December 2009 Archives

Cutler flicks off fans?

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Um, thanks Jay?

The Bears QB was caught on camera making what seemed to be a rude hand gesture to the crowd, but Cutler says he was only motioning to the clock according to NBC5.

The questionable hand signal was given with just :20 to go before the end of Monday's game. While Cutler says he wasn't doing anything wrong, the crowd was booing and upset the QB wasn't running one more play before the clock ran out.

"I didn't understand why they were booing... not much we're going to do there," he said at his final Wednesday press conference and explained he'd take a chance with overtime instead.


Frosty has got nothing on this guy.

Tom Dzida and his 4-year-old son, Oscar, took the father-and-son snowman building experience over the top in Schaumburg to close out the year. After two day and some heavy shoveling, they ended up with this 16-foot-tall snowman.

"The people come by to take pictures," Joanne Dzida, who watched her husband and son at work, told NBC5. "I think all of Schaumburg knows about it now."

The dynamic duo used a wheelbarrow to bring extra snow from the backyard for their project. Bitter cold on the way should solidify the giant to keep him around for a while in the new year.

Eddie Vedder does a solid, covering the 20-year-old "Hard Sun" for Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" and he resurrects interest in a little-heard song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Peterson.

"I hope he liked [my version]," Vedder told Canada's Metro paper this year.

Apparently not. Peterson is suing the Pearl Jam frontman and Chicago native for copyright infringement. Not for stealing the song - Vedder and Penn clearly have credited Peterso for covering his obscure song. No, Peterson is apparently pissed that Vedder changed a few words and ruined the artistic intent of what has become the obscure musician's only hit from his only album.

So much for Canadian's being friendly. Or grateful, for that matter.

The New York Post reports that in the suit, filed in a Manhattan federal-court, Peterson alleges that "Vedder altered certain key lyrics of 'Hard Sun' . . . eroding the integrity of the composition." He also skewers Universal Music for licensing his tune without his approval for the 2007 movie. He doesn't specify damages, but demands all profits from the "acts of infringement."

Vedder's lawyer, Gregory Clarick, said: "We don't see any basis for a copyright infringement claim."

Here's the original, so you can judge the deed for yourself:


Has gossip web site TMZ uncovered a photo that could have changed history? The site posted a photo this morning showing a young John F. Kennedy lounging on a yacht filled with naked women.

TMZ claims that forensic photo experts agree the photo is of Kennedy and was taken in the mid-1950s.

The site also says that a Mediterranean boating trip that JFK took while still a Senator is mentioned in multiple articles and books written about Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy was supposedly pregnant at the time and gave birth to a stillborn baby while JFK was reportedly on the boat.

Had this photo surfaced before the 1960 election, do you think Kennedy would have still been elected President?

Check out the full image here >>

***UPDATE: A Playboy rep has confirmed to TMZ that the photo was taken from one of their 1967 issues.

Follow you, follow me: Can a computer be racist?



That's the question now facing Hewlett-Packard in the wake of a viral video made by two co-workers. Check this out before finishing your Christmas shopping ...

Wanda Zamen and Desi Cryer realized, as they were experimenting with HP's new motion-tracking Web cam, that the device would perform properly and automatically follow the white face of Zamen -- but does not function and follow the black face of Cryer. They made a video demonstrating the malfunction and posted it to YouTube, where it's been viewed 750,000 times and spawned a flurry of discussion on Twitter and elsewhere online.

"I think my blackness is interfering with the computer's ability to follow me," Cryer says on the video, before semi-jokingly concluding: "I'm going on record, and I'm saying it: Hewlett-Packard computers are racist."

Here's the video:

Cryer says he welcomes response as to why the camera does not work for him. HP has responded: "HP acknowledged in a statement e-mailed to CNN that the cameras may have issues with contrast recognition in certain lighting situations. The webcams, built into HP's new computers, are supposed to keep people's faces and bodies in proportion and centered on the screen as they move."

HP also posted to its tech issues blog: "The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty 'seeing' contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting."

Consumer Reports to the rescue! Sort of. The product watchdogs tried out the camera themselves on their own blog and discovered that it really is a lighting issue. When a black person is backlit, the camera doesn't follow him. When a black person is light from the front, it seems to work.

Here's their video:

Then again, I don't know about you, but my home computer work space provides no lighting in front, and I'm guessing a possible majority of others out there (of any skin color) might be in the same predicament. So in order to use an HP camera, especially if you're black, you'll need a lamp in order to fight seasonal affective disorder and poorly engineered computer hardware at the same time!

Zamen and Cryer, of course, are a little taken aback by the attention their video has received.

"We did it for laughs," Zamen tells CNN, "but if the video does make HP put out a better product, then great."


Yes, those are deer. No, not reindeer.

The CBS Sunday Morning Show's Bill Geist did a fun piece on ugly Christmas sweaters and their increasing popularity as a part of the holiday pageantry. Sadly, there is no video proof available online, but there is still a fine Chicago angle if you're trawling for that perfectly ugly sweater for a party of family gathering.

Two of the Web providers of these horrible things are right here in the Chicago area - probably more, but these are the ones he talked to.

The site is based in nearby Crown Point, IN, is a fine place shop for ugliness. Their promise:

For our website, we have one simple goal: connect you with some of the ugliest Christmas sweaters ever produced.

We came up with the concept for this site after scrambling around town last winter, knowing that we weren't the only people trying to track down the perfect ugly Christmas sweater.

We hope that will grow as the popularity of this holiday tradition increases.

Mission accomplished! Then here in Chicago, Geist featured the uglysweaterstore site. Guess what - they have more hideous Christmas garments - and some that defy even that holiday definition. You can hook up with them via Twitter for any urgent ugly needs, it seems.

So, easy enough to get in the spirit and go ugly this holiday.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In case you have been in the tanning bed or selling t-shirts or have a life, you have surely hear of the newest MTV craze, "Jersey Shore." Italian-Americans hate it. People with good taste hate it. Many New Jersey residents hate it.

Needless to say, it's a raging success.

The show centers on a lovable cast of average Jersey Guidos and Guidettes living on the Shore for the summer, "working" at a seaside t-shirt shack and living with eachother in the boss' house while hooking up, talking about hooking up, partying and generally living the dream.

But oh how quickly the dream turns into a nightmare.

Here's the situation (no, not The Situation): micro-sized castmate Snookie got punched in the face during filming for episode 4. Seems she was arguing with some tool about a possibly stolen drink and he clocked her in the face.

Snookie's bio on the cast page, by the way:

Nicole is looking to meet the man of her dreams. When she goes to the gym, she goes in full makeup, hoping to make a splash with all the toned men. Her height has been as much of a strength as it has been an obstacle, and it will color her summer at the Shore in a big way.

MTV won't air the beatdown on the show, but kindly released the video clip so we can drool over it all weekend leading into the new episode. Convenient.

Anyway, the repeated showing in this clip is just begging for some sort of mashup remix. That's likely coming up by Sunday, so keep the eyes out.

Martha and Snoop brownies go to pot

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Martha Stewart doesn't need anymore legal trouble. But maybe the cops should sniff her brownies.

On tomorrow's edition of "The Martha Stewart Show," Martha mixes up a batch of brownies with Snoop Dogg, a rapper infamous for his unabashed love for and promotion of marijuana. As the odd couple stirs their respective mixing bowls, Snoop mentions that the recipe is missing a key ingredient.

Snoop: Trying to make some brownies but we missing the most important part of the brownies ...
Martha: Which is, which is ...?
Snoop: No sticks, no seeds, no stems ...
Martha: He wants green brownies.
Snoop: Greener the better.

Check out this surreal sneak peek clip:

Alas, he'll have to settle for green sprinkles on top for this batch.

Asian Carp.jpgAsian carp. Can't live with 'em, can't poison 'em.

Illinois just popped $3 million in desperation money to kill off some Sanitary and Ship Canal carp getting dangerously close to the Chicago locks leading to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes beyond. They end result? One dead Asian carp, perhaps killed as a sacrifice by his fellow fish.

This kid equals that total with a modern variation on an ancient weapon for the price of some boat motor fuel and fishing line.

Part of the reason for the carp hunt - the poison one, not the bow one - was the fear that the carp had spread further than previously believed, based on a find of fish DNA

"If there aren't any Asian carp we still believe it was an essential operation," John Rogner, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said before the lone fish was found.

Well, it turns out there really weren't any carp found, at least near the DNA site. But that's OK. It's still a battle against this fast moving, all-encompassing species that has to be fought and won to preserve the Great Lakes ecosystem and billion-dollar fishing and recreation industry.

And yes, the $3 million pricetag was about more that carp killing. It was meant to provide time for repairs and maintenance to the electric fence keeping these beasts at bay from Lake Michigan as well. Still, could we have done the job cheaper? Say, just paid these guys - in a much more action-filled clip, with a brawny, metalish soundtrack and some cool flaming arrows - with $100 worth of beer and some Chinese buffet?:

Of course, as a last-ditch effort, we could always bring these geniuses in on the job. A quick trip to Northwest Indiana for a couple bags of stuff that blows up and the Great Lakes will never have to worry about anything undesirable getting in. Fishwise, that is.

Fishing With Dynamite - Watch more Funny Videos

Is it a 'Bad Day' for your favorite one-hit wonder?

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The best-o'-the-decade lists are coming in fast and furious now -- DeRo's music picks will be coming shortly to his blog -- and we love Billboard's list up today of the aughts' best one-hit wonders.

The one-hitter of the 21st century thus far? Daniel Powter's "Bad Day."

Powter's "Bad" song reigned on top of the Billboard pop charts for five weeks in 2006. It's also been licensed to films, commercials, TV soundtracks, you name it. For a while, you couldn't turn on an electronic device without hearing it.

Billboard's definition of a "one-hit wonder": an act whose second hit did not reach the top 25; they only included acts from 2000 to 2007, since someone from last year might just be taking a break.

The rest of the list is ...


Unless you've been in an extended tryptophan coma for the the last few weeks, you've likely seen or at least heard of this years inexplicable "must-have" toy for the holidays: the Zhu Zhu Pet.

The Cabbage Patch critter for 2009 is a hamsteresque ball of fur that has the requisite demand and craze following it. Your kids need Zhu Zhu. They have to have Zhu Zhu.

But a San Francisco-area consumer watchdog group, Good Guide, is warning that hours of blissful play are not the only thing you get with Zhu Zhu. They warn gifting this toy comes with a risk of exposure to the cancer-causing metalloid antimony and hazardous levels of tin.

Good Guide says the Zhu Zhu stood out in testing because of the levels of antimony. The federal limit is 60 parts per million, but the firm says it found 93 parts per million in the fur, and 103 in the nose of Zhu Zhu, according to a Bay Area CBS News report.

"If ingested in high enough levels [it] can lead to cancer, reproductive health, and other human health hazards," said Dara O'Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at U.C.-Berkeley, and co-founder of "If these toys aren't even meeting the legal standards in the U.S. then I would say that it isn't worth the risk for me to bring it into my household."

Good Guide says the danger of the Chinese-made toys - though the company that makes Zhu Zhu is St. Louis-based Cepia, LLC. - is in contact with the mouth, which, of course, kids never do with toys.

Cepia released a statement saying the claim is as nonsensical as a furry robot craze and that their products have passed rigorous government and private testing. You can see their statement and claims below:

Product Testing

There is nothing like the massive recall of Chinese toys that's been all-too-common over recent holidays yet, but it's something to keep an eye on over the holidays.


What music would you expect to find in a Vatican-created MySpace playlist? Some spiritual works? Of course. Inspirational masterpieces? Sure.

Tupac Shakur? Umm.

Right there he is, sitting at No. 10 with his take on "Changes." It's the 1998 posthumous hit for the rap icon that not only carries the Vatican seal of approval, apparently, but also a parental warning label for explicit lyrics about guns, drugs and violence in the urband landscape. Pac drops rhymes like: "Is life worth living should I blast myself?" and "Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares, one less hungry mouth on the welfare."

In case you haven't listened in a while, it goes a little something like this:

Shakur, enormously popular and controverisal was known as an egalitarian chronicler of life in the 'hood. He died in 1996 in a hail of bullets in Las Vegas - the second time he had been targeted.

It's not know if Pope Benedict has listened to the whole playlist, compiled by Father Giulio Neroni, artistic director of St Paul's Multimedia, a church publisher. He's also the man behind the recent Alma Mater album - a mix of everything from Gregorian chants and prayers with classical music accompaniment to Pope Benedict himself speaking in five languages.

A note on the MySpace page describing the collection, which also includes the recently omnipresent Muse track "Uprising," perhaps familiar for "V" fans, and a Fleet Foxes offering, describes the section:

This playlist is a perfect mix of classical, world and contemporary music. The genres are very different from each other, but all these artists share the aim to reach the heart of good minded people.

The Vatican isn't the only "celebrity" contributor to the playlist feature, with Beyonce, among other artists, chipping in selections for the masses.

The rest of the songs, which you can listen to for free at the playlist.

    1. Advocata Nostra - Music From The Vatican. From the album Alma Mater featuring the voice of Pope Benedict XVI.

    2. Uprising - Muse. Single from the album, The Resistance.

    3. Causa Nostrae Laetitiae - Music From The Vatican. From the album Alma Mater.

    4. Il Mare Mi Salva - Rossomalpelo. Song from the band led by contemporary Italian singer songwriter Serge Gaggiotti

    5. After The Rain - Dame Shirley Bassey. From the album The Performance.

    6. Coexist - Nour Eddine. Song from Moroccan Musician, based in Italy.

    7. Don Giovanni - Mozart.

    8. Rafaele Merry Del Val - Lorenzo Perosi Inni Mottetti e Canzoni, Pablo Colino & Coro Academica Filarmonica Romana.

    9. He Doesn't Know Why - Fleet Foxes.

    10. Changes - Tupac Shakur.

    11. Regina Coeli - Music From The Vatican. From the album Alma Mater.

    12. Mi sarete Testimoni - Santo Subito! (DVD). Music DVD embodying the voice and image of The Pope.

The Scottish swillers at BrewDog Brewery have made a reputation for doing the unexpected when it comes to beer. Irreverence is the only thing predictable about their marketing, brewing and daily business. And the introduction of the latest brew from the award-winning house is a perfect case in point.

Meet the Tactical Nuclear Penguin. But be respectful when you meet it - it's a 32 percent alcohol beer. Yes, 32 percent. In case you're wondering, beer in the U.S. clocks in at a paltry 3 percent to 12 percent.

In fact, up until this monster brew was bottled, the strongest beer currently available on the world market was Samuel Adams Utopias which came in at a paltry 25 percent firewater.

Is this a beer you crack open a six-pack with when the game's on? Hells no. It's sipping brew, as the penguin herders will tell you:

Beer has a terrible reputation in Britain, it's ignorant to assume that a beer can't be enjoyed responsibly like a nice dram or a glass of fine wine. A beer like Tactical Nuclear Penguin should be enjoyed in spirit sized measures. It pairs fantastically with vanilla bean white chocolate it really brings out the complexity of the beer and complements the powerful, smoky and cocoa flavours.

A warning on the label states: This is an extremely strong beer, it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.

So shotgunning is right out - though you might be able to sneak in a game of beer pong on the way to the emergency room for stomach pumping.

Of course, in a country like Britain sensitive to the perils of alcohol abuse, the beer is creating a firestorm of controversy. A report in The Guardian showcases the argument being made that Penguin is a beer made simply to get people smashed on their wat to a hooligan party. It's an assertion rejected outright by the brewery, which points to its high pricepoint and relatively exclusive distribution in saying that theirs is a brew made for sipping, not slamming:

Jack Law, chief executive of the campaign group Alcohol Focus Scotland, said BrewDog was guilty of "childlike attention-seeking" by releasing the beer on the day the alcohol bill was published.

"The fact they have achieved a new world record is not admirable, that's for sure," he said. "It is a product with a lot of alcohol in it, that's all. To dress it up as anything else is cynical."

BrewDog has a history with the quest for strong beers and pushing boundaries. They came out with the 18.2 percent Tokyo, an oak-aged stout, much to the chagrin of a British watchdog, the Portman Group, that has petitioned the country's pubs and bars to steer clear of the brew in just the latest dustup between the two adversaries.

In the meantime, don't head off to the corner liquor store for a case while you're buying lottery tickets and smokes. This Penguin likely won't be making it to U.S. shores anytime soon. Between restrictive import issues and the small, regional nature of the brewery, if you want to go nuclear, you'll have to buy a ticket to Scotland.

At roughly $70 a bottle - or you can pay $500 and also receive a share of the company in an interesting sales strategy - this is no cheap buzz. And speaking of buzz, deman has quickly outstripped supply. So don't bother asking Santa for a shiny bottle under the tree, as this message on the BewDog site indicates:

Due to unforeseen demand and interest in the beer, the initial bottling of Tactical Nuclear Penguin has now sold out. The good news however, is that the 2nd instalment is almost good to go. We will be bottling this batch on the 17th of December.

In a world where the Internet and social media is spreading sadness and despair like H1N1, it's nice to see one man and woman bravely stand up to prove it can be a place of love and joy and happiness, too.

Sal9000 and his new bride, Nene Anegasaki, met online, dated, fell in love and decided to commit to eachother. And they let the whole world in on their beautiful ceremony Sunday via a streaming videocast, sharing the joyous moment with not only friends and family, but anyone cruising alone and depressed through cyberspace - like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds.

The priest had a lovely service, the best man made a moving speech and the bride was glorious. And two-dimentional.

sal9000.jpgThe happy groom with his obviously blushing bride.

But it's not that she's shallow. She's a video game character. Just like her maid of honor, who also made a little speech.

That's right, Sal900, the name the groom goes by, is human. Of a sort. His new bride, Nene, lives in a Nintendo DS game called "Love, Plus." Plus, indeed. Probably not what Nintendo had in mind when they dreamed it up.

Thank goodness it wasn't a same sex marriage or the Internet might have exploded taking us all with it.

Not including the original wedding party, most of whom were humanish, and the original audience, more than 1,500,000 people have streamed this event already on YouTube.

And of course it all happened in Japan, where the new groom is probably busy trying to transport the wife's consciousness into a Hondo Asimo robot.

Sal9000 talked with BoingBoing about his new marriage and the struggles of meshing two VERY different people into a new home:

Now that the ceremony is over, I feel like I've been able to achieve a major milestone in my life. Some people have expressed doubts about my actions, but at the end of the day, this is really just about us as husband and wife. As long as the two of us can go on to create a happy household, I'm sure any misgivings about us will be resolved.

As for what's next, we still haven't gone to see my parents, so we will be going home together on New Years to officially announce our marriage.

The two of us hope to continue to let our love for each other grow as time goes on.


SAL9000 & Nene Anegasaki

No word yet on where they'll be honeymooning. We're also not sure on what the new couple thinks about having kids. We can only hope and pray that it's not allowed.


In the first round of the staredown, Rupert Murdoch seems to have made Google flinch.

The omnipotent, omnipresent search engine giant announced in a blog post Tuesday.

"Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free," Google senior business product manager Josh Cohen said in the post. "Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing."

Under the new plan, newspaper publishers will be able to set a limit on the number of free news articles people can read through Google, the company has announced. And users will be routed to payment or registration pages if publishers join the First Click Free plan.

Participating publishers allow the crawler to index their subscription content, then allow users who find one of those articles through Google News or Google Search to see the full page without requiring them to register or subscribe. The user's first click to the content is free, but when a user clicks on additional links on the site, the publisher can show a payment or registration request.

Google also plans to allow for crawling and indexing of summary content - basically a headline and short index item - of pay content.

We will crawl, index and treat as "free" any preview pages. This means that our crawlers see the exact same content that will be shown for free to a user. Because the preview page is identical for both users and the crawlers, it's not cloaking. We will then label such stories as "subscription" in Google News. The ranking of these articles will be subject to the same criteria as all sites in Google, whether paid or free.

The concession from Google comes as the clarion call of content publisher builds to a crescendo as the news industry searches for an answer to a business model failing to attract or hold advertising revenue. Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages.

Media tycoon Murdoch had earlier accused firms such as Google of profiting from journalism by generating advertising revenue by linking readers to newspaper articles. Some readers have discovered they can avoid paying subscription fees to newspaper websites by calling up their pages via Google and Murdoch has moved to take content from The Wall Street Journal, among other of his multitudinous media properties, of the Google search index.


Cormac McCarthy's office is no country for old typewriters.

typewriter.jpgYou can have your laptops. Your iPhones. Your netbooks and Microsoft Word, Google Docs and Kindles. All of them fully capable of producing the printed word and displaying literary genius. But NONE of them are as cool as this 1963 Olivetti manual typewriter.

This unassuming typewriter produced every word the esteemed writer Cormac McCarthy has banged out in the last 36 years.

McCarthy wrote a letter of authentication - on the machine itself, of course - to auction house Christie's in New York, where the heavily aged typewriter is expected to fetch up to $20,000:

"It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose. ... I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published. Including all drafts and correspondence I would put this at about five million words over a period of 50 years."

The New York Times has a brief explanation from the Pulitzer Winner on why he's still banging away on a typewriter - beat up and ancient or brand new and anachronistic - in this day and age. A habit particularly puzzling to some the younger generation, particulary since he does drag the Olivetti to the ends of the Earth for his prolific work.

He remembers one summer when some graduate students were visiting the Santa Fe Institute. "I was in my office clacking away," he said. "One student peered in and said: 'Excuse me. What is that?' "

"I don't have some method of working," he said, adding that he often works on different projects simultaneously. A few years ago, when he was in Ireland, "I worked all day on four different projects," he said. "I worked two hours on each. I got a lot done, but that's not usual."

So McCarthy parts with his Olivetti, with the profits going to the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research organization in his hometown. Must be time to jump into technology and move up to a laptop after more than a dozen novels - including his first, The Orchard Keeper written working as an auto mechanic in Chicago in 1965, screenplays, letter, ideas, tangents and characters were hammered out old school, right?

Wrong. He's apparently already got a shiny, brand new Olivetti - exact same model - for less than $50. That includes shipping.

solange.jpegLet's get this out off the way off the top: Yes, this is a sad story.

A beautiful young woman in the prime of her life and career has been robbed from the world - and her twin children. Former Miss Solange Magnano Argentina is dead at 38.

Due to complications from cosmetic buttocks surgery, also known as gluteoplasty. Specifically, the defining fluids being injected into Magnano made their way into her lungs and brain.

Let that sink in a minute. A person, already judged by widely accepted standards to be beautiful, has died because she wanted her ass to be more perfect. It's here that the concepts of tragedy and lunacy intersect. Some might even call it an asinine loss of life, but not here.

In the continuing quest to stay young, beautiful and mythically, unattainably perfect, Magnano has sacrificed her life to make sure her butt looks good.

Roberto Piazza, a friend of Magnano, tells press: "This woman who had everything is dead because she wanted to have a slightly firmer [body]." "She only underwent the procedure because she thought it was no big deal" added friend Guillermo Azar.

So far has yet to weigh in on the saga, but this would seem to be a poster child case.

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    About this Archive

    This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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