Monthly Archives: February 2014

Eragon: The Modern Pizza of Literature

It was 2002 and here was this nineteen year old guy having a gigantic success story in front of the nation’s eyes.  In fact, I can honestly say that Christopher Paolini’s remarkable success at such an early age was one of the reasons I decided to start on my book so young.  Eragon_book_cover

Everybody knows that story of Eragon, or if they don’t they aren’t interested so I won’t dwell on that.  Suffice to say, it’s a pretty entertaining book.  Cliches abound, fresh adjectives are oftentimes sorely wanting, but it’s still a good read.  But what most families should be asking is, is it a wholesome one?

Eragon can and should be compared to a Pizza Hut pizza.  It’s high quality junk food that, while not having anything in it that’s dangerous to your health, still has nothing that nurtures.

The title character is a likable, rebellious young man who, although sure of himself, seems willing to learn.  He is also respectful of others privacy, a honest bloke, fiercely loyal to his friends, and adamantly set against the evil forces that seek to crush the world.  Honestly, he’s a pretty nice guy.  As a role model (something younger readers will definitely see him as) you could do worse.

In fact, most of those qualities are shared across the good guys. The main exception is Eragon’s mentor Brom, the man whom it is clear Eragon should look up to.  This guy has absolutely no problem in cheating, lying or invading others minds (something he warns Eragon not to do, and then conversely does himself.)  The fact that Brom is definitely portrayed as the insight into the author’s mind, that’s somewhat disturbing.

Violence here isn’t excessive, or even necessarily often.  Nowhere are graphically descriptive wordsEragon-and-saphira-eragon-397789-1 that will cause younger readers to cringe.  However, a female elf character is badly beaten and torture, and even has her guards ordered to sexually molest her (something she is able to avoid) in order to wring information out of her.

Which brings us to the next topic.  Frankly, the book is clean.  Slight romance is hinted at between Eragon and the elf, but besides that, it’s pretty decent.

I can’t remember any language in the entire book either.  This doesn’t mean it’s not there…it just means it’s probably not an issue.

Overall, it’s a fun, light read.  No moral lessons to bring  the reader up, and no real inappropriate content. In fact, for ages ten and up, this book will definitely be one that you can confidently trust nothing bad will come of. (The writer of this blog cannot be held responsible for situations that contradict that last statement.  Or the previous statement.  Or any other statements he made in the post.  Or on this blog.  Or in life.  Or death.)

Now here’s the tricky part.  As everyone knows, this book is a part of a series, and while the first one is fine, the rest?  Not so much.  Every complimentary thing I said in this post is torn out, chewed up, and thrown away.  Every…last…positive…thing.  And bad content isn’t only present, it’s prevalent.  Anything from nude elves, to hurtful rebellious behavior that’s ‘cool’, to an out-and-out declaration of atheism.

So that’s where the danger lies.  Know that although this book is fine, the readers will want more.  And more is where everything isn’t fine.  Your choice.

By the way, the movie stinks.  So much for the movie review.

The Kindly Old Maniac

I hate *cough* being sick, don’t you? So in lieu of illness, enjoy this masterpiece of long ago, an original creation which hopefully will get a few laughs.

The Kindly Old Maniacdetectiveprofile_Clip_Art

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(Curse you stupid numbers that won’t go away! Sorry, technical difficulties. Enjoy!)

Part 1

Throughout the entire city, icy winds were constantly and furiously blowing, making the entire population of Wichita, which included this illustrious private eye, basically miserable.  It was about ten o’clock in the morning and I was sitting in my chair behind my desk, relaxing with a cup of stale, green coffee and last week’s newspaper.

Tentatively, I raised the cup up to my lips, giving the coffee a once over to make sure that there were no living organisms squirming about in it.  With my secretary, you could never tell.  As I was about to gulp down that repulsive fluid, suddenly a knock at my door alerted me to the presence of someone outside of it.  I was about to shout for my secretary to come and open the door, when I remembered that she hadn’t come in today. Or yesterday. Or last month.  In fact she hadn’t been here in quite a long time. 

Musing over where my coffee had actually come from, I calmly strode over to the door in order to save my building from structural damage due to the fanatic’s excessive pounding.  When I graciously opened the door, a wild-eyed maniac, with a fierce look, came bounding through. 

“Are you the owner of this hole in the wall?” he asked, eying my office with disgust.

“No, I only rent it,” I replied nonchalantly, a slight regret that I couldn’t even afford to own a dump like this. 

“Whatever,” he continued, “In any case it doesn’t really matter.  I’m here with a proposal that could help make you filthy rich.”  Instantly, I smiled a bright, warm smile at this kindly old gentleman who had come into my office.  In my most benevolent voice, I held out my cup to him and offered, “Coffee?”

Part 2

Two hours later, I was relaxing in the sitting area at the hospital, waiting for him to finish having his stomach pumped.  Who knew that my coffee would have such an effect on him?  I shuddered at the thought of what might have happened if he had actually drank it.  Finally, my potential client was escorted out of the ER by a couple of doctors creepily dressed in long, white lab coats. 

Coughing as he walked over to me, the man eased himself into one of the stairs that stood by the wall, evidently joking around by pretending to be distressed upon seeing me.  “Well,” I said, “now that we got that out of our way, what was is you were going to offer me?”  He glanced up at me and gave a slight groan. 

After a few minutes he shook his head and mumbled, “I guess you’re all I got.  Nuts.  But anyway, you see there’s this big reward out on this one infamous criminal and I mean to collect, but I need someone with police contacts to help me out so that it’s all legal.  Believe me I would use the police, but as you know, they aren’t allowed to collect the reward.  So how about it? We’d have to go trudging through quite a bit of this mud and muck outside, but it’s a good profit at the end.” 

Throughout his entire presentation, I had assumed a look of eager expectation, but upon hearing that it would involve going outside for periods of time into this weather, and some actual work, I hastily assumed my that’s-interesting-but-not-for-me look. 

Once more, smiling benevolently, I turned to him and replied, “You know, that’s real interesting, but that’s not for me.  But say, if you ever need help getting rid of the cash once you’ve caught this criminal and collected the reward, be sure to look me up.”  I warmly shook his hand and strode out of the hospital, opened the door of my car and drove away.  For some reason, he came running after me for a little while, yelling and waving at me.  Being a nice guy, who was always friendly towards people even if they were a bit eccentric, I smiled and waved back.

Part 3

It was three o’clock in the afternoon on a particularly cold winter day and I was sitting at my desk, breathing in the musty air that permeated the surroundings.  Cautiously, I reclined back in my seat, remembering that I still had to have my chair fixed as soon as I could afford it.  On my desk sat this week’s newspaper, most of it still readable. 

As I picked it up, the headline, which seemed to be quite long, caught my attention.  It read, Hard working citizen catches hard faced criminal, even without help from outside source, collects huge reward.  Rather impressed that they were able to fit so many words into a single headline, I picked it up and started to read about how this one man had sought the help of a lazy, irresponsible private eye and then, after being rejected and staying in the hospital for two weeks because of pneumonia, which he had contracted from running home through the cold weather after having his stomach pumped at a hospital, had gone and heroically collected this criminal all by himself.

On the spur of the moment, I flipped through a couple of pages and came to a picture of the man himself.  Sitting there, looking smug was a picture of the very man who had tried to enlist my help three weeks earlier.  I sat back, digesting this piece of information, wondering how dumb that guy could have been, to walk home from the hospital out in this weather.  He could’ve just used the car that he had left here when I drove him to the…Oh.  That helped explain the screaming and waving. 

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Absolutely Nothing

My fervent readers (a.k.a. Mom) know that I attempt to construct at least two blogs posts per week.  However, due to an astoundingly deep and twisted eighty page paper on Hamlet due for school, I really have nothing to say.  (This opening paragraph is about to become obsolete.)

Funny isn’t it how things that seem so important at the moment tend to dissipate before hardly any time at all.  Toys received with joy by small children are often within a week destroyed, or video games o sought by their older siblings end up being just another bit of junk, instead of the awesomeness their imagination said it would be.

That’s true not only for kids but adults.  Everything is more desirable if you can’t have it, but once you do, you wonder why you wanted it in the first place.  Frankly, this definitely seems to be due to greed, but it also stems from the lovely world of imagination.

When I was a kid, to hear all these high school students talk about Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (amazing how nerds can work those sagas into every conversation) made those franchises seem simply amazing.  More than anything, I wanted to watch them so that my visions of grandeur could finally be realized in front of my eyes.

The whole topic of denying yourself so that when you do receive something it’s all that more amazing could fill an entire book, but I’m going to try to ignore it in this improvised post.  When I first watched Star Wars, needless to say, to my mind it was spectacular, completely unlike what I had imagined, and yet not as grand.  (Lord of the Rings on the other hand still amazes me every time.  Love those films.)

Now, I don’t regard the Episodes 1&2 as being all that great in the first place.  Once that barrier that was holding me back from watching them had been removed, the desire to watch them dissipated substantially.  (Which reminds me: never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice.)

Undoubtedly, this phenomenon is partly due to humanity’s fickle nature, but also it is due to our active, incredible imaginations.  Hmm.  I honestly didn’t mean to write anything, but this kind of fell out of my brain you might say.  So in that case, sorry and you’re welcome. 🙂

10 Things That Bug Me

It is so very tempting for a blogger to pour out his complaints on the web, hoping that someone somewhere will empathize with him (preferably someone fabulously rich).  However, the point of this blog is not to voice grievances or wile any in worthless humor, but to give serious thought to serious subjects, helping to deepen the intellectual properties of all its readers.  NOT!

Enough chatter!  Some things in life I enjoy, some things I don’t.  Most things fall into the second category.  For a list of prime examples, I present this post for your enjoyment!

1: Small garbage cansindex

You all know exactly what I mean! Not only do you have to take the trash out sooner (as if the curse wasn’t close enough to us already), it’s practically impossible to make a basket with your trash.

“He shoots, and it’s off the rim!”

“Curse you small garbage cans!”

2: Fat free Ice Cream

It’s ice cream. You can’t take the cream out of ice cream.

3: Cold without snow.

Me: “Hey mom, it’s negative two outside, I’m going to jump off the roof into the snow!”

There was no snow.

Two months later, after finally getting all of my casts off: “I hate cold.”

4: Multicolored hairdos.

Me stopping a middle aged woman on the street: “Lady, I hate to tell you this, but you’ve got a creepy fungus that’s turning the end of your hair purple, and man, is it ugly!”

If you value your life as you know it, don’t say that to anyone. EVER!

5: Cracked open doors

How hard is it to close a door? You would think simple, right? NOT!!

6: Fat people eating greasy cheeseburgerscheeseburgercolor

If you’ve never seen a truly obese person eating a juicy cheeseburger, you might still have a chance at happiness. Otherwise, that horrifying, disgusting,  fascinating image will burn itself into your mind for all eternity!

7: Happy people

Those that think life can be joyful and filled with mirth.  Idiots.

8: Overachievers

Known affectionately in classrooms around the world as “the Nerd”. The ones who make your carefully crafted, hours in preparation, iguana presentation look like frog guts splattered over a dead log, when compared to their eighty foot tall robot lizard, leaving emotional scars that never truly…I’m sorry, *sniff*.  I think I need a moment.

9: Teenagers

I would elaborate, but frankly, it’s not worth it.

Let’s face it. It’s pretty obvious by now that what bugs me more than anything else is…

10: PIZZA WITH VEGGIES ON IT!13002986555192665581

IT’S A PIZZA! STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD HEALTHY! CAN’T YOU LET ME DIE OF CARDIAC ARREST IN PEACE!!!!

There.  Now you have seen past my brutish exterior and deep down into my soul.  Laugh at me if you may, scorn my deepest fears if you will, but at least remember that I was once like you.  Then I saw a happy, fat teenager eating a juicy veggie pizza while presenting an eighty foot tall lizard robot.  Welcome to my life.

Book Review: Harry Potter

Way back when, before the all powerful book 7 had been released, a problem faced Christian families throughout America and even the world.  This problem was so severe that women locked themselves in their homes, while children fled in terror.  Nukes were nearly launched, the national guard was called out, and America was in such a state of stupidity, due to panic, it elected Obama.

The problem I’m talking about is the dilemma of whether or not parents would allow their children to read Harry Potter.  Some didn’t, and found themselves regretting it at the moment (“Why can’t I, everybody else does!)  Others did and found themselves regretting it later.  It may not be as pressing of question right now, since all the books are already out, but it should still be asked.

Basically, the problem most people faced was whether or not Harry Potter glorified witchcraft.  The series had been nigh shunned in the Christian community for it blatant naming of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  So parents naturally asked, should their sweet innocent children be exposed to such wickedness?

Let me set your mind at ease about that point.  “Witchcraft” in the series is treated squarely as magic you might find in any other fantasy setting, albeit with many more rules. Potion brewing is treated more like high end cooking classes, the mixtures produced simply having magical qualities.

Undoubtedly, there are the share of violent spells.  Wizards battle it out with myriads of strange magics, while thousands are said to be killed throughout the series.  Still, the violence when it comes is not so hard hitting as you might have been led to believe.

So far, so good right?

Unfortunately, witchcraft and violence aren’t the problems you should be worried about in this series.  Language may range on the American scale from mild to bad, but on the British scale it’s indubitably worse.

Not quite as prevalent in he first three books as the last four is the inclusion of practically all teenage dream lovey stuff.  For some odd reason, it’s considered perfectly normal for fifteen or sixteen year-old’s to be lounging about and “snogging” with alarming frequency.  Students seem to be constantly egging each other on to “do it” with the opposite sex.  For all of us upright (and somewhat lonely) bloggers let me say, “Ugh!”

But frankly, that’s not the worst of it.  The worst part is Harry Potter himself.

Putting in simply, Harry Potter is a brat.  He breaks rules without caring, makes fun of others without though to their feelings, and basically goes about doing whatever he likes with the admiration of his peers and the blessings of his mentors.  And he’s considered the nice guy.  True, he does have some redeeming qualities, but not half enough to make up for the near worship of his faults.

His behavior is so encouraged that it literally will begin to affect the reader, especially if the reader happens to be a ten through sixteen year-old boy.  This isn’t an exaggeration, but what actually happened in several families I know, including my own.

As a consolation, let me say that if you choose not to read the popular series, you’re actually not missing all that much.   J. R. Rowling is a horrible writer.  Some of her ideas may be fresh, and occasionally her dialogue is pretty fun, but beyond that it”s very low quality.

And now the consolation prize goes to…the Geek community!

Also, if you feel the desperate urge to get involved in Harry Potter in spite of this life changing review, I heartily recommend the movie series instead.  Swearing is dumbed down, as well as the majority of innuendos (movie six being the exception should best be viewed as a comedy soap opera) while the violence is upped.  Awesome!index

Additionally, the character of Harry seems o have been given an upgrade.  The glorifying of his shortcomings seems to have disappeared mostly, while a distinctly noble side is added on.  Besides, they are very well made films (always a plus). For a full rundown of most of the movies, visit PluggedIn, and no, I am not getting paid for saying that.  I wish I was, but let’s not go there.

My final word of advice.  When it comes to reading the harry Potter books: don’t…it’s a waste of time.  When it comes to watching the movies: do, but viewer maturity should be taken into account.  And if America goes into crisis once more, and people start screaming bloody murder, well then, that’s just proof that more people need to read this blog!

Learning From It: My Life as a Crier and Sitter

Recently a friend of mine was cast in a high-end local production as the main villain. His phone was buzzing through the night with all the congratulatory texts from most of the other cast.images

Once I was cast in a role that was considered by some to be a ‘lead’. As a matter of fact, I played Jacob in a stage production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The only text I got read, “Sucks to be you!”

Two other people I know auditioned for a show once, people who had never tried out before. For their inexperience, they were awarded the leads. The first show I was in, I had to wait three hours before coming out for my twenty-seven seconds of glory.

When it comes to interviewing for a job or auditioning for a play, one tends to put their entire soul’s happiness into the balance, pouring out their heart so that someone might see them and think they’re worth something. Nerves get frayed while waiting for callbacks, your entire body feels on pins as you sit down at your screen, the final moments before the cast list is announced dragging on…and on…and on.

Finally, the list is posted! You had the feeling that you did pretty good during callbacks, so you scan for your name, and seeing it next to one of the starring roles, your heart gives such a leap of joy that you feel ready to burst!

That’s never happened to me.

Before you go off thinking that this is the rant of some lonely, pathetic blogger, (some truth) let me say that the times I have been most disappointed in the role I have received are the times when I gained the most out of being in a play production. Let me tell you why.

Easily the worst role I have ever had was the aforementioned role of Jacob. My attitude was awful for weeks, a distinct feeling that the directors must have had it in for me haunting my thoughts. A image that kept pooping up in my mind was the directors in some back room laughing at my discomfort.

“Okay, so we have the role no one wants,” one would chuckle evilly. “Let’s give it to Jack! Muahahahahahaha! That’ll teach him! Maybe we’ll break his mind and send him to a insane asylum, or make him become a lawyer!”

Out of nearly 20 scenes, I was on for 3 of them, the only thing I was allowed to do being sitting and crying. Therefore, during Saturday rehearsals I would spend six hours doing nothing while all the other cast danced and sang and laughed, and then I would have thirty minutes to practice…can you guess?

Crying and sitting. Thrilling, isn’t it.

I couldn’t help asking myself, what did I do to deserve this. To further understand my  utter despair, this particular production company had a policy of not making stars, so anyone with a lead role could count themselves out as far as getting a decent role in the near future, except of course for the chosen favorites. Since this minuscule role was in fact considered a lead, they had dealt me a double whammie.

And yet, I gained two things from that role that has made not only future audition processes easier, but practically everything else in life as well.

The first valuable lesson I learned from that was that everything wasn’t about me. My role images2had no importance, no one cared whether I did a good job or not (besides my family) so what could I do?

Two options lay before me: weep, wail and give in or use the extra time I had to help others, cheering them up when they felt down, or getting to know some other cast members who, for whatever completely incomparable reason, felt the same way that I did.

My role in that play was not on the stage, but behind it…supporting, listening, encouraging, caring. No one else could have done it, simply because no one else had the time.

I made some valuable friendships that year, some that I still have today. And always being backstage gave me the opportunity to help out those who may not have it down yet, while occasionally being able to use my talents in others ways as well.  It’s a lesson that frankly I couldn’t have learned any other way.

Secondly, the role you get, whether in a play or a job, doesn’t determine who you are. Just because I was cast as a wimpy old man doesn’t mean that’s me. That’s just how the directors saw how I’d be used, not how my friends or family or the people who really matter to me view my character. And that’s definitely not the way God sees me…I hope.

So if you’re the star on the stage of life, all I can say is…sorry dude, I got nothing but jealousy for you. But if not, and most people are not, than realize that it’s not a punishment, but an opportunity. Make the most of it. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable, tired, and you’ll have wasted some of the most valuable time of your life. ‘Nuf said.