30 July 2010

I Wonder Why

Why is it that books are classified as "fiction" and "non-fiction"? Why aren't they called "factual" and "non-factual"?

27 July 2010

Stupid Government

I guess lots of governments make stupid decisions, but I never expected such a stupid decision to come from the British government. Specifically, Britain's Department for Culture, Media and Sport which yesterday announced it was closing down the venerable UK Film Council.

Founded in 2000, the film council donated various amounts of money to help certain British films to be made. The list of films helped by the council is impressive. Just to list a few that I have seen:

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (pictured), Bright Star, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Gosford Park, Hunger, The Magdalene Sisters, Vera Drake; and the documentaries Man on Wire and Touching the Void.

Would these and other films have been made without the council's assistance? Maybe. But then, maybe not.

The council's annual budget was only £15,000,000, and it appears it is being disbanded to help reduce budgets. Really? £15,000,000 is going to help? I would think the money would be better spent making good movies to entertain audiences around the world.

You can read about the decision here.

You can see an interesting review of how much money the film council donated to make certain films, and how much those films made in national and worldwide release here.

You can read reaction to the decision here and here.

18 July 2010

A Bike is not a Car

I learned how to ride a bike many years ago. It was so fun sailing down the street with the wind blowing through my hair. Then the asthma kicked in and made me go home -- but still, for a few moments, it was fun.

One thing that was stressed a lot when I was young was bicycle safety. I mean, seriously, a bike is not a car, and a collision between the two has pretty predictable results. One of the most important rules I was taught was that you NEVER ride a bike through an intersection -- crosswalk or not. The reason is pretty simple: a bike is small and moves faster than a pedestrian. A person driving a car through an intersection is not expecting a bike to come flying off the sidewalk into his/her path.

Last weekend, a bicyclist in Tempe rode his bike in a crosswalk through an intersection. He was hit by a car, and recently died from his injuries. The case received a lot of attention because the person who hit the cyclist did not remain at the scene (in itself a felony) and the cyclist died.

However, in all the coverage of this accident, not once has it been mentioned that -- yes, all these years since it was taught to me -- it is still illegal in Arizona to ride a bicycle through an intersection. Most bicycle safety manuals suggest walking a bike through a crosswalk; but it is the law in Arizona. If the cyclist in this case had been walking his bike it is less likely he would have been hit (slower speed, more likely to have been seen). It is no guarantee against being hit, but it is safer.

You can see surveillance video of the incident in the two links below (the actual moment of impact is not shown). However, in each you can clearly see the bicyclist entering the crosswalk intersection very fast. Add to that the fact that it was late at night and you can easily see how the accident occurred.

This is no way excuses the driver who left the scene. The irony is, had he stopped, he would most likely have been cleared of any fault because the cyclist was not walking his bike. Now, his life if probably ruined because he fled the scene.

A news report of the accident will be found here.

A follow-up story after an arrest was made is here.

15 July 2010

Boxers or Briefs?

Matt and I are huge fans of animation -- the good stuff, not the crap churned out by D*sney. No, we love Pixar. We love Pixar. We love Pixar.

Even more than their (usually) great animated films we love their animated shorts. We love their shorts -- including my favorite, the subversive "Knick Knack" (pictured).

Not only are they clever and witty, they are also just so well crafted. When was the last time you saw such well-made short animated films? A long time ago, let me tell you.

I invite you to read a nice little article about the wonderful studio and their wonderful short films here.

You can purchase a collection of their shorts here.

13 July 2010

Fuck You, FCC!

I am not the kind of person prone to swearing. Oh, sure, I swear on occasion -- especially when I'm sure it will shock some bluenose. I love the look on their faces, don't you? Anyway, I don't think intelligent people need to use vulgarities as part of everyday speech BUT I am totally against any person or entity passing laws that forbid such words.

So, it is with great happiness that I tell the morons in the Federal Communications Commission to go fuck themselves.

Yes, that's right: we are talking about the decision today to stop aggressive FCC regulations that went into effect in 2004 with encouragement by the Bush administration as a means to pander for votes from the "ultra conservative" types who insist that everyone in the world think as they do, act as they do, and only fuck in the missionary position.

The decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals results from a suit brought by the FOX network against the FCC. (And no, you do not need to point out the irony that I am actually HAPPY about something done by FOX ....)

So, score one for freedom of thought and speech. You can read more about the decision here.

09 July 2010

Kristin The Great

Okeh, the good news: Acting great Kristin Scott Thomas is getting to be known around the world for her superb acting talents.

The bad news: Acting great Kristin Scott Thomas is getting to be known around the world for her superb acting talents.

How can the same event be both good and bad? Quite easily, it turns out.

I have been a huge fan of Thomas (pictured) since 1988 when she made the film "A Handful of Dust" which I saw only because it starred then-hottie Rupert Graves (who I first saw in "Maurice" in 1987). So, like all the great British actors before her, I started watching everything I could find her in fearing that (one day) she would sell out to the lure of riches and glamour in Hollywood.

But (surprise!) she dabbled in Hollywood but continued acting in quality films -- following the footsteps of other British greats Helen Mirren, Rupert Everett, Emma Thompson and (of course) the totally fab Miranda Richardson all of whom eschewed money and glory for acting challenges making the world a MUCH better place in the process.

You can read an interesting article about Thomas here and find out more about her work here.

08 July 2010

The Bang That Keeps on Giving

You probably remember that I wrote here and here about our awesome trip to Burbank last November to attend a taping of "The Big Bang Theory."

It was so great seeing the cast live, getting their autographs (all except Jim Parsons -- don't get me started) and seeing the wonderful Christine Baranski acting up a storm, in person.

Well guess what? Baranski just got nominated for an Emmy for that performance (pictured)! What a hoot! Not only did we get to see how the show was put together, and all the aforementioned treats, but we also got to see an Emmy-nominated performance as it unfolded! (The only thing that could be better would be if she wins; but, of course, it's just a thrill that she was nominated.)

Additionally, Parsons also received an Emmy nod for his on-going antics on the show.

The only thing that would be better than all of the above would be if talented Kaley Cuoco (also pictured) would finally get the Emmy nod she deserves.

07 July 2010

Garden Goodies - Take Two

Here's our first crop of tomatoes -- picked fresh yesterday and destined for homemade chili on Sunday. Yum! We've gotten a lot of tomatoes, but quite a few have been damaged by sun and bugs. We didn't use the tomato plant frames and learned a big lesson from that. Next year will be a different story. Still, not a bad crop for our first try.

05 July 2010

Telephones of Old

Hey! I am spending this holiday weekend doing some research on my vintage radio comedy and drama collection. I thought I would share this really keen photograph I found showing vintage telephones from 1877 to 1900. Pretty amazing designs.

03 July 2010

Two Years

You know, it amazes me to think that the marriage between Matt and I has lasted MUCH longer than marriages of many straight couples: two years today. Of course, we have been together nearly sixteen years (November) which amazes me even more.

And people say gay relationships don't last based on what evidence?