Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gail Collins on Scott McClellan's revelations - NYT

Op-Ed Columnist - Gail Collins - What George Forgot - Op-Ed - "The administration’s defenders have not really attacked the book’s thesis — really, what could you say? But they’ve been frothing at the mouth over McClellan’s lack of loyalty. “This will stand as the epitome, the ultimate breach of that code of honor,” said Mary Matalin."

A Michelangelo for the Reader With Deep Pockets -

‘La Dotta Mano’ - A Michelangelo for the Reader With Deep Pockets - "The gala presentation of “Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano” (“Michelangelo: The Wise Hand”), a volume of photographs of this Renaissance master’s sculptures, may well have been the most lavish book debut in history.

With Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square, as the backdrop, a short video depiction of the volume, which can be seen on, was followed on Thursday night by an hourlong spectacle that included dozens of costumed dancers, a string quartet playing from a stage suspended in midair, suckling pigs roasted over a pit, a fake snowfall and a foppishly dressed acrobat walking Spiderman-style up the facade of San Petronio, the city’s cathedral.

But then, this is no ordinary book, starting with its retail price of 100,000 euros, or around $155,000, at Friday’s exchange rate.

Included in the price of what its publishers are calling “the most beautiful book in the world” is a sleek black case, its own stand and a 500-year guarantee."

NYT: Hodgman on Comics

Book Review - New Comic Books - Review -

Taking another look at the comics legend Jack Kirby, Eric Shanower’s “Age of Bronze” and Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s “Y: The Last Man.”

Friday, May 30, 2008

Booksellers expect lackluster market |

PUBLISHING: Booksellers expect lackluster market | "As publishers pray for a new children's series to equal Harry Potter and await the next novel by 'The Da Vinci Code' author Dan Brown, a report released today predicts a tight market for at least the next few years."

Stonehenge's secret revealed? -

Stonehenge's secret | "The secret of Stonehenge has been solved: The mysterious circle of large stones in southern England was a burial ground for almost five centuries, and it probably holds the remains of a family that long ruled the area, new research concludes.

Based on radiocarbon-dating of cremated bones up to 5,000 years old, researchers with the Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project said they are convinced that the area was built and grew as a 'domain of the ancestors.'

'It's now clear that burials were a major component of Stonehenge in all its main stages,' said Mike Parker Pearson, archaeology professor at the University of Sheffield in England and head of the project. 'Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid-third millennium B.C.'"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harvey Korman of ‘Carol Burnett Show’ dies - Celebrities-

Harvey Korman of ‘Carol Burnett Show’ dies - Celebrities- "Actor and comedian Harvey Korman, who was a regular on 'The Carol Burnett Show' and appeared in a string of Mel Brooks films such as 'Blazing Saddles' and 'High Anxiety,' died Thursday at age 81 at UCLA Medical Center, according to the hospital. Korman suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago, according to hospital officials."

Composer Alexander Courage dies - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety

Composer Alexander Courage dies - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety: "Alexander (Sandy) Courage, composer of the original 'Star Trek' theme and an Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated arranger for TV and movies, died May 15 in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 88 and had been in declining health since 2005.
Courage's fanfare for the Starship Enterprise, written in 1965 for the first of two 'Star Trek' pilots, was heard throughout the three original seasons of the show and has been reprised throughout all the 'Trek' feature films and several of the TV series, notably 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' in the 1980s and '90s."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

007 Runs Full-Throttle Through a New Book in ‘Devil May Care’ - Review -

Books of The Times - 007 Runs Full-Throttle Through a New Book in ‘Devil May Care’ - Review - "It’s the big day: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming. Without Fleming, who died in 1964 at 56, we would never have had the debonair company of James Bond, the creative sadism of Goldfinger and Dr. No or the pet octopus named Octopussy. Without the benefit of Fleming, however, we’ve had Octopussy as a cinematic Bond Girl in 1983, part of a movie franchise that is miraculously resuscitated (most recently by Daniel Craig as Bond in “Casino Royale”) each time it falters, and a string of ersatz Bond books by fill-in writers. To this shaky bibliography we can now add “Devil May Care.”"

The Guessing Game Has Begun on the Next iPhone -

The Guessing Game Has Begun on the Next iPhone - "Last June, Mr. Jobs began selling what has become one of the most talked-about consumer products in history. Now he faces a new challenge as Apple prepares to introduce an updated version of the phone next month."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lifeline for mainliners - Opinion -

Lifeline for mainliners - Opinion - "These once-dominant liberal Protestant denominations have been drained by demographic realities and eclipsed by conservative religious voices. Yet vibrant mainline megachurches might have found a formula for a renaissance."

Mindfulness Meditation, Based on Buddha’s Teachings, Gains Ground With Therapists -

Mindfulness Meditation, Based on Buddha’s Teachings, Gains Ground With Therapists - "This exercise in focused awareness and mental catch-and-release of emotions has become perhaps the most popular new psychotherapy technique of the past decade. Mindfulness meditation, as it is called, is rooted in the teachings of a fifth-century B.C. Indian prince, Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. It is catching the attention of talk therapists of all stripes, including academic researchers, Freudian analysts in private practice and skeptics who see all the hallmarks of another fad.

For years, psychotherapists have worked to relieve suffering by reframing the content of patients’ thoughts, directly altering behavior or helping people gain insight into the subconscious sources of their despair and anxiety. The promise of mindfulness meditation is that it can help patients endure flash floods of emotion during the therapeutic process — and ultimately alter reactions to daily experience at a level that words cannot reach."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Dies at 73 - Obituary (Obit) -

Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Dies at 73 - Obituary (Obit) - "Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like “The Way We Were,” “Tootsie” and “Out of Africa” were among the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s, died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73."

A Stroke Leads a Brain Scientist to a New Spirituality -

A Stroke Leads a Brain Scientist to a New Spirituality - "JILL BOLTE TAYLOR was a neuroscientist working at Harvard’s brain research center when she experienced nirvana.

But she did it by having a stroke.

On Dec. 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor, then 37, woke up in her apartment near Boston with a piercing pain behind her eye. A blood vessel in her brain had popped. Within minutes, her left lobe — the source of ego, analysis, judgment and context — began to fail her. Oddly, it felt great.

The incessant chatter that normally filled her mind disappeared. Her everyday worries — about a brother with schizophrenia and her high-powered job — untethered themselves from her and slid away."

Here is her talk from TED.

NASA spacecraft successfully lands on Mars |

NASA spacecraft successfully lands on Mars | "A NASA spacecraft plunged into the atmosphere of Mars and successfully landed in the Red Planet's northern polar region on Sunday, where it will begin 90 days of digging in the permafrost to look for evidence of the building blocks of life.

Less than two hours later, the Phoenix Mars Lander beamed back four dozen black-and-white images including one of its foot sitting on Martian soil amid tiny rocks. Others included the horizon of the arctic plain and ground with polygon patterns similar to what can be found in Earth's permafrost regions."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

John Lundberg: The Worst Poet Ever

John Lundberg: The Worst Poet Ever - Living on The Huffington Post: "A collection of poems penned by a late 19th Century Scotsman named William Topaz McGonagall drew considerable attention when they went up for auction in Edinburgh last Friday. Was this man the Robert Burns of his generation? Quite the opposite. McGonagall's poetry is celebrated in the U.K. for being astonishingly bad. Buyers were bidding on a literary Edsel.

Just how bad was McGonagall?" Find out...

Hogan's Alley Bulletin: Reuben Award Winners

From Tom Heintjes:

The awards given by the National Cartoonists Society have just been given, and we wanted Hogan's Alley newsletter readers to hear the results first! In the Advertising Illustration Division, the winner is Tom Richmond. David Silverman won the Feature Animation Division. Stephen Silver won the Television Animation Division. Sandra Boynton won the Book Illustration Division. Shaun Tan won the Comic Book Division. Bill Schorr won the Editorial Cartoon Division. Mort Gerberg won the Gag Cartoon Division. Dave Mowder wno the Greeting Card Division. Daryll Collins won the Magazine Illustration Division. Sean Kelly won the Newspaper Illustration Division. Chad Carpenter won the Newspaper Panel Division. Jim Meddick won the Newspaper Strip Division. And the Reuben Award--the evening's top award for the best cartoonist of the year--went to Al Jaffee.

TV's 'Laugh-in' comic Dick Martin dies - Celebrities-

TV's Laugh-in comic Dick Martin dies - Celebrities- "Dick Martin, the zany half of the comedy team whose 'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' took television by storm in the 1960s, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and creating such national catch-phrases as 'Sock it to me!' has died. He was 86."

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was huge when I was a kid. It may have influenced entertainment for decades.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Away for a couple of weeks

I'll be doing some traveling for the next two weeks, so we're taking a break here. Come back in late May and see what we're up to. In the meantime, watch the Living Loved trailer... and visit my Amazon page!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Explore the Spirit: More on the spiritual implications of Iron Man

Explore the Spirit: 164: What Happens in the Movie Theater -- Jumps Out into the World with Us: "'I LOVED 'Iron Man'!
'I mean, I LOVED it.
'It was so -- so Zen!'

Those were the words just one day ago from the Buddhist priest and author Geri Larkin, who we'll feature next week in a story about her new book, 'Plant Seed, Pull Weed.'

Following our recommendation last week, Geri went to see the debut of the 'Iron Man' movie. Then, this 50-something, nationally known Buddhist sage, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, and leads a quiet life of hard work, meditation and writing wound up raving about the spiritual lessons that jump right off the silver screen in this movie.

I have huge respect for Geri's Zen viewpoint, but this isn't a spiritual theme limited to a single faith. A week ago, the same point was made by Christian scholar Greg Garrett, another nationally known sage -- in Greg's case concerning cinema, superheroes, popular culture and faith.

When East meets West in a spiritual evaluation like this, then I know we're onto something here."

Bangkok Post: Burmese dictators' priority

Bangkok Post: Top Stories: "While bloated corpses still litter Irrawaddy delta fields, the controlled media promote the referendum. While a million Burmese in deep shock fight for their survival, government ministers give speeches on the 'flourishing discipline democracy.'

Mae Sot - The ruling military junta of Burma has imposed a vacation ban for all officials - but not so every last person can be available to assist survivors of the recent cyclone that devastated the country.

Instead, the officials have to remain available to organise Saturday's referendum on the new constitution, with which the generals intend to cement their power.

'This clearly shows their priorities,' said Bo Kyi who, as a political prisoner, spent more than seven years in a military-run torture camp before he fled across the border into Thailand." Bond is back FishbowlNY: "James Bond is back. Again. According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, America's favorite British secret agent will return in Devil May Care, his 23rd new novel since creator Ian Fleming died 44 years ago.

So what's different about this one? It may actually sell. Penned by Sebastian Faulks, it has an initial print run of 250,000 in the U.S. and 100,000 in the U.K. (The last Bond novel, The Man With The Red Tattoo only sold 13,000 stateside, but what were they expecting with that title?) Ironically, the current economic woes might help sales. 'The downturn in the economy has prompted a demand for escapist fare,' Bob Wietrak, vice president of merchandising at Barnes & Noble, told the WSJ.

Whereas previous Bond novels modernized the character, Devil returns to traditional themes of the Cold War, heroin and characters with ridiculous names — in this case, Poppy."

New Yorker: Ernie Colon's graphic novels

Thousand Words Dept.: Terror Comix: The Talk of the Town: The New Yorker: "n the fall of 2004, when Ernie Colon was employed as a security guard on Long Island and feeling perturbed because, at seventy-two, he had too much idle time, he got an idea. That summer, the 9/11 Commission Report had been published and become a best-seller. Colon bought a copy and, as he read it, told himself that only a fraction of the book’s buyers would do the same. Unless, that is, it could be rendered more user-friendly, which, conveniently, he was equipped to do. He called a friend in Los Angeles, Sid Jacobson, and told him what he had in mind: the 9/11 Commission Report was in the public domain; why not adapt it as a graphic nonfiction novel? “Holy shit!” Jacobson shouted into the phone."

Ernie is one of the nicest guys in comics. So glad he's getting his due!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Penguin Blog: Covering Bond

The Penguin Blog: Covering Bond: All of Fleming's 007 novels have been repackaged as hardcovers--see 'em here!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A little goofy video

We have a weakness for elaborately choreographed, “How’d they do that?” music videos, and luckily for us, director Dougal Wilson (who previously directed this VSL favorite) seems determined to continually one-up himself in producing such pieces. In his video for the song “Happiness” (off the British band Goldfrapp’s nice new album Seventh Tree), Wilson’s camera follows an unbelievably spry young man in a white suit hopping through a bustling London neighborhood, waving happily to his neighbors, his hair perfectly styled and his clothes unruffled. His cheery bouncing fits the song’s beat perfectly but also provides a sly counterpoint to the mystified, slightly melancholic lyrics.

Wilson gives a wink to his previous work with the return of boys riding stunt bikes, and his introduction of a gang of kids on bouncing balls is clever — but if you want to see a truly inspired piece of casting, watch for the hopping dog.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Walker, College Team on 'Twilight Zone' Graphic Novels- PW

Walker, College Team on 'Twilight Zone' Graphic Novels - 5/5/2008 - Publishers Weekly: "Walker & Co. has teamed with the Savannah College of Art & Design and the estate of famed TV writer Rod Serling to produce a series of graphic novels based on the original scripts for the classic TV show The Twilight Zone. The venture was initiated by SCAD's Industry Partnerships program directly with the Serling estate; SCAD faculty and students will produce the books and Walker Books for Young Readers will publish and distribute. The venture calls for eight graphic novels (two each season, beginning in October), with an option for four more titles. The deal coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone, which will be celebrated in 2009."

Monday, May 05, 2008

Stan Lee Is a Ladies' Man in Iron Man Cameo

Stan Lee Is a Ladies' Man in Iron Man Cameo: "Whether Iron Man lives up to the standard set by movies like Spider-Man or flounders like an armor-clad Daredevil, the flick boasts a hidden gem for comics fans. Like most movies based on Marvel characters, it will feature a cameo by comic book legend Stan Lee.
Lee, along with artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created many of the Marvel superheroes soaring across movie screens, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Incredible Hulk. talked with Lee about making his beloved cameos, competing with William Shatner and popping up with a bevy of blondes in Iron Man."

'The King' of comic book artists -

'The King' of comic book artists -

Pop Culture Safari: Marvel plans Iron Man 2 and more

Pop Culture Safari: "'Iron Man' is a box office success and Marvel Comics has already announced a sequel, along with other big screen adaptations:

Marvel plans to launch its 2010 film slate with the release of the sequel, Iron Man 2, on April 30, 2010, followed by the launch of Thor on June 4, 2010. Additionally, Marvel is planting its feature film stakes for summer 2011 with an Avengers-themed summer – a two-picture project which will debut on May 6, 2011 with The First Avenger: Captain America (working title), followed by The Avengers in July 2011."

Publisher Tested the Waters Online, Then Dove In - New York Times

Publisher Tested the Waters Online, Then Dove In - New York Times: "The journey beyond print is uncertain and perilous, but the experience of I.D.G., the world’s largest publisher of technology newspapers and magazines, suggests that it can be done. A privately held company, whose magazines include Computerworld, InfoWorld, PC World, Macworld and CIO, it appears to have made a profitable migration to the Internet, with revenue from online ads now surpassing print revenue.

Advertisers and readers of high-tech publications have moved online more swiftly than other audiences, so I.D.G. may offer a glimpse of the future of publishing. Yet the transition at I.D.G. came only after years of investment, upheaval and changes in its practice of journalism."

‘Iron Man’ Is Impressive at the Box Office in Its Opening Weekend - New York Times

‘Iron Man’ Is Impressive at the Box Office in Its Opening Weekend - New York Times: "“Iron Man” blasted into the box office stratosphere over the weekend, selling an estimated $100.8 million in tickets at North American theaters and almost certainly establishing a new movie franchise for Marvel Entertainment.

“The word of mouth through the weekend was tremendous,” said David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios, the New York entertainment company’s newly created film production unit. “I can’t think of a better start.”

Including international sales “Iron Man” grossed an estimated $201 million, according to Paramount Pictures, which distributed the $135 million film. The totals were slightly short of first-weekend sales for “Spider-Man,” the 2002 blockbuster that holds the record for the top nonsequel superhero movie opening."

In Poll, Obama Survives Furor, but Fall Is the Test - New York Times

In Poll, Obama Survives Furor, but Fall Is the Test - New York Times: "A majority of American voters say that the furor over the relationship between Senator Barack Obama and his former pastor has not affected their opinion of Mr. Obama, but a substantial number say that it could influence voters this fall should he be the Democratic presidential nominee, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

At the same time, an overwhelming majority of voters said candidates calling for the suspension of the federal gasoline tax this summer were acting to help themselves politically, rather than to help ordinary Americans. Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, has made the suspension of the gas tax a centerpiece of her campaign in recent days."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Explore the Spirit: the Nuts, Bolts and Metanoia of "Iron Man"

Explore the Spirit: 159: Please Help Us Explore the Spiritual Nuts, Bolts and Metanoia of "Iron Man": "'If people are looking for spiritual themes in the story of Tony Stark becoming 'Iron Man,' they'll especially want to think about metanoia. The Greek is often translated as repentance, but it's really the whole idea of changing who we are and turning toward something else. Iron Man is one of the best examples in the whole superhero genre of a certain kind of person -- who then decides that he doesn't want to be that kind of person anymore.
'Instead of living his life as a philandering playboy, Tony Stark turns into someone who may still pretend to be a philandering playboy -- but he recognizes that this isn't the person he's supposed to be in life. And he turns himself into a heroic figure who really wants to do something to help the world.'
That's one of the movie-going tips today from Greg Garrett, a leading expert on faith and film and superheroes."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

CAA lands Will Eisner estate - Variety

CAA lands Will Eisner estate - Entertainment News, Exclusives, Media - Variety: "Creative Artists Agency has landed the estate of comicbook creator Will Eisner as a client.
Idea is to take Eisner's library of titles and package them as movies, TV shows and other media properties.

Interest in Eisner's work has been heating up in Hollywood.

'The Spirit' is currently being adapted at Lionsgate and Odd Lot Entertainment, with comicbook vet Frank Miller writing and helming the stylistic actioner that's set to bow early next year."

UCC Head notes despair, anger, sadness over Wright affair

Just received via email: a letter from Dr. John Thomas, head of the United Church of Christ, discussed the recent events involving Dr. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity UCC:

Our broad range of emotions

It is understandable that members of the United Church of Christ have been wrestling with the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. with the same broad set of emotions and frustrations that have been expressed nationwide in recent days and weeks.

What we've heard from many of you is concern for our denomination and the well-being of our local churches. For this I am grateful. There is also dismay and outrage that the United Church of Christ is being painted in broad, caricatured strokes that diminish and ignore the reality of our members' many viewpoints and our churches' diverse histories and perspectives.

While there is high regard for Rev. Wright's ministry and leadership at Trinity UCC in Chicago during the past thirty-six years, and for his prophetic, scriptural preaching, many of us today are troubled by some of his controversial comments and the substance and manner in which they have been communicated, both by him and as characterized by the media.

Following Rev. Wright's insightful interview with Bill Moyers on Friday, many in the UCC hopefully anticipated that the prophetic voice of the church would be more clearly understood by the public and affirmed. But, unfortunately, following widespread critique of his handling of questions and answers at the National Press Club, that deep hope has turned now to unsettling despair for many. There is a collective and abiding sadness and anger in the present moment, regardless of theological or political persuasion.

The World's Most Influential People - The TIME 100 - TIME

The World's Most Influential People - The TIME 100 - TIME: "Our fifth annual list of the world's most influential people: leaders, thinkers, heroes, artists, scientists and more..."

How Will It Play in Apex? - Gail Collins in New York Times

How Will It Play in Apex? - Gail Collins in New York Times: "We’re down to a race between the candidate who claims he will make the political process better but has yet to demonstrate exactly how that works, and the woman who claims she’s the only one who’s powerful enough to take on the Republican forces of darkness. Don Quixote vs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both accompanied by their lieutenants — the men who think it’s all about them."