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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

For the first time since I've had it, I'm not wearing my Jedi costume for Halloween. Just hasn't been time to do much in the spirit of the holiday today. But we did manage to carve a traditional-looking Jack-o'-lantern (which was supposed to have been a cool Darth Vader one but I sorta messed up: needed a larger pumpkin it turns out). I did wear my lightsaber down to the station when I went there a little while ago though. And we've had some trickster-or-treatsters drop by the place tonight so we've gotten to dole out some candy. So we have enjoyed Halloween 2006 after all :-)

By the way, I know I'd promised a "sequel" to last year's popular ghost photographs article, made up of responses that have come in recently to that one (people sending their own stories, photos etc.) but the sad fact of the matter is I just haven't had time to do any compiling/editing, between the demands of work and the campaign. But I do plan on doing that sometime soon, maybe even next week after the election. Yah it won't be the Halloween spirit anymore but when you look at the chronology from a linear perspective it will still be "near" the season, right? :-)

Anyhoo, hope you and yours are having a happy Halloween this year!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Campaign Commercial the Third

The third (and probably final) commercial to come out of my campaign for school board...

EDIT 10:43 PM EST: I keep watching this and now... I wish that this was the ad that I had been running already. I really felt compelled to make the first one: deep down I knew that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't make that one, and it was either make it now or never do it at all. I like how the second one came out better though: it was always my intention to do a more serious one for Commercial #2 but the reaction to the first one sorta obligated me to address that in the second, instead of using it to talk about other things. This third one though, it's both serious and entertaining and... different. I quite like how it turned out. Will it help make my case about being elected to the school board? Dunno. But I've basically done everything I can so far as commercials go with getting my message out.

But however this election turns out, I'm feeling mighty proud at how I ran my first-ever political campaign... and especially my commercials. I intend to leave them available on YouTube permanently, so that others might enjoy them long after this campaign season is over.

Straight-ticket voting: A truly wasted vote

What's the point of being a voter at all if you don't even bother to consider every race and candidate on the ballot?

This past weekend someone I know pretty well told me that he couldn't vote for me in next week's election. It wasn't anything that he held against me: he even told me he thought I'd make a great member of the school board. But the fact of the matter was that he and his wife had taken advantage of the early voting because they would be out of town next weekend... and the first and only thing they had done when the got their ballots was to mark them as straight-party tickets. And since the school board is a non-partisan race, none of those candidates were voted for at all.

I like this guy a lot. But because he wanted to vote "conveniently" that's possibly two votes for me that I'll never see. Which doesn't sound like a lot but trust me: I've come to very much appreciate the value of every single vote that is cast in your favor. Especially in a race that has sixteen candidates in it: every vote is exponentially magnified in value compared to those cast in other races.

I'm not going to think any less of my friend and his wife: they're really good people. But they - and too many other Americans - don't value the right to vote as preciously as they should. If they did, they would take the time to both educate themselves on the election beforehand, and then carefully consider the votes they cast once they actually get to the poll. Voting a straight-ticket is... well, cheap and lazy. And in my mind, it's the only truly wasted vote there is. A vote for a "third-party" candidate, however little chance he or she has of actually winning an election, is vastly more valuable if made after sober consideration than is a ballot that's marked Democrat or Republican straight down the line with scarce - or no - thought at all.

Straight-ticket voting should be done away with. Because if a person is going to take the time to cast a vote he or she should be made to consider what or who exactly it is that they are voting for. I say that because the power of the vote is far too much to be entrusted to minds that don't want to use that power responsibly. Come to think of it, any identifiers of party affiliation should be stricken from the ballot too: make the voter think about each candidate as an individual person, instead of someone who's "worth voting for" only because they happen to have a "D" or an "R" stamped next to their name.

I'm not expecting any of this to happen though, at least not anytime soon. The two major part... excuse me the one ruling party masquerading as two can only stay in power so long as it can depend on citizens who are all too willing to take the easy way out when it comes to voting. If people were suddenly expected to vote for candidates based on actual merit... why, what good would it be to have the Democrat and Republican mechanism at all then?

I'm not writing this out of a sense of "sour grapes"... but as a candidate I do now have a much greater appreciation of this problem than I did before. And I felt led to share that on this page.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Shane's Rib Shack: Another great barbecue find!

" You can probably guess that Shane is all about food. Never trust a skinny guy when it comes to matters of eating."

-- from the Shane's Rib Shack website

A friend from church spent the afternoon with us after the service. On our way out we were trying to think of where to go for lunch and Lisa suggested Shane's Rib Shack on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro (in the same strip mall as the Circuit City). She said she'd heard it was supposed to be pretty good. So that's where we headed.

And I can't begin to describe how delighted I am with discovering this place!! Shane's Rib Shack is a pretty new franchise coming out of Georgia, from the looks of their website. But I think this place is going to be big. Really, really big. It's not the kind of restaurant you usually go to for ribs like T.G.I. Fridays or Applebee's. But it's not a fast-food joint either. It's more like Zaxby's, and I like Zaxby's a lot. Well, two things captured my attention when we walked into the place: the delicious smell of ribs, and the chain's motto: "It's gonna get messy."

Lisa had a barbecue pork sandwich. Michael and I both ordered a half-rack of ribs. I think Michael was the first to comment on how fraggin' huge the portions were... of everything. And let me tell you brother, those ribs were gob-slobberin'ly good!! Especially with that sauce: how I would love to have a bottle of this sauce in my cabinet next to those I keep on hand from Pigs R Us and Williamson Bros. Please Shane, if you ever read this: bottle and sell the sauce!! I promise I won't "reverse engineer" the stuff (you've just GOT to read the page on Shane's website about their sauce. I was honking with laughter: turns out this Shane guy is as good a comedian as he is a ribs guy). The cheese sticks and french fries were delicious as well.

So if you happen to be somewhere near one of their locations, give Shane's Rib Shack a try. Rib afficionado that I am, I was definitely satisfied with the experience of eating there.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reidsville City nitpickers quash the Haunted Warehouse

For the past few weeks our TV station has been hyping the first-ever Haunted Warehouse, around the corner and down the street from where we work here in Reidsville. I went inside where it was supposed to be a few days ago and... although I personally couldn't find anything very scary (guess they hadn't moved in the frightening props and such yet) I thought it was a great location for a Halloween haunted house-type attraction. Our station's general manager really had his heart set on doing this. Well, yesterday afternoon inspectors from the City of Reidsville came and effectively closed it down just a few short hours before it was supposed to start. Supposedly it wasn't "safe" enough... when the building in question is no less safe than any other in downtown Reidsville. Some have openly speculated that the timing of the condemnation is pretty suspect, that somebody up high in Reidsville city government "has it in" for the station. I don't know. But it's a shame that this happened. We were using the same building two weeks ago to tape some pro wrestling, and there was nothing wrong with doing that then.

I'll go ahead and state the obvious: Reidsville city government is, for the most part, bass-ackwards. I have never seen a municipal government so hell-bent on driving away small business and other industry. In the past month or so this town has already lost a good store, because its owner got sick and tired of the crazy sign ordinances that this town imposes. And at least one other retailer has outright said recently that it's going to be closing soon because of how the city government has driven away so much business. Now chalk up the Haunted Warehouse as one more casualty of the economic Bizarro-world that is Reidsville. And some of our "leaders" still dare to wonder how we can't attract any more industry.

Wait a sec... there's a HELLBOY animated movie on Cartoon Network tonight?!

HOW did this slip under my radar?! Guess that's what happens when you're too busy campaigning and being in debates and whatnot for political office. And here I am working at the station tonight while this is going to be broadcasting. AAARRGGHH...

Well, if you're so lucky as to have a free evening tonight, Hellboy: Sword of Storms airs at 9:30 p.m. tonight on Cartoon Network (click here for the movie's official blog). I've been a fan of Hellboy for a few years now, since the night "Weird" Ed took me to see the movie. Since then I've gotten a few Hellboy comics (and the DVD of the movie 'course). Guess I'm just nuts about things like heroic demons and Nazi cultists and the whole concept of free will and all that. Anyhoo, I'll probably just bootleg it off the torrents tomorrow, so no big whuff about missing it tonight. Can't wait to see it though.

Musical concepts you just can't teach in an elementary school

Lisa - the music teacher at the nearby elementary school - just lamented about the difficulties that would come if she attempted to teach her students about castrati.

I'm inclined to agree.

A true-life ghost story

Hey gang, I'm currently putting together something for Halloween. Something of a sequel to last year's big ghost story post (the one that sent two hundred thousand new visitors to this site in the past week or so!) but this one is going to be made up entirely of material that people who found and read that post have submitted to me. I've got stories, photos... all kinds of good stuff about things that go bump in the night. I'm going to earnestly try to have that up by Monday, provided I can squeeze it in between work and campaigning. But in the meantime...

I know Marc - also know by his blogging nom de plume "Bmovies" - pretty well. He's one of the coolest cats I know and just an all-around solid guy. Marc is also one of the most talented people on the Internet you'll ever be likely to meet: you've probably seen some of his handiwork and didn't know it.

Well, Marc has posted his own personal ghost story on his blog. It's a pretty thorough and detailed tale. And a compelling one too. In addition to his other talents I think Marc has quite a good mind at conveying a story. Head on over there if you want a good jolt to kick off the Halloween spirit :-)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Shadows of the Empire: ten years later

In 1996 Lucasfilm launched a unique project with the Star Wars saga called Shadows of the Empire. It was a massive multi-media event that involved action figures and toy vehicles, a videogame, a hardcover novel, a comic book series, a soundtrack CD... just about all the merchandising you'd expect to come out of a Star Wars movie. Except, there was no actual movie. Set in the one-year period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Shadows of the Empire was the previously untold story of Luke, Leia, and Lando's search for the carbon-frozen Han Solo. Most of that had to do with following up on a myriad of leads about the location of Boba Fett. But there was also a secondary plot involving Xizor, who after the Emperor and Darth Vader is the third most powerful person in the galaxy, what with him being a bigger criminal mastermind than Jabba the Hutt. The entire storyline was told through all the associated memorabilia: the core story played out in the Steve Perry novel and the Dark Horse comic, but unless you played the videogame you didn't know the ultimate fate of Dash Rendar, the new Rebel character.

To mark the ten-year anniversary of Shadows of the Empire the official Star Wars website has published a retrospective of the project, including a list of all the stuff that came out under the title. One thing that is still remarkable about Shadows of the Empire: it's probably the first and only time that there was ever a soundtrack CD that was composed for a fictional book (and it's a very good soundtrack at that, in my humble opinion... well worth tracking down a copy).

Tonight on Sci-Fi: The Doctor will witness the "Rise of the Cybermen"

"Le-let's cover up that noise... Uhhhh, give us Track Number Ninety."

"It's happening again... I've seen them before."

"Because it hurts."

"Delete, delete, delete..."

They haven't been seen by an American audience in 18 years.

But tonight, as Doctor Who continues the second season on the Sci-Fi Channel since its revival, the Cybermen return, in the first of a two-part story that is as horrifying as it is thrilling.

(By the way, here's my original review of this episode from back in May when I bootlegged it off the 'net.)

In "Rise of the Cybermen", The Doctor, Rose and Mickey accidentally wind up on the Earth of a parallel universe. On this "new" Earth, high-tech airships fill the skies of London and we see firsthand that the proliferation of compatible tech like laptops and Bluetooths may not be the best of ideas. While the Doctor desperately tries to fix the TARDIS, Rose and Mickey run off to see what their other-Earth counterparts are like. While all this is going on, John Lumic - the insane but genius head of Cybus Industries - is about to unveil the ultimate "upgrade package"... whether the leaders of Earth's governments are ready for it or not.

"Rise of the Cybermen" marks a reunion of sorts for David Tennant - who just keeps getting better and better as the Doctor - and Roger Lloyd-Pack, who is playing Lumic in this and the following episode. Tennant and Pack were seen in last year's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with Lloyd-Pack playing the vindictive Bartemus Crouch and Tennant playing his traitorous son Barty Crouch Jr. Lloyd-Pack does an ex-cellent (you have to say it like the Cybermen of the '80s) job portraying Lumic, giving the role an over-the-top insanity we haven't seen in the series since Davros. Which might not be a good thing since in some ways Lumic here is already too much like Davros, but I'm willing to overlook the similarities on this one.

"Rise of the Cybermen" ends with a terrifying cliff-hanger that continues next week with "The Age of Steel". Combined, these two episodes represent some of the best Doctor Who since the series was re-started up almost two years ago. Definitely worth watching tonight and next week.

EDIT 8:46 PM EST: SCI-FI CHANNEL CUT OUT A GREAT SCENE!!! It's the part where Lumic is talking to his henchman who's demonstrating the "work" done on the homeless guys. Okay well he tells them to march forward and the door opens and they head on through, and past the door we hear people screaming. Okay in the original run of the episode on the BBC, the henchman says that it's too much noise "give us Track Number Ninety". A technician activates a console... and we start hearing the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". It continues to play as we see what's going on past the doors: these evil mechanical arms with things like buzzsaws and knifeblades and injectors and whatnot slicing up those poor dudes while they're still screaming. It's a GREAT scene and... I can't believe that Sci-Fi deleted it!!

Watch the school board candidates forum online

I don't like the way I looked during this thing. Had I spent a minute going to the restroom to look in the mirror I would have noticed how bad my hair looked. It didn't start out looking like that when I left for the forum: guess the wind tussled it a bit. And I had a comb with me for this sort of thing too. Going back yesterday to watch this from the TiVo at the station I kept thinking that I looked too much like Mayor Quimby during the debate on the classic "Sideshow Bob Roberts" episode of The Simpsons:

Quite a number of people have told me they thought I looked good and performed well during the forum, so maybe I'm just being too hard on myself.

But anyway, if you want to watch the complete forum with all the candidates who attended, here are some links for you (BTW these are all in Windows Media format). I'm in the second portion that starts maybe 20-30 minutes in on the first video.

School Board Forum #1

School Board Forum #2

Just remember: unlike Mayor Quimby, I am literate!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Because I'm feeling so good after coming out of two candidates forums...

...I just got back from Wal-Mart where I treated myself to a Count Dooku Star Wars action figure :-)

This is what I do to celebrate or otherwise mark small occassions: get a new Star Wars figure for the collection. I know, pretty silly and juvenile. What can I say: I'm a school board candidate who still has a lot of kid left in him. But I don't see anything wrong with that.

Don't take life so completely seriously every second of your life. You can't put it into real perspective unless you take time to let your inner child come out and play some.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

LIVE TONIGHT: Candidates Forum: Round 2

Well, here we go again. This time in living color.

The second school board candidates forum starts tonight at 8 p.m., televised live from the studios of WGSR Star 39 (DISCLAIMER: I also work there as a master control technician and video producer).

Because of the sheer number of candidates and because it really is a small studio, they are having to "stagger" the candidates throughout the two-hour event. The first four listed on the ballot will get the first half-hour, then the second four in the next half-hour, and so forth, up 'til 10 o'clock. I'm scheduled to be in the 8:30-9 segment and so far as I know the only other candidate who will be able to appear during that time is Lorie Booth McKinney.

Now even though I'm a station employee, I have no idea what questions are going to be asked of me or of any other candidates. Which is the way it should be. During this campaign I've tried my hardest not to have anything like an unfair advantage over anyone else: this absolutely has to be a fair and honest and on-the-level election. And I'll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Parse that as you will. It may not make much sense to someone reading this who isn't living here but I need to make that statement.

Let me put it this way: I'm more than ready and willing to "pull the trigger" if it comes to that.

Anyway, as with last night I'll make an addendum to this post later tonight after the forum, with some thoughts about what happens. My biggest regret about tonight: I'm going to have to miss Lost for the first time since I really started watching this show... and tonight looks like it's gonna be a hum-dinger of an episode. Oh well: I'll just download it from a file torrent tomorrow morning :-)

EDIT 10:47 PM EST: The final segment just finished a little while ago, between Eric Smith and Steve Smith. I left the station not long after ours finished about 9:20 (and I've totally missed Lost tonight).

I liked the forum last night better, because being in a studio with the lights and the camera and no real audience that you can see does have an impact. But people I know who watched it said I did good. As for the other two in my group: Lorie Booth McKinney did an excellent job and Jon Mason, even though he had just come straight in from work as a paramedic and couldn't have on any dress attire, he was straight on the ball and gave some compelling answers to the questions. One thing that happened was, just like last night, a very vague question got asked during the viewer call-in part and it landed on me first and I had absolutely no idea what exactly the person was asking but I did my best (it was about racial quota and inequalities about... something or nother. I just said that I believe in looking at everyone as equal without regard to race or physical condition). Lorie and Jon thought that was a pretty weird question too: I don't think any of us were able to answer with any real confidence about what it was the caller was asking about. The only real regret about tonight is that I wasn't able to finish my closing statement, because at the last moment something sprang to mind that I just felt compelled to share with the audience about how there are a lot of younger candidates on this ballot and they deserve special consideration because they tend to be the ones who are parents (and in my case the spouse of a teacher in the system). So I wasn't able to give out the campaign website address. But otherwise, I feel pretty good about how I did tonight.

As for the other three segments with the remainder of the candidates... well, I'm going to hold off saying anything right now. Some of them I was very impressed with. Others... I can't help but think they might have done themselves a lot of damage. The better angels of my nature are keeping me from saying anything else about that.

I might be able to have some video up soon of our portion of the debate. Will be working on that...

News articles about last night's candidates forum

Didn't see any TV cameras but the print media was there to cover last night's school board candidates forum. Here's the stories as I'm finding 'em...
School board candidates fight clock - News & Record

Teachers sponsor forum for open seats - Eden Daily News

Here's a clip from the Eden Daily News story...
Panel members were asked if they believe the school board should have the authority to levy taxes. There were spirited responses.

"No," Knight said flatly. "I think it's a horrible idea. Government has too much power to tax as it is," Knight continued. He agreed with another candidate that taxes levied by the school board could strain the relationship between the school board and county commissioners.

Both stories also mentioned my opposition to No Child Left Behind.

This week's sign that the Apocalypse is upon us...

Chuck Norris is now an op-ed commentator for WorldNetDaily.

And he's a pretty engaging writer. In his first column he addresses the "Chuck Norris facts" craze that's been on the Internet lately.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Well this night just keeps getting better and better...

Something just literally landed in my lap that I've spent the past twenty years looking for.

One more key toward unlocking everything.

Snapshots from the field: putting out signs

Taken this past Friday afternoon by Lisa, while we were putting out signs. This was taken at the end of my aunt's driveway.

They're starting to spread like fungus all across Rockingham County. And more will go up tomorrow...

TONIGHT: Candidates Forum: Round 1

Right now I'm finishing up getting prepped for tonight's first public forum for school board candidates, being held between 6 and 8 at Rockingham Middle School and sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Educators. The task of the hour is polishing up my opening and closing statements. Every possible question that might be asked has been going through my brain during the past few days and I think I've got everything accounted for... but with about 12 candidates (that I know are coming) and only two hours to hear them all, I've no idea how many I might get asked.

And after that comes getting ready for tomorrow night's lived televised forum. If I can get past the next few days of forums and putting signs out, I'll be completely confident that I've done everything possible so far as my part in this election goes. Then we'll see what happens November 7th. In the meantime, I'll post a full report after tonight's events.

EDIT 9:36 PM EST: Back from the candidates forum. Considering this was the first political thing like this that I've ever done, I think it went rather well. Here's a pic that Lisa took just before things got started...

Those are my fellow candidates Reida Drum on the left, Steve Smith behind me and Lori Booth McKinney on the right.

Once things kicked off each candidate had one minute to give an introduction. This was followed by six questions, the starting order dancing around among the 12 candidates that were on stage. The fifth question landed on me to give the first answer: something about what would we do to improve relations among the school board and various individuals and agencies in the county. I thought it was pretty vague, but I gave as honest an answer as I could. Don't think anybody liked that one very much. One question that got asked was about whether we support this bill in the state General Assembly that would give local school boards the right to tax. I was the third one to get the mike and the first word out of my mouth was a good deep "No." I then went on to say that taxation is the worst power given government and it doesn't need that anymore. "These are good people on the school board. If I get elected on the board, with these good people, I'm telling you: don't trust us! Don't give us that power!" It was an answer that evoked quite a bit of laughter... but I think it may have impressed some people too. But that really is how I believe: give the power to tax to any group of people, no matter how well-meaning they are, and the temptation to abuse it is just going to manifest itself in time.

Well anyway, I feel pretty good about tonight. Now just gotta get tanned, rested and ready for tomorrow night: the live televised candidates forum. What will happen? Stay tuned!

(p.s.: thanks to Sam at Strader's Shoes for fixing me up real good for tonight's event. I forsook my usual boots tonight for the first real dress shoes I've bought in at least ten years :-)

Monday, October 23, 2006

200,000 visits

Remember the days when every time this blog reached another 10,000 visitors, that it was time to celebrate? Such an innocent and carefree time it was. I'd thought that it was going to make 60,000 by Thanksgiving: remember that it had a little over 54,000 hits less than a week ago. Well, in the past couple of hours The Knight Shift got its 200,000th visitor (the counter right now actually says 203,549). If it keeps this up the meter might be breaking the one million mark by Halloween. Does Site Meter even allow for a seven-digit meter? We may find out soon :-) Thanks to everyone for visiting my humble lil' blog.

Bollywood "Thriller"

The Michael Jackson of the Indian subcontinent performs Bollywood's version of "Thriller"...
Credit goes to Mark Childrey for this completely bizarre find.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"The Girl in the Fireplace": Tonight's DOCTOR WHO is some of the best recent TV ever

American fans of Doctor Who - the ones who haven't been downloading via torrent the newer episodes after they've run in Britain - are in for quite a treat tonight when Season 2 (or 28, like I've said before depending on whether you're reckoning this per the original series) continues on the Sci-Fi Channel. Tonight is when "The Girl in the Fireplace" broadcasts, and this is quite simply one of the most beautiful episodes of television that I can remember out of anything from the medium in the past few years. I don't want to give too much away about this one: it really is best left to be appreciated with as little spoilerage as possible. It's NOT the typical Doctor Who episode by any means though, and you can sort of pick up on that from the episode's very first scene. All I'll say is that this is the best performance as the Doctor that David Tennant has given during his tenure in the role so far, and that Mickey (Noel Clarke) is sporting the coolest-looking shirt that has ever been seen on Doctor Who during the entire history of the show. Just an absolute delight of a show this evening: I'd give it six out of five stars. Even if you're not usually a fan of Doctor Who I think it's safe to say this is one that you'll certainly enjoy.

Records smashed again: The Knight Shift's biggest day yet

Just before the midnight reset this blog's counter registered 61,718 visits in the 24-hour period that was Thursday October 19th. That's way more than the total number of visits in the past almost-three years since the blog first went up until Wednesday evening when this site got noticed by a few big outlets like Digg, Neatorama and the Coast to Coast with George Noory site. By the end of the day there had been 127,440 visits since inception... well on the way toward 200,000 though I doubt it'll be awhile - if ever - before I have something else happen like the past few days. Still, the extra exposure has been a lot of fun and I'm glad for the "new business".

Thursday, October 19, 2006

One Hundred Thousand

In the last little while (while I wasn't looking) this blog - a lot faster than I'd ever expected - hit the 100,000 visits mark. Right now it's showing 101,706 total hits and 35,984 since the daily counter reset at midnight this morning. And a little over 24 hours ago this place had registered about 54,000 total visits since I installed the counter almost three years ago.

So this blog is now in the coveted Six-Figures Club. Yay!!! Let's celebrate! Go out and buy a candy bar and pretend I got it for you :-)

Trailer for TORCHWOOD

This coming Sunday night the new sci-fi show Torchwood will debut on BBC Three over in Great Britain. This is the spin-off from Doctor Who that's been alluded to on that show since the end of Eccleston's season. Torchwood is going to feature that wacky Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) who accompanied the Ninth Doctor on a few adventures, this time stranded in modern-day England working with the ultra-secret Torchwood Institute. I've been wondering for awhile about what this is going to be like, but just going by the trailer it looks rather promising. Anyway, here's a peek at Torchwood...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Highest-traffic day in The Knight Shift history! This blog makes the front page of Coast to Coast and Digg!

I am... seriously wog-boggled by this day.

At 3:30 PM today I reported that 1,724 people had visited this blog since midnight: way over the usual number of about a hundred visits to the site daily.

Well, it's now a little before midnight and the needle not only got pegged, it tore completely off the dashboard.

With about a half-hour before midnight to go, this site has registered 8,773 visits today, and at the rate its going now the blog is picking up another about another 100 visitors every minute. I'll try to post the final tally before the daily counter resets at midnight.

Why is this blog being so blessed with visitors in the past little while? Well, my lil' post last year about ghost photographs has inexplicably gotten picked up by quite a few outlets today. Including... wait for it... the front page of the Coast to Coast with George Noory website!

And Digg found it too, where the article has gotten (at last count) 443 "diggs".

I dunno what to say guys, honestly. This is the most single-day traffic that my humble lil' blog has ever received. I'm feeling profoundly shocked and immensely humbled that this site has gotten so many people's attention (and for something not even really controversial, LOL). Thanks to everyone who's linked to this page today. And to all the newcomers: please stick around! I'm just a guy who's interested in quite a few things and I try to share those in a unique and engaging way. And I'm always trying to post good and fresh material (some of it I've made on my own) for you to enjoy. Thanks for being here!

Okay well that said, it's a little before midnight as I prepare to hit the "Publish" button. Let's see how far this goes before the daily counter reset...

EDIT 11:45 PM EST: While I was writing all of that the meter hit 9,725 visits today.

EDIT 11:48 PM EST: 10,003 visits today.

EDIT 11:55 PM EST: 10,585 visits now.

EDIT 11:57 PM EST: 10,716 visits.

EDIT 12:01 AM EST 10/19/2006: Well, the last count I was able to get before the meter reset itself at midnight was 10,939 for October 18, 2006. And in the minute or so since I started typing this the new day has racked up 133 new visits. I'm going to stop right there for the night but I'll check back in the morning and throughout the day during work at the station. Again, I'm floored by this. Earlier today my meter was sitting at about 54,000 and I was wondering how long would it take for it to reach the next 10,000 milestone. Heh-heh... only took a few hours... and it ain't stopping yet!! Thanks to everyone who made this a record day and me a happy blogger :-)

The second campaign commercial

It started airing about an hour ago. There may be one more commercial still to come before the next three weeks are over.

Watch that meter fly!

My website meter says that I'm currently getting an average of 78 readers per day. That fluctuates often depending on what I've posted here. Well, as of this moment today I've received 1,724 visits! With 215 in the past hour. At first I thought it was a fluke but apparently not: The good folks at Neatorama alerted readers to my feature a year ago about the top ten best ghost photos ever and people are flocking to see it from their link. So here's a hearty hello to everyone finding their way to this blog from Neatorama!

Just finished the second commercial

Filming took place during about 2 hours this afternoon and I've been working on it ever since getting back. Figure seven hours of work with this one, compared to 45 hours on that other... thing. It'll get posted here sometime tomorrow provided some associates sign off on it with their approval (what you think I don't have a campaign staff or somethin'...?) Didn't intend for the second commercial to be the way it turned out but the nature of the first one sort of begged for it. But, I like it.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"You are here"

This is the Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 16, 2006 as posted by NASA (click to enlarge)...

Here's the explanation from the page...
Explanation: In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear. The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other. First, the night side of Saturn is seen to be partly lit by light reflected from its own majestic ring system. Next, the rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn and slightly scattering sunlight, in the above exaggerated color image. Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the above image. Visible in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus, and the outermost ring visible above. Far in the distance, visible on the image left just above the bright main rings, is the almost ignorable pale blue dot of Earth.
So you see that "star" that's on the left above the really bright rings? That tiny little dot? That's where you and I are, my friend. That small dot contains all the history and hopes and dreams and everything else from the entire span of humanity.

This is as humbling a photo as I've ever seen. Really puts things in proper perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My first time watching live professional 'rasslin

Yesterday was... different at work. All day Reidsville was having its annual Antique Alley Street Festival, so practically everyone employed at the station was busy doing something either live on the street or back in the studio. I figure that a lot of the other school board candidates probably took the opportunity to do some campaigning but I had to miss out 'cuz of work... but that's okay 'cuz I've never been all that comfortable with working an event like that anyway. People and their families come to something like the Street Festival to have fun and get away from the real-life stuff for a few hours: I wouldn't want to be someone who goes and confronts them with it at something like that. But, that's just me. I had a good time all the same working the Street Festival at the station.

And then came last night...

In a building around the corner and down the street from the station, the AIWF Wrestling crew were setting up the ring and everything to do a bunch of pro wrestling matchups. This was the first night that we were taping the matches for AIWF's new television show, so we had to move a lot of equipment from the station and locations from the festival into the building and get everything set up. Admission was $5 with drinks and popcorn each going for a dollar: guess who wound up being the guy running the makeshift box office? Yup, yours truly :-) Quite a few people - I'd say over a hundred easily - came to watch the pro wrestling. And I've seen it tons of times on television over the year but this was the first time I'd seen it live and up close.

How was it? Well... the people who paid to see it were definitely entertained. But for the first time I realized how much that pro wrestling really is a sport about theatrics and slick acrobatics. Gotta admit that these are a pretty colorful bunch of guys - with names like Gemini and Butch Steel and East Coast Bodily Harm - who go all-out to give the audience a good show. I was more impressed with their skill in the ring to seemingly do so many dangerous stunts without anyone really getting hurt or injured. I would never try to do something like what these guys were doing... but I have to admire the way they executed it all, even though more than a few times it was pretty obvious that they weren't even really hitting each other. And then to see a wrestler talking trash into the camera about another one during the show but later see them hanging out with each other like they were good drinking buddies...

I think I'm finally starting to understand pro wrestling's appeal, even though some of its fans will admit that it's not an "authentic" sporting event: people love to watch good guys and bad guys fight it out. Even if they're fake good guys and bad guys (but from what I saw of them before and after the show they're all a decent and fun bunch of people) it's that whole thing about being able to see the world in the basest terms of black and white and pick sides. Which is maybe why I didn't enjoy it as much as most of the people last night: because I've come to a point in my life where I can't see other people in terms of black/white but instead have realized that it's really a myriad shades of gray. I sort of regret that, because the people last night - including just about all of my co-workers - really were having a good time watching this, and it was something that I couldn't make myself appreciate on the same level.

But, it was the first time that I'd seen pro wrestling being done live, and so I'm probably always going to remember all the craziness that happened last night for as long as I live. I gotta admit: it was certainly a different way to work a Saturday night than just being in the studio and hitting "play" for Inside the Game or Home Team.

Friday, October 13, 2006

HOW could I forget the new DOCTOR WHO tonight?

"Hello Sarah-Jane."

"Oh my God... I'm the tin dog!"

"You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of my life with you... that's the curse of the Time Lord."

"I saw things you wouldn't believe..."

"We are in a car!"

"You good dog."

"You need a Smith on board!"

"Say it please! This time... say it."

Darn... tonight is when America get another new episode of Doctor Who on the Sci-Fi Channel and I completely forgot about it. And I am really kicking myself because this is by far one of the best episodes of the revitalized series.

(Yah I'm one of those die-hard Who fans that downloads the bootlegs from England right after they run there... if there's any better use for bit-torrent I've yet to find it :-)

It'll probably be rerun throughout the weekend though, but tonight brought us "School Reunion". After almost a quarter-century since we last saw her in the special "The Five Doctors", Sarah-Jane Smith returns! And like I said when I first reviewed this episode, Elisabeth Sladen is as beautiful as ever. The Doctor (David Tennant) has conveniently become a substitute teacher at a school where a lot of weird things are happening. With Rose (Billie Piper) stationed in the kitchen and Mickey (Noel Clarke) trying to hack some top-secret info - and there's that "Torchwood" thing again - the trio is trying to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile the headmaster of the school - evilly played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Anthony Stewart Head - is leading reporter Sarah-Jane Smith around the school, but she thinks there's something amiss in this place too. And later that night while searching the grounds, Sarah-Jane is confronted with the sight of a certain familiar blue police box...

The reunion of Sarah-Jane - perhaps the most beloved companion in the history of the show - with the Doctor is handled exquisitely. And Sarah-Jane isn't the only one making a comeback: in her car she's got K-9 the robot dog... and after the Doctor makes a few repairs K-9 still has John Leeson's voice! Plenty of references to old-school Who and lot of humor in this episode. And more than the usual amount of heartbreak. There is some really terrific - and sad - dialogue at work here. I thought the scene just before K-9's "last stand" was handled exceptionally well: even if you had never seen K-9 before tonight, you really got the sense that he and the Doctor had a great relationship back in the day. Also well directed is the final scene between the Doctor and Sarah-Jane... which finally brings her the closure that she didn't get when Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor left her back on Earth more than thirty years ago.

Watch it if you possibly can this weekend on the Sci-Fi Channel, or just do what I did and download "School Reunion": this one's a definite Doctor Who classic.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"What if you don't win?" And some thoughts about the commercial...

In the past 24 hours or so my first campaign commercial has been getting a lot of attention. Tuesday afternoon its page on YouTube had registered about 280 viewings. As I write this it's now up to 1,416... something like 600% more than what it got on the first three days of being online put together.

So, it's out there. And from what I've heard its evoked quite a wide range of reaction. Since Friday evening a lot of people have said they like the ad and that based on it, they will definitely be casting a vote for me in November. It's been called the most unique political advertisement for this kind of election that this area has ever seen. There's been plenty of positive word about it. And then there's been the negative: some people saying that I'm a "nut" for making this ad. One person said that I look "evil" during the disclaimer at the beginning. More than a few have said I went too far in showing a schoolhouse exploding. And there's been the share of trolls that this ad seems to have brought out of the woodwork since putting it on YouTube: the ones who don't do much else than attack others' work that they would be too lazy to attempt on their own. But those were pretty much expected anyway.

Was it a mistake to have created this commercial? Have I shot myself in the foot by putting this out there and on the air?

What can I say? It's a Chris Knight commercial. It's not the only thing I plan on doing so far as a TV ad goes but it definitely was the one I wanted to do first. It's as reflective of who I am as a person as I could manage to put into one minute of airtime: the central concern I have about where public education is going, my determination toward doing something about it, my being a fiscal conservative and supporter of the arts and athletics... and a little of my more human side. Namely that I'm a Star Wars fan (and will never apologize for that) and that I like to engage myself creatively. This was the commercial that was screaming in my head to get made, or else I would regret denying it life years on down the road.

And it had to be done in my personal style. A commercial that I like even more than my own is Eric Smith's ad: the one where he's speaking toward the camera while the video for Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2" is playing in the background. I love that ad! I don't know if I could do something like that though, at least not for a first commercial. It works great for Eric though. But as individual candidates, we do what we each feel led to do that'll get our message out.

Is this commercial perfect? Heck no. I ran into more than a few technical problems while making it and it does show. There were some things I shouldn't have done in light of the experience I had with making Forcery. Admittedly there are some "rough edges". But given what I had to work with and the time available to produce it, I think I gave it my best.

Running for office isn't something you follow the instructions for like from a cookbook. There is no "do this then do that" plan that is guaranteed to give you a margin for victory on Election Day. There is no "right" way to go about doing this, and there's no "wrong" way either. There's just what you feel led to do, as honorably as you can, and let the chips fall where they may. That and give it your best effort.

What a lot of people outside this area aren't realizing is that there are sixteen people in this race... which has necessitated it being that everyone involved is having to do something unique in their own way to try and stand out. I'm hearing about a lot of campaign styles going on in this race: some seem to be focusing on using yard signs and others are doing their best to go door-to-door. One candidate is doing something that though I personally wouldn't do this, I understand how and why it is that they are doing it. Some are relying completely on word of mouth and I think at least more than one of those might win a seat. A few candidates have gone full-tilt with trying to cover all the bases, including TV ads. And like I said before: those that do TV ads are making them as best as they know how to reflect their personality and beliefs. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. There's just the "doing it" and hoping that it'll convince the voters that you're the right man or woman for the job.

And I may be violating a lot of precepts of political science but I find it impossible to consider my fellow citizens - the ones who will be casting their votes a few weeks from now - as impersonal assets to be manipulated and coerced into voting for me. No, if I'm going to win this school board election it has to be done honestly, without trying to cast any illusions about who or what I may or may not be. There's no way I could compromise on who I am if I end up taking a seat on the school board... so why would I want to compromise myself in the process of getting there?

In light of this commercial, some people have sent along word that they are actively praying that I lose in next month's election. I've never really thought of it as being that anybody "loses" an election. That kind of thinking is anti-republic in my mind. It implies that the winner automatically receives a mandate to do whatever the heck he or she wants to do with the office. This "winner take all/first past the post" mentality may be what dominates American politics, but it isn't a sentiment that a real servant of the people is supposed to share.

If I'm not elected, I will not have "lost" the election: it will simply mean that I wasn't elected to serve on the board this time. That my offer to serve was considered but politely turned down. And that's it. There are sixteen people running for five seats and although based on everything I've heard they are all wonderful and sincere people, only a few will be able to go on to serve on the board. That doesn't make anyone not elected "losers" by any count. If anything they are winners, in that they were willing to step forward and go through the strenuous demands put on a candidate.

Maybe it's the fear of "losing" that discourages a lot of people from considering running for office. If so, they need to get over it... 'cuz I would love to see a lot more people be willing to run for office. The Founding Fathers left this country to the people, and it's been darned too few of us that have stepped up to accept the responsibilities given us. After all, it's we the people who own this country, not a secluded elite of politicians and journalists inside the beltway of Washington D.C.

If I win, I will commit nothing less than complete devotion toward fulfilling the office that I'll be swearing to uphold. But if I don't win a seat, it won't be that big a deal. Seriously.

If I don't win, maybe it will be that it was not in God's will that I win this election. If so, I'll be very fine with that. And I want to write more about this later after this is all done with, but God has been revealing a lot of things to me during this entire process the past few months. Being a candidate for public office has been a growth experience that has radically expanded my understanding of things in a lot of realms, especially the temporal and the spiritual. I've been trying for the past six years to write a book about Christianity and politics, and... the best I can say this is that something was missing from the perfect vision of what it is that I've been struggling to say with this. I know what that is now, and I can finally move forward with that project. But it's not just that: as a person who is a follower of Christ and is an American citizen trying to uphold his part of the stewardship we have over this country, I've a vastly widened perspective on things that is going to be a part of me for the rest of my life. I don't know if I could have had that, had I not jumped feet-first into this election.

A few months ago the thought of being in this school board race was the furthest thought in my mind. Today I'm a candidate, facing all the challenges and responsibilities that come with that. And these past few months - and no doubt the weeks ahead - have brought out a side of me that I had no idea was there before. A lot of my closest friends have told me that they are really seeing the best in me shine through during this whole thing.

The biggest thing that's happened to me since becoming a candidate is that I have come to rely on the grace of God more than I ever have before in my life. Especially in the past several days: the first time in my political career that I've encountered real nastiness thrown my way. I could have become angry or even discouraged by all of it. Instead I have asked God to lend me His strength and to give me a spiritual shield against the fiery darts. I have asked Him to help me that though some are showing hatred toward me, that I not return hatred toward them in kind. There are some people in this world who seem to get their kicks from trying to hurt and destroy others. As a follower of Christ who is striving to put aside the old nature, I am constantly asking God to keep me from yielding to the temptation to reciprocate accordingly.

Maybe God has something better for me a long time from now, years down the road, even if I don't win this election. If so, His subjecting me to this is another growth opportunity. He is leading me through the fire and hardening me so that when the time comes, I can face bigger challenges. I really believe that with all my heart. Ten years ago I was an entirely different person than the one I am today. God led me through fire then... but He also brought me out of it. And He didn't give up on me either even though there were times that I felt like I had given up on Him. But He was faithful and He made me emerge from the trials a much stronger, more confident person. It could very well be that God led me to make this commercial, just so it would bring on a barrage of attacks on me and that I would ask Him to help me stand up against it. If so, I will be thankful to Him that He is doing this... and probably a lot more so years down the line.

Well, there is more that I could say about this and some other things. But the gist of it is: since being a candidate I have grown as a person, as a friend, as a husband, and as a servant of Christ. I am a completely better person since having the courage to put myself in the line of fire. Even if I were to know way ahead of time that I'm set to not win this election, I would absolutely have put myself through this process all over again, for the growth that I have experienced these past several weeks.

So from now until this election is over, I'm going to try my best to emulate one of my favorite heroes from history: Robert E. Lee. And decide in my heart that whatever happens, it will be God's will. That, and try to do my best in the meantime.

And in that meantime, I've got one and maybe two more commercials in the pot. So as we say in television: "Stay tuned!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

News & Record article on those wacky school board commercials

Lex Alexander at the News & Record has written-up a story about the various TV commercials that have been spawned by the Rockingham County Board of Education race. In it he talks to Eric Smith, Richard Moore and Yours Truly about the ads we've got running on the web and local television. You definitely get a sense from reading the article - titled "These aren't your congressman's TV ads" - that these commercials are a little on the quirky side...

...Which I think is great! Just imagine what would happen if every election had more than the two stale old parties that are always on the ballot, and instead have a whole slate of characters to choose from. Why, every one of them would be doing something different and a little wild in trying to stand out for the voters. This school board election, in my mind, is a model of how elections all over America should be. It's definitely a race involving individuals, not parties. Who knows: as morally bankrupt as both the major parties are fast being revealed to be, maybe we're seeing a little something of the future in the Rockingham County school board race happening right now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"R.A.B.": Rowling reveals the big Harry Potter mystery

Toward the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Professor Dumbledore embarked on a quest to find one of Voldemort's Horcruxes (a Horcrux is an object containing part of a person's soul, so that as long as the Horcrux exists that person is immortal). They believed they had found it in a locket hidden in a faraway cave. Dumbledore almost died in the process of recovering it. They transported back to Hogwarts just as Voldemort's followers had begun a full-scale invasion of the school. Then came the most unkind cut of all: Dumbledore was murdered in cold blood by Severus Snape... who Dumbledore had insisted to everyone that he trusted completely.

Later, as he looked on Dumbledore's dead body, Harry noticed that the locket isn't the one they were supposed to be looking for at all. And inside, on a piece of parchment, he found a note:

To the Dark Lord
I know I will be dead long before you read this
but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.
I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.
I face death in the hope that when you meet your match,
you will be mortal once more.
For more than a year now fans have been speculating about who "R.A.B." might be, and there's been one standout name that a lot of evidence has been pointing to. Well, it looks like J.K. Rowling herself has let it slip just who "R.A.B." is. From the Nimbus Network in Portugal...
Who is R.A.B.? - Short Summary

Publicado por Nadir Tejani @ 09-10-2006
Comentários: 0

To clarify any misunderstandings, Nimbus Network would like to explain international websites how we got the information about R.A.B. identity.

(Spoiler Warning)

On the 26th of October, 2005, Nimbus Network received a message from Isabel Nunes, responsible for the translation and coordination of the Portuguese versions of the Harry Potter series. In that message, Mrs. Nunes told us directly who R.A.B. was:

Since it is common knowledge, and it was already confirmed by JKR (when we asked her about the character's sex), I don't mind telling you: R.A.B. is Regulus Arcturus Black.
Although we wanted to tell everyone who R.A.B. was, we asked Mrs. Nunes for more details about the revelation - it wouldn't be professional to disclose an information this important. The answer arrived three days later:
Dear Nadir

I've decided to send the confirmation due to many speculations concerning the identity of RAB. It may bring doubts about its credibility, so I'll explain: there is an informal group of translators of the Harry Potter books who kept in touch during the translation of HP6, which, while exchanging ideias and informations, managed to overcome some difficulties. JKR's agent was posed a question concerning the sex of RAB (this is not the first situation of this kind, as has also happened with the characters of Sinistra and Blaise Zabini). It's always needed to proceed through writers' agents because there isn't any direct contact with the writer. We were truly amazed when the written answer had not only the sex but the true identity of R.A.B. To be truly honest, we don't have any clearance to disclose this but we hadn't been told otherwise. There was not any direct concerning about not publishing this information...

All that was needed was his middle name, and it looks like it all falls neatly into place: Regulus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Black. All we really know about Regulus is what Sirius told Harry: Regulus was one of Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters. But then Regulus decided that he was in way over his head and tried to get out... except that once you commit to following Voldemort it really is a lifetime thing. He was killed, probably by another Death Eater on Voldemort's orders.

So if R.A.B. was Regulus Black, and Regulus did manage to steal the real locket that was the Horcrux... where is that locket now?

Look in the pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, particularly the part where Harry and the others are doing some housecleaning around Number 12 Grimmauld Place.

Friday, October 06, 2006

School Board Campaign Commercial #1

It started airing this afternoon. It's ummmm... elicited some interesting comments. I'll probably be releasing another version soon with a different disclaimer at the beginning, 'cuz I'm not all that happy with it: I wanted to shoot that outside but we've had a lot of rain the past few days.

So here it is, my first-ever political campaign TV ad:

Feel free to post any thoughts and comments you have about it on this blog entry.

Baring "Tooth and Claw" tonight on DOCTOR WHO

I've come up with a pretty cool theory about the British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who, and tonight's episode is an example of it: the Doctor is trying to bring Rose to the year 1979 (the year of The Muppet Movie and Margaret Thatcher as he puts it ) but instead the TARDIS brings them to 1879. Why, in spite of the Doctor's best attempts to go where and when he wants, does the TARDIS always seem to bring him into the middle of danger and terror? It's almost like the TARDIS has a distinct mind of its own. I mean this has been going on since the very beginning of the show over forty years ago. Well, here's my idea: the Doctor, whether he knows it or not, is acting as an agent of God. It's the Almighty Himself who is steering the TARDIS according to His will. Wherever there is something going wrong anywhere in time and space, God is sending the Doctor there... because God knows that the Doctor will do his best to make things right no matter where or when he's at. Sorta like on Quantum Leap how it was implied that something - or Someone - on a higher plane was directing Sam's leaps.

Well anyway, if you're watching Season 2 (28 if you're counting from the original run of Doctor Who) in the States on the Sci-Fi Channel right now, tonight at 8 o'clock brings us "Tooth and Claw", the second standard Doctor Who episode featuring David Tennant as the tenth Doctor. Definitely a stronger episode than the previous entry "New Earth". Tonight's is a story involving werewolves, wire-fu The Matrix martial artists, and a face-to-face meeting with Her Majesty Queen Victoria. It's also a fairly important episode in the current overall mythology of the show because it has a little to do with "Torchwood", which you will be hearing plenty more about as the season progresses. All things considered, a solid episode that kicks off a whole string of solid stories that continues over the next few weeks with "School Reunion" and "The Girl in the Fireplace".

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Last night's LOST

Last night was the third season premiere of Lost and it was a heckuva good episode, especially the opening: we got to see where the Others were and what they were doing when Oceanic Flight 815 came crashing out of the sky. But Lisa and I had to wonder: in all this time that the crash survivors have had to go from one end of the island to the next, how is it that the Others have an entire frickin' town that hasn't been run across yet? Others-ville can't be more than a two hours walk or so from where the mid-section of the fuselage came down... and you mean that at least Locke and Sayid didn't know about it? What about Rousseau: she's been on the island for a long time and she's never said anything about it to the crash survivors either.

I'm starting to wonder if the "island" is even an island at all. Maybe it's just one really big peninsula of a much-larger landmass. Heck as far off-course as Flight 815 was it could be part of Antarctica that somehow stays tropical (think the "Savage Land" from Marvel Comics). However it is, that lil' island is starting to get awfully crowded with crazy geography. Maybe the producers will release a comprehensive map of the place someday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ten years ago Part 1

To anyone who will understand,
I still remember everything that happened starting that night and across the next few days.

To everyone who was involved: thank you.

Harry Potter is causing school shootings, claims mother

I will say once again: if the Harry Potter books weren't so popular, these kinds of people wouldn't be paying them any mind. Deep down, these people are happy that there is something like Harry Potter to kick around. Twenty years ago it was Dungeons & Dragons. Then it was Pokemon. Today it's the Potter books and five years from now it'll be something else. These people are in it for the attention and they'll say anything stupid to get it. Here's the latest story of anti-Harry hysteria from the Daily Mail...
'Ban Harry Potter or face more school shootings'

Last updated at 13:20pm on 4th October 2006

A woman who maintains that the Harry Potter books are an attempt to teach children witchcraft is pushing for the second time to have them banned from school libraries.

Laura Mallory, a mother of four from the Atlanta suburb of Loganville, told a Georgia Board of Education officer that the books by British author J.K. Rowling, sought to indoctrinate children as Wiccans, or practitioners of religious witchcraft.

Referring to the recent rash of deadly assaults at schools, Mallory said books that promote evil - as she claims the Potter ones do - help foster the kind of culture where school shootings happen.

That would not happen if students instead read the Bible, Mallory said.

She added that the books were harmful to children who are unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy.

The children, she said, try to imitate Harry Potter and cast spells on classmates.

"They're not educationally suitable and have been shown to be harmful to some kids," Mallory said.

She argued that teachers do not assign other religious books like the Bible as student reading.

It was Mallory's second public campaign against the popular fiction series, after trying to get her son's elementary school to ban the books in August 2005.

Victoria Sweeny, an attorney representing the Gwinnett County Board of Education in Atlanta's eastern suburbs, which had ruled against her in May, said that if schools were to remove all books containing reference to witches, they would have to ban mainstays like "Macbeth" and "Cinderella."

"There's a mountain of evidence for keeping Harry Potter," she said, adding that the books don't support any particular religion but present instead universal themes of friendship and overcoming adversity.

Sweeny said parents, teachers and scholars have found them a good tool to stimulate children's imagination and encourage them to read.

The hearing officer presiding over the appeal will make a recommendation to the state board, which will then decide the case at its meeting in December.

Mallory is appealing after the Gwinnett County school board ruled in favour of the books.

Wiccans consider themselves witches, pagans or neo-pagans, and say their religion is based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.

This woman is positively nuts! Everything she is claiming about J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books is a bold-faced lie... and she's using the name of God to perpetrate it.

I'll leave with this thought to ponder: people like Laura Mallory will no more understand the Holy Bible than they will the Harry Potter books. And when it all gets boiled down, Mallory is approaching the Bible as a "magic spellbook" even more than she thinks the Potter novels are.

Thank you for smoking

Wow, that has to be just about the worst picture of Yoda ever...
Why is he smoking a cigar? Or maybe its medicinal marijuana: "When 900 years old you reach, your eyesight not be so good it will."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

23 hours = 1 minute

It's 12:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning as I write this. The last time I got any real sleep was before I woke up Sunday morning. The better part of the past 48 hours I've been kept going on a steady stream of Mountain Dew and re-heated pizza and a twisted combination of personal drive and utter frustration.

What's the deal? My first-ever campaign commercial. So far I've notched up 23 hours dedicated to getting this one minute of footage assembled together. Some of that is time that could have probably been saved 'cuz I've been doing some "tweaking" in Premiere Pro and After Effects. What benefits come from that may not show up that well on TV anyway... but I'm a compulsive perfectionist. If it can possibly be made better, I'll take the extra effort to do it. In the end it's all the little things that make the difference.

It's coming. Soon. Brace yourself: I was told tonight that one thing that happens in this commercial makes Lyndon Johnson's "Daisy Girl" ad seem mild in comparison :-P

Monday, October 02, 2006

Foley ballot flap more indication that the parties are too powerful

The Republican Party in Florida has picked Joe Negron to replace disgraced former House Representative Mark Foley - who resigned last week after it turned out he was an e-mail pedophiler - on the ballot in next month's election.

Which proves all the more that the major parties - Republican and Democrat alike - have too great a stranglehold on this country.

Negron didn't have to submit himself to any of the scrutiny that is supposed to come with being a Congressional candidate. He's not going to be running because he gathered enough signatures on a petition to warrant his name being on the ballot. No, the only reason he's running is because the party bosses hand-picked him to be "their man". Because all that matters to them is "keeping control" of Congress... to hell what is in the best interest of the people of that district.

I've written in the past few days how the process of my being an electoral candidate for the first time has led to some personal change and growth. Well, I'm going to write more about this in the weeks and months following the election, but I'm compelled to say this much now at least: for all the talk about "voter apathy" in this country, why should the average American feel morally obliged to go to the polls in an election, if the American people aren't in charge of their own country anymore?

In a sane world, nobody would be filling in for Foley on the ballot. The contest would belong to whoever it was who's left in the race (which I guess would default to the Democrats, since no one else is really allowed to run in an election in this country)... and tough cookies for the Republicans.

But I guess I shouldn't be expecting anyone - from either of the two major parties - to do the decent thing by not circumventing the American people, should I?

SOUTH PARK set to skewer World of Warcraft

I don't play World of Warcraft (but I know some people who love it a lot) and I barely ever watch South Park but this looks too hilarious not to check out when it airs Wednesday at 10 (right after the season premiere of Lost). Here's the preview...

More Weird Al stuff, including the REAL reason why Atlantic tried to squash "You're Pitiful"

Ain't It Cool News has an interview with "Weird Al" Yankovic about Straight Outta Lynwood which came out last week. Meanwhile thousands of miles away the West Australian has another interview with Al, who reveals why it was that Atlantic Records tried so hard to keep Al's parody of "You're Beautiful" from being released...
Ali versus Frazier it wasn't. Things took a serious turn when Atlantic Records didn’t see the funny side of "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of James Blunt's hit, You’re Beautiful.

Yankovic recorded You're Pitiful as the lead single to his new album, Straight Outta Lynwood, but pulled the track when Atlantic refused to give permission. Blunt had apparently told the Los Angeles based comedian he was fine with it but Yankovic's label, Volcano, didn't want to mess with the major.

Either way, Yankovic usually seeks the artist's blessing as a courtesy before commercially releasing his skewed remakes of hit songs.

Prince, Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page have apparently knocked back Weird Al makeovers but most artists relish Yankovic's humorous and harmless homages.

Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler played guitar on the Beverly Hillbillies parody of Money For Nothing while executives at Nirvana's label once told the comedian that his Smells Like Teen Spirit remake sold an extra million copies of Nevermind.

However, the wise men guiding Blunt's career don't share Yankovic's zany sense of humour.

"The reason I heard was that they felt like You're Beautiful was getting too much attention," Yankovic, 46, explains from his home in LA. "They don't want him perceived as a one-hit wonder. They thought You're Beautiful was getting bigger than he was... and that my parody would put more focus on that song."

Atlantic didn't immediately put the kybosh on the parody, rather the suits asked Yankovic to wait until the soppy UK singer-songwriter had established himself as an artist. He obliged, for a while, but the album full of timely parodies couldn't hold for more than a few months.

A frustrated Yankovic pushed the label for a final answer and was eventually told that they didn't want the song to ever see the light of day.

"At that point I just lost my mind because they had basically pushed back my album and I had no idea what I was going to be doing," he says. "They basically jerked me around."

While the song won't be commercially released, Yankovic made You're Pitiful available for free download via www.weirdal.com — and the MP3 became a worldwide viral hit. Despite his run-in with Atlantic, Yankovic will stick to his policy of seeking approval before unleashing his comic gems. "I've always done that historically and I'd like to keep doing it, but I'd have to say that experiences like this make me wish that I wasn't so dependent on the kindness of strangers."

Thta's the DUMBEST thing I've ever heard in my life!! No wonder Al is editing the Atlantic Records entry on Wikipedia to say "YOU SUCK" in the "White and Nerdy" video.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Old Sears Wish Books getting archived on Flickr

Someone appropriately enough called Wishbook is scanning the entire contents of old Sears Wish Book catalogs and putting them on Flickr. There's only seven of the classic catalogs online so far (along with a few other retailers' Christmas catalogs) but what a joy it is to be able to look through these catalogs from years - and decades - gone by. Here's a page from the 1979 Wish Book, showing part of a two-page spread featuring Star Wars toys...
I actually used to have almost every Star Wars toy on this page! The only exception was the 13-inch Boba Fett figure. That's worth mentioning because this is the 1979 Sears catalog and Boba Fett didn't actually make his big-screen debut until the following year in The Empire Strikes Back. As far back as the Holiday Special in 1978 (which George Lucas will probably thank you for not thinking about) they were hard at work cultivating Boba Fett into a future bad-a$$ and he was already getting action figures made of him. As for who this "Zargon" guy is in the lower right-hand corner, I've a very vague recollection of the toy line he was from but it wasn't Star Wars: guess they needed someone as big as 13-inch Fett to balance out the rest of the page.

Anyways, if you have some time to kill, you might enjoy looking through the rest of Wishbook's photo sets. Which you'll probably wind up laughing at when you check out how people used to dress back in the early 70s and 80s.

TV ads from other school board candidates

The rest of this weekend is going to be spent finishing up my first-ever TV political advertisement. What will it be like? You'll just have to stay tuned and find out. I'll be posting it here after its done and it gets the nods of approval from my inner circle of trusted advisors. For a minute's worth of footage, it's sure involving a lot of work though.

In the meantime, two other candidates for Rockingham County Board of Education have television commercials already up and running. Being that I'm into filmmaking/video production and have ummmm... more than a little interest in this election, I thought it would be neat to post links to their commercials. If any other candidates produce commercials and put them online, I'll post links to theirs too.

So here they are: the first two candidates in the Rockingham County Board of Education race to have TV commercials. They are in Windows Media format so make sure you have the right player installed on your computer...

Eric H. Smith's commercial "No More Bricks"

(You can also watch Eric's commecial on YouTube)

Richard Moore's commercial "A New Sheriff"