SAN JOSE, Calif. – The right to display firearms at gun shows on county fairgrounds is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, according to a San Francisco federal judge in an order issued this week.

The Sept. 27 ruling was part of the Nordyke v. King, (Case. No.: CV-99-04389) suit brought by gun hobbyists and gun show advocates Russell and Sally Nordyke. The Nordykes and a collection of other plaintiffs including the Madison Society, are suing Alameda County and the Board of Supervisors claiming their 1999 ordinance prohibiting guns on county property effectively bans gun shows and other legal displays of firearms in violation of constitutionally protected freedom of speech rights.

“The county could not have banned gun shows outright, they shouldn’t be allowed to ban them under the pretext of ‘public safet’.” Don Kilmer, the San Jose-based attorney representing the Nordykes said. “Gun Shows are cultural events and are protected by the First Amendment and the California Constitution’s Freedom of Expression Clause.”

In denying Alameda County’s motion to dismiss the case, U.S. District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins agreed with the Nordykes that having guns at gun shows can be constitutionally protected “expressive conduct” – a form of free speech.

Judge Jenkins also said that the Nordykes have a viable claim that Alameda’s ordinance does, in fact, infringe on expressive conduct. The judge listed seven forms of protected speech that Alameda County’s ordinance may me infringing upon with its ban:

1. Advocacy that the Constitution’s Second Amendment should be interpreted to protect the right for an individual to bear arms.
2. Conveying a message that possession of guns is patriotic.
3. Celebrating and expressing solidarity or membership in the gun culture.
4. Expressing friendliness to gun owners.
5. Expressing support for the National Rifle Association’s or similar groups’ interpretations of the Second Amendment.
6. Displaying guns for educational, patriotic, political or commercial purposes.
7. Demonstration of support for private ownership of firearms.

Additionally, the judge found that the ordinance not only bans gun shows, it may ban ROTC or military veteran ceremonies which require firearms. For example, an American Legion 21-gun salute for a war hero at a funeral ceremony also is banned if the services are on Alameda County property.

“The County has admitted all along that its target was gun shows and the activities that take place at them.” Kilmer said from his San Jose law office. “Now its policy must stand up to fundamental, well-established rights that every American has under the First Amendment.”

American politicians from both parties routinely carry guns for political reasons. In the most recent presidential primaries, Sen. John Kerry invited the press to go pheasant hunting with him in October 2003 in the early caucus state of Iowa, knowing that published photos of him toting a rifle would attract the vote of gun owners.

“John Kerry’s photo-op aimed at hunters during the last election was the archetypical example of conveying a symbolic message by holding something in your hands, and letting your conduct speak for you.” Kilmer said.

With Judge Jenkins’ denial of Alameda County’s motion to dismiss, the case is proceeding to the trial level where Alameda County will have to defend its ordinance. Alameda County is represented by the Los-Angeles based law firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon.

Serenity

9 out of 10
Serenity
(2005)

Having just seen Serenity, a film that will probably go down as the best science fiction film of 2005 (beating out more-hyped fare such as War of the Worlds), I feel compelled to tell folks they must see this film.

This movie singlehandedly raises the humble space opera up from the paint-by-numbers audience expectations of recent Star Trek fare to an artform – a true opera – in the Wagnerian sense.

Under the direction of Joss Whedon, a story that could have been a run of the mill action-adventure flick tackles some of the grander themes in life; as we face them today. How much say should governments have over our daily lives? Who watches those who watch over us?

Deep themes like these infuse a movie that already works as a kick-’em-hard action thriller. But somehow, one is left with the sense that Whedon duped Hollywood bigshots into making a sci-fi flick with a brain – and a heart.

The script, which Whedon also wrote, is filled with cliche-busting dialogue. Dozens of times the audience laughed with glee as Serenity, which could have easily retread all-to-familiar territory for a spaceship-based film, takes an abrupt and human turn as characters react as only real people would in impossible situations.

I highly encourage all movie fans who feel underwhelmed by the quality of speculative fiction cinema this year to see this film without delay. Not only does Serenity prove science fiction can have brains as well as special effects, the movie also is an uproarious good time.

Some adult themes and violence may be unsuitable for small children, even when accompanied by an adult.


RATINGS
Overall: 9 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction
Sex: Some sexual situations, nothing graphic no nudity
Violence: Martial arts violence, blood, multiple deaths, reference to rape
Special Effects: Excellent, use of CGI was flawless
Other: Scary subject matter not appropriate for children prone to nightmares

CAST
Nathan Fillion … Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds
Gina Torres … Zoe Warren
Alan Tudyk … Hoban “Wash” Washburn
Morena Baccarin … Inara Serra
Adam Baldwin … Jayne Cobb
Jewel Staite … Kaylee Frye
Sean Maher … Simon Tam
Summer Glau … River Tam
Ron Glass … Shepherd Meria Book
Chiwetel Ejiofor … The Operative


OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Joss Whedon, the Oscar® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family – squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

Neville Hobson at Web Pro News has a nice article here that details how The producers of Serenity are allowing sneak peeks of the film to bloggers.

He talks bout how this could be a turning point when film studios become less reliant upon mainstream media critics.

TiVo ALERT: The SCI FI channel has scheduled a 30-minute behind-the-scenes special for the upcoming Universal Pictures film, Serenity. It will air Tuesday, September 27 at 10 p.m. Eastern time (9 Central; 7 Pacific) and repeat at 1 a.m. Eastern (Midnight Central; 10 p.m Pacific).

Narrated by Adam Baldwin, the actor who plays the character, Jayne. The special promises to give an introduction to the futuristic world that the crew of Serenity inhabits for newbies, while giving sneak peaks of the film for long-time fans, or Browncoats.

Serenity is set to open nationwide on September 30.


OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Joss Whedon, the Oscar ® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family – squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.


Firefly/QuizFarm have created a personality test of sorts that asks users 40 personality questions.

The end result – users are graded by their response and matched up with the Serenity character who most resembles their answera. Listed below are the results from my test, where I came out most like the whore, the villain and the doctor:


You scored as Simon Tam. The Doctor. You have a gift for healing that goes beyond education. You took an oath to do no harm, even when your patients have tried to kill you. You are out of place where you are, being used to refined society. However, if you take that stick out of your arse you should be fine.

Simon Tam

81%

The Operative

80%

Inara Serra

75%

Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne

63%

Zoe Alleyne Washburne

63%

Capt. Mal Reynolds

50%

Kaylee Frye

50%

River Tam

50%

Jayne Cobb

31%

Shepherd Derrial Book

25%

Firefly/QuizFarm have created a personality test of sorts that asks users 40 personality questions.The end result – users are graded by their response and matched up with the Serenity character who most resembles their answera. Listed below are the results from my test, where I came out most like the whore, the villain and the doctor:


You scored as Simon Tam. The Doctor. You have a gift for healing that goes beyond education. You took an oath to do no harm, even when your patients have tried to kill you. You are out of place where you are, being used to refined society. However, if you take that stick out of your arse you should be fine.

Simon Tam
81%
The Operative
80%
Inara Serra
75%
Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne
63%
Zoe Alleyne Washburne
63%
Capt. Mal Reynolds
50%
Kaylee Frye
50%
River Tam
50%
Jayne Cobb
31%
Shepherd Derrial Book
25%

Science Fiction fans are buzzing about Universal Pictures’ new film Serenity, directed by Joss Whedon, which is scheduled to open in the U.S. and Canada Friday, Sept. 30. According to Box Office Mojo, the film is scheduled to be released in more than 2,100 theatres, making it the second-widest release of the week, behind MGM’s Into the Blue, starring Jessica Alba and Paul Walker.

Serenity, which has been sneak previewed and pre-screened at several festivals around the world is generating strong buzz from fans and critics alike. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film scores a 67 percent fresh, a positive rating, among critics who already have posted reviews.


OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Joss Whedon, the Oscar® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family – squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

Just Like Heaven

6 out of 10
Just Like Heaven (2005)

15 years ago, a little fantasy film about love conquering death called Ghost, starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg stole audience’s imaginations an went on to become of the the biggest blockbusters of 1990.

Now in 2005, DreamWorks has re-worked the idea into a romantic comedy where recent widower David (Mark Ruffalo), a San Francisco-based landscape architect, falls in love with Elizabeth (Witherspoon), the spirit of a nearly-departed doctor who used to live in the San Francisco apartment David is subletting.

This film does work as a romantic comedy with a supernatural twist. Witherspoon and Ruffalo are both top-form actors who portray characters compelling and sweet enough to make the most jaded heart swoon.

The plot and writing seem to be a throwback to romantic comedies of the 1950s and early 1950s, where smart dialogue and compelling characters told a story that speaks to an audiences heart and soul. The film avoids the potty humor that has become a hallmark of recent comedies and because of this has a very classy feel to it.


RATINGS
Overall: 6 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre:Fantasy
Sex: None (Although implied light sexual situations)
Violence: Slapstick
Special Effects: Well done
Other: A definite “chick flick” that is appropriate for parents to bring children

CAST
Reese Witherspoon … Elizabeth
Mark Ruffalo … David Abbott
Donal Logue … Jack
Jon Heder … Darryl
Dina Spybey … Abby
Ben Shenkman … Brett
Ivana Milicevic … Katrina
Rosalind Chao … Fran