Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tall hair and long dresses

I wasn't surprised to see the polygamous FLDS sect open their YFZ ranch to Oprah Winfrey on Monday, March 30. It is part of a carefully orchestrated PR effort by the group. I think Oprah was sucked into the stories the women told, but to me they sounded more coached than spontaneous. They were uncomfortable with questions about jealousy among wives, and said they had to "overcome those feelings," which is the reason they were there, to progress past those very human feelings.

The whole openness thing was so opportunistic I'm surprised Oprah, who isn't dumb, was taken in.

I have lived around polygamy. I live in Sandy, Utah, the real-life town that is the hometown of the fictitious Hendrickson polygamous family of the TV show, Big Love. When I moved here in 1975 several Mormon fundamentalist (polygamist) families lived in the neighborhood. I don't think they were FLDS, but their women dressed like the FLDS women: tall hair, long dresses. They were a bunch that didn't communicate with anyone outside their group. If you were to try to talk to them in a store they wouldn't stand and chat. They'd move on. They want to be left alone. Some of it is because of the men, who are like an American Taliban. Women have their place, and their place isn't talking with outsiders or strangers. If the women don't show jealousy it doesn't mean the men don't. (And I don't for one minute believe there isn't jealousy amongst the wives.)

A lot of people feel live and let live with the polygamy community, and I'm OK with free exercise of religion as long as it doesn't involve sexual abuse of children or ritual human sacrifice. The FLDS in the Oprah piece denied knowing anyone who got married too young, but marriage was what the young girls who were interviewed aspired to.

When the FLDS lived in the twin cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona, they were ignored by the law and society for decades. They could do anything they wanted, even marry girls 12, 13 or 14 years of age to older men. When Warren Jeffs was their prophet (before he became a convict) he banished several young men because they competed with the older men for the young girls. They showed up in Salt Lake City, homeless and unprepared for life outside their former community. They were called the Lost Boys. None of that was covered in the Oprah interview, and even if the question had been asked the members would have played dumb. Their goal with permitting the interview was public relations, not any revelations about dirty secrets within their families or communities.

A journalist who has covered the YFZ story had this to say in a blog last summer:

. . .the FLDS is very coercive indeed. Almost every feature of these women's lives is determined by someone else. They do not choose what they wear, whom they live with, when and whom they marry, or when and with whom they have sex. From the day they're born, they can be reassigned at a moment's notice to another father or husband, another household, or another community. Most will have no educational choices (FLDS kids are taught in church-run schools, usually only through about tenth grade -- by which point they girls are usually married and pregnant). Everything they produce goes into a trust controlled by the patriarch: they do not even own their own labor. If they object to any of this, they're subject to losing access to the resources they need to raise their kids: they can be moved to a trailer with no heat, and given less food than more compliant wives, until they learn to "keep sweet." At the very least, women who do decide to leave the sect leave without money, skills, or a friend in the world. Most of them have no choice but to leave large numbers of children behind -- children who are the property of the patriarch, and whom many of them will never see again. If a woman is even suspected of wanting to leave, she's likely to be sent away from her kids to another compound far yonder as punishment for her rebelliousness. For a woman who's been taught all her life that motherhood is her only destiny and has no real intimacy with her husband, being separated from her children this way is a sacrifice akin to death. At the very worst, death is indeed what awaits them. The FLDS preaches "blood atonement" -- the right of the patriarchs to kill apostates who dare to defy them, usually by slitting their throats. And they've done it: [Jon] Krakauer hung his entire book on the murder of Brenda Lafferty and her year-old daughter, who were both killed by her husband's brothers because Brenda rejected (and mocked) her husband's desire to take plural wives. (Warren Jeffs also liked to rouse people out of their beds in the middle of the night for dramatic mass meetings testing their readiness for the Final Judgment -- meetings that had dark shades of Jonestown.) Brenda is the only one known to have been killed, but others who've left report being threatened with the same fate. There's a whole lot more depth and nuance to this story, and I'll try to get at some of it over the next several days. But let's start with the premise that almost nothing you're hearing in the mainstream media about this group can or should be taken at face value.

--Dennis Neiwert writing in the blog Orcinus.

By going to their YFZ Ranch Oprah did more good for the FLDS than anyone else could have done. She has very high credibility, and I'm sure a lot of viewers left with a feeling about the FLDS: they're odd but harmless. But anyone fooled into thinking that the answers she got to her questions were honest is very naive, and hasn't lived around these secretive people.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obsessive love

I've had a couple of posts recently about women who have sacrificed their families, careers, and dignity to have sex with young teenagers. I've wondered why, and what would make them throw away everything for sex with such a young partner. When it comes to sex, sometimes people just do bizarre things.

In 1977 Joyce McKinney was a worldwide tabloid sensation. She had kidnapped a Mormon missionary, Kirk Anderson, in England, taken him a rented cottage in Devon, tied him to a bed and had sex with him repeatedly.

She spent her life savings on this endeavor. She dragged along an accomplice, a man as obsessed with her as she was with Kirk Anderson. They both ended up in jail, both ended up skipping out on their bail, getting back to the States by posing as mute Irish actors. Wow.

McKinney had been a beauty queen; although born in North Carolina she had once been Miss Wyoming. She converted to Mormonism and attended BYU, where, by some accounts, she went after Wayne Osmond of the famous singing Osmond family. Wayno said no, no, and she moved on, changing her obsession to the young, tall, dark and handsome Anderson.

If the story ended there it'd be good enough, but it actually gets better. McKinney moved back to North Carolina, and ended up in the news again when she paid to have her dead pit bull, Booger, cloned by a South Korean company. She traveled to Korea to pick up the puppies, and used the name Bernann McKinney, but the British press wasn't fooled. They realized quickly that the eccentric American woman who had paid $50,000 to get her doggie duplicated was the same American woman who had kidnapped and had sex with the Mormon missionary. She initially denied she was the same woman, but later changed her story.

Now that is a really great story of obsessive love. We've seen it in movies like Fatal Attraction, we've read about people stalking or killing the objects of their obsessions. Unfortunately, it's all too common. But rarely had the events come together like McKinney and Anderson. The images of him spread-eagled on a bed, handcuffed to the bed posts, and McKinney in a see-through negligee having her way with him were irresistible.

It was a short-lived story, though, and until she popped up again in 2008 to claim her puppies in Korea it had been mostly forgotten. Probably not by Anderson. In 1984 she was caught in Salt Lake City where Anderson lived, in what everyone assumed was another run at getting him alone. The ropes and bondage gear in her trunk led police to that conclusion.

Spending your life savings to have sex with a guy thinking that will make him yours...spending $50,000 to have a dog cloned...these are all part and parcel of obsession. When more stories surfaced about McKinney after the cloning story broke, she was shown to be a litigious person who sued others over trivial matters. Obsessive with love, and all-in-all, a real pain in the ass.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No end in sight

There're always people who think the end of the world is imminent. We used to see cartoons of guys with wild hair and beards, dressed in robes and sandals, wearing sandwich boards that proclaimed THE END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR. Sometimes it's hard to take their fervor seriously.

A local group is claiming they can feel the hot breath of God on our necks because gay people want to be married. If it isn't war news from some faraway place it's crime at home. It's Internet porn; it's the drug problem; it's the economy, stupid. It's like Roseanne Roseannadanna: "It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another thing." They read signs of the end just like ancient sorcerers read the entrails of goats.

In 1964 I remember the Apocalyptic types going after the topless bathing suit. If you remember that you're as old as I am, or maybe you heard about it. In the year of the Beatles and Hard Day's Night, Johnson and Goldwater, Civil Rights marches, and the heating of the Vietnam conflict, here came a simple swimsuit that caused people to say it was the end of the world. I turned 17 that year, and still young and naive enough to think that when other people said it, especially people who I thought had more experience than me, that maybe, just maybe, they knew something I didn't. So I remember a few stabs of guilt that I was very curious about what designer Rudi Gernreich foisted on the public that caught their imagination in such a way. I was halfway sure it would bring about God's punishment in some awesome and awful way, just like the religious people were saying.

If you look at the suit in this famous photo of model Peggy Moffitt, you see it exposes the breasts, but covers expansively the rest of her naughty parts. Her navel doesn't show. Many swimsuits over the years have exposed much more, especially in the lower area, than the Gernreich suit. But it was one of those things that caught public attention and for a time caused a firestorm of controversy and talk. It also caused some public officials in places worldwide to enact ordinances that prohibited wearing the suit on a public beach.

All I can say is the folks who got upset about the topless swim suit--and it upset me, in a horny teenage boy sort of way--should have looked 45 years into the future and they would have seen that not only did the world not end, things got much, much sexier.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Now you tell me...?

I won't make you read this March 19, 2009 article about prostate-cancer testing unless you want to. Click on it to make it full size.

I was referred to my urologist by my family doc, who felt a hard node on the left side of my prostate during a routine digital rectal exam December 17, 2008. I've been getting those since I was in my forties. I'm used to them now, but some men are skittish about having someone's finger in their bum. Anyway, for years I've had BPH, which meant my prostate was enlarged. I've also taken a PSA test each year, which is a blood test that can indicate specific antigens in the prostate, leading to a clean bill of health or--brrrr, shudder--cancer.

In my case the PSA number was 258, which is pretty well within the normal range. It was higher than last year's test, but not that much, and the urologist asked why she referred me with that number. As soon as he felt the hard spot he knew. On January 16 I had a needle biopsy and on February 14 I had my prostate removed. The left lobe of my prostate was 19% cancer and the right lobe 1%.

Now comes a study that says that men who get PSA tests don't live any longer than men who don't. So maybe they're right, because as the urologist told me, "Many primary care docs wouldn't send me a guy with a PSA this low." So the guy would have cancer and no one would suspect because the PSA didn't show a large number. So what does it all mean? It means that men need the combination of the PSA and digital exam to see if there is anything unusual about the prostate.

Men are often told that prostate cancer is slow growing, so watch and wait. I have no idea whether my cancer was aggressive or slow-growing. The hard spot on my prostate was not there the year before, and then 1/5th of my prostate had gone malignant. Is that aggressive? I don't know, but I knew I wanted it out of my body, and the urologist agreed.

My friend has a dad who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 78. His doctor told him, "We won't take it out because prostate cancer is slow growing and something else will kill you first." (I hope the doctor didn't put it that bluntly.) Now my friend's father is 88, his cancer has spread and is killing him. So my friend is mad at the doctor for not taking the prostate out originally. Who knew he'd live long enough that the doctor's prediction didn't come true? Anyway, something will get us eventually, but I want to hold off as long as possible. I've got some things to do yet, and die of cancer at a young age is not one of them. My urologist said, "You could live another twenty years!" I try not to think like that, because it puts a timetable on my life. Cancer has a way of making you sit up and take notice that what I've been denying all my life is true: there is a timetable on mine and everybody's else's life. I've just got to push it back a ways.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If eyebrows could talk

Audrey Hepburn sat across from me. I was on the sofa, and she was sitting in a large chair. Her legs were crossed, and she was wearing the shoes she was wearing on the cover of this 1957 Harper's Bazaar magazine.

They were cute, but she was also wearing the black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's, and they didn't match. Her hair was short, pixie-like, and she looked about 25-years-old.

Audrey had her elbow on the arm of the chair, her fist to her chin, profile to me, watching, wistfully, I thought, some children playing on the lawn. They could be my granddaughters, but didn't want to get up and break her reverie by peering out the window. My mind spun. I had Audrey Hepburn in front of me, and now what do I say to her? I thought, oh, I know. I started to talk, "You know, there are only three movie stars who have really stood the test of time. When it comes to beauty, I mean. There's Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and you." If I expected a reaction to what I said I was mistaken, because she acted like she didn't hear me. I continued, this time thinking that I'm going to talk, but I'll make a fool of myself: "Of the three, you are the most beautiful, Miss Hepburn."

She finally turned to me and looked at me full face, but didn't say anything. I was startled, because her eyebrows were very thick. They went almost to her hairline. I wanted to say, "Good Lord, hasn't somebody told you your eyebrows are out of control?" but I never got the chance. I woke up.

Eyebrows notwithstanding, Audrey Hepburn has a quality I find appealing. I like to look at her. I'm sure that even in her movie star days when she took off her makeup, put on a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, her hair in curlers, she didn't look so good, but that's the magic of Hollywood, the power of the glamour factories that turn out young and attractive women by the trainload. They're all cute, vivacious, have great teeth, perfect skin, perfect boobs, but they're also fake. I believe Audrey didn't need any of the stuff they have now. There was something extra about Audrey, something that Hollywood and the publicity machines can't manufacture out of today's crop of lovelies.

Audrey died when she was nearly 64, way too young. I've seen her movies and the pictures of her as a mature woman, but when I think of her I think of the young woman with the impossible eyebrows, the huge, luminous eyes. See you in my dreams, Audrey.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goodbye Ron Silver

Yesterday Sally and I watched the 1990 movie, Reversal of Fortune, then found out via TV news that actor Ron Silver had died. Although Silver played lawyer Alan Dershowitz, on whose book Reversal of Fortune was based, he wasn't the lead character. The two leads were Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close as Claus and Sunny von Bulow, respectively. The movie presented more than one point of view, relegating the Dershowitz character to an almost secondary role.

But Ron Silver was no second banana. You've seen him on various television programs and in some movies, but he was primarily a stage actor, and that's the way he comes across on screen. He projects to the last row. This picture of him as Dershowitz, with his eyes burning, is typical of his style, which I'd describe as intense.

I saw him play a quiet role, once, in The Arrival, starring--of all people--Charlie Sheen. Silver played Sheen's boss in a less histrionic manner, but you couldn't help but think there was something underneath the quiet, and there was.

Ron Silver was 62, and died after a two-year fight with esophageal cancer.

The thing that surprised me--or not, in retrospect--was that Silver went from being a liberal to a conservative "9-11 Republican" as he called himself. Under the right circumstances anyone can change a political viewpoint. Look how many Republicans voted for Obama. But that isn't what I'll remember about Ron Silver. I'll remember the burning eyes and the way he could take a scene away from another actor. Even Jeremy Irons, whose Claus von Bulow portrayal is one of the screen's greatest, took a backseat in some of the scenes he played with Silver. That's talent!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


A local story is getting a lot of attention: two female junior high school teachers had affairs with the same 13-year-old boy at different times in the past year. The had no knowledge of each other's relationship with the boy. Both women have been arrested and charged with sex crimes.

My former coworker, Mary Ann, was vice principal of a junior high school. Years ago when Mary Kay Letourneau was in the news because she wouldn't let go of her similarly-young lover, and even went to prison over him, Mary Ann said to me, "I don't understand why a grown woman would be interested." She pointed at the young kids in the office. "Look at them. They're little boys." The way she said "little boys" sounded like she thought of them as being infants. Come to think of it, they weren't that much removed from that stage, based on their immature behavior in the halls and office.

When I look at the mugshots published in the newspaper of the two teachers I see pictures of a couple of moms, maybe even grandmas. One is is 39, the other 46. Both have their own teenage children at home. There are a lot of double standards when it comes to older women/younger men. If you think of a man aged 46 having sex with a 13-year-old girl you get quite a different mind picture than a woman having sex with a 13-year-old. With the man you think of pure perversion, with the woman you think...what? I think of some sort of emotional need being fulfilled. That was the way it was with Letourneau. Letourneau got a lot of media attention. She was constantly bombarded with the question, "Why?" I heard her answers but I'm not sure anyone was ever satisfied. C'mon, Mary Kay, we all asked, you're in your 30s and you're risking your home and family for a kid who is 12? No wonder everyone wanted to know why. Since we hear more and more stories about grown women having sex with boys as young as 12 or 13, we should ask ourselves what they are after. A woman's sexual needs are so different than a man's, especially in the emotional range, that finding some sort of sexual attraction with a 13-year-old sounds less perverted than just weird.

Beyond the reasons for it, any teacher having sex with a student is walking through a minefield. If the kid tells, and kids tell their friends everything, she's going to be found out. Even if he said nothing now, even if he waited until he was an adult and then told, the law could still come after her, because there is no statute of limitations on sex crimes with minors.

Personally, I don't see the boy as victim. He had sex with two women who were old enough, older even, than his mother could be. He kept his lovers from knowing he'd had sex with the other. What kind of kid is this? Is he some sort of superstud, some sort of Svengali hypnotizing the objects of his lust? I have no idea. He deserves to spend some time on the psychiatrist's couch, too, just to see what is going on in his horny little head.

In an entry for this blog called Gerrie, I wrote about my 14-year-old lust for my 8th grade English teacher. Every time I read about these teachers having sex with their male students I wonder what would have happened had Gerrie taken advantage of me. I don't have to think too much about it because it wouldn't have happened. If Gerrie had the desire to have sex with any male student I would have been at the absolute bottom of the list of boys she'd have sex with. And even if all the stars, planets and comets had come into alignment and she had wanted to have sex with me, at the age I was then my mother didn't let me out of her sight for long periods. If I'd been gone after school she would have been looking for the reason why. According to news reports, these teachers took the 13-year-old to various places, but didn't have sex in the school. Where was the boy's mom? Dad? Why did he have time enough to have sex with his teachers?

I hope they helped him with his homework after they were done with him.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Let's root for the rooter man!

Yesterday morning I was in my downstairs bathroom, just finished my shower. Sally was using the upstairs bathroom and ran some water. I saw the water in my toilet bubble up like lava in a volcano dome, then heard a distinct "blurble" noise.

Weird, I thought. I flushed the toilet. Within seconds I had a flood, had the back off the toilet, stopped the water. I got out the mop, used every towel in my bathroom to get the water off the floor. I threw the towels in the washing machine and told Sally I'd had a flood. She was ready to go to work and really didn't want to hear about it. I went downstairs in a few minutes and saw that the laundry room was flooded, with water gushing from the floor drain. Time to call the rooter man!

The first guy I called, who we've done business with a few times in the past, couldn't make it, so he called a friend and in about an hour a young man showed up at my door. The first thing I thought of was that he looked like someone out of Li'l Abner. He was huge, 6'4" at least, and fat. He wore overalls rolled up at the bottom. He was a very pleasant young guy who introduced himself as Dave. He said, "How did you get my friend to refer me? I'm glad I can help, but we're both swamped (I don't think there was a pun in there) with calls today."

I told Dave the truth: I said, "My wife is at work and from there she'll be leaving for a couple of days, and I'm recovering from cancer surgery." Man, that cancer surgery stuff opens doors and gets attention. "Oh, wow," Dave said. "Of course, yeah, we'll take care of ya!" I'm shameless, but it worked.

The problem was he couldn't get the problem to repeat itself. We stood at the toilet flushing it and on about the fifth flush it suddenly started to flood. He stopped it before it overflowed. He said, "Has the shower backed up?" I looked in the shower stall, "Yup." "How about the floor drain in the laundry room?" "Yup again." "Okay, it's your sewer."

Dave got his 280 pound frame up on my roof with his rooter equipment and I could hear it whirling through my sewer pipes. We ran the shower full blast while he did his rooter work, then after 20 minutes or so came in and said he had heard the clog break up and the water rush down the pipes. We checked all of the toilets, showers, etc., and everything looked normal, so he charged me $120--which I was glad to pay--and left for his next job.

Why do people make jokes about plumbers? Here are guys who deal with things the nurses after my surgery dealt with, gross stuff. Neither is a line of work I'd particularly like, but I'm sure happy there are people out there who do it. You've got to root for the rooter man. Away go troubles down the drain, as the old advertisement went. Considering how I felt yesterday--not one of my better days, and a lot of it using the very equipment that was backing up--I was very happy to have myself rooted.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sexy Sean

When I saw this ad in the November 3, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, I thought holy cow. Sean Connery is still a sex symbol. Connery, who was born August, 1930, will be 79 this year. So I wonder how it feels to be sexy when you're too old for sex? (I don't know anything you don't know. For all I know Connery could be having sex every day.)

When he found out I was having surgery my brother gave me a set from the Ultimate Bond series. There are a representative sampling of James Bonds in these movies: Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and two movies with Connery: Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. If Goldfinger is one of the peaks of the set then Diamonds Are Forever would be the low point of the valley. After this 1971 movie Connery quit (again), until Never Say Never Again in 1983 which was his final Bond film.

My top three Bond films with Connery would be From Russia With Love (that fight in the train with Robert Shaw), Dr. No (a science fiction fantasy), and Goldfinger, which began a more lighthearted approach to the character, Bond as superhero, but still dramatic and suspenseful. Diamonds Are Forever has a thin plot and the script is loaded with lousy characters: A couple of stupid killers who call each other Mister, Charles Gray as multiple Blofelds, Jill St. John as a sexy criminal who hardly ever wears clothes.

Last but worst of all, Sausage King Jimmy Dean as the Howard Hughes-like Willard Whyte. Do I have to go through everything that's wrong with this movie? It would take all day.

The sex is something about the Bond movies that made them popular, but I suspect it was with adolescent males, and adult males who hadn't outgrown their adolescence. Every woman Bond beds is beautiful and completely willing. He doesn't even take them to dinner before shagging them. Those are porn fantasies, fueled by the 1960's Playboy lifestyle of Hugh Hefner and his free love hedonism. With the Baby Boomers just coming of age in that era, millions of hormone-saturated teenage boys to buy tickets to see beautiful girls, car chases, and explosions, it was a sure thing. We're still paying for that today. The guys who went to the movies in the '60s are a generation making movies. The old, safe formula is still around.

I always wondered how 007 was able to get all those chicks, and as I was typing this out it struck me. Of course. "Q", the gadget-maker for British Intelligence, gave 007 a device. Maybe it's a ring. "Now, 007, when you get within range of a beautiful woman you push this button on the side of the ring. A cloud of pheromones will envelop you. By the time the pheromones have worn off you'll be gone, off dodging bullets, racing your Aston Martin down a mountain road, or playing Banco in the casino at Monte Carlo!"

And in every country in the world there are hundreds of James Bond Juniors running around who have never known their father.

When Sean Connery took the role of James Bond in 1962's Dr. No, he was a character actor, but 007 made him a star. He outgrew the role, he was skillful enough, talented enough, and sexy enough to transcend the Bond character, and the silliness of movies like Diamonds Are Forever.

I've got to admit; if I was to have what Connery has at age 79 I'd be modeling for Louis Vuitton, too.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

28 Weeks Later

28 Weeks Later is an extremely paranoid 2007 British film, made as a zombie movie, but also a parable about a pandemic and what happens when a population gets sick and infectious. These are things we'd rather not think about, so 28 Weeks Later--just as star Robert Carlyle does to his wife in the movie--gives us two thumbs in the eyeballs.

What's the scariest thing that can happen to kids? To lose their family, to be on their own, unprotected. In this drama the rage virus that infected London in the predecessor to this film, 28 Days Later, has been eradicated. A green zone, a containment district, has been set up for survivors by the U.S. Army, which is in charge after the collapse of the British government. The rage virus comes from contact, and turns people into instant homicidal maniacs who move fast and hit their random victims hard. Two children, Tammy and Andy, have survived, and are reunited with their dad, Don, played by the great Robert Carlyle. Dad hides the secret that he ran to save his own skin, leaving his wife to infected attackers.

The children miss their mother, and escape from the containment zone to go home, where they find her, a survivor. As we learn, Mum is a carrier of the rage virus, but for some genetic reason doesn't have the disease. Unfortunately--and here's where the real problems begin--she infects her husband, which starts a chain of events that spiral quickly out of control. The rage virus is back, and the only thing to do is eliminate everyone, infected or not, to keep it from getting away from the zone.

Every few years we get a scare about a flu epidemic, like the 1918-19 worldwide epidemic that killed millions. Epidemiologists say it's inevitable we'll have another catastrophic flu epidemic, but it's going on a century and it hasn't yet happened. AIDS popped up and caused a major public scare, but unlike the rage virus of the movie which comes on its victims instantly, AIDS takes up to 10 years to develop from a virus. We're not immune from public health problems (remember SARS in 2003? Remember (shudder) Ebola?) and 28 Weeks Later does a really good job of encapsulating those fears of a disease that runs rampant, for which there is no cure, killing everyone in its path.

The movie doesn't forget it's a movie, though, and operates as a story with beginning, middle and end. The kids, Tammy and Andy, remain the constants while around them the adults who are protecting them change. The dad and mum are replaced by two American soldiers, a sniper who doesn't want to kill innocent civilians, and a female officer/doctor, who wants to preserve the kids because of their genetic traits against the disease. I can't say enough about the performances and the acting, which is superb. Robert Carlyle is always great, but Jeremy Renner as the Army sergeant/sniper and Rose Byrne as Scarlet, the Army doctor, are believable and fit into a category of noble characters I'd call the self-sacrificers. They give up their own lives so that others can live. If I'm ever being pursued by murderous zombies I want Sergeant Doyle and his sniper rifle at my back.

But 28 Weeks Later was sold as a horror movie, a take on the zombie movies of George Romero which have been done and re-done over the past 40 years. 28 Weeks has its blood and gore moments. Zombies have become a whole genre of horror, like vampires or werewolves. Where 28 Weeks Later separates itself from the pack of zombie flicks, is in its respect for the brains of its audience. It's more than just a horror movie: it shows us how quickly society and civilization can fall apart during a crisis, and that we are all just barely this side of anarchy and the complete collapse of society.