Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Carnal Sonnets III: To Adultery

Tell me that your legs are now closed to him.
That a ring and vows do not a husband make.
That your love mound he will nevermore taste.
That your swelling breasts his tongue will not rake.
That, triumph mine, defeat is now for him.
Your hot skin he shall never again touch.
That your body and soul are only mine.
Your cruel dishonor will for me do much.
Your sweet surrender, that you gladly whore,
Is love, till I don't need you anymore.

- Aaron R. Davis, 15 November 2005

The Carnal Sonnets II: To Masturbation

Trust not tradition's unkind, brutal ways,
That you may be brought to curb desire,
But with thy own hand take up Onan's ways,
And with thy member make to conspire.
For to ruminate on your fantasies,
The darkest thoughts on which your heart can sieze,
'Tis the greatest gift mother nature gives,
That thoughts evil and wrong may never live,
That sleep may soothe and never will affright
The little girls who grow plump in the night.

- Aaron R. Davis, 15 November 2005

The Carnal Sonnets I: To Libertinage

Go forth young girls, and your inner wildness unleash;
Your parents only seek to chain your true selves down,
To cage the liberty on which all souls must feed
In the name of the lie they name Civility.
Cast aside that which you were made to learn and breach
The prison of your unconscious desire unbound,
And ardently administer to thine own need;
Throw off false Fidelity and Propriety.
It must be clear the future lies,
Between the hotness of your thighs.

-Aaron R. Davis, 15 November 2005

Friday, November 25, 2005

An Historical Throwdown

Normally, the Throwdown would go here, but I'm a little bummed over Nick and Jessica, and since it's a holiday week there hasn't been that much going on that's very interesting. Instead of my 15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week, in honor of Thanksgiving I've got 15 random facts about America that I find interesting.

1. There was a Swedish colony in the New World: New Sweden, in the Delaware River Valley. The log cabin, which has become a sort of early American icon, was brought over by the Swedish settlers and used in New Sweden (as it was in old Sweden).

2. Whatever our current problems with them might be, Venezuela was the first foreign nation to receive aid from America. In 1812, we sent them $50,000 to help the victims of a severe earthquake. We used to be good that way.

3. Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States. They did so in 1789.

4. America acquired Alaska from Russia in 1867 at the cost of 2 cents an acre (586,400 sq. miles). Canada wanted to add the territory to Canada, but Russia considered them to be their greatest enemy and sold it to the States instead. France, by the way, sold the Louisiana Purchase to the US in 1803 (doubling the size of the US) because they didn't want the English to capture it. Interesting that Great Britain are our allies now; we fought them again in 1812, they sided with the Confederate South in the US Civil War, and when they surrendered in 1781, they surrendered to the French, not the Americans. Most Americans don't seem to remember anything about the French help during the Revolution, but are forever throwing our military aid during World War II in their faces.

5. Jews first came to America in 1654; at the time of the Revolution, 1500 Jews lived in America. None were allowed to vote or hold public office.

6. Pennsylvania was not named after the Quaker William Penn, but after his father, Admiral William Penn. Charles II owed him a debt, and Penn agreed to waive it in exchange for land on the Delaware River.

7. The flag referred to by Francis Scott Key in "The Star-Spangled Banner" was 30 by 42 feet, and cost $405.90. Major George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry, wanted a flag "so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance." The flag was also referred to as "Old Glory." This was during the War of 1812.

8. In the 1890s, one cowboy out of five was black. Most had learned to rope and ride while serving as slaves on Texas ranches.

9. Roughly half the populace of the US live in just eight of the union's fifty states: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, and Massachussetts.

10. For all the flack given to hunters every fall, the vast, vast majority of deers killed in a calendar year are accidentally hit by cars.

11. Kentucky and Virginia nearly seceded from the US in 1798 amid criticism of the government; New England almost seceded in 1812 because they opposed war with Great Britain; in 1832, South Carolina almost seceded over a tariff dispute (they opposed the re-election of Andrew Jackson, but rescinded their vote when the realized Jackson was prepared to fight a war).

12. Georgia, Massachussetts, and Connecticut voted against the ratification of the Constitution in 1791; the other eleven states voted for it. The other three states did not ratify until 1941.

13. The International Workers of the World (the Wobblies), the first American working-class protest movement, burned their draft cards during World War I. Generally they liked to have a sit-in and sing folk songs. They were intellectuals, Marxists, and poets, and brought us songs like "Casey Jones" and "Solidarity Forever."

14. In colonial days, packages would be shipped from one colony all the way back to London, where the mail was sorted and then sent back to the colonies to arrive at their intended destinations.

15. When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, it was not considered a federal felony to kill the President of the United States.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

This seems to be the film getting the most mixed reviews of the series. I admit, it does have some deficiencies. For example, the film starts off running and never stops, and consequently there's a feeling that sometimes the film is rushing by too quickly in order to cram in as much as they can in 157 minutes (you know, why not just make the Harry Potter movies three hours long? It's not like kids won't sit through them). There are a lot of things cut out from the book, but nothing that is missed or affects the clarity of the story (unlike the one glaring omission that bothers me in Prisoner of Azkaban). It also affects the performances of the actors playing the teachers, though they are (self) consciously all given at least one scene where they get something to do. I'm amazed by how great a cast the series has managed to garner; in four films, we've got Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Julie Christie, John Hurt, Gemma Jones, Miriam Margolyes, Ian Hart, Julie Walters, Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson and Kenneth Branagh (I'm sure I'm forgetting some others), all in major or minor supporting roles. That's no mean feat. It's also no mean feat that all of the films have managed to keep the same tone and feel through three different directors; a credit to screenwriter Steve Kloves, who won't be scripting the next movie (which is going to add even more characters). So, if the film moves by quickly, it at least manages to keep its energy consistent and it still feels like the same Hogwart's. The kids are all back (the actress playing Parvati Patil is especially cute), and their relationships still feel organic and natural. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and especially Emma Watson are improving with each movie. Neville Longbottom is much more of a presence this time, which I find nice (especially if, as people speculate, he's going to play an important role in book seven). The new actors are all good in their roles (the French actress playing Fleur de la Couer is quite cute in that mannish-French chick sort of way; she reminds me of Claire Danes, and I think we all know how I feel about her), but the best is the hammy, over-the-top performance of Brendan Gleeson as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody. The blustering, loud auror is exactly how I pictured him, and it's impossible for Gleeson to be boring (though it is nice to see him do over-the-top in a way that's appropriate to the movie, not like in Troy). The movie is darker than the others, it's true, but the groundwork for this has been laid in the first film, and Prisoner of Azkaban was certainly a dark film. There was one kid crying loudly during the memorial scene. What else can I say? The drama is better than ever, now that the kids are all fourteen and there is more tension between them; this is the turning point, after all, and it's no longer cute moppets in a whirlwind adventure. The stakes here are real; people die, as Hermione points out about the Triwizard Tournament. The kids feel more like young adults, and their conflicts have a sense of immediacy. It's not so forced anymore, as the actors develop. The special effects and makeup are leaps and bounds over how silly they were four years ago; when Lord Voldemort finally appears, he looks and moves like a snake, but sounds like the one thing that scares every American to the bowels: a genteel, cold Englishman. It's all just so damn riveting and good. Come on, did you really think I was going to give this one anything but **** stars, just like all the others? This is one of the great fantasy series of all time, and I'm glad I'm here to see it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Condolences to Merna

Merna lost her mother this weekend. I just wanted to say I was very sorry to hear about it, and I hope everything will eventually be alright. I don't know how it feels, I can't imagine it. But I'm sure it's awful. Say a few nice words, or at least think them today. Posted by Picasa