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Yesterday I went out to see Kick-Ass with my younger sister. Today I found the Daily Mail’s review of the film. The first thing that comes to mind for me when I see a film is usually “OMGIMUSTREVIEWIT” and onto the internet a review eventually goes. Upon seeing this review by the Daily Mail I figured I would kill two birds with one stone (not literally of course, Daily Mail) and pick apart the Daily Mail’s review while also pointing out why it is wrong and giving my own thoughts on the film.

Okay, you know a review is going to be extremely promising when the reviewer gives the film one star and the verdict is “evil”, and later the reviewer also says that the one star they gave the film was “overgenerous”.

It begins:

“Millions are being spent to persuade you that Kick-Ass is harmless, comic-book entertainment suitable for 15-year-olds. “
Um… no, millions are being spent to persuade people who may be interested in the film to go see it. This is calledadvertising and is a common consequence of the aftermath of making a movie. Anyone who takes their 15-year-old to see it or lets them go has not done their research and is very irresponsible. (That said, while I was still bad with movie gore at fifteen my younger sister was most certainly not.)

“It deliberately sells a perniciously sexualised view of children and glorifies violence, especially knife and gun crime, in a way that makes it one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever.”
Emphasis mine, by the way. At no point during the film did I feel that the character of Mindy/Hit Girl was sexualised, as this reporter claims. She was a small girl completely covered from head to toe in a clunky, protective outfit. She shows no other skin than her face in her costume. What part of this is sexual? It also does not glorify violence. Knife crime in the film is harshly punished (anyone who is seen using a knife is obviously a bad guy – Kick-Ass uses batons) and at least one “good” character we see who could be seen to be advocating guns is clearly batshit crazy. Okay, the truly evil guys are brought to “justice” using violence, but there is no point within the film where I would think ‘Yeah, that looks like a good idea – dressing up like a superhero and getting the shit kicked out of me or killed for trying to beat up some really dangerous people.’

The next part I’ll skip because it just goes on to say that the main character is Dave Lizewski who has no superpowers, no money but later acquires by unfortunate accident nerve damage (lessens pain received) and metal plates through him. Very unfortunate accident.

“The plot is an unimaginative clone of Spider-Man 2”
What? If this is the case, you will need to complain to the comic-book writers.

Blah blah blah, rip off of other movies, blah. I wonder if the Mail know this is a British film?

It then goes on to say that it turns the real world into a foolish, smug kind of comic strip. Huh. I think this speaks for itself really. It also goes on to comment that the hero learns nothing “extreme violence against criminals is cool, which is something he thought in the first place”. So… he learned nothing then? Seriously though, he did learn something. Something of a spoiler if you haven’t seen it, but he does learn that he isn’t a hero, he cannot continue trying to be something he’s not (something Spider-Man said, before going back to crime-fighting) and he stops. It might be after Hit-Girl’s mission is done but life goes on after that. Sorry Daily Mail, but if you don’t like that life can go on you have issues.

“The reason the movie is sick, as well as thick, is that it breaks one of the last cinematic taboos by making the most violent, foul-mouthed and sexually aggressive character, Hit-Girl, an 11-year-old.”
AHAHA, as well as thick, oh that’s a good one. Wait, no it isn’t. Anyway, Mindy is aggressive, but not sexually. It’s all too obvious that a man wrote this article. Are women not allowed to be violent? I know she’s a little girl, but she has essentially been brainwashed by her obviously mentally ill father, that is one of the key plot points. Also, no kid of 11 is an angel. I could swear at 11. My first words included a swear word.

“Played with enormous confidence by Chloe Moretz, she’s the most charismatic character in the movie. She may not realise it, but she has been systematically abused by her father, brainwashed and turned into a pint-sized…”
…Pint-sized what? Also yes, Moretz deserves every award under the sun for that performance. And oh, so you dounderstand that she was conditioned by her vengeful father. Odd then that you don’t understand the rest of the film or why it is important to the plot.

“She believes that her vigilante dad (played, simplistically, for laughs by Nicolas Cage) is a hero just as much at the end as she did at the beginning.”
Nicolas Cage really did blow me away; he was fantastic in this role. Also, a tip – he treats her relatively well. Other than all the brainwashing, that is. She idolises him because of that – every little kid loves their parental figure. I still love my mother, even if she does swear and shout and act like a teenager every now and then. Even if now I do know her flaws. When I was a kid, she knew everything and she could do anything. Hit Girl feels the same about her father. I don’t really see the issue. What was she supposed to do? Kick him and run?

“Her attitude towards him doesn’t mature, which makes her pathetic, rather than cool. The fact that many people who see the film are going to think she is cool is one of its most depressing aspects.”
No matter what you would like out of such a film, she isn’t going to become a Conservative or a hippy tree-hugger. I hardly know what to say about calling a child pathetic so soon after calling her sexual.

“The movie’s writers want us to see Hit-Girl not only as cool, but also sexy, like an even younger version of the baby- faced Oriental assassin in Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1. Paedophiles are going to adore her. “
And if she was the sweet little girl you want her to be, paedophiles were still going to love her. Probably more so. Incidentally, I doubt paedophiles will love her, considering paedophilia concerns dominance for the most part and there is no way in hell any paedophile in the world is going to be able to dominate Hit Girl. I don’t know what to say about “Oriental assassin”, but it is unrelated. The writers do not want us to see Hit Girl as sexy. Dangerous, sure. Forced to mature beyond her years, yes. Brainwashed, maybe. Sexy? You must have been looking at her pretty hard to see “sex” in that little girl.

“One of the film’s creepiest aspects is that she’s made to look as seductive as possible”
I am… concerned. Are you trying to say that Mindy was seductive to you? You were seduced by an 11-year-old character? My goodness, man, GET HELP.

“She’s fetishised in precisely the same way as Angelina Jolie in the Lara Croft movies, and Halle Berry in Catwoman”
No she isn’t. Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry wear tight-fitting, thin material outfits showing loads of skin. Hit Girl’s outfit is protective padding that is practical for the activity in the movie.

“As if that isn’t exploitative enough, she’s also shown in a classic schoolgirl pose, in a short plaid-skirt with her hair in bunches, but carrying a big gun.”
Umm… she’s a girl of school age. The outfit was put to good use – making her look like a poor, lost little sweetheart. Up until the point at which she pulls the gun. Then we shouldn’t be focused on the outfit at all.

“And she makes comments unprintable in a family newspaper, that reveal a sexual knowledge hugely inappropriate to her years.”
And yet at eleven or twelve you are usually taught about the basics of sexual intercourse in high school science. I was taught in my classes, though everyone already knew. Kids will find out these things one way or another. Especially young girls who will be going through puberty at that age or even younger.

From here on in, Tookey goes on a very bizarre and pretty offensive tangent. I won’t copy and paste all of it; you can read it at the link above and see for yourself.

“Underage sex isn’t a laugh. Recent government figures revealed that in this country more than 8,000 children under the age of 16 conceive every year.”
Where the hell did you get that statistic? I fact-checked this, and in 2007, according to the Office of National Statistics, the 8,000 figure is correct, but only for that year. Not only that, but I’m confused as to where exactly Hit Girl got pregnant in the film. I don’t remember any pregnancies in the film.

Worldwide child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. In and South America, brutalised youngsters who kill and rape are rightly feared as members of feral gangs or child soldiers. “

Once again, where in the film did Hit Girl get raped? Where was she exploited for pornography? And Hit Girl was feared, so I’m not quite sure what Tookey’s point is here.

Do we really want to live, for instance, in a culture when the torture and killing of a James Bulger or Damilola Taylor is re-enacted by child actors for laughs?”

This is the most awful and offensive part of the review. First off, in no part of the movie was a child tortured and killed for laughs. In Hit Girl’s big fight scene against a man more than twice the size of her, no-one was laughing. We could all see that she was just a little girl and it was a tense, frightening scene but that’s why it was effective. It’s shocking to watch; she has no ammo now; she’s just a small girl. And yet it made the film no less brilliant. Also, of the people in the film who were killed, maybe one was truly innocent, if the impersonator was even innocent. None of them were Bulgers or Taylors. I feel the entire plot has been misunderstood terribly.

The rest of the review reiterates the erroneous perception that Hit Girl was somehow OMGsexeh and that the film totally glorifies children growing up to be vigilantes and to kill at a young age. It doesn’t. And even if it did suggest to children somehow that they should absolutely imitate the dangerous stunts performed in the movie, these suggestible kids aren’t going to see it, it is rated 15. Responsible parents will not let their kids see it, and for good reason. It is violent, bloody, crude. I wouldn’t let a girl the age of Hit Girl see it. I wouldn’t let my 13-year-old cousin see it. That said, my cousin knows a lot more than the Daily Mail thinks she should, but she is a responsible young girl with responsible parents and she is not as suggestible as this trashy rag thinks she might be. If you are interested in an action-packed, slightly twisted but altogether fun movie and you are over the age of 15, by all means, go see it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the cinema to see a film where the entire audience is genuinely enjoying it.

All in all, the film is funny. It is also violent and a bit twisted. It is not, however, sexy. Not in the way the Daily Mail are actively trying to find the evidence for. Even when one of the boys in the film acknowledges an attraction (it’s obviously intended as a joke by the filmmakers, and we laughed) to hit Girl after seeing her literally kick ass, he is immediately criticised by his friends for even thinking it. Not more than a second later the character says that he would wait for her. There is no indication that this character will ever meet Hit Girl or that they will actually have sex, before she reaches legal age or otherwise. One has to wonder what Tookey thought of Charlotte LaBouff in The Princess And The Frog saying she could wait for Prince Naveen’s underaged brother before she married him? Was that cartoon boy sexualised too?

TL;DR: The Daily Mail’s Chris Tookey, who appears to know nothing about movies or at least is unable to separate his ridiculous, ill-informed Conservative beliefs separate from the films he watches and analyses badly said that Kick-Ass is a bad movie because it apparently glorifies childhood violence and sexualises a girl of 11. I argued that it bloody doesn’t and he must have been looking pretty hard to callously claim to be able to link the murders of James Bulger and Damilola Taylor to the violence in this film, and also that he was definitely looking far too much into the padded-for-protection, unrevealing outfit that Hit Girl wears and that his claims of her knowing too much for her age are ridiculous, because she’s bloody ELEVEN, not five. Children can and will swear, children will find out about sex eventually, girls of eleven might already be experiencing puberty and therefore need to know these things early. I was “blooming” at NINE. I agreed that the film was violent, but it definitely does not glorify violence because no-one in their right minds would watch this film and think that they would want to die fighting guys who were tougher and bigger than them.

Heard the news? Dr Andrew Wakefield has finally been kicked off the medical register for serious professional misconduct. About time, too. For those of you not affected by autism or who’ve just been living under rocks, Wakefield performed pretty dodgy studies concerning the MMR vaccine and autism. Shortly after his paper was published linking the MMR vaccine to a condition he claimed to have discovered (named autistic enterocolitis), the UK panicked and the rest of the world followed. Measles and mumps incidences rose.

In February, The Lancet finally retracted his paper. Not soon enough, I’d say; the damage is done. Still, it’s a start.

More on this story:

At the Guardian
At the BBC
At the GMC (pdf)

And if none of the above links are good enough for you, dear reader, you are on the internet. Do a search or something.

Today I looked in my Junk Mail folder. Apparently Gordon Brown and David Miliband want to give me two million pounds. Shame that I’m not allowed to talk to any other government officials or foreign affairs peoples from anywhere in the world. Sorry Vladimir and Dmitri; gotta wait til that money gets through. Barack, we need to reschedule that basketball game. Silvio… yeah, never talked to you much anyway. Still, I’m sure Gordon and David are fun to talk to. And they’re sending me a shiny new VISA to replace the one they mentioned in the e-mail. Oddly none of the numbers matched my card number… but that was probably just a typo.

In all seriousness, though, don’t ever send out your personal details in e-mails, no matter how promising they look. I can’t believe people still fall for these hoaxes. No-one wants to give you money, if you didn’t enter a foreign lottery you haven’t won any money from it and seriously, your prime minister probably barely knows his own e-mail address, never mind yours.

Over and out. Or just ‘out’. No-one really says over and out. Yeah.

Yes, the lovely, politically inclined Russian director is not dead, which makes me a very happy bunny. Though trivial, I can’t help but notice his accent when he speaks in English is more and more… well… English. It’s sort of endearing. He looks healthy enough and his new documentary, Russian Lessons, looks to be a promising, thought-provoking movie, much like Rebellion was. I don’t have much else to add, except that I need to see this film. More info at the url he gives you 😛

Click here to go to the video of Andrei Nekrasov answering his questions in the snow.

And while you’re at it, get your eyes washed. I don’t watch the X-Factor often. I try not to, because the amount of crap that gets through to the finals gives me a nasty pain in my head and my heart sinks just a bit further into my stomach every year. This week, however, it’s Queen week, and if there was ever a singer I idolised it’s Freddie Mercury. What a cheek, then, that they would decide that in the month of the anniversary of Mercury’s death to let the contestants ruin what were beautiful, powerful, emotional and energetic songs the way they did. You know, I watched last week. What was Louis Walsh thinking? Ghostbusters? I’d rather watch a cat choking on its own vomit that see them perform the Ghostbusters theme again, and the sad thing is, in the right hands and with the right kind of showmanship, that theme could have been fun. John and Edward have neither talent nor showmanship, and believe it or not, they’re not actually good at rapping, either. The Offspring couldn’t have put how I feel about them in better words than this.

Really, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, how does a big old karaoke game count as entertainment, for television, no less? I mean, television isn’t great nowadays, but it’s not necessary to make it worse.

Whoever it was that decided that Stacey’s horribly edited version of Who Wants To Live Forever? (linked to Queen’s beautiful version) was passable needs a good kick in the face. Freddie didn’t end WWTLF? with a wail of “FOREEVEERRRRRRR!!” and neither should she have. The lyrics are so few that she could have sung every last one of them and still made it her own, and instead we got a monotonous repeat of “WHO WAAAANTS TO LIIIIVE FOREEEVeeEEEeeRRRRrrrRRrrrr!!?!” Well, let me just say, if living forever means having to hear Queen murdered by the finalists every year for the rest of my life, I certainly don’t want to live forever.

And how could you cheer that awful, puffed-out Don’t Stop Me Now? What is wrong with you, Britain? What’s wrong with Brian May and Roger Taylor that they didn’t hear how bad the singers were when they were training? They worked with Freddie Mercury, for crying out loud!

The worst by far, of course, were John and Edward. Louis has been bitching lately about how “waaaaaaaa everyone else is cheating and using songs I don’t know waaaaaa”. Well, you know something Louis, they weren’t cheating, but you certainly did. You had your boys go out there and destroy Freddie, David Bowie, and though I didn’t think it possible, they managed to destroy Vanilla Ice as well. What a hypocrite – using a song that wasn’t even a Queen song. Sure, it sampled a Queen song. But it wasn’t really Queen.

But then again, none of the performances tonight were Queen. They don’t even come close to Queen and Paul Rodgers, which to me is like a watered-down Queen in the first place.

Freddie Mercury will be 18 years dead on the 24th November. Do yourselves a favour on that day, British public, and go listen to some real music. Remember him as a musician by listening to a track that he is singing on, that he had creative influence over, that he helped write, don’t listen to the forced screechings of some talentless glorified karaoke singers. I’d bet that if Freddie hadn’t been cremated, he’d be spinning in his grave.

Oh, and not wanting to end on a down note, here’s a song by Queen I love :] Sung by Freddie, written by John Deacon:

I saw Inglourious Basterds on its opening night here in the UK and I plan to review it eventually. One thing I have to say about it though is that there are already fangirls for the bad guy!

Anyone who saw the movie knows that Col. Landa is a manipulative, back-stabbing opportunist. He is not a nice guy. He looks for ways that he can benefit in any situation and is prepared to take the cowards’ way out. He is aggressive and cruel when he wants to be. He kills an entire family of Jews in a surprise attack, for crying out loud!

He is not going to change his ways for your character. He is not going to become kind and loving and caring and sweet for your Mary-Sue, self-insert, prettiful and gorgeous, awesomely brave and awesome character. I actually hope that Christoph Waltz, dressed as Landa, comes round to your house and in a blaze of bullets destroys your computer for that. I hope Quentin Tarantino then arrives and stomps on the remains.

End of post. For now.

I’m a little perplexed that the readers of my blog find it using phrases like ‘joker fangirl’, ‘anneliese van der pol boobs’ and ‘”crush on” hertzfeldt’.

And the other day, it was found using the phrase ‘bundy/dahmer slash’. You people… need help.

Promotional poster for the US tour

Promotional poster for the US tour

Two weeks before June 21st 2009, my sister was browsing the internet and suddenly squealed in delight. Or so I hear; I had been at work at the time, but I’m assured it was a powerful moment when she discovered that one of her most favourite animators was premiering his latest animated short in Edinburgh. Upon returning home I was asked if I wanted to tag along to An Evening With Don Hertzfeldt. She couldn’t go on her own, so I agreed.

Two weeks later, I found myself on a train to Edinburgh after finishing a six hour shift in the slave factory in which I am employed. Not feeling too well, I sat with my sister across from a very nice gentleman with whom we had an interesting conversation about the arts, science, BP and patriotism going too far. After getting off the train, we made our way to pick up the tickets and then it was off to the cinema where we would see the premiere of Hertzfeldt’s film I Am So Proud Of You, the second in a trilogy of shorts about a man named Bill who is apparently very unwell, as well as a selection of his earlier works.

Now, when I tagged along, it was as a guardian. My sister is a big girl and can take care of herself but I couldn’t have her going to a strange city on her lonesome. I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing the sequel to Everything Will Be Ok, which I viewed with my sister at her friend’s house.  It had been good, yes, but I was pretty soured to the whole Hertzfeldt animation thing by the clips floating around the bowels of the internet, specifically the random segment involving a small stick-like figure holding a massive spoon and standing in front of a tiny bowl as he declared that “mah spoon is tew biiig” in a high pitched voice, when suddenly and giant banana walks into the room and announces that “I am a banana.” Out of context, that only served to piss me off. Suffice it to say that I was not looking forward to the show at all, other that the fact the the animator himself would be there and I was hoping to ask him “What. The. Fuck?”

Just as we are getting herded into the cinema room, my sister gasps and freezes.

“That’s him,” he breathes, looking as though she is in the presence of Zombie Freddie Mercury himself. I look around confused, not sure who I’m looking for. Frustrated, my sister garbles some unknown fangirl language and points at a guy standing right next to us, sporting a beard of sorts and a green jacket. That, I am informed in not-so-nice language, is Don Hertzfeldt. He looks sort of generic to me, and we finally go into the cinema and choose seats in the third row. I find myself utterly interested in the shots of the animator’s scribbles and planning sheets flashing up on the screen in a cycle. As my sister points out, so does the animator.

A sequence from The Meaning of Life

A sequence from The Meaning of Life

After a short introduction, the films start. We are first of all treated to The Meaning Of Life, an apparently non-structured bundle of sequences that relate to one another in a disjointed fashion. I’m no artist, but I enjoy it, and the audience laughs along. I don’t know why, but I find I laugh hardest when a portly character walks across the screen declaring his love for fishsticks, and when a strange creature chastises a younger creature for talking about the “Meaning of Life”. The audience claps heartily when that animation finishes and wait intently for the next: Rejected.

Rejected is a brilliant idea. It represents Hertzfeldt’s feelings toward being asked to animate advertisements for companies, and shows that it’s probably not a good idea to ask him to do ads for you. (Hertzfeldt comments in dismay during the interview at the end that “Even after I made Rejected, people are still asking me.”) Some of the fake ads include a sequence for the Family Learning Channel in which a man in an ordinary hat walks unsuspectingly into a Silly Hats Only area. After the ‘You Are Watching the Family Learning Channel’ card, we are shown the result – the poor guy gets lynched by the silly-hat-wearers. Also in the Family Learning Channel segment is the “mah spoon is tew big” sequence, which turns out to be a whole lot funnier in context. The film ends in the animator apparently having a nervous breakdown and all the characters literally suffering as a result. A comical, but powerful, short film.

In case you hadnt noticed, his spoon is too big.

In case you hadn't noticed, his spoon is too big.

Next was Billy’s Balloon, a seemingly innocent short that starts out with a small, unattended child playing quite happily with a rattle and holding a red balloon. Laughter erupts when the balloon suddenly and inexplicably begins to attack the boy. The hilarity just seems to escalate when the balloon stops abusing the child when adults walk by. After that, it just gets better when the balloon proceeds to lift the boy way up into the cloudy sky… and very deliberately drop him from plane-height. Repeatedly.

After this, we see Intermission in the Third Dimension. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this even is. It looks like it’s making fun of 3D films (complete with 3D glasses) at first and then it becomes this bizarre seizure-tastic journey into the dimension of insanity. Still funny though. To myself, I’m wondering if Scottish people aren’t just a bit mental; we’ve laughed at everything so far.

Then comes Everything Will Be Ok, the first in a trilogy of films following Bill, a middle-aged man who is very sick with… er… We’re never told what it actually is, but whatever it is, it gives him awful symptoms, including hallucinations, paranoid delusions and apparent seizures. Bill’s life seems to be mundane and uninteresting, but it is that which makes his experiences all the more fascinating to watch. People can relate to the simple stick-like figure, and everyone in the audience receives the film in a different, very much individual way. The reaction to each comedic sequence in Everything Will Be Ok is met as before with a ripple of laughter (some of it uneasy) throughout the audience, whereas each symptom we suffer with Bill as he tries to battle his illness is met with a solemn silence. Captivated, the audience is undoubtedly gaining some sort of newfound wisdom, finally understanding what their life is really all about, or maybe mentally reminding themselves that they have work in the morning. Whatever the case, the film’s end credits are met with the same roaring round of respectful applause as each of the last films.

Finally, we are all treated to the very first UK showing of the new film I Am So Proud Of You. This film explores Bill’s ironic and macabre family history in a deadpan and fantastical fashion. With his family just as messed up as he seems to be, it is really no wonder Bill turned out the way he did. Medically, that is. I don’t usually like to get personal, but this film moved me in a very strong way. Other people in the audience later remarked on the powerful feelings evoked by Hertzfeldt’s spectacular storytelling, a style made even more impressive when he tells us later that “I make it up as I go”. His films, particularly Everything Will Be Ok and I Am So Proud Of You, are clever, witty and masterful, but they are at the same time not overbearing, not dry or formulaic and most definitely not patronising. His films invite you to watch for yourself and try to take what you will of it. What you see in it is not forced; instead, you must figure what it means to you. Watching his films, you can feel alone in a crowded room, you can feel blissfully ignorant to the world around you, you can feel as though your life is mapped out somewhere within the philosophy and thoughtfulness of this incredible animator’s work and so much more. Conversely, you can also feel like you’re wasting your time watching an unstructured child’s stream of consciousness when you could be at home watching something mindless on the television, in which case, these films are probably not for you.

At the credits for I Am So Proud Of You, there is an extended version of that respectful applause, amplified as it seems that everybody present got something out of the experience. Don Hertzfeldt is ushered to the front of the room, looking jet-lagged and somewhat frightened. His presence is a surprise; unlike many filmmakers, he is not intimidating. (My sister would beg to differ, of course, as she later took the mic to declare that “Your films terrify me”, which was met by a retiring “Thank you”) His body language is not threatening; he is on the audience’s level, and yet I have never seen someone look more shocked in my entire life. His eyes are perpetually wide and large as a deer caught in headlights and his pose is unassuming. He apologises to the audience for his appearance; he is tired and now he has to stand for an extended period of time (“Animators don’t stand up a lot…”) but he has, he assures us, enjoyed watching us watching the films. He is asked various questions by the host, one about the way in which his films provoke strong and different reactions from his audiences. He responds to this question by expressing distaste at Hollywood filmmakers who assume that their audiences are idiots, and try to force them into a reaction (“…they might have this extreme close-up, and it’s like ‘Cry, damn you, cry!'”), which he doesn’t want to do.  Asked about the internet (which, in my opinion, made him better known than he could have hoped to be without it) he answers in his odd, ranting way that he doesn’t like films to be on the internet, though he won’t hunt down those who put his older stuff up for others to enjoy. Continuing on this rant, he begins to talk about the increasing number of films available on mobile phones and remarks with seething bitterness that “There is no art student out there who wants to make her film debut on a fucking phone!”

It actually is a deer in headlights. It just resembles Hertzfeldt.

Deer In Headligh-- er, I mean, Don Hertzfeldt signing a poster

Later, it is time to answer audience questions. My sister takes the mic and compliments him on his terrifying films. She asks if he would consider live action and then cheekily asks for some advice on becoming a filmmaker. Hertzfeldt says that he would consider live action and then announces that “this is where I say I don’t know anything and then I won’t stop talking”. His advice is long and ranting like most of his speech, but it is certainly different to the usual “be the best you can be” speeches other filmmakers seem to have shared between them. He states that it is those who are willing to work hard, to spend a lot of time on their art, to practically live in their workspace and not come out except for food or coffee are those who will succeed. His speech is not easy to listen to if you happen to have a stomach threatening to empty its contents all over the three rows in front including the poor animator and host due to the aforementioned sickness, but it is poignant and passionate and very genuine.

After this, we are all invited to purchase some DVDs and have them signed by Hertzfeldt, who in person was charming and sincere. As we parted ways, he wished my sister the best of luck and we were able to return home, but home was truly furthest from my mind. Even as I lay my poor, sick head down to sleep that night (and many subsequent nights), all I could think of was those films we had watched and how they had, indeed, affected me and imprinted themselves on me in such a shocking and powerful way. I have a newfound appreciation for independent film, especially animation, and after being brought so close to a wave of conflicting emotions during I Am So Proud Of You, I can proudly and safely say that I am in terrible anticipation for the next installment of this thought-provoking, wondrous trilogy.

What has two thumbs and a brilliant mind?

I give it two thumbs up, too.

Don Hertzfeldt’s production company website, including information on his films and a blog updated regularly by the animator is at

United States President Barack Obama got a cute, cuddly young doggy a while ago. If you’ve been tuned into the world lately, you probably already know that. You probably also know then that PeTA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, recently requested that Obama get Bo (a Portugese water dog) neutered, despite the fact that Bo was already neutered when the family received him.

Now, I have nothing against dogs being neutered. My shelter dog has been neutered. I do, however, have something against PeTA. They always criticise those who generally don’t talk back.

Remember Steve Irwin? Here’s what PeTA’s Dan Mathews had to say about his death:

“He made a career out of antagonising wild animals, which is a very dangerous message to send to kids. […] If you compare him with a responsible conservationist like Jacques Cousteau, he looks like a cheap reality TV star.”

No condolences, no well-wishes to a grieving family. Yes, I also think his death was most likely his own idiotic fault, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic.

And now they’re targeting Canada, widely stereotyped as a benign, peaceful place:

You can help end Canada’s annual war on seals by boycotting a product that is vital to the country’s economy: maple syrup. Canada produces approximately 85 percent of the world’s maple syrup, with the U.S. as its largest consumer, and by buying this Canadian product, you are supporting Canadian cruelty. By pledging to boycott Canadian maple syrup, you’ll be speaking up for baby seals in Canada, for whom life isn’t so sweet, and telling Canada that you won’t support its product until you can support its practices.

Um… You’ll be stopping their fur trade by not buying maple syrup? Something tells me that’s not going to work. It didn’t work the last time they pointed out the “ebilness” of the trade. I don’t like it either, but I’m still going to buy maple syrup.

But that’s not all. Ever noticed that they don’t criticise people like Vladimir Putin? Maybe it’s because he banned seal hunting in his own country, but I’m still amazed that when the Russian Prime Minister received a baby tiger for his birthday last year, they didn’t even bat an eyelid. Okay, he did say that he would have a good home found for her. As evil as many of us believe the guy is, it has to be said that he really loves his animals. But really, after Putin was reported to have shot a tiger (with a tranquiliser dart), possibly as a publicity stunt, I’m surprised they didn’t all grab their laptops and begin writing stupid threatening or demeaning letters to this guy. Not only that, but his country absolutely thrives in the fur trade. Look at all the cute silver foxes they make into adorable fur hats and coats.

And yet PeTA refuse to protest it. Maybe they understand how important the fur trade is to Russia and their bestest pal Putin. Or maybe they’re scared. You decide.

A belated post, I know, but that happens to be characteristic of the disaster area that is me. Yes, that’s right; in the UK, Jeeves, lovable English gentlemanly mascot of search engine Ask, has returned after three years of retirement. Turns out the public loved the dear just too much to let him go for any longer than a few years. Still, he seems pretty happy to be back, and has become an incredibly chatty and pleasant fellow.  Not that he wasn’t pleasant before.

Jeeves' new 3D design currently displayed on the UK Ask search

Jeeves' new 3D design currently displayed on the UK Ask search

Jeeves appears to be branching out in what looks to be a fantastic advertisment campaign. He has a Twitter page, so in real-time you can keep up to date with the search engine’s Question Of The Day and Jeeves’ answer to said question, hear the latest news on the whereabouts of Jeeves (usually at special events or sometimes just walkin’ round) or just, you know, chat. He has a Facebook page which is also kept painfully up to date and even includes video and images of special events and Jeeves’ travels in the last three years.

Now, to the question you probably weren’t all that interested in knowing the answer to: Will I be using the Ask search engine in future? My answer: Maybe. I use Google. Everyone uses Google. Google is a good search engine. However, Ask sometimes finds the result I’m looking for and places it on the front page whereas I have to sift through tons of Google pages. The likelihood is I’ll use them both.

Besides, I’m quite charmed by Jeeves, the gentleman’s gentleman. Ask has a personality again, which makes it entertaining and now, the personality is getting out amongst the people, mingling, enjoying the company. It’s a very promising ad campaign. I can almost forgive the people at Ask for taking the endearing butler away in the first place.

P.S.: I’ll probably also still use AskJeeves for the purpose of searching silly questions like “Why is the rum gone?” when I’m bored. Better than using Google for boredom. Which I have done. Ask is better.

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  • HoistTheColours: Dear author, I full-heartedly and absolutely agree with your above statements. I just thought I would let you know, since I don't quite understand w
  • richclark: I covered this in my blog too. Found your post on one of Wordpress' random (associated posts). Has Ask really made the impact it needed to from
  • The Lilac Pilgrim: I couldn't go anywhere without someone mentioning it. It was incredibly obvious and yet people were still arguing about it. Absolutely ridiculous.