Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zack Snyder will film TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER for the WATCHMEN DVD!

Dear Lord... I'm finally starting to believe that Zack Snyder is going to be the one who actually pulls off a Watchmen movie!

Not that I doubted Snyder himself, per se. 300 is still the best movie that I've seen all year and after how he adapted that to film, I was convinced that he could "probably" do a good job helming Watchmen too. The problem is with Watchmen itself: it's such a dense book, that there's no way to do all that story in 2 or 3 hours.

But now my hopes are soaring for the Watchmen movie: Warner Bros. is letting Zack Snyder shoot Tales of the Black Freighter, to include it on the DVD of Watchmen!

So if you've never read Watchmen, here's the skinny: inside the alternate-1985 universe of Watchmen, superhero comics were only big in the Thirties and Forties, before the real-life superheroes started turning up (well in Watchmen anyway). In place of the superhero comics, pirate comics became all the rage. One part of Watchmen's story involves a young man who hangs out at a newsstand, who is reading a pirate comic book called Tales of the Black Freighter. So we see the story in Tales of the Black Freighter interspersed throughout much of the rest of Watchmen, like this...

It's an extremely violent, gory story. And it would have been insanely difficult to put it in the context of the rest of a Watchmen motion picture. But by putting it as a feature on the DVD... that really is the way to go with this. In doing this, Zack Snyder is showing everyone that without a doubt, he "gets" Watchmen.

Can't wait to see this movie! Heck, I can't wait to buy this DVD! :-)

More Ron Paul Jack-o'-Lanterns!

Apparently, Ron Paul is a big theme for Jack-o'-Lanterns this Halloween :-)

Here is one made by im_a_pepper. Look at the amazing level of detail on this pumpkin!

And then there is this one (of two) made by Mustardseed (click to see more photos):

I'm about to go light my own Ron Paul Jack-o'-Lantern (along with that... other thing). They'll be on display on our patio throughout the night. So if you're in Reidsville and are driving around Sherwood Drive, come by and take a looksee!! :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Ron Paul for President Jack-o'-Lantern!

Tonight I set to work on carving a Ron Paul Jack-o'-Lantern, using the pattern that I came up with a few days ago. I've been a longtime admirer of Dr. Paul and I am definitely supporting him for President in next year's election (as I've said here before: I'm voting for Ron Paul or I'm voting for nobody at all). So I thought it would be fun to do something in keeping with the spirit of the holiday for when the trickster-treatsters in the neighborhood come around for candy on Halloween tomorrow night, and do my part in promoting Dr. Paul.

(Here's Ron Paul's official campaign website and I'll also recommend the Ron Paul Forums, where I hang out a lot.)

I started carving it a little before 7 p.m. tonight, and finished just before 9:30. Like the Jack-o'-Lantern I made of local politician and admitted thief Ron Price last night, a lot of the work in this one related to the extra-thick skin that had to be scraped away. But also on this one, the "RON PAUL" letters that I made on the pattern were not very workable. I ended up having to re-design them on the fly, as I was carving them (had to do that carefully 'cuz I did not want to botch up a perfectly good pumpkin :-).

Finally after two and a half hours, here was the finished product...

What does it look like when it's lit-up with a candle? Feat your eyes on this my friends!

And here's what it looks like on our porch...

So... what y'all think? :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Ron Price Jack-o'-Lantern IS ALIVE!!

Just as I threatened to do a few days ago, here is the Ron Price Jack-o'-Lantern. Yes, I actually went ahead with my plan to carve a pumpkin in the likeness of Rockingham County's most larcenous, arrogant and condescending school board member! Ron Price is now immortalized in pumpkin... or at least until the thing starts to rot and decay (to match Price's moral principles).

Here's a shot of it on our kitchen table. Note that Monday Night Live on WGSR is playing in the background. Yup, even in our home, I make darn sure that Price cannot escape the scrutiny of WGSR, which Price once said was "bad for the community" (and click here if you want to hear Price say it himself)...

Here's a shot of the "Ron Price Political Protest Pumpkin" on our front porch...

With a bit of the light inside coming out...

And here it is in total darkness, with a wicked, sinister glow...

In case anyone's wondering, it took me a little over an hour and a half to carve this. Most of the work had to do with the fact that this was a robust pumpkin with a very thick (over an inch) outside, so it took some doing to scrape out the excess material. Ron "the Con"'s mouth and teeth were the hardest thing to carve out. But after a little patience, I can now boast that we have the scariest Jack-o'-Lantern on the entire street :-P

So I gotta wonder: now that I'm being summoned for deposition in Price's lawsuit against the Moores, does this thing up my own chances of getting sued by Ron Price? Probably. I mean, any elected official loco enough to sue a private citizen for (a) wearing a t-shirt and (b) practicing the constitutional right to petition, is capable of doing anything. Which makes it all the more important that we do what we can to knock people like Price off their pedestals. "They" serve us... and no matter how much Ron Price insists that he can get away with it because "I was elected", he's to be held just as accountable as anyone else. Price had the chance to do the right thing and step aside when he was caught stealing. He didn't do that. So now it falls to the rest of us to ridicule him and put him to shame... which he'll have to put up with, since he's a public figure by personal choice.

The pictures are nice, but this really is something that must be seen in person to be believed. The Ron Price Jack-o'-Lantern will be on display every night through Halloween (meaning that after tonight you only have 2 more nights to see it).

Next up: tomorrow night I'm going to carve Ron Price's light-side antithesis: good-guy Presidential candidate Ron Paul!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Company gives iPod battery service that Apple should be providing

I might have to get an iPod now after all.

Numerous times on this blog, I've written about how the biggest thing keeping me from getting an iPod is that they don't have user-replaceable batteries. Which is "bass-ackwards" 'cuz Apple could be making a fortune by selling spare batteries. Because especially with a power-guzzling thing like an iPod (especially in video mode) it makes sense that consumers should be able to slap in a freshly-charged battery during a long plane ride or elsewhere that a power socket isn't readily available. But Apple still seems loathe to take this simple, yet potentially very profitable, measure. Oh sure, Apple does have a battery-replacement program... but it charges around $70 and then they don't even guarantee that you'll get your original iPod back!

Then I happened to find this news story about a company called iPodjuice.com. For $29 you send in your iPod, and the company replaces the worn-out battery. Not only that but you get your original iPod back, along with its contents (that you may or may not have paid for) intact! And supposedly the batteries that iPodjuice.com put in last much longer than the ones that Apple installs. They also service iPhones, and boast of being able to replace the battery and ship the iPhone back on the same day that it was received. iPodjuice.com is so confident of their batteries and service, that they have a ten-year guarantee from the date of purchase.

I won't commit to buying an iPod yet... but knowing that there is a company out there doing what Apple is consciously neglecting to do for its own product, does tantalize me toward possibly purchasing one in the near future. If only Apple wasn't so stubborn about this point: they would no doubt be selling more iPods than they already are.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Let us welcome Abbey Leigh!

Abigail Leigh Feldman, born two days ago to Kimberly and Adam Feldman.

Congratulations to Adam and Kim! Our prayers have definitely been with them the past week... and will no doubt be staying with them.

May God shower all His blessings on them as they embark on their new adventures with sweet Abbey Leigh :-)

(So many births lately. Gotta wonder when Lisa and I will be making our own little contribution to the gene pool, hee-hee-hee... ;-)

"And Nicolas Cage as ... Fu Manchu!"

A great post for the Halloween season! Courtesy of its official Myspace page, here is Werewolf Women of the SS. This is the fake trailer that Rob Zombie made for the recent movie Grindhouse.

Werewolf Women Of The S.S.

Add to My Profile | More Videos

"This is my Mecca!" Hilarious :-)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Final trailer for I AM LEGEND

This is one of two posts that I'll probably be making today. The other will hopefully share some good news. Otherwise, I'm still trying to take a break from blogging.

The final trailer for I Am Legend hit the Internets yesterday...

This is an amazing trailer! And it's really starting to look as if they stayed true to the spirit of the book. Love the music in this trailer: I don't know if that's some of James Newton Howard's score but it evokes a lot of the same feeling as Ron Grainer's music from The Omega Man (which was also based on Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend). And Will Smith here, looks like he's hitting on all the right cylinders as Robert Neville. I'll admit to being a bit taken aback when I heard that Smith was playing Neville (I'll always wonder how Arnold Schwarzenegger would have done with the role) but right now, this looks like it could be one of Smith's best films ever.

Click here to watch it in Quicktime. Or click here to watch it in streaming Flash video.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

eBay auction for Steve Jablonsky-signed copy of TRANSFORMERS: THE SCORE ends today

A friendly reminder in case you've been watching it, that in just less than six hours from now the eBay auction for the copy of Transformers: The Score signed by Transformers composer Steve Jablonsky will be ending.

All proceeds from this auction will be going to benefit music education in Rockingham County (North Carolina) schools.

EDIT 10/26/2007 6:31 a.m. EST: The auction was a great success! The winning bid for the CD was $312.

Thanks again to Transformers composer Steve Jablonsky, and the Transformers fan community which helped spread the word, for doing this to assist with music education here in Rockingham County :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm being deposed by Ron Price

Don't have complete details right now, but here's what I know...

In the next few days I can expect to receive a summons to appear for deposition in the lawsuit that Ron Price has filed against Richard and Debbie Moore.

This means that I'll be sworn in and be asked questions under oath.

The deposition is set for November 15th at 10 a.m. at the Eden office of Price's attorney, Douglas Hux.

I'll post the summons when I receive it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How about a Ron Paul Jack-o'-Lantern instead?

Okay, this will be the last post I make before getting back to my much-needed break from blogging! Because after making and publishing the Ron Price Jack-o'-Lantern pattern, I couldn't in good conscience leave things dangling with something that scary.

So here's a Jack-o'-Lantern pattern of the candidate for President that I'm backing: Ron Paul. Same basic instructions as the original: Click on the image to get it full-sized and print it out. Use pins or tape to secure it to the side of a pumpkin. Then use a Pumpkin Carving Kit from Pumpkin Masters, and do with this as you would do with any other pumpkin pattern.

Happy Halloween! :-)

The Ron Price Jack-o'-Lantern

The only time I plan on breaking my sabbatical... but only because this was too funny not to do and share with the world.

Click on the image to get it full-sized, print it out and follow the directions, feeling free to re-size as desired.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Review of STAR WARS: DEATH STAR by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry


It's a great Star Wars book. I liked it a lot.

Just wanted to let y'all know that if you were thinking of buying it. I'll recommend it.

Going to leave for awhile. I won't be back unless it's either (a) major catastrophe (b) Ron Price does something so cosmically insane that I have to step in again or (c) I'm good and ready to return... which may not be for quite some time.

So 'til then... goodbye goodbye goodbye!

EDIT 4:33 p.m. EST: My sabbatical in no way affects the eBay auction for the copy of Transformers: The Score signed by Steve Jablonsky. I'm just stepping away from the blog for awhile, not the Internet entirely. So I'll still be monitoring this until Thursday when the auction ends :-)

Too much CUJO

It's on right now. Again. This is the seventh or eighth time that Cujo has played on WGSR here in Reidsville during the past few weeks... at least.

After so many times of watching Cujo try to kill Dee Wallace-Stone and that kid from Who's The Boss?, I don't know if I'll ever pet another St. Bernard for as long as I live.

C'mon guys: I know that I've seen Psycho II in there somewhere. Howsabout giving us something new? 'Cuz right now I'm starting to feel like Hawkeye in the "Adam's Ribs" episode of M*A*S*H ...


"WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!"
"WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!"
"WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jenna Olwin's terrific take on the "Dumbledore is gay" thing

Earlier today I relayed the news that surely every Harry Potter fan on Earth has heard by now: that J.K. Rowling has announced that Albus Dumbledore was gay.

In the hours since then I've felt led to contemplate what significance that bit of info is supposed to have (and some of that thinking took place while watching a wedding, of all places). And I thought about posting some more about the subject. But it turns out that I don't have to...

In her unique voice, and with profound wisdom, Jenna Olwin has now weighed in on Rowling's revelation. And there's no way that I could excerpt it here and do it any justice or honor. You'll have to click on the link and read it as an entire thought, the way it should be taken in as an idea. It's quite an impressive read, and definitely recommended if you are of the Judeo-Christian ethic and are still wondering what to make of this... thing.

Excellent work, Jenna! :-)

J.K. Rowling says: Albus Dumbledore is a homosexual!

Okay, this one blows my mind bigtime (and it takes a hella lot to blow this mind)...

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has "outed" Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School and Harry's principle mentor (yeah I know how weird it looks to read that).

Not only was Dumbledore a gay man, but he had an unrequieted love for Gellert Grindelwald: his one-time accomplice in an ill-spirited bid for conquest of the wizard world, before Dumbledore came to his senses and later defeated Grindelwald during World War II.

I honestly don't know what to make of this. It doesn't really take away from the enjoyment of the books themselves, because this was nothing that was ever, ever a part of the story. It could be like Ridley Scott insisting years later that Deckard was himself a Replicant in the movie Blade Runner, when there was nothing indicating that to be the case either. And looking back on the Harry Potter books, even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I'm still not seeing any sexual undertones about Dumbledore at all.

Yet Rowling insists that Dumbledore is a homosexual...

Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.
The article also brings this up...
Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.
Let's just hope that Rowling doesn't answer any questions about what Albus's brother Aberforth is doing with all those goats...

Scammers trying to hijack the eBay action for the Jablonsky-signed TRANSFORMERS Score

Someone... or someones... out there is trying to run a scam involving our auction on eBay for the copy of Transformers: The Score signed by Steve Jablonsky.

Last night, through the item's eBay page, I received a question from Crystal, (which you can read for yourself toward the bottom of the page, just below the big photo of the signed CD). Here's what she told me (and I've put this scammer's name and e-mail address in bold)...

Hi Chris. I got a message through my e-mail from Mr Rhichar (rhichar2dgerer@gmail.com). They said they were you and that I won the CD by default. I figure its a scam. I know you are selling it for a good cause. If you would like I can send you the entire e-mail. I figured it wasn't you. Thought you should know about it. Crystal (aka Uniapeg)
Here's the answer that I gave back to Crystal...
Dear Crystal, That's not me. The only regular e-mail address associated with this auction is my theknightshift@gmail.com one. This dude "Rhichar" is a fraud. If you could, yeah please forward his e-mail to me (again to theknightshift@gmail.com) I'll go over it and might post something accordingly to warn people about this. And thanks!! :-) Take care and God bless, Chris
And earlier this morning Crystal sent me not only the original e-mail from Rhichar but another one from someone who might be a different person. Here's "Rhichar"'s e-mail...
Dear Buyer ,

I'm the seller of the item that you've recently bided through the eBay system.
Item name : Transformers: The Score (CD) signed by Steve Jablonsky Item number: 150172275487 and i`ve just been contacted by the eBay staff who informed me that due to some reasons the eBay policy automatically proclaims you to be the winner by default.
I need your agreement on this so I can contact eBay to confirm you that you're the winner, otherwise I'll relist the item. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but I need an answer asap.
What is your price for my item ?You have oportunity to purchase my item if your offer is resonable for me !!
Waiting for your answer!
Best regards!

And here's the other one that she received, from ardeifoc@ (gmail.comardeifoc@gmail.com)...
I have for sale: Transformers: The Score (CD) signed by Steve Jablonsky Item Number: 150172275487
My price is negociable.
If you are interested just give me a fast reply on this email address and you will find all the info that you want.
Thank You For your Time
Okay well obviously, these aren't from me. And the only way to contact me about this auction is through either the CD's eBay page or through my real e-mail address which is theknightshift@gmail.com. It's only through those two that there'll be any correspondence from this end (the one holding the actual CD) about the auction.

And the only party that is getting this CD is the one that wins the auction and pays the money for it. There won't be anything shady or underhanded going on involving it, and that's why I'm posting this right now: to warn others that there are some bad people out there trying to unfairly profit from it. And to reaffirm - if it needed it - that this auction is one for a good cause and because of that, I'm full-blown committed to keeping everything above the boards and open to scrutiny.

With all of that in mind, I hope that this can remain a fun and memorable lil' event :-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Interview with MANDIE AND THE SECRET TUNNEL cast at Chinqua-Penn

A few weeks ago this blog reported on Mandie and the Secret Tunnel, a new movie now filming at Chinqua-Penn Plantation near Reidsville. It stars Dean Jones, Lexi Johnson, Amanda Waters, and William Yelton. Matt Smith from Reidsville TV station WGSR attended the press conference this week with the cast and he posted the broadcast interview on YouTube. Here 'tis, and great work Matt!

Here's the skinny on those staph/MRSA stories in the Rockingham County schools

All afternoon numerous reports have been forwarded to The Knight Shift about "confirmed" staph infections - and particularly MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) - running loose throughout the Rockingham County Schools system. This is of especially serious concern in light of numerous cases of MRSA that have been confirmed in Forsyth and Yadkin counties. And word is just coming down the wire that a student at George Washington High School in Danville has been diagnosed with MRSA. So what's going down our way?

I called up the office of Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Rodney Shotwell earlier this afternoon, to see what he knows. I didn't get to talk to Dr. Shotwell but a very short while later I got a call from Rockingham County Schools spokeswoman Jean Steverson. And this is what the good lady told me...

There are no confirmed MRSA cases in Rockingham County school at this point in time. That doesn't mean that there aren't cases, however. Steverson said that MRSA isn't something that a medical doctor is required to formally report. But as things stand right now, there is no need to panic. Just precaution, Steverson emphasized. Doing things like washing hands on a regular basis, and taking care to bandage open wounds and taking steps to make sure that there is no contact with open bodily tissue (blood, mucous etc.). Steverson also said that the custodial staff at the schools are taking extra precautions to sanitize exposed surfaces with anti-MRSA disinfectants. Athletic departments are also being advised to practice caution.

We talked a bit about how this thing is much like polio: even though polio is a virus, it needs physical contact to get around. It's not like this is an airborne pathogen, like this is "Captain Trips" from Stephen King's The Stand. So long as we tell the kids to be careful, and that we do likewise, we should be cool.

But being cautious is a far cry from paranoia. It's good to be aware and with that in mind, here's a data sheet about MRSA from North Carolina Public Health...

An automated message from Dr. Shotwell is also going out to the phone numbers of all the homes of students and faculty, advising them about the MRSA concerns and relaying the measures being taken to control possible outbreak. In fact, we just got our call in the past few minutes. So you might wanna keep the phone handy for awhile.

And that's everything that we know at this hour.


"DON'T PANIC!"

Chuck Baldwin slams Bob Jones III for prostitution of principles

As was written about here a few days ago, earlier this week Bob Jones III - the head of Bob Jones University - came out in support of Mitt Romney for President. I had a few things to say about it then.

And now Chuck Baldwin has a lot more to say about it and he does it better than I ever could.

In his latest article, "Bob Jones Dances With The Devil", Baldwin goes at length as to why it is wrong for any sincere Christian to support Romney (and not it has nothing to do with Romney being a Mormon). But here's where he really nails how bad Jones has become...

Folks, here is the problem: Christian leaders such as Bob Jones III have succumbed to the temptation to become glorified politicians. They surrendered their convictions thirty years ago when the old Moral Majority married the Republican Party. Ever since then, Republican politicians have made a living by making dupes out of the so-called Religious Right.

There is another problem: our so-called Christian "leaders" crave attention. They desire notoriety. They are obsessed with having access to power. They want a seat at the king's table. As a result, they are willing to believe the lies being told them by shrewd and cunning frauds--as long as they are Republicans, of course. As Doc Holliday said in the movie Tombstone, "My hypocrisy only goes so far."

Accordingly, our Christian "leaders" will never promote a man's candidacy on principle alone. They want to pick a "winner." They want to be on the good side of the last guy standing--even if that guy is a no-good, compromising louse.

If you want to know where the real Christian leadership is in America, it's not found at Bob Jones University or at Focus on the Family. It's found with people like Chuck Baldwin and the rest of that curious group sometimes known as "the Remnant". These are the ones that I would associate with more than any other "faction", if they might count me among their number.

It's not a popular message, but it's one that history has proven to be highly accurate over the millennia: Give up your lust for power. Don't just kill it, but crucify it with all your strength. Destroy it, lest it destroy you in time.

Because is it really worth selling-out who we are in Christ, for a tiny share of a world that is passing away?

Hey, I can do "quiet repose" too! And someone else comments on Ron Price

My friend Tilly Gokbudak posted a really nice comment on his blog recently, and I just had to share it here...
Lastly, my friend Christopher Knight of Reidsville, NC, has a quaint photo of himself visiting Natural Bridge near Lexington, Va. I was shocked by the stunning simplicity of this photo because Knight became a virtual overnight household name in the Triad for his great over-the-top tv spots which spoofed "Star Wars." The ads were part of Knight's campaign for the Rockingham County school board last year. They were even featured in an article in "The New York Times!"
Tilly is talking about the profile photo that is currently on my Facebook page. Here it is, taken in late August at Natural Bridge in Virginia...

Tilly also adds in this comment...

Alas, he did not win the election, but no one outside of the county knows who Ron Price** is anyway.

(**-one of the election winners)

Y'know, Tilly touches on a good morality lesson here. I mean, I didn't win election, but I was honest and I stayed true to myself even though I knew it might not garner enough votes... but look at all the good that still happened in the past year. While Ron Price was dishonest about who he really was and though he may have won a seat, how many people outside of Rockingham County really know anything about him? And it's not like he's earned any respect here, is it?

The lesson here is: be honest, especially about who you really are. It's not worth losing that to try to gain some power, which you will eventually lose anyway.

Be true to who God made you to be, and trust in Him to do amazing things that you can't begin to imagine.

TRANSFORMERS: THE SCORE charts on Billboard in debut week despite limited store release

NOW can we see a wider release for this thing?

After its first week out, Transformers: The Score, Steve Jablonsky's orchestral soundtrack for the blockbuster movie, has debuted at #172 on the Billboard 200 chart and is #13 on Billboard's Top Soundtracks. This comes in spite of what MTV has noted was a limited store release with about 4300 scans at the cash registers.

Meanwhile, the Transformers score CD continues to do well at Amazon, where it is now #39 in overall music (having increased in rank in the past few days) and is currently #5 in soundtracks.

Someone... probably a lot of someones... at Warner Brothers Records needs to very strongly consider getting this thing out to a lot more outlets. They are sitting on a goldmine with this CD and the demand is only going to get bigger now that the DVD is out and folks who didn't see Transformers during its theatrical release will be just now discovering both the movie and its beautiful orchestral soundtrack.

Don't make us have to start up another online petition now ;-)

Thanks to Transformer World 2005 and Seibertron.com for the heads-up!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Deborah Kerr and Joey Bishop have passed away

Some sad news to report tonight...

Deborah Kerr, the star of The King And I and From Here To Eternity, has died. She was 86.

And Joey Bishop, the last member of the legendary "Rat Pack" which also included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford, has also passed away at the age of 89.

Robot cannon malfunctions, kills 9

According to this story on Wired (which I first found via Slashdot), a robotic cannon being tested by the South African military went haywire last week and started shooting at everything on its own. Nine people died and fourteen others were wounded.

Here's some of the account...

SA National Defence Force spokesman brigadier general Kwena Mangope says the cause of the malfunction is not yet known...

Media reports say the shooting exercise, using live ammunition, took place at the SA Army's Combat Training Centre, at Lohatlha, in the Northern Cape, as part of an annual force preparation endeavour.

Mangope told The Star that it “is assumed that there was a mechanical problem, which led to the accident. The gun, which was fully loaded, did not fire as it normally should have," he said. "It appears as though the gun, which is computerised, jammed before there was some sort of explosion, and then it opened fire uncontrollably, killing and injuring the soldiers."

Other reports have suggested a computer error might have been to blame. Defence pundit Helmoed-Römer Heitman told the Weekend Argus that if “the cause lay in computer error, the reason for the tragedy might never be found."

So much for Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics :-(

Or maybe not...


"Please put down your weapon. You have twenty seconds to comply."

Can you hear this?

Chris Fettig found something really kewl. It's a 2006 story from National Public Radio about a special high-frequency sound - which most teenagers can hear but not most adults - that storekeepers in Great Britain have been using to keep young people from loitering in their stores. Well, now the kids are using that same sound as a ringtone on their cellphones... which lets them know while in class that they've a text message. The teachers can't hear it but the teens can!

Well, supposedly adults can't hear this. Because I'm in my early thirties and I've heard it clear as a bell every time that I've played this: it's a very high-pitch buzzing sound that might give you a headache if you listen to it for too long. Want to try it for yourself? Take a listen to it right here!

HELLRAISER remake coming and the HELLBOY II site launches

This is gonna be one heckuva post about upcoming movies :-P

A remake of Hellraiser is in the works, according to this story at the Hollywood Reporter. Two French filmmakers will be writing and directing it, supposedly with the full blessing of Clive Barker: the creator and director of the first Hellraiser movie.

Hmmmm... what to make of this? I though that the Hellraiser movies had a great first two installments. There was tons of potential for development and exploration. And then the series tried to become too much like every other horror movie franchise that existed at the time. They tried to turn Pinhead into another "slasher" like Freddy or Jason, when Pinhead was something much more than that.

Personally, I'd like to see a "relaunch" for the Hellraiser franchise like what Superman Returns did, acknowledging the first two movies at least and then for Barker and crew to redevelop Hellraiser along the lines of the 1990s Epic comics... which were really cool! Hellraiser: Bloodline evoked some of that sense of broad mythology. With a bigger budget (among other things), that would be a great direction to take this series into.

And on the more heroic side of cinema, the website for Hellboy II: The Golden Army has just opened in the past few days. I loved the first movie and Guillermo del Toro has become one of my favorite filmmakers. Can't wait to see this one when it comes out next year :-)

Review of TRANSFORMERS on DVD: 2-Disc Special Edition and that Wal-Mart exclusive

It's a funny thing: I've been so wound-up about the release of Transformers: The Score last week, after months of crusading for the thing, that when the actual movie came out on DVD a few days ago it was something that I had almost overlooked! I'm still ransacking the music shelves at all the local stores for the score CD, by the way: it's still not turning up anywhere. I may have to break down and get it off of Amazon, which I'd rather not do only because I like picking stuff off of shelves and ringing it up at the register. But Amazon really is a terrific place to find stuff especially if you can't locate it on your own, so that might have to be the route to go. In the meantime, the copy that Steve Jablonsky sent is still not being played, out of solidarity with everyone else who can't buy it in stores.

(But if you want a copy of Transformers: The Score signed by composer Steve Jablonsky to call your very own, remember the eBay auction we've got going on right now, with all proceeds going to benefit music education in Rockingham County schools.)

So Transformers came out in multiple packaging on DVD (and on HD-DVD) on Tuesday. I went to the Wal-Mart Supercenter here in Reidsville at quarter-'til 1 that morning, hoping to get the 2-Disc Special Edition. Wal-Mart didn't have that: only the regular one-disc version, and the one-disc packed with the Wal-Mart-exclusive Transformers: Beginnings, which is a 20-minute "prequel" to the movie. I really wanted the 2-disc edition with the bonus features, but since Transformers: Beginnings is something that I was wanting to check out anyway I bought the Wal-Mart exclusive version. And then later on Tuesday after doing some business in Burlington I went to Best Buy there and got the Special Edition. So I have two DVDs of Transformers here. And despite how cool my friend Eric Wilson tells me it is, I won't be getting the Target-exclusive set that has a box that transforms into Optimus Prime: Lisa has expressly forbidden any more Transformers DVDs to come into the house :-P

The Transformers 2-Disc Special Edition DVD is, in my opinion, the way to go so far as the home version of this movie goes. Disc 1 is the film itself, and this is one of the best-looking DVDs that I've ever watched. We have a 37-inch LCD high-definition television with a Philips DVP 5960 DVD player that "upconverts" standard DVDs for high-def sets. It's not true high-definition, but the picture quality has never been anything short of outstanding. Well, Transformers even from a regular DVD looks fabulous. The colors are bright, the image is crisp and the detail is remarkable. A lot of people complained about how in Transformers when it hit theaters, that a lot of the action sequences were way too blurry. For some reason the faster scenes (like the final battle in Mission City) really do seem much easier on the eyes on the DVD than they were on the big screen. The audio quality was likewise terrific. But as I'm still content to use the speakers built-into the television (no, we've yet to put in a Surround Sound setup in our place :-) I've no way of telling how "really" good this might be. But based on what I've heard from others, the audio from the Transformers DVD on more elaborate setups is pretty amazing. All told, Transformers stands tall as one of the finest titles that I've experienced in the DVD format.

Disc 1 of the Special Edition set also includes the option to watch the movie with commentary by director Michael Bay, which is interesting enough just to listen to his initial account about how he got involved with Transformers. The one-disc version doesn't have the Bay commentary, but otherwise it's identical in image and sound quality to the 2-disc set, right down to the same basic menus.

Disc 2 in the Transformers Special Edition is the bonus features, which is broken up into a number of sections. "Our World" delves into the more human-performance aspects of the making of Transformers, including the cast, stunts, physical effects and the logistics that came with shooting around the United States and making it look like a globe-spanning conflict. "Their War" is a lot of fun to watch for two big reasons: the computer-rendered artwork that brought the Transformers to life, and the extent of cooperation that Bay and his crew received from the United States military. "More Than Meets The Eye" contains a feature on the making of the Scorponok attack scene (his name is spelled "Skorponok" on the DVD features), conceptual art and a collection of trailers for the movie, from the original teaser up to the one that came out a few months before the movie's release in July.

There's 2-some hours of extra features on the bonus disc, which I thought really enhanced the overall enjoyment and appreciation of the movie itself. My only beef with the 2-Disc Special Edition is that it doesn't contain deleted scenes in the traditional sense of most 2-disc DVD sets. If you saw the IMAX release then you know that there are about six scenes (none of which really feature the Transformers themselves by the way) that weren't in the regular theatrical run. I didn't expect them to be include in the movie itself, but for the most part they were fun enough to merit featuring as bonus material on the second disc. Sadly, they aren't here, although we do see a couple of them during the "making of" segments. There is also some additional footage of the Transformers in action, like one shot of Devastator rolling down a highway in tank mode, but no real "deleted scenes" feature. I would love to see another DVD release of Transformers in the near future that did have these things, maybe even with some of this stuff integrated into the movie itself as a true "extended cut", because I definitely believe the market is there for it.

And so far as the two-DVD pack that's the Wal-Mart exclusive goes, which also gives you Transformers: Beginnings... if you're a Transformers "completist", I would recommend getting it. But otherwise, go for the 2-disc Special Edition. Transformers: Beginnings is a 20-minute "faux"-animated adaptation of the Transformers: Prime Directives prequel comic that Dreamwave published leading up to the film's release. That story revealed how the Allspark was first jettisoned into space, then how Megatron went after it (following his grievously wounding Bumblebee's voicebox) and eventually came to Earth, where the history of the Transformers became intertwined with that of humanity. If you want the full tale of how Captain Witwicky discovered the frozen Megatron and the origins of Sector Seven, and then how Bumblebee arrived on Earth with the Decepticons in close pursuit, you'll like this exclusive DVD (in spite of some inconsistencies with the movie's canon). It's also worth noting that the voice acting is terrific in this animated short, especially with Frank Welker back as the voice of Megatron (Welker was Megatron in the original 1980s cartoon). But if you only need one DVD sitting on your shelf and don't really care for intricate backstory, the 2-Disc Special Edition is the better deal. I'm the kind of guy who is going to like having Transformers: Beginnings there anyway though, but that'll hopefully give you enough to decide if you want to spend some extra coin for it.

Transformers on DVD is a sweet lil' package, and it's pretty cool that they were able to put it together so relatively fast (the film is still playing in some theaters even). Definitely worth getting 'cuz this is one movie that you'll no doubt enjoy many time in years to come.

Continuing "stop loss" shows lack of respect for military on part of Bush White House

The United States Army will continue its program of "stop loss" to keep personnel close to retirement or re-enlistment from leaving, so as to keep up President Bush's "surge" in Iraq.

Which only indicates to me that Bush has no understanding or sense of respect at all for the lives of our soldiers.

These men and women have lost enough already for Bush's private little war. Too many of them have already lost their homes back in the states, many have lost spouses. A few have even committed suicide.

And yet, the damaged little boy in the White House continues to play with their lives as if they were so many G.I. Joe dolls.

Y'know, for all the "God bless our troops" that I've seen over the past six years, I have to wonder how much not just this President, but a lot of Americans seriously value the men and women in our armed forces. Because these people offered to volunteer years of their lives - which could have been spent doing other things like pursuing career and family - to serve their country. And they did so having faith that we would honor their commitment by choosing how to wisely employ them.

Instead their lives are getting wasted. Not just in the battlefield but by sapping away at what's left to them when they come back. And yet somehow, to question this is to be branded "unpatriotic" in some quarters.

The more patriotic thing to do would be to remember that these men and women did not willingly choose to become "second class citizens" by virtue of their offer to serve, so that the rest of us could sit on our butts and wave American flags and "feel good" about blowing stuff up half a world away.

But then, we have a President who has never really been confronted with that kind of pain and death. He doesn't know. He's never understood what that's like.

We have a very foolish man, who has no comprehension of the real meaning of life, occupying the Oval Office and who believes that other people have no other purpose than to help him live out his fantasies.

Meanwhile, our good men and women in the military are being robbed of what good reality they could have made with the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ron Price is a monument to all our sins

I really hate to say this, but righteous anger is something that has always helped me feel more creative so far as parody goes. If there's something wrong out there in the world, I do what I can to point it out and try to make it right, using whatever talent that God has given me... and in a way that I hope will make people both laugh and think about things.

So now that Rockingham County Board of Education member Ron Price is apparently trying to start-up the school uniforms thing again, my creative juices have gone into overdrive. A lot of ideas have come to mind in the past day or so regarding the Piedmont's #1 larcenous elected official.

Here's my latest work: Ron Price as the Gravemind in a piece inspired by the Halo video game series...

It was a bit hard to do, because Gravemind is one of the most undefinable objects that I've ever seen in a visual medium (no I haven't played Halo 3 yet so maybe he'll look better in that). But I still like how this turned out. And since Gravemind is the power-hungry, conniving central conscience of the Flood, I thought that the parallel to Ron Price was all the more appropriate :-)

J.K. Rowling opens up bigtime on Christian inspiration for Harry Potter

Perhaps more so than she has ever done since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling has started talking about the deeper theological meaning of her runaway bestselling books... and especially the profound Christian underpinnings that only really came into focus with the final novel of the Harry Potter series. Here's the story at MTV.com.

Among the highlights...

But if she was worried about tipping her hand narratively in the earlier books, she clearly wasn't by the time Harry visits his parents' graves in Chapter 16 of "Deathly Hallows," titled "Godric's Hollow." On his parents' tombstone he reads the quote "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," while on another tombstone (that of Dumbledore's mother and sister) he reads, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

While Rowling said that "Hogwarts is a multifaith school," these quotes, of course, are distinctly Christian. The second is a direct quote of Jesus from Matthew 6:19, the first from 1 Corinthians 15:26. As Hermione tells Harry shortly after he sees the graves, his parents' message means "living beyond death. Living after death." It is one of the central foundations of resurrection theology.

Which makes it a perfect fit for Harry, said Rowling, who was talking about those quotes for the very first time.

"They're very British books, so on a very practical note Harry was going to find biblical quotations on tombstones," Rowling explained. "[But] I think those two particular quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric's Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomize the whole series."

Rowling also addresses the numerous religious detractors - who have all too often claimed the same Christian faith that she holds to - who have condemned the Harry Potter books over the years...
That, by the author's own acknowledgement, "Harry Potter" deals extensively with Christian themes may be somewhat ironic, considering that many Christian leaders have denounced the series for glamorizing witchcraft. When he was known simply as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Pope himself condemned the books, writing that their "subtle seductions, which act unnoticed ... deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly."

For her part, Rowling said she's proud to be on numerous banned-book lists. As for the protests of some believers? Well, she doesn't take them as gospel.

"I go to church myself," she declared. "I don't take any responsibility for the lunatic fringes of my own religion."

And there's plenty more at the link above. Thanks to Roxanne L. Martin for this great find! :-)

ANOTHER petition for a Steve Jablonsky soundtrack CD!

Found this one over at Hans-Zimmer.com. This time it's for a score album for Desperate Housewives, which Jablonsky does a lot of the music for.

Click here to let your voice be heard in support of this CD! :-)

Robotic "bugs" might be spying on you


Eric Wilson passed along this... strange... story: apparently there are teeny-tiny robotic cameras that are flying around disguised as bugs. And they seem to have already begun to be deployed...
Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.

"I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those,' " the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects."

Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.

"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Others think they are, well, dragonflies -- an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look.

Eric has a great idea: "Now this might be a good way to incorporate Insecticons into a Transformers sequel w/o being hokey!!" :-)

For the rest of the story mash down here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bob Jones III says "This is all about beating Hillary"

Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina and grandson of the founder, has endorsed Mitt Romney for President.

Which I don't particularly have a problem with. Dr. Jones is free to endorse whoever he wants to for President.

Here's where he goes totally wrong...

"This is all about beating Hillary," Jones said.
What a wonderful Christ-like sentiment that Dr. Jones is expressing here. And yes, I am being sarcastic.

You know, so-called "Christian leaders" like Dr. Jones just don't get it. They haven't bothered to understand that not in a million years can they claim America for Christ. Because they can't even let Christ take claim over their own hearts and minds. Christ cannot change America anymore than we let Him change us first.

And that is something that people like Dr. Jones refuse to do at all. To them, Christ is something to wield as a weapon to make others yield. When instead a relationship with Christ is supposed to break us down and make us yield to God, so that we become what He wants us to be.

That is how it is that in the name of God, people like Bob Jones III and James Dobson and too many others have lost sight of how they are to serve Christ, and instead have turned His name into something to use for political power.

And it's something that completely disgusts me.

If nothing else, Bob Jones III is showing that he is worse than a fool: he is a willing slave, who cannot resist the patterns of this world.

And he wants us to believe he's some great witness for Christ, for this?

Ron Price tells student she has "misunderstanding", is "dead serious" about bringing back uniforms issue

Time for another hair-rending chapter in the can't-end-soon-enough chronicles of...

Ron Price

As was reported here last Monday night, at this month's meeting of the Rockingham County Board of Education, Ron Price - who almost a year ago was caught stealing campaign signs on the night before the election and has since gone on to become the most arrogant and condescending school board member at least since consolidation took place 14 years ago - tried to get the board to put Standard Mode Of Dress (SMOD) aka "school uniforms" back on the table for discussion. Because there should be "policies" already in place if SMOD is ever approved, Price tried to explain.

In spite of everything that happened at the July meeting, Price actually had the nerve to bring up SMOD again. For sake of "guidelines" he claimed.

But is Ron Price insane enough to try to once again force this on parents and students?

It seems so, according to what Brittany Gibson - a student at Reidsville High and one of the members of POTSMOD (People Opposed To Standard Mode Of Dress) - has told me. Last night Gibson was at the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners meeting and Ron Price happened to be there. She gave me permission to post her e-mails here so I'll let her put it in her own words...

Hey Chris,
This is the response I got back from Ron Price. Pretty much he tried to make me sound like I didn't understand the board's July 9th vote and the Constitution. We both know better than that! I went to the County Commissioner's meeting last night and he and I had a little "run in." It wasn't pleasant. He is dead serious about bringing SMOD back and I'm not having it! Please forward this to POTSMOD and let them know. Hope all is well with you!
Thanks, Brittany
Here is the original e-mail that Gibson sent to Ron Price after last week's meeting...
Dear Mr. Price,

After tonight's meeting, you have raised a few questions for me. First of all, I don't understand why SMOD was added to tonight's agenda. Did you add this? I wasn't present, but one of the members of the audience that was there said that you added it to the agenda. Let me be frank, I feel like this is a very sneaky thing to do. I don't understand why it's necessary to ever talk about this subject again. The board voted to not have uniforms now or ever -- to my knowledge. I, along with many others, spent a lot of time and energy getting rid of the horrible idea of uniforms. I vividly remember Mr. Scales saying that he never wanted to discuss this subject again as long as he was on this board. I just feel like this is beating a dead horse. There doesn't need to be a policy in place "just in case" SMOD is brought up again because I may be seriously mistaken but, I find it highly ironic that after everything concerning SMOD has calmed down and I'm the only person still regularly attending board events, that it's being talked about once more. I feel that the subject needs to be dropped now and forever. I have a great deal of respect for the board and for adults in general, but events like tonight make me very leery of trusting some of the board members. Please e-mail me as soon as possible to clear the air. What are your intentions/reasons for bringing this up once again? What else is there to discuss if the board has agreed to not have uniforms--ever? Thanks for your time!

Thanks,
Brittany Gibson

And here is the e-mail that Ron Price sent to Brittany Gibson in response...
Dear Ms. Gibson,

Thank you for writing your questions about SMOD at the October 8 board meeting. After reading your message I understand why you have a few questions. I think these questions are due to your misunderstanding about the vote on SMOD. The vote was to rescind the vote to implement SMOD. As far as SMOD being permanently voted out that is not legal under the constitutional. We cannot foretell the future and cannot know if this issue will ever be brought up again. If it is the school district needs to have guidelines in place for those considering such a question.

It is a testament to our democratic system of governance that issues can be brought up more than once. Such is the freedom of speech and a basic right guaranteed under the Constitution, we must allow both those whom we agree with and those we do not, to have an equal opportunity to speak freely.

I will be sure to keep your views in mind should the Board of Education consider SMOD in the future.

Sincerely,

Ron Price

Has there ever been an elected official in Rockingham County history who shows this much condescension toward his constituents than does Ron Price?

"I think these questions are due to your misunderstanding about the vote on SMOD." What's to misunderstand, Price? The initial vote was based on very erroneous and some have even said fraudulent data... and you showed everyone how much you thought about them when you continued to champion SMOD in spite of knowing that.

"As far as SMOD being permanently voted out that is not legal under the constitutional." Here Price is making a thinly-veiled show of his sense of power. It's very much in keeping with the mindset he has displayed for almost a year now: that he believes that because "I was elected" (his exact words to one person), that this is some kind of divine anointment that he can do... pretty much anything he damned well pleases.

"We cannot foretell the future and cannot know if this issue will ever be brought up again." In other words: Ron Price has every intention to bring it up again. He's just trying to put his ducks in a row so that he won't take flack for when it does come up again (at his urging no doubt).

"If it is the school district needs to have guidelines in place for those considering such a question." No, the school district doesn't need these guidelines. Price just "needs" to look like a big-shot and this is a chance for him to throw his weight around.

I learned a long time ago that one of the most worthless things on Earth is a bureaucrat who has nothing better to do than to "look important". In that regard, Ron Price is not only the worst member of the Rockingham County Board of Education, but the most worthless, too.

And then there's this lil' line: "It is a testament to our democratic system of governance that issues can be brought up more than once. Such is the freedom of speech and a basic right guaranteed under the Constitution, we must allow both those whom we agree with and those we do not, to have an equal opportunity to speak freely."

Who the hell does Ron Price think he is, that he can lecture anyone about the Constitution? The Constitution is about the rule of law and Ron Price has demonstrated that he believes in anything but that. In his mind, right and wrong are a matter of personal perspective: it doesn't really matter to Price that he stole things that did not belong to him. It only matters that he was able to skirt around the law and get away with it. To Ron Price, the Constitution is something that he can freely interpret at his choosing to the detriment of anything... or anyone... else.

I hope this is all taken to heart by the parents and students of Rockingham County: what Reidsville Middle and Reidsville High families just went through, you're probably going to have to be preparing to fight SMOD too, 'cuz Ron Price already seems bound and determined to bring it back one way or another.

To the members of the Rockingham County Board of Education who I know and respect, and who I believe read this blog on a routine basis: there's a mad dog in your midst that needs to be effectively neutered before he does some damage. He doesn't care about what he does to other people. His only concern is for himself. This is the worst possible kind of "public servant" and you would do well to minimize the destruction that he can do not only to we in the public, but to you as well.

Thanks to Brittany Gibson for letting me post this here.

As for SMOD well, I'll repeat what I cried out last week...

"There is one SMOD, and Ron Price is its prophet!

POTSMOD ACKBAR!!!"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Steve Jablonsky-signed copy of TRANSFORMERS: THE SCORE eBay auction is ON!

Here we go fast and furious: the copy of Transformers: The Score signed by composer Steve Jablonsky has just been listed on eBay!

Bidding starts at $25. Along with the signed CD of the Transformers orchestral soundtrack, you get a Certificate of Authenticity (I spent hours last night trying to figure out the right way to make that out, then wound up going for a pretty-much straightforward affair) verifying that this thing is what it claims to be and why we're auctioning it. And just for fun, I'm gonna throw in a copy of the online petition - signed by Yours Truly - that may or may not have helped matters along but it sure seems to have raised a stink over the summer, didn't it? :-P

100% of the proceeds from this sale will be going to help fund some music education projects in the public schools here in Rockingham County, North Carolina. When I first pitched this idea to Steve Jablonsky, what I'd had in mind was to help fund this coming spring's Rockingham All-County Chorus, 'cuz at the time the word was that there wasn't going to be much funding for it. Happily, we don't have to worry about that anymore. But there are still all kinds of things related to music education here that the schools could use some help on: like purchasing new instruments, and possibly some assistance in funding next year's All-County Chorus. I did make sure to tell Steve about the changed situation and he gave us his blessing to use the money from this, however we can to help music education here. So that's what we're gonna do, however it is that we can :-)

I can't begin to say how thankful we are to Steve Jablonsky, that he's helping us out like this.

Okay well... what are you waiting for?!? Hit the link above and feel free to oggle the goods. And to bid on it if you feel so led :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Review of THE ASTRONAUT FARMER

Tonight Lisa and I watched The Astronaut Farmer. I didn't know too much about this movie going in other than a very basic premise, and that it stars Billy Bob Thornton. And I'd heard some good about it, so we checked it out.

The Astronaut Farmer is one of the bigger delights that I have discovered via Netflix lately. It's about Charlie Farmer (Thornton), an aeronautical engineer who was once headed into a promising career as a NASA astronaut. That was before he had to put his dreams on hold when his father died and left him the family ranch in Texas. So Charlie does what he can to keep the farm and pay off the bank, along with his wife Audie (Virginia Madsen) and three children (Max Thieriot, Jasper Polish, and Logan Polish). But Charlie Farmer hasn't given up on his dream to someday fly into space...

...so with help from his family, he begins to build a full-sized, working replica of a Mercury-Atlas rocket in his barn. Complete with manned space capsule.

The story really gets going when the FBI, FAA, CIA and every other government spook agency descend on the Farmer homestead after they get wind that Charlie is attempting to purchase ten thousand pounds of fuel for his rocket. Herein is the biggest parable of The Astronaut Farmer: that we shouldn't let anything come in the way of our dreams... much less bureacrats who have nothing better to do than to come up with ways to tell us "no you can't". At one point Charlie and his lawyer (played by Tim Blake Nelson) are talking about how the PATRIOT Act lets the government do anything they want in the name of "homeland security", and how it's quashing the freedom of average Americans. An FAA head official (J.K. Simmons in a great bit of casting) at one point tells Charlie that there'll be ballistic retaliation if he attempts to launch his homemade rocket. Even Charlie's old friend and NASA astronaut Doug Masterson (Bruce Willis in an uncredited role) tries to dissuade Charlie from his dream. And then the worthless busybodies at Child Protective Services threaten to take the Farmer children away.

But Charlie won't hear any of it. This is what he's wanted to do all of his life, and if can't have this... if he can't inspire his children with his dream... then what good is he?

It's not entirely a perfect movie (the middle can be a bit plodding) but Charlie's perseverance at being an astronaut while also trying to keep both his family and his farm solvent makes for a great lil' yarn for our times. The special effects are also rather good and as a longtime student of the space effort, I found a lot of historical and technical accuracy in this movie too (okay, there are a few things that I couldn't help noticing, but those can be forgiven for sake of drama).

The Astronaut Farmer was directed by Michael Polish, who co-wrote the script alongside his twin brother Mark Polish. Greatly recommended especially if you want a fun tale about a regular guy who tells the government to butt-out so that he can do what makes him happy.

Star Wars Trumpet Girl!

In case anyone's wondering, this is not like the "Star Wars kid" video. That was cruel and tasteless, because the young man in question never went looking for that kind of attention. That's something that still bothers me to this day, that it happened.

This video is altogether different. Entering a contest like this makes you a public figure and whatever you choose to do on stage, it becomes wide-open for observation and scrutiny. That's just the nature of the beast. In this case, this young lady opted to perform the "Star Wars theme" on a trumpet, while clad in a black unitard with silver-fringed sleeves.

Here she is: "Star Wars Trumpet Girl"!

Food, flames and fun at Arigato Japanese Steakhouse

Last night Lisa and I joined my parents and my sister Anita for dinner at Arigato Japanese Steakhouse in Greensboro, to celebrate Anita's birthday. This was the second time we've been to Arigato and whenever we've gone there, we've beheld quite a show. Chef Nawh (shown at left during one of the evening's more spectacular moments) thrilled us not only with his outstanding cooking, but with his quick wit and displays of culinary acrobatics. The theatricality of the chefs is one of the things that I've come to look for most whenever I'm gauging a Japanese steakhouse, and at Arigato they do not disappoint. Indeed, I think that Arigato's chefs are among the most colorful in the entire area. That alone is worth a visit.

And the food is outstanding, too! Last night I ordered chicken, with all three kinds of sauce - white, mustard and ginger - to sample from. The first time I was at Arigato I ordered well-done steak. They are both to be recommended. But be warned: at Arigato they really pile on the food! In two times going there I haven't seen anyone who actually consumed everything on their plate. They give you lots of main entrée, lots of rice, lots of other vegetables... so much food that I don't think the waiter even bothered to ask us if we wanted boxes to take all this stuff home, he just brought them straight out (the service is terrific too).

If there's one thing that I would love to see the good folks at Arigato do that could be an improvement, it would be that they should offer some kind of dessert. There's one dish in particular that I've seen a lot of Japanese steakhouses feature for dessert, that is this bananas and cinnamon concoction and it's really tasty. I'm not suggesting that Arigato go that particular route for dessert, but something along those lines would be a wonderful way to wrap-up such a nice meal.

Arigato Japanese Steakhouse is located at 1200 S. Holden Road in Greensboro (practically smack at the midpoint between Holden's intersections with High Point Road and Wendover Avenue, if that helps any).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

TRANSFORMERS score CD news: ScoreNotes.com review, Amazon and store availability, and update on the signed copy eBay auction

There's not nearly as much news about Transformers: The Score as I wish I could relay to y'all tonight. But here 'tis...

First, word is that Warner Records is still "scrambling" to distribute the score CD. Someone told me that this past week was something of "a shock" regarding demand for this album.

Amazon is still reflecting the shortage. Earlier on Friday morning the site said that it would again be in stock on October 20th. Right now it's saying that the product "Usually ships within 1 to 3 weeks" although some who ordered the CD this past week said on Friday that they received e-mails from Amazon stating that their orders are either about to ship or are already on their way. As of this writing according to Amazon's product page for Transformers: The Score it is holding strong at #35 in music sales and #4 in movie soundtracks. That category, for some reason or another, also includes the soundtracks for Halo 3 and Twin Peaks Season 2, and The Best of the Three Tenors(?!?).

None of the Best Buy stores within a hundred-mile radius have the score CD in stock. Ditto for Circuit City. I went to the Wal-Mart Supercenters in both Reidsville and Eden on Thursday night. At each location there was probably a dozen copies of the soundtrack to Ken Burns's new documentary The War, as well as the soundtrack from Tyler Perry's latest film Why Did I Get Married?... but not a sign anywhere of Transformers: The Score. However at the Eden Wal-Mart I wound up getting some new Star Wars figures: Darth Malak, the Animated Debut version of Boba Fett, and the Ralph McQuarrie Concept of the Starkiller Hero (AKA "Luke Skywalker is a girl!"). But alas: no Transformers score CD! And much to Lisa's chagrin, Friday afternoon I found the McQuarrie Concept figure of Darth Vader: I'm now forbidden from bringing any more Star Wars figures into the house for the rest of the month :-P

But anyhoo, I still can't find the CD either. So my self-imposed fast - that I will not listen to Transformers: The Score until I can purchase two copies at some store's cash register - is still in effect. That's more than 2 days now that I haven't played the soundtrack at all: not a single note from the thing. And I'm dying to have it playing on our stereo again.

But if most people can't listen to this album, then I can't either. Not from CD or an MP3 player, I will not enjoy it... 'Til all have one!

ScoreNotes.com has a great review of Transformers: The Score. It gives the album an 8 out of 10.

Finally, in my review of Transformers: The Score it was announced that we had a copy of this CD signed by composer Steve Jablonsky, and that it would soon be auctioned on eBay, with 100% of the proceeds going to support something relating to music education. And there was something very particular that it was always intended that this would be going to help with.

A few days ago I was told that the needs of this situation had been provided for and that we didn't have to worry about it any more.

Except that we still have this copy of Transformers: The Score signed by Steve Jablonsky, that was always meant to help with music education. And there's no way that I can retreat from that commitment. Somehow, we need to auction this CD so that it honors not just the spirit of the original intended purpose but also Mr. Jablonsky, who we are very thankful that he lent his support in this matter.

I'm still trying to figure some things out (and there are a few ideas that I'm looking into) but I can absolutely promise you, that we will have the eBay auction for this signed copy of the Transformers: The Score CD and that it will be soon. As soon as can be managed. And that every penny from this sale will go toward music education in some worthwhile capacity. It matters to me tremendously that this all be above-the-board and subject to scrutiny.

That's been the biggest thing worrying me about Transformers: The Score the past several days, truth be known. Lord willing, we will be able to move forward with this very quickly.

And hopefully sometime early next week I will have some concrete word about the distribution problems especially for y'all in Canada and elsewhere :-)

'Til next time...

"Transform and roll out... them CDs!!!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Interview with Jesse Brown on CBC Radio One's SEARCH ENGINE about the Viacom/YouTube mess

Search Engine hosted by Jesse Brown is a show on CBC Radio One ("CBC" being the Canadian Broadcasting Company). It's about issues pertaining to the Internet and it's heard by our good friends all across the Great White North. Last week Jesse phoned all the way down here to Reidsville, North Carolina and interviewed me about my recent situation with Viacom and the supposed "copyright infringement" on YouTube involving my first school board commercial. The segment is running on this week's installment of Search Engine and you can listen to it as an MP3 podcast here.

Poignant report by Chad Austin on the 2007 Chicago Marathon

You may have heard about the 2007 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon that took place this past weekend. Unfortunately the race made very sad news because of the record-high temperature that resulted in the death of one runner and about 300 others having to be hospitalized for heat-related illnesses. Conditions became so severe that the marathon was ultimately canceled before everyone had a chance to finish.

My life-long friend Chad Austin was one of the participants. He was able to complete the race, but not before becoming an eyewitness to some of the heartbreak that happened during what should have been a triumphant event...

After plodding along for the final six miles, I finally turned the last corner and with the finish line in sight I heard a firefighter or police officer yelling to the runners, urging them to walk, saying "The race has been cancelled." What did that mean, I wondered? Did I hear him right? Well, stubbornly I told myself I didn't run 26 miles to walk the final two-tenths. That's if you consider the pace I was going at that point actually running. So I decided to finish what I started and run the rest of the way in. And making that final turn is when I saw my first runner collapsed on the ground. Medics were tending to him, giving him water.

Click here for the full report that Chad filed on his blog about this year's Chicago Marathon.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Chad Schieber and to the hundreds who were injured during this year's marathon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Countdown clock to LOST Season 4

Are you a fellow Lost fanatic for whom February 2008 just can't get here fast enough? Here's something to help you keep track of how long it will be before our beloved mythology returns: the "Countdown to the Next New Lost Episode"!

Notice that I've also embedded it in the left-hand column. If you want this for your own blog, crash down here! Thanks to Adam Feldman for the great find (and congratulations to Adam and his wife on the very-soon arrival of their first baby!).

TRANSFORMERS 2 shaping up fast and my vow regarding TRANSFORMERS: THE SCORE

Tonight I'm still getting plenty of e-mails from folks telling me their tales of woe regarding their not being able to find Transformers: The Score anywhere.

How bad is this? Enough that I'm now feeling some regret at having some copies of the CD here, knowing that most people aren't getting it.

So here's my solemn vow, as an Eagle Scout...

Being that I cannot in good conscience listen to Transformers: The Score and feel right about that after knowing that most people cannot purchase it at all, I promise to no longer listen to Transformers: The Score until I have bought two copies of this CD at a traditional retail outlet. That will be an assurance to me that the CD is finally getting the distribution that it deserves.
Hey, I held off on kissing Lisa until our wedding ceremony. Abstaining from the Transformers score is an easy thing to do after that :-P

Here's hoping and praying that we'll get some official word about the score CD situation soon. In the meantime, there is some good news regarding Transformers 2 or whatever it's title will be:

- Steven Spielberg says that the story for Transformers 2 will be finished within the next two weeks and that if the writer's strike doesn't happen in November then production should begin "pretty quickly".

- Spielberg also says that a full-fledged script may be ready within a month and that Shia Le Beouf is on board for "multiple" sequels.

- Digital pre-visualizations are already well underway! Some of this includes designs that weren't used in the first film... which may be a good sign for those Transformers fans who wanted (but didn't get) to see Arcee: maybe in Part 2 they'll have her at last.

And yeah, I've been following some of the story about the "treatment" that may or may not have been generated somewhere among The Powers That Be (mash down here for an intriguing comment by the admin of Michael Bay's forums). Don't really think we should be reading too much into it right now, 'cuz this early on in a movie's planning stages there's all kinds of ideas and crazy notions that get jotted down, then rejected, sometimes picked up again and almost invariably leading to permutations far different than how they were originally conceived. In the very early drafts of George Lucas's "The Star Wars" there was a guy named Darth Vader but he was a pretty minor character, so anything can still happen.

Oh yeah, only five more days until Transformers is out on DVD, too! :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Final poster for I AM LEGEND

Courtesy of Ain't It Cool News, here is the final theatrical poster for I Am Legend, which is now coming out in December...

I sooooo hope they've done this one right. I Am Legend is one of my all-time favorite horror stories. Unfortunately no film adaptation has really come close to nailing the loneliness and desperation of the original novel. Not even The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, which I've always loved ('specially that groovy 70s "get funky with the apocalypse" jive soundtrack by Ron Grainer). Am definitely looking forward to this, just to see what it's like.

TRANSFORMERS score CD update: "'Till All Have One!"

Just because yesterday was the release date, doesn't mean that the struggle is over with. We won't stop demanding Transformers: The Score ...

Bigtime props to Mike Halverson for coming up with that awesome line!

(It's a paraphrase of the '"Til all are one!" final quote from the 1986 animated Transformers movie, in case ya didn't know :-)

Now, on to serious business regarding the problems still plaguing the release of the score CD...

Am still trying to get hold of someone at Warner Records about this, especially the Canadian distribution issue. It may take another day or so before I can come back with something definitive on that though, but will keep working on it. Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow 'cuz I hope to be able then to talk with someone who can provide some real skinny about what's going down.

Now about the orders placed through Amazon.com, which there have been all kinds of stories coming in about folks now getting e-mails from Amazon stating that their orders will be delayed. A source has said that "It's almost impossible!" right now to get Transformers: The Score shipped immediately from them because Amazon is running extremely low on stock. It is now being considered a "top priority" by Amazon to get more CDs sent to their warehouse (and Amazon is asking for "thousands!").

Unfortunately this means that anyone now ordering from Amazon will probably have to wait 1-3 weeks before their CD arrives!

Clearly, the demand for this was very unexpected. By everyone.

I am still looking for a couple of copies in the stores too, and went all over Greensboro (the biggest town around here) today and it's nowhere to be found. A dude in High Point has said he went looking for it to, but to no avail. Have also heard that Burlington is a complete bust.

Nothing much else to say at this point except...

"Transform and roll out... them CDs!!!" :-)