Halloween sucks

Posted by andrea - October 31st, 2006

I’m over it. I never want to see another candy bar again. (Okay, that’s just because I ate a bushel of them at work this week and as a consequence I’m back on Immodium and planning to drink decaf tomorrow. Stupid IBS.)

Ahem. Read Steve H. When I was a kid Halloween was a fun night where we ran around the neighborhood getting loaded up on candy and all the adults had set themselves up to entertain us — some just with the bowls of candy and “hey, nice costume,” others went all out, decorating their yard and house, dressing up like witches, etc. Some kids bought their costumes but we always felt sorry for them, as it was considered much more fun to make your own (or have your parents and grandmother who sewed all your clothes anyway help).

When I got older my goth friends and I would get all dressed up — which meant we’d just put on our usual goth outfits, because Every Day Is Halloween when you think you’re special and misunderstood by the mundanes. My costume was usually Death from the Sandman comics, which was easy as all I had to do was dye my hair black (check), wear something black (check), wear my silver ankh (check), and draw that little curlicue thing under one eye. My other friends were more into the vampire look but I didn’t care for that too much.

Now I’m over Halloween. The bus was two hours late today, the traffic is terrible, and I wouldn’t go to a Halloween-themed goth party at a club if you paid me. (Well, maybe if you paid me.) The young things are shouting outside my window — by which I mean the young twenty-somethings that are always having parties. I did see a few people in costumes here and there and the Halloween costume store that opens every year in my neighborhood at this time seemed to be doing a bang-up business but who knows where the people who bought the costumes went. They are not, thank God, knocking on my door.

Generalissimo Franco is still dead

Posted by andrea - October 30th, 2006

I couldn’t resist the title, considering the setting of fascist Franco-era Spain. Okay, all kidding aside, this movie does look intriguing, though I am wary of anything Roger Ebert raves with “a fairy tale for grownups!” That usually means it has sex ‘n’ violence, and that worries me since the main character is an underage girl and there is a faun involved. While we’re busy killing the beast of fascism/Nazism over and over again in the movies, couldn’t we also put a couple of bullets in the idea of Nubile Young Thing Discovers Her Own Potential For Being Sexy?

But I liked Hellboy, and that movie was unexpectedly old-fashioned (in a good way), so I might actually crank open the pockets and venture out of my cave and see this one in theaters. (Via Flea.)

Update: in other movie news, I have changed my mind about The Prestige (which I hadn’t been interested in, because magicians leave me rather cold) after seeing this photo of Christian Bale. What can I say, men in frock coats and cravats are hawt. I may just rent that one out when Netflix gets it, though.

Resisting the Love Police

Posted by andrea - October 30th, 2006

This is great:

Chinese appear not to have warmed to a “free hugs” campaign aimed at cheering up strangers by hugging them on the street, with some huggers even being hauled away by police for questioning, media said Monday.

The campaign hit the streets of Beijing, Changsha and Xian this weekend, with participants opening their arms to embrace passers-by and brandishing cards saying “free hugs,” “care from strangers,” “refuse to be apathetic,” the Beijing News said.

In the capital, police moved in and took away four huggers briefly for questioning, baffled by their wacky, Western activities on a busy city-center shopping street.

I can only echo marc’s sentiment: ” For all the things they get wrong, I have to give the ChiComs credit when they get something right.” This creepy “campaign” started in Australia, where it appears that, as in every other Western country these days, the ideal of the ruggedly self-reliant individual has long been thrown over for something much more malleable. Sometimes I think that a good dose of totalitarian dictatorship would be just the thing to kick us out of our continuing devolution into human jellyfish unable to resist our own desires. I have dark thoughts sometimes.

Americans and the Rest of the World

Posted by andrea - October 29th, 2006

I keep hearing about the supposed “arrogance” of my fellow citizens when it concerns the way we act in other countries, but I also keep coming across situations like this:

A large number of foreigners across the world are convinced they are
very knowledgeable about America. Every time I travel overseas, the
locals tell me all about America, despite the fact that they have never
lived there. And most of what they know about America varies from
shallow to misleading to downright wrong.

The converse is partially true - many Americans are quite ignorant
about the rest of the world but are not afraid to admit that they are
ignorant and ask elementary questions. This, unfortunately, is
interpreted to reveal the stupidity and ignorance of Americans, instead
of the honesty that it actually is.

So who’s being arrogant here?

Run to the hills

Posted by andrea - October 29th, 2006

Hey, people out there: does anyone know if companies in Alaska are hiring? I mean for office jobs — I can do just about anything office-related. I can deal with the weather — I figure that my lifestyle will be about the same as it is now, except instead of hiding indoors from the blazing heat most of the year I’ll be hiding from the freezing cold.

I just want to move very far away from Florida.

Update: okay, I was half-jesting, but really, Alaska does seem to have more points in its favor than I realized:

  1. In Juneau, at least, the winters are quite mild, and the rest of the time there is plenty of my favorite overcast skies, rain, and fog. Almost constant sunlight is just as wearying as darkness and cold.
  2. There are no roads in or out of Juneau — you have to take ferries. This is extremely attractive to someone as misanthropic as myself. (On the other hand, you are stuck in an isolated community with all those other people, but at least it’s a largish city, so “disappearing in a crowd” is possible.)
  3. The state of Alaska pays people to live there. Florida barely pays people a living wage. Really, what am I doing here again?

Second update: however, Utah is a no:

Everything in Utah caters to children, and there are changing tables in the bathrooms at the movies, the grocery story, and THE POST OFFICE. Gotta change that poopy diaper when you’re buying stamps!

Not a kid person, me. Especially, not a poopy-diaper-changing-in-public-observing person.

Update the third: the search continues. I thought of Pitcairn Island, but alas, it still has people on it, and they all belong to the same church, which implies an uncomfortable level of social interaction.

Last update since I can’t go anywhere now and NOW is when I need to go: I really need to get a phone I whose ringer I can shut off. I paid sixty bucks for the old-styple wall phone at Pottery Barn but you can’t shut the ringer off. (It’s an old fashioned phone, see? But it has push buttons. What. Ev. Er.)

Brief Unencounter

Posted by andrea - October 29th, 2006

Glenn Reynolds links to this article (actually the second page of the article, here’s the first) with “thoughts on preventing sexually transmitted disease, from Regina Lynn.” Well, I read through the thing and I didn’t see one word about any prevention; instead, most of the article was focused on how annoyed Ms. Lynn is that the general populace doesn’t seem willing to put STDs in the same category as the common cold — or as she puts it:

But had I picked up a bug identified as a sexually transmitted infection, suddenly, I’d have run smack into a cultural wall of shame and secrecy.

What I’d like to know is where is this quaint locale and when can I move there? Seriously, since when have we dared to treat STDs and the people who have them with “shame and secrecy”? I’m not even sure we’re allowed to giggle slightly in embarrassment as we pour out our sexual histories to all and sundry. And God forbid we not tell anyone we aren’t sleeping with about our latest bouts with gonorrhea; what used to be called privacy and a regard for the sensibilities of others is now called “shame” and has been proscribed as a danger to self-esteem. And God forbid we not sleep with anyone — chastity is fast on its way to becoming a capital crime. Not even STDs are an excuse anymore — now it’s all about “tests” and getting treated and making sure you always carry a fresh condom so you can fulfill your public duty to have sex at least once a week.

Think I exaggerate? Well, I’m not the one who, because she is “tired” of imagining that other people are thinking that people with herpes are sluts, we should categorize diseases like AIDs, which are passed through intimate physical contact with someone who has it and thus is difficult to catch, and is also deadly to boot, with the common cold, which you can catch without coming into bodily contact with anyone and is easy to catch and is not deadly. Unless you have AIDs.

In other words, her big problem is the problem that trendy moderns with their carefree “fun” lifestyles have always had, which is: why does life throw so many big bummers in the way of their parade? Also, like most people who are caught up in the drama of their own lives she can’t stand the fact that people will think whatever thoughts they want. Since the thought police haven’t perfected their Happy Accepto Mind Control Rays yet, here’s mine: the only sure-fire way to prevent STDs is by keeping your panties on and your tongue inside your own mouth. Now where’s my grant money?

The internet is a gift that keeps on giving

Posted by andrea - October 28th, 2006

Today must be Bad Writer Excerpt Day — though the scribes whose art is displayed here are so “differently talented” that they almost make me want to run out and buy the Cormac McCarthy novel I mocked. One bonus detail: all of these “authors” are also politicians. The article is a match-the-author-with-the-crap game. The only one that doesn’t belong is Winston Churchill’s passage, which is a normal, if somewhat stiff and dull, scene with no sex and no overwrought, heavy-breathing prose. Perhaps it was placed in the list as a sort of control sample. I recognized the first example as being by Newt Gingrich, because my brain was permanently scarred by reading this same passage in a column in some long-forgotten publication, but I have either never heard of or mercifully had forgotten the other chestnuts. My favorite example? Number three, which contains the matchless phrase “her breast flailing wildly in the air.” Running a close second is number seven: “He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger…” This may be the political connection, if we go by the old schoolyard chant: “hefty lefty, lighty righty!”

(Via Ace of Spades.)

Art for God’s sake?

Posted by andrea - October 28th, 2006

The problem with Thomas Kincaid goes deeper than an attraction to the money to be gotten by painting popular schlock:

Kinkade justifies the absence of people in his picturesque scenarios
because he doesn’t want to exclude any viewers from being able to step
into the fantasy. “When you paint people, you limit people,” Kinkade explains,
offering the example of a hypothetical Vietnamese-American family. “Why
would they want to look at a picture of a dozen white people sitting
around a Thanksgiving table?”

As I said in the comments, that is just bizarre. The idea that people only want to be surrounded by people that look like themselves and things that only reference their own cultural fantasies is yet another unintended consequence, and one of the more hilarious ones, of enforced pseudo-multiculturalism, as well as the general disinterest in actual knowledge of anything outside their narrow fields of “expertise” displayed by our so-called cultural elite. Fortunately, it’s not true, as any visit to an art festival will prove. But that doesn’t keep people like Kincaid from thoughtlessly emitting nonsense like this.

All the crozzled corpses

Posted by andrea - October 27th, 2006

Cormac McCarthy is at it again. This time he’s discovered the never-before-approached (except by thousand of other authors) subject of the end of the world! No really, he’s totally broken new ground here:

McCarthy has said that death is the major issue in the world and that writers who don’t address it are not serious.

That doesn’t mean those who do are any good. Here’s a sample of the Drone of the Dead from The Road:

The incinerate corpses shrunk to the size of a child and propped on the bare springs of the seats. Ten thousand dreams ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts.

“Incinerate”? WTF couldn’t he have simply said “incinerated“? That showy, left-off “d” is just the sort of pretentious, twittery mucking about with the English language that B.R. Myers has already countered in A Reader’s Manifesto. Read that instead of going on a dreary Road-trip.

(Via Open Book. Actually, this book is one I won’t be opening, thanks.)

Sacrificial rites

Posted by andrea - October 27th, 2006

I was going to post this in Charles’ comments, but I decided to share it with all of you here instead. I haven’t been following any of the campaigns for anything lately, because I’ve just been too sick, busy, or frankly disinterested in politics. So I certainly can’t muster up much concern about the latest mudball fight between two candidates from our look-alike political parties. Apparently a stupid charge of “racism” flung at the pol on one side led to faux-outraged fingerpointing at the pol on the other side for certain passages in some novels said other-side pol wrote. The passages, as quoted, certainly seem gross and disgusting, but they were (and I know this is an overused phrase) taken out of context. The novels, which I have no plan of reading, seem to be about troubled characters who have bad things happen to them, see bad things, and do bad things. So one would suppose that these things must be described, though of course one can quibble about just how much detail should be gone into. As for whether the author “condones,” in the favorite word used by our bright yet stupid, literary yet illiterate overclass, the sort of things his characters do can’t be proved simply by quoting the passages, especially not in these days of overbearingly naturalistic “tell it like it is” fiction. Naturally, they are being used as evidence of just that: proof that this person, James Webb, is some sort of sicko who perhaps gets off on writing about disgusting things and therefore should not be trusted in a position of leadership of This Great and Pure Nation of Ours. Unlike, say, Bill Clinton, who merely did things with girls and cigars right there next to the Oval Office in real life.

The thing that amuses me, and never ceases to amuse me, is the surprise of so many that this has become an issue. The fact that we will never be able to have the clean, polite, civilized political contests of our dreams has been blanketed in a thick layer of patented triple-strength American denial for decades. The truth is the freakiness that overcomes Americans at the very idea their political figures have feet of clay is as predictable as the sunrise. Whenever election time comes around, it is heralded, as a hurricane is presaged by wind and clouds, by a raft of commentators in full oh-dear mode hoping that this election won’t be as “nasty” and “mud-slinging” as the previous one. And after that, the deluge. And then once the dust has cleared and one of the clones who were running has managed to climb onto whatever perch it was striving for, we have to put up with the shell-shocked survivors moaning about the “viciousness” and “mean-spirited rhetoric” and declaring that one more round of this awful stuff will be the end of the nation.

I know I’ve extolled the virtues of hypocrisy before, but I believe in the conscious hypocrisy that causes a person to tell a relative they are fond of that they look nice in a dress that happens to make them look awful, and in general is geared to fostering seemly behavior in public. The sort of hypocrisy that is no use to anyone is the unthinking, automatic kind that results in the average person in the street having no problem buttonholing strangers and giving them details on their sex lives, the medications they’re on, how many nervous breakdowns they’ve had — but being unable to stand the idea of an American running for office who can’t prove himself to have a background and lifestyle of pristine purity that isn’t demanded of kindergarten teachers. If a candidate admits he went to a psychatrist once, thirty years ago, when it was in fashion and everyone and their dog was lying on a leather couch telling some bearded fraud about their dreams, there would go that candidate’s campaign right down the tubes, because people would be afraid to vote for someone who “might go crazy” in office. A divorced politician doesn’t have the difficulty he once had, but he still might as well wear a big red “D” on his chest forever. Americans hate and fear the idea of a “theocracy” but want their leaders to go to church.

And so on and so forth. A long time ago we apparently decided to treat people seeking a position in government, even that of school board chair-warmer, the way primitive tribes used to treat their leaders: as objects of superstitious veneration who got to end their terms of office stretched out on an altar, their eviscerated bowels and dying writhes being interpreted for their omens of the future by druid priests. The outcome of their divinations? “More of the same.”

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