Animal Farm Review

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With Orwell September in full swing, how could we neglect one of his most well known works?  This novella takes place on a rural English farm in which animals begin a revolution to overthrow their oppressive farmer. Deeply symbolic and easy to follow, it is simple to see why Animal Farm is so highly regarded.

This novel was mandatory reading when I was in high school. I didn’t really understand or care for it then. It seemed highly overrated and somewhat stupid. I recall making ignorant, snarky comparisons to the movie Babe. The allegorical use of animals to the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era that followed, didn’t do much for me. Looking back I feel this book was mostly presented as anti communist tome and the deeper issues inside it were outright ignored. I remember discussions about who each character represented, but it was taken with a misguided slant toward patriotism and not a study of political structure.

I feel one point my high school literature teacher missed was how good this book is at explaining how the state works to anyone. Written in a direct and easy to follow form, it does an commendable job of illustrating the cycle of tyranny. Showing the reader how honest, well meaning ideas are agreed upon and slowly manipulated by the powerful and intelligent over the less powerful and less intelligent. Good intentions are quickly forgotten when one group can gain at the expense of another. The social and political constructs in this book are so true to life that the reader is forced to draw parallels to the ones that surround them. 

Dystopian novels rarely show the decline and fall, instead you usually see society at the lowest form. Animal Farm takes great pains to highlight multiple instances in which you see the society breaking down. You feel the plight these animals suffer as more and more things are taken from them.Orwell pushes the reader to ask if the revolution was worth it, or if the animals were better off with the farmer in charge. It alludes to a multitude of political theories and schools of thought, plus highlights how many changes a charismatic leader can make.

This book is goddamn great, truly goddamn great. I rediscovered it a few years after high school and it has been one of my favorites since that time. You can read it in an afternoon  without trying too hard, but it is the sort of novel that stays with you. If you didn’t like it when it was a mandatory read, I believe it deserves another chance. With the upcoming election season be political, read some Orwell. I believe that you will truly enjoy the time spent. Animal Farm proves that while all books are equal, some are more equal than others.

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

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Shooting an Elephant Review

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George Orwell is a titan of literature. He has coined concepts and ideas that are so deeply embedded into popular consciousness we forget they haven’t always been there. Most of us know him as a novelist, but during his life his journalistic writing were his most well known. Around the Bored Shenanigans studio we are rabid Orwell fans and cite his works with far too much regularity. So for no particular reason we present, Orwell September. This month all of our Adult Book Reports will be reviews of Orwell works.

The first work I’m reading this month is one of his highest reviewed essays, Shooting an Elephant. This story follows an English police officer stationed in Burma who is called upon to shoot a mad elephant. While never directly stated, It is assumed the narrator is Orwell speaking from personal experience. That fact is disputed as no provable historical account of these events exist. In my opinion this is written with too much earnestness to be completely fictional.

On of my favorite things about George Orwell’s writing style is the sophisticated simplicity. If ever there was a master of doing more with less, it is him. In this essay, the events are neither complex nor cunning but with precision he shows the tension between the locals and the British occupiers. It forces the reader to examine the two clashing cultures and the results of the British Empire’s seizure of that area. It allows the reader to see the author’s true opinion of the totalitarian rule without ever directly saying it.

The climax of this essay is something to behold. It drives home the themes throughout in both a subtle and substantial way. It cleanly states the essay’s purpose whilst still forcing the reader to ask more questions. It using symbolism in all the best ways and ends with some stellar final lines of dialogue. I highly recommend this and clocking in at less that thirty minutes it is definitely worth your time.

 

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Check back next week as we sink our teeth into more George Orwell.

 

Read Shooting an Elephant free here.

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

Anthems Aren’t Sacred

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I really don’t care about football. I really don’t care about the Superbowls or endorsement ads or deflated gates, I don’t care. Now if you took my lack of caring for that and quantified it exponentially, then you have how much I care about mainstream media’s opinion on things. Honestly, before the last few days I had never heard of Colin Kaepernick. I’m sure he is a fine athlete and worked hard to get his job, but I was as aware of him as he is of me. This is neither an indictment nor an endorsement of him remaining seated during the national anthem. He is exercising his free speech whilst those who are outraged and offended are exercising theirs. It’s America through and through, instant controversy over a meaningless game followed by reanalysis.

This latest fiasco is just one many where someone does the unexpected during a national anthem. Even the laziest Google search will corroborate that fact. People have been getting offended during America’s special song for so long. Somehow I doubt that Francis Scott Key wrote this song knowing the ire that would be raised by non participants or etiquette breakers. Beyond that, I highly doubt that he intended it be sung before every team sports event across the land. Does the audience there, eager to be entertained gain anything from it? Do we feel more patriotic afterwards? Does anyone really care? I think not, so I say we stop using it.

The national anthem at events is just one more piece of pomp and circumstance not necessary for anyone’s enjoyment of an event. The patrons are just there to have fun. Realistically it’s use is pretty inconsistent. It is used before every tee ball and pee wee soccer game but not before a sold out concert. It is sung with gusto during a parade, but not before a car auction. So why use it at all? If it is going to be a lighting rod for controversy, why not reserve it for political events and the like. Wheel out the anthem for big ceremonial events and not every trite, third tier semi pro ball game. Everyone just cooperates out of programming and routine. We put our hands over our hearts like our elementary teacher taught us to. It is just a red, white and blue lullaby for most people ready to see what they bought their tickets for.

I’m sure the ‘freedom isn’t free’ crowd will object to this. They believe that flag ought be worshipped and the scriptures of the anthem sung. Fine, exercise your fundamental human rights. Embrace your ruler. I just don’t think it matters at all. Patriotism isn’t mitigated by participation in a song. Stop using the anthem as a tool to provoke ostracism to those with different opinions. Stop forcing political agendas into our light-hearted entertainment. Stop assuming you know the founding father’s opinions on events this trivial. Just stop. Why don’t we just let the people get their popcorn and  and stop delaying the game. Why don’t we just accept that it wastes time and drags out the entire event? No one came to hear the national anthem. Let’s keep some perspective, it’s still just a guy sitting during a song.

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

The Beautiful and the Damned Review

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second novel is a great read. It follows through the course of their relationship, from the joys of infatuation to the committed stages’ hardships. It uses the early 1900s cafe culture as an interesting backdrop and really allows the reader to see the complexity that exist with each character. Before I get rolling too deeply into this, one comparison must be made. This book is everything Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises wasn’t. As much as I love Hemingway, this story told a similar tale in a much more enjoyable and captivating way. Horrible to say, as I know these two authors had a deep dislike for one another.

This is my first exposure to Fitzgerald’s writings. He is much more well known for his masterwork, The Great Gatsby. While that novel does seem interesting, I found this recommendation on a list of most underrated books and I feel that is a fair estimate. If you are looking for a romantic comedy style story that could easily be adapted to a Meg Ryan movie, this isn’t what you want. If you are looking for a cynical and realistic portrayal of flawed and selfish people whose love for one another has to endure trials and upheaval, this is your book.

The author’s writing style is simple and beautiful.There are multiple quotable lines spread through the text I had a difficult time nailing down one. The tone is a strange poetic elegance I haven’t really encountered anywhere else. The way in which he so clearly and cleanly becomes the vessel through which his character’s speak is incredible. The effect that their environment of decadence and the social structure in which they reside becomes ever clearer as the novel progresses, but not distractingly so. The author balances the line of a morality tale and an enjoyable narrative in a way that is rarely seen, especially amongst current literature.

The major downside to this book is it really comes to a screeching halt near the middle, I actually took a few weeks to finish this one. I cared enough to return to it, something I rarely do when I abandon a book in the middle. I was grateful I finished it, because I got closure on the characters within. The committed reader could knock this out in a few days, but I think this is best kept as a bedside book. Something to enjoy a few chapters at a time over a longer duration otherwise it does become somewhat ponderous. Overall, I got a lot of entertainment out of this story. I really enjoyed Fitzgerald’s style of writing and think this is a good entry point into the man’s work. This was definitely worth the time spent.

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Your Heroes Were Human Once

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“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Those words from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance felt very appropriate for this article. It seems that in any community there are always certain people whose reputation precedes them and are held up to a godlike standard. In the firearms community, some of those demi gods are Jeff Cooper, John Browning, Massad Ayoob and Elmer Keith.

We’re going to focus on Elmer Keith here. For those of you who aren’t the gun nerd that I am, Elmer Keith was a prolific firearms writer and enthusiast. He wrote for multiple firearms publications and had nine books published. He was instrumental in developing the .357 magnum, the .44 magnum and the .41 magnum. He developed the “Keith” style bullet which offers more reliable penetration for hunting applications. Over the tenure of his life, he influenced so many people and became known as quite the polarizing figure.

These are the blurb facts that I was familiar with. I knew the hit list of why he mattered, but didn’t know how he traveled down the path. I was pleasantly ignorant until I learned of this little episode. Elmer Keith was a novice reloader and while developing a powerful load for a Colt Single Action Army, it blew up on him.  In the man’s own words;  “When the gun rose from recoil of the first cartridge I unconsciously hooked my thumb over the hammer spur and thus cocked gun as it recovered from recoil. When I turned the next one loose I was almost deafened by the report and saw a little flash of flame. My hand automatically cocked gun and snapped again but no report. I stopped then knowing something was wrong. The upper half of three chambers was gone. Also one cartridge and half of another case. Also the top strap over cylinder. My ears were ringing otherwise I was all O.K.” (American Rifleman, August 15, 1925)

These are the little things that are glossed over by those who pray at the sanctuary of Elmer Keith.  No one mentions that as the catalyst that turned the man into the myth. No one ever said this rudimentary mistake began his journey down the path of becoming iconic. If someone had mentioned this to me, I guarantee I would have been far more interested in the man.  In the last few weeks, I have devoured vintage Elmer Keith articles and fallen in love with his brash style of writing. I have enjoyed his zest for life and his take no prisoners attitude. The man was extremely knowledgeable and has a great way of teaching the reader. I see that he was worth the hype.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like flaws. I gravitate to people who fight through the muck and fail. I need to know that you fucked up before you succeeded. I need to know of the faults to appreciate your accomplishments. If we will humanize our heroes and demote them from their gold plated altars, people might be more apt to appreciate them. They certainly won’t resent them or ignore them if they know they made the same errors we all do. I guess the takeaway is keep your idols in perspective. If you really want others to respect them the way you do, keep your starry eyed gushing to a minimum.

Need more? Ian at Forgotten Weapons has an excellent video showing the aftermath of the blown cylinder here. 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

The Four Dollar Pamphlet

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Fuck you, Michael de Bethencourt. Fuck you for calling Thirty Eight Tips For Better Snub Shooting a book.  Fuck you for not mentioning anywhere within that it is for new shooters. Fuck you for offering sparse technique, while still having an introduction talking about your skills and qualifications for writing such a pamphlet.

I don’t claim to know everything about shooting, if I did why would I purchase this literature? As a competent shooter looking to improve skills and hone the discipline of my defensive weapon, I expected more out of this. It spent more time on firearm and holster choices than on tactics. I wanted sight alignment tips, hand placement suggestions. Outside of an excellent page on reloading under stress, this was a terrible disappointment. All of the information in this booklet could have easily been found online. Thanks to a few videos from Jerry Miculek and Tom Gresham, I actually got the information I was seeking.

I tried to be objective about this, but as recommended as the author came I couldn’t help but be annoyed. I’m believe that my next foray into this type of information will be from the likes of Ed McGivern or Ed Lovette who actually offer true advice. I should have been more wary, but somehow I still have a naive hope when it comes to the firearms community. I suppose from here on out, I’ll have to be far more selective. It surprises me how small the selection of things for those trying to move from intermediate toward expert. I just wanted to get real tips on trigger control and increase my accuracy on follow up shots, but instead I wasted my time and money.

Moral of the story, pick your advice and educators with more care. Remember that book apparently is open to interpretation. Remember that just because you enjoy a certain hub of information doesn’t mean you will not get conned. Remember that just because something comes from a website called snubtraining.com, doesn’t mean it will offer any skills on snub nose revolvers. Most importantly remember, fuck Michael de Bethencourt, because he’ll charge you four dollars for a pamphlet.

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

The Killing Joke Review

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Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke is one of the best comics ever written. Simply put if you enjoy comics at all you need to read it. If you haven’t quickly abandon this review and find a copy of it. This book h highlights everything good about the medium of comics in the same way that Sin City and The Watchmen do. It is one of the definitive works ever put to page.

In the latest episode of Podcast, Brewer and I reviewed the newly released animated version. As good as that movie captures the comic, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is Alan Moore at his gritty best and the combination of Brian Bolland and John Higgins art is stellar. Telling an origin story for the enigmatic Joker and having him being a cunning and vicious is a bold choice. This is R rated Joker at his absolute best. Moore does an excellent job of blurring the line between the hero and the villain. He forces the reader to wonder how different these two really are and as stated in the narrative, all it takes is one bad day to change your life forever.

This book has been influential on a number of interpretations of Batman, everyone from Christopher Nolan, to Tim Burton and Mark Hamil citing how much they took from this comic. It is fairly obvious the critically acclaimed Arkham video games have taken many cues from it. From its’ examination of a well known character to its’ morbid subject matter, this is a fantastic comic. This book is worth all the hype, all the accolades and I imagine that it will perpetually be one of the essential Batman story arcs.

 

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Enjoy the full digital comic here.

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.