Is there a way to get some other effects in there like blur, etc.?
http://drupal.org/project/imagecache_actions are optional effects that you can deploy. http://drupal.org/node/768980 is a discussion in the issue queue of the linked module with reference to a blur effect.
You should be able to do modules that accomplish what you want. One that I've used is: http://drupal.org/project/imagecache_actions
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