Written in my freshman year English 103 (bored off my ass).
Coleridge symbolizes death,
Tennyson's too quaint.
We're made to read those old poets,
But REH they ain't.
Byron's love is his own words,
Browning's a crying shame.
Shelley's just embarrassing,
and Keats is more of the same.
When we get to Burroughs, then,
Kerouac, Ginsberg, and beat,
We lose the rhythm, lose the meter,
Lose the poetry's meat.
Tolkien turns a phrase just fine,
But isn't always flowing.
Yeats and Whitman flow quite well,
But their elitism is showing.
Bukowski's the height of tedium,
But Eliot knows what to do.
Much better than Perrault, I'd say,
And much less cutesy, too.
The poetry we read in class
To study form and rhyme,
Concern themselves with other things,
And lose the poem's time.
7 November 2001
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Written in my freshman year English 103 (bored off my ass).
Friday, May 27, 2005
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Is it me, or has there just been too much meandering with the Iraq War? I mean, we still can't get this mess under control--it's fucking Vietnam out there. So, since we seem to be dedicated to total conquest of the Middle East, here's a couple of suggestions.
First, let's stop this mamby-pamby pseudo-apologetic shit and just admit that this is a trade war. All of our wars are trade wars. Every single one. If you still believe that claptrap about fighting the Civil War to free the slaves, I pity you. The southern states were America's economic backbone; the north would have been crippled without them. Of course they had to be forced back into the Union. State's rights? Wait until George W. Bush marches on Congress with soldiers and puts the Supreme Court under permanent arrest and tell me the states in this country have rights.
And if you think World War II was about some Jews in Europe or a suspiciously expected attack on Pearl Harbor, I want to know how often you think you've been abducted by aliens or if, when you talk to your cat, he really understands what you're saying. Even in the grip of the Depression, America wasn't about to let Germany become the world's major economic power. And they sure as hell weren't going to let Japan kick them out of their conquered territory, Hawaii, or close off the Pacific markets America had spent so many years forcing themselves into. We had just finally subdued Latin America and forced them to accept our goods.
So, let's stop pretending that this war has anything to do with honor, because it doesn't. We didn't even need to invade Iraq in the first place--we already had them half-starved from our barely legal decade-long embargo, anyway. This is a revenge war; Bush knows that America can barely tell one Arab PERSON from another, much less one Arab country from another. Bush saw 9-11, saw his opportunity, and rather than admit that 200 members of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, had simply walked into Pakistan because our counterattack came far too late, and rather than anger his Saudi masters with an attack on their country, Bush decided to go for Iraq. First, he could get his revenge on Saddam for the Gulf War (which also had little to do with America initially) and secure an oil source for America (which, of course, should make gas prices go down, right? Right?). This is trade, pure and simple, but the administration keeps camoflauging it by pretending they're tip-toeing around the religious issue. Like they even care.
Second, now, let's stop it with the prisoners of war. I don't care how badly they're treated, frankly--they're prisoners of war. They lost, they don't get to set their own menus and have any dignity. I know that Bush likes to pretend that this war is not against Muslims, or against Iraq, or against Arabs: it's against the Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda. Except that al-Qaeda's connection to Iraq is tenuous at best. Bullshit, Bush doesn't care about Iraqi insurgents--let's just call them what they are, resistance fighters--anymore than he cares about the average American. If he did care, we wouldn't have invaded in the first place. We'd be in Saudi Arabia. So let's stop pretending that we have any dignity in our involvement and just end this thing. We need information, and we need it any way we can.
Third, let's use something we have in abundance: prisoners. Go into every American prison, find the biggest, roughest, most angry men you can find, and tell them that they can reduce their terms if they join the army. But not just any army: a special unit of rangers who will be deployed to find and murder every rebel they can. For every scalp they bring back, they get six months off their sentance. Make it attractive: it's like living in a video game. You're not the First American Reconnaisance Ranger Squad--you're Kill Squad 2005! People will be lining up. They'll probably all be killed off anyway, so you probably won't even have to keep the deal. What else do they have to do? Make it voluntary and mysterious.
Please understand me here: I am against this war. I have been since before we started it. But I'm annoyed by the way Bush and his criminal gang have completely mishandled it. They bow to the most superficial of public opinion, but ignore our feelings on the major issues--like the war. There was no honor going in, so we might as well end it before we see footage of an Iraqi version of the My Lai Massacre on television.
Keep a close eye on the Senate vote on funding stem cell research. Because if we lose that one, you have an idea of how the next decade is going to go in this country. If Bush gets his way and decides that people suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's really don't deserve every chance they can get to recover, then we won't be able to see the light shining in through the cover of the coffin of democracy anymore.
Why is there even argument or debate on this one? If stem cell research could lead to cures for diseases (and the evidence on this is good enough to pursue it to its end result), why wouldn't we fund it? As usual, the Republican argument is completely outside of reality. They seem to have some half-realized notion that the abortion rate will go up somehow, or people will be forced to have abortions in order to have a constant flow of stem cells for research. This is probably the most idiotic thing I've ever heard--well, ever since the Republicans decided that accepting homosexual marriage will lead to marriage between people and goats. You know, this country already has too many instances of strange shit to argue that some kind of floodgate is going to open and let the freaks out. Remember that woman that married her house? And there are people who leave their estates to their cats. America already has problems that a bunch of gay marriages aren't going to exacerbate.
Tom DeLay said in Congress: ''If we afford the little embryo any shred of respect and dignity we cannot in good faith use taxpayer dollars to destroy them.'' His attempt to humanize the fetus is particularly offensive to me. It's nothing but a philosophical debate trying to decide where life begins, and the law has so far declined to create a guideline for this. An embryo is not a person with "respect and dignity," I'm sorry. If it can't survive independent of the body, it's a parasite until the third trimester. And where are all these abortions coming from, exactly? Does DeLay have any idea how many miscarriages there are in a day? Some of this is coming from umbilical cords and things of that nature. No one is going to have an abortion in the name of science. They just don't want to make abortions acceptable.
Bush is, of course, threatening a veto. Never have I seen a president so hell-bent on running the country according to his own personal beliefs--seriously, I never thought I'd live to see it, but this guy's worse than Satan, er, Reagan. What we have here is a president who:
a. Took the greatest period of American prosperity and ran up the biggest deficit in history.
b. Cares so little about the personal happiness of his voters that he denies a segment of the populace the dignity of marriage.
c. Cares so little about protecting the population from terrorists that he dropped the ball on all of Clinton's successful anti-terror programs and then, after the most violent attack on America by a foreign power since the War of 1812 occured, chose to attack a country that was not the country the terrorists came from (it was Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan, and not Iraq).
d. In fact runs the country through terror, fear, and intimidation.
e. Is Saudi Arabia's bitch the same way Tony Blair is his bitch.
f. Cares so little about the environment that he led us out of the Kyoto Protocols and opened the Alaska Pipeline, ensuring that Global Warming is, in fact, not a theory, but a reality.
g. Is some sort of functioning illiterate.
h. Has alienated nearly every one of our allies, and only kept England and Australia through threats.
i. Obviously doesn't care if a bunch of diseased people die.
j. Has created so much new litigation and driven the prison population so high that, soon enough, it will be a crime to even be black in America.
k. Seems hell-bent on conquering the Middle East and reclaiming the Holy Land, or something.
l. Wants to bring back the Star Wars Defense System so that he can rule the world from outer space (even though, in taxes, we've already paid for it twice over and it seems not to have appeared).
m. Actually wants to develop alternative energy...in order to run oil drills!
n. Gives money to churches because, you know, why should Church and State be separated?
o. Refuses to tax the churches he gives the money to!
p. Was almost killed by a pretzel.
Yeah, America, you sure made the right choice last fall, didn't you? And make no mistakes, I blame you. If you voted for him, I blame you. If you didn't vote at all, I blame you. This is really the man you want representing your country? Fine. But don't expect to travel and be treated well by the locals. Because Bush is out there, ruining your reputation. And maybe he's not that far off. I mean, we can't even decide if the death penalty is "humane" enough...
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
The usually-interesting Jim Hill had some choice words this morning about The Muppets' Wizard of Oz over at Jim Hill Media.
What a lame bitchfest this artice is. Jim is obviously stuck in a time capsule where Jim Henson is still alive and a new film from the Muppets must be incredibly easy to launch on a whim. Doesn't he understand how much was riding on this ABC film? The very future of the Muppets as a viable property, that's what. And yet, instead of focusing on the good points of the movie (and there were many of them), he allows his resentment grow and grow until he decides that this is the worst Muppet project to ever see the light of day. I don't know what movie he was watching, because this was the first Muppet project since 1992 to really capture the spirit of the Muppets for me again.
Jim laments that the movie came in third in its time slot. But what he doesn't point out is that Disney considers this a success--it came in third on the opening weekend of Star Wars, for chrissakes! No one should have been at home watching it, and yet it garnered the highest ratings that ABC has had in the Friday night 8pm Eastern time slot in TWO YEARS. And all Jim can do is moan that it wasn't a smash runaway hit. I'd say that with all the things The Muppets' Wizard of Oz is up against, the movie did incredibly well. And it deserved to.
This is so typical of fans these days (and make no mistake, for all of his pretension to a media site, he is just a fan running a blog, exactly like myself and with the same air of condescencion). Rather than praise what's new for what it is, all he can see is what The Muppets' Wizard of Oz wasn't. Rather than be hopeful for the future of the Muppets, he looks into the past and wonders why Jerry Juhl, Frank Oz, and Paul Williams can't be more involved. All he wants is the Muppets of 1979, and screw anyone who wants something new. Because it isn't the same as what he liked decades ago.
Well, time flows onward and things change. I wish Jim Henson was still alive, too. But he isn't. And we can play the game of what might have been all we want, but we have to accept what is. And The Muppets' Wizard of Oz was a good movie that, judging by the responses to this morning's article, a lot of people liked. And we didn't like it just because we're grateful to have a new Muppet movie. We liked it because it was a GOOD Muppet movie. Unlike Jim, we're fans.
Watching Jessica Simpson sing "These Boots Are Made for Walking" on her ABC special last night was one of the sexiest things I've ever seen. The great thing about Jess is that she manages to combine innocent with sexy, just like Catherine Bach did as Daisy Duke. What's interesting is that Jessica is hitting everything I love, both on the innocent side and on the sexual side. She did a commercial for nature's most perfect food, pizza, alongside my beloved Muppets. She's also playing Daisy Duke and singing the Nancy Sinatra song that made me think chicks in boots might be something to pay attention to. Wow, all she has to do now is appear with Mickey Mouse and play Supergirl, and she'll have hit my childhood innocence side completey. Then she has to do a cover of Samantha Fox's "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)," remake "Sheena," play Wonder Woman, and pose for "Playboy" in Princess Leia's metal bikini, and she'll have hit all of my early sexual touchstones. God damn it, I love Jessica Simpson!
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
THE STEEL HELMET (1951)
A hard-edged poem from Samuel Fuller, one of my favorite directors. He was a warrior poet, but his films were so low-budgeted that they weren't technically brilliant. It's the literal definition of pulp cinema, the equivalent of a beautiful paragraph written on the back of a cocktail napkin. This film, about a soldier in the Korean War, is so uncompromising in its vision of war that it hasn't lost any of its power in the last 54 years. Fuller had the courage to show soldiers as not idealistic liberators, but men--sometimes scared, sometimes angry, all just trying to survive the fighting. It's also a rather obvious influence on Spielberg and Lucas (the soldier even calls his Korean friend, a young boy, "Short Round"). A masterpiece worthy of **** stars.
THE PHANDOM MENACE (2000)
An interesting Australian documentary about Star Wars fans before (and immediately after) the release of Episode I. Unlike Trekkies, which was the filmic equivalent of those "look at the freaks" segments they always have on the news when a convention's in town, this documentary really took a look at just who these people are and WHY they have such devotion to a couple of movies. Some of these people have such a religious fervor it almost frightens me. The most interesting person in the film was Shane Morrissey, who started a large fan organization called Skywalking Inc. in 1988. He goes from a devoted fan who had dedicated his life to Star Wars to, after the release of Phantom Menace, says to the camera: "Fundamentally, the movie has no soul." He quit his fanclub and sold off pieces of his vast collection. Truly revelatory without being mean-spirited or too kind, earning it ***1/2 stars.
MR. ARKADIN (1955)
Turner Classic Movies is featuring Orson Welles as the Star of the Month, so I'm finally catching up on the ones I've never seen (which is almost inexcusable, since I've been a fan of his for the last 12 years and the guy is a hero of mine). This was much better than I'd heard, very compelling and hard to turn away from. Welles gives a great performance, and his direction is always interesting to watch. I tend to really enjoy his fast-paced editing. ***1/2 stars.
THE IMMORTAL STORY (1968)
The first film Welles directed in color. It suffers from poor pacing, but it makes some interesting points about the natures of story, truth and belief (something that, really, all of Welles's films are about, though this one had more religious allegory than the others). Plus it has Jeanne Moreau. Certainly, it's not the least of the films he directed (but then, all of his films are great), so I'll give this one *** stars.
HONEYSUCKLE ROSE (1980)
Willie Nelson stars as a country singer, but the story isn't very interesting. The best parts of this movie were the long concert scenes of Willie singing, and that's worth the time on it's own. I love Willie Nelson, and I'll listen to the man sing anything. *** stars.
ALIEN PLANET (2005)
This special aired on Discovery Channel. Based on the excellent book Expedition by Wayne Douglas Barlowe, this tells the story of probes on an alien planet in the future. They played it as though it were theoretical, but it's really science fiction. Impressively, they got several prominent scientists to comment during the program, including Jack Horner and Stephen Hawking. The special effects were good, and it really got across the thrill of exploration. If the Discovery Channel wants to keep dramatizing theory, I'm glad it's this entertaining. The best science fiction of the year so far. **** stars.
THE MUPPETS' WIZARD OF OZ (2005)
I loved it; even though I loved It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and Muppets from Space, and all the rest, this was the first movie since The Muppets Christmas Carol to really capture the pure, humorous joy of the Muppets for me. And it's based on one of my favorite stories of all time, so that helped. Ashanti did well with the Muppets (even though I still longed for Hialry Duff to be in the movie), and I always love to see Jeffrey Tambor. Good, fun stuff. Disney: make more. ***1/2 stars.
WARM SPRINGS (2005)
An HBO original movie about Franklin D. Roosevelt's battle with polio. It was engrossing, though not perfect. Great performances from Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon. *** stars.
F FOR FAKE (1973)
Orson Welles's best film. In examining the art forger Elmyr, he spoke with Clifford Irving, who faked the Howard Hughes biography. This leads to a further examination of forgery, and Welles ruminates (in a highly entertaining, fast-moving fashion) on the nature of truth in art, performance, story, and even in public life. For Elmyr leads to Irving, but Irving leads to Hughes himself, which leads Welles to remember that he once wanted to make a film about Hughes, and this leads to a whole discussion of fakery on film, with Welles exposing himself as a fraud, too, and enjoying every minute of it. Eventually, not only film and art themselves, but all of life, is revealed to be a fake. Fascinating and extremely artful. **** stars.
REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
Well, I enjoyed a hell of a lot more than the last two. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen finally came across as though they enjoyed their roles. The special effects were much better. Yoda was likeable for the first time since 1983. It was fun, and the last hour or so came close to the magic of the original trilogy. ***1/2 stars.
NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984)
With this, I've finally seen all of Miyazaki's films (except for Howl's Moving Castle, coming out in June). It was a nice movie, reminiscent of a lot of other movies from the 80s. It had pacing problems, I think, and basically the same plot was used to better effect in his own Princess Mononoke, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Masterful, as all of his films. ***1/2 stars.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Suggested by Carl; apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiasts.
As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list–I’ve got a little list,
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed–who never would be missed!
There’s the thuggish Star Wars fanboys who will never take a bath,
Professors who assume you’re simply dying to take math,
Yuppies who look down on you and don’t know how to drive,
Rednecks with such loud music (tell me, why are they alive?),
And all those persons who on talking in the movies so insist,
They’d none of ‘em be missed–they’d none of ‘em be missed!
There’s the rich celebutante, who does nothing for no one,
I really must insist we put her on the list!
And certain state tax makers who get paid while nothing’s done,
They never would be missed–they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
That every single animal has rights to call its own,
And the guy who sits behind you in your morning English class,
Then sneezes without covering, so his germs get on your ass,
And that singular anomaly, the romance novelist,
I don’t think she’d be missed–I’m sure she’d not be missed!
And that goddamn crazy nut who causes so much strife,
The God fundamentalist–I’ve got him on the list!
All those guys who quote the Python lines and never get them right,
They’d none of ‘em be missed–They’d none of ‘em be missed!
The karaoke contestants who stink up my TV,
Programming executives who tell me what to see,
The Democratic Party and the wimps who run the show,
Republicans in general have simply got to go,
But it doesn’t really matter whom you put upon the list,
For they’d none of ‘em be missed–George Bush would not be missed!