A Random Friday Night Rant

- First and foremost: You'll notice some changes to the good ol' Matrix-Has-You blogsite. I've added a link to the road trip blog (under the trip's title, "A Journey Into The Heart Of America") on the sidebar in its own little compartment, underneath my music site. Also, you may or may not have noticed that underneath the "Random Stuff About Me" little compartment, I've reformatted my archives (and they look sooooo much better now--I hate that stupid hierarchy thing), AND I've added two ways to subscribe to the blog, RSS and email (both powered by FeedBurner, a useful little blog feed site which has recently become the newest child in the Google family). So if you haven't yet subscribed, do so! (Contact me or Mike if you'd like help setting up an RSS reader, or if you don't know what it is but would like to know.)

- Can I just vent for a short while about Paris Hilton? Thanks. She is pathetic and she's a disgrace to herself, everyone she knows and her country. I'd like to think I wouldn't wish a jail sentence on anyone, but it's a darn good thing that she went back to jail. If she had been allowed to stay on house arrest there would be reason to lose faith in our judicial system, our law enforcement system and probably our psychiactric medicine system too all at once. I'm glad someone in this case (the judge) hasn't lost his head. Earth to Hilton. Actions have consequences, and if you're going to be stupid enough to do something stupid then you have to face the consequences. And you have to be woman enough (in her case) to face them with dignity. Earth to Hilton again. Jail is not supposed to be a happy place. You don't go there because you have a lot of money, or because you're pretty (not that she is), or because you wanna have a good time. You go there because you've done something wrong. Earth to Hilton again. Grow the heck up. It's difficult to imagine something more immature than throwing a temper tantrum and having to be dragged out of a courtoom, literally kicking and screaming, because you're getting what you deserve. I didn't hear--did she get charged with contempt of court as well? Part of me hopes so. Absolutely pathetic. Ugh. ::shudders::

- Now that that's out of the way... To Kill A Mockingbird. Somewhere in the nebulous mists of the past few years, I decided that it would be my favorite novel (or at least that that would be my answer, were anyone to pose me the question). I hadn't read it for several years but I remembered liking it immensely. Now (immediately following The Da Vinci Code, which wasn't really that great) it is serving as the starting-point for my summer reading list, and I am absolutely in love. Now it unquestionably holds the title of My Favorite Novel Of All Time, head and shoulders above anything else. The writing style is beautiful. She (Harper Lee, that is) likes to use quaint or clever turns of phrase to express ordinary concepts, and writes cleverly simply for the sake of being clever, and I love that (I try to do it as much as possible in my own writing). Her attention to detail in regards to this is meticulous but never overbearing. The characterizations of lesser characters are swift and sure, and her primary characterizations are rich with reality and complexity while retaining the simplicity of a child's world and experience (which often is not as simple as we may think). And the architecture of the story is flawless. Reading it over again and knowing the general arc of the plot and seeing all the foreshadowing is amazing, and her economy of materials (one of my primary gauges of the quality of any work of art) is efficient and most artful, in the way that she uses one event to advance several different storylines and deepen characterizations. I'm just now beginning Part Two, and while the overall story and feel stays upbeat and light, you can just feel the gathering storm growing beneath it all and beginning to come to the surface. And in addition to its impeccable aesthetics, the story is just very engaging, touching, and moving, while being a heck of a lot of fun to read.

Although movies can never live up to the books they are based on, the 1962 black-and-white version of To Kill A Mockingbird (starring Gregory Peck) was a great movie--one of the few movies I own. It won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Mr. Peck (as Atticus Finch). I remember that several years ago the American Film Institute (AFI--not the band) celebrated 100 years of American films by choosing top 100 lists. They had the top 100 movies, of course (Citizen Kane got #1), but in a more creative move they chose the 50 greatest heroes and the 50 worst villains. (Just in case you were wondering, the #1 villain was Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs.) I remember watching this live on TV, and after seeing that Indiana Jones was the #2 hero, I couldn't wait to see #1. And in a remarkable twist of fate, the AFI board and the film community had chosen... Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. I was stunned at such an unexpected choice; but it gives me hope that all is not lost in Hollywood. The AFI website describes Atticus as a "deeply principled and idealistic attorney," but he is so much more than that. Rather than trying to extol all his virtues here, I'll just send you to the book; but I will say that he is a man among men, and although he is flawed like everyone else, his absolute commitment to his principles and his absolute commitment to his children do indeed make him one of the greatest heroes of the movies, and of literature as well. One of the most inspiring characters I've ever read.

Many people describe To Kill A Mockingbird as "that novel about racism I had to read in high school," but it is so much more than that. Rather than continuing to extol all its virtues here, I'll just demand that you read it as soon as possible. You won't regret it. It is absolutely My Favorite Novel Of All Time and certainly one of the greatest novels in American history and in all of history. And now it's time for me to go read Chapter 12....

***UPDATE*** Mike was gracious enough to link to this post and thank me for my rant about Paris Hilton. Apparently he liked it so much that he described it as "our official position;" I'm grateful for this, of course, although I'm not exactly sure who he means by "our." But his title ("Paris Hilton is... NOT BREAKING NEWS!") reminded me of something that I actually forgot to include last night. I must have seen the story on three or four different newscasts yesterday, including on CNN, a network I formerly held a lot of respect for. Hilton's story is not worthy news at all, much less for a network like CNN who hopefully has much more important things to report on (like the three stories Mike mentioned in his post). I can't really imagine why there was a crowd of reporters on the scene, unless E! or TMZ sent over every employee they have. There may be hope for Hollywood but any shreds of trust I had left in the news media are slowly slipping away. By giving her even a brief passing mention, let alone a live broadcast from the scene, they're validating every childish, immature thing she does. Earth to news media. That's why she's doing this stuff, to get attention. Stop giving it to her! Maybe if we just ignore her, she'll go away! And then our world would be a better place.

And there would be more time to read. I read up through chapter 15 last night. Y'all need to get started so I don't get too far ahead.


Mike Morabito said...

AJ, this is great post which I linked to on moreburritos if you don't mind.

-Your site looks beautiful: I love all the new additions, I especially like the archive drop down factor. The RSS stuff looks great as well. And of course I love the Journey Into America link because Google counts the number links that a site has linking to it when its robots create a search ranking...so that is very good.

-Paris Hilton: I really liked what you wrote here. I have adopted it as "our official position" and have linked this article from my blog because of it. You have inspired me. And so I hope you don't mind me assimilating your position as my own as well.

-To Kill a Mocking Bird: I really feel like I should read this before our trip or at the very least watch the movie. Great review that you gave of it. (Oh yeah and don't tell my high school english teachers, but I've never actually read it)...haha. But I guess I want to.

ps. I have made plans for this mornig to go to starbucks and write Thank You notes before I try to enjoy some O'Connor action after that I get to spend the day with Courtney looking for supplies for our trip in her garage. Wish me luck!

ECC's mom said...

Well.....let's see....Paris?....guess she didn't get the memo...what's the #ONE rule?...all in unison now....
nuff said
Love, the mama

Idhrendur said...

I love that you eloquently stated my own views with Paris. Is it okay for me to laugh at how pathetic she's being? Cause that's what I've been doing internally.

I suppose To Kill a Mockingbird is now on my list...or buried in my pile, to more accurately reflect my system of organization...

Darth_Harbison said...

*looks on and smiles*

1) Cool new stuff.

2) Y'know . . . while I certainly don't disagree with anything you said, I'd like to throw out there that maybe instead of yelling at her incessantly, telling her what a horrible person she is, and how stupid she is, we should have pity for her. I remarked to Sarah several months ago (while watching Conan) that I thought it was amusing that Conan just said "Paris Hilton," not even the joke, and people started laughing, cheering, and booing. Sarah's response was (I paraphrase), "Well, how would you feel if that was the case with YOU? No matter what kind of person she is, she deserves pity along with ridicule." Is she a shameless attention seeker? Heck yes. Is she an idiot? Heck yes. Does that mean that all we should say about her is that she's a horrible person? I don't think so. So, while I agree with your thoughts, I'd suggest a less venomous approach.

3) I enjoyed your review as much as anyone else. I feel like I probably didn't appreciate the book as much as I should have because I was stupid and forced myself into reading it in four days (although I didn't get any media coverage for my stupidity). However, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on why it's called "To Kill a Mockingbird." Considering that mockingbirds (and their murder) are only mentioned twice in the book, I'd be interested to hear what you think . . . I have my own opinion, but I'd like to hear yours.

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Just a note to let you know I've updated FUN WITH BLANKS. Yes, indeedie. Stop by and make me smile.

Amy Grace said...

Oh my gosh, you're killing me