Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Four days as a soldier
Over the next few days, I helped fill sandbags, dig trenches, and fill more sandbags. At one point a sergeant asked me sharply why I wasn't in uniform. I said I had just joined, and hadn't been issued one. He asked me my name, and an hour later, a PFC marched up and handed me the brown and blue. No rank, but there was my name on the breast pocket, along with Tamarac, H. Co. I hoped it would fit, since my chest was swelling with pride.
I performed the randommest assortment of jobs I'd ever done in my life; I guess no rank made me lowest man, and everyone gave me orders. I was only too happy to comply, and got to see bits of all sorts of operations. "Good thing I'm not a spy," I thought.
By Tuesday, things were really kicking into high gear. Word had come in that the Ren-Paj were on their way, and we weren't quite as ready as we'd hoped we'd be by that point. But the army is good at stepping up the pace, and "on-the-double!" became "on-the-triple!" before you could salute. I got a good assignment that day; delivering a message to Captain Chase on the Western front. That was, of course where the Ren-Paj were supposed to be coming from, so I was excited and nervous about getting closer to the real action. They'd even given me a side arm to carry. I was a good woodsman, (or marshman, as the case was, here), and got to the camp by mid afternoon. I saluted, showed the message, and then I was done. I debated hanging around, but I'd made some friends in Hotel Company, so I started back.
I was about a mile out when I started to hear shooting. I started really booking it, and soon heard shouting too. One more grove of trees, and I could see. But what was I seeing? I could see where our trenches were, and I could see lots of people in brown and blue shooting at each other, but I had no clue who was who, or where the battle lines were. It looked like a backyard water-gun fight, except people were really dying. I started to shake, and began to understand why training was so important for a soldier. Even if I could have figured out who to shoot at, I don't think I could have hit the broad side of a barn. But I was here now, and I'd be damned if I was going to run, or hide.
I started to crawl forward. My eyes aren't the best, and I hoped once I got in closer I might be able to figure out who was who. I got to an old bridge, all overgrown with vines, enough that I could crawl along it without being exposed. Just as I started across, still on my belly, and soldier came pounding pell-mell up the bridge from the other side. He was wearing a Tamarac uniform, but he was weilding an unfamiliar gun. I use the term weilding loosely, since he was firing apparently indescriminantly in all directions, while running. If he'd hit anyone, it was pure lucky chance. Apparently it was an automatic weapon, because when he reached the peak of the bridge he held down the trigger and started a traversing arc. "Shit!" I thought, "it's coming this way!" I pulled my gun out, but I still wasn't sure which side he was on. I debated just putting my head down and hoping his shots would go over me, or that someone else would shoot him, which had to happen soon, since he was standing, completely exposed in the middle of the bridge. I tried this, but then I really couldn't see what was happening, and started shaking even more. I peeked, and saw that his arc was getting closer to me. "Fuck it," I thought, "it's going to be him or me." I lined up my shot, but as I lifted my head to get a better view, his arc finally came around.
Time slowed down. I used to think that was just a figure of speech, but I honestly think it did slow down--either that, or I have a more vivid imagination than I thought, because suddenly I could see his bullet coming towards me. It was just a tiny, bright speck, but surrounded by a balloon of warped air, like heat waves over a campfire. Too bad my body couldn't move as fast as my brain or I could literally have ducked out of the way. As it was, I must have somehow pulled my trigger, because I saw a second bullet, travelling the other way, toward his head.
His one-in-hundreds lucky shot was better than mine though. The bullet went in my neck, taking out my left jugular and windpipe, and exiting between my shoulder blades. (I know, because I could feel it. It didn't hurt though.) The last thing I saw was my bullet ruffling his hair as it missed.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
New Moon: Dakota Fanning as Jane (*Spoilers*)
Here is a description of Jane from when Bella first sees her in New Moon: "At first I thought it was a young boy.... The body...was slim and adrogynous. But the face was too pretty for a boy. The wide-eyed, full-lipped face would make a Botticelli angel look like a gargoyle." (pg. 456). On the next page, it refers to "the little one called Jane", and later, when Jane smiles, the narration notes that "the expression [makes] her look like an angelic child." (pg. 467).
I will give that Dakota is very sweet and angelic looking, and even happens to have wide eyes and full lips. But I'm less convinced that this budding young woman can be made to look "androgynous", nor that doing so will get any easier the older she gets, nor that the film makers will even try, given that beautiful women tend to be a selling point for Hollywood films.
There is also the issue of her voice**. In New Moon, Bella notices Jane's "childish voice" (pg. 456), and when Jane laughs, "the sound sparkle[s] with delight like a baby's cooing." (pg. 464) In the climax of Breaking Dawn we see another side of her: "Jane let out a high-pitched scream of a snarl."
I just watched a bunch of videos of Dakota Fanning, (including this one) and her voice is not child-like any more (it used to be). It's deep and rich, definitely teenage, and even in the trailer for Push, where her character is more bad-ass, I can't imagine her doing Jane's high-pitched witch-girl scream. Granted, she's an actress, and can probably do a lot to sound more girlish, or more evil, but again, I highly doubt that the director is going to ask her to do that.
I'm not just arguing against this casting choice because I don't like films changing stuff from books. Normally I don't care, or I even side with the filmmakers. I don't care intrinsically if the actress playing Jane is older than she is in the book. What I'm worried about is that she's too old to play the character. Jane's character is defined largely by the fact that she looks and sounds like an innocent child, yet she is the most sadistic of all the vampires. Casting a young woman instead of a girl diminishes the repulsive contrast between Jane's angelic appearance and girlish voice, and her demonic personality.
Is there really that much difference between the innocence of a 10-year-old and that of a 15-year-old? Yes there is; it's called puberty. The obvious signs of womanhood make it impossible to ignore a young woman's sexuality, and in Western culture (the setting for Twilight), sexuality is the opposite of innocence.
I'm sure Dakota Fanning will do a fine job in New Moon. She might even rock Jane's character, instilling fear in our hearts, and putting Jane on a future edition of Entertainment Weekly's Best Villians list. But I will always wonder: could Jane have been even better if they had cast a younger girl?
*In case you missed it, there was a big toodoo about Taylor Lautner continuing in the role of Jacob. Apparently not everyone was convinced that this cute 17-year-old boy could play a 25-year-old, 6' 5" werewolf. I think he'll do just fine, with a little time to bulk up, (which he is doing), and with some help from camera tricks and make-up. He definitely has Jacob's sunny smile, as well as great chemistry with Kristen Stewart (Bella).
**I can think of some pretty innappropriate voices cast in recent films. Even some in which only the actor's voice was cast! Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in LOTR (way too nasally for a great king, let alone a kick-butt ranger), Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep in Prince Caspian (um, he's a mouse, he should have a high, squeaky voice), and Rachel Weisz as Saphira in Eragon (she's a gigantic dragon, but her voice is soft and light).
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Obama's Inauguration Speech
At the end of his speech, I wanted a job working for this guy! I hope that even some of his detractors were open-minded enough to see that he is not some crazy, idealistic liberal, but that he is going to work hard to find realistic solutions to the problems facing America today.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
One of my friends said, "I don't know why I continued reading The Host, because it was so bad!" Now that I've read it, I understand why she disliked it, but also why she kept reading.
The Host is frighteningly similar to Twilight. The main characters are almost identical, the writing style is identical, and even the confusing is-it-well-written-or-not is similar.
While I fell in love with the characters of Twilight, especially Bella, the characters in The Host felt creepy and wrong. The main character drove me crazy, and because her decisions drove most of the plot, that also drove me crazy. Can I say the book is badly written if it can make me crazy, and make me want to continue reading it?
I think history will be the best judge of whether Stephenie Meyer is a good writer, or whether she just wrote in a way that appealed to young people in the early part of this century. For now, I will just say: read Twilight because it rocks, and if you like it, and you love to read, try The Host at your own risk!
PS: My cat liked the book.