Archive for July, 2009

Presidential Hair – Wigs Don’t Count!

Posted in hair, politics, president on July 31, 2009 by jamesdrax

This is a re-post from another message board forum, but I’d like to share this with others who haven’t even thought about the crowning glory of the leaders of the “free world”.

5. George W. Bush

Flat and fine, but always maintained well with that trademark haircut he always had (in fact, I’m betting on my own hair looking rather similar when I’m his age since my pa has similar density). He has thicker hair than his old man, but Bush Sr.’s hair never receded any further back, rather it just stayed the same all through his adulthood to old age. Dubya has great hair for his age, but if John Kerry had won in 2004, he would have made it to third place on this list, beating out both Clinton and Obama.

4. Barack Obama

He’s always got that short fighter pilot look by cutting it to a No. 1, but he has a good hairline, and I wonder how he’d look if he grew it out. I’d imagine it’d be thick!

3. Bill Clinton

What a hairy bugger! No wonder the White House interns swooned for him.

2. John F. Kennedy

Kennedy hair never ceases to amaze me. Ted Kennedy still has a full head of hair for his age, though I’m not sure after his recent illness. Robert Kennedy had finer hair than his brothers, but still good. Jack’s thick locks and eye-brow level hairline were all part of his unique image as a handsome playboy.

1. Ronald Reagan



The Gipper retained a full head of hair even into his 90’s (as far as I know from a photograph I saw of him not long before he died). Dur
ing his Presidency, his hair was an American icon, he even used it as a weapon to defeat the Evil Soviet Empire! Who needs Star Wars technology when you have that head of hair?

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Top Favourite Film Composers – A New Twist

Posted in composers, film music, godzilla on July 30, 2009 by jamesdrax

Here I present my Top 5 film composers, where you may very well be surprised… or not. Let’s get this show on the road.

5. Akira Ifukube – from scoring so many Godzilla films, it was like a collaboration that was meant to last. Monster movies were his forte and I can’t imagine anyone else being able to patiently conjure up so many amazing themes and motifs to represent these fascinating movie monsters from Japan. Everything you hear of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Battra, Destroyah, are all completely distinguishable and melodic with not only a darkly hued menace, but also a sense of emotional expression of sympathy towards these tragic creatures of city destruction. He understood it all so well.

4. Christopher Young – you couldn’t drag me to or, heck, even raise me up from the depths of Hell to keep me away from the stirring, swirling gothic might of this composer’s horror musical majesty of sheer terror and imaginative beauty. From the hard rain covering murders at 1600 and even Elm Street, Young is an unforgettable urban legend of a species that just won’t stop the rapid fire of untracable torment.

3. James Horner – he could sink the Titanic with the overwhelming orchestral power of a Saturn V rocket. Critics say he can no longer brainstorm a new melody to save his last four feathers, but with an amazing avatar like his, even aliens and KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN can’t demolish his courage under fire.

2. Jerry Goldsmith – synthy rhythms, orchestral bombast and gentle delicacy is the magic that was conjured from this musical beast’s extra thick ponytail that could conduct an orchestra by itself with an icepick. Sometimes simple music, but often beautifully complex – a leviathan of work scoring the devil himself, nasty little creatures tearing your stereo apart, and damn dirty apes! Musically, he was the missing link in the swarm of film scoring variety. He knew what scares you, so you’ll never vanish into a coma.

1. John Barry – has handed the midas touch to James Bond, Frances Farmer, John Dunbar, Elsa the Lion Cub, and Howard the Duck. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t murder your friend, Mike, to have Barry score your exquisite piece of moviola! That would just be an indecent proposal at four in the morning.

Now… did I forget someone? Someone… bald. Wears a sporty black skivvy. I think he’s best known for being a guitar player.

Live and Let Harry Die

Posted in 007, alchemy, Harry Potter on July 23, 2009 by jamesdrax

Although I liked the film adaptation for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it still featured a lot of gag-worthy material that pissed me off, like Ginny’s obligatory moments of pointless routine boredom, and a confused script that again exposed Harry and Hermione’s friendship as a more interesting and textured aspect that “awwww”-d the audience I was with more than anything, but overall it actually made the novel seem good, which is an accomplishment in itself! Everything to do with Max Zorin… uh, I mean Draco Malfoy was perhaps the film’s highlight – that kid can act! Plus, Emma Watson is… a woman, she’s starting to remind me of Holly Goodhead from Moonraker for her beauty and brains – my powers of observation do me credit.

I’ll always consider the loss of the Harry/Hermione ship to be similar to how fans of the Superman films feel content that they’ll never get to see what Superman II would have really been like if Richard Donner had been allowed to fully complete it in 1980, regardless of the 2006 Dick Donner version that was still a bloody mess. I’m exhausted on the whole Pothead thing, I’ll give it a rest until Deathly Hallows: Part I is released in 2010 and oh god, there’s more after that!

In the meantime, if you, too, were frustrated by J.K. Rowling’s final pairings and you’re gutsy enough not to toe the purist line, or you were simply content with it but are still interested in the subject, you may find this old article analyzing the alchemical properties of the Potter characters to be very intriguing, which demonstrates how they made sense to many at the time, and why the ship still lives on. It’s pre-Deathly Hallows, but I believe it to be accurate and thorough even if Rowling never followed through.

Now moving on from this pointless endeavor into franchises that have never let me down, like James Bond, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek, and the king of the monsters himself, Godzilla! I wouldn’t mind seeing him make a mess of Hogwarts in a fan fiction crossover story.

Stories for Rowling’s Consideration

Posted in 007, Harry Potter on July 19, 2009 by jamesdrax

I’ve gotten pretty sick of J.K. Rowling’s meandering storytelling style that supposedly gets “darker” and more “brooding”, but ends up a pile of waste. Here are some stories of an older Harry she might want to consider.

From Beauxbatons With Love

After sending their kids off to Hogwarts, and replacing Hedwig with a macaw parrot, Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione all breathe a sigh of relief when they think it’s time to settle down, but after Harry receives a call from McG (codename for Professor McGonogall) to meet in her office, little does he realize the new adventure is just beginning. Harry is given a photograph of a beautiful blonde signed “From Beauxbatons With Love”, but both are being used by the new cult organization called M.A.R.V.E.L. (Magical Arm of Rivals from Voldemort’s Elder League) and the pair are pulled together in circumstances that involve a French encrypted pensieve containing secret memories, blade shoes with deadly potions, and a fair-haired henchman who looks like he has some Giant blood in him. Harry will have to explain himself to Ginny unless he doesn’t dispose of a certain film featuring himself and the pretty blonde in the bedroom.

The Wizard With the Golden Wand

After McG receives a golden miniature wand with “Harry Potter” etched into it, Harry goes to South East Asia to fight an evil wizard assassin named Scarafanga who has a peculiar wand made out of solid gold, who plans to harness a new magical energy from the sun. His henchman is a sex-crazed French house elf named Wink Wank who wants Harry to kill Scarafanga in a duel wand game to the death so that all can be his.

On His Minister’s Magical Secret Service

Voldemort has been resurrected again and plots a scheme to hypnotize the Muggle population to do his bidding as a race of Voldified zombies. His plan fails, so he kills Ginny in a fly-by zapping at the end.

The Witch Who Loved Me

Harry’s at his wit’s end after the death of his wife, Ginny, but his old best friend Hermione starts to drift from Ron while comforting Harry on his dark road of despair… which only lasts five minutes. At the request of McG, the pair go on a globe trotting adventure to investigate the hijacking of British and Bulgarian magical objects charged with the power of wiping out the human race. This one keeps the Hogwarts end up!

Ronraker

This is more or less a remake of Rupert Grint’s film Thunderpants, where a wealthy French wizard named Hugh Wax plans to launch broom-powered rockets into space with the aid of Ron’s magical gluttony abilities, in an attempt to engage his eugenics agenda by re-populating the Earth with blonde/blue-eyed purebloods. In this high octante adventure, Harry really takes Hermione around the world one more time!

For Your Wand Only

After Harry drops Voldemort from a booby-trapped broom 20,000 feet from the air, Hermione’s parents are brutally murdered on their holiday yaught. At first, she’s devastated, but soon goes on a revenge hunt for those responsible, and teamed with Harry, they find that a British pensieve has disappeared, which the Bulgarians are also after. The duo meet a pair of bumbling Euro-trash wizards who accuse one another of being the Bulgarians’ informant, but only one is telling the truth as Harry finds out with the help of some trusty old Veritaserum. Story ends with Harry and Hermione on their boat together with that annoying parrot when Harry gets a call on his wrist watch howler from McG that Prime Minister Harriet Jones wants to congratulate him on his success but in his disinterest because of Hermione de-robing and whispering “For your wand only, darling”, he plunks the howler watch in the parrot’s seed dish who keeps repeating “Give us a dementor’s kiss! Give us a dementor’s kiss!”

Redpussy

When McG requests Harry’s services, he attends an auction where a Faberge Cauldron sells for 100,000 galleons to an international magical object smuggler, and in connection, he meets a woman with red hair nicknamed Redpussy who reminds him of his dead wife, and this can only make Hermione jealous! A Bulgarian Minister of Magic is also up to no good in his own plot to set off a Muggle nuclear warhead loaded with magical minerals at Beauxbatons to plunge the entire the Wizarding World into total war with himself as the main benefactor. Harry has to chase down this bomb disguised as a clown at the Redpussy circus (this would have been a better job for Ron). Ends with the most spectacular magic carpet stunts imaginable as Harry clings on the rear to rescue Redpussy from the smugglers and crash the carpet (it’s all in the wrist). Hermione eventually understands Harry’s sudden attraction to Redpussy, they were an all time high!

A View to a Curse (alternate title – From a View to a Spell)

Draco Malfoy is up to his old tricks again, this time with the help of an eccentric African American witch named Mate Date, a woman of very few words, who coupled together plan to flood Diagon Alley from the Thames river so that Malfoy’s business investments in Bulgaria will skyrocket. Now it’s up to Harry, with the help of Hermione, who’s been studying up on her geology, to foil Malfoy’s plan of economic domination. Ends with a set piece of dangerous stunts on the top of the Tower Bridge where Harry and Hermione confront Malfoy’s Durmstrang-style flying ship, where a fight eschews and Draco plunges to his watery death. Afterward, Harry and Hermione “dance into the magic, from fatal spells to broken dreams”!

~~~

I promise, all of these story pitches are completely original.

So on my 24th birthday, I got…

Posted in barry humphries, birthday, dame edna, empire state building, les patterson on July 17, 2009 by jamesdrax

The Empire State Building?!

Wow! And it only took my six hours to build, although it ended up much bigger than I anticipated at a whopping 4 feet tall. Take that, depressed workers from the 1930’s! I’m not sure if I want to put a micro figure of King Kong holding a pretty blonde at the very top or install it with Dalek technology. Might add some effect.

To balance out the Americana, my brother got me Les Patterson Saves The World (1987) on DVD. I had this fillum on VHS years ago, but it was unfortunately lost, however the 2.35:1 framing on this DVD is a revelation as to how good it originally looked. This is truly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen; you have Barry Humphries playing two of his popular characters in the one film, the bumbling, misogynistic Australian Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Sir Leslie Colin Patterson, and Dame Edna Everage – even the cover looks like a James Bond movie! Patterson shows up to address the UN General Assembly drunk as a skunk and filled up on baked beans, causing him to fart in the direction of an Arab Ambassador, and with the aid of someone else’s cigarette lighter, you can imagine what happens next! You also have Joan Rivers as the US President (this film was ahead of its time!), which would make this fillum a great candidate to show to my US Studies colleagues to display some refined US/Australian relations from the 1980’s. Not to mention it has the gorgeous Pamela Stevenson with the fakest French accent, and this movie’s a work of comedy genius!

I can’t wait for my quarter-life crisis next July 16th. Instead of buying a sports car, perhaps I’ll build one.

The Shipping Terror – Why Rowling’s Final Pairings Suck

Posted in Harry Potter on July 11, 2009 by jamesdrax

Harry Potter now officially sucks balls.

This may seem odd for a guy, but I do get suckered into the whole shipping (relationships in fiction, for the uninitiated) aspect of a series of stories if I’m into it enough, not only because it’s important for character development, but it’s pretty damn fun too, although if you’re disappointed and the worst happens, it can ruin a franchise for you, for good.

From the time that I considered myself a full-time fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which was 2001 to 2005, perhaps the years 2003 and 2004 were the very best, the long awaited Order of the Phoenix delivered on so many satisfying levels despite its overbearing length, and the film adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban left me one happy little Potterfan. I couldn’t help noticing that other fans liked going on internet message boards and discussing their ideas about the future books. You had the “Who Will Die?” threads, the “What Did They Mean?” threads, the “Whose Wand is Bigger Than Who’s” threads, but there was no hotter topic than the “Who Will Fall In Love With Whom?” threads; you looked at one that was 150 pages long, then look at it again the next day, but it was a new thread already up to the 58th page. I cannot overstate how this particular aspect of the Harry Potter series divided so many fans. You had the Harry and Hermione shippers, which I still consider myself a part of, and the Ron and Hermione shippers (this girl bounces around a lot), as well as the “Heron” dump-ship for Harry and Ginny, which no Harry/Hermione shipper ever took seriously because there was absolutely no development between that pair.

Oh wait, that did happen! How did this come to be? Did Rowling go mad? Even the staunchest Ron/Hermione shippers thought this came out of no-where, and they’d be right, it reads like an amateur sex story, there’s no background, no development, just a monster down Harry’s pants, a bit of perving and lot of “snogging” (I dare someone to count how many times that word is mentioned in Half-Blood Prince). The actual pairings that Rowling threw at us were Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione, one big happy Weasley family. Boring.

Has anyone ever stopped to observe how misogynistic the official canon ships wound up being? The reader is never given an opportunity to get to know Ginny, she’s always a background character no-one cares about in much of Books 1-5, and thus she’s only a red-headed object for Harry’s sexual desires, it really makes him look like a total douche; and it seems most readers only care who Ron gets with, and Hermione supposedly being the “most brilliant witch of her age” has to lower herself to a Molly Weasley-like housewife level in order to satisfy Ron’s needs without any regard for her own endeavors. At least Harry and Hermione were equals who respected each other, even when they disagreed – Rowling really missed the point entirely. If she ever calls herself a “feminist”, she’s lying through her teeth.

However, what finally killed it was that Rowling got impatient and wrote the ending first. I cannot discourage this practice more. Sure, she may have had her grand plan for things to end up that way in the Epilogue, but clearly the characters got away from her in Books 3, 4 and 5 and did that strange literary miracle of taking on lives of their own and talking back at the author, which would really be a damaging blast to Rowling’s ego; so she thought it was prudent to put them back on track in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows to comply with her grand plan, and as a result, it comes off as awkward, shallow, and completely out of uniform with the direction the characters seemed to be going in the first five books.

Rowling herself may publicly deny all she wants that there was any well written development between the Harry and Hermione characters that clearly could have flourished into something romantic (she admits to not even re-reading her own material so what the hell does she know?), but for her writing to trick half her fan base into thinking the development between the two mentioned characters was what she intended to be a deep and meaningful pairing, and then after the release of Half-Blood Prince turn around and tell readers to go back and re-read it and insult half the fan base for thinking that way, there must be something inherently wrong with the writing itself if so many fans saw that. Or she’s just a nasty old bat; either way, it was clear she wasn’t satisfied with the direction the characters were going, and like the control freak that she is, put them back on her proverbial track to a very painful wreckage. What made matters worse was that the other half of the fan base who championed the final pairings and loved the degenerating quality of the last two books regardless, somehow felt it was their obligation to take on a vigilante mentality and wage war on the Harry/Hermione shippers by attacking their websites, spreading rumors about them, and constantly being defensive about the official canon ships, even though they’d won, which only proved it was a hollow victory from their apparent insecurity. They carried on like they’d won an election, and proceeded to stamp out all opposition, and Harry/Hermione shippers were in the crosshair because of their dissent towards their godly messianic author, that’ll teach ya! This is no conjecture, the internet fandom really imploded in 2005 because of this.

It’s not only the romances that have ruined it. Books 1 to 5 display a growing trend of continuing complexity, uses of symbolism, clear and ambiguous characterizations, advancing abilities in writing action scenes, dazzling plots, witty dialogue and clever satire, but all that is lost in Half-Blood Prince, so much so, it reads like it’s by a different author. Much of the book is full of light filler where it just meanders on and on with boring scenes of pseudo political babble, gossip chatter, Disney-cartoon style imagery evoked from Rowling’s fluttering writing style that can often kill the mood, along with painful teenage lust that just makes any sane reader wince (isn’t there a war going on? I wanted to see that!). Worst of all, the characters who seemed so mature in previous books degenerate into the very worst of stereotypes, Harry’s a pampered jock who gets everything he wants; Hermione suddenly becomes an abusive and unlikable broad with a permanent PMS problem who, just when you thought she had a brain, still dates sports boofheads to make Ron jealous; Ron’s still WonWon, only worse; Ginny’s become the school bicycle (how romantic!); Draco’s still an arse but he gets a few good moments, and everyone else reads like they’ve been pulled from a Porky’s movie. While you’re reading it, you’re waiting 500 pages for something to happen, and when it happens, it reads like crap. After all the flack Rowling got from mainstream readers after Order of the Phoenix, it just seemed like she was dumbing it down for a wider audience. Deathly Hallows doesn’t fare much better, there’s only about two chapters I like in that book and they both feel like a slap in the face anyway – it’s probably the most disjointed and jerky of the series. Voldemort surprisingly carks it in a very unbadass-like manner, it’s a piddly fizzer to behold.

With the new film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince about to be released, it was nice to recap on what made this series such a sucky disappointment of ineptitude and unfulfilled promises. If you like what it ended up being, all the power to you, but I and many others expected much more from this bomb.