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Archive for November, 2006

Moo-box

what? The moobox, also called boîte à meuh in French, is a kind of toy, a cylindrical box that goes 'moo' when flipped. It's typically known in France, in Belgium and in Switzerland.


The Real Da Vinci Code


< ?php echo ImageHeadline_render('D','shadow_spread=4&shadow_vertical_offset=2&shadow_horizontal_offset=2&background_color=#E6EADB&font_color=#009900&font_size=46&background_image=/data/members/paid/m/a/mazalien.nl/htdocs/www/weblog/wp-content/themes/connections/img/content_bg.png'); ?>an Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been a phenomenal success with millions of readers hooked, but what do historians think of the book? Discover the facts about the Holy Grail and cut through the thicket of mystery that surrounds the subject. The Real Da Vinci Code, a Wildfire Television production for Channel 4 first shown in February 2005. The Real Da Vinci Code ought to be the last word among plentiful video debates over the validity of startling claims in Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Produced by Britain's Channel Four Television and broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the U.S., the irreverent but no-nonsense documentary systematically dismantles so-called historical facts Brown embraced (not only in his story, but in interviews) to support the idea that the Holy Grail is actually the blood lineage of Jesus, carried by descendants of his child by Mary Magdalene. Hosted by Tony Robinson (Blackadder's Baldrick), The Real Da Vinci Code hopscotches through France, Scotland, Israel, Italy, Spain, and America to investigate evidence that the major historical players in Brown's alternative Grail legend--the heretical Cathars, the wealthy but persecuted Knights Templar, the secretive Priory of Sion--did the things Brown (and his research sources) said they did. Turns out these stories come up wanting, as does the basis for the 1982 Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which provided much of the foundation of Brown's book. Nothing is quite as remarkable as fairly damning proof of at least one major, late 20th-century hoax, associated with Grail quests, that has since been popularly accepted as fact. Same with assertions that Leonardo Da Vinci was one of many important people who kept records of Christ's progeny. The one ray of hope for Grail conspiracy theorists is the Magdalene cult woven through the pages of the Gnostic gospels, written by early Christians, and Robinson's split decision over whether that's Mary or St. John at Christ's right in Leonardo's The Last Supper. Even if one doesn't care about the subject, the flashes of wit (a bobblehead Jesus on Robinson's dashboard, comic-book images of Christ's supposed romance with Magdalene) are a hoot.

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Tetris

TETRIS: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
Tetris is one of the few games that achieves ultimate popularity. It is remarkably simple, yet remarkably difficult. It's been ported to every computer and game console known to man, and has sold millions of cartridges, tapes, and disks across the land.


This is the story behind the fiendishly addictive game, a tale of high stakes, intimidation and legal feuds set against the backdrop of Cold War tensions between East and West. A hard to find documentary about Tetris and its creator Alexey Pajitnov. Also covers the rivalaries between Nintendo and Atari and the absurdities of buying copyrights for software from a country that doesn't believe in property, much less intellectual property. Ultimately, a great documentary about a very important game.

Q: What was the attraction of this project to you? Magnus Temple: I love stories where you look at something very specific but it says something about the general. You could make a programme about that time in Russian history but this reveals much more because it's about something surprising. Q: I'm not sure that many people will know that Tetris was invented in Russia... MT: Exactly. Most people remember Tetris from the Game Boy but few know the context in which that came about and quite what a chance thing it was. I suspect that had Game Boy not been in development at the same time as Tetris was first getting popular then it would be just another obscure 1980s computer game. Q: This programme places it as a really interesting footnote to the Cold War... MT: Very much so. To me, more than anything else I've ever looked at, it's really a game for its time. Everything about its development links so closely into that era's political and economic context. If it hadn't been for that moment in history Tetris would have been nothing. For a start it needed a certain level of technology to have ever been developed but it also needed that moment of political opening up to creep across the Iron Curtain and become a success in the West. Q: Despite those changes the documentary shows just how vast the gap was between the East and West... MT: They were still very much stuck in the culture of the old ways. The institutions in the Soviet Union were only just being set up to deal with commercial enterprises. It actually took a few smart individuals such as our Mr Belikov. What struck me was how quickly they took up the game of capitalism and managed to play the different Western companies off each other in quite an audacious way. They were very open about the fact that basically, they were being complete sharks. Q: How did you approach structuring the film? MT: It became very much the story of these four or five characters and that's very much the way we tried to play it - almost making them larger than life. You've got Robert Stein who almost became the fall-guy character; then there's Henk Rogers, who's the very smart, quick-moving American; you've got Belikov whose appearance is almost akin to a James Bond villain but ends up driving around San Francisco with his mate Henk Rogers. Finally there's Alexey Pajitnov, the guy who invented the game.
Magnus Temple
Q: Considering the slightly shady business shenanigans that went on, was it at all difficult to get these people to talk? MT: Alexey is a very unassuming guy. He likes the fact that the game is so well known but he's not really all that bothered by personal gain or fame. He had to be persuaded to get involved. You can imagine what it's like. He invents a game almost 20 years ago and it's the only thing people want to talk to him about even though he's still a professional games designer. He's had a lot of attention over the years but this was almost too much for him. Once he got into it I think he was very pleased. Obviously someone like Henk Rogers was only too happy to talk to us because he becomes the kind of cowboy hero of the piece. Interestingly the same was true of Robert Stein. He doesn't come off that well from the wheeling and dealing that went on but was very open about his role. He has a very philosophical you win some, you lose some attitude. Belikov was a much harder nut to crack. We didn't know we were filming with him until we got on the plane to Moscow and I'd had a lot of negotiations with his lawyer. The fear was that the government in Russia still has a lot of the same figures who were around at that time and for him to speak out about his role was a big deal - he was putting his head slightly above the parapet even now. He was tricky but once he said yes he was very open and friendly and told us the whole story. I'd imagined he'd be very guarded. Obviously his interview was in Russian so I hadn't a clue what was going but I could see from the translator's face that it was going very well! PLAY TETRIS !!! :
Play Tetris!

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Dont fence me in


Don't Fence Me In: Major Mary and The Karen Refugees from Burma

ince 1962, Burma has been ruled by a military junta. Life has deteriorated markedly for its citizens. Despite its former prosperity and its rich resources, it was voted least developed nation by the UN in 1987, and human rights atrocities continue to prevail. Forced from their homes by the government, more than 100,000 people live in refugee camps along the border between Burma and Thailand; hundreds of thousands more hide in jungles on the Burma side. They are the Karen people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Burma.

Don't Fence Me In chronicles the life of 70-year-old freedom fighter Major Mary On and her people's struggle for self-determination. Mary explains how the Karen are fighting for their very survival; the Burmese military's goal is “to wipe the Karen away so if you want to see them you'll have to go see them in the museum. See just an image or picture.” Her charismatic storytelling is accompanied by rare, clandestine footage smuggled out of the Karen refugee camps.

She illuminates the plight of the Karen still inside Burma, having little food and hiding in the jungle, yet proving remarkably resilient. While the Karen have lost their land, their way of life, and many of those who lived and fought beside them for independence, they have not lost their ties to a rich and beautiful history that transcends their present day despair. The film reveals the Karen refugees' spirit and determination to survive as political and historical forces conspire against them. Don't Fence Me In is an eloquent and moving chronicle of human rights abuses that must finally be brought to the attention of the global community.

"Deeply moving and hauntingly beautiful, Don't Fence Me In . . . tells a universal story of struggle against oppression and the creativity and courage that inspire people to make meaning of their lives, as their most basic rights - including the right to live - are systematically violated." — Ellen Bruno, filmmaker of the award-winning documentary Sacrifice: The Story of Child Prostitutes from Burma.

We are not beggars


his documentary depicts the life of several child street performers in a contemporary Chinese city. These children had been wandering the country as street performers for four years and are virtual "untouchables" to most Chinese. The camera follows them in their daily rounds through the streets, performing acrobatic tricks and begging. It captures their daily struggles for survival and their dream to return home and go to school, and looks at how these children face the challenges of a harsh environment with inner strength. Through this program we have a window on a little known aspect of Chinese society today and the realities facing so many of the world's children.
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