Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

So what am I doing all day today? Reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus for ENGL-382. Twistedly fitting, I think.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Brief Thoughts on Torture Protests

I'm a little to swamped right now to engage in any lengthy discussions about interrogation policies and the ethics of America using torture methods. Suffice to say I am against the use of torture. Regardless of feelings towards terrorist or suspects of terrorism, I simply do not adhere to the rationality that if an enemy is probably going to do a wrong either way, we should condone that wrong by doing it ourselves. If we torture our enemies, it sends a message that we are ok with them torturing our troops and civilians when held captive by them. Furthermore, I do not believe torture works, or at least works to a consistently reliable degree. If someone is tortured, they will say anything to stop being tortured, but that doesn't mean what they say will be true. If anything, it's more effective at getting the tortured to say what the torturer wants them to say. Thus, it is a method of investigation that is highly susceptible to corruption.

With my position on torture made clear, I'd like to criticize some of the methods of anti-torture protesters, not to dissuade them from opposing what I agree with them is wrong, but in hopes that better strategies can be devised.

With all due respect to the individuals who did this and their willingness to inflict actual torture upon themselves to show others how wrong it is, these kinds of protests are really, really stupid.

Why? Because though the activist is getting a very real idea of what is being done to prisoners, the audience isn't. What we are seeing is someone hanging upside down flailing about. It looks like an act at best. At worst, it does look real, and only encourages people that it isn't such a big deal that we are doing this to people, since some peace loving hippie is willing to do it to himself. It looks unpleasant but comparably ethical to say... slowly cutting someones fingers off. If there is permanent damage, it is psychological and will not be expressed easily to a skeptical audience. They will simply see that you were willing to do it, and are probably going to be right as rain the next day, so what's the big deal?

What people actively protesting torture seem to forget or overlook is what torture means to the masses right now. Torture horror films have enjoyed more success in the last 4 years than ever before in America. When people have sat through the carnage of Saw, Hostel, their sequels and numerous other blood baths, pouring water up someone's nose seems like a joke. People actually don't believe it is torture and that's where the real battle ground is. If you want to make change, you need to go at the heart of American desensitization and reaffirm the dictionary definition of torture. Otherwise, you're just encouraging what you are against by making it look like less of a big deal than what it is.

5 Favorite Horror(ish) Movies to Watch on Easter

These aren't really in any order. Little too busy right now to stop and think them over to that degree. Most of these films happened to be playing on TV during Easter when I was little which is why they make the list. This isn't supposed to be some kind of Easter Movie list. Except to the degree that it actually is.

Tarantula (1955)

I will always hold Them as the greatest giant bug movie, but this one comes pretty close. Like Them, Tarantula had a director who understood how to make the idea of a monster scary. Another fine classic from Jack Arnold, best known for Creature from the Black Lagoon. What more could a candy buzzed kid ask for?

Gargoyles (1972)

Creature master Stan Winston's first monster movie. In many ways a great low budget predecessor to Clive Barker's Nightbreed. Though perhaps my memory is a little blurry as to who was good and who was bad in the film. Either way, it's cheesy gold in wrapped in in golden cheese.

The Swarm (1978)

Oh sweet Jesus! (Pardon.) This movie is bad. Bad, bad, BAD. Back when natural disaster movies like Earthquake were all the rage, this was thought to be the next big one. A lot of money was poured into it. Great actors were hired. Terrible crap was made.

I for one, love killer bee movies. It's one of those crazy genres like tornado movies that used to flood television. I remember when everyone was so afraid that African killer bees were going to migrate north and kill everyone. Then winter came about and they chilled out in Texas. (God there are too many crazy things that can kill you in Texas. Its like Australia's little brother only with more guns and less deadly snakes.) What can I say? I was a big bee geek at the time.

As I said, unlike those hilarious Family Channel TV movies, The Swarm was BIG. I'm not sure if we can comprehend the kind of flop this movie was. Oh wait, yes we can: Battlefield: Earth. This movie was the Battlefiel: Earth of the 70s. It is to movie geeks what a good wreck is to people who watch NASCAR.

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

Why is it so fun to watch the Easter Bunny die a horrible death by flesh devouring balls of fluff? I don't know. I just admitted to liking The Swarm. Things like this were the reason New Line Cinema was so great in the 80s and 90s. They will be missed.

Last but not least. Hands down favorite horror movie to watch on Easter...




That's right, a movie about giant killer bunnies. No words can describe how great this movie is.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes... The Killer Shrews... Orca... Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter... they got NOTHING on Night of the Lepus. Giant killer bunnies is where it's at.

Well, maybe Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.

Happy holidays.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wandering observations in UVA Book Store.

Had some time to kill today after class and found myself wandering around in UVA's bookstore. It was interesting to be there without the rushing and crowds, trying to get books for the coming semester. I probably would have noticed other interesting things, but I haven't had coffee in three days and am writing a long paper on torture in cinema. My brain was tuned to the weird. They didn't have a chance.

Observation 1. 
They have Black Hole by Charles Burns for $17-something. Sweet! I don't read comics (other than online) but if I did I'd probably be eating stuff like this and Sandman up. Next time I have 18 bucks to burn I might have to get it. David Fincher is going to direct the film version adapted by Gaiman and Arvary, and flipping through a few pages of the comic, I couldn't be happier. I think Fincher is really on a rebound right now (Zodiac may become my favorite thing by him) and this could be his next Fight Club. I just hope he goes all the way with its extremes. It would probably land him an NC-17 rating, but who cares? With the stuff that passes in for R these days and how A-OK it is to do ANYTHING in Unrated (including absolutely nothing) I find it ridiculous for people to still get up at arms about NC-17 rated films about peoples special bits. Hostel: Part 2 showed special bits... being cut off with gardening shears and fed to a hound, but that's okay, cause they were being cut off and fed to hounds. If there is one thing I've learned in the last few years from this fine state I love so very much, it is that people love the penis, just as long as it is not inside a woman. Penis in woman = bad. Penis in anything else... no problem! Wouldn't want the youth of America getting the wrong idea.

Oh wait....

Side note: I should blog about Lust Caution, but not now.

Observation 2. 
Geeks should not act elitist or otherwise snobbish while they have runny noses. It's just... no... don't do that. I'm not saying the kid was... I'm just saying.

Observation 3.
The bookstore also has Our Friends from Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick. Maybe I've just been away from new books too long, but the text for this seems really saturated. No, wait, I have plenty of brand new books. The font for this looks like every thing is bold. Did they use too much ink? Odd.

Observation 4.
Wandering into the clothing section of the book store (doesn't make sense to me either), I came across a strange discovery. UVA sells UVA thong underwear. Now, I'm a mature 22-year-old member of society (Hey! I heard that!) and I understand that thong under is commonly worn by women as a preference and not just to appeal to men for the sexy time. Hear me out. There is just something phenomenally wrong with placing the UVA V and crossed swords on a woman's crotch. It's almost as bad as naming a condom brand TROJANS. Maybe it was just Observation 1 still lingering in my head, but the image just screamed castration by scissor swords. Wah-hoo-wah INDEED!

Afterthought: Teeth 2 should totally be filmed on our campus.