Hello Kitty: NYC Shuts Subway To Rescue Two Kittens

a8fa9c4a1b4ce51d3b0f6a7067008754 9225288_600x338 9223870_600x338Feel-good stories about the NYC Subway are rare and this one is as good as it gets. The fortunate felines, newly named August and Arthur,  are currently in a Brooklyn shelter and will be put up for adoption.

Via NY Daily News:

“Two kittens that shut down a New York City subway line for more than an hour have been found and rescued from the tracks.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman Julie Glave says the kittens were discovered Thursday evening under the third rail of an above-ground express track in Brooklyn.

Glave says MTA workers and police officers removed the kittens in crates.

Earlier Thursday transit officials cut power to the B and Q lines in Brooklyn for more than an hour after reports the kittens were on the loose in the subway system.

Transit workers were dispatched onto the tracks to try to corral the kittens. And the kittens’ owner even tried using food to try to coax them out.”–NY Daily News

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50 Shades of Kraft: The Zesty Man Channels Mommy Porn

kraft-0614 kraft15n-5-web“We want to recognize our consumers as more than just moms but also as women and give her a campaign that has her view Kraft Salad Dressings in a whole new way,” a Kraft statement says.

Why do I feel that someone in the marketing department has been reading 50 Shades of Grey?  This cheesy campaign really is trying too hard– Shades of Fabio and “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”

Wonder if salad dressing stud is selling salad dressing?

Conservative group One Million Moms find Zesty man offensive and are boycotting Kraft.

Material Grill: Madonna’s New Gold Teeth

Madonna shows off her gold grills as she visits her Hard Candy Fitness Club in RomeHuh? There is no other explanation for this except the obvious one: Madge needs attention. Still waiting for her to join the Twitteratti . With her Mean Girl Diva wit, she’d be fun to follow. As for the dental display?
This is what 55 shouldn’t look like.article-0-1B66711D000005DC-132_634x797

Remembering Elvis: 1935-1977; ‘ A Little Less Conversation’

Elvis died 36 years ago,  today. Remember him by doing what he would have done: eat a cheeseburger and buy something you don’t need. ht_elvis_pepsi_ll_130730_wblog

Why Elvis Presley Never Really Died

Aug 16, 2013 12:00 AM EDT

Via The Daily Beast:

“The King died 36 years ago Friday. So why does he still strike such a chord in the age of Bieber and Gaga? Larry Durstin on the rocker’s divine message.

While the American media captures every move Justin Bieber makes, and news items one week old are treated as ancient history, Elvis Presley—who died 36 years ago today—remains nearly as popular as ever. Why?

Well, it’s not just because our popular culture idolizes its heroes to near-messianiac heights. That’s a given. No, at the heart of the Presley phenomenon is something much simpler and peculiarly American: dreaming big dreams and making those dreams come true.

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AP

In the final scene of the last non-documentary movie of his career, 1969’s Change of Habit, Presley is shown strumming away at a guitar in church while Mary Tyler Moore—playing a nun with a big decision to make—looked on. As Moore tries to make up her mind on which man to choose, the camera pans from Elvis to Jesus, then back and forth until the two images blend together.

That type of sledgehammer symbolism was as hard to ignore at the time as it is now, but even after decades of impersonators, sightings, and guided tours of Graceland, it is still impossible not to recognize Elvis as the quintessential Rock God.

In a collective unconscious sort of way, popular culture has a spiritual element to it. And although so many of us deify our musical icons and exhibit an almost religious devotion to them, I strongly favor the separation of Church and Presley. However, there is a striking similarity between the primary message of the early Elvis (’54-’56) and the one central to most of the great religious figures of history: change. That one can take the past, breathe new life into it, and with the promise of youth and open-mindedness, rebel against the steadfastly held morals of the day, and, ultimately, change the future.

To fully appreciate the influence of Presley on rock, it is absolutely critical to listen to the music of those first few years. He was not just some semi-talented white guy who ripped off infinitely more gifted black artists and was lavishly rewarded for his mediocrity. Elvis may have been many grotesque things in his life, but one thing he was not was a 1950s version of Vanilla Ice.

Just go back and listen to that early music. Listen to Elvis pump white-hot electricity into Big Boy Crudup’s “That’s All Right, Mama,” Wynonie Harris’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” and Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog.” Elvis could squeeze more juice than you can shake a stick at out of the classic “Milkcow Blues Boogie,” convey a pure unholy arrogance in his “Mystery Train” that was nowhere to be found in Little Junior Parker’s version, or deliver white-gospel-tinged ballads such as “Anyway You Want Me” like no one before or since. Musically, the early Presley was an astonishingly gifted alchemist—creating his revolutionary singing style by mixing black music with country and pop balladry.

His staggering singing talent, however, is only part of the Presley story. Consider for a moment the society that this comet exploded into in the mid-’50s. It was a culture nibbling on the genial jingoism of Norman Vincent Peale and being made somewhat uncomfortable by Adlai Stevenson. It was a stale, waist-up America, decked out in tuxes and tulle—a tasteful semi-corpse living behind white picket fences in houses stuffed with secrets, suffocating denial, and institutional racism and sexism. It was a society with absolutely nothing at stake, one that had taken up permanent residence in the spiritual ICU and where the accumulated hypocrisy of all the piled centuries since Paradise had rendered it ready to split in two.

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Young Elvis impersonators strike a pose during the junior Elvis lookalike contest at the 18th annual Parkes Elvis Festival, on January 9, 2010, marking the 75th birthday of the late US rock and roll icon Elvis Presley. (Amy Coopes/AFP/getty)

It was into this theater that Elvis, the “Hillbilly Cat” as he was called, strode with amused, defiant cool—his hips quivering a thousand times quicker than the CBS eye—and suddenly everything was at stake. Suddenly America was in the midst of a game of chicken, because Elvis was playin’ for keeps and takin’ his dreams very, very seriously. And, just as suddenly, so were those of us who listened to him. He was all erotic genius, both discovering and uncovering himself, his voice burning into the suburban bushes of Eisenhower’s America with otherwordly images of abandoned pleasures and back-alley thrills.

As an American Dream re-inventor, Elvis wasn’t lacking qualifications, not the least of which was volcanic ambition. Although he was the son of a dirt-poor sharecropper, he had roamed Memphis’s black Beale Street section studying his craft and spending his money on the kind of clothes that earned him the nickname “Memphis Flash.” He had also spent plenty of growing-up time listening to the gritty, vengeful last-shall-be-first message of white Pentecostal preachers holy-rollering around sawdust floors—scratching, clawing, and pleading for redemption.

Elvis literally scared the bejeezus out of racist, mid-’50s America.

His music bled menace and lust, but also tenderness and vulnerability and an overpowering romantic lyricism. He was all contradiction: the raunchy roadhouse rocker who loved mom and Jesus, the yes-sir/no-sir Southern boy with the swaggering carelessness, the smoldering sex symbol with the self-mocking smile. And, like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, he was all magnetism: “There was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life—as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.”  He was, and is, the stuff that American Dreamers are made of.

Sixties activist Abbie Hoffman said that Elvis killed Ike Eisenhower, and John Lennon said that before Elvis there was nothing and after Elvis there was everything. While these assertions are debatable, I do know for sure that when Elvis hit America in 1955, howling and gyrating like he had gulped down a jackhammer, the Hillbilly Cat was definitely out of the bag—and the world has never been the same.

Sadly, he spent his final few years eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, theorizing about visitors from other planets or how the Jews were running the world, and giving rambling interpretations of the Bible that make Pat Robertson seem like a secular humanist. By the end, he was aimlessly performing in front of primarily leisure-suited, beehived audiences who conjured in Elvis’s multi-rhinestoned visage a glamorized version of themselves. Finally he pill-popped himself into oblivion and disappeared into his own mythology—where he is still, from time to time, allegedly sighted in the flesh.

Sociologically and musically, the birth of rock and roll can be glibly explained away simply as a matter of some white guy coming along who could “sing black” and get the bobbysoxers to screech. But there is absolutely no way to ever fully and truly explain Elvis: the backwoods boy who brilliantly mixed the music of poor whites and poor blacks and literally scared the bejeezus out of racist, mid-’50s America, and whose charisma dwarfed any, and all, who succeeded him.

Just after Presley’s death on August 16, 1977, his Svengali-like manager, Col. Tom Parker, was asked for a comment. He said, “This doesn’t change anything.”

In a way the old cigar-chomping hustler was right, although I’m sure the colonel was referring to the amount of money he himself would still be making. But what will really never change and will remain forever magical are Elvis’s early, lightning-bolt musical performances which—like the words and deeds of every great political, cultural or spiritual revolutionary—simultaneously struck the deepest fears of some, like parents, preachers and teachers, and the secret dreams of others, like me. “–Larry Durstin

Larry Durstin is an independent journalist who has covered politics and sports for a variety of publications and websites over the past 20 years. He is the author of the novel, The Morning After John Lennon Was Shot.

Lost Film By Orson Welles Found, Restored; U.S. Premiere Oct. 16

Via NY Times:

“Early Film by Orson Welles Is Rediscovered

A.M.P.A.S.

A 23-year-old Orson Welles directing sequences for “Too Much Johnson,” a stage revival incorporating film, in Lower Manhattan around 1938. The show never made it to Broadway.In 1941, Orson Welles made his debut as a feature film director with “Citizen Kane,” a fact well known to everyone who has ever taken Film 101.

George Eastman House & Cineteca del Friuli

Arlene Francis with a photo of Joseph Cotten in a scene from “Too Much Johnson.”

George Eastman House & Cineteca del Friuli

A Manhattan chase scene.

George Eastman House & Cineteca del Friuli

Howard L. Smith, as the Cuban plantation owner Joseph Johnson.

George Eastman House & Cineteca del Friuli

Joseph Cotten, left, and Edgar Barrier.

Less well known is that “Kane” wasn’t Welles’s debut as a filmmaker. That distinction belongs to “Hearts of Age,” an eight-minute parody of an avant-garde allegory that Welles, as the world’s most precocious teenager, codirected with a friend, William Vance, at the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Ill. Amazingly, that 1934 effort, in which Welles wears old-age makeup that anticipates the elderly Kane, has survived, and can even be seen on YouTube.

But neither was “Kane” Welles’s first professional encounter with the cinema. That happened three years before his Hollywood debut, in the form of about 40 minutes of footage intended to be shown with “Too Much Johnson,” a revival of an 1894 farce that Welles intended to bring to Broadway for the 1938 season of his Mercury Theater.

The cast of “Too Much Johnson” included several members of his Mercury troupe: Joseph Cotten, Arlene Francis, Howard Smith, Edgar Barrier, Mary Wickes and Welles’s wife at the time, Virginia Nicholson, billed under her stage name, Anna Stafford. The music was composed by Paul Bowles (who later wrote “The Sheltering Sky”); legend has it that an aspiring comedian named Judith Tuvim, later Judy Holliday, was one of the extras.

For generations, Welles scholars have been intrigued by “Too Much Johnson,” which would seem to represent Welles’s first real experience composing a film to be seen by a paying public, with the support of a professional cast and a professional crew. But for over 50 years, no print had been known to exist.

Welles never quite finished editing the large amount of footage he shot for “Too Much Johnson,” and when the show folded out of town, after a disastrous preview in Stony Creek, Conn., he set the film aside and forgot about it.

Sometime in the 1960s, as Welles told Frank Brady for an article in the November 1978 issue of American Film, he came across the material again, in his villa in Spain. “I can’t remember whether I had it all along and dug it out of the bottom of a trunk, or whether someone brought it to me, but there it was,” Welles recalled. “I screened it, and it was in perfect condition, with not a scratch on it. It had a fine quality. Cotten was magnificent, and I immediately made plans to edit it and send it to Joe as a birthday present.”

Regrettably, while Welles was away for an acting job, a fire destroyed the villa and most of its contents. “Too Much Johnson,” which had been shot on highly inflammable nitrate stock, had apparently been lost to the ages.

But things have turned out otherwise. “Too Much Johnson” has reappeared — discovered not in Spain but in the warehouse of a shipping company in the northern Italian port city of Pordenone, where the footage had apparently been abandoned sometime in the 1970s. Old films turn up with some regularity under similar circumstances — independent filmmakers aren’t always known for promptly paying their storage bills — but because nitrate becomes even more dangerously unstable as it ages, the usual practice is to junk it as quickly as possible.

This time, though, the movie gods were smiling. Pordenone happens to be home to Cinemazero, a cultural organization that regularly screens classic films, and which each fall partners with the Cineteca del Friuli to present Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, a gathering of scholars and cinephiles with a special dedication to the shadowy corners of film history.

The Cinemazero staff realized what they’d found and turned the footage over to George Eastman House in Rochester, where the work of stabilizing the film and transferring it to modern safety stock is proceeding with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. “Too Much Johnson” is scheduled to have its premiere in Pordenone during this year’s festival, which begins on Oct. 5, and will be screened at Eastman House on Oct. 16. If the financing can be found, the foundation will offer the film over the Internet later in the year.

In the meantime, the frame enlargements from “Too Much Johnson” that have been released suggest a young filmmaker — Welles was all of 23 at the time — with a striking command of his medium. The images are unmistakably his, with their strong, close-cropped compositions, powerful diagonals and insistent, ironic use of the “heroic angle” — the positioning of the camera to look up at the actor as if he were a statue posed on a pedestal.

There are no heroes in “Too Much Johnson” — only a frantic womanizer from Yonkers named Augustus Billings (played by Cotten). Billings has been carrying on an extramarital indiscretion under the invented identity of the owner of a plantation in Cuba named Johnson — a figure who, inconveniently enough, actually exists, as Billings discovers when he arrives in Santiago, in the company of his wife (Nicholson), his mother-in-law (Wickes) and a jealous husband (Barrier).

Each act of the play — written by the celebrated actor William Gillette as a vehicle for himself — was to begin with a film segment. The first (and most nearly completed in the rediscovered print) was a chase across Lower Manhattan shot in the style of a silent comedy, complete with Keystone Kop-like pursuers, a suffragist parade to barrel through and Cotten tottering on the edge of a skyscraper like Harold Lloyd in “Safety Last.”

Working with Paul Dunbar, a cameraman with Pathé News, Welles shot a large amount of footage for “Too Much Johnson” — some 25,000 feet, nearly four hours’ worth — and apparently had a good time doing it. Home movies of the shoot, taken by a Mercury Theater investor and preserved in the Pacific Film Archive, show Welles wearing a battered straw hat and bellowing orders to his actors, who are splashing around in a flooded Hudson Valley rock quarry meant to represent the Caribbean. Laughing and animated, the slim, young Welles is clearly already under the spell of the apparatus he would call, at the time of “Kane,” “the biggest electric train set any boy ever had.”

For Simon Callow, the British actor, director and Welles biographer (“The Road to Xanadu”), the most important development came next, as Welles sequestered himself with an editing machine in his suite at the St. Regis in Manhattan in a frantic attempt to assemble the film in time for the play’s out-of-town tryout.

“The great thing that happened to him on ‘Too Much Johnson’ was that he discovered editing, and began to see the possibilities,” Mr. Callow wrote in an e-mail from London. “I suspect that at that point he suddenly lost interest in the production altogether and would have loved to have continued his celluloid self-education.”

The education ended abruptly. For reasons that remain unclear — perhaps because a few cast members complained to Actors Equity that they weren’t being paid enough to appear in a film; perhaps because the Connecticut theater couldn’t accommodate a movie projector — the prologue footage was scrapped. The play didn’t make much sense without it, and the decision was made not to take it to Broadway, much to Welles’s disappointment.

“He was a complete tyro,” Mr. Callow wrote, “discovering a new medium and unsure how it would work.”

Come October, we’ll at last be in a position to know if it did.”–Via NY Times

Oprah And Purse Profiling in Switzerland

First, why does anyone (yes, even Oprah) even want a $38,000 purse? That having been said, shame on the truly ignorant clerk who refused to show the 2Tom Ford Alligator Jennifer bag (named after Aniston)  to one of the world’s richest and most powerful dames. Winfrey didn’t do what any of us mere mortals would have done–namely,  ask the judgmental jerk to Google ‘Oprah Winfrey’ on her smart phone and then watch her squirm.

VIA Inquirer: “LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey says she’s sorry a media frenzy emerged after saying she experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland.

“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I’m really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland,” Winfrey said, speaking at the premier of Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.”

In recent interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” Winfrey recalled a clerk at an upscale Zurich boutique refusing to show her a handbag. Winfrey said she was told she could not afford the $38,000 purse.

“I’m in a store and the person doesn’t obviously know that I carry the black card, and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am,” said Winfrey, who earned $77 million in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.

“I didn’t have anything that said ‘I have money’: I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud. I didn’t have a pocketbook. I didn’t wear Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,” said Winfrey on the red carpet. “You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”

Mayor Mike And The E-Cig: Bloomberg’s Problem With Riskless Smoking

Riskless smoking is now cool and Bloomberg has a problem with it–proposing City Council legislation  that would regulate the e-cigs like tobacco. In Blooomberg speak, regulation likely = taxation. E-cigs are lifesavers for those who want to quit and the marketing is so savvy, non-smokers are even willing to give it a try. If Mike has his way,
E-smoking New Yorkers  will pay a lot more for their stop-smoking cure.  I’m not the seeing the logic here, since Bloomberg is famously
anti-smoking.