Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shame on You, Dave Elliott!

Dave Elliott, you should be ashamed of yourself! You too, C.J. Henderson and R. Allen Leider! In case my normal readers are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, I’m speaking to the writers of a book I recently purchased. The title is A Field Guide to Monsters, and it is, well, exactly what the title implies it is. It talks about movie monsters, more familiar ones like Dracula, Godzilla, and Freddy Krueger, and more obscure ones like the Wasp Woman, (The Wasp Woman, 1960) the Crab Monsters, (Attack of the Crab Monsters, 1957) and the Melting Man. (The Incredible Melting Man, 1977)

I thought it would be a good “at a glance” guide, (the book is only 192 pages long) and it is. It’s a good starting point if you’re serious about researching monsters. However, a lot of the information in this guide is ar oh en gee WRONG.

Some of the misinformation in the guide is for humorous purposes. For instance, it states (page 160) the Abe Sapiens, a fish-man of Hellboy fame teaches swimming at the local Y. Not true, but funny. Comments like that are not only forgivable, but enjoyable.

However, there are many mistakes which are simply not funny. For example, the guide claims (page 143) that Lestat de Lioncourt, Anne Rice’s most famous vampire, can be killed with garlic, silver, and wooden stakes. Not true. According to Louis, the vampire played by Brad Pitt in the movie version of Interview with the Vampire, none of these things are effective. Sunlight, yes. Decapitation/dismemberment, yes. Fire, mostly effective. But none of the other things we humans tend to run to for vampire defense, including crosses and holy water, are effective against Anne Rice’s vampires. See, she chose to work outside of Bram Stoker’s model, that’s why she came up with the whole “dead blood” thing. Basically, if a vampire drinks blood from a dead person, they die too. It makes sense, seeing as they prolong their lives by drinking blood from living people. Besides, they need a weakness somewhere if the traditional ones are out.

And in the entry for the Master (page 147), the main villain from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season one, a picture of the Gentlemen is shown in place of the Master vampire himself. The Gentlemen are villains from season four, and they are not even vampires.

The Master (upper)

The Gentlemen (lower)

See the difference? Not only are the Gentlemen completely different monsters than vampires, (they like hearts better than blood) they don’t even look remotely like vampires. They have the same pale skin and inhuman eyes, but if you look at their teeth, (and how can’t you, they’re always smiling with a bright red rictus that would put the Joker to shame) you’ll note that they have blunt, useless, not to mention rotted, human teeth. How are they supposed to suck blood without their fangs?!

Another thing, the authors fail to credit the books many of these monsters first appear in. They only list the monster’s first appearance in a movie. And in the case of the Thing, (page 84) they credit its first appearance as John Carpenter’s 1982 film, when really, the Thing’s first film appearance was in 1951. Granted, the 1982 film was more faithful to the novella, but still, know your film history if your going to write about it. And don’t forget, that a lot of the monsters we enjoy wouldn’t be here if not for the creative minds of H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, and Stephan King. And many others. So the books deserve some credit.

Now, I understand that there are not so many people out there who are serious about the subject of monster research, but if you are going to write a book that children and impressionable adults may read, you should get your facts straight. And with the number of geeks and fanboys/fangirls out there on the internet, there’s really no excuse for getting certain details wrong.

So, I say, "Shame on you Dave Elliott." Especially since the book I purchased was a second edition.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Foods I've Tried

Well, I’ve had an adventurous weekend, food-wise. I enjoy trying different things, even if it turns out I don’t like them. Like limburger cheese, for instance. I’d heard that it was smelly, but I was thinking strong-cheese smell, like feta, or bleu cheese. But limburger STINKS! Think of the woodchips in the sheep and goat pens at a county fair. And it kind of tasted like it, too. I was very disappointed.

But, on the upside, this weekend, I’ve tried two things I did like. I was trying to find a place that sells mead. That’s an old fashioned drink like beer, except it’s made out of honey. Well, I didn’t find any in Blair, but I did discover a liqueur called Barenjager. The name means “bear hunter” in German. According to the bottle, hunters would use this liqueur made from honey to attract and intoxicate bears. It’s a higher proof than most beers, but it is sooooo SWEET it would be very easy to overdo it. Even if you do have the tolerance of a bear. (enjoy responsibly)

The other thing I tried was sushi. I’ve had it before but not at a Japanese restaurant. Sunday night I was out with some friends and we ate at Baby Blue Sushi in Omaha. I had a spicy tuna roll with wasabi and soy sauce and it was good. If you don’t like fish, you won’t like sushi, but I enjoyed it. By the way, if you want to entertain your friends, order things like octopus and sea urchin. They will stop everything they’re doing just to watch you eat it. Those were good too. The octopus was a little like squid, but not as chewy and rubbery. Of course, it wasn’t cooked, so that might have had something to do it. It was a little like steak, but tougher. By the way, the pieces I had came from an arm. Guess how I could tell. Go on, guess. The sea urchin (served sans spines) was not chewy at all. It was like pudding. But, brother, it did not taste like pudding. I don’t know if I’ll have it next time, since it was seven dollars for squishy echinoderm, but I’m glad I tried it.

Anyways, leave a comment and tell me about unusual food and drink you’ve tried.
See you next time!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scary Bug Movies

Hey everybody, I’ve got a couple more books to share with you; The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks, and How to Survive a Horror Movie, by Seth Grahame-Smith. You’ll find them in the Humor section of your local bookstore. They are so FUNNY! You know, in a macabre, twisted kind of way. Plus, if you have the misfortune to wind up in a scary movie, you need look no further than these books to save your life.

BUT… I’ve noticed one thing neither book addresses. Now, with Mr. Brooks its understandable since his book is zombie-specific. But Mr. Grahame-Smith should have known to include this; “What do you do if you’re attacked by deadly bugs?”

Anyone knows that the Horror genre is rife with stories of deadly swarms of flesh-eaters, giant praying mantids, “eight-legged freaks,” monster worms, and imaginary aphids. Not to mention all the people who’ve suffered horrific accidents wherein they become half human/half insect. So, how can you defend yourself against these monstrosities?

Well, it kind of depends on what sort of bugs are attacking you. One important thing to remember is that fire kills everything. Beyond that, you’ll need to be a bit more specific in your counter-measures. Does bug-spray work? Well, that depends. Odds are, if bug-spray is the first thing you go for, than the writers are going to mess with you and make it so that poison doesn’t affect whatever hideous mutant is trying to eat you. So save yourself the trouble and only try poison as a last resort. You won’t have anything to lose at that point.

So, what about specific cases? Having owned a (regular-sized)praying mantis myself, I can tell you personally a giant one is not something to be trifled with. Like many predators, they are attracted to movement, but don’t think that staying still will fool them. Once they’ve identified a possible prey item, they’ll lock in on it and wait for the right moment to strike. And they've got good eyesight. What can you do? Don’t wait for them. They can only strike at prey in front of them, so try to outflank it. If you have a machete or an ax handy, try to cut off a leg so they can’t turn quickly.

If it’s a giant spider, ignore all the flailing legs and go for the center, the head and the eyes. Eyes mean the brain can’t be far away. Of course, the trick to beating any giant bug is to get them where you want them. Most spiders tend to stay hidden until an unfortunate insect strays into their web. The vibrations of the web’s filaments alert the spider to the presence of prey. So if you want to draw the killer arachnid out, take a stick and poke the web. Or, better yet, don’t.

If you are besieged by giant worms or some other burrower, well, just do what they did in Tremors. What, you say you haven’t seen Tremors? Well, in that case go watch it. The best thing you can do against killer burrowing bugs is to take a page from Michael Grossman, Kevin Bacon, and Fred Ward.

And I know, since I mentioned it above I know you’re thinking “Imaginary aphids? What the heck dude?” Well, there’s good news. If Bug and A Scanner Darkly are any indication, you’re unlikely to be bothered by imaginary aphids unless you are a schizophrenic or a drug-addict. Psychologically it is a common hallucination in real life. Of course, in the movies, there’s always a twist. In this case, if you pretend to see the aphids just to convince the one who’s seeing them that you don’t think he’s crazy, you’ll start seeing them as well. But, in the event that this happens, there is a simple solution. If you become besieged by imaginary bugs because you pretended to see them, then it stands to reason that if you pretend not to see them they’ll go away. If Ashley Judd had tried this, she might not have immolated herself in the end.

Of course, it goes without saying that this only works in the movies. If you really are seeing imaginary bugs, seek professional help. And if you really get attacked by giant bugs, well, you have nothing to worry about. Giant bugs aren’t real. Or are they…?

Please let me know if I've failed to address any other important cases.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here I am again.

Hey everybody, hope you haven't gotten bored since I promised to post a month ago.

Just watching the debate at the moment. Actually my dad has it on in the other room and I'm just kind of listening. I already know who I'm voting for, so there's not really anything either of them could say to change my mind now.

But, politics bore me, so I'm going to talk about something else. I've been reading the new Inheritance novel, Brisingr. It's pretty cool. The way the story deepens really shows how Christopher Paolini has grown as a writer, and I think I understand why he decided to extend the series, instead of writing a trilogy like he originally planned.

I've also noticed that when I talk to someone about a fantasy series, and I use the series name, like Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, people tend to stare at me blankly, but if I say the first book was The Golden Compass, they're like, "Oooh, right, that one." So I feel compelled to say that Eragon is the first book of Inheritance. You might remember the movie. You should be aware, though, if you decide to read the book, that it is significantly different from the movie. I enjoyed both, though. The guy they cast as Durza nailed it, and Jeremy Irons as Brom? Heck, I'd go to a movie just to see that guy act.

And speaking of movies with actors I really like, I saw The Bucket List awhile back, and if you haven't seen that one, GO and RENT IT right NOW! Sorry to shout, but I feel very strongly about this. Anyways, it has Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, and the two of them play terminally ill cancer patients. They come from different walks of life and have different personalities, but they quickly become friends. Since they don't have much time left, they decide to do all the things they've wanted to do before they kick the bucket. Hence, the Bucket List.

Also, if you're familiar with the movie, you might remember them talking about Kopi Luwak. No that's not a person, its a rare coffee beverage from the island of Sumatra. Jack Nicholson's character loves it, but Carter(Morgan Freeman) says he'd never try it. Much later in the movie, he explains why. I won't say what the reason is, for the sake of my readers who haven't seen the film, but I found out recently, IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE! I can't say anything more, or the joke won't have the same impact when you see the movie.

So anyways, I'll see you all next time!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Heeeerrress Johnny! Or something like that.

Okay, I know I haven’t posted in a while, sorry, sorry, bad me. I’ve been a little busy with classes and other things, but I’ll try to post at least once a week from now on.

Anyways, I’ve been taking Russian language classes for about two weeks now. I’d tell you some words I know now, but I’ve been learning them in Cyrillic, and I don’t want to confuse myself by writing them in English letters.

I’ve also got a new pet. One day, I was working at the store, and I spotted a praying mantis just sitting on a grocery cart. So, I stuck him in a deli container and took him home. He’s quite fascinating to watch. He mostly clings to the ceiling of his aquarium and stays very still. But he’ll also explore the lid and try to find a place he can get out. He cleans his feet and his antennae with his jaws. Just nibbles away whatever is clinging to them, like say the guts of other bugs. It’s pretty cool to watch him eat, too. Mostly I’ve been feeding him crickets, the feeder kind you can get at pet shops. I’ve been trying to catch flies for him as well, but I haven’t got the hang of getting them into the aquarium.

Anyways, I’ll post again soon. See you later!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Scary Story

Anybody out there like scary stories? Anyone? Just me then? Well I’m going to tell you about this one anyway. I’ve been reading this manga, that’s a Japanese comic book, called Monster. The author is Naoki Urasawa, credited as Japan’s master of suspense. And the series is fifteen volumes long, so it’s taken me awhile, but I am currently on the fourteenth, and brrrrr! It’s been quite a journey.

The story starts in 1986, in Düsseldorf, then West Germany. A neurosurgeon named Kenzo Tenma is struggling with hospital politics. His superiors would rather he saved the lives of famous people, if given a choice between an opera singer and a Turkish woman’s husband, for example. But Tenma has too much of a conscience and he believes that all patients lives are equal.

So, when a fatally injured boy named Johan Liebert is brought in one night, and the mayor is brought in shortly after, what do you think Tenma does? His bosses want him to operate on the mayor, citing his expertise. But Tenma doesn’t believe the mayor to be any more important than the life of a little boy. He also determines that the doctor assigned to operate on Johan would probably screw it up. So, in defiance of his superiors, doctor Tenma saves Johan’s life.

However, the mayor doesn’t survive. This could be the end of Tenma’s career. His bosses want to make sure everybody knows it’s his fault the mayor died, and moreover, they refuse to credit him with saving little Johan, trying to turn the whole thing into publicity for the hospital. Also, his fiancé, Eva Heinaman, who is also the hospital director’s daughter, dumps him.

And just as Tenma’s life lies in rubble, the hospital director and a few other hospital officials die under mysterious circumstances. This results in Tenma being appointed chief surgeon. Johan and his twin sister Ana simply vanish. Eleven years pass and Johan comes back into Tenma’s life. And what do you know, the kid's a serial killer.

So now, Tenma chases after Johan, intent on correcting the mistake he made eleven years ago. Along the way, he runs into all kinds of characters, like Johan’s sister, who now goes by Nina Fortner. Inspector Lunge, who has a perfect memory. And Mr. Grimmer, who’s always smiling. And at the center of it all, always a step ahead, the sinister and mysterious Johan. The monster.

It’s a very chilling series to read, and I can see why Naoki Urasawa is Japan’s suspense master. If you deicide to pick it up, remember that manga is formatted right to left, so don’t try reading it the way your used to or you’ll get confused.

Anyway, see you later!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Dark Knight Review

Finally got my sister to see The Dark Knight this week, now I just need to get my parents to see it. This is the second time I've seen it, and it makes me wish I still worked at a theatre so I could see it anytime I wanted.

First of all, Christian Bale is Batman. Now I did like Micheal, Val, and George well enough, but it's like choosing a favorite James Bond. Shawn Connery, George Lasenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig all did Bond a little differently, but they defined the character for their time. That's what Christian Bale does for Batman.

And Heath Ledger as the Joker? Wow! After this, there's just no way they'll be able to use the Joker in a movie anytime soon. Nobody could follow Heath's performance. I mean, I've seen the Joker portrayed before, but this is the first time I've found him truly chilling.

The film itself was amazing in how it explored the line between good and evil, how the line can be blurred, but also how there is always a distinction. Another thing that's explored is how what's right and what's fair are not always the same thing. We're used to thinking that what's right is always fair, but that's not the case; there's a distinction there too. In that same way, what people percieve as herioc isn't always the right thing. I can't say much more without spoilers, but trust me, this one will blow you away.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hellboy Review

Well, this week I went to see Hellboy II: The Golden Army. And I gotta say, I liked it. Visually, it stands pretty close with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As far as action goes, it was better than the first Hellboy. And contentwise, I don't remember what it was rated, but I would say it was appropriate for most people of about any age. (intense creature violence notwithstanding) Just to clarify what I mean by appropriate, there is some cursing, but very it is very mild. Though there is some confusion as to the way one character pronounces the word "focus." But I figure kids aren't likely to pick up on things like that, kind of like how Bugs Bunny would dress in drag to dupe Elmer Fudd, and that didn't seem weird to you until you got older. As for sexual inuendo, it is virtually nonexistant.

Now, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Hellboy is a character in a comic book. He's a demon (like from Hell, hence the name) but he was raised by human beings, so he wants to do good in the world. However, his stone right hand is the key that opens the gates of Hell, and he's also the son of the devil. So it would seem that he's destined to cause destruction and misery to all of mankind.

The first movie spends a lot of time exploring this idea, the whole nature versus nurture thing. Hellboy was born a demon, so it is in his nature to be one, but the people who raised him have done their best to nurture in him a sense of right and wrong and the desire to do right. Simply put, he's not human, but he wants to be a man. At the core of the character is a longing to fit into the world he lives in. He even files his horns flat to look more "normal." He also loves candy, cigars, beer, and cats.

Hellboy II spends less time exploring that part of the character, but it is still a fun time. One of the biggest critiques I've heard was in regards to the script. Specifically, that there wasn't much of a story to it. But, after actually watching the movie, I realized there didn't need to be much of a story. It's like the Mummy movies. (the ones with Brendon Fraser) They lay all their cards out on the table at the beginning; you know what is going to happen, or what is likely to happen, you know that even if the scary, world endangering event does occur, the good guys will win anyway, and you just have a fun time watching it all play out. It's not about where the movie is going, it's about how they get there.

Finally, let me say that I am not a professional movie reviewer by any stretch of the imagination, but I will always do my best to review a movie for the people who will actually go to see it.

Tell me what you think, or throw in your own two cents if you went and saw Hellboy II as well. Liked it, didn't like it, fell asleep, whatever. And if you go to see it on my recommendation, and didn't like it, well, umm... Sorry. I still liked it.

Until next time!

Testing 1-2

This is me, I am here.
Really hope someone will read this.