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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creators of "Harold & Kumar" Working On New Comedy "Stan"

By Jay A. Fernandez


Josh Friedlander has sold his original comedy screenplay "One Night Stan" to Lionsgate. "Harold & Kumar" creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are set to direct.

"Stan" plays out a scenario about which many men fantasize on the cusp of marriage. When Stan learns his fiancee, Julie, has had more sexual partners than he, he gets her blessing for one night to play catch-up. Unfortunately, his plans for a sex buffet don't come together quite the way he had hoped.

Peter Principato, Paul Young and Matt Berenson of Principato Young Entertainment are producing with Mike Karz of Karz Entertainment. Josie Rosen of Karz brought the script to Lionsgate and will executive produce.

Lionsgate has not strayed often into comedy territory and rarely has done well with it -- unless it has Tyler Perry's name in the title. Post-"Hangover," though, concept is king, especially if it offers a big canvas for raunchy, R-rated fun with under-the-radar talent.

Friedlander, repped by ICM and Imprint Entertainment, wrote the script "Pictures of You," which landed on the 2007 Black List of most liked screenplays. He is developing the comedy "Camp Morningwood," with McG producing, and recently worked on the script for "The Art of Cool" at Sony.

Hurwitz and Schlossberg, repped by CAA and Principato Young, wrote and directed "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay." They have written and will direct " 'Til Beth Do Us Part" for Warner Bros., and their comedy script "Grandma vs. Grandma" is set up at Paramount.

Principato Young, which executive produces Comedy Central's "Reno 911!" also is producing "Beth" and has "For Richer or Poorer" in development at Warners, "Bot" at Fox and "The Bender" at New Line.

Wii Remotes help you feel holograms

Matthew Razak

Wii Remotes help you feel holograms photo
japan

Holograms have always disappointed me. This is mostly because they're nothing like what they are in science fiction. Where's the hologram that can go horribly wrong and trap me in gangster era America with the safety protocols somehow broken? I demand holograms that can kill me, and until they exist nothing is going to satisfy my hologram needs. I clearly have a long wait, but we are one step closer as some scientists in Japan have created tactile holograms and part of the process involves using Wii Remotes. Is there anything the Wii Remote can't be used for?

Really the use of the Wii Remote just gives us a good excuse to show off this interesting piece of tech as otherwise it wouldn't really be gaming related. The holographic device uses the Wii Remotes to track the person's hand and the the feeling of things like rain drops or a ball is created by an "Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display." It seems pretty high-tech so I'll just let the video below show it off to you instead of pretending that I know what I'm talking about.

[Thanks, Dexter]

Pressure-sensitive QWERTY keyboard demo’d by Microsoft Hardware


Pressure sensitivity in musical keyboards is nothing new – pressing the keys harder results in a louder note, just as if you sit down with ever-increasing force on a piano – but until now it’s not something we’ve seen on regular QWERTY keyboards. That could all change, if Microsoft Hardware decide to put their pressure-sensitive keyboard into production: developed as a prototype for the UIST 2009 student innovation contest, it can track 8-bit pressure information across all of its keys.

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Video demo after the cut

Basically, as well as recognizing when a key has been pressed, the sensor underneath also records the pressure of the press. While you’re unlikely to be making music with your QWERTY ‘board, what Microsoft envisage is different keyboard behaviors tied into different pressures: so, lightly pressing backspace will delete a single character, as normal, but a harder press would delete a whole word, while an even harder touch might get rid of the sentence or paragraph.

Alternatively you could forget the shift key and capitalize letters by pressing harder, or throw out your gaming controller and use the ‘board to make pressure-proportional jumps and other moves. Right now Microsoft Hardware say they have no plans for a production version.

[via ArsTechnica]

Surfer Hits Wave While On His Cell Phone, Records it



"Can you hear me now? Good."

It’s no secret; cell phone use has become an obnoxious interrupter in the most unseemly of locations: in the car, at dinner, even at church or temple or in the mosque. It seems nowhere is too holy for the almighty digital age – not even the barrel. Or so thinks Sterling Spencer.

Last week a shot of the Gulf Coaster filtered through the SURFER offices that takes cell phone usage to a new level. In it, Spencer is fully shacked in Mexico while locked into a conversation on his new waterproof cell phone. The image bore some explanation.

“I was talking to my woman at home,” said Spencer. “She didn’t believe me at first; I actually hung up on her cause it was barreling so hard I didn’t want to fall and lose the phone...All we talked about was that we couldn’t believe I’m in Mexico, on a phone, talking while surfing. Bizarre...the reception was good actually, other than crashing waves in the background.”

According to cell phone studies recently made public by the Center for Auto Safety, motorists talking on cell phones are about four times as likely to crash as other drivers. We can only expect the trend to crossover into surfing…

Said Spencer, “Everyone is gonna have their cell phones out surfing soon…Wait, hold on...Sorry dude, I was texting.”

Look Mom! I'm filming myself surfing, with a camera phone... from jarrod Tallman on Vimeo.

'Arrested Development' trio in Fox reunion

Will Arnett stars in project from Mitch Hurwitz, Jim Vallely

By Nellie Andreeva

Aug 10, 2009, 11:00 PM ET

It's an "Arrested Development" reunion at Fox.

The Emmy-winning series' creator/executive producer Mitch Hurwitz, co-star Will Arnett and co-executive producer Jim Vallely have teamed for another single-camera Fox comedy.

The project, which has received a script commitment, is being written by Hurwitz, Arnett and Vallely. It stars Arnett as a rich Beverly Hills jackass who falls in love with a charitable tree-hugging woman who can't stand his lifestyle or values.

The comedy, produced by Sony TV and studio-based Tantamount, is the first project to come out of the development pact that Arnett inked with Fox in October.

Hurwitz is executive producing with his producing partners at Tantamount, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum; Vallely; and Peter Principato and Paul Young. Arnett also serves as a producer.

Arnett recently lent his voice to "Sit Down, Shut Up," Hurwitz's animated comedy for Fox and Sony TV on which Vallely served as a co-exec producer.

Hurwitz and Vallely won two 2005 Emmys for penning the "Righteous Brothers" episode of "Development." This season, the two wrote the CBS/Sony pilot "Happiness Isn't Everything," which starred Jason Biggs.

Arnett earned Emmy noms for his role as part-time magician Gob Bluth on "Development" and for his recent recurring role on NBC's "30 Rock." The actor, who co-stars in "G-Force," will next be seen in "When in Rome" and "Jonah Hex."

Hurwitz and Arnett are repped by WME. Arnett is managed by Principato Young. Vallely is with CAA and Brillstein Entertainment.

Rear-Projection Urinal Lets You Pee Over Football Games or Bill O'Reilly

A pub in Melbourne came up with what potentially could be the best and wrongest multimedia device ever invented: A urinal with a rear projector, so you don't miss a single second of a game when you have to pee.

The idea of the Rear Projection Urinal is good, although potentially disturbing—especially when your favorite TV anchor appears. Or when people instinctively follow the ball and end peeing on the next guy in line. Or when they play a Nicholas Cage movie.

Yes, this can be disturbing and very wrong. Not as disturbing as the crazy singing clown urinal from Osaka, but close. [Melbourne Pubs]

Guide to Dating Out of Your League

coedmagazine.com

Dating-guide

The holy grail of dating is to actually find a girl who’s hot but is still willing to go out with you. And as you’ve already figured out, that’s really hard. But even if you’re not as attractive or as suave as that friend who has so much sex you want to punch him, even if you “have no game,” there are a few ways to tip the scales in your favor. These aren’t magic bullets. They’re practical, actionable things that you can do to help you snag that gorgeous girl who it turns out has low enough self esteem to actually go for you.

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1. Actually Ask Girls Out on Dates

Look, you can’t date out of your league if you don’t have the balls to actually ask a girl out on a date. Sure, you might be able to get lucky at a party with a drunk girl, but as you’ve already experienced, it’s harder to do that consistently than you fantasized about in high school. So many guys whine inwardly about not being a chick-magnet and forget it’s because they don’t actually put themselves out there and talk to any girls.

If you want to date a girl who’s out of your league, you have to man up and make a move. Just talk to her. If you already know her, ask her if she wants to go out to dinner; if you don’t, ask for her number. And I hate to say it, but the Swingers rule is true: don’t call her right away. Don’t be Jon Favreau.

The key is to be perceptive. The problem for most guys who are unlucky with girls is not that they’re bad looking, it’s that they’re oblivious. Girls make it very obvious when they don’t like what you’re doing (and for the record, pick-up lines and transparent attempts to impress her never work). If she’s interested, she won’t be looking around the room for her girlfriends to save her. She won’t be responding to your questions in polite two-word answers. In fact, she won’t have to respond to too many of your questions, because she’ll be asking you questions, too.

If you’re not getting the signs, move on. Rejection sucks at first, but if you actually follow this advice and go talk to a lot of girls, two things happen: one, rejection will stop sucking so much, and two, your ratio of rejections/non-rejections will very slowly begin to balance out. I promise you: the world won’t run out of hot girls. Especially in college towns.

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2. Don’t Talk About Yourself. At All.

“When I was in seventh grade, I was really into Magic: The Gathering.”

“Yeah, I love movies! I even went to the midnight opening of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Sat in the front row.”

“While I was masturbating this morning I was thinking about my mom…”

Okay, so all of those are pretty extreme examples of what not to say to a girl. (Or anyone.) The other so-obvious-it’s-a-movie-cliché no-no? Talking about an ex-girlfriend. I’m going to be straight with you here: if you even have the urge to talk about your ex-girlfriend, you’re not ready to get out there yet, and you’re doomed to fail.

But the “don’t talk about yourself” rule extends beyond just the obvious. I really mean don’t talk about yourself at all. You know why? You’re not interesting. You work in the scheduling department of a non-profit? You taught yourself web design? Your football team made sectionals in high school? Your professor is just super, super lame? Don’tcaredon’tcaredon’tcaredon’tcare.

Depending on exactly how “out of your league” the girl is, she’s probably not interesting either. Unless she’s Mary-Louise Parker’s illegitimate daughter who got the hot genes from her mom and currently works as a spy for the CIA, chances are she’s just some random bitchy princess you want to sleep with, in which case — pat yourself on the back — she’s even less interesting than you. If you ever want her to go down on you, just shut up and listen.

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3. But At the Same Time, Don’t Be a Pussy.

There’s shutting up and listening to her stories, and then there’s letting her whine to you about this guy who’s mean to her and she’s so glad she has a really, really great friend like you. If you’ve gotten to the latter point, you’re beyond saving.

It’s not a secret anymore that in general, girls are attracted to guys who don’t treat them well. And it makes perfect sense: she’s really hot and has lived a life of everyone, especially guys like you, tripping over themselves to please her. The one guy who does things differently catches her attention.

But there’s two things wrong with that rule. First, you can only really pull it off if you’re good-looking. If you’re a hot jerk, you’re a badass; if you’re an average-looking jerk, you’re a tool. It’s not fair, but such is life.

The other problem is that most of you who need to read articles like this one are too nice. You literally cannot be a jerk to a girl. Your parents taught you manners, thank you very much, and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

There’s not. The solution? Just be assertive. That means, simply, that you should come across like a man who knows what he wants. When you ask her out, give her a specific time, place, and activity. Never say “I don’t care, what do you want to do?” If she asks your opinion on something, give it to her. Etc.

If she does specifically ask you about yourself, you’re permitted to tell her that you have a steady job or are well on your way down a lucrative career path. No, she’s not seriously considering you as a mate yet, but if you think there’s no difference between “I’m studying to be a lawyer” and “I’m an English major,” you’re wrong.

A HIV-blocking gel for women -Breakthrough

Contact: Lee Siegel
leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah


New 'molecular condom' meant to prevent AIDS

IMAGE: University of Utah bioengineer Patrick Kiser analyzes polymers used to develop a new kind of AIDS-preventing vaginal gel for eventual use by women in Africa and other impoverished areas. The...

Click here for more information.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 10, 2009 – University of Utah scientists developed a new kind of "molecular condom" to protect women from AIDS in Africa and other impoverished areas. Before sex, women would insert a vaginal gel that turns semisolid in the presence of semen, trapping AIDS virus particles in a microscopic mesh so they can't infect vaginal cells.

"The first step in the complicated process of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection in a woman is the virus diffusing from semen to vaginal tissue. We want to stop that first step," says Patrick Kiser, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah's College of Engineering. "We have created the first vaginal gel designed to prevent movement of the AIDS virus. This is unique. There's nothing like it."

"We did it to develop technologies that can enable women to protect themselves against HIV without approval of their partner," he adds. "This is important – particularly in resource-poor areas of the world like sub-Sahara Africa and south Asia where, in some age groups, as many as 60 percent of women already are infected with HIV. In these places, women often are not empowered to force their partners to wear a condom."

A study testing the behavior of the new gel and showing how it traps AIDS-causing HIV particles will be published online later this week in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Kiser is the senior author.

"Due to cultural and socioeconomic factors, women often are unable to negotiate the use of protection with their partner," says Julie Jay, the study's first author and a University of Utah doctoral candidate in pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry.

So the researchers developed a vaginal gel that a woman could insert a few hours before sex and "could detect the presence of semen and provide a protective barrier between the vaginal tissue and HIV," Jay says. "We wanted to build a gel that would stop HIV from interacting with vaginal tissue."

Kiser estimates that if all goes well, human tests of the gel would start in three to five years, and the gel would reach the market in several more years. He and Jay want to incorporate an antiviral drug into the gel so it both blocks HIV movement and prevents the virus from replicating.

A Rocky Road to Microbicides against AIDS

The effort to develop microbicides – intravaginal gels, rings and films – to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus has been halting. The few that have reached human clinical trials in Africa failed to prevent HIV transmission – either because they carried antiviral drugs that were not long-lived or strong enough, or because patients failed to use them. Some experimental microbicides increased the risk, possibly by irritating vaginal tissue and attracting immune cells that are targeted by the virus.

In 2006, Kiser and colleagues published a study on their development of another "molecular condom" to be applied vaginally as a liquid, turn into a gel coating at body temperature, then, in the presence of semen, turn liquid and release an anti-HIV drug.

Unfortunately, few antiviral drugs bind to and attack HIV in semen. And in Africa, high air temperatures prevent the gel from turning liquid so it could coat the vagina evenly, Kiser says.

The new "molecular condom" gel in the current study works in the opposite way. Like the old version, it changes in response to changes in pH – acidity or alkalinity – in the vagina caused by the introduction of semen during sex. But unlike the old gel, which became liquid at the higher (less acidic) pH of semen, the new "molecular condom" becomes a semisolid at the pH of semen, forming a mesh of "crosslinked" molecules.

The new gel is applied as a gel, and then becomes more solid and impenetrable as changes in pH alter the strength of the bond between the gel's two key components, both of which are polymers, or long, chain-like molecules made of many smaller, repeating units: PBA, or phenylboronic acid, and SHA, or salicylhydroxamic acid.

Slowing and Blocking the AIDS Virus

Kiser's team first published a study about the invention of the polymers and their behavior in 2007. A patent is pending on the invention.

The chemical bonds between the two polymers constantly attach and detach at normal, acidic vaginal pHs of about 4.8, allowing the gel to flow, Kiser says. But at a pH of 7.6 – the slightly alkaline condition when semen enters the vagina – the PBA and SHA polymers "crosslink" and stick tightly together, he adds.

Part of the new study characterized the flow of the gel.

"It flows at a vaginal pH, and the flow becomes slower and slower as pH increases, and it begins to act more solid at the pH of semen," Jay says. HIV moves slowly within the gel, even when the gel is at lower pHs (higher acidity) and still flowing, but the virus is blocked at higher pHs caused by the entry of semen into the vagina.

The crosslinked polymers form a mesh that is smaller than microscopic, and instead is nanoscopic – on the scale of atoms and molecules – with a mesh size of a mere 30 to 50 nanometers – or 30 to 50 billionths of a meter. (A meter is about 39 inches.)

By comparison, an HIV particle is about 100 nanometers wide, sperm measure about 5 to 10 microns (5,000 to 10,000 nanometers) in cross section, and the width of a human hair is roughly 100 microns (100,000 nanometers).

Kiser says the gel should block other viruses and sperm, thus could work as a contraceptive and possibly prevent infection by herpes viruses and human papillomavirus (HPV), a major cause of cervical cancer.

The gel also could help prevent AIDS by blocking movement of immune system cells that try to combat infectious agents but instead get hijacked by the AIDS virus.

During the study, coauthors from Northwestern University in Chicago used a sophisticated microscope to track how fast HIV particles marked with fluorescent dye moved when they were caught in the gel, and how the speed varied with changes in pH.

The researchers compared movement of HIV particles with latex particles, which revealed that under somewhat acidic conditions, the HIV particles are slowed down in part because their surfaces react chemically with the polymers.

By adding an anti-AIDS drug such as tenofovir to the gel, "the virus would have two barriers to get through: the polymer barrier and then the drug barrier," Kiser says. Unlike an antiviral used with the old gel, tenofovir would not attack HIV directly, but protect immune cells in the vagina from infection.

Kiser says that after sex, the vagina gradually becomes acidic again, and any residual HIV particles would be inactivated both by acidity and an antiviral drug within the remaining gel, which still impedes HIV to some extent at normal vaginal acidity.

Kiser and Jay conducted the study with four other University of Utah researchers: bioengineering undergraduates Kristofer Langheinrich and Melissa Hanson, bioengineering graduate student Todd Johnson, and bioengineering researcher Meredith Clark. Other coauthors were from the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago: Thomas Hope, Shetha Shukair and Gianguido Cianci.

The study was funded by National Institutes of Health. Kiser's research team is continuing the effort to develop microbicides to prevent AIDS thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Upcoming work includes assessing the HIV-prevention potential of other polymers, testing the safety of the new gel on vaginal cells, and studying how well the new gel blocks the transport of HIV into samples of human vaginal and penile tissue from hysterectomies and circumcisions, respectively.

###

University of Utah Public Relations
201 Presidents Circle, Room 308
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-9017
(801) 581-6773 fax: (801) 585-3350
www.unews.utah.edu

Guitar Hero Van Halen Reveal Trailer

One of rock's most legendary bands comes to Guitar Hero! Activision is brings the band to virtual life and also includes music from Queen, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Blink 182, The Offspring, Weezer, and many more!

Making the World's Longest BLT at Iron Barley

Courtesy of http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/

The fifth-annual Tomato Fest at Iron Barley in South St. Louis wrapped up Sunday with owner Tom Coghill and a crew of 90 volunteers working to create the world's longest bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich, at 179-feet, two-inches. (That's a lot of bacon -- 500 pounds of savory, crispy, delicious bacon.) The previous record was 169 feet. Video, photos and more BLT stats after the jump. (All photos by Tom Lampe; check out his Flickr page, too.)
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Inside the beast...
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Iron Barley owner Tom Coghill.
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Thanks to Bill Streeter for the video.
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1,280 pounds of tomatoes.
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US Bank To Allow Check Deposits via iPhone

picture-12

The USAA bank will soon let you deposit a check with your iPhone. Many banks have iPhone apps that allow online banking, but USAA, from its single branch in San Antonio, will be the first to dispatch with the decidedly old-school check.

Using the application, customers photograph the front and back of the check with the iPhone’s camera. Hit send and the check is whisked off into the clearing system. The paper check itself never needs to go to the bank, and you can just tear it up and toss it away (or, for the more paranoid, file it in a safe place). The service will be appear in an update to the already available iPhone app sometime this week. The application will also steer you to your nearest ATM, show you where the nearest car rental joint is and, weirdly, “record accident details to help you file a claim.”

What surprises us is that people still use checks. In Spain, cash is still king, but more and more people use debit cards that work just like checks, only without the dead trees. I almost never see checks, to the extent that when I do spot one being written, I stare and point. The app is free, and available now.
Product page [USAA via NYT]

The True Story of the REAL Inglourious Basterds

My Father, The Inglourious Basterd


Peter Masters Quentin Tarantino's ultra-violent Nazi revenge movie may have plenty of drama but the real story is even better. Kim Masters on the heroic band of Jewish commandos known as X Troop.

My father was an Inglourious Basterd. Actually, he was the opposite of that. But he was a Jewish commando in the British Army during World War II.

And for my father, this fight was very personal. A native of Vienna, he belonged to a secret unit made up of refugees from the Nazis. They went on reconnaissance missions in enemy territory; they stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day; they shot at, blew up, captured, and interrogated German soldiers.

CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW OUR GALLERY OF PETER MASTERS AND X TROOP

Article - Masters father Inglourious Basterds GALLERY LAUNCH

They didn’t take scalps or carve swastikas into anybody’s forehead.

Those fanciful elements are present in Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s cartoonish tale of an American death squad made up of Jewish soldiers. Their commander (Brad Pitt) exhorts them to bring him the scalps at least 100 Nazis each. Soon after, the Tarantino violence-porn begins.

The real story is better.

Until he was 16, my father led a sheltered life as a fairly assimilated middle-class boy. He was artistic and could recite German poetry from memory—but he also played soccer and skied. By 1938, however, he was dodging Nazi hooligans in the streets. The millinery business that his aunt and mother owned had been confiscated. There were constant threatening phone calls and every knock at the door was terrifying.

My father’s enterprising aunt Ida made it to London, where she worked tirelessly to arrange for the rest of the family to leave. In the end, my grandmother, my father and his sister took a night train through the heart of Germany to Paris. From there, they went to England, where they found themselves destitute but far more fortunate than many family members who did not escape.

My father was placed as a farmhand in exchange for room and board. It was a big change for a city boy though the hard work would serve him well later. Several months after war broke out in September 1939, the British police appeared to say that my father had to leave the area because he was an “enemy alien.” He returned to London and was promptly arrested, as were many refugees, and sent to an internment camp.

As my father strode down the center of the road, he shouted in German: “Surrender, all of you! Come out! You are completely surrounded and don’t have a chance!”

When the British lowered the age of enlistment to 18, my father volunteered for the only service that was open to him: manual labor. It was dreary and frustrating. Many of these young men from Germany and Austria were keen to fight the Nazis. Finally one day a notice was posted seeking anyone “wishing to volunteer for special and hazardous duty.” When my father reported for an interview, he was asked why he wanted to serve. “I think part of this war belongs to me, sir,” he replied.

All the soldiers accepted for the outfit that Winston Churchill called “X Troop” had to have false British identities. Obviously the hazards to them as men in the field would be greatly multiplied if the Germans knew that some of the commandos were European Jews. My father, Peter Arany, became Pvt. Peter Masters, who had been born in London, was a member of the Church of England, and had volunteered for the commandos from the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

His friend Hans Georg Furth became Tony Firth. Peter Tischler became Peter Terry. All these very English names were attached to men who spoke with strong accents. One whose name was Stein chose to call himself Spencer but pronounced it “Shpencer.”

They were instructed to burn possessions that revealed their true identities. They were not to correspond with people with foreign-sounding names. My father practiced his new signature until he could write it fluently. Then he and his associates started a rigorous training program in Wales. In time the X Troop was trained to rappel and parachute; to use guns, bayonets and knives; and even to kill with bare hands. These were elite soldiers: educated, elegant and in some cases, admittedly conceited.

My father’s first taste of battle didn’t come until June 6, 1944—D-Day. His unit crossed the rough waters of the English Channel and when they approached Sword Beach, some of his comrades were killed even before they could get off the landing craft. My father carried a rucksack, a Tommy gun, lots of spare rounds of ammunition, various grenades and a collapsible bicycle. He also carried a heavy hemp rope to be used in the event that the retreating Germans managed to blow out a bridge that was a key supply route for the advancing Allies. (He was very pleased, when he arrived at Pegasus Bridge, to find it intact. He could finally abandon that rope.)

The commandos were valued not only because they specialized in reconnaissance but because their fluency in German was useful in interrogating captured troops. As my father’s unit moved inland on their bicycles, the man in the lead position was shot through the head. The troops took cover and then the captain told my father to approach the village ahead. He didn’t want my father to take a stealth approach but to walk down the open road. With a sinking feeling, my father understood that his mission was to draw German fire so the captain could see where it was coming from. Realizing that there was no time to do more careful reconnaissance, my father accepted what he saw as a likely death sentence.

“All that training going to waste,” he lamented. Then he remembered having seen Gunga Din in which Cary Grant, surrounded by the enemy, says coolly, “You are all under arrest.” That inspired my father as he strode down the center of the road, shouting in German: “Surrender, all of you! Come out! You are completely surrounded and don’t have a chance!”

For a time all was silent. Then a German soldier popped up from behind a parapet and fired. My father dropped to his knee and fired back. Each missed the other. My father’s gun jammed. The German dove for cover. My father went flat on his stomach to clear his gun. As he prepared to shoot again he heard a noise and there, behind him, his entire troop was charging, bayonets fixed. The soldier in the lead shot two enemy soldiers concealed in a ditch to the left of the road, each with a belt-fed German machine gun.

When my father approached, he saw that both looked “appallingly young.” One was severely wounded; my father interrogated the other, who said they were 17 and 15 years old. The English soldier who had shot them asked my father how to say, “I’m sorry” in German.

In 1997, when he was 75, my father published his memoir: Striking Back: A Jewish Commando’s War Against the Nazis. He did a great deal of public speaking and contributed to historian Stephen Ambrose’s books on the war. He very much wanted the world to know about X Troop, the Jewish commandos who fought heroically and took exceptionally high casualties, to counter the image of Jews being herded to slaughter. (He is also visible in a documentary titled About Face: The Story of the Jewish Refugee Soldiers of World War II. But that film has languished for several years without finding distribution.)

Four years ago, my 83-year-old father’s heart finally gave out in the midst of a tennis match. That was certainly the ending that he had envisioned for himself. I can’t ask him what he thinks of Inglourious Basterds but I have talked to some of his comrades. Of course they haven’t seen the film, which opens later this month, but what they hate is the premise that Jewish soldiers would hunt for scalps or bludgeon prisoners with a baseball bat.

“We killed people elegantly, without that sort of thing,” said Tony Firth, now 90.

“Shocking!” said my father’s friend, Peter Terry, now 85. “I mean—really!”

Like my father, Terry landed in Normandy on D-Day. A day later, he was shot in the leg by a sniper. He recuperated fast enough to be back in action three weeks later. He didn’t stay long. “I was on a terrible patrol and we ran into an ambush,” he says. “I got shot... Then I spent seven months in hospital in England.”

Terry is still haunted by the memory of flushing out a German pillbox. Another soldier tossed in a grenade from the rear while Terry waited on the other side. As a German soldier emerged, Terry fired. “He had his hands up,” Terry says. “I wouldn’t shoot anyone with his hands up. It’s bothered me ever since then.”

He never saw anyone abuse prisoners, whom he describes as a dispirited lot for the most part. “One was on the whole very decent,” he says, adding, “If you saw a dead German, you passed him and you didn’t laugh.”

My father’s book recounts one tale in which a commando confided to him that a colonel had ordered him to use his Tommy gun to shoot three SS prisoners because no one could be spared to guard them. When my father’s friend hesitated, the colonel put a pistol to his head and ordered him to shoot. “I hate the bastard because of what he made me do,” he told my father. My father wrote that this story stayed with him as he asked himself what he would have done. “I like to think that I would have shot the colonel,” he concluded.

Manfred Ganz, who called himself Freddy Gray during the war, has one of the most dramatic stories of all. He was wounded during the Normandy invasion, hit five times, but avoided being evacuated. In the last days of the war, he heard a rumor that his parents might still be alive in the Terezin concentration camp. On May 7, 1945, Manfred set out with a jeep and driver. He had to cross 450 miles through territory held in some places by the Germans and in other by Soviets.

He made his way through his hometown in Northwest Germany and found that his family’s house had been used as Gestapo headquarters. As he drove, he was unaware that on May 8, the Germans had officially surrendered. As Manfred passed through German-held territory, some enemy soldiers asked if he would take them prisoner. He came across a wandering group of British prisoners of war. “Wait ‘til you see what they have done to the Jews,” one told him.

When Manfred arrived at the Terezin camp, prisoners crowded around the jeep. Weak and dispirited, they were too stunned to utter a word. He found an inmate who directed him to his parents—emaciated and indeed hardly recognizable. As his father recounted their experiences, which included a stay in the notorious Belsen camp, his father told him that Jews would never get revenge for what had been done to them. “We cannot be that cruel,” he said.

For a man like Ganz, World War II is neither a distant nor amusing memory. He doesn’t seem likely to be engaged by Tarantino’s comic-book violence. “To me, the reality was brutal enough,” he says. Ganz allows that Tarantino “has the right to express his fantasies.” But he would much prefer that the real story be told.

"I'm a Jew myself,” Tarantino’s longtime producing partner Lawrence Bender told me, when I asked about the film’s ultra-violent premise. “When Quentin gave me the script, I said, ‘I thank you as a fan, I thank you as a producer, I thank you as a member of the tribe.’ I said, ‘This is like a fantasy when you were growing up—what you'd want to do.’

"Quentin's not trying to de-humanize or make less of real people that did fight. This is purely out of his imagination. People that are leading figures in Jewish organizations—I haven't heard one negative from a powerful, opinion-leading person in the Jewish arena."

The Weinstein Company has shown Inglourious Basterds to the Anti-Defamation League, which endorsed the film as “an allegory.” I don’t know if it’s that but certainly the film is not one that can be taken seriously. Except that in the past couple of weeks, I’ve mentioned it to some people—a friend who’s not in the business and a very sophisticated Hollywood producer who hasn’t seen the movie yet. And they both asked the same question: Is it based on a true story?

Kim Masters covers the entertainment business for The Daily Beast. She is also the host of The Business, public radio's weekly program about the business of show business. She is also the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else.

Steven Spielberg Set To Bring Halo To The Big-Screen?

The legendary director may help bring the famed Halo franchise to the big-screen, designed for blockbuster summer success.

Original post at Popzara Blogs:


The on-off again relationship Hollywood has endured with Microsoft/Bungie's Halo franchise has become nearly as legendary as the games themselves, as previous attempts to bring the space saga to the big-screen has attracted some of the biggest and most influential names in cinematic history, only to have these efforts dashed at the last moment. But now it seems a new campaign (no pun intended) to transform the saga of Master Chief into movie royalty is on once more, this time handled by none other than Steven Spielberg himself.

The last attempt to bring Bungie's popular space saga to the big-screen, which was to include the likes of Academy Award-winning Peter Jackson and director Neil Blomkap (their work transformed into the upcoming District 9 film), with major special-effect work from the famed Weta Studio (Lord of the Rings). Jackson and Spielberg are close friends, with plans to co-direct the upcoming big-screen TinTin films. The Halo license itself is set for action in an upcoming collection of anime-inspired films, collectively titled Halo Legacy, due next year on DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Stuart Beattie (the recent GI-Joe: Rise of Cobra) would be handling screenwriting duties, based largely on Eric Nyland's prequel novel to HALO, THE FALL OF REACH. Beattie describes the potential film as "an amazing story about this child that no one cares about and who cares for no one else, who kind of ends up saving all of humanity."

Reports have the director looking for mega-project to spearhead a new distribution deal between Dreamworks and Walt Disney Pictures in the wake of losing the Transformers license to Paramount Pictures. Convincing Disney to bet on big-buget videogame adaptations shouldn't be a problem, as the studio is fully behind the upcoming Prince of Persia (potential) summer franchise that's set to launch next year.

Spielberg is a confirmed lifelong meta-geek, having declared his love for all-things enshrined in the universe, having declared his love for the videogame industry in both gushing praise and even a few additions (Medal of Honor, Boom Blox) of his own. He's also famous for brining extremely troubled films to fruition, such as the Peter Pan-sequel HOOK and Stanley Kubrick's vision for A.I. Time will tell if he can do the same for Master Chief, but given his massive success in helping revive the Transformers franchise, nothing seems impossible for the man behind E.T., Indiana Jones, Jaws, and Jurassic Park.

Thanks to IESB.com for the report!

9 Weirdest Sports In The World

Random Things
Petter F. Schmedling
Underwater Rugby

Imagine Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier slugging it out for a round in one of history’s greatest boxing matches and then when the bell rings sitting down for a game of chess. Preposterous? Ok, maybe. But we would have loved to see it and you wouldn’t have to make up the rules as you go because Chess Boxing is a real sport.

Sure you can make a case that most sports are downright odd when stripped to their essence (smack a ball with a stick; throw a ball through a hoop) but RadarOnline.com decided to find the weirdest sports in the world and came up with the following nine.

9. Underwater Rugby, Germany: This sport, which has little in common with the other rugby, is played in a pool between three and a half to five meters deep. Two teams, each with six players, attempt to put a slightly negatively buoyant ball into the goals at the bottom of the pool. Because of water resistance, the ball only can be thrown roughly two to three meters at a time. The game is exhausting and teammates are often replaced during a game.

8. Unicycle Hockey: This sport is has been played for nearly 25 years in America, Europe, and Asia, with actual leagues created in Great Britain and Germany. According to the rules, all players must have both feet on the pedals to engage the ball.

7. Bossaball, Belgium: This game is just like volleyball, except that players compete on giant trampolines. The name derives from bossa nova, the Brazilian musical style, probably because the referees play drums during the game.

6. Man vs. Horse Marathon, Wales: Rather than riding horses, people race against them on a 22-mile course laden with several natural obstacles. While the horses have the advantage in the open terrain, the human competitors benefit from the thick wooded areas, making it a contest.

5. Bog Snorkeling, Wales: This aesthetically unappealing sport, first held in 1985, involves competitors swimming in water-filled trenches cut through peat bog. The trenches are 55 meters long, and swimmers must complete the race without using conventional swimming techniques. (One offshoot of the sport is Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling, in which participants ride through the bog on specifically prepared bikes.)

4. Chess Boxing: First envisioned in 1992 by Dutch artist Enki Bilal, this sport alternates between eleven rounds of boxing and chess. It begins with a four minute round of speed chess, then with three minutes of boxing, and then repeats the cycle. Opponents either win by knockout or checkmate. (We would have loved to have seen Bobby Fischer versus Boris Spassky in this competition.)

3. Toe Wrestling, United Kingdom: The first World Toe Wrestling Competition began in 1976 at a pub in Derbyshire, and involved competitors locking toes and forcing each other's feet to the ground. In 1997 the organizers applied to have the game added to the Olympics, but were declined. However, it's a very popular sport, and top player Alan "Nasty" Nash even appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1997.

2. Wife Carrying, Finland: Originally invented as a joke centuries ago, this sport involves male competitors racing while carrying a female teammate through an obstacle course. The official track is 253 meters, and has two dry obstacles and a meter deep water obstacle. The sport is now played around the world, and has a category in the Guinness Book of World Records.

1. Cheese Rolling, England: Competitors chase a round of Double Gloucester cheese which is rolled down a hill. The first person to cross the finish line at the bottom wins the cheese. Although theoretically the goal is to catch the cheese itself, that hardly happens due to its head start and natural speed. Not surprisingly, there is lots of falling, tumbling, and grass stains

Lady Gaga, a hermaphrodite say rumours on internet, but manager denies it, says ridiculous

DT Thumb Lady GaGa

Lady Gaga's manager denies she is a hermaphrodite. Source: The Daily Telegraph

FOOTAGE of Lady Gaga dancing on stage has sparked rumours across celebrity gossip websites that she is a hermaphrodite.

Hollyscoop.com reports there's a rumor spreading like wildfire on the internet that Lady Gaga has both male and female reproductive parts and she's reportedly even addressed it in the past.

Gallery - Lady Gaga in action

"Its not something that I'm ashamed of, just isn't something that i go around telling everyone. Yes. I have both male and female genitalia, but i consider myself a female," she reportedly wrote in a blog back in December 2008.

"I think this is a great opportunity to make other multiple gendered people feel more comfortable with their bodies. I'm sexy, I'm hot."

Lady Gaga raised eyebrows during the Glastonbury festival in England when the footage of her was shot and has since hit YouTube.

But Lady Gaga's manager has told media outlets including ABCnews.com that the rumours of her being a hermaphrodite were "ridiculous."

8 Awesome Skateboard Images: No Fisheye Lens Needed


Magdalena Ecke YMCA - Encinitas, California
Magdalena Ecke YMCA - Encinitas, California
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Skate Street Skatepark, Ventura California
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