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“Pops, it doesn’t look like I can go straight after all.”

thanks to B. Dickinson

Posted on March 30, 2009 by Editor

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Cocks and Balls Fallling Out Of Favor

from The Times Online

Rudest names from the Middle Ages are dying from embarrassment

They are some of the oldest surnames in the land, passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. But over the past century or so, they have gone into a catastrophic decline.

cocke.pngIs it migration? Death? Disease? Some socio-demographic calamity that has befallen these families? Perhaps not. A list of the names reveals that their fall in popularity may have a more prosaic cause.

Cock, Daft, Death, Smellie, not to mention Gotobed, Shufflebottom and Jelly: they are all surnames that would have caused their owners considerable embarrassment over the years. A new analysis of British surnames reveals how names with rude overtones have seen the sharpest decline over the past 120 years as their owners have changed them to something more innocuous.

A comparison of the 2008 population — using data from a variety of sources — with the first census in 1881 shows that the number of Cocks has shrunk by 75 per cent, while the number of people called Balls or Daft has fallen by more than 50 per cent.

[ click to continue reading at Times Online ]

Posted on March 30, 2009 by Editor

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It’s About The Art Not The Macho Macho

from the SJ Mercury News

Teen tagging freeway median dead after being run over by several vehicles

 Associated Press

RUBIDOUX, Calif. — A teenager seen tagging the center divider of a freeway in Rubidoux was killed after being hit by a car and run over by several other vehicles.

The California Highway Patrol says 17-year-old Blake Locko of Riverside was pronounced dead at the scene on Highway 60 early Saturday. Locko and another person were standing in the westbound carpool lane when he was struck by a Saturn sedan, flew over the divider into the eastbound carpool lane where he was hit by several vehicles.

The driver of the Saturn was taken to a hospital with moderate neck injuries.

[ click to read at mercurynews.com ]

Posted on March 30, 2009 by Editor

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Ay, Mates – Cane Toads Are People, Too.

from The UK Guardian

Amphibious warfare: Australians offered prizes in cane toad cull

Pests threaten native species, say Queensland authorities

 

Cane toad

The cane toad has become one of the most hated pests in Australia. Photograph: Bob Elsdale/Getty Images

Introduced as part of a misguided attempt to control beetle infestation, the poisonous cane toad quickly supplanted its intended prey as one of the most destructive and hated creatures in Australia.

Now Queensland authorities believe the collective loathing in which they are held will galvanise residents into taking part in a mass cull on Saturday night.

Townsville council wants people to track down and bag up the toads, which breed rapidly, eat voraciously and kill most animals that dare to eat them.

The live animals should then be taken to a collection point the following day where they will be weighed and either frozen or gassed to death, with the carcasses turned into fertiliser.

Only unharmed animals will be accepted according to the rules of theToad Day Out event.

Toad Day Out organisers are offering prizes for people with the biggest toad and the highest total weight of toads. Goodies range from cane toad trophies – made of stuffed cane toads – to a gift certificate for a local resort.

Aware that an annual event may not be enough to satisfy local population control demands, the council offers advice on how to freeze the animals to death at home.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has applauded the effort – with one caveat. “We’re only supportive of the plan if the toads are killed humanely – in other words, they’re not hit with baseball bats or cricket bats and golf clubs,” said spokesman Michael Beatty.

[ click to read full horrid piece at The Guardian ]

Posted on March 29, 2009 by Editor

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Sweet Sober Winehouse @ 17

Posted on March 28, 2009 by Editor

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There Is Always Reason Somewhere

from People

Natasha Richardson’s Story Saves Girl’s Life

By Ken Lee

Natasha Richardson’s tragic death after a skiing accident has spawned at least one happy ending: It inadvertently saved the life of a little girl.

nrich.pngAfter 7-year-old Morgan McCracken of Mentor, Ohio, had been accidentally hit in the head by a baseball last week, she seemed fine for the following two days. “She had no symptoms,” her father Donald tells CNN. “She went to school both days and got an A on her spelling test as usual. There were no issues whatsoever.”

But after he and wife Connie heard about Natasha Richardson’s tragedy on the news, they realized their daughter could be in grave danger. “Because of Natasha, we called the pediatrician immediately,” Donald said. “And by the time I got off the phone with him, Morgan was sobbing, her head hurt so much.”

After Morgan was helicoptered to a children’s hospital in Cleveland, the chief of pediatric neurosurgery, Dr. Alan Cohen, informed the McCrackens their daughter had the same injury that killed Richardson: an epidural hematoma.

“My heart sank. It just sank,” Donald says.

But now, after undergoing surgery and remaining hospitalized for five days, little Morgan is back home and doing just fine. “Dr. Cohen told us that if we hadn’t brought her in Thursday night, she never would have woken up,” says Donald.

[ click to read at People.com ]

Posted on March 28, 2009 by Editor

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Memoir as fact – or fiction

from the Irish Times

Memoir as fact – or fiction

Thu, Mar 19, 2009

James Frey acquired an unenviable literary infamy when large parts of his bestselling memoir were revealed to be fiction. He talks to Fiona McCann about resurrecting his career

SO THIS IS the US’s most notorious writer? The man who “duped” Oprah, who, in her words, “betrayed millions of readers”? The man whose author pictures on the press release for his new book display him bare-chested and tattooed, proudly hoisting two middle fingers to the world? Can this man drinking iced water in the drawing room of Dublin’s Merrion Hotel, dressed in a buttoned-down shirt, beige pants and spotless white Adidas runners, truly be the bad boy of the American book world?

James Frey in person – quietly spoken, with a hint of a lisp – does not immediately fit my preconceptions of the author of A Million Tiny Pieces , a memoir about his recovery from addiction which was given the Oprah Winfrey imprimatur for inclusion in her lucrative book club. When the news emerged that Frey had exaggerated some events in the book and invented others, the chat-show queen requested an appearance on her show, where she dressed him down in front of millions of viewers. Soon after his public castigation, his literary manager dropped him, and his publishers pulled out of an agreed book deal.

Frey, who by that time had already published the follow-up, My Friend Leonard , and sold millions of books, was suddenly persona non grata. So what did he do? He wrote another book, one he describes as a “love letter” to Los Angeles, called Bright Shiny Morning . And just in case we were in any doubt, the first page elucidates that: “Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable.”

He may appear diffident, initially, almost demure, but Frey is at pains to point out that this opening line is where “I lift my middle fingers to all my detractors and I say ‘come kiss my ass, boy’ ”.

The bad boy is back, with a book he says is “about what the American dream is in the 21st century”, a dream represented by Los Angeles itself, Bright Shiny Morning’s protagonist. Chasing, and in some cases living, this dream are two small-town kids looking for a new start, a homeless drunk with a conscience, the daughter of immigrant Mexicans working her way through college as a maid, and a successful film star with a secret. As characters, they’ve been decried as cliches, although, according to Frey, it all depends on their treatment.

“These are recognisable archetypes of the city, but nobody’s ever told the story of them, nobody’s every really taken them seriously,” he says. “I try to take them seriously, not treat them as cliches but as people who have stories and who have lives, and whose stories mean something.”

Their stories are spliced with the history, geography and vital statistics of the city they inhabit, along with lists of gang names, natural disasters and “fun facts” about LA, not all of which, it turns out, are facts at all.

“Some of them actually are fiction,” admits Frey. “Some of the history is just made up, and some of the statistics are just made up.”

Lies, damn lies indeed, yet observing the rules of one genre or another isn’t something that concerns this writer. “What matters is the story that’s being told,” he says with growing animation. “What matters is ‘Do I entertain a reader? Do I inform them? Do I change them in some way?’ ”

WHATEVER HE IS doing with Bright Shiny Morning has had critics at loggerheads, with reviews either unrestrainedly effusive or excoriating. Which is fine by Frey.

“What I’m not going to be cool with is if somebody reads one of my books and just says, ‘Meh, it’s okay’.” he says. “I want a strong reaction one way or another. If I can invoke great feeling, whether it’s positive or negative, then that’s good. That’s what art should do.”

And Frey is making art, as he sees it; not memoir, not fiction, but literature. “I don’t care about the labels. I write books, I tell stories,” he says. “I aspire to create literature, so, if anything, is a work of literature.”

Though he himself may categorise his output as literature, it has not always been received as such, to Frey’s evident delight. “Most of the writers I love weren’t embraced by the American literary establishment,” he says, naming Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski among them. “They weren’t part of the high-minded literati, and I’m definitely not, and I’m perfectly comfortable living and working outside of it.”

Frey places himself within the tradition of such celebrated writers without a trace of self- consciousness. Undeterred by the fact that he is a rich thirtysomething with a wife, two kids and a “very normal life in New York city”, he clearly revels in the notion of his own notoriety.

“I’m comfortable in that space. If you look at the writers I love, all of them were considered during their lifetimes, while they were working. And I wanted to work within that tradition, so that’s the place I am. I’m happy there.”

It smacks of hubris, and he knows it. “People say I’m cocky,” he admits. “I don’t feel like I’m cocky, I don’t feel like I’m arrogant.” Even though he has just dropped his own name in a sentence with Bukowski, Baudelaire and Joyce? “I don’t say I’m Henry Miller or James Joyce or Norman Mailer,” he clarifies. “I say I’m busting my ass and working really hard to try to achieve what they achieved. We’ll see if I do it. We’ll see. I believe I can.”

No sign of doubt there, but plenty of defiance. “I’ve had a lot of bad times in my life, and I’ve survived them all. I’ve had hideous times personally, I’ve had hideous times professionally, and I’m still here, I’m still standing.”

Frey is clearly proud of how he has not only beaten his addictions and pieced his personal life back together, but taken on the queen of the American small screen and lived to tell more tales. “I’m still working, I’m still doing what I want, how I want, saying what I want, living how I want, you know. I’m still doing it.”

It’s hard not to admire Frey’s audacity, the cheek and chutzpah that kept him writing after being so publicly cast out. “I wasn’t going to give anybody the satisfaction of letting them think that they’d beaten me. I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of letting them think that whatever they had to say about me affected me or stopped me or hurt me. If anything, it was another challenge. It was ‘all right, they think I’m done, it’s time to prove them wrong’.”

It’s a challenge he clearly relishes, and although Frey’s self-championing as a challenger of the system is grating, it’s easy to understand why his ostracisation by the arbiters of bestsellerdom came as a relief.

“I can tell you when all the Oprah stuff was happening, I wasn’t comfortable being placed on this pedestal of ‘Recovery Superman’. I never wanted that,” he says. He has a point. “ A Million Little Pieces was designed to be a gob of spit in the face of the self-help industry. It attacked everything that that industry considers holy. And at a certain point it got co-opted by that and became a part of it, and I was horrified. I wasn’t happy that this work, this book that I considered a work of art, got turned into something it wasn’t. So when the controversy happened, I was happy that, although it was personally difficult to deal with, it placed the book back into the space it belongs in, which is literature, literary art.”

IT’S NOT HARD to imagine how unnerving it must have been to see a work in which he calls himself a criminal repeatedly being embraced by daytime television viewers across the US, yet there is something in Frey that is a little too in love with his banishment from the book clubs of the world.

“I wanted to be a guy who writes books that break boundaries and break rules and go into places that other writers haven’t gone,” he says, reminding me that Time magazine recently referred to him as “America’s most notorious author”. “I saw and I was like, ‘all right, it’s worked out’, ” he says with no small pride.

He may have come out fighting from the Oprah showdown, but he is eager to move beyond it. “I think it was a weird moment in America,” he says. “And I think it will be a part of my life, that chapter, but I don’t think it’s gonna be the only thing.”

Yet if the Oprah incident is truly behind him, how does he explain a passage in Bright Shiny Morning , only included in the paperback edition, where a character goes through a pointedly similar experience? In the pages in question, the character, referred to only in the third person, receives a telephone call from the host of the show in question: “What she told him directly contradicted all of her public statements . . . He taped everything.” It appears to be a blatant reference to his own experiences with Oprah Winfrey, or is Frey back to his old tricks again?

“I’m not going to get into specifics related to me and Oprah that haven’t been made public already,” he says. Frey is suddenly coy, or is this apparent circumspection simply another way of courting controversy? This is, after all, his chance to get a proper dig at the woman who pulled no punches when she had hers. So is he going to tell us the truth behind this particular story? “Not as long as that tape recorder is on.” So I turn it off.

Bright Shiny Morning , by James Frey, is now available in paperback, published by John Murray, £7.99

© 2009 The Irish Times

[ click to read at IrishTimes.com ]

Posted on March 26, 2009 by Editor

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No.

from Newsweek

The End of Verse?

A recent NEA report finds fiction reading on the rise, while readership of poetry has dropped significantly. Is an art form dying?

Marc Bain

Newsweek Web Exclusive

In January, the National Endowment for the Arts released a report titled “Reading on the Rise,” announcing that the number of American adults reading fiction had increased for the first time since the NEA began tracking reading habits in 1982. According to the report, 50.2 percent of adults had read a work of fiction in the previous year, compared with just 46.7 percent in 2002. The results were greeted with a mixture of excitement and caution by education experts. Some saw them as the long-awaited reversal of the trend toward a dumber, TV-obsessed United States; others, more wary, called them a statistical blip. Almost as an afterthought, the report also noted that the number of adults reading poetry had continued to decline, bringing poetry’s readership to its lowest point in at least 16 years.

The dismal poetry findings stand in sharp contrast not only to the rise in general fiction reading, but also to the efforts of the country’s many poetry-advocacy organizations, which for the past dozen years have been creating programs to attract larger audiences. These programs are at least in part a response to the growing sense that poetry is being forgotten in the U.S.

[ click to continue reading at Newsweek.com ]

Posted on March 26, 2009 by Editor

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The Hazards Of Snorkeling

from Cyber Diver News Network

Dynamite fishermen accidentally kill diver

by EVAN T. ALLARD @ CDNN – CYBER DIVER News Network

PHU CU, Vietnam (24 Mar 2009) — Police arrested four fishermen who accidentally killed a diver with explosives.

Police officials in the Phu Cu District in the central province of Binh Dinh told CDNN the Coast Guard heard an explosion and caught the fishermen who tried to escape.

The fishermen told police they saw bubbles and movement under the surface and thought it was a large fish.

One of the fishermen tossed dynamite into the water and after it exploded the group jumped into the water but instead of finding a fish, they found the body of the dead diver.

Dynamite fishing, which severely damages coral reefs, is illegal in Vietnam but a common practice.

Nguyen Ngoc Liem, head of the Phu Cu District police department, said the fishermen would be charged with killing the diver and destroying aquatic resources with the illegal use of explosives.

[ click to read at CDNN ]

Posted on March 26, 2009 by Editor

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Thieves!

from The Associated Press via NewsMax

Yale Sues to Keep Van Gogh’s ‘The Night Cafe’

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 6:03 PM

 


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale University is suing to hang onto one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous works.

The Ivy League university sued Tuesday in federal court in Connecticut to assert its ownership rights over “The Night Cafe.” It also seeks to block a descendant of the original owner from claiming it.

Pierre Konowaloff of France says he is the great-grandson of industrialist and aristocrat Ivan Morozov, who owned the painting in 1918.

Russia nationalized Morozov’s property during the Communist revolution. The painting now hangs in the Yale University Art Gallery.

The school says it wants to remove any cloud over its ownership.

 

© 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

[ click to read at Newsmax.com ]

Posted on March 26, 2009 by Editor

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Let Pissing Dogs Plot

Posted on March 25, 2009 by MJS

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“Señora, you’ve earned a spot in heaven.”

from the Los Angeles Times

HECTOR TOBAR:

Outpost of literature feeds the body and the mind

Bookstore and restaurant

 

Stefano Paltera, For The Times

Sandra Romero of Mama’s Hot Tamales offered space to Librería Hispanoamérica in hopes that they can help one another survive the economic downturn.

Hector Tobar, March 24, 2009

Somewhere up in poet heaven, Roque Dalton is a happy man.

Just across the street from MacArthur Park, the town square of Central American immigrants in Los Angeles, a tiny storefront has an entire shelf dedicated to the works of the Salvadoran writer, who died in 1975.

Dalton’s poems celebrate the tenacity of Salvadorans and their diaspora across the Americas. If his books had eyes, they could look through the store’s glass window and see his countrymen hawking snow cones and tacos outside.

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lives inside the Librería Hispanoamérica too. His “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” is a popular item there, as is the work of another Nobel laureate, the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Angel Asturias.

Spotting great literature in the shadow of the park’s aging palm trees, in a corner of the city once infamous for the sale of crack cocaine and sex, felt at first like stumbling upon a mirage.

One of the local alcoholics thought so too. First, he wandered over from the park’s lawns and skeptically inspected the freshly swept sidewalks in front of the bookstore. Then, persuaded they were real, he stepped inside.

Señora, you’ve earned a spot in heaven,” he told owner Aura Quezada. “Because in this place where everyone opens liquor stores, you have opened a bookstore.”

[ click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Editor

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“Their weapons are their canes…”

from the Sun Journal

Cane-Fu fighting

 , 

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. – Pay no mind to the groans that come with stretching, to hair that is gray or gone altogether. Ignore the cautiousness of their steps and the canes in their hands.

These seniors are ready to fight.

A rainbow of martial arts belts dangles above the mirror along one wall of this small dojo; swords, nunchuks and sickles hang near the front. Punching bags and torso targets line the room, but they’ll need none of these. Their weapons are their canes.

At the helm of the class is one of the country’s most recognized cane fighters, Mark Shuey, a slight man who, at 62, has hair and skin starting to show signs of age. He has traveled from Lake Tahoe, Nev., to teach this group of 16 how to protect themselves from attackers.

He calls it Cane-Fu.

Cane fighting classes have popped up all over the country, in part due to the influence of Cane Masters, the company Shuey founded that sells wood canes made of harder, thicker wood, to sustain wear and wider crooks to fit around an attacker’s neck. Now, it’s being offered at dojos and increasingly in senior centers and retirement communities.

“You don’t have to be powerful, you don’t have to be fast,” said Gary Hernandez, who runs the dojo here northeast of Tampa where the session was held and where he teaches cane fighting classes himself. “It’s a piece of hard wood. It hurts.”

[ click to continue reading at the Sun Journal ]

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Editor

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The Amazing Somchai

from BBC News

 

Thai ‘Spider-Man’ to the rescue

An unusual disguise has helped a Bangkok fireman rescue an eight-year-old boy who had climbed on to a third-floor window ledge, Thai police say.

The firefighter dressed up as the comic book superhero Spider-Man in order to coax the boy, who is autistic, from his dangerous perch.

Police said teachers had alerted the fire station after the boy began crying and climbed out of a classroom window.

It was reportedly his first day at the special needs school.

Efforts by the teachers to persuade the pupil to come back inside had failed.

But a remark by his mother about his passion for comic superheroes prompted fireman Somchai Yoosabai to rush back to the station, where he kept a Spider-Man costume in his locker.

The sight of Mr Somchai dressed as Spider-Man and holding a glass of juice for him, brought a big smile to the boy’s face, and he promptly threw himself into the arms of his “superhero”, police said.

[ click to read at BBC.co.uk ]

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Editor

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T.J. Clark Has A Go At Pablo

from The Washington Post

Shades of Meaning at First Blush

Sunday, March 22, 2009; E06

To watch a great art thinker’s mind at work, we asked T.J. Clark to have a go at a Picasso that he hadn’t known before, an untitled still life from 1918. It hangs in the East Building of the National Gallery, just two floors up from where Clark’s Mellon lectures will begin today.

clarkpablo.png

THE BLACK

Clark had never really thought about Picasso’s still life until we put him face to face with it. In reproductions that he’s glimpsed, he’s found the whole thing “terribly jolly.” Not praise, coming from Clark. Standing in front of it, he’s immediately struck by the “extraordinary black border” that wraps around three sides. That makes the whole scene graver, he says, noting how Picasso’s black border creates a special tension between the “lighthearted bric-a-brac” that fills the painting’s table and a sense of “grim confinement.”

Coming very close to the painting, Clark points out how the dark paint actually covers areas in its bottom half that were once the same lively turquoise found on the painting’s vase and cards. (The earlier paint peeks through cracks in the darker tones laid overtop.) Picasso, standing before his half-finished picture, seems to have had the same concerns about its “jolliness” as Clark.

Once Picasso had revised and completed the picture, Clark notes, he laid down a blood-red signature that crosses over between dark border and bright scene, laying claim to both.

THE SPACE

Clark is interested in the confined spaces and interiors you get in Picasso. Even when a picture’s so kaleidoscopic that you can’t make out the objects in it, he says, Picasso almost always gives a sense of the domestic space they’re in. And, of course, you get just such a space in this picture’s view into the corner of a room. Picasso, the great hater of abstraction, was always committed to delivering “something solid and felt,” says Clar

Stepping far back from the picture, Clark shows how well Picasso has achieved his end: What had looked like cubist complexities from up close resolve into a clear sense of a cluttered table standing in a corner with a chair. However close a Picasso painting comes to abstract pattern, says Clark, it has to “relate to some particular situation” in the real world.

Rather than dwelling on making each distinct object clear and visible, that is, Picasso “wants to show us the way things in a certain world fit together.” Picasso asks himself: “How imperiously can I play with these particular identities and still have them contribute to an overall interior?”

THE PAST

For all its radically modern look, says Clark, the enclosed world seen in Picasso’s pictures is essentially nostalgic. They depict the cozy world of a 19th-century bourgeois. For Picasso, Clark says, the bourgeoisie is a social force that is “both confining and wonderful”: His interiors register that confinement, but they also revel in the comforts and objects that they gather into “the familiar space of the room.”

Picasso had painted such old-fashioned rooms even when he was living in the mess of his unheated studio at the Bateau Lavoir. By 1918, when he’s actually achieved the comforts of the bourgeoisie, he seems to step back from them — to frame them in black and hold them up to sight.

THE OBJECTS

Picasso depicts the “stock properties” of bohemian sociability: guitar, sheet music, cards, fruit bowl, even maybe an absinthe spoon and glass at the front edge of the table. They are, says Clark, “utterly banal and familiar things — they stand for the sufficiency of the bohemian world.”

That world is “a mixture of the celebratory and the down-at-heels,” says Clark. “Never was a carpet less luxurious — or the stuffing in a chair.” Although, in a typically Picassoid oxymoron, that down-at-heels carpet is also the one place in the painting where the artist resorts to showy brushwork.

By 1918, however, this very successful painter barely had a foot left in bohemia: His still life is looking back at something the artist has lost. The longer we look at the painting, Clark says, the more clearly it seems to be about “its stock properties being stock.” Its vase and playing cards are cartoons of themselves, the fruit in its fruit bowl become four black-edged blobs of pink. “Never has fruit been more vestigial.”

THE MOMENT

1918 wasn’t a good year for Europe, exhausted by a four-year war. If the painting wears black, that could be why.

Yet Clark insists that the picture is not portentous or histrionically doom-laden. Clark could imagine someone asking, “How dare a painter paint cards and a guitar in 1918 — how can this painting be other than trivial?” And that’s the question Picasso answers, in a painting of “tremendous gravity.” Picasso, says Clark, wants us to “enter its world of familiar delights, but full of a sense of that world being something to struggle for.”

THE ARTIST

The great achievements of cubism were over when this still life was painted, and there was a real risk that the movement was becoming empty style. “He knows that the moves are becoming too preestablished,” Clark says. This last moment of cubism has the “terminal flavor” of “a language tremendously conscious of itself as a language, on the verge of just sedimenting up.” The airless, lightless scene in this 1918 still life, says Clark, “is on the verge of not being vivid.”

Clark wonders if Picasso uses the black border on this picture to show that he’s aware of this. His border presents the scene as a work of art, as a framed picture, rather than as an unmediated view into a real portion of real space. That is, the painter is letting us know that he knows that his moves are starting to be more about painting than about the vivid world that they once showed.

Whereas earlier, fully cubist pictures, which tended to trail off into open blankness at their sides, had simply let us sense their space, without all the editorializing.

In this still life, then, Picasso’s sense of space has started to register as a particular sense of confinement — the confinement of a painter who feels trapped in an artistic style, too far from reality and truth.

— Blake Gopnik

[ click to read at WaPo.com ]

Posted on March 24, 2009 by Editor

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“10 kids in a cadillac…”

from Ananova

New watch ‘tells the future’

Swiss watch-makers have teamed up with Indian fortune tellers to design a watch that claims to predict the future.

The watch features a bedpan-shaped section which turns brown when “the s*** is about to hit the fan”, claim the makers.

Swiss makers Borgeaud say the bedpan turns brown when dark astral forces are about to strike and will not clear until the bad omens have passed.

The watchmakers say it will warn anyone when misfortune is about to strike.

And they are predicting the limited edition watches – there are 500 for women and 150 for men which cost more than £1,500 each – will prove a hit with celebrities and even politicians.

[ click to read at Ananova.com ]

Posted on March 24, 2009 by Editor

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Chihuahua Named Pebbles Saves Hot Dwarf In Dense Forest From Hypothermia

from the UK Telegraph

3ft 8ins woman saved by chihuahua

A 3ft 8ins tall woman who got lost while walking in Snowdonia only survived because her pet chihuahua kept her warm, rescuers said.

Beverley Burkitt, 45, who has dwarfism, became lost in dense forest while walking with her tiny dog Pebbles on Sunday.

The alarm was raised but she had not been found when night fell, so she lay on the floor and cuddled the dog to keep herself warm.

A search party found her the next morning and rescuers said the dog had saved her from getting hypothermia.

Mum-of-one Beverley said: “Pebbles lay across my legs overnight and kept me warm.

Beverley and her daughter, 15, were staying at a pony trekking centre at Dolwyddelan, North Wales, when she went missing.

She told rescuers that she strayed into woodland and then dropped her mobile phone.

A helicopter with heat-seeking cameras was launched and search parties on the ground scoured the area.

Asthma sufferer Beverley, of Colwyn Bay, North Wales, was found still snuggling up to the long-haired black and white chihuahua.

[ click to continue reading at The Telegraph ]

Posted on March 24, 2009 by Editor

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A True Revival

from The New Yorker

TURF WARS

“West Side Story” and “God of Carnage” on Broadway.

by John LahrMARCH 30, 2009

Gangs of New York: Karen Olivo, Josefina Scaglione, and Matt Cavenaugh star in Arthur Laurents’s bold revival.

West Side Story” (at the Palace, under the sure-handed direction of Arthur Laurents, who wrote the musical’s original book) is so exciting it makes you ache with pleasure. All the defining forces of the American fifties—velocity, mobility, confidence—are condensed into this superb retelling of the Romeo and Juliet legend, which plays out against the background of Latino-versus-Anglo gang violence. Like the tail fins on fifties American cars or the parabolic shapes of Populuxe furniture, “West Side Story” incarnates the dream of momentum in the golden age of the twentieth century. Everything about the show is streamlined: the fluid jolt of Jerome Robbins’s choreography; the exhilarating syncopation of Leonard Bernstein’s symphonic score; the bravura concision of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics; the swiftness of Laurents’s storytelling—the book is one of the shortest in the history of the musical. The début of the show, in 1957—a production I saw—also marked the moment when the musical asserted its right to treat just about any subject (murder, rape, bigotry) as grist for popular entertainment. “West Side Story” is somehow both airborne and transcendent.

[ click to continue reading at NewYorker.com ]

Posted on March 23, 2009 by Editor

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THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE is 50 Years Old

from Bartleby.com

The Elements of Style

William Strunk, Jr.

Asserting that one must first know the rules to break them, this classic reference book is a must-have for any student and conscientious writer. Intended for use in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature, it gives in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates attention on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.

Posted on March 23, 2009 by Editor

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Sylvia Plath’s Son Commits Suicide

from the Times Online

Nicholas Hughes, Sylvia Plath’s son commits suicide

plathson.png

[ click to continue reading at the TimesOnline ]

Posted on March 23, 2009 by Editor

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Mo Gabba Gabba

from the NY Daily News

London cab driver linked to more than 200 passenger rapes

Saturday, March 14th 2009, 9:24 PM

picture-1.pngLondon cabbie convicted of luring women into his black taxi, addling them with a date-rape drug and raping them may have attacked more than 200 victims.

Officially, cops have linked John Worboys to 85 assaults between 2002 and 2008, but investigators say he’s responsible for at least twice as many.

“He is probably the most prolific sex offender caught in the U.K. to date,” a police source told the London Sun. “It’s safe to say he has claimed at least 200 victims.”

A former stripper and porn actor, Worboys stalked clubs, offering party girls champagne to celebrate a bogus lottery win. The bubbly was spiked and would knock them unconscious.

After the 51-year-old was arrested in 2007, he was released on bail and attacked three dozen more women, the paper reported. He was convicted last week on 19 charges.

[ click to read at NYDailyNews.com ]

Posted on March 22, 2009 by Editor

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13 Most Beautiful

Posted on March 22, 2009 by Editor

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The Art Of The Wait

from the LA Times

Waiting tables is an art: 4 veteran L.A. servers who know

Seasoned pros take a craftsmanlike approach to their jobs at landmark L.A. restaurants.

By Betty Hallock5:01 PM PDT, March 17, 2009

Good waiters — no, they haven’t disappeared, no matter how it might seem to anyone who has felt like just another check average.

maitre.pngMeet old school: Vladimir Bezak, Manny Felix, Sergio Guerra and Pablo Zelaya. Among them, they have provided more than 100 years of service to countless diners across Los Angeles, their days measured in ice-cold dry martinis and perfectly cooked medium-rare steaks. Wars (including those against calories and carbohydrates) have been waged, presidents (and chefs) have come and gone, and meanwhile, they’ve looked after their customers down to the last detail, special requests indulged, cups of coffee refilled.”

Good service is a craft,” Guerra says. “This is my profession, it’s my living.”

They are, in Los Angeles, a rare breed — career waiters, veteran career waiters. While at many restaurants it can be hard to get your server’s attention when you don’t have a spoon for your soup or you may have to suffer the yadda-yadda-yadda of introductions and upselling and instructions, these are consummate waiters who, always gracious, know exactly how to make you feel taken care of, without being oppressed. 

click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on March 22, 2009 by Editor

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Beethoven in Double D Major

from Instructables.com

introMusical Bra

The Musical Bra plays music when touched!

IMG_1352.jpgTools needed:
– Conductive Fabric (strechable fabric)
– Fusible Interfacing (double and single sided – check your local fabric store)
– small nickel plated sew snaps
– conductive thread
– foam or thick felt
– regular thread/ needles
– a cheap/used toy with multiple buttons such as a keyboard (I used a keyboard from a thrift store for $1.00)
– velcro
– neoprene (or other sturdy, strechy fabric)
– a bra (preferably a bra that snaps in the front – unlike this sports bra used in this project, a front snap bra will make the bra easier to take on and off – this sports bra is not stretchy enough after sewing in the interfacing (I learned afterwards the importance of strechy conductive fabric and interfacing) You could also cut the front of a sports bra and introduce a velcro piece)
– multiple color wires
– soldering iron
– solder
– hot glue
– iron

[ click to read at Instuctables.com ]

Posted on March 21, 2009 by Editor

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Bizkit The Sleepwalking Dog

Posted on March 21, 2009 by JK

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Cigarettes Kill

from the NY Daily News

Man, 87, dies on bike after clothes burst in flames

from LIFE magazine

Friday, March 13th 2009, 2:46 AM

An 87-year-old died when his clothes burst into flames while he was riding his bicycle on Long Island Thursday.

Joseph Rusin was likely smoking a cigarette before he became engulfed in flames while cycling down Burkhardt Ave. in Bethpage, officials said.

A passing motorist saw Rusin rolling on the ground and used a fire extinguisher to douse the flames. Nassau County Detective Sgt. Les Meister said the fire was not suspicious. County Fire Marshal spokesman Vincent McManus said it’s likely that the cigarette ignited Rusin’s nylon jacket.

[ click to read at NYDailyNews.com ]

Posted on March 21, 2009 by Editor

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Death Monk

from Boing Boing

Posted on March 20, 2009 by Editor

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Hmmm….

from The Guardian UK

How art killed our culture

All the shallowness of modern mass culture began in avant-garde art 40 years ago

Andy Warhol Retrospective, London 2002

A spectator walks past Andy Warhol’s Campbells Soup Cans (1962) at the Tate Modern, London. Photograph: Sion Touhig/Getty Images

No sphere of high culture is implicated in the fall of the affluent society in the same way art is. Yesterday I commented on the resistance to melancholy, the flight from reality, that enabled art in our time to promote the fantasy of an unlimited market. Some have called the system that has now fallen “offshore capitalism”; perhaps another description is “post-modern capitalism”. In post-modern capitalism, secondary markets created a counter-reality that was unfettered by production. The economy was run like a theme park. It’s obvious how deeply involved in that daydream was the art of the last 20 years, which so gleefully rejected anything that might tie it to the slow, patient, tedious stuff of real creativity.

Drama, the novel, even cinema have all kept a safer distance from the booming monster of modern capitalism than artists did. What I want to ask now is – why? What happened? How did art become the mirror of fraud? It is not a story that starts with Damien Hirst’s diamond skull but one that goes back to the very origins of the consumer society.

After the second world war artists were steeped in history and introspection. Art has never been more serious in its view of life than it was in the era of Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon. But even as modern painting reached such heights and depths, western society was going through an epochal transformation. The power of the capitalist economies in the postwar era was unprecedented in world history. An entirely new lifestyle, that of “consumerism”, was born.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on March 20, 2009 by Editor

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Herbed pork chops with tomatoes, potatoes and spinach

from the LA Times

 chop.png

Posted on March 19, 2009 by Editor

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Use #2,963 For One’s Makarov

Posted on March 18, 2009 by Editor

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The Batting Stance Guy

from The New York Times

Meet Gar Ryness, the Batting Stance Guy

Ann Johansson for The New York Times

Gar Ryness has become a YouTube star for his imitations of major leaguers’ batting stances. Which three players is he imitating? Answers below.

Gar Ryness said he had the least marketable skill in the United States.

So when he and two friends took a hand-held camcorder into the backyard of his Los Angeles home last year, he hardly expected he would soon become a YouTube celebrity known as Batting Stance Guy.

Ryness has a singular talent: an ability to perform comically dead-on impressions of major league baseball hitters upon request. Little Leaguers have been known to try to imitate their favorite ballplayers. Ryness, 35, a married father of two, can do the starting lineups of all 30 teams.

Views of his YouTube videos number more than a million, and he appeared last year on several teams’ pregame shows. Sony also hired him to perform his impressions while wearing movement-tracking electrodes, helping programmers make the company’s MLB 2009: The Show video game look more realistic. Most recently, Ryness has made appearances on MLB Network’s team preview shows, displaying his encyclopedic knowledge of batters past and present. He has archived his body of work on a Web site, battingstanceguy.com.

Ryness never misses a habitual fidget or gesture, like David Wright’s ritual of wedging his bat in his armpit while adjusting his batting gloves. He does iconic stances, positioning his derrière the way Ken Griffey Jr. does before mimicking Griffey’s graceful swing and follow-through. Ryness even does impressions of batters taking pitches, like Derek Jeter’s way of sticking his head out and nearly stepping across home plate as he looks an outside pitch into the catcher’s glove.

[ click to continue reading at NYTimes.com ]

Posted on March 18, 2009 by Editor

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1934 BMW R7

from The Cool Hunter

Posted on March 18, 2009 by Editor

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Federal Judge Rules It’s Okay For Americans To Play With Model Rockets Again

from Rocketry Planet

APCP not an explosive, rules Judge Reggie B. Walton

Industry News by Planet News
MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2009

ImageWASHINGTON, District of Columbia USA — District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton for the District of Columbia today issued an order finding in favor of the Tripoli Rocketry Association and National Association of Rocketry vs. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The decision followed a status hearing this past Friday in Washington.

Walton’s order granted a summary judgment motion in favor of the plaintiffs TRA and NAR, denied the summary judgment motion of BATFE, and vacated the classification of Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP) as an explosive.

ORDER

The plaintiffs filed this action nine years ago challenging the defendant’s regulation as an explosive under 18 U.S.C. § 841(d) (2006) a chemical compound known as ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (“APCP”), which is commonly used in the motors of hobby rockets. After the Court ruled on the parties’ initial cross-motions for summary judgment in this case, the plaintiffs appealed and the District of Columbia Circuit, reviewing the matter de novo, held that the defendant’s classification of APCP as an explosive based on its determination that the substance functions by deflagration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A) (2000), because the decision was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law, Tripoli Rocketry Ass’n, Inc. v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 437 F.3d 75 (D.C. Cir. 2006).

[ click to continue reading judicial order at RocketryPlanet.com ]

Posted on March 18, 2009 by Editor

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