Mr. Bill George Presents

Posts Tagged ‘Matt Minski’

A New Site For Film Aficionados

In Film on December 9, 2009 at 1:53 AM

Fun factoids about myself: I love movies and am currently pursuing a career in video production. I am immensely interested in the production of films and love reading interviews with writers/directors etcetera. So needless to say, when I found the website “makingof.com” via my stumbleupon button on Firefox I found it necessary to do a quick write-up on it as a heads up.

Makingof.com is a well crafted site that is regularly updated with videos featuring interviews with notable directors/writers/production-crew and behind-the-scenes bits on current and up-coming movies. All of the videos are very high quality and the site is updated surprisingly fast. As I perused the site I was a bit perplexed as to why the community section was so dead. The forum posts were few and far between. Which leads me to believe this site hasn’t exactly caught on yet and is also causing me to try to spread the word. I was even further perplexed when I found out that Natalie Portman co-founded the site and that I hadn’t heard of it through one of my film site avenues beforehand.

Sure you can find interviews and pieces on many films and directors out there on youtube and such but “makingof.com” consolidates the material in an easy to navigate fashion so you have a bit more direction if you are looking to gain insight into the world of film. So if you are an aspiring film-maker or just a movie-buff I think you might like this site and I recommend giving it a check-out.

http://makingof.com/

[Editors Note: Thanks Matt. Good find. Also on my (Bill George’s) radar as far as new movie sites go: http://movieclips.com/. It’s a neat way to view, embed, and share scenes and clips from popular films. Much easier and higher quality than YouTube.]

I Hate Gamestop

In Society, Video Games on November 15, 2009 at 10:42 AM

I find that with each and every visit to Gamestop I find myself hating the establishment just a little bit more.

My disposition towards the game vendor has slowly festered to a blackened husk, and my resentment to myself only grows as I keep returning there to buy games. It’s not that they don’t have a great selection, or that their prices are too high, quite the contrary actually. Typically when I go to GameStop I leave with the product I wanted for the price that I was expecting. What makes me want to beat the employees to death with the claw end of a hammer is the goddamn INCESSENT nagging about reserving games and taking advantage of their used game selection. As time wears on I regard these two policies as affronts to humanity, though I realize my position may be seen as somewhat extremist.

I used to go to GameStop, get my games, and be content. When they first started the reservation policy it was actually convenient, no more worries about having to wait for a new shipment to come in for popular games. But now it has devolved to the point where the employees seem to be trying to harangue you into believing that it is a privilege for you to buy these games from them. That they are a rare commodity that must be “reserved” lest you miss out on the initial release. WTF is that? They are a video game retailer they should be well stocked with video games.

My rage for this reservation system began with the release of the first “Gears of War.” I had reserved the game a month prior, eager for “E-DAY” as the clever marketing advertisements painted it. I received a call from the automated Gamestop calling system telling me that my copy had arrived and it could be picked up during store hours. So I make the drive to the mall, fight my way through throngs of people, get to the store, and…. “Out of stock.” “Sorry,” they say, but I’ll have to wait for the next shipment, “come back tomorrow.”

Disheartened I made my way to Best Buy in the hopes that they might have the product I sought. Upon 5 minutes in the store I saw displays with DROVES of copies of the game. So I bought it, returned to Gamestop, patiently explained that they could fuck off, and got my reservation deposit back. Since then I have scorned the idea of reserving a game.

I’ve been jaded towards GameStop ever since, yet I keep returning to buy games from them for they are the closest video game distributor in my area and I don’t abhor the policy enough to spend more gas money.  I do refuse to reserve games however and I also refuse to buy used games since they are usually priced only 5 dollars lower than a brand spankin’ new copy. I spent five minutes one day arguing with a employee on why I wanted a new Little Big Planet and not simply a used one. I tried to laugh it off and chuckle about how I like opening the shrink wrap but I resolved to giving him an icy stare and uttering, “Just give me the new copy” between gritted teeth and a twitching cornea.

The other day I went in to pick up Uncharted 2 and when I asked the clerk “Could I got a copy of Uncharted 2?”  he responded with,

“Did you reserve it?” with the undertone that I was stupid if I didn’t.

“No,” I replied.

“…. Well we have one right here, you got lucky.”

So I kind of just gave him a “wtf” look and paid my total. I’m sure that he must say such things lest he be sodomized by the corporate entities behind the individual retail stores but I still can’t help but want to spew ulcerous fluids at such encounters. Maybe because I was such a whore once for Staples and such exchanges bring to light suppressed memories of being a puppet for those empty and tainted policies that my hatred is both internal and external. Nightmares resurfacing of dancing to the strings of some malevolent entity running the company from afar, his invisible eye ever present.

I just can’t seem to be okay with the idea of supporting a company that buys games from little kids and confused parents for a pittance of the original costs, sells them for $5 less than retail robbing the developers of money, and then creates this disillusionment that every new game NEEDS to be reserved or else the customer will miss out. I’m not even going to delve into the new gimmick of giving away special in-game features with reservations for fear of bursting into flame. I DON’T WANT YOUR STUPID SPECIAL IN-GAME BASEBALL BAT, LEFT 4 DEAD 2!

… Yes I do 😦

Cryptozoologists Unite!

In Science on September 13, 2009 at 12:46 PM

For most of my life, I have generally had my head in the clouds. I can recall many a time where a teacher has called upon me, snapping me back from my alternate reality as a dragon rider that I had just created in my head, to answer some banal question that is much less interesting. This most likely stems from my obsessive reading of science fiction/fantasy books as a youngster and also can said to be attributed to my insistence that mythological beasts either do exist, will exist, or did exist at some time.

The catalyst for this thought process was  an article I read recently reporting that two New Zealanders were trekking to the Gobi desert in search of proof of the Mongolian Death Worm. It has a flashy name I know, but its attributes are even more of an eyebrow raiser.

This fabled worm “is reported to look like the intestine of a cow. It is the subject of a number of extraordinary claims by Mongolian locals—such as the ability of the worm to spew forth sulfuric acid that, on contact, will turn anything it touches yellow and corroded (which would kill a human), and its purported ability to kill at a distance by means of electric discharge (from its arse).” according to Wikipedia. My first thought upon reading this was that this worm would make a badass Pokemon. I mean electricity, poison, AND earth properties? That would make a nice addition to my… er… hypothetical lineup.

Though no matter how much I might wish this creature exists, the reasoning portion of my brain tells me that a worm that shoots acid and lightning probably doesn’t exist, and if it did… well, then God help us all. Yet no matter how much my brain discounts the possibility of this creature’s existence, I find myself rooting for these two journalists to find it. Just as I wish the Loch monster might reveal itself one day and terrorize the local tourists, or that Big Foot would bring to fruition his revenge on the “Messin‘ with Sasquatch” crew for tarnishing his image, or that any of these bogus creatures could have some credibility, aside from crack pot monster-hunters and people like me who just want some mystery added to the world. The worst thing about those documentaries on “The Search for Bigfoot” or the Discovery show “River Monsters” is that if any of these fabled beasts were actually found it would be all over the news, not revealed in some syndicated TV show. Yet despite these facts, we watch anyway. Such is the power of mystique.

Of course, this all leads back to my childhood obsession with dragons. For if Bigfoot can exist, or if a lightning defecating acid vomiting worm can exist, then surely a flying, fire-spitting reptile can, or once did, exist. I must say that the animal mocumentary on dragons that was on Discovery awhile ago really put me in a state of ecstatic glee, though only on the inside. Otherwise my friends may have realized my brain has never matured past my early teen years. I mean is it really so much to ask to have a dragon as a best bud who sounds just like  Sean Connery like in Dragonheart?

But enough about my fascinations with cryptozoology, does anyone out there harbor that mad hope that some of these fabled creatures exist? Perhaps one that is more intriguing than the others? I would say the Loch Ness Monster would be the coolest in my opinion (aside from dragons of course). The idea of some relic hidden in a labyrinth of underwater caves, shying from the human eye is awesome. It’s too awesome to listen to reason. Therefore hope must take over in order to preserve that sense of wonderment that grows increasingly absent as we grow from children to adults.

Crowning Moments Of Awesome

In Film, Literature, Television on August 20, 2009 at 12:44 AM

As defined by the website www.tvtropes.org, a Crowning Moment of Awesome is best described as:

“The moment when a fictional character does something for which they will be remembered forever, winning for them the eternal loyalty of fans.”

And it was at this website that I found myself escaping from my hours of boredom, looking up what I deemed to be Crowning Moments of Awesome and seeing if they were indeed cataloged by what I would declare as the most comprehensive compendium of such moments.

As I searched through the website and was reminded of the various CMOA that I have experienced throughout my years as a reader/movie-watcher/tv-gazer, I realized that these instances really make or break a movie/book/show for me. It’s these small instances of, for lack of a better word, awesomeness, that have made the works that they are a part of so memorable in my mind.

Off the top of my head one example that comes to mind is Gladiator, when Russel Crowe removes his helmet and reveals that he is still very much alive to Commodus’ dismay and declares:

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Just re-reading this quote gave me a shiver accompanied by fleeting goose bumps. It is one of those movie moments that will stay strong in my head, even as most of the other parts of the movie fall into obscurity.

Another legendary moment is in The Princess Bride when Inigo Montoya finally faces the six-fingered man, repeating the lines, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.” A moment that will be forever rise above other scenes, bronzed in an awesome glory.

Sometimes, however, a movie cannot elicit any memories of a CMOA. Some movies have but a few, some might have multitudes,  and some movies could be said just to be one giant CMOA coalesced from many smaller CMOA, such as the 300 holding strong against their titanic Persian foe.  After reading this article and looking through the numerous examples, I discover that a well placed CMOA is the #1 thing I look for in a movie. The first half of a movie can be shit for all I care as long as it somehow can pull a glorified CMOA from its ass, obliterating all the other detritus from memory.

My favorite CMOA of all time would have to be the end of the last episode from the anime series “Cowboy Bebop” (one of the few anime shows that I can stand to watch). The character “Spike Spiegel,” whom has illustrated various amounts of badassery throughout the series and has become one of my top 5 fictional characters, ends the series with such an amazing “bang” that I will never tire of watching the episode again and again. I do not want to divulge what specifically it is that he does due to the nominal chance of ruining it for someone who might plan to watch it someday, but I can say that it is indeed a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Read the rest of this entry »

McCartney At Fenway

In Music on August 8, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Generally, when I am at a concert I notice that there is an indeterminable amount of people around me bobbing their heads, tapping their toes, and occasionally rhythmically swinging their hips to the tunes. I have never been one of these people. I am a person who looks around at this unspoken choreography going on in the crowd around me and thinks, “How does that happen? I guess I should bob my head or something,” for fear that the people in my immediate vicinity might mistake me for an upright corpse struck with rigor mortis.

However, I became all of those people effortlessly the other night when I saw Paul McCartney at Fenway Park. I can recall certain times during the night where I came to certain realizations, such as the realization that my leg was moving at regular intervals without my knowledge to the beat of Lady Madonna and that my voice box was indeed “na-na-naaaing” with the rest of the crowd for the end of Hey Jude. It is the fact that the music brought out these seldom seen functions in me that I knew I was witnessing an amazing performance.

I must say I was hesitant to shell out $215 two weeks ago on tickets for me and my girlfriend but after all is said in done I can say that it would have been worth it had I only been there for the A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance rendition. I remember being covered in goosebumps suddenly and intensely as soon as I heard that familiar, elegant guitar strum accompanied by the melodic entrance of the piano keys.

Not all the tracks were Beatles tracks however, a good number of the songs at the concert’s start were from his solo career, which I can’t say I’m too familiar with. I didn’t mind this though because it made those few initial songs played from the Beatles all the more magical. I love the Beatles, though I have always just classified them as classic rock and never once thought I’d be hearing those familiar songs sung by one of them. They were a golden relic that I wouldn’t ever think I’d experience which made hearing those songs performed by one of the two surviving members one of the most memorable experiences I will ever hope to have. I cannot believe that two weeks ago I was contemplating missing a living legend because I would be tired for work the next morning.

Aside from my overwhelming feelings of Beatles nostalgia this concert inspired in me, the concert itself was fantastic. I mildly feared that the show might be something that sells just by having Paul McCartney’s name attached to it and was skeptical of the quality I would experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Invasion Of Normandy (In Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania)

In Sports on August 5, 2009 at 12:37 AM

I’m standing in a crowded landing craft. Or at least it’s called a landing craft. In my mind I’m an allied soldier, ready to storm the beaches of Normandy with my brothers in arms as we save Europe from the grip of tyrannous Nazi bastards. Images of “Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault” and “Saving Private Ryan” flash through my head. However, outside of my mind, I am actually in a wooden recreation of a landing craft, firmly planted on a grassy field surrounded by 10 other landing craft placed intermittently along an imaginary “beach line.” My rifle is really a paintball gun and my brothers in arms are fellow players who have made their way to Pennsylvania as I had for “The Invasion of Normandy” at Skirmish Paintball. One of the largest paintball events in the world.

We stood cramped in this craft waiting for the game to start. Waiting for the entrenched Nazis at the tree line to make fodder of us. We were the first wave. From the outside we could hear war crys as our allies got amped up for their wave to go in. This was not so with us, we in the landing craft had dimmed to a calm silence as the 30 seconds till the game start counted down. Sweat beads run down my face stinging my eyes, unable to be wiped away because of my mask. I check my harness, make sure my ammo pods are secured. I will be needing more than what my hopper can carry alone. The time is running out now. At five seconds a siren wails, signaling the start of the game. From the distance a million orbs of paint rise from the tree line like a great swarm of speckled bees that have just been disturbed from an ageless slumber. The silence of their ascent lasts for only a moment as the tiny orbs begin hammering the door of the craft, assaulting us with reverberations from the wood.

I crouch low, ready to sprint when that door drops. A great “WHOOMPF” is heard all along the field as the doors of the landing craft fall softly to the tall grass. Five guys ahead of me falter in the sprint to cover as shells and paint giblets erupt from their chest. Poor bastards never stood a chance, the germans had a bead on them ever since they started firing at the door. I don’t pause in my advance, I make it out of the landing craft and sprint the few yards to cover. About half of us made it out of the craft and we had drawn very heavy fire.

It was only the first wave and we were already barely able to fit behind the little cover near the landing craft. With nervous hesitance I knew I had to move up, if the second wave entered without us moving up it would be a cluster-fuck of camouflage, paintballed allies, and very happy Nazis. With that knowledge I charged ahead to the next available bunker. I remember thinking it was much more spacious however the volume of enemy fire I had attracted was also much more significant.

“MOVE UP!” I scream, along with a few others in the front lines. We few were like the fingers making way for the rest of the hand to drag itself up. Thank god, people started to move up though I found myself in the predicament yet again of being cramped in my bunker. Looking to my right there were a few barrels that would have to do for cover. I got up to sprint to it when I heard an immense flare in crackling, the firefight just reached a new level. Thinking the enemy all decided to say “Hey! Go for that guy!” I picked up speed and crashed into cover. When I made it to cover I saw that the firing was due to the second wave hitting the field, guns blazing at no particular target, and the germans were happy to return the favor. There were paintballs colliding with other goddamned paintballs to give you any idea as to how filled the air was getting with hard-shelled orbs traveling at speeds upward of 270 feet per second. Read the rest of this entry »

Musical Digression

In Music on July 2, 2009 at 9:34 PM

Recently I have discovered an interesting trend in my musical tastes. And that trend, which only until recently became apparent to me, is that for some reason I no longer enjoy music unless there is the presence of some unconventional instrument such as an accordion, fiddle, or random wind instrument thrown into the mix.

I believe this started a few years ago when I became a fan of a Philadelphian band, Man Man, that utilizes a variety of instruments/noisemakers in their music which creates a distinct blend of musical chaos that suits my fancy. This was then furthered when I became a fan of gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello whom utilizes a violin in most of their tracks aside from other random instruments.

Now I have spiraled into listening to such bands as Balkan Beat Box, BeiruitDevotchka, Ethiopian Jazzist Mulatu Astatke and other bands that have a wild undefinable sound to them. Perhaps this could be due to the fact that I lack the musical aptitude to classify these bands but I find my favorite music is the kind of music I have difficulty explaining to people. Most recently an elderly gent at my place of work asked me what kind of music Man Man was when I told him I was going to a concert and as I processed all the possible explanations of what their music entails all that came out in the end was “….rock?”

This fact is mainly why I decided to write this article at the present, first off in an attempt to try to categorize my favorite music, and second of all to provide some not-so-popular bands that people may find interesting.

First off I’d like to talk about Man Man, my favorite band at the moment and one that I will go any lengths to see live. Man Man is composed of 5 individuals who all sport ridiculous stage names such as “Honus Honus,” “Chang Wang,” and “Critter Crat.” When they play live they don white jeans, white shirts, and decorate their faces with white face paint. Their performance can best be likened to a group of talented cave men performing in a back alley London dive circa 1920.  They were one of the first bands that really defined my musical tastes and I would suggest listening to a personal favorite of mine, “10lb Mustache” over on the tube for you. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxv0qhAauAk)

Another favorite of mine, one considerably more popular than Man Man, though I do run into plenty of people who have never heard of them is Gogol Bordello. It’s a bit easier to classify them and if I had to pick one genre I’d say they are punk, though the eastern European twist they put on it makes them fantastic. I recently saw them in Boston for the first time and it was probably the best show I’ve ever seen. They played for close to three hours and the whole time I was writhing in a sea of people and sweat set at a constant 98.6 degrees while struggling to maintain the little fluids I had left and the fact that I wasn’t absolutely miserable in said conditions says something about the quality of the show. Their music is fast paced and full of energy and since I have been in a faced paced energetic mood as of late it compliments my day to day nicely. A song I’d recommend by them would have to be “Start Wearing Purple” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM1Ahn0Osjo) and I insist that you check it out.

I suppose those are the two biggies I wanted to talk about, however I would like to leave off with a song I recently came across that I am in love with by Les Claypool with Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello as a guest singer called “Bite out of Life.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nrSjfoJxn0)

And if anyone out there has some music that you feel is similar to these illustrious bands let me know, for I am constantly searching for new music.

Cooperatively Evil

In Video Games on June 17, 2009 at 11:53 PM

Recently I have been growing increasingly irate with certain gimmicks that seem to be growing in video games. In the past few months I have played through Resident Evil 5 and inFamous, both fantastic games despite one aspect that really, supremely “grinded my gears.” And these two facets of these otherwise wonderful games are the heavy centering on the “Cooperative Experience” in RE5 and the “Moral Choice System” in inFamous. Back in the day I welcomed such additions to the gaming medium. I must say I spent countless hours in the original halo’s co-op just stockpiling grenades and sending warthogs soaring out of the atmosphere, and watching my first Fable character degrade into a horned ifrit was just joy.

However, as time has gone on I’ve found that games are trying to make the co-op experience more centric to the game experience as a whole, rather than an addition to be kept separate from the main experience. And moral choice systems are now a way to have gamers play through a game twice to experience slightly different halves with no middle ground. Maybe I’m just an old school single player enthusiast but when I have to play through all of RE5 while having Sheva follow me like a machine gun wielding puppy I get rather annoyed. Not saying I wouldn’t love to have a machine gun wielding puppy follow me around, but for the purposes of the RE5 game it isn’t ideal.  I love to be able to play with a friend, however, I would prefer if it wasn’t forced upon me.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is I would much prefer a game that is meant to be single-player, to stay single-player. Left for Dead is meant to be a team experience which is why it’s awesome with other people. The Resident Evil series has always been an incredible single player experience, and when they try to hop on the goddamned buddy-system band wagon I get a bit peeved.  Maybe if I had a good teammate on-call all the time to play with over Live I’d be singing a different tune, but when I have a 11 year old eunuch with a broken mic trying to knife zombies to death in order to get some crack-ass achievement as my teammate the gaming experience is cheapened somewhat.

Now onto moral choice systems which is the fresher of the two subjects in my mind. I completed inFamous about a week ago and for those of you who are not in tune with the PS3 side of things you play as an electric-powered superman who must make things right in a shattered city all the while choosing whether you want to be the cities benevolent beneficiary or its “infamous” electrically charged asshole. I opted for the latter because one of the evil powers is an Emperor of the Sith-esque arc lightning, which, when upgraded, makes people explode (and writhe!).

I suppose it was pretty cool that your powers would change depending on what moral choices you make but what annoyed me is that the choices were either on complete dastardly side like sodomizing a little girl or the radiating Christ-goodness side like saving that girl from a fire instead and then showering her with ponies and goodies.  I mean why can’t I choose a healthy medium? But no, it doesn’t work like that, by the end of the game I get to be either the cities righteous savior (bitch) or be its immoral resident super-being who coasts along power lines blowing up cars because it looks cool on his HDTV.

Also when the evil powers tend to be more “flashy” then the good powers I find myself making the “moral” choices based along the thought process of,  “hmm this lightning grenade would look cool if it turned into a cluster lightning grenade!” (which is the evil power) Which leads to me choosing to pump black poison tar into a citizen apartment complex because I’d rather my grenades split into 7 explosive bits rather than just one.

I can’t gripe too much however since I still am playing the game and it is rather good, I just wonder what the game writers were thinking when posing these “powerful moral choices” to the gamer. They are too black and white, wouldn’t you say? A shade of gray would be nice once in awhile. And co-op, ugh co-op, please don’t force me to play with a sub-par computer controlled twat (Sheva) that is integral to the game when I am lacking a competent human to play with. Maybe I’d be happier if the computer controlled twat (Sheva) could die without repercussion, but she doesn’t, so I’m not.

Duel Of The Fates

In Comedy on May 30, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Let me tell you about my cat. My cat’s name is Aiden. He is all black, slender, has bright yellow eyes, and has rather sharp claws. He is an outside cat that loves to prowl about the Wilbraham suburbs stalking the various rodent-culture which include but are not limited to: Rabbits, moles, chipmunks, birds, mice, and so on and so forth.

Many times I come home to find a mangled corpse sprawled across our steps like some sort of primal offering upon the edifice of a blood-god. Once I came home to find a headless mouse, which isn’t so out of the blue, but this time the intact head was lying next to the body as if it had been recently cleaved. So then I start to wonder, did my cat take the mouse’s head off with a claymore? Did it kill the mouse somewhere else then carry the little mouse head in its maw separately? Odd things to ponder.

One day, however, I was standing in my kitchen which has a big window in which to view the majority of my back yard. There are a lot of trees and assorted fauna in the backyard for our cat to hunt in so sometimes I’ll just watch him as he stalks though the garden or eyes an oblivious rabbit from afar, gliding in closer and closer with menace in his eyes. So this particular day I witnessed something extraordinary. I watched Aiden as he stalked up on a chipmunk, given how skittish those things are I wonder how he possibly catches as many as he does. (It would be interesting to see his “caught” and “gotten away” ratio for chipmunk hunting.)

So any who, Aiden comes upon the chipmunk with the utmost stealth and feline grace, slowly advancing as the unaware chipmunk licks his little paws to clean behind his ears. As Aiden is just a foot away, the chipmunk cocks his head ever so slightly, as to tune into a sound that has caught his attention but it is too late. Aiden has sprung and has the cuddly rodent pinned beneath his claws.

Now I expected for him to just rip the chipmunk’s throat out or perhaps claw it out but as he just sat there with a chipmunk squirming under his needle-like claws I remembered that cats like to play with their captive. And so began the torture of one of what could possibly be chip and dale’s distant cousin.

The cat started by batting him around a bit, then let him go briefly before he would recapture him and then batter him around some more. Then, to exacerbate things, he would let the chipmunk go yet again, letting it run long enough to taste the sweetness of freedom on the fringes of his taste buds. Aiden would then delight as he recaptured the chipmunk, reveling in the hopelessness emanating from the creatures furry pores. He did this long enough for me to get a glass of milk and then he pounced for the last time.

It was at this point that Aiden was finished playing, he let the chipmunk free only to give him a violent slash with his claws, sending the chipmunk’s tail flying. He then had the chipmunk cornered, slowly approaching as the chipmunk looked on helpless and tail-less. But then a turn of the tides, the chipmunk sprang forward directly at Aiden’s face, rebounding off his nose and in the following cat-confusion sped towards the nearest tree and rocketed up its side.

“Wow,” I thought, “what a ballsy chipmunk.” I sat there silently praising the chipmunk for his ingenuity in escaping my cat. Surely it was over now that the chipmunk escaped to the network of trees in our backyard. Aiden sat staring fixedly at the boughs of the tree. I caught a glimpse of something moving from the edges of the leaves, and then, without warning, a brownish blur streaked like cute lightning from the tree.  He was a shining furry beacon raging toward the cat. From the depths of my imagination I could almost hear the chipmunk screaming like a castrated Leonidas in a teeny voice, “You may take my tail… but you’ll never take… my dignity!”

From then on it was impossible to tell what exactly happened. It was quick, there was a flash of movement for a few moments and then, when my eyes were able to fix upon that silent face-off outside my kitchen window, I was able to see Aiden walking triumphantly away with a broken and beaten chipmunk hanging limp from his jaws. I felt like my cat was walking away with the rodent equivalent of John Connor. The only one with the wherewithal to lead the “resistance” against my cat had just had his spine snapped.

After that I began to evaluate the personality of the cat, which tells me I probably didn’t have too much going on in my head that day to be analyzing the moral ambiguity of my feline pet. Essentially he’s a ruthless tyrant preying on those weaker than him for nothing more than pure enjoyment, but he also purrs so lovingly when pet behind his ears… so I was left conflicted. He still leaves tattered carcasses about the yard and I still pet him behind the ears, so all in all nothing will change.

Read This… If You Love Reading

In Literature on May 27, 2009 at 12:51 AM

[Editor’s Note: This post, by Matt Minski, is a direct response to a post written a few days ago by fellow TIAW contributor the skeptic. Here is the original post: Read This… If You Hate Reading.]

Being one who would classify himself as an avid reader, I felt it was necessary to write a response post to the Skeptic’s article that rallied anti-readers. This isn’t a post to bash the anti-reading points that Skeptic laid out, just one to illuminate the other side that was left in the dark.

I can understand how someone in this day and age would hate reading. First off it’s rather time consuming, it comes off as rather bland compared to the current array of entertainment formats, and being assigned various (sometimes shiteous) readings throughout our academic careers, surely doesn’t foster any love for the medium.

However. for whatever reason, for as long as I can remember, I have never been without a book in progress. I tend to derive more fulfillment out of text than I do any other medium. I was always puzzled when fellow classmates would ask, “What are you reading for?” I mean, “What are you reading?” seems more apt, but “What are you reading for?” I never quite understood the rationale there.

Now I don’t think that one person is any better for reading a book, I just think that books are an excellent means to provide additional insights to whatever you might be interested in. Not that a movie, TV show, or any other medium can’t give you knowledge. A book is just another looking glass in which to see information. It also has the potential to be a much more intimate experience, as with autobiographies, it doesn’t get more genuine than reading it straight from the author’s brain.

Sadly, I also happen to be one of those douches that will naively chime, “the book was much better than the movie” when the topic of an adaptation is at hand. But alas, I can’t bring myself to keep quiet. A book just provides so very much more than a movie can in most scenarios that I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t take part in it. A book doesn’t have amazing visuals or epic soundtracks but the sheer investment it takes is a reward all its own.

For instance, I started reading Harry Potter in 8th grade and I finished the series my junior year of college when the final book hit. That’s somewhere in the ballpark of eight years to follow a story. And it is that attachment, like a scrumptious tumor embedded deep at the stem of your imagination, seeping sweet, sweet nectar into your blood stream over the years, that keeps me coming back.

Another reason that I tend to prefer books more than other mediums is that the artist’s vision is usually not compromised as it is with movies. With movies being such a lucrative industry with millions of dollars being flown around, there are many people with power (read: money) that are trying to steer a movie into what they deem as success. With a book, you have the author’s untainted creation, straight from their brain. Take Alan Moore for example, his stories (Watchmen, V For Vendetta) are brilliant, but when in the hands of Hollywood you get a very watered down version of the original. I mean I loved both of those movies but the source material has a depth to it that very few movies can hope to reach. It’s like having a mighty steer toned down into beef flavored bouillon cubes.

It saddens me that books seem to be a dying medium (keep fighting the good fight Kindle!) but it also turns out to be a great treat when I meet those rare folks who share similar tastes. I can’t help but get all antsy in my pantsy when I meet someone that shares the same love for George R. R Martin’s epic “A Song of Ice and Fire” as I do.

I don’t look down on non-readers, I just think it’s a pity that people will section themselves off from a medium that has so much to offer because they are stifled from an early age by societies general disdain of reading for pleasure. Well, I suppose that isn’t fair to say, but goddamnit it’s a tragedy to miss out on some of the books out there.

Much in the same format as the Skeptic I feel it pertinent to leave off with a quote that has been circulating around my brain and one that I feel sums up my opinion on reading.

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.

You can’t experience every awesome thing all the time in your short lifetime but books are just one of the tools along the way that can lend a hand in between.