Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hieroglyphic Artistry And Bellydancing

As I'm busy over in the photoblog at present, I am presenting a post today here. This is from the ongoing series at Lansdowne called Ottawa Welcomes The World, where embassies are presenting their nations to visitors in the Horticulture Building. The initiative has been organized through the city in collaboration with the embassies based here as a way to mark Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. Recently it was Egypt's turn, and I came in, where these symbols of ancient Egypt were waiting, as were examples of contemporary era hieroglyphs done in the classic style, art, and works of current day artisans.

Events like this feature documentaries, music, performances, food, and information from the host countries on tourism, investment, or culture.

At one point the performance aspect of this event included a bellydancer. She completely owned the stage and had the audience under her spell.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

At My Signal, Unleash The Spammers

The spammers and the scammers. They never really give up. We've all seen those inevitable variations on the Nigerian Scammer story with the widow/ daughter/ secretary/ mistress of the late reverend/ warlord/ beloved president/ resident flunkie of some distant part of the world, with their horrid grammar, sob stories, and promises of getting rich fast. Just as we've also seen the endless amounts of spam that show up in our spam filters.

For whatever reason, in the last couple of months, one of my photoblog posts from more than a year ago was getting a whole lot of spam comments. They were inevitably shuffled straight to spam folders instead (despite what Google claims, the spam filters are sufficient to get rid of spam, and we really don't need photo captcha identification) of being published, of course, but I wondered why on earth that particular post was garnering so much attention from people desperately trying to spam.

Below are three examples of spam comments, written anonymously, with appalling grammar and sentence structure.

Fine way of telling, and good paragraph to obtain information regarding my 
presentation subject matter, which i am going to deliver in institution of
higher education. 

My souse andd i have been really cheerful that Chris managed to deal with his homework out of the precious 
recommendations he gained through your blog. It is noow annd again perplexing to
simply possibly be handing out hints which usually many people may have bbeen trying to sell.
And we all remember we've got the website owner to thank bercause of that.
Thhe explanations you have made, the simple site navigation,
the relationships your site aid to instill - it's got everything powerful, and
it's really assisting our son in addition to
us imagine that that idea is interesting, which
is certainly extremely vital. Thank you for the whole lot! 

The correct way much can be a Jersey Signed by Tim Tebow The prices of the NFL jerseys signed at Tim Tebow variety from $27.09 - 
$798.thirty, that surely have distinctive sizes and colours.
The prices vary in very a few sports buying stores like: Authentic Signed Sports activity activities,
ebay, Hampster Direct,
Grandstand Sports activities, Super Hockey
Center, and Collector of Sports. Plenty of sports excursions collectible items like
NFL jerseys are extensively attainable on the internet.
They bore the signal in the preferred players reminiscent of Tim Tewbow, that are authenticated by a variety
towards certifying bodies. Having said that, the rates differ found
on dimension, colour, and style. Listed here are your current prices for Tim Tebow's jersey in accordance with items like specifically:
Genuine Signed Sports activities You can easily assurance
that every one sports activities memorabilia out
there discussed below are authenticated by credible many people from TriStar Productions, Athlon
Sports activities, as well as the Highland Mint.
You could unearth a lot of the ok'd collectible things with the renowned baseball, basketball, and nfl football players,
which are all 100%/ genuine. The autographed jersey of Tim Tebow with the Florida Gators team could be described as really
worth $799.99 that will come using a Certification of Authenticity upon buy.

Okay, let's get to it. For that first one, as short as it is, I find it hard to believe this individual is making any presentation in any institution of higher learning. "Good paragraph to obtain information" and "i am going to deliver in institution"? How hard is it to capitalize I? How hard is it to write a phrase that flows properly?

The second one is much worse. They start out with "my souse." Is that "my spouse", or are you referring to your personal drunkard? 

We also have repeated double letters where there shouldn't be- andd instead of and, or bbeen instead of been. And writing bercause doesn't help- it just adds to the impression that you're a drunk.

As it goes along, though, it's more muddled. "The relationships your site aid to instill"- nobody talks like that. Nor does anyone say, "it's got everything powerful, and it's really assisting our son in addition to us imagine that that idea is very interesting, which certainly is extremely vital." Where on earth did this person learn English?

It's the third one, hawking football memorabilia, that is particularly mangled. Capitalized words that don't need it, like Jersey Signed. Weird phrasing- "the prices vary in very a few sports buying stores". Words in the wrong context, and also mangled in their sentence structure- "they bore the signal in the preferred players"- excuse me, what? Were you drunk when you wrote that? Or when you wrote "you can easily assurance that every one sports activities memorabilia out there discussed below are authenticated by credible many people"?

This person, trying to hawk Tim Tebow jerseys, can't even spell his name right, at one point writing it as Tewbow. First off, o spamming nuisance, I hate football. Hate, hate, hate, infinity hate football. Second, you repugnant numbskull, I find Tim Tebow to be a self righteous, sanctimonious, holier than thou wanker. Guys like that, who go out of their way to show, "look at me, look at how righteous and how much of a believer I am" are exactly what's wrong with organized religion. So I wouldn't spend so much as a quarter on a jersey from that prat, let alone $799.99.

Well, they never do go away. It got to the point where I actually wrote a note in that particular post which was attracting so much spam attention. I still don't know why that post has drawn so much of it- it was just a city scenery sort of post, a nice day in the spring of a year ago. Nothing in the tags that would scream, "come spam here". The note was to the spammers still trying to post- 'you'll never get published here, no matter what you try to spam, and if by some miracle you do get past the filters and a comment gets published, it won't be for long, go away, drop dead, yours sincerely, me'.

They still kept trying after that note was added. It makes you shake your head and despair for humanity, stuck forever in a world full of grammar challenged spamming halfwits. Who, no doubt, will try to spam this very post after I've spent it insulting them. Well, nobody ever said they were intelligent, right?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Revenge Of The Washed Up Athlete

Infamous Ex-Football Player To Be Released, Already Making Plans For Post Jail Life

Reno, NV (AP) O.J. Simpson, the former football player turned two bit actor turned occasional TV pitchman turned suspect in the overblown “trial of the century” in regards to the 1994 murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, is back in the news. A parole hearing in recent days has secured his release from a Nevada jail in October, a hearing that was noted for the soft ball questions and fawning attitude of the hearing members towards the infamous convict.

Simpson, who has been doing time for armed robbery at the Lovelock Correctional  Center after a debacle at a hotel casino, has been described as the first reality star, for the way his murder trial captivated the country each day- even if, as a washed up athlete and not very good actor, he didn’t merit the attention. He’s been lauded by some, treated as a pariah by others, and even while avoiding conviction the first time around, didn’t heed enough of a lesson to avoid trouble the second time around, and so wound up in prison for a bumbling attempt to recover his own items.

Now he is soon to be released from prison, a seventy year old shadow of what he used to be, still deflecting responsibility, claiming during the hearing that he’s led a “conflict free life.” The board granted him his freedom as of October in a session highly criticised by some for the lack of hard questions and indulging of the convict. Simpson has spent his time in prison mostly staying out of trouble, aside from a couple of death threats to an unnamed reporter, managing a softball team behind bars, and avoiding anger management courses.

“Damn right I’m ready to get outta here,” Simpson told this reporter by phone from Lovelock. “You got any ****ing idea how ****ing boring jail is? Because I’ll tell you, mother****er, it’s really ****ing boring. No HBO, no access from entertainment show reporters, no strippers, no booze... it’s like they’re trying to keep you in here without letting you have any ****ing fun!”

Asked what his plans were once he gets out of prison, Simpson paused. “Well, first I gotta get back to Florida, because God knows I’m safe there from those money grubbing ****ers who want to take away my money. Yeah, I’m talking about those ****ers who won that civil suit against me. Civil ****ing suit, my ****ing ass! Then it’s what is the Juice gonna do with his time? That’s the big question that every ****ing ****er out there wants to ****ing know.”

As to the answer? “Well, I thought about getting the **** back into football. Who wouldn’t want the Juice back on the team? Even if I am seventy? I could coach a team! Turns out every single team in the ****ing NFL told me to go **** myself.” This reporter wondered if Simpson was aware of how much he tended to swear. “So then I thought, why not make The Naked Gun 4? Sure, Leslie Nielsen is dead, but you could always have Nordberg as the lead! I mean, what Hollywood starlet wouldn’t jump at the chance to play opposite me? Turns out the ****ing studio told me to go **** myself when I called with the suggestion. Buncha ****ing ingrates. Don’t think I won’t forget being rejected like that when I get out, because I never forget, mother****er!”

Another pause by the one-time star turned notorious convict. “Y’know, here’s what it comes down to. I always said I’d go after the real killer. Which I intend to get to. Right after I find out who really did that armed robbery thing, because let’s face it, priorities, am I right? Which is why I’m announcing today, right here, mother****er, that when I get out, I’m opening up a private investigation firm with my buddy. My pal. You can trust the PI firm of Simpson & Kaelin with your case.”

Kaelin, in this case, is Kato Kaelin, the professional moocher and even more obscure reality show figure who was a hanger on and witness at the 1995 murder trial. The failed actor, reality show participant, and radio personality has been scratching out a living for the last ten years traveling to conventions and charging people twenty bucks to hit him in the face. “It turns out a lot of people don’t like me,” Kaelin told this reporter, still looking like the couch surfing dazed, baffled, and perpetually rumpled surfer dude, only twenty years older, that he was during the trial. Though these days, his face looks quite battered.  “Not enough to make me rich, but enough to pay the bills. On the other hand, did you know bruises don’t really heal when you’re being repeatedly hit again in the face two days after the last time?” 

Another hanger-on at the trial, often present in court, was the former wife of one of Simpson’s lawyers. Infamous in her own right, Kris Jenner, the reality show matriarch who’s made a career out of being famous for being famous with her brood of half-wit children, spent a considerable amount of time in court watching the 1995 trial. Her offspring of Kardashian and Jenner narcissists, have spent the last few years getting attention for the sake of getting attention, while avoiding doing anything of particular merit. Kris was smiling in that plastic surgery has limited my ability to smile kind of way when this reporter found her. “O.J.’s getting out of jail! Finally! What a travesty of injustice that he was ever locked up! Think of how I can fit this into the next season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians if I persuade him to move in! Think of the opportunity! Hell, just getting to **** him again will be a lot of fun! Wait, did I say that out loud?”

Back to the man of the hour, who doesn’t seem to understand that a newly paroled convict might get a problem acquiring a private investigator license. “**** that! I can get whatever the **** I want! Nobody says no to the Juice, mother****er! ‘Cause when I get out, I’m gonna get me a license. Then I’m gonna get me a ****ing gun! Then I’m gonna find that ****ing reporter ****er out there who ****ing told people I was gonna ****ing kill him, and then I’m gonna ****ing settle the ****ing score with him, mother****er!”

The call was cut short. This reporter sighed and hung up, wondering how long it would take before the disgraced has-been inevitably finds himself back in trouble with the law. Perhaps within two months. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Miracle In The Midst Of A War

It might well be a surprise that the story of what happened at Dunkirk early in the Second World War has never been brought to the big screen. Some of that might have to do with the fact that Americans weren't involved- this was a year and a half before Pearl Harbor, after all. And yet that didn't stop the film Battle Of Britain from coming out back in 1969 to great acclaim. Now that's been rectified by director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, The Prestige) in a new feature film that has just been released to theatres, telling a harrowing war tale of the survival and evacuation of thousands of men in the face of oncoming danger.

The film sticks with the facts of what happened. With the collapse of the French army in 1940 and the fall of other European countries to the Nazi blitzkrieg, Allied soldiers from Britain, Canada, France, Belgium, and hold outs from other occupied countries find themselves running out of space for retreat. They are trapped along the French coast at Dunkirk, and between May 26th and June 4th, with German forces pressing in, the coastal beaches and town become a possible last stand for an army of hundreds of thousands of men, and a miracle because of what transpires.

Aside from directing the film, Nolan wrote the screenplay, with roots that date back a quarter century during a crossing of the English Channel with his wife Emma Thomas, who produced the film with him. He set the idea aside until he had experience directing big action films, but envisioned telling a war story from three points of view- land, sea, and air. The story is not conventional fodder for Hollywood- no involvement of Americans, and what happened was a retreat, not a victory- though it can be said that the saving of an entire army from the shores of France proved to come back to haunt the Germans when many of those men returned during the D-Day operations four years later.

The story is told from the point of view of those involved- we don’t see politicians or generals in a war room back across the Channel; in fact, we get perspective views from the commanders down to the privates all stuck together on the beach. It’s interesting that Nolan’s story keeps the Germans at a distance- we don’t really see German soldiers up close, but feel their presence as a looming threat. Instead we get the personal point of view of mostly young men, inexperienced boys, really, facing the dread of possible annihilation. Some are shaken by it, others come into their own. We see the bravery and resolve of civilian sailors crossing the Channel straight into danger. The characters are largely composites as to historical personalities, representing in a general sense those men who were at Dunkirk. The film’s narrative does come across as authentic- those of us familiar with the story of the evacuation can see that Nolan’s very careful about keeping to the timeline.

And it turns out that Nolan was wise to decide to leave this film until he was well established. As a director, he’s taken on the intimate and personal in films like Memento, Insomnia, and The Prestige, while establishing himself in larger epic films with his work on the three Batman films he did with Christian Bale, or the meta-scale of films like Inception or Interstellar. Nolan has established himself as a compelling storyteller, capable of character studies and powerful action, and the result is a war film that rates as one of the greats of the genre, telling a story that deserves to be told on the big screen.

Nolan and his crew worked extensively on location, not only on the beach at Dunkirk where it happened, but other spots in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with some work done in the United States for the interiors of a sinking ship. A French destroyer was even used, kitted out like other warships to look more like a throwback to the time. Period planes were brought into the production, along with model work- Nolan chose not to rely on computer generated effects.

From the director’s point of view, Nolan and his camera team have great instincts in telling a war film. Some of that comes from previous experience- take for example, The Dark Knight Rises, which has the tone of a war film in many ways. But it shows itself in the ferocity of combat that comes across on the screen, or the harrowing, claustrophobic feel of sequences throughout the film. It shows itself in the characters, some of whom are shaken or broken by what they’re going through, others who push on through. War is hell, and Nolan gives the audience the chaos, horror, and tension of it throughout the film.

In preparing for the film, Nolan spent time with some of the surviving veterans of Dunkirk, hearing their stories, and some of the things that were impressed upon him was how young they all were at the time. The director chose to go with young actors, most of them unknown, for the rank and file members of the cast, and it was a wise decision. With the exception of one of them (Harry Styles, the singer, who at least doesn’t humiliate himself as a first time actor), who’s famous in a completely different entertainment genre, most of the younger cast members are not known to the public at large. Going for the unknown turns out to be the right call- these young actors like Tom Glynn-Carney or Jack Lowden allow the audience to get to know their characters on their own terms.

That’s not to say there aren’t well known actors involved. Cillian Murphy, who has worked with Nolan on several films- including his memorable take as the Scarecrow in the Batman films- is particularly poignant in his performance as a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. James D’Arcy, who appeared in Agent Carter as Edwin Jarvis, and in the British series Broadchurch, appears as a British colonel, preoccupied with the fate of those men under his command. Mark Rylance, who recently won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Bridge Of Spies, appears as Mr. Dawson, an experienced civilian sailor who takes his boat into peril and faces it with steadiness and quiet courage.

Tom Hardy gets a good deal to do as Farrier, a pilot with the Royal Air Force whose point of view we get into from action in the air as the RAF duels with Luftwaffe pilots. The actor worked with Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises for his memorable take as Bane, and here his character is calm, sympathetic, and methodical.

Kenneth Branagh, the great Shakespearean actor of stage and screen, gets a terrific part as Bolton, the senior commander on the beach. Like his men and those of the other Allied forces finding themselves in peril, Bolton shares the danger. He worries about what’s to come, hopes for rescue, and keeps calm and measured in how he handles his men. Branagh gives the character stoicism and resolve.

Nolan’s main point of view character is, until now, an unknown actor. Fionn Whitehead plays Tommy, a British private, one of thousands of his kind. The young actor has some previous experience in Britain, but not a lot, and here gets a role that makes a serious impression. He embodies the young man who went off to war against the greatest evil human beings have ever come up with. Men like him might not have known what they were quite getting into, but rose to the occasion, despite what fear they might have felt. Whitehead becomes our eyes and ears, and the actor conveys the experiences and perspective of a soldier facing great peril in just the right way.

Dunkirk does not rely on manipulating drama to tug at the heart strings. Yes, it can be moving at times, but never in a way that feels forced. Instead it conveys the tension and suspense of war, the steady sense of unshakable fortitude, the danger of the situation, and the immediacy of the soldier’s point of view. In telling the story of an evacuation and retreat, Nolan gives us a film that sticks with the events as they happened, a harrowing war film that might well stand as one of the best of its genre... and it's the best film of the year.