Tuesday, July 29, 2008
-Failing to get a summer job (consistently)
-A little over a week ago, my brother celebrated his half-anniversary with his wife, Lizzy.
-Exactly a week ago, I hit the 6 month mark of being single.
-The past couple weeks, I've been playing computer games I hadn't played in a while (today I was making a family in the Sims 2 with a bunch of variations of me: William, Will, Liam, Jesse, W.J.--it was fun)
-I've continued my reading, but am finding it slower-going than my previous endeavors, most likely because Tolkien is a very dense thorough writer.
-TODAY, my friend Drew got a promotion he'd been hoping for.
-On Friday, I will be celebrating my birthday with my family (Ben will be in town this weekend, so it made sense to hold off).
-On Saturday, I'll be driving back up to Canton to go to a party. These party's are always good.
-At some point soon, I need to get in touch with Malone about MC Comedy and out performance for Freshman Orientation, both to make sure we're still on and to find out the specifics.
-In just under a month, I'll be back at Malone, starting my Senior year.
-In January, with luck, I'll be moving to Los Angeles.
My point? I honestly don't know. I'm just taking stock of things, you know? This isn't a profound blog. It's just me typing.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Spoilers may begin at any point beyond this line
Section One: Things I Less-Than-Loved
I refuse to ever just say "I loved it" and go no further. If I can find an intelligent criticism to make, I'll make it. I was struck by a couple odd points in this film, and here are my thoughts on them.
1) The film took a little bit to grab me. Not long, mind you. Just a minute or two. By the time the Scarecrow showed up, I was in. And it could be that the people sitting right next to me had something to do with it too, because while they shut up as soon as the movie-proper began, they did talk right up to it, even into the logos. So I'll forgive this point and account it to unfavorable viewing conditions until I can afford to see the film again.
2) I knew it was coming. I saw it in the previews. It's not a big deal. But I love the classic Joker look, and wish it could've appeared in the movie.
3) Jim Gordon's speech at the end. WAY too cheesy. I can appreciate the point it was making, but first of all, it contradicts itself (he's the hero we deserve, but not the one we needed... he's not a hero, he's....), and second, he ended the movie by saying "he's... a DARK KNIGHT." Yes. Thank you for reminding us of the title of the movie. As if we couldn't see it coming with people constantly calling pre-Twoface Harvey Dent "Gotham's White Knight." We didn't need to be told "He's beginning to be Batman" in the first movie, and we don't need to be told to whom the name "Dark Knight" applies now.
Section Two: Things I Loved (In roughly linear order)
1) The Joker. Man-oh-man. I have always loved the Joker. He is my favorite all-time villain. No other character have I found who can believably embody pure evil and chaos so completely. And they did him right. Yes, he looks different, but I don't begrudge him his appearance, I only mourn that the look I know and love has never been put in a mainstream movie (for an indie film, go see PATIENT J at Batinthesun.com). And though I said it before, I must say it again: they put the Joker's soul in this film. This is actually what I love about Elseworlds is to see how much you can change in a character without disturbing who they really are, and this movie just shot up next to Red Son among my favorite Elseworlds. When he explains his father was the one who cut his face, I thought "Okay, at least it's terrible enough to really mess him up," but I was a little disappointed. When I heard him give another revelation to Rachel Dawes than to the crime-boss, I nearly exploded with wicked glee. They managed to maintain the Joker's questionable history, and inserted that he changes what he says to, I believe, whatever he thinks will scare his victims the most.
2) "No, no, no... I shoot the bus driver." No more appropriate scheme to present the Joker to the world exists than this.
3) Harvey Dent disarming a witness on the stand. Few times can anyone seem so incredibly badass while keeping their cool. I find myself incapable of disliking Aaron Eckhart in any role, and this was no exception.
4) 'The Magic Trick.' My father has commented more than once that some woman said of the movie "There ought to be some way to let parents know a guy get's a pencil through the forehead." I don't see what their problem is--parents tell children not to run with sharp objects, and now they have an object lesson to prove the point! Not to mention, further detail the pure random evil of the Joker.
5) Faking Jim Gordon's death. I honestly believed he'd done it. I didn't like it, and I shouldn't have fallen for it, but I believed it and respected Nolan for doing it. I think the fact that his son was named "Jim" too was what helped me accept it, because it was a possible work around. Had I thought, as my friend Drew did, of the fact that he wasn't yet "Commissioner Gordon" and there was no way he would die without it, I would've been less likely to fall for it. But it was masterfully done, either way.
6) The potato peeler. Anyone else notice it among Joker's Knives?
7) Joker's jailbreak. Only asking for a phone call. Using that call to simultaneously kill everyone with one of his crazy disciples and get away at the same time. Somehow defeating a cop while unarmed (or he snuck a knife into the holding cell, I don't know) and putting the cop under a knife. All further the Joker's fantastic evil.
8) Rachel Dawes's death. I never liked her. Most fans attributed this to Katie Holmes, but I was not one of them (though I admit Maggie Gyllenhaal did a better job). Batman simply cannot have a childhood friend, nor a longtime love waiting for him, and few moments of the film were quite so satisfying as when she died in a burst of flame and rubble. That this also created Twoface was the icing on the cake.
9) The corruption of Harvey Dent. Killing Joke, anyone? This was masterfully transferred from Gordon to Dent, and the fact that it succeeded where it had previously failed makes it all the more ominous (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read The Killing Joke. Those who know me personally may come over to read it anytime they like). This shows the essence of both Joker and Twoface. Joker, in his reckless abandon for anything and anyone, including himself, so long as he creates chaos, and Twofaces complete and utter subordination of himself to fate. Not to mention, he looked more like Twoface than I thought any live action version could ever achieve, even with prosthetics and/or CGI.
10) "This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object." This speech is the greatest single assessment of the Batman/Joker relationship. EVER.
I loved much more about the film, but figured I'd keep it to 10 things I love for both (relative) brevity and dramatic effect. There's a lot more I could say discussing the movie, but no review is perfect or complete. If I didn't mention it in the "less than love" section, just assume I liked it. For further reading about the movie, check out Criticinema (not sure if you guys capitalize the second "c") and their reviews.
No More Spoilers
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
First, I'd like to discuss how I envision my mind. Many people talk about their minds as mazes, landscapes, file cabinets--one girl even referred to her mind as a cage. My view of my own mind is just a bit more complex than that. Begin by picturing a solar system. Not one of those mobiles we made in grade school, but a full-fledged solar system in which all the planets, moons, and other satellites orbit in all three dimensions. Now, imagine that many of these orbiting objects are close enough to one another that they affect each others' orbits. So far, this is physically possible for an actual solar system. Now imagine that each planet/moon/satellite is connected to those near it (and perhaps some farther away) by bridges of light. The sun, by its very nature, is then connected to everything in this same way (yes, technically it wouldn't be restricted to light bridges in real life, but every metaphor breaks down somewhere and this one breaks down here).
Within the context, all the planets, moons, and satellites in this scenario are my thoughts, memories, and other like mental occurrences. The Sun, my soul. Here's where the metaphor picks up again. The soul, as I see it, does not make up the mind. It does not constitute my memories, does not contain them. I cannot even say for certain that it is how I think. The sun, my soul, merely illuminates the rest of my mind. If another soul were put in its place, something would undoubtedly change, but much of what people would recognize as "me" would stay the same.
To some degree, I suspect that everyone's mind works this way, at least insofar as the soul and the rest of the mind interact. But the difference lies in how I view this. Anyone care to weigh in with alternative models for minds or criticisms that would help refine mine? I'd certainly appreciate them.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
That all said, I must warn you, who may read my blog (all three of you, at this point) that you have one week to go and watch the film. After that time is complete, I will post a spoiler-heavy review of this film. Or at least, I will discuss my thoughts on the film in detail and I won't worry about whether this spoils the movie or not. Consider yourself warned and alerted.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
But that isn't why I decided to update again. I've had a number of odd musings. One of them I can trace back to my finally reading Allan Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind," which has been sitting unread in my book collection for some time. In the introduction, he refers (very briefly) to the nuclear family and its shift from the more traditional view of the family--the extended family. That prompted an observation for me. At one time, humanity was one family. Then we became nations, but nations were considered family (ie-the Nation of Israel). Then tribes became family. Then a single lineage, as with the aristocracy, nobility, and royalty. Now, we think of the core family: mother, father, children. The term "nuclear family" may be more apt than most people realize, for what we are experiencing, I think, could rightly be called "familial half-life." As time goes on, every few generations or so, we stop thinking of people as our family who are are on the "edge" of our family. Who is next to go could be anyone's guess.
Also on my mind recently was a conversation I had with some friends not too long ago about growing up. In particular, we were talking about an early episode of Boy Meets World in which the young Cory Matthews discusses having his own girlfriend whom he can "kiss on the lips whenever [he] want[s]." Herein lies our observation: when you're younger, a kiss is on the cheek or forehead unless otherwise specified. The emphasis isn't "I kissed her on the lips," it's "I kissed her on the lips." Then, we grow up. I don't know when the change occurs, but for almost everyone, it's taken place by high school. And suddenly, a kiss is always on the lips. Can you imagine a college student having this conversation?
Romeo: And then I kissed her!
Ben: And did she kiss back?
Romeo: What? How can she kiss back, I was kissing her cheek?
I thought not. Unless you specify kissing elsewhere, we typically assume the lips. Now I wonder, is there a reason for this shift, or does it just happen at random?
Anyway, I have more things I could throw in, but I've held you for long enough, and I may want to use those other ideas later. God Bless!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Let's take this whole thing step by step. "Eye for an eye" is one of the most widely misused quotes in the bible. It has been used as an argument for personal revenge for thousands of years, and Jesus' response to it from Matthew 5:38-39 has been used as an argument against the death penalty (and war) for at least as long as I've been alive. It originally (in this context) comes from Exodus 21:24, in a section that begins in verse 22. The fuller context reads: "If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no other injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." (Emphasis added by me). In context, this seems obviously to be a punishment being named for a specific crime, that is: causing injury or death along with premature birth or miscarriage (incidentally, this is also an argument of equality for unborn children). Jews in the time of Christ, like most people now, misused this quote, saying they could repay people as they were mistreated. This is what inspired Christ to say "turn the other cheek" in Matthew 5:39. The difference is, of course, that Christ is addressing individuals while the quote in Exodus was referring to punishment by governing authority.
Moving on: I grew up in a Christian household, so I've always been aware of “The wages of sin is death,” a quote from Romans 6:23. This is utterly true. We all deserve death. And (barring the rapture) we will all get death sooner or later. Just because we don’t get a needle in our arm, doesn’t mean we won’t pay the penalty for our sin. The very fact that we die at all is a direct result of sin. Had Adam not sinned, we would not live in a fallen world, and there would be no death, or for that matter, thorns, carnivores, allergies, hunger, or essentially anything that is unpleasant. (Another side note, the pain of childbirth was only “greatly multiplied,” not created new with the fall, so pain is not in every way a negative). We didn’t even need to “toil by the sweat of [our] brow[s]” before the fall. But I digress…
Another common “argument” against the death penalty is to ask, “Who are we to decide what crimes deserve death?” My response is to say “Well, what do you mean 'we'?” As individuals, we have no right. But in Romans 13:4, we are told “…if you do what is evil be afraid for it[the governing authority] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” Tell me honestly if this doesn’t sound like it’s referring to the death penalty. Tell me it’s not saying that the government has the right to execute people who commit crimes. And offer a real alternative interpretation that makes as much or more sense. Yes, in our system, individuals serve as a jury, but a jury is an agent of the government. And jury screening assures that jurors will have justice in mind, and won’t be biased or acting for vengeance.
The next point my former roommate brought up was the sanctity of life, which I acknowledge was quite valid. We do concern ourselves with sanctity of life. It is very important, therefore, that we do not execute without discrimination. We ought to provide ourselves with a standard, and stick to it. God does love us all equally, and is equally just with all of us as well. However, we are not the ones who make a distinction between guilty and innocent. The criminals made that distinction when they sinned, including, but not limited to, the crime they committed. To compare the death penalty with abortion is atrocious: an unborn child has yet to commit personal sin, and so is, as much as any human apart from Christ can be, innocent. The death penalty is only used for the most severe crimes, such as murder.
These cases (the death penalty and abortion) are further differentiated in that the death penalty serves three purposes: to deter crime, to punish a convicted criminal, and to take a dangerous criminal element out of the world. Admittedly, the last of these three is less often used, but it is a real situation. My former roommate advocated removing the death penalty from our system entirely, but this is a dangerous decision, as there are some criminals we simply can’t risk escaping. And no matter how many precautions we take, it remains a possibility, especially since so many interest groups want “humane” treatment of our convicts, which generally amounts to better living conditions in prison than many murderers had before hand. But again, I digress. The death penalty is, quite simply, sometimes the only punishment adequate for the crimes committed. Enough said on that topic. Next point: the claim that the death penalty is not a deterrent. This could be true, today. But this is because people have foolishly moved executions further and further from the public eye. Murders were far less prevalent when public hangings took place in town squares. It showed the world the gruesome consequences of these crime. Now, it takes place in a sealed room, in a locked prison, surrounded by fences, where it is seen only by those who were directly affected by the criminal’s actions. It has no effect on the general populous, and so criminals don’t think about it.
Next, my roommate claimed that the death penalty is “handed down in a grossly unfair way.” First, just saying this admits that there is a fair way, but I'll grant him that this may have been an oversight in semantics, and won't press the point. Second, he’s right. The death penalty should apply equally to everyone, and that is unjust. But that doesn’t mean capital punishment should be done away with entirely. It means that sentencing is flawed in our justice system and ought to be renovated. By Nate's logic, we should stop sentencing criminals since the system is flawed. Does this make sense to anyone? I thought not. We must endeavor to improve the system, but doing away with it is not the right answer.
Nate’s last point is that sometimes a person can be proven innocent after they’ve been executed, and that this punishment can never be undone. This is true. But, suppose someone serves a life sentence, dies, then is proven innocent. Well, that punishment can’t be undone either, they’ve already served it. I guess we should get rid of life sentences, too. But you know… if someone serves all of a 25 year sentence, but is proven innocent after they’re released, they can’t undo that punishment either… Do you begin to see my point? There is a time limit to how long you have to prove someone innocent of any crime before they’ve served the entire punishment; the only difference with the death penalty is that the time from beginning the punishment to the end is much shorter. (Incidentally, it is possible to revive a prisoner within a few minutes after they’ve been executed via lethal injection, it just rarely happens.)
I believe in the death penalty for these reasons, and others, but if I can be shown that I am wrong in this, I will repent and turn away from these arguments, even decrying the death penalty myself. But no one has ever managed to do it, and I doubt they will
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Years ago, there was a tribe of people who were completely isolated from the outside world. Their village was pristine and peaceful. Everyone was happy, and everyone got along. One day, a young boy was playing in a field and he saw a terrible monster! It had a curly tail, green skin, and vicious-looking stripes all along its body. It looked like nothing the boy had seen! He ran and told the elders about this beast, and they came, and they too were frightened by this strange creature. They decided to build a fence around this section of field, and to cut it off from all the village. And for a time, all was well again. But then another monster just like the first was found in another field. The elders did the same. As time went on, more and more of these monsters appeared, and the elders simply blocked off the sections of field in which the monsters lived. There was plenty of open field still, so there was no problem.
One day, a missionary came into the village. He looked around and saw strange renderings of a bulbous-bodied beast on fences surrounding fields and asked the villagers what this meant. They told him they were monster fields, and that no one dared go in to face the beasts. He asked the villagers to show him these creatures anyway, and with trepidation, they complied and opened the gates of one of the fields. They did, and he looked through the tall, unkempt grass that had grown up inside the fence since the villagers had closed it off. He searched through and finally saw...
“You fools!” he exclaimed, taking out a trail knife. He cut the watermelon from its vine, cut out a slice, and took a big bite.
The villagers who had come with him looked on with terror. The green monster had been nothing, but this thing was worse! It looked like a man, but it showed no fear! It had killed the monster without a second thought, and now, look how it smiled even as it ate the flesh of its prey! Surely this thing “missionary” was the worst of all monsters. So that night, while he slept, the elders cut off his head and placed it on a spike to remind the villagers of the only thing worse than the green monsters.
Some time later, another missionary came to the tribe, and seeing his predecessor's head impaled, he was quite wary. So too were the tribesmen and elders, remembering the monster who had come in the form of a man not long before. They were even more nervous when the missionary asked, as before, about the drawing, and then asked, as before, to see this monster. But when they took him to see it, unlike his predecessor, he peered through the grass and turned back saying, “You're right, this is a very dangerous beast, and we must work together to find a way to rid your village of this menace.”
So the new missionary began working with the people. He began to teach them about watermelons, and what they were like, and what they, in fact, were. And as the years progressed, the villagers understood, and began to take down the fences, and to cultivate watermelons. They even grieved having killed the first missionary, as he was clearly innocent of the charges they had lain at his door.
At this point, Ian explained that rather than the first missionary, who lost trust by his bull-headed approach, he would rather be the second missionary who, with compassion and tact, showed the tribe the error of their ways by working with them.
At the time, I was just getting to know Ian, and so I didn't respond critically to his story at all. I regret this for a number of reasons. First, as I'm sure you noticed, this was an awfully long story when he could have just said that he would only try to reveal to his friend this mistaken career choice rather than flatly tell him. But what I have an issue with is the story itself. Aside from glaring plot holes (how did watermelon's show up out of nowhere, why did the tribesmen kill the missionary—the greater monster—but not the watermelons, and how did the missionaries speak the native language early on when the tribe was completely isolated) the moral of the story is wrong. Ian asserts that the preferable missionary was the one who lied politely but smartly and saved his own skin, while the admittedly careless but truthful missionary takes on an inferior quality.
Admittedly, a third missionary would be best: one who truthfully says “this is not a danger to your tribe,” but does not so bluntly and daringly jump to eating what the villagers feared. I'd like to be that missionary. But out of the two Ian told me about—I'd rather be the missionary who didn't lie, even though it cost him his life. He wasn't brave, didn't think he was risking his life, but he nonetheless told the truth while his successor lied. And we don't know that the second missionary was acting out of any noble motivation when he lied: he had seen the first missionary's dismembered head and may have simply feared for his life to do anything other than agree with the tribe at first.
Ian, so far as I know, never told this friend of his that he was going into the wrong field. In actuality, I probably wouldn't either. But while Ian probably thinks it's some sort of virtue, I consider it a personal failure that I wouldn't have the courage to tell my friend the truth. Just like I never told him the truth that his story was a load of bull.
The interesting thing is, feeling mildly lousy seems to have combined with my overall lethargy of unemployment for the summer and produced that same feeling from school when I would be too sick to go to school, but not so terrible I couldn't enjoy The Price Is Right when it came on. That's a good feeling. I've accomplished even less today than the past several days, but I'm fine with that, because I'm sick. But I'm still not so sick that it ruined my day. Apparently being sick is just another of those things that gives perspective to my life.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Anyway, since I'm new here, I should introduce myself. At present, I am between my Junior and Senior years of college. All attempts at finding a summer job have failed to pay off thus far, which is particularly disappointing because I'm hoping to move to Los Angeles in either January or May of next year (depending on some questions of schooling). I am an aspiring--though not particularly prolific--writer, and an avid reader. I confess with pride that I am a comic book nerd, most recently my focus being Superman (Green Lantern was my hero-of-choice for years).
Now that that's all in order, I'll take my leave until something interesting strikes me.