Batfleck!

Earlier in the week, Zak Snyder revealed the first image of Ben Affleck as Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, stood in front of the new Batmobile.

batmobile

I really like the new look. It’s exactly what I hoped for when he was cast; a brooding middle age Bruce Wayne with a lot on his mind. The new logo on his chest has yet to warm on me, but this is a minor detail. The silhouette is exactly right and the mask couldn’t fit better. The new batmobile looks great. I especially like Wonder Woman’s jet in the back fo the shot.

One of the consequences of this has been the sad batman meme. The internet has gone wild over taking this image out of context and the results are hilarious! I’ve included a few of the best below, enjoy!

batflume

batbarbie

batcoffee

whatsupbatman

batswing

 

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Mrs Noah and sons

Another thing that makes me ponder about Noah is what his wife did.

I can imagine things were a bit awkward in bed that night.

“I need to build a massive ark”
“Why dear?”
“God told me too. He said all men are wicked, but because I have found favour, he will save me and my family. I just have to build this boat and we won’t be destroyed by the deluge.”
“What’s a deluge?”
“Not sure exactly, but it can kill, so I don’t want to find out.”
“How are you going to pay for this ark? You promised that I could have some new sandals.”

And so on. I highly doubt she accepted it as a command straight away.

I imagine though, that there was a point where she realised her husband wasn’t going to give up. Did she at this point decide to support her husband and decide to leave her questions unanswered or did she remain critical and seek out other options? The Bible doesn’t say either way, but because we know the ending, we really want her to have had faith alongside Noah.

I don’t imagine Noah’s wife to have been a very good carpenter. She probably thought there was nothing she could ever do to help at one stage, but I doubt she stopped there. She kept looking at what was going and upon seeing what she had in her hands, she pitched in. She could have made food and drink for the workers, or kept records, or helped with making the pitch. I don’t know what her skills were, but I’m pretty sure that there were jobs she could do.

In a large venture of faith, there is a lot that needs to be done. Some tasks are visible, others are more behind the scenes, but all are worth doing. Noah was probably leading the ark building, but I imagine the whole family were involved. His sons would be aware what was going on, and I imagine that if nothing else, they prayed for success.

I hope people won’t look at my lifestory and wish I’d had faith in the crazy ideas I rejected. I’d much rather be seen as someone who tried lots and was willing to give it a go. I want to be someone who did things, not just saw them. I don’t care what it is I do, that’s not the point. I just want to be involved in something spectacular, that’s much bigger than me.

A faith commandment

I think most christians have a favourite part of the Bible, for no logical reason, but for the simple fact that’s what clicks with you. For me it’s the book of Genesis. I love the stories of familes so different to our own, tales of pioneers who were the first to do everything. I like the narrative of the book, and particularly Noah.

I was re-reading the story again and (as often happens) I picked up on something new.

I’ve never realised how difficult it must have been to build an ark. In Chapter 6, verses 14-16 show all the structural details God gave to Noah and I guess I never really questioned how he worked with just this. For me, a guy brought up in a christian home having seen countless pictures of practically identical arks, I’ve never had to imagine what an ark looks like. Working from that image, I might in time be able to come up with something like a blueprint, but getting the ark from those instructions, not likely.

It had never clicked that although the instructions are specific, they are not complete. God hasn’t laid down exactly how He wants it to be, but He gives Noah some freedom. The size has to be sufficient for the need and only certain materials will do, but otherwise God gives Noah creative control.  There is no indication as to whether Noah had any carpentry experience, but he was almost certainly not a ship-maker. I imagine it was a big case of trial and error.

Despite all this, Noah still chose to do what God said. That choice was not a simple thought, but an active lifestyle change. He had to seek out new skills, scour the earth for animals and keep them alive, all to no specific deadline.

If that were me, I imagine my first reaction would be to pray for a clear plan. “God”, I’d say, “please show me what to do, so that I may glorify you.” I wonder if Noah did that for a bit too? I doubt he got an answer. That would probably have led to me going back to my normal life. I would have gone, “If you want me to do this, give me a clear sign of what it is.”

I don’t believe that Noah waited for that. It says in verse 22, “And Noah did everything that God had commanded him.”

This tells me two things. One, that Noah (or at least the author of Genesis, but by implication, Noah too) took these words as a command. It was a non-negotiable order, not just a suggestion that was in our best interest. It was not a picture of the sort of thing that he should do, but a direct instruction. That affected his whole attitude and gives an indication of how he reacted. A command implies that he didn’t just put it on his to do list, but it was his to-do list. A soldier is never issued 2 commands to do at once. They are given a sequence of events, to be followed straight away.

The second thing is that he did it. The story makes it clear that he built an ark, but this proves that he managed it. That means that if we get an equally obscure word, why should we dismiss it? If we haven’t got the skills required, we can always learn them.

It was 100 years after the command was received when the flood came. That is a long time to be doing something so unconventional without any proof he wasn’t wasting his time. That said, imagining the consequences of refusing is even more terrifying.

Preventing paedophiles

I read an article in the news a while back about the former lead singer of Welsh band Lostprophets being found guilty of committing various sex offences against children.

The story stunned me, as I’m sure it has others who’ve read it. Not because the guy was a celebrity, but because I felt sympathy for the guy.

I am not a paedophile, nor have I ever been. At some point in his life, that was true for Ian Watkins too. What happened to change him I don’t know. I doubt it was a sudden thing, that on one day he woke up and had sexual impulses related to children. I imagine it to have been a gradual slope down into addiction. The drink and the drugs were probably similar in that regard, like a thickening wedge.

I feel sorry for him because I believe he felt powerless to stop it. I feel sorry that he went through whatever trauma he did. I feel sorry that his fame has now been traded for infamy. I feel sorry that he will have to face people who will never forgive him. I feel sorry that he had nowhere to go for help.

Right now I feel a little powerless too. Child sex offences are in the news a lot these days, but the only solution I hear offered is a harsh punishment. We should be doing something to identify the problem at the root, before anyone gets hurt.

I know of online petitions written asking that rape be talked about in school. I think they should also talk about pedophilia. Many guys will experience sexual urges they cannot explain, why don’t schools teach people how to manage these? I admit that’s hard, but at least acknowledging that some people will have mixed up urges due to issues in their past would be useful.

Sex education for me consisted of saying what each gender has and that the men should wear a condom. In a school with a number of teenage pregnancies, I can understand why there was an unspoken assumption that people would have sex. They knew their pupils had urges to do it and that any child will break the rules to test them.

The children in school today have access to porn on their phones and are sexting. Their childhood is being swapped for sexual discoveries. When I was growing it was clear that “the conversation” had to happen about when puberty hit. Nowadays that may be too late, as some children as young as five are being excluded for sexual misconduct (source: Independent).

The big question is what can we do? The answer is whatever we can. Use what’s available to you, whether that being talking to your kids, writing to your MPs or setting up better parental controls at home. If we take responsibility for this rather than passing the buck, it will improve.

Blogging versus real life

I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to post one blog post a week, every Wednesday. Last week, I failed to meet this objective and the previous week it was late.

The curious thing is that I’m not bothered about this. I had an idea which I could have written about (India still needs aid even though it can afford a mission to Mars. Suggesting otherwise is to say all Indian charity work is pointless and everybody there does not deserve our help, simply because the government are spending money on rockets) but life got in the way.

For some people writing is their life. They have to do it else they explode and find it hard to contain themselves. That is not me.

I have to think and process new ideas. This is one of the ways that I process them but there are others. This week I have not slept well and spent many nights tossing and turning, thinking over the busy week. My imagination has been very active, but writing it down and sharing my internal monologues has not been necessary. I’ve had a few deep conversations with close friends and spent the weekend discussing this and that with my girlfriend.

Blogging is important to me though, mainly because I want to share what I think. I don’t believe I’m always right, but I do stand by the fact that I have something new to offer. If you’ve followed me for a while, I imagine you think so too.

I want to keep this up and as previously posted, become better at putting my ponderings to paper, or print at least. I’m therefore going to loosen up on the day of submission, but aim for once a week. I hope to post again before Sunday, but if not, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Life goes on.

“Not bad”

Not bad is the only double negative I can think of that is acceptable in the English language. Despite the grammatical problems, this is a very useful phrase, particularly when being asked “How are you?”

I find this an incredibly bizarre phrase. It is simultaneously the most personal, intimate question and the most banal and bog standard one. How you are is a very complex question and covers all parts of a person’s life. It’s usage as an introductory statement is baffling. You may as well just say “Tell me everything”.

From now on, can we just agree to say what we mean? If you want to know everything and will listen, rather than interjecting with your own stories and anecdotes, please continue as you are. But otherwise, if you just want to hear me say I’m alright so you can continue to tell me what you did this week, then please just say something that makes this clear. How about “What’ve you been up to”, as this avoids anything about my feelings.

If you continue to use unclear sentences, then I will respond with an equally ambiguous answer and use poor grammar to boot.

Superheroes 2014

With Thor: the Dark World now out in cinemas,  there are now no more superhero films left to be released this year. It is therefore time to look forward to 2014.

There are four major releases to consider, but only two of these have released any footage.

First up, due out in April, is Captain America The Winter Soldier.

Cap is definitely my favourite of the Avengers, and this seems like it will test his moral courage (a term I heard on a recent training course and have become fond of). I’m slightly worried that the rest of film will be a bit by the numbers and that the Marvel formula is becoming tired. The scene with Black Widow is all too similar to the one between Tony and Pepper in the Iron Man 2 teaser, though this was later cut.

In August, their reputation could be saved by the bonkers Guardians of the Galaxy. This is Marvel’s riskiest film to date and the one I am most excited about. One of it’s main character is a gun-toting raccoon while another is a tree voiced by Vin Diesel. The footage shown at Comic Con was very humorous and I think this has potential to be as fun a ride as the original Iron Man.

Guardians of the Galaxy concept art

Before that the seventh film in the X-men series is due out in May.

This I’m also very excited about, as X-men is one of my favourite franchises. Sure there have been duds (Wolverine, I’m looking at you) but this film intends to unite them all. This is why the original director, Bryan Singer, is back and has promised to address some of the things in the films following his departure. You can see in the video that Wolverine has his bone claws as introduced in Wolverine origins, something I think will rile the purists.

The trailer however is frustrating. it has the makings of an awesome teaser with some well chosen dialogue which makes me eager to see these guys in action. The polish is missing though; I felt the music change and Wolverine’s scream were particularly clunky. I am hoping this is a symptom of the trailer being rushed out for excited fans and not due to studio pressure.

Also out in May is the Amazing Spider-man 2. A trailer is due to come out in front of the Hobbit Desolation of Smaug, so it will be a while yet before we see Spidey in action. There have been plenty of stills released though, including some showing Jamie Fox’s original take on Electro.
First Look: Electro in Amazing Spider-man 2
He’s not the only villain though, as Rhino and Norman Osborne are also to be introduced.  Whether this ends up going a bit Spider-man 3 remains to be seen, but I’m going to reserve judgement until I see it.

DC are only noticeable by their absence. Though with Batman Vs Superman (current working title) coming in 2015, I imagine that will dominate the year.