Saturday, December 22, 2007

"Top Ten grossing concert tours of 2007"

1. The Police ($131.9 millon)
2. Kenny Chesney ($71.1 million)
3. Justin Timberlake ($70.6 million)
4. Celine Dion ($65.3 million)
5. Van Halen ($56.7 million)
6. Tim McGraw/Faith Hill ($52.3 million)
7. Rod Stewart ($49 million)
8. Genesis ($47.6 million)
9. Josh Groban ($43 million)
10. Rascal Flatts ($41.5 million)

"Man nails Santa to 15-foot crucifix; Christmas Cards read: Santa died for your MasterCard"

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — Art Conrad has an issue with the commercialism of Christmas, and his protest has gone way beyond just shunning the malls or turning off his television.

The Bremerton resident nailed Santa Claus to a 15-foot crucifix in front of his house.

"Santa has been perverted from who he started out to be," Conrad said. "Now he's the person being used by corporations to get us to buy more stuff."

A photo of the crucified Santa adorns his Christmas cards, with the message "Santa died for your MasterCard."

The display is also Conrad's way of poking fun at political correctness. He believes people don't express their feelings because they're afraid of what other people might think.

His neighbors found the will to express their feelings this past week. Some were offended but many were just curious.

Jake Tally walked by on Friday and chuckled, but didn't pretend to understand the message.

"I don't really know what to think. I know it's about God but Santa has nothing to do with it," he told the Kitsap Sun newspaper.

"UK Drivers face 2-year sentence for in-car cell phone and MP3 use"

from - By Stevie Smith

'New and more stringent road use guidelines have been passed in the UK this week, which will see those drivers using tech-based devices while behind the wheel rewarded with a significant spell of time behind bars, reports The Guardian.

Specifically, anyone found to be placing other road users or pedestrians in peril by driving while operating a handheld mobile phone, satellite navigation system (GPS), or portable MP3 player, will be looked upon as committing dangerous driving rather than the lesser charge of careless driving.

Those hit with the charge could find themselves punished with a maximum of two year in prison, as opposed to the existing £5,000 GBP fine and licence penalty points punishment that's presently upheld under careless driving guidelines.

Ken McDonald QC, the UK director of public prosecutions, commented that the revised policy came about in response to increased public concern regarding the dangers associated with driving while using handheld technological devices such as mobile phones.

He added that the more serious charge of dangerous driving would now be applied "where these is clear evidence that danger has been caused by its use," while the new guidelines also state that any driver who is found to be "avoidably and dangerously distracted" at the wheel while using a handheld device could be prosecuted.

Figures offered by the UK Transport Research Laboratory outline that close to 130,000 drivers were caught using a mobile phone in 2005, despite anything but hands-free use being made illegal in 2003. The Laboratory also offers that some 500,000 UK drivers make handheld calls every day, while mobile phone use was labelled as the core influence in 13 car-related fatalities and 52 major vehicular incidents during 2005.

By way of reaction to the new guidelines, road safety charity Brake commented that far too many UK drivers are "flaunting the law and endangering lives" when they use mobile phones in their cars. They also said that they hope these latest guideline developments ram home to drivers that "talking or texting while driving won't be tolerated."

New and more stringent road use guidelines have been passed in the UK this week, which will see those drivers using tech-based devices while behind the wheel rewarded with a significant spell of time behind bars, reports The Guardian.

Specifically, anyone found to be placing other road users or pedestrians in peril by driving while operating a handheld mobile phone, satellite navigation system (GPS), or portable MP3 player, will be looked upon as committing dangerous driving rather than the lesser charge of careless driving.

Those hit with the charge could find themselves punished with a maximum of two year in prison, as opposed to the existing £5,000 GBP fine and licence penalty points punishment that's presently upheld under careless driving guidelines.

Ken McDonald QC, the UK director of public prosecutions, commented that the revised policy came about in response to increased public concern regarding the dangers associated with driving while using handheld technological devices such as mobile phones.

He added that the more serious charge of dangerous driving would now be applied "where these is clear evidence that danger has been caused by its use," while the new guidelines also state that any driver who is found to be "avoidably and dangerously distracted" at the wheel while using a handheld device could be prosecuted.

Figures offered by the UK Transport Research Laboratory outline that close to 130,000 drivers were caught using a mobile phone in 2005, despite anything but hands-free use being made illegal in 2003. The Laboratory also offers that some 500,000 UK drivers make handheld calls every day, while mobile phone use was labelled as the core influence in 13 car-related fatalities and 52 major vehicular incidents during 2005.

By way of reaction to the new guidelines, road safety charity Brake commented that far too many UK drivers are "flaunting the law and endangering lives" when they use mobile phones in their cars. They also said that they hope these latest guideline developments ram home to drivers that "talking or texting while driving won't be tolerated."

"Student told to cover up Lesbian T-shirt"

from Associated Press - By Dionne Walker

RICHMOND, Va. (AP)-- A lesbian high school student says she was asked by a teacher to cover up a lesbian-themed T-shirt or face suspension, and now a civil liberties group has taken up her cause.

Bethany Laccone, 17, said she was asked to cloak a logo of two interlocked female symbols while attending a hotel management class this month at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth. She's a senior at nearby Woodrow Wilson High School, where she has not faced a similar ultimatum.

In a letter sent Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia asked Norcom administrators to remove any mention of the incident from Laccone's records and agree not to similarly censor other students.

ACLU leaders want administrators to clarify that students can express political views. The school's dress code prohibits "bawdy, salacious or sexually suggestive messages."

The ACLU gave the school until Jan. 11 to respond or face further action.

"What's happening to Bethany Laccone is a clear-cut case of unconstitutional censorship," said Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia chapter.

School officials did not respond to repeated messages left by The Associated Press. However, Joseph L. Wiggins, the district superintendent's executive assistant, told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk that while he didn't know what Laccone had been told, "The concern could be that we are training students to go out into the business world."

After Laccone's teacher asked her to cover the shirt, she said she zipped up her jacket. One week later, she again wore the bright red shirt, which she said is her favorite.

Laccone said her teacher again asked her to cover her shirt or go to the assistant principal's office. Once there, Laccone said she was given a choice.

"I could either zip up my jacket, turn my shirt inside out, or get suspended," said Laccone, who covered the shirt, but told her parents what had happened.

According to the ACLU, administrators later told Laccone's father the shirt had upset a conservative instructor and interfered with her ability to teach.

In Thursday's letter, they argue the T-shirt "intended to convey a particularized, political message that lesbian identity should be celebrated and is a source of pride."

Laccone said she just wants to wear her shirt.

"I don't feel like I should have to hide my sexuality," she said.

"Keith Sweat to release new album in March 2008"

from via reuters

R&B singer Keith Sweat will release his first album in more than five years on March 18, 2008.

"Just Me" is the first release under a new deal with reissue specialist Rhino Records' reactivated Atco imprint. The first single is "Suga Suga Suga."

Elsewhere, Keyshia Cole guests on the duet "Love You Better," while Sweat dips into a falsetto vocal for the first time on "Somebody." Other tracks include "Butterscotch" featuring prior debut partner Athena Cage, "Just Wanna Sex You" and "Never Had a Lover."

Sweat's last studio album was 2002's "Rebirth" (Elektra), which debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard 200. Since then, he's issued a live disc and a Christmas album, while also hosting the nationally syndicated radio program "The Keith Sweat Hotel."


"Cool Samsung Juke commercial @ 45 RPM"

Pretty cool TV ad for Samsung's Juke, set to Foreigner's 80's anthem "Jukebox Hero". Dig the whole jukebox 45 vinyl record thing happening. - Ace:)

"Eddie Van Halen / Valerie Bertinelli divorce finalized"

from via associated press

After seven years of separation, Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli have jumped forward and completed an amicable divorce. The Los Angeles Superior Court judgment Thursday didn't provide details about a custody arrangement for their 16-year-old son, Wolfgang. The bass player is with his father on a Van Halen reunion tour.

Bertinelli cited irreconcilable differences when she filed for divorce in December 2005. The couple were married in 1981.

Van Halen, 52, and his band have sold 80 million albums worldwide.

His guitar licks and David Lee Roth's flamboyant stage persona sent songs such as "Jump," Panama" and "Hot for Teacher" to the top of the charts.

Bertinelli, 47, starred in the TV series "One Day at a Time" and "Touched by An Angel."

"Blair from Facts of Life supports Jamie Lynn Spears"

from - by Tim Nudd
As Jamie Lynn Spears comes to terms with the facts of life as a pregnant teen, she's getting some support from an unlikely source: 1980s teen star Lisa Whelchel.

Whelchel, who played the preppy Blair Warner on the sitcom The Facts of Life, has come to Spears's defense after the 16-year-old Nickelodeon star earned mostly derision following her announcement that she is pregnant.

"I'm very passionate about wanting to speak out on behalf of this young girl," Whelchel, now 44, tells ABC News. "She is a role model, but it's not her responsibility to be a role model. That's so much pressure on a 16-year-old."

Whelchel, who has two teen daughters of her own and is the author of 12 Christian family books, including 2006's Taking Care of the Me in Mommy, says Spears should be commended for her decision to keep her baby.

"I'm so proud of her for stepping up and being courageous and taking responsibility for her choices, and I believe she's being a good role model – a good role model in that situation, to choose to have the baby, and I am supportive of her in that situation," said Whelchel.

Whelchel, a former Mouseketeer who was Spears's age when she started on The Facts of Life in 1979, also had words of encouragement for Spears's mother, Lynne. "We are doing the best we can as moms," she said. "We really are. I know that she's doing the best she can as a mom as well."

She added that she spoke to her two daughters, who are 16 and 15, separately about Spears's pregnancy. Whelchel said both girls had the same response: "This is a wake-up call, not for the kids, for the parents. This is happening everywhere, every day."

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Tara Reid : Oh, the horror!"

Yikes! Here's a pic of E-List celeb Tara Reid taken last week while she was in Bali. SCARY! - Ace:)

"Baron Cohen Retiring Borat, Ali G"


NEW YORK (AP) -- Borat is dead.

Sacha Baron Cohen tells The Daily Telegraph that he's retiring the clueless Kazakh journalist, as well as his alter ego, aspiring rapper Ali G.

"When I was being Ali G and Borat I was in character sometimes 14 hours a day and I came to love them, so admitting I am never going to play them again is quite a sad thing," the 36-year-old actor-comedian says in the British newspaper's Friday edition.

"It is like saying goodbye to a loved one. It is hard, and the problem with success, although it's fantastic, is that every new person who sees the Borat movie is one less person I `get' with Borat again, so it's a kind of self-defeating form, really."

Baron Cohen brought Borat Sagdiyev — an anti-Semitic buffoon in search of Pamela Anderson — to the masses last year with his smash comedy, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." He first introduced the character on "Da Ali G Show," which was carried in the U.S. on HBO.

"It's much easier for me to be in character and it's a lot more fun," he says. "If I'd done the entire promotional campaign for (the `Borat' movie) as myself it wouldn't have developed in the same way."

Baron Cohen — not Borat — can be seen as a singing barber in Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd," co-starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

His spokesman, Matt Labov, did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages by The Associated Press seeking comment on the "deaths" of Borat and Ali G.

"Texas slaps a tax on strip clubs"

from the associated press - by David Koenig

DALLAS (AP) — Texas, where strip clubs have given rise to Anna Nicole Smith and many other less-generously endowed performers, is about to make it more expensive to watch a little bump and grind.

In what some have dubbed the "pole tax," the Lone Star State will require its 150 or so strip clubs to collect a $5-per-customer levy, with most of the proceeds going to help rape victims. The tax goes into effect on New Year's Day.

Club owners and some of their customers say the money is going to a noble cause, but they argue that the tax infringes on their First Amendment right to freedom of expression, that it will drive some bars out of business and that it unfairly links their industry to sex crimes.

"We'll be fine. I've already stopped advertising, and we're raising our cover charges. But this is going to kill some of the smaller clubs," said Dawn Rizos, who with her husband runs The Lodge, a Hemingway-inspired place that has exotic animal heads on the walls and is packed after Dallas Cowboys games at nearby Texas Stadium.

The strip clubs are suing to block the tax, which state officials estimate will raise more than $40 million a year, based on liquor sales figures. If accurate, the estimate suggests at least 8 million people a year go to Texas strip clubs to get a lap dance or watch women pole-dance in a G-string.

Supporters of the stripper tax say they are not out to close the clubs — that would just mean less money for victims of sexual assault.

"This is an industry that largely employs women, and this gives them an opportunity to raise funds for a crime that affects women," said state Rep. Ellen Cohen, a Houston Democrat who sponsored the bill, approved by the Legislature in May.

"I've been told the fees to get into these places can be $10, $15. I don't think another $5 is going to prevent someone from going," said Cohen, who is also president of a women's center that could get funding from the new law.

Most places will probably raise drink prices and cover charges, or start charging a cover if they don't do so already.

Strip clubs occupy a mythic place in Texas lore as a spot where young women can work their way through college and small-town girls with dreams of Hollywood stardom get their start on the lowest rung of show biz.

Texas' topless spots range from dimly lit dives with pickup trucks lined up outside to gentlemen's clubs that resemble plush hunting lodges and attract men in business suits. The pole tax is unlikely to have much effect on your finer establishments.

On a recent weekday at The Lodge, the cars in the valet parking lot included BMWs, a Ferrari and several Mercedes. At a table in a back corner sat Jerry Trigg, an architect who said he goes alone or takes customers to clubs in Dallas and Houston about three times a week.

Trigg said he typically spends about $50 during each solo visit and $200 or more when entertaining clients. He said a $5 tax won't affect the number of Diet Cokes he consumes, tips he doles out or lap dances enjoyed.

But Elle, a 28-year-old former Dallas dancer, said she worries the tax will hurt women like herself who work their way through college by stripping. She earned a degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and said she now runs a computer-servicing business with her husband.

Elle said she averaged $200 a day at the Lodge — "on good days, a hell of a lot more."

The owners of Players, a small topless bar in Amarillo, are among those suing the state. They said that adding a $5 tax to the $4 cover could drive away customers and force the club out of business.

"They won't pay it," said Chandra Brown, president of the company that owns Players. "They won't come in. They can't afford it."

Some customers and clubs say it is not the extra five bucks; they resent the implication that strip clubs lead men to commit sex crimes.

Rizos said The Lodge already pays the state $1.3 million a year in taxes, and the topless tax will be an additional $60,000 per month.

"Run the right way, these businesses can really be a benefit for the community," Rizos said. "We're a huge convention draw for the city. We raise money for charity with our car washes."

Utah enacted a 10 percent tax on topless clubs in 2004. That same year, the Texas Legislature considered a $5-per-head fee, with the money going toward schools. But lawmakers didn't like the link between strip clubs and kids — the idea was mocked as "Tassels for Tots" — and the proposal died.

The idea was resurrected last summer by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault as a way to open more rape-crisis centers.

In their lawsuit, the clubs said nude dancing is protected by the First Amendment and the state can't selectively tax it, even if it is conduct some may find offensive. Besides, they argued, the tax is so broad it could apply to concerts by performers like Madonna or Britney Spears who wear low-cut tops.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University, said the Texas tax goes too far.

"It seems clear legislators are targeting strip clubs because they're unpopular," Turley said. "Laws like this would expose any unpopular industry to punitive taxes. It could be abortion clinics."

"Led Zeppelin tour rumours confirmed?"

from - by Beth Hilton

Led Zeppelin are in talks to embark on a worldwide 18-month tour, a friend has confirmed.

Rumours of a reunion have been rife following the band's one-off gig in London earlier this month, but Robert Plant has continually dismissed the speculation.

However, a friend told the Daily Express: "It will kick off at next year's Glastonbury after Robert has finished touring with American country star Alison Krauss.

"Plant and Krauss have a new album out right now and he is committed to that for the next couple of months at least."

It was rumoured earlier this month that the band were planning a tour.

"Roofing billionaire dies in fall through roof"

BELOIT, Wis. (AP) - The 91st richest man in the U.S., a roofing company billionaire, has died after falling through his home garage's roof, local authorities said Friday.

Ken Hendricks, 66, was checking on construction on the roof over his garage at his home in the town of Rock Thursday night when he fell through, Rock County Sheriff's Department commander Troy Knudson said. He suffered massive head injuries, according to his company, ABC Supply Co.

Hendricks' wife called authorities and attempted CPR on her husband, he said. Hendricks was taken first to a Beloit hospital and then transferred to Rockford Memorial Hospital in Winnebago County, Ill.

He was pronounced dead there early Friday morning, Winnebago County coroner Sue Fiduccia said. An autopsy is planned for Friday.

Hendricks was the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, the self-described nation's largest wholesale distributor of roofing. The Beloit-based company does about $3 billion in business a year.

Hendricks had a net worth of $3.5 billion in September, according to Forbes magazine. That made him the country's 91st richest person, according to the magazine's ranking of American billionaires.

But he seemed unfazed by his wealth.

"It doesn't make any difference to me: I can't spend it," Hendricks said in an interview with in September 2006. "I'd have to sell the company, and I'll sell the company over my dead body."

Hendricks, the son of a Janesville roofer, worked side-by-side with his father growing up. A high school dropout, he started his own roofing business at age 21, according to his biography on ABC Supply's Web site.

Tired of having to deal with multiple suppliers scattered around the country, he and his wife, Diane, started a national supply distribution chain in 1982.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Andy Warhol Foundation looks back on 20 years"

from - by Jason Edward Kaufman
NEW YORK. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has published a 20th anniversary report on its finances and philanthropy. Warhol, who died at 58 in 1987, left all his possessions to the New York-based foundation "for the advancement of the visual arts". The report states that sales of works of art, rights and licensing have built the foundation's endowment to more than $240m. President Joel Wachs declined to disclose the number of paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings that remain with the foundation, stating that the holdings are "proprietary information because we are in the business of selling them".

According to the foundation's financial statement, net gain on sale of works of art for the year ended 30 April 2006 was $16.25m, with commissions on sales totalling $1.66m; the preceding year net sales were $12.6m with $1.39m in commissions. (Vincent Fremont, one of Warhol's executors, is the exclusive agent for sales of paintings, sculptures and drawings, many of which are sold through various galleries; Timothy Hunt is the agent for prints and photographs.) "Our goal is to continue to sell to build the endowment to continue to give grants," says Mr Wachs.

Since 1987 the foundation—which by law must give away 5% of its assets annually—has disbursed more than $200m in cash grants and art donations. This year grants will total more than $11m for exhibitions, artist residencies, publications, public programming and (through the New York-based non-profit Creative Capital) individual artists and writers. The primary focus is "to support the creation, presentation and documentation of contemporary visual art, particularly work that is experimental, under-recognised, or challenging in nature".

The foundation recently announced that 28,543 vintage Warhol photographs would be given to 183 college and university art museums across the US. By the end of January 2008 each institution will receive around 100 colour Polaroids and 50 gelatin-silver prints selected by programme curator Jenny Moore. (The foundation has never produced posthumous prints and will never do so, says Mr Wachs.) The gift, which the foundation values in excess of $28m, represents "about half" of the foundation's photography holdings. "We may give away prints in a couple of years," says Mr Wachs, noting that in the 1990s the foundation sold at "about half price" some 103 works, mainly paintings, to 24 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum.

The key act of the foundation was the opening in 1994 of the Warhol Museum in the artist's hometown, Pittsburgh, to which the foundation contributed more than 3,000 works in all media as well as the artist's source materials and archive.

"80's Pop icon Tiffany to star in upcoming Horror flick: Necrosis"

Unknown Productions Incorporated is in pre-production on the independent psychological horror film, NECROSIS, and has added the 1980's pop icon Tiffany to the already enticing cast including, James Kyson Lee (NBC Heroes - 'ANDO') and George Stults (Star of the WB Network's 7th Heaven) and is set to begin production in late January 2008. Also slated is character actor Mickey Jones (TV's Home Improvement and films - The Fighting Temptations and Penny Dreadful).

The Necrosis story follows a group of friends at an isolated cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains who become trapped by an epic snowstorm. Writers Robert Michael Ryan and Jason Stephens explore an interesting premise on the history of the famous Donner Party Tragedy of 1846. Their theory suggests that when the early pioneers heading west to California turned to cannibalism for survival, that immorality cursed their spirits to the mountain. Those spirits awaken with the present-day storm and begin driving the desperate group of friends into madness.

Tiffany topped the Billboard charts in the 80's producing three top ten hits, two of which were national and international #1 pop singles "Could've Been" and the celebrated "I Think We're Alone Now." Her self-titled debut album was released in 1987 and went quadruple platinum. Tiffany is back on the charts with the release of her new CD, "Just Me".

Necrosis is set to be Tiffany's first starring role in a feature film, launching a long-time desire to pursue an acting career. Tiffany has recently been making several television appearances, including a stint on VH1's hit series Celebrity Fit Club. In Necrosis, Tiffany will star opposite the co-writer of the film, Robert Michael Ryan, as 'Karen' an attractive, high-spirited woman who is at home in the snow and a bit of an adrenaline junkie.

Jason Stephens, co-writer and director of the film, met with Tiffany to discuss the project and immediately took to Tiffany's love of life and desire to entertain. Despite limitations of a smaller, independently financed film, Tiffany was eager to join the project and become a part of Unknown Production's film making family.

Robert Michael Ryan not only wears the hats of co-writer and actor in Necrosis, he is also an accomplished comic book artist and has created detailed storyboards of Jason Stephens' vision for the film.

Information on the cast, crew, production elements and several storyboards are available on the dedicated web site,

"Turntable sales are hot"

from - by John Cody

(WBBM) – A major Chicago-area electronics retailer says the surprise seller of this holiday season is the phonograph turntable, an almost medieval technology from the time before there were iPods or even CDs.

WBBM's John Cody has the story.

They played phonograph records at either 33 or 45 revolutions per minute and sounded scratchy but nice.

Michael Abt, president of Abt Electronics in Glenview, says turntables are selling so fast that two popular models by Sony are sold out and won't be available until January. But, Abt says there are other turntables in stock.

Abt says people with vinyl record collections are digitizing the music to transfer it to iPods.  Or, their children or even grandchildren are doing the transfers for them.

He says Abt can only go so far in the record equipment distribution. 

He says he does not sell those old needles made from cactus thorn that were among the needles--other types were bamboo and steel--that once were used to play 78s. 78 rpm records came before vinyl LP records.

"Surgeon in hot water after photographing patient's tattooed genitals"


PHOENIX (AP) — A surgeon faces a disciplinary hearing for snapping a photo of a patient's tattooed genitals during an operation and showing it around to other doctors.

Mayo Clinic Hospital administrators said Dr. Adam Hansen, chief resident of general surgery, admitted taking the photo with his cell phone on Dec. 11. The tattoo on strip club owner Sean Dubowik's penis reads: "Hot Rod."

Dubowik, who had undergone a gallbladder operation, said he learned of the photo Monday when the Mayo Clinic called.

"I got a strange call after my surgery from a doctor who said there was a problem. He said Hansen was on the phone and would explain," he said.

Dubowik, 27, said Hansen told him he took the picture while inserting a catheter into his penis. A member of the surgical staff made an anonymous call about the photo to The Arizona Republic on Monday.

"He told me he didn't want me to read about it in the newspaper first," Dubowik said.

Hansen wasn't available for comment Tuesday and has been placed on administrative leave. He could face a range of punishment from probation to dismissal.

"Patient privacy is a serious matter, and photographing someone in this manner without a good reason is something we will investigate down to the last detail," said Dr. Joseph Sirven, education director for Mayo Clinic Arizona, the hospital's parent organization based in Scottsdale.

Dubowik said he got the tattoo on a bet and that "it was the most horrible thing I ever went though in my life."

He said he planned to contact an attorney.

"The longer I sit here the angrier I get," he said.

"Why is R. Kelly still walking the streets?"

Rather than post the recent 'news' about R. Kelly missing some court date in Chicago, I'm just going to throw this out there....

Why is this guy still walking the streets??? Guilty until proven innocent my ASS. Dude's on tape urinating on a child. The trial should last about 10 minutes. Play the tape for the jury, the jury heads to their quarters to deliberate... The jury eats some free court lunch... They return with an obvious guilty verdict. It should not take YEARS to prosecute someone who was clearly videotaped committing the crime.

Michael Vick slaughtered dogs and got the book thrown at him in a flash. What gives?

And to the potential R. Kelly jurors... Please add additional time to Robert Kelly's sentence for that God-awful "Trapped in the Closet" sh!t he unleashed on the world. That ALONE is worth a minimum of 5 years in the joint. I'm juss sayin. - Ace:)

"Photo of the Day: 12/20/07"

The lovely Ms. Rosario Dawson and super-vamp Rose McGowan as seen on the cover of the April 19th, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, minus all that pesky text. - Ace:)

"Hello, Cleveland! Rock Hall of Fame Ceremony Returns"

from - by Joe Milicia
CLEVELAND (AP) - Rock on, Cleveland.

The home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will host its induction ceremony in 2009 after more than a decade-long absence, Mayor Frank Jackson announced Wednesday.

The events have typically been held in New York - a sore spot for many Clevelanders. After the March 2009 event, it could return to the Cleveland hall every three years.
"Let's make 2009 work and it'll be here in 2012," Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock Hall, said during a news conference at City Hall.

The New York-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation sponsors the induction ceremony, which features a concert performance by the inductees that's broadcast live on VH1 Classic. The event serves as the foundation's main fundraiser.

The ceremony has only been held once in Cleveland in 1997 since the Rock Hall opened here 12 years ago.

The announcement comes in a year where the Rock Hall has seen a 10 percent increase in attendance and is planning a major renovation. Peresman attributes the rising attendance to a marketing push to get more locals to visit the museum as well as attracting tourists.

Last week, the Rock Hall announced its 2008 class of inductees: Madonna , John Mellencamp , The Ventures, Leonard Cohen and The Dave Clark  Five. A panel of 600 industry figures selected the five acts to be inducted at the annual ceremony, to be held March 10 in New York.

"Survey: Mac users more likely to buy music online"

from - by Peter Cohen

The NPD Group's quarterly Digital Music Monitor reveals in its latest issue that Mac users are much more likely than PC users to pay to download music online. What's more, Mac users are more likely to buy CDs and are more likely to watch videos and listen to music on their computers and MP3 players.

Thirty-two percent of Mac users reported purchasing CDs in the third quarter of 2007, compared to 28 percent of PC users. Thirty-four percent of Mac users have uploaded music to MP3 players, while only 16 percent of PC users have. And 56 percent of Mac users have listened to music files on their computer, while only 31 percent of PC users have, according to NPD's data.

Russ Crupnick, vice president and entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group, cites a "cultural divide" between Mac users and the rest of the computing world. "Mac users are not only more active in digital music, they are also more likely to buy CDs, which helps debunk the myth that digital music consumers stop buying music in CD format," said Crupnick in a statement.

Crupnick also noted Apple's growing consumer computer market share -- from 6 percent to 9 percent in unit-volume sales share from January to October, 2007, according to their figures. "Apple's growing share in the personal computing environment -- and continued success with iPod sales -- is a potential harbinger for the continued growth of digital music," said Crupnick.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Flashback: Billboard's Top 100 Songs of 1987"

Ahhhhhhh, those were the days. Mile-high hair, IROC Z-28's, and wonderfully cheesy chunes on the radio.

Hard to believe 20 years have passed since The Bangles burned up the charts. - Ace:)

01. "Walk Like An Egyptian" - Bangles
02. "Alone" - Heart
03. "Shake You Down" - Gregory Abbott
04. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" - Whitney Houston
05. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" - Starship
06. "C'est La Vie" - Robbie Nevil
07. "Here I Go Again" - Whitesnake
08. "The Way It Is" - Bruce Hornsby & The Range
09. "Shakedown" - Bob Seger
10. "Livin' On A Prayer" - Bon Jovi
11. "La Bamba" - Los Lobos
12. "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" - Wang Chung
13. "Don't Dream It's Over" - Crowded House
14. "Always" - Atlantic Starr
15. "With Or Without You" - U2
16. "Looking For A New Love" - Jody Watley
17. "Head To Toe" - Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
18. "I Think We're Alone Now" - Tiffany
19. "Mony Mony" - Billy Idol
20. "At This Moment" - Billy Vera & The Beaters
21. "The Lady In Red" - Chris De Burgh
22. "Didn't We Almost Have It All" - Whitney Houston
23. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - U2
24. "I Want Your Sex" - George Michael
25. "Notorious" - Duran Duran
26. "Only In My Dreams" - Debbie Gibson
27. "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" - Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
28. "The Next Time I Fall" - Peter Cetera & Amy Grant
29. "Lean On Me" - Club Nouveau
30. "Open Your Heart" - Madonna
31. "Lost In Emotion" - Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
32. "(I Just) Died In Your Arms" - Cutting Crew
33. "Heart And Soul" - T'pau
34. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" - Kim Wilde
35. "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" - Georgia Satellites
36. "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" - Aretha Franklin & George Michael
37. "Control" - Janet Jackson
38. "Somewhere Out There" - Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
39. "U Got The Look" - Prince
40. "Land Of Confusion" - Genesis
41. "Jacob's Ladder" - Huey Lewis & The News
42. "Who's That Girl" - Madonna
43. "You Got It All" - Jets
44. "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" - Samantha Fox
45. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" - Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett
46. "Causing A Commotion" - Madonna
47. "In Too Deep" - Genesis
48. "Let's Wait Awhile" - Janet Jackson
49. "Hip To Be Square" - Huey Lewis & The News
50. "Will You Still Love Me?" - Chicago
51. "Little Lies" - Fleetwood Mac
52. "Luka" - Suzanne Vega
53. "I Heard A Rumour" - Bananarama
54. "Don't Mean Nothing" - Richard Marx
55. "Songbird" - Kenny G
56. "Carrie" - Europe
57. "Don't Disturb This Groove" - System
58. "La Isla Bonita" - Madonna
59. "Bad" - Michael Jackson
60. "Sign 'O' The Times" - Prince
61. "Change Of Heart" - Cyndi Lauper
62. "Come Go With Me" - Expose
63. "Can't We Try" - Dan Hill
64. "To Be A Lover" - Billy Idol
65. "Mandolin Rain" - Bruce Hornsby & The Range
66. "Breakout" - Swing Out Sister
67. "Stand By Me" - Ben E. King
68. "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" - Genesis
69. "Someday" - Glass Tiger
70. "When Smokey Sings" - ABC
71. "Casanova" - Levert
72. "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" - Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
73. "Rock Steady" - Whispers
74. "Wanted Dead Or Alive" - Bon Jovi
75. "Big Time" - Peter Gabriel
76. "The Finer Things" - Steve Winwood
77. "Let Me Be The One" - Expose
78. "Is This Love" - Survivor
79. "Diamonds" - Herb Alpert
80. "Point Of No Return" - Expose
81. "Big Love" - Fleetwood Mac
82. "Midnight Blue" - Lou Gramm
83. "Something So Strong" - Crowded House
84. "Heat Of The Night" - Bryan Adams
85. "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" - Glenn Medeiros
86. "Brilliant Disguise" - Bruce Springsteen
87. "Just To See Her" - Smokey Robinson
88. "Who Will You Run Too" - Heart
89. "Respect Yourself" - Bruce Willis
90. "Cross My Broken Heart" - Jets
91. "Victory" - Kool & The Gang
92. "Don't Get Me Wrong" - Pretenders
93. "Doing It All For My Baby" - Huey Lewis & The News
94. "Right On Track" - Breakfast Club
95. "Ballerina Girl" - Lionel Richie
96. Meet Me Half Way" - Kenny Loggins
97. "I've Been In Love Before" - Cutting Crew
98. "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" - Beastie Boys
99. "Funkytown" - Pseudo Echo
100. "Love You Down" - Ready For The World

"Toilet paper wedding dress"


Bride Jennifer Cannon shows off the back of her wedding dress made from 7 rolls of toilet paper by designer Hanah Kim (a designer for Anne Klein) before she was married at the Charmin Restrooms, a free public restroom facility in Times Square, in New York, December 19, 2007.

REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

"Lynne Spears' book about parenting delayed indefinitely"

NEW YORK (AP) — Lynne Spears' book about parenting has been delayed indefinitely, her publisher said Wednesday.

Lindsey Nobles, a spokeswoman for Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson Inc., said Wednesday that the memoir by the mother of Britney Spears was put on hold last week. She declined to comment on whether the delay was connected to the revelation that Spears' 16-year-old daughter, Jamie Lynn, is pregnant.

"I can tell you that we are standing behind Lynne and supporting her decision to be with her family at this time," Nobles told The Associated Press.

Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World was initially scheduled for release May 11, Mother's Day. Spears, the mother of three children with ex-husband Jamie Spears, had been working with Lorilee Craker, a Michigan-based freelance writer, since March on the memoir chronicling Spears' experiences raising a family in the public eye.

Jamie Lynn Spears, star of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101 and sister of Britney, told OK! magazine in its new issue that she's expecting her first child and the father is boyfriend Casey Aldridge.

"Prince earns 2 million dollars for one gig"

from - by Jason Gregory

Prince reportedly netted a cool £1m (approx $2,000,000 USD) recently playing a private birthday party for a US businessman.

The Purple One, who wowed UK audiences with 21 shows at London's O2 Arena over the summer, surprised guests at Florida businessman Jeffrey Soffer's 40th birthday bash with a greatest hits set.

Property developer Soffer and his 200 guests saw Prince perform hits including 'Purple Rain', 'Cream', '1999' and 'Controversy'.

But Prince's pay cheque isn't even the largest of the year for a private function - George Michael was paid £1.5m by a Russian billionaire at the start of the year.

"Smashing Pumpkins to release 'American Gothic' Acoustic EP"


Smashing Pumpkins have completed work on "American Gothic", a four-song acoustic EP to be released digitally via the iTunes Store on January 2. Featuring the songs "The Rose March", "Pox", "Again, Again, Again (The Crux)" and "Sunkissed", the EP will be available for individual purchase on iTunes or as part of a deluxe iTunes version of the band's critically hailed 2007 album "Zeitgeist". In the U.S., iTunes is the exclusive retailer; elsewhere in the world, "American Gothic" will be available as a physical product at retail. Fans will also be able to download the EP artwork for free via on January 2.

"American Gothic" was produced by Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, with one song co-produced by Roy Thomas Baker. The songs were recorded at the Pass Studio in Los Angeles, CA while the PUMPKINS were on a break between their 2007 national tour and upcoming 2008 European tour.

"We have always regretted not recording more in between tours because albums have never caught the full story of the's sort of 'Zeitgeist+'," says Billy of "American Gothic", the title of which is "continued comment on the state of our country."

"I had written a bunch of material during the residencies in Asheville and San Francisco [earlier this year]," continues Billy, "and fans kept asking us if we were gonna put any of that stuff out. iTunes came to us wanting to do something together, so it just felt right."

"I have performed 'The Rose March' occasionally solo on tour, and the response from the audience always seemed to indicate the song had the 'X' quality." The song had an early unveiling in November 2006 when Billy performed it at the Hotel CafĂ© in Los Angeles as part of a series of shows assembled by Pete Townshend's girlfriend and songwriter partner Rachel Fuller. "Afterwards, Pete came up to me and asked me if we were putting that song on 'Zeitgeist'. I told him we weren't, and he told me I was crazy. That stuck with me — Pete certainly knows more than I."

The Pumpkins' upcoming 2008 shows will mark the band's third round of overseas dates in connection with the "Zeitgeist" album (Martha's Music/Reprise), which entered the album charts in July in the Top Five in the U.S. (#2), Canada (#1), New Zealand (#1), the U.K. (#4), Italy (#5) and Switzerland (#5), with more Top Ten debuts in Germany (#7), Holland (#7) and Australia (#8).

Look for the Smashing Pumpkins on tour in 2008:

Jan. 27 - Belgrade, Serbia Arena
Jan. 29 - Budapest, Hungary Arena
Jan. 30 - Prague, Czech Republic T-Mobile Arena
Jan. 31 - Vienna, Austria Stadthalle
Feb. 02 - Milan, Italy Forum
Feb. 03 - Bologna, Italy PalaMalaguti
Feb. 05 - Zurich, Switzerland Hallenstadion
Feb. 06 - Paris, France Bercy
Feb. 09 - Dublin, Ireland Royal Dublin Society (RDS)
Feb. 10 - Belfast, N. Ireland Kings Hall
Feb. 12 - Glasgow, Scotland SECC Hall
Feb. 14 - Nottingham, England Nottingham Arena
Feb. 15 - Manchester, England MEN Arena
Feb. 16 - London, England O2 Arena
Feb. 18 - Den Bosch, Netherlands Brabenthalle
Feb. 19 - Brussels, Belgium Forest National
Feb. 21 - Munich, Germany Olympiahalle
Feb. 22 - Frankfurt, Germany Jahrhunderthalle
Feb. 23 - Berlin, Germany Arena
Feb. 24 - Oberhausen, Germany Koenig-Pilsener Arena
Feb. 26 - Hamburg, Germany Colorline Arena
Feb. 27 - Copenhagen, Denmark Valbyhallen
Feb. 29 - Oslo, Norway Spektrum
Mar. 01 - Stockholm , Sweden Hovet
Mar. 03 - Helsinki, Finland Ice Hall

"U.S. legislators propose new royalties for Big Radio"

from via reuters

U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation to undo a 50-year-old exemption that lets big radio companies like Clear Channel Communications Inc and CBS Corp air songs without paying record labels or performers any royalties.

For decades, the $20 billion radio broadcasting industry has paid royalties to songwriters and music publishers for the underlying rights to the songs played on the air, but have been excused from paying royalties to artists or labels.

It was a long-held view within the music industry that radio airplay was a critical and necessary marketing expense.

But with music sales in a protracted decline and with new types of broadcasters, like satellite and Web radio operators, being forced to pay performance royalties, the music industry has begun pushing for compensation from terrestrial radio.

Earlier this month, U.S. copyright authorities set new song recording royalty rates for proposed merger partners Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. requiring them to pay 8 percent of gross revenues by 2012.

"It's just plain wrong for (terrestrial) radio to be allowed to build profitable businesses with growing revenues on the backs of artists and musicians without paying them fairly for it," said singer-songwriter Tom Waits, a founding member of the musicFIRST Coalition. The group, comprising various performance and music industry organizations, has led the lobbying effort to reverse the exemption.

"The bottom line here is that radio plays music to attract listeners and bring in advertising dollars," he said.

Joining musicFIRST in pressing Congress to change the law are the music labels' lobbying entity, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Clear Channel called the effort and legislation backwards.

"Everyone knows the record labels receive a huge promotional benefit from having their music played on the radio. They essentially receive free advertising for their product, and now they want radio stations to pay them for the privilege. That's just plain backwards, and the ironic thing is it will drive their customers to other entertainment sources," the nation's leading radio operator said.

CBS was not immediately available for comment.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) said it will oppose the legislation. "After decades of Ebenezer Scrooge-like exploitation of countless artists, the RIAA and the foreign-owned record labels are singing a new holiday jingle to offset their failing business model," NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said in a statement.

"NAB will aggressively oppose this brazen attempt to force America's hometown radio stations to subsidize companies that have profited enormously through the free promotion provided by radio airplay," he said.

The bill was jointly introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, and House Reps. Howard Berman, a California Democrat and Darrell Issa, a California Republican.

SoundExchange, which collects and distributes royalties on behalf of artists and labels, welcomed the legislation.

"Today's legislation is a sign that Congress is beginning to recognize the inherent inequity in failing to provide fair compensation to recording artists from the multimillion-dollar radio conglomerates that use our members' music to drive ad sales," SoundExchange executive director John Simson said.

Reuters - By Sue Zeidler

"Woman on crutches accused of groping Santa"

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - Santa Claus says that a woman who sat on his lap was naughty, not nice. A Santa at the Danbury Fair mall said the woman groped him.

"The security officer at the mall said Santa Claus has been sexually assaulted," police Detective Lt. Thomas Michael said of the complaint.

Sandrama Lamy, 33, of Danbury, was charged with sexual assault and breach of peace in the weekend incident. She was released on a promise to appear in court on Jan. 3.

Police quickly found and identified Lamy because the woman was described as being on crutches, said Capt. Bob Myles.

A call seeking comment from Lamy was answered by a recording Tuesday morning. A woman later called back and said: "It's a false report and I don't have any idea."

Police did not give the name of the disconcerted Santa, but they said he is 65 and felt badly because children were waiting to see him. "He was apparently shocked and embarrassed by the whole incident," Myles said.

A man who teaches hundreds of prospective Santas a year — "Santa Tim" Connaghan, president of — said he's never heard of a similar incident, though it's not unusual for adults to want to pose with Santa.

"I've had some very nice ladies sit on my lap," said Connaghan, who did not train the Danbury Fair Santa. "Once in a while they'll say 'I hope Mrs. Claus isn't going to be upset.' You have to be discreet and kind and say 'Oh no, she'll be OK. You can sit here, but only for one photo.'"

A spokeswoman for Cherry Hill Photo, the company that coordinates Santas for Danbury Fair, declined to comment Tuesday.

"Happy Birthday Alyssa Milano"

Happy 35th Birthday to Brooklyn's own Alyssa Jayne Milano - born December 19th, 1972.

She's all grown up, and lookin' fine as usual. - Ace:)

"The Simpsons recreate Pink Floyd album cover"


An inflatable 'spider pig' flies over Battersea Power Station

Creators of 'The Simpsons Movie' have recreated the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 album 'Animals' to promote the film's DVD released today (December 19).

The original Pink Floyd cover features a pig flying over London's Battersea Power Station. As an homage to the cover, a giant inflatable 'Spider Pig', which was Homer Simpson's pet in the film, was recently blown up and flown over the London landmark.

The Simpsons have recreated famous album covers in the past, including Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and The Beatles 'Abbey Road'.

"Retro video : RUN-DMC Christmas in Hollis"

One of my all-time favorite Christmas jams from way back in '87.


R.I.P. Jam Master Jay. - Ace:(

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Electric Cars coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you: Mini Cooper"

from - By Jacob Gordon of

Walk into a Wal-Mart in the not-too-distant future and among the thousands of products for sale will be an electric car. It will not be a remote control car, a golf cart or a little scooter to help granny cruise the aisles. The battery-powered automobile will look every bit like a MINI Cooper. This is because it will be a MINI Cooper, just with a powerful electric motor under the hood and a stack of lithium batteries where the gas tank used to be.

The company responsible for transforming the already-efficient MINI into a zero-emissions electric vehicle (EV) is Hybrid Technologies. At its factory in Mooresville, North Carolina, engineers pull the internal combustion guts from cars such as the Chrysler Crossfire, PT Cruiser, smart fortwo, and the MINI, endowing them with advanced electric powerplants. While several other well-funded startups are racing to build electric cars from scratch, Hybrid Technologies has taken a different line of attack, converting already popular models to battery power.

To Richard Griffiths, the founder and prolific spokesman for Hybrid Technologies, the goal is not to try and sell people on the idea of an electric vehicle, but rather to show them how much fun they can have in electric versions of their favorite cars. Griffiths wants people to start thinking of battery power as a kind of high-end option, like a convertible top or a navigation system.

"You'll find that whatever great looking vehicle is launched next year, more than likely we'll begin production on that vehicle," Griffiths explains. At $65,000 for the MINI, electric power makes for one hefty option. But the appeal is undeniable, as actor George Clooney and singer James Blunt are enthusiastic drivers of Hybrid Technologies conversions.

Power to the People — Who Can Afford It

Hybrid Technologies plans to make 2008 the year that its cars become available to consumers first through Wal-Mart and then directly. When the all-electric smart car hits the market it will cost $35,000, more than twice the price of the recently Americanized gasoline version. For the time being there is no shortage of customers. NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Military all buy alternative-fueled vehicles for their fleets (part of a Congressional mandate from the Clinton years) and have purchased EVs from Hybrid Technologies.

Working with the military is also a natural fit. Hybrid Technologies started out five years ago helping the military with watercraft and submarine power systems and now provides electric PT Cruisers for base transportation. Griffiths won't hint at what other sort of projects Hybrid Technologies is building for the military, except to say that since EVs are almost silent they lend themselves to clandestine applications.

The Factory in Reverse

The Hybrid Technologies plant in Mooresville, North Carolina, looks much the way any auto factory should look. Except here, almost as many motors are being pulled out of cars as are being put in. Hybrid Technologies and smart share a core relationship, so for its electric version of the fortwo, Hybrid Technologies obtains what are called "gliders" intact cars without engines or gas tanks.

For cars such as the Crossfire and PT Cruiser, the motor and other systems are stripped out and sold back to the automaker or others. By building off existing models, Hybrid Technologies gets to focus on the critical part of any electric car the battery system.

Letting carmakers foot the bill for crash testing is another welcome advantage. The smart fortwo, with its steel safety cell, has been approved by the USDOT. Nevertheless, Hybrid Technologies is working with the Canadian government to crash test fully electric Smart cars for further validation. "At the end of the day," says Griffiths, "you can keep a fairly large portion of the vehicle consistent with the original OEM, which does allow us a lot more freedom to put our money into the technology as opposed to into the design."

Paving the Way

Not since General Motors leased out the now-legendary EV1 ten years ago has a large automaker put an all-electric car on the road. With electric cars predominantly in the territory of government contracts and industrious do-it-yourselfers, Hybrid Technologies exists in the gap between the big guns and the hobbyists.

According to Griffiths, automakers are biding their time and waiting for the dust to settle before making big moves toward alternative energies. Companies like his may be paving the way, with Toyota and General Motors poised to swoop in when the public decides its alternative car of choice. In the meantime, Hybrid Technologies is busy developing a product it hopes is "bulletproof." Noting that reliability is paramount in building confidence in these new electric vehicles, Griffiths adds, "You get one shot at it."

Jacob Gordon is a freelance writer, a blogger for, and producer of TreeHugger Radio.

"Britney's Teen Sister Jamie Lynn Spears Pregnant"


Britney Spears's 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant, Nickelodeon confirmed Tuesday.

"We respect Jamie Lynn's decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation. We know this is a very difficult time for her and her family, and our primary concern right now is for Jamie Lynn's well being," says the network, which carries her series Zoey 101.

A rep for Spears was not immediately available for comment.

The network statement follows Internet reports that Spears's mother had confirmed the pregnancy to OK! magazine.

Spears, a high school junior who is 10 years younger than Britney, had until now escaped much of the attention about her personal life that has surrounded her sister.

Jamie Lynn stars as a schoolgirl at the fictitious Pacific Coast Academy in Zoey 101, finishing its third season next month as one of Nickelodeon's highest-rated shows.

She recently told the Associated Press that didn't have a serious boyfriend.

"I kind of just keep my options open," she said. "I have a bunch of friends that I always hang out with, a bunch of guy friends."

She added that her priority was to focus on her real-life schoolwork before considering any additional TV series or film roles.

"I'm going to try to graduate before I do anything else," she told AP.

Check out the random photos / pictures of Jamie Lynn Spears below. - Ace

"Santa's chopper shot up over slum"


Not even Santa Claus is safe as the violent Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro celebrates the Christmas season.

Drug traffickers in a Rio slum opened fire on a helicopter carrying a Santa to a children's party, apparently mistaking it for a police helicopter, police said Tuesday.

"They thought it was a police operation and started shooting. Luckily, nobody was hurt," a police official said.

The helicopter had to return to its base after the attack. Two bullet holes were found in its fuselage.

Police said the pilot, contracted to take an actor dressed as Santa to the party in the Nova Mare slum, was flying over the neighboring Vila Joao shantytown when it was fired upon on Sunday.

Santa later returned to Nova Mare by car to distribute Christmas presents.

Most of Rio's 700-plus slums are controlled by drug traffickers and are not regularly patrolled by police, who instead go into the slums in military-style raids, often using helicopters and armored vehicles.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Bill Trott)

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Rare Woody Guthrie bootleg album surfaces"

LOS ANGELES (AP) - He wrote more than a thousand songs, ranging from his "Dust Bowl" ballads to patriotic incantations like "Pastures of Plenty" to the American classic "This Land is Your Land."

He performed them everywhere he went, from community centers to Broadway theaters to California fields filled with migrant workers. He also recorded dozens on records.

But one thing Woody Guthrie never got around to doing was recording any of his songs in front of a live audience — or so Guthrie's family thought.

Until an odd-looking package with reels of wires showed up unsolicited in the mail one day at the Woody Guthrie Archives.

Once she had assured herself it wasn't a bomb, Nora Guthrie was delighted at what she was holding.

"Basically, it's an early bootleg," says Guthrie, youngest surviving child of the legendary folk-music balladeer.

Captured on a wire recorder, the 75-minute recording was painstakingly transferred to compact disc, an effort that took more than a year. It was recently released by the archives as "Live Wire: Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949."

It apparently had sat for decades in the closet of the late Paul Braverman, who was a Rutgers University student when he lugged his recorder to Fuld Hall in Newark, N.J., one night for a concert by Guthrie.

"He mailed it to the archives in 2001," Guthrie's daughter says. "He was cleaning out his closet because he was moving."

Surprisingly good

Braverman, who died in 2003, didn't get what musicians would call a soundboard-quality recording, says Guthrie's oldest son, folk singer Arlo Guthrie. But what he got was surprisingly good, especially considering the circumstances. Except for some notable scratches here and there, the recording survived a half-century in Braverman's closet in surprisingly pristine shape.

"This isn't somebody who set out to record with the permission of the family or whoever was putting on the event," Guthrie notes. "This is a guy maybe holding up a microphone in the back of the room."

It took Nora Guthrie a year just to find a home-built model she could play the reel on, as Braverman's original machine had long since conked out.

After that, still more challenges lay ahead, especially for the team of audio restoration experts she called in.

"There were so many minor tragedies that happened just in the transfer process, with the wire breaking many, many, many times," she recalls during a phone interview from her New York City office, where she's director of the Guthrie Archives.

The finished result, the Guthrie family believes, will be of much interest to fans as well as to academics who continue to study Guthrie's impact on American pop culture and to musicians who continue to reinterpret his work.

"We're talking Native American, punk bands, German cabaret singers and Klezmer music players," says Arlo Guthrie, the composer of "Alice's Restaurant." "Every kind of genre you can imagine because my dad's work is so varied that it allows itself to be used in these ways."

Indeed, the Klezmatics won a Grammy earlier this year for "Wonder Wheel," a collection of Guthrie songs. Punk pioneer Billy Bragg was nominated for Grammys for his own Guthrie collections, 1998's "Mermaid Avenue" and 2000's "Mermaid Avenue, Volume II."

A personal recording

To Arlo Guthrie and his sister, though, the recording is more personal.

"This was the first time I had ever had a chance to hear a live performance of my dad," says Arlo Guthrie, 60. "It's not only that I hadn't heard him live, I hadn't heard many stories about him live. When I talk to friends that were with him, guys like Pete Seeger or Cisco Houston or Ramblin' Jack (Elliott), they generally would talk about their adventures. ... We never got into what a performance was like."

Guthrie, who died of Huntington's Chorea in 1967, had retired from performance years before his death because of the effects of the degenerative nerve disease.

To his son's surprise, "Live Wire" turned out to be eerily similar to an Arlo Guthrie performance: The elder Guthrie would often digress into long, comical tales about his life. He would also frequently intersperse those tales with sharp-tongued observations on the political events of the day.

"You do begin to wonder how much of this is genetic," laughs the younger Guthrie.

The album's release also raises another question: Could there be material lying around in a garage or attic somewhere that might eventually be turned into a long-lost Woody Guthrie concert film?

Arlo Guthrie is doubtful, although he notes that in an age when every bit of film seems to eventually find its way to YouTube he could be wrong.

"There is very little film on my dad," he says. "But then that's what we said of this live recording. It didn't exist. And sure enough it did."

"Lenny Kravitz set for U.S. club dates: New album"


Intimate dates will coincide with 'Love Revolution' album

Lenny Kravitz has announced a run of US club dates to coincide with the release of his new album.

The shows will see Kravitz hit nine major cities around the US, including Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

Kravitz' eighth studio album 'It Is Time For A Love Revolution' is scheduled to be released on February 5.

Meanwhile, he will perform at the NBC 'Live From Times Square' event on New Year's Eve in New York City.


Santa Monica, CA Santa Monica Civic (January 17)
San Francisco, CA The Warfield (19)
Denver, CO Paramount Theater (22)
Minneapolis, MN Myth (24)
Chicago, IL Riviera (26)
Detroit, MI The Fillmore (27)
Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory (29)
Boston, MA The Orpheum (31)
New York City Hammerstein Ballroom (February 1)

"Philadelphia Cheesesteak Shop Owner Defends 'Order in English' Policy"

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A small sign that asked customers to order in English at a famous cheesesteak shop was never meant to be offensive, the shop's owner testified Friday at a hearing to decide whether the policy was discriminatory.

Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's Steaks, defended his policy before the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, which filed the discrimination complaint.

"This country is a melting pot, but what makes it work is the English language," Vento told the commission. "I'm not stupid. I would never put a sign out to hurt my business."

Vento posted two small signs in October 2005 at his shop in a diverse South Philadelphia neighborhood, telling customers, "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE 'SPEAK ENGLISH.'"

He said Friday that he posted the sign because of concerns over the debate on immigration reform and the increasing number of people from the area who could not order in English.

But he said he also wanted to keep the line moving at his busy store.

"The case should, without question, be dismissed," Vento attorney Shannon L. Goessling said. "There is a legitimate business purpose for this sign."

Paul M. Hummer, an attorney for the commission, testified earlier that the sign is not about political speech, but about "intimidation," and that it suggested business from certain individuals was not wanted.

No ruling is expected for at least two months, the three-member panel said.

After extensive publicity in 2006, the commission began investigating whether Vento violated a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing on the basis of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

In February, the commission found probable cause against Geno's Steaks for discrimination, alleging that the policy at the shop discourages customers of certain backgrounds from eating there.

Friday's hearing was held at the Arch Street Meeting House, given to the Philadelphia Quakers by William Penn in 1693. The building is billed as a symbol of "tolerance, equality and peace."

Vento arrived carrying a bouquet of red and white roses. He met some resistance outside the hall, with protesters carrying signs reading, "No Hate in Our Town." About 100 people were in attendance when the meeting started shortly after 1:30 p.m, but only a few dozen were left when testimony ended shortly before 8 p.m.

Vento told of starting his steak shop in 1966 with just $6 and developing it into a multimillion-dollar business.

Camille Charles, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, testified that Vento's signs harken back to the "Whites only" postings of the Jim Crow era.

"The signs give a feeling of being unwelcome and being excluded," Charles said.

"Ryanair calendar with bikini-clad attendants slammed as sexist"

MADRID, Spain (AP) — Spain's government-run Women's Institute has labeled a 2008 calendar for low-cost airline Ryanair featuring bikini-wearing air flight attendants as sexist and said it would be sending letters of complaint to Irish and EU authorities.

The institute, which defends women's rights, said that while the fact that the proceeds from calendar sales would go to charity was positive, the photographs "represent the stewardesses as sexual objects" and "reinforce discriminatory stereotypes."

"It is significant that only women are used, in a sector in which there is a considerable percentage of men," the institute, which is part of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, said in a statement.

The calendars show female attendants — one for each month — posing in bikinis on or outside airplanes. They are sold on Ryanair flights and on the Internet for around $10.25. Proceeds go to the Irish disabled children's charity Angels Quest.

"We're not talking about morals or nudity here, it's simply how women are portrayed," institute spokeswoman Maria Jesus Ortiz said. "If there had been men in the calendar, I'm sure there would have been no controversy."

The Spanish union of consumers FACUA raised the issue Tuesday.

Ortiz said the institute would send a letter of complaint to the Irish Embassy in Spain and to the European Union's gender equality group. Ortiz added that the institute was seeking legal advice on what further action it might be able to take.

Ryanair had defended the calendar, saying the attendants had posed voluntarily and that it was for a good cause.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Christmas Time is here: SNL"

This performance from Saturday Night Live always gets me in the mood for the Ho-Ho-Holidays.... Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan rockin' the spot!

I wish it was Christmas to-daaaaaaaay-ay! - Ace:)

"Santa Speedo Run 2007"

from - by Meghan Colloton

Boylston Street was alive with some scantily clad Santas on Saturday, Dec. 15th. This year's annual Santa Speedo Run began at the bar Lir, where participants stripped down to their speedos and bathing suits for the chance to raise some money for charity.

The event raised money for the Women's Lunch Place, a daytime community in Boston for poor and homeless women and their children. Each participant in the run had to raise a minimum of $250 to enter.

"Dustin Hoffman admits turning down 'Taxi Driver' role"

from (irelandonline)

Dustin Hoffman once turned down a role offered to him by Martin Scorsese because he thought the filmmaker was "crazy".

The actor was approached by the director to star in the now classic film 'Taxi Driver' - but rejected the part because he was alarmed by the strange antics of 65-year-old Scorsese.

Hoffman, 71, says: "I remember meeting Martin Scorsese. He had no script and I didn't even know who he was. I hadn't seen any of his films and he talked a mile a minute telling me what the movie would be about.

"I was thinking, 'What is he talking about?' I thought the guy was crazy! The film was 'Taxi Driver'. I made so many dumb mistakes (turning down hit movies). The list is endless."

"DJ Skee / Jay-Z / American Godfather / PARTY LIFE / Listen"

Check out a snippet of DJ Skee's remix of Jay-Z's "Party Life" off the American Godfather mixtape. Much better than the original version from Jay'z album in my opinion. - Ace:)

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