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Friday, May 6, 2011

Shpongle presents: The Shpongletron Experience Live at The Royale in Boston

Presidents come and go, but the Queen sticks around — Fascinating

Scotland toasts new whisky-powered bioenergy plant

Up to 9,000 homes to be powered with energy produced by burning waste matter from the whisky-making process

  • whisky distillery
    Scottish distilleries will power 9,000 homes with electricity and heat from bioenergy plants using waste matter from the industry. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

    It is the spirit that powers the Scottish economy, and now whisky is to be used to create electricity for homes in a new bioenergy venture involving some of Scotland's best-known distilleries.

    Contracts have recently been awarded for the construction of a biomass combined heat and power plant at Rothes in Speyside that by 2013 will use the by-products of the whisky-making process for energy production.

    Vast amounts of "draff", the spent grains used in the distilling process, and pot ale, a residue from the copper stills, are produced by the whisky industry each year and are usually transported off-site. The Rothes project, a joint venture between Helius Energy and the Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) will burn the draff with woodchips to generate enough electricity to supply 9,000 homes. It will be supplied by Aalborg Energie Technick, a danish engineering company. The pot ale will be made into a concentrated organic fertiliser and an animal feed for use by local farmers.

    Environmentalists have expressed concern that some of the wood used in the process may not be locally sourced, but say the 7.2MW project – the equivalent output of two large wind turbines - is a good scale and a valuable addition to Scotland's renewables industry. Green energy has been a key issue in the run-up to Thursday's Holyrood elections. The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has pledged to produce 100% of Scotland's electricity through renewable energy by 2020, a claim dismissed as "fantasy" by Labour.

    The £50m Rothes project is the latest bioenergy venture from the Scotch whisky industry, but it is believed to be the first to provide electricity for public use. A bioenergy plant at Scotland's largest distillery in Fife is close to completion. The project by Diageo will provide 98% of the thermal steam and 80% of the electrical power used at the Cameronbridge distillery. And last year, scientists at Napier University announced they had developed a method of producing biofuel from the by-products of the whisky distilling process which could power cars and even aircraft. The new fuel, they said, could be available at petrol pumps within a few years.

    Of Scotland's 100 whisky distilleries, 50 are based in Speyside, and Frank Burns, general manager of CoRD, said it was an ideal location for the new bioenergy plant which will be built on an existing industrial site.

    "It is very well supported in the local community. Up here in Rothes and in Speyside in general we have a lot of strong links," he said. "We had zero objections at the planning stage and we have done a lot of work within the community on the progress of the project."

    Waste products from around 16 of the area's 50 distilleries will be used at the site, including well-known brands such as Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Macallan, and Famous Grouse. None will come from further than 25 miles away.

    Burns acknowledged, however, that some of the wood for the process may not be locally sourced. "Some of it will be local and some of it will be shipped in," he said. "It is down to the supplier. They may source it locally." Most of the fuel, he added, will be comprised of the draff.

    Sam Gardner, climate policy officer for WWF Scotland, said:

    "From the information we have, the project looks to be a very welcome addition to Scotland's renewable industry. It is using waste products from our whisky industry which is eminently sensible thing to do, and is producing heat both for whisky production and for the local community. We would want to see assurances, however, that the biomass was sustainably sourced."

Summer Movie Preview: Harry Potter, Jack Sparrow and the Autobots launch season of sequels

By Clint O'Connor, The Plain Dealer

pirates-of-caribbean-cropped.JPGPirates 4: Johnny Depp, left, and Geoffry Rush return as Capt. Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa for a ride on stranger tides.

Hollywood's summer movie season officially kicks off Friday, and I don't even have my spray-on tan yet. The first Friday in May is happy time for theater owners who hope to see streams of fans pouring into potential blockbusters for the next four months. And what creative wonders have the movie wizards prepared?

What else? Sequels, prequels, reboots and remakes.

The most anticipated sequel, of course, is the eighth (and final) Harry Potter, which opens Friday, July 15. But we're also bracing for the fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean," fourth "X-Men" (fifth if you count the Wolverine spinoff), fourth "Spy Kids," and third "Transformers."

The biggest trend is not content, but format: Several films arrive in pricier 3-D. Also on the horizon, new movies from Terrence Malick, Jodie Foster, John Lasseter and Jon Favreau, who has combined two of our favorite genres for "Cowboys & Aliens." A sneak peek at the next 16 weeks of cinema:


Friday, May 13


Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, John Hamm.

Buzz: A longtime single woman watches her best friend walk down the aisle and must find a new life. Plugged as the "female 'Hangover,' " but with more sex. "Saturday Night Live's" Wiig co-wrote and stars.

"Everything Must Go"

Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern.

Buzz: After a man loses his wife and his job on the same day, he moves into his front yard. Based on Raymond Carver's short story "Why Don't You Dance?"


Cast: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Christopher Plummer.

Buzz: An angry warrior priest battles vampires in a post-apocalyptic world. And in 3-D. Homilies will never be the same.

Friday, May 20

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush.

Buzz: The third one was kind of lame, or was it the second one? Oh, well. Capt. Jack Sparrow returns to find the Fountain of Youth and battle Blackbeard (Ian McShane) in 3-D.

Thursday, May 26

"The Hangover Part II"

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis.

Buzz: The first "Hangover" was sharply made, hilarious and, refreshingly, not your typical bawdy comedy. No. 2 is already beset by semicontroversy (Mel Gibson was denied a role after some cast members objected, PETA objected to the treatment of monkeys, and Mike Tyson's tattoo artist is suing), but prospects are good for giggles. The main cast remains intact, and this time the lads are headed for trouble in Bangkok.

"Kung Fu Panda 2"

Cast: Voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan.

Buzz: Po and the Furious Five take on a new villain in the not-so-aptly named Valley of Peace.

Friday, May 27

"The Beaver"

Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin.

Buzz: A deeply depressed man communicates through a beaver hand puppet with a British accent. Gibson's various offending-everyone antics delayed the release of this film for months. The classy Foster also directs.

Also in May: Michelle Williams shakes things up on the rugged Oregon Trail circa 1845 in "Meek's Cutoff" . . . "Super Size Me's" Morgan Spurlock dissects branding and marketing in "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" . . . A veteran New York Times photographer is celebrated in "Bill Cunningham New York" . . . and the struggles of a 14-year-old are explored in the World War II drama "Winter in Wartime."


Friday, June 3

"X-Men: First Class"

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, January Jones.

Buzz: McAvoy, as Charles Xavier, has a gift for turning potentially predictable roles into memorable turns, so there may be hope for the latest "X-Men," an origins story that takes us back to 1963 and the Cold War. Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") plays Mystique.

Friday, June 10

"Super 8"

Cast: Gabriel Basso, Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney.

Buzz: A hybrid of home movies and alien horrors from writer-director J.J. Abrams. Strange things start happening in a small Ohio town in 1979. (Set but not shot here.)

"Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer"

Cast: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller.

Buzz: Megan McDonald's book series comes to the screen with Beatty as Moody, a third-grader determined to beat the summer blahs.

Friday, June 17

"Mr. Popper's Penguins"

Cast: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury.

Buzz: In this family comedy, Mr. Popper's problem is a shipment from Antarctica that includes six slap-happy penguins. Cue the cuteness.

"Green Lantern"

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard.

Buzz: The superhero is re-imagined with Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the dude with the special ring and intergalactic responsibilities.

Friday, June 24

"Cars 2"

Cast: Voices of Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt.

Buzz: Pixar genius John Lasseter returns to put pedal to metal with Lightning McQueen and Mater traveling overseas for a big race and super spy-jinks thanks to new cars Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).

"Bad Teacher"

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch.

Buzz: As the title suggests, Elizabeth (Diaz) is a crummy educator. She does, however, have a plan to marry a meal ticket and escape the classroom. Former love buddies Diaz and Timberlake buried the breakup hatchet and agreed to co-star.

Also in June: Terrence Malick's long-awaited, "The Tree of Life" with Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain . . . Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts in "The Art of Getting By" (formerly titled "Homework") . . . Mike Mills' "Beginners," with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer . . . and the adaptation of Joe Dunthorne's novel, "Submarine," about a 15-year-old trying to save his parents' marriage.


Friday, July 1

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel.

Buzz: Megan Fox was dumped for Huntington-Whiteley, but LaBeouf is back for No. 3 as the Autobots discover a lunar secret. The first "Transformers" was an absolute blast. No. 2 was a mammoth drag. Director Michael Bay, the master of excess, owes us one.

"Monte Carlo"

Cast: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy.

Buzz: This summer's lots-of-cute-guys movie is aimed squarely at the young-girl demographic. A romantic comedy in which a teen is mistaken for an heiress and reaps the attendant high-life benefits.

"Larry Crowne"

Cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts.

Buzz: It's the first feature film Hanks has directed since "That Thing You Do" in 1996, and he's in good company. He co-wrote the script -- about a recently fired guy who heads to community college -- with Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding"), and cast Roberts as his love-interest teacher.

Friday, July 8


Cast: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb.

Buzz: A romance-challenged zookeeper discovers a scary secret about his animals: They talk. A mixture of live-action and CGI, with the voices of Cher, Adam Sandler and Nick Nolte.

"Horrible Bosses"

Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis.

Buzz: The universal fantasy of ousting awful employers is played out by three working stiffs who have a diabolical idea for getting rid of Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey.

Friday, July 15

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint.

Buzz: Did they really need to mess with a good thing by adding 3-D to the Hogwarts equation? There's plenty to delve into in Harry's world without added gimmicks, but Warner Bros. is going all out as it says farewell to the wildly profitable series. Hard to believe it all began in November 2001, four years after J.K. Rowling published her first Harry book in England. What a ride.

"Winnie the Pooh"

Cast: Voices of Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Tom Kenny.

Buzz: Disney returns to A.A. Milne's Hundred Acre Wood for new adventures with Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit and the gang. Created using the old-fashioned method: hand-drawn animation.

Friday, July 22

"Captain America: The First Avenger"

Cast: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving.

Buzz: Marvel hopes for more marvelousness as Steve Rogers (Evans) is transformed into a supersoldier to take on the Red Skull (Weaving).

"Friends With Benefits"

Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson.

Buzz: Didn't Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher just make this movie? They did, except it was called "No Strings Attached." Timberlake and Kunis are the new comely duo. Two friends share a bed. Issues ensue.

Friday, July 2

"Cowboys & Aliens"

Cast: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford.

Buzz: Things get a little weird in the Old West of 1873 when outer-space interlopers arrive.

"Crazy, Stupid, Love"

Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone.

Buzz: Recently separated Cal (Carell) becomes the wingman for a real player (Gosling) and learns the ways of modern romance.

"The Smurfs"

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris and the voices of Katy Perry and Jonathan Winters.

Buzz: The blue brigade lands in New York City in a blend of live action, animation and 3-D.

Also in July: Kristin Scott Thomas plays a journalist in "Sarah's Key" . . . 19th-century China is seen through the eyes of two young girls in Wayne Wang's "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" . . . "The Devil's Double" charts 1980s intrigue in Baghdad . . . and "Another Earth" ponders the discovery of a duplicate planet.


Friday, August 5

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow.

Buzz: The umpteenth rendering of man and primate defying evolutionary and cultural codes. The apes are CGI and not played by Roddy McDowell.

"The Change-Up"

Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde.

Buzz: Bateman and Reynolds switch bodies. See: "Freaky Friday," "13 Going on 30," "Like Father Like Son," "The Hot Chick," "17 Again" et al.

Friday, August 12

"The Help"

Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer.

Buzz: Kathryn Stockett's best seller about improbable friendships and black housekeepers in early 1960s Mississippi comes to the screen in the hands of Tate Taylor (an old friend of Stockett's). The terrific cast includes Cicely Tyson and Sissy Spacek.

"30 Minutes or Less"

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari.

Buzz: A pizza-delivery dude is kidnapped and forced to rob a bank in this action-comedy from "Zombieland" director Ruben Fleischer.

Friday, August 19

"One Day"

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson.

Buzz: Glimpsed on July 15, on and off for two decades, the friendship/love of Em and Dex evolves. Director Lone Scherfig's ("An Education") take on David Nicholls' novel.

"Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World"

Cast: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale

Buzz: A couple of 10-year-olds (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) are needed to save their mom, the world or both.

"Conan the Barbarian"

Cast: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang.

Buzz: No Arnold this time. It's Jason Momoa (from "Game of Thrones") as the Big C, fighting to save the nations of Hyboria from supernatural evil.

"Fright Night"

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Buzz: Another night, another remake. Yelchin stars as Charlie Brewster, a high school senior who has some bloodsucking suspicions about his mysterious new neighbor.

Also in August: Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce scream in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" . . . Elizabeth Banks and Paul Rudd look for laughs in "Our Idiot Brother" . . . Emma Bell and Nicholas D'Agosto go thrill-seeking in "Final Destination 5" . . . Juno Temple and Jeremy Dozier star in "Dirty Girl" . . . and the space mission saga "Apollo 18" arrives early from its previously announced 2012 release date.

Save Ferris: Pop-Culture Origins Of 16 Famous Band Names


Duran Barbarella.jpg
​This one's for the pop-culture junkies. For those who, like us, are tickled by all forms of pop media, whether it be literature, film or music... this list encompasses them all. A surprisingly high quantity of bands have named themselves after books, songs, and films; some are obvious, some took a little digging, and (many) others simply urged us to seek out myriad (evidently) highly inspirational low-budget horror films.

Duran Duran: Drawing inspiration from the 1968 steamy sci-fi film Barbarella, the New-Wave pioneers borrowed their name from the movie's mad scientist, Dr. Durand Durand, whom Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is assigned to retrieve from planet Tau Ceti, in order to save the earth.

Veruca Salt: This '90s (partial) female powerhouse fancied Roald Dahl's bratty creation so much, they named their band after her. Of course, Veruca Salt the character, from Dahl's beloved book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, was a "bad egg," but her name - and attitude - live on in the band, which continues making music despite front woman Nina Gordon's 1998 departure.

Titus Andronicus: One wouldn't guess these gritty hard rockers would draw inspiration from the most floral of flowery wordsmiths - Shakespeare - but leave it to them to choose their namesake based on the poet's gooriest of tragedies, (The Lamentable Tragedy of) Titus Andronicus, penned in the late 16th century.

Mogwai: These Scot-rockers, who play Warehouse Live May 17, have released albums on some of indie-rock's hippest labels (Sub Pop, Matador, etc.), but they borrow their name from one of the cutest beings of '80s filmdom. Not to be confused with actual Gremlins, Mogwai musn't get wet, be exposed to sunlight, or be fed after midnight. The cute ones are always high-maintenance.

Modest Mouse: Despite a rumor we heard years ago, that Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock chose his alliterated band name based on a speech-therapy exercise he was forced to repeat as a child, Brock actually chose the name "Modest Mouse" via a passage from Virginia Woolf's "The Mark on the Wall," rearranging words from the line "the minds of modest, mouse-colored people."

The Fratellis: In homage to perhaps the single best movie of the '80s, The Goonies, the gleeful Glasgow rockers named their band after the film's dimwitted villains.

Mudhoney: The Seattle grunge pioneers named their band after a 1965 Russ Meyer film, which was based on the novel by Raymond Friday Locke. The band had allegedly never even seen the film when they chose their name in 1988.

Black Sabbath: The heavy-metal Brits aptly named their band after the 1963 Italian horror film of the same name.

Gaga moniker.jpg
Jim Bricker
Lady Gaga: Whether it's accurate or just a thoughtful PR story, Lady Gaga, aka Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, attained her stage name via producer Rob Fusari, who, via a text to the singer, recommended the Queen song "Radio Ga-Ga" as her new moniker. Evidently, Fusari's phone auto-corrected the name into "Lady Gaga," and the rest is history.

Radiohead: It's hard to believe these innovators borrow from anyone, but they did, and early-on. After forming in the mid-'80s under the original name "On a Friday," the day the band rehearsed in the music room of Oxfordshire's Abingdon School, where they met," they soon after changed their name to Radiohead, inspired by Talking Heads' 1986 True Stories track of the same name.

Ferris Bueller DVD cover.jpg
Save Ferris: Perhaps the most iconically recognizable of bands' pop-culture loans, this late '90s Orange County ska band took their name from '80s teen classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, an expression on a water tower forever etched in our minds.

Say Anything: Speaking of iconic '80s teen films, "like the origin of any unlikely hero, Say Anything was forged from conflict," reads the band's Web site bio... which could almost double as a character description of the stereo-holding, trenchcoat-wearing, hopeless romantic Lloyd Dobler, from Cameron Crowe's 1989 film and clear inspiration to the band.

White Zombie: Leave it to Rob Zombie to name his band after a 1932 "evil voodoo" horror film.

The Doors: The band suitingly took their name from Aldous Huxley's 1954 book The Doors of Perception, a hazy tale detailing the author's psychedelic mescaline-induced trip.

My Bloody Valentine: The Dublin shoegazers adopted their romantically gory name from a low-budget 1981 Canadian slasher film of the same name.

Goldfinger: Easy enough; these pop-punks borrowed their name from the third film in the James Bond series, 1964's Goldfinger.

Van Damme Friday - Behind Closed Doors DVD