Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Choke-Chuck Palahniuk

I'm writing this assuming you've read the novel, so there are spoilers.

This was the first work by Palahniuk that I've read, and I wasn't terribly impressed.  It wasn't a bad novel, there was just one thing that bothered me from the beginning of the book until the end.  Palahniuk's attempt at making the narrator and other characters speak like a typical twenty-something young adult seemed so artificial and forced that it distracted me from the story.  After only a few chapters, I came across more uses of "for serious" than I have in my entire life.  It may seem like a minor flaw, but for me, it took away from the reading experience.

That's not to say it was a bad piece of literature.  The supporting characters were well developed, especially Victor's mother and Denny.  For me, Victor served as a means to hear about those two characters because I did not find him as interesting.  The reasons behind his sex addiction weren't as interesting to me as the things going on mentally with the mother and Denny.  Mrs. Mancini was obviously suffering from mental problems way before she ever wound up in that nursing home.  I'm no psychologist, but her paranoia was evident from the first memories of her presented to the reader (schizophrenia?).  An interesting question, considering her mentally degraded state by the end of the story, is whether her memory of stealing Victor from another woman is true or not.  Given her problems, it could very well be true.  But then, why go through all the trouble of constantly kidnapping him from his various foster homes.  Again, that could be explained by her mental issues.  Just a thought worth considering.

Denny may have been my favorite character.  It was interesting to see his process of dealing with his addiction.  Just as it seemed he had simply replaced his excessive masturbation with an excessive collection of rocks, he revealed that he planned to build something with all those rocks.  And when, thanks to Victor, it was destroyed, he wasn't even upset.  For him, it truly was all about the process.  Which, from my limited understanding of addiction recovery, seems to be the basis of 12 step programs: a journey, not a destination.

I felt Dr. Marshall was a disappointment.  Having her turn out to be a patient the entire time, for me, is too similar to telling some crazy, unbelievable story and then have the main character wake up and the audience realizes it was just a dream the whole time.  Pretty cliche (for example, Shutter Island did the same thing).

Victor's main function seemed to be talking about other characters in the story.  I didn't find him to be all that interesting on his own.  He struck me as fairly stock, seeking out casual sex to avoid a real relationship and the pain of losing someone.  Furthermore, the whole idea of pretending to choke to extort money from his pseudo-savior was so far-fetched that it also distracted me from the story itself.  Every time it was mentioned in the story, I would stop and think to myself, "Who the hell would actually keep giving money to some moocher who they saved from choking?  Isn't saving someone's life enough?"

All in all, I'll give it a 3 out of 5.

Four Loko Gets No Love

Nine kids at a party at Central Washington University were hospitalized with "symptoms of life-threatening overdose or intoxication" whose BAC "ranged from 0.12 percent to 0.35 percent" (death is possible at 0.30%-0.39%), apparently after drinking too much Four Loko.

The article from AOLNews called Four Loko the "culprit" in this situation, ignoring the fact that it was these kids (many of whom were underage) drinking more than they could handle that got them in a hospital.  That's like a kid without a license dying in a car accident and blaming the car.  Everyone likes to talk about how bad the drinks are and call for a ban of such drinks (or at least those stupid doctors and buzzkill old people) as if other alcoholic drinks are good for you.  Would it really be any better to drink 12 beers instead of a few Four Loko?  Granted, Four Loko has caffeine and typical drinks don't.  But that just means you need to not be an idiot when you drink it.  Which also happens to apply to all alcoholic drinks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

This Is Why I Hate Hollywood

Mel Gibson was supposed to have a cameo in The Hangover 2, but was cut after director Todd Phillips’ said that he “did not have the full support of my entire cast and crew".  Specifically, Zach Galifianakis said, "I’m in a deep protest right now with a movie I’m working on, up in arms about something".  Regardless of how much influence Galifianakis alone has on production, this incident is a perfect example of Hollywood activism.

While those involved with The Hangover 2 apparently had major issues with Gibson's history of prejudice, no one had any qualms about working with a convicted rapist in the first film.  Say what you will about Tyson having did his time and paid his dues and all that, but you can bet that the only reason his cameo wasn't rejected was because the rape occurred so long ago that most people don't automatically associate Tyson and rape.  For Gibson, that isn't the case.  His controversies are still fresh in the public's mind.  I'm not condoning either of their actions, I just want to point out the hypocrisy of the whole thing.

I've read some people also saying that the cast and crew of the first Hangover didn't have enough control over the first film to demand Tyson be fired.  First of all, there is no record of anyone associated with the film having a problem working with Tyson.  In fact, Cooper said in one interview, "He was awesome. I was intimidated at the prospect, because when I grew up, he was it. But he wound up being fantastic." (Driven Magazine).  Even if some did have an issue working with a convicted rapist, why would it be acceptable for them to ignore their moral objections in that case but not when it involves Gibson?  Again, it's only because Gibson's problems are still fairly recent. 

I'm not here to say whether rape or prejudice is worse, I just wish Hollywood would stick to making movies and stop "protesting" whatever happens to be the cool thing to protest that week.