December 12, 2008

The Office - Moroccan Christmas

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Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Just when we thought that Angela may have regained the upper hand in the mostly silent feud with Phyllis, Phyllis turned around and did what I don’t think any of us thought she was actually going to do. Meanwhile, we got a random side-plot involving Meredith’s drinking that wasn’t nearly as funny as the rest of the episode.


Is alcoholism funny? Eh, even for someone like me who isn’t easily offended by things, I just couldn’t get into the whole ridiculous intervention business in tonight’s ep. To make a long story short, Michael serves Meredith a bunch of drinks, the ingredients of which include absinthe. I didn’t even know you could buy that stuff in the U.S.. Meredith gets hammered and sets her hair on fire during a fit of dancing. Dwight saves the day by extinguishing the fire and Michael uses the almost-catastrophe as an opportunity to point out that Meredith has a drinking problem. This is something any loyal Office fan should know already and it wasn’t news to the staff at Dunder-Mifflin Scranton either.

Michael stages an intervention during the party and no one else appears to be interested in joining in on the non-holiday-themed portion of what had been a pretty fun party prior to the fire. Michael gets frustrated at the rest of the staff’s lack of enthusiasm towards the intervention and he proceeds to try to admit Meredith into a rehab center. She leaves and it’s only then that Michael learns that you can’t force someone to go to rehab. Michael’s still an idiot. Meredith’s still an alcoholic.

Everything else about the episode was glorious. From the laugh-out-loud cold open in which Jim tricked Dwight (and us) into thinking he’d wrapped up Dwight’s desk, chair and everything on the desk with Christmas wrapping paper only for Dwight (and us) to realize he’d actually switched out the entire set up with a cardboard version of Dwight’s things. Dwight tried to sit down in the wrapped chair and fell to the ground, the desk crumbling under the weight of his briefcase. Glorious. This was even better than the time Jim popped Dwight’s yoga ball with a pair of scissors.

Speaking of Dwight, he figures out a way to profit off Christmas by buying out all of the local stores of the “Princess Unicorn” doll. It’s a ridiculous looking doll that looks like a Barbie except it has a unicorn horn on its head. Dwight speculates that a King would have to have sex with a unicorn in order for such a creature to be spawned.

While we’re all laughing at Dwight’s seemingly obvious idiocy for purchasing a doll that no kid in their right mind should want, parents all over Scranton are scrambling to get their hands on them and they’re showing up one at a time at the office to trade $200 cash for one of the dolls. Point to Dwight.

In the end, Toby finds out that his adorable daughter wants a Princess Unicorn doll. He’s giddy at the thought of how much it’ll piss his ex-wife off when he shows up on Christmas to give his little girl the toy she’s been begging to have. He approaches Dwight to get one just as Darryl’s walking away with the last doll. Toby begs Darryl to let him buy the doll and Darryl agrees to sell it to him for $400. It’s a mark of just how desperate Toby is to out-do his ex that he agrees, hugging Darryl afterwards. And after he looks at the doll and sees that it’s the black version of Princess Unicorn, he doesn’t have it in him to complain.

Meanwhile, Phyllis has arranged a Moroccan themed Christmas party, much to Angela’s chagrin. As Phyllis has been blackmailing Angela (though she doesn’t think its technically blackmailing since she hasn’t written a formal letter) over knowing about Angela’s affair with Dwight, she takes advantage of Angela by bossing her around during the whole party. It’s hard enough for Angela to stomach the Moroccan style decorations and music, but she also has to put up with Phyllis shoving most of her nativity scene into a drawer in addition to preparing hummus for the staff.

Finally, Angela’s had enough and tells Phyllis off, calling her out by saying they both know Phyllis has no intention of telling anyone about the affair. At this point we think Phyllis has given in. For just a moment, she reverts back to the passive version of herself but power has gone to Phyllis’ head and she’s not ready to let it go. She turns around and announces to everyone in the office (Michael and Meredith weren’t there and Andy was in the other room) that Dwight and Angela are sleeping together. The announcement manages to suck whatever life there was left in the party. Angela looks mortified and ashamed. Andy makes it worse by coming into the room and serenading Angela with a rendition of Deck the Halls (complete with Rih-dit-dit-tadoos) on this big Moroccan guitar thing (I’m sure it has a name but google was no help to me here.)

Everyone is quiet as Andy finishes the song and Angela looks like she’s on the verge of tears. She says she wants to go home and a typically clueless Andy comments on people’s lack of manners in not applauding him before the two leave. Awkward.

So now almost everyone knows about Dwight and Angela. Dwight is pretty pleased with this. It seems like it would be impossible for the office to keep this a secret from Andy but something tells me he’s still not going to find out about it until after the wedding falls apart.

A couple of other hilarious moments included Meredith’s drunken belly-dancing and Angela spitting out a mouthful of food after learning that the dish is traditionally eaten during Ramadan.

NBC is selling Princess Unicorn merchandise at their website.

Source: Cinema Blend

Ex Nasdaq head ran massive Ponzi scheme

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Federal agents have arrested Bernard L. Madoff, a top Wall Street trader and ex-CEO of of Nasdaq for securities fraud. According to the criminal charges, Madoff is alleged to have defrauded investors of $50 billion in what he confessed to authorities was a "massive Ponzi scheme."

The 70-year-old Madoff faces 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine if convicted. He was released on a $10 million bond.

From the NY Times:

According to the most recent federal filings, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, the firm he founded in 1960, operated more than two dozen funds overseeing $17 billion.

These funds have been widely marketed to wealthy investors, hedge funds and other institutional customers for more than a decade, although an S.E.C. filing in the case said the firm reported having 11 to 23 clients at the beginning of this year.

At the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal judge appointed a receiver on Thursday evening to secure the Madoff firm’s overseas accounts and warned the firm not to move any assets until he had ruled on whether to freeze the assets.

A hearing on that request is scheduled for Friday.

Regulators said they hoped to have a clearer picture of the losses facing investors by that court hearing.

"We have 16 examiners on site all day and through the night poring over the records", said Mr. Calamari of the S.E.C.


Labels: Bernard Madoff, Corporate Fraud, food security

Source: Dollars And Sense

Judge Dredd calls reboot court into session

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Here's a character that's ripe for a reboot: 'Judge Dredd'. The mega-popular British sci fi character has had the Hollywood treatment once before in the 1995 film that starred Sylvester Stallone as the title character. The movie was bad enough to make Mania's Top 15 Worst Superhero Movies of all time.

Ever since 2002, Rebellion (who holds the rights to the character) has been working to relaunch the film franchise. Back then they had ambitious plans to film back-to-back Dredd movies, In 2003 Shorline Entertainment got involved to finance the films with an eye on going into production that year. It didn't happen.

Well, now it appears that there's a new plan for bringing the Judge back to the big screen. Edward Mazmanian, he of the many and varied comic book movie groups on FaceBook, has uncovered info at ShowBizData.com about this new development.

According to the info, which he's duplciated at the Judge Dredd Movie Group, the new film is a joint production between DNA Films and Fox Searchlight. Allon Reich ('28 Weeks Later) is producing. Alex Garldan ('28 Days Later', 'Sunshine'). The production is currently seeking a director.

With the current dominance of comic book movies, the time may be right for a Judge Dredd that truly captures the scale of the Megacities and the black humor of the comics.


Source: Mania

Movie Review: ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’

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8 years after he last directed a film, Aditya Chopra is back helming a ‘Yash Raj Films’ production. Even as his directorial debut ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ continues its record breaking runs in its 13th year.

Adi is ready to direct his 3rd film. After directing his 2nd film, ‘Mohabbatein’, in 2000, Aditya had taken a conscious break from direction to set up and develop India's first studio model making ‘Yash Raj Films’ a name to reckon with.

In the years that followed, YRF, under the keen eye of Aditya, produced such blockbusters as ‘Dhoom’, ‘Dhoom 2’, ‘Hum Tum’, ‘Bunty Aur Babli’, ‘Salaam Namaste’, ‘Fanaa’ & ‘Chak De India’.

Aditya was the creative producer in all these films, he also kept up with his creative juices by writing his father Yash Chopra's directorial venture ‘Veer-Zaara’ in 2004, as well as the stories of other films.

Aditya's 3rd directorial venture will be titled ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ and will star the formidable Shah Rukh Khan, indeed the jodi of Adi and SRK will once again be a treat for film audiences the world over.


Source: India Target

Empey slams Executive's 'suspended animation'


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Northern Ireland's government has been locked in suspended animation by the dispute between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein, it was claimed today.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Sir Reg Empey said that the stand-off between the parties had seriously disrupted the work of government, with cabinet meetings blocked since June.

Opening an Assembly debate demanding the Executive meet immediately, he responded to speculation that the warring parties had brokered a deal by warning against a short term fudge.

"This debate presents the First and Deputy First Minister with the opportunity to explain to the rest of us why our government has been placed in suspended animation," said the Ulster Unionist leader.

"For the ongoing and long drawn-out stalemate is making a mockery of the DUP claim that they had brought an end to stop-go devolution.

"And could I suggest that whatever solution is found to the present impasse isn't simply another fudge to get us out of this latest hole.

"Northern Ireland needs stability. It needs an Assembly and an Executive committee which are meeting and working in harness.

"It needs a mechanism that will deal with the inevitable hiccups which naturally arise in politics, it doesn't need months of stalemate."

The DUP and Sinn Fein are divided over a series of issues, including the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster.

Republicans point out that the St Andrews deal of 2006, that established the power-sharing government, set May this year as target for the move.

But the DUP has said it will not agree to the transfer of powers until it believes there is sufficient support within the unionist community.

The two parties have been involved in protracted negotiations to end the deadlock.

Over the weekend both parties briefed their senior representatives on the progress of the talks, fuelling speculation that an agreement is close.

First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will tomorrow brief a Stormont Committee that is considering the devolution of policing powers.

Today's UUP-sponsored Assembly debate on the political stand-off saw parties express concerns that the failure to hold Executive meetings had undermined efforts to tackle economic problems hitting society.

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Sir Reg and party colleague Michael McGimpsey, who are both ministers in the power-sharing government, asked for an Executive meeting to be held immediately in line with ministers' pledge of office.

They accepted an amendment put forward by the DUP which noted that both unionist parties, together with the nationalist SDLP, were prepared to meet and blamed Sinn Fein for the stand-off.

But Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin said unionists had refused to engage in genuine partnership government and had blocked policies of importance to republicans.

"The problem we face is not that the Executive is not meeting, but that there are some in this house who have yet to come to terms with what partnership government means," she said.

"What we should be considering is not when the Executive meets (but) when it does meet, will it meet in real partnership government."

She cited republican demands for agreement on the transfer of justice powers and for movement on issues such as the introduction of an act to protect the Irish language.

Ms Ni Chuilin said her party's unionist critics had not suggested solutions to these problems and said her party was interested in establishing a government agenda that delivered for all people.

The nationalist SDLP told Sinn Fein it had failed to negotiate what it wanted in the St Andrews deal and that now everyone was being made to suffer.

"They played their cards badly, they negotiated badly, they negotiated a defective deal," said the SDLP's Alban Maginness.

He pointed to a recent speech by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams where he compared unionists opposed to change with white supremacists in South Africa.

"How can you build trust and confidence with the leading unionist party... by insulting them?" said Mr Maginness.

"How can the DUP build confidence with Sinn Fein if they are constantly attacking them?"

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said both Sinn Fein and the DUP had worked together to carve-up power in the Executive and criticised the failure to agree a renewed budget.

DUP members insisted the blame for the block on Executive meetings should be levelled at Sinn Fein.

"We are not going to be intimidated into policing and justice," said the DUP's Willie McCrea.

"We are not going to be threatened into the devolution of policing and justice. As far as policing and justice is concerned, when there is confidence in the community, then that situation will be looked at."

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The DUP's Edwin Poots attacked demands for Irish language legislation and said workers losing jobs as a result of the economic crisis did not see the issue as a priority.

"Ask them do they want to sign-on in Irish or do they want a job to go to?" he said.

Source: Belfast Telegraph

Bill Hader

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William "Bill" Hader
(born June 4, 1978) is an American actor, writer, comedian and repertory player, on Saturday Night Live. He is also known for playing noted supporting roles in numerous comedy films.

Biography

Early work

Hader grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he acted and made a film while a student at Cascia Hall Preparatory School,[1] before attending The Art Institute of Phoenix and Scottsdale Community College.[2] Hader's comedic aspirations eventually led him to Los Angeles where he joined the Second City, a comedy troupe that has been a training ground for many SNL cast members since the 1970s. He also performed at iO West in Los Angeles. During his time at Second City and iO West, Hader worked as a production assistant on the DVD Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy and Collateral Damage, as well as an assistant on VH1's The Surreal Life. Prior to SNL, Hader was perhaps most known for his work as a "field agent" on MTV's Punk'd.

Saturday Night Live

Hader was "discovered" by Megan Mullally of Will & Grace while working with the Los Angeles-based comedy troupe "Animals from the Future". Mullally brought him to the attention of SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Hader was hired as a "featured player" and made his debut on the show on October 1, 2005 (along with fellow newcomer Andy Samberg). His first role was as a psychologist giving his views about life and death during the emergency landing of Jet Blue Flight 292. Hader is known for his impressions of famous people, such as Vincent Price in the Variety Vault sketches and Al Pacino.

Hader is going into his 4th season on SNL and, along with Bobby Moynihan, Andy Samberg, Kenan Thompson, Casey Wilson and Abby Elliott is one of six SNL castmembers who were born after the show's premiere in 1975. Moynihan was born in 1977, Samberg, Thompson, and Hader in 1978, Wilson was born in 1980 and Elliot was born in 1987.

Recurring SNL characters

  • Vinny Vedecci, the Italian talk-show host who speaks little English, even though his guests are English-speakers
  • Nitro (along with Andy Samberg's Admiral Spaceship) in the SNL Digital Short Laser Cats
  • One of the four guys (the others being Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis and the host) who reveal crazy aspects about themselves while singing a song on the jukebox in the Song Memories sketches.
  • One half of the Same Sex Couple from New Jersey (or Connecticut), the other half played by Fred Armisen
  • DJ Frontal Assault on Deep House Dish
  • Danny, a guy who has the mutant Kuato (played by Andy Samberg) living in his stomach
  • Mike Underballs, the director of PSAs who has to deal with the shenanigans of Jeff (Jason Sudeikis), a crew member.
  • Mr. Triggs, the father of an ugly, socially inept girl named Stacia (played by Kristen Wiig)

Impersonations (on and off Saturday Night Live)

Hader has said he did impressions of teachers and friends when he was growing up, but did not do impressions of famous people until his Saturday Night Live audition.[3] His Al Pacino impression came after watching the actor's Emmy acceptance speech for Angels in America. Hader's Vincent Price impression came from his love of Price's Edgar Allan Poe films, such as The Fall of the House of Usher. His Peter O'Toole impression came partly from O'Toole in My Favorite Year and Jack Lemmon's drunken Prince Hapnick from The Great Race.

Film roles

He first appeared alongside Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon in You, Me and Dupree. Since then he's had a wide range of roles such as Katherine Heigl's editor at E! in Knocked Up, the acid-taking mechanic Dave in Hot Rod ( alongside SNL castmate Andy Samberg), a recumbent biker in The Brothers Solomon (which also featured SNL castmate Will Forte in one of the film's co-leading roles) and, most famously, as Officer Slater in the Judd Apatow produced Superbad. His role in Superbad helped boost his public repertoire and allowed him to appear on mainstream programs like TRL, The Tonight Show, and even presenting at MTV's Video Music Awards.

Hader appeared in two other Apatow projects: Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express (with Seth Rogen). He also appeared alongside Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Coogan, Tom Cruise, and Nick Nolte in Tropic Thunder. He will team back up with Superbad director Greg Mottola for the film Adventureland, which also features fellow SNLer Kristen Wiig. In addition to these films, Hader has also made several short films, including Back in the Day (alongside Derek Waters and wife Maggie Carey), Sounds Good to Me: Remastering the Sting, and The Jeannie Tate Show with SNL writer Liz Cackowski and wife Maggie Carey.

South Park

Hader has recently become a creative consultant on the 12th season of South Park. The first episode aired October 8, 2008.

Video Games

Grand Theft Auto IV - Wilson Taylor Sr (On in-game radio show: Pacemaker)

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Sounds Good to Me: Remastering the Sting Barnaby G. Price Short film, also writer
2005 Jenny Clone Father Short film
Hallway Receptionist Short film
2006 You, Me and Dupree Mark
Doogal Soldier Sam Voice
The Pity Card Dick Short film
2007 Knocked Up Brent
Hot Rod Dave
Superbad Officer Slater
The Brothers Solomon Recumbent biker
2008 Forgetting Sarah Marshall Brian Bretter
Pineapple Express Private Greg B. Miller
Tropic Thunder Rob Slolom
2009 Adventureland Bobby awaiting release
Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian George Armstrong Custer post-production
2010 Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil Hansel (voice) filming



Source: Wikipedia

Bernard Madoff, securities firm founder, charged with fraud

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The founder and president of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities was charged by federal prosecutors Thursday in an alleged $50-billion fraud at his advisory business.

Bernard Madoff, 70, was arrested by the FBI and charged with a single count of securities fraud. He was released on a $10-million bond. He was also sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Madoff's New York firm was the 23rd-largest market maker on Nasdaq in October, handling a daily average of about 50 million shares, exchange data show.

The firm specialized in handling orders from online brokers in some of the largest U.S. companies, including General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc.

Source: LA Times

Travelzoo Web site spots deals close to your home

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What Web sites do you search for travel deals? If you’re visiting the same two or three you’re likely missing out on some of the best deals.

Launched in 2007, Travelzoo is a source of over 300 travel companies that spotlight deals which are Travelzoo researched, reviewed and tested for availability. Travelzoo is considered the largest Internet travel network - so why not start your budget travel searches there?

Source: AJC

Bettie Page dies in LA at 85

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Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controverisal photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Thursday. She was 85.

Page suffered a heart attack last week in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness, said her agent, Mark Roesler. Before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.

“She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality,” Roesler said. “She is the embodiment of beauty.”

Page, who was also known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.

Source: Slobokan