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1984: The rat in the face forever
Appellate Judge James A. Stewart -- June 22nd, 2013 2:31AM

I've been reading about the recent interest in 1984.

The thing I took most from the novel was the "rat-in-the-face moment," that moment of absolute terror or absolute desire for freedom from the captors. In the novel, Winston Smith was confronted with his greatest fear -- a rat -- about to dine on his face, and was willing to betray even his beloved Julia.

I'd suspect that feeling comes a lot in Winston Smith's world, even without the actual rat in the actual face. Freedom is absolutely that important and -- let's face it -- a world where every move is monitored and even trivial thoughts could be punished at someone's caprice would be intolerable to any of my readers, I'm sure. People who faced that kind of monitoring -- something that's even impossible in an actual prison today, apparently -- would face the daily rat in the face of health fears, since they'd realize that the stress could be affecting their hearts and giving them stomach problems (the bits of actual information that filtered through would only be making matters worse, of course).

If someone tried that kind of imprisonment -- keeping watch on someone totally, even in a seemingly open environment -- would anyone care? Would they join in, believing it justified (remember, only the captors would be able to speak for the prisoner) or even -- cruel as it sounds -- believing it funny? It's true we have a lot of communication streams today, but all can be monitored more easily than that simple rotary phone could have years ago. Just being able to watch someone's email and Mapquest searches could leave that person an utter prisoner.

I'd expect that prisoner to be frantic, always nervous, desperate for a moment of freedom from monitoring, just to calm their nerves, not even to think toward a free, better future. That person would be desperate to communicate any thought or feeling, knowing their words and thoughts would otherwise always be filtered through their captors.

I'd hope that person could not be kept prisoner forever, since a simple act of kindness could free them, at least in this society. Who knows? So could a simple act of defiance, such as a blog post.

I suppose a person who has been made to feel a rat-in-the-face moment or two or ten might turn out stronger, though, if actually granted their freedom.

It's the horror story of thrillers for ages, but in a world where it's possible, we should always be vigilant. After all, if anyone is monitored like that, we all could be.

Judge P.S. Colbert -- February 25th, 2013 10:05PM

I've been reading up on Jenny McCarthy's "defense" of her cousin Melissa McCarthy, regarding Rex Reed's recent, much vilified review of "The Identity Thief." Herein he refers to the actress as "hippo-sized," among other negative things. Here's my open letter to Jenny and everyone else that's jumped on the "Kill Rex Reed" bandwagon:

It's easy to understand your anger, but with all due respect, it stems from a lack of knowledge about Rex Reed, who HAS in fact called out smokers, drug users, fat men and just about anybody else who irritates him onscreen, and he's been doing it for years--In fact, it's made him famous!

Also, though I agree with everything you've said about MM, she's partly to blame here. Her roles in both IDENTITY THIEF and the upcoming film with Sandra Bullock play off her weight, and reinforce the stereotype that because she's obese, she's a knockabout (how many times is she involved in a punch-up?) bull-in-a-China-shop with a foul mouth and a tendency towards grossness. This is a real shame, considering the quality work she did in "Bridesmaids" and on TV in "Mike & Molly."

On one hand, you can blame Hollywood, who refuses to think of big women any other way (you'll find that overweight men are generally cast the same way) and on the other hand, you must place some blame on MM for taking these movie projects instead of holding out for better--She is, after all an Oscar nominee with a hit TV show; it's not like she takes these roles or perishes. Think about it.

Finally, Jenny: you put a point on your scorn by telling Reed to "go to hell," but he can quite easily (and justifiably) hit back with: "Hell is pretty much any movie featuring Jenny McCarthy!" Live by the sword, die by the sword! ;)

Appellate Judge Mac McEntire -- December 18th, 2011 9:39PM

Here's what I posted on Twitter as I made my way through the madness known as TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON:

* OK, Michael Bay, try to impress me.

* I love that Hasbro is the first name in the credits. That tells you just what kind of movie this is going to be.

* We get a glimpse of Cybertron and... it looks like Zion from the Matrix sequels. Shaking my head.

* Alterna-NASA sci-fi stories have never excited me. Real NASA is already cool enough.

* Hot girlfriend, hangs out at the White House... Sam isn't exactly the "guy next door" anymore, is he?

* Great, more Michael Bay "comedy." Just because you can have wacky sidekicks doesn't mean you should.

* This was originally released in 3-D, right? That's why a lot of these scenes are all grey and colorless?

* Shockwave was the first Transformer I ever owned. That thing with the tentacles is NOT Shockwave.

* It's a BURN AFTER READING reunion.

* Too... many... silly... accents...

* Subplot about Sam, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend's boss seems pointless. It better be going somewhere.

* On the positive side, Megatron's finally showing a little bit of personality for once in these movies.

* Michael Bay, even with Ken Jeong in your movie, you still can't do comedy. Just STOP.

* The movie is spinning its wheels, so to speak. A lot of talk, exposition, forced conflict, forced comedy. I'm bored.

* Suddenly, it's a gangster flick. Why aren't the transformers in this Transformers movie?

* It's Spider-Man's landlord!

* Robot fightin'! But the robots all look alike, so I can't tell which is which. I should be pumped, but I'm confused.

* What? Optimus just stands there and lets the villain walk away? And now we're at a fancy dinner party? Ugh.

* What should be a suspenseful twist is instead an excuse for Sam to do slapstick shtick. Ugh again.

* Didn't the second movie also do the "Oh, no, Optimus is dead for real" fake-out? Why do it again?

* What's with all the cuts to a black screen, and then back to the action? It's like they're still editing the trailer.

* Suddenly I'm watching BATTLE: L.A. Why can't this movie make up its mind what it wants to be?

* The Decepticons don't have phones? They communicate only by yelling at each other?

* "Boomsticks?" Seriously? Now I'm wishing I was watching ARMY OF DARKNESS instead.

* Now someone just yelled, "Shoot the glass," and suddenly I wish I was watching DIE HARD.

* "The needs of the many..." OK, that one HAD to be on purpose.

* Nothing says "Hollywood blockbuster" like the single-tear-falls-down-the-hero's-face shot.

* Sam has parkour moves now? Since when?

* "You'll have to go through me." That's it, keep the action cliches coming, movie.

* The final confrontation started with, "Holy crap!" but quickly sank back down to "Oh, brother."

* Movie's over and... it's almost 2 a.m.? I have to go to work tomorrow.

Judge P.S. Colbert -- October 3rd, 2011 9:38PM

Just wanted to make public my extreme pleasure at being invited to contribute to DVD VERDICT, and share chambers with such esteemed colleagues...

Empire of Orgasm Inc.
Judge Josh Rode -- July 14th, 2011 10:41AM

I don't know how or why, but Empire of Assassins continues to be something a lot of people want to check out, at least until they read my review (I hope). It has been the top read review on the Verdict site for the past three days (although 39 Assassins is going to pass it very soon). My theory is that my review is the only one in existence right now so anyone interested in reading about it has nowhere else to go.

In the meantime, both the Max Manus and Orgasm Inc. reviews popped this past week. They were both a bit disappointing, but for different reasons. Max is about a saboteur but spends all his time moping instead of saboteuring. And there was nothing at all orgasmic about Orgasm Inc..

Just to clear any confusion about the latter, though, I didn't necessarily disagree with the conclusions drawn by Liz. I agree that a lot of what is considered to be "dysfunctions" in modern-day America aren't really medical conditions, and that isn't limited to sexual dysfunction. I think, for instance, that ADD and ADHD are way over diagnosed because parents just don't want to deal with excitable children. That being said, there's no question that some men have sexual dysfunctions, so it stands to reason that some women would as well.

Also, the end of Orgasm Inc. wants the viewer to be outraged because the patch that got shot down by the FDA got approved in Europe. However, the reason it didn't make it in the US was because it needed to be taken with Estrogen, which added all of Estrogen's problems to its problems. It got approved in Europe only in patients who were already on Estrogen, so that entire part of the argument was effectively removed from the equation and I see no problems with it being approved on that basis.

Just sayin'.

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