|Bob Hope Hits 100! |
Jesse James, Quickie Planets,
Ancient VR, Martian Aircraft,
Asteroid Collides in 2880 & More!
|Hope Springs Eternal!|
|By FLAtRich |
Hollywood May 27, 2003 (eXoNews) - "I was lucky, you know. I always had a beautiful girl and the money was good. Although I would have done the whole thing over for, oh, perhaps half." - Bob Hope
As everyone on the planet should know by now, Bob Hope turns 100 on Thursday May 29, 2003. That's a lotta jokes, folks.
I only have one Bob Hope story and it isn't very good. I was living in Hollywood years ago and Hope was scheduled to be the Grand Master of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. This event is thrown yearly by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the same people who present those famous gold stars on Hollywood Boulevard.
I trotted down to stand in the crowd, usually estimated at about a million residents and tourists, and Mr. Hope and his wife came by in a sparkling convertible. He turned to face the other side of the boulevard as the car passed me. For a moment I thought I'd miss my chance, but then I shouted out "Hey, Robert!" as loud as I could and Mr. Hope spun around and waved right at me with a big Bob Hope smile.
He didn't know me, of course, but I knew him. Everybody does.
It is probably hard to be Bob Hope right now, a living legend and secluded away from show business. He was lucky, though, because his wife Dolores is still with him and his kids.
Many of his co-stars are gone, but they live on through his works.
I missed the Bob Hope radio days and I wasn't around when the best Hope films premiered, so it took me a while to discover The Big Broadcast of 1938 and the many others that he did with and without Bing.
I found out that Mr. Hope was one of the funniest guys who ever graced the silver screen, despite the critical pans then and now. He had a company of writers and idea men working for him who knew what made people laugh without resorting to the kind of crude insults and scatology that permeates current stand up routines and sitcoms.
Beginning with the mystery-comedies The Cat and The Canary (1939) and The Ghost Breakers (1940), Hope's swaggering coward heroes rescued Hollywood's top beautiful leading ladies from the clutches of all the classic Big Bads.
His largely unintentional defeat of Nazis and gangsters and evil politicians and zombies usually won him the lady, unless Crosby was there to grab her and leave Bob telling the audience to stay in their seats. It ain't over yet, folks!
Larry Haines, the character Hope played opposite Miss Carroll in My Favorite Blonde, was reborn again as Robert Kittredge in They Got Me Covered (1943) with his Road picture co-star Dorothy Lamour. It was honed to perfection as baby photographer turned private eye Ronnie Jackson in My Favorite Brunette (1947), also co-starring Dorothy Lamour.
The following year, Mr. Hope tried a western comedy with Jane Russell called The Paleface which was funny enough to spawn the memorable Son of Paleface in 1952, a musical sequel with Miss Russell and Roy Rogers.
Hope repeated the favorite formula a fourth time with Hedy Lamarr in My Favorite Spy (1951) and hammed his way through Casanova's Big Night (1954), but the bumbling innocent persona seemed to fade after he made a more serious musical in 1955 about real-life Vaudeville actor Eddie Foy and his act the Seven Little Foys.
Mr. Hope has won five honorary Oscars, two Emmys (and two Emmy nominations), two Golden Globes, and a SAG Life Achievement Award among his other statues and medals.
The centennial celebration of Mr. Hope's birth will be felt across the world.
On May 27th the Los Angeles County board of Supervisors proclaimed Bob Hope "Citizen of the Century". On the 29th, Hollywood will host the dedication of "Bob Hope Square" at Hollywood and Vine.
May 29th will be proclaimed as Bob Hope Day in 35 states.
|Jesse James: The Search Goes On|
|Kearney MO May 12, 2003 (AP) - Bank robber Jesse James eluded lawmen for most of his natural life. Being dead hasn't made him any easier to pin down. |
Over the next few weeks, anthropologists and historians will try to determine whether Jeremiah James, who died in 1935, could have been the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Jeremiah James' corpse was exhumed Saturday in Neodesha, Kan.
This latest effort comes a few years after a 1995 study in which researchers declared they had found the criminal celebrity's remains in Kearney, Mo.
But Ron Pastore, director of the Jesse James Museum in Wichita, derided the Kearney expedition, calling it "sleight of hand." His research listed more than 30 reasons why the body of Jeremiah Woodson James, who was exhumed at Kearney, could not be the James of legend. He also faulted the DNA study done at the time.
The team behind the Kearney study could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
In Neodesha on Saturday, samples of hair, bones and teeth were obtained for DNA analysis. Historians think it is possible that the real Jesse James faked his own death in 1882.
Pastore hopes this exhumation will answer his questions.
"I'm wanting to know: Did Jesse James fake his own death? If he did, who did he then become, and if this is him, who was killed in St. Joe?" he said.
Bill Kurtis, who is documenting the exhumation and DNA analysis for the History Channel, said the story is good even if Jeremiah James does not turn out to be Jesse James. That, he said, is because more than 120 years after Jesse James' death, family and historians still can't agree on how and when the notorious outlaw actually died.
"So, was Jesse James shot in the back of the head by the cowardly Bob Ford, as conventional wisdom has led us to believe?" he asked. "The truth is, we still don't know for sure, which leads us to explore other theories as they emerge."
James Body Exhumed - Again?
Neodesha, Kansas May 12, 2003 (AP) - Anthropologists say they may have finally caught up to legendary outlaw Jesse James.
About two dozen people watched yesterday as the body said to be Jeremiah James was exhumed in southeastern Kansas. Jeremiah James reportedly died of a broken heart in 1935.
But some historians think it's really Jesse James. Researchers will use DNA analysis to test hair, bones and teeth to see if the hunch is correct.
Descendants of Jeremiah James are skeptical. One 99-year-old descendant remembers Jeremiah James for his brown eyes, while Jesse James had blue eyes. She says Jeremiah was born in 1847, lived into his late 80s and died less than two months after his wife passed away.
Historians think Jesse James may have faked his death in 1882.
The outlaw is supposed to be buried in St. Joseph, Missouri. Recent attempts to find his real burial site have been made in Kearney (KAHR'-nee), Missouri and Granbury, Texas.
|Deadly Toxin Threatens Dolphins and Seals|
|By Deena Beasley |
LOS ANGELES May 27, 2003 (Reuters) — A naturally occurring but deadly toxin produced by sea algae is killing record numbers of dolphins and sea lions along sections of California's southern coast, the state's wildlife agency said recently.
The animals are being poisoned by domoic acid, a nerve toxin produced by a certain species of microscopic algae, said the California Department of Fish and Game.
The exact cause is a mystery, but scientists speculate that the algae may be thriving on nutrients from agricultural runoff or sewage, said Chamois Anderson, a spokeswoman for the department. Weather patterns could also play a role.
Since April, five dolphins and 148 California sea lions have been found stranded on beaches from Santa Barbara County south through Orange County.
All of the dolphins died and many of the sea lions, most of them large adult pregnant females, are being treated at marine mammal rehabilitation centers. Pelicans have also been taken to shelters for care, the state agency said.
Marine animals and seabirds can be poisoned by eating small fish that have ingested the toxin. Filter-feeding animals like mussels and small fish like sardines feed on the toxin-laced algae.
Last year, according to the California wildlife agency, more than 1,000 marine mammals were found stranded or dead on state beaches. Hundreds of seabirds, including endangered brown pelicans, grebes, and loons, were also affected by that outbreak.
Domoic acid can cause human illness or even death, and the California Department of Health Services warns each year not to eat self-harvested mussels or shellfish between May 1 and Oct. 31.
The health agency also advises Californians to eat only the white meat of sport-harvested, bivalve clams or scallops and said elevated levels of domoic acid have been detected in mussels, oysters, sardines, and anchovies from Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties. So far, there have been no reported cases of human poisoning from domoic acid in the state.
Officials said people should not try to help beached animals or birds because domoic acid poisoning can provoke aggressive behavior and the animals are too sick to go back in the water.
|Loose The Bugs of War|
|By Jeremy Lovell |
LONDON May 19, 2003 (Reuters) - Technology advances will turn future battlefields into a mass of sensors giving troops up-to-the-minute information on the enemy, experts said Monday.
"We are talking about a battlefield that literally talks to the soldiers, within the next 20 years," said Maj. Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies.
Heyman, a soldier for 23 years and now a military analyst, was speaking at the Future Weaponry Conference at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think-tank. He said the problem for both front-line troops and army commanders throughout the ages had been getting accurate and timely information about the enemy.
Even in the latest war in Iraq, when American commanders had been able to track their forces with pinpoint accuracy and had Predator drones in the sky, they had in many cases been ignorant of what lay in front.
"I am hearing reports from Iraq saying that knowing what was happening six hours ago was interesting, but what forward commanders really need is information about what the enemy is actually doing now," Heyman said.
The answer, he said, lay in spreading hundreds of tiny sensors across the enemy's positions that would send out constant sound, visual and electronic intelligence. The sensors, which need be no bigger than a matchbox and can be disguised to resemble small rocks, can operate for a long time using digital communications in bursts to make them impossible to detect, Heyman added.
Some might even be able to fly short distances to visually verify information picked up from other bugs.
Others took a different view.
"This is the tail wagging the dog," said Wing Commander Rich Luck of the UK Ministry of Defense. "You need to completely rethink command and control then develop the technology, not let the technology drive the change."
Defense analyst David Stuples observed that forward units could not possibly digest all the raw information and would in effect be turned into little freelance armies operating alone.
But all agreed that the technology was coming and noted its potential use in monitoring sensitive border areas such as between India and Pakistan or tracking terror groups.
|Quickie Planets in Just 3 Million Years|
|By Deborah Zabarenko |
WASHINGTON May 26, 2003 (Reuters) - Recipe for an "instant" Earth-like planet: scrape up cosmic dust swirling around a newborn star and wait a mere three million years.
Even the building blocks for giant gas planets like Jupiter might form just as quickly, about three times faster than many scientists believe, a team of astronomers reported on Monday.
Three million years may sound like a long time when set against the human life span, but it is a relative blink of the eye in cosmic time. Earth is considered a middle-aged planet at about 4.5 billion years or so, and compared to Earth, these theoretical 3-million-year-old planets would be formed when the star they orbit is the equivalent of a 1-week-old baby.
Astronomers Elizabeth Lada of the University of Florida in Gainesville and Karl Haisch of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor concluded that the beginnings of planets might form about three million years after stars are born by studying the dusty disks that form around the infant stars.
These disks are made of cosmic dust and gas that can either be absorbed into the still-forming star or spun out into clumps of material that can become planets. But without a disk, it is unlikely that planets will form around a star.
The team found that while disks surrounded many star babies as they clustered together in stellar nurseries at about 1 million years of age, there were relatively few by the time the stars were 3 million years old and none by the time they were 6 million years old.
"For the very youngest (star) clusters, 80 (percent) to 90 percent of stars in the cluster have a disk," Lada said in a telephone interview. "But when we looked toward older clusters, the number of stars that had an indicator of a disk decreased with age until we got out to five or six million years, when the dust that we're sensitive to is gone."
The astronomers looked at four prime star-forming regions located in the constellations Orion and Perseus, located some 1,000 light-years from Earth. A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year.
To detect potentially planet-forming disks around the young clustered stars, the scientists monitored infrared light. They found the dusty disks took infrared light from the central star and gave off infrared light of their own, so when Lada and her colleagues found excess infrared emissions, they presumed the presence of a dust disk.
Because they found that in most cases, the dust disk dissipates in three million years or less, they figured that terrestrial, rocky planets like Earth -- which are made from such dust -- must at least start to form in that time.
They figured the gas in the disks must dissipate just as quickly, which would mean that gassy giants like Jupiter would begin forming at about the same point in time.
These findings were reported at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Nashville, Tennessee.
Astronomers had previously figured that planets could form in as little as 10 million years or so after star birth.
However, supercomputer simulations reported last year in the journal Science suggested an even quicker path to planetary formation, with calculations indicating that big Jupiter-type planets might form in as little as hundreds of years, instead of millions.
|East Lansing May 27, 2003 (AP) - High school pupil Joe Kavanagh wanted to break a world record, so he gathered 800 sets of black glasses with fuzzy eyebrows and moustaches. |
About 800 pupils and faculty members at East Lansing High School donned the disguises on Thursday in an effort to break the Guinness world record for the most people in one place at one time wearing Groucho Marx glasses.
The previous mark was 522 people.
Participants at the school had to wear the glasses made famous by the zany comedian for 20 minutes to break the record.
|Ancient Roman VR Recreated|
|Coventry UK May 21, 2003 (BBC) - The Romans invented many things but it may come as a surprise to some that they could also be responsible for a rudimentary version of virtual reality. |
Researchers at the University of Warwick have uncovered 3D paintings in the ancient villas of Pompeii which used tricks similar to virtual reality to impress guests.
The researchers have recreated the extravagant 3D wall paintings of theatre scenes to allow 21st century viewers to tread the boards of the long-lost Roman theatres.
The project, carried out by the University of Warwick's e-lab in conjunction with the School of Theatre Studies, combines the Roman wall paintings with state-of-the-art computer modeling to study the paintings in detail.
It has emerged that the frescoes used a technique called perspective scenic painting to suggest 3D architectural structures on 2D surfaces.
Used first in 5th century BC Greek theatre, the technique was later taken up by the Romans to decorate their lavish homes.
|Sarandon Attacks Oscar|
|By Tom Leonard |
Telegraph Media Editor
Hollywood May 27, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - The Hollywood star Susan Sarandon has attacked the Oscars, accusing organizers of trying to "control" the event right down to what winners do with their awards.
Sarandon, 56, one of Hollywood's most committed activists and a Left-leaning liberal, also condemned media coverage of the Iraq war. Broadcasters treated it like a "reality TV show" and should be ashamed, she told Radio Times magazine.
Sarandon, who won a best actress Oscar for Dead Man Walking and who has been nominated four other times, was temporarily banned from the Academy Awards ceremony after she and her longtime boyfriend, the actor Tim Robbins, protested at the event in 1993 over the treatment of Haitian immigrants.
"I changed that to 'market value'. It's only an Oscar, not sperm."
|By Dr David Whitehouse |
BBC News Science Editor
Virginia May 16, 2003 (BBC) - Soon, a small aircraft laden with sensors and a high-speed datalink could be flying over the mountains of Mars - the first aircraft to fly over the terrain of another world.
Called Ares (Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey of Mars), it could, if all goes well, be flying over the Red Planet's southern uplands in just five years' time.
After a successful series of half-scale tests, the US space agency (NASA) has ordered a full-scale prototype to be built.
Ares is in competition with three other Mars exploration proposals for a NASA launch in 2007. The final selection of one, or possibly two, missions will be made later this year.
|400,000 Year Old Sculpture Found|
|By Paul Rincon |
Morocco May 23, 2003 (BBC) - A 400,000-year-old stone object unearthed in Morocco could be the world's oldest attempt at sculpture.
That is the claim of a prehistoric art specialist who says the ancient rock bears clear signs of modification by humans.
The object, which is around six centimeters in length, is shaped like a human figure, with grooves that suggest a neck, arms and legs. On its surface are flakes of a red substance that could be remnants of paint.
The object was found 15 meters below the eroded surface of a terrace on the north bank of the River Draa near the town of Tan-Tan. It was reportedly lying just a few centimeters away from stone handaxes in ground layers dating to the Middle Acheulian period, which lasted from 500,000 to 300,000 years ago.
The find is likely to further fuel a vociferous debate over the timing of humanity's discovery of symbolism. Hominids such as Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, that were alive during the Acheulian period, are not thought to have been capable of the symbolic thought needed to create art.
Writing in the journal Current Anthropology, Robert Bednarik, president of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), suggests that the overall shape of the Tan-Tan object was fashioned by natural processes.
But he argues that conspicuous grooves on the surface of the stone, which appear to emphasize its humanlike appearance, are partially man-made. Mr Bednarik claims that some of these grooves were made by repeated battering with a stone tool to connect up natural depressions in the rock.
"What we've got is a piece of stone that is largely naturally shaped.
"It has some modifications, but they are more than modifications," Mr Bednarik told BBC News Online.
Mr Bednarik tried to replicate the markings on a similar piece of rock by hitting a stone flake with a "hammerstone" in the manner of a punch. He then compared the microscopic structure of the fractures with those of the Tan-Tan object.
However, Professor Stanley Ambrose of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, US, said he saw no evidence for tool marks and that, although the figure was evocative, it was most likely the result of "fortuitous natural weathering".
"[Mr Bednarik] has effectively presented all the information necessary to show this is a naturally weathered rock," Professor Ambrose told BBC News Online.
Professor Ambrose points to Mr Bednarik's observation that some rocks in the vicinity of the figure were weathered and even rounded from transport by water. Professor Ambrose believes that rocks and artifacts found at the site could have been disturbed by flowing water in the past.
Mr Bednarik also observes that flecks of a greasy substance containing iron and manganese on the surface of the stone could be red ochre, a substance used as paint by later humans.
"They [the specks] do not resemble corroded natural iron deposits, nor has any trace of this pigment been detected on any of the other objects I have examined from Tan-Tan," writes Mr Bednarik in his paper.
A 200,000-300,000-year-old stone object found at Berekhat Ram in Israel in 1986 has also been the subject of claims that it is a figurine. However, several other researchers later presented evidence to show that it was probably shaped by geological processes.
The Tan-Tan object was discovered in 1999, during a dig directed by Lutz Fiedler, the state archaeologist of Hesse in Germany.
|Asteroid Collision Due in 2880!|
|University of California - Santa Cruz Press Release |
SANTA CRUZ, CA May 26, 2003 - If an asteroid crashes into the Earth, it is likely to splash down somewhere in the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet's surface. Huge tsunami waves, spreading out from the impact site like the ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, would inundate heavily populated coastal areas.
A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows waves as high as 400 feet sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States.
Steven Ward, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCSC, and Erik Asphaug, an associate professor of Earth sciences, report their findings in the June issue of the Geophysical Journal International.
The probability of a direct hit is pretty small, but over the long timescales of Earth's history, asteroids this size and larger have periodically hammered the planet, sometimes with calamitous effects. The so-called K/T impact, for example, ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Furthermore, the laws of orbital mechanics make it possible for scientists to predict an impact if they are able to detect the asteroid in advance.
"It's like knowing the exact time when Mount Shasta will erupt," Asphaug said. "The way to deal with any natural hazard is to improve our knowledge base, so we can turn the kind of human fear that gets played on in the movies into something that we have a handle on."
Water then rushes back in to fill the cavity, and a ring of waves spreads out in all directions. The impact creates tsunami waves of all frequencies and wavelengths, with a peak wavelength about the same as the diameter of the cavity. Because lower-frequency waves travel faster than waves with higher frequencies, the initial impulse spreads out into a series of waves.
"In the movies they show one big wave, but you actually end up with dozens of waves. The first ones to arrive are pretty small, and they gradually increase in height, arriving at intervals of 3 or 4 minutes," Ward said.
"That's like a raging river, so as these waves cross the ocean they're going to stir up the seafloor, eroding sediments on the slopes of seamounts, and we may be able to identify more places where this has happened," Ward said.
"Tsunamis travel fast, but the ocean is very big, so even if a small or moderate-sized asteroid comes out of nowhere you could still have several hours of advance warning before the tsunami reaches land," he said. "We have a pretty good handle on the size of the waves that would be generated if we can estimate the size of the asteroid."
|Genre News: Star Trek Nemesis DVD, New Movies, Enter the Matrix, The Triangle, Orlando Jones & More!|
|Star Trek: The Last Generation? |
Hollywood May 26, 2003 (eXoNews) - The Star Trek: Nemesis DVD is in release and it may surprise you to learn that the disc proves that Richard Roeper and I were right.
Nemesis is an excellent movie!
Roeper's TV partner Roger Ebert who kept his thumb to himself and said, "Star Trek was kind of terrific once, but now it is a copy of a copy of a copy."
Peter M. Bracke of DVDFile.com says, "Nemesis may not be the greatest Trek movie ever, but it is far better than its reputation may suggest."
Nemesis the second time through was like a new movie. I have to wonder how I missed the rather intricate plot details when I first saw it at The Chinese in Hollywood back in 2002. Maybe I was just blinded by a reunion with some of my favorite sci-fi characters and the final battle scenes on the best screen in town. Or maybe I was influenced by the concussion of endless speculation on the Internet.
As always, expert handling of underlying themes is what sets Star Trek apart from other entries in the science fiction genre. Despite the speculation that director Stuart Baird was not the right man for the job, Nemesis has this and also a great bunch of our favorite actors obviously having a good time telling the story. I thought they looked older when I saw Nemesis at The Chinese, but Data, Riker, Troi, Worf, Crusher and Geordi were great on the DVD.
So why didn't Nemesis fly in the theaters?
We had enough of that in real life on the day of Nemesis' release.
In other news that day, "FBI combs Maryland woods in anthrax probe", "Israel Says No Troop Pullout from Bethlehem Before Xmas", "Al-Qaeda allegedly training bombers", "Iraqi declaration missing key information, U.S. says", "North Korea playing its nuclear card", "What are Trent Lott's true thoughts on segregation?", and "Bush Announces Smallpox Vaccination Plan".
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released a week after Nemesis and currently boasts the seventh largest gross in movie history, but Rings is set in a distant past, safe from the Taliban and urban terrorists.
There are some missing scenes included on the Nemesis DVD, but this isn't a "director's cut" package.
Not yet, at least. Forty-five minutes were chopped from the first cut of the film, and in his comments about the seven scenes offered on the DVD, Nemesis director Stuart Baird seems to think some of them should have remained.
There is also a scene where Shinzon attacks Troi mentally in a turboshaft that would have helped later in the finale, and there is a second ending where Picard and the Enterprise head off to a new adventure.
BTW, if fans thought Stuart Baird was the bad guy in the film's theatrical failure, they may think again after listening to him describe his work on the production.
Official Star Trek - http://www.startrek.com
Moore DVD Includes Oscar Speech
Atari Sells 1 Million Matrix Games in Week
Infogrames had total sales of $770 million for the year ended in June and does about 65 percent of its sales in the United States.
Sci Fi Tackles The Triangle
Devlin ("Independence Day") said he and Singer (the "X-Men" pics) are working on the descriptive blueprint for "Triangle." "It will involve people who've gone through a number of different experiences with the Bermuda Triangle," Devlin said, "who come together and decide to confront the mystery."
Sci Fi Channel - http://www.scifi.com
Elvira Alive and Well
Pic has its European premiere here on Saturday.
Elvira's Official site - http://www.elvira.com
This eclectic lineup is not just the jump-start of the June 16 premiere of FX Network's "The Orlando Jones Show." It is also a portent of Jones' pledge to open the door to a multi-racial music world generally not seen -- or addressed -- on late-night TV.
It's not just about music. The program will also feature a 90-second animated segment with two Latino kid characters. Instead of an opening monologue, Jones will portray a diverse range of characters either in sketches or interacting with people in the audience and on the street.
The in-the-round set will have video monitors positioned around its perimeter.
At the same time, there are 40-year-old guys who know Orlando from the films Evolution and Drumline."