Thursday, March 31, 2011

On this day...

...ten years ago, I was given the most very wonderful birthday that I have ever received.

And on this day, today, all that I can think of, the only thing on my mind, is the overwhelming sense of regret for the people who I have lost. People who I cared for, and still care for, and would have done anything for.

To all who it may concern: I tried. I did my best. I never stopped doing what I could to seek God and what He would have me do. I am still doing what I can to seek after Him.

And, if you are reading this blog today, please know that I am sorry. I never wanted to hurt any of you.

Still thinking of all of you. And, I will never stop being thankful for each of you.

EDIT 4:14 p.m. EST: To everyone reading this, who enjoys a relationship with God and has never had to personally deal with having a mental illness...

You have no idea how blessed you are.

And don't you ever take that for granted!

It is only by His grace that I am here today, to have another birthday. And if I didn't have Christ in my life I wouldn't be here today. Don't think that I'm not thankful to Him that He has led me through the darkest valleys that a person can go through in this life.

And yet, I do still cry out to Him. Begging Him to give me some indication that He has heard me. That the things which I have lost because of a condition which no one would ever ask for, have not been lost in vain.

Yes, I have a relationship with God. But it is not the kind that I would wish on anybody. I'll never know during my lifetime what it is like to have a mind that is quiet enough to be content to simply listen for Him. I'll go the rest of my days carrying a burden from a person I was never meant to be, that the real me now has... and keeps asking God to make sense of it.

If you have a relationship with God, and have not suffered the misery and grief that comes with your own mind turning against you, then be glad. Be thankful. Never stop thanking God for that!

I don't want anything for my birthday today. Except to know that God has heard my cries.

That, and that anyone who reads this, might go away thankful for a blessing that they had never given any thought to.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS coming to North Carolina! I'm finally getting to see my movie on the big screen...

...well, parts of it anyway :-)

The People vs. George Lucas, Alexandre Philippe's documentary that has won beaucoups of awards at film festivals all over the world, has just announced a whole bunch of new showings. And one of them is right next door in Winston-Salem! Beginning May 9th it'll be playing at Cine Club on 311 West Fourth Street.

So why am I especially stoked about getting to see this rave-reviewed film? Here's the second trailer for it...

And here's the first teaser for The People vs. George Lucas...

That's none other than Melody Hallman Daniel and Chad Austin from Forcery, the first film that I ever made. I've heard that quite a lot of clips from it wound up in The People vs. George Lucas. So I'm not only looking forward to seeing Philippe's work, but also my own blown-up extra-huge on a real movie screen! This is gonna be an absolute hoot to behold :-)

EDIT 6:51 p.m. EST: I have just been notified that the screening at Cine Club has been moved back to September, because of scheduling conflict. I'll post more as we get closer to the actual date. We just have to wait a little longer, that's all :-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Theatre Guild of Rockingham County presents CHARLOTTE'S WEB beginning this weekend!

For those who are wondering: I am not involved in this production. Between last April (when we did The King and I) and this past month (when we wrapped Gypsy) I was doing community theatre non-stop across four productions. Just needed a bit of a respite from the stage :-)

That said, I am exceedingly stoked about Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Charlotte's Web, which kicks off a six-performance run this Friday night!

Based on E.B. White's classic novel, Charlotte's Web is the timeless tale of Wilbur: a succulent little pig who should have been destined to become ham and bacon... until an unusually eloquent spider named Charlotte comes to his rescue. It's a great cast, and I've seen some photos of the sets and they look terrific! I'm hoping to catch this on opening night. Maybe even a few more times this weekend, Lord willing.

Anyhoo, Charlotte's Web will be at Rockingham Community College's Advanced Technologies Building Auditorium, in Wentworth, North Carolina. Come enjoy the show!

It snowed this morning

Eight days into spring, and it snowed this morning here in north-central North Carolina. Not only that but it was coming down at a great clip and for awhile was sticking to the ground!

Here are some photos that I took around 8:45 a.m. today...

I was flying back from a wedding in Florida several years ago, in early April. It was snowing in Greensboro then as we touched down. And I've also seen it snow on the Fourth of July in nearby Caswell County. But this is the most snow that I've seen fall this late.

Pretty, ain't it? :-)

EDIT 10:45 a.m. EST: It's now a quarter-til 11 a.m. and the snow is still falling! Not as hard as it was earlier but, it still provides a nice ambiance.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

President Nixon in a DOCTOR WHO teaser!

"There are no monsters in the Oval Office."
Last season I didn't post a single review of any Doctor Who episodes. That was all my fault: had some things I was dealing with at the time and couldn't commit to giving this show the respect that it deserves.

So... what do I think of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor? He's become my favorite incarnation of the Doctor since the series was revived in 2005... and right up there with Tom Baker's and Jon Pertwee's versions as my all-time favorite Doctor ever. Smith has been a sheer hoot to watch in action! And this past season was the best yet since Doctor Who was brought back into production. Steven Moffat has not disappointed since taking over as showrunner.

The next season begins on Easter weekend. Supposedly this season will see the return of the Daleks, the return of the original Cybermen (not those mass-produced ones from the alternate timeline), an episode written by Neil Gaiman, and the first-ever Doctor Who episode filmed in the United States.

And it looks like Moffat and his crew are gonna play the American angle to the hilt. Check out this "prequel teaser", featuring President Richard Nixon talking on the Oval Office phone with a voice that is sinister, childlike and... familiar?

"The Impossible Astronaut", the first episode of the new season, airs on April 23rd on the BBC and BBC America! Time to start making room on my DVR :-P

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A thought on Christ and knowledge

Salvation is not achieved by the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge. Salvation is achieved by the desire for and pursuit of Christ.

Only then can we find the renewing of our minds that comes with the knowledge of Christ. For sake of God, and not our selves.

Happy 80th Birthdays to William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy!

This is a momentous week for two of the greatest pop icons of our generation... or any generation. A few days ago William Shatner turned 80 and today his fellow Star Trek shipmate Leonard Nimoy gets to enter his ninth decade!

Shatner and Nimoy: the men who brought James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock to life. May they live long and prosper!

Hey, let's celebrate with some music! How about Nimoy singing "Proud Mary"...

And who could ever forget (seriously, who can forget that this happened?) Shatner doing his cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"...

Truly going where no one has gone before :-P

Seriously though: Happy 80th Birthdays to Shatner and Nimoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Do dogs chase cats?"

Saw this GEICO commercial for the first time earlier this morning and I've been cracking up laughing about it since!

It's like "Toonces the Driving Cat" from Saturday Night Live meets The French Connection!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Discernment from Samuel Clemens

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came--next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams--visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory--

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside--which the startled minister did--and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne--bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import--that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of--except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it--that part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts--fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit--we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it--for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

"The War Prayer" was written by Samuel Clemens - known best as "Mark Twain" - in 1904. It was published in 1923, thirteen years after the death of the celebrated humorist and commentator.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I said that I was serious

Most people took me at my word but there were some who said that I was "crazy", one even said "Chris this should make you happy".

No, I'm not. Nothing about this has brought me one iota of "happy". To those who have thought such a thing: there is something very, VERY wrong with you and I do pray that you consider what the @&$# it is that you are saying. Because as I said last time, I would NEVER wish this on ANYBODY.

A little over a week ago this blog passed along the news that Johnny Robertson has been diagnosed with colon cancer. This afternoon two phone calls and a bunch of e-mails have come in with an update...

Johnny Robertson's cancer is now at stage 3. That's the point where the tumor's growth is well advanced and begun to metastasize.

I am being told that Mr. Robertson's chances at recovering from this are not as well as anyone would appreciate. And that apparently he is due for emergency surgery on Wednesday.

This shouldn't need to be said, but I guess somebody has to...

It rains on the just and the unjust alike. And there is NOT ONE OF US who is alive on this earth, but for the grace of God. NOT ONE!!! And if anyone reading my words are somehow feeling glib about Johnny Robertson's condition then... whatever he has done, someone who is feeling that way toward him right now is far, FAR sicker in mind and soul!!

It's not left to us to judge the condition of another's soul. That is not something that any of us in this world are qualified for. And yes, I know: Robertson and his followers judge others constantly. They are... well, they have a reputation (and that's all that I'm going to say about their activities at this time).

Put that aside. All of it. Don't let that come between any of us and the better angels of our nature.

This is not an occasion for spite. This is an occasion for faith and for humility and for prayer. And yes: this is an occasion for love. Love just as Christ loved us first.

So I'm now reiterating what I asked for over a week ago: Please put aside whatever else you feel toward Mr. Robertson, and hold him up in prayer. Ask God to bring him healing. Ask God to bring the peace which surpasses all understanding to him and his family.

Johnny, if you are reading this: you are being prayed for. No doubt by many people that you would be genuinely surprised to know are doing that for you. And we're not going to stop holding you up in our thoughts and prayers.

And if anybody doesn't like that, well... tough!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's just me... and my Smart Cover

So after doing my best to find an iPad 2 at one of the many local stores purporting to carry it, to no avail, I bit the debit card and proceeded to Apple's website and ordered one. And I went all out!! Got a 64-gigabyte model in black, with Wi-Fi and 3G (the AT&T version). Looking forward to it arriving in a few weeks. Hey, then I can be blogging from anywhere! Like at iCoffee in Summerfield, f'rinstance. I guess then I could have Tebow sitting next to me whilst I write. Heh-heh, "Blogging with Tebow": sounds like a winner :-)

Well anyhoo, I just checked the status of my order and the iPad 2 is still due to arrive in mid-April. However, the Smart Cover that I ordered along with it is already en route and due to be delivered here on Tuesday!

That's a bit bass-ackwards. It's like priority shipping a pooper-scooper ahead of a puppy. Apple coulda saved wads of money if it had shipped them together, but I didn't see an option for that when I placed my order. Pretty lousy business sense, in my opinion.

But anyhoo, I'll soon have an iPad 2 Smart Cover, but no iPad 2. Guess I'll just have to use my imagination for the next four weeks. Sorta like a Calvin 'n Hobbes thing when you think about it.

Maybe I could put the Smart Cover on an Etch-A-Sketch and pretend that I have an iPad 2? :-P

Saturday, March 19, 2011

If President Obama bombs Libya...

...as there are plenty of indications that he is set to do, then Obama will have accomplished something that I never thought I would ever see.

He will have eclipsed George W. Bush as THE WORST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES in my lifetime.

Libya is a civil war. And it's never paid to be an outside party that chooses to become embroiled in one of those.

Considering that the U.S. is already locked in two OTHER wars - neither one of which has had any clear goal in mind - and is stretched thin as it is, would make getting involved in Libya even more insane.

Gas up now, folks. We could see five, six, or seven dollars a gallon gasoline by the end of the weekend. The way things are going now, I wouldn't doubt it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

This WONDER WOMAN looks more like a BLUNDER Woman!

Somewhere this afternoon, William Moulton Marston is spinning in his grave.

Courtesy of the Entertainment Weekly website, here is our first look at Adrianne Palicki in costume for NBC's upcoming Wonder Woman series...

Bind me with the Golden Lasso of Truth: that looks HORRIBLE!!! It's like a cheap-o costume that you can find at those seasonal Halloween stores instead of... GEEZ IT JUST SUCKS DONKEY BALLS TO NO END!

I was kinda hoping for an interpretation of Wonder Woman like what Alex Ross and Mark Waid came up with for Kingdom Come. That Wonder Woman boasted all her Amazonian power but tempered with all-too-mortal failings and frailties. It's my personal favorite version of Wonder Woman ever. Heck, any previous version of Wonder Woman has got to be better than this... thing.

I don't know when the pilot episode airs. And based on this photo, I'm not caring to watch it either. If I want real Wonder Woman, I'll just watch the World War II episodes of the original series starring Lynda Carter.

Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows 1 (and going through EVERY Windows along the way)

Whilst I await the arrival of my iPad 2 (estimated shipping 4-5 weeks, ahhh the price I paid for trying and failing to score one locally) here is something that will make one appreciate Apple's biggest rival in a brand new light. For all the dissin' that Microsoft gets, I have to respect them anew after watching this clip: Andrew Tait's video "Chain of Fools". In it, Andrew upgrades to Windows 7... but he starts with MS-DOS 5.0 running the original Microsoft Windows, and proceeds to upgrade from there to every subsequent version of Windows until he gets to the latest release!

So how successful was his endeavor? Watch and be amazed!

Anyone else nearly shed a tear when they saw Windows 3.1 again for the first time in years? :-P

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Knight Shift welcomes a new sponsor: The Detailed Decorator!

This is a momentous day for The Knight Shift! Yours Truly is proud to announce the very first business to contact this blog for advertising.

So without further ado, it is my great honor to direct your attention to The Detailed Decorator LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia!

Owned and operated by Jaime Casstevens, The Detailed Decorator specializes in finding unique interior decor custom-tailored for each customer. In her own words, Jaime says that...

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You can click here to visit The Detailed Decorator website and if you are on Facebook you can visit The Detailed Decorator's page there and see much, much more!

So here's a hearty welcome to The Detailed Decorator! And if you have a business (or some other legitimate operation) and want to advertise on a blog that serves up bunches of unique hits per day to a worldwide audience, contact me at theknightshift@gmail.com and we'll work something out!

One blogger's support for nuclear energy

Like many people, I've been watching the developments in Japan since last week's earthquake (now measured at being 9 or possibly even 9.1 on the Richter scale) with keen interest. Especially with the drama unfolding at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukishima: the one that has had a number of its reactor buildings violently explode (NOT "nuclear explosion" as I heard one CNN reporter claim but rather the result of too much of a build-up of steam).

And like many who are old enough to remember it, I'm led to reflect upon what happened even here in the southeast United States following the Chernobyl disaster twenty-five years ago next month. A week after that catastrophic meltdown there were slightly elevated levels of radiation measured in these parts. There was a sudden rush on potassium iodide tablets (as is happening now). A week and a half after the accident our Boy Scout troop returned to the volunteer fire department nearby after a camporee: we saw a dozen boxes or so of radiation-detecting equipment that had been dropped off. Where were they going to? I still don't know. But I'll never forget the radiation symbol emblazoned on those boxes: the first time that I saw such a thing.

And now, as then, there is a clamor to restrict and to consider even shutting down nuclear power altogether. I've been watching that steadily rise in recent days as I've watched the news or went looking for it online.

And that's what sent me way back into The Knight Shift archives, to a post that I made almost six years ago.

In July of 2005 I was asked to assist in the production of a training film that would be used at a nuclear power facility. We spent two days onsite at this plant. I can't say much about it or where it was even located (I was given permission to write about it in general terms but for the most part asked to observe a clause of confidentiality, and I am still honoring that).

But let's just say that I had confidence in nuclear power already, and I came away from that experience with far more confidence still.

I cannot recall ever being in a place that had as many safety and security measures as this nuclear plant possessed. We're talking redundant systems out the wazoo: backups on top of backups on top of backups. Every person involved in filming had to be given proper clearance before we even came close to the place. And going through the front door meant first negotiating a labyrinthine path discouraging even a brisk jog.

To be allowed to work in the nuclear energy industry in the United States, you have to undergo two years of exhaustive training and testing. And that's regardless of how much real world experience you might already have. Even if you were in the United States Navy and received the world's finest education in nuclear engineering, you're still looking at a couple of years of schooling before you're allowed to operate equipment in a civilian environment.

And then there is more training. And re-training. And more training yet. For every hour that a person works in an American nuclear facility, he or she receives an hour or more of study, testing and drilling.

There is a reason for what some admitted was the monotonous routine of training. I have a healthy respect for anyone who works in nuclear energy production. Because to be employed in this industry entails one undisputed fact that must be borne at all times: that nuclear power is a grim technology. Quite a useful technology. But still one that demands the uttermost respect and even reverence to wield. There can be no allowances for margin of error. "Cutting corners" is under no circumstance an allowable indulgence.

The men and women that we met at the nuclear plant were easily the most dedicated to their profession that I have seen in any commercial industry. They smiled and laughed with us a few times (because one of the things we had been asked to do was to make this training film a little bit humorous) but make no mistake: they afforded no laxity toward their work. They absolutely realized that their continuing employment wasn't the only thing hinging on their job performance... but also potentially the lives of hundreds or thousands of people well beyond the perimeter of the plant.

Nuclear energy is the most regulated industry in the United States. And the people who work within it are the most dedicated that I have seen in any work environment. Even if I had little faith in the nuclear regulatory system, I would have faith in the people who have chosen to work in nuclear energy.

And then there was the design of the reactors that this plant utilized. Which isn't even "cutting edge" by current standards, but we certainly realized how much thought and consideration had been made in the reactors' construction. Not a drop of water that was heated within the reactor made it to the outside environment. Instead that water was used to super-heat water in another set of pipes, which led to turning the turbines of the generators that produced the electricity. It was an extremely impressive system. And newer reactor designs had been developed which in case of a possible core meltdown, would basically "shut down" the reactor on its own.

It was very, very cool stuff.

The last nuclear energy plant that was built in this country came online in 1996, and it had been under construction for about two decades. With the increasing demand for more and more cheap energy, I don't see how we can afford to frown upon nuclear power. We are sitting on technology that makes nuclear-produced energy safer than has previously been possible... and we should be playing it to the hilt. At the same time however, there must be continuing and rigorous research into alternative means of energy production: from sources such as shale oil, nuclear fusion, and even such radical concepts as harnessing the energy of ocean waves.

"Chris, are you nuts?! What about what just happened in Japan?!" Hey, I agree: nothing is without chance of hazard and nuclear energy is definitely no exception. But from what I've been able to determine, the Daiichi plant was already designed to withstand a severe earthquake. It was built as well as any structure could be made "earthquake-proof". The quake last week was some order of magnitude greater than what the reactor buildings... or any other building for that matter... could tolerate. At the risk of coming across as crass and unsympathetic, what is happening now at the nuclear facility in Fukishima resulted from a fluke of fate and geologic roulette. The possibility of all those things going wrong at the same time were miniscule, to put it mildly. But, go wrong they did. And the engineers and workers at the site are doing everything they can to stem the devastation. No doubt, doing so cognizant of what happened to "the liquidators" and others who fought in vain to bring Chernobyl under control.

We aren't guaranteed total safety by any measure. Not during our life in this world, anyway. But we do what we can, as best we can, to most fully employ the minds, the knowledge, and the wisdom that Providence has bestowed upon us. The alternative is to shun our capability completely, at cost of much of human drive and determination.

I see nuclear fission power as a stepping stone to greater things yet to come. Things that are already being labored upon. In the meantime, we should appreciate that we have such productive and still clean technology... and be thankful that there are those among us who have chosen to pursue its availability.

Congratulations to Heather and George!

In the wee hours of this morning, two people that I have been friends with for a very long time welcomed into the world their firstborn child: Laura!

Congratulations Heather and George! God has blessed you immensely this morning, and the two of you are gonna be the awesomest parents to this sweet little girl :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I ain't got nothing

Not right now anyway. Have some stuff going on behind the scenes though.

But I don't like leaving my readers feeling like they wasted their time clicking on this blog.

So for the time being, here is an illustration of a jealous girlfriend killing her lover-boy with a basket of poisonous snakes, courtesy of The National Police Gazette...

For more classic depictions from a legendary American periodical, head on over to The National Police Gazette website! And be sure to tell proprietor William A. Mays that The Knight Shift sent you :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review of THE WALKING DEAD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray

When its first season aired this past fall I didn't write anything about AMC's mega-hit series The Walking Dead. Heck, I wasn't writing about much of anything at the time. But I had heard only good things about the show (adapted from the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel series of the same name) and tuned in to watch the premiere episode.

And like so many others, I got hooked on The Walking Dead.

This is not a story about a zombie apocalypse. Personally, I'm sick and TIRED of the whole "zombie genre". It's been done too much in recent years. Now I loved the movie Zombieland, because in my mind that was more of a comedy with some legitimate undertones of human drama. I can watch that movie a dozen times and not get bored with it.

And that's how I am with The Walking Dead. This is a series about real people and the depths and contradictions of human nature. It also happens to boast what might be the best use of the undead in pop culture history: the zombies in The Walking Dead are arguably the most gruesome creatures to ever hit television. But the zombies are merely the catalyst accelerating the foibles and weaknesses of its very personable cast of characters. Watching this show, it's very easy to empathize with these people (I myself am a huge fan of Jeffrey DeMunn's character Dale, the older dude who drives the RV). Heck, I was even on the verge of tears at the beginning of the third episode, "Tell It To The Frogs", gazing at Merle and how pitiful he had become.

The second season won't begin until this coming October but in the meantime, The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season just hit the streets on Blu-ray and DVD this past week... and it is chock full of rotting goodness! That is on top of the gloriously gruesomely amazing picture quality. I don't get AMC in high-definition, so I had to watch the first run of The Walking Dead in standard definition. Getting to see it in 1080P on Blu-ray was like an entirely new experience, and I picked out details that I hadn't noticed before (why does it disturb me so much that the little zombie girl in the very first minutes of the show is wearing braces?). The sound quality is also exceptional: the destruction of the Center for Disease Control at the end of the season finale literally shook a Darth Sidious action figure from his standing pose on my desk.

The Blu-ray of The Walking Dead Season 1 comes on two discs. Those include all six episodes of the first season, along with a considerable amount of special features. A half-hour long documentary gives a behind-the-scenes look at production of The Walking Dead. Each episode is also given a five-minute long mini-feature about that chapter's characters, themes, and place in the story. "On Set with Robert Kirkman" follows the creator of The Walking Dead comic series as he strolls around where the first scene of "Days Gone By" is being filmed. "Bicycle Girl" reveals what it took to bring the legless, hideous zombie woman in the series premiere to "life". For those who want to go against the living two special features stand out: "Zombie School" (chronicling how extras were taught how to walk and talk zombie-ish) and a fairly extended piece demonstrating how anyone can look like a zombie with common household items like gelatin and oatmeal. Jeffrey DeMunn takes us "Inside Dale's RV": the set piece that fast became synonymous with The Walking Dead's sense of human community. "Hanging With Steven Yuen" is the actor who plays Glenn giving a tour of the first campsite. But the most startling extra feature by far might be "On Set with Andrew Lincoln", focusing on the actor who plays main character Rick Grimes. I didn't know until watching this that Lincoln is British who normally speaks with a remarkable English accent. That he is able to turn on that Southern accent for his characer in The Walking Dead... it's just totally wild! Lennie James, the actor who plays Morgan (who found Rick after his escape from the hospital) is also British, and if you only watched the show you might have been none the wiser.

The Walking Dead is the one show on right now that I'm investing my time to watch and enjoy. And though Season 1 was all too short (but happily Season 2 is already slated for thirteen episodes) I will be enjoying even these few chapters on Blu-ray until this coming fall arrives. Highly recommended, even if you haven't seen the show during its run on AMC yet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gonna postpone those new features

Things are happening behind the scenes with Yours Truly, that are gonna have me holding off on that "A Sermon A Week" feature. But one friend told me that I wind up doing plenty enough "preaching" (his words, not mine) as it is anyway that I don't nee to make it "official", LOL!

I am hoping to have the first "Movies I've Never Seen" article up sometime this coming week. Have been looking forward to that one for quite awhile now, it's gonna be lots of fun :-)

This blog needs more beautiful... and LOTS of it!

I can't recall posting a picture of my extremely lovely and incredibly sweet cousin Lauryn for the month of February. Even though I know that many of The Knight Shift's male readers can't get enough of her beautiful visage (I got two e-mails this past week complaining about the lack of Lauryn of late).

So since I've been posting too many videos showing my ugly mug in recent weeks, I'll more than make up for it. Here is Lauryn, flanked by my equally stunning cousins Rachael and Angela!

Remember fellas: Lauryn is a taken lady, but she doesn't mind being The Knight Shift's poster gal. As for Rachael and Angela, I don't know if they're seeing anyone. However I feel strongly obligated to mention that their father is something like seven and a half feet tall and is a minister.

Parse that as you will :-P

Classic SESAME STREET: Kermit the Angry Reporter!

Goodness gracious... it's been ages since I've posted a clip from Sesame Street on this blog, or anything else having to do with the Muppets! I'll try to do better from now on gang.

This is one that I remember seeing a few times in my childhood: Kermit the Frog doing a report for Sesame Street News on what makes people angry. I laughed when I watched it then but now that I'm older...

...Well, is there anyone else who sees Kermit honked-off and thinking that he's a lot like Howard Beale from the movie Network?

The more I think about it I could totally see Muppets Network happening, with Kermit screaming "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" In his reporter gig he even looks a lot like Howard Beale, right down to the raincoat. Yup, "Kermit the Frog, the Mad Prophet of Sesame Street". And Arthur Jensen could be played by Oscar the Grouch.

Ahhh c'mon... that would be hilarious! :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

An appeal for prayer on behalf of someone (And yes, I'm serious)

I'm not going to say much more than needs to be said about this, because in spite of everything I wouldn't wish this on anybody.

Several readers of this blog have notified me that Johnny Robertson has been diagnosed with colon cancer. And apparently it's pretty severe.

So I'm asking everyone who is reading this: Please put aside whatever else you feel toward Mr. Robertson, and hold him up in prayer. Ask God to bring him healing. Ask God to bring the peace which surpasses all understanding to him and his family.

Johnny, regardless of the past, I will be praying for you to fully recover from this. And I'm going to sincerely encourage everyone that I know to do the same for you.

The earthquake in Japan...

...moved the axis of the entire Earth 10 inches from its previous position.

And the coastline of Japan has been permanently moved nearly 2 and a half meters.

Once again, I am reminded about how lacking in humility we are in regard to the world we live upon.

Try to think about the forces required to move something as big as the entire Earth by ten inches. Just ten inches.

In the first year of this blog's operation, after the 2004 Indonesia earthquake/tsunami, I posted an excerpt from Jurassic Park (the super-incredible novel not the less-than-satisfying movie). It's the scene toward the end where Ian Malcolm is telling Hammond about how the Earth cannot be destroyed. It's perhaps worth reading again, and pondering.

8.9 earthquake just hit Japan

That's just short of the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake that produced the tsunami which devastated Indonedia and other places along thousands of miles of the Indian Ocean's shoreline.

8.9 Richter... sheesh. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to experience something like that.

Thoughts and prayers going out this morning to our friends in Japan. And if you can, tune in to the television coverage going on right now. This is history in the making.

EDIT 2:55 a.m. EST: This blog has lots of readers in Hawaii (yeah hey to you too Danny :-). Now hearing that a tsunami warning has been issued and that you guys are due to get hit by the heavy end of the hammer around 3:00 a.m. Hawaiian local time this morning.

Got you guys in prayer especially. Please, be safe.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

Popcorn Sutton moonshine still for sale on eBay!

For $20,000 you could be the proud owner of this authentic moonshine still designed, built and no doubt USED by Popcorn Sutton for the brewing of his famous likker!

Here's the link to the item's eBay page. And here's the official description...

Up for sale is a genuine Copper Moonshine Still that was used by the legendary Popcorn Sutton of the appalachians. This item is being sold for historical purposes only, not for actual use. This still is 45-50 years old and has a 110 gallon pot!

Any additional questions please call about this rare and highly collectible item.

Rare and collectible, indeed!! I would love to own this... or anything that was the handiwork of Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton: a character who was truly an American original.

Tip o' the hat to Eric Smith for an awesome find!!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Gasoline now $3.45 in most places here

"Here" being Reidsville, North Carolina and the surrounding area.

It will likely hit $4 per gallon or thereabouts by the end of the week. And this month might end with it averaging $5 a gallon, depending on how the situation in Libya goes.

I haven't said anything about Libya yet on this blog. But for those who are curious: I don't see any good outcome. Kadaffi (or however you spell his name and I've heard there are about a hundred English translations) is a nutcase and a half enforcing his private little fantasy world with lots of guns and missiles and probably chemical weapons... but if he goes down in what can only be called civil war at this point, look for the Muslim Brotherhood-type that we just saw running the show in the Egyptian revolt to take charge.

And then things start to get interesting.

(I would also - not to put too fine a point on it - advise keeping an eye on Saudi Arabia in the near future.)

Two other factors that are ramping-up the price of fuel: the official stance by the executive branch of the United States federal government to disprove of increased deep-water drilling. And, something that I've talked about a few times already on this blog: that this country needs more oil refineries. That is more a bottleneck than most people realize, but there haven't been any new refineries built in quite some time. Without that, whatever increased petroleum production we might have becomes a moot thing.

I'm due to take a trip early next month. It'll be a long drive. Here's hoping that the pumps between here and yonder won't be seven bucks and change. The way things are going now, I wouldn't doubt it.

Friday, March 04, 2011

What a night

In the six hours or so since that previous post...

...I feel like I have grown more as a person than, I probably have in, well... a very long time. Emphasis on "very".

And with the sun rising on this new day...

...I am finding myself thankful to God, that however He allowed my mind to be, that He did bless me with a wonderful mind.

And now I am going to keep on doing what I have always done: doing my best to make the most of it.

To put it in some perspective: it's been, ohhh... about twenty years since I've had a moment like this.

(And no, the previous post has nothing to do with it...)

Sources at this late hour...

...are telling me that this blog - yes, this one - is "about to bust wide open". Apparently, in a way that's not bad, for once.

That is all.

Guess I should dust off the welcome mat again, huh?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

E.T. phones home and dials down destruction on Earth!

Very, very disturbing (yet funny) trend I've caught lately happening on the Intertubes. Some clever chaps are taking 1982's beloved film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and giving it the Frank Miller/The Dark Knight Returns treatment. Namely, producing faux trailers for grim, dark sequels to E.T.

And so far I've found two of these pieces of work!

This first one splices together footage from E.T. with another Steven Spielberg movie, War of the Worlds. Here is E.T. Returns...

Not bad! I like how it takes Tom Cruise's character from War of the Worlds and turns him into the older Elliot.

But the trailer for E.T.-X, made with overwhelmingly original footage, is so crazy insanely ludicrously... AHHHH just see for yourself! If E.T. didn't scare you at the theater before, it sure will now!

Michael Bay should team up with Spielberg and make that 'un after he finishes this next Transformers movie. I would pay just to see the bad E.T.'s crush the Jonas Brothers :-P

A church that requires faith to enter

This is an Orthodox chapel near the city of Chiatura in the former Soviet state of Georgia...

Oh yes, you can go in... but first you have the climb a rickety, rusty metal ladder up a 130-feet tall column of rock. The building atop the column was constructed sometime between the sixth and eighth centuries and is thought to have at first been a pagan temple (the rock being ummmm... symbolic of "fertility", parse that as you will).

The Orthodox churches credit their founding to the apostle Andrew, who journeyed to the region following the ascension of Christ. With the conversion of the pagans, the temple became a Christian chapel. Today it is being restored and is even the home of an Orthodox priest.

My brain feels staggered just looking at the photo of this thing. Just... wow.

Click here to learn more about the chapel at Chiatura, including a photo of the interior containing some beautiful icons.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Three people have asked me about Charlie Sheen and bipolar disorder

Perhaps that's been prompted by (A) Charlie Sheen's out-of-control antics during the past 72 hours and (B) the "Being Bipolar" series that I recently started on this blog about my own experiences and struggles with bipolar.

And now it's being asked aloud by a lot of bigger news outlets.

I'm not too "hip" about things on the celebrity scene. In fact, the last thing that I would ever want to be called is a "celebrity". I am a character. My life is filled with lots of other characters (though more than a few are what pop culture would call "celebrities"). Charlie Sheen's behavior exemplifies why I don't want to be known as a celebrity.

But the more I've looked into his peculiar case, the more I am finding myself also wondering - not a professional psychiatrist, mind ya: I'm just a guy who has the condition himself - if Mr. Sheen might have this illness.

Because, I see a lot of myself during my worst manic episodes in Mr. Sheen's bizarre activity.

And if it's bipolar disorder, then I genuinely feel sorry for the man. Because I know what that's like. And as I've said before, it's not something that I would ever wish on someone else. Not even my worst enemies.

A person in this condition needs help. More than he or she could possibly realize it on their own. I certainly didn't understand how much I needed it. It took a hard crash to get me stabilized and even then, it was two years before I finally came to my senses enough to comprehend what bipolar did to me and my loved ones.

Mr. Sheen, I don't know if you'll ever read this. But if you do, from a person who does have bipolar disorder and is learning to live with it and have a much more productive life than I've ever been able to have before: Dude, you're in a bad place. And you can't get out of it on your own. You need help. If not for yourself then, think of your beautiful little twin boys. They need you to be the most you can be. Bipolar disorder robs a person of that. You don't deserve to have that stolen from you any more than anyone else does.

And if Mr. Sheen is still doing drugs, well... I can't express enough how much he needs to get off that crap. Heck, I don't drink and I've never done recreational drugs: there's been nothing to chemically multiply the effects of bipolar... but even so, without that bipolar is still hell to deal with.

Charlie, man, if you've got bipolar disorder, get help and get cleaned up. You got too much of a good life that God has blessed you with and you gotta start being appreciative of that.

Darn you Steve Jobs!

My plans have been thrown afoul... because now I'll have to be here next Friday afternoon to place my order for the iPad 2 on Apple's website.

(Mash here for one of Engadget's myriad of articles about the product's unveiling today.)

I didn't get an iPad last year, but I fell in love enough with the simplicity of the design that... I knew this was on my short-list of "things I never knew I needed" and ought to have. For more than a decade people have given me funny looks when I have to tell them that I've never had a laptop computer. I just don't like how they're made: too much that can get broken easily. The iPad is different. And iPad 2 has enough bells and whistles on it to have me break down to get one now.

'Course, word on the street is that iPad 3 might be coming out around September. Not feeling terribly obligated to wait to see what it may (or may not) have on it. I just care about what can help me be productive now... and since I'm looking at a fair bit of traveling coming soon, the iPad is gonna make a fine tool to that end.

Besides, if iPad 3 is lustworthy enough, I can just give my iPad 2 to my sister :-)

On another note, Steve Jobs looks great!! Glad to see that his health is apparently improving well :-)

EDIT 8:50 p.m. EST: So my sister has since told me "I don't see what's so great about them!" and that she doesn't care to have an iPad at all.

Well, phooey on her!! I'll tell you what I might do, gang: come September or October, if there is an iPad 3 out and I wind up getting that, we may just have a contest on this blog and give away the iPad 2.

Or I could get two iPad 2s soon and run a contest and give one of those away, brand-new.

Hey, you never know what is going to happen on this blog :-P

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

What I'm about to say has nothing at all to do with "religion"

Christ is the only path toward finding God.

But, there are many paths toward finding Christ.

Who am I, then, to say that how another another has found Christ is inadequate or even "wrong"? Who are any of us to demand that we have found the "one true" way of discovering Christ, to the exclusion of all others?

It would only seem to most matter that Christ is found at all. And He will be found, by those who seek Him... whether they are even conscious of their desire or not. In the end, God will know who belongs to Him. That is something that is not left to any of us in this temporal realm.

Seek after Christ, as best you understand Him, if you have found Him. For those who seek Him still, pray for them and for God's glory without regard to your own sake.