Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Conspiracy nut - me? You can blame my old man then ...

My father was a strangely two-sided man. On the one hand he was very down-to-earth and ever practical, occasionally maddeningly logical if you were a teenager ruled by hormones and peer pressure. But on the other hand he was surprisingly open-minded to many things. I think his own experiences and his deep admiration for his own fair-minded and even-handed father had made him this way. He was also a Naval man who saw active service in Korea and Suez, and had many fascinating stories to relate, all of which I loved hearing and he loved telling, perhaps recognizing, like many a father has, that his greatest chance to be a mythological-style kingly hero lay with his doting daughter!

When he told me about the phenomenon would one day become known as 'rogue waves' I had no hesitation in believing his description. He told me of being in the Indian Ocean - on those slightly baffling things the military like to call 'manoueveres' ( no guarantee of my spelling there, it's one of my blind spots that word! ) - and suddenly seeing a "wall of water, 90 to 100 feet high, coming toward the ship out of a clear horizon". It was, he said, like watching a building rush toward you, and the most frightening thing he had ever witnessed. Yet neither he nor any of the other men on board thought it anything odd. The sea, they knew, is a force to be reckoned with and an unpredictable one at that. My dad, like most people who have spent time at sea, would say that people who don't know the sea, underestimate it all the time and that is their biggest mistake. He also told me about "glowing things, like gel filled with neon" that they would spot all around the ship and which he figured were some kind of luminous sea creatures. Of course now we know all about bio-luminescence.

Dad's descriptions and theories for these phenomena were very clear-headed and practical, hardly mystical or conspiratorial at all. And yet he was both fascinated by and very open-minded about everything from the Bermuda Triangle to UFO's. The first two non-fiction books he ever steered me in the direction of reading were Erich von Daniken's 'Chariots of the Gods' and a book all about some military planes lost in the Bermuda Triangle. He himself had read all about these things, and the Nazca lines and the 'ancient astronauts' theories, crop circles and the Pyramids at Giza being giant spacecraft-guidance machines. This was the same man who would answer your teenage " Oh but everyone is getting it!" pleas for the latest fashion accessory or gadget with the implaccable logic:

" And if everyone was getting a cold, would you want it too?"

He was not a man inclined to jumping on whatever bandwagon happened to be passing by. And yet he was open to the kinds of possibilities that others automatically reject as the ramblings of whacko's. Small wonder then that his daughter turned out to be similarly open-minded and ever-curious. When Dad left the Navy he went to work for the MOD and in doing so he had to officially sign something under the Secrets Act. For many years during the so-called Cold War, he was forbidden to visit the Iron Curtain countries, even though he was only a civilian worker. It was the government's contention that even civilian workers at MOD bases might have seen things that agents of a hostile country could use and their firm belief also that those foreign agents possessed the ways and means of extracting such subconsciously-held information from people using drugs and hypnosis. Dad never doubted that this was so. Nor did he doubt that our government had the same tools at its disposal and presumably the same willingness to use them given the opportunity.

If the government and military can make a civilian worker at an ordinary MOD base go to such lengths, then how willing would they be to cover up something as globally mind-blowing as the actual existence of UFO's? Which made this video footage from NASA all the more fascinating to me ... Wonder what Dad would have made of it? Considering it was he who recommended the movie 'Capricorn One' to me ...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

My Ultimate Fantasy Monster-Slaying Army

If you could pick any movie, TV, book, comic characters to make up your own monster-slaying army, which would it be?

For me, first and foremost there would have to be Ash ( 'The Evil Dead' ). The man is an original and if you want someone to wield that chainsaw with some aplomb, look no further. I'd also want James Bond because he can make a flamethrower out of a cigarette lighter and some hair product. Without a skill like that you'd be up that messy brown creek if there were snakes, wouldn't you? Yeah. And there are always snakes. And still with the flamethrowers, Ripley ( 'Alien Quadrilogy' ) is another must for me. Not only is the woman a bit handy with a flamethrower, she used a payloader to chuck a big, nasty alien queen ( no, not Elton John ) out of an airlock. Since she's become super-clone Ripley I'd bet she could do some serious damage just by chucking a basketball at those ghoulies! I'd also like to have a slayer on hand for, well, slaying. Call me crazy ( won't be the first time anyone has, nor I suspect the last ) but I'd just feel a whole lot safer if it were rogue slayer Faith Lehane on my side rather than Buffy. Besides, Faith looks better in leather and one can never have enough nice things to look at in between lopping off all those zombie heads. What the heck, I might as well have some Willow too, just in case the army trips across a mad mage ( that means an angry wizard, not Madonna in a temper tantrum ) and need some quick spell-casting, and maybe a VanHelsing too, for the old-skool slaying touch. Speaking of things that look good, I reckon my army could do worse than include Kate Austen ( 'Lost' ) again just in case we found ourselves on some mysterious time-shifting island with bug-eyed men named Ben after us, or just fancied some coconuts. Hey, it could happen ... one minute you're staking cyber-vamps, the next you get that craving for fresh coconuts ... For sheer expertise in the arena of firearms and all things that go boom, I reckon I could do worse than have ex-spy Michael Westin and his trigger-happy girlfriend Fiona Glennane ( 'Burn Notice' ) along, and just in case the monsters are joined by human skin-wearing space lizards, I'd take Ham Tyler ( 'V' the original ) and Special Agent Erica Evans ( 'V' 2010 ), the latter just because she wears a thigh-holster very well and I do have my completely shallow moments. Finally, and this may sound like an odd choice so bear with me, I'd want Dr Cal Lightman ( 'Lie To Me' ) on my side. Hey, if I suspected my best friend had been taken over by the pod people and she was trying to convince me she was still human, I'd want Lightman there to tell me, " Nah, sod it. She's lying. I can tell by her eyebrows." He can bring his colleague Dr Gillian Foster along with him too. She's kinda handy with that psychology degree when she's let loose ... besides, she's cute and I'm sure I could find some use for her, even if it was just making the coffee.

So bring on the brain-eating zombies!!!

How To Recognize That You Are In A Horror Movie

There are certain elements that go into making up a horror movie. There can be variations on these themes but they must always be present in some form for it to be classified as a horror movie ...

1. Running In Heels Through The Cemetery. Graveyards are dangerous places. They are dangerous at any time of day but by night they become especially so. Hence it is NEVER a good idea to enter one. However, you are the bird-brain who appears in every horror movie and who leaves band practise / their date / the local crack-house later than expected and, despite the pea-soup fog and the eerie music playing in the background, will proceed to take an ill-advised short cut through the local cemetery ... the creepy, lonely one at the ass-end of town, right next to the dark woods, the one with all the legends surrounding it about some teenagers got chopped up by a bunch of psycho-cannibals. Naturally you will be in footwear inappropriate to trudging through cemeteries and this will lead to falling down and ricking an ankle, hence allowing the werewolf/vampire/psycho chasing you plenty of time to catch up. You are not Buffy Summers. You are not cut out for hanging around in lonely, creepy, monster-infested cemeteries. Therefore you are a goner. You will die horribly. And it's your own damn fault, you should have stuck to the beaten path.

2. The Curse Of Being The Second Banana. You are the tough, wise-cracking best friend of the leading female character, often kind of cute in that tomboyish way, and maybe even openly gay if the movie is trying really hard to be hip and inclusive. Usually you are destined to die a gruesome but heroic death in the last third of the movie, often whilst attempting to save the ass of the best friend ( which ass you have been secretly coveting for the entire movie ) or less often the ass of her entirely worthless boyfriend ( which ass you have openly been longing to hand to a demon for the entire movie ) but take heart. Your career may stall at playing this Second Banana but you will always have a loyal following amongst the lesbians. It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharpened ax.

3. The Unkillable Killer. When you see the guy in the hockey mask, the one lugging the ax /machete / chainsaw over his shoulder, there is but one thing to do: RUN AWAY. It does not matter what you inflict upon this guy, you can shoot him, stab him, set fire to him, hell, you can throw him from the top of the Empire State building, it might slow him down but it won't kill him. He'll be back. They always come back. I mean, if you could kill him, where would the sequel and the franchise be in that?

4. Just When You Thought It Was Safe ... it isn't. Please recall the above regarding unkillable killers. But you'll forget, won't you? Not five minutes after the blood has been mopped up and the last ripped-off limbs have been tidied away, you'll be right back in the water/woods/creepy summer camp, leaving yourself open to being hacked to pieces by that not-dead-at-all grinning maniac or dragged to hell by some seriously twisted tree roots. Oh well, you didn't learn. You deserve to die also.

5. Put That Chainsaw Down, You'll Have Someone's Eye Out. Seriously, it might look cool, running around waving a chainsaw and screaming like a banshee, but chainsaws are dangerous things. The unskilled should stick to shotguns, flaming torches, and anything sharp and stabby, and leave the chainsaws to the professionals. Otherwise you're just going to wind up cutting your own hands off and it's kind of hard to fight a zombie horde with no freaking hands. Trust me.

6. You've Got To Have Tits n Ass. It's a horror movie. The audience will be largely made up by horny, sticky little teenagers and a few serious weirdoes lurking up the back. Therefore there will be tit n ass. Be prepared to run naked down a beach, all your bits jiggling, and throw yourself into a body of water beneath which will be lurking something much worse than a back-row weirdo. If you possess particularly impressive jiggly bits you may get to play The Slut and will spend the first third of the movie shagging your way through the male cast ( and maybe one female cast member if it's that determinedly hip and inclusive movie you happen to be in ) only to become one of the first grisly casualties. Because if there is one thing the grinning psycho dislikes it's teenage sex. Being skewered whilst shagging Kevin Bacon might not earn you any Oscars but the teenagers and the back-row weirdoes will love it. Or anyone who's ever had a hankering to skewer Kevin Bacon.

7. Last Woman Standing. This is possibly the most coveted role in horror movies for actresses. You get to be tough and glamorous, able to spend a whole day and night plunging through woods in West Virginia ( I honestly don't know why anyone ever goes to Virginia anymore, the place is crawling with inbred psycho-cannibals according to Hollywood! ), and fight off a family of cannibals, and still come out of it with your lipstick intact. Even the torn clothing and the little smears of blood and dirt on your face will look adorably sexy on you. The downside to landing this coveted role is that you may get stuck with it for some considerable time. Horror movies are franchise favorites and you may wind up wondering why you ever tried out for that role when you're doing 'Friday The 13th Part 45'.