Friday, December 26, 2008

Laser Beams

I was going to present this entry as a drive-by blogging complete with bullets, but I'm now aware that I don't know how to create bullets in this text box. So I'm going to use dashes, which look more like laser beams.

- Environmental pendulum-swinging at the expense of entertainment. How did a "Humans are destroying the earth" message get into Hellboy II, of all movies? The same overt didacticism makes its way into WALL-E, marring what is otherwise this year's most charming romance (albeit between two computer-animated robots). I tried to overlook this artistic failing, but it really became something worth complaining about after seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still. They took one of the most classic science fiction movies of all time and injected the latest Hollywood agenda into it. You don't deface classics with your modern agenda. You're tampering with the sentiments and ideas of another time and era, and prostituting them out in order to push a simplistic liberal lesson. Al Gorax, who speaks for the trees, must be delighted. Interestingly enough, these shameless parables are all science fiction/fantasy.

- Old things found while cleaning out my drawers: a voodoo doll. My wisdom teeth. Two broken watches. A die. A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playing card. A broken spacebar. A 2005 Boy Scout National Jamboree shot glass. It's not only interesting to ponder what these trinkets represent, but also to see what I'd decided was worth keeping around. These trinkets are things that have no use except for being kept. Why do we keep what we keep?

- I took the GRE last week. I was hoping for at least a 600 on the verbal such that I'd have a good shot at the MFA programs I'm applying to. I did...alright. I obviously did okay enough that I'm willing to talk about it online - I got a 580 on the verbal and a 750 on the Quantitative. So while I did mediocre on the section that counted, I almost scored perfectly on the section that didn't. This created a unique frustration - doing poorly in what I'm supposed to be excellent at while doing excellently in what I'm supposed to be poor at. The frustration becomes not just a matter of performance but of identity. I wonder if I've inaccurately assumed certain labels of strength while ignoring my real ones. The idea that I'm not really playing to my strengths in chasing my writing dream is a little haunting.

- Christmas season is an interesting time of self-analysis, specifically while buying presents. What are your relationships with people? Have you known what to get them for months, or are they the kind of people you walk into Fred Meyer's for with a $10 budget and no idea what to get them? Why don't you know? And then there are all the people that you do admittedly like and admire but don't get them any gifts. Why do people end up in these categories?

- A couple weeks ago it finally snowed in Provo. Last year it started snowing in October and didn't let up until April. I kept expecting the snow to fall all semester but eventually let down my guard and assumed it wouldn't happen. When it finally fell, it was cold and miserable and perhaps even moreso for the fact that I'd forgotten it was coming. In Portland it snowed over a foot in a week, trashing roads in cities with no snowplows. People couldn't figure out how and where to put their chains on, and barreled into snow banks. It hadn't snowed that thickly that time of year for decades. When it came, no one was prepared, and it came with the harsh presence and finality of Judgment. What habits do we have? What decisions are we making? Are we happy with ourselves? The snow reminded me of the final accountings that all come so suddenly. I'm getting married and my single life is over. The snow will fall on graduation as my schooling finishes. The snow will fall when we have kids, when our kids leave, on my deathbed, while I'm near someone else's deathbed. We can't let ourselves forget about the coming of things we know are coming.


Schmetterling said...

Wait wait wait wait wait--you got a shot glass at a scouting jamboree? A shot glass? What, did you earn the Bar Tending/Binge Drinking Merit Badge or something?

A shot glass.... Weird....

Th. said...


Hate to say you're wrong, so I'll start by saying you're right: about the still-earth remake. But the first was just as agenda-laden. But Hellboy? Um, do you know Hellboy? And WALL*E --- what other setting would you propose? The 'agenda' isn't there. It's what you choose to see in the setting. Someone had to point it out to Andrew Stanton. It reminds me of when someone showed Spielberg that E.T. was a Christ story and he told them to go away, don't say that: I'm Jewish.

- Is this a writing MFA that you have these concerns? Which schools? Regular or low-res?

Carl Duzett said...


Even while typing that, I wondered if the original didn't actually boast the same message. I saw it in high school and all I could remember were the scenes of the robot slowly carrying the chick into the spaceship. Upon further research, I think you're right.

In WALL*E, the setting is not any problem. What's interesting to me is that it's a much stronger movie when it works with the robotic romance than when it works with the "hey look, humans trashed the earth and are now fat and lazy" shtick. Honestly, it felt a little like a seminary video or something. "Wow! We really should keep the commandments!" Not that the sentiment's wrong, it's just so heavy-handed.

I'm applying for MFAs in Creative Writing, to regular schools like University of Houston and BYU. (Though BYU just has a creative writing emphasis in the English MA.)


My brother got it four years ago. Apparently, it is from the only line of BSA shot glosses ever created. As soon as somebody in charge realized they were selling shot glasses, they pulled the line. In other news, a similar thing happened at the BYU bookstore three or four years ago.

Th. said...


When is BYU gonna suck it up and offer an MFA? Seriously.