Monday, January 31, 2011

R.I.P Ozzy Osbourne

He's dead to me. I'm going home tonight and I will put my Ozzy Osbourne CDs away, in the locker of my basement.This is where I draw the line. Fuck him.

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The True Power Of Knowledge

I have never met any men like my father-in-law Bruno and yet, when I shook his hand and he plunged his stare into mine, I thought I knew him from somewhere. I'm sure he's used to it. That quizzical look from people he just got introduced to. He has small blue eyes that are made even more piercing by his skin, darkened from the many hours of working under the sun. In those eyes, there's strength, empathy, love, a child spark and yet the wisdom of many lifetimes. I thought I knew these eyes and this commanding, yet friendly aura, because it's how everybody wants to be.

When I met him, I was an "university type". I thought I had found the meaning of life in books. Visiting my in-laws were filling me up with a fear of not having anything to share with them. I suspect they had the same apprehension. I was the second "university type" Josie presented them and you know, if the first was a success there wouldn't have been a second one. One day, I found myself in Bruno's sugar shack, alone with him, liters of maple water waiting to be boiled and a crate of beer. That day, we stayed alone, in the shack, drinking beer and talking together. Bruno told me something very important that day:

"You know, I didn't go to school long. Neither did most people here. But the way I look at it, we have land, businesses, houses cars. And what do the intellectual elite has? They're living in cramped up apartment, in overpopulated cities, trying to "actualize themselves". I think I'm actualizing pretty good so far, don't you? "

That was direct, accurate and pretty damn true. The realest thing I've ever seen somebody get from reading Hegel is a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Knowledge doesn't mean you're necessarily smart. Knowledge means you're erudite. Being smart, intelligent, is about the usage of your brain, how to connect the different contents together and build something from it. Bruno is probably more erudite about dairy production (and few other subjects) than I am about literature. But he also knows how to do a shitload of things I have never even attempted to understand like driving vehicles, chopping wood, raising dogs, harvesting, Quebec ancestral culture etc. I was the one with the diplomas in the room, but I was the one getting my ass kicked intellectually.

My work has lately brought me to understand how brilliant my father in law is. I'm dealing daily with people having MBAs, PhDs and a various diplomas and fuck, they can't figure their way out of a goddamn paper bag. My colleague and friend J-Rod had an interesting theory about this. Those people try to limit the spectrum of their knowledge to the boundaries of their degree. And to me this is, oh-so-lame. God (Baphomet or whoever the clockmaker is), gave everyone of us a body, four limbs and most important, a working brain. When life throws something you don't know how to do, what a great opportunity this is to enlarge the spectrum of your knowledge. Why limit yourself to numbers, letters, abstract concepts? We all have strengths and weaknesses, but isn't the human experience to long for self-improvement?

No matter how many hairs you're ready to split in half, we all have our feet on Earth and the smartest people out there are building something for themselves, rather to shy away from existence. Life on Earth is too short to turn away from challenges and stop learning. True intelligence is to think out of the systems that other people have already thought out for you. People like my father-in-law aren't satisfied with a "learning field", so they grab everything they can and build a life for themselves...and quite frankly, I have to live up to this. I'm happy to have had this model so early in life. The only responsible person for who you might become is yourself. That's a lot of power and a lot of responsibilities (get out of this post, Spiderman).

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Movie Review : The Runaways (2010)



Recognizable Faces:

Dakota Fanning
Kristen Stewart

Directed By:

Floria Sigismondi

I like Joan Jett. She's a strong model for young girls around the world and she achieved that status without being annoying in any way. It's quite the feat. She also happens to be a quite gifted rocker. Which is even more something. Being all guts and skills for a woman isn't easy, especially since generations of men in suits dressed them up and made them sing suggestive songs on the stage for the enrichment of musical corporations. When you're talking Joan Jett, you're talking of a woman who rose up from obscurity in the Black Flag way. With the power of her own damn will.

The Runaways peeks into the legend of Joan Jett through the creation of her first bands...The Runaways. The storyline is shared in between Joan (Stewart) and the lead singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), their complex relationship and how The Runaways were somewhat doomed from their creation. See, the band started when Joan had the balls to go see rock manager Kim Fowley and told him about her plans to start and all-girl rock band. Turned on by the huge possibility this was in the untamed market of the eighties, he will squeeze them out like lemons and cash in on the originality of their sound. As tough as they are, the teenage girls band is on a death clock with the legendary impresario on their back.

I'm not too sure what to think about The Runaways. It has its share of valuable insight about the creation of the group, the writing of their hit song Cherry Bomb being my favorite. Most hit songs have been written hastily, on the corner of a napkin, and Cherry Bomb isn't different. I'm also glad director Floria Sigismondi decided to stay true to the facts, rather than try to force some empty message about woman condition here. Joan Jett had what it took to succeed in the music industry and Cherrie Currie didn't. In fact she didn't want that life and now she's a chainsaw sculpture artist, her true vocation. In that sense, The Runaways is a worthy, stylish biopic about the creation of one of the most important female groups in rock n' roll history.

But for the love of god, Baphomet and everything good and evil, why or WHY DID THEY CAST KRISTEN STEWART AS JOAN JETT???? Why did they have to cast a brain-dead teen idol to play the most fuck-you, in-your-face woman? She turned Joan Jett into this angsty, sexually confused (OK, that part might be true), Kurt Cobain wannabe. Joan Jett is this, not that. I can think of a dozen actresses able to pull this off. Who cares is they're a bit older? It's not like Catnip Stewart was twelve years old. Word is that Jett was pleased with the performance herself, but I guess she was just being polite. After all, it's flattering to have somebody play your part on screen. As her far, I'm not happy. Stewart looked like garbage on screen. Well, she always does, on screen or in life, but that's another story. She's one girl I don't mind leave to Robert Pattinson.

The Runaways is a good biopic, if not a little straightforward and trendy. You can feel the respect and admiration of Floria Sigismondi through the movie and it's a good thing that they got the cinematographic treatment they deserved. It's not a game changing movie, it's way too quiet and contemplative to be of any relevance, but it's a good source of information about some of the most cuttroath girls in the music industry. It's just that it could have been so much more, if it wasn't from Miss. Derpa Derp playing the biggest feminine rock icon.

SCORE: 72%

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dimmu Borgir Sunday Interlude

Don't worry. Those are very mellow. Dimmu Borgir look like a bunch of overfed scarecrows, but they don't always play like the end of the world is in your ears. In 2001, they released Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, which is to this day, my favorite of their records. It has a mitigated reputation amongst the black metal fans because of its eclecticism, but I think it's their most inspired effort. Since I'm not a "black-metal-is-the-only-music-worth-playing" type of people, I appreciated to see them open up and exploring with different styles, such as industrial metal, which I think suited them well. They sure got carried away with it afterward, but that's another story.

The two songs posted here are the first and the last song of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, named Fear & Wonder and Perfection Or Vanity respectively. They are mellow, symphonic tracks, which reflect the more thoughtful and tormented aspects of the band. I have listened to those two songs in a loop, when I write, for years now. There is an unspeakable beauty to them. A melancholy that doesn't bother with words. They are not metal, but they embody its spirit more than most bands nowadays. Perfection Or Vanity hits a particularly sensible cord with me. It's one of the most beautiful instrumentals I ever listened to and I thought I'd share with you.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Masterful Opinions (About Literature)

Hello Mortals,

you see this piece of paper? This is a Master Degree. My Master Degree in Comparative Literature that I have been slaving over for four years. It's a cool discipline, half-way in between Cultural Studies and classic text analysis, it stole my heart for a brief moment from 2005 to 2007. Then I started working. I looked upon the world with the bewilderment of a new born, a chaotic mixture of fear, wonder and sheer bewilderment. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't all that bad. Especially that I had my feet in this said world for twenty-five years at the time (twenty-eight now).

So now I have the goddamn paper...and then what? I guess that my opinions and interpretations about literature are superior to yours (or not, if you understand the point I'm trying to make). I guess I'm an educated person now. Smart? I don't know (it's going to be the subject of another feature soon), but yeah, I'm somewhat educated in the very narrow field of the fiction of Philip K. Dick (which is who my thesis was on). Now that my degree is in my face (and not a very hypothetical, headache inducing title), I want to use it. I want to use it for good though and not to perpetuate a tradition of self-involved useless intellectuals.

So here are five opinions I have about literature and its Academic treatment that you can you in arguments and back it up by saying it's a literature teacher (What? I'm almost there) that told you. I had all those opinions before I graduated, but now they have material value (so I like to think)

1. James Joyce is overrated. He's not a bad writer. He's actually quite good, but his main claim to fame is that he was thinking outside the box. James Joyce is an historical yardstick that marks the exact moment where literature stopped being formatted. Ulysses was written to prove a point. No matter how you decide to write your novel, as long as your writing is tight, the story can hold up.

As far as content is concerned, it's where shit hits the fan. Joyce had one simple fucking obsession: Ireland. If you want to learn a bit more about the ways of early twentieth century middle class Irish people, read Dubliners. If you have nothing to do with a pedant intellectual vision of a pretty mundane life, you shouldn't even bother. I don't see the point of reading Joyce outside the walls of an Academy and I don't see the point of remembering anything else than Ulysses.

2. Dying doesn't buy you credibility. One day during my bachelor degree I was reading Brothers Karamazov for my own personal enjoyment. I met this guy Nick in the subway as I had the book in my hands. He gave me a warm, friendly smile and asked: "So, how is it?" He hadn't read it yet. Nick was a classmate. He was also one of the sharpest readers I had ever met, a playwright and a pedant fucker. I say that with some tenderness, he wasn't a bad guy, just buying into his own intellectual greatness like he was some kind of cerebral Kama Sutra God or something.

A few months later, I bump into him again, this time I have a book from Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt in my hands, a very living writer. This time, Nick grimaces and says: "I don't know how you can read living writers. I vowed not to read them before I'm forty. I give myself up to forty years old to read all my classics". Unfortunately, a lot of people think like Nick. I don't. I think there are some fine writers that still live today: Jonathan Franzen, William Vollman, Dennis Lehane, James Ellroy and Chuck Palahniuk are five I can throw to you like that, without even thinking. I can also tell you that I loathe Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac & most of Henry James' novels. And I will most likely have a word about what novels you children will read and pass on to future generations.

3. Books survive time for plenty of reasons. You all know I hate the term "classic". It's meaningless and even classical musicians hate it. Books almost never survive a generation because of their content alone. The Count Of Monte Christo is one of those rare occurences where I can think the story has such an universal appeal that everybody will always love it. The Odyssey is another. Some amazing novels never survived heated political climates, some other were forced upon the population through the institutions. Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov's book is a real hit over there. I'm sure you didn't even had an idea of Uzbekistan's president name before I told you.

Take an example. Mein Kampf that book would have been long forgotten if it would have been written by any other given Charlie Chaplin lookalike. Some other writers like Honoré de Balzac or H.P Lovecraft were considered pulp & garbage back in their days, but are revered today. Balzac is renowned for his mastery of description, but what you don't know is that he was paid by the word. He invented those insane description to fill out paper and feed himself. Some of you might choke on their steak while reading this, but in a hundred years, Stephen King will be rememberd as an equivalent to Lovecraft & Edgar Allan Poe. Time gives you a different perspective on things. Let's just hope humanity will forget about Danielle Steele & James Patterson.

4. Literature serves a purpose. One of my teachers told to the class once that literature studies didn't have any purpose and that if you cannot forge your own meaning out of it, you better do something else, like bricklaying. That made the classroom of uppity intellectuals laugh. One of my favorite teachers said that, but I can't agree. I'll go even further, by saying that it's by perpetuating this sort of thinking that we get so much garbage literature and so-called "mass entertainment".

Fiction was always there and always served a very precise purpose. Illustrate a point. How many times your math teacher told you a story to help you understand an abstract idea? "Jamie has five marbles, but Corey punches him and takes three. When Jamie wakes up, he counts his remaining marbles. How many does he have left?" Here's a flash fiction based around a mathematics problem. The more complex and abstract the point, the longer is the story. Every story has a point or at least tries to have one. You don't need Foucault to tell you that, only a little bit of common sense.

5. Literature will never die. Stories will always be written. The medium might change (the kindle will SLOWLY win the book market over, and by slowly I mean twenty to fifty years. It's only logical if you think of the forest and the printing costs), but stories will always be written and published. Even if people find ways to download controlled oniria from one consciousness to another, the words will always hit the paper (or the text software) and be read by somebody else.

The written medium allows mankind to put distance with its thoughts and to materialize them. Thoughts as a material object will never die. It might downsize or upsize with the generations, but it will never, ever end as long as there will be humans. So whenever an asshole calls to the "obsolescence" of literature to sell you a 3D Television or another bullshit technology, smile and flip the bird. It's not going to happen.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Eddie Murphy ft. Rick James - Party All The Time

This is the best song ever recorded in the history of the world. It's so good, it's a song, a meme and an urban legend all at the same time. How many of you even knew Eddie Murphy even had a singing career. Once you've pressed play once, you will do it again and again, it's like an ancient Aztec curse. If every curse could be catchy like this huh?

The best part of Party All The Time is that it's an entity. The song is cool, the video is cool, but put together, it's the most mind-blowing thing you've ever seen. First of all, Eddie Murphy wrote a dance-able song about his girlfriend being a whore and he called it "Party All The Time" of all titles. And the video is absolute genius. Here are all the cool things you can notice.

-Rick James plays in it.

-Eddie Murphy arrives late at his own studio session, but right on time for the hit song to start.

-There's way too many people in the sound booth.

-They're all dancing and having way too much fun.

-One of the musicians in the background looks like a reject extra from a White Snake video.

-Rick James seems like the boss in the booth, but the only thing he does is to play air drums.

-Around 2:25, there's like a very gay/feminine Carlton Banks, dancing

-Rick James is compelled by the power of Eddie holding a note and goes to sing some back vocals.

-Rick James has some mean wig thrusts.

I'm sure I have watch this video over a hundred times in my life, but I can't get enough of it. Neither will you, after you pressed PLAY.

Eddie Murphy ft. Rick James - Party All The Time

GirlI can't understand it why you want to hurt me
After all the things I've done for you.
I buy you champagne and roses and diamonds on your finger -
Diamonds on your finger -
Still you hang out all night
What am I to do?

My girl wants to party all the time

Party all the time
Party all the time.
My girl wants to party all the time
Party all the time.

She parties all the time - party all the time

She likes to party all the time - party all the time

Party all the time - she likes to party all the time

Party all the time.

I've seen you in clubs just hanging out and dancing.
You give your number to every man you see.
You never come home at night because you're out romancing.
I wish you bring some of your love home to me.

But my girl wants to party all the time
. . .
My girl wants to party all the time
. . .

Party she likes to party all the time.
She likes to party all the time -
She lets her hair down
She lets her body down:
She lets her body
She lets her body down.
Party all the time - do you wanna get any party
Party all the time - party all the time.

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Ayn Rand Was On Welfare

Yes, you heard me right. Ayn Rand was on welfare. My co-Rand hater Cynical C found this fascinating article by Patia Stephens. Her piece is not the most well documented, but it's pretty revelatory about Mrs. Objectivism Psycho herself.

Critics of Social Security and Medicare frequently invoke the words and ideals of author and philosopher Ayn Rand, one of the fiercest critics of federal insurance programs. But a little-known fact is that Ayn Rand herself collected Social Security. She may also have received Medicare benefits.

An interview recently surfaced that was conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute with a social worker who says she helped Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, sign up for Social Security and Medicare in 1974.

Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirm the Social Security benefits. A similar FOI request was unable to either prove or disprove the Medicare claim.

Between December 1974 and her death in March 1982, Rand collected a total of $11,002 in monthly Social Security payments. O’Connor received $2,943 between December 1974 and his death in November 1979.

I don't have a problem with the concept of a writer/philosopher being on welfare. It's actually pretty smart and dedicated. If you want to go through your novels with monk Zen and focus, welfare is the way to go. But Ayn Rand didn't like welfare. She thought someone who worked to pile up wealth should be entitled to keep it and not share. And yet, she used the wealth of others for eight years of her life.

Again, I don't have a problem with the idea of Rand getting help to pay her hospital bills. Decrying this would be to fall in her game of hatred. I can point and laugh though. Another hardcore intellectual who built a system she cannot live up to. And yet some people as deranged as her are ready to follow the rules of Objectivism on bloody stumps through the snow. I hate systems, I hate narrow-minded fucking rule sets...and yet, I don't hate Ayn Rand. She was batshit crazy. I only hate those sheepish people who can't use their common sense when reading some philosophy. You can gain knowledge by reading books, but you cannot gain, or buy, or loot common sense. It's something you can only decide to use.

Movie Review : Gacy (2003)



Recognizable Faces:

None (it's a straight-to-DVD movie)

Directed By:

Clive Saunders

There are two kinds of fucked up movies. The first kind makes you yell "OH MY GOD, I AM LOSING MY HUMANITY BY EVEN WATCHING THIS". And it's either good or bad. And there are the movies that make you go: " that even a movie?" Gacy belongs to this category. And it's not in a good way, like a David Lynch movie for example. By watching this movie, I wanted to know a little more about John Wayne Gacy, but I have the feeling that Clive Saunders knew even less than me about the prolific killer.

There only one short scene about Gacy's youth and it's the most ridiculous of the movie. His father John Sr. is at first nice to him, then slaps him and makes fun of his son for no reason. Then it cuts to different scenes of John Wayne Gacy's life as a serial killer. Gacy is a series of non-sequitur scenes about how shitty of a human being he was. There's no attempt whatsoever made to understand the madness or the characters, just one fat & evil homo with handcuffs and a garrote, living in a house crawling with bugs.

Yep, that's the artsy part of Gacy, the house. I think it's supposed to reflect his inner decay or something. I don't doubt that a house where twenty-nine bodies are buried is crawling with maggots and roaches, but to the point of crawling vertically in the plumbing pipes from the basement? I mean c'mon. It's visually and artistically interesting for about fifteen minutes, then the director seem to forget that Gacy eventually did something about the problem. The whole decaying-inside,-inside-his-decaying house trick comes off as a petulant filmmaking trick, lost inside a bad movie.

The acting is terrible, but I'm blaming the director for this. The cops look like outcast from a zombie movie, Gacy's wife is barely talking, the lead investigator is barely on screen and overall, Gacy seems to be rooted for. There's no story arc whatsoever, just a collection of scenes that get gradually more gruesome, but which are overall very mild if you consider where horror movies go these days. The last scene in the house with Tommy is the only one I would qualify of "twisted". I'm no gorehound, but I expected a serial killer movie to challenge me a little more than Gacy did.

There is a it's-so-bad-that-it's-good redeeming factor to Gacy, if you have notions of filmmaking. It's filmed in a drug fueled desperate frenzy that will make you want to throw pop-corn at the screen, while watching with your buddies. Gacy is perfect for a thematic bad movie evening, but avoid it anywhere else.

SCORE: 27%

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thomas Pynchon & Twitter

Hallelujah, the Grand Dooda of Social Networking struck my life again. Apparently, my review of Thomas Pynchon's The Crying Of Lot 49 has made some people talk. A twitterer named Dystopia2009 has taken on him to educate me about Pynchon, one of his favorite writers. He was kind enough to point me to British PhD candidate Martin Eve (also on Twitter @Martin_Eve) who posted this enlightening article on Pynchon and whose suggestions I intend to follow. Meanwhile, you can read this too...

Where To Start With Thomas Pynchon?

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Funny Text Message Conversation With A Friend

So I held this mixed martial arts event last Saturday. In the main event, I booked one of the fighters from my friend's gym. The guy is a little strange, but he can fight. My main event guy won quite easily (which I did not expected), but something was odd about the way my friend's fighter fought. I figured that out from the photos, so I texted my buddy about this. No real names mentionned,just a piece of spontaneous comedy:

Hey man, is Manny a Jesus Freak?

Oh hell yeah, why?

I was just wondering why he had a verse from Letters To Corinthians on his shorts?

Yeah, I know. He got hit too much.

It's the wrong religion for MMA man. You have to be atheist or Muslim.


Is that something new, or he's born like that?

He's like that all year long.

It's not my type to say this, but I think his religion is getting in the way of his hobby.

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Sometimes It's All About The Crew (Yo)

My mother always told me that whenever I ran out of things to say, I could always say a good thing or ten, about somebody else. Since I'm sure you don't want to read another blog about my dog (who's currently sleeping her dog butt off anyway), I thought I'd follow the lead of my co-blogger Claudia Del Balso and introduce you to some of my blogofriends. You might have not made the cut, but in that case, please don't take it personal. I might just put you in there the next time. You might also not blog often or not talk to me enough on Twitter. The more I know a writer, the more I check his(her) blog. Call that...heck, I don't know.

What Red Read
: A great, straightforward, yet eclectic blog about contemporary literary, ran by my favorite red headed blogger. Red blogs about books, literary actuality and about blogging with your own common sense, rather than with a set of rules and ethics. She's one of the many bloggers (and probably the first) who put me in touch with the writings of Bill Bryson.

Literary Musings: Brenna reads like a machine gun and her taste only equal her lack of fear. She tackles various difficult books from various times ,with a down to earth approach, despite the fact that she's a co-literary student. She's also on Twitter (like Red, by the way) and she's a riot to discuss with. One of the big things with bloggers is accessibility.

New Dork Review Of Books: Heavier material for more limber and intellectual readers. Greg Z. is a thinker and he goes the extra-mile to squeeze out what makes a book a classic or what makes it a fraud. If you feel like tuning in the inner book nerd in you, Greg is always up for intellectual fencing on his blog or on Twitter. Oh and warning. He doesn't let you get away with bullshit.

Stay Lit.: Charlie Cornflakes is the new kid in town. He's still a little gun shy with the posts, but he's well-read, witty and he's discussing an array of things that goes around the edges of literature and artistic production (a bit like I do). His posts are nice surprise whenever they pop in my Google Reader.

Some Assembly Required: This one is amazing, but sometimes difficult. John Foley writes is that sort of stream-of-consciousness. It's always very clear what he writes, but his subjects are never really precise. A post starts about something, then drifts from subject to subject, but at the end, you understand there's a conductor thread, sewing the ideas together.

Nowhere Near Normality: No literature there. Philosophy, existential search, truths about human nature. Name it, Mike has probably went over the subject in the past months. Another blogger who only writes when he has something to say and whenever you don't agree with him (sometimes his opinions are razor thin), he'll be happy to discuss it with you in the comments section.

Pens With Cojones: I would kick myself for not mentioning the great Mayowa Atte here. His blog deals with the cold, hard facts of being a writer. It's no manual guide, but rather a collection of writing that talks about the experience and the difficulties of the writing life. It's always a good boost to read his posts when you feel your motivation slipping away.

Writer, Not: You know Adam already for having read the interview I made with him. Like me, he's striving for publication and his blog chronicles the ups and the downs of the querying life. It's as real as it gets. I would recommend to read and to chat with Adam if you want to get a taste of what it is going to be like when you get to that difficult stage.

Claudia Del Balso: She's such a rarity on the blogosphere. Here's somebody who takes time for people and make a ressource out of herself. She knows the industry, she knows writing and her blog has one purpose, help writers. Some of her posts are straightforward advice, but stick with her and she'll be by your side when you need it. I'm always happy to read her posts.

Sanguine Musings: Another war comrade. Dan is a little more self-conscious than I am about post quality (so he posts less), but whenever he had something to say, he makes a point of being clear and thorough about it. No wonder why he's getting showered with blog awards lately, his place is must stop for fellow bloggers.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Engineering The Freak

A while ago, I was talking on the phone with a friend who wanted to convince me into reading Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese? She could not fathom that I had zero interest into reading this book. She claimed she got valuable life lessons from Johnson's tiny tome and she urged me to the bookstore, so I could pick it up and drink to the fountain of Johnson's wisdom, like she did. I told her I had zero interest into life lessons. That I didn't want no freakin' stranger to tell me how to live my life.

"I don't get it" she said. "You're such a crazy, intense reader, why do you even read then?"

A fucking good question. I had no answer right away, which was great for her, because she won her argument and I read the goddamn book. Of course I hated it, but it only furthered my questioning. Why the hell do I read at the first place? I found the answer over time and it makes sense, even if it's not pretty (at least, I like to believe it's not pretty). I don't want anybody to tell me how to live my life. I don't want people to tell me they found the truth. If they did, there's something they didn't understood and that something is exactly why I read.

I'm expecting a hell-lot from a novel. I want it to crush my world and show me that what I perceive from life is just a grain of sand on a beach. I don't mean that in a Carl Sagan kind-of-way, but rather than human beings a limited, but they are a species that try so hard to strive for what's best. In Mystic River, nobody has a life lesson to give. The characters are busy, trying to survive world-shattering drama and not fall into a downward spiral of violence. No one has a definite conclusion. No one is happy at the end, or understood something more about life. They are just happy to be alive and still strive for that unspeakable, undefinable wisdom that will forever escape human nature.

I read because I want to be destroyed and reinvented. I want every novel to be a grain of sand on that beach and make me a better person, as a whole. I don't want a manual of conduct, but I want rather to experience reading. I want it to shape me through the relationship I have with it and not through a simple set of rules, written by a self-sufficient individual that has a vision of life narrower than mine (including here Spencer Johnson, Paolo Coelho...and..this guy). It's a process that take time, dedication and reflexion. I have came to realize that I am an extremely demanding reader. Maybe that's why I progress through my own fiction at a snail's pace. Literary Bushido Freak might not be such a lighthearted name for me then. Might be just accurate enough to describe my relationship to written fiction.

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The Science Of Love

On Monday, I watched a movie called TiMER, which was so bad, that I'm not going to bother to review it. It was so bad that Josie, our temporary roommate Annecy and myself, took relays watching it. We all watched parts of it, but none of us was able to sit through the painful hour and forty-something minutes it lasted. One positive point was that the movie brought back to me the very interesting topic of love versus science.

Have you ever noticed that every time sciences takes a shot at explaining the biologic process behind love, it becomes oh-so-lame? So, love is the secretion of hormone X, when you meet another person that oozes of hormone Y. Then your body sends an electric impulse to your brain that this person might be a good breeder. That's more or less what happens in your body when you fall in love. Have you noticed the same thing than I did? It doesn't explain anything at all. It doesn't explain why you fall in love with certain people more than the other (as I know every person functions differently) and what does trigger this electrical signal. It's not written in the sky what kind of hormone somebody projects. It's not in their posture, in their eyes or in the curves of their body.

Philosopher Thomas Kuhn wrote in 1962 a great little piece of anthology called The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions, which takes a peak at the subject from an historical perspective. Without spreading myself in philo-scientifical explanation, let's say that Kuhn came in with an interesting image that embodies the history of sciences. Picture a circle. Within the circle is everything that is known and explainable by mankind. It's the paradigm of science. Whatever is outside this circle is witchery, scientific mystery and enigma. A scientific revolution happens each time the circle stretches and the paradigm of science becomes bigger. In order to catch the element outside the circle, there's a lot more things to discover and to include.

Love is still outside the circle. The biological consequences of love aren't. We secret hormones when we're in love. Big deal. I compare this to the mysteries of life. No one knows why we're alive and better yet, no one knows why we've been longing for love for so long. My favorite answer lies in that Greek myth I forgot the name of. The myth says that men and women were a single entity before. They were separated by a curse, and since then, both halves are condemned to look for each other. Some succeed to find their missing, better half, other will roam the land with this feeling of vague unfulfillment.

Some mysteries are best left out of the equation. One day we'll know what triggers lightning, but I hope it is in the wake of even better discoveries, which will make us rise above of human need. We're bound to get better, more refined, or to simply being wiped out. For now, I like that love stays a mystery. Hormone secretions and electrical impulses all you want, the main electrical impulse of love is invisible and happens in between two people when they meet. In french he have this expression coup de foudre which roughly translate at thunder strike, that happens when two people fall in love at the same time.

There is still magic. The universe is still a lot greater than the human mind and it's better like that.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 10 Books I Wish I'd Have Read As A Child

Broke & Bookish (I like to think of them as entities) are back with a vengeance. Another great top 10 idea this week. There are a lot of books that would have made my life less complicated if I had read them as a child. Mainly, it would have allowed me to find more decent male archetypes to mold my understanding of life on. Here's what I think would have saved me a lot of teen angst. I included in here what I wish I had read from Zero to Sixteen years old.

1-The Count Of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas: Or at least a simplified version of it. I wanted to read it for as long as I can remember, but the sheer page count turned me off until 2009. Edmon Dantès has a very important lesson to teach. No matter how trapped you feel by your present, the important is to take action against it.

2-The Star Wars novels: Whenever I walk even remotely close to the Science-Fiction aisle in my bookstore, there are ugly, flaccid people with pony tails, bad skin and irritable temper storming around the Star Wars collections. Since I don't live in the past, I leave those novels to people who don't completely live in the present.

3-V For Vendetta by Alan Moore: Great graphic novel about individuality. It's OK to not do whatever the others are doing if you think it's shitty. Great example for kids, yet somewhat violent tale of retribution.

4-Harry Potter series by J. K Rowling: Yep, I said that. Taking responsibility for your actions and who you are has became something rare in Occidental society. I'm promoting whatever promotes it. Great series for children.

5-The Odyssey by Homer: It's the grandfather of tales of manly badassness. The Iliad is a lot more complex, adult and geared towards oral representation. It's like Indiana Jones B.C

6-Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: Why, oh why didn't I read this by the time I was sixteen? It was out already. Young enough to be appealing. Mature enough to make my sixteen years old self think.

7-Dragonball Manga Series by Akira Toriyama: A bit of the same than Harry Potter, just a little more rubbish and 7-12 years old in its execution. Makes for killer childhood memories. Memories I don't have since I watched the T.V series at 25 years old.

8-The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler: It's somewhat of an easy read and it's the quintessential P.I. Reading this in a young age would have made me a neurotic kid (it was inevitable), but I also would have been spare some catching up in my twenties.

9-The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien: I was always mystified by kids who read those (first time I saw a classmate read this book, I was in sixth grade). I wish I had read them sooner, so I could have told people it's not all that. It's certainly an interesting tale of fate...but I don't know...wizards and all. Not my thing.

10-Ghost In The Shell Series by Masamune Shirow: I would have been the coolest kid on the block with that book under my arm, retelling the story of humanity's tormented future to my friend. Unfortunately, it waited until my twneties.

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Orwellian, Orwellian, Orwellian!

I know, it's overused, but it's so much fun to say. Rolls right off your tongue. Orwellian. Sometimes I feel that poor, over-quoted George Orwell wasn't so imaginative after all, but peaked out of the window on a Monday morning and wrote down what he saw. Wouldn't it be strange to look at yourself on tape, waking up, eating, going to work, silently droning through your day, going home, killing some hours and then going to bed? I'm sure it's a creepy portrait. Also, I'm not sure I want to know how many hours a day, in average, that we spend in our mind, trying to escape boredom. Get an old-school writer to make a story about your average day at work and it will read a bit like 1984.

One of the artifacts of decadence that tipped me off is the media coverage of John Travolta's new baby. I'm not the biggest into celebrity culture, but I have my shortcomings. I worship Clint Eastwood, Dennis Lehane and a few other manly artists. I was looking for the scary magazine cover Travolta made of the last Paris Match number this morning, to explain my point, but I found out something even scarier than what I first wanted to say. Every magazine cover Travolta made with his wife and his new baby looks exactly the same. They are dressed in white, crammed into the frame with fake smiles and the cover makes an allusion to "joy" or "happiness".

The Match cover is by far the tackiest though. The tagline reads: "Travolta: The Happiness Clan". Who the fuck are they trying to fool here? Is it the image we're trying to worship? A scientologist, dressed in white, who made his wife give birth in complete silence and who's face is crumbling under the weight of many plastic surgeries? I wish people could be as pissed off as I am in front of this "icon". What does a decadent square-jawed idiot with a funky religion has more than me? A mansion? No worries about money? Here's a guy who's made like four good movies in his life (and I'm being generous), is most famed for being a dick and yet...

...Yet people drone their way to work in the subway station, with dull eyes and sheepish posture, dreaming of someday be on a magazine cover like him. They stop at a regular pace at the newspaper stand and buy this garbage. They buy a way to escape their lives. But the most time they try to escape the slow thud of the everyday hustle, the more they're trapped in it. I'm not sure Travolta himself reads those magazine. He gives a quick glance to the cover at best, judging whether he gave his best profile or not.

Organized religion was shown the door in Occident about fifty years ago, but it's not so easy to replace something so deeply engraved in out DNA, such as worship. We still have ceremonies devoted to icons, but the temple is now called TMZ. Adepts are making lines for autographs, the device that replaces communions. They go home, with a little piece of their icon, head in the sky, dreaming to be somebody else. Worship never left. It has now a human face.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Moist - Resurrection

Moist is from Montreal. They were a rare breed, a respectable alternative rock band. Nowadays, alternative rock is another name for sellout. It used not to be always like this. Moist (well, mainly their frontman David Usher) had this presence and this tormented, unique music. They mellowed down and fell apart as they got more popular, David Usher turned into this Mile End Session man and he started to sing (boring) folk rock songs. He wasn't the driving force behind the band's rock tone, that's for sure. Their first album was more intense, but here's Resurrection, for which I have a soft spot. It's from their second album Creatures.

Moist -Resurrection

Ive been drowned out by the rain
Still I’m wishing I could stay
But I’m sorry my old friend
I’ve got to leave you once again
And despite what I might say
I measure pleasure by the pain
Measure pleasure by the twisting
Of the metal in the vein
And it might be very hard
Can’t be more than what we are
Can’t be more ’til it’s over
Here comes the resurrection
Everybodys got to die from something
Nothing ever left to leave you when you go
I saw you strip my babies
Animal the way you cut them might be
Animal the way I cut you from below
So you goad me into spite
It’s the cruelty that you’d like
It’s the waiting for the one thing
That you never could define
Fill the longing just because
Emasculate the ones you love
Have to wait ’til it’s over
We are the less than mighty
Never was a way I thought it could be
Never quite enough to leave you when you go
I saw you strip my babies
Animal the way you cut them might be
Animal the way I cut you from below
I’ve been drowned out by the rain
Still I’m wishing I could stay
But I’m sorry my old friend
I’ll have to leave you once again
And despite what I might say
I measure pleasure by the pain
Measure pleasure by the twisting
Of the metal in the vein
And it might be very hard
Can’t be more than what we are
Can’t be more ’til it’s over
Here comes the resurrection
Everybody wants to die for something
Never thought I’d live to leave you when you go
I saw you strip my babies
Animal the way you cut them might be
Animal the way we caught you from below
And if anger is the ending
Of the thing that we’ve become
For the mother and the father
And the sister and the son
Through the shallow without wanting
Realization to mistake
Through the ugliness
The open
All the things we can’t replace
I will control
I will control
I will control
I will control
I will control
I will control
I will control

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The Write Mood

It's been a few weeks since I've been preoccupied by something smart or vaguely intellectual. Blistering cold, a cold and a bottle of Nyquil have taken upon themselves to pull the plug on my mind. I should be preoccupied by my lack of preoccupation, but I'm not. During the last two weeks I have written fifteen pages of some of the best stuff I've ever done. Nyquil is a powerful way to streamline things up in my brain, but unfortunately for me, it's also a very addictive substance.

I have been mulling my story over in my brain so much, that now that now that I'm droning to the computer screen every morning, I'm in excellent shape to write. It's a conditioned reflex. I know the characters so well I'm just hammering away and giving them life with my words. I'm still a little preoccupied with the content of Dead End Follies, but I finished my bottle of medication yesterday night, so things should return to normal in a few days. Gone will be the automatic writing about the atrocious cold.

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Tribulations In Eskimo Land

If you're dumb enough to step outside and take a deep breath, tough luck. Your nostrils are going to close up via bodily mechanics of self-defense against the cold. One week later things are getting worse, it's minus forty Celcius. It's hard to describe city life when the weather shits the bed like this. It's hard enough to have a life inside a giant fridge.

There's nobody outside, except for smokers, who slave over their addictions and curse the decision they took to pick up smoking when they were teens. Strangely enough, they're not alone. Siberian weather also brings out the occasional winter nut. He's easy to recognize. He (or she) is weather a full winter suit (the kind used for snowmobile rides), he's running in the street thanking god for cold weather and swearing that it's what Canada has best to offer. In parties, he's also the guy that traveled, that ate in restaurants that you don't even know, but at minus forty, he's also prone to get run over by cars (for a wide array of reasons).

Believe it or not, I left the comfort of my apartment yesterday. I succumbed to the demon of consumerism and rode the subway to Chapters for a little bookshopping. Picked up Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman and White Jazz by James Ellroy. I've been craving some Ellroy for a while now, but he's going to the bottom of my TBR pile. It's just good to know that it's there in case I have an urge to read him. Heard a lot about White Jazz, so I'm pumped up.

Winter is strange. It makes strange people out of us Canadians. I am conscious it's because of winter we don't get many dangerous animals around and we don't get hurricanes like people down in Florida or New Orleans, but it's a painful ill nonetheless. I want to wall up in my apartment with Josie, Scarlet, food and entertainment. I want to look at the world from the frozen window of my living room and work on my judgmental hermit persona. I have no doubt it induced depression in the most northern regions of the world, where the warmer it gets is ten degrees Celcius. I better go hit the net or I will run out of things to say by the end of February. Oh and...

Fuck Winter.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Morning Utilitarian Communication

It's been an awful, awful week at work. We support a new software and the integration is brutal. The training for users has been minimal and they seem more interested to call and whine than to understand how it works. Anyway, the good news is that it didn't stop me from writing. I finished rewriting chapter 4 and started chapter 5. Five pages in all. I'm happy, considering the volume of work I had to chomp down at the same time, but mainly, I'm glad I passed a psychological milestone.

See, it's easy to finish a chapter and take an unnecessary pause. I knew what I wanted to do with chapter 5, so I'm happy that I started it right away, without taking unneeded distance. The amount of work was more symbolic than productive, but this week will be smoother and I'm expecting to do mow down a lot of pages next week. I'm pumped and I'm clear headed, which is a good thing, especially after a Fight Quest.

Yep, there was one of those yesterday, that's how I found the way to stay silent on here for a whole twenty-four hours. Eleven fights and only three went the distance. In sixteen events, it was as brutal as I can remember. Stoppages, submissions, injuries even. It was all done in respect and martial arts mentality, so it's cool. It's just that the kids were on fire.

It's Sunday, it's cold outside and it's a day of rest from a rock n' roll week. Because tomorrow I clock in again.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Mass Effect 2 Diaries - Ouverture

Video games and I often do the seduction dance. It's usually a big expense for the size of my wallet(59,99$ new), so corporate hype and fanboys don't cut it for me. It has to have something more. When I played Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood last December, I was satisfied with the game overall, but I had to work trough a series of frustrating situations to get enjoyment. The implementation of the percentage system for the memory synchronization stripped a lot of the freedom I enjoyed about the game. Brotherhood conquered me in workmanlike fashion, but I was ready to leave it for a more interesting muse.

Then Mass Effect 2 came and the story took a different turn.

I have barely even played yet and I can already tell you, this game is rubbing me the right way. Not only, it doesn't bother including skill-based rewards in their storyline, but they also got one capital thing right. Mass Effect 2 empowers the gamers and makes them feel like what they do matters. The majority of gamers are middle class people who will work all their lives as a peon in a greater system. It's nice to have a recreation mean where you feel like you have a say in how things will happen.

A video game that allows me to be a bad-ass space cowboy who's the last hope for humanity excites my gamer sense. Yes, it's Hollywoodian and yes it wouldn't be very interesting as a movie or a novel. But it empowers me as a gamer and being able to kick ass, with all that weight on my shoulders. Believable characters are nice to read about, but when I want to escape reality for the virtual world. I don't want to be believable. Maybe have a believable struggle, but the most important part is to have power over it.

Tonight I will play Mass Effect 2 some more and I can't wait.

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Movie Review : Brick (2005)



Recognizable Faces:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Meagan Good

Directed By:

Rian Johnson

I watched Brick for what? Seven, eight times now? It's a movie I never get bored of, so I gave it another watch last Sunday morning. It's such a good Sunday morning movie anyway. It's also a good Friday night and a good Wednesday afternoon movie. You get my point, it's fucking awesome. But what is it exactly? Brick is a contemporary noir movie, set in a high school environment. Before even watching the movie, it started with a huge upside in my mind. Everybody can be rotten, old, young, poor, rich. slum dog or uptight suburban. Everybody. I was very happy that a movie finally had the balls to tackle this.

Our anti-hero is Brandon Frye (Gordon-Levitt), an broken hearted, early misanthrope, obsessing over his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin). Originally, she dumped Brandon's ass because she couldn't bear the social stigma of being associated with Mr. Loathing, but her vulnerability and her need to connect will drive her to hang around with the wrong crew. And Brandon knows these people very well because he used to have a drug operation. He went clean because of Emily, only to see her fall to the very people he was trying to shield her from. Emily get brutally murdered and Brandon is determined to know why so he can at least sleep at night.

Brick plays on two levels, which makes it so flavorful. Yes, it's a noir movie, but it's also a movie that trashed the conventions of the teen genre. The jocks are pushovers, the cute and wide eyed girl is a poisonous vixen, the after school projects are cover up for a drug affair. Brick has an anger and a melancholy to it that sets it apart from the crowd. It's a movie at war with its time and with the loss of serious in teenage drama. High school, for many, is not the friendly cakewalk that Hollywood likes to portrait and Rian Johnson portrays this with enough truth to make it visceral and enough noir to keep fun and lean.

I can't recommend Brick enough. No matter what I say, it's a movie that need to be experienced first. It's not perfect, the plot is very complex and the dialog doesn't do it justice. You have to watch it several times if you want to understand it in it's entirety. The characters are a bit stereotype, but they are made to fit the conventions of noir and they do. Watch it. It will blow you away. If you're a fan of noir like me, it will sweep you off your feet.

SCORE: 95%

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Book Review : Dave Eggers - Zeitoun (2009)

Country: USA

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Pages: 325

I picked up Zeitoun for a very precise purpose. I went through a series of extremely depressing books about extremely depressing people in December and I thought I owed myself a little break from the Prozac League. The story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun is uplifting in many ways, but like any living soul who put his physical comfort aside to help the others, he ran into problems with the authorities. Well, you know, that whole Katrina debacle where everybody and their dog that were still in New Orleans after the flood got booked in by the police for looting. Even the most benevolent soul can be accused of terrorism.

The book is physically separated in five or six books, but there are two stories going on. The transcendental experience of Zeitoun after the flood, where he camps on his roof, takes care of abandoned dogs and paddles around the city in his aluminium canoe, trying to make himself useful to people in need. And then there's the story of the post-Katrina mess, where people are randomly arrested and booked in without medical attention, without a phone call, booked in a maximum security prison and left out of existence. Abdulrahman Zeitoun stayed for twenty days at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, but his companions stayed for five, six and even eight months, prisoners of the very system that was supposed to protect them.

The story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun is touching, fascinating and infuriating in parts, but what I thought was the most striking point of Zeitoun is the portrait that Dave Eggers draws of the Bush-era America. It's obvious that Eggers loves his country. During the first part of the novel, the life of Zeitoun is portrayed, a hardworking but very successful businessman from New Orleans, who's living the American dream. He's Arabic in the post-9/11 era, he's a good person and he's living a great life. When tragedy strikes, he's the first to help within the limits of his means. Zeitoun made a difference in his own little way.

But America had another face under the Bush administration. It was scared of the unknown and scared of change. The Katrina disaster was a bad time to roam outside the boundaries of the system. If you refused evacuation like Zeitoun did, even if it's to pursue selfless goal, then you're on the other side of the law. "Or you're with us, or you're against us" George W. Bush once said. Zeitoun is ultimately another testimony of the consequences of institutional disinterest. Help was hurried to New Orleans. Private contractors and volunteers were left to figure it all out for themselves.

Dave Eggers is a talented writer. His style is spare and his tenderness in front of the cataclysm that was Katrina, in his way to portrait the survivors, he was able to draw me into the surreal world of his novel. Surreal world that was New Orleans after disaster struck. Zeitoun will shed a new light on a tragedy which people don't know the magnitude of. It had documentary value as well as a literary charm. It's not the literary epic that will move you and change your life, but it's nonetheless worthy of your attention

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review : Aaron Philip Clark - The Science Of Paul (2011)

If you want to give a try to this amazing novel, head up here

Country: USA

Genre: Literary/Noir

Pages: 225

There should be more novels like The Science Of Paul. That means more MFA graduates should get into crime fiction. I opened Aaron Philip Clark’s first novel, torn between a slight dread and an apologetic approach, which were both completely unnecessary. It’s been a while since I have read a noir novel that packed such a punch. Hell, it’s been a while since I have read a writer’s first novel that was this good. The Science Of Paul crawled under my skin with the slow and methodic approach of a medieval executioner. And I love every single minute of it.

Like the title announces, it’s the story of Paul, Paul Little, an ex-convict who decides to start a new life on his grand-father estate after he inherits of it. But if you lived a life of crime, it’s not easy to put the past behind and get away. His hometown of Philadelphia, like an abusive mother, doesn’t want to let him go. As he plans his escape to his grandfather’s farm in North Carolina, Paul’s good side is going to catch up to him. Karma is a bitch for ex-professional sinners like him.

The Science Of Paul is written in a first person point-of-view, which is a stylistic choice that Clark uses very well, but isn’t without its drawbacks. It’s obviously a character based novel, focused on Paul’s battle with his inner demons and in that regard, it’s remarkably well achieved. His tortured relationships with women is particularly well crafted. His fatalistic views about love give Paul some humanity and put him ahead of all those cardboard characters that you see more often than not in noir fiction.

It’s uneven and overwritten sometimes, which are two traps you can fall in when you write a novel at the first person. For example, I doubt that a jailbird like Paul, no matter how much of an intellectual he is (because he is an intellectual, he reads Hume and gains a good grasp of it), I doubt he’d ever be poetic enough to see a cigarette hanging “loose and defiant” from his girlfriend’s lip. There are some pacing problems in the beginning also, but forty pages in, they disappear as the plot starts to unravel.

Aaron Philip Clark kept me on my toes and kept his novel glued to my hands for the whole two hundred and twenty five pages it lasts. The Science Of Paul is a high minded crime novel about the issues of American street culture, but has enough gusto to keep any hardcore crime readers hooked. It’s a little short and straightforward in its development, but it definitively puts Aaron Philip Clark on the map. Read it if you like literary novels, read it if you like crime novels. If you like both, then read it right now.

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Literary Blog Hop Part 9: The Stupidest Academic Classic

My entry in this week's Literary Blog Hop. If you want to participate, hurry over to The Blue Bookcase to read the rules.

This week's question is....Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

So many of you know by now that I have a master degree in comparative literature and that my feelings toward this piece of paper are mitigated, to say the least. The classes has zero format, but the thinking sure did. It was a celebration of many writers that had nothing to do with literature, regurgitated by teachers who wanted to be philosophers, historians or straight up somebody else. I persevered in this because I didn't know what else to do (the ill of my generation, I know). I'm still not sure, but my future is not in an University, that I can tell.

The pinnacle of this joke what when I was made to read "The Year Of The Death Of Ricardo Reis" by Jose Saramago, for a class named "Literature & Ethnicity". First, I fucking hate Jose Saramago. The man has good ideas (insert "Blindess" here), but the way he writes is so self-sufficient that I have a hard time finishing his books. "...Ricardo Reis" is a 368 atrocity, written is blocks if 40 pages, without any sort of punctuation. No paragraphs, no defined chapters, only block of texts with only periods and comas. It's unbearable.

But Saramago found a way to make it somewhat the least of "The Year Of The Death Of Ricardo Reis"' problems.

What a horrible title.

I'm sure everyone of you is asking themselves "Who the fuck is Ricardo Reis anyway?" That's where it starts to get ugly. Ricardo Reis is the alter ego of a Brazilian poet named Fernando Pessoa. He used more than eighty pseudonym during his lifetime, but Ricardo Reis is one of the most known along with: Alberto Caeiro and Alvaro De Campos. Did you need to know that this morning? Probably not. You need to know it when you read Saramago's book though. So in "...Ricardo Reis" Ricardo Reis comes back to Portugal, because that's where he's from. And that's about it. He roams in the street for almost four hundred pages. APPARENTLY, if you've read Pessoa and you happen to be a Portugese man in exile, this makes a whole lot of sense. The symbolism is supposed to be stunning.

I'm a Canadian male with no intention to go to Portugal anytime soon. So did I understand anything of that novel? No. To me, it was a boring piece of shit, with horrible punctuation and a man wasting his fucking time. I'm just talking about it and I'm getting pissed off out of my mind. Of course, if you happen to be a masochistic book scholar, you can spend years of your life analyzing the symbolism of a man stuck up on his own intellectuality. But I don't. I am confident in saying that "The Year Of The Death Of Ricardo Reis" is useless for humanity.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top 10 Most Inspirational Characters In Fiction

So I can participate again. The Broke & The Bookish made another top 10 that doesn't revolve around reading resolution. But since I need my bookshelf to brainstorm again, my Top 10's are back on Wednesday, where I work from home.

My Top 10 Most Inspirational Characters

1-Edmond Dantès from Alexandre Dumas' Count Of Monte-Christo: He's the prime example of whatever happens to you, if you stay smart and rational, you will have the chance to exert a terrible vengeance on those who caused you harm.

2-Jimmy Markum from Dennis Lehane's Mystic River
: A tortured character that finds the strength to act and do what he thinks is best for everybody and not only best for him. Ill fated or not, I live to read about people like Jimmy.

3-Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: He's at the root of the self-made man myth. Written as the USA was leaving the Far-West era, hist struggle to reinvent himself for the woman he loves struck a nerve with me.

4-Subject #42 from David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men: Subject #42 lives with a racism that buried most of his family members, including a father who accepted his condition with dignity in order to raise him. His effort to recall and understand have the strength to carry a whole novel.

5-Toru Okada from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles: It's a long and thick novel, but throughout, Toru Okada will gain a sense of who he is and a purpose to his life. He's a troubling, yet uplifting and courageous character in this maze of a novel.

6-Kilgore Trout from Kurt Vonnegut's fiction: OK, he's barely fiction. He's Vonnegut's own deus ex machina. I just get a special kick out of this old and grumpy writer who stumbles upon the mess he created.

7-Tom Hagen from Mario Puzo's The Godfather: Survivor, fierce advisor of Don Corleone and loyal as a mutt. Tom is my favorite Puzo character. I can only admire his strength and his rationality.

8-Mizoguchi from Yukio Mishima's Temple Of The Golden Pavilion: Because sometimes it's the struggle that is beautiful. Fiction characters that live up to their aesthetics standards, even against all odds, make be happy to be a reader and mostly, make me want to sit behind my keyboard and write.

9-Sangamon Taylor from Neal Stephenson's Zodiac: I have a passion for those characters to live for a cause with such grace and self-abandon.

10-Amanda McCready from Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile: Amanda is a tragic character. She takes on herself to change fate. She's young, idealist and beautifully darkened.

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