Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 19 (a future history)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Everything that was bad about life before all of this stuff started happening keeps getting worse, and all of the good things are gone. Even the good things that I didn’t know about before. Like books. But soldiers came to the school today and took lots and lots of books from the library and came and took books away from us if we had any that were on their stupid list of books they were taking away.

But they only took library books from us, because those books are in the system, I guess, and they knew who had them. They did go through all of the teacher’s rooms, though, the ones who have books that they loan out to us, and took tons of their books, too. Just took them like they took my dad’s TV, but they didn’t offer to pay for the books. They didn’t search us, though. I guess they didn’t have time. That was good, because I still have my copy of Fahrenheit 451 that I got from Mrs. Madison. I only have about 25 pages left, and I would have been SO MAD if they had taken it.

Mrs. Madison was so mad. I wasn’t in her class when they went in and took her books, but everyone was talking about it after. Evidently, the soldiers had to hold her down while they were taking her books. They had to evacuate the students from her room because of how she was screaming. It was making some of them cry.

Some people said they locked her in her classroom after they took her books, and a bunch of the boys were saying she was raped because there was a lot of screaming while they were keeping her in her class. A bunch of other boys were laughing about it and laughing that some people cried.

Boys are making school even worse than it usually is, lately. There’s a bunch of them that are going around all the time talking about how they get to do whatever they want to now. They slap us on the butts in the hall and one of them, Caleb, grabbed Jenna’s boob right in the middle of class yesterday! That was in Mrs. Madison’s class, and she sent him to the office, but he was back 20 minutes later like nothing had even happened. And he grabbed Jenna’s ass when class was over, too! Mrs. Madison made him stay behind, but I saw him after school, and he was laughing about it and said there was nothing they could do.

Caleb and his group of friends think they are going to get to be part of a new student patrol, but no one knows if they’re making that up. No one has announced anything about that, not even Trump, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. But Caleb’s dad is one of the National Guard soldiers who came to the school and took the books, and Caleb said his dad said it’s going to happen.

So maybe he’s talking shit or maybe he knows something he’s not supposed to know. No one knows, and everyone is scared to find out. Even the teachers, I think. Everyone except Caleb’s friends who think they’re all going to be in charge.

But, anyway… Mrs. Madison wasn’t in her class when I got there for 5th period. She had gone home. Or got sent home. Or got taken away. It really depends on who you talk to. All the boys who had laughed said the soldiers took her away and that she would probably never be back. It makes me so mad that they were saying those things, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I don’t think anyone knows what to do about it either. Everyone is scared, even the teachers. Having soldiers raiding the school doesn’t help.

I think I need to go to the book store and buy some books, because I might not be able to buy any soon. Assuming they didn’t already go to the bookstores and take their books, too. Except I don’t have any money, and books cost a lot. And I can’t order them from Amazon, either.

Not that I even know what books I should try to be getting. Fahrenheit, I know. And Hunger Games. And they took some book about flies, King of the Flies?, from Jimmy, but I don’t know what else. I just know that I want to read all the books they don’t want me to, and I need to figure out how to get some of them.

I used to never care that we didn’t have books in our house; now, I’m kinda mad that we don’t. What’s wrong with my parents that we don’t have any books? And why didn’t they ever tell me how important it is to read? And what is it in these books Trump doesn’t want us to read? I mean, I understand with Fahrenheit – It’s ALL about this! – and maybe I understand with Hunger Games, but I don’t know why they are so scared of us reading these books, and I want to know.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Point of No Return" (Ep. 5.12)

-- You must trust in others or success is impossible.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

Is it over yet? I'm so ready for it to be over. It's not me; it's you. You, Colonel Meebur Gascon, or the frog general, as I call him. I'm so ready for you to be out of my Clone Wars.

His name is a joke, by the way. I suppose I could have mentioned that earlier, but it doesn't make it any better. It means "braggart," basically. One who believes himself to be more (bigger) than he is, which is why he's small, to exaggerate the point. heh

On its own, this episode might not be so bad but, after three episode of Gascon, this one already starts with really low marks. Especially since it starts by making a point of Gascon's worst quality (yes, even worse than talking big all the time), that he never does the right thing unless he's forced to. He wants glory without the effort. So, when Gascon and droid company find themselves on a booby trapped ship heading toward a Republic security conference, Gascon's first impulse is to abandon ship and allow the bomb-laden vessel to travel on to its destination. It's only when he finds he cannot get off the ship that he decides he needs to do something about the fact that it's going to blow up.

Of course, it's R2-D2 who really does all the work and, yes, saves the day, but he couldn't save this story arc.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 17 (a future history)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Christ on a cracker! They made us watch stupid Trump and his stupid special TV broadcast at school today! We had to do it as a big assembly in the auditorium on a big projection screen. AND WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT EVERY SINGLE DAY! EVERY DAY!

No, I mean it. Every day. Even on the weekends. It’s mandatory for everyone so they can tell us how the war is going. Or something.

Is this what a war is? I want to say that it doesn’t feel like a war, but how would I know what a war feels like? Whatever it is, it certainly doesn’t feel normal. Life feels weird now. All of it.

We eat almost the same thing every day now.

There’s no TV.

There’s no Internet.

People are disappearing from school.

Everyone is going to be issued a special ID status card.

Oh, yeah, the cards. They’re going to make us carry ID cards that we have to use to check into the daily broadcasts. And we won’t be able to buy anything without them. Or go anywhere very far. They’re going to check the stupid cards for everything!

Maybe it does feel like a war. Just without any fighting. At least any fighting here. Trump said there is fighting in New York. With the Chinese. And THAT doesn’t make any sense. Why would the Chinese be in New York? Wouldn’t they be in California or something? But he said we’re fighting the Chinese in the streets of New York.

He also said there are a lot of traitors in the military who are refusing to fight against their own people, and that doesn’t make any sense either. If it’s the Chinese and they invaded New York, why would the Army be refusing to fight? People at school are whispering about it really being a civil war, but no one is saying it out loud. The teachers won’t talk about it. My parents won’t talk about it other than that my dad says that’s crazy talk then goes off on a rant about the Chinese and their horrible commie propaganda.

But that’s the only thing that makes sense to me, and that’s the scariest thing of all.

Except for the Russians, because Trump has asked the Russians to help take and hold New York.

He just went on and on about how great our friends the Russians are especially after they helped us take over Syria. Or we helped them take over Syria, because Russia got Syria.

And now they’re gonna get New York. Because that’s what happens. Syria. Korea. Afghanistan. Russia “helps” us, then they get to have the country. I don’t want to be the United States of Russia!

If it is a civil war, then I understand the thing about going to California, now.  Or any of those places. They must be the places fighting against Trump.

I don’t understand why no one is talking about what’s going on and why none of the adults will talk about it. Except my dad. HE believes Trump. The idiot. He's made at Trump about the TV, but he still believes every word that comes out of his mouth.

But my mom just shushes me when I try to ask questions, and none of the teachers will talk about anything that’s happening.

Oh, the principal said they’re going to be bringing in special counsellors for any students who need to ask questions or have someone to talk to. I don’t know why they think I would want to go talk to someone I don’t even know, though.

If this is what war feels like, being scared all the time, I don’t like it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Truth, Justice, and the "American Way"

No, this is not a post about Superman. Except, maybe it is a little bit. Or a lot.

"Truth, justice, and the American way," as a phrase, has been around for long enough at this point that people don't realize it originated with Superman. They may know it's been associated with Superman but most people think it's its own thing, not what amounts to a marketing phrase for the 50's Adventures of Superman, the Superman show I watched in syndication when I was a kid.

I'm not sure if there was an idea tying truth and justice to America prior to Superman (and I'm not doing the research on that, right now, to try and figure it out),but Superman, since his inception, has been tied to truth and justice. From the early days of the comic book to his days on the radio and, then, in the earlier TV series, Superman always stated that he was here to fight for truth and justice. That's all, just truth and justice. Those, to me, seem like things worth fighting for. I'm not so sure about the "American way."

See, the "American way" was something tossed in during the 50s in the midst of the Red Scare and McCarthy-ism and was less about America than it was about White America: Leave It To Beaver, white picket fences, and Father Knows Best. Probably some Andy Griffith, too. TV in the 50s was all about the "American way," and it's hard for me to dissociate that idea from those TV shows because they epitomize so much of the idea of the "American way."

And I'm not going to try and say that there's nothing attractive about those shows and the, for lack of a better word, ideal they put on display. But it was all a fantasy. Real life America was never like Father Knows Best or Mayberry. Real life America has never been all White all the time in nice little subdivisions with white picket fences. And it's never been about women who wear their heels and pearls in the kitchen while making dinner all day. All of this isn't even a White fantasy; it's a White Male fantasy about how everyone else lives to serve them in their own individual little kingdoms.

It's kind of sick.

It's possible I wouldn't have a problem with the whole "truth, justice, and the American way" thing if truth and justice were a part of it, had ever been a part of it. But the "American way," as it applies here, has always been about white male supremacy. It's why Steve Bannon holds the 50s up as his ideal era of what we need to get back to. The White Male was supreme, and everyone else knew their places.

As for truth and justice? We seem to have culturally abandoned those ideas of late. We've abandoned truth in favor of opinion and, even, outright lies. You can see the evidence of that in the man who was elected president, a man with absolutely no relationship with truth whatsoever. His lackeys display the same break from reality with their "alternative facts" and misrepresentation of historical accuracy. Sorry folks, history is not an opinion. Things happened. Saying they didn't or trying to recast those events in some other light doesn't make them not have happened.

And we've abandoned justice in favor of racial prejudice and allowing the rich more and more power and money. "We" have allowed the Republicans to wave religious dogma at Conservatives to keep them in power so that they can continually enable corporations the ability to take advantage of people, poison their water, and keep them in debt. That Jeff Sessions and Neil Gorsuch are where they are serve as proof that we have shoved justice down the stairs and broken her scales. We have become the money lenders in the Temple, and have elected the worst of them as president.

This seems to be the "American Way": no truth, no justice, just the dream of white picket fences in white neighbors with white schools.

Superman isn't coming. It's time to abandon this "American Way" nonsense as the fable it always was. It's time to stand for truth and justice. Truth and Justice! Which means demanding, all of us, that we have politicians who are knowledgeable, smart, and believe in facts, not money. It means demanding a change to the system so that the system doesn't check our skin color before it decides who gets a fair shake. It's time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Missing in Action" (Ep. 5.11)

-- A soldier's most powerful weapon is courage.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

The adventures of Colonel Gascon continue this week, and we get a clone thrown into the mix. With amnesia. Generally speaking, I hate amnesia stories, but the story of Gregor has been the best thing about this arc so far. Except for the Russian-sounding sullustan. And it would have been okay if they had just used the Russian accent for a bit of audio-flavor, but he was clearly culturally Russian, including naming the clone Gregor, and that felt a little weird.

So, yeah, I'm tired of Gascon, the frog general. I think the first time I watched the series I found him amusing -- that's my memory impression, anyway -- but, this time, I just find him tiresome. It's the prejudice against droids and his own self importance that does it. Perhaps, though, it's fitting for the time we're in, right now, because there are some analogies that can be drawn from the character. Clearly, he has the attitudes of the typical white male boomer; maybe that's why they made him a frog, which is a thought I am, at this moment, finding amusing.

Not enough for me not to be ready for this arc to finish, though. I'm ready to get back to the real story.

"I hope you have a plan to get us off this armpit."

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's Come To My Attention

It's come to my attention that there are those of Trump supporters who wish I had never been born. To paraphrase what was said, "The world be a better place if you had never been in it." Which, you know, is ironically amusing coming from the side of the political line which wants to make abortion something that doesn't exist.

But the attitude is something I've come to expect from those on the Right, the Conservatives, the ones who believe that only they have the right to be full people. Yes, freedom of religion but only as long as everyone practices religion exactly as they do. Yes, freedom of speech as long as people never disagree with them. Oh, and if you have some other shade of skin than "white," you better be really rich and willing to contribute a lot of green to get to play in the club.

[A recent study has shown that insurance companies consistently charge minorities up to 30% more for car insurance than they charge whites within the same risk bracket. No, there is no reason for this other than that they are not white.]

For me, the thing that makes this situation so hilarious <he said, ironically> is that the person with the specific "complaint" that finally inspired me to write this post is someone who consistently came into my space to complain about the things I was saying. I wasn't going into his spaces and calling him names or saying bad things about Trump supporters at his house or anything like that. No, he was going out of his way to come to my place and, then, getting offended by it. Over and over again.

Because, you know, that's the way Conservatives like to do it: They like to get mortally (yes, mortally) offended by things that happen nowhere near them, have nothing to do with them, and will never affect them. It's like this:
When I was a teenager growing up in Louisiana (a horrible, Hellish place that I would never wish on anyone) [And I'm not just talking about the weather in regard to Louisiana or the mosquitoes. They have the highest incarceration rate of anywhere in the world! One of the worst education systems in the country. And the politics... Look, despite the fact that we currently have Trump as president, the politics in Louisiana are... well, I'll sum it up this way: Edwin Edwards, David Duke, and Bobby Jindal.]
But I digress... Let me start over:
When I was a teenager growing up in Louisiana, people used to fervently wish and pray for the day that California would suffer a catastrophic earthquake and fall off into the ocean. Why? Because California was filled with gays and hedonism and anyone who would live in California deserved... well, God's judgement, but God's judgement was always something along the lines of Sodom and Gamorrah, because Californians didn't deserve to live. When I was a kid, California was just about the last place I ever wanted or expected to live, not least because I didn't expect it to still exist the way people talked.

Of course, it was while I was a teenager that I started having... issues... at church because of my own views. Frequently, my own views had to do with my much more accurate interpretation of the Bible. Not even the youth pastor or pastor ever came away from a disagreement with me about the Bible in which they didn't at the very least say, "You're not wrong." And my other view which said, "Why does it matter what other people do in their own homes if it's not affecting you?" [This was something I most often said when someone was going off about homosexuality.] The response was always, "Because it's wrong!" And I would say, "So is adultery, but you're not advocating for cheaters to die." [That's kind of a personal pet peeve, that "Christians" spend so much time slamming people of other sexual orientations while mostly ignoring infidelity, which must be at least an equivalent kind of sin, and I would say it's worse.]

What Conservatives/Fundamentalists (of all types) need to learn is this:
The planet is not yours. You do not own it. You do not have control of it. You share it with other people and YOU (you fascist asshole) need to learn how to SHARE. That means you need to learn how to live with people who don't believe the same things you do AND you need to QUIT trying to control other people. Also, consider your actions before you take them: If they could hurt someone else (like, if, you're going to put an oil pipeline that could leak near someone's water source, DON'T do it), don't do that thing. Also, also, corporations are not people and shouldn't be treated as such. Also some more, reducing your profits when you are still making a profit is NOT hurting you, especially if it's making someone else's life better.

I could go on.

All of that to say this:
If Trump supporters are getting tweaked enough by the things I say that they are more than wishing that I wasn't saying them, GOOD! I'm going to keep saying them. Because, you know, at this point, if you are still supporting Trump, you're either just an outright asshole (uneducated, racist, -ist-ist) or you'r clinging to Trump out of stubbornness because you don't want to admit that you were wrong, which makes you an asshole. Either way, you're an asshole.
Oh, or you're a Republican congressman who has no spine or no morality. That also makes you an asshole.

And, sure, I get that if you're a Trump supporter that you, in all likelihood, think that I'm the asshole, BUT, you know what, you DON'T HAVE TO COME INTO MY SPACE. So, really, if you disagree with me, stop engaging with the things I say.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Day 15

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Soldiers came to the door today and took our TV. They gave us money for it, but it wasn’t enough not to make my dad mad. He loved that TV. It was a huge flat screen thing that my dad said made it so that he never had to go out to the movie theater again. And made him feel like he was right in his football games. He’s been spewing about the super bowl all day and how was he going to watch it now. Not that he could have watched it even with the TV since the TV isn’t good for more than watching static.

After the thing with the Statue of Liberty message on the TV channels – lots of them, evidently – Trump decided it was better for “people” not to have TVs. They are, according to the soldiers, too much of a risk for receiving Chinese propaganda. Or anti-Trump propaganda. Something. He doesn’t want us to see anything he doesn’t want us to see. So only certain places will have TVs, and people are urged to go to these gathering places for his daily messages.

Thankfully, I’ll be in school. Thank God for the little things, right?

Not that I think I believe in God, not anymore. Not the God they talk about at church, anyway. Any god that was any amount of good would not have let someone like Trump be president. The fact that so many people at church like Trump because he’s getting rid of “the gays” and “putting the niggers in their place” just proves that that god, if he exists, is not a good god.

But I was talking about the soldiers…

They had to restrain my dad while they were stealing the TV. He screamed and cursed at them the whole time. At one point, when they were taking the TV off the wall, he pulled one of his arms loose and tried to go for the guys taking the TV down. Two of the soldiers tackled him to the floor, and one of them punched him in the face and told him if he was smart he would stay down.

Mom cried.

As they walked out the door, they gave my dad $200. He threw the money back at them, yelling, “I don’t want your fucking money! I don’t want your fucking money!” When they just threw the TV in the back of their truck with all of the others, like a piece of junk, my dad ran out in the yard at them, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Do you know how much that cost me?”

One of them pulled a gun and my dad stopped so fast he fell down. I might have laughed if I hadn’t been so scared. I don’t like my dad very much, right now, but I don’t want someone to shoot him.

Two more soldiers came up with another TV and threw it in on top of all the others, then they pulled the truck down the street a few houses, and I saw soldiers all over the street coming with TVs and throwing them in the truck. My dad stood there watching them for a long time even after they were gone. He stood in the yard and stared at the corner where the truck had turned off on when they left.

He left the money on the porch when he came back inside. He doesn’t know I picked it up. I don’t think anyone saw me get it, and it hasn’t been mentioned again. It’s in my hiding box now. For California.

My dad spent the rest of today fuming about football and the super bowl. He’s already been complaining about football since we lost the internet. huh That’s probably why he’s been so desperate for an antenna for the TV. I guess that won’t be a problem anymore.

I don’t even know if football is still going on. Not that I care. I hate football and how stupid everyone acts about it, like it’s the most important thing in the world. I can’t even talk to Dad when football is on. I think the house could burn down and he wouldn’t even notice until he was on fire.

So maybe that will be a good thing, not to have football in the house, even if I do miss being able to watch TV. Not as much as I did right at first, though. I’ve found some other things to do, even reading. I got Fahrenheit 451 from school, and it’s pretty good. I wanted The Hunger Games, but all the copies are gone, so my teacher said I should Bradbury, instead, because that was more real. I don’t know what she meant, exactly, but I saw the movies of Hunger Games, and I guess I would say Fahrenheit is more real than that. I mean, they did come take our TV which is kind of like burning the books in 451.

That’s a scary thought.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Clone Wars -- "A Sunny Day in the Void" (Ep. 5.10)

-- When all seems hopeless, a true hero gives hope.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

So... Whereas I was okay with one episode with this special droid team led by Colonel Gascon (the frog "general," just as a humor break or whatever you want to call it, I find myself less interested in a whole story arc surrounding this idea. Especially one that begins with an overly contrived shipwreck. Seriously? The piloted their ship through a comet cloud? They have four (FOUR!) astromech droids on this team and they piloted their ship into a cloud of comets and crashed?!?! Come on! At least have them damaged in a dogfight or something trying to escape. That would have been plausible and believable.

But, not only that, but the pilot droid, THE PILOT DROID!, seems unable to come to a decision to avoid flying into the comet storm and goes off to make conversation before alerting Gascon, at which point it is too late to do anything about it.

Which leaves them crashed on a void planet.

Basically, I didn't find anything of real value in this episode and, actually, I don't remember finding anything of value in it the first time I watched it. In fact, I had completely forgotten about "A Sunny Day in the Void," the title being the best thing about the episode (other than a couple of good one-liners), and had a sinking feeling as soon as I realized which episode it was.

"All I ask is that you let me die with dignity."
"Is that possible?"

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Johnny Rotten Got Wrong

Recently, Johnny Rotten, of the Sex Pistols, came to the defense of Donald Trump, saying Trump is exactly the kind of anti-establishment person we need in office. Johnny Rotten has an incorrect view of what the establishment is. Trump in almost every way represents the establishment and everything he has done so far, and tried to do, has been to support and further ingrain that establishment.

See, the establishment isn't about politics; it's about money. It always has been.

Look, I'm not saying that politics aren't wrapped up in it, but it's not politics that the establishment is built on. From the beginning, the very beginning, it's all been about money. That's why there was a revolution. "Hey, you ugly king over in England, you're taking our money, and we don't like it!" There's a reason why virtually every one of the founding fathers were rich dudes. And some of those families are still in politics, so it can be confusing, but it's still all about the money. The politics just help control the flow of the money.

The Koch brothers are a perfect example of this. They are super rich and a huge part of the modern establishment. In order to keep themselves as much super rich as possible, they employ politics. They themselves are not politicians; they just buy them and keep them in their pockets (the super rich always have big pockets, deep enough to keep a politician or two stashed inside) and use them to shift policy the way they want it to go.

[I wonder if the Kochs spend more money on politics (including funding campaigns) than they would "lose" if they just left well enough alone, because they spend mega-money on politics (yes, mega-money is a "thing"). I have a hard time with the idea that it's actually profitable for them in a purely monetary sense.]

From that standpoint, the government, also, is not the establishment. The reason that Trump and the Republicans are anti-government has nothing to do with "standing up for the little guy" and everything to do with keeping the government out of corporations, because the government, prior to Trump, has been standing up for the little guy the most it has since, probably, the 60s. Corporations, then, are a big part of the establishment. After all, according to the Republicans, they're people, too. (And we don't want to huwrt the witty feewings of those super wich cowpowations.) The Republicans aren't about less government because they want to protect the freedoms of "the people;" they're about less government so that they can more fully take advantage of the people and suck them dry of all the money they have.

Here's an important distinction:
Hilary Clinton doesn't come from money. Sure, she has money now, but she doesn't come from money. Neither does Obama. It allows them to operate from the perspective of normal people. Trump, though, comes from money. Enough money so that the "small loan" of ONE MILLION DOLLARS (though it was actually more) that his father gave him when he was starting out was somewhat equivalent to the 20 bucks your grandmother used to send you on your birthday. That is to say there is no equivalence.

Trump is the establishment. He comes from money and has spent all of his life being around only people with money. He has gathered around him in the White House more money than has ever been there before. He has made the White House more establishment than it has ever been, full of people who want to get rid of government regulations (regulations that protect regular people from being taken advantage of or harmed by the establishment) so that they can make even more money than they already have. It's all a profit game for him.

Don't be distracted by the noise. Trump is not here to bring down the establishment. Not even Bannon wants to bring down the establishment. These are guys who believe in money, and getting rid of obstacles to making more money, and controlling your lives. They might want to bring down the government (Bannon certainly does), but they want the Establishment to stay right where it is.
On your backs.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (a book review post)

You want to know how you can tell how good or bad a book is? By how willing I am to spoil it. If it's good, I'm going to do my best to keep as much of the book to myself so that you can have full enjoyment of it but, if it's bad, I'm going to give you every reason not read it, which is going to include giving away anything about it that I think will help you to understand why you shouldn't read it. So, yes, there will be spoilers. And... now, I feel bad for even warning you about that because what if you decide to stop right here and not read the review? Seriously, you don't want to waste your time on this one, and I'm going to tell you why.

The first thing you should know, though, is that when an author says about a story, "It's not very good," you should probably believe him. Not that I knew he'd said that before I read it, nor would it have kept me from reading it since I'm doing this whole "complete works of Lovecraft" thing, but at least I would have known going in. Actually, I think Lovecraft was being generous when he said "not very good."

Mostly, the story is just boring. Mind-numbingly boring. And long. Especially for Lovecraft. And, since I'm reading this on my Kindle and it's part of a collection, I didn't know how long it was when I started it, and it kept going on and on and nothing was happening and I couldn't read it without my mind wandering or falling asleep which meant I had to go back and re-read parts of it, not that those parts mattered because none of it ultimately mattered.

More interesting, though, is the fact that Randolph Carter, the protagonist, is a character based more than a little on Lovecraft himself. You'd think that if you were writing a story with you in it that it would be a tad more exciting and interesting. Or that the character would do something. Anything. Other than get captured and have to be continually rescued, passively, by others. Including an army of cats because Carter had happened to have been nice to a cat at some point prior to needing to be rescued.

So the idea here is that Carter has had a dream of a place he calls the Sunset City -- Randolph Carter is an expert at dreaming, evidently -- but, each time he dreams of it, the dream gets snatched away from him. Carter decides it is the gods of Earth doing this -- they live in the land of dream -- and, so, he decides he is going to seek them out in their city of Kadath, a place where no man has ever been.

The bulk of Dream-Quest is Carter travelling through the land of dream and descriptions of the places he's seeing. There is no dialogue in the entire novella. That can be okay in a short story, but it's difficult in a novella. There is a monologue near the end and, when the character began speaking, I got excited for a moment, only to realize that the character was just going to be monologuing. It was sad.

One of the things Lovecraft says about the story is that he worried whether there was so much creepy stuff in it that it all blended together and made everything mundane. He was right to worry. Especially since Lovecraft relies so heavily on not actually describing his monsters. You can only tell me so many times that something is nightmare-inducing before I quit believing you. Especially if you tell me that same basic thing about every creature you come across. All of which is made worse when Lovecraft introduces you to some deadly horror that wants to eat you on one page but, then, becomes your ally a few pages later because you happened to learn a bit of its language.

You might be wondering at this point why I finished this story at all, which would be an entirely fair question. The easy answer is that I'm doing this whole "complete works of Lovecraft" thing, and you can hardly claim to have read the complete works if you dump stories here or there because they bore your eyeballs out (take that however you want to), but, also, I did genuinely become curious as to whether the story was going to go anywhere.

And it did. Sort of. I mean, Carter does eventually make it to Kadath. Very eventually. But that's the only interesting part of the story. See, when Carter FINALLY arrives in Kadath, the unknown city of the gods, to demand that they allow him into his Sunset City, he finds them... not there. The city is abandoned. And, as it turns out, as we find out through the monologue of the -- well, I suppose he's the antagonist, but I hesitate to go as far as to call him that -- "bad" guy, the gods loved Carter's dreamed city so much that they have taken it for themselves, abandoning their positions as gods of the Earth so that they can hang out in Carter's dream city. However, the one little interesting bit is not worth the whole story.

And there's not much after that. Carter escaping again through virtually no action of his own, though it is the only time he's responsible for his own safety. The payoff, which is very small, is definitely not worth the length of the story. And I haven't even mentioned how many times the word "Cyclopean" is used.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Secret Weapons" (Ep. 5.9)

-- Humility is the only defense against humiliation.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

"Secret Weapons" is what you might call a fun little episode and, when I say "little," I mean that literally. I can only imagine the idea for this episode happened over a few a beers one night when someone said,"Wait! The general can be a frog!"
And someone responded, "And it can ride around in R2's head!"
That or someone is a big fan of the daleks from Doctor Who.

I don't have much more to say about this episode other than that it's fun. It's not significant in anyway, just a break for a bit of humor. Other than that R2 is in it (and not even in a significant way), there aren't even any established characters in the episode other than to start it off. That said, Dr. Gubacher is hilarious and is worth the whole episode. Or, at least, up to the part that he's in. He's like a cross between Igor and Q, and it makes me want a whole series where he's outfitting Jedi with special gadgets. That, um, actually sounds kind of awesome.

"Some of you might not make it back."
"What? Why's he looking at me?"

Monday, April 3, 2017

Playing God and the Fundamental Problem of Fundamentalism

Let's have a bit of a thought experiment, shall we?

If you espouse at all to Judeo-Christian mythology (because that is the correct term to use in this case, so don't go getting your undies all twisted in a knot and stuck in your bunghole) and, actually, to Islam, since it has the same roots, then there is a basic premise you have to acknowledge. Actually, it is the basic premise, the one without which there is no Judeo-Christian mythology, no Judaism, no Islam. That premise? Free will.

Yes, the basis of Christianity is the idea that God gave us choice. This is the fundamental concept of Christianity: God made man so that man could choose to love Him. Or not. Love has no meaning without the power to choose not to love.

Or to obey.

[I'm not offering this point as up for debate. This is my given, and I'm not going to enter a discussion in order to prove it. For one thing, that would be a whole other post. Also, it's been an accepted idea for... I don't know how long, so plenty of other people have already argued the point. If you don't agree with me, go find some of those arguments. Or offer your own counter argument, though I probably won't engage in some long, drawn out discussion over it. Not that I might not want to, but I just don't have time for that these days.]

The truth is that, on the whole, people are bad at "choice." We don't want to have them -- or, at least, not too many of them -- and we don't want other people to have them, especially if they are choices we feel like we don't get to make (because, you know, then that's not fair). We so much don't want to have them that we -- again, if you follow Judeo-Christian mythology -- demanded to God that He give us some rules to follow and, thus, we have the Law.

Conservatives love rules. I'm not being snarky. Conservatives tend to be rigid thinkers, and they like clearly defined boundaries and parameters. Rules. If you have a rule, you don't have to stop and figure out what choice you should make: It's clearly laid out for you. And, more importantly, it tells you what other people ought to be (or not to be) doing.

Also, if you are good at following the rules, that makes you better than everyone else.

Sound familiar Republicans?
(Now I am being snarky.)

Fundamentalists are the BEST at following the rules and doing what they're told. So good, in fact, that they come to believe it is their job to enforce the Rules, as they see them, on everyone else. In effect, they choose to play god.

How is this playing god, you might ask. What's wrong with making sure that people are doing the things they're "supposed to do"? What's wrong with enforcing "the rules," the Law?

[I'm going to use Christianity as my example religion here, but this behavior is by no means restricted to Christianity. Christians, however, seem to believe that they do NOT engage in these behaviors, so I think it's important, especially in the United States, to deal with this from the "Christian" perspective.]

Problem One:
You are choosing to enforce your version of "the rules," and those rules are not necessarily correct or moral. "But! The Bible!" Sure, I believe you believe your rules are in the Bible or are "Biblical," but, cherry-picking is an all too common occurrence with Christians, so it's quite likely that your rules are not going to match the rules of the denomination next door.

Now, I bet you think I'm going to get into that whole thing about who's rules are the correct ones and all of that, don't you? Well, I'm not. Because, you know what? No one is correct, because it doesn't really matter if anyone is correct. As soon as you try to enforce your version on someone else, even if it's 100% correct, you are in the wrong and it completely invalidates what you're doing. Yeah, crazy talk, I know.

Look, God gave us free will, gave us choice. Who are you to come along and take that away by trying to make me follow your version of the rules? We'll even go with the assumption that you are correct, but big deal. If God Himself as left it up to me, who the fuck do you think you are to come in here and tell me that it's not? God? Of course you do.

Problem Two:
Yes, really.
Jesus came along and said the Law didn't matter anymore. See, prior to Jesus, you proved you were "good" by following the Law, but Jesus said that wasn't going to work anymore. Well, it never worked to begin with because people followed the letter of the Law and tried to enforce it on each other without paying much attention to what it was all really about: being good to each other. So, Jesus (God) said, "No more Law." And, of course, what did everyone do? They double-downed on the Law.

What that means is that when anyone starts "Bibling" at you, they are saying that what they are saying is more valid than what Jesus (GOD) said.

Problem Three:
And Paul is a problem. Paul is the reason so many "Christians" are still clinging to the Law.

See, people are pretty savvy, and people realized that since the Law was no longer valid (everything was grace) that there was no more sin. Paul's response? Well, Paul said, "You know what, you're right; there is no more sin. Follow the Law anyway."

Paul, with a full understanding of what Jesus said about having done away with the Law, said that people should do it anyway, then he went around exhorting everyone to keep following the Law.

And "Christians" for the last 2000 years have done all they could to follow Paul's example and make people do as their told. Because, you know, they know better than God what ought to be going on. Forget "love your neighbor" and shit like that; just do as you're told. So say the Republicans.