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Monday, March 23, 2009

CRANK 2 IS CLASSY AND HIGH BROW

There’s a new red-band TV spot for Crank 2 out (apparently they have R-rated TV commercials in the U.K., I’m assuming late at night), and you can tell they’re targeting a really classy audience because the spot is literally 30 seconds of nudity and swearing edited together over WWE-entrance music. And for some reason, it has Bai Ling in it. I didn’t even know she acted. I thought she was a human hentai cartoon. Anyway, I plan on putting on my spats and taking the gents to see this one after brandy and cigars at the Harvard Club, I do.



The Nano, The World's Cheapest Car, Debuts in India

The Nano is tested at Tata's factory in Pune, India on March 15, 2009
The Nano is tested at Tata's factory in Pune, India on March 15, 2009
Michael Rubenstein / Redux for TIME

In New Delhi in the early 1970s, my family traveled by scooter in the classic, death-defying Indian fashion. My father would drive, with me, a toddler, standing in front gripping the handlebars and my mother seated pillion, my infant sister in her arms. My father was a civil engineer and my mother a nurse, and in India at that time, cars for a young family were far out of reach.

More than 30 years later, I recently listened to Ratan Tata, chairman of one of India's largest companies, describe a family just like mine as the inspiration for the Nano, the ultra-cheap "people's car" that Tata Motors officially launches today. "What sparked it off was riding in a car and looking at them and saying, 'surely there's a safer way that these people can be transported,'" Tata recalls. (See the dozen most important cars of all time.)

That incident was the beginning of a six-year quest by Tata Motors, India's largest automaker, to develop a car for the common man costing less than Rs 100,000 (about $2,000), roughly the same price as a motorcycle. Many thought Tata was bound to fail, that a car so cheap wouldn't be much of a car at all. The Maruti 800, India's best-selling sub-compact, costs almost twice as much. The chairman of Suzuki Motor, Osaka Suzuki, once said: "Tata will not be able to make a one-lakh car." (Lakh is an Indian word for 100,000.)

The company has proven the doubters wrong. The Nano is going on sale at Tata's 470 outlets in India; the base model does indeed carry a sticker price of Rs 100,000. Now, with global car sales in the worst slump in decades — Tata Motors itself is experiencing financial difficulties — the battered automotive industry is looking to the debut of the world's cheapest car for clues to a future that could revolve around smaller, more fuel-efficient and more cheaply produced vehicles. (See the 50 worst cars of all time.)

In an exclusive March 5 interview with TIME, Tata downplayed the tough market conditions and the impact that sagging consumer demand could have on Nano sales. Although car loans are harder to come by in India due to the credit crisis, the country's economy is still growing. "If I had conceived a million-dollar supercar today, I think you'd have every reason to question whether that's the right product at the right time in the planet that we are living in today," Tata says. The Nano, he argues, is the right car for this difficult time. "What has happened in the changing economic situation globally reinforces, if nothing else, the fact that a low-cost car has a place."

Tata Motors engineers developed the Nano by redesigning every component to minimize cost and weight, while trying to maintain performance and comfort. To see how well they accomplished their mission, I was offered the chance to drive a Nano on a test track at Tata Motors' main plant in the western Indian city of Pune. (See pictures of the Nano.)

The first thing you notice is that the dashboard holds just two gauges: speedometer and fuel level. This is the basic model, and it's stripped down to the bare essentials. But driving the car is surprisingly easy. The gearshift is smooth, the car accelerates adequately and you never feel cramped or low to the ground. The Nano doesn't feel like a cheap, lightweight car that's going to tip over with the first sudden turn.

Outside the Tata Motors facility, our photographer got to drive a fully equipped, bright yellow Nano along the highways, cobbled avenues and side streets of Pune. This car had air conditioning, worth the extra money in India (optional-equipment costs had not been released at the time this was written), but running the aircon sapped some of the power of the tiny, two-cylinder engine. Other drawbacks of the car: The storage space is hard to access because the hatchback doesn't open, the brakes aren't progressive, and the car we drove pulled slightly to the left even though there were just 40 km on its odometer.

Those quibbles are unlikely to make a difference to potential buyers. The Nano's target customers are people riding two-wheelers, and for most of them, this is the only car they could hope to buy. Even without spending anything on marketing so far, Tata executives expect demand to far exceed their initial annual production capacity of 45,000 Nanos. Tata Motors had planned to build about 250,000 cars a year, but the company was forced to shut down its original Nano factory last fall after protests by people displaced by its construction turned violent. That disruption forced Tata Motors to relocate its main Nano production line and delayed the launch. Because plants in Pune and Pantnagar are now producing the car in reduced numbers, the company is bracing for long waiting lists and disappointed customers.

The lower volume means the Nano will do little for Tata Motors' revenue and profits, at least initially. Vaishali Jajoo, a senior automotive research analyst at Angel Broking, an investment firm in Mumbai, says that even at projected output of about 250,000 cars a year, she expects the Nano will add just 3% to annual sales. Because the profit margin on Nano sales is small, "It will take at least four to five years to break even" by recouping development costs, Jajoo says. Fully equipped Nanos have higher margins, but the company has not yet decided how many of those it will produce. A company spokesman declined to comment on analyst reports regarding the Nano's launch, calling them "speculative."

Initially, the Nano will be sold only in India. The company plans to begin selling a European version in 2011. It has no plans yet to export the Nano to the U.S., although that has not been ruled out.

The Nano's slow start comes at a time when Tata Motors is struggling financially due to slumping demand. The company in the quarter ending Dec. 31 reported a $58.5 million loss, its first loss in seven years. Loans for Tata Motor's $2.3 billion purchase of loss-making luxury car brands Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor are coming due. "That's a major cash-flow crunch for them," Jajoo says. Jaguar and Land Rover sales have tanked. The company is pursuing several options to meet its obligations, including getting a bailout from the British government. (Vote for the 2009 TIME 100 Finalists.)

The Nano certainly won't solve Tata Motors' immediate problems. But Tata says he hopes the groundbreaking vehicle will in the long run help redefine not only how much cars cost, but also how they are made. The future of the car industry, he says, lies in design and marketing — not manufacturing, which involves high costs and increasingly can be farmed out to other companies. If the Nano really takes off, Tata Motors may try "distributed manufacturing" — selling Nano kits to be assembled and sold by independent dealers. This, says Tata, would be a step toward fully outsourced manufacturing. "What I tried to describe on the Nano is an attempt to look at that as a business model," Tata says. A new way of doing business may be something the beleaguered auto industry needs even more than a cheap new car.

Egyptian Parallel Parking Invention

Egyptian Parallel Parking Invention

Creative and useful

Cassette Tape Art

Jimi Hendrix


Bob Dylan


Jim Morrison


Jimi Hendrix

First look: 'Where the Wild Things Are' gets Maxed out

Who's Max? Why, Max is Max.

Max (Max Records) and Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) roll their terrible eyes and gnash their terrible teeth. Enlarge image Enlarge Max (Max Records) and Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) roll their terrible eyes and gnash their terrible teeth

Max Records, 11, is the boy with anger issues who escapes to a land where giant beasts roam in Where the Wild Things Are, the film version of Maurice Sendak's 1963 storybook classic.

Such same-name casting is the type of coincidence that could only happen to a filmmaker who once placed a portal in an actor's head in Being John Malkovich

"It's just fortuitous, kismet, circumstance," says Spike Jonze, who cast Max after a director friend sent him a tape. "I can't imagine anyone else playing Max. Max is the soul of the movie. He's a very special sort of kid. Deep and thoughtful. Sweet and sincere."

Audiences will get a chance to check out both Maxes on Friday in a trailer accompanying Monsters vs. Aliens.

The Portland, Ore., sixth-grader spent four months on the film, which was shot outside Melbourne, Australia. His parents — Shawn, a photographer, and Jenny, a librarian — along with brother Sam, 7, joined him Down Under.

Max has been in videos for Death Cab for Cutie and Cake but has almost no performing experience other than a bit part in school "that was pretty pathetic." Save for Star Wars, he says, "I wasn't a huge movie person. "I'm not into what won the Oscars this year."

What he is into is books, and Wild Things is one of his favorites. "It's sort of different and not a simple story."

Max, who also can be seen in The Brothers Bloom (May 29), would like to continue to act. "But not gigantic parts. I'm in school and stuff. It's too disruptive." He did get some encouragement — from Sendak himself.

"I got to meet him last September," he says.

What did the author say to him? "Good job."

Banned from TV Family Guy Clip

.50 BMG Armor Piercing Incendiary Round Vs. 18 Hard Drives

Darth Vader money

Posted by Cory Doctorow


DeviantArt's Diablo2003 whipped up these Vaderbucks for Star Wars Fan Days 2007, where he was an artist guest. Thomas, who suggested the link, says he thinks they're cooler-looking than greenbacks and I agree -- best note since the hyperinflationary 100 billion Dinar note with Tesla on it.

Starbuck by diablo2003 (Thanks, Thomas!)

Eminem's back...but does the world still need him?

After drug problems, divorce and half a decade out of the studio, Eminem is to release not one but two albums. The problem, says Shane Danielsen, is the world's biggest-selling rapper might just discover that five years is a very long time in hip-hop

Eminem can still claim to be hip hop's bestknown name

Getty Images

Eminem can still claim to be hip hop's bestknown name

Charles Manson's answer is disturbing VIDEO

70 Excellent Photoshop Resources

In this massive collection of resources, you'll find all sorts of resources including: tutorial sites, Photoshop Brushes, patterns, Photoshop Actions, showcases/collections, and much more.

read more | digg story

Top 10 Time-Lapse Videos of Nature at Work

By Aaron Rowe Email

Apple_2 The world is filled with sluggish spectacles. Watching them would be painful were it not for time lapse photography, which can make those long stories short and remarkably entertaining.

When a phenomenon happens very slowly, viewing accelerated footage helps scientists take a step back and see the big picture: At higher speeds, things that we regard as still take motion -- even the dullest scenes spring to life.

Here are Wired Science's picks of the best time lapse videos of nature at work.

10. Total Lunar Eclipse
Pete Herron / YouTube

9. Denver Snow Storm
Mike Kalush / YouTube

8. Corn Growing
Mindlapse / YouTube

7. Caterpillars Becoming Butterflies
jcmegabyte / YouTube

6. Magic Mushrooms Growing
annonymer / YouTube

5. Earth Rise
NnoxS3 / YouTube

4. Rotting Apple
alifitzd / YouTube

3. Thunder Storm
06solareclipse / YouTube

2. Aurora Borealis
06solareclipse / YouTube

1. Simi Valley Firestorm
powrslaveeli / YouTube


50 Stunning Examples Of Architecture Photography



Architectural photography can be broadly considered to encompass views of the exteriors and interiors of domestic, commercial, religious, institutional, and engineering structures, as well as records of the evolution of towns and cities.

click here for these 50 fantastic pics | digg story

New Bird Evolves Faster than Any Other

Written by Jake Richardson

white eyes

A bird recently discovered in the Solomon Islands is a member of the White Eyes (Zosteropidae) family that evolves more rapidly than any other bird.

The newly discovered species has been named Vanikoro White Eye. It was found on the tiny island of Ranongga, and is thought to only live there.

Genetic research has shown what two scientists suspected 80 years ago: that there are different species of White Eyes on separate islands in the Solomons. Sometimes the islands are only 2-3 kilometers apart and yet they have their own species of White Eye. One of the researchers, Rob Moyle from the University of Kansas said this of their initial investigation, “As we started to compile the data, we were shocked…White-eye species from across the family’s range had strikingly similar gene sequences, indicating a recent origin and incredibly rapid diversification.”

Moyle collaborated with Dr. Chris Filardi and Dr. Jared Diamond. Diamond actually had worked with the original scientist (Ernest Mayr) who first noted the difference between the White Eyes when visting the Solomons decades ago. DNA analysis of many White Eyes species by Filardi and his team showed that they can generate about 2-3 new species every million years.

Filardi commented on the research, “There’s something special about these birds. White eyes quickly diverge into new species across water gaps as narrow as a couple of kilometers- gaps that other birds easily bridge to maintain gene flow.” In the Solomons alone there are thirteen species of White Eyes. Because of its rapid capacity for diversification, some call White Eyes the Great Speciator. Over 100 species of the bird are distributed throughout the world.

Animals thought to have a higher rate of speciation are the Cichlid fish in Africa, and the Tuatara, a reptile that lived at the same time as some dinosaurs. Recently a baby Tuatara was found on mainland New Zealand.

(Author’s note:The Jared Diamond referenced here is also the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel).

Image Credits: 1. Close-up: Dr. Chris Filardi, American Musuem of Natural History
2. Tri-species illustration, BirdLife International 3. Vanikoro White Eyes in Tree, Dr. Guy Dutson


Conservatives Against Marijuana Prohibition

Why Conservatives should insist on overturning cannabis prohibition in New York: cut wasteful spending, restore respect for law enforcement, grow a sustainable economy without large government stimulus

read more | digg story

What Your Favorite Movies Were Almost Called

by Kara Kovalchik

Naming a film is not a task taken lightly, especially when many millions of production dollars are involved. See what some of your favorite films were almost called, and ask yourself if you would’ve hired a babysitter and paid for popcorn had cooler heads not prevailed.

1. Pretty Woman

Pretty-Woman-movie-01.jpg

Pretty Woman was based on a script written by J.F. Lawton called 3000 (the amount of money paid for a week’s worth of the hooker’s “company”). In the original story, Julia Roberts’ character was not only a prostitute, she was also a crack addict. When Disney bought the script, they hired new writers to lighten it up a bit, and they decided that 3000 sounded too science fiction-y, so a new title was chosen – one that luckily allowed the producers to use Roy Orbison’s signature tune to accompany the obligatory Julia Roberts-trying-on-clothes montage.

2. Back to the Future

mcfly.jpg

During the filming of Back to the Future, Universal Studios honcho Sid Sheinberg fired off a memo to all involved in the production stating that no movie with the word “future” in the title had ever succeeded at the box office. He suggested that the name of this project be changed to Spaceman from Pluto. According to writer/producer Bob Gale, Steven Spielberg “earned his executive producer credit” by stepping in and sending back a note that thanked the studio head for his “joke memo.”

3. Tootsie

Would I Lie to You? went through at least a half-dozen re-writes by as many writers before it finally hit the big screen in 1982 as Tootsie. The new title was suggested by star Dustin Hoffman (it was the name of his mother’s dog).

4. Boys Don’t Cry

Boys Don’t Cry, for which Hilary Swank won an Academy Award, was originally called Take It Like a Man. The producers decided that The Cure’s song “Boys Don’t Cry” (along with its inclusion on the soundtrack) gave the project more of the “dark” atmosphere they were seeking.

5. Help!

The Beatles’ second feature film had been titled Help during the first few weeks of filming. When director Richard Lester was informed that that title had already been registered, the film became known as Eight Arms to Hold You. No one involved cared for that name, so luckily Lester found out that by adding an exclamation point to the word Help he could skirt around the copyright laws.

6. The Grapes of Wrath

grapes.jpg

The 1940 classic The Grapes of Wrath was given the working title of Route 66 as a safety measure. Director John Ford needed to film many scenes along the historic highway, but John Steinbeck’s novel was not particularly appreciated in Oklahoma. Ford presented his project to local authorities as a documentary about the Mother Road in order to avoid trouble.

7. Annie Hall

Anhedonia is the scientific term for the inability to experience pleasure. And up until the opening credits were finally filmed, it was the name Woody Allen had in mind for his 1977 “serious comedy” Annie Hall. United Artists finally talked him out of it, insisting that such an unmarketable title would doom the film at the box office.

8. Blazing Saddles

Script writer Andrew Bergman originally called his 1974 Western spoof (and the lead character) Tex X, as a sly nod to Muslim leader Malcolm X. But director Mel Brooks was never enamored with that title. One morning when Brooks was taking a shower, the words “blazing saddles” popped into his head. Considering the classic bean scene, the new title seemed apropos.

Yankees Grass Is Now a Brand


Yankees Sod, which is grown on 80 acres in South Jersey, will soon be available at New York City-area Home Depot stores.

Published: March 21, 2009

BRIDGETON, N.J. — Just when it seemed that all the sports-licensing ideas had been exhausted — coffins with team logos, unveiled a few years ago, could have reasonably been the presumed end — along comes something that has been growing in plain sight all along.

Yankees Sod.

A tuft for the windowsill? A pallet for the backyard? Officially licensed grass is about to be sold, in the form of sod or seeds, to fans who want a patch to call their own.

“It’s just capitalizing on what we have and what we’ve done,” said Rick DeLea, vice president of DeLea Sod Farms, which his grandfather founded in 1928 and has supplied turf for Yankee Stadium since the 1960s.

On a recent morning, Mr. DeLea swept his hand across a portion of the 80 acres of Yankees Sod on a vast hillside in South Jersey. Last fall, some of the secret blend of bluegrass was peeled in broad strips, hauled north on trucks and laid inside the new Yankee Stadium. But most of it was still here, greening under a late-winter sun.

“It’s going to be one of those ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ stories,” said David Andres, the energetic and entrepreneurial man who came up with the idea of selling sod and grass to fans.

A former consultant with the company and now Mr. DeLea’s vice president for business development, Mr. Andres saw a field of bluegrass far bigger than the two and a half acres needed to cover the grassy portions of the new Yankee Stadium. The team had asked Mr. DeLea to reserve 10 acres for the stadium, apparently in case of some horrific horticultural incident in the Bronx, but that left a lot of leftover sod.

“I said: ‘Rick, you’re sitting on it. Why not do something with it?’ ” Mr. Andres said.

Actually, Mr. DeLea had been doing something with it. He sells the same three-variety blend of Kentucky bluegrass from this field to other clients. A high school in West Long Branch, N.J., had 16 acres installed last fall, when it was just called sod. Not Yankees Sod.

Mr. Andres, a self-described “sell ice to Eskimos kind of guy,” took the idea of licensing the product to the Yankees and Major League Baseball. He received the requisite stamps of approval and started a company called Stadium Associates to market Yankees Sod and Yankees Grass Seed.

It makes one wonder if other licensed permutations will follow — Cubs Ivy or Daytona Asphalt or Cameron Indoor Hardwood Floors, using the same vine, road mix or batch of trees as the sports arenas.

For now, Mr. Andres and three partners have visions of Cubs Sod and Red Sox Sod and other licensed sod. They have reached out to the farms that supply the other 27 major league teams with natural-grass fields.

But Major League Baseball is taking it one team at a time.

“We want to see how this goes,” Howard Smith, baseball’s vice president for licensing, said. “But we want all of our licensees to be wildly successful.”

Yankees Sod will be available at New York City-area Home Depot stores near the end of the month. A patch a little bigger than five square feet — 16 inches by 4 feet — will cost $7.50, Mr. Andres said. It may cost a few thousand dollars to cover a large backyard, but the sod comes with a certificate of authenticity from Major League Baseball, complete with the counterfeit-proof hologram, declaring it to be the official grass of the New York Yankees.

Yankees Grass Seed will also be available, in gift-friendly novelty sizes of three ounces and eight ounces, at Yankee Stadium and other places. Home Depot will carry bigger bags of seed.

Mr. Andres wants to sow grass seed in small planters, too, for fans who may want a little patch to water and cut, kind of like bonsai groundskeepers. He is even pondering miniature desktop replicas of the stadium filled with blades of Yankees Sod.

“It is something that is green,” Mr. Andres said, referring to the environmental benefit of the product, if not the awe-inspiring color that greets fans as they step through the stadium portals. “It is something that is connected to America’s pastime. It is something that is affordable. And it is something that every fan can appreciate.”

Except Mets fans, perhaps.

Mr. DeLea, an unassuming man who oversees a 13-farm sod empire with the help of a helicopter he pilots, supplies various varieties of turf, from bluegrass to bentgrass, to clients that include well-known golf courses and small municipalities.

He said that the bluegrass developed for the Yankees took about 14 months to mature. The DeLea sod laid in Yankee Stadium last fall, like the sod remaining on this hillside parcel, was planted in the spring of 2006. More is being planted at various sod farms for fans.

Mr. DeLea said that Yankee Sod was fine for a lawn that receives full sun, drains well and is reasonably maintained.

As the men turned to walk off the lush grass and into a van parked in the dirt, where sod once grew — the sod now in Yankee Stadium, perhaps, or maybe just at a high school in New Jersey — Mr. Andres mindlessly flicked the ashes of his cigar onto the turf.

Mr. DeLea scolded him and rubbed out the embers with his shoe. After all, this was not ordinary sod.

Metallica welcomes new "Guitar Hero" fans



Photo
By Gary Graff

AUSTIN, Texas (Billboard) - Signing on for a "Guitar Hero" game was a "no brainer," according to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

"When 'Guitar Hero' came to us in April of last year, we said yes very quickly," Ulrich told Billboard.com on Friday during the quartet's drop-in appearance at the South By Southwest music conference to promote "Guitar Hero: Metallica," which comes out March 29.

"It seemed like the next step -- a whole other platform for musicians to reach an audience. If we talk about this in five years, I think it will turn into an expected way to release an album," Ulrich said.

Metallica released its latest album, "Death Magnetic," through "Guitar Hero" as well as through traditional retail and download sites, and Ulrich acknowledged that it might have helped to bring a younger audience to the band. "What blows me away is six months into the (album) experience how young the audience continues to be," he said. "We see whole armies of 10-year-olds who weren't listening to music when 'St. Anger' was released. In a world where music has so much competition, this is a great gateway for them into the music."

Guitarist Kirk Hammett -- who revealed that he beat Ulrich the one time he played "Guitar Hero: Metallica" ("He stormed off") -- added that he hopes the game inspires those young fans to learn how to play instruments for real.

"Kids get a feel of what it's like to play a song on guitar without having to learn to play guitar -- how cool is that?" he noted. "And to be exposed to classic rock and metal songs they might not otherwise listen to ... It's a wonderful thing."

In addition to Metallica songs -- as well as character images of the band from throughout its career -- "Guitar Hero: Metallica" features songs by Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead and other Metallica friends and heroes.

Metallica resumes the European leg of its "Death Magnetic" tour on March 25 in Birmingham, England. Hammett said the group plans to be on the road until late 2010 and "has talked a little bit" about possibly documenting the tour with an album or DVD release, but has reached no conclusions. The group will come home for its April 4 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where it was recently announced the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea will make the induction speech.

"It's cool that he's not in a heavy metal band but is a well-respected musician you might not expect," Hammett said. Former bassist Jason Newstead will join the band that night, and Ulrich said that the evening "will be like a family reunion ... a whole big pile of people, lots of friends."

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

More women needing cash go from jobless to topless

By KAREN HAWKINS, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO – As a bartender and trainer at a national restaurant chain, Rebecca Brown earned a couple thousand dollars in a really good week. Now, as a dancer at Chicago's Pink Monkey gentleman's club, she makes almost that much in one good night.

The tough job market is prompting a growing number of women across the country to dance in strip clubs, appear in adult movies or pose for magazines like Hustler.

Employers across the adult entertainment industry say they're seeing an influx of applications from women who, like Brown, are attracted by the promise of flexible schedules and fast cash. Many have college degrees and held white-collar jobs until the economy soured.

"You're seeing a lot more beautiful women who are eligible to do so many other things," said Gus Poulos, general manager of New York City's Sin City gentleman's club. He said he got 85 responses in just one day to a recent job posting on Craigslist.

The transition to the nightclub scene isn't always a smooth one — from learning to dance in five-inch heels to dealing with the jeers of some customers.

Some performers said they were initially so nervous that only alcohol could calm their nerves.

"It is like giving a speech, but instead of imagining everyone naked, you're the one who's naked," Brown, 29, said.

Eva Stone, a 25-year-old dancer at the Pink Monkey, said dealing with occasional verbal abuse from patrons requires "a thick skin."

Makers of adult films cautioned that women shouldn't rush into the decision to make adult movies without considering the effect on their lives.

"Once you decide to be an adult actress, it impacts your relationship with everyone," said Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of adult film giant Vivid Entertainment Group. "Once you make an adult film, it never goes away."

The women at the Pink Monkey say dancing at a strip club might not have been their first career choice, but they entered the business with their eyes wide open. The job gives them more control and flexibility than sitting in a cubicle, and "it's easy, it's fun and all of us girls ... look out for each other," Brown said.

In this economy, "desperate measures are becoming far more acceptable," said Jonathan Alpert, a New York City-based psychotherapist who's had clients who worked in adult entertainment.

For some, dancing is temporary, a way to pay for college loans or other bills. Others say they've found their niche.

Dancers at the upscale Rick's Caberet clubs in New York City and Miami can make $100,000 to $300,000 a year — in cash — even with the economic downturn, club spokesman Allan Priaulx said.

Priaulx said 20 to 30 women a week are applying for jobs at the New York club, double the number of a year ago.

Rhode Island's Foxy Lady held a job fair Saturday, seeking to fill about 35 positions for dancers, masseuses, bartenders and bouncers. The Providence Journal reported that more than 150 job seekers showed up to apply for work at the strip club. Foxy Lady co-owner Tom Tsoumas said a recent promotion to cut prices helped the club regain business lost due to the bad economy, forcing it to hire more employees.

Still, analysts say, the industry isn't immune to the economic recession. Business is down an estimated 30 percent across all segments, including adult films, gentleman's clubs, magazines and novelty shops, said Paul Fishbein, president of AVN Media Network, an adult entertainment company that has a widely distributed trade publication and an award show.

"In the past, people have said this industry is recession-proof," said Eric Wold, director of research for financial services firm Merriman Curhan Ford. "I definitely don't see that; maybe recession-resistant."

Strip club dancers and managers said they're drawing in the same number of customers, but fewer high rollers.

"They're not getting the big spenders," said Angelina Spencer, executive director of the Association of Club Executives, a trade group for adult nightclubs. "They're not getting the guys who come in and drop $3,000 to $4,000 a night anymore."

Still, the clubs' operating structure leaves them with low overhead and profit margins of up to 50 percent, Wold said.

Dancers are independent contractors, paying clubs a nightly flat fee depending on how long they work. At the Pink Monkey, for example, dancers who arrive at 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday pay a $40 "house fee," while women who don't arrive until midnight pay $90. And they keep their tips.

Wold and others say it's almost impossible to estimate the size of the adult entertainment industry because few companies are publicly traded. He does pay close attention to three that are: Lakewood, Colo.-based VCG Holding and Houston-based Rick's Caberet, which own clubs, and New Frontier Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based adult film producer and distributor.

All three are profitable.

Rick's Caberet had $60 million in revenue in its 2008 fiscal year, up from $32 million the year before, Wold said, and he estimates VCG will have $57 million for last year, compared with $40.5 million in FY2007. New Frontier Media generates more than $400 million in consumer buying a year.

Larry Flynt, whose half-billion dollar Hustler empire publishes magazines, produces and distributes films and operates a casino, said he's continued to do well. But he doesn't expect those who are solely in the film business to survive.

"A lot of the small studios are out of business now, there's no doubt about that," Flynt said.

Adult magazines also are struggling along with the larger publishing industry, and have to cut pages like everyone else.

But the economic realities aren't keeping jobseekers away.

Vivid Entertainment's Hirsch said the number of women in his business has doubled in the last couple years, with roughly 800 working as adult actresses. "It is more competitive than I've seen it in 25 years," he said.

That doesn't mean all the newcomers are planning on lengthy careers in the industry.

Stone, who has a bachelor's degree in graphic design, took up dancing four years ago to help pay her student loans. She plans to go to graduate school this year to pursue a master's in education.

Brown, meanwhile, has a ready answer for those critical of her career choice.

"I have job security," she said.

Bamboozled! Amazing pictures of a 30 stone Silverback gorilla who has one too many - and ends up with a sore head

By Bill Mouland

When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse was told he would find a family of endangered gorillas high on the mountain, he did not expect to find them this high.

Sitting back in the foliage as if it was a cocktail bar, the mountain gorillas had been gorging on alcoholic sap from fresh bamboo shoots and were looking distinctly the worse for wear.

Some were propping up the bar with a bleary air, while others staggered to their feet obviously hoping the mountain police would not ask them to walk in a straight line.

Kwitondo , the Silverback

And for my opening number... Kwitondo is about to do it his way, but first a swift half of potent alcoholic sap from a bamboo shoot to get him in the mood

Kwitondo

Who are you looking at? A fighting drunk Kwitondo takes offence when he's reminded that it's his round

'It was not exactly Gorillas In The Mist, more like gorillas who were p*****,' said Rouse, 43, who was on his fourth trip to see the animals in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, Central Africa.

'I had heard they sometimes get like this, but I had never actually seen it. It was just like any family party when one or two members have a little bit too much to drink.

'The boss of the group, a huge silverback called Kwitonda, and some of the younger males were completely out of it.

Kwitonda

How many fingers am I holding up? Kwitonda suddenly feels the effects of his liquid lunch as he finds difficulty in focusing on the forest about him

Kwitonda

One too many: The sozzled gorilla can't resist last orders, but finds he's reached his limit and sinks into a maudlin reverie before starting to nod off

'Some were running round cackling to each other, others were going mad swinging through the trees, some were just lying on the ground in an inebriated state.

'Normally, they eat handfuls of other vegetation, like a sort of salad to soak up the sap, but this time they were just enjoying a drink.'

The bam-boozled family lives between 8,000 and 13,000 ft up the mountain and are some of the 380 gorillas still living in Rwanda, an area made famous after Dian Fossey's conservation work there.

Mountain Gorilla

Closing time: A pie-eyed and legless Kwitonda keels over as he attempts to get up from the bar

Mountain Gorilla

Hangover: He wakes up the next day with a pounding headache, but he has the perfect solution - another hair of the gorilla, barman!

The book and film, Gorillas In The Mist, told how the animals were threatened by loss of habitat, poachers and disease. Miss Fossey was murdered by poachers in 1985.

To protect the gorillas, photographers and safari groups are not allowed to go within 21ft of them.

Mr Rouse said: 'I was allowed to stay with them for only an hour each day and it was difficult taking photographs of them at their party because I was laughing so much. It was hilarious.'

As these remarkable pictures show, 30-stone Kwitonda could hold his liquor - up to a point.

'When I went back the next day, it was all very quiet, as if they were nursing gorilla-sized hangovers.'

Pac-Man Wedding Cake


view photos Uploaded on March 15, 2009
by hello naomi

Ten ways to save on prescription drugs

By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Senior Medical Correspondent

(CNN) -- Dr. Jack Rodman's heart sank when he heard the news: One of his elderly patients with a heart condition had a stroke because she couldn't afford the medicines he'd prescribed her.

Increasingly, Americans are finding it harder to afford their prescription medications.

Increasingly, Americans are finding it harder to afford their prescription medications.

"She went cold turkey and stopped taking all of them," said Rodman, an internist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida. "What's so sad is that she assumed that since some of her medicines were expensive, all of them were. If she'd just kept taking her Coumadin [a blood thinner], which is like $5 a month, she likely wouldn't have had the stroke."

Rodman says this woman isn't his only patient who, faced with tough economic times, has stopped taking his or her medications. "There are lots of examples of this, and I fear there will be more," he said.

A new report from Consumer Reports finds that many Americans are having trouble affording their prescription drugs and have taken dangerous steps as a result.

The survey, released this week, found that 28 percent of Americans have taken steps such as not filling prescriptions, skipping dosages and cutting pills in half without the approval of their doctor, and even sharing prescriptions with a friend.

"The cost of health care is leading consumers to cut corners in ways that are potentially dangerous," said Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

Prices for prescription drugs are skyrocketing. In 2007, Americans spent $287 billion on prescription drugs, about five times as much as in 1993, according to Consumer Reports.

If you think you're immune from these price increases because you have prescription drug insurance, think again.

In 2002, Consumer Reports found that 65 percent of the drugs they surveyed were mostly or entirely covered by insurance. When they asked about the same drugs in 2008, only 33 percent were covered mostly or entirely, and 5 percent of purchases weren't covered at all. Read Consumer Reports' article: America's best drugstores

The good news, Santa says, is that there are ways for everyone to save money on prescription drugs. Here are 10 tips. The first one might have kept Rodman's patient from having a stroke. Video Watch more on how to save money at the pharmacy »

1. Tell your doctor you can't afford the drugs he's prescribing.

According to the Consumer Reports survey, only 4 percent of those polled said they'd had a conversation with their doctors about the cost of a drug. You shouldn't hesitate to talk to your doctor about prices; these days, many people can't afford the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs.

"There's such an embarrassment level," Rodman said. "They stop taking the drugs, and they never tell me why."

2. Ask your doctor whether there's a generic that would work just as well.

It's amazing how much money you can save with this one little question. For example, if your doctor prescribes Lunesta, a sleeping pill, you could end up paying about $93 for 15 doses. Switch to zolpidem, which is the generic form of Ambien, and you'll pay $33 for the same number of doses, according to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.

To make it really easy, bring in a list of the $4 generics sold at your local pharmacy and hand it to your doctor. If there isn't a generic that will work for your particular problem, ask whether there might be a less-expensive brand name available. Santa suggests wording it like this: "Can you tell me about other options that would cost me less?"

3. Ask the pharmacist for less-expensive alternatives.

If you didn't get a good answer from your doctor, ask your pharmacist whether there's a less-expensive drug in the same class as the one your doctor prescribed.

4. Use mail order.

You'll save money. Of course, this won't work when you need medicines immediately (for example, antibiotics for an infection), but mail order often works well for medicines you need to take long-term.

5. Find a prescription assistance program.

There are several out there to help people who can't afford their prescription drugs. Consumer Reports has advice on choosing a prescription assistance plan.

6. Be suspicious of free samples.

Samples are indeed enticing. But what a lot of people don't know is that samples are often for the most expensive drugs on the market. Although the samples will help you out for a month or two, after that, you'll have to start forking over the big bucks by yourself. For more information, see this Empowered Patient on free samples.

7. Don't push for what you see on TV.

Just as samples are often for the pricey drugs, TV commercials are also often for pricey drugs -- and drugs that don't necessarily work any better than cheaper alternatives. If you ask for what you see on TV, there's a chance your doctor might prescribe it -- and you'll get sticker shock at the pharmacy.

8. Split drugs with caution.

Sometimes you really can save money by asking your doctor to prescribe a double dosage of a drug and then splitting the pills in half. But there are safe and unsafe ways to split drugs, and some drugs should never be split at all. See Consumer Report's guidance on splitting drugs.

There's a flip side to this. Let's say you're taking 10mg of a drug, and it's not working, so your doctor ups your dose to 20 mg. Don't take two of the 10mg pills, warns Dr. Robert Epstein, chief medical officer at Medco, a prescription drug insurance company. That'll end up costing you money, because you'll go through your drugs twice as fast. "Instead, ask for a single pill that has the higher strength," Epstein advised.

9. If you don't have insurance, shop around.

Pharmacies sometimes charge very different prices for the same drugs. In fact, Consumer Reports found that prices for the same bottle of pills can vary by more than $100.

10. Ask for a review.

You may be taking medicines you don't need, especially if you see a variety of doctors who don't talk to one another about what they're prescribing. "Bring your drugs in to one doctor and say, 'Do I need to be taking all these?' " Epstein said.

If you've tried to talk to your doctor about prices and received a confused look, it's worth trying again, Rodman says, because the bad economy has forced doctors to become more knowledgeable about saving money for their patients.

"Two years ago, I couldn't tell you the cost of most of the medicines I prescribed," Rodman said. "Now I can."

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