Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
February 23, 2018
NYT: Frederick Douglass vs Scientific Racism

This opinion piece in the New York Times -- "Frederick Douglass's Fight Against Scientific Racism" -- is decidedly worth reading.

Of course, "scientific" racism persists in 2018, as one repeatedly learns after delving into the comments of any of the laudatory articles Trump links on his Twitter feed. The final paragraph, which quotes from one of Douglass's final speeches, also rings true today: on more than one occasion I've heard (well-meaning, I hope/assume) white people of my acquaintance who, in noting the depressed state of many minority communities, have wondered why "they" continue to struggle and asked what should be done about "them."

And for readers who haven't seen the movie yet (note that I'm not attempting to shame you for not having seen it yet; apparently that's a thing happening elsewhere on the interwebs), forgive me for the spoiler -- but Black Panther concludes with an especially relevant quote on that point. In a speech to the United Nations, the titular character remarks, "More connects us than separates us -- but in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one tribe."

It's a sentiment that runs counter to much of our current political discourse, what with "BUILD. THE. WALL!" serving as a rallying cry for our current commander in chief, but it is a sentiment that we would all do well to adopt.

-posted by Wes | 12:44 am | Comments (0)
February 2, 2018
Preliminary thoughts re: Ramsey Campbell’s The Kind Folk
Category: Books

Are any of you familiar with Ramsey Campbell? Apparently he "is perhaps the world's most-honored author of horror fiction" and "has won more awards than any other living author of horror or dark fantasy." (The Wikipedia article features even higher praise; in speaking of him, author S. T. Joshi apparently wrote, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood." Wow.) I'm reading his 2012 novel The Kind Folk for a horror book club I joined late last year.

It's... bad. Like, really bad. The writing isn't just amateurish or unpolished; it's not even simplistic in the way many children's books are written -- it's more like the writing a child (say, a fifth grader) would produce after a couple of revisions. So far (and admittedly I'm only four chapters in) the story is incredibly weak, too. Campbell is in the habit of writing very short chapters (generally 3-5 pages), which I assume is intended to keep the reader engaged -- it's easy to keep saying, "Oh, I'll just read the next chapter," when the chapters are so brief -- but each chapter could literally be summarized in a single sentence without losing anything essential or valuable because the writing is wholly lacking in sophistication and depth. It's so empty that I can barely focus on it; somewhere in the middle of the second page I had to flip to various other parts of the book to see if the writing ever improves. It doesn't. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:54 am | Comments (0)
January 31, 2018
Brief Review: The Disaster Artist

So I saw The Disaster Artist. Not a bad little film -- but if you haven't seen The Room (the movie whose making TDA depicts) yet and plan to watch both movies, I'd recommend starting with TDA. Basically, TDA can't answer its most intriguing questions, so what you're left with is the reveal that these guys made a terrible, terrible movie -- and one who's already seen The Room knows that all too well. Viewed in the reverse order, however, I imagine TDA could heighten one's anticipation of Tommy Wiseau's cinematic abomination.

If you've already seen The Room -- and you were so fascinated that you need to know just how it came into being, including the origin of certain character behaviors and the context for certain takes -- TDA will totally be your jam. For me, it ended up feeling kinda superfluous: like the Star Wars prequels, albeit more competently executed.

Bonus for fans of Nathan For You: Nathan Fielder has a small part in it.

-posted by Wes | 6:08 pm | Comments (0)
January 25, 2018
Thoughts on Let the Right One In (Swedish and American films + comparisons to novel)
Category: Books … TV, Film, & DVDs

Having finished reading John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel Let the Right One In (and the short story sequel, "Let the Old Dreams Die"), last night I watched the Swedish and American film versions back to back. And... it was an interesting experience. I first saw the American film nearly a year after I saw the Swedish one, so it wasn't entirely fresh in my mind -- but from what I recalled the American movie seemed like a superfluous remake of the original, made only for people who for whatever reason can't abide subtitles or dubs. And while it does seem that the American movie is more an adaptation of the Swedish film than of the original novel, my previous opinion of the film isn't *quite* right. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 7:51 pm | Comments (0)
January 14, 2018
Trump’s Ambiguity Assault
Category: Current Events … Serious

So I admit that I've probably been less horrified by Trump's antics than most of the folks in my orbit. I mean, yeah, he consistently shows himself to be a ridiculous buffoon who's in no way up to the task of running the country -- but he's also often hilarious. I often talk about how I read Trump's Twitter feed because I want to see his comments unfiltered, from the source; I also read it because it frequently sends me into peals of laughter. Not a lot of things have that effect on me.

But his current freakout about whether he said "I" or "I'd" isn't even funny -- it's just sad and stupid, and I can't even bring myself to giggle about it.

For those of you who missed it, Trump tweeted an accusation that the Wall Street Journal deliberately misquoted him, writing that he said "I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un" instead of that same statement with "I'd" instead of "I". The extra consonant sound does indeed change the meaning of the statement -- arguably significantly -- but this really shouldn't be a big deal. It's an easy thing to mishear and an easy thing to misspeak -- especially since, quite naturally, we often drop trailing consonant sounds. (It's also worth noting that this president isn't the most careful when it comes to enunciation; remember the confusion over whether he was saying "bigly" versus "big league"? Not that that's necessarily a criticism; in America we don't require every citizen to sound like a British royal.) All Trump had to do was clarify what he meant, without assigning blame to anyone, and that would have been that. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:06 pm | Comments (0)
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