July 12, 2008
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
How did such a great movie disappear from view as soon as it came out last year?
Tight, compelling and powerful, this story twists and turns into territory best left unexplored for most of us, most of the time.
I mean, that's why they invented movies, isn't it?
To let us go places that, for one reason or another, are off-limits?
Anyhoo, as clifyt is fond of saying... here you get Philip Seymour Hoffman and his seductively alluring voice, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and Albert Finney careening against one another in a film well worth seeing.
I watched it on DVD last night and only just a moment ago saw it's come out on Blu-ray since I purchased it a few weeks ago.
Did I mention before that I love HD movies on disc?
You never see TV at 1080p — the best available currently on cable or satellite is 1080i — so the only way you'll ever know just how good a picture can be is watching a movie or whatever on disc.
From the website:
- The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is a beautiful, simple solution to a real everyday problem.
A place to put the multitude of personal items we all carry around so they are easily located again when later needed — and always fully charged.
The simple and compact design conceals a universal charger compatible with over 1500 electronic devices from most major brands and a USB port allowing hundreds more electronic devices to be charged using just The Sanctuary.
Users can from now on charge their cell phone, PDA, Blackberry, iPod, MP3 player and Bluetooth headset simultaneously in one location.
A Charging Station designed for daily use at the bedside table, kitchen counter, office desk, etc, The Sanctuary performs its functions with ease and elegance.
The Sanctuary never truly reveals its multi-purpose electronic capabilities so the user develops an emotional attachment, as it becomes personalized and integral to one’s daily routine.
Black or White.
Everybody Was Cane Fu Fighting
Above, "Granny C. Takes on the BulletMan!"
Jennifer Levitz's entertaining front page story in today's Wall Street Journal spills the beans on the new new thing in retirement homes everywhere.
Long story short: Mark Shuey, a 61-year-old tae kwon do and hapkido expert who founded Cane Masters, an Incline Village, Nevada school for senior cane fighting, is the driving force behind the rise of the white-haired stick artists.
"Cane-fighting converts say one of the best things about the cane is that it's a legal weapon that can be carried anywhere — unconcealed. No one will tell you you can't take it on an airplane...." wrote Levitz.
FunFact: According to the Transportation Security Agency, "baseball bats, cricket bats, bows and arrows, golf clubs, hockey sticks, pool cues, axes, hatchets, cattle prods, crowbars, billy clubs, brass knuckles, meat cleavers, ice picks, pellet guns, stun guns, spear guns, saws, swords, sabers and snow globes are also allowed — but they must ride in the luggage compartment."
Here's the article.
- Everybody Is 'Cane Fu' Fighting At Senior Centers, So Watch Out
Older People Get Healthful Exercise And Learn to Wield a Ready Weapon
The St. Leonard retirement village here has a whole new way of thinking about recreation: Bingo has made way for cane fighting.
"Down on top of the head and up between the groin!" urges instructor Debra Stewart, of nearby Chung's Academy of Martial Arts, commanding a dozen gray-haired students swinging canes at imaginary attackers. "Stomp him! Dig it in there. Do it hard!"
Jim Ghory, an 82-year-old retired toolmaker, volunteers to take a few demonstration shots at Ms. Stewart, who has a black belt in tae kwon do, a Korean martial-arts discipline. "You want [it in] the collarbone or the ribs?" he asks.
Senior centers and retirement communities are looking for new ways to promote exercise in order to stave off physical decline. Older people interested in honing their self-defense skills, meanwhile, are delighted to find that something they already own can be used as a weapon.
"Oh my gosh, it's a huge hit," says Lena Mast, manager at Lodges at Naylor Mill, an independent-living complex for seniors in Salisbury, Md. Ms. Mast began offering cane classes for residents in April and says "it's now the top thing they look forward to."
Mitchell's Martial Arts, the school hired by Lodges, says it is teaching cane fighting at five senior centers a week, up from one last year, and also has been demonstrating the cane at local health fairs. Cane Masters, in Incline Village, near Reno, Nev., one of a number of schools that report rising demand from seniors, expects to teach 110 cane-fighting classes around the country this year.
Martial Oceans International, a California cruise company, is planning to offer its first classes in cane fighting on a trip to Mexico this month. On YouTube, a video titled "Granny C. Takes on the BulletMan!" shows an agile woman in her seventies jabbing and taking down a man in a helmet pretending in a cane class to be an intruder.
Many credit the rise of cane fighting to Mark Shuey, a 61-year-old tae kwon do and hapkido expert who owns Cane Masters. Mr. Shuey started studying cane moves in earnest about 10 years ago while practicing hapkido, which incorporates stick fighting at advanced levels. At the time, his father was starting to use a walking stick, and he had heard reports of attacks on seniors who carried canes but didn't know how to use them to fight back. By 2003, the Canadian magazine Martial Arts Experts was calling canes "the weapon you can take anywhere." Cane fighting, also called "combat" cane or "cane fu," has been endorsed by at least eight martial-arts organizations.
Instructors say any kind of cane is fine for self-defense, including aluminum canes or the wooden canes made of pine available at the drugstore. But best are hard-wood canes made of hickory or oak that don't easily break on impact.
Mr. Shuey travels the world teaching his "American Cane System" curriculum to other martial-arts teachers. He says that in two years the number of instructors who teach it has tripled to about 300.
The cane has a rich history as a weapon, notably in the U.S. Capitol. A number of 19th-century canings at the Capitol included a brutal 1856 attack on the Senate floor by South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks on abolitionist Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner, who had mocked a relative of Mr. Brooks in a speech. Mr. Sumner was carried away unconscious and bleeding. It took him years to recover.
Most of the seniors who take cane classes rarely wield them against anyone. But Bill Carter, a 56-year-old who took a class from Mr. Shuey in Florida a few years ago, says the instruction came in handy one day in April last year when he walked into his house in suburban Jacksonville to find an intruder in his kitchen taking TV dinners from the freezer. As the man approached him, "I popped him on the kneecap," Mr. Carter says, and "hooked him behind the neck, and was able to guide him to the door."
Cane-fighting converts say one of the best things about the cane is that it's a legal weapon that can be carried anywhere, unconcealed. "No one will tell you can't take it on an airplane," says Victor Cushing, a 68-year-old who teaches women's self-defense at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania.
The Department of Homeland Security says it does allow canes as carry-ons on planes. "Just like we allow walkers or crutches," says Carrie Harmon, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, a division of the department. But, she cautions, all these devices "have to go through the X-ray machine."
According to the agency, baseball bats, cricket bats, bows and arrows, golf clubs, hockey sticks, pool cues, axes, hatchets, cattle prods, crowbars, billy clubs, brass knuckles, meat cleavers, ice picks, pellet guns, stun guns, spear guns, saws, swords, sabers and snow globes are also allowed — but they must ride in the luggage compartment.
Mr. Cushing doesn't need a cane for support but totes one everywhere. His repertoire of moves includes "bopping" the fragile bones on top of the foot ("now you've got an attacker who's limping away"), or whipping it against the shins ("hurts like the devil").
Senior centers refer to cane classes as a gentle form of exercise. But Mr. Cushing worries that some instructors are teaching overly fancy moves that could make older people lose their balance. Swinging the cane against the shins is one thing, he says, but "if you actually need the cane for balance, you can't be swinging it in the air." You'll fall over.
Carol Vincent, an 85-year-old retired teacher, joined the classes at St. Leonard's, in Centerville, to feel safer on her daily walks in the woods. Ms. Vincent says she realized her own strength in an exercise where she had to use her cane to break the grip of a classmate who grabbed her from behind. "I think I hurt one woman," she said. "She's never been back; I shouldn't have pulled the cane so hard."
John Myers, 66 and retired from a plant that made oil seals, was grabbed around the neck in a mock attack by Ms. Stewart's fellow instructor, Bob Dempsey. Mr. Myers's face reddened. He could feel himself getting angry. "I wanted to hit him," Mr. Myers said later.
Instead, he used his cane to pull down and break his attacker's grip. Ms. Stewart coached, "Stomp on his foot, which is going to create some pain!" He did. Then, as taught, Mr. Myers jabbed the cane's tip behind him, into Mr. Dempsey's ribs. Mr. Dempsey fell back, feigning defeat, but later he described Mr. Myers as "ferocious."
"He could take me down," Mr. Dempsey said.
But wait, there's more — it's solar-powered.
Bonus: It dispenses pool chemicals.
From the website:
- Solar Pool Skimmer
Our intelligent Solar Pool Skimmer simultaneously cleans and dispenses chemicals — without batteries or wires.
Just add pool chemicals to the robotic skimmer's reservoir and it distributes them as it swims.
And since this surface skimmer runs on sunlight you can let it work all day for free.
• Runs on solar power alone — costs nothing to operate
• No batteries to replace or inconvenient cords to wind
• Slowly rotating paddlewheels scoop up surface film
• Cleans and dispenses chemicals simultaneously
• Saves up to 66% of pool electricity costs
• Allows for the use of 33% less chlorine
• 20"W x 23"D x 6-1/2"H
Bruce Conner, master of found footage cinema, is dead at 74
The legendary filmmaker-without-camera and "consummate cult artist" died last Monday at his home in San Francisco.
Conner's work beginning in the 1950s showed the way to what decades later became MTV-style video and the mashup mentality of the 21st century.
Many believe he was an artist on par with Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, yet Conner disdained promotion, at times leaving his name off his works, passing them off under the name of his friend Dennis Hopper, or promoting them at exhibits as "Works by the Late Bruce Conner."
"Breakaway," the 1966 film up top, stars Toni Basil.
his 1978 short for Devo entitled "Mongoloid."
An appraisal by Times film critic Manohla Dargis appears in today's paper.
In an companion story Dargis wrote about where to find his elusive work, both online and in the real world.
Noodling around YouTube for examples I came across the piece below,
entitled "Erasing Dreamland (Accidentally Erased Bruce Conner)."
Mark Charles Brown, who posted it on November 29, 2006, had this to say about it:
"'Erasing Dreamland' was created using found footage from YouTube in order to forge a digital homage to the analog techniques of the artist and film maker Bruce Conner, specifically his film 'Take The 5-10 To Dreamland.'
"The creation of this film lead to the erasure of Bruce Conner's film from the YouTube network, 'due to its content being used without the artist's permission.'
"Furthermore, the copyright management status of the video enters an even stranger space upon the realization that both films were created using found footage. Conner was notorious as an artist for using found footage in his films that he would obtain at thrift shops and secondhand stores (Bruce Conner Oral History). The digital recreation of 'Take The 5-10 To Dreamland' was created by searching through the metadata associated with videos on YouTube and sorting through the resulting clips for bits and pieces that would sync in time with Bruce Conner's film."
If you still haven't had enough, hey, there's a girl you should go see who'll take you where you need to go.
Belt Clip Duct Tape Dispenser
For those who like to have their duct tape always at hand.
Everyone knows someone for whom this item would be a dream come true.
Belt Clip Duct Tape Dispenser
Can be permanently mounted or worn on belt
The one item most responsible for having snatched countless projects from the jaws of disaster, not to mention saving more than a few marriages, now has a dispenser.
This heavy-duty dispenser, which includes a mounting bracket, makes working with duct tape easy.
Fits any standard roll of tape with a 3 inch core and up to two inch width.
Although designed for heavy duty duct tape, the Tape Wrangler will work beautifully with house wrap tape, gaffer's tape, masking tape and even shipping tape.
Changing rolls of tape is quick and easy — no special tools needed, just twist apart and pop out the old roll and pop in the new.
Great for craft projects with lots of colored tape!
The dispenser can be permanently mounted on a wall or under a cabinet or workbench so you can find it fast.
The quick-release lever lets you remove it from its mounting and take with you to the job site.
Made of durable polycarbonate with a high carbon steel blade — get clean, straight cuts of duct tape every time.
A handy belt clip keeps it close by and ready whenever needed.
Keeps hands free to carry supplies to project site.
The metal cutting blade insures straight, even cuts.
Accommodates up to a 70 yard roll of 2” tape.
Lynn Hill on Climbing
Though I'm rather scared of heights, I'm fascinated by those who aren't.
Should you wish to hear more there are links to a number of her Podcasts on her blog.
This looks like an excellent addition to anyone's vehicle.
From the website:
- Seat Assist
"Up and out" back seat assist.
Simply hook to the back of the front seat headrests.
Now it's a breeze for seniors to get in and out of the car.
Long enough to hold onto with both hands, yet compact enough to take with you from car to car.
Set of two.
How 'bout anyone on the planet, especially in two-door vehicles where you have to tip the front seats forward before you begin the process of becoming a human sardine?