December 21, 2008

2009 Toyota Venza preview

Toyota invited us out to preview its new for 2009 Venza. Billing the Venza as "car-optimized," Toyota downright refuses to call it a wagon or a crossover. Curiously, Toyota expects the Venza to be compared with the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, and Nissan Murano, all of which are crossovers. They say you're judged by the caliber of your enemies, so I guess that makes the Venza a crossover as well.

Whatever you call it, the Venza is an interesting vehicle. It rides almost like a Camry, but with carrying capabilities that are just shy of the Highlander. Sedan/wagon-like proportions and big 20-inch wheels help hide some of the visual mass, but--there's no getting around it--the Venza is a big vehicle. Don't believe me? Ask the entry model's 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine.

Outputting 182 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque, the four-cylinder engine feels underpowered for pulling the 5,000 pound Venza around town. The step-up 3.5-liter V-6's 268 ponies and 246 pound-feet of twist feel much better suited for motivational duties.

Inside, the Venza can be equipped with Toyota's sixth-generation DVD navigation system with voice command, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming from supported A2DP devices, satellite radio with XM NavTraffic, and a powerful 13-speaker JBL Synthesis audio system that sounds fantastic. The Venza features the requisite 10 cup holders and a clever piece of vehicle interior design that we hope to see more of in future vehicles: cable management.

The Venza's center console features three pockets for MP3 players or cell phones with pass-throughs for routing audio or charging cables to the 12V power or aux-input hidden deep in the console. It's a really neat way to keep the interior from looking like a wiry mess, while keeping the devices visible.

Source: Cnet

Marcus Dixon

Marcus Dwayne Dixon (born September 16, 1984 in Rome, Georgia) is an American football defensive end who is a practice squad player for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. He was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He played college football at Hampton.

Dixon is also known for being prosecuted in a high-profile court case when, as a high school student, he was convicted in May 2003 for the rape of Kristie Brown, an underage girl. These charges were later overturned and dropped to statutory rape.[1][2]

Early years

Dixon was a grade A student at Pepperell High School and excelled on the football field to the point where he had been offered a full scholarship at Vanderbilt University, but due to his court case and conviction he was unable to take on this opportunity.

College career

Upon his release from prison Dixon enrolled at Hampton University in Virginia with a football scholarship.[3]

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys

On April 27, 2008, Marcus signed a three-year, $1.1 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.


Dixon v. Brown case

Kristie Brown alleged that on February 10, 2003 Dixon forced her to have sex, taking her virginity. She has stated that contrary to Dixon's supporters' belief she was never Dixon's girlfriend and although they shared classes, they barely knew each other. The jury acquitted Dixon of rape, battery, assault and false imprisonment but because Brown was only 15 3/4 at the time of the incident found him guilty of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation. Because of this Dixon was convicted at the mandatory amount under Georgia law, 10 years imprisonment.[4] Ironically if he would have been found guilty he would have faced a much less severe punishment.[5]

Many saw the case as racially motivated, especially when it was alleged by Dixon's partisans that Brown had claimed her father "would kill them both" if he found out because he was a racist. The President of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman called it a "Legal Lynching". Also, the location of the incident, Georgia, spurred on the thoughts of racist bigotry.[5]

Other alleged events

During the court case the prosecution brought up Dixon's past record, stating that he had been suspended twice from his school for 'sexual activity'. Although neither of these events were reported to the authorities the jury were told that the events were Dixon exposing himself in a classroom and inappropriately touching a 14 year old girl.[6]
Overturned conviction and release

Georgia Supreme Court overturned Dixon's conviction and he was released May 3, 2004. They let his conviction of misdemeanor statutory rape stand.[7] After Dixon's release both he and Brown appeared on Oprah in an attempt to clarify their stories.[4]

Source: Wikipedia

Escape to Witch Mountain

Escape to Witch Mountain
is a science fiction novel written by Alexander Key in 1968. It was adapted into a film of the same name by Walt Disney Productions in 1975, directed by John Hough. A remake directed by Peter Rader was released in 1995. Another remake began pre-production in July 2007, set to be directed by Andy Fickman. The movie will begin filming in March 2008 and is set to release March 13, 2009.


The novel written by Alexander H. Key is about two orphans, Tony and Tia, who have moderate paranormal abilities. Tony possesses the ability of telekinesis, though he can access it most readily through playing music, where as Tia can unlock any door by touch as well as communicate with animals. Whilst Tony can talk normally, Tia communicates via ultrasonic speech audible only to her brother Tony (and others of their kind). After their foster guardian, Mrs. Malone, dies, they are placed by social services in a juvenile detention home under grim, unwholesome conditions where Tia befriends a black cat, Winkie.

Both have suppressed memories of their past, but discover a clue — an old road map hidden in Tia's "star case", a leather purse-like box with a double-star design on it. When a man claiming to be the brother of their deceased father shows up at the detention center to take custody of them, they instinctively know he is not their uncle and has ulterior motives. With the assistance of an inner-city Irish priest, Father O'Day, the pair run away, following the map's route leading towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. As their memories begin to return, they realize that they are actually of extraterrestrial origin; their people having come to Earth because their own planet was dying. In the end, Tony and Tia find their way to their own people. When their would-be captor, Lucas Deranian, attempts to interrogate Father O'Day, the priest speaks to the effect that God is capable of creating many worlds and many peoples; that there are mysteries beyond Deranian's "narrow dreaming".

As with most of Alexander Key's stories, the embattled protagonists find that most of the people they meet are untrustworthy, greedy and hateful.

1975 film and sequels

In 1975, Walt Disney Productions released a film based on the novel, also entitled Escape to Witch Mountain. In this film, Tony and Tia were played by Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards, and Lucas Deranian by Donald Pleasance. The film replaces the inner-city priest Father O'Day with Jason O'Day (played by Eddie Albert), a widower traveling in an RV who helps Tony and Tia get away from their pursuers. New major characters in the film who are not in the novel are millionaire Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), Deranian's employer who wants to obtain the children's powers, and Uncle Bené (Denver Pyle), the children's uncle whom they believe to have drowned in a long-ago accident. The film was one of Disney's most successful live-action films.[1]

The film was followed by two sequels, the theatrically released Return from Witch Mountain (1978) and the 60-minute TV movie Beyond Witch Mountain (1982). Director Hough returned for Return, as did Eisenmann, Richards and Pyle, but new villains Letha Wedge (Bette Davis) and Dr. Victor Gannon (Christopher Lee) took the place of Bolt and Deranian. The characters of Bolt, Deranian and O'Day returned in Beyond Witch Mountain, but director Hough did not return, and no actor returned to their roles except for Albert. Beyond was intended as a TV pilot but the proposed series did not occur.

Source: Wikipedia

Bob Bowersox is reportedly leaving QVC. Bob Bowersox is sadly leaving QVC, reportedly telling QVC fans he’s calling it quits. Bowersox announced his depature on air this weekend.

QVC Forum comments describe Bowersox’s exit:

One poster wrote:
“On the pre-recorded presentation of Bob, he seemed very sad. He actually seemed like he was trying his best not to cry. Bob said that he was persuing other avenues in life”.

Another poster said:
“I missed his farwell message but at least the Q gave him the opporunity to speak to the audience about his quick departure (unlike DK.)”

Bowersox’s bio on QVC includes the following:

“Bowersox joined QVC in November 1986, appearing on QVC’s first broadcast. His program host duties include presenting product information, conducting demonstrations, and interacting with on–air guests, celebrities, and viewers. Bob brings his vast knowledge of electronics, entertainment, journalism, photography, and the arts to QVC programs such as Electronics Today, Picture Perfect®, The Computer Shop, Pilates Home Studio, Beyond Wine, and SELECT COMFORT® Sleep Solutions. But what he’s most known for, among QVC viewers, is his association with the cooking category.”

Bob’s shows included In The Kitchen With Bob®, a show he hosted for 11 years. Before that, Bob was a recording artist with Columbia Records.

“Returning to his home in Delaware after a two–year stint in New York, Bob launched a second career by opening The Crepe Chalet restaurant, which became an instant hit. He attended the University of Delaware, earning his second degree in Journalism. Upon completing his studies, he co–founded, published, and edited Fine Times Magazine, a pop music publication for the Delaware/Philadelphia region. Within a year, it became the number one regional lifestyle magazine.”

Fans reaction today is sadness across the QVC Forum .

“Bob is/was a staple on QVC. If you did not like him you should have switched channels, there are buttons. You are a very negative/down person. I have watched Bob for over 20 years, thru ups and downs and still like him very much. I wish him well and we will see him other places.”

Source: LALate