Blog Archives

We Need to Talk About Literary Analysis

I’m reading one of my favourite books, We Need to Talk About Kevin, for the second time.  It’s fantastic.  I’m devouring it just like I was the first time.

What I’m noticing in myself is how I’m analyzing it like an English teacher might.  Noticing foreshadowing, narrative, the highlighting effects of opposites, giving serious thought to the characters and who’s right and who does Kevin hate more, etc.  Not that doing this is ruining it for me, it’s just passive thinking while I read.  If anything, it’s provided me more enjoyment.  I’m getting a lot more out of it.

Since this is the first time I’ve been conscious of such analysis, I wonder what it is about the book that evoke it.


EDIT (8:40pm) So the print edition I read has book club discussion questions at the back.  Somehow, this cheapens the realizations I made while reading.  Sad.


Super Bowl Betting

Like millions of other people, I was watching the Super Bowl this year. And for the first ten minutes or so, I couldn’t help but thinking about money changing hands. Not on the overall outcome of the game – that’s a given for any major sporting event – but down to each play.

It starts with the coin toss. Who’s gonna win the toss? What are they going to choose? Then the kickoff. What player catches it? How far is it returned? What kind of odds do people give for a kickoff touchdown? And even the drives. Is the first play a rush or a pass? If a pass, is it completed? Do they make the first first down? Does the first drive end with a touchdown, field goal, or something else?

I could seriously picture many many people gambling on all these petty outcomes. Some people betting a dollar on them, and some hard-core types betting far too much. In the end, my head was hurting thinking about the meta-game and all that, and I stopped so that I could just enjoy watching.

Oh yah: the onside kick to start the second half? AWESOME.

South Park’s Baseball Episode

In the finals between South Park and Denver, the Denver team is so good at sucking that they can pitch the ball at South Park’s bats, and hit fly balls into South Park’s gloves.

But Denver, like all the other teams, has been trying to lose the whole time. So just how incredible must the other teams in Denver’s division have been, for Denver to have been the team that was *worst* at losing?

What I Love About English

Admittedly, English is a language rife with problems, but it has distinct advantages. The typewriting/computing era has got to love a language with no accents on any letters, meaning keyboards are free to have more commonly-used symbols.

But one element we take for granted is the absence of gendered nouns. How irritating is it that in many languages, words like tree and pen and milk have genders? Does this make sense to anyone? Paper is masculine and streets are feminine; of course, how could I not have known!? It’s probably easy enough if you’re used to it; just one more thing to memorize (as if it was included in things we need to know anyway, like definition and spelling). If I go to France and say “le piscine”, which is the wrong gender for “pool”, is that a big deal?

Maybe English speakers can get away with ignorance on this one, but we’d certainly be mocked if it was done en masse. East Asians have been mocked for their muddling the letters L and R, which are not 2 distinct sounds in some East Asian languages. As I write this, I’m believing more strongly that we English speakers get some flak for our misuse of other languages.

What’s interesting, too, is that some languages have genders that vary by the speaker, rather than the subject. Portuguese and Japanese both do, at least.

Anyway, I wonder if people who speak non-English languages have an easy time remembering the genders of nouns. All I can say is, I’m glad we don’t have to.

You Just Lost The Game

The Game seems like such a downer. You never win, you can only lose. You could describe the state of not losing as “winning”, but you never get to enjoy winning, and if you do, you lose.

That said, it’s a cool mind game. It’s a self-meta-game. Awesome.

Link: Wikipedia


A while back, I watched a couple movies in one night: “Tank Girl” and “Happiness”.

Tank Girl was an obvious B-movie. Or maybe a C-movie. I didn’t like it much, so I started getting philosophical, if you can call it that, about the movie. For starters, was this movie an intentional B-movie? Or was it just poorly made? If it’s poorly made, but “works” as a B-movie, does that make it any less bad? Is that worse than intentionally being a B-movie? I know there are people who really enjoy B-movies, so it’s possible that filmmakers write low-budget films with this audience in mind. And maybe bad movies are rescued by B-movie likers, to some extent.

Back to Tank Girl, I thought in-depth about the individual scenes, directing decisions, and so on. If I’d had a pen at the time, I might have considered writing down more of these specific thoughts. I kind of enjoyed the metamovie.

Happiness was a movie about sexual dysfunction. It was kind of unsettling at parts, like when the pedophile father tries to slip his son’s friend a sedative. I don’t get uncomfortable by much, but this hit a “wrongness” level that made me not want to watch. There were some metamovie moments here, too, like when the father gives his son the sex talk, I thought about how awkward it would be, as an actor, to give the sex talk.