If you’ve heard me raving about Game of Thrones, and you want to get a good overview of the first season, watch the following video. There are some spoilers, of course. At about 16:30, they start talking about the upcoming season 2.
I finally got around to watching Warrior this weekend. Here are some of my thoughts, briefly:
Both brothers were complex — having both great and terrible qualities about them — but in completely cliche ways. The whole movie, with all its major and minor conflicts, was predictable from start to finish. The directing, screenplay, acting, were all well-done; and, even though I thought the use of Beethoven’s Ninth was cheesy, the score was stirring and expertly executed, which is what I think makes most people like/love the movie. The music pulled a Jedi mind trick on them and they fell for it.
On the one hand, I’m shocked this movie is in the IMDB Top 250. On the other hand, I’m not.
Overall, my feelings are “meh.”
Ashley went to New York this weekend, so I had her go to my favorite Japanese bookstore and pick up a bunch of books in Japanese for me. As I started reading one of the books (Haruki Murakami’s ノルウェイの森), I remembered reading this section from another book…
The fact is that Japanese, especially for those of us who have learned to read it after childhood, never loses its exotic appeal; each page turned reveals to the eye a new spectacle of outlandish squiggles that momentarily takes the breath away. There is a thrill in realizing that you can process this stuff with your very own brain. I have long been convinced that, as we speak — but especially as we read this foreign tongue — just beneath the threshold of consciousness, a voice continually shouts, “Look, Mom, I’m reading Japanese!”
That’s from Making Sense of Japanese by Jay Rubin. If you’re trying to learn Japanese, it’s a great book. Even after having lived there for about two years, it still taught me quite a few new things about the language. The way the book is written, too, makes it very enjoyable to read.
p.s. I’ve been working on my kanji study for about a month now. I’m able to read around 500-600, and I can write about half that many. Someone please call me an おつかれさま.
Bashiok, Blizzard’s Community Manager, gave us this little gem last week (and I just saw it now):
Stop thinking about how awesome this game could be. Just imagine it’s a new M. Night Shyamalan movie. Sure Sixth Sense was amazing and Unbreakable had it’s moments, but this right here is the sequel to The Village … or The Happening … or Signs … or any of the movies besides the two I first mentioned. So just like, lower those expectations, but still definitely buy the game please, and everything will be just fine. K?
Comparing Diablo III not just to a crappy Shyamalan movie, but to the sequel of one of those movies? Yikes. And it seems like a bad way to say things even if he was joking. [source]
In light of today’s news, I thought about writing up a post expressing my views on the issue*, but it would take me more than about ten minutes, and I just don’t have that kind of time right now. Instead, I’ll post the following Internet classic.
- Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
- Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
- Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.
- Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
- Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
- Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.
- Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
- Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.
- Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
- Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
* Briefly: “Allowing gay marriage” and “disallowing gay marriage” are both Bad Things; no, those aren’t the only two options. But since the overwhelming majority of people think those are the only two options, then I guess “Allowing gay marriage” is the less bad of the Bads. So practically speaking, today’s news is good news, I guess. But it’s not ideal.
Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.
Does that mean I can now consider the other writings of Dr. Williams scripture?
“Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.”
I guess these “interviews” conducted by Stephen Colbert aired last week, but as usual, I’m a few days behind. No matter. I had no idea that Maurice Sendak, the renowned author of the classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, was such a hilariously grumpy misanthrope. Anyway, just watch the two-part interview (about 14 and a half minutes).
Some background for those of you unfamiliar with the term. From LDS.org:
This term arises out of Rev. 12:7 and refers to the conflict that took place in the premortal existence among the spirit children of God. The war was primarily over how and in what manner the plan of salvation would be administered to the forthcoming human family upon the earth. The issues involved such things as agency, how to gain salvation, and who should be the Redeemer. The war broke out because one-third of the spirits refused to accept the appointment of Jesus Christ as the Savior. Such a refusal was a rebellion against the Father’s plan of redemption. It was evident that if given agency, some persons would fall short of complete salvation; Lucifer and his followers wanted salvation to come automatically to all who passed through mortality, without regard to individual preference, agency, or voluntary dedication. The spirits who thus rebelled and persisted were thrust out of heaven and cast down to the earth without mortal bodies, “and thus came the devil and his angels.”
The story we teach children and that missionaries teach people investigating the church is a little simpler…
Before any of us were born, God presented a plan for us to come to Earth, away from his direct influence, where we could make our own choices and learn from the consequences. Think of it as college life for God’s spirit children. So we’d live here for a while, learn from our various life experiences, then we’d die and return to God, having grown and progressed through what we experienced and learned.
Well, Satan heard this plan (he was called Lucifer back then), and he thought it was terrible that people would be given the option to make bad choices. I guess he didn’t understand the notion that “you learn from your mistakes.” So he suggested that God change the plan to force everyone to only make good choices.
Jesus then jumped into the argument and rallied support back toward the original plan. The “War” was just the great debate between the two sides. God and Jesus’ side obviously “won,” as there are now billions of people living on the earth.
Now, if the Mormon crowd reading this is paying attention, they’re probably going, “Wait, Brandon! You missed an important part! On top of Satan wanting to take away agency/choice from people, he also wanted God’s glory!”
Except I didn’t miss that part, as I’ll now explain.
When I talk to neophytes and children about the War in Heaven, they always emphasize what was emphasized to them — that Satan wanted God’s glory, and they might remember the bit about agency. But they only understand the simple meaning of the term glory — they just think that Satan wanted to become God. And there’s some truth to that, but I think it’s missing the real point. The glory of God, as we read in Moses 1:39, is to bring about eternal life for his children, which can only be done if we are free to choose and we make good choices. The real glory of God, in the context of the War in Heaven, is the gift of free agency.
I propose to my fellow Latter-day Saints that when we teach people about the War in Heaven, we de-emphasize Satan’s glory-seeking and emphasize God’s Plan and the fundamentally necessary element of the Plan — the freedom to choose.
I like books. I like people who like books. But if you don’t like books, there’s a good chance I’ll still like you. I’ll think you’re missing out on some great adventures, some culture, and some wonderful knowledge, but I recognize that people have different preferences. Some of my friends think I’m missing out, because I don’t like sports, but I don’t intend on enjoying those anytime soon.
The problem I have is when people claim they like books, and then the conversation goes something like this — and mind you, I’ve had the following conversation several times (with some variation, of course)…
Other Person: “I like books!”
Brandon: “Really? I like books, too! What kinds of books do you like? Have you read anything good recently?”
OP: “I really like fantasy books.”
B: “Oh great, me too! Have you gotten through Lord of the Rings yet?”
OP: “Oh no, I started it once, but it’s so long. I loved Harry Potter, though. I’ve read them all three times. And I recently finished the Hunger Games series. Have you heard of that?”
B: *struck by sudden fear* “…um, yes. Have you read any of the Narnia books at least?”
OP: “Oh, I saw the movies.”
B: *realizing I need to quit talking to this person about books ASAP* “Well you should definitely try reading them some time. You could probably blaze through them in a few days. So, uh, are you excited about them making Hunger Games into a movie? Let’s talk about movies and TV.”
So the moral of the story: If you’re going to claim to be a book lover but your knowledge of the topic is confined to modern pop fiction for children, please be aware that you sound silly claiming that you are a book lover.
Or just throw out a caveat, and I’m more than willing to cut you some slack.
It’s times like now that remind me of this clip from the wonderful British show That Mitchell and Webb Look.