Monday, August 31, 2009

Neil, stop looking at me like that.

Hilariously sultry Neil Gaiman talks about vampires at Entertainment Weekly.

Says Neil, "Come lie down on this velvet settee. Nothing weird here. RAWR, baby."

Where did they get this pic? Is Neil doing tasteful boudoir photos now?

Not that I'm complaining.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Unpopular Opinions.

1. The return of the North Korean prisoners.

I've been wondering if having Bill Clinton retrieve the prisoners was the right thing to do because the journalists have more or less admitted that they knowingly approached/crossed the NK border. Hey, guess what, screwing around with border crossing, particularly in this case, is pretty obviously dangerous. Furthermore having Clinton show up to speak with Kim Jong Il only gives him and the people starving to death in NK the belief that they run diplomatic relations and moreover, that kidnapping our citizens is an ok way to open up said relations.

I wonder if we would have bothered sending Clinton if they weren't pretty women and the sister of a popular journalist (I also wonder if these journalists correctly assumed that if they got caught, they'd get away with it because they are well connected women). If they were middle aged white guys they'd probably be breaking rocks right now and I might not even know they were there.

Saying that we should have left these journalists there is a very upopular opinon, so it was incredibly gratifying to read this article on Slate and find that I'm not the only one who is skeptical about the diplomatic situation in NK.

2. Inglorius Basterds.
Part of me is interested in the way Terrentino artfully styles his violence, but all the kind of porny over-the-top violence and general proliferation of hate is on my nerves lately.

Recently I declared "No more Nazis!" Having just finished The Book Thief, which was admittedly very good, I relized that I really could live without reading about Nazis for oh say the rest of my life. Not simply because the crimes perpatrated by the Nazis were horrendous and dreadful to read and imagine. But becuase Nazi soldiers were also people trapped in unimaginable positions, most of whom did very little to end the terror of the day, but who were also people victimized by their government in every concievable way.

Furthermore re-imagining these terrible acts, romantacizing, villanizing and obsessing is not a suitable way to never forget. Using Nazis as standard bad guys trivializes what happened in WWII, not just to Jews, homosexuals, and other persecuted groups, but to the German people.

I also feel like using Nazis as the standard bad guy, and WWII as the standard setting for the bulk of western literature is incredibly lazy. Making hiding a Jew in your basement, evading Nazis, or fleeing Germany a literary standard makes your book one fictional tale among growing thousands, ever dwarfed by true stories that make the made up ones seem stale and trite in comparison.

And finally I'm tired of being told who to hate and that hate is ok. Desecrating corpses is wrong, torturing POWs is wrong, and hating for shits and giggles is wrong. There are no good guys who take scalps. If the tale was told in real life I would be well in favor of rounding all the Basterds up for a psych eval if not trying them for war crimes.

To those who say there deserves to be some stories of vengence for the Jewish People, I would respond that I wonder how or why anyone could get even with such atrocities.

I read an interesting article about Inglorius Basterds today and a child of a real member of the British X Troup of Jewish comandos wrote:

"When Manfred arrived at the Terezin camp, prisoners crowded around the jeep. Weak and dispirited, they were too stunned to utter a word. He found an inmate who directed him to his parents—emaciated and indeed hardly recognizable. As his father recounted their experiences, which included a stay in the notorious Belsen camp, his father told him that Jews would never get revenge for what had been done to them. “We cannot be that cruel,” he said.

For a man like Ganz, World War II is neither a distant nor amusing memory. He doesn’t seem likely to be engaged by Tarantino’s comic-book violence. “To me, the reality was brutal enough,” he says. "

I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Soooooooo, define clunker.

So, the new C.A.R.S. program. I've been thinking about stimulating the Japanese economy by purchasing a vehicle that, you know, works and yet my car does not qualify for Cash for Clunkers.

This set me to wondering about who, precisely, would benefit from this program. Not the environment (at least not in the immediate short term). And not the poor; I figure that I am about as poor as you can get and still reasonably purchase a brand new vehicle. However, I'm not quite poor enough that my car (though 13 years old) qualifies. Someone who makes what I make would have to be pretty unreasonable to keep a car worse than mine. (After all, you have all been recommending that I dump the car for two years.)

I think to qualify you need to make at least 35K and be an enormously cheap bastard.

OR: trade your car with a poorer person and then you both win. They get a 13 year old, but still better, car and you get 4K.

I am thus curious (but far too lazy to research) about whom this bill was intended to assist. Not American auto makers, this is not limited to them. Not the working poor, they can't afford it. And not really the environment. So I guess this is posturing against OPEC?

Interesting choice.