Insidious: A well made retread

I feel like since I was given tickets to a pre-screening the movie Insidious, I have an obligation to review it. 

When I first saw that scary lady, she made me laugh.

Insidious does something very few horror movies tend to do: it doesn’t hit an extreme.  I tend to absolutely love horror movies because they do what they wanted to do well, or I think they’re terrible, although often to the point where they are still funny.

Insidious didn’t blow me away, but then again, it wasn’t a bad movie.

Horror is a strange genre: everyone likes something different.  So let me list my favourite horror movies, to give you an idea of my taste:

  • 5 – Child’s Play
  • 4 – The Ring
  • 3 – The Omen
  • 2 – The Grudge
  • 1 – The Exorcist

So, if they had put “the” in the title, it probably would have knocked Child’s Play off the list.  Seriously though, I tend to go for more of a quiet but epic menace over a slasher.  I liked the first Friday the 13th, but after Jason Vorhees became real in Part 2, I lost interest.  I enjoyed Halloween and Halloween 2, but after that they stopped exploring the mythology, and I stopped caring.

I seem to remember liking Scream, but not enough that I remember ever going back.    I also remember liking I Know What You Did Last Summer, but I don’t know if that was about the movie…

There's a killer in this movie, right? Something is happening to make her run? Meh, who cares. Run, Jennifer, run!

But this isn’t about how I feel about all horror movies ever.  It’s about Insidious.

So, there’s nothing really new or unique about the story of concept of this movie.  It is a mish-mash of Amnityville, Poltergiest, and The Exorcist.  Those are all great movies, and even Shakespere didn’t have original ideas.  I don’t really fault them for that.  For me, it’s not about how original the idea is as how well it’s pressented.

The visuals in the movie were top notch, and I’m not just talking about Rose Byrne.

Although she certainly didn't hurt the film

It looked good.  The shots were well composed, the sets were beautiful, and the monsters, except for the old lady, were great.  The Man with Fire on His Face was the best, and they never showed you all of him at once.  You got a good look at his eye, or his claws, or a quick shot of him, but never enough to ruin his mystery.

The sound design was great too, and one of the movies greatest strengths.  The movie kept setting the atmosphere with expertly composed and placed music and sound.  It could spin the mood like a bad feeling in your gut, or make the world seem surreal.  It was unobstrusive, and you had to almost be listening for it.

One of the best things the movie did was it showed you exactly how it was going to do its jump scares, those moments where it suddenly shows you a horrifing image to make you jump in your seat.  The first several were done exactly the same way, and you fell into a pattern.  You knew when the were coming.

That’s when they changed.  They would come sooner or later than expected, and it worked so well.  Kodie jumped, and he hasn’t jumped at a scary movie since 1985.

But if you are like Kodie, and you’ve been watching horror movies since VCRs were new and neat, then you may have limited milage in this movie.  You’ve seen all the individual pieces before, in better, tighter movies.  There’s nothing wrong with Insidious, but it doesn’t really add much to the genre’s landscape.  People won’t be talking about this for years to come.  It’s going to fade into the same sort of obscurity that Bless This Child reached.  There’s nothing about it that will stay with you.

If you’re a horror fan, you’ll enjoy it, but you may not remember it.

Los Chilitos

I can never remember the name of Los Chilitos, which is on 17th Ave near 14th Street in SW Calgary, but I’ve been obsessed with it since the first day I saw it.  Tequila and Taco House?  That’s awesome!  I usually call it Tequila and Taco House, which is the most awesome name in all of nomenclature.  That’s just unbelievably cool.

Somewhere, Leonard’s metal chin is rusting with drool thinking of this place.  When I was in Japan with her, she needed to eat tacos at least every two days.  Do you know how hard it is to find tacos in Japan?  There’s no Tequila and Taco houses there!  A2 can empathize.  Aparently she did the same thing through all of Europe.  Well, guess what, Leonard?  There’s a Tequilla and Taco house near my house, and you can’t come because you ate too many tacos in Japan, and wouldn’t even try tako.

You may not be able to tell from that picture, but Los Chilitos looks like a house set way back on its lot, with an enormous two story patio.  There’s more space outside than inside.  It’s a really nice patio with a really nice view.  You know how some Mexican restaurants feel like they’re owned by a chain, and some feel like they’re owned by a family?  Los Chilitos just oozes authenticity. 

Tall and I went one sunny afternoon, because he loves to eat and he loves to help.  The drink menu impressed me, and I couldn’t resist the mohito.

I don't think it's a gay drink.

Do you see that?  Real mint leaves crushed in there.  It was frigid and delicous.  It is porbably the best mohito I’ve ever had, and I’ve had over three.

Tall loved that his Coke came in a glass bottle.  He usually hates Coke, being very devouted to Pepsi.  He tastes the difference easily, and for a Coke to do well by him is an amazing feet.  Perfect temperature, and perfect presentation.

Honestly, it didn’t seem like things could get better. 

Then our food came

Those tacos there, they were amazing.  And I got both the red salsa, and the green salsa.  Green salsa is the super spicy salsa.  I love the taste, but it’s too hot for me most of the time.  Having both let me use just a little bit as needed.  This is one of the best tacos I’ve ever had, and I’ve had over 300 tacos.  Most of those are since meeting Leonard.

Tall’s burito was just as good.  Tall couldn’t find anything to complain about with it.  Tall loves to complain about food.  He loves it as much as eating food and helping.  It’s his favourite thing in the world.  He could find no fault in this burito.  That means it was aboslutely perfect.  Nothing was wrong, or he would have brought it up. 

Then it started to rain a little bit.  Our waiter appeared, and told us he had prepared a table for us inside when he saw the clouds forming.  He didn’t want us to have soggy food, and as soon as the first drops hit, he was there to help us.

Waiters have a hard job.  They have to juggle all kinds of tables, and make sure food comes out, and everyone is happy.  There’s a certain amount of forethought the job requires, but usually you do the basics by route and save your energy to solve problems with angry customers.

But this guy, he solved problems before they happened.  He was ready to help us out as soon as he thought there could be a problem.  The rest of the servers were cute girls, with asses like onions; they brought a tear to your eye, and you were in no way sad.  This guy was so good, he was better than that. 

Yeah, this dude was better than cute girls.  He was amazing.  I think he might be the owner, and if he is, this place will do well.  They have a man who not only understands good customer service, but goes above and beyond to provide great customer service.

And inside is pretty cool too:

Smiley faces protect the identities of the innocent

When our bill came, it was really good.  We had eaten amazing meals in a great place, with excellent service.  The prices were what you’d pay in any causual dining restaurant, but this was one of the best meals out in my life. 

I love this place.  If you want to throw me a party, or thank me for something, or impress me, take me to Los Chilitos.  It’ll put me in a great mood, to be sure.

************************************************************************************

Rating: 5 Stars

Food Star: Excellent, a superb taco.

Drink Star: Fresh mint in the mohito!  YES!

Atmosphere Star: Spot on.

Staff Star: Greatest waiter ever.

Price Star: Worth so much more than we were charged for

Tall’s Rating: 5 Stars.  From Tall.  He found nothing to complain about.

Watchman’s Pub

Watchman’s Pub is just down the street from my apartment.  It’s a rarity on 17th Ave, much like Morgan’s Pub.  Both these places are real. 

By contrast, most of 17th is trying to be ironically classy, and the understanding of irony is about as good as their understanding of classy.  Neither is really all that good.  Classy is usually attempted by setting high prices, acting snobby, and overdoing their ultra modern decorations and menu choices.  They then try too hard to be ironic by acting contemptuous of their self-created surroundings, not worrying about dress codes for staff or customers, and acting like they were forced into a strange, expensive menu.  It blends into an expense poser mess, failing to achieve either goal. 

Watchman’s deserves respect because they just are who they are.  It’s a local pub, with just the right amount of dive bar to be charming without being scary.  They’ve got a great patio for people watching,

and the interior is such a classic pub; wood panel walls and a big central bar. 

When I came in, the crowd was perfect.  Some beer-league team shared pitchers in one corner.  Two old guys argued in a language I couldn’t place.  Some guy sat alone nursing a broken heart and a Budweiser.  Another dud had a scotch and a news paper. 

I knew I had to come here to write.  It’s the sort of place where you can sip a beer and a whiskey and pretend you’re just like Hemingway. 

…if whiskey didn’t make me sick… 

It’s a casual, seat yourself sort of place.  I was barely on my stool when the waitress popped out of nowhere, like an impatient gopher.  Literally, sit, BAM waitress. 

She was either bored or really into me, and couldn’t wait to show me what a great girlfriend she’d make with her beer and food getting skills.  I’m pretty sure it’s the second one, and cute girls who bring me beer are much cuter than those who are too busy already having boyfriends who aren’t me. 

Those girls are jerks. 

I tried the Watchman’s house draft.  It was terrible.  I think maybe some drunk took a bitter pee in a rain barrel.  It was definitely more on the dive bar ascetic than the neighborhood pub, and while it got more drinkable as the glass got emptier, next time I’ll order something I know.  But I drank the whole thing.  And it got better as it went.  I became more and more forgiving.  It wasn’t as bad as I first thought.  It just shouldn’t be your first beer.  You drink it third, when your taste is a little dulled.  It doesn’t sit well with a sober tongue, but it’s not that bad as the night goes on.  I mean, I kept drinking it.

Considering how very pub the place was, I decided to go with the fish and chips.  I almost gave them a full food star, when I realized my meal was just alright.  Sometimes, I forget that Calgary is a long way from the ocean.

A real map. From a map store.

 

I also forget what good fish and chips should taste like.  Honestly, you get Captain Highliner Imitation Fish Paddies at so many of the restaurants in the city I  fool myself into thinking tolerable fish is good. 

This man does not make food.

 These were real fish and chips.  They were good.  They weren’t great, but they were good.  And, I didn’t notice at first, but…

They came on a fish plate!

Then the bill came.  It was a great surprise, in that is was super low.  Like couch change low.  So I tipped the waitress 100 percent and promised myself I’d be back. 

This is really a great place.  Sure, I bitch, but I like Watchman’s a lot.  You really need to check it out.

************************************************************************************ 

Final Ratings: 4 Stars 

1/2 Drink Star: The beer was bad, but I wasn’t offended, because it suited the place.  I just wish I hadn’t tried it. 

1/2 Food Star: 1/2 Because they should make good fish and chips in a cool pub, and these were just … okay. 

Staff Star: Attentive and cute.  She was amazing, and made up for the problems I had with the product. 

Atmosphere Star: So cool.  Exactly what I wanted and needed. 

Price Star: Almost derserves two price stars.  Seriously, you get way more than you pay for here.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

 

 

I went to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World this weekend with Kodie and Shawn.  Because it was opening weekend, we went rather early.  Shawn is now pretty deep in the world of comics these days, and in case you didn’t know: 

 

Scott Pilgrim was a comic first.  Shawn was pretty certain with the limited screens playing the movie, it would be tough to get tickets. 

These fears turned out to be unfounded.  The audience seemed made up of two groups: fans of the indy comic it was based on, and Michael Cera fans.  Michael Cera has a lot more fans than the comic, because who hasn’t seen Juno, or have some friend that constantly bemoans the cancellation of Arrested Development, like it was the holy grail of television programming, and there has never and will never be a better sitcom. 

Didn’t they ever see News Radio? That’s the best sitcom ever.

  

I absolutely loved this movie, but I doubt that will be common.  As we were walking out, people all around us had a great time, but also seemed confused.  I over heard three separate hipsters mutter about how they didn’t get it.  How often do hipsters admit that?  Even Kodie had a little trouble wrapping his head around it. 

While I haven’t read the original comic, I did spend a lot of years at University studying English, so I’m pretty good at understanding how a story works.  I’m not saying I’m smarter than people who didn’t get it, just that I have the training to spot what was going on.  See the movie worked on a conceit, an extended metaphor.  What happened on screen meant something else, and it never explains itself explicitly.  

The basic plot is that Scott, a slacker bass player in a no-name band, starts dating Ramona Flowers, who is the girl of his dreams.  Literally.  The first time he sees her, he’s dreaming and he hasn’t met her yet.  In order to date her, he needs to defeat her seven evil exes, and each one is like a boss battle out of a video game. 

The movie is beautiful, the fight scenes are great, and it’s really funny.  Even if you don’t entirely get what’s going on, it’s a hell of a fun watch.  Kodie’s favourite part is that it’s set in Toronto, and very Canadian, from CBC t-shirts to the self-depreciatory national humour.  They also do a very cool thing with the pacing of the movie.  How Scott feels about things changes the way the cuts are done.  When he’s spaced out and ignoring the world, you’ll suddenly be snapped into a situation, and Scott is more confused than the audience.  When things are great for him, days fly by in seconds.  When things suck, time drags itself out.  I do recommend it to anyone. 

While this is kind of a romantic comedy, it’s great in how human it remains.  See, Scott is kind of a douchebag.  He has major flaws, and the reason he doesn’t have a girl friend is because he fucks things up.  He’s not the standard Michael Cera character who’s a great guy who chicks just don’t notice.  He says and does stupid things, and a lot of his problems are his own fault. 

Now, this next part isn’t really spoilers.  It’s my explanation for that extended metaphor, and if you’d rather watch the movie and try and figure it out for yourself, stop reading here. 

Okay, so here’s how it works; every battle is Scott dealing with his issues.  He’s got to overcome how he stacks up with her first boyfriend, the boyfriend who does all the things he can’t, the boyfriend who does everything he wants to do better, and issues like that.  The magnitude of each fight is based on how much trouble he has overcoming the problem.  Usually, Ramona needs to explain herself for him to move past an issue, but even that isn’t always enough. 

I think I know how I got this, when a lot of people seemed to miss it.  It’s not just the English training.  It’s also the fact that I process emotions in a similar way.  Lina often laughs at the way I apply rules and systems to a chaotic world to make sense of things, as if there’s an underlying order if you can just figure it out through the static.  Scott does the same thing by looking at his problem through the lens of a video game, where there are bosses to beat, points and powerups to collect, and a set end point he believes he can achieve to have beaten the game. 

I’m not saying that I ever imagine fighting my girlfriends exes in my mind’s eye, or craft huge narrative in the back of my head.  I mean, that would be crazy, right?  I certainly don’t do exactly what Scott’s doing in the movie.  At all.  That would be weird.  Right?  Cause I don’t do that. 

And the fights aren’t awesome and epic.  I don’t feel so good when I finally trounce those opponents, usually when I don’t care about who or what they were.  They totally don’t make amazing stories I wish I could represent visually, or even share without a whole bunch of masking so that no one nows. 

…AT ALL.

This Late Late Breakfast Show

The Late Late Breakfast Show

I’ve mentioned the Late Late Breakfast Show before, in this blog.  There’s a show next week, and I really think you should all attend if you happen to be in Calgary.

I mostly think that because I have a couple of sketches in this one.  I’m not sure if I can tell you what they’re called, and I’m not going to damage my relationship with the show by giving away anything.

I mean, I assume you’re here because you like my writing.  Well, see how much better it is when actors read it.  You may not think that’s possible.  I understand how you’d get that impression, buy you, sir, are wrong.

Of course, maybe you’re just here to see me fail.  Well, fuck you.  If you don’t like my sketches, it’s because the actors ruined it.

Or you’re stupid, because the actors are cool and talented and know where I live.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Late Late Breakfast show is a sketch show that’s about an hour to an hour and a half long.  In their own words:

Laughter… The best medicine… You know, other than medicine…
The Late, Late Breakfast Show presents four evenings of sketch comedy filled with a pants-wetting array of sketches, songs, and dancing… Warning: The Late, Late Breakfast Show is not responsible for any injuries sustained during the show whilst chuckling, giggling, or heartily guffawing.
 
It goes up next week.  From Wednesday, August 18th, to Saturday, August 21st, there’s a show each night at 8pm.  Tickets are $14 each, and are sold at the door, cash only.  There’s an extra late show at 10 pm on Friday and Saturday, which is 2 for $15.
 
They’re playing at the Motel theatre in the Epcor Centre for the performing arts at 205 8th Street Southwest.

Happy Wackin’ Jim McCrackin

This time, I’m not even going to pretend this is a review.  This is a straight out plug for Happy Wackin’ Jim McCrackin, a show being put on by a theatre company my sister Kim is involved in called Accidental Humour.  Remember, kids, humour has two “u”s.  

Kim is, as I understand it, one of the founding members.  Based on a long phone conversation we had in January, their basic mandate seems to be to question what is currently considered Canadian theatre.  Basically, to carry the label, a play generally needs to be about what it means to be different in Canada, and how individuals suffer for it.  It’s about what it’s like to be a hyphen Canadian, like an Asian-Canadian, or a First Nations-Canadian, or a Fill in the Blank-Canadian.  Our theatre is about guilt for how the European-Canadians have treated all the other hyphens, and how we should feel guilty about it.  

Which isn’t necessarily untrue.  I love Sharon Pollock’s  plays, which are very specifically exposures of the revisionist tendencies in Canadian history to match our perceived national identity.  If you want that translated out of “Joey is a prick with a degree”, it means she shows us we aren’t who we think we are, and Canadians have really been jerks.  Sometimes that needs brought up, but if you are a European-Canadian, and not one of the oppressed ones from Eastern European or Ireland, Canadian plays are telling you about how badly your people treated the other hyphens.

As the descendants of the British and the Swiss, it can get to be a heavy load of guilt, and it’s easier to go to Shakespeare or Improv where no one expects an apology because of something our ancestors may have been involved in.  There’s nothing wrong with telling these stories, but maybe, every once in a while, we could have a Canadian play that’s main theme isn’t about what makes us different. 

Maybe it should be about things we enjoy.  We’re Canadians, and the things we like should entertain other Canadians.  It shouldn’t be about some bigger cultural mosaic issue.  Sometimes, Canadian plays can be about Canada today, not what someone’s grandpa did to your grandpa or how it was hard to look different from the other kids growing up.  I’m as white as they come, but no one wants to watch my play about how hard it was growing up as a Geek-Canadian, with pants that were too short and an interest in science fiction and fantasy.

Accidental Humours other mandate is to include multi media in their productions.  This isn’t used in a Brechtian sense, to remind the audience that what they’re seeing isn’t real.  It’s used to show parts of the story that are difficult to put on stage or to cover up the time it takes to change sets or costumes, or other … theatre things.  I saw it in their last play, For Love of a Zombie.

It’s more like watching a movie.  Normally, when the technical demands of theatre would put a pause in the action, you’re watching more story on the screen.  It shortens the run time, packs in more of a punch, and often has really interesting transitions.

And unless you were involved in zombie romance, you weren’t asked to feel guilty.  If you were involved in a zombie romance, you should feel guilty, and ewwwww.

While I haven’t seen Happy Wackin’ Jim McCrackin, I heard a lot of the early stages.  Amos wrote it in our apartment, and it was good when the workshopping started.  It’s the story of a professional hitman on his last job, and some of the problems that arise out of it.  There was a gay cat at one point, but I think that might be gone now.  Still, it was really funny when I heard the start, and had some awesome action sequences.  It’ll be even better now, as it’ll be further down the line, with more minds increasing its brilliance.  It’s theatre for the masses, and you don’t need to know words like Brechtian to enjoy it.  If you do, you’ll enjoy it too.  It’s a smart action play. 

As opposed to all those mindless action plays….

I wish I had a chance to see it when it all came together, but I’ll be in England, and I can’t say that I’m really feeling the European guilt that leads to an apology on that.  If I wasn’t travelling intercontinentally, I’d definitely be seeing this show, and if you’re going to be at the Edmonton Fringe you should definitely check it out. 

If you’re not going to the Edmonton Fringe you should reconsider, because it’s awesome.

Unless you’re in England.  Then you get a pass.

***************************************************************

“Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin,” at the Fringe!  Venue #5 – King Edward School, 8530 101 Street
Show times:
August 13 @ 12:15 pm
August 14 @ 6:30 pm
August 15 @ 9:15 pm
August 20 @ 2:15 pm
August 21 @ 11:00 pm
August 22 @ 4:00 pm

If you’re there, be sure to check out to check out An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder as well.

An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Some might say its unethical to promote work done by your friends as an impartial view. I’m certain literary critics are friends with authors and that Ebert probably eats with Spielberg and Bruckheimer. So you can go talk to them about integrity. Besides, I’m being upfront about the fact that I’m friends with Gavin Williams.  

I'll steal his promotional images to promote his play

  

That doesn’t change the fact that his An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder is a great play. In 2007 it won the Calgary Regional One Act Play Festival.  And the Alberta One Act Play Festival.  That means someone more impartial than me liked it best of all the other one acts. When I saw it at Loose Moose, there was a featurette attached called “The Receptionist” Lindsay Mullan performed physical comedy for about 10 minutes, alone on the stage with a single word of clearly audible dialogue. She was fascinating, bouncing around with unbounded energy, and every time I was certain there was nothing more that could be done with a strange and lonely receptionist, I was both wrong and entertained.Once Lindsay’s piece ended, the main play took to the stage. Gavin wrote, co-directed, and played to protagonist in “An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder” so I feel very comfortable calling it his. It follows how one is hired, disillusioned, and stays with a terrible job in a huge company, tempered with Gavin’s caustic wit.

 The cast was perfect. All three members slipped in and out of the various roles assigned to them with ease. You never needed to guess who they were at any give point, as their demeanour and body language suited each role so completely.

The set was simple and functional, as this is very much a one act festival piece. Everything was basic and multifunctional, so it was easy to set up and strike the set.

The eerie part of the play is how well it predicts life with a corporation. It touches on every annoying aspect of that world, every justification you make to stay, every frustration that makes it nearly intolerable, and every shred of futile hope which paralyzes you into inaction. Kodie ended up with the exact same terrible shame as I did for making every one of the mistakes hi lighted in the play. We were entertained the whole way through, and harrowed when we really thought about the content of the piece. Basically, if you watch this play, you will want to quit your job.

 Of course, afterwards, when I told Gavin that, he told me the real message was “Joey, kill yourself.” That explains why he looked directly at me several times throughout and whispered those words, but I guess I missed the real message.

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If you missed the show here in Calgary, you’re not out of luck!  Gavin’s taking it to the Edmonton Fringe Festival.  It’s the coolest theatre event in Alberta.  For more shameless plugs/shows I would definately see, check out Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin. You’ll here more about this play from me next week.

Body Worlds

During Leonard’s Visit we decided to go to Body Worlds.  If you’re unfamiliar, let me explain a little more about this exhibit.

 

Dr. Gunther von Hagens invented the process of plastination in 1979.  Basically, it’s a way to preserve flesh by sealing it permanently in plastic.  It doesn’t rot or smell, it just lasts forever.  In 1995, an exhibit showcasing this technique, called Body Worlds, opened in Tokyo, and there are several travelling exhibits showcasing the technology and using it to teach anatomy.

In Calgary, it’s at the TELUS World of Science until September 6th.

Leonard, Tall and I went one Sunday afternoon.  Admission is a bit steep, at $30 per head, plus an additional $5 if you want to see the educational film and an extra charge if you want the headphone guide.  I didn’t get the headphones, and I’m pretty sure I’m not missing out there.  If it wasn’t for the relatively unique nature of the exhibit, I probably wouldn’t have paid that much.  There are very few similar shows, and I’ve got some concerns with those that I’ll get into in a moment.

Most of the displays show individual plasticinated organs or systems, such as lungs, hearts, or the nervous system.  There are also cross sections of people.  They tend to show healthy individuals, and contrast those to the effects of obesity or tumours.

Plastination leaves behind a hard replica, which is in all ways indistinguishable from a plastic model.  If you don’t remind yourself that these are the real deal, it starts to become boring.  You almost need to focus on the grotesque, or be really into science.

When I was a kid, I was really into dinosaurs.  Stettler isn’t far from Drumheller, which has the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Okay, I'm still into dinosaurs...

  By the time I was five, I understood the displays weren’t real dinosaur bones.  Those were too special to leave out.  The bones you walk by are plaster casts of the real things.  It never diminished my enjoyment, or learning, or wonderment of dinosaurs.

Body Worlds, for the most part, could have just been plastic models and it would have been the same for me.

What I really enjoyed was the full body plastinoids.

These were bodies which had their skin removed, and were then posed to show how muscles work together, or how organs interact.  They were unique, and fascinating, and the worth the price of admission.

The $5 film was not.  It was a C Grade documentary that had little education value if you were over ten years old, and even less to do with Body Worlds.  As in nothing to do with it.  It was just tacked on, and should be avoided.

The most interesting thing to me was the consent form.  The biggest controversy I have heard around the exhibit is about the consent of the subjects.  I know a similar show, Our Body, was shut down in France when the consent or source of the bodies could not be produced.  The bodies in this exhibit appear to have come from executed Chinese prisoners.  While Body Worlds has faced similar criticism, their website contains very specific information of both the accusations against them, and how they were erroneous and defended in court when necessary.

S2 saw a Body World Exhibit in New York, and was disturbed by the foetuses included.  When I reached this section of the exhibit, I read very carefully to determine the source of these specimens.  They were donations from older medical collections from universities and all predated the 1920s.  While this makes consent even more of a question, the age of the specimens makes it rather difficult to do anything about it.

Other controversies surround whether or not the exhibit is morally decent or in good taste, usually from religious figures or politicians.  I really don’t believe that this is a question, considering the consent form.  It is really in-depth.  Those wishing to donate need to be 18.  They need to indicate they understood some considered this more of an artistic exhibit than a scientific one.  Donors had the option to be seen only by medical and biology students at accredited institutions, or to be seen by the general public.  They chose whether or not exhibit visitors had permission to touch their remains.  They chose if they wanted to be full body plastinoids, or displayed in pieces.  Finally, the form stated the family could override your choice to donate and to ensure they were aware of your terminal wishes.

Based on this form, the individuals and families were fully aware of what happens when you donate to Dr. von Hagens.  If a church or a politician doesn’t agree, they don’t have to see the show, but they shouldn’t be shutting it down based on the fact that they wouldn’t donate.

I hesitate to recommend the show.  If you’re interested in the science or art of it, because it’s both, then you really should see it.  However, if you think you’ll be offended, you probably will, and you’re better saving your thirty dollars.  It’s not a life changing experience, just an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Miniblog: Inception

Amos might be a bit of a movie snob.  He doesn’t think D.E.B.S. is a good movie.  Sure, the box art doesn’t lead you to expect much:

Is this porn?

And sure, it might look like porn.  In fact, the first time I watched it, about 5 minutes in, I was disappointed that it wasn’t.  But then it turned out to be good, and everyone but Amos agrees.

Amos is the sort of individual who can tell you who won what Oscar in which year.  Off the top of his head.  Movie snob…

When he was excited about Inception, I was worried.  Maybe the movie was too much for my pop culture riddled brain.  But then again, it looks so cool:

YES!

If you haven’t seen a trailer for this movie, go watch one.  Trust me, it won’t give away anything.  The basic concept of the movie is hard to explain in a trailer, so you won’t end up spoiling the best parts.

Basically, the film is about people who steal from dreams using some kind of briefcase macguffin they never really explain, but for once they’re planting an idea instead of taking one.  There’s more to it, and all the ideas are pretty solid, as long as you accept that for this movie, you can go into other people’s dreams.  As it goes on, it get’s cooler and cooler.  Leonardo Dicaprio is the lead, and characterwise is probably the least interesting, but his plot makes up for his dullness.

The kid from Third Rock From the Sun (you’d have to ask Amos his name) does a great job.

But castwise, my favourite part was Ellen Page playing an adult:

Not a minor!

That is a beautiful woman, and even though she’s of age in say, Juno, there’s still a level of creepy when you’re attracted to her and she’s pretending to be 16.  So, as a college student, I don’t need to feel bad about the fact that she’s hot.

But the strength of this movie lies in the plot and its perfect execution.  The ideas are really interesting, and they show them in a visually stunning manner.  I don’t want to give this movie away.  You have to see it.  Imagine the Matrix was actually deep, or if Donnie Darko had zero gravity kung fu fights.

Go see this movie.

Miniblog: World Cup

Due to extreme technical difficulties, I’m unable to post a full blog today.  I know the world was waiting with baited breath, and I apologize, but it may be touch and go while I work on getting my computer at home back online.

In the mean time: World Cup.  Chris asked me what World Cup was like up in Canada, and the 2010 is different than any previous World Cup.  Soccer just didn’t happen in Canada before.  It probably doesn’t help that the highest Team Canada has ever ranked is 40th and that was in 1996.  People here just didn’t follow Soccer, not enough for it to be on TV or anything.  They had to read it in the back of the sports section, and it’s hard to get behind that.

But since the 2006 there’s been changes in the way people do information.  With YouTube and the Internet, Canadians can follow foreign teams, fandom usually based on whatever boat their parents came over on, and follow the sport.  With digital and satellite channels offering packages with over 20 sports channels, those channels need something to fill the time when there’s no more hockey and curling, and so they go to soccer.  It’s actually possible to follow FIFA in Canada now.

So this year, bars are opening at 8 am to play games.  People are getting up early to see what’s happening in soccer, and drinking as soon as these games starts.  They’re cheering on teams based on whatever connection they can find, and desperately seeking paraphilia.  Having an official anything makes you a big deal. People cheer when a goal is scored, but apart from the hour, it’s really not looking much different than a busy night at the pub, but people disperse at the games end. Also, 8am drinking.   It’s almost enough to get me to actively follow the sport.

Because you’re not a drunk, you’re just a soccer fan.

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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