January 31, 2007

Star Trek in the Senate?

Snarfed this from the Dragon*Con community. The Daily Show tackles the issue of Star Trek in our Government, with commentator Leonard Nimoy.

January 29, 2007

Movie Night

Melissa and I were debating over our monthly No-Kid Movie Outing:

"I don't want to see Dreamgirls, How about Children of Men? It's supposed to be good. Has your Clive Owen in it."
"Bleah. Looks all emo/apocalyptic-y. How about Night at the Museum?"
"A semi-family comedy on our night AWAY from the kid? No. Something adult-oriented would be nice. Preferably with death in it."
"All right..."
"And not some tragic, SLOW death of some strong-spirited woman by cancer. Guns or Kung Fu must be involved."
"All RIGHT. *grumble*"

Then we scrolled down on the listings to see: Chow Yun Fat in "Curse of the Golden Flower". Chow Yun Fat? No contest. We're there.

Curse of the Golden Flower, brought to us by Zhang "House of Flying Daggers" Yimou shows off the greatest strengths that China has. Namely hundreds of thousands of extras willing to die in great heaps. If you've seen Chow Yun Fat in "A Better Tomorrow" then you know what I mean. Peter Jackson would have needed some heavy CGI budget to create armies of the magnitude seen here, but when you're in China, why bother?

Also starring in this film: Probably every single Chinese woman with large breasts. I think ol' Zhang wanted to buck the stereotype, so every last down-gazing servant girl in a shiny outfit is showing at least 6 inches of clevage apiece. Or maybe the guy just has a fetish.

Overall, a good movie that falls short of being great. It starts out simply enough, and keeps adding tension and peeling back layers at a good pace. Then the Ninjas show up. Unfortunately, this event was a good hour into the film, and all we had in terms of fight scenes to tide us over to this point, was a bit of sparring between emperor (Fat) and his son. The eye-popping set and costume design will probably keep you distracted enough not to notice while you're actually in the theater, though.

Then it comes down to the final battle:
(1) HAHA! I have an army of thousands, all decked out in my designer Golden Armor!
(2) Oh Yeah? Well *MY* army of thousands has cooler Silver/gray armor, the practical upshot of which is that they can stay hidden until your glaringly bright Golden Boys spring the trap!

And finally:
(3) Hmmph! Now that you two are finished playing war, MY army of thousands has to come in and clean up all the bodies! Sheesh, look at all these broken flowerpots! You two are going to get such a whuppin!

Final Verdict: (B) Total Eye Candy. A beautiful cast, amazing sets and costumes, but very little fighting and an ending that doesn't.

January 26, 2007

LinkNews Digest [01/26/2007]

Microwaves and Sponges

Earlier this week, the University of Florida released a study that claims that Microwaving your scrubber sponges on high for two minutes eliminates over 99% of the germs that might be on it.
"People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them, they should use the microwave," says Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering who led the study.

Writing in the Journal of Environmental Health, Bitton and colleagues say they soaked sponges and scrubbing pads in raw wastewater containing faecal bacteria such as Escherichia coli, viruses, protozoan parasites and bacterial spores.

Then they used a common household microwave oven to heat the sponges. It took 4-10 minutes to kill all the spores but everything else was killed after 2 minutes, they say.
However, the U of F scientists quickly released a follow-up advisory:
"To guard against the risk of fire, people who wish to sterilize their sponges at home must ensure the sponge is completely wet. Two minutes of microwaving is sufficient for most sterilization. Sponges should also have no metallic content. Last, people should be careful when removing the sponge from the microwave as it will be hot."
This after some folks left out the crucial step of wetting the sponge first:
"Just wanted you to know that your article on microwaving sponges and scrubbers aroused my interest. However, when I put my sponge/scrubber into the microwave, it caught fire, smoked up the house, ruined my microwave, and pissed me off," one correspondent wrote in an e-mail to Reuters.

"First, the sponge is worthless afterwards so you have to throw it out instead of using it. And second your entire house stinks like a burning tire for several hours, even with windows/doors open," complained another.

New Reality Show: Smarter than a 5th Grader?

PASADENA, Calif. - Every parent's nightmare - being exposed for not knowing what's in your kid's school textbook - will soon play out on national television.

Fox announced Saturday that it is making a new game show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" that will air sometime later this year, perhaps as early as the spring.

Adults will compete in a quiz based on questions from elementary school textbooks. Actual elementary school students will be on hand as "experts" for the adults to consult with.

"While most game shows measure how smart you are, this is a show that will measure how dumb you are," said Peter Liguori, Fox entertainment president.

Fox won a competition with other networks to buy the idea from Mark Burnett, executive producer of "Survivor," perhaps because Liguori - not too modestly - said he was the only chief network television executive to answer all six questions from the show correctly.(LINK )

Muppets Take Another Shot at PrimeTime

While the Jim Henson Company works away on film and TV projects, we've been constantly teased with the promise of a new Muppet series. The last time this happened was with the short-lived Muppets Tonight in the '90s. Attempts to bring the gang back to television haven't come to fruition, including a pilot in 2004 for America's Next Muppet that was never picked up as a series.

Now, a brand new pilot for a Muppet mini-series is being passed around Disney, a spoof on mockumentary series like The Office that has the Muppet gang getting back together to put on a new show after venturing off on their own to find new jobs. That plot actually sounds very similar to The Muppets Take Manhattan. Word has it that the mini-series, if successful, could spawn a brand new primetime Muppet series. (LINK )


January 23, 2007

Merchandising

"All MacGuyver Ever Needs" (via NeatoRama)

January 19, 2007

LinkNews Digest [01/19/2007]

"Hold your Wee for a Wii" Contest Winner Dead

28-Year-Old Jennifer Lea Strange was declared dead by Sacramento Metro Fire Paramedics. Strange had reportedly competed in a contest held by local radio station 107.9 'The End' earlier Friday that required contestants to drink large amounts of water without being able to go to the bathroom [in order to win a Nintendo Wii gaming console].

The preliminary investigation revealed no life threatening medical conditions to explain her sudden death. While the preliminary findings of the autopsy are consistent with water intoxication, the coroner says the final cause of death will not be available for several months.(LINK )

Canada Starts Girls' PillowFight League

On a rainy Thursday night in a decrepit warehouse space on Niagara Street, there's a fight going on. Red, white and blue banners bedeck the walls, while a gaggle of girls seated on benches stare intently at the two competitors beating the daylight out of each other - with pillows.

Welcome to the Pillow Fight League (PFL), the brainchild of local man-about-town and Tijuana Bibles drummer Stacey Case, who came up with the idea for an all-girl group of pillow fighters with bandmate Craig Daniels while on a European tour two years ago. They tested out the concept during a New Year's Eve show at the Gladstone Hotel in 2004 with local burlesque troupe Skin Tight Outta Sight in unscripted fights, and then again with scripted tussles at the same event in 2005.

"There were two girls watching in the front row who were losing their minds," Case, 38, recalls. "So we decided to have live tryouts for the league right then and there. Those two tore each other apart. That's when I knew I was on to something." (LINK via Neatorama)


China Releases Sweet & Sour Pork Stamps

Stamps released in China to celebrate the Year of the Pig taste of sweet and sour pork.

The stamps on sale in China to celebrate the country's New Year. When you scratch the front of the stamps, it smells of the popular chinese dish and when the back of the stamp is licked it tastes of the dish too.

The stamps are on sale in China ahead of their New Year on February 18, reports Metro.(LINK )

Tennessee Defends "Crack Tax"

In April of 2005, Jeremy Robbins was arrested attempting to traffic two tons of marijuana from Arizona to East Tennessee. Indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges, Robbins was soon assessed a $1.1 million fine from Tennessee's Department of Revenue. The reason: failure to comply with the state's Unauthorized Substances Tax, which requires anyone in possession of a certain quantity of contraband, in the case of marijuana, more than 42.5 grams, to buy a tax stamp from the state government and affix it on the drug.

The so-called "crack tax" applies to controlled substances like marijuana and cocaine, and also illicit alcoholic beverages like moonshine. It allows someone to anonymously purchase stamps in person from the Department of Revenue based on the type and amount of the substance ($3.50 for a gram of marijuana, $50 for a gram of cocaine, etc.) with the understanding that doing so cannot be used against them in a criminal court. Posessing drugs is still illegal, the tax works completely outside the criminal justice system. A stamp cannot provide immunity from criminal prosecution, and a conviction of possession isn't required for the Department of Revenue to assess the penalties.

Of the 726 stamps sold so far (some to collectors as novelty items), none have turned up during a seizure. The penalty for not having a stamp can exceed 10 times the original cost, and the Department of Revenue concedes that the tax was instituted with the expectation that most dealers won't buy the stamp. "Dealers can do it either way," says Assistant Commissioner for Operations Sam Chessor. "But in reality, the payoff for us is going to be on the back end, not the front end. " (LINK via TIME)


January 18, 2007

"Ice and Fire" Deal Invokes Tolkien

Just like every music player has to bill itself as as "iPod Killer", I guess J. R. R. Tolkien has become the touchstone of Fantasy movie adaptations.
HBO has acquired the rights to turn George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy series "A Song of Fire & Ice" into a dramatic series to be written and exec produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Martin's series has drawn comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien, because both are period epics set in imagined lands. But Martin has eschewed Tolkien's good-vs.-evil theme in favor of flawed characters from seven noble families. The book has a decidedly adult bent, with sex and violence comparable to series like "Rome" and "Deadwood."

"They tried for 50 years to make 'Lord of the Rings' as one movie before Peter Jackson found success making three," Martin said. "My books are bigger and more complicated, and would require 18 movies. Otherwise, you'd have to choose one or two characters."
Author George R. R. Martin (because ALL epic novelists must have two middle names starting with "R") confirmed it on his LiveJournal after VARITEY Magazine broke news of it yesterday.

I don't know about the Tolkien comparison. "Yeah, it's JUST like Lord of the Rings... except it doesn't have Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, or talking trees. And the prose isn't nearly as complex (is that entirely a bad thing?), and there's no complete languages to learn. And no good-vs-evil plot. But there ARE Swords and magic involved, so that's fantasy... and since we really don't want to invite comparison to ERAGON... let's just go back a few years to the last big one NOT involving a boy wizard... AH! Tolkien. That's how we can spin this release!"

From initial reports, it's more a story of warring family dynasties. Kind of like DUNE, set in NARNIA, except with seven families? There's a bit of discussion on the DIGG.COM posting of this article already. (Thanks to my brother for the scoop!)

January 15, 2007

OSU Marching Band

From the time we picked up an instrument in middle school in Ohio, we were introduced to the incredible Ohio State Marching Band. It was the gold standard, and we trained like hell to prepare ourselves for joining its ranks when we graduated.

Ohio State University Marching Band

OSU Marching Band's "Tribute to Hollywood" from the OSU-Michigan game last fall. Not the absolute greatest Choreography, but some of the scenes are absolutely AMAZING.

January 12, 2007

LinkNews Digest [01/12/2007]

BitTorrent Nexus "The Pirate Bay" Attempting to Buy Nation of SeaLand

I was originally going to post a story of this odd microNation being up for sale at all. But the Pirate Bay angle is delicious:
Recently it was made clear that this country is for sale. To make sure the owners will be kopimistic and that the country won't be governed by people that do not care about it's future, we have come up with a plan.

With the help of all the kopimists on Internets, we want to buy Sealand. Donate money and you will become a citizien. We've set up a forum to discuss how the country is supposed to function. It should be a great place for everybody, with high-speed Internets access, no copyright laws and vip accounts to The Pirate Bay. Register and let us write history together.

Plan B: If we do not get enough money required to buy the micronation of Sealand, we will try to buy another small island somwhere and claim it as our own country (prices start from USD 50 000).(LINK )

New Jersey to Remove "Idiot" Clause from Constitution

State Senate President Richard Codey introduced a bill on Monday that would remove language from the New Jersey constitution that was designed more than 150 years ago to prevent people suffering from mental illness or handicap from casting their vote in national, state or local elections.

Codey wants to eliminate a section that says "no idiot or insane person should enjoy the right of suffrage" and substitute with a reference to "a person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting."

Codey, a Democrat who was previously acting governor of New Jersey, said in a statement the term "idiot" is "outdated, vague, offensive to many and may be subject to misinterpretation."(LINK )
Off the record, Codey said "And anyways, it obviously hasn't really STOPPED idiots from voting in this state."

NY Mayor Gets Telematketers on "Bat Phone"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg complained to a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday that he's vexed by pesky dinner-time phone calls from salesmen -- ringing him on his secure line.

Much like the Gotham police commissioner's secure line to the "bat phone" in the 1960s "Batman" television show, the kitchen of Bloomberg's Upper East Side townhouse has been outfitted for emergency top-secret communications.

Testifying at a Senate hearing on protecting America after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Bloomberg was asked about New York City's updated communications equipment that allows police, fire, health and other officials to talk to each other in a crisis.

Bloomberg mentioned his secure phone and the insurance salesmen that regularly call him on it. Following the hearing, Bloomberg stood before reporters who asked about as many questions about the "Bat phone" as they did about New York's quest for more anti-terrorism funds.

"It's never been used other than to answer an occasional call for 'Do I want to subscribe to a particular magazine, buy an insurance policy' or some other such ridiculous thing," Bloomberg said.(LINK )

Library Lures Teens with Anime Club

One of the Monticello Library's newer kids' clubs is luring local adolescents through its doors in droves.

The Anime Club, a Great River Regional Library pilot program, meets once a month to watch an animated film, munch on Japanese candy and bond over a shared interest in a popular cultural sensation that blurs the lines between technology, artistry and cartoonery.

Monticello's club caters to preteens and teenagers, hosting a half-hour meeting for ages 10-12 followed by another for ages 13-18. "We view a film and the club previews books the library offers," said librarian Deb Lukken, who hosts the club. "They love it."

"It's a way for kids to get together and talk about movies and books," Hoks said. "It's been an extraordinarily positive experience for all the locations, especially Monticello. We were looking for something that would get kids into the library, get them excited about reading, and it seems to be doing that. Kids check out anime materials, and then they check out other materials, too. It's a great way for them to see what's available to them."(LINK )
Good idea but the writer is a liiiitle out of the loop in their description of "ANIME":
A medium born in the film industry, anime today is distributed on media such as DVD and VHS, computer and video games. Some anime storylines have been adapted into live action films and television series. It's also available in printed versions.
First: Is anything released on VHS anymore? Second: Printed Anime? Say it with me: "MANGA"

January 11, 2007

New Pirates Pics

So, The first publicity shots from "Pirates of the Caribbean 3 : At World's End" were just released. Very cool looking, but then we got down to Will Turner's pic:


Am I the only one that sees this and thinks: "FAME! I'm gonna live forever! I'm gonna learn how to fly...HIGH!!!"


January 05, 2007

LinkNews Digest [01/05/2007]

Home Depot CEO Fails, Gets $210M

Robert L. Nardelli, the chief executive of Home Depot, who came under heavy criticism for his pay package and failure to lift the chain's stagnant stock price, has abruptly resigned, the company said today.

In its statement, Home Depot said that Mr. Nardelli and the company’s board "mutually agreed that Nardelli would leave his position." He will receive about $210 million in compensation from the company, including the current value of retirement and other benefits he was already entitled to, the statement said.

The unexpected departure of Mr. Nardelli caps a tumultuous year at the company, the nation's second largest retail chain after Wal-Mart. Shareholders had begun to openly question the company’s direction and Mr. Nardelli's leadership, and the board was under considerable pressure to make a change.

Within the past month, one activist shareholder, Relational Investors, said it would propose that an independent committee evaluate the company's direction and management. In a letter to Mr. Nardelli, the firm said Home Depot's stock had underperformed since 2000 because of "deficient strategy, operations, capital allocation, and governance."(LINK )

Deliveryman Interview Contains Jackson 5 Dancing

B&Q have been criticised after would-be van drivers were asked to dance to the Jackson Five's Blame It On the Boogie.

Clive Hagon-Powley complained: "The first exercise we had to do was form a circle. Then we had to dance to Michael Jackson. After that, we had to pull funny faces while the interviewers took photos. What this had to do with working for B&Q I do not know. I should have walked out then but I need a job."
Another of the candidates, Rodney Southern, 35, from Martham, Norfolk, added: "I don't mind a laugh and a joke but I didn't expect that at a job interview. I was humiliated." Neither Mr Hagon-Powley's nor Mr Southern's dancing skills were up to the mark as they were not offered a job.

The company said in a statement that it was an informal and "light-hearted exercise" before the formal interview process began. "The vast majority of interviewees said it was a relaxed way to get the interview session under way," the company said.(LINK )

French Protest New Year, to Boycott 2007

French demonstrators saw in the New Year - by protesting against it. People carrying banners reading 'No to 2007' and 'Now is better' marched through the streets of Nantes. They called on the United Nations to stop the 'mad race' of time and declare the indefinite suspension of the future.

The protest was an attempt to make fun of French people's apparent fondness of saying no to any kind of change and as a different way to celebrate the New Year. When the bells sounded to mark the start of 2007, they moved on to the next stage of their campaign - chanting 'No to 2008'.(LINK )

Goalie Offered in Trade for Gas Pipeline

A Romanian second division football team is offering one of its top players in exchange for a gas pipeline.

Cornel Rasmerita, mayor of Lupeni in western Romania, who is also in charge of the Minerul football team said he was willing to sell his star goalkeeper Cristian Belgradean to first division team Jiul.

The deal would be subject to Jiul's rich businessman owner paying for the construction of a gas pipeline in his town.

He said: "I know our keeper is wanted by a number of top clubs but I am willing to let him go to Jiul if the club's owner makes a $110,000 investment in a gas pipe that my town needs so much."

Jiul bosses have not responded to the offer but it is not the first time football players have been exchanged for goods in Romania.

Previous deals have seen players swapped for half a pig and two sets of goalposts and a crate of wine.(LINK )

January 04, 2007

Anatomy of a Dork

I was scanning in some old pictures my parents brought over, and I was amazed at my personal history of social ineptitude, captured on so many painful pictures. I have always been a dork, looking back. And the troubling thing is that I always look so HAPPY being that way in the pictures. I had no CLUE.


Anatomy of a Dork: Preface

From am early age, I was marked for Dorkdom. There was no room for error. Even at this early age, my brother couldn't look away from my ultra-dweeby pants. And he had the cool cowboy thing going on. And when you start this bad, it only gets worse.





Anatomy of a Dork: 1987
Flash forward to 1987. Living in Columbus, Ohio, playing in the Dublin Middle School Band, and I had just given up playing with "Schnookie", my bear puppet. Don't ask me why I had my brother take this picture of me (He's the pair of shorts under the flash). Was this a sultry snapshot that I wanted to "accidentally" drop in front of some girl, trying to impress her?



Dork1And in 1991, it wasn't much better. I had given up the saxophone for the Bass Drum in the Marching Band, and I'd hit my growth spurt and was a 6-Foot beanpole. I Still couldn't dress myself. For some reason, I spent $500 in summer earnings buying a DJ Setup, figuring I could do parties for extra money. Mostly, I just made mixtapes. For myself. To give my music "Street Cred", I bought a drum machine. I ended up using it to play hip-hop beats along with the "Les Miserables" soundtrack, calling it "Les Mix".



The pics ended there. Aside from documenting some bad haircuts and a failed beard, the Dorkiness turned inward during the college years. In closing, just so you know, I DID have a brief period of Un-Dorkiness before plunging back into its grip:
PirateChris

January 02, 2007

Star Wars in the Rose Bowl

Allright, Pretty cool to see some StarWars love in a national parade like the Rose Bowl. And the 501st Stormtrooper Garrison was there of course. Where else would you find so many? Awesome to see the whole marching band in the Imperial Officer uniforms.

And on an editorial note: Costumes were just about the same caliber as you find at in the DragonCon Parade every year.