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Telling (the New Moon Walkthrough Pg. 145-158)

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

 I began this project with an open mind. I realized that the detractors of this series were usually disgruntled nerd types who tend to hate anything popular by its virtue of being popular. It’s like Yogi Bera once said, “the place is so popular no one goes there anymore.” So throughout these posts I have made strides to point out the sections where the writing is well done rather than just focus on the purely negative as so many others have done. The problem is that in doing this, we hit a section where the characters are unlikable and the writing is bad. One without the other isn’t a good thing, but both together? Not a good sign. Furthermore, given that this is the second book in the series you expect improvement. However in order to do that we would need a drastically different main character.

Bella and Jake are working on the bikes, which means that it’s time for some pointless monologuing from Bella about why she isn’t completely miserable. It could be that, I don’t know, she’s out amongst the people instead of something magical but no, “It was Jacob himself. Jacob was simply a perpetually happy person and he carried that happiness with him like an aura, sharing it with whoever was within his gravitational pull.”

First off, is it an aura or a gravitational pull? One radiates while the other pulls in; it’s a mixed simile and doesn’t work at all. Secondly, those perpetually happy people? They usually make depressed people miserable. Maybe though he is an exception, although I somehow doubt it. Thirdly, and finally, we haven’t seen an instance of Jacob being a perpetually happy person. He seems in good spirits around Bella but that’s because he has a crush on her. Other than that he’s kind of a typical 16 year old.

Charlie shows up and there’s an impromptu party at the Black’s house. They eat spaghetti out sprawled throughout the house because the kitchen is too small for all eight or nine people that are there. She actually gives the impression that some of them are outside through the open doors, but this is January so that doesn’t make much sense. Charlie eyes Bella and Jacob throughout the dinner. Which makes sense given that he’s her father, but Bella has of course some snide comments about him doing it. Again, the relationship she has to her father is extremely odd. What’s even more odd is the relationship that Bella has with every other woman that appears in the story. The first thing that Bella notices about any female is how attractive they are. Leah, a girl we’ve just met who is a senior (but we aren’t told where), is described as having beautiful bronze skin. Every other woman in the story, if they are noticed at all, is introduced as being an object of desire or at least envy. Remember that in the last book, Bella could never shut the hell up about how gorgeous Edward’s sisters were. If a woman warrants a description in this book she’s always an object of desire. I’ve Cinemax movies that are less objectifying.

Once home we have a curious case of violating the “show don’t tell” rule of writing. Bella checks her email and receives word from her mother, “She wrote about her day, a new book club that filled the time slot…a second honeymoon trip to Disney World.” It’s a case of unnecessary information. Nothing in the email is of any importance, only to remind us that she has a mother. Then we get to the rule violation as Bella thinks about the email she has just read two paragraphs earlier, “I really must have worried her.”

Bella calls herself a bad daughter. I’ll agree with that, but only in reference to Charlie. Meyer has told us that Bella’s mother is upset with Bella. She should have shown us it, with the actual text of the email, but in this case it would have been useless anyway. Since nothing in that email even remotely hints at Renee being upset with Bella, Meyer instead just tells is that this is the case. It makes absolutely no sense for this to either happen or for it to be told to us. In fact if Renee was entirely dropped from the story would it be any different? Maybe she’s never there because she’s not hot.

The next day is Monday. Which is important because we are back to school. After another awkward exchange with Charlie she’s at school lamenting how no one notices her. Which is total bullshit as we explained in during the last novel Bella wants to be unpopular because she wants to be popular. It’s the long way around, people will view her as the loner and thus she will be special. Her eyes will be permanently fixed in an upward sarcastic fashion while she talks about foreign “films” and smokes cloves in three years. She’s way beyond unreliable narrator because she’s inconsistent. All of the times where she’s enjoyed the freedom and the privilege of being a Cullen now all she wants is anonymity? Bullshit, because the first thing she does is wonder if everyone has been talking about her.

The larger issue is that she hasn’t been gone. She’s been in school, at work, at home. We’re supposed to be under the impression that this is her first day back after the break up, but it clearly isn’t. Perhaps psychologically it might be, but that’s a complete stretch. Her claim is that she wants to, “fade into the wet concrete of the sidewalk like an oversized chameleon.

It’s another simile butcher but this time it only fails for two reasons: the first is that the word “oversized” is superfluous. If she wanted to hide it would be better for her to hide like a regular sized chameleon, because they are smaller thus easier to miss. If she really wanted to hide she wouldn’t be starting conversations with people like she does at lunch with Jessica. The second reason the simile fails is because unless that concrete is blue and she wants to be cold it makes no sense. Chameleons don’t change color to hide, they don’t have to, they are green and live in trees. The color change is merely a stimulus response to temperature. Do some research instead of going off everything that you’ve been told and you’ll be a better writer.

The not wanting to be noticed Bella strikes up a conversation with Jessica, “she looked at me with suspicious eyes. Could she still be angry? Or was she just too impatient to deal with a crazy person?” Jessica responds with a one word answer and then later asks two of the other women at the table how their weekend went giving us this observation by Bella, “Jessica asked, not sounding as if she cared about the answe. I’d bet this was just an opener so she could tell her own stories.”

I never picked this up before, but it has to do with Bella’s relationship with Jessica, and thus Jessica’s relationship with the author. To be honest I have to throw credit where it’s due (someone else has decided to torture themselves with these books too), and this person “Kate” made it perfectly clear why something is always off about Jessica. It’s not her, it’s the author. I think someone like Jessica, a pretty blonde, made life hell for our author because she wants us to hate Jessica, but we are never given any reason for not liking her. She’s a gossip, sure, but she’s also a 17/18 year old girl so that’s not really worthy of despising. Also she’s the center of her social circle so it makes sense that she would be a gossip, but other than that Bella just hates her and then through her eyes we are supposed to hate her as well. However nothing Jessica does has ever been unjustified to Bella. At first Jessica was a little jealous because of Mike which makes sense. Then she was made to see Bella abandon the only friends she had at Forks HS to sit with the Cullens, but that makes sense as well. Now, she’s giving Bella one word answers and ignoring her, and you know what? That makes sense as well given the events of Friday night. We are supposed to hate Jessica but i have no idea why. Either she’s a stand in for someone the author doesn’t like, or we are supposed to not like her because she isn’t attached to a man, which seems to be the only virtue worth having in this world.

Finally we get a third mutilating, “the figure of speech cold shoulder seemed to have some literal truth to it. I could feel the the warm air blowing off the vents, but I was still too cold.” What in the living fuck am I supposed to do with that? Cold shoulder is what you give someone you are ignoring or angry with. Like Jessica is doing to Bella right now, justifiably. It has nothing, at all, to do with the temperature in the air. Now if the cold air was metaphorically coming off of Jessica and Bella got a chill from her cold reaction, that would make sense. Then, however, we would be in a different book. A shitty book, but at least one that understands what exactly a cliche is. At this point I think I want to take a week off and watch the first movie.

Finally we get Angela, at the end of lunch, thanking Bella for standing up for her. Which we not only never learn why she did it but we also never learn when it happened because it wasn’t during this lunch period. Telling not showing seems to be the theme of this series. We also learn that the reason that Bella doesn’t hang out with Angela is because she’s too smart, she probably isn’t pretty enough either.

The Third Party

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Author/Columnist Thomas Friedman said on CNN Sunday that what America needs is a legitimate third party that exists in every state in order to make the world flatter or whatever (I’m trying to make a pun on his books but its not going well, that terrible one you just read was my THIRD attempt so just bear with me). In short because of the complete gridlock that the GOP and the Democrats are going to continually get themselves into, a third party would break up the system giving Americans a choice between the party that says no to everything the other one does, for example in a week or so we are going to hear about a new debate. The president has the desire to extend a payroll tax cut that is set to expire and the GOP is prepared to oppose it.

That’s right the GOP is going to be in favor of raising a tax just because the president wants to continue the cut. It’s a complete reversal of the GOP’s normal position, although it is consistent with their doing-it-out-of-spite childishness behaviour of the last three years. I would say it’s a reversal of Democratic positions too, but they seem to be just fine with cutting taxes based on their voting (caving) record in same amount of time.

I kind of agree with Mr. Friedman, so I am proposing to start my own third party. Bill Maher joked that it seemed like we can never have a party that has both brains and balls, my party will be that party. I need a name for it, and “Davidians” just conjures up the wrong image. I like “Rationalist” but that’s too pretentious, or “Revolutionary” but that is too close to “Communist” and believe me we’ll have our problems with that enough. The name will have to something like “The Founders Party.” It brings up ideas of the Founding Fathers but also appeals to the sense of reason and rationality that most of them based this Republic on. It works on a marketing level that sucks in those who don’t think too much, along with the curious, and the skeptical. Our symbol will be a shark, because it must move lest it die and is incapable of moving backwards.

The first thing that we need is a platform issue. A one button issue that idiots will align themselves with ignoring the rest of our platform that they will probably disagree with and in their minds would actually be suicidal to vote for: like a teacher’s union voting Republican because they want lower taxes. The thing about the Founders Party is that we are going to steal all of the good ideas from both parties and weed out the stupid ones with a scythe. Plus the constitution of the Founders Party is going to have amendment one being: no contradictory policies. We are going to be idealists on this one point. Unlike say, the Democrats, who seem to be liberal when it comes to social issues like drugs for the reason that as long as it hurts no one it should be permitted but then want to ban all guns because of the possibility that someone might hurt another. Or similarly with right wing conservatives who want government to stay out of their lives but at the same time want the government to control who can marry who.

The initial platform issue is going to be personal liberty. And we’re stealing both issues just mentioned. The Founders are going to be against gun control (within reason: for instance convicted felons and mental patients aren’t going to be allowed) and for marriage liberality/drug legalization. We take the NRA sponsored GOP supported gun position, the limousine liberal line on marriage, and the Ron Paul Republican drug position. This way we have rural conservative support, hollywood/NYC elite support, and drug support. Although the latter can’t truly be counted upon because getting potheads to get up and do something with their day, even voting for the legalization of their “non-addictive” drug seemed to be too much for them in California last year. Is it pandering? Of course it is, but this party is going to be honest about its pandering. In fact our policy positions are going to be classified in two tiers: the pandering sound bite positions and serious policy.

Not to say that the pandering positions aren’t going to be held by the party but that there are some positions that you can just take and not be at all serious about it. For instance if someone is going to seriously propose a ban on guns they would have to propose a ratification of an amendment to the Constitution repealing the second amendment. It’s easy to take the position because all in all, it’ll never happen. More serious legislation, the ones that actually have a chance–those are what the party is going to go for.

I’m reluctant to give broad definitions on politics since I’m at heart a pragmatist, but some idealism has to guide pragmatism. So here are some issues that we are going to take:

I) End the US dependence on fossil fuels.
        -It’s not that original I know, but our reasoning is. See one of the problems with the debate on climate change is that it’s been ruined by morons for so long. I mean morons on both sides. One side tried to make everyone feel bad for ruining the environment while the merely put their hands over their ears and pretended like a debate existed over responsibility. Both of these sides are wrong. Our position is to end our dependence on fossil fuels because it puts the country in a position where we are depending on foreign countries for those fossil fuels. This makes the country weak, and as a matter of national defense and security we should be driving toward self-reliance. If OPEC decided to entirely cut off our oil supply, we’d be screwed. One little civil war in Libya, a country we don’t even derive oil from, and the price here shot up almost a dollar in a day. If our energy consumption ran off of sources that this country produced our military engagements would decrease, our expenditures would decrease as well, and our internal economy would increase. There are many different ways to accomplish this and I have a list, but this is a general overview.

II) Treaty review: It’s time that the US looks at the treaties that it has signed and seriously consider whether or not they can be dissolved. For instance the US has a huge military base in Germany. I understand why it was set up, and I understand why part of it still needs to be there, but I seriously doubt that the German military couldn’t defend itself. They are the most powerful economy in Europe with a top tier military itself. The 80s called, they want their existential threat back.

III) The drug thing. Legalize and tax. Fold the ATF and the DEA back into the IRS as tax enforcers. Possession will no longer be treated as a crime, but intent to sell without a tax license will result in hefty fines as well as possible jail time. We’ll probably keep the current definitions of “intent to sell” and “trafficking.” This will cut expenditures by the federal government as well as generate revenue. If the taxes are too high and people quit, then we did some good too.

Those are but three positions of the Founders Party. I’m working on many more as current politics will no doubt lead to the frustration that warrants more positions.

Categories: current events, politics

Too hip to be happy pt. II (The New Moon Walkthrough Pg. 134-147)

August 23, 2011 4 comments

We’ve stumbled on to another one of the dangerous ideas that this book series propagates. The first being that control freak sociopaths make good boyfriends, and the second regards depression. I’ve discussed it several times during the last book that Bella is obviously clinically depressed. Not just a sad sack, but DSM-IV depressed. It’s one of the actual appealing things about her character, because at least in this our author is pretty accurate. The repeated feelings of worthlessness, the idolization of anyone that even seems better, and the complete attachment to her boyfriend (who again isn’t worth it by a long shot) to the point where she ignores her self; all play into a categorization of someone who is suffering from depression. While such a clinical diagnosis is ought of my expertise, I’m basically comparing her to people that I have known who were diagnosed with depression by a psychologist. It’s a little cheap, I admit that, but without shelling out the money for the DSM-IV and at least four years of college, it’s about as close as we are going to get.

Yet the depressed Bella that we have come to know and despise also carries with it a strange trope that exists in almost all cases where a form of fictional media deals with a person suffering from certain psychological ailments. First things first though, let’s get through the plot until we get there.

Jacob is stripping the bikes apart, which is stereotypical of any gear head. Take it apart to see what’s wrong with it, of course, they could…I don’t know, try to start the bikes just to see if they work. As they are doing so Jacob is basically carrying the conversation. The first thing he does is describe his sophomore year.

This was confusing to me. Not the sophomore part, we know that because in the last book Charlie yelled at him for driving before he had his license. It’s just that I’m not sure where he goes to school. It can’t be at Bella’s Forks HS, because then she would have had prior knowledge of all of this. Is it a reservation school? I know that such things do exist, but it would be nice here if Meyer would fill us in on at least where he goes. Especially when Jacob’s two friends show up for a pop in.

Quil and Embry–this is my friend Bella.’ Quil and Embry, I still didn’t know which was which, exchanged a look”

I know the look, it’s a guy thing and it surprises me that Meyer is aware of it. It’s the he’s-with-a-girl-so-let’s-give-him-shit look. It’s a nice scene that’s incredibly realistic, and it would be nice if Quil and Embry don’t suffer the Tolkien problem of being introduced just to be dropped. More importantly Bella leaves with the three still in the garage only this time, “I was laughing, actually laughing and there wasn’t even anyone watching.”

Jacob and his friends forced her to not purposely remember how miserable she’s supposed to be. At home it’s the usual weird relationship between Bella and her father. He’s notably curious about her spending time with Jacob, although not in a suspicious way just a concerned father way. Along with a way of hoping this breaks her out of the funk she’s been in. The next morning, it’s Sunday. Which is important because it is very rare that we get any notion of time in this story. Although truth be told, this book is a lot better than the last one…so far.

Sunday means no homework, and Bella wants to take a run over to Jacob’s to work on the motorcycles. Her dad is going to watch the game. It’s kind of lazy writing to have Charlie keep doing this. So far any time Bella needs to be away from her father he’s watching the game., “I wasn’t sure if the game was just an excuse for kicking me out, but he looked excited enough now.” 

“The game” falls under the Cain/Hackman theorum; at any given time there’s one on as long as you aren’t picky about what it is. The thing about this “game” is that since it’s Sunday we can’t be sure what it is. Too late in the year for football, too early in the year for baseball. All that’s left is Hockey and Basketball, and hockey we were told was last night. What could be so exciting that Charlie is ecstatic that Bella is out of the house? It doesn’t matter apparently, the big four may not be on, but if you are willing to settle for Thai slap boxing or watching ESPN “the ocho” cover Scrabble you can find some sort of competition. This time the excuse does two things, it gets Bella away from Charlie but it also gets Old Man Black away from Jacob. This way the motorcycle rebuilt can take place in secrecy.

Bella’s is happy now, I suppose is what really matters. But this leads us to the original point of the post. The trope regarding mental illness is that it’s all in the person’s head. Well, duh, I mean that it’s not anything serious but rather just a matter of perception if the afflicted person could just get over it, get out in the world, they would realize that being miserable is a choice that doesn’t have to be made. For reference see “The Dream Team,” “Rainman,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the episodes of House where he was committed, there’s many more but those would be the most popular.

This is a dangerous stereotype to continue. Bella’s problem is that she is a self-destructive person with no sense of self-worth. Then her boyfriend dumped her, now she’s one or two bad decisions away from a suicide attempt which she’s pretty much doing anyway with the motorcycles. Now, though, she’s happy and laughing because she is around people who don’t view her as being worthless, instead actually respect her. Which would be a good lesson for a depressed to learn, except that Bella isn’t doing it right. She is happy because Jacob is happy, not for any reason that she can come up with on her own. Which is too bad because she ought to be, she found people that care about her and make her feel good. Yet she still holds on to that stupid promise she made to Edward, “I still wanted to cheat.”

She wants to be miserable because the pain reminds her of Edward. It’s the only thing and its disappearing. That’s why she goes to bed anxious, she’s afraid of losing that last connection. Maybe what I said earlier was wrong regarding her: maybe she is choosing to be depressed, but no matter because it is still a dangerous stereotype to continue.

The A-Team

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m old enough to remember the show when it ran in the 80s, and I was a big fan then. Still, when I see reruns on the television I’ll stop changing the channel trying to remember what the episode was about or at least wait until I hear BA pity a fool, or Hannibal love it when a plan comes together. One of the reasons that I looked forward to the movie was to see who they would get to play whom.

The series was essentially character driven representing the cliches from almost every action movie prior to the eighties. You had the cool confident commander, the pretty boy ladies’ man, the tough guy, and the crazy person. The action, when viewing the show now, actually seems secondary to the characters since the characters are all former Special Forces the violence is part of their character. The actors need to portray a group of people that trust and love each other, but also can’t stand each other from time to time.

The movie did this extremely well especially with the casting of Liam Neeson as Col. John “Hannibal” Smith. Liam Neeson as an actor must have gotten tired of the heavy dramas a few years ago, I’m willing to bet that it started with The Phantom Menace that he realized I could actually have fun in an action movie. Even in deadly serious action movies like Taken, where his acting alone saved what was a pretty cliched movie, you can kind of see that he is being entertained as well. Bradley Cooper played Face very well and the dynamic between the two was well played, reminiscent of the relationship between George Peppard and Dirk Benedict. While it still worked well, the other two characters weren’t that memorable. The man who took over for Mr. T, Quinten Jackson, seemed to be laughing through his lines too much but he had the expressive anger that Mr. T brought to BA Baracus, the same can almost be said for Sharlto Copley as Howling Mad Murdock. The issue with Murdock is that you can take the character one of two ways: you can go the over the top comic relief crazy as the show did with Dwight Schultz or you can take a reserved subtle crazy. The movie ops for a middle ground instead treating the character as someone that is more of an adrenaline junky with a death wish and poor impulse control.

Reservations aside the characters work together and that is what is the most important thing about capturing the essence of the A-Team. The only thing really missing from the movie was a character named “Decker.” Jessica Biel is also in the movie playing “hot female” but largely is inconsequential to the plot. Normally this type of thing is annoying but if you remember the show correctly, the lead female was either a damsel in distress or fulfilled this role. Here, she’s an army intelligence officer seeking to arrest the A-Team for stealing a bunch of hundred dollar printing plates, which is the set up for the whole movie. This is the famous “crime they didn’t commit,” which is an actual improvement over the show because in the show they actually committed the crime they were arrested for.*

Basically the whole movie revolves around the team trying to retrieve the printing plates to clear their names. With a whole bunch of explosions fit in between. What do you expect? It’s an action movie based on an action television show, the plot is more of a vehicle for the gun fights. It’s a good thing too, because were this movie a serious investigation into the theft of missing printing plates I would have a problem with it. The plates themselves originated in Iran before the fall of the Shah in the 70s. For some reason the Iranians had the ability to print US $100 bills. I don’t feel like looking this up, but it’s certainly plausible. The plates were then captured at some point during the Iran-Iraq war and in the possession of the Iraqis when the US toppled Saddam. Again, plausible. What isn’t, is how these plates are in any way useful. In the mid 90s the design of the Franklin bill changed drastically. Aside from using the money to buy things in Somalia the money can’t be used.

“Hot Female” at one point describes the team as “specializing in the ridiculous,” and nothing better summarizes the movie than this one phrase. The movie is full of the cartoonish violence that accompanied the series but the movie never takes itself so seriously as to make itself absurd. It seems that everyone in the movie is having fun at the expense of what is going on. From Hot Female’s explanation that the team is trying to “fly a tank” to a mercenary’s plea to his CIA captor that he not get executed by a particularly inept agent, it’s a fun movie that perfectly interprets the series for the big screen.
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*In the eighties show the crime they were accused of was robbing the bank of Hanoi to defund the North Vietnamese and bring an end to the war. However the orders that sent them there were burned and the commanding officer killed by the VC, so it looked like they did it on their own accord. Still, they did actually rob that bank. It’s unclear to me how robbing the bank of an enemy during a war would cause you to get arrested by the army, but whatever.

Categories: movie review, movies, reviews

Summa Contra Motorcyclus (The New Moon Walkthrough Pg. 127-134)

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Borrowing from Aquinas for that title.

She’s out in the rain in front of a house where she sees some motorcycles for sale. This is apparently fate, because Charlie hates motorcycles and somehow this is her way to get back at Edward for breaking his promise that it would be like he never existed. Now, I know that previous sentence has two completely unrelated ideas in it, but literally this is her reasoning for wanting the motorcycles. Charlie hates them, they’re dangerous, and Edward broke his promise, so she’ll break her promise about not doing anything dangerous.

A kid from school opens the door, recognizing her for some reason and she inquires about the bikes. It turns out they are not for sale, they are free to whoever wants them, but they need work. For some reason haggling is involved regarding whether or not she’ll take them. Which I don’t understand at all, if the junkman comes around my neighborhood and he wants to take some scrap metal; I’m not going to get into it with him about where the best place to go would be. This is what happens, apparently there is one mechanic in Forks but he’s expensive and everyone knows this. Yet somehow he still operates, even though the entire town would rather drive to Port Angeles to get their car worked on. What it sounds like is that this kid, the high school kid, is trying to kiss up to the hot senior. That’s at least in the realm of plausibility, but if the family is really trying to ditch the bikes then the less talk about it the better.

Bella, now in possession of two motorcycles, needs a way to get them fixed, “inspiration hit like a bolt of lightening, not unreasonable considering the storm.”

The “like a bolt of lightening” part I understand, it’s a bit cliche, but I get the meaning. All of the sudden the idea exploded in her mind, but then she explains the simile? Why? It’s completely reasonable to say that inspiration hit like lightening, because people say that all of the time and everyone understands the meaning of the phrase.* What does the storm have to do with anything? Does she mean that literally lightening hit her? The weather is a complete non-issue for the simile to work. If she had said instead, “the idea exploded like a volcano” would she have to justify it with, “which is pretty reasonable considering what happened in Iceland recently?” Sorry Stephanie, but that’s bad writing.

What is the idea then? Jacob. She knows someone that works on cars, and he’ll pretty much do anything for her, so just like I assume how she got the job at Mike’s store she heads off to the reservation but first she calls her dad to tell her what’s going on. Her dad, the Sheriff, wonders why she is calling and what’s wrong to which Bella asks, “Can’t I call you at work without there being an emergency?

No, Bella, you can’t. Other people can, but not you. Mainly for the reason that every morning she wakes up screaming.

She gets permission and then runs to the Black’s house to see Jacob, “You grew again!’ I accused in amazement.”

“Accused”? I suppose that’s technically right but it just seems so wrong. The two sneak around to the barn to unload the bikes. Jacob looks them over and remarks that they will need work. Bella offers him one of the bikes in exchange for fixing the both of them-a pretty good deal actually. Jacob agrees to this, because he won’t take money. I actually get the impression that his desire to work on the motorcycles is to for its own sake trumping his desire to do shit for Bella. He’s enthusiastic about the project and best of all because of his old man’s wheel chair they can be worked in secrecy.

Bella here, actually lightens up. She feels better about herself around Jacob, and I’m not reading anything into it either. She flat out says it a couple of times. It’s probably because by doing this, she’s actually moving on. Holding on the Edward promise was just her way of staying with him, but once she freed herself from his control her mood considerably lightened. In actuality she’s finally come to the conclusion that she told us that she was at by the very end of the last chapter. This time she isn’t lying, because she’s stating facts not trying to convince anyone.

As a point of fact though things get strange. Jacob remarks that one of the Motorcycles is a Harley Davidson Spirit. Harleys are like Macs (the computers) a good deal of the cost is based around the label on it. They are two companies that basically epitmoize form over function. Not to say they don’t function well, but that for the same price you would pay for a Harley or an i”Whatever” you could but at least two of the other things. All that aside, the thing with the Harley is that it is going to be expensive to fix, Jake tells Bella that the parts cost money but she doesn’t care. She can use her college fund to pay for the parts.

I think that this is the way Meyer is writing Bella’s suicide, without calling it that. I did a quick check on the internet and most of the parts cost about fifty books each, the entire bike is available on EBay for around 3550. I suppose that my only question regarding her desire to cull her future in favor of the motorcycles is: why doesn’t she just use the money she makes from her job? It’s not like she’s in a hurry.

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*Just like “irregardless” sigh.

The Law of Non-Contradiction…

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment

…is never applied by conspiracy theorists. It can’t be because like Okham’s Razor, the Falsifiability principle, or Russel’s Teapot (I just learned that one as well), if it were applied it would spell doom for the whole theory. Faithful readers are aware of my ongoing “debate” with a conspiracy theorist via email. The appeal of the “debate” was that this person was someone I knew in real life so I figured that it would not degenerate into name calling and insults that it normally does. As Tywin Lannister remarked, “most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it,” which is what usually results in the yelling and insulting. Ad Hominem is the first refuge of the scoundrel.

We went from a quick “debate” about Israel, Iran and impending war; to his insistence that the tragedy in Norway was some kind of coverup or plot or something. I feel like I’m failing as a writer not being able to describe accurately what he was saying, but the difficulty is real. The emails that I receive are rambling messes that seem to be unable to stay on topic. I have no idea what Iran has to do with Norway, as the emails jump around linking random facts and historical events to countries and people that if placed in a set that set could only be labelled “potpourri.”

Then we had the shooting down of Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan last friday causing the death of 30 people at least 25 of whom were Navy SEALs. I saw the news reports and thought that it some Talibani (is that right? I’m not trying to be insulting) really got lucky. The report was simple: there was a firefight in which Army Rangers were surrounded and called for help. The help arrived in the form of the SEALs, who apparently worked with these Rangers from time to time. The danger averted, the sailors loaded into the chopper as it was taking off it was shot down with an RPG. Not one point of this seemed suspicious to me, it was out of the ordinary that so many American military troops had died in one event (it was apparently the record for the entire ten year engagement). But that a helicopter was shot down? Not so much.

So here’s the theory that the conspiracy theorist came up with, immediately. By immediately, I mean that the event happened and the next day I got an email touting it as evidence of the conspiracy. The reasoning was that the SEALs are the same force that killed Bin Laden, so the CIA had to cover it up. Now, mind you, the official report was that while this was a group of SEALs this was not Team 6, the ones that actually got Bin Laden. What exactly is the cover up?

Well, I’m not sure. Since every Conspiracy is like a snowflake, superficially similar but never exact I had to press asking that very question. Now this person, “Nick,” never believed in a couple of things: the first was that Muslim Terrorists conducted the attacks on 9/11 nor did the US ever get Bin Laden. Both things were faked but in different scale. 9/11 happened but it was an inside job in which Bin Laden was framed. The second just never happened. Bin Laden was never killed.

Regarding the latter, I’m still unclear as to whether or not Bin Laden ever existed in the capacity that he is famous for, according to this particular conspiracy. If you’re paying attention you’ve probably already figured out why this post is titled the way it is.

If Osama Bin Laden is not responsible for 9/11 (P), and he was never killed by SEAL Team 6 (Q); then what purpose does the the killing of the 30 people in the Chinook (R) actually serve? What’s nice about that is we can actually logically symbolize it as:

P & Q –> R

Together P and Q actually contradict any reasoning for R. If we are understanding the theory correctly the SEALs were killed to cover up an even that never happened. Despite all reason. Practically, since the names of the SEALs who raided Pakistan and got Bin Laden wouldn’t be easier to cover it up by just repeated the word “classified?” Why go to the trouble of killing a bunch of elite soldiers when you could simply say, “no it wasn’t them, it was someone else” where the someone else doesn’t actually exist? That’s the beauty of my brand of cover up: it insures against no leaks because the only people that could leak it don’t exist. Kobayashi once said, that one cannot be betrayed if one has no people.

No it’s much easier his way, involving the wanton killing of the very type of people the conspiracists say carry out the assassinations and black ops to cover up a non-existent event. THat’s the real contradiction, you don’t have to cover up something that never happened. 

Categories: current events

Disconnect (The New Moon Walkthrough pg. 119-127)

August 8, 2011 1 comment

Last night had been particularly bad,” Bella remarks from the inside of her truck as she pulled over because crying while driving is dangerous. Despite the fact that you can’t actually do it (thanks Nina), you can cry will stopped in a car but not while driving. Your body has this thing called the not-wanting-to-die prerogative that prioritizes certain actions. Driving is more important than crying. Her comment is odd because if “last night” was the night when she went to the movies with Jessica, it wasn’t bad at all. She ends the previous chapter by saying that the pain had not lessened but that she had grown stronger. How is that “particularly bad?”

Bella has been having a nightmare where she is lost in the woods. The accompanying description of the forest is well done, as I repeatedly said during the last book, Meyer can lay out a scene very well. Bella is troubled by the nightmares because it’s always the same and she always wakes up screaming. So what does she do to take her mind off the forest? She drives around in her truck through the forest lined roads while telling us, “I didn’t want to remember the forest.”

It leads us to an issue that we’ve had with this character in the entire story so far: she says one thing, but then does another. There is a literary device called “the unreliable narrator” in which a story is told in this way. To be the unreliable narrator, the voice we read has to contradict the events we witness or at least the facts of the story. Think of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashoman or Captain Nemo’s autobiography in The Mysterious Island, the point of view is being told as being true but it’s the recollections of a character that do not reflect the facts of the situation which make them false. The point is that whether done deliberately (with knowledge of the mistakes, hence a lie) or accidentally (thinking the recollections are honest) it drives the story. It takes cleverness to use it correctly. The thing about Bella Swan is that while we can’t trust her, we can’t call her an unreliable narrator. The difference is that the things that happen which contradict her narration are done for the sake of plot. The plot drives her into either saying or doing the wrong thing. She tells us she doesn’t want to be in the forest while driving through it, why? Because she needs to be on the road so that the next thing happens.

There’s an interesting dissection of Edward’s promise to Bella as she waits in the place that she doesn’t want to be. Edward told her that, “it would be like I never existed,” and while her feelings rebel against that idea she begins to realize that he lied, or is an oath breaker. What I like about it is that finally she sees something wrong in him. It’s small but it’s something. She realizes that he can’t erase her memory, he can’t undo the past, which allows her to think that she “would be able to look back on those few short months that would always be the best of my life.

I won’t even knock her for that sentiment. I remember my first girlfriend, Rose, who was of no real significance in my life. I didn’t particularly care about her that much but at the time I thought I did. Simply because she was the first and I hadn’t developed the callous yet. I thought ours would be the best relationship every possible for me after she dumped me…AT THE TIME. It always feels like forever in the present, but it’s not. She continues reflecting about the best time of her life and comes to the conclusion that the whole relationship was, “more than I asked for, more than I deserved.”

My friend, Cassie, was saying that the biggest appeal of this book was that Meyer writes depressed very well. I’ll admit to both having some sympathy for the main character due to experiences I have had and the experiences of close friends, but I wonder at Cassie’s opinion here. I’m not sure Bella is supposed to be depressed or if she accidentally falls into that character trait because of the writer. What Bella is saying sure sounds like a depressed person, but thus far every time she’s opined similarly it’s purpose has been to glorify how good and desirable Edward is.

For some reason she gets out of her car, after deciding that if Edward couldn’t keep his time-travel promise she won’t keep her safe living promise either. It’s important to note that she gets out of her car first, then remarks, “Sometimes kismet happens. Coincidence? Or was it meant to be?” upon seeing two motorcycles with a ‘for sale, as is’ sign above them.

The first thing she says is stupid. Of course kismet happens, it has to or else they wouldn’t call it “kismet.” Kismet literally means fate or destiny, the kind of thing that can’t be avoided. The motorcycles are just what she needs to live recklessly, so it ought to be fate. Yet, Bella talks herself right out of that conclusion, despite the fact that it was exactly what she needed at the time. The only type of fate that I believe in is this kind of fate, fictional. This is one time in which I actually grimaced when someone talked themselves out of believing in it, but again it’s that disconnection.