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Top 10 Best Movie Treasure Rooms

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Have you ever been stricken with the inexplicable urge to go treasure hunting after certain movies? Ever felt yourself imagining that somewhere, maybe in a cave, or a sunken ship, or at the end of a hidden passageway of some ancient palace, there is a giant pile of gold and jewels large enough to dive into like Scrooge McDuck (Or, more recently, Oscar “Oz” Diggs in Oz the Great and Powerful)?

It’s ok to admit it. We all have.
Here’s a list of the most dazzling treasure rooms Hollywood – and British Hollywood! – has ever created:

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Such beautiful artwork, and such wonderful music… WASTED.

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Definitely not as good as the first one. Typical sequel.

Honorable Mention: The Road to El Dorado (2000) and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2007)
While they don’t technically count as rooms, the golden cities of El Dorado and Cibola (respectively) deserve a small, if not official, place on this list. It is quite the undertaking to build just about anything using soft metals, so due credit must be given. And visually, they were both pretty spectacular.

The quality of the films… ehhh that’s another thing entirely.

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Is… Is that a golden brain on a stick?

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Most would probably not think of the Lestrange Vault as an official treasure room – perhaps because looting is not the ultimate objective for the protagonists, or because the word “treasure” is not used, or because the whole experience is *REALLY* unsatisfying – but you have to admit: it’s a big room full of shiny, old, expensive-looking pretty things accumulated over, one can only assume, several lifetimes. So it counts.

Plus, it magically multiplies, which is both a wonderful way to maintain finances AND a handy security feature!

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There’s no briefcase on top… Crap, I found the wrong picture.

9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Perhaps the least colorful of all the treasure rooms, the Bellagio vault needs a spot on the list if for no other reason than because audiences everywhere can remember how they felt the first time Yen almost missed his jump, the first time his hand bandages got stuck, and the first time a SWAT team walked unchallenged out of a Vegas casino with millions of dollars in hand. It’s a great feeling, and a “treasure room” that will never be forgotten.

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LOL One-eyed Willy.

8. The Goonies (1985)
Here begins the list of pirate treasure rooms, since movie pirates seem to be the best at hoarding unreasonable amounts of gold without spending it. Like dragon-goblin investment bankers with higher moral standards. Like with the Ocean’s Eleven example, I think audiences of all ages can remember how it felt when the Goonies found One-Eyed Willy’s treasure – perhaps the greatest penis metaphor in film – and didn’t have to leave the Goondocks!! Ah, such happy nostalgia!

That being said, the total haul itself was, comparatively, pretty pathetic. Hence the low ranking.

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And if you like THIS Pirates of the Caribbean treasure room, you should see the REAL one (which has thankfully not changed too much since the films came out). Click on image if you’re curious!

7. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
La Isla de Muerta! (Before it “went all pear-shaped!”) EPIC PIRATE TREASURE GOODNESS. When you think of pirate treasure, you have to be thinking of some dank cave filled with piles and piles of treasure, scattered randomly like landmines, and teeming with chalices and crowns and coins and fine jewelry. Jerry Bruckheimer delivered.

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I heard Queen Victoria was pretty funny in this.

6. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
The movie kinda flopped, but the treasure room is admittedly fabulous. Almost makes me want to watch it.

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I never trusted her. Dark-haired bitches always be evil.

5. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Imagine you’re a swindling magician from the cornfields of nowhere, and all of a sudden you’re in a technicolor land where despite the random animal attacks, people are super nice, some are basically even willing to worship you, and a bunch of ridiculously gorgeous women start offering you more money than you knew existed. And also a kingdom. I think, at that point, it’s acceptable to jump into your gigantic swimming pool of money, because clearly ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

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I’ll get a less lazy screenshot of this eventually.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The Dwarven Forge. Ah, the dwarves! That scene at the very beginning where it shows them mining and crafting, and measuring bits of precious gems, the gold flowing through the rock and the Arkenstone… You just KNOW those guys have to have a magnificent treasure room somewhere. A conclusion that was clearly also reached by Smaug, whose terrifying eyeball can be seen at the end of this panning shot.

People forget that The Hobbit is virtually a treasure hunt. Remember: “We must away, ere break of day, to find our old, forgotten gold.” I can’t blame them; there seems to be a lot.

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“We’re going to need a bigger ship!!” LOL… So yeah, I guess the dialogue sucked too.

3. Treasure Planet (2002)
Ok, I know some are going to disagree with me here, but hear me out. Aside from the extremely distracting animation (they were trying to be clever by mixing a bunch of different techniques, and it just came out looking sloppy) the story is actually pretty great!! Plus, with a cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, Niles from Frasier (David Hyde Pierce), Martin Short and some other people, it’s really not that bad.

Oh, right! And also, the treasure room is AMAZING. It’s not just what you see above; in fact, the ENTIRE CORE of the planet is the treasure room:

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“The Loot of a Thousand Worlds”

Come on. That’s cool.

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Every time Cage lights the fire, I’m terrified that it’s going to ignite all the treasure! And then I remember that that’s not how gunpowder + metal works, or else guns probably wouldn’t happen…

2. National Treasure (2004)
The Templar Treasure in National Treasure is actually based on several real legends surrounding the knights templar, combined with legends surrounding the freemasons and the founding of America. Hidden thousands of feet beneath the Trinity Church in Manhattan, centuries of acquired wealth and knowledge (“Scrolls! From the Library at Alexandria!”) lay waiting in dust and darkness before intrepid explorer Benjamin Franklin Gates, aided by his band of old guy, young guy, and German chick, stumble onto it in search of an exit… and hopefully also treasure. This is by far one of the most epic treasure scenes ever, so again, if you want to make a big room filled with lots of loot, go to Bruckheimer, apparently. The guy knows what he’s doing.

The only reason it doesn’t take the top spot is because, well…

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WHOOO DISTUUUURBS MY SLUMBEEEEERRR???

1. Aladdin (1992)
The Cave of Wonders is hard to beat. In fact, I don’t think it can be done. Not only does it SPEAK AUTONOMOUSLY WTF, but within its… scary, unstable, sand-hewn walls, it conceals some of the greatest magical gadgets ever. Starting with a magic carpet and ending with a genie. Because, let’s be honest, after you have a genie, you really don’t need anything else.

And the security is top notch on this bad boy, since it tends to simply eat anyone who upsets the big, golden, ruby-loving gorilla. Or anything else.

Touch nothing but the lamp.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

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All My TARDISes

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It all started with a cake.

I have a friend who loves to bake. She’s good at it, too, and she likes to get creative. So when she volunteers to make you a birthday cake, you say “YES, PLEASE!!”

This I what I got:

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I loved it! (She hated it.) It reminded me of the birthday cake Hagrid gave Harry when he came to get him in the first book. Plus, it was delicious.

But the inflow of TARDISes didn’t stop there. After seeing my reaction once, everyone now knew my weakness.

This was a gift from the same friend:

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As was this (the mug):

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The TARDIS disappears from a random street in London (well, probably Cardiff) and appears in deep space! I call it TARDIS Tea – no matter what liquid is actually in there.

… And please don’t judge the Cylon tuna sandwich; I have a Graystone toaster. NBD. [Caprica was a tragically under-appreciated show.]

But then! Christmas came! And by this time, everyone knew of my TARDIS fixation. I mean… What’s not to love about a tiny, blue, wooden, physically impossible time&spaceship driven by a madman from beyond the stars??!

The good news is that it made gift ideas much simpler. Another friend capitalized on my weakness for our Secret Santa exchange! Behold, one of the best gifts I’ve ever received:

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It was ridiculously hard to transport, but so unbelievably awesome. The plan was to somehow affix it to my bedroom door, thus making my room The TARDIS for all intents and purposes (besides the intents and purposes of traveling through time and space) but we have not yet been able to figure out how…

Still! It’s pretty damn awesome! And since he knew there was no way to give me a real TARDIS, he even threw in a miniature one!

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It spins and moves when you pull it back… well, sometimes.

That’s all for now!

A little while ago, someone suggested I get the iPhone case, which I have to admit is pretty sweet:

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But personally, I’m working my way up to THIS, the Holy Grail of all TARDIS memorabilia:

THE TARDIS DRESS!!! (Click image to see more. There’s quite a variety! All made by wonderful, talented, imaginative, and very nerdy people.)

And for those of us who are sensitive about our figures, it comes with a handy, ready-made excuse: We’re SUPPOSED to be bigger on the inside.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

Now that we’re officially stuck with it, what the hell is Obamacare?

$938 billion over the next 10 years. We have all heard the screams and read the headlines and felt the shudder deep down inside us where our democracy bone lives, but do we really know what all the fuss is about? Do we really understand what (the dreaded and/or beloved) Obamacare actually is? Some say this is a total overhaul of everything we believe in, others say that it is simply a total overhaul of the health care system, and even more others say it won’t make the tiniest difference to most people. So, basically, WHAT THE FUCK, MAINSTREAM MEDIA?

Way to fail completely, as usual, and leave us all in the dark. Again.

Because clearly, this is more than just a “difference of opinions.” Opinions aren’t just differing because the merits are questionable; no, they’re actually disagreeing on what the legislation itself entails. All 1,000+ pages of it. In tiny print. Which no one has bothered to read. To summarize: no one knows what the hell is happening.

So let me break it down.

Until 2014, this is what will be happening:

  • To help cover the cost, insurers will be limited in how they spend our premium dollars. If they use too much for administrative costs or profits, they’ll be forced to give some of it back through rebates.
  • Some services will become free in all new private insurance policies and Medicaid, preventive care like screenings and vaccinations, for example.
  • People on Medicare, because they’re 65 or older or disabled, will receive benefits to help cover their drug costs.
  • Young people, who are having a harder and harder time getting employed and out of debt after high school and university, will be able to stay on their parent’s insurance plans until the age of 26, giving them more time to save money and get on their feet.
  • Some small businesses will also get tax breaks to help pay for employee health insurance.
  • There will be no more lifetime limits on health insurance, whether you buy it yourself or get it from your employer.
  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to turn kids away for “pre-existing” conditions like asthma, diabetes, or cancer, etc.
  • Some adults will still be turned away for stupid reasons, but those who do can enter what is known as a “high-risk pool” run by the government. This sounds terrifying, but the “high-risk” part applies to the insurers, not us. It’s really nothing more than a government aid policy that helps to cover the costs of the sickest uninsured people – the riskiest ones for insurance companies (the ones who are more likely to die, and therefore less likely to pay back what they borrowed). Many believe these pools are what will cost the American taxpayers the most money, since government coverage has to come from somewhere.

After 2014, this is what will be happening:

  • Medicaid will be expanded to cover all low-income individuals and families in every state.
  • Depending on your income, if you lose your job or your employer doesn’t provide decent coverage, you may get a health insurance tax credit.
  • The vast majority of us will continue to get health insurance through work (just like now, which is why so many say this doesn’t make that huge a difference), but if you don’t have that option, you’ll be able to buy coverage in what’s called an “exchange.”
  • Also, insurers will no longer be able to turn people down or charge them more for being sick. We’ll come back to this in a minute.

This is what the “exchange” is:
Based on where you live, you’ll get an easy-to-understand menu of coverage plans from which you can choose what is best for you by comparing and contrasting the different offers. In the exchange, insurance companies are basically forced to compete fairly under strict rules. Human lives should not be chips to be gambled away at a virtual casino the way they are now, and a person’s value is not determined by their physical condition. The exchange would ensure that our health care system reflects these truths. The idea is that by giving consumers good information, a fair playing field, and access to lots of choices, insurers will be forced to keep rates competitive and not grossly and dramatically exaggerated… Now if only we could apply such a concept to our consolidated media empires.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that not only was the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (more commonly, first derisively, and then finally proudly known as “Obamacare”) constitutional, but that the individual mandate was perfectly legit as well, only as a tax. And Republicans everywhere renounced their man crushes on Chief Justice John Roberts.

This is what the “individual mandate” is:
After 2014, as mentioned before, health insurance companies lose their right to say “no.” To protect insurance companies from people who might try to take advantage of such a system, (by waiting until they break an arm to buy health insurance, etc.,) with few exceptions, people will be required to either buy health insurance or pay a special tax. Same with larger businesses who will pay fines if they don’t insure their workers. This is the individual mandate.

Aside from also being “constitutional,” the mandate is the part of Obamacare that everyone was really pissed off about. The part that is now considered a “tax,” as if “mandate” wasn’t bad enough. The part that forces a hard-working, law-abiding, God-fearing, already-tax-paying American citizen to fork over more money from his own wallet – that he paid for!! – to help pay for a costly new system, regardless of the benefits he is receiving therefrom. You see, helping the poor and healing the sick *sounds* all well and good in theory, but the truth is, it costs money. And most people don’t want to give it. Because the economy sucks and they have families. But also because they hate, hate more than anything, being told that they have to do something.

Some hate the idea of paying for illegal immigrants; these people have a fundamental misunderstanding of Obamacare, which only provides care for citizens (sadly still leaving many without care).

Some hate the idea of paying for anyone besides themselves; these people forget that they will no longer be paying insurance companies as much and that some services will now be free, which means they will be paying less overall, so it kind of balances out. The idea of “paying for others” seems like it would intuitively mean “paying more,” but that is not necessarily true, especially when so many are contributing at once.

Some hate the idea of government being so omnipresent in their lives; these people clearly don’t know how much regulation already goes into the health care system, and how political it already is. The reason the private pharmaceutical companies have so much power is because they have so much of our money, which they use to buy congressmen who keep the system in place. This is why drugs are so expensive, why so many are turned down by insurance companies, why hospitals charge so much: it’s all about profit. Take away the profit motive, and you have no reason not to share. Pharmaceuticals and health care in general will become much cheaper because those companies can no longer demand such a high price for the goods/services they supply. In this case, both devils = big government, but “the devil you know” is why we’re in this mess. Make sense now?

Some people hate the idea of Obama killing the insurance companies, and putting all who work for them out of their jobs; these people are stupid. The insurance companies aren’t going anywhere.

Watch as those who so vehemently oppose Obamacare become more and more silent as time goes on, and they realize that their fears were just that: fears, not predictions.

This is what a “death panel” is:
A shadowy group of unnamed, unaccountable cloaked (possibly hooded) figures acting as a buffer between you and your doctor. These are the men and women, many of them reformed ninja-assassins, who determine whether your life is worth enough money in the long run to keep paying for you in the short run. They are the harbingers of death, the bringers of the end times. …Also known as “insurance companies,” they exist today and are not a part of the Obamacare package – at least, not in “death panel” form.

 

And let’s try and remember that $938 billion is only 2% of the federal budget. The DOD has more expensive toothpicks.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

History.

Have you ever read a history book and wondered what it would be like to live back then? What would it have been like to fight in the Revolution or to discover a new world? What side would you have been on in the French Revolution? The Russian? The Mexican? Well we ARE living “back then.” In a couple hundred years, people are going to think back to these days and wonder what it would have been like to be us. They will wonder what it was like to live in the days of Obama and the war on terror, the days of gay rights and the days of corporate politics. They will wonder about the people who lived in such charged and divisive times, who each day endured the abuses of a social, legal, and economic conspiracy that would keep them disenfranchised. Do you want to be that chapter where the sun finally rose, and the people cried out “Enough!” and finally fought back, broke free from their chains, and battered headfirst through the prison walls? Do you at least want to be the footnote that mentions a small band of righteous rebels who struggled valiantly, but ultimately were defeated? Or do you want to be a whole book on the people who just let it happen? If I do nothing else with my life, I at least want to keep that book from being written. We need to retake history for us, because it belongs to us. We have a right to write it the way we want it to be written while it is still our present; we have a right to determine how we will be remembered.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

Top 10 Greatest National Mottos

From the maple leaf to a majestic eagle and everything in between; when it comes to national symbols, our attention is almost solely focused on the animals and flags that represent countries around the world. However, there’s one very important symbol of a country’s identity that is always forgotten; the national motto. They can tell a lot about a country as they often express the values of the country as well as what they are most proud of. They are often very historical and vary in their significance (as well as their awesomeness) but for whatever reason, they are always pushed aside into the background. To bring them back into the light, here is a Top 10 list of the greatest mottos of all time.

Liberty. Equality. Fraternity.  More than just a motto for the people of France.

#10 – LuxembourgMir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn (Luxembourgish, We wish to remain what we are)

Probably the most honest national motto in existence, while other countries predominantly use grandiose phrases like peace, justice and freedom… but Luxembourg simply just wants to stay the way it has always been. This micro-nation is pretty tiny, but it is obviously quite comfortable with that and it is this honesty that puts Luxembourg on this list.

#9 – SwazilandSiyinqaba (Swati, We are the fortress)

Taking a more confident and defiant stance on their national motto, this small south African kingdom is telling the world that they’re not going away any time soon. Although “We are the fortress” sounds more like the name of a indie rock band, you cannot deny how great this motto is. The country doesn’t mean fortress in a brute force militaristic way; different interpretations of the motto include “We are a mystery/riddle” and “We hide ourselves away” making their motto more of a statement on their elusiveness than their prowess.

Indonesia’s obligatory eagle themed coat of arms… which is pretty awesome in and of itself.

#8 – Indonesia Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Old Javanese, Unity in diversity)

This is a motto that should be familiar in meaning to any multicultural state. Choosing this motto was much more of a practical decision for the Indonesian state, where it was used to ease conflicts between religious groups in the 1950’s. Today, the country is 86% Muslim and the motto continues to articulate the diversity that shapes and unites the country. This theme is common amongst national mottos, even to the point where their translated motto was taken practically word for word by the European Union as their own.

#7 – SpainPlus Ultra (Latin, Further beyond)

Quite possibly the most vague yet strangely significant motto in existence, the Spanish motto makes the list not only because it has the word “Ultra” in it but because of its ability to conjure ideas of reaching out to new frontiers without limit. The motto has its roots with the Pillars of Hercules that were built according to Greek mythology were built near the Straits of Gibraltar and marked the end of the known world with a warning that said “Nec plus ultra” or “Nothing further beyond”. King Charles V of Spain adopted the current motto as a challenge to this myth, pushing himself to surpass the known boundaries of the world for Spain. It’s the kind of motto that would probably be more at home on a NASA space mission badge, but “Plus Ultra” absolutely deserves a spot on this list.

#6 – Scotland (Unofficial): Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (Latin, No-one provokes me with impunity)

Although motto isn’t the official motto of Scotland, one of the origin stories of where they got this unofficial motto is actually pretty interesting. When the ancient Scots were being invaded by Viking raiding parties, the attackers would step on the famous scotch thistle with a scream which alerted the Scots to their presence. “No one provokes me with impunity” actually referred to the thistle itself, which because of this stories like this became a symbol of the Scottish people and it’s military. If you’ve ever seen Braveheart you’ll know that this motto is practically the plot of the movie, making this motto one of the greatest of all time.

You’ll never look at this flag the same way again.

#5 – GreeceΕλευθερία ή θάνατος (Eleutheria i thanatos) (Greek: Freedom or Death)

This is absolutely one of the most visceral national mottos in existence today. Mottos of this variety have been used by nations all around the world Revolutionary groups fighting for freedom including the Greeks, but that phrase later became the official motto of the state. In fact, it is one popular theory regarding the use of 9 stripes (for the nine syllables of the motto) in the Greek flag.

#4 – South Korea: 홍익인간 (弘益人間,Hongik Ingan) (Korean, Benefit all mankind)

This is one of the few mottos that actually doesn’t focus inwards, but actually sets out a solid mission for the country and reaches outwards to all of mankind. It is quite honourable that they chose this motto, and it surprised me that there were not many national mottos like this. For the most humanistic motto of all time; they deserve to be on this list.

#3 – France Liberté, égalité, fraternité (French, Liberty, equality, fraternity)

This kind of “Three Word” motto is incredibly common amongst countries today, but the historical roots and the creation of this motto during the French Revolution is so powerful that it has to belong on this list. These three ideals form the bedrock of democratic ideals and is a motto that will be eternal for the French people. The style of this motto is the inspiration for many others; which is why the French motto belongs on this list.

#2 – India: सत्यमेव जयते (Satyameva Jayate) (Sanskrit, Truth alone triumphs)

These self evident national mottos are quite powerful, because you can put as many flashy words as you want in a motto but it won’t amount to much unless practiced. Truth is an incredible value, and it is something that Ghandi treasured while he was struggling for Indian independence from the British. This motto doesn’t try to blind you with nationalist fervor, but simply tries to remind others that the truth will set them free and that it is a value that should be held in a high regard by the whole of humanity.

LOL. It’s funny because it’s written on a penny.

#1 – United States (De-facto): E pluribus unum (Latin, Out of many, one)

In my opinion, this is the greatest national motto of all time. It is an awful shame that the American experiment turned out the way that it did, but looking at the founding of the country it is hard not to see what could have been. It is an awful shame that “In God We Trust” was later named the official motto, because that motto is about as significant as the song “Jesus Take the Wheel”. “E Pluribus Unum” never had to be legislated into acceptance because everyone knew exactly what it meant and why it was important to keep in mind. The almost certainly unconstitutional “In God We Trust” had to be legislated and was implemented in the 50’s as a slight to the Soviets. Their original motto was strong, self evident and resolute; out of many we are united to a single purpose.

Honourable Mention – North Korea: 강성대국 (强盛大國, Gangseong Daeguk) (Korean, Prosperous and great country)

Nice try North Korea. You get an honourable mention for simply being incredibly dishonest. Claiming you’re powerful, spending countless amounts of money on their military despite the massive amounts of starvation within the country. In fact, putting on a show is probably more North Korean than anything else; making this motto very appropriate.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

Un-American

Over one-third of American adults is obese.

The average adult American IQ is 98, the lowest of all developed nations.

46% of American adults prefer the theory of creationism over evolution.

The United States has never gone a decade without a military conflict.

Wal-Mart is a $260 billion American company that profits from selling Chinese products – while the US owes trillions to China.

Most Americans believe that the United States is the biggest, toughest, smartest, richest and best-looking country in the world – with almost religious conviction.

And yet, 2 in 3 Americans is incapable of naming a single Supreme Court Justice.

There shouldn’t be a choice between education and incarceration. Generally speaking, one prevents the other. The United States leads in the one that should have been prevented, and falls behind in the one that could have prevented it. Well, at least we still have “the brave” since “the free” live somewhere else now.

We wonder why we are stereotyped the world over as fat, stupid, ignorant, violent, greedy, selfish, and sanctimonious. We ponder this question, but cannot bring ourselves to research the Supreme Court.

We’re actually more likely to Google “Why do people think Americans are stupid?” than “Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?” This is because we are also extremely vain on top of all that other awesome stuff.

I get accused of being an ingrate, of being “anti-American” because I have the sheer gall – THE AUDACITY!! – to point out flaws in our delusion. Maybe I’m tired of being lumped in with all the rest of the idiots who love nothing more than turning my beloved country into a festering cesspit of ignorance and superiority. Ever think of that??

Clearly, these things do not apply to all of us. So those of us that are not part of the problem should try being part of the solution, as are myself and many others. You can, too! As an American: If you think Americans are stupid, go get an education. If you don’t know how or when something in history occurred, look it up. If you think Americans are fat, start working out and eating better. If you think Americans are arrogant, be a little more critical. It’s not un-patriotic to try to fix your country, for the good of your country. Quite the opposite.

And you have to admit the rest of the world has a point. Maybe if we weren’t so rich, powerful, and loud, it wouldn’t matter that we are also stupid and self important.

My cousin interned at a hotel in Provence and would tell me about typical American customers who would pointedly order the fanciest, most expensive, highest quality wine on the menu… And a glass of Coke. Are we trying to experience the culture or aren’t we??

We like to travel and mingle with the rest of the world, meaning that the rest of the world is forced to mingle with us and our obnoxiousness in exchange for our dirty, sweaty cash… Mingling which has to be done in English because we can’t be bothered to learn anything that doesn’t have to do with America.

So when the rest of the world complains and throws insults, epithets, and facts our way, can you blame them?

For instance, they call us violent warmongers and accuse us of fighting wars of ideology all over the world. We obviously take offense at this. In fact, in addition to not having ever had a decade of peace, we haven’t even had a year of peace since 1872. (Before that was 1869, 1850, 1834, 1826, 1811, and 1796-7) That’s 8 total years of peace in a 229-year history. It’s amazing to think we come off as trigger happy to the rest of the world! Simply astounding!

Compared to Canada who didn’t have a single conflict anywhere in the world between 1902-1914, 1922-36, 1946-50, 1953-1969, and 1971-1989, (almost 60 years of peace, just in the last century) maybe it makes more sense. This is why the world hates us – and us specifically. We won’t accept our faults, even and almost especially when they’re facts.

Usually, we try to deflect attention away by saying something like, “Oh, and I bet the education system in Eritrea is so great!” or “Yeah, but Syria’s problems are way worse.” As if those countries were comparable as equally powerful nations. (They are equally *valuable* nations, but no nation on earth is equally powerful, or has a population whose choices impact the rest of the world quite as much.)

All of these people are dead, and you have no right to share in their brilliance. Get over it, and go do something great yourself. Also: Sorry, Canada. Bell’s one of ours.

We somehow think that our past actions carry over to the present day. We were the world’s top producer during the Industrial Revolution, therefore, it must still be true! This is where so many of the world’s greatest things were invented, so we must all be as clever as the individuals who invented them! We have the best universities, therefore we must have the smartest people! Without us, the Allied Forces could not have won World War II – therefore, America won World War II and saved the world from the Nazis!

If this doesn’t make any sense to you, given the reality of… well, reality, then perhaps you can now see America from an international perspective.

We are loud in countries where calmness is custom; we are curious about the world, yet we will not taste its delicacies or learn its tongues; we are good people, but prefer to believe we are the best.

So I may come off as a bit critical at times, a bit preachy. But maybe it’s because I care about the whole world more than just my own country. Maybe it’s because I realistically believe in the fallibility of an infant nation. Maybe it’s because I love my country and I hold it to a higher standard.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s because we enjoy an internationally-accepted position of power, and have a corresponding responsibility to NOT be a bunch of dogmatic, conceited morons who believe in nothing more than our own righteousness.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

Besides, we’re all forgetting the one thing that makes America greater than anywhere else. It’s not our people, our spirit, nor our legacy.

It’s this.

Seth Grahame-Smith’s Unholy Night

“The Bible said they were wise men… It didn’t say they were nice.”

So teases the brilliantly animated trailer for Seth Grahame-Smith’s most recent contribution to literature, Unholy Night, the newest from the author who brought the world Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

The story delves into the mystery behind the three wise men of legend – about whom history has little to say – who so famously delivered unto the newborn king gifts of golf, Frankenstein, and mirth.

Sorry – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Just as random.)

It reads like a… Well, imagine a mash-up of an unwritten chapter of Game of Thrones, the most intense theological conversation you’ve ever had while stoned, and um… The Bible, obviously.

And Assassin’s Creed.

Plus, since it’s Grahame-Smith, it contains a good deal of his particular brand of flippant, slightly sarcastic, pulp movie campy drama — meaning some of the language and behavior seem out of place, but somehow only manage to add to the wonderful atmosphere that the author likes to create in his worlds — that feeling that you’re walking through an unfamiliar chapter of history, but it’s okay because you always belonged there. It’s an unsettlingly anachronistic sensation at times, like stepping from a time machine and seeing someone with an iPod, but it is a literary invention that Grahame-Smith has perfected and does not allow to distract from the brilliance of his storytelling. It only makes it more enjoyable.

A huge departure from both the world of Jane Austen’s early nineteenth century, and Abe Lincoln’s time half a century later, Unholy Night transports the reader to a land much more distant and strange, to a place and time many people think about and perhaps even try to relive every Sunday, but could never hope to truly understand. He injects the excitement of sword-fights and chases and executions and grave robberies into the reverent tale of justice coming to a cruel king, of freedom coming to wise men, of a savior being born to an oppressed world.

It is a wild ride – often on the back of an exhausted camel – through everything you’ve ever known about the birth of Christianity, with a few scenic pit stops of embellishment to inspire the imagination. What if these men were no kings at all, but thieves and villains? Join the infamous “Antioch Ghost” and the other two “wise men” as their tale unfolds, which sees them first captured then escaped from Herod’s dungeons and racing across the desert with a familiar young couple and their oddly well-tempered newborn child, to find out.

It’s amazing what the mind can do with a little mystery. One built around one of the most significant, and most disputed, events in human history? Too good an opportunity to pass up for some storytellers – and the world of literature thanks Seth Grahame-Smith for his answer.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

 

Vagina.

Va • gi • na |vəˈjīnə|
noun
 (pl. vaginas or vaginae |-nē, -nī|)
The muscular tube leading from the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus in women and most female mammals.

It is not a bad word. It is a natural part of the anatomy of half the population of the world. Like “phalanges” and “sternum.” And “penis.”

Bad words are words like “ass,” “fuck,” “shit,” “cock” (and “motherfucker,” “piss,” and “tits,” according to George Carlin,) and maybe “bitch,” when used derisively.

Really bad words are words like “the N-word” and “the C-word” (and “the L-word.”) These are the ones that should get you barred from speaking on the floor of the Michigan legislature.

Not the word “vagina.”

Matt Bors is a genius. Click the image to check out some more of this stuff.

So I have a few things to say to those Michigan legislators who banned Rep. Lisa Brown (D-MI) from speaking on the floor for 2 days:

To the men: I realize you stopped wanting to hear about vaginas the second you popped out of one, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t worry about them — all the time. Monthly, at least. It’s like asking a disabled person to stop taking wheelchairs so seriously. Or, (because having a vagina is far from a disability. If anything, my vagina makes me feel superior to others,) it would be akin to asking men to stop making such a big deal out of their penises – as if that could ever happen. It is ridiculous. This is a part of us. Literally attached, 100% of the time. We can’t just remove it whenever we want to so we can be free to sleep with anyone that comes along and seems willing — you know, like a man is.

So I’m glad that you guys don’t have the ability to get pregnant arbitrarily, but some of us do. Is this enough of a reason to be punished? Furthermore, if you’re not calling them “punishments,” per se, but rather “restrictions” for the sake of social morality, decency, and responsibility, (topics on which it is not your job to legislate,) then the same fetus-defending rules that apply to birth control, vaginas/uteruses, and abortions should apply to Viagra, penises, and vasectomies…

And if you have a problem with any of this, you’re probably just PMSing, so shut up, nag. This is how (even female) Republicans see women.

An idea that was in fact ignored entirely when Michigan Rep. Barb Byrum (D) brought it up, men even speaking over the top of her to keep her silent. Shame on her! Typical woman, speaking without being spoken to. In fact, similar things happen whenever female legislators propose this type of bill or amendment. It is the wonderful new Republican trend, along with “coming out of the closet” and “being a total dick.”

As for the women: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

I understand being pro-life, but don’t pretend anyone in this world is “pro-abortion.” Some of us happen to be “pro-choice,” but that’s because we believe in having the freedom to control one’s own body. And to Republican women, whom I assume appreciate small government and personal autonomy, that should make sense.

But, apparently I’m mistaken. Instead, this is what the world is becoming.

Legitimately elected individuals are denying other legitimately elected individuals their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free speech simply for using anatomical terminology and proposing measures in the interest of fairness.

This is a land where women fear the mention of the very thing that makes them women, where strict constructionists ignore the First Amendment, and where truly intelligent people still argue against the existence of gravity by pointing out how plants grow upwards.

God bless America.

Because I’m pretty sure we’re doing this for him.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN

15 New/Upcoming Grown-Up Movies (That are NOT just for adults)

As a rebuttal to the idea that adults can learn things from kids’ movies, I offer a few new grown-up movies (not to be confused with adult films) that contain valuable lessons for the children.

Civics:
1. The Campaign
Children should know how the political field works in their country. This… well they’re calling it a satire… is so true to life that after 2 hours, your kid could probably pass the AP US Government Test (probably not with a 5, but not everyone has Jeremy Adams and The West Wing to teach them; some people just have Will Ferrell). With the amount of immaturity, ignorance, stupidity, and total and utter wrongness exhibited by these Southern candidates, coupled with the sheer number of people who are senselessly offended by it, I have seen few truer political films. I honestly don’t think that any more accurate political films even exist. Actually, you know what? This isn’t a comedy. It’s a docudrama with A-list actors. You want a political comedy? Ides of March.

Biology:
2. Prometheus
In these highly-charged political atmospheres especially, it is important to posit possible theories that will give equal opportunities to creationism theorists as well as smart people, in the interest of fairness (also known as “affirmative action” but don’t tell them that). For instance, it is always possible that we came from a race of marble-skinned Dr. Manhattans who create life ad infinitum until one creation eventually goes wrong and destroys them. Makes perfect sense, right? It explains evolution (not really) while also leaving room for a creator. After all, and as mentioned in the film, how do we know who created them, “the Engineers?” It must be God. Or maybe some race of golden Iron Men. Who knows? It’s open to interpretation! Just like the science of biology!

Runner Up: Dark Shadows. Because Johnny Depp mentions Chloe Moretz’s “womb” at one point. Besides, kids can learn a lot about their bodies from vampires, witches, ghosts, and werewolves. And Alice Cooper. Like the fact that they can never, ever be immortal, no matter how hard they try.

And I’d just like to say that I expected this film to be relatively lame, and ended up loving it. You may get frustrated with him for being creepy all the time, but Johnny Depp is damn good at what he does.

Math:
3, 4 & 5. Jack the Giant Killer, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman
Show these films to your children so they may learn how to take one or two relatively weak, but still beloved storybook characters and end up with thousands upon thousands of casualties. The little boy whose failed business model of trading a cow for beans suddenly becomes an epic butcher; the two future diabetics who couldn’t keep their grubby paws off other people’s property become a two-person Salem; and the girl who takes apples from crones, the traditional version of candy from strangers, decides to grow a pair herself – but not a pair of apples (Ba-dum-chh!). Are these good messages to send the children? No worse than telling them it is “improper” for 1 to be on top.

American Literature
6. The Great Gatsby
They’re going to have to read it anyway. (Even though, in my beloved Fitzgerald’s defence, This Side of Paradise is a far better piece of literature, all things considered.) And this way, they know to expect the ridiculousness of some vapid bimbo weeping on a bed and screaming “THEY’RE SUCH BEAUTIFUL SHIRTS!” – a courtesy I was never afforded.

P.E.
7. The Dark Knight Rises
I don’t really think there’s anything they could learn from this, but good luck trying to stop them from seeing it. That’ll be YOUR physical education for the day.

U.S. History
8. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Speaking of well-known figures who never used to be known as violent, ass-kicking white ninjas before but are now, Abraham Lincoln gets a bold new makeover that’s even better than the fantasy built around his historical legacy. And by “better,” I mean “far more imaginative.” Instead of “Great Emancipator” he is now a “vampire hunter” (because “slayer” would have sounded ridiculous). Older children will benefit from seeing snippets of real speeches and historical events like various monuments’ construction, while younger children will be indoctrinated with the proper fear of Abraham Lincoln that we all should have enjoyed. The violence can be explained the same way you do with video games: it’s not real.

Then you roll the dice and hope your kid doesn’t become a serial killer.

Music:
9. Les Miserables
Children need to be taught the price of theft. A functioning economy can only be so called if everyone contributes and enjoys their fair share, when no one individual or group possesses any more bread than another without having earned it fairly… Oh, wait, never mind. That’s apparently called “socialism” now. Whereas when I grew up, it was just called “common decency.”

Also, I guess the huge dose of French history couldn’t hurt their little brains… Unless you’re one of those people that hates the French for no good reason.

Lunch:
10. The Hobbit
Hobbits love food. Kids can learn from the good example they set by neither avoiding it nor vomiting it back up after consumption.

U.S. History: (because you obviously failed the first time)
11. Django Unchained
Kids will have to be warned of potentially disturbing rape scenes, but other than that, this movie offers charming insight into the plight of the slaves who worked for Southern plantations in pre-Civil War America (and Leo in period dress). Many of them did get free, and would try to return for their families. Most of them were unsuccessful, due to the abundance of bounty hunters and racists in general who would report them. Those that were not, like those led by Harriet Tubman, were quite brave, formidable figures upon whom the annals of history smile. But primarily, I believe that Tarantino should be an integral and quintessential part of any well-adjusted childhood.

Sociology
12. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This is the only time I’m not joking. Take your kids to see this movie, and the documentary about bullying, and all other things that seem overly serious and kind of pretentious. There’s a reason people describe them that way, and that reason is because they are true and alarming things that are actually occurring, but because no one brought attention to it a million years ago, we’re pretending it’s not a real thing and psychologists just invented it to make money. Bullying is a problem; peer pressure is a problem; a lack of sexual education in classrooms is a problem; sexual repression is a problem (that can lead to self abuse if a person think there’s something wrong with them); simply having a low self image is a problem. Because no one should. Watching films like this educates people, and education makes everything better (FACT). And also, Emma Watson with an American accent will be worth the cost of admission.

Home Economics:
13. Killer Joe
Ok, the whole point of school is to teach children the things they will need to know in order to function in life. Well, I can think of nothing more appropriate. Some of them may need to know this stuff! See, this guy’s debt is getting crazy and he knows he will inherit his mother’s money and life insurance when she dies. So what does he do? He goes about coming up with ways to kill her and collect it, like any normal/rational person would. Talk about your valuable life lessons!

World Politics:
14. The Dictator
It’s important for children to understand that people who rule Middle Eastern-sounding countries are insane, trigger happy, cruel, racist, ignorant, rich, and stupid. This way, they too will grow up believing in the God-given ultimate sovereignty, righteousness, and moral infallibility of the United States Armed Forces. See Battleship for further details. And for Rihanna’s attempt at acting. There’s also this bit at the end wherein some very interesting connections between modern-day America and the average dictatorial regime are made; it’s an awkward moment of simultaneously hilarious and alarming truth.

Physics:
15. The Amazing Spider-Man
I would have put this in with Biology, (or made you re-take biology since you failed pretty hard the first time, but you’re already re-taking US History) but the physics are far more disturbing. Not only is he part-spider, but his webs can do things no spider’s can. For instance, a single strand of the stuff that comes out of his wrists can hold up extremely heavy things; spider silk can hold spiders. He can climb up the side of the building – while carrying another human; spiders generally only take responsibility for number one.

Also, the technology, I guess.

(Extra-Curricular) Sports:
16. The Avengers
If nothing else, they’ll learn about teamwork.

There you go, so many movies from 2012 that can (and should!) be enjoyed by the whole family. Who says the modern media have nothing to offer our children?

To them, I say: The Hunger Games.

– THE DUEL CITIZEN