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Monday, April 13, 2009

Carrot Top Stars In American Pie 7 With Sherman Hemsley

Carrot Top Stars In American Pie 7 With Sherman Hemsley Casting is underway on the next direct-to-DVD American Pie movie, American Pie: Book of Love. This one is more significant than some of the others, if only because it marks the return of Tara Reid to the franchise. But they haven’t stopped there. They’re stacking the cast with celebrity cameos, most of whom have absolutely nothing to do with the American Pie series.

The film was originally written with two cameos, for Tara Reid and Thomas Ian Nichols. Unfortunately Nichols turned them down and so they’ve decided to rewrite the movie and spend his cash on host of D-list celebrities. Most recently, we’ve learned that Carrot Top, yes Carrot Top, is in talks to join the cast of the film.

If he signs, he’ll join a cast comprised of Gary Coleman, Wayne Newton, and Sherman Hemsley. That’s right, George Jefferson is doing an American Pie movie with Carrot Top. It’s an idea so horrible, I absolutely must see it. Will Wayne Newton
stick his cock in a pastry? Will Gary Coleman’s premature ejaculation be caught on camera and shared with the entire student body? Stay tuned for American Pie: Book of Love.

How to Play Guitar Well Enough to Get Laid

Costa Rican Airplane Hotel Takes Flight

by Bridgette Steffen

727 hotel, sustainable architecture, green building, green design, recycled material, reclaimed airplane hotel, costa verde resort, costa rica airplane hotel

If you have fantasies of living like the Swiss Family Robinson or even the characters in Lost, this rainforest resort near Quepos, Costa Rica may be just the ticket. Situated on the edge of the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Costa Verde Resort features an incredible hotel suite set inside a 1965 Boeing 727 airplane. In its former life the airplane transported globetrotters on South Africa Air and Avianca Airlines, and it now serves as a two bedroom suite perched on the edge of the rainforest overlooking the beach and ocean.

727 hotel, sustainable architecture, green building, green design, recycled material, reclaimed airplane hotel, costa verde resort, costa rica airplane hotel

The airplane was transported piece by piece from the San Jose airport to its current resting place on a pedestal 50 feet above the beach. It looks a bit like a model airplane on a stand, and we can only imagine the spectacular views from the balcony and the airplane windows. Five big trucks were needed to get the plane out to the resort, and while the transportation certainly had a negative ecological impact, the finished project is a stunning example of adaptive reuse.

727 hotel, sustainable architecture, green building, green design, recycled material, reclaimed airplane hotel, costa verde resort, costa rica airplane hotel

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite also includes a kitchenette, flat-screen tvs, a dining room, and a terrace with an ocean view. We can’t really agree with their choice of furnishings, which are made from teak and shipped across the Pacific from Indonesia, but at least they were hand carved. The tip-to-tail paneling on the inside is also teak, but it was harvested locally in Costa Rica. Like the Jumbo Jet Hostel in Stockholm, this hotel suite is sure to offer jet-setting travelers a lovely location for an extended layover.

+ Costa Verde Resort

Via Re-Nest

727 hotel, sustainable architecture, green building, green design, recycled material, reclaimed airplane hotel, costa verde resort, costa rica airplane hotel

727 hotel, sustainable architecture, green building, green design, recycled material, reclaimed airplane hotel, costa verde resort, costa rica airplane hotel

727 hotel, sustainable architecture, green building, green design, recycled material, reclaimed airplane hotel, costa verde resort, costa rica airplane hotel


Cannabinoids promote...neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic-

Cannabis (marijuana, hashish, or cannabinoids) has been used for medical and recreational purposes for many centuries and is likely the only medicine or illicit drug that has constantly evoked tremendous interest or controversy within both the public domain and medical research. Cannabinoids appear to be able to modulate pain, nausea, vomiting, epi

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Castle Grayskull vs Snake Mountain

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Jay Leno Predicts Future Collectable and Classic Cars

It's been 10 years since Jay Leno's garage first appeared in Popular Mechanics. But instead of looking back, Jay's celebrating his first decade with PM by looking forward--at which cars today have the potential to be collectible in the future.

Published in the May 2009 issue.

Stocks and bonds? I don’t know much about them. In fact, I don’t know anything about stocks and bonds. I’ve lost money in the stock market; come to think of it, I’ve lost money in real estate too. But I’ve never lost money on cars.

The reason is simple: I’ve always bought cars I really want to own. If you buy a car that you like, and it loses its value, at least you still like it. Besides, even if the car’s value does go down a little, it will come back up at some point down the road.

About 10 years ago, I had the chance to buy a McLaren F1. A new one was almost a million dollars. This was a secondhand car with less than 2500 miles, and it was $800,000. I thought, it’s crazy to spend that much money on a car. So I talked it over with my wife. And she said, “You’ve worked hard. If you want to get it, get it.” And I thought, ohhh ... kaaay! So I bought it.

Last year, a McLaren F1 sold at auction for $4.1 million! I now realize this is the greatest investment I’ve ever made. In less than 10 years, I more than quintupled my money. Best of all, I have a car I really enjoy. But there are plenty of modern cars you can buy at real-world prices that are fun to own.

People ask me if they should buy a new car and tuck it away as an investment. I think it’s ridiculous to buy something and just squirrel it away. The fuel will eventually go bad, all the moving parts will still have to be lubricated, and you still have to insure it. Cars should be driven. If you let a car sit, you’ll eventually have to flush the fuel system, replace the electronics and more. Buying any car and putting it into storage for years gets you nothing. It’s a bad idea. You won’t be buying something you like—you’re just trying to make money.

There are plenty of guys who bought the original Dodge Viper as an investment. When that car first came out in 1992, it produced 400 hp, an incredible level of power for that time. People thought, “That’s it. They’ll never make a car more powerful. I’ll buy one and stick it in my garage.” Now, every day people call me: “Hey, I’ve got a ’92 Viper with 800 miles.” Sorry, I’m not interested. “Three hundred miles?” Nope. You didn’t buy it to own it.

But there are some interesting modern cars that are potential collectibles you can drive and enjoy—cars considered common transportation today. I think the first-generation Toyota Prius is a future collectible. Although it was technically innovative at the time, now it just seems cute. It’s kind of slow, and it doesn’t have tremendous range. But it was the first of its kind—the first mass-produced hybrid—and there’s an honest simplicity to that. So if you have an original Prius, in 10 or 15 years, you’ll meet people who say, “I bought one of those!” And they’ll want to relive the feeling of watching the little dashboard display jump from charging to consuming. That neat feature will bring back a flood of those memories.

It’s like when I talk to people who once owned early and mid-1960s push-button Chryslers. They say, “I learned to drive in one of those! You press the D button to go, and you press R for reverse.” They remember that feeling of freedom and American progress—simply pressing buttons to drive down the road. So cars with unusual features, technology that cars today no longer have, can be collectible.

Years ago, I was told Mustangs would never be collectibles because Ford built millions of them. We’re a disposable society. But eventually, we want what we used to have—the cars we ran into the ground. We’ve used most of those old Mustangs up, and now they’re gone. So the survivors are highly prized.

Once, when I was visiting England, one of my relatives said, “You like motorcycles—you should talk to our vicar. He has one.” So I met the vicar, who owned a ’66 Honda 160. I asked how long he’d had it. He looked at me kind of quizzically and said, “I bought it new.” He’d had that bike his whole life, and he’d maintained it. To him it wasn’t a collectible. Many of us would say, “Oh, I had one of those, and my father threw it away,” or “We gave it to a neighbor,” or “We rode it to death,” or “We finally broke it and got something else.” In other countries, because motor vehicles aren’t seen so much as appliances, they’re treated with great respect. This vicar had been riding that Honda 160 for 40 years! It was his only transportation. And it was a survivor.

That’s the difference. We want what we used to have. We get rid of it, and then we pay 10 to 15 times over what it was worth originally just to get it back—often to recapture whatever lost youth we thought we had.

That’s why I think the Mazda Miata will be the ultimate affordable collectible by, say, 2025. The first-generation Miata was extremely simple, and that’s part of its charm. Years ago, when we were restoring Mustangs, they seemed so complicated compared to a Ford Model A.

A brake-light switch? Why do we have to have thaaaat? In a Model A, you just strung together a couple of yards of wire and boom! You were done. So the early Miata, with no traction control, no stability control—no nothing—will certainly be a collectible.

I think the first-generation Taurus, the forward-looking aerodynamic sedan, will be collectible too. That was seen as a real styling triumph in the mid-1980s. Almost anything built before today’s government safety regulations could be collectible. In the future, cars lacking these systems will appear so odd to people.

Obviously, Corvettes and Ford GTs will always be desirable, because they were collectibles from the day they came out. Back in the ’60s, who would have dreamed that a Corvette would have 638 hp and get 20 mpg? That was unheard of!

It’s harder to predict the ones you don’t necessarily remember off the top of your head—like the first-generation Honda Insight. Only about 18,000 were sold worldwide. But look at them now and you think, wow, it’s a two-seater, it gets up to 70 mpg, it’s got an interesting shape and it’s very aerodynamic. Any car that was ahead of its time, or any car that had an interesting flaw—that’s what collectors want.

Just as the much-maligned Ford Edsel of the late 1950s is collectible today, so too will be the Pontiac Aztek in the future. No kidding—Azteks will be really collectible if there are any of them left. The Aztek is so odd-looking and weird that people want to collect them, like the popular “nerd cars”—AMC Gremlins and Pacers and Ford Pintos. Remember those VW vans with all the windows, or even mid-1980s Chrysler K-cars with the fake wood? It looked fake then. It still looks fake. But today people want ’em. These models have personalities. They’re not jellybean cars.

Another one to watch will be the most recent version of the Cadillac CTS-V with a six-speed standard. In the future, the manual gearbox will almost become a curiosity. People who know how to shift one properly will be seen as skilled individuals who can really drive an old car. In 2025 they’ll say, “You can drive a 2009 556-hp Cadillac stick?” By then, everything will be some version of a double-clutch, automatic-synchro, paddle-shifter ... The fact that you might have one of those anachronisms, a Cadillac with a stick—that’ll seem unbelievable.

Despite all the abject scorn and hatred for the Hummer, it has to go on the collectible list. Hummers are languishing on used-car lots. The brand has become the poster boy for bad environmental behavior. But when we’re all driving hydrogen cars, someone will say, “Look at that thing. What the hell is that?” The Hummer will be the ’59 Cadillac of 2025. The Hummer went from being very desirable to just being hated. And I think the pendulum will eventually swing back the other way.

You know those Cadillac Escalades, with the big dub wheels and other flashy trim? When today’s young men are in their 50s and 60s, they’ll say, “I wanna drive one of those again and cruise around like we used to.” So, those ’Slades will be collectibles.

On the other hand, buying a modern Ferrari as a collector car is not a good idea. If you buy a ’50s to ’70s Ferrari, you could do the work yourself. But from the mid-1990s on, no one can do the work on it except Ferrari. For almost any other car, an onboard-diagnostic machine is $600 to $1000. For Ferrari, it’s something like $22,500. That’s what it costs. Just the handheld! So someone who does his own maintenance is simply not capable of repairing a late-model Ferrari—any profit you think you’ll make just isn’t going to happen.

One last collectible? It’s any car your girlfriend thinks is cute. A ’79 Ford Fiesta? “Oooh, look at that little thing!” It’s seen as a cute, desirable city car. The new Smart cars will always be collectible. Minis too. Things don’t change. If a woman was cute 20 years ago, she’s cute today. The same is true for cars.

Baby born from 21-year-old frozen sperm

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 13 (UPI) -- The birth of a baby conceived from sperm frozen for 21 years may tie the world record for the longest-frozen, viable sperm, U.S. fertility specialists say.

Thirty-eight-year-old Chris Biblis of Charlotte, N.C., was treated for leukemia from age 13-18. In 1987, at age 16, his family encouraged him to freeze his sperm, even though there was no treatment for male infertility at the time.

It was not until 1992 that the first baby was born from intracytoplasmic sperm injection -- a breakthrough fertility technology in which scientists inject a carefully selected healthy sperm cell into a human egg in the lab -- fertility specialists of Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte said.

Biblis has been clinically disease-free for more than 20 years. Last May, he and his wife, Melodie, 33, also in excellent health, sought fertility treatment with Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte founder and fertility specialist Dr. Richard L. Wing.

"They achieved pregnancy on their first cycle of intracytoplasmic sperm injection used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization, a now-routine procedure for male infertility, using her eggs and his frozen sperm," Wing said in a statement. "We had every reason to expect a perfect baby but are thrilled nonetheless."

Baby Stella Biblis was born in excellent health March 4, Wing said.

Amazing audio-visual art using projection on a building!

AntiVJ & Crea Composite: Nuit Blanche Bruxelles from AntiVJ on Vimeo. — This video projection by AntiVJ and Crea Composite leaves you with the "WTF just happened!?!" shock of awe. Performed on the 4th of October 08 at Mont des Arts in Brussels, Belgium during "Nuit Blanche". Watch till the end.

Visuals production:
Yannick Jacquet (Lego_man)
Jérémie Peeters (Shirü)
Joanie Lemercier (crustea)

Sound Design: Thomas Vaquié

Commissioned by PixlMusic.
In collaboration with Chocolat Noisette

How Our Salaries Are Changing

by George Anders

When William Crews picks up his paycheck, it’s hard for him to force a smile. Gone are the days when booming car and truck sales helped him earn more than $100,000 a year as a financial-services manager at a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Wendell, N.C. In 2008, his gross pay shrank to $76,000—a recession-inflicted cut of more than 25%. And 2009 didn’t start off any better.

“Our family is juggling bills as best we can,” the 41-year-old Crews says. The Crewses have cut back on vacations, meals out, and other spending. Each month they wrestle with which bills to pay and which to put off a bit longer. “That hurts a lot,” he says.

What People Earn 2009
Still, Crews declares: “I feel lucky to be someone who still has a job.” His dealership has cut about a third of its workforce in the past year. His wife’s smaller income from her job as an administrative assistant for the state of North Carolina has become crucial in holding the family’s finances together. “We’ve got up days and down days,” Crews says. “But we hope our prospects are ready to turn around.”

The current economic slump isn’t just squeezing people’s incomes. It’s also jolting the ways we think about money. Household budgets are tightening up everywhere as people scramble to save cash and guard against hard times. The frantic race to keep up with the Joneses has been put on hold. And as layoff notices and foreclosures sweep the country, being able to count on a dependable paycheck suddenly has become goal No. 1.

Since December 2007, when the U.S. economy slipped into recession, at least 4.4 million jobs have been lost. In February, the national unemployment rate reached 8.1%—its highest level in 26 years. Even with President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package, some economists think the jobless rate could top 10% before the slump is over. Hard-hit states such as Michigan, South Carolina, and Rhode Island already are seeing double-digit unemployment.

“In these times, people are willing to trade away some excitement on the job if they can just have more security,” says Max Caldwell, an employment expert at Towers Perrin, a consulting firm based in Stamford, Conn., that regularly surveys workers’ attitudes nationwide. In its most recent survey, conducted in December, workers ranked job security and adequate health and retirement benefits as their top priorities. “Maximizing earnings” didn’t even make the top five.

In a sign of the new cautiousness, Americans’ personal savings rate shot up to 5% of their income in January—the highest level in 14 years and a big change from the near-zero savings rates of a few years ago, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The rise in savings wasn’t a case of people having more money to salt away. Average earnings increased just 2.5% in 2008, finishing the year at a seasonally adjusted $613 a week. But anxieties related to the shaky economy have led people to pay down debts and increase savings wherever they can.

Large jumps in weekly earnings are unlikely in the months ahead, says Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. He predicts salary increases of only about 2% annually by the end of 2009. But inflation has been hammered down to such a low rate that workers’ pay may grow faster than consumer prices. Mishel warns, however, that by 2010, “we will surely see weekly earnings lose ground to inflation for most workers.”

Notable bright spots in the labor market include health care, education, and government jobs. Newly trained registered nurses can earn as much as $66,000 a year, according to Richard Sanchez, district president of Navarro College in Corsicana, Tex. “It’s one of our most lucrative fields,” he says. “Our programs are at their maximum capacity.” Sanchez adds that every time he holds an open house for the nursing program, more than 100 students apply for about 30 to 40 slots.

States may cut spending on schools, hospitals, and government services, but the impact is likely to be small compared with harsher cutbacks in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, retail, and finance. “I’m not worried about the economy or layoffs,” says Jeff Frame, a paramedic living in St. Albans, W.Va., who earned $48,000 last year. “No matter what happens, you’re always going to need an ambulance.”

In Wappapello, Mo., high school English teacher Jerris Evans says she feels secure in her job, which pays $39,900 a year. But she is concerned that budget squeezes could lead to larger class sizes, a heavier work- load, and perhaps a freeze in pay. “I don’t feel that the teachers’ salaries are keeping up with the cost of living,” she says.

Education makes a huge difference in people’s job prospects. February’s unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 12.6% for those without a high school diploma, compared with just 4.1% for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Retraining is likely to be a growing trend, particularly for workers leaving recession-damaged industries. Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., used to guide most students toward automotive-sector jobs. Now, older workers and high school graduates see college as a way to sidestep the car industry’s troubles. Enrollment has jumped 15% in the last year, to 17,000 students.

“We hope we can be a catalyst for new careers,” says Henry Ford president Gail Mee. Health care, computer technology, accounting, and criminal justice are especially popular fields, she notes. Students also are flocking to specialized areas such as movie production, biotechnology, alternative energy, and the culinary arts.

Some of the best job prospects are in the Great Plains states, which were largely overlooked during the easy-credit housing bubble that enveloped the rest of the country. “We didn’t see the real highs that other places did, but now we aren’t experiencing the real lows,” says Maren Daley, executive director of Job Service North Dakota, the state’s unemployment agency.

Unemployment in Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa was below 5% in January, and it was just 4.2% in North Dakota—about half the national average. North Dakota’s job boom has been driven by robust energy production, agriculture, and even a surge in tourism as affordable fairs and festivals attract travelers who don’t want to take pricier vacations.

A few careers thrive in hard times. Robert Half International, which places temporary and full-time workers, is seeing a demand for bill-collection specialists and bankruptcy attorneys. Cobblers are thriving, thanks to a recession mentality that is leading people to fix their old shoes instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

Across the nation, people are counting on a spirit of teamwork and shared sacrifice to help everyone pull through. In Everett, Mass., Costco photo-lab technician Tina Snook volunteered to cut her hours during the downturn so her colleagues wouldn’t suffer. Snook’s part-time earnings dropped to $16,000 last year, but she picked up an additional $9000 as a sports photographer for local youth leagues. That extra income, plus her husband’s earnings as a carpenter, covers costs for the Snooks and their four children.

“One of the other women at Costco needed all the hours she could get,” Snook says. “Cutting back was the right thing for me to do. And I’m building up a studio to do more photography on my own.”

The Last 12 Playboy Bunnies of Easter

A lot of people are celebrating Easter today with large feasts, family/friends, and awesome egg hunts. Some of us on the other hand will spend Easter just like every other day. Scarfing down candy we picked up in the bargain bin, a little trash talk while online gaming, and maybe even a quick visit to Red Tube.

We decided to pull the Playboy archives and grabbed the last 12 ‘Easter’ covers. So in between headshots, and trips to the spank bank, we put together this gallery, just for you.

1997 March - Faye Resnick

1998 April - Linda Brava


1999 April - Sable


2000 April - Bijou Phillips


2001 April - Irina Voronina


2002 March - Tera Patrick


2003 April - Carmen Electra


2004 April - Rachel Hunter


2005 March - Jillian Grace



2006 April - Candice Michelle


2007 April - Ashley Massaro


2008 March - Nicole Coco Austin



2009 April - Hope Dworaczyk


What the Wolverine Leak Means for the Future of Piracy

x-men-origins-wolverine-posterTwentieth-Century Fox was the butt of a big prank this April Fool’s Day, when news broke that a copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked onto the net. Movies get leaked habitually, sure, but the circumstances combined to make it feel like a first: It was a DVD-quality copy. Of a massive, big-budget superhero movie. Online a full month before the movie’s release.

The bootleg spread like wildfire, and by some accounts there were over one hundred thousand downloads on the first day alone. That’s a lot of conceivable box office revenue.

It felt like a first, but it also might be a last. Because the way I experienced it, April Fool’s Day marked the end of piracy’s glory days — the day piracy stopped being casually tolerated by everyone but studio heads.

This goes beyond Fox’s you-messed-with-the-wrong-people response to the incident (they put out a statement which went something like, and I’m paraphrasing, “we’re working with the FBI to make sure whomever was responsible will spend the rest of their life worrying about dropping the soap”). And it goes beyond the firing of’s Roger Friedman, who won the Stupidest (Ex-)Columnist in the World award for writing a review of the bootleg and encouraging people to watch more movies online illegally. (Seriously, man. Twentieth-Century Fox and Fox News are sibling companies, what kind of false sense of job security did you have?)

It also goes beyond whether the movie was any good or not. I’ve read good and bad things; the majority of responses haven’t been promising, but then again, we’re talking about the internet. Do the disparagers really think watching it on a fifteen-inch screen with unfinished special effects will provide the same experience sitting in a movie theater will? No, they just like being negative.

What it really boils down to is that the online fan community itself condemned the leak. Universally.

Ain’t It Cool News, the granddaddy of online movie spoiling and fanboy bitching, ran a story called “We Don’t Want your Wolverine Movie Reviews,” explaining, “the only way you’re seeing it right now is through illegal channels, and we’re not going to condone that.” downplayed its potential effects, saying that “while there will always be a percentage of internetizens who actively seek pirated/bootleg/camera copies of movies, it’s probably safe to say that the average consumer still prefers the theater experience.” said they stopped watching the bootleg after a couple minutes, in order to get the better theatrical experience: “Just because you can watch a rough-sketch and go somewhere on the internet to read the entire plot,” the article says, “does not mean you, I or anyone knows what X-Men Origins: Wolverine looks like. Because it isn’t done.”

And summed things up by saying “It’s an act that cruelly robs thousands of people of not just months of hard effort, but their potential livelihood as well.”

That was the reigning sentiment: even if you don’t care about hurting a big studio, you’re hurting the hundreds of hardworking crew members who spent months on the project. If piracy translates into lost revenue, that’s going to translate into smaller budgets and fewer jobs.

If you really want a nail in the coffin? Even some pirates are speaking out against the leak. The New York Times ran a story called “Some Pirates Won’t Watch Illegal Wolverine”, while Gizmodo came out with a “Pirate’s Code of Conduct”, which contained gems like “save action flicks…for the big screen” and ” if you really like it and can afford to do so, buy it.”

Does this mean everyone in the world has suddenly found a stringent set of morals? That’s pretty doubtful. But the tide of public opinion has turned. And I am sure about one thing:

The fourteen-year-old who stole the copy of Wolverine from his dad’s postproduction and posted it online thinking he was cool is totally crapping his pants right now.

Mexican ambassador: US should take marijuana legalization seriously

David Edwards and Joe Byrne
Published: Sunday April 12, 2009

Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan joined CBS' Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation today to talk about the violence on Mexico's border resulting from the drug trade. Among other things, the senior diplomat told Schieffer that the U.S. should take the debate over marijuana legalization seriously.

"Those that suggest that some of these measures need to be looked at understand the dynamics of the drug trade; you have to bring demand down and one way to do it is to move in that direction [towards legalization]...There are many others who believe that doing this will just fan the flames," Sarukhan told Schieffer.

Some authorities close to the border violence are beginning to advocate for a legalization scenario. At the end of February, Terry Goddard, Arizona's Attorney General, said that while he's not in favor of legalizing marijuana, he thinks it should be debated as a way of curbing violence in the increasingly deadly clashes between Mexico's gangs. In addition, three former presidents of Latin America - Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo - have all urged the United States and Latin American governments to move away from jailing drug users, to debate the legalization of marijuana, and to place more emphasis on the treatment of addicts.

"This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously, that we have to engage in on both sides of the border: both in producing, in trafficking, and in consumption countries," he said of the marijuana legalization debate.

Guns coming across the border into Mexico are also a matter of concern. The ambassador believes that "90% of the guns we are seizing in Mexico...are coming from the United States."

This video is from CBS' Face the Nation, broadcast Apr. 12, 2009.

Unraveling the Mysteries of "Lost"

Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof reveal the show's biggest secret


No other show on television delivers mystery in quite the same way as Lost, the ABC serial drama about people trying to escape an island that their fates seem bound to. For five seasons now (with a final one to come in 2010), the show has taken a straightforward dilemma — survivors of a plane crash in the South Pacific strive for rescue, while coping with one another, with furtive enemies and with their own hidden pasts — and infused it with uncommon themes of destiny and redemption and allusions to philosophy and literature, as well as with plot elements that are almost supernatural in the most impenetrable of ways.

Just as baffling for many, though, is how Lost's co-producers and main creative team, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, have chosen to tell this story. In its early seasons, the show moved back and forth between the strange life on the island — a place where a smoke monster (among other oddities) roams, where an indigenous population violently guards the land's strange powers — and the lives of the survivors before their plane fell from the sky, marooning them. Flashbacks, of course, are timeworn methods storytelling. But the way Cuse, Lindelof and Lost's other writers have used that mechanism — weaving intricate mosaics of how these people's histories inform the choices they make there — has amounted to something matchless and haunting. Some of these survivors have done terrible things: Kate Austen and Sawyer murdered for the sake of family members, and Sayid Jarrah tortured fellow Iraqis while in Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard. Others, such as Dr. Jack Shepard and John Locke (the show's central cipher), had their sense of purpose shattered by fathers who could never see beyond their own significance. These pasts helped bring Lost's characters to the island, and have informed their choices while there. "The real mystery about our show," says Cuse, "is not what is the island; it's who are these people? We've always approached it from that angle. That's what we are really untangling: Who are these people?"

Those answers are still coming (there's a lot of characters to keep track of — presently about 15), but in odder and more remarkable ways. In the final episode of Season Three, Cuse and Lindelof pulled off a trick that left viewers stunned and that opened up entirely different possibilities in the epic series. The background story showed Dr. Jack Shepard — the show's main character — lurching pathetically during a seriously depressed, drug and alcohol-riddled phase of his life, and contrasted that period to the present tense story, in which Shepard steers the survivors through the events of the brutal day that leads up to their long-awaited rescue. In the episode's closing moments, though, as the castaways await the helicopter that will bring them to deliverance, the scene cuts again to the background story, where we see a desolate Jack in a late night meeting with Kate at the L.A. Airport. Because Jack hadn't known Kate prior to the plane crash, it was suddenly clear that this wasn't a flashback at all, but rather from a future we didn't yet know anything about. In what may be the most powerful moment in the series so far, Jack tells Kate, in palpable agony, that they should never have left the island — that they have to go back for the sake of those they left behind.

It was a moment without equal in TV history, and it was also a crucial shift: Life on the island was now in fact the past story — three years past, it turns out. Some people made it off the island and others didn't, and misery rather than deliverance had followed for everybody. In between it all lay new mysteries, in which the true meanings of Lost remained hidden. Watching that scene, we realized we could never again imagine what might happen next. We did know, however, that we were in a realm of genius storytelling, unlike any risk that a mainstream series had taken before. While it would be nice to say that it's also the sort of transformation that opens up new potentials in TV's narrative form, no other shows have yet managed anything comparable (though some, like ABC's short-lived The Nine, have tried, and Heroes lurches every which way compellingly). It could be that Lost is a revolution unto itself, or just too radical and inventive to be easily emulated.

Even so, Damon Lindelof acknowledges a key influence on the show's storytelling. "The idea of approaching Lost in a non-linear fashion," he says, "and showing the audience bits and pieces of things out of order — especially this season — Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction was a game changer. When you went to see that movie for the first time, and you watched the narrative style of it, you see that you're starting with the story about a guy who takes a girl out for a date and she overdoses, then that guy gets shot in the next story, but is then remarkably alive again for the final act of the movie — it basically changes the entire way you perceive the story being told. By telling the story out of order, you're able to infuse it with this tremendous amount of thematic reality. You're not just doing it because it's cool."

The true turning point for Lost came in May 2007, when Cuse and Lindelof persuaded ABC to let them end the series with its sixth season. "Before that," says Cuse, "the problem was we had this mythology that we'd built but we didn't know if it had to last two seasons or nine seasons, and it was utterly paralyzing. We didn't know how fast we needed to dole out our storytelling." Actually, the problem might have been a little worse than that. "Over the course of the first three years," Lindelof adds, "the pervasive sort of thinking about the show — even if you were a fan of it — was, ?This show is going to fuck me. No offense, we love the show, but we don't trust you.' By negotiating the endpoint, and by ABC allowing us to do fewer episodes per season, it allowed us to make the storytelling a lot more intensive."

A key example of how they were about to step things up came that same month, in an episode entitled "The Man Behind the Curtain," when the enigmatic leader of the island's original inhabitants, Benjamin Linus, introduced Locke to Jacob — the man who holds all the island's secrets yet remains invisible to almost everybody. ( Read Rolling Stone's Q&A with Michael Emerson, who plays Linus.) Unlike anything earlier in Lost, this spooky moment went beyond any naturalistic explanation. It was also a sign that, years into its life, Lost still dares to defy any easy meanings; that is, it's not afraid to give up its mysteries both slowly and suddenly, according to the creators' own designs and agenda. "We always had a plan that the sort of genre elements of the show would become more overt over time," says Cuse. "There's a sense of weirdness that existed right from the beginning of the series — a mysterious monster in the jungle, plus a polar bear on an island. We always felt we were interjecting elements that suggested that this was not a normal, real, scientifically grounded place. As you move downstream, the natural progression is for those sorts of elements to become more overt. It was just a question of when they could be revealed."

Cuse and Lindelof have said that, with the fourth and fifth seasons, they've reached a point in which the show is now answering more questions that it is raising. It doesn't always feel that way, though — in fact, anything solved only leads to more mystified territory. In recent episodes, not only have many of the events been out of proper time order, but time itself has been out of time order. The hoped-for rescue at the end of the third season turned out instead to be a killing party, meant to seize the island. In order to save it and everyone on it, Benjamin Linus (easily the most riveting and disturbing character on television in years) pulled off the wondrous coup of moving the island, hiding it almost wholly from detection. But that salvage came at a devastating cost: The effort unhinged the island not only in place but in time, and the remaining crash survivors (and a few other interlopers) found themselves hurling abruptly and painfully from one year or season to another, even to different eons that might include the future (and certainly include the ancient past), until some end up stuck in the year 1977, and others seemingly in 2007. Worse, this principal band of survivors, who were once compatriots, may now find themselves at deadly cross-purposes: The powers between them are now inverted, and their belief systems have swapped out. Even death's perpetuity has come undone — at least for some. (Benjamin Linus murdered John Locke in Los Angeles, for no seeming reason, yet now, back on the island, Locke is yet alive when Ben next meets him).

"The storytelling is now marrying the mysteries of the characters and the island," says Lindelof. "Why are these people intertwined with the island? Why them? I think the audience has always gotten a sense that Oceanic 815 did crash for a reason, and those people on that plane were brought to the island to do something. The audience has been buying that — they want to feel that this crash wasn't arbitrary. This is the shift we're moving into."


That still leaves a lot to reckon with. Whether Lost's characters ever leave the island or not, they still have to live with themselves — with the horrible things they've done, with the moral and emotional wreckage they've become, whether on an isle of miracles or not. Yet amid all the show's loss and darkness there runs a steady if uneasy current of hope: Some of these people have been looking for ways to atone, no matter the price. "The focus on redemption," says Cuse, "is something that is endlessly fascinating to both Damon and me — the fact that we are all sort of imperfect as people. Our characters are in extreme circumstances. They've confronted on the island various manifestations of the exact issues that they struggled with as people their whole lives. We feel there's an incredible universality to that. It's the human journey. Redemption is something that everyone seeks, and that's something we try to hold out in the show. If we acknowledge our imperfection, and if we ask for forgiveness for our imperfection, are we able to actually reset the clock?"

"There's a shift," Lindelof adds, "that started around the time we announced an end date, and that corresponded with the Obama campaign, towards faith. Carlton and I have made no secret of the fact that we're big Obama supporters, and we're very high on hope and change and optimism, and we hope the final seasons of the show will be infused with that idea. And we're seeing that reflected in the attitude of the viewers. People started to say, ?Maybe the show won't fuck me. Maybe if I believe in it, and change my thinking, I will get answers.'

"We have always known what the very end of this series will be," Lindelof continues. "We are going to present the audience with the empirical answers to these questions — the questions that we care about and that we feel are really important to understand in order to give the show the necessary closure. We will not be cutting to black as a Journey song plays. But as for the grander questions Lost raises — you know, does free will win out over destiny? — these sort of larger thematic questions can't be answered by a single show, and we certainly wouldn't have the hubris to try."

Augmented reality on hand at museum in the Netherlands, threatens to make learning cool

This is not the most prurient example of augmented reality we've seen, and it may not have an obvious movie tie-in, but we will give it bonus points for being educational. Visitors to an exhibit titled "A Future for the Past," currently at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, can peep context specific info and virtual reconstructions of Satricum and the Forum Romanum, superimposed on large scale photographs of each respective site. There are two types of hardware on hand -- both the MovableScreen-packin' iMac stationary display and the UMPC devices allow the user to seemingly view through the photos, exploring specific points of interest. There's no telling how much a setup like this would run you if you wanted to, for example, let your friends and neighbors virtually peruse that massive Lego city you built in the garage, but make sure you let us know when you get it up and running. That would be so sweet. Video after the break.

Stars behaving badly

A.J. Hammer and panelists discuss Snoop Dogg, Woody Harrelson and Billy Bob Thornton's clashes with the media.