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Monday, May 31, 2010

And now we've lost Dennis Hopper

Most of y'all heard that by now. He passed away Saturday. So in a few days' time we've lost Art Linkletter, Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper.

He was quite the memorable sort, no matter what he was in: be it Easy Rider or Speed or the first season of 24 or even the otherwise atrocious Super Mario Brothers movie (where he played King Koopa).

Somehow, his recitation of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" seems a most appropriate tribute to his life and career...

Rest in peace Mr. Hopper. And were I a drinking man, I'd open up a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and raise a toast in your memory.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman has passed away

Breaking on news outlets all over this afternoon.

Attorney subpoenas red-light cameras to appear in court (they didn't, she won)

Something very similar to this happened to me in 2002, but I don't pretend to be an attorney so I couldn't do it as awesomely kewl as Georgia attorney Regina Quick did in court this week. I had to speed through a red-light camera intersection in Greensboro 'cuz the car behind me was about to rear-end me hard. A week later the citation came in the mail, and I didn't think it was fair.

So I filed a subpoena at the courthouse in Greensboro to have the source code for the software operating the cameras be given to me, so that I could "cross examine" it. 'Course, my real motive was to post it on the Internet so that better heads than my own could examine it.

Suffice it to say, my case was dropped like a hot rock.

At trial in Athens-Clarke Municipal Court on Tuesday however, it was the red-light cameras themselves which had been summoned to court in order to testify against two of Miss Quick's clients. The cameras were a no-show, and the judge found in favor of the defendants.

The story goes on to say that Athens-Clarke County is considering installing more of the cameras at intersections. Which tells me that they are another government jurisdiction with a budget shortfall, and is looking at making up for it by putting the safety of its citizens at risk. The Palm Beach Post this week ran a story in which it found that red-light cameras cause the rate of rear-end collisions to soar to more than double what they had been before the cameras were put in place. Figure that it's common knowledge by now that the duration of the yellow light at these intersections is usually much shorter than at a non-camera "assisted" intersection, and that the private companies under contract to run these cameras are profiting from each guilty citation, and there's a lot of reason to despise these things.

Remember: a robot is not a citizen. Not yet anyway. It doesn't enjoy the rights under the Constitution that you and I have. So if a droid sends you to court, dare it to take the stand.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST: The Man in Black's real name revealed (and other stuff)

First of all, and I don't know if anyone else has made note of this but this final season of Lost borrowed a lot from Marvel Comics' Earth X trilogy that Alex Ross and some others did about a decade ago. If you're not familiar with the series, a big part of the story (which consisted of Earth X, Universe X and Paradise X) was about an "afterlife" that the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe were stuck in, unaware that they were dead and because of that, unable to move on. The Kree hero Mar-Vell winds up getting himself re-born in the real world even as he's still in the realm of the dead (much like Desmond was working in the real timeline and the "alternate" timeline). In the end heroes and villains alike realize their state and get to "let go and move on" to a new world that Mar-Vell had been conspiring across space and time to prepare for them. All except people like Kingpin who decided they wanted to have power in the world of the dead just as they had in the living. The only other ones who didn't move forward were people like Captain America who - very much like Benjamin Linus did - chose to "stay behind" awhile and work some things out before being able to let go.

I've been thinking that ever since reading the title of the sixth season's premiere, "LA X", that the Lost showrunners might be more than paying a homage to what happens to be one of my favorite Marvel stories. And, looks like I might have been right :-)

Anyhoo, the series finale aired almost 36 hours ago but the discussion and debate is just getting started... and threatens to continue for the next thirty or forty years. It's pretty clear by now that we won't be getting solid answers to everything (and I'm glad that we aren't) but lo and behold we have got a few answers to some burning questions, thanks to Kristin Dos Santos from E! Click on the link to watch the video which puts to rest a bunch of mysteries. Such as... the Man in Black's REAL name!

Yup, he had one even though it wasn't ever mentioned on the show. But it did appear in the scripts though Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof decided against letting the audience in on it.

But in case you're wondering, the Man in Black's real name is Samuel (an old Hebrew name meaning "man of God"). Jacob and Samuel: I like that. Has some symmetry to it.

Other things noteworthy from the video: the "Kwon" written on the wall of Jacob's cave was Jin, since Sun was removed from consideration as a candidate by Jacob because, like Kate, she became a mother. Whoever it is that is protector of the Island can cause the Island's weather to also change (which will no doubt have many going back to look for the times when it started raining during dramatic moments). The voice that Locke heard in the cabin in "The Man Behind the Curtain" was that of the Man in Black/Samuel.

And the DVD/Blu-ray release will reveal what happened to Walt. I'm thinking that he has already "moved on" but his time on the Island wasn't as important as it had been to Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the rest. Walt still had all his life left to live and prepare for that moment, in his own way. Who knows: maybe Michael also was able to finally enter into it, eventually. And I'm wondering if that scum Keamy is now eternally damned because he chose to remain the bastard that he was when he was still alive. I can't remember any other time during the "flashsideways" that a character was shown to have died, and I can't imagine him ever wanting to go inside the church... but who knows?

Indeed, who does really know? Lost's departure with so much unanswered still, well... more and more I'm seeing how that's a good thing. It kept drawing faithful viewers because we all loved speculating and analyzing stuff, and set itself up to keep doing that even after the show itself had "let go".

In a cyclical sorta way, I find that rather appropriate :-)

These guys sank a basket from a flying airplane

Dude Perfect, a group of guys from Texas A&M specializing in basketball trick shots. And they have set the Intertubes ablaze with this insanely awesome "nothing but net" shot from a low-flying airplane!

Check it out...

From what I understand, it only took them two attempts to make the basket.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nine hours after "The End" of LOST...

...and I am still stunned and numb by how powerful and poignant that was.

I don't mind sharing this at all: the closing minutes of the series finale of Lost, very beautifully articulated many of the hopes that I have come to have across my life.

If you want to know what Chris Knight's image of Heaven is like, that final scene inside the church is pretty darned close: reunions, reconciliations, rejoicings... and moving on together.

This finale hit me in places that I didn't realize needed hitting upon. Lost on the morning after, and somehow I'm feeling more appreciative. More thankful. More hopeful.

This was only the second television series that I've followed this intently in my life. The first was Babylon 5. And in the end both of these shows brought me to tears for all the right reasons. But I don't know if anything has been as emotionally jarring as Lost became. Maybe that's because I watched it through all the way to the end with more lifetime behind me to make me consider it more.

Honestly don't know what else to say about this folks. I am just plain overwhelmed by this story and its magnificent conclusion.

Anyone else feeling it too? :-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

LOST series finale was one for the ages!!!

Dear Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and everyone who has been involved with Lost during the past six years:

That was time well spent. All of it.

And in "The End", you brought it to a perfect, astounding and beautiful conclusion.

The greatest praise that can ever be given a story is the sense that the reader or the viewer is coming away from it a better person than he or she was before picking up the book, or tuning in to the show. And that the story now belongs on the shelf with the others, to be brought out again and enjoyed many more times in years to come.

Lost made me think a little more, cry a little more, laugh a little more... and it's leaving me a better person. And I shall certainly enjoy rediscovering this story and these beloved characters many, many more times during the rest of my life.

Best. Series. Finale. Ever. And just as Lost should, it leaves one having to think things through, even now.

To all of you on the west coast: you have no idea what awaits you. Nothing in your wildest dreams can prepare you for how good "The End" is.

But I give you fair warning now: keep the tissues handy.

To everyone involved with Lost: Thank you. You have delivered the greatest mythology that the television medium has ever produced. Thank you for bringing us along for such a remarkable journey.

This is Chris Knight, Lost viewer and blogger since 2005, signing off on the last post-show reaction to a Lost episode that I'll ever write.

Top Ten Greatest TV Series Finales (so far)

Well, this is it. In a little less than thirteen hours from now Lost will have aired its series finale "The End" and this most iconic television shows of the past decade will belong to the ages.

I had originally thought of doing a "Top 23 Lost Episodes" feature on this blog, but everyone and his brother is probably doing that today already anyway. So instead, how about we take a look at what many consider to be the best and most unforgettable final chapters of some classic television series. Will Lost's stack up to these? We shall soon see...

10. The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "The Last Show"

One of the funniest television comedies ever went out solid, on-top and just plain hilarious right up to the final moments! This is how to end a sit-com, people! And hey in retrospect, having Betty White in it made it all the better! The "group hug" where everyone embraces and reaches for the tissues en masse has become one of the most beloved (and parodied) scenes in television history. Such a testament to a show that took its bow in 1977.

9. Star Trek: The Next Generation: "All Good Things..."

Some die-hard Trekkies are prolly gonna jump flunky all over me with "...but Deep Space Nine's finale was much better!" I can see where that can be argued but let's face it: "All Good Things..." broke the ground for how a Star Trek series should wind down (barring the inevitable movies 'course). Not just an excellent episode in its own right, but brilliant as a "bookend" piece to the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" seven years earlier. But personally, my favorite part of "All Good Things..." was the very last scene: Captain Picard finally taking a seat at the poker table with his colleagues. If there had been nothing further done with The Next Generation cast of characters, that would have been the perfect note to have closed their story out with.

8. Cheers: "One For The Road"

"Sorry, we're closed." Sam Malone straightens up a few things around the place - hearkening back to his appearance in the very first episode - and then a quiet shot of the bar at night. That's all that was needed for this, one of the most exquisitely executed finales ever for a television series. By the way, to date I've never seen an episode of Frasier and it's partly because of "One For The Road": this is how I most wanted to remember Cheers and its characters. With everyone happy and Sam realizing that he is indeed "the luckiest son-of-a-bitch on Earth".

7. Six Feet Under: "Everyone's Waiting"

Many have called this the finest series finale... ever! I don't know about that since in my mind it borrowed too much from the series finale of Blake's 7. But if you're gonna kill off EVERYONE among your cast of characters, Six Feet Under did it with dignity rather than forcing viewers to watch them get violently dispatched one by one.

6. The Sopranos: "Made in America"

"Don't stop..." Hard cut to black. The ensuing bewilderment was so thick it could have been cut with a knife. Three years later and loyal fans of The Sopranos still debate what happened to paterfamilias Tony Soprano in those final moments. Ultimately, it is simply... what it is. And I think that with the passage of time many others will agree that this was not only one of the best finales ever, but the spot-on perfect way to end The Sopranos' run.

5. The Prisoner: "Fall Out"

And then there are some television series that the passage of time does nothing to lessen the confusion and controversy! Witness "Fall Out", the last episode of The Prisoner. Look, I don't know of how else to put it than this: anyone claiming to completely understand "Fall Out" is either a genius savant, or outright lying. The only person in history who ever did "get" The Prisoner and its bewildering final chapter was series creator and star Patrick McGoohan... and he passed away last year. So strange was "Fall Out" that broadcasting network ITV's phone system crashed within a few hours of it ending and McGoohan had to go into hiding for several weeks because people kept coming to the door of his house demanding answers (Lost producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof should take note!). More than forty years later, The Prisoner fans are still trying to suss it all out.

4. The Fugitive: "The Judgement"

"Tuesday, August 29: The day the running stopped." Dr. Richard Kimble had been an innocent man on the lamb for 120 episodes across four seasons, trying to stay one step ahead of Lt. Philip Gerard while also trying to track down the one-armed man who was the real murderer of Kimble's wife. Until the "Who Done It" episode of Dallas this had been the most-watched episode of television in American history. Couldn't have ended better than this: Dr. Kimble a man exonerated, leaving the courthouse... and shaking hands with Lt. Gerard before starting out to begin a new life.

3. M*A*S*H: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"

The one television episode that almost destroyed the entire New York City sewer system! With 77% of the country's TV sets tuned in to the last episode of M*A*S*H after an eleven-year run, so many people waited until the show was over to use the bathroom: all those toilets flushing at the same time wrecked havoc with Manhattan's water pressure. Curiously, for an episode of M*A*S*H that was two and a half hours long (as opposed to its regular half-hour format) this is probably the least funny episode of the entire eleven seasons. Looking back, it was like Alan Alda wanted to ramp up the "war is hell, dammit!" for the last episode even as the ink was drying on the armistice in Kaesong. But even so, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" remains a most fitting capstone to a sitcom about war and dying that lasted nine years longer than the actual Korean conflict.

2. Babylon 5: "Sleeping in Light"

You know that this series finale stands out from the rest when even the credits rolling at the end are enough to break your heart (thanks in no small part to composer Christopher Franke's epic score). Creator J. Michael Straczynski fought tooth and nail for five years to bring Babylon 5 to this: the final moments of the series, set twenty years after the story proper. And when it came time to turn out the lights on that last best hope all alone in the night, who better than Straczynski himself (playing the technician, and just look at that mixture of relief and sorrow on his face) to hit the switch? This is just about the most PERFECT episode of television in the history of anything. There hasn't been a show like it or since... and I really don't know if anyone else will come close to pulling off what Straczynski and his crew did with Babylon 5.

And the #1 Greatest TV Series Finale (so far) as listed by The Knight Shift's eclectic proprietor is...

1. Newhart: "The Last Newhart"

Awright look, I gotta get this off my chest: I am absolutely positive that I read somewhere back when this show was running that the name of the town in Vermont where Newhart took place was "Johnnycake Lake". I read that in a television listing magazine that came with the local paper, but to this date I haven't seen that name given anywhere and in fact most authorities say that the town's name was never given. Maybe it's called "Newhart": which sorta has a Vermont-ish/New England sound to it. But anyhoo, even before this episode aired twenty years ago this week in 1990, it was arousing no small amount of crazy interest. Most of it had to do with the rumor that Bob Newhart's character, the longsuffering Dick Loudon, was going to get killed off! The tidbit about him getting hit in the head with a golf ball had even leaked out well in advance. What happened? Well when Dick really did get conked on the noggin by the errant ball and began slumping down in slow-mo, many viewers immediately turned their TVs off, numbstruck with horror! But those who kept watching were treated to one of the most clever and funniest wraps to a television show ever: Newhart's character Dr. Robert Hartley from The Bob Newhart Show waking up bed in his Chicago apartment and telling his wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette) about "the dream I just had!" The idea to have the final scene take place on the bedroom set of The Bob Newhart Show had been that of Newhart's wife. And the episode is also memorable for featuring the only occurrence during Newhart's eight-season run in which Larry's brothers Darryl and Darryl actually spoke ("Quiet!") I hope and pray that more Newhart season DVDs will be coming out: 'twill be worth it just for the buildup to "The Last Newhart".

And those are the ten greatest and most memorable finales to various television series, up 'til now, per my rough reckonin'.

Might Lost join the ranks as one of the most renowned? We'll find out tonight. But no matter what, these ten and others that I could also mention (including St. Elsewhere and The Cosby Show) will definitely stand the test of time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I have some very tragic news to report

Well, not tragic for me anyway. But this will come as absolutely heartbreaking news to the very many would-be suitors who have written in during the past several months asking if my extremely beautiful, incredibly sweet and saintly-in-spirit cousin Lauryn was taken.

She is now! :-)

Now don't y'all worry: I shall continue to post pictures of her whenever there is dire need to publish something aesthetically pleasing on The Knight Shift (which is more often than not). However this will affect some changes to my task.

So to celebrate the occasion, and to mark the passing of the shotgun some of my duties, here is a new photo of Lauryn... along with her FATHER, the elusive and enigmatic Bob!

Perhaps someday I shall be able to also post a photo of Lauryn's brother Robbe, if he ever walks back out of that jungle...

Friday, May 21, 2010

PAC-MAN is 30 years old tomorrow... and check out how Google is celebrating!

Of all the clever logos that Google has done to mark various occasions and moments in history, this is by far the kewlest. Tomorrow is the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of Pac-Man, and Google has a fully-playable Pac-Man logo up!

Use your keyboard's arrow keys to move Pac-Man around the maze. Other than the customized Google design it plays EXACTLY like the arcade original: including 255 screens and the 256th "kill screen". It even has the act breaks!

Thanks to Chad Austin for the heads-up! And hey, while we're on the subject of celebrating video gaming's first bona-fide hero, how about we also play "Weird Al" Yankovic's never-officially released parody of The Beatles' "Taxman"? Here's a homemade music video of "Pac-Man"!

"What Does Spider-Man Say?"

Many egotisticial nutcases in history have had pastimes. Fidel Castro almost made it as a professional baseball player. Charles Manson wrote songs. Even Hitler painted roses.

And apprently local cult leader Johnny Robertson of the Martinsville Church of Christ (part of what many are now calling "Sons of Hell" and "Stalkers for Jesus") is not exempt.

Here's the original photo that was sent in by "Code Name Exelsior"...

This photo was taken inside Martinsville Church of Christ's sanctuary. That's Johnny Robertson himself in the left of the picture, and fellow cultist/stalker (and partner with recently found-guilty criminal trespasser Micah Robertson) Mark McMinnis in the plaid shirt sitting down.

Have you spotted it yet? Is your "Spider-Sense" tingling?

Well if not, behold true believers!

I count at least nine and possibly more Spider-Man comic books sitting in a pile on the pews of Martinsville Church of Christ. The headquarters of the cult that puts out What Does The Bible Say?, A Word From The Lord and Religious Review on WGSR: live TV broadcasts where Robertson and his cronies do nothing but condemn everyone else for such imagined slights and sins as having church car washes and bake sales, instrumental music and books during church worship that aren't the Bible.

Yet there it is, most presumably during a worship service at Martinsville Church of Christ: a heap of Marvel Comics and within arm's reach of its head magus. And not only that but Marvel Comics featuring Spider-Man: a character whose fathers include two Jewish comic book legends (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)! I could also note that Spidey's co-creator Steve Ditko also created Doctor Strange and worked on the New Gods at DC for awhile, so it could be argued that Johnny Robertson is also allowing "eastern religions" and pagan worship inside as he puts it "the church that you read about in the Bible".

Johnny Robertson you damn hypocrite: sit down and SHUT UP, sir!

And you thought it was bad enough that Robertson gets the Bible all twisted and convoluted. Lord only knows how he would interpret the X-Men books.

But as one trusted associate put it when I showed this photo to him: "Of course, I did wonder if comic books is where Johnny Robertson gets his theology from."

Feel free to post whatever clever and snide captions and comments you can think of!

(P.S.: Speaking of hypocrisy, why is Johnny Robertson giving more than a quarter of a million dollars of his congregation's money per year to a multiple-convicted criminal, habitual thief and bisexual purveyor of "filthy" entertainment?)

Still the best...

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back opened in theaters thirty years ago today, on May 21st 1980.

And thirty years later, it's still the finest chapter of the entire Star Wars cinematic saga.

Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol to hit paid lecture circuit

The more that I've examined the so-called Sarah Palin "phenomenon" the less impressed I have become with the former Alaska governor. My respect for her would shoot through the stratosphere if Palin would completely ditch the Republican Party machine and seriously "go rogue". But as it is she's too beholden to the ones who "brung her to the dance".

But the biggest reason why I'm tremendously leery of Sarah Palin isn't so much with the lady herself as it is with her followers... and what Palin isn't doing to put the brakes on what she has become: a cult of personality.

I despise cults of personality. Lord knows we've seen too many of them in this country in recent years. The cult of personality surrounding George W. Bush was abominable. It might have been even worse than the one engendered by Barack Obama. The United States has suffered three consecutive administrations of Presidents with severe narcissistic disorders: God knows we don't need another.

Now comes word that Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol Palin, is about to hit the road as a paid speaker. Price per appearance: between $15,000 and $30,000.

I don't know what's more sad: that young Bristol's qualifications for the lucrative lecture circuit comprise of little more than being her mother's daughter and getting knocked-up, or that I know fully well that there will be gads of people who will pay good money to see her talk.

Like I said: cult of personality. And there's plenty of $$$ to be made from it.

Kevin Costner's invention could clean up BP oil spill

Before anything else in this post, I'm gonna get this off my chest: I've never understood why Waterworld has such a bad rap. I saw this movie during its first week in theaters in 1995 and thought it was pretty good. Not overwhelmingly "excellent", and the science behind it is atrocious (namely that there isn't enough water in the polar caps to cover the Earth's surface if they melted) but Waterworld was still a great action flick that has only gotten better with age.

Anyhoo, that photo is Kevin Costner at the till of his vessel in Waterworld... and not Kevin Costner at the controls of his very own real life invention: the "Ocean Therapy" water cleansing system. Who'da thunk that all this time he was making Waterworld, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Open Range, that Costner was also working behind the scenes with millions of dollars of his own money to develop the system?

Well, it now looks like Kevin Costner's innovation is going to come to the rescue of the Deepwater Challenger oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. New York Daily News has the story...

Could there be a happy Hollywood ending to the Gulf oil spill?

Enter "Waterworld" star Kevin Costner, who has spent years and millions of dollars perfecting a device that cleans oil from seawater.

British Petroleum - desperate for ideas - gave the okay to test six of Costner's gizmos this week, said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.

Costner's high-speed centrifuge machine has a Los Angeles-perfect name: "Ocean Therapy."

Placed on a barge, it sucks in large quantities of polluted water, separates out the oil and spits back 97% clean water.

"It's like a big vacuum cleaner," said Costner's business partner, Louisiana trial lawyer John Houghtaling.

"The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water," he said.

The "Field of Dreams" star first got a team together to create the device in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

His scientist brother, Dan Costner, helped develop the device, and together, the brothers formed Costner Industries Nevada Corp. to pursue various energy projects, including a non-chemical battery that could last 15 years.

The 55-year-old actor eventually sank $26 million into the Ocean Therapy oil separator project. He obtained a license for the device from the Department of Energy in 1993 and has been trying for years to promote it.

In 2007, he told London's Daily Mail that he had blown millions on "technologies I thought would help the world" and had nothing to show for it.

"I've lost $40 million-plus," he said. "But I knew that if I was right, it would change things in an incredibly positive way."

Last week, he was in Louisiana seeking redemption, demonstrating his Ocean Therapy contraption.

"I'm just really happy that the light of day has come to this," Costner said.

Though reporters largely greeted his ideas with snickers, BP apparently wasn't laughing.

At least 210,000 gallons of oil per day is gushing into the sea from the ocean floor where the BP rig exploded April 20. The oil company has tried several novel solutions, but none has worked so far to plug the leak.

The company is skimming the oil, spraying it with dispersant chemicals underwater and trying to burn it on the surface.

Nineteen percent of the Gulf's lucrative fisheries are closed, billions of beach tourist dollars are at stake and dozens of seagoing species are threatened.

Costner has 300 of his Ocean Therapy machines in various sizes. The largest, at 21/2 tons, is able to clean water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute - faster than the well is leaking, Houghtaling noted.

WOW!! This sounds like it could probably do a heap o' good. Gotta give Kevin Costner bigtime props for actively applying his mind and resources toward solving a problem like this. If ya ask me, that is what old-fashioned American ingenuity is all about :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pixar artist puts mean (but fun) spin on Lil' Golden Books!

Pixar animation artist Josh Cooley has been making a series of illustrations inspired by - in addition to parodying - those classic Lil' Golden Books that so many of us grew up with. And now this summer Cooley is coming out with an actual honest-to-goodness book of his work! Lil' Inappropriate Golden Book: MOVIES 'R' FUN! takes scenes from well-known R-rated movies and, ummm... "kiddifies" them.

Ever seen serial killer Buffalo Bill in a children's book? You have now!

GeekTyrant has several more of Cooley's hilarious renditions, including "children's" versions of The Godfather, Se7en and The Big Lebowski.

Somebody is planting hand grenades at local Goodwill stores

A customer at the Goodwill Store on Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem found a grenade on one of the store's shelves and tried to purchase it. The store was evacuated and bomb squad personnel came to take it away (no word yet on whether it was live ordnance).

This is the second time this week that grenades have been found at Goodwill Stores around here. On Monday a training grenade was found amid some donated clothing at the store in Mayodan.

So... what's the trend here? Some idiot kids "goofing off"?

Or perhaps we should heed the words of one Auric Goldfinger: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

(Seriously though: if this is "terrism" this has pathetic written all over it. I mean, trying to bring chaos down in a Goodwill store?!)

These are the mascots of the 2012 London Olympics...

When I saw these... things... the first thought that popped into mind was "If Jerry Falwell were still alive, he'd declare them both to be gay."

Kang and Kodos... errr, I mean Wenlock and Mandeville, are the official mascots of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

If nothing else, Wenlock and Mandeville will have us all forgetting that Izzy from the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta ever existed.

Ninjas rescue student from muggers in Sydney

It was "probably the worst place in Sydney where they could have taken him", said Steve Ashley: one of a group of Australian ninjas that came to readily assist a medical student who was being attacked by muggers.

From the story at News.com.au...

A STUDENT has been saved from a vicious assault - not by the boys in blue but the men in black.

Ninjas scared off three thugs who had the misfortune to attack the 27-year-old medical student outside their warrior school.

The German exchange student had been targeted by the men while he was riding the late-night train home, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

They demanded he give them his wallet but when he refused and got off the train, they followed.

They pounced as he made his way through a dark alley in Sydney's west.

They grabbed his phone and iPod and kicked him while he lay on the ground.

However, the men were spotted by a member of a nearby dojo.

Nathan Smith told his sensei and the rest of the students at Ninja Senshi Ryu and they rushed out to confront the thugs - all dressed in traditional black ninja garb.

On seeing the ninjas, the men fled, only to be later arrested by police.

"You should have seen their faces when they saw us in ninja gear coming towards them," the school's sensei, Kaylan Soto, told the Herald.

They also failed to notice a ninja, Nathan Smith, standing in the shadows outside the dojo. Mr Smith immediately alerted his sensei, or teacher.

Soooo much good that can be learned from this situation. It looks like Batman is right: "Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot." And it hearkens back to another story out of Australia the other week where people dressed as Spider-Man and Jedi Knights foiled a comic book thief.

Maybe all it takes to clean up the streets of crime is for some decent upstanding citizens to do things out of the ordinary... like dressing up as ninjas :-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"What They Died For": Post-episode review of the penultimate LOST

It was during Jacob's little campfire get-together that the image of a key came into mind. And that key went into the lock (or perhaps "Locke") in the door of six seasons' worth of mystery on Lost... and began to turn.

Can you see it? Could you feel it too, watching "What They Died For"? That all the threads are coming together in the tapestry that is Lost. The sense that this has been a well-orchestrated symphony of mythic storytelling, even during those times when some of us had doubt (witness the reaction many had to last week's "Across The Sea", which tonight's episode tremendously heightened appreciation for).

Everything has come full circle at last. Seeing our heroes on the beach, watching Jack crudely suture-up Kate just as she did in the very first episode, and then realizing that Jack is assuredly not that man of science any longer. He is now and forever a man of faith and the cup has been passed to him, both literally and figuratively.

Then there is Ben. He is going to keep us guessing right up until the very end. Even now, we don't know whose side is he on. But would we really want it to be any other way?

Everyone is coming together whether they realize it or not. From across the Island. From across space and time. From across an entirely other universe. The pieces are in place for the final gambit of this game that we've watched unfold for the past six years.

And in true Lost fashion, we have no clue how it's going to come down.

A brilliant, brilliant episode. It gets my full 10 out of 10.

And fittingly, there are 108 hours between now and "The End".

"This god-damned mountain doesn't dare do anything to Harry."

Those were the words of one Harry R. Truman. He also assured reporters and visitors to his lodge that "No one knows this mountain better than me."

The 83 year-old Harry Truman was speaking of Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington: the mountain on which he lived along with his 16 cats. For two months the long-quiet volcano had slowly been stirring in activity. Geologists became alarmed by the increasing swarms of small quakes and the appearance of a bulge on St. Helens' north side: indication that lava was building up beneath. Many tried to convince him to leave, but Harry Truman refused to go. It was nothing to worry about, he swore up and down.

A few days later, at 8:32 a.m. on the morning of May 18th 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted. It was one of the most violent geological events in modern history. The entire northern face of the mountain was blasted away as 540 million tons of ash and debris was thrown out and across thousands of square miles.

Geologist David A. Johnston was stationed six miles away. Johnston had been one of the most vocal in persuading residents to leave the area during the buildup toward the eruption. The superhot flow of ash and steam took less than a minute to reach his location. Johnston's last frantic words before his radio went silent: "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" All that was ever found of David Johnston was the ruin of his United States Geological Survey trailer, discovered by workers in 1993.

As for Harry Randall Truman: he and his 16 cats are still on the mountain somewhere, buried beneath 150 feet of and thousands of tons of ash and debris. True to his word, he never left.

All told, 57 people died in the eruption: the deadliest volcanic event in United States history.

And that was thirty years ago on this day, May 18th 1980.

National Geographic has an impressive gallery of photos showing Mount St. Helens before and after the eruption. Well worth checking out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Johnny Robertson demands retraction from this blog

Word has reached me from a few places that on last night's installment of What Does the Bible Say? (or as many people call it "What Does Johnny Robertson Say?" and "The Martinsville Taliban Show") on WGSR, that local cult leader Johnny Robertson called me out by name for stating that his son Micah Robertson was convicted on May 7th in Danville General District Court on the charge of trespassing stemming from an incident on February 28th at Westover Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia.

It seems that Johnny Robertson - leader of the area cult calling itself "Church of Christ" (I now call them the "Sons of Hell", see Matthew 23:15 and some are now calling them "Stalkers for Jesus") believes I am being irresponsible as a journalist. It is his contention that Micah Robertson was not actually "convicted", but has had his judgment deferred for one year. At which time his transgression will be removed from the records. Which, I suppose I could note that this could be a parable about the quality of mercy that Robertson and his goons could stand to learn much from were they not so hard-hearted. But I digress...

If this isn't a conviction, then what is it? Micah Robertson certainly wasn't found innocent. And one doesn't find himself in the position of possibly having a conviction made permanent hanging over one's head like the proverbial Sword of Damocles unless that person did do something he shouldn't have been doing (in this case, harassing and intimidating a church congregation).

(I could also mention how Johnny Robertson apparently has nothing to say about my asking "Is it biblical or typical practice among your number for one of you to knowingly and consistently give huge amounts of God's money to an avowed atheist, bisexual habitual thief?". Guess he doesn't want to go there, aye?)

Anyhoo, Johnny Robertson has insisted that I should do a retraction.

He's not going to get it.

But, I am willing to demonstrate that I more than a fair journalist. Certainly more than Johnny Robertson and his "Religious Review" sham are...

The judge in the case has said that he'll take this off Micah Robertson's record if he behaves himself for the next year. I believe it is our duty to hold Micah Robertson to that.

If Micah Noel Robertson completely refrains from harassing churches for the next full year, and refrains from even MENTIONING on television any church other than his own Church of Christ for the same amount of time, and refrains from mentioning the name of the pastor or minister of any other congregation for the same amount of time, then I will print a retraction on The Knight Shift.

This means more than Micah Robertson having to keep his nose clean for the next 365 days. It also means that he's going to have to demonstrate nothing but his own doctrine for one full year.

Do I think he can do it? I doubt that he can. Martinsville Church of Christ, Danville Church of Christ and the rest of the local cult calling itself "Church of Christ" (which has nothing to do with the mainstream Churches of Christ) has proven time and again that it doesn't HAVE a real doctrine to call its own. All these loons have are a few handpicked verses of scripture backing up a doctrine that has never existed to begin with, and their unbridled hatred of everyone who doesn't belong to their cult.

In short: Micah Robertson has no purpose without being the bully that his father is grooming him to be. It's thuggery in the name of Christ and that is all that these people have. It can no more be expected of them to abandon and let die their hatred than it could be expected the government to stop wasting money.

But, I am giving Micah Robertson a chance. He can choose to take it, or not.

Until then, and possibly indefinitely, there will be no retraction because Micah Robertson was found guilty in court, and that should stand as warning to many other people about what he and his cult are capable of doing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A STUNNING fan-made trailer for LOST series finale

One week from tonight, the story of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 will draw to a close as the final episode of Lost airs on ABC.

I do not know if there will ever be another television series that has so captivated me. That has compelled me to tune in as Lost has. I am not much of a television viewer at all: a show has to sincerely earn my attention and respect, for me to devote my time toward it. And that, Lost has done.

"What They Died For", the last regular episode, airs two nights from now. There'll be a two-hour recap next Sunday followed by the two and a half hour "The End".

And some dude/dudette in London has spliced together this spellbinding trailer for Lost's series finale. It's so entrancing that none other than Lost executive producer Damon Lindelof Twitter-ed about it earlier this morning! This bit o' video cuts right to the heart and soul of what has made Lost so good.

In case you're wondering, the music is "Shooting Star" from the Stardust soundtrack.

And there'll no doubt be plenty more Lost posts between now and next Sunday night (and probably beyond...)

THE KING AND I: 33 days until opening night

Having now rehearsed the "Uncle Tom's Cabin" scene for the first time, my mind is far more at rest about being a "ballet ninja" in that part of the show.

(I could also say something about how it turns out that Phra Alack - the character that I'm playing - was in real life a eunuch. Seems that was a common requirement for employment in a royal household in the Far East up 'til the early twentieth century. The things some people will do for a paycheck...)

The disparate parts of the show are coming together into a cohesive unit. It's really something: one group will be practicing dance while another is going over singing, and still another at the same time could be the principles going over lines. And they're not necessarily at the same location either: our rehearsals have been at Rockingham County Senior High School (where the performances will be held next month) and in two buildings at Rockingham Community College, and there'll be rehearsals at an area church later this week. Not to mention all the work that's going on at the Theatre Guild's warehouse on set construction, plus props and costumes.

It's certainly turning into a more massive production than Children of Eden two years ago, and some have said that it's becoming even bigger than Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last year. Which is exciting, 'cuz Joseph was far and away the glitziest show that I've seen anywhere around here, ever. If people come away from this show telling us that we should take it on the road, then I'll consider that one of the highest praises imaginable.

The King and I opens on June 18th. Click here to visit the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's website for more information. And stay tuned to this blog for future updates. Who knows: I might even have a photo or two of Yours Truly as a man of Siam sooner than later :-)

DreamWorks looking at Monsterpocalypse movie... and involving Tim Burton!

DreamWorks has acquired the rights to make a full-length feature film based on Monsterpocalypse. Yup, that Monsterpocalypse: the collectible miniatures game that I wrote about back in November...

Not only that, but DreamWorks execs are reportedly trying to get Tim Burton attached to the project. Monsterpocalypse creator Matt Wilson is already on board as co-producer for the movie.

Hmmmm... this could be pretty good. Provided that the correct tone and atmosphere is there. Monsterpocalypse has some terrific background fluff behind it and building on that, DreamWorks could turn in a heck of a good movie. In my mind a Monsterpocalypse film should be like the original RoboCop: intense on action and drama but also with tons of tongue-in-cheek humor and satire. Make it a CGI animated spectacle and DreamWorks potentially has a very strong movie franchise in it stable.

'Course, I can't let a post like this go by without showing off my very own Monsterpocalypse filmmaking: HyperMind's entry in last year's Monsterpocapalooza contest (and we even made the top ten!)...

If you wanna find out more about this great game, smash on through to Monsterpocalypse.com. You'll also wanna check out Team Covenant: a website devoted to great games like Monsterpocalypse (and sponsors of this week's inaugural MonCon in Tulsa, Oklahoma). And I can't say enough good about Team Covenant's The Definitive Monsterpocalypse Tutorial DVD: by far one of the most passionate and clever how-to videos that I've ever seen :-)

The laser is 50 years old today

It's hard to believe now, but Theodore Maiman's discovery was turned down from scholarly publication when he first submitted it! At the time there was a lot of work being conducted on maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) and the journal Physical Review Letters thought that Maiman's article was a retread of too many others. But before long researchers - and soon afterward the rest of the world - agreed that the laser which Maiman created on May 16th 1960 using a ruby rod was an entirely different gimmick. Fifty years later and lasers are everywhere around us: in CD and DVD players, in your doctor's office, maybe even in your shirt pocket.

CNN has a great retrospective about a half-century of the laser. And if you want to know how a laser differs from a flashlight, HowStuffWorks hosts a terrific essay about the laser's inner workings.

SHE DID IT! Jessica Watson returns home after solo sail around the world

Nearly 7 full months after taking her boat out of harbor in Sydney, Australia, Jessica Watson returned to a hero's welcome yesterday: having become the youngest person in history to sail solo and unassisted around the world. And having been following her voyage during these past several months, I must say that she looks none the worse for wear :-)

The journey lasted more than 23,000 miles, including some time across the equator. During her trip Jessica consumed "32 cans of Spam, 64 cans of tuna, 32 cans of pineapple, 576 chocolate bars, and 290 freeze dried ready meals all alone in her small yacht." She was kept company by a crew of stuffed animals, and an assortment of timed care packages from her family that she opened per a set schedule. And when not navigating her ship "Ella's Pink Lady" Jessica kept busy keeping a blog that allowed everyone to follow the course of her journey.

It must be noted that for all that she has accomplished, Miss Watson is incredibly humble. Sharing the podium with Australian prime minster Kevin Rudd yesterday, Jessica shrugged off notions of being something more. "I don't consider myself a hero, I'm an ordinary girl. You don't have to be someone special to achieve something amazing, you've just got to have a dream, believe in it and work hard. I'd like to think I've proved that anything really is possible if you set your mind to it."

That's one lady who's got rare wisdom in addition to having notched up such a journey. And if ya ask me, they do make her a hero.

Congrats Jessica! Looking forward to reading the inevitable book about your adventure :-)

Awright, break's over...

I'd better get back to blogging in earnest. Stuff might be about to happen.

I am returning with some new features, which will be getting unrolled on The Knight Shift in the near future. Looking forward to seeing what kind of response they evoke :-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Across The Sea": Post-episode reaction to the antepenultimate LOST

This is probably the most mythos-packed episode of Lost, ever. And I've no doubt that many might not care much for that aspect...

...but I thought that "Across The Sea" was a very strong entry that answered bunches of questions while simultaneously not answering some that I was expecting and in fact added at least one big new question (with three and a half hours left to wrap up the tale of Lost and its myriad of mysteries).

"Across The Sea" was also the longest flashback episode in Lost history: the entire chapter takes place an indeterminate amount of time in the past, and that's bugging me. Is this meant to be pre-ancient Egypt? The hieroglyphics we've seen at the Temple and that this is apparently before the Statue of Tawaret was built would suggest it. That potentially places "Across The Sea" more than four thousand years before the present time. To quote Tommy Lee Jones from what has become one of my favorite movies: "Who are these people?"

I suppose that one of the reasons I'm wondering about how far back "Across The Sea" takes place, is that a bigtime mystery from Season 1 got answered tonight and it doesn't quite jibe with Jack's expert opinion on the matter. And speaking of that: I'll wager an RC Cola and a Moon Pie that just as many people will be outraged by tonight's episode as they were by "The Candidate" last week, accusing the showrunners of "cheating" with "Across The Sea" and all those theories that had abounded.

And what's the Man in Black's real name? Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have said he's got one and that it's important to the story. Well... considering how we now know what he wants and why he is the way he is (even though I don't understand why that happened, the "birth of the Smoke Monster" sequence was awesome) seems like his name would have been the cherry on top.

I'll give "Across The Sea" a 7 out of 10, and I'd love to give it an 8 but something... seemed lacking. Maybe I'll reconsider after watching it again (and again and again). And who knows: perhaps in retrospect this will prove to be a much-appreciated breather before "The End" a week and a half from tonight.

Only one more regular episode. Next Tuesday night: "What They Died For".

(And the teaser for next week's Lost was one of the best ever! Using "The End" by The Doors like that was a stroke of genius :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wow, what happened to my blogging?

Not a new word from The Knight Shift's eclectic proprietor since Friday evening. Well, other than a comment or two on existing posts.

Let's just say that I had a great past few days and that God wound up teaching me a lot of new things and I was led to let His guidance continue to linger and instruct me past the usual end of the weekend. Or something like that.

That, and it was a great Mother's Day.

Looks like the stuff piled up in my absence. Where do I start?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Guess what I'm listening to right now?

It's the Lost Season 5 Soundtrack CD! It won't hit retail until this coming Tuesday, but a copy arrived here a few hours ago from somewhere among my nebuluous network of insiders and associates (or perhaps it was the strange time-shifting qualities of the Island that made it possible)...

I'm now on my second time of playing through it and once again Michael Giacchino has turned in a mesmerizing score (but those of us who watch Lost know that already :-) There are 23 tracks on this thing. The ones I've most been looking forward to having are "The Swinging Bendulum": the theme that was first introduced when we saw the Lamp Post in the episode "The Lie". That, and "The Tangled Web", better known as Jacob's theme. Unfortunately "The Tangled Web" does not trail off into the score that we heard when we got our first real view of the Statue of Tawaret in the prologue of "The Incident", which I thought was really majestic and mysterious. But hey: we do get the main vibe of Jacob's theme, so that's still fine. And there is plenty of reprising of "Dharmacide" (from the Season 3 soundtrack, which most people know as Ben's theme), which has also been one of my most favorite bits of music from the show.

Per my usual practice, I'm going to purchase a copy at retail this coming week (something that I did with Transformers: The Score twice when it came out a few years ago :-) to make up for having this one sent. And if you love Lost and the work of Michael Giacchino, I'm gonna heartily recommend that you buy it too. 'Tis well worth plunking down hard-earned coin for.

Micah Robertson found GUILTY of trespassing!

"Code Name Rodent" textified from the courthouse in Danville that Micah Robertson - son of local cult leader Johnny Robertson - has been found guilty of trespassing at Westover Baptist Church. Robertson won't get jail time (he could have gotten up to a year in the slammer) but he's been hit with a $100 fine.

More importantly, Micah Noel Robertson now has a criminal record. One directly stemming from his activities of harassment and intimidation as a member of the cult calling itself "Church of Christ" headed by his father, Johnny Robertson.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first such legal mark against the cult. Will Johnny Robertson and his followers pay heed to it? Probably not.

More soon...

EDIT 4:48 p.m. EST: To all the members of the press who are finding this blog this afternoon.

Please be advised that Johnny Robertson, the father of guilty defendant Micah Robertson, is a convicted felon himself who has served time in prison for armed robbery. Johnny Robertson has also accused numerous churches in the area of child pornography (without any evidence), has stalked many people in their private residences and at their places of worship, and is the de facto owner of WGSR Star 47 in the sense that its general manager Charles Roark does anything that Robertson tells him to do. Among many other things that will no doubt be of interest to you.

For more please follow this link and feel free to search The Knight Shift for much more about this cult and its activities in this area.

EDIT 5:45 p.m. EST: Look! Criminal record!

Click to drastically embiggenize.

Micah Robertson can have this taken off his record after one year's probation. He also can't go to Westover Baptist Church again.

I'm going to make this commentary: that what Micah Robertson and the rest of his cult do, has nothing in common whatsoever with what Jesus and His followers are recorded as doing in the New Testament. Micah Robertson is fond of claiming that he and his fellow goons are "arguing" and "debating" just as the apostle Paul did.

Micah Robertson doesn't seem to realize that Christ, Peter, Paul and the rest were motivated out of love for others, not motivated out of debate for sake of debate. Without the requisite love, the words of Johnny Robertson and his followers are as clanging cymbals, meaning nothing.

I will also note, since I'm apparently getting quite an audience at the moment, that Johnny Robertson, his son Micah and the rest of their cult do not worship Jesus Christ. Rather they worship the water in the baptistery of their building with the "Church of Christ" sign hanging outside.

EDIT 11:16 p.m. EST: Pssst... hey, all of you members of the "Church of Christ" cult in Texas who are visiting this blog tonight:

Is it biblical or typical practice among your number for one of you to knowingly and consistently give huge amounts of God's money to an avowed atheist, bisexual habitual thief?

I know the Lord works in mysterious ways, but in my mind that's got to be pushing things.

I have been a might slack in blogging lately...

...so to make up for it, here's a shiny new photo of The Knight Shift's unofficial Page 3 girl: my beautiful cousin Lauryn!

And look: she's got another gorgeous friend, whose name I do not currently have on file. But who are you to complain? After all, you're getting two lovely ladies in one great shot!

By the way, the rumors are true: I am currently giving this blog a severe and long-awaited overhaul. However contrary to reports there will not be a pay-only section of Lauryn photos on The Knight Shift (although I would no doubt make a tidy sum from such a practice... but I am an ethical and upstanding publisher after all :-)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Elaine Marshall sez: Runoff would hurt Democrats' chance at Senate seat

Ya see, it's crap like this that makes me despise the Seventeenth Amendment and everything about it.

The United States Senate is supposed to represent the states. Up 'til 1913, it was the individual state legislatures that elected their respective senators. Then the Seventeenth Amendment was passed and made the Senate a popularly-elected office.

And that was the beginning of the real modern era of dirty politics and corruption, in my book.

We had our primary elections here in North Carolina today. Incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Burr won the Republican nomination. He'll be going against whoever comes out of the runoff set for June 22nd against Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham from the Democrat party.

Elaine Marshall ain't happy. And she wants Cal Cunningham to drop out already... for the good of the Democrats. From WRAL's website...

"I think not having a runoff is in the Democratic Party's long-range best interests," Marshall said. "(We should be) focusing on the target, which is getting this (Senate) seat for the Democratic Party. So, continuing to fight among ourselves does not get us to the point where we need to be."
Ummmm... excuse me, Mrs. Marshall: the seat of United States Senator from North Carolina doesn't belong to the Democrat party, the Republican party or ANY party! It belongs to the people. It is meant to represent them as a state in the Senate.

Not this office, or any other, was ever meant by the Founding Fathers to be considered spoils of political war.

And I would be just as honked-off angry if any Republican had said likewise.

There is a disconnect between the people and the politicians in this country, friends and neighbors. You know it. I know it. And it's a damn shame that apparently so few will openly and brazenly admit that the vast majority of those involved in politics large and small do NOT deserve our vote!

But it's a fleeting, precious and scarce commodity when one of this sort does us the favor of opening his or her mouth and stating the obvious.

I have not chosen whether or not I will cast a vote for Richard Burr this November. But I can most definitely assure everyone that I will not be casting any vote for Elaine Marshall.

(Thanks for the heads-up and link to lifelong friend and brother in much Chad Austin, who is alleging that he will begin blogging again in the near future...)

ABC giving LOST finale 30 more minutes!

As if tonight's episode "The Candidate" wasn't enough Lost to blog about for one evening...

Now comes word that ABC will be expanding Lost's series finale by an extra thirty minutes. This gives "The End" a full two and a half hours to wind down what many already consider to be the defining mythology of dramatic television.

What prompted ABC to embiggen "The End"?

The producers of ABC's hit drama have shot so much crucial material for the show's hugely anticipated series finale that the network has agreed to extend the last episode by an extra half-hour.

When the "Lost" finale airs Sunday, May 23, the episode will run from 9 to 11:30 p.m. The overrun will air instead of the local news, with the "Jimmy Kimmel Live: Aloha to Lost" post-finale special remaining at 11:30 p.m. ABC is expected to announce the plan on Tuesday night's episode of Kimmel.

The night before "The End" airs, ABC will also broadcast the pilot episode that first aired on September 22nd, 2004, as one of those "enhanced" editions that pops up factoids about the story on the bottom of the screen.

I don't know if there's going to be anything like Lost that I'll be watching again anytime soon, seeing as how I'm so extremely finicky about how I choose to devote my precious time on television. The last time a show captivated me this much, it was Babylon 5 more than ten years ago. If there's nothing else on the horizon, this might be the most zeroed-in on the boob tube that I'll be for a long time to come...

...so at least for the weekend of May 22-23, I'll get to go out with a bang :-)

"The Candidate": Post-episode reaction to tonight's LOST

I'm going to be as un-spoilerish as I possibly can be after seeing this episode...


Goin' be LOTS of people all kinds of angry and crying tonight after watching "The Candidate". The Intertubes might just burst from the wrath being poured into keyboards between now and the next several hours.

At least with Blake's 7, Terry Nation waited until the absolutely final episode of that show to force viewers to watch the main characters gets killed off one by one. Lost still has four hours left before its final moments: what the $&@# could showrunners Cuse and Lindelof possibly have left to hurt us with?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Whether alive or dead or undead, John Locke just can't stop playing with C-4. Jack has finally and firmly emerged as the man of faith: exactly the mirror opposite of what he started out as. And it was great to see Anthony Cooper again...

...but it was Hurley's breakdown in the final moments which is still resonating mightily in my gray matter. That... and one very particular tragic moment that we saw before the final commercial break... said it all.

Has any other show done so magnificent a performance at building up characters that we've come to care for, only to force us to... to watch as that happened to them?

Well played, Cuse and Lindelof. Well played.

But it's not "The End" yet.

And we shall see what lies "Across the Sea" next week.

Until then, "The Candidate" would get a 10 out of 10 from this viewer... except that it broke clean off after pegging the needle so hard.

To our friends in Nashville: You are in our prayers!

Nashville, Tennessee is currently the biggest disaster area in the entire country: never mind the oil spill in the Gulf and the attempted car bombing in Times Square. But somehow, most people in America other than those in the immediate area seem completely oblivious about it.

Nashville native Patten Fuqua addresses the unawareness to his city's plight - along with bold optimism - in a great piece at Section 303...

If you live outside of Nashville, you may not be aware, but our city was hit by a 500-year flood over the last few days. The national news coverage gave us 15 minutes, but went back to focusing on a failed car bomb and an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While both are clearly important stories, was that any reason to ignore our story? It may not be as terror-sexy as a failed car bomb or as eco-sexy as an oil spill, but that’s no reason to be ignored.

The Cumberland River crested at its highest level in over 80 years. Nashville had its highest rainfall totals since records began. People drowned. Billions of dollars in damage occurred. It is the single largest disaster to hit Middle Tennessee since the Civil War. And yet…no one knows about it.

Does it really matter? Eventually, it will…as I mentioned, there are billions of dollars in damage. It seems bizarre that no one seems to be aware that we just experienced what is quite probably the costliest non-hurricane disaster in American history. The funds to rebuild will have to come from somewhere, which is why people need to know. It’s hard to believe that we will receive much relief if there isn’t a perception that we need it.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment. A large part of the reason that we are being ignored is because of who we are. Think about that for just a second. Did you hear about looting? Did you hear about crime sprees? No…you didn’t. You heard about people pulling their neighbors off of rooftops. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. No…we didn’t loot. Our biggest warning was, “Don’t play in the floodwater.” When you think about it…that speaks a lot for our city. A large portion of why we were being ignored was that we weren’t doing anything to draw attention to ourselves. We were handling it on our own.


Parts of Nashville that could never even conceivably be underwater were underwater. Some of them still are. Opry Mills and the Opryland Hotel are, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. People died sitting in standstill traffic on the Interstate. We saw boats going down West End. And, of course, we all saw the surreal image of the portable building from Lighthouse Christian floating into traffic and being destroyed when cars were knocked into it. I’m still having trouble comprehending all of it.

And yet…life will go on. We’ll go back to work, to school, to our lives…and we’ll carry on. In a little over a month, I’ll be on this website talking about the draft. In October, we’ll be discussing the new Predators’ season with nary a thought of these past few days. But in a way, they changed everyone in this town. We now know that that it can happen to us…but also know that we can handle it.

Because we are Nashville.

I was in Nashville a few years ago with Dad. We had a great time there (I went to try out for Jeopardy!, and so help me I like to think I'm knowledgeable about many things but fourteenth-century French opera is not one of them :-). A lot of the places that Fuqua mentions in this article, we visited. Opry Mills is where Opryland used to be. It's now a mall that pays homage to Nashville's legacy of country music.

I'm having a very hard time picturing the place flooded and destroyed.

To the people of Nashville: you've a lot more friends out here than y'all can imagine. And you are definitely being held up in our thoughts and prayers as you have to go through this.

And I for one have no doubt that you will bounce back from this. Because, like the article says: you are Nashville.

Spider-Man, Jedi Knights, the Flash foil comic book thief

A would-be pilferer of an expensive comic book has been arrested after being caught in the act and apprehended by none other than Spider-Man himself!

The friendly neighborhood webslinger was also assisted by several Jedi Knights and high-speed hero who rides the lightning, the Flash.

Here's the story from The Sun...

SPIDERMAN foiled a would-be thief as Jedi Knights blocked his escape route.

No, it's not a comic book plot but the scene which unravelled in a Australian book store on Saturday.

Store owner Michael Baulderstone, dressed as Spiderman, spotted the man trying to steal an X-Men book worth $160 (£97).

The 45-year-old called for back-up and the hapless thief was surrounded by superheroes within seconds.

Mr Baulderstone said: "We had about 40 people dressed up as their favourite superheroes to celebrate International Free Comic Day, so he didn't have much of a choice but to hand the comic back after a little bit of a scuffle.

"Everyone in the store thought it was a play, that it was street theatre of some sort. It wasn't until I said 'call the police' that people started to realise.

"One of the funniest things about the incident was that I called for people to stand near the door and it just so happened we had people dressed as Jedi knights there blocking the exit, the Flash was there at some point too.

"It was a bit serious at the time, but now we're looking back laughing at what greeted police."

Perhaps this chap will argue in court "But yer lordship I was told it was Free Comic Book Day..."

Congratulations to all the heroes involved :-)

A teaser for CLOVERFIELD sequel in front of IRON MAN 2?!?

Oh J.J. Abrams, you tease you...

Drew McWeeny of HitFix is the first to break the news about an ultra-myserious Bad Robot project that in true Abrams fashion is being kept under the darkliest cloak of secrecy possible.

Here's what McWeeny has found out: the teaser trailer for it is going to run with Iron Man 2, which comes out this Friday.

The title of it (if this is indeed the name of the film) is Super 8.

And it might... emphasis on "might" y'all... be the follow-up to 2008's Cloverfield.

I was already planning on seeing Iron Man 2 on Friday. Guess this will be even more reason to look forward to it (even if this doesn't turn out to be a Cloverfield sequel :-)

Final five hours of LOST begins tonight

It's been two weeks since the last fresh installment. Last Tuesday night was a repeat of "Ab Aeterno", the long-awaited and wildly acclaimed Richard Alpert backstory episode that aired a few weeks ago.

Tonight's episode, "The Candidate", is being said by those who have seen it already to be exceptionally good. And I'm hearing even better things about next week's "Across the Sea", which is said to answer a wazoo of questions (including the origin of the frozen donkey wheel, and how Jacob and his "friend" came to the Island). No, I don't know what those are: I'm discovering 'em along with everyone else. And don't e-mail me with answers either: I know when real Evil Incarnate is reading my blog, so it would be too easy to track you down too if I had to :-P

"The Candidate" airs at 9 p.m. EST, and is gonna be one of those episodes of Lost that is extra-long by two minutes. Plan your DVRs accordingly!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Greece as warning for the United States

It's the biggest financial bailout of a single country in history. I'm already hearing that the International Monetary Fund won't have enough coin to put Greece back on firm footing again (if it even had that). No doubt the IMF will soon afterward be coming to the United States government for Americans to pay "our fair share" of Europe's debt crisis.

But that's not what compels me to write about Greece's woes at the moment, friends and neighbors...

Greece is now forced to look at "demobilizing" much of its public sector jobs, which makes up A THIRD of that country's workforce!

This has not gone over well with many of the natives, who have responded with angry protests throughout that nation.

And I find it very easy to envision the United States following much the same track toward economic disaster.

Our own government is too big, too unwieldy, and "employs" way too many people. It's not as bad as 1/3rd of the workforce, but it's getting there. Hell, 1/7th of the economy is going to practically be federalized en masse when "healthcare reform" gets implemented.

We're spending money we no longer have, and we keep giving it away as "entitlements" (including to many people who aren't legally in this country to begin with).

I'm beginning to see the cracks. Pay attention and you can't miss 'em either. States and municipalities large and small are struggling to pay the bills. And yet we keep throwing money away to maintain a semblance of might and power.

The tree looks like it's yet standing tall and firm. But it's become rotted inside. And it's getting worse.

If you want a picture of what future awaits us here in America, you might wanna take a look at Greece. This could will be us sooner than later, if we don't rein in our fiscal policies.

North Carolina State scientist makes chip with 1 Terabit storage (WOW!!!)

And it might be coming to market in "five years or sooner!" according to Dr. Jay Narayan, the thinkin' dude who came up with it.

From the article at Thinq...

Future solid state disks may finally be able to catch up with the large capacities of mechanical hard drives, thanks to an ingenious project by a scientist at the North Carolina State University.

Dr Jay Narayan has developed a silicon storage chip that stores data in magnetic nanodots, or quantum dots; tiny structures that can measure just 6nm in diameter. Each nanoscale dot stores a single bit of data, but you can squeeze so many dots onto a small area of silicon that the university says that a single chip can “store an unprecedented amount of data.”

Dr Narayan says that the technology could enable you to “store over one billion pages of information in a chip that is one square inch.” That’s pages in terms of books, by the way, so how much is this in terms of bits and bytes?

Speaking to Thinq, Dr Narayan explained that "one terabit can store 250 million pages." According to Dr Narayan, "at 10nm per bit, 1cm square stores one terabit." As such, the billion pages would be made up of four square centimetres of silicon, providing four terabits of storage. That's basically 512GB in just one small chip, and you could squeeze in much more data than that if the dots had a diameter of just 6nm.

If this new method overcomes the problems with limited reading/writing that current solid state storage has, in addition to that gads of space... well, that would pretty much be the last hard drive or iPod or whatever that you would ever need (and maybe even want :-)