The Hidden

Very few films can effectively combine the gritty drama of a police action flick with science fiction (save for "Blade Runner"), but this film achieves that. Basically, a police detective played by Michael Nouri, along with a supporting cast played by Richard Brooks, Ed O'Ross and B movie veteran Clu Galager, are at wit's end with an epidemic of violence. Seemingly normal citizens are going beserk and shooting up the city. Adding to Nouri's headache is a mysterious FBI agent (played by "Twin Peaks" star Kyle McLachlin) who seems to know more about the crime spree and its cause than he is letting on.

The film features great car chases, exciting gun battles and even a surprise ending. It's not a spoiler to say that the "hidden" is actually an alien parasite that invades the body of its hosts. The parasite craves power, altering the pleasure sections of the brain and removing annoying things like morality and common sense. When the body is too damaged to continue, it simply leaps to another body.

 The film is actually an allegory on crime in America, especially drug use where seemingly normal people use drugs like cocaine to get high or use guns to feel powerful. Then, they literally change overnight and begin to do things they've never done before in order to maintain the high or feeling of power. All the victims in the film represent the hapless members of society who have to deal with these jackasses. Nouri and friends represent the police who do everything they can to stop the problem, but still find it's not enough.

Overall, the film can be hard to follow. The sound on the tapes can be a little hard to hear at times, but just seeing Claudia Christian of "Babylon 5" as a possessed stripper will make you overlook this flaw. She's dynamite, especially in the scene where she gets hot and heavy with a polyester-wearing pimp wannabe, who definitely doesn't die with a smile on his face.

Oh, and beware. "The Hidden" was such a surprise hit that the producers unwisely made a sequel. Avoid it at all costs. Even with the surprise ending, this film doesn't need a sequel.

Straw Dogs 1971

American astrophysicist David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) is a wimpy pacifist who grows tired of the strife and violence raging across America. Along with his pretty young wife, Amy (Susan George), he travels to George's hometown in Cornwall, England. Sumner quickly finds that beneath the idyllic scenery and veneer of small-town friendliness lie a clannish society based on violence and exclusion-ism. A group of townspeople begin playing a series of increasingly vicious pranks on David and Amy, culminating in Amy's rape by two of the more repulsive townspeople (Del Henney and Ken Hutchison). Things still continue on, until David takes in the village idiot, Harry Niles (David Warner), after hitting him with a car and tries to save him from a mob who saw him abduct a young girl. David tries to sort the situation out peacefully, but before long he finds himself resorting to violence to defend himself and his home.

"Straw Dogs" is an amazingly powerful film, and a widely misunderstood one as well. Critics who seem unable to analyze films on anything but surface meaning accuse it of glamorizing sadism and violence; feminists harp on the film's rape scene and the portrayal of Amy, denouncing the film as a chauvinist fantasy. Both readings of the film are wholly off-base. Although perhaps not as deep as some of Sam Peckinpah's other works, it's easily his best shy of "The Wild Bunch", and deals with a deep (and disturbing) topic: humanity's lust for and glorification of violence and death.

Say the name Sam Peckinpah to anyone and what comes to mind? In pretty much every instance, the answer is violence. Graphic violence, slow-motion shoot-outs with bright red blood spurting out of bullet wounds. This is a simplistic way to look at Peckinpah; in his best work (Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch) he created deep themes and well-rounded characters worthy of a classic novel or play. Even some of his weaker efforts, like Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and Cross of Iron, have interesting ideas to present, even if not entirely successful. But, it is certainly true that violence - its effects, its terror, its place in society, and, most of all, social enjoyment of it - is a central theme of Peckinpah's films. Merely judging "Straw Dogs" on the fact that it IS violent is childish and simplistic; it's much more fruitful to address WHY Peckinpah opted to make it violent, and what he's trying to say.

"Straw Dogs" is perhaps the ultimate distillation of Peckinpah's views on violence. Peckinpah was an ardent fan of Robert Ardrey, the playwright-anthropologist who hypothesized that humans are inured to violence by instinctual urges rather than social pressure or upbringing. This is a very hard view to argue with, for in spite of hypocritical denunciation of violence in the media, the raging street violence, crime, warfare, and violent action movies, TV shows and video games, indicates that the human race thrives on and revels in killing - no matter how much we may like to think otherwise.

"Straw Dogs" endorses Ardrey's world-view: the people of our out-of-the-way hamlet are easily driven to violence, their sins mostly overlooked by the hypocritically pious town leaders. Even a pacifist like David Sumner is not immune to the allure of murder; his claims of standing up principle (defending Niles, the murderous village idiot, from a mob) are dubious at best. The film has been read as a revenge fantasy a la Death Wish, which is ridiculous; Amy doesn't even tell David about the rape. Rather, it's a cumulative revenge; a man stuck in a small town with no friends, fed up with violence in his own culture, his taunting and torment here, his unhappy marriage to his wife, and his own weakness, allows his long-repressed rage to explode. In the end, even David Sumner is capable of horrific violence; not only that, he enjoys it. And the sheer visceral thrill of watching vile bad guys get handed their just deserts implicates us in the violence as well; none of us are innocent, and all of us are guilty.

Peckinpah's direction is effective, presenting violence in all its glory and horror; he succeeds at showing an externally beautiful but inwardly hideous small town. The cast is good, if unspectacular: Dustin Hoffman embodies David Sumner as impotent professor and makes his transition frighteningly believable. Susan George is quite good as Amy, the confused, repressed young girl who married a guy who isn't right for her. The supporting cast is adequate, with T.P. McKenna and Del Henney giving the strongest performances as the well-meaning but ineffectual Sheriff and the most sympathetic of David and Amy's tormentors.

Straw Dogs is a powerful, disturbing mediation on violence, with a power and force that few films a possess. It is a true masterpiece.

Easy Way To Learn Juggling

Put hands out, waist high, flat like a table. Take one ball and toss it just above eye level to the opposite hand. As you throw, say "One - Catch".

Do the same starting with your opposite hand. Remember to say "One" as you throw and "Catch" as you watch. PRACTICE both these steps for several minutes until you are throwing at the same height with both hands.

Take two balls placing one ball in each hand, and throw the first ball. Just when it gets to the top of the arch, throw the second ball toward the opposite hand. The second ball goes inside the arch of the first ball. This time, you say "One" on the first throw, "Two" on the second throw, and "Catch" at the end. Practice until you can do 8 out of 10 repetiotions without dropping.

Don't Oops! Be careful not to two-ball shuffle. This is where you throw from one hand to the other and then shuffle the second ball to your first hand. Each hand should cleanly throw a mirror image of the other.

Now you are ready for three balls! Place two balls in one hand and one ball in the other. You must always start with the hand that has two balls in it.

Repeat as with two balls, but when the second ball gets to the top of the arch, throw the third ball. Say "One, Two, Three, Catch". You're juggling.

*Always count out loud as you practice.
*If you are having trouble with three balls, go back to two or even one ball and practice some more.
*If you keep throwing the balls away from you and walking forward, you are doing "The Running Juggler"! Try standing in front of a wall to practice.

Eating With Chopsticks

1. Hold the first chopstick firm and stationary in a fixed position.

2. The second chopstick is held like a pencil, with the tips of thumb, index and middle fingers.

3. The key is that the bottom chopstick remains still while only the upper chopstick moves.

4. The thumb holds the chopsticks firmly while the index and middle finger pivots to meet first chopstick to grasp the food.

Phone Booth

"Phone Booth" is a one of a kind thriller even though the movie is under 90 minutes long, a rarity now a days for a feature film, not a minute or even second is wasted in the movie.

"Phone Booth" could have easily been padded with extra and useless footage to make it seem impressive as a feature length film. It's film-makers wisely left it at 80 minutes which gave the movie the unrelenting and heart stopping action and suspense that made it the success that it is.

Stu Shepard, Colin Farrell is a publicist who lives like the publicity that he gets for his clients which is for the most part an illusion. Stu grew up in the mostly low to middle class borough of the Bronx but he likes to dress and act like he's from the rich and luxurious Upper East Side and Sutton Place in Manhattan. This is Stu's way of trying to come across as super impressive to those who he works for, and those who work for him, as well as people that he meets socially.

Sharp and fast talking Stu spins tales of him knowing and associating with top Hollywood and Madison avenue honchos as effortlessly as if he were ordering breakfast at the local neighborhood diner. This may be OK for Stu, it's part of his job, to BS people in order to get their attention and business. What really irked off Stu's secret and hidden antagonist is his infidelity that he has for his wife Kelly, Radah Mitchell. For some time he's been watching and planing to get Stu into a trap that he set for him on the corner of 53rd and 8th avenue. In a phone booth that Stu has been calling his girlfriend Pamala McFadden, Katie Holmes, so he wouldn't have to use his cell phone. Which Stu's wife Kelly could easily find who Stu has been calling from checking the monthly phone bill.

Tense and powerful drama in midtown Manhattan with an excellent cast of characters. As the city is shut down by an unseen sniper who has a personal grudge thats reached public proportions. With the entire media focused on the private life of his helpless victim, trapped inside a phone booth, and forced to spill his guts out not only to those who know him but to the whole world on live TV.

The movie is so packed with action that you can't believe that it's under 90 minutes long, it seems more like 190 minutes as your riveted to the screen throughout it's entire showing. "Phone Booth"is another feather in the cap for Larry Cohen who gave us such low-budget but high quality classics over the years like "It Alive" in 1974 "God Told me To" in 1976 "Q" in 1982 "Maniac Cop" in 1988 and "Ambulance" in 1990. With "Phone Booth" possibly being the best of them all.

What works so well in the movie "Phone Booth" is how the dialog and the action is synchronized in the movie. Where it practically telegraphs everything thats going to happen and yet still jolts you when it does, even as you see it coming! Strong and hefty performances in this small and modest movie by Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Radah Mitchell, Kaite Holmes, Keith Nobbs, Richard T. Jones and many many more that would take up too much space to mention; and lets not forget Kiefer Sutherland. "Phone Booth" is an action suspense movie that stands head and shoulders above all the big budgeted films with multi-million dollar stars that Hollywood has made through the years.

"Phone Booth" is a powerhouse of a movie that never lets up for a moment of the 80 minutes it's on the screen and with an ending that will literally knock you out cold.

Making Fireworks Simple Way

1. The Fuse:
Punch a hole near the bottom of an empty 10,5-ounce can (the Campbell's Soup variety is perfect) and insert a 6-inch fuse from the hobby shop.

2. The Explosives:
Sprinkle in 1 tea-spoon of black or smokeless powder (available at Wal-Mart). Then cover it with a disc-shaped piece of tissue paper.

3. The Fuel:
Fill the rest of the can with Cremore, the highly flammable powdered nondairy creamer. Make sure it's well sifted and not clumpy.

4. The Show:
At dusk, gather some friends, light the fuse, and run back at least 25 feet. Your creation will explode in a 4- to 6-foot ball of flames.

Tea vs Coffee, Both Good In Different Ways

Coffee or Tea? There's a growing body of research to suggest that both are good for you in different ways.


White tea has been found to have a higher concetration of antioxidants in it which may actually be more effective preventing some diseases than green tea.

White tea may help prevent obesity, White tea was found to inhibit the growth of new fat cells.

Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content.

Studies have shown that Green Tea reduces the risk of esophageal cancer in women by 60%.

White Tea was found that the anti-oxidants in White Tea had anti-ageing potential, may help prevent some cancers, aswell as inflammation and heart disease.

Drinking tea too hot increases the risk of Esophageal cancer.


There have been studies that show that properties found in coffee can raise cholesterol.

People who drink more coffee have been found to be less likely to suffer Alzheimers disease later in life.

Drinking coffee over a long period of time may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.

Scientists believe that chemicals found in coffee could be used to make new drugs to treat hear disease and insomnia.

Over 1000 chemicals have been found in roasted coffee with 19 being carcinogens.



Tea may help prevent the development of type 1 diabetes and slow the progression once it has developed.

Drinking 3 to 4 cups of tea a day can cut the chance of a heart attack.

Tea contains fluoride which protects teeth.

Men who drink more than 10 cups of green tea per day are less likely to develop disorders of the liver.

Tea can protect against heart disease and some cancers.

People who drink black tea 4 times a day for 6 weeks were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Green Tea may offer some protection against lung cancer according to studies.

Tea hydrates rather than common conception that the caffeine in it dehydrates.

Tea may contain pesticides, even if it's been labelled as organic.

Tea contains a large amount of Tanin. Tanin reduces the absorbtion of iron in the body which can lead to Anemia

Tea contains caffeine which has been proven to cause anxiety and rises in blood pressure.

Adding milk may also stop the benefits tea has against cancer.


Studies have shown that coffee helps prevent type 2 diabetes.

Drinking coffee has been shown to decrease the risk of developing Gout in men over 40.

Caffeine increases the effectiveness of pain killers and coffee contains caffeine.

Coffee protects the liver, especially against cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Coffee improves short term recall as well as improved reaction times. The largest improvement was seen in the elderly.

Coffee causes tooth discoloration.

A study in Denmark showed that drinking 8 or more cups of coffee a day significantly increased the risk of stillbirths. 

Research has shown that coffee decreases blood flow to the heart.

Rock, Paper, Scissors to Victory

Many believe Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) is simply a game of chance and luck. However, like chess or Super Mario Kart, RPS is a game of strategy, observation and intelligence. Here are eight easy steps to winning every time.

The earliest form of Rock, Paper, Scissors was seen in 18th century Japan, called Jan-ken-pon


Males have the tendency to produce rock on their first throw. If you are playing against one, try using paper.

Experienced RPS throwers will play on your naivety and throw paper, hoping you throw rock. Counter with scissors.

Inexperienced (or flustered) RPS players will often subconsciously deliver the form that beat their last throw. Counter with the opposite

When you see a Two-Rock run, you know your opponents next move will be Scissors or Paper. People hate being predictable and a firm indication of predictability is to come out with the same throw three times in row. Counter with Rock.

As your opponent prepares to throw, watch his fingers carefully, Fingers will move or tense depending on the form they are about to to throw.

Paper is thrown the least in a match, Use it as an unexpected option.

Watch your future opponent play others. Do they have a favorite form? Do they maintain a consistent throwing pattern? Counter accordingly.

Remaining Daylight on Your Fingers

Is it time to stop and scrounge for shelter or is it better to keep trekking? Use this simple trick to measure the remaining daylight. Remember to allow yourself at least two hours to set up camp before the sun goes down.

Count the finger widths between the sun and the horizon. Each finger is equivalent to fifteen minutes, with each hand totaling an hour. When the sun dips low enough that only two hands fit. It's time to search for a suitable campsite and assemble a shelter: (A caveat: if you're near the poles, the sun will hover over the horizon for a longer period of time, giving you an innaccurate reading.

In Bruges

From the off, this had the look and feel of a cult movie. Being neither an out-and-out comedy nor an action thriller, I personally feel that this movie was mis-marketed - however, at least the PR machine made me want to watch it in the first place and I'm glad I did. Feeling like a cross between "Father Ted" and "The Bourne Identity", this is a beautifully shot film full of humour and pathos in equal measures. It's also the first film I can recall seeing where Colin Farrell isn't a huge disappointment.

"In Bruges" introduces us to two Irish hit men - child-like Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who are ordered to lay low in Bruges (in Belgium) for two weeks after a job in London while awaiting further instructions from their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Ken enjoys his time while Ray can't wait to get out until he meets Chloë (Clémence Poésy), who is working on a film with dwarf actor Jimmy (Jordan Prentice). But after botching a job and finding himself the target, both Ray and Ken struggle to deal with the consequences of their actions...

There will be few who would argue that "In Bruges" is anything original as it is rather reminiscent of a Guy Ritchie gangster flick as the characters and plot tangle with each other in unexpected ways. The balance of humour and drama also matches Ritchie's output though due to heavy Irish accents, you sometimes struggle to hear all of the fabulously witty dialogue.

 But "In Bruges" does offer some crucial differences, the biggest being Farrell who produces the goods in a way I never expected he could. He and Gleeson exchange some brilliant dialogue as they come to terms with past mistakes and choices. Fiennes is also very good as the urbane killer with a family life and a potty mouth. The other surprise is Bruges itself, looking every inch like the medieval dreamscape it feels like in the movie and provides not only a rich backdrop but also another character interacting with the actors.

However, the plot itself is pretty standard gangster fare (albeit, set in Belgium) and there are still questions left at the end of the film. But these don't distract you from what is an extremely good, low-budget movie that offers big dollops of laughs, action and soul-searching amid a picturesque Gothic town in Belgium. No doubt about it, this is a difficult movie to pigeonhole and I know some people who'll watch this expecting something different and going home disappointed. Probably the film closest to this in feel and style is the equally cult "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and that didn't do too well at the box office either. But if you're in the mood for something different but still entertaining then this could be exactly what you're looking for. Give it a go but leave your expectations at the door. Then book a flight to Belgium...