Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bin Laden Sighted In Karachi; May Turn Self In

Reports of Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts took a new turn this week when a Pakistani woman reported sighting a tall man in a white robe with matching turban hit his head on a low doorway. The woman's suspicions about the identity of the man were further aroused when she noticed the entrance led to a recording studio. So as not to create suspicion, she approached him without revealing who she thought he might be. “Are you all right?” she asked, with demur innocence. “No,” he said. “How can I be all right? Besides just cracking my head on this low doorway, I’m Osama Bin Laden.” “Really?” she replied, thinking of the $25-million reward for turning him in, as well as her opportunity to contribute to the triumph of justice. “Yes” he went on. “I haven’t been all right since I fled Tora Bora, because it’s even hard for me to get out long enough to make my audiotapes.” “My, oh, my,” the woman commiserated, “Everybody thinks you’re in the remote regions near the Afghan border.” “You’d think they’d know better,” he confided. “How could a spoiled rich boy like me live this long without some of the comforts only a city can provide, like a dialysis machine to keep me alive, and takeout food.” “That makes sense,” she agreed. “Yes, it does, but there’s no danger the authorities will figure out where I am, because every time I record a tape, we filter out the sounds of the city, like horns and sirens.” “That’s very clever,” she said. “You’d think that when they see the tapes are filtered they might guess you’re in a place where there are background sounds.” “Let’s just hope they don’t catch on. I don’t want them to take away from my next surprise move.” “Oh, a surprise move,” she exclaimed. “Want to tell me about it?” “No,” he told her, “because then it won’t be a surprise anymore. But just watch. I’m not going to slink around Karachi forever. I long for metropolitan delights in the more developed capitals of the world. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my recording session is due to start.” Then he waved goodbye and reentered the doorway, this time remembering to duck. The woman, excited to shortness of breath, went straight to the nearest police station and reported her astonishing interaction. Police immediately launched a Karachi-wide search for Bin Laden, vowing to pursue him as part of their apparently somewhat porous terrorist dragnet. They were, however, shocked when the very next day, Bin Laden called police headquarters and offered to turn himself in. When asked why he had made the decision, when the police, many of whom are devout Muslims, were doing their utmost to help him evade capture, he replied, “I can’t stand it any longer. Hiding out every day, afraid to go outside for fear of getting into a conversation with a stranger who might report me, and having to spend all my time with my four wives, when I could be sitting in a topless club in America, like the martyrs I sent to fly planes into American buildings were doing shortly before their great sacrifice. Worse yet, one of my wives told me I may have misinterpreted The Koran, because, she reminded me, 'Islam' means peace. Praise be to God I didn't, or I'll have to turn myself in. ” “Well, if you insist,” the police told him. “I’ll let you know for sure in a day or two,” Osama replied, “I don’t want to do it and then regret it later, especially at the moment I’m being hanged.” “That’s very understandable, revered sheik,” the Pakistani police officer replied. Then he added a reassurance that would undoubtedly have infuriated Pakistani President Musharaff, his much wiser leader and devoted American ally in the war on terror. “We must scour the city for you. Before you hang up, tell us your address, so we make sure to avoid it.”

A Peek Through Heroes: When Drama Meets Science Fiction

One of the most top-rated television shows currently on air would be Heroes, a sci-fi series created by Tim Kring. It is an epic drama that shares the lives of seemingly ordinary people who later discovers that they possess extraordinary abilities. This TV series somewhat copies the style of American comic books in aesthetic as well as storytelling. The shows starts with a genetic professor from India, Dr. Mohinder Suresh and his father's theory that there are people with extraordinary abilities living among us humans. Starting with Claire Bennet, an indestructible cheerleader who needs to hide her abilities from her peers while working to maintain her relationship with her father, a man of mystery who has a keen interest in people like her. Niki Sanders, a Las Vegas single mother with superb strength and has a dangerous mirror image struggles to support and protect her young son Micah, a genius who can interact with electronic machinery through touch. Matt Parkman, a police detective from Los Angeles, attempts to put his ability to hear thoughts of others to good use. Meanwhile, in Japan, Hiro Nakamura's ability to travel through space-time continuum has empowered him to change the future as he travels on wild adventures with his best friend Ando Masahashi. Nathan Petrelli, with a congressional position, has the ability to fly. His dreams went down after failing to stop his younger brother Peter Petrelli, a nurse with the ability to absorb the powers of others, from exploding over New York. After this clash in New York, the fate of Sylar, a manipulative serial killer dedicated to violently collect the extraordinary powers of special people, is unknown. Meanwhile, in Dominican Republic, a young woman named Mava Herrera and her twin brother, haunted by her threatening ability, attempts to make the dangerous cross to the United States in search for answers. Monica Dawson, cousin of Micah, has mimicking abilities and would give up everything to help the people around her.

Every episode shows how these people deal with their powers and how they are somewhat interconnected. Every person has their own lifestyle, making the series much more realistic. It shows different ways of living in different countries, only to find out that they have supernatural powers. These characters offer a wide range of relationships, and are inclined to self-destruction. Of course, they fear what other people might say, and fear not knowing exactly what they could do with their powers. The show offers a life drama that everyone could easily relate to, plus a twist of extraordinary powers. In season one of this series, they gave us an introduction of how these special people become   connected by their unique and special abilities. It gave us an overview of these characters and their unique abilities, and how others try to manipulate these powers in a bad way.

Season two is still on and is focused on introducing new sets of characters, also with unique abilities as well. Many people all over the world have been constantly raving about this series, proving its success and good ratings. With each episode, they consistently show us different stories of different people with only one goal: to save the world.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Deep Look into Soap Operas

You have got to love soap operas. From the intricate plots and finely woven webs of deceit, to the depths of schemes, they were, are and always will be classics. They are timeless. I wrote this article as my take on them back in 1970 when filling white space for our high school paper. Watch a few soap operas for the next few days and see for yourself how closely they resemble soap operas 36 years ago… And now for that thought provoking question that plagues men’s souls unceasingly through the bright shining of the day and through the untold dark depths of the night: Why did Peter, who in reality is actually Superman, fake that he stubbed his toe on the 17th stone on the sidewalk starting at 4th and Grand instead of the 16th stone, which was bigger and more logically the victim of that invulnerable toe and why did Marlys take Sam’s advice to buy the yellow tulip instead of the red and green carnation, while all the time Rodregus knew that the curvaceous young Pandora was at the moment buying the last purple, double-breasted, duck-billed, warbling giraffe in the world for her dear departed Phillip disguised as a lowly second mate on the Queen Mary, which was under attack by the tyrant Cedric because of the terrible beating he had suffered at the hands of Radcliff whose ex-wife Natalie was actually Percival’s long lost great-great-uncle Maximillian in disguise who knew that Zigmond was fond of un-pitted olives stuffed into green grapefruit filled graciously with Granny and Gretchen’s goulash, which was gradually getting gooey and who also knew of Jennifer’s contact Louella in the deep Congo, seized at the time by the dread Gardenia, the 7th cousin of Guenivere, in hopes of receiving the eight-ounce bottle of Elmer’s Glue stored in the vast files in the cortex of Courtney’s colossal computer complex carefully compiled to correct the current curling, commonly crusading as the contagious, communicable, crystalline, cucumber crud, carried on cue sticks by crying cuckoo clock birds continuously to conform with the cunning Cornelius’ cumbersome plot to corrupt the currency and continue the crisis of the Cormandel Coast Cult, complicated by the coroner Cort’s corny connotation to conceal his consecutive coronary contractions constantly crippling his conscious efforts to contradict congenial counterparts’ careful counterfeit correspondence with Corwyn, the cosmic cosmetician? Was it because Bill had green eyes or was it because Melissa meddled menacingly and meticulously in Maude’s plans to read the calendar to see what year she had been sent to by her superiors in the future? Tune in tomorrow for the exciting climax created by another deep question.

A New Music of the Orient: a Touch of the West and a Dash of the Divine

A new musical fusion has arisen in New York and it's not the kind you can catch for ten dollars at a club in the West Village. For the many thousands of Chinese immigrants trying to stay afloat in a new world and for those westerners who have always wanted to understand the Chinese but have shied away for lack of a way in--for anyone who has wondered where the two civilizations connect, the answer may lie not in words, but in music.

Lisa Li is a master of the pipa (Chinese lute) and a graduate of the Chinese Conservatory of China. She has composed and performed across Europe, Asia and the United States, and her playing was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie The Last Emperor.  Now, as one of the lead composers for New Tang Dynasty Television's Chinese New Year Spectacular, a grand scale performance of traditional Chinese dance and song, Lisa has created what she believes to be a new kind of sound--based on ancient Chinese folk and religious music, but going beyond either of them.

“Music is alive, because in the view of the Chinese ancients, every single object in the world has life. In fact, in Chinese, when we refer to a musical note we call it a ‘live note,’” she explains. But according to Lisa, it must be composed and played from the heart—sometimes in ways that sound foreign to the western ear.

But the melodies are far from random. Lisa’s music, like all traditionally composed Chinese music, is based on a series of pentatonic (5-note) scales. This system has its roots in Taoism, which teaches that all matter is formed from the five basic elements of metal, earth, wood, fire, and water. It teaches that in order for a being to be healthy, it must have all of these elements in balance. So, from the Chinese perspective, a song or piece of music must also contain a uniquely crafted balance of these elements. There are also eight note scales that relate to the Taoist symbol called the bagua, which is most commonly known in the West as part of the practice of fengshui, or geomancy.

An example of this is the piece she wrote for the dance “A Dunhuang Dream.” The dance is set against a backdrop of thousands of caves carved into the sides of cliffs as they are in the Moago Grottoes in the Dunhuang region of China. Seated at the mouth of each cave is a Buddhist or Taoist deity. As the dancers emerge, one can hear from the orchestra pit the voices of the erhu (Chinese violin) and guzhen (zither), but these are soon joined by the more recognizable resonance of cello, bass, oboe, and brass.  The result strikes the ear as achingly otherworldly and yet also solidly familiar.

In fact, the specific ya yue used in the score is the same as that found in the ancient pipa music written on scrolls that were discovered by archeologists in the actual Dunhuang caves years ago.

“I feel very deeply that music is a heavenly language, a divine language,” Lisa says. “It is able to uplift people’s hearts and minds. It is good for the soul.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

Iraqi Insurgents In Secret Talks; Admit May Be Fighting Wrong Enemy

Iraqi insurgent groups, in secret talks with resourcefully pacifying President Jalal Talabani, admitted they may have been fighting the wrong enemy. Upon hearing the admission, President Talibani slapped his forehead so hard he fell over backwards and was unconscious for approximately three days. Upon being resuscitated, he continued the talks. Apparently, the insurgents, most of whom are Sunni Muslims, have slowly begun to realize that American and coalition troops, who they have been making their best efforts to kill, may not be the real enemy. It seems they are also growing disenchanted with the practice of blowing up a dozen or so of their fellow countrymen every day. While it is far too soon to expect them to realize that coalition troops are actually the helpful heroes who liberated their country from murderous despotism and will be delighted to depart their sandy realm as soon as they can get their act together and run their own country, the groups have indicated a marginal willingness to consider giving up their various armaments and roadside explosives. Behind the change in their sentiment seems to be, not only their longtime-overdue displeasure with dismembering their own nation, but the realization that they are dangerously bordered by their traditional enemy, Iran, as they have been for quite a few thousand years, and that, because of the continuing discord, Iran has managed to increase its influence in the country, particularly among their uneasy Mosque fellows, the Shiite contingent of the legions of Mohammed. This perception is especially upsetting to the insurgents, because, as noted above, most of them are rival Sunni “Mosque-ovites.” Their infuriatingly slow realization of the error of their ways is likely to elicit hardly more than ironic displeasure from the many families, coalition and Iraqi alike, who have lost loved ones during their misguided rampage. But at least their willingness to talk and to consider mending their detonative ways is a glimmer of hope for the families whose sons and daughters are still in Iraq, attempting to do the right thing by the Iraqi people, Sunni and Shiite alike. May the day soon come when enough of the knuckleheads realize the error of their war so we and the other nations that are in the hot sands we’ve gotten ourselves into can finally get our much underappreciated troops the heck out of there.

A Magician’s Oath

A magic trick is created to amuse and mesmerize an audience who comes to the show knowing that all the tricks are not real and have fun because they can’t figure out how the magic was done. You won’t see a magician exposing magic mainly because telling how a magic was done is to kill the thrill and fun in watching them.

Magicians wanting to join a group of other magicians are required to give an oath to that effect. Never tell anyone who is not a magician the reason behind a trick and to never show a trick to anyone when you haven’t fully mastered it.

Once you gave your oath as a magician, it is expected that you will live up to your promise. Once you tell somebody and the organization found out about it, you may find yourself not receiving new tricks or that no one is teaching you how another trick is done.

Note though that you can tell it to somebody who is really willing to learn on how to be a magician. In fact you can see instruction videos and detailed instructions on sale in many shops. This is to help budding magicians into starting their careers or hobbies. Some of the tricks included in these instruction videos are common tricks and very easy to learn.

Some magicians also tell their tricks to misdirect others and help them appreciate a new trick that they have done. Old tricks seem to bore adult audiences that they tend to ‘bungle up’ the old tricks in preparation for their new tricks which proves more astonishing.

Magic tricks, once shown how they are done, may be posed with risk of becoming stale. Sometimes it is because you are disappointed at how easy it actually is or maybe because you found out that the trick requires a lot of props to accomplish. This is the reason no magician in his right mind will tell an audience how a trick is done. A magic told is a magic lost. Secrecy is the key and the magic is in keeping those secrets within you.

Magic is a living art, new illusions are propping up and new ways are introduced. Yes, you will see magicians telling their tricks but true magicians will always find their way around it. They will devise new illusions from old illusions and they will get more creative in how they show those illusions.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Katana master

This story took place in feudal Japan in the 18th century. An ordinary servant put a noble guest into a rage. The offended said the host should teach his servant a good lesson, which back then certainly meant death for the servant. The host had no right to disobey this tradition. The man found his dutiful servant and uttered, "I'm sorry, but I must fulfill the wish of our guest and punish you. I have no choice. All I can bitterly advise you to do is to take a sword and fight me - you might kill me during the joust and then throw yourself on mercy of the man you offended." "Is it not useless for me to draw a sword?", the servant replied with astonishment. "You are a first-rate katana master and a fencing teacher, and my peasant hands have never held a sword before. How could I possibly win?" The fencing teacher in his turn had been waiting long for a fight with someone past praying for, someone caught in a hopeless situation, but hadn't had a chance so far. He said to his servant, "Take my katana and try your fate. Let's see what happens - the Fortune might be on your side." When the master and the servant faced each other with their swords drawn, the master noticed that his position is much worse and decided he should change it. He made one step back, then a couple steps more, and soon found himself with his back against the wall. The master had to take the final decision as there was no more room left for backing up. It was no fun any more, no more thoughts of experimenting. Cornered, the master was not able to change for a more advantageous position, and with a loud cry he delivered a stroke slaying the unfortunate servant. The master would tell his disciples after that , "That was an incredible battle! The servant was about to defeat his master, his attack was almost impossible to repel. So, even an old servant can become a strong rival in this kind of situation, let alone a skillful fencer. The great warrior and commander Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578 ) said, "A warrior has success in his head, armor on his chest, and his fate is in heaven. Go to fight with confidence and you'll come back without a single wound. Rush into the battle ready to die. Should you leave home, remember that you shall never see it again, only then shall you come back. If you dream for a moment of returning home, it will most likely never happen. Life brings about constant changes, but samurai doesn't think that way as his fate is predestined".

A Look on “Trainspotting”

Heroin is among the most potent or “hardest” drugs that an addict could use or take. It is a powerful opiate pain killer that produces euphoria and blissful passiveness. Long-term heroin addiction is also associated with difficult withdrawal symptoms and separation anxiety. Heroin is taken through injected doses, smoking, or by sniffing.

“Trainspotting” is a very interesting movie about the effects and dangers of heroin abuse.  The 1996 movie based on a novel was directed by Danny Boyle and starred in by Ewan McGregor. The movie depicts the desperate lives of the heroin addicts who finance their drug habit through shoplifting and getting money from their parents.  The movie also shows the “rollercoaster” life of heroin addicts who repeatedly swear to end their addiction only to find themselves again at the mercy of the local drug dealer.

Aside from the characters who are “hooked” on heroin, the film also shows the difficulties of other characters named Tommy and Begbie who do not take drugs but still lead troubled lives. Tommy is more fond of football and girls, while Begbie is a violent drunkard.
In one scene, the group of friends again engage in a heroin “session,” this time, with a female friend.  As the group drift away from “reality” due to the psychotropic effects of the narcotic, they also lose all sense of responsibility for their actions. After the effects of the “hit” wear off, they were shocked to find the baby dead and rotting in her crib. The heroin addicts were so “out of touch” that they eventually neglected to feed and care for the baby.  Naturally, the mother of the baby suffered from extreme separation anxiety  and grief after losing the baby. The death of the baby was an eye-opener for the group of friends and made them consider quitting their addiction.

Renton, the character portrayed by Ewan McGregor, tried so hard to “get clean” and leave behind his friends and his heroin addiction. Unfortunately, he got an overdose during his self-proclaimed “one last hit” of heroin.  After the overdose incident, he was forced by his parents to quit heroin, “cold turkey.”  Renton was locked up at home and suffered severe withdrawal symptoms. He again experience separation anxiety since he was forcibly separated from this heroin-addicted gang.  In numerous moments of hallucination, he was bothered by depressive thoughts, guilt, and shame.  Specifically, he was very troubled by the death of the baby during one of their heroin sessions.  As a means to start a new life, he reluctantly agreed to making a heroin transaction with his friends.  The profits from the sale of the illegal narcotic was supposed to be split among them. Instead, Renton was able to run away with most of the money.  His friends spiraled down back to their heroin addiction. The film ends by showing how Renton finally gave up his friends and his addiction by moving to London. In the city, he sought to find a new life far away from his petty thievery and heroin-dependent lifestyle.   In London, he wanted to make a fresh start and take the opportunity to “choose life.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Mogadishu, Coke Is Branded As The Infidel Thing

Islamic militants who have taken over in Mogadishu and dropped the dark veil of medievalism over the minds of the citizenry have branded Coca-Cola as un-Islamic. A hard-line sheik has declared that Westerners are enemies of Islam and their products should not be consumed. The man has followers. One, who owns a tea shop, said, "Out of ignorance, I was selling and drinking Coca-Cola, but now I hate it so much.' Pointing to various rules regarding beverages that grace the Koran, the militants point out that Mohammed states, "There is only one beverage, and it's name is water." They maintain that, In another place, the Prophet notes, "Things don't go better with Coke; it makes me burp." Finally, they say he reveals, "The infidels invented Coke, and true believers never imitate the infidels, except when I took ideas from Moses and Jesus, but remember: I always gave them credit, or at least as much as I could stand to give them." As a result, the one factory that represents a drop of modernity in the impoverished burg is in danger of being shut entirely. Sales are down markedly, because many of the citizenry believe in the soft-drink wisdom of their leaders. Doubt exists as to the genuineness among some of the citizens of the new abhorrence for the drink. A recent convert commented, "I think these backward thinkers are just the kind of people I want to follow. For me abstaining from Coke has nothing to do with the fact that they carry machine guns, and I don't own one." There is also some forthright good news. A young man, age 31, is ignoring calls by religious leaders to stay away from it. "I love Coca-Cola," he said, "I drink it all the time. It's my favorite drink." There was another bright spot in an otherwise dismal mindscape A consumer who considers it his favorite beverage said, "I don't have suspicions about it. I don't think hostility can work in business. Business must be free from political and religious affairs." His level-headed comment reminds us somewhat of the sign that used to be painted on the side of the IBM building in New York City, which managed to combine the economic basis of society with the urgent need for humans to find peaceful ways to conduct themselves. It said "World peace through world trade." Nice idea. The more factories you build in another country, the less likely you are to bomb it. At least, one hopes.

A Look At The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Some critics might say Jasper Cropseys The Backwoods of America, part of the Crystal Bridges growing American Art Collection, is a symbolic icon for billionaire Alice Waltons passion for the arts.

Designed by world renowned architect Moshe Safdie, and funded by billionaire Alice Walton, the 50 million dollars that is just the cost of the facility and does not include the artworks Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is scheduled to open in 2009, in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was two years ago this month that the daughter of Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart, made the controversial announcement.

The museum will house a permanent collection of signature works from American artists along with galleries dedicated to regional art and artists including Native American art, but oddly enough, this monumental task is not making everyone happy.

The depth of the museum is indicated in a purchase from Christies Americas auction house in New York City in 2004 of Charles Wilson Peales portrait of George Washington for $6.1 million. This is causing some critics to puff up, believing that the art works are being snatched from their own backyard. No need to worry, collaborating with other institutions will be an important focus of Crystal Bridges, even before the museum opens, and they can also rest easy to know Bentonville does have an airport.

A number of the works from the Crystal Bridges permanent collection are already on loan at various museums throughout the United States including: The Hudson River School masterwork Kindred Spirits which was loaned to The National Gallery in Washington, D.C. for public viewing from 2005 - 2007. It is currently on loan to the Brooklyn Museums exhibition by the same name featuring the works of Asher B. Durand. The same exhibition will also travel to Washington D.C. and San Diego.

Thomas Eakins Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. Rand is currently on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Jasper Cropseys majestic depiction of early American frontier life, The Backwoods of America, is now featured in the American galleries of The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City, and the most extensive surviving group of Colonial American portraiture, the Levy-Franks family paintings, is currently on loan at The Jewish Museum in New York City. Also, the distinctive painting George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait) by the American painter Gilbert Stuart is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

While the puffers puff, others admire Waltons passion and dedication to the arts, and recognize the fact Crystal Bridges will be the premier American Art Collection, once it is in place. The collection is headed up by Bob Workman, formerly associated with the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

When completed, the museum complex will encompass approximately 100,000 square feet of gallery, library, meeting, and office space, a 250-seat indoor auditorium, areas for outdoor concerts and public events, gallery rooms suitable for large receptions, as well as sculpture gardens and walking trails. Walton is building this American Dream on 100 pristine, wooded acres her family owns in Bentonville.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Glorious Feast of Traditional Chinese Dance

New Tang Dynasty Television’s Chinese New Year Spectacular offers a truly tantalizing variety of dance this year, featuring all-new dance troupes and drawing upon 5,000 years of history spanning a vast range of different folk traditions from Mongolia to Tibet to the Yunnan region of China.

Acclaimed choreographer Yung Yung Tsuai has been working with the Spectacular since its inception in 2004. Ms. Tsuai came to the United States in 1970 to study contemporary dance on a Martha Graham Scholarship. She stayed on with the Graham Company and still teaches at the Martha Graham School of contemporary dance today.

Ms. Tsuai says the Spectacular is a particularly meaningful production for a lot of people because “over the last 100 years, much of China’s rich traditional culture has been destroyed. People have lost their roots,” Ms. Tsuai says. “Our performers want wholeheartedly to convey their culture and traditions to the audience to remind them, and themselves, of who the Chinese are.”

Hundreds of dancers from all over the United States and Canada rehearsed almost every day for over a year. Yung Yung Tsuai is but one of six dance teachers, all of whom graduated from China’s top dance schools, resulting in a combined total of more than a hundred years of training and experience. With so many expert teachers, Ms. Tsui says, “collaboration is a major part of the project.”

Although choreographers use traditional themes and styles, many dances actually combine the styles of both east and west, fusing ballet techniques with the expressiveness of classical Chinese dance. All the dancers train extensively in both. Ms. Tsuai says ballet helps the dancers develop the skill needed to execute the classical Chinese movements.

For Ms. Tsuai, what is unique about the Spectacular is not just the dances themselves or the dazzling costumes, it is how the dances affect the audience. For those few minutes that each piece is presented on the stage, she says viewers will feel they have entered a time and place governed by chivalry, loyalty, and honesty—a place where beauty and peace prevail. “We are not just showing people traditional Chinese culture; we are waking up the part of them that yearns for beauty and goodness,” said Ms. Tsuai.

This is what draws her back every year, sometimes as a choreographer, sometimes as a dance teacher. And, she says, this is what motivates the hundreds of dancers who give their lives over to the handful of days a year when the show comes to the stage.

“Art is the food of the soul,” said Ms. Tsuai. “If you see art that promotes peace and harmony, you will bring that home with you. That’s what’s important. In the past people lived as if they were in a divine realm. Daily life wasn’t necessarily religious but it was very spiritual. When art presents the beauty and positive side of human nature, it can positively influence people in how they relate to others in their daily lives.”

Ms. Tsuai is confident the audience will leave NTDTV’s Chinese New Year Spectacular feeling not only entertained but nourished and rejuvenated by this veritable feast for the soul.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Stars As Sources Of Wisdom

Why do many people look to movie stars for answers to some of life's most challenging questions? While we have great respect for the art of acting, as explicated from Stanislavsky to Strasberg, the latter of whom we knew well and were fond of, we have never understood how the usual snippets who decide to become actors ascend in the minds of the public from being initially generally regarded as likely ne’er-do-wells to being considered the most readily available font of insightful advice on just about every topic that troubles the frontal lobe of contemporary humanity. Are we so doubtful of our own confidence to make up our minds that the resplendent light in which a current movie star is illuminated by his own publicity agents blinds us to the very probable vapidity of his or her own mind? After all, there is a certain disjunction between what movie stars do to win our attentions and what we expect of them once they succeed. They bring themselves to our attention by committing to memory, or by reading off one kind of prompter or another, words devised by others. We won’t go so far as to say they achieve renown by presenting the thoughts of others, since realistic drama, in most of its contemporary manifestations, is apparently unable to present characters who might actually have an occasional considerable thought. But, once they ascend to the starry vault that hovers over us, do we expect of them anything consonant with the ability to recite the usual inanities? No, suddenly we want these storied performers to transform themselves into the wise harbingers of original insight and exemplary advice. We even search the most mundane aspects of their personal lives for a hint or two as to how we might enhance the happiness of our own comparatively desultory lives. Or, just as often, we suppose, in the hope of finding that, despite their great reservoir of astonishing expertise, their own lives are inexplicably entangled in antics so confoundedly absurd that their shortcomings make us feel far superior in the relatively rickety guidance of our own lives. Since we can only be sure that the lights of stage and screen will continue to be presented to us with all the wiles that can be managed through the deft employment of colorful media, as the engaging exemplars of how we should only hope to live, it appears that the only way to alter the mutual mockery is to become more realistic about what we really ought to expect from our dazzling stars-brights.

A Garden Of Roses: Character Relationships In “Marimite”

While Japanese animation is better known for having flashy special effects and obscenely choreographed fight scenes, there are other shows out there that offer a very distinct visual treat. Some shows become sleeper hits, never really making the headlines but having special places in the hearts of more...discerning anime fans. Among these shows is “Maria-sama ga Miteru,” (affectionately called “Marimite” by fans) which is a show that focuses heavily on the characters' everyday lives, relationships, and personal complexities. Unlike most other anime, “Marimite” has no plot to follow, with the story instead taking time to examine each character in turn. The focus often falls on the relationship a character has with their closest companion, but can also delve deeply into the themes like how their connection with others gives them emotional stability. Some episodes highlight the depth of the devotion that the characters have for each other.

For example, several different chapters delved deeply into the emotional trauma that one of the major characters experienced. The story is one that is told in every high school, with two lovers being forced apart for some reason. In the case of “Marimite,” it could be boiled down to one-sided anxiety in the affair. One of the girls in question, Shiori, was afraid of what would happen if she let go of her lifelong dream and decided to abandon her budding romance with Sei in favor of the stability of pursuing a goal. The nature of the relationship and the ominous end was studied in an early chapter but her recovery, thanks to her friends, was examined more deeply later on in the story. For most fans, that collective “story arc” is considered to be among the chief highlights of the show and is cited as among the most emotionally stirring moments in the history of anime.

Much more prominent, but arguably less dramatic, is the growing relationship between the main character, Yumi, and her idol, Sachiko. The pair, as noted by observers who are close to them, seem to be rather different from one another. Yumi is an ordinary girl who often sees herself as normal in every way, with more than her fair share of fear and anxiety at being in such close proximity to girls whom she saw as the “royalty” of the school. Sachiko, on the other hand, was every inch a princess bred for the sole purpose of fulfilling a role and maintaining appearances. Their growing ties with one another, along with just how much they influence and cherish one another, is the most prominent among the running threads of the show. As the story progresses, Sachiko slowly starts to open up more and learn to let go of her mask of emotional stability when needed. At the same time, Yumi is learning to become more confident with herself, along with learning to get better control of her emotional outbursts.

Ultimately, there are several other relationship threads and emotional connections than the ones presented above. The friendships between girls of the same year-level, their interactions with those that are ahead of them, and the recurring visits of girls who have already graduated offer glimpses into the depth of the closeness the cast shares. As some fans of the show have said, each girl is a window in every other girl's soul, often appearing as either a reflection of something inside them or as that unidentifiable piece that is missing from their lives. The show certainly lacks the capacity for epic drama, but then again, it is a show about ordinary lives and ordinary girls. Really, how much “epic drama” does the average girl have to look forward to, anyway?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Enron Trial Goes To Jury; Ken Lay Doesn't Notice

The trial of the defendants in the collapse of Enron went to the jury, but it seems that Ken Lay, the chairman and principal defendant, didn’t notice. A reporter asked him how such an important event escaped his attention. “Well, to tell you the truth,” Mr. Lay said, “I hardly ever notice anything. I mean, I didn’t notice anything was wrong when Enron’s finances were going up in flames like an oil well on fire right outside my office window. So it’s only understandable that I wouldn’t notice a little thing like the jury going off to deliberate how much time I’ll spend in jail.” “What were you thinking about instead?” the reporter pressed on. “Oh, nothing much. How nice my wife still looks after all the scandal and financial ruin I’ve put her through and how I can still smile like an innocent elf when the press snaps my picture. Yep, that’s what I was thinking about.” Then, growing pensive, he added, “Don’t you think the fact that I didn’t notice the jury going off to decide my fate helps make the case that I might not have noticed anything was wrong at Enron?”

A Fun Teddy Bear Party - Some Simple Steps

A fun teddy bear party is not a difficult thing to pull of with a little creativity and some things that you can find round your house! Here are some quick ideas for making the party "beary" fun!

Invitation ideas

Buy some inexpensive rubber stamps with bear images and let your little one make homemade invitations. Or cut a piece of cardstock into the shape of a bear and write your invitation on that. Free clipart can be found for this purpose in many places on the Internet. Make sure you include the request for all the guests to bring their own bear to the teddy bear party too!

Decoration ideas

When kids think of bears they usually think of honey and bees, so a big hit for decorations is LOTS of yellow and black balloons and streamers. If possible have various teddy bears all around the room as well to tie in the theme.

Menu ideas

When you're hosting a teddy bear party even your menu should be centered on teddy. Here is a cute way to turn Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches into a beary fun treat!

Spread your peanut butter and jelly onto eight whole-wheat hamburger buns. Now here's where the fun begins. Cut four of the eight buns in half. On a large tray or covered cookie sheet, arrange the buns into a shape of a teddy bear. For the tummy, put one whole bun and surround that with 4 half buns. Another whole bun becomes the head/face, with two half buns on the topsides of the head for the ears. Two whole buns become the legs and the final two half buns turn out off of the body to make arms. Garnish the face/head bun with raisin eyes and a strawberry slice mouth and you've got a bear! Use a separate tray for additional sandwiches and watch for all the smiles! Mix some honey and yogurt together for a great dip for cut fruit and your menu is complete!

Bear Party - Activities and craft ideas

Crafts with a bear theme abound but here are some quick ideas for your teddy bear party. Make a paper bear chain (paper dolls) that the kids can color and decorate. Use paper plates to make paper bear masks. Bead a bear collar (necklace). Take a picture with all the kids and their own bears and decorate a simple scrapbook page to honor the occasion. Decorate teddy bear cookies with colored icing and various decorations.

Bear Party - Game ideas

Pin the honey pot on the teddy bear - if you have an artist in the family, draw a large teddy bear on poster board and cut out honey pots. Blindfold each child individually and see if they can put the honey pot into the teddy bear's hand.

Hot Teddy Bear - like hot potato only pass the teddy bear to the music. When the music stops, the person with the teddy bear is out.

Toss the honey pot - draw a large bear head with an open mouth on poster board and lay it on the floor. Using yellow beanbags as the "honey" each child throws the bag to see if it will land in the bear's mouth.

Take home gift ideas

Purchase yellow lunch bags (available at party stores) and decorate with bee stickers. Fill with gummy bears, teddy grahams, miniature stuffed teddy bears and fun bear jewelry. Or if you want to go all out, hire a stuffed animal party planner to come and have each child make their own stuffed animal as part of the party.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

AIDS epidemic in the USSR

When an adult suffers from а child disease, it is extraordinary painful. Just as it happened to me at the late Soviet time when I caught measles, was bedridden for three days with a fever heat of 40C and was going to die. But then a doctor came, diagnosed the rubeola, I was taken to a specialized hospital and alive and kicking in a couple of days. I will never forget those three days - an awful headache, general muzziness because of high temperature and in three days no thoughts but those of fast and desired death. In the hospital I met a man of about 50 who told me his case history. Further narration is from the first person. I'm not young already and all my age mates often club to start complaining of their illnesses - some have ulcer, others - pressure problems, etc. And I sit like an asshole and can't keep the ball rolling since don't have any serious diseases. There finally I fall ill, which made me really happy. "They will cure me" - I thought - "so at last I will have a good reason to beat gums with my aces". I found myself in a contagious isolation ward of Botkin's surrounded only by those with Joe Trots and where everyone carries his own altar in their arms. I was also given my own altar. I really joined the club. They analyze me but can't find anything. At those times there appeared first reports of HIV-positive people in newspapers. The first one, as far as I remember, was a fellow from the foreign trade organization - a homosexual. That was the only association with AIDS. After failing to make a diagnosis the doctors decided that I had AIDS. And started putting me to the question. "Suppose you sleep with pants, come clean, we are doctors after all". I deny this but they don't believe me. They say: "Come on, faggot, we keep the medical secrecy". Thus, a week passes (in three weeks I gave up). I come up to my doctor and say: "All right, guys, make a diagnosis and treat me, I may take it till the day after tomorrow, or else I will leap out of the window - can't stand it anymore". The next day they hold a regular council when a pediatrician wanders in by mistake. On examining me, she diagnoses rubeola proceeding without visible hives for some reason, which prevented to make the diagnosis right. The day before yesterday I was brought here and now I'm well. The only thing I'm distressed about is that it's even shameful to tell men about my experience - they discuss different serious ailments there and I have a child disease which is shameful to speak about let alone personal altars and how they passed me for a faggot. Then I have to hold my tongue.

A Closer Look At Fine Collectibles

When looking for a fine quality gift it is sometimes good to know a little of the history of the company; particularly when you are looking at collectibles.

Collectibles are a wonderful gift especially during the holiday season as many fine collectible companies have gifts that are designed for the season.
One of the oldest and most popular fine collectible companies is M.I. Hummel. Hummel figurines are created in Germany by master artists of W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik and based upon the creative and artistic vision of Sister Marie Innocentia Hummel who lived and worked in Germany during the first half of the 1900’s.

Hummel figurines are world renowned and appreciated for the simple beauty and subtle humor which people have enjoyed for almost a century. I know my mother and my grandmother both have many Hummel figurines, some dating back to the early 1940’s.

Admirers of Hummel figurines refer to them simply as “Hummels”. Each Hummel is painstakingly hand sculpted and then painted by hand to flawless detail. They make a fine gift and can be seen at AffordableQualityGifts.
Another of the older established fine collectible companies is Swarovski Crystal.
Swarovski Crystal has been making the absolute best precision cut crystal for over a hundred years. Swarovski Crystal, family owned company based in Austria is known worldwide for the innovation and sophistication they bring to the art form, as well as the highest standards of artistic expression.

One of the advantages of giving a gift like a Hummel or a piece of fine crystal is that it eliminates the possibility that someone else may give the same gift. There are so many different collectibles available, and in the case of the Hummel even those that are of the same theme will be slightly different because they are hand made.

Hummels and Swarovski Crystal make excellent gifts that will make the recipient feel like you really care.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Lawyers Favorite Lawyer Jokes

Lawyer Jokes Q: How does a pregnant woman know she is carrying a future lawyer? A: She has an extreme craving for baloney. Q: What is the legal definition of “Appeal”? A: Something a person slips on in a grocery store. Q: Why did God make snakes just before lawyers? A: To practice. Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 12? A: Your Honor. Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a herd of buffalo? A: The lawyer charges more. Q: What do you call a smiling, sober, courteous person at a bar association convention? A: The caterer. Q: Why are lawyers like nuclear weapons? A: If one side has one, the other side has to get one. Q: What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer? A: An offer you can't understand. Q: What do you call a lawyer gone bad? A: Senator Q: Did you hear they just released a new Barbie doll called "Divorced Barbie"? A: It comes with half of Ken's things and alimony. Q: What's the difference between an attorney and a pit bull? A: Jewelry. Q: What's the definition of mixed emotions? A: Watching your attorney drive over a cliff in your new Ferrari. Q: What’s the difference between lawyers and accountants? A: At least accountants know they’re boring. Stories: 1. A man who had been caught embezzling millions went to a lawyer. His lawyer told him, "Don’t worry. You’ll never go to jail with all that money? In fact, when the man was sent to prison, he didn’t have a dime. 2. As the lawyer awoke from surgery, he asked, "Why are all the blinds drawn?" The nurse answered, "There's a fire across the street, and we didn't want you to think you had died." 3. God decided to take the devil to court and settle their differences once and for all. Satan heard this, laughed and said, "And where do you think you're going to find a lawyer?" 4. A lawyer is sitting at the desk in his new office. He hears someone coming to the door. To impress his first potential client, he picks up the phone as the door opens and says, "I demand one million and not a penny less." As he hangs up, the man now standing in his office says, "I'm here to hook up your phone." And finally: You Might Be A Lawyer If.... You are charging someone to read these jokes.

A Classic Toy, By Accident

With the popularity of Internet shopping, classic toys that were hard to find, have now started to find a whole new audience. These classics, which sold very well after they were introduced, never seem to go out of style and can still bring a smile to any child’s face.

Let’s step into the past and take a look into the history of one of these classic toys.

In 1943, a Naval engineer accidentally knocked some springs off of a shelf while he was working on a meter designed to monitor horsepower on battleships. He marveled at the way they “walked” instead of falling and the odd movement of these springs gave Richard James an idea and an instant toy was born. That toy: The Slinky.

Richard James then spent the next two years testing and refining the best steel gauge and coil to utilize for his new toy. His wife, Betty appropriately found the perfect name for this new toy- a Slinky; which is the Swedish word meaning traespiral or sleek.

The couple borrowed five hundred dollars and James designed a machine to coil eighty feet of wire into a two-inch spiral and manufacture their new toy. Sales were slow at first, but soared after the Slinky was demonstrated at Gimbel’s Department Store in Philadelphia for the Christmas season in 1945. The first 400 sold within the ninety-minute demonstration and a new fad had begun.

Around 1960, Richard James suffered what some called a mid-life crisis and left his wife, their six children and joined a Bolivian religious cult. He also deserted the Slinky toy he worked so hard to produce and left the company in debt and ruin. Betty James took over as CEO of James Industries and introduced other toys for the “Slinky line-up” including: Slinky pets, crazy eyes Slinky (glasses with Slinky-extended fake eyeballs), neon Slinky, and also replaced the original black-blue Swedish steel with American steel. Additionally she moved the company headquarters from Philadelphia to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and began an aggressive advertising campaign, complete with the now famous Slinky jingle:

“What walks down stairs, alone in pairs, And makes a Slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing, Everyone knows it’s Slinky…
It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, for fun it’s a wonderful toy
It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun for a girl or a boy”

However, the Slinky is not just an entertaining toy for children. It is used in schools in physics classes to demonstrate wave properties, forces, and energy states. The Slinky still continues to sell (250 million have been sold to date) and are still manufactured in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania using the original equipment designed by Richard James.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beginners Guide To The Internet

Recent studies have shown that there are now well over one hundred websites available on the computernet. This puts it second only to ceefax as a useful source of information. Monkey Empire has rounded up the best of these sites, ones which enhance the life of real people like you, not the spotty bearded freaks that you picked on at school for being computerboys or nerdnspellgirls, no real people who go out and drink alcoholic sugar liquid in crowded town bars and watch soap operas and need to have their behaviour validated by weekly publications littering the news stands like so much used bog-roll. Well this is a virtual equivalent of those c-list simpering shitfests so let me validate your fucking behaviour, that's right I'll tell you where to go and what to fucking do because it will keep you the fuck away from me so that I can continue my work in peace. And when my work is done holy dong you'll know about it. I'll be the god damn mayor of London. Anyway here are the top 5: Google Founded in 1923 the Google Corporation originally produced radiator hoses and casino chips before entering the lucrative internet search market in 1997. Google is like a thesaurus, simply type in words and it will give you a list of related words from inside your computer and beyond. People who are good at Google (known as Hardcore Googlists) have even discovered that some of these words open up whole new websites, and sometimes even pictures. Google is now so widespread that none other than Leonard Nimoy was once overheard to say "you can find anything on google you really can, may the force be with you". eBay eBay shot to fame in 1999 when that chick that is really a witch in Buffy the Vampire Slayer managed to buy a special kettle that contained a genie that would save the world from the online auction site. Whilst you yourself may not be so lucky you will be able to get a bargain on the dvd of that very same episode, or maybe some new brasswork for your front door, or a ninja turtle action figure that you have never forgiven your parents for not buying for you when you were 12 years old. Adventurous types may even wish to try selling items that they no longer have use for. eBay is now so widespread that none other than Leonard Nimoy was once overheard to say "you can find anything on eBay you really can, may the force be with you". The BBCThe Beeb, good old Auntie, The British Broadcasting Corporation, no longer the stuffy 2 channel black and white tv monolith that doesn't start until midday and finishes with the national anthem at teatime oh no the Beeb has been forced to get with the times and after collecting your money and throwing it in a big pile for approximately 60 years when the internet bubble came bouncing along the BBC was ready. It is now estimated that 87% of all internet sites are part of the BBC, this is in addition to their 167 digital TV channels, 2 radio stations and their Sandwich Toaster fast food chain. You give them money so that a bunch of London-blinkered new media tosspots can tell you what to do and you wouldn't have it any other way. The BBC is now so widespread that none other than Leonard Nimoy was once overheard to say "the BBC puts food on my table, it really does, may the force be with you". MySpaceThe fact that you've made it this far down a Beginners Guide probably means you think that making a wonderful informative website such as this one is beyond your meagre skills. We don't hold that against you, you probably know more about footy or booking holidays in high street travel agents than us, takes all sorts doesn't it really. Well not any more, MySpace is the great leveller, the democratisation of the internet, now anyone can stick their photo online and surround it with flickering animated hearts floating across a purple background with yellow text talking about how you like to go out, watch telly and listen to music. Or maybe you are part of a subculture and you want your page to feature crunchy guitar music on a black background with pictures of you heavily made up to look like a vampire porn-star. Actually though MySpace is a game, you see other MySpace users can make virtual friends and then their picture appears under the "friends" list on your page. The game is to get your face on as many MySpace pages as possible, the one with the most displayed photos at the end of space and time wins and gets to become a baron of the afterlife. So don't get left behind, get on MySpace, get flirting and ego massaging and exchanging naked pictures with people who's age you can't be sure about or you might regret it for eternity and then some. MySpace is now so widespread that none other than Leonard Nimoy was once overheard to say "I've got 28 friends already I really have, may the force be with you".

A Brief History Of The Fairground Industry

Fairs in this country have a long and ancient history, deeply rooted in tradition.

The word fair is derived from the Latin ‘feria’, meaning a holiday and at one time the Romans were credited with the introduction of fairs.

It is now generally accepted that their origins are from pagan customs of the people who first settled this land; their seasonal gatherings held for the purposes of both trade and festivity, contained within them the essential elements of the fair.

The Romans did much to promote fairs by improving trade and communications throughout the country.

During the centuries following the departure of the Romans, many fairs and other festivals were incorporated into the calendar of the growing Christian Church.

Charters granted by the sovereign gave the fair legal status and an increasing importance in the economic life of the nation.

Merchants and traders from Europe, the Middle East and beyond were drawn to the great chartered fairs of the Middle Ages bringing with them a wealth of goods.

The sheer number of these fairs, no fewer than 4860 were chartered between the years 1200 and 1400, drew not only merchant but entertainers as well: jugglers, musicians and tumblers - the ancestors of today’s showmen.      

The Black Death of 1348-49 brought about a new kind of fair.

In order to stem the rise in wages caused by the shortage of workers, Edward III introduced the Statute of Labourers.

This compelled all able bodied men to present themselves annually for hire at a stated wage.

These gathering or hiring fairs were held mainly around Michealmas, the end of the agricultural year.

By the early eighteenth century the trading aspects of the charter fairs had waned and most fairs consisted almost entirely of amusements, acrobats, illusionists and theatrical companies all plied their trade on fairgrounds.

Around this time the first fairground rides began to appear, small crudely constructed out of wood and propelled by gangs of boys.

 In 1868, Frederick Savage, a successful agricultural engineer from Kings Lynn, devised a method of driving rides by steam.

His invention, a steam engine mounted in the centre of the ride was to transform the fairground industry.

Freed from the limitations of muscle power, rides could be made larger, more capacious and more heavily ornamented.

The showman’s demand for novelty was matched by the ingenuity of Savage and other engineers.

In the wake of the steam revolution an amazing variety of new designs and rides appeared.

These rides were the forerunners of today’s amazing thrill rides, over time innovations such as electric lighting, electric motors, hydraulics etc. allowed rides to evolve into the amazing devices that are seen today at any local fairground.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bush Vetoes Charcoal Grill Bill; Cites Carbon As Fundamental Component Of All Life

As expected, George Bush exercised his veto power and expunged the controversial Charcoal Grill Bill that the Senate and the House, growing wiser about the promise of science, bravely passed – without, however, enough votes to override his ill-considered flick of the pen. The bill would have allowed federal funding for barbeque research. It was the first veto of his presidency. Citing the role of carbon, not only in charcoal briquettes, but as the fundamental component of life, Mr. Bush stated, “You’ve got to respect carbon. Without it, none of us would be here.” He then pointed to himself, and said, “For instance, I wouldn’t be here. I owe my life to carbon.” Standing behind him were a number of effervescently grateful families who had been invited to participate in the photo op. Mr. Bush, smiling broadly, picked up one of the children, and stated, “Same goes for all these families and their wonderful children. Without carbon, they wouldn’t be here.” A reporter noted, "I believe that's correct, sir, since carbon is also found in oil, and I'm sure they drove or flew in." “Oh, s---,” Bush exclaimed. “Being the president is a lot harder than I thought. Don’t tell me! In oil, too?" "Yes, sir, and in coal." "Well, I’m not a chemist," the President admitted. "So I’ll have to look into that. If it’s true, I’ll have to come out against coal burning.” “What about oil burning?” the reporter pressed. “That’s another question I’ll have to ask the experts. We have a lot of those fellows back in the big derrick state. I’ll do whatever’s necessary. As you know, I have eight vetoes.” “Eight?” the reporter asked. “Yes, and so far I only exercised one,” the President said, and then volunteered, “I’ll show you.” With that, he kicked off his shoes and pulled off his socks. Then, with a remarkably simian-like move, he kicked up his feet and pointed at them. “See, I have five toes on each foot. That makes four spaces between them, or, if you count both feet, a total of eight spaces. Now, notice how the space between every two toes creates a V. Those are my vetoes. Count ‘em. Eight. So I’m ready to do my sacred duty to protect carbon and all its creations.”

A Brief Glimpse Into “Welcome To The NHK!”

The willingness to deal with even unpleasant aspects of one's culture in a humorous-yet-serious manner is something that has been ever-present in the media. Social issues, along with the occasional political issue, can suddenly be the focal discussion point of episodes of popular shows, with some more prominent ones becoming the focus of entire series. The Japanese hikikomori problem, along with the standard social anxiety and hints of schizophrenia that being a hikikomori entails, has become the premise of a fairly recent franchise consisting of an anime, comic, and novel series known simply as “Welcome to the NHK.”

The show focuses on the lives, trials, and tribulations of Sato Tatsuhiro, who is essentially a hikikomori. This means he exhibits extreme moments of social anxiety, going so far as to avoid his parents (whom he's living with) as much as he can. Besides being a social shut-in, he is also frequently seen to exhibit another Japanese sub-culture-turned-problem: that of being an obsessive anime otaku. For the unfamiliar, the Japanese see the otaku sub-culture as a potential social problem, mainly because most of these people have a slightly compromised grip on reality, preferring to focus their time, effort, and attention on various forms of entertainment. Usually, the obsessive nature targets a single media form, such as music or anime, and focuses exclusively on that. The sub-culture exhibits signs that are interpreted as social anxiety, though they sometimes appear to have somewhat normal social interactions on the rare occasions where large numbers of otaku gather.

Sato firmly believes that his status as both hikikomori and otaku, along with the social anxiety, poor people skills, and general paranoia, are all caused by a massive conspiracy. This conspiracy, known as the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai (the Japanese Hikikomori Association), is the source of the “NHK” in the title, rather than the real-life Japanese television network NHK. His belief in this theory has developed into an elaborate delusion, which includes NHK agents in the form of cute, attractive young girls being sent to prospective targets to allow the conspiracy to more directly influence their targets. It is notable that while Sato initially believes the female lead, Misaki Nakahara, to be one of these agents, he never actually takes the time to detail what the NHK hopes to achieve by turning the entire male population of Japan into socially-inept shut-ins.

Together with a variety of other characters, some of which seem to be representatives of other socially-challenged Japanese sub-cultures, Misaki and Sato come together in the most unusual ways. Part of the interaction between the two leads stems from Misaki's contract with Sato, which states that once every evening, she is to lecture him on how to overcome his social anxiety and become a normal, functioning member of society again. Of course, to provide entertainment value, not everything goes as planned, with Sato experiencing everything from panic attacks due to being outside his apartment, to having Misaki pretend to be his girlfriend to fool his visiting mother.

Aside from the aforementioned subcultures, the show also briefly touches upon other aspects of Japanese culture. This includes the thriving independent gaming circuit, the “Internet suicide pacts” problem, and other Japanese social idiosyncrasies. It should be noted that, despite the title of the show, the network NHK never actually aired “Welcome to the NHK.” Thus, unlike the novels, the show does not explicitly link the NHK conspiracy to the NHK television network.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bush Meets Maliki. May Trade Jobs.

President Bush made a secret trip to Iraq to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to assure him that the U. S. will continue to support efforts to stabilize and rebuild Iraq. Mr. Maliki thanked him and assured him that he would do everything to increase President Bush’s approval ratings. After further discussions, the two leaders agreed that the best way to accomplish both goals may be to exchange jobs. President Bush stated, “I’m very involved in the U. S. involvement in Iraq, but I understand not all Americans believe we can win here. Since I know we can win, I may decide that the best way to achieve the goal is to take Prime Minister al-Maliki’s job. If I go ahead with the switch, I expect to be addressed as Iraqi Prime Minster George Bush.” The Iraqi Prime Minister added, “And then you can address me as American President Nouri al-Maliki. I know this proposed job exchange will come as a big surprise to many Americans, but President Bush and I have discussed how this might be a way to give America a President with higher approval ratings. I know the language will be a bit of a handicap for both of us, but I’ve been listening to Mr. Bush, and I think my mistakes in English are not that much more bad than the ones he makes.” They went on to chide each other, with Mr. Bush saying, “If we do make the switch, I guess I’ll be addressing the Iraqi Parliament, and I suspect they’ll be a lot friendlier than Democrats.” Mr. Maliki responded, “Then I would board your helicopter to take me Baghdad International Airport, so I can fly to Washington and get started in my new job as President of the United States. “Do I have to become a Muslim?” Bush asked Miliki. “I’m not sure my constituency back in the US would approve.” “Maybe it will go better for me as the President if I become a Protestant,” Maliki replied. “But I’m not sure how that would go over with my constituency, either.” While many Americans were uncertain about the proposed switch, they were willing to adopt a wait and see attitude. As one American commented, “Look, if the former Iraqi Prime Minister does a good job as the President of the United States, I’m OK with that. In fact, I’ll vote to reelect him in 2008. I just need certain assurances, like seeing him say The Pledge of Allegiance.”

2006 Washington Nationals Preview

2005 Overview:

Contenders for much of 2005 before finishing .500, Frank Robinson’s Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos) were the talk of the National League East prior to the all star break. The D.C. community embraced the “Nats” as the team was happy to find a permanent home stadium after splitting much of their games in 2004 between two different stadiums in Montreal and Puerto Rico.  Despite holding onto first place in the National League East through the month of July, Washington fell quickly finishing their 2005 season with an 81-81 record and ended their year 9 games behind the first place Atlanta Braves.

The 2005 starting lineup was led by the newly acquired outfielder Jose Guillen (.283 24 76) and 1st baseman Nick Johnson (.289 15 74). Outfielder’s Brad Wilkerson (.248 11 57) and Preston Wilson (.26110 43) joined catcher Brian Schneider (.268 10 44) to provide the team with the rest of their offense.

Starting pitchers Livan Hernandez (15-10 3.98) and former NY Yankee Esteban Loaiza (12-10 3.77) joined John Patterson (9-7 3.13), Tony Armas (7-7 4.97) and closer Chad Cordero (2-4 1.82 47 saves in 74 games) to stabilize the 2005 pitching staff as the team greatly improved on their losing 67-96 2004 record.

Off Season Moves:

The “Nats” lost Esteban Loaiza to the Oakland Athletics and traded away Brad Wilkerson for Alfonso Soriano (.268 36 104) to help improve their offensive production which was the lowest in baseball in 2005. Washington also traded for San Diego's Brian Lawrence (7-15 4.83) and the signed free agent Ramon Ortiz (9-11 5.36) in order to help bolster their rotation. The Nationals will also have a newcomer at third since Vinny Castilla (.253 12 66) was traded to the Padres in the deal for Lawrence. Veteran Mike Stanton (3-3 4.64) was also added to help strengthen the bullpen as he was signed as a free agent late in the off season.

2006 Analysis:

The loss of Loaiza will hurt the team’s starting pitching. He provided the Nationals with 217 innings in 2005 and the Washington has yet to make any significant moves that will replace those innings. While Washington did acquire two additional starting pitchers there is little chance that either will prove as reliable as Loaiza did last season. Brian Lawrence had a terrible 2005, despite pitching in pitching friendly Petco Park, and Ramon Ortiz was released by Cincinnati Red who became frustrated with his ability to deliver any quality innings. Soriano should prove to be a great pickup, but he will not go quietly into the outfield with José Vidro (.275 7 32) or newly acquired free agent Marlon Anderson (.264 7 19) expected to start the season at 2nd base.

The Nationals’ bullpen was very good last season with Chad Cordero establishing himself as one of the game’s best young closers last year after compiling 47 saves. Stanton should also be a nice addition. The starting pitching is weak but Washington should be expected to score more runs in 2006.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dick Cheney Enrolls At Dale Carnegie; Updates Curriculum

Title: Dick Cheney Enrolls At Dale Carnegie; Updates Curriculum Word Count: 557 ice President Cheney, upon his return from a visit to former Soviet Bloc nations, during which he criticized Russian President Putin in unusually direct, if correct, terms, found himself suffering from shortness of breath. Hesitant about consulting a doctor immediately, he performed a self-diagnosis and realized that his condition was due primarily to putting his foot in his mouth with alarming frequency. Knowing the tenuous disposition of his cardiovascular system, he determined to remedy his verbal dereliction and signed up for a course at Dale Carnegie, where he expected to learn How To Win Friends And Influence People. At his first class, however, he found himself unable to listen calmly to his lecturer and began to dispute with him. Taken aback, the professor explained that his statements were not based on his own beliefs but consisted entirely of the time-honored teachings of Dale Carnegie. The Vice President was not assuaged, and announced, “You’re just not living in the real world. Let me show you how it really is.” With that, he ambled to the blackboard and began to revise the statements the teacher had written there. Fortunately, a member of our staff, who always accompanies the Vice President when he thinks a story may be in the making, had accompanied him. Here are selections from his notes on Mr. Cheney’s revisions of Carnegie’s teachings. For ease of comparison, we present the original Carnegie categories and principles, immediately followed by the Cheney update. 1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People Carnegie: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Cheney: Easy fix. Just erase the word “Don’t.” Carnegie: Give honest and sincere appreciation. Cheney: Another easy fix. Let’s add back the word “Don’t.” 2. Ways To Make People Like You Carnegie: Smile. Cheney: Honest people hardly ever smile; hypocrites do. Carnegie: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. Cheney: What other person? I’m the most important person in the room, even when I’m talking to the President. 3. Win People To Your Way Of Thinking Carnegie: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.” Cheney: Why? Since I’m the Vice President, the other person is always wrong. Carnegie: Begin in a friendly way. Cheney: Again, why – when you’re about to tell the person something that’s not friendly? Carnegie: Get the other person saying “yes, yes,” immediately. Cheney: Here we agree. Carnegie: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. Cheney: What for, if he’s wrong to begin with? Carnegie: Throw down a challenge. Cheney: Now we’re talking. 4. Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment Carnegie: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. Cheney: Mind if I just erase the first syllable of the last word? Carnegie: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person. Cheney: If I made mistakes, I wouldn’t be the Vice President. Carnegie: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. Cheney: OK, that’s why I’m here. Tell me how. Then maybe I can relax. The teacher, gasping from his own shortness of breath, uttered, “I have no idea.” “Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll excuse myself. As a Vice Presidential courtesy, I won’t charge for the updates."

70s TV Show CHiPs Trivia

The 70s TV show CHiPs was shot in the late 70s and early 80s which could be considered as a very controversial time in the world, this series was no exception to that. There were always so many back stories with the cast and the crew and conflicts and fights that most fans never even knew about, and if they did, it was not until well after the show was off the air. Although the 70s TV show CHiPs was only on the network for six seasons, there were many interesting and surprising things about it. The top five CHiPs TV show trivia facts are:

1. Rick Rosner, the creator of the show, worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Office as a reserve deputy before creating the show. One shift, he was out on a coffee break in the mid 70s and saw two young California Highway Patrol officers on motorcycles which is what gave him the idea for the show.

2. During the time period when original episodes of CHiPs were still being broadcast, to avoid any confusion, they referred to the syndication episodes as CHiPs Patrol. Fans of the show started to mock this concept immediately because of its redundancy; the show then literally meant California Highway Patrol Patrol. When the series was officially off the air, they went back to the original name for the episodes being played in syndication.

3. Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox only drew their firearms in CHiPs 99, but never in the original series.

4. Seven Mary Three is a rock band, but even more worthy of noting is their name. They chose their band name based on the radio call sign that the character Jon Baker used in the show.

5. If you were an avid fan then you most likely noticed that Jon Bakers service in Vietnam was occasionally referenced in the show. This made his character one of the earliest and most positive portrayals of a veteran from the Vietnam War. The real Larry Wilcox was actually in Vietnam for a period of 13 months serving as a Marine artilleryman.

The 70s TV show CHiPs is one of the most intriguing and interesting series behind the scenes and these are only a few glimpses into what really went on to make the show such a success. The fact that fans remain interested in the ins and outs of what made the show such a hit truly tells us how timeless it was and still is.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Freedom’s Walk. Narrower But Better Than Seeing It Blown Up

Today Americans, who hope to stand for freedom to an expectant world, enjoy it along a narrower walk than ever. In fact, sometimes it seems as if we have to scrunch our shoulders together to keep going and at times turn to the side to slip on by. Why have the guardrails encroached with such uncomfortable persistence? Primarily, but not exclusively, because of the new privileges the government has assumed in order to conduct the ever-looming war on terror. But there are a host of other incursions, such as electronic surveillance via such things as the information that goes into our credit reports and the overly numerous troopers raising money for municipalities by passing out tickets so frequently they make every driver a paranoid wreck. But just when you feel that you ought to get as feisty as the ACLU about even the slightest encroachment on our precious freedoms, you read about the FBI stopping the al-Qaeda plan to blow up the PATH tunnel between Manhattan and Hoboken and that the information that tipped the Feds off was gleaned from surveillance of email messages. Then, unless you like the idea of you and your fellow Americans getting blown to smithereens, you have to make peace with the encroachments as, contradictorily enough, necessary protections of freedom. After all, when people who believe in Freedom’s Walk get blown up, their part of the treasured path goes up in flames with them. And we do get nagging reminders that a world of misguided hustlers of hatred are doing their best to blow up as many of us as they can. So you finally have to sit back and say, hey, what if Freedom Road was wide open but the terrorists were swarming all over it with their deadly dumb bombing plans? The consideration gives you pause and, comfy with the accommodation or not, you have to vote for a narrower but safer way along Freedom’s Walk. And the closer you live and work in the highly targeted Manhatties, the more likely you are to stand tall for the inwardly mobile guardrails.

35 Weird Facts You Never Heard of

1. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

2. Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

3. There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

4. The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

5. A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

6. There are more chickens than people in the world.

7. Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

8. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

9. On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

10. All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.

11. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

12. "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

13. All 50 States are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

14. Almonds are a member of the peach family.

15. Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

16. Maine is the only State whose name is just one syllable.

17. There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

18. The characters "Bert" and "Ernie" on Sesame Street were named after "Bert the cop" and "Ernie the taxi driver" in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

19. A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

20. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

21. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

22. In most advertisements, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.

23. Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

24. Los Angeles' full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula."

25. A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

26. A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

27. A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

28. It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

29. The giant squid has the largest eyes in the world.

30. In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

31. The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

32. Mr. Rogers is an ordained minister.

33. The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

34. There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

35. "Stewardesses" is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Getty Museum Decides To Donate Its Building To Italy

The J. Paul Getty Trust has agreed to return "significant objects" to Italy from its collection of Etruscan and Roman art, including "several masterpieces." It appears that many objects in the museum were looted from Italy and made their way to the museum though illicit dealers. To facilitate a settlement with Italy over its claims to antiquities in the Getty Museum, the trust also agreed to donate its building to Italy. In exchange for the antiquities and the building, Italy will "provide loans of objects of comparable visual beauty and historical importance." If the trustees of The Getty give their nod of approval to the agreement, they will immediately begin searching for a place to display them. Italy has also been asking other American museums to return contested objects. The Metropolitan Museum in New York recently agreed to return objects, but managed to exclude its building from the fray. Italy is also negotiating with the Princeton University Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Maurizio Fiorilli, who is a lawyer for the Italian government, maintained that all the talks were going along with "great openness,." and went on to say, “We are especially pleased when the museum agrees to include its building. In this way, Italy is assured of a increasingly splendid architectural heritage.”

9 Ways to Gain Expert Recognition

No matter what business you are in it always helps to be seen as an expert. If you were calling someone to fix a drain or sell your house you would approach the person you saw as most credible and reputable in that area of expertise.

To become an expert takes hard work and experience. It can involve study or the honing of practical skills. It demands high standards of work. But after all this effort will you be perceived as an expert? If you feel you've earned the mantle of expert but are not recognized as one, here are eight ways to start establishing your reputation.

Publish a book or series of reports

The internet has made this much easier. You can now create an ebook that can be downloaded without having to involve a publisher. A well-written book or series of reports will establish your reputation as an expert in your field.

Publish a newsletter

Set one up on the internet and distribute it to your customers. This is an excellent way to regularly keep your name in front of your prospects as an authority on your subject.

Write press releases

Used correctly these can gain you a lot of positive publicity. Make sure the press release looks like newsworthy information and not like an advertisement.

Write Articles

By publishing information packed articles, you'll soon enjoy the status of being seen as an authority on your topic. This can lead to joint ventures and many other exciting opportunities that you would have never enjoyed otherwise!

Create a website

Set up a user-friendly website that will appeal to customers and you have expanded the reach of your reputation. Keep it timely and informative, and people will continue to return to your site. If you don't know how to set up a website there are plenty of web designers who do. Alternatively enquire at a college teaching web design. Some students might want to build a portfolio.

Join associations

If you are a member of an association it will enhance your credibility. But don't just be a member. Be an active member. This will build your reputation among your peers and lead to useful introductions. Membership can have many benefits, and it will certainly keep you up to date in your field.


You can boost your reputation and influence by speaking to the right people. Keep your name in front of your prospects. Organize mutually beneficial ventures. You cannot predict what may come from a contact so make as many as you can.

Public Speaking

Even speaking to a local group of people can establish you as an expert and get you referrals that may lead to a wider audience. If you are not sure you can speak in public, preparation and rehearsal are the keys to success. Make sure your presentation is aimed at the right level, follows a sensible sequence and will not sound like a dry textbook-like monologue. Write your main points on small cards so you are not relying solely on your memory and start in front of a small audience.

Teach workshops or seminars

If you have knowledge that people would like to tap into you can pass on your expertise. If your presentation is well planned you will be seen as an authority in your subject. You will also meet people who are likely to recommend you to others. If you are teaching a hot topic you will also be gaining a useful income stream.

Any of these methods will start building your reputation as an expert. Use them all correctly and you will gain the sort of reputation that will have potential clients approaching you without having to seek them out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Met Meets Greece's Request; Returns Ancient Toilet Seats

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, having recently agreed to return one of the finest vases in its collection from the Classical Age of Ancient Greece, has also consented to return the collected toilet seats from the ancient Cretan port city of Ephesus. The decision has come as a welcome relief to the Greek tourist board, whose embarrassed guides annually answer the same question that tourists ask approximately a thousand times a day. The innocent travelers behold the long cement benches with curious holes that grace an area of their walking tour. Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, stated, “I felt returning the priceless vase was the correct step for us to take. It was a pirated item, and I dress far too nattily to be imagined with a piratical patch over one eye. As far as the return of the toilet seats is concerned, we had kept them in storage, because space at the Met is limited, particularly in regard to items I personally prefer not to put on display. So, hearing about the plight of the tour guides, I decided that shipping these less-than-priceless thrones back to Greece is the thoughtful thing to do.” Tour guides cheered the decision. It remains to be determined if the Greek government will consent to put one on display at Ephesus or will, as the Met did, insist on keeping them private.

9 Tips For Getting Started Ballroom Dancing

Learning to dance is fun and it is easy. In a sense it is like learning a new language, a language in which moods and emotions are expressed in movement; a language of rhythm, grace and harmony. It is new, but in a very real sense it is the oldest language in the world, for dancing is the oldest form of art.

Dancing is a wholesome, natural outlet for the emotions. It develops grace and poise, timing and balance. Men take pride in their ability to lead their partners with assurance and poise. Ladies enjoy the ability to follow their partners smoothly, expertly and correctly. The ability to dance develops personality, and above all—it is fun.

Taking dance lessons is a great way to improve your confidence, it is a way to get fit and did I mention they’re fun?

And It’s Easier Than You Think…

1. Do you want to, learn to dance professionally, learn to dance for pleasure? It is important to know what you want to achieve before you start.

Perhaps you want to learn to get fit, for a social occasion or to meet new friends. Plus if you know what you want to get out of it this helps your instructor.

Lots of people start with social dancing. Social dancing classes are great places to learn ballroom dancing. A small percentage of social dancers later find that their love of dance compels them to become competitive dancers. Social dances normally start with a one-hour dance lesson and it is normally possible to find weekly group dance lessons especially for beginners.

2. If you want to find out what is involved in dancing before you commit to lessons, or there are no good teachers locally, consider a dance video. You can watch it at your leisure, plus watch it as many times as you like to aid learning. A good video will help you practice once you start lessons.

3. Dancing provides great social benefits but also participating in ballroom dancing on a regular basis will produce significant mental and physical health benefits. Dancing is a great stress reliever. It builds confidence, alertness and good attitude. It also has been proven to have a great physical benefit as it physically tones the whole body in enjoyable exercise.

Dancing can be a fun way to lose weight and get into shape. Just check out the potential for burning calories – Burn 309 calories with just one hour of Ballet, Tap or Freestyle, 290 calories with Country Line Dancing or Swing and 193 calories with the Waltz.

When choosing a dance studio you want to choose one that is conveniently located to your home or work place. If you can get there easier you will keep going and repetition is the key to quick learning. Not sure if you want to learn? Some nightclubs or studios hold introductory lessons. A number of websites have a dance studio locator, so that you can find studios local to you.

In addition these sites have lots of free instructional material. Check out a few different dance studios. Most dance studios will offer group and private lessons. Look for studios offering a mixture of the two. How many teachers do they have? Do they have an introductory offer?

You may also find ballroom dance classes at local colleges and many city or county recreational departments include ballroom dance classes. Some organizations such as the YWCA, Community Centers, Elks or Moose Lodges offer dance lessons to their members and guests.

4. Find out about the different dance styles before you start lessons and see which ones you want to learn. Plus you’ll be more knowledgeable about the style and rhythm of the different dances before you start classes.

Don’t forget to get my free book that covers the basics of ballroom dancing, details at the end of these tips.

5. Do you need a partner to start ballroom dancing? No. Lots of classes accept singles. If you already have a partner then you can have fun learning together.

6. Should you have private lessons or group classes? This depends on your preference and your budget. As a beginner you may prefer the privacy of individual tuition and certainly you will learn quicker, they can also be useful if you have missed some group classes and do not want to get left behind or you feel that you need extra tuition. However when starting out consider the social aspect of group learning which most people find stimulating, challenging and lots of fun. Group classes are also less expensive.

7. There are no special clothes for social dancing, except that they need to be comfortable and give you freedom to move. However for learning professional ballroom dancing you may find that exercise clothing is more appropriate, ask your instructor if you are unsure. When choosing shoes think about not only appearance but also comfort, support and protection.

8. Selecting your instructor is an important decision and you want to ensure that your instructor has professional qualifications. Obtain a copy of their resume for professional examinations and their experience in teaching beginners. The United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association will be able to advise you further.

9. Finally, just in case you didn’t get the message before – have fun! Learning a new skill can and should be fun, that way you’ll stick at it and before you know where you are you have mastered it!

Copyright © Lynsey Leigh.

This article is copyrighted. Please feel free to use it in it's entirety including copyright information and information about the publisher.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clever Mayor Roy Nagen: Has Runoff Election With White Guy Who Looks Just Like Roy Himself

We wouldn’t even hazard a guess at the odds against such a outcome, but the runoff election in New Orleans looks about as bizarre as anything you’re likely to see even in the Mardi Gras. Roy Nagen, the Mr. Malaprop of mayoral politics, who alienated white voters when he voiced the proud hope of making the city, in the wake of Katrina, “chocolate again,” has gotten himself caught up in a runoff election with a white guy, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, who, at least to us, looks just like a paler version of Roy himself. Answer the following true or false questions: Do both gentlemen shave their heads? Do both have similarly round faces? Do both of their ears curve the same way? Are their noses amazingly similar? So what’s going on here? Is clever Roy actually both candidates? Could he have asked Michael Jackson for advice on how he might transform himself into a whiter shade of Roy? As the saying goes, if it walks like a bird from the bayou and it talks like a bird from the bayou, it must be a bird from the bayou. All we can say is, may the best man win, especially if the two candidates are different men.

7 Ways To Ensure Your Artwork Is Print Ready

The following article provides a quick guide on what to think about when preparing your artwork for printing.

It is important you follow these guidlines as any errors made are likely to cause a delay or cause unncessary stress should the final print quality be sub-standard.

1. Check your files
Check your artwork for spelling mistakes, grammar and ensure all images used are high resolution. Double check to make sure as any errors found will delay the turnaround of your product.

2. Bleed
Bleed is the extra bit of the design page which you design on, as normal, with the knowledge that it will be trimmed off the finished flyer. Any images on your artwork should bleed off the page, and essential text should be away from the trim edge by a good few mm's. We use a 2mm bleed area on each edge.

3. Text
Keep essential text away from the edge of the flyer, by about 8-10mm for best results.

4. Print Resolution
Ensure your artworks resolution is at least 300dpi. The higher the resolution the better.

5. File Formats
If you are using un-common fonts, ensure you supply your artwork as a flattened jpeg or tiff. This will ensure there will be no font problems when your artwork is checked. The most commonly accepted program formats are Quark, Illustrator, Photoshop, Corel Draw, Corel Paint, Freehand, InDesign and Paint Shop Pro. Vector files such as .eps and pdf's are becoming more common and ensure a better end product.

6. Colours
Unless you have a calibrated monitor your artwork is likely to have slightly different colours when printed. Ensure your colour choices are correct before sending to print.

7. A Final Check
Before sending to your printer, have one more final check that everything is as expected.

There are two things you should consider when designing your flyers:

Due to the quick turn around of our flyers, they are trimmed down not long after they are printed, in most circumstances we try to give a printed sheet 8 hours to dry completely, this isn't always the case. This is noticeable when one side of the flyer is left white, and the other side bleeds rich colour to the trim edge. This will cause slight powdering of the rich ink over, on to the white side. In this circumstance we recommend the use of borders.

Borders on the edge of a flyer, can sometimes give the flyer a classic look. But make sure the borders are a good few mm in from the trim edge, because of the way we print flyers (up to 32 at a time) and the speed at which we turn them round (from payment, to your door) these borders may not be an accurate trim to the exact 10th of a mm. This is why we ask for a 2mm bleed. The cutting blade could go either way. We cannot be held responsible for imperfect results if these borders are slightly uneven.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Internet, Which Began As Tech Wizardry, Ends Up As Ad Wizardry

The Internet, which began as the inspiration and implementation of technical wizards, has apparently ended up as the playground of advertising wizards. Witness the incessant publicity about such Internet prodigies as Google Adwords. And wherever can you click that an ad doesn’t flash at you, featuring one beast or another, from a barrel of monkeys to a cobra, or glitteraty type –- all in an energetic effort to call your attention to everything from low mortgage rates to cures for erectile dysfunction. Our own unassuming site is hardly innocent of colorful calculations intended to cajole you into opening your wallet for one irresistible offer or another. But then that’s the way it is with most things. The begin in brilliance and end up as a business, even when it comes to hocking the volumes that embody the greatest intellectual achievement of the human race. The descent into pecuniary hustings grows out of the inevitable need for anybody who makes or just prints anything to tell us about it so we might consider purchasing it. The practice goes back a long way. For instance, remember the village smithy? Even he thought to hang out a sign that said something like, “Horseshoes Made, Saddles Mended.” The most we frazzled recipients of all the advertising hootenanny can do is hope for occasions when the attempt to extract our funds is done with taste and, when inspiration allows, imagination that invites us to attend.

7 Steps to Connect with your Angels

The room you are in is filled with Angels!

The next room you go to will be filled with Angels and Angels will be at your side with every step you take today. The Angels are with us and are eager to help us.

How do I know that? That's my specialty - I am an author, workshop leader and Ordained Minister whose specialty is Angels. For the past 10 years I have been helping people in private sessions and in workshops to connect more deeply with their Angels for help and assistance.

Angels are truly universal. The Pew Foundation reported that 72% of Americans believe in Angels. This is a much higher percentage than Americans who believe in any world religion, because Angels are fundamental to most of the world's major religions. We find them in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Mormonism and many other spiritual traditions.

St. Augustine, an authority on Angels, said, "Make friends with Angels." He recommended that we make personal relationships with Angels and that we let our relationships with them deepen - much as we would with any important, intimate relationship.

Asking an Angel for help is one of our most powerful spiritual practices. We can ask the Angels for immediate help at any time and in any place. Here are some techniques that will help you:

1) Ask for help - Angels offer us help 24/7. The more receptive we are, the more help they can give us. If you diminish your receptivity you limit the Angels ability to help you. Create your own invocations, or prayers, that specifically call for the help you need. Realize that when you call upon an Angel, what really happens is that you open yourself into greater receptivity to their assistance. (See the Angel Messages at for examples of invocations.)

When asking for help, it's important to realize yourself as fully worthy of Angelic assistance. Angels work with everyone regardless of personal histories and beliefs. Angels are infinite and omnipresent - your request does not diminish them in anyway nor does it affect their ability to help the rest of us at the same time. They exist beyond our experience of time and space and respond to everyone with complete unconditional love.

2) Connect with your inner divine child as you call upon the Angels and ask for help. Your inner divine child is whole, innocent and true and recognizes Angels as trustworthy gifts of Creator. This will help create openness, receptivity, excitement, eagerness and wonder as you prepare to receive the gift your Angels have prepared for you.

3) Hand everything over to the Angels when you ask for their help: every issue, problem, worry and fear as well as every good intention and positive outcome you imagine as the result of your request. Release all expectations of how your request will be answered.

4) Express Appreciation and Gratitude - Find and express genuine appreciation and gratitude for things exactly as they are. If you are struggling with this, ask the Angels to help you to find the love that is present in whatever difficulty you are facing. Have patience with this and let go of any expectation of how this love may be revealed to you.

5) Know that it is done - Every request is answered and help is always given. If you fear that your request will not be answered, then also ask for help in understanding. Trust that you will see the love in every answered prayer. You are known completely and loved unconditionally by the Angels and nothing that will serve you is ever withheld from you.

6) Act quickly on the guidance you receive. Accept the opportunity and act upon it immediately. Angelic help is infinite and unlimited - you can not use it up or run out of it. You cannot ask for "too much" and the Angels are joyously happy to give to you without limit. The faster you act, the faster you receive more assistance!

7) Celebrate yourself exactly as you are in the moment. Leave any critical judgments or negative feelings about yourself, your life, or others in the hands of the Angels for healing. Even if it is just for a few moments, let go of everything that is not of love for yourself and everything around you. In this moment of surrender much more can done for you by the Angels than you can accomplish on your own. Thank yourself and the Angels for deepening the relationship between you.