I suppose most Western nations have experienced some type of anti-Islamic/xenophobic/right-wing epidemic post-9/11. Sweden, my home, is no different. The largest Nationalist party, Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats, or SD), has led a fairly marginal existance for years, ignored by media and most voters. The 2006 election, however, changed all that. Although they did not attain the necessary 4% of national votes to enter parliament, they were locally very successful; in some areas in the south (which is where I live), they were the third largest party, behind the Conservatives and the Social Democrats. (There are currently seven parties in the Swedish parliament) SD's roots are deep in the White Power-movement of the 80's. In recent years, they've tried to disguise themselves as mere patriots, guardians of Swedish culture and welfare against outside enemies, and all the usual nonsense. The truth is, they have a violent history, and to this very day, links to Nazi groups in other nations. And here's what keeps me up at night: Recent polls among voters have given SD as much as 3,7% of national votes, a mere inch from parliament. Now, the next election is still two years away and many things can change, for better or worse. A part of me says it's a case of temporary insanity on a mass scale; that most SD-voters in fact vote AGAINST the political establishment rather than FOR SD. On the other hand, a vote is still a vote, no matter what your motivations may be. I just hope I'll never have to see the day when Fascists are allowed to influence the direction of national politics.
Life is weird. Anything can happen. So one day due to an incredible set of coincidences and events you might find yourself inside your TV in a generic serial killer horror Jason-esque movie. Here's a little guide of how to survive there:
1 - Don't have sex with anyone
In serial killer movies, whoever has sex gets killed first. That's a rule of thumb, probably created by Jason. Horror movies always have handsome actors and beautiful actresses playing complete nymphomaniacs, but you have to resist. Even if it's Jessica Alba. But if you think in that case it's worth dying for, well, I can't blame you.
2 - Don't do drugs
Junkies get killed right after nymphomaniacs. Rule of thumb number two.
3 - Kill whoever has better character development than you
Someone has to survive in the end of the movie. That person is usually the man or woman with the best lines and best character development. Kill her. Work your way up the ranking.
4 - Don't bother trying to find out who's the killer
Serial killer horror movies don't make any fucking sense nowadays. I mean, did you see the villain of "White Noise"? Yeah. Therefore, trying to find out who's the killer and slotting him before he slots you is useless. Try staying alive instead.
5 - If you hear a noise, STAY RIGHT THE FUCK WHERE YOU ARE
Don't do what most brain-dead characters do. "Mike? Was that you? Mike? C'mon, Mike, stop trying to scare me. Mike, it's not funny. M...AAAAAAAAAAAH!!". If you're lucky, the noise will be just a cute little animal. If you're unlucky, it'll still be a cute little animal. And two seconds after you breathe in relief, your throat will be slit by the actual killer sneaking up behind you.
6 - Don't be alone
Sitting alone in a living room with a killer on the loose is quite stunningly stupid. Find company. Preferably, a junkie or a nymphomaniac, to give you a head start when the killer shows up.
7 - Be nice
Audiences like watching a bastard being slaughtered, and most directors do too. So be nice to the characters, even to that typical muscle factory frat boy who acts obnoxiously and insults you every chance he gets. He'll be killed soon. Horribly. Unless, of course, he happens to be the hero of the movie and he goes through a five-minute-character-development from obnoxious frat boy to upstanding human being. In that case, follow rule number three.
Its no secret that I used to work in Biology, and took several courses on the subject. It has made me laugh, giddy and euphoric, and made me sob like the world was going to end.
Today I share with you the tale of the Frog that Would Not Die; inspired by Templesmith's twitter post linking to The Brain that Would Not Die.
I do not know where our frogs came from. They were leopard frogs, apparently wild-type, standard prey of biologists across the generations. We were to dissect them, monitor with fancy computers, electrodes and techno-gadgets, muscle responses, and Learn Things.
Durring the lab, several frogs kicked the bucket, as is expected when you have had your brain scrambled, and vital organs removed. By the end of the lab, everyone's frog was dead, but ours.
A skin, a head, heart and lungs was pretty much all that remained of this poor creature. Distressed that our animal continued to breathe and its heart beat, my lab partners and I beseeched our teacher to do something. We were told to wait a bit. A half hour passed, than an hour...
It continued to breathe, it's little heart continued to beat. We became increasingly upset. We demand the teacher do something. We asked about cruelty, and pain, and were informed that the animal could not feel pain, it's brain was scrambled, it was not suffering.
We poked the frog. We prodded it. We zapped it. Its heart continued to beat.
For a moment its heart stopped, and we held our breath, thinking: Now, now this poor animal has gone on to a better life... and as we exhaled in relief, the animal's heart began to beat again.
Finally our teacher sighed, told us to give him the frog. We expect him to kill it somehow, but instead, he just put the frog in a plastic bag, inside a garbage bag with the other dead frogs.
Its heart was still beating. It was still breathing; and while logic says the animal must be dead by now, several years later, some part of me thinks: Somewhere, in a plastic bio bag, is a frog. A frog that will not die.
I have a fear. We've seen a movie about Ray Charles, and it was quite flawed despite Jamie Foxx's amazing work. We've seen a movie about Johnny Cash, and that one was good, with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Whiterspoon on their best (I don't know how innacurate it is historically, though). We've seen a movie about Diana Ross and The Supremes, although the movie, Dreamgirls, claimed to be fictional (yeah, right). Oh, and it sucked. Terribly. We've seen a movie about Andy Kaufman, and it was good due to Jim Carrey and director Milos Forman (the same from the magnificent Amadeus).
My fear: that they'll make a movie about Bill Hicks and fuck it up.
Bill was, quite simply, the best human being I've ever seen. He meant what he said and he wasn't afraid of saying it. He broke taboos and opened people's eyes, including mine, and he would have done that so much more if cancer hadn't gotten on his way. So there's someone who deserves his life story on Cinema.
The problem is, Hollywood has an habit of fucking biographies. They change stuff for "dramatic purposes", which means "so the audience will feel more comfortable". A good example? Max Baer turned into a prick in "Cinderella Man", so James Braddock would look more heroic. Note: the script was co-written by Akiva Goldsman. Surprise, surprise.
I'm afraid of this. Hollywood, most of the time, can't take the truth, and they change it so it will be easier to digest. I hate that. Even when the result is beautiful, I hate that. Like in Donnie Brasco. When a character, knowing he'll die, says goodbye to his none-the-wiser wife, saying he'll go out, and when she turns her back he puts his things in a drawer for her to find later and goes out the door. In reality, the real life person represented by this character didn't die. It was someone related to him who did this. But that way it's more dramatic. And it is a beautiful scene. But I still don't like the alteration. And I fucking love Donnie Brasco.
I don't want to see that kind of thing in a movie about Bill Hicks. If there HAD to be a movie about Bill, then Peter Morgan (The Queen and The Last King of Scotland) should write it with John Cusack as Bill Hicks. Possible directors could be Ang Lee or Martin Scorsese. With that I believe there might be a chance of it doing justice to Bill.
But there's such a huge chance of Hollywood fucking it up, that I wish this will never happen.
So, Amsterdam is an amazing city where you can't take pictures of anything.
Thats is too say I have no shots from inside any of the Museums, no shots from inside the Anne Frank House, and I was not about to risk life and limb (or at least risk camera) using it in the Red Light District.
Kerri Finlayson was one of my teachers at NCMC; and taught the first class I took there when I was a wee, dual-enrolled highschooler. She's also one of the most intelligent people I have met, and is very kind, and thoughtful.
Right now she's biking across Africa on a trip from Jan 12- May 10.
I'm not the most sociable person in the world. Neither am I usually stand-offish or rude with people.
Walking up to total strangers in the street is not something that I do. The possible excuses being that I'm in too much of a hurry or I'm afraid of looking like more of a weirdo than I already view myself.
And walking is where this starts. I'm an inveterate pedestrian and public transport user. Today I was doing my pedestrian thing by walking the two miles from my home to Greenock town centre.
It was a pleasant day, the sun was shining and there was a bit of a friendly chill in the air. There were even a lot of people out walking their dogs.
Even the sun dazzling me at times didn't seem to bother me as much.
My route takes me past a primary school.
Today when I was passing, I see woman who must be in her fifties and coming the opposite way, smiling in my direction. I don't recognise her so my assumption is that there is someone walking behind me that she knows.
This smiling lady stops and says, "This place brought back memories."
What followed was a few minutes of this woman telling me her son went to this school and that it was terrible that money being spent on 'louts on methadone' could be used to maintain schools. Then she carried on her way.
It sounds like the conversation was quite negative, but this woman was smiled and pleasant all the time.
It actually had me smiling for quite some time after and made me wonder: why don't more people do that?
Visually, they found pretty much nothing in my innards to worry about. They took a few biopsies to look for Crohn's and Celiac, I'll be waiting a week on those. So.... another unenlightening test. In this case, no news is good news. But it also gives me no better idea what the hell is going on with my rebellious insides. Grr. Within a month or so, I think I will be moving to a new medical system to get a second opinion. But definately not a second colonoscopy. Ew ew ew ew ew...... that was hell.
At Christmas we took a vacation to an island called Dok-jeok-do. It's a summer haunt for people who want to get out of the city, so it was a bit strange being the only tourists around. I mean there was a hotel and everything, but it wasn't open. We didn't make any reservations or call ahead because A. We didn't speak Korean, B. Flying by the seat of my pants is just my style.
We got to the island and were greeted by one taxi, no signs of anywhere to stay and one road ominously leading off into the distance. Exercise is the heart of any adventure, so we started plodding on down the road. After a little while it didn't seem like we were going to run into any sort of civilization. Then this blue and white jeep appeared out of nowhere and pulled right up next to us. The man driving rolled down his window and asked (in Korean) if we speak Korean. We shook our heads in confusion. He continued to ask questions and yammer at us. Eventually it hit us that he was a policeman. He motions for us to get in and we crammed our bodies and bags in his teeny little jeep.
It really was a good thing he stopped, because it was a hell of a long way to the actual "town". Our wonderful benefactor took us to the police station where he happily made us cups of instant coffee to drink while he railed away on the telephone. A few more cups of the liquid sugar and he got us to get back in the jeep. Another long drive ensued, this time we stopped in front of a spa. Two older couples came out and looked us up and down. They argued with each other for a bit and eventually we got ushered into another vehicle and taken to their home, as they'd decided to take us in for the duration of our stay.