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Saturday, June 25, 2005

A wry observation about recent events on this blog

There's been two main stories that I've posted about on this blog in the past few days.

One was about a Supreme Court ruling. The other was a more personal subject.

One was an affirmation that the United States now has the same driving philosophy behind it that once guided German Nazism and Italian Fascism. The other was a simple statement about a subject in my life that several people had inquired about already: after someone else had done a few things in order to attach a stigma to my being, I felt led to respond.

One of these subjects deals with the destruction of the foundation of every liberty that America is supposed to stand for: without recognizing the right to do what you wish with your own property, there can be no rights, period. The other subject is infinitesimally smaller in comparison.

One subject involves the future of hundreds of millions of Americans... and indeed, the very fate of our nation. The other involves, probably at most, a few dozen individuals.

Take a guess at which one has been making my blog's counter spin like mad during the past 48 hours.

If only some of these people could get this honked-off at the things that do matter.

Or is that too difficult for them? Do they really feel that helpless and weak to take on things that SERIOUSLY jeopardize their lives?

Are they so damned selfish that they don't CARE what kind of world it is that they are leaving their children?

If you are among these people, I really feel sorry for you. Because you are the real "loser" in all of this.

If ever worse comes to worst, some of us, at least, will have the comfort of knowing that - in whatever way we had - we did try to stop "the showers" from turning on.

Kyle Williams impersonates Paul McCartney while writing good piece on property ruling

Philosophical/theological wunderkind Kyle Williams this week is brilliant as usual with a great essay on Thursday's ruling by the Supreme Court allowing cities to seize personal property for commercial development. Here's an excerpt from the WorldNetDaily website:
The lines have become blurred in the Court as the idol for city governments has become economic development and its purposes are deemed much more important than the right of citizens to simply own land without threat. The community – or at least the greedy interests of politicians – is now much more important than the individual, and any business or home that has found itself on the wrong end of favor by the powers that be is now under threat to be replaced by a beachfront hotel or resort.

The implications of this decision are simply staggering, because the essence of America was founded upon the right of the individual to own and keep private property. The Supreme Court of the United States has thrown all original intent to the wind and endorsed not a constitutional republic, but a lawless form of government reminiscent of fascism. Justice Stevens may as well have had a copy of Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto" on his desk while writing his opinion, because his redefinition of the term "public use" has superseded the rights of the private individual...

Personally I think this article is especially noteworthy because it features a new photo of Kyle and I'm torn between which does he look more like: George Harrison or Paul McCartney?

FORCERY - Quicktime Video Download Page

KWerky Productions



Chad Austin


Melody Hallman Daniel

starring in

Some said it couldn't be done. Others said it shouldn't have been done. But... we did it! A parody of Misery, the Rob Reiner film based on the Stephen King novel. Only in this version it's George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga, who crashes in a blizzard just after finishing the script for Episode III, then gets "rescued" by his "number-one fan". "Nice job!" is what "Weird Al" Yankovic told us after he watched it. Plenty of sly in-jokes and references for keen-eyed fans of both George Lucas and Stephen King to find. Actually there's a little something in this for everyone. And don't worry, we made this to be a good, clean movie that anyone in the family can enjoy. If you like comedy in the vein of "Weird Al" Yankovic and the Airplane! and Naked Gun movies, we think you might like this one too.

From this page you can download Forcery in Quicktime video format. Five sizes are available, including one specially encoded for the newer Apple iPod models with video capability.

To watch these you will need the latest version of Apple Quicktime installed on your computer.

If you would like to download any of these, right-click on the video's link and select "Save as" (or whatever the heck it is that you Mac folks do :-)

SUPER SIZE (467 MB, 480x270 resolution)

LARGE SIZE (358 MB, 448x252 resolution)

MEDIUM SIZE (193 MB, 384x216 resolution)

MICRO SIZE (97 MB, 256x144 resolution)

Apple iPod Edition (254 MB, 320x180)

You can also watch Forcery - serialized into seven installments - on YouTube. Here is Part 1:

And here are the links for all the chapters:
Forcery Part 1
Forcery Part 2
Forcery Part 3
Forcery Part 4
Forcery Part 5
Forcery Part 6
Forcery Part 7

Special thanks to Ourmedia for hosting the movie!

And VERY special thanks to Chad Austin, Melody Hallman Daniel, Ed Woody, Darla Gritton, David Choate, Nate Daniel, Mom and Dad Knight (especially Mom for catering), Marc Solomon, David Atlas, my sister Anita (who operated the clapboard for one scene), Kenneth and Laurie Wright and family, David and Carla Woody, David Wilson and Short Sugar's Drive-In, Lisa McBrayer, Deborah Wilson and Brian Hodges and Kyle Williams, Roland Shepley and Scott Baxley, and everyone else who helped in one way or another to make this dream (obsession?) become a reality :-)

Friday, June 24, 2005

That didn't take long: Texas city moves on businesses in wake of Supremes ruling

It's already started: Freeport, Texas is using yesterday's Supreme Court decision to wreck an established business and giving the land to a wealthier developer. From HoustonChronicle.com:

Freeport moves to seize 3 properties

Court's decision empowers the city to acquire the site for a new marina
Chronicle Correspondent

FREEPORT - With Thursday's Supreme Court decision, Freeport officials instructed attorneys to begin preparing legal documents to seize three pieces of waterfront property along the Old Brazos River from two seafood companies for construction of an $8 million private boat marina.

The court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that cities may bulldoze people's homes or businesses to make way for shopping malls or other private development. The decision gives local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.

"This is the last little piece of the puzzle to put the project together," Freeport Mayor Jim Phillips said of the project designed to inject new life in the Brazoria County city's depressed downtown area.

Over the years, Freeport's lack of commercial and retail businesses has meant many of its 13,500 residents travel to neighboring Lake Jackson, which started as a planned community in 1943, to spend money. But the city is hopeful the marina will spawn new economic growth.

"This will be the engine that will drive redevelopment in the city," City Manager Ron Bottoms said...

Ummmm... Mr. Bottoms: where did the Founding Fathers ever intend for it to be that economic development supersedes the right to personal property?

They didn't. But this was a central tenet of "national socialism" in Germany and Mussolini's fascism back in the day.

Time to move on

I've turned off comments for the time being. Regarding the post I made yesterday: what's done is done. I spent a long time praying and considering what was on my heart to share regarding some things and in the end, I had no choice but to follow it.

It's out there, now. The truth of some things, and some longstanding issues laid bare. Perhaps it is for the best: when you've been maneuvered into that place where you must burn the bridges behind you, there is nowhere else to go but forward.

And I'm back to where I was in the beginning: just a man, with a little love for a story that I only now want to share with my children someday.

That is all. That will be enough.

Just had some thoughts about today's Supreme Court decision...

What's to stop a group of citizens from petitioning that the local Wal-Mart be seized by force, and turned into two mom-and-pop stores and a coin-operated laundromat?

What if someone has ten million shares of some busted Internet startup. In reality he's broke but on paper he's a large corporation: what's keeping him from walking out of city hall with half the town's real estate in his pocket?

This may be, potentially, a worse Supreme Court decision than Roe v. Wade. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often argued that if it's legal for a mother to kill her unborn child, "then what is to prevent me from killing you or you from killing me? There is nothing in between." So what is there left, then, when it has been decided that there is nothing between your personal property and someone who wants to take it from you with government's blessing? There is nothing, not even a semblance of respect for individual rights, at all. Together with rulings stating that derivative products of your personal being can be patented, today's ruling makes us little more than serfs at best, resources to be exploited at worst.

Bad karma goin' come from this, to be sure.

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him..."

Amazing news from the medical front:
Bionic Man Moves Artificial Arm With Brain
Breakthrough Could Change Lives Of Amputees, Patients With Spinal Cord Injuries

CHICAGO -- Researchers have developed artificial arms that can be moved as it if they were real limbs, simply by thinking about making them move, according to Local 6 News.

The world's first bionic man, Jesse Sullivan, 54, accidentally touched live wires while working as a utility lineman in Tennessee. He suffered severe burns, causing him to lose his arms.

Now, Sullivan is the first to try out the most sophisticated artificial arms ever designed.

Surgeons attached his arm nerves to healthy muscles in his chest.

"So now when Jess thinks, close hand, the impulse is picked up by a transmitter, and goes to his hand," doctor Todd Kuiken said. "He thinks, closes hand and it does."

Sullivan's hand rotates 360 degrees, according to the report. When Sullivan's brain tells his arm to do something, it's done in seconds and he has feeling in the bionic arm.

"This gives me a lot of hope," Sullivan said. "I was an independent kind of guy. I didn't ask anybody for anything. If I could do it, I did it."

Eventually tiny sensors in the fingertips will allow Sullivan to feel texture and temperature.

Doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago said the breakthrough could change the lives of amputees, patients with spinal cord injuries and stroke victims, according to the report.

By the time it's perfected, the cost of manufacturing the bionic arm is expected to be about $6 million, according to the report...

Click here for more from Local6.com, including video of Mr. Sullivan moving his new arms around.

In recent years there's been some work done on developing an "artificial eye" that can send visual information into the brain's optical area. Last I heard, it's meeting with some success. Now we got this.

Excellent news! But did you notice how much the story said that this rig is going to cost after it's fully developed? There can be no doubt: Jesse Sullivan is...

(sorry, couldn't resist :-)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Forcery covered at goTriad!

Jeri Rowe writes a really swell piece about our lil' movie in this week's edition of goTriad. Click here to check it out and take a looksee at goTriad.com's main page right this moment: our movie is sharing the page with Fantasia! Who'da thunk it? :-)

...and Matt Drudge is acting like an idiot!

The headline story on his page right now is about the press embargo on Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. The Supreme Court decision taking away private property rights has a tiny red link just above that, but it's not screaming as much importance as whining German movie critics merits.

The WORST Supreme Court decision ever, bar none, and a summer blockbuster movie is what's considered the more vital of the two.

There's a lesson here but this is the sort of thing that's better for others to connect the dots on.

America is DEAD! Supremes rule cities can destroy your home to make room for shopping mall

The notion of liberty - and this has especially been true with the notion of liberty in America - is based on the concept of personal property. That you and you alone know what is the best use of the land and possessions that you own, so long as you do not interfere with the right of others to do the same with their own.

No more.

The Supreme Court has ruled that cities can seize and destroy private homes and businesses to make way for private economic development.

Meaning that if you have a small business, and there's an even BIGGER business (like Wal-Mart) that wants to build a store where YOUR business is, the town you live in can side with Wal-Mart and destroy everything you've done with your own business, just so they can build their store.

This is the kind of thing that makes it seem pretty damn sensible to run out and burn a flag in protest. Why not? There is no more America.

Let this country crumble into ruin. I don't care anymore. Not when IDIOTS like the five justices that voted in favor of this are so damned blind that... THIS JUST SUCKS DONKEYS BALLS TO NO END, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN??!?!!

This may finally be what drives too many people up against the wall for the last time. That's the only silver lining I'm seeing to this. It is finally "that time", if you've ever read Claire Wolfe's stuff. Because if government can side with big business to take away everything you have, what is there that's really left to lose? What might that drive some people to do?

When property rights are dead, America is dead.

'Nuff said.

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist."

-- John Adams, Founding Father, 2nd US President

Sauron has an Eye in the sky...

All together now: "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them..."

That's actually the star Fomalhaut at the center of the picture, 25 light-years from our solar system, as seen through the Hubble telescope. NewScientistSpace.com has more about this cosmic "Lord of the Ring".

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Anti-flag desecration law takes huge goose-step forward

Well, the House of Representatives voted 286-130 to give itself the constitutional power to ban flag-burning and other acts against the American flag.

Dear God in Heaven, this is so scary a step, I've no idea where to begin.

Since it's so fashionable to put things in the context of the Nazis lately, I'll go ahead and say it: after reading this article, and the power and veneration that some want to ascribe to our flag, it sounds too much like die Blutfahne. See what Google will come up with for that term, and tell me that this isn't the same. It's a government imbuing a piece of cloth with mystical power, making it an object of worship instead of a symbol for something.

Maybe it's just as well: what the American flag symbolizes went away and died a long time ago already anyway.

Growing up as a Boy Scout I learned how to respect the flag, how to fold it properly, everything about its history and the things better men than I'll ever be did to keep that flag - and what it stands for - proudly waving for the sake of those yet to come. I'm damned ashamed that we've let them down. And I never thought the day would come when my own cherished American flag would start to become a symbol of fascism.

No, I'm not gonna take that back.

Ironic, that the American flag is now being "defended" by the same people that raped it of everything it used to stand for.

Few quick notes...

The biggest post (I think) that I've ever done to this blog will be up sometime either today or tomorrow. Have been working on it for the past week or two. Wish I didn't have to do this, but some things need to be said, and I've got to be thorough. Going to set some things straight and call the bluff on some people.

On the HAPPIER side of things, within the next hour or so I'll be doing my very first "pod-cast" thingy, talking with an entertainment editor about Forcery. The link to that will be on this page as soon as possible.

The "blooper reel" for Forcery should be online tomorrow morning sometime. It's a real scream!

Ummmm... that's all I can think of at the moment.

Monday, June 20, 2005

They're coming to dunk YOU! Southern Baptists want 1 million baptisms in 1 year

This is just so wrong. Totally, completely wrong. This misses the mark bigtime on what we're supposed to be doing as Christians. From the Associated Press via Yahoo!...
Baptists Aim to Baptize 1 Million Members

By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 20, 5:06 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The annual meeting of Southern Baptist Convention will help kick off what may be the denomination's most ambitious outreach effort ever — baptizing 1 million new members in a year.

Headquartered in Nashville, the 16.3 million-member faith is the second-largest denomination in the United States, behind the Roman Catholic Church. Yet the number of new member baptisms has declined in each of the past five years.

"We have been playing it too close to the church," said President Bobby Welch, who will speak at the opening of the two-day convention Tuesday following a satellite address by President Bush. "Southern Baptists have to reconnect themselves with the communities and the needs of the people in the communities."

Welch said complacency among Southern Baptists is a big part of the reason for the slide, and it's an issue he plans to address in his speech to an expected crowd of about 9,000.

After he was elected president last year, the 62-year-old Welch began preparing for the baptism initiative with a bus tour of the United States and Canada to show "the convention is concerned about being involved in everybody's life."

Out of that tour came the baptismal theme for this year's convention, "Everyone Can."...

This right here is the biggest failure of modern Christianity. Okay, I'll even say of the modern world. Of human nature since the dawn of time even. But that doesn't mean the body of Christ has to emulate it. I'm talking about this whole fixation on "strength in numbers". See, the Southern Baptist Convention is making the mistake of equating prominence in this world with spiritual success. Maybe even with righteousness before God. In all brutal honesty it's pretty disquieting that they're even considering doing such a thing from this kind of motivation. Baptists - of whatever flavor - have traditionally been ardent believers in the individual's place before God, not how that individual contributes to a carnal collective. It's partly the reason why (believe it or not) Baptists have also usually been the ones most in favor of separating church and state. But now the Southern Baptist Convention is taking the position that individuals do not matter, only how much strength that individual gives to the churches as a corporate body... for the convention's sake, not the individual.

If this isn't the sin of pride on a grand scale, I don't know what is.

$60 oil but altering refineries still too sour for petrol industry

Crude oil is at a record high of $60 per barrel right now. I've seen serious speculation that $70 may not be that far away. When that happens it might not be that bad an idea to start studying those wonderful "Mad Max" movies for important tips like how to wage war for a tank of juice and how to go out into the wasteland to learn to live again...

Here's what I can't figure out: some credible analysts are saying that we are fast approaching (if not already reached) the point of "Peak Oil", when demand will vastly outstrip supply. But Peak Oil is a position based on current production, with what is available now to keep supplies constant. For the most part that's dealing only with "sweet" crude oil: meaning the oil has a low (less than 5%) sulfur content. That's what most of the refineries operated by oil companies are set up to crack. In contrast, so-called "sour" crude - which has a much higher percentage of sulfur - isn't being refined that much at all, and by most indications there's plenty of the stuff that can be readily tapped and pumped.

The problem is, refineries that process sweet crude can't handle the sour crude. At least not without a lot of upgrading and modifications. It can be done, but it's a step that major oil companies have been loath to take as yet. And when you think about it they've got a vested interest NOT to upgrade the sweet refineries: increasing the supply means cheaper oil. Which means they stand to make less profit than they are now. It would also be expensive in the short term to make the modifications.

But with the price of oil skyrocketing, what choice do they have but to start tapping and processing the sour crude, if they are going to still make a profit at all?

There is still oil to be pumped, although sooner or later (and better it be sooner) we're gonna have to switch over to something more plentiful, like corn oil or propane or hydrogen cells. Such energy alternatives would be a lot cleaner too. Not to mention more energy-efficient. The only reason petroleum-based products are still used now is because crude oil has bragging rights on being the fuel that was first most abundantly available. Now we know there are other options to choose from. Between here and there we're looking at a transitional period that, if we are approaching Peak Oil, we've got no choice but to start refining the sour crude, regardless of immediate cost concerns.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Doctor is IN: new Who rocks!

Well, at last, earlier today I finally got to watch some of the episodes of the new Doctor Who series from the BBC.

It still ain't got American distribution though. Not even BBC America, which is the obvious place for it to go if not on the Sci-Fi Channel (and they really, shoulda, oughtta look at getting the rights to this). I've been wanting to watch it for some time but unless you're actually living in the United Kingdom the only way to feasibly see it is download it from a "torrent", which for some reason seemed like too much effort to even learn how to do in order to just download a TV episode. Yeah I'm somewhat of a neo-Luddite, or a Mennonite: I have to be able to trust anything technological before I actually use it for anything. But I really wanted to see this now 'cuz last night was the season finale, so for the past couple of days I made myself learn all about file torrents and the like. Am trying out a few clients but right now it's a tossup between BitTorrent and BitComet, and of the two BitComet was the one I actually used earlier this morning to get the files. Turns out it was far easier than I thought to not only download the stuff but to look for them. Think I've found a whole new toy to play with :-)

But maybe more on that later. Let's talk Time Lord.

Fan of the Daleks that I am, I downloaded Dalek and last night's finale The Parting of the Ways, and Bad Wolf is streaming in right now. I've no doubt that the next few days will see the other episodes from this season filling up my hard drive...

...because this new Doctor Who show kicks serious boo-tay!! And you know, maybe it WAS a good thing that the show has been "on hiatus" since 1989: because this is a Doctor that's completely faithful and sincere to the spirit of the original series, but also EXTREMELY fresh in style and production. It reminds me a lot of Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica, yeah it's THAT kind of good.

I just wish that I'd caught more of Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor before this weekend, because after just two episodes he's already my all-time favorite regeneration (speaking of which, BBC has said that this is the same Doctor as the one we previously saw in Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy and the rest, including the Paul McGann one that was in the Fox TV movie). Eccleston's Doctor is like Tom Baker pumped-up on amphetamines chased down with a shot of Jack Daniels. He's manic, but also extremely focused on wherever fate or the TARDIS (his somewhat-trusty time machine) lands him. I want to see more of him in the worst way. Unfortunately after I finish downloading all of these other episodes that will be IT for Christopher Eccleston 'cuz last night he bowed-out after just one season, did the traditional "regeneration" scene that had the Doctor changing into a new form played by David Tennant. I hope Tennant plans to stay awhile, 'cuz according to Whovian lore them Time Lords only get 12 regenerations, and he's on life #10 already (let's not even get into that whole Valeyard mess awright?)

Anyway, watching these two episodes was a real pleasure. Dalek had the Doctor and his lovely companion Rose (played by Billie Piper, and the Doctor always winds up travelling with someone - usually a comely young lass - from Earth) materializing in an underground bunker beneath the Utah desert of 2012. Seems that Henry van Statten, an insane industrialist who "owns the Internet" has also been collecting alien artifacts that crash on Earth. The prize of his collection is a Dalek, still alive deep within its life-support armor. I won't say anymore lest it lead to excess spoilerage but Dalek was at once something very outrageous, hilarious... and heart-touching. It was a COMPLETELY different tale than what I would have expected from a Dalek-centered story, but it really delivered the goods. It also made a little bit of Doctor Who history, since I don't think there's ever been THAT good a look at the actual Dalek creature ever before.

I need to watch the episode immediately preceding The Parting of the Ways before I can really appreciate the season finale, but it was the same level of high-quality that Dalek had been, if not ratcheted up a few notches more. The BBC had been putting trailers on the official Doctor Who website in the days leading up to the episode's airing (or "transmission" as our Brittish brethren like to call it) that hinted at something - massive - that would be revealed. That turned out to be the Emperor Dalek: one of the most grandiose and obscene creations in more than forty years of the Who saga. Again, no spoilerage but I have to make note of my favorite thing in the entire episode: it takes place 200,000 years in Earth's future, aboard an orbiting space station that beams out television shows to human colonies. One of them is The Weakest Link hosted by a robot named "Anne Droid"... voiced by none other than Anne Robinson herself! Now imagine Anne Robinson with a particle beam cannon in her mouth and when she tells you "goodbye!" it's goodbye for good... heh-heh.

Darnnit, can't believe I came to this party this late. And after I'd been telling my wife how much I was looking forward to seeing the good Doctor in new adventures, too. Well, I won't be letting THAT happen again... thanks to the miracle of peer-to-peer file sharing :-) So if ya got one of these torrent clients on your 'puter, this is as good a thing as any to download with it. And if not, you've a damned good reason to start learning how to find and download torrents now. Get to work!

A second helping of Batman Begins

It was a reunion of sorts last night, getting together with "Weird" Ed and Chad for the first time we've been together since Forcery's release a few weeks ago, and got to catch up with a guy named Andrew, a really cool dude I used to work with from the old Elon days (hadn't seen him in six years). I was the only one of the bunch that had seen Batman Begins already so it was sort of my own little kick to watch their reactions to stuff in the movie.

I may catch Star Wars Episode III once or twice more this summer, but Batman Begins is by far my hands-down favorite of this season. And it only got better with a second viewing. There were a lot of little details that I noticed this time around (example: (SPOILER highlight to read) the second time we see Zsaz - after the inmates are set loose from Arkham - I saw that he DOES have the "notch marks" carved in his flesh, just like in the comic books). A few other things too, like (not quite a spoiler) the explanation for that line that Batman swings around on: Morgan Freeman's character Lucius Fox is describing something a LOT like nano-tubules, so that isn't a stretch from reality at all.

Well, suffice it to say that all three of my comrades loved it. We wound up talking about it quite a bit afterward. And it was a relief knowing that we could finally wash the decaying remains that was the abortion of a Batman movie that Joel Schumacher did out of our brains forevermore amen.

Gotta talk about the music.

'Cuz right after we finished up I went to Target and bought the soundtrack CD. It's now loaded up on my 20-gigabyte MP3 player. And I've no doubt that a slew of speeding tickets is in my future when I crank up track 10 - "Molossus" - while driving my car. It's got that same "push to the limit" umph to it that "Duel of the Fates" had when the Star Wars Episode I soundtrack came out, that "Battle of the Heroes" in Episode III has too. But THIS one is actually composed with driving a car in mind: ain't no telling how much carnage James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer are going to wreck with this 'un.

Who knows, I might just watch Batman Begins again this afternoon. It sounded like Dad might be interested in giving this a looksee and he hasn't been to a movie theater in like five years, so I might just give him a treat for Father's Day :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Maybe O.J. can find out whodunnit...

The BBC is reporting that the ice-pick - still stained with blood - used to kill Leon Trotsky has purportedly been found in Mexico City, sixty-five years after he was murdered.

Fascinating, if true. I've always thought that whoever did the deed was paid in rubles. And the money trail would lead all the way up to Joe Stalin himself.

North Carolina legislators have found something new to tax: movies

Let's be blunt: the lawmakers of this state are, for the most part, idiots.

North Carolina is one of the most heavily-taxed states in the country, or at least east of the Mississippi River. Sooner or later anything and everything here has a tax, or a levy, or a fee, or some obscure penalty attached to it. Our fuel tax makes the average price of gas higher than that of any state around us. Too many cities and counties are raising property tax rates which I've never believed in anyway: if you have to pay money for land that you own then you don't really "own" that land at all, you're paying the government a "user's fee". There's talk of raising the tax on cigarettes... which I don't smoke and don't encourage anyone to, but in this state a higher tobacco tax is tantamount to fiscal suicide. Sales taxes keep going up. More taxes are levied on things like dining and hotels. Meantime this state's governments are out of control when it comes to spending. I haven't had time to lately but first opportunity I'm going to look through the current budget proposal and report on any ridiculous appropriations... and there will be some, believe you me. The school systems here are a wreck because more money goes to administration than goes to actual teaching (one more reason why North Carolina needs a state lottery to shore up education, like what Georgia does with its game). This state's legislators aren't interested in cutting spending. They only spend more, and they never run out of things to tax to generate revenue from which to keep spending wastefully.

And now they want to hit both average North Carolina families and what could still be a major industry for this state: movies.

A little while ago I went to the theater to pick up some tickets for Batman Begins, 'cuz I'm going with three other friends this afternoon. The lady at the box office gave me a couple of fliers about Bill 622 in the North Carolina Senate, that would impose a 7% tax on movie tickets sold in this state. That's about $.40 per ticket. That may seem like chump change to some but for a family of four that's $1.60 extra they'd have to pay for an evening's entertainment. Over the course of a year that adds up. Lisa and I go to movies, on average, about once a month: figure that would be $9.60 going to North Carolina when we could be using it to buy already overly-priced popcorn (which is actually something I like). When you throw in seeing a movie four times already in the theater as I've done with Revenge of the Sith... well, you get the idea. And besides, it's just the principle of the thing: why the hell should I happily give over more of my money, even a little bit of it, when it's so well known for a fact that the state is just going to waste it too? When you have a drug addict you don't make him better by giving him more heroin, you take it away and put the guy through detox.

Imposing a higher movie tax (why should there be a movie tax at all anyway?) is just another line of coke for the druggie. It's not helping us and it's not doing the state any favors either.

Anyway, a group of North Carolina theater owners is banding together to fight this thing, and they've set up a good website that lays it all out better than I could that you might wanna check out, if you happen to live in this state. It makes the case for why this proposed tax is going to be seriously detrimental to not only the economy of North Carolina, but to families and communities as well.

When I said that most North Carolina legislators are idiots, I mean that. Some of them are pretty cool. But after meeting and talking to many of them in various capacities such as journalist, I've gotten the impression that too many of them are pretty sleazy when it comes to being entrusted with public funds. There's some phone numbers and addresses for several legislators on this anti-tax website: it wouldn't hurt to make some polite letters and phone calls to 'em and let them know that we're watching how far their hands go down into the cookie jar. We shouldn't have 'em putting it in our bags of movie theater popcorn either.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Enough Star Wars to make you puke! Saga-inspired barf-bags at Virgin Airlines

Dad once told me that sooner or later "they're going to put Star Wars on everything" and looks like he was right. You can't make this up folks: from the official Star Wars website
All Too Queasy: Virgin Airlines' Unique Collectibles

June 14, 2005

While some Star Wars fans collect action figures or comics, others are on a quest to find unique items that most of us only notice when a plane ride gets a bit too action-packed. In collaboration with Virgin Airlines and Activision, LucasArts has released limited-edition airsickness bags to promote the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Video Game, available in stores now.

Available on Virgin Atlantic flights, the four designs include: Knowing Your Lightsaber, Lightsaber Etiquette, The Art of Jedi Combat and Seating Jedi and Sith. The backs of the bags all have the same Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Video Game cover art. The collectible bags are limited in number and will be available while supplies last...
Steven Spielberg should have thought of this over twenty years ago: think about how Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom could have cashed in with this kind of licensing deal!

Sony signs deal with Warners to run The Matrix Online (NOOOOOOO!!!)

Let's put it this way: Sony Online Entertainment did to Star Wars what Joel Schumacher did to Batman.

Ain't too much of a gamer but the concept of massive-multiplayer online role-playing games is utterly fascinating to me. And being a Star Wars die-hard I had to give Star Wars Galaxies a try. I was with it for a little more than a year before it got too boring. Blame SOE: they saturated what could have been a viable component of the Star Wars experience with too much visual material, not nearly enough content and NO idea what Star Wars is supposed to really be about (hint: it ain't thirty thousand Jedis running loose at the height of the Empire). I cancelled and swore that when a new Star Wars MMORPG comes out someday it better not be SOE at the helm or I ain't buying.

But even without Star Wars Galaxies, I had The Matrix Online: prolly the first videogame to use armchair philosophy as part of the action. It has its faults, but overall it's been a pleasurable enough pastime... 'cept today Warner Brothers announced they're going to hand the game over to Sony! Ooh-boy.

From the press release on Yahoo!:

Sony Online Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Collaborate for Online Projects
Friday June 17, 8:00 am ET
SAN DIEGO and BURBANK, Calif., June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Online Entertainment Inc., and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today announced exclusive long-term licensing agreements allowing SOE to develop a DC Comics massively multiplayer online game for PC and next generation consoles, as well as the acquisition of The Matrix Online game by SOE.

"By working with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment we will fuse the knowledge SOE has in the online space with some of Warner Bros.' phenomenal properties," said John Smedley, president, Sony Online Entertainment. "SOE will work closely with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics to maintain the authenticity consumers demand from the DC Comics franchises. We will also take steps to continue the same high level of service that subscribers have come to expect from The Matrix Online game."

"Our goal is to deliver quality content and consistently advance our key properties within the online games space," said Jason Hall, senior vice president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "We've done just that with The Matrix Online. Because of our compelling work in developing and launching that game we can now move it over to the leaders in the MMO space, SOE. We look forward to working with SOE to enhance our overall services to massively multiplayer online gamers for The Matrix Online and a new DC Comics game..."

I can see it now: players running all over the Matrix looking for the elusive 8-track tape that will tell them which profession tree they have to master while a player-versus-player battle breaks out nearby involving twenty-seven "the One"s. Acquiring kung-fu will require a couch-crafting ability and those playing as spies will have NOTHING to actually spy on whatsoever, forever! SOE is going to take this game and make it like EverQuest just as they tried with Star Wars Galaxies... and in the end the Wachowski Brothers themselves will come out of seclusion brandishing katanas to pull the plug on what is now an abortion of a videogame, daring Sony to stop them.

Or, maybe they CAN make it a better game after all. But that better be a damned big alligator that they pull out of that hat.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black... (Bush on Iran elections)

Found this story at the BBC about comments President Bush made about elections in Iran and couldn't help but see this fly off the screen...
Mr Bush criticised Iran for blocking hundreds of reformist candidates from running.

"Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy," he said.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president, is the front-runner against three major rivals.

So lemme get this straight...

Having two major rivals that block any earnest attempts at reform and rig the system to keep hundreds of potential candidates off the ballot at all is considered "real democracy".

But having three major rivals that do the same thing is said to "suppress freedom".

And before we strut around as an "elected official", why don't we check those Diebold machines out, eh Mr. Bush?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Just saw Batman Begins

Now THIS is the movie I wish we had gotten in 1989!! Everything about it is just darned perfect. I can't possibly count all the smaller things that are in this movie that are taken directly from the Batman comics. Finally it's a Batman movie that's NOT focused on the villain, but focused on Batman (how the heck did the '89 one get away with billing Jack Nicholson as the Joker over the hero?). How well does Batman Begins work? During the first good part of the movie, well into when Bruce Wayne returns back to Gotham, I found myself having forgotten that this was a Batman movie at all, because first and foremost it's a movie about Bruce Wayne as a character and thenhow he acquires the look, the gimmicks, the car etc. They could have titled this "Bruce Wayne Begins" and I would have been totally happy. One of the most devious bait-and-switch plans I've seen in any recent movies, a believable city they're running around in, a music score that never overwhelms the action, NOTHING... as in not a single element of the plot... feels out-of-place or without a basis in reality. This movie could be based on true events. It could even be happening right now, you'd think. And isn't the ending of this quite the novelty for a Batman movie: it resolved this movie's story, while blowing it all wide open for plenty more to come.

Okay, gotta run, but trust me: Batman Begins is well worth the five bucks for admission (and the fifty dollars you'll spend on outrageously overpriced confectionary).

Cinematical reviews Forcery!

Well whaddya know... our little movie is getting around! Thanks to Cinematical for the kind words.

(And of COURSE he doesn't look too much like George Lucas: the man just got pulled out of a freezing car wreck, fercryingoutloud!!! :-P)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Mike Tyson quitting boxing to become a missionary

Iron Mike never seemed to be the missionary type. I always figured him to be Chewish.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

From Dolores Claiborne to Dolores Umbridge?

Today I found myself re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, sorta getting refreshed before the next book in the series comes out in another month. And this past week I finally saw the teaser trailer for the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, out this coming holiday season. It looks promising, but we'll see how well a 734-page book translates into a three-hour movie. Personally, even though it grows with each new viewing I was a bit disappointed when the movie for Prisoner of Azkaban came out last year, 'cuz it left out a LOT of neat items from the book, like who "Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs" really were, and Sirius giving Harry written permission to visit Hogsmeade, which is how the book ended.

My two favorite characters in the series so far have been Sirius Black and Professor "Mad-Eye" Moody. Moody's being played by Brendan Gleeson in Goblet of Fire, and it really does seem like he could look the part, that kind of wise/creepy combo. But as I was reading Order of the Phoenix I found myself wondering: who in the world could possibly play Dolores Umbridge?

For those who haven't had the mispleasure yet, Umbridge has to date been the most LOATHSOME character that J.K. Rowling has created in the Harry Potter books. Even more than Voldemort, you find yourself wanting this *itch ("w" or "b", your choice) to die die die. She's the bureaucrat from the pits of Hades. Imagine Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with a magic wand and gone insane with power. Umbridge is a metaphor for everything that is horribly wrong with modern public education, I'm positively certain. Yes, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a damning indictment against big government in the education business, which should... should mind ya... make some self-professed "religious conservatives" very happy were it not for them being too fixated on burning Harry Potter books. And most of this is all because of the character of Dolores Umbridge.

So who should play her when the movie version of Order of the Phoenix comes out? Call me crazy, and maybe it's only 'cuz I've spent the better part of the past year watching and re-watching Misery as reference material for my own motion picture, but it hit me today that Kathy Bates could probably pull it off beautifully... er, I mean wickedly. She's got that ability to turn on the faux charm and concern for others before trying to make their lives a living Hell. The only real strike against her is that she's not British (I think) and to date all the principles in the Harry Potter movies have been from the United Kingdom. There probably won't be any deviation from that and I couldn't really blame the producers for that, but the more I think about it, the more I'm coming to like the idea of Kathy Bates in what would certainly be the most EVIL role of her career.

But we'll have a little while yet to see how that turns out. And there'll be some other roles to fill too. I'd be willing to bet good money that Keira Knightly will get considered for the Tonks role. And isn't it hard NOT to imagine Samuel L. Jackson as Kingsley Shacklebolt?

It was one year ago this past week...

...that Ronald Reagan passed away.

I know that there is - and probably will always be - some debate about his times as President of the United States. The man wasn't perfect by any stretch. Then again, who among us is anyway?

But I always admired Reagan. Part of his charm was that he wasn't afraid to admit having human foibles. He spoke with people, not at them or down to them. And they were people from all walks of life: foreign dignitaries, ecclesiastical authorities, or humble family farmers.

We were in Atlanta, me and Lisa and one of her friends from college, when the news broke that Reagan had died. We were on our way to the Lord of the Rings concert with Howard Shore conducting (I got the tickets about six months earlier, a Christmas present for Lisa). The concert was great, but all night it felt like... like the era of my childhood was finally, at last, finished. You didn't grow up in the Eighties without being in Reagan's shadow somehow: he was that kind of bigger than life. Nancy was bigger than life. Remember when we saw Reagan walking around the White House rose garden with Michael Jackson? Today Reagan is dead and Jacko is awaiting the verdict in his child molestation trial.

What the hell's happened to this country?

That was Saturday when he died. We were leaving back for home Tuesday morning and it was Monday night, while watching the mourners file past his casket at the Reagan Library in California, that I decided I had to go to D.C. and pay my respects to the man. We got back home about 10 that night and 12 hours later I hit the road again. Met up with some friends from the Internet along the procession route on Constitution Avenue and about 6 that evening the caisson bearing his casket filed past where we were standing...

I stayed in D.C. one more day, getting in line late Thursday night to try and get into the Capitol rotunda where his remains lay in state. It was like seven hours' wait from the far end of the Air and Space Museum, through five large "holding pens" on the Mall set up to accommodate the crowd, but just after the beautiful sunrise broke at dawn ("mourning in America", I couldn't help but think) our group got inside and were there for what turned out to be the next-to-last changing of the guard done in the Rotunda. Sure didn't seem like that long a wait though: all through the night I met with some really neat people from all over the place. Domino's and Papa John's were delivering pizzas to folks waiting in line (how they were told which holding pen to come to I've no idea). The Park Service had bottles of water for everyone. It was a little before 8 when we got through the buiding and I took the train back to my waiting car, drove to my hotel and packed up and went home.

I started writing about this a few days ago but got caught up in some things on this end. Wanted to come back and finish up this lil' tribute to the man. Wish this country could have other men of his kind of caliber in high office.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Nazis invented the sex doll (saywhuuuu...??)

Started randomly looking at other blogs this evening and found one called Suspect on film and since I'm a World War II freak his most recent post caught my eye. From Blogcritics.org...
The Nazis invented the sex doll

The Nazis invented the worst thing ever: the assembly-line death factory. But they also invented something else, perhaps the only legacy of theirs that endures to this very day. During World War II, Hitler's war machine created the world's first sex doll: Borghild.

The ”field-hygienic project” was an initiative of Himmler, who regarded the doll as a ”counterbalance” for the sexual drive of his stormtroopers. In one of his letters, he mentions the ”unnessessary losses” the Wehrmacht had suffered in France, inflicted by street prostitutes. ”The greatest danger in Paris are the wide-spread and uncontrolled whores, picking up clients in bars, dancehalls and other places. It is our duty to prevent soldiers from risking their health, just for the sake of a quick adventure.” One assumes Himmler also wanted to stop any racial dilution of the great German army.

The project was considered ”Geheime Reichssache”, which meant ”more secret than top secret.” Himmler put Dr. Joachim Mrurgowsky in charge, the highest ranking officer of Berlin's notorious SS Institute.

The world’s first sexdoll – or ”gynoid” – was built in 1941 by a team of craftsmen from Germany's Hygiene Museum in Dresden. The project was supervised by a famous technician, Franz Tschakert. He was the ”father of the woman of glass,” which happened to be the sensation in the 1930’s International Hygiene Exhibition...

Ohh-kaaaay that's enough for now, don't you think? This is probably the weirdest thing I've EVER heard about World War II. Weirder than the "British aircraft carrier made of ice cubes" or the "Nazis trying to contact the subterranean supermen" bits, even. Squeeze here if you want to read more about them kinky Nazis.

Check out the new Forcery website!

Awright, our lil' film is starting to get some press coverage so in advance of the good word and for benefit of anyone who might find their way to it, Ed and I have worked on-and-off throughout today to beef-up the official Forcery website. You'll find production photos, cast and crew bios, download links and more! We'll be adding more stuff to it soon as it develops. In the meantime, head over to forcery.kwerkyproductions.com and enjoy!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Man in suit! Man in suit!

Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers was the first place (I think) that had the concept of strength-enhancing mechanized endoskeletons worn by humans. It's since been used in movies like Aliens and The Matrix Revolutions. Now it's become a reality...

From AFP via Yahoo! news:
Japan unveils "robot suit" that enhances human power

Tue Jun 7,10:14 AM ET

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan has taken a step into the science-fiction world with the release of a "robot suit" that can help workers lift heavy loads or assist people with disabilities climb stairs.

"Humans may be able to mutate into supermen in the near future," said Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor and engineer at Tsukuba University who led the project.

The 15-kilogram (33-pound) battery-powered suit, code-named HAL-5, detects muscle movements through electrical-signal flows on the skin surface and then amplifies them.

It can also move on its own accord, enabling it to help elderly or handicapped people walk, developers said.

The prototype suit will be displayed at the World Exposition that is currently taking place in Aichi prefecture, central Japan...

That's gonna be a pretty cool thing for pro wrestlers to wear.

This blog's look will be changing soon

I redid its look back in January but the all-black "nighttime" style is really starting to bore me. And that picture of me at the top isn't the best: it looks like I'm smirking or something. The original is a photo taken of me for a newspape I worked at a few years ago and in larger size it looks great. Reduced size, it makes me look too much like a psycho. I'm going to find a better one. I'm going to monkey around with it some during the next few days and see what I can come up with...

Bush wants to make destruction of Bill of Rights permanent (seeks PATRIOT Act renewal)

A lot of its provisions were intended to "sunset" when it was passed over three years ago. Except Bush wants to keep them around indefinitely. For the duration of the "emergency", you see.

This "emergency" will never end. The "war on terror" is not intended to have a substantive goal. This will never enter into endgame.

Might as well face up to it: Osama Bin Laden won when he sent the planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center going on four years ago. He made sure America would never be the sweet land of liberty ever again. The irony of it is, it wasn't Osama who did the really dirty deed against the American people. He merely instigated it. He hasn't even been adequately punished for it. Instead the President of the United States - who swore an oath to defend this country's Constitution - is too busy taking away basic rights like that of having an attorney and protection against unwarranted searches and seizures and letting our guard down along this country's borders, to do anything meaningful against whatever real terorrists are still out there.

The PATRIOT Act does not defend America. The PATRIOT Act defends politicians from the Americans they continue to steal from and rape of their freedoms. No wonder Bush wants to keep hiding behind it forever.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The unfilmmable Watchmen claims another one

This time it's Paramount that threw its hands up in despair. Mash here for the full story. This is one story - graphic novel or not - that will never, ever, EVER be made into a movie and it still do justice to the original source material. The only way it could possibly be done is if someone like HBO turned it into a 12-part season-long series of one-hour episodes, one hour given to each chapter of the book. There's no way to cram something so dense like Watchmen into a three-hour long movie.

Woman sues Stephen King after claiming she's real-life "Annie Wilkes"

Ooh-boy, this is just too rich. Ever notice how sometimes things just seem a little TOO coincidental? Today TheForce.net posted on their fan films section about Forcery and turns out it comes hot on the heels of this item from the Celebrity Justice website. A woman is suing Stephen King because she claims she was the basis of the Annie Wilkes character from Misery and that King never credited her. She's sued him before, saying that King has ripped-off a lot of stuff from her over the years. Sounds like a pretty scary lady.

Then again, anyone claiming to be the REAL-LIFE Annie Wilkes is gonna be someone you want to keep away from sledgehammers and firearms.

"Weird Al" Yankovic watched Forcery... and he liked it!!

The entire cast and crew was really thrilled to hear that "Weird Al" Yankovic - the crown prince of parody himself - wrote in after watching Forcery. Yup, our first-ever movie was seen by the one-and-only Weird Al (which is only fair 'cuz over the years between me and Ed we've amassed quite a lot of Al's CDs and merchandise and t-shirts and we can recite line-for-line all the dialogue from UHF and are patiently awaiting the arrival of "The Weird Al Show" on DVD... we've watched HIM and now he's watched US!). Here's some of what Al had to say:
"...Nice job! Wow, how'd you ever get Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg to be in it? What a coup!"
It wasn't easy, let's just put it that way Al :-)

It was one of those things that you overlook when you're doing something like this, but the updated "Definitive Edition" we just made available this evening has some additions to the end credits: for all the inspiration that they provided us over the years, the cast and crew of Forcery thanks not only Weird Al, but Mel Brooks and the guys who made the Airplane! movies. We really strived to make Forcery resonate with the same tone of comedy that they're the masters of. Ed and Chad and I grew up with their music and movies, and we often talked on the set about how our own was a sort of homage to them and that period of our lives. Hope we did them an honor with it :-)

And so it begins: the start of my filmmaking career that will one day find me directing Weird Al and Leslie Nielsen in Spy Hard 2: Spy Another Day. In the meantime I must bide my time and climb the ladder...

Forcery - the Definitive Edition - download now available!

Am using Ourmedia.org to host this on for the moment. We may get other hosting soon. One offer to mirror it has come up.

Folks, I'd like to ask something of you, but only if you really, truly enjoyed watching our little movie here. If you laughed and thought it wasn't a waste of your time and were genuinely entertained by it, I for one would REALLY appreciate it if you could spread the word on Forcery wherever you can. Point people to this blog and the links we have to it. There's a reason I'm asking this and I'm still collecting some thoughts on that. Right now, it means more to me than you can imagine if this film - which had a LOT of good people working on, and sacrificing for so that it could be made - could get a little (actually a LOT) more exposure. Some really good e-mails and comments have come in already, and I'm wanting to see this fly a little higher and keep on flying.

Consider this to be Version 1.1 of Forcery. In all respects the same as the initial release but we managed to fix a few things. The audio, for one: sounds MUCH better! A few of the special effects were recomposited/refined. The final scene was rebuilt completely from scratch (you'll definitely notice it when you see Frannie's lightsaber and the changed dialogue of the Mel's Drive-In waitress). Quite a few scenes were "tightened-up" to make it flow leaner and meaner. You probably won't notice these things if at all, but to me they came to stick out like a sore thumb. Right now, there's not much more that I know we could do, with what we had to make this with already. I'm more proud of it than ever :-)

As before, there are four versions of Forcery for you to download:

480 x 270 Extra Large - 508 Megabytes: the biggest/most robust version outside of the DVD.

448 x 252 Large - 355 Megabytes: the "regular large" version.

384 x 216 Medium - 192 Megabytes: medium-sized version.

256 x 144 Micro - 96 Megabytes: the "micro-sized" version. Still my favorite because it fits neatly onto a 128 MB USB flash drive (along with Quicktime installer) so I can take my entire motion picture around with me in my pocket. Or around my neck on its lanyard. Like the dead albatross from Rime of the Ancient Mariner...

By the way, if the download doesn't work for some reason at first, try again one or two more times: you will get through to it. Ourmedia's servers are a bit quirky sometimes but I've yet to see them totally fail to deliver the goods.

Anyway, enjoy the show! And please spread the word about Forcery! :-)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Inmates in British prison watching Revenge of the Sith bootleg DVD

This story made me laugh for some reason. From contactmusic.com...

A bootleg copy of the brand new STAR WARS movie, EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SITH, has been illegally screened in a British jail.

The pirate DVD was shown to prisoners at the Coldingley Jail in Surrey, despite the fact that the blockbuster has only been on release in cinemas for three weeks.

And police were amazed when an inmate reported the illegal screening, which is believed to have been organised by a prison officer.

One prisoner says, "Most people loved it. The last place you'd expect to watch pirate films is in jail.

"We don't have access to the DVD, so presumably a officer to put it on.

"It was a nice gesture - but pretty stupid really."

06/06/2005 14:02

This is sort of a step up from China, where they have prison inmates making bootleg DVDs :-P

Okay, so it wasn't by LAST night, but Forcery Definitive Edition WILL be today :-)

Encoding to Quicktime is something I'm still striving to have some finesse at. Right now Media Cleaner is busy churning out four versions of Forcery - same sizes as the initial release - but with a few extra bells and whistles now that I learned how to do 'em. The movie should autoplay as soon as you open the file, and if you're downloading from the web it should start playing as soon as it's got enough info to run on while it's still coming in.

We'll have the website for it updated in the next few days too. Which'll include a VERY cool endorsement of the movie that I've been sitting on the past few days :-)

Monday, June 06, 2005

Forcery version 1.1 available this evening

It's not a "special edition" like I referred to it as Saturday, more like how it SHOULD have been originally released had Fate smiled on us a little sooner. As it is, we did get lucky enough to have some things fall into place that let us improve on it a lot in places where it needed it. So no new material, but it is a better viewing experience. Melody and I happened to find ourselves each calling this one "Version 1.1" so that's what this, the definitive release, is going to be known as. When it's online later tonight just forget that the first release ever happened. Strike it from your mind. It never took place. You just imagined that you saw it already. "This isn't the movie you're looking for." Forget about it. Forget it, I say!! Maybe someday with a million dollars of funds I can give it a total work-over including new scenes and that'll be a real "special edition" but for now, let's just say that our first baby is walking around a bit.

In addition to a blooper reel, I'm also considering posting a "viewer's guide" to all the little in-jokes and sight gags that we stuck in this movie. Like, that's Chad's brother who's picture on one of the wanted posters in the sheriff's office. There's about five of them on the "Filks Found Guilty" newspaper clipping alone. All told, there might be a hundred such items spread throughout Forcery for both Star Wars and Stephen King fans (and everyone in between) to look for :-)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

AMC is showing Independence Day right now

Lisa said it was on earlier but it didn't register until now that she also said "it's on AMC!" Yup it's official now: Independence Day is an American Movie Classic. Funny thing: as much as I berate myself for the fact that I watched this seven times in the theaters when it first came out in '96, every time I wind up watching it again I understand anew what it was that kept me coming.

You see, this isn't a movie about evil aliens in fifteen-mile diameter spaceships blowing up the White House at all. Yeah the effects looked wicked cool, especially the scenes where the fighter jets are engaging the alien fighters beneath those monstrosities. Speaking of which, Independence Day probably ranks as the VERY LAST of the old-school special effects blockbusters given how ridiculously LITTLE computer-rendering was used in it, compared to something like Revenge of the Sith. That was neat eye candy but Independence Day was much like Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's previous effort Stargate in that it focused on the characters more than the techno gimmickery involved. To me, Independence Day was and always will be about the way America should be: a land where there really is no division or meaningless factionalism. A country where every man (and woman) really is considered equal, and not a favored elite by virtue of birth or corporate backing. Independence Day is not a movie that either so-called "liberals" or "neo-cons" should enjoy: a Jew and a black man fly a spaceship together and save the world, and no one ever takes notice of that. The President of the United States is a REAL Air Force flyer who's not afraid to strap into an F-16 and take off after the bad guys alongside refugees from an RV flotilla. No one is stopping to figure out how to capitalize on this mess: they're just fighting to make sure that their children will have a world to wake up to tomorrow.

Man, Independence Day may be one of the most politically mocking movies of all time. No wonder it's always resonated with me somehow.

Anyway, glad to see that it's now being played on AMC alongside such other classics of the American screen as Every Which Way But Loose, Smokey and the Bandit Part 2, Death Race 2000 and National Lampoon's Animal House :-)

Kyle Williams made my brain hurt this weekend

But in a good way!

Every time this kid has something profound to say - which is just about every time - I usually make a post about it with a link to whatever is his latest essay. I didn't forget about that this time at all. It's just that this week's Williams piece was very dense: we're talking on the scale of Tolkien or Rand here. It provoked a lot of things to think about and I wanted to make sure my brain was thoroughly wrapped around it before saying anything about it.

Suffice it to say, it's a BRILLIANT piece Williams has up at WorldNetDaily this weekend. Titled "Idolizing intolerance", this may be his most powerful piece yet. From his article...

It bothers me that many members of my denomination, Southern Baptist, claim that sending children to public school is a sin against God. It bothers me that the evangelical spokespeople in America were almost universally and emphatically pro-war during the Iraq campaign. It bothers me that abortion and homosexuality are the only issues that national evangelical activists care about. It bothers me that, according to surveys, evangelicals are more likely to be racist than unbelievers. These things bother me.

I don't have an opinion on homosexual marriage. I really don't care, but I believe it ridiculous for Christians to expect unbelievers to act Christian. I believe abortion is murder and should be outlawed, but I believe those who have abortions need love and a change of heart, not picket signs and hate. I don't believe in beating society over the head with morality, because outward signs of morality are worthless divorced from Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that we must judge those inside the church, while God judges those outside...

I don't have the heart to steal his thunder by quoting his closing thoughts here. Mash here and check it out for yourself.

The things that make your phone ring at 11:30 p.m.

Last night was a little interesting. I was playing The Matrix Online with fellow mates of our faction (we're the Priory of Zion on the Method server) when the phone rang. A good friend - that I've mentioned here quite a few times already - called to see if I'd be willing to assist in something. I said "yes" immediately.

Now, the task itself is pretty neat, but what's really got me stoked is where this is going to be at.

Will be able to post more about it toward the end of this month. Suffice it to say, it's the kind of situation that might make some people crap in their britches when they learn where a guy like me is gonna wind up running around in. I just hope that my security clearance checks out :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Forcery "special edition" coming soon

I may even have it ready to go by tomorrow evening, depending on some factors.

Awright, this past week was a little harsh on my baby, the first movie I've ever made (hopefully not the last though). It was harsh on ME: something happened that seriously, seriously got me feeling rather despondent. Ummmm... "betrayed" would be a good word to use. That's one thing I don't take very well. Betrayal, especially after you've spent a long time earning a trust, is... well, that's pretty low.

It all had to do with Forcery. The details of which I'll be disclosing more about in the days to come. Yeah I was brought pretty low (and there's nothing wrong with admitting that) but in the past day or so there's been some things that have more than lifted my spirits. And I've been doing some thinking on the matter too.

(This'll all make sense soon, trust me. I'm gonna come out both barrels blazin' but there's a proper time for that, and right now ain't it. Suffice it to say, some hard things need to be said openly, about some people, and I'll be unloading that soon enough.)

But I can say this: Forcery picked up a... I'd say it's a pretty darned good endorsement, from someone who seemed pretty impressed with the film and if HE was impressed... whoa momma!! Not too shabby for a first film out the gate :-) The other thing is, we've found some possible venues that would see it promoted bigtime. But we're gonna "fix" a few things first. I know, the audio ain't that great: already talked about what happened there. Lo and behold, that's going to be fixed, and we found a VERY neat solution to it! A few minor things, stuff you probably won't even notice. I'd say that this upcoming "re-release" should be the definitive version, and this one out now just the "preliminary". Which isn't the usual way to do things: next time, we'll know. And we'll do better.

So anyhoo, I'll be posting a honking big write-up about some things soon, and will be bringing you an improved version of the movie. Hope you'll find it entertaining and enlightening :-)

Revenge of the Sith viewings to date: 4

Saw it with my friend Johnny last night, who I've always dragged into seeing a new Star Wars movie every time for the past eight years (since the Special Editions) but this time he dragged me! I don't know how well he liked The Phantom Menace and he kinda liked Attack of the Clones but he REALLY dug Revenge of the Sith! It sparked quite a lot of conversation late last night as we wound down the evening at the good ol' Krispy Kreme. That's four times now I've seen this movie (saw it again last weekend with a family from our church) and my goal is to catch it at least six more times before the end of summer. That way I'll beat my previous "most times I've seen a movie in first-run" which was 9 times for The Phantom Menace in 1999. Before that it was 7 times the summer of 1996 for Independence Day.

Yeah I still can't believe it either: watching Independence Day seven frickin' times in the theater! You can go ahead and ask, I don't care: "Chris what the *#&@ were you thinking? WERE you thinking?!"

The cool thing about that was at the time I was running an Independence Day website, and got a nice e-mail about it from Dean Devlin. That so ruled :-)

So ummm... looks like Bush lied to the American people so he could have his lil' war in Iraq...

...and really, can that be disputed, in any sane and rational way, at all?

I'll admit to being a late-comer to this whole "Downing Street memo" thing that's starting to heat up the newswires. Hey I spent the better part of the last two months making a movie, you tend to overlook a lotta things when that happens :-) So this morning I sat down and tried to catch up on everything that I missed, and this seems to be catching on in a big way. And why shouldn't it?

Because based on everything I'm reading, it's (A) been verified as accurate by Tony Blair's own government over there in Great Britain and (B) proves that the entire case that Bush and his gang built up to justify our going into Iraq was falsified!!

Y'know, King David cooked up a lie that sent Bathsheba's husband to the front lines where David knew he'd get killed. That was the death of one man that Nathan the prophet came and condemned David for. Now, think about the sixteen-hundred or so Americans that have perished since this mess started two years ago, for the sake of a lie: what might God have to say about that?

No doubt that some Bush-bot is going to be tempted to add a snide comment to this post, as they usually are whenever they find me writing about this. Something to the effect that I'm "un-American", that I should be "standing behind our president" or something REALLY asinine like "would you have preferred John F'ing Kerry?" Yes folks, these "good Christian Americans" think it's an act of virtue to use the "F-expletive" in constant reference to Bush's Democrat opponent in the 2004 election. That says more about a lack of civility than an abundance of stupidity but I digress... The point is, either myself or someone else, and probably a whole bunch of someone elses, is going to be slammed because we bring this - an impeachable offense and way moreso than a semen-stained dress could ever evoke - to the attention of others and based on that ALONE we'll get painted as "spineless evil Democratic liberal bastards".

Well, I ain't a Democrat. Or a Republican. I'm not even really an American, not in the greater scheme of things: I'm just trying to do what God would have me to do. And the God I've come to know demands that I seek out and adhere to the truth.

To NOT say something about this lie, in my own way, however it is that I'm empowered to say it, after knowing about it, would make me complicit with the execution of that lie. And I do not desire to stand before God and confess to Him that I did nothing to refute this lie that has not only cost the lives of countless innocents, but is a mortal sin in its own right.

Now, do any supporters of Bush still believe they possess something "constructive" to add to the conversation?

Friday, June 03, 2005

I just realized what's wrong with America

It's that too many people in this country have no way to create an identity to call their own, so that by the time they're old enough to want their own identity they've no idea what the hell to do. So, they grasp hold of whatever "identity" presents itself to them. It could be a sports team, or a political party. They latch onto it and lose any desire to ever have to think about why it is that they latched onto it in the first place because to do so destroys their identity. And for the rest of their lives, as is the case with a political party, they will defend that party and the "identity" it gives them to the death.

THAT is why so many people in this country do not think for themselves, instead letting a party - and whatever individuals that party has elevated out of its own interests - do the thinking for them.

I gotta wonder now: where does that leave the rest of us, the ones who DO think for ourselves, the ones with our own identities?

I'll admit there's more of "them" than there are of "us"... but sheer numbers never equalled moral or philosophical superiority, did it?

Back in the saddle again

The past few days were a little... trying, you might say. Hence my abrupt departing message.

Things are better now. I'd even dare say "better than better" :-)

More later. Need to finish putting some thoughts together before making the next move.