Oct 22, 2005

My Struggle

All right...It's about time I told you guys a horrible little secret about myself. Now, it's probably not as esoteric a thing as you might think. I'm not a junkie and I only worship Satan in my spare time. I don't crave chocolate and pickles so I know I'm not pregnant. Here goes:

I love Horror movies.

Yep. There, I said it. Now, I feel much better.

But there's a certain trend in the industry - but when is there not a trend in the industry - right now involving horror movies. Dawn of the Dead, The Fog, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, etc. And tonight I find out that Day of the Dead and The Crazies are now involved in this conspiracy.

I'm talking about remakes.

Yep, directors who don't feel like they up the ante on the classics are just flat out remaking them. I know I should be furious, being as I'm a purist and all, but really think about it.

You have to be as least as creative to remake a George Romero classic as to write and direct a masterpiece like Island of Frankenstein. The remakes used to be the bane of my existence, but I've come to realize what they really are: cheap imitations. And many of them suck. But I would rather watch the remake of Dawn of the Dead a million times than Saw one more time.

The guys(and girls, I suppose) who made Saw are no more creative than the people who remade The Amityville Horror. If you think so, did you actually even see the movie? I think it's kind of enjoyful to sit through a few remakes. There really isn't very much good popular American horror going on right now, but that is in my most humble of estimations. The Japanese have done some amazing things in the past few years. But, I caution you, if you actually dug Saw, you probably won't like some of the stuff I'm going to mention.

That gets to my next point, which completely contradicts what I said above in this column. Americans have no business remaking Japanese horror for American markets. The Japanese flicks are moody, long, and drawn-out, much like the horror movies of yore. The Japanese perhaps do not uphold the contemporary American filmmaking philosophy, which consists of fast cuts, fast action, and no story whatsoever. American remakes pale in comparison. Yet again, I would rather watch the American version of The Ring than Saw any day, but I digress.

I guess my main point is that I really dislike Saw and any movie just like it. So, don't watch Saw or any other movie I don't like. Or that you don't like. . .Unless I like it, then you should watch it.

Oct 14, 2005


"Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative"
-Kurt Vonnegut

It's a very strange idea, but in today's day and age, it's true. And I don't think Vonnegut is the pure pessimist that most people believe him to be. He's a humanist, after all, and he is severely disappointed in mankind, as are many people (including myself). I must express my trepidation, however, in delving into the subject we are about to encounter together (the I who is writing this now and the Me who will read it alone later and cry) without a palpable sense of self-awareness. No one I have read has accurately approached this subject without coming off in some idiotic fashion or one-sided way. There is something pertinent in what Mr. Vonnegut says, for the most part. It is a simplified version of what many people in America feel today: That there are only two sides to everything.

What a country!

What I find, though, is not that people are too dumb to imagine that another side exists or that two different opinions can be expressed without the collapse of the Union. It's just that one must be right. Each thinks his(or certainly her) team should be allowed to kick the winning field goal as the time runs out. Somehow they are both right in their minds, and I honestly don't think that can be the case in all instances.

But what do I know, huh? I operate on the Internet's dime, doling out opinion for free over this world wide web. If only I had a voluptuous set of breasts and an unquenchable thirst for having objects hastily thrust upon me, perhaps I would have more of a stake in this claim.

Or maybe not.

Either way, social security can be both good and bad for the nation and should be dealt with accordingly. I certainly do not see the program as the elderly cannibalizing the young, but I am also not a bloodthirsty, heartless conservative.

That was a joke.

I see things as clearly as possible. I, for instance, can be shaky on certain issues because I do not believe that everyone has a fair shake at things. Do I believe that the person should die a horrible death because of it? No. I just do not believe the system is set up to help everyone. Unfortunately, some of the people in this country do not get what they want. That is not promised and neither does it have to come to pass. I realize that, but it does not change my position.

I am a Populist in most cases, though it does not seem that way by the put forth in the previous paragraph. I believe simply that the American people should come first in this thing we happen to call a democracy. It is a very pessimistic position to hold, because I fear that most people do not get what they desire - even their necessities! - in this economy. But I also feel there is a sense of entitlement that is faulty as well.

Wait just a minute.

It is not the blacks or the hispanics or even all the types of Indians who have the entitlement fetish in this country. I fully believe that it is the rich who believe that they, not the "little guy", deserve the fair shake at society. They are burdened with having just most of the wealth and not all of it, and that is not fair. They have worked unbelievably hard to carve the country up just the way they like it, but not every volley is in their court.

What a shame!

But that is just my side of the argument. And it is a very small one. Even a cube has more than two sides, does it not? I have my reasons for what I believe, but there are many who do not suscribe to my certain set of social commandments. It's all well and good, but I understand all the sides. It's a lot to think about while putting together an argument for all of them, is it not? Perhaps, then, that is why it comes out so confused when people try to rationalize the argument for a polyphony of views, so to speak.

That is, including myself. The word agenda merely means a set of things to be considered, not a set of things that have to come to pass.

Oct 11, 2005

Some of us are just waiting for the buzzer to go off

I've been on this floating rock for twenty three years now, and I can finally say that I'm starting to figure some things out.

My latest epiphany happened upon me while in the midst of a purchase at the local University bookstore (sorry, OCBS), or rather, just after the purchase. I'd just bought an Elmore Leonard novel and a blue book for that midterm I've mentioned before - it went well, by the way, no thanks to you - and was heading out the door when I noticed the sensors by the door. I hadn't stolen anything, but I'll be damned if I didn't feel at least a little bit of anxiety while walking through those doors. I held my breath as I passed through the sensors, expecting to hear a buzz and see the flashing lights. I expected to get dragged away like the foolish crook I imagine everyone else thinks me to be.

Then I started to think.

I live my entire life hoping not to get caught. It can be quite a dream to be alive in this day and age. I don't have everything I want, but I certainly have enough. I love my life, and maybe that's why I hold my breath sometimes. I expect anyday now, the guy at the big customer service desk in the sky - whom I'm still not convinced is paying attention - is going to yank me out of this apathetic, walking slumber I've submerged myself into and say, "Hey, not so fast. What have you got in the bags there?"

I hope that's not how everyone lives his(or her) life, dawdling around in the shop, wasting time until he(or she. Sorry, I'm fairly insensitive!) makes the final purchase.

Or what if you don't even get to finish shopping? I was lucky. I got what I wanted and was out of there, but I don't know that it's the way I want my whole life to go. Suppose I don't get to browse around in all the sections I want to? Suppose I don't just want crime fiction. What if I want a little poetry or political science. Perhaps a bit of history would do the trick. Damnit, the humor section was going to be next!

Ah, but not so fast.

You've been having too much fun in there, walking around and intimidating the cashiers with your flippant attitude toward the mores of how to behave in the store. You've been doing nothing with your time in the store. You admire all the books on the shelves - the ones that are eternal - and you have to get your sorry ass out of the store. It's closing time, bub. Pack up what you can while they turn out the lights and get the hell out of there.

Or, you can try to put something on the shelves, even if it is just a little bit of dust, or maybe a smudge or two.

Oct 10, 2005

This is only a test. . .

Mark Twain once said, "Don't let school interfere with your education." He would be proud tonight, because I am learning one hell of a lesson. However, it is school that is causing, rather than inhibiting, my education. Midterms are like physicals; you dread them if you know they're coming but you can't help be satisfied with them if they go well. I have a feeling that the midterm I have tomorrow will refuse to comply with my request.

It is in the area of Romantic-era literature and I am afraid to say that I have not done the subject justice over the last two months. It's just as well, though; there's nothing I can do now except hold on and see where this ride takes me. I hope not far, however, because my grades have not awarded me much in the way of train, plane, or cab fare. I'll be lucky to get out of this college at all, much less with an array of satisfactory grades.

I have to credit Maran on this one, as she brought up an interesting point about my personality tonight. As I studied for this horrific and unjustly difficult exam, she thought it funny to point out that most people who go into tests with a certain amount of confidence and cool tend to do better on them than those who do not.

I procrastinate, panic, pander, and put off when it comes to school. I have always been that way and will be for the rest of my collegiate career, which will - hopefully - end on December 15, 2005. Pointing this out, of course, piqued my interest because she told me that I am one to freak out in advance, which is to say several days before the test, and them slowly ease into a calm just hourse before it is to begin.

What does that say?

Exactly what it implies. I am more prepared to neurotically fixate on the most immediate of tasks than to actually prepare myself for them. Let's just be happy that I don't live in an area that demands a need for preparedness and action.

So, tomorrow after the midterm, I'll be right and fit to describe my difference in opinion about this test. Until then, pray like hell for a snow day.

Flibbldy Floo

Right now, it is not quite midpoint in the semester. It is just a little bit left-of-center - as it may always be in my life - and I am left in a complete state of panic.

This is not a new feeling for me.

I live my life in a perpetual state of anxiety, or misanthropy. or anger. You could lob a small water balloon at my emotions and it would not burst and splash too far from any one of the three mentioned above. Some say it's a defense mechanism, that I wrap myself up in the most unsavory of feelings and stay there for the sake of my own pessimism. And most people do perceive me as a hopeless pessimist, the opposite of that most telltale euphimism, and you know which one it is.

Did I also mention that I am a masochist?

I get a charge, not necessarily a positive one, from putting myself in difficult positions and seeing if I can get out unscathed. For example, this semester - my last, in fact - I am in the process of taking six classes. In the semester system, that amounts to eighteen college credit hours. Every single class is an English class as well. I don't think that I've met one person who has said this was necessarily a sane or smart thing to do, but that I would be happy once it was over. I still don't know if that's true, because I have not quite reached the symmetrical center of the semester yet and my nerves are nearly to the breaking point.

Kurt Vonnegut once said in a collection of his speeches and thoughts, called Palm Sunday, something derogatory - though true - about English students. I can't particularly recall what it was at present moment, but let that be the end to this little diatribe.

Oct 6, 2005

Harriet Miers - Bad on Both Sides

The big question today is whether or not Harriet Miers is experienced enough to sit on the Supreme Court.

The short answer is no.


It's not because she's never been a judge. Plenty of people have served on the Supreme Court who were never judges.

It's because she's a woman.

Just kidding. The reason Harriet Miers is wrong for the Supreme Court is that she has no relevant experience. John Roberts, whether or not you agree with him, had plenty of relevant and necessary experience. He was a judge for two years, he has argued before the Supreme Court, he is the protege of William H. Rehnquist - he worked under him during the 1980s - and he has a paper trail, even if it is a bit conservative.

Harriet Miers has no paper trail on hot-button issues. In fact, she has no paper trail whatsoever. That is what kept President Bush from nominating Alberto Gonzales for the position. He has a stance on social issues - like abortion - that is problematic for the conservative Republican base, and right now W. does not have the "captial" to entrench himself in a fight. He's been weakened, obviously, by the recent events of Hurricane Katrina and his handling of the war in Iraq. Moreover, he's backed himself into a corner for not appointing more minorities and women. He came under serious heat for not nominating a woman for the position Roberts now occupies. Even with Gonzales out of the picture, however, Bush had plenty of people more qualified than Ms. Miers.

Can she be a red herring? Or is she just another crony?

Miers is not only being opposed by socially-sensitive liberals and evangelical Republicans. Hardcore loyalists to the president have been vocal over his choice in Miers as well. David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, has expressed great concern over the choice to nominate Miers. Why? Not because she won't shore up the base. It's because she doesn't have the experience. Frum writes, "I am not saying she is a Michael Brown. But I am saying that she is being chosen for her next job in exactly the same way and for the same reasons that Michael Brown was chosen for FEMA. And that is not good enough for me"

It begs the question: Is this a calculated maneuver - a political "rope-a-dope" if you will - to seem weaker to opposition, namely the Democrats, or is it just another sad case of cronyism gone painfully awry?

Why do all the Stupid Ones Speak Up?

I originally intended for this post to be about liberal celebrities and why so many of them fall into that category. However, I thought it might be more pertinent to talk about why it's always the boorish stupid ones who have the audacity to speak out.

First of all, let me say that this is not a first amendment thing. If an aging, coked-out movie star wants the American people to know that he thinks George Bush blows, so be it. I think he does too. But I don't reach quite the audience that they do.

But that's not my argument.

These guys make their money because they can cry on cue or stop moaning when the director yells, "cut!" They're not political analysts. I'd almost say they're barely political. Most of them just want to be seen doing something socially relevant so they can feel better about owning a private island in the shape of a mango. It happens.

It's not just the rich ones with consciences, either. It's the guy who has read a New York Times article and wants to show off that he can discern words on a page and then spit it back out on the Today Show or Malcom in the Middle.

You get the idea.

But then again, I don't think that most political pundits really know what they're talking about either, so my argument doesn't hold much water.

Just one guy behaving like an ass on CNN because he has a party affiliation would be all right, but that's not the way it works. It has to be two diametrically opposed forces in the political arena screaming at each other over nothing. I'm not saying people shouldn't have party affiliations or that they shouldn't feel very strongly about the issue.

The media has it all wrong.

Not everything is fair and not everything has two sides, but that's just the way you're supposed to believe it. Some issues need only one side because there are facts involved. Getting a quote from both sides does not absolve the facts in the matter. That's just lazy, shoddy, dare I say ignorant, journalism. If a certain someone outed a CIA operative on purpose to exact revenge on that person's husband, there is no other side. The guy deserves to go to jail. End of point. It's treason. That's all. Oh, and so is war profiteering. Harry S. Truman said that.

The moral of the story is that there are facts and there are idiots and there are idiots who just sit on their computers and complain about the facts. Adieu.