2.26.2010

Afterthought: The Top Five Narrators of My Life

If such a thing were possible, I think I would enjoy watching a film about my life. Such an endeavor necessitates a phenomenal voice-actor as a narrator. Hence, here are the top five choices I would choose to narrate my life's journey:

1. Morgan Freeman
2. Liam Neeson
3. Patrick Stewart
4. Christopher Lee
5. Bob Ross

Honorable Mentions: William Shatner, Ian McKellen, Alex Trebek, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford (Only if he yells the entire time.)

What are yours?

2.23.2010

On His Dark Materials

I read Philip Pullman's acclaimed diegesis at the suggestion of another friend, Wyn Boerckel. This one's for you.

My first memory of His Dark Materials originated in junior high. Ben Henderson--who now has a wonderful blog up and running--was contentedly perusing the second book in the series, The Subtle Knife. The poetic feel of the title perked my interest, and I voiced my query.

"The subtle knife?" I asked, innocently voicing the b.

I'm not certain if he ever looked up. "It's subtle. 'Suh-tul,'" Ben replied coyly. I then left, cursing my luck being deprived of phonics classes. After that, however, thoughts about the series never entered my mind. I just wasn't interested in it, even when the movie premiered and drew a firestorm of religious criticism.

When Wyn (heh, heh, heh) suggested I read it, I thought it would be a wonderful break from Frankenstein, which I have already read.

And, after finishing the series, I can now say I was right not to take notice of these rather uninteresting books.

Let's begin. I'll try to tackle these books like this: a brief overview, a literary analysis, and finally a biblical take.

The story follows Lyra Belacqua, a pathological liar (evidenced by the honorary title "Silvertongue" [not in reference to her actual silver tongue, which is valued at over $600 at auction]) in a coming-of-age story; she travels to the arctic, travels to another world, lies, travels to yet another world, lies some more, frees the souls of the dead; she becomes the new Eve, and other stuff. I was slightly confused most of the time. To put it plainly, ". . .the plot is about as twisted and impenetrable as a granite octopus. . ." I just didn't know what was happening--but maybe that was the point.

An integral portion of the story resides in a person's daemon, a manifestation of a person's soul in a familiar, usually in the shape of a mouse, bird, or cat. Sometimes a monkey.

(I was infinitely disheartened to find no mention of a beaver daemon; this, no doubt, contributed to my disillusionment.)

Other notable characters include Will, Serafina Pekkala, Lee Scoresby, an armored bear, homosexual angels, and Mrs. Coulter, who is more confused about her moral alignment than Sylar in the TV show Heroes.

I really have no problems with Pullman's literary devices. However, about half-way through the second book, I realized Pullman uses the word breast gratuitously. He seems to have a bizarre infatuation with that word, even though he uses it platonically. It's like he yearned for an appropriately poignant word to describe an emotional situation in the first novel, forgot he just used it, and subsequently repeated the entire process for each chapter of the next two books. I'm imagining a meeting between Pullman and one of his editors...

EDITOR: "Mr. Pullman, you've used the word breast, like, five times in this paragraph. Should we use a different word? There's chest, and heart, and soul, and--"
PULLMAN ignores him pulls out plastic knife and repeatedly tries to cut EDITOR'S sleeve to no avail.
EDITOR: "Mr. Pullman, what are you doing?"
PULLMAN: "I hold the subtle knife! Your arm should be clean off! Yar!"

Word choice aside, I found myself able to tolerate the erratic happenings in the story until the conclusion, where Lyra and Will (an addendum in the second book) begin snogging. Voraciously. We're not talking about adults or even teens--these children are in the 12-13 range. Even though it is an obvious allusion to Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost, it was so strange. I felt alienated, confused, unsettled--similar to my first viewing of The End of Evangelion. Hence, I threw the book away and declared the end of my relationship with the series.

Now, let's tackle the religious implications. In my exhaustive synopsis, I omitted the most controversial part of the story--deicide. God, is in fact the first evolved angel. (Perhaps, given enough time, angels would develop into Star-Childs.) His Dark Materials celebrates humanism with zeal and vigor.

This franchise is often viewed as the direct counter to C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. If you would happen across Wikipedia's article on Chronicles, you would discover that Pullman is by no means a fan of Lewis's works. I'm not sure why. Narnia had talking beavers.

Personally, I view this series as no different from all those philosophies out there which deny an existence of God (except packaged in a nice, neat little novel aimed at the future of the world). I know this is a gross generalization, but that's just the way my mind works.

I suppose, then, this series falls under the same category as Harry Potter. These books are an entertainment to read, but the foundations they are built on are Biblically unsound. And that's really all I have to say about that.

So if you want to read these books, more power to you. Just let me be as I go back to reading Jane Eyre.

So long, and thanks for reading.

2.17.2010

The Raccoon War

My friends, I speak to you today concerning a grave deed. Saturday, the 13th of February, as I drove blissfully home from a wonderful day of jamming with my compatriots, a raccoon, lowest of the rodents on the food chain, despicable scavengers of the animal kin, raced out in front of me, his malevolent intent seared upon his face. I had no chance to avoid such a cowardly kamikaze. And so, he chose to commit suicide by Eve--the name of my vehicular transport. She has a dent in her bumper now.

Dastard. No one does that to my car.

This leads me to this proclamation: I officially declare war on all raccoons in the world.

This is not the first time raccoons have messed with the Smith clan. We've been battling those vile pests for as long as I can remember.

It began with Frisky, really. I was born around the same time as Frisky; she is the first pet I remember having. She was a garage cat. We kept her in the garage--which in turn meant her food, drink, and litter box were also kept there. We kept either the garage door slightly ajar--or the kitty-cat door unlocked. (I prided myself on being able to squeeze through until I was around six years old) This, unfortunately, left her victuals vulnerable to intruders.

And that's when the trouble started. Raccoons began feasting upon her food. They would come stealthily, creepily, silently. We would open the door and find the cat chow ravished. These blatant, defiant actions by those rodents prompted my beloved father to take action.

He laid a trap for them. Putting Frisky in the house (at the insistence of my Mum, who implored Dad not kill the cat), he connected her water bowl to a car battery.

Alas, it didn't work. The raccoons were much too clever. Eventually, we captured the whole lot--an entire family, with a live trap. The mother was extremely vicious. We deposited them in the next county over.

My list of grievances continues. Since we moved to Peoria, another raccoon has been mooching off our cats' food, feasting at our expense. In fact, it has gotten so corpulent that I think it is now impervious to airsoft BB's. I shall have to heighten the firepower I throw at it. I'm thinking a BFG 9000, or Van Helsing's crossbow.

I should note that the original purpose of acquiring said airsoft guns was to shoot raccoons, which are by all means acceptable as targets.

I digress. Just a couple months ago, a raccoon that was obviously caught in the blast of "an experimental detonation of a gamma bomb" threw itself at my brother's car, seriously damaging the engine. Granted, my brother's car is only a smidgen larger than a MINI, but the fact remains--it cost him well over two thousand dollars to have it repaired.

And now, they launch a surprise attack upon Eve. These vile rodents of the devil are not even worth the venom I'm spewing at them.

But I will, regardless. Yar.

Truly, these base creatures are the tyranny of our age. Let us then march forward together and rid the world of this pestilence.

Die, raccoons, die.

So long, and thanks for reading.

2.10.2010

Concerning Heroes, Part One

I'd like to talk to you today about heroes: people and character who kick butt and are just all- around awesome. I hope this will be the first of many posts to come, as there are many people who deserve the simple acclamation I am giving them. Also, I've been a bit negative in my posts lately, and being positive is a fun experience for a while.

First off, Evan Smith. He really doesn't deserve this position, but I made a hasty promise to him when I was preoccupied. So here you go, Evan. Let's move on.

I'm Evan, and I h(ate) flowers.

Next: Scott Stapp: singer/songwriter, Creed. I have just one question. Have you heard his voice? It's as if Andrea Bocelli took vocal steroids. Seriously--Scott Stapp puts the angels to shame. In fact, if he ever took a trip to the underworld to rescue Eurydice and played "With Arms Wide Open" for Hades, the god would not only give her up, but also Persephone, his Helm of darkness, and his entire collection of Bermuda shorts. That's how awesome Scott Stapp is.


"Look at me!"

Bob Ross: painter. While we're on the subject of majestic voices, let me tell you a little bit about this Adonis of a man. While he painted murals with one hand (complete with happy trees, bushes, clouds, animals, and fire hydrants) and healed artistic ineptitude with the other, he also therapeutically soothed your soul with his gentle voice. He did this in just 25 minutes. That is the definition of a real man. The world is a darker place without you, Bob.

"Just lightly tap with the bristles... There we go... Theeeere we go."

Geordi La Forge: chief engineering officer, USS Enterprise-D. Screw the engineering crew--this guy is all you need. With his VISOR--or, as I like to call it, his "ultimate eye"--he has the capability to track a pack of wild leprechauns at night through a blizzard-storm. Finally, his lovable personality is surpassed only by Worf. Here's to you, LeVar Burton (who is a potential candidate himself).


Daredevil? Pssh.

Riza Hawkeye: Fullmetal Alchemist. Having an assistant is pretty boss. However, having an assistant who does all your paperwork, pulverizes more enemy combatants than Vassili Zaisev, never leaves your side, and carries no less than three pistols on her person at any given time is even better. This chick will intentionally walk her dog down dark alleys just for the chance to destroy something.


Never useless.

Condorman.

...
...
...

How can I even begin to describe the incredible majesty...?


Oh, yes he did.

The Haitian: Heroes. The Haitian is a simple man. He will walk into the room and stand there looking well, something like this:


You'll never know what your mother and I did...

I seriously think he doesn't eat, but feeds off the happy thoughts of any poor child around him. This punk is probably the deepest character in the entire series. If you disagree, he's obviously wiped your memory of how awesome he is.

Did I mention Articuno?


Death incarnate.

I think that'll do it for now. If you have any comments or want to add a person you deem worthy of heroship, go ahead and leave us a short bio an your reason why.

So long, and thanks for reading.


2.06.2010

Afterthought: On the Superbowl

Hello there, loyal compatriots. Tomorrow, we observe the struggle of two teams as they compete for the ultimate prize in the NFL. Colts versus Saints. Brees versus Manning. Horseshoe versus Fleur-de-lis.

Whichever team suits your preference, rest assured that the Colts will claim dominance.

Go Colts.

2.03.2010

Concerning the Needless Application of Letters to the End of Words

I am going to get straight to the point and throw civility out the door, because this is a subject I feel strongly towards. I speak, of course, about the Philistines in the world today who, when typing online (a medium that breeds contempt and complacency for improper grammar) or elsewhere, will unabashedly and indiscriminately attach extraneous letters on the end of words they deem to emphasize.

Before I go any further, I should note the clamor of responses I've been getting on this issue. Most of the reports blame Toyota for selling keyboards with sticky key mechanics. That is not going to cut it. Nice try.

To put it plainly and simply, they (that is, the grammatically pagan individuals [I needed to clarify my antecedent]) highlight certain sections of their (usually frivolous) messages with poor spelling.

Consider, for a moment, a word as a human body, and each letter an organ. They work together in harmony, right? You see how each letter blends together in a beautiful, harmonic symphony of linguistic elegance. Now replicate the last letter five times. See? It's as if you've gone and stitched on five extra organs to the already-healthy body. Worse than that, these extra organs serve no purpose. They're exactly like appendixes. In fact, they are appendixes. You've gone and made your bowels look like a cuttlefish.

That being said, I'd like to give another example of the utterly depraved, grammatically obtuse mindset of children these days, one that is near and dear to my heart. I'd like to talk to you about Justine and Matthias, and how they've been struggling with the very real condition of cyber-stuttering.

Justine, 19, appears to be your average girl in the flower of her youth. In reality, however, she struggles daily with the toils of cyber-stuttering.

Cyber-stuttering. It's real--and out there in force. She says in a recent email: "ppl justtt dont getttt ittt i haveee actuall cyber-stutterrrr!"

After a prolonged monologue over the phone, I soon discovered how angry she felt when she sees teenagers flippantly add letters to their words.

"going 2 the mall txttttt me"

As you can see, she is very upset.

And consider the devilishly handsome Matthias, another 19 year-old from Illinois:

Matthias is: "SICKKK of ppl thinkinggg hes tryingggg to fitt innn by fakingggg his cyber-stutterrrr! IM NOTTT!"

As you can see, these two lives have been torn apart by the phenomenon known as "cyber-stutter." The conclusion is simple: if you take part in this heinous practice, you're not only degrading these gentle souls who have the actual condition, but you're murdering the English language. And you wouldn't want to be a murderer, would you?

So long, and thanks for reading.

Post script: Last night, I had a dream. In this dream, Barack Obama was superhuman. He was impermeable to weapons (and immortal to boot), he possessed super-strength, and was lightning quick. And, for some reason, he was hanging out at my house; I think he was helping me with a covert ops assignment.

It was an oddly unsettling dream.

2.02.2010

"Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today..."

This Candlemas, the famous rodent Punxsutawney Phil--the uncontested authority on meteorology in the animal kingdom--spotted his shadow.

You know what this means.

Six more weeks of winter, and Bill Murray will have to take up ice sculpting.