OK? This?

… Is just wrong.

Various And Sundry 3: Variouser and Sundrier

Random stuff I’m writing about today:

— I was in the Barnes & Noble at the Summit in Birmingham Sunday. For the first time, I got to see a copy of the Smithsonian Atlas of Space Exploration, which includes Homesteading Space in its bibliography of essential spaceflight reading. When I was browing through the humor section, it occured to me that they probably also had The World According to Twitter, and, in fact, they had three copies of it. Amused and intrigued, I pulled out my phone, confirmed they had a copy of it, and went and found Black Men Built the Capitol on the shelf. Even without having a copy of Homesteading, there are three books in that bookstore that have my name in them. That’s kinda cool, and more than a little funny.

— Ole Miss students will be voting today whether to replace Colonel Reb with something else or to “remain the only school in the Southeastern Conference without a mascot.” The vote today is just yea or nay, the exact “something else” with which Colonel Reb would be replaced would be determined later. I wrote about my thoughts on this issue back during football season, and won’t go into all of that again now, other than the fact that I think it’s sad that Ole Miss is gradually losing having any unique character at all. However, I will share this mascot option that I’ve seen posted on Facebook.

Best. Trek. Novel. Ever.

— I taught kids again at church on Sunday morning. The materials were different this time; last time I had multiple activities to do with them, this time I was just telling a story. Part of my problem was that I got overconfident. The story was about David and Absalom, and I figured the studying I’ve done of David over the past year would help me, but, really, not so much. I also figured that my improv experience would help me ad lib some funniness that would make me more engaging, but, again, not really. I felt boring, and it was a lousy feeling. Just have to do better next time. And hope for better material.

— I went to the zoo in Birmingham Sunday also. Not that I didn’t have fun, but it was a bit more impressive 30 years ago.

— Stuff Christians Like: The Obligatory Lost Sermon: “But maybe you were unaware of the need to experience an obligatory Lost sermon. Maybe you didn’t even know that was an option. And with the show in its final season, you’re lost as it were with how to properly judge the quality of a Lost sermon. It’s almost as if you need a Lost sermon scorecard.” Now I kinda wish my preacher did this sort of thing.

— I’ve heard versions of this story about three janitors at NASA enough that it may be apocryphal, but I hope not. And it is a good reminder, not only for those of us in the agency, but for life in general.

— Two bits from “Overheard in the Newsroom:

Reporter: “A preacher just lied to me! Isn’t there a commandment against that?” Editor: “Was he Baptist?”

Editor to Reporter at Canadian paper: “Space crap is all the American’s can do right, and they are not even doing that!”

This picture by my coworker Heather may be my favorite thing thus far to come out of the 365project.

— I went to improv rehearsal last night, official improv rehearsal, for the first time in about three months. It was very good to be back. As I’ve mentioned, I’m working in shows Friday and Saturday night, to which you should come, so it was good actually being able to get some rehearsal in before working again this weekend. Probably the biggest thing to come out of the rehearsal was discovering that, even rusty, I’m still competent, though I’m hoping that being back in an actual show again will inspire a bit more than just competence. Last night, I karate-chopped my wife, pitched racist t-shirts, got hypnotized, and became a genius phrenologist via head trauma. All in a good night’s work.

How Twilight Should Have Ended

God Hates Twilight

OK, so it was probably the week that the latest Twilight movie came out that I first started seeing the joke going around the internet that Isaiah 1:14 shows that God hates the it:

Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

Over the past weekend, I saw the joke posted again on Facebook, and it made me decide to go do some research on the subject on my own.

And, it turns out, the Bible does in fact have more to say about the subject. The most telling, I thought, was Isaiah 21:4:

My heart falters,
fear makes me tremble;
the Twilight I longed for
has become a horror to me.

From there, I ran a search for Eclipse, only to discover that there’s no Biblical reference to the third book and movie. But a search for Breaking Dawn revealed Isaiah 58:8a, which shows, obviously, that God is looking forward to the whole series just being done:

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear …

(And, lest you think all of this is just coincidence, note that all the references come from the same prophetic book.)

Fun With Photoshop

This occurred to me, and I couldn't resist.

“Before you, my life was like a moonless night.
Very dark, but there were the stars — points of life and reason.
Then you shot across my sky like a meteor.
Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy,
there was beauty.

A Cool Look, A Cold Touch

OK, I’ve been promising more Twilight blogging, so here it is.

Before I get into my most recent batch of thoughts, I’ll share these links.

I’ve written before about how Stephanie Meyer does for romance in Twilight basically what George Lucas did for myth in Star Wars — deconstructing the basic elements and then putting them back together in a story that uses simple cyphers for universal themes. This piece — How Twilight Works — says basically the same thing, but less kindly.

Wired also has an interesting piece on Top 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Learn From Twilight that you may or may not enjoy.

Anyway, back to my own rambling. Much has been made of the idea of Meyer’s Mormonism and “the erotics of abstinence” — the idea that the books make self-restraint sexy as a way of encouraging readers.

But I wonder if it doesn’t actually go a step further — if Meyer hasn’t written the books in such a way as to romanticize bad dating technique. Rather than just encouraging abstinence, she’s actually making really bad relationship ideas seem like really good ones.

Guys, want to win your crush over? Make sure your hands are ice cold whenever you touch her; women love that. When you see her, make sure you look at least vaguely disgusted; it’ll make her feel valued. Avoid her when you can, and be evasive when she does talk to you. And after you’ve avoided her enough, switch fully into creepy stalker mode; she’ll be glad to know you care.

The sad thing is, I’m not entirely convinced that part of the reason I’m single isn’t the fact that I assume those really are bad ideas.

Jealousy Unyielding As The Grave

Bella and Edward

Bella and Edward

As I wrote earlier this month, I read Twilight really just to find out what the fuss was all about, what it was about the story and the writing that people found so compelling. My plan was to read it, and be done.

But … a friend of mine insisted that I read New Moon as well; in part for the sake of experiencing one of the stories first in written form, since I’d seen the movie of Twilight before I read the book, and thus my mental picture was firmly rooted in the film version. (This made little difference, in my opinion, since I carried those pictures of most of the characters over into reading New Moon.) I think I was also supposed to read New Moon for the sake of the dichotomy between the first two books, and particularly between Jacob and Edward.

Before going any further, I have to share the caveat that my reading of New Moon was probably colored by my life this year, and, particularly, the fact that it struck me while reading the book that, you know, I can’t rule out the possibility that Edward Cullen contributed to the end of my engagement. Jerk.

To be honest, one thing that struck me about the book was how much dichotomy there wasn’t. Being aware of the whole Team Edward versus Team Jacob debate, and having heard commentary from friends who had read it, I was expecting, well, more difference. But, really, I could write a decent plot summary that would cover either of the first two books equally well. (For those who are trying to avoid spoilers, I shan’t.)

Beyond that, along the lines of the appeal of the books, it strikes me that Meyer has done a pretty decent job of creating a group of characters with whom readers can easily identify. After reading Twilight, I’d had a conversation with a friend about which character reminded each of us most of ourselves. (And, according to a Facebook quiz, I’m most like Jasper, for what it’s worth.) Reading New Moon, however, I found that at different points, I identified in different ways with different characters. I mean, obviously I identify with Edward for his raw magnetic charisma, which is just so me. (Actually, there’s a more direct — and realistic — point of identification there, which I won’t get in to here.) I could certainly identify with Jacob in the first half of New Moon; there’s been more than one point in my life where I’ve contented myself to play the role of the best friend in hopes that it would become something more. And, yeah, I’ve played the role of Bella, enjoying time with Jacob while still hoping for Edward to come back. Not proud, but there you go. But … my amazing and dynamic life aside, I would imagine that’s probably not unusual; I would imagine that a lot of people have various experiences that let them relate with Edward here and Bella there and Jacob somewhere else and someone else somewhere else.

And to that extent, Stephenie Meyer is practically the George Lucas of relationships. Just as Lucas drew on Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey to root Star Wars in the archetypes of myth so that it would resonate with audiences, Meyer effectively draws on the archetypes of relationships and sprinkles them liberally through the Twilight series so that it resonates widely and frequently with readers.

OK, having just confessed to identifying with characters, and positing that said identification is probably not uncommon, I hate to have to note that the other thing that struck me is the extent to which the books are thus far a giant melting pot of relationship issues. I would love to see a counselor deconstruct how much of what the books want to portray as “romantic” is actually what might be better termed “unhealthy.” I was a bit bugged in Twilight by the fact that romantic hero Edward is a stalker; I was possibly even more annoyed in this one by the depth of his control issues. I mean, seriously, dude …

Having finished New Moon, I’m currently reading something that’s not Twilight, and my plan is that I’ll watch the movies, but probably not read the next two books. However, I have to admit, there’s at least a possibility I may change my mind …