Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Most Pointless Tournament in the History of Time

Over at Hulu, there’s been this tournament going on – Best In Show – where popular television shows have been battling it out tourny style to see what show is, in fact, the best. Well, perhaps not best. But most loved by fans.

Yeah, read that again. Most loved by FANS. The people who are supposed to be voting in a fan-decided poll. The people whose votes only count for one vote.

So then why does super douche critic Ken Tucker get a vote that counts for 25% of the final vote?

Seriously, how does that make any sense? Why would you run a fan-based tournament only the set it up so that the critic gets to basically hand pick the finalists?

Let’s look at it like this. Say 100 people have voted. Show A has 60% of the vote, while Show B has 40% of the vote. Clearly, the fans have spoken. They prefer Show A. And not by some tiny difference of something like 5%. They prefer Show A by a pretty damn big 20%. That’s not something you can just brush off. In a poll that’s meant for the fans to be choosing their favorites, that means there is a clear winner.

And while the fans, who, again, this tournament is meant for, get votes that count as one vote, as one person, the Ken Fucker gets to swoop in with 25% of the vote. So, basically, his vote counts as if he were a bunch of people.  In our Show A and Show B scenario, there have now been 101 people who have voted, but that final 1 vote counts for several people instead of just the one it should count for. So now Show A has 48% and Show B has 52%.

Tell me I’m not the only one who sees how RIDICULOUS that is.

Seriously, what is the point of running a tournament for the fans if you’re just going to turn around and say to the critic who’s running it, “But if you don’t like the way things turn out, you can just pick who you want to win. It doesn’t matter.”

I really can’t think of any reason why Ken Tucker should have been allowed a 25% vote. Really. Give me a reason. I would love to hear it.

This is frakking playground behavior. This is the way a ten year old would behave, telling his classmates they’re allowed to play the game, but only if he wins in the end.

I can understand the need to have a high weighted vote in the case of a tie. That makes sense, giving the critic perhaps the “tie breaking” vote, or a vote worth something like MAYBE 5%. But 25%? That absolutely ludicrous, and it renders the entire thing pointless.

And before you ask, yes, it’s Community’s loss that triggered this rant. Am I getting a little overly upset about a television show losing? Yeah, probably. But if it had actually lost, fairly, through the actual votes of the fans I wouldn’t have been that upset. But the fact of the matter is that Community DID win. It DID beat The Simpsons. And not by some small margin, not by something so small that there needed to be a tie breaking weighted vote cast. It won by 20%. But because Ken Tucker doesn’t like Community, it doesn’t get to advance to the finals.

And that, my friends, is bullshit.

So the next time any site thinks of running a tournament like this, that’s “for the fans”, try actually making it for the fans, and not just another chance for some lame critic to jerk off over his favorite shows.

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Filed under Random musings, Television

Chris Evans is Captain America

Just reporting the news I’m sure everyone has heard by now. Last week, Evans beat out the competition (including the much talked about John Krasinski) and was offered the role of Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, the First Avenger. He has accepted the role and it’s now official: Chris Evans is Captain America.

Despite the fact that Mark Valley is my first choice, I understand that they want to go younger and I think Evans is a fine choice. Well done.

On a side note, I can’t be the only one who thinks they aren’t going to hit that 2012 release date for The Avengers?

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Fact vs. Conjecture in Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner structures the story of the Sutpen family in Absalom, Absalom! as a Southern myth, passed down from generation to generation. Since we’re hearing nearly the entire story from second and third had narrators, it’s difficult to tell what parts of the story are fact and what parts are fiction.

The first narration comes from Miss Rosa, who is the only narrator we have who has firsthand knowledge and experience with the Sutpen family. But she wasn’t even born yet when her sister married Thomas Sutpen, when her sister gave birth to her two children, so a good deal of her narration is still told as second hand information, what she assumes to be the truth based on what little her sister and father told her, and based on  her own personal prejudice. And her personal prejudice against Thomas Sutpen is so great that it’s hard to say that even  her narration of the pieces of the story in which she was present are even completely factual, or if she may be misremembering after years of festering hatred and rage.

None of the other narrators in the book have first hand experience with the story. Quentin, Mr. Compson, and Shreve can only, at their most objective, tell the story as it was told to them. Naturally, though, they add their own thoughts to the story. As the story exists in Yoknapatawpha County, there are still blank spaces of misinformation. It’s not until Quentin returns to Sutpen’s Hundred with Miss Rosa in 1909 that the entire truth of the story is revealed.

So, with those blank spaces, the narrators insert their own thoughts and speculations about what really happened to the Sutpen family, and their conjectures are clearly based on their personalities and behavior. Mr. Compson, a man preoccupied with the idea of a dark destiny, imagines things like Sutpen meaning to name his daughter Clytie Cassandra, to symbolize the ruin she would bring to the family. Quentin gets distracted and focuses on certain parts of the story more than other, specifically the relationship betwee the siblings Henry, Judith, and Charles. Shreve, who is the furthest removed from the story, approaches the tale from a more romantic and dramatic viewpoint, constructing an entire history for Charles Bon based completely and entirely on conjecture.

In the end, though we have all of the basic facts of the case, the character of Thomas Sutpen is still something of a mystery. We know how other people percieve him, but he’s long dead, so we still have no idea what he was really like underneath it all. We only have Rosa’s demonized version of him, Mr. Compson’s idea of him as a charsmatic and determined man who was cursed and doomed from the start, and the older Sutpen that Quentin has heard of from his grandfather, a man who’s dream dynasty has fallen apart. General Compson’s version of Sutpen is probably closest to the truth, since he was the man’s closest friend, but even then, it’s only second hand information. Sutpen never has the ability to speak for himself.

And, as we never really know for sure what Sutpen is like, we can never know for sure how things really happened, even if we do know the most basic facts. We can only guess what Judith’s reaction truly was when Henry shot Charles. We can only imagine how Henry really felt about knowing that Charles Bon was his brother. If anything, knowing more of the facts simply makes the characters and their personalities and feelings more mysterious.

In the end, people are more complicated than the stories they inspire.

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Filed under Books, Faulkner February

Absalom, Absalom! Wrap Up

Look at me, finishing things. Okay, I’m finishing them late, but I’m finishing them. Expect Sound and the Fury to be finished by next weekend.

Absalom, Absalom! is probably Faulkner’s most difficult work. Not only does he use several different narrators (a narrative device he actually uses in many of his books), but most of them are telling stories second hand, stories that they weren’t even alive to see. We will sometimes hear the same story told more than once from different perspectives, and it can be frustrtating trying to understand a character and pin down his motivations when we can’t be sure if any of the accounts we’re being given are 100% factual.

Faulkner wants to present the story of Thomas Sutpen as a Southen myth, a legend that’s been passed around and told throughout Faulkner’s fictitious Yaknapatawpha County, where most of his books have taken place. The reader is treated like a resident of Jefferson, as though this is a story we’ve heard before. Some characters are simply referred to as “she” or “he” before they’re even introduced, as though we already know who these people are.

Like other in other Faulkner novels, the fall of the Sutpen family represents the fall of the South. For Quentin, the most present and important narrator of the book, the story is the representation of the South for him, which is something the perplexes his roommate, Shreve. Why would a story of such sadness and violence and doom be the story Quentin tells to explain the South to people in Cambridge? Shreve asks Quentin why he hates the South. Quentin claims he doesn’t, but it’s clear his feelings about his home are conflicted, to say the least. He has a difficult time accepting the death of the old Southern ideals of chivalry and good girls and honorable men, and to him, the story of the Sutpen family is the story of that death.

Quentin, who appeared in Faulkner’s earlier novel The Sound and the Fury is a good choice for the most frequent and present narrator in the story, based on his experiences in The Sound and the Fury (which actually mostly take place after Absalom, Absalom!) He’s a man obsessed with the concept of time and of the past. And that’s what the Sutpen story is all about. It’s about holding onto the past. Just as Quentin tried so desperately to hold onto the Southern past, the idea of genteel and virginal women in relation to his sister Caddy, Rosa is clinging to the past, the idea she has of Thoms Sutpen as a demon, It’s a past she’s unable to let go of.

Of course, there’s a tragedy to Quentin being such an important character. When Miss Rosa tells him that she wants to tell him her story, she says that maybe he’ll grow up, and get married, and have kids, and when he’s older he’ll think of her story and tell it to others. Quentin tells the story to Shreve, but he’ll never tell the story again after that. A few months after the end of Absalom, Absalom, in the spring of 1910, Quentin commits suicide. The very last lines of the book give us a peek inside of Quentin’s head, and we see the beginnings of the inner torture that brings him to his final act. His inability to reconcile his feelings about where he comes from.

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Filed under Books, Faulkner February

Absalom, Absalom! Chapters 8 and 9

I’m not so crazy about chapter 8, because it’s the least objective and factual chapter of all. Granted, it’s possible that it’s all true, but at this point Quentin and Shreve are so into the story that now they’re simply imagining Charles Bon’s life.  The even completely create a new character, the lawyer who they figure took care of Charles and his mother, who handled the money Sutpen left for them. They figure that his mother raised him with the plan to use him to get revenge on her husband for leaving.

They then imagine Charles meeting Henry, then Ellen and Judith, and that he eventually realized that Sutpen was his father, and his engagement to Judith was his attempt to get his father to acknowledge him. The basically think up scenes for everything – Sutpen telling Henry that Bon was his brother, Charles and Henry at war. They even decide it makes more sense to change the story – that it was Henry who was wounded in the war, and that Charles saves him, not the other way around as it was previously told.

They imagine Henry’s indecision over allowing Charles to marry Judith, and how Henry finally decides not to allow it. Not because of the incest, but because his father tells him of Charles’ negro blood.

They also think about Judith, just after Henry kills Charles. Instead of the picture of herself she sent Charles, she finds a picture of his mistress and child. Shreve looks at this romantically, speculating that Charles knew Henry would kill him, and so he replaced the picture as a way to tell Judith that he wasn’t worth grieving over. Shreve believes that Bon was marrying Judith mostly because he wanted his father to acknowledge him as his son, but he also believes that he really did love her.

These retellings of the story, which are based on little more than Shreve and Quentin’s imagination, are Faulkner showing the nature of a myth or legend, the way people who retell it put their own creative spin on it.

Then they talk about the night that Miss Rosa took Quentin to Sutpen’s Hundred to find what Miss Rosa was sure was hiding there. When they enter, Clytie tries to stop Rosa, in a scene not unlike when Rosa arrived after Bon’s death. But this time Rosa pushes Clytie to the ground

In a bedroom, they find Henry Sutpen, who has returned home in his old age to, as he tells Quentin, die. When he went home that night, Quentin felt the need to bathe, to scrub away what he had seen – the dying, decrepit, depressing remains of a once great family.

Eventually, Rosa sent an ambulance to Sutpen’s Hundred to collect Henry. She hadn’t been able to save Judith, as she’d promised her sister she would, but perhaps she could save Henry. But when Clytie saw the ambulance coming, she thought it was the police coming to take her brother away for the decades-old crime of killing Bon, and she set the house on fire, killing both of them.  The mixed-race idiot Jim Bond is the last remaining Sutpen.

In the end, Shreve wonders why Quentin, when asked about what the South was like, would tell this horrific story. Shreve asks him why he hates the south. Quentin vehemently denies that he hates the south out loud to Shreve, and then continues to deny it even more adamantly in his mind, to himself. “I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it!”

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Filed under Books, Faulkner February