ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNO-PHENAKISTASCOPE

Don’t worry, this video is perfectly safe for work, except for the little fact that if you watch to the very end you’ll get sucked into your computer screen and transported to the 19th century. This morning, I had to fight my way through a mob of Norwegian farmers who hardly spoke any English to find a zoetrope and phenakistascope (which were very scarce on the empty Minnesota prairie, I tell you) and play them backwards to get home again. Bracing.

(via The Verge)

Ken Ham was right about one thing

The reviews for Aronofsky’s movie, Noah, are coming in, and they’re mixed. There are parts that are brilliant and provocative, and others that are ludicrous, over-the-top, action movie CGI. One thing everyone is agreeing on, along with Ken Ham and me, is that it is decidedly unbiblical, which is totally unsurprising. Don’t people ever read their Bibles? Most of these famous myths out of that old book are short, with little characterization or context, and are more like an elevator pitch than a full narrative…so every Bible story has to be padded. Turning a one page sketch into a two hour movie? What do you expect?

Apparently, this version of the Ark story is more action/fantasy story than reverent Bible worship, which is fine by me. This is pretty much what I expect:

There’s so much delusion and so much delight in “Noah” that I have trouble distinguishing one from the other, or determining whether its most outlandish flourishes qualify as mistakes or as strokes of genius. But let’s be clear that the CGI-animated opening sequence, an “earlier on our show” montage that tells the story of Genesis from the creation through Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, is a mistake. Even there Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique deliver striking images – the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge pulsing like a human heart; the father and mother of us all as golden-hued, naked super aliens – but the net effect is something like a Catholic Sunday-school video mixed with the scenes Ridley Scott rejected as too hokey for “Prometheus.”

I may have to watch it after all. “Prometheus” was so bad it was entertaining.

By the way, Ridley Scott is working on a Biblical movie, too — a retelling of the Moses story. He’s also going to make a sequel to “Prometheus”. Oh, and also, Michael Bay is remaking the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It looks like it’s going to be a banner year for really bad big-budget movies. I don’t like bad movies all that much.

Why does this video game suck?

The normal explanation would be that the graphics are clumsy and out of date, the character animation is creepily unhuman, the plot is inane, and the preachy moralizing and weird evangelism is off-putting. But to the people at Phoenix Interactive, who are having a hard time getting funding for a game called Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham, those factors are not to be acknowledged. It’s because of SATAN.

"I need to be clear on this point: Are you telling me that Satan is literally working to confound your plans to release this game? You’re saying that the actual Devil is scheming against you?"

I’m sitting in a nondescript office in an unremarkable neighborhood in Bakersfield, CA, interviewing three men about their plans for a Biblical game based on the life of Abraham.

I believe that, 100 percent, replies Richard Gaeta, a co-founder of Phoenix Interactive. He argues that since the launch of the Kickstarter for Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham, trouble has come into all their lives.

It’s very tangible, adds his business partner Martin Bertram. From projects falling through and people that were lined up to help us make this a success falling through. Lots of factors raining down on us like fire and brimstone.

Nobody is winking or joking or pulling my leg. There is no irony here. They are absolutely serious.

It’s an interesting rationalization. None of their problems are their fault, it’s all the work of a malignant supernatural entity. But what I found particularly intriguing is the extent to which they’ve taken it: failure is a sign of their importance.

If Satan is rallying some of his resources to forestall, delay, or kill this project, I think, this must be a perceived threat to his kingdom, adds Ken Frech, a religious mentor to the project. I fully would expect something like this to have spiritual warfare. Look at the gospel accounts of demons and so forth. That’s reality. Many Americans don’t believe it anymore. That doesn’t change reality.

Since I’m a nice guy, and very sympathetic, I propose that we all shun every product from this company and the wackaloons running it, just so they’ll all feel very, very important. And if we all point and laugh at them, their self-esteem will skyrocket, because it can only mean that Satan is paying a lot attention to them.

We atheists live lives of sacrifice, working so hard at the request of our master Satan to make Christians feel important.

All gods sort of blur together, I guess

Sorry, gang. I thought this music video by Katy Perry was eminently forgettable pop, overproduced and not particularly interesting, but you get to see it anyway.

In case you had too much taste to bother, Katy Perry plays an ancient Egyptian pharoah — you know, pyramids, stilted poses, animal-headed gods, etc. — who disintegrates a series of suitors with magic and takes their treasure. Really, that’s it. Only one of the suitors (at about 1:10 in the video) is wearing a necklace with a squiggle in it that some Muslims claim resembles the name of Allah, so this video is a work of blasphemy. You’ll have to look very closely to even see it (also, it looks like the few frames where the emblem was visible have already been edited out).

disintegratingsuitor

I know! Why are Muslims upset? It’s all those followers of Anubis and Bastet and Osiris and so forth who ought to be up in arms! But it’s certain flaky weird Muslims who are posting a petition demanding that the video be taken down. Makes sense; the polytheistic religion of ancient Egypt, founded around 3100 BCE, and monotheistic Islam, founded around 600 CE, are so easily confused.

This is the reason for lodging the petition so that people from different walks of life, different religions and from different parts of the world, agree that the video promotes blasphemy, using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion.

Isn’t it heartwarming that there are people who dedicate their time and effort to protecting the delicate sensibilities of invisible imaginary super-powerful beings?

Anyway, if you think Katy Perry needs some urging to resist the efforts of kooks to suppress her commercially lucrative work, there is a counter-petition. It seems superfluous to me, but OK.

The one question in my mind is why are fanatical Muslims stepping frame by frame through Katy Perry videos anyway?

Oscar’s golden night

I had the Academy Awards tuned in to the background last night. I’m not a fan; like many of us, I just like to gawp and snipe at overprivileged rich people, so it was just occasionally entertaining noise to catch my attention in between papers. Here are the things that made me bother to look up.

  • Ellen Degeneres was generally amiable and pleasant, but the stunt where she ordered out for pizza and delivered it to obscenely wealthy, pretty people in clothes that may have cost more than some people make in a year? That was…disturbing and klunky. It wasn’t Macfarlane-awful, but just vaguely icky.

  • Gravity won best director. No, that was a terrible movie! The star was Orbital Mechanics, but Orbital Mechanics was falling-down drunk every day on the set, and Orbie kept sticking his face in front of the camera, even in scenes where he shouldn’t have been, and Cuarón just let him get away with it.

  • John Travolta seemed to be stoned on smug, and couldn’t even manage to introduce someone properly, and called Idina Menzel “Adele Nazeem”. That was probably the name of a clam he knew in a past life.

  • The award for the most embarrassingly stupid acceptance speech goes to Matthew McConaughey, who, in accepting an award for the role of a guy dying of AIDS, rambled on slickly and at length in praise of a god. I was already peeved — I was hoping Bruce Dern would win — so it did not console me that someone deserving had won it anyway.

  • Oh, yeah, Nebraska got skunked. I had expectations that it would do well…it was one of my favorite movies this year. Something about a cranky old guy in a small midwestern town just spoke to me.

  • Cate Blanchett thanked Woody Allen.

  • Lupita Nyong’o gave the best speech of the evening. She won for a harrowing role, and it was well-deserved.

  • 12 Years a Slave won best picture. For once, I could agree with the Academy’s choice in this category — that was a powerful movie.

  • Holy crap, it ended on time?

I have an idea…we build some giant robots, then…

May I just say that there aren’t any large multicellular animals that stand a chance against human technology — they are intrinsically fragile — which makes the fear of this creature rather unbelievable. I’m much more terrified of microorganisms.

Also, Bryan Cranston doesn’t look a thing like Raymond Burr.

But I might actually enjoy this movie anyway.

Thousands of channels and nothing on

So much junk. So much failed ambition. It seems like even the cable channels that are set up with high purpose (hello, History/Discovery/Learning channels) immediately succumb to the lure of the lowest common denominator and turn into dreck, so where is The Sportsman Channel to go?

Wait, you say, the Sportsman Channel doesn’t sound that awful; sure, it’s not educational, maybe, but it could be about honest entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. To which I reply, “SyFy channel.”

But what could a channel about hunting and fishing do to degrade their starting premise? Behold. Now you know, you can always dig through the floor of the basement.

[Read more…]

Ken Ham and I agree on something

There’s this new movie coming out, Noah, by Darren Aronofsky and with a top-notch cast…and it looks like crap.

I can get into a good fantasy story, but not one that takes itself so seriously and purports to be based on a true story. And you know this one is going to be peddled to the public as a good old Bible story, so of course it must be wholesome and good and true. So I’m unimpressed and uninterested.

So is Ken Ham, but for different reasons. He hates it because it is so unbiblical. He’s got a list of deviations from the One True Bible story, and apparently his followers saw it and are leaving youtube comments threatening to boycott the movie because it’s too worldly and godless. Who knew youtube comments could get even stupider?

  1. In the film, Noah was robbed of his birthright by Tubal-Cain. The serpent’s body (i.e., Satan), which was shed in Eden, was their “birthright reminder.” It also doubled with magical power that they would wrap around their arm. So weird!
  2. Noah’s family only consists of his wife, three sons, and one daughter-in-law, contrary to the Bible.
  3. It appears as if every species was crammed in the Ark instead of just the kinds of animals, thus mocking the Ark account the same way secularists do today.
  4. “Rocks” (that seem to be fallen angels) build the Ark with Noah!
  5. Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather) is a type of witch-doctor, whose mental health is questionable.
  6. Tubal-Cain defeats the Rocks who were protecting the finished Ark.
  7. A wounded Tubal-Cain axes his way inside the Ark in only about ten minutes and then hides inside. Tubal-Cain then convinces the middle son to lure Noah to the bottom of the Ark in order to murder him (because he was not allowed a wife in the Ark). Tubal-Cain stays alive by eating hibernating lizards. The middle son of Noah has a change of heart and helps kill Tubal-Cain instead.
  8. Noah becomes almost crazy as he believes the only purpose to his family’s existence was to help build the Ark for the “innocent” animals (this is a worship of creation).
  9. Noah repeatedly tells his family that they were the last generation and were never to procreate. So when his daughter-in-law becomes pregnant, he vows to murder his own grandchild. But he finally has a change of heart.
  10. Noah does not have a relationship with God but rather with circumstances and has deadly visions of the Flood.
  11. The Ark lands on a cliff next to a beach.
  12. After the Flood Noah becomes so distant from his family that he lives in a cave, getting drunk by the beach.

There were many other bizarre, unbiblical aspects in the preview cut. Though it’s possible that some of these elements may not make the final cut (though we suspect most will), compare the above list to the trailer that has just been released! The comparison should be very revealing for you. You wouldn’t get much of a hint of most of the biblical problems in the list above based on watching on this cleverly-put-together trailer. A real con job, to be frank!

Yeah, the guy who’s trying to build a Noah’s Ark theme park with junk bonds is claiming that the movie is a con job.

The movie sounds nutty from all the weird nonsense in that plot description, but then, the raw story straight from the bible is also absurd. And why is he complaining about #12? The lizard-eating stowaway isn’t in the Bible, but that part certainly is, in Genesis 9:20-25:

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.