Michael Mann’s cinematic book report dissects only a decade in the life of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali (Will Smith), though the time frame chosen reflects most of the champ’s highs and lows. Beginning with his first world title fight against champion Sonny Liston, “”Ali”” meanders its way through matches, failed marriages and government crackdowns until we reach the “”Rumble in the Jungle”” in 1974.

The screenplay, from a story by Gregory Allen Howard, focuses primarily on two facets of Ali’s life – his religion and his sport – and relays them to us via the boxer’s relationships with two strong men: Malcolm X (Mario Van Peebles) and Howard Cosell (Jon Voight). How they met or became so close is left to our imaginations, though Ali’s respect for them is evident. The relationship with Cosell, a bond of mutual respect that fueled an on-air promotional circus from time to time, deserves its own movie – and the wonderful Voight would have to resume the role. Here, it is left in the shadows too often.””Ali,”” however, does pack plenty of punches, most notably the mesmerizing turn by Smith. Mann’s film, and Smith’s performance, must compete with the collective memories of boxing fans, as well as the highlight reels and outtakes shown year-round on ESPN. They display the real Ali – floating, stinging, and constantly singing his own praises. But I did see more than a few traces of Ali in Smith, and I learned more about both men as a result of the actor’s resounding performance. Smith provides the man with passion, pain, extreme confidence, and even fear (look for it when Ali faces the juggernaut of George Foreman in Africa).But once again, the director needs an editor. With “”Heat”” and “”The Insider,”” Mann has earned his reputation for lengthy prose, and “”Ali”” certainly goes the distance. At just under three hours, the film stutter-steps, bobs and weaves for 9 solid rounds, but tires just when the knockout punch should have been delivered. By the famed “”Rumble In The Jungle,”” a benchmark battle between an exonerated Ali and the relentless Foreman, the length and repetitiveness of the material was felt. Grade: BTHE EXTRASCall it trailer park trash, as Columbia TriStar’s DVD for Mann’s “Ali” offers nothing but trailers for this film, as well as the upcoming “Men In Black II” and “Spider-Man.” The video transfer is gorgeous, and Mann’s soundtrack punches up the already vibrant action. Still, the lack of extras is felt.Grade: DOVERALL EXPERIENCE: C“Ali” will be remembered for Smith’s compelling performance, but its much more than that. For anyone unfamiliar with the prominent sports figure (is that possible?), it’s a launching pad, but not nearly the comprehensive biographical piece it needed to be. By Sean O’ConnellApril 29, 2002

See you in a week

okay guys, this is it…will not be on for the rest of the day..if i do it will be to finish on the day we first met…put the next two up..just one chapter to go…i have another story in mind when i return…

have to do some packing and some last minute trip things and i leave for florida tomorrow at 10:40 am…first time i have been on a plane since 9/11 and i am told i have a lot of extra things to do…but let’s hope its all for the good of the airlines….

see you guys in a week…enjoy….will miss you…

TLC Singer Lisa Lopez Dies

TLC singer Lisa Lopes killed in car crash

ATLANTA (AP) â€â€? Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the effervescent, sometimes volatile rapping member of the Grammy-winning trio TLC, was killed in a car crash in Honduras, her record company said early Friday.

Lopes, 31, was in the Central American nation for a vacation, Arista Records’ senior vice president of publicity Laura Swanson told The Associated Press. Lopes was reportedly among seven people in the car Thursday night and the only fatality.

“No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss,” said Arista president L.A. Reid, who helped shape the career of the Atlanta-based R&B group, one of the best-selling female groups in history.

“Lisa was not only a gifted and talented musical inspiration, but more importantly, she was like a daughter to me. My thoughts and prayers are with Lisa’s family and friends. Her legacy will be remembered forever.”

The location of the car crash was not immediately determined. It was unclear whether she was wearing a seatbelt.

TLC, which also includes Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, were the group behind such hits as Waterfall, No Scrubs and Unpretty. Their latest album was FanMail.

“We had all grown up together and were as close as a family,” the surviving bandmates said in a statement Friday. “Today we have truly lost our sister.”

The group made its debut in 1992 with the disc Ooooooh … On the TLC Tip! Their unique sound, which paired Watkins and Thomas’ vocals with Lopes’ fast-paced, squeaky-voiced rhymes, made them an immediate sensation, along with their baggy, condom-attached wardrobe.

In 1994, they returned with CrazySexyCool â€â€? Lopes was dubbed the “crazy” member of the group, Thomas the “sexy” one and Watkins the “cool” one. The quadruple platinum album saw the women abandon their sometimes gimmicky image to evolve into a critically acclaimed group. The disc included the No. 1 hit Creep and won them the first two of their four Grammy Awards.

But with success came enough turmoil to fill a VH1 Behind the Music special. The trio declared bankruptcy a few years ago, citing poorly structured recording contracts.

In 1994, Lopes pleaded guilty to arson in a fire that destroyed the mansion of former Atlanta Falcons receiver Andre Rison, her boyfriend. Lopes was sentenced to a halfway house and five years probation, plus a $10,000 fine.

Lopes admitted she started the fire after an argument with Rison. The mansion was valued at more than $1 million. The two later broke up, only to reunite and break up again. However, last year they announced plans to marry.

Watkins was hospitalized several times, suffering from sickle cell anemia, a serious blood disease, and infighting among group members also was reported. In 2000, after the release of the triple-platinum disc FanMail, Lopes publicly challenged Watkins and Thomas to put out solo albums, and let fans determine who was the most popular group member.

But in an interview with the AP later that year, Watkins dismissed talk of a serious rift.

“With three women, you agree to disagree. I’m not always going to agree with Lisa and she’s not always going to agree with me, that’s fine,” she said.

TLC had been on hiatus, but had recently been in the studio working on a new record due to have been released this year. Lopes had tried to release her own album last year called Supernova; It was released internationally by Arista, but poor radio support for the record caused the project to be shelved in the United States.

Within in past few months, Lopes reportedly signed a solo deal with Suge Knight’s Death Row label to put out a solo project under the pseudonym, N.I.N.A. (New Identity Not Applicable). She also helped start the group Blaque, an R&B trio who had the hit Bring It Home To Me.

Arista spokeswoman Laura Swanson said that Lopes went frequently to Honduras to vacation.

“She just found it really peaceful and tranquil, and it was a very special place for her,” she said.

Her manager has flown to Honduras to bring her body back to the United States, Swanson said.

Great piece of music

For anyone looking for some great music to listen to try “An American Elegy” by Frank Tichelli. It is absolutely gorgeous. It was written for Columbine High School. There is a part about 7 minutes in where the entire ensemble plays long long short short long and according to notes that is “We are Columbine”.

[ Edited by BlueRose on 2002/4/26 23:24:11 ]

Jason X

The latest reincarnation of the decades-old saga of Jason Voorhees leaves behind a single word: ennui. Jason, played by Kane Hodder, fails to convey the terror of the early films in the series, instead seeming like he must walk gingerly because his pants are filled with diarrhea.

While there is certainly worse acting to be found on the big screen, it seems the female characters were chosen for their measurements, not their on-screen personas. In fact, one might refer to this film as Jason and the Breasts. The story unfolds as Jason is thawed out approximately 400 years after being cryogenically frozen. He is on a space vessel and (surprise!) he begins killing the crew one by one. Due to the advertising campaign on this film, everyone is aware that Jason somehow becomes half cyborg. This destroyed the one moment of the film that could have brought a nice twist to the long-dead story, when Jason, after supposedly being destroyed, reappears in his new metallic guise.Just when you think it cannot get any worse, the end of the story seems hurried. Suddenly, that which seems implausible within the implausible happens again and again. I heard several epithets from the audience as the film drew to a close, and it took enormous resolve to prevent me from using foul language.I was worried from the beginning when a Carrot Top-like character appeared on screen. As annoying as the Jar-Jar character from the most recent Star Wars film, it seemed a bad omen for the rest of the film. Fortunately, Rowan, played by Lexa Doig of Tek War fame, provides a good balance for the other annoyances of the film. She is saved from the cheap dialogue that plagues the other characters. One of the most interesting characters was Kay-Em 14, played by Lisa Ryder. Though comparisons will be drawn with Leonard Nimoy

Oh The Irony – FileSwappers Getting What They Deserve

I bet Hollywood Companies are just getting a kick out of this article from CNet.

Hackers turn tables on file-swapping firms

By John Borland
Staff Writer, CNET
April 25, 2002, 4:00 AM PT

The record companies had their Napster, and the stream of file-swapping companies that followed. The file-swapping companies now have their “Dr. Damn.”
For the past several weeks, the pseudonymous programmer, who says he’s a male college student and declines to give his real name, has been releasing versions of popular file-swapping programs online with the advertising and user-tracking features stripped out.

He’s done Grokster and iMesh. And he’s not alone. His work, now available through the Grokster and iMesh networks themselves, joins that of other programmers who have previously “cleaned” programs such as Kazaa and Audiogalaxy in a campaign against “adware” and “spyware.”

“I’ve never been a big fan of large companies spying on their users,” Dr. Damn wrote in an instant messenger interview. “Especially me.”

The college student and his “Clean Clients” site form just one part of a growing backlash against the software now routinely bundled with free file trading programs. These piggyback software packages, which include Gator, Cydoor, and others, often track computer users’ activity online to show them targeted advertisements. In Altnet’s case, the add-on promises to turn users’ computers into links in a new for-profit peer-to-peer network.

The “clean” software movement, which threatens to pinch off the stream of advertising and bundling revenues that supports free software, has put the file-swapping companies in an awkward position. For years, record companies and movie studios have complained that Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus and others were contributing to the theft of their intellectual property.

Now those same companies, seeking revenue to support their own businesses, are complaining that their intellectual property is being hijacked. In almost every case, the hacked version of their software is even being distributed through their own file-swapping networks.

All of the software companies require people to accept terms of service, which bar users from hacking into the software. These “click wrap”-style agreements have generally been upheld by courts, unless the terms are deemed unreasonable.

Kazaa’s agreement, for example, states: “Except as expressly permitted in this License, you agree not to reverse engineer, de-compile, disassemble, alter, duplicate, modify, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, make copies, create derivative works from, distribute or provide others with the KaZaA Media Desktop Software in whole or part or transmit the application over a network.”

But the file-swappers’ difficulties aren’t drawing much sympathy from more traditional intellectual property circles.

“It’s refreshing to see they’re interested in fighting for intellectual property,” said Amanda Collins, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America.

Same great MP3s, less filling
The most popular of the hacked file-swapping sites, Kazaa Lite, has already attracted legal threats from Sharman Networks, the Australian company that owns the Kazaa software.

“We mean to stamp it out,” said Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming in a conference call Tuesday.

Kazaa Lite was allegedly created by a Moscow resident who uses the name “Yuri.” Few in the file-swapping community will admit to knowing how to reach this figure, and some have even speculated that he’s an invention to protect the actual creators of Kazaa Lite. However, the software has been floating in various places around the Net for at least two months.

A manifesto allegedly written by Yuri, posted on one of the original distribution sites, describes the creator’s motivation. In the message, he thanks Kazaa for creating good software, but says its bundling policy is misleading.

“The real workings of these third party software is not sufficiently explained to the end users,” the message attributed to Yuri reads. “The legal notice is very long and difficult to understand, particularly for those whose native language is not English. Fact is that most users of KaZaA don’t even know that there were some third party software installed by KaZaA, or more important what that software does.”

One of the most popular distribution points for the software is, a site run by 18-year-old Scottish university student Shaun Garriock. He says he started the site in late February and receives software updates by anonymous e-mail from Yuri. Other people around the world have started e-mailing him versions of the software in other languages, he says.

Sharman Networks is fighting back. They’ve successfully had the Kazaa Lite software taken out of, a popular software aggregation site operated by publisher CNET Networks. In a conference call Wednesday, Sharman’s Hemming said the company was in the process of seeking cease-and-desist orders against everyone in the KazaaLite distribution chain–“the Muscovite and everybody,” she said.

“They’re essentially hackers and rippers,” Hemming said. “Basically our brand name is being damaged quite significantly by these activities.”

Not all file-swapping companies are as sensitive to the issue.

“I’m personally aware of it,” said Michael Merhej, CEO of Audiogalaxy. “Have I thought about it for a second? No.”

According to Dr. Damn, the “cleaned” versions of the software aren’t hard to create. He says he just looked at what the official Grokster and iMesh installation programs were putting on his computer, and then built his own installer, and put only the ordinary Grokster and iMesh files inside.

The advertising software built by Cydoor is built more deeply into Grokster, Kazaa and several other software programs. But a “dummy” version of their software has been created by CounterExploitation, a pair of college students who have become online privacy activists. Their work is used in several of the hacked file-swapping programs.

The hacked software is just one thread of the Net’s technological response to the explosion of bundled software. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware, a piece of software that can strip out adware and spyware components from other programs, has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

But as the hacked software movement grows, it is being forced more deeply underground. Already Dr. Damn’s ISP has told him it will no longer host his files. He’s looking for another provider.’s Garriock says he’s thinking of e-mailing Sharman Networks in hopes of repairing any damage done.

“Even if they take the site down the program will survive somehow,” he wrote in an IM interview. “But I don’t want to go to jail yet for the people.”

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