Archive for May, 2008

John Knowles – A Separate Peace

I figured it’s been a while since I’ve written a book review. So here’s another literary work that I’ve digested and regurgitated for your pleasure.

A Separate Peace
Written by John Knowles
Genre: Tragedy
Published by Macmillan 1959.
ISBN: 978-0-743-25397-0

This story revolves around two boys, Gene and Finny and is told from the former’s point of view. The setting takes place in a boarding school in New England (not located in England) during World War II. Gene and Finny are best friends. But Finny seems to be the type that can get away with anything and do everything, such as ditching school to go to the beach, breaking swimming records, and jumping out of trees. Finny would be what you call a stud, but he can’t because the school he and Gene happen to be at is a men’s club: no girl students.

So after having some fun, Gene has his own private Enlightenment. He begins to realize that Finny is his enemy! And there was a deeper reason why Finny is pretending to be such a good friend to him than being a good friend. Finny was trying to lower his grades so that he could be a better student!

So one day, at a tree jumping session of the Super Secret Summer Suicide Society, Gene’s knee “accidentally” moves and the Finny falls out of the tree like a nut and cracks something. The only problem is Finny doesn’t believe that Gene did it on purpose and Gene doesn’t know if he did it on purpose, either.

…You know what? I’m tired of giving a summary. Go read it for yourself.

Rating: 8/10

The book has its boring moments, especially during the beginning of the book. But as you keep reading, you realize the theme is quite interesting. A boy secretly thinking that his best friend is trying to undermine him. I can’t believe it. These people aren’t even living in the 21st century where even perfect SAT scores aren’t enough to get you into the college of your choice, and these boys are competing? Relax! There’s plenty of jobs in the world. You could always go invent the computer and the Playstation.

What’s funny is that this whole thing about secret peer competition is that my mom feels the same way. Whenever I want to do something with my friends, she’ll go, “Who are your friends? Are they good students? They’re just trying to get you outside so you can’t study (not like I do when I’m inside) and they can get better grades than you.” If the entire world were like what she believed, the world would be a rather cold place.

But the main reason I wrote this review was something deeper. This book is about homosexuals. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but Gene and Finny are gay. There, I’ve said it. They’re gay, even though my English teacher doesn’t admit it.

Evidence:

Summary on back: “What happens between two friends one summer, like war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.”

>Page 19: “I threw my hip against his, catching him by surprise, , and he was instantly down, definitely pleased. This was why he liked me so much. When I jumped on top of him, my knees on his chest, he couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Page 48: “…you can’t come to the shore with just anybody and you can’t come by yourself, and at this teen-age period in life the proper person is your best pal, which is what you are.”

Page 69: “I was thinking about you…”

Page 102: “He looked up with a provocative grin.”

Page 104: “After [my Army shirt] came off there was just my undershirt, stained with sweat. He smiled at it for a while and then said, as he eaved himself out of the chair, ‘There. You should have worn that all day, just that. That has real taste. The rest of your outfit was just gilding that lily of a sweat shirt.'”

Page 107: “Finny hobbled over to the dresser and took up his soap dish. ‘I’m first in the shower,’ he said.
‘You can’t get that cast wet, can you?’ asked Brinker.
‘No, I’ll keep it outside the curtain.”
I’ll help,’ said Brinker.

Page 108: “Phineas was shocked at the idea of my leaving. In some way he needed me. He needed me … He wanted me around.”

Page 113: “No locker could have more pungent air than Devon’s; sweat predominated, but it was richly mingled with smells of paraffin and singed rubber, of soaked wool and liniment, and for those who could interpret it, of exhaustion, lost hope and triumph and bodies battling against each other. I thought it anything but a bad smell. It was preeminently the smell of the human body after it had been used to the limit, such a smell as has meaning and poignance for any athlete, just as it has for any lover.

Page 171: “‘Let’s make a double jump,’ because I thought if we went together it would be something that had never been done before, holding hands in a jump…”


QED. For more proof, well, you just have to read the book for yourself. Rather recommended, but not as much action as I would like. Really deep psychological side-effects though.

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May 31, 2008 at 12:57 AM 7 comments

Don’t Forget Them Earplugs

The expert gunslingers always say, “Bring earplugs to a gunfight.” I say, “Bring earplugs to a pep rally.”

Pep rallies are really loud. Apparently, whoever controls to volume on the huge speakers in our school gym must have bad hearing because they turn it up WAY too loud.

But that’s not all. You might think normal voices are loud, but you haven’t heard anything yet, possibly because your hearing is already damaged.

Our pep squad seems to enjoy dancing to very bizarre music. Unfortunately, the music also has very bizarre sound effects, such as screeches, squeals, and all the other acoustic concoctions only a computer would know how to make. The song may once upon a time have sounded pleasant, but after taking steroids raising them to a seat thumping loudness, they begin to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Our varsity percussion also likes loud noises. One drum is bad enough. Two drums are worse. Two drums and a base drum are really, really bad. TEN drums and TWO BASE drums are a recipe for major hearing loss. Not to mention the fact that they also have aforementioned artificial computer sounds generated by a stupid Macbook and about ten of those suspended of cymbal things.*

Pep band is the worse. Not only do they play the same music over and over, but they enjoy playing right next to the door you exit out of and have no regard for your audio safety. You can’t even hear yourself. This is why we should a pep orchestra, not a pep band. At least it’s not the entire bloody band itself.

And they said listening to music on portable music players was bad for your ears. Hypocrites.

May 29, 2008 at 3:27 AM 2 comments

Religious Excuses

I did say I was going to write something about “those silly monkeys jumping up and down shouting ‘Allah akbar!'”, didn’t I? Well, thanks to a local screening of Invisible Children*, here it is. Only try really hard to resist causing more acts of death and destruction after reading this.

Just because I made fun of Islamic militants doesn’t mean you other radical theists** get away, too. You’re all part of the problem. The Crusades. The Holocaust. I’m pretty sure the Islamic people didn’t start the problems. I can’t remember exactly, but I’m also pretty sure the Ten Commandments included something along the lines of don’t kill, which Common Sense also tells you to do.

Waging a war because some God(s) (which for purposes of this post represents all spiritual figures and does not exist) told you to is just ridiculous. I’ve heard of strict obedience, but attempting to overthrow a government, as corrupt and pathetic as it may be because a voice in your head (who is most likely not your conscience are most certainly not your higher being of choice) suggested it is plain stupid. What if God told you to jump off a cliff? Well, I suppose some of you might. There is a reason why they call you ‘extremists’.

This is exactly what happened to a deranged lunatic named Alice Lakwena, and for the last two decades, an unseen war has been waging in Uganda between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Children have been kidnapped by this terrorist group and are forced to either learn how to shoot a gun or be shot with one.

Maybe it’s the government’s fault, but your crusade isn’t helping any. All you’re doing is adding to the instability of your region and helping your already weak government doing a worse job of fixing it’s many problems. If you took the money that you were wasting on junk food such as guns and bombs and gave it to a more noble cause, the world would be a much better place.

Luckily, the story of the Invisible Children has a happy ending. The conflict has become less transparent to the world, and there has been peace for several years and hope for a bloodless solution. Maybe you could all take a lesson from them and put that Holy Sword you were planning to smite the Infidels with down or place that highly fashionable C4 down vest from Abercrombie and Fitch back in the closet.

Religion is inefficient. De-convert today!

*Moufflets is not associated with Invisible Children or its affiliates in any way, shape, or form.
**All theists negatively referred to in this blog have declared Holy War of some sort or another or have used violence in the name of their imagined higher being. Moufflets does not establish that all theists are ill-hearted people in general, and apologizes and asks to be notified if it has done so.

May 24, 2008 at 5:32 AM 1 comment

So Much for the Extra Sleep

Once again, politicians or whoever runs the school board (they’re all the same) has made a stupid error by implementing a late-start for Staff Development Day instead of early-release.

Now, although I prefer early-release, I have no problem with sleeping an extra hour and fight the eye-bags that seem to be appear spontaneously during high school. Or at least it seemed like I could have slept an extra hour. But as it was, I had a zero period.

As you all may know by now, my zero period is Academic Decathlon. In fact, as of last week, we have lost our class. That’s right. Due to recent budget cuts by hypocrites of the No Child Left Behind Act, Academic Decathlon has been reduced to club status. And the some itchy string-puller couldn’t wait until the end of the year to kick us out of our room, so now we have to go to the library. We don’t even see our teacher anymore!

But that’s a problem that’s not part of the problem. The problem is, if you’re in zero period, you still have to report to school at the same time on late-start days! That’s just stupid. Maybe I’d understand if they said we still had to come one hour later, but no, we have to report to school at 7:00. As zero period lasts an hour, our class ends at eight. But thanks to late-start, school starts at nine. A little trigonometry would show that we have one hour between the time when AcaDeca ends and school starts. Guess what? During that time, we have to stay at school. And apparently they do notice if you’re absent.

Yesterday, that was the fateful late-start day that I started late on. When I got back from home and checked the answering machine, I got a the monotonous slightly female voice that was the telltale sound of an ELD computer telling me that my son was not present during zero period that day and needs to bring a signed note blah blah blah to the attendance office the next day, which brings to me to another point:

Who will take attendance for the attendance staff? When I got to school this morning, at the usual 7:00 in the morning, the windows were closed. They said it would be open at 7:30. When I returned at 7:30, the windows were still closed. And so I had to wait for ten minutes in the rather chilly and moist weather waiting for them. How are we supposed to be good students and be on time if they aren’t good role models?

How stupid is that! Very.

May 23, 2008 at 2:12 PM 3 comments

Liberation Lies

All those liberation groups that keeping making the headlines are getting on my nerves.

BLA, ULAF, ULAA.* Something with the word “liberation” in them. I swear that there are more acronyms here than the United States government has.

But what are these so called freedom-fighters doing exactly? It seems to me that they’re all preoccupied with making large explosive noises, suiciding other people, and suiciding themsevles and other people. In fact, most of them should be stuck in anger management classes singing, “I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty, and witty, gayyyy!!!”

You would think that they have learned long ago that virulence**, I mean violence, is not the answer. I suppose that their average lifespan is too short for anything to sink in thanks to their lemming-like attraction to suicide bombings. I think they’re pretty immature. It’s like they’ve gone from boys with toys to men with guns, only they’re still stomping up and down trying to get attention.

So grow up, calm down, and try to keep the safeties on your guns. At the very least, get a change of names. It’s really not nice to mislead people.

As for those silly monkey’s jumping up and down shouting “Allah akbar!” while waving AK-47s and RPGs around, I have another post just for you for another time. So try not to crash a plane into anything before or after you get a chance to read it.

*Nothing personal. Just listing a few off the top of Google search.
** A little poke at those nerds over at Mark Keppel who always seem to come out with the most medals in Academic Decathlon. I respect that.

May 20, 2008 at 2:18 AM 2 comments

Keep the Meat Coming

By now, you all should know I like food. More specifically, I like meat.

Today, I have another lunch episode to share with you. And it should be no surprise that it has something to do with meat.

For lunch, we went out to a Brazilian (maybe Portuguese, what’s the difference?) steak house.

Now, the first thing you notice when you sit down at one of those churrascarias is that there is this interesting little object. Usually, one side of it is green and the other side red. This little thingamabob is key to your meal, and it is important that you flip it as little as possible. You’ll see why in a moment.

These restaurants are part buffets. You can try their signature chicken Cordon Bleu, or any of the cultural Brazilian dishes such as Lingua, rabada, and other unpronounceable creations, but it’s recommended you save your stomach space for as much meat as possible. Don’t even think about putting any foliage on your plate. Be careful, though. There’s no telling what’s in half of the foods.

So what is a Brazilian steak house anyways? It’s where all the best waiters are located, because these particular breed of food carriers are known as passadors; meat waiters in English. Can you believe it? Waiters entirely dedicated to bringing you meat! This is where the little red-green indicators come in. When the green side is up, they’ll keep bringing you meat. They bring these huge sword things with pepper steak, garlic steak, chicken, and more skewered on it right to your table! When the red side is up, the meat flow is cut. The only reason why the red side is down is because you need some time to digest to make room for more meat.

But you can’t have everything. The meat sometimes comes too slowly, leaving you to watch some Latin channel on their two flat screens or listen to some Brazilian chant/music set on repeat. The buffet food is probably not all that fresh, because who after all eats at the buffet when there’s all this wonderful meat to be had.

The next time you spot one of these places, stop by. Just remember to clear your schedule for the next one hour or two. You’ll want to get the most beef out of your buck.

May 18, 2008 at 11:32 PM 3 comments

Elastic Menace

I have discovered another hazard to society. The problem is really serious. It has infiltrated the deepest levels of our populations, and there are new converts everyday.

The perpetrator is slimy, can be yellow bellied, green-skinned, and/or but not limited to red-necked. It’s always there, but you might never notice. The perpetrator is GUM.

The oral accessory that have become such a sensation isn’t all that sensible.

First of all, chewing gum wears down your teeth. You may not notice it, but it’s happening. Your sweet tooth won’t be craving much of anything, sweet or otherwise, once it’s full of tiny little cavities and all the other little wriggly things from the Listerine commercials. Chewing gum requires a constant, repetitive motion of the same few muscles; eight to be exact. As we all know, too much anything (except meat and typing), is bad for you and you may develop some chronic issues. Chewing Tunnel Syndrome, for one thing. There are even rumors of headaches developing from gum-chewing.

For those that must chew, why waste energy chewing away on what’s little more than a sweetened piece of eraser when you could be tenderizing a thick, juicy slice of beef jerky? As long as you resist the urge to swallow, voila! You’ve got a new gum. Beef jerky cannot currently be stuck behind your ear for storage, but there is ongoing research.

But chewing gum is just plain old annoying. People make this irritating “Jchk jchk jchk” sound when they’re chewing. But worst of all, it’s the irresponsibility of gum chewers.

All you have to do to see the wide extend of this problem is take a look under a desk then next time you’re in a high school. It’s a colorful world down there, isn’t it? Ever wonder what those black spots are on the cement? Yup, you guessed it. It’s gum.

Today, I have become another casualty of the ever present threat of GUM, which I have found out is impossible to eradicate. There is now a wad of the stuff on the bottom of my sandals, and after changing out of my swim gear, discovered a patch that somehow found its way onto my backpack. After playing a rather long game of tug of war in biology, I have managed to remove much of the guck from my backpack, although some still remains, complete with that fresh chewed minty fresh smell.

May 17, 2008 at 4:45 AM 1 comment

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