Friday, August 31, 2007

Got Arachnophobia? Here’s Your Worst Nightmare - New York Times

Got Arachnophobia? Here’s Your Worst Nightmare - New York Times: "Most spiders are solitary creatures. So the discovery of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders that is spreading across several acres of a North Texas park is causing a stir among scientists, and park visitors. Sheets of web have encased several mature oak trees and are thick enough in places to block out the sun along a nature trail at Lake Tawakoni State Park, near this town about 50 miles east of Dallas."

Is next week the week for Beatles in iTunes?

Mobile Media News: "This one has been swirling around for ages. But the latest speculation is that Apple will finally make the long-awaited announcement next week--that music from Liverpool's legendary quartet will be available from the iTunes Store."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Scientist suggests super-sticky Spidey suit - CRN

Scientist suggests super-sticky Spidey suit - CRN: "A professor from the Polytechnic of Turin has developed a method for building a suit that could allow humans to cling to vertical surfaces like the comic book hero Spiderman. The suit would use a similar principle used by geckos and spiders, which possess millions of tiny hairs on their limbs allowing them to stick to surfaces."

Volkswagen and Apple heads discuss possible "iCar" project

Volkswagen and Apple heads discuss possible "iCar" project: "U.S. computer company Apple Inc. and German automaker Volkswagen AG are discussing the possibility of building an 'iCar' which would feature products by the producer of the ubiquitous iPod personal music player. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and Volkswagen's chief Martin Winterkorn met several days ago in California, and plan to meet for further discussions, said Hans-Gerd Bode, a spokesman for VW. There are 'scores of ideas,' but few concrete plans at this point, Bode said."

Two of my favorite companies! - Networks scurry as strike looms - Networks scurry as strike looms: "The broadcast nets are looking abroad for strike insurance. NBC and ABC have had conversations with international producers and broadcasters about using finished episodes of their existing series as replacement programming should a WGA strike occur, execs at both nets confirmed. There's also increasing talk of broadcasters acquiring cable hits as strike contingencies, with sibling cable nets serving as logical suppliers (think USA Network for NBC). In recent weeks, Warner Bros. TV -- which produces 'The Closer' -- has approached broadcast nets about acquiring episodes of the hit procedural. But the international option is the most intriguing as nets' strike contingency plans kick into overdrive."

The Hubbub Over Hulu

The Hubbub Over Hulu: "In March, News Corp. (NWS) and NBC Universal (GE) made an announcement akin to an end-of-season cliffhanger. The media titans were teaming up to bring the best of prime-time TV and other high-quality programming to a new Web site they would develop together. The site didn't have a name. The shows it would feature were not yet known. The launch date was to be determined. But, if all went according to plan, executives promised the site would change the online video landscape. Just stay tuned, they said.

Five months later, the companies are finally revealing key details about the joint venture: The site's name is Hulu. And on Aug. 29, the Hulu team began accepting requests for inclusion in an invitation-only test, scheduled to begin in October with a few hundred people. 'Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world's premier content when, where, and how you want it,' Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said in a statement."

Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals -

Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals - "Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration. The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Charles Williams' books coming to movie screens?

The C. S. Lewis Society Newsletter reports:

A number of the fantasy novels by novelist, playwright, poet, biographer, and theologian Charles Williams, starting with his ALL HALLOW'S EVE, will be made into major films by renowned producer Ralph Winter. Mr. Winter is also producing the film version of C.S. Lewis's best-selling book, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, which is scheduled for release in late 2008. Among his many other film credits are the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Star Trek III-VI films as well as "Planet of the Apes," "Mighty Joe Young," and "Flight of the Intruder," as well as the ABC TV series, "Lost."

Charles Williams was a member of The Inklings literary circle at Oxford, which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis's acclaimed dystopian novel of a scientistic totalitarianism, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, was heavily influenced by the work of Williams.

Keating: Harry Potter and the Christian allegory --

Keating: Harry Potter and the Christian allegory -- "A hundred years from now, people will still be enjoying and discussing Lewis, Tolkien and, yes, Rowling. Lewis and Tolkien, though, integrated Christian allegory, themes and symbolism into their works. What about Rowling? Well, some Christians - mainly fundamentalists - have attacked 'Harry Potter' for featuring witchcraft. Meanwhile, in Time magazine recently, Lev Grossman argued: 'If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God. ... Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.' Both Grossman and the fundamentalists are dead wrong."

A Saint’s Dark Night - New York Times

A Saint’s Dark Night - New York Times: "Few of us, even the most devout believers, are willing to leave everything behind to serve the poor. Consequently, Mother Teresa’s work can seem far removed from our daily lives. Yet in its relentless and even obsessive questioning, her life intersects with that of the modern atheist and agnostic. “If I ever become a saint,” she wrote, “I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’

” Mother Teresa’s ministry with the poor won her the Nobel Prize and the admiration of a believing world. Her ministry to a doubting modern world may have just begun."

A Scandal-Scarred G.O.P. Asks, ‘What Next?’ - New York Times

A Scandal-Scarred G.O.P. Asks, ‘What Next?’ - New York Times: "Just when Republicans thought things could not get any worse, Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex in June in a Minneapolis airport restroom. On Tuesday, Mr. Craig, 62, held a news conference to defend himself, calling the guilty plea “a mistake” and declaring, “I am not gay” — even as the Senate Republican leadership asked for an Ethics Committee review. It was a bizarre spectacle, and only the latest in a string of accusations of sexual foibles and financial misdeeds that have landed Republicans in the political equivalent of purgatory, the realm of late-night comic television."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stray Questions for: Daniel Clowes

Stray Questions for: Daniel Clowes - Paper Cuts - Books - New York Times Blog: "What are you working on?

A quick glance through my sketchbook reveals four in-progress comic-strip projects and five movie projects, two of which admittedly consist of less than a page of scrawled, inscrutable notes. Four or five of these will wither away over the next six months, while the others will grow strong, consuming the remains of their lesser brethren.

Upcoming published work: a cover for the Penguin Classics “Frankenstein”; a story for the Zadie Smith-edited “The Book of Other People”; a cover for the upcoming 2nd volume of Yale’s “Anthology of Graphic Fiction”; a 10th-anniversary edition of “Ghost World (Ghost World Special Ed.)”; and, beginning on Sept. 16, a 20-episode comic strip for the New York Times Magazine called, as of this morning, “Mister Wonderful.”"


Dan Dare is back and Virgin's got him

Blog@Newsarama - Ennis to write Dan Dare series for Virgin Comics: "Virgin Comics is bringing Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future out of retirement to star in a new line of comics and a big-screen adaptation. Variety reports that the classic British science fiction character is a favorite of Virgin’s Richard Branson, who spearheaded the effort to acquire publishing, film, television and video game rights to the Frank Hampson creation. The new comic, which debuts in November, will be written by Garth Ennis."

TCR: Who knew Bourdain was such a geek?

The Comics Reporter: "Two surprises concerning the episode of Anthony Bourdain's food-driven television travel show No Reservations featuring Cleveland and a promised appearance by Harvey Pekar. The first was that instead of what you might usually think of a guest appearance on such a show, Bourdain spent about a half-hour of TV time roaming around Cleveland with the writer, during which he was deferential to the point of hero worship. The second was that both Pekar and Bourdain did short comics on the experience that are on Bourdain's site. Pekar's was folded into the show segment. The artist on both was Gary Dumm. "

Blog@Newsarama : Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby

Blog@Newsarama - Today, Jack Kirby would have been 90: "Jack Kirby, the man who created a significant portion of our superhero mythology, would have been 90 years old today."

The Newsarama Blog has some great Kirby-related links, including Mark Evanier's remembrance and sample art.

AWTC: The Creepiness that is Richie Rich

Again With the Comics: "As hard as it may be to believe, Richie Rich was huge when I was growing up. If you think Batman and Spider-Man are bad with the spin-offs, consider that at the height of Richie’s popularity Harvey Comics were publishing well over twenty monthly titles devoted to the Poor Little Rich Boy, not to mention digests and anthology titles. My main exposure to Richie Rich was through a childhood friend whose mother wouldn’t let him read superhero comics but would allow the wholesome antics of the Harvey gang and Spire Christian Comics."

Brian has a bunch of fetishistic RR covers, and scroll down for a really disturbing RR story!

Monday, August 27, 2007

God's Warriors - Special Reports from

God's Warriors - Special Reports from I had to miss this series but several people have said it's must-see. Hopefully CNN will repeat it.

Ray Bradbury still at it - New York Times

Ray Bradbury - Now and Forever - Books - New York Times: "Though slowed by age, Ray Bradbury still speaks with exuberance. Hobbled by a stroke in 1999, he now dictates his work over the phone to his daughter in Arizona, who records and transcribes it before faxing edits back. Mr. Bradbury works in an overstuffed leather chair in a den lined by shelves of VHS tapes of classic movies and history texts. The room is crowded with models of dinosaurs, rocket ships and Jules Verne’s Nautilus submarine, his own dusty Emmy, a friend’s tarnished Oscar and a 52-inch flat-screen television not unlike the ones he presaged in “Fahrenheit 451.”"

Today's YouTube Hit: Miss Teen USA Brouhaha

Here's's take:

We don’t expect a lot from beauty pageants: pretty girls in fancy dresses and bathing suits, unpredictable offerings in the talent category (baton throwing!), cringe-inducing answers to softball questions that tend to involve the phrase “world peace.” But at last Friday’s Miss Teen USA competition, one contestant managed to fumble a question in such a spectacularly hilarious (and tragic) manner, we couldn’t resist passing it along.

Near the end of the competition, one of the judges asked Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina, what she thought of a recent poll that showed one fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map. Upton’s answer, a spew of half-English gibberish, is a must-see case study in stupidity, confusion, and panic. (And yet Upton finished the event as the third runner-up.)

We are suddenly filled with regret that this is apparently the last time the Miss Teen USA pageant will be televised.

Jack Kirby, a Comic Book Genius, Is Finally Remembered - New York Times

Jack Kirby, a Comic Book Genius, Is Finally Remembered - New York Times: "The fear of being forgotten after death is endemic in the creative arts. In the case of the iconic comic book artist Jack Kirby, it happened while he was still alive. By the 1960s, Mr. Kirby had already revolutionized the comic book business more than once. Working as principal artist and in-house genius for Marvel, he created a voice and an aesthetic unmatched by any other company.

Marvel took his talents for granted and denied him the credit and compensation he clearly deserved. Worse, he was overshadowed by his loquacious and photogenic collaborator, Stan Lee, who became the public face of an enterprise that depended heavily on Mr. Kirby’s skills."

Bob Edgar reflects on tenure as NCC head�

PC(USA) - Presbyterian News Service - Bob Edgar reflects on tenure as NCC head�: "The general secretary of the National Council of Churches, the Rev. Bob Edgar, leaves his post at the end of August knowing that even his critics acknowledge he helped resuscitate a body that was seen as good as dead when he was appointed in 1999.

Edgar is returning to Washington, DC, to head up Common Cause, a grassroots advocacy group for good governance, with 36 state organizations and nearly 300,000 members. He knows the city well from his time as a member of the U.S. Congress from 1975-1987.

Among his accomplishments during eight years at the NCC: more focus on fewer initiatives; some allegiances with Christian evangelical groups on issues such as the environment and poverty; and a sturdier financial footing for a body that some, even Edgar, feared might shut down, given years of financial problems.

In a recent interview with Ecumenical News International, Edgar, 64, acknowledged that in his first year in office, “I wasn’t sure it was salvageable.”"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's Politics: Taking the Bible Seriously

God's Politics: Elizabeth Palmberg on biblical literalism: "At the close of the 16th and final Left Behind book, which was perched on the best-seller list a couple months ago, Tim LaHaye yet again emphasizes his claim to 'tak[e] the Bible literally wherever possible.' I don't get how anyone who'd ever paid attention to the Psalms could imply that the Bible speaks less powerfully when it chooses to speak in symbolic images.

But what I really object to, having plowed through the first five and the last one of the Left Behind books, are the number of Bible passages that the series doesn't take seriously - passages that give clear instructions about how people should act."

The journalism that bloggers actually do - Los Angeles Times

The journalism that bloggers actually do - Los Angeles Times: "A New York University professor critiques Michael Skube's recent Times Op-Ed questioning the journalistic value of blogs. By Jay Rosen:

Blowback! That's what you're in for when a great American newspaper runs a Sunday opinion piece as irretrievably lame as 'Blogs: All the noise that fits' by Michael Skube (Aug. 19). Skube is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning author who teaches journalism at Elon University in North Carolina."

The Occasionally Worrisome Fine Print of Game Show Contracts

James Hibberd - The Occasionally Worrisome Fine Print of Game Show Contracts - TVWeek - Blogs: "Imagine this: You’re a contestant on a new network game show, you beat the odds to win hundreds of thousands, then you don’t get your money. Why? Because your episode never aired. On broadcast network game shows, contestants are routinely told they will receive their winnings only if home viewers see them win. Otherwise, hey, what happened on a soundstage in Culver City was all in good fun. As a result, contestants on freshly hatched game shows rushed into production “win” … then nervously pace for weeks or months hoping their episode makes it to air."

COTBF: Spider-Man word count, then and now

Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun! Decompression in Action: Bully counts the words on several pages of Lee/Ditko Spideys and today's Ultimate Spideys. This is one of my main gripes about modern comics--the art's too pretty, and the words are too few!

ESPN's Easterbrook on Spider-Man

ESPN Easterbrook: "TMQ didn't think 'Spider-Man 3' was as bad as reviewers contended. Sure the plot was disjointed -- that's the life of a superhero, you just never know when the next runaway neutron beam will turn a store clerk into an evil super-being. But the flow of information in the movie seemed messed up. At the end, Sandman knows Spider-Man is Peter Parker and Uncle Ben was Peter's guardian. How does Sandman discover this? He doesn't have any special mental powers; he's just an escaped con who accidentally was transformed into a 40-foot-tall sand monster. Meanwhile, the professor at the university where Peter takes his advanced physics class -- and where, inexplicably, the fashion model Blonde Bombshell is taking the same advanced physics class -- seems awfully blas�about discovering an extraterrestrial life form that alters human DNA. Somehow, I think the professor would have done a little more than call Peter to tell him the stuff he wanted tested was a sinister extraterrestrial life form, then put the extraterrestrial life form into a jar and gone home for the night. Here are my two complaints about the transfer of Spider-Man from comic to cinema. First, Mary Jane...."

Report Cites Grave Concerns on Iraq’s Government - New York Times

Report Cites Grave Concerns on Iraq’s Government - New York Times: "The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki will become “more precarious” over the next six months to a year, and while its security forces have improved they are not strong enough to operate without outside help, American intelligence officials said today in a grim new assessment of the situation in Iraq. “Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively,” a report concluded as it expressed deep doubts that Mr. Maliki’s government can overcome sectarian differences. Implicitly, at least, the report questioned whether Mr. Maliki is willing or able to help the new Iraq become a fully functioning country. Moreover, the report said that changing the mission of American and allied troops from going after insurgents to providing combat support for Iraqi forces, “would erode security gains achieved thus far.” A number of critics of President Bush’s policy have called for such an approach. "

The greatest films ever heard - Times Online

These are the greatest films I ever heard - Times Online: "Today, the soundtrack is everything – think of the lush score that accompanies ET’s final flight to freedom, Vangelis’s music for Chariots of Fire (more memorable for the theme than the running) and the soundtracks to Star Wars and Rocky. We know the music as much as we do the action; and that music manipulates us, makes us feel so much more towards the film than just the spoken words alone. Would a declaration of love, or a significant farewell, tug as much at us if it was not accompanied by music?"

AppleInsider | Apple to usher in era of Mac OS X-based iPods

AppleInsider | Apple to usher in era of Mac OS X-based iPods: "Apple Inc. will use a media event next month to unveil a new breed of iPod digital music players that have been injected with the company's most vital asset -- the Mac OS.

The move will culminate a multi-year effort on the part of the Cupertino-based electronics giant to form a new platform of digital devices around the common core of its legendary operating system software and expertise in industrial design.

Three of Apple's four business segments -- the Mac, iPhone and Apple TV -- already rely on derivatives of the Mac OS. In surgically replacing the iPod's Pixo-influenced OS with a modern-day variant of its homebred software, the company will have effectively scaled the Mac OS across its entire product matrix. "

Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith - TIME

Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith - TIME

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

YouTube Unveils Video Ad Strategy - TVWeek - News

YouTube Unveils Video Ad Strategy - TVWeek - News: "Google on Tuesday announced it will be implementing a new kind of video ad on YouTube, the New York Times reported.

Fifteen seconds after a user begins watching a video on the site, an ad will form an overlay on the bottom fifth of the screen. The user can either choose to wait 10 seconds for the ad to disappear or close it immediately.

If a user clicks on the ad, the original video will stop and the advertisement will play. When the ad is over or a user closes it, the video will begin playing at the point where it was stopped.

“What we have come up with is a user-controlled ad format that is engaging,” said Eileen Naughton, Google’s director for media platforms, in the New York Times."

I think that "engaging" is a typo... sounds "enraging" to me!

Most US adults in the dark about world politics - Yahoo! News

Most US adults in the dark about world politics - Yahoo! News: "Two-thirds of US adults admit to being in the dark about political issues outside the United States, and only a third are well-versed in US politics, the results of a poll published Tuesday showed."

Private eyes sneak into church group |

Private eyes sneak into church group | "When a new couple arrived at Southside Christian Fellowship Church in August 2005, members welcomed them with open arms.

Soon, the new couple talked their way into private group support sessions in the Stockbridge home of church member Ken King.

During the private talks, church members confessed abortions, sexual orientation issues, drug addictions and other dark secrets.

No one knew the couple wasn't actually interested in joining the church. Instead, they were private investigators hoping two church members, Bill and Leandra Pitts, would spill something they could use to discredit the pair in an ongoing lawsuit over a traffic accident. The private eyes even tape-recorded the sessions.

'This is just too far,' said Atlanta lawyer Wayne Grant, who's representing the couple in a lawsuit over the incident. 'People have a right to expect they could be comfortable being candid in that setting. This is an invasion of privacy to the worst degree.'"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

TV Week's Timeless TV: The Paramount Story

TV Week says: "Some clever soul with plenty of time to kill has assembled the history of Paramount Television on YouTube—well, in program end tags, that is. Take a trip from its origins as Desilu Productions through its many years as Paramount Television from 1967 onward, right up to 2006’s CBS Paramount logo. (Warning: musical sniglet can grow repetitive!)"

Stan Lee on Geeks

Metromix. Geeks prophet says they inherited Earth: "As you might imagine, Stan Lee has a special place in his heart for comic-book geeks. They are the reason that, at age 84, he's still raking in cash with his creations -- including Iron Man, the next of Lee's characters to make it to the big screen, with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Tony Stark. 'These so-called geeks today are the doctors and the lawyers and the politicians of our time,' Lee told Armour & Co. when we called him at his Ventura, Calif., office last week. 'I remember Ronald Reagan was interviewed once and he said that he begins every morning reading 'Spider-Man' in the newspaper. If you meet a professional man today who isn't a comic-book geek or hasn't been, you have to be a little concerned about him.'"

In Memorium: Mike Wieringo, 1963-2007

In Memorium: Mike Wieringo, 1963-2007 - News: Great tribute to a great artist, with reminiscences and a cover gallery. He'll be missed.

Countdown Testing NBC Waters

Countdown Testing NBC Waters - 8/20/2007 4:46:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable: "Countdown, the primetime show on MSNBC hosted by Keith Olbermann, will make the jump to the original Peacock Network this Sunday night. A special edition of the show will air at 7 p.m., leading up to NBC’s Sunday Night Football preseason National Football League matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers."

Liberals read more books than conservatives - AP/IPSOS

Book Chief: Conservatives Want Slogans - The Huffington Post: "Liberals read more books than conservatives. The head of the book publishing industry's trade group says she knows why _ and there's little flattering about conservative readers in her explanation."

Harper Lee Speaks at Ala. Ceremony - The Huffington Post

Harper Lee Speaks at Ala. Ceremony - The Huffington Post: "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee is a woman of few words and generally avoids media interviews and public appearances.

But the author of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' broke her silence briefly Monday at a ceremony inducting four new members, including former home-run king Hank Aaron, into the Alabama Academy of Honor. Lee, who lives in Monroeville, is a member of the academy, which honors living Alabamians, and was in the audience for Monday's ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, Academy of Honor chairman Tom Carruthers joked with Lee, saying he knew she had something she wanted to say to the crowd.

'Well it's better to be silent than to be a fool,' Lee said.

The audience burst into laughter and gave Lee a standing ovation."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Scientists hail ‘frozen smoke’ as material that will change world - Times Online

Scientists hail ‘frozen smoke’ as material that will change world - Times Online: "A MIRACLE material for the 21st century could protect your home against bomb blasts, mop up oil spillages and even help man to fly to Mars. Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C. Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars."

Artificial Life Likely in 3 to 10 Years - The Huffington Post

Artificial Life Likely in 3 to 10 Years - The Huffington Post: "Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer. Experts expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of 'wet artificial life.' 'It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it,' said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. 'We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways _ in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict.'"

Secrest...In for Emmys

Ryan Seacrest to Host Emmys for Fox - TVWeek: "“American Idol” emcee Ryan Seacrest will host the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards on Fox next month. The announcement comes a week after Mr. Seacrest was tapped to host the entertainment portion of Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast next year."

Charlie Rose interviews Charles Schulz and others

Charlie Rose interviews Charles Schulz and others - Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog: "Charlie Rose’s new website, with a little help from the people at Google Video offers up access to over 4,000 hours of interviews including this one with Charles Schulz. Can we please stop writing the word BETA on website logos now, though? Some quick searching also found interviews with Garry Trudeau, Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, Scott Adams, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Art Spiegelman, and a panel discussion about the controversial Mohammed cartoons. The site is a goldmine."

RNS: Three big openings in protestant world

Beliefnet: News - Current News On Beliefnet: "the departures of Edgar from the NCC, Hough from Union Seminary and the Rev. Jim Forbes from Riverside are leaving three venerable -- some might say vulnerable -- icons of liberal Protestantism with 'Help Wanted' signs on their doors."

The War as We Saw It - New York Times

The War as We Saw It - New York Times: "VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)"

Report: 'Harry Potter' author writing mystery novel -

Report: 'Harry Potter' author writing mystery novel - "J.K. Rowling has been spotted at cafes in Scotland working on a detective novel, a British newspaper reported Saturday. The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Ian Rankin, a fellow author and neighbor of Rowling's, as saying the creator of the 'Harry Potter' books is turning to crime fiction."

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Padilla Conviction - New York Times

The Padilla Conviction - New York Times: "It is hard to disagree with the jury’s guilty verdict against Jose Padilla, the accused, but never formally charged, dirty bomber. But it would be a mistake to see it as a vindication for the Bush administration’s serial abuse of the American legal system in the name of fighting terrorism."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ayers' 60 years' of cartooning nets him an international prize

Ayers' 60 years' of cartooning nets him an international prize: "Dick Ayers' first memories of comic strips came from his grandfather. After working on the railroad for three straight days, Ayers' grandfather would return home with bundles of newspapers, including The Reporter Dispatch, the Daily News and The Mirror. Ayers' family would read him his favorite comics including 'Terry and the Pirates,' 'Popeye' and 'Dick Tracy.' 'I loved those stories,' Ayers says. 'I wanted to tell those stories.' Ayers eventually crafted stories of his own in his 60-year career as a cartoonist."

History of Religion mapped

History of Religion

Here's what says about this site:

A paper map may be useful in helping you get where you’re going, but it can rarely tell you as much about where you’ve been. The elegant animated charts at Maps of War are diagrams that provide powerful statements about the course of history, and will make you reflect on the directions in which humanity is headed.

A 90-second presentation called History of Religion pans back and forth across the continents as a map is saturated with colors representing the rises — and conflicts — of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. An animation titled Leadership and War recaps 250 years of American military conflicts, tabulating the casualties each political party and each president has been responsible for. With minimal introductions and no narration, Maps of War offers a stark reminder that a borderless, conflict-free world is still many miles and millennia in the distance.

A 300-page iPhone bill? Too much information, users say |

A 300-page iPhone bill? Too much information, users say | "Many AT&T wireless subscribers who slapped down $500 or more for the must-have Apple gadget are just now discovering how big that bill can be. Not the dollar amount, but the sheer physical size. Internet message boards and blogs are buzzing with talk of paper iPhone bills dozens and even hundreds of pages long. So why is a phone bill so big it needs to be delivered in a box?"

AFP: King vandalizes books

The Raw Story | Horror author King mistaken for vandal in Australian outback: "Best-selling author Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal as he horrified an Australian outback bookstore, local media reported Thursday.

A customer at the store in remote Alice Springs raised the alarm after noticing a man walk in off the street and begin writing in several books, manager Bev Ellis told national radio.

'As the owner of a bookshop, when you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey (touchy),' Ellis said.

'So we immediately ran to the books and lo-and-behold here was the signature in several books. We sort of spun around on our heels, (saying) 'where did he go, where did he go'?'"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The worst op-ed ever written?

The worst op-ed ever written? - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine: "It was Aug. 5, and professor Stanley Fish, the famous postmodernist and 'guest columnist' for the New York Times, had some breaking news to expound upon in an op-ed piece. He had discovered a new development in American culture that deserved the kind of exegesis only he could deliver: the appearance of a new kind of coffee place.

Have you heard about these new coffee places? Professor Fish's column made it seem as though they had never been noticed or discussed before.

'Getting Coffee Is Hard To Do' was the title of his essay, which in its self-satisfied cluelessness may just qualify as the worst op-ed ever written."

The Times UK: China tells living Buddhas to get permission before they reincarnate

Faith And The City :: Issues :: Global Community Issues :: Articles: "Tibet's living Buddhas have been banned from reincarnation without permission from China's atheist leaders. The ban is included in new rules intended to assert Beijing's authority over Tibet's restive and deeply Buddhist people. 'The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid,' according to the order, which comes into effect on September 1. The 14-part regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs is aimed at limiting the influence of Tibet's exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, and at preventing the re-incarnation of the 72-year-old monk without approval from Beijing."

On this day...

From "New Morning" email newsletter:

For some Christians, today is the commemoration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Dormition of the Theotokos—a celebration of the belief that the body of the mother of Jesus was taken into heaven after her death.

On this day in 1769, Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica. Napoleon envisioned a so-called Grand Empire—a united Europe—of which, of course, he would be emperor. He almost succeeded. Napoleon remains a subject of fascination. It has been said that more biographies have been written about him than any other person in western history, except Jesus of Nazareth.

T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was born this day in 1888. He went to Egypt as a young archaeologist, he later became world-famous as a British Army officer during World War I—and for his support of an independent Arab state in Palestine. As he wrote in his best-selling memoirs, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, "All men dream: but not equally. The dreamers of the day act with open eyes. This I did."

On this day in 1914, the Panama Canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans opened after 35 years in the making. It was one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken. The Canal cut the voyage from the Atlantic to Pacific by about 8,000 miles.

Ha! I share a birthday with Napoleon and Larry of Arabia, as well as the Panama Canal!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John Lennon Downloads to iTunes

E! News - John Lennon Downloads to iTunes - The Beatles | Paul McCartney | Ringo Starr: "Apple just scored some instant karma with John Lennon fans. The company's iTunes Store began selling the late Beatle's solo catalog on Tuesday, the first time Lennon's work has been available via the Internet's most popular digital download service. Effective immediately, 16 of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's albums are available, including his landmark Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Double Fantasy, as well as the compilation albums Lennon Legend, Acoustic, Anthology and Working Class Hero."

Orbitcast: Imus settles...what's next?

Orbitcast | All Things Satellite Radio - XM Radio, Sirius and beyond.: "Reportedly Don Imus has agreed to settle with CBS for $20 million, and a non disparaging clause, according to the Drudge Report's legal sources. The move opens the possibility Imus will soon return to the airwaves, reportedly as soon as January. Some wonder whether Imus could be headed to Sirius, since Mel Karmazin, a former boss of Imus, recently told the Fox News Channel he'd hire him. 'The fact that he had been fired wouldn't stop me from having Don work for me again,' Karmazin said. 'He makes you a lot of money.'"

There She Goes...Miss America Heads to TLC

There She Goes...Miss America�Heads to�TLC - 8/13/2007 4:53:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable: "Discovery's TLC will televise the recently ratings-challenged Miss America pageant this year, giving it a new home on cable after Viacom's Country Music Television decided not to exercise rights to continue running it. TLC has slated the Vegas-based show for Jan. 26, 2008, and will run a reality series about the contestants."

Monday, August 13, 2007

ELO: ELCA calls for bishops to refrain from disciplining gay clergy

Episcopal Life Online - NEWS: "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, which ended its meeting August 12, has called for bishops to refrain from disciplining clergy members who are in same-gender relationships.

Current ELCA discipline requires gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered leaders (GLBT), both lay and ordained, to be celibate. The assembly made no changes to that standard for its professional leaders.

However, by a vote of 538 to 431, the assembly encouraged the ELCA's synods, bishops and presiding bishop to 'refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining' people and congregations who call qualified leaders on the professional rosters of the ELCA 'who are in a mutual, chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationship.'

The assembly also stated that the same restraint should apply to the professional leaders who are on the denomination's official rosters and are in committed same-gender relationships.

According to the ELCA News Service, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said at a news conference that the key words from the adopted action were that the Churchwide Assembly 'prays, urges, and encourages' refraining or demonstrating restraint in discipline.

'These are words of counsel,' Hanson said. 'They are not words that change the standards of the church. They reflect the mind of this assembly as it seeks to give counsel to the leaders of the church.'"

Mark Evanier's blog today

Go visit Mark's blog right now... it's got a ton of great stuff--Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Laurel & Hardy, Orson Bean, and lots more. Don't miss it!

AppleInsider reviews the new iMac

AppleInsider | Review: Apple's new 24-inch iMac (aluminum): "The mid-2007 overhaul of Apple's iconic desktop is the first true evidence of a switch in Apple's design direction since the company's switch to Intel processors. But while it represents two steps forward in terms of ergonomics and performance, pro users may find the iMac taking one step backward."

Who speaks for America's evangelicals?

Who speaks for America's evangelicals? - Mark Pinsky at "The answer is not as clear-cut as in years past. In fact, a younger generation of ministers is changing the face and voice of this very influential constituency. With the 2008 election approaching, that’s no small thing."

Beliefnet: News: Obama's Church has a new pastor

Beliefnet: News: Beliefnet has the Religion News Service story about Otis Moss III, new pastor of Trinity UCC in Chicago, where Barack Obama is a member. Otis is a terrific guy and served as the host of "Day1 Diner," our TV roundtable discussion segment on the Naomi Judd program that aired Sunday mornings on Hallmark Channel (you can watch those segments online at!).

Church dispute heads to Calif. Supreme Court > News > State -- Church dispute heads to state Supreme Court: "Three churches that split from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in a dispute over a gay bishop are asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on who controls the parishes' buildings. The petition comes a little more than a month after an appeals court ruled the buildings should be placed under control of the diocese, reversing lower court rulings in favor of the parishes."

Comics world mourns Wieringo's untimely death

MIKE WIERINGO PASSES AWAY - NEWSARAMA: "The comics industry lost a luminary this weekend – Mike Wieringo passed away Sunday of a sudden heart attack. Details are still sketchy as of this time, but according to close sources, the acclaimed artist had chest pains at some point during the day and called 911, but the responders did not make it in time. Wieringo was 44 years old. He was a vegetarian, and “one of the healthiest ones of us in the bunch,” as his longtime friend and collaborator Todd Dezago described him. "

Skydiver plans head-first freefall from the edge of space in dizzying bid to break Mach 1 | the Daily Mail

Skydiver plans head-first freefall from the edge of space in dizzying bid to break Mach 1 | the Daily Mail: "He will leap head-first from a weather balloon 25 miles above Earth and plummet at more than 1,000mph with only a parachute for company. He will face external temperatures of minus 100c while inside his carbon-fibre suit it will be a stifling 65c - almost 150 fahrenheit. And most amazing of all, Michel Fournier is actually looking forward to it. The daredevil Frenchman, a greyhaired 63-year-old former paratrooper, aims to become the first person to break the sound barrier in free-fall." CBS News dancing to "Thriller" TVNewser: "CBS Evening News honcho Rick Kaplan surprised his staff with an afternoon version, of morning calisthenics today. Kaplan arranged for a team of professional dancers to teach the Evening News staffers the moves to the Michael Jackson 'Thriller' video. The Friday fiesta was inspired by this video from a Filipino prison, which has been downloaded more than 4.5 million times on YouTube. A CBS News insider tells us medical correspondent 'Dr. Jon LaPook quickly threw off his jacket to gain full movement of the floor and lead the pack.' We're told Kaplan and anchor Katie Couric (not seen in photo) got in on the fun too."

Mediabistro: Richard Branson douses Colbert FishbowlNY: "A taping of a Colbert Report segment on Tuesday turned into chaos... and it will most likely never make it to air. Stephen Colbert was interviewing Sir Richard Branson when the billionaire decided to empty his mug of water on Colbert's head. According to a member of the studio audience:
'I haven't posted a recap anywhere else, but I'll spill it here first. Branson was apparently upset that he wasn't able to give a direct plug to the new Virgin service and doused Colbert with his guest mug of water. Stephen was DRENCHED. He took a beat, then signalled for his own 'ammunition' for about twenty seconds until Alison (Silverman) ran and gave him her bottle of water, and Stephen retaliated. The two of them sat for a VERY uncomfortable second looking like two wet cats. Then Stephen thanked him for coming. I really don't think it was planned, since Stephen had another bit to introduce (the American Samoa Better Know a Protectorate) and a full interview left to do. They had to get him a new jacket and even broke out a blowdryer. Everyone in the crew had a 'WTF?' reaction.'"

Karl Rove to Resign At the End of August -

Karl Rove to Resign At the End of August - "Karl Rove, President Bush's longtime political adviser, is resigning as White House deputy chief of staff effective Aug. 31, and returning to Texas, marking a turning point for the Bush presidency. Mr. Rove's departure removes one of the White House's most polarizing figures, and perhaps signals the effective end of the lame duck administration's role in shaping major domestic policy decisions. Mr. Rove revealed his plans in an interview with Paul Gigot, editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page."

Merv Griffin - New York Times

Merv Griffin - New York Times: "Merv Griffin, a big-band singer who became one of television’s longest-running talk-show hosts and formidable innovators, creating some of the medium’s most popular game shows before becoming a major figure in the hotel and gambling businesses, died yesterday in Los Angeles. He was 82."

I used to love his talk show as a kid.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

UFO over Haiti?

This is posted on YouTube... pretty cool fake--if it is!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

NYT: Pastor Dan of makes the NYT!

A Pastor Finds a Way to Serve Two Disparate Flocks - New York Times: "Here is ministry at its most venerable, ministry at its most tender and intimate and finely grained. And it comes from a minister with a strikingly unlikely double-life, one part as the small-town preacher in a socially conservative spot of the Midwest, the other as an abrasive and confrontational voice of the religious left in the blogosphere."

Reported Decline in Surveillance Spurred Quick Law - New York Times

Reported Decline in Surveillance Spurred Quick Law - New York Times: "At a closed-door briefing in mid-July, senior intelligence officials startled lawmakers with some troubling news. American eavesdroppers were collecting just 25 percent of the foreign-based communications they had been receiving a few months earlier. Congress needed to act quickly, intelligence officials said, to repair a dangerous situation. Some lawmakers were alarmed. Others, jaded by past intelligence warnings, were skeptical. The report helped set off a furious legislative rush last week that, improbably, broadened the administration’s authority to wiretap terrorism suspects without court oversight."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thor coming to a movie screen near you

Evening Telegraph UK:

"Matthew Vaughn is reportedly set to direct the big screen adaptation of comic book character Thor.

"The Layer Cake helmer, who is married to supermodel Claudia Schiffer, was rumoured to be onboard the much-anticipated project and now Variety has confirmed reports.

"Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend) is scripting the tale, which will bring the Norse god to life as he wields his mighty hammer Mjolnir and travels from his mystical home of Asgard to help the humans of Midgard."

AJC: Baptist seminary enters the 19th century

Seminary offers homemaking | "The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archaeology, in the philosophy of religion and —- starting this fall —- in how to cook and sew. One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking —- a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles."

Analysts See ‘Simply Incredible’ Shrinking of Floating Ice in the Arctic - New York Times

Analysts See ‘Simply Incredible’ Shrinking of Floating Ice in the Arctic - New York Times: "The area of floating ice in the Arctic has shrunk more this summer than in any other summer since satellite tracking began in 1979, and it has reached that record point a month before the annual ice pullback typically peaks, experts said yesterday. The cause is probably a mix of natural fluctuations, like unusually sunny conditions in June and July, and long-term warming from heat-trapping greenhouse gases and sooty particles accumulating in the air, according to several scientists."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bush promises to protect America...

Hilarious! - Watch more free videos

EW.Com: Twenty great movie endings

Photo 1 | Fine Finales | "Lost in Translation, Some Like It Hot, Reservoir Dogs: Check out 20 movies with awesome endings..."

First Father: Tough Times on Sidelines - New York Times

First Father: Tough Times on Sidelines - New York Times: "These are distressing days for the Bush family patriarch, only the second former president in American history, after John Adams, to see his son take the White House. At 83, he finds it tough to watch his son get criticized from the sidelines; often, he likens himself to a Little League father whose kid is having a rough game. And like the proud and angry Little League dad who cannot help but yell at the umpire, sometimes he just cannot help getting involved.

The official line from the White House is that 41, as he is known in Bush circles, gives advice to 43 only when asked. But interviews with a broad range of people close to both presidents — including family members like the elder Mr. Bush’s daughter, Doro Bush Koch, and aides who have worked for both men, like Andrew H. Card Jr. — suggest a far more complicated father-son dynamic, in which the former president is not nearly so distant as the White House would have people believe."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

FCC Assigns New Digital Channel Numbers - TVWeek

FCC Assigns New Digital Channel Numbers - TVWeek - News: "The Federal Communications Commission is taking one of the last steps in the transition from analog to digital television, issuing stations their final digital channel assignments.

The FCC last night announced the assignments for the country’s 1,800 stations. However, some last-minute requests for changes will be dealt with later.

The switch from analog to digital, due to take place Feb. 17, 2009, could rewrite some of the rules for local competition.


Edward Beck's new book reviewed in PW

Four Reviews Coming in Publishers Weekly on Monday, August 27 - 8/8/2007 - Publishers Weekly: "Soul Provider: Spiritual Steps to Limitless Love
Edward L. Beck. Doubleday, $22.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-51552-8

Sometimes in the quest for a deeper spirituality, we need to be reminded of the basics—the fundamental stepping stones that aid toward spiritual progress throughout life. Beck, a Catholic priest, member of the Passionist religious order, and author of God Underneath, has an extraordinary gift for diving into the Christian spiritual tradition and emerging with profound perspectives and wisdom that speak directly to the heart. For this project, Beck looks to early seventh-century mystic St. John Climacus and his classic work The Ladder of Divine Ascent, and shows, step by step, how these ancient spiritual prescriptions for the good life are just as vital today. A gifted writer and storyteller, Beck delivers straightforward, honest and at times poignant prose, tying his own life experiences in when appropriate. All of the chapters integrate helpful quotations and end with reflection questions to aid readers with their own prayers. Writing about his inspiration for this book, the author states, 'I was encouraged to face my vices and demons, assured that they didn't have the power to overcome me, and then to move on.' Beck conveys similar encouragement through this work, and many people will benefit."

Father Edward's endorsement is on the back cover of my new book!

Timeless TV - A Really Missed Shew

Timeless TV - A Really Missed Shew - TVWeek - Blogs: "The greatest thing about “The Ed Sullivan Show,' a Sunday night staple on CBS for 23 years, was that it was a common cultural reference point for just about everybody in the U.S., no matter how old they were or where they lived in the country.

Broadcast live from New York at 8 p.m. ET (when the kids were still up), it introduced the latest—in musical acts, comedians, Broadway musical numbers, trying acrobatic acts, what have you—and back in the days when there were just the Big Three networks, exposure on the Sullivan show packed some wallop. From 1948 to 1971, careers were made overnight, when up-and-comers suddenly became household words. Its effect was not unlike that of “American Idol’s” today, but with more frequency, a more varied lineup of professional talent and a lot more class." WB sends 'Jonny Quest' to bigscreen - WB sends 'Jonny Quest' to bigscreen: "Warner Bros. wants to send Jonny Quest on his first bigscreen adventure.

Adrian Askarieh and Daniel Alter, who have the vidgame-based 'Hitman' bowing in October from Fox, will produce the live-action adaptation of the popular 1960s animated TV series from Hanna-Barbera, with Dan Mazeau penning the script.

Series revolved around a young boy who travels the world with his scientist father, adopted brother from India, Bandit the bulldog, and a government agent assigned to protect them as they go on their adventures investigating scientific mysteries."

Discover new species at website

…free your imagination… is a website that presents new species discovered this millennium and other natural wonders. explains:

Despite all of the terrifying research about global warming and its catastrophic effects on the animal kingdom (read: we’re doomed!), there are still new forms of life being discovered in the remaining remote parts of the earth. Now the Website Free Your Imagination keeps track of both newly discovered species and rare, extraordinary ones — describing them in easy-to-understand language, complete with photographs. The site’s highlights include such recent finds as a monstrous prehistoric shark and a frog with fluorescent-purple markings that kind of resembles an ’80s music-video dancer.

Some of the site’s species have more of a wow factor than others — such as the colossal squid the size of a school bus — but all of the articles serve to restore one’s sense of wonder at the world. What better way to inspire the general public to save the wilderness than with a newly declared subspecies in Borneo: the threatened, and ridiculously cute, pygmy elephant?

Hogan's Alley #15 is at the printer!

Out of the Alley! - Hogan's Alley newsletter: "Now that we've shipped Hogan's Alley #15 to the printer, we wanted to touch base with you again and talk about comics and, naturally, your favorite magazine about comics. Hogan's Alley #15 is clocking in as our biggest issue yet, with 160 pages. (We've put the cover online at"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Macworld: Apple updates iMac offerings

Macworld: News: Apple updates iMac offerings: "Apple announced an overhaul of its iMac line Tuesday, replacing the white enclosure of its all-in-one desktop with a new aluminum-and-glass design. "

Crime and Punishment, Batman Style

Again With the Comics: "Time for another forgotten classic from the vast Again With the Comics archives. Here we present Dostoyevsky Comics, originally printed in Drawn and Quarterly #3 (2000), and currently out-of-print, as far as I know. Crime and Punishment, originally written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was brilliantly adapted here by R. Sikoryak, as seen through a Dick Sprang Batman filter. This marriage of Classic Russian Literature and the Caped Crusader of Gotham also serves as further proof, if any were needed, that everything is better with Batman."

Think Progress - Editorials On FISA: ‘Unnecessary And Dangerous Expansion of President Bush’s Powers’

Think Progress - Editorials On FISA: ‘Unnecessary And Dangerous Expansion of President Bush’s Powers’: "Last week, under heavy political pressure from the White House, Congress approved the White House-backed version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which provided expansive spying authority to the Bush administration. The White House had earlier rejected a compromise bill that provided powers sought by the Director of National Intelligence, opting instead to play politics with the issue.

In the past two days, at least nine major newspapers have editorialized against the FISA legislation, with the New York Times today calling it an “unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush’s powers.” Some examples..."

U.S. troop level in Iraq reaches record high - Yahoo! News UK

U.S. troop level in Iraq reaches record high - Yahoo! News UK: "The United States has more troops in Iraq now than at any previous time in the war, with around 162,000 members of the military in the country, the Pentagon said on Tuesday."

NYPost: NYT to dump TimesSelect

TIMESSELECT CONTENT "The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.

After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter.

The timing of when TimesSelect will shut down hinges on resolving software issues associated with making the switch to a free service, the source said."

Lord, I hope this is true. I subscribe to the weekends but have NEVER been able to get the TimesSelect feature to work on my Mac at home or work. When I try to log-in, it tells me to sign up. When I sign up, it says I'm already signed up. I can never get to the content. I worked with NYT techies for weeks on the problem, and they finally proclaimed it "fixed." But it never was. Very frustrating. Free Frank Rich!

NYT report on San Diego Comic-Con

Comic-Con - Fantasy - Comic Books - New York Times: "THEY came, they saw, they conquered and were conquered in turn -- willingly, deliriously, gratefully. With dazed smiles, sweat-stained Superman T-shirts, pink hair, deathly pallor, yards of tattoos, rolls of fat and an occasional pair of detachable devil horns, troops of comic-book fans, collectible professionals and enthusiasts, science-fiction nerds and circling Hollywood sharks descended on the San Diego Convention Center last weekend for the 38th annual Comic-Con International. Happily adrift and at times gaga from sensory overload, I did too."

Monday, August 06, 2007

'Sci-Fi Masters' Tanks, ABC Vindicated - TVWeek

James Hibberd - 'Masters' Tanks, ABC Vindicated - TVWeek - Blogs: "Is a network disappointed or relieved when a show they don’t like performs poorly?

The new anthology series “Masters of Science Fiction” was cut from six episodes to four, then scheduled to premiere in the airless timeslot of Saturdays at 10 p.m. in the dead of summer. When ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson was asked about the moves, he reportedly described the series as “uneven” and “a little bit problematic.”

This set the stage for critics to do something they heartily enjoy: Rebel against a network by praising one of its orphaned shows. That the “Masters” source material is written by sci-fi legends like Harlan Ellison and Robert Heinlein, while ABC has stockpiled its summer with reality repeats, only made the critic contingent extra feisty."

The Spirit is cast: Gabriel Macht

THE BEAT: "Gabriel Macht has been cast as THE SPIRIT in Frank Miller’s upcoming film. Macht has already earned his comic book movie stripes with a role in WHITEOUT. (He also appeared on BUFFY, a nerd cred requisite.) Samuel L. Jackson has been cast as the Octopus.

For “The Spirit,” [Miller] insisted that actors who wanted the starring role audition, and Macht won the job in the room.

“We think Gabriel has a devilishly charming quality, and the dry wit that embodies the Spirit, and we wanted to do this with someone who can embody this character for the next few years, because we anticipate we’ll be making more than one Spirit movie,” said Lionsgate prexy of film production Mike Paseornek."

Pattie Boyd: 'My hellish love triangle with George and Eric'

Pattie Boyd: 'My hellish love triangle with George and Eric' - Part One | the Daily Mail: "George Harrison wrote the love song Something for his wife Pattie Boyd. Eric Clapton wrote Layla for her. Theirs was the most extraordinary love triangle in rock history.

Now, after four decades of silence, the woman who drove two music legends wild tells the raw, unexpurgated story of her life..."

A Bishop's Endorsement Provokes Protest | The Trail |

A Bishop's Endorsement Provokes Protest | The Trail | "For eight years, Democrats have complained about clergy who promoted President Bush and other conservatives, saying it is divisive to portray a candidate or a party as being more (or less) on God's team. But now that Democratic candidates are talking about religion more than Republicans, the tables may have turned.

Today, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign put out a news release announcing that he has the support of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson. The Obama campaign identified Robinson as 'a civil rights leader and a leading voice in the faith community.' He is more widely known as the gay Episcopal priest whose election to bishop in 2003 fueled massive debate about Scripture and sexuality in the Episcopal church, and led some Episcopalians to leave the church.

Three hours after the announcement, Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said it was 'just the latest example of candidates misusing religious leaders for political gain.'

Gaddy said he was sending a letter to all the presidential candidates asking them not to make endorsements that appear to be speaking on behalf of their house of worship or denomination."

NYT Shrinks Today (Less News is Fit to Print, apparently)

Lean Times | The New York Observer: "“Other than if you put a ruler on the paper and measure it, I’m kind of hoping it will not be that noticeable,” said Tom Bodkin, design director for The New York Times. On the morning of Monday, August 6, the Times was scheduled to crop an inch an a half from the newspaper's width. The new Times will now be 12 inches wide, which newspaper officials have said is the 'industry standard' for American broadsheets.

Cutting the 'trim size,' as the industry calls it, has been an increasingly frequent measure among broadsheets to reduce costs associated with printing, and sometimes, as with The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, is taken as an opportunity to roll out a redesign of the front page.

The Times does plan to redesign, but is introducing the trimmer silhouette first. Indeed, official Times responses have significantly downplayed the size change."

Lay Down Tracks on Your iPod / Wired How To's

Lay Down Tracks on Your iPod / Wired How To's: "Using the barely noticeable line-in jack on Belkin's TuneTalk accessory, singer-songwriter Jimmy Camp recorded his entire Captain America album on his iPod. You can use your pocket player as a one-track recorder too. Just remember: Camp's technique prevents post-recording level correction, overdubbing and sampling, so you'll need to play guitar or keyboards while you sing (or invite someone over who does). Here's what he did plus a few bonus suggestions from some savvy readers:"

MSNBC, Radio Could Split Over Imus Slot -

MSNBC, Radio Could Split Over Imus Slot - "Don Imus' former radio and television empire is being broken up, with MSNBC very likely hiring Joe Scarborough for its morning telecast while radio looks elsewhere, according to people close to the negotiations.

WFAN, the New York radio station that was Imus' flagship, is said to be close to naming former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason to the morning time slot. Esiason works now as a football analyst for CBS Sports."

Nothing to Watch on TV? Streaming Video Appeals to Niche Audiences - New York Times

Nothing to Watch on TV? Streaming Video Appeals to Niche Audiences - New York Times: "Seeing these words blinking at the bottom of the postage-stamp-size screen during a download of jerky video defines the annoying experience of entertainment on a computer monitor.

However, the potential of new streaming video services — fast, full screen and in sharp resolution — is unleashing a torrent of movies and television shows, much of it aimed at narrowly defined audiences that can’t find niche programming even on cable systems with 500 or more channels."

In praise of film scores (NYT)

Lights! Action! Music! - TV - Review - New York Times: "Classical music for people who are afraid of classical music: that’s one way of looking at traditional film scores, which bring symphonically orchestrated music to more people than most serious composers are ever likely to attract to concert halls. As movie audiences are emotionally swept up in the synergy of photography, acting, settings and costumes, it is music more than any other element that effects what the director Francis Ford Coppola calls the “fusion” of these ingredients into “a critical mass.” It usually works best if it is only half-heard.

Those are among Mr. Coppola’s insights in “Lights! Action! Music!,” a fluffy, disorganized, woefully incomplete compendium of interviews and film clips about movie music that begins this month on public television stations. (It is shown tonight on WLIW in New York.)


Saturday, August 04, 2007

An Artist and His Sub Surrender in Brooklyn - New York Times

An Artist and His Sub Surrender in Brooklyn - New York Times

Author ponders 'What would Flanders do?' |

Author ponders 'What would Ned Flanders do?' |

"[Flanders] would probably see [the movie] out of neighborly loyalty to Homer, he's hopeless in that regard, but definitely wouldn't let Rod and Todd [his sons] see it," said Mark I. Pinsky."

Chrysler officially goes private; CEO promises 'laserlike focus' |

Chrysler officially goes private; CEO promises 'laserlike focus' | "Chrysler became an American company again Friday as Cerberus Capital Management gained a controlling share from Chrysler's German owners and started on the long road to restoring the 82-year-old automaker's luster —- and profits.

DaimlerChrysler AG transferred an 80.1 percent stake in Chrysler to New York-based Cerberus, one of the world's largest private equity firms, in a $7.4 billion deal. The German automaker retained a 19.9 percent interest in the new company, Chrysler LLC.

'After months of uncertainty, then a period of transition, we are beginning a new chapter in Chrysler's proud history —- and we have the chance to write a terrific story,' Chrysler Chief Executive Tom LaSorda said in an e-mail to employees.

With the closing, Chrysler becomes the first U.S. automaker in private hands since Ford Motor Co. went public in 1956. Chrysler, which plans a companywide celebration Monday, during which it will revive its five-sided star logo, will be free of the short-term quarterly earnings pressures that public companies face, since there will be no Chrysler shares to be traded."

This will be interesting to watch. By the way, I was following a PT Cruiser the other day noticing the retro Chrysler logo and thinking, "I wonder if they'd ever bring back the old five-sided star logo?" Weird!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lutherans take up sexuality debate -- again

Lutherans take up sexuality debate -- again (RNS): "The nation's largest Lutheran denomination will again face the divisive issue of sexuality when it considers resolutions on gay clergy and same-sex blessings at its biennial assembly in Chicago next week (Aug. 8-12).

After the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted at its last Churchwide Assembly in 2005 to maintain church rules that ban noncelibate gay and lesbian ministers, many thought the issue would be
tabled until a comprehensive study on sexuality was completed in 2009.

But 22 of the ELCA's 65 regional synods have asked the church to again address standards for gay clergy this year, pushing for change within the 5 million-member denomination.

About half of the 125 proposed resolutions to be debated at the assembly address sexuality, standards and discipline for sexual conduct of clergy and same-sex blessings. 'The battle lines are being drawn,'
said one advocate, while ELCA leaders are pleading for comity amid the contentious debate."

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Steve Martin interviews Roz Chast

Steve Martin interviews Roz Chast - Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog: "In this fantastic video, Steve Martin interviews one of my favourite cartoonists, Roz Chast. The two pore over her somewhat new collection, the mammoth hardcover Theories of Everything, which remains my favourite book I purchased in the last year. I was engrossed in the video, so I can’t give you a real running time, but it must’ve been at least 30 minutes. Really fun stuff. Watch it just to see the cartoon “homework assignment” Steve gives to Roz." Check it out.

Keith clears up 'snorting dad' confusion

Daily Express: The World's Greatest Newspaper :: Day & Night :: Keith clears up 'snorting dad' confusion: "WHEN Keith Richards retracted claims that he had snorted his father’s ashes with a generous sprinkling of cocaine, he put the kibosh on one of the greatest Rolling Stones anecdotes.

But now the 63-year-old rocker has admitted he did inhale his father Bert’s remains – just not with class-A narcotics.

Because that, of course, would have been disrespectful.

“The cocaine bit was rubbish,” says “Keef”, who is penning his autobiog�raphy.

“I said I chopped him up like cocaine, not with. I’d opened his box up and said, ‘Jesus, I’ve got to do something with dad, y’know, plant the oak tree.’
" - PBS studies 'History of Television' - PBS studies 'History of Television': "The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation has partnered with the Documentary Group and Washington, D.C., pubcaster WETA to produce a miniseries about TV for PBS.

'The History of Television,' which is a working title, received a greenlight after scoring a $2 million grant from PBS and the Corp. for Public Broadcasting. Project was announced Wednesday by TV Academy Foundation chairman Steve Mosko and WETA exec VP/chief programming officer Dalton Delan.

The program is slated to air on PBS in spring 2009."

AMC Developing Miniseries, Thriller, 2 Series - TVWeek - News

AMC Developing Miniseries, Thriller, 2 Series - TVWeek - News: "AMC, which is moving aggressively into the original programming business, announced a handful of new development deals.

AMC, the leading basic-cable movie channel, last week launched its first original series, “Mad Men,” to strong ratings. The channel announced it will launch its second original series, “Breaking Bad,” in January."

BBC: Saturn's ring mystery is solved

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Saturn's ring mystery is solved: "Scientists have made a significant step forward in understanding the dynamics of Saturn's magnificent and mysterious system of rings.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Michael Caine to release chill-out album - Times Online

Michael Caine to release chill-out album - Times Online: "Michael Caine was the personification of icy cool as secret agent Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, but it wasn't until he wowed Elton John with his knowledge of downtempo ambient music that he realised he was a chill-out expert.

Now the Alfie actor, 74, has announced the name of his new chill-out album - Cained - a selection of his favourite mellow tracks."

List Of The Day: Great Moments in Home Shopping

List Of The Day: Great Moments in Home Shopping: My buddy Cary has culled YouTube for some live TV classics! Check 'em out!

How to Celebrate 'The World's Worst Poet'? -

How to Celebrate 'The World's Worst Poet'? - "The land that gave the world Robert Burns also has the dubious honor of producing the 'world's worst poet.' Now fans of the hapless William McGonagall are campaigning to put him in the pantheon of Scottish literary greats.

The late-19th-century poet's work was so bad he carried an umbrella with him at all times as protection from the barrage of rotten tomatoes he faced wherever he recited."

Bizarre author news

WRITER DUMPS HUBBY FOR TED - Gossip - New York Post Online Edition: "PULITZER prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler sent out an e-mail yesterday announcing that his wife had dumped him for billionaire Ted Turner.

'Put down your cup of coffee or you might spill it,' Butler, 62, wrote to his graduate students and fellow professors at Florida State University in Tallahassee. 'Elizabeth is leaving me for Ted Turner.'

Elizabeth is Butler's wife of 12 years, Elizabeth Dewberry, 44, an author in her own right, who might be attracted to Turner, 68, because the media mogul resembles the grandfather who molested her as a child, Butler writes in the shocking e-mail."

Shafer/Slate on Rupert's big deal

Having bagged his trophy, how long will it take Rupert Murdoch to bugger it? - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine: "I've predicted that Murdoch will be a bad Wall Street Journal owner because of his instinct to foul every journalism nest in which he roosts. I need to reiterate my view that Murdoch fouls his nests not because he's a bad news man but because he's no sort of a news man. He's an impresario, a politician, and empire builder who pushes the truth only when it serves his business interests.

Today's Wall Street Journal moves financial markets with its news accounts because readers believe—rightly—that the paper serves no master but the reader. Even the slightest tinkering by Murdoch will shatter the trust relationship the paper has with its readers, who are a thousand times more discerning and a thousand times less forgiving than the tabloid readers and viewers Murdoch has made his money on. Will readers be able to trust the Murdoch Journal's coverage of television? Of cable? Of publishing? Of China? Of the Internet? Of any place Murdoch holds a business interest?"

In Praise of Tap Water - New York Times

In Praise of Tap Water - New York Times: "Here are the hard, dry facts: Yes, drinking water is a good thing, far better than buying soft drinks, or liquid candy, as nutritionists like to call it. And almost all municipal water in America is so good that nobody needs to import a single bottle from Italy or France or the Fiji Islands. Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 49 cents.

Next, there’s the environment. Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans. Add in the substantial amount of fuel used in transporting water, which is extremely heavy, and the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing."

BBC: Murdoch wins fight for Dow Jones

BBC NEWS | Business | Murdoch wins fight for Dow Jones: "Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has won his battle to buy US media giant Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

His News Corporation firm has secured the deal for $5.6bn (�2.7bn), or $60 a share - a 65% premium to Dow's share price before the bid was announced.

The agreement comes after Mr Murdoch received the required level of support from the Bancroft family, who hold the majority of Dow Jones' shares.

It ends the Bancrofts' 100-year stewardship of the Dow Jones."