Archive for April, 2007

Megagaltasm
April 30, 2007

False modesty aside, I have created the greatest game ever. Great way to pass the time in school.

Megagaltastic:
adj. (mega – gall’-tastik)
characterized by an extensive vocabulary.

I don’t really feel like explaining the etymology here, so for some info on the origin of the word, please check out the relevant episode of The Show. Or, for non-Facebook people, see it embedded below:

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Anyway, this has all inspired the game, which as you can see from the post title, is called Megagaltasm. The object of the game is basically to see how absurdly pretentious and unnecessarily loquacious you can become in an English class without the teacher catching on that something’s up. Here are the rules:

1. The game must be played in an English class, preferably an advanced one if you’re still in high school. In college, any old English class will do.

2. The game can be played with any number of players, but the more, the better. See if you can get the entire class in on it! But be careful, because if the teacher finds out about the game, it’s over.

3. The game lasts until either the teacher discovers its existence or some arbitrarily decided point (usually a major vacation or the end of the semester).

4. Points are only handed out during class discussions.

5. Points can be gathered in the following ways:

  • Using unnecessarily large or obscure words
  • Using Latin or French sayings, preferably in the original language
  • Quoting authors from the Western canon. Extra points for difficult works, obscure authors, or quoting in the original language
  • Ending any sentence with either “as it were” or “if you will.”
  • Inventing French or Latin sayings that don’t actually exist
  • Pretentious quotes from obscure authors or philosophers that don’t actually exist

WARNING: If the teacher catches you doing either of the last two, then whatever value of points you stood to gain will be deducted instead.

NOTE: Stringing together a sentence that clearly makes no logical sense but sounds coherent enough so that the teacher pretends to understand it to avoid appearing ignorant in front of the class will double the point value of that sentence.

6. Words, sayings and quotations will decrease in point value the more frequently they are used in the class.

7. Points will be assigned by the Gameskeeper, who will occasionally call out point values after somebody in the class scores on a particularly noteworthy sentence. Since there are no point values set in stone, the role of a Gameskeeper is highly subjective, although the Gameskeeper is expected to be impartial towards all players.

8. At the end of the game, the Gameskeeper will read off the scores that s/he has presumably been recording over the course of the entire game. The winner gets either a prize or punched in the mouth for being such an insufferable smartass, whichever seems more appropriate at the time.

Remember: anyone who’s in an English class can play, and it’s a fun way to get through a boring period. Hell, playing enough might even boost your grade. So why not try starting a game in your own class?

Some Good News
April 30, 2007

Let’s just get this part out of the way first. I was wrong, many other people were right: Battlestar Galactica is really, really good. I know I’m kind of late jumping on the bandwagon, but I had my reasons. Namely, when it first came out there was this sensibility about it that it wasn’t “real” sci-fi because it featured actual characters and plot. Needless to say, that kind of genre elitism rankled me quite a bit.

But the show’s really, really good, and I’m kind of addicted now. And there’s really no way around that.

Also, The Carthian is now more or less done, which is to say I have less than a chapter to go and some not insignificant cleaning up to do. But the plot, as it is, is more or less resolved, which is more than a little bit relieving because until the end even I wasn’t 100% how this whole thing was going to end relatively neatly. Time for more query letters.

Which I should get out pretty shortly, because I’ve actually found a positive conduit for senioritis: earlier in the year I would use a moderately grueling school day as an excuse to avoid work as soon as I got home, but now that I’ve fessed up to the fact that nothing productive or even remotely challenging gets done in school anymore, I’ve started to become more productive outside of school. That means I get to finally write more, work on the guitar, and maybe finally clean my room.

Oh, and one more piece of good news: the paper of record is dropping out of that incestuous circle-jerk we know as the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Good for them.

Penultimacies
April 28, 2007

About the whole no updates this week thing: I’ve been very busy laying out my penultimate issue of Blue Prints. And now that I’ve got a little breathing room, I plan to spend it finishing the penultimate chapter of The Carthian, and sending out more query letters.

And while we’re on the theme here, next week begins the penultimate month of my time in high school.

I’m almost done with The Carthian, and as the end approaches and we get further and further into election ’08 I find myself getting more and more weary of politics. That doesn’t mean I’m becoming apathetic by any means, but I’m finding it really difficult to actually like any of the candidates. It all seems like a contest between mediocrity and dangerous lunacy, and I’ll certainly support mediocrity in those circumstances but not enough to volunteer for it and not enough to avoid taking my shots at both.

I don’t know if I could make a career out of politics, the way things are going. I’ve been burned and disillusioned too many times since 2000. I just want to write, although my writing is obviously going to be heavily influenced by my political views. The Carthian is a good example of that – a large part of it came from frustration with the Bush administration. But right now, I need to take a breather.

My next project won’t be about politics. It’s going to be about adolescence, but like everything else I write it’s also going to be about something that most adolescents don’t have to deal with – in this case the Greco-Roman pantheon of gods. I guess you could call it my parting shot at high school.

I really, really need an agent.


April 25, 2007

Is Bush beginning to position himself so that he can give into calls for a timetable while saving some face?

That’s certainly what it looks like from the lede of this article.

NEW YORK, April 24 — President Bush said Tuesday that the verdict is still out on whether the Iraqi government can make the political changes necessary to end sectarian violence as he offered a mixed report card on the progress of his new Iraq strategy.[Emphasis mine]

Hear that? It’s the Iraqi government’s job to end sectarian violence, not ours. This whole mess their country is in is their responsibility.

This is the same kind of disturbing rhetoric we’ve been hearing from the Democratic side since 2006. Now don’t get me wrong – obviously, I favor withdrawal. But to frame the mess Iraq is in as somehow being the fault of Iraqis or it being their responsibility to “step up” is just insulting. It’s not that Iraqis haven’t been throwing enough elbow grease at this.

We destroyed their country, and put them in this horrible position, and no we’re admitting that we just can’t see a way out of it except that our continued presence is making things worse. It’s an ugly truth, but lying to ourselves about this is even worse.

But I suppose Bush can tell himself whatever he wants if it opens us up to getting out of there. He can even give strangely callous and disconnected assessments of what’s going in Iraq, like below:

“The good news is that sectarian death is down in Baghdad,” Bush said. “The bad news is that spectacular car bombs still go off, in a way that tends to shake the confidence of the Iraqi people that their government can protect them.”

Car bombs do a lot more than shake confidence – it’s not like threatening graffiti, it’s a weapon that’s killed both Iraqis and our own troops. There’s something really weird and a little disturbing about the president’s insistence on framing this as primarily a public image issue.


April 25, 2007

Based on Ezra Klein’s professed dislike of really good books that grab you, I would like to strongly recommend that he avoid The Name of the Wind. If you can get through the first 50 pages, you’re going to be totally addicted. And considering that this is the first in a trilogy of three massive books, that’s just not healthy.

I was a little skeptical at first. Patrick Rothfuss has created a world that, at first glance, seems more or less like the typical medieval Europe analogue you find in a lot of places – but he manages to keep a sense of wonder in it and think out all of the smaller details really carefully to give it verisimilitude.

Most importantly, he does something you don’t see in a lot of fantasy – he decided to populate his world with living, breathing people. I feel like I know these characters, especially the main character Kvothe – he’s the most compelling epic hero that I’ve encountered in a long time. He may be superhuman in a lot of ways, but he’s profoundly human in all the ways that matter.


April 23, 2007

I’m not as comics literate as I used to be – it’s a difficult habit to support in a town with no comic book shop – so it doesn’t really mean anything that I don’t recognize a lot of the titles on this list (via Fark). Some of them certainly seem interesting though, and I’ll do my best to check some of them out.

Still, no Watchmen? How can any list of good graphic novels leave out Watchmen? It’s like leaving James Joyce off a list of the best English-language literature of the 20th century.

Not to be confused with the Justice League
April 22, 2007

For anyone who’s going to be at the Junior Statesmen’s conference in Stamford CT tomorrow, I’m going to be there taking part a little bit in former Ned Lamont for Senate deputy campaign manager John Murphy’s keynote address, along with another young volunteer from the campaign. Should be a good time.

And speaking of campaigns, I really hope that this is true. I’m not convinced that this means Gore is running, but it’s probably the strongest indication we’ve seen yet. We’ll see, but if he’s running he’ll be my guy – the guy in the race who I’d actually be willing to volunteer for.

Surreal Quote of the Day
April 20, 2007

“If Harry Reid believes that this war is lost, where is his plan to win this war?”
- Rep. Peter Hoekstra R-MI, on Senator Harry Reid’s statement that the War in Iraq is already lost.

This is a perfect example of the downside of party discipline. The system for how a Republican rebuttal quoted in your average article goes something like this:

1. Karl Rove or some other party hack has an idea for a phrase that will make Democrats look bad, or at least piss them off. He writes this into some talking points and distributes them throughout the Republican party and their media allies.
2. A reporter is writing an article about something some Democrat said. He contacts GOP ally A.
3. Mr. A, in this case Congressman Hoekstra, reads a line off from the list of talking points, instead of thinking for himself and coming up with his own thing to say.

Usually that works pretty well for them. The more times they announce the exact same message, the more likely someone will actually buy it. But in this case, it kind of backfired, because in context this particular talking point doesn’t make any sense. I’m not talking about making sense knowing the facts of the case, since most GOP talking points don’t really conform to reality. I’m talking about the internal logic of the quote. Given that the Pentagon is very far away from having a working time machine, I’m not sure what kind of plan Hoekstra expects from Reid.

Here’s my advice to Rep. Hoekstra: next time, try thinking about what you’re going to say instead of mindlessly reciting talking points. It might help you avoid sounding like David Brent. Then again, it might not.

420
April 20, 2007

Hey, it’s 4/20, everyone! And you know what that means. It means that if you go to high school (and most likely, college) you’re going to have people coming up to you all day, loudly announcing the date, and then reminding you that you know what that means. I recommend blank stares in response.

Get ready for Monday, 4/23 and hearing a lot of stories about spending the whole weekend watching Grandma’s Boy over and over again and how totally awesome it was.


April 19, 2007

It looks like there wasn’t a whole lot of new information in Gonzales’ testimony this morning. Once again, he’s denied that the federal prosecutors were fired for political reasons, and once again he has completely failed to provide another plausible explanation.

At this point, there’s only one possible explanation for all of this. Gonzales is refusing to explain himself because he’s trying to protect the American people.

Who knows what dark secrets those prosecutors hold? And who knows to what lengths they would go to protect those secrets? That’s why Gonzales fired them, and that’s why he can’t reveal them as the vile, shape-shifting lizards they are to the world.

Thank you, Alberto Gonzales. You’re a true American hero.

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