Friday, August 04, 2006
I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit it. I know I have that reek of fanboy geek already when it comes to movies and TV based on comic books, then there's the devotion to the horror genre.
Despite the goofiness of the admission - here it is as simple as I can put it. I am really enjoying the super-silliness of the "Who Wants To Be A Superhero" show on the Sci-Fi Channel from Stan Lee's production company, Pow! Last week, I admitted the fun to be had in hearing Stan Lee say things like "Well done, Monkey Woman."
I tuned in Thursday for the second episode and blast it all if Monkey Woman didn't wow Stan and me with her refusal to allow to attack dogs to stop her from crossing some backyard and reaching the back door as part of the evening's competition. Wearing one of those protective suits dog trainers wear, the critters hauled her to the ground in seconds flat. But for the next ten minutes - yes, T-E-N, ten minutes - she clawed, crawled, inched and scooted her way to complete the goal. Most of the other wannabe superhero types either made it across in a minute's time or caved in to the dog attacks in mere seconds.
That li'l Monkey Woman fought so hard I got exhausted watching it.
Now that's not enough, however, to keep me as a viewer for the show. But at the very end, Stan the Man threw in a new element which excited my childish heart. The brutish "Iron Enforcer", whose B.O. was a topic of discussion among other contestants, and who had already said he wanted to be a superhero 'cause he wanted to kill, kill, kill finally got the boot off the show. But not really.
As the show ended, Stan appeared via a hidden TV screen and said, "Hey! How about you join me in a new plan! Let's make you a super-villain to challenge the other contestants!" Makeover experts zipped him into a waiting van and he emerges in a mean looking costume and is dubbed by Stan as "The Dark Enforcer!"
So yeah, I'll tune in for the next episode. And yeah, I am a total doofus.
(Oh and by the way - Heath Ledger is going to play The Joker?? Holy BrokeBatman!)
Two movies opening today are getting rave reviews, especially the thriller "The Descent," the newest film from the maker of the cult favorite "Dog Soldiers." That movie was a nifty revision of the werewolf myth as a squad of commandos encounter the hairy monsters in the Scottish Highlands. And overall, it was quite scary and a much better than expected movie. Both "Descent", or Tough Chicks In A Cave, and Will Ferrell's "Talladega Nights" are getting high marks all around.
Since I've already invoked that Fanboy Presence, the true believers of the universe created by Joss Whedon in the TV series "Firefly" and the excellent movie follow-up "Serenity" should be eager to view a documentary on just how powerful the fan-force was in getting that movie made.
"Done The Impossible" is that documentary and is now out on DVD and snippets are available online.
Maybe sooner than later, the Suits will greenlight a sequel to "Serenity."
If John Williams can provide the theme music for NBC's Nightly News, then I suppose CBS had no choice but to seek the composer James Horner to craft a new tune for the arrival of Katie Couric for her evening newscast. Oh, the drama! The starpower! And maybe even some time for news reporting too!
The link to the story above also reveals that US soldiers in Iraq are making use of YouTube to share the daily events in Iraq. Definitely worth a look.
UPDATE: I just noticed that a movie called "Kibakichi" is on ShowtimeExtreme tonight. The IMDB page for the movie says things like "werewolf samurai in a village of monsters who feed on human flesh". Wow. That sounds really, really awful so I read a little more about it. One reviewer on the IMDB says: "What is important is the dubbed version. Its simply beautiful. Lip sinked by a blind man, scripted by an inbred and performed, by the sound of it, by a motley band of monkeys, castratoes and men who have had all trace of emotion removed from them."
As I've said before, it will be an all uphill battle to win over the Congressional seat from the Republican party, which has held the seat since somewhere near the time of Noah.
Computer woes delayed voting results in this county until around 1 a.m. and apparently there were computer woes statewide as well. Was it adjusting to a new system and a very very long ballot?
Several Hamblen County races were very close too, adding to the overall nervousness - Commissioner Bobby Reinhardt (D) was unseated by challenger Reece Sexton by two votes, 158 to 160, incumbent Edwin Osborne (D) lost to Paul LeBel (R) 224 to 242. LeBel is also business partner to the Morristown city Mayor, Gary Johnson.
The contentious battle in the GOP Primary for US Senate was decided by East TN voters, with Chattanoogan Bob Corker taking the win.
As soon as I can verify the voter turnout totals for the county, I'll add that info here.
UPDATE: Trent's official website is here, with views offered on a variety of issues.
UPDATE II: Hamblen election officials estimate turnout for Thursday's primary was about 30-32 percent of registered voters. And a fine example of each vote being important - one commission seat was decided by only two votes!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
An example provided is for Joyce Dewitt from "Three's Company" inserted in the description for the Wandering Albatross. Here's a taste of Rex-revisionism:
"She feeds on squid, small fish and on animal refuse that floats on the sea, eating to such excess at times that she is unable to fly and rests helplessly on the water.
She lays one egg: it is white, with a few spots, and is about 4 inches long. At breeding time she occupies loose colonies on isolated island groups in the Southern Ocean, such as Crozet Islands, South Georgia, Marion Island, Prince Edward Island, Kerguelen and Macquarie Island."
If you want, you can WikiRead the albatross entry here. And remember -- Vote Rex as Write-In Candidate for Senator!!!!
Like many TV viewers, the advertisement screaming at you "Head On!!! Apply Directly to you forehead!!" is nearly inescapable and may well incur migraines. On the post and comments here from KnoxViews, I learned the chief ingredient of this never-explained item is ... wax.
Thanks to Tits McGee, who showed me the way, a site called Mad Vortex takes pics and old advertisements and provides captions that are deeply, satisfyingly entertaining. In one picture of some darling child standing by a large kitchen sink, the caption reads: "As Ginny Rae dumped the arsenic into the village water supply, she suppressed a tiny giggle." Ah, that Ginny!!
Isn't it time YOU were in command and made the Pipe Cleaner Man dance to your tune?
Have you ever seen that ever-changing signboard in Times Square, first installed in 1989, which shows the dollar amount of the national debt? It will run out of digits in 2007. This and other fun facts here.
"In the Wednesday letter, Crumley wrote that he will get a raise for staying in Morristown and that he wanted to help bring stability and improvements to Morristown, which before he came in 2001 had four city administrators in five years. It is about 60 miles southwest of Kingsport.
"One of the lessons I learned in Johnson City was that continuity of leadership is critical to achieving long-term goals," Crumley wrote.
"Having the opportunity to create ideas, implement the ideas and then make adjustments to correct any flaws is one of the keys to progress as a community. In order for real effort and real results to be recognized, the opportunity to stay in one city and attempt to reach higher is extremely appealing."
Crumley was to have undergone a public interview session with the BMA on Aug. 7. Phillips had planned to bring Crumley's nomination for city manager to a BMA vote Aug. 15.
"The Morristown City Council has been active in attempting to retain my services here as city administrator," Crumley wrote. "Yesterday evening (Tuesday), the mayor indicated that City Council had discussed and verbally approved a very generous restructuring of my employment contract. They have instructed the city attorney to meet with me and complete details in this agreement."
Kingsport officials say they'll have to go back to square one now in their search.
The Kinsport newspaper also reports that as all 24 county commissioners are up for election today, not all seem to be in the loop regarding a salary study the commission contracted - although the newspaper was able to obtain a copy.
Commissioner Wayne McConnell and others had to get their copies from the newspaper:
"McConnell said he was told the consultant who conducted the study, and who gave a presentation to the Budget Committee in a called meeting Tuesday, did not leave a copy on file anywhere in the courthouse.
Commissioners asked if they could borrow the copy given to the Times-News on Tuesday.
McConnell and others said the limited release of the information and its discussion by the Budget Committee has cut department heads and other elected officials out of the process.
"It's been handled very, extremely wrong," said Commissioner Mark Vance.
Vance said he'd seen a copy of what was given out at the Budget Committee, and "there's a lot of problems with it."
McConnell linked what happened with the salary study results to a broader problem within county government.
"You've got about three or four commissioners who know what's going on - and everybody else is in the dark," McConnell said. "This is a 24-member (commission). It's not an eight-member (commission) for just the Budget Committee. And my personal opinion is ... this is one thing that should have been presented to all the commissioners. If they were at Budget Committee last night, they should have been here tonight to explain this to us and to pass out something for us to look at."
So I just did.
The day I started I posted several stories, including one from a Pew Research study which stated that in their reckoning, 15,000 new blogs a day were being created - one about every 5.8 seconds. And that's about how long it seems to me the year has lasted - about 5.8 seconds.
Some 40,000 page views have occurred so far. The one post which means the most to me over the last year was a copy of a speech my sister-in-law made to freshman students at Berry College and what happened after it was posted. She spoke about her mother's cousin, Gisele, who had literally disappeared from the face of the earth when Nazis forced her aboard a train destined for concentration camp. At a commenter's suggestion, yet another checking of holocaust records was undertaken to see if any information had ever materialized. The family had checked many, many times before. But when another check was made that day - a record was found and a sad and unknown fate at least became known.
That post is here, and it's worth reading if you missed it - not for my words, but for Katherine's, and her wisdom about stories and how they are told, how they are complex and how they can also be simple.
I also realized today that August 3rd is the birthdate of a man whose name is well known - John Scopes, a teacher put on trial for teaching evolution theory in Tennessee. John had agreed to be a sort of guinea pig for the ACLU, which promised to finance a court challenge to the law banning teaching evolution. Scopes was convicted and fined, but the state Supreme Court later overturned the conviction though they said the Butler Act was constitutional. Oddly, at the time of these events, the state mandated all schools use a textbook - Civic Biology - which included a chapter on evolution.
The Butler Act, presented to the legislature by John Washington Butler, remained in effect in Tennessee until 1967. The occasionally dubious WikiPedia site offers this info on the Butler Act:
"Reportedly dismayed the legislature had passed the bill, but needing the support of rural legislators for educational reform, Governor Austin Peay signed the Butler Act into law on March 21, 1925. Peay told the press: "After a careful examination, I can find nothing of consequence in the books now being taught in our schools with which this bill will interfere in the slightest manner. Therefore, it will not put our teachers in jeopardy. Probably the law will never be applied." A Tennessee lawyer, in an often quoted line, said: "The Legislature did not know it passed the fool thing." However it was several weeks before a single educator could be induced to express an opinion on the subject, and the head of the zoology department at the University of Tennessee refused to show his zoology textbooks to reporters. The University's president secretly issued unofficial instructions to his faculty to make no changes in their instruction."
" ... on appeal the Tennessee Supreme Court found the law to be constitutional under the Constitution of Tennessee, because:
- "We are not able to see how the prohibition of teaching the theory that man has descended from a lower order of animals gives preference to any religious establishment or mode of worship. So far as we know, there is no religious establishment or organized body that has in its creed or confession of faith any article denying or affirming such a theory." Scopes v. State 289 S.W. 363, 367 (Tenn. 1927).
Despite this decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the conviction on a technicality (that the jury should have fixed the amount of the fine), and the case was not retried. During the trial, Butler told reporters: "I never had any idea my bill would make a fuss. I just thought it would become a law, and that everybody would abide by it and that we wouldn't hear any more of evolution in Tennessee."
The law remained on the books until 1967, when a dismissed teacher complained that it violated his First Amendment right to free speech. Fearing another courtroom fiasco, the Tennessee legislature repealed the law."So Happy Birthday to John Scopes.
And Happy B-Day fer the Cup of Joe.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The reporter (if indeed that's the actual job the person had) has got to be pretty damn lazy. I doubt that internet search engines don't exist in Illinois.
What's more, the post this person mentioned which I wrote in June also had a link to my source of information.
So -- this nagging and uncomfortable sensation has lingered with me much of the day. I know my views of politics are not typical of this small rural section of Tennessee. And judging by what I read and hear from across the country, my views are not typical either - otherwise our shared political landscape would be radically different.
Let me offer a short excerpt from the short email I received:
Some conservative friends of mind are always complaining about their tax dollars going to "liberal" PBS. I was reading your blog where you were talking about only 15-percent of PBS' funding comes from tax dollars--about $1 per person. Does that mean each year each person in the U.S. pays $1 to pay for PBS?"
In a slightly related event, yesterday (well, today really, around 1:30 am) some foul-mouthed ignorant hateful shmuck left a comment on my post yesterday about Sen. Frist that was pure obscenity incarnate. Once I saw it I deleted it.
I dunno - I guess fourth grade was tough for a lot of people and they've never recovered.
On the other hand, I have been in contact with some reporters from outside the state who have been working on a variety of stories, including the issue of illegal immigrants and how it has impacted this part of the state. In that case, I found the reporter to be very well informed, had visited here more than once and had conducted many interviews.
So some journalists dig and search, some don't. I'm glad anyone can find either useful or perhaps entertaining writing here. Kinda why I started. After all, everyone is entitled to my opinion.
And that leads me to a milestone for this Cup o' Joe. August 3rd 2005 was the first day of this blog so I am most happy to be here one year later. Yay me.
I'll have more about that anniversary tomorrow.
And really, I don't mind one bit if folks have questions about something I say here. Once or twice even I've been wrong on some things, and I do make corrections. I guess with the odd email today I am just reminded of the old saying - "There are no stupid questions. But there are stupid people."
"Is it hot enough for ya?"
"I am soooo excited by this election year!"
"Ann Coulter turns me on."
"I don't get much spam in my e-mail anymore."
"I sure miss Star Jones on 'The View'".
"I hate to think the kids will be back in school soon."
"I'm so glad you applied for this job Joe. You're hired!"
Some things I have heard this summer:
"Star Wars" theme on a banjo. Yep. Banjo. Doubt it? Then just watch --
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Details of the newest discovery, dismissed as "inadvertent error" by staffers, are here at the KNS. I truly can't count the number of times he has pled utter ignorance of his finances, his misreporting campaign donations and ensuing fines, what stock he owns or has sold in his family's company, his medical diagnosis of Teri Schaivo, and on and on. It's like that old joke from Schultz on "Hogan's Heroes" -- "I know nothing!"
None of this has stopped his campaign to be the president. This weekend in Iowa, where he's been spending more time than in his own district, he wows the faithful by saying things like "Meaningful solutions to people's everyday problems" is what he can offer".
And over at KnoxViews today, Brian notes:
"Senator Frist, speaking on the Senate floor:
"I’d be hard-pressed to say we’re not addressing the issues that mean something to the average hard-working taxpayer out there today."
Yes indeed. Flag burning, gay marriage, English language resolutions: these issues are front and center at every blue-collar dinner table."
I suppose we should be thankful he is keeping one promise he made - to only clutter up the Senate with his presence for two terms. And ya know, I heard he knew someone who had a friend once who wasn't a millionaire! A man of the people!!
The report also raises concerns about audit reports during Crumley's tenure in Johnson City:
"KINGSPORT - Jim Crumley - Morristown city administrator and former Johnson City assistant city manager - is the candidate being considered for Kingsport's top job.
Mayor Dennis Phillips revealed Crumley's identity during a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session Monday afternoon.
Crumley has served as city administrator of Morristown since February 2001. Previously, he worked for the city of Johnson City for nearly 17 years, ending his tenure there as assistant city manager under then-City Manager John Campbell.
Reached by phone on Monday, Crumley said he was flattered to be considered for the Kingsport city manager position.
"Kingsport has been an outstanding community - not only for city managers, but for all of East Tennessee for a long time," Crumley said. "The opportunity to work and serve with the group of people leading the city is really great."
Kingsport has been without a city manager since the resignation of A. Ray Griffin Jr. in January. Since then, City Attorney Mike Billingsley has been serving as interim.
Soon after Griffin's resignation, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service began recruiting potential candidates for the BMA to consider. Campbell, who is now NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership director, also helped in the search.
The process was selected to keep potential candidates' identities confidential so as to not cause problems with their current jobs.
BMA members have met with two candidates and last week - following complaints from some city leaders about the search process - agreed to hold a public interview session with Crumley on Aug. 7. Phillips said he intends to bring Crumley's nomination for city manager to the BMA for a vote on Aug. 14.
Pat Hardy, with MTAS, said he thinks Crumley is a great match for Kingsport.
"We talked to a bunch of people and sent the tentacles out as far as we could to get people who are interested," Hardy said. "I think we've found somebody in Jim whose personality seems to click with Kingsport. He's a personable person, very up front and honest - a really good match for Kingsport."
Phillips made it clear Monday afternoon he supports Crumley for the city manager position.
"He is a successful city administrator in Morristown. They seem to be doing very well in economic development. He has worked under John Campbell, who is by most people's account one of the better city managers who has been in this area," Phillips said. "He is highly recommended by MTAS, and both Pat Hardy and John Campbell feel that this is the strongest candidate that we could probably get at this time without paying an enormous amount of money."
However, some members of the BMA have concerns about Crumley and his time working in Johnson City.
BMA members will review the last three financial audits of Morristown and the last two audits of Johnson City when Crumley served as assistant city manager.
The two audits from Johnson City are the 1999-2000 one, which contained more than 50 findings, and the 2000-2001 audit, which contained 30 findings - all holdovers from the previous year. Johnson City's finance department also failed in 2001 to receive the Certificate of Achievement from the Government Finance Officers Association in almost a decade.
"The two audits from Johnson City raise many, many concerns for him," Alderman Ken Marsh said. "I have many questions on the first two, and when I see the other three, I may or may not have other questions. These first two make me wonder about some of the financial recommendations I hear from other people.
"Some of (the information in the first two audits) is not particularly reinforcing."
Phillips said he has met with the accountants who conducted the Johnson City audits and says there was no criminal-type activity reported.
"There are disagreements about how the auditors feel like things should be done and how things were done. You have to look ... was anything done without the knowledge of the entire council," Phillips said. "Keep in mind, Jim wasn't the comptroller. There was people working under him. We're not hiring him to be the finance director for the city of Kingsport. We're hiring him to be the city manager for Kingsport, which involves what he's been doing successfully in Morristown."
Vice Mayor Larry Munsey, who had a second interview with Crumley last week, said he intends to wait until the Aug. 7 public interview to pose his questions and concerns.
"Now is not the right time to do that," Munsey said during Monday's meeting.
"If there's something you want to say, the appropriate time to say it is in this meeting and not in a parking lot or amongst your friends," Phillips said to all BMA members. "If something needs to be said, I would appreciate it said in a BMA meeting or work session."
"That's not a nice thing to say," Munsey said. "If anybody's doing things in a parking lot ... if you want to have this right now I'm prepared to do it."
Munsey has taken issue with the search process, saying there had been no public discussion by the BMA.
"I would very much prefer to look at Alderman Marsh in face, Alderman (Pat) Shull in the face and Alderman (Ken) Maness in the face whenever we have those discussions," Munsey said. "I'd prefer to see these people when we talk about it."
"Many fight-club brawlers are suburban high school kids, not gang members or juvenile criminals."
Charges have been filed against the teen distributor of an underground movie called Agg Townz Fights 2, a DVD complete with a rap soundtrack as background to a variety of teen fighters.
"I just used my business-savvy mind," says Jackson, who's seen break dancing and flashing a wad of cash in the videos.
His Dallas-based attorney, Ray Jackson (no relation), calls the organized crime charge "ludicrous" and predicts his filmmaking client will become another Spike Lee. The lawyer adds that although the Agg Townz series has become a "cult classic," his client has not made money from it. Most DVDs in circulation are bootlegs from which his client did not get a cut of the proceeds, Ray Jackson says.
"This was low-end equipment and high-end talent," the lawyer says. "That's why it sold."
I guess I always thought the Andy Warhol quote of "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" to be a sardonic critique of American behavior rather than a goal to be pursued.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Investigators wanted to know if he had been active in community theatre.
Is the new policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Be In a Play"?
"I knew the policy going in," Copas said in an interview on the campus of East Tennessee State University, where he is pursuing a master's degree in counseling and working as a student adviser. "I knew it was going to be difficult."
An eight-month Army investigation culminated in Copas' honorable discharge on Jan. 30 - less than four years after he enlisted, he said, out of a post-Sept. 11 sense of duty to his country."
"On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively.
But Copas declined to answer when they asked, "Have you ever engaged in homosexual activity or conduct?" He refused to answer 19 of 47 questions before he asked for a lawyer and the interrogation stopped.
Copas said he accepted the honorable discharge to end the ordeal, to avoid lying about his sexuality and risking a perjury charge, and to keep friends from being targeted."
In a rural community like the one I call home, news is controlled by a single agency and woe to those who attempt to provide more information or different views. The less the people know, the better for that agency. Events which go unreported are soon dismissed as "mindless gossip", and the public's right to know becomes a minor matter.
In general, small town media has little interest in community debate and more interest in filling columns with wire reports from across the nation. Hopefully, those days are fading fast.
I think it's obvious the ever-growing blogging community has taken the reins, presenting not just news and information, but accounts of personal experiences. And plenty of editorializing on events local and global. I'm happy to be a part of this new enterprise.
Now cable news is moving past the frequent "what are the bloggers saying" segments to offering anyone with the tech equipment and internet access a chance to add their own reports.
On Tuesday, CNN will announce the creation of a "citizen journalism" division.
"What we're doing with the Exchange, and I-Reports in particular, is creating a single vehicle, a simple branded environment in which people are going to be able to more consistently and easily participate in the news," says Mitch Gelman, senior VP/executive producer for CNN.com.
With its streamlined uploading function, CNN Exchange represents a more ambitious commitment to citizen journalism than has existed to date. Although broadcast news divisions and cable news networks have dabbled in incorporating viewer video into newscasts for the past year, none have as sophisticated a Website."
Thanks to a more widespread access to the online world, I've seen a true change taking place - more people are writing and reading and sharing their life experiences. And already, many news organizations have opened up to the blog writers with eager acceptance (like WKRN-TV blogs and No Silence Here at the KNS.
An online writer needs no corporate endorsement to achieve their goals - but corporations are starting to need those writers more and more.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Today's edition, however, had a feature on a pastor who has been assertively sermonizing on the dangers of aligning religious goals with political ones. I tend to agree. My late father, a Baptist minister, often sent personal letters to elected officials at the local, state and national levels, but I can't really recall him ever taking those concerns overtly to a congregation. He would often gather with local residents in a coffeee shop or restaurant and offer his political thoughts there, but, as I said, I just don't recall him blending political and religious sermons.
And in the NYTimes article today, I am not surprised the writer had to travel a ways to focus on the actions of a Minnesota minister. Here in Tennessee, it seems that politics and religion are often joined.
Anyway, Pastor Gary Boyd, who is often criticized for his sermons, is quoted as saying:
"In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.
“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.
“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”
The full article is here (reg. required).