Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Popcorn Sutton documentary THE LAST ONE wins Emmy!

This past Saturday was a big night for North Carolina filmmaker Neal Hutcheson! At the 35th Southeast Regional Emmy Awards held in Atlanta, Georgia, Hutcheson's documentary The Last One - in which he chronicled Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton's fine art of moonshining - won the Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for "Outstanding Achievement in Television Programming Excellence".

If you've been reading this blog for the past few months then you already know that Popcorn Sutton took his own life in March, just days before he was to report to prison following a series of events that began with a raid on one of his stills last year...

"Popcorn's death underscores the cultural preservation value of films like The Last One," Hutcheson said. "A fact that I doubt escaped the Emmy selection committee."
I have a copy of The Last One on DVD and y'all wouldn't believe how big in demand it has become around where I live: I don't know if there's a house in the neighborhood that hasn't watched it at least once! It is an exceptionally fine film and that it has been so honored is a testament to both its maker and its subject. For more about The Last One, visit the website for Sucker Punch Pictures. UNC-TV has been showing The Last One quite a bit over the past few months, so one way or another you're likely to have a chance to see it.

And congrats Neal! :-)

Kid gives up iPod for Walkman for a week

It was thirty years ago this week that the Sony Walkman - the gadget that gave birth to portable music - made its debut. To commemorate the occasion, BBC Magazine asked 13-year old Scott Campbell (above) to yield his iPod for seven days in favor of a classic Walkman. And young master Scott wrote about the experience...

When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

As I boarded the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would be hard to lose."

My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

It's quite a fun read! Click here for more from Scott Campbell about his time with the Sony Walkman.

Monday, June 29, 2009

TRANSFORMERS sequel making money despite critical panning

Between it's massive opening last week and the run-up to the Fourth of July weekend over the next few days, expect Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to scarf down an unconscionable amount of coin (much like Devastator, left), its place as one of the top grossing movies of 2009 well assured. That's regardless of how it is also one of the worst reviewed movies of the year!

Breitbart.com has the somewhat humorous story of how wide the gulf is between movie-goers and professional movie critics. Personally, I don't care that it's got so many problems artistically. It's giant transforming robots beating the crap out of each other with lots of earth-trembling explosions. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is everything you'd expect from a Michael Bay summer popcorn flick. What more is it supposed to be?! :-)

Comic book writer detained by Transportation Security clowns for possessing "terrorist"-ish script

Comic book writer Mark Sable is reporting that last month while going through Los Angeles International Airport bound for New York, he was detained by Transportation Security Administration agents after being flagged for "extra screening".

What nefarious act did Sable commit that deemed him worthy of notice as being in possible collusion with "the terrists"?

The fact that his new comic miniseries Unthinkable deals with 9/11-ish scenarios that start coming true.

Here's what Sable said happened...

"Flying from Los Angeles to New York for a signing at Jim Hanley's Universe Wednesday (May 13th), I was flagged at the gate for 'extra screening'. I was subjected to not one, but two invasive searches of my person and belongings. TSA agents then 'discovered' the script for Unthinkable #3. They sat and read the script while I stood there, without any personal items, identification or ticket, which had all been confiscated.

"The minute I saw the faces of the agents, I knew I was in trouble. The first page of the Unthinkable script mentioned 9/11, terror plots, and the fact that the (fictional) world had become a police state. The TSA agents then proceeded to interrogate me, having a hard time understanding that a comic book could be about anything other than superheroes, let alone that anyone actually wrote scripts for comics.

"I cooperated politely and tried to explain to them the irony of the situation. While Unthinkable blurs the line between fiction and reality, the story is based on a real-life government think tank where a writer was tasked to design worst-case terror scenarios. The fictional story of Unthinkable unfolds when the writer's scenarios come true, and he becomes a suspect in the terrorist attacks.

"In the end, I feel my privacy is a small price to pay for educating the government about the medium."

Just one more reason why Transportation Security and the whole sorry lot of the Department of Homeland Security is the worst new government boondoggle of the past half century (even worse than the Department of Education!).

Brooke Greenberg: The girl who can't age

The picture on the right was taken about four years ago. It is of Brooke Greenberg and her younger sister Carly.

That's Brooke on the left, when she was 12 years old. She is now 16 and looks the same as she is depicted in the photograph.

Doctors and researchers are stymied at how Brooke has hardly aged at all since she was born. She still has her baby teeth, and her bones are considered to be of a child who is no older than ten. Her mental capacity is said to be that of an infant. But her family maintains that in many other aspects she is just like any other teenage girl (she likes to shop, f'rinstance).

Click here for more about Brooke Greenberg and her family.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Current agenda

Tonight: paint the rest of my army of Orks for this week's game of Warhammer 40,000 (I'm also working on some Tyranids and a new chapter of Space Marines).

Tomorrow and Tuesday: pre-production and then filming a commercial in which the entire town of Burlington, North Carolina gets heinously destroyed.

One week from now: playing host to and partying with a contingent of 4 or 5 Belgians.

No rest for the wicked, aye? :-P

Are more people standing up to cult leader Johnny Robertson?

It sure looks that way. I was notified earlier this week about Answering The Church of Christ, a new and rather articulate blog dedicated to taking on Robertson and his local "Church of Christ" cult (which again, has nothing to do with the mainstream Churches of Christ that most people know and respect).

To the best of my knowledge that makes at least four separate blogs - none of which are my own - that have set out to counter Robertson and his gang of ecclesiastical bullies.

(Incidentally, this coming week marks two years since Robertson posted anything new on his own blog.)

And then there's this YouTube video that was sent to me today, proclaiming Johnny Robertson to be this week's "Con-Artist for [Another] Jesus"...

I have been told that Robertson and his goons have been harassing quite a number of legitimate churches in the area lately (apparently they've got a "tent revival" or somesuch going on). Robertson's son Micah even attempted to interrupt a service at one Baptist church in Danville recently.

In the past month or so I publicly asked the following questions on another blog devoted to answering the cult. So far, no one from the local "Church of Christ" that is known for its bullying tactics has dared to answer them. So I will pose them here as well...

1. If Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield and their followers have proclaimed all other denominations are "false", then what evidence is there at all that their own "Church of Christ" is true?

2. Where is the evidence that the "Church of Christ" that Robertson and Oldfield represent is described in the Bible?

3. If no such evidence exists, then why are Robertson, Oldfield and their followers in a church that is not in the Bible?!

I've said before: I don't care what these loons choose to believe in. Because I believe that every person has the right to seek God as best he or she possibly can. But when it comes to someone (like the "Church of Chris" cult) trying to interfere with others' right to seek God and to the point that it becomes illegal harassment... then there is a problem.

And from the looks of things, a lot more people are standing up to this kind of nonsense.

And this blogger absolutely applauds it! :-)

Billy Mays has passed away

So in one week we have lost Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson... and now commercial pitchman extraordinaire Billy Mays, found dead this morning by his wife at their home in Florida.

Gonna miss him. It was always so easy to make fun of Billy Mays and that voice of his (which seemed to be a natural gift for his chosen profession) but let's face it: the guy was very good at his job. He did his best to be a pitchman and in turn became something much more: a bona fide legitimate character in his own right.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family today.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Not so long ago...

...in a different time and a better reality...

The Eighties. What a time to have been alive.

Personally, I think America hit its high water mark as a culture around 1994. There was a kind of dynamic that seems to have vanished about the time that O.J. Simpson went for that ride in the Ford Bronco.

I don't know if we'll ever see days like those again.

But just as King Arthur came to cherish at the end: It was a fair time that will live on in memory. And so long as the memory of that time endures, it may yet come again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Amazon.com cuts off Tarheel affiliates (blames WORST GOVERNOR EVER!)

Bev Perdue - also known on this blog as "WORST GOVERNOR EVER!" - has done it again. 'Course to be fair she had help from North Carolina's lawmakers. Amazon.com has stopped doing business with all of its affiliates in this state: a consequence of, as Amazon.com puts it, "the unconstitutional tax collection scheme expected to be passed any day now by the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) and signed by the governor."

This is already the most taxed state in the southeast. Piling on more taxes is not a smart move by any measure. But sadly folks, this state's head honchos have long been drunk on wild spending and are desperate for any way they can find to keep their mad orgy going.

North Carolina, ladies and gentlemen: "The California of the Eastern Seaboard".

About the "climate" bill that just passed the U.S. House...

I don't mind saying this aloud at all:

Any so-called "legislator" who votes on a bill WITHOUT READING THE FRICKIN' THING needs to be dragged out into the street and shot.

New short film: PAYMENT

My friend Todd Williard is participating in this year's 48 Hour Film Project (something that I've wanted to take part in for the past four years but stuff keeps coming up... maybe next year :-). Anyhoo, Todd and his crew based out of Greensboro, North Carolina came up with the following brilliant short film called Payment. Check it out!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

MTV's DJ & THE FRO ran my school board commercial tonight!

(I just wish that it didn't have to be followed up immediately by MTV running all of Michael Jackson's classic music videos...)

As several folks have written in about: Tonight's episode of MTV's new show DJ & The Fro, titled "Birds", featured a good-natured mocking of my "Star Wars"-inspired campaign commercial for Rockingham County Board of Education in 2006.

In the episode someone calling himself "Inbred Velcro Warrior" sends the Fro a link to the commercial. "In space, nobody can hear you scream" notes Fro as he and DJ cheer on the Death Star destroying the little red schoolhouse. Fro continues: "That's also true for his mother's basement, where this guy clearly lives!" DJ says "That's the biggest loser in the desert since Moses!" I had some friends over to watch this ('cuz the good folks at Titmouse Productions told me last week it would air this evening) and suffice it to say, everyone in the house thought it was hilarious! I got to show off my lightsaber and rotoscopin' skillz before a national audience, Rockingham County North Carolina got a shout-out, Melody Hallman Daniel's awesome vocal talents got a lot of airtime (well about as long as the commercial anyway)... and I might very well have become the first and last person to get the words "No Child Left Behind" and "unfunded mandates" spoken on MTV!!

The "Birds" episode is scheduled to air quite a few more times over the next several days and weeks. Check yer local listings if you wanna take a gander :-)

Michael Jackson has died!


Breaking everywhere right now.

Ark of the Covenant to be revealed tomorrow, sez Ethiopian patriarch

Abuna Pauolos, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, has announced that tomorrow will finally see the revealing of the biblical Ark of the Covenant, which his church is said to have guarded for centuries.

According to those who adhere to the legend, King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba had a son named Menelik I, who eventually came to Jerusalem as a young man and spirited the real Ark of the Covenant away (with Solomon's blessing).

It is there, in that land which in ancient times has been called Aksum and is today known as Ethiopia, where the very Ark of the Covenant which contains the Ten Commandments that G-d gave to Moses is said to be kept in this chapel, with a lone guardian tending to it night and day for as long as he lives...

(According to some reports, the Ark guardians don't live anywhere near a full span of life and have a tendency to developing cataracts, supposedly a testament of the Ark's awesome power.)

The patriarch has said that a museum is being built in Ethiopia where the Ark will be displayed for all to see.

If it is the real Ark of the Covenant, let us hope that these guys know what they are doing, and have read the instruction manual (namely the Old Testament) really meticulously.

Or else, who knows what might happen...

UPDATE 06/26/2009 9:20 p.m. EST: As many have noted, the announced time of today's "revealing" of the Ark of the Covenant has more than come and gone, with nothing to show for it. There are some allegations coming out of Ethiopia that Abuna Pauolos has a shady background. Here's WorldNetDaily's report on the failure of the patriarch to produce the goods.

Death by Twitter

A seventeen-year old girl is dead after being electrocuted in her bathroom in a freak accident while plugging in a laptop computer that she was using to Twitter.

Maria Barbu of Brasov, Romania was found by her parents laying next to the laptop, and police think she "may have tried to plug in the computer's mains power lead with wet hands after the battery ran down during a long Twitter session".

Here's what I have to ask in case no one else has: why was this girl Twitter-ing from a bathroom to begin with?

Iranian government using THE LORD OF THE RINGS to stifle protests

In one of the more bizarre stories to come out of Iran in the past week or so, it's being reported that the country's state-run Channel Two is running a marathon of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, intending to keep protesters off of Tehran's streets and watching the adventures of Frodo and Sam instead. The average citizens of Iran are quite fond of movies from the United States and Europe, but usually only get to watch them once or twice a week on television. Since the protests began, Iran's ruling regime has increased it to two or three movies per day.

Methinks that this might not be a good move on the part of the Iranian government, especially since one of the bigger messages of The Lord of the Rings is that "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future" :-)

Farrah Fawcett has passed away

This is, sadly, the only occasion I will likely ever have for posting this classic image...

Farrah Fawcett has died at age 62, succumbing to a cancer which she had valiantly fought against for so very long.

First it was Ed McMahon who was taken from us earlier this week, now Farrah Fawcett. Once again, we seem to be losing our legends at a harsh rate.

"What the heck am I gonna do with this?!"

That was the question I was asking everyone late on Tuesday night at the Palladium in High Point when we were there to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The crew from 107.5 WKZL FM was there giving out prizes during a Transformers trivia contest. Phillip and Matt and I were sitting up around the top rows of the theater and one of the 107.5 guys asked "What does Barricade transform into?"

I raised my hand and shouted "Police car!" Which was the right answer. So I ran down to collect my reward.

Which turned out to be this...

A copy of Britney Spears' new CD Circus!

And I thought I was gonna get a Transformers t-shirt, or somethin'...

Review of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

I'm going to say that I immensely enjoyed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen despite a lot of problems possessed by this movie.

I saw it at midnight on Wednesday night (meaning the wee hours of yesterday morning) along with fellow bloggers Phillip Arthur and Matthew Federico. And I am compelled to echo the sentiments that just about every reviewer on the planet is saying about this movie: that it's far too long, it's much too juvenile and there's way too much to expect a viewer to take in.

I anticipate that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is going to become a textbook example of how a movie demands good editing, because there's a ton of material that could have been left on the cutting room floor that would not only not be missed, but would have made for a much tighter and more enthralling film. Some of this stuff was just plain embarrassing to watch: Sam's mom hopped-up on marijuana-laced brownies is but one of them. Other elements should have never progressed beyond the conceptual stage... and I'm thinking mostly of Skids and Mudflap (or as many are calling them, "Car Car Binks"). Seriously: Skids and Mudflap are the very worst thing to happen to the Transformers franchise in the history of anything. A lot of people are wondering aloud if these two Autobidiots are meant to be stereotypically racist. Whether they are or not, Skids and Mudflap should have never been given such an obscene amount of screen time. Regardless of anything else, these two characters offend good taste in ways that Mel Brooks barely did with Blazing Saddles. What the hell were screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (along with Ehren Kruger) thinking?! Hard to believe that these two 'Bots sprang from the same brilliant minds that gave us Star Trek last month.

(I'm not even gonna go anywhere near Devastator's testicles...)

But mostly, I think that much like Spider-Man 3 a few years ago, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen suffers from an excess of plot and character.

Imagine the sequels of the Pirate of the Caribbean series - Dead Man's Chest and At World's End - smooshed together into a single motion picture. That is what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is: one movie that should have been divided into two. It starts off well enough, with Optimus Prime (again voiced by Peter Cullen) describing the events of the past two years and how the Autobots have formed a covert team with the United States military to hunt down Decepticons that have come to Earth. And right off the bat, director Michael Bay is pouring on crazy helpings of his trademark "Bay-hem" style: lots of dizzying 'splosive action that should have utterly broken Industrial Light and Magic's CGI render farm. The opening fight between the Autobots and the huuuuge Decepticon Demolishor is a sequence of well-orchestrated carnage indicative of how this movie is solidly better than Terminator: Salvation, the most recent blockbuster that I had seen in past weeks. There is quite a bit of thoughtful "building off" of the mythology that the first film began, and I liked that. One thing that I appreciated in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is how this movie finally addresses some questions that have been around since the Transformers first hit the scene a quarter-century ago... like how Transformers are born, hatched, whatever. And I think that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is wildly successful at showing us a world-wide conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons (several people in the audience cheered when they saw that the Autobots were driving through North Carolina on the military's map).

But about an hour into the movie and it's glaringly certain that there's too much mythology being hurled at us to take in for one film. The most obvious aspect of this is the sheer number of Autobots and Decepticons overwhelming each other. The original Autobot characters from the first movie? They are barely in this one. We finally get to see Arcee, but she and other female Autobots are hardly noticeable. Soundwave (voiced by Frank Welker!) has a fairly important presence, but I thought we should have seen him take a more active role among his fellow Decepticons. Concepts from the earliest canon like the Pretenders and the Matrix of Leadership and the Space Bridge and more assault the viewer's mind and if you haven't been indoctrinated in Transformers terminology, I can see how it's gonna be very easy to be lost in it all.

This is a movie that should have been split in two, with a Transformers movie for this summer and one for the next. And I know right where the divide should have been at, but won't talk about it here for fear of spoiling it for those who haven't seen it yet. Let's just say that something of a Transformers "tradition" takes place that would have made for an excellent cliffhanger to be resolved in another installment.

There were too many Transformers in this movie. The effects in this movie are nothing short of jaw-dropping. I just wish that there had been fewer Transformers to spread more of the visuals around. Devastator - the combined form of the Constructicons - is the most complex digital model that Industrial Light and Magic has ever made. Too bad we don't get to see the individual Constructicons in action: they're pretty much just sitting vehicles that merge into one colossal robot... without ever getting to see their individual 'bot forms! The final battle at the pyramids between the Autobots and Decepticons has so many Transformers that hardly anybody will be able to pick out who's who.

So far as the humans go, I thought the carbon-based characters were pretty good, but again: a lot of their scenes should have been cleanly excised away from this film. Sam and his wacky family carry over well from the first movie (apart from Judy Witwicky's reefer-crazed rampage) and if you liked John Turturro's character of Simmons in the first movie, you'll be glad to know that he's back and with a bit more to do in this one.

Overall however... I'll have to say that I liked Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen enough that I'll probably want to see it at least once more in the theaters, even though I definitely recognize that it could have been a better movie had it received more editing and fewer robots. The lesson of this movie could be that "special effects do not a character make". Let's hope that the next Transformers movie will bear that in mind.

And what says me about Steve Jablonsky's score for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Loved it! Jablonsky really built upon and explored further the themes that he did for the first movie. I gladly bought his score from iTunes yesterday and have been listening to it ever since.

Anyway, in the end: I'm not going to jump on the "Bash Revenge Bandwagon" that this movie is having to endure across the media. I won't say that it's a "great" movie either like The Shawshank Redemption or even Star Trek. But I will say that warts and all, I sincerely came out of seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen much as I did from seeing Transformers two years ago: thoroughly entertained.

What more could one ask of a summer blockbuster? :-)

"Weird Al" Yankovic channels Jim Morrison in "Craigslist"!

It came out last week and I haven't been able to post about it 'cuz I've been out of town since then (maybe it's time to finally get a laptop?) but "Weird Al" Yankovic has done it again. His latest release "Craigslist" is about the (in)famous classified ads website, done in the style of Jim Morrison and The Doors. It is hilarious and Al even got Ray Manzarek to do the keyboards for the song!

Click here for the "Craigslist" music video on Al's YouTube channel, which also includes links where you can buy the song from iTunes and other online outlets.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twitter making Internet news finally come into its own right now in Iran

Twenty years ago this month, the broadcast of the crackdown on the pro-democracy protesters in Beijing by the Chinese government was widely hailed as the moment that international television news coverage like that of CNN became a serious factor at long last.

That was CNN in 1989.

In 2009 it is Twitter, of all things, that is marking the end of television's dominance of the news.

Here's the Twitter feed for most of the "tweets" about what's going down in Iran. At this hour there's a massive rally in Tehran by anti-Ahmedinejad protesters. The police have opened fire and killed at least one person. Just about everything we know about all this is coming from regular people who are sending live reports via Twitter.

Remember this well, folks. June 2009 is when people in Iran took hold of the power of "you media" and played it to the hilt. This is real revolution in more ways than one happening at this moment.

I hope this kind of exuberance spreads to more countries. Including my own :-)

EDIT 2:12 p.m. EST: I made a link to this blog post on the same Twitter feed (#iranelection) and right now, The Knight Shift is getting SLAMMED with more international visits than I have ever seen in the five-plus years of this blog's operation (along with quite a few folks from across the United States).

So a hearty hello to everyone who's finding their way here this afternoon, and here's raising up some thoughts and prayers for our friends in Iran who are taking their destiny into their own hands. May they be an inspiration for us all!

Radioactive wasp nests plague dump site

Sounds like a Fifties B-movie, or maybe the genesis of a new Spider-Man villain: the country's most contaminated nuclear waste site has provided building material for swarms of wasps building their nests and now the nests themselves are loaded with radioactive isotopes of cesium and cobalt. The Hanford nuclear reservation near Yakima, Washington is currently being cleaned up and workers are having to deal with the nests, which fortunately have already been abandoned by the wasps.

I must admit: 'twould have been a pretty awesome sight to see the skies of Yakima filled with giant glowing wasps :-P

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Army mecha-nic builds real exoskeleton

Carlos Owens is a mechanic in the United States Army living in Wasilla, Alaska. Five years ago and working without any blueprints, he started laboring on a real-life mechanical exoskeleton much like what we've seen in Aliens, BattleTech and a lot of other science fiction. Four years and $25,000 later, you can see his finished product on the right. It can raise its arms, move its lets and even do a sit-up. Owens is working on two more prototypes and hopes to soon see the day when real mecha will go at it against each other like demolition derby.

Mash down here for more of Carlos Owens and his awesome mecha at the Popular Science website.

I'm pretty sure ABC/Disney won't like this

At this moment, Johnny Robertson of the local cult calling itself the "Church of Christ" (which has nothing to do with the real Churches of Christ) is broadcasting an entire story from ABC's Nightline about real estate scamming in Martinsville, Virginia as part of his What Does The Bible Say? (or as I call it The Martinsville Taliban Show) on WGSR Star 47.

So let's look at the first part of the Walt Disney Internet Group's Terms of Use, with emphasis mine in red font...

1. INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Internet sites of the Walt Disney Internet Group ("WDIG"). "WDIG Sites" include Disney.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABC.com, ESPN.com, DisneyShopping.com, Go.com, Movies.com, FamilyFun.com, and other Internet sites on which these terms of use are posted. WDIG and any and all entities that control, are controlled by, or are affiliated or under common control with, WDIG are collectively referred to herein as "we," "us" or "our".

PLEASE READ THESE TERMS OF USE CAREFULLY BEFORE USING ANY WDIG SITE. By using any WDIG Site or by clicking a box that states that you accept or agree to these terms, you signify your agreement to these terms of use. If you do not agree to these terms of use, you may not use the WDIG Sites.

Note that special terms apply to some services offered on certain WDIG Sites, like subscription-based services, rules for particular contests or sweepstakes or other features or activities. These terms are posted in connection with the applicable service. Any such terms are in addition to these terms of use, and in the event of a conflict, prevail over these terms of use.

You acknowledge that these terms of use are supported by reasonable and valuable consideration, the receipt and adequacy of which are hereby acknowledged. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, you acknowledge that such consideration includes your use of the WDIG Sites and receipt of data, materials and information available at or through the WDIG Sites, the possibility of our use or display of your Solicited Submissions (as defined below in Section 3, entitled "SUBMISSIONS") and the possibility of the publicity and promotion from our use or display of your Solicited Submissions.

2. USE OF CONTENT

All information, materials, functions and other content (including Submissions, as defined in Section 3, entitled "SUBMISSIONS") ("Content") contained on WDIG Sites are our copyrighted property or the copyrighted property of our licensors or licensees. All trademarks, service marks, trade names, and trade dress are proprietary to us and/or our licensors or licensees. We may change the WDIG Sites or delete Content or features at any time, in any way, for any or no reason.

Except as we specifically agree in writing, no Content from any WDIG Site may be used, reproduced, transmitted, distributed or otherwise exploited in any way other than as part of the WDIG Site, except that where a WDIG Site is configured to enable the download of particular Content, you may download one copy of such Content to a single computer for your personal, noncommercial home use only, provided that you (a) keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices, (b) make no modifications to the Content, and (c) do not use the Content in a manner that suggests an association with any of our products, services or brands. Any business use, "re-mailing" or high-volume or automated use of WDIG Sites is prohibited.

In the event that we offer downloads of software on a WDIG Site and you download such software, the software, including any files, images incorporated in or generated by the software, and data accompanying the software (collectively, the "Software") are licensed to you by us or third-party licensors for your personal, noncommercial home use only. We do not transfer title to the Software to you. You may not distribute or otherwise exploit the Software or decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble or otherwise reduce the Software to a human-readable form.

So... did Johnny Robertson, the Martinsville Church of Christ, WGSR Star 47 and its general manager Charles Roark acquire express permission from Disney and ABC to use their copyrighted material wholesale?

Probably not. They are clearly committing an act of blatant copyright infringement. But hey: we're talking about people who haven't cared about things like laws, ethics and personal responsibility before. Why expect it now?!

(And now Robertson is repeating his year-old lie that one area church is engaging in child pornography, sans any evidence supporting his wild claim.)

First pics of Chad and Koren's wedding!

Ashton Hobbs is posting a wazoo-load of photos on Flickr of Chad and Koren's wedding yesterday. Click here for the "Chad Austin Wedding" set.

Great work Ashton :-)

Iranian irony

I find it a sad commentary that many Americans are watching the people of Iran rejecting the farce of that country's elections a few days ago...

...when we ourselves for the most part are all too accepting of how managed and controlled our own nation's elections are.

Could we ever take to the streets and demand real freedom to choose a destiny apart from that which the two-party kleptocracy and its willing associates have determined for us?

Few things would make me happier than to see the American people wake up and demand that.

14-year old lady discovers supernova

A few days ago this blog wrote about the fairly nearby star Betelgeuse and how it might be approaching supernova. Want to know how honkin' powerful that blast could become?

On the right is a recent photo of the galaxy UGC 12682. It's 70 million light years away from the Earth. And prominently labeled (as if it even needed it) is the newly-found supernova SN 2008ha.

It was found by 14-year old Caroline Moore of Warwick, New York and a member of the Puckett Observatory Supernova Search team. Despite its vast distance, Supernova SN 2008ha is still 25 million times brighter than our own Sun.

So try to imagine something that bright, only a mere 600 light years away. And it's thought that the progenitor star of SN 2008ha wasn't even all that massive to begin with: many astronomers are saying that dear Miss Moore has discovered one of the most peculiar supernovae to have ever detected.

Hit here for much more information about Carolina Moore and SN 2008ha.

And if you wanna see how dedicated this young lady is to her field of interest, take a looksee at Caroline sitting amidst her astronomy gear...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back from Chad and Koren's wedding

Man, what a day...

I want to say first of all that Chad is the man for running a 5 kilometer race at 7 a.m. on the morning of his wedding day. He finished at a pretty good time too (the race not the wedding day... nevermind :-P)

Anyhoo, just got in and I'm frazzled, but there will prolly be pics and some YouTube video (if I can get the consent forms signed :-) up on the blog soon. In the meantime, know that it was a wonderful ceremony and celebration afterward, and all involved definitely feel like not only some new friendships were made, but new family across the board. And let it also be known that New Hampshire is certainly a place that knows how to produce some interesting characters :-)

More later. 'Til then: Congrats Chad and Koren!

A few hours from now...

...my lifelong best friend Chad Austin officially goes off the market, when he takes the vows and weds his lovely lady Koren Borchers.

I got conned into being videographer (something about payback for what we put Chad through in his portrayal of George Lucas a few years ago) so there'll be plenty of pictures later, and maybe some YouTube video.

The rehearsal last night went great! Lots of new friendships being made along with family. We are all excited about Chad and Koren getting to have their special day.

More later! In the meantime, y'all please keep the happy couple in yer thoughts and prayers :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

THIS is the Danville Police Department officer who killed a helpless Dachshund...

Murrill McLean, Danville Police "officer", who shot and killed 11-pound miniature dachshund "Killer" earlier this week.

This is the "cop" who was so afraid of a tiny little dog that was only barking at him, that he used lethal force. This guy, who looks like six-foot something and all tough.

Apparently he's also an enlisted soldier who's about to begin a tour of Iraq.

Hide your puppies, people of Baghdad. Better keep your children out of the street too, if you don't want Officer McLean shooting first and asking questions later.

Want to make this better, Chief of Police Phillip Broadfoot? Then Murrill McLean had damned better make a heartfelt public apology to the family before the weekend is out and tender his resignation from the Danville Police Department. Either that, or fire his butt as an example for everyone else in law enforcement: that those of your profession must be held accountable for their mistakes, however much they might regret making them in the first place.

EDIT 10:28 p.m. EST: Here's another photo of Murrill McLean of the Danville Police Department (in addition to many others that I've come into possession of)...

There's so much wrong with this pose that I'm not gonna begin to comment about it. But y'all can if you feel so led.

EDIT 06/12/2009 09:08 a.m. EST: This post is receiving a lot of traffic and I have been asked for the source of this photos. They were plenty easy to find: Murrill McLean has a Facebook page that as of this writing is still publicly accessible for anyone in the Greensboro, North Carolina area and he has posted most of these on a Flicker account as well.

Betelgeuse shrinking, may supernova soon

The star Betelgeuse in Orion, one of the best-known stellar objects in the sky, has shrunk by 15% over the past decade and a half. Bear in mind the size of Betelgeuse: if our own Sun was placed at the center of this star, its outer surface would extend just past the orbit of Jupiter. Or at least it used to not very long ago.

Some astronomers are wondering if Betelgeuse is shrinking because it's used up hydrogen as its main fuel and is now "burning" from helium and other heavier elements. Which would mean that it's in the final stages of a star of its class. When it starts trying to fuse elements like iron and such, some positively hideous astrophysics come into play and Betelgeuse's internal energy is going to overwhelm its immense gravity...

...and we'll get to see a rilly big bang called a supernova.

The supernova of 1054 (the event that created the Crab Nebula) was recorded all over the world, including by Native Americans in what is now the southwestern United States. It was so bright that it could be seen during the daytime and reportedly even cast shadows at night.

If Betelgeuse goes supernova - and some are saying there's a likelihood that it might happen within the lifetimes of many people reading this - then it would very likely dwarf the brilliance of Supernova 1054.

I can't begin to imagine how awesome a sight that would be.

'Course, if Betelgeuse does go supernova, it's probably already happened since the star is around 600 light years away. In which case we're just now finding out about it... but it won't make it any less spectacular "when" it finally happens :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NOT AGAIN! Danville, Virginia "cop" murders mini dachshund!

This is the second time in as many days that this blog has reported a story like this. The first was from Ohio, where two big Blue Ash Police Department officers tasered, then shot and killed a five-pound dog that they said was "threatening" them.

Now comes word that the same thing has happened just across the state line from here in Danville, Virginia.

On the left is a photo of Killer, who had been an 11-year old miniature dachshund weighing about 12 pounds. He was regarded as a "friendly, friendly" dog that was not only a companion to the Harper family that owned him, but well liked throughout the neighborhood.

On Monday night a Danville Police Department officer - and I will gladly post the name and home address of this bastard who has no business with a badge if someone will provide it to me - shot Killer dead while at the adjacent property serving papers.

Here's the story as reported by GoDanRiver.com...

According to a news release from Danville Police Chief Philip Broadfoot, an officer shot and killed the dachshund Monday night while serving two outstanding warrants to a neighbor in the 100 block of Berman Drive.

As the officer returned to his car, “he was surprised by a growling dog running through the yard directly at him from the rear, leaving him with just seconds to consider his options,” according to the news release. The options for the officer in that type of situation include running to the squad car; distracting the dog; or using pepper spray, a baton or firearm. The dog lunged at the police officer and attacked him as the officer fired one shot that hit and killed the dog, Broadfoot said.

An investigation by the Danville Police Department found that the dog displayed aggressive tendencies before other people.

“Shooting a dog which is actively presenting a threat to an officer is within the department’s policy,” ac-cording to the release.

Lt. Mike Mondul, public information officer for the Danville Police Department, said that the lag between the incident and acknowledgement from the department was due to an administrative decision.

“The decision was made by department administration that the chief would address it on Thursday,” Mondul said.

Carlos, 14, was upstairs when he heard the gunshot.

“I saw my mom, and she started to cry,” Carlos said.

The children came downstairs, he said, and their mother told them that a police officer shot Killer.Tawaiin drove home from work after getting a call from Carlos about the shooting.

“When I got there, the dog was laying with his guts hanging out,” Tawaiin said.

The officer leaned against his patrol car, smoking a cigarette, and Tawaiin walked over to talk to him. He said the officer told him that he had to shoot the dog because he was barking at him. Tawaiin asked for his badge number and name, but the officer refused to give it to him and said his supervisor was on the way.

His supervisor arrived and couldn’t believe what happened, Tawaiin said.

“(The lieutenant) was very, very remorseful,” Tawaiin said. “He kept apologizing. And he said I know apologizing can’t bring the dog back, but I just don’t know what to say.”

The dog was a member of the family, Tawaiin said. Nicole was 4 and Carlos was 3 when the family wel-comed the new addition.

“He was like a brother to me,” Carlos said.

Killer greeted Tawaiin every time he came home. Whenever a car pulled into the cul-de-sac, Killer barked to let everyone know that someone new was there.

“He was the security guard around here,” Tawaiin said.

Neighbors said Killer was a sweet, mild-mannered dog.

“He just kind of walked up and down the neighborhood and didn’t bother anybody,” said Jenine Edmunds, who lives on the cul-de-sac. “He was just a little house dog.”

Friends and neighbors have asked the Harpers if they will get a new dog.

“You can’t replace Killer. He’s one of a kind.

“I’m still trying to soak it in because the dog had been with us so long. He was a family member. They took a family member away.”

So the Danville Police Department officer killed a harmless dog, then coolly began smoking a cigarette and refused to identify himself.

This asshole "cop" needs to be fired at the very least. And in a saner world and a different age perhaps dragged out into the street and beaten within an inch of his life.

Like I said yesterday, I have no sympathy for anyone who abuses authority entrusted them like this. But no doubt the "internal affairs" of Danville Police will come back after an "investigation" - which we already know will be a joke - and will report that this officer did "nothing wrong". And a family will still be without its miniature dachshund: one of the most playful and harmless breeds around.

Like I also said yesterday: this kind of thing is not going to stop until a lot of the bad cops are dead.

EDIT 06/11/2009 05:08 p.m. EST: What kind of "police officer" is it who would shoot and kill a miniature dachshund that was only barking and was known throughout the community as being a happy, harmless doggy?

Are y'all ready for this?

Click here for more about Murrill McLean of the Danville Police Department.

Finally, FINALLY finished FALLOUT 3

It was back in February that I first started playing Fallout 3: the next generation follow-up to the classic computer role-playing series of the late Nineties. I have been playing on and off since then, but in the past week or so decided to plow on through to... whatever the heck it was that was waiting at the end.

A little while ago, after logging just over eighty hours of game time since then, I completed Fallout 3 at long last. By my calculation I could have wrapped everything up in about twenty hours, if I hadn't been such a fiend for exploring the Capital Wasteland (what the irradiated ruins of Washington D.C. are called almost three hundred years from now).

And I still didn't get to scout out every location on the map! There's roughly 1/4th of the Capital Wasteland - almost entirely in the northeast quadrant - that I thought I'd be able to get to see somehow, until I got catapulted into the showdown with the Enclave at the Jefferson Memorial.

So what did I think?

Fallout 3 is an unparalleled achievement in video gaming. Never before had I known as much freedom and utterly vast territory to run around in. The story is solid, the characters are rich and well developed, and on a technical level the graphics, sound and programming alone will be a milestone by which games will be measured for many years to come. I also loved the voiceover work, especially Liam Neeson as James and Malcolm McDowell as President Eden.

But the real star of Fallout 3 is the Capital Wasteland itself. Along with Rapture in the BioShock series, the Capital Wasteland is a character all its own. And I think that both Fallout 3 and BioShock have set a new definition for gaming excellence with their sheer geography: in my mind, this is the "virtual reality" that was so vastly hyped a decade ago.

Anyway, I finally finished the game. Won't say that I "won" it, anymore than you could say that you "beat" a book by reading it. And I honestly can't remember any other video game that left me at once feeling a sense of profound achievement and terrible exhaustion. Going to let this one rest for awhile... before playing the Operation Anchorage, The Pitt and Broken Steel add-on content! :-)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Scene from a hay field

Actually, I was told that it's bails of straw, but farmer though I've been I've never been able to tell the difference :-P

Just something that I thought would make a good photo while out and about this afternoon. That's one of the largest family-owned dairy farms in the country in the background, here in Rockingham County, North Carolina. And that hay straw has been gathered up to eventually feed to the cows.

Maybe I'll post a new picture of this field a few weeks or months from now, when the same straw comes back as spread cow manure.

Blue Ash, Ohio cops MURDER five-pound dog (and how to stop law enforcement abuse)

This is gonna be another post where I'm compelled to use "less polite" language, folks. But I think you'll agree: it's more than warranted.

Here is a photo of Jack, a five-pound Chihuahua-mix dog that until last week was owned by Scott and Sharon Bullock of Blue Ash, Ohio...

And these are the three bullets that Blue Ash Police Department officers shot into Jack this past Friday evening when they killed the dog on the front porch of the Bullock home...

Here's the story from WCPO.com:

Family Outraged After Officer Shoots Their Dog
Reported by: Lynn Giroud
Photographed By: Jeremy Glover
Web Produced By: Neil Relyea
Last Update: 8:46 am

CINCINNATI, OH -- A Blue Ash family is outraged after returning home to find their dog had been shot and killed by a police officer.

The dog was a Chihuahua-mix named “Jack” that Scott and Sharon Bullock had given to their 12-year-old son for his birthday a few years ago.

When the Bullocks returned home from a family member's funeral on Friday, they found blood and three bullets on their front porch – along with a note to call the Blue Ash Police Department about their dog.

The Bullocks were shocked to learn that Jack had gotten out of the backyard and two officers who tried to catch him, ended up shooting and killing him right on the family's front porch.

"He was cornered on the porch and scared," said Sharon Bullock. "The officer bent down bare-handed to pick up Jack, and Jack bit him."

"My five-year-old cried himself to sleep the night before last, wanting his dog," said Sharon Bullock.

"He ‘barks’ for him" added Scott Bullock. "He'd ‘bark’ and Jack would always come to him, so he's outside going ‘Bark bark bark,’ hoping he's gonna come back. It's heartbreaking."

The Bullocks told their five-year-old and three-year-old sons that Jack ran away.

The Bullocks admit they were at fault for leaving their dog outside, and are sorry the officer was bitten, but they say their dog was not a vicious animal and had never bitten anyone before.

They're wondering why the officers didn't call the SPCA to catch the dog.

"They didn't make that phone call other than to come scoop the dog off the porch after they shot him," said Scott Bullock. "Two grown men that can't gather up a five-pound dog – and they're trained police officers – sounds ridiculous to me."

That officer later explained to the family that he was following procedure.

The Blue Ash Police Department has not returned 9News’ calls for comment on this incident.

The family says there were two officers involved. One was bitten. The other officer tased, then shot the dog three times.

Two grown men, serving as police officers, use a Taser on a five-pound dog and then "follow procedure" by shooting it dead.

Dear readers, you know what is going to happen next the same as I do, the same as everyone knows who has read stories like this too damn many times: the police department's "internal affairs" will conduct an "investigation", and then declare that the officers did nothing wrong. To add insult to injury they might even get some kind of meritorious citation for "bravery in the line of duty".

And in case you haven't seen it already, in New Jersey a cop beat a man senseless because the civilian wouldn't zip up his jacket, or something (can't make this stuff up folks).

Let me say this already, lest there be any doubt: I do believe there are many good people out there who serve in law enforcement. Some are even family. But I respect them in regards to their chosen professions because they happen to have strong character and because they have earned that respect. Because they put serving others and using the brains that God gave them ahead of following "procedure" for procedure's sake.

I can not and will not respect them, or anyone else, simply because they happen to have a badge and a gun and a smartly-ironed uniform. I like to believe that those who I can give respect to will comprehend that already without me or anyone else having to say as much.

But then there are the "cops" that have no business at all being in a uniform with a badge and a gun. And these Blue Ash Police exemplify that.

These are the bad cops.

And this kind of thing isn't going to stop in America, ladies and gentlemen, until a lot of the bad cops are dead.

Is that a harsh assessment? Yer damned right it is. But as I see it, upholding the Constitution and laws of this land is something that every citizen is called to do without compensation. And those that do hear the call to uphold the law on a full-time professional basis must be held to a higher standard than the average citizen. If they are not, then they are inevitably going to abuse the authority that is entrusted them.

This kind of thing has gotten way out of hand. And it's not going until citizens send the message loud and clear to those in law enforcement who are irresponsible and corrupt: "We are not going to tolerate your kind any more."

These Blue Ash, Ohio cops think that their badges make them special?

F*#@ 'em.

Like I said, a lot of alleged "law enforcement officers" don't have the right mind or the right attitude to be armed in uniform.

And if they can't be made to understand this, if they persist in abusing their positions...

...they need to be put down like the dogs they are.

Just finished watching THERE WILL BE BLOOD

An excellent movie! This is no doubt the greatest - and most mesmerizing and evil - performance that Daniel Day-Lewis has ever given. From the very first scenes (incredibly and as testament to its powerful story, There Will Be Blood goes almost fifteen minutes before a single word is spoken) I was gripped by writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's tale of greed, corruption, paranoia, religion gone wrong, madness and ultimate ruin.

I'll definitely be buying the DVD for my permanent collection! But it's gonna be a long time before I probably want to go to a bowling alley again...

Monday, June 08, 2009

My cousin, the supermodel

Yes, all the women in my family are this hot!

Awright, not just "hot" either: they are also among the most encouraging and inspiring examples of Christian virtue and character that I have ever been blessed to know. And Rachel and her family are no different. Guess I feel particularly close to them 'cuz I was ringbearer for her parents' wedding all those moons ago. If you were to see them together you could swear that Rachel, her sister and their mom were all sisters! And her dad is one of the most... interesting... ministers that you'll ever likely to meet (ask him about when he goes out on "Visitation" sometime :-P)

Anyway, Rachel is going off to Australia, and one of her friends put together this awesome video on YouTube, and it's too good not to share with this blog's faithful readers. So here she is: my cousin Rachel Hine, supermodel extraordinaire and devout follower of Christ!

Will be praying for you as you head Down Under, Rachel! :-)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Chris sez that Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is the glitziest musical he EVER saw!

If you are within driving distance of Rockingham County, North Carolina this coming weekend then you should seriously consider buying a ticket (or more than one) for Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I wasn't able to be in this production 'cuz of prior obligations, although I helped with set construction and that was the limit of my involvement with this show.

Well, I just got back from this afternoon's performance and folks, NOTHING could have prepared me for the unrelenting spectacle that is what Rockingham County people have done with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's much-beloved take on the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers. The Theatre Guild's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is bar none the glitziest and most over-the-top musical that I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing! The Guild could take this show on the road and it would sell out like mad (as it apparently did today). Someone said that you'd have to do hard drugs to see and hear as many colors and sounds as this show assaults you with! The production values are considerably more elaborate than anything you would probably expect from a community theatre outfit, and the effort from everyone involved was nothing short of enthused and inspired. The show is directed by Jay Smith, with musical direction by Dr. Anne Lewis and choreography by Stephen Hale. Playing the leads are Stephenie Sanders as the Narrator, Robbie Hendrix as Joseph and Wayne Hughes as Jacob. And I would be remiss in my duty as a blogger if I did not mention Chuck Owens' turn as Pharaoh: without a doubt the most electrifying Elvis impersonation in state history!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs again on June 12th and 13th at 7:30 p.m. and on June 14th at 2:30 p.m. at the Advanced Technologies Building Auditorium of Rockingham Community College. Click here for more information.

Second trailer for NORMALSVILLE

Rising filmmaker and good friend of this blog Marco van Bergen wants y'all to know that the second trailer for his upcoming movie Normalsville is online. And he surprised me a bit by officially making me a real film critic! :-P

Shoot here for the official Normalsville website.

Middle Ages crisis: The rise of Neomedievalism

Parag Khanna writes an intriguing essay at the Foreign Policy site in which he makes the case that the concept of traditional nation states as we have come to understand it is breaking down. In its place is what he calls a "neomedieval" paradigm that hearkens back to the Dark Ages...
Many see the global economic crisis as proof that we live in one world. But as countries stumble to right the wrongs of the corporate masters of the universe, they are driving us right back to a future that looks like nothing more than a new Middle Ages, that centuries-long period of amorphous conflict from the fifth to the 15th century when city-states mattered as much as countries.

The state isn’t a universally representative phenomenon today, if it ever was. Already, billions of people live in imperial conglomerates such as the European Union, the Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the emerging North American Union, where state capitalism has become the norm. But at least half the United Nations’ membership, about 100 countries, can hardly be considered responsible sovereigns. Billions live unsure of who their true rulers are, whether local feudal lords or distant corporate executives. In Egypt and India, democratic elections have devolved into auctions. Delivering security and providing welfare aren’t just campaign promises; they are the campaign. The fragmentation of societies from within is clear: From Bogotá to Bangalore, gated communities with private security are on the rise...

I'm inclined to believe there's a lot of merit to what Khanna is saying. We are even seeing such fracturing here in America, where individuals and cities and states are beginning to question the hold that distant Washington D.C. has long had on their lives: much like how the Roman Empire could not keep the provinces under its thumb when its decline was going full tilt.

It's not a long piece, but quite fascinating in regards to what it portends. Click here for the rest.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Sixty-five years ago today...

On June 6th 1944, Allied forces commenced on the largest amphibious invasion and assault in recorded history as more than 160,000 personnel landed on five beaches of the Normandy coast in the opening assault on Hitler's supposedly impregnable Festung Europa.

The liberation of western Europe had begun.

Here's the link to the Wikipedia entry, even though there's no way that an encyclopedic article could possibly convey the full scope of Operation Overlord: something that had never been done before and Lord willing, will never be needed again.

But to those who did, who waded ashore on Normandy so that others might be free - and especially to those among them who never came back home - this blogger can only give the most reverent of respects.

LEGO model of the Yamato

Nearly six and a half years in the making. 22 feet from bow to stern. Measuring a meter across at its widest point. 1/40th the scale of the real thing. Nearly a quarter-million individual LEGO pieces. And the whole thing weighs 330 pounds.

Behold the achievement of Jumpei Mitsui, who has faithfully rendered the World War II Japanese battleship Yamato in LEGO...

If this is not the biggest LEGO model of all time, it is certainly the largest one that I know of.

Mash here for more about this incredible model. And thanks to Shane Thacker for the great find!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pastor tells congregation: Bring your guns to church!

A Kentucky minister plans to celebrate the Fourth of July next month along with the Second Amendment... by inviting church members to bring their guns to Sunday service.
New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church June 27, a Saturday. An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.

"We're just going to celebrate the upcoming theme of the birth of our nation," said pastor Ken Pagano. "And we're not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms — without that this country wouldn't be here."

The guns must be unloaded and private security will check visitors at the door, Pagano said.

He said recent church shootings, including the killing Sunday of a late-term abortion provider in Kansas, which he condemned, highlight the need to promote safe gun ownership. The New Bethel Church event was planned months before Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in a Wichita church...

I love it! This pastor has the right idea: freedom never came without the price of vigilance. Good to see that being acknowledged, 'cuz there's nothing wrong with it in the first place.

Blast here for the rest of the story.

Funeral home loses license after chopping off legs to fit corpse in casket

Cave Funeral Services in Allendale, South Carolina is out of business after that state's funeral board revoked its license following the discovery that the mortuary had cut off a tall man's legs in order to fit in inside a casket...
The body of James Hines was exhumed earlier this year because of rumors that circulated after he died in 2004. His widow said investigators told her his legs had been cut off between the ankle and calf to fit the coffin.
If you're a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, you probably are already shaking your head in disbelief since this is something straight out of his short story "In The Vault".

David Carradine dead at 72

The sad news is coming out of Bangkok that actor David Carradine is dead at the age of 72, having apparently took his own life.

Carradine's most iconic role was no doubt as Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970s television show Kung Fu (and as Caine's descendant of the same name in the Nineties series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues). More recently Carradine found new acclaim when he portrayed sadistic assassin Bill in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. Carradine's resume was profound but if you really want to see him shine across his spectrum of acting abilities, I'd suggest watching him as Frankenstein in Roger Corman's Death Race 2000: one of the most fun guilty pleasures of a movie you'll ever find.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

TETRIS turns 25

About the same time in 1984 when the video game industry was crashing in the west, a computer scientist named Alexey Pajitnov was busy playing with his first computer at the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow... and wound up creating one of the most classic - and addictive - games ever.

The Guardian has a great story about Tetris on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary. Among the highlights: how Pajitnov came up with the concept, the tale of how this communist-era game became a capitalist's dream product, and how Tetris has inspired everything from architecture to conspiracy theories.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

DJ & THE FRO will mock my commercial on MTV!

Earlier this evening the good folks at MTV sent along word that their new show DJ & The Fro will be premiering on June 15th (just less than two weeks from tonight). It's a new animated show that in the words of its creators...
Deep in the soul-crushing cubicle maze of Oppercon Industries sit DJ & The Fro, two 20-something slackers who spend their days blowing off work while they find and mock the sickest and most hilarious videos ever to grace the Internet.

What Beavis & Butthead were to the music video generation, DJ & The Fro are to the YouTube generation. They find the best web videos and make jokes about them so you don't have to.

When they're not watching videos, DJ & Fro kill time by doing things like blackmailing pedophiles into doing their work for them, drinking the breast milk of a co-worker, stalking alpacas and sexually harassing one another. Work at Oppercon Industries is a mere distraction from their true passion: being idiots.

And what will be among the first of the videos that DJ and Fro will be wasting their time watching?

None other than my "Star Wars"-ish campaign commercial from when I ran for Rockingham County Board of Education in 2006.

If this is gonna be anything like Beavis and Butthead, then I was already gonna be tuning in. Can't wait to see what they do with my ad :-)

Coolest convenience store commercial ever!

This commercial for Sheetz has been running like crazy on television in this area. Everything about it is made of epic win. Who'da thought that going to a convenience store would be such an enthralling experience? :-)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Does this guy even know how to change a tire?

Meet Brian Deese.

This is who President Obama has put in charge of disassembling General Motors.

He's 31 years old.

He's "a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School".

He had never visited an automobile plant until he got tapped by the Obama Administration.

Again, this is the guy that President Barack Obama has put in charge of the GM bankruptcy.

Does Mr. Deese know anything about the automotive industry? I mean, if he's gonna be overhauling one of the largest manufacturing companies in American history, he should have some real-world experience in management or engineering or something... right?

(Let me put it another way: What the HELL does Obama think he's doing?!?)

Mash down here for the rest of the story of Mr. Deese, that in a saner age would have never happened...

Bigtime payoff in penultimate chapter of WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN

See if this makes any sense: in April readers of Marvel Comics got Wolverine #73, which had nothing to do with the current "Old Man Logan" arc and was mostly a promotional issue for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. But last week Marvel delivered Wolverine #72...

I must ask aloud: was X-Men Origins: Wolverine really worth mucking up the publishing of what many are already calling the greatest comics story ever told about Wolverine?

Probably not. But be of good cheer: Wolverine #72 gets us back on track with "Old Man Logan".

To recap: it's been fifty years since "the night the heroes fell" and Wolverine hasn't popped his claws once since. He has relegated himself to being simply "Logan": a pacifist farmer scratching out a meager existence alongside his wife and children in the wastes of California. When the now-blind ex-Avenger Hawkeye approaches Logan with an offer he can't refuse ('cuz Logan is behind on his rent to the inbred offspring of Bruce Banner) the two former heroes take off across a carved-up America plagued with Moloids, Venom-possessed dinosaurs and worse. And then in Part 5 of "Old Man Logan" we found out why it is that Logan renounced violence and threw down the proverbial sword (read my reaction to that issue here). In the last chapter of "Old Man Logan", Hawkeye and Logan finally arrived at New Babylon with their mysterious package, and at last we find out who is calling the shots of this dystopian vision of America: the Red Skull, now the President of the United States.

If you've been reading "Old Man Logan" already and have been frustrated by the publishing schedule, rest assured that Wolverine #72 will profoundly reward your patience! The initial scenes in the White House with an even more macabre Red Skull and how he's still gloating over his victory a half-century earlier might be some of the most nightmarish images in Marvel history. I dare not say anything else about this issue folks, because if you've been keeping up this far then you really owe it to yourself to go into it cold. But it's a wallop of a read and the final pages will make you forget everything that delayed this issue from coming out.

Oh yeah, you might wanna try reading it a little slower and indulge your senses all the more, because "Old Man Logan" won't be wrapping up until a double-sized issue coming out in September at the earliest. But don't let that stop you from discovering the best Wolverine tale in many a moon and maybe ever: "Old Man Logan" is a must-read whether you're a rabid comics fan or a casual reader.

General Motors files for bankruptcy, taxpayers having to bail it out

Read about it here.

So... who's gonna be the first to buy a car manufactured by the U.S. federal government?

(crickets chirping...)