Sunday, February 22, 2009

The 81st Annual Academy Awards

Nice dig at the snub of The Dark Knight and the poor box office of The Reader.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Original screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Adapted screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Best animated feature film of the year: WALL-E (Walt Disney) Andrew Stanton
Best animated short film: La Maison en Petits Cubes, A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
Achievement in art direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
Achievement in costume design: Michael O’Connor, The Duchess
Achievement in makeup: Greg Cannom, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Achievement in cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best live action short film: Spielzeugland (Toyland), A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank
Performance by an actor in a supporting role: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best documentary feature: Man on Wire (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
Best documentary short subject: Smile Pinki, A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
Achievement in visual effects: Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Achievement in sound editing: Richard King, The Dark Knight
Achievement in sound mixing: Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty, Slumdog Millionaire
Achievement in film editing: Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Jerry Lewis
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score): A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song): “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
Best foreign language film of the year: Departures (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
Achievement in directing: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Performance by an actress in a leading role: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Performance by an actor in a leading role: Sean Penn, Milk
Best Motion Picture of the year: Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production, Christian Colson, Producer

Friday, February 20, 2009

Funny People trailer hits the internet

The trailer for Funny People is now online. It's the third movie to be directed by Judd Apatow. About a minute into the movie, Adam Sandler's character is wearing a Kentucky shirt. Is Judd reading my fan mail or something?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why would you even consider that?

Word to the wise, don't even think about eating that food. It's greasy and not healthy but what do you care anyway.

When Blogrolling comes back 100%...

I'm delinking Barefoot and Progressive because there's nothing I hate more than an an egomaniac, especially one that still accuses me of doing something that is a crime against humanity. Joe Sonka made anti-Semitic comments and refuses to apologize for them. That repulsive prick gets no respect from me.

Mike Schmidt wants A-Roid in HOF

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt announced that he would like A-Roid to join him in the Hall of Fame.
Mike Schmidt knows he isn't speaking for all living Hall of Fame players, but if Alex Rodriguez joins their club someday, Schmidt said he would welcome him to the fraternity.

"Would I welcome him? Yeah, I will -- if he got elected to the Hall of Fame," Schmidt said Wednesday after he checked into the Philadelphia Phillies' spring training camp as a special instructor.

Schmidt was elected to the Hall in 1995 with 96.5 percent of the vote, the third-highest percentage at the time -- behind Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron -- of any Hall of Fame position player. Asked why he wouldn't have qualms about accepting an admitted user of performance-enhancing drugs as a fellow Hall of Famer, Schmidt said he sees both sides of this issue.

"I'm a guy, I always seem to be walking right on top of, right down the middle of the fence," he said. "I can understand the old hard-line guys who use the words, 'He cheated, he cheated, he cheated.' And [I understand] the other guys that go, 'It was a culture thing back then, and if you played, you'd have been tempted, too.' "

In fact, when Schmidt was asked directly if he thought he'd have gotten caught up in trying performance-enhancing drugs had they been part of his era, he answered: "Most likely. Why not?"

"A term that I think has been overused a lot, especially by Alex, is 'culture' -- culture of the era he played in," Schmidt said. "We had a culture when I played. There was a culture in the era when Babe Ruth played. And in the '60s, there was a culture. It's just that way in life. And apparently -- I wasn't involved, but from hearing everybody -- that was the culture of the '90s and the early 2000s. The temptation had to be tremendous to the young men playing major league baseball back then."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Billy Gillispie vs. Jeanine Edwards Halftime interviews

Billy Gillispie vs. Jeanine Edwards during halftime against Ole Miss.

Here's round two vs. Florida:

Round three comes tonight against Vanderbilt.

I'll have what they're having...

Which is another way of saying, what the heck are they smoking?
Last weekend may have produced more revenue at the box office than any previous weekend in February, but none of the recent Oscar-nominated movies shared in the windfall. While Friday the 13th was earning $45.2 million, Oscar-nominated Frost/Nixon was taking in only $473,000. In 11 weeks it has earned just $16.3 million, 36 percent of what Friday earned in four days. Likewise Milk has earned a total of $26.7 million and The Reader, $19.4 million. (The Reader appears to be the only film to have experienced "the Oscar bump" -- doubling its gross since it was nominated.) Daily Variety commented today (Tuesday) that "the cachet of a nomination isn't a fool-proof guarantee" of more business. And Los Angeles Times media columnist Patrick Goldstein concluded, "It's time for filmmakers to grasp the new reality: The Oscars have become a hollow brass ring."
First of all, some of these movies have been in theaters since November or December. It's the middle of February right now...chances are if someone has not seen it yet, they probably are waiting until it comes out on Netflix so that they don't have to deal with someone's cell phone light getting in the way of their eye line.

Furthermore, let's look at another issue here. What the crap is this with an Oscar bump and The Reader. I'm no idiot but the Oscar nominations were announced on January 22, 2009, so it's been about three weeks or so for movies to bring in further revenue.

Here is the current box office for the five nominees for best picture:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: $122,545,000
Leading up to the nomination, it brought in up to $104,388,850 from 2,988 theaters, accounting to 85.2% of the gross.

Slumdog Millionaire: $88,121,000
Leading up to it's nomination, it brought in $44,711,799 from 614 theaters, accounting for 50.7% of the gross. Going wide on the Friday after the nomination, it went on to make an additional $43,409,201 (49.3% of current gross) from up to 1,724 theaters. Here's what I don't get--the WENN report on IMDB says The Reader is the only movie to have doubled its gross since the nominations. Slumdog just about did double it's gross since the nominations...and with more money at the box office!

Milk: $26,717,000
Milk brought in 77.3% of its revenue before the nominations with $20,655,400 from 356 theaters. After the nominations and going slightly wide with 882 theaters on January 30th, it's brought in $6,061,600, accounting for 22.7% of the gross.

The Reader: $19,456,000
Playing at a maxium of 507 theaters (it lost 90 in the week leading to the nominations, this movie brought in $8,061,881 sine it's December 10th opening. Since the nominations went out (and going wide on January 30th), it brought in $11,394,119, which accounts for 58.6% of the box office gross. That said, it only played in 1,002 theaters for one full week starting January 30th so it's already starting to decrease in box office earnings by week at this point. Slumdog at it's widest brought in more revenue.

Frost/Nixon: $16,513,000
Playing in a maxium of 205 theaters before the nominations were announced, it brought in $8,888,701, only accounting for 53.8% of the gross. Since then, it's made $7,624,299, accounting for 46.2%, from a maximum of 1,105 theaters although it's since decreased to showing in under 500 theaters. Chances are, if you have yet to see this, just wait for the DVD.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I don't see how he has a chance. Who in their right mind would vote for anyone who got caught taking that stuff?"
--Jamie Moyer,, February 15, 2009
Asked if his sons, now teenagers, were disappointed in Rodriguez, Moyer said: "I'm sure they are. We've talked a little about it. It's also a lesson. One day he's a Hall of Famer, and in a 24-hour period he's not because of a poor decision. That's a shame."

Rodriguez, 33, became the youngest player to reach 500 homers when he did so with the New York Yankees in 2007. He is on course to one day break Barry Bonds' career record of 762. Bonds has long been suspected of using steroids.

In addition to 553 career homers, Rodriguez has won three MVP awards.

Are those numbers tainted?

"Of course they are," Moyer said. "This changes everything - the way people look at him, the way people act toward him. It's a shame. What does he have to play for now?"

Moyer played in Seattle from 1996 through 2006. Rodriguez was a teammate from 1996 to 2000. Rodriguez said he did not use steroids before going to Texas in 2001.

"Who's going to believe him?" Moyer said. "What credibility does he have now?"

Moyer has difficulty fathoming why Rodriguez, long hailed as the game's most talented player, would start taking steroids in the first place.

"The guy has a ton of talent," Moyer said. "Why does he need that? Money? The expectations that came from the contract?

"He always exuded great talent. Why did he think he needed to make himself somebody bigger and better? Just be yourself. That's what I tell kids when I talk to them. Be yourself."

Moyer, baseball's eldest statesman at 46, has long been a passionate opponent of steroid use. In 22 seasons, the soft-tossing lefthander has won 246 games. The only juice he'd test positive for would be Welch's grape.

"Baseball should be proud of the people who haven't done steroids," Moyer said. "The ones who haven't know inside that they've done it right. I'm not extra proud of anything, but I know I'm clean. I feel like I've done it through hard work."

Moyer remarked that the start of spring training always seems to raise the issue of steroids. He's tired of it.

"It's almost embarrassing to say that you play because of things that have happened and how they've been handled," he said. "It's such a distraction. I really wish there was some way to make it all go away. I wish Major League Baseball and the [players'] union could figure out some plan to deal with all this. Whatever list [of positive 2003 tests] there is, throw the names out there or throw the list away. Start with a clean slate. It's something the industry needs. How they do it doesn't matter."

In 2004, baseball began punishing players who tested positive for steroids. A first positive test now carries a 50-game suspension. Moyer suggested toughening that.

Solzy does stand-up again

The first line "How about Barack Obama" got cut off. Overall, I feel as if this was a stronger performance than the one at the Cats' Den, where I was more focused on an earlier interview.

My day went well...

But then I read this:
Fresh from winning his second NL MVP award, Albert Pujols is eyeing the future. As in, will St. Louis still be the right fit for him?

The Cardinals star said the team's commitment to winning will dictate if he re-signs when his contract expires in two years.

It's not about the money all the time," the first baseman said Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. "It's about being in a place to win and being in a position to win.

"If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team [on the field] every year like they have, I'm going to try to work everything out to stay in this town. But if they're not bringing championship-caliber play every year, then it's time for me to go somewhere else that I can win."

Pujols arrived in camp Sunday and spent time in the batting cage. He's signed to a seven-year, $100 million deal, and hit .357 with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs last season.

The Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, but have missed the playoffs the last two years. They were 86-76 last season, fourth in the NL Central. Their biggest offseason moves were trading for shortstop Khalil Greene and signing reliever Trever Miller.

Pujols had surgery on his right elbow to fix a nerve problem in November and is unsure how it will react to the everyday workload of spring training.

Manager Tony La Russa said the Cardinals will be "very careful in the progression with his drills and swinging and off-field work."

Pujols is uncertain if he will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic because of the surgery and insurance issues. He was a member of the team in 2006.

"I've already done it once," he said. "I need to make sure everything goes the right way."
The Cardinals better get their act together because El Hombre is a Cardinal for life!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spring Training Is Here

Spring training is finally here. Or as it's known in Chicago, the best day of the year because the rest of the season will be pure misery.

The red band trailer has been release for Seth Rogen's upcoming comedy, Observe and Report. Anna Faris, Michael Pena and Ray Liotta co-star in the dark comedy. Please be aware that Seth does not have his usual Jewfro.

Here's a look at the numbers for 2010 Senate candidates.
The best: Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) hasn't had a real race since he won his seat in 1986, but he continues to stockpile cash as if he is a prime Democratic target. Shelby's $13.4 million war chest is the biggest of any incumbent on the board for 2010 and is sure to attract lots of attention from National Republican Senatorial Committee operatives seeking to separate him from some of that cash. Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are the only other members of the $10 million cash-on-hand club: Bayh ended 2008 with $10.9 million in the bank, while Schumer, perhaps the best fundraiser in the Senate, closed the year with $10.6 million.
Universal picks up The Adventurer's Handbook.
Like the curly-headed love child of Seth Rogen and Jack Osborne, Jonah Hill has been hard at work, crafting himself a comedy script - filled with extreme travels across the globe. Now Universal have signed a seven-figure deal to acquire the film which will star Hill and fellow Apatow alumnus Jason Schwartzman.

The Adventurer's Handbook will follow four friends who take on an unbelievable journey across the globe, based around the true life exploits of hardcore explorers in a book by Mick Confrey.

Hill co-wrote the script with Matt Spicer and son of Henry, Max Winkler. All three are set to executive produce. Saturday Night Live and Hot Rod's Akiva Schaffer is in line to direct the project.
Not in the mood for a romantic-comedy this weekend? Try a bromantic movie instead!

Have a good Shabbas

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bud Selig pondering A-Roid's future

ESPN reports that Bud Selig and MLB is pondering A-Roid's future as far as discipline goes.
Baseball was still trying to decide Wednesday if it will discipline Alex Rodriguez for his admitted use of banned substances while playing for the Texas Rangers.

Commissioner Bud Selig was said to still be considering his options. While Rodriguez can't be disciplined for testing positive, it's possible baseball could try to punish him for acknowledging steroid use from 2001-2003.

Still, any penalty is highly unlikely.

Rodriguez was evasive during an ESPN interview when asked for details of his drug use, though he did say he has been clean since joining the New York Yankees in 2004.

"I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using," he said.

He'll face more questions when he reports to spring training with the Yankees next week. Manager Joe Girardi will hold his first staff meeting of camp Thursday, and position players are to report by Tuesday. Full-squad workouts start the following day.

Meantime, the chairman of the committee that determines the banned-substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency says he still has plenty of questions for Rodriguez.

"In doping, the devil is in the details, and I think he needs to come forward with the details," Gary Wadler said.

Rodriguez's confession was in response to a Sports Illustrated report that he tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone during baseball's anonymous survey in 2003.
If A-Roid is not suspended or fined, I will move for a vote of no confidence in Bud Selig. A-Roid betrayed baseball fans everywhere. If he didn't think he could play up to his $250 million contract, then why in the frickin' heck did he get a $250 million contract? A-Roid should never get elected to the HOF and have the 3 years of stats deducted from his record.

Give me a frickin' break.

Mother Nature likes Louisville in the dark

The latest number on this new round of power outages:
A front that followed a line of thunderstorms, generating winds of up to 60 mph, blew through the Louisville area late this afternoon, leaving about 20,000 LG&E customers without power.

Utility officials in Southern Indiana were reporting almost 8,000 customers without power about 5 p.m. in Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties.

Shortly after the storms moved through the area early in the afternoon, Louisville Gas & Electric Co. was reporting 2,100 outages, most of them in the southern part of the county.

“We kind of thought we were out of the woods there,” said Chip Keeling, a spokesman for the utility.

But then the winds arrived and LG&E saw a spike of outages. The number are expect to continue to rise until about 10 p.m., when the winds were expected to slow.

Keeling said customers without power were spread across the metro area and crews were out working to repair lines damaged by the wind storm.

The outages come just days after LG&E restored power to approximately 200,000 customers who lost it when a late January ice storm brought down trees, limbs and power lines. Across the state almost 700,000 people had lost power in that storm and some customers in Western Kentucky are still waiting to have it restored.

RIP: Paul Bather

Former Louisville Alderman Paul Bather died in Houston. May he rest in peace.
Paul Bather, 62, who served several terms as Louisville’s 12th Ward alderman and later several years as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, died Tuesday in a Houston, Texas, hospital.

He had been fighting pancreatic cancer and living in Houston.

Louisville Metro Council member Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5th District, had been the aldermanic clerk when she replaced Bather in 2000 as 12th Ward alderman, after Bather was elected to the 43rd state House seat.

Hamilton said today that she probably would not be an elected official, if it had not been for Bather. “He mentored me. He just didn’t throw me out there. He helped me along,” Hamilton said.

“He loved the people in the 12th Ward, and they loved him. He was always thinking of how he could make the community better,” she said.

Sportscenter: Brett Favre informs Jets he will retire

He's done this before but I hope it's permanent this time.

Thank you, Jodie Meeks!

Kentucky knocks off Florida with a final of 68-65 with much thanks to Jodie Meeks' game winning 3.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Exit polls show Tzipi Livni and Kadima apparent winner in Israeli elections

Kadima appears to be the big winner in this week's Israeli elections.
Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party appeared to have edged Likud in voting Tuesday, Israeli exit polls showed.

Exit polls released at the close of voting for the 18th Israeli Knesset showed Kadima winning 30 seats and Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud winning 28.

Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu vaulted over Labor to become the Knesset's third-largest party, with 15 seats, according to polls, and Labor falling to some 13 seats.

Official results were not expected to be available until the wee hours of Wednesday morning in Israel.

Kadima's apparent victory puts Livni, currently Israel's foreign minister, in the No. 1 spot to put together a coalition government with a minimum of 61 seats and become prime minister.

Voter turnout was higher than expected as Israelis went to the polls Tuesday on a stormy and cold day following a week of unseasonably warm weather, and after a compressed three-week campaign due to the recent war in Gaza.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Update on Steven Spielberg's Lincoln

Here's the latest on Lincoln as far as the Steven Spielberg-directed film starring Liam Neeson as Abraham Lincoln is concerned:
Playwright Tony Kushner, who's been laboring on a script for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln movie for a very long time, is right now taking part in a discussion at a Harvard University Institute of Politics forum panel discussion called "Looking For Lincoln: In his Time and Ours -- A Conversation on the Meaning of Abraham Lincoln." It began at 6 pm at the John F. Kennedy Forum.

In any event, a longtime HE reader in attendance informs by cell-phone e-mail that Kushner has said "the decision will be made on Lincoln next week" and that if the green light is given the film will be "out by Christmas." That's pretty fast work for a expensive period film that'll use a lot of CG, no? Even if Spielberg passes on Civil War battle scenes.

Kushner also said that Lincoln "only covers two months of his life," my guy says, and that "the first draft covered four months and [was] 500 pages."

Kushner also said that the 13th amendment -- the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude -- "is a big thing in the movie."

One presumes that Kushner meant that the film will cover the last two months of Lincoln's life, or roughly February 15th to April 15th, 1865 -- the day of his death. The 13th amendment was enacted on December 6, 1865, so there'll apparently be a little skipping around, event- and chronology-wise.[...]

When I spoke to Liam Neeson (who will most likely play Lincoln) in the summer of '05, he said he understood that the film would span the full arc of Lincoln's time in the White House, beginning in March 1861.
If the movie is indeed due out in December, there's a strong feeling that it will be nominated for and would likely win Best Picture.

This would not be the first time that Spielberg shoots principal photography and has a movie go into post-production at the same time:
This isn’t anything new for Spielberg who pulled a similar rush job on Munich in 2005 when he began principal photography in early July and the film debuted on December 23 that year and went on to earn $130 million worldwide and was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay. Kushner also penned Munich with the aid of Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

As things stand right now it is assumed Liam Neeson will star as the 16th President and Sally Field has been attached to play his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

Alex Rodriguez admits to steroid use

So much for Alex Rodriguez passing Hank Aaron to be the legitimate home run king.

SI first reported over the weekend that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid use.
In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.

Rodriguez's name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's '03 survey testing, SI's sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.

When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. "You'll have to talk to the union," said Rodriguez, the Yankees' third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, "I'm not saying anything."

The MLBPA issued a statement on Saturday, saying "Information and documents relating to the results of the 2003 MLB testing program are both confidential and under seal by court orders. We are prohibited from confirming or denying any allegation about the test results of any particular player[s] by the collective bargaining agreement and by court orders. Anyone with knowledge of such documents who discloses their contents may be in violation of those court orders."[...]

Anticipating that the 33-year-old Rodriguez, who has 553 career home runs, could become the game's alltime home run king, the Yankees signed him in November 2007 to a 10-year, incentive-laden deal that could be worth as much as $305 million. Rodriguez is reportedly guaranteed $275 million and could receive a $6 million bonus each time he ties one of the four players at the top of the list: Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), and an additional $6 million for passing Bonds. In order to receive the incentive money, the contract reportedly requires Rodriguez to make extra promotional appearances and sign memorabilia for the Yankees as part of a marketing plan surrounding his pursuit of Bonds's record. Two sources familiar with Rodriguez's contract told SI that there is no language about steroids in the contract that would put Rodriguez at risk of losing money.
The entire MLB statement on A-Rod being named in the latest steroid report:
"We are disturbed by the allegations contained in the Sports Illustrated news story which was posted online this morning. Because the survey testing that took place in 2003 was intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous, we can not make any comment on the accuracy of this report as it pertains to the player named.

"Based on the results of the 2003 tests, Major League Baseball was able to institute a mandatory random-testing program with penalties in 2004. Major League Baseball and the Players Association have improved the drug testing program on several occasions so that it is now the toughest program in professional sports. The program bans stimulants, such as amphetamines, as well as steroids.

"Any allegation of tipping that took place under prior iterations of the program is of grave concern to Major League Baseball, as such behavior would constitute a serious breach of our agreement.

"Under Commissioner [Bud] Selig's leadership, Major League Baseball remains fully committed to the elimination of the use of performance enhancing substances from baseball. As the Commissioner has said, we will continue to do everything within our power to eliminate the use of such drugs and to protect the integrity of the program."
Talking to ESPN, A-Rod admited to taking steroids.
His voice shaking at times, Alex Rodriguez met head-on allegations that he tested positive for steroids six years ago, telling ESPN on Monday that he did take performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers during a three-year period beginning in 2001.

"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," Rodriguez told ESPN's Peter Gammons in an exclusive interview in Miami Beach, Fla.

"Back then, [baseball] was a different culture," Rodriguez said. "It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

"I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful."

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Okay, so I found this today...

2009 BAFTA Award Winners

The BAFTA awards were awarded tonight in London.

BEST FILM - Slumdog Millionaire
BEST DIRECTOR - Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST LEADING ACTOR - Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
BEST LEADING ACTRESS - Kate Winslet, The Reader
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy
BEST MUSIC - A. R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST EDITING - Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN - Donald Graham Burt / Victor J. Zolfo, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
BEST COSTUME DESIGN - Michael O'Connor, The Duchess
BEST MAKE UP & HAIR - Jean Black / Colleen Callaghan, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
BEST SOUND - Glenn Freemantle / Resul Pookutty / Richard Pryke / Tom Sayers / Ian Tapp, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS - Eric Barba / Craig Barron / Nathan McGuinness / Edson Williams, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
BEST SHORT ANIMATION - Steve Pegram / Nick Park / Bob Baker, Wallace And Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death
BEST SHORT FILM - Stewart le Maréchal / Esther May Campbell, September
THE ORANGE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public) - Noel Clarke

2009 WGA Awards

The Writers Guild of America presented their awards tonight.

Milk, Written by Dustin Lance Black, Focus Features

Slumdog Millionaire, Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, Based on the Novel Q and A by Vikas

Swarup, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Waltz with Bashir, Written by Ari Folman, Sony Pictures Classics


Mad Men, Written by Lisa Albert, Jane Anderson, Rick Cleveland, Kater Gordon, David Isaacs, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Marti Noxon, Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner; AMC

30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Donald Glover, Andrew Guest, Matt Hubbard, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher, Ron Weiner; NBC

In Treatment, Written by Rodrigo Garcia, Bryan Goluboff, Davey Holmes, William Merritt Johnson, Amy Lippman, Sarah Treem; HBO

EPISODIC DRAMA – any length – one airing time
“Pilot” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan; AMC

EPISODIC COMEDY – any length – one airing time
“Succession” (30 Rock), Written by Andrew Guest & John Riggi; NBC

Recount, Written by Danny Strong; HBO

John Adams, “Episode 1, Join or Die,” Teleplay by Kirk Ellis, Based on the book by David McCullough; “Episode 2, Independence,” Teleplay by Kirk Ellis, Based on the book by David McCullough; HBO

ANIMATION – any length – one airing time
“Apocalypse Cow” (The Simpsons), Written by Jeff Westbrook; Fox

Saturday Night Live, Head Writers Seth Meyers, Andrew Steele, Paula Pell, Writers Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Alex Baze, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Charlie Grandy, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, John Lutz, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Paula Pell, Simon Rich, Marika Sawyer, Akiva Schaffer, Robert Smigel, John Solomon, Emily Spivey, Andrew Steele, Kent Sublette, Jorma Taccone, Bryan Tucker, Additional Sketches by Robert Carlock; NBC

“2008 Film Independent Spirit Awards,” Written by Billy Kimball, Aaron Lee, Jennifer Celotta, Rainn Wilson; IFC/AMC

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Waterboards are heavy?

The Swing State Project takes a look at the 2010 Senate races, and while they are not Sen. Evan Bayh's biggest fan, he's most certainly considered very safe in 2010.

Some highlights from the annual Alfalfa Club dinner at the Capitol Hilton:
Once inside the banquet hall, which is always off-limits to the media, the Alfalfans took turns trying to crack each other up. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- the club's outgoing president -- noted that former vice president Richard B. Cheney injured himself while moving into his new home, according to a source inside the dinner.

"I had no idea waterboards were so heavy," Lieberman quipped.

The incoming club president, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), reminded guests that a newspaper recently published a list of the 25 people most responsible for the global economic meltdown. "You know who you are," he said, according to the source. "And it's good to see you here tonight."[...]

The Alfalfans have been doing this since 1913, gathering each year on the anniversary of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday for an evening of lobster -- always lobster -- and heavy drinking. (The invitation-only club gets its name, members say, because alfalfa is a crop that will do anything for a drink.)

The official leaking of their remarks is a time-honored tradition for many of the speakers. Before the dinner, former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- the son and brother of presidents -- caught a club official handing a sheaf of papers to a reporter.

"Whatcha doing?" Bush asked. "Leaking?"

However, the Obama administration, which has promised to be the most transparent in history, decided not to join in that part of the ritual. Despite much begging, the text of the president's speech remained a pre-dinner secret.

Once the doors closed, though, the White House relented and revealed that Obama quipped that "every day is a swearing-in ceremony" for his famously foul-mouthed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

WB wants more Batman, Superman, and Sherlock Holmes

That's what's been reported as what was said on the earnings call this week. My guess is that Sherlock Holmes must have that great of a screenplay if it's going to get more than just a sequel or two. Man, Robert Downey, Jr. is going to be busy following the success of Iron Man and Tropic Thunder!
Reported yesterday on Time Warner's earning call, an analyst asked Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes what the company has learned overall from The Dark Knight. Jeff's response "The obvious thing we're going to take from [the film's success] is more Dark Knight," Jeff goes on to say "We look at Harry Potter...It's fantastic to have franchises that last that long. We want to do that with Batman and Superman and perhaps Sherlock Holmes. The sequels are as good, with new characters added, as were the originals. That wasn't the case in the years ago. "Warner's has more tent poles as an on-going strategy that very much lifts its distribution and performance." We think that's going to hold up our slate in the 2009 - 2010 period. We've got four big tent poles coming this year."

I'm a little surprised Superman and Sherlock Holmes were on the CEO's list. As Superman hasn't lifted off quite yet, and no new news stating otherwise. I'm sure that would be Warner's long time goal for Superman to turn him into a token franchise, but shouldn't that be the studio's goal for any project they decide to make a major summer tent pole? Sherlock Holmes is even more of a long shot to turn into a 8 or 9 movie franchise, but I'll just have to wait and see the film before I can comment on any future potential Sherlock franchise plans.

Other news...

Iran cancelled a meeting with Congressman Howard Berman.
A senior Iranian official at the last minute canceled a meeting with the Jewish chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) was to have met in December in Bahrain with Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament and formerly the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Larijani pulled out just before Berman was to travel, the Journal reported; it was not clear why. Berman had informed the Bush White House and the Obama transition team of his plans, the newspaper said.[...]

Berman, like his predecessor as chairman, the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), favors directly engaging Iran while maintaining its isolation until it ends its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran.
Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Iran of "consequences" unless it cooperates with United Nations nuclear inspectors.

"If Tehran does not comply with United Nations Security Council and IAEA mandates, there must be consequences," the U.S. secretary of state said Tuesday after meeting with her German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Clinton was referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog; the agency has slammed Iran for frustrating its inspections.

President Barack Obama has said he favors increased direct contact with Iran, but his advisers have also spoken of intensifying economic sanctions.

How to deal with Iran also came up in a meeting when Clinton discussed how to deal with Iran with her British counterpart, David Miliband.

Iran's launch this week of a satellite intensified concerns about its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"Iran's development of a space launch vehicle (SLV) capable of putting a satellite into orbit establishes the technical basis from which Iran could develop long-range ballistic missile systems," State Department spokesman David Wood said in a release that said the launch triggered "deep concern."

"Many of the technological building blocks involved in SLVs are the same as those required to develop long-range ballistic missiles."
I applaud DIRECTV for not running an anti-Israel advertisement.

RIP: Rabbi Noah Weinberg

The Jewish community has lost a tzaddik with the passing of Rabbi Noah Weinberg yestedday.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the founder and dean of Aish HaTorah Institutes, died at his home in Jerusalem.

Weinberg, who was treated late last year with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and who recently broke his leg and shoulder, was 78 when he died Thursday morning.

Aish HaTorah, which Weinberg founded in 1974, operates 27 full-time branches throughout the world, with 100,000 people attending its programs annually in 77 cities in 17 countries. Aish HaTorah operates a rabbinical training college at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, as well as a Hesder Yeshiva where students combine military service with Torah study.

"Rabbi Weinberg dedicated his life to bringing a renaissance within Jewish people, to reach out to every Jew and reconnect him to the depth and meaning of our heritage," a statement from Aish HaTorah read. "The Jewish people are meant to be a light unto nations; Rabbi Weinberg undertook the task to galvanize the Jewish people and inspire us to live up to our mission and be Kiddush Hashem -- to sanctify G-d's Name in this world."

Weinberg had made several attempts in the late 1960s to found a yeshiva for assimilated young men. He was a co-founder of the Ohr Somayach yeshiva for beginners and returnees to traditional Judaism.

Please pray for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg needs everyone to have her in our thoughts and prayers.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, according to a statement released by the court.

Ginsburg had no symptoms from the illness, apparently caught at an "early stage" during a routine checkup late last month, the court statement said.

Court officials said that a CT scan administered at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda detected a small tumor, "approximately 1 cm across, in the center of the pancreas."

At his regular news briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this afternoon that President Obama "has not talked with the justice, but his thoughts and prayers are with her and her family right now."

The justice, 75, has served on the court for 15 years, after being appointed by President Bill Clinton. Legal scholars consider Ginsburg a reliable liberal vote, and in her time on the bench she has fostered warm relationships with colleagues who espouse more conservative legal views.

Ginsburg will be hospitalized for another week to 10 days, attending surgeon Murray Brennan told court officials. Nine years ago, the justice was diagnosed with colon cancer, and she followed a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.

The pancreas is a six-inch gland in the abdomen that makes insulin and other hormones. Pancreatic cancer is an especially lethal disease, according to information posted on the Web site of the National Cancer Institute. It can be cured only when discovered at an early stage, before it has spread. More than 37,000 cases of pancreatic cancer were reported last year. More than 34,000 people died of the disease that year.
Please keep the justice in your thoughts and prayers.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar a comedic hit!

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) was a comedic hit last night as she brought down the house at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s dinner. Here's some highlights:
-"I’m up here telling the jokes and [satirist] Al Franken is going to be our senator. What’s wrong with this picture?"

-"I’d like to make this as short as Bill Richardson’s tenure as Commerce secretary."

-"I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends — true story! I know that is the record in the Senate, but in the house it’s held by Barney Frank." [Frank is the only openly gay member of Congress. And yes, even he laughed.]

-To the "great reporters in this room — all of whom got scooped on the John Edwards story by the National Enquirer."

-"Typically a Republican and a Democrat speak at this — you could have saved a lot of money by asking Joe Lieberman."

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had her own quips, including: "I took off my shoes, but don’t be afraid, I’m not going to be up here that long."

And, in reference to former House Rep. Rahm Emanuel — now President Obama’s chief of staff, known for having some anger issues — she said Emanuel’s new e-mail address is "bleep bleep bleep at the White House dot com." Then: "Times are so hard, when Timothy Geithner gets a call from The New York Times, he doesn’t know if it’s for a story or a bailout."
Here's another one via Political Wire:
"John Edwards is still talking about two Americas -- that was the greatest pickup line in history."
Via Politico:
She may have even been too funny. One line -- that her position as a member of the subcommittee on oceans from Minnesota was as incongruous as an ethics committee member from Illinois -- led an audience wag to crack that, "she may be on the committee on oceans for a long time."

Bernie Madoff screwed Sandy Koufax

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, a high school baseball teammate and friend of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, was among the clients who lost money investing with Bernard Madoff, according to a court filing released Wednesday night.

More than two dozen accounts involving the Mets, their owners and companies affiliated with their owners were listed, many with addresses at Shea Stadium. Koufax was the only immediately recognizable big-name player on the list.

Koufax attended Lafayette High School along with Wilpon in the 1950s and the two remain close. Koufax usually shows up each year at the Mets' spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Among the entities that had accounts with Madoff were Sterling Mets, the Mets Limited Partnership, the New York Mets Foundation and Sterling Doubleday -- the entity that owned the team when Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday were partners.

No amounts were listed in the filing, made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.[...]

The Mets have not said how much the entities and individuals have lost. Jeff Wilpon said in December the money can be replenished over time as the operating businesses generate profits.

"The individual partners lost some money at Madoff. It doesn't affect the Mets. It doesn't affect the Citi Field project. It doesn't affect SNY or any of our other operating businesses," Jeff Wilpon said.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Don't Screw with Christian Bale

Ricky Gervais is unhappy

Ricky Gervais wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama, whch you can read here or below:

Dear Mr President,

Firstly, congratulations on your historic win. I have never been so behind a candidate for what must be considered the boss of the world.

You seem to be a man of grace and integrity, who would never shirk responsibility in any way.

I'll get to the point.

As I'm sure you are aware, one of your flock has strayed. A Miss Paris Hilton, who is, I believe, a resident of Beverley Hills, is in England doing a reality game show for ITV2 called Paris Hilton's British Best Friend. Fine. I have no problem with that. I don't have to watch. But now it has come to my attention that she has bought a house in North London a few miles from me, and is out and about ingratiating herself with the Great British public.

Mr President. We are not stupid. This is clearly a retaliatory strike for Posh Spice moving to LA. I know it, and you know it, so let's cut the "it's a free country" nonsense and come to some agreement.

I propose an exchange.

This is how it would work. We call them both and tell them that we've found a giant "paparazzi nest", in New York say. (half way home for both of them already)

At first they may be confused that they'd never heard of such a thing before, but the thought of that many photographers in one place will be irresistible.

Once we get them there, while they are having their photos taken (we will have hire a few guys with cameras to make it look good) we will swap their limos around. It's fool proof.

This is a covert operation of which Mr Gordon Brown knows nothing. (I've got him working on finding a synthetic fur for The Queen's guards' bearskin hats.)

Have your people call my people. They may have to call a few times as my people are useless to be honest.

Thank you,

Ricky Gervais

Product Placement and Programming Commercial?

What's the deal with Pepsuber?
NBC entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman is pursuing other partnerships like the one that turned a recurring Saturday Night Live character into a Super Bowl pitchman for Pepsi.

Of detractors who claim the Peacock blurred the line between programming and advertising with such a deal, Silverman contends, "Those are the same people who will be out of business" if they do not adapt during this difficult economy. He also tells that NBC is in talks with other potential partners about "finding [similar] ways to use our entertainment vehicles to help their brands."

The spots, which premiered on the eve of the Super Bowl (during SNL commercial breaks), show Will Forte's MacGruber — who as of late has hit hard financial times — pimping Pepsi. The ersatz MacGyver laughs off the idea when Richard Dean Anderson (the real MacGyver) calls him on his blatant shilling.

"It wasn't a commercial for Pepsi; it was a commercial for Saturday Night Live," Silverman says, pointing out that fans of the show came away from the product placement deal with "extra" SNL content.

Silverman says the entire partnership, initiated by Pepsi, "could not have been more thought-through." He says the beverage giant reached out to NBC and specifically the creative minds at SNL to "not only create some memorable Super Bowl spots, but also to work with them on ways in which we could align our interests." SNL chief Lorne Michaels, head writer Seth Meyers and the sketch show's writing staff came back with the MacGruber/"Pepsuber" concept, "and the team at Pepsi embraced it," says Silverman.

About X3? It's bad!

Listen, I own the DVD for the sake of completion, but the movie was the worst of the three X-Men movies in the trilogy.

CBR interviewed Variety writer Tom McLean, author of Mutant Cinema: The X-Men Trilogy from Comics to Screen.
CBR: Most comic fans think they're practically experts on the X-Men films. They know with certainty, for example, that the second one is the best, and the third one is absolutely awful. What can "Mutant Cinema" tell them that they might not already know?

Tom McLean: There are a lot of things fans may not know. What makes the X-Men films landmarks of the genre is the faithfulness with which the comics were brought to the screen. This has been proven to be the right approach to making comic book movies, as proven by both the successes and failures in the genre ever since.

But "X-Men" managed to disprove the idea that superhero comics, with their vast cast of characters and interminable continuity, could never be made into movies that would appeal to the general public. That process was not easy, especially given the anemic $75 million budget the first film had. So it's useful to break down the process and examine how these films turned the vast, sprawling X-Men universe into successful films -- which elements worked exactly as they appeared in the comics and which had to be tweaked, altered, merged, or dropped entirely.

And that's exactly what "Mutant Cinema" does, making it fun for both fans of the comics and people interested in the mysterious ways of Hollywood in general (and the making of superhero movies in particular).

Is the third film really all that bad, in your opinion?

"X-Men: The Last Stand" is almost universally reviled as the worst of the X-Men films, and while I agree that it didn't live up to the standard set by "X2," I think many fans mistakenly blame director Brett Ratner, or Bryan Singer for leaving the franchise, or the writers and actors. The truth is the film was made under the most difficult of circumstances, which were dictated by the studio's need to get the film out for a predetermined release date. That film was made in almost exactly one year from start to finish and everyone who worked on it -- from Ratner to the makeup crew to the visual effects houses -- really busted their butts to get the movie done.

The result was a film that half worked -- the cure plot works very well, especially in letting the characters cut loose in the Alcatraz showdown with an energy that succeeded in a way that Singer's more restrained action sequences did not. The Dark Phoenix plot, on the other hand, just stops half way through the film and, despite the great scene between Jean and Xavier, never gets going again and limps to a finish that falls way short of the comic book version.

Understanding all the ways the comics and movies connect offers fans a new perspective on the material from both media, which is what I hope "Mutant Cinema" does. In short, the third X-Men movie isn't as good as "X2," but it is better than a lot of people are willing to give it credit for. Given how "Superman Returns" turned out, I think it's a mistake for folks to think that Singer would have done any better with a third X-Men film.

Your Wednesday morning power outage update

As of 5 a.m., Louisville Gas & Electric reports 16,000 customers are without power and Kentucky Utilities has 54,000 customers still out.
To make matters worse, the forecast is not all that friendly but like Chicago, it will be warmer this weekend.

Senate news...

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen is becoming the senior senator of her state after only serving 30 days in the United States Senate. As a result, she is going to be sitting in the late Senator Daniel Webster's desk.
In 1974 the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 469 (93rd Congress, 2nd session) introduced by New Hampshire Senator Norris Cotton. The resolution specified that the desk once used by Daniel Webster in the Senate Chamber would henceforth be assigned to the senior senator from New Hampshire. Although Webster represented Massachusetts in the Senate, he was born in New Hampshire and served that state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Webster's desk has been occupied by New Hampshire senators since the 1930s, thus honoring Daniel Webster and making the connection to his home state.
Also, Robin Carnahan has announced her intentions to run for the United States Senate from Missouri.

Internet overreacts to Bale's tirade

AICN defends Bale and I completely understand why Bale did what he did after reading that.
The scene in question, was a very emotional and tough scene between Christian Bale and Bryce Howard. A scene that required soul bearing and a deep level of immersive concentration. The sort of scene where everyone on set knows not to get in anyone's eye lines, and definitely not to move lights around while FILMING. You lock that shit down before the scene starts.

Bale had indeed warned the DP on multiple occasions about messing with lights while the cameras were rolling, and Bale was in the midst of a painful scene with Bryce, what was described to me as being the emotional center of the film and his character for the film.

Now, the reason I know all of this is because the person that was there, felt that it should be made perfectly clear that Christian Bale was the utmost gentleman and cool guy on set. And the DP really was doing something that professional DPs with experience just don't do. Not during a performance.

You don't need me to give you a link, it's all over the internet, I just felt that you should know what really went down - and that this particular outburst did indeed modify the DP's behavior - and for future DPs. Fuck with the lights before and after your actors are acting. Not during.
I'm not going to link to the video, which is highly profane and vulgar. And yes, I realize that there's a certain word that appears on the blog right now.

Bruce Franklin, a producer of the movie, defended Bale.
But Bruce Franklin, an assistant director and associate producer on the new "Terminator" (Hey, someone had to spring to his defense!) has now told E! News that Bale, whom he refers to as a "consummate professional," was not off-base in his reaction to Hurlbut’s intrusion into his scene.

"If you are working in a very intense scene and someone takes you out of your groove ... it was the most emotional scene in the movie," said Franklin. "And for him to get stopped in the middle of it. He is very intensely involved in his character. He didn't walk around like that all day long. It was just a moment and it passed.”

This is Franklin's second movie with Christian Bale.

"He is so dedicated to the craft," says Franklin to E! "I think someone is begging to make some noise about this, but I don't think it's fair. The art of acting is not paint by numbers, it's an art form."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rep. Mike Cherry to file bill to waive days

This is a good move, in my opinion, by Rep. Mike Cherry. He's filing a bill to waive up to ten make-up days due to the natural disasters Kentucky has seen this year. Nobody wants to go to classes in June, much less after Memorial Day weekend.
House Democrats said today that they plan to push a bill to waive up to 10 missed school days in districts affected by the ice storm and Hurricane Ike last fall.

Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, said he plans to file a bill tomorrow that would apply only to this school year and only to areas in which a disaster was officially declared.

The bill, however, would give the Department of Education the discretion to apply the waiver to districts in areas where disaster declarations were not granted.

“We don’t want to push the school year abnormally forward into June,” he said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he supports giving schools some relief.

The Jefferson County public schools resumed classes today after being closed for five days. Students have missed 10 days since the September storm and made up only one.

State law requires 177 six-hour days of class each academic year. Under state policy, districts that miss fewer than 20 days must make them up or add time to each school day.[...]

If the bill doesn’t pass, the last day of school in Jefferson County would be June 3.

Rep. Ron Crimm, R-Louisville, said he also plans to file a bill tomorrow to waive the missed days.
This bill will likely pass because several people plan vacations ahead of time. I'm sure teachers even plan to get married over Memorial Day weekend.

Power Outages decrease again

The lights came on for another 8,000 Louisville Gas and Electric customers today, bringing the total number without power down to 23,000.

That’s 11 percent of the peak of 205,000 without power after the ice storm that struck a week ago today.

The latest figure is down from 31,000 reported early this morning, according to the utility.

Another 54,000 Kentucky Utilities customers remain without power, about 27 percent of customers who had lost power, and down from 64,000 early this morning.

Statewide, about 256,000 customers are without power, according to Andrew Melnykovych, spokesman for the state Public Service Commission.

That includes 182,000 customers out of the more than record 700,000 in the commercial and cooperative utilities that officials were counting from the start of the storm.

UN backtracks earlier claims about school in Gaza

First and foremost, the truth is getting out there and here's some of the confirmations about Hamas abuses of citizens in Gaza:
Using schools to launch rockets.
Using food coupons to recruit people; withholding coupons from opponents.
Hijacking and selling humanitarian aid for profit.
Shooting civilians who objected to rockets being launched from their homes.
Recruiting children to store weaponry in homes and scout IDF activity along the border.
Torturing political opponents.
The truth has been exposed as far as Israel's alleged shelling of a UN school in Gaza.
Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.

Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.
As a result, the UN has backtracked on their earlier claims.
The United Nations has reversed its stance on one of the most contentious and bloody incidents of the recent Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, saying that an IDF mortar strike that killed 43 people on January 6 did not hit one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools after all.

It seems that the UN has been under pressure to put the record straight after doubts arose that the school had actually been targeted. Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, said Monday that the IDF mortar shells fell in the street near the compound, and not on the compound itself.

Gaylord said that the UN "would like to clarify that the shelling and all of the fatalities took place outside and not inside the school."

UNRWA, an agency whose sole purpose is to work with Palestinian refugees, said in response Tuesday that it had maintained from the day of attack that the wounded were outside of the school compound. UNRWA said that the source of the mistake in recent weeks had originated with a separate branch of the United Nations.

Senior IDF officials had previously expressed skepticism that the school had been struck, saying that two mortar shells could not kill 43 people and wound dozens more.

Former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdraws nomination for HHS

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) has decided to withdraw his nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, after it was discovered he didn't pay taxes over a few years.
Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, faced with problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.

"Now we must move forward," Obama said in a written statement accepting Daschle's request to be taken out of consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he "absolutely" stood by Daschle.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, said he would have not been able to operate "with the full faith of Congress and the American people."

"I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction" to Obama's agenda, he said.

His stunning statement came less than three hours after another Obama nominee also withdrew from consideration, and also over tax problems. Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be the government's first chief performance officer, said she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to be a distraction.

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Daschle's former Democratic colleagues had rallied to his defense in the wake of questions about a series of tax issues. Last month, Daschle paid $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest.

"Tom made a mistake, which he has openly acknowledged," Obama said. "He has not excused it, nor do I. But that mistake and this decision cannot diminish the many contributions Tom has made to this country."

Daschle also was facing questions about potential conflicts of interests related to the speaking fees he accepted from health care interests. Daschle also provided advice to health insurers and hospitals through his post-Senate work at a law firm.

The withdrawal comes after Republicans and major newspapers questioned Obama's decision to stick with Daschle.

Power Outages decrease in Kentucky

Louisville Gas & Electric reports 31,000 customers are without power as of 5 a.m. today, down from more than 50,000 yesterday.

Kentucky Utilities has 64,000 still without power in other parts of the state.

At the peak of the outages, LG&E had 205,000 and Kentucky Utilities had about 199,000 customers without power. Both companies are operated by parent company E.On U.S.

Michael Phelps gets a free pass

How in the fricking heck does Michael Phelps get a free pass? Here's some of the official statements that have been made.
IOC: "Michael Phelps is a great Olympic champion. He apologized for his inappropriate behavior. We have no reason to doubt his sincerity and his commitment to continue to act as a role model."

USA Swimming: "We are certainly disappointed in Michael's behavior. Our Olympic champions are role models who are looked up to by people of all ages, especially young athletes who have their own aspirations and dreams. That said, we realize that none among us is perfect. We hope Michael can learn from this incident and move forward in a positive way."

Speedo (which gave Phelps a $1 million bonus for his 8 gold medals): "In light of Michael Phelps' statement yesterday, Speedo would like to make it clear it does not condone such behavior, and we know that Michael truly regrets his actions. Michael Phelps is a valued member of the Speedo team and a great champion. We will do all that we can to support him and his family."

Omega: the Associated Press reported the watch company was "strongly committed" to its relationship with Phelps. "The current story in the press involves Michael Phelps' private life and is, as far as Omega is concerned, a non-issue."
Here's the statement released by the United States Olympic Committee:
We are disappointed in the behavior recently exhibited by Michael Phelps.

Michael is a role model, and he is well aware of the responsibilities and accountability that come with setting a positive example for others, particularly young people. In this instance, regrettably, he failed to fulfill those responsibilities.

Michael has acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized for his actions.

We are confident that, going forward, Michael will consistently set the type of example we all expect from a great Olympic champion.
Here is the statement that was released by Phelps:
"I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public – it will not happen again."
I'm extremely disappointed in his behavior.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Meet Colorado's newest Senator

Some background of newly appointed Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
Bennet, 44, has begun to publicly speak about his own family's story of struggle - about how his grandparents fled Warsaw after World War II and how his mother, not yet a teenager, was the only one who spoke English when they finally found their way to New York in 1950.

"It's not the same, but we share an immigrant experience," he told an audience in Alamosa, when asked his views on immigration.

He could, but does not, go into the more dramatic details: How his Jewish grandparents, imprisoned in the notorious Warsaw Ghetto, smuggled his mother - then a baby - out to the country through an underground network.

How his grandmother was able to escape with nuns and found refuge in their convent.

How his grandfather hid in different parts of the ghetto until German SS troops showed up to liquidate it and force inhabitants into labor camps.

"They lost most of their family," said Bennet's younger brother, James Bennet. "My grandfather came from a very large family, and it was almost entirely wiped out. My mother had experiences that are hard to imagine when she was very, very small."[...]

Under Jewish doctrine, Judaism is passed down through the mother. Bennet is Jewish because his mother is. But even in Poland, the Klejmans were not observant, and he did not grow up practicing that religious tradition.

His father, Douglas J. Bennet, is Christian but also did not actively worship.

"I was raised with two different heritages, one was Jewish and one was Christian," Michael Bennet said. "I am proud that both heritages are part of me, and I believe in God."[...]

It's uncertain how involved the U.S. Senate might become in the chronic dispute in the Middle East. James Bennet, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times and now editor of The Atlantic, said his brother's votes, not his past, are more likely to determine whether he draws funds or fire from national groups involved in that issue.

Monday power outage update

Numbers in Louisville and the rest of the state continue to decrease.
As of 5 a.m. today, about 138,000 customers were still without power within the E.On U.S. service area, spokesman Brian Phillips reported.

That includes 56,000 for Louisville Gas & Electric and about 82,000 for Kentucky Utilities.

He said so far 149,000 LG&E customers and 117,000 Kentucky Utilities have had their power restored.
The storm cleanup will cost the state around $45 million.
Gov. Steve Beshear says he will ask President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster in Kentucky, which will open the state to immediate federal financial assistance in the wake of last week’s devastating ice storm.

The governor said the cost of cleanup now exceeds $45 million, the threshold for receiving a major disaster declaration, and is rising.

At its height, the storm knocked out power to more than 700,000 Kentucky homes and businesses, a state record.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

JCPS closed on Monday, open on Tuesday

Here's the latest on what's happening this week with JCPS:
here will be no school Monday in the Jefferson County Public Schools tomorrow.

Bullitt County schools also will be closed Monday.

Oldham County schools will be open Monday.

Officials in Jefferson County are telling students and parents to expect school to be in session Tuesday morning and that Monday will be used as a "preparation day."

Power has been restored to all but one school in the district and that building currently has a generator, Michael Mulheirn, executive director of facilities and transportation for JCPS said this afternoon. At the peak of the outages, 68 schools were without power.
Latest on the power outages:
LG&E customers without power -- 95,000
Total outages statewide -- 362,466