Blog Archives

Actor Michael Clark Duncan dead at age 54.

 

Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, and David Morse in “The Green Mile.”

Michael Clarke Duncan, the tall and massively built actor with the shaved head and deep voice who received an Academy Award nomination for his moving portrayal of a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama “The Green Mile,” died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He had suffered a heart attack in July and did not recover.

Duncan began his Hollywood employment history as a celebrity bodyguard in the mid-1990s. He received his first big acting break playing a member of the drilling team sent into space to blow up an asteroid heading to Earth in the big-budget 1998 movie “Armageddon,” starring Bruce Willis.

But it was “The Green Mile,” starring Tom Hanks as a death row prison guard in a Louisiana penitentiary during the Depression, that thrust the 6-foot-5, 300-plus-pound Duncan into the limelight. He portrayed John Coffey, a gentle giant with supernatural powers who has been sentenced to death for the murder of two young white girls.

Duncan credited acting coach Larry Moss with teaching him “how to dig within myself” for the heavily emotional crying scenes in the movie.

“I’m an emotional person, a very emotional person,” Duncan told the Chicago Tribune in 2000. “All those tears you see in the movie were mine.”

In 2002, two years after the Academy Awards ceremony, Duncan told the Orange County Register:

“Realistically, I didn’t think I would win the Oscar, but the nomination was a personal validation for me. It proved to me that I was a good actor. More important, it showed other people that I was a serious actor.”

Duncan later appeared in films such as “The Whole Nine Yards” (2000), “Planet of the Apes” (2001), “The Scorpion King” (2002) and “The Island” (2005). He also did voice work in films and television, including “Brother Bear” (2003) and “Kung Fu Panda” (2008).

(source:the LA Times)

 

Artist LeRoy Neiman dead at 91…

LeRoy Neiman died Wednesday evening at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

The 91-year-old artist painted everything from U.S. presidents to jazz musicians to the powerful animals of Africa… but he was best known for his bright, bold sketches of the sports world, capturing its motion and emotion in his brushstrokes.

He was named official artist of the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid and in Sarajevo as well as the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. His powerful imagery of the boxing ring, including fight posters and program covers for the historic Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights, earned him a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007. He was so closely identified with the world of boxing that actor/director Sylvester Stallone tapped Neiman to appear in four of his “Rocky” movies.

Neiman taught at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago for 10 years early in his career before gaining recognition as a contributing artist for Playboy in the 1950s.

Staying true to his style, Neiman’s public persona was as almost as colorful as his artwork.

“I guess I created LeRoy Neiman,” the artist once said, according to the biography on his website. “Nobody else told me how to do it. Well, I’m a believer in the theory that the artist is as important as his work.”

Rodney King Dead at 47

Rodney King, whose videotaped beating by four police officers eventually sparked violent riots in Los Angeles two decades ago, was found dead in his swimming pool by his fiance, Cynthia Kelly. She called 911 at 5:25 am after discovering his body.

King was thrust into the national spotlight in March 1991 after a videotaped assault at the hands of the LAPD made headlines. Four officers were charged with King’s assault  and with exessive use of force. Their acquittal on April 29, 1992 led to intense riots in Los Angeles, resulting in 53 deaths.

King fought a life-long battle with alcoholism, and had periodic run-ins with the law since the 1991 incident.

The Plastic Bag…

Elly and I went to Martin’s without our cloth shopping bags, so, of course, we were trapped into plastic bags.

Makes you think of the great Mockumentary narrated by Jeremy Irons:

It’s hard to know what to say… Andrew Breitbart, enemy of most of us who support Obama and the Rational Left, is dead at 43.

From the LA Times:

The conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, the polarizing website publisher who once helped edit the Drudge Report and found his way to tea-party stardom in recent years and exposed the story of the sexually explicit tweets of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), suddenly collapsed near his Westwood home early Thursday morning and died. He was 43.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center suspected his death was due to natural causes, Breitbart’s father-in-law, actor Orson Bean, told The Times.

“He was walking near the house somewhere…. He was taken by paramedics to UCLA and they couldn’t revive him,” said Bean, who spoke with his daughter, Susannah Bean Breitbart, about what happened.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed it will investigate the case, given how young Breitbart was.

Breitbart was a Hollywood-hating, mainstream-media-loathing conservative, and shot to stardom with two stories in recent years: breaking the story over the sexually charged tweets by Weiner, a scandal that led to his resignation; and posting a video of Shirley Sherrod, a black employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in which she appeared to make racially charged comments, leading to her firing and then a subsequent apology by the Obama administration when it was later revealed her comments were taken out of context.

This will certainly ease an element of the election situation this year.

It puts the thought in my head that maybe there IS a God. Or maybe Rush Limbaugh could go out and walk around his house, too.

Breitbart was no respecter of the maxim that one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead: After the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009, he spewed venom all over the liberal lion’s grave via Twitter, calling him a “special pile of human excrement,” a “villain” and other things we can’t reprint on a family website. So I don’t have any qualms about remembering Breitbart, who died suddenly Thursday at 43, as a closed-minded bully and blowhard who seemed to think he could win debates by shouting louder than his opponent rather than having a better argument, a casual liar who shamelessly destroyed reputations and an unfortunate new species of Internet parasite.

–Dan Turner, LA Times Staff

I guess  agree. I just don’t feel bad.

Very Early Zappa… after the Watts Riots

In 1966 before Zappa and The Mothers ( before they became the Mothers of Invention after signing their contract with Verve Records) came out with the Freak Out album, they recorded a song based on the Watts Riots called Trouble Coming Every Day (later renamed to Trouble Every Day.)

He later added it to the Freak Out album.

Here it is:

Lyrics:

Well I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friend
Is anybody’s guess

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin‘ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Wednesday I watched the riot . . .
Seen the cops out on the street
Watched ’em throwin’ rocks and stuff
And chokin’ in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whisky passin’ ’round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin’ down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Well, you can cool it,
You can heat it . . .
‘Cause, baby, I don’t need it . . .
Take your TV tube and eat it
‘N all that phony stuff on sports
‘N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begin to hurt
From checkin’ out the way
The newsman say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so

And further they assert
That any show they’ll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They will be the first to tell,
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin’ hard and doin’ swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can’t be beat
And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They’ll send some joker with a brownie
And you’ll see it all complete

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Hey, you know something people?
I’m not black
But there’s a whole lots a times
I wish I could say I’m not white

Well, I seen the fires burnin’
And the local people turnin’
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite ’em
And they say it served ’em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it’s the same across the nation
Black and white discrimination
Yellin’ “You can’t understand me!”
‘N all that other jazz they hand me
In the papers and TV and
All that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don’t appeal to him
(No matter if it’s black or white)
Because he’s out for blood tonight

You know we got to sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many live
To see it really end
‘Cause the fire in the street
Ain’t like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don’t you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now’s the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain’t no Great Society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn’t free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Just won’t amount to nothin’ more
Gonna watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor

Pages and pages of Spam… where do these people come from?

No-spam

It's not just for lunch any more.

There’s been an increase lately in the amount of Spam comments Under The LobsterScope is drawing… from all over the globe. Aside from the usual rush of porn services and Christian dating organizations which seem to want to play with my little atheist life, I’m getting a ton of relatively meaningless post which re really designed to get people to click on their sources, thus providing free advertising for all kinds of services, legal or spurious.

The software I use to eliminate the Spammers from the legitimate list of commentors is working just fine, thanks, but it is at times when I go away from the blog for a stretch, as I did overnight, that they tend to build up in the “check me” area (which I usually ignore.)

Here are some samples I discovered this morning (without providing any source addresses):

I’m extremely impressed along with your writing talents and also with the format on your blog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to peer a great blog like this one nowadays..
(linked to a detail picture I ran almost a year ago of Los Angeles’  Watts Towers)

This is my own first time i really visit here. I found so many interesting stuff into your blog, most definitely its chat. From the a ton of comments for your articles, I’m assuming I am not the only one having every one of the enjoyment right! Keep up the good work.
(linked to another picture I ran almost a year ago of the Watts Towers)

Submit could be very well composed, and never forgetting to mention that it can be incredibly informative at the same time. Kudos for you for that excellent career well accomplished there!
(from someone who is selling a self-improvement program at his site looking for free advertising)

Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!
(sent from someone in Gdansk… is that near Austin? BTW, also a response to a Watts Tower Detail from months ago.)

Aside from an unusual idea that if they link to a picture or article on the Watts Towers I’ll let them run their merry scam… thus telling me that their prime target is someone searching for California tourist info… The fact that they assume outrageous compliments to my posts will get them “under the rabbit fence”, so to speak, implies that they see my ego as attackable.

It’s not.

They also have a major lack of mastery of English (which is why so many of them seem to be coming from Russia or Poland… not to mention the ones with Chinese characters that are unreadable to me or my ID software and are thus automatically eliminated.

I assume most of this stuff is coming from automatically generated lists based on key words… I can’t imagine someone is actually wasting real, personal time trying to trick me into running their dreck. Although is someone really wants to use UTL as a vehicle for garbage promotion, I sure wish they would reconsider.

The Political Quote of the Day… or at least the Afternoon…

By now you’ve heard the news that Newt Gingrich, who returned from a cruise vacation in the Greek Islands and then went to New Hampshire… not to campaign but to promote a documentary made with his wife, had his whole campaign staff walk out on him this afternoon (at last count, 16 people.)

Gingrich’s campaign manager Rob Johnson, strategists Sam Dawson and Dave Carney, spokesman Rick Tyler, and consultants Katon Dawson in South Carolina and Craig Schoenfeld in Iowa all quit to protest what one called a “different vision” for the campaign.

But don’t start thinking that just because the people closest to him don’t want to work with him anymore means Newt is going to stop campaigning – here is his statement posted on his Facebook page:

“I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring. The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.”

So who is he going to be campaigning with? At the very least, this took Anthony Weiner, who says he will NOT resign, off the front page.

Western Spaghetti

It’s been a long time since I showed one of the great animations by PES. This is one of my favorites:

I needed this… the government is making me depressed and this lets me know that the real world is in our minds.

Getting our minds off Libya, Wisconsin and Japan for awhile: Are you looking for a cushy job?

You could be the Aflac Duck‘s new voice. Really. I just ran across this in an article in Salon.

Aflac is auditioning voices to find the one that will replace the fired Gilbert Gottfried…and you could be the one.

All you have to do is record an audition piece and get it e-mailed to Aflac at http://www.quackaflac.com/applyonline by April Fool’s Day.

Here are the guidelines:

* Submitted by 11:59pm PST on Friday 4/1
* No more than 30 seconds long
* 10MB or smaller
* File name includes your first and last names
* Is a standard file format:
o Audio: mp3, wav, midi, wma, mpa, mp2, m2a, ra
o Video: mov, qt, mpeg, mpg, wmv, rmvb, rm, avi, m4a, mp4, m4v

Note: Although I spent a little time during my job search period selling Aflac some years ago, I have no relationship, economic or otherwise, to these auditions. I assume Salon doesn’t either. I will be entering, however.

Good luck!

Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79…

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor has died in Los Angeles of heart complications.  Born in Hampstead, a wealthy district of North West London, the second child of Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and Sara Viola Warmbrodt (1895–1994), who were Americans residing in England.

Her parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas. Her father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress whose stage name was ‘Sara Sothern’. Sothern retired from the stage when she and Francis Taylor married in 1926 in New York City.

A dual citizen of the UK and the U.S., she was born a British subject through her birth on British soil and an American citizen through her parents.

Taylor was famous for her films (many, such as National Velvet, Cleopatra, A Place In The Sun and others), for eight marriages (two to Richard Burton) and for her campaigning against HIV and AIDS.

She won her 2 Best Actress Academy Awards for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

In her long career from child actress to Hollywood Icon, Taylor passed away at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in LA.

David Nelson Dead at 74…

From NPR:


David Nelson, who starred on his parents’ popular television show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, died Tuesday, a family spokesman said. He was 74.

Nelson died at his home in the Century City area of Los Angeles after battling complications of colon cancer, said family spokesman and longtime Hollywood publicist Dale Olson.

Nelson was the last remaining member of the Nelsons TV family, which included actor/bandleader Ozzie, his singer wife, Harriet Hilliard and his teen idol brother Rick. The show originated on radio in 1952 as “Here Come the Nelsons, then ran for 320 episodes on TV from 1952 to 1966 as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet with some of the story lines taken from the stars’ own lives. David Nelson also directed and produced numerous episodes of the show throughout its run.

The show was shot in the Nelson family home in the Hollywood foothills, which remains a popular attraction for visitors on Hollywood celebrity bus tours.

Born in New York City, David attended Hollywood High School and the University of Southern California.

A Zappadan view of Frank and what he stood for…

Boy, I miss Frank.

Let’s start with his comments on Crossfire when he made sure people realize that we shouldn’t censor “words”:

…and we’ll top that off with Frank’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”:

Did I say I missed Frank? I’ll bet Robert Plant misses him, too.

Stats on California from this morning’s LA Times…

Looks like Jerry Brown is going to be Governor again…
clipped from www.latimes.com
Jerry Brown’s lead doubles in a month; little change in Senate race

Defections from Meg Whitman‘s ranks on the part of women, Latinos and nonpartisan voters have fueled a surge by Jerry Brown in the race for governor, according to a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll.

 

The shift comes after a tumultuous month for the Republican candidate that has led some voters to question her veracity and her handling of accusations by an illegal immigrant housekeeper.

 

Brown, the Democratic attorney general and former governor, led Whitman 52% to 39% among likely voters, the poll found. His advantage has more than doubled since a Times/USC poll in September.
The abrupt movement in the race for governor came as Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer held onto her 8-point margin over Republican Carly Fiorina in the U.S. Senate contest. Boxer’s 50% to 42% lead was statistically unchanged from September’s 51% to 43% edge.
blog it

‘Ferris Bueller’ Star Jeffrey Jones Pleads Guilty

Findlaw.com, the legal news blo, posted this yesterday…I just found it. Go to Findlaw for the whole article:
clipped from blogs.findlaw.com
Jeffrey Jones is best known for his role as an over the top principal in the cult classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He also starred in Beetlejuice and Ed Wood. In between his acting jobs, Jones added a new credit to his name: sex offender. Now, ABC News reports that Jeffrey Jones plead guilty to failing to update his sex offender status.
In 2003, Jones plead no contest in a case that charged the actor with “employing a teenage boy to pose for sexual explicit photos.” As part of his sentence, Jones was required to register as a sex offender, and as is the case with every sex offender he was required to keep his information updated every year.
The Los Angeles judge ordered the 64 year-old Jones to 250 hours of community service and three years probation for failing to update his information. The punishment represents the importance of keeping sex offender registration information current, and how seriously courts take the offense.
blog it

Art Clokey, Creator of Gumby, Dead at 89…

clipped from www.artknowledgenews.com
Animator Art Clokey, whose bendable creation Gumby
became a pop culture phenomenon through decades of toys, revivals and satires,
died Friday. He was 89.
Clokey, who suffered from repeated bladder
infections, died in his sleep at his home in Los Osos on California’s Central
Coast, son Joseph told the Los Angeles Times. Gumby grew out of a student
project Clokey produced at the University of Southern California in the early
1950s called “Gumbasia.” That led to his making shorts featuring Gumby
and his horse friend Pokey for the “Howdy Doody Show” and several series through
the years.
He said he based Gumby’s swooping head on the
cowlick hairdo of his father, who died in a car accident when Clokey was nine.
And Clokey’s wife suggested he give Gumby the body of a gingerbread man. Clokey
said that though Gumby eventually became one of the most familiar toys of all
time, he was at first resistant to roll out the bendable doll.

Eddie Murphy brought a surge in Gumby’s popularity in the 1980s with his send-up of the character on “Saturday Night Live” as a cigar-smoking show business primadonna.

Clokey said he enjoyed Murphy’s profane Gumby.