Advertisement Gone Wrong.

Recently, (As recent as a few minutes ago.) I happened upon a news article about a hair product in Turkey. While I’m not too inclined to care one way or the other about this hair product vs. that hair product or their commercials, this particular commercial gave me pause to think; and so I find myself writing this blog.  The Turkish shampoo commercial in question features video of Adolf Hitler declaring the shampoo product to be for “real men”. Understandably, the commercial’s had quite a few complaints from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a few others who feel that the commercial is deeply, deeply offensive.

“We follow with sadness and regret the use of Hitler figure in the Biomen Men Shampoo advertisement, which was brought to the screen in recent days,” says the the Turkish Jewish Community.  “It’s totally unacceptable to make use of Hitler, the most striking example of cruelty and savagery. … Using him in an advertisement for whatever reason is an unacceptable situation and could not be accepted by us at all. This is beyond all ethics as well as a huge insult to human rights.”

In the shampoo ad “Biomen,” uses archived stock footage of former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. He is heard yelling and gesturing wildly with his hands, while a fictional and unrelated text above reads:

“If you are not wearing a woman’s dress, you should not use her shampoo either,” Hitler says in the ad. “Here it is, a real mens’ shampoo, Biomen.”  The video is then seen to cut to a picture of the shampoo bottle with the on-screen message, “Real men use Biomen.”

ADL National Director, and Holocaust survivor Abraham H. Foxman called the advertisement “disgusting” in astatement released by the group.

“The use of images of the violently anti-Semitic dictator who was responsible for the mass murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy,” Foxman said. “It is an insult to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, those who survived, and those who fought to defeat the Nazis.”

I’ve seen many posts in response to the commercial and I have to say that some of them left me utterly confused as to how people could be so apathetic and uncaring as far as how this commercial can effect people.
How would you feel if instead of Adolf Hitler in the ad, it was Kony, Torquemada, Idi Amin, Ayatollah Khomeini , Pol Pot, Josef Stalin or some other evil excuse for a human being whose image, likeness, and voice were being used? For the Christians out there.. how would you feel if the worlds largest(well-known)satanist’s image, likeness, and voice was being used to push this product? I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t like it.
All it manages to do is celebrate their atrocities, and act as a very real slap in the face for those who have suffered and or survived the horrors brought about by any of those names I listed.
It may have happened 70+ years ago and what Hitler says may be in the German language, which not everyone understands or speaks, and there may be subtitles which say something completely unrelated and different from what his actual words were, but none of that changes the fact that using such a person and their voice/words, such a physical embodiment of the darkness and evil that mankind is capable of to push your hair care product is wrong and morally reprehensible.

In the event that you haven’t seen the commercial, here it is. Feel free to let me know what you think.

A Different Sort Of Game

It’s recently come to my attention that there are quite a few folk out there who are fans of or have seen the movie ‘Battle Royal’ and have recently come to the conclusion that ‘The Hunger Games’ is a version or adaptation of ‘Battle Royale’. Some individuals have even gone so far as to say such things as, and I quote: “So what’s up with this hunger games craze? I don’t see what it can possibly give me that “battle royale” “the lethal lottery” and “running man haven’t already.” Well, while ‘Battle Royale’ and the ‘Running Man’ are good movies with similarities even to ‘The Hunger Games’, they are in no way the same and as thus in no way offer the exact same things. And believe me, I’m the first to yell out “hasn’t this been done before?”

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to enlighten or rather… impress upon those who think as such, just how wrong they are. So, here’s the…nitty gritty if you will.

The Running Man– The story’s protagonist, Ben Richards, is a citizen of Co-Op City, a suburb of the fictional Harding, which is located somewhere in the Midwest, west of Detroit (not to be confused with the real Co-Op City) in the year 2025. The world’s economy is in a shambles and America has become a totalitarian dystopia. Richards is unable to find work, having been blacklisted from his trade, and needs money to get medicine for his gravely ill daughter Cathy. His wife Sheila has resorted to prostitution to bring in money for the family. In desperation, Richards turns to the Games Network, a government-operated television station that runs violent game-shows. After rigorous physical and mental testing, Richards is selected to appear on The Running Man, the Games Network’s most popular, lucrative, and dangerous program. Richards meets with Network producer Dan Killian and Running Man host Bobby Thompson. The men proceed to discuss Richards’ contract for appearing on the show, as well as the challenges he is expected to face when the game starts.

Battle RoyaleShuya Nanahara is a Japanese middle school student trying to cope with life after his father’s suicide by hanging. Meanwhile, Noriko Nakagawa, finds her class, 3-B, empty with only her teacher Kitano present in the classroom. Kitano leaves but is attacked by student Yoshitoki Kuninobu with a knife. Kitano later resigns after recovering from his wound. One year later, class 3-B makes a field trip after completing their compulsory studies; however, the class is gassed and summoned to a “briefing room” on a remote island after being gassed, wearing electronic collars. Kitano explains that the class has been chosen to participate in this year’s Battle Royale as a result of the BR Act, which passed after 800,000 students walked out of school. The orientation video has the class forced to kill each other for three days until only one student remains.

The Hunger Games– The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or “tributes”) must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains.

There you can see that all three films, while having a vaguely similar theme of people set in a game of life and death, they are in no way the same movie. Each film offers up something completely different. In ‘The Running Man’, the main character places himself in that situation rather than face jail time. In ‘Battle Royale’ none of the combatants has a choice in fighting. And in ‘The Hunger Games’, everyone who’s not a citizen of the capital has to enter their names in a lottery of sorts in order to receive rations for their families. Of course the more times your name’s entered, the more likely you are to be chosen as “tribute” of your district.

If you’ve managed to see past vague similarities and other folks opinions of the film or book, then by all means, do check out the film. Give it a chance. If nothing else, the story (the theatrical version) was quite well done. The acting was superb, and the effects were quite nice. Not over the top and not underwhelming, just nice.

A Few Films To Look Forward To…

Those who know me know that I tend to go to the movies a lot. One of my favorite things about going to the theatre; other than seeing the film I’d planned on seeing, is the previews. If not for the previews, there are a great many films I might have possibly missed out on. So, I have decided to take this time to provide you good folk out there who may have possibly missed out on some things coming soon and or not soo soon with a heads up if you will. Here are a few tidbits of news  about what’s to be expected on the big screen.

Enjoy the trailers:

 

The Cabin In The Woods – April 13th

Just upon hearing the name, I’m sure your imagination starts to conjure up the image of your typical slasher flick. Take a few nubile youths, put them in a cabin in the middle of the woods, add a wrong turn here, stupid thing said there, and mistake here, and throw in one slash-happy psycho with a larger than life knife, chainsaw, ax or what have you and there you have it. Right?  That would be the usual recipe for a movie with a title like ‘The Cabin In The Woods’, but with a tagline like “You think you know the story”… one can’t help but be somewhat dissuaded from thinking they know enough to brand this as just another cabin-slasher flick.

The Avengers – May 4th

Now, I’m sure just about anyone who’s seen a movie preview in the last while knows that there’s an Avengers movie coming out in the next few months, but in the event that you were unaware of this.. now you know. For anyone unfamiliar with Marvel Comics or The Avengers, this film has Thor, Cpt. America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and of course Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as they are pitted against Loki (Thor’s adopted brother) and an enemy that I’m not all too sure about. It could be anyone from A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) to Zodiac, though let’s face it.. it’s not likely to be Zodiac. It’d be more likely to be Hydra or even Ultron. Anyway, you may or may not have seen one of the latest previews for the coming film, but in case you haven’t seen the awesomeness that is this particular trailer, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Spider-Man – July 3rd

I’m far from the biggest fan of Spidey, be it in comic book form, cartoon form, action figure form, or video game form, but I can’t help but have some interest in the character. Nerdy geek ends up being imbued with super-human abilities like agility, super strength, the ability to know danger’s near, and of course the web slinging and clinging to any surface he wants to (All which comes along with an upgrade from dweeb to pretty cute guy, it seems.), but they’ve gone and changed ol’ Spidey up it seems. He’s got a new face and a new suit. He even comes with a new villain. I won’t get my hopes up for this one, but I could be wrong and this film could blow every other Spider Man film clear out of the water.

In place of writing more and more about this movie, that movie, and the other, I’ve decided to show you good people the Super Bowl movie commercials. (Alright, I know it’s a cop-out and I’m fine with that.) If you’ve seen them, here they are again. If you’ve missed them.. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. (Excluding the Avengers trailer; as it’s already on here.)

The Hunger Games

G I Joe: Retaliation

John Carter (Extended Super Bowl movie trailer)

The Dictator

Act of Valor

Battleship

The Lorax

 

 

Water World

Now, if you’ve just seen the title of this post, you might be thinking it was concerning the film “Water World” starring Kevin Costner, but that isn’t the case here. If you’re into astronomy then this post is certainly for you.

Scientists have apparently discovered a new type of planet — a steamy water-world if you will, that is larger than the planet Earth but smaller than Uranus. … that’s right, get your laughs in while you can.

The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet or extrasolar planet is called GJ 1214b, which was first discovered by astronomers in December of 09. New observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope suggest that GJ 1214b is a watery world blanketed by a thick, steam-like atmosphere. “GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of,” study lead author Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”

To date, astronomers have discovered more than approximately 700 planets beyond our own solar system, with about 2,300 more planet “candidates” awaiting confirmation. These planets are incredibly diverse. Astronomers have found one planet to be as light and airy as Styrofoam, and another as dense as iron for example. They’ve discovered several worlds that orbit two suns, reminiscent of something right out of science fiction movies.

GJ 1214b though, which is located 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), is “something new altogether”, said researchers. This super-earth of a planet is about 2.7 x Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much. It orbits a red-dwarf star at a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometres), giving it an estimated surface temperature of about 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius), certainly too hot to sustain life, as we know it at least.

Scientists first reported in 2010 that GJ 1214b’s atmosphere is likely composed primarily of water, but their findings were not definitive. Berta and his team used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to help dispel any of their doubts. Hubble watched as GJ 1214b crossed in front of its host star, and the scientists were able to determine the composition of the planet’s atmosphere based on how it filtered the starlight. “We’re using Hubble to measure the infrared color of sunset on this world,” Berta said. “The Hubble measurements really tip the balance in favor of a steamy atmosphere.” Berta and his colleagues’ results are reported online in the Astrophysical Journal.

Since astronomers know GJ 1241b’s mass and size, they’re able to calculate its density, which turns out to be just 2 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc). Earth’s density is 5.5 g/cc, while that of water is 1 g/cc.GJ 1214b thus appears to have much more water than Earth does, and much less rock. The alien planet’s interior structure is likely quite different from that of our world. “The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like ‘hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water,’ substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience,” Berta said.

GJ 1214b probably formed farther out from its star, where water ice was plentiful, and then migrated in to its current location long ago. In the process, it would have experienced more Earth-like temperatures, but how long this benign phase lasted is unknown, researchers said. Being that GJ 1214b is so close to us, it’s logically a prime candidate for study in the near or not so near future. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is supposed to launch some time in 2018, may be able to get an even better look at the planet’s atmosphere, according to researchers.

 

Great Wizards Who Aren’t So Great…

There’s no doubt that with the successes of books and films like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings, wizards, witches and magical users in general are more familiar to readers of fantasy books than ever before. Being the geek that I am, now and again, the question of who might be the best, most powerful or prominent in these expansive worlds of fantasy tends to arise. That being the case, I have taken it upon myself to lay to rest that very question(In a manor that is as unbiased as is possible of me.), the question of who is the best wizard, witch, or all around magical user in general in all of the world of fantasy literature and film. I have combed through film, literature, and comic books to compile a list of individuals (In no particular order.) whose skill with the arcane arts exceeds the realms of awesome.

 

Merlin the Magician (TV’s Merlin)

This incarnation of Merlin has him as a young man who is the best friend/servant of prince-turned-king Arthur of  magic hating Camelot. Along with being a servant, he assists the court physician, Gaius in some of his duties. Merlin’s role is to along side Arthur, reunite all of the five kingdoms under the rule of Arthur and bring peace between the old religion and the new religion.

The case against him:

Though an actual historical figure.. of some sort, I’m choosing to stick to legend here. According to legend, Merlin was half human half demon, granting him the ability to wield magic and to a great extent. He’s even seen as one of the most powerful, if not thee most powerful sorcerer/wizard to have ever lived(Or not lived as the case may have it.) It is said that he had the power of prophecy, to peer into the past and future, shape-shift, the ability to speak to wild animals, to fly, the ability to conjure realistic and terrifying illusions and much much more

For being such a vastly powerful individual with knowledge of things past and things yet to come, you would think it would be a cinch to help a guy who’s already a king to unite 5 measly countries/kingdoms under one banner. Of course, in this case, you would be wrong. Most of his time is spent saving either Camelot or Arthur from facing one horrid end after another; whether it’s from an army of undieing soldiers, the usurped and tyrannical reign of Arthur’s illegitimate half-sister Morgana, or all the other people shunned, persecuted or worse due to their practice of the old religion(magic). Doing that’s a full time job in of itself, especially when the great and powerful Merlin the sorcerer is really the not soo great and not soo powerful Merlin the servant boy.

 

Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)

Dumbledore is the headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and among the most powerful and gifted wizards in the Potterverse. He’s a kindly old man who brings to mind Santa.. if he wore long robes.  Behind those caring eyes lurks a man who can turn invisible, create objects out of thin air, read minds, shoot fire, disappearte, encase you in a sphere of water, use magic without a wand or without speech (Something not everyone in the Potterverse is capable of), and to read minds (To say the very least.) He’s pretty much the Potterverse’s equivalent of Merlin.

The case against him:
I’m sure that fans of the Harry Potter series have uttered the phrase “Where the hell is Dumbledore?”  during all the action. He seems to  conveniently find himself being away on business whenever Harry and friends are in imminent danger, have riddles with steaks of life and death to figure out, or single-handedly fight a basilisk, a giant troll, an army of spiders (Ranging from small to damn that’s big!!).

Consider if you will, Prisoner of Azkaban, where in order to save a dear friend he casually advises Hermione to use the “Time Turner” device, which lets you effortlessly go back in time and change any thing you want. The question of course is why the hell didn’t Dumbledore himself go back in time and just kill Voldemort when he was killing Harry’s parents??? He could have stopped it all from happening.. the rise to power of the wizarding world’s equivalent of the anti-christ, the death of Harry’s mother and father. So much death and bloodshed could have been avoided. Most of all, that mix of Freddy Krueger and the Avon lady who calls herself the Undersecretary of the Minister of Magic would never have had to set foot in Hogwarts. For a man who’s packing soo much power, Dumbledore surely left his A-game back at home. Hell, he couldn’t even stop himself from dieing. The kicker of course being that he knew it would happen.

 

Gandalf the White (Lord of the Rings)

Batting for the good guys of Middle-earth, Gandalf the White, formerly known as Gandalf the Grey. One of the few non-mortal sorcerers/wizards on this list, Gandalf is Maiar; a lower and less powerful form of Valar. Basically they’re all spirits, ascended beings… if you will. Gandalf is among the wisest of his people. In the Lord of the Rings series, he takes mortal form to better aid in his helping the people of Middle-earth stand against the evils of Sauron, the dark lord of Mordor. He’s an individual of great magical skill and prowess. He has the ability to create a concussive blast strong enough to knock back a whole host of enemies and kill them by simply stamping his staff to the ground. On one occasion he’s been known to go toe to toe with a Balrog.. an ancient, evil, and huge being of fire. As well as create concussive blasts, Gandalf is able to shield himself from all manor of attack, be it magical or physical. If Dumbledore is the Potterverse’s equivalent of Merlin, then surely Gandalf is such for Lord of the Rings.

The case against him:

According to the books, Gandalf is a being of extraordinary magical prowess and if that’s not enough, he’s immortal.  He also has the ability to  disappear at will, is impervious to permanent injury, can conjure and control fire, can make lightning strike down on you, has limitless knowledge of spells, potions, and sorcery. It’s almost fair to say that he has no equal.

In the films, however, we see him mostly speaking ominously whenever a Hobbit does something they know they shouldn’t be doing, and shooting light from his staff to drive back Orcs and Ring Wraiths alike. As if out of nowhere, warning, he’ll do something amazing, like fight a Balrog all on his own. The Balrog being something out of the league of all the other groups members combined.

Being that the fate of all of Middle-earth is in the balance, it seems confusing that he would limit himself to a few light shows and sword play.. no matter how much butt he may kick with a sword. In all fairness, I actually know the reason behind that, but it doesn’t stop me from being miffed when I see the film. Pick up your staff and shoot some fireballs once in a while, let some lightning hit a few Orcs or Wraiths and see if they don’t leave you alone for a bit.

 

The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull (He-Man)

The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull is known as the most powerful magic-wielder in all of Eternia (The world in which she resides.).  She’s known to be able to look into both the past and the future, teleport herself and others across great distances, create life, project images, create magical shields, the ability to fly and shape-shift as well as other things. She is most noted for granting prince Adam the powers to become He-Man, the mightiest hero of Eternia and sworn enemy of Skeletor.

The case against her:

Despite being a being of tremendous mystical abilities and knowledge, the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull employs others to do what she could easily accomplish herself. The vast strength and power that He-Man possesses are basically given to him from her, through Castle Grayskull, which would mean that she has the strength and might to do what needs to be done. Somehow she allowed herself to be captured by Skeletor (In the film Masters of the Universe. ). I fail to see how such a thing could happen, being that she is as I have stated, the most magic-wielder in all of Eternia. Skeletor, though not originally from Eternia is still an inhabitant of the planet, technically making the Sorceress his superior.. magically speaking. I just fail to see how with the powers of Castle Grayskull and her own magical powers combined, she fails to do what He-Man who has only the powers of Grayskull can do and on a daily basis.

 

Skeletor (He-Man

Skeletor is the main rival and enemy of He-Man’s in the Masters of the Universe TV show, comics and films. Basically, Skeletor is a non Eternian native with aspirations of gaining power at any means necessary. Once a man with an actual face, he’s now devoid of all facial tissue, due to an incident involving  battle against “Captain Randor” and a deflected vile of acid in the face. He is a highly-skilled sorcerer who wields one half of the “Power Sword.” He-Man has the other half, and whoever unites the two would become.. the master of the universe. (See, I got the title of the show in there.)

The case against him:

Though he manages now and again to capture He-Man in one way or another, time and time again, He-Man manages to slip through his grasp. Most of their battles end in He-Man tricking Skeletor or just all together overpowering him. Even while dueling with their swords of power, He-Man would manage to cut a rope here or there that would drop a chandelier or something on top of Skeletor, leaving him cursing He-Man and vowing revenge. As accomplished and skilled a sorcerer as he’s supposed to be, one would think he would have managed to have finished He-Man off by now. With all of the wonderful evil at his disposal, he hasn’t even managed to put much of a dent in He-Man. What’s more is that though they do clash mano a mano or in this case mano a skullo from time to time, most of the fighting is done between his subordinates and He-Man & friends. Not only does he fail to bring home the bacon on his own, but with the help of his subordinates as well; one of which is a magic user like him. So, that’s two magic users. Not to mention the fact that He-Man is secretly the less than fearsome prince Adam of Eternia. For all his might and magic, Skeletor can’t defeat a little boy.

All of these sorcerers and the Sorceress are purely awesome, but their awesomeness can’t help but be overshadowed by their sheer lack thereof. For all of their great deeds and feats, their failures and inadequacies hang around their necks like an albatross; a big giant albatross.

Thanks to Google.com for all the pictures & images I use in my blog posts.

Equal Rights = Right.

Marriage (or wedlock) has been defined as a social union or legal contract between people creating a kinship. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but is usually seen as an institution in which interpersonal relationships, (intimate and sexual) are acknowledged. Such a union may also be called matrimony.

Washington state lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage Wednesday 2/8/2012, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed. This action of course coming a day after a federal appeals court declared California’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

The bill passed on a 55-43 vote in the Washington House. Supporters of the bill’s passing viewing from the public viewing galleries and stood cheering as many on the Democratic side of the House floor hugged after the vote. Gov. Gregoire watched the vote in the wings with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, who is a gay politician and who has sponsored gay rights legislation for years. Murray said the vote marked “a day that will be remembered in the history of this state.”

Gov. Gregoire also issued a statement saying it was: “a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has also sponsored gay rights bills for several years, said that he and his partner have been grateful for the rights that they have under the state’s existing domestic partnership laws but such protections are “a pale and inadequate substitute for marriage.”

During the remarks on the House floor, Pedersen read from the  the San Francisco-based 9thUnited States Courts of Appeals ruling, citing a section that stated “marriage is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.”

As a side-note, those who disagree with same sex marriage because of religious reasons should know that  homosexuality as well as the institution of marriage predates most if not all practiced organized religion and therefore doesn’t necessarily fall under the purview of  religion or religious belief.

Surprisingly enough, there seems to be a schism (the size of which is unsure.) even amongst some in the gay community when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage. I came across this quote earlier today on Facebook and I can say with utmost honesty that it is what prompted me to do this post. Keep in mind the post was written by a gay male and honesty wasn’t coming from a place of hatred or anger. : “When it comes to gay rights and politics i don’t care to get involved with the outcome or drama. The majority of people who vote are straight… Therefore, I just try and set a good example for them to want to vote for the rights we think we deserve. I wish people would see that marriage is for heterosexuals. If we want to feel “normal” by getting married we need to prove to the majority of voters that we can be respectful when it comes to the union of two people.”

Representative Maureen Walsh Remarks on ESSB 6239

Now while setting a “good example” is all good and fine, one should not have to set a “good example” in order to prove to anyone that they deserve something that is considered a basic human right. I shouldn’t have to prove that I deserve the right to marry any more than I should have to prove that I deserve the right to use the same bathroom that a white/caucasian person uses, or the right to vote, or be a land owner….if I have the money to own land.

The best response to the aforementioned post came not too long after I myself responded to the post. The responder had this to say: “Gay people shouldn’t have to perform for heterosexuals to attain equality, nor should bigotry be permitted as a “normal” state of affairs. Most people who oppose gay marriage in the U.S. do so out of hatred and fear. It isn’t our respectfulness that anyone should be worried about–it’s theirs.” All I could say in return was “Well said.”

As a  responses to the above comment on the post I quoted, the poster had this to say: ” I’m not saying we need to conform to heterosexuals. I’m saying that the majority of voters are straight and would more likely vote gay rights if we gave them better reasons to do so. We need to set a good example and be respectful so that we can be treated equally.”

Once again the sound of needing to appease a majority in order to get something deserved by all people can be heard. While I do not agree on any level with that individual’s point of view, I do respect their opinion.

Regardless of the thoughts or opinions of those against same sex union in marriage, it is a right and as such, I feel that one day it will be universally accepted as such. Human rights applies to all humans, regardless of their ethnicity, faith, political affiliation, or sexual preference. If I want to marry a man, I’m going to marry a man.

If Homer J. Simpson (Seen in my featured image for this post.) can understand that marriage is not bound by gender, what’s your excuse?

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D

Moviegoers should prepare for a blast from the past as “Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace” opened not but a few hours ago here in Washington State. The May 22nd, 1999 release is back in theaters, and it’s in 3D; which should give fans more reason to check it out.

Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic  visual effects supervisor John Knoll says the new dimension makes the film more immersive. And he couldn’t be any more right, though this is coming from me as a fan of the overall Star Wars franchise.

“The extra dimension makes the audience feel like they are more present in the Star Wars universe. I wanted to make sure that we were not turning this into a gimmick. It’s something that should feel natural and not cause eye-strain or cheapen the product so I was not looking for places to poke stuff out of the camera. I went for naturalistic stereo as though the movie had actually been shot in stereo. I think the film looks better than it ever looked before,” he says in a press release.

“As someone who prefers watching movies without having to keep adjusting 3D glasses, I wasn’t too keen on 136 minutes in the theater. I also wasn’t too sure if the 3D would make that big a difference—as far as I could remember, there was a lot of talk in “Episode I.”

In George Lucas’ highly anticipated installment, Anakin Skywalker’s epic story begins when he is discovered on Tatooine, a desert planet where Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi make an emergency landing. They just rescued Queen Amidala from Naboo, which has been blockaded by the Trade Federation army after Naboo opposed the Galactic Republic’s taxation on trade routes.

As the first of a three-part prequel to the well-loved original trilogy, “Episode I” was regarded with  mixed reactions when it came out 16 years after the last of  the original series. Some “Star Wars” fans were disappointed by the film, perhaps due to the overwhelming expectations based on the success of the original three. Movie review website Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 60 percent rating, saying that plot and character development is lacking. On the other hand, it says there’s plenty of eye candy to behold.

When I prepared to don my not soo comfortable 3D specs, I couldn’t help but wonder what all I could expect from 3D for this film. Many films seem to bombard the viewers with 3D, regardless of whether the scene calls for it or not. That was however not the case here. I was surprised with how subtle some of the 3D seemed. It wasn’t smack dab in my face, but I couldn’t help but feel like a part of the experience none the less. As I watched on in enjoyment, three scenes in particular caught my attention in regards to the addition of 3D(And I’m aware that I say 3D an aweful lot in this blog post.. mostly in this paragraph.) The first was the podracer scene with young Anakin Skywalker. I couldn’t have enjoyed watching that part more if it had been my first time seeing it. Despite the fact that I knew otherwise, I felt like his podracer could just leap off the screen and into the very theatre.

Another scene worth mentioning was the duel between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan-Kenobi, and Qui-Gon-Jin. As soon as the doors in the Naboo fighter hanger open to reveal Maul, I couldn’t help but be excited. Thankfully, that excitement was justified. Whether due to the 3D effects or just cleaning things up, there was a far crisper feel to the look of the three as they fought.

The last was the scene of the space battle. I’ve seen some awesome films in 3D before, but this is officially one of my favorite 3D scenes now. If you’ve seen Episode I before then you know that the space battle scene is pretty good. 3D simply makes it…better, for lack of a better word.

There are also a few other things throughout the movie which left me pleasantly surprised, such as cleaning up an image of my favorite Sith Lord, Darth Sidious so that if you look close enough, you can tell what the true identity of the Sith Lord is. There’s also the addition of a few other characters in the pod race scene who are not in the original theatrical version, but who I’m told were in the dvd versions of the film. Also, for all the Yoda fans out there, the little green man looks amazing in the film. At least one of my friends was happy to see the CGI Jedi Master in the place of his Muppet counterpart.

Of course I loved almost everything about the movie in of itself.. apart from the character of Jar Jar Binks. In all honesty, I kind of feel that he detracts from the film as a whole. This post isn’t about that though, it’s about the film’s transition into 3D. So, sticking with that theme, the only problem I could think of was Jar Jar’s 3D look. For that matter, the look of the Gungans as a whole could be scrutinized, but I’ll settle for Jar Jar. There are moments in the film where due to his actions and the special effects he looks like he’s made of rubber, and not in a great or even funny way. You may also notice that some of the masks for aliens such as the Neimoidians(Trade Federation) look a bit less than convincing

That said; if you’re a fan of Star Wars (including Episodes I-III) then I’d say this is something worth going to see. Especially seeing as from what I hear, Episodes II-VI will also be undergoing 3Dification.  You should however be prepared to shell out 15 dollars or so for the tickets of the currently released film. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the 3D glasses designed especially for Episode I as seen below(Anakin Skywalker pod racer style design.), but if not, you’ll be stuck with the standard specs as my friends and I disappointingly were.

Revenge of the Anonymous

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the group known as “Anonymous” (which is used in this case as a mass noun); they are an internet meme that originated in 2003 on the image-board known as  4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global mind. It’s  also generally used as a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are known to only them. If that doesn’t help, think of Anonymous as a real life Laughing Man(from the anime Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex.) (Two images seen below. First image in hat and heavy coat.) The main difference being that The Laughing Man is a single individual, whereas Anonymous is more of a…..Legion for lack of a better work.

 

 

In its early form, the concept has been adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously  in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment. Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective has become increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism, undertaking protests and other actions, often in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Actions credited to “Anonymous” are undertaken by unidentified individuals who apply the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution.

Although not necessarily tied to a single online entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous. This includes notable image-boards such as 4chan, their associated wikis, Encyclopædia Dramatica, and a number of forums. After a series of controversial, widely-publicized protests and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its cadre members have increased. In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous has been posited by CNN to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks.

Last year, Anonymous claimed responsibility for hacking a website belonging to the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency by releasing personal information of 2,000 passengers and of a former BART spokesman who claimed it was his idea for BART to shut down cell phone service in stations.

The goal was to hinder protests that started after BART police fatally shot a transient in San Francisco.

Once again, the hacker collective Anonymous may have struck. The group appears to have posted the addresses and other personal information of several Oakland, California, city officials to the internet. The information went up on a website attributed to the group. A note with the post expresses anger over how police have treated members of Occupy Oakland and city budget cuts that have been approved. The mayor, police chief and city council members were among those whose information was included in the posting.

Among those whose information was included on the groups website were Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Police Chief Howard Jordan, City Administrator Deanna Santana and numerous  City Council members. The group said that it was “shocked and disgusted” over police action taken against members of Occupy Oakland and recent budget cuts finalized by the city. “Since the inception of Occupy Oakland, we have been actively monitoring your behavior, and exposing the identities and sensitive information of Officers of the Oakland Police Department; as they have continued to act in an unprofessional and violent manner,” the group said. “You tear gassed us. You shot us with your weapons. You arrested us. You beat us. You also did this to our friends, and to our families.”

Quan’s spokeswoman, Sue Piper, downplayed Tuesday’s incident. “The information was already public, so it’s really not a big deal to us,” Piper said. “We just really want to go forward with the city’s business. This is nothing new.”

 

Occupy Oakland protesters and police clashed again on Jan. 28 when protesters tried to take over a vacant convention center and then damaged property inside City Hall including burning an American flag. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and arrested more than 400 people. Also last month, the City Council finalized $28 million in budget cuts including about 80 layoffs. The Council on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on a resolution to prevent future shutdowns of the Port of Oakland by Occupy members.

I’m pretty sure that if people don’t get their act together, we can expect more from Anonymous.

Movie Review: The Woman In Black

Well.. I just saw the movie “The Woman In Black” last night with some friends and I decided I might as well blog about it. I should warn you that this is probably gonna be a a ton of spoilage going on in this blog, so be warned. The Woman In Black is the latest film starring Daniel Radcliffe(From Harry Potter). Essentially, the film is a British ghost story about the vengeful spirit of a woman haunting an English town. The film itself is an adaptation of the book of the same name, written by Susan Hill.

In the film which takes place in England’s Edwardian era, Radcliffe plays the role of one Arthur Kipps; a young, widdowed lawyer who’s down on his luck financially. He lives with his young 4 year old son Joseph, and his son’s nanny (Jessica Raine) (Who I don’t believe is ever named in the movie.) Kipps’ wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey) apparently died in the midst of giving birth to their son. In the beginning of the film, Arthur has occasional visions of her and is facing stress from his employers at the law firm. You get the feeling that he wants to end it all in a manor reminiscent of Sweeny Todd.  He is given an assignment (His last and final one if he fails.) to handle the estate of a deceased woman namd Alice Drablow who owned Eel Marsh, where she lived with her husband, son Nathaniel, and sister, Jennet Humfrye (Liz White). This is basically to prove to his employers that he isn’t too crippled with grief to do what’s expected of him.

Eventually Kipps arrives in Crythin Gifford, and to a less than warm welcome from the locals as they all warn him to turn and go home.  Having been repeatedly told to leave, he of course ignores the protests of his presence. At the march he starts working on the stacks of paperwork left there, but he repeatedly hears footsteps and and eventually sees a woman dressed all in black. Kipps reports the sighting at the local police station. From the time he arrives in the station, things go from mysterious to downright bad when two boys bring in their sister who drank lye and she dies in Arthur’s arms, coughing blood. She is not the first child in town to commit suicide, and the townspeople believe the “Woman in Black” comes for their children as revenge for her child being taken from her in life. This however is not a fact known by Kipps.

As he continues to dig deeper and deeper into the mystery of this mysterious figure in black and the connection with the people of the town, his cool demeanor melts (For lack of a better word.) when faced with the mountain of proof that there is indeed something dark, sinister, and truly unholy taking up residence within the walls of Eel Marsh House.

At first, being the huge Harry Potter fan I claim to be, I thought it would be difficult to view Radcliffe as anything other than Harry Potter; given the sheer success and lengthy run of the films. I couldn’t have been farther from wrong. Of course there were elements of the film that had a certain… Harry Potter-esque feel, such as Crythin Gifford giving off a somewhat Godrics Hollow/Hogsmeade Village vibe. Then there was the fact that the feel of the film was as dark as, if not darker than the last few Potter films. I couldn’t help but occasionally get the feeling that this was once again Harry Potter facing off against some dark force or another. Throughout the film, I found myself wanting to yell out “Use your wand harry.” Somehow I managed to look past all that and ended up thoroughly enjoying the film. For a horror film, it was certainly less gruesome than your typical horror movie; even your typical ghost story horror. It was a chance for Daniel Radcliffe to show that he’s more than just “the boy who lived” and the guy who defeated the most powerful dark lord of all times.I’d say he more than showed that.

The cast of the film did an amazing job. I can’t find anything wrong with their acting, no matter how hard I might try. Ciarán Hinds did a fantastic job as Sam Daily. What else could be expected from the man who portrayed Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2.?. Janet McTeer did a splendid job in the role of Mrs. Daily. Seeing her as her son is spoken about in conversation made the film for me as much as the acting in the film in general did. Liz White, although not the biggest name in the film, had the key role as The Woman In Black herself. Her portrayal of The Woman was different than what I’d expected, due to most female horror movie antagonists being more…gruesome; like the female character in “The Grudge” or in “Dead Silence”. That being said, She did a fantastic job. The last thing I’d want to walk into in the middle of the night would be The Woman In Black. The other cast members did an equally fantastic job in their roles.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’d advise going to see it.

Of Piracy and Liberty

For more than a decade,  Wikipedia (the free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.) has spent millions of hours painstakingly building what has to be the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, Congress is considering legislation that could all but kill free and open Internet.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in December, and the powers of the Internet—web based companies that innovate and users who populate internet—joined forces to defend the idea of a free and open ’net. Some websites have even joined in blacking out in response to SOPA and PIPA. Because of all the controversy (more than 700,000 tweets and a million emails…give or take), there may no longer be the legislative desire in the House to pass it, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the bill’s most vocal opponents.

Despite that fact, bills often come in pairs, and SOPA’s twin in the Senate is the Protect IP Act, or PIPA as it is commonly referred to. Both bills threaten to rip apart the very fabric of the Internet, compromise the world’s digital security and open the doors for censorship the likes of which have been most recently seen in China. While SOPA may be damaged, PIPA has yet to attract the same levels of negative attention. It’s scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Jan. 24 and could easily weasel its way through, under the radar. It’s quite clear that PIPA is the new SOPA, making it the next logical target.

It’s understandable that the entertainment industry is sick of sitting by while its films, records and software are being stolen by large-scale online file-sharing operations based overseas, known as “rogue sites.” But, in the name of “intellectual-property rights”, media companies have enlisted a bipartisan chunk of Congress to pass anti-piracy legislation weighted irrationally and unfairly in their favor. Copyright holders want to give themselves and the U.S. Department of Justice the power to block any and all websites accused of “infringement”. They seem to want to force Internet service providers to create a wall between their customers and these websites. To force banks and payment services like PayPal to cut off these websites’ money. They want the websites removed from search results and to ban people from linking to them. And all of that, without any kind of formal hearing.

That won’t stop people from infringing on copyrights. So long as there are people out there, information’ll find a way around the walls the entertainment industry wants built. That’s just the nature of information.

An alternative bill for possible consideration is  the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN, which like SOPA, also has a twin in the Senate, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Jerry Moran and Maria Cantwell. OPEN would place rogue sites under the purview of the International Trade Commission, which already oversees patent infringement. The ITC would be given the authority to block the flow of all money and advertising to these sites, but nothing more.

I’m not sure about you, but to me that seems ridiculous. If anything, PIPA might just cause a surge in pirating information. Tell someone they can’t do something and that’s as good a reason as any for them to do just that. And get enough people who aren’t allowed to do something and you’ve got the same thing that happened during the prohibition. Sure, I realize there’s a difference between pirating information and bootlegging information… it’s a small difference, but the comparison stands valid.

This blog post has been spawned from an amalgamation of online information. If a bill such as PIPA were to pass, who’s to say I would have been able to gather the information I’ve posted.?. Who’s to say I would have been able to post it.?.