Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for the ‘Popular Culture’ Category

Robin Williams, July 21, 1951 – Aug 11, 2014, Apparant Suicide

Posted by Anonymous on August 13, 2014

File:Robin Williams 2011a (2).jpg

Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor, stand-up comedian, film producer, and screenwriter.

Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978–82), Williams went on to establish a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. His film career included such acclaimed films as The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), as well as financial successes such as Popeye (1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). He also appeared in the video “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Williams received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting. He also received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards.[4][5]

On August 11, 2014, Williams was found unresponsive at his residence in Marin County, California and was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the cause of death was asphyxiation by hanging.


Robin Williams — who first made America laugh and eventually touched “every element of the human spirit” in a remarkable range of performances — died at his Northern California home Monday.

Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.


Williams (63), was found dead by his personal assistant at midday yesterday when he failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door, Marin County’s assistant chief deputy coroner Keith Boyd told a news conference. Williams had been seeking treatment for depression, Mr Boyd said.


Very sad. He was an amazing guy. Rest in peace, Robin. Don’t start drinking, kids. Just never start.

Robin Williams, 62, is in a rehab facility in Minnesota following a lifelong struggle with addiction, TMZ is reporting. However, the good news is that he is not staying because he has fallen off the wagon. …

In 2006, Robin entered a rehab facility in Newberg, Oregon, due to a problem with alcohol. At the time, his publicist stated that “After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family.”


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Hoax? ‘Whistleblower’ Leaks ‘Michael Jackson’s Final Phone Call’

Posted by Anonymous on September 18, 2013

In what appears to be the Internet’s latest and greatest hoax, a whistleblower who claims he worked for the Department of Defense purports to have leaked Michael Jackson’s final phone call before his death, during which the pop star voices his fear of a government conspiracy to murder him.

Robert Connors, about which no information can be found online, claims he worked with the DoD for 20 years after serving in “active duty campaigns” in Iran and Vietnam.

The whistleblower goes on to claim he was involved in Operation Sedgwick, an offshoot of MK-Ultra, which revolved around “the control of the African-American population and the urban youth through music.”

During Michael Jackson’s alleged final phone call before his death, the pop star warns of a plot by powerful forces to murder him via a staged drugs overdose.

“It’s not the government, it’s more than the government,” the voice on the clip states, during an alleged conversation with Jackson’s former manager Dieter Wiesner.

Connors threatens to release more audio and video tapes concerning “Operation Sedgwick” unless authorities come clean about the program by September 23rd.

The whistleblower’s body language in the clip does not lend itself to authenticity, and although the voice on the audio recording does sound like Michael Jackson, the scene feels scripted and acted out.

Like all good Internet hoaxes, the story plays into viral conspiracies about the gang shooting of hip-hip icon Tupac Shakur and the use of rap music as a form of mind control.

via » Hoax? ‘Whistleblower’ Leaks ‘Michael Jackson’s Final Phone Call’ Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

Posted in - Video, Popular Culture, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Elton John: “I’m lucky to be alive after operation”

Posted by Anonymous on September 9, 2013

Elton John has said he is “lucky to be alive” after an operation that stopped appendicitis from killing him.

The singer said his appendicitis, which was initially misdiagnosed, stopped him from performing at several concerts last summer.

He told The Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine: “I’m lucky I’m still alive. I started feeling ill 14 days before I went into hospital.”

The “Rocket Man” singer initially thought the pain he was experiencing was just food poisoning because it came on so quickly.

“It felt like a crippling stomach pain and at first I thought it was food poisoning, but it didn’t go away. I called a doctor out but he thought – and I thought – it was just a virus. But I had a performance that night and I went on stage feeling as if I had been hit by a truck.”

But the pain increased and left him unable to move. He was forced to cancel several performances last summer including a headline concert at Hyde Park.

Once doctors had correctly diagnosed appendicitis he was rushed to hospital for treatment.

An intense work schedule meant his constant traveling and performing was making the problem worse:

“Every time I stepped on a plane I was basically turning myself into a ticking time-bomb. Air pressure is one of the worst environments for causing the abscess and the appendix to burst.”…


Posted in Health, Popular Culture | Leave a Comment »

Linda Ronstadt: Parkinson’s disease has left me unable to sing

Posted by Anonymous on August 24, 2013

20130824-080043.jpgLinda Ronstadt, the one-time “First Lady of Rock”, is no longer able to sing due to Parkinson’s disease.
The 67-year-old, who sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and is widely regarded as the most successful female rock singer of the 1970s, said she was diagnosed eight months ago and “can’t sing a note”.

“No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease. No matter how hard you try,” she said.

Linda Ronstadt, c1980

In an interview with AARP Magazine, the rock and country singer said she began to show symptoms eight years ago, but initially dismissed it as something to do with an unspecified tick-borne illness she has. When her hands then began to tremble, she said she thought the shaking was due to a recent shoulder operation.

“I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t figure out why,” she told the magazine. “I knew it was mechanical. I knew it had to do with the muscles, but I thought it might have also had something to do with the tick disease that I had. And it didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist.”

When she was finally diagnosed, she said she was “completely shocked”.

“I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years,” she added.

She now uses poles to walk on uneven ground a wheelchair when travelling, according to the magazine.

During her career, Ronstadt, who was born in Arizona, won 11 Grammy Awards as well as two Country Music Awards and an Emmy. She was also nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the 1981 musical The Pirates of Penzance. …


Sad, but preventable. My Italian grandmother could sing into her 90’s. To avoid Parkinson’s disease and many others: trust yourself and not government regulatory agencies that have time and time again failed us by protecting corporate profits over human lives.

Here’s Linda Ronstadt singing a Pepsi commercial: “Pepsi Pours It On”


Did she drink it as well as sing about it? Linda was once super hot. Did Linda Ronstadt use products with artificial sweeteners believing they were safe and that they would help her keep her weight down?

Remember when Michael J Fox was doing (Diet) Pepsi commercials?

Throughout the 1980’s, Michael did commercials for Pepsico, and he promoted Diet Pepsi cola exclusively in the latter years of his contract. It is believed that he became an ardent consumer of Diet Pepsi throughout this period (even off-set).

The mainstream medical establishment apparently does not know the cause of Parkinson’s disease, but it has been linked with heavy metal exposure and excitotoxins. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain are responsible for the excitotoxicity associated with Parkinson’s disease. Aspartate is one of the main components that is released when aspartame is metabolized, and it directly effects the NMDA receptors. Regular intake of aspartame damages those receptors, and can eventually lead to Parkinson’s disease.

It is known that Parkinson’s disease occurs whenever the dopamine-related nerve cells inside the brain are decimated. With dramatically decreased dopamine, the nerve cells in the effected part of the brain cannot properly transmit messages. In studies, aspartame has been shown to decrease dopamine levels in the brain to induce the unmistakable neurological decline that is seen in Parkinson’s patients. A troubling study in Norway verified aspartame as an excitotoxin and as a neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous to children. Yet none of this is ever mentioned by either the Michael J. Fox Foundation, nor any mainstream media outlets, for which the topic of aspartame is avoided.

Watch Sweet Misery

Posted in Food, Health, Music, Politics, Popular Culture, Survival | 2 Comments »

Ben Affleck to play Batman in next Superman movie

Posted by Anonymous on August 23, 2013

Rumors about who will star as the Caped Crusader in the yet-to-be-named film have been swirling ever since “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder announced at Comic-Con last monththat the two superheroes would appear together in the sequel – their first pairing on the big screen.Affleck’s name wasn’t even on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of possible Batmans two weeks ago, when it speculated Ryan Gosling or Josh Brolin were likely candidates.

Warner Bros. is planning for a July 17, 2015, worldwide release.

Affleck will star opposite British actor Henry Cavill, who Warner Bros. said will reprise his role as Clark Kent and Superman.

Snyder’s reimagining of Superman in “Man of Steel” broke the record for the biggest June opening when it appeared in theaters this year, taking in $125.1 million in its first weekend.

“It’s beyond mythological to have Superman and our new Batman facing off, since they are the greatest superheroes in the world,” Snyder said at Comic-Con.

Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane also return for the new film, Warner Bros. said.

Christian Bale, who starred as Batman in three film installments of “The Dark Knight,” told CNN partner Entertainment Weekly last month that he wouldn’t be starring in a fourth. “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan also said he wasn’t opting for a fourth movie in the franchise, the magazine said.


There has been some backlash from fans, but what are they going to do, uncast him? Graeme McMillan writes in wired:

… For proof of the knee-jerk complaint impulse, it’s worth revisiting the internet’s reaction to the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker, an actor who is now considered by many to be the single best personification of the villain in the character’s 75+ year history. “There are over a million better choices, they could have picked someone off the street and made a better choice,” complained one fan. “Heath Ledger is not Joker material, simply put he does not have the mentality of it,” griped another one.

Based on the similarity between those comments and the responses by yesterday’s news, who’s to say Ben Affleck won’t surprise us and deliver if not the greatest Batman performance in history, then at least a very good one? Maybe — and I know this is a crazy thought, and I apologize in advance — we could just wait until we actually see him in the role before we start declaring it the worst idea in the world this time?



Posted in Art, Popular Culture | Leave a Comment »

Steel yourselves, movie fanboys, for Superman/Batman

Posted by Anonymous on July 21, 2013

Perhaps the ultimate superhero buddy movie will be coming to theaters in the next few years, as Warner Brothers announces plans for a Superman/Batman flick.

Image: The new Superman/Batman logo unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con.

… Nothing quite says “tease” like reading from a mega-popular, fan-favorite comic book at the end of a movie panel.

But that’s just what Henry Lennix, who played General Swanwick in this summer’s Man of Steel blockbuster, did at the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H on Saturday afternoon. When he joined the film’s star Henry Cavill on stage at the end of the Man of Steel panel, director Zack Snyder asked him to read something.

Snyder told the audience, “We’re not adapting this thing, but it will help us tell you something.”

“I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat,” Lennix read from Frank Miller’s seminal “The Dark Knight Returns,” which culminated in an older Batman going toe-to-toe with a Superman who has become a lackey of the U.S. government.

“I want you to remember the one man who beat you,” Lennix read from the book, published in 1986. A combined Superman-Batman logo appeared on the auditorium’s screen, and then the lights came up.

The comic is notable for having changed the decades-long, friendlier dynamic between the two heroes, as it positioned them on opposite ends of the political and social spectrum.

A press release followed, announcing that Zack Snyder will direct the as-yet unnamed film. It will combine the Man of Steel’s actors with an unknown Batman cast. Snyder and David S. Goyer will write the film’s script, with Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas serving as executive producers. The film is expected to begin shooting next summer, with a summer 2015 release date.

Reports from Comic-Con that the studio also will announce Flash and Justice League movies remain unconfirmed from Warners.


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Bidder buys $1.5 million space date with Leonardo DiCaprio

Posted by Anonymous on May 25, 2013

20130524-195443.jpgHow much would you pay to get locked in a spaceship with DiCaprio? At an auction to benefit AIDS research, a man buys three days of training and a trip to suborbital space with the “Gatsby” star.

Spacebound: Leonardo DiCaprio acknowledges the audience at the opening of the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

If you thought $200,000 was a lot to pay for a Virgin Galactic flight to the edge of space, try $1.5 million. Do note, however, that the steep ticket price includes Leo DiCaprio as your travel buddy.

A bidder at a Cannes charity auction agreed to fork out that much for a seat in space beside the star who played flight-mad Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.” The money will benefit amfARa Cinema Against AIDS, hosted by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

The winning bid was made by 37-year-old Vasily Klyukin, a Russian living in Monaco, according to Reuters.

“I want to be a bit daring,” Klyukin was quoted as saying. “I will have to give up smoking now for sure!”

DiCaprio and Klyukin are expected to board a Virgin Galactic flight along with a bidder who bought two other tickets on the voyage for $2.3 million.

“The Great Gatsby” star would spend three days with Klyukin while training for the trip, host Sharon Stone told the audience.

In a successful test last month, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space plane fired its rocket engine and hit Mach 1.2.

Founder Sir Richard Branson said the vehicle’s key components had been proven, adding he expects “full space flight” by the end of 2013.

The auction at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in France’s Cap d’Antibes raised some $25 million for AIDS research and also auctioned off a private performance by Duran Duran, as well as a family portrait sitting with photographer Annie Leibovitz. …

Wild. Perhaps Vasily Klyuki will learn from DiCaprio the ways of an A-list actor just as Gatsby, in the story, became super rich by spending time with a super rich guy on a yatch. Is Klyuki an aspiring actor besides being a real estate agent?

Vasily Klyukin, 37, a Russian real estate agent living in Monaco, entered the winning bid of 1.2 million euros ($1.55 million) to accompany DiCaprio on a Virgin Galactic flight into space. Klyukin will spend three days training with DiCaprio in New Mexico prior to the launch.


Posted in Popular Culture, Space, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Practice makes perfect? Not so much

Posted by Anonymous on May 21, 2013

Jason Mraz, world famous performer with “perfect pitch”.  

Turns out, that old “practice makes perfect” adage may be overblown.

New research led by Michigan State University’s Zach Hambrick finds that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people differ in level of skill in two widely studied activities, chess and music.

In other words, it takes more than hard work to become an expert. Hambrick, writing in the research journal Intelligence, said natural talent and other factors likely play a role in mastering a complicated activity.

“Practice is indeed important to reach an elite level of performance, but this paper makes an overwhelming case that it isn’t enough,” said Hambrick, associate professor of psychology.

The debate over why and how people become experts has existed for more than a century. Many theorists argue that thousands of hours of focused, deliberate practice is sufficient to achieve elite status.

Hambrick disagrees.

“The evidence is quite clear,” he writes, “that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice.”

Hambrick and colleagues analyzed 14 studies of chess players and musicians, looking specifically at how practice was related to differences in performance. Practice, they found, accounted for only about one-third of the differences in skill in both music and chess.

So what made up the rest of the difference?

Based on existing research, Hambrick said it could be explained by factors such as intelligence or innate ability, and the age at which people start the particular activity. A previous study of Hambrick’s suggested that working memory capacity – which is closely related to general intelligence – may sometimes be the deciding factor between being good and great.

While the conclusion that practice may not make perfect runs counter to the popular view that just about anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough, Hambrick said there is a “silver lining” to the research.

“If people are given an accurate assessment of their abilities and the likelihood of achieving certain goals given those abilities,” he said, “they may gravitate toward domains in which they have a realistic chance of becoming an expert through deliberate practice.”

via Practice makes perfect? Not so much.

Damn. No wonder my vocals are improving at a snail’s pace. Just this past weekend I recorded the same short phrase for two straight hours over and over in my home studio trying to get it to sound right. I got better, but I couldn’t pull it all together, the feel, the timing, the pitch…. Then I got mad at myself and erased every take in disgust. I highly doubt Jason Mraz or Michael Buble worked as hard just to not hate recordings of their voices. Natural talent, eh? I may just have to accept that. But I’m a fighter! I’ve gotten so much better at being able to sing a middle C out of the blue with just pure hard work, and I couldn’t do that when I started. So, I may just have to keep struggling until I get my voice to where I enjoy hearing it as much as Jason’s. I know people who took years of voice lessons before finding what worked for them, so that’s another reason to keep chipping away at it.

Posted in Biology, Music, Popular Culture | 4 Comments »

Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett dies at 53

Posted by Anonymous on April 22, 2013

Australian rocker Chrissy Amphlett, the Divinyls lead singer whose group scored an international hit with the sexually charged “I Touch Myself” in the early 1990s, died Sunday after a battle with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, her husband said.

She was 53.

“Chrissy’s light burns so very brightly,” her husband, former Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton, said in a statement. “Hers was a life of passion and creativity; she always lived it to the fullest. With her force of character and vocal strength, she paved the way for strong, sexy, outspoken women.”

In 1991, the Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” reached No. 1 in Australia and No. 4 on the United States’ Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The group, which formed in Australia in the early 1980s, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association’s hall of fame in 2006.

Amphlett, who lived in New York with her husband, announced in 2010 that she had breast cancer, several years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She said in an interview that her family made the diagnoses easier.

“It’s unfair, but life is not fair — even rock stars get breast cancer,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “But there have been many girls before me who have dealt with it successfully. It’s easy to feel sorry for me but I feel sorry for people who are suffering it alone.”

via Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett dies at 53 – CNN.com.

Posted in Music, Popular Culture | Leave a Comment »

Confusing Twitter hashtag leave Cher fans in mourning

Posted by Anonymous on April 8, 2013

20130408-135828.jpg… Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed away today.She was admired and derided in almost equal measure. Some adored how she assaulted entrenched British institutions with her handbag. Others thought she was a petty and divisive shopkeeper’s daughter.

One Web site that espoused the latter view is called Is Thatcher Dead Yet? It rather looked forward to her passing to the Safeway in the sky.

So when her death was announced, it immediately created the hashtag #nowthatchersdead.

This gained some traction in Twitterworld. Sadly, though, some fans of the underrated actress and all-around shiny being read the hashtag a little too quickly.

Yes, they believed that Cher was dead.

Grief glittered the Twitterscape.

“RIP Cher, you were an amazing singer. Do you believe in life after love was one of the all time greats. #nowthatchersdead,” tweeped Ryan Coburn.

Someone with the apposite handle @sexyghosts offered: “RIP CHER. Just saw the hashtag. Never was a fan myself but you’ve gotta respect her influence.”

The hashtag #nowthatchersdead creates tears and wailing for the wrong female icon. It is former British Prime Minister Margaret

Read more

Posted in Politics, Popular Culture | Leave a Comment »


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