Saturday, April 21, 2007

Only Alec Baldwin Talks Bad to Kids

Somewhere in a giant underground bajillion-dollar complex, agents and officers of the Federal Department of Secret Taping of All Phone Calls and Emails in America there is an entire division of recordings labeled Bad Parents.

A casual perusal of said recordings shows that every day in every location imaginable a parent says hateful, mean and nasty things to their kids. An Operative in the FDSTAPCEA, who was hired - I mean appointed - by the Office of Proving Actors Are Evil Liberals (OPAAEL) sent one of those highly classified Blue Letters (which denote Emergency News Releases) out this week because they had a tape with Alec Baldwin being mean to his daughter.

Quicker than lightning, the network and cable news broke the story played copies of the tape every fifteen minutes as mandated by the OPAAED Guidelines. A congressional hearing is planned to create a new law that all celebrity children and parents be forced to wear microphones and cameras, part of the No Celebrity Is A Patriot Act. Additional congressional conference reports will recommend that every parent in the country have implants which can supply remote-controlled taser blasts if they don't check a child's homework.

Yeah, that all sounds pretty stupid and paranoid, doesn't it?

Of equal stupidity is the story about Alec Baldwin berating his own child. Of equal stupidity is the unholy mess it has made for Baldwin and his child. Far less reported was the fact that a judge in the custody case between Baldwin and (Oscar winner) Kim Basinger had heard the tape days before and barred Baldwin from having contact with his daughter. If anything, the non-news story here was that Baldwin got slapped with a judicial order based on Baldwin's behavior.

Here's another fact -- parents from every level of society will say something mean and hateful to their children on a regular basis. I hear it in grocery stores and malls and restaurants constantly.

Every flippin' day, people.

Such parental exclamations are usually followed by the parent jerking the child's arm up to the level of the adult's chin and, usually, swinging the child back and forth like a sack of diseased potatoes. Comments like:

"I told you not to touch that! Are you stupid or deaf?"

"As soon as we get back in the car, I'm going to beat you within an inch of your life!"

"I told you to be quiet but you wouldn't listen. Now I'm going to leave you in the street so anyone who wants you can have you!"

"Once we get home, I'm going to see how hard I can really make you cry, you stupid baby!"

"I don't care what you want -- I want a lot of things and never get them because of you, you spoiled monster!"

"I hate you! You're so stupid! I wish you had never been born."

And remember, only Baldwin and Britney Spears are bad parents.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Camera Obscura - My Brother Plays A Zombie

Making a movie about zombies, being in a movie about zombies -- all these things are hard, hard work.

Down in Rome GA (which was featured as a "checkpoint" in the new TV show "Drive", though it looked like it was shot somewhere near Mulholland Drive) filmmakers are working furiously to create a movie slated for release next year called "Dance of the Dead," as I have mentioned previously here on these pages. The story follows your typical high-school prom which gets overrun by hordes of zombies ... the movie web site is being constructed.

Weather and production problems did delay a planned April 13th shoot, but the movie is getting made and that means my brother David did indeed get a moment (and perhaps even more) of cinematic fame as a zombie in the movie.

Like I said, it's not easy making such a movie, nor is being an extra an easy task either.

David sent along an email containing a sort of diary of the day's events and a picture of how he actually got made up to appear in the film. The diary of the day is first and the pic he sent follows:

I finally got in on the shoot last night--placed right behind the stunt zombies in the prom attack scene. Please, Mr. Editor, add another second or two to my fifteen minutes.

8-10 pm -- Lots of wondering if anything was going to happen & listening to the war stories of experienced extras straight out of Waiting for Guffman. One guy, though, had been an extra in Day of the Dead & had a couple of good ones.

10-12 -- 1st AD announces that they don't have enough kids. Could we call someone? I call [my son] Daniel, promising [my wife] CB he will be home by midnight.

He comes & we watch a couple of scenes being shot, then get in the
"clean prom" shoots, dancing wildly & bopping balloons in the air.

12:30 -- CB calls. I say, "Let's finish the take & then call her back."
Once the take is over he goes home (reluctantly).

12:30-2 am -- A couple more takes as a normal guy in the crowd.

2-3 am -- They start zombie-fying us. I'm really tired & pissed that
other guys get cool head appliances while I'm relegated to the "third
tier," with just dark pancake. But I'm there, so I hang out & wait.
Chris the makeup guy comes out with a little sprayer, exactly the same kind I use to spray Roundup, full of blood. Asks for volunteers. I eagerly respond & he lines us up in the parking lot.
I tell him, "Dude, you have to take advantage of my white hair--red on silver, right?" He totally douses me. They hurry us into the gym--I don't have a clue what I look like.
When the set guy is placing us--masks in front, third tier
way in back--he points to me and says "You, mask stand over--Jesus! That's not a mask! Ok, bloody guy! Come with me."

He sticks me right behind the stunt zombies who attack & get nailed in the scene where the prom zombies converge on the two heroes. I'm right behind the bride zombie who makes the first dash at them.

4-6 am -- Long story short, I'm right in the front line of action, &
when the fight turns bad & we all close in on the heroes, I'm the first one to lay a hand on them--in all of the numerous takes! The production photographer snaps my picture.

At last I understand the emotional life of an extra--the unending quest to aggrandize the trivial. This is a movie about a zombie smart enough to hang back until the heroes are too tired & crowded to fight back!
All those Discovery Channel sequences about hyenas pack hunting finally pay off.

More shooting days to come over the next three weeks. Start the
internet buzz!

I like the glasses -- adds that "Hey, I'm just an everyday kinda zombie" look.

The director, Gregg Bishop, has begun taking his first feature to a multitude of festivals and it's getting some rave reviews. It's called "The Other Side," but I gather they are still looking for a distributor.


A longtime favorite and semi-cult classic movie about a computer which threatens the world, "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970) based on a trilogy of books by D.F. Jones is getting a major Hollywood remake under the team of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The reports say the new movie will draw on all three books of Jones' trilogy.

"The Forbin Project" is a minor masterpiece and holds up very well. Trivia buffs note the computer seen at the beginning of the movie was actually the payroll computer in use by the studio at the time (!!!). It starred Eric Braeden, who is best known today for a long running stint on "The Young and The Restless."

And do any of you ever recall seeing a sequel to "Forbin Project"? I know, and I mean I think I know I saw one, but have found zero info about it. Anyone got some info on that? Could be I'm wrong, but the memory I have is rather persistent that I saw one.


Oddest news of the week -- Bono and The Edge of U2 are currently negotiating to write the music for a Broadway musical version of Marvel Comics' Spiderman. Sources say that director Julie Taymor is already signed up to direct.

Speaking of Taymor, she is fighting to have her name taken off the movie she just completed "Across The Universe," which is set in the 1960s and is loaded with Beatles music, and at the same time fighting to regain final cut of the movie. Studio chiefs say her version was just awful so they recut it and added a totally different soundtrack, all without telling Taymor.

Hamblen County OKs Ethics Policy, Committee

Deciding to formally adopt an Ethics Policy for Hamblen County is a major step into the 21st century, especially since state law mandated that all county commissions draft and adopt such a policy. As noted on the noe4accountability blog, the commission, on a motion from Commissioner Nancy Phillips, also took action on a recommended, thought not mandatory additional step - to create a committee to address issues which would fall under that committee's jurisdiction.

The committee would include 2 citizens not in elected office, as approved. In Knox County, for instance, only two of their 9-member ethics committee are county commissioners.

Sadly, 4 commissioners voted against the creation of the policy committee -- Commissioners Doyle Fullington, Scott Lebel, Frank Parker, and Joe Swann.

As Noe notes, " ...
Joe Swann jumped in and proposed that the county adopt an Ethics policy in which there be no Ethics Committee to which complaints could be made. Swann's proposal had the county attorney serving alone as the county's "ethics officer." This proposal failed."

The remaining commissioners are to be saluted for their wise decision.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fowler's Non-Lobbying Lobbying

Former state senator David Fowler is president of two different high-profile lobbying groups, though state law prohibits him from lobbying for one year after leaving office. He denies he's doing any lobbying, though certainly serving as the leader for lobbying corporations, and attending legislative committee sessions.

And the email he recently sent out urging legislators follow his lead on devising regulations of how doctors can or cannot advise patients about RU-486 is, Fowler claims, not lobbying either.

Still, the AP, Volunteer Voters and TGW have reported that Fowler certainly is fully engaged in lobbying efforts. All actions, which Fowler says, aren't really lobbying.

Perhaps he simply feels that the law is meant to apply to others, but not to him and his efforts to lobby lawmakers, residents and all those who already agree with his legislative action "suggestions." And perhaps he is likewise confident none of his friends in the legislature will bother with identifying him as a lawbreaker.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Venture Brothers: The Horrible Truth about Super-Science

The 2nd season of The Venture Brothers arrives on DVD today and if you aren't watching this show, you're missing out. The show which airs on Cartoon Network is a perfect parody of comics and cartoons and the surreal nature of science fiction and superheroes and all the fanboys/girls who have made such entertainment big business. The jokes fly fast so repeated viewings are mandatory and the DVD is a must-have.

The show captures the insanity behind shows like Johnny Quest, where parents think it's okay to take your kids along for a deadly journey deep into the Amazon to battle an army of super soldiers, and examines what the real Scooby Gang might be like. It's a television show for those long addicted to the mirthful mayhem of television itself.

Reason magazine talks with the creator of the show, Jackson Publick, and also sums up some of the basics of this brilliant half hour of television far better than I can:

It flaunts all of the elements of the series on the adult/hipster animated landscape: irony, satire, uncomfortable pauses, outright parody. But as creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer frequently explain, the show is about failure. It's about the vision that inspired the science fiction wave of the 1950s and 1960s, the optimism of the space race, and the baby boomers' beloved, indulged idea that they could achieve anything they wanted.

" ... Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture, the failed boy genius and father of the series' eponymous brothers Hank and Dean, is such a screw-up. As we learn in flashbacks across the series 27 episodes (so far), Venture pere was a Jonny Quest figure himself who solved mysteries under the wing of his brilliant father, his friend Hector, and their bodyguard Swifty. The 1960s were an era of superhero teams, super-science, space stations, and helpful robots. And as Rusty grows up, all of that peters out. He drops out of college (after palling around with two other super-scientists and a Doctor Doom analogue named Baron Underbheit), loses portions of the family business, and enters middle-age trading off his family's successes and reluctantly fathering his two boys. When Venture's lab is broken into by The Monarch, his butterfly-fetishizing archfoe can't find anything worth defiling or smashing. "What can I do to this guy that life hasn't already?" he sulks. "I almost feel sorry for him."

The interview is here.

As Jackson Publick says:
The beauty of failure is the beauty of human beings."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Talkin' About My G-G-G-Generation

At first, I thought, "My God, how old is Roger Daltry?" But this is a video from an upcoming documentary on the elderly, how they live and how they can be treated today.

From the info on the YouTube entry:

The oldest and greatest rock band in the world - meet The Zimmers and their amazing cover of The Who's "My Generation".
Lead singer Alf is 90 - it's quite something when he sings "I hope I die before I get old". And he's not the oldest - there are 99 and 100-year-olds in the band!
The Zimmers will feature in a BBC TV documentary being aired in May 2007. Documentary-maker Tim Samuels has been all over Britain recruiting isolated and lonely old people - those who can't leave their flats or who are stuck in rubbish care homes.
The finale of the show is this group of lonely old people coming together to stick it back to the society that's cast them aside - by forming a rock troupe and trying to storm into the pop charts.
Some massive names from the pop world have thrown their weight behind The Zimmers... The song is produced by Mike Hedges (U2, Dido, Cure), the video shot by Geoff Wonfor (Band Aid, Beatles Anthology), and it was recorded in the legendary Beatles studio 2 at Abbey Road.
Look out for the single being released from May 21

Hat tip to Sande for this one.

Local Accounts of VA Tech Shootings

The shootings at Virgina Tech have rattled everyone, as details continue to emerge in this massive tragedy. In coming days, the grim narrative of the day will become even more vivid as officials investigate and eyewitness accounts are provided.

I did read an account today from Mike Mason at the blog Hillbilly Savants which begins:

There’s been a shooting on campus. You all get the hell out of here! Go home!”

Those were the words of my boss as he broke the news to me and my coworker that a gunman was on the loose at Virginia Tech, a couple of blocks away from our office."

Mason's wife and brother were students at the college, and he got information that a friend was among those wounded. The small town of Blacksburg, VA.

In addition, Hillbilly Savants, which boasts a large number of contributors, has many local, state, national, international and college links with reports and information on the day.

Survey On Political Knowledge

A new survey on what Americans know about politics and politicians shows not much has changed in the last 20 years, despite the rise of the digital age and constant cable news. The survey from the Pew Research Council notes that only 69% of those surveyed could name the vice-president, for example.

There are certainly more ways to get information today, but has it made much difference? The result seems to be a rather loud "No". The graphic at the left, from the survey, indicates people who watch "The Daily Show" and "The Colber Report" know more than most folks.The summary says:

Since the late 1980s, the emergence of 24-hour cable news as a dominant news source and the explosive growth of the internet have led to major changes in the American public's news habits. But a new nationwide survey finds that the coaxial and digital revolutions and attendant changes in news audience behaviors have had little impact on how much Americans know about national and international affairs."

You might like to take their news quiz too -- I scored a rating that said I rated a higher score than 77% of those already rated. Which may mean I have loads of useless knowledge or that I know less about a heap of other things than I do about the political realm in America.

Fiction and Facts on Bill for Cable Franchises

The state continues to consider handing AT&T a sweet deal to bypass local control of cable franchises and has picked up the support of the ever-dubious lobbying of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, which continues to exude hearty support for corporate interests and little support for the average Tennessean.

The Chattanoogan offered the TCPR and their president Drew Johnson the first of three editorials on the cable franchise bill:

By pulling the plug on Tennessee’s outdated system of local cable monopolies and allowing statewide franchises, state lawmakers can allow constituents to tune into a new world of television options. Just as dozens of restaurants mean a variety of food options at competitive prices, video franchise reform would result in cheaper television and video services with more channels and better customer service for millions of Tennesseans."

Johnson's claims are just shy of some basic facts, as noted by Stacey Briggs of the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association:

The “Tennessee Should Tune into a New Era of Cable Competition” article written by Drew Johnson and published on your site, is wildly inaccurate and an extremely misleading piece of information to appear at a time when legislators are debating whether to dismantle the local franchising system as AT&T is proposing.

Mr. Johnson writes that “it’s exactly how the cable industry operates in Tennessee” that there is a law that limits one cable provider in any city. He repeats it, “Only one franchise is given per locale, meaning there is only one choice in cable for residents.” This is simply not true. There are no exclusive cable franchises in Tennessee, and even limited exploration of the industry and local franchise law would have made Mr. Johnson – who works for the Tennessee Center for Policy Research – aware of this. No other published account has stated there is a law prohibiting AT&T’s entry into any city – in fact, the immense amount of testimony in Nashville and the media coverage about it makes it clear AT&T has had the ability the past 11 years to compete.

The fact is, AT&T can compete in any city in Tennessee today. It could go directly this afternoon to see Mayor Claude Ramsey and Mayor Ron Littlefield, file applications and get approvals within 90 days to provide video service to folks in Hamilton County. But that’s not what the company really wants – it has proposed a sweetheart deal that would give the company greater competitive standing than any cable company could ever dream, would diffuse almost every existing consumer protection and allow the company to step over the very laws that protect local public rights of way."

Neil Ritchie of the League of Rural Voters agress the bill is bad business for individuals and for local governments:

For years, telephone lobbyists have promised new high-speed networks for our communities in return for special state legislation and deregulation. Each time their favors are granted, they quickly forget about their promises.

Enough is enough. It’s time to stop the sweetheart deals for the telephone companies, ensure that they play by the rules to which their competitors abide, and live up to their perennially broken promises to serve our communities."

Read all three editorials here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Portents, Signs and Wonders

The death knell for appointed officials seems certain once the President says of the official under criticism "I have full confidence in ___________'s abilities to serve."

Just ask Donald Rumsfeld, Harriet Miers, FEMA's Michael "Heck of a Job, Brownie", Scooter Libby, etc, etc. The phrase has been used most recently regarding AG Alberto Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz. The AG is slowly taking the scaffold stairs for his (mis)handling of US Attorney appointments and Wolfie is taking heat for giving his girlfriend (an Arab feminist) at the World Bank a promotion and a huge raise.


Favorite quote this weekend:

They need volunteers to feed the homosexuals at the internment camps."

via Slartibarfast at NiT.


The shadow of Don Imus' firing over comments he made is looming large over others in radio and television who've had long, corporate careers bashing one group after another. Or will the Outrage just fade as it gets torn to tatters in soundbites and the endless talking bobbleheads of television who'll worry and moan over what it all means for the next few news cycles?

Media Matters, never shy on such topics, has a list of nominees who they'd like to see get ... well, I suppose they want to see their shows shut down too. The list includes Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Neil Boortz, O'Reilly and more and they've got heaps of dated references to comments they say are all signs these folks spew out a lot of garbage and hate.

Is this really news to anyone listening/watching these shows?

Cliff Kincaid wonders, in a Christian Science Monitor article, if the tirade against bad talkers will play into conspiratorial hands who want the FCC to become national monitors/censors:

This is an opening salvo in a campaign to put FCC bureaucrats in charge of what can and can't be said on the air."

It all reminds me of a line from Eric Bogosian's play "Talk Radio" -- "Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words cause permanent damage."