Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yuks And Yuck!

Sounds like a good thing to do. Donate your body to science. Maybe your corpse will help train a young surgeon so when he's working on a living body he will have the practical experience not to cut the wrong part.

Crash test dummies don't provide the same information as a human body. OK, I won't feel the impact, so let my corpse test the limits of new safety restraints in a vehicle.

But leaving my fresh (i.e. unembalmed) cadaver out in a fenced-in grove and let nature run its course to see what happens -- well, let me think about that one. I sunburn so easily. (And I'm already too bloated now as it is.)

And using my lifeless flesh for vain cosmetic reasons, to "aggrandize penises" -- to use Mary Roach's phrase -- I think I'm ending up on the short end of the donation deal.

The nonfiction book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, is a blend of gags (author Mary Roach's snarky comments and puns) and gags (referring to the reader's physical reactions to gross -- and I do mean gross -- anatomy). She mentions how people who conduct scientific research or investigate fatal disasters have to objectify human remains, pretend that they're made of wax, for example. Her humor is her objectification, especially when she sees a bloated body that's been in a left outside as part of research into criminal forensics.

In Chapter 5, Beyond the Black Box, she discusses how corpses can provide additional clues to the cause of an airplane crash. She interviews an injury analyst who investigated the TWA Flight 800 disaster, a plane that exploded over the Atlantic in July 1996 while en route from the US to Europe. Flight 800 is a favorite among conspiracy theorists who believe nothing happens by accident. What appears to be accidental was actually planned, they believe, the result of machinations being executed by a shadowy Mega-Conspiracy.

The argument is that some witnesses noticed a streak of light going up towards the doomed plane, indicating a missile was fired at it. One theory has the plane being shot down by an US submarine that was in the area at the time.

Others argue that the streak of light was only flame shooting out from Flight 800 after vapors in a fuel tank were ignited by frayed wiring. Because of the viewing conditions, an illusion was created that the light streak was traveling upward.

Chapter 5 lays out all the details how the injury analyst determined that it was an exploding fuel tank, not a missile, that caused the crash. Of course Mary holds back on her jokes during this part of the book, showing how bodies retrieved from the ocean provided clues to what happened.

If you're someone disturbed by corpses being classified by a damage rating system -- from Green (body intact) to Red (loss of three or more extremities or complete transection of the body) -- then you won't be able to handle much of this book.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"My Beautiful Indestructible Fish Man"

Rick Baker, eat your heart out.

The title of this post? A quote by Dr. Simond Trent, mad scientist in the movie "Curse of the Swamp Creature" (1966).

This grade Z effort was recently broadcast on the television network This TV, sponsored by that new miracle drug, Colon Flow.

Dr. Trent is hiding out in a Texas swamp, transforming human beings into fish men. Of course, none of these humans volunteered for his experiments but when the law is far away, who's going to stop you?

Well, maybe the local "natives," poor blacks who live in the same swamp. Trent exploits the locals, forcing one to be his lieutenant and number one lackey. Another local ends up as a failed experiment, dumped into a screened swimming pool loaded with hungry alligators who like to chew up the scenery.

Besides the locals, John Agar shows up, a geologist searching for oil in the swamp. He doesn't suspect that the people in his party -- a B-girl, a slow-witted young adult named Ritchie, and a guide named Rabbit -- have done away with the oil man he was supposed to meet. The B-girl -- first name Brenda -- is pretending to be the wife of the murdered oil man, using the name "Mrs. West."

This party of idiots travel by motorboat through the swamp. Scene after scene is shown of the swamp. Hey, it's free, so shoot it. Eventually they end up at Dr. Trent's home where he has been holding his wife a virtual prisoner.

Mrs. Trent -- portrayed by "statuesque" Francine York -- at one point is alone with John Agar. She tells him that her husband is insane, they have to escape. John doesn't buy it. After all, it's normal for someone to keep hungry alligators in his swimming pool.

The party of idiots stay the night at Trent's home. John sleeps in the living room, apparently a sound sleeper. Trent passes by him, carrying another dead experiment from his lab for a late night swimming pool party. Later the mad doctor drugs Brenda, the so-called Mrs. West, and carries her right by John. Apparently John could sleep through Trent dragging a trumpeting elephant into his lab.

Trent has locked up his wife in the lab closet. Despite her screaming, John doesn't hear a thing, despite both the lab door and the closet door not being that thick or soundproof.

Ritchie the stupid overgrown kid goes off and spies on a voodoo ceremony. What is odd is that the leader of the ritual is Trent's number one lackey. Why is he now putting on a voodoo mask and stirring up the others against his master? Motivation is as murky as a dark swamp in this movie.

As the oppressed locals leave, Ritchie is entranced by a girl who danced provocatively during the voodoo ceremony. Apparently voodoo got his mojo working. Following her back to her home, he corners the girl in her dressing room, telling her: "Be good, baby. There's nobody here but us chickens." Will Ritchie ignore the warning about staying away from the river and the quicksand when he chases the poor girl? Do I really have to answer that question?

Ritchie's last words: "I won't hurt you... help me... helpgurglegurgle--"

Let me mention the actor Bill Thurman has a dual roll in this cinematic classick. He's the overweight oil man who is killed in the beginning. And in the end he's the flabby monster with bad make-up who is supposed to be the slender Brenda/Mrs. West transformed into a fish woman.

John Agar wakes up when he hears a gunshot outside the house and somehow he finally notices Mrs. Trent screaming in the closet. The mad doctor orders his creature to attack the mob of locals approaching his home. John and Mrs. Trent try to convince Fishified Brenda to attack the mad doctor. This scene is shot through the eyes of the monster, all three actors trying to influence it/her. It's a technique called Ham-O-Vision.

Mrs. Trent: "Look at yourself! You were a beautfiful girl, Brenda."

The monster visually checks itself, an amazing feat since its eyeballs are painted rubber balls cut in half. Will the monster turn on Dr. Trent and will they end up falling into the swimming pool filled with hungry alligators? Do I really have to -- never mind.

This movie features looped in dialogue done post production inside a big steel bin, beating drums that almost never stop, and sound synchronization off half a beat, from someone hitting a drum to hand-clapping. And let's not forget dialogue that the one microphone could barely pick up. Of course, there's all the "night" cinematography, scenes shot when the full moon was bright as the sun. Filmed more or less in color, apparently on some WW II era Kodak film left inside a hot warehouse in Brazil.

A small turtle makes the perfect crunchy snack while experiencing this disasterpiece.

[If you're a fan of goodbad movies, check out this series by X. Dell over at his blog, The X-Spot:]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Creating Dialogue With The FW Method

Does confrontation lead to conversion? Or is it better to try to open up a dialogue with someone who doesn’t share your view, calmly explaining your position, pointing to facts?

Apparently Rebecca Watson prefers the FW Method when promoting the skeptical viewpoint over at . And what is that method? Check out her post on May 29th, 2010 entitled “It’s Like He’s Trying to Explain Evolution to Fuckwits”.

Yes, calling others who don’t share your POV “fuckwits” will really lead to changing their minds.

The title is actually a quote from Rebecca’s husband regarding book author Dr. Ahamed Kutty and his theory that the children of Adam and Eve didn’t commit incest. Kutty states that human fossils dating back 25,000 have been found that show the same DNA as modern man and these other humans mated with the children of Adam and Eve who appeared later in this world.

Adam and Eve, says Kutty, were the first fully developed human beings – they had “God conscious” – while the humans before them were not fully developed. Adam and Eve were created to lead other humans to God, to become moral.

Hey, I don’t buy it, especially Kutty’s conclusion when Adam and Eve were created. Unfortunately all I have is an interview with Kutty on Fox News (the video clip is linked in Rebecca’s post) where he had to present his beliefs in a TV news nutshell, no time to elaborate. I'm interested in learning how he concluded that Adam and Eve appeared 12,000 years ago. So I am skeptical about his views – but note I’m also skeptical about skeptics and some of their opinions.

Here’s Rebecca’s take on the issue:

“That’s right: an entire book devoted to the challenge of using science to justify Biblical creationism while reassuring Christians that no, you did not come from a guy doing the nasty with his sister. (But he may have fucked a monkey.)

“Be warned: the stupid is strong in this one. Please keep all palms far from all faces throughout the entirety of this clip.”

Instead of name-calling and stereotyping, it would’ve been better to question the basis behind Kutty's assertions. Like the Fox News reporter did in the video clip, the woman that Rebecca called “the idiot anchor.”

Leave it to Rebecca to preach to her cynical choir and leave out any possibility of possibly changing someone else’s mind because anyone who believes in creationism is a fuckwit. Interestingly, her attitude comes across as “holier than thou.”

Polarization is so much better than engaging in debate.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Channeling Heaven

If you've been victimized by a Catholic priest, then St. John the Apostle, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Jesus want to help you.

That's the message of "Heaven Speaks to Victims of CLERICAL ABUSE" (2005). The book is written by "Anne" but not in the sense of a traditional author. Described as a wife and mother, "Anne" hears messages in her heart from above which she records and shares with others. The process of "interior locution" -- which has the semblance of "channeling" as practiced by New Age psychics -- has resulted in a series of booklets published by the non-profit corporation Direction for Our Times.

As noted in "Heaven Speaks to Victims" Anne's bishop has given permission for the messages to be published. The publisher adds that all messages have been submitted to the Holy See for the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur.

The nihil obstat and imprimatur are official declarations granted by Roman Catholic Church officials that state a printed work is free of doctrinal or moral error but without the implication that the officials agree with everything presented in the work. What is important is the work won't harm one's faith or morals. It sounds like a variation of the standard disclaimer, "The views expressed by guests / interviewees / listeners / commenters are not necessarily those of this TV station / radio station / newspaper / Website, etc."

Here are some key points found in "Heaven Speaks:"

-- St. John the Apostle states that Jesus didn't assault young ones. It was done by those who had free will, who decided to commit such sins. Jesus didn't give free will to the abusers to assault innocent children. It was given so that a soul could choose heaven freely.

-- The Blessed Mother says that the world will benefit by the suffering of all victims because they will obtain from Jesus healing graces for their souls and also for other souls around them.

-- Jesus explains that clerical abuse is a double betrayal: both the victim and him were betrayed by those who claimed to serve heaven but instead served the enemy. Due to the circumstances of these misdeeds he is allotting unlimited graces for the healing of all victims. (Skeptics may say that Jesus is playing favorites.)

More information about "Anne" and her messages can be found at .

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Oh, Those Auqanette Girls!

The Aquanettes. Don't confuse them with the hairspray product (Aqua Net) or the Belgian beach volley team (AquaNet). These young ladies are US astronauts in training under the ocean surface.

Yup, it's another classic episode of Sea Hunt, that old TV series starring Lloyd Bridges as scuba hero Mike Nelson. In an episode from 1961 he's been hired to help out with a special governmental program, Operation Astronette, training three women for a space trip to Venus. Apparently being underwater duplicates conditions on Venus.

Why Venus? Well, that planet is named after the goddess of love. And after all, Venus is for women while Mars is for men. Not to say "The Aquanettes" episode shows any signs of sexism from that time.

Of course, one trainee -- let's call her Sensitive Sue -- has problems, makes a mistake. She gets upset and cries. The real tough cookie of the trio, Brass Bitch, scorns Sensitive Sue. BB says Sue doesn't have what it takes to be an astronaut.

The third girl in the trio is Amiable Amy, at least amiable towards stud Mike Nelson. At one point she and Sue get in a catfight over Mike. Our hero throws both of them off the boat into the water to cool off.

Obviously these gals are ready for a rigorous space mission that doesn't tolerate any mistakes.

As the story progress, Sensitive Sue is involved with another screw-up while training with the others underwater. Back on the boat Brass Bitch rips Sue a new one.

Later Sue turns up missing. She's dived in by herself to prove she has the right stuff. Mike and the other two Aquanettes/Astronettes don their scuba gear and search for her. Mike gives BB his spear gun because sharks have been spotted. But when a shark shows up with the munchies, BB freezes up. But everyone escapes and are soon back on the boat where BB apologies to Sensitive Sue for the way she treated her before.

You see it's different when the flipper is on the other foot. Upset for freezing up and not dealing with the shark, Brass Bitch cries.

I think these three gals were chosen not for their expertise. They were chosen for their expendability. ("Dumb broads. Shoot them into space and let God take care of 'em.")

After seeing this episode, I began to wonder. Since it was such an emotional moment, did Neil Armstrong cry when he first stepped on the moon?