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30 April 2003
Readings ... and Reflections

Couple of good pieces on NRO by Jonah Goldberg (
here) and John Derbyshire (here) fit together well with some thoughts I've been having for a while now.

::prepares self for inevitable backlash in comments section::

Liberals are touchy. Moreso than ever, it seems. As Goldberg's piece deftly points out, there's no end to the Left's aversion to criticism. Apparently, it's all right for them to make comparisons between Bush and Hitler (really, when was the last time you were hauled off to Auschwitz for stating your views, Ms. Sarandon?--note: I have no examples of her actually making said comparison, but am using Sarandon, who has certainly been one of the louder voices from that camp, as a representative of the mindset espousing such idiotic ideas), but when anyone (on the right, or just amongst the general populace) criticises these public figures who have so graciously gifted us with their wisdom, well then, those poor liberals are just terribly persecuted, aren't they?

Simple and true: we do not deny the Left's right to speak their minds and say what they will. But by the same token, we on the other side of the fence have the right to make fun of them for it. This PC, touchy-feely world that we seem to be teetering on is a dangerous place. It's one thing to respect another's feelings (one doesn't generally make rude comments or jokes when someone has just lost a loved one, for instance), but it's quite another to be expected to stifle your own rights in deference to someone else (of course, making the choice to not speak, and being forced not to do so is what we're really talking about here--no one can rightly claim the Lefties are being forced to make fools of themselves). If you say something stupid (especially in as public a forum as these stars keep blundering into), you should expect to face the consequences. Just as here, on this small, inconsequential blog, I must be ready to admit my own idiocy if I can be shown that I have, in fact, misspoken or not explained myself properly. (For a great take on free speech in today's society (or yesterday's, for that matter), I urge you to take a look at Dennis Miller's rant on that topic--go here, click the drop-down box of rants, and click the "Free Speech" one. As always with Miller, it's well-written and quite humorous.)

This brings me to part two of my thoughts, and that which Derb touched on in his piece. Personal responsibility. My wife and I have talked about this one much in the past. For most liberals (again, I say "most"--only a fool could speak of so vast a group of people and not recognise the wide variety of shades of opinion which run through it), it seems that to take any sort of responsibility for anything in their lives is the greatest affront to their rights. The generalised viewpoint is that hippiedom should live on always--we should all be able to do whatever we want whenever with whomever with no restrictions. And who, as a teen, has not held that view of the world? (This is where Derb comes in.) Both myself and my wife once entertained notions the Left holds dear. But you know what? We grew up. Life, when lived right, will not allow you to run free and do as you will. Oddly, on the other side of accountability, where one in his young adulthood might least expect to find it, is happiness. True happiness. Not that fleeting, self-absorbed, self-gratifying paltry shadow of happiness that Hollywood offers us, but true happiness. It's why I'm finding the Catholic faith more and more intriguing. It's why I can't help but smile everytime I think about the stable, beautiful, wonderful relationship my wife and I have. It's why I still believe there's hope for us silly humans.

I think we've all got to go through this. The sad thing is how many people seem willing (often defiantly so) to stay in that dreamworld, and think "the Life!" is actually as satisfying as all those things that Derb lists: "books with no pictures, music more than ten years old, art other than comic strips, playing organized sports, parents, siblings, religion, school, politics, creative work with the hands, creative work with the mind, work in general, any academic pursuit, “early to bed, early to rise,” any uniformed service (police, military), chastity, self-restraint, discipline." They're not. Maybe they're more exciting, but they're not more satisfying. Not truly. Not in the way our human souls truly crave. And if what makes this Jelly-Pinched Wolf happy is seen as boring by the Left, then that's all right.

But don't think that lets you off the hook when your only defense for your own ignorant proclamations is a whiny complaint. That just don't cut the mustard.

**Note: Yes, I realise there are some pretty whacked out views over on the extreme Right, as well; that's not the point of the post, so don't waste your time throwing links at me on that particular topic. Thankee-sai.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   5:55 PM
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Endings and Beginnings

Today I finished reading Volume One of the story my wife is currently working on. Oh, how I wish Volume Two were waiting in the wings to be read! Yargh! 'Tis very good, I must say, and again, you should all be very jealous that I've read it, and you have not (though there are a couple of you who'll be getting to read it soon, from what I know). Terrific read, and I cannot wait until she gets the chance to write the next volume.

Day One of the Great Novel Edit

Also today, I began work on the final edit of my own novel. It has begun. Mostly formatting and running through it with the spelling and grammar tools. I've made it through the first part, and ought to be finished with the other two by tomorrow. (Being jobless is good for some things, at least.) Then I can sit and read this thing through from beginning to end for the first time ever, and correct whatever issues come up along the way. The plan had been to begin May 1--that has been upped a day by the unemployment, but I'm still basically on schedule. Ought to be getting ready to query my first agent by mid to late May. Things are rolling!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:44 PM
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29 April 2003

For any fans of Rod Dreher's stuff out there, he's now writing regularly for the Dallas Morning News. Here's a quick and easy link to his columns--

The DMN is requiring registration now, but it's a free registration at the moment. Enjoy!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:20 PM
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28 April 2003
Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, a Ford Owner?

So, I made it through the interview. Goodness but I hate those things. I really think people should just look at my resumé, call, and say, "Right, when can you start?" Ah, but that would be too easy, now wouldn't it?

As interviews go, this one was pretty good, I must say. The guy was pleasant, asked good questions, and seemed to like my answers. Haven't had as good a feeling about an interview as this in some time, but we shall see. It may still not pan out, and then I will search elsewhere. Despite the title of the earlier post, I may be jobless, but I am no loser. In fact, I'd make quite an asset to any company. So long as that weird curse of mine where everywhere I work begins to go under after two years is not still in effect. Come to think of it, the last place was losing people like crazy, and starting to resemble none other than a rapidly sinking ship. Hmmmm.

Anyway, I should know by the end of the week or so. In the meantime, I'll be applying like mad, and hopefully suffering through more interviews. Hoping to suffer--that's never good. Ah well, publishing is yet a long way off. Until then I must have an income. So it goes.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   5:19 PM
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25 April 2003
Break in the Clouds

Well, I gotta say, I like my temp agency. Not two hours after I'd been told of my fate, they were calling to let me know they'd got me an interview for a position Monday afternoon. It's temp-to-perm, and actually pays better than my current (or rather, soon-to-end) position. Of course, it's just an interview, so I'm not out of the woods yet. Need to brush up on my Access skills this weekend, and possibly go ahead and get that black suit I'll need for J&R's wedding in June (goodness! that's really soon!). Yes, I've got to make one heck of an impression on Monday.

Anyway, not a great day, but people here have been very cool. In fact, they've been rather stupefied--no one in my (former) department knew anything about it, and all my duties will be reverting back to them. Something they don't really have the time for, and certainly aren't pleased about. Ah, well. They're good people, and they'll get by. As for me, I guess it's just time to move on anyway.

Everything happens for a reason.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:26 PM
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Jobless Loser

That would be me, as of today.

The company I've temped at for about a year and a half has decided they can't afford to keep me on any longer. They told me this morning, and that this would be my last day. At least they assured me it had nothing to do with the quality of my work. Simply cost factors.

Can't tell you how thrilled I am to be jobless now that my wife is in school full-time. Whee. Thus begins a frantic search for new employment. Anything sounds good right about now. And though I swore I'd never wait tables again, it seems a worthy prospect now. And time to bleg, too. Anyone out there in the DFW area know of a non phone-related desk job that's available? Preferably looking for Irving or Las Colinas spots, to cut down on commute, but I'm doubting I'll be very picky. Blah. This is not a good day.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:49 AM
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24 April 2003
Another Dragon Waiting to Be Quashed?

Following up on yesterday's events, Andrew Stuttaford linked on NRO to
this article.

If St. George is leading the charge, maybe Tony Blair can find the gumption to rally the troops? For Britain's sake, we can only hope.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:45 PM
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23 April 2003

Ever had one of those days where every sound just grates on your nerves? Where everything, from peoples' voices to their staplers to the shuffling of papers seems at least three times as loud as it should be, and it just makes you want to hit something? Maybe it's because the air conditioning is actually not on for once. Or maybe it's a little signal to us that we need a short break from civilisation. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing.

Ah, it would be nice to settle into a smallish tent** by a fire near a mountain river for a few weeks. Hunt for what is needed to survive, drink from the cool water of the river. Not that nature is perfectly quiet, either, of course. But that's my kind of noise. You can't grow up in the woods of upstate New York and not appreciate it. Yes, that would be nice--a brief respite from civilisation. Just enough to make me long for people sounds again. Sigh.

**No, Kathy, we could not take a camper to this fictional mountain river, either. It would defeat the purpose. But I may be willing to relent someday on the actual owning of a camper.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:22 AM
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Making Up For Lost Time

Sorry for the radio silence these last couple days. I was out sick on Monday (it was a busy weekend, and I seem to have exhausted myself), and then yesterday was seriously busy due to the missed day of work. But now I'm back, and the number of posts today (however short they may be) should make up for the previous lack.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:06 AM
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Concurrence of Events

Not only does today happen to be both the birthday of William Shakespeare and St. George's Day**, but it is also the birthday of a friend.

Happy Birthday, Cob!

**For anyone unfamiliar with St. George, there's a brief overview
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:59 AM
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Good Reading

There's a good piece
here on NRO today, which makes several similar points to one of my posts (or at least a point I clarified in the comments section) a couple weeks ago.

Worth a read.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:46 AM
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18 April 2003
Not the Only One

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thought it might be nice to take a week off from dealing with war things, and other stressful political topics. James Lileks' "bleats" for this week follow the same line of thinking. Today's (
here) is definitely worth a read. He talks about children's books, as well as the "wisdom" of Madonna. Scarily, she sounds an awful lot like Sheryl Crow.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:14 AM
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17 April 2003
Author! Author!**

So, the other evening, my wife and I were chatting about our authorial preferences. See, her current Story has authorial interjections, and we were pining for the strong author presence of yesteryear. Most of today's authors, we noted, don't really have much of a presence in the books they write. And so while a story may be fairly good, the lack of a distinct voice or style seems to be the order of the day, and it detracts greatly from the pleasure of reading even a decent story. It seems most authors, regardless of genre, are just going through the motions, plugging names into a pre-fab plot. Worse than that, they don't even seem to be taking much joy in what they're doing.

We took a look at our favourite authors, and it seems that few are current. I'll always be a fan of Stephen King. He's not the best out there, and he has many faults, but he's a master yarnspinner. As Kathy noted, he's the sort of author who makes you feel like you're sitting about a campfire as he tells his stories. And as for his Dark Tower series, I'd say it's one of the best fantasy works out there today. Another current author we share a love for is Neil Gaiman. His is truly a distinctive voice, and he tells some of the most unusual and lovely tales I've read. For myself, Dan Simmons, Robin Hobb, Robert Anton Wilson, and (of course) Harlan Ellison stand out as holding to a more classical approach to writing.

We realised that our tastes actually harken back to an earlier era of fiction. Kathy's recently fallen in love with the works of Patrick O'Brian, and we're both fans of Poe and Hawthorne--all of whom have a very strong authorial presence in their stories. Where has this style gone to these days? Now, I realise we haven't read everything out there, and so we can only judge based on what we have read (she has certainly read more than I), but it seems that, like today's poetry (see
here), fiction just isn't what it used to be. Is it all just because the publishers look at nothing that won't produce a certain profit? Or that they'll only publish those things that fit the current trends? Likely that's part of it, but I think the brunt of the blame lies with we the people. Few of us have a proper classical education, and it seems most universities have become dens of post-modern rubbish. That limp thought seems to have run amok and tainted far too many minds. I would venture to say that since the New Critics came along, more and more authors have been writing like critics instead of writers. If the author interjects anything into the story, it removes one from the story, forcing the reader to say, "Hey, wait, this is but a story!" and then go on. But for the New Critics, everything was contained within the world of the story (or poem, as it were). Anything outside the text itself was unimportant. If we recognise the presence of the author, we can't very well stay entirely within the world of the text, can we? So with the rise of that thinking, out goes the nifty interjections, out go the wonderful allusions, and out goes any sense of tradition.

I'd also wager that a major cause for the pathetic state of literature today can be found (I hate to say this, being such a film buff and all) in the cinema. Movies have changed the way we view the world, and I fear they've also changed the way many people write. One of the examples Kathy and I discussed was C.S. Lewis. His description in the Narnia books is sparse, to say the least--but it never once leaves you lacking, or wondering about how things appear in the stories. Even without the wealth of details, The Chronicles are incredibly rich tales. Much of today's works, by contrast, often have page long descriptions of a character's shirt. Description is a wonderful thing, but one can go too far. When you force a reader to know a thing exactly as you have conceived it, you remove their ability to imagine it on their own. I love movies, but let's face it--few offer the imaginative power that books do. They show you everything you need for the story, and all in the audience are witness to the exact same depiction. It seems to me that people now write as if their story were nothing more than a movie. That's just plain wrong.

Right, so where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. I mean, I can't very well change the way people write, or force the publishers to stop publishing the same books in different covers. I suppose all I can do (as my wife also does) is keep writing the way I think it ought to be done--following the traditions and imputing my own style onto them. And maybe, if there are enough of us out there, we can spark a small revolution in the realm of the written word. And failing that, at least we can trust that we will always entertain.

**Yes, it has occurred to me that it's ironic I should title this post about writing after a movie (and not even a very good one, if I remember correctly) starring Al Pacino. But hey, at least Pacino made a film entirely about trying to understand Richard III. Besides, the title just sort of popped into my head, and I couldn't resist.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:47 AM
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16 April 2003
Blinded by the ... um ... Dark

For any Buffy fans out there who did not see last night's episode, stop reading. Now!

Okay, for those who were watching, I ask, where do we go from here? I mean, except for the sudden and unexpected death of Tara last season, a main character hasn't been hurt this badly (one can hardly count the beatings that Buffy and Spike take, what with their supernatural healing and strength and such) since Angel tortured Giles back in Season Two (assuming memory isn't failing me--oh, and I suppose the flaying of Warren could count, but he was not a beloved character). Xander has been grievously injured, having had his eye gouged (nay, pushed into his skull until it burst). That alone would be bad enough. However, the purveyor of this attack did even more damage to the forces of good than that alone.

Nathan Fillion (formerly Captain Mal on Firefly) joins the show as a very deranged priest (or former priest, or guy who likes to think he's a priest, or demon who thinks he's a guy who's a priest--it's really hard to tell at this point), and besides taking poor Xander's eye, he's also slain a few potential Slayers, broken several more, and worst of all, I fear, dealt a serious blow to Buffy's resolve. Caleb (Fillion) seems the smooth-talking, yet maniacal preacher-man at first, yet turns out to be something more. Whatever he is, human or other, he has great power, and is a worthy acolyte of the First. Not even Faith or Spike did much good against him. This does not bode well.

Of course, all is still speculation, and there is precious little time left for the show. However it ends, we shall have to trust in Joss to do it well, and to satisfy our need for a proper ending to our much-beloved show. So, setting all the pain and drama aside, let us talk acting. Though I preferred Fillion on Firefly, he's darned good at being evil here on Buffy. He's soft spoken, and his mania merely seeths beneath the surface. There's nothing redeeming about the character, and Fillion plays that corruption well. This is part of the reason, I supect, that my wife will not likely ever watch that episode again (the injury of Xander's being a major cause, as well), though she did like it. I, however, was fascinated by the way he played the character, and am actually heartened by it. See, about midway through writing the novel, I started to cast it, even though I suspect it'd not make a very good movie (Why bother then, you ask? Because it's fun, I say). However, casting the main character proved a difficult task, until my wife suggested Fillion. I was pretty much sold on the idea from his performance on Firefly, but his portrayal of Caleb has now cemented it. Not that my main character is in any way demented, or similar to Caleb, but Fillion's acting shows the exact kind of depth I'd need, and that pleaseth me.

I know this is a bit rambly, but my brain is being a bit rambly today, and so that's the kind of post you get. You'll just have to deal.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:49 AM
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15 April 2003
I Am Switzerland!

Well, not exactly, but I am going to make a stab at staying out of the political arena this week. Mostly, there's just so little going on to post about. I mean, we're sweeping the last of the rats out of Iraq, and of course, there are stirrings of getting a new Iraq in order, but not much else. And getting that new government for Iraq (much to the anti-warriors' dismay, I'm sure) is going to take some time. If it's to be done right, it can't be done overnight. It'd be like skipping the training wheels and sticking your kid on a bicycle at the top of a hill, giving him a solid push, and shouting, "See you at home later, son!" I'm not saying we need to hang out there for the next ten years--just that this won't be an instantaneous occurrence.

And so I shall sit back, and let things happen, and dally in more restful topics this week. Unless something serious, or egregiously agitating to me comes along. Won't be able to resist that call to arms. But I thought a warning was in order. Things should be light (or at least lighthearted) about here this week.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:31 PM
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11 April 2003
Dude, Where's My Oil?

"No Blood For Oil." We've all heard the inane litany from the anti-war crowd since this whole thing got going. So, now that we've secured Baghdad, and the end is at least in sight (certainly there's some cleanup to be done yet in Iraq, plus all the post-warness of setting up a new, free government for the Iraqis), what I want to know is this: Where's my oil? I mean, if that's really what we went to war for (and not the destruction of a dictatorship as I had so naïvely thought), then where is it? Darn it all, I want my barrel now!

Oh, but wait, you say. It's not we the people who will reap the benefits of the Iraqi oil. It's just President Bush and his cronies, right? Am I the only one for whom that argument sounds very hollow? Clearly it's easier for people to believe than that our President might actually want to do some good in the world. After all, he's a bad Republican who stole an election! (Forgive me, the spirit of Michael Moore must have possessed me just now--I shudder at the thought.) You know, I'm partial to conspiracy theories myself. They're quite the hoot, says I. But there comes a point where you really have to draw the line and look at things reasonably. Take JFK, for instance. There are a million of little "facts" that don't mesh, and actual facts that have obviously been swept under the rug. We'll never know the full truth--it's that simple. But some of the conspiratorial assertions are just downright outlandish, and it is these that people tend to slather over (Frank, where are you when I need an example?!). Use your reason!

Now, let's look at things from the other side. Is George W. Bush a perfect man? Heck no. And I'm willing to bet he'd be the first to admit it. But who among us is? Perfection is not a prerequisite for the presidency--if it were, we'd never fill the spot. Heck, decency isn't even a necessity (Clinton, anyone?), though we certainly hope our president is a decent, honest person. He is, after all, often the face and voice of the nation. But this doesn't mean a president always has a clean past (or present for that matter). Jumping to the opposite extreme is equally foolish, though. The leader of the American people does not necessarily have to have his own personal agenda, as so many anti-warriors seem to believe. If he takes his position seriously (and we must trust that he does, or else this little Union of ours isn't really worth much), then he will make the security and well-being of America his agenda. Only when it is obvious that he is not doing this (and I don't believe he is in any way negligent currently), should we call him on it.

And now I'm getting into areas I should not, for there are many who are far better with such ideas. A Politics major I was not. Heck, I didn't even mean to get quite so tangential. I'm just sitting here wondering where my oil is. My car is in serious need of an oil change--I could use those spoils the peaceniks claim this war is supposed to reap.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:35 PM
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Done! (see
here for more info) Last night, I managed to fix the opening lines of the third stanza, which had been giving me serious trouble. And then I managed to wrangle out the last few lines, clean it up, and present it to my wife for her approval.

I am happy to say I apparently did quite a good job, as she was very pleased. I'm pleased, too. There were times I felt as though I was smacking my head against a bespiked wall, but in the end, I managed to pull it off. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised. It's just been forever since I've worked on a poem. And this one couldn't be just a throwaway piece of fluff, either. It had to be good enough to be worthy of my wife's story. I think it is--she certainly likes it, at least.

Anyway, now that I've got that done, only the Polidori story remains, and then I get to engage in some minor dabbling until the Great Editing begins. Yes, this is a good feeling.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:42 AM
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09 April 2003
Cheesy Tasty Death in a Bun

Mmmm. Someone brought in kolaches today. So tasty, so not good for me, and so nice of whoever brought them. This almost makes it worth being at work on a Wednesday.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:35 AM
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08 April 2003
Dead, Dead, Deadski

Is it true? Did Hussein and his sons truly succumb to the latest barrage of bunker busters? Looks that way, but I'm not sure. And neither, apparently, is anyone else. It's a lousy position to be in, really. If our Marines had gone in and shot the losers, that'd be one thing. But given the size of that crater, even DNA testing may prove fruitless. And that uncertainty is just going to feed the dis-information circuit (read: Iraqi Information Minister and anything out of the mouths--or pens--of Al-Jazeera). Of course, there is always the possibility they're not dead. I'm willing to entertain that one. Saddam and the boys are like roaches. Just when you think you've got them, they pop up somewhere else with a smarmy grin (which is not to suggest that roaches are in any way smarmy--I would venture to say they're far more clean and respectable than the Husseins could hope to be).

I do hope we get some solid, conclusive evidence of their deaths (or even to the contrary) soon, though. The not knowing is far too annoying.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:05 AM
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07 April 2003
Creative Day

I'd like to be posting on "important" matters. I'd like to be all political and such today, but I think that last post will be about the extent of it. I'm far too much in the mood for creative things today. Still working on the poem for my wife's work (see
here), though it does proceed apace. And before Saturday, I need to get something written for the Spring Polidori. Not to mention that of late I can't keep my mind from wandering toward the second novel.

Now that the first one's written, and just awaiting the editing splurge I'll begin May 1, the second one is beginning to seep into my thoughts here and there. I've had the idea for some time (a fun mixture of Hitchhiker's Guide, The Phantom Tollbooth, X Files, Sliders, and, of course, my own odd aesthetic sense) and even managed to write the opening paragraph, but much of the plot remains yet nebulous. I do know, though, that it'll be a fun and weird romp differing a goodly bit from my first effort--yet I doubt I can escape that tendency to dabble in horrific elements. Yes, I suspect that by mid-summer, I'll begin that in earnest.

Of course, for now I've got to write that blasted story for Polidori. Curse you, Jonathon (unless it wasn't you, that is), for picking this year's theme! Fie on you! That's okay, I have ideas. Now I've just gotta find the time to write the darned thing. Sigh.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:31 AM
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War games

Great story
here, which K-Lo linked to on the Corner over the weekend.

To all the war critics, I say this: Yeah, it really looks like the Iraqis don't want us in there liberating them. Uh-huh, sure.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:13 AM
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Untitled 101

My wife starts animation school today. In fact, she's about 40 minutes into her first class right now. Much happified am I by this. She's been talking about wanting to have her own studio, and to completely revolutionise the way we silly Americans view animation, for some time now. I couldn't be happier that her dream is finally coming to fruition.

Gambatte, Kathy!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:44 AM
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03 April 2003
Not a Romantics Song*

Apparently, I was talking in my sleep last night. And according to my wife, I was saying something very unlike me.

Me: (emphatically) "Yes! Greed! Yes."

I may even have gestured to give added emphasis to my words. I say this now to you, Chris, get out of my dreams!

*For those young folk out there not in the know, this is a reference to the eighties group, the Romantics, and their song, "Talking in Your Sleep."
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:42 AM
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Yet another

Clearly, Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, is as wizened as are the Dixie Chicks. Again and again I wonder about things like
this. Do musicians (as well as Hollywood's elite, for that matter) realise how little we care about what they think? People don't go to a concert (especially at those prices) to see Vedder slam (literally) Bush. They don't go to hear Sheryl Crow whine about what she thinks (I use that word loosely) is the best way to attain peace--that being, of course, "to not have enemies." People attend concerts to hear music they love played live, because as lovely as the crisp and clear recordings on a cd are, there's just something special about a live performance.

Vedder talked about free speech. Yea, verily, free speech is a wonderful thing. And he has every right to voice his opinions. But again, that's not what those fans went to the concert for. Music, not opinions. Now, if the opinions happen to be part of the songs, well, then that's all fine and dandy (though I can't say I'm all that sure about that song, "Bushleaguer"--sounds more moronic than opinionated, but that may just be me). Take someone like Bob Dylan, for instance. I'm not a fan (though I certainly respect him as a songwriter), and I know little about the man (time for you to chime in here, Kiki), but I'm fairly sure that many of his songs have political leanings. It comes with his nature, and the times he started in. But there's nothing about this that's of the grandstanding, look-at-me variety. In fact, I've always seen Dylan as a "take it or leave it" kind of guy. Vedder, on the other hand, isn't content with the musical aspect of things. He has to try to ram his opinions down peoples' throats. And charging them for it, as well. That's not free speech. It's extortion.

I like Pearl Jam's first few albums. After that, I really lost interest in them. Musically. I've never been interested in them as people. Sheryl Crow is a dimwit. But I like her music. When will these people learn that because they produce good music, or act well, it does not mean we care about anything else in their lives? At least, we shouldn't. After all, it's far too often that we the fans give rise to the stars' egos. Still, maybe if more and more of us walk out on concerts, a message might get through. Give us your music, but speak your views on your own time.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:24 AM
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02 April 2003
Movin' On

Today is Rod Dreher's last day with National Review. You can read his goodbye
here. No more will we get his pieces on Catholicism, or Crunchy Conservatism, or his Corner postings on Louisiana culture.

On the bright side, he's moving here to Dallas, to write for the Dallas Morning News. So welcome to land of ugly architecture and a million restaurants, Rod!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:51 PM
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#&*%#$* Words!

I've been allowed the honour of writing a poem for insertion in my wife's new work (see
here). It's been so long since I've worked on a poem, it's being something of a trial. Not that I have any fears about being able to pull it off. I've got the first couple of stanzas done (though I'm not at all pleased with the last two lines of the second), and one more stanza should do it. Still, I've spent so much time on the novel, I'm finding it hard to bend my mind the necessary way to write this thing.

This has gotten me thinking about poetry in general. You see, anyone who's read my stuff knows that I don't write like most others out there today. To be perfectly frank, most poetry today is crap. I'm going to be very pompous, and possibly even pretentious about this, and think it's well within my right.

I avoid reading poetry online as if it were spray cheese--or worse, onions. The drivel that's out there is worse than scary, it's damaging to the art itself. I suppose there's always been a self-involved aspect to poetry, but at least once upon a time it was done artfully. The craft is gone. And we are left with a lot of hideous "expression." It's not only from the sullen youth of the world, either. You can find the same cringe-worthy expression of feelings in the poetry slams that have become so popular in recent years, and even in the works of a good number of "noted" poets.

Now, maybe I'm a bit of a classicist, but poetry has never been about feelings for me. It's evocative, to be sure, but toying with the reader's emotions and carrying on about the author's emotions are two very different things. No, the way I see it, poetry is, first and foremost, about the language. It's about making every word count, and making the workl sing as beautifully as possible. It's about making the reader view things outside of their everydayness--seeing them not in the bright and glaring light they're used to, but from the darker corners and shadows that skulk at the edge of our sight. Poetry is a craft. Words do not merely flow from the author (or should not, at any rate); they are to be plucked and placed and hammered and snipped and rearranged and molded until every last one of them is where it belongs, serving the purpose of whatever theme the author has demanded of them. This is not to say there is no room for inspiration. I'd be a fool to claim otherwise, and I am sometimes carried away by its whims myself. But it should never be used as a crutch.

I could go on, but I won't. Read some Dylan Thomas. Or Shakespeare. Or Keats. The old boys knew a thing or two about the craft. Those ideas have apparently been lost on us today. Post-modernism continues to wreak havoc. Poetry is in a sorry shape. But there's a new head of the NEA by the name of Dana Gioia (see here). I've not read much of his work, but at a glance, it seems he knows what's what. It's a good sign. Let us hope the art doth not wallow for much longer.

Of course, none of this changes the fact that writing this new poem for my wife is being quite the challenge. 'S'okay--I like challenges. And I'll get back to form soon. Just need to retrain myself, and remember to let the words know, in no uncertain terms, who's boss. And then I'll have a poem for her story that will truly sing, and hopefully make her proud as well.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:16 AM
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Either no one knows, no one cares, or no one's reading anymore.

Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:28 AM
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01 April 2003

Curiosity strikes. Anyone know the origins of April Fool's? At a guess, I'd say it's Celtic, but it occurs to me I've never heard where we obtained such an odd tradition. Or if I have, then I've clearly forgotten it.

If you know, post some comments!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:10 AM
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It's April Fool's Day again. These last few years, I've found myself consistently surprised by the coming of this day. It used to be, back when I was a young 'un, that I would see this day coming well in advance. Not that I ever really played many pranks. Not the sort of thing I've ever been good at. But still, one needs to be prepared. You've gotta keep your guard up and be ready to lie through your teeth if the opportunity presents itself.

But for a while now, I have seen the day come and go with nary a thought about it. Except the occasional, "My goodness, it's April already?!" Is it just that I'm old? It's a good excuse, but I'm not sure it really holds water. There are plenty of people here at work who have made note of the day--ones older than I. Is it just that I don't care, and never really did? I suppose that's possible, but even if I'm no good at it, there certainly is a bit of the trickster in me. After all, as a writer, you sort have to love leading people about by the nose. Otherwise, it's really not worthwhile.

Alas, I don't have a point, or an answer. Just musing. You can go about your business now.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:52 AM
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