Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dark Spy-Comedy to Open Venice Film Festival

"Burn After Reading," a dark spy-comedy by Oscar-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen, will open this year's Venice Film Festival.

The movie, which stars George Clooney, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt (above), Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton, will have its world premiere Aug. 27, festival organizers announced Monday.

"Burn After Reading" is the story of an ousted CIA official whose memoir falls into the hands of two gym employees.

The festival will run through Sept. 6, when the prestigious Golden Lion will be awarded. The official lineup will be announced in late July.

From the Associated Press

Monday, April 28, 2008

Airships are Still Around

The exceptional features of the Worldwide Aeroscraft, such as oversized volume of the cargo / passenger compartment, heavy lift capability, vertical takeoff and landing, capability to hover for extended periods of time, independence from airport facilities, all weather operations and superb safety characteristics demonstrate its unique place in the market.

The Navy's Swimming Spy Plane -- It floats, it flies, it eliminates enemy targets-meet the water-launched unmanned enforcer

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, famed for the U-2 and Blackbird spy planes that flew higher than anything else in the world in their day, is trying for a different altitude record: an airplane that starts and ends its mission 150 feet underwater. The Cormorant, a stealthy, jet-powered, autonomous aircraft that could be outfitted with either short-range weapons or surveillance equipment, is designed to launch out of the Trident missile tubes in some of the U.S. Navy's gigantic Cold Warâ€era Ohio-class submarines. These formerly nuke-toting subs have become less useful in a military climate evolved to favor surgical strikes over nuclear stalemates, but the Cormorant could use their now-vacant tubes to provide another unmanned option for spying on or destroying targets near the coast.

This is no easy task. The tubes are as long as a semi trailer but about seven feet wide-not exactly airplane-shaped. The Cormorant has to be strong enough to withstand the pressure 150 feet underwater-enough to cave in hatches on a normal aircraft-but light enough to fly. Another challenge: Subs survive by stealth, and an airplane flying back to the boat could give its position away.

The Skunk Works's answer is a four-ton airplane with gull wings that hinge around its body to fit inside the missile tube. The craft is made of titanium to resist corrosion, and any empty spaces are filled with plastic foam to resist crushing. The rest of the body is pressurized with inert gas. Inflatable seals keep the weapon-bay doors, engine inlet and exhaust covers watertight.

The Cormorant does not shoot out of its tube like a missile. Instead an arm-like docking "saddle" guides the craft out, sending it floating to the surface while the sub slips away. As the drone pops out of the water, the rocket boosters fire and the Cormorant takes off. After completing its mission, the plane flies to the rendezvous coordinates it receives from the sub and lands in the sea. The sub then launches a robotic underwater vehicle to fetch the floating drone.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is funding tests of some of the Cormorant's unique systems, including a splashdown model and an underwater-recovery vehicle. All this was taking place in 2006 -- Is it coming?? Is it here and they haven't told us about it yet?? OR Is it history??

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Americana" opens on Friday

CONSIDER the Grove -- L.A.'s love-it or hate-it open-air mall that's more insular universe than shopping center. Now think of the Grove on steroids. The fountains are jazzier, the shops swankier, the rolling green lawn super-sized. And you can actually live there -- have breakfast at Tiffany every day.

Daydream or nightmare, it's reality at the Americana at Brand, the new shopping center and residential development in Glendale from Grove developer Rick Caruso. The project, which cost $400 million and was under construction for two years, opens Friday. The $400-million project is spread over 15.5 acres, with a “dancing” fountain as its centerpiece.

The Work of an Artist

Illustration by Cecilia Carlstedt

"Alfred, meet me in the Bat Cave"

A bat flies through the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio.
(Monique Hoffmayer)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Supercar Fantasy Camp

The founders of Supercar Life decided on a new business model and bought their own fleet of imported, insanely overpowered brawn, dropping $2 million in the process. Lamborghini Gallardos are included in the fleet. For just under five grand, clients get breakfast, a brief class in high-speed driving, and then buckle in and put pedal to metal. Drivers steered Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mercedes and Aston Martins around the track. They flirted with 140 mph, then staggered out with legs trembling and grins on their mugs. The Supercar Life entourage -- professional race car drivers, hostesses and a group of crack mechanics, plus two of each supercar -- travel the country seeking to cure everyday motorists' high-torque itch.

Johnny Carson's nephew recalls his 'incredible experience'

Jeff Sotzing worked with his uncle on 'The Tonight Show' and now licenses the show's clips and DVDs.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Norwegian automaker Think Global said Monday it planned to sell low-priced electric cars to the masses and will introduce its first models in the U.S. by the end of next year.

The battery-powered Think City will be able to travel up to 110 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of about 65 mph, the company said. It will be priced below $25,000. The Think City vehicle is made largely of plastic and said to be 95% recyclable.
(Business Wire)

After $400,000,000 it'll become a winner

The Indiana Jones series is known for its cliffhangers. But the real cliffhanger in the long-awaited upcoming sequel is when -- and perhaps even if -- the famous filmmakers and the star will make money.

That's because before executive producer George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg and leading man Harrison Ford get their hands on any treasure, Paramount Pictures will need to collect $400 million in revenue to recover all its costs and make a sizable fee to distribute "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

The Art of Beijing sculptor Zhan Wang

A vision of San Francisco is composed of stainless-steel kitchenware — representing, curator Jeff Kelley says, what Chinese gold miners "had to settle for in the service industries" during the gold rush. Kelley organized the Zhan Wang show at the Asian Art Museum. Wang uses the metal to comment on the Chinese dimension of the California Gold Rush. His exhibition was shown recently at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Art and water beyond watercolors

Jason Martin's "Lucia," 2007. Oil on aluminum.

Chumash language brought back from the brink

The last fluent speaker of Samala died in 1965, but thanks to a trove of anthropological notes, a linguist has drafted a 608-page dictionary to keep the tribal tongue alive.

Into the shadows with Ian Fleming

He may not have cheated death, seduced women at will and killed countless baddies, but James Bond creator Ian Fleming's experience of the shadowy world of wartime espionage helped inspire his bestselling novels.

"For Your Eyes Only" is the first major exhibition devoted to the British author and coincides with the centenary of his birth. It opens at London's Imperial War Museum today and runs until March 1, 2009.

On display is Fleming's desk from his Jamaican home, Goldeneye, where he wrote his Bond books, a jacket he wore during a raid by British forces on a French port in 1942, several Bond manuscripts and props from the blockbuster film franchise.

The show seeks to explain how a man born into a world of privilege and with a playboy reputation was grounded by his work as a naval intelligence officer during World War II.

"I think we make the point in the exhibition that the Second World War gave Fleming a sense of purpose in his life that had hitherto been lacking," said curator Terry Charman. "However much the [Bond] novels may be set in the Cold War . . . they in fact are nearly all rooted in World War II."

From Reuters

As the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" would say, It "ain't down yet!"

The Olympic flame is photographed in front of the 10 Downing Street residence of Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London April 6, 2008. The tradition of the Olympic flame is rooted in Greek sporting heritage dating back thousands of years but new technology keeps the fire burning whatever the elements -- or modern-day protester -- can throw at it.
REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

New Technology . . . Get One Before it Becomes Old Technology

The battery-operated Amazon Kindle, shown here in this image released to Reuters on November 19, 2007, let users download books, newspapers and blogs over a wireless connection. It can carry about 200 books downloaded from Amazon.com. Amazon.com, the world's largest Web retailer, said on Monday that it will begin selling an electronic book reader with wireless access, the latest attempt to build consumer interest in portable reading devices. REUTERS/Amazon.com/Handout

"Cutting Edge"

Japan's Nippon Engineering College's humanoid robot "Karfe Lady" and a man play a game of "rock-paper-scissors" during a robot sports event in Tokyo's Akihabara electronic district October 20, 2008.
REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Darwin's Theory

Charles Darwin in an undated photo. The first draft of Darwin's "On The Origin Of Species" is among a wealth of papers being published on the Internet on Thursday for the first time.






Julie Andrews talks about the 'deeper level' she found in writing 'Home'

The so-called Age of the Memoir has brought with it a wide variety of suspect motives for committing one's experiences to paper -- the desire for easy notoriety or family revenge, or the chance to pull off some unethical fabulism -- but in Julie Andrews' case, the goal was a little different.

"I wanted to write a memoir of what it was like to be around at the end of the vaudeville years in England," she said last week in conversation with Patt Morrison of The Times at a Town Hall's Writers Bloc event in Beverly Hills (the two women will revisit their chat on Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA).

Even devoted Andrews fans may not know much about Andrews' history in vaudeville, that vanished diversion of the emerging Victorian-Edwardian middle classes that gave audiences everything from dancing poodles to slapstick comedy, and in Andrews' case, four-octave-range preteen singers. By age 12, the actress who would later rise to worldwide fame as Eliza Doolittle in the stage version of "My Fair Lady," then on film as Maria in "The Sound of Music" and, of course, as the original supernanny, Mary Poppins, was hitting a high F above C in a London musical review called "Starlight Roof." Her astonishing performances had British reviewers labeling her "the prodigy with pigtails." (Regrettably, she says, complications from surgery to her vocal cords in the late 1990s have left her vocally impaired.)

But, as "Home: A Memoir of My Early Years" explains, all was not precocious on-stage triumph for young Julie. In fact, while her evenings may have been ripe with song in a cavalcade of rundown English theaters, her days were characterized by wartime air raids, shaky finances, the specter of alcoholism, barely dodged molestation and uncertain parentage. If her first word was, as she reports on Page 1, "home," it eventually became a lament, shorthand for a childhood sacrificed to talent and other people's demons.

Her mother deserted the upstanding country schoolteacher who, for years, Andrews believed to be her biological father. The boozing troubadour with whom her mother then took up and married later made unsuccessfully lecherous visits to Andrews' bedroom. Then she learned that Dad actually wasn't -- that her birth had been the result of an adulterous tryst between her mother and a man whom Andrews is at one point introduced to, but whose identity we never learn.

The twin revelations of "Home" were tightly held secrets for Andrews until the book's publication this month. "I didn't speak of it until now because I didn't want to hurt the family," the 72-year-old dame commander of the British Empire said. This is an interesting admission, given that she also revealed that, in writing the memoir, extensive therapy had failed to completely resolve her family issues.

"I realized that I was still unconsciously angry with my mother," she said, after receiving a standing ovation from the Writers Bloc audience, who ranged in age from those who remember the Broadway run of "My Fair Lady" to those who know Andrews as Queen Clarisse Renaldi in "The Princess Diaries" movies.

Her fans have definitely gotten behind the memoir -- it shot to the top of the bestseller lists, and this Sunday it will top out at No. 1 among hardcovers tracked by the New York Times. "The success of the book has been dreamlike," she said. "But I've had a fairly acute shyness and reserve all my life, and now I've said to myself, 'Oh, my God, I've got to talk about it!' "

Historic Makeover

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt unveiled plans Thursday for a historic makeover of the 275-acre Dodger Stadium site in Chavez Ravine, describing new features designed to transform the ballpark by 2012 into a year-round destination for dining, shopping and recreation that will be fan- and environment-friendly.
An artist's rendering of how Dodger Stadium would look after a an extensive renovation. Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes, whose district includes Dodger Stadium, said the project would surround the ballpark with a ring of greenery, with parks and plazas "almost like a campus setting," so fans could walk from a garage onto a tree-lined walkway leading to an entrance, or to a retail cluster.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Harold and Kumar hit theatres Friday

Harold (John Cho), left, and Kumar (Kal Penn) are in a bind in the comedy Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

Glass Art by Dale Chihuly

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dale Chihuly's first major show in San Francisco will be held at the de Young Museum June 14-Sept. 28. The show will include 11 galleries of new and past works from the popular artist, who is known for large colorful glass art.
Chihuly is creating the installations for the works, and several will be viewable beginning April 1, including a 30-foot yellow neon Saffron Tower at the de Young's Pool of Enchantment and a 15-foot radiant yellow Sun at the Legion of Honor in the exterior Court of Honor.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unusual and Beautiful Photography

2007 total lunar eclipse 鳶山月全蝕 in Taiwan. Photo by Scott-史考特黃 on Flickr.

Sunrise on Taiwan

Sun rise at 五城 TAIWAN, the brilliant rays for only 30 seconds -- every body stop to breathe, this is the most beautiful sun rise in Taiwan. Photo by Scott-史考特黃 on Flickr.

It seems like only yesterday that this was new technology . . .

In an early afternoon ceremony, the crowd looked on in silence as the black kite-like planes took off one by one, led by a jet whose undercarriage was painted with the American flag. Each fighter flew over a throng of about 100 cheering aviation buffs who had gathered at a makeshift viewing spot just outside the base. In formation, the planes then circled back and flew overhead before heading east to their final resting spot.

The send-off began shortly after 1,000 former and current employees of Lockheed Martin's famed Skunk Works held a tribute to the aircraft they had developed, built and maintained, virtually all shrouded in secrecy.

"It's now time to say farewell, farewell to an old friend," said George Zielsdorff, Lockheed's vice president for the F-117A program, as employees signed their names on the bomb bay doors of the four planes parked in front of Building 601. Inside sat the next generation of stealth fighter jets, F-22 Raptors. With the introduction of the F-22, the Pentagon decided to retire the F-117As in 2006.

Beginning in 1981 and until 1990, Lockheed assembled 59 Night Hawks, most of them in total secrecy, in a hanger next to the Burbank airport. Later, Lockheed continued to upgrade the fleet at its complex in Palmdale. The Air Force did not acknowledge the program's existence until about a decade after the jets began flying.

The single-seat F-117 was the first plane that could evade radar detection. It was designed to fly into heavily defended areas to knock out radar installations and anti-aircraft missile batteries, clearing the way for other fighters and bombers. It was also used to destroy military command and communication centers. During its development, the F-117 flew only at night to avoid prying eyes and Soviet spy satellites, thus its name: Night Hawk.

Reporters who attended Tuesday's retirement ceremony were kept 75 feet from the planes and were not allowed to go beyond a roped-off area.

The retired fleet will be housed at a high-security base about 140 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Somebody has a sense of humor and a tendency toward mischief

Igor Andreev of Russia is seen during his match against his compatriot Dmitry Tursunov in their first round match in the Monte Carlo Masters Series tennis tournament in Monaco April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO)

Moving Up in Monte Carlo

Novak Djokovic of Serbia waves to supporters after defeating Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia during their second round match in the Monte Carlo Masters Series tennis tournament in Monaco April 22, 2008.
REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO)

IRON MAN to open May 2nd in a theatre near you

IRON MAN Tony Stark, who develops an invulnerable robotic suit to fight the throes of evil. In addition to being filthy rich, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is also a genius inventor. When Stark is kidnapped and forced to build a diabolical weapon, he instead uses his intelligence and ingenuity to construct an indestructible suit of armor and escape his captors.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Spiral Jetty

The Spiral Jetty, considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson, is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970.

Built of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah, it forms a 1500-foot long and 15-foot wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake.

At the time of its construction, the water level of the lake was unusually low because of a drought. Within a few years, the water level returned to normal and submerged the jetty for the next three decades. Due to a recent drought, the jetty re-emerged in 1999 and is now completely exposed. The lake level rose again during the spring of 2005 due to a near record-setting snowpack in the mountains and partially submerged the Jetty again.

Originally black rock against ruddy water, it is now largely white against pink due to salt encrustation and lower water levels.

The Flying Hotel

Singapore's A380 holds 471 passengers -- 399 in economy, 60 in business and 12 in first class. When the jet made its maiden flight in October, the airline set the pace for customizing the A380 by introducing private suites in first class, with leather chairs and fully flat beds.

Passengers in business class won't have cabins, but they will have a private lounge with leather sofas, a large video monitor and a self-service bar.Two of the suites on a Singapore Airlines A380 are combined here, creating a large sleeping area.

The suites, designed by French yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste, are essentially hotel rooms operating at 30,000 feet. Each of the 12 suites aboard Singapore's A380 features a 23-inch-wide LCD TV, a 35-inch-wide leather chair (with armrest folded away) that reclines up to 130 degrees and a large table. The suites also have blinds for added privacy and a chaise longue.

The Beauty of Mt. Ranier National Park Has No End

For more extraordinary photos by the Hanselmanns, click on the link below:

Illuminating Crested Butte Mountain

There's nighttime illumination from the sky and along streets at the town of Crested Butte, Colorado. The resort's owners and others also have kick-started a building spree near the lifts at Mount Crested Butte.
A steep run tests a skier on Crested Butte Mountain.
(Tom Stillo)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spectacular Photography by Jeannie and Bob of Yorkshire, England

For more of their outstanding work, click on the link below:

Cosmic Communist Constructions

If you're in the New York area between this coming Tuesday (April 24th) and May 26th, you might be interested in photographer Frederic Chaubin's upcoming exhibit, titled CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, showcasing little-known Soviet architecture of the 1970s and 1980s at the Storefront for Art & Architecture. Above: the Druzhba "holiday camp" in Yalta, Ukraine, built 1985 and designed by architect Igor Vasilevsky.

We'll give a pass to the construction worker -- described in the New York Post as a "hulking mason" and a "Boston-loving boob" -- who buried a Boston Red Sox jersey in the concrete foundation of the new stadium being built for the New York Yankees. And we can almost forgive the fans on both sides of the Other Coast's fiercest sports rivalry for thinking this might somehow lay a curse on the plutocrats in pinstripes.

But when somebody in the Yankees' front office ordered construction workers on Sunday to drill chunks out of the foundation -- a five-hour job that cost a reported $50,000 -- in order to remove the voodoo Fan Merchandise of Doom, it became clear that this incident was more than just a harmless sports prank. It was a reminder that for all of humanity's pretensions to modernity and reason, we are essentially just bald monkeys who wear shoes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jet Li wins Best Actor award

Chinese actor Jet Li reacts after winning the Best Actor award for his role in 'The Warlords' at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards April 13, 2008.
REUTERS/Victor Fraile (CHINA)

"Street Kings"

Actor Keanu Reeves attends the Australian premiere of "Street Kings" at the Greater Union Cinemas in Sydney April 15, 2008.

"Egypt's Sunken Treasures"

Visitors walk past an ancient Egyptian statue during the inauguration of "Egypt's Sunken Treasures" exhibition in Madrid April 15, 2008. The exhibition presents objects from underwater excavations conducted since 1992 in Alexandria and Aboukir Bay by Franck Goddio, French underwater archaeologist and director of the Institut Europeen d'Archeologie Sous-Marine (IEASM). About 500 artefacts will be on view from April 16 to September 28, 2008.

Flying High

Acrobats of Spain and Argentina called "Puja! Theatre of height" perform during the first day of International Festival of Theatre and Stage Arts in Seville April 15, 2008. The festival will run until April 27.
REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN)

P O W . . . for Forty Years

Maqbool Hussain, a Pakistani war prisoner who spent around 40 years in an Indian jail, stands beside his picture during a premiere of a drama in Rawalpindi, April 15, 2008. A drama based on plight of Hussain, who was taken prisoner during the second of the three wars between the two neighbours in 1965, was released on Wednesday by the Inter Service Public Relation (ISPR).