August, 2011


23
Aug 11

We saw FRIGHT NIGHT, the remake

With David Tennant as Peter Vincent, the “vampire killer” who, really, isn’t much of one, and Colin Farrell as the vampire. A very hardcore vampire…

This movie tempts me to say it’s that rare thing, a remake that’s better than the original, but really, the two films are different enough you can’t compare them in that way. This is a very smart, very entertaining horror film with more than a dash of comedy. It balances scares and laughs just right. David “he was the best Dr Who” Tennant provides much of the comedy relief, playing the self indulgent lush las vegas performer, Peter Vincent. Colin Farrell does a great job–he doesn’t over react when the crucifix is there in his face, but he reacts, subtly, just right. He gets to have his over the top moment thanks to innovative vampire transformational FX…Some really clever “psychology of a vampire” moments clear away the trite old deadwood…

They also refresh the traditional vampire imagery…how the ultimate staking happens, the vampire’s “teething up” moment…

I was pleased that they mocked TWILIGHT in this movie; they quietly ridicule it, by name.

The vampiric imagery in the Vegas disco seems symbolic to me…but this is an entertaining date night movie, not a deep film. Still, it’s really smartly made. Notice there’s only ONE WRITER for the screenplay (Marti Noxon, a relatively young, hip woman, that writer, who was hugely busy in television.) That ONE WRITER (apart from the original writer of the screenplay it was based on), gives it compositional integrity, flow, that is ruined by the typical Hollywood practice of bringing on too many writers…

The dialogue and characters in this film remind me of DISTURBIA (a kind of remake of REAR WINDOW), another date-night shocker that I thought was very good…

I suppose they could have used more shots, some more detailing, in the directing, but FRIGHT NIGHT delivers. And if there’s a sequel with David Tennant in it, I’ll go see it.


22
Aug 11

“How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World”

“We need to feel in our bones that something much bigger is going on than our petty quarrels and our obsession with getting and spending, and that the role we each play in this very big something is what really defines the meaning and purpose of our lives,” they write.

Who writes that? Cosmologists. Read about it in Science News.


18
Aug 11

Don’t TSA me, bro!

Tomorrow, thursday, I’m flying to Oregon (see a posting four or so entries ago about my reasons: personal and universal.) Five days. Going alone. Going to see my youngest son in Portland and then people I grew up with in Salem, and thereabouts, and my parents’ grave. Reconnecting. Hoping to remember what I’ve forgotten; on the way back I may hope to forget some of it again.

En route, I get to go through the TSA screening for the first time since they’ve started the new, scarier, more intrusive regimen. Nowadays they’re doing the facial analysis process. They look at “cues” and “indicators” in your face, your voice, that you’re hiding something. If they decide you’re dangerous, because of some flicker in your face, they pull you aside. They probe and grill you. They might delay you. They’ll make you tense and angry–and then they’ll say, “He shows signs of being tense and angry.”

They’re looking for these oh-so-infallible facial cues and indicators in ordinary people who may be going through financial crises, who may be depressed, who might’ve just had an argument with their wife or husband, who might be suffering from preliminary symptoms of fear of flying, who might have a mild stomach disorder, who might be impatient or tired or…

Just stressed out. From TSA. “He looks stressed out–pull him out of the line.”

“He just snapped and me and said this is bullshit!”

“Tase him!”

I’m so looking forward to it.


17
Aug 11

NotedNews: SEXY GIRL EXORCISTS? POSING SEXILY WITH CRUCIFIXES?

Apparently so:

“They may love hanging out like normal teenagers, but they don’t watch TV like the rest of us. ‘I think Harry Potter and Twilight are instigators of evil,’ Savannah says. ‘They nullify morality and just serve to hook people in with evil. ‘I don’t watch any television at all. I’m much too busy praying and fighting the devil.’”

Read about it here. I hope to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that this is a hoax but I’m afraid it probably isn’t…Bob Larson is all too real, as a human being, anyway, who claims to be an exorcist. He’s actually a fraud who exploits the mentally ill. And, apparently, naive young women.

Decide for yourself when you read the article in the Mail Online…

Yes, it’s funny. I laughed. But it’s also an embarrassment to the 21st Century. The Mail Online should be ashamed of promulgating such stunningly medieval, exploitative, nauseatingly ignorant horseshit…

Meanwhile “Christian” Fundamentalists are tormenting young girls locked up in a “tough love” compound in Maryland, reports Mother Jones.

…Another flavor of the same kind of madness…

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17
Aug 11

NotedNews: Sometimes the Con Artists Who Call Themselves “Psychics” ARE Prosecuted. Here’s a Beaut…

But WHY did it take 20 years for law enforcement to act?

“The Marks family claimed to be psychics as they amassed a $40 million fortune ripping off trusting clients, prosecutors say. Sometimes the clan even boasted of having a direct line to Michael the Archangel.”

Read all about it at the Miami Herald.


17
Aug 11

You Could Go Mad Thinking About the Ones Who Got Away With It

We often hear of people suing hospitals for surgical instruments left inside them; for needless, damaging infections gotten in sloppy hospitals, and so on. But probably most severe cases of hospital neglect, sloppiness, and lethal incompetence go unreported. “Your father died of a heart attack during the operation. At his age, it was a risk.” The family member usually nods and walks away, assuming they’re being told the truth. In fact, a little probing might well reveal that dad died because someone made a mistake they have no excuse for.

How often do they get away with it?

I’m thinking about cases where people knew who was responsible and somehow the responsible party got away with it–or cases were there was plenty of reason to assume misdeeds, yet no one bothered to investigate.

The New York Times: “For years, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, a [New York] state agency that runs more than 1,000 group homes and regulates thousands more, has almost entirely policed itself and resisted disclosure. Likewise, some police agencies have been reluctant to investigate allegations of abuse in such facilities, often involving individuals who cannot even speak.”

There was vast resistance to accountability built into that system. How much criminal neglect and abuse will never come to light?

My mother in law was in a nursing home in southern California when her wedding ring disappeared. She said someone took it off her finger, saying they were going to wash it. They assumed, of course,that she wouldn’t remember. But she did. They stole the ring–and I wrote to the nursing home about it. They responded that they had no way to be sure who did it or to confirm it had been done at all, and so on. I wrote to state agencies about it. But whoever did it probably still works there, is still stealing from helpless elderly people.

When I was a boy, one of my elderly aunts was placed in a nursing home. She had lost some of her ability to control her muscles so they put a strap on her to keep her in a wheel chair. Then they ignored her. Because of her condition, she slipped down in the wheel chair and was slowly strangled to death by the strap. Just an unfortunate accident, they said. No one was even fired for that.

How often does it happen, in our society? How far does it extend?

And of course in other public arenas, we have other kinds of unprosecuted crimes; we have criminality by people like the Koch Brothers, for example, guilty of illegally infringing the voting process, and committing countless other crimes: both crimes that can be legally prosecuted, and ethical crimes. They seem to get away with all of it.

And what did they get away with that we never heard about?

You’ll run mad, if you think about it too long.

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16
Aug 11

Cryptozoology–or mange?

A “strange creature” was discovered in rural Maryland. Some call it “chupacabra” but it isn’t that –it does at first look to be either an unusual chimera, a cross breed of animals who don’t usually breed together, or a mutation. It’s a truly strange looking creature, and this video is crystal clear. Undoubtedly–a hideous creature of some kind.

Check it out, Forteans. But the latest report suggests that it’s merely a red fox who’s suffering from a particular kind of really awful mange. Maybe so, but its body looked more like a miniature kangaroo…


16
Aug 11

Going to visit my Childhood Home–or is it my Elephant’s Graveyard?

I’m leaving town thursday, for five days…Will use someone else’s computer to update here. I’m going home to my Elephant’s Graveyard.

We moved around a lot, when I was a kid, but for the most part I grew up in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon. I’m going back for five days to visit a son, some friends, to go to a high school reunion gathering, but most of all to make contact with Oregon itself, especially its physical presence; its air, its landscape, the whole sensory feel of the place. Of course, much of it has been obscured, even blotted out, by the cancerous proliferation of franchises. But I know where to go to find traces of the countryside I knew as a boy.

I’m a middle aged guy, following a primeval impulse, possibly an instinct, to go home. I visit my parents’ graves when there, in a very charming country cemetery, and I intend to inquire about burial space for myself and my wife (I want to reserve it–not occupy it any time soon).

My wife Micky and I research real estate in Oregon–the living kind, not the after living kind–as part of a vague plan to retire there. There’s a sort of “final migration to the Elephant’s Graveyard” feel to these trips, though I won’t be actually moving house to go back there anytime soon.

I didn’t have all that happy a childhood in Oregon, yet I’m drawn to return. I’ve observed the phenomenon in all kinds of people. They crave a return to the environs in which they grew up. They go home to retire, theoretically to live…but, prompted by some hidden part of the mind, they also seem to go home to die.

Me, I’m going to smell the air, take a walk on a gravel road. (I’ll show up at that high school reunion but as I was the Chieftain of School Weirdos there I don’t expect a warm welcome.) I am not gifted with a deep, clear memory of much of my life. Partly this is because I’m a person who lived a good deal of his youth in his own imagination; partly it may be that I did some damage to those pathways, in past episodes of over indulgence. To some extent that forgetfulness is a gift; in other ways it leaves me feeling rootless, mere flotsam adrift in Time…

I’m hoping to reconnect with the happier moments of my childhood–which were usually spent alone, in the woods, the fields, the farm roads, of the Oregon countryside.


16
Aug 11

NotedNews: “Superentity” controls more than one-third of global wealth

“Conventional wisdom says a few sticky, fat fingers control a disproportionate slice of the world economy’s pie. A new analysis suggests that the conventional wisdom is right on the money.

“Diagramming the relationships between more than 43,000 corporations reveals a tightly connected core of top economic actors. In 2007, a mere 147 companies controlled nearly 40 percent of the monetary value of all transnational corporations…”

Read the article on this scientific study at SCIENCE NEWS.


16
Aug 11

NotedNews: “A Christian Plot for Domination?”

“Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry aren’t just devout—both have deep ties to a fringe fundamentalist movement known as Dominionism, which says Christians should rule the world…Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions.”

Read the article at the Daily Beast.

I call top bunk at the Mandatory National Re-education Camp for Lapsed Christians!