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.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heang Uy: Biking across America

The above photo was taken on the coast of Oregon a few days ago by Heang Uy. Heang is a friend from my college days, who has been a bigger inspiration to me than I've ever been able to articulate. He's a true brother in the Lord, a great teacher, and an excellent coach at his school.

And this summer Heang is bicycling across the continental United States! Word has come down the wire that sometime this evening Heang should be entering the Mountain Time Zone, headed toward Idaho. If all goes well he'll be pedaling back into North Carolina in August. In the meantime Heang Uy is out there somewhere: exerting both mind and body in an epic odyssey that will have him living the landscape like few dare to experience.

Pretty neat, aye? :-)

Here's Heang's blog, where he's chronicling his journey (accompanied with photos from the trek). Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he perseveres toward the goal!

Full-sized Elite costume from HALO

I've seen many costumes inspired by video games, but this one has to top them all: a seven-foot tall fully-armored Elite from the Halo series!

Click on the above link for plenty more photos and a video of this getup. The guys who made this have also made a full-sized Master Chief costume.

Funniest thing I've read all week

"Twilight is like World Cup soccer. They run around for 2 hours, nobody scores, and a billion fans insist that 'you just don't understand'."

-- attributed to one "jayrunquist"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO or STAR BLAZERS, whatever it is... here's the new trailer!

So I'm pretty sure that every man, woman, child and dumb animal on Earth has by now seen the staggeringly excellent trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Meanwhile, our friends in Japan have just unloaded something just as eyeball-blowing spectacular: a new trailer for the Space Battleship Yamato (better known as Star Blazers on this side of the pond) live action movie! There was a teaser released earlier this year, but this one shows us much more.

One thing I'm worried about: how is the story from Season 1 of the animated series going to be compressed into one motion picture? Maybe Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers could become a live-action TV adaptation with modern technology. Perhaps on HBO? Then they wouldn't have to pretend that Dr. Sane was drunk on "spring water", heh-heh...

Anyhoo, what glorious eye candy awaits us from the Land of the Rising Sun! Can't wait to see this.

Did y'all know that I have a Twitter feed?

Yes I do. And I use it for quite a bit of mirth and merriment!

(Okay seriously, for all of y'all going to see Eclipse tonight, hope you have fun :-)

I like TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE already

I'm very thankful for the Twilight movies, because never again will I get flack from my sister for going to see the Star Wars movies premiere at midnight.

'Nuff said.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"This is heavy!" BACK TO THE FUTURE Trilogy coming to Blu-ray!

I know at least two good friends who will without a doubt be buying this on the day it's released (and one of them would purchase it at midnight if he could, and you know who you are coughcoughEdcoughcough)...

This coming October 26th marks a quarter-century since Marty McFly hit 88 miles per hour and took his accidental journey to 1955. And to celebrate that milestone in movie history we're getting the Back To The Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy on Blu-ray!

GeekTyrant has posted a Mr. Fusion-full of details about the Blu-ray release of the Back To The Future movies, which is already one of the most loaded for any home release that I've ever seen.

If this set doesn't wind up on my shelf on October 26th, it will no doubt be on my list for December 25th!

On salvation and pride

It makes as much sense to declare that all the members of another religion are damned to Hell as it does to assert that all the members of your own religion are destined for Heaven.

Horse with no name: Equine-headed mystery lad appears on Google Streetview

People of Aberdeen, Scotland: the Horseboy is on the loose in your town!!

IT manager Russell Moffatt was using Google's Streetview feature to locate an optician's shop so he could get his eyeglasses repaired. But while doing the search he found something else: a person, apparently male, wearing a horse's head mask along with a purple shirt, standing on the side of a street in Aberdeen.

This mystery individual has quickly become known as "Horseboy" and as such things go on the Intertubes, has quickly acquired a herd of fans and well-wishers.

Horseboy is just the latest in a string of odd sights found by users of Google Streetview. Among other things people dressed as Japanese warriors, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Emmett Brown have been picked out of Streetview's data.

If I knew when a Google Streetview car would be coming past my house, I'd probably be waiting outside in my Jedi Knight costume :-)

Rest in peace Senator Robert Byrd

There's not a town in West Virginia that doesn't already have a bridge or a horse trough named after him... so how are they going to memorialize Robert Byrd?

His propensity toward pork barrel spending always irked me. And he was in the Senate way, way too long: nobody has any bidness holding the same elected office for 52 years.

But I must admit: I did have some admiration for Robert Byrd. He was certainly one of the better-read and more eloquent holder of high office in the past century of American history.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family and the people of West Virginia today.

Supreme Court rules on what most of us already knew...

...and decided that the Second Amendment really DOES apply to EVERY part of the United States. In other words, it affirmed that citizens do have a basic right to keep and bear arms for purposes of self defense (and, I dare say, as an incentive against government getting too big for its britches).

Glad to see the Supremes finally nodding toward something that's been public knowledge only since the Bill of Rights was ratified.

But in any case, this is a major victory for gun rights. Perhaps the tide is turning after all in this land.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL: A movie SCREAMING for distribution and NOW!

Awright, I'm finally sick and tired and fed up with this. So once more I am feeling morally obligated to use this blog for a cause greater than myself. Maybe lightning will strike again as it has done a few times already with The Knight Shift.

I am speaking about Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

And ya wanna know why I'm writing about this, here and now? Two reasons. First of all, THIS MOVIE IS CRAZY AWESOME!! I first saw it at ActionFest in April. It was midnight on a Friday night and the theater was packed and everyone was laughing and lapping it up and begging for more! I had to leave later the following day but my filmmaking partner "Weird" Ed saw it again at midnight that evening and he reported that not only was the screening once more full but he himself enjoyed it even more the second time around!

And I would love few things more right now than to be able to drive over to the neighborhood cinema and see Tucker & Dale vs. Evil again but for some reason beyond my comprehension (and I can comprehend an awful, awful lot) this movie has still yet to find a distributor!

Which draws me to my second reason for writing this: that Tucker & Dale vs. Evil would be an immensely successful and quite welcome entry into the slate of films for the summer of 2010... if it can land a distributor RIGHT NOW. Let's face it: this summer so far at the box office has been a bit of a letdown. The past couple of years were better than usual but now there's quite a bit of a lull in the amount of "must-see" movies. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil would be something that we don't get to enjoy nearly enough of: a bona-fide "sleeper" hit movie that people go to see and tell their friends about how great it is. First-time director Eli Craig has crafted a perfectly balanced mix of slasher-style horror and campy satire that would be like ambrosia for those starving for good cinema this season. And with Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine headlining a great cast, I can easily see where people would be demanding more Tucker and Dale movies to get made. This really does stand to be a whole lucrative franchise waiting to happen. But even if it doesn't, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil as a standalone would earn some serious coin at the box office before fall arrives.

As I said though: this movie needs, nay, deserves a distributor... and it should have had one yesterday.

If anybody in the industry is reading this and wants to pick up what is one of the best-kept secrets in film right now, then do yourself a favor and become the distributor for Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. I bet if this can come out in August, it would rake in at least $75 million... if not much, much more.

World's scariest swimming pool...

...will make you think you're swimming over the edge of the world itself:


55 stories above the streets of Singapore, the Sands Skypark in Singapore provides a swimming pool, casino and greenway held aloft by three skyscrapers. The skypark is almost 1,250 feet long and the pool itself is 500 feet long.

What happens if you go over the side of the pool? You and the water get safely dumped into a basin that pumps the water back up to the pool. You, presumably, will have to walk up stairs or take an elevator back up to swimming altitude.

Click on the link at designboom for more information about the Sands Skypark and its swimming pool in the sky!

6-year old girl on Homeland Security's "No-Fly List"

One more bit of evidence for the already bloated file of arguments for why the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and the whole damned "War on Terror" is an effin' joke...

Alyssa Thomas, all of six years old, was temporarily detained from boarding a flight from Cleveland to Minneapolis by TSA agents. Alyssa is on the dubious "No Fly List" and nobody knows why.

Here's the story from Fox 8 News in Cleveland, Ohio...

WESTLAKE, Ohio - Alyssa Thomas, 6, is a little girl who is already under the spotlight of the federal government. Her family recently discovered that Alyssa is on the "no fly" list maintained by U.S. Homeland Security.

"We were, like, puzzled," said Dr. Santhosh Thomas. "I'm like, well, she's kinda six-years-old and this is not something that should be typical."

Dr. Thomas and his wife were made aware of the listing during a recent trip from Cleveland to Minneapolis. The ticket agent at the Continental counter at Hopkins Airport notified the family. "They said, well, she's on the list. We're like, okay, what's the story? What do we have to do to get off the list? This isn't exactly the list we want to be on," said Dr. Thomas.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations in Cleveland will confirm that a list exists, but for national security reasons, no one will discuss who is on the list or why.

The Thomas family was allowed to make their trip but they were told to contact Homeland Security to clear-up the matter. Alyssa just received a letter from the government, notifying the six-year-old that nothing will be changed and they won't confirm nor deny any information they have about her or someone else with the same name.

"She's been flying since she was two-months old, so that has not been an issue," said Alyssa's dad. "In fact, we had traveled to Mexico in February and there were no issues at that time."

According to the Transportation Security Administration, Alyssa never had any problems before because the Secure Flight Program just began in June for all domestic flights. A spokesperson will only say, "the watch lists are an important layer of security to prevent individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism from flying."

Right now, Alyssa has other priorities. "My Barbies, my magic mirror and jumping on my bed!" But her name will likely stay on the list and as for the next time she flies, the FBI says they'll rely on the common sense of the security agents.

"She may have threatened her sister, but I don't think that constitutes Homeland Security triggers," said Dr. Thomas.

The Thomas family can still fly, but the check-in process will likely take much longer. They plan on making another appeal to U.S. Homeland Security.

In a saner day and age, the people of this country wouldn't tolerate this kind of crap. And we would have beaten those most responsible for this bureaucratic BS to within an inch of their lives.

Perhaps someday the pendulum will begin to swing away from our national apathy about bigger government, and this sort of nonsense will be put to death at long last. Until then, little Alyssa Thomas will be made to endure more of this insanity whenever her family chooses to fly.

My opinion? Don't fly at all unless it's absolutely necessary.

An update on that new film project we're working on!

The muse of cinematography must have an ear inclined toward KWerky Productions lately because on Friday night I casually put the word out to my Facebook friends, asking if anyone had a samurai sword that could be borrowed.

As of yesterday evening I now have two such swords! Either in my actual possession or waiting to be used when time to film this bad boy comes (which Lord willing will be next month).

There is one major-ish piece of prop to secure. That will hopefully happen in the next few days, as we begin work on the costume for the main character this week.

Meanwhile, more people have joined the cast! Including one friend who's a Baptist minister and, well let's just say in a roundabout way he came up with the name of his character on his own... and I'd love to be able to pull off what he has done someday :-)

More soon. And hey, who knows: perhaps we'll even be able to come up with a teaser poster next time ;-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

COCINO cult "tent meeting" a bust! Head magus Johnny Robertson preaches to the choir invisible (literally) as serial killer look-alike from Texas fails to bring in the crowds

It is by faith alone that we please God. It's just the conceited bastitches among mankind who keep insisting that we must please them with our works.

(Can't think of a better way to preface this post than with that thought from earlier this week.)

Yes folks, it's time to once again chronicle for posterity - in addition to laughing at - what is called on this blog and others the "Church Of Christ In Name Only" (COCINO) and the minions of Johnny Robertson.

A few nights ago numerous e-mails came in saying that I should check out what local cult leader Johnny Robertson - prime evil of the self-professed "Church of Christ" wacko fringe group - had brought in: some guy from the cult's breeding ground in Texas, not just for the group's annual "tent meeting" in this area but also, apparently, for the express purpose of "taking on Chris Knight" since this individual kept referencing me during his live appearances on WGSR.

(With so many of the cult's leadership in this area, I will ask them since they are obviously reading this blog: why are you guys giving all that money from the Lord's treasury to a habitual convicted felon, atheist, purveyor of immoral entertainment and BISEXUAL DEVIANT/PERVERT? If scripture commands us to have an answer ready for every question as it does in Colossians 4:6 and 1st Peter 3:15 then it's high time that this question be answered. Y'all accuse others of lesser things than this but when it's known that you are actively dealing with such a person on your own, you never seem to be able to 'splain that one to us. Reeks of hypocrisy if ya ask me...)

Anyhoo, I checked out what the hub-bub was about and found that Robertson had brought into town someone named Shawn Paden.

The first thought that entered my mind when I saw Robertson's fellow cultist was "this guy looks like John Wayne Gacy without the clown makeup!"


Serial killer John Wayne Gacy, executed in 1994 for the murder of more than 30 young men. Gacy was known throughout his Chicago neighborhood for his block parties and dressing up as "Pogo the Clown".

I don't have a photo of Shawn Paden himself at the moment, but just imagine "Pogo the Clown" without the makeup, focus on his heartless soulless eyes, and that is a pretty good image of Shawn Paden.

Anyhoo, Johnny Robertson brought Pogo Paden into town at presumably great expense. Once he got here Pogo Paden did nothing with his television airtime other than declare that people without water baptism were damned to Hell and that salvation is mostly a thing about works. Pogo Paden reiterated Robertson's "thousand dollar challenge" (which has long been answered but Robertson refuses to ante-up) to the belief that we are saved by faith.

Even while working on my new film last night, I was able to tick off the scriptural answers to Pogo Paden: Luke 5:20, Luke 18:10-14, John 3:16, John 6:28-29, John 5:24, John 6:40, John 6:47, Acts 10:43, Acts 16:31, Romans 3:28 (which reads "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith WITHOUT the deeds of the law."), Romans 4:5 (which reads "But to him THAT WORKETH NOT, but BELIEVETH on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith IS COUNTED for righteousness."), Romans 5:1 (which reads "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."), Galatians 2:16 (which reads "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."), Galatians 2:21, all of Galatians chapter 3, Ephesians 2:8-10 (which reads "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."), and numerous others which no doubt will also be ignored by Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield, Mark McMinnis, Micah Robertson and Shawn Paden as they routinely do anyway.

(Do these people ever preach Christ and Him crucified? I've never heard them do it, not even once.)

But let's get to the really interesting thing, folks! Seems that earlier this week Johnny Robertson ran afoul of the City of Danville because - gasp! - Robertson and his cult failed to get the proper permits for their tent meeting. I didn't see it myself but I had to chuckle at all the reports of Robertson and his goons going on WGSR and blaming "the Baptist Mafia" at work in Danville for trying to foil his plans. Yup, "Baptist Mafia", that's what Robertson apparently said.

Well, Robertson did get his papers in order and the "tent meeting" began. Complete with associates of the cult from Texas including Shawn "Pogo" Paden. But how successful has it been?

Here are some screen captures from a videotape that somebody provided of a broadcast of the tent meeting on WGSR a few days ago. Johnny Robertson droned on and on for an hour, again claiming that without water baptism (and "proper" water baptism at that, meaning that all Baptists are going to Hell anyway) that one is damned without any possibility of salvation.

Here's Johnny Robertson of the Martinsville Church of Christ (which has nothing to do with the mainstream Churches of Christ that most people know and respect and admire) finally shutting up from his "inspirational" preaching. In the footage I thought I could make out Mark McMinnis and one other individual, and one person obviously running the camera...

And no doubt Robertson has been preaching his message to an enthralled, enraptured audience. Right? Right?!

A thoughtless panning of the camera to the right reveals the truth of the matter...

NOBODY HAS COME TO THE TENT MEETING! Johnny Robertson has spent an hour, possibly more, PREACHING TO EMPTY CHAIRS! Apart from his own followers (who are obligated to be in attendance because Robertson calls them out by name during "services" on Sunday morning at Martinsville Church of Christ if they haven't been "faithful" enough) no one from the general public has come to hear Johnny Robertson speak, at least at this particular "tent meeting".

I've seen tent revivals before, put on by churches and visiting evangelists. Not the "charlatan" types either that unfortunately do admittedly roam the land, but some obviously sincere folks. Those events always seemed to pack their respective tents. But here, at Johnny Robertson's "Church of Christ"? Not so much. Crazily enough, Johnny Robertson does sweep his gaze look up and down and across the empty chairs as if they had actual people sitting in them.

I am told by some who have eyewitnessed the tent meeting that there have been apparently less than a dozen people amassed beneath it at any given time during the past several nights.

Maybe that's why Robertson was so hot to locate his tent meeting next to a car dealership: because on camera it would look as though throngs of people beat a path to his sham. Trickery, trickery, trickery.

I guess the word really is out: nobody wants to associate with a cult that regularly harasses and intimidates people in their own homes and during the sanctity of their worship services, a cult that has already been found guilty in court once this year for criminal trespass, and a cult leader who has thus far accused at least two churches of child pornography without any evidence, among many other acts of irresponsible and unethical behavior.

Maybe Johnny Robertson just needs to bring more of his comic book collection to entice people to come visit "the tent".

Ukrainian folk version of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell"

Just for the heck of it...

"Highway to Hell" performed with tambourine and accordion. Again I declare: truly we are living in the age of wonders!

Seriously though: what a fun cover! And these guys are obviously enjoying their work. Gotta smile about the whole thing :-)

Police taser 86-year old bedridden grandmother

What. The. Hell. ?!?

I'd be really cautious about visiting El Reno, Oklahoma from now on. Sounds like the police department there are like too very many in this country: over-equipped with expensive gimmicks and over-eager to use them. In this case the lack of self-discipline almost cost the life of an 86-year old bedridden woman.

Here's the story from LewRockwell.com...

Lonnie Tinsley of El Reno, Oklahoma made a nearly fatal mistake last December 22 when he went to check on his grandma, Lona Vernon.

Concerned that Lona hadn’t taken her medications, Lonnie called 911 in the expectation that an emergency medical technician would be dispatched to the apartment to evaluate the bedridden 86-year-old woman.

Instead, that call for help was answered by nearly a dozen armed tax-feeders employed by the El Reno Police Department.

Understandably alarmed — and probably more than a little disgusted — by the presence of uninvited armed strangers in her home, Lona ordered them to leave. This directive, issued by a fragile female octogenarian confined to a hospital-style bed and tethered to an oxygen tank, was interpreted as “aggressive” behavior by Officer Thomas Duran, who ordered one of his associates : “Taser her!”

“Don’t taze my granny!” exclaimed Tinsley. According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Tinsley’s “obstructive” behavior prompted the police to threaten him with their tasers. He was then was assaulted, removed from the room, thrown to the floor, handcuffed, and detained in a police car. At this point, the heroes in blue turned their attention to Lona.

The tactical situation was daunting; at this point, the police had only a 10-1 advantage over a subject who — according to Duran’s official report — had taken an “aggressive posture” in her hospital bed. The sacred imperative of “officer safety” dictated that the subject be thoroughly softened up in order to minimize resistance.

Accordingly, one of the officers approached Lona and “stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation,” narrates the complaint, based on Lona’s account. One of the officers then shot her with a taser, but the connection wasn’t solid. A second fired his taser, “striking her to the left of the midline of her upper chest, and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain,” and unconsciousness. Lona was then handcuffed with sufficient ruthlessness to tear the soft flesh of her forearms, causing her to bleed.

After her wounds were treated at a local hospital, Lona was confined for six days in the psychiatric ward at the insistence of her deranged assailants from the El Reno Police Department.

It has long been established that the worst thing to do in an emergency is to call the police. In this case, Lonnie Tinsley didn’t call the police, yet they barged in anyway and quite nearly “helped” his grandma to death.

Like Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff character said in No Country for Old Men: You can't make up a story like this and I'd dare ya to even try.

I'll wager good money that all the police "officers" involved in this situation will get a citation for bravery. Along with a raise in salary. That seems to be the standard procedure for "law enforcement officers" who abuse their power: they not only get away with it, they get rewarded for it.

Anything else that I would like to say about the cops involved, is being barely constrained by the angels of my better nature. But here's hoping Lona Vernon and her family sue the hell out of the city of El Reno, Oklahoma.

Meet Oscar: The world's first bionic cat

Oscar the cat lost most of his back legs in a harvester accident this past fall. But thanks to some British researchers Oscar is now enjoying a fully functional life complete with two fore paws and two faux paws!

Popular Science has more about Oscar: the world's first bionically-enabled feline. It's thought that the technology will soon be applicable to human patients.

And here's some video of Oscar strutting his stuff!

He just needs some adamantium claws in his front paws and he'll be all set :-P

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Theological thought for a Thursday

It is impossible to praise God when we boast of ourselves... and even more impossible to praise God when we boast against others.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hey, don't I have a blog, or something...?

Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of The King and I came to a successful conclusion this past Sunday afternoon. We played three shows to a nearly sold-out house each time!

And as much as 'twould be nice to have some respite after the past several weeks of work that went into that, there's always something new afoot for The Knight Shift's eclectic proprietor.

Been busy the past few days with... work, on... stuff. Along with... new ummm, "equipment" that will soon be employed toward, errr... "projects". Got to do some field testing with it this week and so far I'm more than a little pleased with the investment :-)

Might be worth noting here that my blogging may be sparse during the next few weeks as I and others are engaged in numerous endeavors. When I am here though, I'll do my best to make it worth your precious time. And to make up for the last few days' absence I'll share this with you: a video from Japan, advertising something that I haven't a clue what it is...

Whatever they're selling, I'd buy it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Final show of TGRC's production of THE KING AND I is today!

Last night was the second performance of The King and I and by all accounts it was the best yet of the series! And I'm happy to report that there were no costume mishaps this time. Not even my ninja pants for the ballet scene, which I went in extra early to work on. If they can stay that way for today's show, I will leave this production a happy actor :-)

Final performance is this afternoon at 2:30, at Rockingham County High School. What better way to celebrate Father's Day than with a performance of The King and I? So bring dear ol' Dad along too! Click here for more information.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

THE KING AND I: After-action report from Opening Night!

In spite of the technical gaffes, strange occurrences and - dare we say it? - "wardrobe malfunctions" that manifested both off stage and on it, the first night of Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of The King and I was a smashing success that wowed a nearly sold-out house!

(By the way, if you were at last night's show, I was not supposed to have banged my forehead that hard into the stage when I came running on in Act II, Scene 1. But if the real-life Phra Alack had to demonstrate such fealty on a routine basis then it was probably something he had to regularly endure... and hey the audience thought it was funny :-)

Second performance is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockingham County High School in Wentworth, North Carolina. Third and final show is tomorrow afternoon, same place at 2:30 p.m. Mash here for more information and hope to see y'all there!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This would be the most annoying video game ever

Had enough of listening to those vuvuzelas during the World Cup broadcasts?

If not, get ready for...

No, I didn't make this. Whoever did, deserves major props for such a great piece of work :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO is 50 years old today

Fifty years ago today, on June 16th 1960, Alfred Hitchcock's movie Psycho - considered to be one of the greatest and most groundbreaking horror films of all time - was released...

This was on TCM not long ago and I watched it again. Five full decades later and it still holds its own against anything that has come since.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, feel free to indulge yourself in an extra-long shower tonight.

THE KING AND I: What do I look like in full makeup?

Last night was our first rehearsal in full costume and makeup for The King and I! The night before was the first time we had the costumes on and thankfully yesterday's practice was bereft (mostly) of most of the "wardrobe malfunctions" that bedeviled Monday's run-through. Mostly though this was to give us a feel for the makeup that we'll be wearing. For those of us playing Siamese characters this means full-body spray-on paint and then about 20-30 minutes in the makeup chair.

So... what does your friend and humble narrator look like as Phra Alack, the King's secretary?

I'd love to be able to show this to y'all unfettered. However due to recent concerns regarding the lack of ethics at a certain local broadcaster, my legal counsel has advised me against posting unedited images from the show on this blog.

But I think this will give you an idea of what to expect...

Nice work on the eyes, aye? :-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

England/USA World Cup match replicated in LEGO

If there's fun to be had with the World Cup and plastic toys (not those 127 decibels, unholy loud vuvuzelas) then there's no better way than to replay the match between England and the United States with LEGO!

Thanks to Paul Steinbrueck for such a delightful (and clever) find!

Inertial mass could be separate from gravitational mass

The wacky world of quantum mechanics has claimed another victim from the world of common sense. Specifically the equivalence principle long understood to mean that gravitational mass and inertial mass are identical. Einstein was the first to publish about it, building on work already established by Galileo and Newton.

New kids on the block Endre Kajari and his crew at the University of Ulm in Germany have now arrived to bust that all up. They have shown that in the realm of quantum physics, there can be wild variations between gravitational mass and inertial mass.

From the article at MIT's Technology Review...

Their thinking begins by pointing out the important distinction between kinematics, which is concerned purely with motion not how it arises, and dynamics which focuses on the origin of motion. In the classical world, this has no bearing on the effects of inertial and gravitational mass.

However, in the quantum world, the way states are prepared has huge significance. They point out, for example, that the wave function of a particle in a box does not depend on mass at all whereas the energy wave function of a harmonic oscillator depends on the square root of the mass.

That leads to an interesting idea: that it is possible to create combinations of gravitational and electromagnetic boxes and oscillators in which inertial and gravitational mass play different roles.

It turns out that physicists already play with exactly this kind of set up: the so-called atom trampoline, in which a matter wave falls under the influence of gravity but is bounced by an electromagnetic force. They calculate that the energy eigenvalues of the atom are proportional to the (gravitational mass)^2/3 but to the (inertial mass)^-1/3.

That's an amazing result. The kind of energy spectroscopy of atoms or Bose Einstein Condensates that can spot this difference ought to be achievable, if not now, then very soon within the next few years.

If successful, these kinds of investigations will provide an entirely new way of studying the nature of mass and, perhaps more importantly, of investigating the puzzling relationship between general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Dare we say "intertial drives" or at least "inertial dampeners"? Hyperspace, here we come! :-P

Seriously though: this is very, very cool stuff and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

One of the reasons why I'm waiting to buy into 3D television

At E3 today Nintendo head honcho Satoru Iwata unveiled the Nintendo 3DS. This is the latest iteration of its acclaimed DS hardware... and it does games in 3D.

But here's the kicker folks: the Nintendo 3DS pulls off three-dimensional gaming without those funky glasses!

And this highlights the biggest reason why I'm not about to buy into the 3D television "revolution" going on right now (incidentally ESPN's new 3D channel is showing up in the updated listings but it's not only not airing yet, my receiver box is snidely informing me that I need a 3D capable set in order to pick it up at all). This is such a rapidly evolving technology, it makes the least amount of sense to be an early adopter than I've seen with burgeoning new gear ever. Especially given that the glasses needed to enjoy 3D television sets are priced around $150 each.

The cost of the glasses aside, television is much more a casual experience than watching a film in a theater. People don't usually do things like eat dinner and fold laundry while at the local cinema, but they do those things all the time while a TV is going on. Who wants to keep putting the glasses on and taking them off while watching 3D television? And are there going to be enough glasses to go around when friends and family come over for a visit? Do guests get asked to bring their own glasses over for a Super Bowl party?

People by and large won't want to be hassled with things like that. And that's why 3D television isn't going to seriously take off until there is 3D screen technology that doesn't rely on wearing the glasses.

And that, Nintendo and a few other companies are on the cusp of bringing to market. Given the early raves about the 3DS coming out of E3 in Los Angeles, this could be a big factor in encouraging demand for spectacle-less 3D. Hey, Nintendo broke new ground with the Wii, and now Microsoft is rolling out the very promising Kinect for its Xbox 360 console (with Sony to follow suit on its PlayStation 3).

Good money sez that if you ain't plunked coin down for a 3D set yet, you might wanna wait a bit. There promises to be even better stuff in the pipeline and headed to store shelves sooner than later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Musing for a Monday...

Why is it that we find no end of forgiveness from God but can barely find any beginning of forgiveness from His followers?

Witness the fiery re-entry of the HAYABUSA probe over Australia

Remember when the Mir space station came crashing and burning out of the sky nine years ago? I was watching that on TV and among friends we jokingly quoted Kirk's line from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: "My God Bones. What have I done?"

Well, this ain't the flaming destruction of a space vessel for once. This is the atmospheric re-entry of the HAYABUSA Asteroid Explorer mission, videoed from a NASA DC-8 over Australia. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched HAYABUSA in 2003. A few years later it landed on the asteroid Itokawa. Then HAYABUSA scooped up some samples and made the five-year journey back to Earth, using a high-tech ion engine to return its precious cargo.

The capsule containing the asteroid samples has been located at its calculated arrival point in western Australia (gotta love mathematics aye?). And soon the asteroid rocks and dust will be in laboratories undergoing analysis.

That is about as successful a space mission as I have ever heard of in any recent memory. Congrats to JAXA and the HAYABUSA crew on a job well done!

Introducing the solar-powered lightbulb

I wanna say "Looks good on paper, buuuuuut..."

Nokero, a company in Hong Kong, has developed a solar-powered lightbulb with an eye toward markets in developing countries. The N100 solar LED lightbulb "is about the size of a standard incandescent bulb and has four small solar panels in its rainproof plastic housing. Five LEDs and a replaceable NiMH battery inside provide up to four hours of light when the device is fully charged. People hang it outside during the day and then turn it on at night." According to the company, using the lightbulb around the equator will give it a better charge than those in more northern or southerly latitudes. The LEDs are said to last 50,000 to 100,000 hours while the solar panels are good for 10 years.

One bulb is $15. But for $480 you get 48 bulbs.

A solar-powered lightbulb. Truly we live in the age of wonders! :-P

New trailer for STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC

Star Wars: The Old Republic is looking so good that I have quietly but seriously wondered if this is going to be a real video game at all. What if it's just a front for a "covert operation" by George Lucas to sow the ground on a fertile part of the Star Wars mythology that hasn't been done yet? So far we've seen Star Wars: The Old Republic trailers, online comics, extensive bios and background material, at least two hardcover novels to be released later this year...

What if Star Wars: The Old Republic is like what Shadows of the Empire was in 1996: everything that comes with marketing a video game, without an actual game?

(Look, Star Wars conspiracy theories are few and far between. Indulge me a bit willya? :-)

But while we're waiting for the game itself to materialize on store shelves, BioWare and LucasArts have just released a new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer at E3 2010. Check it out!

Dang. That looks as good as anything we've seen in a live-action Star Wars flick. Maybe even better. Dare we hope for a CGI-rendered Episodes VII-IX someday?

If Lucas writes it and gives it to BioWare to animate, I'd buy a ticket for that (something I didn't even do for the Star Wars: Clone Wars theatrical release).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

THE KING AND I: 5 days until opening night (I've got a new role!)

We spent seven hours almost nonstop (braking only for a dinner break) on the technical rehearsal for The King and I this afternoon and evening! Considering that we had been told this could have gone into 10 p.m. and beyond, it went better than expected. This was sort of a "rough cut" of the full performance: with the exception of costumes and makeup, we go through everything in the show with all the props and set pieces etc. It's mostly to get the lighting and sound all right, but also to make fine adjustments on actors' blocking and such. So we scheduled for plenty of time today to get it all straightened out.

One thing that was a new experience for me is that today was the first time in four shows that I was fitted for a wireless microphone. Feels like I'm in the real big leagues now!

And I've wound up with one additional role - albeit one that will go uncredited - for this performance. What is it? Hmmm... don't wanna say here, but for those of you who know me fairly well and who might remember how long it took for me to learn how to whistle, you might appreciate this especially :-P

Five more days 'til the curtain opens for the first time. Tomorrow night: our first dress rehearsal! And having seen what some of the actors look like in makeup already, I am becoming increasingly curious about what I'll look like as a man of Siam :-)

The King and I plays this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Rockingham County High School. Click here to visit Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's website for more information.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The World Cup starts today!

The World Cup kicked off today in South Africa. Let's hear it for soccer!

I have nothing else to say. The only reason I made this post is because if made one about "World Cup" and included the words "soccer" and "sports" and "South Africa" and probably also "Uruguay" and "Argentina" and "Spain" and "Belgium" (can't forget our good friends in Belgium... yeah hey to you too Benny) then The Knight Shift blog is no doubt going to get slammed with a wazoo of hits during the next 72 hours or so :-P

Seriously though: good luck to everyone!

(And lest y'all think I'm completely clueless about the World Cup, I'll have y'all know that I not only watched the Three Tenors in Concert live during the World Cup in 1994, but I'm also a proud owner of the CD too!)

THE KING AND I: 7 days until opening night

Exactly seven days from now, Yours Truly and dozens of others will be going through a five-step makeup process to make us look Asian. An hour and a half later the curtain opens on Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of The King and I.

Between now and then lies "Tech Week": where all the wires and cables and lights and plugs and whatnot get set about and we run through this show full-strength a few times, on the lookout for "wardrobe malfunctions" and any other problems that might present themselves in the run-up to Opening Night.

Here's some of the set that the crew has put together...

Looks like something out of a Persian bordello, aye? That's the King's dais (which if you come to the show, you will see me perched on in Act I, Scene 2 :-)

Costume fittings were this morning. I got to try on my attire for the role of Phra Alack. I'm gonna look like either a Scottish Liberace, or the glitziest royal court eunuch ever. The getup that I'll be wearing for the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet scene was still... ummm... being worked upon. All I really know for sure is that I'll look like a ninja. Make of that what you will.

Everyone is totally jazzed about this show! Lots of good people have been working for the past two months and more to make this happen and it's really been something to see it all come together during the past couple of weeks. We know it's gonna be awesome and we hope that you'll be able to come and enjoy the show! Click here to visit the Theatre Guild website for more information.

MONSTERPOCALYPSE to reteam Tim Burton with John August?

That's the word from no less an authority than DreamWorks Studios' website. We heard a few weeks ago that a big-screen feature based on the board game Monsterpocalypse was in very early production. That John August might be getting attached already (he previously wrote the screenplays for Burton's films Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride) suggests considerably more movement afoot than we might have previously thought.

In the meantime however, those clever and industrious folks at Team Covenant have put together this jaw-dropping fan-made trailer for a Monsterpocalypse movie. It premiered at MonCon 2010 in Tulsa a few weeks ago and it totally captures and conveys the atmosphere of Monsterpocalypse!

Well done, Team Covenant! And dear reader: if you'd like to share this with others (you know you wanna) please point 'em to MonsterpocalypsetheMovie.com (easy to remember aye? :-)

Psychologists determine Darth Vader suffered from mental illness

Anakin Skywalker, also known as the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader, has a "borderline personality" described as "a prolonged disturbance of personality function in a person (generally over the age of eighteen years, although it is also found in adolescents), characterized by depth and variability of moods." So sayeth a group of French psychologists who studied the Star Wars villain and found that he suffered from severe mental illness.

According to the study which will soon be published in the journal Psychiatry Research, Darth Vader was examined per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSMV IV). Of the nine borderline personality disorder criteria, Anakin/Vader fulfilled six of them. Five are required by the DSMV IV to be diagnosed as suffering from the disorder.

From the article...

For instance, the future Darth Vader showed both impulsivity and anger management issues as an overexcited, lovelorn Jedi. He went back and forth between idealizing and devaluing Jedi mentors, such as a humorless young Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Abandonment issues also surfaced. Skywalker had a permanent fear of losing his wife, Padme Amidala, and he went so far as to betray his Jedi mentors and companions to try to prevent her death.

Two displays of dissociative episodes took place when Skywalker tried to distance himself from stressful events. The first episode took place after he slaughtered a local tribe of Tuskens responsible for his mother's death. A second episode occurred following his murderous rampage among young Jedi trainees, as he voiced paranoid thoughts about Obi-Wan Kenobi and his wife.

Lastly, any "Star Wars" fan would recognize Skywalker's identity issues and uncertainty about who he was. His fateful turn to the dark side and change of name to Darth Vader could represent the ultimate sign of such identity disturbance, the researchers said.

So Darth Vader has issues. Geez... ya think?!? I thought that was pretty obvious, personally.

It's prolly just a matter of time before some enterprising psychology student hits the federal government up for a $100,000 grant to go to Gotham City and study the criminal insanity of the Joker :-P

5 real diseases that could turn you into a zombie

But none of them will turn you into THAT kind of a zombie, thankfully! And the image on the right is the first pic to come from The Walking Dead, an upcoming horror series on AMC helmed by director Frank Darabont (he made The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile so he probably knows what he's doing...)

But anyhoo, io9.com has put together a list of five real-life maladies that could make you something like an undead horror. You'll have a whole new appreciation for rabies shots after you read this, along with knowing more about leprosy and necrosis than you probably ever wanted to have floating around your gray matter.

Exoplanet observed orbiting star for first time

Apologies for the absence, dear readers. Of which no less than three of you have insisted today that I must return 'cuz apparently this blog has become a daily fixture in the lives of some! I shall endeavor to do better but what can I say? I'm a busy lad, with many irons in the fire. And Lord willing I'll get to begin sharing some of those sooner than later.

But first: yay for Beta Pictoris! For at least the past two and a half decades this has been a candidate star for having a planetary system. And now thanks to the European Southern Observatory's honkin'-big 8.2 meter Very Large Telescope, we've got the first observation of an extra-solar planet orbiting a star (namely, Beta Pictoris).

Click to enjoy an extra-huge aperture of astronomical goodness!

Click on the above link for better explanation about how neat this is. And thanks to Shane Thacker for finding this story.

Monday, June 07, 2010

THE GOONIES is 25 years old today!

I'm thankful that websites like GeekTyrant are around to make note of good stuff that I've otherwise been too busy to keep track of.

Namely, that today - June 7th, 2010 - marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of The Goonies!

I have long thought of The Goonies as the definitive Eighties movie. That it's just as enjoyable (maybe more even) a quarter century later, is witness to that. The Goonies was the kind of film that made you really believe that there might be an old treasure map hidden away in the attic of your house, just waiting for you and your friends to go off looking for pirate booty.

So Happy Birthday to The Goonies! And maybe someday we'll finally get that sequel that Richard Donner keeps mentioning every so often :-P

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The case for universal data plans

In what some are calling a devious case of "bait 'n switch", AT&T announced this past week that it was getting rid of unlimited data plans and moving to "metered" plans... and just after Apple moved a buttload of those nice shiny new 3G iPads too!

So if you too are at wits end on communication rates, you are in good company with Molly Wood, who contributes a persuasive essay on CNET News demanding that universal data plans make more sense...

And although some elements of the new data plans will work for some customers, AT&T is moving in the opposite direction it should be going. I'm tired of multiple data plans, artificial caps, and arbitrary monthly usage charges. And I'm tired of paying the same companies multiple times for what is, essentially, the exact same service. That service? Data.

Between multiple cell phones, high-speed Internet connections, and even digital TV subscriptions, most households are now paying for data delivery at least three times over, and frequently paying the same provider twice. This is ridiculous, and it's time for some major consolidation. It's time for a universal data plan. I want to pay once (maybe twice) for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose.

Mash the above link for plenty more soundness and sanity about how we should fork over coin for precious data. I'll second the good lady's notion. What sayeth y'all?

John Wooden, greatest basketball coach ever, has passed away

John Wooden coached UCLA to ten national championships. But since his passing last night he's being remembered by most as a teacher, a friend, and a gentleman...

Wooden was also quite a wise figure. ESPN has collected many of his quotes, including this one that I found especially noteworthy...

"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

John Wooden was just shy of reaching his one hundredth birthday. An amazing long and wonderful life, he had.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Bargain basement Batmobile

This 1994 Pontiac Grand Am was purchased for $100 from a towing company in Michigan last summer. Its owner (one "Gabe") then set out to convert it into a Batmobile.

According to the story at GeekTyrant "After a few necessary repairs, work proceeded: Gabe sawed off the crushed roof and built a custom frame for the new roof and windows. Inspired by the Batmanesque charm of his creation, Gabe then rigged up and riveted on fins, reworked the nose, and spray-painted the car matte black. The car even features high-tech theft-prevention gadgets the likes of which even Wayne Industries couldn't develop. When thieves tried to steal the car last year, the steering wheel broke off. In the process of trying to hotwire the car, they also fixed the brake lights."

Click on the link above for more photos of the "Batmobile", which is now listed for sale on Craigslist. Price for this crimefighting car: $600.

And in related news, Batman himself was arrested in Los Angeles on a loitering charge. I guess hard times have hit everyone... including costumed vigilantes.

THE KING AND I: 15 days until opening night

Another rehearsal this evening. This one focused on the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" scene early in Act II. I keep thinking that the Uncle Thomas mask looks exactly like Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons and the mask for Simon of Legree resembles Gollum from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies.

"Wiggum and Gollum". Sounds like a law firm, aye?

I have to say, it's so weird doing this show at Rockingham County Senior High where I was once a student. We're using the J. Allan Lewis Auditorium (named after my late friend Allan "Doc" Lewis), on the same stage where I used to have drama class with Gene Saunders. Everything backstage even still looks exactly the same as it did all those years ago. It's almost enough to make me feel like a high school kid again :-)

The rehearsals will start to ramp up bigtime come Saturday. That's also when we'll be having our costume fittings and go through the makeup procedure for the first time. And speaking of that, I'm having a very hard time envisioning myself with Oriental features! Guess we'll find out what Chris Knight looks like as a man of Siam this weekend.

The King and I opens on June 18th. Visit the website for Theatre Guild of Rockingham County for more information. Hope to see y'all there!

The Knight Shift is standing up for The Sideshow Coalition

About three years ago, this blog's eclectic proprietor had to learn awful fast and hard about Viacom and its dispute with YouTube. If you recall, if you worked it out in your head then logically Viacom was accusing me of violating my own copyright after Viacom took my work without permission and used it for a show on VH1, and then accused ME of copyright infringement for posting the clip of that onto YouTube.

Well, I won that case as best I can imagine an individual could take on such a huge corporation and eke out a victory (again, thanks in no small measure to the good people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation). And I've been keeping an eye on Viacom ever since. One of the things that has galled me most is how Viacom and its mega-hypocrite of a CEO Sumner Redstone have shown such disdain toward independent content producers such as myself. And recently Viacom referred to people such as myself as a "sideshow": intimating that the original content we're coming up with isn't as "legitimate" as the bigtime corporate-produced material that's allegedly being uploaded to YouTube in violation of copyright.

I'll use the terminology that I used then: this is "bass-ackwards".

Well, an artist named Alan Lastufka has disclosed that he's been assisting YouTube in its defense against Viacom. Lastufka and several others have come together in what they are proudly calling "The Sideshow Coalition". I'll let Lastufka explain things in his own words...

We recently all wrote brief statements for the court to read on how we’ve used YouTube to not only reach an audience with our original work, but how we’ve made YouTube a home, a business, or a place for friends and family.

My piece focused on DFTBA Records, and how this little company Hank and I started, run out of my garage, promoted only on YouTube, is now supporting numerous musicians full-time, myself full-time, and making tens of thousands of listeners from every country in the world, happy.

And none of that would be possible were it not for YouTube.

If Viacom wins this lawsuit, YouTube may be forced to manually approve every video uploaded to the website, making it impossible but for a select few to post videos on the site. No longer would YouTube be a place for everyone, it would be a place for Partners who are legally bound not to upload copyrighted content. This is obviously not what YouTube, or any registered YouTube user, wants.

Our testimonials and personal stories will hopefully help the court decide in YouTube’s favor. Viacom doesn’t understand YouTube, or the community. And Viacom wants every registered user to have to pay for the actions of a very small portion of dishonest users...

You can help by bringing this case to the attention of others. You can simply tweet a link to this journal entry, or you can read the brief and write your own thoughts on your blogs.

If YouTube loses this case, we will all lose.

Here's the link to the amicus brief that the Sideshow Coalition has filed in support of YouTube. What I especially appreciate about this is that Alan Lastufka and his colleagues are rigorously defending productivity and originality, whereas if Viacom has its way this kind of home-grown industry will be greatly diminished if not outright quashed.

Needless to say, I am throwing whatever support and goodwill that I can muster behind the Sideshow Coalition. And I will gladly encourage everyone else reading this to do likewise.

(Thanks to Jenna St. Hilaire for passing along the info!)

It's a printer made out of LEGO bricks!

And before anyone asks, this is not using LEGO's Mindstorm programming environment. Which if you ask me, makes it even more impressive...

The bad news is that the felt-tip markers cost $45 to replace (just kidding :-)

Seriously though: that is hella awesome!

First art from Frank Miller's XERXES (it's a prequel to 300)

Frank Miller is one of the most frustrating comic book artists that one can watch the career of. There's his classic stuff like The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City. And then there's his work like All-star Batman and Robin (particularly issue #2, you know what I'm talking about if you've read it). So when I heard that he was going to do a prequel/follow-up to 300 what most crossed my mind was "Oh Lord, he's going to attempt another The Dark Knight Strikes Again..."

Well, here's our first look at Xerxes from, well, Xerxes...

Here's the official title description from Dark Horse Comics:

Xerxes rose to power in fifth-century-BC Persia and became known as 'The King of Kings,' eventually raising and leading a massive army intent on ruthlessly destroying the hated Greeks who killed his father. Xerxes seeks nothing less than to become a god himself -- and achieves his wish!
Hey, if this means more of that freakish Persian army that we saw in 300, I'm totally stoked for this dudes!!

Sony's new OLED color display: thinner than a strand of hair

This might be what finally saves the newspaper industry, once the technology becomes feasible and widespread. It'll be just like those moving pictures in the Harry Potter novels and movies!

Sony has refined organic light emitting diode (OLED) manufacturing to the point where a color display can be built that's 80μm thick... which is just shy of the thickness of average human hair.

I guess this also means that Steve Jobs will eventually be making the iPhone and iPad even thinner than they are now :-P

Gizmodo has more about this seriously cool new technology, including video of the OLED display in action.

And now, Rue McClanahan is gone too

Professional obligations have kept me from blogging as much as I'd like. I was hoping the next entry wouldn't be another obit.

Unfortunately that doesn't get to happen...

Word broke earlier today that Rue McClanahan, who'd already enjoyed a colorful acting career before becoming forever known for playing the sex-obsessed Blanche on The Golden Girls, has passed away at age 76 following a massive stroke.

Thoughts and prayers going out to her family.