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Monday, May 30, 2011

"Twenty-one dollars a day, once a month!"

Alright, sure. Why not? :-)

So I'd been working on something for Memorial Day, for a huge chunk of this past weekend and late into last night and several drafts later, the finished product was nothing like what I had originally envisioned.

And that's perfectly fine. The other things that had been on my heart to convey, those can wait for another day. But I gotta tell y'all: I was really looking forward to closing it out with something decidedly upbeat.

So it didn't make it into the Memorial Day tribute proper. That's fine. I still think this is well worth sharing for... well, lots of reasons! It's a catchy lil' ditty that'll no doubt be stuck in your head the rest of the night! It's a classic cartoon from Walter Lantz Studios (look for cameo appearances by one or two famous characters).

And then there is the sheer weight of its theatrical release date: December 6th, 1941.

Think about that for a moment. This cartoon premiered on the very last day of true American innocence. While audiences were first enjoying this cartoon, the navy of the Empire of Japan was steaming across the Pacific toward Pearl Harbor and the date of infamy.

In every way possible that I can imagine, what you're about to see is a historical document of amazing import. It's like one final glimpse of the America that we once were and haven't been since.

Okay, 'nuff from me. Without further ado, here is... "$21 a Day (Once a Month)"!

Today is Memorial Day

For the past several days there was something that was percolating in my mind, that I've been struggling to put into words for this occasion.

In the end, I failed. For the time being, anyway. And now I see that in this instance, that my coming up short is the right thing...

Today is not a day to flex my writing skills. Today is not about "me" at all.

Today is the day that we remember those who went and fought and paid the most enormous price that there can be under the sun, so that the rest of us would not have to.

They did not go to fight for glory. They did not go to fight for fame. They did not go to fight so that their names would be immortalized in statue or song or names of great cities.

Too many of them fought and died, alone and in dark places, with only the presence of God to give them comfort and the strength to endure.

They did this, so that their children and the children of people that they could never know in this earthen realm might have just one iota of freedom more than they themselves had been able to know.

Freedom is never free. It only comes at the gravest of costs. And some gave all, so that the rest of us need only maintain the watchful vigilance of sound and grateful mind.

For my own part, the only commentary that I will proffer this day is: Dare we say that we have honored their sacrifice?

            In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

                    -- Lieutenant Colonel John McRae,
                        Canadian Army
                        written near Ypres, Belgium
                        May 3, 1915
For those who gave everything: we remember you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A ponderance upon wisdom...

Knowledge to do a thing is good. Wisdom to not do a thing is often far better.


We are now just over three weeks away from the Alpocalypse!!!

Y'know, I'm still giggling more than is probably good for one's health about how Weird Al has taken the place of Famine among the Four Horsemen :-P

So many people tried to access "Weird Al" Yankovic's online store yesterday that they crashed the server!

And no wonder...

- Alpocalypse CD/DVD ($13.99)

- Alpocalypse CD ($10.99)

- Alpocalypse Deluxe Package ($29.99)

- Alpocalypse Super Deluxe Package ($99.99)

Most people will probably go for the CD/DVD set, which includes the standard music disc and a DVD containing music videos for ten of the songs. The Deluxe Package includes all that plus a limited edition 18"x24" gallery quality Alpocalypse album art lithograph. And the Super Deluxe Package? It has the CD, the DVD, AND a limited edition SIGNED AND NUMBERED cover art lithograph, and also a "highly limited run 4'x4' Alpocalypse Wall Mural made by Fathead".

Yowza!! C'mon, spring for the Super Deluxe Package. You know that you're lusting for it badly! And it'll be your chance to clear your conscience for all those Weird Al songs that you've been downloading for years without paying for them, you hooligan!!

Here's the track listing for Alpocalypse!

1. "Perform This Way"
2. "CNR"
3. "TMZ"
4. "Skipper Dan"
5. "Polka Face"
6. "Craigslist"
7. "Party In The CIA"
8. "Ringtone"
9. "Another Tattoo"
10. "If That Isn't Love"
11. "Whatever You Like"
12. "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me"

Well, "Polka Face" is almost certain to be the traditional medley. But I'm wondering which (if any) of these are gonna be an extra-long which Al has been putting on his albums since 1999's Running With Scissors. Five of these are songs that Al has been releasing during the past couple of years as part of the Internet Leaks collection. 'Course we all know the recent events concerning "Perform This Way" (that its video isn't included on the DVD would indicate that it's still in production). And the rest? "Party In The CIA" especially sounds like a lot of fun :-)

Can't wait until June 21st! I'm gonna go ahead and pre-order a copy... but I'm also gonna be at the nearest big box store bright and early just to behold the sight of a new Weird Al album on the shelves ;-)

New trailer for GEARS OF WAR 3!

And that was the gist of the seven e-mails that I found in my inbox this morning: about the new trailer for Gears of War 3 campaign!

And here it is! Featuring Marcus Fenix! Anya! What seems to be the VERY much alive Adam Fenix! Lambent! King Ravens! Locust Grubs! Underwater combat! More Lambent! The weaselish Chairman Prescott! Big guns! Brumaks! STILL MORE LAMBENT! All set to Black Sabbath's classic 1970 song "War Pigs"!

The story of Marcus, Dom and the rest of Delta Squad arrives at its conclusion on September 20th. And I am stoked about this game like I haven't been for a video game in a long time. The Gears of War franchise really does have a very human heart and soul to it and seeing this chapter of the saga end... well, I've got a lot of high hopes for it :-)

(And I am still wog-boggled amazed by this HAUNTING fan-made Gears of War 3 trailer from last summer, focusing on Augustus Cole and using Johnny Cash's song "Hurt".)

Friday, May 27, 2011

$3 BILLION of your tax dollars to study Antarctic Jell-O wrestling and shrimp on treadmills

Y'know, I doubt that even if I were smashed drunk and high on acid that I could have ever come up with a headline like that on my own...

A laundry-folding robot, studying the metabolism of shrimp being exercised on treadmills, and researching wrestling in Jell-O at the South Pole are among the "projects" sponsored by the National Science Foundation which have been funded with THREE BILLION DOLLARS of OUR tax money!

Other stuff that we've paid for through the NSF: "a YouTube rap video, a review of event ticket prices on stubhub.com, a 'robot hoedown and rodeo,'" and "a virtual recreation of the 1964/65 New York World's Fair".

I'm just trying to visualize how exactly a shrimp is put on a treadmill...

Team Covenant churning out new Monsterpocalypse maps!

I've written tons before on this blog about my mad love for Monsterpocalypse: Privateer Press's awesome game of giant monsters and metropolitan destruction! And if you haven't checked it out yet right now is a great time to give it a looksee. Privateer Press recently announced that the game was moving to a non-collectible format (making it much easier for new players to get into it) and a full-length Monsterpocalypse motion picture from DreamWorks involving Tim Burton is currently in pre-production.

And now those ever-clever folks at Team Covenant have come through with - ta-daaaah! - new Monsterpocalypse playmats! Introduced at MonCon 2011 this past weekend where attendees were treated to the convention-exclusive "Mayhem on Memorial" map (I really wish that I could have made it to MonCon, ahh well hopefully next year :-), the Covenant Maps Campaign brings you a new playmat every sixty days, with the maps designed to inter-relate with each other across a larger Monsterpocalypse story-driven narrative. As the Team Covenant guys put it...

In addition to igniting standard Monsterpocalypse play, each Covenant Map comes with a printed story that acts as the next chapter of a continuous, fictional campaign revolving around the struggles of all of the monsters and factions involved in the game. These stories are epic, and relate directly to the happenings on the past Covenant Map and how those occurrences have led to the current map.

But of course there’s even more to this! Each map not only comes with a story, but also a scenario that is the direct result of that story. This scenario will pick up where the story ends, putting the fictional conflicts onto the map itself, ready to be resolved by YOU, the players. The next chapter of the story, and the map pertaining to it, will then be created based on the results that YOU report.

And 'course, the map itself will no doubt come in handy for years to come! Team Covenant has set up three subscription plans, beginning at $22 and change charged bi-monthly. Looking at the exceedingly high quality of the "Mayhem on Memorial" map, that's a darned good deal! I'm looking forward to unleashing my precious Lords of Cthul upon these new maps :-)

New area business: Two Girls & A Truck Landscaping

Lately quite a number of good people that I know have decided to start up their own businesses. Here's another one and as always, this blogger is more than happy to direct y'all's attention to it :-)

Based out of nearby Oak Ridge, Two Girls & A Truck Landscaping is a landscaping and lawn servicing company owned by Tammy Marcum Buck, Linda Marcum and Oscar Marcum. Don't have time to mow your lawn? Let the Two Girls do it for you! They can help you wherever you're at in the vicinity of Greensboro, Oak Ridge, Summerfield, Madison and Mayodan etc. And right now they're offering a special: $35 of cutting, weed-eating, trimming and blowing for up to half an acre. They're also offering a 10% discount for elderly and disabled. Two Girls & A Truck Landscaping will give you a free estimate on your landscaping needs and annual contracts are available.

So if your lawn is looking more and more like a bloodthirsty jungle, check out Two Girls & A Truck and hire them to tame it!

Exciting times for Egyptian archaeology!

Seventeen previously unknown pyramids are among more than four THOUSAND newly discovered sites in Egypt that have been located using infrared imaging by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. One of the locations that is being studied is the real life city of Tanis (AKA the Egyptian city that was consumed by the year-long sandstorm and where Indiana Jones had to foil the Nazi raiders of the lost Ark of the Covenant :-)

Meanwhile, archaeologists at the Great Pyramid outside of Cairo are using a tiny robotic probe to get the first look at the inside of a newly-found chamber within the mighty ancient wonder. Among the images that haven't been seen in 4,500 years: red-colored graffiti that might have been left by workers building the pyramid. There is also evidence that the door to a whole new secret room has been discovered.

Maybe someday such technology will let us get really lucky and help us to find Jimmy Hoffa :-P

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remembering Aunt Tom

It was in 1935 that Connie Wright approached Samuel Knight to ask if he could have Ora Lee's hand in marriage.

Sam Knight - my great-grandfather - had six sons, and only one daughter: the apple of his eye. But Ora Lee was so synonymous with her half-dozen brothers and also quite the tomboy that she had picked up a nickname that would stick with her throughout her life: "Tom".

"No," Great-Grandpa Knight told Connie: "You can't marry the girl, but I'll let you take any of the boys off my hands!"

Ora Lee Knight was 16 years old when Uncle Connie came a'courting for her to be his bride. Uncle Connie passed away in 1984 and between he and Ora Lee they had 49 years of beautiful marriage that produced four children and a whole posse of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

This past Friday morning, the fine lady who so many of us knew best as "Aunt Tom" departed this earthly realm, to be with the Lord she had faithfully served all her life and to be reunited with her husband and so many others who had gone on before. She would have turned 92 next month.

Aunt Tom, well... she was a character and a half. She was so many things: wife, mother, grandmother, farmgirl, a country cook in the grandest tradition, and active in her church. When she was 65 she went back to school and earned her GED, which was something that we were all so very proud of her for accomplishing. Prior to that she worked for more than twenty years at one of the grocery stores in Reidsville.

Aunt Tom was someone that I saw quite often. Her house sat on the hill right above the road that I live on. It was common to see her mowing her own lawn until recent years. And I would stop by to see how she was doing every so often. A few years ago when I ran for school board, she told me that she was proud of me for running and she gladly let me stick up a couple of signs on her roadside.

And now, she's gone. And I'm only now realizing just how strong a fixture she was in my life and those of so many others. Aunt Tom was a sweet woman and epitomized so much of what I've thought it means to live the loving and humble Christian life. But gone though she may be, she'll never be forgotten.

Until we meet again Aunt Tom, I shall miss you. But I'm so very thankful that God has brought you and Uncle Connie together again :-)

(Very special thanks to Allison Stultz for providing such a great photo of Aunt Tom!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


"Our long national nightmare is over."

Les Misérables: Dude arrested for stealing Sonic Slush makers

Being reported this hour that a guy not far away from here in Lexington, North Carolina has been arrested for stealing two Slush machines from a Sonic Drive-In. He was caught when he attempted to sell them to a recycling center.

According to the Fox 8 report, the slushy makers are valued at $15,000 and George Jensen, Jr. tried to sell them for about $165.

This is the kind of story that ever since finally reading Atlas Shrugged a few months, makes me giggle for all the wrong reasons :-\

DUKE NUKEM FOREVER is finished! Yes, really...

This has to be a SERIOUS sign that the Apocalypse truly is upon us!

When game studio 3D Realms started work on Duke Nukem Forever in 1996, Bill Clinton was winding down his first term as U.S. President. "Broadband Internet" meant a 56K modem. The first Star Wars prequel was only in pre-production. You could board a commercial airliner without once taking off your shoes. The Simpsons was still consistently funny. Gasoline cost around a dollar a gallon. "Burning a CD" was uncommon vernacular. Pluto was still a planet.

Fifteen years, millions of dollars wasted, multiple changes in graphics engines and a studio takeover later, the game that has come to be called "Duke Nukem Never", "Duke Nukem Whenever", "Duke Nukem If-Ever", "Duke Nukem Not-Ever" and so many other mocking epithets is finally a finished product and has been released to manufacturing!

No, I'm not kidding. Even as you read this, shrink-wrapped boxes of the game are being prepared. Duke Nukem Forever will be published for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PCs on June 10th.

(Kinda hilarious when you consider that when work on the game commenced that Microsoft hadn't even announced the first Xbox yet...)

Now, not to be a "Doubting Thomas" type but I still won't be 100% convinced until I see it with my own two eyes. So if there is a midnight release for Duke Nukem Forever I plan on being at the nearest GameStop on the night of June 9th along with good friend and fellow blogger Steven Glaspie. I'm probably not gonna buy the game but after all this time of watching its development I just gotta make sure that I'm not hallucinating its release :-P

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Forever young...

The Knight Shift's eclectic proprietor joins many, many other fans and admirers around the world in wishing Bob Dylan all the best on this, his seventieth birthday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Breaking News: Reidsville's Confederate monument smashed to smithereens!

The Confederate Soldiers Monument that has served as the best-known landmark of downtown Reidsville, North Carolina for more than a hundred years is a shattered ruin this morning. The Confederate soldier statue himself? Resting in pieces.

Around 4:30 a.m. today the driver of a van apparently fell asleep at the wheel, sending his vehicle plowing into the monument. The impact was enough to shift the pedestal on its base and toppled the statue. As of this writing an auto shop is working to free the Confederate soldier's head from the hull of the van.

No word yet on what's going to be done with the monument. It would be great to see it restored, given how it's become such a notable figure on the downtown landscape.

Special thanks to Ernie Morris for providing the photo!

EDIT 12:12 p.m. EST: WGHP Fox 8 photojournalist Chris Weaver has posted this pic of the statue on his Facebook page. And there are more photos accompanying the Fox 8 story about the accident...

Okay, 'fess up: who else living around here has Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" running through your head while looking at this?

In all seriousness though: it's great that nobody was injured, and here's hoping that the monument can soon be restored to its former condition.

(And hey, who knows: this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I mean, it could finally give us Reidsvillians the opportunity to settle once and for all which direction the soldier is supposed to be facing! :-P)

School board elections need no partisanship

Some legislative representatives of neighboring Forsyth County are seeking to re-introduce partisan elections for that county's school board. Two years ago the General Assembly passed a bill that made elections to the board a matter of no regard to party affiliation.

The measure is being spearheaded by Dale Folwell, one of Forsyth's representatives in the North Carolina House. And his rationale for partisan school board elections?

...lawmaker Dale Folwell said party affiliations noted on the ballot helps voters make their decisions.

Folwell said nonpartisan races attracted fewer votes in the last election in part because those races are at the bottom of the ballot and because candidates had no party affiliation to help voters choose.

"People, when they go to the ballot box, need as much info as they can get," Folwell said Friday.

Knowing what party a candidate belongs to is supposed to be vital information?


And this is one of the biggest reasons why this country is so messed up, ladies and gentlemen.

Folwell's argument is basically this: that the citizens of Forsyth County are too LAZY to gauge a candidate's worthiness of being elected, without knowing what party that candidate belongs to.

In other words: the ballot for school board has to be - I know of no other way to put it - "dumbed down" for voters to sufficiently understand enough to participate in its election.

But let's be honest: this has nothing at all to do with serving the best interests of the people of Forsyth County. And it has everything to do with giving one party an edge over another. This has always been the motive of such attempts, regardless of which party has been behind them.

I have said it many times before: the United States can not grow anywhere close to its fullest potential, until we consciously and vigorously abandon blind ideologies and begin instead to return to the arena of true ideas. That politicians want to play partisan games with the realm of education - the pursuit of enlightenment and wisdom - demonstrates that said officials have no sincere interest in education at all!

Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, major flooding, mass animal die-offs, weird atmospheric phenomena, hurricane season starting up...

Perhaps it is just me, but real life lately is way, way too much resembling the prologue of the 1980 movie Flash Gordon...


Well, at least we've been spared the hot hail so far.

I have a confession to make: Flash Gordon is on my short list of all-time favorite "guilty pleasure" movies. It's a film so exorbitantly bad that it's insanely good! But I doubt that Dino De Laurentiis ever intended this to be a "serious" movie anyway. It's just good clean tongue-in-cheek camp, made even more awesome with that classic soundtrack by Queen! I've also read that Max von Sydow considers this to be one of his favorite movies that he's worked on, because of all the outrageous costumes that he got to wear as Emperor Ming the Merciless.

(And c'mon, Sydow's Ming is one of the greatest film villains in the history of anything. You know it's true :-)

Here's hoping that all the stuff going on lately is just bad coincidence. I'd hate to think that Ming really is out there on Planet Mongo, waiting to see if anybody is noticing his handiwork :-P

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Something that can't be said nearly enough


I just want to say, to The Knight Shift's faithful readers and to those who are fortunate(?) to find this blog...

Don't ever stop being thankful for the people that God has put into your life.

And I know that I have said much the same before. But, I wouldn't be led to say it again, if I didn't have to be especially appreciative of that lately.

This week my family went through one ordeal after another. Later today is the funeral for one member who I loved and cherished very dearly. Several days earlier, we almost lost another.

None of us are guaranteed next year, next month, heck not even the next day. Today is the present and that is exactly what it is: a present, a gift from God! And it is one that is priceless beyond all measure. Every moment, every iota of it is too precious to squander on things like indifference, or anger, or lack of forgiveness.

The loved ones in your life, Dear Reader, today I ask you with all my heart: remind them that they are loved. Remind them that you love and appreciate them. Tell them that you thank God that He has blessed you with their presence! And if there is anyone that something has come in between you, well... don't let that stop you either. Because you just never know...

That is all, for now. But in the next few days, I am going to write about Aunt Tom. Because, she was and always will be a character worth remembering :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I heard that Rapture is today...

...and I can't wait to finally load up on plasmids!

Huh? What's that?! You mean... it's not THAT Rapture, but instead the other kind?!?!?


Dear Mr. Harold Camping: "Would you kindly..." stop with this nonsense? We are told in the Bible that no one but the Father in Heaven knows when the end of days will come. This shouldn't be anything we're meant to be concerned with anyway. In his epistles to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul taught that we are to occupy with the business of living for Christ, and not be swept up in this sort of fear-mongering.

Yes, I look forward also to the return of our Lord and Savior. And I do believe that He is coming again. How? Because I believe that He came the first time. The path that I took to my faith in Christ, it's not one I can honestly wish for anyone to find themselves on, because I couldn't find it within myself to believe without seeing. Indeed, I consider my own faith to be inferior to that of most of those who God has blessed my life with.

In the end, it came down to this: the historical record of the life of Jesus Christ, is something that I cannot deny. He came before and I cannot doubt that He will come again.

And I wish that He would come soon. I do want to be reunited with so many loved ones that have departed already. I long for the reunion and renewal of too many relationships that have gone by the wayside, that I see now will have to await the presence of Christ for that healing.

I don't know the date that He will come. And I am extremely doubtful that He will come this day. But I do know that He will come, in the Father's due time.

Until then, there is much left for us who follow Him. We are to show His love, His light, His life within us to the world around us. We aren't called to a spirit of fear and cowering, but of hope!

I can wait for His arrival. In the meantime, there's plenty to keep ourselves busy with.

The stranger tale of Blackbeard's skull

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened yesterday and I am hearing extremely disparate word about it. The descriptors being most bandied about this movie are that it's "bad" and "rotten", and only a few saying they were entertained... but even those are pretty lukewarm about it. I'm waiting to hear from one of the coolest cats I know, who's seen it and he's supposed to have a review soon. So I may or may not catch it this weekend.

But seeing as how Edward Teach aka Blackbeard the Pirate is a prominent character in this latest chapter of the saga of Captain Jack Sparrow, I thought it'd be fun to reflect on a bit of North Carolina lore about the legendary pirate. Namely: the long-enduring story that Blackbeard's skull is today being used as a wine goblet for a secret society's dark rituals! Yes folks, depending on you believe and who you can get in good with, there is a place here in the Tarheel State where you can swig a healthy-sized libation from the noggin of history's most infamous pirate captain!

Most versions have it that a fraternity or somesuch a few miles away at Chapel Hill is in custody of Blackbeard's silver-encrusted skull. Others say that it's being kept around the Outer Banks. Here is one account of drinking from the skull of Blackbeard, originating from no less an authority that Charles Whedbee: the late respected collector of North Carolina stories.

Drinking wine from Blackbeard's skull. Ehhhh... makes me all the more thankful that I'm pretty much a teetotaler :-P

Friday, May 20, 2011

First picture of Tom Hardy as Bane in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The official site for The Dark Knight Rises has gone online and much like the gradual reveal of Heath Ledger's Joker during the lead-up to The Dark Knight a few years ago, the Warner Bros. marketing team has left it to the fans to figure out how to get their first glimpse at the next Batman movie's big villain.

But those industrious folks at ComingSoon.net got to it first. Here's the first official look at Tom Hardy as Bane!

Well, he doesn't have the tubes running to the back of his skull for the Venom drug... but I can definitely dig this being Bane. Hardy looks the part without the mask being "Gimp"-y at all.

Maybe this'll be the final nail in the coffin of the bad memories still lingering from Batman & Robin... :-P

On God and one's life...

God can do many things with your life... but what He CAN'T do is make a boring story out of it!

(Very special thanks to good friend Kristen, who in more ways than one God used to lead me to that contemplation this week :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Elon University named #1 "Most Beautiful College Campus"!

My beloved alma mater, Elon University, has just been named #1 on the list of 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses by collegiate review website The Best Colleges. Also on the list are Duke University, Wake Forest University and UNC-Chapel Hill (all here in North Carolina), Texas A&M, Ole Miss, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Yale, and Princeton.


The Best Colleges cited that "this campus not only offers an exceptional education but has been the site of several films... Elon has been named the prettiest campus in the country on multiple occasions, including landing at the top spot in rankings by the Princeton Review and the New York Times. We can't argue, and Elon takes the top spot in our list of the prettiest college campuses."

I have to heartily agree... and I'd do so even if I were not a proud Fighting Christian errrr, "Phoenix" (still getting used to that :-) But Elon is not only a very beautiful place, it also epitomizes everything about what it means to most fully experience the pursuit of higher education: not just in the college years, but for life. Elon was the place where I learned not only much about the world, but much more about myself than I ever had before... and probably even since.

Yeah, I'll recommend it to any prospective students ;-)

Anyhoo, congrats to Elon University on the recognition!

The teaser and first posters for THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: SECRET OF THE UNICORN!

As of this writing I'm in the midst of an emergency that has me... well, occupied, to put it mildly. Can't say enough how thankful my family is for the thoughts and prayers that a lot of people have been sending. And that's all I should say for the time being.

But I've a dire need to post something upbeat. And all two of my readers (okay there's more than that, and this blogger appreciates every one of you who takes time to read The Knight Shift on a regular basis :-) deserve something uber-kewl to tide y'all over until I get back to regular postin'.

So let me preface this by saying thusly, that you heard it here first: this movie will make a billion dollars at the box office. At least.

It was the summer of 1993, during my crazy two-week visit to a good friend in Belgium, that I was introduced to The Adventures of Tintin. And in spite of the sad lack of availability of the Tintin comics on this side of the pond, I most certainly consider myself to be a fan of Tintin: the intrepid young investigative journalist who along with faithful canine sidekick Snowy, has a lot of neat... ummmmmm... well, adventures :-) Tintin is a huge phenomenon all around the world but not in America. Not yet...

I told my friend Bennie in '93 that Tintin would make an awesome movie. I've been waiting for that to happen ever since.

Well, coming this Christmas to movie theaters everywhere, it's The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Directed by... Steven Spielberg (it's his first time ever directing a CGI film)! Produced by... Peter Jackson! The screenplay by... Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish! Orchestral score by... John Williams! Starring... Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Cary Elwes, and Daniel Craig! Among many others!

Holy Toledo. Just seeing Spielberg's and Jackson's and Williams' and Moffat's (currently the showrunner of Doctor Who) together like that alone gives me geek cardiac infarction.

Well a few days ago the international and U.S. teaser posters were released. Here's the international poster and courtesy of Ain't It Cool News the site that got it first, here's the AWESOME domestic poster for The Adventures of Tintin...

Click on it to drastically embiggenize.

That is... totally Tintin and Snowy. The darkness and ambiance of this image, is spot-on the world of Tintin.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!! Now behold the first teaser trailer that got released yesterday. Is this not the most GLORIOUS computer-generated animated EVER or what?!?

Can not, can not, CAN NOT wait until Christmas! This is going to be epic on a generational scale.

Okay, that should satisfy y'all until I can get back good 'n proper in the next few days :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

When I want more than a wink from God...

For most of the past several months, going back to late summer, I have been... well, pick your terminology: "led to", "compelled to", "reduced to", what have you... crying out to God. Crying metaphorically and quite literally and very tearfully.

I am finally beginning to appreciate that in spite of lamenting His absence so many times, that He has been there all along. And that He has been faithful, even when my own faith has faltered all too often.

And now, I can put it no more clear than this: I can see at last that God has been "winking" at me.

He has let me know that He has heard me. That He knows what I am going through. That He has grieved alongside me, about all the things that I have hurt over.

So, I can't but be thankful that in so many, mostly little ways, that He has been winking at me.

So is it wrong to hope that He could at least give me a clear whisper sometime, and really assure me that He knows that I am doing my best to seek after Him? I mean, at least some indication that I'm doing something right and if not, to tell me what He needs me to do?

Winks from God, when you know what they are, are wonderful. I am greatly comforted by them. But it'd be seriously awesome if He gave me even a little bit of a real hint at what He needs of me.

But then, I am reminded of something else: that I have been a follower of Christ for nearly fifteen years and I should have come to fully realize by now that to follow Christ has never meant a life of comfort and ease and safety. Far from it! If anything, to follow Christ means a lifetime of nearly continuous hardships and trials and sufferings!

Why did I ever think that God would do something to make my journey through this life any more comfortable?

All of this time, I have been hoping and praying that God might bring healing, that He would bring reconciliation, that He would bring restoration of things lost. I had come to earnestly believe that if I just sought Him out "a little harder" that He would make things better. And I guess that I was just kidding myself. But that's not His fault at all, and not even really my own, but I digress...

God doesn't guarantee a safe and sound passage through this world, free of travails and tribulations. But He does assure us, as many times as we need Him to, that He will bring us through to the destination He has prepared for us.

That is probably going to be the most comfort that I will ever find in this lifetime, in regard to things that I wish were otherwise. But I know: I have trusted Him - and not my own effort - to bring me home.

He has brought me this far already.

There is no reason to believe He will not bring me further still :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

BEING BIPOLAR: Video Log 9 - Lonely

Making a new video supplement wasn't something that I'd had in mind to do late last night, but... just had some things on my mind that I felt led to share.

This is the first Being Bipolar video that I've made with my iPad. Still playing around with figuring everything out, but that's why the aspect ratio is more vertical than horizontal with this segment. Next time I'll know better :-)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

By Odin's beard! Chris declares that THOR is worthy indeed!

If there are movie theaters in Heaven, then Jack Kirby has to be smiling this week.

Because I saw Thor at 12:01 this past Friday morning and the more I think about it the more I find myself believing it to be the best pure comic book superhero movie that I've ever seen.

Based on the Marvel Comics character created by Kirby, Stan Lee and Larry Leiber, Thor is the adaptation of "The King"'s trademark vast cosmic vision that we always wanted in a movie but never thought we'd actually get! I would even say that Thor is a film that we've seen precious little of since the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope, NOT The Phantom Menace). Directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth as the titular Norse god of thunder, Thor is a movie of big concepts painted with broad brushes across an epic scale...

...and it is one heckuva fun ride!

Thor doesn't bother with puny mortal concerns like justifying the reality of science with the mystic wonder of magic. As Thor describes it at one point, his world is one where science and magic are one and the same. Or if you want a more pedestrian explanation: Thor and his people are an alien civilization of overwhelming power and achievement, that we Earthlings can only perceive as magic. I liked that. It's what lets a movie like Thor dispense with tedious rationale and get on to the action, action, ACTION!

The film's plot - the story comes from Mark Protosevich and J. Michael Straczynski: a man who has no small amount of experience in this sort of thing (he created Babylon 5) - will be gratefully acknowledged by those who have followed Thor in Marvel Comics, while also being readily accessible to those unfamiliar with the character. The movie opens with Thor being thrown down from heaven (literally) and crashing into the New Mexico desert, where he is found by scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Jane's advisor Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). Thinking that this strapping muscular blond guy needs medical attention, Jane and crew ferry the unconscious Thor off to a hospital... and failing to notice the metal hammer that has followed Thor from space.

From there we get a glorious synopsis of the world that Thor comes from, courtesy of monologue from Thor's father Odin, the king of Asgard (played magnificently by Sir Anthony Hopkins). We see how the race of Asgardians battled the Frost Giants over a thousand years ago to keep them from conquering the Nine Worlds (of which Midgard - the realm of Earth - is a part). We see Odin taking his young sons Thor and Loki to look at the Casket of Ancient Winters, the source of the Frost Giants' power. The obvious setup is that the Frost Giants will soon (in Asgardian terms if not human) try to take back what was once theirs.

That comes several hundreds of years later when Odin is about to proclaim Thor (Hemsworth) King of Asgard with Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Queen Frigga (Rene Russo) and the rest of the royal court witnessing the coronation. The Frost Giants attempt to steal the Casket, they fail... and Thor is perturbed, to put it mildly. So Thor gathers up his posse consisting of Loki, Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano and Joshua Dallas). They make their way over the Bifrost Bridge to convince Heimdall (Idris Elba) to open the gate to the Giants' world of Jotunheim so that Thor and company can wage war on Laufey (Colm Feore) and his frigid brethren.

Well, Thor wanted battle and that's what he and his compatriots get. But it's not what Odin desires. Thor's daddy shows up, brings the wayward Asgardians back and has some not-so-nice words for Thor. The culmination of Thor's chastisement? The god of thunder is stripped of his powers and his hammer Mjolnir and cast down to Earth.

For the next good bit Thor is quite an entertaining "fish out of water" story. Thor knows who he is and he knows where Odin has exiled him to... but that doesn't stop him from making a Nordic spectacle of himself (the line that he tells the pet shop clerk is especially hilarious). But this isn't a story about fallen gods trying to hack it like mortals must: this is Marvel Comics' Thor and it's not long before Loki... who made a discovery about his own heritage during the jaunt to Jotunheim... takes advantage of Odin's fall into the deep Odinsleep in order to claim the throne of Asgard. Sif and the Warriors Three sneak to Earth to find Thor and from that point on magic, mystery, mischief and might are on a honkin' big collision course, culminating in a battle for all creation.

Thor is everything of the purest essence of comic bookdom's Silver Age writ large for the silver screen. Some will argue that the film might suffer a bit from a slower mid section, but you know what: I didn't have any particular problem with that. Because Thor at its heart is a story about humility and how one must learn to be humble. When we first see Thor he's brash, headstrong, eager to fight... and those aren't the qualities needed in a king. So we watch Thor learn the hard way that he's not the centerpiece of Asgard, and that a king must govern not so much with power as with wisdom. In that respect Thor might be too rushed for some people... but hey, if you're going to see Thor you're going to watch stuff like Thor fighting the Destroyer, not for Ayn Rand-ish soliloquies about virtue.

Chris Hemsworth is spot-on perfect as Thor. Anthony Hopkins brings the requisite weight and gravitas to the role of Odin. But the character that I really wound up digging the most was Tom Hiddleston's Loki. This is a villain who is so not like the stereotypical cartoon bad guy. Indeed: Loki is darn nearly a character that you must feel sympathy toward. It's obvious that beneath it all he loves his father and brother very dearly. This is the kind of complicated emotion that would have been fun to behold in Anakin Skywalker with the Star Wars prequels that we unfortunately didn't get. I can easily imagine that it will be but one more thing that will entice many to see Thor during its first run at the box office.

I'll give Thor my highest recommendation possible for a movie, and I'm probably going to catch it again later this week with some more friends. Oh yeah: look for Stan Lee in his most brief (and somehow funniest) cameo yet in a Marvel Comics movie. And don't be so quick to leave the theater: there's a scene after the credits which sets the stage for Thor's return in The Avengers next summer!

To a lot of people who read this site...

To whom it may concern:

I can not in good conscience be a part of this any further, nor can I provide support which has in the past been cheerfully rendered, until I am convinced that a significant taking of stock and reflection has transpired.

It is not only my own faith in this enterprise which has been shaken, but also that of numerous other individuals who I have spoken with.

If it means halting things now, then so be it. It would be better to pause and lose little at present than to see everything be made waste... and that is exactly where things are heading.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Come back Sunday night

I wanted to write up a review of Thor (which is an AWESOME movie, maybe the best purely comic book movie I've ever seen) along with something else that has been percolating for the few weeks or so...

...but my Muse has left me, and I must give her merry chase so that I can feel inspired enough to write well again.

(Figuratively of course. But if there really is a Muse, I plan to capture her again and hogtie her to the hood of my car and bring her back long enough to let me write some more :-)

Anyhoo, come back Sunday evening and there should be more stuff here.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Is this a real photo of Osama Bin Laden's corpse? WARNING: GRAPHIC

Earlier tonight a photo arrived and, I've been doing my best to research the bejeebers out of it but... I can't locate it anywhere. And I've shown it to a few trusted associates, asking them if they think it could be a Photoshop job. None of them came back with a decisive "yes it is". They don't know what to make of this either.

As best I can tell, the damage is pretty consistent with the details about how Osama Bin Laden went down, with the associated skull damage that we've heard about.

I thought long and hard about how to make a post of this. In the end, I chose to post the pic straight onto the blog. I'm not claiming that this is Osama Bin Laden after joining the choir invisible. In fact, I would welcome any and all evidence to the contrary. If it is Bin Laden's actual corpse, well... I don't see any reason why this should be hidden away. We have photos of Mussolini's corpse, of most of the Nazi high command's corpses following their executions, of Pol Pot's corpse... among many others. We even have photographs taken during the autopsy of President Kennedy, and those are also fairly available.

If this is the bodily remains of the mastermind of 9/11, I don't see how it should be treated any differently.

So here it is:

(EDIT 12:11 p.m. EST: The picture has now... and I am glad to report... been determined to be a fake. I am removing it from this post but if you do choose to see it here is a much better version of the same image.)

(And now back to work on the real post that I've been pouring my heart out into all night, which will be much better, in my earnest opinion!)

EDIT 1:14 a.m. EST: In all seriousness, please: if this is NOT Osama Bin Laden's body, then I want to take this photo down at once. I only ask for substantial evidence that it is not. Real history isn't something I wanna play games with, y'all.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fox 8's The Buckley Report follows up on me BEING BIPOLAR

Just before this past Christmas, Bob Buckley from Fox 8 WGHP interviewed me for a segment of the Emmy-winning The Buckley Report, dealing with my coming out about having bipolar disorder on this blog. Here's the link to that first story. A couple'o weeks ago he and Fox 8 photojournalist Chris Weaver (who also has an Emmy notched on his belt!) came back and filmed a follow-up story about the direction that I've taken since then: the Being Bipolar series, and the video supplements that I've used to chronicle and document what it's like to have a bipolar episode.

Well, it just aired on this evening's Fox 8 News 10:00 News and lo and behold it's already on the Fox 8 website!

Here's the direct link to the segment.

And look! Embeddable video thingy!


Good job Bob and Chris! Hope that this snags y'all another Emmy or two :-)

And this is why we need the grace of God...

My salvation does not depend on whether or not I agree with you, and your salvation thankfully will never depend upon my own regretfully limited wisdom.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is DEAD!

I guess that means we can finally get rid of the Department of Homeland Security and that unforgivable abomination of bureaucracy called the Transportation Security Administration. Right?


EDIT 11:52 p.m. EST: I will make note of my thankfulness that Bin Laden has finally come to his just desserts, by humbly suggesting that his corpse be given the "Mussolini treatment", culminating in his remains being eternally desecrated by wrapping them in pig skins.

But still: tonight, the United States has won as decisive a victory as could possibly be had against the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Some will say that this presents an opportunity to bring our armed forces home.

I disagree.

Tonight, there is an obligation to bring them home.

A few months shy of the tenth anniversary of the attacks, and we can finally say in all truthfulness, "Mission Accomplished".

If Americans want to feel earnest victory tonight, then we should begin to take a good hard look at what we have lost since 9/11... and resolve to take it back.