Monday, August 26, 2013

Missoula's Hank Green wins an Emmy

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

If the Indy tried to cover all of new-media mogul Hank Green's exploits, it'd be a (really fun) full-time position, but we can't let the latest bit of praise go unreported: he won an Emmy.

Specifically, Green was honored by the Creative Arts Emmys in Interactive Media. Think of it as the online version of the television Emmys, selected by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Interactive Media Peer Group, and mostly going to major networks like Bravo, Nickelodeon and OWN (that's Oprah's channel). Green crashed the big-kids party for his work as the producer of "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," an innovative vlog (or video blog) based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Fans of Green's past work shouldn't be surprised by the attention. After all, he has created a media empire in a corner of the industry still not completely understood by the mainstream. Green's original vlog, Brotherhood 2.0, aka "Vlog Brothers," launched his career and garnered he and his brother, author John Green, an enormous and devoted following. Since "Vlog Brothers" initial success, Green and his brother have cultivated their growing legion of followers with spin-off projects, such as VidCon (think Comic-Con for vloggers) and a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall earlier this year. Most notably, Green now produces a number of other vlogs, including Indy favorite "The Brain Scoop" and a sex-education one with Missoula's own Lindsey Doe called "Sexplanations." All tend to attract the same core audience, but "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" is the only one — so far — to win an Emmy.

Yahoo! wrote extensively about why "LBD" is special and warranted an Emmy nod, calling it "a sign of what the future holds for serial programming."

The Creative Arts Emmys juried award for Original Interactive Program was well-deserved this year. It recognized a unique project that, with the hard work of a talented cast and creative team plus the devotion of an enthusiastic audience, managed to create sustained magic beyond the 100-episode YouTube series.

Read the whole Yahoo! story, or, better yet, just start watching the series.

Rockies Today, Aug. 26

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Wind, solar installations threaten U.S. power grid with obsolescence
As solar panels and wind turbines continue to pop up across the United States, industry insiders are warning that renewable energy installations are game-changers for the 3,200 utilities that operate the U.S. electrical grid.; Aug. 22

Great Falls to lose $15M on Montana energy project
Anti-regulation of the electricity business was the first step in Great Falls' journey to build and operate a coal-fired power plant near the Montana city, a venture that eventually failed and left the city with a $15 million loss.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 24

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Why you shouldn't text and fly (and more from In Other News)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Curses, Foiled Again
Police accused Troy Ridling, 29, of stealing a computer from his former church in Owasso, Okla., after the software tracking company Covenant Eyes alerted a church staffer that the computer was being used to look up pornography. Upon being told that the company had received a call about removing the laptop’s Internet monitoring software, the Owasso First Assembly of God notified police. They traced the call to Ridling, who confessed. (Tulsa’s KRMG Radio)

To celebrate getting permission to remove the ankle monitor that held her in house arrest in Osceola County, Fla., Angela Estrella, 37, rented a car and headed for New York City. A few hundred miles up I-95, the rental car broke down. When the tow truck sent to rescue her arrived, Estrella asked driver Mike Frazier if he’d take her to New York. He declined, but when he turned his back to call the car rental company, authorities said she jumped into the rig and drove off. The truck was equipped with a GPS, however, allowing law enforcement to track and arrest her. (The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Missoula's own Zombie Tools hits the silver screen

Posted By on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Big news for a badass local business: Zombie Tools supplied a number of its signature blades to the production of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the big-screen adaptation of the popular young-adult fiction series. The movie premiered Wednesday.

The Mortal Instruments cast, holding its Zombie Tools blades
  • The Mortal Instruments cast, holding its Zombie Tools blades

How'd it happen? A production company contacted Zombie Tools a couple years ago in search of blades for a project. As Zombie Tools explains on its Facebook page:

We get requests like this all the time, but usually it's from student filmmakers with no money wanting to borrow our blades for a zombie project. These Canadian guys actually had a small budget.

They ended up supplying steel blades and aluminum prop blades of the the Reaper, the Apokatana, and the Tainto. And that was that until:

The prop-master told us the name of the movie, but it meant nothing to us. We hadn't heard of the best selling book series, so we assumed it was a b-rate made-for-TV production that would only be seen in Canada. It was a year later, when we saw a list of "The 10 Most Anticipated Blockbusters of 2013" that we realized it was a big deal. If we'd known, we would have charged them a lot more!

So, the Zombie Tools gang attended the opening Wednesday night. The good news: Their blades appear early and often. The bad news: The movie sounds awful. Their review (sic'd):

For the love of fucking Loki, SAVE YOUR MONEY. If you have to see it, steal it off the infraweb. If you have to see it in the theater, bring more booze than you think you need. ... Our blades are wielded by the bad guys and show up in early scenes, then make a huge appearance in the final climactic battle. But they didn't use our real steel swords at all. They used the aluminum prop swords the whole film, even for close ups, where they look floppy and are chipped as hell from all the swordplay.

(If you want to read more about the quality of the film, check out Rotten Tomatoes, which currently has The Mortal Instruments with a 16 percent approval rating.)

Anyway, we still think it's cool that this local company received some major exposure. They're also looking at the bright side:

Well, at least we got some beer money out of it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rockies Today, Aug. 22

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Federal fund for fighting wildfires runs dry, $600M diverted from other funds
A wildfire near Yosemite National Park in California tripled in size Wednesday night and is just one of 51 uncontained wildfires in the American West, and on Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service announced that it had already used $967 million in federal wildfire fighting funds, leaving a scant $50 million in that fund, which would be refueled with $600 million from other agency funds.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Aug. 21

Idaho, Oregon senators call for more federal spending to prevent wildfires
Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden was in Idaho on Tuesday, where he met with Idaho U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise to launch a new initiative that would funnel more federal funds into preventing wildfires.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; Aug. 21

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Methane emissions still a thorn in the side of natural gas production

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Burning coal belches about twice as much carbon dioxide as burning natural gas, but the question of whether natural gas is a bridge to renewable energy or just a bridge to nowhere hinges on how much greenhouse gas escapes before it is used. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 21 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide, over a 100-year period. And according to research by the Environmental Defense Fund, if a little over three percent of the methane produced escapes during production, natural gas plants no longer beat coal plants at the climate game.

The research plane used to detect methane emissions from the Uintah oil and gas fields comes in for a landing.
  • The research plane used to detect methane emissions from the Uintah oil and gas fields comes in for a landing.
Unfortunately, even with U.S. climate policy—such as it is—resting on America’s role as the “Saudi Arabia of gas” no one knows exactly how much methane escapes from the natural gas supply chain. The latest of several mixed reports on the subject falls to the alarming side of the spectrum, because it detected fugitive methane above three percent of the amount produced. While it doesn’t settle the debate, it tested one way regulators could inventory escaping natural gas, and it also underscores the need for better methane tracking and capture.

As part of a larger study on air quality in Utah’s oil and gas fields, researchers flew a sensor-laden airplane over the Uintah Basin and found that the amount of methane released there is 6 to 12 percent of total production, on average. Since the team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) needed consistent wind speeds to test the new technique, the measurement is only a snapshot from a single day in February 2012, and doesn’t provide the big picture for the whole state, much less the whole industry.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The answer to this New York Times article about Montana appears to be "yes"

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 3:33 PM

The New York Times published a travel piece from former Billings local Brooks Barnes today, the headline of which poses an interesting question: Would a gay man be welcomed home in Montana?

Barnes, who currently lives in Los Angeles, set out in late June to investigate for himself. He and his partner trekked the state, from the Home Cafe in Conrad to Anaconda's Washoe Theater, on a week-long precursor to a wedding in Big Sky. According to Barnes' story, his mother had told him Montana wasn't the same outwardly bigoted state it used to be. Barnes had his doubts.

We would either arrive in Big Sky with newly open minds about Montana, or we would be sporting a bumper sticker of our own: 'Paddle Faster. I Hear Banjo Music.'

Barnes found his answer, the same answer we in Missoula would more than likely have given. The answer was yes. Our only question for him: Why would you go see "Fast and the Furious 6" while in Anaconda?

Rockies Today, Aug. 21

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Federal firefighting costs cross $1-billion mark
There are an estimated 40 large, active and uncontained wildfires burning in western states and Alaska, with more than 17,800 firefighters on the firelines, and the federal government's firefighting costs pushed past the $1 billion mark, roughly half the $1.9-billion the government spent fighting wildfires last year. Editor's note: Contains a roundup of wildfires across the West.
Idaho Statesman and Associated Press; Aug. 21

W. Montana wildfire makes evening run
The Lolo Complex Fire burning west of Lolo in Montana made a late run on Tuesday, forcing mandatory evacuations as the fire gained 3,000 acres.
Missoulian; Aug. 21

Idaho wildfire again forces Atlanta residents from their homes
After a brief reprieve on Tuesday, when residents who had been evacuated from their homes in Atlanta because of the threat of the Little Queens Fire had been allowed to return to their homes, the fire made a run Wednesday morning to within just two miles of the small town and residents were told to evacuate again.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Aug. 21

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): An Indian student named Sankalp Sinha has invented the "Good Morning Sing N Shock." It's an alarm clock that plays you a song and gives you a small electrical jolt when you hit the snooze button. The voltage applied is far less intense than, say, a taser, and is designed to energize you rather than disable you. I encourage you to seek out wake-up calls like the kind this device administers, Aries: fairly gentle, yet sufficiently dramatic to get your attention. The alternative would be to wait around for blind fate to provide the wake-up calls. They might be a bit more strenuous.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hangriest Hour: Philly West

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Why you’re here: Authentic cheesesteaks and East Coast-style thin-crust pizza are the primary reasons. You may also remember that Indy readers named Philly West Best New Restaurant in 2012 or know that the West Broadway eatery recently marked its two-year anniversary.

Why that guy in the Eagles shirt is here: He wants to talk about Charlie Manuel’s recent firing and/or offer his two cents on the football team’s quarterback controversy. The Philly West crew is the real deal and, in addition to serving up a true taste of South Street, will happily talk Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Sixers, Soul, Union, Phantoms or Will Smith. (Actually, maybe not Will Smith.)

How you’re ordering your cheesesteak: Contrary to popular belief, there is no right or wrong way to order a cheesesteak. “That’s a common misperception,” says co-owner Dave Jones. “It’s not like there’s a provolone versus Whiz battle raging in Philly.”

Even so, you want to be prepared. Philly West serves shaved rib-eye on a fresh Le Petit hoagie roll with your choice of cheese and toppings (starting at $7.75). Jones goes with grilled onions and provolone. Co-founder Mike Fitzgerald prefers green bell peppers and American. Both of them recommend a side of Disco Fries, which are slathered in gravy and cheese, and baked ($5.50).

The Florentine Stromboli
  • The Florentine Stromboli
What you’re ordering when you’re not ordering a cheesesteak: Don’t sleep on the menu’s other standouts. We recommend the Florentine Stromboli ($10), a turnover-style dish with sliced chicken breast sautéed in white wine with onions, garlic, spinach and mushrooms, and stuffed with provolone and mozzarella. The key is Philly West’s handmade dough.

What you’re looking at while eating: Philly West could charge admission for what may be Missoula’s most entertaining restaurant décor. The walls are packed with sports and pop culture relics, like a life-size Phillie Phanatic (and Darren Daulton) tape-measure poster and signage from the old Veterans Stadium. The Missoula-Philly connection is celebrated with each city’s skyline stenciled on opposing walls and an autographed photo of former Griz and current Eagle Colt Anderson near the cash register.

Where you’ll find it: Philly West is located at 134 West Broadway. Keep an eye out for a two-year anniversary event in the coming weeks.

Hangriest Hour serves up fresh details on western Montana eats. To recommend a restaurant, dish or chef for Hangriest Hour, email

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