Not a real movie... yet. It's just cut together pieces from other real movies.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By David Colton, USA TODAY
On the night of June 2, 1932, the world's first superhero was born — not on the mythical planet of Krypton but from a little-known tragedy on the streets of Cleveland.
It was Thursday night, about 8:10 p.m., and Mitchell Siegel, a Jewish immigrant from Lithuania, was in his secondhand clothing store on the near East Side. According to a police report, three men entered. One asked to see a suit of clothes and walked out without paying for it. In the commotion of the robbery, Siegel, 60, fell to the ground and died.
The police report mentions a gunshot being heard. But the coroner, the police and Siegel's wife said Siegel died of a heart attack. No one was ever arrested.
What happened next has exploded some of the longest-held beliefs about the origins of Superman and the two teenage boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who invented America's best-known comic-book hero.
Past accounts suggest Siegel and Shuster, both 17, awkward and unpopular in high school, invented the meek Clark Kent and his powerful alter-ego, Superman, to attract girls and rise above their humble Cleveland beginnings.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: United States | Cleveland | Jewish | Lithuania | Depression | Plain Dealer | DC Comics | East Side | Man of Steel | Clark Kent | Lex Luthor | Krypton | Brad Meltzer | Jerry Siegel | Gerard Jones | Joe Shuster | Ross Macdonald
But now it appears that the origin might have been more profound — that it was the death of Jerry Siegel's father that pushed the devastated teen to come up with the idea of a "Superman" to right all wrongs.
"In 50 years of interviews, Jerry Siegel never once mentioned that his father died in a robbery," says Brad Meltzer, a best-selling author whose novel, The Book of Lies, due Sept. 2, links the Siegel murder to a biblical conspiracy plot.
"But think about it," Meltzer says. "Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man who becomes the world's greatest hero. I'm sorry, but there's a story there."
The first 'Superman'
The evidence for such a psychological underpinning is strong.
It was just a year after Mitchell Siegel's death, 1933, that writer Siegel and artist Shuster came up with "The Superman," a grim, flying avenger they tried to sell to newspaper syndicates and publishers for five years. In the oldest surviving artwork, this early Superman, whom they call "the most astounding fiction character of all time," flies to the rescue of a man who is being held up by a masked robber.
Was it Jerry's alter-ego flying to rescue his helpless father?
"America did not get Superman from our greatest legends, but because a boy lost his father," Meltzer says. "Superman came not out of our strength but out of our vulnerability."
The more Meltzer looked, the more intriguing things became. A letter published in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer on June 3, 1932, the day after the robbery, denounces the need for vigilantes in the harsh days of the Depression. The letter is signed by an A.L. Luther.
"Is that where (Superman foe) Lex Luthor came from?" Meltzer says. "I almost had a heart attack right there. I thought, 'You have to be kidding me!' "
In search of answers
Meltzer was not the only one looking. Comic-book historian Gerard Jones first disclosed the fact of the robbery in 2004 for his book, Men of Tomorrow, after interviews with Siegel's cousins.
"It had to have an effect," Jones says. "Superman's invulnerability to bullets, loss of family, destruction of his homeland — all seem to overlap with Jerry's personal experience. There's a connection there: the loss of a dad as a source for Superman."
Although they never went public, the father's side of the family was told for decades that the elder Siegel had been shot in the robbery. That's the dramatic angle Meltzer takes in his conspiracy novel. Siegel was shot twice in the chest at his store, he writes, and "a puddle of blood seeped toward the door."
In an afterword to his work of fiction, Meltzer concedes that the facts remain murky. In an interview, Meltzer said that some in the family were told "since they were little kids" that Siegel died by gunfire. Others were told he had a heart attack. "It was probably a heart attack," Meltzer said.
And yet Meltzer is not ready to embrace either answer as final.
More definitive is Marc Tyler Nobleman, author with artist Ross MacDonald of this year's illustrated book Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, who concludes that Mitchell Siegel died of a heart attack during the robbery. The coroner, he notes, reported "no wounds" on Siegel's body, and the gunshot might not have been related to the robbery.
"I spent a long time going after this," Nobleman says. "I believe I have the first accurate account. Jerry's father wasn't shot and robbed. He had a heart attack during a robbery."
A fortune sold for $130
The rest of the saga of Siegel and Shuster is better known, but no less tragic. It wasn't until 1938 that the familiar red-and-blue-garbed Superman appeared on the cover of Action Comics No. 1. The creators got a check for $130. In return, DC Comics acquired rights to the character "forever."
Siegel and Shuster bristled as Superman grew in popularity — on radio, in wartime cartoons and serials in the 1940s. They went to court several times, winning settlements but never rights to the character. By the 1970s, Siegel had been working as a mail clerk for $7,000 a year, and Shuster was almost blind.
"A shameful legacy," says Blake Bell, author of The World of Steve Ditko, a biography of the co-creator of Spider-Man. Comic-book creators "had no pensions, no contracts, no health benefits, and companies didn't even pay for the artists' supplies. When these artists tried to negotiate greater rights for themselves, they were either collectively cast out or made false promises."
After hearing that Warner Bros. had paid $3 million for the rights to make Superman the Movie in 1975, Siegel and Shuster tried again to reap some benefits. This time, though, they had help from the artistic community and from fans who knew their work.
In a landmark settlement, DC Comics agreed to pay the two men $20,000 a year for life. More important, friends say, DC agreed to add "Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster" on all printed and filmed material in the future.
"Having their names listed as Superman's creators was the biggest victory of all," says Steve Younis, editor of SupermanHomepage.com. "It's worth more than any kind of monetary reimbursement."
The man who helped negotiate the Siegel and Shuster deal was artist Jerry Robinson, who co-created The Joker in 1939 but who received little recognition for decades. (He's now a creative consultant for DC Comics in the wake of The Dark Knight film.)
Robinson says he threw a party in his Manhattan apartment when the Siegel and Shuster settlement was announced.
"Kurt Vonnegut, Jules Pfeiffer, Will Eisner, Eli Wallach and his wife were there," Robinson, 86, says. "Walter Cronkite came on, and they showed Superman flying, and he described what had happened. At the end, he said, 'Another triumph for truth, justice and the American way.'
"We opened Champagne. Jerry and Joe were there, and it was a very emotional moment. There wasn't a dry eye in the place."
The struggle goes on
Michael Uslan, executive producer of the six Batman movies since 1989, including The Dark Knight, says there has been a "sea change" in how corporations view comic books and their creators. "Here you have people in their 80s and 90s seeing their comic-book work being taken seriously," Uslan says. "They are deriving economic benefits now either directly or through consultancies."
Shuster died in 1992 and Siegel in 1996, but their legal battles have been never-ending. In March, a court ruled that Siegel's heirs (wife Joanne and daughter Laura) were entitled to parts of the billion-dollar Superman copyright. Because of the ongoing litigation, neither the families nor DC Comics would comment, not even about Mitchell Siegel's death 76 years ago or its implications.
But in an e-mailed response, the Siegel family did say, "It is gratifying to know people want to know about Jerry Siegel, and that he is getting recognition for his creativity."
Mon Aug 25, 7:17 PM ET
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a good baseball player — too good, it turns out. The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.
Officials for the three-year-old league, which has eight teams and about 100 players, said they will disband Jericho's team, redistributing its players among other squads, and offered to refund $50 sign-up fees to anyone who asks for it. They say Jericho's coach, Wilfred Vidro, has resigned.
But Vidro says he didn't quit and the team refuses to disband. Players and parents held a protest at the league's field on Saturday urging the league to let Jericho pitch.
"He's never hurt any one," Vidro said. "He's on target all the time. How can you punish a kid for being too good?"
The controversy bothers Jericho, who says he misses pitching.
"I feel sad," he said. "I feel like it's all my fault nobody could play."
Jericho's coach and parents say the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators.
Jericho instead joined a team sponsored by Will Power Fitness. The team was 8-0 and on its way to the playoffs when Jericho was banned from pitching.
"I think it's discouraging when you're telling a 9-year-old you're too good at something," said his mother, Nicole Scott. "The whole objective in life is to find something you're good at and stick with it. I'd rather he spend all his time on the baseball field than idolizing someone standing on the street corner."
League attorney Peter Noble says the only factor in banning Jericho from the mound is his pitches are just too fast.
"He is a very skilled player, a very hard thrower," Noble said. "There are a lot of beginners. This is not a high-powered league. This is a developmental league whose main purpose is to promote the sport."
Noble acknowledged that Jericho had not beaned any batters in the co-ed league of 8- to 10-year-olds, but say parents expressed safety concerns.
"Facing that kind of speed" is frighteneing for beginning players, Noble said.
League officials say they first told Vidro that the boy could not pitch after a game on Aug. 13. Jericho played second base the next game on Aug. 16. But when he took the mound Wednesday, the other team walked off and a forfeit was called.
League officials say Jericho's mother became irate, threatening them and vowing to get the league shut down.
"I have never seen behavior of a parent like the behavior Jericho's mother exhibited Wednesday night," Noble said.
Scott denies threatening any one, but said she did call the police.
League officials suggested that Jericho play other positions, or pitch against older players or in a different league.
Local attorney John Williams was planning to meet with Jericho's parents Monday to discuss legal options.
"You don't have to be learned in the law to know in your heart that it's wrong," he said. "Now you have to be punished because you excel at something?"
By Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports
Aug 24, 11:29 am EDT
BEIJING – It is the biggest buzz word in Olympic circles, and the promise of it can dramatically sway the bidding process for future Games.
These days, any hopeful city with Olympic aspirations must not only show its ability to provide venues and infrastructure of the highest standard, but also prove there will be a lasting positive effect on the local community.
The 2004 Olympics in Athens showed how to get it embarrassingly and disgracefully wrong. Over the past 16 days, Beijing has shown the world how to get it magnificently right.
Four years since the Athens Games, a Greek tragedy is taking place. Incredibly, many of the 22 Olympic venues now lie abandoned, as a sad and litter-strewn reminder of sport’s greatest festival.
Gypsy camps have sprung up in the shadow of stadiums where the world’s finest athletes once battled for gold. Graffiti is scrawled over the outer walls of many sites, and it has been reported in Greece that upward of $1 billion has been spent simply to maintain these ugly wrecks.
That is Athens’ legacy.
Sixteen days of glory, but at what price? The Olympics are now almost a dirty word in Athens, most regularly used by politicians who use the issue of decay as a powerful campaigning point.
There was an element of tokenism in awarding the Olympics to Athens in the first place, a symbolic gesture intended as a nod to Ancient Olympia.
The Games will never return there. They will not be allowed to, if for no other reason than that the level of public outrage at the grotesque waste of money on oversized venues with no future is extreme.
Beijing is not going to let that happen. For a start, the Chinese capital has several huge advantages over Athens.
“The reason why some countries have been challenged with economic downturns after hosting an Olympics is that hosting cities are often very small,” said Chen Jian, executive president of the Beijing Economy Research Association. “Their investments in infrastructure construction were excessive. Fluctuations arose in the economic growth when no new hotspot for investment occurred after the Olympics.”
Beijing is a city that deeply loves its sports, even more so now given the host nation’s extraordinary success over the past fortnight.
The Bird’s Nest will be used for major international events, concerts and domestic soccer matches.
The Water Cube aquatic center was built to a sensible size, and will mainly be used for international diving competitions and exhibitions. Diving’s popularity in China should ensure that it is often filled to near capacity.
The luminescent light show on the glowing exterior of the stadium will be turned off soon after the Games, but will be put back on whenever there is a major event taking place in Beijing.
Other sites such as Workers’ Stadium and Workers’ Gymnasium were already in place. The Olympic Park Tennis Center has been tabbed to host an ATP event next year.
Whereas the list of Athens’ failures goes on, so too does the depth of Beijing’s successes.
The Games have sparked economic growth, and experts predict a continued surge in tourism as many fans who traveled to the Olympics are expected to return for a second look.
Here, there is a legacy of pride, and a spectacular standard of responsible spending for future hosts to uphold.
Whether you agree with China’s foreign policies or political ideals, no one can deny this has been a truly superb Olympic Games.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
If you're more interested, just google the museum and read on. It's so sad.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Lorry drivers have staged a protest at the rising cost of fuel, at the same time as speculation mounted about a government rethink on road tax.
Hundreds of lorry drivers protested in London and a two-mile line of lorries crawled along the M4 towards Cardiff.
Hauliers say diesel prices topping 120p a litre, plus the planned 2p fuel tax rise, will drive firms "to the wall".
Meanwhile, ministers said Alistair Darling was "listening" to fears over plans to raise vehicle excise duty.
The government is planning to increase road tax on older, more polluting vehicles, and next week the chancellor will meet Labour MPs opposed to the plan.
So far, 42 MPs have signed a Commons motion asking him to reconsider the policy on the grounds that it is retrospective and therefore "unfair" to people who have already bought their cars.
While the chancellor cannot control global oil prices, hauliers want an "essential user" duty rebate on fuel of between 20p and 25p a litre to ease competition with foreign haulage companies.
UK'S CHEAPEST & MOST EXPENSIVE FUEL
Cheapest unleaded: 108.9p (Mansfield)
Most expensive unleaded: 126.9p (Newport, Isle of Wight)
Cheapest diesel: 115.9p (Banff)
Most expensive diesel: 140.9p (Isle of Mull)
Latest figures from PetrolPrices.com
Car tax rates guide
In pictures: Fuel protests
'We can't carry on like this'
Mike Greene, leader of the protests in Wales, told the BBC that, unless the government agreed to the rebate within seven days, lorries would blockade refineries and ports.
Peter Carroll, from TransAction 2007 which organised the London protest, said he did not condone blockades, but found it "hard to condemn them", given how much hauliers were suffering.
The BBC's environment analyst, Roger Harrabin, said it was family-run, small and medium-sized firms that were worst hit.
See how UK petrol and diesel prices have risen
He said large companies were able to raise their rates to absorb higher fuel costs and could also more easily pass on the pain of price rises to consumers.
Organisers had hoped as many as 1,000 lorries would take part in the protest in London, but Peter Carroll, from TransAction, said the turnout was about 500. Police put the figure at 300.
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The lorries parked on the eastbound A40 closing the carriageway between the northern roundabout A3220 junction and Paddington from 1000 BST until 1600 BST.
Some drivers also joined a rally in central London before petitioning 10 Downing Street. Mr Carroll said hauliers were being "murdered" by rising costs, and the public's response to their plight had been "enormously positive".
"We feel we couldn't have put on a better or bigger display to show the government this is a real crisis," he said.
"The acid test will now be whether they listen to us."
In Wales, police said about 100 lorries took part in a 60-mile convoy protest from Cross Hands, near Llanelli. Other reports put the figure at about 170.
Convoys have blocked the A40 and disrupted traffic on the M4
They had planned to hand in a petition to the Welsh assembly at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, but police turned back many vehicles and diverted others to a service station west of the city.
Martin Arthur, who owns a haulage firm in Usk, Monmouthshire, said: "We have to make ourselves heard or people will keep walking all over us.
"People will have to stop working sooner or later because there's no point working for a loss."
Commons Transport Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said ministers should acknowledge widespread concerns over soaring fuel costs but not be forced into policy decisions by protests.
"Everybody is feeling the impact of the increased cost of living," she said. "That's something the government will have to think about."
Trucks from Cowbit, Lincolnshire head to A40 in London via M1, A406 and Hanger Lane Gyratory
Trucks from M2 Medway Services, Kent head to A40 in London via Vauxhall Bridge, Grosvenor Road, Chelsea Embankment, Finborough Road, Warwick Road, Holland Road and West Cross Route (A3220)
Coaches take drivers from parking on A40 to 1130 BST Marble Arch rally
All vehicles supposed to leave A40 by 1530 BSTA Treasury spokesman said the government understood businesses and families were "feeling the pressure from high fuel prices".
But they said the "immediate priority" was to encourage oil-producing countries to increase output, that a 2p-per-litre fuel duty increase had been put back from April to October and fuel duty was "still 11% below its 1999 level in real terms".
The Treasury also defended its plan to increase vehicle excise duty for vehicles registered since 2001 that emit higher levels of pollutants.
Owners of the most polluting cars could face a rise of as much as £200, but a spokesman said the policy was needed to "strengthen the environmental incentive to develop and purchase fuel-efficient cars".
Business Secretary John Hutton told the BBC the chancellor was "listening to what people are saying about vehicle excise duty".
He also said the government wanted UK hauliers to have "a fair deal" and the chancellor would have "to consider how he wants to go forward on this".
Justice Secretary Jack Straw told the BBC he "fully understood" the hauliers' concerns, but "government revenues have to come from somewhere".
He said any decisions made about increased road tax would be made in the autumn statement.
Truck drivers in UK to strike soaring fuel prices
Power & Materials 5/26/2008 1:39:00 PM
LONDON, May 26 (KUNA) -- Truck drivers in Britain are to pour into London on Tuesday for what organisers hope will be the largest-ever fuel duty protest in the British capital, it was announced Monday.
Hauliers are angry at soaring fuel prices which have resulted in the average cost of diesel passing far beyond the 120 pence-a-litre mark, the organizers said. Led by lorry drivers from Kent, southern England, the protest is expected to attract hundreds of hauliers from all around the UK. The convoy will make its way to central London, parking close to Marble Arch. Police said a number of roads will be closed in London so that demonstrators can park their lorries. A delegation from the demonstrators will hand a letter to 10 Downing Street demanding the immediate introduction of an essential user rebate which would allow Huge lorries operators to claim some of the fuel duty back. Mike Presneill, a leading member of Transaction 2007, who is helping to organise the protest, said: "Fuel is rocketing. The Government has the power to act but appears not to be listening. Hundreds of UK transport firms are being driven to the wall. Thousands of UK jobs are being lost," he said. Another Kent-based haulier, Peter Knight, said "Foreign hauliers are entering the UK with cheaper fuel purchased abroad. They contribute nothing to our economy." Knight added. "This is the economics of the mad house. If we are wiped out, the work will be done by foreign hauliers who pay nothing to the UK in tax."
McGregor won't do 'Porno'
5 commentsMay. 27, 2008 12:00 AM
Ewan McGregor will not make a sequel to Trainspotting.
The Star Wars actor has ruled out ever starring in a follow-up to the 1996 film because he isn't a fan of Irvine Welsh's Porno, the sequel to Trainspotting.
Ewan, who played heroin addict Renton in the original movie, said: "There has always been talk of a sequel but I was disappointed with the book that Irvine wrote afterwards, Porno. It was like he wrote a sequel to the movie.
"I would hate to damage Trainspotting. It would be awful to damage the reputation of that film."
Despite his reluctance to reprise his role, the actor said starring in Trainspotting was a fantastic experience.
"It was mindblowing. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking, 'Yeah, here we go!' It was extraordinary for lots of reasons, but I remember it being great because I was in my early 20s in the mid-90s when it came out."
POSTED: 1:37 pm CDT May 28, 2008
UPDATED: 6:10 pm CDT May 28, 2008
TULSA, Okla. -- A Texas man told authorities that engine problems forced him to make an emergency landing on U.S. Highway 75 near Tulsa.
No injuries are reported, and the only damage appears to be to a road sign.
Allen Braden said he was flying his single-engine Cessna from Emporia, Kan., to his home in Houston when he developed engine trouble.
Braden said he tried to make it to Tulsa International Airport but couldn't so he landed on the highway after seeing an opening in traffic.
The Federal Aviation Administration is being called to investigate the incident.
Information from: KOTV-TV, http://www.newson6.com
12:27 AM CDT on Thursday, May 29, 2008
By LAURIE FOX / The Dallas Morning News
Grapevine High School senior Anjali Datta holds the highest grade-point average of the 471 students graduating from Grapevine High School this year.
In fact, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD officials believe her GPA of 5.898 may be the highest in the high school's history.
Anjali Datta's GPA of 5.898 may be the highest in the Grapevine High School history, but she can't be valedictorian and get a one-year scholarship from the state because she graduated in three years instead of the usual four.
View larger More photos Photo store It's still not enough to make her the valedictorian, which brings a one-year college scholarship from the state.
Her closest competitor's GPA is 5.64. No one disputes that she's the top student in her class numerically. The problem rests with another number entirely.
Anjali rocketed through high school in only three years. But a school district policy states: "The valedictorian shall be the eligible student with the highest weighted grade-point average for four years of high school."
The dispute over Anjali's status as valedictorian comes down to interpretation: Does four years mean calendar years of school attendance or does it mean completing the credits it takes most students four years to earn?
It depends on whom you ask.
The 16-year-old started taking high school classes in middle school and says her teachers encouraged her to graduate a year early because she had more than enough credits for graduation.
She said a counselor assured her that doing so wouldn't affect her valedictorian status because she earned her four years of high school credit in the district's schools. Officials had no comment about what a counselor may have said.
The policy was created to protect students from others who might transfer into the district close to graduation and usurp the class ranking of longtime students.
Though that's not the situation in this case, the district's attorneys interpreted the policy literally.
So at graduation ceremonies, 18-year-old Tyler Scott Franklin of Colleyville will be the Grapevine High School valedictorian.
Anjali will be "Valedictorian – Three-Year."
District officials said the title was created for this situation.
"We're doing what we can to extend an additional honor within accordance of school board policy," said Megan Overman, a district spokeswoman. "I'm not going to say that this has been an easy situation. This is something that is new for all of us. We've not faced this situation before."
Ms. Overman said the district researched the decision for months.
"There was a lot of thought involved in this. There is no perfect answer," she said.
Anjali says she and her parents are baffled.
"I have not heard of any educational institution penalizing a student for excellence – for completing a demanding set of classes 'too quickly,' " said her father, Deepak Datta. "Anjali's experience will surely send a strong negative signal to other talented students trying to excel.
"They will most certainly be discouraged from trying to do their best – instead will be more focused on gaming the system."
On Tuesday, Grapevine High School principal Jerry Hollingsworth notified the family via e-mail of the district's position that would arrive this week by certified letter.
"The determination of valedictory honor is one that rests squarely on Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board policy," Dr. Hollingsworth wrote. "In determining an appropriate interpretation of our policy, inquiries were made to both the school district's attorney as well as an attorney at the Texas Association of School Boards.
"Both were clear in their opinions that this honor should go to a student who has four school years in his or her high school career. We are compelled to adhere to school board policy," he wrote.
So, Tyler will receive the college scholarship.
His mother, Kathy, said her family didn't raise the issue with the school district. She said someone brought the district policy to her family's attention.
"We feel obviously that the other student deserves recognition as well," she said. "Considering all of the different factors, this was a good solution."
Anjali says she's struggling to understand the move because the Texas Education Agency doesn't even mention the word "valedictorian" when defining eligibility for the college scholarship.
The state provides Texas high schools with an "Honor Graduate Certificate." The certificate is to be presented to the "highest ranking graduate" in the senior class, according to Texas Education Code.
State officials say it is the local school district's responsibility to determine the highest ranking student, and the state has no authority to get involved. At graduation June 7, Anjali will be honored for her perfect ACT score. She will be acknowledged as an honor graduate and allowed to address her classmates.
But Anjali said it still doesn't feel quite right.
"This really diminishes the value of the valedictorian title," she said.
In fact, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD officials believe her GPA of 5.898 may be the highest in the high school’s history.
It’s still not enough to make her the valedictorian, which brings a one-year college scholarship from the state.
Her closest competitor’s GPA is 5.64. No one disputes that she’s the top student in her class numerically. The problem rests with another number entirely.
Anjali rocketed through high school in only three years.
But a school district policy states: “the valedictorian shall be the eligible student with the highest weighted grade point average for four years of high school.”
The dispute over Anjali’s status as valedictorian comes down to interpretation: Does four years mean calendar years of school attendance or does it mean completing the credits it takes most students four years to earn?
It depends on whom you ask.
The 16-year-old started taking high school classes in middle school and she says her teachers encouraged her to graduate a year early because she had more than enough credits for graduation.
She said a counselor assured her that doing so wouldn’t affect her valedictorian status because she earned her four years of high school credit in the district’s schools. Officials had no comment about what a counselor may have said.
The policy was created to protect students from others who might transfer into the district close to graduation and usurp the class ranking of longtime students.
Though that’s not the situation in this case, the district’s attorneys interpreted the policy literally.
So at graduation ceremonies, 18-year-old Tyler Scott Franklin of Colleyville, will be the Grapevine High School valedictorian.
Anjali will be “Valedictorian—Three-Year.”
District officials said the title was created for this situation.
“We’re doing what we can to extend an additional honor within accordance of school board policy,” said Megan Overman, a district spokeswoman. “I’m not going to say that this has been an easy situation. This is something that is new for all of us. We’ve not faced this situation before.”
Ms. Overman said the district researched the decision for months.
“There was a lot of thought involved in this. There is no perfect answer,” she said.
Anjali says she and her parents are baffled.
“I have not heard of any educational institution penalizing a student for excellence – for completing a demanding set of classes ‘too quickly,’” said her father, Deepak Datta. “Anjali’s experience will surely send a strong negative signal to other talented students trying to excel.
“They will most certainly be discouraged from trying to do their best – instead will be more focused on gaming the system.”
On Tuesday, Grapevine High School principal Jerry Hollingsworth notified the family via e-mail of the district’s position that would arrive this week by certified letter.
“The determination of valedictory honor is one that rests squarely on Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board policy,” Dr. Hollingsworth wrote. “In determining an appropriate interpretation of our policy, inquiries were made to both the school district’s attorney as well as an attorney at the Texas Association of School Boards.
“Both were clear in their opinions that this honor should go to a student who has four school years in his or her high school career. We are compelled to adhere to school board policy,” he wrote.
So, Tyler will receive the college scholarship.
His mother, Kathy, said her family didn’t raise the issue with the school district. She said someone brought the district policy to her family’s attention.
“We feel obviously that the other student deserves recognition as well,” she said. “Considering all of the different factors, this was a good solution.”
Anjali says she’s struggling to understand the move because the Texas Education Agency doesn’t even mention the word “valedictorian” when defining eligibility for the college scholarship.
The state provides Texas high schools with an “Honor Graduate Certificate.” The certificate is to be presented to the “highest ranking graduate” in the senior class, according to Texas Education Code.
State officials say it is the local school district’s responsibility to determine the highest ranking student, and the state has no authority to get involved. At graduation on June 7, Anjali will be honored for her perfect ACT score. She will be acknowledged as an honor graduate and allowed to address her classmates.
But Anjali said it still doesn’t feel quite right.
“This really diminishes the value of the valedictorian title,” she said.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
POSTED: 7:24 pm EDT May 5, 2008
UPDATED: 9:39 am EDT May 6, 2008
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -- A Florida substitute teacher says his job disappeared after doing a magic trick in front of his students.
VIEW 99 PICS capturing a variety of strange news.Substitute teacher Jim Piculas made a toothpick disappear, then reappear in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes, Florida. The Pasco County School District says there were several other performance issues, but none compared to his "wizardry."
"I get a call the middle of the day from head of supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue. You can't take any more assignments. You need to come in right away.' I said, 'Well, Pat, can you explain this to me?' 'You've been accused of wizardry,'" Piculas explained.
The assistant superintendent with the district said Piculas had other issues, like not following lesson plans and allowing students to play on unapproved computers.
Piculas said he's concerned the incident may prevent him from getting future jobs.
Comments (60) One particular pirate prop was a must for David Waterman as he organised a themed party for his daughter's birthday.
With cutlass-wielding youngsters running around in eye patches, he thought, a Jolly Roger flag would add the perfect finishing touch - and he duly hung the Skull and Crossbones from the side of the family home.
Unfortunately the local council didn't see the jolly side and Mr Waterman has been threatened with prosecution unless he removes the 5ft by 3ft banner.
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All aboard: Firefighter David Waterman with children Ewan and Madeleine
Last night, the fireman and former soldier hit out at the "disgraceful" waste of taxpayers' money.
While his daughter Madeleine's eighth birthday party went off successfully, he is so angry at the council's pettiness that he has decided to leave the flag in place on a point of principle and pay the £95 administration fee to apply for 'advertising consent' which would enable him to continue flying it outside his home in Ashtead, Surrey.
A senior council officer has warned him it is unlikely to be granted.
Father-of-four Mr Waterman, who works at Battersea fire station in South London, said: "I find it ridiculous that the council are fighting me over this.
"It's a £5 flag, not hurting anyone, and they're probably spending hundreds of pounds of our cash getting me to take it down. That could be spent on improving the local area."
The problems started when the council received a complaint about the flag from a neighbour on April 16.
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Causing a flap: Mr Waterman is paying £95 to apply for advertising consent for the flag after a neighbour complained
Mr Waterman, 41, was sent a letter on April 21 informing him he had seven days to remove it.
He was told that the flying of flags was controlled by the Town and Country (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992.
These stipulate that only 'a national flag of any country, the flag of the European Union, the Commonwealth, the United Nations, English County flags and saints' flags associated with a particular county' can be flown.
The regulations also set out commercial flags that are normally allowed, such as those used by housebuilders and car showrooms. But they state that specific permission has to be granted to fly any other type of flag - such as a Jolly Roger.
Mr Waterman, a former trooper with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, said he believed the complaints made about the flag were linked to a dispute about his children-playing outside. "My kids are well-behaved but there's one set of neighbours who would rather they sat inside playing computer games than run around on the lawn," he said.
"They don't like my kids being outside but they can't complain to anyone about it so they've picked on the flag.
"I can't believe the council is backing them. This is a point of principle and I'm standing firm."
A spokesman for Mole Valley District Council said it had not yet launched legal proceedings against Mr Waterman and would consider his application.
"We received a complaint about the flag flying outside Mr Waterman's house and are duty-bound to investigate complaints and enforce Government regulations," he added.
The term Jolly Roger is used to describe various flags flown to identify a ship's crew as pirates. The Skull and Crossbones is the most famous.
Reported by: Brandon Moseley Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Last Update: 3:11 pm
Weary pirates continue road trip in Florida NORTH LAUDERDALE -- Tired of what they say is mistreatment by the State government, the North Lauderdale City Commission is pushing a resolution that would split Florida into two separate states - North and South.North Lauderdale city leaders say South Florida contributes more tax dollars to the State than they're getting back and are unable to meet all the needs of tax payers.The commission is trying to rev up support by sending out hundreds of resolutions to other South Florida cities and the Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties.The resolution will be up for discussion Wednesday at the City of Margate commission meeting.
Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
April 3rd, 2008
Welcome to Cult On The Cheap month, where we celebrate the DIY outsiders who maxed out their credit cards, sold their plasma, participated in medical experiments, or did whatever else they could to scrape together the paltry sum needed to share their irrepressible vision with the world. Many of these Cinderella stories are a master class in resourceful and innovation, with first-time filmmakers stretching budgets so shoestring that they wouldn't cover craft services on other cheapo independent productions. In the absence of money, these scrappy little movies made the most of things that are free—making bold choices in the editing room, taking advantage of viewers' imaginations, and advancing big ideas over expensive special effects.
Kevin Smith's Clerks is not one of those movies.
Clerks may be the only $25,000 movie ever made that leaves people wondering where all that money went. There's the film stock, of course, but next week's NCC entry, Primer, was shot on 16mm a decade later for a third of the cost. Presumably, the surplus was spent on hookers and blow, because there isn't much to the film—a couple of locations, a small troupe of rank amateurs, no complicated setups, and a mise-en-scène that's only a hair more sophisticated than a day's worth of surveillance-camera footage. And it's not as if Smith's ideas were carrying the day, either: Aside from a thoroughly juvenile treatment of male sexual hang-ups, the film is just a crude assemblage of comic vignettes. Cut one away, and nothing's lost but a few minutes off the running time, which may or may not bother you, depending on how much you'd miss throwaway gags about an egg-obsessed guidance counselor or a virulent pro-gum lobbyist.
So why was Clerks such a sensation? Back in 1994—the first and last time I saw the film until this week—I had no idea. It was just after college, and I was in the perfect mindset to appreciate the film: Much like Dante Hicks, a reasonably intelligent guy mired in a dead-end job, I was logging time doing grunt work at a stone quarry outside Toledo, Ohio. (This is what that Bachelor's Degree in Literature will get you, kids: $8 per hour shoveling limestone sand from under the conveyor belts.) Whenever I had the chance, I'd drive an hour north to Ann Arbor to take in all the arthouse cinema I could (Hoop Dreams, Oleanna, Spanking The Monkey, et al.), and I remember heading up there on a weeknight to see Clerks, knowing full well that I'd pay for it in the morning. The film had come out of Sundance with tremendous momentum, and earned even greater cachet by winning its David vs. Goliath battle with the MPAA, which originally slapped it with an NC-17 for foul language alone. Reviews were good, the theater was packed, and…
I don't think I laughed more than a couple of times. And for the past 14 years, all I could remember about the film was the pick-up hockey game on the roof and the big punchline about Dante's ex-girlfriend's encounter in the bathroom. In the years that have followed, the cult of Kevin Smith has waxed and waned but mostly endured, spinning off into comic books, diaries, and concert appearances, several well-trafficked websites (and many other fan sites), and other assorted merchandise and pop-cultural flotsam. His "View Askewniverse" builds on a mythology not unlike that of the Star Wars movies, only much, much punier—akin to George Lucas basing two sequels and three prequels around the goofy creatures in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Yet for all his lingering deficiencies as a filmmaker, Smith has been expert at finding a cult audience and nurturing it like a delicate flower, one strong enough to weather the cold winter frost of Jersey Girl.
So again, why was Clerks such a sensation? Kevin Smith, obviously. There have been plenty of inspiring DIY success stories in independent film past and present, but Smith remains a special case. He's a true outsider: a Jersey boy who's down-to-earth and fundamentally unpretentious; who likes Star Wars, comic books, and dirty jokes; and who could never be mistaken for a Hollywood phony. Throughout the years, he's been remarkably accessible to friends and foes alike, unchecked by the usual phalanx of agents and publicists who keep artistes away from the common man; say something about Kevin Smith, and damned if the man himself doesn't turn up, Rumpelstiltskin-like, on the message boards to mix it up. Even this non-fan finds him likeable, and trusts that his "one of us" persona isn't a pose.
It isn't as catchy as "May the Force be with you," but there's a line in Clerks that defines Smith's philosophy in a nutshell: "Title does not dictate behavior." As spoken by Randal (Jeff Anderson), the more unruly of two clerks running adjacent convenience and video stores, the line is meant to inspire his mild-mannered cohort Dante (Brian O'Halloran) to break the rules a little. Clerks are supposed to be subservient to the customer, but Randal isn't one to believe that the customer is always right; just because the customers aren't logging time behind the counter at a video store doesn't mean they're superior to the hump who is. And if, say, a mother annoys Randal by asking him about some kid's video for her daughter, he isn't shy about ordering Ass-Worshiping Rim-jobbers in front of them. Dante, on the other hand, is so used to absorbing the petty abuses of his customers that he's come to believe that being a clerk is his sorry lot in life.
"Title does not dictate behavior" also helps explain the Clerks phenomenon, which now seems as revolutionary in its own way as Reservoir Dogs did two years before. Once the province of earnest, buttoned-down indies and imports, the arthouse seemed too hoity-toity a place for movies this rude and ill-behaved. But Clerks, with an assist from the Weinsteins, muscled its way into theaters anyway, creating an audience that hadn't existed previously, and challenging people's expectations of what an art film could be. The odd thing about Smith is that unlike Quentin Tarantino—who legitimized genre pictures for arthouse consumption—he's really just opened the door for himself. It's possible that mainstream American comedies have gotten cruder in the Smith era, but it's hard to think of a single Clerks-inspired independent film that has made it past the straight-to-DVD market.
Plot-wise, there isn't much of consequence to Clerks. It takes place over a day in the life of Dante and Randal, and the only story arc concerns Dante's screwed-up relationships. He's currently seeing Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti), a ball-buster who castigates him about not doing more with his life, but is devoted enough to bring him lasagna and make him one of only three men she's bedded. (Unless he cares to count the 36 others she's blown, including "Snowball," the bearded goofball who likes to taste his own ejaculate after a BJ.) But Dante can't stop thinking about Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer), an ex-girlfriend who appears poised to marry an Asian design major. Will Dante keep chasing Caitlin, whom he's idealized out of proportion to the real thing, or settle for Veronica, who ignites his Madonna-whore complex?
The sexual politics in Clerks are dubious, to put it mildly. It's true that men often have a hard time dealing with their girlfriends' sexual history—a subject that Smith tackled more thoroughly with Chasing Amy, if not necessarily with more maturity. (Noah Baumbach's underrated Mr. Jealousy, made the same year as Amy, did the job with a deftness and wit that seems beyond Smith's capabilities.) But the women in Clerks are broadly sketched, in part because the film spends so much time spinning its wheels with Dante and Randal (and Jay and Silent Bob, for that matter) that it doesn't have time for them. Dante's choice is between The Whore Who Brings Him Lasagna or The Whore Who Fucks The Dead Guy In The Bathroom. To me, the latter is a prime example of sacrificing too much for a joke; rather than find a more subtle way for Dante to deal with his romantic past and present, Smith makes the choice easy by turning his ex-girlfriend into an unwitting necrophiliac.
As a portrait of male friendship, Clerks isn't much better. The dynamic between Dante and Randal isn't that far off from buddies like Dane Cook and Dan Fogler in Good Luck Chuck: The hero is a base, sex-addled doofus, but compared to his Neanderthal best buddy, he's the sensitive guy who deserves our affection. O'Halloran and Anderson aren't skilled enough as actors to serve as more than mouthpieces for Smith's lowbrow gags and bits of philosophy, and they often choke on his reams of dialogue. (Smith has always been praised for his tart screenplays, but to me, he's a writer much too in love with his own voice; his films are littered with scenes that are allowed to drag on several beats longer than they should.) That said, even Anderson can't trample over this fine monologue about the destruction of the Death Star in Return Of The Jedi:
As Star Wars theory goes, that speech is second only to Patton Oswalt's recent riff on the prequels ("At Midnight I Will Kill George Lucas With A Shovel"). It also establishes Smith as a champion of blue-collar types like the poor roofers, aluminum-siders, and other wage slaves who paid the price for their boss' tyranny. A second viewing didn't bring me around to liking Clerks, but Smith's scrappy, workaday roots provide the film's best touches: filling up the newspaper rack with Asbury Park Press papers stolen from the box; the shoe-polish sign assuring customers that the store is open in spite of the gummed-up shutters; the litter box set on the countertop; the pile of change for coffee-and-paper buyers to serve themselves; and the fact that guys like Dante will do anything to keep people from disrupting the numb, dead-eyed inertia that propels him from one day to the next. It's when the movie starts running off at the mouth that things go awry.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Star Wars comes to Holyhead as Darth Vader strikes back in Jedi's back garden
By Tom Chivers
A Star Wars fan got closer to his idols than he would perhaps have liked when he was attacked in his garden by Darth Vader.
Jedi Master Jonba Hehol - known to family and friends as Barney Jones, 36, of Holyhead - was giving a TV interview in his back garden for a documentary when a man, dressed in a black bin-bag and wearing Darth Vader's trademark shiny black helmet, leapt over his garden fence.
Wielding a metal crutch - his lightsaber presumably being in for repairs - the Sith Lord proceeded to lay about his opponent, whose Jedi powers proved inadequate for the task of defending himself.
After besting Master Hehol in single combat, Vader, who The Sun reports was under the influence of alcohol, went on to assault the camera crew and a hairdresser.
Police are investigating a claim of assault.
The Jedi "religion" was born as a joke in the 2001 census, when almost 400,000 people claimed to believe in the Jedi faith.
Based on the teachings of Yoda, the crinkly green dwarf of the films, the "church" has a branch in Florida and plans to open another in the Philippines.
Police said the suit was found inside a Salem bus shelter about 6 a.m. Friday on Wheatland Road North, just south of Parkmeadow Drive Northeast.
The owner was not able to give a dollar value but did state it was taken from her front porch sometime during the early morning hours of March 28th.
After a local television news station aired a photograph of the suit, a woman saw it and claimed it. Police delivered it to her around day.
Wikipedia Hits Milestone of Ten Million Articles Across 250 Languages
Hungarian biography of 16th century painter Nicholas Hilliard declared ten millionth article
San Francisco, California, March 28, 2008
Earlier this week the Wikimedia Foundation reached a significant new milestone: on Thursday, March 27, at 00:07 UTC the official article count for all Wikipedias combined reached 10 million. The ten millionth article, a short biography of 16th century English goldsmith and painter Nicholas Hilliard, was created in the Hungarian Wikipedia by user Pataki Márta.
Wikipedia now boasts articles in more than 250 languages, with the English Wikipedia having the largest number, followed in descending order by the German, French, Polish, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish Wikipedias. The project is also experiencing rapid growth in many young Wikipedias, including Marathi, Tagalog, and Cantonese.
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation remarked on the occasion of this milestone, "It's incredible to think that we've grown from one Wikipedia in English to over 250 language Wikipedias. Ten million articles is something we could never have imagined happening so fast when we embarked on Wikipedia in 2001. This is a testament to the incredible dedication of our volunteers around the world."
In December 2007, the German magazine Stern announced in an independent study of 50 articles that the German Wikipedia was more accurate, complete and up-to-date than the longstanding print encyclopedia Brockhaus. In April 2007, a study conducted by the Hewlett Packard Information Dynamics Laboratory found that the best articles on the English Wikipedia are those that have been edited the most frequently, by the largest number of people. It concluded that the correlation between article quality and the number of edits validates Wikipedia as a successful collaborative effort.
Similar studies around the world continue to point to the increasing accuracy and quality of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that is written, edited and maintained by a global community of thousands of volunteers.
Wikipedia is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable, non-profit organization based in San Francisco, California.
Murders in London mapped after latest death
By staff and agencies
Figures from the Metropolitan Police Service have revealed the density of murders occuring on London's streets, as officers investigate the latest killing of a teenager in the capital.
A 16-year-old has been accused of the murder of a 14-year-old boy, another victim of London's violence crisis.
The boy, of Queens Park, will appear at West London Youth Court on Monday in relation to the death of Amro Elbadawi.
The news came as statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Police Service revealed that more than half of murder victims in the capital last year were from ethnic minority groups.
Amro crawled into a health centre bleeding heavily from his neck, apparently after a petty row with a friend escalated.
Despite the desperate attempts of employees and paramedics to save his life, the teenager died in hospital about an hour later.
The schoolboy was the second teenager to die from a knife wound in the capital that day, which was London's bloodiest day of youth violence this year.
The deaths brought the toll of teenage murders in the capital so far this year to 11.
A total of 26 teenagers were killed last year.
The attacks led to calls from all quarters for a renewed drive to force young people to stop carrying weapons.
Figures for 2007, seen by the Financial Times, show that the borough of Lambeth had the highest murder rate at 23, followed by Newham, which was the scene for 13 murders.
The murder rates, when mapped out, reveal that a large number of homicides take place in socially deprived neighbourhoods.
The middle-class enclaves of Harrow, Richmond, Merton, and Kensington and Chelsea, did not witness any murders last year.
Bark like a dog! 'Coming to America' turns 20
I'm going out on a limb here by saying this: "Coming to America" might be Eddie Murphy's best film ... period. Sure, you want rationale -- in list form, of course.
10 REASONS WHY 'COMING TO AMERICA' IS EDDIE'S BEST FLICK:
10. HELLO AGAIN AND GOODNIGHT: After two slightly subpar showings (Golden Child, Beverly Hills Cop 2), this movie is almost Eddie's swan song. So far, Eddie's only watchable flick after "Coming to America" is "Boomerang" (1992). It's also the last great flick by director John Landis.
9. MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES: This would be the first time Eddie played more than character, tackling Prince Akeem, Clarence the barber, Saul (the old white guy in the barber shop) and Randy Watson, the singer of the band Sexual Chocolate.
8. A NOD TO HIS HERO: Richard Pryor was a big influence on a young Eddie Murphy. So when it came time to pick a name for his fictional African country, Eddie chose "Zamunda" -- a name Pryor used in an old comedy bit.
7. BEST FAKE PRODUCT EVER: "Just let your Soul-Glo!" I dare say just about anyone who ever saw this movie can still sing along to the TV commercial. "Feeling all so silky smooth!" [Watch it again]
6. THEY CAN BE FUNNY TOO: Still not convinced? What about James Earl Jones playing a comedy role? Or future "E.R." moper Eriq La Salle as the "Soul Glo" heir? Brilliant. And you gotta love the cameo performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Louie Anderson. (And the kid getting his hair cut in the barber shop -- Cuba Gooding Jr.)
5. ARSENIO CAN ACT: Even Arsenio Hall, the Bud Abbott of the '80s, shows some rare acting skills here. Whatever happened to him?
4. THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH HIM: Star Wars freaks out there, did you catch James Earl Jones' "Darth Vader" homage? When King Jaffe Joffer comes looking for Akeem, he tells Mr. McDowell, "Do not alert him to my presence. I'll deal with him myself."
3. THE SEQUEL FACTOR: Our fond memory of two other great Murphy flicks -- "48 Hours" and "Beverly Hills Cop" -- is tainted by the criminally awful sequels they spawned. Thankfully, at the end of "Coming To America," everyone lives happily ever after -- sequel-free.
2. "WE'RE BACK!" One of the funniest scenes: The "Duke Brothers" -- Randy and Mortimer -- from 1983's "Trading Places" are bums on the street until former co-star Murphy hands them a bag of money.
1. THE GREAT LINES OF COURSE: "There is a very fine line between love and nausea" ... "Bark like a dog -- a big dog!" ... "My buns have no seeds" ... "The royal penis is clean, your Highness."
Friday, March 21, 2008
Woman Goes for Leg Operation, Gets New Anus Instead
Thursday, March 20, 2008
A German retiree is taking a hospital to court after she went in for a leg operation and got a new anus instead, the Daily Telegraph is reporting.
The woman woke up to find she had been mixed up with another patient suffering from incontinence who was to have surgery on her sphincter.
The clinic in Hochfranken, Bavaria, has since suspended the surgical team.
Now the woman is planning to sue the hospital. She still needs the leg operation and is searching for another hospital to do it.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Space epics almost always play fast and loose with science, treating the laws of physics like suggestions. Sound in space, unprotected bodies splatting in vacuum, and alien planets that all look just like Calabasas. But some movies dismember Newton and Einstein with way more gusto than others. We rated 18 movies based on how many laws of physics they mangled, and here's our report card.
To some extent, it's understandable that space adventures play fast and loose with physics. After all, who wants to watch Han Solo spend years on the journey to Alderaan, only to find that the planet has twice Earth gravity and he can barely stand up, much less swagger?
The categories of mistakes in our report card should be pretty self-explanatory, but just in case, I'll expand on them a little bit:
- There's no sound in space
- Not all planets have Earth gravity
- Planets should have diverse climates, instead of one unified climate across a "desert planet" or "forest planet."
- It shouldn't be too easy to communicate with alien creatures, without some kind of high-technology "translator" explanation.
- And it definitely shouldn't be too easy for humans to interbreed with aliens.
- Humans exposed to vacuum without a spacesuit shouldn't explode or shatter. And a "hull breach" where the ship's crew is exposed to vacuum should kill everyone instantly.
- You can't have fires in space, unless there's oxygen leaking out somehow.
- Asteroids or other objects shouldn't be able to float close together without falling into each other's gravity
- People shouldn't be able to dodge lasers and other speed-of-light weapons
- And there's no reason why someone would move in slow-motion in zero gravity.
- Faster-than-light travel is probably not ever going to be possible.
By the way, we left out Star Trek because there's so much of it, even if you just include the movies, and if you look hard enough you can find places where it violates almost all of these rules. Illustration by Stephanie Fox. Research by Nivair Gabriel.
(FROM VARIETY) – Spider-Man director Sam Raimi and reality vet Jay Bienstock (Survivor, The Apprentice) are developing an unscripted horror-themed show for The CW. The project, titled 13, will see players compete with one another in horror-related challenges until there is one contestant left standing. Bienstock said the inspiration for the show came from horror franchises like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. ''We want to cast it like a horror movie,'' Bienstock told Variety. ''And shoot it a little differently as well. Think about those old movies — we want to put people in a place like that, where they have to deal with their fears and anxieties. They'll end up surprising one another.'' Raimi's horror credits include The Evil Dead, The Gift, and Army of Darkness. (Variety)
Converse To Release Kurt Cobain-Inspired Shoes
Late Nirvana rocker Kurt Cobain is to be commemorated in a series of shoes from footwear manufacturer Converse. The shoes, which so far include a pair of Converse One Tops and several pairs of Converse High-Tops, feature Cobain's autograph and select drawings and writings first published in 2002's Journals scrawled on them.
Morbidly, the black Converse One Tops are the same shoes that Cobain was wearing when he shot himself dead at his Seattle, Washington home in April 1994.
The footwear line, which is being launched to help celebrate Converse's 100th birthday, has the support of Cobain's widow Courtney Love.
Misher producing adaptation of sci-fi novel
By TATIANA SIEGEL
Peter Berg is attached to direct a bigscreen adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel "Dune" for Paramount Pictures.
Kevin Misher, who spent the past year obtaining the book rights from the Herbert estate, will produce via his Par-based shingle.
Herbert's 1965 novel is a sweeping, futuristic tale set on the remote desert planet Arrakis, which produces the interstellar empire's sole source of the spice Melange -- used for distant space travel. An empirewide power struggle ensues over the control of the spice. Berg would be the latest helmer to take a crack at the property, which spawned a 1984 David Lynch film as well as a 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries starring William Hurt.
The project is out to writers, with the producers looking for a faithful adaptation of the Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning book. The filmmakers consider its theme of finite ecological resources particularly timely.
New Amsterdam's Richard Rubenstein, who produced Sci Fi's "Dune" and sequel "Children of Dune," is also producing alongside Sarah Aubrey of Film 44, Berg's production banner. John Harrison and Mike Messina exec produce.
Paramount envisions the project as a tentpole film.
Berg and Misher enjoy strong ties dating back to Misher's executive days at Universal Pictures. Misher also produced Berg's second directorial outing, "The Rundown."
Actor-turned-helmer Berg most recently directed the upcoming Will Smith starrer "Hancock." His directing credits include "The Kingdom" and "Friday Night Lights."
Mar. 17, 2008 10:26 AM
Daniel Radcliffe's friends are pleading with him to quit his "disgusting" 20-a-day cigarette habit.
The 18-year-old actor - who is currently filming 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' - has become so addicted to nicotine he has been nicknamed 'Harry Puffer' by his co-stars.
A source said: "Daniel has been smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day. Every time they call 'cut', he lights up. It's disgusting. Friends, including co-stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, have been warning him about the dangers of smoking. But he doesn't take any notice."
Daniel reportedly got through a whole pack of cigarettes when he had to film a difficult stunt last week.
The insider added to Britain's The Sun newspaper: "He was really nervous about the scene and was sparking up constantly."
Movie bosses are said to be worried Daniel's habit could tarnish his schoolboy image and have reportedly told him not to smoke in public.
However, their warnings have fallen on deaf ears and Daniel is still said to be "smoking like a trooper" on nights out.
The source said: "He's been having late nights out with stars including Kevin Spacey and Stephen Fry and been puffing up a storm.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Tom Kington in Rome
Friday March 14 2008
About this articleClose
This article appeared in the Guardian on Friday March 14 2008 on p29 of the International section. It was last updated at 10:28 on March 14 2008.
A Sicilian tour guide who got fed up with answering the same questions about the mafia has written a pocket-sized book he thinks visitors will be unable to refuse.
The Mafia Explained to Tourists - which has been published in Italian, English, Japanese, German, Spanish and French - tackles questions such as: what a mafioso looks like, whether the mafia will exist forever and "why haven't we seen a shoot-out in our 10 days here?"
"I included the 10 questions I am always asked, so from now I can just hand out the book," said Augusto Cavadi, a Palermo-based guide and mafia scholar.
The template for his 55-page, €5.50 (£4.20) book was the frequently asked questions section in a washing machine manual. Responding to the question, how is it possible that 5 million Sicilians cannot defeat 5,000 mafiosi?, Cavadi tries to explain the "grey zone" in Sicily, which consists of those who are not part of the mafia but turn a blind eye to its activities. He also lists books and films which present the mafia realistically.
Cavadi said his book was just as suitable for Italians as for foreign tourists: "Italians sometimes insist there are 'good' mafiosi who do not kill, as well as 'bad' mafiosi."
To clear up any doubt on the matter, the book contains the question: is it true the mafia will not kill priests?
"They certainly kill them when they take a stand against the mafia," he said.
As for mobster spotting, Cavadi said it was not straightforward. "They are usually elegant and polite and move in high circles," he said. "I have known dozens, but only found out years later they were mafiosi when they were arrested. It was 15 years before I figured out my apartment building was owned by a mob family."
The veteran movie star wants to clear any confusion about those responsible for the road trip movie before the film's 40th anniversary celebrations next year.
He says, "I wrote and directed 'Easy Rider' with Peter. Terry Southern, who gets a writers credit, broke his hip and he didn't write anything. He gave us the title, 'Easy Rider,' but I called it 'The Loners.' Peter and I talked out the screenplay and then I wrote it. We made it for $340,000 all across the United States, and filmed it in four and a half weeks.
"After it became famous, there was a hundred million people who took credit for making it. I don't know how that happened."
And there's another Easy Rider myth Hopper would like to address - the fact that the film was a chaotic mess of edits and reshoots.
He adds, "All the crazy talk about how unprepared we were wasn't true. It took a year for me to edit it because I had so much film. That's it."
Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:29am EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Bros. has conjured up some Hollywood magic for the final installment of the wildly popular "Harry Potter" movies, splitting the seventh and final book into two films, the movie studio said on Thursday.
Part one of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will debut in late 2010 and be followed months later by part two.
"We feel that the best way to do the book, and its many fans, justice is to expand the screen adaptation of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' and release the film in two parts," Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.
The first five films in the series have been huge hits with a total global box office nearing $4.5 billion. The sixth movie is now being filmed.
The movies are based on British author J.K. Rowling's best-selling fantasy novels about the adventures of boy wizard Harry Potter and his friends as they grow from kids into teenagers at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
"Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final book in Rowling's series, was published last July to huge fanfare, selling some 11.5 million copies in its first 10 days in the United States.
But the final volume is a long saga at more than 750 pages, and it is filled with many twists and turns as Harry and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley wrap up their story lines. Harry faces -- once and for all times -- the dark Lord Voldemort who murdered his parents.
Because of the many adventures in "Deathly Hallows," Rowling, the movies' producers and Warner Bros. all agreed that two movies were necessary to truly tell the end story.
"'The Deathly Hallows' is so rich, the story so dense and there is so much that is resolved that after discussing it with Jo, we came to the conclusion that the two parts were needed to do it justice," said producer David Heyman, who first took the project to Warner Bros. in 1997.
The books and movies also have been a huge money maker beyond theater box offices and DVDs. They have spawned products from toys to T-shirts to a planned theme park.
By some estimates, "Harry Potter" represents a $20 billion business, so an eighth film will likely only expand the enterprise.
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, and his co-stars Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) are now filming the sixth movie -- "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." All three have said they would appear in "Deathly Hallows."
Warner Bros. is a unit of media giant Time Warner Inc.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and John O'Callaghan)
Category: Posted on: March 13, 2008 9:16 AM, by Ed Brayton
Found this at Pam's House Blend. It's a letter from a high school senior whose mother died in the Oklahoma City bombing. He's not happy about Kern claiming that gays are worse than terrorists and he tells her so with great eloquence. Full text below the fold:
On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.
That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.
As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you.
I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother's killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.
As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.
You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?
I've spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there's never a day in school that has went by when I haven't heard the word **** slung at someone. I've been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?
Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.
I wish you could've met my mom. Maybe she could've guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking.
I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring. Now she won't be there. So I'll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again. I don't want to be here for that. I just can't go through that again.
You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.
What is it with kids writing brilliant letters these days? Whatever it is, let's see more of it. Nice job, Tucker.