Monday, December 31, 2007


Man, I look goofy. But the point is: you need to go skydiving. As soon as possible.

Monday, December 17, 2007

how do you say this word?

Two of my roommates just burst into my room to ask me to settle a dispute. The first said: "How do you say this word?" and wrote down "both" on a scrap of paper. That's right, that was the big argument. Is it pronounced "both" as in rhyming with oath, or with a slight l sound, like "bolth"?

And keep in mind, this is after midnight on the night before finals officially begin.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Star Spangled Funky Banner

I was just talking with someone today about Jimi Hendrix's great rendition of our national anthem, and I was reminded of this version too:

Marvin Gaye at the 1984 NBA All-Star Game.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Have a cow

So maybe you've memorized every word available at and you're bored of staying at level 50 vocab all day long. Well, the good news is that there's another way to help feed the world's poor. Feminist Mormon Housewives has set up a team of Mormon blogs (appropriately named Team Bloggernacle) to raise money for Heifer International, a charity organization that purchases animals for poor people in third world countries, trains them on how to get the most out of them, and requires the beneficiary to pass on the wealth. As the wikipedia article explains:
Heifer International works to ensure that the gift of each animal will eventually help an entire community to become self-sustaining. Animals such as goats, water buffalo and camels are "seven M" animals: they provide meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials and motivation. Once its immediate needs have been met, a family is free to sell any excess at market. Heifer International provides a breeding animal along with the gift animal so that it can produce offspring. Participating families are required to "pass on the gift", that is: they must give at least one of the female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer's training. In time, that neighbor will pass along one of the offspring of its animal, and so on.

So go on, give what you can, it's for a good cause. Check out the Team Bloggernacle website and click on the "General Team Donation" tab at the top to donate.

Put Down the Ducky


Who's your favorite character? Mine is probably the lady with the scarf, or Pete Seeger.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

why I love wikipedia, reason #4096

Don't tell me you've never wanted to dance on the moon. You go, Buzz!

Sure, wikipedia says they put it up just to show that the flag wasn't waving in the air, which proves the moon landing wasn't a hoax, but we all know they put it up because Aldrin has some serious moves.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Greatest Thanksgiving Ever

Turkeys: 0
Mashed Potatoes: 0
Stuffing: 0
Pumpkin Pie: 0
People you don't know: 0
Listenings to Alice's Restaurant: 3
Homemade hamgurgers: lots
Cool Older Sisters: 1

Doesn't get any better.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

just for fun

Do you ever just watch people? I like to just watch people while walking between classes, and think about where they're going and what they're coming from and what they're thinking.

And on that note, I would really recommend the movie Into Great Silence. It was playing at BYU's International Cinema this week, and it was amazing. It's about monks in France who take a vow of silence, and you just watch their lives for three hours. A really spiritual and ponderous movie, I thought it was really powerful. If you ever get the chance, watch it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

free rice!

If you feel your vocabulary needs to be augmented or meliorated, but you never wanted to take the time because it doesn't feed poor people, well here's your chance! is the place for you. Seriously, it's kinda fun and it's all for a great cause. Every word you get right donates another 10 grains of rice to the world's poor, and if that sounds inconsequential, don't worry: you can easily end up donating 700 grains in a few minutes. My vocab level hovered around 40, with a peak at 43 46!. How 'bout you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Favorite General Conference reference

In honor of the General Conference issue of the Ensign coming out this month, I thought I'd just share my favorite quote from a past issue, which I stumbled upon once just looking at the sources used in the talks: "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Besides being a nice quote, I find it pretty funny that it's by Camus. If there was a poll taken, Camus would be near the top of the list of people least likely to be quoted by an apostle. But Elder Wirthlin did, in a wonderful talk titled The Abundant Life from the April 2006 General Conference.

I wonder if Elder Wirthlin was very familiar with Camus' philosophy; the reference given is from Bartlett's. An interesting quote from Wikipedia, discussing the paradox Camus expresses in his work The Myth of Sisyphus, is "We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavours are meaningless." Maybe not the same idea of an abundant life that E. Wirthlin was trying to convey, though the quote certainly works great in the context of the talk.

An interesting sidenote: Elaine Cannon (who, in case you weren't aware, was General President of the Young Women in 1982) apparently plagiarizes/paraphrases-without-attributing the same quote in a 1982 April General Conference address entitled Reach For Joy ("And it is for us to find at last that in the midst of winter we have within us an invincible summer"), though in all fairness maybe they just didn't publish her footnotes, because in a June 1975 Ensign article titled The Summer of My Content (back when she was just a vice-chairman of the general Heritage Arts Committee for the Church and member of the Federal Heights ward in Salt Lake City, for those of you keeping track) she clearly gives Camus his due, and even says she is "akin" to him ("From oleander to grandmotherhood, with my life now matching the season, I am akin to Albert Camus. I, too, have learned that 'in the midst of winter I find that I have within me an invincible summer.'"). Sweet!

But the point is, I for one would welcome more quotes from existentialist philosophers/absurdists, whether in General Conference or the Ensign. Those guys certainly had a lot of good things to say. Your thoughts? Any favorite/strange conference quotes?

Monday, November 12, 2007

I don't remember who you are...

...but to whichever one of my friends told me Rocky Balboa was a good movie: no. You are wrong. Not even close.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Blasphemy as humor

I have always had a propensity towards (mildly) blasphemous humor. Or at least for as long as I can remember. Also, I say mildly, but others disagree. But the point is, I find comedic blasphemy really funny. I hope that doesn't sound bad. Maybe I can give some examples.

The Onion has some great blasphemous stories, which range from hilarious to too disrespectful even for me. Two of my favorites are God Answers Prayers of Paralyzed Little Boy and Christ Converts to Islam. I love 'em! Also, I just purchased a great book entitled The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer which is basically a mormon Onion, and needless to say it has some great articles. You know it's good with headlines like "Provo Man Votes Democrat 'Just To See What It Feels Like'," "Relief Society Sister Makes Declarative Statement," and "Hofmann Forges Letters from Self." Also, it has little sidebars that answer questions such as "What are we bringing to our home teaching families?" The still-beating hearts of the last family that stood us up.

Do I just have a messed-up sense of humor? Like I said, there are things that cross the line for me, a number of Onion articles being at the top of the list. But isn't it good to be able to poke fun at the quirks and weirdnesses of a religion you love? Should I repent for thinking of writing a parody of Sheryl Crow's "I Can't Cry Any More" about Joseph Smith called "I Can't Scry Any More"? Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Get SongbirdSo there's this program I really like. It's called Songbird, and it's basically a web browser (based on Mozilla/Firefox) and mp3 player (a.k.a. iTunes...). It makes it really easy to play music that you find on the web. It just came out with version 0.3 (biggest improvement in this release: tabbed browsing), and while not good enough to become my full-time browser or media player, it is a great idea and it's an awesome way to find new music--it links to a ton of cool music blogs that have cool music you've never heard and automatically adds mp3s on the site you're on to your playlist. Check it out if you're adventurous and a bit computer savvy. Or just go to some of the music blogs yourself, like Hype Machine or Skreemr. And don't worry, it works on Linux too!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gray Areas

"The devil is in the details," "God wants things to be simple," "those who aren't with me are against me," and "The way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night." People use these lines and others like them to try to draw a perfectly straight line between good and bad. Everything is black or white to them. Sure, we might not quite know every single thing yet, but with some prayer and fasting and pondering we can find out basically everything we need to know, no exceptions (except maybe really trivial things).

But what about gray areas? I know people who really believe that complexity/ambiguity/doubt (all are tied together in their minds) are all from the devil, end of argument. But I love exploring gray areas! I love the idea that there's a lot of stuff we just don't know and can't know and I actually hope that even in the eternities, despite certainly gaining insane amounts of knowledge compared to what we have here, we still don't know some things. Am I just of the devil, or what?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Harry Potter as Homophobia Litmus Test

So perhaps by now you've heard: Dumbledore is gay. While I don't really care one way or the other*, I've found it really interesting to talk to people about it. At BYU, a conservative university by all accounts--especially on issues of homosexuality, the response has been almost universally negative, at least from the few people I've brought it up with. When I ask why they care so much--they all get somewhat mad about it--the general answer has been that they feel J.K. Rowling only did it out of some pro-gay agenda, to make homosexuality appear "normal." I have pointed out to them that many people are, indeed, born gay and that our church has even said that at least some people will not be able to overcome homosexual attractions in this life. But the fact remains, none of my friends seem comfortable with a beloved character in a children's book being gay.

At least from the BBC article, it appears that Rowling was pretty reluctant to go public with the news of Dumbledore's sexual orientation, only doing so to answer a question about whether he found "true love." That doesn't sound like a very rabid pro-gay, nuclear-family-destroying woman with an agenda to make everyone vote to legalize same-sex marriages. Can't we at least give her the benefit of the doubt, that she included a character who, like many of her readers and many people all over the world, is attracted to members of the same sex? I don't see that as even advocating homosexuality, it's more of a question of being realistic. I have no idea how many total characters there are in Harry Potter*, but I know it's a lot. Enough that if it were real life, chances are there would certainly be at least one with same gender attractions. Is it so bad to mirror real life?

I don't think my friends are consciously homophobic, but they certainly aren't comfortable with anyone they thought they respected and admired turning out to be gay. The fact that a person's sexual orientation would make him or her somehow less in their eyes is sad to me. I know my friends are better than that, it's just ignorance of the issue. I don't think most of them have ever met a person who was both openly Mormon and gay. But how do you go about changing people's perspectives on such a sensitive topic?

*Disclaimer: I once read about the first ten or twenty pages of one of the Harry Potter books and wasn't very entertained, and I saw the first movie and hated it (though I hear the later ones are supposed to be better), but that isn't what this post is about. That's just to let you know I have very little actual knowledge of, or interest in, the Harry Potter universe.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


So out of nowhere, the bathroom door in my apartment started closing all the way. Small miracles are great.

Monday, October 15, 2007

There was an interesting blog post at the LDS Science Review about the scientific method vs. spiritual revelation which asks if spiritual revelation has some of the same limitations as the scientific method does. I think it's pretty clear that spiritual revelation isn't a black and white thing, it can be a difficult process, often approaching truth gradually (line upon line) rather than just getting the full answer all at once, and it is a fact that some people have come to wrong conclusions despite faithful prayer and searching. To me the biggest difference between the two, though, is first the spheres to which they are applicable--spiritual versus physical truth--and reproducibility: scientific experiments have to be able to be independently verified to be considered valid, and while anyone can receive a spiritual witness to eternal truths, there are a lot of variables that are very difficult to quantify, so I don't consider such witnesses to be independently verifiable in the same way as scientific findings. Summary: both good, both useful, and both required for us to progress as far as we should.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

apparently, I'm depressed

Yesterday I took advantage of National Depression Screening Day (yeah, I'm pretty sure that's made up), and the verdict is that I am likely depressed. Meh. Nothing to do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hi Bingo

If you've never seen this short film, then you're missing out.

I agree with the first youtube commenter: After this animation, your life will never be the same again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

a decidedly liberal day

Listening to Harry Reid on campus, watching The Laramie Project and discussing gay rights, and making signs to save Burma! Sometimes being a liberal at BYU is the best.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

facebook loser

Do you ever happen to be online right at the moment someone writes on your wall, but you don't respond then because you're afraid that that person will think you're a facebook loser who is on it all day? Sometimes I wait hours or days before I respond when I could have done it in 30 seconds. I'm sure that makes me a lot cooler, huh?

And it's even worse for me because I'm enough of a nerd to have a little message pop up every time an email shows up, so I just have to be at my computer and I will immediately know whenever someone writes on my wall and puts me in the dilemma of whether to look like a facebook loser or ignore a friend. I just can't win. Which I guess makes me a loser.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I don't know why, but I have a soft spot for cover versions of songs. They don't even necessarily have to be "good" for me to like them, though of course that helps too. This is a random list of cover songs that I enjoy:

Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
Faith - Limp Bizkit
Twist and Shout - The Beatles
Because - Elliott Smith
Hurt - Johnny Cash
Mrs. Robinson - Lemonheads
The Boxer - Bob Dylan
anything Joan Baez covers
Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows

Any I missed?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"...and please bless the hands that prepared it"

If you've ever been around Mormons much and heard them pray at meals, you have probably heard the stock phrase thrown in after blessing the food: "and bless the hands that prepared it." I don't like this saying. Maybe the first person who thought it up was being sincere and hit upon a kind of poetic way of asking a blessing on whoever made the food for them, but it has since lost all meaning. So I wrote the following in the spirit of The Onion, or better yet, The Sugar Beet.

Woman credits healthy hands to prayers, battles illnesses in rest of body

Local resident LeAnne Baker is noted for her exceptionally healthy and hard-working hands. Neighbors and members of her local church alike claim that her hands can do more than three times the work of the average housewife, from cooking and baking to mending clothes. Far from taking credit for her unusually fit hands, she attributes her strong, healthy hands to constant blessings invoked by family members and loved ones. "Not a pre-meal blessing passes," says LeAnne, "that my dear husband or one of my lovely children doesn't thoughtfully ask our Heavenly Father to bless both the meal as well as the hands that prepared it." LeAnne adds that the hands that prepare her family's meals are, more often than not, her own.
Her hardy hands are even more remarkable given that almost every other joint in her body is severely afflicted by crippling arthritis. She states that "just waking up in the morning and getting out of bed is a painful ordeal." Chronic neck and back pain have plagued the relatively young 37 year old woman for the last 10 years, and recently the rest of her body has followed suit. "My knees can barely bend without searing pain shooting through my legs, and my hips have almost stopped working, but I am grateful every day for my fully functional hands," continued Mrs. Baker. She sees no other explanation for this unusal circumstance than the constant prayers she witnesses every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. "I have faith that God is truly answering my family's prayers. I'm living proof that prayer works!" LeAnne exclaims.
Brian Baker, LeAnne's 15 year old son, expressed more ambivalence about the situation. "I don't know, I guess my prayers to bless my mom's hands have helped her. I don't really think about it that much." Larry Baker, on the other hand, is confident that divine blessings are involved in the uncanny manual dexterity of his wife of 18 years. "Even though she sits on the couch most of the day, seeing as how it's too excruciating to stand or walk for more than a few minutes at a time, she can knit and quilt up a storm! She is clearly blessed by the Almighty to have the energy in those little hands to sew all of our children's clothes." Making all the children's clothes is indeed quite a feat, considering that the Bakers have 7 children, ranging in age from 4 to 17, who are also fed daily by three homemade meals cooked by LeAnne's hands.
Hope is strong in the family that LeAnne's hands will retain their strength and vigor for years to come. "If all these prayers continue, my hands should be in even better shape twenty years from now" jokes a grimacing LeAnne. Doubts remain, however, about how the rest of her body will stand the test of time. In addition to arthritis, Mrs. Baker was recently diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, an illness that requires the purchase of expensive painkillers as well as twice weekly visits to her local hospital for dialysis treatment. Despite the Baker family's general optimism about LeAnne's chances of a full recovery, her doctor says the prognosis is not good. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he suggested that "perhaps her family should start praying for God to bless the kidneys of those who prepare their food."
The Bakers, however, seem to show no signs of stopping their tradition of calling upon Deity to bless their mother's hands. At a meal this reporter was generously invited to, young MaryAnne Baker, 5, offered a short prayer over the chicken casserole and mashed potatoes that Mrs. Baker had struggled in her wheelchair to prepare for the last two hours. Along with a plea that the food would nourish and strengthen all who partook, MaryAnne dutifully asked God to "please bless the hands that prepared it."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Coming around to musicals (maybe)

I've never considered myself a fan of musicals. Even though my dad and sister are HUGE fans, I would rather pull my own fingernails out with rusty pliers than sit through Oklahoma! (don't forget the exclamation point), The Music Man, or My Fair Lady. There were a few songs that I enjoyed--I love Old Man River, especially as used in Joe Vs. the Volcano--but most of the "classical musicals" are not at all my thing. Exceptions are generally ones that I can watch, but don't really go out of my way to, e.g., West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz, once I watched it synced with Dark Side of the Moon--an experience I highly recommend, pun intended.

But the point is, I've seen some musicals recently that have started to change my mind. Mary Poppins I enjoyed very much (yes, I saw it when I was little, but didn't remember much of it until I saw it three years ago). Fiddler on the Roof was fabulous, I loved it. A girl at BYU winter semester recommended Rent to me, and I watched it over the summer, and despite a few extremely corny lines it had a lot of good songs and a strong story. Then last week I saw Hairspray, and it was hilarious and a ton of fun. I mean, anything that has a cross-dressing John Travolta married to Christopher Walken is sure to be great, but the music was good too, all the actors had good performances and the comedy really came from all sides. And although I haven't seen it, I have the soundtrack to Wicked (thanks Diana!) and it's got some really good songs, Popular, Defying Gravity, and Wonderful being some of my favorites.

So I'm wondering if I'm starting to come around to musicals, or if it's just a few bad apples that I had thought defined the musical genre that don't turn out to actually be representative of all films in the category. I mean, Wikipedia lists Gimme Shelter as a musical, so by that definition I guess I do like musicals. Either way, I've heard good things about Singin' in the Rain, so at some point I'm going to have see it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Carry on?

Am I the only one who thinks that we're singing "carrion, carrion, carrion!" at the end of the hymn "Carry On" (Hymns, no. 255)? I think the answer is yes.

Naturally better?

Some people make the claim that men are naturally smarter, better at leading, and/or more confident than women. Others, and sometimes the same people, claim that women are naturally more sensitive, compassionate, spiritual, and/or charitable than men. I don't agree with any of those claims. I've known plenty of naturally spiritual and compassionate men, and smart, confident women who are born leaders. I've met women who were jerks and I've met men who couldn't lead anything if their life depended on it. I can't really say that one kind has been more common among men than among women or vice versa.
I believe that the perception that men and women are fundamentally different intellectually or in character derives from the ideas of the society that we have grown up in. We are all imperfect, and those imperfections do not discriminate on the basis of gender. Strengths are also evenly distributed among all of God's children without regard for body anatomy.
This is not to say, however, that I don't think there is any difference at all between the sexes (besides the obvious physical disparities). It's not easy to explain, but I believe that emotionally men and women are different. Not that men don't show emotion and women wear it on their sleeves--that I also think is just part of our culture--but rather that some emotions can be categorized as masculine and some as feminine. Motherhood and fatherhood are prime examples. Although clearly related and mutually necessary, I believe that mothers and fathers have different relationships to their children.
This isn't an easy topic to discuss. The degree to which cultural norms shape our views on the subject is debatable, and it can be a touchy subject to some because of moral or religious beliefs. And perhaps most problematic: every human is either a man or woman, but not both; comparing between the genders is by definition biased, and no one can have first-hand experience about being both male and female. So let's just have a good time discussing and arguing and living through whatever differences there may or may not be between us!

update: there's a very good post at about differences in general, and I really liked a few of the comments that touched on gender differences. Check it out.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What I'm Afraid Of

So the other day I was playing in a company softball game, which is usually a good time. Unfortunately, this game, I sucked. Of course, it's company softball, so most of the people suck. But I normally think of myself as somewhat athletic and able to, say, catch a fly ball instead of dropping it. Three times. At critical moments.
Again, this isn't really a big deal, at all. But for some reason it really got to me. I felt stupid and useless and whatever else. It made me think of what I'm afraid of, and I think one of my biggest fears is failure, especially and particularly public failure. When I screw up in front of people, it stays with me, a lot more than successes. Do you ever have that happen where an embarassing/stupid/boneheaded memory randomly comes into your head in a completely unrelated setting? If you see me suddenly sort of shiver it could be because that's happening to me. It happens a lot. I remember and relive my public errors often. It sucks.
This particular fear is probably one of the reasons I slack off/am lazy: the classic "if I don't have any goals I won't not achieve them" thinking. Not very productive. Reminds me of the Gin Blossoms lyrics: "If you don't expect too much from me you might not be let down" (note: see previous post). I hate answering questions in classes because even though most of the time I know the right answer, those few times when I'm wrong just really embarass me. I know, not rational. I wonder how many fears are rational.
So I don't open up to people, I keep to myself and I'm shy. How to overcome this? Good question. I'll probably fail at figuring it out.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

more than just sound

I've thought about why I like music. I remember back when I was about 10 when I didn't like any music at all. I thought it was all stupid and dumb and whatever. I don't know what made me really get into it, but I know I started with the radio first, stuff like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and No Doubt and Matchbox 20 (this was circa 1995/6). I remember loving the Men in Black theme song by Will Smith, it got lots of airplay. My first two albums were "Yourself or Someone Like You" (a present from my cousin for Christmas, I think) and "Tragic Kingdom" (a birthday present from a friend). Don't remember which came first. But why do I like it so much now? I've got 20 gigs worth of legal music on my computer. How come?
I think one answer is that I'm not very good at expressing feelings, but music does that very well and I can relate to what a song is saying. Also, music is a very social thing for me. I love to hear what other people like, and if I like it then I associate that music with the friend who recommended it to me. I still remember who first introduced me to Elliott Smith and I still think of my cousin when I listen to "Yourself or Someone Like You." Music brings back good memories of people I know or events I've attended. REM's song "Stand" still reminds me of the Youth Conference where the theme was "Stand for Something" (my mom asked me to help pick a song to go along with the theme, for some reason she didn't like "Losing My Religion" quite as much).
Music is beautiful. Whether it's a Beethoven piano sonata or Sublime singing/rapping about gang, life, I find real beauty in these melodies and words. They stay in my head forever. I can't tell you how many times situations or things people say reminds me of a lyric to a song. It reminds me of the scene in "The Shawshank Redemption" where the main character puts on that amazing opera song and later tells his fellow inmates about how they can put him in solitary for as long as they want, but they can't take away the music from his head.
And of course, there's the cathartic effect. I can change my mood to almost anything I want just by picking the appropriate album. I can rebel with Rage, I can commiserate with Jeff Buckley, I can escape with The Velvet Underground, I can funk out with Beck, I can smile listening to SHAKE YOUR PEACE!. I really like that scene in Philadelphia where Tom Hanks listens to that beautiful song to get away from the devastating pain of slowly dying of AIDS.
In short, music really helps me get through life. It's one more reason I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It helps me widen my horizons. It helps me put things in perspective. It helps me connect with other people. Music is something I love. I'm not sure if you (or I) now understand any better why, but I do.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oh but those were the days...

Nothing like a bit of nostalgia, and that's what I got when reading this great list of someone's 25 all-time favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips. Was that a wonderful comic or what? I mean, the sarcastic and macabre humor, the stupendous vocabulary, and beautiful artwork do indeed make C&H the greatest comic ever. So here's to those good old Calvin and Hobbes books; you know, the ones with titles like "Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat," "Revenge of the Baby-Sat," and "Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons." This strip was creativity, pure and unadulterated. I still remember when it stopped, it was rough, but at least it went out on top. Calvin and Hobbes is probably at least 50% responsible for most of my love of reading. I definitely learned more words reading it than anything else before high school. I just can't say enough about it, so I'll stop, and just remember. mmm...

p.s. image is from simply calvin and hobbes

Monday, July 9, 2007

Beginning to see the light

I'm listening to The Velvet Underground for the first time in about a month. Their self-titled CD (their third studio album). It is amazing. Pale Blue Eyes is a masterpiece. The whole feel of it all is overwhelming. So sad and poetic. These guys (and gal) were geniuses, I don't care what anybody says. Ahead of their time at least, timeless at best. Doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Michael Row the Boat Ashore

So I just finished watching Fahrenheit 9/11 and my reactions are somewhat mixed. I think Michael Moore made some excellent points, and I definitely think it's very important to have his voice be heard since his critical viewpoint is woefully underreported in mainstream American press. He also had some great footage, ranging from one-sided propaganda that made Bush and his cabinet look like complete botches (biased, but you must admit skilled) to powerful footage of reactions to horrible situations: New Yorkers staring up at the WTC, a woman whose son was killed in Iraq and who read his last letter home, an Iraqi woman crying about the innocent members of her family killed in American bombings, etc. Also intriguing footage of a man whose friends at a local gym reported him to the FBI because he said Bush was a bigger asshole than bin Laden (pardon the crudeness, but I don't know how to paraphrase that without it losing its meaning) and a benign peace advocacy group that was infiltrated by a government agent.

All that having been said, I think there were some deep flaws to the film as well. Of course it's one-sided, that goes without saying. But I really didn't appreciate Moore showing footage of Bush and editorializing on what he might be thinking. Shoot Mike, I can make you look like an idiot if I show video of you sitting in a chair and say in voice-over "Maybe right now he's thinking of eating another donut..." Ad-hominem attack and unfair? Yes, that's why I don't think it should be done. And at times Moore let his mouth go on for too long over powerful footage that could speak for itself. Some cheap shots were taken, but one must admit that it was done very convincingly and effectively. It takes a sharp mind to put together the incongruities that Moore does; one that I thought was very skillfully done was Rumsfeld talking about how amazing our bomb aiming was while shot after shot of innocent Iraqi civilians maimed and killed by those bombs were shown on the screen. Again, bordering perilously between tastelessness and caustic truth.

I liked it a lot overall. I think I'm good at ignoring flaws when there is something so forceful underneath it all. Go see it. It's a strong voice against war, and I think that is generally a very good thing--especially in the case of this war.

Friday, June 29, 2007

and so it begins...

So if I ever decide to start blogging, I guess I will begin here. For now though, just write this to behind your ear and come back when something of import has been posted.