Vincent Caprio, executive director of the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association, asked me to contribute to his series of interviews with influential voices in the science and business of nanotech. So, I interviewed Andrew Maynard, director of the Risk Science Center at the University of Michigan, who has been studying risks associated with nanotech for more than a decade. He had some interesting things to say about assessing risk based on science, rather than political pressure, the need to alter one’s views as more becomes known about nanotech and the risk of overhyping a technology. Here’s an excerpt:
When Andrew Maynard, director of the Risk Science Center at the University of Michigan, read the text of a recent lawsuit by consumer advocates against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which claims the FDA is failing to regulate nanomaterials in products, one phrase jumped out at him. The groups used the words “fundamentally unique properties” when referring to nanoscale ingredients.
The phrase, in fact, comes directly from marketing material of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. So, in one sense, the nanotech industry is a victim of its own public relations, Maynard believes. A phrase used to promote nanotech commercialization is being thrown back at nanotech advocates by those who would use the same logic to demand strict regulations.
“There is an assumption that you can have everything your own way,” Maynard says. “You can say something was unique and important and world-changing, selling the hype, and yet not really understanding what the long-term consequences of that hype are.”
This is what Maynard does for a living. He tries to reach beyond hype and beyond gloom to assess and communicate the real risks associated with emerging technologies, including nanotechnology. But he approaches these assessments from a starting point that seems increasingly difficult to achieve in these polarized political times – one based on scientific principles rather than political agenda.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has closed deals with Akiva Goldsman and Overbrook Entertainment to do another installment of I Am Legend,the 2007 hit film. The intention is for Will Smith to reprise his role as scientist Robert Neville, who was the last man on earth doing battle with a mutated mob in New York City after an apocalyptic man-made virus wiped out the population.
The other quandary is this: if it isn’t a prequel, how to get past Smith’s character’s demise at the first film’s end? These of course are semantics in the tent pole game. Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures are casting a continuation of 300, another hit film where all the major characters croaked.
Come on! Is it that hard to just write a new script with Will Smith as a post-apocalyptic action hero? Is it really necessary to spoil I Am Legend with a reheated regurgitation?
Thursday, February 16th, 2012 - by Jonathan Sanders
Remembering Whitney Houston means more than deifying her.
As Americans, we tend to be a celebrity-obsessed culture. We constantly prowl for the next big thing, and when we find it we latch on with all our strength and demands for perfection. This can lead to incredible rises, but more often the resulting crash is just as precipitous. In our modern musical landscape, the booms and busts often happen quickly, but not long ago the biggest stars in the business shone so brightly that they dominated the landscape across numerous genres.
Regardless of how you look at it, Whitney Houston was one of those superstars who left a colossal imprint on the music world during her quick rise to fame. Like Michael Jackson, she paved the way for a generation of young black women to make their way in the world of popular music. While Jackson broke MTV wide open for young black men, that door had remained obstinately closed for women of the same age. Then Whitney put Houston, just 22 at the time, on the global music map, conquering radio and television to become one of the biggest star-making vehicles of all time. Rolling Stone and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named the album one of the 500 greatest of all time, and it launched her voice into the top echelon of great female voices.
That doesn’t make Houston’s death such a critical loss. Neither, really, is the fact that she’s one of the biggest-selling female artists of all time, and by far the most “awarded” of her or any generation. What stands out above all else is how widely she influenced music over the ensuing 25 years. Houston recorded seven studio albums and played a major role in several of the biggest soundtracks of the ’90s while building her career in film. But her magnificent voice directly influenced Mariah Carey and Celine Dion in the ’90s, setting a template for virtually every major female R&B singer of the current generation in one way or another.
Above all her voice will be her legacy. “Her voice is a mammoth, coruscating cry,” wrote Rolling Stone in 2008, when naming her among the 100 greatest singers of all time. “Few vocalists could get away with opening a song with 45 unaccompanied seconds of singing, but Houston’s powerhouse version of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ is a tour-de-force.” Dubbed the Queen of Pop for her influence on adult-contemporary pop in the ’90s, she was one of those few singers who could build a tour on little more than her voice, not needing the trappings of a contemporary touring show. A pop diva in every sense of the word, when Whitney sang people listened. Even when recording something as traditional as our national anthem, she blew away the competition and proved that well-known melody could be as worthy of top ten status as any other song.
For most people sex is a privilege, not a right. There is an unfortunate minority for whom intercourse remains a distant hope, or worse, an impossible dream. Most of these people work in IT departments, and constitutionally probably only count as 3/5th of a person. So they can just toddle off and play with their Gameboys while the rest of us talk about contraception.
Don't Fence Me in
I started this column with the words that sex is a privilege, not a right. This is a true statement. Unless you are a woman who calls O.J. Simpson or Ike Turner your significant other, chances are you are free to have a headache any time a random (or not so random) guy starts a conversation with a lascivious smile and the words “How you do’in?” Conversely, there are very few guys who are innocently walking down the street when a gang of horny women rip the clothing from their body and force him to give up his fluids at gunpoint. Whether we have sex or not is a conscious choice, not a random event. So why the hell should the federal government force insurance companies to provide birth control?
Let’s start with this fact: thanks to a media that is about as honest and genuine as a father’s day card from the Menendez brothers, a lot of people have forgotten exactly what “Health Insurance” is. For those whose minds have been twisted like salt water taffy over the issue, it’s time to go back to the bedrock of the situation. Health insurance was invented to help people defer the cost of medical care and was offered as perk from employers who had to fiercely compete for good employees in the boom following World War II. It was never intended to be a government mandate that financially covered the voluntary buffoonery that people willingly engage in.
At its base, health insurance is meant to be a financial cushion against the really bad things that can happen to us during the course of life. Cancer happens to people. Nobody can say “I’m just not in the mood tonight” and the cancer will go away. Cancer isn’t a choice. It is a life threatening random event that can wipe out a lifetime of savings while trying to fight it off. I’m also sure nobody visits the Mustang Ranch and asks for the strep throat and salmonella package. But federal government sure as hell wants those who pay insurance premiums to cover the birth control expenses for what does happen between a worker at the famous ranch and one of their patrons.
Let’s just drop the silliness that this is a woman’s health issue. No woman ever uttered the words, “Gee, I better take my birth control pill before I get cancer.” Conversely, no man has ever worn a condom like a compression sock in order to prevent varicose veins on his willy. Sex is a voluntary activity, and contraception is the suggested safety equipment for those who want to play the recreational nookie game. From an intellectually honest standpoint mandating that insurance cover birth control it is no different than demanding that the insurance companies to pay for a football players shoulder pads and helmet, or a leather jacket for those who recreationally ride motorcycles.
How would you like to save time, prevent pointless arguments, and become a much better communicator? What if I tell you it is surprisingly easy to do this and that even better, you don’t need to learn any comebacks, put-downs, or clever sayings? What if all you have to do to master this extraordinary new communications skill is – drumroll, please: learn how to ignore comments.
Of course, it may sound counter-intuitive or perhaps even a little submissive. You may be thinking, “Geez, so you’re saying I should let people walk all over me? That’s just not my style, man!”
I used to think like that, too, which was really tough for me when I got on the Internet. Believe it or not, I used to be a little introverted and disliked conflict. So, the vicious, rough and tumble style of commenting that’s the rule of thumb online was not something I easily adapted to at first. I’d get upset when I was insulted. I was one of those people who’d go back and forth with someone 7-8 times in a thread. I’d spend a lot of time responding to dumb comments from anonymous people.
Then, I started blogging and as my traffic grew, more people started responding to what I wrote and emailing me. That was when it occurred to me that it made more sense to write a post for my entire audience to see than to respond in a comment section where only a sliver of the eyeballs reading my blog would catch it. As the numbers picked up, I formulated some general rules to determine when I’d respond to a comment or blog post about myself.
1) Is the criticism on point and worth responding to because it raised a good point?
2) Is the criticism from someone with a bigger audience than mine? Would I be “punching up”?
3) Could I make fun of the person criticizing me and entertain my audience?
If the criticism didn’t meet one of those standards, I just let it go…and guess what? It worked out really well.
After all, what difference does it make if Kilgore734 thinks you’re a show-off and hopes you’re hit by a bus on the way home; what difference does it make in your life? If your father or your boss or your girlfriend thought those things about you, it would be a big deal. But, if some random tool whom you don’t know, respect, or care about feels that way — who cares?
My Dad first gave me his yellow-paged copies of Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars series when I was in junior high. He’d read them when he was my age and now passed them on to me. I remember the joy of losing myself in the adventures of A Princess of Mars during a slow week of standardized testing.
Now as the movie prepares to launch on March 9 next month my main regret is that given that we now live in different states he and I won’t get to see it together. I’ll have to wait and just call him after we’ve both seen it so I can pick his brain about which details they got right and which plot changes he liked and disliked.
Speaking of news, you were a correspondent for MTV during the 1992 presidential election. What’s your take on US politics in 2012?
“I’m just hoping that whatever is in the White House next year is a Republican. I can’t bear to watch what’s happened to our great country. Everybody’s got their head in the sand. Everybody in the industry is like, ‘Oh, Obama’s doing such a great job…’ I don’t think so. Not from what I see.
“Looking at the Republican candidates, I’ve got to tell you, I was floored the other day to see that Mitt Romney’s five boys have a $100 million trust fund. Where does a guy make that much money? So there’s some questions there. And watching Newt Gingrich, I was pretty excited for a while, but now he’s just gone back to being that person that everybody said he was – that angry little man. I still like him, but I don’t think I’d vote for him.
“Ron Paul… you know, I heard somebody say he was like insecticide – 98 percent of it’s inert gases, but it’s the two percent that’s left that will kill you. What that means is that he’ll make total sense for a while, and then he’ll say something so way out that it negates everything else. I like the guy because he knows how to excite the youth of America and fill them in on some things. But when he says that we’re like the Taliban… I’m sorry, Congressman Paul, but I’m nothing like the Taliban.
“Earlier in the election, I was completely oblivious as to who Rick Santorum was, but when the dude went home to be with his daughter when she was sick, that was very commendable. Also, just watching how he hasn’t gotten into doing these horrible, horrible attack ads like Mitt Romney’s done against Newt Gingrich, and then the volume at which Newt has gone back at Romney… You know, I think Santorum has some presidential qualities, and I’m hoping that if it does come down to it, we’ll see a Republican in the White House… and that it’s Rick Santorum.”
Is there a Heavy Metal Social Conservative Voting Bloc somewhere out there in America? If so do please speak up in the comments section.
While the PC has quickly become the de facto home entertainment center for many, there are still moments – such as the Super Bowl or when it’s time to view Lawrence of Arabia or Star Wars on the big, big (home) screen – when sitting down, leaning back, and spacing out in front of a big-screen TV is a welcome change of pace.
LG’s model number 55LK520 55-Inch LCD HDTV produces a knockout 1080p picture. With three HDMI inputs, it’s possible to connect a satellite or digital set-top box, a Blu-Ray player, and an Internet device such as a Roku box. For the home theater industry’s equivalent of “legacy devices,” there are also component and composite inputs. (There’s no S-video connection, curiously. This may be the first video product I’ve purchased in 25 years without one.)
The LG 55LK520 lacks 3D, but I can’t say I’m enamored with that concept, particularly since it involves wearing ’50s-style 3D glasses over my own. And it lacks an Internet hook-up, but that’s OK as well. I’d rather plug-in a device of my own to connect to the Web. (Besides, my DirecTV receiver, Blu-Ray player, and Roku box all have various Web capabilities.)
The unit shares the same IR codes as the LG BD670 Blu-Ray player we reviewed last month; that unit’s remote is capable of performing the basic functions of this TV, though not vice-versa. It’s sort of academic though, as likely most will use some sort of universal remote, such as Logitech’s Harmony 900 or a similar device.
Initially, I was surprised by how “processed” some DirecTV HD programming looked on the 55LK520. Movies that were clearly shot on 35mm had an almost “live TV” sort of look, with little or no film grain visible. But you quickly become used to it. When I mentioned in my review of the Blu-Ray player last month that you can read the Winston logo printed on the band of Martin Sheen’s cigarettes in Apocalypse Now, or praised the details of a vintage Pimm’s Cup bottle label in the Blu-Ray edition of Boardwalk Empire, this was the TV I was viewing them on.
I had purchased the LG 55LK520 to replace an eight year old JVC rear-projection HD set, and immediately found that there was one feature on the older unit that I missed — the ability to zoom an 4X3 image to fill the screen. In contrast, unless I missed an option, the 55LK520 was only capable of black bars around a 4X3 image. If you watch a lot of older movies, or non-HD programming on cable or satellite, this might be something to keep in mind.
Also, for those who wish to place the LG 55LK520 on a tabletop (as I did, placing the unit on the stand in the middle of my home theater cabinets where my older — and much heavier rear projection once sat) my find that the base that the 55LK520 rests on feels a little on the flimsy side. It can do the job, but I wish had built with a more robust feel. Also, for those who placed their older rear projection sets with the screen flush with the edge of their supporting cabinet, the base causes the LG TV to be recessed about five inches in, which may require some adjustments if you’re planning to place the unit inside of a home theater cabinet. For those who wish to mount the LG 55LK520 on their wall, the rear of the set contains the usual VESA mount.
One of the handiest features on the back is a Toslink digital audio output. For those with limited digital audio inputs on their home theater receivers, the LG 55LK520 will output the audio of whatever device is currently displaying on the screen, thus simplifying use of the set with an A/V receiver, and reducing the number of digital audio inputs the A/V receiver needs for your various components. This also makes it easier to use the LG 55LK520 as a switcher for HDMI inputs, which is particularly useful if your A/V receiver has a few years on it, and lacks these connections.
Incidentally, this is as good a place as any for a friendly reminder, which may be old hat for some, but if not: if you’re doing your own installation, invest in a Brother P-Touch labeler or similar device and label your cables, putting the product the cable terminates in on the opposite end of the cable. Once you start building up a home theater with say, an A/V receiver, Blu-Ray player, Roku box, legacy equipment like a VCR, tape deck, CD player, etc, you risk finding yourself in a bewildering labyrinth of cables when you go to update your gear, or pull a device to send it to the repair shop. Having used masking tape, index file labels, and Crutchfield’s pre-printed cable labels, the tough vinyl P-Touch so far are the only labels that I’ve seen that don’t become brittle and risk falling off over time, but any label is better than none.
I enjoyed the last item on the list for obvious reasons:
1. Bloggers: How is there an entire burgeoning billion dollar industry of twenty-somethings who write crap on the Internet? I don’t understand it. A bunch of kids with no life experience write their views on the news of the day and world affairs and entertainment like it matters and you people eat it up? I have lifelong friends I have to ply with booze to get them to listen to me talk about anything for more than five minutes, and here you guys are, willfully clicking away. I can’t even look in the mirror. I was going to be a foreign correspondent! I’m getting a drink.
We 20-something, no life experience bloggers have prepackaged responses for these sentiments:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sucker for the “big three” awards shows — the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys. Even as a kid, I loved the competitive aspect of the awards, and I’m still attracted to the notion of different industries gathering to honor the best in their respective fields.
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Grammy Awards over the years. As a music guy, I love seeing my favorite artists compete, and enjoy trying to predict the winners. At the same time, there’s plenty to hate about the Grammys, and it’s usually enough for me to declare every year that I’ll never watch them again.
But, fool that I am, I watched the show again this year. Of course I was watching because I wanted to see Adele claim some hardware, which she did.
I also got to see tons of truly bizarre moments, like a DJ wearing a light-up mouse helmet, Nicki Minaj certainly offending both Catholics and lovers of good music, and some hipster who calls himself Bon Iver stealing the Best New Artist trophy from The Band Perry, who genuinely deserved the award.
This year’s Grammy broadcast managed to demonstrate everything that’s wrong with the awards show every year. Here are five reasons why I always say I’ll never watch the Grammys again.
5. CBS Shamelessly Uses The Awards To Promote Their Shows
Grammy host LL Cool J
For most of the past four decades, the Grammys have made their broadcast home on CBS, the masters of self-promotion. It never fails that CBS will feature stars of some of its shows as presenters, regardless of their connection to the awards show itself. Watch the show each year, and I guarantee that at least one presenter’s presence will baffle millions of viewers.
Patricia Arquette? Her connection to the Grammys: her sister was allegedly the inspiration for 1982’s Record of the Year, “Rosanna” by Toto. Yet she presented on the Grammys only because her series Medium was on CBS at the time.
Jennifer Love Hewitt? CBS probably tapped her to present an award because of all her hit singles like…never mind, I can’t think of any. The Ghost Whisperer was another CBS show, and she was the star.
That guy from The Mentalist? Nope, I’ve got nothing, except — you guessed it — another star of another show on CBS.
This year, after a few years of a host-free format, CBS made an intriguing choice for host — LL Cool J. He’s a pioneer in the hip-hop field, did a fine job hosting the show, but I can’t help but think that the network chose him largely because he appears on NCIS: Los Angeles every week.
Other CBS stars like Pauley Perrette, Taraji P. Henson, and Neil Patrick Harris appeared on the Grammys as well, and though all three have musical backgrounds, chances are they wouldn’t have appeared on the show if it had aired on another network.
It’s a shame that a network would use what should be a prestigious awards show as a platform for plugging their programming, but CBS has been doing it for years. I fully expect it to continue this year.
Is it wrong to hope that this movie turns out to be good? Is it wrong to anticipate this film four months ahead of its June release? If it’s wrong…
Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sounds like a ridiculous spoof but it wasn’t, really. It was a straightforward rendering of an unambiguously heroic figure as a man with a secret life. But unlike most secret life takes, this secret life of Abe Lincoln doesn’t tear him down. It makes him even more of a giant. Not only is Abraham Lincoln a self-made man, a thinker far ahead of his time and an American leader without peer, Lincoln secretly spent his entire life hunting down and killing vampires with his trusty axe. The novel weaves major events of Lincoln’s real life — the death of his mother, the visit to antebellum Louisiana that turned him forever against slavery, his political career and the Civil War — into the fictional story of vampires invading young America from their home in Europe. Slavery provides them their ideal world; they can set themselves up among the plantations in the South and use the slave culture to serve themselves an infinite feast. Abe Lincoln aims to stop them.
The whole premise of our 16th president as strapping slayer of immortal fanged monsters shouldn’t work at all, but in the novel it does work, thanks to solid writing and a serious tone that captures the melancholia of 19th century America and Lincoln’s life in particular. It works as alt history, Gothic fiction and action horror. It keeps the good guys good and the bad guys bad; there are no tame prettyboy Twilight vampires here. This Abe Lincoln might make Chuck Norris think twice before taking him on. The novel is a dark, fun page-turner, moreso if you’ve studied Lincoln’s life in any detail. Hopefully Tim Burton’s movie can live up to the book.
ITV Studios America and HDFILMS announced plans for a reimagining of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s famed franchise of the 1970s, then called Space: 1999. The news comes months after Fox and producer Seth MacFarlane announced they would be reviving Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, a 1980s miniseries from Carl Sagan.
“Science fiction is a powerful format capable of visualizing the human condition in thought-provoking ways,” said HDFilms president Jace Hall, who will spearhead the effort and serve as an executive producer. The project is in the development phase and has yet to be shopped to networks.
Be afraid. Be very afraid:
The original Space: 1999 was first conceived as a sequel to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s wildly uneven, but occasionally pretty cool UFO series from 1970. Apparently, the scenes set on UFO’s moonbase had the best test results from focus groups, and as a result, the Andersons decided to set their next TV series entirely on the moon — but floating freely in space so that it could visit other planets, a la Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. Never mind the physics of a moon that moved faster than light so that it could arrive at a new planet each week, yet slow enough so that it could launch its exploratory “Eagle” spacecraft, and never get permanently caught in the gravity field of the planet of the week. The result was a show with a not-bad theme song, nice 2001-inspired production design, and pretty good special effects for the pre-Star Wars-era that was completely undermined by a ridiculously overloaded premise. According to Wikipedia, “Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were surprised and disappointed that the public (and critics) never granted them the suspension of disbelief given to other science-fiction programmes.”
There aren’t ropes strong enough to suspend that amount of disbelief. No wonder the show sank.
Star Trek: The Next Generation and its spin-offs proved that it was possible to successfully update an older sci-fi TV series, and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica certainly had its fans. But a reworked Space: 1999 might be going to the gravity well once too often.
Were you a fan of the old series? And would you tune in for a remake?
Like most of America, I’ve spent plenty of time badmouthing the Grammys over the past few years without pausing to reflect much on the fact that I rarely watch the show. So this year would have to be different. The wife and I sat down and braved the three-plus hour spectacle to see if Adele could single-handedly save a moribund award show on sheer moxie alone, even while performing for the first time since undergoing vocal chord surgery. Hey, she’s “saved” the record industry with her album 21, hasn’t she? Why should the Grammys be different?
Here are five things which we learned in abundance from this year’s telecast (not counting the fact that the show could have easily been trimmed by an hour without missing a beat).
#5. Adele has to be the most unassuming superstar in years.
Adele appearing on 60 Minutes prior to the Grammy telecast.
She still sees herself as an underdog, despite having sold three times as many albums last year as her next closest competitor. And she proved that her voice is truly enough when she had the balls to come out tonight and make her first performance since her vocal chord surgeries take place in front of millions. More important, she knocked the ball out of the park, laying bare a powerhouse performance at the heart of the show which was only approached in quality by the Whitney Houston tribute later in the hour by Jennifer Hudson. Adele was by far the biggest winner of the night in more ways than awards can quantify. And if there’s much market she hasn’t saturated with 21 prior to the show, it’s only clearer now that once she actually gets to hit the road and tour to support it, the album’s only going to get bigger.
Has anyone out there seen this PSA from actress Katherine Heigl who is launching the “I hate balls” campaign to encourage people to neuter their pets. The campaign also has a website where one can donate $5.00 by texting the word “snip” to a phone number. The PSA is described at the Daily News as follows:
The PSA delivers a humorous take on a very serious issue and features one of Heigl’s furry friends, as well as a brief cameo by her husband, musician Josh Kelley.
“Unfortunately I can’t cut the nuts off human men — yet,” Heigl, 33, quips in the video. “So I’ve dedicated my time to the neutering of dogs because that’s legal.”
The animal-loving actress said she hopes the PSA’s unconventional approach will help spread the message about spaying and neutering.
“Launching this campaign is hopefully the type of out-of-the-box thinking we need to heighten awareness of the devastating problem, and sound the alarm that we can save many lives by simply spaying/neutering pets. Hate balls, fix pets, save lives. It’s just that simple,” she said in a statement.
Why does this campaign support misandry to make a point about neutering pets? The actress does a little laugh in the commercial, telling people she is not serious, but frankly, the only people who would find this funny are man-hating women and the Uncle Tims who support them (of which there are many) like her already neutered husband who is in the PSA retrieving what are left of his balls for the night. Now, that looks pretty appropriate. I would say that, like the neutered dog on Heigl’s lap, she keeps her husband on a pretty short leash.
What do you think of the PSA? Is it funny, irrelevant or just plain misandric, or something else?
I spent the morninig laughing and being intrigued by a book called Worthless: The Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major by a guy named Aaron Clarey. On the back of the book is picture that (I assume) is Clarey louging on what looks like the beach with an Army t-shirt on smoking a big cigar. This is the guy who is going to give you or your kid some good practical advice on how to pick a major in college.
The book takes aim at “Big Education” and in non-PC terms lets the reader know what is happening inside higher ed. Clarey has a wicked sense of humor and his graphs and charts just add to the fun. There is one that shows the breakdown of what he calls “worthless degrees.” “Nearly 70% of worthless degrees are awarded to women” he states along with a chart showing the breakdown of 68% of women to 32% of males who get these worthless degrees. Worthless degrees include those such as Women’s studies, sociology, philosophy, psychology, education and the liberal arts and humanities. In other words, those majors that avoid math.
It does seem to me at times that colleges are becoming finishing schools for women. I wonder if this is why many men avoid them?
Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
News of Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night – the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday’s ceremony. Houston’s longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward. . . .She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.
But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.
When I first started patronizing Costco, lo these many years ago, I stayed away from Kirkland products, figuring they were cheesy. No longer. It’s pretty obvious that many of them are name brands under the Kirkland label. Great deals.
UPDATE: Cocktail hour in the City of Angels and I toasted the sad end of Whitney Houston in a comparison test of the Kirkland Mystery Bourbon and Maker’s Mark, both over rocks. The Kirkland, at 51.5% alcohol, was definitely stronger and, if pressed, I would have to give my nod to the Maker’s Mark, which has been my bourbon-of-choice for some time. Nevertheless, I liked the Kirkland (probably some variant of Knob’s Creek) and, for the price, it’s not to be sneezed at. In fact, I’m about to pour a second round. Over to you, Steve.
After leading the twisted sort of fairytale that was Hanna, young actress Saoirse Ronan will lead yet another drastically different variation on a classic story in what should be the last adaptation of Snow White we’ll need for at least a decade. Variety reports Ronan has been tapped to lead Order of Seven, the Kung Fu centric telling of the tale that follows Olivia Sinclair, a British expatriate in 19th century Hong Kong, who seeks the protection of centuries old warriors, now a jaded group of outlaws (in place of the usual dwarves). After the reemergence of an ancient evil empress, Sinclair then helps the warriors reclaim their destiny.
Sounds great to me. In last year’s HannahRonan played a genetically-modified tiny blond killing machine, trained by her father (Eric Bana):
Ronan’s likable protagonist, strong supporting performances from Bana and Cate Blanchett, a pumping techno score from the Chemical Brothers, and Joe Wright’s energetic action sequences make for one of 2011′s hidden gems.
The 17-year-old Ronan (born in 1994) and especially the overachieving Hannah character from the film relate to the subject of my article last week on the Hidden Power of Millennial Women.
Despite the company’s financial difficulties, and analyst recommendations to shut off nonessential parts of the business, this is a headline we didn’t think we’d ever be posting. Kodak – a name that’s been synonymous with cameras as far back as we can remember – is closing the doors on its camera business.
How many of us grew up with Kodak cameras in our hands? To the coming generation Instamatic will be nothing more than an iPhone app. Kodak, clueless for too many years, became an also-ran in the digital age. Thanks for the memories….
Now everything is starting to come into clarity. Today is a bit like the day we learn that Santa Claus is your parents, socialism stops working when rich people’s money runs out, and a BA qualifies you for a $10 entry-level job that you could’ve gotten just out of high school.
As all the digital wounds should be healed by now from Kathy Shaidle’s venemous anti-Star Wars, anti-geek broadside, let us consider the newest affront to Nerd Dogma, this time courtesy of George Lucas himself. This new insult only confirms the necessity of publishing Shaidle’s column and moving on to greener pastures in the geek culture ecosystem. Via Hot Airand Ace, we learn today that we are all stupid for thinking that Han Solo would shoot Greedo rather than die in Jabba’s rancor pit. The truth for all of us morons in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
THR: People can get fanatical about the movies — how does that make you feel? The puppet vs. CGI Yoda ruckus, and the who-shot-first, Han Solo or Greedo furor come to mind.
Lucas: Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.
It’s the same thing with Yoda. We tried to do Yoda in CGI in Episode I, but we just couldn’t get it done in time. We couldn’t get the technology to work, so we had to use the puppet, but the puppet really wasn’t as good as the CGI. So when we did the reissue, we had to put the CGI back in, which was what it was meant to be.
When you have a gun pointed in your face and you’re clever enough to quietly draw your own pistol and blast the evil person threatening you… you are not a “cold-blooded killer.”
Ace will have none of this:
My, you have to be sitz-tinkler to get all worried about the message you’re sending by having Han “gun Greedo down” like a “cold-blooded murderer.”
For one thing, you know, Greedo had a gun on him, and announced, clearly, that he intended to kill Han in the next few seconds.
This seems “bad ass” only because of silly movies in the fifties and stuff when singing cowboys always let the bad guy have the first shot. That continued for decades.
It became accepted that Good Guys Always Let the Bad Guys Shoot First. So that in a movie like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, it seemed cold-blooded that Clint Eastwood would whistle for some Bad Guy’s attention, then kill them before they had time to reach for their guns.
But it was never really “cold-blooded.” Given the context of the fictional scenarios this was occurring in — these guys were trying to kill the main characters. It wasn’t murder. It was just the good guys deciding they’re not going to be Total Saps and give away a crucial advantage in a gunfight.
Here’s the medicine we all need to swallow: as children we were more grown up than George Lucas is now as an adult. Han Solo’s entire character rested on what we saw in that early scene in the film. In shooting first Han Solo was a role model doing what any Real Man was supposed to do. Now we know that character only existed in our imaginations, not his creator’s. And that George Lucas regards most of his fans as amoral neanderthals.
David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media and writes a post each day on news and politics at PJ Tatler and culture and entertainment at PJ Lifestyle. He can be contacted with feedback and story tips at DaveSwindlePJM[@]gmail.com and on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He enforces commenting guidelines on his posts — rude, off topic and ad hominem comments will be deleted. (Unless they are particularly well-written and entertaining.)
I was really excited about the new HBO show Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman and created by the brilliant Deadwood scribe David Milch.
But since the show’s debut I’ve been mostly quiet about it, trying to figure out how best to articulate my objections to the series premiere.
I knew of course the show would be dark and feature plenty of evil people doing evil things.Deadwoodis filled with horrific scenes and degrading circumstances. But Milch painted his canvas with many colors. Yes, there were some cruel people in Deadwood, but individuals at least struggled with moral questions. Good people did bad things, bad people sometimes redeemed themselves, and by season 3 the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend.
But with Luck Milch seems to have limited himself to varying shades of black. Watching the first episode ALL of the characters struck me as unlikable and too broken to inspire me to spend time with them in their seedy world. Only in the glorious racing of the horses did a sense of grace and beauty brighten the degenerate world of compulsive gamblers and career criminals.
And then what do they do? At the end of the pilot a horse breaks its leg on camera and has to be put down.
Luck production chiefs rescinded its American Humane Association stamp of approval – which certifies no animals were harmed during the making of the programme – following the show’s pilot episode after a horse was euthanized on location.
Prior to filming, network executives at HBO assured officials at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that experts would be on hand to ensure all “necessary safety procedures” were in place, however reports of a second fatality have again prompted activists to worry.
I’m not an animal rights fanatic or anything. PETA is a terrible, hypocritical Marxist organization as Penn and Teller demonstrated in this legendary episode of Bullsh*t (language warning):
But this news now casts even greater darkness over the show.