Thursday, January 30, 2014

Papal blood stolen for clone?

SPEARHEAD is on the trail of a radical militant Catholic sect called the "Paladins of Yahweh” whom they suspect are behind the theft of a precious reliquary containing the blood of John Paul II from a remote mountain church in Italy on Saturday.

The stolen reliquary. In the centre of the medallion is a piece of cloth on which Pope John Paul II's bled after an assassination attempt in 1981.

World news reported the reliquary and a crucifix, were stolen from their location in the Church of St Peter of Ienca in San Pietro della Ienca, Abruzzo, Italy. On Monday a team of aboiut 50 Carabinieri police officers, aided by sniffer dogs, searched the area close to the church at the foot of Gran Sasso, a 9,550ft- high mountain in the Apennines east of Rome in in the belief that the thieves might have immediately dumped the stolen objects as was the case in a similar theft of the pontiffs blood stolen from a priest while he was travelling on a train north of Rome, but alas there has been no such luck here.

It’s believed that because John Paul II is due to be canonised by Pope Francis in April, that the reliquary, one of only three in existence, will increase exponentially in value and this may be simply a tale of old-fashioned greed. Nothing other than the crucifix and reliquary were stolen from the church, not even the collection box, which might indicate that this was a “commissioned” robbery.

Meanwhile, Giovanni Panunzio, head of Osservatorio Antiplagio an anti-occult group suggested that the theft might be linked to Satanism. “This period of the year is important in the Satanic calendar so this sort of sacrilege often takes place at this time of the year.” Some cults see the period of January 20-27 as a time for the “abduction, ceremonial preparation and holding of a sacrificial victim for Candlemas”, a feast day celebrated along with other “satanic revels” on February 2nd.

However, SPEARHEAD is currently only investigating because the Paladins of Yahweh have become a noteworthy and “highly motivated threat” according to Major General "Jäger" Brandt, SPEARHEAD Deputy Commander for Security and Surveillance. This is believed to be due to Pope Francis’ extremely moderate views uncharacteristic of a person in his station, which include but not limited to: eschewing the traditional trappings of his position for mundane accommodation and vehicles, general acceptance of homosexuals, debunking the traditional interpretations of hell and purgatory, assuring atheists will have a place in heaven and making a blood-sacrifice to Falconus, God of Birds. “It’s almost certain that groups like the Paladins of Yahweh would be incensed by Pope Francis' actions” said General Brandt “and we must draw to the inescapable conclusion that their theft of the relic was for the sole purpose of developing a clone of Pope John Paul II to somehow ‘rise from the dead’ and get the Catholicism back on their track.”

During question time General Brandt said that while there was absolutely no evidence supporting the theory that the Paladins of Yahweh were even involved, let alone possessing the scientific knowledge or technology associated with human cloning, he assured the press that “it was still the most likely scenario” and added “It just really has to be ja?”  In response to a final question Brandt said “As a matter of fact I’ve just finished reading ALL of Dan Brown's novels, but I fail to see what this has to do with anything. We’re finished now ja?” and he just left the podium.

Source: Irish Times / The Telegraph / BBC / Mr. V

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Movie review catch-up 29-01-14

This movie is based on a book which Sylvester Stallone purchased the movie rights for years ago because he wanted to make it into Rambo IV. However what must have happened was that someone must have reminded Sly that John Rambo wasn’t a former DEA agent, nor had he a daughter so this was totally the wrong book to buy for Rambo IV and he went in a different direction for that sublime masterpiece and shelved Homefront for later.

Another reason why Homefront wouldn’t have worked for Rambo IV was that it’s basically Commando and Raw Deal rolled into one and to be fair, even Sylvester Stallone is above knocking off old 1980’s Schwarzenegger movies for his second most famous character. However with the likes of Jack Reacher and 2 Guns proving that Hollywood seems to be in an 80’s/early 90’s fad at the moment, Homefront is not out of place. Jason Statham is Phil Broker a former DEA agent trying to make a peaceful life for himself in Louisiana with his young daughter but his violent past catches up with him when their lives are disrupted by both local hoodlums [great performance from James Franco]  and the desire for revenge by a man whom Broker put away.

Whopper's Rating: ***


Children of Men is one of the few British movies I own, so when Alfonso Cuaron set his next movie in space, but not sci-fi space, I became quite intrigued. Cuaron crafted a gripping,  at times frightening and deliberately claustrophobic tale of a female astronaut [Sandra Bullock] and her quest to survive in the cold darkness of space and return to the Earth.

Now despite what the complaints from Niel Degrasse Tyson “buzzkill of science” would have you believe, over 99% of the audience either won’t know or won’t fucking care that you wouldn’t be able to see space debris in the manner depicted in the movie. The realism of the movie is nevertheless far above the Hollywood norm for this type of film and eschews the customary sounds in space that are often added for theatrical reasons and favours instead Steven Price's score to aurally punctuate the events on screen. The result is indeed a bleak representation of the otherwise exciting realm of space but not entirely without it’s own excitement. See it in 3D if possible.


Whopper's Rating: *****

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Peter Jackson's fifth epic middle-earth movie won’t disappoint those that enjoyed the first past of this new trilogy begun last year. Here however we have a much more cohesive adventure, less exposition, more neck-breaking action and a rather large dragon!

Tolkein purists will get their noses in a knot with the addition of Legolas and the creation of Tauriel but I’m not going to stand here and complain about Orlando Bloom representing the finest screen depiction of an elvish ranger and certainly not feign disgust the hot red-headed elven totty in the form of the delectable Evangeline Lilly because I couldn’t convincingly do so. As far as I’m concerned I’m sure that if Tolkein had been writing for a Hollywood movie and not the greatest fantasy books of all time then Peter Jackson wouldn’t need to make the alterations he is now.

I think I’ll chalk up Desolation of Smaug to be an excellent middle part of the story, but as we all know the endgame is the most important, and I’ll reserve final judgements until then. The Hobbit: There and Back Again is released December this year.

Whopper's Rating: *****

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SPEARHEAD: "No unidentified craft or structure on moon"

SPEARHEAD today denied what it called “ridiculous” reports of an enormous spacecraft, or structure apparently lodged in the surface of Earth’s moon.

Reports emerged last week that a large object of unknown origin was visually verified as having landed or was constructed on the moon. The reports claim that as a result, three Terrier-Orion rockets were launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility last Wednesday on undisclosed missions for the DoD.

Apparently they believe that in 2011, NASA began tracking what a source described as “an array of massive, three-dimensional, black structures in space, in straight-line formation, advancing in direction of planet earth” and in 2012 the source [identified only by an assumed name “Dr. Eric Norton”] was shown photographs of them taken over several months. As the objects got closer, Norton confirmed that "They were shaped in the best way I can describe, as a three-dimensional L-shaped craft."

It was reported that once the objects had reached a point 200,000km beyond Mars in January 2013, they vanished, but their assumed trajectory brought them in close proximity, or direct contact with the moon. It is said that in response, the U.S. launched a previously Obama-cancelled project LADEE [Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer] in September to supplement NASA's existing Lunar Reconnaissance Orbital Camera [LROC] to assist in locating and photographing the objects and “by December, 2013, both LADEE and the LROC found at least one of the two enormous objects had landed on the moon, in a crater the size of the City of Chicago.”

No source was specified, but it was reported that LROCs high resolution images were classified by the U.S. government, however it’s low-resolution photos were “accidentally” uploaded to Google Moon, a Google Earth-type application that plots the lunar surface, and of course the objects were seen by members of the public – revealing the incredible secret!

SPEARHEAD responded to the media reports at a press conference where the SPEARHEAD Assistant Commander for Intelligence and Information himself, Brigadier General “Whopper” Creedon in his first full press conference since assuming the post in November, was quick to rubbish the claims of the media reports. The General described the media as obviously having a “slow news day” where they were behaving “like barnacles” latching onto the totally refutable claims  of “some irresponsible quack, who is obviously high on drugs” in reference to Dr. Norton and that they should adopt a more stringent policy when vetting sources.

The General issued concrete assurance that there was no unidentified spacecraft or structures on the moon and that the people who are looking at the photos have equal judgement to the “bunch of time-wasting freaks who saw rats and lizards” in the recent photographs of the Martian surface. Responding to questions, Creedon also stated that many NASA projects had received special funding from "elsewhere" to proceed as planned and the DoD frequently launches craft at a moments notice for secret surveillance purposes and to increase drone range across the planet. "There's nothing to be concerned about," he assured.

According to SPEARHEAD's senior scientist Dr. "Quantum" Pataal, who assisted Creedon "there are several far more rational explanations for the moon photo anomaly including but not limited to: space debris passing by, tricks of light, meteorite impacts or the more likely scenario which is simply stitching artifacts from applying hundreds of square images onto a three dimensional spherical object". The latter phenomenon is often seen in Google Earth itself and is common in modern 3D video games.

Unfortunately, General Creedon's press conference was cut short by what appeared to be an emergency as his aide-de-camp handed him a cellphone. Nearby microphones picked up him saying: "Jade Rabbit is dead?.... How?.... It found WHAT?..... Dear God!"

Source: Turner Radio Network / / The Daily Mail / The New York Daily News / Mr. V

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Movie review catch-up 21-01-14

Escape Plan
Stallone and Schwarzenegger have teamed up before but that was really only for the last act of The Expendables 2. In Escape Plan they get near equal billing and screen time in this glorious homage to The Great Escape, er I mean that other epic prison escape movie Fortress!

It’s fairly bizarre seeing Schwarzenegger actually act for a change playing an intelligent individual rather than just grunting as shooting, although there’s plenty of both including his appropriation of a Helicopter-mounted machine gun which he fires from the hip. Stunning performance also from Jim Caviezel as the prison warden with Vinnie Jones as the over-eager head guard lapdog.

Whopper's Rating: ****

Ender’s Game
Based on controversial homophobe Orson Scott Card’s classic sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game is the tale of a child prodigy trained to become the supreme battle strategist for the human race as it prepares to defend itself against attack from an insect-like alien race.

I’m probably going to dump this in my disc collection with the likes of Wing Commander, the movie based on the game, as I wouldn’t consider this a potential classic science fiction movie by a long shot but I’d certainly watch it again. Sir Ben Kinglsley shows up to support Asa Butterfield [Ender] with Abigail Zombieland Breslen, Hailee True Grit Steinfeld and Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff.

I’ve been told to read the book to fully appreciate how much Hollywood has “butchered” this classic science fiction tale, but from what I’ve read so far, the decisions the producers made seem to be entirely understandable. 

Whopper's Rating: **** 

Thor: The Dark World
Worthy sequel to a movie that I originally thought would fail because I think the character is a bit silly to be honest. However Branagh made it work and now Alan Taylor gets to deliver a tale of epic proportions as Thor imprisons Loki in the aftermath of The Avengers but must learn to work with him against an ancient enemy to save his beloved Jane from being consumed by darkness [along with the rest of the planet].

Here the ground work is laid for “phase 2” of the Marvel Super Heroes arc that will continue in Captain America: Winter Soldier and on to Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2. Everyone from Thor returns for The Dark World, so no surprises. Christopher Eccleston [who wants to be a ‘real actor’ so much he snubbed Doctor Who's reunion] is the woefully substandard villain. Natalie Portman still looks like she just doesn’t want to be in the movie but a tip of the hat goes to Stellan Skarsgård for bringing even more life to Prof. Selvig this time around. Cameo alert: You will recognise Chris O’Dowd you may not Benicio Del Toro, you have been warned!

Whopper's Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ignorant cinema texter taken out!

As this did not involve a currently serving law-enforcement official it can't be added to my Shoot First... series, but it nevertheless highlights a justifiable, if a tad overdramatic, response to something that ought to be considered a heinous crime.

Earlier in the week, a dispute over the use of a cell phone inside a cinema “escalated quickly” to quote Ron Burgundy, leaving the cell phone user dead and a smoking gun belonging to a former police officer.

The dispute began around 13:30 at a showing of new Mark Wahlberg movie Lone Survivor at The Grove 16 Theatre in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Curtis Reeves Jr., a 71 year old retired Tampa Bay police captain, asked Chad Oulson 43 to stop texting on his cell phone. According to media outlets Oulson apparently refused, telling Reeves that he was sending text messages to his young daughter. Reeves subsequently alerted the theatre staff, an act which seemed to escalate the confrontation.

A Marine Vietnam vet and eyewitness in the theatre, Charles Cummings [68], told reporters that the men started raising their voices and popcorn was thrown. According to authorities Reeves allegedly drew his .38-calibre semiautomatic pistol in front of about 10 people and shot Oulson.  According to the arrest report, Reeves claims that the victim struck him in the face with an unknown object and said that he was in fear of being attacked and the shooting was self-defence. Judge Lynn Tepper rejected the notion that second-degree murder charges were too severe and refused to let him out on bond.

Personally, I think that people who use their mobile phones in a cinema deserve to be shot. It’s a darkened room and cell phones are bright with increasingly bigger screens nowadays and are very distracting. Chad Oulson was given ample warning by Curtis Reeves to cease and desist but was too much of a dickhead to comply. Interestingly, he was also allegedly sending a text to his daughter whom different media reports are saying is aged between 22 months and 3 years, in any case – too young to have a cell phone, so if true, Oulson was apparently a bad parent as well as an asshole.

However, perhaps surprisingly I don’t think Reeves was entirely justified in his actions in this event; this is because the trailers were still showing. You see, the main feature hadn’t actually started yet and I think it should be OK to use your phone up to the point where the movie proper actually starts. Regardless of the lack of justification, we now live in a world there this has happened; of course the lesson here is if you use your phone during a movie from now on, you should be prepared to go down like a punk.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Paul Hellyer reveals undisputable alien presence

Canada’s former defence minister The Honourable Paul Hellyer PC spoke on Russia Today recently saying that alien species have been visiting earth for thousands of years and they’re worried that humans are going to wreck the planet. He said up to 80 different species regularly visit earth; some are the familiar “grays” seen in popular culture and caricatures while others pass as humans.

Hellyer explained that they come from all over the galaxy but while one or two of the species were benevolent and wanted to help humans, we haven’t seen more of them until very recently because they’re bound by a code of conduct from providing superior knowledge to us, presumably similar to Star Trek’s 'Prime Directive'.

Hellyer said military investigators had found strong evidence that at least four species had been visiting earth for much of human history, and their visits had become more frequent since our discovery of atomic technology. He explained their fear that we would start using atomic weapons again.

He said aliens had accepted that humans had a right to run their own planet, although they were concerns about our stewardship of it and while aliens wish they could share more technology with humans, they’re afraid we’d use these advances for warfare.

Unusually, SPEARHEAD were not quick to denounce, or even prevent Hellyer from being broadcast. Master Warrant Officer “Chatterbox” Hendrickx of the SPEARHEAD Public Affairs office said in a press event that former minister Hellyer did great service to his country in the 60's and some of the very model that he used to unify his country's armed forces into a single organisation was used by UNETIDA to do the same with international forces in the early 1970's.

MWO Hendrickx was keen to point out that although Mr. Hellyer did not speak for SPEARHEAD, his "wise and level-headed counsel would be welcome at any negotiation table" between the people of Earth and the beings from [in Hellyer's own words] "near one of Saturn's moons" in due course.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 The year in review

Time to say goodbye to 2013.

President Obama's second inauguration ceremony
A year of a Royal Baby, Civil War in Syria, the Horse-meat scandal, The Boston Marathon Bombings, Lance Armstrong coming clean, a new Pope, Ed Snowden, The Gathering, Lee Rigby, Obamacare, Costa Concordia, the iPhone 5S, The Washington Navy Yard, The U.S Government Shut-down, Chris Hadfield, Miley's Twerking, Typhoon Haiyan and "Whopper"'s first star.

As always we must acknowledge those we lost in 2013, especially;
The American novelist Tom Clancy [66]. 
Colm Murray [61] Irish sports journalist and broadcaster. 
Ray Harryhausen [92] American stop-motion animator famous for Clash of the Titans
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher [87] Prime Minister of Great Britain (1979–1990)
American film critic Roger Ebert [70]
Wojciech Kilar [81] the Polish composer of the score to Bram Stoker's Dracula and The Pianist. 
American actors Paul Walker [40], James Gandolfini [51] and Dennis Farina [69]
Irish actor Milo O'Shea [86] and British actor Richard Griffiths [65],
and British-Irish actor Peter O'Toole [81].

We also acknowledge the passing of the following individuals who made the history books:
Milton Olin, Jr. [65], American businessman, Chief Operating Officer of Napster (2000–2002),
Mikhail Kalashnikov [94], Russian weapons designer (AK-47, AK-74),
Kadir Nurman [80], Turkish-born German restaurateur, inventor of doner kebab,
Doug Engelbart [88], Inventor of the computer mouse
Ray Dolby [80], American audio engineer and inventor (Dolby NR, surround sound),
Seamus Heaney [74], Irish poet, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1995),
Itaru Ishida [33] Japanese Magic: The Gathering player. Level 48 Planeswalker & Japan's 1st Pro player.
William C. Lowe [72], Former IBM executive credited with helping to bring personal computers to the masses.

We mourn the loss of the following members of the entertainment industry:
James Avery [68], American actor, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Uncle Phil) / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (voice of Shredder)
Joseph Ruskin [89], American actor, Star Trek ("The Gamesters of Triskelion") / Deep Space Nine / Voyager / Enterprise
Marty Hornstein [76], American film producer, Star Trek VI / Insurrection / First Contact / Nemesis
Lewis Collins
Lewis Collins [67], British actor, The Professionals / Who Dares Wins
Marcia Wallace [70], American actress, The Simpsons (voice Edna Krabappel)
Ed Lauter [74], American actor, Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The First Duty")
Lou Scheimer [84], American television producer, He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, co-founder of Filmation
Otto Sander [72], German actor, Das Boot (Kapitänleutnant Philipp Thomsen)
Ann C. Crispin [63] American science fiction author, Star Wars: The Han Solo Trilogy / Star Trek: Sarek
Lee Thompson Young [29], American actor, FlashForward
Michael Ansara [91] Syrian-born American actor, Star Trek / Star Trek: DS9 (Kang)
Joe Conley [85], American actor, The Waltons (Ike Godsey)
Mario Machado [78], American news anchor and actor RoboCop (Casey Wong)
Michael France [51], American screenwriter, GoldenEye / The Punisher
Richard LeParmentier [66], American actor, Star Wars (Admiral Motti)
Quinton Hoover [49], American artist and trading card illustrator, Magic: The Gathering
Michael Gray [77] American director, screenwriter, writer/producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation
Jane Henson [78], American puppeteer, co-founder of The Muppets
Malachi Throne
Malachi Throne [84], American actor Star Trek "The Menagerie" (Commodore Mendez) / Star Trek The Next Generation (Senator Pardek)
Derek Watkins [68], British trumpeter, played on every James Bond soundtrack Dr. No to Skyfall
Peter Duryea [73], American actor, Star Trek "The Cage"/ "The Menagerie" (Lieutenant Jose Tyler)
Jim Mees [57], American Emmy-winning set designer, Star Trek: The Next GenerationStuart Freeborn [98], English make-up artist, Star Wars
Michael Winner [77], British film director, Death Wish
Leslie Frankenheimer [64], American set decorator, Star Trek: Voyager
and we thank them for their talents.

We also acknowledge the passing of those who dedicated themselves to military, science and public service:
Cpl. Rodolfo Perez "Rudy" Hernandez, U.S. Army [82], Medal of Honor recipient, Korean War
Sir Christopher Curwen [84], British Head of the Secret Intelligence Service (1985–1989)
Nelson Mandela [95], South African anti-apartheid activist and politician, President (1994−1999)
BGen Margaret A. Brewer, USMC (retired) [82], First female USMC General Officer
Sgt. John Druse "Bud" Hawk, U.S. Army [89], Medal of Honor recipient, World War II
Denis Foley [79], Irish Fianna Fáil politician, TD ('81−'89, '92−'02), Senator ('89−'92).
Noel Davern [67], Irish Fianna Fáil politician, Minister for Education ('91−'92).
MSgt. Nicholas Oresko U.S. Army [96] Medal of Honor recipient, World War II
Cmdr. Scott Carpenter USN Ret. [88], test pilot, astronaut and aquanaut, 4th American in space
Maj. Martin Drewes [94], German military pilot, World War II flying ace [52 victories]
Michael J. Noonan [78], Irish Fianna Fáil politician, Minister for Defence (1987–1989)
Wg Cdr Kenneth Horatio Wallis DSO MBE CEng FRAeS PhD RAF [97], 28 bomber missions over Germany, Autogyro Stunt Pilot James Bond: You Only Live Twice
Adm Sir John Forster Woodward
Adm Sir John Forster "Sandy" Woodward GBE, KCB [81], Royal Naval Commander, Falklands War Task Force
William P. Clark, Jr. [81], U.S. National Security Advisor (1982–1983),
Gen. David C. Jones USAF Ret. [92], Chief of Staff of the Air Force (1974–1978), CJCOS (1978–1982)
Col. Bud Day, USAF Ret.[88], POW, Medal of Honor recipient, Vietnam
Oberstleutnant Otto Schultz [93], German Luftwaffe ace, [73 aerial victories]
Thomas G. Clines [84], American CIA agent [Iran-Contra]
Adm. Frank Kelso, USN Ret. [79], American naval officer, CNO (1990–1994)
Col. Jack Hawkins USMC Ret. [96], aka "John Haskins", Battle of Bataan, POW, Military Commander Bay of Pigs Invasion
TSgt Vernon McGarity U.S. Army [91], Medal of Honor recipient at the Battle of the Bulge
Marshal of the Soviet Union Viktor Kulikov [91], Warsaw Pact CinC (1977–1989).
Maj. Tom Griffin USAAF [96], American aviator, member of the Doolittle Raid
Flt Lt Sir Alan Smith, CBE, DFC [95], British World War II Spitfire fighter ace
Wg Cdr Peter Olver, DFC [95], British World War II Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire ace, Battle of Britain
CPO Christopher Scott "Chris" Kyle [38], Navy SEAL sniper, [160 confirmed kills]
we thank them for their service.

May they all rest in peace.

And now we embrace the future of 2014!

Happy New Year