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Friday, September 26, 2008

The beauty of old maps

We can has Google Earth! Via Boston Public Library.

I have to admit it: Google Earth is pretty cool and Google Maps quite useful, but none of them are close to be as beautiful as old hand-drawn maps.

Since my childhood I’ve always been fascinated by old earth globes, vintage maps or navigation maps, following I am sharing some of that love.

Bird eye view of San Francisco. Via David Rumsey collection.

Bird eye view of San Francisco (detail). Via David Rumsey collection.

Rotation of the earth around the sun by J. Soulier, 1850. Via David Rumsey collection.

18th century map of Cape Verde islands. You got to love those lines and stars. Via Boston Public Library.

Engraved celestial chart by Alexander Jamieson, 1822. Via David Rumsey collection.

Cool typography and funky lakes anyone? Via Boston Public Library.

Beautiful world map. Via Sammlung Ryhiner.

VALKYRIE HAS A NEW TRAILER



"Valkyrie" has been plagued by bad press for months and had it's release date pushed back several times, despite a big name cast and crew led by Tom Cruise, director Brian Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, the worlds greatest screenwriter. The movie is about the failed plot to kill Hitler by Nazi officers, who clearly didn’t learn anything by all their failed attempts at killing Indiana Jones. Just shoot him, he’s standing right there, I swear to god if you shoot him it will work.

compliments of http://www.wwtdd.com/

The 10 Remaining Must See Movies of 2008

Posted by Neil Miller (neil@filmschoolrejects.com)

The Ten Remaining Must See Movies of 2008

Summer is now officially over, the leaves are getting ready to turn, and the Oscar bait movies have begun showing at various fall film festivals around the world. But just because the Oscar train is getting ready to leave the station, that doesn’t mean that every upcoming release is going to be a 3-hour long heavy-handed drama. There are still plenty of must see movies — plenty of action, plenty of comedy and plenty of popcorn butter-flavored goodness. And to get you ready to tackle the rest of 2008 at the movies, we’ve assembled our list of the Ten Remaining Must See Movies of 2008.

Must See Movies: Twilight

10. Twilight (November 21)

Yeah, I know that it’s a teenie-bopper movie. It is all over the programming schedule of MTV and it looks like it could play on The CW, but Twilight is more than just another teen romance, it is becoming a pop culture phenomenon in the same way that Harry Potter did back in the early 2000s. Aside from that, I hear that the book is actually pretty good, no matter who you are. So prepare yourself for the brooding and the vampy sap-story, because you really shouldn’t miss Twilight when it hits theaters.

Must See Movies: The Spirit

9. The Spirit (December 25)

This list is about “must see” movies, not necessarily “sure to be great” movies. Sure, Frank Miller’s adaptation of the classic Will Eisner comic may have all the makings of a massive, bloody, CNN headline-grabbing train wreck — but like all great train wrecks and epic disasters in history, there is the distinct possibility that we won’t be able to look away.

Must See Movies: RocknRolla

8. RocknRolla (October 31)

Guy Ritchie returning to form, delivering another classic London gangster film with tons of energy and bullets flying everywhere? Yeah, I think we can get into that. On top of all that, it was clear at Comic-Con that the cast, which includes Gerard Butler, Idris Elba and Jeremy Piven, had a boat load of fun making this movie — and if it comes off half as fun as it sounds, we’re in for a real treat.

Must See Movies: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (December 25)

Of all the fall and winter Oscar Bait movies, this one might just be the most peculiar. How do you effectively tell the story of a man who is born old and ages in reverse? For starters, you bring in David Fincher and a stellar cast that includes Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett and Julia Ormand. The only problem we’ve heard so far is that it is long, very very long. That’s okay though, no matter how long it is, it can’t feel longer than Spike Lee’s latest film.

Must See Movies: Choke

6. Choke (September 26)

You’ve seen the commercial: “Sexy, Devious and Fun.” I’m not sure who said that exactly, but give that guy a medal, because that assessment of Choke is spot on. From the mind that brought us “Fight Club” comes a movie that tackles a topic that all men, including David Duchovny, can relate to: sex addiction. As well, it also deals with our addiction to Kelly Macdonald and Bijou Philips — which, coincidentally relates back to the aforementioned sex addiction — man, this Chuck Palahniuk guy is good.

Must See Movies: Body of Lies

5. Body of Lies (October 10)

After the miserable showing last year of movies that dealt with the War on Terror, we thought we might not ever see one that was worth its weight in popcorn butter. Then, just like that, two longtime favorite directors come along and make their own, explosive dramas, both set to be released in late 2008. But while we will have to wait and see when Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker will actually be released, we will definitely get a good showing from Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies. From The Departed writer William Monahan and starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio — yeah, that should work just fine.

Must See Movies: The Wrestler

4. The Wrestler (December 19)

The clear winner of the “most buzzed about” title from the Toronto Film Fest is Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. It could have been, in part, because of the memorable performance of Mickey Rourke, an actor who’s been a little more than out of the spotlight for a long time. Either way, we know what the critics have said about it, and we know that we need to see it.

Must See Movies: The Road

3. The Road (November 26)

Last year, the film that won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay was based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy. And from what I hear, McCarthy’s novel “The Road” is just as good, if not better than the novel “No Country for Old Men.” Combine that with a cast that includes Viggo Mortenson, Charlize Theron, Robbert Duvall and Guy Pearce, and this becomes a no-brainer. See it when it hits theaters in November, because you might need to remember it come February.

Must See Movies: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

2. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (October 31)

All of the festival reviews from Toronto and Austin’s Fantastic Fest have just confirmed what some of us already knew — Kevin Smith is at the top of his game, and he’s bringing the comedic talents of Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks and Craig Robinson along for the ride. Some fans have missed this Kevin Smith, and others are convinced that he never left — either way, everyone will be rubbing their lucky “Buddy Christ” statue on the way out the door when Zack and Miri’s Porno rolls into theaters.

Must See Movies: Quantum of Solace

1. Quantum of Solace (November 14)

Back in 2006, Daniel Craig gave us a taste of what he could do as James Bond, successfully rebooting the iconic character and giving him new grit. Now, he takes Bond to the next level, coming out in Quantum of Solace with guns blazing. Hmm, I seem to remember another iconic character who recently had a franchise restart and delivered a bigger and better sequel in 2008 — and that seemed to work out quite well. And while it’s unclear yet whether Bond’s fate will be similar to that of The Dark Knight, we certainly shouldn’t miss the opportunity to find out.

New life found in ancient tombs

Life has been discovered in the barren depths of Rome's ancient tombs, proving catacombs are not just a resting place for the dead. The two new species of bacteria found growing on the walls of the Roman tombs may help protect our cultural heritage monuments, according to research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

The Catacombs of Saint Callistus are part of a massive graveyard that covers 15 hectares, equivalent to more than 20 football pitches. The underground tombs were built at the end of the 2nd Century AD and were named after Pope Saint Callistus I. More than 30 popes and martyrs are buried in the catacombs.

"Bacteria can grow on the walls of these underground tombs and often cause damage," said Professor Dr Clara Urzì from the University of Messina in Italy. "We found two new species of bacteria on decayed surfaces in the catacombs and we think the bacteria, which belong to the Kribbella group, may have been involved in the destruction."

By studying bacteria that ruin monuments, the researchers hope to develop methods of protecting cultural heritage sites such as the catacombs in Rome. The two new bacterial species discovered in the tombs also have the potential to produce molecules that have useful properties, like enzymes and antibiotics.

"The special conditions in the catacombs have allowed unique species to evolve," said Professor Dr Urzì. "In fact, the two different Kribbella species we discovered were taken from two sites very close to each other; this shows that even small changes in the micro-environment can lead bacteria to evolve separately."

Kribbella species are found in many different locations all over the world, from a racecourse in South Africa to a medieval mine in Germany. The genus was only discovered in 1999 but since then several species have been found. The two species discovered in the Roman catacombs have been named Kribbella catacumbae and Kribbella sancticallisti.

"The worldwide existence of the genus Kribbella raises questions about the path of evolution," said Professor Dr Urzì. "If the bacteria are very old, does the wide geographical distribution prove the genus is stable? Or have similar bacteria evolved in parallel to one another in different places? The questions are made even more interesting by the discovery of these two different bacteria in the Roman tombs."

50 tools to speed up your PC

Is your PC tired and sluggish? Has its get up and go got up and went? If you want a faster system, you could certainly break the bank and buy a new machine. Or you could read this article instead.

read more | digg story

How JP Morgan stayed Clear of the Credit Crunch

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NEW YORK (Fortune) -- It was the second week of October 2006. William King, then J.P. Morgan's chief of securitized products, was vacationing in Rwanda. One evening CEO Jamie Dimon tracked him down to fire a red alert. "Billy, I really want you to watch out for subprime!" Dimon's voice crackled over King's hotel phone. "We need to sell a lot of our positions. I've seen it before. This stuff could go up in smoke!"

That call marked the beginning of a remarkable strategic shift that helped J.P. Morgan (JPM, Fortune 500) sidestep the worst of a historic credit crisis. J.P. Morgan mostly exited the business of securitizing subprime mortgages when it was booming. With the notable exception of Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), J.P. Morgan's main competitors - including Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), UBS (UBS), and Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) - ignored the danger signs and piled into those products in a feeding frenzy. (This is an excerpt from a story that ran in the Sept. 15 issue of Fortune. For more on Dimon and the team of talented lieutenants who helped J.P. Morgan dodge the credit crisis, read the full story)

Make no mistake: J.P. Morgan is also suffering from the credit crunch. While it largely dodged the subprime bullet, J.P. Morgan stumbled in two other areas: funding dubious deals in the LBO frenzy and jumping into the jumbo mortgage market when other banks were getting out. The third quarter is already looking tough. The company has announced that it is taking $1.5 billion in mortgage and leveraged-loan write-downs, and another $600 million to account for the decline in the value of its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock.

Still, J.P. Morgan is weathering the crisis far better than its rivals. From July 2007, when the cyclone began, through the second quarter of this year, J.P. Morgan took just $5 billion in losses on high-risk CDOs and leveraged loans, compared with $33 billion at Citi, $26 billion at Merrill Lynch, and $9 billion at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500). And in this market, losing less means winning big. Before the crisis J.P. Morgan was a middle-of-the-pack performer; today it leads in nearly every category, starting with its stock. Since early 2007, its share price has dropped 24%, to $37 (as of Aug. 27), vs. declines of 44% for Bank of America and 68% for Citigroup. Last year its market cap was far below those of Citi and BofA. Today J.P. Morgan stands in a virtual tie with BofA for first place among U.S. banks, and it towers over Citi.

That is largely thanks to J.P. Morgan's decision to shun subprime CDOs - vehicles that sell bonds backed by pools of subprime mortgage-backed securities. J.P. Morgan has long ranked among the biggest buyers of auto and credit card loans, which it turned into asset-backed securities. But even in 2005, J.P. Morgan remained a small player in the hottest business on Wall Street, securitizing mortgages. Dimon wanted to build a far bigger franchise, chiefly by securitizing the loans made by the bank itself through its Chase Home Lending division. By 2006, J.P. Morgan was growing substantially in securitizing mortgages and dabbling in subprime CDOs, a business that was generating billions in fees for other Wall Street firms.

But Dimon soon began to see reasons to pull back. One red flag came from the mortgage servicing business, the branch that sends out statements, handles escrow, and collects payments on $800 billion in home loans, its own and others'. During a regular monthly business review for the retail bank in October 2006, the chief of servicing said that late payments on subprime loans were rising at an alarming rate. The data showed that loans originated by competitors like First Franklin and American Home were performing three times worse than J.P. Morgan's subprime mortgages. "We concluded that underwriting standards were deteriorating across the industry," says Dimon.

Steve Black and Bill Winters, co-heads of the investment bank, were discovering more reasons to be cautious. CDOs issue a range of bonds, from supposedly safe AAA-rated ones with relatively low yields to lower-rated ones with higher yields. Winters and Black saw that hedge funds, insurance companies, and other customers were clamoring for the high-yielding CDO paper and were less interested in the other stuff. That meant banks like Merrill and Citi were forced to hold billions of dollars of the AAA paper on their books. What's wrong with that? Doesn't an AAA rating mean the securities are safe? Not necessarily.

In 2006, AAA-rated CDO bonds yielded only two percentage points more than supersafe Treasury bills. So the market seemed to be saying that the bonds were solid. But Black and Winters concluded otherwise. Their yardstick was credit default swaps - insurance against bond failures. By late 2006 the cost of default swaps on subprime CDOs had jumped sharply. Winters and Black saw that once they bought credit default swaps to hedge the AAA CDO paper J.P. Morgan would have to hold, the fees from creating CDOs would vanish. "We saw no profit, and lots of risk, in holding subprime paper on our balance sheet," says Winters. The combined weight of that data triggered Dimon's call to King in Africa. "It was Jamie who saw all the pieces," says Winters.

In late 2006, J.P. Morgan started slashing its holdings of subprime debt. It sold more than $12 billion in subprime mortgages that it had originated. Its trading desks dumped the loans on their books and mostly stopped making markets in subprime paper for customers. J.P. Morgan's corporate treasury under Ina Drew even starting hedging, betting that credit spreads would widen. Over the next year those hedges reportedly yielded gains of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Dimon's stance was radical: He was skirting the biggest growth business on Wall Street. J.P. Morgan sank from third to sixth in fixed-income underwriting from 2005 to 2007, and the main reason was its refusal to play in subprime CDOs, which its rivals were gorging on. "We'd get the quarterly reports from our competitors and see that they'd added $100 billion to their balance sheets," says Dimon. "And they were hardly adding any capital, so it looked like their investments were almost risk-free." But in the end, of course, the decision to shun subprime made Dimon a hero.

WaMu CEO, 3 Wks Work, $18M

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Washington Mutual Chief Executive Alan Fishman could walk away with more than $18 million in salary, bonuses and severance after less than three weeks on the job, according to the terms of his employment agreement.

But will Fishman follow the lead of another troubled financial firm and turn his severance package down?

JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) grabbed up the banking assets of WaMu on Thursday after federal regulators seized the company, making it the largest bank failure in history.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in a conference call with reporters Friday that no decisions have been made about the fates of WaMu senior executives.

Still, the demise of WaMu is likely to be the end of Fishman's brief tenure at the helm.

Fishman was hired on Sept. 7, replacing former long-time CEO Kerry Killinger, who was ousted as a result of the company's many financial woes.

WaMu did not reply to requests for comment about Fishman's severance package. But some details were outlined in his employment agreement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 11.

Fishman had a base annual salary of $1 million, which translates to $19,230 per week. So during his three weeks on the job, he would receive a base pay of about $60,000 before taxes.

His target annual bonus was 365% of his salary, or $3.65 million. In the agreement, it was unclear how much of the annual bonus he would be eligible for, if any.

The agreement said that Fishman could be eligible in 2009 for a long-term incentive award, which would be worth at least $8 million. But the agreement also said this is based on the assumption that would serve as CEO for the "full year" of 2009.

Also, if Fishman has to pay taxes because of any severance he receives as a result of the takeover, then the company would cover those taxes. That would potentially give Fishman millions of dollars more.

Fishman also got a multi-million dollar sign-on bonus. But he may have to pay it back, depending on certain conditions outlined in the agreement.

Fishman's sign-on cash bonus was $7.5 million as well as 612,500 shares of WaMu, which are now virtually worthless. Shares of WaMu plunged more than 90% to 16 cents a share on Friday.

The agreement says that Fishman would have to pay back part or all of his bonus if he ends his employment for any reason other than "constructive termination," or if the company terminates his employment with "cause."

If Fishman is terminated without "cause" - which could mean the loss of a job due to a takeover of the firm - or if he resigns because of "constructive termination," than he would receive a lump severance payment of $6.15 million. This figure is 2.5 times his base salary of $1 million plus the maximum bonus of $3.65 million.

The agreement did not specify constructive termination, but it is generally characterized as an employee voluntarily quitting because of intolerable working conditions.

When you add up his salary, the possible bonuses and the lump sum payment, Fishman could walk away with more than $18 million.

But the CEO of another prominent financial firm in a similar situation recently decided to turn down his severance package after the firm essentially collapsed.

Robert Willumstad, former chief executive officer of insurance giant AIG (AIG, Fortune 500), which the government took an approximately 80% stake in after giving it an emergency $85 billion loan, was dismissed last week after only about three months on the job.

Willumstad has reportedly told his successor that he has decided not to accept his $22 million severance package since AIG shareholders and employees had lost so much money as a result of its meltdown.

Matt McCormick, portfolio manager with Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel, said he thinks that Fishman will not be rewarded extravagantly given that the bank failed.

"I will give WaMu the benefit of the doubt that they hired this person to make WaMu work, not to get foreclosed," he said.

But McCormick added that the WaMu failure wasn't necessarily Fishman's fault, because "their goose was cooked long ago."

In the future, employment agreements for CEOs might include more details on restricting multi-million dollar bailouts after brief tenures, McCormick said.

Interview with Erin Callan- Lehman's former CFO who luckily left in July


NEW YORK (Fortune) -- When Erin Callan, Lehman Brothers' onetime golden girl, left the firm in July, it was a tumultuous end to what had been a stellar 13-year run. She'd risen from tax lawyer to investment banker to a six-month stint as CFO - and was then thrown under the bus by her mentor, CEO Dick Fuld, as Lehman's share price tanked and rumors swirled about the firm's imminent demise.

Now that Lehman has gone splat, its shareholders have been wiped out, and the whole investment-bank model has been wiped away, the 42-year-old Callan knows she dodged a bullet. A few months before the house of Fuld filed for bankruptcy, she took a new job at Credit Suisse (CS) as head of the firm's global hedge fund business. Speaking to Fortune just four days after Lehman filed Chapter 11, and at times choking up, Callan held forth on the fall of Wall Street, the rise of hedge funds and the dangers of celebrity.

Did you see the Lehman bankruptcy coming?

Nobody thought this was a possibility. In other downturns, market conditions improved. The firm had a history of coming out on the other side and doing well. But the harsh reality of this environment is that asset prices were declining at a shockingly fast pace, so the firm ran out of time. Raising money to address declining prices wasn't going to work.

What were the problem assets?

The commercial real estate portfolio really was the albatross of the firm. Organizations have to balance market volatility with a belief that the portfolio is worth its par value in the long run. The lesson, which is something every good trader or anybody who's in the risk business knows, is to cut your losses. It's hard to do that if you think the endgame should be different, but sometimes the market tells you it's time. Perhaps John Thain was able to cut his losses at Merrill (MER, Fortune 500) because he wasn't emotionally attached. He had analytical distance.

Did Lehman think the Fed would help it?

Yes. No one knew what it looked like for a broker-dealer this big and connected to the world economy to go bankrupt. And no one wanted to know.

Is this the worst storm you've seen on Wall Street?

Certainly, and there are a lot of people who have been in the business longer than me who have never seen anything like it. That tells you something about the significance of what's happening now. The phenomenon of the independent investment bank falling by the wayside is shocking. We thought the model would be challenged in the context of this environment, but it was about producing a 20% return on equity vs. a 10% return. The question was not "Can this model continue to be part of the fabric of Wall Street?"

How could the Street have been so blind?

People have long asked when the crisis would end; and until recently it hasn't been okay for market participants to say 'I don't know.' The challenge in financial services when you have to answer that question is that you are in a confidence-based business. There is a fine line between expressing confidence in a business and highlighting its weaknesses.

The question about why within a day a bank's borrowing cost could double; that's the heart of the matter. It's not that somebody decides overnight that a bank is twice as risky. They wonder if their entire view was misplaced. They wonder whether these types of organizations without deposit bases should borrow at these kinds of rates. That worry stems from a lack of confidence in the institution.

Were you forced out as CFO?

No. It was clear in the 24 hours after we announced second-quarter earnings that the market reaction was just terrible, and there was a rising sense in the organization that a management change was needed. I went back to my office and decided I was willing to step down. I'd only been CFO for six months and hadn't brought us to that moment, but I was the public face of the firm, and we had to show the world that we were making changes. Joe Gregory [then Lehman's COO and president] was thinking about stepping down, but he was not known to the outside world. It would have mattered a lot internally, but I didn't think it would have a big impact on the market. So we decided to do it together - to do the right thing for the organization.

In retrospect I was lucky to get out, but I was so sad. It wasn't a relief at the time. I never thought I would leave that firm. It had such a strong culture. People really lived their lives there. I think Dick felt personally horrible about it because I was his protégée. During this difficult conversation with me, he cried.

What mistakes did you make?

You can't be naive about the press. I had a lot of positive exposure but didn't recognize the opportunity for significant negative exposure. Exposure becomes celebrity, and you get a persona. That persona got away from me and the firm. There were so many pieces to it, not least of which was the phenomenon of a woman CFO on Wall Street. Also, you find out that just because you're the CFO you don't get to make unilateral decisions.

But as CFO you're steward of the cash.

But you're not. There are all these other people in the room making decisions. To sell an asset you need the CEO, the president, and the president of that division to all sign off. I think I could have had a bigger voice had I been in my position longer, but I had been there only a matter of months.

What about your relationships with hedge funds? Part of your Lehman legacy is your battle with David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, who was shorting your stock.

Einhorn and I had one half-hour conversation. I never thought about it again, talked to anybody about it again, knew it was a mistake. The firm asked me to do it. Even though I thought we shouldn't, I did because I was working within a team.

Our job was to work one-on-one with our clients and shareholders to address questions they had based on issues that he raised. But the firm found it difficult to ignore the public dialog he started. Einhorn actually never said anything that was outright false. He had an opinion about lots of things. And he was entitled to his opinion.

Do your clients worry about you because of the flap with Einhorn?

No. They know I'm not part of the campaign against short-sellers. I believe in efficient capital markets. People should make long decisions and short decisions, and they have their investment theses.

What does the future hold for hedge funds?

Big funds will become very large money managers with whole suites of alternative investment products - hedge funds and private equity funds to more traditional long-only investments. Firms that offer all the different assets are likely to be the winners.

Will big players like Fortress, Citadel, and Blackstone (BX) fill the investment-banking void?

I see firms like these easily stepping into some of this void. They're constrained only by their imaginations, and there are a lot of creative people in that community. Some firms are already acting as market makers, lenders, and advisors. But the hedge fund community faces the same issues that brought the Street to its knees: the availability of financing, the proper asset-liability structure of its balance sheet, the ability to raise capital from investors, and the ability to deploy it safely and efficiently over various horizons. Whether you're buy side, sell side - whatever way you're participating in these markets - everyone is being cautious. To top of page

Home Loans Out of Reach even for those with Solid Credit

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wall Street's meltdown has put the squeeze on all sorts of lending, and home loans are no exception. Now, even some very well-qualified home buyers are getting turned down for mortgages.

"A lot of good, well-qualified people are being turned away for no good reason," said Mark Savitt, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and a mortgage broker in West Virginia. "The wheels are coming to a grinding halt."

Sometimes the rejections seem completely inexplicable. Long Island, N.Y.-based mortgage broker Bob Moulton had one client with substantial income and assets who planned to put down $1.2 million on a house selling for $2.2 million. For this borrower, a mortgage should have been a snap. But it wasn't.

The hitch: The buyer was a few days late with a single mortgage payment last year when he was away on vacation. That lowered his credit score to 679, which is the reason the lender cited when it denied his loan.

"Just a little ding on his credit report, one late payment a year-and-a-half ago," said Moulton. "Everything else was fine."

Higher rates

Another example comes from Savitt. One of his clients was buying a home for $205,000, putting down 20%. The buyer had an excellent credit score in the mid-700s, and the house was appraised at a little higher than the sale price.

The problem here: The borrower's debt to income ratio would be at about 45 - slightly higher than what most banks like to see, but by no means excessive. And his other risk factors were great.

"The bank turned it down over excessive debt ratio," said Savitt. "That's crazy."

And higher interest rates are making it even harder for borrowers to get a loan. The 30-year fixed rate has shot up in the wake of the financial crisis - to 6.09%, compared with 5.78% last week - making monthly mortgage payments higher as well. That's raising the debt to income ratio for most borrowers, which means more will have their loan applications rejected.

"

It used to be that if most of a borrower's qualifications were quite strong - income, assets, credit score and the value of the home itself - lenders would use their judgment to make exceptions if one factor was a bit weak.

A lender might accept a less than stellar credit score, for example, if the borrower was making a big down payment, or forgive a modest income if the borrower's bank account was fat enough.

Not any more, says Alan Rosenbaum, president of New York City mortgage broker GuardHill Finance.

"There are no exceptions today," said Rosenbaum. "If an application does not meet each of the guidelines - and those guidelines themselves have gotten more strict - it's denied."

That means many more people simply no longer qualify for a mortgage.

A numbers game

"I get as many phone calls as I got two years ago," said broker George Hanzimanolis, of Bankers First Mortgage in Pennsylvania, "but I bet you 40% of the people calling in, we can't do anything for, versus 5% a year ago."

And Hanzimanolis say it's gotten worse in the last few weeks. One recent client who had excellent assets and income wanted to refinance his first and second mortgages. The house was valued at $1.6 million, and he was looking for a $1.2 million loan. That's an excellent loan-to-value ratio of 75%; the banks like it to be no more than 80%.

But these days many lenders are anticipating that home prices will continue to fall, so they're automatically discounting every home's appraised value by 10%.

That dropped the value of the borrower's home to $1.44 million, which put him over the 80% loan-to-value ratio. So the loan was turned down.

Things like that make brokering mortgage loans today a struggle, according to Moulton.

"Nothing is making sense. Everything is torture right now," he said. "We're getting things done but it takes enormous effort. You think a deal is vanilla and it turns out to be rocky road."

Grid Girls - Engines aren't the only things hot in racing!


Cool collection of Grid Girls and Pit Girl pictures from car races around the world.

click here for the Pics | digg story

Why Has Heroes Failed To Save NBC?

Apparently, the nation doesn't want to see Mohinder Suresh's best Seth Brundle impression. Or maybe it's that they were turned off by the idea of yet another plot that revolved around attempting to change a future that we've already visited, just like the last two seasons. Either way, audience turnout for the much-hyped season premiere for NBC's Heroes was lower than expected - so low, in fact, that Dancing With The Stars and CSI: Miami both kicked the show's metaphorical superpowered ass. So what's gone wrong with the network's former flying franchise?

Ratings for the show's three-hour premiere were down a stunning 25% from last year, which has to be enough to make people over at NBC very nervous (especially when it can't be blamed on network ratings falling across the board; CBS' How I Met Your Mother leaped 21%, and even exceptionally unfunny hit Two And A Half Men jumped up 10% on the same night - gaining from NBC's misfortunes, perhaps) - and with good reason. If a one-time fan favorite show as massively hyped as this one was still manages to lose a quarter of its viewership, then there's definitely something wrong. But what? We've got some ideas.

Too Much Hype
Maybe they just had an hour to fill before the show properly started, but I can't have been the only person completely turned off by the masturbatory "countdown" to the third season premiere. Yes, the show's popular, we get it; no need to spend so long showing us clips boasting about how many countries love Heroes, or have the actors stand awkwardly in front of the camera with their microphones pretending that they care about us. If it wasn't for the wonders of fast-forwarding on TiVo, I wouldn't have stuck around for the real show - and I'm sure that many others felt the same.

The Second Season Syndrome
Yes, it may have fixed some of its problems before the end of its shortened season, but there's no doubt that a large part of the 25% of non-returning viewers jumped ship because of the slow, uneven and often just plain bad nature of the show's second season that squandered a lot of the goodwill that the first had spent weeks of ever-increasing sanity earning. No matter how good the teaser ads for Villains may have been in the middle of the Olympics, the taste of slowly-rotting cheese from S2 is hard to shift.

We Don't Need Another Heroes
We've already had a summer of superhero movies; maybe it's simply superhero exhaustion, and the fact that audiences may not want to watch the knock-offs when they can see the original real deals on the big screen? After all, given the choice between Robert Downey Jr. and Milo Ventimigilia, I can't believe that that many people wouldn't go for the one who didn't spend years on the (admittedly wonderful) Gilmore Girls.

No matter what the reason for the ratings slump, though, it's something that NBC and the Heroes creative teams should be taking steps to fix right away - Maybe a Sunday evening re-run will give the show's second episode a Fringe-like bump, but I'm hoping for something a little more story-led to shake things up enough to get viewers return to the series. Let's start by killing off the two Deus Ex Machinas, Peter and Sylar, and go from there...

Heroes Premiere Down 25% From Last Year [Hollywood Reporter]

The 10 Coolest Old-School Sports Venues That Still Remain

Seating expansion and suite additions gave the arena bowl a pleasantly haphazard feel. The building is short on amenities but long on atmosphere, especially when the Penguins are "running around" on their home ice. This is the last of the old NHL barns; more storied rinks like Chicago Stadium, Boston Garden and the Montreal Forum are gone.

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Top 10 Most Artistic Album Covers

by zeefine


The Velvet Underground And Nico

The Velvet Underground And Nico

The Rolling Stones - Loveyoulive

Pink Floyd - The Division Bell

David Bowie - Diamond dogs

Nirvana in utero

Radiohead - Hail to the Thief

The Chemical Brothers - Push the Button

Van Halen - 1984

Michael Jackson - Dangerous

Elton John - Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy

iPhone accidentally dropped in river, turned into fishing lures.

Iphoneflydy0
Make Pt0995
Captain-ahab writes-

Last week I dropped my new iphone 3G in the Farmington River. It's become a very expensive paperweight so tonight I figured I'd get some use out of it. Seeing it was the river that took it from me, it's gonna at least catch me some fish.
Thanks Jonathan! I can imagine some future where things didn't exactly work out and we're all using dead iPhones to catch fish.

Pick a lock. For fun. (It's legal too)

By Trine Tsouderos

Tribune reporter

September 25, 2008

Give Eric Michaud a can of beer (Guinness works best) and a pair of scissors and he can open just about any garden-variety padlock in seconds.

This is how: During a recent interview at a North Side bar, Michaud, a prominent lockpicking hobbyist (you read it right), cut the top and bottom off a can and carved a wavy M-shape out of the middle. He then folded and refolded it in such a way that it could be inserted between the lock and the shackle. A twist and voila! The lock popped open.

Making shims (as they are called in lockpicking circles and yes, there are lockpicking circles) like these are the source of a little lock pickers' humor, explained Michaud, who is 26, a co-founder of The Open Organization of Lockpickers US (TOOOL, for short) and who is famous, among global lock pickers, for his finesse in making lockpicking tools.

"We say, if you have a soda can next to a few pickers at work, you might want to upgrade your security."

Heh. Heh ... heh. Hmm.

So now is probably a good time to address a disturbing thought that might be forming in your head, about whether we are writing about the Criminal Element, about whether these guys are going to show up in the middle of the night and pick your locks and whether any of us are really safe if a 26-year-old North Sider with a can of stout is able to open a padlock with no trouble at all.


The quick answer is no, we are not safe. The lockpicking community has managed to "tear down," as they say, every single lock it has gotten its hands on except one, the Finnish Abloy Protec. And yeah, they are working hard on that one.

So now that we have you alarmed, the good news, sort of. Bad people trying to break into your home don't pick locks. They break them, or break windows, or come in some other way.

And the lockpicking hobbyists, alert to the fact their "sport" could be used as training for bad people, work hard to weed out anyone suspicious, like new people who arrive at a meeting with a picture of a specific lock they want to open.

"That is the No. 1 concern," said Doug Farre, the 21-year-old founder of Locksport International, a lockpickers' hobbyist group. But, Farre said, once those people find out it can take hundreds of hours of practice to learn to pick that lock, and that it can take a long time to actually do it once you do learn, they are never heard from again.

Michaud, who heads up Chicago's TOOOL chapter by night and works on nuclear security at Argonne National Laboratory by day, said they warn anyone suspicious that they will report them to the police if they even get a whiff that the person is up to no good. It's never gotten that far, he said. "You give the talk and never see them again," he said.

Lock pickers, whose hobby is legal in all 50 states in case you were wondering, have a creed of sorts. It goes something like this: You can pick your own locks, you can pick your friends' locks (with their permission), but you can't pick anyone else's locks.

So with that out of the way, the question remains, what the heck kind of hobby is this?

"When I think of the face of the community, I think of the guys sitting with their kids on the couch picking locks," said Schuyler Towne, editor of Non-Destructive Entry magazine. "Most of the guys are doing it with friends. I do it at my local bar."

You can do it at a bar because you don't have to look at a lock much to pick it. In fact, staring at a lock as you are working on it is useless, because the mechanism is well hidden inside the metal casing. A beginner's mistake is to spend a lot of time peering into the keyhole while trying to open it.

So you can watch TV and pick. You can sit in class and pick. You can listen to the radio and pick. You can chitchat—about lockpicking, if you wish—and pick.

There are now lockpicking clubs all over America (and, for a long time, in places like Germany and Netherlands) from Anchorage to Chicago to Boston.

In Chicago, TOOOL spills a bunch of locks all over tables and picks them while chatting once a month at the Chicago 2600 club meeting, a hackers club (for computer hackers who are to lock pickers as your sister is to your brother).

And, there are competitions, all kinds, from speed picking to key impressioning contests to safecracking races. In a few weeks, in fact, the lockpicking community is holding its oldest and most respected championships, Lock Con, in Sneek, Netherlands.

But more than the social and competitive aspect of lockpicking, it turns out there is a real thrill to picking locks beyond never having to worry about losing your keys (which is a pretty good benefit too).

It's like this big industry—the lock-making industry—really makes intricate puzzles out of steel and iron. The harder the puzzle, the more the lock pickers want to solve it. "It is addicting," Farre said. "Once you feel that lock open, you feel like god."

And that first lock? Magic. "They say you always remember your first lock," said Towne.

"I was ecstatic. I had this huge rush and I thought, 'This is amazing,' " Michaud said, describing the first time he picked a lock. He was at the 2004 Hackers on Planet Earth convention; it was a Master Lock and he used a rake and a torque tool, both of which look like dental instruments.

Today, he finds that technique rather "inelegant" and spends his time fashioning custom tools to exploit weaknesses in specific locks. He is, depending on how you see it, a lock industry nightmare.

It's seductive, that opening of the forbidden. "There is this predisposition that you have to use a key to open a lock and your whole life there is no other way to do it," Farre said. "It goes along with that hacker mentality, that people tell you have to do it this way and you know there is another way to do it."

At the bar, Michaud showed this reporter how to pick a simple Master Lock with a small hook and a torque tool. After this reporter worked on it for many frustrating fruitless minutes, Michaud bent down, his ear near the lock.

Release the torque tool, just a bit, he said. The lock made a barely audible click.

ttsouderos@tribune.com

Pay Poor Women $1000 To Have Their Fallopian Tubes Tied

LaBruzzo: Sterilization plan fights poverty

Tying poor women's tubes could help taxpayers, legislator says

By Mark Waller

Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied. 

 "We're on a train headed to the future and there's a bridge out," LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. "And nobody wants to talk about it."

LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now.

"What I'm really studying is any and all possibilities that we can reduce the number of people that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare," he said.

He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men.

It also could include tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, he said.

LaBruzzo, 38, is white, married to a lawyer, has a toddler daughter and holds a bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University.

He is serving his second term in the Legislature, where he drew attention this year for advocating the controversial legislative pay raise and for trying to abolish the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Commission and its Police Department.

His 81st House District runs from Old Metairie north to Bucktown and west along Lake Pontchartrain to the Suburban Canal. In a somewhat different configuration, it is the same district that sent white supremacist David Duke to the Legislature in 1989.

LaBruzzo described the tube-tying incentive as a brainstorming exercise that has yet to take form as a bill for the Legislature to consider. He said it already has drawn critics who argue the idea is racist, sexist, unethical and immoral. He said more white people are on welfare than black people, so his proposal is not targeting race.

LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said he is simply looking for new ways to address it.

"It's easy to say, 'Oh, he's a racist,' " LaBruzzo said. "The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions."

LaBruzzo said he opposes abortion and paying people to have abortions. He described a sterilization program as providing poor people with better opportunities to avoid welfare, because they would have fewer children to feed and clothe.

He acknowledged his idea might be a difficult sell politically.

"I don't know if it's a viable option," LaBruzzo said. "Of course people are going to get excited about it. Maybe we'll start a debate on it."

. . . . . . .

Mark Waller can be reached at mwaller@timespicayune.com

SACHA BARON COHEN IS IN TROUBLE



For the second time in two days, Sacha Baron Cohen caused a security alert at Milan Fashion Week while filming his Borat follow-up, "Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Male". The Daily Mail says...

Cohen interrupted the fashion show of designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada in Milan making it onto the catwalk dressed as his Austrian model Bruno. Dressed in a black cloak, and a bizarre bundle of clothing, Cohen strutted down the catwalk past the shows' models. But the police were called when he refused to leave to restore order. Yesterday, Cohen caused havoc after bursting into changing rooms. The comedian brought chaos to the Milan fashion show yesterday and caused a major security alert. Scantily clad models screamed and security guards dived on him and several others with him and bundled them away.

Unfortunately it's hard to tell exactly what happened in the video from Italian TV because Bruno barely makes it down the runaway before they kill the lights and the cops jump on him, presumably while saying, "Mama mia! Thata modela isa da fagola. Attack him ana beata him with you clubs."

'The Simpsons' hits a landmark — its 20th season

Season premiere: Ned Flanders must bring Homer to justice after he skips bail in the "Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes" episode that kicks off the 20th season of The Simpsons.



Homer Simpson is gunning for you, Matt Dillon.

With Sunday's premiere (Fox, 8 ET/PT), The Simpsons will tie Gunsmoke's record of 20 seasons on the air.

The writing staff keeps track of the longevity milestones, executive producer Al Jean says, but creator Matt Groening only cops to one record for the iconic Springfield family, its friends and neighbors. "I think we've used more yellow paint than any other TV show," he says.

Both believe the show is still performing strongly despite recording 445 episodes, including a season premiere that has Homer and neighbor Ned Flanders teaming as bounty hunters and Marge Simpson unwittingly going to work at an erotic bakery. "The writers and animators continue to amaze me," Groening says.

He has proof of the show's staying power, too: its 10th Emmy for outstanding animated series, bestowed this month.

"Every time we get an Emmy, it buys us a couple more years" on the air, Groening says. "That gives us one year to wreck the show and one year to run it into the ground."

Actually, they probably have more time for demolition, if they so choose, with the voice actors signed for four years, including the one that starts this weekend. That would put the show over the 500-episode mark, leaving it trailing only Dillon's Gunsmoke (633) and Lassie (588) for the most episodes of an entertainment series.

Other evidence of The Simpsons' continued vitality includes The Simpsons Movie, which took in $526 million worldwide, and The Simpsons Ride, which opened this year at Universal theme parks in California and Florida.

Jean says there will be a movie sequel, but there are no plans yet and it probably wouldn't happen until the TV show ends production.

Asked for a favorite Simpsons moment, Groening chooses slapstick over satiric, each a show specialty.

"There's an episode from a few years ago in which Homer tries to kill a spider in his garage and ends up getting his neck smashed repeatedly by the automatic garage-door opener. It's just an exquisite little piece of mayhem," he says.

His rare disappointment comes when he feels a gag or concept contradicts the history of the show, "such as when we found out that Principal Skinner was really an imposter."

If the show seems to be more political these days, Jean says that it's just reflecting a more politicized "us vs. them" society of recent years.

Even though production begins nearly a year before broadcast, some upcoming shows are timely. When the Simpson house is foreclosed, neighbor Ned Flanders buys it back and rents it to Homer, Marge and company.

"Things turn nasty," Groening says.

In another, when Bart befriends a Muslim boy, Homer suspects the boy's family of organizing a terrorist plot. In a segment of "Treehouse of Horror XIX" (Nov. 2), the annual Halloween trilogy, Homer tries to vote for Barack Obama, but the machine keeps casting ballots for John McCain before attacking him. That episode also features "It's a Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse."

After such a long time, Groening says a major show challenge is to avoid repeating itself, as sometimes happens. He disagrees with critics who question the quality of the show as it ages.

"We've had our ups and downs, but it seems like most people who say the show has gone downhill don't watch it," he says. "The latest episodes are as clever, complicated, sophisticated and wild as any we have ever done."

Groening: Says this year's episodes are very strong.

Groening: Says this year's episodes are very strong.


BIG NAMES STAND READY TO LEND THEIR VOCAL TALENTS

The Simpsons' 20th season will add to its honor roll of guest voices as Jodie Foster plays an adult Maggie and says the character's first words since Elizabeth Taylor voiced "Daddy" as baby Maggie years ago.

Guest episodes include:
  • Homer needs a bail bondsman (Robert Forster) in Sunday's premiere.
  • Bart tries to be a good Samaritan to impress a girl (Anne Hathaway).
  • When Homer is cast as a new movie superhero, Everyman, he needs a trainer (Seth Rogen) to get in shape.
  • Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos and Marv Albert are featured in an episode in which Lisa protests Mr. Burns' new sports arena.
  • Bart gets Denis Leary's cellphone and makes prank calls pretending to be Leary.
  • Lisa meets pop teen singer Alaska Nebraska (Ellen Page).
  • Kenneth Branagh guests in an episode when Homer and Grampa buy an Irish pub.
  • Kelsey Grammer will be back as Bart's perennial would-be killer, Sideshow Bob, and Joe Mantegna returns as Mob boss Fat Tony.
  • Who has eluded the show? "U.S. presidents," executive producer Al Jean says. "Going back to Richard Nixon. They've all said no."

MySpace takes aim at iTunes


Today MySpace is launching a new online music service that it hopes can chip away at iTunes’ dominance in the music retail market. The new initiative from MySpace has the backing of all four of the major music labels. MySpace users, which number over 120 million worldwide, have previously been able to go to the MySpace page of their favorite artists and and stream a few pre-selected songs. The new service, however, will allow users to freely stream songs from a much larger catalog of music with the option to then purchase them from Amazon. Users will also be able to create playlists and share them with their online friends.

The Economics of MySpace Music

The site will be supported through advertisements, with big names like McDonalds and Toyota already on board. But will MySpace be able to make any money off of this venture? According to a few sources, the record companies will be charging MySpace 1 cent for each streamed song. So if a user streams 100 songs, MySpace will owe one dollar, and to make that money back, it will have to charge advertisers 1 dollar for every 100 page impressions (which is obviously 10 dollars for every 1000 page impressions). This is significant because it has been noted that MySpace, in the past, has only been able to charge advertisers 3 dollars for every 1000 page impression

What the ad supported media player looks like

What the ad supported media player looks like.

Moreover, MySpace was only able to entice the big four record companies (Sony BMG Music, Universal, Warner Music, and EMI) to sign on board after offering them each an equity stake in the project, along with a cut of the ad revenue that the site generates. Under such an agreement, it seems that there are too many pieces of the pie to be shared to allow any one party to make any significant amount of money through advertisements - but making money via ads might not actually be the primary goal for the companies involved.

The Apple Model

Keep in mind that Apple has sold over five billion songs through iTunes, yet it barely breaks even with the service. Rather, Apple makes money via the iTunes storewhen consumers purchase iPods to listen to their downloaded iTunes tracks. Similarly, its entirely possible that MySpace and the record labels have larger and more profitable objectives in mind as they prepare to launch the new site.

What MySpace is hoping for

MySpace would delight in anything that keeps users on the website for as long as possible. Even more appealing, yet further down the road, is the idea that MySpace will be able to parlay their new music service into other related streams of revenue such as t-shirt and concert ticket sales. MySpace might be banking on their new service evolving from a streaming music site into a one stop, full service music resource center for consumers.

What the record labels are hoping for

And as for the record labels, they really have nothing to lose and everything to gain with this partnership. They’re making money via ads, and also have an equity stake in the venture. Also, as CD sales continue to decline, old school record executives are desperately seeking new ways to counteract the fact that consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with purchasing their media online. The record companies are also eager to wrestle back some of the power they feel that they’ve lost to Apple and iTunes. If MySpace music takes off and becomes a big hit, it will give the record companies more leverage in future negotiations with Apple. It’s well known that the big record companies aren’t too happy with the fact that Apple refuses to charge more than .99 cents per song per download. They would prefer to see Apple charge higher prices for newer songs and CD’s than for old ones.

Will new features be enough?

Many a service has tried to dethrone iTunes only to suffer a quick and painful defeat. So while MySpace music obviously faces an uphill battle, it seems to be one of the most compelling challenges to iTunes to date. One of the most intriguing features of MySpace music is that it will give users the option to create playlists of up to 100 songs, and listen to them all for free. Typically, streaming music supported via ads does not allow users to pick exactly what song they can listen to, or will only make available a limited number of songs from each artist. This seems to be one of the more attractive features of MySpace music, and with other niceties such as the ability to share playlists with people who are already your online friends, and the ability to search for relevant ringtones, will MySpace music actually cause a dent in Apple’s armor? Take a look at the new MySpace music service here, and see for yourself if iTunes has finally met its match.

7 Seinfeld Spinoffs That Would Have Been Successful

Published by Natty

Seinfeld Spinoffs

Spinoffs are a tough breed.  Most Spinoffs don’t really make it.  In the history of television there have only been a handful that have went on to become successful shows.  The best known examples would probably be Frasier (Cheers),  The Jeffersons (All in the Family), and Knots Landing (Dallas).

Personally I think a great show that could have featured some amazing spinoffs would have been Seinfeld.  But I’m not talking about the stars of the show.  If you’re thinking Kramer, Elaine or George it probably wouldn’t work.  The big four would have a tough time standing alone.

Even Newman would get old, as would the Costanzas.  But what if we used some of the other supporting characters?  Personally I think these 7 would make for great entertainment.

The Puddy Division

Seinfeld Spinoffs

Puddy definitely would have been an excellent lead character on the right show.  The actor that played him (Patrick Warburton), was in fact the star of his own show “Rules of Engagement” that I personally thought sucked.  But if you had a “King of Queens” type of feel where Puddy would have been featured as his mechanic self, pop in some supporting mechanic friends, give him a wife that nags him all the time, you’d have yourself a cross between Everyone Loves Raymond and King of Queens.  The guy who played Alton Benes (Lawrence Tierney) could play Puddy’s dad.  This show is a can’t miss.

Ping and Babu’s Super Terrific Comedy Hour

Seinfeld Spinoffs  Seinfeld Spinoffs

“You are a very bad man Jerry.”  Babu (Brian George) and Ping (Ping Wu) would have been an awesome selection for a spinoff.  Both could be featured in a sketch comedy show including all of the ancillary characters that were only briefly featured on Seinfeld.  Off the top of my head?  You could include Ramone the Pool Guy, The crazy guys that helped George with Frogger, The Soup Nazi, and a whole host more.  This show is a sure winner.

Law and Order with Jackie Chiles

Seinfeld Spinoffs

This would have put Ally McBeal to shame.  A comedic law show could have been a huge hit as long as it starred the ever present Jackie Chiles (Phil Morris).  Hot assistants, a couple of high powered attorneys and trials that extend beyond ridiculous.  Each week a new case with a new crazy character, followed by Chiles giving ludicrous opening statements and cross examination.  Finally, he ends up sleeping with all of his clients.

Moland Spring

Seinfeld Spinoffs

I don’t know about you guys but I would find it hilarious having a show that starred Mr. Pitt (Ian Abercrombie).  Set the show in some factory in Pennsylvania and call it “Moland Spring.”  Personally Mr. Pitt would be a much better character than the dolt Steve Carrell plays on “The Office”.  You could then include disgruntled employees who constantly make fun of Pitt behind his back, etc etc.  Endless possibilities.

Dr. Stan

Seinfeld Spinoffs

Remember Stan the Caddy (Armin Shimerman)?  He’d be a hell of a lot better than Dr. Phil.  You have a talk show that would feature Stan the Caddy as the end all be all of advice.  Women problems, divorces, drug addictions, you name it.  All problems will be solved with golf words of wisdom by Stan the Caddy.

Krueger’s Home Improvement

Seinfeld Spinoffs

The industrial smoothing business, as expected, goes under the tank, but utilizing his exceptional skills around the house, Krueger (Daniel Von Bargen) decides to star in his own Home Improvement show.  The only problem is that on each assignment he forgets a nail or two and every show contains some kind of funny mishap where Krueger says his staple line “I’m not too worried about it.”

Sidra’s “They’re Real and They’re Spectacular”

Seinfeld Spinoffs

This show is featured late night on Showtime or Cinemax.  I’ll leave the plot up to your imagination.

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