Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Rockies Today, Feb. 21

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

U.S. Supreme Court puts Montana campaign-finance ruling on hold
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on a decision by the Montana Supreme Court that upheld the state's constitutional ban on corporate spending in political campaigns, while the high court considers the appeal of the Montana decision.
Wall Street Journal; Feb. 18

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Monday, February 20, 2012

BSDFF Review: Man on a Mission

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Everyone dreams of going into space. Richard Garriott is not at all like everyone else, but he did fulfill a dream to actually go into space.

As part of the Indy's Big Sky Documentary Film Festival coverage, read this review of Man on a Mission, which screens this afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Wilma.


Man on a Mission

As an avid space buff, I'm a little embarrassed I had never heard of Richard Garriott. His story is worth learning in Man on a Mission, if only for the strangely charming character study.

Richard's father was Owen Garriott, an astronaut in the '70s and '80s who spent more than two months aboard early space stations Skylab and Spacelab. Richard dreamed of becoming an astronaut but poor eyesight made it impossible. So instead, he developed video games, creating some of the first fantasy role-playing games, like Akalabeth and Ultima. The games make him rich enough to buy a $30 million ticket into space aboard a Russian rocket and 12 days on the International Space Station. Oh, and he commonly goes by his other name, Lord British, refuses to cut his braided ponytail and lives in a haunted house/museum adorned with various medieval items.

Man on a Mission
  • Man on a Mission

Yeah, that sounds worthy of a documentary.

Despite his many eccentricities, the surprise here is that Richard seems like a genuinely decent and interesting guy, and the proof is that we never sense a hint of resentment from his fellow astronauts and cosmonauts during a year of training and two weeks in space. What's more, his father appears to be legitimately excited for and proud of his son.
- Review by Dave Loos

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment, a reason to reconsider de-friending someone on Facebook.

Curses, Foiled Again
When police pulled over Walter Upshaw, 32, for failing to come to a complete stop before entering a roadway in Orlando, Fla., Upshaw apologized to Officer Shawn Overfield and explained, “My gun is digging in my hip.” Overfield found the loaded .380-caliber pistol, which Upshaw, as a convicted felon on probation, is prohibited from carrying. (Orlando Sentinel)

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

BSDFF Review: Better Than Something

Posted By on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 9:40 AM

There are few better ways to spend your Saturday night than watching an intimate portrait of garage rock icon Jay Reatard.

As if this week's cover story wasn't enough, the Indy will be posting reviews, previews and interviews throughout the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Here's a look at Better Than Something, a feature-length film directed by Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz, screening tonight at 9 p.m. at the Crystal.

Better Than Something
  • Better Than Something

You should listen to Jay Reatard. That is the resounding message of Better Than Something, the relentlessly compelling portrait of Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr., a musician prolific in both creation and destruction. The Memphis punk rock savant made dozens of records before he died at 29, and his work seemed inseparable from his habit of wrecking stuff. Often the connection was literal, as footage of early live performances indicates. Sometimes it was psychological, as the rest of the film suggests but does not seriously confront.

In their tributes to his artistry, the interview subjects in Better Than Something allude to a series of bad breakups, dissolved bands and alienated bookers. One of the better show videos ends with Lindsey running across the stage and kicking his bass player in the genitals. Lindsey himself admits that he cannot address a bad situation without destroying it entirely, and yet the film glances at this aspect of his life without looking it in the eye. It is a hint of gauze in what is otherwise a bracingly vivid document of a young talent who enjoyed the virtues of his faults. Everything Lindsey did seemed a little more real—his biopic just less so.
- Review by Dan Brooks

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Friday, February 17, 2012

BSDFF Review: American Juggalo

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 2:40 PM

As if this week's cover story wasn't enough, the Indy will be posting reviews, previews and interviews throughout the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. First up: American Juggalo, a 23-minute film directed by Sean Dunne, playing Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m., at the Crystal Theatre.

American Juggalo
  • American Juggalo

American Juggalo
The series of Insane Clown Posse fans interviewed in American Juggalo have two things in common. They all cite unconditional acceptance as the thing they like best about being a Juggalo and, two, they all seem to suffer some sort of cognitive disability. To watch a pregnant woman smoke while the shirtless twentysomethings around her chant “family! family!” is to confront a fundamental human dilemma. People should do things that make them happy and increase camaraderie with their fellow people. Also, some people are hilariously awful and dumb.

The genius of American Juggalo is that it does not attempt to reconcile these two fundamental truths. It simply records them, in a series of minimally edited medium shots of weirdos explaining why they came to the Gathering of the Juggalos. They range from a young woman with obvious fetal alcohol syndrome rhapsodizing about Violent J to a kid who wants to be a doctor because what he really likes is helping people. Undeniably, these people are funny; they wear clown makeup, for chrissake. They are also amiable, proud, self-conscious, awkward, self-aggrandizing, often medically stupid—in other words, human and recognizably so, in a way that makes for gripping cinema.
- Review by Dan Brooks

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The Rockies Today, Feb. 17

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

EPA approves equine birth control drug developed by Montana nonprofit
The Science and Conservation Center, a nonprofit research laboratory in Montana, produced ZonaStat-H, the first contraceptive vaccine approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to be used to control reproduction rates of wild horses.
Billings Gazette; Feb. 17

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something extra on campaign spending

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM

When it comes to the 2012 Senate race between incumbent Sen. Jon Tester and his challenger, Congressman Denny Rehberg, there's been a lot of talk about where the campaign money is coming from. This week the Indy takes a look at where much of that money is going. Broadcast advertising remains a powerful medium in political campaigns, and with millions of dollars pouring into this race, a big year for television and radio is in the offing.

We caught up with both campaigns for a little extra intel on how large a role broadcast outlets will play in the coming months. It's clear both candidates intend to dominate the airwaves. Rehberg's campaign manager, Erik Iverson, says it's a good rule of thumb for a candidate to spend 80 to 85 percent of his or her campaign funds on voter outreach. "And the primary part of that is going to be television. That’s still the big mover in terms of reaching a large audience and being able to deliver a message that can shape voters’ perceptions and inform voters.”

Aaron Murphy, communications director for Tester's campaign, echoes that rule of thumb. Broadcast advertising will be a significant component in this race, Murphy says, and the Tester campaign will be spending "what we need to spend how and when we need to spend it." This promises to be an historic race for Montana. Tester has already been the target of third party attack ads, increasing his need to counter those messages early on. "Television is an effective way to set Jon's record straight," Murphy says. "To make sure voters know who he is and what he stands for."

Tester's campaign coffers are brimming at $6.2 million. Rehberg has raised roughly $2.6 million. And neither candidate plans to have much cash left after election day. "The last thing you want to do," Iverson says, "is wake up the day after the election realizing you've lost by a few thousand votes and you have a million dollars in the bank."

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No joke: Presidential candidates lack punch lines

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Pat Williams served nine terms as a U.S. representative from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and taught at the University of Montana. He occasionally writes op-ed columns, and recently submitted this one on the lack of humor in this year's presidential race.

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The Rockies Today, Feb. 16

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

Washington congressman's timber bill takes Oregon lawmakers by surprise
Oregon U.S. Reps. Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader have been working for months on legislation to revamp the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, but on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington submitted his bill to revise the law, and the House Natural Resources Committee will take Hastings' bill up today.
Los Angeles Times; Feb. 16

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Return of the Greg Mortenson story

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 10:44 AM

3CTCoverSmall.jpg
The best-selling author of Three Cups of Tea is back in the headlines again. Ten months ago, "60 Minutes" and author Jon Krakauer accused Greg Mortenson of fabricating stories in his books and mismanaging funds for his nonprofit, Central Asia Institute, which builds schools in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. A civil lawsuit was filed against Mortenson, who lives in Bozeman, and included Missoula resident Michele Reinhart as a plaintiff; Reinhart has since dropped out of the suit. Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock also launched an investigation.

Then things went silent until the last few days.

Last Thursday, Mortenson's lawyers filed a motion to have the civil suit dismissed. The move may have been a preemptive strike against a wave of bad news about to crash down on Mortenson. On Sunday, Outside magazine published a lengthy article that wonders if "CAI is about to get hammered" by the AG's office. The story recounts a tense exchange between Krakauer and CAI board members, and cites Krakauer's periodic updates to his own reporting.

The situation has been relatively quiet for several months, with the attorney general’s office toiling away and lawyers on both sides of the civil suit researching, writing, and filing pretrial motions and briefs. And while it’s impossible to predict what will happen next, this much seems safe to say: the Greg Mortenson story is about to get loud again.

The Outside article, written by Alex Heard, digs much deeper into the legal questions and accusations against Mortenson. It's worth a read, especially with things apparently heating up again.

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