Entertainment News 11-2-7
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Oct. 28, 2007
Las Vegas Review-Journal
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: G.I. Joe was just a toy, wasn't he?
Hollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the
G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be
replaced by membership in an "international force based in
Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is
considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man,"
member of an "international operations team."
Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.
The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-
based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating
Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech
equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-
crossing Scottish arms dealer."
Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by
making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any
stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like
Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms
dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at
Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.
(Just for the record, what did the quintessential American hero,
Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," do before he opened
his eponymous cafe? Yep: gun-runner.)
According to reports in Variety and the aforementioned IGN, the
producers explain international marketing would simply prove too
difficult for a summer, 2009 film about a heroic U.S. soldier. Thus
the need to "eliminate Joe's connection to the U.S. military."
Well, who cares. G.I. Joe is just a toy, right? He was never real.
On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died
of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif.,
southeast of Palm Springs. He was a combat veteran of World War II.
His name was Mitchell Paige.
It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to
remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 25, 1942 -- 65 years
The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the
Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few
thousand lonely American Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal and
high-tailed it out of there.
(You old swabbies can hold the letters. I've written elsewhere about
the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942,
violating the stern War College edict against committing capital
ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his
last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the
Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in
their bunkers to get them there and back. By 11 p.m., with the fire
control systems on the South Dakota malfunctioning, with the crews
of those American destroyers cheering her on as they treaded water
in an inky sea full of flaming wreckage, "At that moment Washington
was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet," writes naval historian David
Lippman. "If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then
and there, America might lose the war. ..." At midnight precisely,
facing those impossible odds, the battleship Washington opened up
with her 16-inch guns. If you're reading this in English, you should
be able to figure out how she did.)
But the Washington's one-sided battle with the Kirishima was still
weeks in the future. On Oct. 25, Mitchell Paige was back on the God-
forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal.
On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield that
could threaten the Japanese route to Australia. Admiral Yamamoto
knew how dangerous that was. Before long, relentless Japanese
counterattacks had driven the supporting U.S. Navy from inshore
waters. The Marines were on their own.
As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about
carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings on
that hillside, 65 years ago this week -- manning their section of
the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field
against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942 -- it's unlikely
anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to
that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines
does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated
But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry
Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its
2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese)
Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties
handled 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200
Japanese dead is probably too low."
You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack,
haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that
night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As
the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his
line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes
and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn,
convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were
The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the
enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position,
P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless
determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all
his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly
hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was
destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing
his withering fire."
In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed
Brownings and did something for which the weapon was never designed.
Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear
the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the
belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.
Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M.
Conoley was the first to discover how many able-bodied United States
Marines it takes to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated,
combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat.
On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige
alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see
what the dawn would bring.
The hill had held, because on the hill remained the minimum number
of able-bodied United States Marines necessary to hold the position.
And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally
crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on
an insignificant island no one ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.
When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to
put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige
thought they must be joking.
But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they
call "G.I. Joe." At least, it has been up till now.
Mitchell Paige's only condition? That G.I. Joe must always remain a
United States Marine.
But don't worry. Far more important for our new movies not to offend
anyone in Cairo or Karachi or Paris or Palembang.
After all, it's only a toy. It doesn't mean anything.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-
Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The
Black Arrow." www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?
Guitar Hero III: Five Reasons to Rock
Gaming's biggest arena tour is about to hit your town. Here are some
details to chew on while you stand in line for a ticket.
by Russ Fischer
1. Better Than A New Drummer
Tony Hawk developers Neversoft were so into Guitar Hero while
creating Project 8 that they were hired to make this third game
after original publisher Harmonix was snapped up by EA. With loads
of experience pushing established ideas forward, Neversoft has kept
the game's classic elements and added new details to the user
interface and player characters.
Co-op gameplay has been given its own career mode, and you can
finally play co-op online as well. Contentious players can check the
Battle Mode, where axe-handlers face off playing identical tracks
and earning attacks with Star Power. Unleash these devious deals
against your opponent to break their concentration. You can make
single notes appear as chords, overload the amp to make their screen
shake, or even force the dreaded (rightys to) lefty flip.
Complaints against some of Guitar Hero II's song choices were heard
loud and clear, and while there's still plenty of metal (Slayer, oh
yeah!) there are also more genuine guitar hero choices like Eric
Johnson, Sonic Youth, Living Color, and the reappearance of Stevie
Ray Vaughn. More than 70 percent of the tracks are performed by the
original artist. Of the three "holy grail" bands, AC/DC Metallica
and Led Zepplin, one is finally on board. You'll be able to rock the
master track to Metallica's 'One' along with all the other goodness.
4. Play The Pros
Guitar Hero is no longer confined to the realm of pure fantasy; now
it's only partial fantasy with the inclusion of real-world rockers
like Slash and Tom Morello. (Oh, and Brett Michaels.) Slash and
Morello will be two of the game's three bosses, against whom you'll
have to face off in the biggest battles of your career. They even
recorded new music for their confrontations. The third battle will
be against the most pro player of all, the guy that everyone from
classic blues legends to Ralph Macchio have taken on: the Devil. If
you can guess that battle, you're probably a Charlie Daniels fan.
5. It's All Wireless
No more being tethered to the amp, er, console, by a cord that's too
short for rocking. Activision broke through Microsoft's resistance
to third-party wireless controllers and so the Gibson Les Paul
controller, with a removable neck for easier travel, will be
wireless on all consoles. (The PS2 gets its own wireless controller
modeled on the Kramer Pacer.) Special bonus for Wii players: by
slotting the remote into the guitar, you'll hear extra sounds pumped
through the remote's speaker.
Posted: 24 Oct 2007
Second 'Gone With the Wind' sequel ready
Sun Oct 28, 2007
Rhett Butler, the fictional Southern charmer who walked out of
Scarlett O'Hara's life in "Gone With the Wind," returns to Georgia
next weekend on a book tour of sorts.
The book, to be unveiled Saturday, is a kind of retelling of
Margaret Mitchell's masterpiece from Rhett's perspective and traces
Butler from his roots in South Carolina to Georgia, where he met the
An Atlanta committee charged with protecting Mitchell's novel
authorized the book, "Rhett Butler's People."
The novel begins long before Scarlett ever uttered her first "fiddle-
dee-dee" and goes on for nearly 100 more pages beyond where Mitchell
ended things with "Tomorrow is another day."
The book was written by little-known Civil War novelist Donald
McCaig, 67. Though his occasional use of the N-word in his
manuscript initially gave the committee pause, it accepted the
This is the second companion novel authorized by the Mitchell
committee. The first, "Scarlett" by Alexandra Ripley, released in
1991, was a financial success but unpopular with critics.
"Scarlett" sold more than 6 million copies and spawned a CBS
Much has changed since then, though. "Scarlett" was splashed cross
the pages of the now-defunct Life magazine, but Rhett Butler and his
book have a MySpace page.
"The public itself wanted another sequel," said Paul Anderson Jr.,
part of the three-lawyer committee that advises the Mitchell estate
on protecting and exercising the original book's copyright.
"But this is not like 'Rocky.' We're not coming back every time we
think we can make another book," Anderson told The Atlanta Journal-
Dubai strike threatens building boom
By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press Writer
Sun Oct 28, 2007
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Thousands of South Asian construction
workers went on strike Sunday over harsh working conditions in the
latest threat to a spectacular building boom already endangered by a
falling currency and labor shortage.
While laborers have long complained about working conditions in this
Gulf city known for its avant-garde skyscrapers, luxury dwellings
and archipelagoes of artificial islands, their recent action comes
as contractors are struggling to find workers to complete their
Dubai is home to the world's tallest building the Burj Dubai,
expected to be completed in 2008 and the first Armani luxury
hotel. Authorities report an annual average growth rate of 12
percent over the past decade, largely driven by construction.
The boom has been possible due to plentiful investment from oil-rich
neighbors and armies of non-unionized south Asian workers whose fear
of deportation, until recently, kept them from voicing discontent
over low wages.
"The cost of living here has increased so much in the past two years
that I cannot survive with my salary," said Rajesh Kumar, a 24-year-
old worker from the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh who earns
$149 a month.
The laborers ignored the threat of deportation and refused to go to
work, staging protests at a labor camp in Dubai's Jebel Ali
Industrial Zone and on a construction site in Al Qusais residential
They demanded pay increases, improved housing and better
transportation services to construction sites. On Saturday, workers
threw stones at the riot police and damaged to police cars.
Emirates' Minister of Labor Ali bin Abdullah al-Kaabi described
workers' behavior as "uncivilized," saying they were tampering with
national security and endangering residents' safety.
They could have registered their complaints peacefully but
instead "turned themselves into rioters," he told state news agency
WAM. Those who damaged public property will be deported, the labor
Companies, however, do not want more workers to leave as they
struggle to find enough to complete existing projects following an
overwhelming response to a government amnesty program to persuade
illegal laborers to leave.
In June, the government offered, no questions asked, a free one-way
plane tickets to illegal workers hoping to leave. They have since
been swamped by 280,000 workers who, fed up with a rising cost of
living and low wages, were ready to go home.
A booming economy in India also means that many there no longer see
the need to travel to Dubai and the Gulf, said Bernard Raj, managing
director of the Dubai-based Keith International, which supplies
"In the past, when we go for recruitment of workers we were able to
choose whomever we wanted. Now the turnout of candidates is very
low," he said, estimating that at least 40 percent more workers were
needed for the city's projects.
With the usual labor markets like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Sri Lanka drying up, labor companies are turning to less traditional
places like Tibet and North Korea.
At the root of the problem is the Emirati Dirham's close connection
to the U.S. dollar, which has seen it plummet in value, further
decreasing laborers' already low salaries.
Kumar and his fellow workers said they asked their employer, Al
Habtoor Engineering Enterprises, for a pay increase several times,
but management was not willing to address the issue.
"We were left without any choice but to stage the protest," Kumar
Other workers said similar requests to the other main labor company,
Al Mussa Contracting, were unsuccessful.
"I can not save anything," said Sunder Raj, a 32-year-old worker who
at the end of the month has nothing to send to his family in India
from his salary of $162.
"We are working hard for nothing and there is no way for us to
continue like this," said Mohammed Hussein, a Bangladeshi worker.
K.V. Shamsudheen of the Pravasi Bhandu Welfare Trust, a group that
helps workers, said it is the unskilled labor force that has been
especially hard hit, with many no longer able to send money home.
"The low exchange rate of dirham against Indian Rupee left laborers
without any savings," he said. "The only way for the UAE to attract
workers is to set competitive salaries and assure better living
While Mohammed al-Shaiba, a UAE-based labor analyst, criticized the
strikes, saying they could only harm an economy gripped by a labor
shortage, he acknowledged that the government had to do something.
"Now it's the right time to set a minimum wage," he said, adding
that government should require companies to pay workers at least
$272 a month.
"If they allow a strike today, tomorrow there will be another one,"
Leonardo's "Last Supper" Goes HiDef Online
MILAN, Italy, Oct. 27, 2007
(AP) Can't get to Milan to see Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece "The
As of Saturday, all you need is an Internet connection. Officials
put online an image of the "Last Supper" at 16 billion pixels -
1,600 times stronger than the images taken with the typical 10
million pixel digital camera.
The high resolution will allow experts to examine details of the
15th century wall painting that they otherwise could not - including
traces of drawings Leonardo put down before painting.
The high-resolution allows viewers to look at details as though they
were inches from the art work, in contrast to regular photographs,
which become grainy as you zoom in, said curator Alberto Artioli.
"You can see how Leonardo made the cups transparent, something you
can't ordinarily see," said Artioli. "You can also note the state of
degradation the painting is in."
Besides allowing experts and art-lovers to study the masterpiece
from home, Artioli said the project provides an historical document
of how the painting appears in 2007, which will be valuable to
future generations of art historians.
The work, in Milan's Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, was
restored in a painstaking effort that wrapped up in 1999 - a project
aimed at reversing half a millennium of damage to the famed artwork.
Leonard painted the "Last Supper" dry, so the painting did not
cleave to the surface in the fresco style, meaning it is more
delicate and subject to wear.
"Over the years it has been subjected to bombardments; it was used
as a stall by Napoleon," Artioli said. The restoration removed 500
years of dirt while also removing previous restoration works that
masked Leonardo's own work.
Even those who get to Milan have a hard time gaining admission to
see the "Last Supper." Visits have been made more difficult by
measures to protect it. Twenty-five visitors are admitted every 15
minutes to see the painting for a total of about 320,000 visitors a
year. Visitors must pass through a filtration system to help reduce
the work's exposure to dust and pollutants.
"The demand is three of four times higher, but we can't accommodate
it because of efforts to preserve the painting," Artioli said.
On the Web: www.haltadefinizione.com
By Associated Press Writer Colleen Barry