Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pornography, an ugly word for a dirty business

It's like drug addicts. There used to be drug addicts with hundred-dollar-a-day habits (back when a hundred dollars a day was good money) and I always thought, if only they could have that drive to make a hundred dollars a day without being drug addicts!

I told someone this, and he pointed out that drug addicts often make their money through theft and prostitution.

With pornographers, look at these guys. There was Joe Francis who ran Girls Gone Wild. He was raking in a fortune. His business was essentially legal. Yet he keeps getting arrested. The laws are clear and easy to follow, but he keeps violating them for no good reason. He was in jail on one charge and didn't bother bailing himself out since he would just be arrested again on tax charges. Then he was accused of trying to bribe guards to bring him bottled water.

Now a guy called Hunter Moore who ran a "revenge porn" site---scumbags could post nude photos of their ex-girlfriends---has pleaded guilty to unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft. He paid someone to hack into email accounts to steal nude photos.

There may be money in pornography, but you can't go into it for the money. You have to go into it because you're degenerate scum. Then you can't enjoy your wealth and you end up in prison because, again, you're degenerate scum. You can't win.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kirk Cameron wins four Razzies

Kirk Cameron can comfort himself with the thought that it's an atheist conspiracy. He won four Razzies for his film Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas including "Worst Combo" for Cameron and his ego.

I watched a little of it somewhere. It was a strange movie. Cameron wasn't trying to put the Christ back in Christmas---just the opposite. He spends the movie attacking his brother-in-law for thinking that money squandered on the holiday might better be used to feed the hungry and for pointing out the alleged pagan origins of the holiday. But Cameron explains that all this stuff is Biblical and there's no way Jesus would want you to help the poor instead of Christmas shopping. The whole thing's a  rather shocking defense of commercialism and materialism. It's a former sit-com star's idea of Christianity.

When the movie got zero positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, Cameron put out a call for religious folk to skew the results with user reviews, even if they hadn't seen the movie. Show the snooty elites that they can't tell us what to watch.

This triggered a backlash and offended users, Christian and non-Christian, posted their own reviews. The thing is now the worst-rated movie on the site.
One user wrote:
In Cameron's very narrow perspective, anything associated with the holiday has to be positive. Yes, Cameron literally argues that all the material excess and spending actually honors God. Instead of looking at the presents under the tree as just that, look at them as the outline of a skyline of a new Jerusalem, Cameron offers in one of the more head-scratching moments. He conflates the spending of money with celebration, admonishing people to buy "the biggest ham, the richest butter" as long as they just don't "max out their credit cards." That's the limit he sets, so everything below that must be agreeable. Just to hammer the message home further, Cameron says that materialism is good because "Christ was made material." 
Christ was killed on a wooden cross, and there are trees in the Bible, so Christmas trees are Biblical.

It's hard for me to believe that people who gave it positive reviews actually saw it. One wrote:
Really loved the film and its message. Fascinating to see what is behind the true meaning of Christmas.
But there was this apparently sincere review:
Best Christmas presentation ever. In fact, it not only changed my perspective on Christmas, it may have permanently changed my outlook on the world in general. I hesitate to call it a film or movie, as that doesn't really fit. This is more of a visual conversation, between Kirk and fellow Christians. It is not for anyone else. It wasn't marketed to general audiences and it wasn't intended for general audiences. It's not even a tool of evangelism, he isn't trying to bring anyone to Christ. This is purely by Christians and for Christians and its intention is only to have a conversation about Christmas, though in a fun way.

The worst part of this is actually the hate-speech from non-Christians. It has really brought out the true colors of a lot of people who hate it purely because it is Christian. The Razzies in particular this year really showed how much they hate Christians. All the other Razzie nominees were big budget, Hollywood, wide release entertainment films. Saving Christmas is none of these, it was only marketed to Christians, with a tiny budget and a limited release. So by singling out Saving Christmas and Kirk Cameron, the Razzie voters showed that they don't really care about critiquing bad movies as much as they love the opportunity to bash Christians.
I never saw anyone attack A Charlie Brown Christmas for Linus's speech about the true meaning of Christmas.

There was something I read long ago in Dear Abby. Someone wrote to Abby and asked her to reprint a "wonderful story". Abby thought it was a wonderful story, too.

The story was:
A young man from a wealthy family was about to graduate from high school. It was the custom in that affluent neighborhood for the parents to give the graduate an automobile. ``Bill`` and his father had spent months looking at cars, and the week before graduation they found the perfect car. Bill was certain that the car would be his on graduation night.
Imagine his disappointment when, on the eve of his graduation, Bill`s father handed him a gift-wrapped Bible.
Bill was so angry, he threw the Bible down and stormed out of the house. He and his father never saw each other again.
It was the news of his father`s death that brought Bill home again. As he sat one night, going through his father`s possessions that he was to inherit, he came across the Bible his father had given him. He brushed away the dust and opened it to find a cashier`s check, dated the day of his graduation - in the exact amount of the car they had chosen together.
There are only two possible morals to this story: If someone gives you a Bible, don't get mad because there might be a check in it, or, if you want to give someone a check, don't put it in a Bible.

But the rubes out there read a story with a Bible in it and think it's Christian.

What this means is that they don't know there's any message in ANY story. They hear a parable and enthuse over how wonderful it is, but they have absolutely no clue that it has any deeper meaning at all.

Kirk Cameron doesn't know it, but these people are his target audience.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

New westerns

I've said this before on here----there are some westerns I like, but, in general, I never cared for them. Everything in them---the clothes, the towns, the landscapes---were ugly. The men wore stupid-looking ties. The dancing girls and prostitutes wore terrible outfits hanging around in ugly, garish saloons with terrible piano music. The richer the people, the uglier their homes, clothes and furniture were. Their only recreation is hanging around in bars. The violence was dull. Everyone had the same gun. The fistfights were just guys punching each other over and over and over. I saw one where a fight consisted of two men punching each other in the face over and over.

The spaghetti westerns were more interesting.  The characters didn't all talk about their life's dream of owning a ranch. The dialog, written in Italian and translated into English, was more interesting, and there was an occasional machine gun.

But American westerns were so popular outside the United States. Stalin loved them. They were popular enough in the Soviet Union that they produced their own versions. Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country beat Fillini's 8 ½ in at least one European film festival. I want to see what other people see in them.

I used to like Samurai movies. I like the Soviet "Easterns".

I thought the genre was dead. But I see quite a few fairly recent low budget westerns on Netflix. They're well-made, they're very violent. Cheap and violent----that's what the genre is all about. It's when they spend tens or, in the case of The Lone Ranger, hundreds of millions of dollars on them that things go horribly wrong.

With these new westerns, it's surprising how little homosexuality there is. They're living in the Old West. There's a shortage of women and most of the men in these things look like fashion models. The old novel The Virginian (made into a couple of movies and a TV show) had two cowboys living together with a pet chicken as their surrogate child.  

I'm sitting here with one on TV right now. They have a reference to Yojimbo---a dog walks around with a severed hand in its mouth. And there's a karate fight in a bar.

Everyone speaks plain English. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than western gibberish.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Two and a Half Men

I haven't watched Two and a Half Men since Charlie Sheen left. But I did watch the series finale (much of it) last night and I was right to stop watching. Was the show always that filthy? I've never liked Ashton Kutcher. Angus T. Jones appeared looking slim and fit but a bit goat-like in his beard and long hair. Young men shouldn't have beards and they should keep them trimmed if they do. John Cryer was looking old. A beard would help him. They kept making jokes about the show being a show. Angus T Jones kept smiling and looking at the audience when he made jokes which may have been a reference to the fact that he actually did this as a kid. They kept having to cut away from him because he would laugh at the jokes.

Turned out that Charlie Sheen's character wasn't dead---he was being held captive by that woman who was stalking him throughout the show.

I'm glad I quit watching that thing.

I still marvel at the way middling movie actors like Charlie Sheen become great TV stars.

Oh---and I quit watching by then, but apparently Charlie Sheen did not appear on the show, but they had a stand-in for him we only saw from the back who was then horribly killed.

It probably would have been better if they hadn't stretched it out to an hour. And if it didn't have Ashton Kutcher. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Better Call Saul

I watched an episode of Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spinoff. I didn't expect to like it that well. But it was great!

I hear that Breaking Bad is huge in Russia. A young Russian fellow even changed his name to Jesse Pinkman even though Jesse suffered horribly throughout the series. Jesse had terrible Karma.

Sam Peckinpah thought that Dustin Hoffman's character's bad karma was the cause of all the trouble in Straw Dogs.

If you believe in that sort of thing, who had the worst karma on Breaking Bad? Jesse was repeatedly beaten up, he had two girlfriends who are killed, he likes children but all the children around him are murdered, orphaned, hospitalized, or some combination of those. His younger brother wasn't harmed physically, but he was doomed, trapped with the same parents who turned Jesse into a miserable wreck.

Dustin Hoffman triumphs in the end of Straw Dogs. And Jesse is the one who gets away alive. Hank and Gomez got too close to him and were killed. It was only because the Nazis drag Jesse out to show Walt that he's their slave, not their business partner, that Walter is able to carry out his plan to kill all the Nazis.

Jesse travels to Mexico, spends a day with a Mexican drug cartel and they all die, Hank is shot and Gus is poisoned. 

If Walter had picked a different former student to work with---someone who was really lucky---the show would have gone in an entirely different direction. But then, how would Walter have coerced a lucky person to work with him?

I don't know if this works as a "fan theory" (I may not fully understand what a fan theory is) since the creators of the show planned to kill of Jesse early on. They changed their minds for some reason.

Vince Gilligan, the creator of the show, has said that the point of the show is that people make a conscious choice to be good or bad. And that is the case on the show. You can be good or bad, but there's no escape from Jesse's karmic vortex of death,

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Blue Lagoon, the book and the film

I came across an interview with the director of The Blue Lagoon. It was sort of interesting. It was the movie's 35th anniversary. So I looked at and read some of the user comments, and I watched part of it on Netflix. I haven't seen it since the '80s. I really hated it, but the thing was a huge hit and there are so many people, all of them women, who still just love it. And the ones who love it do so for exactly the reasons the director intended. It was a financial and, if you were in the target audience, artistic success.

But I was just watching an old British comedy made during World War Two. A man is stuck alone on an island operating a lighthouse. He rescues a woman who was on a ship that was torpedoed and sunk. She tells him that she once read a book about a boy and girl who were thrown together on an island and fell in love under a palm tree. I wondered if she was talking about The Blue Lagoon. The movie was based on an old novel.

It occurred to me that the novel The Blue Lagoon was public domain, so I did a quick internet search and it was online. I read a little bit of it.

The novel had the same weakness the movie had. Too much dialog. I read just a little so I'm not going to try to review it, but I thought the description wasn't terribly vivid and the writing was a bit sketchy.

But what surprised me is how much of the book was in the movie. The plot was so rudimentary and the source material was so obscure and unimpressive. It's hard to imagine that ANY of the millions of people who saw the movie had ever read the book. I only read a little, but there were several things I recognized from the movie. I thought the dialog they took from the novel was rather bad.

When the kids are on the ship and see sharks in the water, the boy asks, "What are they called, father?", it sounded awkward. It could have been phrased more naturally. But that line came straight from the book,

There was the scene where the kids have spotted the guy who went on to play Rumpole of the Bailey lying out on the beach. They go to wake him up. The girl makes a flower garland and plans to put on him and then yell "boo" so he'll jump up with it on. Turns out the guy is dead. When they turn him over, a little crab crawls out of the poor actor's mouth, the girl faints and the poor boy has to carry his costar back to the boat. All this was in the book with the same lousy dialog.

It reminds me of reading the Ed McBain novel King's Ransom which Kurosawa adapted to make High and Low. The movie was so different from the book that it was surprising when you saw what Kurosawa kept. For example, the name of the character----in the American novel, it was "Gordon King". In the Japanese movie, it was "Kingo Gondo".

Anyway, there are vast numbers of public domain novels there for the taking. Hell, you could make your own adaptation of The Blue Lagoon and they couldn't do anything about it. Just be sure to adapt the book and don't remake the movie. It wouldn't cost much---most of it is just two kids on a beach.

I was always amazed that there was only one direct rip-off of the movie, a thing called Paradise starring Willie Aames and Phoebe Cates. It was a Canadian-Israeli co-production, so it was anti-Arab, about a pair of teens who flee the Arabs and end up swimming naked in an oasis with a masturbating chimpanzee. That's no joke. It had a masturbating chimpanzee.

Roger Ebert quipped that in The Blue Lagoon, the kids learn about sex watching the sea turtles mate, but luckily, in Paradise, they only had one camel. Gene Siskel was annoyed by the joke. Yes, they had only one camel, but what about the masturbating chimpanzee?

I wonder how they got the chimpanzee to do that on cue. Is that something Israelis train chimps to do?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bruce Jenner in car wreck, one killed

I don't know what to think about Bruce Jenner. My guess is that being a star of sorts stood in the way of his getting a sex change years ago. But I can't imagine he's complaining.

Today, Bruce Jenner was in an accident that left one person dead and seven injured. He was driving his big giant Cadillac SUV pulling a trailer on Pacific Coast Highway and rear-ended an old Lexus which then crashed into a Hummer. Jenner says he was fleeing photographers. Cops say he wasn't speeding, so "fleeing" may have been the wrong word. There are photos on TMZ of Jenner's Escalade as it struck the Lexus, so yeah, the photographers were there. They had to have been a distraction.

I feel for the people injured and the family of the poor woman who was killed.

I hope Justin Bieber learns from this.

Always drive carefully.

Jenner ran into the woman so he was apparently at fault in the accident. According to Wikipedia:
In the state of California, depending on the degree of recklessness and whether alcohol was involved, a person could be charged with progressively more serious offenses: vehicular manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or second-degree murder. In any of these cases, the prosecution must prove that the driver committed some wrongful act (which could be a felony, a misdemeanor, an infraction, or a lawful act that might cause death) and that the wrongful act caused the collision and the death of the victim. Murder charges are usually reserved for the most egregious cases, such as a convicted DUI offender who drives recklessly while intoxicated and thereby causes a fatal collision.
If I understand another article I just read on California law, it sounds like Jenner may have been guilty of "ordinary negligence" as opposed to "gross negligence" and would thus be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by probation, up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Being an Olympic gold medalist should help him in court. Being a reality TV star should hurt him.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brian Williams' helicopter shooting-down story

I came across this tweet from Josh "Elvis" Weinstein, the original Tom Servo:
"And if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you make up a story about jumping off a bridge too?"-- Teen Brian Williams' mother
"What's that about?" I thought.

I googled it.

Newscaster Brian Williams falsely claimed to have been shot down in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003. In fact, a helicopter had been shot down and he was in another helicopter that came along an hour later. It's like if you drove past a car wreck an hour after it happened and told everyone you were in a car wreck. Or if you drove through Dealey Plaza and told everyone you were shot by Lee Harvey Oswald.

How did this happen? How old is Brian Williams?

I've heard that elderly people have a tendency to tell stories they heard about other people as if they had happened to them. Long ago, my grandparents started telling stories about amazing experiences they had had, and I kept wondering why I had never heard about them before. I would have been regaling anyone who would listen if that stuff had happened to me.

Grandpa Simpson telling crazy stories is based on something actual old people do.

I suppose it could be that Williams started telling his anecdote, in his excitement got it garbled and said it like HE was in the helicopter that was shot down and instead of stopping and correcting it and sounding incoherent, let it go.

Remember Hilary Clinton claimed she was shot at landing on a plane in Bosnia after a war her husband started? What was she thinking? For God's sake, Chelsea was on that trip. She claimed she had her daughter running for her life being shot at by snipers, and for what? She was only "first lady". What was so important that they'd risk everybody's life?

But it's not like I believe all the other crap on the news.