Saturday, October 31, 2009

Star Wars costumes of Halloweens past

Since last night I've been getting my Jedi Knight costume (yah the very one that I wore to the Board of Education meeting two years ago) ready for this evening. Mostly 'cuz I promised some friends that I'd come by and let their own younglings see it. And I thought it'd be fun to wear it around throughout the rest of the night so I've been ironing the kimono, brushing the cloak and polishing my lightsaber.

It's a fine costume. Movie quality at that! And staffers from Lucasfilm have told me that the lightsaber I made is like something they would have made for a real Star Wars film! Yes, I'm very proud to own some real Jedi threads :-)

But you know: we all have to start somewhere. Every journey has a first step. And it's true with being geeky enough of a Star Wars fan as to make a costume - or more than one - inspired by the saga. When I was a younger punk and going out trickster-treating on Halloween, I usually had one of those vinyl "costumes" with the cheap plastic mask. I was Darth Vader and Yoda and a Stormtrooper back in the day but...

...well, when you get older, and bigger, you realize that you deserve something a bit more "boss".

It took me longer than most would have expected, but in October of 1996 I made my very first "serious" Star Wars costume. It was for the Halloween party the Baptist Student Union at Elon was having at Blue Ribbon in Burlington. I'd been wondering all that month what I should wear. And then one day at Spencer's at Four Seasons Town Centre in Greensboro, just over a week before the party, I spotted a two-piece Darth Vader mask (the kind that Don Post Studios used to make).

"And that's when I went mad, Your Honor..."

It started with the mask. Then I decided that I had to have a black cape. And then a lightsaber. And gloves. And... well, you get the idea. I just couldn't stop until I had made myself as Darth Vader-ish as I possibly could. The chest-box, bits of armor and the boxes on the belt were all cannibalized from one piece of a child's Darth Vader costume that the manager at Halloween Express let me have for free (when I bought the cape). There was also a black vinyl cape that I cut holes for the arms and had that under the main cape and also over the armor and tucked in beneath the belt (so as to achieve that "multiple robes" look). I bought a black pair of jeans just for the occasion and thankfully the Darth Vader lightsaber toy had just hit the toy store shelves. Finishing it off, I used Dad's old black motorcycle boots.

Well, "Darth Vader" was a hit! I even wound up winning the "Best Costume" award at the BSU party. And for the rest of the evening I enjoyed strutting around Elon's campus as the Dark Lord of the Sith (something that would kinda be repeated a week before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out, but that's a story for another time). The one thing that I wish could have been better, though no fault of my own, is that I'm admittedly not as tall as Darth Vader was in the movies! To really pull off a persuasive Vader, you need to be at least six feet tall. Most folks aren't anywhere near David Prowse's height and build. And some people who build extremely good Vader costumes wind up compensating by wearing way padded boots: almost like something you'd find in Gene Simmons' closet. I don't have that sort of stature, and I don't plan on ever making a Vader costume as awesome as some of the fan-made ones that I've seen...

...but on Halloween night 1996, none of that mattered. For one wonderful evening, I was Darth Vader, baby! :-)

So that was what I did with a week to work with. But come the following Halloween, I wanted to spend more effort on the matter. Baptist Student Union was having another Halloween get-together at Blue Ribbon. And emboldened by the previous year's costume, I got a bit daring.

There was no question what I had to do to top Darth Vader. For 1997 it had to be Boba Fett. Including the jetpack.

It took me over a month to build, but in the end I had my Boba Fett costume for Halloween 1997! The helmet is the classic replica that Don Post Studios created. I bought a light-blue jumpsuit from Sears and a gray t-shirt for the "vest". Most of the armor pieces were cut from sheets of aluminum that I bought at Lowe's, then shaped and spray-painted (and I painted Boba's various insignia by hand on them afterward). The codpiece, collar armor and knee armor were cut from placemats found in the kitchen section of Wal-Mart and likewise spray-painted. I bought ammo pouches from an Army surplus store in Greensboro and dyed them a dark enough shade of brown. The gauntlets were made from youth-sized soccer shinguards I found at K-Mart: I just took the hard plastic guards, and epoxied onto each a plastic disposable drinking cup that I cut down the side and added Velcro for easy wearing and removal. The bits on the gauntlets were salvaged from various toys and models (and the "flamethrower" hose is one that I found at my family's old farm). The boots were an old pair that I didn't wear anymore, so I spray-painted them and added cloth "spats" to hide the laces. Mom helped me with the cape.

And the jetpack? Cardboard, for the most part. The "rocket" on top of it was fashioned from three of those cone-shaped air fresheners that you can buy at any grocery store or Target or Wal-Mart. I used two of the bases from the fresheners (I'm telling y'all here and now, that the apartment "Weird" Ed and I had smelled glorious for over a month) to make the tops of the side "cylinders" on the pack. The nozzles were small plastic cups epoxied to balls I found in the sporting goods section of K-Mart, then spray-painted silver and attached to the sides of the pack. The whole thing attached with Velcro and a hidden piece of belt to a strip of armor (also made from placemat) that extended down the back from the collar armor.

Granted, it's possibly the cheapest Boba Fett costume ever assembled. I think the entire thing cost about $200 (and most of that was the price of the helmet). But it looked hella kewl! My friends in Baptist Student Union loved it, and the kids who came into the restaurant couldn't stop oggling it. Then the next day (which was the actual Halloween 1997) I put it on that afternoon and Ed and I walked all over Elon's campus and saw jaws dropping all over the place. The funniest moment came when we went into the student center where a group of prospective students and their parents were being given a tour: I did my best Boba Fett walk, came in, and nodded my helmet toward them. Ehhh... wonder how much enrollment money that lil' stunt cost Elon that day? :-P

Well, that first Boba Fett costume was a knockout! But someday I want to make a much better one: out of vacuu-formed plastic and whatnot. I've met Jeremy Bulloch before: he's the actor who portrayed Boba in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and he and I are the exact same height! So a Boba Fett costume would be all-around sensible to have if I'm gonna dress up as a Star Wars villain.

But in the end, it really isn't how much money and material you can pour into a Star Wars costume, or any costume for that matter. It's the passion you have for a character or a story which really counts. People aren't gonna be impressed by a thousand-dollar getup as much as they are by seeing you having fun with the role and enjoying being something different or odd or both... if even for just one night.

Happy Halloween y'all! :-)

House "health care" bill: Death panels and trial-lawyer protection

The guys at Flopping Aces have gone through the 1,990 page abomination that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has introduced as the House of Representatives(?) version of the health scare "reform" bill.

Yah you read that right: one thousand, nine hundred and ninety pages.

It's calculated to cost $1.28 trillion.

So what's in this... thing?

Abortion funding.

The so-called "death panels" that we have been told repeatedly were just a figment of some people's imagination.

And... get a load of this one:

"Pelsoi inserted a provision which would punish state governments who attempt any kind of law suit abuse reform that would impact lawyers fees."
What. The. Hell. ???

So it's not enough that Congress has decreed that pharmaceutical firms are to be protected from lawsuits stemming from any injury or death that even untested vaccines might cause. Now our "lawmakers" are shielding trial lawyers from tort reform... by way of "health care" legislation?!

Who the hell do these people think they are?

I know what they are not. They certainly do not qualify to be our "representatives". With the exception of possibly two or three people that I can readily think of that are in Washington today, the members of the House and Senate and the Obama White House are so detached from the reality outside the Beltway that they have no understanding or empathy at all with the American people. Pardon my French folks, but these idiots don't have a f#&@ing clue at all about the lives of the people they allege to be "serving".

Do you think Nancy Pelosi gives a flying rat's ass about you or me or anyone else? "Let's hear it for the power!" she cried out when she became Speaker of the House. And that's all that matters to these bastards.

We don't have a government of the people, by the people and for the people anymore, friends and neighbors. Sane people are incapable of even desiring to write up nearly two thousand pages of legislation that will take away personal liberty and put their children's grandchildren into hopeless hock.

So what kind of person is capable of such a thing?

Mull that one over in yer gray matter...

Stimulus jobs are $160,000 each?!?

That's what Jake Tapper at ABC News has reckoned. Figuring that the Obama administration is boating of anywhere between 640,000 and 1 million jobs saved or created because of the "stimulus" package, and that $159 billion was allocated by Congress and President Obama for such purpose, then the most conservative estimate has each rescued job worth $160,000.

The White House economists are calling these figures "calculator abuse". Wish I'd have thought of that one during those many times that I struggled with algebra in eighth grade!

Pssst... hey, President Obama. Wanna really use the government to create jobs and bolster the economy? It's very very simple:

CUT TAXES
AND
CUT SPENDING!!!

NO country in history has ever spent itself into prosperity. America can not possibly be any different.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Chris Knight's Jack-O-Lantern 2009 Edition

Two years ago it was pumpkins carved in the likenesses of the honorable Dr. Ron Paul and a certain local school board member. Then last year it was a Big Daddy from the BioShock video games series.

So what did I do for this year's Halloween?

It's ME!

THAT'll make the neighborhood kids think twice before knocking on the door for candy! :-P

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad driving has a genetic component

Have a horrible driving record? It might be in your DNA. Here's what scientists at the University of California at Irvine have found...
People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it - and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.

"These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away," says Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

This gene variant limits the availability of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor during activity. BDNF keeps memory strong by supporting communication among brain cells and keeping them functioning optimally. When a person is engaged in a particular task, BDNF is secreted in the brain area connected with that activity to help the body respond.

Previous studies have shown that in people with the variant, a smaller portion of the brain is stimulated when doing a task than in those with a normal BDNF gene. People with the variant also don't recover as well after a stroke. Given these differences, the UCI scientists wondered: Could the variant affect an activity such as driving?

"We wanted to study motor behavior, something more complex than finger-tapping," says Stephanie McHughen, graduate student and lead author of the study. "Driving seemed like a good choice because it has a learning curve and it's something most people know how to do."

The driving test was taken by 29 people - 22 without the gene variant and seven with it. They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. Four days later, the test was repeated.

Results showed that people with the variant did worse on both tests than the other participants, and they remembered less the second time. "Behavior derives from dozens and dozens of neurophysiologic events, so it's somewhat surprising this exercise bore fruit," Cramer says.

And we are now one step closer toward understanding my family :-P

Meet the Liberian Analog Blogger

Think the blogosphere needs the Internet? Bah! A dude in Liberia on the west coast of Africa is running a blog devoted to gathering that country's news and in spite of his old-fashioned technique, he's got hordes of readers!
In Monrovia, Liberia, there's a guy taking the matter of a lopsided, state-run media and reshaping it into a free-of-charge, independent news-aggregator—all accomplished with dry-erase board and couple markers. (Sorry, internet!) Each morning, at 10:45 AM, Alfred Sirleaf wakes up and heads down to his bulletin board to post the day's news, culling together a slate of stories his countrymen might otherwise never see. Grateful readers line up in droves, on foot and in cars, to read these updates, in what has been described as the country’s—and probably the world's—only analog blog.
Hit the above link for video of Mr. Sirleaf and his unique "website"!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What has been seen...

...can never be un-seen.

Be mindful of that before you click this link.

Remember: it's your choice. Consider yourself duly warned.

Tricky the Coyote hits car at 75 mph, is trapped between grill and radiator and gets taken on 600 mile ride... and SURVIVES

Sometimes, the headlines simply demand to write themselves.

Crash here for the tale of Daniel East, his sister Tevyn, and how they inadvertently brought Tricky through a harrowing eight-hour scenic tour of the desert wasteland of Utah and Nevada.

Tricky not only lived, but he suffered just a few minor scrapes on his paws.

(And methinks Tricky should sign an endorsement deal with ACME while that iron is still hot.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Electronic Frontier Foundation launches Takedown Hall of Shame!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation - which many of y'all will remember came to the aid of Yours Truly two years ago during that very bizarre situation with Viacom - is now setting out to document "the worst of the worst" of bogus copyright complaints. Hit here for the Takedown Hall of Shame, featuring outrageous acts of DMCA abuse by Warner Brothers, the Nation Organization for Marriage and many more!

(By the way, in my opinion there are few finer organizations out there than the Electronic Frontier Foundation: those guys really go all-out to defend the rights of content creators. If you're feeling so led, ya might wanna consider making a contribution to 'em 'cuz they definitely more than earn it :-)

This weekend only: Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's encore performance of DISNEY'S MULAN JR.


This past month the young actors of Theatre Guild of Rockingham County rocked the house with Disney's Mulan Jr. (starring Jessica Wray as Mulan and Peggy Wasmund as Wushu). In case y'all missed it the first time, be at the new Market Square in Reidsville (ummm... North Carolina) this coming Saturday, October 31st at 4 p.m. 'cuz they're gonna do one more performance. Come out and enjoy the show.

And you'll still have plenty of time for trick-or-treating, too!

BIOSHOCK 2 finally gets a real trailer!

Rapture: the ultimate town without pity. The fallen utopia that brutally demonstrated man's horrific potential without God and law to restrain him.

And it looks like things have gotten even worse in the ten years since the events of BioShock...

BioShock 2 beckons us back under the sea on February 9, 2010.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Popcorn Sutton gets final send-off and public farewell


More than seven months after taking his own life rather than be wrongfully imprisoned, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton has been laid to rest... again. And this time his many admirers had the opportunity they had long desired to pay their final respects to the famed moonshiner, Appalachian legend and completely American original character that was Popcorn Sutton.

Originally buried in Mt. Sterling in North Carolina, Popcorn's widow Pam Sutton cited "problems with vandalism" as the reason for moving and re-interring Popcorn's casket at Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Dandridge, Tennessee: not far from Popcorn's home in Parrotsville.

The move was scheduled for this past Saturday. A public memorial service was also held, attended by hundreds of people including country music legend Hank Williams Jr.

An old-fashioned horse-drawn hearse then brought Popcorn Sutton to his final resting place.

WBIR has more about the service for Popcorn Sutton, including a rather intriguing comment from Hank Williams Jr.

And here are three videos of the service, courtesy of aliciajose on YouTube (thanks aliciajose!)...

Popcorn Sutton Memorial Service Part 2

Popcorn Sutton Memorial Service Part 3

And if y'all wanna know why so many of your friends and neighbors have found Popcorn Sutton and his craft so endearing and enchanting, I cannot possibly recommend enough Neal Hutcheson's award-winning documentary The Last One. This has become the most-watched DVD of my collection in the past year (mostly 'cuz of all the people who keep asking to borrow it! :-)

Wanna see the first eight minutes of ABC's remake of V?

Here ya go!

The Nazi lizards from outer space invade again for the first time next week, November 3rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

2012 "end-of-world" date a miscalculation (by more than two centuries)

Somebody get Roland Emmerich on the horn: his upcoming 2012 movie is gonna be off. Like, waaaay off.

Per the reckoning of a group of scientists being reported in a Dutch journal (link goes to English translation) the popularly-held belief that the Maya calendar predicts the destruction of the world in 2012 is a miscalculation and doesn't even have anything to do with the end times whatsoever. The real end of the Maya cycle of time, according to what these researchers have found, is around 2220... and then the calendar just goes back to the beginning, even as ours ends on December 31st and goes into January 1st.

So like Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5 once said: "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There is always boom tomorrow."

(But if this kind of thing floats your boat, we've still got Sir Isaac Newton's prediction of a 2060 apocalypse looming before us :-)

Rest in peace GeoCities

Fifteen years after it first offered free web space for anybody, GeoCities is shutting down today.

I can't remember the last time that I went to a GeoCities-hosted page. But once upon the time they glittered across cyberspace like sand on the seashore, mostly for "personal home pages". Those are dying out now, being supplanted by blogs like this one.

It can't be said enough though, that a lot of us today took our first steps into that larger world with GeoCities. Mark Milian writes a fine send-off for the service at the Los Angeles Times site and if you want a tribute to just about every GeoCities page that ever got created, click here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So, it has come to this: Chris reviews TWILIGHT

Yeah, I've read Twilight, the first novel of Stephenie Meyer's vampire series that has sold bazillions of copies and is now threatening us with a second motion picture. Even though I'm hardly the target audience for these books, I figured that it's culturally relevant enough to acquaint myself with it.

And I have to report to all two of this blog's faithful readers that much to my surprise, I enjoyed Twilight more than I had anticipated. So far as vampire fiction goes I'm still going to consider Dracula to be the high bar, along with Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles (the first several books anyway). But in Twilight I found a satisfying fulfillment of something I hadn't realized there had been a dearth of: a thoroughly modern-day American vampire mythos.

And that's the thing that makes me want to read the other books in the Twilight series: Meyer does establish quite a deep and empathetic lore in her tale of Bella, Edward and the Cullen clan of vampires. Yeah, they're vampires. I can finally buy into that. Up 'til now, what little I'd known of the vampires in the Twilight books had caused me to muster up a "meh". I mean, "vampires" who aren't afraid of sunlight, aren't repelled by garlic or crucifixes, etc.? Those aren't vampires, those are people with severe eating disorders at most. But having the read the book I kinda like this updated take on the vampire physiology, just as I thought Anne Rice had a brilliant and even sensible basis for vampires in her literature.

In other aspects, Twilight reads much like any romantic novel aimed at adolescents and young adults... and that's fine too. Vampire fiction cuts across a huge swath of genre. In this case it didn't detract from my personal appreciation of the novel at all, and I don't foresee it being a hindrance in my reading the other installments of the Twilight series either.

So if, like me, you've been wandering the bookstore aisles and inwardly debating whether Twilight is a book worth sinking your teeth into (or at least sinking into your wallet and plunking down money for), I'll have to give it a good recommendation.

And maybe sometime I'll even draw up the courage to watch the movie...

Right now I'm watching THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW

Y'all have got to check this out! It's on Cartoon Network and it's based on those cute lil' Marvel Super Hero Squad toys from Hasbro. But don't let that mislead ya: The Super Hero Squad Show is really more like Marvel Comics meets The Family Guy.

What sort of funny are we talking here? Captain America was just on the phone while wearing a Confederate outfit, discussing the re-enactment he's on his way to: "Hey it's the Civil War, what's the worst that could happen?"

Looks like I've found something new to DVR (in addition to those reruns of Are You Being Served? on PBS :-)

What if the Internet was turned off?

"It's the not-to-distant future. They've turned off the Internet. After the riots have settled down and the withdrawal symptoms have faded, how would you cope?"

That's the grim scenario envisioned by Cracked.com, which asked its readers to send in their Photoshop-ped submissions depicting an Internet-addicted society suddenly having to make do without things like Twitter, Nigerian scam e-mails and online porno. At the link you'll find the top twenty entries, each hysterically funny... and clever!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama declares national emergency because of swine flu

Read it here folks.

That's a helluva over-reaction to something that otherwise hasn't been inordinately differently from the typical garden-variety influenza. But to hear it from some people, it's already akin to the 1918 pandemic that killed millions in a very short period of time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

If you can find them, and no one else can help...

...maybe you can hire... The A-Team!

ComingSoon.net has just posted this pic (click to significantly embiggen) of Bradley Cooper as Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as Sgt. "B.A." Baracus, Sharlto Copley as Capt. "Howling Mad" Murdock, and Liam Neeson as John "Hannibal" Smith - along with the team's signature van - from the upcoming film adaptation of the beloved Eighties television series. The movie is out this coming June.

Maybe if we're good boys and girls we'll get a teaser trailer by Christmas :-)

N.C. State engineers create chip with storage out the wazoo

Some cutting-edge stuff coming out of North Carolina State University: researchers there have created a chip the size of a human fingernail that can store... get this... a TERABYTE of data!

In layman's terms that's about 20 high-definition DVDs or 250 million pages of text.

The engineers made their breakthrough using the process of selective doping, in which an impurity is added to a material whose properties consequently change.

Working at the nanoscale, the engineers added metal nickel to magnesium oxide, a ceramic. The resulting material contained clusters of nickel atoms no bigger than 10 square nanometers -- a pinhead has a diameter of 1 million nanometers. The discovery represents a 90% size reduction compared with today's techniques, and an advancement that could boost computer storage capacity.

Click here for the official press release from Dr. Jagdish "Jay" Narayan and his team at N.C. State., including how the processes they've discovered can also be applied to fuel economy, reduction of heat in semiconductors and engine design.

I'm already giddy about the thought of one of those chips in an iPod...

Nifty, Nifty: "Weird Al" Yankovic is FIFTY!

Fifty years ago today, on October 23rd 1959 in the little burg of Downey, California, proud parents Nick and Mary Yankovic celebrated the arrival of a son. They dubbed their newly-spawned offspring Alfred.

A few years later a door-to-door salesman arrived at the Yankovic home in nearby Lynwood and offered either guitar or accordion lessons at a nearby school. Nick and Mary chose the accordion.

And with that fateful decision, the world would never be the same again...


Along with millions of his fans throughout the world, The Knight Shift blog and its proprietor wishes a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to "Weird Al" Yankovic!

God bless you and yours Al. Can't wait to see what the next fifty years bring from ya :-)

(And while we're on the subject, why not celebrate Al's birthday by giving him some hard-earned royalties? Mash down here to order The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic 2-disc CD set, due out this coming Tuesday!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Man pleads guilty on charge of drunk-driving his La-Z-Boy

62-year-old Dennis LeRoy Anderson has rigged his La-Z-Boy recliner with a lawnmower motor, stereo and cup holders for his beer. Last year following drinking "eight or nine beers" Anderson crashed his... thing... into a parked car after leaving a bar in Duluth, Minnesota.

Anderson has now plead guilty to a DWI charge. The judge has sentenced him to two years of probation.

(That is definitely a new one for the "Hold muh beer and watch this..." file!)

Understanding Einstein's energy

Energy Tribune has a BRILLIANT essay by William Tucker about Albert Einstein's classic equation E=mc2: the formula describing the interchangeability between mass and energy. Tucker's essay not only lays out E=mc2 in terms that anyone can easily grasp, it also argues why current efforts at renewable energy are not sufficient. Instead, Tucker lays out a solid case - using simple mathematics - for the use of nuclear energy and why it has a far less malign impact on the environment than we have come to accept. If you want an eye-opener of a read, check it out!

Awright, 'fess up y'all

How many poor saps out there were waiting in line at midnight to buy a copy of the Windows 7 operating system?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Claudville, Virginia gets first public white-space network

The town of Claudville in Patrick County, Virginia - a place where I have lots of ancestral roots - is the launching site of the much-awaited white-space network technology! Described as "Wi-Fi on steroids", white-space allows for much more bandwidth over larger areas. A bunch of it just got freed-up from switchover to digital television transmission earlier this year (what, you didn't think that all that spectrum was just gonna go to waste, didja?). This first network comes as a result of collaboration between Microsoft, Dell and Spectrum Bridge.

Okay well what I wanna know is: does the Wal-Mart in Patrick Springs carry white-space routers already??

Gears of War Snuggie


Epic Games PR lass Dana Cowley has Twitter-ed about the latest creation from Epic's studio a few towns over in Cary: a prototype Gears of War snuggie! Yes, you can now wrap yourself in luxurious warmth and the body armor of legendary COG hero Marcus Fenix... all at once!

Ehhhh... personally I'd rather have official Gears of War Underoos :-P

It's that time of year again


And if you buy extra boxes of chocolate chip, the Girls Scouts will even give "protection" for your place of business.

Russia watches American "Self Immolation"

'Tis painfully ironic that these observations are being made in Pravda, of all places. Stanislav Mishin writes...
It can be safely said, that the last time a great nation destroyed itself through its own hubris and economic folly was the early Soviet Union (though in the end the late Soviet Union still died by the economic hand). Now we get the opportunity to watch the Americans do the exact same thing to themselves. The most amazing thing of course, is that they are just repeating the failed mistakes of the past. One would expect their fellow travelers in suicide, the British, to have spoken up by now, but unfortunately for the British, their education system is now even more of a joke than that of the Americans...

(snip)

That brings us to Cap and Trade. Never in the history of humanity has a more idiotic plan been put forward and sold with bigger lies. Energy is the key stone to any and every economy, be it man power, animal power, wood or coal or nuclear. How else does one power industry that makes human life better (unless of course its making the bombs that end that human life, but that's a different topic). Never in history, with the exception of the Japanese self imposed isolation in the 1600s, did a government actively force its people away from economic activity and industry.

Even the Soviets never created such idiocy. The great famine of the late 1920s was caused by quite the opposite, as the Soviets collectivized farms to force peasants off of their land and into the big new factories. Of course this had disastrous results. So one must ask, are the powers that be in Washington and London degenerates or satanically evil? Where is the opposition? Where are the Republicans in America and Tories in England?

Twenty years ago communism collapsed under its own weight and today the people of the former Soviet Union get to watch the same thing happen to the United States, slowly but surely. Those folks know of what they speak probably better than most anyone else on the planet.

There's plenty more harsh truth in the rest of Mishin's essay.

BATMAN & ROBIN is the most important comic book movie ever

So sayeth Marvel's president Kevin Feige... and it's pretty hard to disagree with his logic. 1997's fourth and final installment of the original Batman film franchise, notes Feige, "was so bad that it demanded a new way of doing things. It created the opportunity to do X-Men and Spider-Man, adaptations that respected the source material and adaptations that were not campy." Batman & Robin was such an atrocious waste of celluloid that it's now deemed the benchmark at which comic book film-making hit rock bottom and began the climb toward sincere and serious adaptations like The Dark Knight... because at that point things certainly couldn't have gotten any worse!

GeekTyrant has more thoughts from Feige. And also from Batman & Robin scribe Akiva Goldsman, who demonstrates enough sincere repentance about the mess that was Batman & Robin that maybe we should finally forgive him and Joel Schumacher for their involvement. In retrospect Warner Brothers was hellbent on making an overblown toy commercial, and not a real movie...

(But it also goes without saying that others before have also claimed that "we were only following orders".)

What the...?!?

Sesame Street has spoofed AMC's Mad Men?!?

Considering that once upon a time Sesame Street did a parody of Twin Peaks starring Cookie Monster, can't really say that I'm surprised Children's TelevisionSesame Workshop would also adapt what is currently one of television's hottest shows for pee-wee appreciation :-)

Next month begins Sesame Street's fortieth season. Wonder if they could do a send-up of House or Lost sometime...

Sequoia accidentally releases source code for its voting machines!

I absolutely hate, hate, HATE the very idea of electronic voting. Cannot say nearly enough rotten about it. I've no doubt that a lot of our more recent elections have been compromised and rigged - one way or another - by paperless tabulation. In a saner age, enough Americans would have gotten honked-off enough to have marched on the corporate headquarters of Diebold and Sequoia, burned the buildings down and sown the sites with salt.

Well friends and neighbors, tonight I get to grin a big 'un: Sequoia has inadvertently released the source code of its voting machines and... wonder upon wonders... already the code is shown to be breaking election law!

"Sequoia blew it on a public records response. ... They appear... to have just vandalized the data as valid databases by stripping the MS-SQL header data off, assuming that would stop us cold. They were wrong. The Linux 'strings' command was able to peel it apart. Nedit was able to digest 800-MB text files. What was revealed was thousands of lines of MS-SQL source code that appears to control or at least influence the logical flow of the election, in violation of a bunch of clauses in the FEC voting system rulebook banning interpreted code, machine modified code and mandating hash checks of voting system code."
Want to examine the code for yourself? studysequoia.wikispaces.com has whatcha need!

And truth be told, right now I'm kicking myself for having nearly flunked-out of that C computer programming class I took during my first semester at Elon. But I harbor no doubt: better minds than mine in such matters are going to be picking out a bunch of interesting - and quite possibly very illegal - stuff from this code.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BioShock Big Daddy action figure

For $20 you can now get this latest entry from the "Things We Don't Really Need But Are Lusting For Terribly" file: the BioShock Big Daddy Ultra Deluxe Action Figure! Those big lumbering brutes that once guarded the Little Sisters in Rapture can now be guarding your desktop. Figure comes with full articulation, removable oxygen tank and deadly drill arm. Doesn't look like the helmet is removable though (which might be a good thing).

Click here for more product and ordering info, would you kindly?

DEATH TROOPERS prequel coming October 2010!

Joe Schreiber has already turned in the manuscript for a prequel to his just-released Star Wars: Death Troopers novel. The book is now scheduled for an early October 2010 release. In an interview on StarWars.com Schreiber says that the next book will deal with (SPOILER highlight with mouse to read) the origin of the virus that got loose on that Star Destroyer and turned so many people into zombies.

Incidentally, here's my review from a few days ago of Star Wars: Death Troopers. This book has fast found an enthused audience: some are saying that it's one of the freshest Star Wars stories in quite a long while. And ever since I finished reading it, it's been in my mind that Lucasfilm is sitting on a huge opportunity here for a Star Wars "side franchise". I'm talking 'bout video games, action figures, more books... lots more stuff inspired by this newly-minted horror facet of the saga. Hey, maybe even a full-blown Star Wars horror TV movie on Syfy or Cartoon Network: that would sooo rock!

Monday, October 19, 2009

U.S. Senate's health care bill: 1,502 pages long

That's gotta be a helluva big hopper that this bill was placed into.

(It would be better for the entire country and our posterity if it had been dumped into a trash can instead.)

S. 1796 has been filed. The Senate's version of "health care reform" is one thousand, five hundred and two pages long.

What the hell is inside that thing?

Here's the link to a PDF file of this monstrosity if you're so inclined.

On truth and love...

Truth in love is virtuous, but truth without love is vanity and worse.

Creepiest doll commercial of all time

It's Baby Laugh A-Lot!

I don't know what's scarier: this ad's production values, or that once upon a time children and at least one too many adults found this toy even mildly amusing...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FDIC without adequate funds until 2012 (at least)

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is in the red, and it's going to stay that way for another two years.

Meanwhile the ninety-ninth federally-insured bank this year has gone under.

Looks like I'm gonna have to begin stockpiling some more "breadlines" photos to use...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Video game console war building out, not reaching up

Gamasutra's Kris Graft has written an interesting piece about the changing face of the multi-billion dollar video game console industry... and why it's no longer about building "the next big thing" and rushing it into production. Blame Nintendo's Wii for the revolution: motion control has become the biggest innovation for video gaming, and now Microsoft and Sony are working on entering the foray with Project Natal and Sony's planned motion-based controller. But rather than waiting for the next generation of consoles, these features are being implemented into the already-existing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. And that's a good thing for everyone concerned...
...for Sony and Microsoft, motion controllers are their next-gen consoles. And it's a damn sight easier than launching Xbox 720 or PS4. They can debut these peripherals without needing to engineer completely new boxes for consumers, potentially bundle them over time, and they have a much better chance at getting exclusive games, thanks to the specificity of the hardware (something that's happened a lot for the Wii). Thus, both hardware manufacturers and publishers like EA see these controllers sparking new interest in Xbox 360 and PS3, which will delay the next dreaded console transition for another few years.
It also means that we won't have to be dreading the adoption of a next-gen console anytime soon... so that'll save some coin in the short term :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

30-second promo for AMC's remake of THE PRISONER looks VERY promising!

My mind is still trying to wrap itself around the concept of remaking The Prisoner. Heck, my mind is still trying to wrap itself around everything associated with the original television series. But this promo for the new miniseries starring Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellan... has absolutely put The Prisoner on my must-watch list.

Does it look like Rover got a massive upgrade, or what?

The Prisoner beckons us back to The Village on November 15th.

An observation...

Faith defended is mere religion.

The art of Matt vanLieshout

Friend of The Knight Shift Matt vanLieshout (shown in self-portrait) is an up-and-coming artist blessed with an abundance of talent. And after you check out his blog Liquid Electricity, I've no doubt that you will agree. Some of Matt's charcoal renderings are especially eye-arresting: they look like photographs instead of work of the hand! Check out his stuff now, so you can tell your kids later on that you saw Matt here first before he rocketed to fame and fortune :-)

Sand-based battery lasts THOUSANDS of hours

You can't recharge it - yet anyway - but a new battery designed at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel could revolutionize everything from cellphones to electric cars. Prof. Yair Ein-Eli (pictured) worked for almost three years with partners in the United States and Japan to develop the battery which gets its power from, of all things, silicon from plain ol' sand. The new battery is said to provide constant power for thousands of hours, is extremely efficient, and is already drawing considerable commercial interest. It is also very safe on the environment.

Sounds like a winner to me. We could soon see the day when these things are powering our cars... and we can then tell OPEC, literally, to go pound sand :-P

Here's a song dedication going out to Falcon Heene

Yeah, the kid from Colorado who was thought to have taken a ride in that balloon yesterday and then cryptically said on national television "We did this for a show".

Here is "Up, Up and Away" by The Fifth Dimension...

Now, let us never speak of this again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Japanese TV show fakes sniper attack (and it's pretty funny)

Ahhh, Japan. A country of good-natured people who seem to take everything to the extreme! Where else in the world can you find $150 plates of potentially lethal fish so readily available?

I've already shared with y'all some Japanese prank videos. But this next one is definitely over-the-edge darkly hilarious: a Japanese hidden camera "reality" television show fakes a sniper attack on an unsuspecting contestant. Panic Face King is kinda like Candid Camera meets Scare Tactics.

Watch the mayhem! And this is the sort of thing that, for once, you don't need to worry about a translation :-)

The 24 countdown timer sound effect is a particularly nice touch :-P

Is the LHC's own future sabotaging itself?

See if you can wrap your noggin around this one: the Large Hadron Collider - that super-powered high-energy thingamabob at CERN in Switzerland that previously had been predicted would destroy the world - is now theorized to be the first observed occurrence of the "grandfather paradox" of time travel!

According to two physicists, the LHC's mission to produce the hypothesized and long-sought Higgs boson is damned to failure by its own future. The reason? Because the Higgs boson "might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather". And according to Holger Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, this "predestination" from the Higgs particle goes far beyond screwing up a laboratory experiment: the failure of the United States government to finish building the Superconducting Supercollider is cited as possible evidence that the Higgs boson is wrecking havoc across spacetime from the future.

Here's that link again, if you still dare to look further into the abyss.

DEATH TROOPERS: Gory good horror in the Star Wars galaxy!

Star Wars: Death Troopers is the craziest detour I've ever taken as a life-long fan of the saga. When word of this book came awhile back, the notion of a Star Wars horror novel... aroused considerable curiosity, concern and consternation. Yeah, Star Wars had (kinda) attempted scary literature before but let's get real: the Galaxy of Fear "young adult" books only came about 'cuz of a desire to tag along with the then-wildly successful Goosebumps series.

Death Troopers however, is the first-ever stab at blood-curdling horror in that galaxy far, far away.

So... did author Joe Schreiber pull it off?

Death Troopers is the kind of Star Wars story that I've been wanting to enjoy for a long time but didn't realize until I'd finished reading it: a good, solid stand-alone tale rife with action and without the baggage of moral dilemma or political metaphor. As a horror novel, however...

I've no doubt it's probably just personal taste. The perfect kind of horror in literature, in my mind, is the kind evoked by writers like H.P. Lovecraft, or Richard Matheson. The sort of gnawing uncertainty about being cast alone and adrift with no idea what the hell is making that god-awful sound behind the walls.

On that note, Death Troopers almost satisfies completely as a horror story in its own right. Not quite all the way though.... but enough that I have to note that I am very much looking forward to Schreiber's next Star Wars horror novel (which he is already writing). Death Troopers is certainly the most visceral Star Wars story in a great many moon. Some of the stuff that Schreiber came up with is maximum gross-out: nightmarish in our "real" world but put it in the Star Wars universe and the effect is particularly disconcerting. I liked that!

Death Troopers isn't that totally perfect horror entry for the saga, and it doesn't have to be either. This was the first time anything like this has been tried... and with Death Troopers Schreiber has definitely proven that there is a very rich potential of horror genre for Star Wars that has until now not been tapped into.

For a Star Wars novel, I enjoyed Death Troopers immensely and would recommend it to all of my fellow saga geeks out there. And I'm not gonna let this review go without saying that I for one would love to see LucasArts consider a Star Wars horror video game inspired by Death Troopers! There's a real BioShock/Dead Space kinda vibe that Schreiber evokes in this book, and it would translate brilliantly into a first-person shooter :-)

Boy Scouts under assault from insane zero-tolerance policies

Matthew Whalen is an Eagle Scout from upstate New York. He got suspended for a month from school for having a pocketknife in his car while it was parked on his school's campus.

Zachary Christie is a six-year old Cub Scout from Delaware who was sentenced to 45 days in reform school. His "crime"? Bringing a spork (combination spoon and fork) to school so that he could use it to eat his pudding.

Fortunately however, the ensuing public uproar embarrassed administrators enough to bring Christie back to his regular school. And Whalen has been assured by West Point Military Academy that his situation will not be a mark against him when he applies for admission (something he has dreamed of since first grade).

It's "zero tolerance" craziness like this that has contributed a lot to a loss of faith in America's public education system. What the hell is going on when we as a people are getting indoctrinated from an early age to fear things like plastic knives?!

But at least Matthew Whalen has nothing to be worried about. Before too long, he'll be strutting proudly across campus... carrying a machine gun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baptist church will burn Bibles on Halloween

Marc Grizzard (pictured at right), pastor of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina and its fourteen members, has announced that his church will hold a book-burning this coming Halloween. Among the tomes to be incinerated are every version of the Bible other than the King James Version, various works of Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and Rick Warren. Also set for consignment to fire are country music, oldies and jazz tunes.

Here's Grizzard's press release...

Halloween Book Burning
Burning Perversions of God’s Word
October 31, 2009

7:00 PM – Till

Great Preaching and Singing

Come to our Halloween book burning. We are burning Satan’s bibles like the NIV, RSV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, ect. These are perversions of God’s Word the King James Bible.

We will also be burning Satan’s music such as country , rap , rock , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel , contempory Christian , jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc.

We will also be burning Satan’s popular books written by heretics like Westcott & Hort , Bruce Metzger, Billy Graham , Rick Warren , Bill Hybels , John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll , John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham , Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn , Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa , The Pope , Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, etc.

We are not burning Bibles written in other languages that are based on the TR. We are not burning the Wycliffe, Tyndale, Geneva or other translations that are based on the TR.

We will be serving Bar-b-Que Chicken, fried chicken, and all the sides.

If you have any books or music to donate, please call us for pick-up. If you like you can drop them off at our church door anytime. Thanks.

Well, at least they'll also be serving fried chicken...

Seriously though folks, I thought there was something way familiar with Grizzard's litany of hate. So I went looking and sure enough: Marc Grizzard's church comes highly recommended by David Cloud. Anyone with even passing knowledge of "King James Only-ism" will be familiar with that name. David Cloud, through his Way of Life Literature website, has been a longtime worshiper of the King James Bible. Yeah, I said "worshiper" because these people have put their interpretation of the Bible in a place above that of Christ Himself. And King James-onlyists adore David Cloud: they have itching ears for whatever vile vitriol he cranks out against... well, everything that's not "Bible-believing Baptist".

Grizzard, Cloud and their kind have literally made an idol out of the King James Bible.

Ironically, as much as they claim to follow the King James Bible, they seem awfully ignorant of the words of the 1611 Authorized Edition's own translators in their preface to the book...

"Now to the latter we answer, that we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the Word of God, nay, is the Word of God."
Grizzard should be rejoicing that the Bible is so available to everyone. As it is, Grizzard and people like him trust in their own feeble understanding more than they trust God to draw people unto Him.

And in the end, what Grizzard is doing will only repel people from Christ, unfortunately.

Neato meteorological special effect: Halo over Moscow

Fear not! The aliens aren't coming (yet anyway) but this luminous halo over western Moscow a few days ago has sparked worldwide curiosity. Many are saying it looks a lot like the arrival of the giant ships from the movie Independence Day. But meteorologists on the scene are reporting that it's merely a very peculiar effect of sunlight shining through the clouds during a convergence of an Arctic air front over the city.

Celebrating a century of copyright paranoia

For all the frustration that independent content producers such as myself are running into with multi-billion dollar media companies regarding YouTube and other self-publishing outlets, it's comforting to know that we are not the first... and no doubt won't be the last either.

Putting it into perspective, Nate Anderson has composed a very good piece over at Ars Technica titled "100 years of Big Content fearing technology-in its own words". In it Anderson documents a century of hysteria on the part of copyright holders that in retrospect is absolutely laughable: everything from fears of the photocopier after World War II and how some dreaded the coming of the VCR, on back to John Philip Sousa's screed against player pianos and gramophones (pictured). It's only too interesting to note that in spite of all of the "warnings", that there has been no evidence at all that technology has stifled creativity... or that the copyright industry has done anything to encourage creativity, for that matter. Quite a rollickin' good read no matter where you're coming from.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Spotted: Bald Eagle in Rockingham County!

Of all the times that I didn't have my camera with me, it had to be on the way back from a bookstore in Greensboro today... sigh.

But I've no doubt what it was that I saw here in Rockingham County, North Carolina a short while ago. At a national conference for the Boy Scouts of America's Order of the Arrow in Colorado years ago I got to see a Bald Eagle way up close: those birds are positivalutely HUGE!

I spotted the Bald Eagle from my car at about 3 p.m. this afternoon, just off U.S. 158. Soaring at not too great a height over a field off to my right. I've never seen a beak that brilliantly yellow in these parts and that's what caught my eye. That and the wingspan. It soon glided off west into the woods and I lost sight of it. But I'm not gonna soon forget seeing it :-)

The first trailer for TOY STORY 3


I don't think I've ever been jazzed about an upcoming Pixar movie as I am finding myself to be about Toy Story 3.

And this first trailer is making me even more stoked about it.

No YouTube for this one folks. It's the rare trailer which demands that you behold it in full vivid Quicktime.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm a Fireman!

Well, I get to be one in Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, anyway :-)

Finally saw ZOMBIELAND today!

This afternoon I hooked up with good friend/fellow blogger Steven Glaspie and we caught Zombieland. This is hands-down the funniest movie that I've seen all year! Much better than I had expected going in. It's like National Lampoon's Vacation meets 28 Days Later! Woody Harrelson's character Tallahassee is definitely one of the most outrageously original characters in recent film history. Steven and I both thought that Zombieland should be turned into a video game: there's definitely a Doom 3-ish vibe going on here (with a bit of old school Duke Nukem). And this movie has one of the most hilarious cameos - featuring a well-known actor - that I've seen lately.

Definitely worth seeing during its first run, folks. Zombieland is one amusement park that will definitely have you screaming with thrills!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Something clever...

Composed by a friend this evening...

In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

In Two-Thousand freakin' Nine,
we all fear a flu called 'swine'.

-- Brett Williams

Wanna see my appearance on THE JAY LENO SHOW?

Well, it was just "that Star Wars school board campaign commercial"... but at least I can now honestly brag about having made Jay Leno and a studio audience laugh on national television! :-)

I put the clip of The Jay Leno Show featuring my commercial (along with a few others from around the country) during this past Thursday night's broadcast on YouTube.  Click here to behold Yours Truly's visual effects and Melody Hallman Daniel's awesome voice-over entertaining the entire country in prime-time!

However I don't know how long it'll be up on YouTube, 'cuz as soon as I posted it the system told me that NBC Universal had already flagged it for possible infringement... which I'm thinking is just an automated response to the keywords I attached to the video.  But even so, after EVERYTHING that I've gone through in the past few years pertaining to copyright law (yeah I'm looking at you Sumner Redstone) there's no way I would have put this on YouTube had it not met the criteria of Fair Use.  So hopefully, this is just something minor that will be resolved quickly.  And hey, I'm giving free advertising for Jay Leno's show :-)

EDIT 8:24 p.m. EST: The infamous NBC lawyers must have let up, or something. Here's the embedded video!

We'll see how long it lasts though :-P

1/3rd of dinosaur species... may have never existed to begin with


Call it "genus-cide".  Over a thousand species of Dinosauria have been identified since Sir Richard Owen first came up with the term in 1842.  And now perhaps a third of the dinosaurs known to date stand to get wiped out of the taxonomy, according to National Geographic News.

The problem, according to paleontologists Mark Goodwin and Jack Horner, is that many of the dinosaurs marked as unique species were actually pre-pubescent juveniles of other species! In one example cited, a variant of tyrannosaur that was previously considered to be a relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex was probably nothing but a young T-Rex before his "hormones kicked in".

It's funny: I'm old enough to remember when dinosaurs were regarded as slow-moving cold-blooded beasts that dragged their tails on the ground. Which as we know, isn't anything like how the latest research and pop culture currently depicts them as. And now maybe one-third of known dinosaurs never existed at all.

'Course, all of this is entirely within the realm of speculation since nobody has reported observing a real dinosaur before... right? :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Whirlpool closes plant of 1,100 workers in Indiana, builds new one in Mexico

And gaw-aww-lly! The new Whirlpool plant in Mexico will employ... wait for it... 1,100 workers!

America is fast and furiously becoming a nation built around a service economy, as opposed to being the manufacturing powerhouse that we once were not so long ago.

And sooner than later, that service economy is going to become all tapped out, with nothing to replenish it.

As angry as a lot of people will be at Whirlpool for this, they should be even more filled with wrath at the politicians in the United States who have driven away domestic industry with high corporate and individual taxation. Slash taxes across the board, impose new but fair tariffs on imports, and this country's economy will zoom through the roof.

Too bad we are sorely lacking visionary elected officials who would even conceive of doing such a thing, though...

Willy Wonka's Tunnel of Hell... reversed!

Kinda makes you wonder what Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would have been like had David Lynch made it...

THAT's gonna leave a mental scar! :-P

Friday, October 09, 2009

TRICK 'R TREAT is out on DVD (and Blu-ray too) this week!


Oh geez... how did this one slip under my radar?

I'm going to always think of myself as one lucky son of a gun for having the extremely rare opportunity of enjoying Michael Dougherty's Trick 'R Treat the way it was meant to be seen: on a big screen with a huge crowd of fellow film fans (it was at Butt-Numb-A-Thon 9 two years ago). And we were told then that Trick 'R Treat was supposed to have been released last year in time for Halloween... but for whatever reason the suits at Warners quashed what would have been a fall box-office bonanza.

But at last, however it came to be, Trick 'R Treat can be enjoyed by the wide audience it deserves.

Slash here for the link to Amazon.com where you can purchase the DVD of Trick 'R Treat. I'm not earning any coin from this pitch. All I'm getting is satisfaction of knowing that I'm doing my part to spread the word about an amazing lil' horror film, one that those of us who saw it in 2007 knew was the stuff of modern classic. Check it out, however you can!

The most scariest words that people all too often hear from me...

I have an idea.

Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

Why?

My commercial was on THE JAY LENO SHOW?!?

I'm getting MULTIPLE reports that my school board campaign commercial from 2006 was featured on The Jay Leno Show on NBC tonight! I didn't get to see it: 'tis been a very busy evening, including auditioning for a community theater production and then grabbing some dinner. When I got back, the e-mail box had lit up like a Christmas tree.

Suffice it to say, I'm very interested in watching this to see how it played out :-)

Thanks to everyone who's been sending in the nice e-mails about it. And if you're just now finding this blog because of Jay Leno running my ad: welcome! Hope you'll like what you find here :-)

EDIT: Last night's The Jay Leno Show is now up on Hulu! Hit the link and go to about 36 minutes into the show.

The entire segment is hilarious! :-)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

John Elway denounces you as a terrorist, citizen!

So according to former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway in this video produced with the Department of Homeland Security, you are a potential terrorist if you: have guns, use binoculars, take pictures, use e-mail, talk on the telephone, give to charity, buy gold, look at the time on your watch, and plenty of other things that you otherwise would never have thought would be incriminating behavior.

Behold our government's latest performance of Security Theatre:

This is more than ridiculous. The people of Colorado and all Americans should feel insulted by their own government, that it would even suggest that we are as cowed and paranoid as this video suggests. What the #&@$ was Elway thinking when he agreed to help make this crap?

NASA will bomb the Moon tomorrow

(Sounds like a Weekly World News headline, don't it? :-)


I'm praying that we will keep having clear skies until later tomorrow, 'cuz at around 7:30 a.m. EDT (and 4:30 in the morning for y'all on the West Coast) NASA's LCROSS mission will literally "shoot the Moon".

LCROSS - short for "Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite -is looking for frozen water and other potentially cool stuff (no pun intended) that might be lurking in the shadows of Luna.  Tomorrow morning LCROSS will release a heavy projectile probe.  Not long afterward the probe will impact around the crater Cabeus A near the Moon's south pole, and the expectant plume of vapor, dust and debris will be analyzed by the LCROSS main satellite (its orbit will carry it through the hoped-for cloud).

And depending on how much good junk gets kicked up we might be able to see this from Earth!  I'm gonna be outside tomorrow morning with my trusty 3-inch refractor and a good pair of binoculars.  But some are also saying that this might be briefly visible with the naked eye.  If nothing else, NASA TV has a streaming video feed online where you can watch it live wherever you happen to be, and there's also the official NASA page for LCROSS's mission profile.




"To the Moon, Alice! RIGHT TO THE MOON!"

Edgar Allan Poe finally getting proper funeral (160 years later!)

Awright, before anyone get's too freaked-out: that is not the real Edgar Allan Poe in a pine box! But it is an incredibly life (or death)-like simulation created by Baltimore-based effects wiz Eric Supensky, commissioned by Jeff Jerome (looking on "Edgar"'s body) of the Poe House and Museum.

A hundred and sixty years after Poe's ignoble death and hasty funeral, the father of modern horror is about to get the funeral that he's always deserved. The Poe House has held public viewings of "Poe" this week, which will culminate in a true period-style funeral this coming Sunday...

Poe's cousin, Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly. Fewer than 10 people attended the hasty funeral for one of the 19th century's greatest writers. And the injustices piled on. Poe's tombstone was destroyed before it could be installed, when a train derailed and crashed into a stonecutter's yard. Rufus Griswold, a Poe enemy, published a libellous obituary that damaged Poe's reputation for decades.

But on Sunday, Poe's funeral will get an elaborate do-over, with two services expected to draw about 350 people each - the most a former church next to his grave can hold. Actors portraying Poe's contemporaries and other long-dead writers and artists will pay their respects, reading eulogies adapted from their writings about Poe.
"We are following the proper etiquette for funerals. We want to make it as realistic as possible," said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum.

Advance tickets are sold out, although Jerome will make some seats available at the door to ensure packed houses. Fans are travelling from as far away as Vietnam...

The body will lie in state for 12 hours Wednesday at the Poe House, a tiny rowhome in a gritty section of west Baltimore. Visitors are invited to pay their respects.

Following the viewing will be an all-night vigil at Poe's grave at Westminster Burying Ground. Anyone who attends will have the opportunity to deliver a tribute.
On Sunday morning, a horse-drawn carriage will transport the replica of Poe's body from his former home to the graveyard for the funeral.

Actor John Astin, best known as Gomez Addams on TV's "The Addams Family," will serve as master of ceremonies.

"It's sort of a way of saying, 'Well, Eddie, your first funeral wasn't a very good one, but we're going to try to make it up to you, because we have so much respect for you,"' said Astin, who toured as Poe for years in a one-man show.

The service won't be a total lovefest, however. The first eulogy will come from none other than Griswold.

"People are asking me, 'Jeff, why are you inviting him? He hated Poe!"' Jerome said. "The reason is, most of these people defended Poe in response to what he said about Poe's life, so we can't have this service without having old Rufus sitting in the front row, spewing forth his hatred."

Eulogies will follow from actors portraying, among others, Sarah Helen Whitman, a minor poet whom Poe courted after his wife's death, and Walt Whitman, who attended the dedication of Poe's new gravestone in 1875 but didn't feel well enough to speak. Writers and artists influenced by Poe, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Alfred Hitchcock, will also be represented.

"Annoyed as I am with Baltimore sometimes, I have to give them credit," said Philadelphia-based Poe scholar Edward Pettit, who argues his city was of greater importance to Poe's life and literary career. "Baltimore has done an awful lot to maintain the legacy of Poe over the last 100-some years."

Look under the floorboards here for more about Poe's fitting final farewell!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dell closing Winston-Salem planet

The state of North Carolina and local governments ponied-up $208 million in tax incentives and other deals in order to entice Dell to open up its huge manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem. The place has only been in operation since 2005 and employs nearly a thousand people.

Starting next month and on through the holidays, all of 'em are gonna be looking for new jobs.

Dell announced today that its Winston-Salem factory will be shut down, even though this heinously violates the agreements between Dell and the governments here when Dell first arrived.

How the hell did this happen?

And I hate to say "I told you so" buuuuuuttt... this is so way part of why I despise "economic incentive" deals that local governments use to lure potential businesses to their area. It's not only ethically wrong, but there is no guarantee for success. If governments want to bolster the economy, they should slash taxes across the board for everyone: both individuals and corporate. That is why our manufacturing economy keeps relocating overseas and why a lot of companies have become loath to set down new roots in this country.

But, all of this is academic. Tonight, 905 people in this area are realizing that they will no longer have a job come Christmas.

If any of them are reading this: y'all are in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday morning musing

Modern wisdom is posterity's comedy.

Google celebrates birth of the bar code


And they do it the only way that those sly minds at Google could do it: by rendering "Google" into a UPC symbol for the day!

Scan here for more about the history of the ubiquitous barcode.

But of course, this day couldn't go by without a mention of what remains, more than thirty years later, the funniest/most spiteful UPC symbol of all time: the cover of MAD Magazine #198!


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I'm a "Creep"

This was the scene last night at Backstreet Buzz Coffee House in Reidsville during karaoke, when I performed Radiohead's hit song "Creep"...


(Incidentally, it's a version without the "f" words, like the "Creep" you play in the video game Rock Band.)

Much like my infamous rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody", this wasn't done while trying to emulate the emotion of the original: it was just for fun (but I might attempt a more "serious"-feeling performance sometime).

Backstreet Buzz is at 234 SW Market Street in Reidsville, North Carolina. Karaoke every Monday night and live local talent performing quite often throughout the week. And the food is excellent!

Monday, October 05, 2009

First pic of Seth Rogen as THE GREEN HORNET (and something I'm dying to know about this movie...)

Here's the first photo of Seth Rogen in costume from the upcoming The Green Hornet movie...

Hmmm... dunno. Nicolas Cage has already bowed out of this project, on grounds that the villain he was set to play was too "one-dimensional". And Rogen's duds look too much like a cosplay getup.

But here's what I'm really wondering most of all about The Green Hornet movie: will the connection to the Lone Ranger be touched upon?

If so, and if done respectfully, this film could have a great tone to it. And if you're wondering just what the heck I'm talking about, then use your mouse (or your finger if you're using an iPhone) to swipe over the "Inviso-Text" and discover the secret if you want to be potentially spoiled:

BEGIN POTENTIAL SPOILER (highlight to read) Okay, here goes: the Green Hornet is the grand-nephew of the Lone Ranger! Britt Reid's father was Dan Reid, the nephew of John Reid (the Lone Ranger) who often rode with his uncle on adventures throughout the old west. And according to legend, the Green Hornet had the ORIGINAL mask of the Lone Ranger sewn into the brim of his hat, making the Green Hornet the modern-day continuation of John Reid's legacy. Isn't that the awesomest thing?! Now, I defy anyone to tell me that this shouldn't make it into Sony's movie! END POTENTIAL SPOILER
Could The Green Hornet be so daring as to include that? I'd gladly buy a ticket for this movie if it were...