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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

World's Tallest Horse: 20.2 hands tall

This horse named Poe, could be declared the world's tallest horse. He is pictured with his owner Shereen Thompson, in Tupperville, Canada. Poe stands 20.2 hands tall at the shoulder and 10 feet tall with his head upright, and weighs 3,000 pounds

This horse named Poe could be declared the world's tallest horse. He is pictured with his owner Shereen Thompson, in Tupperville, Canada. Poe stands 20.2 hands tall at the shoulder and 10 feet tall with his head upright, and weighs 3,000 pounds


Lawyer Says Judge Masturbated at Hearing, Carried Out Vendetta When She Complained

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) - A district court judge appeared to be masturbating and used foul language during a divorce mediation, an attorney claims in Federal Court. The attorney claims Judge Kevin P. Moriarty's actions were so offensive even her estranged husband complained about it during their divorce trial.
Kimberly Ireland claims that while mediating, Judge Kevin P. Moriarty tried to discuss her underwear and her sex life, though neither was relevant to the divorce matter. And she claims that "Moriarty appeared to be masturbating during the mediation."
Ireland says that Moriarty's actions were so outrageous that her estranged husband Kevin testified about them at the divorce trial.
Ireland says she filed a complaint about Moriarty's behavior on Oct. 3, 2007 with the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications.
In response to her complaint, she says, Moriarty launched his own investigation into her private life and discussed her with the judge presiding over her divorce case and with the opposing counsel.
Ireland claims Moriarty used his power to influence her divorce proceeding, to start an ethical investigation of her and to have court personnel write false letters to the commission attacking her and claiming that Moriarty did nothing wrong.
On Nov. 15, 2007, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed an ethical complaint against Ireland, claiming she made false accusations about Moriarty, though it never conducted an investigation into her claims, according to her complaint.
Ireland said Attorney Edward Byrne, at Moriarty's request, filed a complaint with the commission against her on Dec. 12, 2007.
Moriarty served as an investigator for the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator for 15 years and serves on the Tenth Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission that appoints Johnson County District Court judges. The Johnson County Board of Commissioners is named as a defendant because it was put on notice of Moriarty's actions, but allegedly took no action.
Ireland says she suffered loss of income, reputation, inconvenience, insult, mental distress, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety and emotional pain and suffering as a result of Moriarty's actions. She seeks punitive damages.

Chinese dwarves set up their own village

A community of dwarves has set up its own village to escape discrimination from normal sized people.

The dwarves, happy in their village and apparently performing a musical number
The dwarves, happy in their village and apparently performing a musical number

Everyone in the mountain commune in Kunming, southern China, must be under 4ft 3ins tall - and they run their own police force and fire brigade from their 120 residents.

Now the group has turned itself into a tourist attraction by building mushroom houses and living and dressing like fairy tale characters.

'As small people we are used to being pushed around and exploited by big people. But here there aren't any big people and everything we do is for us,' said spokesman Fu Tien.

Toyota recalls 3.8 million vehicles

Potentially dangerous floor mats cited for company's largest U.S. recall

Toyota issues largest U.S. recall in its history
Sept. 29: Toyota is recalling 3.8 million vehicles because of a floor mat problem that could cause the accelerator to stick. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Nightly News

WASHINGTON - Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the United States, the company’s largest-ever U.S. recall, to address problems with a removable floor mat that could cause accelerators to get stuck and lead to a crash.

The recall will involve popular models such as the Toyota Camry, the top-selling passenger car in America, and the Toyota Prius, the best-selling gas-electric hybrid.

Toyota said it was still working with officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find a remedy to fix the problem and said owners could be notified about the recall as early as next week. Toyota spokesman Irv Miller said until the company finds a fix, owners should take out the removable floor mat on the driver’s side and not replace it.

Image: Toyota recalls cars
AP file
Top image, 2005 Toyota Prius. Bottom image, 2007 Toyota Camry. Both car models are on the recall list.

“A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop a vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death,” Miller said.

NHTSA said it had received reports of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck on the Toyota vehicles involved. It was unclear how many led to crashes but the inquiry was prompted by a highspeed crash in August in California of a Lexus barreling out of control. As the vehicle hit speeds exceeding 120 mph, family members made a frantic 911 call and said the accelerator was stuck and they couldn’t stop the vehicle.

“This is an urgent matter,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “For everyone’s sake, we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.”

The recall will affect 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350.

Toyota’s previously largest U.S. recall was about 900,000 vehicles in 2005 to fix a steering issue. The company declined to say how many complaints it had received about the accelerator issue.

The Japanese automaker warned owners that if they think their vehicle is accelerating out of control, they should check to see whether their floor mat is under the pedal. If a driver can’t remove the floor mat, Toyota advises drivers to step on the brake pedal with both feet until the vehicle slows and then try to put it into neutral and switch the ignition to accessory power.

For vehicles with engine start/stop buttons, Toyota said the engine can be shut off by holding the button down for three seconds.

In the August incident near San Diego, the fiery crash of a 2009 Lexus ES 350 killed California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, 45, and three others on State Route 125 in Santee. The runaway car was traveling at more than 120 mph when it hit a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames. One of the family members called police about a minute before the crash to report the vehicle had no brakes and the accelerator was stuck. The call ended with someone telling people in the car to hold on and pray, followed by a woman’s scream.

NHTSA investigators determined that a rubber all-weather floor mat found in the wreckage was slightly longer than the mat that belonged in the vehicle, something that could have snared or covered the accelerator pedal.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the final report had not yet been submitted in the California case.

“We don’t know what the actual cause was of that accident other than preliminary reports that have been published so it’s impossible for us to comment on that particular incident,” Hanson said.

In mid-September, Toyota ordered 1,400 Toyota and Lexus dealers nationwide to ensure that each new, used and loaner vehicles had the proper floor mats and that the mats were properly secured.

In September 2007, Toyota recalled an accessory all-weather floor mat sold for use in some 2007 and 2008 model year Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles because of similar problems.

For more information, consumers can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s hotline at (888) 327-4236, Toyota at (800) 331-4331 or Lexus at (800) 255-3987.

Ted Nugent Threatens to Kill Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton During Vicious Onstage Rant

By Elizabeth Goodman:

Renegade right-winger Ted Nugent recently went on a vicious onstage rant in which he threatened the lives of Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Decked out in full-on camouflage hunting gear, Nugent wielded two machine guns while raging, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued. “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.” Nugent summed up his eloquent speech by screaming “freedom!”

This isn’t the first time Nugent has been caught spewing hatred. Last January, the guitarist caused a scandal for Republican Texas governor Rick Perry when he wore a Confederate flag shirt and insulted immigrants at Perry’s inauguration event. In July, Nugent was quoted in a Wall Street Journal story blaming “stoned, dirty, stinky hippies” for “rising rates of divorce, high school drop-outs, drug use, abortion, sexual diseases and crime, not to mention the exponential expansion of government and taxes.”

Meet the sexual healer who has slept with 1,500 men

THIS woman has had sex with more than a thousand men - and most of them are the husbands or boyfriends of other women.

Mare Simone, 54, calls herself a "sex surrogate" and has devoted her working life to helping men, women and couples overcome problems in the bedroom.

As a qualified sex therapist, she has given lessons in love to more than 10,000 clients over the past 23 years.

And while she estimates she has had penetrative sex with 1,500 of them, she insists there is nothing illegal about what she does.

Mare says: "I earn my living by sleeping with other women's husbands or boyfriends. But I am in no way a prostitute as sex surrogacy is legal, as long as it is done in a therapeutic and healing atmosphere.

"People are paying for counselling and to cure their problems - not sex.

"I am helping improve and change the sex lives of thousands of men, which means I am also helping improve the sex lives of their wives and girlfriends.

"Some women become baby surrogates because they want to help women who can't have children. In the same way, I feel drawn to helping others have an intimate sex life.

"My job is so fulfilling and enjoyable. Seeing my customers leave with a new-found sexual confidence is a wonderful sight."

Single Mare, from Chelsea, West London, holds around five sessions A DAY and sees people from all walks of life. She says: "My clients are all ages, shapes, sizes and professions. They have either been recommended to see me by a sex therapist or former client or they seek me out through sexual surrogate organisations.

"The men generally need help with erection and premature ejaculation problems or have been sent by their wives because they weren't pleasing them in bed. Before they see me, they all have an STD test, and must always use a condom when seeing me.

"I also have some women come to me. Their problems are usually that they can't orgasm or have had bad lovers. I show them how to pleasure themselves and make them love their bodies.

"Some visit me for a few sessions, while others have around 12, depending on the extent of their problems.

"All of my sessions start in the same way. We start by chatting while I caress their hands to make them feel relaxed and confident with me.

"During the next few sessions I move to giving them back and shoulder massages, so the client relaxes further while talking about their problems.

"Following that, we do a mirror exercise. This is where the client and I will both take off our clothes and look at our bodies in the mirror.

"Usually, they feel very timid about their bodies and find it difficult to look at themselves. But when they realise I am not judging them, they begin to open up and feel confident.

"At that stage I move on to front body massages. I take over 'down below', showing them how they should be touching themselves.

"Finally, it's time to put everything into practice. This is the stage of lovemaking, so they can learn how to control themselves and solve their sexual problems.

"My job is basically to make people realise their problems are not just physical. They are in the mind and have a lot to do with self-confidence."

Mare has not always been so sexually open. At the age of 19, she was raped by a male friend after accepting a late-night lift home from a party.

Too afraid to report the attack, she lost her confidence in men and sex. When she married her first husband, Victor, ten years later, she still could not bear to be touched intimately.

She recalls: "My fear of sex put a huge strain on my marriage and I knew deep down it was due to the rape.

"Overnight I went from being outgoing to being introverted. When I did date, I found making love scary and traumatic.

"When I married Victor, our sex life was never great and after four years we divorced but we have remained friends.

"It was then that a friend recommended I start reading about tantric sex and sexual surrogacy.

"Learning about this unknown world of sexual healing made me feel that there was hope for me to get my sexual confidence back."

Mare decided to take a four-day course in sex therapy, where she learnt about tantric sex, an ancient Hindu practice that concentrates on a slower form of sex. "It was fascinating and during the course I also realised, for the first time, that the rape I had endured a decade before was not my fault. I could enjoy sex without feeling dirty, ashamed or guilty."

Now, Mare spends most of her time working in the US, where she is inundated with clients.

She says: "I see about four or five people a day and charge around £100 for a session.

"Sometimes I will have sex with a husband in front of his wife, to show them both how to be more sensitive lovers. Often, couples find just talking openly to a stranger about the problems in their love life helps in the bedroom."

Although she is proud of her job, she still finds it difficult to tell friends and family about her work. She also does not discuss it with any potential boyfriends.

She says: "I usually tell them I am a yoga teacher, until I trust them enough. Some can't cope with it and run a mile, while others simply find it fascinating and are impressed.

"A few trusted friends know what I do but my family would be horrified to hear about my daily life.

"As part of my work, I regularly do sexual surrogacy tours, travelling the world, helping people with their most intimate problems.

"The last time I was in London I saw 30 clients, some who had booked me months in advance.

"It's amazing how many people in the UK desperately want help with their sex lives, but have no idea where to turn.

"There are many sex surrogates in the US but they are extremely rare in the UK.

"People have to understand that intimate sex sometimes has to be learned. It does not come naturally to some people.

"The stress of modern life can cause problems and it's my job to fix that.

"Since I started surrogacy work, I have seen more than 10,000 clients and estimate that I have had penetrative sex with around 1,500 men. I continue to see clients weekly.

"Witnessing the men and women I help make huge improvements and feel confident about their bodies is wonderful.

"In the 20 years I have been doing this job, I have never felt miserable about going to work. I love what I do and have no plans to retire within the next ten years.

"I am a sexual healer and so proud and happy that I found my dream job."

Diablo Cody Writes Playboy Movie

quick takeDiablo Cody Is Working With Hugh Hefner To Write Playboy Biopic.

Tweet for us and get Hugh’s favorite movie of the year: Away We Go (starring John Krasinski from The Office).(Hef pickup line: “Does that kitty drink powdered milk?”)I’ve fiddled with various ways to introduce this story for about 40 minutes now, but the long and short of it is that Hugh Hefner recently said on Twitter that he was meeting with Diablo Cody about the Playboy/Hugh Hefner biopic movie:“Meeting with Diablo Cody to talk about the Brian Grazer Playboy film today.”Aaand that’s pretty much all we know. At one point, Brett Ratner was set to direct this project, but with Youngblood (the comic book), Beverly Hills Cop 4, and a big cheesy pile of nachos bellgrande currently on his plate, that’s probably not going to happen. Diablo Cody is an avid Twitterer herself, and though she’s said plenty about buying Hanes underwear and reactions to ‘J-Bod’, she says nothing of a Playboy movie. So does this mean Diablo Cody is going to write the script for the Playboy movie? Maybe. Or maybe Hef just wanted her to read it. Or maybe he needed some zingers about Brian Grazer’s hair. But whatever they discussed, I’m sure the room smelled like Thai food. [via Cinematical]

Find A Song Title Just by Humming The Lyrics

Have you ever found yourself having one of those mind-numbing moments when you’ve fallen in love with a new song that played on the radio a few times, but you can’t remember the title or the lyrics?

Here at MakeUseOf, we’ve focused on a number of websites and tools that you can use to find a song by its lyrics, such as Brad’s article on the top 5 sites to find song lyrics online or David’s article on how to find song titles with just a few lyrics you do know. Today, I’d like to cover a very new solution that’s available for the most common scenerio – when you don’t know the title of the song or any of the lyrics, but you can hum or whistle the song just fine!

Voice Recognition Technology Saves The Day

There are a number of cutting edge computer technologies that have always fascinated me, mostly because they represent areas where computers are finally entering into the realm of artificial intelligence. Two of those include image recognition and voice recognition.

While I’ve not followed the state of the art of each field, I’ve always been under the impression that both areas of computer intelligence have a very long way to go. However, what would you say if I told you that I’ve discovered a computer program, an online application to be exact, that you could sing, hum or whistle a tune to and it could accurately guess the title of the song. Images of science fiction movies, where starship crew members seek the help of the ship’s AI computer system come to mind. Well, it’s no longer science fiction – this technology is now a reality at Modomi.

find a song by its lyrics

Midomi itself isn’t exactly a very special or unique website. Just like every other website where you can search for and purchase music online, Midomi lets you research music, bands and more. You can watch music videos, listen to music clips or even join the Midomi fan club for any particular music group. However, the true heart of Midomi becomes apparent (and the site absolutely comes alive) when you start becoming “fans” of particular groups. As you enter fan pages, you’ll become aware of a Facebook-like social network of music lovers. As I was browsing through this site, I noticed something rather unique compared to most other music websites. Midomi once again takes advantage of interactive audio by allowing fans to make and upload their own recordings of the music that they’re fans of.

find a song by its lyrics

As a fan, you can listen to any of these uploaded recordings. I joined the Green Day fan club and immediately saw user dude34bja’s recording of When I Come Around at the top as the most listened to recording. I clicked on it and was blown away by her fantastic acoustic rendition of the song. You too can record your own version of any of your favorite songs if you click on the “Studio” menu option at the top of the Midomi page.

find a song by its lyrics

Record your songs, and if your good enough you’ll very likely develop your own fan base right within the Midomi online community. Get enough votes and you actually appear as a “Midomi star.” In addition to recording music, the Midomi site is just completely integrated with audio at every turn. You can even upload audio comments at the site instead of typing them.

Now, all of this is very cool – but what about the whole reason we came to the site? That little box at the top of the first page that reads, “Click and Sing or Hum.” Does it really work? I decided to test the accuracy of this online application by humming Losing My Religion, by R.E.M. After clicking the text box, the recording began.

how can i find a song with partial lyrics

I hummed the first 16 seconds or so of part of the song – no words whatsoever – just straight humming. I was absolutely convinced there was no way that this application would be able to recognize the song without a single line of lyrics. When I was done I clicked on “Click to Stop” and waited for the results. This is what came up.

how can i find a song using partial lyrics

The top “guess” was a perfect match. Unbelievable. I figured it was a fluke – a completely lucky guess, so decided to try it again with a more difficult tune that wasn’t so modern – I went back and hummed the first 15 seconds of “Over the Rainbow,” sung by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz. I chose this song because there is absolutely no way I can hum it perfectly in tune. After 15 seconds of forcing the recorder to suffer through my cracking and screeching as I attempted to hum some of the tune, I clicked stop and grinned. No way it’s going to know what that horrid noise was. The following were the results.

how can i find a song with partial lyrics

I have to say, if anything convinced me – this did. As far as I can tell, you only need to know the general tune of a song – no title and no lyrics required. This amazing little Midomi web app will remind you of the title after just a few seconds of humming. Even better – you can download the app to your iPhone and carry around this little song-title-reminder app with you everywhere. Hard to believe? Visit the site and give it a shot – and let us know in the comments section below whether it blew you away. I know it did for me. Have fun!

Jessica Alba becomes a 'Little Focker'

By Steven Zeitchik and Borys Kit


Jessica Alba is becoming a Focker.

The actress is in negotiations to join the Ben Stiller-Robert DeNiro comedy "Little Fockers." She'd play the role of an attractive pharmaceutical rep whose looks wreak havoc on male characters in the story.

Paul Weitz is directing the third installment in the Universal and Tribeca Productions franchise. Universal is banking heavily on "Fockers," one of the studio's few go-to franchises and an important one given its shaky summer. Production is set to begin in the next few months, with a 2010 release date more than likely.

The picture is expect to pick up where 2004's "Meet the Fockers" left off, with Stiller's Gaylord Focker and Teri Polo's Pamela Byrnes having a child (or children -- reports abound that they could be having twins). John Hamburg penned the latest version of the script.

Even if Alba's role isn't huge -- and with so many other big actors (Stiller, DeNiro, Wilson) already set, it may not be -- the move is a shrewd bit of casting for Universal. The franchise needs to rope in young men, and with the movie's promise of babies and family -- not always said demo's main interest -- it could use a Maxim-esque presence.

The WME-repped Alba, incidentally, is set to star in the Robert Rodriguez thriller "Machete" for Sony as well as Garry Marshall's romantic comedy "Valentine's Day" for New Line. Both are also movies that could -- and need to -- bring in the boys. That's what she does. The focker.

How Can a Pregnant Woman Get Pregnant Again?

pregnant pregnancy baby child expecting birth
Ian Hooton / Corbis

An Indonesian woman gave birth to a 19-lb. 2-oz. baby behemoth on Sept. 24, but that was only the second weirdest pregnancy tale of the month. The strangest belongs to Julia Grovenburg, a 31-year-old Arkansas woman who has a double pregnancy. No, not twins — Grovenburg became pregnant twice, two weeks apart. Isn't that supposed to be impossible?

Almost. There have been only 10 recorded cases of the phenomenon, dubbed superfetation. In Grovenburg's case, she became pregnant first with a girl (whom she has decided to name Jillian) and then two weeks later with a boy (Hudson). The babies have separate due dates — Jillian on Dec. 24, Hudson on Jan. 10. (See pictures of pregnant-belly art.)

Dr. Robert Atlas, chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Baltimore's Mercy Hospital, says he has never encountered a case of superfetation during practice. He says such pregnancies occur when a woman continues ovulating after becoming pregnant and when that second, fertilized egg is able to implant itself in the lining of the womb — two things that wouldn't happen in a normal pregnancy. Typically, hormonal changes prevent further ovulation and thicken the lining of the uterus to preclude a second embryo from attaching. Why didn't that happen with Grovenburg? No one's really sure. (See how to prevent illness at any age.)

Despite the rarity of Grovenburg's case, Atlas tells TIME the phenomenon shouldn't be cause for concern. Grovenburg's babies should behave much as twins do; in all likelihood, the second baby will be born slightly premature when Julia first goes into labor. Since the difference between the babies is only two weeks, the second baby will be nearly at full term anyway. Indeed, the last known case of superfetation had a happy ending. In 2007, a British woman gave birth to a boy and girl who were conceived three weeks apart, with no undue complications.

Woody Harrelson Is A Wanted Man Once Again

With three wildly varied new films, Woody Harrelson shows he's at home with his range.

By Jenelle Riley

September 29, 2009

Woody Harrelson is living proof you should never underestimate the dumb guy. If you had to pick one person from the cast of the seminal TV comedy "Cheers" who would go on to becoming a leading man on film, earn an Oscar nomination, and headline blockbusters, it probably wouldn't have been the dopey assistant bartender Harrelson played for eight seasons. Blessed with brilliant comic timing and a deadpan delivery, the actor was so good on the show, it's easy to understand why people had difficulty seeing him as anything else. It didn't help that his character was named Woody Boyd and hailed from the same Indiana city where Harrelson attended college, further blurring the lines of where Woody the character ended and Woody the actor began.

But when the series chose to end its run in 1993, Harrelson proved he was no dummy, taking interesting roles that paired him with some of the greatest directors in film. He made a formidable romantic leading man, competing with Robert Redford for Demi Moore in "Indecent Proposal." He terrorized audiences and courted controversy as serial killer Mickey Knox in Oliver Stone's über-violent "Natural Born Killers." And he proved the adage that there are no small parts, taking on scene-stealing supporting roles in films like "Wag the Dog." Yet when his success reached a professional pinnacle with an Oscar nomination for best actor for his role in Milos Forman's biopic "The People vs. Larry Flynt," Harrelson made his most surprising move of all: He walked away.

Harrelson has made not just a career but a lifestyle out of doing things his way: He forsakes Hollywood to live in Maui, Hawaii, with his wife, Laura (his former assistant), and their three children. He is well-known for his activism but not just for paying lip service: He was arrested in 1996 after planting four hemp seeds to show the inanity of a state law in Kentucky that did not distinguish between marijuana and hemp. He penned an article for the U.K. paper The Guardian in 2002 titled "I'm an American Tired of American Lies," criticizing the Iraq war.

Though he did some small roles in film and appeared on stage, it wasn't until 2002 that Harrelson decided to return full-time to acting. "It was almost like starting at ground zero," he admits. "I mean, I wasn't a complete unknown, but it was a little challenging." He started with small roles in films like "After the Sunset" and "North Country" and continued to take on offbeat projects: He was literally animated in Richard Linklater's rotoscoped sci-fi mind trip "A Scanner Darkly." Soon, Harrelson was more in demand than ever, appearing opposite Will Ferrell in "Semi-Pro" and turning in a small but commanding performance in the Coen brothers' Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men."

If any further proof is required Harrelson can reach across all genres, one need only look at the multiplexes in the next couple of months. This week, Harrelson headlines the horror comedy "Zombieland," playing a man of few words who wants nothing but survival and a good Twinkie. Gory, hilarious, and completely original, the "zom-com" comes from first-time film director Ruben Fleischer, who knew Harrelson was the man for the job. "Woody was the reason the studio agreed to make the movie," Fleischer says. "Once he got on board, it became real." And though he makes it look easy, Harrelson took the job deadly seriously. "What he brought to the screen was not just what was on the page," Fleischer continues. "He was like, 'If I'm going to do this, I'm going to go big and make a larger-than-life, classic movie character.' He worked with the costume designer to create the wardrobe; the cowboy hat and boots were his idea. He even knew exactly which gun he wanted; it's the one Steve McQueen used in 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.' He had it all figured out."

Harrelson will try to save the world again with another apocalyptic action film due out Nov. 13. In "2012," he plays a man who prophesies the end of the world. That same weekend will see the release of another Harrelson film, "The Messenger," a small indie drama whose entire budget was probably what "2012" spent in one day on craft services. Directed by Oren Moverman, the film stars Harrelson and Ben Foster as Army soldiers working in the Casualty Notification Office, tasked with informing families whose loved ones have been killed in battle. Harrelson is raw and real as a recovering alcoholic—a complete 180 from his other recent roles, as he adeptly moves from busting heads to breaking hearts.

Back Stage: Ruben says he sort of had to convince you to take the role in "Zombieland." Why were you hesitant?

Woody Harrelson: It was for a couple reasons. Even before reading it, I remember talking to my agent. He kept calling me, saying, "Have you read it yet?" I was like, "Zombies? Has it come to this, really?" But then I read it, and it was hysterical. Paul [Wernick] and Rhett [Reese], the writers, had a long time to work on it, and they kept making it better and better. I thought it was fantastic, and when I met Ruben, I really liked him. But he was also a first-timer. So I was kind of taking baby steps. Who knew he would be able to knock it out of the park like this?

Back Stage: He said you had a very specific vision for the character, right from the beginning.

Harrelson: Definitely. That doesn't always happen, but in this particular instance, I knew exactly what I wanted. I've never spent so much time on wardrobe. It was kind of an incessant process, one fitting after another, and different ideas.

Back Stage: Shortly after battling the undead, you'll be seen in the indie drama "The Messenger." Do you approach your roles the same way, whether they're dramatic or humorous?

Harrelson: It actually is the same process. You would look at "The Messenger" and think I would have a different approach, but it's really about whatever it takes to get inside the character's head.

Back Stage: What's been your most difficult role to date?

Harrelson: In some ways, I felt like Capt. Tony Stone in "The Messenger" was the most difficult, because I was shooting another movie. I almost couldn't do it because I had "Bunraku" at exactly the same time. It was a delicate dance to get one thing pushed a week and one pulled back a week and frontloading my stuff on "Bunraku" so I could get a little gap of three weeks to shoot "The Messenger" and then go back and shoot the remainder of "Bunraku." And I wanted to do the film right.

Back Stage: What do you mean by that?

Harrelson: My main criteria for "The Messenger" was, when a guy from the Army goes to see this, does it appear to him that I'm legitimate? That was something I was nervous about. But I was in good hands with Oren and Ben and the producers. They were so fully immersed in the process, there was no other way but for me to dive in and immerse myself with them. We started with a trip to Walter Reed hospital. That was one of the most powerful experiences I ever had. My heart was wide open from that.

Back Stage: You're well-known for being vocally anti-war. Was it hard for you to play a character with such a different belief system?

Harrelson: Well, I'd like to frame it in a different way from "anti-war"; call it "pro-peace." I didn't really have the kind of empathy for what the soldier was going through, just by virtue of the fact that I didn't really know anything about it. Once I met with the soldiers, I can tell you it really flipped the script for me. I'm still pretty adamant that both of these wars going on now are oil wars, which Bush and company felt were important to securing Middle East oil. That notwithstanding, I feel I am against the war but fully supportive of the warrior. I just want to keep an open heart and mind towards them.

Back Stage: You were pursued for both of these films. Do you ever have to audition still?

Harrelson: Not so much. I haven't in a long time. The last time I remember specifically was with Jack Nicholson for Jim Brooks in "As Good as It Gets."

Back Stage: For the Greg Kinnear role? You would have been great!

Harrelson: Yeah, I thought so, too. [Laughs.] But Greg was great, and you can't really argue with Jim's casting. I know there were a lot of other guys who wanted to play it as well, so I don't feel so bad. I think I could have done a better job with my audition; I was just so daunted by the fact I was auditioning with Jack.

Back Stage: Do you usually audition well?

Harrelson: I auditioned a lot early in my career, and I did okay. One that was particularly bad; you know how it is when you're young and hungry, you do foolish things. In this particular case, I went on an audition for a daytime soap, which, thank God, I didn't get. But I really fucked it up; I was terrible. I left and was so bummed about it that I went back into the room. The receptionist told me not to, but I overrode her and walked in the door, and the next actor was already in there, and the casting person looks up at me in surprise, and I said, "Listen, if I can get another chance, I'm sure I can pull this off!" It was really bad and embarrassing. That's one I'd like to forget. But hey, what if I hadn't come back in and he'd cast me? Maybe I did the right thing by making a fool of myself. That's the way you have to look at that.

Back Stage: Starting out, was your plan to do television, or did you want to be a stage actor?

Harrelson: I was just looking for work. A buddy of mine, Clint Allen, was going to audition for Juilliard, and he said, "If I get accepted, will you move to New York with me?" I said sure, thinking the odds were astronomical. My whole plan was just to get into some regional theater and summer stock and try to slowly work my way east and eventually get to New York. But sure enough, he got accepted, and I went to New York with him.

Back Stage: You've said things did not go well at first in New York.

Harrelson: No. But just as I was about to leave, I got an understudy role in "Biloxi Blues." While I was working on that, I got the part in this Goldie Hawn football movie, "Wildcats." While I was working on that, they fired the guy I was understudying and kept calling, asking when I was going to be back. I kept saying, "I'll be right back and ready to go on stage!" I was 23 and was going to get to be on Broadway, which was my dream!

Back Stage: What happened?

Harrelson: This buddy of mine tells me about how they're casting a part in this show, and that the character's name is Woody and he's from Indiana, which is where I had gone to college. I was like, "I really don't want to do television." I wanted to stay with this theater thing, and maybe eventually I'll get to do movies. Well, I went in, and it's obvious what happened. But it's a great lesson about auditioning; since I really didn't care, I was set. I was going to do Broadway. There was no nervousness at all, which is the thing that kills you.

Back Stage: Even though "Cheers" brought you a lot of success, did you ever worry about getting typecast?

Harrelson: Well, sure. I was on the show six years before I got a chance to do something else, which was "Doc Hollywood." Michael Caton-Jones cast me, at Michael J. Fox's behest, I'm sure. He made me audition, but I was ready for that audition. I wanted to get out from under being one character, albeit a great one.

Back Stage: Was it that you couldn't get the auditions or people refused to see you as anything but Woody Boyd?

Harrelson: Both. I was getting sent for some auditions—not that much—and I wasn't getting the parts. After six years you really start to wonder, "Is this going to be it?" Then I got "Doc Hollywood," and the following summer—I could only do a part during the break—I got "White Men Can't Jump." After that, I got "Indecent Proposal."

Back Stage: "Indecent Proposal" was a departure for you. Did you have to fight for the role?

Harrelson: Actually, no. By that point, people wanted me. In fact, I was kind of supposed to do another movie with Johnny Depp that I pulled out of and got into a bunch of trouble. I had to pay like $400,000 to pull out at the last minute. I can't remember what it was called—

Back Stage: Was it "Benny & Joon"?

Harrelson: That's it. And it was an interesting part.

Back Stage: How did you know you were making the right choice?

Harrelson: I'll be honest; I can't say I knew it. I can just say the people who were minding me were pretty certain.

Back Stage: Another turning point was "The People vs. Larry Flynt," for which you received a 1997 Oscar nomination. What was that experience like?

Harrelson: I don't think I've ever worked that hard in my life. Not just acting in it but every aspect, from helping the writing to improvising scenes. For one scene, Milos got me to work with the editor. It was a scene where I talk about violence versus sexuality, how you're allowed to show graphic violence but not nudity. He let me write the scene itself and work on the editing. I was even calling and talking to the agents for some of the pictures in the background, literally negotiating on the phone with agents.

Back Stage: Yet after that, you did the unthinkable and stepped away from the business.

Harrelson: I took five years off. I was planning on taking two or three; I'd had a couple kids at that point, and I wanted to just hang with them. And a lot of it had to do with the disappointment of "Larry Flynt," particularly with the campaign Gloria Steinem and whoever was backing her launched.

Back Stage: You felt her protests led to the film's failure?

Harrelson: Before it came out, the numbers were off the charts in terms of per-theater average. Then she came out, and her whole campaign was really effective. She went city to city telling people not to see that. And it tanked. I can't tell you how many guys came up to me and said, "My wife just won't let me see it." It was discouraging, and I'd done so many movies in a row, I was just kind of burned out. I wasn't enjoying it. If you're not enjoying this job, there's something seriously wrong.

Back Stage: What brought you back?

Harrelson: Good question. I love the job; I just needed some time off. My hiatus was from 1997 to 2002, roughly; it was enough time off. Since I came back, I've just been loving it.

Back Stage: You mentioned being hesitant about first-time directors, yet things worked out well with Ruben and Oren, wouldn't you say?

Harrelson: Absolutely. Oren—who knew he would be that great and decisive about the look? He did a clever thing: We would never meet the actors who play the family in the notification scenes before shooting. We never did any rehearsing. Everything that happened was done right in the moment and captured in the moment; he shot it all on a Steadicam. We didn't know where we were going to move when we walked into the house. We didn't even know if they were going to let us in the house. I thought that was clever.

Back Stage: Are still interested in returning to the stage?

Harrelson: Absolutely. I get back every chance I get.

Back Stage: Maybe you can finally do "Biloxi Blues." Or—can I make a suggestion?

Harrelson: Let's hear it.

Back Stage: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Harrelson: No way. I did it in college; I played Brick. I remember seeing friends of mine sleeping in their seats. [Laughs.] A couple years ago, I did a production of "Night of the Iguana" in London, and I wasn't really happy with that. After that I said, "I'm never doing another Tennessee Williams; I'm not going to do a Eugene O'Neill. I'm not going to do some play where, at the end of it, if you do your job right, the audience member feels like they've been punched in the stomach." Next time I do theater, I'm just going to do comedy. I want people laughing; that's it.

– Recent film roles include "Management," "Seven Pounds," and "Battle in Seattle"
– Made his Broadway debut in Roundabout's 2000 revival of "The Rainmaker"; other stage roles include Sam Shepard's "The Late Henry Moss" and "On an Average Day" opposite Kyle MacLachlan
– Earned an Emmy nomination for reprising the role of Woody Boyd on "Frasier"; also appeared on seven episodes of "Will & Grace" in 2001 as Grace's boyfriend Nathan

Adolf Hitler alive: weird conspiracy theories

The discovery that the skull believed to be Adolf Hitler's was actually a woman's has reignited conspiracy theories.

Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler alive and well: the weirdest conspiracy theories
Adolf Hitler: alive and well and living on the Moon? Photo: BRITISH PATHE

Rumours of Hitler’s survival have been widespread for years, with some even claiming he is alive today.

While that is unlikely – the Nazi leader would celebrate his 121st birthday in April – the possibility that he made it out of the Berlin bunker has been seriously put forward on several occasions. Here are four of the strangest theories.

Hitler fled on a 'ghost convoy' to Argentina
Several prominent Nazis – including 'architect of the Holocaust' Adolf Eichmann and Dr Josef Mengele, the 'Angel of Death' – certainly did flee to Argentina.

And the arrival of two U-Boats in the South American country in the weeks after the war led to more speculation that Hitler joined his former underlings there. But Heinz Schäffer, one of the officers on the U-Boats, has alwas strenuously denied being part of a 'ghost convoy'.

The two U-Boats, U-530 and U-977, surrendered at Mar del Plata in Argentina in July and August 1945 respectively.

Hitler 'fled to Antarctica in a U-Boat'
Among the theories of Hitler's whereabouts after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945 was that he was smuggled out of Germany and onto a U-Boat.

From there, the story goes, the Nazi leader was taken to a secret military base in Antarctic. In the late 1950s British and American forces found the base and destroyed it with atomic weapons.

The theory falls down on three major points. One, there was never a German military presence in Antarctica, despite a pre-war mission there to see whether a whaling base would be feasible.

Two, while the two U-Boats mentioned above did arrive in Argentina after the war, they could not possibly have made it to Antarctica. The sea ice in the winter blocks all access to the land where any base would have been.

Three, while atomic bombs were detonated in the southern hemisphere in 1958, they were atmospheric tests, hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth. All three took place between 1400 and 2150 miles north of Antarctica.

Using secret rocket technology, Hitler fled to a Nazi base on the moon
The point when Hitler conspiracy theories lose touch with reality altogether. The Nazis' development late in the war of high-technology weapons – including the V2, an early ballistic missile, and the Me 262 jet fighter – inspired some to believe that Germany had secretly won the space race.

It was also suggested that the Nazis had made contact with UFOs and that they had made it to the Moon as early as 1942. Furthermore, Russian and American astronauts actually made it there in the 1950s, and stayed at a Nazi lunar base.

For added measure, it is claimed that the Moon is perfectly habitable for humans, but that NASA claims it is barren and airless in order to stop Third World countries visiting it.

Hitler is alive and well and staying in San Diego
Well, not really. This one is a joke – but there is a structure, visible on Google Maps, that might make you think otherwise. A barracks building in the US Navy base in San Diego's Coronado island, known as the 'Seal's Lair', is very definitely in the shape of a swastika.

In 2007, the US Navy said it was going to redesign the 1960s-built edifice, spending around $600,000 (£375,000) to make it less master-racy. They admitted they noticed the shape when it was built, but didn't think anyone would spot it from the ground.

Michael Jordan and Baseball: Fulfilling A Fathers Dream

Michael Jordan in MiLB Action

September 29, 2009 – Jason DelSignore

Editor’s note: Yes, that is current Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona. He was Jordan’s baseball manager with the Barons!

Michael Jordan’s recent induction into the NBA Hall of Fame was a no-brainer. There is no other basketball player on the face of the earth who deserves it more, with the exception of maybe Bill Russell, with all due respect. The idea that Jordan is anything but the greatest is as ridiculous as saying Manny Ramirez is a two-time NBA all-star. Of course, we do know that Ramirez never played professional basketball on any level, but the same cannot be said for Jordan, who played minor league baseball in the mid-90’s after the first of his three eventual basketball retirements.

Jordan’s story is sad and noble, but is it fair that he was able to walk into a baseball roster spot because he was a great…basketball player?

Let’s start with the sad part of the story. In July 1993, when Jordan was at the height of a tremendous career wave, the story broke that his father was murdered. The late James R. Jordan was gunned down as he slept in his car at a rest stop.

According to Jerry Reinsdorf, majority owner of the Chicago White Sox & the Chicago Bulls, said of Jordan- “The death of his father and all of the media attention and people saying it was because of his gambling, it had got to him. He was burned out.”

Jordan himself has said that it was his father’s dream to see him play baseball. That might be why he was set to play a few games for the Kannapolis Intimidators, a Class A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox, before his father’s passing.

“He said he wants to go to Kannapolis and just play a couple of games. He had taken batting practice a couple of years before,” said Reinsdorf. “Shortly thereafter, he found out his father was dead and that took care of the Kannapolis thing.”

It’s understandable that Jordan would be sick and tired of the media attention, and how ultimately this would affect his play on the court. It’s a noble and precious idea to take the words of a father who taught him so much, knowing that you’ll never be able to see or talk to him again. The only thing Jordan had was the dream of a father that his son play major league baseball.

And that’s what he set out to do. Jordan shocked the world by retiring from basketball at the age of 30.

In March 1994, he signed a contract to play professional baseball for the Birmingham Barons, a Class AA affiliate of the White Sox. The media coverage didn’t cease, nor did the idea that a publicity stunt was in the works. Even White Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak had his doubts. “We don’t need this kind of publicity and what kind of gimmick is this?” remembers Reinsdorf of Hriniaks comments.

As it turns out Jordan was one of the hardest working guys on the field in the spring of that year. Of course trying to quell the doubts of many, and learning in a short time what the guys next to him have been learning since the early days of little league, will challenge anyone to work harder than most.

At the end of that baseball year stood Michael Jordan, an outfielder with a .202 batting average, 114 strikeouts in 436 at bats, three home runs, 51 RBI’s, and 30 stolen bases in 127 games. Let’s be honest, these numbers aren’t even good enough to keep a no-name orphan with a prosthetic leg and one blind eye in the game of baseball. They’d tell him maybe he should start looking for another line of work. That maybe this baseball thing isn’t going to work out after all. For a young player, the scouts would say this kid’s got potential. For a 31 year old Michael Jordan with mediocre skills, it’s too late for potential. The greatness he showed on the basketball court didn’t translate over to the diamond. He showed good instincts on the fastball, but couldn’t hit a curve with a 2×4.

There have never been many two-sport superstars in the professional ring. Bo Jackson was one, and Deion Sanders was another, playing both baseball and football. Both men displayed incredible skills to be able to achieve that goal. Is it fair that someone who has the want and desire to enter a professional sports setting, but has never demonstrated the ability to be able to perform such tasks, be allowed to take a spot away from those that do because he was great in another arena? Some may say yes, but there’s a 9-5er out there somewhere that might disagree.

If his name starts with Michael and ends with Jordan, then I guess that question is null and void.

In the end, Jordan retired from baseball in March 1995 and went back to the Chicago Bulls. For one year the sports writers had a story to write about, the White Sox organization took in unexpected publicity and profits, and Jordan got to partially fulfill his fathers dream of playing professional baseball, even if it wasn’t in a major league setting.

The quotes from Jerry Reinsdorf were taken from Scott Merkin’s piece “Jordan’s effort a marvel 15 years later on

Rating the Carriers: Customer Service Showdown

Phones, coverage, and apps don’t matter if you can’t keep the customer happy. Find out how the carriers stack up.


T-Mobile wins with in-store assistance that (despite a rush-hour wait of 45 minutes) answered all our questions and the best web support in the bunch, thanks to speedy helpful tech support and easy online email setup for BlackBerry phones.

Our experience with Sprint in-store was helpful too. Though in-store employees couldn't answer all our questions, they were organized and considerate each step of the way and we appreciated how organized each store was, with LCD screens representing our queue positions. Also, one store employee helped us before it was even our turn.

Verizon Wireless offered solid in-store support, but employees weren't as friendly as those in other stores. It has a robust online database with answers to many questions, including interactive phone guides, but does not offer online chat support. Verizon also offered quick and accurate phone support.

AT&T lands last in our tests. Our in-store experience left us with one question out of three unanswered and we were shocked that one representative couldn't help get our email up and running (though another rep at a different store was successful). Our trial of AT&T's web support turned up similar results when one online associate told us they don't support Slacker software, and one of our phone support calls lasted 45 minutes without resolving the last of our issues.

Overall our showdown shows that given the variance in knowledge from employee to employee, you may want to take some comments made by reps with a grain of salt, or, at least, make a habit of seeking out a second opinion. Still, T-Mobile takes the kitty with the best web and phone support of the big four. AT&T, on the other hand, might have some work to do in prepping for next year.