Friday, May 6, 2011

Be Gone, bin Laden

photo courtesy of Michael Yon

It is rarely appropriate to rejoice an individual's death. To lose a positively contributing member of society is lamentable, always, but inevitable. And when a rotten person dies, it may end the suffering of others, but that they have lost the opportunity to turn themselves to light before their death is a tragedy.

Osama bin Laden, however, was a pitch black stain on the world. He did more to damage the reputation of Islam than did any other believer, but, more and worse, he cast a shadow over the entire institution of religious devotion. It is because of the supremely evil actions of people like him that the secular world grimaces at the determinedly devout. How often do we hear that religion has been a greater cause of human suffering than anything else in our history? We have mosters like bin Laden to thank for that.

I am devout. I am not Muslim, I am Christian, but I respect profoundly the intrinsically peaceful and selfless tenets of Islam that mirror the best of what Christianity has to offer. Bin Laden perverted the religious fervor of many Muslims, and twisted love into hate. He built a fortress of corruption upon a deeply tainted perspective of man's relationship to God. Surely by his actions he became a servant of the Destroyer. He was evil more for those lives he broke than those he helped end.

We should all lift our heads in a unified satisfaction that his life has been ended at the hands of his enemies, and that he has no more power to personally contribute to the abominations of this world. Now, finally, he will meet his God, whose name he so so abused with his time upon the Earth.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Final Cut on 2190

First, here's a thing you should watch:

Now I'm going to ask you to go take a look at my post about Final Cut on my new blog. You can read a bit about it's history and why it's important, as well as why I think students should submit their work to festivals. 

Or, if you really, REALLY don't want to go check out my new blog (which is, incidentally, a lot prettier than this one), then here are some Final Cut links that you might/should care about:

Get your tickets here (or at the HFAC ticket office)

Also, you may have some deep thoughts you'd like to share about that video I included at the beginning of this post. (transparent request for comments [good ones])

Monday, April 4, 2011

2190: A Brand New Blog

Like it? I designed it myself. Booyah.

I'm finally going live today with a new blog I've been working on. I'm calling it 2190 (say it in two numbers: "twentyone ninety"), and it's about, for lack of a better or more succinct description, film studenting. For a better and longer description of what it's all about, go check out the first post. I'll be updating it every Wednesday at noon, starting THIS Wednesday at noon, so...look forward to that.

I'll still be using this blog for everything else. I'll be talking about my life, my opinions, my experiences--sharing whatever about whatever, whenever. I'm not interested in making this a disciplined and focused blog. I need at least one public repository to use for the unrestrained dumping of the contents of my mind.

That said, I DO want to get into the more disciplined world of blogging, so I figured I'd have to start another one that I could actually follow through with. Those of you who have followed my sad efforts at blogging up to this point probably faintly (maybe) remember my past attempts at starting new blogs. I'll ask you not to talk about them. They'll stay hidden in the ether of ambiguity for the foreseeable future.

But I'm pretty excited about 2190. I have a lot to say on the subjects I'll be tackling. Here's what I'd love from you: if you find value in my new blog, follow it. And then share it with other people you think might be interested. And, as always, I'm interested in conversation. As much as I want to write about some things, I also want to know what my readers have to say, or want to talk about.

The same goes, of course, for this blog, now and always. If you ever have a thought bubble up into your frontal lobe, let it out through your fingers in the comments.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Harvey Milk

Some thoughts after watching The Times of Harvey Milk. (A transcription of my response to the film in Documentary History.)

Homosexuality is about the most complex and difficult subject around right now. There seem to be two opposing camps, on completely different sides of this dividing line of "right and wrong." I say "seem" because I think that many, many people find themselves somewhere in the middle. Some are lost, some are resolute. But the people who see themselves as standing firmly on one "side," in one "camp," are wrong. It isn't simple enough of an issue.

This documentary mapped the progress of a movement that is important, but that is not without its flaws. I'm speaking of the movement itself, which, in an effort to gain momentum, strength, and legitimacy, so often ignores or even shuns some of the objections that are leveled against it. This film, though earnest and significant, did not manage to avoid this problem: Harvey Milk was a hero; the things he fought for were Right and Good; those who opposed him were deeply and profoundly Wrong; his primary enemy was evil. 

It is a testament to the power of martyrdom that these assertions will go unchallenged by the film's audiences. It's hard to argue with a dead guy, especially one who was killed for his beliefs. It's ironic that in murdering his perceived enemy, Dan White accomplished the very thing his "nemesis" could never have done on his own. White inadvertently immortalized Harvey Milk. 

I'm not being cynical, just frank. I believe that much of what Milk did was good for society. Homosexuals are not evil. They do not, by their natures, deserve violence or hate. They are people, just like all other people, with all of their problems. I think Harvey Milk was a good man, who courageously served and fought for what he believed, and, in large measure, for the down-trodden of his era. 

We're in an interesting age now, though. It seems almost impossible to be seen as anything but a close-minded, hate-filled bigot if you still think homosexuality is wrong and say so. If you still find the idea of same-sex marriage fundamentally problematic. I do think some people are "born that way." I don't know and don't care how many or how often, or even why. I still think it's an issue. Lots of people are born with unfortunate things to deal with. And I'm not going to say we should reach out and love them anyway--I am going to say we all ought to love each other, no matter what. This isn't about accepting homosexuals or homosexuality, it is about accepting people, deep disagreements notwithstanding.

To be honest, my real fear is that the friends that I have, and the friends that I will make in the future, who are homosexual or advocate it, will not be able to accept my conviction that homosexuality, as a practice, is still wrong, no matter how good the person, or how difficult the life.

Please feel free to share YOUR thoughts. I'd like this to be a conversation, rather than a rant or diatribe. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thank You, World

Today, it was announced at Sarah Jessica Parker's Florida estate that I, Jordan Petersen, will be President of the Universe from today, the 1st day of April, until Sol explodes or an installment of Sex and the City receives an Academy Award for Best Picture--whichever comes first--at which time a new President of the Universe will be chosen (i.e. never).

The announcement should come as no surprise to those who know me well. I've always had an aptitude for ruling over other people, and the development that I will now be ruling over everyone seems only natural and fitting.

I recognize that the title "President of the Universe" is a bit misleading, since I will technically only be presiding over the humans of Earth. But should extra-terrestrial humans make contact with me (via my cellular telephone, my Shreck(TM)-shaped mailbox, or my fax machine), I will happily preside over them as well.

While I'm very happy to fill this role, and gratefully willing to spread the word, I understand that there are some people who may be disappointed by this news. To them, I offer the sincere hope that they perish quickly and ignominiously at the hands of foul-smelling, hideous people.

Please check this blog at least once every week for instructions on how to live your life better than you would have without me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Our war focused military engagement with Libya is over oil.
This is what happened. The country started to fall apart, thanks in no small measure to a terrible regime that suppressed and killed its own people, who then justifiably rebelled. But a broken country yields no commodities. And guess who depends on Libya for oil? Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, and Greece, among others. So when Libya started cracking, guess who came knocking on our door for help?

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm glad we're there. Our involvement will, I am hopeful, leave Libya's people much better off in the long run. But if not for oil, we wouldn't be there. The clear-thinking among us have asked quite simply, "Why Libya?" It is certainly not the only nation ruled by a horrible regime. There are plenty of other places with as dire need for military assistance (read: most of Africa). It's a simple answer. It almost always comes down to what we need, or, in this case, what Europe needs.

And I say fine. Can YOU come up with a better reason to go to war? Think about it. Oil makes the world go round, in an almost literal sense. Without it, we're toast. We need stable governments piping the stuff to us, or we'll die. I mean that literally, since economic collapse leads to all sorts of hazardous circumstances, like rioting, looting, anarchy and starvation. Going to war over oil is sort of like the old tribal wars over water in desert nations. Without it, we die.

European governments are suddenly supportive and encouraging of our military actions, and surprisingly few people seem to point out why that might be. It's as though everyone is content to assume we're simply in it for the Libyans. Wouldn't it be great if we were? Wouldn't it rock if we went to bat for every country, great or small, that needed us? I think it would be great.

But that's not the world we live in. We go to war for oil (justifiably), but won't and probably can't (politically) admit it. And right now, I'm troubled by the whole system. I'm frustrated by the administration's refusal to fess up to the real motivations for this conflict, and I'm frustrated by the rest of us, who don't care enough to read enough about this stuff to come up with opinions that aren't fed to us by the mainstream media, which is itself little more than a terrible, uncomfortable, never-ending joke.

All I'm saying (and I'll readily acknowledge that I'm not saying it well) is that our government has a terrible relationship with its citizens. And while the relationship is maintained stubbornly by both sides, when it comes right down to it, the citizens shoulder most of the blame, since our democratic government is mostly just a slightly distorted reflection of ourselves. This system is the result of our labors alone (or lack thereof), and maybe what I hope for most is that we wake up and realize we're doing a crap job, and get to work on something better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Minus the Y

I got an email Wednesday of last week.
Hello! Your decision letter has been mailed within the past few days. If you do not receive it by March 16th, please let Jen Healey ( know and we’ll make the appropriate arrangements. Please note that we cannot email admission decisions or give our decisions over the phone.
I guess that's kinda funny, from a certain angle. Especially considering that I wasn't expecting to find out until the end of this month. "Now," thought I, "I get to check my mail with ever-increasing anxiety until the 16th."

But the very next day, I missed a phonecall from John Bernstein. He left a charming and unexpectedly lengthy voicemail, expressing his regret for having missed me when I visited his school. And oh, by the way, "we have, of course, accepted you into our program."

All the way up until about last September, I had decided I was going to hold off on grad school until...oh, who knew? But last semester, I became overwhelmed with a desire to go back to Boston, and subsequently became fixated on East Coast screenwriting programs. I found out BU had one of the best. So I flew myself out before Thanksgiving, visited the school, and decided I would certainly at least apply.

BU was the only school to which I applied. It was Boston or bust, as far as I was concerned. And, as time went by, and I worked on my application, I thought that if I was accepted, I might go or I might not.  After all, most of the people I love are right here in Utah. Why leave now? Why not wait? I would decide, I decided, later.

Minutes after listening to that voicemail from Professor Bernstein, the answer quietly came.

Have you ever been to Boston in the Fall? It's lovely.