Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The movie is hard to follow, there are many tangential tirades, a lot of them given by a bald guy who looks kind of like Philip Seymour Hoffman, only paler and fishier. Jones himself gives a couple embarassingly worded megaphone speeches. He spouts facts, he accuses "the elite" of being scum, so you've got your anger, and suddenly it's righteous, and then, he goes back to anger. Scene in point: Jones is yelling outside the Fed about the Fed. He gives you fact A. Good so far. Fact B rolls in...still with him. Then "AND THESE BASTARDS ARE TRYING TO ENSLAVE YOUR CHILDREN." And I'm thinking: dude. I was with you, but you jumped the gun. You bought me a drink, you said all the right things, and then I look down and you've already come all over my new jumper. This is the one with the TRAINS on it, goddammit. And for any of you that have a problem with jumpers, I've got one word: footies.
A few things did push the right buttons for me. The Fed, for instance, is ridiculous. The notion that they give loans to 3rd-world countries at 30% interest then pay off the dictators to default on the loans, subsequently placing these countries and their people securely in the pockets of some Old White Dudes is probably true. The fact that they did it to us, too, is also probably true. The fact that Obama gave the Fed and the banks a massive bailout and then BORROWED THE MONEY BACK, with interest, to fund the stimulus package is something I will have to look into. If it's true, it's one of the most dumbassed (or, if you're Jones, sinister) things I have ever heard of a government doing.
Other stuff I don't buy. Obama is a puppet for the secret NWO. Who puts people in positions of power only to knock them down four years later. Make Bush 1 bad, bring in the Clinton, Clinton got 8 years and hummer, bring in the retard, the retard fucked everything (or did everything exactly right...again, depending on who you listen to), bring in the champion, the hero. The savior. And they do play up that image in the papers. Hell, Obama's one of my heroes.
And he's a lot of people's heroes. The big crowds they show worshipping him may have been to prove a point, but it has a subtle effect on the filmmaking. It makes the Jones crew look smaller, and crazier. When you can only get 5 or so interviewees (one of which is KRS-One, who is cool) and a few sign-wavers, it does something to the viewer's psychology. It's evolution: we want to be with the giant crowd, go with what everyone's so excited about. Not with a tiny group of loonies.
On that note, the camera work in here is honest: when a couple of crazy conspiracy folks go out to protest the secret meeting of the world's elite in a Best Western...Holiday Inn...I forget which chain it is, but it's got this marble columned lobby that is straight classy, when these protesters show up, it really looks like that: a handful of extremists heckling powerful people. What's with the awful signs? Cheap 8x11 rose pink cardboard paper with inane block-lettered Rage-isms do not inspire, guys.
There's a great scene in the movie where Jones is Blair-Witching to the camera in his hotel room. See, the government set the fire alarm off...and there is something sinister going on, something that Jones predicted would happen. What exactly that is, I don't know. Maybe I should have paid more attention. I was watching it though...fuck it, I blame poor editing for my confusion. De-flected.
Another thought: when they are explaining all of Obama's broken promises, I couldn't help but think "The guy's been there for three fucking months, people." Let me use Iraq as an example. As a campaigner, Barack said that he was going to get soldiers out ASAP. Right now. Right? Well, he gets into office, and that turns into 19 months, last I heard (they say 23). You can look at this one of two ways: Obama is an evil manipulator who bald-faced lied, or, he didn't understand the intricacies of the office at the time, and, woops, it turns out you can't just pull out of a country and jet. It just depends on what you want to see. It's like the God argument. I see coincidence, you see God. I see a guy who said things to get elected but meant them, too, who's now facing down a laundry list of things that have to be prioritized. They see someone who was lying the whole time. I don't know. We can both look at each other and see how the other person's an idiot. I'd prefer beer.
Was that a non-sequitur, or a cleverly placed segue? Because that's what's next: Non-sequiturs. This movie has a couple, most notably a rant about global warming, how it's all a scam. Come on, guys. That's not an argument I'm going to have, because I have science on my side. And when you're talking science, scientists, NOT conspiracy theorists, have my vote.
I mean, this is kind of a sickness. They see it everywhere. The government is in your food, your TV, your mind. It wants to eat you. And maybe it does. But why? Why would a shadowy organization want to poison your food? Let's take this back to square one, Descartes-style. How do you know these super-secret cabals are inherently evil? Is it because you're not a part of them? How do you know that the powerful goons meeting in that hotel weren't just there to swap info, make sure everyone was on the same (evil?) page, or orgy it up or pay respect to the Old Gods or any number of things? Why does it have to be about you, conspiracy theorist? Or us? And if it is about us, how do you know it's for the worst? I dislike rich white people as much as you do, but I'm also stupid. Don't assume that I just know the minds of the world's supervillains.
And Obama is not a supervillain. Not yet. He hasn't destroyed my spirit, or any of the things you claim he was put in office to do. I know I've given an absolutely stirring defense in the face of your facts (which I have not fact-checked, but my dog needed walking so I'll take your word), but what it comes down to is that I feel we need more time to see if he really is the fuck up that you say he is. Come back to me in a year, or two, and I'll give you my honest-to-God opinion.
Whilst explaining Obama's evils to us, at one point they show his face, distorted, with lights shining from his eyes. My throat dried up and my stomach flipped, I don't do well with sudden, scary faces. When Lynch stretched out Laura Dern's face, then segued to the one creepy bleeding mouth thing in "Inland Empire" I was wrecked. Scariest moment in a movie ever, just in this weird paralyzing kind of way. Eesh.
Edit: I went to go find the picture from "Inland Empire" for you, and I saw it only momentarily and had to click away fast, that same indescribable fear coming back to me. I know, I'm a pussy. It's like the homeless guy in the diner scene from "Mulholland Drive" times ten.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Disclaimer: I'm not a reviewer. I don't really "review". I kind of babble about what I think is cool. So, yeah.
I recently finished these two:
"Last Days" by Brian Evenson and "The Cold Spot" by Tom Piccirilli.
"Last Days" is about a cop who loses an arm and gets wrangled into helping a group of mutilators solve a murder mystery. It is completely absurd and violent and awesome. You learn very little about any of the characters, the whole thing plays kind of like a dark dream, colored in dark greens and velvets and reds, where no one's really got a face. You get pulled along with the hero, who wants nothing to do with any of it, into the frying pan and then out for a quick lay-down in a hospital bed and then right back in. It's great. And it's a quick read, which is also awesome.
"The Cold Spot" is a revenge story about a dude who's been a wheelman since he was like ten who decides to become a schoolteacher until some shit goes down and he's gotta bust heads, with the help of his thief granddad. It's a pretty straightforward story, but Piccirilli is a fucking master storyteller, and if you didn't know that, well, now you do. The pacing in this thing is spot on. (I was going to change that last sentence. Because it's called "The Cold Spot". And it puts me in a weird place. Do I acknowledge the pun, do I let it slide?) Read it and take notes. Or just read it, and give me back my highlighter.
This is my current TBR pile:
I'm reading the top book, "Private Midnight" by Kris Saknussemm. Fun fact via Wikipedia: When Saknussemm's first book, "Zanesville" (which is Bizarro Gold) came out, there were rumors that "Kris Saknussemm" was a pseudonym for David Foster Wallace. This one, "Private Midnight", had the "James Ellroy meets David Lynch" quote I mentioned a few blogs ago. The prose, so far, has been stellar.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Ran with Kahlua. When I run, like really run, with the Black Lips loud and garage-y on my I-pod, until my chest burns, I get dizzy. I'm dizzy, still. Right now. Before I took Kahlua on our run/walk/sniffing adventure, I couldn't find any plastic bags for poop. We're out of old Wal-Mart bags. Tonight is the second night, in a row, that I've looked at an empty water bottle and thought, "I should use that for scooping poop." I have no idea why this thought comes into my head, but both times, immediately after thinking it, I reminded myself that I am fucking retarded. I settled for an old plastic Subway bag. Last night it was a Taco Bell bag. I get this weird feeling, when I glove my hand with a Taco Bell bag, and I grab the dump, it being all warm and hard, and the smell wafts up, double-helixing with the smell of Taco Bell Mild Sauce...it's a feeling like when you're in a bathroom and you're holding a drink and suddenly it isn't appetizing anymore because of that grimy piss smell. It's like that, yeah.
Endnote: "Quantum of Solace" kicked my ass in the action department (except for the first 2/3rds of the airplane chase and the fact that the last 2/3rds of the "Bond escapes the SWAT team" scene must be floating in the ether, somewhere), but suffered from severe structural problems. Put it this way, if it's bad enough that I notice, you have a problem with your structure.
It was awesome.
I can't explain the physics of it, but her legs went out from under her and she landed on her side and rolled once and hopped up and shook it off and continued walking with me.
Of course, my first fear was, "Oh shit, I hope nobody saw me do that." Which is probably sort of what parents feel when they first spank their kids in public. But then I rationalized it: I didn't hurt her, and am I really supposed to just let her do whatever the fuck she wants on a walk because I live in a neighborhood of nosy pussies?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Just a thought, guys.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Beliefs are meant to be analyzed and tested every once in a while. Your brain is like a car, things need to be opened up and checked and fixed, it'll run smoother and longer.
We've gotta have belief, though, too. I have to sincerely believe that tonight when I go out to walk my dog that I won't float away like a balloon. I have to believe that, writing this, I won't get sucked into my computer, lost in cyberspace for all time.
So, having said those two things, I'd prefer to compare Knowledge and Belief to something less oppositional than two points on a line. Let me get out my metaphor bag. Here we go.
You gotta build buildings out of steel so that people can move fluidly through them without constantly worrying if the shack is going to tip over and kill everyone.
Once you've built the building though, you've got to tear ass through that thing at full speed. Preferably on a scooter. Every day, you've gotta peek in and say "Fuck you" to the boss. You've gotta be at the water cooler fraternizing, you've got to be punching clocks off the wall and zipping around changing everyone's screen saver to an LOLcat, something. Get out a slip and slide and have a party or get to work and figure out how to build a better building. Something with a pool. Indoor pools are the shit.
You are this person, Ambiguity, constantly evolving, thanks to Knowledge, in this building, Belief.
Peter Singer writes:
"A few years ago, an African-American cabdriver taking me to the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington asked me if I worked at the bank. I told him I did not but was speaking at a conference on development and aid. He then assumed that I was an economist, but when I said no, my training was in philosophy, he asked me if I thought the U.S. should give foreign aid. When I answered affirmatively, he replied that the government shouldn’t tax people in order to give their money to others. That, he thought, was robbery. When I asked if he believed that the rich should voluntarily donate some of what they earn to the poor, he said that if someone had worked for his money, he wasn’t going to tell him what to do with it.
"At that point we reached our destination. Had the journey continued, I might have tried to persuade him that people can earn large amounts only when they live under favorable social circumstances, and that they don’t create those circumstances by themselves. I could have quoted Warren Buffett’s acknowledgment that society is responsible for much of his wealth. “If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru,” he said, “you’ll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil.” The Nobel Prize-winning economist and social scientist Herbert Simon estimated that “social capital” is responsible for at least 90 percent of what people earn in wealthy societies like those of the United States or northwestern Europe. By social capital Simon meant not only natural resources but, more important, the technology and organizational skills in the community, and the presence of good government. These are the foundation on which the rich can begin their work. “On moral grounds,” Simon added, “we could argue for a flat income tax of 90 percent.” Simon was not, of course, advocating so steep a rate of tax, for he was well aware of disincentive effects. But his estimate does undermine the argument that the rich are entitled to keep their wealth because it is all a result of their hard work. If Simon is right, that is true of at most 10 percent of it."
It's important, I think, to never forget the circumstances under which we were born. I was born in Springfield, VA, USA, to a brilliant, insanely loving mother (probably about as close to perfect as a person can get) and an equally brilliant father who worked hard to provide for us. Growing up, my mother and father read to me constantly, and worked with me to make sure that I was ready when school rolled around. Add to this mix the support of three grandparents and a gang of aunts and uncles all eager to help, and you could mention a silver spoon, totally.
So, here I am. I have opportunities. I was born in America to loving parents. I was lucky.
Not fair. Life's not fair. I know. But that ain't right.
Friday, March 6, 2009
The auditorium was mostly full. Wooden chairs sprawled out from a podium. We sat in the bleachers, because we figured it'd be easier to see that way. Kind of funny, waiting in line to go to the back of the room. Well, not the very back, but you know. Wedged in behind some old people. I wonder from time to time if our conversations might be offensive. We drop F bombs left and right.
There'll be a Q&A section afterwards and I think of the perfect question: "Mr. Dawkins. How do you feel about DP?" But it goes unasked. This leads to a unanimous decision from the group that DP is okay, as long as it's just one cock per hole.
We sit for a long time. I talk about a lot of things. How I suck at small talk. I'll hear people around campus, like, "Hey man. How are you." "Good." "How's Brian?" "Doing his thing." "You going to Matt's tomorrow?" "Nah, I got lacrosse." And they just go on and on. How? This shit stumps me. I have to be talking about something. But w/e.
Lecture begins. Dawkins gets the standing O. First thing we get is a movie about how Ben Stein sucks. It's a trailer for his movie "Expelled," only it's called "Sexpelled" and some clever dude went in and changed all the references of "intelligent design" to "stork theory", see, Dawkins views the evolution v. ID argument as analogous to: gravity v. "intelligent falling" or birth v. "stork." Anyway, the trailer goes on and on, and finally it gets to the end and it says "Ben Stein is" and the next card's supposed to say "Expelled,", but this same clever dude went in and put a card in that says, big letters, all caps, AN IGNORANT FOOL. Strikes me as petty. Crowd loves it.
Crowd also loves: everything, it seems. They applaud consistently. The crowd becomes divided: the clappers and those who find the clapping to be annoying and those who find those who find the clapping annoying, annoying. Nothing comes of it. Just an interesting thing to watch. The clapping I understand: it's a bottling up effect. If you're an atheist and you live in Oklahoma, you have to keep that shit on the low. This is Bible country, son. When you get a bunch of godless folks in a room together, for the most part, they are ecstatic, like, "My people!"
My back starts to bug me. I'm like, "Alright, guys."
Dawkins is old. Brushed back white hair. He proceeds through his lecture, "The Purpose of Purpose." It's basic biology stuff. We get a lesson in how evolution works. Dawkins says there are two forms of purpose, archaeo- and neo-, which is his "new spin", which I'm sure would've been interesting if it wasn't just a new way of putting old shit. More evolution stuff, and the lecture is over. I'm like, "What the fuck."
Q&A starts, and it's more interesting. At this point the back is killing me. The thighs too, and the ass is numb from the cheek to the lower back. Everyone, everyone kisses this dude's ass. "Thank you so much for coming to Oklahoma." Which I mean, I guess it's a nice thing to do, but I'm like, "Questions, people, where are your questions?"
In the middle of a question I hear, "Shut the fuck up!" really loud and I'm like WHOA. Crowd goes hush. A woman stands up, saying, "Security! This man has been bothering us the whole time..." blah blah. This nut in the crowd had been babbling I guess, and some dude lost his temper, but then crazy guy stood up, wearing denim, thin, carrying a big yellow legal pad, yelling something like, "I RENOUNCE YOU." Security escorted him out, the end.
Afterwards, we ate at Taco Bell. Then went to the bar. Topics included: Indy 4, suicide, drugs, would you fuck X to save Y, etc. I only spent $7.
And now, I sleep. Good night, folks.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Written from the POV of a former SS officer. I bought "The Kindly Ones" when it came out and started it yesterday, after I finished "Last Days" by Brian Evenson (which was fucking awesome). I'm about 40 pages in, and so far nothing too horrible has happened...I've got about 960 pgs. left, so we'll see.
I am drawn to controversy. I buy the hype, and I buy the book, if I feel the subject matter is ballsy enough. It's the writing, of course, that has to see me through to the end, and so far Littell seems capable.
I'll let you know when I'm done.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Took a gnarly dump before school. Rolled the TP over my hand and wiped, unfortunately smearing a stillborn turd along my crack. I could tell it would've been at least a half a roll of wiping. So I hopped in the shower, squeezed some High Optimism orange body wash on my hands, and washed out my butthole.
Lemme tell you, my ass felt clean.
Don't think I could get one installed in the apartment. But, it will definitely play a factor when buying a home.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
There's something to be said for poetic prose, dense with verbiage and metaphor. It's challenging and can at times be fun.
There's something more to be said for the prose that is streamlined and pocked with carefully placed, effective metaphors.
I know, I'm biased, because I'm a horridly slow reader, but I just don't feel like it's fair, with all those books out there, to spend a long time unpacking these thick paragraphs. But that's entirely my problem.
I think this goes without saying, but it's better to have written something that could be read in a day and remembered for two than something that takes three days to read and is never thought of again.
1) She is backtracking.
2) She is clarifying.
Both of these statements are true. To further explain a mis-understood or -interpereted argument, you must "backtrack" in the sense that you have to begin back at the start of your original argument. You're also clarifying, taking something that was muddy or incomprehensible and making it clear, or trying to.
But "backtracking" brings to mind the deer-in-the-headlights, the stuttering, sweating fucker who's been caught and is now desperately searching for a way out. Clarifying is what an eloquent mind is able to do, through the power of metaphor or just a reduction in speed.
It's all bullshit, but I think the accusation of back-tracking is a bit flawed, it's suggesting that you knew this person's absolute meaning straight-off. Or at least, you read someone's interperetation of this person's meaning, and you really trust it, so certainly it MUST be true.