Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winn Dixie

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: WINN) is an American supermarket chain based in Jacksonville, Florida. Winn-Dixie has ranked number 24 in the 2010 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2009 fiscal year estimated sales of $7.3 billion by Supermarket News.and was ranked the 43rd largest retailer in the United States based on 2006 revenues by Stores Magazine. Winn-Dixie currently operates 514 stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi. The company has existed under its present name since 1955 and can date its roots back to 1925.

Prior to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, Winn-Dixie was listed in the S&P 500 and had been traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "WIN" since February 18, 1952. The company is currently traded under the symbol "WINN" on the NASDAQ. The bankruptcy also left the chain with fewer stores than it had in the late 1960s.

They are known for their private label Chek brand soft drinks, which are produced in over 20 different flavors plus diet and caffeine-free varieties—one of the widest assortments. They have also been known as "The Beef People". In its advertising and print media Winn-Dixie now uses the brand promises of "Fresh Checked Every Day" in its Jacksonville DMA, "Getting Better All The Time" in its locations in Central Florida, "El Sabor De Tu Pais", or "The Flavor Of Your Country", in its Miami area stores, and "Local Flavor Since 1956" in its Louisiana area stores.


Winn-Dixie was founded and built up by William Milton Davis and his sons Artemus Darius Davis, James Elsworth Davis, Milton Austin Davis and Tine Wayne Davis. William Davis started in business in Burley, Idaho, where he bought a general store in 1914 that he later renamed Davis Mercantile. As was common then, he sold most goods on credit. The advent of cash-only grocery stores in the 1920s hurt Davis's business, as the new stores offered lower prices and larger selections.

In 1925, William Davis borrowed $10,000 from his father and moved to Miami, Florida, where he purchased the Rockmoor Grocery. In 1927, the company was renamed Table Supply, and four more stores were opened. In 1931, the Davis family bought the Lively Stores chain for $10,000, to create a chain of thirty-three Table Supply stores across Florida from Miami to Tampa. William Milton Davis died in 1934, leaving his four sons in charge of the company.

In 1939, the Davis brothers bought fifty-one percent of Winn-Lovett, a chain of seventy-three stores. In 1944, the brothers adopted Winn-Lovett as the company name and moved the company headquarters to Jacksonville. Winn-Lovett purchased the Steiden Stores chain of thirty-one stores in Kentucky in 1945, and Margaret Ann Stores, with forty-six stores in Florida, in 1949. In 1952, Winn-Lovett became the first industrial corporation based in Florida to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.


Winn-Lovett continued to grow by acquiring other chains, including Penney Stores in Mississippi, and Ballentine Stores and Eden Stores, both in South Carolina, all in 1955. Also in 1955, Winn-Lovett bought the 117-store Dixie Home chain, and changed its name to Winn-Dixie. In 1956, Winn-Dixie bought Ketner-Milner Stores in North Carolina, Hill Stores in Louisiana and Mississippi, and King Stores in Georgia. In 1967, Winn-Dixie bought the City Markets chain in The Bahamas.[4] The last purchase of a chain was in 1995, with the purchase of the Cincinnati-based Thriftway Food Drug.


Although Winn-Dixie Stores has been a publicly owned corporation since 1952, the Davis family has always maintained control of the corporation. As of February 2005, when the company entered bankruptcy, the heirs of William Milton Davis still held about thirty-five percent of Winn-Dixie stock.

The Davis brothers also became involved in Florida state politics, supporting conservative causes. It is reported that their financial support helped George Smathers beat incumbent U.S. Senator Claude Pepper in 1950. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Donald Regan is reported to have said of his financial guru, James E. Davis: "When J.E. calls, I listen." It is reported that after reading Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, James E. Davis began a program of Winn-Dixie supporting historically Black colleges and universities.

In the 90's Winn Dixie gave a generous contribution to the Boy Scouts of America of the Central Florida Council, resulting in the renaming of Camp La-No Che as the "Winn-Dixie Scout Reservation".

Winn-Dixie is involved in their hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., including being considered the official supermarket of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars. Some Jacksonville-area stores give away Jaguars tickets during the NFL season.

Financial difficulties
In 2003, when the chain had over 1000 stores, the company's stock was the worst-performing of the S&P 500. In April 2004, Winn-Dixie announced the closure of 156 stores, including all 111 stores located in the Midwest. Included were over twenty stores that had operated under the Thriftway name in and around Cincinnati, Ohio; they had been purchased by Winn-Dixie in 1995. The company had been hit hard by competition, especially from Publix and Wal-Mart. Another 40 stores in the Atlanta area were converted to their Save Rite Grocery Warehouse brand, as an alternative to store closure. Also, the stores in North Carolina and South Carolina closed.

On February 22, 2005, Winn-Dixie filed for bankruptcy. On June 21, it announced the sale or closure of 326 stores, resulting in the loss of over 22,000 jobs. Winn-Dixie closed all its stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Once the restructuring had completed, Winn-Dixie was to operate in the Bahamas, and in four of the Deep South states, operating throughout Florida, the southeastern half of Louisiana, the southeast corner of Mississippi, most of Alabama, and the southwest and coastal corners of Georgia.

On February 28, 2006, it was announced that thirty-five more stores were to be sold or closed within the coming months, with the Central and South Florida areas being the most affected. On March 31, 2006, it was announced that the chain would sell its twelve Bahamian locations, which had been operated by a wholly owned subsidiary, W-D, Limited, under the names City Market and Winn-Dixie.

Emergence From Bankruptcy and The Present
On June 29, 2006, Winn-Dixie announced that it had filed a plan of reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. The company emerged from Chapter 11 protection on November 21, 2006 in a much stronger financial position. Their bankruptcy case is being handled in the Jacksonville area by Steve Busey and Cyndi Jackson of the law firm, Smith, Hulsey, & Busey, and by the New York firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Upon emerging from bankruptcy in 2006 Winn-Dixie made great strides toward success, which included a steadfast effort to modernize its existing store base while focusing on new locations for the future. A timeline listed below describes key events.
November 21-Winn-Dixie officially emerges from Chapter 11 protection with $725 million in exit financing as a new company and with a new Board of Directors.
November 22-New shares of Winn-Dixie stock begin to trade on the NASDAQ stock exchange on a “when-issued” basis under the ticker symbol WINNV.
December 21-Winn-Dixie completes its initial distribution of common stock and the new shares begin to trade on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol WINN.

June 22-Winn-Dixie announces the appointment of Dan Portnoy as Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer.
September 26-Store #1439 reopens in New Orleans almost 25 months to the day it was severely damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is the first grocery store to reopen east of the Industrial Canal in a section of New Orleans known as East Orleans.
September 27-Peter Lynch rings the opening bell of the NASDAQ Stock Exchange from inside the rebuilt Store 1439 in New Orleans, La. With him is Mayor Ray Nagin and a host of local and state officials.
November 7-Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. holds its first annual shareholders meeting since the company reorganized and emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

July 9-Peter Lynch and Mayor John Peyton celebrate the grand opening of remodeled store #37 in downtown Jacksonville.
August 15-Winn-Dixie and Kellogg dedicated its 10th house for Habitat for Humanity in Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville.
September 19-Less than 18 months after announcing a major remodel initiative for all of its stores, Winn-Dixie Stores completed its 100th store remodel in the Miami suburb of Hialeah.
October 24-Mary Kellmanson, formerly of Wegmans, joins Winn-Dixie as Vice President of Marketing.
October 31-The eighth annual Winn-Dixie Foundation Charity Classic Golf Tournament, an annual fundraising event for the not-for-profit Winn-Dixie Foundation, raised $1.5 million for local charities in five states.

January 7-New prototype SaveRite store #2601 re-opens in Jacksonville.
May 13-Winn-Dixie breaks ground on first new store since emerging from bankruptcy located in Covington, Louisiana.
July 15-Winn-Dixie celebrates the completion of the Jacksonville DMA remodels with 51 locations becoming "Fresh Checked Every Day".

February 3-Winn-Dixie opened its first brand new store since reorganization in Covington, LA.
This location also earned the EPA's GreenChill certification.
June 9-Winn-Dixie opens its new "prototype" store in Margate, FL.

July 27-Winn-Dixie announced a reorganization that will result in 30 non-renovated, underperforming stores being closed, roughly 120 corporate and support positions being eliminated, and operating regions being consolidated from four to three. Of the 30 stores to be closed, 24 are located in Florida, 2 each in Georgia and Mississippi, and 1 each in Alabama and Louisiana. The store closures and layoffs are slated for completion by September 22, 2010.
September 22-All 30 non-remodeled, underperforming locations are closed.
September 30-Winn-Dixie celebrates the completion of a multimillion-dollar expansion and remodel in Mobile, Alabama as the third "transformational" store is debuted.
November 01-Winn-Dixie leverages its heritage as "The Beef People" and improves upon this by introducing their "Neighborhood Butcher" program in all stores.
December 01 -Winn-Dixie works to reach customers through digital marketing programs by starting a YouTube channel showcasing its "Neighborhood Butcher" program.
December 07 - MyWebGrocer chosen by Winn-Dixie to connect with its customers through online and mobile media channel. An initial way to create a more interactive and digital shopping experience is through the new Winn-Dixie App!


Winn-Dixie has run over 60 private label brands over the years. In 2003 the company cut the number down to a three tier system of brands: the "Prestige" brand for upscale private label products, "Winn-Dixie" for its mainstream items, and "Thrifty Maid" for its value items. In 2007, all three brands received redesigned packaging with plans to replace the "Prestige" brand with "Winn & Lovett".. In 2010, Winn-Dixie replaced it's value-centered brand Thrifty Maid with "ValuTime". [23]. The brands of "ValuTime", for the budget-minded shopper, "Winn-Dixie, which is designed to be as good as or better than national brands, and "Winn and Lovett", the premium, top-tier label, are the current private labels the organization uses store-wide. Winn-Dixie carries a store brand line of organic and natural foods. [24]. These brands are on numerous products in almost all departments. Other category-specific brands include "Chek" for the store-brand sodas and "Kuddles" for the store-brand baby-related items.

The manufacturer code portion of the UPC remains 21140 for the "Winn-Dixie" and "Winn and Lovett" labels.

Stores Open on Christmas 2010.....!!

If you are wondering for what stores are open on Christmas 2010, hardly any? Many active shoppers now are looking for lists of stores open during Christmas Day 2009. And yet, some stores already confirmed that they are closed on the said Holiday Seasons.

Apparently, some reports are saying that Walmart is open on Christmas 2010, but sad to say, Walmart already confirmed in their sites that their stores will be closed during Christmas Day 2010 and will be opened again as early in the morning of December 26, 2010.

Here are the list of establishments and stores that might be opened during Christmas Day 2010. Please read your guide below:

Grocery Stores – These also vary by location. Here you will find batteries, foods, candy, perhaps a small selection of electronics, flowers, baked goods, etc.. (you’ve been there before, you know the selection.)

Gas Stations – I sincerely hope you do not plan on buying a gift at a gas station, BUT, with the pain at the pump Americans are experiencing, some gas stations will sell gift cards. Easy way out but it will certainly make a gift that will be used.

Convenience Stores – Some CVS/Walgreens are open on Christmas for limited hours, check your local store’s website for details. Here you can buy batteries, cards, candy, and small electronics.

Meanwhile, some favourite stores for lifestyle are open during Christmas Day, these includes branches of Starbucks, so this might be a good news for all the coffee lovers out there. And yet, Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds confirmed that they are closed on Christmas. And since this is holiday, people might think that these closed stores will be opened again on the following day.

And lastly, most movie houses and theatres are open and most of the families now have their tradition to go to the theatre and catch a movie on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Norad Santa Tracker

NORAD Tracks Santa is an annual Christmas-themed entertainment program produced under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Every year on Christmas Eve, "NORAD Tracks Santa" purports to follow Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. The program starts on December 1 with a "Countdown Village" website.

The program is in the tradition of the September 1897 editorial "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" in the New York Sun.

History and overview
According to NORAD's official web page on the NORAD Tracks Santa program, the service began on December 24, 1955. A Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper. The advertisement told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was incorrect and calls instead came through to Colorado Spring's Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children that called in a "current location" for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958.

NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Many volunteers are employees at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m. MST on December 25. Google Analytics has been in use since December 2007 to analyze traffic at the NORAD Tracks Santa website. As a result of this analysis information, the program can project and scale volunteer staffing, telephone equipment, and computer equipment needs for Christmas Eve.

By December 25, 2009, the NORAD Tracks Santa program had 27,440 twitter followers and the Facebook page had more than 410,700 fans.

Website and other media
he NORAD Tracks Santa program has always made use of a variety of media. From the 1950s to 1996, these were the telephone hotline, newspapers, radio, phonograph records and television. Many television newscasts in North America feature NORAD Tracks Santa as part of their weather updates on Christmas Eve.

From 1997 to the present, the program has had a highly publicized internet presence. As mobile media and social media have become popular and widespread as methods of direct communication, these newer media have also been embraced by the program. The layout of the NORAD Tracks Santa website and its webpages have changed from 1997 to the present due to changes in internet technologies, and changes in partners and sponsors for a particular year.

From mid-January until November 30, when one arrives at the NORAD Tracks Santa website, one is greeted with a message to come back on 1 December to "track Santa with NORAD". During December one finds a NORAD Tracks Santa website with all the features available.

On Christmas Eve, the NORAD Tracks Santa website videos page is generally updated each hour, when it is midnight in a different time zone. The "Santa Cam" videos show CGI images of Santa Claus flying over famous landmarks. Each video is accompanied by a voice-over, typically done by NORAD personnel, giving a few facts about the city or country depicted. Celebrity voice-overs have also been used over the years. For the London "Santa Cam" video, English television personality and celebrity Jonathan Ross did the voice-over for 2005 to 2007 and the former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr narrated the same video in 2003 and 2004. In 2002, Aaron Carter provided the voice-over for three videos.

The locations and landmarks depicted in some of the "Santa Cam" videos have changed over the years. In 2009, twenty-nine "Santa Cam" videos were posted on the website. In previous years, twenty-four to twenty-six videos had been posted.

Sponsorship and publicity
NORAD Tracks Santa relies on corporate sponsorship, and is not financed by American and Canadian taxpayers.

U.S. military units that have provided publicity for the program include the Northeast Air Defense Sector of the New York Air National Guard and the U.S. Naval Reserve Navy Information Bureau (NIB) 1118 at Fort Carson, Colorado. Other U.S. federal agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have also publicized the service, as have the Canadian Forces.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trix Rabbit

Trix is a brand of breakfast cereal made by General Mills for the North American and by Nestlé for the European, South American and Asian markets. The cereal consists of fruit-flavored, sweetened, ground-corn pieces. These were originally round cereal pieces, but were later changed to puffed fruit-shaped pieces. In January 2007, Trix Cereal company General Mills returned Trix cereal to their original shape.


Trix cereal, when first introduced in 1954 by General Mills, was more than 46% sugar. In 1992 Trix replaced the original round balls shape with fruit-shaped pieces. Five new fruit shapes and colors were added over the years: Grapity purple (1984-1995), Lime green (1991), Orange Apple Crunch (1997), Wildberry blue (1998-2006), and Watermelon (1999). In 1995, the cereal pieces were given a brighter and more colorful look. General Mills' Yoplait division produces a Trix-branded yogurt also marketed to children with sweetened fruit flavors such as "Watermelon Burst". Later on in the 2000's the cereal returned as the round ball shape.

Marketing and advertising

This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this section if you can. The talk page may contain suggestions. (February 2010)

Joe Harris created the Trix Rabbit - voiced by Delo States, Mort Marshall, and later by Russell Horton - an anthropomorphic cartoon rabbit who debuted in a 1959 Trix television commercial, and who continually attempted to trick children into giving him a bowl of Trix cereal. He would be discovered every time; the children would tell him that he was a silly rabbit and that "Trix [were] for kids," and take back their cereal. These ads would often end with the Trix Rabbit following up the kids' "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!" slogan with "...and sometimes, for tricky rabbits!". The Rabbit originated as a puppet before he later became animated. He did however succeed in obtaining and eating the Trix on some occasions, including twice as the result of a box top mail-in contest (1976 and 1990) entitled "Let The Rabbit Eat Trix". The results of the vote were an overwhelming "yes", and the rabbit was depicted in a subsequent commercial finally enjoying a taste of Trix. Children who voted received a button based upon their vote in the election.

In commercials from the 1960s, 70s and 80s the rabbit was known to disguise himself in order to get his beloved cereal, employing costumes as diverse as a balloon vendor, a painter and a Native American. One alternate slogan for the cereal was, "Oranges, Lemons, and Grapes I see; the fruit taste of Trix is all for me".

The rabbit's popularity has led him to appear in commercials for other products, such as a Got Milk? advertisement. However, not all reception for the Trix rabbit has been positive.

This slogan is referenced in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol 1. In chapter 5: Showdown at House of Green Leaves, having dispatched O-Ren Ishii's (Lucy Liu) entourage, O-Ren taunts The Bride (Uma Thurman), asking if she really thought it would be that easy. When the Bride defiantly replies that for a moment, she did, O-Ren replies "Silly rabbit..." and they finish the sentence together, "Trix are for kids". A footnote in the script implies this is what they used to say to each other when they both worked as assassins for Bill, though this is never shown on film. This may also be a reference to The Bride's real name, Beatrix Kiddo.

Trix has raspberry red, lemon yellow, orangey oranges in January 1, 1954 - current. (Orangey oranges from January 1, 1954 through September 22, 1996 and March 31, 1998 - current. Raspberry red from January 1, 1954 through June 1, 1985 and November 19, 1989 - current.) Trix has new grapity grapes in August 6, 1983 - current. Trix has new lime from January 31, 1991 through November 24, 1998 and December 30, 2009 - current. Trix has new orange apple crunch from September 23, 1996 through March 30, 1998 and March 3, 2010 - current. Trix has new wildberry blues in November 14, 1997 - current. Trix has new watermelon in November 25, 1998 - current. Trix has new berry banana splits from July 9, 2003 through November 27, 2003 and December 30, 2009 - current. Trix has new pears (in Trix double cereal) in December 30, 2009 - current. Trix has new double cherry (in Trix double cereal smilair to cherry in Froot Loops) in December 30, 2009 - current. Trix has new blueberry blue (in Trix triple cereal smiliar to Kellogg's Froot Loops) in March 3, 2010 - current.

Smokey The Bear

Smokey Bear (often unofficially referred to as Smokey the Bear) is a mascot of the United States Forest Service created to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. An advertising campaign featuring Smokey was created in 1944 with the slogan, "Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires". Smokey Bear's later slogan, "Remember... Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires", was created in 1947 by the Ad Council. In April 2001, the message was updated to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires". According to the Ad Council, Smokey Bear and his message are recognized by 95% of adults and 77% of children in the U.S.

Smokey's correct name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a successful song named "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused some confusion among the public ever since. Note that, from the beginning, Smokey's name was intentionally spelled differently from the adjective smoky. The Forest Service emphatically denies that the name was ever "Smokey the Bear"; however, during the 1950s, that variant of the name became widespread both in popular speech and in print, including at least one standard encyclopedia. A 1955 book in the Little Golden Books series was called Smokey the Bear and Smokey calls himself by this name in the book. The campaign to remind the public of the correct version of the name is almost as old as the Smokey Bear campaign itself.

The fictional character Smokey Bear is administered by three entities: the United States Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council. Smokey Bear's name and image are protected by U.S. federal law, the Smokey Bear Act of 1952 (16 U.S.C. 580 ; 18 U.S.C. 711).

Beginning the campaign:-
Though the US Forest Service fought wildfires long before World War II, the war brought a new importance and urgency to the effort. The forest service began using colorful posters to educate Americans about the dangers of forest fires. Since most able-bodied men were already serving in the armed forces, none could be spared to fight forest fires on the West Coast. The hope was that local communities, educated about the danger of forest fires, could prevent them from starting in the first place. The Japanese, on the other hand, saw wildfires as a possible weapon.

During the Lookout Air Raids of 1942, the Japanese attempted to set southwest Oregon's coastal forests ablaze. In separate attempts on 9 and 29 September, the Japanese submarine I-25 surfaced and launched a Yokosuka E14Y floatplane loaded with incendiary bombs. Neither attempt was successful. U.S. planners also hoped that if Americans knew how wildfires would harm the war effort, they would better cooperate with the Forest Service to eliminate fires, whether caused by Japan or otherwise.

The Japanese renewed their wildfire strategy late in the war: from November 1944 to April 1945, some 9,000 fire balloons were launched into the jet stream, with an estimated 10% making it to the US. Five children and their teacher, Mrs. Elsie Mitchell, who was five months pregnant, were killed by one of the bombs near Bly, Oregon, on May 5, 1945. The group found the balloon and while examining it, one of its bombs detonated. A memorial was erected at what today is called the Mitchell Recreation Area.

On August 13, 1942, Disney's 5th full-length animated motion picture Bambi premiered in New York City. Soon after, Walt Disney allowed his characters to appear in fire prevention public service campaigns. However, Bambi was only loaned to the government for a year, so a new symbol was needed.

Continuing the popular animal theme, a bear was chosen. His name was inspired by "Smokey" Joe Martin, a New York City Fire Department hero who suffered burns and blindness during a bold 1922 rescue.

Smokey's debut poster was released on August 9, 1944, which is considered his anniversary date. Overseen by the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Campaign, the first poster was illustrated by Albert Staehle. In it Smokey was depicted wearing jeans and a "forest ranger's hat" (a campaign hat), pouring a bucket of water on a campfire. The message underneath reads, "Smokey says – Care will prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires!" Knickerbocker Bears gained the license to produce Smokey bear dolls in 1944. Also in 1944, Forest Service worker Rudy Wendelin became the full time campaign artist; he was considered Smokey Bear's "caretaker" until he retired in 1973.

In 1947, the slogan associated with Smokey Bear for more than five decades was finally coined: "Remember...only YOU can prevent forest fires." In 2001, it was officially amended to replace "forest fires" with "wildfires," as a reminder that other areas (such as grasslands) are also in danger of burning.

The living symbol of Smokey:-
The living symbol of Smokey Bear was an American black bear cub who in the spring of 1950 was caught in the Capitan Gap fire, a wildfire that burned 17,000 acres (69 km2) in the Lincoln National Forest,[14]in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. Smokey had climbed a tree to escape the blaze, but his paws and hind legs had been burned. According to some stories, he was rescued by a game warden after the fire, but according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division, it was actually a group of soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas, who had come to help fight the fire, that discovered the bear cub and brought him back to the camp.
At first he was called "Hotfoot Teddy," but he was later renamed Smokey, after the mascot. There are conflicting stories regarding the individual or individuals who first helped nurse the cub after the fire. According to the New York Times obituary for Homer C. Pickens, then Assistant Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, he kept the cub at his home for awhile, trying to nurse him back to health. According to other records, including a story in Life Magazine, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Ranger Ray Bell took him to Santa Fe, where he, his wife Ruth, and their children, Don and Judy, cared for the cub.[15] The story was picked up by the national news services and Smokey became a celebrity. Soon after, Smokey was flown in a Piper Cub airplane to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.. A special room was prepared for him at the St. Louis zoo for an overnight fuel stop during the trip, and when he arrived at the National Zoo, several hundred spectators, including members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, photographers, and media were there to welcome him to his new home.

Smokey Bear lived at the National Zoo for 26 years. During that time he received millions of visitors as well as so many letters addressed to him -- up to 13,000 a week -- that the United States Postal Service finally gave him his own unique zip code. He developed a love for peanut butter sandwiches, in addition to his daily diet of bluefish and trout.

Upon his death on November 9, 1976, Smokey's remains were returned by the government to Capitan, New Mexico, and buried at what is now the Smokey Bear Historical Park. The plaque at his grave reads, "This is the resting place of the first living Smokey Bear...the living symbol of wildfire prevention and wildlife conservation." The Washington Post ran a semi-humorous obituary for Smokey, labeled "Bear," calling him a transplanted New Mexico native who had resided for many years in Washington, D.C., with many years of government service. It also mentioned his family, including his wife, Goldie Bear, and "adopted son" Little Smokey. The obituary noted that Smokey and Goldie were not blood-relatives, despite the fact that they shared the same "last name" of "Bear." [21] The Wall Street Journal included an obituary for Smokey Bear on the front page of the paper, on Nov 11, 1976,[17] and so many newspapers included articles and obituaries that the National Zoo archives include four complete scrapbooks devoted to them (Series 12, boxes 66-67).

Plans for future Smokey Bears:_
In 1962, Smokey was paired with female bear, "Goldie Bear," with the hope that perhaps Smokey's descendants would take over the Smokey Bear title. In 1971, when the pair still had not produced any children, the zoo added "Little Smokey," another orphaned bear cub from the Lincoln Forest, to their cage--announcing that the pair had "adopted" this cub.

On May 2, 1975, Smokey Bear officially "retired" from his role as living mascot, and the title, "Smokey Bear II," was bestowed upon Little Smokey in an official ceremony. Little Smokey died Aug 11, 1990.

Smokey as popular character

The character became a notable part of American popular culture in the 1950s. He appeared on radio programs, in comic strips and in cartoons.

In 1952, after Smokey Bear attracted considerable commercial interest, the Smokey Bear Act, an act of Congress, was passed to remove the character from the public domain and place it under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture. The act provided for the use of Smokey's royalties for continued education on the subject of forest fire prevention. More than three million dollars have been collected.

A Smokey Bear doll was vended by Ideal Toys beginning in 1952; the doll included a mail-in card for children to become Junior forest rangers. Within three years half a million children had applied. In April 1964, the character was given his own ZIP code (postal code): 20252.

In 1955, the first children’s book was published, followed by many sequels and coloring books. Soon thousands of dolls, toys, and other collectibles were on the market.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Ad Council sponsored radio advertisements, featuring Smokey Bear "in conversation" with prominent American celebrity stars such as Bing Crosby, Art Linkletter, Dinah Shore, Roy Rogers, and many others.

Smokey's name and image has been loaned to the Smokey Bear Awards, which are awarded by the United States Forest Service:

"To recognize outstanding service in the prevention of wildland fires and to increase public recognition and awareness of the need for continuing fire prevention efforts.
Though Smokey was originally drawn wearing the campaign hat of the U.S. National Park Service (which was in turn derived from the cavalry who protected the early U.S. national parks), the hat itself later became famous by association with the Smokey cartoon character. As such, it is sometimes today called a "Smokey Bear" hat by both the military service branches and state police who still employ it. Truck drivers by that same token often nickname state police officers "Smokey" or "bears"

Voices of Smokey Bear-
Washington D.C. radio station WMAL personality Jackson Weaver served as the primary voice representing Smokey until Weaver's death in October 1992. Others who provided a voice to Smokey prior to 1992 included Jim Cummings, Roger C. Carmel, and Los Angeles Radio station KNX's George Walsh. The "voice" of Smokey was retired after Weaver's death until 2008. In June 2008, the Forest Service launched a new series of public service announcements voiced by actor Sam Elliott, simultaneously giving Smokey a new visual design intended to appeal to young adults.

In 1939, students from Hill City, South Dakota, helped stop a devastating wildfire that threatened their community. Afterwards the school district was allowed by the government to use Smokey Bear as its mascot. It is believed to be the only school in the country to be able to do so.

Smokey Bear — and parodies of the character — have been appearing in animation for more than fifty years. In 1956, he made a cameo appearance in the Walt Disney short film In the Bag with a voice provided by Jackson Weaver.

In 1966, Rankin/Bass produced an animated television special for ABC, named The Ballad of Smokey the Bear, narrated by James Cagney. During the 1969-1970 television season, Rankin/Bass also produced a weekly Saturday Morning series, The Smokey the Bear Show, also for ABC.

Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins's song "Smokey the Bear" has been covered by the group Canned Heat, among others. The track is on their CD The Boogie House Tapes 1969-1999.

"Smokey the Bear Sutra" is a 1969 poem by Gary Snyder, which presents environmental concerns in the form of a Buddhist sutra, and depicts Smokey as the reincarnation of the Great Sun Buddha.

Fire ecology-
]The Smokey Bear campaign has been criticized in cases where the indigenous fire ecology was not taken into consideration. Periodic low-intensity wildfires are an integral component of certain ecosystems that evolved to depend on 'natural fires' for vitality, rejuvenation, and regeneration. Examples are chaparral and closed-cone pine forest habitats, which need fire for seeds and cones to sprout. Wildfires also play a role in the preservation of pine barrens, which are well adapted to small ground fires and rely on periodic fires to remove competing species.

When a brushland, woodland, or forested area is not impacted by fire for a long period of time, large quantities of flammable leaves, branches and other organic matter tend to accumulate on the forest floor and above in brush thickets. When a forest fire eventually does occur in such an area where a natural cycle period has been suppressed, the increased amount of fuel present creates a crown fire, which destroys all vegetation and affects surface soil chemistry. Frequent small 'natural' ground fires prevent the accumulation of fuel and allow large, slow-growing vegetation (e.g. trees) to survive. There is increasing use of controlled burns directed by skilled firefighters, and allowing wildland fires not causing human harm or threat to burn out.

The goal of the Smokey Bear campaign has always been one of increasing fire safety and preventing needless, human-caused wildfires, not the suppression of natural wildfires.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shop Cheap

We're thinking orange and black
It's the season for orange and black - at the grocery store and at the ballpark. As the stores gear up for Halloween, baseball fans are gearing up for what could be a Giant Halloween treat!
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's a rather routine week in the grocery world with a mix of BOGOs, coupons and weekend specials. Here's what we like:
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for Raley's Friday Freebie. Sure, it's designed to get shoppers into the store on Friday, but the freebie is always something useful. We're liking the produce values this week at Raley's. Fuji apples, green beans and pears are all 97-cents a pound. Iceberg lettuce is 57-cents a head; pomegranates are 2/$3 and strawberries are BOGO.
If you're clippin' check out the coupons for 7-UP or A&W liters at 79-cents each; a case of Aquafina drinking water for $3.33; Oscar Mayer franks for $1.99; Eggo waffles for $1.50 and Crystal Geyser spring water - 59-cents a gallon.
Other stuff: Prego pasta sauce is $1.89; Ronzoni pasta is 89-cents; and 18-pack of eggs is $1.98 and Sunnyside Farms yogurt is 48-cents a cup. Dennison's chili is 99-cents a can and Minute Maid OJ is 2/$4.
In the sweet category, dessert for 2 is BOGO (it's now dessert for 4); Skinny Cow ice cream treats are $3.99 and Haagen Daz ice cream is $2.50 with coupon.
If Safeway is your haunt, bagged Halloween candy is on sale at $2 each when you buy 4; pumpkins are BOGO. Here's another deal that has possibilities - buy 2-12 packs of Coke and get 2 - 12 packs free PLUS two free boxes of Nabisco crackers.
Craving sausage? Aidells varieties - including chicken/apple - are $4.99 and Saag's smoked sausage is 2/$7. Foster Farms whole chickens are 79-cents a pound; top sirloin steak is $2.99lb and ground turkey breast is BOGO.
In produce, bananas are 37-cents a pound; avocados are $1 each; pomegranates are 2/$5; raspberries are 2/$6 and bell pepper is 99-cents each.
Clip-worthy coupons include a dozen eggs for 99-cents; Simply Juice or Minute Maid Enhanced juices for $2.49. Arrowhead water is $2.99 a case. Quaker instand oatmeal is BOGO; Safeway breads are $1.50  a loaf and tahe $5 Friday special is 8-piece chicken.
Heading over to Save Mart for great produce: Avocado for 50-cents; asparagus for $1.47lb; pomegranates 2/$3; pumpkins 3/$9.99 and BOGO raspberries.
Foster Farms savory chicken breasts are $3.99lb. Minute Maid Enhanced drinks or Simply juices are 2/$5. Bertolli frozen entrees are $5.99 and 18-count fresh eggs are $1.79.
If Henry's is in your neighborhood, there's a BOGO bonanza at that store. Annie's Mac & Cheese; Hansen;s juices; Kettle Chips; Haagen Daz; Cascade yogurt; strawberries; Earthbound salads, seedless watermelon and Volcanic whole bean coffee - just to name a few.
In produce, apples are 59-cents a pound; black seedless grapes are 98-cents a pound and white corn on the cob is 3/$1.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are $1.88lb and top sirloin steak is $2.88lb.
Come back on Thursday for recipes from the Shop Cheap Kitchen.

GateHouse News Service
I have a friend whose worst fears when her husband travels is that an appliance will die or the dog will run away or the car will break down.
For me, it is the fear that one of my kids will need help with their math homework.
I was not always mathaphobic. There was a very, very short window when I was able to help the kids with their homework confidently and with a high degree of accuracy. Unfortunately this window slammed shut when the kids were in, oh, about fourth grade. That’s when they started to move away from addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to the other stuff. The other stuff would include fractions, geometry, algebra, and all those other math disciplines that cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to shut down.
It’s not that I’m an idiot. We have already determined that I am a genius because I know when it is time to change an empty roll of toilet paper. Furthermore, I can write a heck of a persuasive essay, and I can hold my own in a conversation with a French toddler. However, when it comes to math, I seem to be frustratingly deficient. I’m pretty sure that when you-know-who was passing out brains for school subjects, I got an extra helping of language arts, but got passed over for math.
This has not been a huge problem for me in life. I have never found myself in a situation where I needed to know if something I was purchasing for my living room was a rhomboid or a trapezoid. I have always managed to balance my checkbook and measure out the ingredients for recipes and get the right size collar for the dog without knowing his mass versus his weight versus the circumference of his neck. Sure, I’m not able to postulate the depth of a black hole, but who the heck needs to know that when they are buying shoes, anyway? And just in case you think I really am that shallow, I do know that the size of a black hole is given by GM/c2, but I have no idea what G, M or c are, or why you have to double them (the c’s, that is).
This math thing really did not present any problem at all until I had kids. Suddenly I became that parent. The one who can’t help them figure out if 20 people in a factory make 43 shoes in [(3)^.5] / 2 hours, then how many shoes do they make in an eight-hour day?
“As long as they make the shoe I want in a size nine medium, who cares how many they can make in an eight-hour day,” I responded when this question was posed to me by my oldest child.
“I care because if I can’t figure it out, I will get a zero on this assignment,” said my son.
I grumbled something about trapezoids and black holes and then told him to call his father.
Eventually the kids stopped asking me for help with their math altogether. Then they even stopped asking me the time, figuring the mere mention of numbers would set me into a tailspin. Finally, whenever a number came up around me, it was spelled.
“When is dinner?” asked my son.
“Mom said it would be ready in t-e-n minutes,” responded my daughter.
“Hello, I can’t do quadratic equations, but I can spell, you know,” I shouted and stomped out of the room.
“The kids think I’m an idiot because I can’t do math,” I complained to my husband.
“They don’t think you are an idiot,” he said. “Besides, not everyone can be good at everything. You are a great writer and you are incredibly creative and organized.”
I smiled and kissed him. “Thanks, honey. I appreciate that.”
“No problem.”
“So can you come down for dinner?” I asked as I started to leave the room.
“Sure,” he said brightly. “I’ll be down in f-i-v-e.”

Randolph County Herald Tribune

Chester, Ill. — Another long road trip for the Chester football squad resulted in another big win Friday night. The Yellow Jackets crashed Fairfield's homecoming party and defeated the Mules 42-16. 
 Chester's defense continues to show why they are one of the best in the area. They held Fairfield to only 97 yards rushing and 94 yards passing. Fairfield's first scoring drive and two point-conversion did briefly give the Mules an 8-7 lead, but their only other score came at the end of the third quarter when Chester had already put the game out of reach.
 Chester's defense also recovered two fumbles and intercepted two Fairfield pass attempts.
 Chester's six scoring drives were capped off by a one-yard run by Stephen Roth, a 53-yard pass from Zach Lochhead to Clint Cole, a 12-yard run by Baughman, a nine-yard run by Baughman, a one-yard run by Lochhead and a 30-yard run by Blake Nanney.
 Chester's balanced rushing attack included 77 yards by Roth, 76 by Cole and 75 by Baughman. Nanney finished with 34 yards, Zane Wallace added 21 and Lochhead had one. Lochhead also completed two passes in three attempts for 66 yards. One pass was the previously mentioned touchdown play to Cole for 53 yards. The other completion was to Baughman for 13 yards.
 The Yellow Jackets return to action Friday night when they host Hamilton County at 7:00 in their final home game of the regular season.

Four candidates seek Twp. Committee seats The Luxury Spot News gathers all the the luxury spot story from a ton of place around the web – Check back very often to stay updated on the luxury spot related news as as it’s happening.
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the luxury spot :
Four candidates seek Twp. Committee seats
— Jacqueline Hlavenka Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the Holmdel Township Committee in the municipal election on Nov. 2. Incumbent five-term Mayor Serena DiMaso, a Republican, is seeking re-election. DiMaso’s running mate, newcomer Eric Hinds, is seeking a three-year term on the Township Committee. read more
Read more on Independent

Charlie Banana™ Now Available at
Charlie Banana™  the international, luxury brand of modern cloth diapers and eco-friendly, organic baby products, are now available at T including the One Size 2-in-1 Eco Diapering System, Swim Diapers and Reusable Double Organic Wipes.
Read more on PRWeb via Yahoo! News

the luxury spot from The Twitterverse:
The luxury spot: Target, This Is Inappropriate: Uhhhhh. Really Target? I found this today while shopping for some …

Black Chicken Power

Well la DEE da, the New York Times is making it hip to eat black chicken. High time, too, since in all objective terms, the black chicken, an wuji in China, a Silkie elsewhere, is the go-to bird. If you can get past the color barrier you’re in for a treat: complex, delicate meat with way more soul than its poor white factory-farmed relatives. Besides, black chicken has nutritive properties the Chinese have sworn by since Lu Dongbing used it for his immortality pills back in the 9th century. Here are a few easy recipes to convince you.
Black Chicken Soup
1 black chicken, whole, skinned and cut into big chunks
1 teaspoon of salt
50 grams of ginseng roots, chopped
1/8 cup dried Chinese wolf berries (Otherwise known as the Tibetan Gouji Berry  or Lycium chinense)
15 seeded dried Chinese dates (hongzao)
8 cups of water
No doubt you’re wondering where the potatoes and carrots are. This soup is as much medicine as it is sustenance, a must for Chinese women pregnant and post-natal, renowned for restoring yin energy. Call it rejuvenating your kidneys and liver if you don’t believe in such FDA non-sanctioned mumbo jumbo.
Just rub those chicken chunks lightly with salt, then toss the whole shebang in a big pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for three and a half hours. Voila, over two liters of refined taste sensation, and a tonic even more potent than Mamalah’s kosher version.
Black Chicken Soup, Version 2
Add some papaya and almonds to the first recipe. This will filter toxins from your blood and cleanse the lungs, and add a sweet note that will change what you think goes with chicken.
1 whole black chicken (rinsed, chopped)
1 papaya (peeled, diced)
20 grams of ginseng roots, chopped
40g sweet almonds
2 Chinese dates
5 cups of water
Boil the chicken separately for five minutes this time, then add the other ingredients. After they’re boiling, turn them down to a slow simmer for just two hours. Add salt to taste.
Stir-Fried Black Chicken
Theoretically, black chicken can do anything white can. But it’s a shame to mask its unique flavor with breading or glaze, and black chicken is softer, with less fat.
1 whole black chicken cut into small pieces
2 spoonfuls of light soy sauce
2 spoonfuls of sweet black soy sauce
2 cloves of minced garlic
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
Four tablespoons of light oil
First sauté the ginger until golden brown, then add the chicken and garlic . Once the chicken is changing color, add the soy sauce and stir fry for another eight to ten minutes. Just remember moistness is a virtue, and dryness a sin.

Garlic, Black Pepper and Blue Cheese Chicken Wings

While I am a HUGE fan of Buffalo Wings, I’ve found that over time my taste for wings has evolved to favor sauces a little more multi-dimensional (and not scorchingly hot) in nature. The base for this sauce is a slight twist on Ming Tsai’s Black Pepper-Garlic Sauce (Simply Ming: Easy Techniques for East-Meets-West Meals) , which he serves with a fabulous lobster dish at his restaurant “Blue Ginger”. Ever since I tried that amazing meal, I’ve been twisting his sauce to and fro to satisfy the requirements of a number of different culinary whims.
I modify it to use as a wing sauce by adding an herbal note with fresh thyme, and of course, some blue cheese! The nam pla and blue cheese add a salty tang, the garlic, a pungent bite, the black pepper a mellow, slow burn, and the butter smooths it all just enough to let you enjoy the bold flavors without forcing you to reach for a fire extinguisher.  We had these for dinner the other night with a fresh green salad and some crusty bread, but they'd be great as part of a game day spread as you root for your favorite team this football season.
2 pounds chicken wings, cut at the joint, tips removed and reserved for another purpose.
1 tablespoon canola oil 
25 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup scallions, white and green parts only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (heaping) coarsley-ground black pepper
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cups crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme
canola or corn oil for frying

Heat large sauté pan over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and black pepper, and stir. Add the wine, stock, fish sauce, and lemon juice and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and let cool about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on high speed to purée. With the blender running, add the butter one piece at a time to form a creamy sauce.
Take 1 cup of the garlic pepper sauce and place it in a bowl. Whisk in the blue cheese and minced thyme, taste for seasoning and add salt if desired, set aside. Reserve the rest of the sauce, refrigerated for a later use.
Preheat oven to 350 ℉
Place the chicken wings on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.
In large sauce pot or fryer, heat 3-inches of the canola or corn oil, or enough to prevent wings from touching the bottom of the pan, to 375 ℉. Add the baked chicken wings to the oil and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Remove the chicken wings from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Add the wings to the bowl of sauce and toss well to coat. Dump the whole mess onto a platter, or better yet, gather around the bowl and dig in!

Recipe: Apple and Country Ham Risotto Black Chicken Updates has all the black chicken story from a ton of corner of the world wide web – Come around often to keep up to date on black chicken related news headlines as as it’s happening.
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Recipe: Apple and Country Ham Risotto
Apples, hard cider and country ham star in this risotto recipe.
Read more on Seattle Times

Cooking at Home: Mary Claire White
Mary Claire White sums up her cooking in three words: healthy, fresh and inexpensive. But she didn’t always cook that way.
Read more on Memphis Commercial Appeal

Pet expert visits for McKamey fundraiser Paws Around the World
Victoria Stilwell, host of Animal Planet’s popular show “It’s Me or the Dog,” will be in Chattanooga on Friday evening as the guest speaker at McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center’s new fundraiser, Paws Around the World.
Read more on Chattanooga Times Free Press

black chicken from The Twitterverse:
Google Blog Search Results: 585,218 results for black chicken – showing 1 through 5

Black Chicken Must See | The meat can be either chicke…

The Silky Chicken or Black Chicken

this is a rare bird indeed!
well, on my hunt for the "out-of-the-ordinary" i came across this lovely(?) looking creature...YIKES! can i just say YIKES again.  i must say.......this one finally stumped me. you might know i'm pretty adventurous with foods.  i'm no Andrew Zimmer, but i like to go for the strange stuff.  i find a good challenge and give it a go...this one got me.  i still ask myself why?'s just a chicken, right?...well...not so much.
#1...always remember to read the fine print on the package..."head and feet intact" AND it has FIVE TOES instead of four!. i missed that part. as the thing thawed and started to unfold, and i DO mean unfold...this small little wrapped up bird was over 2 feet stretched out. AND IT"S BLUE !!!!! can imagine what i was thinking. i can handle alot of things, but this one was definitely high on the scale of "what the heck am i gonna do with this?" and "what was i thinking?" BUT, curiosity still had the best of me.
#2...investigate and research what your strange product is all about. i found a few sites with recipes for soup...i thought great! a new twist on an old favorite, chicken soup. not so much. as i read further, after purchase, i found that the black chicken is most used for Chinese medicinal purposes...mainly for sick people, pregnant women or just after giving birth. it's a very lean bird, does not necessarily produce a tasty unforgettable unctuous broth...and i don't really fall into one of the needy categories.
#3...keep your game face on. anyone walking in on you dismantling this black (blue) bird will think you are in need of some help...serious help...i don't mean with the soup...
so what do i do ?...i decided to wing it, of course...(again, sorry about the bad pun).
the easiest recipe i found was HERE at  eating club Vancouver by fellow bloggers ts & js.  they call it Mama's Silkie Chicken or "Dyong Kwe".  this recipe seemed easiest to tackle due to the short list of ingredients.  please visit their site for an easy and quick step by step (with photos) to see how Mama does it.
i didn't have a few of the ingredients so i just went with the recipe i use for Duck Soup found HERE.  it sounded pretty similar with Asian style flavors and such.  i thought if the flavors were basic and normal i might be able to salvage a meal or at least a good stock out of this deal....not so my friend.  after thawing, washing and the obvious photo session...i was not so enthused about the out come.  still i went ahead and threw everything in the pot and hoped for the best.  the best never came...the blue skin turned an unappealing limpy blackish grey and the flesh was unlike any chicken i had ever seen.  hmmmmm...not so good.
next, i thought to myself... get the photo of the finished product, make it look pretty and appealing and maybe it will seem more appetizing.  not so my "Mama" always warned me that looks can be deceiving...definitly correct when it comes to food photography.  the photo looked great and i was ready to give it a try, but like i said...this one stumped me. i removed the blackish grey skin that i just knew i was not going to be able to eat, to unveil the tough, lean flesh that was streaked with black...and i mean weirdly streaked with black.  at this point (hours from the start of this little journey) i had to give up for the day...throw in the towel...raise the white flag.   i strained the broth and threw everything into a tupperware for a second chance at it some other time. 
that second chance hasn't come up's in the freezer right now.  i didn't have the heart to toss it. a

Saudi prince jailed for life for murdering servant

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, who murdered Bandar Abdulaziz in their five-star hotel suite. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA
A Saudi prince who strangled and beat his servant to death at the culmination of a campaign of "sadistic" abuse was jailed for life today and told that "no one in this country is above the law".
Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, a grandson of the billionaire king of Saudi Arabia, was ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years for murdering Bandar Abdulaziz in a "brutal" assault at their five-star hotel in central London.
The prince bit the 32-year-old hard on both cheeks during the attack at their suite in February, which was said to have had a "sexual element". He had been drinking champagne and cocktails when he began the ferocious beating after a Valentine's night out.
The Old Bailey had heard that the murder of Abdulaziz was the last act in a "deeply abusive" master-servant relationship in which the prince carried out frequent attacks on his aide "for his own personal gratification".
Saud initially believed he had diplomatic immunity, but his status as a Saudi royal could not save him from arrest and prosecution.
Sentencing him today, Mr Justice Bean said: "It is very unusual for a prince to be in the dock on a murder charge. No one in this country is above the law. It would be wrong for me to sentence you either more severely or more leniently because of your membership of the Saudi royal family."
The judge said he could not be sure that Saud had intended to kill Abdulaziz, but "I think the most likely explanation is that you could not care less whether you killed him or not".
The 34-year-old prince, who stood in the dock with his arms crossed, showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down. He was found guilty of murder yesterday after the jury had deliberated for an hour and 35 minutes.
He was also convicted of a second count of grievous bodily harm with intent, relating to a previous attack on Abdulaziz in a lift at the Landmark hotel, in Marylebone, where the men were staying.
During the trial, jurors were told that by the early hours of 15 February, Abdulaziz was so worn down and injured that he let Saud kill him without a fight. The prince then spent hours on the phone to a mysterious contact in Saudi Arabia trying to decide how to cover up his crime.
Saud also tried to conceal the true nature of his relationship with his servant, claiming they were "friends and equals", but a porter at the hotel said Abdulaziz was treated "like a slave".
The prince claimed he was heterosexual and had a girlfriend in Saudi Arabia, but he had booked appointments with at least two male escorts and one gay masseur, and looked at hundreds of images of men on gay websites. Photographs of Abdulaziz in "compromising" positions were found on his phone.
Saud denied killing his servant until shortly before the trial, when he admitted he had caused his death. Jurors rejected a claim by his barrister, John Kelsey-Fry QC, that Saud was guilty only of manslaughter.
His lawyers also failed in a last-ditch attempt to stop details of his encounters with male escorts being revealed during the trial. In a sign of the anxiety about his sexuality becoming public, the prince's legal team initially argued that the legal argument about the escorts should be held behind closed doors.
Kelsey-Fry said Saud had already faced abuse from Islamic fundamentalists being held alongside him in prison. The court heard that homosexuality remains a capital offence in Saudi Arabia, and the country in which the acts take place has little relevance to prosecution under the country's sharia law. If he ever returns there, Saud faces the possibility of execution. He could seek asylum in Britain when he is eventually released.
The judge said Saud had killed his servant in "a sustained and ferocious assault" and Abdulaziz was a "vulnerable victim entirely subjugated to your will". Saud had treated his victim "as a human punchbag" and had never shown any regret for what had happened.
"If you had any remorse you would have sought medical help immediately. But you were only concerned for yourself," said the judge.

UK court sentences Saudi prince to at least 20 years for murder | AP Nation / World - The News Tribune
LONDON - A British court has sentenced a Saudi prince to at least 20 years in prison for beating and strangling one of his servants at a swank British hotel.

UK court sentences Saudi prince to at least 20 years for murder
Metropolitan Police, HO   AP Photo
In this handout image issued by the Metropolitan Police, Bandar Abdulaziz,a servant who was killed by Saudi Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud. A Saudi prince has been convicted in Britain of murdering a servant. A jury in London's Old Bailey criminal court, on Tuesday Oct. 19, 2010, found Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud guilty of murdering Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz in a frenzied attack in a hotel. The 34-year-old prince faces a possible life sentence. The jury deliberated just 95 minutes before returning its verdict.

LONDON – A British court has sentenced a Saudi prince to at least 20 years in prison for beating and strangling one of his servants at a swank British hotel.
Justice David Bean sentenced Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud to life in prison with a 20 year minimum for the brutal assault at the Landmark Hotel in London on Feb. 15.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw says the prince had abused his aide in the past and that photographs stored on a mobile phone "plainly proved" that there was a "sexual element" to the abuse.
Bean says that while it is unusual for a prince to be a defendant in an murder case, "No one in this country is above the law."
The 34-year-old prince's grandfather is a brother of the current Saudi king.

Saudi Prince Sentenced To At Least 20 Years
A British court sentenced a Saudi prince to at least 20 years in prison Wednesday for beating and strangling one of his servants at a swank British hotel.
Justice David Bean sentenced Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud to life in prison with a 20 year minimum for the brutal assault at the Landmark Hotel in London on Feb. 15. The sensational case had featured days of lurid testimony, complete with video images of the shaven-headed prince brutally assaulting his aide, Bandar Abdulaziz, in a hotel elevator.
"No one in this country is above the law," Bean said. "It would be wrong for me to sentence you either more severely or more leniently because of your membership of the Saudi royal family."
The jury had deliberated just 95 minutes before returning its verdict. The prince was convicted of both murder and a second count of grievous bodily harm with intent relating to the attack in the elevator.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw says the prince had abused his aide in the past and that photographs stored on a mobile phone "plainly proved" that there was a "sexual element" to the abuse.
Al Saud originally told police that he and Abdulaziz had been swigging champagne into the early hours of the morning, and that when he awoke at 3 p.m. he could not rouse Abdulaziz.
Jurors rejected a claim by his defense lawyer John Kelsey-Fry that the prince was guilty only of manslaughter.

Spicezee Bureau

Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s ‘The Switch’ is a funny flick, which romanticises the concept of mismatched identities to the hilt. Starring Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Thomas Robinson, Patrick Wilson and Juliette Lewis, ‘The Switch’ is
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the story of two thick friends Wally (Bateman) and Kassie (Aniston).
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However, things go crazy when Wally’s pal Leonard (Goldblum) takes a liking for Kassie. With Kassie deciding to have a baby without the hang-ups of a relationship, she goes for artificial insemination and solicits a sperm donor named Roland (Wilson), and hosts an amusing insemination party.
With Wally getting sloshed in the party, he makes a blunder with Roland`s sperm specimen and feels morally obliged to replace it with his own.
Post Wally’s faux pas, seven years have passed during which Kassie moved away from New York and had a charming son Sebastian (Robinson). One fine day, Kassie decides to move back to the city and arranges a meet with Wally. Amusingly, Wally is unable to recall what happened seven years ago but finds an uncanny resemblance between him and Sebastian.
‘The Switch’ is a funny film with lots of humorous moments. Watch out for Jason Bateman who keeps tickling your funny-bone with his zinging dialogues. Aniston is lovable and charming. Goldblum and Lewis can act and are nice addition to the film. Young young Robinson is a great find.
With right cast and loads of humour, ‘The Switch’ is every bit enjoyable.
Ratings: Three cheers for this one!

The Switch

Story: Jennifer Aniston tries to keep pace with her biological clock and decides to go in for artificial insemination when she fails to find a boyfriend who can be husband material too. Why escape the joys of motherhood, she tells herself and finds a suitable donor in Patrick Wilson, an assistant professor of feminist studies at Columbia. But best friend, Jason Bateman, accidentally makes a switch, replacing the donor's sperm with his own.
Of course, Aniston has no idea about it and is confronted with the seedy truth, seven years later when her son, Sebastian seems to have a greater affinity with her best friend (Bateman) rather than with his biological father, Wilson.
Movie Review: Where have all the husbands gone? Just a few weeks ago, it was Jennifer Lopez who opted for artificial insemination because she couldn't find the perfect mate in Back-up Plan. This time, it's 40-year-old feminist TV producer, Jennifer Aniston who inseminates herself with a turkey baster, when she fails to find her Mr Right: a man who would double up as perfect husband and great daddy to her unborn kid.
Are these really the new age feminists that Hollywood rom-coms are trying to throw up? You got to be joking! It doesn't take long for both our Jennifers to realise that single motherhood is hardly an option for the independent woman even as a world-without-men is a desolate, despicable and disastrous scenario for the sassy singleton. Lopez falls in love with a cheese farmer on the day she inseminates herself, while Aniston fails to pay heed to best friend Bateman's warnings, only to end up falling in love with him, seven years later. Of course, before that, she tries her best to bond with her son's supposedly biological father, Patrick Wilson who sadly shares no chemistry with neither the mom, nor his son. The poor professor tries his best to strike a rapport with his melancholic, neurotic, high-strung six-year-old son, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) but ends up awkward and embarrassed after a disastrous birthday party in Central Park. It doesn't take long before Aniston realises why Sebastian seems to be bonding so well with the also-neurotic Bateman, who pitches in as the baby-sitter, while Aniston desperately tries to romance the wrong daddy.
The film unfolds like a predictable rom-com, but has its moments, mostly conjured up by the young kid, Thomas Robinson who does a fine tango with the self-absorbed, emotional and somewhat funny Bateman. Robinson may have a personality disorder, but it sure is an engaging one. For who wouldn't be drawn towards a kid who prefers causes like global warming and animal welfare over video gaming and cartoon network! As for Aniston, she's likeable, as always, in a candy floss way that seems to come naturally to her.
Sweet, sentimental and sufficiently funny, The Switch is a decent weekend watch.

 ‘The Switch’: Puzzled relationships (IANS Movie Review - Rating: ***)

Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck; Actors: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson
Often we go through relationships in life, comfortable in the existence of a best friend who supports us. What we don’t consider is that the best friend could become the spouse.
Wally (Bateman) and Kassie (Aniston) have that relationship. Though Wally likes her and keeps telling her that in different ways, Kassie strictly keeps him in the best friend zone. Problem occurs when Kassie decides to get artificially inseminated and looks around for a sperm donor. Wally asks what’s wrong with him but Kassie wants to have the best possible sperm for herself.
She finds Roland (Wilson) and throws a party on the day. In a drunken stupor, however, Wally replaces Roland’s sperm with his own, not even remembering the incident. After becoming pregnant, Kassie moves away from New York and returns seven years later with her son Sebastian (Robinson).
When Wally interacts with Sebastian, he suspects the worst. When his fear that he is the father turns true, he wants to tell Kassie but can’t. To complicate things further Kassie begins a relationship with Roland.
“The Switch” is a commentary on many aspects of modern life. In our zest for the best, we forget the most compatible one that is next to us. The solution is merely to make a switch in one’s mind and consider a different possibility.
Jason Bateman plays the distraught Wally well. Jennifer Aniston is plastic, and cannot emote, perhaps due to the botox on her face. The boon of starring in “Friends” has become her “bane” and she has been unable to shake off that stereotyping.
It is however Thomas Robinson who plays his part as an over intelligent, hypochondriac kid with believability, cuteness and a quite a few laughter. Here’s a kid to watch out for.
Observant Indian audiences will notice a first of its kind censor cut, where the reason this time is male nudity and not female.
The mainstay of the film is a steady pace throughout, believable characters, settings and dialogues, even though the concept might seem a little far-fetched. Though branded a comedy, it is a little slice of urban American life. Considering the rapidity with which urban Indian life is turning American, Indian audiences are bound to enjoy this.

 The Switch is Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston’s latest movie and in the movie, she stars as a single woman whose biological clock is ticking fast while she fails to find a suitable man to marry and have children with.

 Jennifer Aniston switch focus in life

Aniston decides not to let her lack of a marriage partner stand in her way of becoming a mother so she decides to get her eggs fertilized through artificial insemination and gets access to the sperms of Patrick Wilson, a Columbia University Assistant of female studies. However through fate, Wilson’s sperms are accidentally swapped with that of Jason Bateman, who happens to be Aniston’s best pal.
Seven years after the birth of Aniston’s son Sebastian, the real truth of the matter is revealed after Sebastian develops a closer relationship with Bateman than Wilson, his supposed biological father.
It seems like husbands are very scarce nowadays after both Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston found it difficult to get marriage partners in Back-up Plan and The Switch respectively.
Aniston, 40 works as a TV producer who is all for women’s independence decides to settle for anyone after failing to find a great husband and father for the child she wants to give birth to.
The types of independent women being portrayed in the latest Hollywood movies are hardly the real situation on the ground as many women who want to live their lives without men are not looking to give birth and raise their kids on their own without the help of their fathers.
Jennifer Lopez developed a huge affection for a man who worked as a cheese farmer in the movie the same day she had her insemination while Aniston also refuses to listen to the advice of Bateman about the artificial insemination but ends up in a love relationship with him after seven years.
After failing to get her son to have a close relationship with Wilson who she wrongly thought was her son’s biological father, Aniston notices and starts wondering why her kid is so fond of her best pal Jason Bateman who sometimes had to take care of Sebastian while Aniston tried to date Wilson.
Even though there wasn’t much suspense in the movie, the performance of the little boy Thomas Robinson was impressive as he had a great on-screen relationship with Jason Bateman. He was also very intelligent and seemed to be compassionate.
Aniston was also quite charming on screen as always and gave a great performance.

Weezer - Weezer's Split Deal

Weezer have responded to an online campaign encouraging them to split up, saying they will if they are paid $20 million.

Weezer will split up for $20 million.
The 'Buddy Holly' group - who recently released their eighth studio album, 'Hurley' - have responded to an online campaign offering them $10 million to call it a day, saying they will do it for double the amount.
Drummer Patrick Wilson - who makes up the band alongside singer Rivers Como, guitarist Brian Bell and bassist Scott Shriner - posted a joke tweet reading: "If they can make it 20, we'll do the 'deluxe breakup'!
The campaign to get Weezer to split was started by Seattle resident James Burns, who believes the group has underachieved since their 1996 album 'Pinkerton'.
He explained: "I have never been a fan of this band. I think that they are pretty much horrible, and always have been. Even in the early 90s.
"But this isn't about me. This is about the Weezer fans. Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he's changed, and that their new album is the best thing that he's done since Pinkerton, and what happens? Another pile of c**p like 'Beverly Hills' or 'I'm Your Daddy'."
James has made the offer via a pledge page on the website and has so far raised $182 and is pledging all fans of 'Pinkerton' to contribute $12 to his cause.
He added: "This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to stop now. I'm sick of hearing about whatever this terrible (and yes, even if you like the early stuff, you should be able to admit that they are wretched now) excuse for a band is up to these days.
"If all 852,000 of you (really?) who bought Pinkerton pitch in $12, we will meet our goal. I beg you, Weezer. Take our money and disappear."

Village Board Officially Announces Film Shoot

Roll Film!
The Massapequa Village Board officially announced that a major Hollywood film is shooting on Park Boulevard this week.
"Young Adults," starring Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson, will be filming on-location in Woody's Tavern, according to Mayor James Altadonna.
"They're due to start shooting the movie in Massapequa Park tomorrow, and should be here for several days," he said. "This is very exciting for our town."
Village officials said  last month that the film  was considering the area as a location.  "Young Adults" is the latest movie from the director/writer team  of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody,  who were responsible for 2007's hit film "Juno."
Altadonna also awarded accolades Monday to the first-place winners of the annual Massapequa Park Bocce Tournament held recently in Brady Park.
Charlie Murphy, Joe Thomson, Pasquale Barbara, and Tony Orlando were presented with trophies by the Mayor who congratulated them on their Bocce prowess.
Next, a certificate of achievement was given to the members of the Massapequa Park Garden Club, now in their tenth year, for their contributions to the Village.
"Everywhere you go, everyone says they want to be in Massapequa Park because of how beautiful it is," Altadonna said. "It's a credit to all of you. Thank you."
And finally, the Massapequa Park Seniors, a recreation center based out of Brady Park and sponsored by the Village, was on-hand to present Mayor Altadonna with a beautiful tan afghan.
"It's in appreciation for everything he's done for us," said Senior Center director Roseann Vainder.
Altadonna was quite impressed by the cozy, seven foot-long afghan, knitted over the course of two weeks by Senior Center member Lena Mastrandrea.
"I've tried to buy a blanket for quite a long time," he said. "They were never big enough."
When official business got underway, topics included an authorization for the Village Administrator to sign a contract with Showtiques Crafts, Inc., to run the 2011 Street fair, and approved a hearing to be held November 8 regarding a proposed new stop sign on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Front Street.
Also covered were several minor budget issues and the authorization to establish a standard work day for elected and appointed officials to comply with the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System.

Patton Oswalt And Patrick Wilson Join The Stalking In Young Adult

Even if the sheen has worn off Juno after all this time, you'd still have to be pretty foolish not to be excited about Young Adult, another film written by Diablo Cody to be directed by Jason Reitman. The film is already set to star Charlize Theron as a young adult author who returns to her hometown to sorta-kinda stalk her hunky ex-boyfriend, and though Josh Brolin had been rumored for the ex role, he confirmed a few weeks back he wasn't part of the film.
Luckily there's no shortage of attractive men looking for work in Hollywood, and The LA Times reports that Patrick Wilson has signed on for the ex-boyfriend role, and Patton Oswalt has also gotten on board the production, which starts shooting soon in New York. The Times doesn't specify Oswalt's role but over at The Playlist they've read the script and think he'll play Theron's overweight, disabled best friend "not afraid to call her out on her shit." Apparently the handicapped fat best friend is the new "sassy gay best friend," but since it's Diablo Cody I'll hold off on judging for now.
Though Wilson has worked with a whole litany of great directors in the past, it's actually Oswalt who's had the better career fortunes lately following his stellar, creepy lead turn in last year's Big Fan (Wilson, on the other hand, was recently stuck in the middling The Switch). Both of them are more than welcome in a project with this much talent involved, especially one that will allow them both to be funny and dramatic at the same time. I cooled significantly on Jason Reitman after he was seemingly everywhere during the Up in the Air press tour, but by the time Young Adult comes around next year (inevitably during the Toronto Film Festival, I'd imagine) I think I'll be glad to have him back.

Jason Reitman's 'Young Adult' Set Photos (Exclusive)

We were lucky enough to stumble across the now-in-production 'Young Adult' earlier today, which is currently filming scenes in Massapequa Park, NY. The production has taken over the small Long Island town for at least the rest of the week, with residents crowding the streets in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the film's star Charlize Theron. With 'Young Adult', director Jason Reitman reunites with his 'Juno' screenwriter Diablo Cody on a story about a young adult novelist (Theron) who returns to her hometown in the hopes of re-connecting with an old flame (Patrick Wilson).
Though the film is being shot on Long Island, the setting is a small town in Minnesota. Aside from a Minnesota Wild-themed bar window and a few scattered license plates, there's not a whole lot of Minnesota oozing out of the stuff we've seen so far. In the scene we watched them shoot, Theron's character was sitting on a park bench with her sleek laptop open and little frenetic dog hopping around in the background. Suddenly, she gets a call on her blackberry and stops everything. Who is it and what do they want? We'll have to wait awhile to get those answers; 'Young Adult' won't arrive in theaters until late next year.

Patrick Wilson - Patrick Wilson Stars In The Normal Heart Anniversary

The American actor PATRICK WILSON starred in an anniversary reading of the ground-breaking play 'The Normal Heart', at the Public Theatre in New York on Monday 18th October 2010. The production, written by playwright LARRY KRAMER about the AIDS epidemic, was celebrating its 25th year anniversary.
Joel Grey, who starred in the original production and produced Monday's reading, spoke to the New York Daily News about the play's relevance in the 21st century, saying, "Young men are living on these HIV drugs for a long, long time. However, the youngsters think that nothing will happen to them, and they're not practicing safe sex, so it's very scary". 37-year-old Wilson was joined by the Hollywood actress GLENN CLOSE for the reading.
Wilson is not unfamiliar with the play's subject matter, in 2003 he starred in the HBO miniseries 'Angels in America', which followed the story of a gay couple living in New York during the Reagan administration. However, their lives are turned upside down after the revelation that one of them is HIV positive. Wilson won both GOLDEN GLOBE and EMMY AWARD nominations for his role as 'Joe Pitt', a Mormon gay lawyer.

PHOTO FLASH: Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Victor Garber, Jack McBrayer, Patrick Wilson, et al. At The Normal Heart Benefit


On Monday, October 18, the 25th anniversary benefit reading of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart was held at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
Tony Award winner and Oscar winner Joel Grey directed the production, which was a benefit for the Actors Fund and Friends In Deed. Daryl Roth produced the event.
The cast featured Michael Cerveris, Glenn Close, Santino Fontana, Victor Garber, Jason Butler Harner, John Benjamin Hickey, Joe Mantello, Jack McBrayer, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Patrick Wilson.
The play, which was first produced by the Public Theater, focuses on the terrifying early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York. Grey appeared in the original 1985 Off-Broadway production.
In addition to Kramer, who made an appearance at the curtain call, notables in the audience included Jordan Baker, Adam Bock, Matthew Broderick, Charles Busch, Andy Cohen, Rick Elice, Dominic Fumusa, Carol Kane, Kevin Kilner, Kathleen Marshall, Andrea Martin, Martin Pakledinaz, and Roger Rees.

Interview: Patrick Wilson is ‘Barry Munday’

The title character in Barry Munday isn’t exactly the kind of character you’d picture when you think of actor Patrick Wilson. He is a giant man-child who has yet to grow up. A mostly failed womanizer, saddled with a dull work life, who fancies picking up girls at Chili’s and playing video games in his underwear. He’s much like you and me, but nothing like Patrick Wilson.
Despite these not so flattering characteristics, Barry is likable. He’s that well-intentioned guy who’s not entirely self-aware who does perhaps more harm than good, and yet you still root for him in the end. So when he inpregnates a girl who’s not exactly his type, you buy him wanting to stick around to finally take responsibility and enter manhood. That’s what Barry Munday is about: Manhood.
Wilson has played characters in the past that don’t exactly have the highest self-esteem or are the ideal heroes, but Barry is different. He’s not the typical protagonist and Wilson embraces that fact. After Hard Candy, Little Children, and Watchmen it’s surprising to see Wilson in this type of role, and that seemed to have been apart of the attraction to becoming Barry Munday for him.
Here’s what Patrick Wilson had to say about emasculated men and Barry Munday.
It’s a bit surprising that after Little Children and Hard Candy you weren’t offered more comedies, was it nice being offered something so different?
(Laughs) I guess, looking at it from that perspective… Anyone who knows me knows I’m kind of an idiot, so I always felt like it came to finding the right sort of people that believed in me. Chris D’Arienzo, the director, felt like he wanted something different. Some of the people who were attached to it before were also not known for comedy, but I think that was the idea: having someone you wouldn’t normally assume in this role. In the book, he was a little bit more of an everyman, but I selfishly wanted to make an outlandish character to have some fun.
Typically, with these types of movies, you have the crazy characters surrounding you and the central figure is the more grounded guy. I thought in order for us to buy him in this world, let him be as odd as the rest of the film.
Wouldn’t you say he’s grounded, though? He feels real.
Oh, definitely. It’s not like I created some crazy guy, but I felt like it was just as bizarre as the story was. I’ve played a lot of emasculated men whether it was emotional or physical or whatever, so despite the bizarre setup, it’s a real journey of somebody becoming a man and becoming a father. But I agree with you, he feels real.
With a character like Barry, you could easily go over-the-top. Can you talk about playing a character that is a little odd, but never making him a cartoon?
It’s funny, whenever I teach master classes prominently with musical theater kids you can adapt this rule to the question you’re asking: Whatever your reality is whether it’s a broad musical comedy or Greek theater or whether it’s Watchmen or Barry Munday, that character lives in his own reality. There are real choices and real emotions that they’re dealing with. Once you get to the core of what the guy is about, which is: Funny guy, yes. Lonely guy, yes. Searching for what it is like being a father and having no father? Great. All of those I can put into any character and they’re in most.
Once you got that core and the script supports it, you can go as broad as you want. We could’ve made Barry even broader, but you get in that first scene who he is. I feel like once you can establish the core of somebody, and it’s the same with Watchmen too, you can go as broad as you want. Then you’re putting on stuff whether it is hair or weight or the glasses, and then you’re creating a character externally. But for me, there has to be a real character.
The story itself could have been done very overly broad as well. What’s it like when you explain the concept of the film and say it’s not that overly broad comedy that it sounds like?
Oh, it’s terrible. Chris and I have become very good friends, but trying to describe the movie to someone it doesn’t sound funny at all. It sounds stupid and in bad taste. Like you get, “Oh, yeah. That’s gonna be a real fun movie, good luck with that one…” Imagine explaining it like, “So then a guy gets his nuts cut off,” and it just doesn’t work. And please, for a guy that almost had it done in Hard Candy and it happened in Little Children with Jackie [Earle Haley] and Dan Dreigberg was certainly emotionally castrated, so I’ve dealt with that enough in movies. If it wasn’t good I wouldn’t want to touch it at all, but with this I felt like I couldn’t say no. It was too different and too cool of a character that I haven’t played.
Did you find making Barry likable at all difficult?
I never go into a role thinking I got to make a character likable, but again, you do feel like on the page when you see the word “Ladies Man” it always comes off as so slimy. Once I figured out that Barry is actually the most positive person you’ll ever be around and that he’s actually an eternal optimist that’s lonely, I think those are things people can latch onto and also pull for.
There are two types of people that you refer to as a ladies man: There’s the guy that is dismissive to every other women that he doesn’t want to be with, but Barry isn’t that guy. Barry kind of loves everybody (laughs). I always felt like his optimism and good attitude made you get past that he was trying to sleep with girls. At the same point, I didn’t want to water him down by trying so hard to make him likable, but to just make him interesting.
Wouldn’t you say it’s important for Barry to be likable in some sense? If he weren’t, would you really cheer for him to succeed and become a father at the end?
Oh, I’ll give you that. Every role I’ve ever played, same with Hard Candy, I don’t care if you like me or don’t like me, but I do want you to care. You have to care. If you’re not pulling for this guy then you’re dead in the water. For me, you certainly want to care because you want to feel towards the end of the film, “Come on, Ginger. Take it easy on this guy; he’s not that bad. He’s trying.” It becomes a very genuine arc for him and he wants to man up and have some responsibility, so there’s certainly an argument for that.
When the movie starts out, you get this odd feeling that this guy was raised without a father and you find out that was the case, and when you read the script did that make a lot of sense to you as well?
Yeah. I kind of felt like that. It made complete sense. [Spoiler Alert] In the book there’s more of, and we left it on the cutting room floor, there’s more of really questioning whether the kid is the Asian neighbor’s and then finding out the dad is Asian [Spoiler Over]. All that stuff is much more prominent in the book. In that first scene you see of Barry and his mom looking at those photos together, that was Jean [Smart] and I’s first scene together. It was already into heavy mother-son relationship right at the beginning. It was, “Nice to meet you, and then now we have a thirty-five year mother-son relationship. Go!”
Barry is sort of the last guy you’d think would want to be a father. What do you think motivates him?
In those terms, he’s a very basic person. The fact that he doesn’t have any testicles anymore takes away from the fact of so much of his life was about overcoming his loneliness by going out with as many women as he could, which made him feel cool. When your whole sex drive is taken away, which was weirdly what kept him going, I think he was faced with this impending fatherhood. It literally comes down to that.
Don’t you think his womanizing was makes him even sadder? He’s trying to get women just so he can feel loved.
Yeah, but isn’t it like that for most people? I mean, I’m thirty-seven and I had my fun when I was single, but I’m sure anyone who goes out for that many women they’re obviously lonely and looking for something. I’m not condemning it, but he also doesn’t really have any friends. When Donald is his best friend and doesn’t even know the most major thing that happened in his life, it’s sad. Not everybody goes after women because they’re extremely lonely, but I think he’s incredibly lonely because he doesn’t have any friends, so maybe it’s more so for Barry than the average person that sleeps around.
Aren’t Donald and him perfect for each other in a sense that they’re both people still trying to live in the era they felt cool in?
What we tried to do with these guys is we wanted to put them in the era that they felt the coolest in, so everybody is in eighties and the seventies. With Barry, Chris and I talked about early nineties post-High School rugby shirts. He’s a little pudgy and he’s still trying to act like he goes to the gym. For each character, you want them to feel like they’re dressed for the era they felt cool in. Ginger, she is more so like a grandmother.
But when you get to the end, Ginger and Barry are basically the same people.
Of course. Look, the movie is funny and quirky, but I also think it has a tremendous amount of heart. I’ve never felt so weirdly removed from a character where I genuinely miss Barry and Ginger. I guess they change at the end because they found each other, but they don’t really change (laughs). They’re the same kind of oddball people and I think that’s what makes it so sweet. It’s not like he’s cool all of the sudden and loses his look. He’s still the same dork.
You mentioned earlier how you’ve played a lot of emasculated characters. With Barry Munday, Watchmen, Little Children, and even Lakeview Terrace that seems to be a theme you play into a lot, is that just a coincidence or is that just a theme you find appealing?
Probably a little of both, and also for what I get hired for. To me, I always gravitate towards scripts that have a real arc where the character can have a real journey. Whether it’s Hard Candy or Watchmen, with Nite Owl being what motivates Dan, or Little Children, him feeling totally emasculated and his journey trying to be a man and have some responsibility similar to this story. That’s usually where I start anyway, but as a result of me liking that I’m probably better at those. It’s a little of both.
So you’re okay with playing characters that are slightly similar thematically?
Yeah, I guess. I think they’re all sort of different characters, but in the most basic sense, yes. They’re all men and I think Dan Dreiberg is drastically different from Brad in Little Children, but at the same time it’s a guy who has no identity and is searching for that. He just needs to figure that out by the end of the story, and that’s Barry as well. He has no identity. For him, his identity is being a father.