Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Snark Who Hunts Back or What the hell kind of blog name is that!

Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as well as various other poems (if you haven't read them...shame on you!) wrote a poem called The Hunting of the Snark in 1874.

Wikipedia sums up the plot so much better than I would, for I would endlessly quote the poem at you...when really you should just go read it yourself. However if all you want is the summary then check that wikipedia link.

The only part that is really important is the description of the Snark and what the word Snark means in our modern day language.

As Dictionary.com does not currently contain the slang usage of the term, I've resorted to Urban Dictionary. Bear with me:

snark :

noun
Combination of "snide" and "remark". Sarcastic comment(s).
Also snarky (adj.) and snarkily (adv.)
His commentary was rife with snark.
"Your boundless ineptitude is astounding," she snarkily declared.
I think we can all agree that this fits my style of writing, at least on this blog, pretty much to a T.

Now as to Lewis Carroll's description of a Snark...well, that fits me disturbingly well too...


"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp. 
I rather hope that no one here wishes to know how I taste...cannibalism is not cool guys. However, that's not the full description. The rest fits pretty darn well and I'll tell you why.

"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day. 

I am not a morning person! I have been known to sleep until noon and eat breakfast when most people are eating lunch, that's just how I am. If I have to get up...well I'm usually grumpy as hell and even snarkier than usual...

"The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
And it always looks grave at a pun. 
Sometimes I'm not so quick at getting a joke and sometimes a person's sense of humor does not make a bit of sense to me.

Also...I sigh like a thing that is deeply depressed and raise my eyebrow gravely every. single. time. my father makes a pun.

"The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which is constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes--
A sentiment open to doubt. 
I'm OCD, give me a break. I like my apartment to be fairly clean and neat and I shower at least once a day. Lewis Carroll...how did you write this about me in the late 19th century? I'm disturbed. 

"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
And those that have whiskers, and scratch.
 I feel like I'm fairly ambitious.

So, in other words, I am a Snark. Lewis Carrol knew what he was talking about.

But here's the difference between me and this poem. I'm not letting people hunt me, I'm hunting them with all the snark and wit my brain and my poor abused keyboard can muster.

Here's hoping you understand my blog's name now. If you don't, even after reading this...there is no hope for you.




Season 4 of Torchwood: Or, When will Russell T. Davies stop stealing Supernatural episode plots?

My posts have all been way to serious lately and that blog description up top does say something about pop culture does it not? Time for a little snarkiness at the expense of a television show.

I just read this article from January 8th of this year. It details both the name change of season 4 of Torchwood. Originally the season was to be called Torchwood: The New World and now it is to be called Torchwood: Miracle Day.

Now...this name is just too ridiculous for words. Why is it necessary to NAME the seasons? When did Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, etc. become too good for television series? Movies have names for each installation, a series has a series name and season numbers, no need for a name for each season...

However, that's not even what I wrote this post.

I wrote this post because this new season seems like Russell T. Davies seems be stealing his plots from Supernatural even more these days.
I wouldn't have even noticed except RTD made the massive mistake of actually getting me WATCH Supernatural in the first place when he said that if fans wanted to watch a show where the main characters never die, we should watch Supernatural.

Good going man, tell angry fans to watch a show that is made in another country and broadcast on a different channel than the one that signs your paychecks...and happens to the be the one that you enjoy yanking plots from? I thought you were smarter than this...I should be used to disappointment where you are concerned by now.

The plot for this season (don't read the rest of this post if you don't like spoilers!) is

John Barrowman returns as the British Captain Kirk
Eve Myles also returns, playing the character I can't stand at all on this show.
The plot of Miracle Day is the most explosive Torchwood storyline yet. One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep aging — they get hurt and sick — but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight. With all the extra people, resources are finite. It’s said that in four months’ time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can’t be a natural event – someone’s got to be behind it. It’s a race against time as C.I.A. agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy.  The answers lie within an old, secret British institute. As Rex keeps asking “What is Torchwood?”, he’s drawn into a world of adventure, and a threat to change what it means to be human, forever.

There is 10 episodes of this...it's like RTD just yanked the plot from season 4 (episode 15 "Death Takes a Holiday") of Supernatural and put a multi-national, government conspiracy twist on it...which is admittedly what RTD seems to do best.

I would call this a coincidence, if it wasn't for the fact that this is not the first time this has happened in Torchwood.
In season 1, the episode Countrycide, the plot is almost identical to that of the episode "The Benders" of the first season of Supernatural. The plot? Oh yes, our heroes hear of mysterious disappearances in the boonies (Breacon Beacons for our Torchwood elite and Hibbing, Minnesota for our Supernatural boys). Both groups assume that the disappearances have to do with their special area of expertise (Aliens and supernatural creepy crawlies, respectively), so off they go to investigate. Team mates are kidnapped (or team mate, singular, for Supernatural) and those that remaining are trying to find out what happened to them. It turns out that what they are hunting is not aliens or supernatural creepy crawlies, but some rather fucked up humans who are cannibals (in Torchwood's case) or just redneck hicks who enjoy hunting humans for sport (in Supernatural's case, they never explicitly mention cannibalism, but their is a scene where a man is using cleaver and a saw on something in a kitchen.)
Both groups keep souvenirs of their kills, piles of shoes and jars of eyeballs and organs in the case of the cannibals and "hunting" photographs, wind chimes made of, what looks like, a human pelvic bone and a jar of teeth in the case of the rednecks.

There is even ridiculous amounts of similarity in some the dialogue. At one point in "The Benders" Dean is looking at the "souvenirs" and says:
"I'll say it again. Demons I get, people are crazy" - Dean

Near the end of "Countrycide" Gwen is questioning the cannibal ringleader and says:
"I've seen things you couldn't imagine and this, this is the only thing I can't understand" - Gwen

Similar, yes?

Also at the end of both episodes, the ringleaders are questioned, and almost begged in both cases, by the good guys about why they did the things they did. They answer, in similarly creepy tones, with similarly disturbing facial expressions:
"Because it made me happy." - Torchwood
"Because it's fun." - Supernatural.
The only difference being that after Gwen questions the man, he's carted off by the police and after the policewoman (who was also captured by the rednecks) who questioned the hunter the scene cuts with the sound of a gun shot, she later tells Sam and Dean that she shot him because he was trying to escape.

Now, some might point out that this plot has been used often in sci-fi and horror. X-files had a couple of episodes similar to the "Our show is about the supernatural/alien, but we would like to show you that humans can be fucked up sons-of-bitches too" theme.

I'm not saying that RTD can't use the theme, but damn if the plot lines of the episodes aren't almost identical. Watch them side by side, really, you'll agree.
Combine this with the fact that Davies, spiteful, recommendation that fans angered by Ianto's death in Children of Earth (okay, that was a mini-series, they are exempt from rules of not having a separate name) watch it because no main characters die, means that he is fairly familiar with the series himself.

I just have one more note to add about the plot line for this new season of Supernatu...er, I mean Torchwood.

Russell, you were the one that said you were keeping sci-fi realistic (patently ridiculous given that the point of sci-fi is not realism, by the way) because everyone dies. You already have a man who has a teflon non-stick coating against death, an alien who regenerates into a new body if the plot calls for his death (or the actor decides he wants to swan off), a woman who is your pet character who never seems to die, even when put in situations where she should have and now a whole 10 episode season where people LITERALLY CANNOT DIE! Can we try for a little consistency please?

I have to agree with Meredith Jacobs, who wrote:
Too bad this concept didn’t come about before the deaths of Ianto, Owen (Burn Gorman), and Tosh (Naoko Mori). The series definitely won’t be the same without all three of them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ted Haggard's new church "not gay friendly"

I was going to include this in my last post, but it got extremely long and this post focuses more on St. James, Haggard's new church, than it does on Haggard in general. A good reason to split the posts up I thought.
Ted and his wife, Gayle, on the Joy Behar show.

On the Joy Behar show Ted Haggard was asked if gays would be welcome at his new church in Colorado Springs. His response
"Absolutely. So will people that don't pray enough. So will people that don't love enough. So will people that are overwieght. So will people that are underweight. So will people that have low IQs and high IQs. Humanity needs love and needs God and so we're a gathering together of sinners who are gratefully redeemed. No self-righteous people will be there, I'm pretty sure."
 Behar was quick to point out that she did not believe that homosexuality was a sin, but clearly (despite his new "I don't judge people anymore." stance) he still does believe it is a sin.

He's also still not in favor of same-sex marriage, a position he has always held, his response to questions about whether or not same-sex marriages would be performed in his church was no, because "God's ideal plan for a marriage is the union of a man and a woman." Haggard added that it's also "God's ideal that all of us have our weight under control," but that doesn't always happen.

Because of this the Gay Rights section of Change.org has written an article titled "Do Not Call Ted Haggard's New Church Gay-Friendly". One of their other reasons is that while Haggard claims the church will be all-inclusive and welcoming to homosexuals, they will also be counseling "LGBT people to strive toward the "biblical" ideal of marriage, which is decidedly heterosexual."

I can't agree with this, obviously. Haggard claims that were he a younger man now, unmarried and unencumbered with a "normal" life (see my previous post) he would consider himself bisexual. He was able to have attraction to women because of that. He is still preaching, despite all he has learned, that people should try to deny who they are and act in a way that is counter to their biology (I'm no scientist, but I certainly didn't "choose" to be gay. Trust me, I gave the whole straight thing a try a couple of times, it was not for me.)

The article on Change.org goes on to point out that Jesus had absolutely zilch to say on the topic of gay marriage and referencing an article (that I have not read yet) from Newsweek last year that makes and argument, using the Bible, that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage.

I agree with the article, it's nice to know that Haggard has progressed from his old views at his last ministry and that he is not copying Focus on the Family or Saddleback Church, but it is unfortunate that he can't see the arguments that other denominations have put forward for allowing gay marriage and use them to change his views.

He may have learned a few things in the last few years, but he's still got a ways to go before he'll be a supporter of gay marriage.

Ted Haggard is completely hetero...uh...bisexual. Wait, what?

Now, this article by Kevin Roose is certainly not going to make me like Ted Haggard, that ship has sailed my friends, it certainly makes me hate him a bit less...and it's going to make the song "Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual" by Roy Zimmerman a bit harder to laugh at. ->

I actually feel a bit sorry for him. I don't agree with the things he said about homosexuals in the past, but I have a great deal of empathy for him as a person struggling with his sexual orientation. I don't have empathy for the fact that he cheated on his wife, used drugs and used his pulpit to air his own insecurities in the form of promoting hate towards homosexuals in general.

The fact is, I don't have enough facts about him...all I really know is the things that were said to poke fun at the man. "He telephoned the White House for a weekly consultation, saying here's what Jesus thinks of all the pending legislation. Marriage is a covenant between a man and wife and homosexuals will fry forever in the afterlife" - Roy Zimmerman

I freely admit that I have a bias against those that "preach the gospel of intolerance of self-loathing" and try to marginalize homosexuals.

But, here's what Ted says we have wrong about him.

He says that despite popular perception, he was never a right-wing power broker in the vein of Jerry Falwell. His reported weekly chats with George W. Bush were usually just briefings with low-level White House staff. He was never a homophobe, either, he says, and though he supported a 2006 amendment outlawing gay marriage in Colorado, he was also in favor of a ballot measure that would have extended domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples.
When I start to ask about Mike Jones, the escort who exposed him, he cuts me off.
"We never had sex sex," he says, glancing at the car to make sure that Elliott and Jonathan are asleep. "I bought drugs and a massage from him, and he masturbated me at the end of it. That's it."

Mike Jones wrote a book, I Had to Say Something,  in which he says that was NOT all that happened, but considering he was "proud of exposing a conservative hypocrite" and he seems to hold the same bias I do...well I'm not sure how much of what he says can be taken without a little skepticism.
 Bias can make people say things that aren't true, just because it justifies their point. After all...there are an awful lot of people in the Religious Right that equate homosexuality with pedophilia because advances their agenda...doesn't mean it's true.

The fact is, even if he support a law for domestic-partner benefits, Haggard was still in favor of homosexuals remaining second-class citizens because of a childish semantic argument that the word marriage is somehow the intellectual property of heterosexuals everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                       

Ted now has a new church, right in the same city where he preached at New Life church. A church he was the pastor of for 21 years, after starting it in his basement in 1985. A church he believes was "excessively harsh" in it's treatment of him and his family in 2006 when they forced the Haggard family to leave the state and cut off all contact between himself and the members of his church. The whole situation has left him very jaded about religion and churches in general.

"I used to think the church was the light of the world," Ted says. "But I've completely lost my faith in it."
Ted's complaints about New Life are old news to anyone who's been following his saga, but tonight, when I ask him if he really means to say completely, he stops and looks at the sky already starting to lighten.
"You've got to understand, Kevin, people are, at their cores, hateful," he says, rising to stamp out the fire's embers and go to bed. "I don't want to believe that, but the facts have prevailed over my idealism."

Haggard's new church, St. James, is still small, meeting in the cafeteria of Timberview Middle School.

His explanation of his church as it differs from those in the evangelical movement (i.e. New Life) is this.

"In the evangelical movement, we've said to people that differ from us: "We want to convert you." And what that means is, 'We want you to adopt the things that we believe. Then you can be like us, and we will have won a convert.' "
"I would suggest that St. James try a different methodology. I would suggest that we try the idea of: 'We have read our Bibles. We have prayed and been spirit-filled. So our purpose is to make life easier for other people around us no matter what their theology is; no matter what their race, color, creed, or sexual orientation.' Those things are not the primary issue as far as we're concerned, because our concern is to be Jesus for them."

That's a view that even I, as an non-religious person, can understand. The thing that I can appreciate even more is this.


Part of what these guys [the congregation] love about St. James is that it helps struggling people in real, tangible ways. During the offering, when most churches pass the plate, Ted instead has his saints give money to one another. Today the gifts included a $500 donation to fix one man's car and money for another man to pay his electricity bill.
"I'd rather have that conversation with a handful of people," Ted says to me after the service, "than have a worldwide TV audience and everyone think I'm a hotshot."
His voice trembles, "That $500? That's Jesus to me now."
 I think it is probably the sincerity that I can feel from Haggard, even through Roose's writing, that gets me the most. I can tell that Haggard believes in what he is saying now, instead of lashing out at others because of his own confused sexuality. 
                                                                                                                                                                         
I personally won't comment on Gayle, Ted's wife, for the reason that (from my reading on their interaction in Roose's piece) that she is living in a state of denial about how "straight" her husband now is. Roose did sit down and talk with them both at their home in Colorado Springs however.

It is from a section of the interview that I take my title. A conversation between Roose and Haggard when Gayle is absent, picking up lunch from a restaurant."

For the first time since we've met, Ted isn't looking directly at me. "Here's where I really am on this issue," he half whispers. "I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual." After a weekend of Ted trying to convince me of his unambiguous devotion to his wife and kids, I'm at first too surprised to say anything.
"So why not now?" I ask finally.
"Because, Kevin, I'm 54, with children, with a belief system, and I can have enforced boundaries in my life. Just like you're a heterosexual but you don't have sex with every woman that you're attracted to, so I can be who I am and exclusively have sex with my wife and be perfectly satisfied."
"But what does it have to do with being 54?"
"Life!" he says. "We live an ordinary life."

The two things I disagree with here have a lot to do with a man who is so out of touch with real life that he is confusing what it means to be "bisexual" and confusing what it means to have a "normal" life.

A bisexual will always be a bisexual, they will always be attracted to members of both sexes. If Haggard is a bisexual, then that is what he is, whether he chooses to "identify" himself with the moniker or not. That doesn't mean he has to act on it though. Just as a heterosexual man or woman does not cease to have attraction to members of the opposite sex, they simply refrain from acting on those attractions if they are in a monogamous relationship. The same goes for homosexuals in a monogamous relationship, when I'm dating a woman I will freely admit I still find other women attractive, but I'm not going to go out looking for dates because of that.

That's where Ted seems to be confused, bisexuals are just as capable of having a monogamous relationship as anyone else.

The again, I've known a few bisexuals who were confused on this too...I dated a girl in high school who insisted that since she was bisexual she believed that she HAD to carry on a relationship with a male and a female at the same time. A bit ridiculous really.

The other thing that Ted is confused on is what a "normal" life is. Why is his life the normal one? Two women can have a "normal" life as can two men...well, as long as they live in a place where they can marry and adopt (or have a child through invitro or surrogacy) and, essentially, have all the same opportunities as heterosexuals have. In this day and age to say that "normal" equates to a man and a woman marrying and having children is ridiculous, draconian and more than a little hypocritical coming from a man who has spent the last four years rebuilding his life and his marriage after using crystal meth and having an affair with a man.

I also don't agree with Roose when he says that he understands Haggard because the man isn't looking for total sexual satisfaction, he's trying to get his life back and that requires "amputating" part of who he is.

A bisexual man or woman who choose to settle down with someone of the same or opposite sex and remain monogamous is not "amputating" a part of him or herself, nor is that going to rob him or her of "total sexual satisfaction". I believe this is a ridiculous claim on the part of Roose. A straight man is not "amputating" his attraction to other women when he marries his wife, he is merely choosing to remain faithful to her instead of acting on impulses that are still there!
                                                                                                                                                                       
The most telling and, to me, important parts of this whole article was at the end. Describing the lunch he had with the Haggard family, Roose wrote this.

At the table, we bow our heads as Gayle says grace: "Father, thank you for today. We pray for your blessings on all of this, and for your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. In Jesus' name, amen."
I look up to see Ted gazing at Gayle, the corners of his mouth pressed into a slight smile. He hadn't bowed his head at all.