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27 June 2002
I would so like to just shake my head (as usual) and ask myself, "What the heck are we doing in this country?" I really would. But I can't. Because I am angry. The line has been crossed, and it's time to stop asking the heavens what we've come to here, and to start smacking people. And if the smacking must be with words, then so be it. Between this latest lunacy with the Pledge of Allegiance and the growing anti-Semitism not in the Middle East, not in Germany or France (though to be sure it is ever-present there as well), but here, in our own backyard. In a country where a small group of uptight idiots think George Lucas is furthering a racist agenda because they believe a Kiwi actor "sort of looks Hispanic," I cannot believe the vehemence with which a growing number of people are attacking (physically, verbally, and in every other way a person or group can attack another person or group) the Jews. More than disgraceful, this is just plain wrong. As wrong as it ever was, yet the wrongness of ideas or actions has rarely stopped the ignorant from thinking or doing them anyway. So, no, I cannot merely shake my head anymore. Because I'm too angry.

Let's start with the Pledge, 'cause frankly, I think I can distill my thoughts into a much more cohesive argument here. Well, perhaps not cohesive in a sense that would make this post work as a proper essay, but at least intelligent and reasonably informed. Besides, anyone who thinks the Pledge should be banned from schools is loony, so *anything* I say here is bound to be far more cohesive than the converse side of the issue. Let's face it, just about anything coming out of Califruitia is balmy, batty, buggy, daft, idiotic, kooky, and about a million other synonyms for ridiculous. The existence of Hollywood pretty much provides all the proof I need for that statement. San Francisco happens to be another solid proof, though, and coincidentally, that little burgh of license and liberal moronity seems to be the source of things which angrify the Jelly-Pinched Wolf this day.

So, the 9th Circuit Court has declared that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. To be honest, I cannot believe I or anyone else out there even needs to say anything about this. To my mind it ought to be a no-brainer that this is all a bunch of malarkey. But let's assume there's some merit to the court's decision (even though there isn't) and take a look at the Pledge. Regardless of Ike's intentions in adding the "under God" phrase into the pledge, does the phrase turn it into an invocation to God, or to a religion at all? No, I don't think so. The Pledge of Allegiance is about patriotism, about devotion to this country of ours. That's it's purpose. "God," capitalised or no, is not, of necessity, specific. The Pledge is a declaration of allegiance to the state. As far as the state of the Republic is concerned, is not freedom, in a sense, God? In any religion, the god or gods in which one believes are (or should be) the highest ideal, the Truth above all truths. It's why we believe in them. If they weren't above and beyond all, it wouldn't be worth our time to believe in them, now would it? To the inanimate state, its raison d'etre, which, in our case, is freedom, can easily, I think, be considered its god, that which it holds above and beyond all. Perhaps this is a bad analogy. Perhaps I'm making a terrible argument here. But it doesn't change the fact that saying "One nation, under God" in school is in no way infringing on any religion's rights. It places our trust in the nation on a certain level, elevating it to the importance it ought to have in our lives. Let's face it, our lives here on earth are never going to be akin to whichever version of heaven you happen to ascribe to. That's why a heaven is so appealing--it's a wonderful state of existence that we*can't* have here. So we make do with what we have, which in our case happens to be this here country of America. Looking at the world, it is the best we humans could come up, leaving all the others to wallow in their envy that they can't seem to pull it off. (On a side note, have you ever noticed that the countries who've come the closest to adopting our form of government, our system of liberties, also seem to bitch the least about the "evils" of America? Funny, that.) And so in pledging that we will uphold the responsibilities that citizenship requires (for example, not joining the fanatic enemies and trying to kill our own people), isn't it right that we should elevate our country and all it stands for to the highest possible plane of our earthly existence? Certainly not to as high a level as whichever god we may believe in, but our nation does deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, and if you can't find it in yourself to care that much, then that's what emigration was invented for. There's a whole world out there, and I'm sure you can find a niche for yourself in some socialist regime or another.

I'm not worried about this silly decision--it seems inevitable it will be overturned. What I'm worried about is that it ever passed in the first place. Of course, the liberal mentality of the land of fruits and nuts is pushing for this kind of nonsense all the time, but that it's succeeding now, attempting to destroy some of the most fundamentally American ideas, is what's making me nervous. That, and a host of other small, yet equally dangerous things which are afoot. To name a few: the incomprehensible deification of the Clintons (why do people like these snakes?); the refusal of people to accept that they must take responsibility for their choices--free sex is *not* a good idea; and the rather lax support for Israel. Which brings me to a far more worrisome and irksome point to discuss.

For those not in the know, check this out (thanks to Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus on NRO for the link and for keeping this sort of thing in our field of view):
Printer Friendly Version

I've never understood racism. It's just not something a rational person can wrap his mind around. But then, that's just the thing--racism isn't rational. And yet, there apparently are different levels of racism. Infringing on the rights of any minority, say Blacks, or Hispanics, is wrong, right? Same thing can be said of making disparaging remarks about said groups, or disseminating ideas that they are somehow less than other (usually whiter) people. Anything hateful said or done towards them solely because of race is wrong. That's racism. Yet for some bizarre reason, this doesn't seem to apply to the Jews. Why the hell not? Yet the media and the liberal sob story artists who want to protect our minorities like they're an endangered species not only fail to bring to light the rising hatred of the Jewish in this country, but actually add to the negative postion of the anti-Semites by painting Israel's struggle as somehow unjust, as if they are the bad guy in the fight against the Palestinians. I'm not claiming that the nation of Israel has been squeaky clean in every way since it's inception--but what nation is? The fact of the matter is that they are fighting for their lives against a people that wants nothing more than to see every Jew removed from the face of the planet. Do I find any sympathy at all for the Palestinians? Not much, but yes. I find it hard to believe there aren't *some* that are not murderous psychopaths, but until they as a people stop wantonly killing Jews, until they cease their war against Israel (yes, it is a war, no matter what way the media tries to spin it), and until they start to bloody well *act* like a nation, then their cause seems pretty hollow to me, and I find my sympathy pretty limited.

But worse is that the same attitude, the same lack of respect for the lives of others that the Palestinians hold is beginning to run rampant here, too. SFSU is but one university. It's not an isolated incident, and if our media would pull their collective heads out of the clouds of Liberal Dreamland, we might hear about far more of these incidences. But the Jews are not one of the liberals' beloved minorities, are they? As Zoloth says in the article, "Not one administrator came to stand with us. I knew that if a crowd of Palestinian or Black student had been there, surrounded by a crowd of white racists screaming racist threats, shielded by police, the faculty and staff would have no trouble
deciding which side to stand on." Too true. But somehow, anti-Semitism has gained a certain sort of respectibility. After all, there's a percentage of people out there who firmly believe the Holocaust never happened, that it was all a hoax. Anyone who can honestly believe this has more issues than the NY Times (and you can take that statement whichever way you fancy). Anti-Semitism is just not justifiable, as anti-any human trait is unjustifiable. Hate is hate, no matter who it's directed at. I'm disgusted by those who would do what these students have done. I'm disgusted by the culture that would allow, and breed, and nurture these attitudes. Schools are for learning, not degradation, not dissemination of untruths. But it's becoming something of a trend here, now isn't it? Damn, we, as the land of freedom, are supposed to be above that. That's why the world's people flee *to* us and not *from* us. If we're no better than the lands they're immigrating from, then what else do we really have to offer the world. Free speech does not mean free hate. If you're an immigrant, you bring yourself, we give you hope, you make the most of it and add to us as a people in the process. That's the way it's supposed to work. Don't bring your hate--we don't want it. Or at least, we shouldn't.

Okay, before I lose all semblance of direction with this, I'm just going to end. Because I doubt I will ever understand what drives people to do these things. Some would say fear, but that seems a cop out to me. We all live with a million different fears everyday--as a rule we don't attack and eventually murder each other just because of our fear that we may go broke, or we may not be leading the lives we want to, or we might die at any moment, or that the last Snickers bar in the vending machine might be taken before we can get to it. These negative attitudes and ideas aren't ingrained, they're learned. So how do we stop those who are teaching them?
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:41 PM
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26 June 2002
Bored. Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored.

To quote the Tick.

The server is down. Again. Cannot even work, and at this point, I would love to be able to work. How lame is that? And, alas, I really have nothing in me head to be blogging about this morning. Certainly there are a number of topics I could tackle, but I'm still being assailed by morning fuzzy-headedness.

Perhaps I shall just babble for a bit and see where it leads us. Sound good? Sounds good.

In reference to yesterday's movie preview, a friend commented that she read or heard that Gellar and Prinze met on the set of Scooby, and therefore he could not have swayed her into that pathetic excuse for a movie. Now, I'm fairly sure I remember some entertainment source or another a year or two ago mentioning that they were an item, and then the movie came along, and then they had relationship issues, and Gellar was trying to find a way out of her mistake (you can take that to mean the movie or the relationship--either is fine). Now, I do not care enough about this to go in search of proof of either version of the story, but if anyone out there does care enough to shed some factual light on the matter, feel free. My point was simply this: Why, oh, why did Gellar consent to be in that debacle?

I really do want to do some interesting political-type commentary with this blog, but I keep getting distracted by the wonderfully bad world of entertainment. Also, everything I might wish to say has already been said perfectly by the likes of Jonah Goldberg and John Derbyshire. There's just not much for me to add to that, except perhaps a hearty "Yeah!" But once I get some research done on the paranoid angerfest that Michael Moore has become, perhaps I can rummage up a few interesting ideas of my own to spout off about. I can dream, at least.

Wow, with the exception of a wee tad of filing, I've done absolutely nothing for almost an hour and a half now, and I'm getting paid for it! You really have to give some credit to corporate America. And yes, my Sith Lawyer friend, you are hearing those words from the mouth of the Jelly-Pinched Wolf. Perhaps, though, in case I ever gain a readership here, I ought to explain. See, I've had a grudge going against the corporate world for many a year, and I'll likely never develop any sort of love for the whole business. But as I've grown a bit older and a lot wiser, I've started to see the good in corporations. After all, just because some of them suck egregiously does not mean the whole lot are bad. I will still forever favour the smaller corps over the sprawling dynasties, but frankly, it really comes down to whether the company has a decent business model or not. If the business is run properly, it will make lots of money *and* its employees will be happy. Sure, this is a generalisation, but that's the great thing about generalisations--you can make them because they're mostly true.

The more I look at my days at Quaker State, the more I realise how good I had it. We had terrific managers--ones who actually knew what they were doing, and made every effort to do it. And the job itself was interesting--it at least managed to keep me on my toes. I think my ire toward the whole affair was more toward Pennzoil than QS. Frankly, it annoyed me that the better company as far as operations and stock were concerned, was getting bought by an inferiour company, which happened to have greater profits and capital--they called it a merger, but we all know it was a purchase. Pennzoil adopted our system, our procedures, and left all theirs behind. To me, that says something about their condition as a company before buying QS. Of course, they left us Quaker State people behind as well. Certainly, they made offers, and some people went, but most of us couldn't justify the move the Houston, armpit of the world, for the mere couple extra bucks a year they were offering. Apparently, though, QS isn't as recognisable as it once was. Sure, the advertisements still abound, but in my youth, QS was the brand of choice--at least, it's what my dad always got. So perhaps it's more of a throwback to the days of the fifties? I don't know. I'm just saying I got burned, along with a lot of other people, and it was quite angrifying.

But then, we got rewards off that deal, as well. In the year after the announcement of the "merger", I was able to pull well over $4000 in overtime, plus a $4000 bonus for sticking around to the end of the year, plus time and half permanently from January until the end of my time in April of the next year. Pretty darn good severance package.

And that's really what's begun to change my opinion of the corporate world--the ones that do it right, like QS had been doing it. If the environment is such that the managers are worth a damn and the company itself is focused on its primary goal, namely to make money, then the corporation is doing what it should in the way it should be doing it. I can respect that. After all, I like money. People seem to think it's worth something, and that lets me acquire neat stuff. I like stuff.

So, do I even have a point here? No, not really. As I said at the start, just rambling to kill time. Of course, I don't want to give the impression that corporate life is for me. It's not. I'm just happy to see that when done right, it works. We are a capitalist society, after all, and that's a good thing, no matter what the leftists say--let's see them buy their Birkenstocks and Frappacinos at their leisure without this system! For me, this partaking of corporate life is a waystation. A stopover on the way to Writersville, where I get to wake up, grab some coffee, and pound out five to ten pages of a novel before I even get showered. The day will be subject to my schedule, not bound by an eight to five regimen. I can create stories for a living, and that, for me, beats corporate life any day.

Two hours, and still no server. Blarg. Well, this ramble has rambled enough, methinks. Time to sign off and see about inventing teleportation or something. It seems I will have plenty of time for it.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:24 AM
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25 June 2002
Today's topic: the staggering ignorance of our co-workers.

Most recent example: "Is Mars the red planet? Or is that Jupiter?"

Okay, I realise I'm a geek, and maybe that influences the specific knowledge that tends to stick in my head, but jeez! These are the bloody planets we're talking about! This is basic knowledge that was (or at least ought to have been) imparted to us in grade school. Beyond the basic attributes, we ought to all know the order of the planets as well. I refuse to believe I'm some great intellect; there are things in the world that we are taught growing up, things that should be considered essential facts and ideas, and these things seem to be absent from the brains of most people.

It is not only those we work with, I realise, but let's face it, these people are often a good indicator of the country at large. The American people are horribly unlearned, and it's beginning to scare me. I don't want every person to be versed in philosophy--that would be boring as heck--but the stultifying lack of basic knowledge is truly frightnening.

Perhaps it's me. Perhaps i'm being elitist (okay, fine, I know that I am). But there's nothing wrong with that. We're human, some people do things better than other--it's natural. We should glory in what we do well. Maybe it's just that I was better at learning, at holding on to the little facts we're taught in school. But I don't think so. There's a reason we all learn the same things in school. It's not to pass the day away while our parents work. It's so that we are all privy to the same information--namely the way our world, and more specifically our country and its people, work. We're human. We're all different. But you know what? We all have the same ability to try. And that's just the problem--nobody tries. If you don't know Mars is the red planet because no one ever taught you that in school, then shame on the teachers. But also, where is your thirst for knowledge? There are books and libraries just waiting out there to answer your questions. You do have questions, don't you? You must. I have to believe that everyone out there wishes to know how the universe works, to know the mysteries of space, of nature itself. Because if they don't, then I really fear for us as a people. The great thing about us, and especially in this country, is that if you don't know something, you can find out. If anything ever crosses your path you don't understand, seek the answers! It is not hard.

But this does not erase the fact that there are basic things we ought to all know. If the schools aren't teaching them anymore, then things are worse off then I'd thought, and I am grateful my wife and I will be homeschooling our children when that time comes about. But he who asks the question, "Is Mars the red planet?" is not much younger than I, and I cannot believe schooling faltered that much in those couple of years.

This is a simplification. I know that. There are a million factors separating what I know from what you know. But whether your co-worker doesn't know his astronomy from astrology, or she bounces a mouse ball on her forehead for entertainment, we Americans have some serious problems. And much learning to do, it seems.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   2:30 PM
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Welcome to the Rock Stupid Movie Preview Review!

Why a Preview Review? Simply, when the preview tells you all you need to know, why bother seeing the wretched movie?

Today's review: "Scooby Doo."

I've read a few reviews of this movie already, so I suppose I am technically going on more than just the preview here, but as far as I can tell, the Scooby Doo preview perfectly captures the moronic, worthless, waste-of-celluloid qualities of the movie itself. So there's little any review could do to colour this post that the preview hasn't already done. But one thing has stood out in the reviews--the comment that perhaps a fan of the original cartoon might find the movie appealing for the sake of nostalgia. Um, no. Any true fan of the animated series, as I am, is likely to be offended by the live-action ruination that is currently marring screens everywhere.

But perhaps I should explain, because, frankly, the cartoon was not exactly the height of animation and storytelling, and you may be wondering how I can be upset by a movie that boasts the same pathetic qualities (which is quite the feat, considering it's not animated). The tv show had charm. Plain and simple. I should also probably add a codicil here: the first two seasons are what I'm talking about (though a few of the guest-spot episodes with the likes of Don Knotts were just as good). These are the classics, the ones sans Scrappy (who should be strung up in the animated world and burned by his peers). These are the ones that are so ridiculous and predictable that they achieve a certain level of beauty. After all, Scooby and Shaggy are the precursors to all out there who have felt the power of the Slack. Remove the stoner qualities, and you've got the beginnings of proper and true geeks everywhere. Who did we all hate in high school? The perfect jocks and preppies. And who does that sound like? Why, it's Fred, in his gay ascot (which I've always liked to think is a nice little jab at those jocks and preps). And furthermore, what's the great coup of the show? The very obvious connection between Shaggy and Daphne (okay, yes, I am reading far too much into this, but damn it, I have a point to make). Sure, on the surface one might think the two chic characters would be the ones who'd find their way to each other, but I happen to think the creators wanted to see the geek, the loser, the weirdo (and ultimately, alongside his buddy, Scooby, the hero) win the girl. Of course, the girl was a major klutz, but many of us geeks are as well, and find such behaviour enormously endearing. And though Daphne was a klutz, she was not an airhead. That was also Fred's job. Fred: airheaded and gay. There's no way he and Daphne were a couple. That's ludicrous! And all this is subtext, not out there in the open where a child can see it--it's something we can reflect back on as adults, not something that can scar our impressionable young brains.

Anyway, I've wandered rather far afield here, so let me bring it back to an actual point. The cartoon of Scooby Doo contained the thinnest veil of a plot in so much as it was the same story everytime. The animation moved at what, maybe 12 frames per second? And it wasn't exactly art. But in a way, it was something of an anthemic piece for us losers growing up that there is hope--the geeks can save the day.

Which brings us back to the movie, which is, in a word, pointless. There was no reason for this movie to be made. Or if there was a reason, why not just make an entirely animated feature? Why resort to bad CG and actors trying desperately to do what animation does a million times better? Get Joss Whedon to pen the script--he'd be guaranteed to get the wit, and action, right. Enlist the top animators around--make this flick shiny! Heck, Scooby Doo as drawn by Yoshitaka Amano, or Hayao Miyazaki, nearly gives me shivers (though yes, I admit that, as my wife said, that would just be weird)! Even Don Bluth would give us a far better movie than this live-action mistake. And Sarah Michelle Gellar! What were you thinking? Being one of the "Scoobies" in Sunnydale was a great tribute, but this? Anyone who's seen Buffy knows this girl can act like nobody's business. The only thing I can think of is that she either can't pick her movies well at all, or she was far too easily swayed by her significant other, Mr. Can't Act His Way Out of a Wet Paper Bag With the Aid of a Steam Shovel, Night Goggles, and the Best Director Ever--Freddie Prinze, Jr. Now, I'll give this movie some credit (yes, I am that generous). Matthew Lillard, as far as I can tell from previews, has nailed the character of Shaggy, from the voice to the mannerisms. But that is not enough to make me spend money on this piece of detritus.

I have gleaned from reviews that Scooby Doo contains more infantile bodily humour and sexual undertones than is remotely good for a movie aimed at kids. If your target audience is not the adult crowd, don't bloody debase our young! Far as I can tell, it's hard enough to keep our children pure in this world as it is. There's no need for the movies that are made for them to further the degradation. In fact, we as adults can fare perfectly well without the same. Besides, Scooby Doo, (hypothetical dating between characters aside) was about innocence. It managed to be about friendship and doing good in a world that was becoming increasingly corrupt, and it pulled it off without cramming these ideas down our throats. Innocence and subtlety. Two things this movie is obviously lacking.

Inevitably, this movie will breed sequels. In ten days it has grossed $100.3 million (though the 55% decline in its second week provides some comfort and, with luck, Men In Black II will further cut into its take). And all this spells disaster for poor Sarah Michelle's career. Let us pray for a Buffy movie to lift her back out of the mire of Scooby.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:23 AM
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21 June 2002
Working on four hours of sleep here, so forgive any logical mishaps in the following.

Read an article the other day (
The Great Awakening (, and I'm not entirely sure what to think of it. How many times have we all said to ourselves, "If only there were more hours in the day!" Well, this little pill won't alter the sun's cycle, but it'll keep us operating at full capacity long enough to do all those things we've been needing or wanting to do. On the surface, it sounds terrific. But what I keep asking myself is, "Is it worth it?"

In college, I lost more sleep than I care to remember. Well, actually, I *can't* remember most of it. Besides the chronic bad memory that only allows me to remember inane movie trivia, random numbers, and certain dates, I am quite sure I pulled enough all-nighters to permanently deaden a few parts of this brain of mine. Also, one of the main attributes of all-nighters is that they tend to blur together into one big haze of not sleeping. Not much to remember there, except for the occasional breakdowns into blubbering silliness, which one usually only remembers because his friends will never, ever let him forget. Anyway, in the course of this casting off the wonderful bliss that is sleep, I made use of a variety of resources to keep the blessed nightime rest away from the doorstep of my eyelids. From yummy coffee, to sodas, to the evil that is Vivarin, to any combination of the above, to straight corn syrup. Idiocy does not begin to describe. Lessons to be learned: 1) Sleep is not to be forsaken; 2) Vivarin does not keep you awake because it is concentrated caffeine, it keeps you awake by making you feel like you're about to turn inside out; 3) 1 Vivarin + 2 Cokes = a very scary heart rate.

But now, or at least in the near future, we may be able to stay awake without the nasty side effects. Perfectly rested and alert for 40 hours, and well rested again after just 8 hours of sleep. The novel could have been finished in half the time it's taken me so far. Heck, think of the video games i could've beaten! Think of the yummy desserts that could be made! Think of the books that could be read! And yet...

I waver. It seems such a waste of life to sleep so much of it away. Yet, do we *really* want to see that much of the world go by? After all, we were made to need sleep, weren't we? Is this drug halting a natural body function which it ought not do, or is it finally vaulting us over an evolutionary hurdle, opening up a way to achieve more, and maybe figure a few things out about this strange universe of ours? I'm torn.

I guess what I am most concerned about is the widespread availability of the drug, should it come to that. As it stands now, I'm totally in favour of the narcoleptics and other sleep disordered people reaping the benefits. And it would make a lovely military aid. And if the pilot of the plane I ride in happens to fear impairment and takes the drug to assure maximum wakefulness, I say go for it. But what makes me nervous is humanity at large setting aside sleep in favour of more time to do things. Not that having more time wouldn't be terrific. See? Torn. I'm quite in favour of humanity getting off their butts and doing more. We've got loads of potential here, and we're squandering it by being lazy. We are a soft people, taking few strides towards living up to our potential. Which is not to say we aren't pretty great--we are. But I know we could do so much more. And this drug is the sort of thing that could help with that. The other part of me, though, keeps insisting it's not the way. That there must be other ways to do what we want and need, and not to rely on a little pill. To sleep, to dream, and still to realise those dreams. Can we not have it all? There is more to sleep than mere resting of the bones; of that I am sure. We do not dream merely to entertain our dozing brains. Can we so lightly give that up for a few more hours?

It's not something I can answer at this point. I'm merely musing here. It's something I tend to do when I'm sleepy.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   2:44 PM
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20 June 2002
Whither has gone the time? So many ideas to post, and yet I've been far too busy to even toss out a random comment. Well, okay, and I'm lazy. We must not forget the laziness. Verily, I am lame.

But I swear, here and now, this shall change. The silence cannot continue. The thoughts must be freed, so that they may frolic and cavort and, well, hang about in cyberspace as little chunks of data serving no real purpose, unless, of course, someone happens upon them and is woefully annoyed or astoundingly intrigued by them, in which case they do serve a purpose, and therefore, the freedom of these aforementioned thoughts is paramount. Yes, I can be longwinded. Heh.

Right. Onward. Future posts: a new preview review of the debacle that is Scooby Doo; the probing question, "What the heck happened to Michael Moore?" or "Why isn't he fun anymore?"; delvings into the further debasement of the English language; a denouncement of political correctness and all its moronic nonsense; and likely other things I cannot remember at the moment. Will I actually get around to all these topics? Hah! Not bloody likely. But I will try. Soon. At least before next week sometime. Or the next full moon. Whichever happens first. I promise. Really.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:13 PM
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11 June 2002
This morning, my wife described the "literature" of today as "self-aggrandising, neo-liberal, solipsistic vomit." And all this before a proper cup of coffee. God, I love her.

We talked about literature versus a good story. Once upon a time, that's what literature was--a good story, told in the best possible way. That's why the Greek epics and tragedies are still good reads. Dickens was a popular author in his time; it's only now that we look back on his stories and call them "literature." Today, however, literature is dry, crusty, pretentious drivel. In our lamentably post-modern age, sadly, good stories are rapidly vanishing. Who should we blame? Why, the critics, of course.

It must be admitted, though, that some blame ought to be shared by the writers who have come to believe that it is their right to be pretentious because their art demands it. Taking one's work, whether it be writing, drawing, painting, surfing, professional cat owning--whatever--too seriously seems to turn people into babbling idiots, prone to monotonous drivel--both in their "art" and their opinions on life, the universe, and everything. Not every word that issues forth from your mouth or hand is golden, pinkboy. When did the word "art" come to be synonymous with crap? Well, again, I blame the critics. The "artists" of today are the product of the critical world.

Which is not to say that all literary critics are of necessity bad. Well, okay, maybe that is what I'm saying. But the idea behind literary criticism, namely to discuss a story in an intelligent manner, is not bad. It's when intellectual hubris and boring, blathering prose get involved that everything goes to hell. And it's because of the New Critics that this is the current state of affairs. Analysing a story to death merely kills the energy of the story.

A story should be grand, beautiful, charming, sweet, horrifying, fun. It should not be a catharsis. It should not be evocative. It should be what it is-a tale. Sure it should have layers, and meaning and all those other wonderful things that make the tale rich, but in no way should it be a stagepiece for critics to dissect it into its various parts and organs to show the world all the bloody verbs, and squishy nouns, and fibrous adjectives, and cancerous adverbs that tell the tale of misspent youth leading to disillusionment, which *really* demonstrates how society has become such a weight on its people. Or am I generalising here?

Today's literature seems designed for the critics to laud and ballyhoo. The true stories, the ones that are actually entertaining, and worth our while, are designed for the reader, whoever he may be. Books are not meant for an anatomy class, they're meant to be devoured like cookies, or a good slice of cheesecake, or even sometimes tiramisu. They don't have to be mere confections. They can be well-written, thoughtful, insightful and, indeed, challenging stories--but they should always go down like the best desserts. If the book is a great box of weighty issues, stamped once, in a corner, with a real story, it's likely not worth reading. The great authors of today, the truly great ones, are the ones who tell the best stories. Bradbury, King, Gaiman, Kay, Rowling. These are the names that history ought to remember. Not the mummies writing our "literature," nor the pretentious bores lauding it.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:16 PM
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05 June 2002
Guardian | Narnia books attacked as racist and sexist

I linked to this from The Corner yesterday, and I feel the need to rant. Now, I'm not entirely sure I have the direction and focus needed to rant against the sheer idiocy to be found in this article, but by gum, I need to give it a whirl.

Exactly what kind of self-aggrandising moron does it take to attack Lewis like this? Apparently one like Philip Pullman. The Narnia books are overtly Christian. No bloody duh! Like that's a revelation? And what, pray tell, is wrong with it? I'm not even remotely Christian and I love these books. The story is beautiful, and beautifully crafted. And I personally believe it to be one of the best representations of the basic ideas of Christianity put forth. Aslan, the Christ figure, is not a lovey-dovey buddy. "He's not a tame lion." Beautifully put. The love is there, but he's not necessarily loveable, particularly when one is being a wanker. The best word to describe him should be "awesome" in its true, non-eighties meaning. In a world that insists more and more on making everything divine accessible to everyone, and equal to us, Lewis' works still show us the way a god ought to be perceived.

But Pullman objects to this, and his objections seem to paint him as socialist and humanist. Now, I'm a great believer is us humans. I'm not sure we're living up to our potential, but as beings, we're pretty damned amazing. That doesn't put us on the level of the divine, and the idea of a "republic of heaven" has got to be one of the grossest examples of humanistic hubris I've ever read. Any heaven (pick your religion) is by it's very nature apolitical. There may be a hierarchy involved, but that may be merely our human brains trying to apply what we can conceive to a state of being of which we have only the faintest glimmer of an understanding. Does Pullman honestly believe a true heaven involves us sitting about and ruling ourselves, and debating, and trying to determine where we should go from here? That's earth, buddy. That's what we've got now, because that's how we interact with the living world. And if that situation, this heavenly republic, exists after our time here, then it cannot be a heaven, but rather a hell, complete with bureaucrats to run it. I cannot believe that any heaven, in any belief system, would operate on a human principle of thought.

Back to Lewis. Narnia is the ideal place, the perfect heaven. Yet, it's not the real Narnia, as we discover in the last battle. How can it be? Narnia, like any other land of this here earth, has governments, and wars, and most importantly, an ending. It is a reflection of the true Narnia, a segue into the highest level of perfection that is the true, final place the characters go to. And note that Lewis does not take us to that place with the characters. How could he? It is perfection, beyond the scope of our human ability to comprehend. We, as readers, stop with the characters on the mere threshold to that divine plane. Like all the great authors and poets throughout the history of man, he can suggest but not truly present what we cannot know of. Why else did Dante repeatedly get blinded by the light? Bright light! (swoon) Bright light! (swoon) Was he a Mogwai from Gremlins? No, the poet, knowing the limitations of ever describing a heaven, picked a human image of power--light--to suggest the power of that heaven. It is bright, and beautiful, and beyond our ability to fathom. It cannot be a republic--that is just asinine.

Okay, the crux of Pullman's complaint--"It is monumentally disparaging of girls and women. It is blatantly racist. One girl was sent to hell because she was getting interested in clothes and boys." Whatever! The first and brightest child to enter Narnia is Lucy, the youngest girl. Though Peter becomes High King, there is no doubt at any point that Lucy is the strongest, most beautiful soul of them all. Only she has the strength in the face of her siblings' doubt to push on, and believe Aslan is there with them. Where is the disparagement in that? What Pullman chooses to focus on is Susan not joining the others in the true Narnia. Susan has chosen an earthly life full of earthly concerns. Now, perhaps my reading is off, but Lewis does not suggest Susan will of necessity go to hell. Aslan suggests Susan may be lost, but if one has followed the stories, there is always room for salvation. Both Edmund and Eustace are horrible people at the start, but both find their way, and are accepted into Aslan's kingdom. Heck, Edmund betrays his siblings, along with the rest of Narnia, and he is still accepted. Cannot Susan, too, come around eventually? And it is not the concern with earthly things that separates her from the rest, so much as her making that her sole concern. To be honest, not enough of us are balanced in our lives. As for Pullman's racism claim, I can only say this: Is he high?

Pullman's claims, I can only believe, are attempts to further push his own works upon the public. Frankly, I would be hard pressed to find any writer whose personal beliefs, ideas, and opinions do not make they're way into their works. Some are veiled, some overt, but that is the nature of writers, and has probably been so since we picked up that first stick and started doodling in the sand. I've even got a little theory about JK Rowling's 4 Hogwarts schools being representative of the countries of the UK. Perhaps she didn't intend it, perhaps she did. Who knows. The point is, it wouldn't surprise me if she leaked in some political views because it served the story well. If it serves the story, then all is fair in love and fiction. Or something like that. Lewis wrote about something he believed in--shockaroonies! It's not as though he forced his books down our throats--we are free to not read them, to read them, and dismiss them, or to read and love them. It's kinda the way this world works (well, at least in our more free countries).

I admit to not having read any of Pullman's works. If the views presented in this article are a correct indication of the way the man thinks, then I do not regret missing out on his writings. And I am sorry for all the children whose worldviews might be infected by such ideas as Pullman might spout in his own fiction. Propaganda, indeed!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:28 PM
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04 June 2002
I received an email yesterday from a marketing company wanting me to pay them ("a really low-cost and effective way to advertise"--whoppee!) to submit my blog to hundreds of thousands of search engines.

Now, why in the name of Zeus' left earlobe would I want to do such a thing?

Besides friends and my beloved wife, I can't imagine that anyone out there would be all that interested in reading my blatherings. And to be honest, I was a bit annoyed at being let down by an email that purported to be a random person writing to comment on said blatherings. I would love to hear from a random person--though insults and so forth, I can do without, unless, of course, they're terribly witty and well-written.

This blog is mainly for me. For me to write whenever I can, about whatever I can--so as to keep this lump of grey matter floating about my skull finely tuned, always thinking. It's grown far too mushy of late, and if I'm to finish the novel with the power, intensity, and well-wrought ickiness the story deserves, then i need to be in top form. Now that I have beaten this pathetic excuse for a computer here at work, and can post properly, the desired effect seems to be coming into play. I may even be ready to throw into the whole op ed arena sometime soon.

But none of this need be advertised. If someone happens upon the blog and finds me witty, or interesting, or whatever, that's great. So be it. But the last thing I need to do is spread myself across the internet like cyber jam. No, not this jelly-pinched wolf.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:12 AM
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03 June 2002
Welcome to the first ever Rock Stupid Movie Preview Review!

Why a Preview Review? Simply, when the preview tells you all you need to know, why bother seeing the wretched movie?

Today's review: "Like Mike"

Let's be honest, we've all seen this movie before. Many, many times. Why? Why do they keep making this movie? Different title, different actors (well, usually), same lame plot. This movie was done well once upon a time, when it was called "Teen Wolf." (Well, okay, you may have quibbles whether or not that one was well done, but I enjoyed it, and this being my blog, your opinions don't really matter, now do they?) Anyway, now it's being done with a rapper, Lil Bow Wow. I'm not even going to get into the lameness of the rapping world at this point, but why, oh, why must these people consistently try to act? And what idiot in Hollywood keeps giving them the opportunities? Scowling into a camera should not be the only pre-requisite for landing a starring role. Only two rappers I can think of have proven decent actors--Ice T (who seems destined to make horrifically poor choices in roles) and Will Smith (who also happens to be, I think, the only decent rapper out there--at least amongst those who rap in English). (I should further qualify that, since Will Smith is actually one of the few rappers who does make use of the English language. I refuse to believe Ebonics qualifies as English, and how I wish we could find a cure for the Ebonic Plague--Mr. Smith's own term, if I am not mistaken.)

Yes, well, back on topic. Not only is the "Be Like Mike" campaign terribly dated by this point, but the whole concept of this movie is dated. Let me guess: main character is a loser; main character obtains unnatural ability that makes character either famous or popular or both; main character is resented for newfound abilities and fame by true friends; main character succeeds on own merits, thereby winning back true friends and showing what a wonderful person the main character truly is.

Why on earth would anyone want to see this predictable piece of tripe? I'm sure the soundtrack will be kickin'. Is that really a reason to spend $7 or more to shift in our seats uncomfortably for an hour and a half as the bad acting, mediocre directing, and pathetic script unfold before us? I think not. But this movie will likely make enough money to warrant several more Lil Bow Wow works of wonder before he either gets strung out on the drug du jour or ends up in jail. Yes, I'm generalising. Perhaps it's all an image. Perhaps his home life is perfect and happy. Gods, I hope so. Because if this is the beginning of his film career, he's going to need all the love and familial support he can get.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:43 AM
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Rant 'n' roll, baby!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:14 AM
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Class, pick up your pencils. This is a test.

Long time, no speak. My bleedin' work computer is having issues posting, and as I've been too busy anyway, no words hath come forth from me. So, in a move to hopefully rectify the problem, and see an end to the pop up window claiming my page contains no data, which then renders any page on unavailable to me, I have downloaded w.bloggar. Let us all hope this works, so that my words may reach the, well, two people who actually read this.

Time's up. The test is done. Put down your pencils.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:34 AM
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