Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.



Knocked Up: An Alternative View

Hollywood comedy has a reputation lately for outrageousness taken to extremes, and Judd Apatow's gross-out Knocked Up would be no exception. Apatow switches gears a little here from 40-Year-Old Virgin to twentysomething geek unaware stud, but with a few additional surprises that may thrill some, and creep out others.

Knocked Up dabbles in the improbable loony male-driven fantasy of flabby slacker sex appeal, while taking pot shots at the snobbery of upwardly mobile gorgeous women who wouldn't give them a second look in actual life. And while the movie is somewhat a squaring off between male daydream and female nightmare, there is plenty of equal opportunity ridicule to go around when it comes to dating rituals and occasional marriage hell.

Katherine Heigl is Alison, an ambitious LA television journalist with a bad case of supremely neurotic tendencies. Following her promotion to on-air dream job celebrity schmoozer with the stars, Alison steps out for a night on the town at a trendy club to celebrate. But after getting a little too drunk for her own good, the normally sensible, take charge control freak finds herself in bed the next morning, face to face with the unpleasant oversized naked butt of a guy she hastily picked up while partying hardy. Said butt belongs to Ben (Seth Rogen), a local loser who has never quite mastered the knack of putting on a condom.

After some hasty diplomatic gestures intended to get rid of the boorish jerk as quickly as possible, the totally career-minded, romance-deprived Alison discovers weeks later that she's, well, knocked up. It's not exactly easy tracking down her sole sexual encounter in months, considering they're in the same entertainment business. Sort of. Ben and his uncouth gang of roommates on the seedier side of town think they have the brainy, get-rich-quick, but actually all too common enterprise of putting together a website of Hollywood female superstars in the nude. Alison meanwhile, has resigned herself to the idea of unexpectant motherhood, and is hoping that the repugnant baby's daddy can provide some nurturing support as a parent, hopefully at arm's length from her.

Knocked Up, beneath the frequently foul though far from lame humor, is constructed on an awfully shaky premise, that pending parenthood can act as an aphrodisiac in stimulating both love and lust between an utterly mismatched pair. But the movie makes no bones about its formulation as an indulgence of male wish fulfillment in getting the hottest babe on the block for their very own, while the female protagonist is just plain too domineering, sexually aggressive and borderline cranky and shrewish for her own good. Qualities here that can be nicely toned down while knocked up, with a little maternal instinct both for her new infant and resident man-baby dad tossed into the mix.

So while Knocked Up may stimulate audience subversive shock waves with its brand of humor, beneath the layers of playful vulgarity there's quite an old fashioned family values current gestating around. And an odd message of sorts intimating the discovered delights of unprotected sex heaven.

Prairie Miller

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