Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Stories Behind 11 Regional Soft Drinks

Soft drinks, which originated as flavored and carbonated elixirs in the late 1800s and became especially popular during the Prohibition era, have long been associated with the region in which they were first developed. While some brands have branched out from their humble beginnings—Coca-Cola is sold in more than 200 countries and territories throughout the world—others have maintained a more localized appeal.

HERE are 11 lesser-known soft drinks and the stories behind their regional ties.

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J.J. Abrams to Produce Boilerplate Adaptation

J.J. Abrams has purchased the rights to the book Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel and will oversee the film adaptation, reports Heat Vision.

The book, 170 pages of text with 350 illustrations and photo manipulations, was written by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett and relates the adventures of a robot built in the Victorian age who, through its travels, meets all manner of famous historical personalities throughout it’s century-spanning existence.

Originally pitched as a graphic novel, the authors spent a decade compiling Boilerplate’s (the robot’s) history online, evolving Boilerplate’s history into a guide called The History of Robots in the Victorian Era, attempting to establish the character’s presence throughout various famous historical events.

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The American Museum of Natural History’s Explorer App For The iPhone

The American Museum of Natural History on New York City’s Upper West Side has released AMNH Explorer (free) for the iPhone and iPod touch. This app, funded by Bloomberg, is a tour guide and personal navigation system that allows you to easily traverse the museum’s huge collection. You can search for an exhibit by popularity, exhibit hall, or an alphabetical listing, and the app will use the museum’s free Wi-Fi to give you step-by-step directions to your intended destination (using either the stairs or elevators). You can also get directions to the closest restroom or exit as well as information about restaurants and gift shops.

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Redbox To Offer $1.50 Blu-ray Rentals

Redbox officially has begun offering $1.50-a-night rentals of Blu-ray Discs.

The king of dollar DVDs had been testing movie rentals in the HD format. Redbox said Thursday it will offer Blu-ray in 13,300 kiosks nationwide beginning immediately, and throughout its entire 23,000-location rental system by the fall.

The first wave of Blu-ray titles being includes “The Book of Eli,” “The Bounty Hunter” and “Green Zone.”

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American Idol News: Ellen DeGeneres Out, Jennifer Lopez In?

Fox announced today that Ellen DeGeneres has decided to step down from her role as a judge on American Idol. DeGeneres joined the panel in its ninth season. The network released this statement today: “A couple months ago, I let Fox and the American Idol producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” said DeGeneres. “I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for. I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on IDOL and I am very grateful for the year I had.  I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.”

Fox released a statement of its own:  “We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of Idol,” said Peter Rice, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Networks Group. “We were fortunate to receive the humor, energy and love for talent that she brought to the show.” Added Idol creator Simon Fuller in a statement: “I loved Ellen’s passion for the artists and her nurturing skills. She brought honesty and optimism to our judging panel and I will miss her greatly.”

On a separate note…

Jennifer Lopez has inked a deal to join American Idol‘s judging panel for its upcoming 10th season, according to a Deadline Hollywood report. The news dropped just hours after Ellen DeGeneres confirmed her exit from the show, despite having only served one year of a reported multi-season deal.

Lopez served as an Idol mentor on Latin night during the show’s sixth season, garnering generally positive reviews for her warm, candid style, and her ability to extract a not entirely terrible performance of “Bésame Mucho” from widely maligned contestant Sanjaya Malakar.

A Fox spokesperson declined to comment on the reported deal with Lopez. Calls and emails to Fremantle Media, American Idol spokespersons, and Lopez’s reps were not immediately returned.

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Frank Miller’s Holy Terror Project Will Not Feature Batman

For years, Frank Miller spoke of a Gotham City graphic novel that would be like no other — for the 120 bone-crunching pages of “Holy Terror, Batman!” Miller — arguably the most important comic book artist of the last 30 years — envisioned a story in which the Caped Crusader went on a blood quest against Al Qaeda.

Earlier this week, sitting over coffee at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, Miller said the elusive project is finally close to completion but that the name and central character have changed and that DC Comics won’t be the publisher. Miller frames all of this as a decision that was driven by the work itself and not dictated by a DC leadership that, according to insiders, has long been leery of the politically charged concept.

“It’s almost done; I should be finished within a month,” Miller said. “It’s no longer a DC book. I decided partway through it that it was not a Batman story. The hero is much closer to ‘Dirty Harry’ than Batman. It’s a new hero that I’ve made up that fights Al Qaeda.”

Miller, best known as the writer and artist of “The Dark Knight Returns,” “300” and “Sin City,” said the story will be set in a place called Empire City that, as the name suggests, evokes New York. The landscape and people are fictional but the real-life Al Qaeda will be transferred to this universe with its name, history and mission intact.

The book’s title will be shortened to “Holy Terror.” And what of the protagonist?

“The character is called The Fixer and he’s very much an adventurer who’s been essentially searching for a mission,” Miller said. “He’s been trained as special ops and when his city is attacked all of a sudden all the pieces fall into place and all this training comes into play. He’s been out there fighting crime without really having his heart in it — he does it to keep in shape. He’s very different than Batman in that he’s not a tortured soul. He’s a much more well-adjusted creature even though he happens to shoot 100 people in the course of the story.”

In the 1980s, Miller was permitted to take the iconic Batman character through an unprecedented reinvention with “The Dark Knight Returns,” which showed the embittered hero in his twilight years when Gotham has collapsed into near-anarchy and the Caped Crusader finds himself being hunted down by Superman and engaging the Joker in a battle to the death. “The Dark Knight Returns” became a publishing sensation and, along with “Watchmen,” ushered in a new era of ambition in the comic book medium that led directly to the contemporary boom in superhero cinema.

Despite that history, DC executives were reportedly leery of Miller’s plan to drop their globally recognized property inside an Al Qaeda vendetta fantasy. Miller, though, says he is the one who decided to leave the familiar hero in the Batcave for this particular mission.

“I had a talk with [former DC president and publisher] Paul Levitz and I said, ‘Look, this isn’t your Batman,'” Miller said. “I pushed Batman as far as he can go and after a while he stops being Batman. My guy carries a couple of guns and is up against an existential threat. He’s not just up against a goofy villain. Ignoring an enemy that’s committed to our annihilation is kind of silly, It just seems that chasing the Riddler around seems silly compared to what’s going on out there. I’ve taken Batman as far as he can go.”

Miller said he will complete the book before he signs with a publisher. “I’m talking to a number of people,” says Miller, who has often worked with Dark Horse Comics in the past. Miller said the book will come out “next year, certainly,” and he likes the idea of a hardcover, horizontal format, not unlike the Dark Horse deluxe version of the Spartan epic “300.”

Miller became part of the Hollywood boom in superhero and comics adaptations as the director of “The Spirit” and the co-director (with Robert Rodriguez) of “Sin City.” Miller is working right now on a 12-part Dark Horse comics series entitled “Xerxes,” which returns to the battlefields of “300,” another illustrated adventure that will likely stir political debate. Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, who wrote the screenplay for the 2007 hit film ($456 million in worldwide box office), are already at work on a script for a film adaptation and Snyder will almost certainly direct it, although a final deal with Warner Bros. is not in place.

“Holy Terror” has been a long journey, but Miller said he views it as a project that has arrived at its final destination right on time, creatively speaking.

“It began as my reaction to 9/11 and it was an extremely angry piece of work and as the years have passed by I’ve done movies and I’ve done other things and time has provided some good distance, so it becomes more of a cohesive story as it progresses,” Miller said. “The Fixer has also become his own character in a way I’ve really enjoyed. No one will read this and think, ‘Where’s Batman?’ (Reprinted from the LA Times – Hero Complex)

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Tamiya Model Kit Business Card

If you worked at Tamiya, the Japanese model-kit company, you’d have the chance to hand out the coolest business-card ever made. At first glance the letters on the “card” look like a stencil cut into plastic. Peek a little closer and you see that it is itself a tiny model kit.

Break the letters from their surrounding frame and then snap them together. Depending on which card you have, you’ll end up with a Formula One car, a warship or a fighter-plane.

The Business Card was designed at Creative Juice Bangkok (TBWA) by chief creative officer Thirasak Tanapatanakul, executive creative director Thirasak Tanapatanakul, graphic director Tienchutha Rukhavibul, art directors Manasit Imjai, Tienchuths Rukhavibul and Thirasak Tanapatanakul, designers Manasit Imjai and Tienchutha Rukhavibul.

The card won a Gold Design Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival 2010.

Check out some more creative business card ideas HERE.

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Yo Gabba Gabba DJ Lance Rock Dunny Available On September 2nd, 2010 From Kidrobot

If you attended Comic-Con in San Diego this year then perhaps you were lucky enough to pick up a pre-release of the new DJ Lance Rock 3-inch Dunny. The popular host of Yo Gabba Gabba met with fans and signed the plastic figures on Sunday.

For those that missed the convention, The DJ Lance Dunny will be available on the Kidrobot site on September 2nd for $9.95.

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Cover Revealed To Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Book 5: The Ugly Truth

Amulet Books revealed today the cover of the fifth Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. The Ugly Truth will have the largest first printing to date of any title in the series, with more than 5 million copies, making it one of the largest publishing releases of 2010 when it goes on sale Tuesday, November 9th. The cover is purple, following the red, blue, green, and yellow of the first four #1 bestselling books, which are available together for the first time this September in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books, which features an original Rowley Jefferson cartoon.

“To me, the fifth book is the linchpin of the series,” said Jeff Kinney. “Since Greg Heffley is a cartoon character but also a literary character, I’ve always wondered if he should grow up or stay in a state of arrested development forever. This book answers that question once and for all.”

“With The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney takes his readers in a whole new direction,” said Charles Kochman, executive editor of the Wimpy Kid series. “All of the favorite characters will be back but, like Greg Heffley, you will see them in a new light as Jeff explores the reality of adolescence.”

Books by Jeff Kinney include Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, and The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary.

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New Amazon Kindle Announced: $139 WiFi-only Version & $189 3G Model Available August 27th

Just weeks after lowering the price of the Kindle e-book reader from $259 to $189, Amazon unveiled a fully revamped Kindle on Wednesday. It’s sleeker, better looking, easier on the eyes — and starts at $139.

This new Kindle, Amazon’s third generation, is smaller by 21 percent, and 15 percent lighter too. It has much improved contrast, 50 percent better than before. It’s available in two colors: graphite and white.

To date, all Kindles have used a wireless connection to a 3G network to get books and manage subscriptions. The new ones have Wi-Fi inside, so that people at home or at a coffee shop could log on via that network instead. One Kindle still costs $189, and has both 3G wireless and Wi-Fi inside. The cheaper $139 model only connects through Wi-Fi — and only comes in graphite.

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