Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Long And The Short Of It

Last weekend, we surprised the wife with a baby shower. Family and friends were all extremely generous - I've never seen so many presents in my life - and Jenna spent the better part of four hours just opening everything. Thanks again to everyone!

One of the more interesting gifts was a copy of War and Peace. I thought it was a pretty cool gift, being something Baby Girl O'Rourke wouldn't use until she's a bit older.

War and Peace is notorious for its length. Rick Reilly, famous sports writer, once described how far John Daley hit a golf ball by saying, "He's longer than Tolstoy." I have yet to read WaP, but I did enjoy Anna Karenina, which itself is not short by any means.

Anyway, I found a wiki link to the world's longest novels and was amazed to find this. Marienbad My Love, a self-published work, spans over 17 million words. I will never even attempt to read this book, but here's the blurb for it:

Coppell, TX - Texas writer Mark Leach has published an expanded edition of "Marienbad My Love," the world's longest novel, that tops 17 million words and also sets new records for the world's longest word, sentence and book title.

The Coppell, Texas, writer has been making a run at the record books with his still-growing story of a Christ-haunted filmmaker who believes he is called on by God to bring about the end of the world by producing a science fiction-themed pastiche of the 1961 French New Wave classic, “Last Year at Marienbad.”

And here I thought my book, The Unearthed, was a bit long-winded at 80,000 words!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Signs Point To An Invasion!!!! And More On The Legend of Zelda

First, I find out that Captain Lou Albano passed away. Then I read about this strange cloud hovering over Moscow.

Are the two connected? Absolutely. How couldn't they be? What do they mean? Well, I'll tell you: an alien invasion is imminent. Either that or it's just a meaningless coincidence. But one can never be too prepared, right?

For those of us who don't remember or never knew of the Captain, he was a fixture in the WWF in the 80s and also appeared in the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, a strange hybrid of live action and cartoon. The best part of SMBSS was, once a week (usually Fridays), they would air an episode not about the Mario Bros, but about the continuing adventures of Link, our hero from The Legend of Zelda. On The Legend of Zelda TV show, Link divided his time by going toe-to-toe with the evil wizard Ganon and his minions and trying to score with the Princess, who just wouldn't give it up, no matter how great the heroic deeds he performed.

For more on Zelda, check out my previous post, The Greatest Video Game Ever Made.

Anyway, back to this invasion...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Kept My Appointment With The Wicker Man, But He Wasn't That Cool

Sorry to be so flip about what is considered a cult classic, but I can't help but wonder why this flick is held in such high regard. And no, I'm not talking about the remake with Nicolas Cage, I'm talking about the original movie that so many people love, venerate, and ironically worship with a religious fervor.

This movie falls into "the hero is so stupid that I don't even care what happens to him" camp. Why we're supposed to like the policeman protagonist is beyond me, as every step of the way he's dumb, not the least bit cautious considering the circumstances, and appropriately pig-headed. The defenders of this movie will retort by saying, "Ah, yes, but we're not supposed to like him." To which I respond, "If we're not supposed to like him, then why do I care if (SPOILER) he's burned alive at the end of the movie?"

Huh? Why do I care? That's right. I don't.

In all fairness, this movie may have been overhyped for me. A few people previously told me it was the scariest, most terrifying movie they'd ever seen. But I found very little about it scary. The plot essentially evolves around this policeman trying to locate a young girl who a) is missing, b) doesn't exist, c) is dead, d) may not really be dead, e) who is alive, and f) who may be sacrificed in a pagan ritual. The cop reaches the summit of his stupidity when, in an audience head-smacking moment, he divulges his findings and his plans to Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee), the man who at least the audience is smart enough to know must be at the center of everything.

The score doesn't help. A 70s soft-rock, easy-listening melody plays at various points, which seriously undermines any tension or creepiness, and which calls attention to itself in all the wrong ways.

Like I say, maybe this was a case of a film being overhyped. Though, I think much of the male admiration of this movie has to do with the fact there's a lot of naked women dancing and/or fornicating throughout. Christoper Lee and the lead (as unlikeable as the character is) turn in solid performances, but on the whole this movie is just okay.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Making Fun Of Men Who Drink Cider Is UnAmerican

Hard cider currently enjoys, at best, a so-so reputation in the United States. Ordering cider at the bar will lose you macho points almost as quickly as ordering a Shirley Temple. You might as well ask the guys at the bar around you to kick your ass and then politely thank them for it.

It's a travesty that cider isn't held in the same regard as beer, for cider is delicious, it does not dull the taste buds as many beers do, and it packs quite the alcoholic punch, usually just as much as beer. So where did this beer is better than cider idea come from? It's my belief that cider (along with many other good drinks) actually tastes too good to be taken seriously. After all, real alcoholic beverages are supposed to be difficult to drink, right? Beer is good, and I probably prefer it to cider, but let's be honest, beer's an acquired taste. The first beer you had as an underage youngster didn't taste all that great. Nor did the six-pack of Natural Light you sucked down every night during college.

And liquor is even more of an acquired taste. Downing a shot of whiskey or scotch or tequila, even over ice, is rough going despite however many years you've been drinking the stuff. However, in that strange universe where machoism meets masochism (coincidence those words are so close?), the tougher to drink, the better the liquor.

The good news is, this anti-ciderism seems localized to the United States; across the pond, cider is an acceptable, often preferable, alternative to beer. Why is that the case? I don't know, but it's time cider got the recognition it deserves. It's time we returned to our roots. Today, I came across this great article on For you Yanks out there that scoff at the notion of cider being an acceptable drink for a man, scoff no more, ye bastards, and the next time you're at one of the few bars in the States that offers a cider on tap, drink up, admit to the error of your ways, and repent.

As it turns out, cider was the "favored beverage among America's founding generation." Yes, men like George Washington and John Adams enjoyed this great drink, and apparently, in great quantities. Revolutionary war soldiers drank it to fortify themselves between battles. Children enjoyed a diluted version called "ciderkin." The Slate article does a great job at exploring the history of cider in America, so I won't rehash it all here. Instead, I'm going to issue this call to arms. I'm going to be so bold as to declare this America's first War On Anti-Ciderists. It's time we resurrected our forgotten American tradition of drinking lots of cider and imbibe this fabulous concoction the way the founding fathers did. And as it was the drink of the original patriots, I think it appropriate here to propose this amendment to the US Patriot Act:

"To enhance patriotism and bolster the sense of community in these United States. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled that,

TITLE XI - The Consumption of Hard Cider

Sec. 101

Henceforth all Americans, males included, shall be lauded for drinking hard cider and encouraged to do so on a daily basis.

Sec. 102

Any individual who maliciously and wantonly ridicules any individual for drinking hard cider shall be subject to criminal and civil penalties, including five (5) years in prison and up to $1000 in fines for each offense."

Please impress upon your friends and family the importance of this proposed legislation. We will need all the help we can get to have this enacted. And make sure to drink cider whenever you get the chance.