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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Performers Dance on the Face of a Skyscraper [Video]

My wife and the 7-year-old who lives in our house happened to be downtown close to 12 sharp and stopped by Thanksgiving Tower for Project Bandaloop's noontime show, which went off a little earlier than originally announced; hence they missed the whole thing, then opted not to stand in a looooong line for a taco and a Popsicle (besides, their meter was running out -- ahem). But several very-impressed Friends have submitted their thumbs-up recaps, and our Nick Rallo got there just in time for the wrap-up, which, truth told, doesn't look a heckuva lot different than yesterday's sneak preview. Which is why it's on the other side. Still, though -- impressive.

How Michael Jackson Won the West


How Michael Jackson Won the West

A new exhibit in L.A. includes Michael Jackson's favorite western duds.

The First IMAX 3D Porn Movie Is Here (Yes, IMAX 3D Porn)

From: First IMAX 3D Porn Movie Is Here (Yes, IMAX 3D Porn)

I can understand 3D porn movies at home, but IMAX 3D porn? Who wants to sit through two hours of explicit 60-foot tall 3D sex scenes, no matter how engrossing the plot could be? With other people around, I mean.

But that's exactly what Stephen Shiu is proposing for his 3-D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, the first IMAX 3D pornographic film. An erotic fantasia set in a subterranean sex lair from ancient china. It's based on a classic Chinese erotic story called The Carnal Prayer Mat, the tale of a man who meets a duke that introduces him to a world of luxurious orgies.

The director says that the $3 million film, which is being produced in Hong Kong using IMAX cameras, will be explicit:

The sex scenes are explicit and sometimes violent, but the main theme of the story is love. There will be many close-ups. It will look as if the actors are only a few centimeters from the audience.

He claims that people don't want "just erotica, they want some wow factor!" I think he may be right, but I don't know how many people would like to watch a gigantic penis waving in 3D a few centimeters from their faces. Anyway, at least the 3D glasses will also serve as protection.

Whatever happens with this, I really want him to set cameras in the IMAX theater, just to see the reactions of crowd. [Reuters]

Send an email to Jesus Diaz, the author of this post, at

Pink Floyd albums removed from iTunes after record contract expires

By Slash Lane


Numerous albums from legendary rock band Pink Floyd have disappeared from Apple's iTunes store, along with other digital storefronts, following the expiration of a contract between the band and its record label.

Pink Floyd's contract with EMI covering albums post "Dark Side of the Moon" expired on June 30. Since then, some of the band's most popular albums, including "Wish You Were Here," "The Wall," and "Animals," were removed from the iTunes Music Store, as well as and other digital music sellers.

However, the albums -- and some individual tracks -- can still be purchased through the "Oh By the Way" studio album boxset available on iTunes, and released in 2008 by EMI. The set includes both discs of "The Wall," which can be purchased separately from the box set, but "Wish You Were Here" can only be bought as part of the $139.99 total collection.

According to Gibson Lifestyle, Pink Floyd has won a lawsuit against EMI in March, allowing it to block the sale of individual songs on services like iTunes. A High Court in the U.K. determined that the band could "preserve the artistic integrity" of whole albums by not breaking them up into individual song sales.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd and EMI are no longer under contract for later albums, but earlier titles like "Dark Side of the Moon" remain under the label's control. In addition, while EMI can no longer press CDs for titles like "Wish You Were Here," the company can sell its remaining stock of physical albums.

EMI also owns the catalog for The Beatles, and it has been said the issue over single song downloads has been what has kept their tracks from being sold iTunes thus far. Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon, said earlier this month that fans should not expect the band's catalog to become available on iTunes anytime soon. "Don't hold your breath," she said.

Locking Lips With 'Black Swan' Trailer

Here it is boys and gals, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis getting down to business with the incredibly creepy 'Black Swan' trailer from the dark and amazing mind of Darren Aronofsky. Enjoy the sexy pain and envy of this erotic trailer.

Darren Aronofsky's new movie trailer: a bizarre bird mutation, or just a dream?

Darren Aronofsky's new movie trailer: a bizarre bird mutation, or just a dream?

Everybody connected with Darren Aronofsky's next film has been all but mute about what's happening to star Natalie Portman. And now the first trailer raises more questions. Is Black Swan a psychological ballet thriller, or a surreal story about mutation?

As you can see, Portman is quite a different sort of dancer at the beginning of this trailer than she is by the end. So what do you think — is this all in her character's head or actually happening? It's unlike Aronofsky to make a film without some sort of strange twist, but then again things in his films are seldom as they first appear.

Here is the official synopsis:

Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

In theaters December 1, 2010

Send an email to Meredith, the author of this post, at

Police discover 20 large-scale cannabis factories in Britain every day - so are we now a drugs EXPORTER?

By James Slack


Criminal gangs are now producing so much cannabis in Britain’s suburban streets that there is a ‘market for export’.

Police say the gangs have taken over cinemas, houses, pubs, banks and shops left empty because of the recession.

Almost 7,000 cannabis factories were discovered last year - more than double the
number found two years ago.

Incredibly, a report by chief constables says the gangs are growing so much cannabis
that – for the first time – there is enough to start selling the drug overseas.


Incredibly, a report by chief constables says the gangs are growing so much cannabis that - for the first time - there is enough to start selling the drug overseas

Previously, the UK relied on smuggled supplies of the illegal drug, from countries such as Holland and Morocco, because homegrown crops did not meet demand.

The study, by the Association of Chief Police Officers, offers a disturbing insight
into how cannabis farms have sprung up across the UK.

Criminals are employing children to grow the drug with powerful heat lamps, and also to break into farms run by rival gangs

They are often run by immigrant gangs from the Far East, though there is evidence they are now joining forces with home-grown criminals.

They are employing children to grow the drug with powerful heat lamps, and also
to break into farms run by rival gangs.

The properties are being booby-trapped – with window frames wired to the electricity mains.

There are now almost 20 commercial cannabis factories being found by police every day, taking the total for 2009/10 to 6,886 – more than double the 3,032 discovered
two years ago.

It is more than eight times the annual average between 2004 and 2007.

More than 1.3million plants worth an estimated £150million were recovered in the past two years.

Last year alone, police seized almost 750,000 plants with an estimated yield of £85million, compared with more than 500,000 plants worth £65million the year before.

‘There is now a market for exportation,’ the police chiefs warn, though they are yet to gather intelligence that this is happening.

Across the UK

More than 1.3million plants worth an estimated £150million were recovered in the last two years

cannabis haul

Leafy suburb: Police seize a large haul of cannabis earlier this year in Purley, South London. Last year alone, police seized almost 750,000 plants with an estimated yield of £85million

The highest number of factories – 896 – were found in the West Yorkshire force area.

The largest factory found was in an industrial unit in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, where more than 7,600 plants were recovered with an estimated yield of £2.5million, the report said.

It added that privately-owned houses, often in suburban streets, remain the ‘property
of choice for large-scale cannabis cultivation’.

Acpo also found the premises used for cannabis cultivation were becoming more varied and included disused industrial buildings, former pubs, cinemas, nightclubs, hotels, print works and even banks.

The report, called the UK National Problem Profile: Commercial Cultivation of Cannabis, also found that criminals involved in the cannabis farms were involved in
crimes such as counterfeiting currency and DVDs, money laundering, immigration crime, firearms, blackmail, prostitution, theft and people trafficking.

Reports of factories being ‘taxed’ by other criminals have led to criminals arming themselves with machetes and sawn-off shotguns.

Booby traps found at factories include electrifed window frames and doorknobs, a home-made device designed to detonate a shotgun cartridge, and an external side
gate wired directly to the mains.

Running a cannabis farm would lead to the criminal charge of producing a Class B drug – punishable with up to 14 years in jail.

Many of the factories are found after tip-offs from neighbours who notice blacked-out windows, hot walls, condensation or ‘strange aromas’.

Chain of human pylons planned for Iceland

By Matthew Moore

A proposal to install a chain of human-shaped pylons across Iceland – transforming an ugly utility into something of remarkable beauty – has won a leading architecture award.

The pylons would be around 150ft tall
The pylons would be around 150ft tall Photo: Choi + Shine

The “Land of Giants” plan would have seen dozens of metallic figures erected across the island’s volcanic landscape.

Each humanoid electricity pylon could be twisted into a different posture, allowing the structures to project moods fitting with their surroundings.

Choi + Shine, the US architecture practice behind the proposal, said that the humanoid towers would be “powerful, solemn and variable”, and represent a modern take on the ancient Easter Island statues.

According the proposals submitted to an Icelandic energy company, the pylons would stand around 150ft tall and be constructed from steel, glass and concrete.

Despite their striking appearance, costs would be kept low as the figures would require only minor alterations to standard pylon designs.

The firm wrote: “These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon-figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity.”

The judging committee of the High-Voltage Pylon Competition, which was established to find an innovative design for Iceland’s new pylon network in 2008, gave the proposals an honourable mention.

Human pylons
Human pylons Photo: Choi + Shine

Although Landsnet, the company responsible for managing the country’s electricity network, decided not to push ahead with the plans, their originality was honoured this month by the influential Boston Society of Architects.

Land of Giants was one of four winners of the BSA’s annual Unbuilt Architecture Award, which recognises the boldness of unrealised projects.

While the human pylons not be to everybody's taste, they point towards more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to the imposing towers that currently dominate the British countryside.

In June, conservationists warned that the country's most beautiful landscapes – including the Mendip Hills in Somerset and Dedham Vale in Suffolk – are under threat from a new wave of high-voltage pylons.

Birthday Celebration Fail

What Happens When You Slow Down a Justin Bieber Song by 800%?

Justin Bieber is very popular. Lots of people love her songs! One of Bieber's most popular tunes is called "U Smile." But what happens when one slows it down by 800%? Well, it becomes a haunting, 36-minute Enya-like thingy. Seriously.

[Via Vulture]

Rolling Stone’s bloody ‘True Blood’ cover

Sex, blood and rock and roll: Rolling Stone and HBO's "True Blood" stars bare all for this cover story:

Seems like Rolling Stone has become the new Playboy magazine, with their Risque Covers

trueblood rs cover


Activision confirms golden Classic Controller Pro for GoldenEye 007

Written by Valay

Update: Official PR here.

Rumors of a gold-colored Classic Controller Pro have surfaced a number of times, even before GoldenEye 007 was officially announced by Activision. Today, however, the company finally confirmed that it’s the real deal. For $69.99, consumers will be able to purchase a bundle, which will include a copy of GoldenEye 007 and the controller. A stand-alone release of the game itself will also be sold for $49.99, the typical price of Wii titles.


Extravagant Outdoor Beds

by Alison Humes

Loisaba Wilderness Lodge, Nanyuki, Kenya

There's something magical about sleeping under the stars—the velvety sky overhead, the caress of cool breezes, a dazzling sunrise greeted with birdsong. But if that whole business of lying on the ground in a sleeping bag makes you want to sprint to the nearest hotel and hide under the duvet, we have a solution: nine extravagant beds that just happen to be outdoors. They're in the most extraordinary locations, too, such as on a photographer's platform in a South African game reserve, atop a 12th-century fortress in Rajasthan, or amid the mesas of southern Utah. So even if camping's not your thing, you can enjoy all the glories of nature with a hearty dose of nurture.

Published in August 2010; Pictured Loisaba Wilderness Lodge, Nanyuki, Kenya

Amangiri Resort, Lake Powell, Canyon Point, Utah

Amangiri Resort, Lake Powell, Canyon Point, Utah

A full moon showcases the mesas against the sky. At night the occasional coyote yips, and at dawn bighorn sheep may troop by. Welcome to Amangiri, the extravagant 600-acre resort near the Navajo Nation in Utah as it cuts in near Page, Arizona. This is one of the best places in the United States for star-gazing: The air is clear and dry, and there's very little ambient light. If you'd like less exposure but a more focused relationship with the starry pitch above, six Amangiri suites have "Sky Terraces"—three protecting walls with the open sky above and a pool below you. With summer nights in the 60s and January nights in the mid-30s or lower, there's appropriate bedding—from silk and wool throws to plumped down quilts. Cocoa with a shot of brandy? Coffee at 5:30 a.m.? This is Amangiri.

Amangiri Resort
Tel: 435 675 3999 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              435 675 3999      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
suites, $1,500–$3,500

Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Guy Aubrey Chalkley, who founded Lion Sands in 1933, used to tell his daughter when she slept out on the Chalkley Treehouse, "Never fear the roar of the lion for it is rather when you don't that you need to be aware." Over the past 60 years, this tree house—built as a photographer's platform—has been reinforced and adorned with a cozy double bed, a hot-water bottle, dressing gowns, and a basin. Guests can have dinner and drinks in the tree or dine at the lodge and head out afterward. Once dropped off—with mosquito repellent, torches, lanterns, and a two-way radio—they're on their own till morning. Chances are that during the night you will hear a lion roaring to stake his claim. This part of South Africa, bordering Kruger National Park, has a high concentration of noisy predators: Hyenas and jackals engage in chitter chatter. At sunset and sunrise birds chime in. The tree house sits on the edge of an open plain: You may be able to hear the Sabie River, about a mile away. The sun sets and evening emerges; when the moon is full, you might see its light shimmering off the elephants less than 200 feet away across the plain. They are remarkably silent under the spectacular night sky—the Southern Cross, shooting stars, satellites—which is all yours, from horizon to horizon.

Lion Sands Private Game Reserve
Tel: 27 11 484 9911
tree house, $254

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, Los Cabos, Mexico

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, Los Cabos, Mexico

From the terrace of your penthouse high above Las Ventanas al Paraíso, at the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, you have a 180-degree view of the Sea of Cortés, about 150 feet away. The bed is king-size, the breezes and waves are gentle, and the sounds are ambient—birds at sunset and sunrise. The mountains 40 miles inland are lit and shadowed by the moon. Far-off houses warm the night with the reassuring calm of distant civilization. At around 10 p.m., you might see fireworks in the distance; celebrations are easy to come by down here. But the later it gets, the more silent the night becomes. As the penumbra subsumes the whites and blues and greens, the fragrance distilled by the heat of the day rises—the smells of sand and earth, the ozone released by breaking waves, the scent of jasmine. Here's your essential equipment: All suites have telescopes and guides to the constellations.

Las Ventanas al Paraíso
Tel: 52 624 144 2800
penthouse suites, $1,600–$3,780

Blue Mountains Private Safaris, Blue Mountains National Park, Australia

Blue Mountains Private Safaris, Blue Mountains National Park, Australia

"You know the song? 'Once a jolly swagman?' " asks Mark Tickner, who takes guests into the bush for Blue Mountains Private Safaris. A swagman, he says, is a nomad who sleeps in a swag. But here, the swags are padded, lined with fine cotton, and laid out on decks by the Wollondilly River, 75 miles southwest of Sydney, where the eucalyptus forests yield their oily vapor to the sun, leaving a scent and a blue haze that gives the mountains their name. After days spent hiking the sandstone escarpment and deep gullies, viewing platypuses, kangaroos, wombats, and echidnas, slip into your swag. Dingoes howl, parrots and eagles screech, rapids roar. At dawn, the kookaburra laughs (yes, sitting in the old gum tree) and grazing kangaroos thump around in the bush.

Blue Mountains Private Safaris
Tel: 61 2 9571 6399
doubles, $1,317

L'Albereta, Erbusco, Lombardy, Italy

L'Albereta, Erbusco, Lombardy, Italy

Industrialist Vittorio Moretti has a theory about houses, that each should have a pensatoio at the top—a place surrounded by windows where a person can pause, contemplate nature, and refresh. So L'Albereta, his family's Relais & Châteaux hotel in the hills of Franciacorta, between Brescia and Bergamo, has the Cabriolet Suite. Atop a tower facing Lake Iseo, you are in the clutches of Northern Italian luxury—sitting on satin, grosgrain, damask; surrounded by vineyards; fed by the great Milanese chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Feeling romantic? Press a button and the roof above the bed opens to the heavens. During the annual Perseid meteor shower (known here as the tears of San Lorenzo), the suite is particularly sought after: Legend has it that for every falling star, a wish will be granted. But the sky is beautiful anytime, and the nights can be full of the perfume of wild roses, jasmine, and gardenias.

Tel: 39 030 776 0550
Cabriolet Suite, $617

Loisaba Wilderness Lodge, Nanyuki, Kenya

Loisaba Wilderness Lodge, Nanyuki, Kenya

Loisaba, on Kenya's Laikipia Plateau, has spurred ten marriage proposals. "It's all about the beds," says owner Tom Silvester. "They are ridiculously comfortable." You're just off the equator, amid acacia woodland and savanna, not far from the Rift Valley, the birthplace of modern man. There are two Star Bed camps: Kiboko, by a huge water hole that attracts wildlife, and Koija, on the Ewaso Nyiro River (you can hike from one to the other). Inspired by a Mukokoteni handcart and built on an old Land Rover axle, each bed is on a large platform set about ten feet off the ground and 100 feet apart, ensuring privacy. In the evening, the Masai and Samburu who run the camps wheel them out from under a palm-thatch roof. The air is clear 300 days a year, granting full access to the wonder of African skies.

Loisaba Wilderness Lodge
Tel: 254 20 600 3090
doubles, $1,190

Adrère Amellal Desert Ecolodge, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Adrère Amellal Desert Ecolodge, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Adrère Amellal, built of mud and salt crystals, sits at the foot of a flat-topped white mountain considered holy by the local people. The lodge uses no power except for the generator that runs the kitchen. Outdoor beds are set up on the roof or out in the desert, south of the Siwa Oasis. In an immense "ballroom" (a bowl between tall dunes), dinner is served at magnificent tables set with crystal and argenterie. Later, Siwan staff in turbans and tunics escort you into the desert. They don't use flashlights; you walk up a dune in the pitch black. On the other side are real beds made of palm reeds, with proper quilts and pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets. But if you fall asleep, you'll miss the magic of absolute silence.

Adrère Amellal Desert Ecolodge
Tel: 20 2 2736 7879
Desert Rooms, $800 (open September through July)

Killa Bhawan, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Killa Bhawan, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

In Jaisalmer, a living fortress high above the surrounding small city of the same name, a Killa Bhawan guest might follow local custom and sleep out on the roof, in a well-made colonial bed. Jaisalmer's magic is magnified by its isolation in the middle of the Indian desert. Known as the Golden City, it was built in the twelfth century of yellow limestone marble and is famous for its palace, which you can see from the terrace, as well as its exquisite havelis (mansions) and seven Jain temples. Night brings a little wind, a clear desert sky, and the sounds of the city bedding down. Three thousand people live in the fort; in the temples, the worshippers sing and drum, then motorbikes head home, and by ten all becomes quiet. Life begins again around six with the bells of the temples and first prayers.

Killa Bhawan, Jaisalmer
Tel: 91 2992 251204
doubles, $120–$200

Ol Donyo Wuas, Kenya

Ol Donyo Wuas, Kenya

At Ol Donyo Wuas, there's a permanent bower on the roof deck above every suite that can be done up with fresh soft cotton linens, blankets, and hot water bottles. By moonlight, the savanna below is visible, as is Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. The lodge, which sits on a ridge 50 feet above the plains, is surrounded by three water holes, and at night you can hear elephants sloshing around. When the moon is new, the sky is black and the heavens are so close that satellites and shooting stars seem to careen overhead like fireflies.

Ol Donyo Wuas
Tel: 254 20 600 457
doubles, $1,220–$1,620