Thursday, February 26, 2004

Mel's Still Kicking Ass

Only a master marketer could orchestrate the firestorm of controversy and publicity that has propelled Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" to a $15-20 million opening yesterday. For those who are keeping track, that may end up being more than what "The Fellowship of the Ring" or "Independence Day" made during their opening Wednesdays, and they featured ass-kicking heroes, as opposed to graphic torture scenes and Aramaic with subtitles.

Just as with his previous directorial effort, "Braveheart," it looks like Mel will shrug off accusations of bigotry (in the case of "Braveheart," Gibson was accused of homophobia) and clean up at the box office, and, quite probably, at the awards shows afterwards.

Most remarkably, in a story that is both tragic and oddly touching, a 56-year-old Kansas City woman suffered a heart attack and died while watching the climactic crucifixion scene.

While I'm sure Mel would say that he feels bad for the woman and her family, as a filmmaker, he has to get a charge out of knowing that his work is that shocking and powerful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Neatest Thing They'd Ever Seen

A Cooper's hawk (a protected species) has taken up residence in the Home Depot in North Olmsted, Ohio.

"The hawk entered the store through an open door while chasing a pigeon last Saturday. It caught its prey above the electrical aisle, worker Craig Warth said. Witnesses saw the hawk rip the pigeon apart and feed until nothing was left but feathers and claws.

'It wasn't a pretty sight,' said Terry McGuire, assistant manager. 'Some of the customers were upset. Some said it was the neatest thing they had ever seen.'"

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Jewelry maker selling out nail pendant tied to 'Passion' film

The headline says it all.
America's Most Clueless

Patrick Conroy, the assistant principal of L. C. Mohr High School in Michigan, was certain that one of his students was a drug dealer. The only problem was, the police could never catch him.

So naturally, Principal Conroy decided to plant marijuana in the student's locker before the police conducted a random drug search. Unfortunately, K-9 Officer Herbie did not find the drugs, despite Principal Conroy's best efforts, which included repeatedly leading Herbie and his handler past the locker in question.

In frustration, Conroy complained to the police, "I know this isn't or wasn't ethical, but remember the last time you did a drug search? I put marijuana in [the student]'s locker, and the dog missed it."

Needless to say, Conroy has resigned his position and is now under police investigation. No word on whether officer Herbie has been sent back to drug-training school.


Monday, February 23, 2004

Do Sex Bots Dream Of Electric Sheep?

With little fanfare, it appears that at least one class of computers has been able to pass the Turing Test: sex chat bots.

It turns out that the intelligence behind most pornographic SMS chat is not a legion of bored at-home workers (presumably outsourced to India), but a chatbot named Natachata, written by former rocket scientist Simon Luttrell.

Interestingly enough, some patrons catch on. "There is about 5% who realise it is a computer and use it even more because of that," said Mr Luttrell.