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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sharon Gless, Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar star in USA Network's BURN NOTICE.

BURN NOTICE... Just thought I’d post an entry giving props to this awesome TV show, which airs Thursday nights on the USA Network with reruns being shown Wednesday nights on My13 (here in SoCal). Burn Notice is about a former spy named Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan), who abruptly loses his job with the U.S. government and has to make ends meet by using his Special Ops skills assisting hapless civilians in the city of Miami. He’s not alone in helping out innocent folks and fighting the bad guys in nice Florida sunshine, however... Westen is assisted by his hot but trigger-happy ex-girlfriend Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar), his close friend / FBI snitch Sam (played by none other than Bruce Campbell of The Evil Dead and Spider-Man movie-cameos fame) and Westen’s chain-smoking mom Madeline (played by Sharon Gless).

There are several reasons why Burn Notice is awesome: 1.) Michael Westen not only kicks ass, but he’s also like MacGyver...building cool contraptions like a cell phone-hacking device made out of a plastic cup and metal hangers (you’d have to watch the episode this was shown in to see how plausible it is), and giving good combat and spying advice whenever he is about to confront a new villain. (Plus— Have any of you ever heard of a ‘water saw’ before? Neither did I. Didn’t know about this cool tool till I watched a recent episode of this show.) 2.) It’s interesting to follow Westen’s quest of tracking down the government folks who suddenly fired him and erased his job history (also known as a burn notice...surprise, surprise). I’m not gonna elaborate, but I can also relate to how he tries to make a living by taking any job he can to make some cash after being "dumped" in Miami following his blacklisting. And 3.) I like how the show is set in Miami. I love Florida, and if it weren’t for the dang hurricanes, I’d totally move there.

Two syndicated episodes of Burn Notice airs on My13 (channel 13) at 8 PM and 9 PM tonight...while the show originally broadcasts at 9 PM on the USA Network tomorrow. Check it out. And no, I wasn’t paid to blog this. Though like Michael Westen, I’ll take the work.

Monday, August 29, 2011

SO LAST WEEK, I discovered online that Minka Kelly broke up with the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter. Niiice. I haven’t read Web news as awesome as this and totally irrelevant to me (unless I win the Mega Millions jackpot and move to um...whichever state Ms. Kelly lives in. I'll leave it at that before this entry starts to bite me in the arse) since I heard that Megan Fox was briefly single around two years ago. Of course, gals like Ms. Kelly don’t stay single for long. As long as she doesn’t go back to John Mayer or Captain America, a.k.a. The First Avenger (RE: Chris Evans), it’s all good.

Minka Kelly.
Jason Merritt – © 2011 Getty Images

Saturday, August 27, 2011

IMAGE OF THE DAY... Hurricane Irene (which is now 510 miles-in-diameter) is seen traveling up the U.S. East Coast in this photo taken by the NOAA / NASA GOES-13 satellite orbiting thousands of miles above the Earth. This image was taken yesterday at 7:45 AM, Pacific Daylight Time.

A global image of Earth taken by the GOES-13 weather satellite on August 26, 2011.
NOAA / NASA GOES Project

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 YEARS AGO TODAY... Just thought I'd pay remembrance to R&B singer Aaliyah, who along with 8 other people lost her life in a plane crash on August 25, 2001. Rest In Peace to all those who perished.

Aaliyah.
Courtesy of Aaliyah2001.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The GRAIL spacecraft are about to be encapsulated by the payload fairing (the two white half-cones in the background) of the Delta II rocket on August 24, 2011.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

GRAIL IS ONE STEP CLOSER TO LAUNCH... The twin GRAIL spacecraft were recently enclosed by the payload fairing of the Delta II rocket that will launch them to the Moon about 2 weeks from now. The payload fairing enclosure was originally scheduled to take place tomorrow, but the looming threat of Hurricane Irene forced technicians at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to move the encapsulation up by a day. Liftoff is still scheduled for the morning of September 8.

Before-and-after images of the GRAIL spacecraft being encapsulated by the Delta II rocket's payload fairing on August 24, 2011.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Monday, August 22, 2011

DARTH SIDIOUS GETS A JOB... This YouTube clip is more than 5-years-old, but oh well. "Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational invisible doggy fence."

Damn evil Sith Lords.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES... Go to my Film Notes section to check out more pics of the Batwing from next July’s summer blockbuster movie. The photos come courtesy of MovieWeb.

The Batwing chases after two Tumblers during filming of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Technicians inspect the GRAIL spacecraft after they are attached to their adapter ring at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Florida, on August 10, 2011.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

THE LRO IS ABOUT TO GET MORE COMPANY... I'm referring to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, of course. Also with LRO, NASA's twin ARTEMIS spacecraft are in lunar orbit...while China's Chang'e 2 spacecraft just completed its primary mission at the Moon, and is now heading for the so-called Lagrange point on the far side of the Earth from the Sun.

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NASA's GRAIL Moon Twins are Joined to Their Booster (Press Release)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's lunar-bound GRAIL twins were mated to their Delta II launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17 at 8:45 a.m. EDT (5:45 a.m. PDT) today. The 15-mile (25-kilometer) trip from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., is the last move for GRAIL before it begins its journey to the moon. NASA's dynamic duo will orbit the moon to determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"We are about to finish one chapter in the GRAIL story and open another," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL's principal investigator, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Let me assure you this one is a real page-turner. GRAIL will rewrite the book on the formation of the moon and the beginning of us."

Now that the GRAIL spacecraft are atop their rocket, a final flurry of checks and tests can begin to confirm that all is go for launch. The final series of checks begins tomorrow, Aug. 19, with an on-pad functional test. The test is designed to confirm that the spacecraft is healthy after the fueling and transport operations. Next week, among all the upcoming final tests, reviews and closeout operations leading up to liftoff, the GRAIL team will install the launch vehicle fairing around the spacecraft.

GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8 and extends through Oct. 19. On each day, there are two separate instantaneous launch opportunities separated in time by approximately 39 minutes. On Sept. 8, the first launch opportunity is at 8:37 a.m. EDT (5:37 a.m. PDT). The second launch opportunity is 9:16 a.m. EDT (6:16 a.m. PDT).

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the GRAIL mission. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, is home to the mission's principal investigator, Maria Zuber. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Protected in white plastic, the GRAIL spacecraft are attached to their Delta II launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on August 18, 2011.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Suzy Singh, Adrien Nieto, Jennifer Behm and Christian Collins in last night's episode of MASTERCHEF.
© FOX

MASTERCHEF... It’s too bad that Suzy Singh got eliminated from last night’s quarterfinal episode— I would’ve definitely attended an autograph signing by her (assuming there was one in SoCal) the same way I went to Anaheim last year to meet MasterChef’s Season 1 winner, Whitney Miller. But just like Ms. Miller, Singh was called the "pastry girl" (Miller was called the "pastry princess") during this season...which was probably one of the reasons why she didn’t advance to the finale today. (That, and the lemon meringue pie she baked during yesterday’s pressure test had issues.) Seems like Chef Gordon Ramsay and Co. were unwilling to hand the Masterchef title to yet another lovely contestant who was primarily good at making desserts. Don't get me wrong... I like desserts.

On the plus side, there’s still Jennifer Behm...who won the Miss Delaware USA competition back in 2000. Though I’m gonna echo Singh’s opinion and say that it will be Adrien Nieto who wins MasterChef today. Handing the title to Christian Collins would be a pretty big mistake...for those of you who’ve been watching this season like I have. Carry on.

UPDATE (10:00 PM, PDT): Woohoo— Jennifer Behm won the title of MasterChef tonight. When does she begin autograph signings in SoCal?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

CHARLIE’S ANGELS... There are two words on why I’d probably check out an episode or two of ABC’s updated version of the classic TV show: Minka Kelly. By the way, Charlie’s Angels will also star two Transformers castmembers: Rachael Taylor (the computer analyst from the first film) and Ramón Rodríguez (Shia LaBeouf’s goofy roommate in Revenge of the Fallen). Who says that Michael Bay doesn’t make stars out of his actors?

Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh star in the updated version of CHARLIE'S ANGELS.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An image of asteroid Vesta that was taken by the Dawn spacecraft on July 24, 2011.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

DAWN Update... The photo above was actually released by NASA last week, but oh well. This image of asteroid Vesta was taken by the Dawn spacecraft on July 24—at a distance of 3,200 miles. The cool video below, which I found on The Planetary Society’s Blog, shows the protoplanet completing a full rotation as Dawn photographed it from orbit. A person named Tayfun Öner modified the movie to smooth out the animation. Check it out.

Dawn is currently orbiting 1,900 miles from Vesta...traveling at a relative speed of 170 mph above the 330-miles-in-diameter asteroid.


Original data: NASA / JPL - Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA. Smoothed out by Tayfun Öner.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

An artist's concept of the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.
AFP / Getty Images

IMAGES OF THE DAY... How ironic; the skyscraper depicted above will be built in Saudi Arabia by the family of Osama bin Laden, while the skyscraper shown below is being built to replace previous buildings whose destruction was the work of Osama bin Laden himself. (What helped create bin Laden’s hatred for the United States, as a little FYI, was him being expelled from Saudi Arabia after he criticized his home country’s willingness to have American forces stationed on its soil after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.) Anyways... In case you don’t know yet, the Saudi Binladen Group (whose owners disowned bin Laden as a family member years ago) is planning to build the 3,300-foot-tall Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia...on the outskirts of Jiddah, a city near the Red Sea. Once completed, the Kingdom Tower will become the highest building ever constructed, pushing to second place Dubai’s Burj Khalifa—which is currently the tallest structure in the world at 2,717 feet.

Meanwhile, the 1 World Trade Center (a.k.a. the Freedom Tower) continues to be assembled at Ground Zero in New York City. Once finished—sometime in 2013—the 1 World Trade Center will become the tallest skyscraper in the U.S. at 1,776 feet (this also includes its antenna spire). Chicago’s Willis Tower is currently the highest building in America at 1,451 feet. Don’t know if this includes the two 278-foot-tall antenna towers on its roof.

Try building the Kingdom or Freedom Towers in California (earthquakes), Alabama (tornadoes) or Florida (hurricanes). Obviously not a good idea.

The 1 World Trade Center as of July 10, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Deepen03 - Wikipedia.org

Sunday, August 07, 2011



SpoCom 2011... Last night, I attended the annual car show at the Anaheim Convention Center. Unlike the two previous years, SpoCom obviously wasn’t held in Long Beach...which is too bad, considering the fact that the Long Beach Convention Center is a much bigger venue than its Orange County counterpart and is also at a better location (overlooking the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to being across the street from Disneyland...not that I have anything against the Happiest Place on Earth). Also, there were a lot more models at the SpoCom events of 2009 and ’10—though if you click on the red link below (and obviously check out the two pics posted with this entry), I managed to get pictures with some gorgeous ladies yesterday.

LINK: Photos I took at the 2011 Anaheim SpoCom event

Another reason why the Anaheim SpoCom didn’t seem as exciting to me as the past SpoComs I attended was probably due to the timing of the event. The 2009 SpoCom took place on the same day that Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol helped the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Orlando Magic to win the NBA Finals that year...while the 2010 SpoCom took place about a month after the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics to clinch the 2010 NBA Championship. So leave it to the Lake Show to be part of the reason why SpoCom (up until this year...thanks a lot, Anaheim, the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA lockout) is one of my favorite import shows that I’ve been to. I’ve been going to these things since 1999...when the first car event I attended—the Import Showoff—was, ironically, held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Carry on.

Friday, August 05, 2011

An Atlas V rocket carrying the Juno spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on August 5, 2011.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

ONWARDS TO JUPITER!

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NASA's Juno Spacecraft Launches to Jupiter (Press Release)

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:25 a.m. PDT (12:25 p.m. EDT) Friday to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter.

Juno's detailed study of the largest planet in our solar system will help reveal Jupiter's origin and evolution. As the archetype of giant gas planets, Jupiter can help scientists understand the origin of our solar system and learn more about planetary systems around other stars.

"Today, with the launch of the Juno spacecraft, NASA began a journey to yet another new frontier," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The future of exploration includes cutting- edge science like this to help us better understand our solar system and an ever-increasing array of challenging destinations."

After Juno's launch aboard an Atlas V rocket, mission controllers now await telemetry from the spacecraft indicating it has achieved its proper orientation, and that its massive solar arrays, the biggest on any NASA deep-space probe, have deployed and are generating power.

"We are on our way, and early indications show we are on our planned trajectory," said Jan Chodas, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We will know more about Juno's status in a couple hours after its radios are energized and the signal is acquired by the Deep Space Network antennas at Canberra."

Juno will cover the distance from Earth to the moon (about 250,000 miles or 402,336 kilometers) in less than one day's time. It will take another five years and 1,740 million miles (2,800 million kilometers) to complete the journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft will orbit the planet's poles 33 times and use its collection of eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.

With four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter forms its own miniature solar system. Its composition resembles that of a star, and if it had been about 80 times more massive, the planet could have become a star instead.

"Jupiter is the Rosetta Stone of our solar system," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "It is by far the oldest planet, contains more material than all the other planets, asteroids and comets combined, and carries deep inside it the story of not only the solar system but of us. Juno is going there as our emissary -- to interpret what Jupiter has to say."

Juno's name comes from Greek and Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature.

The NASA Deep Space Network -- or DSN -- is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth- orbiting missions.

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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The Juno spacecraft undergoes pre-launch processing at Astrotech's payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida...on June 16, 2011.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Thursday, August 04, 2011

READY FOR LAUNCH... The Juno spacecraft begins its 5-year journey to Jupiter tomorrow morning. The last time the Atlas V rocket was in the flight configuration shown below was back in January of 2006, when the 200-foot-tall launch vehicle blasted off with NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons probe onboard. New Horizons will fly past the dwarf planet in July of 2015, while Juno will arrive at the solar system's largest world on July 4 the following year. Best of luck to both missions.

The Atlas V rocket carrying the Juno spacecraft stands poised for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Pad 41, on August 4, 2011.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Shockwave, unaware of a human sneak attack upon him, goes on the offensive in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

$1 BILLION AND COUNTING... That’s how much Transformers: Dark of the Moon has made worldwide since its release at theaters on June 29. Dark of the Moon’s domestic box office take as of today is $340 million, while it has made $664 million internationally so far. This info comes courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Cybertron is transported to Earth via 'space bridge' in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

All I can say is—a fourth Transformers film will no doubt be made in the not-so-distant future, with or without Shia LaBeouf and Michael Bay. Say what you will about Bay...but he’s swimming in dough right now with a Victoria’s Secret model at his side. Not necessarily Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (or else Jason Statham will start kickin' ass and takin' names)... I prefer Adriana Lima.

Sentinel Prime confers with fellow Autobot leader Optimus Prime about the Great Matrix of Leadership in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Batman (Christian Bale) confronts Bane (Tom Hardy) on the set of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES... Go to my Film Notes section to check out new pictures of Bane (played by Tom Hardy), Miranda Tate (played by Marion Cotillard) and the new Tumbler on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, which is currently in production. The images are courtesy of the Just Jared, AceShowbiz and MSNBC websites, respectively. Christopher Nolan's third and final film in the Batman saga gets released in theaters on July 20, 2012. Can't friggin' wait.

Bane (wearing the black mask in the center) leads an army of soldiers in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Dozens of inmates who broke out of prison approach the Tumbler in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.