Monday, February 15, 2010

Black Market Beach

Sometimes you read something in the paper that surprises you when you thought you were no longer able to be surprised about the wicked things that humans get up to. Today it was the new phenomenon of beach stealing.

Singapore has been accused of waging a 'sand war' and paying smugglers to steal entire beaches belonging to its neighbors. The island city has grown 20 per cent in the last fifty years by reclaiming land from the sea and the recent bans on exporting sand in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam have have increased demand for sand and created a lucrative black market. Under cover of night, the smugglers have raided beaches in Indonesia and Malaysia, carrying away millions of tons of coastline and shipping it to Singapore. Environmental groups fear impending environmental catastrophe and blame corruption in the Singapore government.

Is there anything we won't steal, anything that can't be bought?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


On the way into the theatre I didn't feel like I was looking forward to seeing the movie, rather that I wished I had already seen the movie. Two billion dollars in 39 days, you have to see that and you have to see it in 3D. I thought I might be the only human not to have seen the most successful movie of all time yet, but no, IMAX was packed with other late adopters. Everyone in my row was already seated and of course they were all wearing thongs cause it was hot so I stood on all of their toes as I squeezed past, desperately hoping I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom in the next three hours.

Due to the cleverness of my friends we had the perfect seats in the middle of the middle and unlike every other multiplex movie I've ever seen, the film started on time. No trailers, no commercials, just the movie, so weird. As soon as Sam Worthington wakes up and people are floating around in zero gravity, I felt like I was in the room with them and I thought this is what it must have been like to have been an adult when Star Wars came out. Like you're witnessing the birth of something completely new and also like you're watching a kids movie. Naming the sought after plot device 'Unobtanium', unashamedly takes all credibility out of the equation. Nobody goes to this thing for the dialogue but Sam Worthington actually says out loud, 'I just don't know who I am anymore'. It made me want to punch him in the face, when they can make that possible, we will truly be living in the future.

The audience was strangely quiet, the woman next to me didn't move or make any sound at all except when I was talking to my friend she gave me what I assume was a nasty look but I couldn't tell because of the giant glasses. By the way the glasses are the worst thing you've ever put anywhere near your face and I've heard some cinemas charge extra for the glasses, what a scam. After about ninety minutes my eyes hurt and I felt like I was on magic mushrooms.

As for the movie, I got the message, and then I got it again, and then I got it every five minutes for three hours. I wanted to call James Cameron to tell him that I was already at the party and he could stop calling now. I really liked the spectacle but the whole thing was a little bit Smurfy, and kind of like if Jar Jar Binks and his family lived on the Ewok planet from Return of the Jedi, but they had a permanent rave thing happening where they only use ultraviolet lights and everyone's favourite colour is purple cause it goes so well with blue skin. I kept expecting some guys with fire-sticks to happen. The one effect that did get the audience excited wasn't even in 3D - Sam Worthington's legs all withered and shrunken from being in a wheelchair. It looked so real!

When we came out the expanse of concrete outside the cinema made our world look so boring and flat, where were all the flying monsters and floaty jelly-fish? Why wasn't everything rushing toward me? I had to move to get to it, how annoying.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Topless Man Vs Wild

The general format of each episode of the Discovery Channel's show 'Man Vs Wild', is that ex-army guy Bear Grylls is stranded in some perilous region and has to get back to civilization. He tells survival stories about the particular area, he sometimes has to build an overnight shelter and he usually finds a reason to get his shirt off. This is my favourite part of the show, even when he pisses on that shirt and ties it around his head to keep him cool in the desert.

Bear has been accused of staging some of the scenarios, I don't care, even if the whole thing is staged it's still great. He might contrive the hunting and catching of the local food but he doesn't fake eating it alive. In a mangrove swamp in Panama he eats an angry beetle that bites the inside of his mouth as he eats it. In the Sahara he eats a large camel spider that he describes as being like "an explosion of pus in my mouth". I freak out if I find a bad bit of lettuce.