Saturday, March 31, 2007

When Pop Culture Icons Collide: Stern vs. Idol - NYT

American Idol - Vote for the Worst - TV - New York Times: "For the last few years, three-quarters of the network television executives in Hollywood have tried to figure out how to derail “American Idol,” the Fox juggernaut that dominates the prime-time ratings.

Now Howard Stern, of all people, says he has found the way.

For the last two weeks, Mr. Stern has been promoting a Web site created by a 24-year-old “American Idol” fan that encourages people to support the worst performer on the popular talent show. Their candidate has been Sanjaya Malakar, the off-key, lyric-fumbling, elaborately coiffed teenager who is perhaps the most talked-about “Idol” contestant ever.

“We’re corrupting the entire thing,” Mr. Stern said on his Sirius Satellite Radio show Thursday, the day after Mr. Malakar secured a place in the top nine finalists. “All of us are routing ‘American Idol.’ It’s so great. The No. 1 show in television and it’s getting ruined.”

By promoting Mr. Malakar, Mr. Stern says, he hopes to turn the talent competition into a farce and destroy its popularity."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ernest Hemingway + Marlene Dietrich Letters - New York Times

Ernest Hemingway - Marlene Dietrich - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum - New York Times: "Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and hunter of lions, was not good at everything, it seems, including aquatic love. At least that’s what he wrote to the actress Marlene Dietrich.

“It was too hot to make love if you can imagine that except under water and I was never very good at that,” he wrote to Dietrich in a November 1951 note from Cuba, one of 30 letters he wrote her from 1949 to 1959, reflecting their deeply intimate, flirtatious, yet apparently platonic relationship.

“They adored each other, but there was no sexual thing,” said Dietrich’s daughter, Maria Riva. “They were buddies, they were friends, they were comrades in arms.”

On Monday the public can ponder anew the affections and undercurrents that ran between two of the great figures of the 20th century when the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum here unseals 30 letters from Hemingway to Dietrich. The letters were given to the library’s Ernest Hemingway collection in 2003 by Ms. Riva, on the condition that they remain closed until now, giving the museum time to preserve them archivally.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

TV Week's Apple TV review roundup

TV Week: "The initial round of reviews for the new Apple TV are in, but the verdict is mixed: Though Apple's so-called 'TV iPod' allows users to seamlessly play downloaded movies and TV shows on their HDTVs, those looking for high-quality video are going to have to wait until iTunes embraces HD.

At first glance, most critics agree that Apple TV fulfills its promise to wirelessly link your home computer and HDTV. The unit, which went on sale last week for $299, is described by CNET as having a 'sleek external design.' The interface is 'a thing of beauty … like a scaled-up iPod Menu.'"

Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes Of All Time

Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes Of All Time from the Museum of Hoaxes website... hat tip Mark Evanier.

Happy Birthday, Jack Elrod!

The Comics Reporter: "Happy 83rd Birthday, Jack Elrod!"

The Mark Trail artist celebrates today, and Tom Spurgeon notes it with a panel from an Easter Sunday Mark Trail from a few years ago... the original artwork of which hangs in my office, courtesy of Mr. Elrod!

Sampson Says Gonzales Made False Statements

Sampson Grilled by Senators on U.S. Attorney Firings: Says Gonzales Made False Statements: "Specter asked about Attorney General Gonzales' 'candor' in saying earlier this month that he was not a part of any discussions on the firings. He asked about the November 27, 2006 meeting 'where there were discussions' and Gonzales allegedly attended. Was Gonzales' statement about taking part in no discussions accurate?

'I don't think it's accurate,' Sampson said. 'He recently clarified it. But he was present at the November 27 meeting.'"

Bush, Rove, Crack Up Press Corp

Bush, Rove, Crack Up Press Corp - 3/28/2007 9:28:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable: "White House adviser Karl Rove boogied, backed by NBC's David Gregory, Brian Wiliams burped the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' and the President cracked wise, all to the general delight, and occasional gales of laughter, of journalists gathered for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association dinner in Washington.

Rove was a better sport than a dancer, tapped by the surprise entertainment--Whose Line is It Anyway's Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood--for an improv rap number featuring 'MC Rove,' with Gregory as one of his backup dancers, and based on information supplied by Rove that, among other things, he collected stamps and liked to 'tear the tops' off of small animals."

Openness in the Episcopal Church - The Boston Globe

Openness in the Episcopal Church - The Boston Globe: "The Episcopal Church, in its deliberations, may come across to many as overly fractious as it grapples with what kind of faith community it will be in the 21st century, yet it is precisely within this tension that the best of our church is revealed.

Openness and transparency, including the airing of differences, is important to the life of faith lived in community and it is through this type of conflict and discussion that we understand how God is calling us into the future and how the church will respond to the contemporary world.

And so, in faithfulness to that tradition, the bishops approved resolutions affirming our desire to continue in the discernment process with the wider Communion about our church's place in it, but not at the expense of our polity, which is part of our church identity, and not at the expense of gay and lesbian members seeking full inclusion."

The author is the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts.

Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society

Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society - World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion

Very Short List provides the commentary about this fascinating website:

The equivalent of the Internet during the Renaissance might have been a Wunderkammer, a room filled with curiosities that often featured objects imported from the New World. Now the Internet has its own Wunderkammer in the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society Website, which culls fetching oddities from the virtual world; one such oddity is the “World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things” (featuring the world’s smallest representation of the world’s largest talking cow).

We first discovered one of our favorite Web videos at the Kircher Society, “The World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion.” In it, a teacher draws a huge, perfect circle almost instantly. The Society traced the historical antecedent of the demonstration to Giotto, and then compared the video to an incident in a story by Italo Calvino. It’s this depth and breadth of reference that make the site so appealing; the inspiration and namesake, Athanasius Kircher, a 17th-century scholar of the odd and wondrous, would have been pleased.

Yahoo email service to remove storage limits

Daily Briefing - "Yahoo Inc.'s free e-mail service will provide unlimited storage space to its nearly 250 million users worldwide —- a concept that seemed unfathomable just a few years ago. The move will trump its two largest rivals in free e-mail, Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., which currently provide 2 gigabytes and 2.8 gigabytes of free storage, respectively. Yahoo's e-mail users currently get 1 gigabyte of storage. Yahoo plans to gradually lift all space constraints in May, but it will take several months before all of Yahoo's e-mail users have infinite storage space. Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, the fourth-largest e-mail provider, began offering unlimited storage for free last summer. But Yahoo's e-mail service is nearly five times larger than AOL's."

Wonder if other services will follow suit?

Bookman: Will Congress finally dare to tell Bush no?

Will Congress finally dare to tell Bush no? Jay Bookman in the AJC: "For more than four years, President Bush has controlled every aspect of the war in Iraq. For more than four years, a docile Congress has given the president every penny he has sought to fight the so-called 'war on terror' —- the total is more than $400 billion —- and it has allowed him to spend that money as he saw fit.

The results have been disastrous, as most Americans now recognize. In a Newsweek poll taken earlier this month, 69 percent of Americans said they disapprove of how the president has handled the war, and given the gross incompetence at war-fighting demonstrated by this administration, you have to wonder at the 27 percent who believe he has done well.

If this is a good performance, what on earth would a bad one look like?

Never one to be cowed by mere reality, President Bush is now insisting that Congress appropriate another $100 billion for the war, demanding that it cough up the money 'with no strings attached.' He wants the money, in other words, but he wants it with no input or interference from Congress in how it is spent.

Well, no. The answer to that demand should be no. And Congress may at last be willing to say that word to the president."

A Radio Station Just for You - New York Times

A Radio Station Just for You - New York Times: "Currently, the most compelling online radio is interactive. Services like Pandora, and Slacker evaluate your musical tastes, then serve up a continuous stream of programming to match. They mix familiar songs with new material you might like. They all do it by harnessing the technological forces of social networking, data mining and music analysis, though each uses a slightly different technique."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

TVWeek: Some Ephemeral Moments

TVWeek Blog - Some Ephemeral Moments: "Not all TV can be timeless, of course, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is otherwise without value., a great site for fans of classic TV, has edited together a few choice echoes of the past that may pleasantly jog the memories of folks of a certain age.

If you remember the original NBC peacock, S&H Green Stamps, Dobie Gillis, Captain Kangaroo, “That Girl” and when a colorcast was special, then enjoy!
(Video available in RealPlayer format)"

Mysterious hexagon spotted above Saturn

Mysterious hexagon spotted above Saturn | the Daily Mail: "A mysterious giant hexagon lies above Saturn's north pole, captured by cameras on Nasa's Cassini Orbiter.

Spanning 25,000km - equivalent to the width of two planet Earths - the bizarre geometric feature appears to remain virtually still in the atmosphere as clouds swirl around it."

Check out the pix.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Joe Q: Dr. Strange's Sanctorum in 3-D - Marvel Blogs - Cup of Blog by Joe Quesada: "Last time I posted I was showing off a 3-D view of Stark Tower created by my pal Jason Christensen. From the reaction we received to that piece, it seems like you cats really dug it.

Well, never let it be said that your ol' pal, Joey Q ain't thinking about ya. So, due to popular demand, here's another 3-D ditty for you all. I call it a 3-D Astral Fly By of Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum."

Street Prophets: Save Yourselves

Street Prophets' PastorDan: Save Yourselves: "Rod Dreher at BeliefNet links to what he calls “a pretty powerful analysis, from a Christian perspective, about what leftism in power increasingly means for Christians and social traditionalists”.

That’s offensive by itself, implying that Christians and leftists cannot be the same thing. But the true wankery arises in the quoted piece..." Check it out.

Crooks and Liars: Pray for Tony

Crooks and Liars' Nicole Belle: "We give a lot of grief to Tony Snow (and not without cause), but as someone who had a cancer scare of my own, this is the last news any cancer patient wants to hear. And as we sent thoughts and prayers to Elizabeth Edwards, so too, should we send them to Tony Snow and his family, for what they are about to face. This isn't about partisanship, this is about humanity."

Coming in July! Living Loved

From Seabury yours truly. Here's the preliminary cover.

NOTE: For some reason this jpeg reproduces as a color negative... but it's kinda cool this way!

Details: Chabon excerpt and Q&A

MICHAEL CHABON Q&A: DETAILS Article on "Online exclusive: The Pulitzer Prize winner talks about his upcoming novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Plus: Read the first half of our exclusive excerpt here and get the rest in the April issue of Details."

For Some Black Pastors, Accepting Gay Members Means Losing Others - New York Times

For Some Black Pastors, Accepting Gay Members Means Losing Others - New York Times: "In the Atlanta area, a hub of African-American life, only a few black churches have preached acceptance of gay men and lesbians, Mr. Meredith said. At one of those congregations, Victory Church in Stone Mountain, attendance on Sundays has fallen to 3,000 people, from about 6,000 four or five years ago, said the Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel, the senior pastor.

Some black ministers, like their white counterparts, said they had been moved to reconsider biblical passages about same-sex relations by personal events, like finding out that a friend or relative is gay. Some members of the clergy contend that because of the antipathy to gay men and lesbians, black churches have done little to address the high rate of H.I.V. infection among African-Americans.

“The church has to come to a point when it has to embrace all the people Jesus embraced, and that means the people in the margins,” Dr. Samuel said. “It really bothered my congregation when I said that as people of color who have been ostracized, marginalized, how can we turn around now and oppress other people?”"

Monday, March 26, 2007

THE BEAT: RIP Marshall Rogers

THE BEAT - RIP Marshall Rogers: "Artist Marshall Rogers, who won acclaim for his stylish depiction of Batman, has died at age 57.

“Marshall was one of the radical young stylists bringing new looks to DC in the ‘70s, especially with his memorable collaboration with Steve Englehart on Batman,” says DC Comics President & Publisher Paul Levitz. “His debonair smile and charm were every bit as endearing as his art was energetic, and his colleagues at DC are all shocked to have a great artist pass so young.”"

Evanier: The final "What's My Line?" Mystery Guest

news from me - ARCHIVES: "When it came time to select a Mystery Guest for the final broadcast on September 3, 1967, someone realized there was no point in saving the idea for the future. The show had no future. It was also, obviously, appropriate for the last show. So Daly pretended to be a Mystery Guest, attempting to stump a panel that consisted of Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Steve Allen and Bennett Cerf. Let's see how he did..."

Check it out!

BBC on the comic book genius of Stan Lee

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | The comic book genius of Stan Lee: "Stan Lee, the man responsible for a string of comic superheroes that have become household names, has won a court battle for a slice of the profits from the hit Spider-Man movies."

However, as Evanier points out:
"Over on the BBC website, there's an article about Stan Lee that may set some sort of record for the most errors ever in an article about someone in the comic book industry. They don't even get his birth name right, which you can do with about ten seconds of Googling.

If you know about comic book history, take a look but treat it as one of those "How many mistakes can you find in this picture?" exercises. If you don't know about comic book history, don't click. No wonder the author didn't take a byline."

Toronto Star: Gahan Wilson, cartoonist of the macabre - artsentertainment - Cartoonist of the macabre: Nice article about a terrific cartoonist.

The Case for Teaching The Bible | TIME

The Case for Teaching The Bible | TIME: "Citing a series of Supreme Court decisions culminating in 1963's Abington Township School District v. Schempp, which removed prayer and devotion from the classroom, the skeptics ask whether it is safe to bring back the source of all that sectarianism. But a new, post-Schempp coalition insists it is essential to do so. It argues that teaching the Bible in schools--as an object of study, not God's received word--is eminently constitutional. The Bible so pervades Western culture, it says, that it's hard to call anyone educated who hasn't at least given thought to its key passages. Finally, it claims that the current civic climate makes it a 'now more than ever' proposition. Says Stephen Prothero, chair of the Boston University religion department, whose new book, Religious Literacy (Harper SanFrancisco), presents a compelling argument for Bible-literacy courses: 'In the late '70s, [students] knew nothing about religion, and it didn't matter. But then religion rushed into the public square. What purpose could it possibly serve for citizens to be ignorant of all that?' The 'new consensus' for secular Bible study argues that knowledge of it is essential to being a full-fledged, well-rounded citizen. Let's examine that argument."

Fifteen seconds to set a TV show's perfect tone

Fifteen seconds to set a TV show's perfect tone | "Special production houses strive to take the art of TV title sequences to new highs."

The art and science of TV program opening titles.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The President’s Prison - NYT editorial

The President’s Prison - New York Times editorial: "The president has been told countless times, by a secretary of state, by members of Congress, by heads of friendly governments — and by the American public — that the Guant�namo Bay detention camp has profoundly damaged this nation’s credibility as a champion of justice and human rights. But Mr. Bush ignored those voices — and now it seems he has done the same to his new defense secretary, Robert Gates, the man Mr. Bush brought in to clean up Donald Rumsfeld’s mess."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Conan: Casting for Bush Admin TV Movie

Apple Cult Becoming a Religion - New York Times

Apple Cult Becoming a Religion - New York Times: "APPLE will not release the iPhone until June, but Leander Kahney, the writer of “The Cult of Mac” blog, posited this week on Wired News that the new phone is already partly responsible for a major change in how the company is perceived ( After nearly three decades, Apple is finally being taken seriously not just by the true believers, but by just about everybody.

According to Mr. Kahney, this shift has taken place in the last few weeks, as both the iPhone and, more recently, Apple TV, have quickly become “must have” products. “A lot of people thought Apple got lucky with the iPod,” Mr. Kahney wrote. “It was a one-hit wonder, a fluke not likely to be repeated.” But the iPhone is already thought of as an “industry-changing smash hit,” and Apple TV, which at first drew shrugs, now may even eclipse the iPhone, according to the predictions of some (though by no means many) people ("

Friday, March 23, 2007

Onion News Network coming!

Eat The Press | Behold, The Onion News Network: "You'll Never Read Again" | The Huffington Post: "Today the WSJ reports on the soon-to-be-launching Onion News Network, which in the promo to the left promises 'April 2007' but the WSJ reports is launching on Tuesday. ONN will 'parody the visual style and breathless reporting of 24-hour cable news networks like CNN' but in truth, judging by the promo, actually looks slicker and edgier, with less screaming graphics."

New Study Offers More Bad News For GOP -

New Study Offers More Bad News For GOP - "The midterm elections dispelled for the time being the notion that the Republican Party had established an enduring grip on power -- and now a new study sees some dark clouds over the future of the GOP.

The analysis of 20 years of polling data by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press says that half of the public identifies as a Democrat or leans that way. Just 35 percent align with the Republican Party. In 2002, the country was split, 43 percent affiliating with the Republicans and the same percentage with the Democrats."

Comcast Spidey Website

SPIDER-MAN 3 ON COMCAST: Comcast cable has a nice website for Spider-Man 3, including the Exclusive Final Trailer... check it out!

Divided House approves Iraq withdrawal bill in challenge to Bush

Divided House approves Iraq withdrawal bill in challenge to Bush (AP): "A sharply divided House voted Friday to order President Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq next year, a victory for Democrats in an epic war-powers struggle and Congress' boldest challenge yet to the administration's policy.

Just over an hour later, an angry Bush accused Democrats of staging nothing more than political theater and said that if the spending bill is not approved and signed into law by April 15, troops and their families 'will face significant disruptions.'"

Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan on Faith, Religion, Tolerance, Moderates, Bible, God, Islam, Atheism, Jesus, Christian Nation --

Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan on Faith, Religion, Tolerance, Moderates, Bible, God, Islam, Atheism, Jesus, Christian Nation -- "Best-selling atheist Sam Harris and pro-religion blogger Andrew Sullivan debate God, faith, and fundamentalism."

Was Houdini murdered?

Was Houdini murdered? | "For all his death-defying stunts, Harry Houdini couldn't escape the Grim Reaper: He died on Halloween in 1926, despite being in extraordinary physical shape at age 52.

But rumors that he was murdered have persisted for decades.

Eighty-one years after Houdini's death, his great-nephew, George Hardeen, wants the escape artist's body exhumed to determine if enemies poisoned him for debunking their bogus claims of contact with the dead."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

TV Week: NBC and News Corp. team up to battle YouTube

TV Week: "News Corp. and NBC Universal are teaming up with some of the biggest Internet companies to create a video Web site meant to challenge YouTube's supremacy as a destination for watching television and movie clips."

Harry Smith spars with Tony Snow on subpoenas - CBS News

CBS News Video - Top Stories and Video News Clips at "Harry Smith and White House Spokesman Tony Snow had a testy exchange regarding the fired federal prosecutors scandal." Click to watch.

Edwards Will Continue Presidential Run

Edwards Will Continue Presidential Run: "Democrat John Edwards is forging ahead with his second bid for the presidency despite the sobering news that his wife, Elizabeth, is battling an incurable reappearance of cancer.

The presidential candidate revealed the closely guarded prognosis—even family friends and some senior campaign staff were unaware—at a news conference Thursday, his wife by his side in the hotel garden where they married 30 years ago."

Amend, Coverly, and Piraro Are Finalists for Top Cartoonist

Amend, Coverly, and Piraro Are Finalists for Top Cartoonist: "The creators of 'FoxTrot,' 'Speed Bump,' and 'Bizarro' are this year's nominees for the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award as cartoonist of the year."

Evanier: a sad story

news from me: "Once upon a time — to coin a phrase — Jack Hanrahan was one half of the hottest comedy-writing team in Hollywood. I knew the names of Phil Hahn and Jack Hanrahan from Mad Magazine and I believe before that, they were among the top writers of humorous greeting cards for Hallmark. They went from Mad to very successful careers writing for TV shows including Get Smart, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Sonny and Cher and many others. They also wrote a lot of animation, including the 1967 Fantastic Four cartoon show, Birdman, The Banana Splits and whatever else Hanna-Barbera was producing around then. On his own, after he and Phil went their separate ways, Jack later wrote Inspector Gadget, Heathcliff, Beverly Hills Teens and dozens of other shows..."

I remember his name from TV credits and Mad magazine... check out the rest of the story.

Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership - New York Times

Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership - New York Times: "Responding to an ultimatum from leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion, bishops of the Episcopal Church have rejected a key demand to create a parallel leadership structure to serve the conservative minority of Episcopalians who oppose their church’s liberal stand on homosexuality.

The bishops, meeting privately at a retreat center outside Houston, said they were aware that the stand they were taking could lead to the exclusion of the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, an international confederation of churches tied to the Church of England.

They said they had a “deep longing” to remain part of the Communion, but were unwilling to compromise the Episcopal Church’s autonomy and its commitment to full equality for all people, including gay men and lesbians."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

At least my book can visit Italy

Thanks to my pal Michael from Germany for this pic of my book which accompanied him last fall to Italy for vacation. Someday I hope to get there personally!

Evanier: Larry "Bud" Melman, RIP

news from me: "Over in the David Letterman newsgroup, Letterman authority Don 'Donz' Giller has reported the death of character actor Calvert DeForest, who was a fixture of Dave's TV shows, first as Larry 'Bud' Melman on the NBC show and later under his own name on CBS. According to Giller's posting, DeForest died Thursday night from a heart attack after contracting pneumonia."

TVWeek's Timeless TV Blog: Bewitched

TVWeek Blog � Tom Gilbert: "There are few sitcoms as good as “Bewitched.” I mean, come on, Agnes Moorehead as imperious Endora? How great was she? And Marion Lorne as stuttering, bumbling Aunt Clara? You can’t even tell she’s acting."

This American Life TV Sample

Watch here. Chris Ware did the opening animation. Chilling.

ENS: Episcopal Bishops say "no" to Primates' scheme

Episcopal News Service: Here are the resolutions coming out of the Episcopal bishops' meetings, and they're very encouraging. The Episcopal church may end up benched from the world Anglican community, but if so it will be with honor and dignity, and reflective of the gospel.

NYT OpEd: Iglesias: Why I was fired

Why I Was Fired - New York Times: "WITH this week’s release of more than 3,000 Justice Department e-mail messages about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, it seems clear that politics played a role in the ousters.

Of course, as one of the eight, I’ve felt this way for some time. But now that the record is out there in black and white for the rest of the country to see, the argument that we were fired for “performance related” reasons (in the words of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty) is starting to look more than a little wobbly."

NYT: This American Life heads to TV

This American Life - Ira Glass - TV - New York Times: "Few approaches to telling stories would seem less suited to modern television than that of the radio show “This American Life”: Tales unfold at a pace set by the normal speaking voice, the driving ethos is one of empathy, and when the epiphanies come, they seem to arrive of their own accord. It isn’t exactly “Flavor of Love.”

As a popular feature on public radio, “This American Life” and its host, Ira Glass, have used this simple method to engage the listener with normal people who just happen to be abnormally interesting."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

TCR: Jay Kennedy, RIP

The Comics Reporter: "Jay Kennedy, the editor in chief of King Features Syndicate and a prominent comics editor and historian, died on Thursday, March 15, drowning during a riptide incident while on vacation in Costa Rica. He was 50 years old."

Tom Spurgeon has an extensive obituary.

Iraq Veterans Memorial

Iraq Veterans Memorial: "The Iraq Veterans Memorial is an online war memorial that honors the members of the U.S. armed forces who have lost their lives serving in the Iraq War. The Memorial is a collection of video memories from family, friends, military colleagues, and co-workers of those that have fallen."

Abrams to Republish Comics Adaptation of M

Abrams to Republish Comics Adaptation of M - 3/20/2007 9:11:00 AM - Publishers Weekly: "Harry N. Abrams has acquired world rights to Jon J. Muth’s out-of-print adaptation of M, Fritz Lang’s classic film, and plans to republish the book in hardcover packaged with a DVD of the movie in Spring 2008. The book was acquired by Abrams senior editor Charles Kochman in a deal brokered by agent Allen Spiegel.

Muth is an acclaimed comics artist and children’s book illustrator. He is the author of the bestselling children’s picture books Zen Shorts and Three Questions (2005, 2002 both from Scholastic) and also illustrated Carolyn Kennedy’s national bestseller A Family of Poems (Hyperion) in 2005. His adaptation of Fritz Lang’s classic thriller was originally published in 1990 as a serial by Eclipse Comics and has never been collected into a single volume."

NYT: "Across the Universe" film experiencing double vision

Across the Universe - Julie Taymor - Movies - New York Times: "In Hollywood creative differences among moviemakers often make for more interesting results on the screen. But rarely do those battles escalate so much that a studio takes a movie away from an award-winning director.

Such is the case — for the moment — with “Across the Universe,” a $45-million psychedelic love story set to the music of the Beatles, directed by Julie Taymor, the stage and screen talent whose innovative interpretation of the Disney animated film “The Lion King” is one of the most successful modern stage musicals.

After Ms. Taymor delivered the movie to Joe Roth, the film executive whose production company, Revolution Studios, based at Sony, is making the Beatles musical, he created his own version without her agreement. And last week Mr. Roth tested his cut of the film, which is about a half-hour shorter than Ms. Taymor’s 2-hour-8-minute version."

Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift With Anglicans - New York Times

Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift With Anglicans - New York Times: "As leaders of the Anglican Communion hold meeting after meeting to debate severing ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States for consecrating an openly gay bishop, one of the unspoken complications is just who has been paying the bills.

The truth is, the Episcopal Church bankrolls much of the Communion’s operations. And a cutoff of that money, while unlikely at this time, could deal the Communion a devastating blow.

The Episcopal Church’s 2.3 million members make up a small fraction of the 77 million members in the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest affiliation of Christian churches. Nevertheless, the Episcopal Church finances at least a third of the Communion’s annual operations."

Monday, March 19, 2007

TAWOK&C: Chabon's serial to be pubbed with Gianni illos!

The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay - News: "Del Rey, a subdivision of Random House Publishing Group, announced Tuesday that it had acquired the publishing rights to Michael Chabon's serialized novel Gentlemen of the Road.

The novel, currently appearing in The New York Times Magazine's Funny Pages, will hit stands in hardcover form Nov. 6. The pricetag is $18.95.

'I’m tremendously excited to bring to Del Rey a writer whose previous work has brought so much enjoyment to fans of our genre,” said Del Rey Editor-in-Chief Betsy Mitchell in a statement. 'This new story features all the exotic locales, adventure and intrigue a reader could want, told in a spellbinding voice.'

The hardcover edition will contain new material, as well as black and white illustrations by Gary Gianni. Mary Evans, who has long acted as Chabon's agent, brokered the deal for the English publishing rights."

WaPo: Iraq war enters year 5

Iraq War's Statistics Prove Fleeting - "The U.S. war in Iraq enters its fifth year today. That, and 3,197 U.S. military deaths reported by the Pentagon as of 10 a.m. Friday, are among the few numerical certainties in a conflict characterized from the start by confusion and misuse of key data.

In the fog of modern counterinsurgency warfare, statistics have replaced conquered territory as measures of success. Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once dismissed questions about the level of combat-ready Iraqi troops by saying that numbers are only numbers and 'misleading' as to the truth, but the Bush administration has supplied a steady stream of them."

New at Pentagram: TIME Magazine

New at Pentagram: New Work: TIME Magazine: "Today, TIME launches the first issue of a major redesign developed by Pentagram’s Luke Hayman with TIME managing editor Richard Stengel and art director Arthur Hochstein."

Interesting presentation by Pentagram, the international design group, on their work on TIME magazine.

For Bookstores, a Real Page-Turner -

For Bookstores, a Real Page-Turner - "Want to see the future of the book? Pay attention to what's on the screen."

LAT: Bochco offers online clips

To make a long story short… - Los Angeles Times: "As creator of 'L.A. Law' and 'Hill Street Blues,' Steven Bochco packed lots of drama into 60 minutes. Now he's trying to entertain in closer to 60 seconds.

Bochco is joining the masses of wannabe online video moguls with 'Cafe Confidential,' an Internet series that's all about brevity and punch. The 44-clip collection, which premieres today on video site Metacafe, features people in their teens or 20s telling lighthearted, semi-confessional stories."

NYT: New morning radio programs from PRI and NPR

WNYC - Public Radio International - New York Times: "The New York public radio station WNYC is teaming up with the distributor Public Radio International to produce a national morning radio program that will compete with National Public Radio’s long-running and popular “Morning Edition.”

Also participating in the not-yet-named program are the BBC World Service, New York Times Radio and WGBH, the Boston public radio station. BBC correspondents and reporters and critics for The New York Times are to provide on-air reports for the live news program and take part in what is expected to be its more informal, conversational format.

The WNYC program, which is to be announced today and is intended to expand the public radio audience by focusing on a younger, more multicultural listener, will have competition when it comes to seeking affiliates around the country however. NPR itself announced in January that it was developing an alternative morning program aimed at 25- to 44-year-olds, a younger audience than public radio typically draws. That program, also unnamed, is to begin in the fall and promises many of the same elements as the new WNYC program, including more integration with a companion Web site."

B&C: Will 30 Rock keep rolling?

Reilly Aims To Keep 30 Rock Rolling - 3/19/2007 12:02:00 AM - Broadcasting & Cable: "Tina Fey got a prime indication late last week that NBC is expected to bring back 30 Rock for a second season: a vote of confidence from network Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.

'I literally just got off the phone with [Reilly], and he still tells me he will do everything in his power and feels strongly about it,' says Fey, the show’s star and creator. 'We really are lucky to be one of the handful of shows he feels personally responsible for—us and Friday Night Lights.'"

One of my faves.

Gonzales Has Weak Support in poll

Gonzales Has Weak Support in NEWSWEEK Poll - "A clear majority of the public believes the Bush administration’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys was politically motivated, according to a new NEWSWEEK Poll. And the survey showed only weak support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales."

And this:
59 percent support Democratic legislation to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the fall of next year.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Neal Stephenson on geekiness (and '300') - NYT

It’s All Geek to Me - op ed by novelist Neal Stephenson in the New York Times: "The growing popularity of science fiction, the rise of graphic novels, anime and video games, and the fact that geeks can make lots of money now, have given creators and fans of this kind of art a confidence, even a swagger, that — hard as it is for some of us to believe — is kind of cool now."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Star-Spangled Schlemiel - New York Times

Star-Spangled Schlemiel - op-ed by Austin Grossman in the New York Times: "It doesn’t matter if it’s just a P.R. stunt, or if it turns out a robot duplicate was killed in his place, or another Steve Rogers reappears from some alternative future dimension. In the end, Captain America was never the eternal symbol — he was the publicity stunt who grew on the page into a failed but likable human being, and was therefore believably mortal. The Captain’s co-creator, Joe Simon, is said to be sitting shiva for him.

Making the late Captain America the legend he never was in life, or trying to read into his demise some allegory for our country’s current crises, misses the point. Behind that vibranium shield, behind that kitschy Fourth of July mask, Steve Rogers was still just this art student who got drafted into a special assignment that lasted 65 years.

So, sure, Superman has plenty of fans, but I prefer my superheroes like Cap: earthbound, struggling and all too human."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Evanier on the SLM lawsuit

news from me: "It's been a while since we've heard the chilling phrase, 'Stan Lee Media.' That was a dot-com company that was briefly a shining star of the Internet. It was said to be worth zillions even though during the brief time that I was a vice-president of the firm, no one there could explain to me just what it did that made money. Not long after I departed — no connection implied — the whole thing crashed and burned and people were convicted of various crimes that fell under the general category of Stock Fraud."

The link also indicates Stan himself is suing the company bearing his name and is siding with Marvel on this.

Moderate Christians fight rapture with Sunday school

Moderate Christians fight rapture with Sunday school - US: "Speakers at the conference, organized by the Episcopal Church's Trinity Institute, minced no words in their attempt to turn a tide that has swept much of middle America.

'The rapture is a racket,' said Barbara Rossing, whose 2004 book, 'The Rapture Exposed,' criticizes rapture theology as unbiblical.

Rossing, a Lutheran minister and teacher at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, said fiction that focuses on Armageddon -- the ultimate battle between good and evil that follows rapture -- is popular in the United States because it plays into American fear."

The Comics Reporter: Stan Lee Media sues Marvel

The Comics Reporter: "Stan Lee Media, the former vehicle for longtime Marvel Editor and writer Stan Lee's turn of the millennium foray into creator-owned on-line content and branding, has emerged from the ashes of its extended bankruptcy and filed suit against Marvel for five billion dollars over rights to the characters co-created by the 'no longer with the company in any way including spirit' Lee.

The case seems to me kind of simple to understand, if you make allowances that not being a lawyer I'm using the language as a layperson so take the way I phrase things in that spirit rather than a strictly legal one. Plus, I could be completely wrong."

See if you can figure it out!

Homosexuality May Be Based on Biology, Baptist Says - New York Times

Homosexuality May Be Based on Biology, Baptist Says - New York Times: So he agrees that homosexuality may be a genetic thing... but his conclusion is horrifying.

"The president of the leading Southern Baptist seminary has suggested that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and one of the country’s evangelical leaders, posted the article on his personal Web site earlier this month.

Mr. Mohler said in the article that scientific research “points to some level of biological causation” for homosexuality."

ABC News: E-Mails Show Rove's Role in U.S. Attorney Firings

ABC News: E-Mails Show Rove's Role in U.S. Attorney Firings: "New unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged. The e-mails also show how Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse while he was still White House counsel — weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general.

The e-mails put Rove at the epicenter of the imbroglio and raise questions about Gonzales' explanations of the matter."

Senate Rejects Democrats’ Call to Pull Troops - New York Times

Senate Rejects Democrats’ Call to Pull Troops - New York Times: "The Senate on Thursday rejected a Democratic resolution to withdraw most American combat troops from Iraq in 2008, but a similar measure advanced in the House, and Democratic leaders vowed to keep challenging President Bush to change course in Iraq."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Schweier: Sherlock Holmes as the original caped crusader

The Original Caped Crusader: "Batman has claimed many literary ancestors, but perhaps the best known is master detective Sherlock Holmes."

Danforth on Faith and Politics

From Faith & Values' Light Newsletter: "The question is not whether people of faith should engage in politics, but how we go about doing so. Beyond the obvious choices of whether we are liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats, is a more basic decision, one that is more consequential to our common life than how we might align ourselves on the issues of the day. It is whether, in the practice of our religion, we are a divisive or a reconciling force in our country. Religion is now a divisive force in American politics, but that is not to say that it should be so. As we relate our religious faith to our politics, we can choose whether we are reconcilers or dividers."

Sony BRAVIA - The Advert

Sony BRAVIA - The Advert: Pretty amazing!

Here's what says:
Don’t get us wrong — we love America and American stuff. But whenever we travel to Europe, we wonder why TV commercials over there are, at their best, so much more witty, provocative, and/or beautiful than American TV commercials. Case in point: a new 70-second European spot for Sony’s Bravia TVs, which we’re sharing with you simply because it’s both fun and magnificent, a rare combo. (In other words, we’re not getting any money for this. VSL never accepts payment for editorial coverage.)

Synched to a Rossini score, Colour shows gorgeous explosions of bright blue, green, pink, yellow, and purple paint in and around an abandoned high-rise housing complex in Glasgow.

And it’s all real, not computer-generated.

A-list music video director Jonathan Glazer (Radiohead, Massive Attack) spent 10 days with a crew of 250 setting up more than 600 explosive devices (basically bottle bombs) and 1,700 detonators linked by 35 miles of copper wire to send 18,000 gallons of paint thrillingly airborne.

BBC: Key 9/11 suspect 'admits guilt'

BBC NEWS | Americas | Key 9/11 suspect 'admits guilt': "The alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks has admitted his role in them, and 30 other plots in a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon says.

'I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,' said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a partial transcript from a closed-door hearing.

He also said he had planned attacks on Big Ben and Heathrow airport in London."

Interesting that he confesses to masterminding just about every major terrorist act in the past decade or so, including the 1993 WTC bombing, Bali, Kenya, etc. Possibly even the murder of Daniel Pearl.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Politics, Pure and Cynical - Editorial in the New York Times

Politics, Pure and Cynical - New York Times: "Time and again, President Bush and his team have assured Americans that they needed new powers to prevent another attack by an implacable enemy. Time and again, Americans have discovered that these powers were not being used to make them safer, but in the service of Vice President Dick Cheney’s vision of a presidency so powerful that Congress and the courts are irrelevant, or Karl Rove’s fantasy of a permanent Republican majority.

In firing the prosecutors and replacing them without Senate approval, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took advantage of a little-noticed provision that the administration and its Republican enablers in Congress had slipped into the 2006 expansion of the Patriot Act. The ostensible purpose was to allow the swift interim replacement of a United States attorney who was, for instance, killed by terrorism.

But these firings had nothing to do with national security — or officials’ claims that the attorneys were fired for poor performance. This looks like a political purge, pure and simple, and President Bush and his White House are in the thick of it."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Apple's new products (MadTV)

TV Week: TBS adding Foxx, Newhart, Miller to lineup

TV Week: "Jamie Foxx, Bob Newhart and Larry Miller are among the comedy veterans starring in and/or developing comedy projects for TBS' increasingly original lineup."

Colbert is bequeathed Cap's shield

Comics Curmudgeon on the new Mary Worth storyline!

The Comics Curmudgeon: "So Mary Worth’s storyline seems to have finally given up, and I say good riddance. It could never really figure out what it was supposed to be about — fortune telling and condo association rules? Agent Orange? a battle for biddy supremacy? Mary’s latent guilt? Mary’s latent love for Jeff? tuna casserole? As Ella drives off, presumably to her death, we can only hope that more interesting things, or at least more coherent things, are in the cards.

And call me a hopeless optimist, but I’m guessing they are!..." Check it out!

HuffPo: Viacom Sues Google/YouTube For $1 Billion

Eat The Press | It's On! Viacom Sues Google/YouTube For $1 Billion | The Huffington Post: "t's been brewing for months, and now Reuters reports that the kettle has officially blown: Yesterday, media juggernaut Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google Inc. and its recently-acquired YouTube over unauthorized use of Viacom's copyrighted materials. According to Reuters, the suit accuses both defendants of ''massive intentional copyright infringement' of Viacom's entertainment assets' and seeks an injunction against further violations, claiming that nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips of its programming have been uploaded onto YouTube and viewed more than 1.5 billion times."

Andy Barker P.I. - Andy Barker P.I. Very Short List reviews this promising new sitcom:

Before American TV comedies became an arms race among writers to see who could drop the most obscure pop-cultural reference, they used to be about modest people frustrated at their modest ambitions. And we can’t think of a guy more modest or frustrated than Andy Richter — except maybe the title character he plays on Andy Barker, P.I., a much-needed tonic to the typically abrasive midseason sitcom.

In his new series (premiering 3/15), the former Conan O’Brien sidekick is a humdrum accountant who moonlights as a detective. While the show coaxes laugh-track-free laughs from its star’s shortcomings, it also manages to solve one offbeat crime a week (was an overweight mogul offed by something more sinister than a ham sandwich?) and poke fun at crime-drama conventions (a car chase conducted while Andy offers tax advice to one of his passengers).

Self-deprecating without feeling needy, Andy Barker, P.I. should be the sitcom that finally earns Richter a permanent place in the prime-time schedule. Case closed!

MIN: Best and Worst Mag Covers

min online: Top Story: "Three years ago, except for his Illinois state senate constituents, Barack Obama would have generated a giant Who's he? The rest is 'Horatio Alger 101.' Obama keynotes the 2004 Democratic National Convention (August 2004), gets elected to the U.S. Senate (November 2004), writes the best-selling The Audacity of Hope (October 2006), and declares for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination (February 2007). That he is ' hot' is seen by his being the best-selling 2006 newsstand covers for both Time (under managing editor Rick Stengel) and Newsweek (with rival Hillary Rodham Clinton) last year. But for his camp, it is his being best in 2008--specifically, November 4, 2008 (Election Day)--that truly counts."

Regis To Undergo Bypass; Anderson Cooper Leads Guest Hosts

Regis To Undergo Bypass; Anderson Cooper Leads Guest Hosts - 3/12/2007 2:58:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable: "Live with Regis & Kelly has already lined up a star-studded cast of guest hosts beginning with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to fill in for Regis Philbin, who announced Monday he will be leaving the show temporarily to undergo heart bypass surgery.

Cooper will host the show alongside Kelly Ripa Tuesday and Wednesday, then give way to MTV’s Damien Fahey on Thursday and Friday.

With Philbin expected to miss at least five weeks, other hosts already lined up include Howie Mandel, Neal Patrick Harris, Pat Sajak, Jeff Probst, Martin Short and Donald Trump."

White House Said to Prompt Firing of Prosecutors - New York Times

White House Said to Prompt Firing of Prosecutors - New York Times: "The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official."

As Josh Marshall and John Aravosis are pointing out, Gonzales denied under oath that there was any political involvement by the White House in these dismissals...

What’s So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing - New York Times

What’s So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing - New York Times: "Laughter, a topic that stymied philosophers for 2,000 years, is finally yielding to science. Researchers have scanned brains and tickled babies, chimpanzees and rats. They’ve traced the evolution of laughter back to what looks like the primal joke — or, to be precise, the first stand-up routine to kill with an audience of primates.

It wasn’t any funnier than the muffin joke, but that’s not surprising, at least not to the researchers. They’ve discovered something that eluded Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, Schopenhauer, Freud and the many theorists who have tried to explain laughter based on the mistaken premise that they’re explaining humor.

Occasionally we’re surprised into laughing at something funny, but most laughter has little to do with humor. It’s an instinctual survival tool for social animals, not an intellectual response to wit. It’s not about getting the joke. It’s about getting along."

AJC's Rodney Ho on American Idol finalists

Who's shaping up as the next 'Idol'? Our breakdown of the finalists | "'American Idol' has finally established its final 12 contestants but, as usual, only a handful have a genuine chance of winning. We handicap the pack, with unofficial odds of taking the crown..."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirer: Olbermann

Philadelphia Inquirer - Another guy 'mad as hell': "Keith Olbermann types with one finger.

His right pointer. Eighty words a minute. We saw.

'I taught myself at 8,' he says. 'Every time I try to learn real typing, I get a little confused. I usually charge admission for people to see me.'

MSNBC doesn't pay its liberal provocateur to type. It pays him because, almost single-handedly, he's made the once-foundering network a serious player in the cable wars.

'Keith is MSNBC's rock star,' says Phil Griffin, NBC News senior vice president and executive in charge of its corporate cousin. 'People follow him. They believe in him.'

Well, liberals do. On Countdown, a newscast built around Olbermann's acerbic wit and passionate rants, he relentlessly pounds at President Bush and Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, his nemesis at 8 weeknights.

That partisan approach works. Check the numbers."

Evanier: Arnold Drake, RIP

news from me: "Arnold Drake, one of comics' most acclaimed writers, died this morning. We all knew he was sick. He collapsed a few days after attending the New York Comic Book Convention (Feb. 23-25) with, they said at the time, 'a touch of pneumonia.' Other complications were found and he never left the hospital."

BBC: Beatles download rumour quashed

BBC NEWS - Beatles download rumour quashed: "The Beatles' record label has moved to dampen rumours that the band's music is about to become available online.

The Fab Four are the last major act to withhold their back catalogue from stores like iTunes and Napster."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

NYT OpEd: Alexander McCall Smith on a "wee identity crisis"

A Wee Identity Crisis - New York Times:

Does new genetic evidence take the wind out of the sails of the cultural nationalists in Scotland, or those in Ireland?

NYT: Dark Energy and Physics

Dark energy - The Universe - Physics - Out There - Richard Panek - New York Times

Dark energy, an invisible, undetectable force that seems to break all the rules of physics, may be about to redefine the universe.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

AJC: Sampson on Civil War... she doesn't like it

Graffiti: WORDS AND PICTURES: close to real life | - By Khari J. Sampson: "Potentially the biggest thing to emerge from 'Civil War' is the outing of Spider-Man's secret ID. But instead of exploring this uncharted territory for its flagship character, Marvel made it an opportunity to threaten to kill off members of his supporting cast for maximum melodramatic effect. (Like that hasn't been done before.)

And there's the great disappointment of 'Civil War.' In the name of being the Big Event Miniseries, 'Civil War' has slid down a slippery slope. For example, to enforce the new laws, Iron Man drafts convicted super-criminals (his enemies) to jail unlicensed superheroes (his friends) Gitmo-style.

That's crazy. It's like the United States turning the war on terror over to Iraqi insurgents.

Crazier still, the climactic moment of the series hinges on a central character realizing his actions have exacted a human toll. But it's the one character in the Marvel Universe who would never lose sight of that fact in the first place. Thus, in order to serve the 'Civil War' story, Marvel characters have had to act out of character."

AJC: The Future of Books

There will always be 'books' | "So what's going to replace [books]?

Teeny, tiny little devices that will fit on your key chain and have enough storage to hold electronic versions of every book in the Library of Congress, according to the founder of Project Gutenberg, which seeks to put every book in the public domain online so people can download free.

'I just bought a $13 RAM stick at Target that holds 1 gigabyte of information,' said Michael Hart, founder of the nonprofit Project Gutenberg. 'You could put 200 copies of the complete works of Shakespeare or a couple thousand ordinary books on there. Every book you ever read in your life.'"

Friday, March 09, 2007

This is Pop Culture: Is Lost getting lost?

This is Pop Culture: "Take a look at the various 'Lost' message boards and you'll detect a distinct trend of frustration with the series.

The mysterious series isn't providing enough answers to those mysteries. The story doesn't seem to be moving along as quickly as it should. Episodes that promise to prove dramatic revelations fail to be very dramatic or revealing.

Partially as a result, the show's ratings have suffered. A big long hiatus in the middle the season likely didn't help. And some viewers are unhappy about the show being on an hour later."

Street Prophets: The Lost Tomb Of Jesus?

Street Prophets: The Lost Tomb Of Jesus? Interesting post by Chuck Currie citing Dr. Stephen Patterson's response to the notorious Discovery Channel documentary:

The significance of the film's claims for Christian faith really depends on the way one understands Christianity, and the foundations upon which it rests. For many Christians, the literal physical resurrection of Jesus is the miracle that proves Jesus was the Son of God, and that we should therefore believe in Jesus. If this miracle were shown to be untrue--by the discovery of Jesus' body, in this case--then Christian faith would itself be shown to be untrue. But for many other Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is not to be understood in this way.

NYT: A.O. Scott rips 300

300 - Movies - Review - New York Times: "“300” is about as violent as “Apocalypto” and twice as stupid. Adapted from a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, it offers up a bombastic spectacle of honor and betrayal, rendered in images that might have been airbrushed onto a customized van sometime in the late 1970s. The basic story is a good deal older."

I like the rating note at the end: "“300” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Much butchery, some lechery."

TCR: Cap is still dead

The Comics Reporter: "It's day three and already my head hurts."

Tom Spurgeon has tons of media links on the continuing death of Captain America.

HuffPo's Rachel Sklar on The New Yorker's spiffy new website

Eat The Press | The Huffington Post: "Quietly and with little fanfare, as is its custom, the New Yorker today launched its new-and-improved website, the latest of the Conde Nast mags to get the red-carpet web treatment."

Americablog on FBI director's press conference

The most important part of FBI Director Mueller's press conference about the domestic spying scandal - AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth: "FBI Director Mueller is giving a press conference on just how and why the FBI, again, spied on Americans illegally. Buried in his speech, at the very end of his speech, is this little nugget, which I think is the most egregious and important part of his entire admission..."

NBCC Winners Announced

NBCC Winners Announced: "Books that seamlessly bridged worlds were among the winners last evening at the National Book Critics Circle awards."

Wallis challenges Dobson to debate the great moral issues

God's Politics - Jim Wallis blog: "So Jim, let’s have that debate - the big debate. What are the great moral issues of our time for evangelical Christians? You’re right, a new generation is embracing a wider and deeper agenda than you want them to. I think that is a very good thing. You think it is a bad thing, and want to get people fired for raising broader issues than those connected to sexual morality. So, today, I am inviting you to have that debate about what the great moral issues of our time really are. Again, let’s ask a leading evangelical university to invite us both and host a public debate, and perhaps ask a major evangelical publication to co-sponsor it. Let’s have that debate, Jim, and see what America’s evangelicals think the great moral issues of our time really are. How about it?"

AP: Gingrich admits affair during impeachment

'There are times that I have fallen short' | "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.

'The honest answer is yes,' Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired today, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. 'There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards.'

Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity."

NYT Movie Review: The Host

The Host - Movie Review by Manohla Dargis - New York Times: "“The Host” is a loose, almost borderline messy film, one that sometimes feels like a mash-up of contrasting, at times warring movies, methods and moods. Mr. Bong would as soon have us shriek with laughter as with fright. But it’s precisely that looseness, that willingness to depart from the narrative straight and narrow, that makes the film feel closer to a new chapter than a retread.

Likewise it is Mr. Bong’s willingness not just to contemplate but also to deliver a worst-case scenario that separates “The Host” from run-of-the-mill horror and may have helped make it a runaway hit in Korea. Closer to home the film reminds me less of the usual splatter entertainments that clutter American movie theaters and more of another recent horror film, the one in which a newly thawed alien with a giant brain delivers apocalyptic warnings to humanity about its imminent future. I’m talking of course about the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Comics Reporter: Spurgeon on the Captain American brouhaha

The Comics Reporter: "Some notes on Marvel's publicity success yesterday and today, the apparent storyline death of Steve Rogers/Captain America due in part to fallout from events in their Civil War mega-crossover. This plot point that unfolded in Captain America #25 led to a mini-avalanche of feature stories that explored the death of iconic characters like Captain America as a fictional device as well as Marvel potentially asserting a point about the divisive national mood, as mirrored fun-house style in the hero vs. hero mini-series."

He's got scads of links. Still don't like gimmicks like this.

E&P: Luckovitch wins Headliner award for edit cartoonist

National Headliner Awards Announced: They're all here, but I'm happy to see Mike Luckovitch winning first place in editorial cartooning.

Speaking of awards, his colleague Cynthia Tucker is a finalist for a Pulitzer in commentary. Go Cynthia!

Denying Rights in Nigeria - NYT Editorial

Denying Rights in Nigeria - New York Times: "A poisonous piece of legislation is quickly making its way through the Nigerian National Assembly. Billed as an anti-gay-marriage act, it is a far-reaching assault on basic rights of association, assembly and expression. Chillingly, the legislation — proposed last year by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo — has the full and enthusiastic support of the leader of Nigeria’s powerful Anglican church. Unless the international community speaks out quickly and forcefully against the bill, it is almost certain to become law."

Bishop Akinola, the Anglican supporter of this bill, is the one with whom many of the US Episcopal churches are allying. WWJD?

U.S. criticizes Kazakhstan over Borat |

U.S. criticizes Kazakhstan over Borat | "Borat, that crass chronicler of the American condition, has been singled out by the State Department as a victim of suppression in his own homeland.

The department's annual human rights report criticizes Kazakhstan for taking action against the satirical Web site of Sacha Baron Cohen, creator of the fictional Kazakh journalist in the film 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.' Baron Cohen also starred in the movie.

Specifically, the government took control of the registration of .kz Internet domains in 2005 and revoked Baron Cohen's domain because it deemed his site offensive, the report said."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Comics Reporter: Spurgeon's List of Books about Comics

The Comics Reporter: "The following is a list I'm making for no good reason of books about comics, with an emphasis on criticism and history."

There's a bunch of 'em.

Post-Gazette: The Case for Mary Worth

The Next Page: Every little thing she does, by Barry Alfonso.

It's hard to imagine many people reading the strip for excitement. The effects of following "Mary Worth" are more subtle, more cumulative, like those of a time-released pill or a blow to the head that takes days to register.

All this goes against the grain of our age, of course. But I would suggest that reading "Mary Worth" can be a wake-up call as well as an act of daily meditation. We dismiss her at our peril.

Just as the glacial ice of the polar regions is melting under the effects of human-induced global warming, so the glacial pace of "Mary Worth" may be doomed in today's overheated entertainment climate. And, as the great ice shelves are assets we cannot afford to lose, so the anachronistic tempo and quaint sense of decency in "Mary Worth" are something not lightly thrown away.

Here's at least one reader who wishes Mary to remain right where she is, a little window into a lost world of torpid motion and gentle spirits.

AP: Captain America, RIP

Comic Book Hero Captain America Dies | AccessAtlanta: "Captain America has undertaken his last mission — at least for now. The venerable superhero is killed in the issue of his namesake comic that hit stands Wednesday, the Daily News reported."

Aw, I can't stand gimmicks like this.

John Edwards' faith -

John Edwards, Democrat, presidential candidate -- "John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina and John Kerry's former running mate, has his eyes on the White House. His is not a long shot bid. Though far more under the radar than his two more popular rivals, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, his is a serious effort backed with ample money and tireless campaigning. He sat down with Beliefnet's Washington editor, David Kuo, to do something he hasn't done before--talk openly and in depth about his religious faith."

AJC Radio Blog: Internet radio stations doomed?

Radio Talk by Rodney Ho at AccessAtlanta: "The U.S. Copyright Office last week released new performance royalty rates for Internet radio based on number of listeners. The totals as calculated by Radio and Internet Newsletter indicate that most Internet radio stations, from Yahoo to Pandora to AOL, could disappear because the royalty rates are simply too high for the amount of revenue stations receive per listener. The rates are retroactive to last year and AOL alone would owe $20 million, far more than the revenue it receives from its streaming radio stations."

A Libby Verdict - New York Times

A Libby Verdict - New York Times editorial: "The trial of Lewis Libby provided some of the clearest evidence yet that this administration did not get duped by faulty intelligence on Iraq."

Makers of Sodas Try a New Pitch: They’re Healthy - New York Times

Makers of Sodas Try a New Pitch: They’re Healthy - New York Times: "Healthy soda? That may strike some as an oxymoron. But for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, it’s a marketing opportunity.

In coming months, both companies will introduce new carbonated drinks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals: Diet Coke Plus and Tava, which is PepsiCo’s new offering."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

You Can't Escape the Escapists

You Can't Escape the Escapists - 3/6/2007 - Publishers Weekly: "In his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon told the story of two early-20th-century comic creators who go from obscurity to celebrity with the creation of the comic book character the Escapist. In some ways mirroring the struggles of the creators of Superman, the creators find that success isn't so easy to keep once you have it. The novel reached out further than to just comic fans, reaching the top of the New York Times bestseller list and a host of awards for the author. Now, the comic medium Chabon sent up in his novel answers back with its own story.

Published by Dark Horse Comics, The Escapists follows in the footsteps of the world Chabon created, bringing in Eisner Award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughn and a host of artists to tell a new story of comic creators and their creation in a modern-day setting. Serialized in 2006 with a collected edition scheduled for this year, The Escapists provides both a modern companion piece to the original novel and a stand-alone tale as well."

For Jurors, Libby Might Be ‘Fall Guy,’ but He Was Guilty - New York Times

For Jurors, Libby Might Be ‘Fall Guy,’ but He Was Guilty - New York Times: "The jurors believed that I. Lewis Libby Jr. was a decent man, worthy of their sympathy. They believed what his chief lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., told them at the outset: that Mr. Libby was at least partly “a fall guy” for others in the Bush administration.

But sadly for “Scooter” Libby, as he has been known since childhood, the jurors concluded that the facts pointed to his guilt. It was just too much of a leap for them to think Mr. Libby’s contradictory accounts were from a bad memory."

YouTube - Moe Howard on the Mike Douglas Show - The Maharaja Sketch

YouTube - Moe Howard on the Mike Douglas Show - The Maharaja Sketch

Mark Evanier explains:
Back when Mike Douglas was doing his talk show out of Philadelphia, the producers occasionally brought in famed Stooge Moe Howard to guest. Invariably, pies were thrown, which was half the point of bringing Moe in at all. Someone has posted a whole mess of these segments to YouTube and I'm only going to link to this one. You can find the rest on your own if you like.

In this one, Moe, Mike and guest star Soupy Sales do a version of the Stooges' old "Maharjah" sketch that runs a little less than ten minutes and feels like thirty. It's slow going but it's worth it just to see Moe and Soupy. The older woman at the end who gets a pie in the face is Moe's wife, Helen.

NYT: There's too much digital stuff

Tech Researchers Calculate Digital Info - New York Times: "A new study that estimates how much digital information is zipping around (hint: a lot) finds that for the first time, there's not enough storage space to hold it all. Good thing we delete some stuff."

Monday, March 05, 2007

SF Chronicle columnists comes out as comic book geek

My name is Peter, and I'm a comics geek by Peter Hartlaub... His confession sounds very painfully familiar to me.

TV in Japan blog

TV in Japan: Check out the sample clips. Amazing! Hat tip to Very Short List. GEICO caveman to sitcom? FishbowlLA: "The Geico Caveman goes sit-com for ABC. A comedy pilot about three cavemen who battle prejudice and daily life in Atlanta has been ordered from the writer of the commercials, Joe Lawson.

John Lehr is one of the actors in the ads, as are Jeffrey Daniel Philips and Ben Weber but no word if they'll be in the series."

Independent (UK): Remnick on the New Yorker

Independent Online Edition > Media: "As the editor of 'The New Yorker', David Remnick presides over one of journalism's most revered institutions. He tells JC Gabel about the career path that led to the job - and reveals what's involved in maintaining the magazine's exacting standards."

AJC Op-Ed: Gospel outweighs staying Anglican

EPISCOPAL CONTROVERSY: Gospel outweighs staying Anglican - an op-ed by an Atlanta-area Episcopal rector, Patricia Templeton at "At every baptismal service, Episcopalians promise to seek and serve Christ in all people, and respect the dignity of all human beings. The primates' ultimatum would have us set aside our baptismal promises, the very core of our ethical lives as Christians.

Several years ago I was privileged to hear then-Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning speak. More than a decade later, I still remember his words. 'In this Church of ours there will be no outcasts,' he said.

There will be no outcasts.

That is the prophetic voice of the Gospel. And if remaining true to the Gospel means we are cast out of the Anglican Communion, so be it."

Time Change a ‘Mini-Y2K’ in Tech Terms - New York Times

Time Change a ‘Mini-Y2K’ in Tech Terms - New York Times: "Two years ago, when Congress passed a law to extend daylight saving time by a month, the move seemed a harmless step that would let the nation burn a little less fossil fuel and enjoy a bit more sunshine.

... But there is no rejoicing among corporate technology managers.

The change takes effect Sunday, as daylight saving time begins three weeks earlier (and ends a week later, on the first Sunday in November). And many companies are scrambling to reset BlackBerry e-mail devices, desktop PCs and big data-center computers used to automate payrolls, purchasing and manufacturing.

This puts the United States out of sync with the rest of the world for longer than usual this spring, almost certainly disrupting not only computers but also the business and travel schedules of companies, workers and travelers."

Are you ready? I know my MacBook downloaded a DST patch a week or so ago...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Evolution and Religion - Darwin’s God - Robin Marantz Henig - New York Times

Evolution and Religion - Darwin’s God - Robin Marantz Henig - New York Times Magazine:

"In the world of evolutionary biology, the question is not whether God exists but why we believe in him. Is belief a helpful adaptation or an evolutionary accident?"

NYT: I want my free wi-fi!

What Starbucks Can Learn From the Movie Palace - New York Times' Randall Stross: "When Starbucks and McDonald’s decided to exact a toll from their customers as they set up their in-store Wi-Fi networks, they created a confusion of conflicting signals: how welcome can one feel when staring at a meter that is running?

The restaurants’ predecessors, the movie theater owners of almost a century ago, understood that not every amenity, every service, every offering must have a separate price tag attached. The owners and the architects sought to give theatergoers an environment that was pleasing in all aspects. Marcus Loew, the head of a nationwide chain, once said, “We sell tickets to theaters, not movies.”

Panera Bread, which has more than 900 Wi-Fi-equipped sandwich and bakery stores, has set itself apart from its contemporaries by upholding the old-fashioned spirit of those bygone theater owners who never stinted in their efforts to make public space inviting."

Asheville paper: Jesus wouldn't have rejected gays

My Asheville pal James Cassara forwarded this link to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times by Calvin King, a guest commentary by a Mennonite minister that is well worth reading: "Homosexuality has existed for thousands of years. Should persons claiming to be compassionate and moral revisit their judgment on gays and lesbians? Should churches following a compassionate Jesus lead the way in providing civil rights for homosexuals? Homosexuals desire the same civil rights in our constitutional amendments that are promised to everyone."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Archibald: Wash Times insider says things have gone awry with new 'unhinged' editor

GEORGE ARCHIBALD: UNHINGED: "As the first reporter hired by The Washington Times outside the founding group, on the newspaper’s national desk for 21 years, I’m saddened by recent attacks by managing editor Francis B. Coombs Jr. against foreign desk editor David Jones and veteran foreign reporter Tom Carter.

Something has gone badly awry at The Washington Times since editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden Jr. announced his retirement and went on C-SPAN to announce managing editor Fran Coombs as his successor.

Coombs has gone power-crazy."

This brings back memories for me at my college newspaper, where I was features editor. One late night just before deadline the entertainment editor and the paper's editor got in a major disagreement over some story or other. The entertainment editor stormed out of the glass encased editor's cubicle, went to his desk, stewed a while, then picked up his electric typewriter (yeah, this was back in the 70s), and hoisted it angrily through the large glass window at the editor! The editor saw it coming and was able to dodge the typewriter and most of the glass. All of us in the newsroom were stunned and barely could move. The entertainment editor fell to the floor and lay there with his eyes closed as if he were wishing it would all go away. One of the more bizarre events of my journalistic life. The entertainment editor, of course, lost his position on the school paper, but as I recall went on to edit one of those weekly giveaway papers in the area for years.

General Is Fired Over Conditions at Walter Reed - New York Times

General Is Fired Over Conditions at Walter Reed - New York Times: "The two-star general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center was relieved of command on Thursday, following disclosures that wounded soldiers being treated as outpatients there were living in dilapidated quarters and enduring long waits for treatment."

AJC Review: Discovery documentary taps experts to build one-sided case

TV REVIEW: Discovery documentary taps experts to build one-sided case - Jill Vejnoska at "The documentary's controversial central contention —- that the 2,000-year-old tomb may have contained the remains of Jesus and his family, including possibly his wife, Mary Magdalene, and their young son —- caused a furor this week. Its producer, combative 'Titanic' director James Cameron, met the press; parallels were drawn to 'The Da Vinci Code'; and Discovery enlisted Ted Koppel to moderate a post-show panel discussion following the broadcast.

Is it worth all the fuss? Yes. And no."

AJC: Fantastic archaeology

Taken with faith - John Blake at "As the public ponders claims made by 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus,' several archaeologists pose another question: Haven't we been here before?

Many archaeologists and researchers who specialize in the Middle East denounced the James Cameron documentary for lacking scientific credibility.

And —- while no one can say for sure what is or isn't in the box —- scholars said evidence of claims similar to Cameron's can be found in the past, but not in a musty tomb in Jerusalem: They classify the discovery as the latest entry in a field called 'fantastic archaeology,' a practice that dates to at least the Crusades."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

WSJ's Mossberg: Beyond YouTube--Exploring the world of online video

Personal Technology - "while YouTube is sometimes seen as synonymous with the Internet video revolution, there is a lot more to Web video. In fact, some of the most interesting video on the Web isn't even the type of stuff that's most popular on YouTube -- short, one-off clips."

Cronkite: Iraq War A 'Disaster' - Cronkite In CBS 5 Interview: Iraq War A 'Disaster': "It was in 1968, when CBS Anchorman Walter Cronkite did a tour of Vietnam, and came back highly critical of that war.

His pronouncement that the Vietnam War was unwinnable led to such a shift in public opinion against the war that President Lyndon Johnson said, 'If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost America.'

The 90-year-old Cronkite was in San Jose on Friday addressing the Commonwealth Club. In an exclusive interview with CBS 5, he weighed in on the situation in Iraq.

'We should have gotten out a long time ago. This is a mistake, this entire war there, it's a disaster. And the earlier we get out the better,' Cronkite said. 'It's a terrible disaster. Look at the loss of lives of our young Americans there and those who have been maimed for life, for what purpose? No purpose we can define.'

What's more, he says, America will pay a future price for going into Iraq."

AJC: Satellite radio--is anybody listening?

Daily Briefing | "Satellite suffers in radio ratings: The first Arbitron survey for satellite radio shows its customers spend much more time listening to the radio than nonsubscribers —- but also indicates those customers spend more time tuned into terrestrial radio than their pay services. In total, about 3.4 percent of radio listening time was spent on satellite stations, with Arbitron reporting Wednesday in its fall survey that listeners cited 297 different channels from Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. The average satellite radio station attracted listeners for 0.009 percent of the 15-minute measuring blocks, a figure that would not be high enough to make Arbitron's minimum reporting standards for terrestrial radio, the company said. 'Satellite radio is growing,' said Chance Patterson, spokesman for XM. 'However, we still represent a small portion of the overall radio and audio entertainment marketplace.'"

Jack Miles on the Episcopal/Anglican Schism - NYT OpEd

A Divorce the Church Should Smile Upon - Jack Miles in the New York Times: "Numerically, the 2.3 million Episcopalians do not loom large among 77 million Anglicans. Symbolically, however, given the global importance of the United States, the departure of the Americans will leave the archbishop exposed as a quasi-colonial, quasi-papal figurehead heading a church made up, anachronistically, of Britain and her mostly African and Asian former colonies. This will be an awkward state of affairs, and portends further fissures along the same logic that underlies the impending departure of the Americans.

There is, finally, a quintessentially 21st-century implication to this quite likely split. A solid majority of American Episcopalians supports their church’s stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. A minority disagrees, and some of these members have even sought to pull out their congregations from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with one of the Anglican churches in Africa that have been most vehemently opposed to the Episcopalians’ decisions on homosexuality.

The flip side of such threats is that, along the same lines, any British or Canadian or Australian congregations that wished to disaffiliate from their local forms of Anglicanism might well affiliate with the Episcopal Church. In fact, a few have already signaled their readiness, though in the hope of preserving Anglican unity the Episcopal Church has not encouraged them."