30 January 2008

Post 81

I'm about to create a paradox....

I was on my high school's yearbook staff for the three years. The teacher who supervised us reserved one of his room's whiteboards for the sole use of communication between yearbook members. A week or two before my junior year ended, I got a totally random thought that I felt inclined to make public, so I drew a box on the yearbook board, labeled it "Kyle Sez:" and then wrote my random thought in the box. A few days later, I got another random thought, so I erased the first one and put my new thought in the Sez's box. By the end of the school year, I had put four or five different thoughts in the box, and I was starting to get attention from some of my peers who had the yearbook adviser for English.

At the beginning of my senior year, I decided that I was going to write an original thought on the yearbook board every day that I came to school--and I did. "Kyle Sez:" became a daily ritual and acquired a small following; every morning, I would go into the classroom to update The Sez, and I would always find a few random students hanging out, waiting to see what I would write.

I figure that I created 187 or 188 different original thoughts for The Sez. At the request of my more devoted readers, I typed up an anthology at the end of my senior year. It is, sadly, incomplete because, when I first started out, I kept no record of what I had written, but by brainstorming with my readers, wracking my brain, and piecemealing the various records I did have, I was able to collect 180 different sayings for my anthology, which I printed several copies of and handed out to anyone who wanted one.

As I flip through that anthology now, I realize that nearly all of those sayings are completely nonsensical, that most aren't even very amusing, and that some are subconscious ripoffs of things that have been said before. Nevertheless, there are a couple that I still consider to be pretty good, and the overall achievement is, I think, fairly impressive.

Today, I would like to discourse a bit--pontificate, if you will--on one of those sayings that I came up with back when der Schmetterling was still das Gleiskettenfahrzeug (German for caterpillar):

Just 'cuz somebody talks good don't mean they say good.

Herein lies the paradox of this post. I am about to tell you that most writers and speakers aren't worth listening to because they don't have anything worth saying. To do so, I am going to tell you what makes something worth saying, and by the definitions I set forth, I am going to exclude myself from the pool of people that have something worth saying. So the paradox is this: if I am right, then what I'm saying isn't worth listening to.

So, that's the preface to what promises to be one of my lengthier posts. If the paradox confounds you, feel free to stop here.


I love writing. Written language is my preferred medium for communication. When I write, I have the opportunity to revise and to perfect before what I say reaches my audience; when I actually speak to someone, once the words have left my mouth, all is finalized. I find it very unfair, then, that spoken language exceeds the written word so much in potency. Speech offers the powers of inflection, volume, and timing in ways that writing cannot. It makes me very sad that the more careful and calculated mode of communication is the less powerful, but I suppose it makes sense.

I said that I love writing; I suppose that total honesty would encourage me to broaden the statement a bit. I love to communicate; I love to be heard; I thrive upon knowing that people are paying attention to me. When people are experiencing my thoughts being presented in my way, all is well in my world.

Throughout my academic career, my instructors and peers have lauded my writing. Writing is my passion, the only pastime I've ever really had, so I accept with great gratitude that Justice saw fit to reward my exorbitant amount of practicing with some small ability. Popular sentiment also holds that I fare well when I attempt public speaking; the most memorable compliment I received in that regard was given to me after I delivered a speech in a church meeting back in my days of missionarying when a couple of middle-aged men came up to me at the conclusion of the meeting and said, "It's too bad you're a Mormon missionary, Elder, 'cuz you'd make a fantastic Baptist minister."

In response to these, my kindly encouraging critics, I say that I most emphatically disagree. Though I concede that my writing and speaking are occasionally very smart, they are usually not very good; that a person may write or speak well does not necessarily mean that they write or speak good, and this is the distinction I wish to emphasize.

I hesitate somewhat at this juncture and must admit that I am quite nearly embarrassed by the verbiage I am about to employ. I will soon present three qualities as nonnegotiable elements of good communication. Though I do, of course, assert their validity, the appellations I have chosen for them are, I fear, painfully bromidic. I do not believe that the ideas that I am trying to present are timeworn, but the only sensible names I could create for them are grossly overused. Nevertheless, I lack the creativity to do better (further attempts along that line produced results that were even more laughable), so the nomenclature I've contrived must suffice. Therefore, I propose that the three nonnegotiable qualities of every good communication are Mind, Heart, and Soul.


"Mind" refers to the technical aspect of communication--syntax, grammar, punctuation, spelling or pronunciation, and all the other technicalities that send the red pens scrawling; it also entails the soundness of the argument made, the strength of the evidences presented, and the overall flow of logic throughout the piece. Mind is the least important of the three nonnegotiable qualities; knowing when to use a semicolon or how to draw a truth table may impress some entry-level professors, and sophistry shows that even half of Mind is enough to persuade the masses, but pure communication requires more than steely reasoning and perfect form.


The Heart of a work is its intrinsic magic, its charm. To produce a work that has Heart requires the creator to be passionate and imaginatitive, to love the work and be excited by it. Heart refers to the creativity and the likability of the work. Had I more Heart, I certainly could have come up with more interesting names for these qualities--perhaps Mind would have been Cunning, and Heart would have been Muse--but here the blatancy of my lack of Heart immediately reveals itself, and I force myself--for the good of this work and to protect my dear readers--to stop digging for Heart where there is naught but Mind.

I will now introduce you to [Dameon]. [Dameon] is my supervisor at work, and he has Heart. Today he started telling me about an idea he has for a fantasy novel. I have repeatedly declared my position regarding speculative fiction on this blog, namely, I find it to have so little relevance to real life and the human condition that it completely fails to interest me, so I was more than a little leery as he launched into his narrative. But [Dameon] has Heart, and it didn't take long for me to become completely absorbed in his story--his effect was so entrancing that I followed him around for the duration of my shift, captivated by the tale. I was so distressed when he finished by informing me that the ending was undecided that I besieged him with ideas until he gave me a tenuous conclusion.

I left work, feeling pensive, unable to understand how I could be so taken by such a fantasy--especially a mostly conceptual fantasy wherein so little was more than vaguely defined. I concluded that the enthusiasm and love [Dameon] told his story with was engaging--engaging enough to persuade me to willingly suspend my disbelief for far longer than my intolerance for such romanticism usually allows. Because he cared about the plot, I cared about the plot; because he loved his characters, I did, too. And because the story was so original, so unlike most of the speculative fiction I've known, it was new and exciting, and I wanted to know its entirety; such is the power of Heart.

Heart makes the difference between photo captions and poetry, forums and pep rallies, reciting and acting. If a work has enough Heart, many people will forgive its lack of Mind; the Mind of a work only has value inasmuch as it supports the work's Heart.


The Soul of a work is the most important quality of all. Communication is the conveyance of ideas from one individual or group to another; if there is no idea to communicate, the venture is a failure. I have written many essays by assignment in which I merely collected the known facts on the topic and drew already-established conclusions and thereby produced fine works of Mind that were sufficiently satisfactory to my instructors but that did absolutely nothing to edify them or me. I have created pretty little poems and cute little stories that were full of Heart but lacked so much in meaning that they were nothing more than whited sepulchers blighting the purity of a clean page. Without meaning, without the honest intention to uplift or improve, without Soul, a work is utterly worthless. If a person has nothing to say, they should not speak.

Soul is a hard quality to cultivate. It requires, more than experience, the wisdom gained by understanding the meaning and implications of experiences, and it also requires the prudence to know when to share such wisdom--and to whom. I recently had a deeply personal conversation via email with [V], a revered and trusted mentor of mine. I started the conversation; I sent her an email to thank her for some help that she had given me. I felt that my email was very well written--I meant what I said (Soul), said it honestly and poignantly (Heart), and, above all, minded my p's and q's to ensure that it shone with all the luster of a work produced by a neurotically careful author (Mind, Mind, Mind, Mind, Mind)--I was really proud of it and was certain [V] would be impressed with my eloquence in thanking her.

[V]'s response to my measly wordmongering impacted me in ways that I cannot describe. Her simple honesty, humble wisdom, and powerful insights affected me so personally that, with a glance to Doctrine and Covenants' 68th section, I'm tempted to call it scripture! Her writing was not free from technical error, but its imperfections were insignificant enough that the Soul of the email (the truths she was trying to express) shone through completely uninhibited. Perhaps the Mind of [V]'s email wasn't entirely flawless, but its sincerity of Heart (displayed by her perfect candor and honest concern) and the lucidity of its Soul made it the most beautiful work that I have ever read.

To communicate truth with such clarity and power is a feat of Soul that I can no more than aspire to achieve, but I believe that to do so ought to be the quintessential desire of any person inclined to speak or write.

29 January 2008

Post 80

Maybe I'm a bad person....

I gotta tell you, I don't understand myself; I really don't. Feel free to comment on this post with any theories as to why I am the way I am 'cuz I'm not gettin' it.

Today I got to see Paul Rusesabagina speak to a forum at my school (he's the Hotel Rwanda guy, if that helps). It was his story in his own words, and I suppose it was very nice, but I felt sort of disconnected from the whole thing; I failed to see any relevance to me in my life.

I have previously mentioned one of my favorite teachers Mr. Richards. I loved that man--he taught me a lot--but one thing he did never really made sense to me. On several occasions, he would talk about how the future was in our hands, and that we in the rising generation had the responsibility to prepare ourselves to try to fix this screwed up world. Sometimes a student would respond by asking how we could possibly fix the world, and Mr. Richards's response was always the same: he would make an appeal to Gandhi. Holding a hand at about 5', he would say something like, "Remember, a man who was only this tall single-handedly toppled the British empire."

This always puzzled me. Even putting aside any quibbling over the truthiness of the statement, I'm just not sure I see the relevance. Was he suggesting that if I stop eating and take a hike to the nearest beach, global warming will reverse itself (read: Al Gore will die a horrible death), social security will revive (read: Ron Paul will die a horrible death), and people will stop stabbing each other with forks (read: Flight of the Conchords will die a horrible death)? I don't follow your logic, sir.

So, I'm sitting there listening to Mr. Rusesabagina (to get back to the original topic), and he's telling a story that--well, it certainly deserved to be turned into the movie; I'd actually kinda like to see that movie some day. He's an amazing man (despite that his autobiography is called An Ordinary Man), and I respect the things he did. But he wrapped up his speech in such a way that he basically turned his experience into the sort of thing we ought to emulate.

Okay, Paul, so next time I find myself in a political upheaval and just happen to have a hotel and a list of phone numbers for all my buddies in the local military and DC and the UN, I'll be sure to do all I can to save as many lives as possible.

It's hard for me to see the relevance, and frankly, it's hard for me to care.

This is the part of me that I don't understand. In my American Heritage class one day, we were talking about how times of anarchy tend to lead to the rise of a tyrannical dictator because people get so afraid of the chaos that they'll follow anyone who can maintain order, but tyranny tends to lead right back to anarchy because people get so tired of the oppression that they revolt. To demonstrate what anarchy and tyranny are like, my professor showed us two short videos: the first was a collection of news clips from the Rodney King riots, the looting in Louisiana after Katrina hit, and various other anarchical events in our recent past; the second was an excerpt from a documentary about Saddam Hussein's regime, and it showed all kinds of horrible atrocities. While the first clip nearly made me weep (the sight of people being so terrible to each other made me very emotional), the second clip didn't affect me at all (torture and mass graves disturbed me so little that I questioned my own humanity). I found that very interesting.

In a similar vein (I assume, at least), I have a heckuva lot more admiration for people like the "subway superman" than I do for people like Paul Rusesabagina. That subway story--man, I wanna be like that guy.

I may never save a life--I may never get the opportunity to even try. I hope that if such an opportunity comes, I'll do my best to be heroic, but I don't aspire to any such thing; I'll just do my best to be a genuinely decent human being--that's enough for me.

28 January 2008

Post 79

People are so dumb!

I'm taking a class called American Heritage. It isn't an American history class per se, rather it seeks to examine the guiding principles of America and see how they apply to humanity in a general sense--so it appears to be nothing but a history class, but the focus is slightly different (meaning that there's purpose in the study as opposed to studying history for the sake of knowing history).

My professor is really a fantastic lecturer, very engaging. Today, for example, he was teaching us the principles of a Market Economy. To exemplify Free Exchange, he held up a box of one dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and basically started an auction.

"One dollar!" someone shouted.

"Two dollars!" shouted someone else.

"Ten!" shouted a girl in the front row.

$10 for a box of Krispy Kremes‽ What kind of a moron would--

"Twelve dollars!" shouted a boy in the back.

Are you daffy
‽ What could possibly posses you to--

"Twelve fifty," the girl said with some hesitation.

"Thirteen," said the boy.

"Thirteen fifty," said the girl.

"Fifteen dollars!" shouted the boy, and the donuts were sold.

The professor asked the boy some questions as the transaction was executed:

"How high would you have gone?" the professor asked.

"Sixteen," the boy said "because that's all I have."


This is not the first time my classmates have driven me to the desire to yank out fistfuls of hair; a couple weeks ago, the professor did an experiment to demonstrate self interest: he set up three stools and placed a pile of 10 quarters on each, then he called up six volunteers to play the Self Interest Game. To play the game, the professor put the six students into three pairs and assigned each pair to a stool; one at a time, he we to each pair and arbitrarily chose one of the students to divide the money between the two. The rules were 1) the student who divides the quarters gets to decide who gets which pile, 2) after that student has divided the quarters, the other student decides whether to accept the division, 3) if the second student accepts the division, each student gets to keep his or her pile, 4) if the second student rejects the division, the professor gets to keep all ten quarters.

The game played out in a most frustrating way. The first pair divided the quarters evenly and each left with $1.25 in quarters. In the second pair, the quarters were divided 8 and 2, which the second student rejected, so both left empty handed. In the final pair, the division was 6 and 4, which was also rejected, so they, too, left empty handed.

Morons! Given the choice of being given a dollar--or even 50 cents!--you either have to take 50 cents or walk away empty handed, why the heck do you chose to leave with nothing? Oh, it was so frustrating to me! Selfish pricks. You'd rather have nothing than see someone get more than you? I take it back--you aren't selfish, just stupid and prideful--so stupid and prideful that you hate selflessly, aiming to prevent anyone from getting ahead of you at all costs--even if it does cost!

Again, the professor interviewed the students to ask why they did what they did--why they would reject free money--and they said they rejected it because "it wasn't fair" that the money be divided unequally.

Now let me just say here that I am unequivocally opposed to the philosophy of getting something for nothing; it strikes me as immoral. Frankly, I feel a little guilty for the interest that my ING savings account accrues--and the not-even 4% interest on my measly savings isn't a whole lot. Nevertheless, I think I'd accept a 50-cent donation to my laundry fund--quarters are hard to come by for a debit-card toting student like myself!

Today my professor made the comment that money is "[o]ne of the great social inventions, one of the most important social inventions right up there with the wheel...." In my deliberations over the morality of money, I've decided that I'm glad money exists because the bartering system would get pretty messy for an English teacher (which is what I intend to be); trying to find a grocer that would exchange potatoes for a lecture on the writings of Poe or the rules governing the use of commas just might be impossible--no more potatoes for der schmetterling. No, I don't really hate money, I guess; mostly I just hate what people do for money and also what they turn around and do with that money.

I guess that's what Holiday (the movie that started my rantings on money a month ago) really portrays, the way money can rob people of their humanity. What I really love about that movie is that it shows how depraved the wealthy can be even when they aren't corrupt--the Setons are a bad group, really; they just have a crappy, crappy familial and social relationships because their lives revolve around money instead of living.

Anyway, there some ranting about the stupidity of money--meaning the stupidity of people that money seems to cause. But if money is the cause (or at least a catalyst) of the disease of stupidity, this may be one case in which the cure would be worse than the disease. I suppose, then, the best thing to do is look for Jesus to come take over the world--I assume He can come up with a better system, and I trust He will.

27 January 2008

Post 78

Another hero died today.

I'm sure during the next few days and weeks, people all over the world will be mourning the loss of dear President Hinckley, and I must admit that I, too, will miss him greatly, but I can't help but be happy for the man. His wife died almost four years ago, so I imagine a joyous reunion between the two is happening right now, and I would be pretty surprised if there wasn't a fairly substantial amount of relief associated with shedding the shackles of an aged body and leaving the weight of the responsibility of presiding over the entire world to another man. Oh, I'm sure there are some mixed emotions, but the man was 97; that's a good long run, and he spent the majority of it serving the Church, so I'm confident that he's getting what he deserves, and he deserves the very best.

All the same, I am very sad to see him go; the Church will be a very different thing without him--not that the teachings or organization or really anything like that will change at all, but
I will miss his loving chastisements. Of course, those chastisements probably caused him quite a bit of frustration--having to say over and over and over again things like, "Brethren, the LORD really does want you to stop gambling and backbiting and looking at pornography when you should be out supporting our recent converts, home teaching, and sharing the gospel--I really don't know how to make this more clear to you!" He worked wonders--building temples like crazy, rearranging the entire face of missionary work, representing the Church in the face of all sorts of mediamongers--but I feel we as laymen really failed him, which is terrible, really.

But the Church moves on, and those of us who loved him will always hold dear the memory of Gordon B. Hinckley.

23 January 2008

Post 77

In Post 75, I mentioned that I had a collection that would soon be worth bragging about. Well, the time has come to brag.

You know how some people collect stamps or coins or shot glasses? I collect dictionaries. Dictionaries may not be among the most popular collectibles, but they are certainly more useful other collectibles. Let me tell you about each one, moving from shortest to tallest (since that's how they're arranged on the shelf above my computer monitor):

The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus (2nd ed). Just a standard desk dictionary. Of all my dictionaries, this is the one I use most often because it works well enough for most of my needs. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to read this dictionary and highlight all the cool words I learned. I only got through A, J, K, Q, W, X, Y, Z, and about halfway through P before my mission interrupted me, and I've never gotten back to it, but sometimes I enjoy flipping through it and reading some highlighted words.

The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary (3rd ed). In comparison to my Oxford, this really isn't a very impressive little dictionary and is not, therefore, as handy as its name implies. Nevertheless, I have to have a Webster to balance the Oxford--a need which arises occasionally when Oxford says something totally unbelievable.

Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2nd ed). I got this dictionary as a Christmas present from my parents. At first, I wasn't sure how useful it would be, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how much I've used it, mostly when trying to understand random allusions. Because most of its entries are phrases, the organization can get a little confusing, but I can't complain too much about that. I'm happy to have this one; it's a lot of fun to peruse.

The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich. This is my most recent addition (it just came today from Amazon), and I am extremely excited to become acquainted with it. I like to think I'm fairly literate, but flipping through this book makes me realize that I'm really just an sapient abecedarian, which makes me rather lachrymose, but hopefully this book will take my jejune vocabulary and--uh--make it better. The process may be operose, and in my resultant jactation, I may start blogging with unnecessary panache and ridiculous paronomasia, but at least I'll then be able to give this fine book a panegyric it's worthy of (as opposed to just flipping through it and using random words--like I am now).

Merriam-Webster English Usage Dictionary (1994). This book fascinates me. Of all my dictionaries, this is probably the one I need most. The rules of English are tenuous and highly disputed; I'm happy to have some authoritative source to turn to that's more authoritative than my little writing handbook. I want a solid understanding of the rules so I can break them properly; the problem is, the rules I break poorly are usually the ones that I didn't know existed. Can you believe that I almost lived all the way to age 22 without knowing that compliment and complement are two different word? Embarrassing! I may have to read this book straight though if I really want to get where I want to be. Daunting thought....

The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary (1967). I picked this up at a thrift store for cheap ($8, I think). It's a large, single-volume dictionary. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I really don't know how good of a dictionary it is--I don't know that I've ever really looked up anything in it. But that's probably because I bought it for its appendices. The spine of this dictionary looks like this:

Reader's Digest


The Story of Writing
The History of English
Word Origins
Better Usage
Manuscript Preparation
Dictionary of Space
Medical Dictionary
Dictionary of Slang
Quotations from Reader's Digest
First Names
Signs and Symbols
How to Find Information
Foreign Language Dictionaries

It's pretty sweet. I especially enjoy the Dictionary of Slang since it's 1967 slang.

Britannica World Language Edition of Funk & Wagnalls New Practical Standard Dictionary (1956). My biggest dictionary--two volumes. Also my oldest dictionary, so I have to be careful sometimes. I like it a lot, though; it has pretty much everything in it--and I can hope that anything it doesn't have will be in my Highly Selective.

So, that's my collection. I also reference http://www.urbandictionary.com/ and http://www.rhymezone.com/ fairly regularly, and I have an old Roget's International Thesaurus that is unbelievably thorough. Really, I think the only way my collection could be more thorough would be if I got an OED--but that's a ways off financially.

21 January 2008

Post 76

Wait. What just happened?

So. I just saw Dan in Real Life. It was--uhhh....

In the book 1984, there's one part where it talks about how the government has computers that generate innocuous music based on formulas. That's kinda how this movie struck me; did anyone really write this, or has Hollywood finally admitted a lack of artistry and created some algorithm that produces movies filled with uninteresting characters enacting a predictable plot that's based upon a contrived conflict?

The interesting thing is that I don't hate this movie. It was so fluffy-bunny harmless that it failed to evoke emotion in me insomuch that I have no opinion of it; I find myself entirely unable to say one objective thing about it. I didn't like it, but it was substantial enough to provoke hatred or even mild distaste. I went with a group, and on the ride home, I tried to give some criticism like, "The whole thing was based around the bookstore scene, but I thought that the bookstore scene was--" and at that point, I realized that I had absolutely no motivation to be speaking and that my audience was neither interested in what I was saying nor opposed to me saying it; I probably could have stopped right there without anyone noticing. But I am not one to stop mid-sentence, so I trudged onward and finished my thought.

It's not something I want to do again, so I declare this post finished.

19 January 2008

Post 75

I just watched Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I bought it last night for 50 cents at a thrift store, and after watching it, I think that's about what it was worth.

Now, now. Don't get all angry at me; I like Wallace and Gromit as much as the next fellow--perhaps more than the next fellow if said fellow doesn't know who they are. I've seen "The Wrong Trousers" and "A Close Shave" and "Grand Day Out"--I enjoyed each, and I enjoyed Were-Rabbit, too--I like the humor; it's very clever. Things like "Anti-Pesto" and the toupee-sounds-like-"to pay" joke and the various humorous scene transitions (eg Lady Tottington's hair turning into a cloud) and the multitudinous other delightful little gags encountered along the way--they all make me at least smile. But I'm just not sure how much rewatchability this flick has. It's certainly worth a viewing--I certainly don't regret paying a half-dollar for it; quite to the contrary, I'm rather happy I did--I just--well, I probably won't hold on to it for very long.

I'm trying to be very selective in my movie collection. Without hardly trying, I've amassed a small library of books that includes many a volume that I haven't and may never read. I don't want to fall into the same trap with my DVD collection; every DVD that finds its way onto my shelf is going to be personally meaningful or poignantly insightful or dramatically moving or brilliantly funny--each is going to have a darn good reason for being on my shelf.

I would go through and tell you all the movies I have in my collection, but I think that's a discussion for another post. Besides, I have certain unmet goals regarding both additions and subtractions that need to be made, so I won't brag until the time for bragging has arrived, and it hasn't yet. But trust me when I say that when it comes, I'll be bragging.

Incidentally, I have another collection that will be bragging worthy in a few days when my most recent Amazon order arrives; be looking forward to that post within the week.

Post 74

Man. That was--quite a contrast, really. Wow. It's--really, it's almost painful. I just--I mean--yeah.

Um. Yeah. So I just went to my school's International Cinema (it's pretty sweet--especially since it's free!) and watched two movies in a row--first, Shall We Dansu? (1997 Japanese) and then L'Avventura (1960 Italian). Going into it, I expected to really like L'Avventura and not really like Shall We Dansu?, but I wanted to watch both just for exposure's sake. As it turns out, I absolutely loved Shall We Dansu? and actually hated L'Avventura--whoda thunk it, eh?

Shall We Dansu?

As I watched, I recorded some broken thoughts--to ensure I didn't forget them as I watched L'Avventura. As it turns out, this was a very good idea because L'Avventura really took it out of me.

So, here are my broken thoughts as I recorded them (vocally, into my cellphone):

"Montage 'Save the Last Dance.'"

"Physical comedy accentuated very well."

"Simple humor very entertaining. I like it a lot. Highly recommended."

"Good character work, too. Well defined. I am really enjoying this movie. Funny. I didn't expect to."

"'Eating alone spoils the taste.' And the camera angles when he finally got to dance with what's-her-face--interesting the way they moved around. It's very nice; I approve."

"Using ballroom dancing in the background even when that's not what's going on in the scene is brilliant. Also, there's always something entertaining in the background, but it never seems to steal the focus off of where it should be, which is a hard thing to do. I'm very impressed with this movie. High quality. I see a lot of artisticness in it; I really expected this to be just a dumb romantic comedy. Apparently we only make that here in America--probably a good thing for the rest of the world."

"The use of montages is really good, too; I--I'm impressed. So good!"

(Said while laughing with audience audibly laughing in the background:) "I've seen a lot of plays where you can just tell the actors are having a lot of fun, but it doesn't retract but actually adds to the quality. And this--this is the first movie I've ever seen like that. I'm laughing out loud! The actors are just so good! And they are having so much fun! Oh my gosh, and it's just--it's a blast to watch them; this movie is a joy. I cannot express to you how fun it is. And I really love it--although the--the strictly musical version of 'Save the Last Dance' was slightly better than the one with words--um--I don't really like the singer's voice--but still a good version--and it works well--for the montage--and as background music."

"The monologues are surprisingly--unobtrusive. They're so--honest that they come off as real. It's a hard thing to do--especially for a modern audience. Maybe not in the Orient; I don't know."

"I was impressed that even though there were all sorts of--analogies, allegories, fables--whatever that--all the ways ballroom dancing relates to real life--uh--no one ever pointed them out; they're just there--like, 'It's how you deal with the bumps that counts--and sometimes you get high points for it'--that's--ya know--that's meaningful, but no one was ever like, 'Hey, look! This is a life analogy!'--'Kinda like in real life--' ya know. No. The audience is expected to figure that out for themselves."


Before the opening credits started rolling, there was a notice that said this movie was honored in a 1960 international film festival for "a new movie language and the beauty of its images," or something like that. I don't really know what "a new movie language" means, but as for the beauty of its images--no arguments, here; there were a few different times that I thought to myself, "Look at that! Behold the glory of black and white!"

This movie is high quality; there can be no argument against that--at least, I can't come up with one. The writing, the directing, the acting--all of it was amazing. And very fine-tuned, too; everything was very focused upon the film's central message and theme. Unfortunately, that theme was People Suck. Seriously, every scene, every line somehow contributed to the overall portrayal of the shallowness and stupidity and callousness of mankind. I mean, I think I have a pretty low estimation of humanity; my view of human nature is generally pretty dim, but this movie far surpassed even my pessimism. I mean, dang--if this movie was right almost 50 years ago, if we were that corrupt back in 1960, I have to wonder how our handbasket has yet to reach the lowest realm of hell!

And, really, that's all I have to say about it except to reiterate the fact that I hated it--but perhaps that was the point.

18 January 2008

Post 73

A couple days ago, I watched an Italian film called Not of This World in my film class. It's taken me a couple days of digesting to form a solid opinion on it, but I've decided that I really, really like it and highly recommend it with only one caveat: the movie is in Italian, and the DVD's subtitles hint that the translation is--less than it should be. There were a few times that I thought to myself, "Man, I bet that line is really very powerful in Italian," and there were many spelling and grammar errors that were--ridiculous, really.

I love this movie, though, because it is so very different from most movies. If I were to summarize the plot for you, even if I gave you a thorough play-by-play report of it, I would never be able to convey to you the magic and the power of this movie because all of its beauty is wrapped up in the characters and their progression and change as the movie goes on. Also, by summarizing the plot, I would do the story great injustice because of the way it ends. The ending is--well, it isn't the type of ending that Hollywood enthusiasts crave (ie contrived happily-ever-after nonsense), but it certainly isn't a tragic ending--in fact, it was uplifting, almost spiritual--one of the most satisfying denouements I've yet encountered. Beyond that, I don't really know what to say about it; it's really something that you have to experience for yourself to understand.

This is a good one to see and then allow to percolate in your head for awhile; I really don't recommend forming any hasty opinions about it.

17 January 2008

Post 72

I just saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I liked it--a lot. I love Jimmy Stewart. I think Cary Grant is my all-time favorite movie actor, but Jimmy will always be my favorite Everyman, I think; he's just so good at it!

Many aspects of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington struck me as--interesting. I'm a big fan of Frank Capra--fantastic director--and I really tried to pay attention to his art as I watched. I don't have a trained eye, really; I don't know too much about film as yet, but I try to pay attention and see what I can pick out. I really, really liked how in the one scene between Jeff and Susan, the camera stayed focused entirely on Jeff's hat rather than on their faces--a very risky move, I would think, but very effective. On the other hand, I didn't really like the choppiness during the scene when Taylor and Paine were talking at length early on in the movie--the camera kept cutting back and forth between two shots from the same angle, one being slightly closer than the other. The dialog was pretty long, and I suppose even directors in '39 hated to keep the shot static for too long, but why not do some close-ups on their faces or something?

I also found the writing interesting in that, even though the movie culminates in a day-long filibuster, it wasn't really--uh--speech-centric. I mean, Senator Smith says some very good things, and sometimes he says them passionately, but really the drama of the scene is the press battle in his home state (which remains unnamed, which also struck me as an interesting bit of writing). I thought it worked really well, which is good news because I went into the movie all prepared to hear Jimmy Stewart deliver some passionate, patriotic speech, and had the scene not been so good, I probably would have been disappointed; as it is, I think that the scene plays out in such a way that it's actually more poignant than had it been some big, dramatic speech.

Have you ever seen Mr. Deeds Goes to Town? I've only seen it once (and not recently), so I don't remember what Mr. Deeds says in that courtroom scene, but I remember it got me right here [picture me gesturing to somehow indicate my chest]. Same deal with the courtroom scene in The Majestic (another movie I've seen only once and not recently; I remember really liking the courtroom scene, liking the rest of the movie for the most part, but really not able to take Jim Carey seriously--not because he acted the part poorly, but just because he's Jim Carey). Big, dramatic speeches tend to get to me--when they're in movies, at least. But Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has the overall effect of being touching and meaningful rather than building up to one touching, meaningful monologue, and I kinda think I like that better. And the fact that Paine finally breaks down (which we all hoped and secretly knew he would do) but that he doesn't break down until our vanquished hero has lost consciousness--that to me was also a very good move, made Jeff more of a tragic hero than a glorious victor, which was very satisfying to me because happy endings often leave me unsatisfied.

Anyway. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It's a classic--and a good one--and I think I'd recommend it to most anyone. I was happy, too, that it wasn't some patriotic pep-rally for America--at least not in the gag-me-with-a-spoon way that I feared it would be; it's actually a very honest and telling sort of flick. More of a--well, actually--I'll close this post by quoting the Meeting of the National Conference on Citizenship held October 4, 2007:

"Benjamin Franklin and his colleagues in Philadelphia knew that the Constitution did not herald the establishment of a perfect society but rather the pursuit of a "more perfect union." Thus, it was fitting for the Founders then and for us today to speak not only of the depth of our national pride but, when relevant, of our doubts. The quotation "my country right or wrong" was qualified by Carl Schurz’s sensible phrase—when she is right, support her; when she is wrong, correct her."

PS According to my labels, this post marks more posts on this blog that talk about movies than about myself--or anything else. Of course, this postscript could ruin that if I intended to be really thorough with my labeling--naaaaahh.

15 January 2008

Post 71

So. Since I watched Charade a few weeks ago (see Post 52) and various other older movies, I have often felt to mourn the virtual demise of clever dialog in favor of funny one-liners and wondered whether I am capable of writing witty dialog.

Last night, I made an attempt--somewhat poorly, methinks. See, I had all these clever exchanges rattling around in my head, and I had an interesting situational set up, but I really didn't have much in the way of characters or plot, so as I reread it today, it struck me as--well, I think it's funny, of course, but it feels like, "Hey, here's a bunch of funny exchanges thrown together in such a way that they appear to vaguely interrelate, but there really isn't much in the way of plot or characters."

Anyway, here it is. It isn't long, so feel free to read it and tell me how much you love or hate it:

Blind Date


HYPERGIRL standing in front of western-themed restaurant, talking hyperly on cellphone. SNOBBOY walks up. HYPERGIRL hyperly says goodbye to whoever she’s talking to.


Are you Joel’s friend?


Yes! Are you my date?


It’s a great misfortune that such appears to be the case. Shall we go in and get this over with?


Somebody’s gum-py!

They enter and seat themselves. WAITER, dressed in western attire, comes sauntering over.


(entirely unenthusiastically)

Howdy, y’all. Welcome to Big Bubba’s Barbeque—best ribs this side of the Alamo. Today’s special is—

SNOBBOY grabs WAITER by the bandanna around his neck and pulls him down to eyelevel.


Do you know what “tip” means?

WAITER stammers in wide-eyed panic.


It was originally an acronym—To Insure Promptness. Tip money used to be given before the meal was served to guarantee the utmost efficiency was employed in the conveyance of foodstuffs to the table. I want this little dinner date to be as brief as possible.

(shoving a $100 bill into the front pocket of the WAITER’s overalls)

Here is a portrait of my favorite Deist—just to insure promptness. I will further reward you if you impress me.

(gruffly releasing WAITER)

Now go.

The WAITER runs off. During the following exchange, he returns with menus, drops them on the table as he runs past and off again, returns with glasses and similarly drops them as he runs past and off, then returns with two plastic pitchers and simultaneously fills the two glasses, throws the pitchers off, pulls out a pad and pen, and stands, panting, waiting for the couple to order.


Early bird.




Early bird. Ya know, early bird catches the worm?


(brief pause)

Although that cliché has absolutely no relevance to the current situation, I feel inclined to point out that, while the early bird may indeed catch the worm, it is the second mouse that gets the cheese, and the third time that gets the proverbial charm, so despite the fact that the entrustment of my social life to our mutual friend Joel has led to what is obviously a social faux pas, perhaps there is yet hope for me in my romantic endeavors. Now hurry up an order; the waiter is getting anxious.

SNOBBOY holds up another $100 bill, which the WAITER takes and puts in his front pocket.


HYPERBOY and SNOBGIRL sitting at a table.


I can’t believe Joel set me up with a Philistine like you.


Philistine! Aha! Aha! I like you; you’re funny. We’ll be great friends.


I call every uncultured swine I encounter a Philistine; don’t let it go to your head.


Uncultured swine! Too-shay! I know; how about the first person to get called “Philistine” again pays for dinner.


This isn’t a game, Philistine.


Okay, you win; I’ll pay for dinner. You’re so clever! Let’s play to ten!


I’m going to kill Joel for this. Where is that waiter?



I doubt Joel knows where the waiter is, you—Philistine!


HYPERGIRL and SNOBBOY. They have their meals, and the WAITER is hovering over their table like a hungry vulture. HYPERGIRL is chattering away to the inattentive SNOBBOY, who is eating as quickly as she is talking.


I told Sally that color was way more important than reliability—I mean, who wants a car that runs good if it doesn’t look good, ya know?


You should slow down; you might choke.


And what a merciful escape that would be! Look, I’m done eating, so if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to pay the bill, tip the WAITER, and go home, and you can deliver the remainder of that driveling monologue to this beautifully deaf and vacant chair.


Aww, but I feel like we were just starting to get to know each other!


My point exactly.


But what if I want dessert?

SNOBBOY sighs and snaps his fingers. The WAITER dashes off and comes back rolling a cart covered in desserts. HYPERGIRL looks them over thoughtfully, then takes one.


Aren’t you going to have some?



I am diabetic!


The pumpkin pie is sugar free.

SNOBBOY gives a withering look to the WAITER, who recoils, and then SNOBBOY angrily grabs a slice of pumpkin pie off of the cart and starts eating it.




Where is that waiter?


I find it so funny that we’re wait-ing for the wait-er. Don’t you find that funny?




What? Aren’t you going to call me a Philistine?

SNOBGIRL stands up.


Leaving so soon?


I’m going to the bathroom—to gag myself.


You don’t mean that.

She grabs a spoon, holds it threateningly in his face, and then leaves.


HYPERGIRL and SNOBBOY. SNOBBOY is pounding his forehead onto what remains of his pie, while HYPERGIRL chatters away.


I thought that just seemed so unfair; she was totally blowing the whole thing out of proportion. I mean, what would you do if you were me?


Take myself out of the gene pool.


Did you know that you have pumpkin in your hair? You should, like, go to the bathroom to wash your face.


(sitting up excitedly)

Yes! Bathroom! That’s brilliant! You’re brill—no, that certainly isn’t true, but the bathroom—ah, the bathroom. Please excuse me.

He gets up and leaves. CELLPHONE RINGING. HYPERGIRL digs her cellphone out of her purse and answers it.


Hello? Oh, hi Jill. Yeah, I’m on a blind date right now with this guy.


He’s really weird!



SNOBGIRL is leaning against the wall with her forehead. SNOBBOY walks up. SNOBGIRL starts gently pounding her head against the wall. SNOBBOY pauses briefly to observe her.


You can say that again.

SNOBGIRL rotates her head, continuing to lean it against the wall, to look at SNOBBOY.


Excuse me?


Oh! It’s just that I’m on a blind date with this girl who is—well, frankly, I’d rather mash my face into sugar-free pumpkin pie than talk to her, as you may have deduced from my appearance.


She would get along well with my date.


Oh? Perhaps we could trade.


(smiling slightly)





SNOBBGIRL walks over to SNOBBOY and looks him in the face.







Uncultured swine!



Ignoble bovine.


Sesquipedalian pedant.



Repetitive dilettante.


(getting playfully frustrated, grasping for words)




Vanquished halberdier.


(throwing her arms around him)

Take me home.


Take a cab.


(backing up)

Take a hike!


(tipping an imaginary hat)

I’ll take my leave.


(stepping closer)

Take me with you!


(smiling, rolling his eyes)

Gimme a break.


Gimme a try.


(moving in, putting his arms around her)

Give me a hug.


(seductively going for a bite of pumpkin)

Give me a taste.


(recoiling a bit)

Give me some time.


Give me a chance!


(trying not to laugh)

Give me—a—give me—a—uh—

SNOBGIRL moves in for the kiss. Suddenly, HYPERBOY comes around the corner and sees the two of them. He’s shocked.



This is what—this is how you—is this what you—You Philistine!


So. There it is. I don't know whether you caught it, but the situation is that this Joel fellow (who never appears in person) had four friends that he decided to set up on blind dates--a snobbish man and a snobbish woman that he thought would do well together, and a hyper man and a hyper woman that he thought would also do well together. Unfortunately for all involved, Joel set the two dates up for the same place at the same time, so the couples got mixed. I don't know whether that was made sufficiently clear, but that information is there either implicitly or explicitly if you really really pay attention, but this isn't the sort of story that people pay that sort of attention to, methinks.

Alright, well, I've used "methinks" twice in this post; that's a sign that it's time for me to stop typing now, methinks.

12 January 2008

Post 70

I just watched Serenity. One of my roommates owns it, and my supervisor at work (whom I am awfully fond of--not romantically, mind you; he is a guy, and I am not, in fact, gay, though Post 3 has been raising some eyebrows of late, I assure you that what little sexual drive I have is aimed at the female population)--anyway, one of my roommates owns it, and my supervisor highly recommended it to me, so I watched it.

To make this review as fair as possible, let me throw my bias out on the table now: I am not a fan of speculative fiction; fantasy and sci-fi don't really do much for me (for details regarding that, read any of my three posts labeled Harry Potter). So, regardless of any quality elements Serenity had, it was, for me, a hard pill to swallow because of how shallow the cup is wherein I keep my willing suspension of disbelief.

That said, I'll attempt a good review.

[Quick sidenote: expect a gradual but dramatic improvement in the depth and intelligence of movie reviews on this blog; I'm taking a class that is essentially a course in how to write movie reviews, and I'm really excited about it. Also, for that same reason, expect an increased number of reviews. Whereas movies are a large part of modern literature, I feel that becoming well-watched is as noble a goal as becoming well-read.]

Serenity is a pretty intense flick. If you're into action-adventure stuff, it's a good one for that. And the camera work actually did a lot to accentuate that--which really impressed me since camera work tends to get in the way of the action in movies these days. Some of the transitions between scenes were very effective--especially early on in the movie. Overall, cinematography was pretty good, so no complaints there.

Characters were solid though almost static. Mal, I think, was the character who showed the most progression, and, surprisingly, The Operative's conversion at the end felt pretty natural. Often in movies, a highly contrived-feeling turnaround is required for a villain to see the light (for an especially bad example, watch the second National Treasure movie--actually, don't watch it; just take my word that it was a bad movie). The rest of the characters struck me as mostly inert, and the romantic element was so out-of-the-blue that I can't imagine that anyone who saw that movie didn't think, "Aw, c'MON! Gimme a break; this is ridiculous."

The plot was--good enough. I hesitate to say anything about it because--well, I guess I've already said something, so I ought to explain myself. I'm hesitant to talk about plot because Serenity is a follow-up to a series that I haven't seen. Nevertheless, the movie stands well alone; I didn't feel as though there was any back story that I was missing--which makes me a wonder a little bit about how well it works with the prematurely canceled show. Anyway, the plot was not bad--very science-fictional, but not bad.

The only thing that really annoyed me about the movie was the way the characters talked. Most of the time, they spoke normal, American English, but some of the phrases they used were--delivered well but awkward to listen to. For example, "In earnest, Mal, why are we--" and "She's damaging my calm!" These are the sorts of lines that I, as a a nonbeliever of speculative fiction, perceive as words penned by a writer who was thinking, "These people are from a different world, so even though they're speaking English, they have to have other-worldly cliches and catchphrases." I dunno; just rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps because the first attempt I ever made at a novel was a fantasy story, and I did that very same thing, so that's just one element of writing that sends up the This-Was-Written-by-a-Developing-Author red flag in my mind.

Anyway, Serenity is a solid movie if you're in to sci-fi; if sci-fi isn't your thing, like it isn't mine, then you probably won't enjoy it too much.

09 January 2008

Post 69

Big news!

Okay, so, in the last several posts, I've been doing a lot of exploring of morals &c, babbling endlessly, and reaching conclusions rarely and vaguely. This is all part of a phase that I've been going through recently that I think is now (thankfully) winding down. The year 2007 was an interesting one for me; I don't regret much of what I did with it, but looking back, I see I basically went through adolescence between the ages of 21 and 22 instead of the normal ages of 13 and 19. See, I never rebelled as a teenager because I never felt any reason to rebel. All that stuff about teenagers searching for identity was never something that I felt inclined to do as a teenager, but suddenly, as a young adult, I started doing all those teenagery things like listening to loud music, running away from home, pressing the limits of goodness in my media choices, and so forth; I would often look at the way I was living and think, "These really aren't the sorts of things that I am normally wont to do, so why am I being so dumb?" And then I'd shrug and think, "Oh, well. Not hurting anybody. Can't be too bad."

Well, now I'm done rebelling. I have a lot of theories as to why I was rebelling and what I was rebelling against, but I shan't be boring you with such things in this post, nevertheless I should like to share with you some of the conclusions that I have come to. These are intended to be answers to questions that I've raised in previous posts, but they are only answers for me; I hope they give you somethings to think about, but I also hope (more passionately, even) that you think about them a lot more than you accept them as your own--because they aren't your own; they're mine, and you can't have them! Unless, of course, you really want them, then, okay, whatever, it's your life; so long as you aren't hurting anyone, do whatever the heck you feel like.

(NOTE: each of the following resolutions will be hyperlinked to the post in which I initially explored the morals involved for convenience's sake; don't feel obligated to follow any of those links unless you wish to review my confused rantings.)

Resolution 1: I Am Morally Opposed to Profanity, but--

I am morally opposed to profanity, but I recognize its place in literature. I am one of those who believes that literature ought to be (and, of necessity, is) a reflection of the human condition; authors can try to whatever they will to write something that is totally irrelevant to humanity, but on some fundamental level, they have to draw from their own experiences sometime and cannot, therefore, ever fully detach themselves from the human condition. I believe that fiction, to really do its job, has to be believable, and to be believable, it must be realistic in at least some degree. Therefore, I have decided that I am okay with fiction having profanity in it and that I will feel no guilt should I ever make a creative work that employs profanity as a device.

That said, I am morally opposed to profanity in real life; I do not appreciate when those around me swear in any way, and I myself am through with swearing (Post 67 was a landmark in that it was the first time I myself have ever sworn; it is also decidedly the last such occasion). I am not going to be so uptight as to whine when others swear around me, but I am also going to cease my encouragement of colorful language (I have been very encouraging of it lately whenever I find myself in the company of those more brash than I).

Resolution 2: I Am Morally Opposed to Vulgarity, but--

My stance on vulgarity is almost identical to my stance on profanity except that I am not as accepting of it in fiction. I understand that vulgar things really do occur in the real world, but I believe that the portrayal of evil in art is best done by allusion and implication--off-screen action, so to speak, is not only less offensive, it is generally more artistic and can often be more poignant (as I watched Sweeny Todd, for example, I was struck with the realization that everybody knows that a razor across the throat will produce a lot of blood and that every regular movie-goer knows that modern cinema has the capability to make such a thing look very real--so where's the art in a gorefest? I believe that the whole movie could have been far more artistic and even a bit more intense had Tim Burton employed silhouettes and off-screen action; beyond making it cleaner, it would have made it higher quality).

Resolution 3: Generally, R-rated Movies Aren't Worth Admission Costs.

Upon deciding that I had no moral obligation to abstain from r-rated movies, I began searching for ones that I could watch. I wanted to have a list of movies that I could hold up as a sort of token of courage to all my namby-pamby Mormon peers to help them understand the truth about movies--it was part of this belated teenaged rebellion I was going through. Having searched around, I've decided that it isn't worth the effort. I still believe that the sweeping generalization that "All r-rated movies are bad" is unfair, but I now also believe that I would lose more in seeking good r-rated movies than I would lose in rejecting all r-rated movies. If someone says, "Here's this movie I really like; I think you should watch it," and it's rated R, I'll seriously consider watching the movie, but I'm not going to go out of my way to see The Passion of Christ or The Last of the Mahicans or Schindler's List or any of the other r-rated movies that are surely worth my time. I understand that certain parts of life--and especially historical facts--can only be rendered honestly in r-rated ways, and I don't believe that that makes watching them necessarily wrong, but as I am not especially interested in seeing any such movies right now, I'm not going to suffer through them for the sake of proving a point.

Resolution 4: Money Is--(sigh)--a Necessary Evil.

I still don't like money; I still don't desire it; I still fear it; I still think it is unfair, inconsistent, stupid, and ridiculous, but I'm not going to go shouting about how much I hate it because I don't have a better system to suggest.

This is certainly the most painful resolution, therefore it is also the shortest, therefore I am done.

05 January 2008

Post 68

I'm not sure who William Hazlitt is, but he said some pretty good stuff. My attention is drawn to him today because, according to Gmail, he said, "The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure very much," and it supposeth me that that is very true.

Well said, William.

I've been thinking about the phrase "Life is good."

Some definitions of good on the Web:

  • having desirable or positive qualities especially those suitable for a thing specified; "good news from the hospital"; "a good report card"; "when ...
  • full: having the normally expected amount; "gives full measure"; "gives good measure"; "a good mile from here"
  • morally admirable
  • estimable: deserving of esteem and respect; "all respectable companies give guarantees"; "ruined the family's good name"
  • beneficial: promoting or enhancing well-being; "an arms limitation agreement beneficial to all countries"; "the beneficial effects of a temperate climate"; "the experience was good for her"
  • agreeable or pleasing; "we all had a good time"; "good manners"
  • of moral excellence; "a genuinely good person"; "a just cause"; "an upright and respectable man"
  • adept: having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude; "adept in handicrafts"; "an adept juggler"; "an expert job"; "a good mechanic"; "a practiced marksman"; "a proficient engineer"; "a lesser-known but no less skillful composer"; "the effect was achieved by skillful retouching"
  • thorough; "had a good workout"; "gave the house a good cleaning"
  • dear: with or in a close or intimate relationship; "a good friend"; "my sisters and brothers are near and dear"
  • dependable: financially sound; "a good investment"; "a secure investment"
  • most suitable or right for a particular purpose; "a good time to plant tomatoes"; "the right time to act"; "the time is ripe for great sociological changes"
  • resulting favorably; "its a good thing that I wasn't there"; "it is good that you stayed"; "it is well that no one saw you"; "all's well that ends well"
  • effective: exerting force or influence; "the law is effective immediately"; "a warranty good for two years"; "the law is already in effect (or in force)"
  • capable of pleasing; "good looks"
  • appealing to the mind; "good music"; "a serious book"
  • in excellent physical condition; "good teeth"; "I still have one good leg"; "a sound mind in a sound body"
  • beneficial: tending to promote physical well-being; beneficial to health; "beneficial effects of a balanced diet"; "a good night's sleep"; "the salutary influence of pure air"
  • benefit; "for your own good"; "what's the good of worrying?"
  • moral excellence or admirableness; "there is much good to be found in people"
  • not forged; "a good dollar bill"
  • not left to spoil; "the meat is still good"
  • well: (often used as a combining form) in a good or proper or satisfactory manner or to a high standard (`good' is a nonstandard dialectal variant for `well'); "the children behaved well"; "a task well done"; "the party went well"; "he slept well"; "a well-argued thesis"; "a well-seasoned dish ...
  • that which is pleasing or valuable or useful; "weigh the good against the bad"; "among the highest goods of all are happiness and self-realization"
  • commodity: articles of commerce
  • generally admired; "good taste"
  • thoroughly: in a complete and thorough manner (`good' is sometimes used informally for `thoroughly'); "he was soundly defeated"; "we beat him good"

  • I think life, then--the state of being alive--I think it certainly qualifies as "good" regardless of the ebb and flow of its enjoyability.

    03 January 2008

    Post 67

    I just watched Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Holiday. I have no words to express the passionate way I love that movie, but I have the words to tell you why--it's because I feel just like Johnny Case in regards to society and wealth. Unlike Johnny, I have no reckless dreams of running away to find myself, but I do have a loathing hatred for money. I have spent the last five months living on my own, working only when necessary, earning as little money as possible, keeping jobs only long enough to pay rent and buy food--sometime not even that long. I have missed meals and gone in debt, but I have never worried about finances. Every dollar I get fills me with an awful mixture hatred and fear. I don't want money; I detest the fact that I am required to have it. I don't mind working--I love to serve the people around--but I hate that I can't just live and work but that I must instead spend my time to earn money to enable me to get an education. I love to learn, but I hate that I'm going to school so I can get a job to make enough money to raise a family--WHAT THE HELL DOES MONEY HAVE TO DO WITH FAMILY!

    I HATE the way our society runs....

    I am going to school so I can become a teacher. My discipline will be English, but I intend to teach Life--I wanna work in high schools, catch the kids just before they go off to be inculcated with nonsense about money making the world go round and teach them to think and feel, to be human, to live; I want to somehow convey to them what really matters in life--love and beauty, action and honor, friendship and compassion.

    Tell me, my friends, am I crazy? Sometimes I feel all alone in this world of greed and lust because I despise money and I don't long for beautiful women. I just want some simple girl with a beautiful mind and a deep soul, who doesn't mind living a simple life free of fluff and luxury--just a simple, easy life free from all the bondage that is Society. All I want is a house with some land where I can see the stars at night and a woman who will gaze up and appreciate the endlessness of the heavens, the majesty of nature, the goodness of God, and the power of love. Oh, if this is madness, let me be mad; lock me up someplace where society can't get to me to inflict me with its wretched poison, and let me die a man.

    Post 66

    Last night, I watched Meet Joe Black, and I'm really not sure what to think of it. I liked the pacing of the story, which is odd because its slow canter made it a three-hour flick, I have voiced my dislike of long movies more than once on this blog. Also, the whole movie struck me as quite beautiful and artistic, which is also odd because I thought that the pivotal coffeehouse scene was somewhat unconvincing and that the ending wasn't quite satisfying. Also, despite the fact that the obligatory sex was illicit and explicit, I was totally unoffended by it, which is also very odd since I am opposed to explicit sex regardless of legitimacy and illicit sex regardless of explicitness. I'm not sure why I enjoyed this movie so much, but I really did.

    One thing I was pretty impressed with was the acting. I thought Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt worked well together, but it was Jeffrey Tambor's performance that really wowed me; I thought he was fantastic. He was decent throughout the movie, but the scene wherein he confesses to Joe his guilt regarding Bill's forced retirement was--it was frickin' amazing, to be totally honest if not entirely eloquent; something about the big, ironic "surprise surprise!" smile he puts on after he spills his guts made me think, "Holy cow! The man's brilliant! That's so true to life, yet no one would think to do such a thing when acting because--because it just isn't the stereotypical I'm-not-coping-well-with-my-inner-pain sort of expression."

    So anyway. Those are my thoughts. I watched the movie all by myself, so the fact that parts of it made me laugh out loud is a couple of times is also worth noting. That initial boardroom scene was--really good. Also, Drew's last scene--when he's talking with Joe and Bill in Bill's private home office with the board listening clandestinely via speaker phone--very well done. Brad Pitt does a very convincing job of portraying the I'm-Death-and-I'm-angry thing, and I was quite impressed with how well he delivered the little monologue that employed such words as "Machiavellian." I was also impressed that that monologue was written well enough that it didn't sound like, "Hey, I'm a screenwriter, and I'm gonna whip out some fancy words; where's my thesaurus?" but actually sounded like, "I'm Death; feel my sesquipedalian wrath." Really, my only complaint acting-wise was in the coffeehouse scene, Brad Pitt had a weird accent, which wasn't too bad because it was fairly consistent, but at the end of the scene, Claire Forlani (whom I really don't find very attractive, by the way [I seem to be alone in that view, so I thought I'd throw it out there]) seemed to accidentally start picking it up. Maybe that's not so bad; some people probably do that in real life, but I thought it was kinda weird.

    Overall, a good movie; I'm happy to have it in my collection.