Halloween II: Solid effort

About two years ago, I trashed Rob Zombie's Halloween remake in prairie dog. The film was almost a frame by frame copy of the original by John Carpenter. This, despite Zombie's efforts to give Michael Myers severe Oedipal issues.

In Halloween II, Zombie finally makes the story it's own. Even though some serious gore makes its way into the film, the movie is beautifully shot, gritty and poetic at the same time. The director ventures in some areas barely touched by similar serial killer flicks, such as the effect in the survivors psyche of the killing spree. Also interesting--the violence the murderous Myers shows against the victims. It sounds obvious, but when you observe the swift slaughters of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger, Myers seems particularly merciless.

Halloween II has problems. Malcolm McDowell's Dr. Loomis is too much of a caricature. For vintage Zombie, rent the excellent and proudly counterculture "The Devil's Rejects." And under no circumstance dismiss White Zombie frontman's as a filmmaker. The guy is a natural.

Oasis Goes "Kerblooey"

Noel Gallagher has left the building. (Guardian)

Was never a big fan of Oasis' over-rated, whiny and pompous "grunge Beatles" sound but I guess some people are and it is for those I offer a sympathetic, "yep, this is a shame" on this, the moment of a world-famous band's possible end.

Would a nice song help? Here, have an Oasis song. (Yootube).

Friday Afternoon Batty!

For Dechene.

(Via Yootube and probably copyright violation)

Quit Picking On Bats

The Leader Post is reporting on a Regina Qu'Appelle Health region warning about bats. Apparently, the Health Region has received a higher than normal number of reports of bats in houses -- three in the last month!

Seriously? Three? Three bats in houses warrants a health warning?

The reason cited for all the hand wringing is the fear of people somehow contracting rabies from this terrifying, trifoil bat plague.

I've always been a little suspicious of this "bats give you rabies" story so I called up Dr Mark Brigham from the University of Regina's biology department. He's an expert on bats. I asked him if we should be worried about catching rabies from bats.

"No," he says. "Absolutely not. Because the likelihood of a bat having rabies is very low. And 99 per cent of the time, if it does [have rabies], it'll crawl into a corner and die."

"The only way to get rabies [from a bat] is to be bitten. And usually, bats get dumb rabies, not aggressive rabies. So they won't go out of their way to bite people."

He says this annual "bats with rabies" scare is all courtesy of the Old Yeller myth, referring to the Disney film in which a young boy has to shoot his beloved dog because it's rabid and aggressive.

"I hate Walt Disney," says Brigham.

He points to the claim in the Health Region warning that bat bites are small enough that you could get one while sleeping and not know it. Brigham says this is impossible. No adult could sleep through a bat bite.

He notes that the only way to get bitten by a bat is to try to pick one up. So, don't do that and you're safe.

Now, let's say you do -- foolishly -- choose to pick up a bat, and it happens to be one of the few to be infected with rabies, and it bites you, you're still not guaranteed to contract the disease.

And even if you do, he notes that one of the best vaccinations against a virus that medical science has to offer is the one to combat rabies. So getting bitten by a rabid bat is no death sentence. You just get five needles over a number of months and you'll be fine.

As to the question of how many people have died from rabid bats, Brigham says, "To the best of my knowledge, in North America over all of recorded time, so a couple hundred years, maybe 20 to 40 at the maximum. And in Canada, you could easily count them on one hand."

The reason there's an uptick in the number of bat sightings this time of year, says Brigham, is because young bats are just learning to fly and tend to wind up places they'd rather not be. Like our houses.

And, I'd like to add, if we're getting more reports of young bats getting into houses, it's probably a good sign because it means there might be more young bats than usual. And bats are awesome. Bats eat mosquitoes! (Now, mosquitoes. There's a creature that's earned some hate.)

[UPDATE: Double checked the "bats eat mosquitoes" thing with Mark Brigham... Apparently wikipedia lied. (How about that.) Bats in Saskatchewan don't usually eat mosquitoes because they're are too small (mosquitoes are, I mean) and they don't fly around so much. Bats usually eat beetles, moths, midges and caddis flies, etc. And, well, those are all -- moths especially -- pretty disgusting. So I stand by my "bats are awesome" statement.]

So, in short: It's the time year when bats are about. But bats are good and there's no reason to be afraid of them.

Lies My Prime Minister Told me

Harper didn't say he wanted Senate reform (Warren Kinsella), he said he wanted a Reform Senate. (CBC).