Entertainment News 05-31-10
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Editor, The Konformist
Great Quotes: Lost
"We tried to make an ending to the show that was kind of spiritual and I think captured, really, some of the things we were feeling as a community of people who made the show."
Carlton Cuse on the Lost finale
The Empire Strikes Back Turns 30, As Do Fans' Psychic Scars
May 21, 2010
There is an episode of Lost titled "Some Like it Hoth," in which Hurley, the portly Floridian played by Jorge Garcia, travels back in time to 1977 with the express goal of writing the script for The Empire Strikes Back before George Lucas gets around to it. He figures he can make "a couple of improvements." I'm not sure what he could be thinking, because, as far as I'm concerned, The Empire Strikes Back is not only the perfect science-fiction movie. It might just be the perfect movie.
Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, a film most Star Wars fans consider the best of the franchise's six films. Just three years after Star Wars revolutionized the blockbuster, Empire redefined it again, proving that a film that took place in outer space and featured light sabers and blasters could also be smart and, yes, depressing. If watching Star Wars was kind of like being on an amusement-park ridesmiles for everyone!watching The Empire Strikes Back might be more comparable to getting a root-canal. Han Solo would have gladly traded what happened to him in Empire for full set of root-canals. The Empire, seemingly defeated at the end of the first movie when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star, struck back in a big way, and it was ugly.
In truth, The Empire Strikes Back had a lot going against it. Being the sequel to the most successful film of all time, Star Wars, raised expectations to an unprecedented level. Sure, there was no Internet to fuel speculation, but there were magazines such as Starlog that sent fans into a frenzy by printing every unsubstantiated rumor about the upcoming sequel's plot. (Luke, Han, and Leia travel through time to present day Earth? Really, Starlog? Are you sure you're not thinking of Star TREK?) Meanwhile, the accurate facts were anxiety-inducing enough: the shoot was way over budget, and George Lucas had decided not to direct this installment, handing over the duties to Irvin Kershner.
George Lucas likes to defend his comparatively lame prequels (Episode I, II, and III) by saying that they are kids' movies. That, he suggests, is why all those thirty-something Star Wars nerds don't appreciate the new movies. I'm calling bullshit on this. Has Lucas actually seen Empire? Empire is a lot of things, but it's certainly not a kids' movie. How do I know? Because I saw that movie when I was five-years-old and it pretty much fucked me up for life.
The Empire Strikes Back was the first film that I ever saw in a movie theater. (The second was Ordinary People, which also fucked me up, but I will not be writing a 30th anniversary story about it.) All I knew about the story of Star Wars was what I had been told by upperclassmen (i.e. second graders) and what I had deduced from playing with my already vast collection of Kenner action figures. Having not seen the film, I wound up forging some pretty strange alliances. In my world, it wasn't Han, Luke, Chewbacca, and Leia; it was Han and his trusty sidekicks Greedo and Bossk. How ironic is that?
On May 21, 1980, my parents agreed to take me to see The Empire Strikes Back. That day, my innocence died a little. From what I had been told about Star Wars, I expected a fun-filled ride. Yeah, that didn't happen. What I saw was C-3PO get blown into a million pieces; Luke Skywalker cut off the head of Darth Vader only to see his own face (you think that scene is trippy now, try it as a five-year-old), then, later, get his hand severed by his own father; and Han Solo get frozen in Carbonite and, for all I knew, killed. Actually, my parents got me to the film a little late, so the first piece of action I ever saw on a proper movie screen was Luke Skywalker getting slashed in the face by a Wampaa Wampa that later got his arm cut off. Again, with all due respect to George Lucas, this is not a fucking kids movie!
All this was especially upsetting because, thanks to Irvin Kershner, I felt genuine concern for these characters. Kershner got absolutely terrific acting performances out of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and, yes, even Harrison Ford (who, let's admit it, completely phoned in his performance in Return of the Jedi). This is the same reason Lost resonates where other shows fail. It's not about how crazy or weird the setting is; it's always about the characters. Anyone can do "weird"; not everyone can do "compelling." Kershner understood this, whereas Lucas either doesn't understand it or doesn't care. This is why the Star Wars prequels failed. Empire doesn't even have that complex of a plot: Heroes get attacked, heroes try to escape and get their asses kicked in the process. The end.
Empire's plot taught a generation of children that when life gets you down ... it's probably only going to get worse. The most positive people I know all love Return of the Jedi; the cynics love Empire. When my parents would ask me why I never got too excited about, well, anything, I just wanted to scream back, "Because, when I had an impressionable mind of mush, you took me to see The Empire Strikes Back!" It taught me that, yeah, no matter how hard of a fight you put up, the bad guys will still win. In 1981, I finally saw a re-release of Star Wars. My parents acted as if they had replaced a dead pet goldfish with a new alive version. "See," they said, " they're all O.K.!," as if Star Wars came chronologically after Empire and as if I had the brainpower of a Taun-Taun. It made it worse; I knew their fate. "Hey, great, you blew up the Death Star. Laugh it up now, guys. You're about to get your asses kicked." But that's what made Empire great. I cared that much.
I recently asked Jorge Garcia what he actually could improve about Empire, and even he admitted he didn't agree with his character, "I don't know if I'd want to touch The Empire Strikes Back. It's definitely risen to the top of the trilogy. I loved how it ended with so much dissonance. It was the tragedy of them all." The real tragedy are peopleLucas among themwho write off the original Star Wars films as movies for children. Thirty years ago today, a generation of cynical Star Wars fans were born. It's hard to imagine a "kids' movie" released today having that much of an impactabout as hard as imagining anyone, in 2032, caring about the 30th anniversary of Attack of the Clones.
New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Christ, Forget It
Let Someone Else Report On This Bullshit
May 20, 2010 | ISSUE 4620
NEW YORKWhile millions of young, tech-savvy professionals already use services like Facebook and Twitter to keep in constant touch with friends, a new social networking platform called Foursquare has recently taken the oh, fucking hell, can't some other desperate news outlet cover this crap instead?
Launched last year, Foursquare is unique in that it not only allows users to broadcast their whereabouts, but also offers a number of built-in incentives, including some innovative new crap The New York Times surely has a throbbing hard-on for.
In fact, why don't we just let them report on this garbage and call it a day?
"Foursquare is a little bit of everythinga friend-finder, a local city guide, an interactive mobile game," said company cofounder Dennis Crowley, as if reading from the same tired script used by every one of these Web 2.0 or whatever-the-fuck-they're-called startups. "But more than that, Foursquare is an [endless string of meaningless buzzwords we just couldn't bring ourselves to transcribe]."
Added Crowley, "[Who gives a shit]."
According to sources we feel really, really sorry for, Foursquare works by allowing users to "check in" from their present location, whether it be a bar, restaurant, nearby magazine stand, or man, this piece would be perfect to hand over to that schmuck Dan Fletcher at Time magazine right about now.
By "checking in," users can earn tangible, real-world rewards. For instance, the Foursquare user with the most points at any given venue earns the designation of "mayor" and can receive discounts, free food, or other prizes that, quite honestly, we're thoroughly disgusted with ourselves for having actually researched.
In addition, please, kill us already.
As you've no doubt guessed from reading a dozen similar articles in The Washington Post, now's the part of our "trend piece" where we quote an industry expert like Leonard Steinberg, a Boston University communications professor and specialist in his field who remarks in a rather defeated tone that Foursquare represents a revolutionary new way for businesses and customers to interact.
"Through its competitive elements like badges and points, Foursquare helps generate brand loyalty," said the Ph.D.-holding individual, whose decades in higher education were basically shit upon by our inane questions about various bits of Foursquare ephemera. "It's a unique and transformative social networking tool."
"Can I go now?" he added.
Although it recently hit the million-user mark, Foursquare has yet to approach the vast subscriber base of Facebook and Twitter. But that all could change as people become increasingly reliant on the okay, here, here, let me sum up this whole "news" story for you: Aging, scared newspapermen throw themselves at the latest mobile technology trend in a humiliatingly futile attempt to remain relevant.
And now that you're all caught up, take it away, final miserable paragraph:
The current mayor of her local coffee shop and the young woman we've selected to represent young people everywhere, Jen Galanos, 26, has so far earned a free cappuccino and two hours of Wi-Fi. But while she likes the rewards, she said they're only a fringe benefit of an application that, as we suspected, The New York Times has already creamed its jeans and tripped all over itself in a rush to cover.
Here's the fucking link:
Written by Chuck Palahniuk
Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
On Sale: April 20, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-38981-7 (0-307-38981-2)
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
A gang of adolescent terrorists, a spelling bee, and a terrible plan masquerading as a science project: This is Operation Havoc.
Pygmy is one of a handful of young adults from a totalitarian state sent to the US disguised as exchange students. Living with American families to blend in, they are planning an unspecified act of massive terrorism that will bring this big dumb country and its fat dumb inhabitants to their knees. Palahniuk depicts Midwestern life through the eyes of this indoctrinated little killer in a cunning double-edged satire of American xenophobia.
"A cunning mix of advertising copy, leftist sloganeering and teen slang . Pygmy is a dish for those who like their satire well done. And without apology."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Palahniuk's twisted imagination is still in full bloom."
The Seattle Times
"[A] hilarious cover-to-cover read."
The Baltimore City Paper
"Inventive, hilarious, moving and deeply disturbing."
"Palahniuk is brilliant."
The Washington Post Book World
"Palahniuk's novels have always been driven by black humor. . . . His minimalist, verb-heavy style propels the narratives through the many bizarre, occasionally shocking events. . . . A full portrait of an unforgettable character. Pygmy is yet another unique direction for an author who continues to challenge and intrigue readers."
The Boston Globe
"A rip-roaringly exciting piece of writing, a truly graphic novel. . . . It has moments of poetry within."
The Telegraph (London)
"Chuck Palahniuk is William S. Burroughs and David Foster Wallace rolled into one."
San Diego Union-Tribune
"Violent, outrageous, and darkly hilarious."
"Palahniuk is brilliant at juxtaposing Pygmy's insane background with the madness of contemporary Western society."
The Washington Post Book World
"Give Pygmy to your kid. He'll think you're rad."
"A poignant commentary on culture clash with a sinister and violent twist. It's what one might expect if movie-violence king Quentin Tarantino had written Borat."
The London Free Press
"Palahniuk . . . knows all about escalating action to a thrilling finale. More impressively, he starts to make us feel for Pygmy, and introduces a more human side to this previously impenetrable character. . . . Pretty funny."
The Independent (London)
"A jarring and evocative narrative culminating in something both cruel and humane. . . . Culture clash with a Palahniuk twist."
"Think Faulkner writing as a demented Chinese Pinko-Commie youth with a deadly killing stroke and a near constant erection. . . . The apocalypse of the American Dream has never been so entertaining."
Death + Taxes magazine
Chuck Palahniuk's nine previous novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by David Fincher; Survivor; Invisible Monsters; Choke, which was made into a film by director Clark Gregg; Lullaby; Diary; Haunted; Rant; and Snuff. He is also the author of Fugitives and Refugees, a nonfiction profile of Portland, Oregon, published as part of the Crown Journeys series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.
BabeWatch: Venus Williams at the French Open
King of the Hill on Soccer
As the World Cup is here again, time to quote Hank Hill...
HANK: Bobby, I never thought I'd need to tell you this, but I would be a bad parent if I didn't. Soccer was invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.
BOBBY: Why do you have to hate what you don't understand?
HANK: I don't hate you, Bobby.
BOBBY: I meant soccer.
HANK: Oh. Oh, yeah, I hate soccer. Yes.
Bolivia launches "Coca-Colla" drink made from medicinal coca plant
Saturday, May 22, 2010
David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The Bolivian government has announced plans to launch a carbonated soft drink called Coca-Colla, to be made with actual coca leaves.
The name (pronounced koka koya) is an allusion to Colla suyu, the quadrant of the Inca empire that contained the modern territory of Bolivia.
The plan for the beverage was submitted by coca farmers from the country's Chapare region as part of a wider initiative to increase production of the plant. President Evo Morales, a former coca grower and head of the Chapare cocalero union, has made increased commercialization of the plant a key part of his plan for the country's economic development.
Coca leaves, chewed or brewed into tea, have been a part of Andean cultures for thousands of years. The plant is considered sacred by indigenous people and is also prized for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. According to Morales, an estimated 10 million people chew the leaves throughout the Andes.
Morales has promised to increase coca cultivation by 20,000 hectares (49,420 acres), and his government has already approved production of coca-based tea, flour, toothpaste and liquor. Bolivian law, which bans cocaine production, currently allows only 12,000 hectares of coca to be cultivated, although the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 30,500 hectares are actually in cultivation.
In a deliberate allusion to Coca-Cola, Coca-Colla will also feature a red label with a black swoosh. Coca-Cola still uses coca leaves in its formula, and is the only company authorized to import the leaves under U.S. law.
Because coca leaves are an essential ingredient in the highly industrialized process needed to make cocaine, some governments classify them as narcotics. The official U.S. position is that the plant should be driven extinct, and the International Narcotics Control Board advocates a ban on the traditional religious practice of chewing the leaves.
It is impossible to get a cocaine "high" off of coca leaves, and traditional practitioners and Western scientists have both confirmed that chewing the leaves is not addictive and carries no negative health effects.
Sources for this story include: www.telegraph.co.uk.
Humor: Sign That Is Totally Not Gay
Picture courtesy of:
Stoner Cooking: Zesty Blue Cheese Burgers
We love the combination of flavors in this classic burger recipe. Beef, rich tomato, and the sharp bite of blue cheese what could be better than that?
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
1/2 cup Heinz® Tomato Ketchup
1/2 cup Crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons Finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire Sauce
1 pound Lean ground beef
4 Sandwich buns, split and toasted
1.To prepare sauce, combine Ketchup, blue cheese, onion and Worcestershire sauce.
2.Lightly mix 1/4 cup sauce with meat; shape into 4 patties.
3.Grill or broil to desired doneness.
4.Serve in toasted buns topped with remaining sauce.
Serving Size: 1 roll with 6-oz. burger
Calories from Fat 120
Total Fat 13g 20%
Sat. Fat 6g 30%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 75mg 25%
Sodium 1070mg 45%
Carbohydrates 44g 15%
Fiber 1g 4%
Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 8%
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on 2,000 calorie diet
Kool Website: Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber
Thanks to Richard Metzger of DangerousMinds.net
After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all
The great American writer left instructions not to publish his autobiography until 100 years after his death, which is now
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles
Sunday, 23 May 2010
Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.
The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.
That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.
Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted the first-hand account of his life kept under wraps for so long. Some believe it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Others argue that the time lag prevented him from having to worry about offending friends.
One thing's for sure: by delaying publication, the author, who was fond of his celebrity status, has ensured that he'll be gossiped about during the 21st century. A section of the memoir will detail his little-known but scandalous relationship with Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who became his secretary after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Twain was so close to Lyon that she once bought him an electric vibrating sex toy. But she was abruptly sacked in 1909, after the author claimed she had "hypnotised" him into giving her power of attorney over his estate.
Their ill-fated relationship will be recounted in full in a 400-page addendum, which Twain wrote during the last year of his life. It provides a remarkable account of how the dying novelist's final months were overshadowed by personal upheavals.
"Most people think Mark Twain was a sort of genteel Victorian. Well, in this document he calls her a slut and says she tried to seduce him. It's completely at odds with the impression most people have of him," says the historian Laura Trombley, who this year published a book about Lyon called Mark Twain's Other Woman.
"There is a perception that Twain spent his final years basking in the adoration of fans. The autobiography will perhaps show that it wasn't such a happy time. He spent six months of the last year of his life writing a manuscript full of vitriol, saying things that he'd never said about anyone in print before. It really is 400 pages of bile."
Twain, who was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, had made several attempts to start work on autobiography, beginning in 1870, but only really hit his stride with the work in 1906, when he appointed a stenographer to transcribe his dictated reminiscences.
Another potential motivation for leaving the book to be posthumously published concerns Twain's legacy as a Great American. Michael Shelden, who this year published Man in White, an account of Twain's final years, says that some of his privately held views could have hurt his public image.
"He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He's also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there."
In other sections of the autobiography, Twain makes cruel observations about his supposed friends, acquaintances and one of his landladies.
Parts of the book have already seen the light of day in other publications. Small excerpts were run by US magazines before Twain's death (since he needed the money). His estate has allowed parts of it to be adapted for publication in three previous books described as "autobiographies".
However, Robert Hirst, who is leading the team at Berkeley editing the complete text, says that more than half of it has still never appeared in print. Only academics, biographers, and members of the public prepared to travel to the university's Bancroft research library have previously been able to read it in full. "When people ask me 'did Mark Twain really mean it to take 100 years for this to come out', I say 'he was certainly a man who knew how to make people want to buy a book'," Dr Hirst said.
November's publication is authorised by his estate, which in the absence of surviving descendants (a daughter, Clara, died in 1962, and a granddaughter Nina committed suicide in 1966) funds museums and libraries that preserve his legacy.
"There are so many biographies of Twain, and many of them have used bits and pieces of the autobiography," Dr Hirst said. "But biographers pick and choose what bits to quote. By publishing Twain's book in full, we hope that people will be able to come to their own complete conclusions about what sort of a man he was."