31.10.11

Invasion of the Mind Controling Zombie Parasites

Scary stuff taken from the NPR website....


A few months back, something terrible happened to millions of flies around Washington, D.C.
"We were getting literally hundreds of reports of these crazy dead flies everywhere — on vegetation, on sign posts," says Mike Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland.
He says the flies were attacked by a mind-controlling fungus.
"It basically zombie-izes them. In other words, it manipulates their behavior," Raupp says. "[The fly] moves to a high point, let's say the tip of a blade of grass."
The fly freezes at the tip of the leaf, and the fungus spews more mind-controlling spores into the wind.
Mind-controlling parasites are all around us. The number of creatures that can be affected is "huge," says Janice Moore, a professor at Colorado State University who wrote a book on parasites and animal behavior. She says some parasites play with neurotransmitters; others with hormones.
"If you take the world of parasites broadly, we don't know the half of it yet," she says.
Parasites can be terrifyingly precise. One example that's becoming a little more understood is Toxoplasma gondii.
"Toxoplasma basically makes rodents somewhat fearless around cats — in fact, it's even more than fearless," Moore says. "There's some evidence that they're attracted to the smell of cats and to cat urine."
What happens to rats that like cats? They get eaten.
On his laptop, Raupp plays a video from a lab in France. It shows giant worms exploding out of a dying cricket that's floating in a swimming pool. He says small organisms called hairworms begin to reach maturity inside the cricket. Then they make the cricket start to act erratically.

Fungus Causes Cricket Suicide

"Crickets that would normally kind of move pretty slowly and stay in dimly lit areas actually become attracted to light," he says. "What this does apparently is bring them out of their normal habitat and increase the likelihood they're going to bump into a pond. Once they reach the edge of that water, they take the suicidal plunge into the water."
That's when the hairworms leave the host and reproduce.
Humans aren't necessarily immune to parasites' powers, either.
"Studies have looked at accidents — individuals in automobile accidents, both actually drivers and pedestrians — and they have increased rates of Toxoplasma as well," says Bob Yolken, chair of Pediatric Neurovirology at Johns Hopkins medical school.
The link is nowhere near conclusive, but still, Moore says it's enough to make you think.
"I do think about free will some because I do think about how we're all trapped in our own skins," she says, "and to tell you the truth, free will in general, it always amazes me how in the same situation some people will rise to the occasion and be saints and other people will be sinners."
Many things affect that, Moore says, but we may have to add parasites to the list.

30.10.11

Pan Am Takes Off

 

 One of my new favorite television shows is climbing in the ratings.  If you havent checked it out, I would highly recommend it.  Its a great show that feels very nostalgic and takes you back to a time when air travel was considered to be high class and you were treated to high class service, unlike now when you are lucky to get a defrosted meal or a maybe a bag of peanuts much less service with a smile!

 

Coffee, Tea or Nostalgia?

Younger siblings know how hard it is to live up to a gifted firstborn.
Any series that sets itself in the early 1960s is going to have to slink around the reflection of “Mad Men.” This season there are two: “The Playboy Club” and, beginning on Sunday, “Pan Am,” an ABC drama about stewardesses back when jet travel was glamorous, and so was serving drinks at 30,000 feet.
As a premise “Pan Am” sounds foolhardy, a knockoff that can’t possibly live up to the original, like a network trying to copy “The Sopranos” with a series about a ring of car thieves in Indianapolis.
The difference is that “Pan Am” romanticizes the past, whereas “Mad Men,” on AMC, takes pleasure in slyly mocking antiquated mores. Secretaries at Don Draper’s ad agency marvel at an electric typewriter, a mom at a pastoral family picnic tosses the trash onto pristine park grounds, a child who plays with a dry-cleaning bag is scolded, not for the risk, but for mussing the clothes inside. “Mad Men” evokes nostalgia for a careless, less restrictive way of life, floating on a permissive wash of sex, booze and cigarettes, but it never stops sending up the naïveté and backward biases of those times.
“Pan Am” takes place in New York, Paris and London, and practically every scene is shot in lush, golden light. The series is a paean to a more prosperous and confident era; even an airline terminal looks like a movie dream sequence about 1960s heaven.
“Mad Men,” which returns for a fifth season next year, is unquestionably a far better show, but “Pan Am,” like “The Playboy Club,” which began on NBC this week, may be a more accurate reflection of our own insecurities. When the present isn’t very promising, and the future seems tapered and uncertain, the past acquires an enviable luster.
“Mad Men” is veined with injustices: the way women are overlooked, blacks are ignored and Jews despised. “Pan Am” takes a more forgiving look at the 1960s. Nancy Hult Ganis, a former Pan Am stewardess, is an executive producer and appears to have looked back at her youthful escapades with a softening lens: a little like Helen Gurley Brown, who shocked people at the height of the Anita Hill sexual-harassment controversy with her fond memories of office panty pranks.
Some blatant forms of sexism are gently tweaked on “Pan Am” but with more affection than regret. Female flight attendants have mandatory weigh-ins and a matron slaps one employee on the fanny to make sure she is wearing a girdle. But the young women who submit do so with a smile; petty airline rules are a small price to pay for the newfound freedom to travel and seek adventure. A pilot, observing the crew’s laughter and confidence, admiringly tells another that these young women form “a new breed.”
Viewers may not see anything particularly fresh about this show’s foursome of stewardesses, however. The “Pan Am” heroines represent the dawning of the women’s movement, and they are not fully formed characters so much as stick figures borrowed from a Rona Jaffe novel.
Christina Ricci plays Maggie, a closet beatnik who wears the Pan Am uniform to see the world but at home listens to jazz and studies Marx and Hegel. Colette (Karine Vanasse) is French and carefree, until she discovers that her latest lover is a married man. Kate (Kelli Garner) is smart and ambitious, and she dreads being overshadowed by her pretty younger sister, Laura (Margot Robbie). Laura, a runaway bride who follows her sister into the airline business, is so gorgeous that Life magazine puts her picture on its cover article about the Clipper Age. “With a face like that you’ll find a husband in a couple of months,” a fellow stewardess tells her. But Laura and the others are looking for adventure and romance, not marriage.
ABC is the home of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “The Bachelor,” so the emphasis on “Pan Am” is not traffic control or air safety. The show does try to broaden the story with a few cold war subplots: a Pan Am flight crew is assigned to help retrieve survivors of the Bay of Pigs disaster in Castro’s Cuba; British counterintelligence agents use airline employees to spy and pass secrets. Mostly, though, the espionage feels like padding, a way to assure viewers that they are not just watching early prototypes of Carrie Bradshaw and her posse — “Sex and the Cockpit.”
If only for the costumes and ’60s music, “Pan Am” is amusing to see at least once, but if it has any instructive benefit at all, it’s as a mood indicator for these times, not those. There have been plenty of series set in earlier times — “That ’70s Show” was set in the Carter administration, “M*A*S*H” took place during the Korean War. But usually period shows pick through the past to meditate on the present, whether it’s examining generational rites of passage or critiquing the Vietnam War at a safe remove.
“Pan Am” doesn’t say much of anything about the current state of the nation except that our best days are behind us.

Regent Theater PIttsburgh History

During one of my many long walks with David, we passed a very old theater in the East Liberty area of the city. David had mentioned that he had saw a performance there and I asked him the history of the place. He wasnt quite sure what it was used for or how long it had been there. I noticed a neon sign that read "Gene Kelly" on the top balcony. It piqued my curiosity to I decided to find out exactly what the history of the place was. 

The Regent Debuts
In 1919, the Regent –- a state-of-the-art, 1,100-seat “Photo Play House”—began screening America’s favorite silent films. East End residents could catch Mary Pickford or Douglas Fairbanks at the Regent and enjoy music, more films, and live performances at the other many theaters in the neighborhood. The theaters included the Camera-Phone, Enright, Harris Family Theatre, Liberty, Sheridan, and Triangle.         
The Regent featured a grand theater organ that was played to accompany silent films with dramatic live music. Harry S. Bair was the architect.

Entrances and Exits
Over the decades, the Regent had its ups and downs. The theater was sometimes dark for periods of time.
A “reopening” was held on July 18, 1965 following a $175,000 renovation under Associated Theaters, a group lead by Ernest Stern, president, who also owned Pittsburgh Theaters the Encore, the Fulton (now the Byham), Gateway, and Forum theaters. The capacity was reduced to 850 to provide increased patron comfort for the first showing of “In Harm’s Way,” with Kirk Douglas, John Waye, and Patricia Neal. Former audience members report that young people could spend Saturday at the Regent where animated features and action-adventure movies were screened all day.
However, in October 1979, the Regent closed again. Its sister theaters were gone. By the 1990’s the Regent was poised for renewal, along with the community it calls home. Pittsburgh’s downtown cultural district was underway, but Pittsburgh needed another mid-sized venue to welcome small arts groups and community programs. The arts community gathered for a sneak peek fundraiser to support the possibilities, including a Gallery of local stars provided by the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce.





In the next century…
In 2000, the Post-Gazette reported that the theater would have a new name in honor of Pittsburgh greats Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn.
In 2003 the New Pittsburgh Courier reported that audiences were again lining up on Penn Avenue:
“Shocking is the word to describe the long line of people waiting to buy tickets outside of East Liberty’s Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Apparently, the word was out that the Black Theater Dance Ensemble was returning to the stage after nearly two decades.”

Today
By 2009-10, the Kelly Strayhorn was in use more than three-quarters of the possible performance and rehearsals days as young performers, dancers, filmmakers, actors, musicians, community organizations, and audiences participate in the ongoing renaissance of East Liberty’s performing arts center. Patrons step over a commemorate “Walk of Stars,” reconizing artists, friends, fans, and family members when they arrive for an event. The theater’s exterior lights signal anticipation of the next show and the neon signature of the namesakes sparkles all night long.
As the Kelly Strayhorn begins its 11th season, more innovation, leadership, engagement, and “green” awareness is underway.

History of Halloween


Cupids Eyes


Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind;
And therefore is wing’d cupid painted blind:
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
— William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

27.10.11

26.10.11

Vintage Gay Photography from the 1930's and 40's












Little Known Hunk of the Day - Marco Dapper

San Francisco Bay area native Marco Dominic Dapper arrived in Hollywood in 2003 pursuing an acting career. Along the way, he landed several European short modeling assignments and more recently, a campaign for Levi's Jeans for the Asian market.
After appearing on Meet My Folks, Dapper landed his first film role in the independent feature Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds. Prior to getting the role, Dapper worked in a UPS warehouse and was also going to a junior college at the same time doing theatre and some plays.
He has a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. His actor training includes Doug Warhit and Lesly Kahn and the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
He was cast as Dario Franco in the feature film Redefining Normal (2008) by producer and screenwriter Anthony Bruce after the two became friends while working together as waiters at a trendy restaurant in Brentwood, CA.
In a Frontiers magazine interview, Dapper revealed that he has been working out about five days a week since he graduated from high school.
Dapper has been featured on the cover of the magazine Men's Health 8 times.
In July 2011, Marco was cover of the Bridget Marie Magazine.



Little Known Hunk of the Day- Justin Gaston











In 2005, Justin Gaston left his hometown of Pineville, Louisiana at age 17 to pursue a career in acting. Gaston first found work as a model for 2(x)ist underwear, Christian Audigier, Adidas, International Jock, Hugo Boss, and other notable labels.
In 2008 Gaston was a guitar player for the Hannah Montana band in the Hannah Montana (season 3) concert. This led to Gaston's nine month dating relationship with the series star, Miley Cyrus.
Gaston appeared as Taylor Swift's love interest on her 2008 music video for "Love Story", and also appeared on the pilot episode of the television series Glee, which premiered on the Fox network on May 19, 2009.
In February of 2010, Gaston began appearing on Simon Fuller's innovative interactive reality show, the If I Can Dream webseries, which aired on Hulu. The show provided round-the-clock coverage of the daily lives of five aspiring stars who had moved into a house in Hollywood, California. Gaston's If I Can Dream (series) costars were: Ben Elliott, Giglianne Braga, Kara Killmer, and Amanda Phillips.
On April 14, 2010, Gaston performed a duet on Simon Fuller's American Idol with Brooke White, the fifth place finalist on American Idol (season 7). Appropriately, Gaston's song choice was the classic Elvis Presley ballad, If I Can Dream.
In June of 2010 Gaston posed nude in a controversial photo shoot for PETA's "Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" ad campaign along with If I Can Dream (series) castmates Ben Elliott and Giglianne Braga.
During the summer of 2010, Gaston a temporary opening act for American Idol winner Kris Allen.

Gay Man Found Beaten and Burned while Tied to Lamppost in Scotland

A gay man's body was found beaten and burned and tied to a lamppost on the outskirts of his hometown Cumnock in Ayrshire in Scotland early On Saturday. Stuart Walker, who had recently started work at a bar days before his murder, was supposed to have attended his grandmother 80th birthday party but never showed up.
WalkerPolice are investigating whether Walker's being gay played a part in the crimes against him (as many are speculating), but, as of yet, have no solid evidence.
The Daily Record reports:
Stuart's friends last saw him alive near the fire station in Glaisnock Street at about 2.30am. His scorched and beaten body was found tied to a lamppost just before 5am on the Caponacre industrial estate on the outskirts of town.
Detective Inspector John Hogg, of Ayr CID, said yesterday: "It is imperative that we find out where he was between 2.30am and 4.50am, who he was with and why this happened to him.
"We understand that there may have been a number of house parties in the nearby Netherthird housing estate in the early hours of the morning - between 2am and 3am.
"At this time we do not know if these parties are linked to our investigation or not, so again, any information on that is important. Officers are checking CCTV and carrying out door-to-door inquiries in the area and we would encourage anyone with information to approach them or to call."
Yesterday, flowers were laid near the murder scene. One left by his gran read: "Miss + Love you always our dear grandson. Sleep tight, Gran and Papa."
SceneThe Scottish Sun adds:
Police refused to confirm rumours that they were looking for four girls in connection with the terrifying attack. Horrified locals last night told of their fears Stuart was targeted because of his sexuality.
One tweeted a link to a picture of the murder victim, and wrote: "This is the man who was tied to a lamppost and then set on fire for being gay yesterday, RIP."
But detectives insisted they had yet to find any evidence which supported that theory.
A Facebook tribute page has aprung up in Walker's memory.
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