Saturday, April 5, 2008



Thanks to
www.neatorama.com for this bit of cool:

That is Claud the Kung Fu bear from Hiroshima City, Japan. You can see another video here, and here is Claud’s story:

A bear at a zoo in Hiroshima City, western Japan, is drawing applause from visitors with his performance of twirling a stick.

Claud, a male Asiatic black bear at Asa Zoo, began twirling a branch when he was playing with it 5 years ago. The zoo operator says that the bear stopped the twirling after he grew up but resumed it 2 months ago.

This day, he used his mouth to pick up a stick like a pole weighing about 5 kilograms - his recent favorite — and handled it intensely with his hands, legs and neck.

Visitors said they were surprised to watch such a large bear handle the stick so skillfully.

His breeder said he doesn’t know why the bear likes to twirl sticks but his performance is really powerful.

These silky skills could have levelled the playing field in Sonny Chiba’s
Karate Bearfighter and given the title a second meaning too. Of course we always knew bears can kick ass, but it is nice to see it for real.

Link (with another video news report)

Friday, April 4, 2008



Tanner at
www.doubleosection.blogspot.com brings us the tip off that following Sony's recent announcement of the Nineties revival series of Get Smart on DVD, Universal completes the Smart saga by announcing the single, elusive title that has remained unavailable. On June 17, they'll release the 1980 theatrical feature The Nude Bomb starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart. DVDActive has the details.

The Nude Bomb (which didn't feature any other cast members besides Adams) is for completist only. I’ve only seen one sequel less funny and that was Steve Martins abismal Pink Panther outing.

Tanner also tells us the new film unfortunately does not live up to the promis of its cast or trailers, which is a big disappointment. However, at least its existence has resulted in a complete library of classic Get Smart on DVD! That would be comprised of TimeLife's comprehensive complete series box set, The Nude Bomb, Get Smart Again and the Nineties Get Smart.

That means that three separate studios will be releasing Get Smart DVDs to cash in on the new Steve Carrell film's opening: Sony with the revival, Universal with The Nude Bomb, and Warner Bros. with the direct-to-DVD sequel/companion movie Get Smarter: Bruce and Lloyd Out of CONTROL.


Thanks to our blog buddy www.hemingwayslounge.blogspot.com for this tip:

The Friday April 4th,2008, edition of USA Today brings a ton of coverage from the set of the forthcoming James Bond actioner Quantum of Solace, in Chile's Atacama desert.

The 22nd Bond flick is halfway through shooting - Panama and Baja scenes are complete, Chile is about to wrap, with Italy, Austria and finally London's famed Pinewood Studios left to be shot.

The action sequence covered by USA Today features current Bond Daniel Craig hightailing it at full speed along the rooftop of a long, narrow building firing a prop gun into mirrored skylights below. Bond will shatter the skylights and plunge down atop the fleeing villain - tycoon Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). Not helping is an impending explosion that will kill various innocent lives.

About the new film, Craig is quoted as saying, "[Bond] has his heart broken. The love of his life is killed, and he finds out she's not who she said she was. … He's out for revenge. But he's also out to find — and this is what the title is about — a 'quantum of solace.' Something has been taken away from him, and he's out to get that back."

Though largely separate from one another, Bond films have had some continuity in the past - most notably during Sean Connery's six film run. This however is a true sequel to 2006's Casino Royale, with Bond working his way up the chain of command of the terrorists who blackmailed Vesper. It's been revealed the organisation mentioned in Casino now has a name - Quantum - hence the dopey title.

Producer Michael G. Wilson admits they plan to keep the continuity going for now with an evolving Bond, but sometime in the future filmmakers might go back to stand-alone plots. He also admits there's no romance angle in the movie with Bond only having a one-night fling with another MI6 agent (Gemma Arterton).

For a stunning slide show with a plethora of more pics from USA Today, click HERE




When I first started reading mysteries, I eschewed the old fashioned Agatha Christie school of writing in favor of a strictly hardboild diet. With age and (hopefully) maturity, tastes change and I am delighting in the personal discovery of the mystery classics.

With an hour plus commute every morning and afternoon, I also have the perfect opportunity to listen to these classics read by some of the best voices in the business. Recently I’ve been enjoying a number of Hercule Poirot mysteries read by Hugh Fraser, who played the part of Captain Hastings (Poirot’s Watson) opposite David Suchet in the seminal BBC TV series.

MRS. MCGINTY’S DEAD is a title with imperfect grammar, but the novel itself has the perfect Christy setup:

Mrs. McGinty, a local charwoman (maid) was murdered by a conk on the head and her small savings were then stolen from under the floorboards of her residence. Her unlikable lodger has been arrested for the dastardly deed, convicted, and is sentenced to hang.

The lead detective on the case, however, has a gut feeling he didn’t get the right man. Unable to buck justice on a personal whim, he turns to his old friend Hercule Poirot for help. Exercising his trademark little gray cells, Poirot methodically sorts the clues, turning them on their heads, to discover a totally different view of the crime.

All of the clichés of the classic mystery are here, but what must be done is recognize it was Christie who was responsible for either establishing or solidifying so many of the clichés associated with the mystery genre.

From Christie, I moved on to Dorothy L. Sayers’ original Lord Peter Whimsey novel, WHOSE BODY. By the half-way point, I was amazed to discover the novel could have been entitled C.S.I. – LONDON! Lord Peter and his manservant, the acerbic Bunter, could run rings around Grissom and his crew of scientific Johnny-come-latelys.

Like Christie, Sayers both established and plays with the conventions of the genre, but what is even more surprising is the sly/dry sense of humor both authors display. While Sayers wryly tweaks the nose of social conventions, Christie is just as subtle with her use of self-parody. Her author character (often thought to be Christie’s alter ego), Ariadne Oliver is always a hoot, but never more than in THE HALLOWEEN PARTY.

Oliver's comments on her hated Finnish detective, fans, and other people who could easily write a book if only they had the time are hilarious.
I was also struck by competent light in which they show their police characters. Unlike the film and television adaptations of their works, in which the police and sidekick characters are portrayed as dolts, both authors treat their police characters with respect. They also make an attempt to follow the police procedures of the day – they just aren’t making things up as they go along.

It is also interesting to read the books in the context of their times, seeing how little our attitudes about sex and violence have progressed. Again in The Halloween Party, Christie writes about a twelve and fifteen year old characters being overtly sexualized, which is interesting as we have a tendency to think of that phenomenon as a product of our own sordid times.

My only real criticism of these novels is their disposability. While the outcomes are extremely clever, the fun is simply in the journey to the final destination. Once there, there is nothing to stay with a reader or make them think about any larger issues. They are entertainments, nothing more. On the other hand, they don’t profess to be anything else.


I’ve also been spending some time catching up with teen super spy Alex Rider. Both SCORPIA and ARK ANGEL live up to their action packed predecessors. The continuity of these novels is very tight, each picking up very shortly after the last ended.

In Scorpia, still reeling from the terrible discovery he has made about his father, teenage MI6 spy, Alex Rider, is determined to find out more. Traveling to Venice, he manages to infiltrate the glamorous world of Julia Rothman, beautiful society hostess and member of the international criminal organization, Scorpia. Rothman reveals Alex’s father was murdered by MI6, in an operation masterminded by Head of Special Operations, Mrs. Jones. Shocked and mad, Alex faces a choice: to continue to work with the British security services, or to become an agent for Scorpia and get revenge.

Ark Angel picks up immediately after the shocking ending of Scorpia (thank goodness I didn’t have to wait a year to get to this next book in the series). Alex is in a hospital and determined to put his spying days behind him. But he is forced back into action when the vicious terrorist group Force Three takes him prisoner when he purposely impersonates another young patient. Alex makes his escape – yet his most perilous adventure is only just beginning. Alex must stop Force Three in their attempt to destroy Russian billionaire Nikolei Drevin and his revolutionary space hotel Ark Angel.

These are outlandish adventures, having more in common with the James Bond movies than the original Fleming books they emulate. Yet their construction and execution manage to update all the things we loved about the Bond books and deliver them to a new generation.

The prose is crisp, the plotting tight, and Alex is a very likable hero. There is also a welcome dark edge to these tales – espionage is a dirty world and despite all the gimmicks, gadgets, and hair-breadth escapes, it is a world of cynicism and death. Alex reflects those characteristics and pays a price for doing so.

While I enjoyed the first book in this chick-lit version of Harry Potter colliding with Sex In The City, the sequel, Once Upon Stilettos, started off a bit rocky for me. The enjoyment of discovery in the first book suffered in book two from more of the same syndrome.

The scenario – a totally ordinary twenty-something small town girl finds herself mixed up in Manhattan’s magical business world because she is so non-magical magic doesn’t work on her – is still charming, but the magic of the scenario is no longer surprising, threatening to make the story, well…ordinary. However, by the middle of the book, author Shanna Swendson, finds her way back to controlling the story and recaptures the magic in time to resolve everything in a most satisfactory manner.

I’m now looking forward to the third entry in the series, which is working it’s way up my to be read pile.



Looks like the web site Geek Like Me was the victim of their own April Fools joke. Think Geek displayed an April Fools Day ad for a product that didn’t exist. The Personal Soundtrack Shirt has a built-in speaker and can play various mood themes to make your real life as dramatic as a movie. The item proved to be so popular that they are now scrambling to produce a real shirt! Link

Per Geek Like Me, "the Personal Soundtrack T-Shirt was originally an April Fool's Prank... but due to overwhelming positive response and hundreds of e-mails screaming to "make the damn shirt already" we're putting the item in to production ASAP. Keep in mind our army of robotic factory monkeys are a bit slow, and it might take them some time to make the real version of this nifty product. Also although we'll try to keep the Personal Soundtrack T-Shirt as close as possible to what you see here, the final version might deviate slightly in appearance, features or price. Capiche?"



Blog buddy www.billcrider.blogspot.com tips us off to Tor Books interview with Destroyer authors Warren Murphy and Jim Mullaney up at The Destroyer Club.

I read many of these books growing up and still have a soft spot for them. Despite all their silliness, there is an undercurrent of spot on political and social commentary – plus they are really funny!



David Foster and Friends, a tribute to the celebrated composer/producer featuring Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli and others, takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 23. Tickets are $175 and $275 and go on sale at noon Saturday at the Mandalay Bay box office, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, and Ticketmaster outlets.

I’d kill (or at least maim) to be at this event as I think it’s going to be a great show – a lot of artists I might not go and see in a full concert, but would really enjoy seeing them perform a short set of songs, and a lot of artists who I’d sit through several complete concerts one right after the other.

Thursday, April 3, 2008



Not necessarily yet. Words is he's reading a script based on the hit 80's TV show that starred Tom Selleck as the OG PI.

From ComingSoon.Net

Entertainment Weekly reports that Matthew McConaughey has been offered the role of Thomas Magnum in Universal Pictures' adaptation of "Magnum P.I.," based on the hit '80s TV series that starred Tom Selleck.

McConaughey is reportedly reading the script from writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) and will decide shortly.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008



I don’t care if this an April Fools joke being perpetrated by our blog buddy over at
http://www.hemingwayslounge.blogspot.com/ it’s absolutely too good to let pass by. Being that whispers of this broke over the weekend, it may be less likely to be an April Fool's joke. Then again, who knows?
According to Ace Showbiz, the so-called retired Sean Connery says he wouldn't mind coming back to the film franchise he helped build as none other than a villain.

Typical Connery, though - it's all about the benjamins. Says Connery: "I wouldn't mind coming back as a Bond villain. But I don't think they would pay me enough. They don't pay the money for other parts, only for the Bond character, although that wasn't the case when I was doing it."

Meanwhile, Ford has negotiated a $36 million deal to have their little Ka Zetec Climate model featured in the upcoming Bond film "Quantum of Solace". Current Bond Daniel Craig will be seen driving the sensible car in the opening scenes of the forthcoming film before returning to his usual Aston Martin sports car.



In a recent press release, LIFE announced it is proud to release Remembering Sinatra: 10 Years Later, in remembrance of the 10th Anniversary of the death of legendary singer, actor and larger-than-life personality Frank Sinatra. Remembering Sinatra: 10 Years Later recaptures the magic of Sinatra’s life with many never-before seen photos, giving readers a chance to immerse themselves into the world of "Ol’ Blue Eyes" once again – with an even deeper insight than before.

An exceptional talent on the microphone or the big screen, Sinatra epitomized what it meant to be a celebrity. With a swagger that drove women wild, a presence that men aspired to duplicate and charisma that still draws fans today, Sinatra was more than just another Hollywood talent. He was a legend, an enigma – both a relatable and untouchable idol.

The new and expanded edition of this retrospective memoir and photo compilation includes an introduction by Tony Bennett, long-time friend and contemporary of Sinatra. Bennett’s introduction undoubtedly depends the understanding of a man special so many know, but so few know well. "He was an Everyman. He ran the gamut of emotions," reminisces Bennett, in "Remembering Sinatra: 10 Years Later." "Sinatra conquered every aspect of his world. He wore the two masks of theatre – the comedy, the tragedy. Underneath it all, he was a very, very sensitive, nice person."

Remembering Sinatra: 10 Years Later also contains never-before-seen photographs, including those of noted photojournalist John Dominis. Dominis, on assignment from LIFE in the late 60’s, spent months with Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack to create this gorgeous and compelling photo essay.

The Dominis photographs in Remembering Sinatra: 10 Years Later are accompanied for the first time by celebrated writer Gay Talese’s now-famous profile, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. In 1966, writing for Esquire magazine, Talese offered a remarkably personal glimpse into Sinatra’s world and captured Sinatra’s seemingly contradictory presence. The pairing of Dominis’ photo essay with Talese’s profile results in a rich and all-encompassing reflection of the life and legend that was Sinatra.

Remembering Sinatra: 10 Years Later hits the shelves May 6, 2008.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008





Thanks to Tanner over at http://www.doubleosection.com/ for the tip off regarding Variety’s announcement of once of the strangest marketing decisions I’ve come across in a long time. Apparently Johnny Depp has acquired the rights to produce and star in a big screen remake of a classic (and I use the term loosely) British TV (ITC) show Jason King.

The show was a spin off from the far more impressive Department S espionage series – itself created to jump on The Avengers bandwagon. The star of the spin-off series was the lanky, oddball Peter Wyngarde who somehow gained cult status (especially in Australia) for his portrayal of the flamboyant (to say the least) Jason King. Scary facial hair and a hairdo which looked he was wearing an electrified rodent on his head, along with a ‘70s ruffled wardrobe considered cocky and cool for all of fifteen minutes are all I can remember of this show.

Variety claims Depp's frequent collaborator Tim Burton is favored to direct, so I’ll probably plunk down my ticket money just to see all the weirdness for myself – but have we gone so far down the remake road that this is the best we can expect?

Monday, March 31, 2008



As it must to all men, death came today to the great Jules Dassin at age 96. A Greek-descended, Hollywood-employed, highly-rated noir director, Dassin was blacklisted in 1949 only to bounce back with Rififi ('55), the greatest heist film ever made. (Rififi was actually released in France in '54.)

The Paris-based melodrama re-ignited Dassin's career and led to subsequent hits such as He Who Must Die ('57), the lightly comedic heist film Topkapi ('64), Phaedra ('62),and the legendary Never on Sunday ('60). He also directed Uptight ('68 -- a Harlem-based remake of John Ford's The Informer), Promise at Dawn ('70), The Rehearsal ('74) and Circle of Two ('80).

Dassin's noteworthy Hollywood-era films include Brute Force ('47), The Naked City ('48) and Night and the City ('50). Forget noteworthy -- these three are essential if you haven't yet seen them.

To read more from Hollywood Elsewhere, click:




The web site
www.zap2it.com The "Women's Murder Club" is returning to ABC, but that will necessitate the movement of a couple of shows currently on the network's schedule.

The show, based on James Patterson's novels, will return to the ABC schedule with three new episodes at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday, April 29. And unlike its mediocre Friday-night timeslot earlier this season, the show will get a prime place on the schedule following the "Dancing with the Stars" results show.

The scheduling of "Women's Murder Club" on Tuesdays means that "Boston Legal," which resumes its season next week, will slide to Wednesday nights at 10 starting April 30. That, in turn, will bump "Men in Trees" from the schedule for several weeks. It will return Wednesday, May 28 for the final three episodes of its season.

"Women's Murder Club" stars Angie Harmon, Laura Harris, Aubrey Dollar and Paula Newsome as the titular club, a detective, prosecutor, reporter and medical examiner who pool their resources to solve murders. The show averaged about 9 million viewers a week during its run on Friday nights in the fall.

When the show returns, it will have a new showrunner in "Law & Order" and "ER" veteran Robert Nathan. He took over for creators Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft and executive producer R. Scott Gemmill, who were let go during the writers' strike. Patterson, Joe Simpson and Brett Ratner will remain as exec producers.



www.k1bond007.com reports Penguin, the publisher for the new Bond novel by Sebastian Faulks, Devil May Care, launched Penguin007.com today – adding a number of features to the site beyond simply the cover art for Devil May Care.

Unfortunately, most of the information on the site has previously been reported on other sites such as
CommanderBond.net, the official Ian Fleming Centenary website, or YoungBond.com. It is also somewhat awkward to navigate. With all the interest being raise by Devil May Care, Penguin really needed to take more care with this site. Still, it’s worth poking around in the site just to say you did.



Those of you who enjoy reading while reclining in the tub might enjoy this look at a bathtub bookshelf designed just for you...

Biblio by Antonio Lupi is a Corian Rectangular bathtub, complete with back rest and automatic drainage and combined bath spout and overflow.



I’m just finishing up the last two episodes of the second series of this inventive British cop show. The twists and turns have been more than satisfying, and I have been assurred the final episode will not dissappoint.

Below is a review from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald regarding the DVD release there of series two (I’ve been viewing and Tivo-ing it on BBC America).

This time-shifting British cop series maintains a dark edge that keeps farce at bay.

This show shouldn’t really work. It’s another bloody British cop series, with bad haircuts, rubbish cars and thin plot lines full of daft coincidence. Yet it does work, deliciously, for several good reasons.

The central conceit, that after a car accident in the present copper Sam Tyler wakes up in the 1970s, is a drawcard the writers make the most of, particularly for viewers who recall the good old days of The Sweeney and The Professionals (actual ‘70s British cop shows). Then there’s the marvellous John Simm as DI Tyler, in perfect odd-couple pairing with Philip Glenister as DCI Gene Hunt, and their motley crew of underlings.

It looks like a show that’s a lot of fun to make but despite the giggles at ’70s excesses, it maintains a darker edge that keeps farce at bay. Those who missed it on TV can now catch up with series one and two on DVD.

Online Article link



It appears Jason Statham (my current favorite action star) will be reviving his Transporter character Frank Martin for a third installment. While Transporter 2 did not measure up to the first, there were still some brilliant set pieces. Physics, gravity, an common sense are phrases with which these films are not familiar – still, they are pure fun for action fans.

Two of my favorite scenes are when Statham takes on a cluster of henchemen on a garage floor covered with an oil slick with bike pedals on his feet (one of those ‘you gotta see it’ moments), and when Statham takes on another cluster of ever present henchemen with a fire hose.

The blog Always Watching has compiled the top 10 most outrageous moments from the firt two films, which are well worth viweing.