking at school dances: isn’t the whole idea of a high-school dance to demonstrate, by a kind of rite of passage, that you’re dignified, mature, and respectful enough of the opposite sex to enter the world of adults?  But then I’m just a homeschooled introvert speaking here, so what do I know?
“They should let the kids do whatever they want”, even if it entirely defeats the purpose of the event.

* Scratch that last comment.  Having just watched Grease for the first time, I can say with certainty that high-school dances, both formal and informal, have nothing whatsoever to do with maturity, dignity, or respect, at least in so far as I’m deriving my worldviews from fictional movies that glorify drunkenness and debauchery.

* I hate generic, nonpartisan internet comments.  “I want the same health care Congress is getting.”  “People, we need to stand up and send our elected representatives a message: that they cannot take whatever they want, that we will vote every incumbent out next midterm because this, this is our land!”  “I’m a fill in my personal background who went to my doctor/got a pay cut last week/tried to apply for blah blah blah, and this economy is killing ME.  I really hope that Congress takes my totally irrelevant anecdote into consideration and makes the tough choices to help me and my family.”  “Where are the JOBS???”

* On “bullying” between footballers in the locker room: How do two grown men and professional tacklers go about “bullying” each other anyway?

* Earth to A&E: everyone liked the Robertson clan well enough before they all got Twitter accounts that pop up invasively during the program and started turning into a bunch of yuppies who play on gadgets or do yuppie things around town.  Let the rednecks be rednecks; break out the shotguns, frog chest, and fishing nets again.  And put away the wives’ makeup already; they don’t need it.

* All these football players donning pink accessories to “raise awareness” for some human ailment look like idiots.  How about you privately put aside a large cut of your $1M paycheck to research breast cancer instead of flaunting how compassionate and concerned you are for sports spectators who couldn’t care less.

* Before we fire literally everybody currently in Congress regardless of the politician’s voting records, respect or loathing for the Founding, and other merits or lack thereof, let’s fire literally everybody in the Vikings and the Giants.

* Just when I thought Once Upon A Time couldn’t get any more insulting to my intelligence, Mulan decides out of the blue that she’s really a Merry Man inside and gets a crush on Sleeping Beauty.  Thanks a lot, ABC, for your commitment to romantically depicting sexually deviant behavior even if it doesn’t enhance the plot or logically follow from the characters’ past decisions.  Why don’t you add a character dying from AIDS to the story while you’re at it, or have a bear eat Goldilocks after she gets busy with it, or make Prince Charming a polygamist.  Oh, wait, he already is.  This deserves a Hagaaaaay.

* Correction: My mom suggests the reason why Mulan reacts so miserably to the news of Sleeping Beauty’s pregnancy is because she’s secretly in love with her friend’s prince/husband/boyfriend/partner.  This explanation of the scene is far more probable and logical given previous episodes, but the acting and directing are both so bad that the resulting product looks like a botched coming-out scene.  “There’s something I need to tell you…”

* 5 episodes in, Marvel’s Agents of Shield is still one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen, so stupid that it might warrant a full review in the future, once I review the beloved animated fantasy Avatar, of course.

* I really haven’t been watching that much TV, contrary to what this post might suggest.

* I spend most of my free time playing video games instead.  Ba Dum Ching.

* Starbucks is urging “Congress”, and we all know whom that indicates, to “come together” and work out their issues to pass responsible reforms to the broken and ineffectual establishment they run.  You first, Howard Schultz.  Rest assured that my military-style assault weapons aren’t coming anywhere near your business until you stop running your mouth on matters your weak mind can’t comprehend.

* Moby-Dick – sucking up countless hours of students’ lives since Melville made a last-minute decision to put a 1st-person narrator and 10-page plot into the Encyclopedia Britannica of Cetology and Whaling.

* Even though virtually nothing happens until its 135th chapter, Moby Dick still beats the crap out of Starbucks.

* See what I did there?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why I'm Boycotting Ender's Game, and It's Not Because of Orson Scott Card

Once upon a long, long time ago in 1985 when the rainbow was just a natural symbol of God’s grace, people didn’t obsessively share their sex lives with the rest of the world, and legislators were occupied with more important things than the definition of marriage, like foreign relations with Russia and the ethics of wealth redistribution schemes, a guy named Orson Scott Card wrote and published a humble sci-fi novel called Ender’s Game about child prodigies whom the government enlists in a Battle School orbiting the earth in an concerted effort to find humanity’s next great military leader against an advanced alien civilization known as The Buggers.  If ever there was a book that cried out for a big-screen adaptation, it was Card’s, being chock-full of exhilarating zero-gravity gunfights, space battle simulations, and kids who are way smarter than their parents and pretty much all their elders.  Naturally I was excited when a movie version of the classic story was announced about a year back, even if the attached director, Gavin Hood, had nothing to his name but X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which has rightly earned its standing right up there with Daredevil and The Fantastic Four.  Like most good science-fiction tales, Ender’s Game features not just aliens and action but also thought-provoking examinations of many political and philosophical issues, primarily the justifications of war, the basic evil or goodness of man, and the ramifications of exploiting an individual to the good of the collective.

One thing that Ender’s Game doesn’t broach in the slightest is homosexuality.  Aside from the entirely coincidental and spontaneous fact that certain people, most of them oversensitive gays who need to perpetuate the myth that they’re a downtrodden victim class, have in the months leading up to this movie turned “bugger” into a “gay slur” (as distinguished from a regular slur) equivalent to “f___ot” (which isn’t a slur either), neither the book nor, most likely, the movie have anything to do with gay sex or even natural sex, period, but that didn’t stop homosexual activists from debauching a decent, unadulterated space saga with political opinions that none of Ender’s fans cared to hear.  Soon after the movie’s promotional campaign began to gain steam, a group of pop-culture enthusiasts and gay advocates called Geeks Out (I can’t write that with a straight face) who wouldn’t go to watch the movie anyway urged the author’s readers and sci-fi followers in general to boycott the film on the basis that Card is a Mormon, a homophobe, and a hateful bigot who will put every penny he collects towards suppressing homosexual marriage and reinstating state sodomy laws, ruled unconstitutional under Anthony Kennedy’s Sweet Mystery of Life passage.

In one of the more embarrassing gestures I’ve seen from the entertainment industry, the film’s distributor Lionsgate actually took this petty threat seriously and went out of its way to affirm that Card is indeed a hater and a monster and a bigot for supporting traditional marriage, but also that they have no reservations about profiting from his ideas and would encourage all moviegoers to see the film because of its nonexistent gay themes and the studio’s unwavering commitment to “gay rights”, whatever those may be.  And so it is that I find myself resigned to avoiding the film version of Ender’s Game until I can watch it for free at home, not because my money will end up with Orson Scott Card, but because my money will end up with the clearly amoral Lionsgate Studios and the lot of spiteful, arrogant, leftist turds who produced this feature.

In responding to the gay geek community’s protests against Card’s personal beliefs, Lionsgate itself acknowledged the obvious genetic fallacy of the boycott, pointing out that the story in question has nothing to do with homosexuality in any form.  Although this feigned “controversy” would never have gained notice had the studio chosen to ignore it, Lionsgate easily could and should have closed its rebuttal there, but the temptation to be politically correct overwhelmed whatever meager sense the company’s executives possessed.  Their official sort-of-apology reads as follows:
As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT [what is LGBT?] community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a company that is proud [we get it: you’re proud] to have recognized same-sex unions and domestic partnerships [neither of which is marriage, mind you, and neither of which Card wants to ban] within its employee benefits policies for many years, we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage [which is just that – a political action group supporting marriage]… Lionsgate will continue its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by exploring new ways we can support LGBT causes and, as part of this ongoing process, will host a benefit premiere for ‘Ender’s Game’.

In other words, Lionsgate’s heads are taking the proceeds they collect from a story generously loaned to them by Card and openly giving a big F.U. to the author by putting that revenue towards the promotion of acts that he morally opposes, as if to say that his own ‘bigotry’ and ‘hatred’ needs to be counter-balanced with ‘tolerance’ and ‘compassion’ from the movie studio.  This is the pinnacle of condescension and pretentiousness.

To see hypocrisy of an even lower sort, one need look no further than humanitarian director Hood and famed civil rights activist Harrison Ford, each of whom rushed to speak with gay groups about how archaic and hateful Card is and how inconsistent his views are with his novel.  Said Hood to the Advocate, “Orson wrote a book about compassion and empathy, and yet he himself is struggling to see that his position in real life is really at odds with his art.  The story of Ender is really a young person in search of his identity and in search of his own moral compass.  And so for me, it is so ironic that the writer of the work that has helped so many people, gay and straight to find empowerment, to feel empowered, to find their own moral compass” (because that’s all morality consists of: whatever makes you feel powerful) “– it’s very sad he himself is struggling with these issues.”  Harrison Ford added, “The question of gay marriage is a battle that Card lost.  I think we all know that we’ve all won.  That humanity has won.”

To paraphrase, Orson Scott Card is not just a religious kook and a bigot whom we should scorn for daring to espouse the beliefs that numerous Americans and the vast majority of the States hold, but is also a subhuman beast and a miserable, hateful wretch who lacks a moral compass because he abhors promiscuity and “unnatural relations” condemned by the Bible.  What we witness here is a prime example not only of the Hollywood establishment’s inaptitude for detecting the irony of their bitter rhetoric but also of their total disregard for ethical speech and conduct in the pursuit of wealth.  The statements from Lionsgate, Ford, and Gavin are essentially the theatrical blockbuster’s parallel of Julianne Moore playing a fictional version of Sarah Palin for HBO, then joining the crowd and mocking her at every opportunity after winning extensive coverage and awards.  To use a hypothetical comparison, imagine avowed socialist and Hugo Chavez fanatic Sean Pean starring as Hank Rearden in a film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and using the ensuing media attention to stereotypically denounce Rand as a genocidal and greedy 1 percenter whose only worthwhile achievement in life was giving him the chance to profit exorbitantly from her own work.

I’m not accustomed to boycotting films based solely on the cast’s or production team’s political ideology.  I recently went to see Gravity with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, of which a review is shortly forthcoming, despite my opinion that Clooney is a delusional nutcase who’s completely insulated from the real world, and Rob Reiner’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s gayest, most pro-abortion directors won’t dissuade me from consuming The Princess Bride enough times that I can recite its script backwards and forwards.  Nevertheless, to borrow one author’s intellectual creation and make millions of dollars in profit from it while maligning him as a hideous bastard and enemy of the human race is not just stupid and distasteful, but a downright disgusting display of sound, fury, and, yes, intolerance.  I’ll pass this one for now.