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Editor, The Konformist
Dark Knight Makes Record-Breaking $300M in 10 Days
By Stephen M. Silverman
Sunday July 27, 2008
No argument: The Dark Knight is Hollywood's brightest light.
The Batman adventure, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger,
shattered another box-office benchmark this weekend reaching
beyond the $300 million mark in a mere 10 days.
The movie grossed $75.6 million in its second weekend in theaters,
bringing its North American box-office total to $314,245,000, Warner
Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman tells the Associated Press.
The number breaks the record established by 2006's Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which hit $300 million after 16 days.
Fellman says Dark Knight could conceivably reach the $400-million
mark in about 18 days placing it ahead of Shrek 2's 43-day record
Hold on to your life preservers The Dark Knight might also surpass
1997's Titanic as the highest-grossing film in U.S. history,
according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. That
sinking-ship saga, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, made $600,788,188
Rounding out this weekend's top five at the box office were Will
Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers, with an estimated $30
million; Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!, $17.9 million; David Duchovny
and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files: I Want to Believe, $10.2
million; and Brendan Fraser in Journey to the Center of the Earth,
A-11 offense could be the future of football
Special to Rivals High
When quarterback Jeremy George entered the Piedmont (Calif.) High
School football coaches' office to talk to Kurt Bryan, he noticed an
unusual formation on the dry-erase board.
At first, George thought the formation was meant for the punt team.
No, Bryan said, that's our new offense.
George looked back to the board and was a little confused.
"Initially, the first thought I had was, 'I'm pretty sure that's
illegal,' " George said. "I've got to admit I thought it was a
little crazy. I think most of the players thought it was crazy. A
lot of people were a little skeptical."
And for good reason.
Bryan, Piedmont's coach, and Steve Humphries, the director of
football operations, had developed an offense in which all 11
players on the field potentially are eligible to catch the ball.
Though they weren't certain it was legal when they first concocted
the idea, they were willing to implement it for the 2007 season.
After compiling a 7-4 record and a first-round playoff appearance,
Bryan and Humphries now call their innovation a success.
"Going into the season, we thought that either we're going to get
fired or we're going to transform the game because of the innovative
aspects and the wealth of ideas," Bryan said. "Luckily, it turned
out to be the latter."
The plan began at Humphries' house in northern California while the
two were dreaming of ideas. The question: how to effectively level
the playing field for Piedmont, with an enrollment of less than
1,000, when the Highlanders faced schools with student bodies nearly
Then, Humphries came up with a whopper: Why not put two quarterbacks
in a shotgun formation and make every player on the field a
potential receiving threat?
"It was originally the 'Pluto offense,' " Humphries said. "We wanted
to do something very unique, cutting edge and different. There were
a whole variety of offensive formations that looked very different
from a normal offense."
What developed from that brainstorming session was the "A-11
offense" - as in all 11 players potentially are eligible.
The base offense is one in which a center and two tight ends
surround the football, three receivers are split right, three more
split left and two quarterbacks stand behind in a shotgun, one of
whom has to be at least 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
A description on the offense's Web site - www.a11offense.com -
describes it as "an innovative offense blending aspects of the
spread option, West Coast and run and shoot."
Yes, per the rules of the game, only five players are eligible to
catch a pass during a particular play and seven players have to set
up on the line of scrimmage. But in the minds of Bryan and
Humphries, you can develop an infinite number of plays with an
infinite number of formations.
Talk about confusing a defense.
"It presents a different set of challenges for defenses because they
have to account for which guys go out or might go out," Bryan
said. "Those guys who are ineligible to go down the field and catch
a pass, they can take a reverse pitch or a negative screen or a
hitch behind the line of scrimmage.
"We've opened up the game to the extreme with the rules already in
First, though, Piedmont coaches had to make sure this offense was
actually legal. Bryan and Humphries scoured the rulebook, met with
league officials and submitted the concept of the offense to the
National Federation of High Schools and the California
"We had a 99.9 percent feeling that it was legal," Bryan
said. "After it was approved, there was a sense of, 'OK, now what do
we do?' "
First, they had to install the offense during spring practice and
during the summer. Bryan said it wasn't pretty. Even into the first
two games of the 2007 season, contests in which the Highlanders lost
while scoring a combined nine points, the coaching staff continued
Then, something clicked and they went on a seven-game winning
streak, using the A-11 offense about 60 percent of the time and a
more traditional formation the other 40 percent. This season, Bryan
said he wants to use the A-11 offense 85-90 percent of the time.
"There was a lot of learning, and we put in a lot of the
preparation," Humphries said. "We adapted every week. We learned
from what the competitors were doing against us. We made changes and
adjusted techniques. We saw nine different defenses in 11 games. It
was a wealth of information on what things different defenses can do
against this. The different techniques are invaluable."
Now, after a year, Bryan says the interest level from coaches across
the country is high, and Bryan has produced five instructional
Though Bryan admits there probably is some resistance to this
radically different offense, one of his opponents said he sees
nothing wrong with it.
"It's pretty trailblazing," said Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic
coach Andrew Cotter, whose squad was pummeled by Piedmont 47-7 last
season. "The fact they came up with the idea - it takes a lot of
work. I don't think they're trying to take an easy way out.
"I'm a new coach coming from an old-school philosophy. Football is
meant to line up, get your hand in the dirt and figure it out. But
playing within the rules and trying to create an advantage is not
something I'm against. There is a philosophy that says you need to
line up and see who's the man. However, if you're not the man, you
need to come up with some significant strategies to counter that."
Now, Bryan looks to the future and ponders what this offense can
"It is limitless," Bryan said. "Here's what's going to happen. If we
were sitting down with football coaches and players in 50 years or
100 years, the A-11 would be no big deal because that's what the
game will be.
"People can laugh at it, but that's reality."
Gov. signs nation's first statewide ban on trans fats in restaurants
Samantha Sondag, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Friday, July 25, 2008
California became the first state in the nation to outlaw trans fats
from restaurants and food facilities today, as Governor
Schwarzenegger signed off on a bill banning the artery-clogging oils
"California is a leader in promoting health and nutrition, and I am
pleased to continue that tradition," Schwarzenegger said in a
statement. "We are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier
future for California."
AB 97, authored by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia (Los Angeles
County), requires professional cooks to purge their kitchens of any
ingredient containing more than 0.5 grams of artificial trans fats
by Jan. 1, 2010. Inspectors could impose fines from $25 to $1,000
Bakers have an extra year to adhere to the ban because pastries are
the most difficult products to make without trans fat-laden oils and
Several cities already have ordinances banning trans fats, including
New York and Philadelphia.
Artificial trans fats, short for trans fatty acid molecules, are the
result of partial hydrogenation, which changes the texture of
cooking oils and elongates their shelf life. They increase levels of
bad cholesterol and decrease levels of good cholesterol, increasing
the risk of heart disease.
"As a former fourth grade school teacher in east L.A, I saw first
hand the problems of obesity," Mendoza said. "AB 97 is culmination
of these concerns and works to benefit the well being of kids and
Mendoza said he hopes the law will inspire a nationwide renunciation
of trans fats. "It is catching on, ever since last year when we
introduced it (the bill). Now that it's law in California, I think
it's really going to move."
The California Restaurant Association originally opposed the ban
because of potential costs to restaurant owners. But a spokesman
said today that the association is confident its members will be
able to comply.
"Given that our industry was already moving away from the use of
trans fats, and the long time-frame for implementation, we're
confident that we can satisfy mandate," said Daniel Conway. "But we
still think such decisions should be made by the federal government
and not on the state and local level."
Betty Jo Toccoli, president of the California Small Businesses
Association, said the new law may result in consumers paying more to
"I think there will be confusion, in the end there will be an
increase in prices, and I'll look for items being taken off of menus
and a loss of business," she said.
Stephen Joseph, a healthy-food activist and lawyer from Tiburon who
worked with Mendoza on the bill, says consumers should not fear that
their favorite dish will not taste as good without trans fat. He
pointed to a blind taste test, conducted by Texas A&M University
last year, in which trans fat-free French fries scored better than
fries cooked in partially hydrogenated oil.
"The industry lapped that up," said Joseph. "They realized that
there was no way they could keep taking the position that it was
going to affect taste."
Joseph added that the difference in price between oils containing
oils with trans fat and those that don't is minimal, if any.
"I'm drunk with pleasure that the governor signed this bill," said
Joseph, while sipping Champagne and noshing on trans fat free Oreos.
E-mail Samantha Sondag at ssondag@....
Oklahoma City Thunder/Marshalls/Energy/Wind/Barons/Bison
July 25, 2008
There have been reports here or there that the team that used be
knows as the SuperSonics would be called this or that. They are
mostly based on anonymous sources, or some evidence that somebody or
other registered this or that web address.
I'm holding out for some better, more solid information before I
rename that category over there on the right.
An alert TrueHoop reader (thanks Todd) has some insight of a kind.
He points out that an NBA attorney recently made a number of filings
with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
You can search the database yourself. If you know how to search
(it's a little complicated, but hang in there) you can see active
trademark requests, filed July 21, for the following names:
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Marshalls
Oklahoma City Energy
Oklahoma City Wind
Oklahoma City Barons
Oklahoma City Bison
There is also an inactive request, filed by the same attorney, for
the name "Oklahoma City SuperSonics."
Most unusual is that, unlike trademark applications for other NBA
teams, these have been applied for by the NBA Development League.
(And this whole time I thought all that fuss was about an NBA team!
No, just kidding. Insert joke here about the quality of the Sonic
roster.) I am not sure if that means anything or not.
So, Thunder, Marshalls, Energy, Wind, Barons, Bison ... I'm going to
put on my PR hat and declare that if these are the options, this
team is certain to be called the Thunder, the Marshalls, or some
name that has not yet come to light.
Energy, Wind, Barons, and Bison all have fatal flaws, in my mind:
Energy: Energy has a nice tie-in with co-owner Aubrey McClendon's
business, and the big employers in the region. But it is not a cool
word in this context. Using "energy" as a "rah rah" word for
athletes strikes me as kind if eighties (like, in fact, "rah rah"
itself). This video, in my mind, would set the mood in the locker
room of a team called the "Energy."
Wind: Wind? Really? Wind? Synonym of breeze? Maybe they're
registering this for the dance team? Or as a desperate ploy related
to promote an owner's alternative energy business? Because a team
called the wind can never lose a game. Every headline will
be "Lakers Break Wind," "Celtics Break Wind," "Pistons Break Wind,"
etc. That's not good for the NBA. This one is almost more palatable
if we interpret it as the verb, with the long "i" sound, as in "wind
Barons: Clay Bennett and his cronies have behaved in a manner that
many have likened to Robber Barons. I dare them to name the team the
Bison: The tradition of the bison could not be mightier.
Nevertheless, it is a reality that in 2008 rich white men can not be
seen to be sending a predominantly black group of employees into the
workplace with the word "bison" across their chest. No way that
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Bible is Myth?!
In November 2008, PBS will air a TV special claiming that the
biblical patriarch Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were not historical
persons but were "myths." The documentary will also declare the
fabulous Israelite Exodus to be mythical, rather than representing a
miraculous "historical" event.
To readers of my work posted online since 1995, and encapsulated in
my books, beginning with The Christ Conspiracy, all of this cage-
rattling will be old hat. In that book, I laid out the case that
Abraham and Sarah are remakes of the Indian deities Brahma and
Sarasvati, while Moses is likewise a mythical character based on
older gods. In Christ Con, I also show that the Exodus represents
not a supernatural event that truly happened on Earth but for which
absolutely no evidence has been found. Rather, it too falls in the
realm of mythology.
As this article about the PBS documentary relates, the evidence does
indeed show that the Bible was composed during and after the so-
called Babylonian Captivity of the 6th century BCE. Certain parts of
it are older, of course, as some of the most fantastic stories could
undoubtedly be found in the libraries in Babylon and Egypt. As I
also demonstrated in The Christ Conspiracy almost 10 years ago, the
Bible was not composed by the individuals claimed to be its authors,
neither the Old Testament nor the New.
The fact that the Nova producer in this article found the
concept "extremely shocking" that monotheism was developed over a
period of centuries is a reflection of the woeful state of education
in comparative religion and mythology. As readers of my work will
also know, monotheism did not come to a historical Moses's head via
a bolt of lightning from the Almighty but was indeed devised over
hundreds of years by a number of cultures, including the Indian and
Egyptian, beginning centuries to millennia prior to the purported
existence of Moses.
In my books, which include Suns of God and Who Was Jesus?, I also
name several other Old Testament patriarchs as mythical characters,
including and especially Joshua, who is essentially an old sun god
turned into a "real person" and who was later rehashed as "Jesus."
Indeed, I do not stop with the Old Testament but further put forth
the case for some of the major players in the New Testament to be
mythical characters as well, including and especially Jesus Christ.
In this regard, it should be noted that there is no credible and
valid scientific evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ as a
historical person, and everything points to him being as mythical a
figure as Hercules.
We can only hope that PBS and Nova will jump on this bandwagon as
well, sooner than later.
Holy Moses! PBS documentary suggests Exodus not real
Hal Boedeker | Sentinel Television Critic
July 21, 2008
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Abraham didn't exist? The Exodus didn't
The Bible's Buried Secrets, a new PBS documentary, is likely to
cause a furor.
"It challenges the Bible's stories if you want to read them
literally, and that will disturb many people," says archaeologist
William Dever, who specializes in Israel's history. "But it explains
how and why these stories ever came to be told in the first place,
and how and why they were written down."
The Nova program will premiere Nov. 18. PBS presented a clip and a
panel discussion at the summer tour of the Television Critics
The program says the Bible was written in the sixth century BC and
that hundreds of authors contributed.
"At least the first five books of the Bible come together during the
Babylonian exile," says producer Gary Glassman.
The program challenges long-held beliefs. Abraham, Sarah and their
offspring probably didn't exist, says Carol Meyers, a religion
professor at Duke University.
"These stories are unlikely to represent real historical events, but
rather there's some kernel of ancient experience in there which has
survived and which helps give identity to the people at the time the
Bible finally took shape centuries and centuries later," Meyers says.
There's no archaeological evidence of the Exodus, either, she says,
but "it doesn't mean that there's no kernel of truth to it."
Nova series producer Paula Apsell says she found it "extremely
shocking" to learn that monotheism was a process that took hundreds
"I was always brought up to believe that the minute Abraham and the
patriarchs came on the scene, the Israelites accepted one God and
there was just always one God and that was it," Apsell says. "I
think people are going to really be stunned by that."
Another shocker: The program contradicts the biblical view that the
Israelites came from somewhere else into the land of Canaan. "The
film shows that they were Canaanites," Apsell says.
Posted by Acharya S
Labels: abraham, acharya, Bible, christ conspiracy, d.m. murdock,
exodus, moses, myth, mythology, nova, pbs
New! The Simpsons Ride
Voted World's Best New Attraction for 2008 by the readers of
The Simpsons are visiting Krustyland, the low-budget theme park
created by famed TV personality and shameless product huckster
Krusty the Clown!
You are there right alongside Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie as
you enter through the carnival-like midway.
Once you board your vehicle you're in for one surprise after another
as you embark on a wild, over-the-top ride through the park flying,
floating, and more or less crashing your way through Krustyland's
kiddie attractions, stunt shows, and thrill rides.
Guests must be at least 40" tall to ride
"Visually stunning experience...It's high octane eye candy for the
-LA Times Travel
"This ride will absolutely be a hit with families and other park
-Robb Alvey, themeparkreview.com
"The ride is a total blast, with plenty of laughs as well as
thrills."- Elise Thompson, LAist.com"The Simpsons Ride at Universal
Studios Hollywood truly delivers - with loads of in-jokes and satire
for serious fanatics and tons of thrills and fun for casual fans."
- Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times
Leonardo DiCaprio eyes the 'Zone'
Warners, Appian Way in early stages of 'Twilight' feature
By Steven Zeitchik
July 25, 2008
Could the eerie music of "The Twilight Zone" soon be playing again
at the movies?
Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way
are in the early stages of seeking material for a feature take on
one or more episodes from the classic TV series.
The studio and production company are quietly putting out word to
creators that they are looking for pitches and script ideas based on
the show for feature development.
The companies are not seeking to remake an episodic movie, as the
only big-screen version of the show did 25 years ago, but rather
hope to build one continuing story line based on one or more
Warners is negotiating for rights to the Rod Serling-penned
episodes, which is owned by the Serling estate. The episodes
comprise the bulk of its 1959-64 run. The Serling shows include
famous episodes such as "To Serve Man," about giant aliens who land
on Earth to serve humans as food, and "Eye of the Beholder," about
an inverted society where the attractive are considered ugly. About
155 episodes of the original series exist.
A feature adaptation could be a passion project of sorts for
DiCaprio, who in interviews has cited "Twilight Zone" as his
Thanks to syndication -- the show runs on Sci Fi Channel -- and many
pop-culture homages, "Twilight Zone" continues to have a devoted, if
somewhat older-skewing, fan base nearly five decades after it left
In 1983, Warners released a four-segment film based on the series.
Each segment was helmed by a different director -- Joe Dante, John
Landis, George Miller and Steven Spielberg -- with three of the
segments remakes of classic episodes.
The movie drew modest boxoffice and was known mainly for a supposed
curse after Vic Morrow and two child actors died during production.
The news of a possible Twilight Zone movie comes as "The X-Files,"
another film adaptation of a paranormal-themed television series,
opens this weekend.
There have been other attempts at "Zone" updates over the years,
particularly on television; CBS made a TV movie in 1994 based on
several Serling episodes, and a short-lived show aired on UPN six
years ago. On the film side, Summit is currently working on a film
version of the Richard Matheson-penned "Countdown," about astronauts
who land on a planet only to find a spacecraft that looks remarkably
similar to their own.