Tuesday, January 31, 2006

CNN Pipeline Rocks

Right now, CNN Pipeline is airing on one of its four channels the 2004 State of the Union Address, to be followed, presumable, by the 2005 speech, leading up to live feed of this years's address.

Yes, a snore fest, but for a newshound like me its a godsend.

CNN Pipeline isn't perfect, but its one of the greatest web services around. For $2.99/month you get live streams and archives videos from CNN 24/7. At its best, it offers a choice from four simultaneous streams of live news at once. I was in heaven when last week I could switch between TWO high speed police chases in Southern California happening simultaneously... best of all, I was listening to the helicopter chatter, not the sanitized comments of a news anchor. During the mine disaster drama that unfolded a few weeks ago I was getting most of my news from live correspondent feeds... including dialogue between the journalists and cameramen while they weren't on air.

And the video quality is surprisingly awesome.

Unfortunately, CNN Pipeline will occasionally lack live streams at all... usually in the late hours. But for the most part, there's always something happening, even if its a static shot of the White House front lawn, traffic going over the Golden Gate Bridge, or live doppler radar.

The obvious benefit is being able to watch the news anywhere you can find an internet connection... but I tend to have it on even when I'm switching my TV between Fox News and the actual CNN.

Pipeline currently offers a two week free trial, as well as .99 cent daypass, so its worth giving a shot even if you think you'll only use it on occasion. But for $2.99 a month, for me its a better deal than the $20 I spend for Netflix.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In Defense of Tom Cruise...

I'm currently working on a couple different posts to debut at blogging.la, considering I've officially been a writer there for three days but have yet to post a thing. But, with a readership in the thousands, I feel a little more pressure to make sure the info is a. interesting and b. grammatically profound.

Not that I don't respect this small crowd here... although this post won't be indicative of that.

Film gossip site JoBlo's Movie Emporium has a pretty solid defense of Tom Cruise, and why you should forgive him. Well, maybe "solid" is a little extreme of a word, but for a guy named JoBlo its as good as its gonna get.

Here's some snippets:

We forgave Hugh Grant for getting a hummer from a hooker quicker than we've forgiven Tom. And we forgave Meg Ryan and Brad Pitt for cheating on their spouses. Why can't we get past Tom's bad summer?

He's 43 years old and he's sleeping with one of the most beautiful women in the world who happens to only be 24. If I were sleeping with Katie Holmes, I too would dance on the couches of every talk show host I could find.

And don't say you don't like the guy's movies. Of the roughly 25 movies he's been in, he pulls in an average of $101.5 million per picture. That puts him number 2 all time behind Harrison Ford for actors with more than 20 films to their resume. And Tom doesn't have the Star Wars movies to boost his numbers.

At the end of the piece, Jo Blo wonders why everyone thinks Tom Cruise is gay. And he's right, why should it matter? But, between friends and all... c'mon... dude dumped Nicole Kidman and at one time wanted to be a priest...

On a side note, Blogger appears to be down, but if you're posting with external software like wbloggar you won't be kept down...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

No, its the other way around: Disney Sells Its Soul to Steve Jobs

I spoke to God once. It was a few years ago, and I was housesitting for his long lost sister. The phone rang and the voice asked, "Is Mona there?" and I said no, but offered to take a message. "Just tell her Steve Jobs called." I knew who Steve Jobs was, but at the time had no idea why he'd be calling the house I was staying at. Mona was a bestselling author, so maybe she was interviewing him. A little research revealed that Jobs was Mona's biological brother, but while they were children he had been put up for adoption. It was only until many, many years later did they seek each other out - that Steve had become a gazillionaire genius, and Mona a hugely successful writer, completely on their own was pretty amazing. Nature over nurture perhaps?

Anyway, the press is all abuzz with the news that hell froze over and Disney caved in and bought Pixar, the Steve Jobs run digital animation studio. Over at BankofKev's blog he ponders the same thoughts everyone else interested in the movie business are thinking: "Question remains how much control Pixar retains in the deal...Let's wait and see."

But looking at some of the details reveals the question is better put as, "how much control will Disney retain?"

From Dark Horizons:

Disney on Tuesday agreed to acquire Steve Jobs' Pixar for $6.3 billion in stock plus $1.1 billion of the company's cash. The deal also gives Pixar and Jobs unprecedented access into what is perhaps the world's most renowned entertainment brand.

Jobs, who doubles as chief executive of Apple Computer Inc., will take a seat on Disney's board. He also becomes Disney's largest individual shareholder. Further, several Pixar executives will oversee Disney's animation unit along with their own operations.

On a side note, if you haven't bought stock in Apple yet, now's the time. Exclusive Disney content for kid iPods could hit the market before next Christmas...

What I've been saying all along

Dear my partisan minded friends...

Sploid: Study shows Left and Right equally dense

Unfortunately, this doesn't indicate of the more centrist among us are any smarter...

I'm now considered "fresh meat"

I so don't rock enough to have been accepting as a contributor for blogging.la, but I was.
An open call was issued on Saturday for new writers to one of my favorite blogs, I applied, and well... its time to start conspiring what my first post will be...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Blog for Choice Day

If abortion were murder, I'd be charged and convicted a willing accomplice. I'd also be friends with countless other killers and their co-conspirators. And if you think abortion really is, indeed, murder, if you still like me then you've got a crap sense of character.

Bottom line is while abortion may be ugly and foul, it isn't the same as murder. More importantly, what happens to anyone's body is their business and should not be regulated by the state. Anything less is completely and utterly fascist.

Today, and I'm running way late on this, is "Blog for Choice Day"...

In tribute I repost the rough cut of my short film "Magic Wand."

Click to watch

(click image to watch)

sideways trucker cap tip to Tony Pierce

Why Bush is to blame

Martin Garbus has an excellent piece at the Huffington Post entitled "How Close Are We to the End of Democracy?".

It clearly lays out the argument that Bush's abuse of power is unprecedented and an offense to the Constitution. In summary, "No President In Over 200 Years Of Our History Has Ever Before Claimed The 'Unitary Powers' That Bush Claims", not during the Civil War, Vietnam War, or Cold War.

Trilogy of Terror?

Bloggers Shane Nickerson and AJ Gentile's postings have come to a screeching halt around the same time that Jessica Stover announces that she may not be online so much...


Friday, January 20, 2006


I decided to give this site a new look, and instead of spending the time designing it myself I snagged one from this site.

I'll still be tweaking it, but the most important improvement to note here are the additions of "permalinks" and an xml feed in the side bar.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bad Trend Watch 2006

People wearing the slogan "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" t-shirts and hats.

I want to shove a pair of Uggs down each one of these people's throats.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Why do I keep coming back to Woot!?

Woot! is a highly addictive website that features one item for sale a day, usually some electonic gizmo, at sometimes outrageously low prices.

They don't hide too much that they sort of suck - products often misrepresented, they double, triple, or quadruple bill people for orders, and their site can be embarrasingly glitchy. While they may be honest, I often question why I return as a customer. The answer, however, is simple: great product descriptions.

For example, right now they have a Roomba on sale for $119. Its refurbished, so I'll steer clear. However, check out part of the their product description:

Simply punch the appropriate buttons on the Roomba's exoskeleton or the included remote control. Then gaze placidly on while your new mecha-maid greedily slurps up all the crud, soil, and filth generated by your unsavory lifestyle. Dorito crumbs, short curly hairs, stray granules of cocaine: all vanish into the Roomba Discovery's voracious maw, and still it begs for more...

In the meantime, if you're as obsessed with customer service and good deals on crap as I am, take a gander at The Consumerist, a new blog from the Gawker media folks.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Now Hiring: Stormtroopers (experience preferred)

Just found this on CraigsList:

NEED - Two to Four STORM TROOPERS for an event Feb 10th & 11th

I'm looking for two to four Storm Trooper's to attend a two-night event to be held at an art gallery in Hollywood. Members of the 501st preferred...

The event spans two nights, it's for an art opening - where many of the pieces on display are Star Wars themed/inspired.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Only Worthwhile End of the Year List You Need to Read

Actually, there's no worthwhile end of the year list, but if there was, this would be it:

retroCRUSH's 100 Most Annoying Things of 2005

Some highlights:

Getting advice on being a star from Paula Abdul is like getting driving lessons from Lindsay Lohan.

Really want kids to stop smoking? Stop showing commercials with kids saying how uncool it is, and have Bea Arthur in a thong smoking a pack of Newports exclaiming how cool cigs really are. Either that, or stop making cigarettes.

I just don’t get the fascination with movies like Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and the not to be outdone 18 kid remake of Yours, Mine, and Ours. Look for Disney’s upcoming, Sweet Lord, My Uterus Exploded! (starring Dakota Fanning, of course) to come out next summer.

While much was made about the black “looters” and white “gatherers” in the media’s coverage of the Katrina flooding, why wasn’t there any outcry about the unfair portrayal of failed lesbians as the source of the flooding? And calling them “dykes” on national TV was pretty harsh.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ouch! David Letterman smacked down by Bill O'Reilly

While its fun to watch these clips of David Letterman sticking it to the man (Bill O'Reilly), and telling the Spinmeister, "I get the feeling that 60% of what you say is full of crap", its a shame that the clips leave out the rest of the exchange...

"Halfway through the exchange Letterman got himself into a corner, conceded he was not smart enough to argue his case but darted out, through a wall of O'Reilly noise, that he thought 60% of the Factor man's usual speechifying was 'crap'. O'Reilly demanded proof. Letterman found no better answer than: I don't watch your show. He was toast ever since."

Surprisingly, this comes from the uber-liberal Talking Points Memo - read the rest here.

To be fair, I think I could better argue that only 10% of what O'Reilly says is crap (a good 2% comes from whenever he tells a guest he'll give them "the last word", but adds a line of commentary after).

The three hour gap

Not since 9/11 have I been so emotionally engaged in a news story.

For the past couple days I was mostly ignoring the news of the miners trapped in the mine. It seemed like a story I'd seen a dozen times before, and always somehow ending in survivors being pulled to safety.

I gained a bit of morbid interest later on Tuesday evening when they discovered that one miner had been found dead... obviously a bad sign for the fate of the remaining 12 men.

So, I was happily surprised as I watched Anderson Cooper being told that there were "12 Alive... 12 Alive", and the survivors families were rejoicing and celebrating nearby. As I scanned online news sites I found a number of headlines repeating the same news.

Three hours later, though, again Anderson Cooper was interrupted by a family, live on TV, telling him that the reports were wrong, the coal mine owners had lied... there was only one survivor. The remaining eleven miners had been found dead.

In the meantime, newspapers have gone to print reporting of a miracle that never happened... the first major soundbyte and news quote, "12 Alive", a total inaccuracy.

Unfortunately, now the news isn't about the tragedy of 12 men being killed in the mine disaster and one lucky survivor. The focus is now on the three hours where the mine owners withheld notifying the families and and citizens of Upshur County, as well as the entire world.

No real commentary to add... just a horrible story to see unfold overnight.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Exceptions to the Rule

Over at the BankofKev's blog is a post about the supposed demise of short films on the internet, which I highly disagree with. The basic point Kev tries to make is that "the idea of putting up a short online and getting WB to fund you 30 million and distribute your opus is most likely not going to happen." Which is largely true, but so is the idea that any random script is going to be produced (or even read), or that going to film school means you'll land a studio deal. Kev is correct in pointing out that a first time director will most likely need to go the "normal" route by getting investors, making a feature independently, exhibiting it at festivals, and then hoping a studio will take notice.

However, I think Kev misses a couple marks here. First, to believe short films on the internet are a thing of the past is short sighted - now that cel phones and the iPod can download and stream video, the market for short bits of entertainment I believe are just getting started. Besides, people with high speed internet connections have been sharing shorts and video clips online for years. Indeed, companies like iFilm and AtomFilms have largely been money pits for their multimillion dollar investors, this is likely more due to the fact that they launched when the vast majority of internet users were using dialup. This is a sting still being felt by people wary of investing more in internet sites featuring shorts. On the flip side, now that there's cheaper bandwidth costs and just about anyone who grew up in the 90s either has web development skills or knows someone who does, indie filmmakers can host their shorts on their own sites.

The second, larger point I think Kev misses is in his claim that those few filmmakers who do get a deal based on their shorts are an exception to the rule... with all due respect to Kev I say, "no duh". Anyone who is able to have a film widely distributed is an exception to the rule. Almost every director has a unique story of how they were able to get noticed and given the helm of a production. Some went to film school and built a reel strong enough to land a deal (or feature film backing) straight out of school, others are screenwriters with enough clout to gain studio support to direct a major film, and others are homegrown filmmakers who've never had a breath of LA smog but managed to make a low budget film that was accepted in the festival circuit, and this gained the attention of the studios.

(some real world examples from some releases in the top ten: Peter Jackson (King Kong) made films since a small child and didn't even go to film school - a friend of his convinced him to try and get a low budget feature he made to be screened at Cannes, which garnished him notice... "Narnia" director Andrew Adamson worked in special effects for years before being given the opportunity to direct an animated film called "Shrek"... Adam Shankman, who directed Cheaper By The Dozen 1 and 2 was a film and music video choreographer prior to directing The Wedding Planner... Thomas Bezucha was a creative services exec for Coach and Ralph Lauren, and an interior designer for Sharon Stone, before writing and directing Big Eden and most recently The Family Stone...)

Back to the original point, posting a short film on the internet and then kicking back, hoping it will gain enough popularity that a studio will notice it and toss you a ton of dough for a feature is indeed beyond realistic. But the internet has proven a realistic approach to gain attention and street cred. While the makers of internet hits like 405, George Lucas In Love, and Troops may not have ended up with a feature after their shorts gained worldwide attention, they did gain face time (meetings) with studio execs and potential investors, which is nothing to scoff at. And it isn't unusual for assistants to convince their bosses to meet with the makers of a random internet short that caught their eye.

As for a personal experience, a short I produced five years ago called "Arrowhead Beer" cost less than $300 to make (mainly spent on food, parking, renting a small dingy, and production insurance), ended up with over 60,000 views on iFilm, "bootlegged" copies on countless other sites (at one time including a Korean translation), beaing featured in Maxim Magazine Online, DVD distibution via TromaFilms, and finally being paid a small amount for exhibition on British television. While a far cry from a studio deal, represents at least one resume bullet point for the director, Jeff Bacon (pictured above).

What was my point? Oh, yeah... internet shorts are just one avenue to approach landing the coveted studio deal, or a the backing for a first feature. Not the only avenue by any means, but one tool accessible to anyone with a computer and a video camera.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The John Hinckley Jr/George Bush Connection

Some interesting items I'm surprised liberal conspiracists haven't been blogging about, especially in light John Hinckley Jr.'s recently relaxed prison terms (allowing for overnight visits with his parents)...

-Hinckley is the son of a mighty Texas oilman who was a top backer of George H.W. Bush's first bid for the presidency. Hinckley's brother Scott actually had dinner plans with Neil Bush (the career-criminal son of Bush Sr. and brother of George W.) in Denver the night after Reagan was shot.

-The would-be assassin and George W. Bush were even neighbors in Lubbock, Texas.

-George W. had run a failed race for Lubbock's congressional seat in 1978... Ronald Reagan endorsed young Bush's opponent -- Texas state Sen. Kent Hance, who was a Democrat at the time. Hance dismissed George W. as a rich-kid Yalie pretending to be a Texan, and it worked.

-The Bush and Hinckley... families are actually related: Both clans descended from Thomas Hinckley, who died in Massachusetts in 1706 and was governor of Plymouth Colony from 1658 to 1681.

-Reagan smashed Bush in the early primaries and seized the GOP nomination. Along the campaign trail, the personable and idealistic Reagan developed an intense hatred of George H.W. Bush, the cold-blooded Yankee CIA boss who made a fortune on the Texas oilfields. With behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Texas & Middle East oilmen and the intelligence agency elite in Northern Virginia, Bush Sr. seized the vice-presidential slot even though he claimed not to want it.

On March 30, 1981 Hinckley shot and wounded President Reagan in a failed assassination attempt that most people believe was an effort to gain the attention and love of Jodie Foster. Now just waiting for Oliver Stone to read the above and come to a different conclusion: the Bush family hired or manipulated Hinckley to do it out of revenge...

source: Sploid!