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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Inside True Blood’s “Me and the Devil”

In Characters and Creators, Entertainment, Shape Shifters, Television, True Blood, Vampires, Wizards/Witches/Pagans on 31 July, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Still reeling from last week’s episode of True Blood?

To help curb you craving for more, HBO has released an inside look into “Me and the Devil”.

Listen as the writers discuss the inner turmoil Tommy is suffering in the aftermath of the deaths of his parents. Find out if they used a real alligator or a puppet and why. This inside peek sheds new light on the episode and show, guaranteed to help curb some of the side effects of True Blood withdrawal in the hours prior to tonight’s new episode.

Don’t forget to tune in to  “I Wish I Was the Moon“, on HBO or HBOGO at 9/8c.

The week’s best renting and selling DVDs with preternatural twists

In Uncategorized on 31 July, 2011 at 11:10 am

Six preternatural films appeared on Rentrak’s most rented DVD list and four appeared on the best-selling list this week.

In its first week on video, Limitless, ranked as the 1st most rented DVD and the 2nd best-selling DVD of the week. Directed by Neil Berger for Fox, and starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish (Sweet Pea in Sucker Punch), a writer discovers a top-secret drug, which bestows him with super human abilities.

In its second week on video, Insidious, ranked as the 4th most rented DVD and the 5th best-selling DVD of the week. Directed by James Wan and starring Patrick Wilson (Dan Dreiberg/Night Owl in Watchman), Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert in X-Men: First Class) and Ty Simpkins (Michael Wheeler in Revolutionary Road), A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.

Assuming that alternate realities count as preternatural, in its fourth week on video, Sucker Punch, directed by Zack Snyder for Warner Bros. ranked as the 10th best-selling DVD and the 8th most rented DVD of the week. A young girl is sent to a mental institution by her abusive step-father. She, along with other patients, concoct a plan to escape but in order to do so, they must retreat to an alternate reality. Sucker Punch stars Baby Doll (Emily Browning, Violet for Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens who also stars as Lindy in Beastly).

Directed by Bragi F. Schut for Fox, Season of the Witch, starring Behmen (Nicolas Cage who also lends his face to Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider and the upcoming Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance due out in 2012), Felson (preternatural icon Ron Perlman, otherwise known as Hellboy or Vincent from the 1980′s series Beauty and the Beast) and the girl (Claire Foy), in its fourth week in video, did not appear on the best-selling list, however, it is still holding strong on the most rented DVD list, ranking as the 6th most- rented DVD this week. Season of the Witch chronicles the adventures of 14th Century knights (Cage and Perlman) escorting a witch (Foy), who is accused of being the source of the Black Plague, to a monastery.

Beastly, directed by Daniel Barnz for Sony and starring Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens, also Blondie in Sucker Punch), Kyle (Alex Pettyfer whom fans will recognize as John for I Am Number Four) and Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) ranked 10th on the most rented DVD list and did not appear on the best-selling DVD list in its fourth week on video. A re-telling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, Beastly has a modern twist, as a New York teenager (Pettyfer) is turned into a hideous monster by a witch (Olsen) in order to find true love. Oh, and did we mention Will, the blind tutor, looks a lot like Neil Patrick Harris?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is holding strong on the best selling DVD list this week. Directed by David Yates for Warner Bros. and written by Steve Kloves and J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 ranked as the 3rd best-selling DVD this week in its 15th week on video. As Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) race against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, they uncover the existence of three most powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.

All in all, it was another good week for these films and it seems that witchy shenanigans have taken over the best-selling and most-rented DVD lists for another week. What have you rented and/or bought to watch this weekend?

“I Wish I Was the Moon” What’s coming tonight in True Blood

In Characters and Creators, Entertainment, Ghosts, Shape Shifters, Television, True Blood, Vampires, Wizards/Witches/Pagans on 31 July, 2011 at 6:00 am

The devil has come to Bon Temps and now the full moon is rising.

What is in store for our favorite characters from HBO‘s hit TV show, True Blood?

Only a few more hours until truebies everywhere get their next taste of True Blood.

Sookie searches for Jason under a full moon; Marnie connects with spirits of the past; Arlene and Terry cope with a suspicious inferno; Debbie urges Alcide to join a new werewolf community; Tommy trades places with Sam; Lafayette feels the spirit in Mexico; Eric surrenders to his King’s will.

Source: IMDB

This season is just heating up and tonight marks the halfway point. The witches are just starting to brew up trouble and everyone still has more of their true colors to reveal.

Check out tonight’s episode on HBO at 9/8cst or you can tune in at HBOGO.

Tweeting about the show? Remember to tag your tweets with #TheMoon to join in the conversation with truebies everywhere!

Weighing antimatter

In Science, vox populi on 30 July, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Science fiction creators love antimatter. Nature, not so much. Hoping to shed some light on just why nature prefer’s matter over antimatter, scientists have weighed, or rather measured the mass of the anitproton, to an unprecedented level of accuracy — roughly one part per billion, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature.

“Imagine measuring the weight of the Eiffel tower, ” said Masaki Hori, a project leader in the Japanese-European ASACUSA (Atomic Spectroscopy And Collisions Using Slow Antiprotons) experiment at CERN which conducted the measurements. “The accuracy we’ve achieved here is roughly equivalent to making that measurement to within less that the weight of a sparrow perched on the top. Next time it will be a feather.”

Protons constitute half the world around us. That includes half the human body. This abundance of protons leads to the logical conclusion that the mass of a proton should be measurable to a greater accuracy than that of antiprotons. Naturally occurring protons have primarily been found in cosmic rays. Although they are stable particles, they do not exist for long because any collision with the abundant proton particles annihilates both particles is a burst of energy and secondary particles, which is probably why it is such a popular source of energy in sci-fi space travel.

“Antimatter has tremendous energy density,” Dr. Georges Schmidt told a far out propulsion conference in 1999, noting that matter-antimatter annihilation release more energy per unit mass of any reaction known to physics at that time.

To measure the mass of antiprotons, scientists first capture them inside helium atoms where they can be “tickled” using a laser beam. The laser frequency is adjusted until it causes the antiprotons to make a quantum jump within the atoms. The mass of the antiproton particles can then be calculated based on the frequency of the laser that caused the jump.

This method of measuring mass is not perfect, however.

Much like people, atoms are not stationary. They jiggle around. Some moving towards the laser beam while others move away. When they move, they experience slightly different frequencies. Think of it like an approaching siren or train whistle. As the vehicle or train approaches you then passes you, the pitch of the siren of the whistle seem to change.

To counter this inherent imprecision, the ASACUSA scientist used two laser beams which allowed them to measure the mass of an antiproton with a very high degree of accuracy.

“This is a very satisfying result,” Hori stated. “It means that our measurement of the antiproton’s mass relative to the electron is now almost as accurate as that of the proton.”

If you’re wondering what’s so important about measuring the mass of a particle that isn’t very common in nature and is destroyed when it collides with matter?

For starters: any difference between the mass of protons and antiprotons would indicate that the laws of nature work differently for matter and antimatter. In other words, different masses would mean we need different physics, and that would turn not just human science on its ear but also science fiction.

This new, more precise measurement is just one of the antimatter advances that have been made this year. In June, another CERN experiment trapped antimatter atoms for more than 16 minutes.

“We can keep the antihydrogen atoms trapped for 1000 seconds,” explained Jeffery Hangst, spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment. “This is long enough to begin to study them — even with the small number that we can catch so far.”

New sources of antimatter, which scientists theorize would have been created in amounts equal to matter at the Big Bang, have also been discovered. Scientists have created antimatter using particle accelerators, however, in January 2011, researchers with NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) team announced that beams of antimatter had been detected above thunderstorms.

So while we are not quite able to venture into space using science fiction’s antimatter drives, we are taking baby steps in that direction. And who’s to say others haven’t beaten us there? Perhaps that’s where all the antimatter is being collected.

This week’s top preternatural e-books

In Aliens, Books, Dragons, Ghosts on 30 July, 2011 at 10:06 am

We never dreamed it could happen. Nothing, Nothing! Could ever lure us away from reading books. Real books, not some book file on a computer screen. Hard bound or paperback, it didn’t matter. Reading was about more than just the words on the page. Or so we thought. Lately, however, we’ve had a change of heart.

You see, we’ve been on the road and our iPod, GalaxyTab, Kindle, Nook, NetBook and even laptops hold so many more books than our carry-on luggage ever could. And we’d be lugging them anyway, even if we were carrying books. So we’ve started reading e-books. And we have to admit, we’re hooked. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Fiction

A Song of Fire and Ice series

This week’s list of 5 bestselling e-books is entirely tied to the popular HBO original series Game of Thrones. In fact, four of the top five selling fictional paperback books are related to the series and written by George R.R. Martin and published byBantam Dell. The top 5 bestselling e-novels are:

  1. A Dance of Dragons
  2. A Game of Thrones
  3. A Clash of Kings
  4. A Storm of Swords
  5. A Feast for Crows

A Game of Thrones, the first in the series and the bestselling paperback fiction book of the week was nominated for a Nebula award and introduces readers to the vividly real world and characters of the Seven Kingdoms. Each subsequent book picks up the thread of the tale and carries it forward through complex plotting and such beautiful prose it’s almost a shame it was ruined by being performed.

Nonfiction

At the top of the nonfiction ebook list is Heaven is for Real: A little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. This book, told in the voice of a young Nebraska boy who had a near death experience, offers a remarkable glimpse into heaven wrapped in a charmingly simple message: Heaven is for Real. Published by Thomas Nelson. (Ranked Number 2 on the NYT list.)

Ever wonder why Maenads believe so strongly in Dionysus that they will themselves into becoming immortal? Or if there is life after death? Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, expresses his theory on the birth and actualization of beliefs. From superstitions, believing in aliens to economic and political beliefs, this book doesn’t discriminate in its analysis of beliefs, regardless of how realistic or bizarre they may be. Published by Times Books. (Ranked Number 26 on the NYT lst)

We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations. Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow.

Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen, is a compelling and at times revealing account of the most famous military installation that doesn’t exist. Once considered science fiction,Area 51 is full of myths and conspiracy theories that captivated imaginations for much of the last half of the 2oth century. Based on interviews from those who have lived and worked there, this is the first non fiction book chronicling the history of Area 51 in a fascinating eye-witness narrative demonstrating that fact can be as gripping as fiction and sometimes even more incredible. Published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Books Group. (Ranked Number 34 on the NYT list.)

90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life offers another glimpse into heaven, this time through the eyes of Baptist minister (and author) Don Piper. After years of keeping this remarkable experience to himself, friends and family have finally prevailed upon him to share (with a little help from Cecil Murphey)  the tale with the world. After being declared dead at the scene of an accident, Piper spends 90 Minutes in Heaven, before coming back to life and a long painful recovery. This book, published by Revell Books, a division of the Baker Publishing Group, reveals a story that may just change a life. (Ranked Number 35 overall on the NYT list .)

That should give you something to get your e-book collection started. Oh, and did we mention that when you pre-order e-books (like, say the next Sookie Stackhouse novel from Charlaine Harris) they ge delivered directly to your device, wherever it is, as soon as they become available? Beats waiting for the UPS guy….

The games never end in the UK thanks to GameStop

In Games, Shopping on 30 July, 2011 at 6:16 am

GameStop, the world’s largest multichannel video game retailer has launched a new website designed specifically for gamers in the Untied Kingdom. Game enthusiasts in the UK will now have round the clock access to the widest selection of gaming hardware, software , accessories  and pre-owned games, as well as GameStop’s full range of digital content and services through www.gamestop.co.uk.

To celebrate, GameStop is offering online customers at http://www.gamestop.co.uk a number of special offers, including:

  • Nintendo 3DS Cosmic Black Console, no only £154.97
  • Call to Juarez only £21.97 (for Ps3 or Xbox 360)
  • 3 for 2 on Pre-owned Games — buy two pre-owned games and get the third free. Thousands of titles to choose from.
  • Exclusive Assassin’s Creed® Revelations Animus Edition now available for preorder.

In addition, gamers who pre-order Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare on www.gamstop.co.uk will be entered into a contest to win two tickets to the Call of Duty XP event in Los Angeles, CA, USA. For more details on entering, visit www.gamestop.co.uk/MW3/Preorder.

All offers are limited and available on a first come first serve basis.

“GameStop’s entry into the UK online market will provide consumers with more choices and exclusive content that they can’t find anywhere else,” said Mike Mauler, executive vice president of GameStop International. “One of our European exclusives is for the anticipated release of Assassin’s Creed Revelations Animus Edition, which will be available to UK gamers on through www.gamestop.co.uk.”

Assassin's Creed Revelations Marketplace Screenshot

Assassin's Creed Revelations Screenshot courtesy of Ubisoft

Nintendo 3DS price drops but current owners get free games

In Games, Shopping on 29 July, 2011 at 1:09 pm

“For anyone who was on the fence about buying a Ninetendo 3DS, this is a huge motivation to buy now,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. “We are giving shoppers every incentive to pick up a Ninetendo 3DS, from an amazing new price to a rapid-fire succession of great games.”

Which is better: getting a bargain price on a hot portable games system or getting hot new games based on some of the most beloved video game franchises for free?

New Low Price

Effective 12 August, 2011, Nintendo of America is dropping the retail price of the Nintendo 3DS™ system from the suggested launch price of $249.99 to $169.99 in the U.S. The lower price opens up the glasses-free 3D experience and one of the strongest game lineups of any video gaming system just in time for the holiday shopping season. In addition to great games, and a new great price, Nintendo 3DS has a host of attractive features including:

  • The new Nintendo Video™ service which automatically delivers short 3D videos from Hollywood as wells as music videos and animation.
  • The Nintendo eShop, a digital store for Nintendo 3DS owners that provides access to a wide variety of downloadable content, such as original 3D software, classic games remastered in 3D (3D Classics), Game Boy™ and Game Boy Color “Virtual Console” games in their original 2D glory and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare™ games. Visitors to the Nintendo eShop can also view video game trailers, screen shots and product information for games, including those available at retail locations.
  • Speaking of viewing, a free application allows Netflix members with unlimited streaming plans to instantly watch TV episodes and movies streaming from Netflix.

Not a bad gift, right?

This is the first time in Nintendo’s history, according to Fortune’s Tech blog, that the company has cut the price of a newly launched product by 40 percent during the first 6 months.

Free Games

What if you’re among the more than 830,000 people in the U.S. alone who have already purchased a Nintendo 3DS since the system launched in March? Don’t despair! Nintendo recognizes that these early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS represent some of the company’s most loyal customers. Nintendo is rewarding current owners of the Nintendo 3DS system with 20 downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop for free.

If you already own a Nintendo 3DS system, all you have to do is connect, at least once, to the Nintendo eShop using a wireless broadband internet connection before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on 11 August, 2011. When you do you will be automatically registered in the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program.

There are two elements to the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program:

  1. Beginning 1 September, 2011, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to Download 10 NES™ Virtual Console™ games at no charge. Better yet, Ambassadors will be able to download their games before the Nintendo eShop makes them available to the general public as paid downloadable games. Even once the paid versions of the games, which include such popular titles as The Legend of Zelda™, Super Mario Bros.™, Ice Climber™ and more will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost.
  2. By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games including titles like Yoshi’s Island™, Metroid™ Fusion, WarioWare™ , Super Mario™ Advance 3, Mario Kart™: Super Circuit, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong™. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors. Nintendo has no plans, at this time to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3Ds in the future.
Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS (image courtesy of Business Wire)

Some business analysts see the price cut and free game offer as a sign that Nintendo, whose Game Boy portable player and Wii console system have long dominated the market, as a sign of desperation resulting from the growing popularity of gaming on smartphones and tablets. The offers have led Nintendo to lower their annual profit forecast to 20 billion yen, a level last seen by the company in 1986, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and Bloomberg.

As challenging as the immediate future may look for Nintendo, gamers who don’t already own a Nintendo 3DS  face an even tougher challenge: deciding which is better: free games or a lower price. You have until 11 August, 2011 to decide.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution art show in NYC features original contemporary artworks

In Games, RP, Shopping on 29 July, 2011 at 5:34 am

Critics worry about video games spilling over into real life. Here’s one instance when they, and gamers, will be glad it does. Square Enix is bringing the latest installment of Deus Ex to life through the eyes of some of the world’s best contemporary artists in a unique group show in New York City.

Well-known contemporary artists from the U.S. and Mexico are unveiling original works of art inspired by the futuristic storyline of  Deus Ex: Human Revolution on 29 July, 2011 at NYC’s Wooster Street Social Club (yes, the same SoHo tattoo parlor where NY Ink is being filmed). Artists including 3rassiere, Eyeone, Jeremy Fish, Estevan Oriol, N8 Van Dyke, Sam Flores, Rico Deniro, Jorge Alderete and Robert Abeyta, Jr. among others will display poster-like images exploring the pros and cons of human augmentation.

The exhibit will run through 7 August, 2011. Proceeds will benefit art education in schools.

Deus Ex Human Revolution

Screen Shot from Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex is one of the most critically acclaimed video game franchises of all time. It is known for amazing in-game at as well as cinema quality storylines. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the long-awaited and much-anticipated return of the Deus Ex franchise, blends action and role-playing in a complex plot and extraordinary virtual world where opposing factions struggle for control of human evolution. As security specialist Adam Jensen, players are tasked with protecting one of the most experimental biotech firms in the U.S. When the scientists are attacked, using a plan you yourself designed, everything changes, including yourself. Instead of protecting, you’re tracking down leads around the globe engaging in epic battles even as you struggle to discover the path of mankind’s future in an open-ended world where choices have consequences and every challenge has more than one solution.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution will hit North American shelves  on 23 August, 2011. Rated M for Mature, Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be available for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, XBox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Windows PC, Steam® and OnLive®.

Bon Temps officer injured, police seek witnesses

In RP, Twitter on 28 July, 2011 at 1:43 pm

@KevinPriorBT of the Bon Temps Police Department was seriously injured in a traffic accident overnight. Officer Prior is currently hospitalized in serious condition. Few details are available, however the police are treating the accident as suspicious and asking that anyone with information please contact the BTPD immediately.

Car Crash

Officer Kevin Prior's vehicle after late night crash

The Secret Circle Contest

In Authors, Books, Characters and Creators, Entertainment, Wizards/Witches/Pagans on 28 July, 2011 at 10:57 am

In honor of the fall premiere of The Secret Circle, L. J. Smith, the author of the book series has announced a new contest on her website. The rules are simple and the grand prize is a stunning blue chalcedony teardrop pendant, teardrop earrings and ring set from Tiffany & Co.

Why this particular set? In the books, the main character Cassie is given a magical blue chalcedony rose from a mysterious boy she helps out. In order to discover the mystery behind the blue chalcedony rose and more, be sure to check out the The Secret Circle: The Initiation and The Captive Part I and The Secret Circle: The Captive Part II and The Power.

Now, the only magic this set will do for you is help you look fabulous.

Five second place winners will receive an autographed copy of The Secret Circle, Book One Omnibus.

The Secret Circle, Book One Omnibus

To enter, following these quick and easy steps using your personal e-mail account:

  1. Address the e-mail to: info@ljsmith.net
  2. Type “Secret Circle Contest” in the subject field
  3. Type your first name and last initial (or your entire name) in the body of the e-mail
It’s as simple as that! The contest runs until June 30 and all winners will be contacted via e-mail.

The Secret Circle premieres September 15 at 9/8c on CW.