Sunday, June 9, 2013

5 injured in 2 separate B'klyn shootings

Five people were shot in two separate incidents in Brooklyn today, police said.

A 30-year-man was grazed and a 19-year-old shot twice in the legs on Hegeman and Milford streets in East New York about 3:50 a.m., according to an FDNY spokesman.

EMS rushed the victims to Brookdale Hospital, and they are expected to survive.

An assailant then opened fire about 4:25 a.m. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, wounding three people outside of 2144 Fulton St. near Rockaway Avenue, cops said.
Two women, 45 and 21, were hit and are being treated at Kings County Hospital. They are expected to survive, authorities said. A 26-year-old man also was struck three times and is being treated at Brookdale Hospital.

No arrests have been made in either of the shootings, and it was not immediately clear what sparked the violence.

The NYPD would like anyone with information about these crimes to call Crime Stoppers at 1.800.577.TIPS or visit the Web site

It’s not easy being blue

In the 75 years since Superman debuted in Action Comics No. 1, he’s faced down threats from near and far, fending off Kryptonite-toting evil geniuses, sentient supercomputers bent on destroying the universe, dimension-hopping gods with world-crushing powers and any number of hell-bent terrorists. He’s been beaten so badly we thought he was dead, but, like the indomitable American spirit he represents, he always gets up and fights back.

Which is why the last time we saw the DC Comics star on the big screen, in 2006’s “Superman Returns,” he did what caped crusaders do best: dish out sensible travel advice. “Well, I hope this experience hasn’t put any of you off flying,” Superman, played by Brandon Routh, tells a gaggle of reporters after saving an airplane from crashing. “Statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to travel.”

That dopey, aw-shucks approach to the character worked in the past, when Christopher Reeve’s do-gooder gave us the hero we needed to fit the rough and dangerous ’70s. But is Big Blue just too much of a boring Boy Scout to carry his own movie in an age of self-mutilating Jokers and quip-talking Iron Men?

Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” out Friday, answers that with something darker, grittier and more contemplative — a Superman unsteady with his powers but not afraid to use them.

Filmmakers wanted to cut the line and start fresh, recapturing the soul of the character in the same way they reclaimed Batman from the awful neon-vomit covered toy commercial that was 1997’s “Batman & Robin.”

“It was the only way to approach it,” says screenwriter David S. Goyer, who co-wrote director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman movies and the script for “Man of Steel,” which Nolan also produced. “For us, we have to draw a line in the sand and pretend as if none of these other iterations even existed. Zack said, ‘You have to decide if you’re going to chart your own path or if you’re going to do an homage.’ ”

The team hadn’t originally set out to do a Superman movie. Goyer was actually in the middle of working out the ending of 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises” when he took a break and read through some old Action Comics that were lying around. An idea for a take on the character hit him; a few days later, he showed Nolan a few pages of his ideas. Nolan immediately asked if he could produce it.

The Nolan-ization, for lack of a better word, of the character means you won’t see classic touchstones in the film: no Lex Luthor, no Kryptonite; even those dorky Clark Kent glasses don’t appear for most of the film. What you get is in some ways closer to the WB’s hit take on Superman, “Smallville,” which saw a teenage Clark Kent exploring and discovering his powers over time.

Instead of Clark landing on Earth with a complete Zen-like mastery of his powers, we see him go through superhero puberty, dealing with things like X-ray vision that he can’t quite control. Almost like the Hulk, this Superman is wary of what his powers can do.

“It’s the interesting thing about him — he’s very much subjected to the frailties of the human mind,” says Henry Cavill, the 30-year-old Brit who dons the cape. “He’s dealing with the idea that he’s different. Imagine walking through life never having hugged someone as hard as you can. And you know that you can’t because you could kill them. It’s things like that.”

That’s the challenge writers for Superman have faced for generations: How do you make a nearly invincible character with god-like powers relatable?

“It’s trickier to do than it is with Batman,” Goyer says. “I spent more time writing the first draft of this script than in any in my career. There were a lot of false starts. We had to fill in a lot of things that we didn’t have to fill in with Bruce Wayne, because Bruce comes from Earth.”

The movie is visually darker than all previous versions: Krypton is a bleak landscape, bustling Metropolis looks gray, even the famous Superman suit is made of muddled colors.

Goyer says Snyder broke with stylistic methods he used in previous films, such as the slow motion cuts in the fight scenes of “300” or the bright comic colors of “Watchmen.” For “Man of Steel,” he used hand-held cameras and did more filming on location than ever before.

“That in and of itself made it more relatable,” Goyer says.

The tone of the film aims for that golden balance with the character: To be interesting, he has to be both a guiding-light hero and a sympathetic human character dealing with inner turmoil.

“Superman is difficult. There’s no denying that,” says Paul Dini, a comic writer and a co-creator of the hit “Superman: The Animated Series” that ran on the WB from 1996 to 2000 and is considered by many fans to be the finest iteration of the character off the page.

“Batman is kind of a reactive character,” Dini says. “He stays at home, waiting for that light to turn on, and then he goes out and fights villains. Superman is out confronting the guys gone bad. It’s more physically challenging than a mental-might challenge. Batman has to more or less outwit [the bad guys].”

That leads to the question: Who’s big enough to take on Superman? More so, who’s big enough to take on Superman in a way that makes for a summer blockbuster?

He fought cunning, missile-toting Lex Luthor a few times in the Christopher Reeve series of movies, battled tinfoil-covered cyborgs in the silly “Superman III” and again faced Luthor and his absurd mountain-made-of-Kryptonite time-share scheme in the 2006 film.

“Man of Steel” pits him against General Zod (Michael Shannon of “Boardwalk Empire”) and his cronies, who arrive on Earth from destroyed Krypton with the same powers as Superman.

We saw Zod once before in “Superman II,” but Shannon’s version has deeper layers that play off Superman’s torn identity between Earth and Krypton.

“It’s very easy to take a Superman story and blow it up so big, but it’s harder for readers to relate to,” says comic writer Dan Jurgens, who worked on DC’s 1992 blockbuster “The Death of Superman” storyline and created Doomsday, the monster villain who killed him. “That’s why Clark Kent is so important. It allows you to bring it down to a human level.”

Jurgens hasn’t seen the movie yet, but he’s encouraged by the trailers.

“It’s got a lot of beautiful moments for Clark Kent so far,” he says. “You’ve got the drama backed up with character.”

The real tension in the movie isn’t Superman battling his Kryptonian foes, it’s Clark Kent feeling uncertain just how much power he has inside him. Goyer calls it very much a story about two fathers: one, his adoptive Earth parent (Kevin Costner); the other his noble Kryptonian father (Russell Crowe), each who give Clark a sense of principles.

What you won’t see in this movie is Superman being the Boy Scout, doing good deeds like telling Lois Lane she shouldn’t smoke (as Reeve’s version did), for instance.

“For the time being, he’s very much a real-world person,” Cavill says. “He’s the kind of person that doesn’t want to draw attention to himself so he’s not going to tell people what to do. But he certainly can lead by example.”

When you consider the history of the hero — from the comic’s debut in 1938, to the George Reeves TV show, a campy musical in the ’60s and a rom-com angle with “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” in the ’90s, you see how the rise and fall of interest in Superman reflects changing social tides.

“Each generation creates their own interpretation of Superman,” says Kevin Burns, who directed the 2006 documentary “Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman.” “It’s not only a reflection of the times, the audience, the market, but also who he’s going to be read by, who he’s going to be watched by.”

Comic fans are, understandably, unsure if they’ll finally see the Superman movie they deserve for this era.

“People are apprehensive,” says Mitch Cutler, owner of St. Mark’s Comics and a lifelong Superman devotee. “They made some questionable choices that are evident in the trailers. Of course, no one wants to overreact. We’ll see the movie and we’ll judge.”

One thing fans will likely applaud: There’s less of the cutesy flirting with Lois the other movies dwelled on, and more Superman just being awesome old Superman.

“The problem with the last movie [is that] audiences had grown up a bit more as far as what superhero movies could be, and Superman was still stuck back in the ’70s,” Dini says. “Now it looks like Superman has some cojones and is really allowed to cut loose.”

Felix looks to deliver season series win over Yanks

When the Mariners and the Yankees meet for the final time in 2013 on Sunday, ace Felix Hernandez will be in position to help the Mariners accomplish something they haven't done in more than a decade.

Heading into the seventh of seven games between the two clubs, a victory for the Mariners behind Hernandez would mean the first time Seattle has taken a season series from the Yankees since 2002.

If the Yankees and right-hander David Phelps win, the Mariners will have to wait another year.

Of course, the Mariners are always happy to have their 2010 Cy Young-winning ace on the mound.

After hitting a bit of a rough patch, Hernandez has won his last two starts, beating the White Sox in his last outing while allowing four runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Manager Eric Wedge said Hernandez had to reach a little deeper in that game.

"I thought he had to grind it out a bit," said Wedge. "He made it difficult on himself working behind sometimes, let a few pitches out of order early on. He did a nice job of reeling it back in though. I thought he did a real nice job of gathering himself and did a better job executing pitches."

Hernandez has posted an 8-5 record with a 2.99 ERA in 15 starts against the Yankees over his career.

Phelps, meanwhile, will be making his first start against the Mariners, with one relief appearance behind him -- a victory with 1 1/3 innings of work at Seattle.

After recording just one out while allowing four runs to the Mets two starts ago, Phelps bounced back with possibly the best start of his young career, allowing just one hit over six shutout innings Tuesday against the Indians.

"I kind of chuckled to myself after getting the second out and said, 'All right, you're already doing better than last outing,'" Phelps said after the win over the Indians. "The whole season is going to have ups and downs, and you got to roll with them as much as you can."

Yankees: Gardner keeps it going
Brett Gardner went 3-for-5 on Saturday, continuing a roll at the top of the lineup for the Yankees. He now has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games since May 24, batting .328 (19-for-58) over that stretch.

He also has scored at least one run in 16 of his last 23 starts, including six straight from May 24-29.

Mariners: Bantz makes his debut
Rookie catcher Brandon Bantz was inserted into the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon's game with the Yankees, and Wedge said he waited until the morning of the game to let him know.

"I wanted him to get some sleep," Wedge said.

Bantz, who began the season as the backup at Double-A Jackson, went 0-for-2 in his debut. Endy Chavez pinch-hit for him in the eighth, and he was replaced by veteran Kelly Shoppach, who had played every inning this week after Jesus Sucre was hit in the hand Tuesday. Sucre was placed on the disabled list Saturday.

Worth noting
  • Following Sunday's game, the Yankees will travel down the West Coast for a three-game series with the A's in Oakland starting Tuesday. The Mariners will stay at home and await a visit from the Astros starting Monday before heading to Oakland themselves next weekend.
  • The Mariners are now 7-6 against the American League East, their only winning record against a division thus far.
  • Sunday's game will end a stretch of 17 straight days without a day off for the Yankees, and the Mariners will end their stretch of 20 in a row on Wednesday.

White House readies to open criminal probe into Prism spy program leak

The Obama administration has taken steps to open a criminal investigation into who leaked out the secret documents that last week blew the lid off the spy program known as “Prism,” according to a Fox News report.

James Clapper, the director of US national intelligence, told NBC he has filed a "criminal report" with the Justice Department and the FBI to begin the probe.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vowed to fight the government’s secret data-mining program all the way to the Supreme Court, saying the American people are against being spied on even if lawmakers claim it thwarts terrorists.
“The American people are with me and I think if you talk to young people who use computers on a daily basis, they are absolutely with me,” Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“So much or our life now is digitalized that we have to protect it from a snooping government. We now have a government that appears to target people because of their political beliefs. I don’t want my phone records given to an administration that I can’t trust.”

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, defended the program on ABC’s “This Week,” reassuring Americans that the private phone and email records gather up but “walled off” from being casually perused by government officials.

Feinstein today also revealed that the “Prism” spy program also helped implicate American David Headley in planning the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. A US court convicted Headley for doing eeconnaissance for the attack and he was sentenced in January to 35 years in federal prison.

But Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) cast doubt upon claims that the government’s secret data-mining program was essential to foiling terror plots, such as the New York subway plot. “I’m not convinced that it is uniquely valuable intelligence that we couldn’t have generated in other ways,” Udall said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I know these claims are being made, but that’s all the more reason to have a debate, to share this information and determine whether or not we ought to be collecting billions of records every day of American’s phone calls.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the program had stopped more than the plot already revealed. But he said he couldn’t disclose details because of national security restrictions. The plot already made public was a plan to bomb New York subways.