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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The only thing I know to be said about 2008...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

-- Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities

No "end of year" review this time. I wouldn't know where to begin... or where to end it for that matter.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Doctor apparently used liposuctioned fat to fuel his car

Tyler Durden should have thought BIGGER...

Doesn't seem to be any dearth of weird news this past month. In the latest bizarro story, a Beverly Hills doctor is accused of running his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator with fat that he liposuctioned from patients. The doctor in question, Craig Alan Bittner, supposedly even bragged on his website that he had pioneered the creation of "lipodiesel". He's now in trouble with several former patients who allege that he disfigured them.

Maybe there's a silver lining to this strange situation. With a vast segment of the population dangerously obese, and there being such a demand for both environmentally and economically-sound energy, maybe "lipodiesel" is the silver bullet that can wipe out a whole slew of problems plaguing this country! We've all heard the old phrase "You are what you eat"? Maybe it's time for "You are what you drive"!

Oregon governor wants to use satellites to impose mileage tax

To quote that bard of our age Will Smith: "AWWW HELL NAWWWW!!!"

The state of Oregon has a problem, according to its governor Ted Kulongoski. In his words, "As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system."

So Governor Kulongoski wants to use Global Positioning System technology to impose a "mileage tax" that will "replace" the gas tax.

If his mad plan proceeds and you are an Oregon citizen, every time you take off in your car its movements will be monitored by your state government, and a tax will be imposed for each mile that you drive.

I'm gonna say it, my Worst Possible Epithet for Anything: This sucks donkey's balls to no end.

If Kulongoski gets away with this, it'll only be persisting the pattern that has gone on far too long in this country: government at every level thirsting for money and power, and abusing it when it gets it. Does anyone seriously believe this is going to supplant the gas tax in Oregon? Within a year of it being imposed, the state will decree that "not enough taxes" are being collected and the gas tax will be reinforced on top of the mileage tax.

Not to mention that this is an extreme violation of the Constitution, and the people's right to free movement.

Folks, and I'm not just talking about y'all in Oregon, please listen to me here: too much of the government of this country is out of control. The past few months alone should have indicated that much regardless of how obtuse an observer might be. The "bailouts" should never have happened, and we're getting taxed to the breaking point. At the rate this is happening, can it really be said that our children and their children will know of a free America as we once appreciated?

So the question becomes: what are we going to do about it?

If you are in Oregon, I hope and pray that you will pull out all the stops and resist this insane scheme by your governor.

United 93 families want Bush to steal land for memorial

Many of the families of passengers who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 want George W. Bush to approve a seizure by the federal government of the field where the ill-fated flight crashed on the morning of the 9/11 attacks. The families want to turn the field into a memorial.

In other words, these people want to implement socialism to commemorate freedom.

I have never liked "eminent domain" uses like this, which is what the United 93 families are trying to call the seizure. But this isn't for something needed like a highway or whatever. In this case it boils down to taking privately-held property (owned by Svonavec Inc.) by force of government, for benefit of a very few people.

Look, I think that what the passengers on United 93 did was courage personified. And their example is certainly something that all people can look to as an act of selfless abandon. But it is wrong to attempt to "memorialize" those who fought back on United 93 by violating the virtues of the country that they wound up doing everything in their power to protect.

You want to know what would be a much more appropriate memorial to United 93? Let the owners of Svonavec do with the field as they see fit. If "they" indeed "hate us for our freedoms" then what better way to give "the terris" a giant middle finger than to show 'em 2,200 acres of pure undefeated capitalism?

(Incidentally, 2,200 acres is how big the United 93 families want the memorial to be. Isn't the Vietnam War Memorial at Arlington something like one or two acres?)

Wouldn't surprise me if Bush approved the seizure in his final days as President. The man has shown so little regard for conservative values anyway: why should he feel obligated to demonstrate 'em now?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming in 2009 from KWerky Productions...

This afternoon I finished writing the first draft of the script for the first "episode" of a project that, Lord willing, we're going to start filming in the next few months. We've already found most of the cast too.

But before that, "Weird" Ed and I may be doing something that, I like to believe it'll have some significant social relevance. At the moment I can't help but think that it'll be along the lines of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without all the drugs.

And then, at last, I hope to begin shooting Keys, which has been my pet project for going on three years now. Had real life situations not intervened it could have been made already. But in a crazy sort of way the delay has helped make it a much stronger product. I've learned things as a writer and as a film-maker that are going to be poured into it. Yah there's been other projects I've been working on in the meantime, mostly for clients: now it's time to start filming for me. This past week a much better ending presented itself too, that I feel a lot more confident about.

Stay tuned to the official KWerky Productions website as we'll soon be updating it with more about all the good stuff we're working to roll out in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Nine :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

About the "Religious Review" blog (Plus: How Johnny Robertson spends Christmas!)

In the past week I've received three e-mails directing my attention to Religious Review, a newly established blog. And it's been asked if I'm the person behind it.

I am not. And I didn't even know about Religious Review until the last several days. But I certainly have to applaud whoever it is who set it up.

As was reported on this blog last month, "Religious Review" is the name of the bogus outfit that local cult leader Johnny Robertson came up with in his continuing bid to harass and intimidate the legitimate churches in this area. He and crony/second cousin James Oldfield have already been known to confront innocent individuals with hidden cameras and such. Now Robertson has recruited his own son to go out in the name of "Religious Review" and do the same.

So what sayeth the real Religious Review?

Folks have been talking about "Religious Review" since it was mentioned on "What Does the Bible Say?" recently. It's been said that for a multi-media company, it is strange that "Religious Review" doesn't have any sort of internet representation.

This blog is not affiliated with Johnny Robertson's fake "Religious Review". We don't go into churches with video cameras under false pretenses and pretend to be something we are not. We don't lie and mislead people so we can get juicy soundbites for church of Christ television broadcasts. That is the fake "Religious Review". We're real.

Whoever this person is, he/she is not alone in going after the "Church of Christ in Name Only" loons. Mash down here for a somewhat more crude response to Robertson's acts of un-Christlike bullying. It certainly does seem that lots of other people are beginning to stand up to the cult leader/convicted felon Johnny Robertson, aye?

And since we're on the subject...

For the most part I've been away from this blog for the past several days, doing "Christmas celebratin'" stuff with family and friends. Still, I've kept a watch on the stats from time to time, partly because it's been interesting to see where the traffic has been coming from regarding the story I posted here on Monday about the "angel" photograph at a Charlotte hospital. Probably been the most visits this blog's ever received during the holiday season...

...And one person in particular couldn't stay away from it for very long. According to the stats, Johnny Robertson (trust me, it's him) visited this blog for the better part of half an hour on Christmas Eve night, and then came to it at least four times on Christmas Day.

How someone uses their time is their own business. But really: to have nothing better to do on Christmas Eve night than to obsess about THIS blog?! And then to keep coming to it on Christmas Day?

That is pathetic beyond measure.

How did my loved ones and myself spend Christmas? Being thankful to God for what He has blessed us with. Seems like at least one other person was spending it harboring spite and resentment. That ain't understanding why Christ came to this world at all.

Johnny, go outside and play. Quit trying to wreck life for others just because your daddy did you and your momma wrong. There's a whole lot of wonderful things that God has made for you to appreciate if you'd only allow yourself that indulgence.

First poster for LAND OF THE LOST

Props to Cinematical for scoring the first look at the teaser poster for this summer's Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell and based on the television show from thirty years ago...

Friday night I watched Elf for the first time. It's a very funny movie! And it reinforced what I said a year ago when I first reported on this movie: that given a serious treatment of the plot, Ferrell could expand on the perception most folks have of him, 'cuz he would prove that he's capable of being a legitimate action star. Though from what I'm hearing Land of the Lost is still being produced as a comedy... which the original TV show was anything but.

Nice poster. I like the giant carved Sleestak especially. But color me "overly cautious" about this for the time being.

"Santa's helpers" disable traffic cameras with giftwrap in Arizona!

In August of 2001, I was p***ed-off enough about the "red light cameras" in Greensboro that I decided to do something about it. So I did some designin' in Photoshop, took it to a Kinko's and had it printed up huge and laminated, and for five hours in the hot sun stood next to one robosentinel that had particularly bothered me while holding a sign that read "SMILE: YOU'RE ON KOMRADE KAMERA!" Hee-hee-hee... got lots of supporters who honked in agreement as they drove past on Battleground Avenue.

So I think this next item is bigtime groovy...

Four people dressed as Santa Claus went around Tempe, Arizona a few days ago and put gift-wrapped boxes over three speed and red light cameras around the city. And for good measure they posted the video of their rebellion on YouTube...

It cannot be said enough: America is not her government. America is her people. When America's people lash out at government abuse, then that is the definition of a virtuous citizenry.

Bravo to you, "Santa's Helpers"! May others be inspired by your example! :-)

Garage-based amateurs now playing with genetic engineering

It's not likely that anyone will clone-up a velociraptor, but the Associated Press reports about the growing trend of "do it yourself genetic engineering" that a lot of people are experimenting with in the spare rooms and garages of their homes. Using equipment found on Craigslist and eBay, these burgeoning biotechnologists are involved with everything from working on melamine-sensitive bacteria, to implementing squid genes for phosphorescence to create glow-in-the-dark tattoos. Some say that these folks could eventually hit on a cure for cancer. Others are afraid that they'll cook up something like "Captain Trips" a'la The Stand.

Hey, this blog has already reported on folks experimenting with their own nuclear reactors. Gene splicing was the obvious next step, yah? :-)

VHS finally dies as last major distributor gives up business

It's the end of an era as VHS finally heads into the West along with Frodo, Ronald Reagan and Roy Rogers. The final shipment of the once ever-present tapes has left the warehouse of the format's last major supplier. The business's owner claims that the same will happen to DVD within a few years and that it'll yield completely to Blu-ray... but I kinda doubt it. The same was said of VHS more than twenty years ago when laserdisc enjoyed a brief rise in popularity as premium home entertainment. But Blu-ray's attraction is only going to really take off once the capability of recording discs becomes more common, and that ain't happening yet. And there's always gonna be a need for cheap data storage, and just about every Blu-ray player is backward compatible with DVD anyway.

But for the VHS, it is indeed "Farewell, my lovely". It cannot be said that it did not have a good run though. And between you and me Faithful Reader: nothing will ever tear me apart from my beloved - albeit outdated in more ways than one - VHS set of the original Star Wars Trilogy :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chris declares "The Next Doctor" the best DOCTOR WHO Christmas special yet!

This past season of Doctor Who has seen some of the best storytelling in the entire forty-five year history of the franchise. More than six months later and I am still as much in awe at "Forest of the Dead" as I am enthralled about what it hinted about the Doctor's future. And of course there was "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" two-parter that hailed the return of Davros: possibly the greatest villain in all of fiction.

So is it possible that the now-traditional Christmas special of Doctor Who could be just as up to par with what has already transpired in 2008? More to the point: could this year's special "The Next Doctor" please be much better than the glorious mess that was last year's "Voyage of the Damned"?!

In so many words: "Yes yes YES!!!"

"I'm the Doctor! Simply the Doctor! The one, the only, and the BEST!"

"You're mad! Both of you!"

"The Cyberking will rise."

"This is hardly work for a woman."

"But that's a screwdriver. How is it... sonic?"

"I was holding this device. The night I lost my mind. The night I regenerated."

"Okay. I think we should run!"

"It's Mercy."

"There she is: my transport through time and space. The TARDIS!"

The Doctor (David Tennant as the character's tenth incarnation), still without a companion following the events of "Journey's End", has arrived in a festive London square circa Christmas 1851. But as much as he is delighted by the sights and sounds of the holiday season, a woman crying out "Doctor!" snaps him back into full-tilt adventure mode. The Doctor runs down an alley and finds that it is a young lady named Rosita (Velile Tshabalala) who has been calling for him. But alas! Rosita does not take him seriously: she's been screaming for the Doctor and the Tenth Doctor is apparently not good enough. And then another man calling himself "the Doctor", played by David Morrissey, arrives at the scene. Could this possibly be a future generation of the Doctor? Just as it goes to the title sequence we witness both Doctors prepare to face down a Cybermen-manufactured monstrosity.

David Tennant announced in October that he would be leaving the role of the Doctor following this last batch of specials (which are being produced in lieu of a proper 2009 season). So the question early on becomes: is David Morrissey being primed to play the eleventh or even some other future version of the Doctor? Aye, 'twould be telling. But suffice it to say I loved his portrayal of the Next Doctor: it reminded me a bit of the Captain Hammer character from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog in terms of pure bravura, albeit touched with a hint of tragedy. From the getgo I found it easy to believe that this might be the Doctor that we know will eventually come (from how River Song described him in "Forest of the Dead"). That there is such great rapport between Next Doctor and Tennant's Tenth Doctor only helps to build the supporting case for this being a glimpse of a forthcoming regeneration (something which has never been done before in the history of Doctor Who). Velile Tshabalala is a lot of fun to watch as Rosita, and Dervla Kirwan (known for her previous work on Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart) turns in a positively menacing performance as Miss Hartigan. She's the proprietress of an orphanage and is betraying humanity to the Cybermen by helping them bring about the rise of the Cyberking: a Master Mold-ish "super Cyberman" with a factory in its chest that is ready to convert millions of people into Cybermen.

Last year's special, "Voyage of the Damned", was the perfect example of something that George Lucas noted years ago: that special effects without story backing them up are a dreary bore. Outgoing Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has learned his lesson well, because while "The Next Doctor" easily rivals "Voyage of the Damned" in terms of effects effort, it squarely remains a story focused on in-depth characters and engaging plot. Indeed, I will readily declare "The Next Doctor" to be the best Christmas special yet of the revived series! It's action-packed and replete with the drama, mystery and humor that Doctor Who at its best is renowned for. If I have one complaint though, it's that I think it's well past time for the Doctor on the new series to face down the "old school" Mondas-spawned Cybermen. The ones that menace the Earth in "The Next Doctor" are still the models from the parallel world that was first introduced in "Rise of the Cybermen". But I'm willing to let that slide this time, if only because of the Cyberking: one of the hands-down most brutally awesome spectacles that has ever been seen in a Doctor Who story.

"The Next Doctor" gets the full Five Sonic Screwdrivers on my Doctor Who rating scale. Well worth the time to download via Bittorrent from our Brittish brethren (of whom much thanks is owed for their work to put it on the Intertubes on Christmas Day!).

Next up for the Doctor: "Planet of the Dead", coming this Easter.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The indomitable Eartha Kitt has passed away

There is some irony that she died on Christmas Day, when her sultry Yuletide ballad "Santa Baby" always enjoys tremendous airplay...

Singer, dancer, actress, writer... and the greatest Catwoman ever. Orson Welles once called her "the most exciting woman in the world". Not a bad way to have spent 81 years of life. And a mighty far road to have come from the cotton fields of North, South Carolina.

This was the woman who, in my mind, defined what it truly meant to be sexy. And it had nothing to do with her ravishing good looks. It was Kitt's unrelenting spirit that enchanted her many admirers. All her life, she was her own person and she never backed down. Eartha Kitt told it like she saw it. It cost her years of a career in the United States following a now-legendary argument at the White House with a wrathful Ladybird Johnson. But Kitt came back. As she said in 1992, "I'm still here!", while everyone who had tried to stop her had already gone.

I think my favorite memory of Eartha Kitt was when she appeared on Politically Incorrect at the height of President Clinton's scandal with Monica Lewinski. Kitt said something that the sorry lot of elected officials in this land would do well to remember: "He's in our house!", talking about the White House... and how it did not belong to Bill Clinton at all, but to "the people". If that didn't scream out that she was smart sharp and sexy, I don't know what would.

The sensual, seductive, vivacious Eartha Kitt passed away today after a battle with colon cancer. She was 81.

And I must grieve that there does not seem to be any performer of my own generation who can even come close to the class and style that this fine lady had.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is this a photograph of an angel?

I said in my last post that I was taking off until Christmas unless something demanded reporting about. Well, I think this might qualify, 'cuz I can't make heads or tails of this photo. Is it the real deal?

WFMY News 2 is reporting about this strange image caught by a security camera at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte. Many people are saying that it depicts an angel outside the room of 14-year old Chelsea Banton, who had just been removed from life support after extraordinary measures had been taken by doctors to keep her alive. The physicians had said that there was nothing more that could be done. Soon after, Chelsea's aunt spotted the unusual "signature" on the monitor screen and alerted Chelsea's mother Colleen. The image was observed by numerous other people including hospital staff.

And immediately afterward, Chelsea Banton began to make a remarkable recovery. She will now celebrate her 15th birthday at home on Christmas Day.

I've gotten pretty good at analyzing pics from years of working with Photoshop. And dog-gone if I know what exactly this photo depicts. WBTV News 3 has the original story about the apparent angel sighting.

What do y'all think?

"...A Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."

As is the usual custom here at The Knight Shift blog, I am going to take the next few days off to celebrate Christmas. That's not to say there won't be blogging. If something obscenely crazy and dire comes up that demands writing about, I'll get back behind the keyboard and do my best to report about it. And let's not forget that there's the annual Doctor Who Christmas special that I'll no doubt be downloading, watching and then reviewing as soon as our Brittish brethren have it online :-)

But for the most part, I'm taking a break. And this is one Christmas that it hasn't been more needed.

The past few months have been one of the worst of my life. A lot of things have happened behind the scenes that I haven't touched on here. In many ways this is already set to be a Christmas that I'm not looking forward to...

...but in the past month or so there have also been a lot of good things that have begun to happen as well. I like to believe that it's God's way of telling me "I haven't given up on you Chris." 2008 had some wonderful moments and then tapering off wound up not a very good year at all... but 2009 holds so much promise already. I'm just gonna try my best to hold onto that hope, and put my faith ever more in Him, no matter what happens.

Speaking of 2009, there maybe some lulls in action on this blog as I work on some of what those "hopeful things" are. And Lord willing in the fullness of time I'll get to talk about what those are :-)

So if you've been reading this blog for a number of years, you know what's going to happen next. I'm going to repost the Christmas article that I wrote for The Pendulum, the school newspaper of Elon University, ten years ago in 1998. But before that happens, there is another - and far more notable - anniversary this Christmas...

It was forty years ago this Christmas Eve, on December 24th 1968, that the crew of Apollo 8 greeted the people back on Earth with a special message from mankind's first-ever orbit of the Moon. William Anders, and then Jim Lovell and finally Frank Borman read from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. It has come to be regarded as one of the most beautiful and moving television transmissions in history. Forty years later it has lost none of its power. So here it is: Apollo 8's Christmas message...

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas and God bless :-)

Originally published in The Pendulum, Elon University, 12/03/1998

Celebrating the Christmas season means celebrating the memories
Chris Knight

     Some of the best memories that we take through life are about the times we cherish the most. And sometimes, it doesn’t take much to bring back the joy.
     Last Friday as I was driving around Greensboro, the all-time coolest Christmas song ever came over the speakers.
     Who knows what this genius recording artist’s name is? Does it really matter? Whoever he is, he’ll forever be remembered as giving us the immortal sound of “Dogs Singing Jingle Bells”:

Arf arf arf,
Arf arf arf,
Arf Arf Whoof Whoof Whuf…

     Ahh... you know how it goes.
     And there’s the ever-beuh-beuh-beauh-beautiful rendition of Porky Pig singing “Blue Christmas” and the Chipmunks and of course “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Christmas at Ground Zero,” but hearing those dogs singing “Jingle Bells...” ahhhhh.
     It brought me back to the very first time I heard that: on the radio coming back from school just before Christmas in 1982. I was in third grade at the time. And it brought back memories of the Christmas we had.
     It was cold and very cloudy. I remember that because Santa had brought me a telescope and I didn’t get to use it that night. Which wasn’t too big a worry, ‘cause me and my sister had our brand-new Atari 2600 to play with!
     Another Christmas memory: To this day, I’ll never forgive Anita for the pounding she gave me in “Combat.” I don’t care how fancy Sega or the Playstation get... they’ll never touch the 4-bit pleasures of the Atari!
     There have been many a Christmas since then, and I remember each one well, for all the little things they had with them.
     I’ll never forget Mom and Dad taking me and my sister to see Santa Claus at the mall in ‘84. That morning Dad asked if I’d come with him to cut firewood, so we rode the tractor into the woods. There had been snow earlier in the week, which lay around us in the crisp, cold morning.
     Dad also brought his 30-30 rifle, why I still don’t know. After we had the wood loaded, Dad asked if I wanted to try shootin’ the gun.
     There I was, a ten-year old kid, holding what looked like an anti-aircraft cannon in my tiny hands. Well, I aimed at this tree like Dad told me to, and pulled the trigger.
     To this day I cannot describe the colors that flashed before my eyes, or the sound in my ears. When my existence finally returned, I was flat on my back in the snow, and blood was gushing from between my eyes where the scope had hit my nose from the backfire.
     That night Santa saw the bandages and said “Ho ho hoooo, and what happened to you, little fellow?”
     “I got shot, Santa,” was the only thing I knew to say.
     Hey, was I gonna lie to the Big Man? Uh-uh, no way was I gonna lose all that loot!
     The following year’s Christmas I remember for many things, but especially feeding the young calves on our farm. It would be the last year our family would be running a dairy farm, and I had started helping with some of the work around the barn.
     Dad set up a Christmas tree in the milking room, with wrapped-up boxes beneath it.
     Tinsel hung from the front doors of the barn. And there was something about the feel of the place there, that has always held a special place in my heart, as if we knew that there would not be another Christmas like this one.
     I wish there had been another Christmas on the farm, because there’s something I wish I could have seen. And as silly as some people might find this, I really believe that it happens.
     You see, if you go out at midnight on Christmas Eve, you will see all the animals in the farmyard, and in the fields, and in the forests, and wherever else they may be, stop where they are.
     And then they kneel.
     They kneel in remembrance for another night, long ago. It was Christmas, but how many people could know it then?
     Nothing remarkable, to be sure: Caesar had decreed a census through the land, and each man went with his family to his town.
     One man in particular took his wife, a young woman quick with child. But there was no room for them at the inn. So that night, in a dirty and filthy stable and surrounded by animals, a child was born.
     You see, it’s easy for us to forget. At this time of the year, we are too overwhelmed by the consumption and the material and the glitter /and all the customs that come with Christmas.
     And it’s too easy for us to forget that Christmas is, before everything else, a birthday.
     But the animals, who watched over Him as He lay as a newborn babe, two millenia ago... the animals have not forgotten.
     And so they kneel every Christmas and give glory to the newborn king, and in awe that God would send His Son to live among us in the greatest act of love.
     And to teach us many things, but especially to “love one another”. And to bridge the gap between man and God.
     The birth of Jesus Christ: the greatest Christmas present there will ever be. His birth, which would give mankind the greatest present it could ever ask for.
     Who in the world on that night could know the price that this present would someday have?
     Heaven and Earth sang praises to His glory on that night. The animals have always remembered that night. And Heaven and Earth still praise and sing unto Him.
     And if you only take a little time out from how busy things become at this part of the year, you can hear the singing, too. And it is a great temptation to join in that chorus.
     And perhaps in hearing, we will not forget the real meaning of Christmas, either.
     This Christmas Eve night I plan to be outside, with the same telescope that I got for Christmas all those years ago, and trying to envision a bright star over Bethlehem. Around midnight, I’m going to take a walk over to my aunt’s farm.
     Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men.

Dedicated to the memory of W.C. “Mutt” Burton, for whom Christmas was always “In My Bones.”

Maryland teens using speed cameras for revenge on teachers, others

Slashdot has a humorous story about high school students in Maryland who have targeted those "speed cameras" there for clever abuse. The kids are finding people they don't like - such as their most-hated teachers - and using laser printers and glossy paper to create high-quality copies of their prey's license plates. Then they scram past the cameras at excess speed with the bogus plates on their cars and make the teachers or whoever get slapped with a $40 fine a few days later! From all appearances there is no oversight or investigation: the fines get sent out automatically.

We should start doing this with the cars of a lot of busybody politicians and bureaucrats. What say ye?

First teaser for NORMALSVILLE

Marco van Bergen is a filmmaker that I've mentioned a few times on this blog not only because he's a really cool guy and good friend but because, well, he rocks as a filmmaker. Keep your eye on this up-and-coming director folks: he's definitely headed for good things!

So this morning he tells me that the first teaser for his new project Normalsville is done and that I oughta take a gander at it. So I did. Like, five times in a row. It's a right atmospheric and moody piece of work. Can't wait to see the rest of it (even though I've been "in the loop" on it for awhile :-) Check it out!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Many times, I have been asked "What kind of town is Reidsville like?"

Something like this...

The first time I saw Hobo With A Shotgun was Butt-Numb-A-Thon 9 last year. This short has won a bunch of awards and is now on track to becoming an actual full-length movie! And it cracks me up every time I watch it :-) Shoot here for the official website.

60 MINUTES blasts Transportation Security "theater"

I just finished watching Lesley Stahl's story on 60 Minutes about the Transportation Security Administration: what many consider to be the most worthless government agency ever created (thanks for nothing again George W. Bush). It pretty much encapsulated everything that a lot of us have been saying about the TSA since its inception. Namely, that it is absolutely impotent when it comes to apprehending real threats before they begin. One Congressional source cited in the report said that of the tens of thousands of travelers who had been stopped for TSA "interviews", not one was found to be carrying anything that could be deemed dangerous. That didn't stop outgoing TSA Administrator Kip Hawley from demanding that "THESE PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO KILL US!" as a justification for (1) harassing 90-year old ladies in wheelchairs and (2) the cushy job that the Transportation Security Administration gives him and thousands of others who otherwise could not find employment, gainful or otherwise. To this observer, it seemed more like the TSA bunch wants us to believe that they are somehow "superior" to us, that they "know more than we do" and thus we should shut up and accept them as a big brother.

Well, let me go on the record to say this: in seven years, I have never felt impressed or intimidated, at all, with the TSA goons. I have however had much incredulous laughter at their "security theater" antics. There is a reason why a lot of people call them "Too Stupid for Arby's".

For some thoughts about how there can be serious security on the airlines, without abusing the rights and convenience of American citizens and other travelers, read my proposal for the creation of "citizen marshals". Because the TSA and just about every other do-nothing agency has demonstrated that there is no faith at all to be had in government.

Hey Michael!

'Twas a pleasure meeting you today. And thanks for filling me in on how Harold and Stephen are doing! Drop me a line sometime and we'll compare comic books or something again :-P

Rest in peace RCA Dome

I just read on TheForce.net that yesterday in Indianapolis, Indiana the RCA Dome was imploded by demolition crews. The previous home turf of the Indianapolis Colts, the RCA Dome adjoined the Indianapolis Convention Center. That was the site of Star Wars Celebration II in 2002 and Celebration III in 2005. I attended both. The events never went inside the RCA Dome, but as we walked past the glass doors that opened into the floor level of the arena, we got to oggle it plenty. I remember the Saturday morning of Celebration II, there was a wild rumor that they were going to open up the RCA Dome that evening for an advance showing of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones following the Star Wars concert. The showing didn't happen, but it was sure fun to imagine all those die-hard geeks assembled in the RCA Dome to watch it. Good times!

Here's video of the implosion. I love this kind of stuff! All those timed explosions going off just right, making it so the building falls in on itself from its own weight. There's a bloody science to implosions and... in its own way it's a profound thing of beauty.

By the way, in case you're wondering (which I was too) the Indianapolis Convention Center itself did not get destroyed also! This is making way for an expansion to the convention center (perhaps in time for Star Wars Celebration V?) and the Indianapolis Colts are now playing in the brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Judge Dredd movie is in the works

If there is a comic book franchise that demands a cinematic reboot like what Batman Begins did, then Judge Dredd/2000 AD is it.

I must say though, that 1995's Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone is something of a guilty pleasure for me. I don't have it on DVD but whenever it comes on television, I always wind up settling back to watch it. It's what first drew my attention to the 2000 AD mythology. Judge Dredd from '95 did a lot of things right... but it also could have been so much more if you know anything about the comics.

Well, hopefully Judge Joe Dredd and the world of Mega City One will soon be getting the big-screen treatment that they deserve: a new Judge Dredd movie has been greenlit. It'll be produced by DNA Films, which has recently brought out such sci-fi movies as Sunshine and 28 Weeks Later.

Might I be the first to suggest that Christopher Eccleston would be perfect in the role of Judge Death? :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The last time we ever have to hear about this man...

O.J. Simpson has been transferred to Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada, where he will begin serving his 9-33 year sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery.

I well remember October 3rd, 1995: the day that the verdict in his murder trial was read. You could literally hear the gasps of disbelief all across the Elon campus. "I can't believe he got away with it!!" is what most people were saying.

"He didn't get away with it," I told one friend. "One day, and it may not be in a way that we will ever see, but eventually Simpson will be punished somehow, if he did it."

Does anyone today doubt that he did do it? Or that his personal character has, at last, come back to haunt him in a way that this time, he could not escape?

O.J. Simpson has been a festering keloid on the face of American culture for nearly fifteen years now. At last, we won't have to be bothered with him any longer. He made his bed (one of fifteen hundred at Lovelock), now he'll have to sleep in it.

New LOST trailer abounds with mysteries!

Cloaked monks working mathematics? Desmond telling Penny that he's leaving? People on fire? Sawyer speaking gibberish? More blinding light?

I have faith that this upcoming season of Lost will be one of the most legendary in television history. Just a little over a month now and the show returns!

Here are the GEARS OF WAR 2: THE SOUNDTRACK Steve Jablonsky-signed CDs contest winners!

A little over two weeks ago we started a contest on this blog. The spoils? Three copies of the Gears of War 2: The Soundtrack CD... personally signed to the winners by composer Steve Jablonsky (the creative force behind the musical scores for Transformers, Desperate Housewives and a wazoo-load of other movies and television shows and other stuff). But in order to be eligible to win one of 'em, entrants were asked to send in a picture of themselves doing their best impersonation of any character from established Gears of War canon. Not a "costume contest" so much as that this was about conveying character and heart.

So we were giving away three Steve Jablonsky-signed copies of Gears of War 2: The Soundtrack... and this was an easy contest to judge 'cuz three is exactly the amount of entries that came in! So the following three individuals will soon be getting their grubby lil' paws on one of the CDs. Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to Steve Jablonsky! :-)

The first winner is Mike Casteel from Burlington, Kentucky. Mike sent in this photo of himself posing as Chairman Prescott, the leader of the Coalition of Ordered Governments. Looking at this great pic, you can practically hear "Armored Prayer" playing in the background...

The next winner is Adam Solomon from Bay Shore, New York. He sent in this pic of himself as Marcus Fenix. Or as I like to call it: "Marcus getting out of the shower in the morning after a night of killing Grubs"...

And finally, there is Jay Ballance from Cranbrook, British Columbia. And Jay did not play it safe. He made what some might consider to be a very risky move by portraying a Gears of War character that we don't have a single image of at all! What did Jay do? In his own words...

"Carlos (Dom's older brother, from the book. From the chapter where him and Marcus are guarding the emulsion pipeline, in freezing temperatures.....lol)"
Yup, Jay went with Carlos Santiago from the novel Gears of War: Aspho Fields, complete with cold-weather garments (and check out that awesome cardboard Lancer!)...

Congrats to Mike, Adam and Jay! And we appreciate the effort and cleverness that you went to in this contest :-)

"Deep Throat" Mark Felt has passed away

"The most famous anonymous source in history", W. Mark Felt - the legendary "Deep Throat" who passed along the information about the Watergate scandal to reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that ultimately brought down President Richard Nixon - has passed away at age 95.

Felt's alter-ego was one of the greatest and most celebrated mysteries of American politics during the past fifty years. For more than three decades speculation continued to swirl about the identity of Deep Throat. It wasn't until the spring of 2005 that Felt came forward and revealed to the public that he was the informant who guided Woodward and Bernstein.

Was he a movie star or sports figure? No. But in his own way Felt was just as much a larger-than-life celebrity to those who came up in the Seventies and Eighties. Some will disagree with his motives and politics, but there is no argument that Mark Felt made a profound impact on the history of his country... and that's plenty enough reason to note his passing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Majel Barrett-Rodenberry, the First Lady of Star Trek, has passed away

I have a confession to make: one of the biggest reasons why I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation was because from the very beginning, I became a fan of Lwaxana Troi: the outrageous, overbearing mother of Deanna Troi, both hilariously and tragically portrayed by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

Of course, that wasn't Barrett's only connection to Star Trek. She was also Nurse Chapel in the original series. She played Number One in "The Cage": the first pilot episode of Star Trek. Hers was the ubiquitous voice of the Federation starships in the later series. And yes, she was the wife of Star Trek creator himself, Gene Roddenberry.

Just a few short days ago, it was announced that Barrett would be returning as the computer voice in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie later this summer. A lot of people rejoiced at hearing that news. And now those same people and many, many others are grieving at hearing that Majel Barrett-Rodenberry has passed away from leukemia at age 76.

It will certainly not be the same without her...

James Oldfield declares the Salvation Army is a work of evil on broadcast television

Folks, please understand that I am not on a "get the 'Church of Christ In Name Only'" binge tonight. Heck, I've so many projects on my plate right now that I'm pretty much relying on the reports that others have been sending me lately about the cult. Like earlier today when I posted that cult leader Johnny Robertson can't spell worth a hoot even as he condemns preachers of other (and in my opinion, legitimate) churches in the area.

And now later this evening, it is Robertson's chief henchman/second cousin who accompanied him from Texas, James Oldfield (heh-heh... bet y'all didn't know that the two were related, did ya?) who is up to no good.

Who is Oldfield and the "Church of Christ" cult (remember, it's not the real Church of Christ at all) going after this time? None other than the Salvation Army.

I came in from some errands tonight, and there were two e-mails practically screaming at me to tune in to WGSR Star 39. And I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it but sure enough, Oldfield is in "mad pit-bull" mode, assailing the Salvation Army for not being "the real church" and accusing them of all sorts of chicanery. Oldfield even used his hidden camera tricks on the head of the Salvation Army in Danville. As if that weren't bad enough, Oldfield told viewers that he and the "Church of Christ" do not boast about how they help people like the Salvation Army does... and then Oldfield went on to brag about how there was a frozen turkey in the trunk of his car that he was delivering to a fellow cult member!

I also happened to catch Oldfield condemning the Lord's Food Pantry in Eden. Which logically puts WGSR general manager Charles Roark in a bad position since apparently he was making a big deal about the Lord's Food Pantry earlier in the week, even staging a "telethon" to raise money for them to purchase food for needy folks. Which I think the Lord's Food Pantry is doing a good thing too. I think the Salvation Army has always been of immense service to others also, for the right reasons.

So why are James Oldfield and no doubt Johnny Robertson and the rest of the "Church of Christ" cult attacking them?

I can think of only one word at the moment: "jealousy".

Maybe Robertson and Oldfield should take the $15,000 that "the boys in Texas" send them for airtime each month, and put that money to some good use like the Salvation Army and the Lord's Food Pantry... instead of using it to harass and threaten others. They certainly have let it be known to enough people that they have no intentions but malicious ones.

(And some of y'all wouldn't buh-leeeeve what one person has told me in the past few weeks what he/she would do if Robertson and Oldfield came to their house again. 'Twould be enough to give one pause for sake of personal safety, no doubt.)

EDIT 11:02 p.m. EST: And what were Oldfield's concluding words on his broadcast tonight? "Don't put any quarters in those kettles."

A very wise man told me in recent days that Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield, and their cult were "of the spirit of the Antichrist" as the Bible puts it. If I had only their broadcast tonight to go by, I couldn't possibly doubt that.

Johnny Robertson (still) can't spell

Nobody can take a so-called "preacher" seriously when he chronically mis-spells words like "especially" and "scriptures"...

And Johnny Robertson is saying that another preacher is "confused"?

Kinda funny, isn't it? That there have been at least two major stories that happened in the area in the past few days, and WGSR general manager Charles Roark didn't see fit to have either of them reported over the air. The bigger priority at Star News is the illiterate cult leader from Texas: the one that Roark acts like an obedient dog to.

No birthday cake for Adolf Hitler

Geez louise, is this a day for weird news or what?

A grocery store in Pennsylvania refused to decorate a birthday cake for three-year old Adolf Hitler Campbell. His parents Heath and Deborah eventually got their cake decorated at a Wal-Mart. So now little Adolf will get to enjoy his cake along with siblings JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell.

Only in America...

Things that you do not expect your airline pilot to tell his passengers...

"I am not qualified to land the plane."

Okay, I can see how this one should be allowed to let slide. This is a pilot with thirty years of experience and of course he had landed plenty of times. It just happened that on this occasion he had to land in fog, which he didn't have the proper training and clearance for with the type of aircraft that he was operating. The pilot absolutely did the right and professional thing by turning around.

But still, I thought that was too funny not to post :-)

Mystery: Swiss watch found in 400-year old Chinese tomb

Shades of Michael Crichton's Timeline, or television's Lost: archaeologists are stumped at the discovery of a Swiss watch within a Chinese tomb that was sealed more than four hundred years ago. While excavating the Ming-era tomb in southern China, researchers heard a metallic object hit the floor. When they picked it up they discovered, encrusted with the detritus of time, a tiny watch stopped at 10:06 and with the word "Swiss" engraved on the back.

Four hundred years ago there were no watches. And Switzerland didn't even exist as the country as we know it today. The watch itself is thought to be around one hundred years old.

The archaeologists have stopped with the dig until experts from Beijing can arrive to help unravel the anachronistic riddle.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another sneek peek at the LOST Season 5 premiere

Jack and Ben are now apparently roomies at a Motel 6...

The greatest primetime drama in television history returns in just five more weeks!

The Smoking Gun's 2008 Mug Shots of the Year

For plenty more of hilarious mug shots like the one of Robert Morin above, mash down here.

A Star Wars horror novel?

That's certainly a different take on the saga. Yeah I remember the "Galaxy of Fear" books too but those were mostly done to cash in on the success of the Goosebumps series. To date there hasn't been a serious attempt at the horror genre within the Star Wars mythology. Until next November when Deathtroopers comes out. Author Joe Schreiber announced it on his blog and describes it as "in the vein of The Shining and Alien, with a little dose of William Gibson mixed in".

Sounds groovy. Can't wait to read it :-)

Former Bush official: 4000 Americans "had to die"

The lesser angels of my nature are wanting to cry out that stuff like this, is enough to make me think - however fleeting and regrettably - that if the "neo-conservatives" of this country were wiped out to a man, that this would have been a much better nation for it.

However, as a Christian, I have to fight against saying that I agree with that urge.

Frank Gaffney, former Assistant Defense Secretary and now with the "Center for Security Policy" (whatever the hell that is) declared on Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday that in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the Iraq War was begun on false pretenses, "My position is that it’s regrettable that any Americans died. It is regrettable that they had to die, but I believe they did have to die."

Here's the video...

I've thought for a very long time now that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their supporters have no sense, at all, of the value of human life. That they have no conscience or grasp of the soul like most people possess and as a result, that is why they have no regret at wasting the lives of others.

What if I or anyone else were to put a gun to Frank Gaffney's head, and blow his brains out, and then offered up the excuse that "he had to die"? What if someone did that to Dick Cheney's wife or either one of Bush's daughters? I mean, morally, it would be the absolute equivalent to what Gaffney is arguing: that people "had to die".

Who the hell gets to make that kind of judgment? How the #&@$ does Bush and Cheney and Gaffney get away with believing that God has anointed them with such power?!

Four thousand and more American families will be without a loved one this holiday season, because the psychopaths of the Bush Administration and the "useful idiots" who have backed them all this time, do not give a damn about anything but the raw, naked power they worship and make sacrifice to.

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

-- Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings

But then, since when has wisdom been a quality of George W. Bush and his supporters?

New York State budget: craziest taxes ever?

Governor David Paterson has revealed his $121 billion budget plan for New York State and it includes proposals that actually trump California's "snack tax" of the early Nineties in terms of utter lunacy. There are 88 suggested new taxes and fees, including for digital downloads of songs for iPod and other music devices, beer, soft drinks, cable and satellite television services, movie tickets, and massages (?!?).

This reminds me of 1993, when then-President Clinton was trying to pass a retroactive tax increase (which passed in Congress). I called my Representative in the U.S. House, who at the time was Steve Neal. Never got through to him personally (but then since when does a citizen ever get through to his or her Rep?) but I asked his staff numerous times: "When was the last time that a government taxed itself to prosperity?" They couldn't give an answer. Neither is Governor Paterson going to be able to provide one to the citizens of New York. If anything, these taxes are going to drive away people and businesses, making a dire situation for New York that much worse.

Popcorn Sutton sentencing delayed, again

Moonshine legend and American original character Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton has had his sentencing delayed for the fourth time. He and his many fans (of whom I am proud to consider myself one) will have to wait until January 26th 2009 to find out what's going to happen to Popcorn stemming from the raid by them "evil revenuers" on his 'shine operation in Tennessee back in March. For those who are just tuning in, Popcorn Sutton - who has achieved the status of mythic hero in the world far beyond his home in Maggie Valley, North Carolina - was the target of a bust when he started an operation across the state line in Tennessee. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BOOOO!!!) caught Popcorn running three 1,000-gallon moonshine stills and immediately set out to portray him as a diabolical fiend. Nothing could be further from the truth. Popcorn Sutton is simply, and without harm to anyone, practicing a fine form of art that reaches back countless generations into Appalachian culture.

And speaking of which, a few weeks ago filmmaker Neal Hutcheson sent me a DVD of his latest documentary The Last One. Hutcheson's films have enjoyed a lot of play on North Carolina Public Television and have often featured Popcorn in a few appearances. The Last One focuses entirely on Popcorn as he sets out to make (what he claims at the time anyway) his last batch of illicit booze. I'm gonna post a thorough review of The Last One here soon but after watching it, I cannot help but be compelled to say that I have even more sympathy for the moonshine industry. This is not something done purely out of a desire to brew some tax-free alcohol: more often than not it was done out of necessity, sometimes even for sincere medical purposes. Not like the government cares though: it seems to be the driving mission of the BATFE and every other guvmint agency to force us to purchase our goods from Wal-Mart instead of making good on our own, which is what Popcorn Sutton was trying to do.

As always, this blog will post updates on the Popcorn Sutton Saga as they continue to develop.

And one more thing: FREE POPCORN SUTTON!

Monday, December 15, 2008

THE BOHEMIAN TRAVESTY: What does Chris Knight singing karaoke sound like?

Last night at Woodmont United Methodist Church in Reidsville, we had the strike party for Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Oliver Twist. Tony Hummel (who played Mr. Brownlow) brought his karaoke machine. And during the festivities I did something that I had been asked to do several times over the past few weeks, mostly from people who heard about what happened at the Children of Eden strike party in June.

So here it is: Yours Truly singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen...

The photograph that will forever define Bush's legacy

And to think that all this time, George W. Bush thought that the Iraqis would throw flowers at his feet... not shoes at his head:

An Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference yesterday in Baghdad and called him a "dog". In most Mid-East cultures, showing someone the soles of your shoes is considered the ultimate - and often mortal - insult.

You know what I can't help but think about this incident? Theodore Roosevelt was once giving a speech and someone tried to assassinate him. The bullet hit something in Roosevelt's chest pocket, didn't penetrate his body at all. T.R. jumped off the podium and commenced to beating the living crap out of the assailant with his bare hands. Now how come "tough guy" George W. Bush didn't do something like that yesterday?

George W. Bush, "Liberator of Iraq", having to duck a shoe being thrown at him. Yup, that's his "legacy" right there...

OLIVER TWIST production ends (almost) solid string of performances

Yesterday afternoon was the final performance of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Oliver Twist. Thankfully we had none of the "problems" that kept us from going through the entire show on Saturday night. There was still a whiff of the smoke lingering around the building, but that didn't deter a strong audience from coming to enjoy the story of orphan Oliver Twist and his search for identity in 1840s London.

After the show ended and the audience had left, the entire cast and crew stuck around for another hour and struck the stage, tidied-up the rooms that we had been using in the Advanced Technologies Building at Rockingham Community College, and pretty much did our best to make sure that everything was cleaner than how we found it when we first started production back in October. After that, it was just a matter of stowing the sets and props at the Theatre Guild's warehouse, and then we headed to the fellowship hall of Woodmont United Methodist Church in Reidsville for the traditional strike party.

(Speaking of which, there will be video of this that I will be posting in the next few days. Something that a lot of people have been curious about and have asked me to do over the past several months :-)

Next up for the Theatre Guild: Monster in the Closet and 101 Dalmations, and then in the summer of 2009, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

FIRE IN A CROWDED THEATER! Audience and cast flees smoke-engulfed building during fifth performance of OLIVER TWIST

LEGAL NOTICE - I reserve the right to enforce copyright for the photographs and text in this article per the following terms: Star News Corporation, WGSR Star 39, News Channel 18, Charles Roark, and any and all agents and clients thereof, are explicitly prohibited from using any of the photographs and text in this article for broadcast purposes without express written permission from me. Which is not going to happen anyway. Any violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any LEGITIMATE news reporting operations however may contact me at theknightshift@gmail.com, as I will be more than happy to provide such agencies with high quality versions of the photographs free of charge as a courtesy.
UPDATE 11:50 p.m. EST: Well, this was certainly a night to remember...

Tonight's performance of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Oliver Twist came to an abrupt end when shortly before 9 p.m. and in the midst of Act 2, the audience, cast and crew had to be evacuated from the Advanced Technologies Building following a large amount of smoke which engulfed the ground level of the building. As of this writing the cause of the smoke had not been determined.

And since I'm playing Mr. Sowerberry in this production, I wound up right in the thick of the action.

Shortly before 9 p.m., Tamara Boles - mother of cast member Aaron Boles - rushed into the men's dressing area to tell us that "There's a fire in the building... I'M SERIOUS!" I was getting ready to take position for my last scene in the show so I was in full costume. We got all the kids out of the room and I grabbed my bag since it was right at the door. Kathy Morrison (who plays Old Sally and Mrs. Bedwin) and I held the outside doors open for the audience members as they were leaving, then we went back in to check to make sure that all the children had made it out and that there was nobody in the restrooms.

When we were outside, I broke out the camera, went back in and started taking some pictures. Here are some pics from the atrium in the Advanced Technologies Building, where the smoke was concentrated most...

Outside, stage manager Jessica Reed directed the audience members to take shelter in the nearby gymnasium. Meanwhile, we began to hear sirens from the Wentworth Fire Department...

A few moments later the first of the fire trucks arrived on the scene...

We counted six vehicles from the Wentworth Fire Department that came within the first several minutes. By this time most of the audience, cast and crew were in and around the gymnasium.

And here are the heroes of the hour: Michaela Mays and Faith Jones, the two girls who were the first to spot the smoke and sound the alarm. Ladies, my hat's off to you! :-)

Here is Jon Young, the director of Oliver Twist. It can most certainly be said that his was, literally, the hottest show in town on Saturday night...

And here's a pic of Thresa Brown (who has been giving absolutely splendid performances in her role as Mrs. Sowerberry) and Yours Truly as we oggled the mayhem...

A few minutes later, I was back inside the Advance Technologies Building. By this time it was around 9:20 p.m. Firefighters and a number of the adult cast and crew and other Theatre Guild reps were discussing the situation and considering what to do with the rest of the evening. Here is Mark Pegram, Clerk of Superior Court for Rockingham County (in his policeman costume) and a member of the Wentworth Fire Department...

Here is a ladder used by the Wentworth Fire Department as firefighters checked the space above the ceiling in the atrium, which seemed to have been where much of the smoke was coming from...

The stage, showing the London street toward the end of Oliver Twist, just as it was when the building had to be evacuated...

Theatre Guild board members Jeff Mericle, Rose Cutuli Wray, and Tony Hummel (in his Mr. Brownlow costume) confer with each other about how to handle the rest of the performance. It was ultimately decided that in the event that the next day's performance would go on, that tickets from tonight would be honored and that audience members who had come from out of state would be given free tickets to a future performance...

Cast members Tim Wray (Fagin) and Mike Morrison (Bill Sikes) held position at the exit...

Here's another shot of the fire trucks on the scene...

Back in the gymnasium, the crowd was calm... but it couldn't be helped that there was considerable excitement in the air. Especially among the kids in the cast: no doubt they were going to have quite a tale to tell their friends the next day! Here are Tish Owens (Nancy) and Tyler Alverson (Noah Claypole)...

Nell Rose, one of the members of the Rockingham County Board of Education. She and her husband had already enjoyed one performance of Oliver Twist last week, and came back for another show. 'Cept this time, the cast members were just as surprised as the audience about the ending (credit goes to Pete Barr for coming up with that great line :-)...

The star of the show: Nathan Tolodziecki as Oliver...

Logan Brown (who plays one of the orphans) and Tamara Boles...

And here is Jake Chandler, who thrilled audiences as Dr. Roy in last season's Ghostchasers!, and who has been playing another orphan in Oliver Twist...

By this time it was getting close to 10 p.m. Most of the audience had left, but the cast and crew was still around. We were waiting to hear when we could go back inside 'cuz most of the cast still had things like clothes and car keys in the dressing rooms. What exactly had caused all that smoke still had not been determined, but firefighters allowed the cast and crew to quickly return to the building and retrieve their personal belongings...

Jasper Thomas III (in his fine attire as the Artful Dodger) scopes out the scene...

Cast members Tish Owens and Donna Owens head to the parking lot as the cast and crew retreated from the building...

Another shot of the emergency vehicles, just before I left a little after 10...

And here's the last shot, taken from the driveway entrance and looking toward the Advance Technologies Building...

So far at this hour, we still haven't heard what might have caused all that smoke (believe you me, the pics can't possibly convey how much of the stuff there was). We didn't see any actual flames but you know, "Where there's smoke..." Without knowing about what the source of the smoke might have been, there has been no word so far as to whether tomorrow's final performance of Oliver Twist will be taking place. As soon as I hear anything, I will post it as an update.

It was a wild night, to be sure. But I think for the most part, especially for the kids in the cast, it's just gonna make their time and effort in this production that much more memorable :-)

Bigtime kudos to the Wentworth Fire Department, the maintenance and security staff at Rockingham Community College, the leadership of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County, and anyone else that I have not already mentioned who were involved in evacuating the building and making sure that everyone was safe, for the very prompt and professional action that they took tonight.

EDIT 1:06 a.m. EST 12/14/2008: I have just received word that the Wentworth Fire Department found the cause of the smoke (what that was exactly still hasn't been reported). They have given the signal that we can proceed with the final performance of Oliver Twist on Sunday afternoon (now later today) at 2:30. So the show will go on! :-)