Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3D televisions have not been invented yet.

I know what you're thinking. "Luke, I've seen all these advertisements for 3D TVs. I've even tried one out with the glasses at a store." Ah, but all those TVs that are available now, which the companies that manufacture them are so quick to label as "3D" or even "True 3D," aren't 3 dimensional at all. And more than that, they shouldn't be called 3D televisions.

The televisions available now claim to be 3D because they can (through one method or another) send two different images into the left and right eye, simulating depth perception and making the brain think that it is looking at a 3-dimmensional object. However, 3D opjects have more properties than just being perceived with depth. To see what I mean, ogo ahead and pick up a 3D object that you probably have near you; a pen. Hold it close to your face and close your right eye to look at it with just your left eye. Now, quickly close your left eye and look at it with just your right eye. You'll probably notice that the pen seems to have "jumped" to the left. This is because each of your eyes has a slightly different point of view to see the pencil from and your brain pieces together the difference to give you a sense of how close it is to you. This is how current so-called 3D televisions work, by giving you a different image in each eye.

However, like I said, there's more to an object being 3D than just that. To see this, try holding the pen close to your face again. While looking at it, tilt your head to the side. Since the pen is a real 3D object, you notice that as you move your head to the left, the pen seems to move to the right in your field of vision, and visa versa. If this were a current "3D" television you were looking at, instead of a real 3d object, then it would just seem to hover in front of your face when you move it, rather than going from side to side. If you move your head up and down relative to the pen, you should notice the same thing. And finally, if you move your head forward (beside the pen, not directly into it), you'll notice that you can see other angles of the pen; its side and rear which were previously hidden to you. There's quite a bit more ways to look at something that's actually 3D than the "3D televisions available today, right?

That's exactly why we have a long way to go before we truly have 3D televisions. The televisions we have today are important as a stepping stone to that technology. Rather than 3D, let's call them 2.1D displays. They are able to create the illusion of depth perception, but they are still outputting 2D images (just that they're producing 2 2D images at a time). Their are several methods used by displays now to achieve this effect. Some of them are use glasses to create the desired stereoscopic effect, while others use different methods (such as a paralax barrier) to create a stereoscopic effect without the use of glasses. This post will be focusing more on the latter, because I feel that they are closer in nature to their future sucessor.

The next step (which I'll call 2.25D) is to create television displays which can create a whole range of 2D images across the X-axis. Why the X-axis? Because that's the axis on which our eyes are seperated and it feels more nature to move one's head from side-to-side to get a good look at things than it does to move one's head up and down. These televisions will function similar to many glasses-less 2.1D displays now, with one exception. 2.1D displays output 2 images, one for the left and one for the right. 2.25D displays, on the other hand will output an array of images from left to right. This will still produce two different images for each eye, allowing the display to fool our depth perception, but it will also do more than that. It will allow people to see the image differently, by moving their head from side to side (or sitting at a different angle from the TV). Say you're looking at a 2.1D television, straight on. Your left and right eyes will be receiving different images. Now, if you move your head 2 inches to the left so that your right eye is where your left eye was, your eyes wont be getting any different perspective than they were before. What's more, because you're not perfectly alligned with the center of the television, you will lose the depth perception. On a 2.25D television, on the other hand, if you moved your head two inches to the left, your right eye would now be seeing what your left eye was seeing before and your left eye will see an entirely new image for the position its in. If you continue moving left, your left eye will continue to see new images for the different angles as it moves. This allows the 2.25D display to further replicate real-life objects by allowing you to view them at different angles

After that would be what I call 2.5D television. This would be very similar to 2.25D displays, except for the fact that in addition to the multiple angles of view on the X-axis, there will also be mutiple angles of view on the Y-axis. This will be a more difficult step because it will require exponentially more tenderings (for viewing of computer generated graphics) or image sensors (for recording video footage) to be seen on the screen. However, the effect will be amazing. The screen will appear to be a window into a non-existant world. Much like a real window, you will be able to peer into it from different angles in order to see different things that would otherwise be hidden by the frame. At the same time, the stereo viewing effect could be used to cause objects to appear at various distances from the window. It could even be used to make it appear that objects were passing through the window and getting even closer to the vuewer. However these objects would lose their realism as the viewer would stop seeing them if they moved their head so that it was no longer completely in front of the window (from their field of vision).

The final step would be an actual 3-dimmensional display of some kind. Whether this would still be achieved with a screen as we know it today or by some other kind of image generator is yet to be seen. The effect would be amazing. Rather than imagine it as a display or a screen, it might be better to think of it as a hologram (as they are portrayed in science fiction movies). It would be able to create the appearance of an object inside the room (outside of the display itself), which you could then walk around and view from any angle as though it were really there. Aside from trying to touch it, it would seem like this object was really in the room, in every way. That would be a true 3D display.

If you consider something like a real 3D display and then think back to the 2.1D displays we have now, you can see that we have a long way to go. We as a society (and, more importantly, the companies marketing the displays) don't need to be patted on the back and congradulated for creating 3D televisions quite yet. If we start thinking that what we have now are really 3D displays, it kind of lowers the incentive to get to work on the real ones. What we have now is certainly an accomplishment, but it's not nearly as much of an accomplishment as when we actually start producing 3D displays.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Comeback Fodder

I've noticed a trend in media lately. Everyone wants their characters to have a rapier wit and and attitude, but that's not what I'm referring to. I'm referring to the tendency to have other characters make take the role of a kind of strawman, to make comments that would otherwise make no sense simply so it can be a setup for the favoured character to make a witty comeback.
Because these characters are only saying what they're saying for the sole purpose of getting a witty comeback from another character, I have dubbed these lines "comeback fodder."
A good example would be in the Simpsons episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" (in which Sideshow Bob runs for mayor). In this episode, the host of a gubernatorial debate asks presents a criticism to Sideshow Bob that he said originated from a councilman Les Whinen. Sideshow bob replied with a witty comeback, by saying that said councilman should do "more thinkin' and less whinin'." In this instance, the comeback fodder was canonically so; created by a character rather than by the writers.
Another example is from an episode of the Boondocks:

Herein, Mr. DuBois (a lawyer) is arguing with Riley (a child) about where R. Kelly is guilty of anything for having been caught making a video of himself urinating on an underage girl. However, everything Mr. DuBois says is lacking in any intelligence and exists solely to set up Riley for whatever clever comeback the writers thought up for him.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cabbage Head Complex

I've noticed that people, in general, don't like to think negative things about themselves. And, amongst those people, I notice that some like to deflect away criticism (valid or invalid) which has been targeted at them, by saying and/or believing that it's actually criticism against some other feature of theirs. Usually, the other feature which the criticism is directed against is some feature which isn't entirely their fault, or would reflect shallowness on the person giving the criticism. For example, if you were to break up with your boyfriend and cite issues with him being an alcoholic with a borderline abusive personality, and he were to believe at all the reasons you gave him were false and the real reason you were dumping him was because he was overweight, then he would be exhibiting the kind of behaviour I'm talking about.
Occasionally, someone will latch onto a specific feature of theirs and attribute all criticisms and negative opinions people have of them to that one specific feature (or create a feature if there isn't an obvious one available) . I call this a "Cabbage Head Complex," named after a recurring character from Kids in the Hall. The basic premise behind this character is that he is rude, obnoxious, dishonest, misogynist, and also has a cabbage for a head; he'll talk to women and they'll all be repulsed by him for the former four reasons, but he inevitably blames all rejection on his cabbage head, because doing so would imply that they are rejecting him for a shallow reason, and thus they are to blame and not him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Read Twilight and Hate It: Chapter 9

    This chapter consists of nothing but Bella and Edward talking as he drives her home.  And the things they talk about consist of nothing except answers to the little questions that audience may have been wondering about until now.  Rather than have you suffer through the narration, I'm just going to provide you with a list of points that are established:

  • Edward knew where Bella was before the rapists cornered her because he "followed her scent,1" establishing another power for him: super-scent.  This, of course, makes it even harder to believe that he doesn't notice that Bella gets all hot and bothered whenever he's near her. 
  • Edward is the only one who can read people's minds (because he's special) and Bella's is the only mind he can't read (because she's double-special).  He hears the thoughts of everyone around him, as though they were just talking instead of thinking.  He thinks that he can't hear Bella's mind, because it works different than other people's.  Bella is "bothered,1" by this (probably insincerely, because every high school student loves to be told there's something non-obtrusive to their live that makes them special and different from everyone else).
  • Edward drives 40 over the speed limit everywhere because he can; he has super vampire reflexes, and can also mind-read whether or not there are cops nearby.  After that, it was Bella's turn to give some exposition:
  • Bella tells Edward where she got the notion that he's a Vampire, thus fulfilling my prediction that she would break her promise to Jacob not to tell anyone, at the drop of a hat (or, in this case, the drop of Edward's "low," "velvety" voice).  She tells him everything, even so far as to mentioning Jacob Black by name, and saying that Jacob had mentioned Edward's family specifically. 
  • Bella has decided to herself that it "doesn't matter1" whether or not Edward is a vampire (because she's got the hots for him anyways). Edward, being a more reasonable character than I usually give him credit for, freaks out at how stupid this is.  After that, it's his turn to start filling in some holes again:   
  • Edward says he's 17, but has been so for "a while.1" (ie; he is a pedophile).
  • He also let's Bella know that all the vampire legends about burning in the sun, being nocturnal, and sleeping in coffins are completely false.  That's right folks, Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu, and folklore are all full of shit.  Meyer is the only real source on vampires (according to Meyer).  Edward does, however, allude to something happening in bright sunlight (but not your piddly little Washington sunlight) that would make it obvious to those around him that he's a vampire.  Also, with regards to the sleeping-in-coffins thing, he says he doesn't sleep at all (which leads me to believe that he has a couple of level 60 characters of Word of Warcraft). 
  • He also says that he does drink blood, but he does the family-friendly cop-out of only drinking animal blood, never humans, because "I don't want to be a monster.1"  This doesn't really explain why he actually goes out and hunts for blood, rather than just getting it from a butcher shop.
  • Bella considers herself coordinated enough to smash a rapists hose bone into his brain with the palm of her hand, but not coordinated enough to run four blocks without face-planting (thus, her decision to try to fight off several attackers and Port Angeles rather than run).

     After that, there's really nothing new, just some old ideas are hashed over again. For example, Edward reminds Bella that her life could be threatened just from being near him.  She says (again) that she doesn't care, and he points out how stupid that is, which makes Bella cry.  When he asks if she's crying, she lies and says she's not, but "traitor tears were there, betraying me.1"  They wouldn't really be "traitor" tears if they didn't betray you, now, would they?
    So, they arrive at Bella's house, and as she's getting out of the car, she makes him promise that he's going to be at school the next day.  Normally, if a friend's been missing a lot of school, you might make them promise to go out of worry for their slipping grades.  In Bella's case, though, it's completely selfish; she just makes him promise so that she can see him and swoon some more.  In return, he makes her promise not to go into the woods alone, because he's "not always the most dangerous thing out there.1"  I cracked up about how he says "not always the most dangerous."  It's like he wanted to reassure her: "but don't be fooled, I am really dangerous.  Dangerous and mysterious.  I might kill you at any time... I'm a vampire."  Also, this brings up the question why he would bring it up.   Either he was spying on Bella in chapter 7 when she ran into the woods to pout (which is creepy), or he just brought this up randomly without any indication that she would go into the woods by herself (which is stupid), or it's another matter of "I know, because the author told me."
    In her house, Bella does some lying (and more lying to cover up those lies) about where she's been and how she got home, to her dad.  Then she calls Jess.  Finally, she spends some quality alone time doing what she does best, thinking about Edward.  At the very end of the chapter, she comes to the conclusion that she "was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.1"  So ends chapter ten.  
    Actually, I'm glad that she finally said that, because that means that we the readers now know all the events that lead her to be in (I would say it's lust, but just for the sake of simplicity let's call it) love with him.  A friend of mine who's a fan of Twilight suggested that I could better understand how to get women using the information in this book, so (now that we've seen all of Edward's "game"), I'm proud to present:

How to Get Women: The Edward Cullen Method (by Edward Cullen).

        Part One, First Impressions
    You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one.  No matter how much you want to date a girl, or have sex with her, or drink her blood for sustenance, never let on when you first meet her.  You should never make it clear that you like a girl; in fact, act like you hate her guts.  Without saying anything to her face, do whatever you can to avoid her, try to switch out of any classes you have with her, and just generally make it seem like you don't even want to look at her.  If you do want to look at her, though, make sure and do it with "piercing, hate-filled eyes."
    Now, the whole hate thing may seem counter-intuitive, right?  You want this girl to like you after-all.  Well, it does help her like you by fulfilling two important needs.  One: it will make you seem mysterious (chicks dig mysterious guys), because you'll be creating a mystery for her as to why you hate her so much.  Two: it'll give her a project (making you not hate you).  No body likes to be hated, so people will try to be extra-nice to people that do seem to hate them.   This does create a system where people are rewarding others for being mean to them, but no one thinks into it that much.
    Now, it's important to make sure you pretend to have the right kind of hatred for your mark.  As mentioned before, you want to have the ostensibly-unfounded kind of hate, but you don't want to have the kind you act on.  That is to say, you don't want to look like your actively seeking out your mark to punish them for whatever reason you hate them.  That's seen as the needy kind of hate.  Rather, you want to act like you're trying to avoid them at all costs, like they're not even worth your time so you're going to give them as little of it as possible.  Remember, don't be a doof; be aloof.
       Part Two, Establishing a Friendship
    If all goes well, then your mark will try to get closer to you, to fix or at least understand why you hate them.  This is good.  It means that they've shown an interest in you, and that you've made them decide in their mind that they want you to like them.  Once they start putting enough effort into it, you can drop the whole hate act.  Don't worry, though, you can always bring it back up without explanation later if you need to.  Instead of replacing it with genuine niceness or affection, just sort of act like you tolerate her, but like ultimately you're doing her a favor every time you talk to her.  And you should definitely not ask her out.  After all, if she knows that you want to date her, she might start questioning whether she wants to date you.
    Now, dominance is very important in getting a girl, especially at this stage.  It's important to let her know that you're a good mate, by ignoring whatever she says and just doing what you want.  Remember: no means yes.  If she asks you not to pick her up, you pick her ass up and carry it.  If she says she doesn't want a ride home, you tell her tough shit and that you will drag her into your car if need be.  If she says she's not hungry, you tell her that she is.  Repeated use of this tactic establishes two things in your relationship: what she wants doesn't matter compared to what you want, and you are always right (because, she always ends up doing what you want, so you must always be right). 
        Part Three, Stalking
    It's not really stalking if you do it out of love, right?  Follow her around everywhere.  Don't get to close, though.  Your purpose for stalking isn't to gather a ton of information, it's to be there and ready to swoop in when a heroic opportunity strikes.  What's a heroic opportunity?  Any time your mark is in danger (or perceived danger), you need to be able to save her like a knight in shining armor. 
    Now, I happen to have a wide range of super vampiric powers (and I usually get a new one every couple chapters or so) so it's easy for me to do things like stop skidding minivans with my face.  However, there's still a wide range of of things that you can do, such as verbally assaulting some guy who's hitting on her, or running rushing into a pack of rapists with your car to drive her away.  If you do that last one, though, make sure you wait until the last minute, so it's clear that she was in danger.  Otherwise, you wont get credit for it.  If she ever asks about you stalking her, deny it if it's believable that you would just happen to be there.  If it's not believable, then fess up, but don't say it was stalking.  Make it her fault and not yours; you're not there because you're obsessed with her, you're there because she needs you.
       Part Four, Staying Mysterious.
    If you start doing good deeds for her, you do possibly run the risk of loosing your mystique.  So, it's important to establish that your dangerous, and could possibly kill her at any moment.  Chicks dig threats.  Although most girls are too smart to fall for it, you could say you're a vampire like me.  It's not like you'll ever have to prove it; if she ever points out that she's seen you walking in broad daylight before, just tell her that "all that stuff about only coming out at night is folklore.  Vampires don't really die if exposed to sunlight, or have fangs, or drink human blood... except, I could drink your blood at any moment.  Because I'm dangerous."  Other options are that you're a murderer (but don't worry, you only murder rapists and child molesters), or that you're an assassin for the CIA (but don't worry, you only kill vile dictators, not innocent people), or that you're a member of the mafia (but don't worry, you're a reformist working within the Mafia to move it away from smuggling drugs into the country in hollowed out bodies of children, and towards things like promoting rock concerts).  The possibilities are literally endless.  Whatever you pick, though, stick with it.  And bring it up whenever you feel you might be being too nice.
        Part Five, appearances
    Confidence and emotional manipulation will only get you so far.  You get the rest of the way with rugged good looks, because (let's face it) girls are just as shallow as you.  Now, ideally you're like me and have a velvet, muted, low, rough, quiet, soft, musical,  velvet, muted voice, as well as messy blond hair, lean, muscular arms, and a charming crooked smile.  Also, tall.  If that doesn't describe you, though, then you can compensate for it by getting a sexy car (also, do some push-ups, fatty).  Now, I'm so damned sexy that I can get away with going around in a Volvo.  Hell, I could probably get away with going around in a pink BigWheel.  If you don't quite live up to my standards, though, you might want to stop my your local Mustang dealership. 
    Now, all this might seem like a lot to take in, but it can really be boiled down to just a few concepts and a simple pneumonic device.  Remember to act:
        Enigmatic around her, and give up as little information as possible
        Dangerous, like you could kill her at any moment
        Willful, as in: your will matters and hers doesn't
        Aloof, trying to avoid her
        Revolted, acting as though you despise her and the very site of her makes you want to kill yourself, and
        Dreamy, like a gorgeous, Aryan model.
    Keep these principles of the Edward method in mind at all times, and you'll have Mary Sues falling in love with you left and right.  The end.

Now, back to the story.  Stay tuned for chapter 10.


1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 9: Theories” Little, Brown and Co., 2005

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Read Twilight and Hate It: Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Port Angeles
    On the drive, they're listening to "whiny rock songs1" on the way (I find it pretty ironic that Bella would describe anything else in this book as "whiny") and chatting about boys, as Jess talks about ho well her date with Mike went.  During this conversation, Bella reveals that she's never been to a dance because (and I don't see why Stephanie Meyer thinks it's necessary to remind us of this) she's clumsy, and also because she's never had a boyfriend before (I guess none of the boys in Phoenix were sparkly enough).  Actually, she says it's because none of the boys asked her.  Jessica points out a plot hole:

        She looked skeptical. "People ask you out here," she reminded me, "and you tell them no.1

    Good point, Jess.  Are we going to get an excuse for the Sue-paradox that Bella is both wanted by every guy with a name and still playing up the whole "unlucky at love" thing?  Nope, it's just used as a segue into the fact that Tyler was telling every that he was going to the Prom with Bella.
    Anyways, their shopping trip continues, and the girls talked about boys, and "giggled while pawing through the clothes,1" and paid compliments to how each other looked in different dresses and looked at shoes, etc.  I know that Meyers actually is female, so I almost can't make this argument.  But, is it me or does she seem to write the whole "girl time" part like a middle-aged man would, like someone who has never been female and is just basing it off of stereotypes from TV and movies?  Maybe it's just my imagination.  But then again, what girls'-night-out with Bella would be complete without her bringing up Edward?  She asks Angela whether it's normal for the Cullens to be missing school a lot, and Angela rather unceremoniously reassures her: yes, yes it is.
    After they're all done with dress/shoe shopping, they decide to split up for an hour and then meet at a restaurant for dinner. 

        I wanted to go look for a bookstore.  They were both willing to come with me, but I encouraged them to go have fun - they didn't know how preoccupied I could get when surrounded by books.1

    "You two go do some stupid non-thinky thing.  Only I am allowed to enjoy books and reading."  Bella goes out walking and looking for a bookstore.  In a seemingly-pointless scene, she passes a hippie, New Age looking one and decides to forgo it and look for a "normal book-store.1"  Screw local business; I'm going to find me a Borders.   While looking, she gets lost, because her mind was busy "wrestling with despair1" about Edward.  She finds herself in sort of an industrial/warehouse district (which, inconveniently, was just one block away from the main tourist boardwalk), where she passes a group of guys who are "joking loudly among themselves, laughing raucously and punching each other's arms.1"  So, I guess it's not just girls; Meyer writes "guy-time" out as a ridiculous stereotype of male behaviour, too.
    One of the guys tries to hit on her (all the boys do), but she gets freaked out and starts walking away quickly.  As she's walking, she notices that two of the guys from the group are following her.  She keeps walking quickly down the street, trying to out-pace them, until she finds the other two guys waiting in front of her (I guess they can teleport, too).   As they close on on her, suddenly a silver car bursts through the alleyway, making the guys scramble.  A door opens, and the driver tells Bella to get in.  She does, and gets driven back to the main part of town.  The driver is Edward, obviously.  Oddly though, Meyer doesn't say it's Edward at first, just referring to him as "him1," until several paragraphs after Bella gets in the car.  Was she expecting us to be surprised that the person in the car was Edward?  Because, if so, she completely failed.
    Anyways, Edward speeds out of there with Bella, "blowing through several stop signs1."  I guess because he's worried that those guys could outrun his car if he doesn't bolt out of there.  On the way, Edward sounds really pissed off at her for almost getting raped.  After she calms him down, though, he explains that he's really pissed off at the would-be rapists, and was having trouble resisting the urge to hunt them down and slaughter them.  He drives to the Italian restaurant that Jessica and Angela are waiting out side.

        He parallel-parked against the curb in a space I would have thought much too small for the Volvo, but he slid in effortlessly in one try.1

    Bow-chika-wow wow.  You know how Bella is constantly thinking that all the guys around her are jealous over her?  Well, in the restaurant she does the same thing the whole time, except with thinking that the hostess and waitress are jealous over Edward.  You could tell the hostess would be trying to steel her man, because of her "unnatural blondness1."  Curse you bleach-blondes and your inherent evil!
    After they get seated, Bella gets jealous an tells Edward that she doesn't want him being all sparkle-sexy in front of other girl.  After that the waitress comes out, and Bella is actually thinking, when she sees her, that she was gossiping with the hostess in the kitchen about how smoking hot Edward is.  This is what she's thinking about.  She's so paranoid about other girls getting Edward, that she's actually imagining that they're conspiring together to steel him away.  Not to mention the fact that she was almost just raped, and probably has more to be shaken up about than possible competition for Edward.  Actually, I should note that the word "rape" or "rapist" is never actually used in this chapter.  It's always just replaced with a phrase like "do something horrible1" or the character trailing off before finishing their sentence.  Why Meyer decides this is beyond me.  Maybe they just didn't want this book to be too adult, so they could put it in the "teen" section at bookstores.  Although, if you ask me, having a chapter about rape is going to make the book just as mature whether you use the word or not. 
    Anyways, Edward makes Bella drink a couple Cokes (the word "Coke" is actually mentioned five times in this chapter.  Sponsorship?) and eat some pasta and bread, the whole time his eyes "golden butterscotch.1"  He asks her if she's feeling okay after the whole rape thing, but she just keeps turning the conversation back to him.  She mentions about his eyes changing colour again, and says she has some theories.  He asks to hear them, but she says she wants some information out of him first, and he agrees.  Um, that's not really a good deal for Edward; I mean, it's not like Bella's theories are going to reveal any terribly useful information about him; they're just facts about him which may or may not be true.  But, I guess the story has to move forward somehow.
    The fist question, "why are you in Port Angeles?1" Edward passes on.  The second question, "how can you read minds?" he's oddly open about.  Actually, before he answers it, it sort of evolves into "how did you know I was in trouble?"  Edward responds by saying "Only you could get into trouble in a town this small.  You would have devastated their crime rate statistics for a decade, you know1."  Okay, so he’s actually saying that it is her fault that she almost got gang-raped.  Also, it did seem really unrealistic that Bella would fall victim to street crime in a town as small as Port Angeles, but now that I've read Edward's explanation... it still seems really unrealistic.  He further elaborates the point:

        "I was wrong about you.. You're not a magnet for accidents - that's not a broad enough classification. You are a magnet for trouble.  If there is anything dangerous within a ten-mile radius, it will invariably find you1"

    He also says that he would fall into this whole trouble category, "unequivocally1."  He then goes back on his previous decision to past on her first question and announces that "I followed you to Port Angeles,1" apparently because he was trying to keep her alive.  How would he know that she'd be in danger, though?  They give the wishy-washy excuse that it's because he knew that she was a "magnet for trouble," based on her clumsiness, but there's no sound logic-track that leads from someone being clumsy to you knowing they'll be raped at a certain time and place, no matter how much you think about it.  It seems like another instance of "I know, because the author told me so." 
    Bella notes that this is the second time he's saved her life and/or virginity, and he says that it's actually the third time; saying that "your number was up the first time I met you,1" presumably because he was so tempted to kill her to drain her blood when they first met (or just kill her because she was so annoying).  Saving someone's life and refraining from murdering them are hardly the moral equivalent, though. 
    He then gives her some more information regarding her second question and lets her know that he knew she was in danger, because he could tell that she wasn't with Jessica and Angela by reading their minds, and then later was able to read the rapists' minds and see her face and what they planned on doing to her.   Wait, what?  You mean, when he was talking about reading people, he didn't mean just estimating what they were thinking by reading their body language, he actually meant looking into their heads and seeing what they were thinking.  How stupid is that?  Stephanie Meyer, apparently, was sitting in front of her computer thinking, "Well, he's already got super-strength, super-speed, super-hotness, and immortality... but maybe, that's not quite enough powers.  I'll make him psychic, too."    Protip, writers: it is your hero's weaknesses, not their strengths, that makes them great.  He also makes it clear that Bella's mind is the only one he can't read.  Maybe she lacks the delta brainwave from doing the nasty in the pasty at some point2.
    Edward laments again, how hard it was for him not to kill the would-be rapists (awww, poor Edward).  He then suggests that they leave and asks for the check, in a voice that's "quiet, rougher, still reflecting the strain of our conversation.1"  He let her into his car, and as he was walking around to the driver's side, Bella was "amazed, yet again by how graceful he was.1"  Umm... okay.  Walking to the other side of the car isn't an act that usually requires a lot of grace; but who knows, maybe he was doing some spins and pliĆ©s along the way.  They drive off, and Edward lets Bella know it's her turn to answer questions.  So ends chapter 8.
    Nice thing: it is sort of refreshing that Meyer decided to give Edward a Volvo as a car.  Given that the rest of his character design seemed like she was trying to build the "perfect man," one would guess that she'd give him some kind of sexy car, like a Charger or a Corvette, or a roadster, or at least a Beamer..  But instead, she chose to gave him a rather non-descript vehicle from a company that's known for making cars that are reliable but boring.  Kudos.  Stay tuned for Chapter 9.


1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 8: Port Angeles” Little, Brown and Co., 2005
2Futurama episode 3ACV07 "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid," Which incidentally pre-dates Twilight by four years.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Read Twilight and Hate It: Chapter 7

    Bella is distressed.  She doesn't want to think about the idea the Edward is a vampire, so she tries to drown it out by going up to her room and emoing out to some music.  I don't know why she's giving that much thought, since the only reason she really has to think this is that she heard it from a 15-year-old kid that she'd just met.  Oddly enough, though, she doesn't pick up to the thought that Jacob is a werewolf, probably because it would require her to think of something other than Edward. The strain of thinking tires her out and she falls asleep, where she actually has a dream where Jacob turns into a wolf (still, without getting a clue), and then Edward is a vampire and he goes the bite her and she wakes up.

        "I groaned, fell back, and rolled over onto my face, kicking off my boots. I was too uncomfortable to get anywhere near sleep, though.  I rolled back over and unbuttoned my jeans, yanking them off awkwardly as I tried to stay horizontal."1

    Yes!  Finally, something for the gynophilic readers to enjoy.  Except not, because the narrative strip-tease starts and ends in one sentence.  Each one of Edward's eyelashes has a sonnet written to it; you think we'd at least get a little more detail about Bella, if she was stripping anyways, at least the colour of her panties.  But no, nothing.  She just gets up and takes a shower (with a complete lack of titillating detail) then putters around doing some boring chores for awhile.
    Next, Bella decides that if she's going to be stalking a vampire, she may as well know what one is so she Googles it, and Meyer demonstrates her lack of understanding of how computers work.  "...I turned my computer on.  Naturally, the screen was covered in pop-up ads."1  Wrong, pop-up ads appear when you go to a website that utilizes them for revenue; they don't just appear when you turn on the computer, unless you were an idiot and set your internet browser to launch at start-up and your homepage to some kind of pop-up launch pad.  "I made my way to my favorite search engine.  I shot down a few more pop-up ads and then typed in one word.  Vampire."1  I guess that Google is resorting to pop-up ads now, too.  Actually, she doesn't specify which search engine she uses, just that it's her "favorite search engine."  Also, it's pretty stupid to just type in "Vampire" and hope it will come up with what you want.  Try searching for it yourself.  You’ll get the Wikipedia entry (which is pretty useful, and it’s a wonder that Bella didn’t use that), but besides that all you usually see are stupid fansites made by fangirls and fanboys who gush uncontrollably over anything “dark,” as well as websites to sell useless crap to the above mentioned people.
    Fortunately, Bella is punished for her stupidity.  "It took an infuriatingly long time.  When the results came up, there was a lot to sift through."1  "Like, oh my god, the internet is so stupid. I hate it."  Also, what were you expecting; that there would only be 15 hits in a search for "vampire." Use more keywords to narrow your search.  She says she eventually found a "promising site - Vampires A-Z."1  Which sounds like the kind of page you would find hosted on Geocities, that someone made back in junior high and has forgotten about years ago.  The website tells Bella that, contrary to what anyone living in modern society can tell without doing any research, vampire lore focuses mostly on female vampires and doesn't have a lot to do with blood-drinking.  She was trying to find a vampire lore that "sounded familiar"1 to Edward.  If she wanted to do that, though, she should have just saved herself some time by searching for "Anne Rice." 
    Doing this research also causes Bella to finally board the obvious train: "one [myth] that I'd remembered from the small number of scary movies that I've seen and was backed up by today's readings - vampires couldn't come out in the daytime, the sun would burn them to a cinder."1 Duh!  It's not until 7 chapters into the book that Meyer finally acknowledges this plot hole, but still doesn't fill it.  I eagerly await what will no doubt be aneurism-inducingly stupid explanation for why Edward can walk around in the daylight without bursting into flames, or turning to ash, or otherwise dyeing some horrible undeath.
    Bella becomes frustrated with Meyer's poor, unfaithful storytelling and turns off her computer.  Then she explains to the audience how things that are happening are everyone's fault but her own:
        "What was wrong with me?  I decided that most of the blame belonged on the doorstep of the town of Forks - and the entire sodden Olympic Peninsula, for that matter."1
    Like I said, everyone's fault but her own.  I'd hate to see how much she complains when there's actually something wrong with her life.  Also, “sodden”?  What, is she British now? After deciding that she wasn't having enough of a tantrum yet, Bella "stomped out the door"1 and into the woods behind her house to do some more ruminating and complaining.  She kept walking into the woods "as long as my anger at myself pushed me forward."1  Conveniently, her anger pushed her just far enough to where "a recently fallen tree - I knew it was recently fallen because it wasn't entirely carpeted in moss - rested against the trunk of one of her sisters, creating a sheltered little bench just a few feet off the trail."1  First of all, assigning genders to genderless objects tends to be deep within the territory of idiocy, especially when you're inconsistent about it, and refer to something as a "she" in the same sentence that you called it an "it."  Second, we get it; you're supposed to be good at science.  We don't need this fact re-established every chapter.  Neither do we need to be reminded that you are un-coordinated, every guy is jealous of you, and that Edward is so gosh-dang gorgeous.  If we weren't reminded of these little tidbits over and over, it would make the book a much more bearable read.  It would also make it about half as long.
    Bella sits on her pondering log for awhile and continues to ponder about whether Edward is really a vampire, citing such evidence to herself as his "inhuman beauty," and also the fact that "he seemed to know what everyone around him was thinking... except me."1  Am I the only one that really thinks that Edward was simply humouring Bella when he said she was hard to read?  I mean, by her own description of her actions, she seems to broadcast her thoughts pretty well.  It's never going to be hard to guess what she's thinking about (hint: Edward). 
    After plenty of recapping the story so far, Bella finally decides that maybe he's a vampire.  It's not a satisfactory conclusion for you or me, but apparently it is for her.  Now faced with the decision of how to act knowing he might be a vampire, Bella quickly (very quickly) rejects the idea of simply avoiding him for her own safety, because "I was gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative.  My mind rejected the pain..."1  Wow, they're not even dating and she's already emotionally dependent on him.  That's... kind of scary. 

        "I could do nothing different.  After all, if he was something...sinister, he'd done nothing to hurt me so far.  In act, I would be a dent in Tyler's fender if he hadn't acted so quickly.  So quickly, I argued with myself, that it might have been sheer reflexes.  But if it was a reflex to save lives, how bad could he be? I retorted." 1

    Actually, dear, it's spelled "retarded," not “retorted.”  And you forgot to include "am" before it.   

        "I knew that I had my answer.  I didn't know if there ever was a choice, really.  I was already in too deep.Now that  knew – if  I knew - I could do nothing about my frightening secret.  Because when I thought of him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him."1

    So, Bella has made a decision, which could realistically lead to the harm of herself and others, based solely on her attraction for this guy. This is what we call "thinking with your vagina," and it is generally to be avoided.  Satisfied with her stupid decision, Bella makes her way back home.  She has little remorse for what she decided, except to note that "the decision was ridiculously easy to live with.  Dangerously easy."1  Isabella Swan: Dangerously easy.
    Bella gets home and does some studying.  Her dad gets home with some fish and Bella makes "a mental note to pick up a book of recipes for fish while I was in Seattle next week."1 Forks may be a small town and not have a lot in the way of book stores, but I'm sure that "fish recipes" is not something so exotic that they wouldn't have something available without driving to the nearest big city. 
    After dinner, the amazingly uneventful and over-narrated day ends and Bella goes to sleep ("dreamlessly,"1 thank god).  The next morning, it's sunny out.  Bella's mood is invariably linked to the weather (almost as much as it's linked to whether or not she's staring at Edward) so she's in a good mood.  Or, as she puts it, "my blood was electric in my veins."1
    She heads to school and realizes that she got their early.  After some lame excuse to the reader for Bella not knowing what the time was, Bella decided to "industrially"1 take out her Trigonometry book.  I guess that's why I was never as good in school as Bella; I would only take my books out normally.  Of course, she's only rechecking some answers, because she'd already completed the assignment, "the product of a slow social life."1  How fast of a social life was she expecting? She moved there less than a month ago and she's already the most popular girl in school, she's been embraced by the entire student body, and has been asked out by every guy to look at her.  And she's complaining about a slow social life?  I guess she just thinks she's so good that she deserves even more, or something.  Anyways, her work quickly breaks down into daydreaming about (surprise surprise) Edward.  She's eventually brought back into reality when Mike shows up.
    They chit chat a little, and Mike asks Bella "'What did you do, yesterday?' His tone was just a bit too proprietary."1  I'd love to hear Stephanie Meyer try to demonstrate exactly what a "proprietary tone" sounded like.  Bella says she was working on her essay and Mike asks:

        "What are you writing yours on?"
        "Whether Shakespeare's treatment of female characters is misogynistic."
        He stared at me like I had just spoken pig Latin.1

    "What is this word you speak of?  Miss aw gin histic? I have never heard such a thing before. I am but a mere Forks bumpkin, and I have not learned any words over three syllables."  Also, I find it supremely ironic that a character in a Stephanie Meyer book would be writing about misogynistic treatment of female characters, when Bella has already proven to be a damsel in distress who just isn't complete without her man who makes all her decisions for her. 
    Anyways, Mike asks Bella out (again) and Bella worms out of it by giving an excuse instead of just being honest and telling him she's not interested (again).  This time, she says that she can't go out with him because she feels she would hurt Jessica's feelings.  This is of course hypocritical and two-faced of her, because she has no problem lusting after Edward, despite the fact that she also noticed that Jessica likes him back in chapter one (page 22). 
    Anyways, Mike becomes "clearly dazed"1 by the painfully obvious fact that Jessica was interested in him, and Bella runs off to class, were-in she's invited to go to Port Angeles to go dress shopping with Jessica, and a few other girls.  She gives them a maybe.
    At lunch, she immediately starts looking for Edward, but feels a "shiver of panic tremble in my stomach"1 as she realized that Cullens' usual table was empty.  Upon further looking and not seeing Edward "desolation hit me with crippling strength."1  And when he wasn't in her Biology class either, she "felt a new wave of disappointment."1  Protip, everyone: you will never be happy in a relationship if you can't learn to be happy by yourself.  It's pretty bad if you're this utterly dependent on another person for happiness if you're dating them.  But if you're this dependent only shortly after meeting them, then you need help.  And by "help," I don't mean that you need to start dating them;  I mean you need to stop obsessing over them and go see a psychologist.  Oh yeah, and at lunch Bella turns her maybe into a yes, and agrees to go to Port Angeles with the girls, "grasping at anything to distract myself."1
    In gym class, they were starting badminton, "the next torture they had lined up for me,"1 but they spent the entire class explaining the rules and apparently it went long so they were going to do the same thing the next day.  "What's that coach?  You hit the birdie over the net?  With a racket?  This is all so complicated.  Maybe you should slow down and take another day to explain it."  After that class, Bella headed home where she would "be free to pout and mope,"1 as though she ever let being at school stop her.  When she gets there, she finds that Jess had moved the Port Angeles plans to the next day (in order to go on a date with Mike), complains about it, gets some emails from her mom, complains about them, looks through her book collection, complains about it, then grabs a Jane Austin compilation and goes outside to read on the lawn (which she complains about).
    She begins into Sense and Sensibility only to remember that (oh noes!) the protagonists name is Edward.  She then starts on Mansfield Park only to remember that *gasp* the main character in that is named Edmund, which is kind of close to Edward.  It's like the whole universe, include a great author that lived and died over a hundred years ago, are all conspiring to make her fall in lust with a guy she barely knows.  She gives up on the whole reading thing and decides to just lay in the sun.

        I pulled all my hair over my head, letting it fan out on the quilt above me, and focused again on the heat that touched my eyelids, my cheekbones, my nose, my lips, my forearms, my neck,soaked through my light shirt...1

    Ho ho, what's this?  It sounds like it's going to be followed with "absent-mindedly, I slid my hand down my stomach and unbuttoned my jeans" or some similar lead-in to a masturbation scene, but no; it just leads to Bella falling asleep.  This chapter keeps faking me out.  The next thing after that quote is her waking up to the sound of her dad's car pulling into the driveway
    She asks her dad for permission to go to Port Angeles the next night.  After he agrees, she then patronizes him about his ability to feed himself, and then goes to bed.
    The next morning (god, this chapter just doesn't want to end), she goes to school find that Edward is still absent and starts panicking at the thought of not going to Seattle with him that weekend.  She also finds out that the trip to Port Angeles that night is still on and also that one of the girls (who had been rude to her earlier) wasn't going.  Bonus.  After school, she drops her truck and school stuff off at her house, then her and Jess pick up the other girl that's going ("Angela") and they hit the road, as Bella notes that her "excitement increased exponentially as we actually drove out of the town limits."1  So ends chapter seven.
    I know this has been a long one, but I want to introduce a little extra bit at the end.  It occurs to me that, despite the fact that I said that I would give Twilight a fair shake, I've been writing nothing (without any exception that come to mind) but negative commentary about the book.  So, I'm going to try every now and then to include something positive about Stephanie Meyer or her writing.  Right now, I have this to say: she has avoided (at least so far) making any horrible puns with the name "Forks."  For this, I am grateful.
    Stay tuned for eight.


1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 7: Nightmare” Little, Brown and Co., 2005

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Read Twilight and Hate it: Chapter 6

    Chapter six starts out with the usual kind of teen-drama crap that plagues this book. There are bunch of girls at the school who are, like, OMG jealous of like, Bella and how she gets to like hang out with Edward.  Bella overhears one talking about her with an "unpleasant, nasally voice."1  You can tell she's evil, because her voice isn't deep or velvet.  Mike defends her to this girl "loyally, but a bit territorially."1 Bella really has a hard time seeing good in things he does.  I guess she likes to keep her enemies far and her friends further.
    Later, she asks her dad about the place that Edward said he would be camping that weekend (did I mention that?  He said he couldn't go on the road-trip because he was going camping with his vampily).  He said it was known for bears, and most people don't go there to camp, but rather to hunt.  Not much to say here.
    The next morning, Bella's sleep is interrupted, because "an unusual brightness woke me."1  She was actually so amazed by clear weather that it woke her up early.  Now, first of all, I've already talked about how Washington's bad weather is greatly exaggerated (by Stephanie Meyer herself and the population at large).  Second, she's been away from Arizona for less that a month; not really enough time to forget what sunshine looks like. 
    She met everyone who was going on the trip at Mike's dad's store.  All the non-vampire students who had names were there, as well as a couple generics.  Two of the generic boys were given names ("Ben and Conner"1) which leads me to suspect that they're going to be asking Bella to dances soon.  Two of the generic girls ("Angela and Lauren"1) were also given names.  They seemed to be part of the group that was gossiping about Bella.  Mike asks Bella if she's invited anyone else.

        "Nope," I lied lightly, hoping I wouldn't get caught in the lie.  But also wishing that a miracle would occur and Edward would appear.1

    I guess Edward is kind of like Jesus now and his appearance constitutes a miracle.  Also, "lightly"?  Talk about unnecessary adverbs.  What did she mean, "quietly"?  If so, why didn't she just say "quietly"?  Or did she mean that it was a "light" lie, as opposed to a more serious or "heavier" lie.  I am consumed by the mystery that Stephanie Meyer's writing presented.  And more than a little obsessed by her writing itself.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.
    So, they make their way to La Push, and there's more trivial love-triangle drama.  I'll spare you the details.  It's not even exposing new information; just that Jessica likes Mike and Mike likes Bella.  Meyer gives some vanilla descriptions of the coastline, and the rocks on the beach, which are every colour including "dull gold"1 (OMG, just like Edward's eyes!).  Anyways, make it to the campsite, and start a fire.  Some people go hiking and come back.  Nothing really interesting until a group of teenagers from the nearby reservation shows up. 
    It's like they were sitting around saying, "Man, I'm so bored hanging out with other Native Americans.  If only some cool white kids would show up for us to talk to.  That would be awesome."  Anyways, the group includes one younger kid named Jacob.  He eventually makes his way over to Bella (all the boys do, after all) and introduces himself as the son of the guy that her dad bought the truck from.  They talk about various things, cars, Jacob's sisters (whom Bella used to be friends with), and the Cullens.  Conversations with Bella always lead to the Cullens.  Actually, Meyer gets around Bella displaying her creepy obsession by having another girl, one of the ones who was making fun of Bella, bring up the Cullens.  And it's totally believable and not awkward at all, that she just brings it up right out of the blue.  Heavy sarcasm.  After serving her purpose of bringing up Edward in the conversation, the girl leaves so Bella can start pumping Jacob for information about them. 
    Actually, she tries to take him for a walk on the beach and seduce the information out of him.  He says he's barely fifteen, and she's insincerely trying to flirt with him to use him to get info.  What a bitch.  Jacob had said that "the Cullens don't come here"1 and that had intrigued Bella to find out more info.  Although, I think there was only one work in that sentence that she even heard.  He could have said "I've never even heard of the Cullens," and she would still be dissecting it and trying to find more info from him.  
    Together, they walked a bit down the beach and sat at a “nearby driftwood tree that had its roots sticking out like the attenuated legs of a huge, pale spider.”1  “Attenuate,” in case you’re wondering, is a verb which means “to make thin.”  Why she said the branches were “attenuated” rather than just “thin”?  I have no idea.  Maybe she gets paid by the syllable. After a liberal amount of whoring, she gets him to tell her that the Cullens aren't supposed to come onto the reservation.  This is due to a pact that Jacob's great-grandfather made years ago with the "cold ones"1 [vampires], because they are the "natural enemies" of the werewolf.  Immediately afterwards, Jacob says:

        "...the cold ones are traditionally our [emphasis added] enemies.  But this pack [the Cullens] that came to our territory during my great-grandfather's time was different.  They didn't hunt the way others of their kind did - they weren't supposed to be dangerous to the tribe.  So my great-grandfather mad a truce with them.  If they would promise to stay off our lands, we wouldn't expose them to the pale-faces [crackers]"1.

    So, Jacob says that the vampires are werewolves' enemies, then afterwards calls them "our" enemies.  Dear god, I hope Meyers isn't planning some kind of stupid idea to make the Native Americans be werewolves.  Anyways, if Jacob just revealed all this information to blank-face here, didn't he violate the treaty, and lead to a vampire invasion of his reservation?  Why on earth were they trusting this information to a kid, anyways?

        "I guess I just violated the treaty."  He laughed.
        "I'll take it to the grave," I promised, and then shivered.1

    I hope that shiver means she's going to die soon, for making promises that she inevitably breaks.  That is to say, I really really doubt that she'll take this information to the grave.
    Bella and Jacob return to the group, and there's some more trivial stuff with Mike being possibly-but-not-really jealous of Jacob.  Bella also tells Jacob that she'll come see him, next time her dad comes to visit his dad.  I guess he's become her insta-friend.  All the pale-faces decide the night is through and jump back in their suburban to head back to Forks.  So ends chapter six.  Stay tuned for chapter seven.

1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 6: Scary Stories” Little, Brown and Co., 2005