Friday, March 09, 2007

Bling Water From Tennessee

The hip-hop culture can now satisfy their thirst with a tasty blast of water from Dandridge, Tennessee. Once the water is placed in a frosted glass bottle and given some other sparkly additions, the Dandridge spring water turns to Bling Water and sells for between 24 and 40 dollars a bottle.

More here and here.

And oh yes, I too wish I'd thought of it first.

Camera Obscura - Miller's '300'; 'Heroes'; 'The Host'

Technical prowess may be the real star in the movie version of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's "300" opening today in theatres (which I told you in December would be the hot ticket when released). Varley, once wife of Miller, added to Miller's art and design of "300", with great colors and moods.

Imaginative, rough, beautiful - the duo of Miller and Varley jammed together all types of comic art and design in their works and bringing all that to screen takes another type of technical inventiveness, which director Zack Snyder achieved by combining the latest CGI/blue screen effects and good old fashioned 35mm film tech.

In a dazzling battle sequence, heavily influenced by Snyder and (cinematographer Larry) Fong's work in commercials, the two used a camera technique known as a "lens morph" or a "nested zoom." Basically, three Arriflex cameras were mounted with a wide, a medium and a macro lens that ran at 150 frames per second. When cut together, the action shot moves blazingly fast, in an extreme change of perspective that isn't created purely by either cutting or zooming. "Using two techniques at once is all part of the weirdness," Fong said.

High adrenaline visuals were then underscored by a bold soundtrack.

When you watch this movie, it should be loud. It should hurt your ears, Snyder said."

More on the audio-visual assault is here from the L.A. Times. Fanboys have been awaiting this movie with much glee and anticipation, and the film is getting very high praise from comic afficianados in this spoiler-loaded review:

The stylized combat of "300" is, as far as I've seen, unparalleled in American filmmaking, and that includes "The Matrix," "The Lord of the Rings," and everything else. In fact, "Rings" devotees may wish to avoid "300," because after seeing Frank Miller's widescreen illustrations come to life and start moving, leaping, hacking, gouging, tearing and bleeding all over their neighborhood IMAX, the Tolkien trilogy will be reduced to little more than the very long story of a schizophrenic Muppet and his curiously affectionate companions. And I love those movies!"

Some fine behind-the-scenes producton blogs about the making of this blood-soaked hyper-epic can be found here.

In the midst of the sculpted abs and ballet of male violence an actress appears as a near-goddess, playing the role of Leonidas' wife Queen Gorgo. Her career has often been lost amid the myths and fantasies of the films she appears in: Lena Headey.

Headey can be seen in another male fantasy, "Twice Upon a Yesterday" (the USA title of the also clumsy title of "The Man With Rain In His Shoes"), which is worth seeking out. A time travel story without gigantic effects or dinosaurs, but relying instead on the ever-changeable human nature for its dramatic core. Other movies with Headey include "The Brothers Grimm," "The Cave", "Ripley's Game," and "Imagine Me & You".

One more thought on "300" -- pre-production plans are underway to bring another of Miller and Varley's cult comics to life, this time "Ronin," which is set in a bizarre nano-bio-tech future which is invaded by a centuries old samaurai battle.

In limited release today (and headed to DVD later this month) is the Korean creature-feature "The Host." The movie has been compared to "Jaws" and my advice is, if you get a chance to see it on the big screen - do so. Often comic and absurd, the movie still manages to scare the bejesus out of audiences.


The hit NBC show "Heroes", which exists both on-screen and in comic books, has had a nice batch of episodes helmed by director Allan Arkush, who also has earned executive producer status on the show.

Arkush, who took Martin Scorsese's film classes in college went on to work for the Roger Corman machine and gave us cult classics like "Rock and Roll High School" and "Get Crazy!".

Arkush has a great touch for comedy, action and drama mixed with comic book/rock and roll madness and his style melds very well with "Heroes". And the show has been very carefully building great stories and characters into a very tense and exciting adventure. Good to see Arkush working again - I may even forgive him for "Caddyshack 2".


While I'm talking comic books, why on earth was there not more of a publicity push for the first-ever onscreen confrontation between Wolverine and Batman?? Huh? Tell me!

Oh sure, they appeared as other people rather than Logan and Bruce Wayne, but it's a terrific match-up between actors Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the vastly underrated "The Prestige". Set in the world of magicians at the end of the 19th century, the movie even boasts David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. It's another great film from director Chris Nolan and should be on your list of movies to watch.

Sevierville Paper Drops Coulter

Times are tough for Conservative icon Ann Coulter -- even newspapers in Tennessee are dropping her after her comments from the Conservative Convention:

However we will not continue to publish the columns of someone who uses people as a punch line to get a cheap laugh and who so freely uses an offensive term to describe another human being.

Other papers nationwide are dropping her. What's unique here is not that these papers are major national outlets, it's that the small town support, from the Conservative base, are dropping her. Mix that with her losses from national sponsors, her tirade continues to make waves. (Thanks to Sande for the tip on the Sevierville news.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Who Really Runs Walter Reed?

The government is not running Walter Reed's medical facilities.

It's run by private contractors -- although the key group, IAP Worldwide Services, is actually headed by two former execs with Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root, and includes board members like former VP Dan Quayle.

There is far more informaton about a long battle to privatize Walter Reed and what the results of that have been here at Tom Paine. A sample of the report:

But this time the privatization game may have backfired in the face of the Bush administration and its friends in the corporate world. It is one thing to screw workers—unfortunately, that’s now considered business as usual—but in the case of Walter Reed the ultimate victims are a much more revered group. The stark evidence that the Bush Administration, for all its rhetoric about supporting the troops, is much more interested in supporting the contractors, could be leading to a political earthquake."

Catfish Dinner Used as Weapon

Has to be one of the funnier headlines I've seen. And this in a year which has already given us headlines about astronauts in love triangles (and diapers) and bald pop singers.

I honestly admit I never even considered that a catfish dinner could be used as a weapon. But that is the claim here:
Hawkins deputies look for heavy woman who attacked Bulls Gap restaurant employee with catfish.

In other crime reports and court reports, I was just thinking that going to jail with a name like "Scooter" Libby would not afford much in the sense of personal safety. And it was a strange defense from Libby anyway, against all the charges against him - that he was a fall guy, would not testify and that he was just so darned busy he could not think straight. From Time:

" ...
the judge said he felt misled, at least about Libby, and he told Libby's lawyers that they were "playing games with the process." To punish them, he ruled that they could not say in closing arguments that the pressure of national security issues prevented Libby from remembering any conversations about Plame. All the lawyers could say was that Libby "had a lot on his plate."

Perhaps Scooter needed to consider a catfish dinner defense - his plate was so full it was inevitable he would forget he stuffed a catfish dinner in his pocket, a dinner which was part of a large menu of deception concerning war in Iraq.

However, I would not be surprised to see "Scooter" using the system to delay going to jail long enough to get a presidential pardon. I'm fairly sure that when or if caught, the "catfish lady" will be in jail far sooner than "Scooter" will.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hypocrisy License

Time for some honesty about the Tennessee Driver's License and how people can apply for one - not just for the next year, but in light of federally mandated changes which aims to transform a state's drivers license into a new national identity card.

First, the current debate in the state's legislature ignores the reality of this new application process - tacking a new requirement specifying English only testing ignores the coming change which requires full documentation and verification of said documents from all residents before a license can be issued. Once these new national IDs are in place, an illegal immigrant simply could not obtain one. So the claim the measure is an aide to immigration reform is just false.

More important is how it can be paid for -- as noted in a Tennessean story Friday, the government has decided to delay the change until 2009 instead of the planned May 2008 timetable. However delays are not the goal of the majority of the states and majority of state and economic leaders nationwide who want the measure repealed.

I've mentioned all the problems with this new ID previously. That report also notes that Senator Alexander voted to install this new ID plan and against providing funding to states to pay for the changes necessary in each state. However, in his comment from the Tennessean story, says:

Alexander blasted Real ID as 'legislation that would require states to turn more than 190 million driver's licenses into de facto national identification cards'."

Then why did the Senator vote in favor of the ID?

He is right though - as was Congressman Duncan, who originally voted against and not for this national ID.

You won't be able to use a bank, or other services, you can't collect Social Security -- In short, the
Real I.D. Act states these identity cards will be required not only if one wants to drive, but also if you wish to visit a federal government building, collect Social Security, access a federal government service, or use the services of a private entity, such as a bank or an airline.

States will be responsible for verifying these documents. That means that, when it comes to birth certificates and other documents, they probably will have to make numerous, onerous confirming calls to state and municipal officials or companies to verify the documents authenticity. (Paperwork can easily be faked.) In addition, they will have to cross-check Social Security numbers, birthdates, and more against federal databases.

Once created, the IDs must include the information that currently appears on state-issued driver's licenses and non-driver ID cards - name, sex, addresses and driver's license or other ID number, and a photo. (Under the Act, that photo must be digital - for it will be inputted into the multi-state database I will discuss below.) But the IDs must also include additional features that drivers' licenses and non-driver ID cards do not currently incorporate.

For instance, the ID must include features designed to thwart counterfeiting and identity theft. Unfortunately, while including such features may sound appealing, on the whole, these IDs may make our identities less safe.

Once Real ID is in effect, all fifty states' DMVs will share their information in a common database - and may also verify information given to them against various federal databases. In addition, it's very possible that such data will be sold to commercial entities: Some states already allow driver's license data to be sold to third parties.

Even with current, unlinked databases, thieves increasingly have turned their attention to DMVs. Once databases are linked, access to the all-state database may turn out to be a bonanza for identity thieves.

Finally, the IDs must include a "common machine-readable technology" that must meet requirements set out by the Department of Homeland Security. And, somewhat ominously, Homeland Security is permitted to add additional requirements--which could include "biometric identifiers" such as our fingerprints or a retinal scan."

Much more on the topic here.

Instead of attempts to stir up immigration anger, the state needs to be honest and address the coming reality of the nation's first ever mandatory ID.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The World Searches For ....

What are just some of the searches made on the internet that brought readers to this page?

Here's a sample of recent topics, complete with bad spelling:

girl dies drinking water hold your wee WII

rednecks having sex on top of a dead bear

household items used for masterbation

Futurama sex

hot girls in Dunlap. TN

cellborg humidity sensor

things to do before sex

cloggers topless

things to annoy girls

fluffy chucklefanny

indy's whip

brittney spears naked with other teens

burger boat

bing croby

Weightless Wasabi

As of now, the International Space Station has banned wasabi. Weightless wasabi has been deemed too dangerous, but I say we must solve of the problems eating sushi in space someday, so stay at it astronauts! (via Boing Boing)