Entertainment News 12-19-9
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Branson opens doors to spaceship
December 8, 2009
Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson unveils spacecraft
Media and prospective space-ride tourists get a peek at SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic has deposits from 300 people toward $200,000 tickets
Branson says the first flight into space will launch in 2011 in New Mexico
Mojave, California (CNN) -- Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson on Monday unveiled the winged rocket his company developed to give paying customers a brief taste of space.
The 300 people who have given Branson's Virgin Galactic $20,000 deposits toward the $200,000 space-ride tickets were invited see SpaceShipTwo in its Mojave, California, hangar. CNN was given an early peek.
The first flight in 2011 -- after 18 months of testing -- will launch from a spaceport under construction in New Mexico, Branson said.
Another aircraft will carry the 60-foot-long SpaceShipTwo to 60,000 feet above the Earth, where "they will drop away and they will then go to 2,000 miles per hour in 10 seconds, where they get propelled into space," Branson said.
Its hybrid rocket motor -- still under development -- will reach a suborbital altitude high enough to reach the edges of space and weightlessness, according to Branson.
"Once in space, [passengers] will unbuckle their seats," he said. "There are enormous windows, which no spacecraft has had before, for them to look back at the Earth. They can float around and become astronauts."
The cabin, which seats six paying passengers, is 90 inches -- nearly 9 feet -- in diameter, which provides "lots of room for zero-G fun," Branson's Web site said.
The first voyage will carry Branson, his wife, mother and children, the entrepreneur said. "Actually, that's my mum on the side -- a younger version of my mum on the side of the spaceship," he said.
After just a few minutes of space tourism, SpaceShipTwo will glide back to Earth, landing where it began the trip in New Mexico, he said.
About 80,000 people have placed their names on the waiting list for seats on SpaceShipTwo and its successors.
"What we want to be able to do is bring space travel down to a price range where hundreds of thousands of people would be able to experience space, and they never dreamed that [they] could," Branson said.
He said he hopes the technology will lead to a new form of Earth travel, jetting people across oceans and continents faster through suborbital routes.
"We would love at some stage, obviously subject to government approval, to take the engineers and start looking at shrinking the world," Branson said.
The spacecraft was based on the technology and carbon-composite construction developed for SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X Prize in 2004 for the first privately funded human flight to the edge of space.
The reusable spacecraft is a joint effort by aviation designer Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, a space tourism venture that is a subsidiary of Branson's Virgin Group.
Donald Duck takes on Hitler to the tune of Der Führer's Face
Der Fuehrer's Face is a 1943 propaganda cartoon from the Walt Disney Studios, starring Donald Duck. It was directed by Jack Kinney as an anti-Nazi piece for the American war effort. The song, of course, was later made famous by the great Spike Jones and his City Slickers. The short film won the 1943 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film (the sole Donald Duck short to do so) and in considered one of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time, as voted on by animators.
The German oom-pah band is comprised of Emperor Hirohito (Showa), Hermann Göring on piccolo, Joseph Goebbels on trombone, and Il Duce himself, Benito Mussolini on bass drum.
Vegas oddsmakers have put the over/under for total number of Tiger Woods' mistresses at 15...
'SNL' can't resist Tiger Woods jokes
NEW YORK Tiger Woods and his marital problems proved a tempting target for "Saturday Night Live."
In both a skit and multiple "Weekend Update" jokes this weekend, NBC's comedy institution took on the golfer, who has admitted to letting his family down with "transgressions" that came to light following a strange Thanksgiving weekend incident outside his Florida home.
In one skit, actor Jason Sudeikis portrayed Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Situation Room" reporting on a news conference that Woods (played by Kenan Thompson) and his wife (played by host Blake Lively) were holding outside his home. After Woods admitted to "multiple" transgressions, his wife looked surprised and the screen quickly shifted back to Blitzer.
"Breaking news," Blitzer said. "Tiger Woods is back in the hospital. "Apparently just hours after a press conference where he confessed to multiple transgressions, Woods had an accident in his home where he fell down a flight of stairs then inadvertently threw himself through a plate glass window."
Woods returned for a later news conference, his wife brandishing a golf club next to him, where he said, "Wow, I've been really clumsy this week."
He had more such "accidents," then returns to read a prepared statement with the words "help me" and "I'm scared" written on the back of the papers for the audience to see.
In "Weekend Update," anchor Seth Meyers peppered Woods with one-liners.
"Last Friday Tiger Woods hit a tree and a bunch of ladies fell out," he said.
Meyers noted that Woods and his wife were in negotiations over their prenuptial agreement, and "what's really weird is he presented her with one of those huge, oversized checks."
Woods' sponsors are sticking with him, Meyers said, "a gesture that only means one thing women don't watch golf."
A Heartbeat and a Guitar
Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears
October 2009 ISBN: 1568584075
Johnny Cash recorded Bitter Tears in 1964, four years before his live performance at Folsom Prison and six years before he recorded Man in Black. More importantly, Cash placed himself in the middle of the fervent social upheavals gripping the nation at the timethe civil rights movement was rising, the Vietnam War was escalating, the anti-nuclear weapons campaign was galvanizing and the free speech and women's movement starting to bloom. One year removed from his monumental hit Ring of Fire, Cash was facing censorship and an angry backlash from radio stations, DJs, and fans, for speaking out on behalf of Native people. Cash decided to fight back.
A Heartbeat and a Guitar tells of the collaboration of two distinct yet connected musiciansiconoclast Johnny Cash and little known folk artist Peter LaFargeand the album they created, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It also tells of the unique personal, political and cultural struggles that informed this albumespecially the fight for Native people's rightsone that has influenced scores of musicians and activists, from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks and Native activist-artist John Trudell.
Weaving multiple narrative threads and bringing in the stories of the long forgotten Native war hero Ira Hayes (immortalized in the Iwo Jima flag-raising photo), legendary musicians and producers, courageous Native activists, polarizing political leaders and outspoken citizen-artists, D'Ambrosio's A Heartbeat and a Guitar tells a sweeping story of an untold moment in Cash's career. In this inimitable accountwhich includes 34 never before seen photos by photographs by Jim Marshall and Diana DaviesA Heartbeat and a Guitar strays out of the recording studio and into the presidential campaigns, government halls, Indian reservations, picket lines, bohemian cafes, university campuses, factory lines, civil rights marches, fish-ins and anti-war protests.
What readers are saying
"Antonino D'Ambrosio has really done his homework like no one ever before. I performed with Cash for 40 years and have read every book written about him yet D'Ambrosio astonishingly reveals another side of Cash framed around perhaps his most important work, Bitter Tears. A Heartbeat and a Guitar is a rare and extraordinary work, thanks to D'Ambrosio's exceptional and masterful storytelling. This book must be read, not just by Cash fans, but everyone who loves music and believes in its power and spirit. D'Ambrosio's work, like Cash himself, is highly original and a force to be reckoned with."
Johnny Western, musician and longtime emcee of The Johnny Cash Show.
"This book is a truly fascinating journey, charting the historical and social context of a courageous musical statement by one of our greatest rebel voices."
Jim Jarmusch, filmmaker
"[The book] is a rich history, not only of Johnny Cash's life, but of the Indian struggle for justice... full of fascinating character sketches of the great folk singers of the Sixties, and their part in the social movements of that exciting era. I believe D'Ambrosio has made an important contribution to the cultural history of our time."
"Antonino D'Ambrosio is the voice of a new generationpassionate, intelligent and fiercewhose work educates and inspires. He now brings his unique voice to tell a unique story of Johnny Cash's recording of the protest record Bitter Tears. It's the album no one knows about but is perhaps Cash's greatest recordand Antonino proves it."
Chuck D of Public Enemy
About the Authors
Antonino D'Ambrosio is a writer, filmmaker, photographer and musician. He is the founder and director of La Lutta New Media Collective, a media activism and documentary film production group based in New York City. His writing has appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Monthly Review, Color Lines, New Labor Forum and other publications. His recent documentaries include Desaparecidos and Piccolo Colli: The People of Russell Street. D'Ambrosio is the author of Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Politics of Joe Strummer; the film version features original art and animation by Shepard Fairey and original music from a wide range of musicians including Antibalas, Saul Williams, Chuck D and Thievery Corporation. His most recent short film is No Free Lunch, starring comedian Lewis Black.
'Monk' finale detects big ratings
By Hanh Nguyen
December 7, 2009
"Monk" hit the big time on its way out.
The long-running USA Network detective series starring Tony Shalhoub enjoyed a series finale Friday, Dec. 4 that attracted nearly 9.5 million viewers, a record high for the most-watched regular drama series episode on basic cable, according to Variety.
"It's truly gratifying to have been on the air for eight years and to finish the run with a beautiful episode that people wanted to be a part of," said Mandeville Films' David Hoberman, an executive producer on the show. "'Monk' has achieved a lot in its eight years on the air -- this being one of them."
In the finale, San Francisco cop-turned-private eye Adrian Monk (Shalhoub) finally solves the case of wife's murder, a mystery that had been haunting him for the entire series.
Shalhoub won three Emmys for his work on "Monk."
PARANOIA: The Conspiracy Reader
Ready in April 2010! 180 pages!
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What's in it?
Philip Coppens on 2012, Iona Miller on Tavistock, Astrotheology according to Acharya S, Lovecraft and the Necronomicon, Craig Heimbichner on the OTO, Robert Guffey on Albert Pike, Michael Cremo on Forbidden Archeology, The Reabductions of Melinda Leslie, Eustace Mullins at 86, RAND and UFOs, Who Murdered Robin Hood?, Is the Virgin Mary appearing in Alabama?, New JFK Witness Revealed, David Ray Griffin Interview, Round II, The Apollo Hoax!, and scary PARANOTES by Al Hidell!
Dail R. Cantrell
David Ray Griffin
Lee Harvey Roswell
The Winter 2009 Issue of h+ Magazine features The Ray Kurzweil Interview, CAPRICA: Birth of the Cylons, DIY Transhumanism, The Chinese Singularity, and more.
Fall 2009 print edition available on sale!
Dave Eggers, newspaper publisher?
The novelist's grand print experiment -- $16 a copy -- hits S.F. streets and beyond this week. It's a one-shot deal, but he hopes it will remind people of the form's potential and viability.
By David Ulin
December 8, 2009
Reporting from San Francisco - Dave Eggers doesn't look like a newspaper baron. At 39, wearing a baseball cap and hiking boots, the author -- whose most recent project is the screenplay for "Where the Wild Things Are" -- appears more an older brother to the interns who work feverishly in the Mission District offices of McSweeney's, the independent publisher Eggers founded with the proceeds from his bestselling 2000 memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."
In addition to books and a monthly magazine, McSweeney's publishes a literary journal, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, the new issue of which is set to appear here today in a form that confounds every trend in publishing: a 300-plus-page Sunday-style broadsheet newspaper called the San Francisco Panorama, with which Eggers and company mean to celebrate the glory of the form. Featuring news and sports as well as stand-alone food and arts sections, a magazine and a 96-page pullout Book Review, the Panorama is both homage and conversation starter.
"We don't pretend to have the solutions," Eggers says. "We're just asking a few questions. We admit how little we know, but we're trying to luxuriate in print and maybe remind people of everything it can do."
McSweeney's' projects are marked by an intention to break boundaries, and nowhere is this more true than with the quarterly. A 2005 issue was published as a bundle of mail, and other issues have come in a variety of shapes and styles.
The Panorama will be big, its pages 15 by 22 inches, and lavishly laid out, with attention to color and graphics. A two-page spread in the food section illustrates how to make bruschetta, beginning with the butchering of a lamb. The sports section features a gallery of drawings from the World Series, laid out to resemble something from a newspaper of 80 years ago.
The writing represents contemporary literary journalism at its best. Stephen King -- a Red Sox fan who views the New York Yankees with what he describes as "fear and loathing" -- reports from Baseball City, where the World Series takes place in Bloat Stadium, at the intersection of Greed Avenue and Stupid Street. Novelist Andrew Sean Greer goes to Michigan to experience NASCAR firsthand.
"Our hope," Eggers notes, "is that readers will say, 'I forgot all these things that newsprint can do.' I think it's life-affirming when you say, 'Let's just write it at the length it needs to be and not keep shrinking everything.' "
Of course, it's easy to make such an argument when you're not dealing with the issues facing the commercial press. "In 2005," says Alan D. Mutter, who writes the blog Reflections of Newsosaur, "newspapers racked up a record $49 billion in ad sales. This year, they'll be lucky if they can get $28 billion."
Eggers understands these challenges. "All our friends at dailies," he says, "can't experiment the way we can because we don't have anyone to answer to." The Panorama will come out once, with a cover price of $16 in an edition of about 25,000. Although there is a plan to sell the paper on the streets in San Francisco today, national distribution will take place Wednesday via the Internet and bookstores (including Book Soup and Skylight Books in Los Angeles).
Of course, there's more to the project than simply a demonstration of what newspapers once could do. This too is typical McSweeney's. Indeed, the imprint has become a brand, the apotheosis of writerly hip in a world where cachet for literature is sorely lacking. In addition to its publishing efforts, the press works closely with 826 National, a nonprofit literacy organization for kids 6 to 18 that Eggers established in 2002. What connects these endeavors is a sense that writing and publishing should be ambitious.
Among the centerpieces of the Panorama is an investigative piece by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Porterfield, looking into cost overruns in the renovation of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It's an effort undertaken in conjunction with SF Public Press, a nonprofit Web-based start-up that is looking to fill gaps in local news coverage that have arisen with the contraction of the mainstream press.
Although the San Francisco Chronicle bills itself as "Northern California's largest newspaper," circulation is in decline and staff has been cut; the San Francisco Examiner, meanwhile, is now a free tabloid, distributed six days a week.
"The Panorama is a perfect partner," says Michael Stoll, a former reporter and editor at the Examiner and Philadelphia Inquirer who is now the Public Press' project director and has been a key liaison on the Bay Bridge piece. "They share the same love of the medium but haven't joined the stampede that has given up print for dead."
The Porterfield investigation will encompass more than 10,000 words and half a dozen graphic elements, split between a main piece and several sidebars. It's the kind of thing, Eggers notes, that is hard to do online. This, in turn, suggests a multi-platform approach, in which Twitter or Web updates are used for breaking news and print becomes an outlet for analysis and commentary. "The only thing that doesn't work," Stoll says, "is a single-media strategy."
The McSweeney's effort taps into a larger conversation about the future of long-form journalism in a world where traditional venues are in flux. Last month, the Virginia Quarterly Review, another literary journal, used its website to post an 18,000-word piece in four installments about last year's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. "That's one way of experimenting," says Robert Boynton, director of literary reporting at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
"People constantly underestimate the reading appetite of the American public," Boynton adds, "But there's as big an interest in long-form journalism today as there has ever been, and as we experiment with different delivery systems it will only grow."
That's an optimistic assessment, but it's one Eggers shares. "All of the interns pay for magazines," he says. "They'll read the New Yorker, or they'll read Mother Jones. They'll pay for that, but a lot of them weren't paying for the newspaper anymore. So we started thinking, what if you offered the same sort of depth, analysis, literary value that you get in a magazine? When people sit down, they want to have an experience, and if you surprise them on every page, curate it in such a way that it's constantly surprising and constantly delighting, I think you could keep them."
Robalini's Note: While it's tragic that Andy Murray lost his girlfriend over his videogame addiction, you at least have to admire a guy with his priorities. After all, even Jessica Alba would get boring after a couple hours. But Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 never gets dull...
A Nation of Gamers Feels Your Pain, Andy Murray
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Speaking as a man about town who spent probably six-to-eight hours on Sunday playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's campaign mode, the following story comes as no surprise. Tennis star Andy Murray has split with girlfriend Kim Sears. No, there is no traffic accident, golf club or mistress involved here. He was spending too much time on his PlayStation 3 playing Modern Warfare 2.
Brad Gilbert, Murray's former coach, has said in the past that Murray spends "seven hours a day" playing video games.
The source told The Sun: "He would spend all his time glued to them. In the end she just got fed up with it. She wanted more out of the relationship."
However, the player's agent told the paper that Murray "doesn't play computer games any more than any other 22 year-old".
Don't be so judgmental, Kim Sears. COD: MW2 is an immersive game and it's easy to lose track of time. Plus, if you don't stay sharp, that 14-year-old across the street will just keep picking you off with his sniper rifle AND I WILL NOT LOSE TO HIM AGAIN!
Tyler Durden Goes to China...
Thanks to Richard Metzger and DangerousMinds.net for the following...
Mouse toy in `paedo' song ban
07 Dec 2009
A TOY mouse supposed to sing "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells" has been recalled amid claims it warbles "paedophile, paedophile".
The 4ins festive novelty, with Santa hat and a cheesy grin, has left parents stunned.
One mum said: "When I squeezed its tummy I couldn't believe my ears. I recognised the tune, but the words were certainly not traditional. Luckily my children are too young to understand."
The £2.99 Chinese-made novelty is sold in smaller shops and on market stalls. Distributors Humatt, of Ferndown, Dorset, said the man providing the voice could not pronounce certain sounds. His singing was then speeded up to make it higher-pitched - distorting the result further.
A spokesman insisted: "We've slowed the song down and it definitely says Jingle Bells. But we have recalled them now just in case anybody might take offence."
To hear it sing: