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Friday, July 17, 2009

EW's Iron Man 2 Cover & Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow

by Entertainment Weekly

1057-ew-cover_lEntertainment Weekly's second annual Comic-Con preview issue features Iron Man 2 on the cover, and inside it’s packed with exclusive first looks at highly anticipated TV shows, comic books, and movies.

The first Iron Man blasted Robert Downey Jr. back to stardom, and the superhero franchise is readying to return to the big screen on May 7, 2010. Iron Man will battle new villain Mickey Rourke, size up Scarlett Johansson (exclusive photo of ScarJo as Black Widow, after the jump!), and, hopefully, prove that the success of the first movie wasn’t a fluke. Downey knows the movie isn't an underdog this time around. "There are a lot more invisible eyes on us now," he says.

When Marvel Studios first announced the sequel, no one was sure what the movie would be about. Downey, director Jon Favreau, screenwriter Justin Theroux, and the rest of the creative team struck upon the idea of introducing two very different foes for Stark. On one side is Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a fast-talking weapons manufacturer who fancies himself the next Tony Stark; on the other, Vanko, who, while incarcerated in a Russian prison, creates his own battle-suit, which shoots devastating, whip-like beams. Hammer and Whiplash join forces to take down Downey’s character, Tony Stark. Rourke, for his part, wanted to instill some lightness into the role of the heavy. "I told Favreau, 'I don't want to just play him as a one-dimensional p----,'" he says. "He let me have a cockatoo, who I talk to and get drunk with while I’m making my suit."

Just as the deals were being hammered out, Terrence Howard -- who had played Stark’s best friend -- fell out of the sequel in a public salary dispute. The role was re-cast, with Don Cheadle stepping in. "We had to make some tough deals," says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. "When they got public, you go, 'That sucks. Okay, you want a peek behind the curtain? Here you are!'" Says Cheadle, "Terrence and I couldn’t be more different. We address it head-on in the movie in one exchange. We're not trying to fool people." (Cheadle admits he didn’t know much about Marvel’s superhero before the first movie came out: "I always thought Iron Man was a robot.")

Adding more flesh and blood to the new movie, Scarlett Johansson joined the cast as Stark’s mysterious new assistant, Natasha, who has an alter ego of her own, Black Widow. That introduction inevitably sparks romantic tension between Stark and former assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who’s been promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. "The men want it to be, like, 'Ooh, the girls are fighting over Tony,' but it's not as standard as that," says Paltrow. "There's a weird male catfight fantasy. Downey agrees. He believes what differentiates the franchise from other superhero series can be summarized as follows: "We're horny. Not, like, can't-bring-your-kids horny, but just…horny."

The question remains whether Iron Man 2 will soar like the first film or show signs of rust when it hits theaters. "People are going to be more critical," says Downey. "That’s their prerogative….In a way, there's no way to win, except to win. Big."

For more on Iron Man, as well as a first look at the hottest movies and TV shows heading to Comic-Con, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday July 17.


Click for more Comic-Con '09 Sneak Peeks

Photo Credit: Francois Duhamel

“Why Nobody Robs A 7-Eleven In Israel”

by Wick Allison


(Copyright 2004, Rachael Papo)

Hybrid2 public bike concept promises to help power city buses

by Donald Melanson,

Hybrid bikes are one thing, but designer Chiyi Chen looks to have something far grander in mind for his Hybrid2 bike concept, which he says could one day help power fleets of city buses. To do that, the hybrid part of the bike (a regenerative braking system) wouldn't be used to help power the bike itself at all, but would instead store the energy in an ultracapacitor that'd then feed the energy back into the grid when its parked at a special bike stand, which would in turn be used to help charge the hybrid electric buses. Not one to overlook an ingenious little detail, Chen has also devised a special card RFID card that would not only be used to unlock the bike, but keep track of the energy that each rider generates -- build up enough credits and you can ride the bus for free. Intrigued? Head on past the break for a video overview from the man himself.

[Via Inhabitat]

The greatest movie trailer in the history of movie trailers

by TopIdol

This is a real movie. It’s called Tiptoes. People don’t believe me when I tell them it exists because it sounds so ludicrous.

“So Matthew McConaghay is the only average-sized person in an all-midget family. And he has a twin brother who is an LP, played by Gary Oldman. So McConaghay’s girlfriend is Kate Beckinsale, who gets pregnant and…”

Yeah, that’s how it kind of goes. I swear. And it’s real. It’s also complete shit and was obviously never released in any theater. Anyway, it came up yesterday at work and obviously, no one believed me. So I looked up the trailer and showed everyone, leading to them being subsequently mesmerized

I’ve watched it about 10 times since. Not because I have issues (well, I do, but that’s besides the point) but because its so damn funny. I have decided it may be the best movie trailer EVER.

Boys On Wheels -New Wheels On The Block

Punks On Wheels

Boys on Wheels - My Balls Are OK

Emmy Nominations: Mad Men, 30 Rock Dominate, Family Guy Shocks

family_guy_emmy.jpg30 Rock and Mad Men led the field of Emmy nominees announced this morning in Los Angeles, pulling down 22 and 16 nominations respectively, including nods for Best Comedy and Dramatic Series. But the ensuing free for-for-all in the expanded categories offered the real news of the day — not the least of which was Family Guy’s selection as the first animated Best Comedy Series nominee since The Flintstones.

That’s a nearly 50-year streak broken by Seth MacFarlane, whose gamble to submit Family Guy in the comedy rather than animation category paid off big. Perhaps even more surprising was Flight of the Conchords’ recognition among comedy series (not to mention Jemaine Clement’s Best Actor nomination), with Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, The Office and Weeds filling the remaining slots. Slightly lesser history was made in the drama category, where Breaking Bad, Big Love, Dexter, House, Damages and Lost rounded out the dramas (maybe next year, True Blood!). ER and The Shield’s final seasons were both stiffed by Emmy voters.

Elsewhere, Toni Collette (The United States of Tara) and Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Program) commandeered dark-horse nominations for Best Actress - Comedy. Jim Parsons scored his own first nod for The Big Bang Theory. Bryan Cranston will defend last year’s upset victory as Best Actor - Drama for Breaking Bad. And maybe not so surprisingly after his 2008 Emmy-host takedown, Jeremy Piven was bumped off the Best Supporting Actor - Comedy list in favor of his Entourage co-star Kevin Dillon. Congrats to all; a comprehensive nominee list can be found over at The Live Feed. Look for more Emmy commentary here later in the day and in the weeks leading up the Sept. 20 awardscast.

· Emmy nominations complete list [The Live Feed]

Left-lane slowpokes drive you crazy?

The words 'move over' -- even if readable in the rearview mirror -- may not mean much to them, but a ticket might. Some states are cracking down.

By Christopher Solomon

In these days of longer commutes and simmering tempers, nothing seems to set off already-testy motorists like the left-lane camper -- the guy or gal who drives in the passing lane and bars faster drivers from easily passing. Web sites have cropped up to educate other drivers, or to vent. There's a (somewhat painful) YouTube song called "Keep Right."

Even bigwigs get frustrated. Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, weary of having his limo slowed down by such left-lane pokies, ordered an aide to have the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission install signs a few years ago reading "Keep Right, Pass Left. It's the Law."

And now some states are cracking down on left-lane campers, both to keep traffic moving and to tamp down the road rage that goes from zero-to-60 faster than ever before.

That's not just a pretext. Last year, a driver was arrested on Interstate 79 outside Pittsburgh after allegedly brandishing a semiautomatic pistol at a driver who was on his tail.

You could get a ticket

Some states didn't allow left-lane lingering but didn't enforce the law. Now they are.

At the start of the summer, the Washington State Patrol began pulling people over for violating the state's left-lane law, which prohibits "impeding the flow of other traffic."

"This a real big hot-button topic for the public at large right now," says Trooper Cliff Pratt. "We've had a lot of complaints" from drivers who've had to deal with left-lane campers.

So far authorities have been gentle with the $124 ticket; the drivers stopped were given verbal warnings.

Last year, news outlets reported that Oklahoma was bolstering enforcement of its left-lane law as well.

"We deal with it weekly," Lt. George Brown, supervisor of public affairs for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said of left-lane drivers going too slowly. He's issued more warnings than tickets.

Insurers haven't gotten aggressive yet, either, but this kind of ticket has the potential to raise rates.

"Any moving violation that applies points to a driver's record could affect that driver's car insurance rates," says Susan Gallik Rouser, a spokeswoman for Progressive. "And because left-lane driving would be considered as such an infraction, we would take that into account when renewing a driver's policy."

What's the law in your state?

The laws vary widely, according to John Carr, who works for a software company in the Boston area and who compiled a list of the rules in each state after taking an interest in the issue:
  • A few states -- for instance, Kentucky, Maine Massachusetts and New Jersey -- permit use of the left lane only for passing or turning left.
  • Georgia, Colorado and Louisiana follow the Uniform Vehicle Code, requiring drivers to keep right if they're going slower than the speed of traffic.
  • Wyoming prohibits blocking the far left lane of a highway "for a prolonged period," though it adds that the traffic should be "at a lawful rate of speed."
  • In Arkansas and South Dakota, vehicles don't have to stay right.
  • In Alaska, Maryland, North Carolina and Ohio, vehicles can drive in the left lane so long as they're moving at the speed limit.
  • Florida is trying to join in: Lawmakers reintroduced a Road Rage Reduction Act this year, requiring motorists to stay out of the left lane on interstate highways except when passing. It passed the Legislature in 2005 but was vetoed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, who questioned whether it was based on sound research.

It's no wonder drivers can be confused, and often frustrated.

'One of my biggest pet peeves'

One of those exasperated drivers in your rearview mirror might be Eli Dozier.

"That's one of my biggest pet peeves in the world, is when people stay in the left lane. They're not passing, they've got people behind them, trying to go around, and they just cruise," says Dozier, 31 and a stay-at-home dad.

"It's probably the most uncourteous thing you can do," he says, adding that it's "obviously" unsafe.

"I'm a fast driver," Dozier allows. "But if I'm not passing, I don't use that left lane at all."

So what's a frustrated motorist to do?

Dozier heard in a chat room about some windshield decals that said "Slower Traffic," with an arrow pointing to the right-hand lane, printed backward in large letters for reading in a rearview mirror. "And so I immediately ordered one. I jumped on it."

He loves the thing. "Most people, it's just inattentiveness" that keeps them in the passing lane, Dozier says. "Most people, when you pass them, they'll give you a wave. They're thankful" for the reminder.

Continued: 'REVO EVOM'

At least, he says, women tend to be. Men sometimes take Dozier's sticker as an affront and will retaliate by slowing down, he says. There have been some middle fingers, some choice words. And then, Dozier says, "I have been known to show them how good the back of my car looks." At very close range. Which only exacerbates the situation.

Overall, though, both he and his wife are delighted with the results, he says. They recently bought her a Dodge Ram 1500 with a quad cab, and they've ordered a decal like his for it.

Pennsylvania authorities also find that reminders do work. "Anecdotally," says Carl DeFebo of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority, "you do see a lot less people . . . enjoying the weather" in the passing lane since 25 signs went up on the turnpike in 2003 and 2004. It probably helps that "sometimes our police will actually enforce this," DeFebo adds, handing out warnings or tickets that add up to $108.

Courtesy counts

The creator of those stickers, J.A. Tosti, is also director and founder of Left Lane Drivers of America. "What we're seeking to do is raise awareness," he explains.

A frustrating experience was a "Eureka!" moment for Tosti. "One day I was driving one of the local freeways in the area here -- we're not far from Portland (Ore.) -- and I got behind a guy who was going slow in the left lane," says Tosti. "And I got to thinking, boy, it sure would be nice if I could reach out and tap this guy on the shoulder and ask him to move over. And that's when the light bulb went off."

Tosti went home and designed a see-through decal for windshields that says "REVO EVOM." Seen in a rearview mirror, it reads "MOVE OVER."

"It's been a labor of love," says Tosti, who didn't disclose how many $29 stickers he's sold. He would like to sell more to law-enforcement agencies.

Tosti said aggression only aggravates other drivers. For him, response to the decal on his car has always been positive and pleasant -- in large part because he is a patient, nontailgating driver.

"It's amazing how effective it is," he says. "On one trip from Portland to Seattle, I felt at times like I was sweeping the left lane with a broom."

A faster, more courteous -- and well-swept -- highway? Sounds like something most folks could live with.

Defending the driving

But not everyone agrees with those who tell them to get out of the way.

"The left lane is for passing . . . not a license to speed till you kill someone," wrote a contributor to Motor Trend's blog. "Grow up. If I'm in the left lane doing 65 while the speed limit's 80, I'll move over. But if I'm doing the speed limit, and someone decides he's Mario Andretti . . . he/she can go around me and break the law further up the highway."

Washington state law says, "It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic."

"I think there is some misunderstanding," Pratt says. "A lot of people think that if they're going at or near the speed limit that they don't have to get out of the lane."

And the left-lane driving debate goes on.

Madonna’s Stage Collapses; One Person Dies

The Marseille fire department says a stage built for Madonna’s concert at the Stage Velodrome stadium collapsed on several workers on Thursday, killing one person and injuring at least six others. The popstar was set to perform in the French town on July 19 but the mayor confirmed the concert has been cancelled.

See more images from the scene of the incident.

"I am devastated to have just received this tragic news," Madonna said in a statement. "My prayers go out to those who were injured and their families along with my deepest sympathy to all those affected by this heartbreaking news." She was in Udine, Italy, when the accident occured and was told as she finished her soundcheck on a different stage at the Stadio Friuli. The concerts are part of the European leg of her "Sticky & Sweet" tour.

The six survivors were taken to a nearby hospital and two of the them are seriously wounded. The cause of the collapse remains unclear and the area where the accident occurred is currently barricaded. Initial reports point to a crane failure which caused its contents to spill on to the stage. The roof was also said to have collapsed.

Brush up on your French and click on the video to watch officials clear up the aftermath.

Paul McCartney Performs Live Atop Ed Sullivan Theater NYC

The music legend performs a special mini-concert on top of the Ed Sullivan Theater Marquee. Songs include: "Coming Up," "Band on the Run," "Let Me Roll It," "Helter Skelter," and "Back in the USSR."

Tennis Star Didn’t Do Cocaine; There Was This Girl... His story: She did the coke, he kissed her, he tested positive


Getty Images

Not pictured: The alleged coke-using lady.

Sometimes the ballsiet defenses are the best.

Richard Gasquet was up for a two-and-a-half year suspension after testing positive for cocaine in his system during the ATP stop in Miami.

He and his attorneys went with the Jimmy Buffett defense — some people say that there’s a woman to blame. Gasquet said he would never roll up a $100 bill and snort Peruvian powder, but there was this girl in a nightclub in Miami and they were making out and she had done cocaine so some of what she had done must have transferred to his system. The old cocaine contact high theory.

And it worked. An international tribunal of lawyers who decides such things noted that the amount of cocaine found in Gasquet’s bloodstream was so small it could not have come from recreational use (that or he’s just really, really bad at it) so this story seemed plausible. And they apparently just plain liked the guy. The tribunal reduced his suspension to essentially time served (a couple of months).

Now he can return to the court where he is regarded as a talented underachiever who can’t seem to focus and concentrate — oddly, kind of things you’d expect of a guy with this kind of lifestyle.

This ruling could lead to a rash of athlete blaming women in clubs for their problems. Manny Ramirez got female fertility drugs in his system because he was at this club in Los Angeles and there was this woman. Plaxico Burress didn’t shoot himself in the leg, there was this girl in a Manhattan nightclub. You get the idea.

But be warned, what a French tennis star and his team of lawyers can get away with and what you can get away with when trying to explain something away to your boss are two different things. Don’t try this excuse with your girlfriend.

Copyright NBC Local Media

Is This One of The 7 Wonders of Nature? - ABC News

Is This One of The 7 Wonders of Nature? - ABC News

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Tourist Traps That Are Worth It

Tourist traps are to travel as death and taxes are to life: irritating and inescapable. Unless you're making fresh tracks in Siberia, wherever you travel you're bound to find restaurants with cheesy themes or costumed wait staff, historical sites turned into theme parks, even entire cities whose charm and beauty are all but obliterated by camera-wielding tour groups. But not all tourist traps are created equal. Some "must-sees" on the well-trodden tourist circuit—such as our Ten Things Not to Do in New York City—should be written off altogether, while the 12 sites we've listed here turn out to be authentic, worthwhile experiences…once you scratch beneath the kitsch and push through the crowds. So, go on, you know you want to. Do the tourist thing. Just once.

Pictured: Tiki Village Theatre, French Polynesia
Published July 2009

Next: China: Between a rock wall and a hard place ›

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Van Damme Friday - heeeeey!!