He was, quite probably, the most popular and beloved movie star of them all. More than that, he was an American icon- ranking with Washington, Lincoln and Davy Crockett.
John Wayne's last film was to be The Shootist. Actual figures vary because Wayne did so many obscure films early in his career, but it was around his 175th film. Co-starring Ron Howard and Lauren Bacall, Wayne's director was Don Siegel.
Wayne had hated and insulted Siegel back in earlier days, when someone mistakenly told him Siegel was a communist. John was a virulent anti-commie, but he found out that the rumor was untrue. He approached Siegel and said, “Kid, I owe you an apology".
Wayne had lived a very full life (an understatement!) and his 70-year-old body was quickly breaking down. The filming was very unsteady, due to the Duke's bad health. He had trouble breathing and there was an oxygen talk on the set for him to take breaths. There were bad coughing spells and Wayne missed several days shooting, necessitating the use of a double.
Wayne, like so many people in great pain, was moody, angry and often hostile. One day he blew up at the cameraman, bawling him out for not filming right and not paying enough attention to "lighting." Siegel then angrily told Wayne to leave the cameraman alone and take a look at the dailies (the previous day's footage). John did come in and watch the dailies and he was pleasantly surprised. "That's the best damn film of me I've ever seen. I love you and i hope you'll forgive me,” he said.
Unfortunately, The Shootist was a massive flop, grossing less than $6 million domestically. Wayne, not broke, but in need of money, was now forced to star in TV commercials- something he never did before. He filmed commercials for "Datril" (an aspirin subsitute) and "Great Western Savings & Loan."
The Duke had said, “Two lousy, crooked business managers done me in.” Wayne's bad investments had cost him a fortune. He was somewhat bitter, knowing that he deserved to be much more well-off after all the years of performing he'd put in.
He was, quite probably, the most popular and beloved movie star of them all. More than that, he was an American icon- ranking with Washington, Lincoln and Davy Crockett.
Jean-Michel Claverie and Chantal Abergel led a team of scientists into Siberia to look for frozen viruses. A soil sample they took from the permafrost 100 feet underground has yielded a previously-unknown virus that will still infect cells, even after being frozen for somewhere between 34,000 and 37,000 years! The virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, is also extremely large: 1.5 micrometers, which can be seen with a regular microscope. That’s up to 100 times larger than the average virus.
It poses no danger to humans, because it exclusively infects single-celled organisms called amoebae—something the scientists discovered when they revived the microbe from its inert virion form by warming it up and putting it in a petri dish with live amoebae. Once revived, the virus entered the amoebae cells, hijacked the cells' metabolic machinery to create many copies of itself, and split the cells open, killing them and freeing itself to infect further cells.
Previously-known giant viruses also infect amoebae, likely because of how easy it is to enter them. Amoebae feed through phagocytosis, using their cellular membranes to engulf particles and organisms; for a giant virus to get inside an amoeba, all it has to do it let itself be engulfed. Because most human and other animals cells don't engulf particles in this way, viruses that infect us generally have to use more complex entry methods, which prohibit such an enormous size.
How can a virus stay dormant so long and come back to life? Because viruses are not exactly what we normally call “living.” They exist on the line between how we define living and non-living things. They can reproduce, but they do not have their own equipment to do it -rather, they must hijack a living cell in order to harness the cell’s energy and replicate their DNA. Viruses: truly weird and getting weirder. And even though this “new” old virus cannot infect humans, who is to say there aren’t other viruses that can, frozen in the earth, just waiting to re-activate someday? Read more about the frozen giant virus Pithovirus sibericum at Smithsonian.
(Image credit: Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel, IGS and CNRS-AMU)
Warning: this will make you feel ancient. Dial phones were replaced by push-button phones when these kids’ parents were children (although that wasn’t universal -remember when we had to pay an extra fee for touchtone service?), so it’s no surprise they don’t know how to use them. But when you hear them try to figure out how to send a text on a rotary phone, it strikes home how different the world they are growing up in really is.
My older daughter found a rotary phone in vendor's mall a few years ago and asked me to show her how it was used. Every step was totally new to her. Then she wanted to buy it and use it! I said no, because we'd then have to get landline service. Would that even work these days? -via Metafilter
The guys from Epic Meal Time enlisted the manliest man they could find for a manly sandwich segment. Arnold Schwarzenegger cooks steak and ostrich eggs on the hot surface of his personal tank. And then we get to see Arnold’s buns -just not the same way we did in the Terminator movies. This is a promo for a charity raffle in which the winner gets to cook an Epic Meal. Proceeds benefit Arnold’s After-School All-Stars program. -via Viral Viral Videos
The record-breaking selfie that Ellene DeGeneres took at the Academy Awards Sunday night has another honor: it’s been rendered in LEGO bricks! Master LEGO artist Ochre Jelly (Iain Heath) must’ve started on this one immediately. Look how authentic it is -even the facial expressions are spot on!
Ellen told everyone to "retweet" her Oscars selfie.
I thought she said "rebuild" it ...in LEGO.
Fernando Livschitz of Black Sheep Films produced a fantasy world in which robots and other windup toys of various sizes roam the streets of Beunos Aires. The film makes such sights seem both normal and altogether silly at the same time. And now I wish I had some windup toys like these… small size, of course. -via the Presurfer
Artist Charis Tsevis (previously at Neatorama) makes beautiful images out of all kinds of media you wouldn't normally associate with art. He has a series of works made from colorful electronic wires.
Isn't that right? We are living in a wired world. No matter how wireless technologies have developed, every room in our homes has at least something like 8 plugs. I have 24 in my office. So many cables, so many lines that transfer electricity and data. I am amazed by this networked, wired world.
In this set of work I have collected 6 illustrations created for 5 clients during the last 2 years. All of them have to do with the relationship between the network and the human body and spirit. Even the lion one is mainly metaphoric. Hope you like them.
A little girl named Lara practices to become the musical director of this church choir in Kyrgyzstan someday. From her careful movements and her passion for the music, it probably won’t be as long as you might think! -via Daily Picks and Flicks
The caption of this image at imgur says, “As a European this is how I imagine Americans have breakfast.” Americans were quick to set the record straight, because there are certain inaccuracies in the meal. There aren’t any hash browns, grits, biscuits and gravy, or pancakes. There is only one egg in this picture, and the coffee should be black. Also, where’s the jelly for the toast? And the gun should be turned the other way, making it easier for a right-handed person to pick up. That’s the trouble with European stereotypes about Americans -they are too mild for our tastes. -via John Walkenbach
Captain Dave Anderson caught beautiful aerial views of dolphins and whales with a quadcopter drone camera. First you’ll see a thousands of dolphins moving across the ocean’s surface together off Dana Point, California. Then there are three gray whales near San Clemente, California. Finally, we get to see a humpback whale mother with her newborn calf, filmed off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.
Anderson, of Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari, is a 20-year veteran of the whale watching business, and cautions others not to try this without ocean experience and unless you know the laws regarding interaction with sea creatures. He posted the story of how he got this footage at the YouTube page. -via Digg
Here’s lovely garden of cacti and succulents, on the tops of cupcakes! Alana Jones-Mann made them, and will show you how you can do it yourself. Make your favorite cupcakes, cover them in a bed of “sand,” and mix up some cactus-colored icing. Of course, you’ll do this to impress people, but warn the person who grabs the tall cactus about the toothpick inside that keeps it upright. But if your guests think they are too pretty to eat, your job is done, and you can eat them yourself later! -via Blazenfluff
These shapes certainly look familiar to Star Trek fans, and even the Shat. This is a picture of sand dunes on the surface of Mars, in an image taken by the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Technically, they’re called barchan dunes. They can form when the wind blows predominantly from one direction. If there’s an obstacle, like a big rock or small hill, the wind will blow around the obstacle, the same way water flows around a rock. Sand will pile up on the leading edge and also be swept around to the backside. Eddies in the wind create circular currents on the downwind side, building up walls of sand on the sides and creating that horseshoe crab-like appearance.
Phil Plait explains more about barchan dunes at Bad Astronomy.
(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
(Image credit: Anton Croos)
Ig Nobel Achievements distilled into limerick form
by Martin Eiger, Improbable Research Limerick Laureate
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think. For details of all the Ig Nobel Prize--winning achievements, see each year's special Ig Nobel issue of the magazine, and also see the winner's list.
2010 Ig Nobel Biology Prize
Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, U.K., for scientifically documenting fellatio in fruit bats.
REFERENCE: "Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time," Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang and Libiao Zhang, PLoS ONE, vol. 4, no. 10, p. e7595.
It was bad. We were both nervous wrecks.
Was there hope for us, me and my ex?
Had we learned, I intuit,
From how fruit bats do it,
She and I would have had better sex.
2010 Ig Nobel Engineering Prize
Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, U.K., and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter.
There’s a case before the Supreme Court about political speech and how truthful it must be. It’s a sticky issue, as it pits freedom of speech against an informed public, and who is to decide how truthful a statement is, anyway? P.J. O’Rourke wrote an amicus brief on behalf of The Cato Institute stretching the points of the arguments into satire.
The question is: “Can a state government criminalize political statements that are less than 100% truthful?” The actual argument begins on page eight of the pdf (page 2 of the document).
In modern times, “truthiness”—a “truth” asserted “from the gut” or because it “feels right,” without regard to evidence or logic5 —is also a key part of political discourse. It is difficult to imagine life without it, and our political discourse is weakened by Orwellian laws that try to prohibit it.
After all, where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America? Voters have to decide whether we’d be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment and that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular-humanist professors of Chicano studies.
The rest of it is just as funny, and would be even funnier to those more familiar with constitutional law. It includes plenty of examples of political prevarication, slander, and mud-slinging from history. -via Metafilter
Can you believe it’s been 30 years since This Is Spinal Tap was released? Many folks just did not understand the movie at first, because it was very much like actual documentaries on the rock bands that played at big stadiums throughout the 1970s, yet the faces were somewhat familiar: Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. The subtle humor mocked the excess and cluelessness of real rock stars so well that many thought they were a real band. And then they became an actual band, releasing albums and going on concert tours, which didn’t help the misunderstanding.
7. THE FILM HIT TOO CLOSE TO HOME FOR MANY FAMOUS MUSICIANS.
“We do love that, the musicians who have said, ‘Man, I can't watch Spinal Tap, it’s too much like my life,’” Harry Shearer says in John Kenneth Muir’s book, Best in Show: The Films of Christopher Guest and Company. “That's the highest compliment of all. It beats all the Oscar nominations we never got.” It’s a compliment the movie’s cast and crew hear quite often. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Eddie Vedder, and Dee Snider are just a few of the musicians who have referenced similarities between their own lives and the movie’s plot.
8. IT MADE TOM WAITS AND THE EDGE CRY.
Tom Waits once said that when he watched the film for the first time, he cried because of its realism. The Edge shared a similar sentiment in 2005, when U2 was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “It's so hard to keep things fresh, and not to become a parody of yourself,” the legendary guitarist told the crowd of onlookers. “And if you've ever seen that movie Spinal Tap, you will know how easy it is to parody what we all do. The first time I ever saw it, I didn't laugh. I wept. I wept because I recognized so much and so many of those scenes.”
But the film grew over the years, and is now a fan favorite. Read all 15 things at mental_floss.
In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, I did not miss a Batman comic (Superman, either), and even if I didn’t part with the 15 cents to take one home, I read them all through at the supermarket while mom shopped.
But since then, a lot has changed in the DC universe, and I read this comic from the top, hoping to catch some insight into Bruce Wayne and company that I should know. By the time I got to the bottom, it became clear that some things never change. Comic by Julia Lepetit and Andrew Bridgman at Dorkly.
Jimmy Kimmel brought us the star-studded Bitman Begins based on the internet video Charlie Bit My Finger. Continuing the series of feature films based on internet memes, Ameowadeus is a parody of the 1984 film Amadeus based on several memes you will recognize as they appear. This one stars Kevin Spacey, Christoph Waltz, Gary Oldman, Ben Kingsley, Abbie Cornish, Mandy Patinkin, and Jimmy Kimmel. With such big names included in these skits, you have to wonder how long they’ve been working on this idea. -via Tastefully Offensive
An interactive U.S. map by Brian Lee Yung Rowe traces the geographic popularity of 29,000 names over the past century. That’s an awful lot of data to track!
I entered my own given names and watched as they faded into obscurity over time since 1949. Keep your eye on the year; depending on the available information, the years may skip ahead quickly. I put my grandchild’s name in and had apparently hit one that didn’t rank among the 29,000. Maybe it was because I spelled it in the traditional way. So I reentered it with the weird 21st-century spelling and got results starting at 2003. Sigh. Read more about the map at io9.
How nice of Groot to give a weapon to Rocket Raccoon! See, there is camaraderie and selflessness even in an alien plant monster. This clever mashup of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was drawn by Isaac Goodhart. See the original at his DeviantART page. -via Daily of the Day
Daisy and Cooper are living a dog’s life. They got an ice cream cone from McDonalds! But they have to share it with each other. According to established protocol, Daisy always gets to lick the ice cream first. You may be able to figure out why pretty easily, but you’ll still giggle when it happens. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Working on the premise that feature films of the future will be based on internet memes more often than books, Jimmy Kimmel Live! put together a trailer for a blockbuster movie based on the hit video Charlie Bit My Finger. Chris Hemsworth and Liam Hemsworth star as the brothers, with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep added to make sure the film would be in contention for an Oscar. It could happen. It beats basing movies on board games.
Another parody trailer is based on two viral videos: David After Dentist and Double Rainbow. You can see that one at Viral Viral Videos.
Ellen DeGeneres ran around the audience at the Academy Awards ceremony last night, taking selfies with the movie stars. At one point, a bunch of them scrambled to get in the picture together. DeGeneres sent this Tweet around 9PM. With 2.4 million retweets, it broke the record. And caused Twitter to go down for a short while. This is what it looked like.
See more of the selfie-fest at The Wire.
Update: and the Photoshops began instantly. Here's a roundup of the best so far. You can't beat that last one, I don't think.
We’ve had many posts on Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, but can you ever know too much about the man who taught you to read? Flavowire has a collection of trivia that includes some things that you’ve either never heard before or may have forgotten. You knew he had no children, right? But he had an imagination like no one else.
While there were no children in the Seuss clan, he did make up imaginary little ones to brag about when his friends boasted about theirs. “Chrysanthemum Pearl” was probably the “daughter” he discussed the most. She was precocious imaginary child, capable of making “the most delicious oyster stew with chocolate frosting and flaming Roman candles.” Other mythical kids included Norval, Wally, Wickersham, and Thnud. Geisel even signed their names on the family holiday cards.
Geisel found it tiresome and difficult to answer the question: “Where do your ideas come from?” He responded in a very Seussian way: “I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.”
The following is an article from Uncle John's Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader.
Do you like electronic music? Then raise your glass and drink a toast to Thaddeus Cahill.
In 1893 an inventor from Washington, D.C. named Thaddeus Cahill was experimenting with telephone transmissions when he had a novel idea: He noticed that when an electric generator, or dynamo, sent current down a phone line, it created a tone in the earpiece. And different frequencies of current created different tones. Cahill quickly realized that if he had 12 dynamos -each corresponding to a note on the scale- he could send music over phone lines. He spent the next four years perfecting the idea, and in 1897 received a patent for the telharmonium, not only the world’s first significant electric musical instrument -but the first one that could be potentially heard by thousands of people at once.
Think about it: At the time (and for all time before that) if you wanted to listen to live music, you had to be within hearing distance of the person playing the instrument. The phonograph was becoming popular -but that was recorded music. And the popularity of the radio was decades away. Cahill envisioned hiring serious musicians to play “respectable” music, such as Bach and Chopin, on his telharmonium, and sending it over phone lines to restaurants, hotels, and other paying subscribers -even individuals- miles away.
HOW IT WORKED
The telharmonium (or the dynamophone, as Cahill sometimes called it) was basically a giant electric organ. It had two keyboards -one on top of the other- and hundreds of wires running to generators, transformers, and various other electrical parts that sent current down the line. And to magnify the sound, he called for large paper cones that could be fixed to the earpieces of telephones (the precursor to the loudspeaker).
* When the telharmonium was turned on, an electric motor turned turned the shafts of the 12 dynamos, known as “tone shafts.”
* Each dynamo had a four-foot-long metal shaft packed with metal disks (picture a barbell packed with weights). The disks, or “tone wheels,” had different numbers of differently-sized teeth on their edges. As they rotated past the coil, the teeth would produce varying frequencies of electricity, which would, in turn, produce different notes.
* Pressing a key moved a magnetic coil -the pickup- toward one of the tone wheels, creating an electrical charge -and a tone- that would then be sent down phone line.
Take some inspiration from the Winter Olympics, tons of snow, and a large helping of elbow grease, and you can create a snow run that will win you the Dad of the Year award! Jay Venini built a luge out of snow in his backyard in Northport on Long Island. Man, this looks like a lot of fun! It appears to be designed for the mass and speed of those under 12 or so, but there are plenty of them around. And Venini’s children are suddenly the most popular kids in Long Island. -via Buzzfeed
In prison, tattoos can help protect an inmate by displaying his gang allegiance and by making him look more intimidating. But it doesn’t help a bit when he’s back on the outside trying to get a job. Fixing that problem is exactly the mission Dr. David Ores found for himself. Ores is a medical doctor and a tattoo enthusiast, and dedicates his time to helping low-income patients.
A few years ago, Ores bought a giant laser and started charging people to remove their tattoos. The work began as a lucrative sideline to help underwrite services for his low-income clients. A complete erasure can require up to a dozen sessions and cost $3,000. Not long after, one of Dr. Ores’ colleagues asked him for a favor. A friend, a former gang member, was desperate for a job, but the tops of his fingers were tattooed with the words “BABY CRIP,” a deal breaker for most employers. The man wanted the tattoo erased, but couldn’t afford the treatment. Ores volunteered to remove it for free. Soon, Ores was offering his services gratis to any former gang member or inmate with a tattoo on his face, hands or neck—places that couldn’t be easily obscured by clothing. Now, people come to him seeking to change their lives. In canceling out a man’s marks, the doctor is midwife to a new identity.
Ores is so dedicated to his tattoo-removal patients that he has a series of numbers tattooed on his arm showing the various phases of removal, to help him explain the process to patients. Read about Dr. Ores and his patients, the full-face tattooed ex-cons, the battered women with ownership tats, and those who just regret their past decisions, at Narratively. -via The Week
(Image credit: Per Liljas)
Just what we needed: A parody of the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Star Trek character and everyone’s favorite Klingon, Worf! Worf shows all his manliness (and Klingon-ness), his stoicism, his badassery, and his partying side all at once. It just goes to show that Worf should have his own movie, don’t you think? I’d go to the theater for that one. -via Tastefully Offensive
The Golden Raspberry Awards, affectionately known as the Razzies, are always bestowed the night before the Academy Awards. This year’s award ceremony was held last night at Ignited Spaces in Hollywood. The Worst Picture Razzie went to Movie 43, a star-studded flop that also won the awards for Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. Movie 43 had 13 directors and 19 writers. That’s a lot of statuettes.
Tying with 43, and also "winning" 3 gold spray-painted trophies, was the Will and Jaden Smith sci-fi fiasco After Earth. Dad Will Smith took Worst Supporting Actor, son Jaden was named Worst Lead Actor, and the combination of father & son, described in the ceremony as being "stranded on Planet Nepotism", took the award for Worst Screen Combo.
Rounding out the names read when the envelopes were torn were: Tyler Perry (in drag) as Worst Actress for his 8th time playing the cross-dressing character in A Madea Christmas; Kim Kardashian in Tyler Perry's Temptation as Worst Supporting Actress; and the year's biggest box office bomb, a $250 million "reboot" of The Lone Ranger (on which Disney took a $200 million tax write off) which was chosen as Worst Remake/Rip-Off or Sequel.
The winners and all the nominees can be found at the Razzies official website.
Even though German-born beauty Rainer was nominated for Best Actress for her work in The Good Earth, she stayed home the night of the ceremony in 1938—because she’d won the Best Actress statue the year before (for The Great Ziegfeld), and she figured there was no way she’d win two years in a row. But when word got out during the ceremony that indeed she was going to win again (the names of winners were released to the press), studio honcho Louis B. Mayer sent someone to pick up Rainer and quickly bring her to the ceremony. With no time to even apply makeup, Rainer accepted her award in her nightgown—which was high-necked, long-sleeved, and, fortunately, gorgeous. "It was the nicest dress I owned," said Rainer
Sadly, winning back-to-back Oscars was not a good omen for Rainer’s career and she retired from Hollywood soon after winning her second Academy Award (although she made one last movie in 1943 to fulfill her contract). Luise Rainer is 104 years old, the oldest surviving Oscar winner. You might enjoy looking through the entire slideshow of historic Oscar fashions at Elle. -via a comment at Jezebel
(Luise Rainer image credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
Success! Your email has been sent!