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If you should find offenses to the English language in any of my articles please leave a comment and let me know so that I can obliterate it forever! Thanks!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part One

(This is a little note for my recent traffic from fellow trademe users... Please view this series as a humorous approach to how I have achieved my own personal goal of turning $100 into more. It's not meant to be a get rich quick scam and it was never my intention to imply a method of tax avoidance, I do not talk about tax in this series simply because I have not crossed that bridge yet and NOT because I have no intention to, any one who would suggest as much has made a gross and unfounded assumption and judgment of my character... Otherwise, please enjoy my little adventure...)

I just made a hundred bucks and I’m still excited about it. I’m still trying to remember the phone number of that pretty Ewok I met in the tree party I had in my make-believe reenactment of the best party scene of any 80’s movie ever – The Return of the Jedi. I’m also wondering about the morality of Droid – Ewok relationships, so perhaps losing her phone number was for the best?

In any case, I still have my Hundred Bucks. Actually, to be precise I have $112.46 with which to put to good use… the only question is how am I going to define, “Good Use”?

I earned my Hundred Plus by buying books for coins from Op Shops and selling them for dollars on an online trading site known as Trademe here in the toe nail of Terra Firma, New Zealand.

I elucidated the Internet Community with my progress in a blog series called Pimp My Twenty Bucks, partly to motivate myself to keep going and partly because I had nothing better to do.

Originally I just wanted to prove that it could be done. That an economic nincompoop like me could take $20, apply it to something he loves (books + the internet) and multiply the money until it was big enough to do something worthwhile with, like buy a pair of shoes, go on a small road trip or even neuter my cat.

However as the goal drew slowly near, like a tortoise on very mild steroids, I began to realize that the principles I had learned through this experience could and should take up permanent employment in my day to day experience. Why quit at a hundred dollars when I could keep going to, well, who knows how much?

Which brings us to this paragraph, the one in which I state the purpose of this new series. Here goes:

I am going to take this humble $112 and renovate it to a fantastic $500 and blog about it on the way so that a) I won’t lose my motivation and b) because I have nothing better to do and c) the real reason - I really want other people to see how easy it is.

Just to spoil the moment with a stamp of disclamation - This is not really a How To or Step by Step Guide to how you can Pimp your money, afterall I’m just an ordinary-middle-class-blue-collar-scifi-loving-underachiever like most of you (no offense). But as you read, think of this series as a sort of How to Learn From My Experience and from My Mistakes exposé, so that when you put your hand to making your own money grow you can at least benefit from my having gone there before you.

So here is how I am going to put my $112 to work…

My first intention is to give away ten percent of it. Yes, I know it sounds like a stupid thing to do, and some of you may be forgiven for thinking that I am “tithing” like a prosperity preaching Pentecostal, but allow me to reveal the wisdom behind this novel decision.

I believe, like the psalmist said, that God loves those who love the poor. When the Rich dude came to Jesus and said, “What must I do to get saved?” Jesus said to him, “Go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and then come follow me.” He did NOT say, “Go, sell your possessions and give the money to me.” At the end of the day, money is only worth the happiness you can buy for someone else. So I’m going to take $11.25 and give it to someone who needs it.

At least that’s what I believe.

My second intention is to pay ten percent to myself.

While I was still writing the last series I began thinking about the story of the goose that laid the golden egg. You see, there was this goose, well, not really but in imaginary land there was, and he could lay golden eggs. The fact that he was a male goose seems to have escaped everyone’s notice. Ok, so it’s been a long time since I heard the story, but let’s get to the point...

Every day this goose would lay a golden egg for its owners who at first were very happy with this new development because they had previously been poor peasants and were now trying to convince their bank manager that golden eggs were legal tender. But eventually the peasants became greedy and didn’t want to wait each day for the next egg to come, so they took an axe and cut the goose in half so as to get at the eggs… but when they looked inside the goose, the goose was empty…

On the surface it is a very sad story about greed and animal cruelty but applied to my own enterprise I began to think of my Hundred Dollars as my own goose that lays golden eggs. You see, like the peasant couple who literally, and figuratively, cooked their goose, I could have taken that Hundred Dollar’s and blew it and then I’d be back where I started, with nothing. Or I could take ten percent for myself as a sort of reward for my hard work and a reminder that when I reach my goal of $500 I will have a fatter goose that can lay a $50 egg!

So, I’ve taken another $11.25 and tucked it away in a safe place for a rainy day.

My third intention is to stick with books.

It worked with my $20 so I can’t see any reason why it won’t work again. For the time being at least; there are logistical reasons why continuing with books might cause me problems down the track, like storage and Trademe fees, but we’ll discuss those another time.

So unlike last time, where I credited my Trademe account with a mere $10, this time I have credited my Trademe account with $29.90 to cover the listing fees I am about to accrue, because this time I won’t be starting with a measly 16 books… oh no… this time we are going to town…

As fate, good luck, or perhaps divine intervention would have it, the end of my last series coincided exactly with a local school gala! In case the significance of this is lost on you, School Gala’s, in NZ at least, are the gold mine of second hand books!

So there I was, like a sardine, canned alive in room 31 of Owiroa Primary School amongst other bargain lovers, a heard of epileptic hippopotami madly sorting through mountainous piles of books. Even the air we breathed was dangerous, as trapped in between a table of paperbacks and the bargain crazed human hoard someone discretely let out a current of murderous gas from their jeans, the kind that makes your nostrils coil up like lemon juiced lips. Never the less, I took a deep breath and faced possible brain damage until the poisonous gas had been filtered through the lungs of at least twenty other customers before leaving the building. I will be waking up in a cold sweat for nights to come as my dreams try to process the trauma with visions of my nose being eaten by sentient flatulence

But it was worth the psychological ruin, because I remembered something from going to the same fair last year – at a certain time of day, desperate to get rid of the multitude of books left over, the gala mums began selling a bag of books for $2. Something I was keen to take advantage of again this year!

The result – approximately 62 books for $30! (For you clever folk about 11 of those titles cost me $22 while the books were still "full" price, the remaining 51 or so came to about $8... See the comments below for why I thought this was important to mention).

All up I’ve budgeted $40 to spend on new stock, so I expect that number to grow before the end of this week.

Unlike last time, there will be quite a bit of work involved with listing these books, along with the 46 other titles left over from Pimp My Twenty Bucks!

For my fourth intention, I have put aside a small amount, $20, for investing, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but have “never had the money” lying around to put toward anything.

To my knowledge, which is limited, there aren’t many things I can invest $20 in. So I’ve gone for something safe and easy and, well, lazy. Bonus Bonds, which are a unique investment product which I will try to explain in only a few sentences so as not to bore you to your afterlife…

To quote their Brochure, “Bonus Bonds cost $1 each. Every Bonus Bond you purchase and hold for at least one calendar month following its purchase date gives you one entry into the monthly prize draw, so the more bonus bons you have, the more chances you have to win. For example, if you hold $1000 worth of eligible Bonus Bonds, you will have 1000 chances to win every month. Prizes are tax-free so you don’t have to declare or pay income tax on them – whatever you win!”

And the prizes range from $20 to a millon…

I know what you’re thinking, I’m gambling! Well, not really, because at the end of the day when I get bored of Bonus Bonds I can cash them in and get my money back, so its not like buying a lotto ticket or a scratch and win, it’s a legitimate investment for someone with a spare $20 lying around and I just thought it would be good for a bit of fun… after all, what good is a hundred bucks if you can’t have a bit of fun with some of it?

In any case you can check out their web site here if you want to scrutinize my investment choice!

Finally, my fifth intention – enlisting the help of my readers, because your encouraging comments and “likes” not only feed my ego but expose me to more potential customers, thus increasing my chances of making a sale! So please come follow me on Facebook, please click on the odd “like” button and share me with your friends and acquaintances, post links to this series on your own blog site, hit the Stumble button, ask your mother to read them to you before you go to bed at night… whatever you do, I will appreciate the free advertising, and remind you once again – you do reap what you sow!

So the first chapter has been written.

The saga has thus begun.

See you next week.

Click Here to read Pimp My Twenty Bucks


Click Here to view my current Trademe Listings


Click Here to prove how cool you are


Click Here to Read Part Two of this series!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - The End...


Before you read any further go get that bottle of champagne you were saving for your second honeymoon and bring it to your computer, because you might want to toast with me on this one.

It is with a hefty sum of alacrity that I write this, the final chapter in what can best be described as a magical process of making money do what it was meant to – and that is, to grow.

Taking baby sloth steps through the muddy lapse of 18 weeks (or 126 days to be exact), I took a plain old twenty bucks and planted it in the rich organic soil of the internet and carefully tended it until it bore me the fruit of a tender ripe and juicy One Hundred and Twelve Dollars!

That’s right, I EXCEEDED my goal like a petrol marinated soccer ball enveloped in flames; burning through the goalies hands as if he were a Wiggle handling a very hot potato!

Allow me now to give you a brief verbal montage of how the last 18 weeks, and 16 blogs, went down…

I took her royal highness, the green queen clad $20, and purchased 16 books from a local op shop for $10. Using the remaining $10 I listed them on the New Zealand based trading site, Trademe…

Not to bore you with the intimate details of the process, in my first week I sold some books, banked the profits, bought more books and listed them along with whatever didn’t sell the previous week.

In the second week I sold some more books and did the same again, right up until last week. Each week I refined the process of replacing every book I sold with two books, thus ensuring my stock grew as well as the chu-ching of my savings account, which I affectionately named “Dog Ears.”

The goal all along was to turn my tiny twenty into a humongous hundred, and by the 18th week I was just over $7 short of my objective with a whopping 51 books in stock! The floor of my bedroom and whatever flat surface I could find in my house had become a growing city of skyscraping books reaching for my ceiling!

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary app, the definition for “intense” reads something like, “existing in an extreme degree,” or “having or showing a characteristic in the extreme degree.” But after this week the entry will read, “The extreme degree of suspense as that Pimp My Twenty Bucks guy finally made it to his goal of a hundred smackaroos.”

I kid you not at all – this last week was intense, but it paid off as I sold:

Water Babies by Charles Kingsley for $4
Nemesis by Isaac Asimov for $3
Tommo & Hawk by Bryce Courtenay for $3
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck for $6
The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay for $4

Quite probably the most amount of books I have sold in a week so far, leaving me to wonder if it being the week before the School Holidays here in NZ had anything to do with it? Not that I believe your average teenager wants to read the next fortnight away, perhaps there are five parents out there who want to escape their teenagers being at home by losing themselves in a book which also serves the dual purpose of being a useful thing to throw at your 16 year old when they annoy you… who knows, all this is mere speculation.

As for me, I’m in an adulationable mood because, a) I just made up the word “adulationable” and b) the sale of these last five books hurtled me to a final sum of $112.46! Not to mention I still have 46 books in stock, which is more than enough to host your own book burning!

So this is what Neil Armstrong, may he rest in peace, must have felt when he first planted his heavy booted foot on the dusty surface of a sound stage in Nevada?

Ok, so it’s just a hundred bucks, but who cares! I have proven methodically that money + something you love (in my case books) + the internet + a bit of patience and effort = more money. I’m happy with that.

One of my favourite celebratory scenes in popular culture is that of the Ewoks after the rebels have defeated the Empire for the last time. (Yes this is a Star Wars analogy!) The fully operational second Death Star has just exploded in the heavens and its debris is falling through the atmosphere of Endor like the best fireworks display ever, while the oversized teddy bears who live in the trees are jumping in serious ecstasy to the rhythm of storm trooper helmeted bongo drums.

Right now I feel like the newly polished C3P0 glinting in the glow of the moment. That’s how I’m going to celebrate tonight. I have every intention of raiding my children’s teddy bear collection and reenacting the last five minutes of Return of the Jedi in my living room while everyone else is asleep! You can join me in your imagination right now if you like.

But I guess the question presently on everyone’s mind is not how I’m going to fit into a C3PO costume but rather what am I going to do with my $112, for which I worked so very hard to grow? I’ve already pointed out I’m not spending it on my cat’s demasculinization (I’m just full of made up words tonight!). The stinky dead skin on my feet can cope with the shoes I have and my dear old mother might have to wait until Christmas before she sees me again…

Because you see, this is not really the end…

Over the last 18 weeks, applying the principles I have demonstrated has made me think that if I can do this with $20, what can I do with $100? What if I Pimp My $100?

That’s one question I want to create an answer for, and I’m hoping you will join me (actually I’ve used subliminal techniques in this article to ensure you will) as I embark on a brand new adventure of turning $100 into $500.

Hopefully by now you’ve drank enough of that champagne to be open to some careful manipulation and you’re currently thinking it would be a great idea to “like” my Fan Page on Face Book.

But, if you don’t have Champagne or you can’t handle the thought of me in a polished droid outfit, you can press the “like” button below to congratulate me for actually making it to the finishing line! Or, if reverse psychology works best for you, don’t click on it.

Click Here to Read this Series from the beginning


Click Here to Read my new series Pimp My Hundred Bucks (oops, I haven'te written it yet!)


Click Here to see a cute story about Kittens that has absolutely nothing to do with this series.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looper - A Review

If I had a dollar for every time I wished I could go back in time and box myself around the ears for my stupid mistakes I would have enough money to invent the time machine that would allow me to do it.

This movie is sort of about that... but not really.

One of my favourite movie tricks is to release a trailer and get your potential audience believing that the film is about one thing, and then completely blow their minds with something slightly or completely different.

That's what Looper did for me.

I thought, from the trailers, that this movie was going to be about this hotshot assassin played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gets sent his targets from the future until one day the target just happens to be him and then they spend the rest of the movie trying to protect each other from the bad guys.

Well, it was a lot more complicated than that and you need to watch this film with your eyes wide open (except for the nudey scenes) and your ears unplugged to grasp the full extent of what's going on.

Joe, resident of 2044 (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper.

In the 2070's disposing of bodies isn't so easy for the mob so they use the highly illegal technology of time travel to send their victims back to the 2040's for extermination and incineration for remuneration. The Loopers are the guys who do the killing. The movie opens, more or less, with Joe looking like he's about to have a picnic, the table cloth is laid out, he's in the centre of solitude, by a corn field, when suddenly in the middle of the sheet appears a guy with a bag over his head, Joe blasts him away with his future gun and then dumps him in a furnace at some factory. All in a days work for Joe.

You can quickly tell he's a bit over it. He gets by hooked on some eye dropping drug that seems to be the latest rage on the drug scene while storing his bars of silver in a sort of vault under his apartment's floor boards. He learns French for the day he can leave all of this behind him.

Of course there's a downside to being a Looper (as if killing people, being addicted to drugs and learning French wasn't enough!) which is that in the future, when the mob decides its time to "close the loop" they send older you back to be killed by younger you. Something Joe's best friend Seth, played by Paul Dano, fails to do when his future self comes back singing the lullaby his mommy used to sing to him as a child...

Well, because of the dire consequences to the space time continuum, or perhaps because of paranoia, the future mob don't like when someone fails to close a loop. Joe at first does all he can to protect his friend until it becomes very clear that he can't and he betrays him for his stash of silver (sounds kind of like Judas don't you think?).

So by now you get the gist of what's going on. So far it sounds like what I thought the movie was going to be about. But what I didn't expect was that the film would have an Xmen element - mutants.

Apart from the far out notion of time travel the stage is also set for the idea that now, in 2044, some Humans have developed a weird mutation that gives them the ability to move small objects with their minds. I loved the line during Joe's early narrative, "At first everyone thought there was going to be super heroes... but this was the extent of it..." (not verbatim) mocking the idea that evolution came to the party and all it brought with it was a new party trick - coin levitation. You get the idea at this point that something important has just been thrown your way, so you shelve it and pay attention.

Joe goes out for his usual picnic lunch of carnage and as expected he is joined by his futuristic "guest", only this time the guy isn't wearing his usual head covering and his eyes say it all. Joe has to kill his future self.

Except he doesn't, because his future self is Bruce Willis, and in good Willis style future Joe gets away.

I have to resist the gastric urge to spew out the rest of the story but I want to leave somethings for you to discover yourself...

However, I will say that future Joe has come back with not quite the agenda I had him pegged for. It turns out that in the future there is a new guy, the Rain Maker, who has taken over all the mob syndicates and is "closing all the loops". Sending future Joe back was part of that process but when they finally came for him they took from him the only woman he had ever loved and the only person who saved him from his life filled of pointless murder and drug abuse.

Fueled with the stuff that drives revenge, he has come back to kill the younger version of this Rain Maker guy so as to prevent the death of his future wife.

There's only one problem, present Joe (well, 2044 Joe) has sobered up on a farm run by a rough-as-guts farm lady, Emily Blunt, who lives alone with her son who just happens to be one of the three children born on the same day as this Rain Maker and "present Joe" knows that "future Joe" is going to get here sooner or later so he opts to stay and protect his knew friends...

Why do I get the urge to say, "Are you Sarah Conner?" in an Austrian Accent here?

I'm not going to spill the beans on who the Rain Maker turns out to be but this is where the Telekinesis comes into it, when "Present Joe" meets the mutant who can make it rain by tearing open his victms with his mind and creating the red rain of blood. Its kind of cool when you first see it but then you realise what you're seeing is actually really gross.

A few things to mention. Emily Blunt, up until recently not my favourite actress, but to see her go from Salmon Fishing in the Yemen's proper English Harriot to hardened futuristic southerner was quite impressive. Her ability to act, and not just look the part, is moving up on my act-o-metre.

They did a great number on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face in this one too, giving him the same forehead as Bruce Willis to make it completely believable that he could grow up to Die Hard! he got the accent right to and seemed to have done something to his voice to sound like his voice could evolve into future Joe's.

Paul Dano definitely deserved a bigger role. After seeing him in There Will Be Blood I can't believe he wasn't utilized more. I can't say anymore without severely spoiling the plot... but if I was honest I would have to say there wasn't really enough room in the story to fit another major character... sorry Dano.

Being a student of Sci Fi I was happy to see elements of some of my favourite's woven into this film, from X-men (sort of) to Twelve Monkeys to the good old fashioned terminator, not to mention the awe of action that Bruce Willis brings with him to any movie no matter how old he gets!

This story wasn't just a simple time travel tale (though I would question whether any time travel movie is simple, I've actually seen the phrase "Time Travel Consultant" in film credits before), Its a story about being given the opportunity to face your past self and say, "Hey, clean up your act you little punk!" While also being a story about being able to look into the future to see what you may become and say, "On second thoughts, I think I'll stay off the drugs." And finally it is the tale of breaking cycles, when you realise if you're stuck in a cycle, or a loop, the only one who can break it is you.

Be warned, this movie is raw, graphic and does contain a small amount of nudity, a moderate amount of drug use and a hefty bag of violence to go with it. I tend to ignore these things and focus on the story, but if you can't handle the obscene expressions of this particular time travel tale then I suggest you stick to Back to the Future or the classic episodes of Doctor Who!

So the question I have to ask is if I had a time machine that could send me back to three hours ago, before I watched this movie, would I do that or would I go back and prevent myself from writing this shoddy review? I would have to say neither. I would go to the future and see the movie there, and then come back and get an earlier night.

I'll give this movie a 7 out of 10 for being clever, twisty and thought provoking but if I had to rate the violence, profanity, drug use and nudity, I would need to use integers...

Click Here for all my other Film Reviews...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Hunger Games - A Review

If Star Wars is your creed, if Star Trek is your enterprise or if Dr Who is your time-lord, and if you are one of those rare Science Fiction Freakazoids who are lucky enough to have a girlfriend, or even a wife, then perhaps you are like me and your female counterpart does not share your love for lazar guns, aliens and time travel?

Like me, have you found yourself standing in the DVD store begging your maiden, saying, “Come on, I know you’ll love the new Star Trek movie, its directed by J.J. Abrams for goodness sake!” or, “It even has Chris Pine in it, and romance… look, we’ll watch it for half an hour and if you’re still not into it we’ll watch the Note Book…”?

If that is you and all hope has gone at warp nine across the cosmos then have it Quantum Leap back home because I think I have found the movie that could be the potential “face hugger” to put the “alien” into the one you love…

Ok, so perhaps The Hunger Games does not have any of the above science fiction related mumbo jumbo but it is set in the future, it does have something in it that could be a space ship and it does have elements of some of the best Sci Fi flicks ever made…

But first I better get down to what the film is actually about.

In The Hunger Games, Gary Ross, Director/Producer of such classics as Pleasantville and Big, brings to the Screen his retelling of Suzanne Collins book of the same name. The story is set in a future dystopian society that consists of a Capitol, where the privileged elite live fearless lives, but at the expense of 12 districts of unpleasant living circumstances, the worst being that every year the youth of each district must present themselves for the “reaping”, where one boy and one girl are selected to compete in the Annual Hunger Games. A TV show in which contestants fight to the death until, well, there can be only one. In this story Katniss Everdeen volunteers to save her kid sister from going to her certain death, taking with her only her skills with a bow and arrow and her lovely personality… well, sort of.

The first half of the movie focuses on the training and also the decadence of the Capitol where, contrasted to Katniss’ humble backward district, the people frolic in frivolity, heinous fashion sense and debauchery. The people in the Capitol seem shallow and either naïve or indifferent to the rest of humanity, upon whose backs they stand.

The Hunger Games themselves are a 75 year old tradition, having its origins in the aftermath in a rebellion. Beginning as a sort of punishment against the uprising Districts it has become something much worse – bloodthirsty and pointless entertainment.

The second half of the movie finds Katniss in a simulated forest environment where the 24 contestants brutally hunt one another down. Katniss is smart though and usually hides in a tree.

There’s also a burgeoning love triangle thing going between Katniss and Peeta Mellark, the baker boy from her district who has had a crush on her forever and uses his skills of extreme cake decorating to make himself look like a tree…. Oh I said love triangle didn’t I… well, while Peeta wriggles his way into Katniss’ affections there is another boy, Liam Hemsworth’s Gale Hawthorne, waiting for Katniss at home who can see the whole thing happening on TV, just like in Big Brother! It’ll be very interesting to see where the triangle ends, or perhaps it’ll turn into a square? Who knows, perhaps I should just read the books already!

But not having read the book was an advantage for me, because I was able to enjoy the film without having to nit-pick over all the bits that were missing from it. However this also had its disadvantages, as there were things in the film that assume prior knowledge, like what is the significance of Katniss’ Mocking Jay broach? Why does it often raise a few eyebrows when seen by certain people? What’s with the three fingered salute often seen in the outer districts as some sort of symbol of solidarity? Are these things connected to the uprising of 75 years ago? By the time I finished asking myself these questions the film had progressed by 20 minutes and I was none the wiser. Maybe it’s just a ploy to make me buy the book?

But going back to a statement I made earlier, being an prolific consumer of classic Science Fiction Film I picked out very quickly the wealth of influences that made this film for me. The obvious influence is the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie – The Running Man, written by Stephen King by the way, in which, to quote IMDB “A wrongly-convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a TV game show.” – sound familiar? Except The Hunger Games doesn’t have the grunt of a classic Arnie movie, it is a chick flick after all.
In fact, if you got The Running Man, The Truman Show and Twilight (though please don’t let that last one put you off) and somehow squished them all together you would have The Hunger Games! Throw in a little bit of Logan’s Run and maybe Highlander, for atmosphere rather than plot, while you’re at it.
This movie had no shortage of talent either. Stanley Tucci playing the future’s version of Graham Norton, Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique from X-men First Class) playing Katniss and Josh Hutcherson (all grown up now) playing Peeta, and that’s just to name a few.

I was particularly impressed with Jennifer Lawrence because, well, she’s so normal looking. I’m not saying she’s ugly or anything, but she is completely void of that Hollywood fakeness that passes for a body in most modern films. Here is a girl who looks like someone I could easily sit next to on a bus one day. And believe me when I say that is a compliment. Hollywood has turned natural beauty into an abnormality in modern film. It was nice to see it make a comeback in this movie.

Overall there was enough Science Fiction and violence in this movie to entertain the geek and the man in me and enough soppy wet eye moments to entertain the woman in my life. That’s what made this a great movie for me.
It’s also one of those rare flicks where I could sit through the credits because Taylor Swift’s song, safe and warm just transported me back to 1998 when I would blast Jewels “Foolish Games” to my bleeding hearts content. But that’s just me.

On a more serious note, this movie copped a lot of flak for promoting violence among youths. Even some of my Facebook friends rubbished it for being too hardcore on the hostility. Well, I think people can be stupid. I’ll tell you why.

Sometimes the story itself is more important than what happens in the story. What happens in the story is just a vehicle for what the story is actually about. Make sense?

To explain further, if I took 24 teenagers, gave them all manner of weapons and said, “fight to the death” and we’ll film it. That would be a terrible movie and not worth paying to see, obviously! Because it’s senseless and downright immoral!

But if I was to put the violence in the context of a story about a totalitarian society that thrives on this sort of thing and made the central figure in the story the catalyst for bringing this disgusting practice to an end… that would be a noble story and worth sitting through to see how the heroine achieves the desired resolution of endorsing respect for life.

Again, that’s just me. But as someone who knows a little bit about Human history, and that what has been has been before and what will be will be again – this tale fascinated me by its honest consideration that this could be a possible future. After all, the Romans fed my Christian forebears to the Lions for their entertainment in the Coliseum. They also had gladiators fight to the death, the only reason we don’t do the same today is because Rome became Christian and the practice was condemned. But what happens in the Future when we are no longer Christian? Do we go back to doing it like the Romans or are we really better than that? We’re truly naïve creatures if we believe we could never become like the people in this movie.

It’s one thing I hate about a lot of Science Fiction actually. In Star Trek the future portrays Humans as being wonderful enlightened peace bringers to the galaxy, in other movies the aliens are invading us or bursting through our chests… but in truth, given the proof of history and the consistency of our Human Nature, in the real future, we Humans are likely to be no better than the Citizens of the Capitol in The Hunger Games.

I can’t wait to see Catching Fire!

I’ll give this one 7 out of 10 for allowing me to pretend that I was watching a Nerd Movie with my un-nerdy wife.

For more reviews by me Click Here!

Hey look everyone, there's a "like" button down there... What happens if you press it? ;)

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - Part Fifteen

UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

Only $7.34 to go…

I feel like a snail trapped in a glacier at this rate!

Last week on Facebook some smart fellow asked me if it was worth the time and effort, and I said, “Yes, yes it is.”

In the old days, before this adventure, my spare time was spent on not making money. My time was spent cursing the cruel world for not handing me itself on a plate.

Ok, so that’s a bit dramatic but I explained to him that the time I have spent on actually buying and selling books hasn’t really been that extensive and when it has, I’ve actually enjoyed it, so spending time on my love for books and “searching” for treasure in Op shops hasn’t been a waste for me, on account of having fun while doing it. And what good is your time if you haven’t enjoyed it?

Perhaps another way of looking at it is this. I spend 40 hours a week in a completely perfunctory task called, “Work”. In particular I spend at least 6 hours and at most 10 hours per day in a dark room, a very dark room mind you, playing movies for strangers who get to have all the fun while I’m locked up, like a rat in a black shoe box, the “creepy projectionist” suffering from a vitamin “D” deficiency, asking myself, “Is this worth it?”

Is it worth doing 40 hours a week, earning a decent average salary, doing something you don’t want to do because you feel like you have to, compared to doing less than maybe 2 hours a week earning between $3-$20 doing something you don’t have to do but because you actually want to?

I’ll take the second option thanks.

As far as I am concerned time is only money when the time is spent doing something you’re not principally fond of!

Had I chosen something that I did not like, like last week’s Baby Clothes mishap (see Part 14 for details) I would have answered, “You’re right, it’s a complete waste of time!” and in fact, I probably would have given up 10 blogs ago!

But apart from enjoying myself I have acquired some other things along the way. The time I have devoted to this small fiscal comedy has purchased me experience – experience I would not have gained by doing nothing.

I have learned how to deal with customers, I have learned the value of marketing my greatest asset – myself, I have learned not to put links that contain the word “Pimp" into customer correspondence…

For the past two weeks I could not figure out why my customers weren’t responding to my emails. After days of not hearing back from them I’d finally hear from them, asking for the bank details I had already sent… I discovered that my emails were going directly to their spam folders!

I had been providing them with a link to these blogs as a shameless act of self-promotion but it ultimately worked to my detriment because the title, Pimp My Twenty Bucks, was considered junk mail.


Embarrassed I changed the link to my entry from a few weeks ago – How to Turn $20 into $100 in Ten Easy Steps. Hopefully that will produce the desired effect.

I hope people understand that I have used the word “Pimp" in my title to resonate with the modern MTV generation who think the word has more to do with sprucing something up as opposed to the other meaning of the word. I’ve been assuming my readers are more intelligent than a spam filter!

On the other hand, not only have I not lost the money I started with but I am now the owner of 50 plus books which create the illusion that I am a well read and cultured individual who lives in a house full of dusty books... although I’m not sure how much more of this my wife is going to be able to take.

In any case here is what the week gone by has left me with…

Last week I sold:

Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoyevsky for $4
Eagle has flown by Jack Higgins for $6

Naturally I replaced them right away with four books, at the cost of $3, and listed them with the rest of the books from last week that did not sell – putting me at 51 books in stock and now $92.66 to show for it!

That figure should be $94.66 but alas, the customer who purchased Around the World in 80 Days last week decided they didn’t want to pay the specified postage and tried to negotiate a cheaper price. I declined, leaving me $2 out from my goal and with a slightly annoyed conscience…

So the big $100 question is – will this be the last time I have to relist these books before I land on the moon of my fortune?

We’ll just have to wait and see…

In the meantime, if you have enjoyed this series, you can prove it by hitting the “like” button down below or sharing it with your chums on the internet, which would be marvelous!

Click Here to read Part One in this series!


Click Here to read the stunning final of Pimp My Twenty Bucks!


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UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Marathon Man - A Review

If I had to list a few of my least favourite things, exercise, Nazi’s and dentists would be so high on the list they would challenge the physics of the paper they were written on. They are indeed three things worthy of a “dislike” if my Facebook profile allowed for such a thing.

This movie featured all three. And I loved it.

One of the marks of a good story teller is to take something boring or absolutely painful and turn it into something exciting and thrilling, thus had John Schlesinger proven his Directorial skills in his adaptation of William Goldman’s Marathon Man for screen, and with such a plethora of brilliant actors from the good old days of 1970’s suspense films.

Dustin Hoffman, (the original Hoff) plays Babe, no not the pig, an historian graduate who has two ambitions in life, to run a marathon and to clear his Father’s name, after having committed suicide during the McCarthy era, by completing his dissertation on Tyranny.

A liberal pacifist, Babe is completely unaware of the fact that his brother, Doc, played by Roy Scheider (A.K.A. the guy from Jaws), is actually a U.S. secret agent, accustomed to a life of intrigue, mystery and the occasional life threatening situation.

I was gripped by the, “What on earth is going on” momentum of the first hour of this film. Seriously so much is going on that you think you might have to check your I.Q. before continuing.

An old German guy takes a package from a safety deposit box…

Cut to Babe training for a Marathon…

Old German guy gets killed in a freak road rage “fail”…

Cut to Babe taking a shower…

Suddenly you find yourself in Paris where Doc is nearly killed not once, not twice but three times by a mysterious Asian guy with a creepy eye, using killing methods involving baby dolls, soccer balls and guitar string. Really creepy.

Cut to Babe hitting on a gorgeous, yet mysterious, Swiss student, played by Marthe Keller, who he just happened to meet in the Library.

Bam! We’re in South America, another old German guy, played by Lawrence Olivier, shaving his shiny white hair and embarking on an ominous journey back to America.

The story chops from Doc’s suspense filled life to Babe’s montage of young love to the mysterious bald German fellow until Doc appears in New York – and then you begin to have the A-ha moment, the, “Aw, now I get what’s going on” epiphany you’ve been unconsciously hoping will come for the past 60 or so minutes.

The old bald German is none other than Nazi War Criminal, Christian Szell who during the war stripped Jewish prisoners of their wealth in exchange for their freedom, except not in the nice way someone like Oscar Schindler might have done, being the former head of the some Nazi “experimental” department, where he most likely learnt his skills in extreme dentistry… but we’ll come to that.

Szell’s brother, having died in the bizarre car chase in the beginning of the movie (bizarre because the whole scene seems completely pointless, and yet it somehow sets the stage for the whole movie) has come to New York to procure an almighty fortune of diamonds which his brother had locked away in a safety deposit box.

Without giving too much away, Doc finds himself the recipient of Szell’s gogo gadget sleeve dagger and barely makes it to his brother’s apartment to utter his dying words while making a terrible mess of the carpet.

Szell, paranoid that Doc was planning to steal his Nazi treasure, decides Babe must be in on the imaginary heist, has him captured and proceeds to torture him, horrifically with Nazi style dentistry, to find out if it’s safe to go to the bank or not. “Is it safe?” He asks while displaying his assorted tooth picks and scalpels…

Of course poor Babe knows absolutely nothing. Until that night he thought his brother was a Business man and that his beautiful Swiss girlfriend was… well, I better not ruin that part of the story…

So as you can see, it is a complicated drama, but it kept me on the edge of my sofa and made me want to postpone my next trip to the dentist, indefinitely.

I should add here that the torture scene was brilliant. Not because I’m sadistically challenged but because it suggested more than it showed. None of this modern day Saw slash Hostel show-them-everything nonsense. It left a great deal to the imagination, which in a way made it worse. Especially, I think, because Dustin Hoffman did such a good job of portraying such a quiet, gentle but determined guy who really just found himself with the wrong brother at the wrong time!

The thing I also love about this film, and most 70’s films for that matter, is that most of the actors were completely normal looking. None of these beautiful twenty something I-can-do-anything types trying to save the day; there were even ugly people in this film. It was wonderful.

There is some nudity and at least one “post sex” scene which you might want to close your eyes for, bad language which you might want to cover your ears for and of course, a lot of blood. But to be honest, it doesn’t hold a snuffed candle to a lot of the stuff that comes out these days as far as violence goes. The most disturbing part of the whole movie, apart from the tooth drilling, was seeing Dustin Hoffman’s butt for way longer than I would have liked to, when he is trapped in his bathroom, about to be the prey of a nightmarish kidnapping.

If I had to stab a guess at the “moral of the story” I would have to say, make sure your dentist isn’t a Nazi. Beware of Swiss Women posing as History Graduates and finally – don’t stop running, especially when you are wearing nothing but pajama pants outside in the middle of the night. Also, one last thought, if you get the opportunity to nab a $30,000 diamond to fix the damage Lawrence Olivier has done to your teeth, for goodness sake take the diamond!

I’ll give this movie 7 out of 10 for its suspense and its ability to set my teeth on edge, and for the make-up they applied to Dustin Hoffman’s teeth after his “appointment”.

If I was a dentist on the other hand I would give this film 3 out of 10 for its contribution to my professions suicide rate!

Click Here for a list of other film reviews by me!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Listen to Yo Celebrities!

Just for a bit of fun, if this gets a hundred "likes" by October 1st then I will personally perform the below rap and post it to YouTube!

The inspiration for this came from my contempt for Celebrities always trying to tell us how to think whenever there's a social or environmental issue. Or even worse, they'll try to tell us who to vote for!

Fed up with these "Preachers of the Left" I did the only thing I could think of and wrote a rap about it.

I'm confident it won't get a hundred "likes" so I think I'm safe...


Listen to Yo Celebrities
A rap by Kerin Gedge


Listen to your celebrities
Coz they’re the only ones who know what’s good For you and me

They can tell you the right thing to do
Just because they lie for a living
Doesn’t mean it's not true!


Actors are expert at this thing and that
Coz of all the study they do
while getting ready to act

An actor can tell you to do what you should
coz if you’ve acted like an expert
Your advice is just as good!


Listen to your celebrities
coz they’re the ones whose words can bring peace and harmony, yo

Don’t waste your time reading
or thinking for yourself
Get a famous person to do it
coz its bad for your health

Don’t fret yourself about
that moral dilemma
Coz if a famous person does it
then it doesn’t really matter!


Listen to your celebrities
because they’ve read a lot more books
than you or me you see

Don’t think too much
about an ethical decision
leave questions of morality
to liberal politicians!

They’ll make it legal
to make it ok
coz if its legal then the guilt you feel
will go away!

Yeah a pop star won’t tell you
That you’re going to Hell
They’ll tell you it’s a virtue
to live for the now
Or think with your heart
and not with your head
leave the thinking in your head
for when you’re sleeping on your bed

Coz the famous are wise
and take the left position
be creative with your history
and abandon your tradition yo

Listen to your celebrities
coz they know a whole lot more
about reality

Yeah, normal people are stupid
And don't know a thing
They need a rich celebrity
To do all of their thinking!

Listen to your celebrities
Coz they’re the only ones who know
what’s good for you and me!


By Kerin Gedge
Copyright 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - A Review

If you told me that I would enjoy a movie about relocating 10,000 salmon to the Yemen I would have checked your temperature before telling you that you'd have to pay me to watch a fishing movie!

On a normal day I find fish, or fishing or anything about fish only slightly less exuberating as, say, worm farming! Nevertheless, I had caught glimpses of this movie while working (I’m a projectionist) and noticed at once several gleaming things it had going for it:

One – it stars Ewan McGregor, master of the Light Saber and also pro at maintaining a successful acting career post Star Wars.

Two – It’s directed by Lasse Hallstrom, the Swedish Director who gave us such mouth watering “classics” as Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

And for the people who care about this sort of thing, I guess a third good point would be the co-starring finesse of Emily Blunt, who to be honest does not quite rank in my list of favourite leading ladies but it might be a selling point to someone…

Salmon Fishing in Yemen is the charming tale of Sheikh Mohammad of Yemen who, loaded with too much money and probably too much misguided faith, fueled by his love of the Western sport of Fly Fishing decides to bring it back to his own desert strewn country.

He has his consultant, a Miss Harriet Chetwood-Talbot (Blunt) approach fisheries expert Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor) on the feasibility of the notion.

Of course Dr. Jones rejects the idea outright, on the grounds that a manned mission to Mars is more likely, but despite his reluctance to be involved the British Government, desperate for some good media coverage of British-Middle East relations, decides the project is of great national importance, and so Dr. Jones finds himself embroiled in the improbable task of relocating 10,000 Salmon from British waters to the Yemen.

This movie, I discovered, has a lot more going for it though than my earlier points.

The script is sated with clever dialogue, light hearted English humor and some great imagery; whether it be castles in Scotland, barren Middle Eastern Canyons or the pond in Albert’s back yard.

Ewan’s portrayal of Dr. Jones is one of a real Scottish gentleman, the kind you would expect to find in a Jane Austen novel. He is sharp, witty and charming in a sort of clumsy polite way, and positively pessimistic. It’s very refreshing. He is appropriate in his behavior toward Miss Chetwood-Talbot to the point of taking half the movie to call her by her first name!

Each character has a journey, they aren’t hollow satellites revolving around a single star, but are flesh and blood individuals with very personal journeys that coalesce with one another's until they reach their common destiny of bringing fish to the Sheikh’s dry land.

Harriet finds herself alone when her boyfriend, Capt. Robert Mayers, is reported missing in action, but in her grief discovers an unexpected friend in the form of Dr. Alfred Jones.

Dr Jones’ however, while participating in a task he thinks is a joke, also has to come to terms with the fact that his marriage is a joke, his wife being more interested in her career than in him. To make matters worse he has fallen in love with dear sweet Harriet but is such a gentleman, he doesn’t do anything about it… well, at least not until his wife leaves him…

And the Sheikh, in his desire to give his country irrigation, agriculture and… er… Salmon… must protect his dream from Islamic fundamentalist extremists who see his flirting with the West as a threat to be extinguished.

And then of course there’s the 10,000 Salmon. Farmed Salmon, bred against their nature in still contained waters, whose ability to swim upstream in their strange new environment comes down to a matter of faith.

Hopefully you see what an amazing mechanism of storytelling this is, as the story of each character is juxtaposed against the story of the Salmon - in the same way that the Salmon must swim against the current and great odds to reach their spawning grounds; Harriet, Dr Jones and the Sheikh must fight against the social currents that rage against them.

You might be tempted to think too that the stage has been set for a typical Hollywood style of justified adultery. But the love story of Harriet and Dr. Jones is a subtle one and doesn’t slam you into the tide of gratuitousness, as Dr. Jones makes it to the end of the movie with his chivalry intact.

This movie also comes complete with an assassination attempt, a terrorist attack, and a duck sandwich. What more is there to be said other than – see this movie!

I give it a 7 out of 10 for being a very clever and surprisingly compelling tale, even if it was about my least favourite fish.

Click Here for a list of more reviews by me!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - Part Fourteen

It's important to remember that no matter how off topic I seem to appear, that I am going to make a point, so please, keep reading!

I remember the few weeks before I first became a fully functional Dad. Up until this point I had been the stunned husband with the occasional twitching eye, trying to reconcile the abstract notion of having a mini-me in the house with the reality that it was really going to happen.

When you're a kid time seems to have no meaning. A two hour trip to our family holiday spot seemed to drag on like Lawrence of Arabia, whereas the holidays themselves seemed like this amazing never ending cycle of lazy bliss. Then you become an adult and suddenly two hours doesn't seem like such a long time and two weeks off work doesn't seem long enough...

My point is, just when you think that your age has caused your brain to process time like a digital photo, suddenly you find yourself waiting for your first baby and your brain goes back to processing time like a 35 mm roll of film. The months move by like boulders in the sand until you get to the last three weeks of pregnancy (or at least your wife does) and time straps you to a chair in the waiting room of eternity...

At least that is what it was like for me. In the same way, when on those two hour road trips as a kid, I would ask my mother every five minutes, "Are we there yet?" I wanted to ask my wife, "Is this baby coming yet or what?" And my first child would kick me in bed at night through the narrow wall of her mother's stomach as if to remind me that there was nothing I could do but wait.

Which is the same position I find myself in now. Except this time I'm the one having the baby!

In this series of 14 articles (to date) I have proven that even a pecuniary dipstick like myself can take $20, plant it in a particular interest, such as my love for old books, and utilize the Internet to multiply my money until I reach my goal of a hundred dollars.

And now, with the gestation period almost complete I find myself feeling airily similar to how I did in those last few weeks of my wife's first pregnancy, wondering when on earth all of this is going to be over? Or rather, when will I finally get to spend this money I've labored so hard for?

Well, not this week.

As my last round of listings closed yesterday I sold the following:

Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne - $2
Garden of Rama by Arthur C.Clarke -$3

Unfortunately I made a big mistake with the first book by listing it at $2 only. It has taught me a lesson about being meticulous when checking my listings. Even though the book initially cost me 50 cents, it also cost me 30 cents the first time I listed it and an additional 50 cents for the success fee once it finally sold. So I've only made 70 cents from that one. I should have been in the habit of checking my prices.

Never mind, you have no choice but to learn from your mistakes, and ripping my hair out over it isn't going to do anything for my hair line, so moving forward I spent $2.50 to replace the books I sold with four "new" titles, bringing my stock up to 49 books listed on Trademe!

That leaves me with $83.66, that's $16.34 short of my goal. But it's still nice to know that the amount I have to make to the finishing line is still less than the amount I started this race with!

I learned another valuable lesson on Trademe this week as well that I think everyone can benefit from, and that is:

Stick with what you know!

We had some old babies clothes lying around which even my wife wanted to be rid of. I assured her I could successfully sell them on trademe. Boy was I as wrong as a fairy in a pesticide factory! I was so proud of myself for selling a bundle of 5 t-shirts for $5 until a week after posting them I get an angry email from a mum who gave me a serious education in how much I failed at satisfying her expectations. She even quoted me, using actual quotation marks, to point out what a liar I was in my listings. As a man, and a dad, I can only say, "What stains? They looked fine to me!" But in the end I had to ask her if she wanted a refund. I'm still waiting for her reply. So stick to what you know. This is a great example of what happens when you venture into something you are a complete ignoramus about.

In the meantime I have to find out how to stimulate my trademe account's level of oxytocin so as to induce labour. If you're not a parent you'll have no idea what I'm talking about, so in pre-parental speak - I have to do some advertising so I can squeeze this one hundred dollars of of my account.

You can help me achieve this by pressing the "like" button or sharing this series with your friends!

I also have a facebook fan page, complete with four fans. Maybe you could be the fifth? Click here to "fan" me! 

Until next week...

Click here to read Part Fifteen!

Click here to view my listings

Click here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to follow my progress on Facebook!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Does the Bible Really Condone Slavery?

I realize most of my Readers are American so I feel the need to write this brief “disclaimer” before launching into full swing. I am writing from a cultural background and history that is completely void of slavery. New Zealand’s history, as far as I know, has never had any part in the slave trade, so if I seem cavalier in my attitude towards this topic please try to understand that I do not have the psychological or emotional paradigm that someone growing up in a country with such a history might hold. This article is in no way about the European/American treatment of African slaves, nor is it a justification for the slave trade, I am merely trying to point out that Atheist Antagonists who claim that the Bible condones slavery are wrong to think so.

Some time ago I was doing some late evening shopping at my local grocery store and found myself standing at the magazine rack. Seeing as it was one of those rare moments when I didn’t have the kids with me I began to peruse the section with eclectic curiosity until I picked up one of those Conspiracy Theory magazines…

I don’t remember anything else about the magazine, thankfully, but there was one article which jumped out of the page and slapped me in the face with a dueling glove.

It was an article written by some sorry atheist about the horrible Bible we Christians love so much and had the usual arguments about God endorsing genocide in the Old Testament and that the Bible condones slavery.

It really annoyed me, as such things usually do, that once again here was an atheist who had “read” the Bible clearly looking to prove the bias’ she already had for not wanting to accept its authority. But she hadn’t “studied” the Bible. It’s one thing to say, “God told the Israelites to commit genocide,” but it’s an entirely different thing to ask the question, “Why did God tell them to do that?” A question she clearly didn’t ask or even want an answer for. When we ask such questions we might find we learn something about God that makes him just a bit more real, a bit more holy and even a bit more terrifying than he was before we asked.

Little did I know her “arguments”, or rather pot shots, lingered in my subconscious and unable to repress at least one of them I found myself engaging in a riveting dialogue with myself today over the issue of whether or not the Bible actually does endorse slavery. (Sorry to the people wanting an answer to the genocide question, it’s still in a cupboard in my brain on a shelf somewhere).

I contend that even though the Bible clearly tolerates slavery (note I use the word “tolerate” and not “condone”) I believe that a closer study of slavery in the Bible will reveal some awesome truths about God and our relationship to him.

First let’s point out one very important thing. The Bible contains extraordinary historical accounts of people’s lives through which we ultimately learn something about God’s plan of redemption for the Human Race when looked at in context. Sometimes the people in these stories make horrible mistakes and the Bible does not make any attempt to cover them up or be PC about it while at the same time not actually condoning the actions of the individuals in the story.

One example is Lot being seduced by his daughters while drunk. The account in Genesis is just that – an account, not a suggestion of how a Father should be treated by his children. I could go on to show how the consequences of sin are far reaching and we see many generations later how the descendants of Job’s offspring caused various problems for the Israelites but we’d be here for a while, so I’ll spare you.

Another example of the Bible’s “telling it as it happened” approach to storytelling is the harrowing account of Jephthah who swore to sacrifice the first living thing that came out his door if he was victorious in battle. This led to the sacrifice of his beloved daughter because of his foolish vow. Again, this is not the Bible condoning Human Sacrifice, it’s just retelling the sad account of a man who made a foolish promise he wished he couldn’t keep. We can learn from such mistakes.

In the same way, let’s try to ignore any accounts of slavery before the Law was given, such as references to Abraham having slaves. Abraham did not have the law so he really did not know any better. The fact that he had slaves is just a normal consequence of his living in the time and culture that he found himself in. He was a wealthy man who had no children (at the time) and it would have been perfectly culturally acceptable, and even necessary, for him to own slaves. This is not condoning slavery, it’s just simply pointing out a fact of ancient life.

Later in the Bible we read in Romans that “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” So the good news is that despite Job’s incest, Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter and the fact that Abraham didn’t yet have the law – we know that ultimately God can sovereignly work with our mistakes to bring about a better conclusion.

And that’s what we see throughout the Bible, because in the end, through faith in Jesus Christ – we get to live forever. So that’s a pretty good outcome if you ask me.

But let’s deal specifically with the laws pertaining to slave ownership in Israel. But we can’t do that without first considering a few things about Israel.

The purpose of God’s Chosen People Israel was that through them would ultimately come the Messiah. Also through Israel would come the Law and the prophets, which would be the credentials of the Messiah, as Jesus said in the beginning of his ministry, “I have not come to abolish the law or the prophets but to fulfill them.” And at the end of his ministry in the Garden of Gethsemane he said, “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” We’ll come back to this point later.

There was however a third purpose to the Jewish nation, and that was to be a light, or example to the surrounding nations (Isaiah 49:6 paints a good picture of this). When they were keeping God’s law and reaping the benefits of God’s promises the Gentile nations would have front row seats to see how great a nation that served the Lord could be. On the other hand, when the Israelites did not serve the LORD the Gentile nations could see God’s just punishment against them.

At the time the Law was written slavery would have been vastly common in the Ancient World. I believe, that because Israel were the keepers of God’s law and therefore an example to the heathen nations surrounding them that God gave them regulations of how to Humanely treat their slaves. Just do a google search on how Slaves in the ancient world were treated and then compare that treatment to how the Bible demands them to be treated and then ask the question, “Does the Bible condone slavery?”

Here are some examples:

Exodus 21 – the Israelites were not to own fellow Israelite slaves for more than six years. In the seventh year they were to go free. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t slavery usually for life? Not in Ancient Israel, in fact if a slave decided he liked his master enough he could choose to stay with him and receive a pretty extreme ear piercing to show for it.

In the same chapter if a man beat his slave to death, the slave would be avenged. I think because to do so would have been considered murder and not merely the disposal of one’s property.

And just when you think the Bible condones the beating of slaves it says that if a slave lost an eye or even a tooth as a result of a beating that slave was to be set free.

Of course there are some things in there that may not agree with our PC worldview, but newsflash – the ancient world was far from PC! Better to be the slave of an Ancient Israelite who takes God’s Word seriously than some of the other Ancient options there were for Masters!

Let’s look at it a different way. A common sense argument for why the Bible may have tolerated slave ownership could be as follows:

As a projectionist and therefore a film buff, I have seen many films set in the days of the slave trade and I have found myself thinking this one thing – “Man, if I lived in those days and was filthy rich, I would have bought these slaves and set them free.” Then I have thought, “…but freedom might be the same as a death sentence in some time periods, I might have set them free into a life of never being able to get a job or have a family because of the stigma society has placed on them…” so I have found myself revising my strategy to, “Man, if I lived in those days, and was filthy rich, I would buy as many slaves as I could and treat them really well, with the dignity that they deserve, and give them the option to be free or stay in the safety of my home.” And that clinches it for me really.

If the shoe was on the other foot however, and I was the slave in those days I would hope that my master would be a God fearing man who believes that I am made in God’s image, at least then I would know that my treatment would be humane.

So slave ownership in Ancient Israel was in a way a revolutionary approach to the concept of slavery.

But now for Israel’s second purpose - the coming Messiah.

I have found great joy in discovering that the Old Testament works like Christ’s passport into our hearts. What I mean is the Law and the Prophets completely authenticated him as Messiah. It’s like the World was some sort of airport and when the religious leaders of the day asked to see his papers all he had to do was point to the passages which foreshadowed his coming.

One of the greatest things about being a student of the Bible is the awesome excitement you feel when a passage or concept jumps out of the Old Testament and you can totally see Jesus’ fingerprint on it. This is something that Atheist Antagonists like the lady who wrote the article I mentioned above, cannot possibly understand.

The Old Testament passages on slavery are no exception. They too reveal something about Jesus. This is what I think that something is.

In Romans 6 we read that we who were once slaves of sin have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness.

In some translations of Acts 20:28 we read that Jesus purchased the Church with his own blood.

What I’m getting at is that the writers of the New Testament make good use of Slave imagery to clearly illustrate the Human condition – that we are slaves to sin, and if we are slaves then whose slaves are we?

Obviously the Devil’s…

But Jesus purchased us with his blood so we would become his slaves, or rather “slaves to righteousness”. So as I said before, in the ancient world whose slave would you rather be, a cruel pagan’s or a God fearing Jew’s? This translates well into the spiritual aspect of our fallen state, whose slave would you rather be? Christ’s or Satan’s?

I believe God tolerated Slave ownership in the Old Testament because it served as a necessary picture of what we as Human Beings are in our true nature – Slaves who need to be set free.

Going back to Exodus 21 we see that the slave would be set free after 6 years. It’s interesting that this corresponds to an early Church belief that interpreted 2 Peter 3:8 completely differently than we modern Christians do – that a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. In the Epistle of Barnabas (non scriptural, I know, but it serves to show what was commonly taught back then) we see that early Christian’s saw the six days of creation as the 6000 years of Human history before the return of Christ. The Sabbath day therefore was indicative of Christ’s millennial reign upon the earth. So isn’t it interesting that when the Hebrew slave was set free it was on the seventh year? Does this foreshadow the demise of the current slave-master, the Devil, when after his imprisonment the slaves will be set free to live under Christ’s rule? I’m not stating that emphatically, it’s just a thought I had.

Another interesting observation is that if a slave claimed that he loved his master, his wife and his children (who were also owned by the master) and decided to stay with his master beyond the six years of service then his ear would be bore through with an awl (whatever that is) against the Master’s doorpost, after which he would forever belong to his master.

I think it’s fascinating that throughout Christ’s teaching he repeats the phrase, “If anyone has an ear to hear, let him hear.” Again in Romans 10:17 we read that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” So If we reject the message of Christ then we are choosing to have our ears nailed to the doorpost of our old master and thus remain the Devil’s property – just like the Old Testament slave who chooses to stay with his master. The statement, “if a slave claims that he loves his master, his wife and his children,” reminds me of Jesus’ parable about the seed sown among the thorns being the man who hears the word but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word…

I may be way off base and horrifically theologically challenged in my thinking. I’m mainly just speculating with some of the above statements but I would love to know if anyone has any more thoughts on this issue.

If anything, I hope I have shown that the issue of slavery in the Bible is not a simple one and can’t really be used to justify rejection of the Bible as the Good Book. It deserves careful study to understand why God allowed such a concept as slavery.

I will note here that slavery is in the New Testament but it seems obvious to me that as slaves were converting to Christianity they were encouraged to stay with their masters because in so doing they would be able to win their masters over to a saving knowledge of Christ. As for masters, they were encouraged to treat their Christian slaves as brothers...

So no, I do not think the Bible condoned slavery but God knew that men, being men will eventually enslave his fellow man. So God made laws to protect slaves from man’s cruelty.

In closing I would like to point out that Atheist Antagonists love to use Scriptures like this to make the ignorant think that the Bible is somehow evil. I guess to anyone with a completely dishonest Politically Correct world view the Bible could be classed as evil. But the Bible was not written by people brainwashed with Political Correctness but rather by individuals who were enlightened with the truth!

Atheist antagonists want to scare the Biblically uneducated into thinking that belief in the Bible will eventuate into justification for slave ownership (or genocide) when they use such arguments, but they are being dishonest and completely ignoring the fact that it is because of the Bible that we do not have slavery today. Abraham Lincoln declaring that man was created equal with inalienable rights – inspired by the Bible. Then there was William Wilberforce abolishing the Slave Trade in England - thanks to his belief in the Bible. And let us not forget John Newton the notorious slave trader who converted to Christianity and turned his back on his former vocation, eventually to write the song Amazing Grace – thanks to the Bible. So let’s not lose perspective here.

Atheist Antagonists are being dishonest when they use the Bible against the Bible. They have “read” it only to serve their own agenda, but they have not “studied” it in their quest for truth, because they don’t care about truth, they only care about justifying their lack of belief in God and their hatred for people like us who do.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Christian Message in The Emperors New Clothes

I was clearing out old notes on my iPhone today and stumbled upon this little gem, I think I had intended it to be a Vlog but forgot I had written it!

Oh well, hope this speaks to someone...

Recently I found myself thinking about the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Emperors New Cloths.

In case you haven't heard it before it is the tale of a king who had to have all the latest fashions, when one day two conniving tailors came along and convinced the king that they had the most expensive and fashionable outfit that money could buy, only they didn't really have anything at all, it was a scam, a scam so convincing that the King, not wanting to look like a fool, bought the outfit and went about his palace in the nude showing off his wonderful new "garment" to his attendants who were too afraid (and embarrassed) to tell the king the truth about his obvious nudity, that they played along with the deception.

After a while even his lords and ladies were sucked into the sad affair and told the King what wonderful new clothes he wore as he stood there in all his naked glory like a peacock with invisible feathers! Eventually everyone in the kingdom was in on the terrible joke, each subject just as afraid as the other to even dare speak the obvious truth that the only suit the King wore was the one he wore on his birthday, and they applauded the king as he paraded his nakedness in the streets for all the subjects to admire...

Until suddenly a small child who didn't yet know enough to be embarrassed and was innocent enough not to be afraid of a King cried, "he's not wearing any clothes! Why is the king naked?" And with that the spell was broken, as the subjects began to laugh at the naked king and he rushed off to his castle ashamed at what a fool he had been...

You know that has to be one of my favorite stories. As a child it must have taught me the moral of not following the crowd. But now as an adult in today's freaky world I've discovered another application. For me this story is about the bankruptcy of political correctness vs what it means to be a Christian.

Once upon a time in the West we based our lives on ten simple rules based on truth. We called them the Ten Commandments. But then "tailors" came along and told us there was no God and that the Bible was just a bunch of silly stories and the "tailors" were so convincing that we put on their invisible clothes.

Now the majority of people in the world today, particularly in our English speaking culture pat each other on the back and applaud one another's nakedness. We no longer have the morality that came from the Bible but instead follow this weird notion of political correctness where instead of talking about things as being right or wrong, moral or immoral, we refer to them as being offensive or inoffensive, politically correct or incorrect, legal or illegal. When really our society is just morally bankrupt, too afraid to stand up for what is right because they're too busy following the crowd.

Jesus said To his disciples that unless you become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Now obviously he was talking about a child's humility or willingness to trust but like the story above children have a natural dedication to say what is really there. Many times a twelve year old has stood next to me and innocently commented on how much taller they are than me, or an 8 year old might look at me and comment on my crooked teeth or the best one was when my niece once saw me with my shirt off, took one look at my huge belly and fell over in a laughing fit. They're not being intentionally offensive, they're just stating the obvious.

And that in a nutshell is what I believe a Christian is. We are meant to be the child in the crowd who cries out, "why is the king naked?"

People are offended by Christians but they shouldn't be. I can speak for myself that I am not trying to condemn or to be intentionally offensive, but like a child I have that same dedication to the truth and tendency to state what is really there. That is why I say things like, abortion represents a terrible double standard in society where we applaud each other for our right to choose but then don't understand why there is so much child abuse. That is why I will say that I am created in God's image, not in the image of the missing link that is still missing. That is why I will say that high school massacres can be traced back to the years after prayer and the Bible was taken out of schools. That is why I will remind you that Christmas has been hijacked by Santa's terrorist unit of fairies and magic elves when traditionally, and for nearly two thousand years, we have celebrated the birth of Christ and in in little more than a century we have managed to wipe out two thousand years of tradition.

It's because I am that child in the maddened crowd that I will tell you that Jesus did not die to take the punishment for your political incorrectness, he died for your sins and through faith in him you will not perish but have everlasting life.

Do You really want to go through life too scared to admit that you are following the same lie like the rest of the crowd, that like the king in the story you are spiritually naked and the clothes you think you're wearing are just pretend and are little more than a cruel joke?

Jesus told another story about a different King who held a wedding feast, and while the feast was in full swing he came in to see his wedding guests but noticed a man there who wasn't wearing clothes. He told his attendants to tie up that man and throw him outside into the darkness where there would be weeping an gnashing of teeth. Sounds harsh but you see in those days if you were invited to a wedding the host provided you with clothes for the occasion, so for the guy not to be wearing clothes at the wedding meant that he wasn't a real guest, but an intruder, an impostor.

Just like the King in this parable, Jesus has provided the world with the clothes they need to know God and to have eternal life with him in heaven. You don't have to walk around pretending anymore. You can come to Jesus right now and say, "Lord save me, I repent of my sins and choose to follow you" and he will cloth you not in political correctness, but in his righteousness.

This World is full of deceiving tailors and naked Kings. Only few are brave enough to be the child in the crowd, to be the true Christian who goes against the flow.

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How to Turn $20 into $100 in Ten Easy Steps

Below I have jotted down the simple formula which I have used to do just what the title claims - turn $20 into $100.

The steps are easy to follow and the process only requires a bit of time and patience, an eBay account (or any online trading site you prefer) and the product of your choice.

The process works.

Anyone can do it.

So here's how it's done...

Step One: Find an item of interest that you know something about and that you can easily reproduce or purchase at a low cost, preferably less than $10.

Step Two: Use $10 to purchase or manufacture the item.

Step Three: List the item on eBay or any online trading site of your choice. Use the remaining $10 to cover listing and success fees. Obviously, list the item for more than it cost you to purchase or make. On that note, make sure the price you sell the item for is enough to:

1. Cover what you paid for the item
2. Enable you to purchase/manufacture two identical items
3. Leave some profit left over to put in the bank

Step Four: After selling the item, use the money you earned from the sale to reproduce the item twice, in other words if you sold one item then replace it with two similar or identical items.

Step Five: List the two items.

Step Six: After accounting for listing fees, bank the remaining cash from the first sale.

Step Seven: After selling the two items, use the money you earned from the second sale to reproduce the items by two each, in other words if you sold two items then replace them with four similar or identical items…

Step Eight: List the four items.

Step Nine: After accounting for listing fees, bank the remaining cash from the second sale.

Step Ten: Repeat steps seven, eight and nine until you have successfully banked $100

Things to remember:

If in a week you sell less than your total amount of stock simply relist what you did not sell and only replace by two the stock that you did sell. For example if I had 50 books listed one week but only sold five then I would relist the 45 that did not sell and replace the five that did with ten books.

You can of course break the rules, the items don’t all have to be the same thing, as long as they are something that you know something about and can obtain at a price that will allow you to sell them for a profit and easily replace.

If your chosen product does not sell after a few weeks then try selling something different.

Finally – you don’t have to stop at $100!!!

Happy trading

To see this method in action click here to read my blog Pimp My Twenty Bucks for a detailed expose on how I turned my $20 into $100 using these steps. ]

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - Part Thirteen

The other morning I did a peculiar thing. I sat up in my sleep and thought about sleep walking before finally deciding against it and throwing myself back down into bed. Only, my subconscious forgot to include my pillow in the whole procedure and thought it best to send my forehead crashing into the corner of my bedside drawers instead. I woke up, needless to say, very suddenly muffling an expletive or two as they tried to escape the prison bars of my mouth which usually keeps the cursing under lock and key. I was sure I had just taken part in the creation of my very first black eye but thankfully my superhuman epidermis spared me the need for foundation cream.

So I'm left to wonder what was going on deep in the empty caverns of my head that caused my violent wake up call? Was it simply that I hated my pillow enough to prove the point by trying to knock myself out while I was already knocked out to begin with? Or does it prove that in my natural state I am so lazy that even in my sleep I can't be bothered with getting out of bed? Or perhaps it's deeper than that; perhaps there is a little accountant locked away in a previously unused part of my brain who, having finally discovered that the door to his squishy little pink and gray cell has swung open, is now running madly with the neurons responsible for head banging?

I am going to make a point, so please, stay with me here...

The truth is I do hate my pillow. I used to have a great feather down pillow until in an effort to cure my three year old's night terrors I sacrificed it for the greater good. No I didn't put it over her head, I did something even more drastic - I gave it to her, and suddenly she sleeps like a baby should while I try to kill myself somnambulistically. Indeed a new pillow is now on my list of things to buy, along with the shoes, the road trip and my cats maturing manhood.

But I think, more to the point, I really am lazy. In fact we all are. Financially speaking most of us, myself included, have lived from paycheck to paycheck struggling to pay our bills while dreaming of the toys we would like to buy or the experiences we're missing out on because our wallets don't want to come to the party. Some of us are even lazier and run straight to the finish line by putting all of the above on credit only to sacrifice more of those paychecks on repayments later...

If this experience of gradually turning $20 into $100 has taught me anything, it has been that financial laziness is no longer an option for me. I have learned the secret that money can either be a seed or piece of fruit. You can eat the fruit and be left with nothing, or you can save the seed, plant it, tend it and eventually you'll have more fruit!

I've spent my 34 years trying to find the dream job or the best idea or write that awesome song or whatever it was that I thought was going to make me the big bucks but at the end of the day the small change in my pocket was all I needed to get me on the road to financial fitness. Like the late great King Solomon said, "Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it." (Proverbs 13:11)

I can no longer claim, "I don't have the money," because with a bit of determination and patience - I can make the money.

As for the little accountant running wildly throughout my brain, please excuse me for a moment while I tell him to put some clothes on...

... that's better. He's just enthusiastic. But in all seriousness this adventure, slow as it may seem to the many, has created new pathways in my mental network that I am looking forward to travelling down in the near future. Just to tease you a little, I have to say stuff the cat, the shoes can wait and although I would like the freedom to visit my mother on a weekly basis my stomach will probably thank me for fasting from her cooking for a while longer, because I intend to Pimp My Hundred Bucks as well... but let's not jump ahead of ourselves, I'm not quite there yet...

(Please note, I am not really an irresponsible cat owner, next pay day Felix is going to have to say goodbye to his "boys" one way or the other, but please don't tell him that, I want to enjoy the look on his face when he realizes what the box in my car is for.)

So, now that I have successfully fleshed out this weeks edition with lots of nonsense, here is what we have all come here to read..

Last week I sold

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis for $3
Watership Down for $3
Kim Stanly Robinson's Red Mars for $5.60

Totalling a megalithic $11.60 to add to my cash stash.

Keeping with my formula I purchased six books at the cost of $5.50, a few dollars more than I normally would have spent, but again I found myself out of town and couldn't resist checking out the local op shoppery while I was there. Though the books were up to four times what I would usually pay back home, the titles were good and I was confident they would sell, so I took the risk.

I relisted the items that did not sell last week along with the six new titles, which now brings me up to a total of 47 books in stock!

So forget the drum rolls, let's start making the ice cubes for the champagne we're going to break open when all of this will soon be over, because now, after deducting success fees, after subtracting the cost of new product and taking into account the cost of listing those items - I am now left with $81.66 with only $18.34 to go before I can take a break from this climb up financial Everest!

And with that, I am gong to put my crash helmet on and go to bed.

In the meantime, if bed doesn't appeal to you right now and you are desperate for something to do, please click the "Like" button below for an experience that can best be described as microscopically thrilling.


Click Here to read Part Fourteen in this series!

Click here if you would like to read this series from the beginning

Click here to check out this weeks items

Click Here to hear what the sound track to Lord of the Rings would have sounded like had I written it!