Against the Grain

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Archive for the ‘idiocy’ Category

Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Posted by Patrick on 7 Dec 2007

I went to see the long-awaited “The Golden Compass” today, based on the first story of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman.  Before I try somewhat feebly to comment on how this movie played out socially and theologically for the uber-religious freaks that think all movies that mention God are evil in echelons of ways, I want to talk about the movie itself and how it relates to the book.

***SPOILER ALERT:  Below this line, I am giving away the movie in bits and pieces.  If you don’t want to read a spoiler for any reason whatsoever, you should stop reading this post here.  Thanks for visiting and have a splendid day.***

I knew from the outset of this movie that we’re looking at an episodic event, since the movie’s opening sequence features a cut in the world made by the subtle knife (from book 2).  It turned out that I was right, and that gave me a bit of a “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” shudder before 5 minutes had even passed.  I was disappointed, but I think it was tastefully done, and it helps to set the stage for the movie for people who’ve not read the story.  Dakota Blue Richards’ opening voiceover about the existence of other worlds as that sequence is playing does well to set the story, but if you’ve read the story you know that she doesn’t understand the “other worlds” concept and traveling between them until the second book; it gives her narration a bit of a retrospect — are we going to see something present-day at the end of the trilogy’s movies?  More on that later.

Despite the 1h54m runtime, I thought the anachronism in the movie (scenes extracted out of order from the book) made sense to me, though I felt penalized because I knew the story when events didn’t fire in my pre-set sequence.  An example of this is the first sequence with Lyra – they are playing and talking about the gobblers, and then she finds herself stuck in the retiring room coat closet.  This is the other way around in the book if I remember properly.  There are several other occurrences like this that are subtle, but they still play well with the story.

What I would have liked was to leave the witches’ liaison intact where Lyra uses the alethiometer to identify Serafina’s cloud-pine branch outside.  It made sense later, because the witches were flying without it in the big battle scene.  In the story, I thought this was a critical point.  It was unclear how Serafina and her clan were able to come to aid at Bolvangar – and overall I felt the roles of the witches were downplayed, probably on purpose to appease the anti-magical-people-in-fictitious-movies sect of organized western religions.

I want to say now that I detested the ending of the movie, but I understand why it is this way.  The second story is pretty short in movie terms, as it’s the shortest of the three stories in the trilogy.  But it certainly does lead us to believe that “The Subtle Knife” will be even more episodic than this movie was.  We are going to see the opening sequence of the second movie leading Lyra and Roger up to watch Roger die and everyone will step into another world for the first time.

Now, let’s discuss briefly the religious impact of this movie and why religious “experts” are crying out against it.

First, I have to say that I am not devoutly dedicated to any religion, but I am a Zen Buddhist of the Rinzai sect; my primary temple is in Kyoto as is the master to whom I pledged.  For you Protestants, think of it as the church where you first began to accept/practice your current denomination.

Now that the table’s set, let’s chat.  There is a lot of public outcry over this movie.  People say that this movie defies God (each word is a separate link).  People generally complain that this movie is written by an atheist, that they google the book and the results are controversial topics like “female castration”, that the movie is about kids who set out to kill God.

First of all, these people are idiots.  Maybe I shouldn’t say that — these people are f’ing idiots.  Yes, that’s better.  Ill-informed religious propaganda based on search results from Google, of all places, and based on the author’s personal religious views. People who say that this book movie is about kids who want to kill God, well, they are not only wrong, they are f’ing wrong.  If you want an accurate plot summary of the movie, go look at IMDb — not Google, not your church’s bulletin board, not your archdiocese email distribution list, and certainly not what your church-friend’s-friend’s-pastor’s-uncle is saying about it.

Secondly, Phillip Pullman didn’t write the screenplay, it was Chris Weitz.  Chris Weitz adapted the screenplay from the novel by Phillip Pullman.  Quick you freaks, go Google Chris Weitz and see if he’s an atheist that wants to kill God or write an anti-religion manifesto.  Go stand outside New Line Cinemas and see if you get drag Chris Weitz into the parking lot and throw holy water on him and flash aluminum foil crosses in his eyes so he might go blind.  Let me know how that works out.

Thirdly, Pullman’s book isn’t based on his own ideas (gasp! oh noes!1!!1), whether he may support the ideas or not is irrelevant.  For anyone who has actually read some literature in their lifetime and who has an average level of intelligence, it is more than obvious that Pullman’s stories are based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost.  His Dark Materials is based on it, and the actual term “His Dark Materials” is taken directly from it, as in the verse cut below:

Into this wild Abyss,
The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th’ Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds—
Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross.
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II

Next time you want to bash a movie because it doesn’t bode well from google, but the trailer looks good, and it’s rated PG-13, here’s a news flash – it’s probably a pretty good movie.  People are saying that it’s trying to promote atheism within children, which is of course a lie, but those people are the same ones who were on the “ban HP books in school libraries” bandwagon because it was about wizards and witches and wanted it replaced with C.S.Lewis’ books about wizards and witches.  I don’t buy your uninformed arguments; I choose to act of my own free will, I choose to let my opinions be formed by myself and not by those who seek to propagandize their discontent, I choose to believe what I feel is best rather than blindly obey out of sheer ignorance.  If you think that’s wrong, fine, but I don’t want to hear about it.

Summary

I thought the movie was slightly above mediocre; I’d give it 3 of 4 stars if I had to rate it.  The acting was ok, the locations were beautifully framed and the chosen scenery was great. The CG and other effects were very good.  The theme sung by Kate Bush at the end I thought was awful – it sounded more like a balladic jam session with a choir.

Dakota Blue Richards stole the show in this movie, but I really wanted to see her be afraid and act like she was actually overcoming something. Maybe we’ll see that in the next book.

Nicole Kidman was about as hot as she has ever been; I thought she played the role of Mrs. Coulter fairly well. But I really wanted to see some emotion out of her, and we didn’t get much except for the deceitful undertones we got from Mrs. Coulter in the story.

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Posted in culture, idiocy, movies, omfg, opinion, reading, sociology | Leave a Comment »

A REAL HP:DH leak thanks to Scholastic’s idiocy

Posted by Patrick on 16 Jul 2007

First of all, I’d like to say that I absolutely abhor the killjoy atmosphere which has, for nearly 8 months now, surrounded the release of this book and the much sought-after need to provide some kind of proof/evidence that a person has acquired the manuscript for what will be the best selling children’s book for the next few years to come.

Now that we have dispensed with the niceties, there is a leak in the plumbing, ladies and gentlemen.  Out in the bittorrent community there are some confirmed images capturing the first 500 or so pages of the coming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows story, due in stores and on doorsteps everywhere this Saturday.  Yours truly has acquired access to said photos, though I have not yet partaken in them, and I currently have not decided if I am going to attempt to read them or not.

I am going to take the title page and include it as a link from this post.  It’s as far as I’d let myself wander down the list of images before I stopped to consider it.

Of significant note, I did not create these images, and I do not know nor do I care who did. I’ll be thumbing my own copy of HP:DH when it arrives here Saturday morning (UPS runs around 9AM here). I also want to say that I’m not going to, at any time, publish screens of the story, especially before the book is released.

I’d say that we can thank our dear idiot friends at Scholastic for getting these books in the hands of booksellers early ~ sure they want to be sure that retailers have time to stock them and they certainly don’t want any stores to not have their titles for a midnight sale on Friday night. But folks, today’s Monday. They could ship these tomorrow and still be in good shape, let’s face it. I agree with another WP poster who claims “so much for heightened security”.

edit: there is a subsequent verified leak out in the community which contains the entire book, photographed as images

HP:DH title page

Posted in harry potter, idiocy, omfg | 6 Comments »

Men’s Euphemisms for Women

Posted by Patrick on 13 May 2007

If you’re a Laura Mallory or otherwise hypersensitive, mark-of-society woman with no sense of humor that can’t stand to be called anything other than your first name, then please have a nice day and continue on with your life without reading this post.

This is meant to be a fun post. I wish for men to participate and for women to contribute as well as be educated. What I want to take time compiling here are the absolute best nicknames, euphemisms, references, whatever that men use to refer to women and/or their favorite parts of women.

The euphemisms will be classified as such, and upon receiving the first reader submissions I will organize this post into this format:

1) Women in general, including full body/physique jargon
2) upper body including privates
3) lower body including privates
4) butts
5) feets
6) all others

I will be moderating comments and submissions on this post by disallowing standard comments and requiring the contact form at the bottom of this post in their place. My moderation rules are simple: you will receive credit for your submissions if accepted. This is meant to be humorous for men, so if it’s funny, great; if it’s practical, I’ll probably still take it; if it’s neither, chances are slim. In all submissions, you may not defame women or a specific person. Do not send me something which implies violence. You may be crass, you may be off-color (but not obscene), you may be rude if it is funny (to me) — if you think it’s questionable, try me. In the case of all submissions, I will personally decide which ones are posted. If you try to spam me because I rejected your post, I will block your IP address foevah evah and have a nice day.

Posted in educational, hotties, humor, idiocy, opinion, random, women, wtf | Leave a Comment »

Pizza Joint Accepts Pesos, Gets Hate Mail

Posted by Patrick on 11 Jan 2007

Before I begin to go on about this story, let me first say that I do not advocate illegal immigration, nor do I believe that illegal immigration is just some small problem that the US can avoid doing something about for a few decades. In this post, I will merely be explaining how I feel about those people who respond so negatively to a business that is trying to expand its customer base by offering to accept a foreign currency. With that said, please read.

The AP’s Jeff Carlton in Dallas has written an article I saw on comcast.net saying that a Texas-based pizza chain has been receiving lots of hate mail and death threats for offering to accept Mexican Pesos.

The chain is called Pizza Patrón and advertises itself as “truly serving Latino communities”. There are 59 stores in mostly border states, but also in Nevada and Colorado (3 in the greater Denver area). Because the stores posted signs this week saying “Aceptamos pesos” (“we accept pesos”), it seems like the whole illegal immigration hotbutton issue is not only getting out of hand, but getting focused like a magnifying glass in the sun right on this company. Does that sound appropriate, when there are loads of businesses along the north and south borders accepting Canadollars and Mexipesos every day, that we focus such a negative beam on this company who is trying to better accommodate their largely Latino customer base?

I go into Asia to draw a comparison, namely to Japan. For the six+ years I lived in Japan, I never once was refused if I was out of Yen and tried to pay with US dollars; rather, the entrepreneurs in that country were stoked to get a look at the “new” bills we introduced a few years ago (though some shop owners who were generally uninformed thought they were fake, in which case Mr. Visa had to pay). What’s more, the businesses who were accepting my US dollars were turning a profit on the conversion. For example, if the conversion rate was 120yen=1dollar, I’d get a rate of 110yen=1dollar when I had to pay for stuff that cost Yen.

Even though I live in Denver, where the topic of illegal immigration is an immensely sensitive issue and a constantly growing concern; even though there are more illegal immigrants living in Denver than there are legal ones; even though illegal immigrants in Denver account for nearly 10% of its total population, I don’t get upset about this — I can’t be consumed by a topic like a business which caters to Latinos deciding that they will test the waters and accept pesos for a month.

First of all, I’m not Latino, and even if I was, whatever job I was holding down in this country, where I was here legally or not, wouldn’t be paying me in pesos. Secondly, if I was in the US toting a wad of pesos, I probably haven’t been here for more than my allowed 90 days, and chances are that I would have exchanged most of my pesos into US dollars if I was coming into this country to stay — the point being that if I am an illegal immigrant, about the only thing I can buy with pesos around here is a pizza, so I don’t need them. Lastly, it’s the mark of an idiot to be critical of a business for trying to succeed; if you don’t like their policies, just don’t go there.

editors aside feel free to comment, but hatemail will be deleted. You are free to express yourself, but in my blog, you will be censored if you are out of line. And I alone define what “out of line” means.

Posted in Denver, idiocy, News Items | Leave a Comment »

Barbaro Needs Foot Transplant — Seeking Donor

Posted by Patrick on 10 Jan 2007

KENNETT SQUARE, PA. — Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro has suffered a significant setback in his recovery from laminitis in his left hind foot, and owner Gretchen Jackson is desperately soliciting breeders, trainers and veterinary sources for a replacement foot, a source close to the horse said late Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because the source is not allowed to speak to the media.

Barbaro’s chief surgeon Dean Richardson explained to the horse’s owners that a foot transplant or prosthesis will significantly increase Barbaro’s recovery time as well as his ability to “perform” his expected stud duties once his recovery is complete. The transplant would be the first of its kind performed on a horse suffering from laminitis. This statement comes only a week after the horse’s cast was replaced in attempt to realign the bone for healing.

Because Barbaro is still young, and his natural foot will continue to grow towards its full, adult size as he ages, Richardson said that he is unsure how a replacement foot will fair, but that he’s confident in a series of prosthetic replacement feet, which would be developed by Orthotic Prosthetic Associates, Inc.. The prosthetic hooves would be the first of their kind, and would be custom-fit to Barbaro’s proportions and weight to provide maximum range of movement, load bearing ability, and comfort.

In either scenario, Dr. Richardson expressed enthusiasm for the procedure; evidently it’s going to be expensive and he’ll get a fat check from the Jacksons for the attempt regardless of the outcome.

no, not really

Posted in idiocy, News Items, random, sports | Leave a Comment »

NHK “Topless” New Year’s performance

Posted by Patrick on 1 Jan 2007

You may have heard about this in one of the larger US cities since they have larger Japanese populations. I happened to be watching the show when it was on (NHK’s new years Kohaku) and I was also fooled until the very end of the song. The body suits the girls were wearing were perfectly matched to their skin color, and it was very hard to tell that they weren’t real except that the boobs you “saw” were, on average, larger than the average Japanese lady. At the very end of this song, I saw some shirt wrinkles in one of the dancers, so that is how I figured out it was fake.

Not only did I think the song was inappropriate for NHK (the equiv. of PBS in the US) being something like “I wanna bang you every day how about right now?”, but this act was way out of line. I doubt DJ OZMA will be invited back next year.

CNN wrote up a short article about it as well.

I found this video of the performance on YouTube

Posted in idiocy, News Items, 日本語 | Leave a Comment »

Miss Nevada did what?

Posted by Patrick on 22 Dec 2006

I heard on the news while I was snowed in that Miss Nevada had been stripped of her title. At first I thought she probably got stripped of her title because of some old prude who wanted to get the Donald’s attention and it was likely over some minor detail. Then, I saw why she lost her title over at tmz.

Here’s a link to their set of photos detailing Miss Nevada’s downfall. Warning: if you are a prude, don’t look. And don’t tell me about how you got offended by the photos, because that makes you a prude.

How do I get these girls at my parties?

Posted in idiocy, News Items | Leave a Comment »

Ossifer, I’z Done Bought Me Some Bad Crack

Posted by Patrick on 19 Dec 2006

It was in yesterday’s news that a lady in Hawthorne, FL (between Gainsville and Palatka, if that matters) walked up to a police officer at a convenience store and told him that someone had sold her some “bad crack” made of cocaine and wax. Hard to believe? It gets better. Then the lady took the rock out of her mouth, put it on the police car and asked the officer to inspect it. When the officer tested it for cocaine, and it was positive, the lady was arrested for possession.

Ok. I’ve had my share of *duh* moments, but can I just state the obvious about how stupid this lady is for a minute? What do you think she was trying to accomplish, because there’s only 3 possibilities if you ask me:
1) the lady was trying to get a night in jail to get off the streets because she was tired of pawning wizard sleeve
2) she wanted to get the guy arrested for selling imitation crack
3) she was going to try to get the cop to help her get her money back, so she could buy some “good” crack.

What’s your vote?

Posted in idiocy, News Items | Leave a Comment »

Jesus Freak Wants Harry Potter Out of School Libraries

Posted by Patrick on 18 Dec 2006

Wow. I thought I was going to lose my mind when I heard about this crazy Jesus freak down in Loganville, Georgia (a little northeast of Atlanta on the way to Athens, in Gwinnett County). Being that I am from Georgia myself, I have no problem calling this lady stupid and I may just bestow the Dumbass of the Year award upon her — this may come as a shock that I would shift the award’s recipient so close to the end of the year, but the cake, as they say, has been taken by this one.

So, what would get me so worked up on this one? The lady is represending a group of “concerned parents” who have been reading up on the messages of these books from “a variety of Christian message boards and Harry Potter fan sites”. So, let’s stop the train right there. Have any of these parents actually read any of the books? Likely not if they are so adamantly opposed to them. Doesn’t everyone in the current generation know that fansites are typically out of hand and detached completely from the actual things they represent? Obviously not if you’re from Podunk, GA where the main concern is how a work of obvious fiction has a chance to shape the minds of children and actually expose them to what a well-written, creative story should be like.

If these parents are so concerned that their children will be warped into some demon, here’s a news flash — take away all of your children’s personal freedom and don’t let them read the books. In fact, why don’t you just home school your kids so you can warp their mind in a different way instead of them understanding the world and letting them choose whatever you are trying to teach them. This stupid bitch said “they’re really very long and I have four kids…I don’t have to read an entire pornographic magazine to know it’s obscene” in reference to these books in justifying why she hadn’t read them herself. She wants the series to be replaced with “Left Behind” books. I wonder if she’s read those? Not only are they just as long as HP books, there’s more of them!

So, she had her chance to present the case to the county school board back in April. And she did. And on the 15th of this month, the school board ruled that the books were allowed to stay. The Gwinnett Daily Post quoted, “school district officials countered that the books have increased interest in reading among students and contain wholesome themes, including the triumph of good over evil and the power of a mother’s love. They said banning works of fiction with references to witchcraft would force schools to empty their shelves of such classics as ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the popular ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series.” To that I say, yes, the school board is right about something (for once).

The lady is considering appealing to the state board of education because she was a gripewench saying that she didn’t get to call “expert witnesses”, who I’m sure were either self-ordained bible-thumping pastors or brainwashed kids who were supposed to say the books scared them or they’d be upsetting Jesus himself. No professional psychologist or literary expert is going to say that JK Rowling’s masterpieces are any more influential than other book serieses with similar themes, unless they, too, are a self-ordained bible-thumping pastor.

I wish this lady would contact a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist priest. Why, you say? Well, let’s just say that I’m sure this lady would do no such thing since she’s clearly a strong Southern Baptist and probably even in the choir. Since none of those three faiths believe that Jesus was anything more than a minor saint, though all concur that he lived, I’m sure she would think having a religious discussion with either of those three would be just as blasphemous as her kid reading an HP book. Kind of like she needs to take a spoonful of her own medicine, honestly.

Lady, I have made up my mind. After hearing you say that HP books promote Wicca and that they violate the First Amendment because their presence in schools equates to a state-sponsored religious advocacy (if that isn’t reaching for straws); after hearing you say that there’s a reason it’s the most challenged book series in this country, when in fact it’s the most challenged book series in the entire world because it’s 1) a wonderful story, 2) something that kids actually like and 3) their Jesus freak parents don’t take time to appreciate; after hearing you say that you’d rather replace the books with “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, which also promotes witchcraft and sacrifice and is themed similarly to HP (did you not read these books as a kid, or even watch the movie?); yes, at the end of all these things, I have decided that you are much more deserving of the DotY award.

Mrs. Laura Mallory of Loganville, Georgia, it is my honor to bestow upon you the third annual Dumbass of the Year award, and with it all the ridicule that your tiny little closed-off Jesus-freak mind can bear, plus one. Stupefy!!!!

Patrick edit: 27Dec2006. It seems that The Washington Post agrees with me!

Posted in harry potter, idiocy, News Items | 2 Comments »