Monday, November 24, 2008 Highlander vs. the Thetans

From today's LA Times:
Guard fatally shoots man armed with swords at Scientology building

Police say surveillance tape at the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood backs the guard's contention that he was acting in self-defense.

By James Wagner and Harriet Ryan
November 24, 2008

A security guard at the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood on Sunday shot and killed a man wielding two samurai swords, police said.

Police detained the guard for questioning but said that a surveillance tape at the facility backed his claim that he fired his semiautomatic handgun to protect himself and two colleagues.

"The evidence is very clear the security officers were defending their safety," said Deputy Chief Terry S. Hara of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police did not release the name of the guard or the man killed in the shooting, which occurred about noon. An investigator said the man had a history with the church but was not a member now. The tape showed the man arriving at the Celebrity Centre's Bronson Avenue parking lot in a red convertible, getting out of the vehicle and approaching a trio of security guards and waving a sword in each hand, Hara said.

He said the man, who was described as being in his 40s, was "close enough to hurt them" when the guard fired. The man was taken to County-USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Det. Wendi Berndt said the man was involved with the church "a long time ago."

"There was a previous relationship, but it is unclear to what degree," she said.

A teenager who saw the man arrive in the parking lot said he stopped the car abruptly in the driveway and climbed out with a 5-foot sword in his hand and an angry expression on his face.

Tony Marquez, 17, said the man, who was bald and had tattoos on his arms, walked toward the building, then returned to the car to get the other sword.

"I thought it was part of a show," said Marquez, of Ontario. He and his mother entered the building before the shooting began.

Police said the guard worked for a private security company. Detectives cordoned off the Franklin Avenue complex with yellow tape as investigators combed through the man's Toyota Solara. The incident occurred at one of Hollywood's most distinctive landmarks. Originally a luxury hotel, the eight-story building was built in the style of a 17th century French castle with a striking white facade and turrets that loom over the nearby Hollywood Freeway.

The church remade the building into a facility aimed at celebrities 39 years ago. According to a church website, the Celebrity Centre caters to "artists, politicians, leaders of industry, sports figures and anyone with the power and vision to create a better world." The complex includes a restaurant, theater and hotel. Representatives of the church did not return calls.

"I have no information," said a woman who answered the phone at the Celebrity Centre.

The facility is ringed by a fence, and security cameras dot the property's perimeter. Guards on bikes also patrol the area.

"That is one thing about living here, you get free security," said Brant Hoibin, 34, who lives in an apartment adjacent to the Celebrity Centre.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 Random Image: Six Dogs

June 2005, just off Commercial Street, Bangalore, India.

Monday, November 17, 2008 Terrible Spaceship

Stressed out by several weeks of 10-12 hour days at the office, I had trouble sleeping last Wednesday night. I wandered over to the large stack of unread books piling up in the other room and pulled out one at random. War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches is a collection of short stories detailing the activities of various historical personages during H.G. Welles' Martian invasion. I finished a couple of entertaining tales - featuring H.P. Lovecraft, Emily Dickinson, and the Texas Rangers (albeit not together) - before drifting off to sleep.

The very next morning, on the drive in to what would be another long day at work, I was listening to Eight Forty-Eight on WBEZ and heard this:

A Chicago synthpop band whose music is inspired by and heavily samples from the Mercury Theater version of The War of the Worlds! And they'd be on the bill at Martyr's that very weekend! Coincidence? Or a subtle sign from some alien intellect, vast, cool and unsympathetic?

I really tried to make the show. Really. But the long week at work had killed me, and what little energy I had left over was spent attending a Red Cross seminar I had signed up for long before. It sucks to be old.

At the least I can console myself with the live footage from the band's MySpace page and by grabbing the entire Terrible Spaceship album free from And now you can, too.

Terrible Spaceship at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 Batman Sues Christopher Nolan

From today's Guardian
Batman launches suit against Christopher Nolan

Mayor of Turkish town claims Dark Knight director purloined the name of Batman without permission

Ben Child
Tuesday November 11 2008 11.26 GMT

He may have vanquished the Joker, but it looks like Batman has a new enemy - a Turkish town that claims the caped crusader stole its name.

Hüseyin Kalkan, mayor of Batman, an ancient oil-producing town in south-eastern Turkey, is planning to sue Christopher Nolan, director of the recent box-office behemoth The Dark Knight, over the use of the name in the film. He claims Nolan and Warner Bros, which owns the film rights to the comic-book character, purloined the name without checking with him first.

"There is only one Batman in the world," said Kalkan, a member of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society party. "The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."

The mayor will produce evidence of his city's neolithic origins to support his case that it predates the celluloid Batman. DC Comics originated Bob Kane's character in 1939 in Detective Comics #27.

Kalkan also blames a series of unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate on the psychological impact suffered by the town after being placed under the spotlight by Nolan's film. In addition, Batman expats living abroad have experienced legal issues when trying to use the name to set up businesses, he claims.
Wow. You'd think Turkey would be the last country to sue someone else over superhero copyright infringement.

There's an even better example here; I'd have embedded it, but the guy who posted it to YouTube doesn't want unauthorized use of his unauthorized use of a movie featuring the unauthorized use of someone else's IP. Whatever.

But a spate of unsolved murders and mysterious suicides in a town called "Batman"? The universe is too, too sublime sometimes.