June 24, 2004
Well knock me over with a feather
Via Big Fat Blog:
According to a piece by Susanna Rodell in the Tallahassee Democrat, poverty and obesity often accompany one another.
No, really? What's the matter with those fat people? Jeez. Don't they know if they just buy diet books (in bookstores that, according to Rodell, they never ever go to) and pay for personal trainers they can all be thin?
Rodell starts with the obvious and moves on to the offensive. Rich people are all obsessed with dumb fad diets (Atkins, I'm looking in your direction) and poor people are all fat slobs who live in trailer parks and spend all their time at Wal-Mart. She even, God help us, looks wistfully back to the good old days when "poor folks were lean and hard, physically toughened by labor and privation." I can't remember the last time I saw such a collection of fat stereotypes (and really, classist stereotypes as well) in one place outside of a Comedy Central TV show.
As annoyed as I am? Email her.
June 22, 2004
Dead language? Says who?
There's also a version in Latin.
When they print your books in dead languages, that's how you know you've made it.
June 17, 2004
I will not go to bed before 9:00 pm. I will not go to bed before 9:00 pm. I will not go to bed before 9:00 pm. I will not go to bed before 9:00 pm.
So very tired.
June 13, 2004
Weekend and archetypes
It's been a busy weekend, but not overly so. Our new house has arrived, but as of this writing, hasn't been placed on our lot yet. Right now it's sitting in two pieces on an empty side street. On Saturday, my mom, my aunt, my uncle, and I all went over there and peeked in the windows like the rednecks we are. It's gorgeous, and I can't wait to see it set up in place.
I spent a large part of the rest of Saturday car shopping. I've been looking for a while, but Saturday was my first chance to actually go test drive something in my price range. I realized that I've been driving my car, a 1996 Escort LX, for longer than any other car I've ever owned. I got it when it was new, and I've driven all but a handful of the 93,000 miles that are on it. Now that I'm seriously looking at replacing it, I'm getting a little sentimental. However, the current front-runner as a replacement is a steel blue 2000 Mercury Sable with 24,000 miles on it. I'll find out tomorrow what my payments would be and how much insurance will run. If it's reasonable enough, I may be driving a new(er) car by tomorrow night. That's kinda scary.
Then Saturday evening, I went to see the new Harry Potter movie. I'd been warned by several people, so I wasn't too surprised by my reaction to the now-pubescent kids. Walking out of the theatre, I was analyzing why so many grown women are drawn to a 14 year old boy, and I think I may have stumbled on to part of the reason why--and it's not the most obvious answer.
This has happened to me before, but it's always been characters in books. There's a certain type of character I've seen over and over that always pulls at my heartstrings. For lack of a better term, I'll call him the Questing Boy. He's a good boy, a brave boy (and interestingly almost always a handsome boy), ranging in age from about 11 to 14, usually right on the cusp of puberty and all the self-awareness that entails, physical, emotional and spiritual. He's almost an answer to Peter Pan: he has no choice but to grow up, and face things that no adult would be expected to face and survive. Almost always, it's up to him to save the world or accomplish some other equally huge task with almost no adult assistance, and often with adult interference. The grown ups don't understand, and the kids are the only ones that can help.
Harry Potter, particularly as he starts to mature and particularly as he's presented in the latest movie, fits the archetype. Elliot from E.T. comes to mind. Stephen King practically lives in the land of the Questing Boy: Jack Sawyer from The Talisman (the first of the sort I remember noticing), Jake Chambers from The Dark Tower, Stuttering Bill from It, Chris and Gordy from The Body (but especially Chris), Prince Peter from Eyes of the Dragon (although Peter grows up, something the Questing Boy rarely does with any success--see Black House, with a grown up Jack Sawyer, for example). Ray Bradbury plays around with the idea as well in Something Wicked This Way Comes. (There's an argument to be made for classifying Peter Jackson's hobbits--PJ's as opposed to Tolkien's--in this category as well, despite the actors being adults.)
The Questing Boy is the ideal boy. Men, I would imagine, based on King's own statements on the subject, see him as the boy they wish they'd been, the boy they want their sons to be. For women it seems to be more complex than that. Because there is an element of pubescent coming of age involved, and because our Boy is usually so handsome, there's an uncomfortable sense of cradle-robbing verging on pedophilia. This is what I've heard a lot of with the latest HP movie, and in fact dealt with myself. However, I don't think any of us are so much considering child molestation as we are idly wishing to be 10-15 years younger. Instead of seeing the Questing Boy as the person we wish we'd been, we see him as the boy we wish we'd had a crush on. The Questing Boy is a hard character not to love, and it can be a little disconcerting. I think there's also a maternal element coming through as well, at least for those of us of a certain age, a desire to protect and keep safe. So we're drawn to someone we wish we'd known, or to the son we wish we could have.
Of course, now that I've identified the archetype for myself, I really wonder if I could write about him, if I could write a story about the Questing Boy. Maybe.
(Another random thought: Considering Cuaron's penchant for making movies about unsettling sexuality, I have to wonder how much the discomfort so many of us are experiencing is deliberate on his part.)
June 06, 2004
What a difference a year makes
It's the Tony Awards again. Hugh Jackman hosting again, only with short hair now. I'm not cranky this year. There seems to be a little more originality in the shows this year. I'm not about to get any utilities turned off. In fact, I may be about to buy a new car.
It's been a good weekend. A wonderful weekend, in fact. Lots of good stuff going on. I read a lot (I'm sure I'll get around to posting entries about that over in the reading journal, if I don't get distracted by Hugh Jackman in a kick-line), saw friends--and didn't fall asleep by 9 on Saturday.
I did a lot of thinking today, especially with watching the news about the D-Day anniversary and Ronald Reagan's death. I never liked Ronald Reagan's politics--I guess I must've been a budding liberal pinko even as a little kid--but it feels a little like I lost an uncle or something, a distant uncle, one I sort of remember from childhood but was never very close to.
Tonight on the news they were broadcasting from one of the American WWII cemeteries over in France, and Mom mentioned she thought one of her uncles, my grandfather's brother, had been buried over there. My great-grandfather had refused to bring him home because, he said, "It might not even really be him they send back to us." She didn't know where he was buried, couldn't even remember where he died, or when. I idly mentioned I might be able to find something online. Five minutes later, after searching the American Battle Monuments Commission website, I found this (which I can't link to):
Luther D. Bostain
Private First Class, U.S. Army
180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division
Entered the Service from: Kentucky
Died: March 17, 1945
Buried at: Plot F Row 15 Grave 15
Lorraine American Cemetery
St. Avold, France
Awards: Purple Heart
My mom didn't know her uncle had won a Purple Heart. We don't know who has it, if anybody does. I feel like I stumbled on a little piece of history hidden in our family. All this, after five minutes searching the internet. I should remember this, the next time I rant about the internet as a vast wasteland.