31 August 2008
---General Chang, from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Karl Rove could not have planned such a deus ex machina to save McCain from the Bush years. Or maybe he could. Can someone look into Rove's ability to control weather?
25 August 2008
I don't often write here about my personal life, although I'm not against doing it if I'm feeling it. I do have a voracious appettite for movies, books, music, and good TV. (Good TV= o.oo1% of all TV) So that's what I write about most times. Also politics, it's all politics. (Obama! Call me!)
There are two features of The Second Exodus of which you should be aware. First, a game I like to play. It's called "Funny Not Funny" It's easy to play. I show you a link, you click on it and tell me if what you see is funny or not funny and why. Hardly anyone ever plays with me, though. I promise I will never link you to anything dangerous, like a virus or trojan or worm. I'm not that smart, or that malicious. You don't have to join anything. You can comment as anonymous if you want to have a tiny voice.
The second feature of which you should be aware; I'm referring, of course, to the infamous Coletta Factor, which has already been used outside of this space by a different writer. Make no mistake, the Coletta Factor is my creation. Its namesake, Ms. Coletta, J.D., requested that I give some warning when I am about to reveal the plot details of something she hadn't seen. She was slowly working her way through Battlestar Galactica, and I was writing about the newest episodes, nearly 2 years past where she was. I believe firmly that a spoiler is only a spoiler if it's about something that has not been aired or released to the general public. I further believe that spoilers are rotten and I don't look at them, nor do I condone people going out of their way to ruin it for you. That being said, I want to write about stuff I've seen, and I can't censor myself for just one person, even if it is 1 of my only 4 readers. Ergo, The Coletta Factor. Here's how it works: At the beginning of the post, or anywhere before the offending plot detail, you'll see tiny bold letters that say "Coletta Factor-Lost S4." This means that if you haven't seen the 4th season of Lost, you'd better get lost unless you want me to ruin it for you. Occasionally I get carried away and forget, but it's ok because the Coletta Factor has a police force, and they will redact certain parts of the blog if I forget to give you a warning. For example, in book 6 of the Harry Potter series, Snape [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE] Dumbledore. Nothing gets by these guys.
Hmm...what else? Most of the pictures are portkeys. What is a portkey? I also like to post lyrics, pictures, cartoons, and videos that have enchanted me and that I wanted to share with you.
So that's about it. Keep reading, send me comments. I'm thinking that if I get enough participation, I want to play a game with my readers, the winner becoming the protagonist, or antagonist, if you're into that sort of thing, of a story I will write about her/him. What do you think?
21 August 2008
I left the job and moved to another location the week after he started. He knew who I was, knew I used to be the assistant manager, probably guessed that everyone liked and respected me, and I think he wanted to try to ingratiate himself with me so he would fit in better in the store. I know people have had the conversation with him, and he's still the same. I figured he needed a bit of tough talk, no corporate-speak, step it up, kid, because you are not cutting it right now. The right thing to do? I think so.
19 August 2008
18 August 2008
But now, I want to ask a few questions about Britain's Wizarding World: Why can't House-elves or goblins have wands? What gives the Ministry Of Magic the right to wipe the memories of Muggles who've witnessed some magic occurrence? What is the definition of "blood traitor?" Why did some at the ministry, like Dolores Umbridge, take such joy in the kangaroo courts of the Muggle-born Registration Commission?
All throughout book 5, the Ministry, in the person of Cornelius Fudge, refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned, in turn vilifying the messengers, Harry and Dumbledore. Dumbledore, we are told, was a great advocate of Muggles and Muggle-borns; in fact, Hogwarts would have been closed to anyone but pure-bloods if not for him, while Voldemort is the opposite. As the true heir of Slytherin, he carries on his ancestor's quest to subjugate or at least put in a corner anyone who is not a pure-blood. (Interestingly enough, Voldemort himself is half-blood; his father was a Muggle.) In a later book, Voldemort makes a serious mistake when he underestimates the magical power of a House-elf, House-elves being one of the populations of magical creatures to be regulated and controlled by the Ministry. In the Atrium of the Ministry stands a sculpture of a witch and a wizard looking off to the sky, quite nobly. Surrounding them, gazing up at the Humans as if they are gods, are a Goblin, a House-elf, and a Centaur. It's hard to miss the symbolism of the Wizard's view of his place in the world. When the sculpture is destroyed at the end of the book, in a duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort, the Minister finally accepts the truth of Voldemort's return and chills out a bit re: Harry and Dumbledore.
Harry Potter is not only the hero who destroys Voldemort, but the revolutionary who brings down the rotten sytem that has sprung up since the International Statute of Secrecy took effect in 1689, a system that puts the high-born ahead of the low, the rich ahead of the poor, the Humans ahead of all other creatures, even ones with equal or greater intelligence than themselves.
This could be a long piece. I have a lot of ideas on the subject, and I'd like to hear your viewpoint. I'll write more about it later on...
17 August 2008
I didn't watch the end of Halloween this time around; it's really the least entertaining part. It ends up as pretty much the same thing as the last hour of Carpenter's film, except the end, which I won't spoil for you.
Alright, enough procrastinating. I'm supposed to be looking for a job, you see. There's more, there's always more.
16 August 2008
Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture A Duckling, 1972, which was released in the UK as "Don't Torture Donald Duck," was a splendid piece of trashy Italian exploitation. Someone's killing kids in this tiny village, brutally, and there's no shortage of suspects. There's the town idiot, the spoiled rich heiress who is a former drug user, (read: prostitute), the priest, and the strange gypsy woman whom we see in the opening credits sequence digging up the bones of a dead baby. Guess who did it? (COLETTA FACTOR: DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING) It was the priest, but of course, the gypsy woman was arrested and released. At this point I'd have been surprised if a gang of townsmen hadn't shown up with chains and sticks, in order to beat the gypsy woman to death while some funky American soul music is playing on the car radio. I think it unlikely that Quentin Tarantino had this scene in mind when he filmed the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs, but I'm sure he had seen it, at least, and the memory of it was rattling around in his head. All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.
It was announced this week that the release of the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be pushed back from Thanksgiving to next summer. Same thing happened to the new Star Trek film. (JJ Abrams doing Star Trek? Are you mental, that's gonna be awesome!!!) I don't want to wait until next summer to see Shaun Of The Dead playing Scotty, or to see Snape [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE] Dumbledore.
M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, 2008, was much better than I expected. Genuinely creepy, moody, and more graphic than his other films, this one is about an outbreak of sorts. It starts in Central park one morning, then it hits Philadelphia and Boston, then smaller cities, and soon the whole Northeast is Ground Zero. At first everyone assumes it's terrorism, but by the end we are led to believe it's [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE]. Basically what it does, this toxin that is introduced, is make you kill yourself, preferably in a really gruesome way, like climbing into the lion's den at the zoo and taunting the cats, or turning on a riding lawnmower and laying down in front of it. Mark Wahlberg is not as thrilling here as he was in I Heart Huckabees or The Departed, but that's only because the material Shyamalan gives him is straight cookie-cutter horror movie hero. John Leguizamo is interesting as the best friend who leaves his little girl behind to go look for his wife. (Guess how that turns out for him?) Zooey Deschanel, whom I last saw as Dorothy in the Sci-Fi Channel's Wizard of Oz reimagining, Tin Man, was, well, she was awfully cute.
The trick to enjoying movies is to revise your expectations. Every movie is not going to be The Godfather or The Devil's Rejects, but if you know what to expect, and acknowledge the shortcomings of a genre or an adaptation, you can enjoy the movie for what it is, rather than get mad about what it's not. For example, I saw Goblet of Fire before I read the book, and all I really expected was that I would enjoy it as much as I did the first 3 Harry Potter movies. I was not disappointed. That moment at the end when Harry and Cedric touch the cup and [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE] was amazing. By the time I had gotten that far in the book, I didn't really like the movie that much anymore. They had left too much out, combined characters, added a few unnecessary bits, it was 'orrible. If you watch an Italian horror movie from the 70s, you know you are getting bad dubbing, virtually no character exposition, and gore effects that don't look realistic at all, but you know it's gonna be scary and bloody and fun to watch. If you go to see a summer-action-superhero-blockbuster, all you expect is great action and maybe a laugh or two, and most of the time you get it, except for Transformers. That movie sucked ass.
Honorable mention to Primer, a no-frills, bare bones movie about two guys that build a time machine in their garage. This movie proves that you don't need a Hollywood budget to make an intelligent film. Big ups also to Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, and all of our Olympians whose accomplishments make me proud to be an American, or they would if I didn't live in George frakkin' Bush's America.
Speaking of which, Jesus, is this election over yet? Does McCain think he's actually got a shot? One of the smartest things Bill Clinton ever said was, "It's the economy, stupid." After feeling the budget squeeze under 8 years of Republican policies, with 70 percent of Americans thinking we're on the wrong track, does McCain honestly think he has a snowball's chance? If there were any dirt on Obama, surely the Clintons would have dug it up already, right?
Ok, that's enough for one night. To sum it up: Italian horror and Zooey Deschanel: good. Transformers and making me wait for good movies: bad. The Happening and being on my own for a week: a little from column A, a little from column B.
14 August 2008
09 August 2008
08 August 2008
Page 571: “Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Lost Diadem.” And Neville Longbottom finally shows up, with the crap thoroughly and comprehensively kicked out of him. Seems with Harry gone, he’s decided that someone has to be the guy who stands up to the forces of evil and injustice, and is getting the shit whaled out of him for doing it. Neville Longbottom is fucking hardcore.
Page 577: Neville also figured out how to use the Room of Requirement as a headquarters for his secret army and how to keep the bad guys from finding it and how to use it as an entrance and exit to Hogwarts that they don’t know about. Why isn’t this guy the hero of the books again?
Page 582: Again, Hermione as the voice of reason, pointing out that if twenty-plus young wizards offer to fight on your side, it’s kind of retarded to tell them you don’t want their help.
02 August 2008
The first actor I saw play the Joker onscreen was Cesar Romero, a 1960's "Latin Heartthrob" in the vein of Andy Garcia or Antonio Banderas. This was on the campy, live-action comic book TV show starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader. Romero's Joker was a criminal and a psychopath. but in a really corny way. Like all the other villains on the show, he had a theme, and all his henchmen dressed in nearly identical uniforms that were a bit clownish. Whenever he set an elaborate trap for Batman and Robin or came up with an excruciating way of killing them, (which he would always explain in detail before doing it, thereby giving Batman time to come up with a plan to escape,) it was always based on a practical joke or a carnival ride or something fun like that. He was memorable but not a very convincing or scary villain.
Next up is Jack Nicholson, the Joker to Michael Keaton's Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 relaunch of the franchise. The film overall was dark and moody, as a lot of Burton's films are, indeed, as many fans of Batman expected. Gone was the BAM! and KAPOW! of the 60s, in its place a brooding, troubled Batman and a truly dangerous Joker. Jack Napier was a gangster who was doublecrossed and left for dead by his boss, but he didn't die. He ended up in a vat of this horrible stuff that gave him the perma-grin, discolored his skin, and turned him into a right nutter. He was obsessed with art and beauty, or more precisely, destroying same. He did murder people, lots of them, and Nicholson did a great job making us believe that the Joker was just out to lunch, but the film itself, while considerably more thoughtful than the old TV show, didn't really present much in the way of psychological drama or moral ambiguity.
Which brings us to Heath Ledger, in the role that drove him into the depression that killed him. Ledger's Joker at first appears to be an eccentric crime boss. We see him stealing from the mob in the first scene, and later conspiring with the heads of Gotham's criminal underground to kill Batman. As the movie goes on, however, Lucius Fox (played excellently by Morgan Freeman,) tells Bruce Wayne that some men "just want to watch the world burn," and we soon see that the Joker is one of these. He plays an elaborate "practical joke" on Gotham's knight-in-shining-armor District Attorney, for the sole purpose of turning Gotham's best hope for a safe and peaceful city into a disfigured, bitter, and unhinged shell of a man, a man who turns a gun on a child by the end of the film. Another one of his "jokes" consists of putting 2 bombs on 2 boats, each full of people fleeing Gotham during his reign of terror. He puts on each boat the detonator for the other boat's bomb. If one boat blows up the other, they will live, but if neither boat explodes by midnight, he'll blow them both. This sort of complexity is far beyond what we usually see in a comic book movie villain. The Joker doesn't want to hurt innocent people, he wants to turn them into killers, bring everyone down to his level and feed off the misery. Ledger hits it spot on, too, with the help of really creepy, perpetually smudged makeup. His nasal, high-pitched voice and his maniacal laugh paint the perfect picture of a truly deranged mind. He doesn't have a name, and I can't imagine what he would have been like as a child, or what kind of trauma you would have to endure to get that frakked up. He's just the Joker, a little like Stephen King's Walkin' Dude, sowing the seeds for the destruction of men as he walks the path.