On March 2, we witnessed the spectacle and excitement of the Academy Awards. Hollywood honored its brightest and best in just about every single category. However, the Academy has ignored one crucial part of the industry – stunt performers and coordinators.
In the 86 years of the Academy Awards, only one stunt actor has received an honor. The late former stuntman Hal Needham, writer-director of such films as Smokey & The Bandit, received an honorary Oscar in 2013, but apart from Needham, the Oscars have been silent when it comes to the stunt community, despite its importance to the film industry at large. One stunt performer is working to remedy the omission.
Jack Gill, who has stunt doubled for [Jason] Statham in Death Race as well as the late Paul Walker in the Fast and Furious films, has led the charge for stunt coordinators to receive Oscar recognition for the past 23 years. He has generated support from such leading filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron and, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Ken Howard and former SAG President Melissa Gilbert (who wrote letters to AMPAS on the stunt actors’ behalf but were ignored.) Gill even filed a petition with signatures from award winning actors, directors and producers who believed in the cause.
It “fell on deaf ears. The (previous AMPAS regime) said these signatures were probably agreed to as a courtesy and not really heartfelt,” Gill recalls. “The entire industry is behind us but the Academy is looking to omit categories, not add. There are stunt coordinators who are Academy members and we currently have 27 members who have been helping me to establish a category for stunt coordinators. We do not have a ‘branch.’ Establishing that branch and award category is the sticking point.”
When asked if AMPAS would consider a change of heart, a spokesperson said: “Stunt coordinators play an important role in many movie productions and the Academy currently honors those at the very top of their craft by inviting them to become Academy members.”
The day after that statement was made, AMPAS’ President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, COO Ric Robertson and Director of Membership Kimberly Roush met privately with Gill. He called the new regime “enlightening.”
Under the new Academy administration, stunt performers can add up to 13 new members a year. Once sixty stunt performers become Academy members, they can petition AMPAS for a stunt branch, which will put the stunt community one step closer to establishing the award they so deserve.
Morning show anchors at local news affiliates have an unenviable job, especially when they have to interview oddball guests. One of those guests making the rounds after Thanksgiving was Chef Keith Guerke, plugging his cookbook Leftovers Right: Making A Winner Out Of Last Night’s Dinner.
The problem is, Keith Guerke isn’t a chef – or a real person, for that matter, and his book doesn’t exist either. The stunt sprung from the minds of comedians Nick Preuher and Joe Pickett and their troupe, the Found Footage Festival. Preuher appeared on local news shows in Illinois and Wisconsin, promoting disgusting recipes with bogus statistics and made up anecdotes. He bumbled through his presentations and even talked one anchor into beatboxing while he rapped.
The results are hilarious. Sit back and enjoy, as these poor hosts gamely go along with Chef Keith and his horrid recipes.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been a sucker for the big awards shows: the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Emmys. Even when I haven’t seen the movies or shows or listened to the albums and songs receiving awards, I still find myself fascinated by the peculiar celebratory atmosphere of awards night. While I’ve lamented in the past that the awards shows – particularly the Grammys – lack the dignity they once possessed, I can usually count on the Oscars to capture the glamor of old Hollywood. I have to admit: I don’t care about what people are wearing or about who wins — I just enjoy the competition and the tradition that has carried on for 86 years.
Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was no exception. The film industry turned out in all its finery to honor the best of 2013. The show provided moments both wacky and touching, and the telecast included plenty of high and low points. From host Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity pizza order (complete with $1,000 tip), to John Travolta’s mangling of Idina Menzel’s name, to Pink’s powerful rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” the Oscars didn’t disappoint (unless you’re a fan of Saving Mr. Banks, in which case the nominations disappointed). I walked away from the 86th annual Academy Awards with a few surprising observations. Allow me to share them with you.
The scientific advancements we’ve seen the last few years stagger the imagination. Among these revolutions in the medical realm is the hair transplant. But, lest you think hair transplants are only for the guys you see on local television ads with a sad visage in a “before” image and a convertible and a hot babe in the “after” shot, one group of guys is taking advantage of hair transplant technology in a new way. The latest trend in the hipster world is the beard transplant:
Stubble-challenged guys are forking over up to $8,500 for the beard-boosting procedure, which has spiked in popularity in recent months, plastic surgeons told The Post.
“Brooklyn is probably the nucleus of the trend, it’s the hipster ‘look’ guys want. If you have a spotty beard, and you let it grow out, it looks sloppy, ” said Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a Midtown-based plastic surgeon.
“[Clients] want full beards because it’s a masculine look. Beards are an important male identifier,” he added.
I guess these hipster guys need a “male identifier” to counter the decidedly non-masculine look of the deep v-neck t-shirts and skinny jeans rolled up too high. In a lovely bit of irony, some hipsters make use of the transplants to look older:
One happy patient is Danny, 27, whose beard used to be so patchy, he was forced to “fill it in” with an eyebrow pencil, he said.
Two years ago, he paid $8,500 for the surgery, which he considers a fashion statement.
“I have a baby face but now I’m able to look older. My fashion statement is a little edgy, and I do like the ‘rugged look,’” he said.
He added, “It’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.”
While others go for the procedure to look younger:
A 39-year-old New Yorker, who works in catering industry, got a beard transplant to make him feel younger, DNAinfo.com reported.
“I had contemplated [getting a beard transplant] for approximately eight months,” he said, “Knowing the results, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time deciding,” he said.
$8,500 for facial hair. Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.
(h/t to Kathy Shaidle)
Over the weekend, Disney Parks announced a ticket price increase for Walt Disney World, effective this week. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Disney’s Magic Kingdom guests will have to fork over a few extra dollars for single-day park admission.
The tickets will cost $99 for adults and children 10 and up.
This $4 price hike keeps Magic Kingdom the most expensive Disney park.
A one-day ticket for Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will go from $90 to $94.
“Our pricing reflects the high quality and breadth of experiences we offer and our ongoing commitment to investing in our parks,” Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius said Saturday. “We offer a variety of ticket options that provide a great value, and find that most guests select multi-day tickets that offer additional savings.”
This increase was the second in less than a year. The company did not announce a hike in prices for Disneyland on Saturday, but insiders expect an increase in the not too distant future.
Many of the Disney fans I’ve spoken with bristled at the higher prices, but it’s worth noting that purchasing multi-day ticket packages can ease the blow a little – and the no expiration option, though expensive, allows guests to save tickets for years at a time.
Over at Theme Park Insider, Robert Niles put the price hike in perspective:
As long as more people keep going to the parks each year, theme parks will keep increasing their prices. Disney World’s attendance is up, so it’s just supply-and-demand for Disney to raise its prices. If you think Disney World’s gotten too expensive, don’t bother complaining. Disney’s looking at attendance numbers when setting prices, not people moaning online.
The fact of the matter is that dyed-in-the-wool Disney fans and other guests who really want to visit Walt Disney World will suck it up and pay the higher ticket prices. Even with the increased admission, Disney World still provides a tremendous value.
Last summer a friend of mine shared with me an article in which writer Jon Negroni explained his insane ideas regarding the connections between the films in the Pixar canon. I analyzed it and shared it here at PJ Lifestyle.
Well, it just so happens that Negroni is back – this time he has discovered the true identity of Andy’s mom in the Toy Story films. And this theory just might make some sense.
Negroni’s idea centers around Andy’s cowboy hat, which looks an awful lot like Woody’s hat, with one exception:
Notice anything weird about the hat? It looks nothing like the hat worn by his favorite toy, Woody. Why wouldn’t Andy wear a hat that was brown?
He makes the observation that we’ve seen the hat in one other place: Toy Story 2. Cowgirl Jessie wears an almost identical hat. The only difference? A white band above the brim. Jessie’s previous owner, Emily, had a similar, child-sized hat.
Emily, Jessie’s previous owner, wears that hat throughout the “When She Loved Me” sequence in Toy Story 2. The sequence clearly takes place in the 60s and 70s, as evidenced by the decoration and qualities of Emily’s things.
Negroni notes that, though Andy’s hat lacks the white band, there is a faded area on the hat exactly where a similar band could have been.
Are you tracking with me here? The perceptive Negroni notes another fascinating link between the first two films. Emily, Jessie’s first owner, looks an awful lot like a younger version of – you guessed it – Andy’s mom!
Two winter storms in a three week period blanketed the South in snow and ice. Naturally, the Left couldn’t resist the chance to link these winter storms to “climate change.” Qualified scientists like Bette Midler and Politico‘s Roger Simon - not to be confused with PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon - have tried to tie this winter’s weather to an assault on Mother Earth at the hands of capitalism. (News flash: the only climate change causing these storms was the change from fall to winter.) One climate scientist with his fingers on the pulse of reality is fighting back against the climate change madness, and he’s stepping up his game.
Dr. Roy Spencer is one of the most renowned climatologists in the United States. His work for NASA and the University of Alabama at Huntsville over the past three decades has proven valuable to the scientific community. Most importantly, Spencer has become a leading voice against the fallacy of manmade global warming.
Spencer can barely contain his anger against the vitriolic language of the environmental movement – particularly the use of the word “deniers” to describe those of us who do not subscribe to the dangerous, radical, and altogether false premise that civilization and capitalism cause global warming. And he has declared that it’s time to fight back, using their own metaphor against them:
They indirectly equate (1) the skeptics’ view that global warming is not necessarily all manmade nor a serious problem, with (2) the denial that the Nazi’s extermination of millions of Jews ever happened.
Too many of us for too long have ignored the repulsive, extremist nature of the comparison. It’s time to push back.
I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.
In an era where problems abound – issues like the threat of a nuclear Iran, runaway federal spending, and an overreaching executive branch – it’s important to focus on the most urgent crises facing this country: a potential nationwide clown shortage! Fortunately, the New York Daily News is on top of it for all of us in this exclusive report:
As the “Greatest Show on Earth” returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.
Membership at the country’s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.
“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”
Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.
Of course the clowning industry (and I can’t believe I just used that phrase) knows the solution to their problem – getting more kids and teens to consider clowning as a career.
“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” said Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier, who said most of her members are over 40.
Kohlberger said that it’s difficult getting younger people who develop an early interest in the many facets of clowning to stick with it on the professional level.
“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he said. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”
Cyrus Zavieh, the president of New York Clown Alley, a group that boasts 45 members across the New York area, said clowns can pull in up to $300 for a birthday party — but that’s hardly a financial incentive for many young people.
“American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether,” said Zavieh, 44, who has worked under the moniker Cido for nearly two decades.
“They’re thinking about everything other than clowning.”
It’s up to this generation of parents to reverse this alarming trend. Instead of encouraging your sons and daughters to become doctors or lawyers or grooming them to carry on the family business, why not gently nudge them toward the noble art of clowning? We know from the clowning associations that it’s a challenging, multi-faceted, and rewarding career. Think about the joy you’d have as a parent watching your child entertaining thousands at The Greatest Show on Earth! Or imagine your pride as the clown you raised makes a little one scream and cower in fear.
None of us want to have to say one day in the future, “Remember clowns?” Don’t let these delightful entertainers become extinct. Don’t let clowning go the way of the Victrola or the black and white console television. Now is the time to ensure the future of clowning for future generations. For the children.
Unless clowns creep you or your kids out. In that case, never mind.
No one in the entertainment industry bears the brunt of ire like Disney. For decades, Walt Disney the man and the company he founded have taken hits from critics, reporters, and historians. On far too many occasions Disney has come up against agents of disinformation trying to tarnish its founder, and the company at large finds itself the target of media hatred. From the antics of its former child stars – as if the studio could be responsible for their personal behavior – to the recent attempts to deface Walt Disney that seem to come from out of nowhere, members of the media try to attach any scandal they can to Disney, manufacturing a type of guilt by association.
Two recent stories in the UK’s Daily Mail signal this trend. In one article, a trio of would be child molesters work for Walt Disney World, while in the other, a Disney voice actor displays his anti-Israel hatred for the world to see. Disney has no direct involvement in either case, yet the authors of both pieces go out of their way to make the Disney connection in the headlines and in opening paragraphs.
Disney fired the Arabic voice of Donald Duck after he published an anti-Israel tweet:
Disney has dropped the voice of Donald Duck in the Middle East after he said Israel should be demolished.
Wael Mansour no longer works for the global corporation – whose founder Walt Disney was famously accused of being racist and anti-semitic – after he tweeted: ‘I truly wish #Israel is demolished, I hate Zionism, I have so much hate inside me with every single child they murder or land they seize’.
He insisted his message was ‘anti-Zionist‘, claiming Israelis were ‘just a bunch of Polish / Ethiopian immigrants roughly 70 years old‘.
Note the dig at Walt in the second paragraph there – more on that later. Mansour sent the initial tweet in August of 2013, and he announced his firing earlier this month, also via Twitter.
He told his 5,000 Twitter followers: ‘Disney decided I am no longer the official voice of Donald Duck in it’s middle-east dubbed cartoons because of an anti Zionism tweet. Proud!’
His total has since rocketed to 30,000 followers.
Sometimes musicians make decisions that seem to run counter to rock and roll. Björn Ulvaeus, one of the masterminds behind the ’70s pop group ABBA, has revealed in a forthcoming book that their over-the-top fashion choices were not as much about looks as one might believe.
The glittering hotpants, sequined jumpsuits and platform heels that Abba wore at the peak of their fame were designed not just for the four band members to stand out – but also for tax efficiency, according to claims over the weekend.
Reflecting on the group’s sartorial record in a new book, Björn Ulvaeus said: “In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were.”
And the reason for their bold fashion choices lay not just in the pop glamour of the late 70s and early 80s, but also in the Swedish tax code.
According to Abba: The Official Photo Book, published to mark 40 years since they won Eurovision with Waterloo, the band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax – so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.
Complaining about taxes is as much a part of rock as partying and heartache – from the Beatles’ anthem “Taxman” to Adele’s rants about tax rates in the UK, musical artists have made public their feelings about paying high taxes for years. Ulvaeus’ admission ups the ante in a certain sense. Who knows? Maybe we’ll start to hear more admissions from musicians on what they’ve done to claim deductions and find loopholes. I guess in some ways rock stars are just like the rest of us.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2011. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Wait… What’s a 2011 list doing in a 2013 compilation the sensible person asks? My excuse: this article is one of PJ Lifestyle’s biggest hits, in 2013 drawing more readers than many new lists published that year. It’s one of Chris Queen’s first pieces that demonstrated he’d do a fantastic job on the Disney beat for PJ Lifestyle. I’ve given it a a face-lift with some new images for the age of Instagram… Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months.
I’m a major Disney fan — I grew up on Disney, and it has been a key influence throughout my life. From films to music to television series there’s always been some type of Disney entertainment playing in the background. I can’t think of a period in my life without Disney.
Growing up in a family that’s nutty for Disney, Walt Disney World has always been our favorite vacation destination. My parents honeymooned there and they first took me as an infant. By my count, I’ve been to Walt Disney World 25 times, though others in my family think I may have been more times. Since my nieces were born, we’ve tried to make our pilgrimages at least once a year.
I love planning our trips to Walt Disney World almost as much as I love going there. Planning helps us build anticipation and makes our trips that much sweeter. There’s no greater excitement than the expectancy that comes with a Walt Disney World trip.
My whole family have become experts for our friends and acquaintances when it comes to Walt Disney World. People constantly ask us for tips and trip-planning advice. In fact, my sister and I have talked about opening a travel agency specializing in Disney trips.
So without further ado, here’s a list of ten essential Walt Disney World experiences. If you’ve never been or if you haven’t been in a long time, hopefully these tips will help you plan and know what to expect. If you’ve been many times like me, maybe this list can inspire some good-natured debate about what’s best at Walt Disney World.
Next: Heaven for the Disney collector…
As someone who has traveled to Walt Disney World more times than I can count, I’ve seen attractions come and go. Disney closes and changes attractions for many different reasons – some rides become outdated, while others diminish in popularity or become too difficult or expensive to maintain. Other attractions go to make way for new ideas.
The Disney Dining site (a terrific site fill of great tips and fun list posts) recently produced their list of ten Walt Disney World attractions they wish were still around. While I agree with the spirit of their list, I didn’t agree with the placement of some of the attractions on the list, so I gave in to the temptation to create my own list.
Many of these selections stem from sheer nostalgic value, but I really do miss these rides. If you think of other attractions that you think should be on this list, feel free to share in the comments section below.
5. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1971-1994)
The submarine ride 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea captured my imagination as a kid. In typical Disney fashion, the attraction was set up to immerse guests in believing they were in the depths of the ocean even though they were only a few feet underwater. Disney closed the submarine ride in 1994, but they didn’t fill in the lagoon for a few years. Part of New Fantasyland sits in that space now, so I suppose it’s a worthwhile tradeoff all these years later.
Looks like Paula Deen is bouncing back from last year’s controversy. The beleaguered celebrity chef seems to have overcome the accusations of racism that a former employee leveled at her in a lawsuit last summer. Deen’s new project, Paula Deen Ventures, has picked up an investment payday to the tune of at least $75 million.
The money came from private equity firm Najafi Cos., based in Phoenix. A representative from Paula Deen Ventures says the company is currently speaking with several “TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners,” though curiously, Food Network is not one of them.
After a year in which she lost sponsors left and right, this new start is good new for Deen. Her fan support has barely wavered, especially in the South, where her Savannah, Georgia, restaurant, The Lady & Sons, continues to experience long lines and waits. Deen is aware of the groundswell of approval from her longtime fans.
She said she draws confidence from the “hundreds of thousands of folks who signed up on Facebook’s ‘We Support Paula Deen’ page,” adding that “hundreds of thousands of my fans sent me messages of love and support.”
Will this new start mean more success for Paula Deen? Anyone who has heard her story knows better than to count her out.
I have three nieces – ages eight, six, and four. Just like with the rest of our family, Disney plays a huge part in the girls’ lives. The girls love the Disney Princesses, and they want to emulate them. They dress like their favorite princesses, draw pictures of them, and pretend to be them. And I’m totally OK with it.
The Disney princesses have come under fire a lot lately, usually from feminist sources. One Canadian photographer composed a series of photos depicting the princesses in a cynical, despairing light, while another encourages moms to “set aside the…Disney Princesses” and dress their daughters as “inspirational” women (like Coco Chanel?).
Unlike these critics, I think the Disney Princesses are great role models for the moral values they teach, and I’m not alone. I recently stumbled on an article Mark Tapson wrote over at Acculturated back in October. In it, he took the words right out of my mouth:
Militant feminism has conditioned parents to reel in horror from the notion that their girls should aspire to be nothing more than fairy-tale damsels in distress, hoping for knights in shining armor to whisk them away from their Cinderella-like drudgery and live happily ever after in ball gowns at the royal castle. But this attitude stems from an unfortunate misperception about the Disney princesses, one that parents would do well to reconsider.
This isn’t the 1950s; American girls now grow up under the assumption that they can be whatever they aspire to. They don’t lack for role models in any profession one can name.
The 2014 Chicago Auto Show offers the largest selection of production and concept vehicles of any auto show in the country. Like every other auto maker, Ford is serving up some exciting vehicles, including a reimagined 2015 F-150. But the absolute coolest truck at Ford’s show space in Chicago is bound to bring out the little boy in all of us guys: the Ford Tonka F-150.
Based on an F-150 Lariat powered by a 5.0-liter V8, it gets mechanical upgrades that include a six-inch Pro-Comp lift kit, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a Quiet Tone exhaust system. That’s all well and good, but this truck is all about the style, and it has plenty of that.
It features chunky new bumpers, side cladding, step bars, and a redesigned tailgate all embossed with the Tonka logo; stainless steel billet steel inserts on the grille openings; fender vents; and to top it all off a bulging ram-air hood that’s just short of being cartoony. More Tonka logos are applied to the interior, and the bed is finished with a hard tonneau cover and heavy-duty carpeting.
The Tonka F-150 is available in any color as long as it’s yellow, because anything else would just be wrong. Prices vary by participating dealer, but the conversion listed on the show truck is $22,282 on top of the $50,078 truck it’s built on for a grand total of $72,360.
Ford is collaborating with Tuscany Motors to produce a limited run of 500 Tonka F-150s. The companies produced a handful of the trucks in 2013, and the response to them led to this year’s new run. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but if you can afford to relive your childhood in the coolest possible way, wouldn’t you?
Leave it to Disney to find the coolest way to promote one of its Oscar-nominated films. The studio recently hosted an exclusive evening at a Bel Air jazz club in which the cast of the animated megahit Frozen performed songs from the movie while the composer of the film’s score conducted a small contingent of musicians.
“Apparently Disney didn’t realize they have a concert (hall) named after them so we’re here at this Bat Mitzvah venue,” joked Josh Gad as he kicked off an evening in which the cast of Disney’s Oscar-nominated “Frozen” performed songs from the animated hit live inside Bel Air’s’ Vibrato Grill on Sunday night.
The tribute to the songs and score from the film, which has passed the $900 million mark at the global box office, included Glad performing “In Summer,” while Menzel ended the evening with the Oscar-nominated “Let It Go.”
Kristen Bell, in particular impressed the small gathering with her live performance of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” during which she also sang the younger versions of her character Anna from the film, sung by others on the film’s soundtrack.
Bell was elated on stage to have been able to work on “Frozen” and become a Disney princess, a dream of hers since she was five years old.
Attending the event were “Frozen” co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, the film’s songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar president Ed Catmull, and thesps Darren Criss, Jane Lynch and Ariel Winter.
With Frozen raking in major box office and garnering two Academy Award nominations (Best Animated Feature and Best Song for “Let It Go”), the studio billed the evening as a “love letter” to those who worked on the production. One could also see it as a test run for a forthcoming stage production, which is in the works. The timing couldn’t be more fortuitous, as Hollywood is in the height of Oscar campaigning season. Did the tactic turn the heads of Academy voters? We’ll have to see.
Gainesville, Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta, has earned the reputation as the “Poultry Capital of the World.” Thousands of chickens make their way through Gainesville on their way to and from the processing plants throughout Northeast Georgia. With so many chickens in transit, there was bound to be an accident involving a chicken truck at some point. On January 27, a truck carrying live chickens overturned on a highway in Gainesville.
When humans die in automobile accidents, we often see makeshift memorials at the crash site. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has begun placing state-approved memorials at sites for a $100 fee at the request of family members. PETA has stepped in, petitioning GDOT for a memorial to the chickens killed in the January 27 crash.
The drivers of the chicken truck and the other vehicle involved were not seriously injured in the predawn crash on U.S. 129 near Gainesville, but “dozens” of the truck’s cargo were apparently not so fortunate, according to the local PETA member who filed the request for a “giant tombstone” to be erected in memory of the chickens.
“Although a relative of the deceased is usually required to fulfill requests for roadside memorials, I hope you will allow a concerned citizen such as me to suffice in this case,” Sarah Segal of Atlanta wrote in her application to GDOT. “These chickens, who spent their entire short lives … on a factory farm before their agonizing deaths, have no known living relatives.”
A spokeswoman for PETA has stated that the memorial will serve as “food for thought” to Gainesville’s residents and travelers in the area. Of course, with the poultry industry employing thousands of residents in the region, Gainesville is likely to view the monument as an object of ridicule and the publicity stunt that it really is. There’s no word yet on the state’s response to the request.
A 30-year-old insurance company employee and freelance voice actor took to the Jeopardy! stage with a burning desire to win and a dominant style of play. Along the way, he has won $102,800 so far and has picked up a reputation as a sort of villain to the show’s most ardent fans. And Arthur Chu doesn’t really care what the haters think.
Chu’s strategy consists of “bouncing around” the board, grabbing higher-dollar clues to shut his opponents out and hunting for valuable Daily Doubles. He often cuts host Alex Trebek off if he knows the answer before Trebek finishes the clue, and he caused a firestorm for betting a mere $5 on a sports-related Daily Double and cutting the host off to admit he didn’t know the answer. Some have called Chu’s strategy unorthodox, but he says it’s all been done before:
“I’ve told many people already that the first thing I did when I found out I was going to be on ‘Jeopardy!’ was sit down at my computer and literally Google ”Jeopardy!’ strategy’ and see what came up. The game’s been around for 30 years, and there are these communities of people like the J! Archive which has fans writing down the clues and the results from every game of “Jeopardy!” in history, ” Chu told FOX411. “Or the J! Board, which has some of the best champions and most devoted fans in ‘Jeopardy!’ history sitting down to discuss strategy and game play.
“What I would say is that what you can learn from my success on the show is that success is often not about being original or groundbreaking – it is about being willing to study from experts, learn from experience and commit to doing what evidence has proven works.”
Chu defends his strategy to fans of the show, saying it isn’t “something to apologize for,” but he admits that he fears frustrating Trebek.
Even the host couldn’t hide his irritation when Chu rattled off answers while he was still speaking.
“The crew, the production team and Alex, they want you to take the clues in order. That way, Alex doesn’t have to go hunting around for the right note card when he has a clue,” Chu said. “I hope he wasn’t too mad. I don’t want to antagonize Alex. Alex is a national treasure.”
Though Chu calls parts of his strategy “a jerk move,” his unusual tactics are legal – and they’re paying off. Can he continue his winning ways now that his methods are under scrutiny? We’ll see February 24, when his next appearance on the show (already in the can) airs.
The monorail systems at both American Disney theme parks serve as testimony to Walt Disney’s exciting futuristic vision. Monorails played a central role in the urban utopia of Walt’s Florida Project (and later on at Walt Disney World, of course), but many guests may not know that Disneyland has had its own monorail system since 1959.
Walt had wanted a monorail for the opening day of Disneyland, but his team had a difficult time finding a feasible plan for one. It took a trip to Germany for inspiration to strike.
During a visit to Europe in the Summer of 1957, Disney’s engineering group examined the experimental monorail developed by the Alweg Corporation, near Cologne, Germany. After further investigation, the group reported to Disney that this design appeared to offer the best prospects for economy, stability, and all-around practicality…
Walt asked Alweg to build a monorail for Disneyland, and he tapped Bob Gurr, an Imagineer who had worked on nearly all the other vehicles at the park, to work with the German company. Walt was pleased with the result and greenlit the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System, which opened June 14, 1959.
This “Highway in Sky” featured two trains, each with 3 cabins and the now-iconic bubble top in front. Walt Disney’s hope was not only to provide a scenic journey above Disneyland, but to create a solution for mass transportation needs all around the world.
Last Tuesday, a winter storm made its way to the Deep South and paralyzed cities like Atlanta and Birmingham for 30 hours. Atlanta found itself woefully underprepared when hundreds of businesses and school systems closed at nearly the same time. Motorists became stranded on crowded interstates as commutes ground to a halt. My own family experienced the harrowing “winter hell” – to use the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s term. My cousin had to spend the night in his truck in conditions so cold that the screen on his phone shattered, and my sister-in-law ventured out Wednesday morning to encounter other drivers stuck in a day’s worth of traffic.
There’s plenty of frustration all over Atlanta as a result of the storm. Abandoned cars sat for over a day, out of gas and left behind on highways and side streets alike. Students spent the night at schools when school systems chose not to allow buses out in the worsening conditions. City and state officials have played a sort of blame game (even as Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed whizzed past jammed motorists in the emergency lane en route to a Weather Channel interview), and citizens, members of the media, and officials at all levels of government struggle to figure out what went wrong. Some conspiracy nuts have mused that the government created a fake snowstorm to paralyze the South.
While the South revels in its frustrations with the storm and other areas of the country have some fun at our expense, Snowmageddon 2014 has given us some shining examples of the better side of human nature. Southerners cared for each other in the freezing cold, some of them in clever and ingenious ways.
By now, most people have heard the story of how Walt Disney initially came up with the idea to open a theme park. When he took his daughters on daddy-daughter trips to amusement parks around Los Angeles, he sat on a bench while Diane and Sharon rode rides and lamented the lack of activities for the entire family. The original idea for a small “Mickey Mouse Park” across the street from the Disney Studios has grown to two huge resort destinations in the United States, one in Europe, and two in Asia with a third coming soon.
Aerial photographs show us in a fascinating way how much the American parks have grown over the years. Take Disneyland in Anaheim, California, for instance. The original Disney theme park opened in 1955 on 160 acres near sleepy orange groves and is now 300 acres in the heart of Southern California’s bustling metropolis.
The photo below contrasts Disneyland in 1955 with today. Notice how undeveloped the area around the park was, and compare it to the urban sprawl that even in the late 50s bothered Walt and led him to build Walt Disney World in Florida. You can also see how the parking areas have moved to make room for hotels and additions to the park – including a whole new theme park, Disney’s California Adventure, which we’ll look at next.
Disney initially built Disney’s California Adventure Park on 67 acres at the southern end of the Disneyland property in 2001. The company retooled the park and expanded it six years later. The photo below shows the growth of the park between 2003 and today. While the growth may not look that drastic, you can notice in particular the growth in the southeastern part of the park as well as the major expansion of the Grand Californian Hotel at the center left of both images.
The American Bible Society has released its second annual list ranking 100 American cities by their embrace of the Bible. An overwhelming number of the top cities are located in the South.
“What we do is we take down all 100 cities in the U.S. and we take the top, take the bottom and everything in between,” Geof Morin, Chief Communications Officer for the American Bible Society, said. “It’s a combination of not just readership … but engagement, which is a language term for does the Bible get its fair shake in folks’ lives?”
“In the southeast, you have a strong penetration of the Bible in churches, as you would imagine, but in these cities — the ones that made the top 5 in particular — if you look at them, it’s not just church attendance that stacks up here. It’s personal engagement with the scriptures, it’s small groups of people who gather together and, in some cases, some community-wide efforts to invite people to engage, to read and live out the Bible,” Morin told Fox News Chief Religion Correspondent Lauren Green.
The top five cities on the survey are Chattanooga, TN, Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston, AL, Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA, Springfield, MO, and Shreveport, LA. Among the top 25 cities, only three – Charlotte, Nashville, and Dallas – have populations of one million or more households. Conversely, many of the cities on the bottom of the list are located in the Northeast.
“There’s churches and lots of folks involved in religious activity, but the penetration of the Bible, the means by which people can personally engage it and find ways to live it out are encouraged to do so, has dropped, which puts these folks at the bottom of the list,” Morin said.
I almost didn’t watch the Grammy Awards. The last few years, I’ve debated watching — largely because my music tastes have become less mainstream over the years but for other reasons as well. But, since I’m a sucker for the awards themselves, I wound up watching Sunday night’s ceremony. I walked away from the telecast with these four quick observations:
1. Beatlemania Is Alive and Well.
The 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival on U.S. shores takes place next week, and it’s clear that Beatlemania is still a force to reckon with. Ringo Starr performed “Photograph,” and he sounded pretty good. Paul McCartney performed “Queenie Pie,” a quirky, Beatlesque song off his new album, with Ringo on drums. Additionally, Sir Paul picked up a pair of awards at the ceremony. CBS will air a special on February 9 to commemorate the 50th anniversary. As a longtime fan, all this Beatles love makes me happy.
2. Daft Punk’s Costume Shtick Doesn’t Translate Well to an Awards Show.
French Electronic duo Daft Punk picked up four trophies, including the the two biggest prizes: Record of the Year and Album of the Year. They took the stage three times to accept awards and once to perform. The group is famous for their costumed performances, part of their attempts to maintain their anonymity (which I understand), but their futuristic robot getup didn’t work so well on the awards show stage.
Each time they entered the stage after a win, one of the featured performers had to give a speech for them. Each one began with, “I guess the robots wanted me to say…” The speeches were some of the most surreal moments of the night (even in light of Katy Perry’s performance.)
We on the Right may find ourselves tempted at times to look at the failures of Obama’s presidency and think that we’ve won. We may think that we’ve proven, once and for all, that stifling statism and stealth socialism cannot prevail in America.
Have you stopped to think that what we think of as failures may instead be part of a grand radical strategy? Former Florida Congressman Allen West has, and he shared his thoughts on Fox News:
West, a Republican, said he recently reread the Cloward-Piven strategy, proposed by two sociologists and political activists in 1966. The purpose of the strategy, offered to Democrats at the time, was to overload the welfare system so that people could be given “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.”
Obama’s economic policies may be intended to do something similar, West hinted during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News Channel’s ”On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
“We’re seeing an incredible growth of the welfare nanny state; we’re seeing the poverty rolls explode; we’re seeing the food stamp rolls explode; we’re seeing more dependency on government largesse and programs,” he said. “We’re seeing a desperation and a despondency out there that’s being created by this administration.”
Authors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven proposed a plan to end capitalism quickly by overloading bureaucracy with dependents so that the system would collapse under its own weight.
They proposed a “massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.” Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces for major economic reform at the national level.”
Their strategy involved a radical tactic known as community organizing (sound familiar?) to whip the poor into a frenzy and drive them on to welfare rolls. Voting-rights drives and a push for a “living wage” factored in to the Cloward-Piven strategy as well. Cloward and Piven were also reportedly behind the controversy in the 2000 presidential election.
Does all of this sound far fetched? Bear in mind that, like President Obama, Cloward and Piven were disciples of Saul Alinsky.
I sure hope I’m wrong, but if Obama’s policies thus far are part of a Cloward-Piven styled strategy, 2014 is more crucial than ever in terms of stemming the tide of stealth socialism.