Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spiderman again

Columbia orders 'Spider-Man 4' script

Published: Oct. 31, 2007 at 10:21 AM
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A script for a fourth installment of the "Spider-Man" series has been ordered even though U.S. star Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi haven't been rehired.

"Zodiac" writer James Vanderbilt has been commissioned to write the "Spider-Man 4" screenplay for Columbia, the Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday.

David Koepp, who worked on the first two "Spider-Man" movies, returned to write a previous draft of "Spider-Man 4."

Although the plot for the latest entry in the billion-dollar franchise has been kept under wraps, the trade paper said the plan was to present an adventure that features only two villains, since "Spider-Man 3," which saw the webslinger battling three bad guys, was criticized for having too many story lines.

Too Sexie

Karen Heller | Naughty - and definitely not nice

As we well know, Halloween marks a sanctioned occasion for girls to dress up - or is it down? - like the trollops of MTV and get candy for it.

They're sweet tarts, Lolitas-in-training with lollipops.

Young people may be shocked to learn that MTV began life as a music channel, one that aired a constant stream of videos with nubile women in scanty clothing.

Today, MTV is a "reality" channel featuring the appropriately named Hills and frisky bisexual and ultimate MySpacer Tila Tequila, her claim to fame being that she's an equal-opportunity tramp.

The music on MTV is now used to set the mood. Only the women in scanty clothing have remained the same.

Indeed, it's one of the few constants in contemporary culture on which you can depend. Another is a strange permutation of sartorial physics. As boys age, their clothes get baggier until their bodies disappear. As girls become teens, their attire becomes so small and tight to the point that the clothes disappear.

The holiday Victoria's Secret catalogue arrived the other day because nothing quite says Christmas like a Very Sexy® Infinity Edge™ Snow Leopard convertible push-up bra with Gel-Curve™.

How do we know it's Very Sexy®? Because it's written all over the bra, subtlety being anathema to the company.

A colleague immediately hid the catalogue of supermodels busting out all over, not so much from his 16-year-old son as his 13-year-old daughter.

A quick perusal through the 188-page doorstopper reveals marketing no longer directed at his wife but teen girls, if not tweens, contributing to what my colleague labels the continuing "slutification of America."

Victoria's Secret's Pink line, launched in 2004, has bloomed into a $1 billion brand. The company publicly promotes Pink to college kids, but dog prints, slumber party pj's, sweats aping soccer attire, camis and panties in ice cream-cone packaging suggest a decidedly younger demographic.

Have we mentioned that there are dress-up dolls "plush and pretty for the ultimate girly-girl?" Sure, that's what every college sophomore desires.

The catalogue features a "supermodel pj party," vixens in sequined bras and flannel bottoms - right, that frequent combo - without a cigarette, champagne bottle or Leonardo DiCaprio in the photo.

Pink is the Joe Camel of thongs. The line is advertised in YM and Teen Vogue magazines, which boast 12-17 aspirational demographics. The success is in the bottoms. All you need to do is count the number of teens with "Pink" plastered on their rears, the word in the VS world being more suggestive than simply being a "girly-girl." What kind of parents are paying for these clothes, which give strangers the pleasure of reading their daughters' keisters?

Going after a younger "Santa's naughty list" demographic is as logical as it is distasteful, the idea being that from the Pink sleepshirt it's just a few pages to the bustier and Brazilian panty.

Most teenagers like to shop. Many, sadly, want to appear older than they are at precisely the moment when their mothers' bodies are heading in a decidedly different direction, one more suited to Spanx slimming intimates than the Very Sexy® Infinity Edge™ Snow Leopard convertible push-up bra with Gel-Curve™.

Sometimes it seems as if the American Dream is all about trying to become something we're not and can never become, no matter how high our credit limit.

It's too bad that adolescence has become such a market-driven moment. Shopping shouldn't be what defines our identity, though, sadly, it often does. When parents have to hide a lingerie catalogue from their girls, you know a Very Sexy® shift has occurred.

Fat Pig

Woman claims pet-sitter made her pig fat

Tue Oct 30, 10:22 PM ET

WINONA, Minn. - A woman wants abuse charges filed against an acquaintance who was pet-sitting for her potbellied pig and allowed the animal to get fat.

Michelle Schmitz said her pig, Alaina Templeton, weighed 50 pounds when Schmitz left her with a co-worker who offered to care for the animal in February, when Schmitz went on medical leave to recover from ankle surgeries.

Nine months later, the pig weighed 150 pounds and it took veterinarians 4 1/2 hours to surgically remove the animal's collar, the Winona Daily News reported. Officers are investigating whether Alaina was abused by the sitter's neglect and overfeeding.

Investigator Jeff Mueller of the Winona County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that no charges had been filed against the pig sitter, whose name was not released.

Schmitz, 22, said she bottle-fed Alaina when she was just 11 days old and kept her on a strict diet to keep her weight at about 50 pounds.

When she tried to recover the pig in April, Schmitz said the co-worker wouldn't return her calls. She said that she didn't know where the woman lived and that when she finally found the woman's farm Saturday, she discovered that Alaina's neck had grown around her collar and that the pig had trouble breathing.

The pig now wears bandages and is healing from a pressure wound and neck infection.

Schmitz said she cried for three days after she discovered her pet's weight problem.

"That pig is my life," said Schmitz, who has a tattoo of Alaina's name.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Spaced Out

Fox has locked its orbit on "Spaced," a U.K. comedy being retooled for American auds.

Net has given a put pilot order to the project, originally created by the "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" team of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (as well as Jessica Stevenson). "Will & Grace" alum Adam Barr is set to adapt the show for the U.S.

"Spaced" revolves around a young man and woman (played by Pegg and Stevenson in the U.K. version) who pose as a couple in order to rent a cheap apartment. They're soon surrounded by colorful neighbors and eventually begin a flirtation.

The single-camera comedy is particularly known in Britain for its frenzied use of pop culture references -- particularly when it comes to sci-fi, horror, comicbooks and videogames.

Wonderland Sound and Vision is behind the project, as well as Warner Bros. TV (where Wonderland is based) and Granada, which holds format rights. Wonderland TV prexy Peter Johnson first discovered the show while talking to someone at a comicbook store; as a "Shaun of the Dead" fan, he quickly looked to seal the rights.

Wonderland's McG and Granada's Robert Green will exec produce alongside Barr; the extent of Pegg's and Wright's involvement is still unclear. But Johnson likens the effort to NBC's adaptation of Ricky Gervais' and Stephen Merchant's "The Office" for the U.S., with Greg Daniels in charge.

"Spaced" has been nominated for a BAFTA and an Intl. Emmy Award, among other honors. Channel 4 aired seven episodes of season one in 1999 and another seven segs of a second season in 2001.

Barr's other credits include "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Desperate Housewives."

Dog Graffitti

Sick yobs daub pen on Precious


Published: Today

SICK yobs daubed graffiti all over a DOG after it was left tied up outside a shop.

Furious owner Dawn Lavall found felt-pen scribble on the head and back of her pet American bulldog Precious.

Cuddle ... Dawn and pet

Cuddle ... Dawn and pet

Gary Stone

A smiley face was scrawled on a leg. Dawn, 43, said: “Whoever did this is sick. I’d only left her for ten minutes while I was in the shop.

“When I came out I was horrified to find that someone had drawn over her.

“It will take me ages to get it all out.”

Animal-lover Dawn, of Fulham, West London – who also has ten cats and two guinea pigs – added: “I just hope it doesn’t have any long-term effect.

“She had a lovely nature, but now gets frightened when anyone goes near her.”

Dawn rescued Precious after she had been mistreated by a previous owner.

She said: “The moment I saw her I fell in love and had to have her.

“She is my baby. It makes my blood boil that someone could be so cruel.

“I can’t see how they can get any sort of pleasure from drawing all over a defenceless animal.”

The RSPCA is investigating.

Chief veterinary officer Steve Cheetham said yesterday: “This would have caused Precious distress.”

German Scent of Stupidity

Tony's Secret Cabinet
Scent of a Führer
Hitler wanted to control the world. But he couldn't even control his flatulence.

Guests at the Berghof, Hitler’s private chalet in the Bavarian Alps, must have endured some unpleasant odors in the otherwise healthful mountain air.

It may sound like a Woody Allen scenario, but medical historians are unanimous that Adolf was the victim of uncontrollable flatulence. Spasmodic stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea, possibly the result of nervous tension, had been Hitler’s curse since childhood and only grew more severe as he aged. As a stressed-out dictator, the agonizing digestive attacks would occur after most meals: Albert Speer recalled that the Führer, ashen-faced, would leap up from the dinner table and disappear to his room.

This was an embarrassing problem for a ruthless leader of the Third Reich. With uncharacteristic concern for his fellow human beings, Hitler had first tried to cure himself when he was a rising politician in 1929 by poring over medical manuals, coming to the conclusion that a largely veg diet would calm his turbulent digestion as well as make his farts less offensive to the nose. A rabid hypochondriac, he would also examine his own feces on a regular basis and administer himself camomile enemas. Hitler decided to swear off meat completely in 1931, when his niece (and presumed romantic interest) Geli Raubel committed suicide: When presented with a plate of breakfast ham the next morning, he pushed it away muttering, “It’s like eating a corpse.” From that squeamish moment on, great piles of vegetables, raw or pulped into a baby mulch, were Hitler’s daily staple. (All cooked foods, he decided, were carcinogenic). He showed a particular fondness, culinary historians assure us, for oatmeal with linseed oil, cauliflower, cottage cheese, boiled apples, artichoke hearts and asparagus tips in white sauce. Strangely, Hitler was unfazed by the fact that this high-fiber diet was having the opposite effect on his digestion than what he had intended: His private physician, Dr. Theo Morell, recorded in his diary that after Hitler downed a typical vegetable platter, “constipation and colossal flatulence occurred on a scale I have seldom encountered before.”

Hitler’s stomach problems may even have played their part in his losing the war, thanks to this shadowy figure of Dr. Morell, an incompetent quack who took over Hitler’s medical care in 1937. The pair had met at a Christmas gathering in the Berghof, the bucolic mountain retreat decorated with Bavarian knick-knacks and edelweiss, the year before. Morrell was an unpleasant figure even by Nazi standards – grossly obese, with frog-like features, sulfurous B.O. and venomous halitosis. But when he cured a painful case of eczema on Hitler’s legs and provided temporary relief for his stomach cramps, the Führer was won over. To the irritation of other Nazi doctors, Hitler then proceeded to swallow any of Morell’s advice, no matter how hair-brained, for the next eight years.

For example, to combat recurrences of the volcanic stomach problems, Morell plied him with a remedy called “Dr. Köster’s Anti-gas pills,” which contained significant amounts of strychnine – and Hitler often took as many as 16 of the little black pills a day. The sallow skin, glaucous eyes and attention lapses noted by observers later in the war are consistent with strychnine poisoning; another ingredient in the pills, antropine, causes mood wings from euphoria to violent anger. Even more peculiar were the injections of amphetamines that Morell administered every morning before breakfast from 1941, which may have exacerbated the erratic behavior, inflexibility, paranoia and indecision that Hitler began to display increasingly as the war ground on. And there was a barrage of other supplements -- vitamins, testosterone, liver extracts, laxatives, sedatives, glucose and opiates, all intended to combat the dictator’s real or imagined ailments. After the war, U.S. intelligence officers discovered that Morell was pumping Hitler with 28 different drugs, including eye-drops that contained 10 percent cocaine (up to 10 treatment a day), a concoction made from human placenta and “potency pills” made from ground bull’s testicles. But despite the barrage of medicines, Morell’s diaries (which were recovered from Germany and are kept in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) make clear that the bouts of “agonizing flatulence” remained a regular occurrence.

A relatively healthy man when he met Morell, Hitler degenerated quickly towards the end of the war until he was a physical wreck. Hitler’s arms were so riddled with hypodermic marks that even the normally passive Eva Braun complained to her mother about Morell as “the injection quack.” When Hitler came down with jaundice in 1944, three Nazi doctors tried to have Morell fired. But the Führer remained fiercely loyal – or just as likely, addicted to his chemical cocktails – and dismissed the trio of troublemakers instead. Morell stayed with Hitler in the Bunker almost until the bitter end, as his patient began to fall apart completely (and a tremor in his left hand became uncontrollable, a probable symptom of advancing Parkinson’s disease). On April 20, 1945, days before the Russians took Berlin, Hitler suddenly refused Morell’s hypodermic, ordered him to strip off his uniform and leave. Desperately ill himself, Morell was soon captured by the U.S. Army and kept in prison for two years of interrogations, but was never charged with war crimes. He was hospitalized immediately after his release and died in 1948.

If he had not been so cravenly devoted to Hitler, a hero-worship he expressed over and again to U.S. interrogators, one might have thought Morell a spy. It was a suspicion that had occurred to other Nazis, especially during the 1944 jaundice attack. Heinrich Himmler interrogated Morell’s assistant Richard Weber in Berlin’s Gestapo Headquarters about whether the doctor was deliberately poisoning the Führer with his treatments. “Out of the question,” Weber replied. “Morell’s too big a coward for that.” • 24 October 2007

SOURCES/FURTHER READING: Gordon, Bertram, “Fascism, the Neo-Right and Gastronomy: A Case in the Theory of the Social Engineering of Taste,” Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery (1987); Heston, Leonard and Renate, The Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler: His Illnesses, Doctors and Drugs, (New York, 2000); Irving, David, The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor, (London, 1983); Waite, Robert G.L., The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, New York, 1993.