Why I Hate Almost Everyone (Part 8): The Mouth Switch

Somewhere in my Grade One view of the human head, I imagine a tiny switch between the brain and the mouth. It is this switch that prevents one from saying everything that happens to go through one’s mind.

Some people either lack this switch or the switch is faulty/burned out.

Either way, if they are thinking it… they are saying it.

Little kids tend to say what they are thinking. This is what allows them to look at a total stranger from their vantage point in the grocery store shopping cart and exclaim loudly, “He’s fat!”

The switch has not fully developed. It has not matured. It is not yet properly in place and functioning.

The 3-year-old in the shopping cart has an excuse. Adults don’t.

(Dogbert explains it all for you!)

The Mouth Switch keeps the internal dialogue… well… internal. Very few people need or even want to hear what you are thinking. And just because you are thinking it, that in and of itself does not mean there is a corresponding interest in hearing your random thoughts.

Faulty Mouth Switch Disorder seems to be spreading throughout our society.

My dear friend RS was commenting just last night on how some fellow-moms (and, more irritatingly, non-moms) in her neighbourhood feel free to beak off regarding her parenting skills and techniques. And these aren’t even friends or acquaintances… just random people. Now, I am sure these women mean well. I will not presume that they are meddlesome busybodies or full-time kvetchers or even merely opinionated. The point is, you don’t walk up to a young woman and start rattling off your opinions on parenting and how you feel she is falling short of your expectations. ESPECIALLY someone you don’t know!

Young moms aren’t the only ones are risk. People feel free to express whatever floats through their minds on any number of subjects… politicians, celebrities, the law… politicians and celebrities at odds with the law, etc.

As some of you may know, I am a criminal defence lawyer. Apparently, this gives many people carte blanche to pontificate on what they think is wrong with the criminal justice system. They are almost never informed (let alone rational) opinions. These people put the ‘jerk’ in ‘knee-jerk reactions!’ I try my best to smile and nod and hope they suddenly remember a pressing appointment to which they need to go immediately.

To sum up… No one cares what you happen to be thinking. Seriously. I really mean it. NO ONE CARES!

Thumper’s Mom had it right. Follow her simple rule and you should be fine.

If you can’t say somethin’ nice… don’t say nothin’ at all.

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Why I Hate Almost Everyone (Part 7): Household Pets

My aversion to household pets (aka household pests) did not developed gradually over many years like so many of my dislikes. No, this one came upon me virtually overnight.


(You’re not fooling anyone!)

Before The Great Epiphany, I was much like everyone else in that I had deluded myself into thinking that cats, dogs and other such fur-bearing freeloaders were my ‘friends.’ There was a time when I had four (count ’em, FOUR) cats. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine that any best friend in the whole world could possibly be better than my black labrador retriever.

(Trista: Man’s best friend? Or professional panhandler?)

When the scales finally fell from my eyes, I saw with a chilling clarity that I had been duped by a bunch of cute parasites.

(Chuckles: Yeah, yeah. I get it… you’re cute)

The main purpose… the raison d’être for any household creature… is to eat and poop, get you to spend money on them and have you clean up after them in the process. And in return you get… what? Some feline fleabag rubbing against your leg and almost causing you to fall and get a concussion as you try to navigate your way across the room? A canine con-man who sheds, drools and barks whenever it’s not knocking things over as it clears the surfaces of coffee tables with its tail?

(Who is the bigger freeloader?)

Some pets are more or less easy to understand. People have been mooched off of by dogs and cats for thousands of years. There is at least an element of history and tradition to these deadbeats. Some are less easy to fathom. Rodents, for example. For millennia, Man has been trying to rid his living quarters of rodents. To bring mice, gerbils, hamsters, etc., into one’s house is a slap in the face of progress.

(Copper: What a chazzer!)

While we’re at it, why not bring in lice, cockroaches or bedbugs? I’ll tell you why. Because lice, cockroaches, bedbugs, etc. are not cute. They are every bit as parasitic… just not nearly as adorable as other scroungers like bunnies and pot-bellied pigs.

(If only I could’ve trained Toots or Louise to do this!)

And don’t even get me started on birds. Evil-tempered, nasty creatures who will take a nip at you just as soon as they’d poop on your head (a feat few other household pets can pull off).

(I’m hoping no one drinks from that cup again!)

I’ve noticed that the photos I really like are ones that show these household bums in distress. They really do bring a smile to my face.

(Can you say ‘Schadenfreude’?)

It makes me want to throw a bucket of cold water on a kitten just to see this reaction in real life!

(Now this is just funny!)

It also, I suppose, makes me an evil, wicked, cruel and heartless person. So be it. I am at peace with that.

How Long Will People Find Your Child Adorable?

How Long Will People Find Your Child Adorable?

Not very long at all and certainly not as long as you think, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. [1]

Psychologists Lu Zhu Luo, Hong Li, and Kang Lee – in China, and at the University of Toronto – recruited 60 men and women and showed then a large sample of children’s faces ranging from infants to 6-and-half-year-olds. The participants were asked to rate each face’s likeability (i.e. how much do you like the face?) and attractiveness (i.e. how attractive is the face?). The researchers wanted to know if younger kids would be given higher attractiveness ratings than older kids – and, if so, at what age does the cut-off happen from ‘OMG how adorable’ to ‘merely cute?’

The answer? Yes, it’s as expected. Men and women rated infants as cuter than toddlers, who, in turn are rated as cuter than young children. The big drop-off in cuteness appears to happen somewhere between preschool and kindergarten. The researchers identified it as approximately age 4 ½.

So why the big drop-off with school aged kids?

It has to do with the change in the shape of the children’s faces.

Infants have a special set of features, such as a protruding forehead, a large head, a round face, big eyes, and a small nose or mouth. As a species, we have evolved to be attracted to these very babyish features and find them adorable. These cues make us feel soft and protective, whether or not we’re biologically related — which increases the likelihood of the baby’s survival. Their cuteness is a kind of self-defence mechanism because, I presume, if parents weren’t reduced to cooing high-talking idiots at the sight of their baby, any rational adult with have tossed the little bundle of trouble onto the trash heap long ago. Good for the parents… but bad for the long-term survival of the species.

Doubt me? Scientific studies have found that infants that have tiny eyes, flat foreheads, and square faces, for instance, are less likely to receive attention.

So, that explains why most people are dippy for babies. What about older kids? And why four and a half years old?

Facial cranial growth is gradual, as is a child’s independence from constant care-giving. Children’s faces lose some of their universal appeal right around the age that they don’t need it anymore to (merely) survive — somewhere around kindergarten-age. Incidentally, this interval — four to five years — is the same as natural birth spacing — when our foremothers would become pregnant with their next baby.

In short, we find kids less adorable at about the age where they are more or less able to take care of themselves to a large extent… and it is also at about this age (give or take) that mom’s are ready for the next child.

So next time you find a baby too cute for words and want to pinch its cheeks… just remember… if it wasn’t for this reaction, you’d probably put the baby on the curb on recycling day.

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[1] A tip of the hat and a huge debt of gratitude to Jena Pincott’s blog for the inspiration and source of much of the material in this article.

Full Disclosure: I am not the kind of person who usually gushes and coos when I see a baby. In fact, almost every time I have an infant presented to me, it is all I can do to stop from saying, “Oh my goodness! This baby… looks just like every  other baby I’ve seen in my whole life!”

There have been exceptions. A certain RLS comes to mind. Yes, the next generation of Stealth Hasidim has begun to arrive!

Supernatural: Season Six

A while ago, I picked up the DVD box set of Season Six of the Warner Bros television program Supernatural.

I like Supernatural a lot. I remember really liking it the moment I saw the pilot in September, 2005.

(Supernatural title card)

The series premise is quite simple. 

After their mother’s death in a suspicious fire that burns down their house, Dean and Sam Winchester live a life on the road with their father as they grow up. Years pass and the boys team up to find their father, John, who goes missing on a hunting trip. However, their father is not a typical hunter: he hunts supernatural creatures like ghostsvampires, and spirits and he’s trained his sons to do the same. Along the way, Sam and Dean save innocent people, fight creatures and ghosts, and collect clues to their father’s whereabouts. Sam begins to mysteriously develop psychic abilities and visions as they travel. They eventually find and reunite with their father, who reveals that the creature that killed Sam and Dean’s mother years earlier is Yellow-eyes (Azazel) and the only thing that can kill him is a legendary gun created by Samuel Colt. (as per Wikipedia)

(1836 Colt Paterson – aka ‘The Colt’)

A lot of the show’s charm and success has to do with the chemistry between the two brothers, Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles).

As creator Eric Kripke said, “It’s always been a show about family, much more than it is about anything else. The mythology is only an engine to raise issues about family. A big brother watching out for a little brother, wondering if you have to kill the person you love most, family, loyalty versus the greater good, family obligation versus personal happiness.”

(Sam and Dean and the amazing 1967 Chevy Impala)

The ‘mythology’ Kripke refers to is how the Winchester family investigates supernatural phenomenon, usually (but not always) involving American urban legends. Kripke feels that America’s urban legends are every bit as fleshed out as any world mythologies.

(Supernatural Season Six poster)

The series was only supposed to go for three seasons. Last year, saw the beginning of Season Seven.

On January 12, 2012, the series won Best Sci/Fi TV Series and Best Drama TV Series at the People’s Choice Awards.

Helldriver (Movie Review)

I just have to start off by saying that Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Helldriver (transliterated, Heru doraibâ) is easily the weirdest, wackiest, zaniest, bad-assiest zombie movie I have ever seen! And that’s saying something!

(Helldriver movie poster)

Like any good splatter or grindhouse movie, Helldriver has to be experienced to be believed. In fact, that is basically what Helldriver is… a Japanese space zombie grindhouse splatter movie! If you are a fan of over-the-top gore mixed with tongue-in-cheek humour, you will not want to miss this one.

(Yes, boys and girls… that girl has a chainsaw samurai sword!)

OK, here’s the deal… A mysterious mist traverses through northern Japan, turning its inhabitants into zombies. Kika, a high school girl with a chainsaw katana, recruited by the government enters the zombie infected zone, along with a small group of companions to take out the zombie queen.

(Yumiko Hara as Kika in Helldriver)

What could be simpler? And that is where the beauty of this gore-spattered movie lies. It’s not in the plot. (It’s certainly not in the acting!) Once the premise is set, everything switches over to writer-director Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and Mutant Girls Squad) and his  gift for wild special effects. Or rather, wild practical effects. This is old school stuff. No CGI magic or digital hokus pokus. Plain old-fashioned no-nonsense ‘blood shpritzing through plastic tubes when zombies get their heads and limbs cut off’ practical effects! The movie is shot in eye-popping colour. Electric primary colours. It seems that no red is red enough! No spurting is spurty enough! This movie is a white-water raft trip on a river of blood. Red-water rafting! You got to love a movie that goes THIS far!

(Writer-director Yoshihiro Nishimura and actress Yumiko Hara)

My two cents… Once you get over the bad acting (except for Yumiko Hara and Eihi Shiina)… and I do mean TRULY bad acting… Helldriver is a rollicking good time. One thing can be a bit jarring to western audiences, though, and that is the sound. The music and sound effects cut back and forth harshly and it kind of clangs on the ear. It takes a bit of getting used to. There are other odd things, like the opening credits in the middle of the movie… and I mean the middle of the movie! 45 minutes into the film and all of a sudden you get the title and the names of the stars and writer/director! Other than that, if you can overlook its quirks and deficiencies, Helldriver is one hell of a ride.

Bottom line… Fans of splatter horror will love this one. One of the better horror films to cross over from Japan in a while. I had SUCH a good time. Definitely worth a look.

One and a half bloody Japanese zombie thumbs way up!

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For a more detailed in-depth review, please check out Texas Frightmare Weekend’s review of Helldriver by actor, writer, director, producer and regular Lions Gate Studio exec Jerod Warren over at TheMoviePool.com. Good stuff!

Stealth Hasidim!

A week ago, my SigOth (i.e. Significant Other) and I were at a hasidic bar mitzvah. Afterwards, we were kindly invited to have lunch over at the bar mitzvah boy’s house. As we were getting to know the various members of the extended family and trying to figure out who was what, religiously, my SigOth asked a married couple if they, like the bar mitzvah boy’s parents and grandparents, were hasidim. They answered that they were hasidim but they were ‘under-cover’… that is, while they defined themselves as hasidim, they did not overtly dress or speak like hasidim. They were, in effect, ‘plainclothes’ hasidim.

It occurred to me that we knew a few people like that. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my SigOth and I were also, to a some extent… ‘Stealth Hasidim!’

(Hasidic man with payess and a shtreimel)

You’d never know it to look at us. You won’t see payess, a shreimel or a bekishe being worn… at least not yet… not even a black Borsalino fedora. We look frum, I suppose… but not ‘ultra-Orthodox’ (I hate that term)!

(Hasidic man with shtreimel and bekashe)

So the thought of us being Stealth Hasidim holds an enormous appeal for me!

(Not like us)

For example, we both dress conservatively, but not out of the 18th or 19th century.

(Well, the woman looks about right… but not so much the man)

Aside from a hat (a greek fisherman’s cap, btw, not a black fedora), a yarmulke and a sheitel, I don’t know that a non-Jew would instantly spot us as Orthodox.

(Eeek! Not THAT kind of Orthodox!)

So, Gentile World (i.e. 98.3% of the population out there!), be aware that the nice conservatively dressed people next to you on the sidewalk or the grocery store or the coffee shop may not be who or what they appear. Outwardly, they might be missing the fur hats and side curls and long coats… but inside, they may be not a heck of a lot different from those bearded ‘ultra-Orthodox’ Jews you sometimes see in the movies or on TV.

They may be us! They may be… Stealth Hasidim!

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