Friday, September 29, 2006



CUNY program on Science & The Arts, and Roald Hoffman's Entertaining Science at the Cornelia Street Cafe have announced their programs.

Here's the CUNY program schedule:

Benjamin Franklin’s Arcs and Sparks, Monday, October 16, 7:00 PM
Being Beakman, Tuesday, October 24, 7:00 PM
Theatre of Science, Thursday, November 9 through Sunday, November 12
A Scientist Goes to the Movies, Friday, November 10, 6:30 PM
Verse and Universe, Friday and Saturday, November 10 and 11
Tesla, Monday, December 11, 7pm

These programs are free and open to the public, and often FILL UP. So reserve a ticket early and come early!

The reservation number is (212) 817-8215 But they ask that you
check their website and use the program number when calling.

Here's the schedule for Roald Hoffman's Entertaining Science:

Oct. 15: Chateau Jiahu, Vintage 7000 BC, with biomolecular archaelogist Patric McGovern, wine expert Darren Siegfried, choreographer Rachel Cohen, some possessed women and men and virtuoso glass player, Katie Down.

Nov. 5: “Naming Nature” Robbin Moran and David Wolfe on Linnaeus vs. Woese, with some evolving Swedish music as well.

Dec. 3: “I Forgot to Learn to Forget” David Sulzer (or perhaps David Soldier), artist Vitaly Komar, with music by Rebecca Cherry and Steve Beck.


May 5: “Phallacy”, scenes from Carl Djerassi’s new play.

June 3: “Illusions”, on how objects are recognized and invented by brains, with Stuart Firestein, and a magician friend.

For reservations, call the
Cornelia Street Cafe. (212) 989-9319. These programs also SELL OUT early. So reserve a ticket early and come early!

I went to several of these events last year at both venues and they were very interesting, enjoyable, and quite different from most public shows!

Thursday, September 28, 2006



VideoETA New This Week
COURTESY OF VIDEOETA.COM has very extensive information about past present and future DVD releases.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006




Hi. This is Eric from QPORIT -- Quick Previews Of Random Interesting Things – reporting on the new season at Lincoln Center.

Madama Butterfly opens at the Metropolitan opera house. Stoppard’s Trilogy
The Coast of Utopia with Ethan Hawke part of a large cast, is coming to Lincoln Center Theater.

Just walking down the street, one poster after the next generates excitement for the vast number of musical performances here – from special events to foreign orchestras to Jazz.

New York Film Festival opens Friday September 29 with The Queen, about the reaction of Britain’s Royals to the death of Diana, followed by dozens of extraordinary new films from all over the world, plus special retrospectives.

Despite the construction, and a gaping hole where the plaza used to be, the Film Festival will be held at Alice Tully Hall, with entrance from these side doors. Back soon, with more about the Film Festival in the next post from QPORIT.

Thanks for watching.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006



The series title, "
Men in Trees," is justified by a sign warning about men overhead working in the trees. (Hint, hint: In Alaska, Men:Women as 10:1, as they'd say in the SAT. That is, so many men, it's like they grow in trees.)

OK, so there's a young woman who writes books telling young women how to behave to get men and she discovers on the way to a talk in Alaska that, surprise, surprise, her fiance is having an affair. She's in Alaska, now, and she can breathe there. She meets this guy who's hunky, knows everything about Alaska, turns up whenever she has a problem and surprise, surprise (this is a set-up for a TV series, after all) he does not try to have sex with her.

So, surprise, surprise, she decides to stay in Alaska. (NOTE: She decides to stay; it is not, as the official web page put it, that "she finds herself stuck in a small Alaskan town..." )

The writing is uneven; some of it is good and funny, some of it, like the premise, is hackneyed and false. There's a lot of fish out of water type humor, as in -- Why is everybody running away? That's such a cute black and white pussy cat. Why is it raising it's tail? And of course the men have never even heard of a soy milk iced mocha latte.

The basic premise seems like a gender reversed
Ed, with Anne Heche playing the Ed part. Except that Alaska is a more interesting location than a bowling alley.

When the voice-overs started, I thought that every woman-centered relationship movie & TV show is now doing the Sex & The City thing. But in this case it turns out the show is actually a direct descendent. (As the official site puts it, it's From one of the headwriters and executive producers of "Sex & the City". )

All in all, though, despite the problems, the show has a certain charm, and there's enough good writing to hope that the best writing will surface and dominate, and the show will improve to become an interesting and pleasant diversion.

It's headed for a Friday evening slot on ABC.

Monday, September 11, 2006



National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2
is pretty much what you'd expect: Some jokes, some funny jokes, some slacker/bong jokes, some fairly naked people (T & A, no full frontal), some pretty young women (some fairly naked), some intentional bad acting, some unintentional bad acting, a vague plot.

It's amazing that after all these centuries the same old joke is still funny -- it's the adult version of peek-a-boo: The Captain's wife is, unbeknownst to him, a porn star. While he is gone she brings men in. He comes home, they hide. He looks to the left, they come out from hiding on the right (naked). He turns to the right, they duck, another group of naked men comes out of the closet on the left. He turns back and forth, they all hide, while a third group of naked men tries to slip out from under bed...

The best thing about the plot is that it's so predictable you can write the story in advance as you watch it.

This film is presumably a sequel of sorts to some other film, because it takes place on a boat rather than a dorm, so that "Dorm Daze" otherwise has no relation to the film.

If you don't expect too much, and you have time to waste, the movie is bad enough to be fun.



Akeelah and the Bee
is an inspirational (though occasionally tear-jerking) movie about a South LA girl who conquers self-doubt to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

In contrast to The Bee Season, which I hated, this movie celebrates finding a healthy and fair way to compete.

Much as The Passion Of The Christ was promoted by pursuing Christian groups, this movie could be extensively promoted in schools -- inner city, outer city, suburban, rural, impoverished and enriched alike. It can be shown in schools less for the benefit of the movie than for the benefit of the students, teachers, parents, and principals.

Keke Palmer does a terrific job as the young girl. A short on the DVD shows her taking direction and demonstrates how well she acted... she was not just behaving as herself.

The film is well written, well acted, well produced (which matters in a "little film"), and well filmed (which is hard with a short shooting schedule, a low budget, and child actors).

One of the producers of the film is Mark Cuban (founder of, who with Todd Wagner and
2929 Entertainment has created a fund for making worthwhile movies. He succeeded here!

Friday, September 08, 2006



Mark Burnett, the master of reality shows, is working with Steven Spielberg and Fox television to develop
On The Lot, a reality show for filmmakers.

It's American Idol (viewers vote) crossed with The Apprentice (each week there's a task to execute) for film directors.

It's casting now!

Check out the details directly, or look it up from the Fox web site.



The Sentinel
features a great cast (Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Kim Basinger, ...) and a great premise for an interesting movie (a dangerous mole in the Secret Service).

It's sporadically exciting.

Unfortunately, the execution of the film is not as intense as the premise; there are some serious obstacles to the "suspension of disbelief" needed by the plot; and too many punches are pulled to make this a hard edged movie. (Also, it doesn't help that the description of the official site (on Yahoo search) is a spoiler that gives away half the movie.)

Why should a feature film with Kiefer Sutherland pale in comparison to an hour episode of 24?

Thursday, September 07, 2006



This looks like a very interesting festival of short films. Check out the info on the home page and the MySpace page. Here's their invitation:

Just a reminder that our screening series #1 is this Sunday Sept 10 at 6pm

@ CULTURE PROJECT - 45 Bleecker St, New York (corner of Lafayette & Broadway) .

(Take 6 train to Bleecker/Lafayette.)

Grab a beer, a coffee, or tea perhaps, lean back, watch some great independent short films.

Sure, we'll have chocolate too. If you don't like chocolate, you can nonchalantly place it on the lady's or gentleman's lap sitting next to you. Conveniently, there will already be a soundtrack playing for this moment.

Hope to see you there.

Single Reel Film & Video Festival

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


FALL 2006 TV

There are many new shows this season, and quite a few returning shows have a new time slot. Here's a simple calendar of some of what's coming, when:

9:00 - ABC - SEP 24 - Desperate Housewives -- returns.
10:00 - ABC - SEP 24 - Brothers and Sisters -- with Calista Flockhart. Ron Rifkin, and Sally Fields.
Grey's Anatomy will move to Thursday.

8:00 PM - CBS - SEP 18 The Class -- Comedy.
9:30 PM - CBS - SEP 18 - The New Adventures of Old Christine -- Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
10:00 PM - NBC - SEP 18 - Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip -- THE new show, by Aaron Sorkin.
10:00 PM - SHOWTIME - Weeds continues here against strong competition, but it's replayed several times during the week.
10:00 PM - ABC - What About Brian -- From J. J. Abrams (Alias, Lost).

8:30 - NBC - OCT 11 - 30 Rock -- Tina Fey's new show.
9:00 - AVC - OCT 4 - Lost.
9:00 - FOX - AUG 30 - Justice -- With Victor Garber, from John Frankenheimer.
9:00 - abc - NOV 15 - Day Break -- A framed cop, a re-lived day, Taye Diggs.

9:00 - ABC - N/A - Grey's Anatomy.
10:00 - ABC - OCT 4 - The Nine -- Bank heist & complex plot.
10:00 - CBS - SEP 21 - Shark -- James Woods as a prosecutor.

10:00 - NBC - SEP 22 - Law & Order -- Two new women join the cast.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006



I eat a lot of walnuts. And I've tried many brands. My favorite has been
Diamond of California.

They taste good. Much better than most other walnuts. (Also, note that most packaged walnuts have many bad apples. (Sorry for the mixed metaphor.) Diamond has very few. There is a bad walnut only once in every 10 cans or so -- or approximately 90% of the cans contain only good walnuts, which is a much better average than for other walnut packages I've tried.)

Unfortunately, however, there has always been a problem with Diamond walnut cans. The cans have come with a metal lid which is very sharp when peeled off. In fact, I've gotten some pretty severe cuts.

Wow! Diamond has come out with a new top. It's soft and not a safety hazard anymore!

It's a tremendous improvement and they should be rewarded for their new packaging and the effort that went into developing this new top. If only all consumer products were so much improved.

I can now recommend Diamond walnuts!



Dame Helen Mirren as The Queen in The Queen,
Photo Credit: Laurie Sparham/Courtesy of Miramax Films

28 films will debut at the 44th New York Film Festival, at Lincoln Center, September 29 - October 15, 2006.

Opening night will be The Queen -- about the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana -- directed by Stephen Frears, and starring Dame Helen Mirren as HM Queen Elizabeth II. Volver, by Pedro Almodovar will be the Festival Centerpiece, and Pan’s Labyrinth, by Guillermo Del Toro will close the Festival.



I thought Talladega Nights was both funny and wise.

Behind the NASCAR sendup, there is a real story about how you learn to live well or not well, according to how wisely you understand what you were taught (intentionally or by accident) about how to live your life.

Will Ferrell is very good. Sacha Baron Cohen is funny. Leslie Bibb is stunning, and better than most at playing the winner-chasing woman. Amy Adams is very cute and lovely. Gary Cole is excellent as Will's Father.

Monday, September 04, 2006



Studies show that the motion of large scale objects (galaxies and clusters of galaxies) do not agree with the predictions of ordinary gravitational laws acting on ordinary objects.

The most common explanations propose either 4 times as much "dark matter" as ordinary matter, or changes in the laws of gravity.

Recent observations favor non-interacting matter as the source of the effect, rather than changes in the laws of gravity. Observations using the gravitational lens effect show two colliding galaxy clusters in which ordinary matter in the two clusters interact, passing through each other more slowly than some different matter (identified with the "dark matter"), which passes through unimpeded by collisions.

(One of the effects ascribed to "dark matter" is that gravitation clumps it, and then the concentrations of clumped dark matter help clump ordinary matter through gravitational attraction, assisting in the formation of galaxies, stars, etc. The clumping however must be on a huge scale. I am not aware of any observations of non-uniformity of the dark matter on a distance scale small enough to affect anything in our solar system.)

Note, by the way, that as a matter of terminology, because "dark matter" does not interact with itself or with ordinary matter, it seems more appropriate to call it transparent matter. "Dark" usually implies an ability to absorb light, while "transparent" means that light passes through the object, and "dark matter" does not absorb light (or interact with anything else, except gravity), so it is "transparent," not "dark." "Invisible" matter is not quite right either, since we can "see" dark matter from its gravitational effects.

"Transparent matter" is not nearly as catchy a phrase as "dark matter," but it may be more accurate.

Here are some references to the recent observations and other information about (transparent) "dark matter."

Technical paper



I met Steve Irwin and his wife briefly many years ago, before they were famous. They were promoting a multimedia CD-ROM and looking for development funds to hunt crocodiles, at a New Media conference in the early 90's. Even though I had no interest in crocodiles at the time, I found them both to be exceptionally friendly, interesting, and the most memorable part of the conference.

I wish the family well. Steve Irwin 1962-2006. RIP.



Elizabeth Reaser as Inge, and Lois Smith as Old Inge in Sweet Land.

this year will run from October 18 to October 22, 2006.

The opening film has been announced, it will be
The Situation, a film about Iraq by Philip Haas, director of Angels and Insects.

Also, the winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2005 Festival,
Sweet Land, will be opening in New York on Wednesday, October 18, 2006, at the Cinema Village at 22 East 12th Street, followed by a national release in November.

Saturday, September 02, 2006



comes back for a second season on ShowTime as still one of the best shows on TV.

Mary-Louise Parker is great. She can express five emotions all at the same time. She has a special way of gritting her teeth and smiling at the same time.

This year's story line has the potential to go a bit off track, and lose the sweet balance of normalcy and a slightly criminal sideline. I was a little scared by the sleeping with a DEA agent story line, but somewhat reassured by the quickie marriage in Vegas twist. Still, the process of growing pot, and threats of intrusion by standard villians could wreck the charm of the show.

Friday, September 01, 2006



Spanning a range of genres from rock, hip-hop, and avant garde, The New York Musical Theatre Festival is a three week celebration bringing the next generation of modern musical entertainment to producers, artists and young adult audiences.

Over 30 musicals will premiere at NYMF, with more than 100 concerts and special events, 300 performances and 1000 performers.

Single tickets go o­n sale September 1.

For a copy of the 2006 Official Program, visit the Virgin Megastore in Times Square, where you can collect one of the full color 32 page magazines from either the Theatermania Box Office, or the Virgin front desk.

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