The winter of 2015

Not as much snow as our northern friends, but no less beautiful...

The artwork of Cameron Hobbs

A young artist to watch out for.

Tammy the Pup approves of new look!

Semi-psychotic pooch gives two paws-up to The Knight Shift's overhaul.

Movies I've Never Seen: THE BIG LEBOWSKI

"It really tied the room together."

Catherine Rose: genius, pioneer, mother

A story of love, creativity, and perfect timing.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Christian "leaders" considering third-party for President

According to The New York Times:
Alarmed at the chance that the Republican party might pick Rudolph Giuliani as its presidential nominee despite his support for abortion rights, a coalition of influential Christian conservatives is threatening to back a third-party candidate in an attempt to stop him.

The group making the threat, which came together Saturday in Salt Lake City during a break-away gathering during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for a written resolution that "if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate."

After reading the story, I had the following thoughts...

1. Why are these people considered to be "Christian leaders"? I sure as hell don't follow them. I don't see why any other Christian should be beholden to them, either.

2. There is a candidate for President running on the Republican ticket who is everything that so-called "Christian conservatives" have always claimed to have wanted in a candidate: Ron Paul. None of these "leaders" however, to the best of my knowledge, has ever come out and said that they support Dr. Paul.

3. These Christians should not be looking toward supporting a third party... because these Christians should have never stood behind any political party to begin with, at all. To follow Christ means to defy the patterns of this world, and not adhere to them at the cost of Christ-like principles and character. Do I believe that Christians in America should be politically active? Yes. But only so far as individual candidates go. Hitching our wagon onto the Republican party has led Christianity in this country toward disaster time after time. As it is, it's not enough to talk about going with a "third party": if these "Christian authorities" are going to show serious leadership, then they are going to have to advocate that this country's Christians break away from the party structure and process completely. It must be an absolute divorce, with no turning back as Lot's wife did at Sodom.

4. The previous observations, sadly, can only lead me once again to believe that too many Christians in this country are more fixated on acquiring worldly power than they are with seeking out Christ and serving Him with due humility.

5. It is our failure to do that which is destroying America. Yes, I blame the Christians in America for that. Because we have chosen not to be the salt of the earth any longer.

6. Being that the previous point demonstrates a monstrous lack of skills contributing to criminal negligence in the spiritual sense, I propose that we, the followers of Christ in these United States, kick Dobson, Perkins, and other self-proclaimed "leaders" to the curb. We should then proceed to find and install new "leaders" if we are to insist on having them. Because the current management is, to put it mildly, screwed beyond all hope.

Another SESAME STREET classic: "Ernie Counts Sheep"

The first time that I saw this Bert and Ernie sketch, I was maybe five years old and it seriously cracked me up! Every time that I couldn't sleep I would start thinking about sheep, then fire engines just like Ernie does. So here it is: the "Ernie Counts Sheep" skit...

TNT this morning is running THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

So I'm watching it again - 'cuz it's one of my all-time favorite movies - and I'm wondering...

Dare I post a video on YouTube of myself doing my extremely disturbing yet hysterically funny impersonation of Buffalo Bill?

It seemed to be a rather popular trick when I was in high school. So much so that during a swim meet my senior year my teammates asked me to do it while I was standing up on one of the diving blocks. Of course, I obliged them.

So I'm thinking of videotaping it and sticking it on YouTube. Might become a sensation. And then again it might get me arrested.

What do you think? :-P

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Biggest sporting event in Elon history?

I just got back from Burlington a little while ago. On the return trip I decided to stop by Sandy's Subs, located near the campus of my alma mater Elon University, to get a sandwich to take home.

I had totally forgotten about how Elon is playing Appalachian State today in football. Bear in mind that a few weeks ago Appalachian State pulled off an amazing victory against Michigan, one of the top-ranked teams in the nation. And then factor in that this is Family Weekend at Elon.

When Lisa and I were dating, she was a student at University of Georgia. Whenever I visited her on Saturdays in the fall, if Georgia had a home game going on the whole place was pandemonium. I'd never seen people go so positively bonkers for football as I did whenever it was a game day at Sanford Stadium.

What I saw today, driving through Elon, was in some ways crazier than anything that I saw at Georgia! The number of Appalachian State fans that I saw tailgating alone is something that still has my senses reeling.

I have never seen that many people around Elon before. And Elon is certainly not as big a campus as Georgia.

I wish that I'd had my camera with me, 'cuz mere words can do it no justice. But take my word for it: if you're familiar at all with Elon University, today might be the biggest sporting event in the school's history. It's already well known that this is the first-ever sellout game for Elon's footballl program (at least since the school had a stadium to call its own).

Look at what Lisa surprised me with last week!

Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary. She got it through some special book-order thing at her school. 272 full-color pages that put together all the previous Star Wars Visual Dictionaries, with the addition of some new material. A very neat tome that's a fine addition to my Star Wars bookshelf. Or on the coffee table to be oggled by guests.

Do I have the greatest wife ever, or what? :-)

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Granny" Roberts was born 100 years ago today

Granny and me,
just before my high school graduation in 1992.

One hundred years ago today, on September 28th, 1907, in a tiny house amid the hills and valleys of Patrick Springs in south-central Virginia, Elsie Wimbish was born.

She was my grandmother.

She was, to me and to countless people who weren't even related to her, always "Granny".

Few people have played as big a role in my life, and who I wound up becoming - and am still becoming - as did Granny. I learned so much from her. How to laugh. How to love. And if need be, how to fight and more importantly why to fight.

In other words, she taught me a lot about how to live.

Elsie Wimbish, almost from the beginning, came from a humble background but had a colorful life in spite of it. One thing I didn't know until toward the end of her life was that when she was a young girl she met R.J. Reynolds several times (Reynolds' wife Mary Katherine was a close relative of the Wimbish family). When Elsie got a little older she moved to Rockingham County and worked at the American Tobacco Company in Reidsville. And it wasn't long afterward that she met and married Arthur Stiers. Together, Elsie and Arthur would have three children: Glendora, Michael, and Frank.

A few years later however, Arthur Stiers died. Elsie did her best to provide for her three children. Then she met a fellow named James "Duck" Roberts: my grandfather. They married and had five children: Kenneth (alias "Nub"), Jesse James (named after the gunfighter? I've heard stories...) AKA "Jack", Ruby (my mom) and Wayne. There was also one baby boy who died in infancy.

All told, there wound up being nine people - Elsie and James and the children - living in the small house on Pecan Road just outside of Reidsville (now inside the city, no thanks to the treacherous annexing of 1989). And from all accounts it was a pretty raucous affair. From the time that Frank was arrested in Reidsville driving a car with no lights, no horn, barely any brakes (the headline in the next day's Reidsville Review screamed "Franklin Stiers: Caught Driving Nothing But Motor and Tires") to the night that my mom almost killed Nub with a shotgun after he forgot his key to the front door and tried to come in through her bedroom window, to Jack's stunt at Lake Reidsville when he mounted a rocking-chair on a pair of water-skis, stories about life at the Roberts house have come to be pretty legendary in our family.

In spite of it all, Elsie (who was being called "Granny" by a lot of people not long after the birth of her first grandchild) kept the place in order, and maintained a house built around love for each other.

Central to everything in Granny's life was her fierce - and very sincere - faith. In fact, I would say that "mystic" wouldn't be too inappropriate a term to describe her relationship with God. She was always a churchgoer (she was one of the founding members of Evangelical Methodist Church in Reidsville) but seeking after God wasn't something that was a once-a-week affair with Granny. It was a constant, never-ending chasing after God and His will. It wasn't until years later, after she had died, that I really started to understand the kind of intimacy she had with God. It was a moment-by-moment thing that freed her to live as full a life as anyone on this Earth could possibly have. Some people, I hate to say, go through the motions of "worshiping God" and end up embittered because of it. That was never Granny. I don't know if she was ever bitter with anyone.

As I said, she was full of life. Part of that was that Granny was a notorious practical joker. I've heard dozens of stories about her wild youth and crazy pranks she would pull: usually on guys who were trying to woo her. Even after I was born, she went for the laugh. And sometimes her jokes would last for years... like how she had me convinced that she used to be a lawyer. It wasn't until I was sixteen that she came clean about that one.

Granny was a cook. Was perhaps famous even for her skills in the kitchen. That was her domain and she was the absolute mistress. There was nothing that she couldn't come up with. Her homemade biscuits: delicious beyond belief. Fried or barbecue chicken? She was amazing at both. Green beans and fried okra and baked potatoes and whatever else you can think of that's "country cooking". She was also adept at hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza on occasion.

But don't think that Granny was somehow all "old-fashioned" either. She had a peculiar grasp of culture and new trends. And new technology even. I mean, my cousin Frankie could explain something to her that they were doing at NASA with the space shuttle, and she would listen with rapt attention and even ask questions about it. Whenever we all got together for dinner on Christmas night at her place, she always marveled at the new toys that the kiddies had got from Santa.

And then about a year before she died, I found her watching a movie on television via the recently-installed cable and it turned out that she was looking at - and enjoying - Fargo.

Yes, Granny was watching Fargo! And she thought it was hilarious!

Who you were, or where you came from, didn't matter to Granny. One of my cousins said on the night of visitation for her at the funeral home that "there was no telling how many people here put their feet under her table." He was right, too. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the entire "rainbow coalition" wound up in Granny's house at some point or another. Every color. Every creed. Even some who practice what are called "other lifestyles" that many Christians would readily condemn.

But that wasn't Granny's way. She knew that every person was loved by God, and that meant that she was going to love them also.

There is so much that I could say about Granny, that I would probably have to be here until nightfall to write it all. She really was one of those rare "larger than life" figures that you meet during your time in this world.

And then on a Saturday morning in March of 2000, Granny had a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital in Greensboro. She held on strong for a few days.

The following Tuesday morning, Mom was in her room and Granny looked up at her and smiled and said "I love everybody."

Mom was summoned by one of the doctors and had to step out of the room.

Two minutes later, on March 28th, 2000, Elsie Wimbish Stiers Roberts passed away.

I've never doubted that she wasn't alone in those final moments. There was a reason why Mom was made to leave the room, right just then.

Don't ask me how I know this. But I believe, as much as I am sitting here writing these words, that something happened in Granny's room in the last minute of her life... and she was the only one with earthly eyes who was allowed to see it. It was something meant for her, not for us. Something that Granny had earned during her long life of faith in God and love of others.

I can't begin to imagine what happened in that room in those fleeting last moments of Granny's life. But it was something made manifest as beautiful as her kind and loving spirit.

A few nights later we had the wake and visitation with the family at the original Wilkerson's Funeral Home in Reidsville. Someone told me that it was extremely rare to have as many people stretch around the block to pay their last respects to a person, as had come to see Granny one last time. I'm hard-pressed to remember anything like it myself: maybe two other people that I knew had lines anywhere near that long going out the door and down the sidewalk.

The next day was Granny's funeral. It was also my birthday. And I spent part of it as pallbearer for her casket: for the person that I had come to love more than anyone else in this world. And there's a lot more about that which I could probably talk about, but not here.

Granny Roberts lived to be 92 years old. Among her grandchildren and great-grandchildren there would be: teachers, ministers, a doctor, a renowned golf player, a prolific fashion model, a NASA engineer, armed forces personnel who served in two wars, business executives... and me. But I guess every family has to have a black sheep somewhere, doesn't it? :-)

So today would be her one hundredth birthday. And that seems like a very long time to most people, but is it really? I mean, one hundred years is a mere tenth of a millennium. And there have been only two of those since our Lord walked the Earth. When you think of it in those terms, our time here really is, as the apostle James put it, "a vapor".

But Granny knew how to pack in as much as you can into that time. She understood the things that really mattered and she made the most of them.

Do you think I'm here remembering her death? Certainly not! I'm here to honor her life and how she used it.

And what an amazing life it was.

Happy birthday, Granny. And we still love you.

iPhone bricking is DRM run amock

You've probably heard about how some people are taking their new iPhones and hacking them so that they can use carriers other than AT&T, run "third-party" software not approved by Apple, etc. Many or most (maybe all) of these folks are suddenly lugging around very expensive "bricks", because this week Apple released an update for the iPhone that is disabling such modified phones.

I took a looksee through the licensing agreement for the iPhone. The thing is Digital Rights Management from Hell. From my understanding of the agreement, buying and using an iPhone is lifetime indentured loyalty to AT&T, if you want to keep using it. That's beyond the initial two-year service agreement.

In light of my own recent experience with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it sure looks like Apple saw the rights afforded to people by the DMCA if they attempted to circumvent the software and contract, and tried their damndest to do an end-run around that.

Whatever happened to the days when you bough something, and you were free to use it however you wished, so long as you didn't use it to kill someone or otherwise deprive them of their rights? I mean, if you bought an iPhone you own the physical unit. You should be perfectly free to use another carrier or run your own software, or whatever. But if another private party dictates the terms under which you can use it, then it is not really yours at all. You just paid a hefty licensing fee for the rights to use the iPhone per Apple's conditions... but per the strictest definition of "property", you don't own it.

Some will probably say that people hacking their iPhones is analogous to how twenty years ago, some folks used to tamper with their cable boxes to get extra channels without having to pay for them. But it's not the same thing at all. With cable box tampering, the tangible product in question was the television signal itself: people were stealing something that did not legally belong to them. iPhone hacking involves a physical product that the consumer has fully paid an agreed-upon price for: legally - if it's understood that the iPhone is the property of the consumer - the purchaser would have the right to modify the iPhone.

(And no, it's not even the same as the situation with modified Xbox 360s either, since Microsoft only prevents altered 360s from using the Xbox Live service: a situation paralleling that of tampered cable boxes. So far as I know Microsoft hasn't physically "bricked" any modded Xbox 360s.)

It comes down to this: is the iPhone the property of the one who purchases it, or is it the property of Apple?

Hard to believe that the same Steve Jobs who came up with the idea of selling an Apple 1 made of pieced-together parts is now three decades later discouraging others from playing and hacking around with technology.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Great Delusion: Why evangelicals WILL back Fred Thompson

The Politico today has a story about why evangelical Christians - who are almost entirely registered Republicans - will be opposing Fred Thompson.

Don't believe it.

If Fred Thompson is nominated to be the Republican candidate for President next year, you will not only see most of these so-called "conservative evangelicals" not oppose Fred Thompson, but will see them support him with their wallets and their prayers.

You will hear preachers - as much as they can get away with it - crying out from their pulpits to their congregations that it is their "good Christian duty" to vote for Thompson.

You will witness the supposed "leaders" of Christian virtue in America do an about-face and instruct their followers via websites and radio programs and "voter guides" that they "cannot turn away from their God-given task" by failing to support Fred Thompson... especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democrat nominee.

And if Hillary is the Democrat candidate, you'll hear it preached far and wide that it will practically be a mortal sin not to do everything in our power to defeat her. The raw hatred for Hillary Clinton will blind so many that they won't even want to consider what exactly they will be choosing as the alternative.

You think it won't happen? I'm talking about the same people who still believe that George W. Bush was directly anointed by God to lead America. The ones who still refuse to believe that Bush can do wrong and who adamantly hold that whatever evil is attributed to him is merely "liberal media bias".

And you don't think they'll buy into the con that Fred Thompson is a "good Christian man" just like them?

They'll not only buy it, they will insist that he is good and virtuous. In spite of his lobbying for dictators and for the abortion industry, they will accept him. So long as he has that magic "R" stamped next to his name on the ballot come November 2008 and it's the "right" Democrat he's running against, they will gladly cast a vote for Fred Thompson.

I know these people well. Have met far too many of them over the years. For the most part, sincere and earnest Christian men and women. But try to tell them how Bush and other Republicans have been so un-Christlike in their actions, and they tune you out. They turn their heads away. They don't want to hear it. It's almost impossible for them to reconcile whatever you are telling them - however truthful it is - with the perceptions they like to entertain. It would literally hurt them if they tried to contemplate your facts. You want to see Orwell's "doublethink" in action? Find one of these self-proclaimed "evangelical conservatives" and get them to talk about how Bush is right to want to bomb Iran. Look at how much they will seem to want such an attack... and then confront them with Matthew 5:44. Brace yourself if you do such a thing: he or she will probably tell you that you're not being a "good Christian". Or a "good American" anyway.

It's the Great Delusion, happening right before our eyes: people who proclaim to follow Christ, throwing their principles away for sake of worldly power. It's as if Jesus rebuked Satan when He was offered all the kingdoms of the Earth and millions of those who professed to follow Him immediately raised their hands and waved to Satan crying "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

Evangelical Christians are the battered spouses of the Republican Party. They are beaten, exploited, raped, and subjected to indignity. But plenty enough of them to matter will keep crawling back to the GOP. Because as they say: "Who else is gonna take you in? Where else are you gonna go?"

Too many Christians in this country have decided we want the kingdoms of Earth over the Kingdom of Heaven. What does that say about the measure of our faith, indeed? Why should the rest of the world want to look at us and want what we have, if this is our testimony?

This is why I hate so much of what Christianity in America has become. It's turned into a spineless pile of mush that will do whatever the hell it's told to do, so long as the person giving the orders has money or power or picks up a Bible and waves it around and says the right words for itching ears.

No wonder this country is screwed-up. No wonder this world is so screwed up. Because we as Christians, who are supposed to be representing something apart from this earthly realm, keep demonstrating over and over that we don't really want that at all. We are commanded to be "the salt of the earth" but we've lost the saltiness and as Jesus said, we've become worthless. Everything is rotting because of it.

Okay, I'll go ahead and say it: "Americanized" Christianity is, literally, a God-damned piece of crap.

Why do I say "God-damned"? You surely don't think God is going to bless what we've done in His name, do you?

So if Fred Thompson is nominated and is on the ballot a year from now: just watch. The evangelical Christians - at least the ones still locked in this lust for power - will absolutely support and follow the man. They're too inebriated with the Great Delusion to want or know to do otherwise. It won't occur to them that "voting for the lesser of two evils" is still voting for evil.

They will do this, because they do not truly have Christ as the foundation of their lives upon which to stand.

You might could consider this little rant to be "Part 1" of a "diptych" that I am working on. The second part will follow sometime in the next day or so, and will likewise examine Christians in America and how we have let our desire for power overcome us to the detriment of all.

NOT AGAIN! Virgin Mobile humiliates teen with stolen content

Two weeks after my own situation with Viacom was resolved (let us hope, and you can read much more about it here), now comes word that another major corporation is taking a person's material without permission and using it commercially. But this time it's much worse than anything I went through with my own digital copyright battle.

16-year old Alison Chang from Texas was attending a Christian camp in Australia. A camp counselor took her picture and uploaded it to photo-sharing site Flickr. Well, Virgin Mobile found that picture and without asking anyone's permission - including Miss Chang's - they used it in a major (and very expensive) advertising campaign. Suddenly Chang's picture was all over the place with the caption "Dump your pen friend" and the words "Virgin to virgin". Here's the story at The Register and here is a photo of Virgin's vulgar use of Chang's visage (also posted to Flickr) along with Miss Chang's comment upon discovering it...

Well, having her picture being used like this has bothered Chang and her family, as it no doubt would most people. They have now filed a lawsuit against Virgin Mobile. They are also suing Creative Commons, the nonprofit outfit whose licensing is the basis for Flickr and many other so-called "Web 2.0" operations.

I also found good coverage of Alison Chang's situation at WebProNews both in this text article and in this video report:

After what I just went through with Viacom, I'm certainly going to keep an eye on what happens with Alison Chang's lawsuit.

Bush declares to students that "childrens do learn"

Absent any loathing I have for his actual policies, I seriously have to question the mental processes of any man who murders grammar to the point that he says "childrens do learn".

That said man is the President of the United States would make it all the more laughable if it didn't have such tragic implications for the rest of us.

Here's the story from Reuters...

"Childrens do learn," Bush tells school kids
Wed Sep 26, 2007 1:46pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Offering a grammar lesson guaranteed to make any English teacher cringe, President George W. Bush told a group of New York school kids on Wednesday: "Childrens do learn."

Bush made his latest grammatical slip-up at a made-for-TV event where he urged Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, the centerpiece of his education policy, as he touted a new national report card on improved test scores.

The event drew New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plus teachers and about 20 fourth and fifth graders from P.S. 76.

During his first presidential campaign, Bush -- who promised to be the "education president" -- once asked: "Is our children learning?"

On Wednesday, Bush seemed to answer his own question with the same kind of grammatical twist.

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured," he said.

The White House opted to clean up Bush's diction in the official transcript.

Bush is no stranger to verbal gaffes. He often acknowledges he was no more than an average student in school and jokes about his habit of mangling the English language.

Just a day earlier, the White House inadvertently showed how it tries to prevent Bush from making even more slips of the tongue than he already does.

As Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, a marked-up draft of his speech briefly popped up on the U.N. Web site, complete with a phonetic pronunciation guide to get him past troublesome names of countries and world leaders.

And just think: his father was "the Education President"!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

THE DEADLY ART OF DEEP-FRIED TURKEY

While going through some older videotapes I found this, made during the first Christmas that Lisa and I were married. This was at her parents' place in Calhoun, Georgia and is a chronicle of the third turkey that I'd ever fried. Since then I've done many more (and have become much better at it, I think). Lisa was running the camera and the guy you see sitting in the chair with the University of Georgia cap is her dad:

I might make another video about turkey-frying as we get closer to Thanksgiving, this one doing a step-by-step from marinading the bird, to actually frying it. But this one gives a pretty good idea about the process and the extreme danger involved :-)

EDIT 11-18-2007 10:25 a.m. EST: I've decided to stop publicly showing this video, because I'm taking a lot of heat for how "burnt" the turkey looks. And in all honesty... yeah it could look better for the camera. Trust me though: this was much better than how it appears here! I'm going to be frying another one this week, and film it with a new high-definition camcorder, so hopefully it will be a much better show :-)

A Star Wars action figure I never thought we'd see

I guess they really will make an action figure out of everyone in the Star Wars movies. This is one that I never imagined (or even thought to have wanted) would be made: "Han Solo in the torture chamber from The Empire Strikes Back"!

I found this on WizardUniverse.com's list of 20 things that Star Wars fans have to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Harry Potter stuff: New blog examines books from Christian perspective, plus AWESOME Potter artwork!

Our dear friend Jenna Olwin out in Washington state has just started a new blog called A Church in Godric's Hollow. It promises to be quite an enlightening read because Jenna is delving into the Christian aspects of the Harry Potter books.

And it was because of Jenna's new blog that I discovered artdungeon.net. This is quite simply the most beautiful art based on the Harry Potter books that I've seen. It's absolutely breathtaking how Marta, the young artist behind the site, has captured the soul and essence of so many scenes and characters from the J.K. Rowling's books. Want an example? Okay, this one is my favorite so far, but do not peek unless you have read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE is 20 years old today


It was on September 25th, 1987 that Rob Reiner's movie The Princess Bride was released.

It was more than 14 years later before I saw it for the first time! I drove out to my sister's place in Sylva (about an hour west of Asheville) on New Years Eve in 2001 to hook up with her and Lisa so we could ring in 2002 together. Well that night while waiting for midnight Anita popped The Princess Bride in her DVD player.

To this day I still can't believe that I went so long without seeing this awesome movie! It's the kind of demented humor that I've always gone for. I don't even have an absolute favorite scene, they're all so good! But for some reason the part where Prince Humperdinck cranks up the torture machine full-blast has always made me giggle in a very wrong way. And then later on when Fezzik is doing the "Dread Pirate Roberts" thing: that always cracks me up. I loved that one so much that a month or so later I turned it into a "Star Wars Captioning" at TheForce.net (I couldn't help it, Andre the Giant looked too much like the Emperor in that scene :-).

Lisa's parents gave me the DVD of The Princess Bride as a gift this past Christmas. I may watch it again today just to celebrate.

Monday, September 24, 2007

TRANSFORMERS 2 has a release date!

Superhero Hype! is reporting that Paramount has set a release date for Transformers 2: June 29, 2009.

Which is rather fast for a follow-up to a successful blockbuster movie. No doubt the threat of a writers strike this coming spring had something to do with it. I hope they're not rushing things. But then I think of Spider-Man 2 and how that is widely held to have been better than the original, and how it came out 2 years following Spider-Man. Besides, word is that the producers of Transformers have already sketched-out where this story is going for at least two more movies. And Transformers started filming a year before it was released and it turned out okay: with the foundation already set for much of the pre-production work, they'll probably be able to get to work on this fairly quickly.

By the way, the CD of Steve Jablonksy's score from Transformers comes out two weeks from tomorrow. And a week after that is when Transformers comes out on DVD. Take a wild guess which one I'm looking forward to having more :-)

My Show Planet: A site for Christian filmmakers and musicians

Rory McIlvain, a filmmaker in California, sent me word tonight about My Show Planet, a YouTube-ish site for Christian independent filmmakers and musicians to showcase their work. The site is still in its very early stages, but I think it shows quite a lot of promise. Here's wishing Rory all the best in this new endeavor and I'll definitely be visiting on a regular basis (and will try to contribute something too :-).

Halo 3 comes out at midnight tonight

Unfortunately I don't have an Xbox 360 to play it on even if I bought it. Might be getting one come Christmas though (now that it's been out for about 2 years I guess I can trust the technology :-) and then I'll play Halo 3. And the Xbox 360 version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. And maybe Gears of War which a lot of people tell me is a very good game.

In the meantime I'm gonna replay the original Halo and Halo 2. Especially Halo 2. I'm still confused as heck about the ending to that game.

What's brewing at KWerky Productions?

It's been awhile since anything's been reported here regarding KWerky Productions, the filmmaking outfit started by "Weird" Ed and me. Unfortunately events during most of the past year really took away from a lot of productive time and energy. Now that all of that is over with, it's time to turn our attention to more creative efforts.

It's funny: for over a year now I've been involved in fighting one battle after another. The thing with Viacom/YouTube was just the most recent of those. With all of them having been fought (and amazingly enough won for the most part) I'm finally looking forward to struggling for things I want to do, not necessarily because I have to do them...

Keys, our feature-length project, is still on. Obviously we weren't able to film it in the timeframe that I was hoping for. Oddly enough that may have helped things when it came time to shoot it. And it's given me time to do more research, tighten-down some elements, etc.

By the way, it turns out that there's another movie called Keys. Interestingly enough, like ours this one seems to involve a lot of music too. Here's the website for that Keys and after visiting it and seeing the trailer, I am really interested in seeing it because it looks very good.

In light of knowing that there's another movie sharing the same title as ours, I'd considered changing the title of the one we're doing. But I think it's going to be okay. The word "Keys" is something that's quite important to the story and there's really nothing else appropriate that would work. Besides, lots of different movies share the same title (no not remakes!) and that's okay. In the end there will be one Keys made by Christopher Babers and another Keys made by Christopher Knight and his will be excellent and mine will be... strange :-)

Seriously though, we wish Babers well and we look forward to seeing his Keys!

Apart from that, there are no less than two projects we're working on. One of them is already shot and all that needs to be done is to put it together. And there's an interesting idea that I'm playing around with for a short film, that in some ways would be like Schrodinger's Bedroom, although it would be much more serious and I would have plenty of time to work on it (compared to Schrodinger's Bedroom which was rushed from conception to completion in less than a month).

And then there is another project. Chad Austin is the one who came up with the idea for it and when he told me about it on Friday night (after we saw Transformers in IMAX) my brain started reeling with possibilities. This is something that we're going to be working on over the next few months and it's not only going to involve filmmaking, but some other stuff too that I think will turn out to be good for personal growth. This one is going to be absolutely hilarious!

So that's what's happening right now on the KWerky Productions front. And that's probably the last time for awhile that I'll be able to say anything about what we're doing. Because I'm seriously thinking of blogging for another few weeks and then take some time off from The Knight Shift, so that I can focus on those efforts... and other things also. But now ya know what's sorta in the pot :-)

Music from Doom on a piano

Another awesome YouTube find (actually Doomworld gets credit for the discovery). It's a video of a guy playing a lot of the theme music from Doom on his piano! This was worth posting just for his rendition of E1M1 (to this day the most pounding/driven theme from a video game I've ever heard).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marcel Marceau has passed away

World-famous mime Marcel Marceau has died at the age of 84.

What an amazing life he lived! I'm just now discovering that he fought in the French resistance during World War II and that he helped many Jewish children flee to safety in Switzerland. Then Marceau became a translator for General Patton liberation army. After the war he studied drama and that's how he wound up discovering and perfecting the art of pantomime.

I saw him on TV bunches of times over the years (think the first time I ever saw him was on an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood) but ironically the performance that most comes to mind whenever I hear his name was his brief appearance in Mel Brooks' 1976 comedy Silent Movie. Marceau had the only line that's actually spoke aloud in the entire movie: he says "Non!" (so far as I know this was Marceau's only spoken word in a major performance).

Hope it'll be awhile before I have to post another one of these. They seem to be all too frequent lately...

TRANSFORMERS 2 coming the summer of 2009! Plus: My wish-list for the sequel


According to Michael Bay's blog, he and Steven Spielberg have scheduled the summer of 2009 for the release of Transformers 2.

Sweet!

'Course we knew this was going to happen anyway, but it looks like we'll be seeing them giant battlin' robots a year earlier than previously expected.

And since every other fan of Transformers has already said what they want in the sequel, here's my personal list of things I'm hoping that this second Transformers movie will have:

- More Transformers!
The first movie was a great setup for the series and introduction to the concept. I think that's why the number of Transformers that we saw was relatively limited. The next chapter should be able to expand the cast of both Autobots and Decepticons significantly.

- Give the Transformers more screen time
A lot of people complained about how much of Transformers was focused on the humans, compared to how much was focused on the Transformers themselves. The 2007 movie was a lot about how we as Earthlings come to know about the Transformers and their war. Part 2 should provide more opportunity to explore the Transformers themselves.

- Steve Jablonsky once again composing the score
Like you thought that I of all people would not mention that one :-P

- A more world-wide conflict
Let's see the Decepticons wreck havoc all over the globe. So we'll need a way for the Autobots to reach all of those trouble spots (maybe that aircraft carrier Transformer we've heard that Bay wants to put in the sequel?).

- Bring on the Dinobots!
You read it here first: Grimlock will be the big hero of the 2009 summer movie season. Maybe early in the movie we'll get to see five Autobot protoforms crashing on Jurassic Park...

- Other well-known voices for the Transformers
Say it with me: "Christopher Lloyd is Wheeljack." Obviously Peter Cullen should return (as should Hugo Weaving, if they bring back Megatron somehow). I also think that Frank Welker should be offered a role too, in honor of all the work that he did for the original cartoon. But there's great potential for a lot of famous voices to help bring the Transformers to life. How about... Mark Hamill as Thundercracker?

- A MASSIVE air battle between human military and the flying Decepticons
One of the best - and scariest - scenes in Transformers was toward the end of the movie, when Starscream was "playing" with the Air Force jets. He kept switching back and forth from his F-22 Raptor mode to his biped form as he tore the human fighters out of the sky. I would love to see another fight like that, only this time between the Air Force and Starscream leading an entire squadron of airborne Decepticons. Remember the air battles in Independence Day? Imagine something of that scale in a Transformers movie.

- Getting to see Transformer spacecraft
I can accept how Optimus and his crew arrived on Earth... but how are they going to get off of it? They gotta have a ship orbiting somewhere and the literature has established that anyway.

- Keep emphasizing the otherworldly nature of the Transformers
The 2007 movie in my opinion was the finest continuity of the Transformers franchise, in that for the first time it established the Transformers as a distinctly alien race. Things like the Decepticons doing their "roll call" in their native language were really nice touches. We should see more of that.

- No more references to "masturbation" or other lewd "humor"!
That one line was the worst part of the 2007 Transformers movie, for so many reasons. It wasn't needed. At all. Hopefully this will remain the one low point of the movie series.

- Arcee
Yes, chalk me up as one of the fans who want to see her make an appearance. We know that Arcee was planned at one point to be in the first movie, that there were CGI models made of her even. A female Transformer would be quite an intriguing addition to the film franchise.

- No "mass-shifting"!
Yes, I know that there is a massive demand for Soundwave and I would like to see him too. But in the movies he should be handled realistically. Having a 30-foot robot shrink down into a portable cassette player may be allowed to slide in the comics or cartoons, but it's going to be hard to believe in a live-action movie.

- Likewise, caution with the "gestalts"
They're gonna appear sometime or another 'cuz they're too popular: the "combiners". They're the "special teams" of Transformers that merge into larger robots. But have you ever thought about how ridiculous some of those would be in real life? I mean, Menasor would have tiny arms and legs compared to the rest of his body: whoever heard of a Transformer with a glandular problem? But I think if the producers are careful, a live-action gestalt could work fine.

What else should we like to see in Transformers 2? :-)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dude follows EVERY rule in the Bible for one year

A man named A.J. Jacobs has spent a full year following all of the rules and commandments of the Bible. What was that like?
After A. J. Jacobs spent a year reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica for his book "The Know-It-All," he figured he had the yearlong experiment thing down. How much harder could it be to follow every rule in the Bible? Much, much harder, he soon discovered, as he found himself growing his beard, struggling not to curse and asking strangers for permission to stone them for adultery. Jacobs spent the year carrying around a stapled list of the more than 700 rules and prohibitions identified in the Good Book, and also consulted with religious leaders and spent time with the Amish, Hassidic Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Hit here for the rest of the story. Thanks to Kevin Bussey for the find!

We saw TRANSFORMERS in glorious IMAX at the Exploris!

Yesterday was the premiere of Transformers in the IMAX format. The allure of watching the Autobots and Decepticons hash it out on what I call "the big-a$$ screen" was too much to pass up, so on Tuesday Lisa and I ordered our tickets for last night's 7 p.m. show at the IMAX Theater at Exploris in downtown Raleigh.

But this really is the kind of thing best shared with friends too. So Chad Austin also got him a ticket and we got in touch with Eric Wilson, a really good friend of ours who I hadn't seen in like 15 years. He drove a few hours to Raleigh and we all hooked up at Chad's place about 5 minutes from the Exploris. After a quick bite at the Armadillo Grill, we headed over to the theater.

The best part of going to see Transformers last night, without a doubt, was getting to see Eric's reaction to watching an IMAX movie for the first time in his life. The moment we entered the theater his eyes got as big as saucers when he saw that mammoth screen: it's been a way long time since I've seen utter astonishment like that. And then before a movie starts there's this little presentation that shows off the Exploris IMAX's capabilities, including the 12,000 watts of speakers. As Eric put it, "It's like being at a KISS concert!" I found myself turning to look at Eric quite a bit during the movie and there wasn't a time that he didn't look blown-away by the spectacle of it all. It almost seemed too much, for all of us: Chad said something about how overwhelming the screen was with all that action going on.

Transformers is the kind of movie that screams for the IMAX treatment. It's big, bright and loud! Easily the most 'splosive-sounding IMAX movie that I've ever heard. From the opening scene where we watch the Allspark majestically float through space as Optimus narrates over it, you know this is going to be a massive thing for both eyes and ears to behold. And then a few minutes later we see Blackout's attack on the Air Force base in Qatar and it's never looked so good: the IMAX image is so huge, you see every nuance of Blackout's movement as he works his way across the grounds of the base. That's one of the best things about the IMAX release, we all agreed: you really can make out details better than you can in the regular release.

Everything else in the movie is as magnificent as you can imagine Transformers in IMAX to be: the ground-pounding counter-attack on Scorponok, the "Autobots descent" (maybe the best scene in any movie all summer), and the final battle that goes from Hoover Dam to Mission City. How awesome is Transformers with IMAX-sized sound? Well the entire theater literally vibrated when Megatron awoke and declares "I am... Megatron!"

If you're a fan of Transformers you've probably heard that the IMAX release contains about 2 minutes of extra footage. That's true but none of it involves new material of the Transformers themselves (unless you count the scene where Sam is driving Bumblebee and he picks up his friend Miles just before the lake scene). All of the new footage focus on the humans, but I still enjoyed them. The best of the new stuff is a quick scene where Lennox is trying to persuade the gun-totin' owner of a pawn shop to give him some short-wave radios. A lot of the new material relates to Sector Seven and its long history, like how every President since Hoover - and Simmons names them all usually with their nicknames - has come to look at Megatron. Come to think of it, there's like six new scenes and Simmons is in three of those: curious, that.

Here's Eric, Chad, myself and Lisa (hey, all four of us are bloggers!) with the Transformers stand-up in the lobby of the IMAX Theater at Exploris:

After the show we went to Krispey Kreme for donuts. That's probably going to be worth noting in the months to come as a pretty fun project was conceived in the course of consuming the sweets. So I just wanted to put a marker here for when this thing kind of kicked-off. There'll be more to talk about that come January or so.

So we had a blast last night! And Transformers was definitely worth the drive to watch in IMAX. If there is an IMAX screen fairly close by, by all means do what you can to catch it while it's running: there's no better way to wind down the theatrical run of such a great movie than to see it like this! :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

VIDEO: Citizens arrested in D.C. for reading the Constitution

I was going to preface this with some commentary. Then I decided that this is something that would be better for you to watch and decide for yourself whether this is right or wrong.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

MONDAY NIGHT LIVE has a Myspace page

Yes the rumors are true: Monday Night Live now has its own page on Myspace! And it does a really good job of conveying the off-beat personality of Reidsville, North Carolina's premiere television call-in show, too. On the page you'll find a history of the long-running show, hilarious "in-jokes" like references to Commander Ashtar and Tom Wopat and Richard from Danville, pictures of hosts Mark Childrey and Ken Echols (and maybe a few other familiar faces), and even the show's theme music - "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac - playing in the background... along with much more! The only thing missing is that Jaybird isn't on the friends list... but maybe he'll get a Myspace page of his own soon (hurry up Jaybird!).

Judge OKs "Hitler Youth" buttons to protest school uniforms

A federal judge has ruled that two New Jersey students can continue wearing buttons depicting the Hitler Youth as part of a protest against school uniforms, Fox News is reporting...
U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. sided with the parents of the students, who had been threatened with suspension by the Bayonne school district last fall for wearing the buttons. However, the judge added in his ruling that the boys will not be allowed to distribute the buttons at school.

"I'm very pleased," said Laura DePinto, mother of one of the students. "I think it upholds the most basic of our American rights, which is to protest peacefully."

Citing a 1969 case in Iowa involving students who wore black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War, Greenaway wrote that "a student may not be punished for merely expressing views unless the school has reason to believe that the speech or expression will 'materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school."'

Greenaway's decision "follows the law as we saw it going in," said Karin R. White Morgen, an attorney representing both boys' families. "We believed that it was the Tinker decision that applied," she added, referring to the Iowa case.

The buttons bear the words "no school uniforms" with a slash through them superimposed on a photo of young boys wearing identical shirts and neckerchiefs. There are no swastikas visible on the buttons, but the parties agreed that they depict members of Hitler youth.

Bayonne instituted mandatory uniforms last September for grades K-8, and fifth-grader Michael DePinto wore the button several times before objections were raised in November, attorneys for the plaintiffs said.

In a letter dated Nov. 16, 2006, Janice Lo Re, principal of Public School 14, notified Laura DePinto that her son "will be subject to suspension" for wearing the button in school.

Parents of the other student, Anthony LaRocco, a seventh-grader at the Woodrow Wilson School, received a similar letter from principal Catherine Quinn.

After the suspension threat, the boys' parents filed a federal lawsuit claiming the district stifled the children's First Amendment free speech rights. They also have mounted a legal challenge to the uniform policy.

Neither boy has worn the button since the lawsuit was filed, Morgen said.

District lawyers asserted that the image of the Hitler youth was abhorrent because it conveyed intolerance and racial inequality represented by Nazism.

Thanks to Mark Childrey for the heads-up!

TRANSFORMERS score: Decepticons theme chanting revealed (it's a medieval hymn!)

There's just nineteen days left before the CD of Steve Jablonsky's Transformers score comes out, which a lot of us have been looking forward to since the movie came out. Well, Marco van Bergen has discovered something about the soundtrack. Remember the unearthly chanting that's in a lot of the music for the Decepticons, like when Frenzy is hacking the computer and during the "roll call" scene? Marco and I talked about it and comparisons to John Williams's "Duel of the Fates" from the Star Wars Episode I soundtrack came up. The chorals in "Duel of the Fates" were a Sanskrit translation of an ancient Welsh poem called "Battle of the Trees". So might Jablonsky have done something similar with the Decepticons music?

Well, Marco did some asking-around in the right places and here's what he found out:

I was wondering for a longer time now what the great lyrics in the "Decepticons theme" mean, and today, I found out: The Decepticons theme is influenced by the world famous Dies Irae. Jablonsky mixed it up, and uhm, well now you have a meaningless pot of words:

Low-voice-chant:
Tuba, mirum, Tuba, spargens
Tremor, David, mirum, ante

Chant which gets louder throughout:
Totum totum totum totum David
Totum spargens totum david
Totum quarens, sedisti totum

(I wasn't able to understand the rest of it.)

If ya would translate it, it would be something like this:

Trumpet, casts, Trumpet wondrous
Horror, David, Casts, before

Contained, contained, contained contained David
Contained wondrous contained David
Contained seeking, hope contained

So, it's all kinda nonsense (although the real Dies Irae has a biblical meaning behind it).

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Dies Irae. From the opening paragraph:
Dies Irae ("Day of Wrath") is a famous thirteenth century Latin hymn thought to be written by Thomas of Celano. It is often judged to be the best medieval Latin poem, differing from classical Latin by its accentual (non-quantitative) stress and its rhymed lines. The meter is trochaic. The poem describes the day of judgment, the last trumpet summoning souls before the throne of God, where the saved will be delivered and the unsaved cast into eternal flames.
I can sorta see why this particular hymn might have wound up being "adapted" for the Decepticons theme: just the translation of the lyrics sound dark, foreboding, unearthly...

What a neat find! Thanks Marco! :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tonight's Drudge Report illustrates a messed-up America

There's so much wrong with this picture that I don't even know where to begin...

There is nothing respectable about Hillary Clinton. There is nothing respectable about Dick Cheney either. They're both power-mad and completely bereft of any real sense of service or humility.

That the Drudge Report believes this is worthy of a screaming headline - complete with Darth Vader graphic - might make it even more ridiculous, if it weren't so altogether tragic.

This country is plagued with rabid Democrats, reprobate Republicans, and rubbish enablers in the bigtime press. And with damned few exceptions, not one of the whole sorry lot has any real clue as to what's actually going on in this world or how they're screwing things up for the rest of us. They are absolutely worthless and it's an insult to our intelligence that we should even be expected to care about these people.

To paraphrase that Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark: "Shoot them... shoot them all!"

TOWN BANS NEW CHURCHES: Reidsville City Council forbids new congregations in downtown area

Earlier tonight on WGSR, Richard Moore appeared with Charles Roark and was (among other things) talking about this week's meeting of the Reidsville City Council. And Richard reported on something that I couldn't believe that I was hearing, so I e-mailed Richard and he confirmed it...

Reidsville City Council has voted to ban new churches from the downtown area.

Here is what Richard told me...

"Current churches can continue to operate, but no new churches will be allowed in the Central Business District. It was put into law today with a 5-2 vote. I think John Gentry and George Rucker voted against it."
Richard also tells me that the Reidsville City Council did not debate whether or not this measure to ban churches was constitutional, but the council did discuss the constitutionality of banning pit bulls.

Only in Reidsville.

Let's review the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It's a pretty sad thing but one way or another, it's occurred to me that as of today every right delineated by the First Amendment has come under attack or otherwise curtailment by public officials in Rockingham County in the past several months. We've had elected officials describe WGSR as "bad for the community" (Ron Price on the school board), sue people for organizing petition drives (Ron Price, again), eliminate free speech in a public hearing (Reidsville City Council's silencing Richard Moore in April). And now with this act, Reidsville City Council is prohibiting both the exercise of religion and the right to peacably assemble.

It could also be noted that beyond simple prohibition, that the City of Reidsville is now acting as a regulatory agency over religious activity.

There may be more to report about this later. I'll post it when it comes across the desk this way. In the meantime, as crazy as it sounds: Reidsville, North Carolina is one town in America that has banned new churches from appearing in its downtown area.

Parse that as you will.

YOUTUBE/VIACOM AFTERMATH - Part 2: The DMCA Counter-Notification Claim

Because a lot of people have expressed interest in this, and because I haven't been able to see any reason to withhold this info at this point, here is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act counter-notification claim that I submitted to YouTube.

(And in case you don't know what this is about, here's the original post about my situation with Viacom over a YouTube clip that I had uploaded and here's the post about its resolution.)


It all started with the following e-mail that I received from YouTube on the morning of August 29th, 2007:
Dear Member:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Viacom International Inc. claiming that this material is infringing:

Web Junk 2.0 on VH1 features my school board commercial!:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddyVQwpByug

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

Sincerely,
YouTube, Inc.

I read this and a short while later fired off a reply to YouTube's copyright address (copyright@youtube.com):
This is in regards to the video "Web Junk 2.0 on VH1 features my school board commercial!" that has been hosted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddyVQwpByug

This morning I received the following notice:

"This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Viacom International Inc. claiming that this material is infringing..."

The clip in question that I had posted was from a recent episode of VH1's "Web Junk 2.0" which spotlighted a video that I produced and have full rights to. It can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLi5B0Iefsk

My clip was used by Viacom for commercial television purposes without attempting to contact me for permission. I did not mind this. I was in fact honored that they thought it worthy of featuring on their show. If anything *they* are violating *my* copyright because they used it in this way without seeking permission. And now they have caused it to be pulled... when in fact it's my own copyrighted material.

I sincerely request that you look into this matter further and you will find that I do have a most valid claim in this matter. Upon which, I would like to request that you restore the clip as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Chris Knight

A minute later, I recieved the following automatic response from YouTube:
Thanks for contacting YouTube! You've reached the copyright and DMCA compliance team. Your message has been received and is now queued for review. Please note that general help inquiries won't be answered here. For help with other site-related issues, please visit our Help Center at http://www.google.com/support/youtube/.

If you're requesting removal of a video that is allegedly infringing your copyright, please make sure that you have provided us with all of the required information in order to process your complaint. Providing incomplete information may delay the processing of your claim. For the requirements of DMCA notification, or if you have questions about our DMCA policy, please see: http://www.youtube.com/t/dmca_policy

Did you know that YouTube offers copyright owners a tool for submitting notifications more easily? If there are many videos to be removed, or you expect to have an ongoing need to remove potentially infringing content from YouTube, we suggest that you sign up for our Content Verification Program, which electronically notifies us, removing any room for error, and significantly increases the speed at which we are able to remove any infringing content. To sign up for this tool please visit: http://www.youtube.com/t/copyright_program

Regards,
The YouTube Team

That e-mail correspondence all took place shortly after 11 a.m. EST. Five and a half hours later, at 5:47 p.m., another e-mail from YouTube arrived:
Dear Chris,

We received notification from Viacom International Inc. When we're notified that a particular video uploaded to our site infringes another's copyright, we remove the material as the law requires. If you feel a content owner has misidentified your content as infringing, you may file a DMCA counter-notification.

For more information, visit our Copyright Tips page,
http://youtube.com/t/dmca_policy.

Sincerely,

Harry
The YouTube Team

I went to the link that Harry at YouTube sent me. I'd already visited it earlier in the day when I was looking at my options, writing up the report for the blog on what had happened, etc. After this new mail from YouTube I looked over it once again, and immediately began writing my DMCA counterclaim.

I followed YouTube's directions precisely. It didn't take long at all to compose and submit it. I sent it to YouTube at 6:34 p.m., less than an hour after the last YouTube e-mail.

Here it is:

From: kwerkyproductions@gmail.com
to: copyright@youtube.com
Subject: DMCA counter-notification regarding ddyVQwpByug

Dear YouTube,
I wish to file a DMCA counter-notification in regards to the following video clip that was previously hosted on YouTube:

Web Junk 2.0 on VH1 features my school board commercial!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddyVQwpByug

I do hereby state under penalty of perjury that it is my good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.

The video clip in question is a segment of the "Animals & Other Crap" edition of the television series Web Junk 2.0 on the cable network VH1, which is owned by Viacom. I used the segment per Fair Use because it is a derivative work from original material of which I am the creator and the copyright owner. The original video can be found at http://youtube.com/watch?v=nLi5B0Iefsk

Viacom did not seek my permission to use this not-for-profit material of my own creation for purposes of commercial television. As such, Viacom infringed on my own copyright. I knew this but did not seek to pursue any legal measure against them. Under the law, I still maintain copyright over even such derivative work.

In pressing YouTube to remove this video clip, Viacom is legally declaring that I am practicing copyright infringement against my own copyrighted material: in effect Viacom is assuming that it owns full copyright of the material.

I am sure that YouTube will appreciate the peculiarity of the matter, and will understand that as the original creator of the material and being one who is not seeking monetary compensation for Viacom's use of it, that I merely wish to continue using the clip under Fair Use. And as such, that you will restore the clip to its original address as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Christopher Knight

(STREET ADDRESS)
(CITY, STATE, ZIP)
(PHONE NUMBER)
kwerkyproductions@gmail.com

I hereby consent to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which this address is located, and that I will accept service of process from the person who provided notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) or an agent of such person.

Once again, this was met with an automatic reply from YouTube:
Thanks for contacting YouTube! You've reached the copyright and DMCA compliance team. Your message has been received and is now queued for review. Please note that general help inquiries won't be answered here. For help with other site-related issues, please visit our Help Center at http://www.google.com/support/youtube/.

If you're requesting removal of a video that is allegedly infringing your copyright, please make sure that you have provided us with all of the required information in order to process your complaint. Providing incomplete information may delay the processing of your claim. For the requirements of DMCA notification, or if you have questions about our DMCA policy, please see: http://www.youtube.com/t/dmca_policy

Did you know that YouTube offers copyright owners a tool for submitting notifications more easily? If there are many videos to be removed, or you expect to have an ongoing need to remove potentially infringing content from YouTube, we suggest that you sign up for our Content Verification Program, which electronically notifies us, removing any room for error, and significantly increases the speed at which we are able to remove any infringing content. To sign up for this tool please visit: http://www.youtube.com/t/copyright_program

Regards,
The YouTube Team

And this was all that I heard from YouTube for more than 48 hours. On August 31st at 8:45 p.m., the following e-mail arrived:
Dear Kwerky,

Thank you for your counter-notification. It has been forwarded to the
party that sent the takedown notification.

Sincerely,

Harry
The YouTube Team

There was no further correspondence from YouTube, until this e-mail arrived on September 11th at 8:57 p.m. (and I first read it about 20 minutes after it was sent):
Dear Kwerky,

In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we've completed processing your counter-notification dated x/xx/xx regarding your video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddyVQwpByug

This content has been restored and your account will not be penalized.

Sincerely,

Harry
The YouTube Team

Well, I checked to make sure the clip was really back and it was. So after waking up my wife to tell her that this was, apparently, finally over with and that the clip was restored, and then making some phone calls, about an hour after reading that e-mail I sent the following back to YouTube:
Dear YouTube,
Thank you for restoring this clip, and I greatly appreciate your assistance in resolving this matter.

sincerely,
Chris Knight


And that was basically it so far as official action from this end went. It almost seems to have been too easy, but in all honesty I have to once again thank Fred von Lohmann and the staff at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for helping me out with this. Von Lohmann also suggests referencing the Fair Use Network's site explaining how to respond to DMCA takedown notices.

But if you ever wind up in a similar situation with YouTube or a similar service, and if you believe you do have strong grounds to contest a removal of material that you've posted, you can fight it and the first step is to file that DMCA counter-notification. Indeed, if you don't do this, there is really not much that anyone could do on your behalf. You've got to agree to some pretty serious conditions in filing the claim, such as potentially being brought to court and that you file understanding that you could be held liable for perjury. But if you sincerely believe that you are in the right and if you are willing to fight for your material, then the conditions really aren't terribly unreasonable. I can see that those things are there mostly to dissuade those who might file frivolous counterclaims.

So if this ever happens to you, now you know what I went through in getting my own clip restored on YouTube and hopefully it will help you out, too :-)

YOUTUBE/VIACOM AFTERMATH - Part 1: The Media Exposure

It took quite awhile longer than I'd expected. This thing got around in a big way, what with The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! and Slashdot and Ars Technica and seemingly a jillion more outlets that covered it. Lots of people wanted to weigh in on this and for sake of objectivity I've tried my best to include everyone that I could find that raised valid arguments about this issue, regardless of which side they took.

So here ya go: a (more or less) definitive reference to the published articles about the Christopher Knight/YouTube/Viacom incident.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Kevin Nalty AKA "Nalts" himself provided commentary on the controversy early on with this nice video that I totally dug...

"Viacom's copyright cops get carried away" - by Nick Ferrell for THE INQUIRER also deserves special recognition because this is the first time ever that I've been referred to as a "bloke". Farrell also writes that I "stood for" school board (yes this is a British publication :-)

And The 12 Angry Men Blog bestowed me with the honor of "Hero of the Week" this past Friday :-)


PERSONAL INTERVIEWS

"'Saber man', YouTube run afoul of copyright" - by Gerald Witt for the News & Record

"Viacom slaps YouTuber for behaving like Viacom" - by Cade Metz for The Register

"'Star Wars Man' Runs Into Trouble with Viacom for YouTube Video" - by Chad Tucker for Fox 8 WGHP (with video)

"Small Town Man: Victim or Copyright Infringer?" - by Abby Prince for WebProNews

Plus Ultra Podcast Episode 5 with Tracy R. Twyman (audio interview in MP3 format)

"Vindu's View: YouTube copyright fight shows fair and legal different" - by Vindu Goel for San Jose Mercury News

"A tale of two videos: what's mine is mine unless you change it enough to make it yours" - by Vindu Goel for San Jose Mercury news

"Followup: Chris Knight wins battle with Viacom over YouTube clip" - by Vindu Goel for San Jose Mercury News

"YouTube, Viacom bow to light-sabre wielding defender of online justice" - by Cade Metz for The Register

"YouTube video involving local candidate resurfaces" - by Gerald Witt for the News & Record

"Chris Knight's Copyright Infringement Case Resolved" - by Abby Prince for WebProNews


PUBLISHED ARTICLES BEFORE REINSTATEMENT

"Viacom Says User Infringed His Own Copyright" - by Slashdot

"Punishing Corporate Copyright Abusers" - by Dan Gillmor for Center for Citzen Media

"YouTube yanks goofy 'Death Star' clip at Viacom's insistence" - by Russell Shaw for ZDNet.com

"So by Terms of Service, you mean like a bull services a cow" - by John Murrell for SiliconValley.com

"Viacom steals video, issues take down notice to the artist" - by Fair Use Day

"Here's Your 15 Minutes And Your DMCA Notice" - by Jason Lee Miller for WebProNews

Viacom: It's Not Copyright Infringement When We Do It" - by Kristen Nicole for Mashable

"Viacom is a Big, Mean Bully" - by Kevin Nalty for Will Video For Food

"Viacom Can Take Your Stuff and Copyright It" - by Evan for Uneasy Silence

"Viacom runs Web video, claims copyright" - by Owen Thomas for Valleywag

"Viacom says that local blogger infringed on his own copyright" - by Darkmoon for LUX.ET.UMBRA

"YouTube Complies with Viacom" - by Jordan McCollum for Marketing Pilgrim

"Christopher Knight's Crapolicious Copyright Case" - by roasty for Crapolicio.us

"This time Viacom is accused of violating copyright" - by Greg Sandoval for CNET News.com

"Chutzpah!" - by Mike Weiksner for Connected Conversations

"Viacom - pokaz hipokryzji" by Antyweb (IN POLISH!)

"Man posts on YouTube: Viacom steals video & then files takedown on Creator" - by Simon G Best for Groklaw

"Viacom Accuses Guy Of Copyright Infringement For Showing Video Of Viacom Infringing On His Copyright" - by Mike Masnick for Techdirt

"Viacom's 'bass-ackwards' screw-up: issues takedown for video it 'pirated'" - by Jacqui Cheng for Ars Technia

"Viacom breaks copyright time continuum" - by DiscoZome for Unknown Worlds Forum

"Viacom orders YouTube to remove a copy of their work they took from said YouTuber?" - by Sean P. Aune for TECHBLORGE.com

"Is plagiarism protected by copyright law?" - by Silicon Valley Sleuth

"Full-Circle Copyright Infringement" - by The J-Walk Blog

"Quand c’est Viacom ce n’est pas une infraction au copyright!" - by Aziz Haddad for Mashable (IN FRENCH!)

"Copyfight: Viacom runs Web video, claims copyright" - by Technology News Blog

"Viacom in a copyright doomloop" - by Adriana Lukas for Media Influencer

"Viacom's Chutzpah" - by Jeff for spin the cat

"Viacom Dings Man For Copying His Own Video" - by Yahoo! Tech

"Viacom Pulls Clip It Doesn't Necessarily Own" - by Jackson West for NewTeeVee

"Viacom Accuses Copyright Owner of Copyright Infringement!" - by Mike Abundo for Inside Online Video

"Misusing and Abusing Social Media and Trust" - by Laurel Papworth

"Viacom's Got Big Balls" - by Bubba for Fazed

"YouTube DMCA Chutzpah? Sorry, Viacom Also Entitled to Play Fair Use Game" - by Donna Bogatin for Inside Chatter

"Urheberrechtsposse: Viacom vs. Knight vs. Viacom" - by Felix Knoke for Spiegel Online (IN GERMAN!)

"Don't make Christopher Knight the posterboy for copyright oppression" - by Evan Brown for InternetCases.com

"Say What?" - by Bob Schwartz for A South Dakota Moderate

"Hypocrisy in the Copyright Infringement Debate" - by Of Zen and Computing

"Viacom slammed for pulling VH-1 YouTube clip" - by Matt Chapman for vnunet.com

"YouTube-Related Legal Disputes, Part I" - by Peter Lattman for The Wall Street Journal

"Viacom s 'bass ackwards' screw-up issues takedown for video it 'pirated'" - by Chad Smith

"Viacom: Fair Use Is What We Say It Is" - by Scott Gilbertson for Wired

"For Me and Not for Thee" - by Sleepcatz

"Audacity: Viacom copies YouTuber’s video w/o permission, then accuses YouTuber of infringement" - by The UTube Blog

"Viacom Once Again Abusing DMCA?" - by Andy Beal for Marketing Pilgrim

"The One with the double standard" - by in the key of :: T

"Viacom: Direitos de autor? O que é isso?" - by OrangeEye (IN PORTUGUESE! I think...)

"Indie Filmmaker in Copyright Spat With Viacom Over YouTube Clips" - by Mark Hefflinger for Digital Media Wire

"Viacom demonstrates the meaning of the word 'hypocrisy'" - by Less for Stupid Evil Bastard

"Can you copyright something you've nicked?" - by Dizzy for Dizzy Thinks

"How to Infringe Your Own Coyright - It Happened on YouTube" - by Bogdan Popa for Softpedia

"Christopher vs. Goliath" - by Tilly Gokbudak

"Full-Circle Copyright" - by Bernard Goldbach

"YouTube coypright conundrum" - by Software Online Guide

"Copyright Infringement Goes Meta" - by Erin Simon for Maximum PC

"Hvem eier en YouTube-video?" - by Electroworld (IN NORWEGIAN!)

"Copywrong" - by Rob for Unconventional Wisdom

"Viacom's flexible attitude toward fair use" - by Matthew Sag for Fairly Useful


PUBLISHED ARTICLES AFTER REINSTATEMENT

" Viacom Yields to YouTuber Who DMCA Counterclaimed" - by Slashdot

"Return of the Jedi" - by Ed Cone

"Amateur's Counter-Notification on Viacom Results in Clip Returning" - by Kevin Nalty for Will Video For Food

"YouTube restores clip downed by Viacom" - by Nick Farrell for The Inquirer

"Viacom admits mistaken DMCA notice after EFF gets involved" - by The UTube Blog

"YouTube restores Viacom-banned VH-1 clip" - by Matt Chapman for vnunet.com

"YouTube Reverses Course on User’s Video: Reposts It" - by Dan Gillmor for Center for Citizen Media

"Don't Be Bullied By Big Business! Counter False Copyright Infringement Claims" - by Justin Hall for My PC Pros

"Viacom Copyright Infringement Lifted" - by The Judge for Media Morgue

"Remember that guy who got his video stolen by VH1 and Viacom had his clip taken down from Youtube? He filed a DMCA counterclaim, and won" - by reddit

"School Board Candidate Beats Viacom" - by Movieweb

"School Board Candidate Beats Viacom" - by contactmusic.com

"YouTube restores controversial clip protested by Viacom" - by Ruben Francia for TECH.BLORGE.com

"YouTube Honors Counter-Notification Versus Viacom" - by Mike Abundo for Inside Online Video

"Man defeats Viacom in DMCA takedown dispute" - by vurbal for afterdawn.com

"Look Before You Upload" - by John Naughton for The Observer

"Fallen Star Wars Clip on YouTube Has Been Restored" - by Kristen Nicole for Mashable

"School Board Candidate Beats Viacom" - by IMDB Studio Briefing

"I'm Back" - by Jeffrey Starr for Not Bad Films

"Campaigners who get told they don't own the rights to their own election ads" - by The Labour Humanist

"A banner week for music and copyright" - by chooch for Shuroki Online

"Update: good guy wins, Viacom loses" - by Mike Weiksner for Connected Conversations
If there's any more that are found, I'll be sure to post them here also.