Archive for the ‘Hero’ Category
The founder of the once-renegade movie site, who earned the admiration of Peter Jackson and Steve Jobs, is struggling for money and relevance in the wild media landscape he helped to create.
This story first appeared in the April 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter  magazine.
It was July 2012, and Harry Knowles was working up a sweat. Eighteen months earlier, the creator-owner-figurehead of Ain’t It Cool News collapsed and had back surgery to treat the effects of spinal stenosis, a chronic condition stemming in part from a 1996 fall that left him intermittently reliant on a wheelchair. So now he was walking on a treadmill at a clinic near his Austin home as part of his physical therapy.
His phone rang. Still trudging, Knowles answered. It was Roland De Noie, his business manager.
“I really f—ed up,” said De Noie in a panic. “It’s all my fault.” He had discovered that Ain’t It Cool News — the website Knowles started in his Texas bedroom that grew to be the scourge of Hollywood, redefined the nature and pace of entertainment journalism and turned an overweight, ginger-haired self-diagnosed movie nerd into the face of a geek nation on the rise — owed about $300,000 in unpaid taxes. While Ain’t It Cool News had been making $700,000 a year in gross advertising revenue at its height in the early- to mid-2000s, that had dipped to the low-six figures by 2012. The business had no cash reserves and no way to pay the bills. Its bank account had been seized. “We’re not going to be able to get out of this one,” said De Noie.
Knowles tried to get his childhood friend to explain, but there was no simple answer. It was the advertising slowdown or bad business practices or horrible decisions or a combination of all three. But the fact remained that Ain’t It Cool News was bleeding out.
One of the most controversial political attack ads of the year didn’t originate with an actual candidate or political party. It came from Stephen Colbert. Or more accurately, “Stephen Colbert,” his satirical alter ego. The ad was funded by Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, a super PAC formed by Colbert as part of his “exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for [his] possible candidacy for president of the United States of South Carolina.” The super PAC ad suggested, in no uncertain terms, that presidential hopeful Mitt Romney might be a serial killer. “He’s Mitt the Ripper,” the voice-over declared. When asked about the ads by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, Colbert (or “Colbert”) claimed ignorance. “I had nothing to do with that ad,” he said. Technically he was following to the letter the rules of super PACs, which are allowed, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, to raise unlimited funds for attack ads without being directly connected to a campaign or candidate.
“I don’t know if Mitt Romney is a serial killer,” he told Stephanopoulos. “That’s a question he’s going to have to answer.… I do not want any untrue ads on the air that could in any way be traced back to me.”
It was brilliant political satire—earning Colbert a prestigious Peabody Award, his second—that crossed into the realm of performance art. Colbert mocked the system from within, using himself as a comedic straw man. Although Colbert’s main gig is behind a desk as host of Comedy Central’s faux pundit news show The Colbert Report, it wasn’t the first time he’d blurred the line between satirist and subject. Colbert has mocked President George W. Bush to his face at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration (where he called for Americans “to stop eating fruits and vegetables”) and co-hosted with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart a political rally on the National Mall that attracted an estimated 215,000 participants.
Marijuana doesn’t help disaster victims.
Money and supplies do.
It’s a simple connection made by a pot dealer in Brooklyn, N.Y., who donated half of his proceeds made over two days last week to victims of Hurricane Sandy. He spoke to HuffPost Crime on the condition of anonymity.
The dealer said he didn’t care about the implications of turning drug money into supplies for victims in the Rockaways, N.Y., some of whom are still without power. He just wanted to help out, and raised $700 for the cause.
Terry Pratchett plans to hand over the Discworld series to his daughter Rhianna, he reveals in this week’s New Statesman.
In an interview with Laurie Penny – who has returned to the NS as a contributing editor – the author, campaigner and “professional morbid bastard” talks about his life and work. They discuss his diagnosis with posterior cortical atrophy, a rare form of Alzheimer’s, in 2007. Since then, his health has declined markedly:
He has lost the ability to use a keyboard altogether and can do very little with a pen. His most recent four books have been written entirely by dictation, and with the help of his assistant of 12 years, Rob Wilkins.
Beyond the walls of the 16th-century fortress, in northern Italy, the Dolomite range rose burnished and glowing in the late afternoon light. Within the walls, Reinhold Messner, the world’s greatest mountaineer, was building a mountain. At his energetıc direction, a backhoe lumbered back and forth in the dusty courtyard, heaving slabs of rock and depositing them in an artful pyramid that by the end of the exercise had formed a small mountain.
“This is Kailas, Holy Mountain,” Reinhold said, while the backhoe ﬁlled the air with golden dust. He was relishing the scene—the whole scene; not just the satisfaction of seeing Tibet’s most holy mountain assembled in miniature under his supervision but also, I suspected, the roar and rumble and chaos and dust and magniﬁcent improbability of the undertaking. The Kailas installation is only one of the many features, fanciful and inspired, that will ﬁll his latest Messner Mountain Museum, this one dedicated to the theme of “When Men Meet Mountains.”
Reinhold Messner is well into what he has designated Stage Six of his already remarkable life, without, it would seem, a backward glance for Stage One, when he was one of the world’s elite rock climbers, or Stage Two, when he was unquestionably the world’s greatest high-altitude mountaineer. Today, at 62, he is instantly recognizable from the multitude of publicity photographs taken over the past three decades—lean and ﬁt and sporting an even longer mane of waving hair, now threaded with silver, than he did when younger. His features tend to alternate between two characteristic expressions: The ﬁrst, a look of ﬁerce intensity, which, combined with beetling eyebrows and flowing beard and hair, give him an air of Zeus-like authority. It was with this expression that he moved his mountain. The second is his trademark smile—a reflexive baring of his very white, even teeth behind his beard—which gleams on friend and foe without distinction, like the smile of a crocodile. It was the crocodile smile he was baring now, as he envisioned the climactic moment of opening night of the Messner museum: A violent explosion, simulating a volcanic eruption, was to rend the night from inside the castle walls. “There should be a lot of flames and smoke,” he said, again with relish. “It should be at night so that the whole of Bolzano can see.” He paused to savor the image of a ﬁreworks blast that would appear to viewers as a catastrophic blowup. “Then my friends will say, ‘It is a pity,’ and my enemies will say, ‘Good, ﬁnally, at last!’”
After 55 years, the final patrol for cases of the mysterious ‘laughing death’ in remote Papua New Guinea has returned from the highlands. From this pursuit came Nobel-winning science, clues to ‘mad cow’ and insights into Alzheimer’s disease. It also revealed a little bit of cannibal hidden in us all.
The girl who would later take on the pen name Nellie Bly and help launch a new kind of investigative journalism was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania. The similarity between her surname and her birthplace was no coincidence: the town was named after its most prominent citizen, her father Michael Cochran, a wealthy landowner, judge, and businessman.
He had ten children by his first wife. After she died, he married again and had five more children, the third of which was Elizabeth, considered the most rebellious child in the family.Her father died when Elizabeth, nicknamed Pink or Pinky, was only six years old. The death was a terrible financial blow, as he left no will to protect the interests of his second family. A year after his death Elizabeth’s family had to auction off its mansion and was thrown into hard times.
Five examples of civil disobedience to remember | Richard Seymour | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
When Spanish mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo recently led farmers on a supermarket sweep, raiding the local shops for food as part of a campaign against austerity, his political immunity as an elected assembly member protected him from arrest. He now asks other local mayors to ignore central government demands for budget cuts and refuse to implement evictions and lay-offs. In this era of austerity, such flagrant disrespect for the law ought to be encouraged. Sometimes, the greatest strength of popular movements is their capacity to disrupt. So here, for the benefit of imaginative indignados, are five examples of civil disobedience.
In 1988, when Anne Fadiman met Lia Lee, then 5, for the first time, she wrote down her impressions in four spare lines that now read like found poetry:
barefoot mother gently rocking silent child
diaper, sweater, strings around wrist
like a baby, but she’s so big
mother kisses and strokes her
The story of Lia, the severely brain-damaged daughter of Hmong refugees who had resettled in California, became the subject of Ms. Fadiman’s first book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” published in 1997.
Its title is the English translation of the condition known as qaug dab peg (pronounced “kow da pay”), the Hmong term for epilepsy, from which Lia had suffered since infancy.
In traditional Hmong belief, qaug dab peg, like many illnesses, is spiritual in origin, caused when the soul becomes separated from the body. A traditional cure might entail visits from a shaman, who would attempt to reunite body and soul.
Catherine Baucom, a breast cancer surgeon in Louisiana, was on her way to a surgery at BRASS Surgery Center of Baton Rouge last Wednesday morning when she found herself caught in a complete traffic shutdown caused by a major accident. She handled it like a boss: the surgeon, who is also a cyclist, borrowed a pink bicycle and helmet decorated with Disney princesses from a nearby friend’s 7-year-old daughter, and she pedaled like hell.
Dr. Baucom remembered a friend that lived a few blocks from her position in the mayhem and made her way to his house. “Catherine called, she was outside my house. She said ‘Hey do you have a bike?’ I walked outside and said yea, its a kids bike,” said Dr. Brian Barnett. After a quick test run, Dr. Baucom decided the bike was her only choice to get to the hospital. “I got the air pump out and aired the tires up as much as I could.”
He gladly loaned her his seven year old daughter’s bike and helmet and the nearly six foot tall surgeon resumed her journey to the surgery center.
“It was hot pink and small,” Dr. Baucom said, describing the bike. “The helmet was pink with princesses.” He added he was laughing so much he couldn’t get video of her before she peddled away. “But she did utilize the plastic basket on front, to put her cell phone in. Showed her experience with the bike.”