When a movie is so bad that it makes me sympathise with the paedophile, It really does suck.
Seriously, these storms recently? Caused by Hard Candy sucking so hard that it caused a depression, leading to high winds.
Really. Suck. Sucked. Hard.
Okay, the story goes that Jeff hangs around chat rooms looking for underage girls to foist himself upon. Hayley is 14. They meet. They go to his place. She spends way too long "getting revenge" for all the other girls.
Seriously. Paedophile. 14 year-old victim. The target of sympathies should be really easy here. But still, I wanted her dead. I wanted Jeff to break free and bash her stupid face in, even if just to shut her up.
I guess they were trying to do some sort of "tables-turned", "don't you feel dirty rooting for the child-fucker?" kind of game. But even that failed. The final "twist" was, I guess, supposed to make the viewers feel guilty for supporting the bad guy, but it failed miserably.
We were left not even knowing if Jeff really was a paedophile.
Hayley is boring, dull, and unemotional. Even when supposedly extracting revenge, it just comes out ... flat.
I don't know whether it was bad directing, bad script, or simply a very bad actress.
But whatever. It sucked.
And bad script? Hayley does all the running in the movie's opening scenes. It's she who suggests they meet. It's she who badgers Jeff into taking her back to his place. It's she who, when offered water goes and makes screwdrivers. Even Hayley's speech about "you're the adult" doesn't soften that crap. It gave voice to the standard paedophile's defence and then attempted to destroy it, but failed.
I guess there will be those who'll claim I missed the point. That it really was a searing indictment of whatever the hell. But I don't care.
This. Movie. Sucked.
Doombreed rating: 1/2. Barely.
Christopher Eccleston makes an excellent Doctor, kind of like a latter-day Tom Baker, similar irreverent sense of humour, just with a strong Lancastrian accent.
It shows great promise as a fitting continuation of one of the greatest sci-fi shows of all time*.
The fact that the first episode I saw – “The Long Game” – also starred Simon Pegg (He of Shaun Of The Dead and Spaced fame) was a great bonus.
*You may groan at the pun. I'm feeling generous.
The legal versions will come with a longer barrel, apparently so that the weapon, both in terms of overall length and in terms of barrel length, will be designated a rifle rather than a machine gun*.
Also restricted will be the armour-piercing rounds that were specifically designed for the P-90, but civilians will be able to buy standard 5.7mm ball rounds, easily enough for home defence or target shredding.
They just won't penetrate a Jaffa's armour.
Oh, well, I guess I'll have to settle for an airsoft version until I can buy one...
*It should be noted that, with appropriate documentation and processing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the short-barrel version can also be yours.
Hot on the trail of news that Grand Rapids (Michigan) is going to ban strip clubs (in similar legislation as that about to pass in Kentucky) comes the news that South Carolina is looking at banning sex toys:
Anderson Independent Mail:
"COLUMBIA - Lucy's Love Shop employee Wanda Gillespie said she was flabbergasted that South Carolina's Legislature is considering outlawing sex toys.
But banning the sale of sex toys is actually quite common in some Southern states.
The South Carolina bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport, would make it a felony to sell devices used primarily for sexual stimulation and allow law enforcement to seize sex toys from raided businesses."
Seven other states already ban sex toys: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Texas, Louisiana and Virginia.
I sometimes find myself wondering if this is really the "land of the free" that I read about as a child.
Don't worry, I'm not about to start on some anti-southern states rant. I believe that the American people must govern themselves as they see fit, but it seems strange wasting legistalure's time on such an obviously religiously-motivated law when there are real problems out there.
I can see the rallying cry now:
You can have our dildos when you pry them from our cold, dead...
What an idiot.
"'I'm just somebody who is getting up there in years, and I'm looking for a born-again, God-fearing virgin between the ages of 12 and 24 who can bear me children,' said Thelemann, who was divorced in 1989. 'What's the problem? I just think I have some wicked neighbors.'"
WFTV.com - News - Sign Offering To Buy Young Virgin Bride Angers Neighbors
A lot of the locations, sound effects, characters and scenes will be chillingly familiar to those who played the game, but for all that, the Silent Hill in the movie is a different place to the town in the game.
The story revolves around Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her daughter, Sharon (Jodell Ferland). Sharon, an adopted child, has taken to sleepwalking and often, while doing so, mentions the name "Silent Hill." Rose decides - in a barely explained weak plot device - that a visit to the town might help Sharon with her nocturnal ramblings, even after she reads up on the town and finds out about its horrific past. 30 years ago, the town was evacuated when an underground fire broke out, killing many of the residents. Now, the town is still empty and the fire still rages.
Add in some typical "dark" crayon drawings by the distressed child and anyone with a brain knows going to Silent Hill is a really bad idea.
Rose's husband, Chris (Sean Bean), has a brain. That's why he tries to do everything to stop her, including indirectly involving Cybil (Laurie Holden), a motorcycle cop whose demeanour seems to not-so-subtly hint that she was absent the day heterosexuality was issued to the class, and whose outfit seems to not-so-subtly hint that she might enjoy an afternoon with those handcuffs and a willing submissive.
Rose has an accident, Sharon disappears, the sirens go off and Silent Hill goes to hell without even bothering to load up the handbasket.
As I said, devotees of the game will recognise much of what's on the screen and coming out of the speakers, and many will remember exactly why the game gave them the creeps in the first place. But don't expect a plot that mirrors anything you did with your controller.
There's a twist, albeit a none-too-subtle one, or two. There's a side story which starts when Chris arrives at Silent Hill looking for his wife, only to find the road blocked by Gucci (Kim Coates), a cop whose demeanour, dialogue, outfit and every facial expression seem to not-so-subtly hint that he knows way more than he's letting on.
Oh, and this, like V for Vendetta, will probably rank high on the fundy's list of "movies that hate Christianity", but telling you why would be a spoiler.
Oh yeah, and the critics hate it. So did Mrs Doombreed.
I smell cult classic.
The movie has more than its fair share of jump moments, gore moments, and downright unsettling use of special effects, including the rather horrific climax.
And, annoyingly, it seems to have been written with the sequel in mind and doesn't tie up enough of the loose ends.
But don't set your sights too high and you'll like it. In one major respect, Silent Hill the movie is just like Silent Hill the game, which was a more intelligent version of Resident Evil.
Doombreed rating: ****
First, some background:
I was working a late shift today - 1530 to 0000 - and so I wanted to get a nice lay in. We got to bed around 0400 and anticipated a sleeping until around 1300.
This, it turned out, was not to be.
First, I had to rouse myself to answer the bellow of nature around 0930. Having done so, I climbed back into bed, intent on nothing more than snuggling up to the eminently snuggleable Mrs Doombreed and drifting back to sleep.
Then, just as I was crossing the bliss zone between awake and asleep, the 'phone rang. Awake again. Screw it, let the machine get it.
But then, the proverbial straw. Just as I was entering the bliss zone again, some git knocked on the door.
And we have no answering machine for the door.
Oh, but wait for the cherry (sorry about the mixed metaphor) on the cake. At the door, I discovered after struggling into clothes, was a pair of god-botherers from a local Baptist Church.
Now, I don't remember everything said. I do remember cutting off their spiel by telling them that I'm an atheist. I do remember that naive shocked look on the one guy's face as he said, incredulity in his voice, "you are?"
I also remember mentally daring them to start on me. Shit, I've got wide experience in handling fundies who think they can talk me out of my atheism, as if I've just been sitting around waiting for their specific input before casting reason to the wind and running to a church just as fast as my legs will carry me.
But I didn't want to get into all that garbage at that time, not because I was too tired to give a good account - even half asleep I'd bury them on that topic - but because I wanted to get back to Mrs Doombreed before sleep fled entirely. I also didn't want to have to get violent. Disposing of the bodies is such a chore, especially with the dumpster (see, I'm picking up Yank words) out back full up. I could buy a shovel and dig a hole, but who's got the time for that*?
Anyway, I informed them I'd been roused from the bosom of a wonderful sleep (not to mention, the bosom of a wonderful woman) and this really wasn't a good time for me, followed by me closing the door.
Later, after popping out to get the 'paper (Newspapers, in America, really are left on the doorstep, just like in the movies and on TV), I found they'd left one of their little pamphlets stuck in the doorframe, presumably as some form of silent rebuke, or even, perhaps, in the forlorn hope that I'd read it and immediately realise the error of my ways.
So there you have it. There's two more Christians who've had the stereotype of the grumpy atheist reinforced for them.
Ho-hum. I almost wish I cared.
*For those with no sense of humour: This is sarcasm! I wouldn't really kill Christians just for knocking on my door. Too often**.
**This is also sarcasm, in case you were wondering.
Two birthdays? Sweet.
Happy Birthday, Your Majesty.
MacDonald decided to see if he could trade a paperclip for a house. Seriously.
And he's nearly there.
First, he posted a picture of a single red paperclip, asking for trades. He was offered a fish-shaped pen for it. Then, he traded the pen for a novelty doorknob. Then he traded that for a camping stove, which was traded for a generator, which was traded for a beer keg, a neon bud sign and a promise to fill the keg with beer.
Many trades later, Macdonald finally traded a record contract for a year in an apartment in Phoenix, AZ.
Okay, not quite the house he was looking for, but he's still looking to keep on trading up.
Seriously, this is incredible.
Mr Kyle MacDonald, you hereby recieve the Legal Alien salute and the designation "top bloke."
He or she knowingly or intentionally appears in a state of nudity in a sexually oriented business
And defines "a state of nudity" as:
the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area, vulva, anus, anal cleft or cleavage with less than a fully opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple
And also, a person is guilty of "sexual misconduct" when:
He or she knowingly or intentionally appears in a state of semi-nudity in a sexually oriented business unless, while acting as an employee of a sexually oriented business
And defines "a state of semi-nudity" as:
the showing of the female breast below a horizontal line across the top of the areola and extending across the width of the breast at that point, or the showing of the male or female buttocks. This definition shall include the lower portion of the cleavage of the female breast but shall not include any portion of the cleavage of the female breast exhibited by a dress, blouse, shirt, leotard, bikini, or similar wearing apparel provided the areola is not exposed in whole or part.
Y'know what pisses me off?
Well, aside from the whole "government legislating morality" bit - that's a given.
There's a massive campaign to relax Kentucky's archaic gambling laws (and, with wearying inevitability, the concerned citizens forming a counter-group) on the grounds that Kentucky loses somewhere in the region of $6 million every year because residents are going to other states to gamble.
So we're now going to lose even more money because people will have to go to other states to see strip clubs and titty bars?
Islam considers homosexuality sinful. A website published in the name of Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shia cleric, says gays should be put to death.
"Those who commit sodomy must be killed in the harshest way," says a section of the website dealing with questions of morality.
Gays and lesbians are being executed all over the place, often being turned in by friends and family:
"Hussein is 32 and lives in Baghdad with his brother, sister-in-law and nieces.
He says his effeminate appearance and demeanour make him stand out and attract hostility.
'My brother's friends told him: 'In the current chaos you could get away with killing your brother without retribution and get rid of this shame,'' Hussein said, after agreeing to speak to the BBC only if his real name was not used.
The article ends with the now familiar cry:
"Saddam was a tyrant, but at least we had more freedom then," said Hussein. "Nowadays, gay men are just killed for no reason."
One of the things that made Iraq unusual was that Saddam Hussein kept the fundamentalist nutbars on a short leash, which, of course, is why they are grabbing power as fast as they can right now.
This is not the first time we've heard people decrying the removal of a man who - let's face it - is never going to grace the pages of "1,000 men I'd like to have controlling my country" as written by any rational human.
Makes you wonder just how bad the new powers-that-be in Iraq are, if ordinary citizens are pining for the "good old days" of Saddam Hussein.
The aim of the meme is to post your birthday, and then post three events, two births and one death from that day in history.
So, here goes:
1214 - University of Oxford receives its charter.
1756 - British garrison imprisoned in the Black Hole of Calcutta.
1963 - The so-called "red telephone" was established between Soviet Union and United States following the Cuban Missile Crisis.
1389 - John, Duke of Bedford, regent of England (d. 1435)
1909 - Errol Flynn, Australian actor (d. 1959)
451 - Theodorid, King of the Visigoths
Interestingly, 20th June is also the Day of the Royal Victorian Order, and, in ancient Rome, was the day of the festival of Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder.
Specialist kind of god, apparently.
I don't agree with absolutely everything Harris says, but it does make for a fascinating read (as does the entire book) and parts strike a chord, such as:
"It is worth noting that no one ever needs to identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. Consequently, we do not have words for people who deny the validity of these pseudo-disciplines. Likewise, atheism is a term that should not even exist. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma."
They also highlight some of our lesser know, but clearly talented, poets.
Poem for the day - Transport for London:
The poets never lied when they praised
Spring in England.
Even in this neat suburb
You can feel there's something to
Something gentle, broadly nostalgic, is stirring
On the well-aired pavements.
Sighs, and you notice the sudden sharpness
Of things growing.
The sun lightens
The significance of what the houses
Are steeped in,
Their winter brooding.
Touches also the cold diasporas
That England hardly mentions.
She has also learned to recognise the sound of our front door opening, and to remember that my usual routine upon coming home involves popping in to give a treat to my favourite rodent. She's usually waiting on top of her wooden house when I switch the light on.
Delay is not tolerated.
Well, that's how most news sources are putting it. But it's rubbish. People have the right to be as intolerant as they want, nobody denies that right. What Georgia Institute of Technology prohibits is people actively campaigning against minorities on campus.
The plaintiff here wants exceptions made for Christians who want to spread their hatred against homosexuals.
However, as distasteful as this may seem, it hides a different agenda.
This isn't about the right to be intolerant. It's about getting the Christian version of homosexuality - that it's a choice and not something one is born with - established in US law by getting courts to rule in favour of cases which have this misconception as their basis.
The agenda is revealed in the way that the people concerned phrase it:
Even the correction that they later issued has the same principle in it:
Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different — a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.
"Religious expression: An article in Monday's Section A said Gregory S. Baylor of the Christian Legal Society viewed homosexuality as a lifestyle choice. In fact, he does not have a stance on that issue. As the article noted, he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race, gender and other inborn traits. He asserts that antidiscrimination policies regarding homosexuality are different because they protect people based on conduct. Baylor's organization seeks to exempt religious groups from those policies."
This isn't about the right to be intolerant. It's about establishing in US law that homosexuality is a choice.
And once you've established that it's a choice, laws protecting it are easier to destroy, and laws preventing it are easier to introduce.
And, of course, with the newly redesigned US Supreme Court the time is ripe for this kind of change.
Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies - Los Angeles Times:
Meet An Atheist is an atheist's blog, written by a self-proclaimed "southern bohemian".
By way of an introduction, here's:
Meet An Atheist: Top 10 Reasons To Be An Atheist
Oh, but it's not just "huh?"
Normally it's "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH?"
Now, when I was growing up, my parents used to get on my case if I said "what?" instead of "pardon?" or "I'm sorry?"
I dread to think what they would have done to me if I'd started braying at them like a mortally wounded donkey.
And unlike England - where this shit is slowly catching on - it's not just an affectation of the young.
My job involves talking to a lot of people over the phone and, with my accent, sometimes customers have a harder time understanding me. Old and young people are out there, just braying away. In fact, it's usually the old people that are the loudest and most donkeyesque.
I guess I speak to a wounded donkey, on average, four or five times an hour.
With so many donkeys, you'd think the Democrats would be more successful.
(obscure political joke. Don't worry if you don't get it.)
It happens from time to time, and I can never know what's going to set it off. Once it was a box of rice crispies, believe it or not. The box looked so familiar out of the corner of my eye that turning around and seeing different characters on the front sent a wave of sadness through me.
Don't get me wrong, I know home is where you make it. I thoroughly enjoy living here in Kentucky. I love the place, I love the people.
But every so often, sometimes for no apparent reason, a tiny, plaintive voice inside me will wail out, "I want to go home."
Today, it was hearing a British accent over the phone at work. But not just a British accent. This guy had an accent - and manner of speaking - so eerily like one of the friends I left in England that I almost asked whether it was some sort of reality-TV setup job.
Anything, it seems, can trigger the sadness. Two years ago it was the Euro 2004 tournament and a desire to chat with someone - anyone - who understood the anguish of seeing England go out again. Not long ago it was an old episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. Stupid things like catching a quick glimpse of a dime and thinking it's a five penny piece.
I miss England. I miss her fish and chips. Her decent beer. Her kebabs. Her telly. Her tea. Her magnificent, late-night, greasy kebabs. I miss her bobbies. Her right-hand drive cars. I really miss those kebabs. I miss her golden syrup, her jam, her jelly, and - by the way - is it too much to ask that a guy get a real shredded wheat around here? I miss wotsits and crunchies and yorkies and weetabix. I miss sausage rolls and cornish pasties. I miss biscuits. I miss seeing the Queen on stamps and money. I miss being able to criticise the government. I miss being an atheist in a country that doesn't reckon atheism as being the next best thing to paedophilia.
I miss my friends most of all.
And, yes, I could easily come up with as long a list of things I don't miss about England. I could come up with a list of things I'd miss about the US, were I to move back.
And, yes, being here as brought me the most wonderful thing ever to have entered my life - Selene.
Okay, I'm kidding.
Really, I'm kidding.
Yes, Mrs Doombreed makes all the homesickness, all the missing, all the plaintive wailing, all I've lost seem insignificant when compared to what I've gained.
Well, maybe everything except the kebabs.
It's called The Gospel Of Judas and, basically, puts the character of Judas into a very different light. Apparently, the gospel was banned by the early Christian church because the view that Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him and gave his blessing was heretical.
Not that this is any surprise to anyone with the ability to think rationally. I mean.. he was.. like.. god, right? How could he not have known? And that whole "dirty Jews killed our lord" hatred that's been festering for a few millennia, what's that about? Wasn't the whole point that he was supposed to die? So didn't the Jews do him a favour?
Okay, back to reality here. Rationailty not high on the agenda.
So there's another bit to The Bible that we've never seen before?
I'm still waiting for the page that reads "To my darling Candy. All characters portrayed within this book are fictitous and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental."
This movie is outstanding. It's hard to talk about it without giving away the many plot twists, but here's it sanitised:
Slevin (Josh Hartnett) is visiting Nick in New York after losing his job, his apartment and his girlfriend where, immediately upon arrival, he's mugged and his wallet stolen. Upon arrival at his Nick's apartment he finds his friend missing and mobsters there, all set to embark on a massive case of mistaken identity. Nick owes both The Boss and The Rabbi (Morgan Freeman and Sir Ben Kingsley, respectively) - rival mob bosses terrified to leave their fortified penthouses - large amounts of money, and Bruce Willis plays pretty much the same role as he did in The Jackal. Lucy Liu plays Nick's neighbour who sets out to unravel the mystery of Nick's whereabouts and...
...the Spoiler Police would lock me up if I told you any more details.
This is a great movie. Dramatic and entertaining. Intelligent and darkly humourous. And, yes, a little Tarantinoesque in the blood content at times.
Well worth watching.
Doombreed Rating: *****
We went to see Ice Age 2: The Meltdown.
And it was good. If you loved the first movie, you'll love this one. If you hated the first movie, you're a boring fart with no hope for recovery. Go work for the tax people.
It's more of the same, yes, but it's even funnier.
Doombreed rating: ****1/2
But, wait. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems very clear to me that the government in the movie is not a Christian government. They are simply using Christianity as the means to impose totalitarianism.
Look at history. The Nazi party in Germany used socialism as a mask for their totalitarianism. The Communist party in the USSR used communism as a mask for their totalitarianism. Quite a few of the worst dictatorships in the Middle East use Islam as a mask for their totalitarianism. Not too long ago, bits of Europe were ruled over by governments who used Christianity as a mask for even more totalitarianism.
Seeing the common denominator, yet?
The government in V for Vendetta is no more Christian than the Nazi party were socialists or the Communist party were communists. At least, not Christianity as depicted in The Bible. Christianity as some might want it, maybe.
In fact, the only way that a person could be offended by this movie - using their Christian faith as a jumping point - is if they believe that the government depicted in the movie is exactly how a Christian government should behave.
And that's a truly scary thought.
*See here, here, here, and here for some, few, examples of what I'm talking about.
Until, that is, my wife brought home a copy of Banquets of the Black Widowers for me the other day. I had never heard of this book - unsurprising considering Asimov's over four hundred books in print - but had also never heard of the series.
The Black Widowers series, which number six volumes - Tales, More Tales, The Casebook, Banquets, Puzzles, and The Return - spin short stories of a group of six friends who hold monthly dinners at New York's Milano restaurant.
Each month, one member, excluding the esteemed and peerless waiter, Henry, serves a turn as host, wherein they are required to bring a guest. The guest is, in return for the sumptuous free meal, required to submit to questioning by the members. Each question session starts with a demand that the guest justify his - and Asimov shows great insight by making this group just chauvinistic enough to exclude women from the meetings - existence. Not an easy question to answer. Try it for yourself.
Each guest then, under questioning, reveals a puzzle that has been taxing him - even if he did not know it - and the Widowers solve it for him.
Actually, it's almost always Henry that solves it, but he diplomatically allows the other members a shot first.
Banquets is a fascinating read, even more so because Asimov had to come up with the puzzles as well as the solutions, and represents, in this blogger's opinion, the man's unrivalled genius at its peak.
And, with a birthday coming up, I think I know what to ask for...
What's amusing is that these comments - all setting the death of Evolution as being within the next few decades - date back as far as the nineteenth century.
This is my favourite, which dates from 1904 - over a hundred years ago.
"Today, at the dawn of the new century, nothing is more certain than that Darwinism has lost its prestige among men of science. It has seen its day and will soon be reckoned a thing of the past. A few decades hence when people will look back upon the history of the doctrine of Descent, they will confess that the years between 1860 and 1880 were in many respects a time of carnival; and the enthusiasm which at that time took possession of the devotees of natural science will appear to them as the excitement attending some mad revel." Eberhard Dennert, At the Deathbed of Darwinism,
And in a hundred years, we'll still be hearing this kind of prediction.