Saturday, November 05, 2005

News You Should Know

A reporter asked a simple question of President Bush and the answer was a telling one - the answer was "empty". Anything important is in someone else's control.

While many supervisors, administrators, or elected officials are all engaged in maintaining the status quo of corruption, private citizens continue to enforce the laws -- a task that also brings cash rewards. Gosh, what if more individuals began to think and act for themselves?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Camera Obscura - Man In Black Approaches

Ah, movies, movies, movies. My little french raison d'etre. I have some recommendations for you and some reviews too, and yes, some are leftover from the Halloween movie festival, some are not. And then, there's Johnny Cash. Shall we get to it then, oh patient ones?

First, I did watch the Showtime Masters of Horror kick-off episode, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" and boy howdy was that a ripping good start. If other episodes, which air weekends on Showtime, are as good or better as this first one, pre-order the DVD set today. "Incident" showed off how fine a director Don Coscarelli can be and the blunt-trauma style of writing Joe Lansdale does so well. If you saw it and liked it, its worth the effort to find his story collections and novels and bring them home. The next episode of Masters of Horror is "Dreams In The Witch House" by director Stuart Gordon and based on the H.P. Lovecraft short story.

Next up, a DVD released this week that's a classic and crammed with true extras. George Pal's 1953 version of "War of the Worlds" has been carefully restored for this new edition, including the original stereo sound. The extras on the DVD include the Orson Welles radio production of 1938 that terrified the east coast, plus Joe Dante hosts a commentary roundtable, and from lead actors Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, and a behind the scenes feature, and another feature with commentary by writer/director Nicholas Meyers. This version has held up very well over the years and looks fantastic on this new edition DVD. In other words, you can check out the Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg homage to parenting or head to more classic landscape with George Pal.

Now I know most people will be searching for the last of the Lucas-made "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" DVD -- however, let me suggest another DVD set that will make it even better. The award-winning animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars Volumes 1-2" by Genndy Tartakovsky is action packed entertainment and takes for its story the "meat" of Lucas' backward stroll through Time. It picks up as Episode 2 ends and takes you right to the opening moments of Episode 3. It really is crucial to the overall story and is exceptionally good.

As for Episode 3, well..... like my sister Claudia said "Thank God this is over," which means she didn't like it. I did stand in line for this finale this summer, I admit it. And I loved the opening battle sequence, the scenes where soon-to-be Darth Vader goes to the Jedi HQ and literally wipes out the future of the Jedis, and that final battle between soon-to-be Darth and Obi-Wan, backed by John Williams' operatic music. That really was satisfying. And yes, I am a geeky fanboy.


I also love the old movies that modern audiences and critics have abandoned. This takes me to this week's favorite actor -- Paul Muni. Let me give you the short and simple here. The actor brought incredible power to the original "Scarface" as a manical killer and could also provide the acting chops to play the compassionate chemist Louis Pasteur in "The Story of Louis Pasteur." It's very hard to believe its the same actor -- and both movies are compelling, sharply made and very entertaining.

"How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man."
Johnny Cash

Ah yes, am I looking forward to seeing the bio-pic of Johnny Cash, "Walk The Line." Personally, I can't imagine how they can possibly do Johnny justice but .....We'lll see. In the meantime, on CMT on Saturday you can catch the impressive "Johnny Cash In San Quentin" concert. Johnny is The Man in this documentary. For real devotees of the Man In Black, see if you can find a copy of "Door-to-Door Killer" from 1961 with Johnny as nutcase killer. I know his music seems to be all over the movies of late, from "Kill Bill Vol 2" to "Starsky and Hutch" to "Dawn of the Dead" and "Jackie Brown."

We miss you Johnny.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

These Blogs Are Made of People!!!

I want to say thanks to a few folk who have been very supportive and helpful as I unsteadily wander out onto the Web and teeter-totter about while trying to sound off about whatever crosses my small but busy mind.

Most recently, Rex L. Camino was good enough to link to my post about horror movies and politics on Nashville Is Talking, where he subbed for a weekend.

The mastheads I have used come from the kindness of The Editor, so go to her page there and urge The Editor to keep on posting since she has been absent somewhat and busy. We all wants to know more from her insights.

Some other artwork which helped launch this site came from Tennessee Jed and TJ has also been a constant and valued supporter. Much thanks go as well to Life Is A Comedy, who has been working on a Triskabiblios deal which I have yet to understand.

It's really amazing where connections get made, and amazing as well the people I've met online and off since I started this just a few short months ago. One such connection was with Juliepatchouli, who is both funny and compassionate and is mighty pretty in person too.

It's also been good to converse back and forth with folks like Mr. Silence, and so thanks to him for his work and hope you feel better soon. In fact, the entire Rocky Top Brigade has been a source of constant information, news, humor and perspectives, not to mention a great gathering place for readers and writers in Tennessee and beyond.

From somewhere out in the Web, the folks at the Stinkhorn Rodeo arrived, and have likewise added links to this Cup. The Rodeo is quite a fun place to go - I love their subtitle which reads "We put the stink in Distinction."

I do encourage you to visit all the links on this page, as all are good reads. I am still building this blog and have far to go. It's good to find so many people who are getting their viewpoints and thoughts out -- I don't have to wait for a reporter or a TV camera. We share information and ideas without a lot of interference and with tremendous freedoms. It scares the bejesus out of publishers and corporate high-hats that we can talk to each other, and yes, I know it takes a lot of corporate tech for all of us to write and publish on the Web. But the opening has been made and people are everywhere.

So thanks for watching these baby steps here and not laughing where I could see it. And keep your cards and letters coming. I has yet begun to write.

TN Firm Overcharges Feds and You for Drugs

Billions of dollars in overcharges for Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and other government agencies are to be repaid by U.S. drug companies, including Bristol, TN-based King Pharmaceuticals, which has settled and agreed to pay back $124 million. And which oversight agency caught this fraud? None. The cases are part of a suit filed under the federal False Claims Act by former King employee Edward Bogart.

The AP story is here, a U.S. Newswire press release is here, and as the Knoxville News-Sentinel notes, this story has major impact on the umpcoming Tennessee legislative committee hearings on campaign finance. The company's founder and former CEO John Gregory has already been taking heat for the millions he has funneled to the state GOP. State Dems have been calling it "dirty money".

The nationwide anti-fraud investigation by the Justice Dept. has brought settlements from King and other companies to just over $3.1 billion. One group happy by the news about King, is Mylan Laboratories, which had made a bid earlier this year to by King. But Mylan has issues to cope with on its own, facing similar complaints from Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Wisconsin, New York and on and on it goes.

Good thing we citizens have the False Claims Act and at least some interest in the Justice Department for the fraud, the theft, the old-fashioned hijacking of tax dollars to benefit big business and the Republican party.

As for Edward Bogart - the man who blew the whistle on King - he stands to earn a percentage of the settlement since he used the False Claims Act with his suit. And there are other legal firms who are focusing on just these types of cases, which you can read for yourself if you search for the phrase "False Claims Act" with your favorite internet search engine.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Accusers Face El Salvadoran Colonel In TN

Colonel Nicholas Carranza, accused of torture and crimes against humanity for his role in the violence that swept thru El Salvador in the late 70s and 80s, has been living untouched and unnoticed for 20 years in Memphis, TN. However, on Monday Carranza was in court, facing charges and facing his accusers.

Questions about the murder and torture and crimes against humanity have been avoided over the last 20-plus years, as have questions about the CIA's claim that Carranza, who became a U.S. citzen in 1991, was a paid informant. The bloody destruction in Latin America in the 70s and 80s and CIA involvement has always been a murky story, no clear information, no desire in Washington to pursue it.

The lawsuit is jointly by the Tennessee-based firm Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC and the Center for Justice and Accountability. Lead counsel David Esquivel, recently named pro bono attorney of the year by the TN Bar Association stated:

Finally these plaintiffs will have an opportunity to tell their stories of survival to the jury. They have waited too long for justice, and I am honored to represent them in this action.

More on the story here, and the TN Independent Media Center is tracking the trial as well.

Given the nature of the crimes - wartime acts and torture - hopefully more reporting on this trial will occur.

Monday, October 31, 2005

New Year Pumpkins

Happy Celtic New Year!! Some history of the holiday is here, via MetaFilter.

Some pumpkin pics for you here, and here, and the North Carolina Pumpkin Wall is back, and a computer in a pumpkin too.

Does anyone know what year this Celtic New Year's is???

And don't forget to check out the pumpkin art from Tennessee Jed. He did a fine homage to the late great Bob Denver.

A Maze of Corruption

After some reading of various views on the crimes the vice-president's long-time associate and chief of staff "Scooter" Libby has been accused of, I thought I'd share the ones that seem most notable. The best of the bunch is here at Once Upon A Time. Albert also includes a full text of Patrick Fitzgerald's comments. The Bush administration appears to be caught in some dirty tricks, and a willingness to compromise national security and also to cover it up.

More info is here.

The war in Iraq and current foreign policies were shaped by Libby, Vice-President Cheney, Donald Rumsfield and a few others -- a hard push toward nation-building that has not been handled well. Corruption in contracts and missing money have been noted more than once in the government's audit reports. And this just days after the U.N. announced some 2,200 companies, including international corporations such as Siemens, Volvo and Daimler Chrysler made illicit payments of $1.8 billion to Saddam Hussein's government under the oil-for-food program.

Fitzgerald has been investigating the case of the breach of national security for 2 years. The U.N. investigation by former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker has taken 18 months. How long until Americans get all the facts on this war?