Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Amityville: Hoax or Haunted House?

For the low and reasonable price of $1.5 million you could be the next  blissful owner of 112 Ocean Ave.  The Amityville house located on a peaceful side street in New York is for sale.  It's true, the famous site of the Defoe murders is on the market.  I'm a paranormal enthusiast, but even I wouldn't dare take up residence.

Shortly after the murder in 1974, the Lutz family moved into the home.  Their nightmare lasted a grueling 28 days.  During this time the Lutzes reported experiencing terrifying and increasing paranormal activity.  The family fled and the bank foreclosed.  Since then, other families have moved into the home and none have made claims of being 'haunted,' or unusual occurrences.  The current occupants say the house has always been peaceful despite the horrible tragedy that took place on that fateful day.

Since the Lutzes are the only persons able to provide personal paranormal experiences with the house, it's natural to be skeptical.  There are a number of theories as to why a haunting begins, goes dormant and becomes active.  However, the difficultly seems to be in actually proving these paranormal theories with valid evidence.

Coincidentally, I am working on a new horror project and part of my task is to determine what makes a scene, place, person and object frightening.  Two key things come to mind:  the unimaginable and the unseen. First, it is essential to create a situation that is morally challenging, tragic, fearful or painful to imagine.  Secondly, to hinder one or more of the human defenses we naturally use to survive.  In otherwords, cripple a sense whether it be sight, hearing, smell, touch ect.  It takes very little to disorient and when it happens, what follows is loss of control.

For me, it does not matter whether the Amityville claim is a hoax.  The fact that there is the slightest chance it might be true is terrifying enough.  Why?  Because how can a person fight what they can't see coming?  Some might say, 'Faith,' and perhaps this is true, but how scary is faith?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Miss USA: Exploitation of Another Kind?

I'm from Michigan.  Some might argue I'm a tad bias when it comes to news headlines featuring my birth state.  There is some truth to that statement, but it is not the sole purpose for blogging about this particular topic.  While fans of the mid-western state might be jumping up and down yelling, 'we won, we won!'  I cannot help but question the reasons why.  I certainly do not intend to discredit Rima Fakih's beauty or competitive qualifications, but the critical part of my writer brain wonders if this crowning wasn't motivated by something more sinister.  The historian in me contemplates if this 'queen' was pushed forth for some other, less publicized advantage.  With a set of sparkling diamonds set upon her head, Rima Fakih has been deemed the face of Arab-American women.  Today, CNN even flashed a picture of a middle-eastern woman draped in a black burka before panning to a stunning media centerfold of Rima sporting a tiny bikini, crown and sash. This is suppose to change our 'image' of middle-eastern stereotypes?  The press is quick to include Rima is Muslim and of Lebanese descent and that she watched pageants with her father (not mother) while growing up.  This appears to be the main focus of her crown, where as her education, social causes and work is a side-note.
"This is the real face of Arab Americans, not the stereotypes you hear about," said Zouheir Alawieh, 51, of Dearborn. "We have culture. We have beauty. We have history, and today we made history. ... She believed in her dreams."
Selling the 'American Dream,' is the most over used cliche in journalism.  This idea of making history based on race and culture has an all too familiar ring.  I'm not suggesting this is lame ideal by any means, but I do pause to question the motives and propaganda and wonder if this is indeed 'fair' or merely opportunistic.  This smells wickedly of exploitation motivated and hidden behind a gigantic snowball.

In the wake of war, economic depression (hitting Michigan the hardest), recent terrorism, oil spilling, discrimination, stereotypes, religion and cultural misunderstandings, I ponder the impact this decision will truly have.  Will Rima change the face of American women and break down barriers, inspire tolerance, economic growth, or will those in the middle-east see the bikini clad Muslin woman parading around a stage as just another corruption created by the evil super power, the USA?

The crowning of Rima is deemed to change America's perspective and judgement of Muslin Arab-Americans, but will she change how the middle east views our country?  Who gains politically and culturally from this 'historic' event?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why Not Try A Giant Cork?

Like many people, I've been watching the news this week.  Yes, the anchors from CNN are moving their lips and words are coming out.  I'm being dazzled with suspected terrorists shopping for fireworks, riots in Greece and the stunning plummet of the Dow in response to the crisis, but the most disturbing is the side-line oil spill gushing in the Gulf.   While I watch a group of guys weld a giant containment box, oil continues to leak and weather threatens the area.  I say, 'flip the off switch!'  So what if by doing so makes the well useless in the future.  Even more disturbing is the revelation that the 'box' has never been tested or proven successful in these depths.  Another concern briefly mentioned is that the ocean floor isn't a perfectly level surface so will this square box work?, if this bombs, how many more gallons of oil and time will be 'reasonably allowed,' to be wasted while they  come up with another crack idea?  I keep asking myself, "Why are not more people outraged at the delays?"

It was also very kind of Obama to announce that BP will graciously employ people from the fishing industry to help clean up.  Since their product (BP) destroyed the  livlihood (for who knows how long) the company will in return, let you clean up the mess.
"The Pentagon is reviewing what resources it could offer in the cleanup, but no decision has been reached.  We have come to no conclusions yet to what those [resources] might be and whether they would be of much assistance to the effort down there," Morrell said.
In addition, those affected will have the opportunity to work along side prisoners on work release passes.  It's a win-win right?  It's as if the White House along with BP is saying, 'So what if this is not your chosen career or skilled position.  Who cares if you have no training or knowledge, you should be thankful to have a job and income.  Of course, not the good paying jobs, because let's face it, you have no idea what you're doing, but here is a bucket and some peat moss, now get going.'

Okay, so this horrid, mismanaged disaster occurred.  Now what?  How does one go about cleaning up an oil spill?  Here are some of the ideas being offered.  Brace yourself, these are not a joke.

Hair And Mushrooms
The spongy hair mats, apparently, feel like an S.O.S pad and are about the size of a doormat. Once the mats are soaked with the oily black gunk, oyster mushrooms will be placed on the mats and will grow and absorb the oil. The mushrooms will take approximately 12 weeks to absorb all of the oil, converting the oily hair mats into nontoxic compost.

Oilsicles   One business plans to demonstrate a product that shoots a carbon dioxide solution from guns to freeze parts of the slick, which could then be scooped up and refined.
Hyper-Absorbant Peat Moss
tiny Norwegian company has developed a super absorbent organic peat moss that is capable of cleaning up oil floating on water. The peat is scattered on the spill and absorbs the oil, and, because it doesn’t absorb water, it can then simply be scooped out — taking the toxic oil with it.

Crews have begun setting fire to oil leaking from the site of an exploded drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It's a last-ditch effort to get rid of it before it reaches environmentally sensitive marshlands on the coast.

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