Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
In your face, scoffers!
Friday, October 26, 2007
is dull and dark and gray
When cold and ice and wind and frost
hound me through the day
When sweaters are inadequate ,
When longjohns fail to please,
I ache to return to you--
you never let me freeze.
You make my room so cozy
You make my life so bright
Blankets can’t compare to you
On a chill Wisconsin night
How could I brave the temperatures?
How could I stand the snow?
Without you to revive me--?
I never want to know.
I promise we’ll go on like this,
me cherishing you so
I’m so thankful that I found you
At Wal-Mart, ten months ago.
I knew it then, I know it now:
In truth--there’s nothing sweeter
than to bask
in the warming range
of my dear space heater.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I read an article from Time this morning called "Put Dumbledore Back in the Closet." The article is written by a gay man whose basic argument is that the way Dumbledore's sexuality was (non-)presented in the Harry Potter books is a worse representation of homosexuals than if Jo had left the Harry Potter world gay-free (as it seemed to be). As he writes:
Shouldn't I be happy to learn he's gay? Yes, except: Why couldn't he tell us himself? The Potter books add up to more than 800,000 words before Dumbledore dies in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and yet Rowling couldn't spare two of those words—"I'm gay"—to help define a central character's emotional identity? We can only conclude that Dumbledore saw his homosexuality as shameful and inappropriate to mention among his colleagues and students. His silence suggests a lack of personal integrity that is completely out of character.
At first glance, this seems to be a good point. However, when you look at it in the context of the Harry Potter series, particularly Harry's relationship to Dumbledore, it's frankly nonsense.
First of all, one of the refrains of Book 7 is Harry's complaint that Dumbledore never told Harry anything about himself. If Dumbledore never told Harry about his little sister, about his imprisoned father, about the brother Harry had met, why in the world should we be insulted, much less surprised, that Dumbledore never told Harry he was gay?
Now, consider this: Hagrid is straight. Snape is straight. . . . Other than that (the latter of which was unconfirmed until page 663 of Book 7), there is no mention of the romantic leanings or entanglements of any of the adults Harry knows at Hogwarts. Does Professor MacGonagall have a husband? A boyfriend? A life partner? A vow of celibacy? Who knows? There's not so much as a hint in the books. By and large, the lives of his teachers are just not something that impinges on the story of Harry.
Similarly, how do we know, as the article author states, that Dumbledore had no love life and "remained celibate" the entire rest of his life? How do we even know Dumbledore didn't tell his colleagues? Maybe he and Sybill Trelawney banter about boys all the time. We, the readers, are usually only privy to knowledge Harry himself has access to. Sure, he picks up stray bits and pieces of teacher-only conversation, thanks to the handy invisibility cloak, but those usually relate to--you know--the plot of the book.
Which brings me to another point--where was Dumbledore's sexuality supposed to fit in? I ask you, my readers: where would it have made sense to slip in this bit of information? As far as I can see, it's just not relevant to the story. Why would it matter to Harry that Dumbledore is gay? How would that change anything?
The only place it even kinda-sorta comes up is Dumbledore's "friendship" with the dark wizard Grindelwald. But in that respect, the Dumbledore-Grindelwald fight is not parallel to the Harry-Voldemort fight that Dumbledore tries to prepare Harry for. If it were Ginny or Ron that Harry had to take down to save the world, then maybe some cautionary words from Dumbledore about love blinding you to the truth that even cute people can be evil . . . then maybe. But as it stands, it's one of the least important things Dumbledore could have bothered to impart to his young apprentice.
In response to my initial post about this topic, MacKenzie made a good point (better, really, than the one the guy from Time did).
I don't think [J. K.] gets how writing a book works. You write it, include what you want then ...LET IT GO. One of my favorite parts of books is that I get to use my imagination and add to the story myself, once the story ends, it is up to ME and now she is all up in my face telling me that this person does this and this person is like that.
This, I think, raises a question less about content than about storytelling itself. With science fiction/fantasy franchises, you hear a lot about "canon." Canon is what's official, what's "real," in any particular fictional universe. Anything in the Star Wars films is canon; anything in Star Wars comic books or novels (or *shudder* fan fiction) is not--it's only as "true" as any particular reader wants it to be at the time. This means, unfortunately, that the much cooler version of how Luke came to be raised by Owen and Beru Lars from the novelization of Return of the Jedi has been overridden by the WEAK explanation of Episodes II and III. It's sad, but them's the breaks.
So the question is--are things that J.K. Rowling says now, after all over her words have been committed to the paper of a million trees, considered canon? Is Dumbledore gay, on the plane of Harry Potter reality, because she mentioned it at a couple of book signings?
This is tricky for two reasons. The first is that, allegedly, someday she's going to write some kind of Harry Potter appendix/encyclopedia/something. If she writes it down in there, does that count?
The second and more complicated question is, are the answers that J. K. Rowling is now giving to eager audiences . . . fan fiction? Is what she's doing just a better publicized version of me sitting in front of my computer telling you that I think Neville and Luna will get married and have a bunch of spaced-out babies?
I think there are two possible answers: 1) No, of course not--she created these characters, so she put a whole bunch of thought into them that we never saw on paper. There's background there, informing what all the characters are doing; she just didn't have space to write it all in. 2) Yes, because if it's not printed, if it wasn't important enough to make its way onto the page, then we as readers can't be held accountable for believing it. If she didn't care enough about some of her ideas to make them "fact" by publishing them, then they remain ideas; they remain opinion.
So the question becomes: are J. K. Rowling's opinions about her characters more important than mine or yours? I think that's something each reader can decide for him- or herself. I, for instance, like knowing more about Jo's thought processes. After all, I liked the stuff she imagined and put into the books--I'm all for being able to find more of that same product. At the same time, MacKenzie is right that she's not always consistent about these things. That shows that the contents of Things She Says is just not of as high a quality as Things She Wrote.
I like knowing extra tidbits of what J. K. Rowling thinks about the characters she created. But where I disagree with her, I'm perfectly happy to stick with my decision that Neville and Luna live happily ever after.
I'm glad Jo announced that she has always thought of Dumbledore as gay.
I think it's interesting. It gives him, and particularly his Grindelwald storyline, more depth. Even though it went hideously, hideously wrong (and Jo hasn't said, for one thing, whether Grindelwald felt the same way about Dumbledore), I prefer characters I like to find romance rather than, well, not to.
As for whether this is some great social stride, I'd have to say it isn't much of one. After all, it's not in the books; as the novels get read over and over, through the march of time, a post-publication revelation is going to have a much shorter shelf life, a much shallower cache, than what is actually printed on the pages. Still, I can't see how it's a bad thing, either for gay bashers or advocates--Dumbledore's gay, take it or leave it, but it's more important for Harry Potter that he's a good wizard, a good teacher, and a good person.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Although my choices are numerous, I think I'm going to have to go with a Strong Bad pumpkin.
Trogdor would be a strong contender, but I've done that before.
(As you can see, my pumpkin skillz, they are mad.)
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Sean Cunningham (because he wrote a new biography of Henry VII before I got to, that's why)
That really incompetent, super-stupid guy who works at the circulation desk of my library
Thursday, October 18, 2007
is still the Cleveland Indians' mascot.
Really, Cleveland? Really?
Bob Harris puts it better, and more vehemently, than I am going to do, but his post only reminded me of something I'd already found really obvious.
If any particular Bugs Bunny cartoon contained a caricature like this (and maybe some did), TV stations would have stopped airing it decades ago. If this character were the equivalent depiction of a black or Asian person, it would be long gone. In fact, somebody on the internet made this point visually:
I can't decide whether the weirdest thing is that Native Americans are the one ethnic group that is widely used as a sports mascot or whether it's that--somehow--"Chief Wahoo" has escaped the political correctness smackdown on the worst abuses of Native American mascottage. (Well, them and the Washington Redskins. Seriously, I bet you'd be just as likely to call Native Americans "redskins" to their faces as you would to call a black person the n-word. Think about it.)
Sometimes I think the whole political correctness thing gets out of hand, yes. But I disagree strongly with people who use the term only in a derogatory sense. Political correctness, at its heart, is about respect; respect as mandated by mere common decency. It's about acknowledging that people--no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.--deserve to be understood and appreciated as individual human beings. Not as stereotypes, not as jokes, and not as this.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I'm not quite sure what my deal is. Maybe it's that the ducklings (you know, Chase, Cameron, and Foreman) weren't in them enough. Maybe it's because I feel like they're going the wrong direction, adding new apprentice doctors instead of exploring the interesting and underdeveloped characters they already have.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not breaking up with House. I'm just not as invested as I'm used to being. So we'll see.
It has the standard reality show staples: unrealistically catty people shoved into a house together, "challenges," eliminations, and incredible host vanity. And I must say, in that last category, ANTM excels. The force of Tyra Banks' ego could power a medium-sized city.
But what really sets ANTM apart is the ridiculousness. Let's start with the fact that it's about modeling. Modeling and reality are not, as you may be aware, close associates. But ANTM is even operating in the universe of the modeling industry. The winners of the show don't actually get to become top models . . . they're too old, they look weird, and if they had the ability to become models, they wouldn't have to go on the show.
My favorite part is the stupid photo shoots that they do. Tonight's theme? "Super-duper high fashion gargoyles." I invite you to read that phrase one more time.
Plus, they get coached by ludicrous people, like that time they got taught how to twirl by professional twirlers--not baton-twirling, mind you. Twirling around. Like, spinning. Professional twirlers. And tonight, they were told how to pose while jumping on trampolines by, as his caption told us, "Benny Ninja: posing instructor."
My gentleman caller is earning all kinds of points watching this show.
Hilarious, engaging, interesting . . . I don't know what else to say.
I mean, it's just so good.
I don't care, I'm just going to say it. This show is funny. It's stupid, but on purpose, which is always key. The characters are caricatures, but well-drawn ones. My favorite one is Dull White Guy's son, who is basically an extroverted Napoleon Dynamite. He makes me laugh.
On a final tv-related note, Dean Cain apparently is guest starring on Smallville this week. How did that take so long?
Hey, here's an idea--once you get off the bike, roll it back down.
* * * * * * * *
Dear people who just spit on the ground, as if that's acceptable,
Are you kidding with this? STOP IT.
* * * * * * * *
Dear that albino lady who rides my bus,
Your hair is so great. I mean, it's not like hair that's white because of age, not a snow white; it's like vanilla ice cream. It's so pretty. I mean, my condolences on being an albino, I suppose, but my point is, there's an upside.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Otherwise, my most significant form of cheating came through my Google News page. The justification: it's news! It's good for me! Of course, since I have some personalized categories, one of which is Texas A&M, that was the principal way I was able to keep up with the continually unfurling FRANDAL!. But I'll come back to that later.
A similar justification was used for my keeping up with blonde Republican banter and a random musing. Keeping up with my friends; why, that's just a courtesy. I even made the concession of not leaving comments on said blogs--that's good, right?
I also glanced at a few very small things on Television Without Pity. . . . I'm not going to pretend I have any excuse for that.
But the point is, I cut down on my internet consumption by a huge fraction. Here's some of what I missed (most of which I haven't caught up with yet, because I'm trying not to internet-binge):
6 cartoons on xkcd, including this hilarious one:
9 news stories on Mugglenet
10 posts at Blonde Champagne
11 birthdays on Facebook (which reminds me . . . Happy [belated] Birthday, Craig!)
41 answers & rambles at my Gargoyles website, Ask Greg (an unusally high number for a two-week span--Greg's been hard at work, apparently)
and angry posts without number on TexAgs
Ah . . . the internet.
Monday, October 15, 2007
25 June 1530
I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Casual Friday sure was a hoot, wasn't it? However, some of us took things a bit too far (I won't name names, but someone whose name rhymes with Bardinal Folsey should have kept his tights on under his pantaloons), so Casual Friday is being discontinued in perpetuity.
But on to business.
I know that this whole "divorce" thing has been keeping us very busy for quite a while. Would I have liked to have it all settled by now? Sure. Am I pointing fingers at people who haven't been working hard enough on this? Absolutely not. (Although someone whose name rhymes with Tardinal Molsey was apparently exaggerating how tight he was with the Pope. Not that it matters; really, it's all water under the bridge.)
Fortunately, I've found a solution. Of course, I don't mean to brag, but this idea I've come up with is quite a doozy. (It's amazing what my mind can do when I just sit and really think about things, isn't? First my Assertio, and now this. If you don't mind me saying so, wow. Just wow.)
Are you ready?
Wait for it . . .
It's great! Everybody wins! Catherine, who's been a valuable member of the team for 20 years now (notwithstanding God's obvious judgement for our connubial crimes against Him), gets to keep her position. She'll even get to split the arduous duties of queenship--which she's been a real sport about--with a, if you will, "buddy." Mary gets to stay my #1 gal. And, best of all, we can bring in a new, dynamic, fresh face who will, by the grace of God Almighty, bear me male issue.
I am--as always!--eager to hear your feedback. Don't worry, I've already been sending out feelers in various directions on the Continent. We should focus all of our attention on this, because I think it's a real winner!
Go get 'em, tigers!
HENRICUS OCTUS REX ANGLIAE
PS: I'm sure this goes without saying, but let's just keep this between ourselves on the Council for now. It's early days yet, so let's keep it quiet.
cc: Anne Boleyn
Monday, October 1, 2007
I'll be back on roughly the 16th to tell you what I think about the new season of House, the rollercoaster that is college football, and any other topic of grave import that demands my attention.
Until then, here's a picture of Clancy covered in $2 bills.