Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 2, 2017
DEATH PENALTY!
Category: Current Events … Serious

Admittedly, I oppose the death penalty in the vast majority of scenarios we're likely to encounter. I'd support it for the Joker -- dude breaks out of Arkham every other week and murders at least thirty people every time he hits the streets, so killing him would be in the interest of public safety. But insofar as our criminals are contained and aren't continuing to menace the public at large (by, say, running a criminal empire and ordering hits and the like), I don't support killing them. I maintain that killing people who are no longer a threat diminishes us. (And, of course, there's the possibility of condemning innocent people and the reality of disproportionate application of the death penalty along racial lines and all of that jazz.)

In any case, whether one supports the death penalty or not, I hope that most of us could agree that there should be some discussion whenever we seek to apply it -- that we should consider what we hope to achieve by it and whether it upholds or runs counter to our values and aims in particular instances. Might it actually be a deterrent in this case? Will it instead make a martyr of a perpetrator and inspire others of his ilk? Could it deprive us of the opportunity to learn more about the perpetrator? Insofar as we could convince him of the error of his ways, could it deprive us of a potential ally? And so on. In short, whatever one's feelings about the death penalty, it should not be taken lightly.

It should definitely not be the kind of thing a US president demands, in all caps, without qualification or apparent thought.

-posted by Wes | 7:15 pm | Comments (0)
October 13, 2017
Four Movie Reviews

I watched a handful of movies recently! Here are my thoughts on It (2017), mother! (2017), My Little Pony (2017), and Before Midnight (2013)...

It (2017)

Honestly? I found It kinda boring. The characters were unbelievable and underdeveloped. Certain elements of and changes to (compared to the 1990 miniseries; I haven't read the novel) the story were baffling. Pennywise himself -- the main attraction, at least for me -- ultimately had me groaning every time he appeared (which was a LOT). A friend described Pennywise as less a performance than a special effect; I wholly agree with that assessment. And perhaps the following occurred to me because both feature the same distinctively weird-looking kid, but I kept thinking that the movie played out like an abridged and way less interesting Stranger Things adaptation. (Admittedly I wasn't a *huge* fan of that show, either. It was okay.) (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:31 pm | Comments (0)
May 20, 2017
Currently Reading: Asura Girl
Category: Books

So this week I started reading Asura Girl by Otaro Maijo, which I think I acquired during one of a friend's book purges. I don't recall what initially moved me to take the title home, but one of the things that persuaded me to read it now was my curiosity concerning prose translated from Japanese. Shusaku Endo's Silence ranks among the most satisfying and thought-provoking books I've ever read, but I haven't read any Japanese novels besides that.

About halfway into Asura Girl -- and having looked up some additional information about the book online -- I'm finding myself wondering about other details, like the fact that the book is written in first person and the protagonist is a 17-year-old girl, yet the author was a 30-year-old man when the book was released. The book also won the Mishima Yukio Prize for that year, which seems surprising because it's not all that good (at least so far, and admitting that whatever elegance the original prose possessed was perhaps lost in translation) and Yukio Mishima is kind of a big deal in Japanese literature. But the depiction of Japanese teenage culture is intriguing because of how alien it seems (to me; it might not seem that strange to others), and what story there is is interesting enough (though so far the novel has largely consisted of the teen female protagonist's musings, hence my curiosity regarding the reality of the author's age and sex), so I'm sufficiently motivated to keep reading.

-posted by Wes | 8:41 pm | Comments (0)
May 16, 2017
Nightmare Fuel: A True Story
Category: Miscellany

I heard you like nightmare fuel? Lean in: let creepy Uncle Wes tell you a tale of terror.

This is a true story that happened to me when I was a younger man. I remember it like it happened yesterday... except I remember it even better than that because it happened roughly thirty minutes ago.

I had just returned home from work. After washing up and changing out of my work clothes, I entered my room and felt a cold tickle along my shoulder. I reached into my t-shirt sleeve to scratch the imagined itch, and when I brought my hand back into the light I noticed something... unusual... between my fingertips. The first point of confusion was that the thing I held appeared to be a bit of thread -- which was curious because, while it did appear to match the checkered shirt I had worn to work, I had since removed that shirt and was then clad only in the t-shirt I had worn beneath it. The thread's color suggested that it had not come from the t-shirt, which was white, and it would have been odd for a thread from an outer garment to somehow work its way under my undershirt. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:04 pm | Comments (0)
May 2, 2017
Thoughts on Doctor Who’s “Thin Ice”

Overall, the episode wasn't terrible. It had some good moments between Bill and the Doctor (though I don't know how to respond to writers when they place words in the Doctor's mouth that are patently false, like "I've never had the luxury of outrage"); it had a compelling "mystery"; and its supporting cast was pretty diverse (though I do find the abundance of children in the Capaldi era to be super annoying). The episode was, to be sure, basically a rehash of previous nuWho episodes except in a different setting -- "The Beast Below" comes to mind, what with the feeding of people to a humongous creature imprisoned beneath the city for some exploitative purpose -- but that's par for the course for Doctor Who these days.

But following the handful of articles about how Doctor Who was supposed to "tackle race and whitewashing" in this episode, I did find it to be disappointing. The episode definitely did acknowledge those topics, but there's a difference between "acknowledging" a thing and "tackling" it. (This distinction, by the way, is part of the reason I declined to comment more publicly on Get Out. I thought the movie was an effective thriller, but I found its much-lauded exploration of racism to be a letdown -- especially given the well-meaning posts from some of my white friends to the tune of "all white people need to see this movie.") With respect to whitewashing, the subject is dispensed with in a 20-second exchange. Explicit racism gets a bit more emphasis, if only because the episode's villain responds to Bill with a cartoonishly racist outpouring before the Doctor socks him in the face. And while I guess that response represents progress -- the last time a character was openly racist to his companion, the Doctor proceeded to fall painfully in love with that character -- the episode's "tackling" of the topic is restricted to that one bit of dialogue. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:52 pm | Comments (0)
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