March 2010 Archives

Watch that video, filled with kids 7- to 10-years old, re-enacting one of the foulest, most violent and most iconic gangster movies ever made. Think about that as you watch the original, thoroughly NSFW final scene from "Scarface" as Al Pacino dies spectacularly in a cocaine-fueled firefight:

The kids' re-enactment of Tony Montana's death scene is the rage of the Internet this week, a legitimate viral video promising the last bits of a school play gone horribly wrong. Cue the outrage, parental anger and rolling heads of the drama club sponsor who allowed this to happen, right?

Well, not so fast. You can keep the fires of your outrage stoked, but know that this is a hoax. OK, maybe not a full-on, man landed on the moon type hoax. But it's no school play. Turns out it's just a glorious act of self promotion on the behalf of director Marc Klasfeld. He's been behind the lens of videos by Jay-Z, Avril Lavigne and even was a driving force behind Lady Gaga's "Pokerface" video via his Rock Hard films production company.

So, of course, his next step in the creative ladder was to make a sensational bit of child exploitation under the cover of the deep well of creativity the Internet opens to filmmakers, right?

Ahh, the classic Hollywood tale.

"It's a rare place where you can be creative and express yourself freely and it's a very democratic process," Klasfeld told the L.A. Times. "It was a lot of fun."

This is not Klasfeld's first brush with the elusive viral video pursuit, but his Hammer Pants flashmob effort was considerably less, umm, what's the word ... douchey.

To take the over-the-top film even further past the top, Klasfeld doesn't see why setting young kids up to play the title roles in a drug-induced murder scene is all the big a fudging deal. After all, he's a sensitive parent who tries to keep his child from the horrific commercials he sees on TV:

"Everyday when I wake up with my daughter and I turn on the television for her and we're constantly guarding her against all these unnecessary sexual [messages] bombarding her ... so for us to see the reaction against this, well, that was a little shocking."

Klasfeld goes on in this interview to explain to CNN's Headline News Network why this is all just art and since all the kids and parents were OK with the process, he doesn't see what the big fudging stink being created is all about:

No word on what his next project will be, but you can almost hear some Mark Wahlberg dialogue from "The Departed" or maybe the final revenge scene when Clint Eastwood deals with Gene Hackman in "The Unforgiven" performed by a pre-kindergarten class being spooled up in his head. Or maybe those aren't sensational enough to grab the public eye again for this boundary-pusher.


You remember the choice ride. The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California that died a spectacular death after the best day ever.

It was the joyride vehicle of choice for Ferris Beuller, Cameron and that poor little lamb, Sloane, that Cameron's dad loved more than life itself. It provided a ride from the leafy green 'burbs for a great day in Chicago. It provided a high RPM afternoon for two goony parking attendants.

And it could be yours for just $67,000?

Well, the replica made for the movie can be had for that low price, anyway, according to the auction house Bonhams, in a public sale April 19th at an RAF museum in England, of all places.

Turns out the car used in the movie was a replica made just for filming because of the prohibitive price of using one of the exceedingly rare actual models. But then, there's only one of these, so which is more collectible?

So now you could fashion yourself into a real-life Abe Frohman, Sausage King of Chicago. Just $67,000 for the ride and another $1.8 million or so for the house and you'll be kicking nice red sports cars into the woods in no time. You know, when you plan your next hooky day from school.

Think of the worst wedding experience you've ever had. Got that picture in your mind? OK, now imagine this statement being made after said wedding and take some time to reevaluate your grade:

The gunman, a 33 year-old Chechen man, insists he was sure that he had emptied the pistol's chamber of every bullet and says he only wanted to enliven the wedding. But local police do not believe him and have opened a criminal investigation into the tragic incident.

Because nothing ... NOTHING enlivens a wedding like a little game of Russian roulette. Especially when you leave a rubber bullet in the chamber, as the London Telegraph reports happened at these festivities in southern Russia. The report offers up this gem:

Russian weddings are notoriously drunken and sometimes violent, with fist fights not uncommon.

And sure enough, nobody seems all that concerned. Maybe it's all the $3 vodka, but there's just not much urgency when the piece appears.

The unlucky contestant is apparently fighting for his life.

Free video chat by Ustream

Remember the Shiba Inu puppy cam craze from last year? Well, move over, dog, a mama owl has taken your place.

Streaming live at video site Ustream is the tantalizing tale of a mother owl, sitting patiently on her eggs, waiting for the hatch - possibly Sunday morning. And thousands of people are grabbing a beverage, even on a Saturday night, and tuning in to watch her, well, basically just sit there and look fluffy.

But hey - it is more entertaining than Saturday Night Live, right?

According to the proprietors of the owl maternity ward, the owl is a first-time mother:

This is a live feed of a wild mother barn owl that has just started setting on her eggs. The owl box is located in our backyard in San Marcos, CA and is 15 feet off the ground. She appears to be a first time mom. The owl is about 14 inches tall. She laid her first egg on February 13th. We are expecting owlets around mid to late March. Incubation is 30 to 34 days. owlets will hatch in order laid. Not all at one time like chickens.

You can find more info at their blog, detailing the Owl Box ad their other avian pursuits, or follow the commentary of the viewers in live stream below or at the show page.

We expect you to learn all these lyrics and perform this tonight at the pub, bub.

There's really very little to add to this Friday gem, aside from thanks to @garfep for posting Boba breaking down the beats of Zelda.

And, of course, the Fett himself, or @renegadeaccord as he's known on the Twitter, "Renegade Accordion, the Boba Fett masked accordion player of New York."

If you simply must know more about the busking bounty hunter, you can alsways click play, thanks to PBS 13 in New York.

New York on the Clock: Nathan Stodola, Renegade Accordion from on Vimeo.

1977018RM023_xgames.jpgHugh Hefner, the nearly mythical man behind the swinging "Playboy" ethos, was not born in a smoking jacket with buxom, interchangeable women on each arm. The Mansion wasn't always there, the Grotto not always the epicenter of his sexually-charged revolution in glossy print.

Hugh grew up a clean cut Chicago kid. And he spent his formative years at Steinmetz Academic Career Centre (High School in the early 1940s when Hefner attended) where he was, by all acounts, a popular, smart, witty kid.

And, as it turns out, creative. Hefner churned out drawings, writings and other thoughts on paper for himself and lifelong friend Jane Sellers that offer clues to the relative innocent that one day would become synonymous with anything but clean living. And it's those works that are up for private sale from Lux Mentis, Booksellers - 60 years worth of correspondence between the two.

While the two were never boyfriend-girlfriend - though they did date eachother's best friends at some point, according to a Lux Mentis statement, the lifelong letter chain began when Sellers moved to California, years before Hefner would follow suit.

Ian J. Kahn of Lux Mentis explained the relationship and Hefner's chronicle of the high school friend group to

I should point out that Hugh and Jane did not date. He dated her best friend and she his...the four were the core of what they called "The Gang". The really interesting element is that as he evolved into "HH", this group of high school friends served as a touchstone...they were the ones who loved him *before*...and he turned them off and on for many, many years. My favorite story out of this is that Jane and the other girls would go over to Hugh's to read "School Daze" to see which of their boyfriends were "stepping out"...Hugh did not edit *anything*. He took notes during the day as to what people were wearing so he could sketch them accurately that evening. It is a remarkable visual diary.

The collection also contains drawings done in and for class at Steinmetz, bits of Playboy memorabilia, invitations to parties at the mansion, music, business forms - Playboy's IPO filing among them - and all manner of other items, both profound and mundane.

Following is a selection of the collection shared between the two friends:


"My typical day at Steinmetz" hand drawn color illustration by Hefner.

More after the jump ...


John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Screen shot 2010-03-10 at 12.40.43 AM.png

You can switch from street view to bike route view in the Google Maps view pulldown menu.

Ever the experts at timing, Google has literally rolled out a new mapping feature in time for the National Bike Summit, going on through the 11th in Washington, D.C.. Google is adding a bike lane with its latest online mapping option.

The new bicycling directions available on Google Maps starting today break down available bike lanes in 150 U.S. cities.

Google spent the past six months tweaking its mapping service so it could recommend routes that would steer bicyclists away from big hills and heavily congested streets - gearing the feature less toward the more adventurous two-wheelers. The feature can be used to pinpoint bicycling trails.

Google's bike layer for maps comes after more than 50,000 people petitioned the search giant for a cycling feature, its most requested addition. Google combed existing urban bike trail maps and worked with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to develop a basic feature set, but they're looking for bikers using the maps to help add new routes and features.

In fact, the routes Google is featuring now aren't necessarily the most straightforward, A-to-B line to a destination. They take into account topographical features and scale toward an easier ride - not that mountains are a huge concern for cyclists in Chicago.

"We really are thinking of all this data as a starter set," Shannon Guymon, project manager for driving directions and lead on the bike routes, tells the Seattle Times. "Sometimes we get feedback from Googlers who say 'you should take this one, it's faster,' but they're more aggressive cyclists than the style we're targeting."

If the suggested route is too easy for your tastes, though, they are adjustable. And Guymon tells the Times that they're still working on adding features, like bike shops marked along routes.

Bike directions already have been available on some smaller Web sites, but Google is the first major Internet mapping service provider to add the option.

Of course, you can still depend on the excellent official bike route map from the city of Chicago, but the Google addition really shines when traveling, particularly to areas that don't keep a city map.


Before you read anything else here, make a note to visit FloatingSheep, the brilliant blog that details all manner of entertaining - and even usable - stats via mapping. Hours of your life will be spent poring over fascinating facts and figures - like the fact that we like booze more than food.

OK, rampant oversimplification alert. But still, from their research, you can infer that it's easier to find a tap around these parts than an aisle full of pre-packaged food.

us_bars_groceries_100122.jpgAccording to one of their latest forays into forensics, the Midwest likes a good drink. And salty bar snacks aside, food may only be a secondary concern. Check out the map to the right for a look at just how much we like our pubs. The spaces marked in yellow show the spots in the U.S. where grocery stores outnumber bars. In red, the bars rule the day.

The bloggers, who use various data from the Census, Google and other sources, explain their findings:

We had expected that grocery stores would outnumber bars and for most parts of North America that is the case. But we could also clearly see the "beer belly of America" peeking out through the "t-shirt of data".

Starting in Illinois, the beer belly expands up into Wisconsin and first spreads westward through Iowa/Minnesota and then engulfs Nebraska, and the Dakotas before petering out (like a pair of love handles) in Wyoming and Montana.

This is probably no surprise to those of us who slog through long, cold, sloppy winters in our Midwest wonderland. Socialization is fine, but bars are warm and welcoming. And have beer. Grocery stores only offer the cold comfort of food - and not in the form of a delicious midnight tamales served right at the stool.

The rest of the country, clearly, has a skewed sense of the important things in life. Preferring to roll through the offerings of the local Shop-More than enjoy knocking the cold ones back with the mates. Illinois and Wisconsin, in particular, barely have groceries according to the explosion of red here.

As the folks at Chicagoist point out, though, it's hardly a surprise. Wisconsin is Wisconsin, after all. And Milwaukee is the country's drinkingest city. Chicago, um, weighs in at No. 6.

Bottoms up, friends and neighbors in the region. And don't forget to pick up some bread on the way home - if you can find a store.

Hollywood paid tribute to John Hughes, who died in August of 2009, during the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night. But Hollywood, it seems, is not done with the writer/director.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that an unproduced screenplay, "Grisbys Go Broke," has been making the rounds, with Paramount, which has a long history with Hughes dating back to "Ferris Beuller's Day Off," picking at the script. The goal would be a comedy about a wealthy Chicago family that goes broke and is forced to move to the boonies to cope. Joe Roth ("Alice in Wonderland") is mentioned in a producing role.

Paramount, for its part, declines interest in bringing the script to screen.

Why wouldn't a studio be clamoring to get a Hughes film in production when his name is hot in the headlines again? While the reclusive man who made Shermer, Ill., famous was out of the spotlight for years, he continued to write and even had some work make it to film. The last of those efforts, sadly, was "Drillbit Taylor." The bomb was rewritten in part by Seth Rogen, but Hughes' name was attached under the alias Edmond Dantes.

betty.jpgThe bleating of the Internets win again. Betty White will host "Saturday Night Live."

It's been the rage of Twitter and Facebook for some time, and now the veteran comedic actress has finally agreed to step onto the Rockefeller Center stage.

The 88-year-old has been a bit perplexed at the crescendo of support for the idea of her hosting, but finally relented, telling that she's honored, if confused by the idea:

"I don't know why or how," she says, "but it's been wonderful."

Thing is, unless the writers screw this up, she'll probably be one of the better hosts this side of Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Justin Timblerlake. Her comedy chops are top notch and timing is a thing of beauty. This will be 1,000 times better than any uninspired Michael Phelps choise could be.


barnes.jpgPeople do stupid things for love. They also do a lot of stupid things while driving. It must be a natural progression of the human race that the two truths would one day coexist.

And Megan Mariah Barnes is the culmination of that latest leap on the evolution chart. Sure, lots of folks shave in the car. Few, however, do so in the genital area. While driving.

Megan Mariah Barnes is clearly not like most people.

She was pulled over by Florida cops following a two-car wreck, in which they say she was shaving her "bikini area," according to reports in the Keys News. Her ex-husband, in the passenger's seat, was steering while she groomed the uderbrush when the couple smashed into another car in the Florida Keys, according to Florida State Patrol:

"She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit," Trooper Gary Dunick said. "If I wasn't there, I wouldn't have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot ... who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, 'Nothing will ever beat this.' Well, this takes it."

Of course, it gets better. She probably had no business driving, razor or not, when you consider her record.

Just one day earlier, Barnes had been convicted, reports, of DUI with a prior and driving with a suspended license and was ordered to impound her car, and her driver's license was revoked for five years. After the five years, she must have a Breathalyzer ignition interlock device on any vehicle she drives - including the 1995 Thunderbird driven in the wreck. Barnes also was sentenced to nine months' probation.

Good luck with that. She was charged with driving with a revoked license, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a wreck with injuries and driving with no insurance. And she faces a year for her efforts on the probation violation alone.

If that ain't a kick in the freshly shorn crotch.

This prisoner messed with the wrong counselor

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If you achieve even a modicum of fame, you must understand: Everything you've ever done will eventually be documented and displayed online.

Take, for example, this newly unearthed 1992 training video for prison officials -- starring a young Michael Emerson, who now plays uber-creep Ben Linus on ABC's "Lost."

Reports of a strange black smoke in the halls after this prisoner's unexpected disappearance have been downplayed.

Who should star in the 'Gilligan's Island' movie?

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When the series finally wraps up later this spring, fans of "Lost" can gravitate back to the original TV desert-island fantasy: "Gilligan's Island."

Because they're finally making a movie out of it. Can you believe it's taken this long?

Variety reports today that a "Gilligan's Island" movie is under way now at Warner Bros.

Plans are for a contempo take on the well-known premise and characters, with the studio and the Schwartzes' blessing Copeland's initial idea for the screenplay. ...

"The characters are so good," Roven added. "We think it's going to be a great story to transport these cultural icons to the modern day."

Whatever happened to the original TV cast, anyway?

The castaways, after all, are still on the island. The series ended in 1967 after not being renewed for a fourth season.

So, Shiny Objectors, now the question is up to you: Who should be cast in the movie?

The roles, remember:

  • Gilligan ("Lil' Buddy")

  • Captain Jonas Grumby ("Skipper")

  • Thurston Howell III

  • Eunice "Lovey" Wentworth Howell

  • Ginger Grant

  • Roy Hinkley ("The Professor")

  • Mary Ann Summers

OK Go are no strangers to innovative music videos done with a minimum, some might say shoestring, budget. And the band, formerly of Chicago but resettled in Los Angeles, has done it again, though this time the shoestring isn't just the budget, it might just a part of the shoot.

They tapped a group called Synn Labs to help build a Rube Goldberg machine, a device of overly complex mechanisms made to do relatively simple tasks, to not only provide a backdrop for the video or "This Too Shall Pass," off the new album "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky," but also to play part of the tune.

And the task was anything but a walk on the Treadmill:

When the rock band OK Go, famous for their viral videos including the spectacular and award winning "treadmills video", wanted to feature a 4-minute long Rube Goldberg Machine in an upcoming video, they tapped Syyn Labs to build it. The requirements were that it had to be interesting, not "overbuilt" or too technology-heavy, and easy to follow. The machine also had to be built on a shoestring budget, synchronize with beats and lyrics in the music and end on time over a 3.5 minute song, play a part of the song, and be filmed in one shot. To make things more challenging still, the space chosen was divided into two floors and the machine would use both.

So, after several months of construction and planning, it all came down to less than 4 minutes of one-shot filming, some luck and a memorable premise to give OK Go another viral video effort. Amazing, there's even a blooper reel of sorts according to the band's Twitter stream, though how any mistakes could be squeezed into that production is a miracle.

And as for that treadmill video for "Here It Goes Again," there are two reasons you won't find it embedded on this post: A) If you haven't seen it yet, you're one of the three people left in the world with that distinction, so consider this an effort to preserve your unique status and B) Record companies are evil. But don't take our word for it - OK Go's Damian Kulash Jr. breaks it down nicely in this New York Times op/ed piece on the homemade delivery of their famous video onto then upstart YouTube and the ensuing scrum label EMI began over the unsanctioned posting of the work.

As the age of viral video dawned, "Here It Goes Again" was viewed millions, then tens of millions of times. It brought big crowds to our concerts on five continents, and by the time we returned to the studio, 700 shows, one Grammy and nearly three years later, EMI's ledger had a black number in our column. To the band, "Here It Goes Again" was a successful creative project. To the record company, it was a successful, completely free advertisement.

Now we've released a new album and a couple of new videos. But the fans and bloggers who helped spread "Here It Goes Again" across the Internet can no longer do what they did before, because our record company has blocked them from embedding our video on their sites. Believe it or not, in the four years since our treadmill dance got such attention, YouTube and EMI have actually made it harder to share our videos.

It went further. The original version of "This Too Shall Pass," shot with members of the Notre Dame marching band, also had embedding disabled by YouTube and EMU - you can see that effort here. The new video is embeddable only because a sponsorship deal was worked out with State Farm Insurance, reports

UPDATE, MARCH 10: The creative tensions seem to have boiled over - OK Go has split ways with EMI, which released the following statement:

"OK Go, the band whose inventive internet campaigns and self-directed music videos have set records and won the band a GRAMMY® Award, and EMI Music's Capitol Records, the band's label since 2001, have agreed to part ways by mutual agreement. OK Go has formed their own independent label, Paracadute Recordings. They will take on all distribution and promotion functions for their latest album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, which was released in January. 'We'd like to thank the people at EMI Music who have worked so hard on our behalf,' said OK Go singer Damian Kulash. EMI Music said: 'We've really enjoyed our relationship with OK Go. They've always pushed creative boundaries and have broken new ground, particularly with their videos. We wish them the greatest success for the future.'"

But enough of sticking it to The Man. This is about the work. Enjoy the video - gloriously embedded here. And if you're so inclined, the boys will be back in Chicago for a show at the Metro on April 17 - and come ready to Tweet, pic and post.

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    This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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