Dave Stancliff 2013-06-16 blogarama.com

Saturday, June 22, 2013

As It Stands blog: Let’s Celebrate Lunar Largness tonight!

    Good Day World!

The biggest, brightest full moon of the year shines in the sky tonight and Sunday night (at it’s closest), which makes this the perfect time to take in the wonders of the night sky — whether or not you're swept up in the "supermoon" hype.Some say the supermoon ranks as "one of the biggest celestial events of the year."

The moon itself is the same size it's been for ages, but the key is how close it'll be when it's full.June's full moon starting tonight,is the headliner because it's this year's best example of the "perigee full moon."

Tides will be stronger than usual, but that's nothing to get alarmed about.The fact that this full moon takes place so soon after Friday's summer solstice adds an extra twist…this will be the lowest-down full moon of 2013.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, June 21, 2013

As It Stands blog: Get your lurch on! It’s Zombie Friday at the movies

     Good Day World!

Once upon a time vampires were all the rage.

Vampire books written by such wordsmiths as Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire) were hot and made into movies.Vamps were sexy.They were big time too. Brad Pitt was sexy as he sucked blood from his willing victims in Interview With The Vampire in 1994.

Vampires are still sexy I suppose, but they’ve had to step aside and let Zombies lurch past them in popularity ratings lately!

When Brad Pitt goes after Zombies…you know they’ve arrived! I have a review of his latest movie “World War Z” to share with you.

I also have links to a List of Zombie Movies worth watching right here. Right now, let’s take a look at what one movie critic has to say about Pitt’s performance and the movie itself: IMAGE: World War Z

Zombies generally don't work together, but in "World War Z," they use each other's undead bodies to form a ladder to get over a wall to eat humans.

Movie zombies have staggered from slow to fast -- is smart next?

“In Brad Pitt's new movie, "World War Z," a soldier gives Pitt's character the lowdown on their undead opponent: Bullets to the body only slow them down, though head shots kill them. They sometimes ooze a kind of black tarry substance, and they love biting humans "like fat kids love Twix." And as filmgoers watch, they discover that these zombies c

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an hear a Pepsi can drop a mile away, tackle like a Dallas Cowboy in the Super Bowl, are willing to fling themselves off skyscrapers and over giant walls, and are smart enough to use the bodies of their fellow undead as a ladder to clamber toward their human targets.

These are not your grandfather's zombies.

Moviegoers have seen the undead evolve in a thousand gruesome rotting ways since the creatures of 1932's "White Zombie" were docile enough to work in a sugar plantation. George A. Romero took the creature -- which he called a "ghoul," not a "zombie" -- to a whole new level in 1968's classic "Night of the Living Dead," making them totter out of graves to munch on the living. And from then on, Hollywood was off, shambling down a rotting cinematic pathway littered with discarded body parts and ever-evolving zombie lore.

Zombies stayed about as fast as your walker-using Aunt Fannie until the 2002 release of "28 Days Later." Purists will tell you that the infected in that film weren't dead, so are not technically zombies. But no matter, they still introduced the public to the idea of fast movie zombies who no longer staggered after you like a drunk uncle, but match Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward (who played a zombie on AMC's "Walking Dead") for speediness.

"I do think that if you had to be bitten by slow movers to turn, you could avoid them and eventually defeat them," said Cal Miller, author of numerous zombie books and zombie comic strip TedDead. " It would be like fighting an army of senior citizens. The fast ones are just horrifying to me. They’ll run you down." (FULL STORY HERE)

Time for me to stagger on down the road…

Thursday, June 20, 2013

As It Stands blog: Rocking & rolling on Thursday: Rock Legends & Popular Bands of the 21st century

kkk-flag-ku-klux-klan-flag-26cf

  Good Day World!

Can you hear the beat?

What’s it sound like to you? Do you hear Led Zeppelin’s haunting strains of Stairway To Heaven?

Or, are your ears more attuned to the catchy pop beat of Fallout Boy?  Rockers in the 21st Century haven’t had enough time to create legends yet, but we can sure take a look back at 10 of the wildest rock legends of all time that people believe in:

10 Wild Rock ‘n’ Roll Urban Legends People Believe

“It seems like rock ‘n’ roll fans have always wanted to believe the unbelievable, since rock’s lifestyle appears to be wild, cool and out of control, or even out of this world in many cases.

This is perhaps the main reason why rock ‘n’ roll has always been a minefield of myths and urban legends. In this list we will discover the real stories behind some of rock’s craziest rumors, how they became cult and why many of them have persisted to this day.” GO HERE

Most Popular Rock Bands of The 21st Century. . . So Far

There are many rock bands out there that have evolved over the past eight years, but only a few of them have really made a difference in the music world today. Of course, everyone has different tastes when it comes to rock music, but when researching to see which bands really made an impact on the 21st Century, these five bands seemed to appear wherever I looked. GO HERE

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

As It Stands blog: Guest post - 40th Anniversary of ‘The Exorcist!’

Exorcist

  Good Day World!

I have a guest post for you today that I think will take your breath away! Seriously, when the movie Exorcist came out it scared the crap out of a whole generation.

It was the last horror film my wife ever watched! Freelance writer, Alex Smith, talks about this iconic horror film on it’s 40th anniversary:

(Art by Stephen Whitmore from DirectTVDeal.com)

      By Alex Smith

When it was released in 1973, The Exorcist terrified audiences all over the world in a way that no film had before. It tops virtually all lists of the scariest movies ever and changed forever the way horror films are regarded both by movie studios and audiences. Although Rosemary’s Baby was released the year before, it was the critical and commercial success of The Exorcist that made it a game changer for the genre.

Money talks in Hollywood, and the box office success of “The Exorcist” forced producers to look at horror films in a completely new light. The film was not only the biggest hit of 1973, it was financially speaking the most successful horror film of all time, raking in over $2 billion in today’s dollars. Its box office numbers were eclipsed by “Jaws” in 1975, but it still has the highest numbers for any R rated film. Horror films had long been thought of as low budget and relatively safe bets for producers, but now they could look at them as major vehicles for directors and acting talent.

In hindsight the decision by William Friedkin to direct the movie was a good one, but it must have seemed like a major gamble at the time. He was coming off an Oscar win for his work on The French Connection and could have had his pick of projects to work on. In a sense, the attraction of a horror film for an artist is easy to understand. One of the primary goals of art, particularly film, is to make a connection with the audience and provoke an emotional response, and fear is the most visceral emotion of all. After the success of the film, both commercially and critically, talent on both sides of the camera would be less reluctant to take on a horror project.

The critical acclaim the movie received was also unparalleled for a horror film. It was the first of the genre to ever be nominated by the Academy for Best Picture, and was ultimately nominated for 10 awards in total. Critics were divided on the film’s merits, but all of them took notice. This level of attention changed the way that audiences perceived horror films. They were no longer merely date movies that provided the odd heart stopping moment, but a legitimate cinematic art form.

Horror films had traditionally fallen into two categories. There were monster movies like The Wolfman and Frankenstein, and there were the slasher type films that still make reliable box office cash cows. The Exorcist along with Rosemary’s Baby the year before and The Omen three years later added a new dimension. These films tapped into the types of deep rooted fear that give even agnostics sleepless nights. Audiences were no longer experiencing vicarious fear for the characters on screen, but were feeling uncomfortable in a very personal way.

The religious nature of the film was also very divisive, and a release date one day after Christmas heightened reactions. Billy Graham claimed that the film itself was possessed, while the Catholic Church called the film “deeply spiritual”. Religious controversy is always fodder for the media, and Walter Cronkite devoted 10 minutes of his nightly news broadcast to covering the reception to the film. This is another example of how the film changed cinema and how movies are promoted: The Exorcist became a cultural phenomenon that people were eager to experience so they could join the conversation about, and Hollywood studios learned that controversy was something to embrace rather than run from.

The enduring legacy of The Exorcist is that audiences want to be terrified, and that filmmakers can achieve spectacular results when they step away from the safety of the tried and true. Horror films have become the testing ground for new ideas, often taking cinema in completely different directions. Without the success of The Exorcist studio executives may not have been willing to back the wide release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999. That film went on to turn a $25,000 production budget into a $248 million box office return and pioneer the found footage genre.”

Author Bio: Alex Smith is a freelance TV and film blogger for DirectTVDeal.com. He is a lifelong horror fan with a particular interest in the films of the 1970’s and 80’s, psychological horror, and anything sci-fi. In addition to his writing, he firmly maintains the belief that having your pants scared off is the best cardio.

Note to readers: If you have a guest post you’d like to share on this blog, please contact me at richarddavestancliff@gmail.com . Limit one post per month.

Time for me to walk on down the road..

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

As It Stands blog: The hunt for Hoffa continues after 40 years - body discovered?

               Good Day World!

Four decades have slipped by smoother than a crime don’s voice,and people are still seeking Jimmy Hoffa’s body. His disappearance remains a mystery to this day.

Hoffa wasn't controlled by gangsters, but he certainly was beholden to the mob, which had helped him land the Teamsters presidency in the first place. Hoffa's successor, Frank Fitzsimmons was under Mafia control, according to lawmen, and did what he was told, especially regarding loans to Las Vegas casinos.

(Getty Images file President of Teamsters union Jimmy Hoffa makes a phone call.)

Hoffa was a threat to that arrangement. In July 1975, he vanished forever.(Hank Walker / Time Life Pictures /

In the latest chapter of this saga, federal agents are digging in a field 30 miles north of Detroit after getting a tip from a Mafia underboss,Tony Zerilli, that his remains are there.

Hoffa, a former president of the Teamsters labor union, was last seen in suburban Detroit in July 1975. He was declared legally dead on July 30, 1982. The property where authorities are searching Monday was formerly owned by Jack Tocco, Zerilli’s cousin.

If this story sounds familiar it’s for good reason. There’s been numerous stories about his body being discovered…but not one panned out.Tons of earth have been moved in the search for Jimmy Hoffa's remains. The following are just a few of the leads that didn't pan out:

  • According to Ralph Picardo, the convict who fingered the conspirators, Hoffa's body was put in a 55-gallon steel drum and carted away in a Gateway Transportation truck. Picardo said he didn't know where it was taken.

  • According to another jail bird, Hoffa's body was taken to New Jersey where it was mixed into the concrete that was used to construct the New York Giant's football stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

  • Hoffa was said to have been buried in a 100-acre gravel pit in Highland, Michigan, which was owned by his brother William.

  • Hoffa's body was encased in the foundation of a public works garage in Cadillac, Michigan.

  • His remains were buried at the bottom of a swimming pool behind a mansion in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

  • The corpse was ground up and dumped in a Florida swamp.

  • Hoffa was crushed in an automobile compactor at Central Sanitation Services in Hamtramck, Michigan.

  • His body was buried in a field in Waterford Township, Michigan.

  • It was weighted down and dumped in Michigan's Au Sable River.

  • Hoffa's remains were disintegrated at a fat-rendering plant.

  • He was buried under the helipad at the Sheraton Savannah Resort Hotel, which at the time of his disappearance was owned by the Teamsters.

  • His body was put in a steel drum and buried on the grounds of Brother Moscato's garbage dump, a toxic waste site in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, June 17, 2013

As It Stands blog: Signs of the times–Sesame Street introduces 1st Muppet with jailbird dad

muppet

         Good Day World!

Oh, how the world has changed in the last four decades! I remember my three sons watching Sesame Street when they were little.

The thing that stands out to me between now and then, is the innocence lost – both in programing and in the real world.

It’s not that the Muppets didn’t deal with real life situations in it’s early years, but they were far from controversial. It was more like a silly kid show with a message of kindness towards others. Today’s Muppets have been getting a hefty dose of reality. The world in Sesame Street got a little harsher recently when the creators introduced Alex, who has a dad in jail.

I guess it’s just a sign of the times. Here’s the story: 

Those friendly, fuzzy Muppets from “Sesame Street” have helped kids open up about all sorts of serious subjects, from hunger and divorce to military deployment.

But they’re now tackling a much more unexpected issue: incarceration. Meet Alex, the first Muppet to have a dad in jail. One in 28 children in the United States now has a parent behind bars -- more than the number of kids with a parent who is deployed -- so it’s a real issue, but it’s talked about far less because of the stigma.

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For more than 40 years, “Sesame Street” has been helping kids tackle tough topics like death and divorce. With one in 28 kids having a parent behind bars, the show will now be tackling the topic of understanding jail time.

That’s why the Sesame Workshop says it created the “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” initiative, an online tool kit intended to help kids with a parent in prison find support and comfort, and provide families with strategies and tips to talk to their children about incarceration.

Alex is blue-haired and green-nosed and he wears a hoodie – you might think he’s just another carefree inhabitant of Sesame Street. But there’s sorrow in Alex’s voice when he talks about his father.

“I just miss him so much,” he tells a friend. “I usually don’t want people to know about my Dad.”

It’s easier for kids to hear such things from a Muppet than an adult, creators of the initiative noted.

“Coming from a Muppet, it’s almost another child telling their story to the children,” said Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of outreach and educational practices at the Sesame Workshop.

Alex will not be part of the regular cast on “Sesame Street,” but he’s playing a central role in the online tool kit.

Children of parents behind bars often feel sadness, shame and guilt about the situation, so they need to know they are loved and that the incarceration is not their fault, said Carol Burton, executive director of Centerforce, a non-profit dedicated to supporting families impacted by incarceration.” (Full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, June 16, 2013

As It Stands: Bugging out: views on insects in the news

By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
 Why is it that most of my life I haven’t been aware of monster-sized mosquitoes, giant rat-sized snails, and insects like Cicadas that wake up after 17 years and eat everything in their path?
   I don’t know about you, but lately some of the insect and other pest stories I’m hearing sound like something straight out of the Bible; “And the locusts descended upon Egypt…”
  Are these pest reports signs of the end times? I doubt it, but they have a certain Armageddon-like aspect that makes for top news slots when they decide to invade an area.
The most recent insect invasion is in Florida where monster mosquitoes are tormenting tourists with bites so powerful they go right through clothing and feel like a pinch. A big pinch!

 These special mammoth-sized mosquitoes are called Gallinippers by scientists, and pains-in-the-butt by tourists and locals. The only good news about these oversized pests - they’re 20 times the size of a normal mosquito-is they don’t carry diseases harmful to humans like their tiny cousins.
Entomologists warned us earlier this year that the B-29 of the buzz world would be active this summer.

They say it’s happening because of tropical storms Debbie and Andrea, which hatched a bunch of dormant eggs (they can stay that way for years) and produced hundreds of thousands of these Quetzalcoatlus-like (biggest bird ever-30 feet, 200 pounds) species of the insect world.
The next example is the giant rat-sized snails (Giant African land snails) that overran Florida streets in April, eating anything green in their path. The seven-inch long pests also like to eat stucco (which contains calcium -vital for a healthy shell!), which as you can imagine doesn’t make them popular with people living in stucco houses.

Just one of these behemoth snails produces up to 1,120 eggs a year. They’re also a motorist’s nightmare because their hard shells can blow out tires on cars! If that isn’t bad enough, they also carry a parasitic lungworm which can cause illness in humans, including a type of meningitis.
No one knows for sure how the infestation started. One possible source is practitioners of Santeria, a religion with West African and Caribbean roots, who use the giant snails in some rituals.
The giant snails also showed up in Houston, Texas in May. The Center for Disease Control didn’t seem too concerned because they said humans will only get infected if they eat them raw or undercooked. And not that many showed up. There was a story of some woman who found one in her garden and it made front page news - “Snail Invasion?” The invasion never came, but was a fun topic to talk about.
 And how about those sleepy Cicadas?
Those bug-eyed insects look like little aliens from outer space. They started their food drive in the south, but have worked their way up north, causing havoc.

The advance of the Cicadas was called “Swarmageddon” and residents in New Jersey have two different takes on the infestation: on one hand, some people think they’re really cool and sit out in parks playing instruments with Cicadas all over them.

They write poems about the bulging-eyed nuisances.
On the other hand, the barbeque set feels under siege, as the visitors ruin their outdoor cooking experience - a very popular pastime this time of the year.

 Normally, experts say, the peak of the Cicada season would have been over by now, but cooler weather has extended their lives and they’re covering more area than usual. There’s no doubt residents are looking forward to sleepy time for the noisy brood, and a relief from their presence for another 17 years. 
 All of which brings me back to the question: why are there insect and pest invasions these days? Didn’t people talk about these things back in the 50s and 60s? Did the media miss out on great insect invasion stories for decades before the internet?

 It’s too deep for me. I just know it’s bugging me (you knew I’d have to slip this pun in somewhere)! Could be I live a more isolated life than I thought, and I’m the only one who feels like the bugs are getting a lot of media play these days. Then again…
 As It Stands, one of these days we’ll have a mutant insect invasion and our lives will turn into B-movies!