Aw Hell No

It is with great regret that, via Cinescape, I found out that my favorite vampire book of all time, I Am Legend is going to be made into a movie. Starring Will Smith.
    Warner Bros. has signed Will Smith to a pay-or-play deal to star in I AM LEGEND. Adapted from Richard Matheson's novel, the story set in post-apocalyptic New York, centers on the last healthy man following the release of a virus that decimates the population. To survive, he must battle mutants that wreak havoc during the night.
What's wrong with vampires? Why'd they have to 'rastify it' by 10%? The book is genuinely scary, and this, well, sounds like Cinescape reader 'sharpe9th' described in the comments section:
    Plot of movie:

    Smith opens door.

    Mutants appear standing in droves outside a la Dawn of the Dead.

    Smith says: "Aw hell no."

    Smith caves some heads in uttering " Aw no you didn't..."

    Smith wins looking into horizon with dawn approaching.

    The end.
I'd laugh so hard if I wasn't busy crying. I Am Legend is unlike any other vampire book or movie that I've seen, in that it has one of the coolest, thought-provoking endings ever. I have a hard time believing that Hollywood will have the balls to go that route, but I've been wrong before.


Blogging environment

One of the reasons that I stopped blogging and reading so much about politics is that I was just tired of being angry. There's only so much you can write and talk about, and that's hardly ever enough to convince anyone who isn't already leaning toward your side that you are 'right'. It's very easy for that conviction and intellectualism to go the downward spiral to virtriolic rants that could be juxtaposed with the most recent jihadist speeches. I know of one friend (who shall go unnamed) that nearly starts frothing at the mouth and, by her own admission, cannot listen to reason, once politics come up. It's scary stuff (but, not nearly as interesting as religion, sorry).

The Washington Post ran an article about an angry lefty blogger, one that is such a pathetic angry caricature of bloggers that it is sadly hysterical. The photo they ran with the story is a perfect visual:Should get a Pulizter for rendering the article of a 1000 words perfectly captured. Caught in mid-jab, face contorted about the latest 'injustice', smokes at the ready, disheveled and wild-eyed. There's the face of your blogging nation. Yikes. I still can't believe the Washington Post, a liberal read, published this article, but there it is. Here are some excerpts:
    In the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

    Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

    She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?
The most startling thing is the way this angry person will get even more riled up on purpose. How'd you like to be growing up as this kid:
    The front door opens and in comes her 6-year-old son, Terry, home from school, who starts batting around a blue balloon at the other end of the living room, batting it closer to her, closer, closer. She searches through her iTunes library until she finds one of her favorite downloads -- not music, but a speech by a character named Howard Beale in the movie "Network." She presses "play" and turns up the volume. "I want you to get mad!" Beale shouts at one point. "I want you to get mad!" she shouts along, startling Terry. "What?" he says, backing away with his balloon.
Show and Tell Day in class for Terry, it'll be soon time to talk about how 'mommy scares me'.

Believe it or not, though, this is NOT the point of this post. The was brought to my attention by the talented Wretchard, who, though amused by the rants of the 'Angry Lefty', noticed that his own work environment was pretty similar to hers, and posted some pictures and descriptions of it, and then wrote it would be interesting to see what kinds of setups others have going on.

Seeing as how I do 99% of my blogging at work (be it during lunch, the smoke-breaks I don't take, or the time between work), I thought it appropriate to take a picture of my little space here rather than in my basement at home. In all its glory:Ah, in all its' bland, spartan glory. The movers box still in the background (I keep it for sentimental reasons) shows we just shuffled over from another cube area next door, but it would be about the same. A phone, a note pad, a water bottle, a towel (to rest my elbow), the company-provided laptop, a Penn State mousepad, earphones for listening to streaming music, and two reference books. Otherwise completely devoid of human touches. Here's a bonus angle:Pull back to reveal... a box of tissues and a chair. I like to keep my work areas clear of unnecessary things, and toss anything I won't need later. Since I am a technology contractor, I have very little use for paperwork or reports (or meetings for that matter), and since I am temporary, I don't have much use to put any 'personal touches' in my cube. I found an old picture from last year when I had an office at my former job (where I also did most of my blogging), and you can see its similar spartan nature, accented nicely by my attitude:You may not realize it now, but you have all learning an invaluable life lesson from this post. If you don't understand now, think long and hard until your brain hurts from it and you will be rewarded. Probably.

Note that I am really only doing this to bait The Ultimate Evil to show his computer area, which I imagine to be as cluttered as his devious mind, but he's probably already done that in some obscure post from god-knows-when.


The Gospel According to Biff Judas, Christ's Childhood Pal

It's probably the most exciting piece of news in years for those who are fascinated by religion. One of the 'lost gospels' that was found in the 70's has been translated finally, and offers a decidedly different view of Jesus' "betrayer". In fact, it's called The Gospel of Judas:
    Instead of portraying Judas Iscariot as a traitor, as the canonical gospels of the New Testament do, this document — the Gospel of Judas — indicates that he acted at the request of Jesus to help him shed his earthly body...

    "The Gospel of Judas turns Judas' act of betrayal into an act of obedience," Craig Evans, a New Testament scholar at Acadia Divinity College, said in a National Geographic statement on the find. "The sacrifice of Jesus' body of flesh in fact becomes saving. And so for that reason, Judas emerges as the champion and he ends up being envied and even cursed and resented by the other disciples."

    Although this is the first time the actual text of the Gospel of Judas has surfaced in modern times, its existence has been well-known to scholars for centuries. The manuscript was first mentioned in a treatise around A.D. 180 by a bishop, Irenaeus of Lyon, in what is now France. The bishop denounced it as differing from mainstream Christianity and said it produced a fictitious and heretical story.
Of course, if you are decently read on religious history, this kind of revelation isn't anything new. Off the top of my head, it was touched upon most prominently in The Templar Revelation, which goes on to assert that Jesus was a charlatan, and that he was trying to start his own cult based on Egyptian lore. There are many interpretations about the 'true' meaning of Christianity. (I prefer that one because it makes Christianity the biggest practical joke in the history of mankind.) Accepting other theories is new to a lot of head-in-the-mud Christians:
    Echoing other scholars, the Catholic Theological Union's Senior said the Gospel of Judas "reveals the diversity and vitality of early Christianity."

    "This diversity among various Christian groups was something taken for granted in the early centuries of the church, but may be a surprise to many people today," he told reporters.

    Senior said the Gospel of Judas will likely spark another wave of popular interest in the debates of the early church. "God only knows what will be said on Sunday after this," he remarked, half-jokingly. But in the long run, the text would have little impact on the main tenets of present-day Christianity, he said.

    "At first there will be a lot of sensation, until people start reading the Gospel of Judas," Senior said, "and then I think the impact of this on ordinary lives of Christian believers is going to be somewhat minimal."
Of course it will be. You will have four basic reactions to this:
  • Staunch believers who will consider it to be blasphemy and/or lies. This is made up of people who drink the Jesus juice and church politicians. In short, people who are either supremely ignorant or supremely elitist. Fundamentalists.
  • Atheists, scholars, questioners of religion who already knew about it. They will embrace the story and use it to validate their own 'beliefs'. I fall into this category.
  • Casual religious people (those who go on Easter and Christmas) who just don't care.
  • Casual religious people who may read about it and perhaps begin to question the things they've accepted at 'truth' since grade-school. Not many, but a few will do this.
A Washington Post article points out two of the larger implications from this new Gospel:
    Biblical scholars said the Gospel of Judas differs from the four New Testament Gospels in at least two important ways. First, it portrays Judas not as the betrayer of Jesus but as the most favored of his disciples, the only one who truly understood Jesus.

    Some scholars suggested that view -- if it had been accepted -- might have lessened anti-Semitism over the centuries. "The story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas gave a moral and religious rationale to anti-Jewish sentiment, and that's what made it persistent and vicious," said Princeton University professor Elaine Pagels.

    Second, the Gospel of Judas offers a new creation story, depicting the evil world as the product of a bloodthirsty, foolish lower deity, rather than the higher, true God. This duality "is why this gospel could never be accepted by orthodox Christianity," said Bart D. Ehrman, chairman of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The second sounds a lot like a good plot for a new Keanu Reeves flick, another myth from the peoples of ancient Earth. So, what's the impact? I know I come off as something of a ranter in these cases, but it's something that fascinates and scares me, this religious phenomenon. It fascinates me because everyone seems to have their own idea of God, based on very little research, what their daddy told them, or just how it fits into their view of morality. It scares me because you won't find any disease or war in history that has killed more people than in the name of God. You could find dozens of interpretations about the history of Christianity, but what I consider to be important is the continued thirst for knowledge, for the truth. As long as you have that, you won't be led around by your nose by the church.


Cameos and insider references

Jaquandor has posted a review of the one Christopher Moore novel that I haven't read (aside from his just recently published book), The Stupidest Angel. He can't quite bring himself to recommend it, however:
    The problem with that is that I can't recommend reading The Stupidest Angel unless one has also read the previous Moore novels Practical Demonkeeping, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. The Stupidest Angel recycles characters from each of these novels.

    Now, reading those books really isn't essential to understanding what's going on in Angel; the book does work, I suspect, as a standalone. However, there's a "vibe" that the book takes on by virtue of my being familiar with the characters already. There's a subtext, for example, in the somewhat antagonistic relationship between Theophilus Crowe and Tucker Case that one won't realize if one hasn't read the novels in which they appeared before. Not essential, as noted, but still pleasurable.
This hasn't always been a trend in his works (well, duh, how could it on his first book), but the first time I noticed it was in Lamb, when the demon from Practical Demonkeeping made an extended cameo. Now, it seems, that cameos are becoming more and more interwoven into every new story.

I'm about 100 pages into his recently published A Dirty Job (good so far), and already 3 characters from Bloodsucking Fiends have made extended cameos, and may very well be a part of the plot. As the tale is set in San Francisco, where BSF took place, and based on the nature of the story, the crossovers make sense. Of course, I am a huge (huge) fan of BSF, so I was quite titillated to see some of the characters appear. However, the way it is written will certainly confuse those unfamiliar with the work.

For instance, Jody, the redheaded vampire lead from BSF, is not mentioned by name, but you know it is her based on the description and mannerisms (and her trademark 'fuck-me pumps'). In fact, it isn't even clearly implied that she is a vampire in the book. Additionally, one of the detectives from BSF appears, but his motives and goals are never defined. You know he's on the trail of the vampire, but it is never implied. Again, unless you know the character and the history, you'd be rather confused about the whole interchange.

Personally, I rather enjoyed the appearances, because I'm so familiar with Moore's earlier work. But, I don't think it is essential to the enjoyment of the book. We're only talking about a few pages so far, and they are just cameos. Well, really, they are in-jokes for the well-read, and I get a little snide glee knowing exactly who those characters are. In short, you don't need to read the previous works to appreciate and enjoy the book, but you won't enjoy it as much as I do. So there.

UPDATE: Thanks to the intrepid habits of Melissa, I've been given an early birthday present. According to a recent interview with Chris Moore, looks like my favorite book is about to get a sequel:
    Q: Back to horror, you've resurrected Safeway night manager Tommy Flood and Jody, the accidental vampire, in the upcoming You Suck: A Love Story. What made you decide on a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends?
    I wrote the original book with the idea of a sequel in mind ten years ago, but my publisher at the time didn't have the confidence in the first book to publish it well, so it languished. (Which is why I changed publishers.) Frankly, it's taken me this long for my career to recover to a point where I could write a sequel to Fiends. This book should have been written ten years ago.

    Q:You Suck picks up right where Bloodsucking Fiends left off almost ten years ago. Was it challenging to pick up the story in a city that has changed since then?
    It was, and I worried about that for some time, but then I sat in on a meeting of a book club in San Francisco who had just read Fiends. They knew the city and they knew the book, and although the city has changed, they suggested that I just ignore the change. Go forward as if it was the next day. So I did.
Suffice to say, I am very excited.