The Sixth Estate
Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Skeleton Key and The NHL Forecast

And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol'n forth of Holy Writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.

The Skeleton Key
4/10 STARS

The Skeleton Key is yet another film in a long line of sub par horror/thriller films we've seen in the past few years. Kate Hudson stars as Caroline, a disenchanted New Orleans hospice worker. Looking for a change of pace, Caroline takes a job at a rural Louisiana estate caring for Ben Devereaux (John Hurt). Ben has been left totally paralyzed and unable to speak after an apparent stroke. Ben's wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) is a shrewd, old fashioned southern woman, who is suspicious of Caroline right from the get go. Violet gives Caroline a skeleton key that will open almost every door in the stately Louisiana home, except one. When Caroline is not caring for Ben she spends most of her time exploring the massive house, and in the attic she discovers one door her key won't open. After forcing her way into the mysterious room, she is shocked to discover bones, spell books, and other instruments for practicing Hoodoo. Hoodoo is a mysterious southern art used for protection and healing. Caroline questions Violet about the room, and learns that it belonged to the servants of the previous owners of the home. The servants, Papa Justify(Ronald McCall) and Mama Cecile(Jeryl Prescott) were brutally lynched and killed in the 1920's when it was discovered they were practicing Hoodoo. Sensing that the dead servants, the mysterious room in the attic and Ben's condition are somehow related Caroline sets out to unlock the mysteries the house holds.

Considering the acting talent in this movie, the film is a big let down. John Hurt is an excellent actor and does good work here, but Peter Sarsgaard who is also an excellent actor, feels very under used in this movie. To me The Skeleton Key was just a lot of wasted potential. It had an interesting enough premise, but just failed to deliver in nearly every way. Rather than trying something new, the movie sticks to formula, predictable plot devices and scare moments can be seen coming a mile away. Of course the movie wouldn't be a formula thriller if it did not have an amazing twist at the ending, and it naturally it does have a twist. However, when the so -called twist was finally revealed there was a tangible feeling of disappointment in the theatre. The movie desperately wants to be better than it is, and it shows.

What struck me as odd was that Kate Hudson's character became instantly suspicious about the house. She's supposed to be a college drop-out and yet she acts more like a private investigator in the movie. Perhaps the only redeeming factor of The Skeleton Key is that Kate is scantily clad in nearly every scene she's in, running around the house in her underwear, randomly taking showers and the like. I'm not complaining, but it struck me as a little gratuitous at times. I wanted the movie to be good, I really did... But it was so bland and predictable that I couldn't enjoy it. For example, in one scene Caroline stops at run down gas station on her way to the mansion and you just knew that some jittery local was going to come out and warn her about that haunted Devereaux place. I found myself able to tell exactly what was going to happen next. A good movie in this genre should keep you guessing, and The Skeleton Key keeps no secrets from the audience.

Have you seen a horror/thriller movie in the past 5 years? If the answer is yes, then you've already seen The Skeleton Key, nothing new to see here. In fact you've seen it done better in movies like The Sixth Sense and The Gift. I didn't know what to expect from this movie, but having seen it I can say I was soundly underwhelmed.

And now on to more pertinent matters: The NHL!

I was discussing which teams looked like they were in the best shape for a Stanley Cup run this year with some people earlier. The consensus is that The Philadelphia Flyers and the Ottawa Senators are in the best position at present. Certainly getting Peter Forsberg in and Jeremey Roenick out is a good move for the Flyers, personally I can't stand Roenick as a person, but he is a hell of a player... Forsberg just happens to be better. And as much as I dislike Philly, I agree with people that they are sitting pretty for a Stanley Cup shot.

Other teams in good shape seem to be Pittsburgh, with the next one : Sidney Crosby, Lemieux and others on board they're in a good spot these days. The Calgary Flames have retained almost all their pre-lockout players and have added Tony Amonte and Darren McCarty. Watch out for the Flames

As for Ottawa, I don't care what people say. The Leafs will destroy them in the playoffs yet again, Hasek be damned. What is best in life? Conan the Barbarian put it best, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentation of their women." So will it be with the Senators come playoff time, when the Leafs crush them... again!

The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be in an interesting spot. Gone are Roberts, Nieuwendyk, Leetch, Mogilny and Nolan... these guys were practically all my favourites on the Leafs. But we did pick up Eric Lindros, Jeff O'Neill and Jason Allison, a younger batch but all seasoned vets in their own right. I don't know what will happen until they start playing. They have a solid line up and have kept some of the key guys like Sundin, McCabe, Domi, Kaberle and Belfour and added some new faces. Should be a good one.


- Will
Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More Evolution Debate : Why is this a debate?

The theory of Evolution is exactly that, a theory. To truly prove Darwin's theory would literally require eons of scientific observation, and seeing how Darwin's ideas have only been around for about 150 years, we seem to have a long way to go. Most of the world has moved on. It was hoped by many that science and religion would stay at least 500 feet from one another, and that has been the case for the most part in the last century or so, with a few hiccups here and there..

Gone are the days of legal fiascos like the Scopes Monkey Trial, an effort to get the theory of evolution banned from schools in Tennessee in the 1920's. Most in the western world would like to think those days are behind us. But the growing tide of religiosity in the United States, particularly of the Christian Evangelical variety has reopened old arguments, of science versus religion, biology versus theology, Darwinism versus Creationism.

Creationism is also a theory, it holds with the Bible's view of the origin of life as we know it. That is, that the Judeo-Christian God, created the Earth in 7 days, created Adam in his own image and Eve from his rib, and so on. When weighed against actual empirical evidence, the theory doesn't stack up too well, but as with all things religious it requires a leap of faith. Lacking current evidence for many elements of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, scientists too must take a leap of faith, but unlike their Evangelical counterparts do not infer Divinity in the absence of fact.

Armed with their faith, Evangelical Christians, in the United States particularly, have made Creationism a doctrine, and veiled it under the name of : Intelligent Design. Conservative Think-tanks and advocacy groups in the United States are preaching Intelligent Design as fact, using PR firms to propagandize their "science", challenging the long held Theory of Evolution as invalid, the very basis of the modern science of biology, which has in more ways than can be mentioned changed the world we live in for the better.

I'll respect a man's faith, I'll respect his right to an opinion. Though I may not agree with Evangelical Christians or so called Intelligent Design advocates, I'll let them say what they want to say. However, when matters of religion and state intermix, as they are increasingly doing in the United States and religious views are forced on individuals, and potential scientific facts are withheld, that's when I take issue. Take Kansas, surely to diminish the role of evolution plays in the origin of life when it comes to teaching children, is to strengthen the Intelligent Design Argument. If they truly want to equalize the arguments, and expose the their school children to a wide array of viewpoints when it comes to the origin of life; why not educated them about the stork bringing newborn babes home, or John Smith's treatise that all life is descended from cheese. Why not teach your damn kids something that has a scientific basis in reality? Instead they're choosing to force Christian views on the whole of society, which to me borders on Theocracy... But hey that's just me.

Many others have put it more eloquently than I, and frankly the fact that this debate even exists anymore is mind-boggling to me, enraging me to no end. But hey, I'm not religious, and am firmly based in the scientific interpretation of the world around me. To each his own, just don't cram your views down my kids throat. I am so very glad I am not a citizen/resident of the United States, I don't have to, and will not have to deal with this ridiculousness.

In short, Professor Richard Dawkins is my new hero. He's considered the worlds foremost Darwinist.

Please check out the following:

To hear an interesting "debate" between Professor Dawkins and George Gilder, a leading advocate of Intelligent Design check out this On Point Radio interview.

Charles Krauthammer also wrote an interesting article in Time Magazine last week. Coming from a fairly right-wing guy this is quite refreshing.

And for further info on some of these Conservative Think Tanks and Advocacy Groups, who are the main proponents of Intelligent Design, check out this New York Times article on the subject. (Thanks for the link Dad)

That's all for that little snit.

Just so you know, when Jesus isn't busy doing whatever it is he does, he sometimes makes personal appearances. Not to be out done by his mother Mary, who has appeared on windows and under Chicago overpasses, Jesus has shown up quite a bit lately. It seems the American infatuations with good eats and good religion have finally come to a head. First it was the Jesus Grilled Cheese Sandwich and now it's the Jesus Perogi.

A Michigan housewife was making perogies on Palm Sunday 2005 and the J man decided to make an appearance on one of the said perogies. Now like any good Christian, the woman decided she would try and make a quick buck off ol' J.C. so naturally the said perogi is now available on eBay, opening bid $500 US. Take a gander at the Jesus Perogi. Perogies happen to be one of my favourite foods, so I would invariably eat the Jesus perogi. "Dear lord... I know I should eat thee... But... mmmmmm..."


Vaya con Ciencia.

- Will
Friday, August 05, 2005

A Day At The Rat Race

Hear me more plainly.
I have in equal balance justly weigh'd
What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer,
And find our griefs heavier than our offences.


"Don't let the name throw you Jimmy, it's not really a floor. It's more a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported."

"This train is now out of service.", the loud speaker announces as we come to a gentle stop inside Union Station. I lift my eyes from the book I'm reading and look around the car, Half asleep people, dazed and confused people who just woke up, people with sunglasses and ipods, working people ready for the day. As I wait for the doors of the train to open I look at the man standing next to me. He's about 70 years old, and wearing the same thing I am. White short-sleeve business shirt and black khakis. He seems happy, but I know he's been doing the same job most of his life. 50 years with a company and then they take you out back with shotgun in hand.

It's 8:30 am. The cogs of the business world started turning hours ago, I am playing catch up. Over-priced croissant and ice-cold juice in hand I step into my office, also known as the copy room. Faxes and mail need to be delivered, and without my skilled hands the copiers might not have enough paper to last the hour. 5 pm is as far away as it's going to be today, and that is a depressing point I make to myself every weekday at about this time.

I'm glad my co-workers seem to enjoy what they're doing. But as a summer student at this company, I am tasked with the most menial of duties, so I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed my job. It is money in the bank after all, so what do I have to complain about? The people I work with are great and in general it's an enjoyable place to work.

My real fear seems to be the thought of becoming like the man on the train. I can't stand spending the entire summer inside... This beautiful, inordinately hot summer. Even if I did continue this job and begin my climb up the corporate ladder... The prospect of having to do that just seems dumb to me. Has LIVING in this society of ours become so purposeless? You get a job so you can make money. You use your money to provide for yourself and increase your standard of living. You get promoted and you make more money, raising your standard of living again. You work your ass of in this job for years and years so you can retire. Maybe you did well for yourself and your family, and maybe you didn't... But now you can retire and eventually die! Oh joy! Was your life worth it?!

The whole rat race ethos: the bullshit, the politics, the repetition, the clawing at any chance for advancement. It sickens me. I just can't see myself doing that, I don't want any part of it. And I know that if I'm not careful I'll find myself right in the thick of it.

I feel like a douchebag for writing all this angsty bullshit, "I am not a number!" etc. Someone will probably say "Well, that's what they all say Will." Well fuck 'em, I'll be damned if I don't try and break the mould.

It's just a summer job, but now I have a perspective on the business world. I've seen the bottom and I have no interest in the 'supposed' top.

These days on the internet, after someone types something like this they often say "Get a blog!". Well here it is. At least I know what I'm writing is angsty bullshit, unlike say, every user of livejournal.

Here's something to brighten the mood, a proper version of the Tom Yum Goong trailer. Tony Jaa's follow up to Ong Bak, Tom Yum Goong is a full-contact, insane acrobatic, no wires Thai martial arts flick.
Behold the Tom Yum Goong trailer.

Can't wait.

- Will
Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Morning Commute and Personals from Hell

I will not jump with common spirits,
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.

"... that guy is a whack job. Traffic is up next. You're listening to the Dean Blundell Show..." I blindly reach for the on switch of my bedside lamp. It's light outside, but it really shouldn't be. 7 am is far too early for my tastes.

Stumbling into the shower, I am quick to discover the unpleasant realities of 6 hours sleep. Just a few more hours is all I want!, But work just stares smugly at me.

It's August 2nd, the day I select my university courses for the upcoming year. I boot up the computer, the bright monitor boring a hole into my brain at this early hour. The University of Toronto has a "neat" little system called ROSI (Repository Of Student Information), which allows you to add courses from the comfort of your own home. The comfort and convenience of your own home means you have to awake early just to ensure you can even get a spot in the courses you want. I begin to add my courses.


I mentally crush my monitor with my bare hands. ROSI, I have discovered is incredibly innovative in the field of ANNOYING THE HELL OUT OF ME!

Two silent, seething minutes pass. I add my courses. How generous of you ROSI!

Still in a half-sleep I step into my work clothes, hastily brush my teeth and hair and step outside to enthusiastically face the day! Why are the people on the street so awake and I'm not?

As I walk towards the GO station people emerge like clockwork from the side streets. Literally in a line as they all trundle towards the same place as I do: Danforth GO Station. Their hair like mine, still wet from the shower. They also share my look of enthusiasm, you know the one? It's the 'Yay, we get to go work now!" look.

Like cattle we all pile on the train, headed for spiritual slaughter downtown.

"Come on Jimmy lets go take a peak at the killing floor!"

Part II tomorrow.

And now onto less depressing things!

Personal Ads From Hell

Mature Bear Encephalopodosexual seeks same. Must enjoy nature, long walks on the beach, Magic the Gathering, and Yanni. No weirdos. - tonyb

Piercing Fetishist seeks raw meat for hours of piercing ecstasy. If you don't look as good as I do by the time we're through you can sue me! - Rhonda

Nocturnal Briton seeks companion to aid in basement excavation, good digging skills a must. Must provide own shovel. - Mick

Eastern European grandmother seeks elderly male, uber-tanned companion for Riviera get away. Thongs will be provided, clothing optional. - Herta

Well that wasted some time.

Pork Brains anyone?

Time for some Battlefield 2.

- Will

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