Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spite Which Hand?

We're in an election year, and I'm pretty thoroughly jaded on politics so I wouldn't normally bring it up, but the 2012 presidential race is really getting under my skin.

I've said before (maybe even here) that the two-party system is a detriment to the voting process in that it creates a false dichotomy: you're either a Republican or a Democrat and follow the party line. What about the rest of us? My father in law is a heavily left-leaning Democrat and  a gun owner. I'm an independent who'd almost certainly be called left-leaning, but I'm for the continuation of the death penalty. Most people's opinions don't fall neatly into one category, but the current political climate promotes scooping up a handful of issues and tossing them into a red or blue bin.

A typical argument for not introducing further parties (not that it's as easy as declaring that a new one should exist, or that a single body is responsible for that decision) is that the more groups there are to receive votes, the fewer satisfied voters there are. That is, if there were, say, five parties, and support between them was divided almost evenly, you could end up with nearly 80% of the voter base casting a ballot for a losing candidate. And that thereby 80% of voters would be denied their choice for president.

I'm not sure how that logic can be defended when even in a very contentious year such as 2008 [url=http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html]only a little over half of the voting-age population[/url] could be bothered to turn out. Consider further that between the major two political parties, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008#Ballot_access]each only received about half of the popular vote[/url] (Democrats/Republicans, slightly over and slightly under, respectively), meaning that Barack Obama was elected with the support of about 25% of the population. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. Of either candidate, for that matter.

Realistically fully half of the population doesn't care enough to vote, for whatever reason. Almost as if it doesn't seem worth it or perhaps that they don't really believe they're being represented. The last point is debatable, but the adversarial culture infesting politics these days is not. What else explains [/url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/01/analysis-republicans-sett_0_n_480801.html] the record use of the Filibuster by Republicans since 2008?[/url] There's not even the grudging respect you would hope that elected officials might show one another, just a willingness to drive the other party into the ground even at the cost of taking the country with it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yep, I'm Still Alive

Blogging strikes me as a bit narcissistic: you have to assume that you have something interesting to say and that others are interested in reading it. I think that's why I've never continued on with it for long. I'm working regularly now and life is running pretty smoothly. But that's not terribly interesting and I don't feel inclined to bring it up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Switching Station

I've been writing a lot less lately. It's not a full stop, but the chair in my office at home definitely doesn't get warmed all that often these days, and I think I know why: it's the house.

I could also blame the fact that I'm working now, and time certainly does factor in but the major reason is all of the home projects I've got going on. Most recently I picked up an antique Budweiser light/sign at a yard sale and I'm working on restoring that and eventually hanging it up in the den. Then there's the mulch I need to finish putting down on the lawn. And there was the fountain on the property that I had to take down, ripping the wires out in the process and necessitating some reseeding in some areas.

But time isn't really the issue here. It hit me today that working on these things fulfills that same creative need as sitting at my desk and banging out a story. In fact I'd argue it does a better job of that since I'm a very tactile person and working on things that change my physical environment feels more rewarding than placing text into a file.

What does it mean for now? Well, my writing is going to slow way down. Or, it has. I'm not sure that's a bad thing. I don't intend for those skills to rust, but working at my own pace feels more relaxing rather than forcing myself to sit at a desk and produce content, which sometimes feels like a punishment.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Snows, White

I've seen two film interpretations of Snow White in the past few months, and one on TV. That's probably two too many.

Nicole and I saw Snow White and the Huntsman this past weekend. And while I didn't dislike it per se, I can't give it a ringing endorsement. Better than Mirror, Mirror? Sure, for as much as you can compare an adventure film to a comedy. Funnily enough when we went to see "Mirror, Mirror" weeks earlier, a trailer for "Huntsman" played and I whispered to Nicole "Wait, isn't that the movie we came to see?" Hell, the "Huntsman" trailer even begins with the "mirror, mirror" line. I hadn't even remembered that there were two Snow White movies this year.

So "Huntsman" styles itself as a dark-ish, action/adventure film and I wouldn't dispute that it belongs in that category. Where it begins to unravel is where it incorporates its source material and the dissonance with how modern movies are made and what is expected.

For starters, nowadays you can't have a helpless princess waiting to be rescued (unless that helplessness is played off as a sort of character flaw, or we're talking about something made for kids), no, a female protagonist has to be strong and independent, or at least must become that along the way. Both movies (and "Once Upon a Time, too) have their Snow White evolve along those lines. In the opening minutes of "Huntsman" we hear about a queen who pricks her finger on a rose blooming in winter, and wishes that her daughter would be as beautiful as the red blood against the white snow... and as strong as the rose that's blooming in defiance of winter.

Interesting. I read a version of Snow White years ago where some princes are out hunting. One shoots a hare and, when they see its blood against the snow, comments that a woman whose complexion was of those two colors would be the fairest in the land. There's no mention of strength; it's thrown in to "Huntsman" to push the notion of a strong Snow White. Nothing wrong with that, of course. In fact I think it's elegantly done

But this Snow White really isn't the strong and heroic type. She doesn't really do much of anything and always needs someone else to pull her bacon out of the fire. Except at the end, where's she's suddenly and completely trained in the use of medieval armor and weaponry. There's no real character arc other than "Well, someday she'll be great... okay, that's now." None of the crises she faces seem to develop her in any way, teach useful skills or build character.

So, Snow White is pretty weak. But what about the Huntsman? Well, we don't get much on him either. Apparently his wife has died, and we later learn in a throwaway line that it was very probably the evil queen who did so. Chris Hemsworth of "Thor" fame is pretty much just here for the action. That and a pointless love triangle with Snow White and her childhood friend, the duke's son William. There's never any tension here. It seems that someone who had a hand in this movie realized that their male lead was playing a peasant and that princesses marry princes. The movie leaves this open ended. As good a way to finish as any, I suppose.

On the other hand, it had just as much humor as "Mirror, Mirror" did.

Buckshot Blog Post

Y'know, I think the reason I blog as infrequently as I do isn't that I have nothing to say, it's that there's too much to say. So here it all is.

For instance, did you know that July 3rd was the 8th anniversary of the first date my wife and I ever went on? We went out to Friendly's and watched fireworks at my old college. While sitting in my Corolla afterwards (a 93, not the most comfortable car in the world) and waiting for the traffic to clear the parking lot, I called my parents to let them know how things went. Dad was incredulous because apparently he and mom did the same thing on their first date.

Well, they've been married since 1977, and Nicole and I have been together for eight years, so maybe there's something to that setup?

In unrelated news, during our most recent live D&D 3.5 group I summoned a pack of fiendish apes into the mouth of a gigantic sea creature. They wreaked havoc on its gums for all of about six seconds before the creature closed its mouth, crushing them all.

July 8th is my birthday. I'll be 32. Man does it get hard to muster up the energy for birthdays outside of your 20s. Even at 22 I was keenly aware that there we no more growing up to do, only growing old. Presents are nice though. Of course, even those have changed. This year I really only want beer and Home Depot gift cards, a sure sign I'm an adult or something like one.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Androids are Unequivocally Evil

The list of nonsensical plot points and dead ends Nicole and I came up with as were driving home from watching Prometheus kept us talking the entire way. And yet I can't say I didn't enjoy it. That being said, I need to vent. Spoilers aplenty up ahead, to read at your own risk.

1: What was the big damn deal about finding the cave painting in the opening when only a few minutes later into the film they reveal that there are many of these?

2: Why does Weyland hide his presence on the ship? The guy is a billionaire and has the hubris to, you know, ask "god" for eternal life. I doubt he cares what anyone thinks of his accompanying the mission. The two people effectively at the head of the expedition are doing so because they want to say "hi" to the people who made them,, so is Peter. So what's the big damn deal?

3: What is the point of David infecting Holloway? He has no reason to believe that doing so would further any of Peter's goals. If anything, they might hamper them since Peter Weyland supposedly hand picked many of the people on the mission. You could argue that David resents his maker and he does this to sabotage things, but that doesn't hold up when you consider that he doesn't do anything to the rest of the ship, or the crew, or any of a hundred other things he could be doing to actually sabotage this event if he wants to.

4: The biologist and geologist. One second they're freaked out at being stuck in the alien facility. The next, they're goofily dicking around with dick cobras. How does Mr. biologist not recognize the dick cobra's threat display? And before you go saying things like "Well, it's not like he could know what that hissing and flaring hood meant" well, what did you think it meant?

5: Shaw wakes up from being drugged, knocks two people out, runs to the surgery vending machine and gets the horrific alien squid thing out of her. How does nobody find her in the middle of all of this? It's not exactly a huge ship. And why does nobody care that there's an alien squid thingy on the ship now?

Funnily enough I actually enjoyed this. The visuals are good, and it makes you feel small and insignificant. I'd say it was successful tone-wise if very sketchy in the character and script departments.


How do people do it?

Just working a part time job and doing perhaps 85% of the housework, I can't seem to find the energy to write or do much of anything other than laze about after work. The screenplay I'm working on with my wife's cousin is stuttering along, but slowly. And I've started the sequel to "Up in Hell" but haven't progressed very far. I think I need to lock myself in my office and put Dimmu Borgir on repeat and get some writing done.