Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Loving Great Danes Hurts

The other night Blake went to bed and the lights upstairs were turned off. I left my study and walked through the darkened upstairs hallway. I only took one step before I went flying due to an invisible obstacle. That invisible obstacle was a well camouflaged Leo (dark blue fur against dark blue carpet in the dark). Usually I can take a step back or simply land on Leo softly and hug him, but this time I was walking fast and I really did go flying Superman-style.

These things last a fraction of a second, but feel like forever and in slow motion. You suddenly have enough time to think about what an idiot you are and contemplate various solutions to your predicament. That would have been immensely helpful if there was anything I could do, but there really wasn't. I went flying sideways right into the open bathroom and my right wrist brushed against the metal strike plate - that is essentially how I broke the fall and yes it hurt a bit.

My mortal wound and the culprit
So unlike what the picture implies this was not caused by a failed suicide attempt. Had I fallen harder and the strike plate was sharper this could have been a fairly inventive death scene for one of the Final Destination sequels.

The next day
 If only this was the only bodily harm we have sustained from our big dogs. Mind you, I'm glad Leo was a Great Dane and not a Chihuahua as I might have been sent flying anyway in addition to flattening his head into a pancake. Also, Chihuahuas are extremely creepy animals and I would never be able to fall asleep with one of those ungodly creatures roaming free in the house.

This is one horror movie I can't bring myself to watch.
Also any movie with dogs wearing sunglasses on the
cover should have all of its copies burnt to a crisp.
Anyway... Great Danes don't realize how big and powerful they are which is basically the main reason loving Great Danes hurts. There is a learning curve and they get more intuitive, but it is a painful curve and they never ever become truly safe. Both Miron and I have both been dragged, slammed into the ground and had cracked, twisted and perhaps even broken bones from fingers to ribs. But just like all those gays on YouTube say, it gets better. Time heals all wounds (unless someone chopped your head off of course).

I'm not trying to tell you not to have a Great Dane. I'm trying to tell you not to have two Great Danes. Certainly if you're not fond of occasional physical abuse.

At least Leo has calmed down a bit in his old age as it was even dangerous to hug him when he was younger. He would get too excited and try to hug back by moving around, headbutting and elbowing his way into your heart.

Obviously we were quite concerned about bringing a baby into the house. As a baby the worst Blake had to endure was one of the dogs stepping on his fingers when he was crawling, but they quickly figured out it's utterly unacceptable and they just learnt to keep their distance from Blake. If Blake was the one initiating contact Leo and Kato would either get up carefully and walk away or lie as still as a statue (I was going to say corpse, but since Kato has passed away two years ago that would be a poor choice of words).

Blake with the late Mr. Kato
After Kato passed away  we got Dexter. He was a rowdy puppy who needed (who am I kidding, still needs) to be taught manners. Dexter was fairly careful, but he did knock Blake off his feet twice. In both cases Dexter jumped backwards without looking as Blake ran towards him. Getting the wind knocked out of him twice was enough and Blake now enjoys seeing the dogs running and jumping from a safe distance.

We all adjusted quite well and out of the five of us only I get occasionally cut, bruised or tossed around so all is well. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Took You So Long, NY?

Yay for New York for legalizing gay marriage! It's still not recognized across state lines or on the federal level, but it's getting there slowly. The people who object to gay marriage are fighting a losing battle, like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice and his fight against the enchanted broomsticks. America can't view itself as a world leader in personal freedom while picking and choosing exactly who gets to benefit from that freedom. Hey, it can't view itself as a leader full stop since it's been overtaken by so many countries already on that front.

I'm a bit surprised it took New York, the home of Sex in the City and Will & Grace, so freakin' long. It's 2011. we're less than four years away from the future in Back to the Future. Yes, in a few years Back to the Future 2 will be a movie about a guy who travels from the distant past to the more recent past and only now New York is getting on with the program. Like I mentioned earlier, I am not easy to please and I am not easily impressed by excessively delayed acts of common sense. Just like your university lecturer won't be impressed with your fantastic dissertation if it was submitted four years after the end of your course. So well done, New York, but you still get a note in your personal record for tardiness.

After getting married in Toronto and becoming parents Miron and I decided that we can't go backwards and live in a country where gay marriage isn't recognized. I'm not a huge fan of civil partnerships/unions when these are the only marriage alternatives for gays (as is the case in the UK), but it's the bottom line I'm willing to accept. Anything below that is unacceptable.  So does that mean New York is now an option for us? 

No, for two reasons.

For one thing gay marriage is still not recognized on the federal level, so we will both have to immigrate separately rather than as a married couple which is honestly not worth the bother. Secondly, while I love New York it is way too intense to live in on a regular basis. In my old age I yearn for peace and quiet.

Regardless, gay marriage in New York is a huge mile-stone for human rights and a great cause for celebration.

On a side note I'm going to surprise people and say that I am against gay marriage. It's true.

Well, against the term, anyway. It started to annoy me recently. When women finally got the right to vote their votes were called "votes", not "female votes". It'll be nice if we'll eventually stop referring to gay marriage as gay marriage and just call it... Marriage.

Maybe one day.

Anyway, next move on the gay agenda is to outlaw straight marriage so we could destroy the family institution and take over the world.


Friday, June 17, 2011

The UN: Hey, hey, hey! It's cool to be gay!

Oh my God!!! Best day EVER! The UN just passed a resolution that says it's OK to be Gay and you shouldn't be mean to gay people! This is like a dream come true, only that by "like a dream" I mean "complete load" and by "come true" I mean "of crap".

This the UN we're talking about. They passed many resolutions over the years, virtually all useless. Some activists got really excited saying that it's an important shift on an issue that has divided the global body for many decades. Well, newsflash: the world is still divided as the vote was quite close. Was anyone really surprised that many African and Muslim countries decried the resolution? 
Backers included the U.S., the European Union, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Those against included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan. China, Burkina Faso and Zambia abstained, Kyrgyzstan didn't vote and Libya was suspended from the rights body earlier.
Oh, my Goodness. I see this paragraph in front of my eyes and I don't know where to start ripping it apart. Yes, Libya was suspended from the human rights body due to recent events. As if before Libya was oozing equality and tolerance (secret prize for anyone who can guess what Libya's vote would have been!). Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and China are still part of the council. Que the laugh track.

And there's of course Russia being a total bitch as usual when it comes to LGBT rights, making me utterly ashamed of my Russian roots. 

The resolution isn't a bad thing, that's for sure. But the world is moving on towards equality for gays and lesbians anyway, some countries faster than others. That would keep happening with or without the UN resolution and many backwards countries can carry own killing, torturing, imprisoning and, most importantly, deny any basic human rights from gay people.

Much as I'm hungry for good news, I find it quite difficult to get excited over this. I prefer real stories where some countries decriminalize homosexuality or, better yet, grant gays equal rights including marriage. I know, I am very difficult to please.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stab the Gay Out of your Son.

Oooh, sometimes I feel as if I live under a rock. Otherwise how could I have missed this story and a strong nominee for JeRK of the Month? I need to work a bit harder to look for HeROes of the Month. I'm sure they're out there and plentiful, but it's the JeRKs who make more noise.

Lots of people adore 30 Rock. I don't get it. I watched the first episode with my husband and we didn't smile or laugh even once. All I remember from it is Sarah Palin buying lots of hot dogs and giving them for free to people in the street. To each their own, I guess.

Tracy Morgan
Tracy Morgan, one of the stars of the show, has got himself into a lot of trouble for going on a hate filled homophobic tirade during one of his comedy shows. This was reported by Kevin Rogers, one of the audience members, in a note on his Facebook page. In case you are one of the few people who still don't have a Facebook page or are just too lazy to click on links, I'll cut and paste it here for your convenience.
So tonight was the night, Tracy Morgan in the hallowed halls of the Ryman Auditorium.  I always giggle a little bit when I think that the legends of country music must be rolling over in their graves knowing that there are raunchy comics on their stage.   I've been a big fan of his since his days at SNL.  The show was your typical hysterical dick, cum and pussy humor... I have to say it was hilarious and well worth at least 40% of the $86 we spent per ticket to see him.  I figured at some point the gay jokes would fly and I'm well prepared for a good ribbing of straight gay humor.  I have very thick skin when it comes to humor; I can dish and I can take.  What I can't take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that "Born this Way" is bullshit, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because "God don't make no mistakes" (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake).  He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that's just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man.  He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying. He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them, not whine about it.  He said that if his son was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. He mentioned that Barack Obama needed to man up and quit being all down with this just because he has a wife and two daughters.  All of this being followed by thunderous cheer and "You go Tracys".  Tracy then said he didn't fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass... they can take a fucking joke.

The sad thing is that none of this rant was a joke.  His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night.  He was truly filled with some hate towards us.  As far as I could see 10 to 15 people walked out.  I had to fight myself to stay seated, but I knew if I got up... he won.  He wanted to piss people off and get a rise.  I didn't let him win by chasing me off, he surely didn't get any applause or laughter from me after that point - mainly because he was no longer funny to me.  I wasn't holding back, it just wasn't funny.  I won't even get started on his rant about how women should be home cooking him a fucking meal and not becoming CEOs or him talking about fucking the moms of retards.  

Once again, I can take a joke.  I find all sorts of things that are inappropriate funny.  Life is too serious to not laugh and enjoy some humor.  I now no longer enjoy Tracy Morgan's humor.  It's sad that I now have to take some inventory of my love of "30 Rock".

I'm not angry... just very very very disappointed.

BY THE WAY... FEEL FREE TO SHARE with all of your friends!
Kevin Rogers
Morgan has obviously apologized since. Woop-ti-doo. I am far less tolerant of homophobia since I have became a parent because I no longer think about the way it affects me, I'm a big boy, but more how it affects my son who will be growing up with gay parents regardless of whatever his sexual orientation will turn out to be. I also view these homophobic rants through the eyes of a scared, closeted teenager who thinks the world will end if his loved ones will find out he is gay, I am no longer that teen, but many who were babies and toddlers when I struggled with my sexuality are now gay teens themselves and while the world has moved in the right direction since, being a gay teen is still not easy. It's probably even twice as bad for black gay teens who many I'm sure look up to Tracy Morgan.

So for these teens to hear from an influential comedian that he would stab his son if he turned out to be gay, that's just unacceptable. It should be a career ending move. I was never a follower of Tracy Morgan, but I will be actively avoiding him just like I do Mel Gibson after his antisemitic rants. I can no longer view these people as the blank canvas they need to be for a fictional character to be painted on. Jodie Foster's The Beaver looks interesting, but with Gibson in it I'll pass.

The rampant homophobia also masks Morgan's exteme misogyny. Barak Obama needs to man up and stop being OK with gays just because he's living with three females. Meaning that a real man must despise homosexuality and be able to withstand the attempts of his women to emasculate him by accepting it. That's of course on top of the hilarious comments about women needing to cook meals for him instead of advancing their careers. Sheer comic genius.

Since then Kevin Rogers (the guy who posted the Facebook message, keep up!) has accepted Tracy Morgan's apology and said he doesn't want to see Morgan lose his job over the incident. Perez Hilton and other gay figures are all warm and fuzzy about the apology. Well here's one gay blogger who's not. I don't believe for a second that Morgan didn't mean every single hateful word he spewed. The only thing he is really sorry about is the backlash, including from his co-star and boss, Tina Fey. Unfortunately for him this is not stuff you can backpedal from, some unintentional slip of the tongue in the wrong context or something a very young man might spout in ignorance. He's grown man who worked for years in what is considered to be a fairly liberal industry and yet he still remained a bigoted little turd.

I really do want to see Tracy Morgan lose his job over this to send a message that this is beyond unacceptable. I'm sure he made enough money on his TV shows and movies to live comfortably for the rest of his life and he can always find some small dirty comedy clubs with sticky floors where his hateful rants will be welcome as humour. I'll stab my son if he's gay. Erm, yeah. I'm sort of missing the punchline here, but I'm sure some people will be pissing their pants.

I'm sure Tracy Morgan will be able to resume his TV and movie career uninterrupted for me to ignore. All I can say is, I was not watching Tracy Morgan's work before it was the cool thing to do. I'm a trend setter.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Confession Time

The GLBT blogging community is in hysterics with the breaking news that two influential lesbian bloggers, including one who was supposedly writing from Damascus, turned up to be straight guys. Reading about this really shook me and made me realize that every lie is bound to blow up in your face eventually, so it's time to tell the truth.

There is no Mickey Blumental. My name is Marwa Al Khalifa and I'm a 52 years old nurse living in Bahrain with my husband Mohammed. I had seven children, but they all left to form their own families except for Khalid who's in jail for illegally downloading Norbit.

Here is the real me! Hi!
My youngest, Fatima, got married to Bandar Nasir Bin Fahid, a Saudi prince. He is a really nice guy. Fatima and his son go to the same pre-school, that's how they met. He was very nice to our family, gave us a lot of money and a camel we called Darwin.

I found myself with a lot of time on my hands so I took a creative writing course at our local adult centre. I decided to let my inner wild girl loose and wrote stories about a woman who was into wearing pants and burping in public. My teacher, Zameer El Said, encouraged me to create a fake blog so I could have an excuse to write regularly and work on my English. I got really excited and decided to go completely crazy and write about a gay man! Not only just a gay man, but get this: a gay man who is married to another gay man and they have a kid together. And also two big dogs, those filthy vile creatures, living inside their house! And the gay guys are originally from Israel! What a deliciously immoral fictional playground I have created for myself to give freedom to my most demented thoughts and desires.

Me on our trip to Las Vegas. Loved it!
Zameer was utterly mortified when I showed him the new blog. He threatened to talk to my husband or even the police about my sacrilegious blog, but I knew he liked me a lot, so I made a deal with him. At the beginning of every lesson I roll up one of my sleeves and let him look at my naked elbow for a whole minute. So we're OK now.

I love swimming! Do you?
Finding all the photos and videos to post here was easy. I was stealing them from some guy's Facebook page since he left it unprotected and public. Won't it be just hilarious if he stumbled upon this blog accidentally?

Anyway, I was having so much fun writing this blog all these years and it never occurred to me that my lies might hurt people. At least my lies won't hurt people if they didn't knew I was lying, so what's the point?

So here I am letting you know so I could hurt you with my lies. Serves you right, silly people who think it's OK for gays to have children! I hope this blog gave you fake hope only to have it crushed!!! Ha ha ha ha. Silly silly people.

But if there's any lesson in this for me, it's this: Next time I should have a fake Lesbian blog because obviously they get much more traffic.

Actually I think I'm going to set up one right now.

Big love,


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Idiocy of Tolerating Intolerance

If you check the new pages tab under the banner you'll find the JeRKs and HeROs page where I decided to nominate people for my own unique awards. This is the story that inspired that action.

I have never heard of Evan Davis before, not that it stuck to mind anyway. He is apparently gay and he is apparently really good at explaining economics in simple terms for simple people. That's probably why I haven't heard of him. I don't really know much about economics other than the fact that I would like to have more money than I currently have.

I was on the London Underground train (like a Subway, only more expensive and smells a bit less foul) back home after popping to town to take care of stuff. I got tired of playing Legendary Wars on my iPhone so I picked up the discarded  free copy of The Evening Standard lying on the seat next to me. I flipped through the dull publication until an outrageous headline caught my attention.

Evan Davis: I believe people have a right to be bigoted about gays

My first reaction was "how dare he!!!". No, actually my first reaction was "yay, I have something to write about in my blog today so I don't have to post a recipe for scrambled eggs". But then I was all "how dare he!!!"

I started reading through the long article. Blah blah blah, economics, blah blah blah, more economics. I quickly started skimming through the article looking for the key word gay. Only then I realized the guy was actually gay, but I wasn't sure if it made his statement more or less infuriating than if he was straight. Then I decided  that it made it more infuriating.

I'll cut and paste the relevant part and save you the time reading through the borefest article (unless you are into economics then by all means help yourself).
When I raise the recent case of the gay couple who were ejected from the John Snow pub in Soho, apparently for kissing, he chooses his words carefully.
"I think we have to tolerate other people's feelings.1 In the great spectrum of things, I don't think discrimination against gay men, or being barred from bed and breakfasts or pubs, is very prevalent.
"Put it this way: compared to most of the gay people I know, I am way to the other end of the spectrum in believing that people have a right to be bigoted. It would be unfair if gay people were denied legal rights that other people have but my libertarian self is big enough to say that there are some rights there. I don't know where we draw that line but people do have a right to say what they want happening in their house.2"
He is visibly conflicted on the point, aware of his own privilege. He doesn't want to be an "Uncle Tom who doesn't know you're a victim".
But, he says, "There's a statistical problem that arises here. It's the Ali G line: 'Is it cos I is black?' Now supposing you are black, or gay, or short, or some status that is perceived as disadvantageous.
If you fix upon that status you will then make the statistical mistake of viewing the random knocks that anybody has in their life and assuming they're because you are black or gay.3"
 OK, Evan, you are an idiot or at least you make a very convincing impersonation of one in that interview, but rather than just insult you I will explain why, using handy footnotes.

1) That's a very vague statement. In general I agree, we do have to tolerate other people's feelings. Unless their feelings hurt our feelings. I would say that in that case our feelings trump theirs, especially since those people don't seem to be bothered with tolerating other people's feelings themselves. I will never have a shred of tolerance for someone's bigoted feelings.

This idiocy of tolerating intolerance is mind-boggling, but I've seen it many times before. It doesn't make you extremely open-minded, it makes you a moron. Open minded in the sense that you have a huge gaping hole in your head out of which your entire brain is oozing out.

2) People do have the right to say what they want happening in their own house. That is why it will be wrong of me to break into the house of a homophobic neighbour and organize a 20-man orgy in his living-room when he is trying to watch Britain's Got Talent with his kids. But no one is talking about houses, we are talking about businesses. Whether it's a pub or a Bed and Breakfast, as long as it's charging members of the public for service it is no longer a private residence. It is a business and therefore the owner is not allowed to discriminate against people based on sex, religion, sexual orientation or race. No ifs or buts.

Can you imagine a business refusing service to black people... Oh wait, we've been there.

3) I agree. Minorities shouldn't be victims and assume that anything negative said or done to them is because of their minority status. Well said, sir. Only one problem... What does it have to do with anything you just said? The examples mentioned, a gay couple kicked out of a pub for kissing and another couple refused a room in a bed and breakfast, are clear cut cases where people were discriminated against for being gay.

The interviewer says that Davis has chosen his words carefully when he got to that part. Well, here is the thing. He obviously hasn't chosen them carefully enough. The whole thing is a bit rambling and random and trying to sound clever before actually deciding what is the point he was actually trying to make.

Here is my advice for next time, Evan. When you are asked a question that makes you choose your words carefully, just stop and pretend to think the question over. While pretending to think the question over actually think the question over. You might end up spouting a bit less nonsense.

So Evan is technically a JeRK of the Month nominee, but with the evil George Rekker in the running this month he is very unlikely to win. Can't even get that right! Good thing he's got the economics thing going.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who Loves You Most in the World?

I know who I love more than anything in the world. That's easy, it's Blake. Miron and I are perfectly OK with the fact that we both come second to him. Not only is he our son, I can also say objectively that he is also the most amazing little boy in the world. I am sure most parents will dejectedly admit that, yeah, my kid kicks their kid's ass at being cute.

Being cute (and full of Dim Sum) is very tiring.
The real question is, who loves me most in the world. Another easy question: my mom!

BZZZT! WRONG ANSWER! I have no doubt my mother loves a lot, probably as much as I love Blake. Blake also loves me and thinks I am way cooler than I actually am. It is safe to assume that my husband loves me too as I could not otherwise explain why anyone would live with me for fourteen years out of their free will (maybe he lost a bet or still trying to win one).

But if I need to measure who loves me the most in the world with the most intensity, then it's a no brainer. It's Leo.


I had several dogs in the past, both those raised by my mom and those raised by Miron and me. They all loved me, but not like that. Not like Leo. My mom's dogs loved my like a sibling since I didn't really feed or discipline them. Kato was a diplomat and if he had a favourite owner he never made it apparent which was quite remarkable. Dexter likes Miron a little more, partly because he can see that Leo has already "got" me and partly because Miron gives the best doggie butt scratches this side of the pond.

Blake and... I think Leo is somewhere down there too.
It used to be Kato and Leo and then Leo and Dexter. In both pairing I always loved Leo more. The reason for that is very simple: he needs more love. I don't know what about Leo made him this way, but the dog is immensely needy and neurotic. Seeing his desperation to be with me is flattering, but also a bit heartbreaking and overwhelming at times.

It got worse when we brought Blake back with us from Canada when he was only three months old. Leo was used to being the baby and he didn't quite understand why we were suddenly going crazy over another baby. A hairless one to boot! He would really go mad when we brought Blake into our bed and had a family cuddle. It was Leo's dream to sleep in our bed with us, one he gave up on when he realized it was never going to happen. At best he would rest his big head on the bed, offering it to be scratched, hugged and kissed. So to have this little human puppy arrive out of nowhere and claim that prize? Leo would run around the bed back and forth making bizarre and frustrated (though non-threatening) noises. Eventually he got used to the new reality and accepted it. In fact, now that Blake is older he is no longer seen as the competition, but rather another human to give him attention and Leo loves getting cuddles and kisses from Blake.

Sir Leo is waiting for his cup of tea.
Leo's anxiety is at its worst when we need to part for a long time, especially when it involves taking him away from his home rather than stay in our house with a dogsitter. 

Last summer he stayed with Dexter at a kennel for the purpose of training (waste of time and money) and he twisted his leg from excitement when we came to pick him up after five weeks and had a terrifying two minutes fight with Dexter when they both tried to hug Miron at the same time. 

Later that year, after a massive operation in his leg Leo had to stay at the vet for a few days after the wound got infected (the genius licked his butt and then licked off the bandage). When we picked him up he tried to jump and hug us, the worst thing to do in his condition, and we all had to try and push him down and keep him from jumping.

Leo's leg post operation.
When we came back from Israel last week we picked up the dogs from our breeder friend in Scotland. The dogs were kept separate in case they'll try to fight over us again, but by the time we got out of the car Leo was already in Dexter enclosure - the only way he could've got there was to jump over a massive six feet tall division. Not bad for a Great Dane who's almost six and had massive surgery in his leg...

The whole thing is much better now, though. Older dogs are calmer and more easy going. Leo is still not happy about us leaving the house and won't touch his food or water while we're gone, but the intensity of everything has gone down a bit and thank goodness for that.

The funny thing is, Leo is such an amazing dog. He's gorgeous and has the sweetest and most tender soul. He loves me so much and is so desperate for my constant affection, yet he doesn't really realize how lucky and honoured that makes me feel.

"Excuse me, sir. It's been five seconds since I
was loved. Can I have some more love please?"
I love you too, Leo. Look, I wrote an entire blog post that's (almost) entirely about you! Now chill out already!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

14 Legged Videos

There were plenty of videos shared here over the last couple of years featuring all fourteen legs. Here are all the videos so far, so grab your popcorn for a Sunday marathon!

Chengdu, China 2007

Chengdu, China 2007 - 82k views on YouTube!

Baby Dexter with my mom's baby Minko

Blake's early swinging days

Making silly noises to make Blake laugh

The day after Blake's epic 1st birthday party

Playing hide and seek on a Los Angeles rooftop

Blake iPoding

Blake self-dunking in the water

Blake + Bubbles : What else do you need?

Blake shows off his reading skills at 2 years and 4 months

Blake and a snowball

Doggies in the snow

Blake is reading my hand written words

Blake has secretly filmed himself practising Itsy Bitsy spider

A proper performance of Itsy bitsy spider

Aye aye, Captain Blake!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Bring the House Down.

Spoiler alert: this post discusses various House storylines all the way up the to the latest episodes aired (end of series 7).
I've posted this Photochop work of mine last
 year, but it's relevant now more than ever!
Oh House, how the mighty have fallen...

Miron and I used to love House. It used to be our favourite TV show only to be pushed aside by Modern Family due to its emergent brilliance paired with House's own gradual staling. We came in late and caught up with the first few series on DVD before watching it regularly as it aired.

The first episode was great. A buffling medical mystery, an interesting mix of characters in the cast and of course Doctor Gregory House and his utterly inappropriate social conduct. He would say and do the most outrageous things that we would never dare to do in real life and he will get away with it because he is a diagnosis genius.

As the first few years went by our suspension of disbelief was stretched further than Kirstie Alley's wasteline as House and his team kept encountering hundreds of "rare" medical mysteries (twenty two a year, to be more specific) and all the mysteries were resolved the same way: the team will come up with different theories to treat the patient and the patient will seem to recover only to get worse again and again until the last minute where House would come up with the answer by chance when talking to someone (usually his friend Wilson) about something entirely different. During the episode there will be something interesting about the patient life-choices which will invoke a lively argument that splits the team down the middle and causes them to reflect on their own lives and decisions. Ho hum. Cut and paste, cut and paste.

It was more formulaic than Lady Gaga's latest album, but we forgave those gaping flaws in order to get to hang out with the coolest doctor in the world since Dr. Doogie Howser. As the years went by we even got a nice slow cooking character study of House and what makes him tick. The series has peaked with series four's finale and hasn't been topped since as far as I am concerned. A great mix of mystery, emotional roller coaster and shocking twists and turns. Some of the best television I have ever watched.

Had the producers had any dignity they would have wrapped things up in series five where the paint by the number plots were becoming more and more tedious. Six Feet Under is my all time favourite TV show and I don't think it's ending would have been as powerful if they dragged it on for another five years. Also, Michael C. Hall wouldn't have been free to do Dexter, so win-win. But House is a huge hit both in ratings and DVD sales so as long as that's the case the creators will attempt to carry it until Hugh Laurie himself might actually need a walking stick in real life.

So the writers did their best trying to throw a few twists into the plot. At the end of series six House was admitted into a psyche ward. How would he ever get out of that mess? Easy, in two episodes everything was practically back to normal. Then at the end of series seven they hooked him up with Cuddy, another status quo shaker that did not last. And now at the end of series seven yet another shock ending: enraged when he finds out Cuddy is dating a new man, House drives his car into her livingroom and disappears to some ocean beach before the police could arrest him. How is he ever going to get out of that mess?

I don't care! I know that within an episode or two House will be back at the hospital solving medical mysteries and being rude to patients. House would have a meltdown, realize he needs to get a grip and will get better - until the next meltdown. The lack of any lasting character development has become apparent a long time ago and from the cool guy who says it like it is, House has become a jerk you want to beat to death with his own walking stick. The formulaic medical mysteries are also infuriatingly repetitive. Hugh Laurie is a magnetic actor so I would probably keep watching for a while, but it is not really fun watching a TV show you are beginning to resent.

Lisa Edelstein leaving the show is also an ultimate ending to the House/Cuddy romance which was one of the more enjoyable storylines in the history of the show. House losing Cuddy for good will truly mean a complete regression of the character back to square one or even beyond.

House has pointed out in the past that he is a great doctor because he is unhappy and therefore not distracted when doing his work. During his time with Cuddy he actually became happy and sloppy. Once he realized that he thought it over and decided that even though it will mean that more people will die because he is happy with Cuddy, he was OK with it. That was a fantastic potential ending for the series and an ending to the character's journey. While being a good ending it also had a dark edge to it to avoid making it too kitsch. That's right there is what should have been the last episode of House.

But money talks and the show must go on. And on. And on. And on.

Perhaps the writers will surprise me next series with a fresh twist or two, but to be honest, even at its most formulaic House is still better than most TV dramas airing nowadays.

Which is kinda sad, don't you think?


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Censorship is ***** and *****! Right?!

Ah, the Human Centipede. What a delightful idea for a movie: a sick scientist decides to kidnap people and surgically attach them mouth to anus into one creature. An idea so creepy and sick that many more people know about the movie than ever intend to actually watch it.

The creator, Tom Six, is convinced that it is the sickest movie ever made, but I beg to differ. It is actually not that difficult to watch in terms of what you actually get to see graphically. I felt more uncomfortable sitting through some gory Saw and Hostel scenes, not to mention the fantastically disturbing French movie Inside. In the defence of Human Centipede (other than the fact that it is not a terrible movie) I like the fact that the focus is body deformation horror rather than the usual hack/slash/torture/kill fare. In the right hands it could have been truly terrifying (David Cronenberg?), but instead it is unintentionally amusing, especially when watched with friends.

In one section (spoiler alert?) the Japanese man in the front of the centipede needs to poop and he knows that it will go straight into the mouth of the woman attached to his backside. He tries to hold it in, but can't and apologizes to her as he relieves himself and feeling really crappy (ha ha) about it. That scenario is truly creepy and unsettling in theory, but the sloppy execution makes it feel like an American Pie type gross-out sequence played for laughs (nervous and otherwise). That specific scene was ripe for parodying, an opportunity not missed by the king of cartoon gross out, South Park and their Human CentiPad parody.

The teaser for Human Centipede 2 shows Tom Six walking down a car park with blood splattered on him and his own voice over telling us how amazingly shocking the first movie is and how the next movie is going to be even more shocking despite the threats he gets on Facebook. It's all a little too "hey, look at me!" for my taste. This teaser lacks any gore or profanity and lasts only two minutes, but I found it harder to sit through than the entire first Human Centipede movie. The words douche and bag spring to mind.

With that said I enjoyed the first movie for the trashy nonsense it was and I am sure I will enjoy the second one. You see, I enjoy squirming and be taken out of my comfort zone. You may ask: why watch horrific things on film when there is plenty of horrific things happening in real life every day? Because you can comfort yourself by reminding yourself that this is just make believe, which you can't do when reading the news. Just like a really good roller-coaster ride, there is a sense of relief when it is over and your feet are back on the ground.

So it is annoying to read that the British Board of Film Classification has decided to refuse giving the sequel classification, essentially banning it. Their reasoning is that the movie is "sexually violent and potentially obscene". "Unacceptable material". The sequel seems to up at the ant quite a bit by introducing stronger and more graphic violent sexual fantasties, torture, humiliation and so forth. But haven't we seen it all already? Is it really worse than Salò, the 36 years old movie based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade? Or Clockwork Orange? Both films, by the way, were banned by the British Board of Film Classification and now they are both available uncut and you can buy them on Amazon with Salò receiving a special British Film Council edition cementing it reputation as an art house movie. So as the cool kids would say: "WTF?"

Basically what this all means is that the BBFC is a useless, pointless, patronizing and - did I already say useless? - organization. How long before Human Centipede 2 will be released uncut and praised as a great work of art? In the age of the internet can you really censor anything anymore? You can hurt the movie's earnings, but anyone who would want to see this movie will be able to download it on-line, legally or otherwise.

The most troubling aspect of this story is the fact that there are a bunch of people who sit around and decide what material is suitable for others to consume. Sure, someone might think that bloody gory torture with graphic sexual violence is unacceptable material, but others might draw a line at Tom and Jerry's cartoon violence. Who is to decide when a movie is suddenly too violent? James Bond? Dusk Till Dawn? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Bambi?

"Don't worry, Bambi, I'll never leave you."
The answer is, no one should decide it and adults should be able to consume any form of fiction even if it makes the rest of us uncomfortable (like the Twilight books and movies for example).

Something to think about: if all these banned movies are indeed that dangerous and damaging to the viewers, shouldn't all of those movie censors who watched hundreds of these films be admitting themselves to a mental institute to seek psychiatric help? On the other hand if their fragile human minds survived all of these terrible movies intact, maybe they are safe to consume for the rest of us too?

The bottom line is, increasingly violent movies are not desensitizing audiences to real life violence, they are only desensitizing  audiences to violent movies which is why new horror movies keep trying to top each other with acts of depraved violence and insanity. But where else can you go after you torture, rape, cut, burn, slice, dice, mince, crash, squish, eat and cook your victims? It really has all been done before. So let's just all get over it and move on.

By the way, Tom Six wanted to originally name the Human Centipede "12 Legs", but I threatened them with legal action. True story.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What's in a Name?

As you can see Taking the Mickey is no more. Welcome to my new blog, 14 Legs. It's still pretty much the same blog as before only with a new name, a new URL and a new design.

It all started with wanting to change the name of my blog. The only good thing about Taking the Mickey is the fact that it has my name in the title, but what's so great about that? Most people don't even know what Taking the Mickey means which kinda defeats the point. It's an English saying which basically means mocking something or someone. While I do use that form of humour on occasion, it is hardly descriptive of the blog. So a new name was needed.

I was struggling to find a new name for a few days. It couldn't be too specific as I plan to write about different things that interest me, but on the other hand it couldn't be too vague and random either. And then 14 Legs just popped into my mind and I ran with it. Sure, it means that I will need to rename my blog every time we'll lose or gain legs, but I don't think it's very likely. We'll always have no more and no less than two dogs and if we will get a new human to join the family I will be more than happy to mark that happy occasion with yet another tiring blog name change and redesign.

With the new name in mind I immediately had the concept for the banner in my mind. A bit of Photoshop wizardry by yours truly and a nice background from Cutest Blog on the Block and you can see the final results of the re-design right here.

I'm sure it's not the most amazing Photoshop creation, but I'm quite pleased with it. The banner is composed of the following pictures:

Dexter at his Scottish vacation home.
Me in Winnipeg (with something on my back).
Señor Blake in his PJs at our back yard.

The other Mr. Blumental and Leo wearing a satellite dish.
The legs have been cut out and I did some colour and light balancing to make up for the different lighting conditions.

I then designed the logo and slapped it over a wooden floor texture I found on the web:

I then turned it into a 3D poster and rotated it to make it look like a floor for all of us to "stand" on.

There, I hope I sucked away all the magic out of the creative process.

My life is going through many changes, some of which I will be talking about in this blog when the time comes, so it is a good time for a new start. On the other hand, this is not a brand new blog, as you can see, with full access to the old archives dating back to 2005.
Here's a reminder of what the old blog looked like:

Please update any links and bookmarks to the new blog and let me know what you think about the re-design and new name! 


Experi-Mental Evil

I'm not really a violent person in real life. Not that I don't have the occasional impulse to punch the occasional person in the face, but thankfully (or unfortunately?) I didn't have the pleasure to be in punching range under the right circumstances. We all have a violent little demon living in our bellies. I feed mine on  a steady diet of horror movies and violent video games (Dead Space 2 is fantastic!). I've never actually been in a real fight or punched someone. True story!

Most times the urge to punch comes when I'm on the computer reading the news. Then all I can do is just make a fist and try to make heads explode with the power of my thoughts (hasn't worked so far for the best of my knowledge - if the head of someone near you explodes while reading this blog post please notify me).

Anyway, here is such a story that makes me want to crush skulls with my bare hands. The story of Kirk Andrew Murphy, a perfectly lovely little boy who was put in experimental government funded therapy in UCLA to cure him of his "exaggerated feminine behaviour". In 2003 at the age of 38 Kirk has taken his own life. 

I know in my previous post I mocked the parents who raised their children "genderless", but this is the absolute opposite approach and I must tell you that it is a thousand times more harmful and dangerous.

The fact that there are religious nuts who are eager to brainwash and mess up children isn't shocking. It's the maddening fact that it was his mother who got in touch with those crazy people in order to "help" her child after she was worried about seeing him playing with girl toys. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. One can only imagine the guilt this mother feels for taking her son down that path.

Little Kirk
Watching the video and hearing about the emotional and physical torture, the helplessness of his older brother who did what he could to minimize the abuse, the sheer evil and pointlessness of it all. The thought of someone attempting to subject my son to something like that makes me realize that under the right circumstances I don't really know what I am capable of doing...

George Reker
The experiments were conducted by George Reker, the man who later became a founding member of the deranged, bigoted and evil Family Research Council. He made a career out of claiming that homosexuality can be cured. He was also outed when he was caught with a rentboy on his trip to Europe. He claimed he hired the rentboy to help him with his luggage. Well, you learn new euphemisms for sex every day...

This man is pure evil, subjugating young boys to experimental anti-gay therapy he knows is bogus as he indulges in sleazy sexual escapades. It's calculated fraud that destroyed who knows how many lives beyond Kirk's. To have this type of person lecture to me about family values is something I would say is somewhat annoying.

I'm not a violent person in real life, but if I ever meet George Reker in the street I'm going to punch him in the face so hard that he would be pooping his own teeth for days to come. It takes quite a bit of self control not to punch my monitor while looking his his vile smug little face.