Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Becoming the Perfect Son-In-Law III: Blood and Circus

Now you've all become used to two things with this blog: 1. me never posting in anything resembling a timely manner, and 2. my inexcusable kissing up to my in-laws. Now I know there's no real reason for me to kiss up to my in-laws. They're not a whole lot different from my family, well except for the fact they're completely different from mine. Still I think the main reason I kiss up is so that they don't exclude me when they go to cool sporting events. Oh and so I stay ahead of Jason on the "Best Son In-Law" list. See if cheating by getting your wife pregnant will count for anything now pal!

So as I mentioned before my father-in-law came up to visit to help us blow in attic insulation. During his visit he mentioned an upcoming boxing match down at George Mason University for which he had tickets. Those of you who've known me a long time know how I have always tried to carry myself with a demeanor befitting one of the New England aristocracy. Now the fact that persona is a complete lie does not take away from the fact that I disdain the more gladatorial contests like wrestling and boxing.

In fact you should know that the tradition of gladiators stems from the Roman emperor Gladatorius Ignoramous. It was he who realized that hitting people over the head with sticks wasn't as much fun as watching others do it to each other. In fact that's where the laurel wreaths of the Roman empire came from, the branches with which they walloped each other, but I digress.

In any case, I of course would not deign to enjoy such a base display of testosterone. Well so I thought until I found out that the seats were ring side. Now we all have a little Roman emperor inside us. When I realized I would be close enough to have the broken teeth hit me in the face, I could not turn down the offer. I mean short of being a doctor how often do you get to be bathed in another man's blood?

Did I enjoy it? Did I find the pugalistic arts more impressive than I assumed they'd be? Did I spend the whole night trying to figure out if all of my boxing knowledge was based on Rocky? And did I keep flashing back to Rocky IV and his inability to throw in his towel to save Apollo Creed? YES, YES, YES, and Hell YES! (WHY ROCKY? WHY?)

In all honesty it was the single most entertaining sporting event I've ever been to. The speed coupled with the brutality those guys displayed was amazing. I understand now why the Roman's fed the Christians to the lions...because the non-lion food people all cheered! Here's too Jimmy Lange the new WBC Super Welterweight (whatever that is) Champion. Well done my man!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Right to rule vs. Responsibilty to rule

Cami, pointed out that I haven't as yet delved into the political with this blog. There are a few reasons for this as wife could undoubtedly explain to you. First is that I value my eternal soul and the profanity that politics usually elicits is probably too much for heaven to bare. Though given the buffoons running this country I'm sure Paul is up there cursing at them (if only we could have some locusts).

Second is that I'm not willing to put in the time to research the candidates and settle on one at this point. Why? Well it's June 17th and the U.S. presidential election is not until November 4. No not 11/04/07 but 11/04/08. Yes the election is one bagillion days away and yet for some reason we're already being inundated with political adds, debates, and financing requests. Why? Because of these three men:

Because America is driven by the all powerful dollar, Turner, Murdock, and the great Satan have been able to manipulate the American political process into a type of hyper extended beauty pagent with everything but the swimsuit competition. (The very idea of seeing Hillary in a bikini or Rudy Guiliani in a spedo makes me break into cold sweats)

Still, I must admit that I have given some thought to the election and the current candidates. Here's my quick synopsis of the top six candidates as determined in current polling, followed by the political philosophy that drives my choosing of candidates:

Hillary "The Chameleon" Clinton(D-NY)Not a chance in hell. Too many people hate her. She's spending too much money too early.
Mitt "The Used Carsalesman" Romney (R-Mass.)First off he's a Mormon, yes that's my faith too, but 90% of evangelicals will oppose him just because of that. Second he's had more positions on social issues than Bill Clinton's had liasons.
Barack "International Man of Mystery" Obama (D-Illinois)I kind of like Barack. Yes he has some shady business dealings, but he's engaging, good looking, and charasmatic. Sadly people will use his inexperience (which Romney shares but you don't hear the same criticisms of him) and race against him in a general election. Racism isn't as dead in America as we'd like it to be.
Rudy "911" Giuliani (R-NY)Rudy's whole platform is 911. Which is sad because he was an effective administrator in NYC. His liberal social mores, closeness with Bushian foreign policy, and frequent cross-dressing will cause him problems in the long run.
John "$400 coiffure" Edwards(D-One of the Carolinas)John Edwards has been running for 2008 since he was the VP candidate in 2004. He's a flamboyant populist, who's richer than sin because of his time as a tort lawyer. Makes for an interesting populist. Sadly for him, Obama is taking a lot of the swooning middle age woman vote that would make up his normal support base.
John "Iraq's as safe as your neighborhood" McCain(R-Arizona)John McCain is a sad case. Here's a man who in a functional political system would have won the presidency in 2000. Who's now had to eat crow and suck up to people he called servants of the devil like Falwell, and support a presidency he loathed[s]. As a result he's invested all his political resources in supporting Iraq, meaning that he's already lost the nomination. Too bad, because I like how he pisses people off.

It's way to early to predict anything though. In fact, looking at the polls it could end up being Nader vs. Gore vs. Gingerich vs. Bloomberg in the presidential Election. Quite frankly I think that would be entertaining to say the least. This time I might not even waste my vote on Nader and actually vote for Gore. I just liked him so much in that film of his, what was it called again "The Day After Tomorrow"?

Now on to political philosophy. I lean left. You all knew that though if you're regular readers. Still, I do not do so with blind political devotion. I firmly believe that one of the great problems in American politics is that people believe that they have a right to rule. This gives mega-millionaires like Romney and Bloomberg, aristocrats and oligarchs like the Bushies and Kennedys the idea that they are entitled to office. This sense of entitlement is one of the main reasons I dislike Hillary so much and why I disliked Bush, Kerry, and Gore before her. Each time I listen to them I feel as if my presence as a voter is an inconvenience to them. To them it's a foregone conclusion that they deserve the White House, why don't I just vote for them already.

This attitude flies in the face of what I think should motivate politicians, a feeling of responsibility to rule. A politician who believes he's been given a sacred trust to not just preserve but better the lot of all his citizens is the type of politician I am looking for, and the type I will vote for regardless of party. That's the politician I thought McCain could be in 2000, and that Nader was for me, after McCain lost the primary. In this election I don't see anyone that fits that bill on the Republican side, though I'm optimistic that both Richardson and Obama fit it on the democratic side. The hard part is that this sort of Utopianism is doomed to disappointment, which means I'll probably waste my vote on a third party candidate yet again. (Is that the second time I've written that tirade on this blog? I lose track so often)

Back to my musical recommendations, I've missed them even if you haven't. What better way to bring them back than to link a bizarre video by one of my favorite French bands, Louise Attaque. I'll never look at wine bottles the same after this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Book Reviews and Political Orientation

Husband here. I apologize for the delay in posting anything over the past couple of weeks. The sad part is that I really do have a lot to say. I have to complete my series on sucking up to in-laws, I have a request from one of our regular readers to give my assessment of the current field of American presidential candidates, I have a report to make on our latest vacation, and much, much more. With all that to write I'm so overwhelmed that I feel I'll forget the proper usage of commas, but as I never really knew how to use them I suppose you wouldn't even notice.

Which reminds me of a minor complaint I have with the teaching of English in the American education system. While I greatly enjoyed the teaching of literature in all its manifestation, I don't think enough time was spent teaching me proper mechanics. To this day I have no idea what a gerund is, or when to use a semicolon* versus a colon. In the end, I learned more of English syntax and grammar by learning French than I ever did with my English teachers in school.

That said let's get on to the book review. I've been power reading over the past few weeks and have finished three novels in under a month. Now I use the term "novel" very losely. One of Wife's co-workers, with whom I have a nerdy affinity, loaned me a five book sci-fi series, by Troy Denning. Concurrently my father-in-law loaned me Matthew Pearl's historical fiction novel, The Dante Club.

Now obviously comparing sci-fi and historical fiction is like comparing hot red chilies and flan. From a reading perspective it's almost jarring to read the two genres in such a short period. The sci-fi series (known as the Prism Pentad if you want to rediscover your inner nerd), was a poorly written series designed mostly to create a new fantasy world concept for TSR's Dungeon and Dragons game series. As a result it did little except create new monsters/races for play. The best that can be said for it is that while the writing was substandard the world environment was relatively unique in concept. Also it was one of the least derivative series I've read in that genre. Still I wouldn't recommend it unless you're feeling really nerdy.

As to the Dante Club, I have very mixed feelings. First and foremost I have to say I dislike the whole idea of historical fiction. Yes I know it's not very post-modern of me, but the idea of taking historical figures outside of their documented experience to a fictional setting really discomforts me.

In the novel Pearl has the great poets of 19th century New England move around post-bellum America to solve a series of murders taken right out of the punishments from Dante's Inferno. If the authorities in the novel figure out that the murderer is copying the heretofore untranslated Inferno, they will realize that the poets working on this translation should be investigated immediately. To forestall this the poets undertake an investigation to preserve their good names. Ultimately the interest of the protagonists is driven not by any desire to do good, but a cynical desire for self preservation. Now I know that this is probably fairly realistic of human nature, but the implications still bother me. More troubling still is the fact that the author does an excellent job making the antagonist a sympathetic character. Indeed given the current struggles of US veterans coming home from war, the antagonist becomes the most sympathetic character in the piece.

I guess for most people that type of equation actually makes for a compelling story. Still I'm too much of a romantic to have fully appreciated the nuances of the characters. Oh and I must mention that the first two hundred pages or so are jarringly non-linear. At times I thought the author was just trying to be too clever for his own good.

Now for our special feature:

The latest political quiz/test as posted by our friend Cameron. My results are shown at the bottom. I suppose you're all surprised I didn't test as far left as most of you thought. On the other hand some of you would be surprised that Wife tested much, much, much more liberal than I. Have fun.

Your Political Profile:

Overall: 35% Conservative, 65% Liberal

Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

*Now I ask you who's right of these quotes?

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
(Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A country)

I have always had a great affection for the semicolon; it has a certain discreet charm. On the other hand, there is just one word to describe the colon: bossy. A colon says: “Pay attention, this next bit is really important.” If the colon is a fanfare, the semicolon is more like a polite cough.
(Oliver Pritchette in his review of Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss)