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Thursday
Nov282013

This is life - Part 1 - The Beginning and Middle

By the Evil Truth

Ah the ever ticking monstrous clock that is mortality, getting louder the longer you are around to here it's fading chime. What happened, where did your youth go? Why do you have large amounts of hair petruding from places it really shouldn't, whilst disappearing from places it really should be sticking around.

Welcome to life....... and hear is the most miserable cynical but truthful run down of just WHAT life is, you'll ever read.

Our Formative Years:
As a child we can't wait to be older, every month counts as we strive to be able to do the things grown ups do. We want to be like the big people, being small is no fun, no-one listens to you (much like how you end up when you are old.

Our school years are bloody awful. We are endlessly analysed and tested and told to behave a certain way for reasons which escape you at the time.

At school there is no such thing as normal, keeping your head down and not being noticed is as much as you can hope for but never really happens. You can try and make sure you're the loudest, strongest and most obnoxious of all the kids, I mean the only way to not be bullied is to be bullied right?

At school you get the shite kicked through you every week because you have the wrong name or surname, the wrong brand of shoes, clothes or accessories (your parents are pikie because they didn't buy the latest sports/designer brand and they dressed you like that fat kid from Grange Hill). Because you look or act different, because you are too intelligent, because you aren't intelligent enough. Getting through those years without some kind of resulting social anxiety or parental resentment for the aggressive over bearing encouragement they did or didn't give you is incredibly unlikely. So embrace your resultant neurosis, becauset it's all character building right? Forced competition and endless humiliation makes us the beautiful people we are now, remember that it'll come in useful during therapy in later life.

At College/University I became a man/Wo man:
Nope not even close, University (specifically an arts degree) is the most pointless exercise known to British education. You learn nothing except how to become an enormously selfish and self important arsehole. Oh but you get to reinvent yourself, throw away your nerdy past and school embarrassments. Suddenly you are cool, you can get laid because no-one knows who you really are, you are finally a peacock strutting round, spreading your wings, sowing your seed. There is no rules, infidelity is encouraged, no-one is loyal to one other, friendship counts for absolutely nothing, all that matters is self indulgence. You spend a few hours a week at lectures, so why not spend the rest of the time shagging your best friend's girlfriend or boyfriend, cheating on the long term partner you left behind to embark on your onerous voyage of self discovery. There's plenty of time to do lots of lovely drugs and alcohol (you can blame all your most loathsome behaviour on your intake also so win win), playing video games, fall out with friends, drop out of your course and somehow get on another one the very next term.

Come on! Find yourself! Don't sleep around and cheat on other people with just the opposite sex, how boring is that! No you can get far more attention and scandal if you do it with as many as people as possible in the most controversial social circumstances you can engineer. Remember being a selfish wanker needs a certain amount of equality applied, to cause as much harm as possible to people because your feelings and urges change like the wind you need to be equally shitty and morally unpleasant to all, whether they be gay, straight or bisexual. Or else why bother going onto further education? If it backfires you can always make a weak attempt your own suicide and all is forgiven.

Don't forget to get yourself in massive amounts of debt or fleece your parents of their savings just so you can spend 3 or 4 years acting like a total bell end, it's a worthwhile objective. 

So your University days are up, the real world looms, what now? All the debt and narcissism was worth it wasn't it? You're going to walk into a lovely well paid job and impress your entire family aren't you? What NO? HONESTLY?

Not only is your Uni degree about as much use as a McDonald's at a Vegan Festival, it also means you have absolutely no life skills whatsoever. Just because you managed to buy/resell drugs from some dealer called Beezal who rides a 1960s bicycle, can't remember what happened between 1983-90 and always spends three hours talking shite to you when all you want is your weed. That doesn't mean your an expert businessman. There is no award in life from learning to act like a grade A selfish twat (oh wait..... yeah that's all wrong isn't it).

So suddenly you are left out in the cold, STD covered dick in hand. What next?

Well it's fine, you know people right? You have family and associates who once bummed someone important in the face and can get you a position on a expensive course, or a entry level job or work experience somewhere really cool. Of course you do, that's how life works, what's the point in being really middle class if you can't abuse your parental friend's and business contacts. It's not what you know it's WHO!

Or maybe you can postpone work altogether, maybe you have rich parents who can buy you a flat so you don't ever have to save for one. Maybe even in the City you went to Uni at so you can at least act like a total drug addled fuck nut for another few years without having to work, yaaay be a student forever. Come on who wants to learn the value of money, you've spent long enough spending other people's/the state's money, and it's a lot of fun, so why give that up?

Part 2...... coming............ 

Sunday
Oct282012

The Monster’s Within: Interview with Michael Eklund & Eron Sheean



By Dan Collacott

Errors of the Human Body recently premiered in the UK at Frightfest, a dark and cautionary tale about genetics and the destructive nature of grief. The film has also garnered great critical acclaim globally and is one of the sleeper hits of 2012 (and my personal favourite). IFC Midnight haved landed the distribution rights for the film so look out for a full release soon.

Eron Sheean, writer of pitch-black apocalyptic horror The Divide, returns as director. Sheean also cast Divide star Michael Eklund as tragic lead, Dr Geoff Burton, a scientist whose life collapses after he loses his son to a rare genetic disorder. 

The story follows Geoff as he returns to the world-renowned Institute for Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics in Dresden. He teams up with former colleague and lover Rebekka (played by a superb Karoline Herfurth) on their top-secret project - a human regeneration gene. Geoff soon finds himself trying to uncover a conspiracy at the Institute, whilst wresling with his own demons, relationships and past. Watch for a cameo from our own Rik Mayall also! 

The film is beautifully shot within the clinical and snowy surrounds of The Max Planck Institute in Dresden. Much of Geoff’s back-story is told through flash backs that blur between past and present, which in turn keep the pain raw and at the forefront.

The scripting, dialogue and pacing are all measured with a sense of thoughtful calm. The film relies as much on powerful, silent visuals as it does dialogue, to deliver the emotion of the piece. One example of this is when Geoff silently screams in the cold night air, an action that exemplifies his isolation and suffering. Errors is a deeply psychological film that artistically balances horror and drama, building tension slowly until the intensity and cruelty of the morality distorting final act arrives.

We were privileged enough to catch up with director/writer Eron Sheean and actor Michael Eklund to talk about Errors, The Divide and their careers to date.

What was the highlight of working with Michael and what made you cast him as Geoff?

Eron: Watching him perform everyday was a highlight! I cast Michael for a number of reasons, primarily he’s a brilliant actor and importantly a great collaborator and very committed. Also I knew he could bring sensitivity and commitment to the role of a complex and burdened man.

Can you tell us a little about the filming of Errors, what it was like to work with the other actors and what Eron was like as a director?

Michael: The experience of making Errors will always be a marking point on the timeline of evolution as myself as a person, an artist, portrait artist, and becoming a man personally.  Making Errors occurred at a very specific time for me. Filming the movie was a creative outlet in the truest form, and that was also because of all the other actors involved. I was surrounded by so much inspiration. It came in different sizes, colours, personalities, and ethnicities... and that is why making Errors was special. To be part of something defined by so much passion, heart, dedication, was eye opening for me. I learned more, and I grew more as an actor and as a person. This passion spilled over to all of the crew as well.  There are only a handful of gems from an experience point of view that come your way in your career and Errors was definitely one of those shining gems. I had no idea that I was going to find that rare treasure I was searching for all the way out in Dresden Germany. All of the other actors were masters of their craft and the crew was no exception. We had a variety of people from all walks of life and experience levels and the combination of everyone made this experience unforgettable. 

What was it like teaming up again?

Michael: 
Working with Eron again was exciting for us both. Our first collaboration was on the film The Divide. Immediately we had a positive, professional and communicative working relationship. Our artistic minds and creative sides work very similarly. We don’t need to speak many words when speaking. Sometimes it is just done with a look... but we understand each other.  So working with Eron on Errors was like coming home. In more ways than one. Eron's mind works on another level. His eye picks up on things that cannot be seen.  And the exciting part is that Eron has just started cracking his surface, and when that surface and his creative head opens fully I want to be there working with him to see what spills out.

Geoff looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders; there is a sadness and burden conveyed just by your movement and physicality. Eron said you visited the families of those who had lost their children to build the character. Can you tell me more about what it took to get into the mind and body of the character? 

Michael: This was a huge undertaking. And probably the most emotionally and unemotionally driven role I have had to bury myself into in my career. It was important to me and Eron to get it right.  There is sadness and a dark cloud that follows Geoff. He cannot run from it no matter how hard he tries or how far he runs, even to Dresden Germany. I rooted myself in my own life walking this cloud.  This limbo state... almost like a bad dream. Focusing on my own pain and loss.  I have never had to go through the events Geoff has had to deal with in his life, but there were parallels in other ways. Building a character such as this one was challenging.  I cannot say it was an internally happy experience playing Geoff, but there was a responsibility there that I took upon myself to portray a character going through the process of handling and not handling grief.  Riding that balance was challenging and rewarding. Taking on the guilt, sadness, pain, and suffering involved with playing Geoff always takes a toll on your own psyche.  But I understood the foreign feeling of a man at a cross roads in his life and finding himself running from his past. As well as the choices he has made and the consequences that come with those choices.  It took absolute everything from me.

Did the final edit or Errors surpass the vision you had for the film?

Eron: Yes, because you have something in your head, but if you remain too fixed on that you miss what’s in front of your eyes. It’s a little like relying on storyboards too much and missing better opportunities for staging and shots and taking in what the actors bring to the choreography. Also working with my fantastic editor Patrick Wilfert, we would find new ways to combine and change things. That said there are always things in your head you will never rise to.

The cinematography is very beautiful; yet full of hauntingly sterile shades of white and grey, can you tell me more about the aesthetics?

Eron: The film’s aesthetic is really born out of the location, as is the story, so it only makes sense that this is the look of the film. Also, it best suits Geoff’s state of mind and sense of isolation. But the film is not just this as it progresses the colours warms up and the sterility changes.

Tell us more about filming at the Max Planck Institute?

Michael: Filming at the Max Planck Institute was an honour.  They opened their doors to us and allowed us to shoot the film in the institute while they were all working.  There is a very realistic look to the film and that is because of this.  With out the generosity of everyone there we would not have a movie.  I would also like to give a special thank you to Jussi Helppi who was my personal mouse-handling trainer and technical expert.  Jussi represents only one of the many at the Max Planck Institute that helped us so much.  Friends were made on this movie, friends for life...and that is the best way to describe what it was like filming at the Max Planck Institute. 

You and Karoline Herfurth seemed to have a very natural on screen chemistry, what was it like to work with her?

Michael: Ahhhh.... sweet Karoline.  Our chemistry was very real.  She is a true artist and beautiful soul.  Another friend for life.

Is there any of you and your experiences within the character of Geoff?

Michael: There is always a large amount of myself in every role I play.  Obviously the stakes are different and the degrees of experience in my own life varies. But the is always a large part of yourself being stripped away in front of the cameras, you feel naked at times.  You feel beaten down and exposed.  I just release those parts of me and tell the story of the character.  With a talented director like Eron by your side you know you are safe to do so.  And he does the rest.

What was the most difficult scene in Errors to film?

Michael: The moments that I find most rewarding always seem to be the most challenging.  The final sequence when Geoff is alone and strips off his outer layers and burns his last source of connection and lifeline to his wife before he does the unthinkable….. was by far the most difficult.  The attempt to act to the best of your abilities and go to that darkest place imaginable required, can be absolute torture.  To understand and feel the mental state of giving up so much, all that you have, and giving up the last gift you have, the gift of life, as well in the conditions we were shooting in will always be the moment in Errors I will look back on and remember. It was where I left a part of myself, there with Geoff’s departure into his darkness and grief. 

Errors is hard to pin down in terms of genre, how do you describe the film?

Michael: Thats why Errors is special.  It doesn’t have a specific box to be put in.  Errors at its core is a drama with a realistic science fiction edge.

Errors has been likened to the Cronenberg short Crimes of the Future, which is a pretty obscure reference to be honest but are there any films that inspired Errors or The Divide specifically or your work in general?

Eron: Yeah, that is obscure; I don’t recall the film that well. My taste is too varied to pin point one influence over another to be honest. I guess I like filmmakers that tackle tough material and create unique cinematic worlds with a distinct voice…

Errors touches on the boundaries of ethics and how science interferes in nature, where do you think we should draw the line in terms of what we do to 

A) Find a cure for a disease or illness 

B) Ensure our children are genetically perfect or designer? 

Michael: I say whatever works.  Push the envelope.  If science can make our world a better place with out hurting anyone in the process than go for it.  Our minds and imaginations are infinitely boundless. But what do I know about such things? I am just an actor that rents his body out to people to tell stories.

What was the hardest part of making Errors and what did you enjoy the most? 

Eron: Hardest part was getting it off the ground! And shooting in freezing conditions in the middle of winter in Dresden, Germany. I enjoyed seeing the crew having a good time (not always) realising their own creative visions for the film. I love being in a room with all the ladies making the costumes with their espresso machine!

How did the acting process and methods change between playing Geoff and Bobby in The Divide?   

Michael: The acting process was very different between the two films. Eron always writes the most emotionally complex characters for me to play. Which is exciting. As an actor you have to be able to adapt to the different styles of the films you work on. These two films couldn’t be more different.  In the Divide there was a lot of freedom to explore the characters while we were making the movie due to the luxury of shooting in chronological order. On Errors we didn’t have that freedom but it was a different tone of film. The work had to be ready to go before hand. Geoff and Bobby were two different types of emotionally destroyed people.  They both had to handled differently. They both share the theme of loss but in very different ways.  With Geoff the work had to start before hand with the research of a man going through that kind of pain and loss where as Bobby it was found in the process of shooting. Two different films and two very different characters.  But both my most fun and challenging characters to play. 

The soundtrack is many ways superb because it is very understated and doesn't mask or overbear any of the horror or drama. Yet it is very effective and helps punctuate the moments between the narrative, can you tell me a little more about this? 

Eron: We tried to blend music and sound design in such a way that it was often indistinguishable yet we also wanted to use bold acoustic and electronic arrangements that comes namely from Anthony Pateras, the composer and Christina Meyer who composed additional music. I also recorded a lot of atmospheres of the lap equipment and the institute atmospheres to make it feel alive, as it really is a character in the story with its machines humming all night. There are also a lot of abstract sounds such as acutonic forks, which are kind of like a tuning fork used for ‘sound healing’ that create this perfect harmonic tone. We used those to a subliminal effect throughout because they are supposedly tuned to the frequencies of different planets and therefore represent different emotional states; at least that’s what I’m told. Either way it was a cool device.

What has been your most challenging role to date?

Michael: By far my most challenging roles to play have been Bobby from The Divide and Geoff Burton from Errors of the Human Body.  Both of which written by Eron.  I can’t wait to see what he writes next!  I also completed a film called The Hive starring myself, Halle Berry and Abigale Breslin in which that character was also a fantastic challenge.  Another trip to the emotional dark side.  I will need my own professional therapy soon after playing these characters.  HAHA.

Geoff is broken by the sacrifices he has to make for his son and the tragedy that surrounds that situation, do you sympathise with his situation and do you think you would also go to extreme lengths to save a love one?

Michael: Of course I sympathize with someone like Geoff. The amount of pressure, stress, guilt, heart ache, and grief someone like him has gone through and continues to go through, you have to sympathise with him, especially me who had to play a character like that. It is not my place to judge others or the characters I play.  I can analyse but never judge. And as far as to whether I would go through the same extreme lengths to save a loved one or at least help a loved one..... I hope I wont ever have to find out.  But I would do whatever the loved ones asked of me if it helped them.  I do know that.

You and Milo were very convincing brothers in The Divide, did either of you base that relationship on a relationship in real life or did it come about naturally?

Michael: Ahhh my boy Milo.  Let me first start by saying that Milo Ventimiglia rocks!  The relationship that was captured on film during The Divide only seemed convincing because the same camera was catching the real life friendship we developed while making The Divide.  Our relationship was not based on anything else other than the friendship that was formed naturally on screen.  Which is always the best way. 

After The Divide and the upcoming film The Day being both apocalyptic. What do you thing would wipe out humanity first, nuclear war, rise of the machines, aliens, virus/zombies, global warming and dwindling resources, natural disaster including meteorite collision? 

Michael: None of the above.  My answer is ourselves.  We do it everyday.  

What made you want to get into acting and what was your first break?

Michael: I saw my first movie when I was five years old.  It was Lassie Come Home.  It was my first movie theatre going experience and I found it magical, that was the beginning.  My first break was meeting a girl who told me it was possible to be an actor.  My first break was falling in love with that girl and believing her.

You have starred in a some of the most successful sci-fi TV series of the last decade, what were and are your favourites? Also what would be your dream role in sci-fi, film, series (including reboots)? 

Michael: I have been very fortunate.  Again it goes back to the character and their complexities.  My roles on JJ Abrams Fringe as Milo and Alcatraz as Kit Nelson are two of my favourites.  You are as good as the character, story/writer and director you have. I have been blessed to work with the best.  I don’t have a dream role. They are all dream roles.  Each and every one of them big or small.  

What's next? What are your ambitions for the future? 

Michael: My ambitions for the future are to continue to grow, change, explore, and evolve.  Anything else would be my own error to my human body. 

Eron: I have two films that I feel very passionate about at different stages of development, both as complex and hopefully as powerful, if I can be so bold. One is a ghost story about a war photographer and the other is from a British writer about Trepanation, where people drill holes in their head to cure depression, it’s very crazy – a horror love story satire.

 

 

Sunday
Feb192012

Piracy - some stats and figures

If you've checked out the latest LF podcast about digital piracy then you'll know this is an issue that isn't going anywhere fast.

Now in terms of film - my personal opinion is that anyone who wants to see a film will go and see a film, as no pirated version of a film can beat the experience of the cinema (especially with the rise of IMAX 3D and viewing in digital). People mostly download the films they are unlikely to watch at the cinema or on DVD/Blu Ray, because paying between £8-15 to see a film in the cinema (or £12-20 on DVD or Blu Ray) is a big gamble if it is a film you're not sure about (not to mention the price of drinks, sweets and popcorn). The other issues with DVDs and to a slightly lesser extent Blu Ray is that they have so little resale value, you shell out money for something that is basically worth nothing within a few months.

Last year I paid full price to see at least eight films that were terrible, and would have seen many more awful films that way if I wasn't fortunate enough to get to go to free previews.

Which is hopefully why the growth of Video On Demand (VOD) channels such as Lovefilm and Netflix in the UK will help films become cheaper and more accessible to watch. Plus Sky, Virgin and BT will hopefully provide more VOD content at cheaper prices.

And I'm not defending the 'download it because it's there' crowd of users out there, but often those that pirate are the same geeks and film fans whose money and time keep the film industry going.

The same big US film makers own the four main chains of cinemas in the UK, so the whole industry is weighted towards the big dumb high grossing action films, and rom-coms those companies want us to see (and i'm not pretending that I don't like the former). As a result hundreds of brilliant, smaller, independent, foreign or just unfashionable films never reach the audience they deserve. In the US, VOD at least gives an outlet to these films and as I've mentioned above that trend will hopefuly follow in the UK, lets hope so.

But the bottom line is in some cases the only way a film gets viewed is if it is downloaded online and whilst all art shouldn't be consumed for free you would at least hope that in most cases if someone pirates a film and likes it they are more likely to buy the film, or pay to watch future work by that director, writer or actors involved. That doesn't stop the most dumb films being the most pirated though.

Interestingly Torrent Freak have provided the below table of the most downloaded films of 2011 and their grossing figures. Now looking at those figures it doesn't seem that those films suffered, but I am not an analyst so I can't say how much more revenue they would have gained or lost if digital piracy hadn't been an option. I also note that at least 40% of the films below were utter rubbish!

Most Downloaded Movies on BitTorrent, 2011
rank movie downloads worldwide grosses

torrentfreak.com

----------

1 Fast Five 9,260,000 $626,137,675
2 The Hangover II 8,840,000 $581,464,305
3 Thor 8,330,000 $449,326,618
4 Source Code 7,910,000 $123,278,618
5 I Am Number Four 7,670,000 $144,500,437
6 Sucker Punch 7,200,000 $89,792,502
7 127 Hours 6,910,000 $60,738,797
8 Rango 6,480,000 $245,155,348
9 The King’s Speech 6,250,000 $414,211,549
10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 6,030,000 $1,328,111,219

On the other hand there is a vast difference between the most critically lauded films and those most pirated - check out this article from Bleeding Cool

I'm not sure you can take such an optimistically balanced view about video game piracy though as this article probably proves

Here is also an interesting article about comic piracy from Graphic Novel Reporter who went straight to some of the biggest comics publishers out there to find out how they deal with comic piracy

On a final note I don't agree with piracy but I don't think it does as much damage in all instances as the powers that be would have us believe. Ultimately affordability and accessibility in the face of greed is the only way to control piracy.

The one exception to all the above to me is music, as that is a fundementally broken model. Our minds are free, we can consume and follow music from any band nowadays - as the record companies no longer lead us around by our ears and wallets. But this means there is just too much out there and it is harder than ever to decide whose music you should buy and follow! At least Radio hasn't died!

Oh and more from the biggest Torrent site themselves on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) courtesy again from Torrent Freak! 

Thursday
Dec082011

How to tell if your family member or loved one is an alien?

To accompany our Alien Invasion podcast here is proof that we really are experts in the subject matter on which we preach, not to mention sage advice for keeping your family and lovers safe, so read, digest and then let the tests commence!

Appearances are not always deceptive

Whilst it may seem like a basic assumption, there still needs to be a starting point for judging whether or not the body snatchers are wandering insidiously through your living room.  So the first thing you need to do is establish the following basics, by examining your family or partner:

a) They're not green or have protruding antenna from their heads
b) They don't have tentacles
c) They are not blue, anorexic, wear very little, have a tail and claim to come from a Earth like paradise rich in mineral resources.
d) They've not grown a second head (which is probably evil) and speaks in different languages

If those answers are in the negative, then you need to get down to the a more detailed level of examination.

Does their skin show any signs of stress or stretching?

This could mean that - in a very physical sense - an alien has had to stretch your loved one's skin in order to inhabit their body. Or wear them like a human overcoat if you like. If your loved one has lost a lot or weight or is old then this can be a tricky process,  so proceed with caution: killing someone because they have overdone the fake tan is still considered unlawful in some countries.

Is their skin dryer or wetter than usual or show signs of a rash or inflammation?

AKA Chloracne & Xeroderma, this could mean that the human body is rejecting the alien biology or the alien itself is unable to comfortably maintain human form (or at least not all the time). Finding a loved one's skin hung up like a coat in your wardrobe should also be considered mildly alarming unless you are dating Buffalo Bill Levine. Also unusual spots and blemishes cannot be discounted as being alien, a 20 inch wide throbbing pustulating boil on the side of the head that fires out 4ft streams of black mucus that envelops and kills all forms of life through suffocation is unlikely to be the results of a bad diet.

Leakage

If someone you know begins to seep, leak, spit or vomit a green, clear or any other unusual coloured liquid (that has a higher than usual acidity level, or a slimy or viscous quality) from any orifice, wound, abrasion or newly introduced bodily feature, then this should not be considered normal and should require you to enlist help from the authorities (presuming they are not aliens also).

Examine them
Offending a fellow adult by giving them a quick once over is far better than not doing so and getting eaten by them some hours later. If you can touch them up by stealth or by a impromptu shoulder or body massage then this is worth considering (this maybe why there is the 'essential' prefix before some oils'). What you are looking for are any skin lesions, bumps, growths, hardening of soft tissue, barbed hairs, translucent skin, sacks of skin containing liquid, extra shell like armour plating you could have sworn they didn't have before and any extra limbs, wounds, holes or working organs that now sit outside the body. Restraining a loved one with rope or cable ties in order to examine them may be a bit extreme (Boy George learnt the hard way), but most should understand such a procedure and be willing to consent to some form of hastily thought out medical. If they don't then the chances are they are aliens (but probably wise to make sure just the same). Please do not use this method as an excuse to humiliate or destroy unwanted in-laws or ex partners.

The Eyes have it! 

They are the window to the soul and our most human feature, so always check that your family and loved ones: 

  • Don't have any unusual pigmentation, such us yellow, green, black or white - wiping out the visible presence of the main pupil
  • Don't have weird mucus build up or random leakage (see above)
  • Don't blink from side to side rather than top to bottom (you've seen Men In Black you know the deal!)
  • Don't have thinner longer pupil shapes, like that of a lizard (as seen in the 1983 version of V, not the recent crappy remake)
  • Have two eyes (see 'Examine them'). Eyes that see through walls, dimensions or times should be considered suspicious also.

Thanks for the memories

The majority of aliens can easily inherit the memory of the person they are inhabiting so cross examining them about their past intimate secrets may still be a good idea but by no means a complete solution. More important is how they remember events of the past, because most aliens are unable to sync the right human emotion with the appropriate memory. Here are some questions to try (insert equivalent subject matter where not relevant and always say in a serious sincere tone)

a) 'Do you remember the fun we had at Gran's funeral, we didn't stop laughing for days especially when they lowered her into the ground and mum and dad started crying loudly, I nearly pissed myself inside!' (If this memory raises a smile in response to your own mirth then they are probably alien...... or really hate their Gran and family)

b) 'Do you remember when you got really drunk on New Years Eve and got the words to 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' wrong, thank god the police didn't catch you and haul you off to jail and then kill you by lethal injection!' (Even though this would be an appropriate punishment if the loved one eventually displays relief and/or discomfort, then they might just be an alien)

c) 'Was just thinking about our wedding day, you looked lovely although I can't believe the lion escaped before the ceremony and your uncle Derek didn't kill and eat his first born as we originally requested.' (Throwing in random and very wrong social habits and institutions into situations they can remember but are clueless of (the conventions) can sometimes work, as sharing a hosts memories doesn't mean they will actually understand them)

Just the two of us

Remember, aliens often don't show any emotions and there behaviour is bound by mindless routine and working within the collective consciousness of the alien hive brain that controls them, devoid of any individuality. This behaviour can hardly be considered alien though!  Spotting an alien whilst commuting during rush hour is near impossible! In fact if your loved one is barely able to raise more than a grunt after coming home from work then maybe give it a few hours before you decide to alert the government.

Bloody Hell
Getting a blood sample can be tricky without willing participation, restraint or sneaking up on someone with a needle when they are asleep. But if you do manage to get a sample here are things to look out for that you can do without a DNA testing kit (but do have one of those handy just in case).

a) If the blood is green then be alarmed unless you are romantically involved with a Vulcan
b) If the blood is 90% acid and melts the end of the needle then run, run far away quickly
c) Use a hot needle 'When a man bleeds it's just tissue' when an alien is made up of more than one part it will fight to protect itself (R.J. MacReady knew his shit, people!)

Habits
As much as any alien can perfectly take on the characteristics and routines of their host, they will always have to break from what are considered 'normal' habits and behaviour to do whatever such alien fun they need to indulge in to conquer the human race, remain undetected or just act as their true selves. This means you need to follow them and scrutinise their every moment through any surveillance equipment you can lay your hands on, as well as your own eyes of course. Signs they might be alien can be:

a) Feeding on raw meat, eating eggs whole, drinking toilet duck, cooking without utensils, eating household pets or serving them with sauteed mushrooms and cous cous.
b) Saying the words 'Growerg, errrg, blarrgh' after ever fourth sentence (unless in certain parts of Wales)
b) During sex bringing a woman to orgasm in under 30 seconds or.... keeping a man from orgasm in under 30 seconds.
c) Laying fifty large pulsing green eggs in the cleaning cupboard, shed, basement or loft.
d) Spewing acid on their food before eating it (you've seen the Fly!) or telling you they can't eat after midnight
e) Grabbing your knee with two fingers for twenty seconds, breathing heavily, eyes rolled back and then saying 'that was awesome, who says inter-species sex has to be a chore'
f) Referring to themselves constantly in the third person and laughing at holocaust documentaries
g) Belching a cloud of toxic smoke that kills your dog and then saying 'where I'm from that's a big turn on'  
h) Your mum answering the phone and saying: 'This is Zorg how many hours before the lethal gas is dropped that will exterminate the entire human race?'
i) If your Dad wears one piece red lyrca suits and speaks to a disembodied voice called Orson.
j) bringing dead animals or plants back to life (or the random killing of animals or plants by just looking at them).
k) If they are obsessed with phoning a planet in another galaxy/universe even if the mobile tariff they are on clearly doesn't have the credit or bandwidth needed
l) If a loved one dies five years after you first suspected them of being taken over by an alien life form, they probably were a pod person. Likewise if they die fairly rapidly from the common cold then that can also be filed as 'alien like behaviour.'
m) If your loved one tries to kill, eat or lay eggs in you during some very enthusiastic love making

Mind games

Most humans can't read minds or predict behaviour that well, despite what Derren Brown tells you. Therefore try to think things deliberately for the purpose of an alien invader to react to, if you start to think 'I'm going to ask my partner for a shag' over and over and they walk upstairs without prompting then after sex you may want to consider if they are alien. If you hear a voice in your head that isn't your own, don't call the people in white coats straight away, first ascertain who is in the house with you and if anyone is blatantly putting two fingers to their temple and concentrating very hard in your general direction. Also if at the dinner table you ask someone to pass the salt and they do so using their mind alone then again you may want to quietly alert someone that an alien may possibly be amongst you. Some aliens cannot be seen by others, so if you see a loved one talking to themselves or shagging thin air in an excited manor then unless they are Guius Baltar they have probably been compromised by aliens, possibly sexy long legged blond ones.

Tools of the trade
Some aliens can fire venom from parts of their body and poisonous darts from hairs on their back, but most carry weaponry just like our own armies do, so it’s always worth searching the house (and garden shed) from top to bottom for any alien tech they may have brought with them. If your male child vapourises his little sister with a heat ray he thought was a secret toy you put away for Christmas, then you know you've got problems. Also if your husband or wife suddenly become good with technology and/or a computer expert over night then its worth checking their credit card bill to see if 'Advanced IT Lessons' show up anywhere. Likewise if your husband becomes good at DIY, does it willingly (and completes projects) or enjoys shopping, you may also have cause for alien concern.

If your Gran or Grandad start getting heavily involved with Twitter and uploads videos of them both doing the nasty on Youtube then again its worth putting a few checks in place.

Die Verwandlung
Finding a loved one encased in some kind of pod or pupa/chrysalis could well mean they are not the person you once thought. This could mean they are physically transforming into the alien they are playing host to, or having their DNA changed or brain activity altered to become a slave host or willing drone to the invaders. Remember though that this state may have been induced by another alien and the human inside may be still alive! So there is always hope. It maybe prudent to keep the kids away though as some aliens like to turn humans in to some kind of food source, so some cocooned love ones may have been used like a giant slurpee and had all their blood sucked out of them (see Killer Klowns from Outer Space).

Better the alien you know
On the other hand if you have noticed your loved one has become a better lover, or a better mum, dad or sibling, son or daughter then you may want them to remain alien and just go with it, proving their can be positives to any alien possession or body swapping. Falling in love with an alien species can have very real benefits, see Earth Girls Are Easy, Avatar and any film with Lindsey Lohan in it.

Sunday
May012011

Film Industry vs Piracy part 2

Before I continue my ramblings about piracy and the film inustry I wanted to make one thing clear, I don't in anyway condone or support piracy. Yes I do believe we as the consumer should get more value for our money and the industry should work harder to make their product more appealing and accessible. But I don't think all art should be viewed for free.

MP3 Killed the Record Company
The film industry have an opportunity to learn from the failings of the music industry. When Napster hoved into view - arrogant music execs refused to see the writing on the wall, stupid companies and artists like Lars Ulrich threw their toys out of their prams and jumped up and down like angry greedy little pixies.

Now they could have just realised that for years they had been consorting with the high street CD chains to charge the consumer CDs at pretty ridiculous mark ups! Do you remember wandering into HMV or Ourprice and having to pay £15-£20 for a CD because it was the only one in stock or an import? Or £3.99 for a CD single just because it was popular and they knew they could charge that?

Record companies had ripped off consumers and bands a-like for decades and failed to take the threat of downloads seriously. Now bands can get their music out there without having to have their entire lives 'owned' by unscrupulous record companies. Ok the downside of this is that fewer bands can make money out of music like before, most have to work harder than ever and the 'live experience' is crucial to any band's success. It's not songs that make bands and artists money, it is their touring, their merchandising - bands have to do more than ever to compete. I'm not saying that this is fair but at least they are in control of their destiny and not the record companies.

Wake Up Call
The film industry is certainly out of touch with it's customer, it is so heavily dominated by the US that it's only films made by the big studios that gets worldwide distribution by the cinema chains THEY OWN. Films are made for profit, they are made to get you into the cinema - it's far less about the experience you have when you actually get there. You pay £10 -12 for an average ticket in London and almost the same on pocorn and drink (mmm popcorn the most expensive sugar or salty air you'll ever buy) with a high chance that you will come out feeling ripped off.

So what is my point? What will discourage priracy from happening? Well the truth is nothing probably. But if the big companies swallow their pride and lower ticket prices, give distribution deals and backing to smaller film projects and foreign film makers then maybe just maybe more people will go to the cinema rather than sitting in their pants at home watching what at best will probably be a fair lower quality experience via a downloaded avi or some type. Odeon, Vue, Cineworld etc. etc. need to reward their customers with a film membership or loyalty card system that rewards its patrons with free film viewings and money off etc (they've had them before and some do now but most don't).

Obviously making the film experience as good as you can make it helps, digital, 3D, IMAX asa default will defitely make downloading less desriable. But not if you charge an extra 20% for the privelidge, plus not all films need to be in 3D! 

more to follow......