Opera Review: Götterdämmerung

I’m not much of a fan of opera. Never been much of a fan of musicals in general, although that is slowly changing. However, I do appreciate orchestral music, especially movie scores, which I suppose can be thought of as the operas of our times. Of the classical composers, Richard Wagner (to me) stands the tallest. His music is epic and very cinematic, a sign that he was ahead of his time. Of his operas, I know best the Nibelung Ring tetralogy, having listened to them all years ago over at a library while following the action with translated scripts. So when I saw a promo for a live HD broadcast of Götterdämmerung – the final installment in the Ring cycle – at the Metro Cinemas in Santurce, I just had to go.

No, it wasn’t the Metropolitan Opera House, but it was the next best thing.

First of all, a summary of the Ring cycle: there is a river (The Rhine). The Rhine has three maidens guarding the gold that lies in its depths. In comes a dwarf (Alberich), who manages to steal the gold and forge with it a ring of incredible power. But such a ring can only be forged by one who forfeits love, which of course Alberich does. At some point the gods get involved, the ring ends up in the hands (or claws?) of a dragon, the hero Siegfried kills… I’m sorry, slays the dragon, retrieves the ring, falls in love with a valkyrie named Brünhilde, is later tricked into winning Brünhilde (and the ring she now holds) for a king named Gunther, is betrayed (and murdered) by Gunther’s brother Hagen, Brünhilde tosses the ring into Siegfried’s funeral pyre, with her horse and herself following, the power of the gods wane and a new dawn of Man emerges.

Yes, I grossly oversimplified the plots of all four operas, can’t be helped. Also, if you are thinking some of this sounds familiar, yes, Tolkien did take some of these elements and incorporated them into his Lord of the Rings saga. It wasn’t Wagner’s entirely original creation, either; he took many elements from the Scandinavian sagas.

While the story itself is awesome, it’s the music that really shines. It begins in Das Rheingold (the first installment) with the very first cue, an amazing overture that musically captures everything you need to know about the magic of this world. The most famous surely is the beginning of the third act of Die Wälkure (the second installment), a theme commonly referred to as the Ride of the Valkyries. The third installment – Siegfried – has the title character’s wonderful heroic theme, and Götterdämmerung had its greatest moment with Siegfried’s Funeral March.

That funeral march was the definitive climax of the performance I went to see. For much of the five hours… yes, you read that right, five hours, I wasn’t expecting that and realized what I was in for with the first series of interviews during a break; anyway, for much of those five hours you could hear the music and the singing mixed in with the occasional cough. It’s like whenever you are supposed to be absolutely silent that’s when the cough decides to be a bitch and ruin your throat and everyone else’s fun. So on one end you had the chorus of singers at the Met, on the other the chorus of coughers at the Metro. Know what? As soon as that funeral march began, no one coughed. The audience as a whole was not fully invested in the show until that very moment. That’s music magic.

The staging of the opera was impressive. Ok, since this was the first time I saw a performance of Götterdämmerung, I can’t say it was better or worse than other performances, but I can see they spent some money on those moving sets, even if from an aesthetic perspective they weren’t all that. The main thing is that they conveyed effectively and with practicality what the scene required.

As for the characters, my favorite was Hagen. He’s sort of the main villain in this piece, and I think he did an outstanding job. Sigfried was good, Brünhilde was good, most of the cast was good, but Hagen knew how to pull your strings, so to speak.

So, while Götterdämmerung is not my favorite piece of the saga (in fact, it’s my least favorite piece of the saga), I enjoyed the show and was left wanting to see more of these productions. I was just a bit disappointed that an opera with the (translated into English) title of “The Twilight of the Gods” seemed to be the most grounded in Man’s world of the four operas. Damnit, I wanted to see those gods!

Goodreads Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not exactly sure how I feel about this book. It did keep me glued to it for the two or three days it took me to read it, but it’s such a downer… and yet I liked how it didn’t go the cliché route and had Katniss doing typical heroic noble stuff. Hell, she messed up most of the time, and got plenty of people killed for nothing, but that was realistic, if you ask me. She might have been good enough to survive two Hunger Games, but she was no soldier, and too much was being asked of her, especially with all that pressure about being the Mockingjay and thus the target of the Capitol. Her constant psychological breakdowns were to be expected, though most people would have broken down completely way before she did.

I feel like Suzanne Collins just wanted to write an exploration of the human condition (basically, our capacity for cruelty), but for some reason went with a Young Adult series to do this. It will be really interesting how all of this suffering, gory violence, and psychological torture is translated to the big screen; “The Hunger Games” might have seemed to be a bit controversial for a YA movie, but that was nothing compared to this. It’s almost like the Harry Potter series jumping for the semi-lightheartedness of book two to the heavy grimness of book seven in just three books. You better grow up fast.

Speaking of Harry Potter, if “Catching Fire” reminded me of “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire”, “Mockingjay” reminded me of “The Dark Knight Rises”. How? Well, like the Dark Knight trilogy, the beginning was good, the second part was brilliant, and the conclusion was sort of grim, nowhere as good as the second part, but a satisfying conclusion nonetheless, especially the last lines, where Katniss and Peeta use the Real or not Real game one last time.

Yeah, from time to time I’m a sucker for corny endings too.

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Goodreads Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By far my favorite book of the series.

The ending of “The Hunger Games” left it clear that surviving the Games wasn’t the end of the road for Katniss, that now the Capitol’s feathers were ruffled and they had a rebellion to quell before it started. “Catching Fire” devotes the first half to Katniss trying (very unsuccessfully, of course) to cool down the rebellious spirits of the districts after Snow threatened her and her family. Since the book is called “Catching Fire” and not “Cooling Down”, you can pretty much know what happens next… except that, before that “next” thing happens – that’s for the final installment, “Mockingjay” – there’s a second Hunger Games Katniss has to attend to, for failing to cool down anything.

Once it got to that part, this book reminded me a lot, in a good way, of “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire”. In that book, a tournament of champions was set up, one in which Harry had no business to be in, and one which by the end will trigger the war between the wizards and the Death Eaters. Here it’s basically the same, with a Hunger Games that now feature past champions from every district, and one in which by the end will trigger the war between the districts and the Capitol. The set up of the Games themselves is more interesting than in the first book, and Katniss being forced into alliances with victors from other districts adds another interesting twist (since, of course, by the end there can be only one).

This is probably the easiest book in the trilogy to adapt to a movie, and am looking forward to how they do it.

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Goodreads Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest: I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Not that it’s a masterpiece or anything remotely close to that, but it’s really entertaining (except for the first few chapters, which are a bit of a drag). Once it gets going, it does get going, and this is all thanks to Collins’ excellent narrative. It just FLOWS smoothly.

What puzzles me is how closely the movie (which I saw before reading this) resembled the book, and yet it completely lacked that sense of entertainment. I guess since the subject matter is a bit crude for a Young Adult audience – you know, the whole children killing children thing – they went with a very somber mood, effectively killing whatever sense of entertainment you might get out of this. The truth is, it reads very PG-13, and not the R you would think a story like this would be; Katniss, the heroine, never once succumbs to the depravity of the killing, and neither does Peeta, so despite the carnage you never feel any sort of morbidity. If anything, you probably feel the same kind of detached excitement over the whole thing that the people from The Capitol feel, which is a curious thing, considering how it’s Katniss who’s telling the story, Katniss who is the complete moral opposite of the citizens of The Capitol.

The romantic triangle, while forced, actually fits and adds to the tragedy. I have no problem with this, but with how it eventually became the center of attention. I guess that comes with the YA territory, and would have been worked differently had the story been aimed at a more adult audience.

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Goodreads Review: Farsighted, by Emlyn Chand

Farsighted (Farsighted, #1)Farsighted by Emlyn Chand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry Potter made wizards cool again. Edward Cullen made glowing pussyfied vampires “sexy” somehow. Artemis Fowl might still make child criminal masterminds the #1 fantasied future career in schools. And Alex Kosmitoras could follow in those footsteps and make psychics relevant beyond the late night paid programs.

“Farsighted”, the first novel by Emlyn Chand, follow the adventures of Alex Kosmitoras as he discovers his latent psychic powers, which include the ability to see the future, or string of possible futures. The whole future “seeing” has an irony attached to it, for Alex is blind. The interesting thing here is that he perceives the future the same way he perceives the present; he can’t literally “see” anything, but uses his other senses to make out what’s going on. That’s what sets this book apart from others aimed at the YA audience; Alex is not the most popular kid in school, or even falls in love with the most popular girl in school. He’s more the Peter Parker kind, the outcast, somewhat nerdy kid learning to become Spiderman and take responsibility for his powers. In fact, Spiderman is referenced at one point, when Alex decides once and for all to use his powers for the good of others, most immediately his best friend (and love interest) Simmi, who he thinks to be in grave danger due to some of his visions. Another reference – and a bigger influence on the creation of Alex’s character and his greek heritage – is Homer’s The Odyssey, which features a blind prophet. Alex is a modern version of this prophet, another creative twist in and of itself, for very rarely do the oracles or prophets get to star in their own adventures (with few exceptions, such as the biblical Elijah).

What about the story itself? While it didn’t blow me away, it was a good enough beginning to the series to want to read more. I guess that comes with being an origin story, where character development time is spent in place of “lock and load, let’s blow some shit up” time (or “let’s have some vision” time, I guess). And while Alex, Simmi and Shapri are no Harry, Ron and Hermione, they are a good enough trio in their own right, with plenty of conflict, both from being teenagers adjusting to each other’s personalities to the mild sexual tension between Alex and the two girls. There were a couple character actions that bothered me, such as the weird reconciliation between Alex and Simmi (weird enough that I was sure he was dreaming it until… well, it was obvious he wasn’t dreaming), and those coupled with the “not being blown away by the story” bit prompted me to give it four instead of five stars. Still a very good debut by Ms. Chand.

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Movie Review: War Horse & The Adventures of Tintin

“War Horse”, directed by Steven Spielberg

Christmas 2011 saw Steven Spielberg come back to his roots as the creative director with the heart of a child and the positive outlook on the world. Hergé’s classic character Tintin gave him the chance to tackle once again the adventure genre he loves so much, while War Horse felt like a throwback to the old Hollywood movies where, even against the horrible backdrop of a war, you can find decency and goodness in everyone, gritty realism be damned. Both are vintage Spielberg movies, for better or worse.

I was more impressed (and surprised) with War Horse. Judging by the trailer I expected a movie filled with melodramatic fluffiness and a John Williams score swelling into emotional epicosity at just the right cues. I did get that, yet Spielberg – damn him to hell – managed to stir the child in me that used to love this sort of overtly optimistic storytelling. I was actually looking forward to the predictable and inevitable reunion between “Albert” (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse “Joey” (a bunch of stunt horses, I suppose). And not because I gave a crap about “Albert”; in fact, none of the human characters in the film are given enough depth for anyone to care. Nope, it’s the horse that’s developed, and very well developed he is. Fuck, Spielberg even managed to have the horse give a couple dramatic trailerish looks/poses (just check the trailer below), and those trailerish looks/poses had more dramatic weight than when someone like Brad Pitt or George Clooney do them. No, I’m not kidding, they did work well within the context of the film.

Before I forget, here’s a summary of the story: horse is born; “Albert” has nothing better to do than follow him around while he grows up, longing to make him his horse; Albert’s father foolishly buys the horse (they are poor and needed a plow horse to work the farm, not a thoroughbred); despite this display of stupidity “Joey” learns to plow the fields and nearly saves the farm; heavy rain ruins the crops; war erupts; father sells the horse to the military, while “Albert” cries; “Joey” changes hands (hah! horse racing pun… yeah, most of you won’t get it) several times during the war, going from the English to the Germans to the French and back again to the English via the Germans; “Albert” and “Joey” impossibly meet again (spoiler alert); there’s a last hurdle to jump (last horse pun, I promise) before they are finally together; end credits.

Takes a special kind of director to make a movie this sugary and full of flaws so damn good. He even convinced the good people at the Golden Globes awards.

“The Adventures of Tintin”, produced by Peter Jackson

Now let’s talk about The Adventures of Tintin. If you haven’t read the wikipedia link I, uh, linked to above, then suffice to know that “Tintin” is one of the most beloved fictional characters in Europe, virtually being their Indiana Jones way before Indiana Jones made his movie debut. Exchange archaeologist for the more realistically adventurous profession of reporter, add a sidekick dog called “Snowy” and you got “Tintin”. The Spielberg/Peter Jackson film is based on the story “The Secret of the Unicorn” (read the damn link, I won’t explain), and they did follow it very closely. It’s not that I have seen or read much of Tintin before the movie, but it felt like they managed to capture the essence of the characters and story. The problem was… it wasn’t that exciting. Yeah, there were some really nice sequences (especially in 3D), but it felt like a story that belonged in a Saturday morning cartoon and not a full fledged Hollywood movie. This sounds ironic when you consider that Indiana Jones himself was born as a homage to those serials of Lucas’ and Spielberg’s youth, but the films they ended up doing had all the epic quality of a blockbuster. This felt like a lot of work and money was put into something that wasn’t really that grandiose to begin with. I don’t know, maybe it’s all the hype around the movie and the character himself that’s blunting my sense of wonderment. I did enjoy the movie, mind you, I just wasn’t blown away by it.

Either way, both these movies make a nice addition to Spielberg’s resumé, and hopefully he will refocus on directing more, producing less. It is his imagination as a director that made Spielberg a household name, after all.

Next in line for him? A biopic of Abraham Lincoln. Sure will be interesting to see Spielberg’s take on that.

Movie Review: The Searchers

The opening shot in “The Searchers”

Once the beginning credits were over with and John Ford’s first shot of The Searchers came into full view, I went into “holy shit!” mode.

It was a simple shot, really. We begin inside a house and slowly move outside, following “Martha” as she goes out to greet the returning “Ethan Edwards” (John Wayne). It’s dark inside and what we initially see is a silhouette. Outside it’s bright enough, though, and as we go past the door Monument Valley, Arizona, is displayed in all its panoramic glory. It reminded me of the time earlier this year when I visited the Grand Canyon and was blown away by the 3D vistas (the depth of the canyon is so pronounced it felt like watching an IMAX movie in 3D). I had seen the Canyon lots of times in videos and pictures, but they didn’t do it justice, not by a long shot. It’s one of those places that you have to be there to truly appreciate it. That opening shot of The Searchers, however, came very close to that experience.

The storyline: it’s Texas, 1868. Ethan Edwards returns to his brother’s home after years of being away, first fighting in the Civil War (as a Confederate) and then… well, who the hell knows where he went those three other years, the thing is he’s back. The family is very happy to see him back, but he’s just like “meh”. Then tragedy strikes, as Comanche indians slaughter the entire family but for Edwards and “Martin Pawley” (Jeffrey Hunter), who were out searching for those Comanche, and “Debbie”, Ethan’s youngest niece who was kidnapped by the Indians (oh, shut it, I won’t be politically correct and write “Native Americans” every time). The rest of the movie is the search for Debbie, spanning several years until she’s 15. They eventually find her, of course, but what they find is not the Debbie they knew.

Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter) and Ethan Edwards (John Wayne)

The Searchers is a classic, making basically all top ten Westerns lists, in some cases landing the #1 spot. I wasn’t impressed enough to make it my personal #1 Western, but it’s easily in my top ten, maybe top five. There are two reasons for that: John Wayne and John Ford.

Let’s start with Wayne. I’ll be the first to admit that, at this point in time, I haven’t seen that many John Wayne movies. I know him mostly by his reputation as the noble heroic cowboy that everyone looks forward to. His “Ethan Edwards” was anything but noble, though. He was a racist, mean motherfucker that couldn’t care less what you thought of him; for example, his nephew Martin was adopted (Martin was one eighth Cherokee), and Ethan never missed a chance to remind him both that they weren’t kin and that he had Indian blood. When Ethan’s driven – and the Comanche gave him plenty of drive – he wouldn’t stop until he got what he wanted. He had his own philosophy of life, one that wasn’t bound by incorruptible honor and gallantry, yet he does care, in his own fucked up way, about others. Wayne nailed this character through and through. I’m not surprised some consider this his finest performance, because it’s one of those that you cannot imagine being done in any other way by any other actor. Ironically, for such a great performance (and such a grand reputation for the movie as a Western and as a film in general), The Searchers received a grand total of zero Academy Award nominations.

Yeah, I guess the Oscars are overrated.

Then we have Ford. That opening shot alone made me understand why Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone (two of my favorite directors and two grand masters in their own right) had Ford in such high esteem and were so heavily influenced by him. What the film lacked in a strong plot more than made up for in direction, cinematography, and editing. Ford should have been nominated for an Oscar same as Wayne. The way he handled the shots made you feel like you were right there, galloping across the desert, surrounded by the Comanche, or attacking their tribe. It was brilliant, and made me wonder why most directors nowadays are so painfully… lazy. “Uncreative” would be another appropriate description, but that is mostly due to laziness and the obsessive attachment to formulaic shots and sequences. It’s like nowadays that majority of Hollywood directors are working on TV soap operas, while John Ford was working on actual Hollywood films. CGI is partly to blame, but not entirely; The Searchers looked much better than anything I have ever seen in the Western genre (Leone included), vastly – oh, oh so vastly – superior to George Lucas’ video game feel in Attack of the Clones, which had a similar red desert setting.

Speaking of George Lucas, there is a sequence in The Searchers that I’m pretty sure he… umm, borrowed for 1977’s Star Wars. As I briefly mentioned earlier, Ethan and Martin had joined a group of rangers to hunt down some Comanche that were known to be in the vicinities. Turns out the Comanche had lured the men out to attack their homes at will. They realize this and quickly return to their respective homes (well, except for Ethan, who was wise enough to allow his horse to rest before going back). What they come back to is a burnt house, and the burnt remains of the family. The sequence is very similar to the one where Luke meets Ben Kenobi and during their conversation realizes the stormtroopers would come looking for the droids at his home, where his uncle Owen and aunt Beru live. When he makes it back, all he finds are their burnt remains, with the house suffering a similar fate.

Not sure if Lucas meant that as a homage to John Ford or just decided to steal the fuck out of that sequence, but the fact that The Searchers is a major influence on so many filmmakers should come as no surprise. Ford and Wayne were at the top of their game here, and The Searchers is a movie that deserves to be seen, studied, and appreciated. It was only fitting – in fact, I was expecting it after that monumental opening – that the movie ended with a reverse shot of the first sequence, completing the circle as Ethan brings back Debbie, and then walks away.

Ethan Edwards walks away, and so does the movie.

Book Review: Homeland (The Dark Elf Trilogy Book 1), by R.A. Salvatore

Several weeks ago, as I browsed for… whatever it was I was browsing at Shelfari, I came upon this blog post about author R.A. Salvatore and how he approached writing fight scenes. This interested me for several reasons, the two primary ones being that I also liked writing fight scenes and that I was starting to develop a fantasy novel at that point, so knowing Salvatore by name (even if I had never read a book of his before) I wanted to see his take on fantasy fighting scenes. I was happy to see we agreed on many points and basically approached fighting scenes in the same way, with the only difference being that he is a bestselling author and I haven’t published a single novel yet (but hey, it’s a start). As I got to the question of “What is your favorite fight scene that you’ve ever written?“, I knew I had to read those fight scenes for myself.

So congratulations, R.A. Salvatore, you have made another sale!

Thing is, I didn’t buy any of the books containing those fight scenes. All of them were showcased in books well into their own series, so buying those specific novels meant I would be lost. What’s the point of reading a fighting scene out of context? That’s like watching Transformers 3, a bunch of amazing CGI effects with no emotional context behind them to make you care, which means that no matter how great they look they’ll still be boring.

So instead I went to a good starting point in the Salvatore universe, and bought the Dark Elf Trilogy.

The Dark Elf trilogy is the origin story of Drizzt Do’Urden. Drizzt is a drow elf, meaning a subspecies of elf that lives in the Underdark. These elves are generally evil, because… well, I guess because having to use night vision 24/7 is incredibly irritating and makes you an ass. Now, I have never liked this type of generalizations regarding species or subspecies. It’s just too easy a copout, like making the entire race of Klingons in Star Trek warriors, or the entire race of Vulcans in Star Trek super smart logical beings, or basically any race ever showcased in Star Trek being all the same (except for humans, of course, because our signature trademark is our amazing diversity! Take that, rest of the Universe, hahahaha!). However, the Forgotten Realms from which these stories spawn are a series of D&D games, so for the sake of simplicity I can forgive the generalizations. Also, in this case the generalization is an important part of the story because it turns out Drizzt is one of those few drows that do not like to be evil, so he rebels against the system. Homeland covers the first thirty years or so of his life, in which he is forced to learn and embrace the ways of the drow, and ultimately abandons his people (no need for a spoiler alert, it’s not as if you couldn’t see that coming).

Even though it wasn’t a page turner and there were no amazing fight scenes (only good ones), I enjoyed it. It’s interesting to read a story about the bad guys for a change, despite the main character being a good guy at heart. It also makes for more tension, because while you know Drizzt is going to live through this book and a myriad of others, you feel for his character and what he has to go through. I mean, 99.99999% of those around him are willing to kill him if they can get away with it, his mother included (yeah, when your mother was the first one to try to kill you, you know things are bad).

Speaking of getting away with killing, that’s basically how drow society is structured. Houses – in other words, big families under one name – wage war against one another, if one perceives weakness in the target; for example, losing the favor of the Spider Queen, the deity the dark elves worship. This is done to gain a better ranking in the city, as the better the ranking, the more respect coming your way. Also, the eight highest ranked Houses comprise the council that makes the big decisions in Menzoberranzan, the drow city. In an interesting case of contradictions, obliterating another House is illegal, but only if you are caught. For that, any surviving member of the defeated House has to file a complaint to the council of eight. If you are not caught, then everyone else just turns a blind eye to the fact a House no longer exists, and secretly applauds the deed. In other words, the attacker must make sure it completely wipes out the other House, or they will be destroyed in turn by the ruling of the council. What is being punished here is not the attack but the failure to do it efficiently. Dark Elf society is structured for evil.

Another interesting aspect is how drow society is very matriarchal, where males are there only for reproduction and cannon fodder for the wars. In fact, they resemble insect societies like bees and ants, except that the drow don’t have an elf queen per se and much less would sacrifice their lives for the good of the many. It’s a nice deviation from the usual male dominated fantasy.

Will I read the next installments in the trilogy? Well, of course; I bought the three-in-one volume, so I kinda have to. But besides that, Homeland made for a good introduction into the character, almost like a teaser story, and you know it can only get better from here.

Rant: Is the U.S. the new 17th Century Church?

doublefacepalm_2-1

Some of you might know of this famous scientist who, back when the universe existed through the sheer will of God, dared to refute the claim that the Earth was the center of that universe. His name was Galileo and he was forced to recant his claims by the strongest power of the time: the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church, however, had valid reasons to censor Galileo. Their absolute power over its subjects depended entirely on the validity (or, let’s say, literal validity) of everything that is written in the Christian Bible. There was no space for interpretation or poetic license; if one thing isn’t true, who’s to say the rest isn’t? Of course, that’s as good a justification as governments making shit up to legally invade another country. It’s been done throughout history whenever you require a large amount of people to agree blindly to your egotistical designs, so no surprises so far. And while what I will mention next should come as no surprise to anyone living outside a cave for the last twenty years or so, it’s still very disturbing.

Turns out, there’s a Canadian book on evolution that recently won a prestigious award over there for best science book for children. You guys remember when children went to school to learn the facts of life and the universe? Apparently some folks don’t, and this group has put the fear of God (literally) on U.S. publishers so that no one on American soil will pick this book up for publication. And by “this group” I mean Christian Creationist Groups.

Now, let’s be clear about something: freedom of speech goes both ways. It means that just as much as you are free to rebuke God and religion, religion can tell you that you are wrong without fear of legal reprisals; they are within their rights to defend their beliefs. However, this is nothing of the sort. This is censorship on the scale of Galileo vs. The Church, without going so far as threatening with death (as far as I know, there are always wackos). The day has come when evolution, one of the most accepted scientific theories (facts, actually) of the last century, is a topic so controversial publishing companies are bowing out from talking about it, for fear of the Creationism faction.

I wonder what would be the public’s response if the roles were reversed and it was the scientific community trying to bury forever and without question the religious beliefs of this people, using their clout to achieve their ends. Yeah, I can already see Apple, Google, and Microsoft threatening with an embargo of their products if the U.S. Government doesn’t outlaw Bibles. Or maybe Bill Nye the Science Guy putting Creationism in its place.

The religious rhetoric in a supposedly secular state such as the United States has been alarmingly going on the rise for the last few years; at least it caught my attention since the Bush Jr. administration (I’m the first one to admit I don’t pay much attention to politics, most probably it’s been going on since way before that). It’s alarming because, historically, one of religion’s staunchest characteristics is its intolerance. Its “we are right and you are wrong, and you will pay for your mistake in Hell” mentality is eerily similar to Bush’s “you are either with us or against us” rhetoric. The values that once made the U.S. a promising nation are giving way to the censorship and oppression of the “1984” world.

And that, folks, is one scary thought.