Entertainment News 11-18-11
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Editor, The Konformist
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Joe Paterno and the Sick Logic of College Football
After 46 seasons coaching at Penn State University, Coach Joe Paterno now faces a crisis that could burn the storied football program to the ground. And if recent charges are true, his legacy deserves to burn to along with it. For those who haven't heard, longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky, 67, who coached the vaunted Nittany Lions defense for 23 years, has been charged with 40 sex crimes against boys dating from 1994 to 2005. All of the minors were under the care of Sandusky's charity for impoverished youth, "The Second Mile Foundation", which Sandusky founded in 1977. As the grand jury presentment stated: "Through The Second Mile, Sandusky had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable due to their social situations." Sandusky is denying all charges through his attorney, but the grand jury report is a damning and detailed account of a man exercising his power and authority rape young boys.
On one level, it's a horror story we've heard before: vulnerable children become targets for the very people trusted with their care. But this case is far, far worse, because it could have been stopped in time to spare many other victims. It could have been stopped, but it wasn't, because the image of Joe Paterno Nittany Lion Football was deemed more important than the children at risk.
The grand jury summation describes one scene where Sandusky was caught raping 10 year old "Victim Number 2" in the Penn State football team shower. The graduate student who witnessed it was "distraught" and "traumatized". Did he go to the police? No, he went directly to Joe Paterno's home. Paterno immediately turned the matter over to Athletic Director Tim Curley, and for reasons I don't understand, Gary Schultz, the senior vice president of finance and business. Curley and Schultz conferred and acted. According to the grand jury report, they sat Sandusky down and said that he could no longer use Penn State football facilities while accompanied by Second Mile children. That's it. Pennsylvania state law requires Curley, Schultz and Paterno to report the charges to the police. They didn't. [Curley and Schultz are being charged with perjury and obstruction. Paterno is not.]
Curley even admitted to the grand jury that he "advised Sandusky that he was prohibited from bringing youth onto the Penn State campus from that point forward." Yet as Deadspin.com reported, even this "punishment" was fictional. As late as 2009, Sandusky was on campus running a sleep-away camp for boys as young as nine years old. One alleged victim told the grand jury that Sandusky had tried to impress him by bringing him to a Penn State's preseason practices in 2007a full five years after Paterno was made aware of the shower rape. This is why it's hard to take seriously Paterno's statement on Sunday, where he said, "If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers."
We are past prayer and into the realm of criminal negligence [and the major players are circling the wagons. Sunday night, after an emergency meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Curley requested to be placed on administrative leave so he could defend himself full time. Schultz also announced he would be retiring, effective immediately.] I agree with the Washington Post's Mike Wise, who wrote, "They would all be party to a worse crime than any crooked, pay-for-play booster at Miami, Ohio State or even SMU ever committed: guilty of protecting a program before a child." But at the same time I would argue that the connective tissue between benign booster scandals and this monstrous state of affairs are more substantial than people want to say. It's connected to the Bowl Championship Series, "conference realignment" and all the ways in which college football has morphed over the last generation into a multi-billion dollar big business. This isn't about Sandusky. This is about about a culture that says the football team must be defended at all costs: a culture where the sexual assault of a 10 year old is reported to Paterno before the police.
This is what happens when a football program becomes the economic and spiritual heartbeat of an entire section of a state. The Nittany Lions football regularly draws 100,000 fans to Happy Valley. They also produce $50 million in pure profit for the University every year and has been listed as the most valuable team in the Big 10 conference. Another economic report held that every Penn State game pumps $59 million into the local economy: from hotels to kids selling homemade cookies by the side of the road. It's no wonder that Paterno is revered. He took a football team and turned it into an economic life raft for a university and a region. When something becomes that valuable, a certain mindset kicks in. Protect the team above all over concerns. Protect Joe Pa. Protect Nittany Lions football. Protect the brand.
Penn State has never been an "outlaw program". It's what every school aspires to become. Think about that. Every school aspires to be the kind of place where football is so valuable that children can become collateral damage. If the allegations are true, if the school in fact knew this was going on, then the program should be shut down. If the allegations are true, Joe Paterno should be instructed to take his 46 years and 409 wins, and leave in disgrace. It's tragic that it's come to this for a legend like Joe Paterno. But it's even more tragic that protecting his legend mattered more than stopping a child rapist in their midst. Damn Sandusky. Damn Paterno. Damn Penn State. But above all, damn the fact that the billion-dollar logic of big-time college football leads to decisions as monstrous as those made in Happy Valley.
Dave Zirin is the author of "The John Carlos Story" (Haymarket) and just made the new documentary "Not Just a Game." Receive his column every week by emailing dave@.... Contact him at edgeofsports@....
Awesome Star Wars Collectibles
1977 Burger King Darth Vader Glass
Album of the Month: Transmissions from a Dying Planet
By Adam Gorightly, Konformist Kontributor
1. Intro (1:19)
2. The New Prophet (4:08)
3. Lost In Time (3:36)
4. Human Stew (5:29)
5. Transmissions From A Dying Planet (2:42)
6. Interlude (:19)
7. Ouija Board (4:25)
8. Flowers & Blood (5:24)
9. Reprise (1:49)
Konformist Kontributor Floyd Anderson digs it:
"A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas"
Pick of the week: Yuletide comes early for the beloved stoner comedy duo. Plus: Neil Patrick Harris' dark secret!
Thursday, Nov 3, 2011
Is the first week of November, before we've finished eating the Halloween candy, too early for a Christmas movie? Ordinarily my answer would be abso-freakin'-lutely, but when the movie in question is a disgusting, anarchic celebration of drug abuse and random violence, complete with free-floating ethnic stereotypes, an evil Claymation snowman, a self-explanatory hit Yuletide toy called the Wafflebot, the most preposterous self-mocking Neil Patrick Harris performance in the long history of such things and a pilfered scene from "Madea's Family Reunion" well, it's never too early for that, is it?
Early in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas," Harold Lee (John Cho), who has grown up into a yupped-out, suit-wearing financial whiz with a house in the `burbs, asks a servile underling, "Hasn't the whole 3-D thing kind of jumped the shark?" (Said underling has promised to find Harold a 3-D HDTV that will be so awesome "it makes `Avatar' look Avatarded!") So it has, and never has a shark been so thoroughly and ingeniously jumped as in the third installment of the stoner-bromance comedy franchise built around Cho and co-star Kal Penn, which is full of imaginative, outrageous and egregiously insulting 3-D gags. I saw this movie at a critics' screening in the Warner Bros. building in midtown Manhattan in the middle of the afternoon, and the normally stonefaced crowd succumbed to widespread braying, snorting and guffawing. You could almost smell the fifth-generation unsexed Congolese skunkweed. (I said almost.)
Time often passes more slowly in movieland than in the real world, but in Harold and Kumar's universe the opposite appears to be true. Numerous years have passed since our Asian-American dynamic duo escaped from Guantánamo Bay (without eating the fabled cock-meat sandwich) and got baked with George W. Bush, in a scene that made me feel some genuine human sympathy for President No. 43. And you know what happens as boyhood friends grow up: They drift apart, and sometimes it might just take the magic of Christmas Santa Claus, and Jesus Christ, and Ukrainian mobsters and Neil Patrick Harris and lots and lots of narcotics to make them understand what's really important in this world.
Harold makes a lot of money and feels only slightly bad about the Occupy-type protesters outside his Manhattan office building, and lives in a Christmas-bedecked New Jersey domicile that's about to be invaded by his intense Latino father-in-law (Danny Trejo) bearing a 12-foot Fraser fir he grew himself. Harold has given up the ganja and pretty much lost touch with his old pal Kumar Patel (Penn), who still lives in their old apartment with no job, no girlfriend and a beard approaching Grizzly Adams dimensions. His thoroughly reprehensible new best friend, Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) tries to get him to come to some party full of allegedly deflowerable teenage virgins, but Kumar isn't interested. "No, I gotta stay here and smoke this weed. Otherwise I won't get high."
But never fear: This is indeed a Christmas movie, and when a mysterious package arrives addressed to Harold, Kumar knows he must deliver it in person. As for the package well, I'm spoiling nothing by telling you it contains a ginormous doobie, but what it really contains is a message of holiday love that will bring together the best-loved East Asian-meets-South Asian comedy duo of the 21st century. Also, it will burn down Harold's father-in-law's beloved Christmas tree and send Harold and Kumar out into the streets on Christmas Eve to negotiate with faux-ghetto tree salesmen (one of them the rapper RZA), introduce a baby to marijuana, cocaine and untold other illicit substances, interrupt a party of naked lesbian nuns and encounter a genuine, if distressingly gory, Christmas miracle.
"Harold & Kumar" creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have once again written the screenplay but have handed the director's chair over to newcomer Todd Strauss-Schulson, and it's absolutely the right choice. (Yeah, I'm pretty sure those guys are all Jewish, but hell nobody's ever crafted Christmas entertainment like the people of the Torah.) They directed "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay" themselves, and while that movie's plenty funny, it lacks either the classic teen-oriented pacing of the original 2004 "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" or the outrageous Busby Berkeley production values of this one. I shouldn't tell you too much more about the giddy excess of "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" and for once, you really should pay the extra few bucks for those glasses but it's pretty much one ridiculous set-piece after another, and you absolutely don't need to be wasted to enjoy them. (I'm not saying that wouldn't be awesome.)
I've already mentioned the Claymation bad-trip sequence featuring a vengeful snowman, but that may not even be as funny as the sentimental montage sequence explaining Danny Trejo's impoverished childhood, or Kumar's pornographic fantasy involving the near-total demolition of the Catholic Church. And then there's Neil Patrick Harris, a consummate entertainer of our time, who somehow manages to be completely authentic and blissfully fake at the same time. Ah, NPH, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Harold and Kumar encounter Neil again as the star of a Radio City-style holiday pageant, and then venture backstage with Neil and his boyfriend to hear him explain how he cheated death in "Guantánamo Bay." I'll merely hint that if you were suspicious that the whole gay thing ("homo-crap," in Neil's words) might be an elaborate front, you're on the right track. After dispensing some sage advice and disgusting vulgarity, Neil assures our heroes that he'll see them "in the fourth one." We can only hope.
Why Fringe Rocks
November 6, 2011
Look, I'll be frank (even though that's not my name); Fox's Fringe rocks.
I spend my television hours guessing the endings of most procedural dramas. Frankly, if I can't guess the ending of a procedural drama, it's because it's jumped the shark to try to fool people, making for a ridiculous ending. It seems television writers are so busy banging out CSIs, Law & Orders and Castles (yes, plot-wise I dump Castle into the bad category, even though I do like the show) that they are painting by the numbers when it comes to plot.
I can't guess Fringe. Sure I can see some general directions, but I can't guess it at all. J. J. Abrams and crew are willing to do pretty much anything; kill important characters, change reality, make good guy's bad, change reality, erase character's entire existence, change reality, seemingly throw giant monkey-wrenches in the plot that you think you've figured out and change reality.
Not only did the original cast wind up playing themselves as evil (or well-meaning) opposites within a second universe, which is possibly one of the most over-used plot-lines in science-fiction, not only did they manage to do it with style and panache, but now they went and changed the reality of both of these universes, changing the histories and relationships of all the characters in both places basically giving the actors the net result of playing FOUR versions of themselves: the old universe's realities, and now, the new reality of the current shows.
It keeps evolving into a new series, and yet it is playing out a singular story-arc.
Fringe always gets compared to The X-Files, but I have to say that ultimately, it's Rod Serling-caliber. I don't just mean Twilight-Zone caliber, but more than that, Rod Serling himself. It's the type of television that Rod spoke of when he was interviewed about what he saw for the future of television way back when Zone started something that brought art to the masses, not Kardashians and tattoo shows and people bidding on crap in a storage-locker truly thoughtful television.
I urge you to check out the previous episodes and catch up. Watching Fringe has become my favorite pastime, and, frankly, one of my favorite TV shows ever. There is NO sitting in front of the television and sapping your brain dry with Fringe I am constanly challenged, surprised, and delighted with the stories, plots and performances. What other television series literally changes the opening credits depending on which universe (or time) in which the story is taking place? Right now all the credits are a color that they've never been before and I'll leave it to you to figure out why.
Fox has been gracious, allowing Fringe to continue with less than stellar overall ratings, due to a strong fan-base, and (I hope) a realization that it's just darn-good television. This is something that will make all related parties quite a bit of money in it's afterlife of DVD sales and syndication. I only hope that they know when to truly end the show, giving it a satisfying farewell. I don't want it to run forever, taking up space, but coming to a strong conclusion, which is very difficult in the ratings-driven world of network television.
In any case, I'll enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.
Sofia Vergara & Shakira
Country Music Awards Special:
Retropedia Entry of the Week: Super Jock
Most athletes have the ability to take a good pounding to the noggin without suffering in their performance. And, if they should happen to hold the title of Super Jock, not only is head-banging an understood occupational hazard, it is precisely what is needed to get the job done. Able to take the abuse time and time again, without ever having to worry about landing on the disabled list, Super Jocks, introduced by Schaper Toys in the mid-70s offered a line of invincible athletes with a penchant for abuse and the ability to perform brilliantly under the pressure.
The Super Jock lineup included a representative from each of the major sports. There was Super Toe for football fans, Super Touch for those who preferred a game of hoops, Super Stick for the Hockey fans, and a baseball version that would make Babe Ruth proud. Simply pound down on their head and their elongated neck would collapse into their body causing their appendages to jump into action. With a little aim and finesse, one could be shooting 3-pointers like Michael Jordan in no time. And like any good toy, a full spectrum of accessories were available as well, including automatic pitching machines, goals (with goalies), hoops, and goal posts. Perhaps you were never going to smack the game-winning puck in real life but one could always live vicariously through the athletic prowess of Super Jock.
In 1986, Milton Bradley bought the rights to Super Jock and released redesigned basketball and football sets to mild success. And, as is the case with most modern sports figures, Super Jock would eventually be traded to Playskool to play out the remainder of his career and prove to future kids that it takes one tough skull to survive in the world of professional sports.
Ola Loa is a healthy alternative to sugar-laden children's vitamins and sports drinks
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
(NaturalNews) A recent report from NaturalNews about children's vitamins and sports drinks lets you know many of the popular mainstream brands of both of these types of products contain large amounts of sugar. Several of our readers wrote asking for suggestions on what they can use to replace the sugary substances. NaturalNews publisher Mike Adams has researched this, and strongly recommends one product line which offers both a tasty yet low sugar drinkable vitamin and excellent sports drink -- Ola Loa.
Doctor-formulated Ola Loa vitamins come in flavored packets which you can mix with water. This offers a tremendous advantage because swallowing pills, especially large ones, can create digestive stress on the body. Many people have difficulty absorbing the nutrients contained in vitamin tablets so they receive little nutritive value for the money they spend on vitamins. Nutritional experts believe many people lose as much as 70% of the nutrient value contained in most vitamin pills.
Drinking your vitamins enables your body to absorb them more easily. Compared to other powdered vitamin lines, Ola Loa offers a more complete package of vitamins and nutrients as well as a lower sugar content. Whereas some powdered vitamin products are essentially 90% sugar with only 5% nutritional value, Ola Loa reverses the proportions, delivering approximately 85% nutrients paired with only one gram of sugar. That single gram of sugar derives from fructose, not sucrose, so that Ola Loa has no effect on the body's glycemic system. This makes it healthy for everyone, including children and diabetics.
Ola Loa Multivitamin formula for kids, contains no preservatives or artificial colors and provides vitamin C, selenium and zinc to protect the immune system as well as B vitamins for energy production. Ola Loa proves that it is possible to produce a great-tasting vitamin product that even kids will enjoy without using the preservatives, artificial colors or chemical sweeteners that many other companies rely on to make their products palatable to children.
Ola Loa Sport formula provides hydration, energy electrolytes and vitamin C to provide athletes with the support they need to avoid dehydration or energy depletion after intense activity. Ola Loa Sport outperforms major sports drinks brands in delivering electrolytes as well as key restorative nutrients magnesium, folic acid and vitamin B12. Unlike those corporate-owned brands, Ola Loa contains only natural ingredients.
Whereas some sports and energy drinks contain stimulants like caffeine or ephreda, Ola Loa provides a dose of the valuable antioxidant CoQ10. CoQ10 is vital to enable the mitochondria in the cells to engage in the energy reactions that they need to stay alive. The body produces some CoQ10 naturally however chronic illness can slow this biosynthesis. Also, many of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly statins, Big Pharma's pseudo-solution to high cholesterol, inhibit the body's production of CoQ10. Consuming CoQ10 in a drinkable form provides cellular rather than artificial energy.
Ola Loa also stands out from its competitors in offering a healthier form of vitamin B12. Many vitamin products use a form of B12 known as cyanocobalamin. This less expensive version of B12 can be toxic, especially for people who have low antioxidant protection. In high doses, it can cause neurologic problems and even blindness. Ola Loa uses a different form of B12, hydroxycobalamin, which does not have this potential toxicity and which permits the body to utilize the energy benefits of B12 more readily.
Since Ola Loa formulas are drinkable, they offer the same instant energy boost as sublingual vitamins. People who drink Ola Loa often report an instant boost in energy and mood. If you were one of the many people who asked NaturalNews for suggestions on healthy alternatives, Ola Loa is the perfect choice.