Friday, November 23, 2012

The Life Institute AKA Team America

Ah the Life Institute. One of the many anti-choice organisations to come snaking out of 60a Capel Street, along with Youth Defence, the Mother and Child Campaign, and the Pro-Life Alliance. That building is like a big anti-choice Hydra. I swear if you chopped off one of its lying heads another one would spring into place screaming "LOOK AT THE BABY!"

So when Geoff offered to send me the stats he had collected about their @lifeinstitute Twitter account, I said why yes please kind sir. I'm not one to turn down an opportunity to snark on one of Ireland's infinitely annoying extremist anti-choice groups, especially when they're claiming to represent the views of the majority of people in this country and have taken to harassing TDs by bombarding them with phonecalls.

Here's what I learned about their Twitter fanbase.

Well now, would you look at that? It would appear that Irish accounts aren't all that interested in what the Life Institute have to say, and they themselves aren't particularly pushed about what Irish people have to say, either.

Look what happens when you take the descriptions of their followers and turn them into a Wordle.

Click to enlarge, unless you have bionic eyes.

My. What a diverse and eclectic mix of people with such varying interests.

I'd also like to show you a few of the descriptions themselves:

Born in the USA! The best things in life: Adonai, family, friends, milk chocolate, jet planes and a 9mm semi automatic. 

Constitution lovin, NRA, Conservative, sarcastic, Hillbilly, Redneck, Oath Keeper, Military loving, father, grandfather, dirty ol' man. 

 #Christian #PROLIFE #ISRAEL #NRA #Glock #Texas #USMC 85-95. #Indiana #IARNG 97-01. #Texan by birth #Marine by choice. #infidel. Follow or RT ≠ Endorsement 

Wow. I don't even have to do anything to make fun of them. Pro-life AND pro-gun. 

And just because it's hilarious, here's a recent tweet from one of the accounts followed by the Life Institute:

Peacefully grant the State of North Carolina to withdraw from the United States and create its own NEW government

You guys.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Night of the Running Dead

So the trailer for World War Z has landed and is making its way around the internet at a pace almost as fast as the fucking RUNNING zombies in the forthcoming film.

I love World War Z. I was properly scared while reading it and the Bear had to put up with me whimpering and gasping "oh nooooo!" while I read, as did a train carriage full of people who probably thought I was mental. It's one of my favourite books and when you know that one of your favourite books is being made into a film, you kind of have to lower your expectations and will pretty much always end up being one of those dickheads that moans about the book being better.

I get that a book like World War Z would be impossible to film without making huge changes and that's fine, but my problem is with the fast zombies in the trailer. The book manages to pull off this growing sense of dread as the world starts to get overrun by the undead, and it's that build-up of terror that proper zombies are all about. Zombies are scary because, yes, they're rotting, moving dead people and that alone is horrible enough, but it's the slow, creeping relentlessness that really scares the pants off me.

Fast zombies like the ones in 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake aren't really zombies at all. They're rabid people infected with a virus, which is fine (although not for them, I suppose) but it does make them a different class of monster. The whole point of zombies is that they're dead. Simon Pegg pretty much nailed what I'm trying to say in a brilliant Guardian piece from a few years ago that he recently tweeted in response to people asking what he thought of the WWZ trailer:

"The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I'll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It's hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all."


The TV version of The Walking Dead has done a great job of screen zombies, although I did get mad at them in one episode where they seemed to have the dexterity to climb over fences, which was total bullshit. As is the fact that Danny Trejo isn't playing the Governer, but that's besides the point. Aside from the fact that the fast zombie is a pretty big deviation from what the classic zombie is all about, my chances of survival would drop dramatically if I had to outrun the fuckers.

It'll be a shame if the film leaves out the worldwide character plotlines from the book and just shows Brad Pitt running around and saving his family, as that was what made it so enjoyable in the first place. Seeing the ways in which each country dealt with the outbreak, the Battle of Yonkers, Israel's self-quarantine plan, North Korea's population disappearing underground, so we don't know if there's a functioning human city beneath the country or if there's a fuck-ton of shambling Korean zombies down there are all things that added extra layers of delicious detail to the usual people vs. zombies story. Also, seeing as I'm not sold on the film having FAST HOORING ZOMBIES (to quote the lovely Dawn) in the first place, I'm not entirely convinced on the swarming tsunami of CGI zombies climbing up a huge wall and toppling a bus like a wriggly herd of dead bastards either.

I'll still go to see it when it comes out and I'm looking forward to seeing how they tackle the story, but basically what I'm getting at is that fast zombies can go fuck themselves.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Dangerous Love

I've finally returned to the series of genuine Eighties-tastic delight that is Sweet Valley. And it's time for book six.  

Sweet Valley High #6: Dangerous Love

It's another gorgeous day in Sweet Valley (is it ever any other kind of day? I don't think it's rained in a single book so far) but Elizabeth Wakefield is on edge. You see, her super perfect boyfriend Todd has bought a motorbike but her parents have forbidden the twins from ever getting on one after their ridiculously-named cousin Rexy died in a motorbike crash. I vaguely remember Rexy being mentioned in other books that I would have read back when I was twelve or whatever, but I always assumed that cousin was a girl. It seems even more ridiculous now that it turns out that Rexy was a dude all this time. I mean, Rexy? Seriously? What would that even be short for?

Anyway, instead of just telling Todd why she can't go with him on his bike, Elizabeth is avoiding him and making up excuses so she can drive to school instead, as she's worried that he'll choose his bike over her. For once in her life, Jessica puts aside her psychotic tendencies and is actually the reasonable one, convincing Liz to just explain what's going on to Todd. So she does and Todd understands. Athough I'm not sure how much he actually understands, as at one point he says:

"The Elizabeth Wakefield I know is cautious, practical, and methodical, but she’s not a worrier."

For fuck's sake Todd, have you ever actually met Elizabeth before? In Power Play alone there were fourteen references to her being worried. After their conversation, Elizabeth watches Todd hurry off to work on a class project and thinks to herself that "everything was going to work out fine." Which is really the equivalent of her being the girl in the horror film who wanders off in her nightie, saying she'll be right back.

Todd and Elizabeth have agreed to meet at the Dairi Burger after school for the diner's big re-opening so Liz can fill her pointless Eyes and Ears column with gossip while kidding herself that she's a serious writer. Also, the Dairi Burger has undergone something of a makeover, which won't date badly at ALL.

"The most visible improvement was the replacement of the dingy, white tiled exterior with natural wood planking. The neon sign atop the roof, which used to read D RI URGE was gone too, and in its place was a brown plastic sign with the words spelled out in yellow script letters."

Nothing says class like yellow letters on brown plastic. Also, DRI URGE? Kate William, you're killing me. Anyway, Todd shows up at the diner with some bird from his class on the back of his bike, so Elizabeth acts like this automatically means they've been fucking and gets crazy jealous. A few days later he gives Enid a spin on the bike, leaving Liz on her own at the bus stop and giving her the opportunity to be all tragic on the way to school. "Blinking back tears, she found a seat on the bus and rode to school alone." Aww.

Later that day, Liz goes to the school newspaper office and ends up telling sexy Mr. Collins all about how upset she is over everything. He tells her to cop on and talk to Todd, in so many words, which she resolves to do. "It was funny, Elizabeth thought. Mr. Collins was always around when she needed him." Looks like those night vision goggles are paying off, Mr. Collins.

Liz and Todd are meeting at the Dairi Burger after school again, because it appears that no one is getting fed at home in this book. Instead of taking the bus, Liz accepts a lift from Guy Chesney, keyboard player for The Droids, who then proceeds to creep all over her in the car on the way there, while asking her about her boyfriend. It's pretty weird. When they get to the diner and Todd sees Liz getting out of Guy's car, he gets all jealous, the great big hypocrite, so they talk it out and laugh about how silly they're both being, with Todd deciding that he won't bring any other young wans for a spin on his bike anymore.

Meanwhile, Jessica has the big steely balls to ask Elizabeth if she'll convince Enid to set her up with Enid's sexy cousin Brian. According to Jessica's logic, that time she tried to screw Enid over she was actually doing her a favour and reckons that Enid "owes her one". Oh Jess. Never change, you total looper. At first, Enid tells Elizabeth that Jessica can go and shite (again, in so many words) but later on in the book she changes her mind and decides that Brian would have such a good time with Jessica that it was spiteful of her to refuse. Eh YES Enid, it's ok to be spiteful here because Jessica is a CRAZY BITCH WHO TRIED TO RUIN YOUR LIFE. Jesus, these kids suck at holding a grudge.

So, Enid is having a party for her sixteenth birthday and despite the fact that all the cool kids seem to have no time for her whatsoever, absolutely EVERYONE in the school is going. Also, her boyfriend George is in college and Enid is FIFTEEN. And that doesn't seem to strike anyone as a bit weird. The college boys in Sweet Valley like 'em young. It's creepy. Oh and the chapter right before the party ends with: "Enid's party was going to be great, Elizabeth thought. She could hardly wait." At this point she's practically running around shouting "What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!" Boy, I sure hope nothing TERRIBLE happens.

We get to the party, and the Sweet Valley Country Club is all decked out in blue and yellow carnations and sounds like a Leap Day party from 30 Rock.

Oh, and Mr. Collins is there as a chaperone. At a party that has fucking nothing to do with the school. GET A GODDAMN HOBBY, DUDE. Seriously.

Anyway, Elizabeth spends the entire party waiting around for Todd to show up, instead of just joining her friends and having the craic. She knows everyone at the party and yet she waits outside for most of it, like an idiot. Todd eventually shows up when everyone else has left, as the party has moved on to a club. It turns out that he was so late because he was sorting out selling his motorbike to Crunch McAllister, the local high school dropout and construction worker who drives a purple van. (No, really.) Elizabeth decides she wants Todd to drive her to the club on the bike, as it's her last chance to have a go on it.


Todd says no way, as he promised her parents that he'd never let her on it, but she wears him down, so they go for a spin and everything's great. EXCEPT IT'S NOT BECAUSE THEY CRASH. And they crash because they meet Crunch on the road, drink driving in his Mystery Machine and Elizabeth ends up in a coma. NOOOO!

Everyone is super sad at the hospital and all the Wakefields are mad at Todd. Mr. Collins shows up, because it appears that he has nothing else to be doing, and consoles Todd.

"You look like you need a friend" Mr. Collins said. When Todd didn't respond, he grabbed the boy around his waist.


The book ends with Liz still in the coma and Jessica promising to be a better sister from now on. Ha! Let's not hold our breath on that count. But will Liz come out of the coma? With only 146 books in the series to go, it's anyone's guess. THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME.

Notable outfit:
"After much searching, her twin had finally found an outfit that did her justice, a black-and-white satin jumpsuit held in place by two tiny spaghetti straps. With her hair piled atop her head and long black-and-white earrings dangling from her lobes, Jessica looked stunning."


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 118
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2 (Boo.)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Eye colour mentions in general: 6