Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


Who Wants a Leader Who Wants to Be a Leader?

I've been selling people on The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex for years, as it's a favorite.  I shared a few quotes from it years ago and have even been lucky enough to meet the author.  I read it before I was writing reviews so I don't have one to share, but it is a wonderful mix of narrative voice, absurd humor, and poignant insight.  Here's a video Rex created when it was new:

Rex has moved on to other books and I've never expected any new Smekday stories.  Recently, though, a movie was released based on the book--a movie I've made sure to avoid after seeing a trailer, since it clearly missed the sensibilities of the source material.  Then, out of the blue (from my awareness), a sequel appeared.

I chose to listen to the audio recording of Smek for President since I'd heard such good things about Bahni Turpin's reading, and that was an excellent decision--she is brilliant.  I made sure to have a physical copy of the book at hand so I could see Rex's illustrations and graphic novel sections after I heard them.  It took me a bit to warm up to the book, though.  I'm not sure if I read the first book so long ago that I'd forgotten just what to expect, if it took Rex a bit of time to find his flow with the story, or if it's one of those stories that just needs a little time to get going, but I wasn't blown away by the early proceedings.  However, by the time I was halfway through I was loving it every bit as much as the original Smekday.  And, like with that book, it's hard to find a way to adequately describe the appeal and fun.  The humor ranges from silly and slapstick to subtle and sublime to sophisticated and cerebral.  The references range from pop culture to nerd obscure.  The satire and social commentary range just as far.  It's a middle-aged white male giving voice to a teenaged black girl and an alien.  Often it seems completely random, yet it completely works.  It is a sequel worthy of its original and I recommend it just as much.

Instead of trying to describe Smek for President any more, I'll let it speak for itself with some of the bits that I particularly enjoyed.

Right off the bat it references the movie in a way I appreciated.  Tip is complaining about the dishonest autobiography by the politician who stole credit for her victory over the aliens in the first book:
So maybe you haven't read his book.  Maybe everyone eventually realized that he used too many adverbs, or that he stole his whole climax from The Last Starfighter.  Maybe you read some other book that got the Smekday Invasion wrong, or saw that animated movie they made about it.  Whatever your deal is, you probably think you know all there is to know.  And if that's what you think, you don't.

It's never explicitly explained how all of these categories break down, but I like to think it's a reference to a multitude of gender categories when Boov politicians address their audiences as:
Ladies and gentlemen and ladygentlemen and gentleladies and gentlementlemen and mentlegentladies and gentlemenmenmenmen.

All I have to say about this is, "Yes," to both points:
"Who wants a leader who wants to be a leader?"  And I could see his point there.  I've always sort of thought we ought to keep a close eye on anyone who wants power over others.  But then the Boov added, "We want a leader who is just like us, but famous!" and he kind of lost me there.  I want a leader who's a humble supergenius.

It's not just guns:
"The moon's core can fuel my time machine, so long as you do not mind me stealing power from your death ray, Funsize."
The garbage Boov waved a hand.  "Oh, I was probably going to dismantle it," he said.  "A death ray in the home is more likely to be used against a loved one than on your enemies anyway.  Statistically."

Meta humor:
"It won't even work.  Time travel never works."

"It does not do?"

"No, I mean, look at all the stories in books and movies and whatever.  You'll just end up being the cause of whatever you've gone back to prevent."

"Ahyes.  I know these stories.  I think that is a lazy author problem, not a time travel problem."

A reference to the person who voiced Tip in the movie and created the soundtrack:
The authorities were talking about putting Dark J.Lo in jail, but then regular J.Lo spoke up on his behalf, and in the end he got off with some community service.  I hear he changed his name to Rihanna to avoid any confusion.

An interesting insight:
"How come it's so easy for us?" I asked J.Lo.  "Staying friends, I mean." . . .

J.Lo looked pensive.  "I am thinking," he said, "that we are easy because you and me, we never did expect to understands each other.  We are happily surprised every day to be friends at all.  But with our own peoples . . . we cannot forgive their differentness."

I don't feel this in any way myself, but I know some who would:
"Home is where the hard is," said J.Lo.  "As the humans say."

And the philosophical considerations I already shared in my previous post, People Are Glitches:
"Are billboard bluzzers usually this smart and helpful?"


"Not usualies," J.Lo agreed.  "But this sort of thing can sometimes happen.  If a robot is for too long frustrated at its job."

Bill was slaloming in and out of koobish's ears.  They tried to nip at him as he passed.

"I don't understand that," I admitted.  "Frustrated?"

J.Lo set down the pieces he was fiddling with.  "Yes.  Aslike . . . a robot who always wants to do, but it cannot do.  When we wants to do something but cannot, that is when we think.  When our consciousness awakes up and stretches its arms.  That is when we imagine, and plan, and dream about the undone thing.  Ignored for too long and not able to show anyBoov his message, Bill developed a bug.  Some bad code.  A . . . glitch."

I felt weird talking about Bill right in front of him like this.  After he zoomed up the ramp to the bedroom, I said, "A glitch?  Bill can think.  Like he's alive.  He might be as smart as a person--that's not a glitch."

J.Lo gave me a sad look.  "Peoples are glitches," he said.

He returned to his work.  "Their worlds do not want them," he continued.  "A fox?  It knows how to be a fox.  Any koobish is the number one expert at being a koobish.  But peoples?  Boov and humans and Gorg and Habadoo and suchlike?  We are the only ones who don't know how to be.  Who do not know the right things to do."


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