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Friday, November 21, 2008

ABC Cancels 'Pushing Daisies' 'Stone' And 'Dirty Sexy Money'


No pickups for 'Daisies,' 'Money' and 'Stone'

Abcshows ABC has decided against picking up "Pushing Daisies," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Eli Stone" for full-season orders.

Producers of the shows are being told that ABC has elected not to order additional hours beyond the original 13-episode commitments.

Actively avoiding the c-word, the network left the door open for ordering more episodes at a future date, though that is considered improbable. The trio are still on the schedule for next week. Going into the holidays, their ratings are unlikely to dramatically improve enough to reverse the decision.

"Money" and "Stone" are still in production (on their 12th and 13th episodes, respectively) and will finish shooting their current order.

Bryan Fuller, creator of the critically acclaimed "Daisies," said he hasn't yet been directly informed of ABC's verdict, but has been been playing phone tag with the network's entertainment president.

"I assumed that's what [the call] was about," he wrote. "I can't help but feel immense pride when it comes to 'Pushing Daisies.' I'm grateful TO everyone and FOR everyone who brought the show to life and for the very loyal audience that embraced us. If we are indeed dead on ABC, we now have to convince DC Comics to let us tell the rest of the season's story lines out in comic book form and convince Warner Bros. features to let 'Pushing Daisies' live again as a movie."

All the shows were in their second season, with "Daisies" and "Money" having been disrupted by the writers strike last year and "Stone" having launched in midseason earlier this year. "Daisies" averaged 6.4 million viewers and a 2.3 adult demo rating. "Money" averaged 6.6 million and a 2.3. "Stone" averaged 7.9 million and a 2.1. On Wednesday night, "Daisies" and "Money" hit series-low ratings, and "Stone" sank to match its series low on Tuesday.

UPDATE: ABC books "Scrubs" for midseason, makes "Life on Mars"-after-"Lost" and "Practice"-after-"Grey's plan official.

UPDATE II: Fuller got Steve McPherson on the phone and the ABC executive said...

UPDATE III: ABC orders four more episodes of "Life on Mars"

>> Updated: Fall TV survival status report

10 Most Incredible Mazes and Labyrinths

10 Most Incredible Mazes and Labyrinths

Thu, Nov 20, 2008

Featured

Villa Pisani

Mazes and labyrinths are more part and parcel of our culture than people realise. Their roots can be traced back to Greek mythology and Paganism, where they were regarded as mystical. It wasn’t until a few hundred years ago that mazes were designed for fun (sadists), and often became a perfect meeting place for secret lovers and cunning planners. Over time they have become associated with entrapment and enclosure as our imaginations run wild.

We’ve found some of the world’s largest, craziest and highest mazes so you can loose yourself in the great tangled weave of the web for a while. They’re simply quite a-maze-ing.

g
via Blue Moon Cottages
1. Ashcombe Maze is found on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne. It’s Australia’s largest and oldest maze and measures three meters high by two meters wide. The gardens also boast the world’s oldest rose maze, which blooms 217 varieties of roses on 1,200 bushes.

2. Richardson Farm in Illinois has become something of a fixture in the maze-making stakes. Every year they create a new maze just before the harvest and allow the general public to come and enjoy getting lost in nature. This Aztec style face was one of the smaller mazes mowed out a few years ago.
face
MineshaftCanaries

3. Fancy a game of snakes and ladders? It might take a while, though. This maze was lovingly created by Michael Blee of Gore Farm, Upchurch in Kent. The hedges are a whopping 9ft tall and meander over 6 acres of land. Mr Blee hopes the giant game makes it into the Guinness Book of Records.
snakes and ladders
via Daily Mail

4. Ever wanted to get locked in an enchanted castle and wait for your Prince Charming to come? Well, now’s your chance. The castle is one of the 2008 mazes on Richardson Farm, but it closes at the end of October so you only have a few days for your knight in shining armour to whisk you away to pastures new. A labyrinth, like this castle, has one way in and one way out so you have to follow a certain route to escape. Mazes can have multiple entrances and exits with lots of dead ends, so can be much more confusing.
castle
Richardson Farm

5. Officially the world’s largest maze, according to the Guinness Book of Records 2001, the Pineapple Garden Maze offers over three miles of paths on three acres. You really wouldn’t want to get lost. It is located in Waimea Bay, Hawaii at Dole Plantation and certainly looks scary from the air.
pineapple 2
Cosmic kid

6. Once one of the world’s largest plant mazes, this circular creation covers 10 acres of land at Reignac-sur-Indre in Touraine, France. It too is reaped every year and grows back in a different form as a result of careful design, planning and farming.
Plant Maze
via Les Bazeilles

7. This corn maze challenge is part of Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Get lost in 2.5 miles of trails over five acres, but don’t worry, it’s difficult to get lost in this one – there are maze masters on hand to help out should you find yourself being consumed by it all. As long as you keep images of Children of the Corn out of your head, you’ll be fine. Maybe.
Cherry Crest Farm
Cherry Crest Farm

8. The English have always loved elaborate mazes and one of their most famous can be found within the grounds of the majestic Hampton Court Palace, not far from London. The maze was planted in the late 1600s for King William of Orange and covers an area of 60 acres. Only a small section is shown here. The palace itself dates back to the time of King Henry VIII in the early 1500s and remains in excellent condition.
hampton court
Image: Binusha

9. The Georgeson Botanical Garden in Fairbanks, Alaska is officially a maze, and is still a work in progress, even after seven years. This photograph shows only three petals completed but since the image was taken the other petals have been planted.
Georgeson Maze
Fresh Dirt

10. The maze at Villa Pisani, in the Veneto region of Italy, was created in the early 1700s, and is said to be once of the world’s most complicated. Located in the town of Stra, the maze is made up of layers of pathways in 12 concentric rings with high hedges leading to a central tower. Famously, because Napoleon had once been lost in the maze, when Hitler and Mussolini met for a chin wag there, neither of them were willing to venture into the maze in case they too got lost. Imagine the path of history then.
Villa Pisani
Follies of Europe

Pamela Anderson Wants Obama to Check Out Her Huge Ideas

Pamela Anderson's pot plea


Pamela Anderson wants marijuana to be legalised.

The former 'Baywatch' star has written an open letter to US President-elect Barack Obama, outlining ways to make the country better.

Pamela believes cultivating the illegal substance would "save children" and help the environment.

She wrote on her official blog: "I think we should legalise marijuana, tax and monitor - farm hemp etc. This would make our borders less corrupt and then I think eventually this will be a more secure option and save children in the long run - we should be able to farm hemp in America - it's just silly. It would create jobs and be good for the environment."

Pamela also controversially suggests anyone found guilty of molesting children or possessing child pornography, should be castrated for their crimes.

She continues: "Government must castrate every molester - potential molester - err on the safe side.

If any child pornography is found in anyone's possession, or anyone creating such atrocities, or if any child is brave enough to come forward (at any young age to bring attention to a potential molester - listen) they need to be taken very seriously and see that justice is served.

"The abuse is way worse than any trial could be - our children need more protection and justice seen. It needs to be PREVENTED not just punished."

Sarah Palin Turkey Incident: Does TV Interview While Turkeys Are Slaughtered In The Background

Some videos you just have to see to believe. On Thursday, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin appeared in Wasilla in order to pardon a local turkey in anticipation of Thanksgiving. This proved to be a slightly absurd but ultimately unremarkable event. But what came next was positively surreal. After the pardon Palin proceeded to do an interview with a local TV station while the turkeys were being SLAUGHTERED in the background!! Seemingly oblivious to the gruesomeness going on over her shoulder, she carries on talking for over three minutes. Watch the video below to see for yourself. Be warned, it's kind of gruesome.

Watch the video.


Amsterdam moves to close a fifth of 'coffee shops'

Holland gets tough on cannabis Play Video Reuters – Holland gets tough on cannabis

In this Sept. 24, 2004 file photo, a tourist smokes marijuana at a coffeeshop AP – In this Sept. 24, 2004 file photo, a tourist smokes marijuana at a coffeeshop called 'de Dampkring' or …

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Amsterdam will close almost a fifth of its marijuana cafes to comply with a national ban on having them near schools, the mayor said Friday.

Another city, Eindhoven, said it would start issuing permits to marijuana growers in order to better regulate the trade — if the national government approves.

The plans were announced as 33 major Dutch cities held a "weed summit" to discuss the nation's long-standing policy of tolerating marijuana use while routinely arresting growers.

Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but can be sold in small amounts in designated cafes — euphemistically known as "coffee shops" — without fear of prosecution. More than a quarter of the country's cafes are in Amsterdam, where they are a major tourist attraction.

But Mayor Job Cohen said the city would close about 20 percent of its cafes.

Those included some landmarks, such as The Bulldog — a high-traffic shop operating since 1985 in a former police station on one of the city's main squares.

Letters have been sent to 43 shops located within 250 meters (yards) of a high school informing them they will have to close by the end of 2011 if they cannot successfully appeal the decision, Amsterdam spokeswoman Iris Reshef said. Though she added that the city did not have any major problems with the cafes.

But other cities closer to the Netherlands' borders have expressed frustration at being bombarded by "drug tourists" from Germany, France or Belgium seeking to stock up on marijuana — an often finding ways to bypass a 5 gram (1/5 ounce) purchase limit.

"If the border areas shut down tomorrow, then (inland cities) Den Helder and Almere will soon be suffering," said Mayor Geert Leers of the southern border city Maastricht.

Representatives at the summit Friday in Almere, 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Amsterdam, also discussed the policy of arresting growers, which left cafes with no way to legally source their most lucrative product.

Eindhoven Mayor Rob van Gijzel said his city wanted to set up a pilot scheme of issuing permits to growers.

"People will be able to ask for a permit to grow for fixed prices," he said after the summit. "It'll be regulated in terms of produce and revenues, but also movement, in transports to the coffee shops."

Amsterdam backed the idea of expanding the tolerance policy to growers, the city spokeswoman said, noting it could help keep organized crime out.

"We don't have any insight to what goes on behind the back door," Reshef said. "What we need is a closed supply chain."

But the national government must approve the scheme, and it was unclear how long that could take or if it was even likely. Polls suggest most voters support decriminalizing marijuana cultivation, but the coalition government is led by the conservative Christian Democrats, which opposes it.

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said Thursday he had "no intention" of changing national marijuana policy.

The Dutch Parliament voted to regulate growers once before in 2005, but the government refused, saying it would lead to a confrontation with the European Union.

According to data compiled by the Netherlands' Trimbos Institute for Mental Health and Addiction, after 30 years of the Dutch tolerance policy, usage rates here are somewhere in the middle of international norms — above those in Germany and the Scandinavian countries, but below those of France, Britain and the United States.

19-year-old Commits Suicide on Justin.tv

In a striking display of the power of live video, Abraham K. Biggs committed suicide on Wednesday while broadcasting himself on video site Justin.tv. As we understand it from various forum posts, the 19-year-old Floridian was apparently egged on by commenters on Justin.tv and fellow forum users on bodybuilding.com. Biggs overdosed on pills while on camera and appeared to be breathing for hours until watchers realized he might be serious, at which point they alerted the police. The video kept running until police and EMTs broke Biggs’ door down and blocked the camera’s view.

We confirmed Biggs’ death with the Broward County medical examiner. The Justin.tv video and many of the forum posts have been taken down.

When asked about the broadcast via email, Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel said:

As for the broadcaster incident last night, we don’t comment on individual videos, however, our policy prohibits inappropriate content on Justin.tv. We rely on the community to flag videos that they feel are objectionable. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed and quickly removed from the system if it violates our Terms of Use.

We won’t post the disturbing content here, but much of it is still online. Images of the broadcast have been posted here and here, and there’s also a suicide note from Biggs, who went by the screenname CandyJunkie. An account of forum users watching the broadcast and calling the police is here. There are also rest-in-peace comments on what appears to be Biggs’ MySpace page. The Justin.tv broadcast used to be here.

The contention that filming and uploading (and even hosting video of) a crime is a crime as well might not be valid, but given the very nature of live broadcasts, the issue becomes more complicated.

And it’s not as if technology enabled the taking of a life, or as if this hasn’t happened before. A British man hung himself last year after allegedly being goaded on by fellow users on Paltalk, another live video site. There was even a widely distributed movie on the topic of live-streamed killings released earlier this year called Untraceable. But last night’s incident raises a thought-provoking question regarding free hosting of live broadcasts — what could sites like Justin.tv possibly do to prevent live-streamed snuff films?

Justin.tv has already come under fire for another problem with live broadcasts — copyright infringement. The Premier League is reportedly threatening legal action against the site over unauthorized broadcasts of soccer games. Justin.tv, which is a free service, has maintained it complies with takedown requests according to the law — but with live broadcasts, the key event often ends before lawyers can get involved. Or in Biggs’ case, before people who care about him could get through.

New Biomass Plants Called For in Obama’s Green Agenda

Biomass combined heat and power plant (CHP)

Biomass combined heat and power plant

Earlier this year, Congress extended the production tax credits for renewable power sources like solar, wind and biomass. Locally, in my Central Oregon region, several new biomass plants may remain viable as a result of the election of Obama as the 44th President of the United States. These include the Warm Springs Biomass plant, and a similar plant proposed by Silvan Power in Prineville, Oregon.

Obama’s green agenda is clear. He campaigned on promises to create 5 million “green jobs.” In order to make these jobs and renewable energy a reality, the production tax credits may be extended for 5 years (although they were extended under the $700 billion bailout plan, they are currently set to expire one year from now).

Obama says:

“This program will provide incentives to farmers and other local producers of renewable energy to boost rural renewable energy production.”

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? But what do you know about biomass? Here is a quick Biomass 101:

Biomass heat and energy can be created by new biomass plants from the breakdown of wood products and other organic materials. For example, when the Forest Service thins tree stands to cut down on fire fuels, the woody debris can be sent to new biomass plantsto be turned into biomass fuel and/or heat. Simiarly, waste from wood mills can also be used in this manner.

The University of Idaho has been heating its Moscow campus for 2 decades by burning waste from local mills. We should see more schools and universities follow in its footsteps under the federal Fuels for Schools program which provides subsidies to schools that install biomass boilers. A school in Montana that implemented the program saved over $90,000 in heating oil costs in the past year!

Europe is leading North America (for now!) when it comes to new biomass plants, however. Check out this video:

Here on the other side of the pond, of several new biomass plants under consideration in Oregon, the Warm Springs project is proposed to be a $50 million, 20-megawatt power plant that will provide steam heat and electricity to a lumber mill next door. A remaining 15.8 megawatts generated will provide power over the grid for 12,000 homes. Tax credits will help make the project viable.

Living in an area heavily covered with forests that need constant, consistent management, I would much rather see the wood debris sent to new biomass plants than burned! I am excited to watch the development of new, green technology and witness less wasteful depletion of natural energy resources. Obama’s green agenda will - I believe - lead us out of the recession and create many new green collar jobs. At the same time, we can breathe a little easier as our reliance on fossil fuels will ease through the use of biomass fuel and heat. Don’t you agree?

New Dallas Cowboys stadium to host 2014 NCAA Final Four

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News
jmosier@dallasnews.com

ARLINGTON – The Dallas Cowboys’ fortunes have been up and down on the field this year, but their record is perfect at their new stadium in Arlington.

Video
Final Four to be held at Cowboys Stadium
11/19/2008

The $1.1 billion stadium is now 3-for-3 in bids for mega-sporting events after the announcement Wednesday that it would host the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. The stadium, which opens in 2009, is already home to the 2010 NBA All-Star Game and the 2011 Super Bowl.

Team owner Jerry Jones initially said he intended the new stadium to be not just a football venue but a showplace for the entire region. He said he’d go after the nation’s biggest events, and he has — with great success.

“Substantive events begat other events,” Mr. Jones said Wednesday at a news conference at the stadium. “You’re passing a lot of scrutiny and a lot of tests. It’s putting a very creditable stamp on the stadium before it even opens.”

Mike Slive, chairman of the NCAA selection committee, said that North Texas made a great bid, but it helped that the stadium already landed two other giant sporting events ahead of the Final Four.

“We’re delighted to let somebody else suffer through learning how to do it just right and getting it ready for us,” Mr. Slive said.

New Orleans, Atlanta, Houston and Indianapolis also were awarded Final Fours.

Cowboys officials have said from the beginning that their goal was to become regular hosts of these mega-events, including Final Fours and Super Bowls. The stadium will also host an NCAA regional tournament a year before the Final Four, in 2013.

Houston is hosting a Final Four in 2011 in addition to the one in 2016 it was awarded Wednesday. The other three host cities also have had this event on a frequent basis.

The Final Four games in Arlington — to be held on April 5 and 7 — also have the potential to accommodate 93,000 fans and shatter the NCAA’s attendance record. The current record of 64,959 was set in 1987 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans when Indiana defeated Syracuse with a now legendary last-second shot.

This fits neatly with Mr. Jones’ stated goal of also breaking the Super Bowl attendance record. NBA Commissioner David Stern also said in recent weeks that there was a possibility that 100,000 tickets could be sold to his league’s All-Star Game in Arlington, which would be a record crowd to see a basketball game in the U.S.

The art of the deal

While the Cowboys’ new glass and steel home was the basis for the bid, it turned out to be just part of the appeal to the NCAA. Bill Lively, who worked on the region’s “Athletes and Arts” themed presentation, said the 10-member selection committee was told to think of the proposal as a barbell.

At one end was the new Cowboys stadium, and at the other end was the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

“Bring your basketball teams and their coaches and alumni and fans, and they will play in the greatest arena for the biggest audience ever to see a basketball game,” Mr. Lively said.

That was the obvious part of the pitch. Besides that, Mr. Lively said, regional officials told the NCAA to have those teams bring their glee clubs, chorales, bands and orchestras to perform in Dallas’s expanding Arts District.

The $338 million Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, which also opens in 2009, will include an opera house, theater, performance hall and performance park.

Tim Allen, senior associate commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, said the downtown Dallas Arts District could be home for many of the tournament’s signature off-the-court events, such as the Big Dance and Hoop City.

“The Jones family and the people that are building the performing arts center appreciate both areas,” Mr. Lively said. “We appreciate athletics and entertainment, and we appreciate the arts. When we made this extraordinary bid, we decided that one of the best ways to do it was to portray Dallas and region for all of what it represents.”

John Scovell, who led the 1986 Final Four host committee, said that tournament was an important moment in Dallas history. Professional basketball was just starting to gain a toehold in an area steeped more in the traditions of the gridiron than the hardwood.

“It’s always said our two biggest sports are football and spring football,” Mr. Scovell joked.

He said that weekend at Reunion Arena stirred enthusiasm for basketball and signaled that North Texas would become a diverse sports region, eventually creating a fan base for all four major team sports.

“It’s just the confirmation of the sports legacy that exists here in North Texas,” he said about the new Final Four. “That’s a reputation that we have been building, and it was the ’86 games that put us on the map.”

'Major renaissance'

Philip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said that landing the Final Four as well as the other events is pushing the region into a different category.

“It puts us on a list of a select few key cities in America that host signature events of this size,” he said, specifically mentioning New Orleans, Atlanta and South Florida. “That’s not something that Dallas could have done in the past without the investment that’s been made in the stadium and the regional collaboration and cooperation.”

He said the buzz generated by these announcements makes people look at his city with a fresh perspective and notice what he calls a “major renaissance.”

“A lot of times, we talk to clients who haven’t been to Dallas in several years and they still think of Dallas from that 1970s, ’80s J.R. Ewing image,” he said.

Now, Philip Jones said, the bureau has booked about a dozen groups that chose Dallas for a meeting at least partially because the region was hosting Super Bowl XLV. Also, he said that the 2007-08 fiscal year was the bureau’s best ever for future bookings, and the Super Bowl has been one of his best selling points.

The timing of the Final Four announcement couldn’t be better for him, he said, noting that the bureau is hosting a two-day gathering for 40 major meeting and convention planners.

He said he knows what his opening pitch will be at 8:30 a.m. Thursday: “We’ve got great news. Since you were last here, we booked the NBA All-Star Game and the men’s Final Four.”

Staff writer Brandon George contributed to this report.

COMING TO COWBOYS STADIUM

Confirmed sporting events at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington

Oct. 3, 2009: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas football game (10-year contract with options of up to 20 more years)

Dec. 5, 2009: Big 12 football championship

Jan. 2, 2010: AT&T Cotton Bowl (10 year contract with options of up to 25 more years)

Feb. 14, 2010: NBA All-Star game

Dec. 4, 2010: Big 12 football championship

Feb. 6, 2011: Super Bowl XLV

Oct. 5, 2013: Notre Dame vs. Arizona State football

April 5 and 7, 2014: NCAA Final Four

IN THE WORKS

Possible events at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington

Undetermined date: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State football

Dec. 19, 2009: Texas vs. North Carolina basketball

Undetermined date: NCAA Lacrosse Final Four

Surgeons perform world's first pediatric robotic bladder reconstruction

Pediatric surgeon Mohan Gundeti MD at the Da Vinci console. Credit: University of Chicago Medical Center
Pediatric surgeon Mohan Gundeti, MD, at the Da Vinci console. Credit: University of Chicago Medical Center

A 10-year-old Chicago girl born with an abnormally small bladder that made her incontinent has become the first patient to benefit from a new robotic-assisted bladder-reconstruction method developed by surgeons at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The first patient, treated Feb. 21, 2008, suffered from a very small, spasmodic bladder, a birth defect that led to gradual kidney damage and loss of urinary control.

"We refer to this condition as neurogenic bladder," said team leader Mohan S. Gundeti, MD, assistant professor of surgery and chief of pediatric urology at the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital. "Her bladder could barely hold six ounces. Worse, it produced frequent involuntary contractions, which forced the urine back up into the kidneys, where it slowly but inevitably causes damage, including frequent infections."

The girl always felt that she urgently had to go to the bathroom. She stopped drinking juice or soda. She even cut back on water, to less than two cups a day. Medication helped a little, but despite two years of trying different treatments, the problem continued to get worse and began to cause kidney damage, which made surgery necessary.

Although Gundeti had performed the operation to enlarge and relax a tiny spasmodic bladder many times, it had never been done robotically--an approach that has produced quicker recovery, less pain and minimal scars in other procedures.

"This is a major, lengthy operation," he said, "essentially five smaller procedures done in sequence."

Known as an augmentation ileocystoplasty with Mitrofanoff appendicovesicostomy, the surgery normally begins with a big incision, about six inches long, from above the navel down to the pubic area, followed by placement of retractors to pull the stomach muscles out of the way.

"The robotic approach enabled us to avoid that entire incision, which causes significant post-operative pain, presents an infection risk and leaves a big scar," Gundeti said.

Instead, the robotic tools enter the abdomen through five small, dime-sized holes. In this operation, the surgeons use about 12 inches of intestine to reconstruct a larger bladder, "more than twice the original size," said Gundeti. "Plus, it can no longer contract with the same force."

Then they converted the appendix into a "continent conduit," a drain for the new, expanded bladder, with one end implanted into the wall of the bladder and the other end leading outside the body through small outlet in the lower abdomen. A skin flap covers the fleshy appendix opening.

"No one had ever done the full operation this way," Gundeti said. "It requires a lot of familiarity with both the open operation and considerable laparoscopic experience."

This first case took about ten hours, compared to six-to-eight hours for an open procedure. The team included Gundeti and adult urologists Arieh Shalhav and Gregory Zagaja, as well as follows, residents and the nursing team. The team was able to reduce OR time in the subsequent cases.

After such a long, complicated operation, "I expected my daughter to be covered with bandages and gauze and tape, to have a big swollen belly with a big wound," the patient's mother recalled. "But there was none of that. I was stunned. Her belly was flat and normal, no bandages, not even a band-aid, just a few little cuts that looked like they had been covered with glue. Oh, I thought, she's going to like this. No big scars. She could wear a bikini."

"I would not want her to wear a bikini," she added, "but she could."

"Patients like surgery without significant scars," Gundeti said. "We also hope to show that in addition to the benefit of no big wound to heal, just five small punctures, there is less risk of infection, quick recovery and less pain."

Pain management for this case consisted of oral medications, rather than the traditional morphine and epidural anesthesia, which is contraindicated in young patients who have had previous spine surgery.

The patient started drinking clear liquids six hours after surgery and eating within 24 hours, which she "greatly appreciated," Gundeti said. She went home about four days after her surgery and within six weeks was completely continent, day and night. "This is a great benefit for the child and her family," Gundeti said.

Although she still has empty her bladder with a regular catheter, it is now easier to do and is far more reliable at retaining urine.

"She hasn't had a leak since then," her mother said. "She can drink water, or juice, even soda. She's enjoying the freedom she never had."

Source: University of Chicago Medical Center

Total Recall: Sexy Vampires

In honor of Twilight, we pay tribute to some of cinema's hottest bloodsuckers.

This week, the hotly-anticipated Twilight hits theaters. The film, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the tale of young vampires in love, got us thinking: blood suckers are sexy. Thus, we thought we'd present a compendium of some of the hottest vampires in big-screen history!


more info...

Aaliyah
Appears in: Queen of the Damned (2002)
Tomatometer: 14%

Six years after Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt surprised Anne Rice fans with a commercially-successful adaptation of the author's novel Interview with the Vampire, Warner Bros. rushed into production on a follow-up, skipping Interview's direct sequel The Vampire Lestat in favor of shooting a revamped version of Rice's sexier third book; the result was 2002's Queen of the Damned, a critical and commercial failure that drew comparisons to the Goth-pop music videos streamed on MTV. Despite all this, Queen of the Damned featured a central performance by the late R&B star Aaliyah (the victim of a tragic airplane crash six months before the film's release) that remains one of the sexiest, if utterly camp-tastic, vampire portrayals put to celluloid. Scantily clad and golden-eyed as the Egyptian vampire queen Akasha -- the oldest and most powerful of all vampires on earth -- Aaliyah slithered her way through Queen with the lithe poise of a dancer, and memorably joined Stuart Townsend's Lestat in a rose petal-strewn bath that still has us steamed. Damned to the ranks of rotten on the Tomatometer? Yes. Queen of the sexiest vampire movies in history? Undoubtedly.






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Kate Beckinsale
Appears in: Underworld (2003), Underworld: Evolution (2006)
Tomatometer: 27%, 14%

As if Kate Beckinsale needed to do anything more than slink into a black leather bodysuit, her Selene in 2003's Underworld possesses superhuman strength, packs major firepower, and has a taste for blood -- the ultimate lethal, sexy succubus. The only thing that could make this vampire sexier? Her steamy forbidden romance with one Michael Corvinus (Scott Speedman), the human-turned-werewolf who happens to be the newfound enemy of her people. That the camera in both Underworld and its 2006 sequel, Underworld: Evolution, near-fetishizes Selene's every move doesn't hurt (director Len Wiseman begun dating his star halfway through filming on Underworld and married her in 2004). While the next Underworld installment, Rise of the Lycans, will go Beckinsale-less -- it's a prequel story starring Rhona Mitra and Michael Sheen, Beckinsale's real-life ex -- look for her hugely anticipated return to the vampire lady assassin role in a rumored fourth Underworld film.



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Anne Parillaud
Appears in: Innocent Blood (1992)
Tomatometer: 42%

This gangster/vampire hybrid from John Landis failed to excite the critics, who found it to be an uneasy marriage between supernatural and crime drama tropes, with an excess of gore. However, there's a good reason to see it: Anne Parillaud, who plays a Pittsburgh blood-sucker that gets in over her head when she fails in the contract killing of a crime boss, who becomes one of the undead himself. Parillaud, hot off a supporting role in La Femme Nikita, didn't quite crack the American market with Innocent Blood, but her performance as a sex-and-blood crazed vampire turned some genre fans' heads.






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Catherine Deneuve
Appears in: The Hunger (1983)
Tomatometer: 44%

Long on atmosphere but short on plot, Tony Scott's debut, The Hunger, is still remembered for Catherine Deneuve's performance as of the sexiest vampires in movie history. Deneuve stars as Miriam Blaylock, who looks terrific given the fact that she's been feasting on human blood since the days of King Tut. John (David Bowie), her longtime companion, is on death's door, aging decades in hours. He turns to an attractive young doctor named Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who is baffled by his condition; when she turns up at John's house, Miriam is waiting, and decides Sarah might make a suitable replacement. Critics felt that the love scene between Deneuve and Sarandon was one of the few reasons to see The Hunger, but for many, that's reason enough. Plus, The Hunger provided young Goths with one of their most treasured love songs -- "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus.



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Vampyros Lesbos
Appears in: Vampyros Lesbos (1970)
Tomatometer: 50%

A classic of Eurotrash exploitation cinema, Vampyros Lesbos has a classy veneer that belies its seedy subject matter. Vampyros stars the beautiful Soledad Miranda in one of her last roles (she died in 1970 in an auto accident) as Nadine, a vampire that haunts the dreams of American lawyer Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Stromberg), who is tasked with handling Nadine's inheritance. Linda is both attracted to Nadine and scared of her -- after all, she is a sexy vampire. In retooling Bram Stoker's short story Dracula's Guest for the psychedelic era, director Jesus Franco concocted a brightly-colored soft-core fantasyland, with cheesy freak-out camera work, beautiful Turkish locales, and a sitar-mad, way-too-funky soundtrack that Quentin Tarantino memorably cribbed for a key scene in Jackie Brown. In terms of both eroticism and scares, Vampyros Lesbos might seem tame by today's standards, but it's still pretty hot.






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Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt
Appear in: Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Tomatometer: 59%

Critics were split on Neil Jordan's adaptation of Anne Rice's bestselling vampire chronicle, but there was one demographic that was thoroughly impressed: the ladies. Starring Tom Cruise at the height of his powers, and Brad Pitt on the way up, Interview with the Vampire was, for the fairer gender, a gothic nightmare and a dream come true all at once. Cruise played Lestat, the merciless bloodsucker who leads despondent Louis (Pitt) to the dark side; Louis is conflicted, but later decides to sink his teeth into his new lifestyle, bringing a young girl (played by Kirsten Dunst) along for the ride. If some found the violence to be a little much, that didn't stop Interview posters from lining the walls of female dorm rooms across the country.






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Salma Hayek
Appears in: From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)
Tomatometer: 66%

In Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, George Clooney and co-screenwriter Quentin Tarantino play a pair of bank-robbing brothers on the run from the law. While cooling their heels in a boarder gin house (the name of which is unprintable in a family website), the brothers gaze lovingly upon the exotically-monikered Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek), the bar's main attraction. She's something to behold: a dancer who's minimally clothed, save for a giant snake, she's also got a taste for blood -- which she shares with the rest of the establishment's employees. From Dusk Till Dawn was a breakout role for Hayek, and it's not hard to see why: she makes sharp teeth look hot, and brings new meaning to the term "snake charmer."



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Jason Patric
Appears in: The Lost Boys (1987)
Tomatometer: 77%

Joel Schumacher's 1987 cult classic The Lost Boys had more than a few magic elements going for it: a gang of modern-day punk vamps, a hunky 21-year-old Jason Patric (or, if you prefer, a hunky 21-year-old Kiefer Sutherland), and the two Coreys! The comedy-horror tale of brothers (Corey Haim and Patric) who stumble upon a network of vampires in a seaside California town benefited from its teen idol cast -- which included actress Jami Gertz in her hottie heyday -- as much as it did from the eternally-quotable Frog brothers (played by Jamie Newlander and Corey Feldman). But Patric's tortured, drool-worthy performance as the half-vampire Michael (not to mention his sweltering love scene with Gertz' Star) earned him a spot on our Tiger Beat-plastered walls -- and made us think we wouldn't mind drinking a little vampire blood wine ourselves.






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Monica Bellucci
Appears in: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Tomatometer: 81%

Bram Stoker's Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola's sensuous vampire flick, makes a key point about the Count: It's not the worst gig in the world. Sure, you have to suck blood, live in the dark, and avoid garlic, but there's hardly a shortage of female companionship. In BSD, Dracula (Gary Oldman) is hot for Mina (Winona Ryder) and Lucy (Sadie Frost), but when he's not ravaging innocents, he's got three hot wives waiting at home -- among them Monica Bellucci, who made her English language debut here. Despite their vivaciousness, however, the brides come with a downside: they're always nagging the poor count to get them more blood.




If you're new to the world of Twilight and could use a quick primer on the major players, check out our Twilight Character Guide here. For a rundown of star Robert Pattinson's five favorite movies, click here. And for the complete Total Recall archives, click here.

Finally, here's a vampire with a face only his (presumably thousand-year-old) mother could love:


Ganja Tours: The Amsterdam Coffeeshop Experience



"THE DUTCH COFFEESHOP EXPERIENCE" Adventure Traveler Big D Travels to Amsterdam for an Inside look at the unique Dutch Coffeeshop and Cannabis Culture. See Amsterdam's famous Coffeeshops Where Cannabis and Hashish are sold. Visit Amsterdam's Hash, Hemp and Marijuana Museum. Get an exclusive tour of the Cannabis College. Learn about Industrial Hemp with Ben Dronkers.

Lost Season 5 Poster! Uber Cool.


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MORE LOST!

The NEW Music Video Reveals Secret LOST Site!

The NEW Lost Promo

Crisis on Dealers Row

I recently walked down Northern Blvd., the center of auto sales in the New York City borough of Queens. There I found varying degrees of fear, hope and anger among dealers whose livelihood depends on selling people cars. The problem is - no one's buying them.

"I used to be proud of this country," said one dealer, who did not wish to be identified by name. A recent immigrant, he now managed a small lot. "I used to shout wherever I went, all over the world, how great America is. The land of opportunity. You can achieve whatever you want. Now, look at all this."

His dealership was empty, not only of customers, but of staff. No one greeted me as I entered because the receptionist had already been laid off - so had most of the salespeople.

When I found the manager in a back office, he first said he couldn't help me. But then he talked for about a half hour about the poor state of his business. Sales have fallen 80% from last year. He used to have 20 sellers on staff; now he has five.

He talked about the independent used car lots on Northern Blvd. that were shuttered and for sale. Real estate agents used to want $200,000 up front for a lot like that, he said. Now they're not moving at all.

The prospect of major auto manufacturers getting $25 billion from a government bailout struck him as a pathetic waste. "Why give that money to them?" he asked. "Give that to the people. Give it to us, the small businesspeople."

He blamed the banks, which had once financed the cars he sold, for causing the crash that now threatened to wipe him out. He said lenders recklessly gave auto loans to buyers who clearly weren't able, or willing, to pay their debts.

"I would say 'Why in the world are you financing this guy!'" Now those same lenders won't write loans for the very few customers that do come through his doors.

Ten Hottest Mac Chicks

10 Hottest Mac Chicks from Macenstein

Apple no doubt has an excellent range of consumer products such as the iMac, Macbook, iPod and iPhone which are truly stylish and elegant.

What makes these products even more supreme is the manner in which they are advertised and promoted.

Compiled below is a list of the 10 Hottest Mac Chicks from Macenstein, wearing and playing with some amazing Apple products.

1. Morgan Kennedy

Kennedy from New York tops the list with a sexy red undergarment outfit. She is one of the most popular web hotties and a Macbook lover.

2. Sarah Kuehn

Kuehn, a southern Florida art school student makes the Macbook and iPod look more elegant and stylish.

3. Alexandra

Alexandra, a full-time accounting student and part-time waitress knows well where to position the Macbook.

4. Elise Frappier

Elise, a French-Canadian illustrator is a Photoshop expert and loves using the Apple gear.

5. Cara Rae

Cara, a San Diego State college student currently majoring in TV and Film production is one of the most sexy Mac chicks.

6. Alice Blacker

Alice is a full-time UK college student and loves using her iPhone.

7. Erin Marie

Erin from Dallas loves using the iPod classic. She is a model, actor and singer by profession and a big Mac geek.

8. Jenn Thomas

Jenn, a Pittsburgh architecture student and model is a die-hard Mac fan and loves to show-off her natural beauty.

9. Athena

Athena is a cute Mac chick from Texas who loves her Apple gear.

10. Miki Black

Miki Black is a model and musician by profession with some excellent taste of music. Black is her color, whether it comes in the eyes, the outfit or the iPod.

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