Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Geek's Dream

I just got back from seeing Meet the Robinsons and it was awesome! I liked it even better then The Incredibles.

What makes it a geek's dream, you ask?

Time machines, memory scanners, and intergalactic pizza delivery super heroes for starters.

Its a very, very Disney movie.

Which makes me even more excited about leaving for DW in 5 days!

P.S. Check out this article about the wave of new 3-D movies. Pretty neat! (Or should I make that "Neat-O"?)
Disiri of the Aelf

Her laugh was like nothing on earth. It was as if there were golden bells hanging among the flowers through a forest of the loveliest trees that could ever be, and a wind sighing there was ringing all the bells. When I could open my eyes again, I whispered, "Who are you? Really?"

"She you called." She smiled, not trying to hide her eyes anymore. Maybe a leopard would have eyes like those, but I kind of doubt it.

"I called Seaxneat's wife Disira. You aren't her."

"I am Disiri the Mossmaiden, and I have kissed you."

I could still feel her kiss, and her hair smelled of new-turned earth and sweet smoke.

"Men I have kissed cannot leave until I send them away."

I wanted to stand up then, but I knew I could never leave her. I said, "I'm not a man, Disiri, just a kid."

by Gene Wolfe
(p. 57)

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Literary Trinity

By way of the Claw...

Name up to three (Ha! three, my foot!) characters from books...

1). You wish were real so you could meet them.

Janet Carter of Carterhaugh
Eddi McCandry of the Oaks
Elnora Cornstock of the Limberlost
Cim Glowing
Dorothea Brooke of Middlemarch

Sir Able of the High Heart
Peter Pan of Neverland
James Cobham

2). You would like to be.

Claire Randall
Susan Voight
Dr. Eleanor Ann Arroway

3). Who scare you.

Fear-Inducing Villains
Mr. Croup & Mr. Vandemar of London Below

Formidable Adversaries
(These women don't so much terrify me as intimidate.)

Jadis, the White Witch
Professor Medeous
Mrs. Coulter
The Queen of Air and Darkness

P.S. Whoops! I forgot to say last night when I first posted this that I tag: Namor, Stars, and Lux! Actually, I'm tempted to tag Spark too - because I'm curious about what fiction books she's into! - but she seems to be very busy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

as it's said

i buried my sense of wonder
under the old apple tree,
in the backyard
you know, the one that got cancer and grew all those grotesque lumps and bumps
that we worshiped, as faces of the tree or of the cancer
depending on our mood
my mood needs to regrow (i am more than ready)
instead of cancerous outbursts of bark it seems to have caved in on itself
i'm going to look for my sense of
my senses
and this time i'll refuse to show

to any kids next door, three blocks down, or across the bridge
i won't be shamed or shammed into hiding [it] under stupid old trees
that never existed but might as well have
as it's said

K.J. Grey
Sir Chubcelot and the Case of the Pink Bunny

(In case you can't tell - that is a look of utter disgust upon Chubby's face. With his eyes, he is saying, "How dare you put this thing next to me and make it look as if we were pals?")

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Raymond Carver

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No PR for a killer

CBC News has decided not to broadcast pictures, video or audio from the package which the Virginia Tech killer sent to NBC:

"At the CBC, we debated the issue throughout the evening and made the decision that we would not broadcast any video or audio of this bizarre collection.

On CBC Television, Radio and, we would report the essence of what the killer was saying, but not do what he so clearly hoped all media would do. To decide otherwise — in our view — would be to risk copycat killings.*

I had this awful and sad feeling that there were parents watching these excerpts on NBC who were unaware they will lose their children in some future copycat killing triggered by these broadcasts.

Tony Burman
Editor-in-Chief, CBC News"

The reaction to their decision has been, for the most part, positive.

Here's the comment I left (please keep in mind how sleep deprived I am as you read it):

"I'm very pleased with the CBC's decision. I only wish that the NBC had reacted the same way rather then sensationalizing something so despicable.

Also, I don't believe that this is a very strong case of 'censorship.' People toss that word around a lot, but the reality is that CBC does not have the ability to broadcast every single thing that occurs in the whole wide world. It has to make decisions every day on what it will and will not cover. The decision to only broadcast what it considers to be worthy news is not censorship, its just the reality of running a media corporation. And after all, we all still possess the freedom to look elsewhere for a fuller picture, if we so choose."

* Forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner told ABC News the airing of the tape was a "social catastrophe." "This is a PR tape of him trying to turn himself into a Quentin Tarantino character," Welner told Good Morning America on Thursday. "There's nothing to learn from this except giving it validation."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Last Song

Day is ended, dim my eyes,

but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!


Virginia Tech Victims

Monday, April 16, 2007

Absolutely loathing Grindhouse

I made the mistake of going to see Grindhouse last night with Colin. I'd only seen one preview for it and had had a favorable recommendation from a friend (whose name I shall not mention). The preview had certainly made it look trashy. But I couldn't remember any of the details and so I just thought it would be a Gone In Sixty Seconds kind of a movie except a lot cheesier. Of course, I should have realized that it was actually going to be more of a Sin City/Kill Bill kind of a movie.

And it was - to an extent. Only a lot worse. In fact, it was the worst movie I've ever seen. And by that I mean it was disgusting, it was horrific, it was pointless, it was misogynistic, it was lacking any sort of believable or interesting plot; in short, it was utter trash. It was everything that a real grind house movie would have been. Too bad I didn't know the meaning of the term 'grind house' before I saw the movie...

I began to long to leave the theatre part way through the first half of the first movie (Grindhouse is actually 2 movies - both terrible - shown together) when I realized my eyes were closed more then they were open. But Colin had been nice enough to pay for my ticket and he was enjoying it (he's an avid video game/anime fan with a high tolerance for extreme violence) so I felt bad for disrupting him. Plus I felt like I needed to sit there a while longer to figure out why it was that I wanted to leave so badly (yes, really).

I've walked out of a few movies. And I've sat through one or two movies that I wish I'd walked out of. My sister and I walked out of Blade II because of its stupid plot, terrible dialogue, and over-the-top violence. I walked out of Sleepy Hollow when I was still a JW because I was getting scared out of my wits.

I guess what perplexed me as I watched Grindhouse was the fact that I'd watched Kill Bill 1 & 2 and liked them. And I'd also watched Sin City in its entirety (although I seem to recall wanting to walk out but not following through on the urge). All of those movies are full of bloodshed and gore. So what made me stay for them but leave Grindhouse? The only reason I could come up with was that, in contrast to Grindhouse's gore-fest, the violence in Kill Bill and Sin City is extremely stylized. If you've seen the Kill Bill movies you'll know what I mean.* The violence is shocking at first (at least to me it was - am I just that easily shocked?), even revolting, but it soon becomes tolerable because they make it seem so damn cool and fashionable. Plus they've got this awesome music playing over the killing sprees turning it all into one big, beautiful death dance.

I'd also argue that Kill Bill and Sin City at least had semblances of a plot. Maybe not very good plots, but still - the plots were there and they were intriguing enough that you wanted to keep watching and just keep your eyes closed for the gory parts. Ultimately you left the movie theater feeling slightly stunned and nauseous but not quite to the point where you wanted to demand your money and your wasted time back.

Grindhouse, on the other hand, has NO PLOT (or if you're going to insist that it has one, then it is an awful plot). The first segment of Grindhouse - called Planet Terror - can be summed up in a few sentences: a virus is released into a dark, misty rural countryside. All but a few of the local citizens become infected. Most of the uninfected are soon killed in grisly, horrific ways. In the end, those that have survived the gauntlet of infected zombies escape by helicopter. So, as you may have already surmised, to create a movie like Planet Terror you'll need the following: take the plot of any Resident Evil movie or game, then dumb it down as much as you can (I know, its hard to believe that's possible), add 10x the blood, gore, and random nudity, insert as many disgusting ways of dying as possible (no matter whether you're dealing with men, women or small children), toss in some extreme misogynistic violence,* a cameo appearance by Quentin Tarantino [gag], and there you have it.

The second segment is called "Death Proof" and as soon as the violence in this one started up - a man offers a girl a ride home in his stunt car which has no seat belt on the passenger side and is boxed off by glass from the drivers side... can you see where this is going? - I walked out and sat in the lobby for the next hour reading Great Expectations. (Unfortunately, I was at the part where Pip arrives in London; Dickens' descriptions of dirty London and its filthy inhabitants were not the best thing to be reading in a queasy state. It just felt like grime on top of grime. Ugh.)

But back to the point. The point being, why do we watch these movies in the first place? Whether its The Matrix or Seven Samurai or A Clockwork Orange - most of us are susceptible to the lure of stylized violence.

There is actually a very well written Wikipedia article on the topic of aestheticized violence. According to the article, film critics have generally fallen into two categories: One side "sees depictions of violence in films as superficial and exploitative" and "argue that it leads audience members to become desensitized to brutality, thereby increasing aggressivity." The other side includes "critics who view violence as a type of content, or as a theme, claim it serves a 'cathartic or dissipating effect..., providing acceptable outlets for anti-social impulses.' They argue that '...screen violence is not real violence, and should never be confused with it. Movie violence is fun, spectacle, make-believe; it's dramatic metaphor, or a necessary catharsis akin to that provided by Jacobean theatre; it's generic, pure sensation, pure fantasy. It has its own changing history, its codes, its precise aesthetic uses.'"

I'd love to say that I fall unconditionally into the first category of critics and abhor all glorified violence and avoid it completely. But evidently I don't since I can tolerate violence in certain movies, in certain contexts, and up to a certain level.

I think most of us are like this. When violence serves to propel the plot we often have a higher tolerance for it.

But when the violence is the plot?

That's when I walk out.

P.S. I have so much more I could say on this topic but I'll leave it for another time.

P.P.S. Colin redeemed himself by buying me chocolate donuts on the way home. However, when I got out of the car I dropped them on the ground. I considered picking them up and eating them anyways (you know, the 3 second rule) but I could see the gravel. Yuck!

* Xavier Morales writes of Kill Bill in his review Beauty and Violence: "Tarantino manages to do precisely what Alex de Large was trying to do in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange: he presents violence as a form of expressive art. We watch in wonder and awe, not horror. Intellectually, we should be horrified by what we see. But the violence is so physically graceful, visually dazzling and meticulously executed that our instinctual, emotional responses undermine any rational objections we may have. Tarantino is able to transform an object of moral outrage into one of aesthetic beauty. Moreover, like all art forms, the violence serves a communicative purpose apart from its aesthetic value."
*And the few instances of what one reviewer has called Grindhouse's "sexy girl power" in no way redeem the movie from its overall portrayal of women as sex objects and victims. Letting the girls "win" in the end doesn't make up for all of the horrible abuses that are enacted on them throughout the majority of the movie.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Overdue Balance Sheet

Forgot to mail my letter to my friend Death
lost my pocketbook
took a lot of turns too sharply to the left
caught cold caught hot caught tepid caught fire caught nothing
skidded on an ice patch
had to chase from one place to another
screwed up (got control in time)
hit the jackpot in matters of sheer idiocy
buried a cat I wrapped in the morning paper
was ashamed
was brave
was down and out
talked too much heard too much
tore my life to shreds
burned a hole in my pantsuit with a cigarette
and all at once caught sight of night.

Therese Plantier

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Quick Update

School is over. I finished my paper last Monday - the title was "In South Africa, to Forgive is Human" - and have been in recovery every since. I'm really going to miss that class. We started off a motley bunch but by the end - as is her usual style - Megan had miraculously turned us into a cohesive group of friends (or, close acquaintances who cared about each other at least). After much talk, we reached a consensus and chose to hold our last class at the Olive Garden. We were there for over three hours. Highlights included: Ron sneaking all of the leftover breadsticks into his take-out container (oh, and introducing me to his wife via cell phone - we'd been joking about what sort of a woman she must be to have married him), Cathy giving a sweet teary-eyed speech about how much she was going to miss all of us and calling Steve "the quirky one" (and believe it or not, me "the compassionate one" *cough*), and a group picture in which we posed as Jesus and the disciples from The Last Supper (at least, we tried to).

Now that I don't have anything to worry about, my brain has shut down in anticipation of our Disney trip (we leave May 5; no, Paul didn't quite persuade me out of it). As part of the whole brain-shut-down thing, I've been doing fun things. Like watching the amazingly fantastic Gilmore Girls (although, I'm trying not to rush through them too fast) and reading Tam Lin and drinking homemade wine and eating tofu-turkey (a.k.a. Herbert the Coconut) on Easter Sunday and watching A Streetcar Named Desire (I liked it as much as one can like a tragedy).

I've also been panicking a bit over the fact that the trip is so soon and have been considering pulling out the suitcases to begin preliminary packing. But that would be a little obsessive, I guess. Wouldn't it? (Jared - put the suitcases back in the closet when you get home.)

Funny enough, the second thing I'm excited about next to Disney is going to school... in a church. Yes, really - I'm excited about going to summer school.) I'm going to be taking Creative Tools for Social Change on Sunday afternoons starting April 22; its a cross-listed course for International Development and Conflict Resolution through Menno-Simmons/UofW. The class is going to be held at Augustine United in Osborne Village which, besides being a beautiful building, is located a very convenient distance from french toast (Stella's) and sushi (Wasabi)... if I don't feel too guilty after my class to consume such treats, that is. I'm also excited about the instructors. One is a pastor at Augustine and the other is a prof at the UofW who comes very highly recommended.

P.S. I guess I should specify that the homemade wine was not homemade by me, but rather by an Italian friend.
Janet's Sonnet: The Atheist in Doubt

"...But Milton and Chaucer were Christians, there was no denying it. And while the early Greeks mercifully were not, they were most certainly not atheists either; even Euripides, deny them how he might, could not keep the gods out of his plays. The whole of theater was religious in its origin - rotten at its core, her father said gloomily, which was why he preferred the Romantic period, when nothing of the slightest interest was done in English drama. But Janet had been reading the medieval and Renaissance poets, and then Milton. It was not their arguments that oppressed her, on the rare occasions when they troubled to make any. It was the sense that the whole intricate, solid philosophy, stretching for centuries in both directions, infusing life like a strong light, taken for granted and used in a hundred ways for symbolism and imagery and situation, as clear and real as Tolkien or Eddison's worlds, that weighed her down with a sense of indefinable doom. Evans had made it clear to anybody who would pay attention that Milton had not been of the Devil's party.

On a particularly dreary Wednesday afternoon, Janet flung her astronomy text to the floor, dug her journal out of the bottom drawer of her desk, and sloshed over to the library, where she found a deserted padded room at the bottom and resigned herself to her fate.

This winter shrills its dirge self-satisfied,
And all is black, or grey, or ragged brown,
And all the world in rags its bread has cried,
And begged the gates of that unheeding town
Men once called heaven. Such a time as this
Must make our reasoned doubt a certainty:

We see the universe just as it is,
Not veiled by miracle of bud or tree.
But even while I watch the senseless sky
Cracked hideous in the water at my feet,
Dread rumors crowd me, dark forebodings; I
Remember, as improbable as spring
To this abyss where Night and Chaos meet,
The star, the cup, the cross: that tale's ending. "

from Tam Lin
by Pamela Dean
pg. 245-248

Friday, April 06, 2007

Rehearsing for battle

Fantasies of violence,
Breaking bottles on the wall,
Hungry for the motion, for the action,
For it all.

Road noise on the night street,
See the taillights through the blinds,
Out there where your dreams slide,
Toward the night side,
For it all.

For it all, for it all,
What you're aching for,
Where the magic's real and you're like a fire in the sky,
when the deal calls for a sacrifice
And you know you cannot die.
For the edge the best ones live on,
For it all.

You want to be a hero
With the axe about to fall,
You'd buy it for the love and for the glory,
For it all.

You want to dress in black,
And lose your heart beyond recall,
Hunt a dream through rain and thunder,
On your honor
For it all.

In your head, no car is fast enough,
In your heart, no love is true.
Will it ruin all your solitary fancies
If I tell you that it isn't only you?

Keep your ankle off the tailpipe,
Keep your bootheels off the street;
We'll hit the throttle, hit the redline,
We'll find the edge,
We'll make it sweet,
We'll go for it all.

"For It All" by Eddie and the Fey
(or, alternatively, performed by Emma and Cats Laughing)
by Emma Bull
pg 227-229

Sorry, the Scribblies have enraptured me this past week. Must have something to do with rereading Tam Lin. I'm enjoying it much too much. Mix that with the GG Season 2 and I won't need to leave the house for days! (Well, or until tomorrow when I have to leave to take some pictures...)

P.S. The photos are by fakeplasticstars

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


What did you say - they found another one?
I can't hear you - this morning
another one floating in the river?
talk louder - so you didn't even dare
no one can identify him?

the police said not even his mother
not even the mother who bore him
not even she could
they said that?
the other women already tried -
I can't understand what you're saying,
they turned him over and looked at his face, his hands they looked at,
they're all waiting together,
silent, in mourning,
on the riverbank,
they took him out of the water
he's naked
as the day he was born,
there's a police captain and they won't leave until I get there?
He doesn't belong to anybody
you say he doesn't belong to anybody?

tell them I'm getting dressed,
I'm leaving now
if the captain's the same one as last time he knows what will
that body will have my name
my son's my husband's
my father's name
I'll sign the papers
tell them
tell them I'm on my way,
wait for me and don't let that captain take one step closer to him.

tell them not to worry:
I can bury my own dead.

Ariel Dorfman

(I think the above poem is... incredible. One of the best, most moving things I've ever read.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

God-awful cats & Britain's 'Gay lit' experiment

"On the tallest mountain above the town lived a queen, the young crown prince and the crown kitty. The queen had ruled for many long years and she was tired of it. She made up her mind that the prince would marry and become king before the end of the summer."

Wilson turned to her daughter, "that's how stories go isn't it." With an "uh huh" from Ruth they continued reading aloud about the travails of the young prince, faced with introduction after introduction to princesses. The trouble is he doesn't much care for girls. Finally, there's a breakthrough.

"Presenting Princess Madeleine and her brother Prince Lee. At last the prince felt a stir at his heart. Look it was love at first sight! What a wonderful prince!"

Ruth echoed, "what a wonderful prince!"

The two princes marry and live happily ever after, of course.

I asked Ruth if she liked the book.



"Because it's nice."

Certain schools in Britain are introducing children's books that feature gay families and the result has been... ta da da da... controversy! (Really, what were they thinking?)

Of course, I think this is a great thing and that its about time.*

However, surprisingly not everyone feels this way.

In fact, some are in a right tizzy.

Take for instance the articulate (and ever-so-composed) comment made by Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice:

"They're trying to say to children that homosexuality is fine, so it's blatant propaganda … I just don't reckon school is the place for that. I just don't want children to be mentally interfered with in this way."

He just had to put the word "reckon" in there. Such a darn (or should I say 'dang'?) giveaway!

Steven, anytime we teach a child anything, it could be said that we are "interfering mentally." Teaching a child almost inevitably involves passing on to them our own personal biases and beliefs.

However, don't worry - just because a child reads a book about gay people doesn't mean they're going to become gay.* Because if that was actually the case we wouldn't have any gay people now, would we?

Anyways, I really think that the best part about this article has been the way most readers have responded to it with such incredible acceptance and humour. (It actually makes me feel slightly... dare I say it?... proud to be Canadian. Wow.)

My favorite comment is from Nathan in Moncton who says:

"If my kid can read Alice in Wonderland then why in God's name can't they read about gay parents. At least there won't be any of those God-awful cats in that."


If you want to read more comments go here.

* Yes, I'm serious. This really is a worry of many - Steven Green for one. But please, don't go to Steven's website. I promise you won't like it. His website header scrolls "The enemies of God are all having their say!" I should send it to my parents...
* It just shows how far we've come when the article mentions that "twenty years ago, gay themes were introduced in British schools and quickly thrown out."