Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scorsese to produce George Harrison Doc, Bogdanovich Petty Doc & Ringo Tarantino's Rock & Roll Daily Blog has this tidbit about a Martin Scorsese-produced rock doc on George Harrison.
Martin Scorsese will direct an authorized documentary about George Harrison, Daily Variety reports. “George Harrison’s music and his search for spiritual meaning is a story that still resonates today and I’m looking forward to delving deeper,” Scorsese said of the project. Harrison’s widow, Olivia, who will serve as a producer on the film, which will go into production this year. “It would have given George great joy to know that Martin Scorsese has agreed to tell his story,” she said. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have also agreed to participate.
And it appears that, finally, we will see the fruit of Peter Bogdanovich's yearlong filming of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' 30th Anniversary Tour.
In other rock movie news: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are about to get the documentary treatment at the hands of filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Runnin’ Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will debut at the New York Film Festival in October, and will then be available as a four-disc set at Best Buys nationwide. In addition to the documentary film, the release comes with a DVD of the band’s 30th Anniversary Concert in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida, as well as collection of rarities. quotes Quentin Tarantino's desire to make a film with Ringo Starr. (If he can do for Ringo what he did for John Travolta, you can imagine that Ringo is listening carefully.)
PULP FICTION director QUENTIN TARANTINO is hoping to cast BEATLES legend RINGO STARR in an upcoming movie role. The cult filmmaker admired the drummer's presence onstage and believes he has the abilities to star in a future film. He says, "I'm Elvis over the Beatles any day of the week but there's always been something special about Ringo. "I've always thought he had the best stage presence in the band."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Battle at Kruger

Here we have proof that it's never too late to give up. Don't mind the shaky camera work. It's worth putting up with.

My father-in-law showed this viral video to us. He said "before you watch this, don't freak out, ok?"


Not that you ever planned to mess with a cape buffalo, but if you did, here's a thought: Don't—especially if the way you were going to do it was by picking on one of his kids.

Cape buffalo aren't usually the stuff of news, but in the last month they've become the heroes of blogs, newsgroups and fan sites, ever since YouTube posted a video that may be the hottest upload in web history that doesn't include a naked famous person or a politician saying something career-ending. The 8-min., 23-sec. clip is a three-act play of attack, counterattack and rescue shot three summers ago in Kruger National Park in South Africa and posted only this May. Since then, it has been viewed more than 3.8 million times—200,000 times in a single day this week—drawn more than 6,000 comments and been bookmarked as a fan favorite more than 20,000 times. And a single viewing of the thriller in Kruger (though you're unlikely to watch it just once) shows why.

The smackdown took place at an ordinary watering hole where a small herd of cape buffalo were drinking and idling, wandering dangerously close to a pack of concealed lions that either did not smell very lion-like or, more probably, were crouching deliberately upwind. On the other side of the hole, six tourists and a guide watched in a parked range vehicle. The lions waited until the buffalo got close enough and then pounced, seizing the baby and scattering the adults. That's usually a game-ender for a baby buffalo, but things got even worse for this one as he struggled backwards, splashed part way into the water, and got his hind legs snagged by a pair of crocodiles. He somehow yanked free of them, but remained in the jaws of the lions until suddenly the adult cape buffalos stormed back in much greater numbers, dispersed the lions and made off with the remarkably unharmed baby.

"The guide told us that in his 15 years of doing this he'd never seen anything like it," American tourist Jason Schlosberg tells TIME. Schlosberg shot still pictures of the battle while a travelling companion, Dave Budzinski, shot the now-famous video.

The response from the YouTubers was less measured.

"Mess with one bean, you get the whole burrito," one posted.

"This is a disgrace for the lion family! Beaten by a cow!" said another.

Still others saw a larger message in the encounter. "A democratically elected government formed the LEMA (Lion Emergency Management Agency) which takes a little time to organize, but seems to come through in the end. We could learn something here."

"Majority rule, plain and simple," was how another put it.

Human geopolitics aside, what many wanted to know was just how common this kind of gang war is among species. Does such comparatively organized thrust and counterthrust occur routinely in nature, or were these unusually clever critters?

Certainly the battle for dinner between the lions and crocs was nothing unusual. Plenty of animals subscribe to the are-you-going-to-finish-that? school of eating, rarely waiting for the answer before trying to help themselves to someone else's meal. Even top predators like big jungle cats may spend as much time defending a kill as eating it, one of the reasons some of them will carry a carcass up into a tree before tucking in.

"It's common for two species to fight over a third. That's not unusual," says veterinarian and animal behaviorist Katherine Houpt of Cornell University.

What really surprised and delighted web viewers was the cavalry charge of the returning buffalos, who put themselves in the path of the predators to save the good-as-gone baby. Cape buffalo, after all, are not the MacArthur Fellows of the animal world. They're lumbering, quarrelsome and predictable in their movements and, says Houpt, "40% of them wind of them up in the belly of lions." But that means 60% don't, and the rescue that the Kruger group pulled off was actually nothing particularly special among herding species.

"These kinds of animals collaborate all the time," says the University of Pennsylvania's Sue McDonnell, also an animal behaviorist and vet. "The larger herd is broken down into smaller harems, with a domanant male and several females and their babies. If a youngster is threatened, both the harem males and bachelor males—which usually fight with one another—will get together to try to rescue it." You don't even have to travel to Africa to see such herbivorous first-responders at work. McDonnell specializes in studying wild horses and has occasionally seen the rough—sometimes lethal—treatment feral dogs receive when they're foolish enough to spook the group. Huzzahs for the heroism of the Kruger buffalos are fine for the web crowd, but for the herding males themselves, it's just part of the job description.

One question that's not answered—and probably not answerable—by either the video or the scientists is how well the beaten-up baby fared after the cameras stopped rolling. Certainly the right bite to the neck would have caused the baby to bleed out fast—which did not appear to happen—and the right hold on its hind legs would have broken them, making it impossible for him to trot back to the herd as he did. Buffalo hide is tough, and perhaps this baby was even tougher and scrappier than most—or perhaps the crocs and lions simply had their B-teams out that day. Whatever the answer, one of the best thing about the alternate-reality, user-driven world of the Web is the freedom it provides—in the absence of alternative evidence—to invent the endings we'd like to see. Judging by the 6,000-plus responses, in the YouTube world at least, the baby's doing just fine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Transformative Musical Experiences

On the drive into work today, I listened to some of the Eddie Vedder soundtrack to the upcoming movie adaptation of Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild". The Eddie Vedder solo stuff is great, very meditative, expansive, & reflective. It's the perfect kind of music to have a transformative musical experience to on a drive. Before leaving for work, I hastily threw together an MP3 CD of a variety of albums to listen to. Along with the Eddie Vedder on the CD, I put on Frank Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours", Robert Plant & Allison Krauss's "Raising Sand", Tegan & Sara's "The Con" and some John Hiatt.

I'm really excited to listen to the Robert Plant & Allison Krauss album. I watched a press kit for the album on (BTW Amazon, I would've gladly posted the video here if Amazon would allow it.) I'm not a huge fan of either artist really. I mean, I love Zeppelin as much as the next 30-something guy who spent their youth listening the them on Classic Rock Radio and trying to pick out "Stairway to Heaven". But I'm really keen on the uniqueness of the musical pairing between such polar opposite artistic backgrounds. In particular, I'm looking to hear a different Robert Plant than what I'm used to hearing in Zeppelin. And likewise, I'm interested in hearing Allison Krauss in a less wholesome, bluegrass vein.

My commute is 6 miles long and only takes 15-20 minutes depending on school zones and traffic. The shortness of the trip severely limits the possibility of having any transformative musical experiences.

Back in the day there were plenty of opportunities for transformative musical experiences. As a student, the drive down to Austin was long enough to listen to 2, 90-minute mix tapes. The drive up to Texoma-Land from Dallas was long enough for an album.

Given the short commute, my in-car choice for entertainment has changed somewhat. For the past 5 years, I've developed much more of an appetite for talk radio than I ever used to have. (Specifically, SPORTS Talk Radio.) Talk Radio can be transformative as well. But it's obviously not a musically transformative experience. Rather, it can be a thought provoking one. Dad used to tell me that I'd grow out of my zeal for music. I suppose that's manifest in my preference for SportsRadio these days. So this week I will make an attempt to listen to a bit more new music. Perhaps I'll have the occasional transformative musical experience.