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Snowmargeddon

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I didn’t hear the three Roosters and their crows, nor did I hear the harp of Egther, yet these things must have passed for the fimbulvtr is upon us. For three years, there shall be no sun, no break in the relentless onslaught of the winter snow. For the wolf Skoll shall have snatched the sun its dreaded maw not to release it until the final days. The child and I searched, searched, and searched in vain for the world tree Yggdrassil to hide in Hoddmimir’s wood before the world serpent awakes to survive this, the end of the days…

…Or perhaps not. Cracked.com a couple of weeks ago had an article that described weathermen as being members of two archtypes: Michael Bay and Captain Obvious. The Captain Obvious types are the ones that predict temperature in the low 30s and upper 20s for the month of Frebruary, as if this was an astounding revelation that no one else could have ever made. Or they predict rain in April, snow in December…you get the idea.

The other camp, the Michael Bays, apparently all live in Western New York and could take a lesson from the above group. They have been predicting a storm to hit my area that would be so off the charts that it can only be measured in terms of the Eddas’ prediction of the end of fucking days. I should mention to my readers not familiar with Western New York that it comprises the cities of Rochester and Buffalo and the area in between them. Two cities that, unlike NYC, Washington DC, and Boston are used to snow being in the forecast and heavy snow at that.

So what is this dreaded forecast that will herald the downfall of the All-Father and Thor, leading to the eventual release of Balder from the pit of Hel? 4 to 7 Inches from Thursday to Friday, with another possible 1-2 inches Friday evening. That means that roughly, even if the high estimate is correct that 1 inch an hour will fall on the area. For comparison’s sake look at the last knuckle on your thumb, that is a approximately one inch*, that amount of snow will take one hour to fall on the ground.

The wind gusts are the more worrisome, as they expect them to peak from anywhere between 15mph to 30mph, which would cause huge snowdrifts if it weren’t for the heavy wet snow that is going to fall which the wind won’t be able to carry in any significant fashion. This would be more of an inconvenience if it weren’t for the fact that the entire weekend is supposed to have temperatures several degrees above freezing which will more than likely nullify the accumulation of snow.

But to hear it from the weathermen, it would seem that Thor better start lacing up his boots and sheathing Mjolnir for battle with the leviathan. This type of prediction just sends people into a panic, the term blizzard was nixed in the paper for the phrase, “Hurricane of Snow” which carries the sense of panic that these meteor”ologists”** want to happen. Which of course sends the general public, too forgetful to remember that snow does tend to fall East of the Great Lakes, to the grocery store to stock up on water, food, and shovels in order to dig themselves out of the several inches that are supposed to fall.

Don’t panic people this sort of thing tends to happen. Let’s get some weathermen fired, if that’s at all possible.

*And the source of the saying, “Rule of thumb.”
**I barely recognize the television brand of this as a science.

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Categories: daily complaint, rant

The Discrepancy

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The Pew foundation recently released the results of a religious survey that for me raises more questions than it does answers. I like the survey itself, it shows a growing trend away from fundamentalism (in the US), plus the surprising result that about a quarter of the population is no longer affiliated with the religion of their birth. Which I like because it shows an ability of people to question the social climate that they were born into and make actual decisions…of course there is no way to poll people who stayed in the religion of their parents to ask whether they reflected and chose it as well (I like them too).

The issue I have with the poll are the respondents that claimed they were not religious, but spiritual. According to Greg Smith of the Pew Survey these people don’t define themselves as atheist or agnostic, nor do they claim to be a member of any particular religion. They are “just nothing in particular,” is how he defined them in an NPR interview yesterday.

My problem is that of the entire universal spectrum there can only be three possibilities to the “God(s) Question.” The question is, “Does an absolute exist which governs all of existence?” or more simply “Does God(s) exist?”

I used to hang out at a coffee shop in Toledo with a seminary student who is now a Priest, a former seminarian who is now a Pagan, religious conservatives, and there was I, an atheist humanist. So we had all the answers covered. The three answers to the question are:

1: No, this means you are an atheist.
2: Yes, which means that you are a theist.
3: I don’t know, which means you are an agnostic.

There aren’t any other possibilities. To say that there is a higher power but you aren’t sure of what it is, is the same as saying “I don’t know.” This puts you in the agnostic camp, there isn’t another possibility. You can’t say that “I’m spiritual” as an escape route. Again, that puts you in the category of an agnostic because “spiritual” means you believe in something that isn’t specific enough to make you a theist. The entire gray area between Atheist and Theist is Agnosticisim. It’s not logically possible and can only be seriously represented by people who aren’t theists, but don’t want the label of “Agnostic” because it’s commonly viewed as the poor man’s atheism, someone who doesn’t want to go to service but likes the idea of an afterlife. Or a person that buys into Pascal’s Wager, which is just like buying a lottery ticket so you don’t have to wonder “what if I did?”

Furthermore, these spiritualists, who have no religious affiliation, “Many of these people go on in later questions to tell us that they are believers, that religion is important to them, that they pray, that they might even attend religious services, so it’s a very diverse group.

Yes the word “diverse” comes to mind, but so does the word ignorant. If you go to service, view religion as important to you, and pray to something specific* then you aren’t “nothing” you’re agnostic at the very least, or non-practicing at best. As Parmenides of Elea said 2500 years ago: “The path that is, is and is impossible to not be. Because the other, (is not) is needful to not be, for no person could know what is not nor could they indicate it.”

You both cannot be something and at the same time also be it, it’s the law of self-contradiction that even St. Thomas Aquinas said that God cannot break. So you, so-called “spiritualists,” wake up and pick a side because Dante’s got a special place in Hell for you if you don’t.**

*”Pray to something specific” should be considered for these purposes any of the following: an absolute being like a god, some intermediary like an angel, herald, or djinn; and also any form of meditation or physical exertion (i.e. Yoga, Tai Chi if done for purposes other than physical exercise). I don’t want to leave anyone out.

**And it’s not even technically in Hell, which somehow makes it worse.

Categories: philosophy, religion

Get in the Damn Car! (The Twilight Walkthrough P. 88-104)

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

First a bit of correction, last week I only really covered to P. 88, initially the plan was to end the chapter but those three pages gave me some real traction so for brevity’s sake I ended where I did. This is what would have been the rest of the chapter.

I said last week that my mind constantly switches between the feelings of hate and pity with Bella. In Edward I have no such issue, he is the epitome of a douche bag and I loathe him. Having never been a teenage girl I can’t understand what the draw is, I get it with Romeo Montague–a gangster who is willing to over look the rival blood coursing through Juliet Capulet’s veins in order to love her, but Romeo treats Juliet well, like a lady and suffers for her. Edward…well he likes to play games.

Bella and Edward, are not Romeo and Juliet despite what various blogs may say on the issue. I know that initial meetings, and the courting phase of any relationship is supposed to be awkward but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable awkward bordering on the creepiness that oozes from Edward Cullen. Sitting together at lunch Edward spends most of the time hinting toward Bella that he’s bad and dangerous. The mark of a truly heinous person. The “bad boy” types that undoubtedly my daughter will eventually bring home don’t sit around and brag about it like this. They flaunt authority, develop their own rule systems, and have a generally stoic demeanor. The person who brags isn’t bad, he’s overcompensating. In all likelihood he’s not the dangerous type that a 1950s sitcom dad would tell his daughter to stay away from, he’s just a shy meek introvert that is going to kill himself overcompensating. Most women that I have met can see right through this bullshit…especially the smart ones which Bella claims to be but simply isn’t.

Bella admits that he could be dangerous “But not bad,” I whispered, shaking my head. “No I don’t believe that you’re bad.”
–“You’re wrong.”

No, she’s not. A truly bad person, who was aware of their own ‘badness’ wouldn’t warn someone else. They would say it once and then let that person just find out for themselves. This is the guy in college who will sleep with a girl, and tell her that she’s not going to find a boyfriend with him. Hugh Jackman played this character very well in a movie called Someone Like You: “I don’t pretend to be the white knight.” He then goes on to explain that whatever expectations they bring to him, are their fault not his. He, at least, was honest in the beginning.

It’s a way of removing guilt from the inevitable future break up. Tell them this isn’t going to last, and you can feel that they are on borrowed time. They should relish the experience because all they are really doing is taking a trip on the Titanic, you know how it ends but isn’t the trip worth it?

Well it depends on who the captain is, or more importantly how many times the captain has been in the sea. Most of the time both the man and the woman are around the same age, which makes our normal “bad boy” better ethically. If I’m 21 and the girl I’m telling this to is 19, we don’t have that much of an experience differential, I can’t completely take advantage of her because at that point in my life I’m pretty much just guessing too. In Bella’s case this is much worse because she’s 17 (she finally tells us this in these pages) and he’s over a hundred. He’s had years to practice which makes him bad for two reasons.

The first is that he has to resort to these sorts of games to attract a woman in the first place. At 100 and still in possession of his wits, he should be able to just charm the hell out of this girl drawing from a life experience with women, this is “incompetent bad.” The second version is “morally bad,” because he is purposely seeking out the victim and then treats her like a victim.

Edward skips Biology, Bella goes and this is the day the Bio teacher is going to have the class determine their blood types. A simple process made more complicated by the oddly coincidental fact that Bella is a hemaphobe, that is she’s afraid of blood. She faints in class, because she can smell blood and Mike escorts her to the nurse’s office. Along the way Edward sees the goings on and interrupts. Which leads me to the question: if he skipped class why is he still hanging around the school? Obviously he needed to be there to forward the plot but without another excuse it’s just lazy writing.

Edward takes over and notices that Mike doesn’t like him. Well, duh, but this allows him to explain it to Bella furthering his own cause to be viewed as the bad boy. The proof breaks down like this, Mike doesn’t like me, Mike likes a lot of people, therefore I’m the bad boy. Which is faulty logic even for a hypothetical syllogism, Mike may not like idiots, or the pretentious, or whatever. Yet this all works on Bella who is now absolutely smitten and agrees to let Edward take her home.

Remember earlier when I said that Edward was ethically bad as well as incompetent? Well here comes the proof. Edward is walking Bella in the parking lot after using his magic powers to convince the school nurse to excuse a pale, 110 pound girl, who fainted twice out of gym class (which is like my magic ability to predict the outcomes of the Superbowl on Monday). Bella notices that they aren’t walking toward her truck but to Edward’s Volvo. She protests, she’s going to drive herself home, because she’s a strong independent girl who just fainted twice at the sight of a drop of blood.

Edward disagrees, he insists then after her further protests he orders, “Didn’t you hear me promise to take you safely home? Do you think I’m going to let you drive in your condition?’ his voice was still indignant.”

On one hand he has a point, she did just faint twice. On the other hand this attitude is about him not her, (I should point out that this is being said to her standing outside of the car while he is sitting down. If he cared so much about her, then either he would have opened the door for her and placed her in the passenger’s seat or they would be standing beside her car), “Didn’t you hear me promise…”

It reads like the excuse an abusive boyfriend gives to his crying girlfriend in the corner, “do you think I want to do this…” I’ve had experiences with girls in abusive relationships, I have heard them make excuses for them and it’s always like Edward here. He never wanted to hit me, sometimes I just frustrate him and he loses it, etc. It’s about ownership and Edward feels entitled.

Bella considers running to her car but decides against this because, “He’d probably just drag me along anyway if I did.”

“I’ll just drag you back,” he threatened, guessing my plan. By the arm no doubt, twisting it until it spiral fractures and she dreams up an excuse to tell Dr. Cullen at the hospital. All that’s remaining for him to say to her is the title of this post. Yeah he’s bad alright, just not in any good way, yet millions of teenage girls are idealizing this relationship? I wonder how the abuse help lines are going to handle the call volumes in five years?

Revisiting the Classics: Big Trouble in Little China

February 22, 2010 1 comment

My original philosophical interest in going to Graduate School was to study Eastern Philosophy/religion. I was quite fascinated with the subject being introduced through the Sun Tzu, and it’s timeless application through the history of war. Like my initial interest in Philosophy in general though, Sun Tzu was not the first contact I had with Chinese mythology, no sadly(?) that was through the John Carpenter classic Big Trouble in Little China.

For an odd reason it has been playing on various channels having hit the point where enough people want to see it for a channel to buy the rights, but not enough people for the price to go up. The movie is pure John Carpenter, funny enough to not take itself too seriously but serious enough where the action drives most of the plot. The movie was appealing to me as a kid because of the action. It’s part martial arts movie, part gunfight movie, and part special effects movie. Basically it’s everything that a seven year old needs in a movie especially since the love story is so muted that it’s hardly even there.

The plot itself sorrounds Jack Burton, the American everyman, who offers to help a friend of his pick up his girlfriend from the airport in San Fransisco. The girl is kidnapped and they give chase. For the 1980s, and especially for an 80s action movie that is all the plot we really need before we start piling up the bodies. However, there is more to this story. She was kidnapped by the Wing Kong because of her green eyes, which is extremely rare in the Chinese genome according to the movie. The Wing Kong, however are protected by the “Three Storms,” elemental demon martial artists that single handedly fight off the Yellow Turban gang who were opposed to the Wing Kong.

The Wing Kong are the protection for a series of criminal enterprises run by David Lo Pan, and Burton, Chi, a lawyer named Gracie Law (Kim Cattral) follow her to a bordello. The bordello is ripped apart by nature and one of the storms, Lightening steals the girlfriend away. Lo Pan needs her for a ritual in which he can appease the gods to return him to human form releasing him from the curse placed on him by the first sovereign emperor of China. Yeah, it’s a bit confusing but the mythology fits right.

The rest of the movie is about fighting Lo Pan and the three storms. Jack Burton is the American in the film and given the fact that it is 1986 he plays an odd roll. Typically the American at this period of time would be the one to guide the hopeless foreigners to victory thus showing everyone that Americans are pretty much the best people in the world. Burton though, is the fool in the film. He’s brash, he acts without thinking, he’s cocky to the point where it is ridiculous to watch him. One scene has Chi fighting an entire group of security guards while Burton tries desperately to unjam his gun.

The group of fighters is led by Egg Shen, a Chinese wizard who has fought Lo Pan before. Can they stop him before he retains human form? Or will Lo Pan release himself from the curse and seek to…it’s really unclear what Lo Pan seeks to do after he becomes human. Given that this is a John Carpenter movie, it could really go either way.

For a seven year old the real stars of the movie are the three storms, and among them it’s lightening. Remember the Emperor’s Black Lightening in the Return of the Jedi? Lightening is the living embodiment of that. The electricity flows off him, it looks like electricity as it just doesn’t come off his fingers but it travels around the character, it looks real unlike the electric bolts from the prequel star wars movies.

The movie isn’t an effects movie though, there is actually a plot here. A plot that deals with Daoist mysticism and Chinese mythological history.

Does it Hold Up?: This movie is harder to judge than The Delta Force. Even though they are both from the same period, both rely on action to drive the entertainment, Big Trouble takes great pains to not take itself so seriously. The movie laughs at it’s main character, Lo Pan is a good villain and looking at him now he’s even more entertaining. Jack Burton can be seen as a parody of American hubris during this time period, loud and cocky he repeatedly refers to himself in the third person giving us this exchange,

“You know what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like this? ‘
  ‘–Who?’
 ‘Jack Burton (points to himself) *Me*!”

Is the movie an advanced satire? Maybe, Burton does a great deal of saving the day, but most of the work is accomplished through his blind luck, Chi’s martial arts, and Egg Shen’s magic; so the guns and brute strength of Burton is sufficient only when being directed at the right target, which is anything that Burton can actually beat. He’s got great reflexes but those are useful only in response, he has trouble winning any fights against enemies that know he’s coming. I doubt it was intended as such but it works well enough now that we can always pretend. Shoehorning it into some made up post modernist bullshit interpretation the way people do with the smurfs, the seven dwarves, or the Go-Bots. What it actually is, is a movie that is still enjoyable because aside from the haircuts a remake would look essentially the same. The bad guys, and the heroes are timeless, they stand on their own not relegated to the time that the movie was made.

Categories: movie review, movies, reviews

Getting Ready to Jump The Shark: Modern Warfare 2 review part III

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Here we are at the last part of my Modern Warfare 2 review. This time we will be focusing on the non-campaign modes of the game, the multi-player and the “Spec Ops.” First, I would like to explain why I did it this way to begin with.

When I am beginning an entry of a particular category (or tag) I sometimes reread the past entries in the same. This is motivated by my desire for self-improvement, I noticed a particularly troubling issue with almost all of my video game reviews, and then I began to notice it in the gaming media itself. The issue was that new games of popular franchises seemed to get better reviews just by virtue of being the next installment. This seemed especially true when games contained multi-player components that were going to be popular. Halo 3 is a good example of this. By any objective value system, the game was average. It had a good story, but everything else was the same old stuff for a first person shooter, but because the multi player was so popular, it gained better reviews despite the fact that every issue people had with the multi player from the previous game remained. The only thing they added was a useless forge feature that no one ever used. So I switched it up, breaking the games down into parts that would allow me a more objective analysis of the game separating the story from the online.

Spec Ops: The Spec Ops feature is an interesting idea for the game. It’s a series of single, stand alone missions that one person (or two) plays through, it is independent of the main story but ties in with the invasion of the US by the Russian Army, or various other small skirmishes around the world. I like the theory behind this, but then again the theory behind transporters seems to work as well. A couple of the Spec Ops missions are well done and original. For instance one mission takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge,  it’s a simple point A to point B while shooting the Russians but the novelty of the landscape makes up for it. Most of the missions are rehashes of the campaign, to the point where they just dump you in the same neighborhood with the same bad guys, and the same support vehicle but instead of rescuing a VIP you have to download something from a computer. It just feels like padding the game out because the campaign was so short. Although there is something to be said for this being a prototype for future games (and probably more DLC).

Online: Most people have bought this game for the online this is a testament to how good the multiplayer was in the first Modern Warfare. What made that so great was the levelling system, the more points you racked up the more weapons, abilities, and equipment you gained access to. Unlike most games that reduce matches to races where the first team to the missile launcher, sniper rifle, or tank had a significant advantage; this game gave you weapon classes that each person chose, these were completely customizable and added to personalization leading to greater immersion.

The sequel expands on this, with greater customization. More, here is simply better. However, there are drawbacks. While the greater quantity does allow with more experimentation with different combinations  a good deal of the weapons don’t possess attributes that varied from their peers. The sniper rifles are a good example of this. There are only four, three of which are semi-automatic and one is bolt action. There is no point in taking the bolt action gun as it has the same attributes as the .50 calibre Barret except that the reload time is longer. It should be more accurate as bolt actions guns are typically more accurate than semi-autos (which is why actual Sniper detachments in both the US Army, Marines, and British SAS favor them). This problem is systemic in all of the weapon classes, a lack of serious differences means that picking a primary weapon for a class comes down to slight differences which can be described as capricious.

The constant stream of rewards will keep the player playing much like the Zynga games that I railed against earlier this week. Anything can get you extra points from making a “long shot”* to killing an opponent that previously killed you. The best feature though, is the “Death Streak.” If you are having a rough game and die four times in a row the game gives you a boost to help even the playing field. This is nice for those days were you are just a bit off and can cause you to rally back hoping to break at least even for the match.

The myriad of bonuses for getting a “kill streak” are also nice because these are also customizable. In the previous version 3 kills was a radar, 5 an airstrike, and 7 an attack helicopter. This version gives more than 15, everything from a radar jammer to a nuclear strike which ends the match. They vary in difficulty from three kills to 25 for the nuke. I like to stack three in a row so that I get them quickly, especially if one of them is an airdrop of four random streaks it can quickly become a game changer.

The boards are huge, which eliminates the random grenade kills that permeated the previous version. They are also hilly which almost gets rid of people sitting at a far corner with one of the sniper rifles and picking people off from across the room. The only gripe I have with the game is that they have over powered certain weapons leading to abuse. This occurs with the shotgun called “The Ranger” a sawed off double barreled break open gun. In real life it should have an effective range of about ten feet, and take forever to reload them. Yet players run around with them akimbo and kill anyone they remotely point at from about thirty yards.

It’s a minor complaint, but it is frustrating to deal with. You can tell that this game sacrificed the single player for the multi-player. This is also frustrating because the previous was a great mixture of both, and the severe holes in the plot really take away from what little story there was.

Final Count: Single Player 2/5, multi 5/5–recommended.

*Which I think shouldn’t be a reward for using the sniper rifles since that is their purpose to begin with.

Categories: reviews, video game review

Too Young for Punditry

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I dislike modern political pundits because they masquerade their opinions as news. This is across the board from the ultra left to the ultra right. I don’t begrudge them their opinions but people like Keith Olberman and Bill O’Reilly should really be putting disclaimers on their shows to notify when the news stops and the editorializing begins. That is the nature of the ratings game, people seem to want this so I just tune them out knowing that by not watching them I’m really doing all that I can.

These people know what they are talking about. Hopefully they have had the time to sit down, think about their opinions, and then formulate them. The stations that they are on, probably have some influence on how that opinion is formulated but in the long run it is their respective decisions to work for those stations in particular. No one is forcing Olberman to work for MSNBC when he’s just as lucid as O’Reilly thus being able to hold the job at Fox. They have their opinions, each has the ability to censor themselves and are acting on their own volition. I may disagree with them but I respect them in so far as they are not pretending that it is news.

What really bothers me are the so-called “prodigies” that the liberals and the conservatives (which are not politically parties by the way) have been trotting out. I waited to write about this until I had two such individuals from both sides, finally I have it. The first is a ten year old who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance until Homosexuals have the equal rights that heterosexuals have. The second is a 14 year old who has written two books on politics (I have just recently found out about the latter).

The video of the ten year old is telling, not because of the kid’s answers but because of the smug look on the part of the parent. The 14 year old is a victim of home schooling (well not really, he does attend a school with other children) whose mother admits that “politics bore me.” In both cases I am so completely skeptical that I feel tossing around the accusation of “liar” is almost applicable.

At 14, I can see the development of political opinion, but all information seems to point that he began this with “great interest” at the age of 8. This is quite remarkable for a child to not only get involved in following politics but also to take such a strong involvement with one side of the political spectrum, and all of it without any parental guidance or encouragement. I am a big supporter of Nurture over Nature, and because of this I simply cannot believe that he adopted these beliefs on his own.

The 10 year old is even more dubious to me because the actions that he is undertaking of his own volition seem so highly advanced that it throws Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs assunder. In order to accomplish what he is doing this kid must understand several things: the concept of inalienable rights, there are plenty of adults who don’t understand this concept–but then again, there are also plenty of idiots too. Even moderately educated adults have trouble grasping the abstract concept of a “right”–something that you receive by virtue of simply existing–that I find it doubtful that he gets it. Then again…my 1.5 year old daughter seems to think that she has a right to everything so maybe that’s not so far fetched.

Yet, this isn’t a right for the ten year old, it’s a right for other people that he doesn’t know. He would also have to understand the concept of “marriage” beyond what the average child knows it to be, and understand what a protest is and the purpose of it to make change.

It seems that abstract and theoritical thinking of this level would mean that these two children are prodigies being trotted around by both sides of the debate in order to say, “hey look these kids get it, why don’t the adults?”

Simply put these kids are too young to know all of this. I wonder how it will pan out, in my experience the more a parent tries to push one view on a child, the more that individual as they grow up pushes back. I think it will be funny to note what happens with these kids’ beliefs in the future.

I Can’t Even Come Up With Something Clever (The Twilight Walkthrough pg. 85-100)

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I was seriously looking forward to both this entry and the chapter. The hope was that it would be the “big reveal” that Edward would tell Bella that he was a Vampire, and then Meyer would have to explain how the undead work in her little world. So with disappointment, I must tell you that entry will have to wait. After last week it was all I could do to not plod ahead reading forward (I am reading this one week ahead of time, just like when I was teaching). The worst part about it is that I know that I am going to have to wait at least three weeks before I can write the “vampire post,” but enough about that.

This section makes me worry about Bella. I find odd that I vacillate between two emotions with her: disgust and pity. I know that people who are actually depressed can’t just snap themselves out of it, I’m up enough on the subject of psychology to understand this, but certain things that she does seem so self-imposed that it leads me to roll my eyes at her self-pity. The trouble is that the person that who undergoes self-imposed exile, an undeserved air of superiority at the rest of their peers, and an unrealistic image of advanced maturity can start to believe themselves. This will lead them to actual exile which then turns into unwanted loneliness. Ask any guy, we all knew someone in highschool who wanted to be left alone and by the end of our senior year that person was alone–all the time. The trouble for these guys is that they become so needy that they will take anything after awhile just to have some human contact. This usually manifests itself in drug use, it’s not really the drugs so much as the feeling of being in a group. It always amazes me how those people always knew where to find them, it didn’t matter what city they were in, they could sniff out a dealer. Too bad that cops don’t have the same ability.

Anyway, that’s the male experience. I know because for a good part of the time I was like that in school. I was lucky that at the time I viewed drugs as a moral issue and not merely a legal issue as I do now. With women I imagine the scenario to be much worse. Instead of just being in the wrong crowd, they can often fall to the wrong type of guy. Dr. Drew, from Loveline, used to say that he wanted “predator vision” which was the ability of abusers to instantly find the victim. He wanted to know what they look for because intervention would be a lot easier if you could see “victimhood” in person before they were abused/raped. Chronic abusers seem to know, according to him, what type of person won’t talk.

I’m beginning to get that from Bella. Certainly Edward is a predator, he has to be because he is a vampire that’s just his nature. In 2002 a little known, but fairly good movie, called Roger Dodger was released. It was about a womanizer who takes his teenage nephew out in New York City because the young lad wants to get laid. They meet two women and the Roger (Campbell Scott) asks them what they find most attractive in a man. Elizabeth Berkeley replies that the sense of humor is the most important thing.

Which is total bullshit, I know plenty of funny guys who haven’t had a date in years, and Roger calls her out. He tells her that the first guy she slept with probably had a tattoo, or a leather jacket or something. And she answers that he was a married guy with a motorcycle. Danger is the best aphrodisiac, never mind romantic comedies or period pieces, horror movies are the best date movies.* The danger aspect is good but coupled with mystery and it’s better than a half bottle of tequila and a hot tub. Edward knows this and he ferments it in Bella who has been drawn to him even though any being with even an iota of Kantian intrinsic value would see that he’s wrong. He treats her terribly, ignores her whenever he pleases, lords himself over her, and returns her affections like a slot machine. So of course she’s smitten.

After ignoring her, then half-heartedly apologizing for being a douche, he tells her that he will drive her to Seattle for her impromptu-yet-planned trip. She agrees, then it’s lunch time. The dance is approaching, as well as the beach party that Mike was planning. We’ve been given clues that there was a beach thing coming up, but that was before the accident and we still don’t know what month/season we are in. Bella tells us that there was probably going to be no rain but the temp would be at the most in the 40s. Being from Western New York, that puts our possible time period between January 1st and May 30th, or September 30th and December 31st. I have nothing to work with here.

The beach party is awfully impertinent because it doesn’t allow us to concentrate on picking on Bella for not going to the dance. This is inconsistent with her character: she won’t go to the dance for some reason but she will go to the beach party that will contain (and this is important): THE EXACT SAME FUCKING PEOPLE! She has told her father that she doesn’t dance, well neither do a lot of people who attend those things, I just don’t get it.

The other thing is that for someone who claims that she never fits in, she sure has taken the alpha role at lunch which is, again, the most important discernment of social order in high school. Bella is sitting with all of her “friends” disappointed that Edward isn’t there at his usual table, not eating, and ignoring her. Her “friends” are gabbing away about normal stuff, stuff that she deems beneath her: “Jessica babbled on and on about her dance plans– Lauren and Angela had asked the other boys and they were all going together–completely unaware of my inattention.”

In other words Jessica, Lauren, and Angela are being girls while Bella has more important things to do. Who are Lauren and Angela? Since Bella doesn’t pay them any regard or view them as in possession of any importance we don’t know. They are apparently not important enough to even be “Red Shirts” they’re more like the people that walk on to the bridge hand the captain the iPad and then walk away without so much as a nod from Kirk/Picard/Sisko. Then Jessica notices something odd, “Edward Cullen is staring at you again.”

“Again”? No Jessica, Edward is staring at her. This is the first time that anyone has ever noticed it outside of Bella. The odd thing that Jessica should have noticed is that Edward isn’t sitting with his pretentious aristocratic family, he’s by himself. Using his finger to order Bella to him. Jessica is surprised, and probably more surprised that she goes over. Further adding to the surprise is that the other girls are jealous, which I’m not going to complain about since it is normal girl behavior.

Taking a look at Edward’s motioning, it’s pure entitlement. It displays an attitude that she should be honored to be asked to his table. He doesn’t come over and politely interrupt. He sits by himself, stares, and then motions. It’s creepy and disgusting, I’ve known high school football stars that acted with more humility than this smug bastard. The worst part: she goes over delighted at the opportunity to grovel at the Duke’s feet hoping for a scrap of affection. He’s a sociopath alright but now I’m getting that confused feeling towards her: I really don’t know if I should pity her or hate her.

*And actual horror movies, not the bullshit torture porn/snuff movies like Saw or Passion of the Christ. Those aren’t scary so much as anatomical.

Categories: Book Walkthroughs