Where was the Lord of the stampede?

This comes under the banner of the truly ironic. I read in the Sydney Morning Herald today that more than 140 people have been trampled to death in a stampede in Jodhpur in western India. The people were Hindus on a pilgrimage to the 15th-century Chamunda Devi temple. There was a long, narrow passage that became a death trap when the people were gripped by some kind of panic.

Now, you’d think that this would be the ideal opportunity for a bit of divine intervention, no? Or, if a god or gods were being honoured by the pilgrimage of thousands of faithful, you would think that said gods wouldn’t let something like this happen in the first place. Shouldn’t the people be gripped by a holy calm rather than a panic?

A senior state government official, Kiran Soni Gupta, said, “We have lost over 140 lives due to suffocation. This was a chance accident.”

And indeed it was, in one of those moments that are actually not that uncommon. This particular deadly stampede was the fourth in India this year. The annual Haj to Mecca has a body count that Arnie and Sly Stallone could never hope to top in their most brutal movies combined:

From wikipedia:

# On July 2, 1990, a stampede inside a pedestrian tunnel (Al-Ma’aisim tunnel) leading out from Mecca towards Mina and the Plains of Arafat led to the deaths of 1,426 pilgrims.
# On May 23, 1994, a stampede killed at least 270 pilgrims at the stoning of the Devil ritual.
# On April 9, 1998, at least 118 pilgrims were trampled to death and 180 injured in an incident on Jamarat Bridge.
# On March 5, 2001, 35 pilgrims were trampled to death in a stampede during the stoning of the Devil ritual.
# On February 11, 2003, the stoning of the Devil ritual claimed 14 pilgrims’ lives.
# On February 1, 2004, 251 pilgrims were killed and another 244 injured in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina.

Of course, hundreds, even thousands of deaths at a specifically religious event are considered a terrible accident; pure chance. One grilled cheese sandwich with the hazy image of a Messiah on it is a Divine Miracle. Let’s all look up Pareidolia for our homework.

In a slightly similar vein, I was greatly entertained today by Michael Fridman’s post at A Nadder!, where he equates books of the Bible with their very modern counterparts. Why are some mythologies still causing deaths by the thousand while others are considered nothing more than fairy stories? After all, a religion is nothing more than a myth that some people still believe to be the truth.


A ‘Verse Full of Scum – Episode 34 – Finished

The final episode of VFoS is up on the Serial Novella page now.

It all started back on February 24th and now it’s over – thirty four (almost) weekly episodes. Today sees a bumper double episode as I’ve posted the short Epilogue and Episode 34 together. What will I post on Mondays now? I’ll have to start writing more blog posts to keep you all interested.

I do hope to write more stuff to serialise here on The Word in the future, but right now I’m working very hard on getting my second novel out. The sequel to RealmShift, it should be available sometime during October if all goes well. I know I’ve promised it on a number of occasions, but this independent publishing game is harder to control than I originally thought! But I’m getting on top of everything now, so keep an eye on the blog here for news over the next few weeks.

Also, don’t be shy to drop comments on this post and let me know what you thought of A ‘Verse Full of Scum, or anything else you’ve read here for that matter. Or you can always send me an email, the address is in the yellow box at the top of the page.


I Am Legend prequel from Will Smith

Apparently Will Smith and others are dreaming up a prequel to the awful movie version of I Am Legend.

The 1954 book by Richard Matheson is one of my all-time favourites. It’s a great mix of horror and sci-fi in the old school style and it’s a truly great story. The reason for the title of I Am Legend is inspired. Will Smith’s movie version crapped all over that.

The movie wasn’t that bad to begin with, a reasonably updated version of Matheson’s book, but the last third of the film or so became a horrible steaming pile of American god-loving bollocks, completely desecrating the original point of the story. And the CG vampires were bloody terrible. As you can tell, I wasn’t very impressed with it.

And now Smith wants to make a prequel? Even after the flashbacks in the first film that told us the story of what happened? Even if we know that basically everyone will die and vamp out and Dr Richard Neville (Smith) will be left alone in the world, supposedly. Even though we know that the story ends atrociously because Smith et al couldn’t bring themselves to stick to Matheson’s story and make a truly great film?

Way to go, Will – you’re about to make one of the worst movie adaptations ever even worse.


The Evil Dead – Ultimate Edition

I remember first seeing The Evil Dead so many years ago and thinking it was awesome. I recently came across a DVD for sale that touted itself as the Ultimate Edition. It has two discs, with loads of extras and all sorts of goodies.

I haven’t got around to checking out all the extras yet, but I did sit and watch the movie again yesterday. Man, what a great film. This is something that is a true cult classic; it’s even spawned a musical. The effects are pretty ordinary, but it was made in 1981. The story might seem cliched watching it now, but at the time it wasn’t.

Written and directed by Sam Raimi, it’s a fantastic effort for a first movie. It propelled Bruce Campbell to absolute stardom and spawned sequels every bit as good as the first. Interestingly, the sequels are more camp and funny than the original. It struck me while I was watching it that it’s actually a pretty scary movie. The comedy, which is very evident in the sequels, isn’t so obvious here. There are some really toe curling gore moments (such as the pencil in the ankle – not just stabbed, but really ground around in there) and some truly spooky moments with good jumps. And, as fas as I know, the only tree rape ever committed to film (which was banned in some places).

The whole thing centres around the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead. Originally this concept surfaced in H P Lovecraft stories, supposedly written by the “Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred, and was subsequently referenced in other fiction. Lovecraft greatly approved of this development of his ideas, calling it “a background of evil verisimilitude.” In one of those fantastic examples of fiction becoming “fact”, there are people out there now that consider that there really is something called the Necronomicon, with many booksellers being asked if they stock it or can order it. Do some web searching and you’ll come across some really entertaining stuff.

The Necronomicon (one version of it anyway). Supposedly written in human blood and bound in human flesh.

And check out the imdb trivia page about the movie here. Some really funny stuff on there. If you’re a fan of this genre, check out the movie again. The claymation effects and dodgy make-up are dated, but it’s still an absolute classic.


William Shatner – what a legend

I can’t help but love William Shatner. This is the man that brought us Captain James T Kirk, T J Hooker and Denny Crane, not to mention numerous sci-fi novels. What a brilliant CV – and that’s only a small part of it. However, it will always be Captain Kirk that Shatner is most famous for.

Apropos Captain Kirk, we now have the dubious situation of yet another movie franchise reboot, with J J Abrams remaking Star Trek. This will be the eleventh Star Trek movie, but it’s not a continuation from number ten. It’s a reworking of the original concept. According to imdb.com:

Paramount synopsis: From director J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Lost” and “Alias”) and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (“TRANSFORMERS,” “MI: III”) comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, “Star Trek,” featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before.

Explores the early Starfleet careers of future Enterprise officers Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), McCoy (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekhov (Anton Yelchin). A Romulan, Nero (Eric Bana), and a much older Spock (Leonard Nimoy) are influences, as well as Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), the first captain of the USS Enterprise.

So I’m not sure how exactly they plan to fit it together with it supposedly following the early years of the most famous Starfleet crew, yet featuring “a much older Spock”. Regardless, Leonard Nimoy gets to reprise the one thing that people really remember him for and he must be very pleased. (And, on a slight tangent, Simon Pegg as Scotty makes the nerd in me do a very gawky dance of joy).

However, notice anything missing? Spock gets a reprise, yet no mention of Bill Shatner. No future flash forward? No cheeky cameo to titillate the Trekkies as a surprise somewhere in the movie? Well, frankly, no. And Mr Shatner himself has even addressed a little video letter directly to J J Abrams to let him know what he thinks of that:

And you know what amuses me most about this whole thing? J J Abrams obviously wanted nothing to do with Shatner yet tries to sound all noble and apologetic, pretending to have the utmost repect for the original Kirk. And the original Kirk himself is all sweetness and light, talking about what a great writer/director Abrams is, yet is obviously deeply pissed that he didn’t get offered a part. Will these two crazy kids kiss and make up if there’s ever an Abrams headed Star Trek XII? We’ll have to wait and see.

(Hat tip to SF Signal for finding the video).