Movie Review: Skinwalkers



We are so overdue for a good werewolf movie it is ridiculous.  We get decent B grade flicks, but it seems like the vast majority of the werewolf movies with budgets have just sucked, and Skinwalkers is no exception. 


Okay, the plot, as far as I can tell, is that there are good werewolves, and bad ones, and when a boy turns 13 during the full moon, then some prophecy will be fulfilled, and something or other will happen.  Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, because at no point in time do you actually care about any of the characters. 


So with just a couple of days left for the prophecy, the bad guys, looking like rejects from a Dennis Hopper post-apocalyptic biker-movie show up, and have an excruciatingly slow and awkward gunfight against the good werewolves.  First off, whoever was their gun consultant needs to get the boot.  Apparently a little known fact about lycanthropy is that it also causes poor vision, and the inability to use a front sight, and you know, actually AIM at your target.


Then the movie devolves into a tedious chase.  There are some plot twists that you can see coming a mile away, and then finally, it is over.  The werewolves are relatively dull, the violence is weak, and there are no good effects that I can recall. 


Overall?  Lame.  Skip it.  And this is coming from the guy that has rented something like 1,000 really crappy movies, and just can’t stop, and even with my advanced ability to totally disconnect my brain while watching a movie, I thought is sucked.


This week in the news 11-29-07

In the world news, our “ally” in the War on Terror, Pakistan, (Ally, loosely defined as country that harbors the Taliban, but isn’t actively blowing us up) which just happens to be a country filled with crazy Muslim extremists, and armed with nuclear weapons, is imploding.  Musharraf has declared some crazy state of emergency, and the whole country has gone bug nuts.  Yep, bug nuts with nukes, in a country smack dab between a bunch of other whackadoos, where a couple hundred thousand of our troops are stationed.  


This of course, isn’t important enough to headline the actual news, because there are more important things going on, like how Paris Hilton says she wants to have puppies, or something, hell if I know.  I only scan the regular news so I can have something to complain about on my blog.  If there is anybody out there that gets all of their information from TV or cable news, I weep for you.    


In national news, we had another Republican debate last night.  People keep asking me who I support for the nomination, and at this point in time, I’ve got to answer, “Please God, anyone, and I mean anyone, other than that Reptoid of the Hollow Earth, piece of floating poo, Mayor of Gomorrah, Rudy “Reasonable Restrictions” Guilliani.”


Do all of the others suck too?  Yes, in various ways.  But I don’t think any of them are quite as spine-chillingly evil.  How can you say that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, and in the next line say that means we can have reasonable restrictions left up to local jurisdictions, like that shining beacon of all that Republicans stand for, New York? 


He says he’s in favor of jurisdictions setting their own rules, so that people that live in cesspools of crime and corruption can be disarmed, and us redneck hicks out in flyover country can do whatever we want.  Except for when the mayors of those various septic tanks decide to sue us because of their crime problems.  And I’m supposed to believe this man, and turn control of the BATF over to him?


So basically, what he’s saying is that he doesn’t really care what the Constitution means, because people like him are going to do whatever they want anyway.  And that is just guns, which because of who I am, and what I do, tends to be the single issue that I’m the most sensitive about.  He sucks on everything else too. 


“But Mitt Romney hired an illegal alien!”  Oh yeah, because that is so much worse than declaring your whole friggin’ city a free for all “sanctuary” so that you can bring in flocks of illegal aliens and provide them all with taxpayer funded abortions.  I can’t stand Mitt Romney either, the electable in Kennedy Land hypocrite, mostly because he makes my entire religion look dumb, but there does seem to be just a trifle of difference between the two. 


Though this will all be a foregone conclusion, and in the end, won’t matter at all.  Chuck Norris has come out and endorsed Mike Huckabee.  Chuck Norris has spoken.  I have to vote for Huckabee now, because I’m afraid that Chuck Norris will round house kick me in the spleen, through the Diebold voting machine, if I push any other buttons. 


In state news, there was some football game between local colleges that is supposed to be a big deal.  I haven’t actually watched a football game in five years.   Apparently the team from the area with worst freeway traffic won.  Hoo ray.


In other state news, veteran news anchor, Dick Norse has retired. I only bring this up for one reason.  He did a report a long time ago about a story I was involved in.  And his delivery about the story was just so damn deadpan that it was hilarious.  Back in my early twenties, I got fired from a food factory.  The place was a filthy mess, and when they did something absurdly dangerous, I’m talking silly, Mr. Burns level of cartoonish super-villainy. (this is the short version, if they did what they were planning on doing, there was serious potential for some innocent people to get badly injured)  I called them on it.  So they fired me.  So I reported them to the FDA.  The inspectors showed up, took one look around, said “holy shit!” and closed the place down.   But that wasn’t enough for me, because I was a vindictive jerk (even back then, more so now) so I called every news station and paper in the state. 


But I had the news report on tape for a long time.  For those of you that live in Utah, try to imagine the dignified voice of Dick Norse saying “The following items were found in the food.  Rat droppings, oil, raw sewage, broken glass, small animal footprints…” and it went on for like a minute straight.  It was priceless.   


In local news, today is my second to last day as a corporate stooge.  After five years of living in a cubicle crunching numbers for a mega-corporation, I’m about done.  As of Friday afternoon, I’m on my own.  Now I’m a full time Gun Monger. 


I won’t lie and say that it has been fun, but really, the company that I’ve worked for has been pretty decent to me.  As far as jobs go, it beat everything else I’ve done in my life for money.  I still hate working with cows.  If I never have to milk a cow again, I’ll be a happy man. 


I’ll save my ranting about the suckitude of being a minor cog in a mega-corporation for another day, but overall, I got paid (okay) to sit on my butt, and make spreadsheets all day.  Selling guns and teaching people how to shoot defensively is much more rewarding.  Writing stuff and getting paid for it is even better.  The downside is that the buck stops with me.  A bad month means I don’t get paid.  (subliminal message, BUY MY BOOK!)


So now the great self-employed adventure begins.   

Movie Review: The Slaughter

The Slaughter


Okay, it is a cheesy, dumb, low-budget, wannabe Evil Dead.  That said, as a B-Movie geek, I enjoyed it. 


It starts out dumb, with the opening credit montage consisting primarily of naked chicks and chanting that sounds vaguely like “Cthula F’tagen something or other”.  Then it fast forwards to a scene that I think is supposed to be in the 40s, but it doesn’t really matter, then we skip ahead to the present day where we meet our cast of stereotypes that you know are going to get killed by the “ancient evil”. 


The acting was pretty bad, but that is half the fun of B-Movies.  Some of the line delivery was painful, but there were actually a few bright spots.  We then proceed into a bunch of predictable ancient evil movie clichés.  And I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m in a derelict house with strange goings on, the first thing I want to do is take a nice steamy bath.  The movie is really slow for awhile, but then it picks up for the final act. 


The reason I actually enjoyed this was because of some of the dialog, and a few of the characters.  The main girl really couldn’t emote her way out of a paper bag, but she had some excellent lines, and a few good scenes.  I think this movie grew on me when the final survivors are trying to come up with a plan, and they start going through various clichés about how there has to be a magic charm, because there is always a magic charm. 


There’s minimal gore, and what there is isn’t particularly convincing.  Some of the effects made me laugh out loud.  It isn’t a great or a classic, but it is a good way to kill an evening with B grade cheese.  I would rate this one above average, but nothing to get super excited about.


So if you’re a B-Movie nerd, rent it.  If you prefer movies where Robert Redford stares plaintively at the camera and talks about global warming or the war in Iraq or some crap, I don’t know why you’re still reading, because I guarantee that this movie will just offend your tender sensibilities.  

Roleplaying in CCW classes

I taught a CCW class last night at Cabelas.  It was a good class, but I had a really hard time.  I’ve got a cut on the roof of my mouth, which I don’t really know how it got there, unless I was eating tortilla chips with a little too much enthusiasm, and it is all swollen, so it hurts to talk.  So then I got to go talk for 5 hours straight.  Thank goodness for Oragel.  The downside is, of course, uncontrollable salivation as soon as you use the stuff.  Oh well. 


I love teaching CCW.  I do it a little different than many of the other Utah instructors.  The packet we get from the state, which lists what we have to talk about it really kind of dumb.  We’re required to talk about a lot of silly, extraneous things, but the actual part about the legalities of shooting people is just a tiny little portion.  There is more in the packet about how to clean your gun, than there is about when it is justifiable to shoot somebody.


I get through 95% of the packet in the first half of the class.  I then spend the next 2 ½ hours going over the legal and tactical aspects of shooting somebody.  The one thing that I do, that I’ve not seen any other local instructor do, is a role playing session. 


Basically, I send one student out of the room, wearing a rubber gun.  Then I set up a scenario inside the room, brief the student in the hall, and then when they walk in, they have to act like it is real life.  They talk like they really would.  Draw the gun when they really would.  Shoot when they really would.  Sometimes they should just walk away.  Then we discuss, as a class, the legality and the tactical soundness of their decisions. 


It sounds kind of silly, and people are laughing at first, but then as it goes on, the reality starts to sink in, and then the learning starts.  Usually at the point when I tell the student something along the lines of “and if this was real life, you would be dead” or “and now is when you would go to prison”.  And that’s when the real fun begins.


The reason I do this, is because everybody learns differently.  I can stand in front of a class, and jabber on for hours about what to do, but some folks don’t learn by listening, they have to see it occur.  It helps them to change their frame of reference, and also to break out of any mental roadblocks they’ve set for themselves.


See, when I say mental roadblocks, one of the weaknesses we have as gun carrying types, is that we imagine “our gunfight”.  We tend to have this preconceived idea set in our heads about what “our gunfight” is going to be.  It unfolds a different way for everyone, and sadly, for some folks, it resembles a Die Hard movie.  So when somebody brings up a point that doesn’t fit in your predetermined scenario, you tend to discard that point.


For example, some people tend to think that they’re going to have plenty of time to access their gun when the bad stuff happens.  So it is okay to carry chamber empty, or it is okay to carry in some absurdly slow to draw from holster, because in “their gunfight” they’ve imagined that they’re going to have plenty of time.  Sometimes these people even believe that they’ll be able to shoot the badguy in the leg, or some other nonsense.


So I do one scenario (don’t want to give away too many details, because I like surprises), where it unfolds extremely rapidly, and turns into a Tueller drill against a crazy, knife wielding assailant.  For those of you who don’t know, a Tueller drill is to demonstrate how far away somebody can be with a contact weapon, and still have the Opportunity to cause you serious bodily harm. 


Basically, you interrupt something very bad going down, you’ve got about 2 seconds to process this while an extremely large man screams at you, then charges you with a knife from about 21 feet away.  I play the badguy in this one, and I gut about 90% of the students like a fish, before they’re able to get a shot off. 


Somebody with a contact weapon can cover A LOT of ground way faster than you would think.


The folks that have predetermined that they’re going to have plenty of time are usually pretty shook up.  One fellow that was determined, all through class, that he was going to carry chamber empty “for safety” actually managed to draw the gun from his holster and fling it up into the air.   That was a good learning opportunity.


I have a certain list of scenarios that I use every class.  Each one is different, but each is designed to drive home a few certain points.  Some of them, the point is to be very careful what you chose to get involved in.  One scenario is based on a true story, and involves the student seeing a person being beaten up by two thugs (one of whom immediately demonstrates that he is armed with a handgun). 


In this one, if the student keeps on walking, survival rate is 100%.  Fully half the class keeps on walking.  The other half of the class chooses to intervene.  90% of those that intervene end up getting shot.  This is usually pretty eye opening for a lot of would be heroes. 


I’m not trying to dissuade somebody from wanting to help others in need.  Frankly, it would be rather presumptuous of me to assume that anything I tell you in a couple of hours is going to change your moral fiber.  All of my students are at least 21 years old, and they’re responsible adults.  They are who they are. 


But at least I can convey the seriousness of what they’re contemplating, and if they are the heroic type, hopefully I can get them to make the tactical decisions necessary to maximize their chances of surviving.  


I love role playing, but it does have its weaknesses as a teaching tool.  A few of the scenarios have the potential to go wrong.  Sometimes a student does something so totally unexpected that the actors don’t know how to respond.  Sometimes I need to enlist other students as actors, and some of them are better actors than others.  On that note, I’ve got a lot of practice playing a rapist, murderer, mugger, psychopath, or brutish thug, so I’m very convincing.  Plus I’m huge and frankly look a lot like a young Tony Soprano, so if anybody is casting… you know, I’m just throwing that out there.


If I have a married couple in class, I’ll often enlist them for a little good old fashioned domestic violence.  However some of my students are just too nice, and rather than expecting him to beat his wife, you’re expecting them to stop their exceedingly mild argument, and bake you cookies.  On the other hand, I’ve had some married couples, where the husband came off as such an abusive scumbag, that being totally honest, even as the instructor, and knowing what bad thing is going to happen to next, I would have gotten involved. 


I love teaching CCW.



Thanksgiving was kind of weird this year.  Normally we’ll do Thanksgiving with my folks, and Christmas with my wife’s family.  However my Dad got really sick and spent Thanksgiving in the hospital, turns out that he had two heart attacks and is now diabetic.  He’s doing okay right now, but it having to adjust to some serious life changing things, like giving himself shots and having to carefully watch everything he eats.


This wasn’t really a shock, as he’s been really overweight, under stress, and in poor shape for a long time, but when you hear that kind of thing, it just bowls you over.  We went down and visited.  Seeing the grandkids cheered him up.  So this year, I’m just thankful that Dad is still with us.