Monthly Archives: April 2008

Jonathan Coulton in Portland, Oregon

We had the pleasure of seeing Jonathan Coulton, my new favorite singer in Portland, Oregon last week.  I wrote about him on one of my first blog entries.  The show was thoroughly enjoyable and highly entertaining.  If you like songs about mad scientists, lovelorn planets, robot wars and shopping at IKEA then I highly recommend that you see him live and check out his self-produced music.  I was an instant convert and own all of his CD’s.  Below is a video that showcases what a regular guy he is.  He eats donuts just like the rest of us.

 

 

 

 Hopefully he will come to your town, here is his tour schedule.

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New Full Incredible Hulk Trailer

Universal Pictures has debuted the full new trailer for director Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk today.

 

 

Opening June 13, the action-thriller stars Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell and William Hurt.

 

 

 

 

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Catching up with Ben Linus from LOST

 

Quint: Hey Michael, what’s up?

Michael Emerson: I’m just having a nice day off.

 

Quint: I can imagine. You guys all went back to work right after the strike, right?

Michael Emerson: Yeah, and we have just been going at a serious rate of speed with so many endless days of running around in a jungle and fighting and shooting… Oh, my god…

 

Quint: Well at least it is in Hawaii. You could be doing that in some… I was going to say desert, but you were in the desert last week. Speaking of the show, I’ve been a follower since the beginning, but I saw last week’s episode and I really dug it.

Michael Emerson: Oh, good.

 

Quint: It must be great for you, because they are making Ben such a central character to whole story.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, they have given me a lot to do lately and it does seem like wherever the uber story is going that it has something to do with Ben and his mission and the things he knows.

 

Quint: I know at the beginning that it was very much set up as kind of this Locke and Jack as the central figures, but it has slowly over the seasons and especially with the reveal of last week’s episode, it seems that the bigger power struggle is between you and Penny’s father, so it’s pretty interesting, at least for fans. It must be great for you, but it’s probably also got to be a little bit of pressure since there are so many hardcore fans of the show now that if you are playing more of a central role to everything, I would imagine, as a non-actor, that there would be more pressure on your part to appease those fans.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, well you just want to keep the work good and you don’t want your character to become… You don’t want to lose mystery or ambiguity and you want it always to be compelling playing, so yeah there is a little bit of extra responsibility to keep it fresh and hot if you can or if your role gets bigger.

It’s interesting though how with each season on the show, the lens through which we do the story, pulls back a little further and includes more territory and more characters, so that the show… I don’t know if they ever actually meant it to be just about survivors on an island. I know a lot of people complain that they have sort of lost that first season blush on the show, but I don’t think they ever meant to stay there. I think that was just one look of many that and that the story was going to grow up and out and away from that.

Quint: Speaking as a fan, I think that as long as they keep the characters that everybody fell in love with in that first season, those who are left, as long as they keep them in the fold… I think that is where a lot of people were struggling with season two, because it focused so much away from all of the characters that everybody had assumed were going to be the leads rightly or wrongly, but I think that’s why the fan base has so roundly given themselves over now to Abrams and Lindelof and his crew, because they did. Now all of our characters are intermingling with all of the newer characters and like you were saying, they “keep it fresh.” I love their change up and when they started doing flash forwards.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, that was a stroke of genius, wasn’t it?

 

Quint: I think it’s an incredible way to keep a dynamic that everybody loves from the show without letting it go stale.

Michael Emerson: Yeah. I think it’s very fresh and I think it lends gravity and a maturity to the story now, because now we see that we are not dealing with the kind of story that has a trite ending, that this is going to be a thing more for grown ups and more about imperfect endings and things with regret; things left undone and unsaid, that kind of stuff.

 

Quint: Definitely. Let’s talk a little bit about some specifics form last week’s show if you don’t mind.

Michael Emerson: Sure.

 

Quint: Of course I’m a big sci-fi/horror nerd, so whenever the smoke monster returned and you walked out of that hidden tunnel and were filthy, I turned to my friends who I was watching it with and was like “Oh man, he just summoned the smoke monster, didn’t he?” It was great. That was great, but my favorite part of last week’s show had to be the moment when Alex was killed, because you can so clearly see in your character that you knew that that wasn’t going to happen and when it did, it was the very first thing we have seen in any of the episodes you have been in where you have been genuinely shaken.

Michael Emerson: Yeah.

 

Quint: I was just wondering how you approached that moment, because it was so new for your character.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, it was shocking and for Ben, he is never fully caught off guard, he’s never flummoxed or shocked really, but clearly something went very wrong and against every expectation in that moment and now he has sort of been shattered in a way. I don’t know how he is going to pull himself together exactly, but it was sweetly played by Tania Raymonde and I will miss her so much, quite afar from us having a fictional relationship, I also just like her very much as a person and have loved working with her.

I do feel a fatherly sadness at her going away and not continuing to be on the show. There are a lot of sort of fictional and real impulses at play there and Ben has to play a scene more naked or vulnerable than he is used to doing. There were many challenges for me as an actor in that episode; physical challenges with combat and horses and then getting outside of my emotional comfort zone as well. It was interesting work… hard work.

Quint: Yeah, well it was definitely your episode. You were the flash forward and what is also really interesting, I think, about the episode is it really kind of takes what has been up to this point kind of a villainous person… It’s like the more we see of him, the less of a villain he is then when we first met him.

Michael Emerson: That’s true. I was just saying that to somebody yesterday, that gradually I’m sliding towards this empathetic end of the scale on our show.

 

Quint: Yeah, definitely. I mean with that moment at the end when you say you are going after Penny it was like you have become… it’s weird, because it is almost like you have become an anti-hero, except everybody loves Penny. It’s a weird place to put the audience, because we feel for you and we want you to get revenge, but we also don’t want to see the people that we like get hurt in the process, so…

Michael Emerson: It creates a dilemma for the viewer, doesn’t it?

 

Quint: It definitely does.

Michael Emerson: Who do we support here? We know that Ben has been wronged; we have seen his pain, but now he means to take it out on Widmore by way of his daughter and what’s that deal where he and Widmore can’t hurt one another? What’s that about?

 

Quint: Yeah, that’s one of the talents of the show that it is able to keep posing new questions while solving old ones, so you don’t really feel shafted and that’s something that I think they have been really good about in the last couple of seasons.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, well when people say they never give anything up, that’s just wrong, they give up something every episode and then of course new questions take their place, but I think that that’s what is fun about the show, that is the landscape of this show, that of developing mysteries and puzzles.

 

Quint: Have you finished the season out yet or are you just taking a break?

Michael Emerson: No, we are still working. We have a lot of material at the end, I think 10, 11, and 12 are maybe done, but there is so much post work to do. So much now has to be done with music. There are way more special effects than there used to be now and now we are dealing not just with people in a jungle, but we are dealing with big boats and helicopters and all of that equipment and stuff that is all difficult to work with, so it has been challenging for the company. We have been working such long days. Finally today they gave us a full weekend off for Saturday and Sunday.

 

Quint: And now you are spending one of your days talking with an idiot like me.

Michael Emerson: (laughs) Not at all. You know, I actually have a lighter schedule next week. I’m over the hump. I only have a few little bitty scenes here and there to shoot before the end of the season.

 

Quint: That’s cool. The secrecy surrounding everything that JJ Abrams has his fingers in, especially in LOST, is well known and has almost become his trademark with his devotion to secrecy, so I was just curious how much you as an actor are kept in the dark. How much lead time do you have before you shoot, when you actually know where your character is going?

Michael Emerson: There is very little lead time. I shot a scene about ten days ago in an episode that wasn’t written until the night before and it has been like that and I don’t know if you know, but very often in the finales, there are secret scenes and again this year there are a couple. There are a couple of scenes that no one is allowed to look at until the day we film them, which I think is like May the seventh.

On May the seventh, I will go to the studio and there will be scenes that no one has ever seen and we will shoot them that day and they will rush them to LA and they will cut them and those will be the final moments of the season.

 

Quint: So, what is that like for you? Do you have this feeling when you are around there with all of the cast and everything, do you just get that feeling like that you know something that everybody is dying to know and that you know that you have that information first?

Michael Emerson: That will be cool. I mean, I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, because last year I wasn’t privy to the secret scene. I didn’t know that ending, that flash forward thing with Jack and Kate, I didn’t know that until I watched the broadcast. I was even present at the studio the day that they filmed it, but no one was talking about it. It’s kind of nice this year to know that at least when that day comes, I will know something that the world wishes it knew [Laughs] and then I’ll have to keep my mouth shut.

 

Quint: Well, what is it like from an acting standpoint? Does it make it much tougher? Do you think it actually benefits you to work on instinct and not over think it?

Michael Emerson: Yeah, people often ask me whether I need to know the larger story to play the part and luckily in this case at least I don’t. In a way, it’s freeing for me not to be responsible for too much story or thinking “Oh, how do I play this when I know that X is going to happen in ten episodes or two seasons from now?” That would just sort of clutter up my work anyway I think. I just feel free to come in and play the scene that is on the page that day and let the geniuses who run the show put it together and make the larger sense of things.

 

Quint: Has there ever been a moment when you have played it one way and then they have come to you saying “No, you can’t do it like that. You have to do it this way, but we can’t tell you why.”

Michael Emerson: Yeah, there have been moments like that. In the early going, before I or anyone knew that Henry Gale was going to turn out to be the leader of the others, there were sometimes these difficult moments on the set where they would ask me to do a scene… I would do a scene one way and they would say “Actually, we need it to go this other way…” We still shoot some scenes with a couple of different tones, so that they can pick what works best in the final cut.

 

Quint: What tone do they usually go for? Is there even a usual one?

Michael Emerson: My experience is if I shoot a scene, they will usually pick the more malevolent read for Ben. They will choose the one that makes him scarier and colder, but then they know what they are doing. They are playing with audience expectation a lot, too. It probably serves their purposes to have made Ben look evil for a spell, so that maybe someday they can then turn that on its head.

 

Quint: Yeah, and like how we were talking about earlier, it seems like they are laying some tracks to move in that direction, if they choose to.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, I’ll be interested to see what happens in the next season, because once again the lens will pull back and we will get an even bigger picture. It will include more space; more of the world; more other characters and stuff and the puzzle will be seen to be a much larger one.

 

Quint: And they have put a cap on it, right? They have announced that they are ending at a certain point.

Michael Emerson: Two more seasons after this.

 

Quint: It’s good. As much as I would love to see these characters keep going, like THE SIMPSONS or something, it would feel like it was forced and I like the idea that they are telling a specific story, you know?

Michael Emerson: Yeah. I think it was a bold stroke on their part and it reinvigorated us and the writing team and I think the viewers too, in a way.

 

Quint: Do they ever get your input on the character, now that you have lived with him for so long?

Michael Emerson: No, we don’t have that kind of dialogue, which suits me fine. I trust them and in a way we communicate by way of our work. They show me what they understand by writing the role and I show them what I understand in the playing of it and that becomes a kind of conversation and I see over time that they are very sensitive to the way I speak and the way I behave and they incorporate it more and more into the writing of the part. I’ll read a script and go “Oh my gosh, they know of that tic I have…” or a certain phrase that I will use in real life and there it turns up coming out of Ben’s mouth. It is kind of an unspoken kind of dialogue that we have between us.

 

Quint: I think the hardcore fanbase was really excited to see the smoke monster return and I think the idea that Ben has some sort of control over it is really fascinating. I think that that has really piqued the interest of a lot of people, especially what is coming up in the next few weeks. I know you can’t say much, but can you talk about, based on what you know, do you think the fans will be satisfied with the promise of last weeks episode? Do you think that will be fulfilled?

Michael Emerson: Oh yeah, I think they are going in to some mind bending new surprising directions. I am liking the evolving idea. Let’s say that Ben was able to manipulate the smoke monster, but on the show everything is a binary system, everything is in balance, morally balanced or economically balanced, so for Ben to make a thing happen like that, there is also a price, I think, that he had to pay. We don’t know what Ben paid yet to make the smoke monster come. We don’t know that he… “Is he allowed to do that?” and everyone who has power also pays a price. John Locke is going to pay a price. Ben has paid a price… Nothing is for free in terms of power or morality on the island and I’m beginning to see that the writers are more interested in that pattern, too, of this living ledger book system.

 

Quint: That’s really great. One thing that I really don’t like that I’m happy to see them avoiding in LOST is the soap opera or what they are doing in comic books now a lot where nothing means anything, where you can have a character die and it’s OK, because in five issues they will be back and the world has changed or they make this life altering decision and go “Oh, if people don’t like it, then we will just go back and it was something else or we will somehow change the rules midstream” and I like that people on LOST who have died, we can still see them every once and a while in a flashback, or at least we could back in the day, and that gave them a perfect way out, but I like that everything has a consequence and everything has rules.

Michael Emerson: Right, there are rules and there are prices to be paid.

 

Quint: If that wasn’t the case, then I don’t think LOST would have the fan base that it does. I think people like the fact that surprising stuff will happen, like Alex getting killed, or any number of people getting killed and that being it. Nobody is really safe. We can assume that Jack is safe now. We can assume some people who make it off of the island are safe, but we don’t know to what degree they are safe after that.

Michael Emerson: Right. They may be safe in the moment, but what’s the price tag going to be?

 

Quint: So yeah, it’s very fascination and I think that it has been getting stronger and stronger and I am really happy, because I have a lot of shows that I like to watch and there are a couple, like HEROES, that just kind of floundered where they had a promising beginning and just kind of floundered and I have hope that the next season will be better, but it’s good to see LOST keeping strong and without flattery intended, I think a lot of that has to do with you and Ben and what you bring to him.

Michael Emerson: Thank you. I think Ben started out as kind of an experiment where they were looking for a way to add another dimension to the antagonism of the island, so that they needed a character who had a face and a voice to go with these strange powers and it was an experiment that turned out very well and luckily I was the actor who got the part and I get to play it all of the time.

 

Quint: Cool, so what is coming up for you? You have shooting until May 7th and then do you have any more stage work later or any films coming up?

Michael Emerson: I had hoped to sneak in some stage work this summer and if we hadn’t had the writer’s strike, I would have been able to, because we would have finished the season months ago, but as it is, there’s not really time to do a play. My wife, Carrie Preston, is working on an HBO series in LA and I don’t want to go off and do a play somewhere and not be with her, so I’ll probably just hang out in Los Angeles with her while she is working on this series called TRUE BLOOD, the new Alan Ball series.

 

Quint: That’s cool.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, it has a vampire theme in it, which is kind of interesting.

 

Quint: That’s good. I like seeing fantasy… in this way a horror fantasy getting representation with something as prestigious as HBO can be and they are giving it the real treatment.

Michael Emerson: Yeah, the series is based on a series of pulp thriller novels and I can’t remember the lady who wrote them, but it is sort of a science fiction premise. In the very near future, vampires are able to come out of the closet, in effect, because science has invented a substitute blood product that they can live off of, so they don’t need to attack people anymore. I think there’s a sort of racial metaphor at the heart of it. What area people’s feelings about vampires and I think it’s sort of a social commentary.

 

Quint: Yeah, you can put any stigma, you can put the “anti-gay” sentiment that’s out there now or anti-anything. That’s what I love about the genre, that it’s able to have those messages without being preachy. It very much can be used really well to massage in social commentary. George Romero is very well known for doing that.

Michael Emerson: Exactly.

 

Quint: Cool, well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I really appreciate it.

Michael Emerson: It was good talking to you.

 

(From Ain’t It Cool News)

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The Reapers by John Connolly out on May 27, 2008

A brilliantly chilling novel by New York Times bestselling author John Connolly about a chain of killings, linked obscurely by great distances and the passage of years, and the settling of their blood-debts — past, present, and future.

As a small boy, Louis witnesses an unspeakable crime that takes the life of a member of his small, southern community. He grows up and moves on, but he is forever changed by the cruel and brutal nature of the act. It lights a fire deep within him that burns white and cold, a quiet flame just waiting to ignite. Now, years later, the sins of his life are reaching into his present, bringing with them the buried secrets and half-forgotten acts of his past.

Someone is hunting him, targeting his home, his businesses, and his partner, Angel. The instrument of revenge is Bliss, a killer of killers, the most feared of assassins. Bliss is a Reaper, a lethal tool to be applied toward the ultimate end, but he is also a man with a personal vendetta.

Hardened by their pasts, Louis and Angel decide to strike back. While they form a camaraderie that brings them solace, it offers them no shelter from the fate that stalks them. When they mysteriously disappear, their friends are forced to band together to find them. They are led by private detective Charlie Parker, a killer himself, a Reaper in waiting.

Connolly’s triumphant prose and unerring rendering of his tortured characters mesmerize and chill. He creates a world where everyone is corrupt, murderers go unpunished, but betrayals are always avenged. Yet another masterpiece from a proven talent, The Reapers will terrify and transfix.

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Phantom Prey by John Sanford out on May 6, 2008

Lucas Davenport has had disturbing cases before— but never one quite like this, in the shocking new Prey novel from the #1 New York Times—bestselling author.John Sandford’s most recent Davenport novel, Invisible Prey, was hailed as “one of his best books in recent memory” (The Washington Post); “as fresh and entertaining as ever” (Chicago Sun-Times); and “rivetingly readable” (Richmond Times-Dispatch). But this time, he’s got something quite special in store.

A widow comes home to her large house in a wealthy, exclusive suburb to find blood everywhere, no body—and her college-aged daughter missing. She’s always known that her daughter ran with a bad bunch. What did she call them—Goths? Freaks is more like it, running around with all that makeup and black clothing, listening to that awful music, so attracted to death. And now this.

But the police can’t find the girl, alive or dead, and when a second Goth is found slashed to death in Minneapolis, the widow truly panics. There’s someone she knows, a surgeon named Weather Davenport, whose husband is a big deal with the police, and she implores Weather to get him directly involved. Lucas begins to investigate only reluctantly—but then when a third Goth is slashed in what is now looking like a ‘Jack the Ripper’ series of killings, he starts working it hard. The clues don’t seem to add up, though. And then there’s the young Goth who keeps appearing and disappearing: Who is she? Where does she come from and, more important, where does she vanish to? And why does Lucas keep getting the sneaking suspicion that there is something else going onhere . . . something very, very bad indeed?

 

 

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Video for Josh & Ben: Portland Tram Ride

Josh & Ben,

Here are some videos of the new tram ride in Portland, Oregon.  We’ll take you on it when you visit.

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Ultimate Wall-E Robot Being Brought to Life by Disney, Thinkway Toys

Disney is teaming up with Thinkway Toys to make Wall-E into a real robot. The toy, titled Ultimate Wall-E, will retail for $189.99 and will ship this summer. The robot will feature 10 motors for movement, remote control, programming mode and obstacle, sound and touch detection sensors for basic environment interactions.

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The Flash returns after 23 years

For a superhero who can run faster than the speed of light, it sure took him long enough to return.

DC Comics is reviving Barry Allen – aka The Flash – the popular superhero killed off by the publisher 23 years ago.

Unlike other comic book deaths – even Superman went up, up and away for just a year – The Flash was so good at dying that his demise became part of comic book lore.

Many fans had come to like the character better dead than alive after he was disintegrated saving the universe.

“That’s the point of comics – they don’t have to die, because they’re fictional creations,” said Grant Morrison, one of the writers behind the comeback.

“We can do anything with them, and we can make them come back and make them defy death,” Morrison said. “And that’s why people read comics, to get away from the way life works, which is quite cruel and unheroic and ends in death.”

Not so fast, said comic historian Alan Kistler. “Barry’s had this heroic sacrifice, which is the coolest thing you can do for a superhero,” insisted Kistler – unaware that DC Comics will announce the Flash’s resurrection today in the last panel of its “DC Universe #0.”

“If you brought Barry back, the question is can you do anything to top it?”

Well, The Flash did save the entire comic book industry.

When the red-and-gold costumed speedster debuted in “Showcase #4″ in 1956, super heroes were virtually extinct; Westerns and war comics were all the rage.

All that changed with the surprise sales success of The Flash, rejuvenating the likes of Superman and paving the way for future superheroes, including Spider-Man.

“Without Barry Allen, we’d still be reading comic books about cowboys,” Geoff Johns, co-writer of the new Flash comics, told the Daily News.

Morrison and Johns had been waiting for the right moment to bring back their childhood hero. In Johns’ words, “When the greatest evil comes back to the DC Universe, the greatest hero needed to return.”

Comic hyperbole aside, Morrison believes that it won’t take long for The Flash to get back up to speed, alongside his Justice League teammates, Batman and Wonder Woman.

“He’s the God of the modern world,” Morrison said. “People are doing more everyday, moving faster and I think the Flash can be their hero. I do think he’s a superhero for now.”

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McSweeney’s Sale

Today through Thursday, McSweeney’s is doing a 3-2-1 sale. Today all items in their  store are 30 percent off, tomorrow all items are 20 percent off, and Thursday all items are 10 percent off. All subscriptions are $5 off for all three days.

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The Dark Knight Trailer Hunt Today

If you live in Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, New York, Kansas City, Toronto, San Francisco, or London you will want to read this. On Thursday night we the new poster for The Dark Knight debuted as part of the on-going viral marketing game.

The website where it was discovered was located at whysoserious.com/itsallpartoftheplan/. However, the site hinted that more would be coming and now its been updated. A new viral hunt will take place on Monday, April 28th in those cities mentioned above. The website now features 12 clickable defaced photos of presidents on the wall. Each one corresponds to a city. If you click each photo, it will open a new window that has instructions on how to play the game on Monday. Here is what each photo reads:

Gather with 300 of your closest friends at this exact spot on April 28th.

You’ll need to be in contact with a partner-in-crime who has online access to relay your instructions once you’re there. These instructions will give you the TRAIL to follow, but be sure to look both ways when crossing the street; we wouldn’t want you to make an unscheduled visit to the ER now, would we?

Put on a smile and plan to spend about an hour or so bonding with your fellow clowns.

Check back here often for updates or changes

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More powerful Apple iMacs announced today

Today Apple launched new iMacs, including a $2,200 24-inch model with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo and an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS graphics card with 512MB video RAM, potentially doubling video performance for certain apps. The full lineup, still starting at $1,200, will include 6MB L2 cache and a 1066 MHz front-side bus, and most models will also come standard with 2GB of RAM. On the 24-inchers, you can up the HDD to a full terabyte for $250 extra, and 4GB RAM for $200 more.

Pricing & Availability

The new iMac line is available immediately through the Apple Store(R) (http://www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The new 20-inch 2.4 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,199 (US), includes:

* 20-inch widescreen LCD display;

* 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus;

* 1GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB;

* 250GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;

* a slot-load 8x SuperDrive(R) with double-layer support (DVD+/-R DL/DVD+/-RW/CD-RW);

* ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128MB GDDR3 memory;

* built-in iSight video camera;

* built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;

* mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately);

* built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and

* the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.


The new 20-inch 2.66 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US), includes:

* 20-inch widescreen LCD display;

* 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus;

* 2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB;

* 320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;

* a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+/-R DL/DVD+/-RW/CD-RW);

* ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB GDDR3 memory;

* built-in iSight video camera;

* built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;

* mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately);

* built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and

* the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.


The new 24-inch 2.8 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,799 (US), includes:

* 24-inch widescreen LCD display;

* 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus;

* 2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB;

* 320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;

* a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+/-R DL/DVD+/-RW/CD-RW);

* ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB GDDR3 memory;

* built-in iSight video camera;

* built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;

* mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately);

* built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and

* the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.

Build-to-order options and accessories include: a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB DDR2 SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS with 512MB of video memory and up to a 1TB Serial ATA hard drive on the 24-inch iMac; up to 4GB DDR2 SDRAM and up to 750GB Serial ATA hard drive on the 2.66 GHz 20-inch iMac; and up to 4GB of DDR2 SDRAM and up to 500GB Serial ATA hard drive on the 2.4 GHz 20-inch iMac. Additional options include: Apple Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mighty Mouse; AirPort Express(R) and AirPort Extreme Base Station; the AppleCare Protection Plan; and pre-installed copies of iWork(R) ’08, Logic(R) Express 8, Final Cut(R) Express 4 and Aperture(TM) 2. 

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Free Cone Day

As Ben & Jerry’s celebrates its 30th anniversary across the globe, the socially-minded ice cream maker, with the fun and funky flavors, asks what better way to share the love? They’re giving it away. No, this is not one of those internet pranks that makes you send ten emails to your friends for a free pair jeans. This is as plain and simple as vanilla. “Jerry and Ben started their first Free Cone Day as a thank you to their customers,” said Debra Heintz, Retail Operations Director. “It’s cool,” added Heintz with full pun intended, “we get to continue the peace, love and FREE ice cream tradition every year across the world.” Free Cone Day is Tuesday, April 29th, 2008.

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Apple celebrates fifth anniversary of iTunes Store

Apple has launched a special promo section on the iTunes Store celebrating the fifth anniversary of the store’s launch.iTunes Turns Fivefeatures a look back at bestselling and staff-recommended media from each of the store’s five years of operation. Launched on April 28, 2003, the iTunes Music Store initially offered “more than 200,000 songs and a handful of exclusive tracks.” Over the years it has grown to offer more than 10 million songs, as well as movies, TV shows, iPod games, podcasts, audiobooks, and music videos, a diversification reflected when the store dropped the word “Music” from its name. As such, each year spotlighted in the promotion represents the content available that year; for instance, 2003’s promo page features only music, while 2005’s page spotlights music as well as TV programming (launched on October 12 of that year), podcasts, and audiobooks. The iTunes Store is now the largest music retailer in the U.S., and has sold more than 4 billion songs.  (Found on iLounge)

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Vanity Fair interviews Bob Odenkirk and David Cross

If you’re younger than 40 and had access to cable during the mid- to late-90s, you’re probably familiar with the names Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. As the hosts and stars of Mr. Show with Bob and David, which ran on HBO from 1995 to 1998, they became synonymous with absurdist sketch comedy. In a style reminiscent of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Mr. Show was a seemingly random hodgepodge of skits and half-baked ideas, all loosely tied together by a common theme. The show’s comedy was irreverent and sometimes viciously subversive.

Although it had a loyal (if small) cult following, Mr. Show was cancelled after just four seasons. Since then, Bob and David have collaborated on the occasional project—such as the underwhelming straight-to-video 2003 movie Run Ronnie Run—but they mostly went their separate ways. Bob moved behind the camera, directing the films Let’s Go to Prison (2006) and The Brothers Solomon (2007). As for David, he achieved semi-mainstream success, partly for his controversial standup routines (documented in the 2003 tour film Let America Laugh) and partly for his role in another short-lived but beloved cult TV classic, Arrested Development.

It’s taken 10 years, but Bob and David are finally have a new show of their own. They’re returning to HBO this fall with David’s Situation, a sitcom about a standup comic named David Cross (played by—wait for it—David Cross) who leaves Hollywood to live in the suburbs, where he writes for in-flight airline magazines and argues with his roommates, one of whom is a bleeding-heart liberal and the other a fire-breathing conservative.

Co-written with Odenkirk, who also directs, the show is a big departure from the sketch-based madness that made them cult-comedy gods. Still, in a sign that they haven’t completely abandoned their Mr. Show roots, every episode will be interrupted by parodies of commercials. “There could be ads for scissors or a new fictional movie or a public service announcement,” Cross said. “It could be anything.”

I spoke with Bob and David as they were preparing to audition actors for David’s Situation. Although they’re both acutely aware of the pressure to repeat Mr. Show’s success, they seemed calm, relaxed, even downright goofy.

VF Daily: David’s Situation sounds very different from Mr. Show. Are you worried about not living up to the expectations of your longtime fans?

David Cross: Not really. I hope people aren’t expecting Mr. Show 2.0, because they’re going to be disappointed.

Bob Odenkirk: I’m not intimidated by people’s expectations of us anymore. I probably should be, but it just doesn’t matter to me as much as it used to. I feel like this show is really solid, and it’s already a lot stronger than Mr. Show was in its first season. It took us about three seasons to really capture the rhythm and comedy tone of Mr. Show, but David’s Situation already has a strong comedic voice just with the pilot episode.

No chance you’ll get bored writing for the same character again and again and again?

BO: No, not at all. Because that character is based on David. I like to compare it to The Jack Benny Program or The Burns and Allen Show, or any of those classic TV shows where the lead was pretty much playing himself. It’s not realistic—it’s still a comic character—but David is doing a version of himself. He’s David Cross, standup comic, but it’s a fictionalized, heightened version of himself.

Just how much of this show is based on reality?

DC: The first episode is entirely made up. But I’m sure that as we continue to do this, it’ll begin to reflect our experiences. There’ll be episodes devoted to those adorable, cherubic, anecdotal experiences we’ve had in Hollywood. And we both love Hollywood.

Really? I kind of got the opposite impression.

DC: Oh no, we love it. Bob’s closer to it than I am. He’s up on the Hill. I can see it from my window. You know what I love about Hollywood? It’s similar to when you live in, say, Nebraska or the Alps and it’s a particularly clear night and you look up and you can see the Milky Way. You’re not in the Milky Way, but you can still see the Milky Way as if it’s right in front of you. But in Hollywood, it’s much more surreal. You’re living in Hollywood, and you can look up and see the Hollywood sign, which is visible almost anywhere you live in the city, and at that moment, you’re in Hollywood and you’re looking at Hollywood.

BO: And you don’t want to be there.

DC: No, you don’t want to be there. Every fiber of your being is saying, “Move! Get out of here! Move your legs in one direction and don’t stop!” But you’ll never really get away because it’s always in your heart.

David’s Situation, like a lot of your comedic collaborations, takes satiric aim at fame and celebrity. Is that a coincidence or a conscious choice?

BO: Well, Hollywood is a weird town, without a doubt. All the clichés about this place are true, and that’s kind of wild.

DC: But it’s also where we work and live, and our friends are involved in it. If we did a sketch show and we lived in Flint, Michigan, I’m sure that a lot of our observations would be about the dying auto industry. We live and work and breathe in Hollywood. Bob’s wife is a manager, and his son is the star of Cake.

Cake? What’s that?

DC: It’s a reality show.

I’ve never heard of it.

DC: It’s about who can eat the most cake in five years.

Bob, you must be very proud of your son.

BO: Well, he’s not winning.

Do you have any theories on why Mr. Show failed?

BO: That’s not entirely accurate. Mr. Show was, I think, artistically successful. And that’s why it continues to matter to at least a small group of people.

I don’t mean creatively. Why was such a critically-lauded show cancelled by HBO?

BO: Because it didn’t succeed financially. It did not make money. It never made HBO any money and it never made us any money. People come up to me and ask why we don’t just make a Mr. Show sketch movie. They’ll say, “I’m sure it’s funnier than the other movies you’ve made, Bob.” But we can’t do it—nobody is going to put money into a Mr. Show movie. It doesn’t matter how funny it is if it’s a bad financial investment.

DC: I don’t think that’s true. I don’t know what the schematics are at HBO for making money, and I don’t know what they were between ‘95 and ‘98 [when Mr. Show aired] and I don’t know what they are today. But I would be very, very, very surprised to learn that HBO did not make money on Mr. Show. That’s absurd to me.

BO: Oh, it made money. No, no, David, you’re right, Mr. Show has made them money and it continues to make them money. My point is, it hasn’t made enough of a profit. It hasn’t made the kind of money that’s even a blip on the Hollywood radar. And then there are the factors that have absolutely nothing to do with money. I think there’s a certain level of massive fame you need to achieve before you can make inroads into the upper echelons, and that’s not something we’ve ever come close to.

Well, you’ve come close. You have some notoriety.

BO: To a very small minority, yes, we have notoriety. But it’s not the kind of notoriety that matters.

DC: It’s helped at HBO. Ten or 13 years ago, when we first got Mr. Show, we weren’t known entities at all. Just promoting the show was kind of an uphill battle for HBO. But this time, with David’s Situation, people actually know who we are. We’re not like international household names, but when it comes to American comedy, you know who Bob and David are.

BO: I agree, but it still feels like we’re lacking the right kind of fame.

What’s the “right” kind of fame?

BO: There’s a sketch show on the BBC called Little Britain, and if they wanted to come to America and make a feature, they could do it. They could get all the money they wanted, even though their show hasn’t really played in the States at all. They have a certain level of massive fame in the U.K. They even have a deal with HBO. They’re shooting a domestic version of the show called Little America or something, and they’re doing 13 episodes or so. We’re shooting a low-budget pilot for HBO, and this is a place that knows us and loves us. But all the support and belief in us doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have the fame to back it up.

Do you secretly wish for mainstream success, or do you like the credibility of being cult-comedy icons?

DC: Well, I lost a lot of my credibility when I did Scary Movie—which is fine. That’s part of the territory if you want to be a working actor. When I was in my early 20s, being respected by a small audience was really gratifying. But as I get older, and I am getting significantly older, it means less and less and less to me. I remember what I was like at 23. I was an idealist and purist. I almost considered not going to Hollywood to work on The Ben Stiller Show, because I was doing my own comedy theater group in Boston, and it was so pure and perfect, and “fuck TV,” you know? But I was just immature and naïve and stubborn and fucking stupid.

BO: We didn’t make Mr. Show to please a tiny cult fan base. We did it because it was the show we really wanted to do. We did it by making mistakes and not listening to anybody and taking some big chances. Mr. Show never would have happened if we hadn’t followed our instincts and attempted every crazy, bad idea that occurred to us, and never worried about what people would think. I like having this loyal cult audience, but sometimes they have this purified version of who you are and what you should be doing with your career, which exists entirely in their imagination. Anything that contradicts that assumption just makes them angry. That says a lot more about them than it does about me. But sometimes they can keep you in check.

I’m not trying to lure you into biting the hand that feeds you, but why would you go back to HBO after your history with them?

BO: Listen, you can’t blame HBO entirely for what happened to Mr. Show. I can’t psychoanalyze the company. There are a lot of people who work there. All of the lower-level executives at HBO knew about Mr. Show, but zero percent of the upper-level execs had ever heard of it or knew what it was. Because there were some executive who didn’t get it and didn’t like it, we were always fighting an uphill battle to be accepted as a legitimate project. And in the fourth season, when they moved us to Monday at midnight, it was such a demoralizing thing. But our experience with HBO this time has been really great. We’ve got a lot of really positive energy from them, and I think maybe things will be a little different.

Do you think HBO has gotten unfairly bashed for its treatment of Mr. Show?

BO: I do! Whenever people say negative things about HBO because of what happened with Mr. Show, I’ll agree that maybe it ended a season or two too early, but you have to give them credit for making it at all. Nobody else was going to make that show.

That may be true, but you could also argue that it’s just another example of a network undervaluing a classic comedy show. You and David were both involved in a lot of great programs that were yanked off the air prematurely. Mr. Show’s fate seems eerily similar to Arrested Development and The Ben Stiller Show.

BO: No, no, no it isn’t! No it isn’t at all!

You don’t think so?

BO: The Ben Stiller Show was a complete fucking mess. Watch that show. Just watch that show. Please!

A mess in terms of its comedy content or how it was handled behind the scenes?

BO: The content. It was not a cohesive show. The voice of one scene was completely different from the voice of another.

So you think its cancellation was deserved?

BO: Look, I think the show was not completely realized, and we were all very young and we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. None of it held together. I mean, c’mon, what was your favorite moment of Ben hanging out with celebrities between scenes? Was that non-stop hilarity for you? People talk about that show like it was comedy genius, but in my opinion it never even came close. It had some high points and sometimes it could be offbeat, but it was mostly a lot of comedy sludge.

Also, should it have aired on prime time opposite 60 Minutes? If you want to accuse Fox of anything, they should have given us a late-night slot. That’s where it might have worked. What the hell were they thinking, putting this mess up against 60 Minutes? C’mon!

Dave, you were a writer on The Ben Stiller Show. Do you agree?

DC: Well, Bob’s correct that it wasn’t very cohesive at all. I don’t know if I’d describe it as a mess, but it definitely wasn’t our best work. As for why it got cancelled, and why a lot of beloved comedy shows got cancelled, that’s a very different issue. I can’t believe I’m about to say what I’m about to say, but there are some legitimate and valid reasons for why a network would cancel a show. Take something like Arrested Development. I wish it wasn’t the case, but I do have some empathy for the network. Fox is not a charity. As much as I hate the idea that commerce should come ahead of art, it’s true. I wish they could say, “Hey, let’s just take some of that Simpsons money and put it into Arrested Development,” but that would be the dumbest fucking move ever. That’s not how a business operates.

I guess you’re right. A business doesn’t need to be fair.

DC: No, it doesn’t need to be fair at all. It’s not the fucking network’s responsibility to carry dead weight. They’re the ones who pay for this shit. They can pull the plug whenever they want. I’ve never seen Jericho, but I imagine it costs a shitload of money to make. If only 25,000 diehard fans are watching it, well, sorry guys. They gave it a shot, but it didn’t work.

You sound like you’re becoming a company man.

DC: Not at all. But you can’t be surprised when a business acts like a business. Sometimes networks have crazy, random, arbitrary, myopic reasons for yanking a show. And sometimes their reasons are entirely valid. When a network executive is looking at something like The Ben Stiller Show, which didn’t really evolve or change from the first episode to the thirteenth, they have to be thinking, “O.K., are we gonna put all of our resources into this thing and pump it full of money and hope it pays off? Or should we just cut our losses and cancel it and try something else?”

If you had a chance to do it all over again, based on what you’ve learned over the past decade, would Mr. Show be more successful today than it was in the late 90s?

DC: You mean hypothetically?

Yes, hypothetically. If you and Bob were doing Mr. Show for the first time in 2008, how would it be different?

BO: Oh, it’d fall apart. After just the first few episodes, I’d start to get really upset with David. Because this time, I’d fall in love with him, and I’d be upset because he’s clearly not returning my affections and advances.

DC: We have to talk. We have to talk.

BO: If this projected future happens, I promise you, David, I will talk to you about this.

O.K., in the third projected do-over, when you can correct the errors you made in the first actual reality and second projected reality, does Mr. Show make it to a fifth season?

BO: Oh God, yeah. We do four more seasons and David and I finally get married in Hawaii. David doesn’t want to have sex, but I’m O.K. with that.

So the third time was the charm?

BO: I guess it was. Thank you for just giving Mr. Show another chance—in a completely hypothetical, nonexistent way.

 

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Free Comic Book Day May 3, 2008

Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their stores.

The annual event is the perfect opportunity to introduce your friends and family to the many worlds of wonder available at your local comic book store. From super-heroes to slice-of-life to action/adventure and beyond, Free Comic Book Day has a comic book for everyone!

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the titles.

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What is Steampunk?

Technophiles are tapping into a movement known as Steampunk, where computers, keyboards and other gadgets are re-imagined as if built during the Victorian era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jimmy Kimmel Grills the Lost Bosses (Part 2)

This is part two of funnyman Jimmy Kimmel‘s interview with Lost producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof.


Jimmy Kimmel: Will Walt continue to grow until he’s 9, 10, 11 feet tall?
Carlton Cuse:
That’s one of our favorite lines of the whole show: ” Who told you that, Taller Ghost Walt?” You know, we went and had lunch at Arnie Morton’s with Malcolm David Kelley, the actor who plays Walt.
Damon Lindelof: This was before the finale last year.
Cuse: And he was still the same size. We were like, “Thank God!” So we wrote him into the finale and then somehow, in that intervening six weeks, he hit puberty hardcore. He shows up [to shoot the episode] and it’s like, “Wow, can he slam dunk?”

Kimmel: See, you should’ve gone for an Emmanuel Lewis or a Gary Coleman. [Laughs] In my opinion, the episode where Nikki and Paolo were buried alive was the most different of all the episodes. It almost seemed like a Twilight Zone with a little Romeo & Juliet thrown in or something.
Cuse:
I think what you’re responding to is that it was the one episode that sort of acknowledged that this is just a TV show. We were responding very directly to the fans’ criticism of those characters. I think some people really appreciated it as a satiric exercise and some were kind of offended that we would —
Lindelof: Break the fourth wall.
Cuse: We take the show very seriously, but we do so with a spirit of fun. And I think we have to acknowledge that sometimes we make mistakes. Nikki and Paolo were a mistake. I mean, we’re trying to push the envelope — some things work, others crash.

Kimmel: I doubt there’s ever been a show more responsive to its audience.
Lindelof:
It has to be. Because Lost is highly-serialized, we can jump the shark in such a way that people would stop watching forever. And some people have. If you were to poll them all, the common answer would be it got too complicated. People are constantly threatening to leave the show. It’s not the most stable relationship. [Laughs] At a certain point, you go, “Come on! You’re four years in. We’re almost home. Just stick it out with us!”

Kimmel: By the final season [in 2010], it may get down to like 175 really hard-core viewers.
Lindelof:
[Laughs] As long as you’re one of them.

Kimmel: I will be. I’ve never wavered. Some episodes blow me away more than other ones, but I try to look at the big picture. I defend it when people say, “Oh, this episode’s not as good.” Maybe it’s because I have to do a show every night and I know it can’t knock your head off every single time.
Lindelof:
Do you feel like there’s a creative decision we could make that would make you stop watching?

Kimmel: I mean, if the Globetrotters sailed up on to the island or if Tony Danza became a castaway….
Lindelof and Cuse:
Uh-oh. [Laugh]

Kimmel: Is everyone on the island from the planet Earth?
Cuse:
[Long pause] Yes. That may be one of the best Lost questions we’ve ever been asked.
Lindelof: When you get asked questions like that, you have to be very careful how you answer.

Kimmel: Will we see the process of the Oceanic Six coming home and becoming international celebrities?
Cuse:
We will probably not see them hanging out with Paris Hilton.
Lindelof: But you will see that period of excitement when they first come back before the end of the year. We really thought about, what would happen if there was a plane crash and everyone was believed dead and then six survivors turned up?

Kimmel: Someone would probably write a book. They’d do Good Morning America. And they’d get a big settlement from the airline.
Cuse:
The settlement does actually come into play. That’s a big plot point in the finale.
Lindelof: Would you book the Oceanic Six on Jimmy Kimmel Live!?

Kimmel: Absolutely. No question about it.
Cuse:
The overriding goal of the characters in Season 5 is to get on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Lindelof: That’s what Jack is talking about in the flash-forward. He’s not talking about the island.

Cuse: [Laughs] “We’ve gotta go back…on Kimmel!” And Kate’s like, “No!”

TV Guide: Do you feel pressure to live up to last year’s finale? How do you beat the flash forwards?
Cuse:
I don’t know if you beat it. But the audience has been waiting to find out what happens after that scene between Jack and Kate [at the end of Season 3], and we’re gonna deliver on that in the finale. We’re doing some pretty cool s–t. It’s just gonna be on a different bandwidth than last year. It’s not about the M. Night Shyamalan trick.
Lindelof: Jimmy, that’s actually a question I wanted to ask you. Do you find now that you’ve done the Ben [Affleck] and Matt [Damon] videos, everyone’s saying, “How are you gonna top yourself?”
Kimmel: Yeah, but because that’s a departure from my usual show, I have the luxury of not doing anything. So we’re just gonna leave it alone. Certainly, if there were some spectacular idea, we’d do it. But there isn’t anything better than what we did the last time.
Lindelof: That’s the way we feel about last year’s finale — that it’s a special moment in time. That moment when Kate gets out of the car is a once-in-a-lifetime show experience.

TV Guide: The Internet has played a role in the buzz surrounding both of your shows.
Cuse:
I don’t think Lost could’ve existed in the pre-Internet era. Now you have the ability to both catch up with the show and also discuss and explain it. The camaraderie of the fans that come together over the Internet to discuss Lost is a huge factor in its success.
Lindelof: Lost has always been a cult show in its DNA. It started out as being the band that everybody was listening to and is sort of migrating down to the people who are just fans of punk rock.

Kimmel: When the series wraps, is there any chance of a Lost movie?
Cuse:
Our goal is to finish the show and have it feel satisfying. We have no plans at this point to do a movie.
Lindelof: We don’t wanna do “and then” storytelling. Like, “Yes, that’s the entire thing. And then the one thing we didn’t tell you was this.”
Cuse: When the show ends, it’s over.
Lindelof: But I think it goes without being said that [until then], the show is gonna get weird. Weirder.
Cuse: [Laughs] I’m glad you added that amplification. Recently, we were doing [an interview for] a clip show and after about two hours of explaining plot, I was like, “This show is insane! We are certifiably insane people.”

Kimmel: Then I’m insane, too, because I’m all in.

 

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Stephen King’s Dolan’s Cadillac to begin filming

Christian Slater and Wes Bentley are set to headline and Emmanuelle Vaugier will play the female lead in an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story Dolan’s Cadillac.Dolan’s Cadillac is a thriller about a man (Bentley), who plots to avenge the murder of his wife (Vaugier) by notorious and untouchable Las Vegas mob boss Jimmy Dolan (Slater).

Erik Canuel is directing Dolan’s Cadillac from an adaptation written by Richard Dooling. Production is scheduled to begin May 14.

 

 

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Who is Chip Kidd

You may not know Chip Kidd but you have seen his work many times before.  

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Kidd grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, strongly influenced by American popular culture. While a design student at Penn State, an art instructor once gave the assignment to design a book cover for John Updike.

Kidd is currently the associate art director at Knopf.  He first joined the Knopf design team in 1986.  Publishers Weekly described his book jackets as “creepy, striking, sly, smart, unpredictable covers that make readers appreciate books as objects of art as well as literature.  USA Today also called him “the closest thing to a rock star in graphic design today, while author James Elroy has called him “the world’s greatest book-jacket designer.” 

Kidd creates an average of 75 jacket designs a year.  His output includes cover concepts for books by Dean Koontz, Cormac McCarthy, Frank Miller,  Alex Ross, Charles Schulz and David SedarisJohn Updike and others.. His design for Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park novel was carried over into marketing for the film adaptation. Oliver Sacks and other authors have contract clauses stating that Kidd design their books.

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Clue Premier Edition

The Clue Premier Edition ($150) ups the game’s realism with nine sunken, three-dimensional rooms, each with precise details including the appropriate furnishings. A non-removable tempered glass lid lets the board function as a display piece between games and keeps curious little hands off the goods inside, while the familiarity of the classic characters lets the grown-ups feel like kids again.

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American Idols perform Neil Diamond songs on April 29, 2008

Neil Diamond will be the next mentor on American Idol and the final 5 will perform his songs.  The show will air on Fox on April 29, 2008.

 

 

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New official Stephen King Tower site

There is now a new official Stephen King Dark Tower site online. You can find it here.

 

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