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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'Titanic' Oscar nominee Gloria Stuart dies at 100

Actress Gloria Stuart poses for a portrait in Los Angeles Monday, July 19, 2010. (AP)

Gloria Stuart, the Hollywood actress of the 1930s who gained an Oscar nomination 60 years later for her role as the spunky survivor in "Titanic," has died.

She was 100.

Her grandson, Benjamin Stuart Thompson, says Stuart died in her sleep Sunday night at her Los Angeles home.

In her youth, Stuart was a blond beauty who starred in B pictures as well as higher-profile ones like "The Invisible Man" and two Shirley Temple movies.

She resumed acting occasionally in later years and was selected to play the elderly Titanic survivor portrayed by Kate Winslet as a young woman.

The 1997 "Titanic" became the biggest modern blockbuster up to that point. Both Winslet and Stuart, then 87, were nominated for Oscars.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Famed Obama 'Hope' poster artist losing hope
By Aamer Madhani,
National Journal

In this Monday, Jan. 12, 2009 file photo, Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey poses for a picture with his Barack Obama Hope artwork in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. Prosecutors in Boston have dropped 14 vandalism charges against Fairey, 39, who created the 'Hope' poster of President Barack Obama. But the Suffolk District Attorney's office said Tuesday, June 2, 2009 that it is leaving open the possibility of prosecuting Shepard Fairey on 13 other pending cases in Boston.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The artist whose poster of Barack Obama became a rallying image during the hope-and-change election of 2008 says he understands why so many people have lost faith.

In an exclusive interview with National Journal on Thursday, Shepard Fairey expressed his disappointment with the president -- a malaise that seems representative of many Democrats who had great expectations for Obama.

Fairey explained that when he came up with the poster in 2008, he was trying to find a single image that embodied the issues he cared most about -- promoting health care, helping labor, and curtailing lobbyists. He likened the issues to projectiles.

(What Ohio Voters Tell Us About Obama)

"Looking at Obama's standpoint on various policies, it was like, 'Why throw all these particular projectiles over the wall... when I could put all those things in one projectile that I could hurl over the wall,'" Fairey said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he lives. "Obama was the delivery device in theory. Now, I realize that he maybe is not the correct delivery device, and I'll just deal with those issues separately."

Fairey's much-reproduced portrait of Obama -- head tilted slightly upward, gazing into the distance, with the word "Hope" emblazoned underneath -- captured the imagination of Democrats and unintentionally tweaked Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose husband had been elected as "The Man From Hope." Hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers with the "Hope" image were distributed to supporters throughout the country. But that was just the beginning. It's been reproduced countless times on the Internet, and a parody version, with Obama as The Joker and "Socialism" in place of "Hope," is a favorite at Tea Party rallies.

Maybe it was inevitable that Hope would fade. Fairey's blue-and-red image was altered from an Associated Press photograph of Obama, and the artist is embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit over use of that picture. (He didn't discuss the case with National Journal.) Fairey, who at 40 is no kid himself, said it's easy to see why young voters are down on Obama and the Democrats. He lamented that health care reform was watered down, Tea Party activists have been emboldened, and his man has fallen short on bold campaign promises like closing Guantanamo Bay.

(Independents Dropping Dems Over Economy)

"There's a lot of stuff completely out of Obama's control or any of the Democrats' control," Fairey allowed. "But I think there's something a little deeper in terms of the optimism of the younger voter that's happening. They wanted somebody who was going to fight against the status quo, and I don't think that Obama has done that."

To be sure, Fairey still supports Obama, and he says he would use his talents to assist the president's re-election efforts in 2012. But he said that he couldn't design the same Hope poster today, because the spirit of the Obama campaign hasn't carried over to the Obama presidency.

(GOP's New Senate Class Could Be Conservative Vanguard)

"To say I feel disappointment is within the context that I know he's very intelligent, very capable, very compassionate," Fairey said. "I think he has the tools, and he does not trust his instincts in how to apply them."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sotheby's to sell rare Audubon 'Birds of America'
By Jill Lawless,
Associated Press Writer

Undated handout photo issued by Sotheby's Thursday September 9, 2010 of an illustration from Audubon's The Birds of America, 1827 - 1838, which could reach 6 million pounds ($9.25 million) when it is auctioned in the Magnificent Books, Manuscripts and Drawings from the Collection of Frederick, 2nd Lord Hesketh sale which will take place at Sotheby's in London on December 7.
(AP Photo/Sotheby's)

LONDON – A rare copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America," billed as the world's most expensive book, is up for sale alongside a first edition of Shakespeare's plays at an auction to set book lovers' pulses racing, Sotheby's said Thursday.

One of only 100 or so remaining copies of "Birds of America" is valued at between 4 million pounds and 6 million pounds ($6.2 million and $9.2 million), while a Shakespeare First Folio from 1623 is expected to fetch at least 1 million pounds ($1.54 million).

Sotheby's books expert David Goldthorpe said the two tomes are "the twin peaks of book collecting." The books come from the estate of the 2nd Baron Hesketh, an aristocratic book collector who died in 1955. The auction house is selling them in London on Dec. 7.

Another complete copy of "Birds of America" was sold by Christie's for $8.8 million in 2000, a record for a printed book at auction.

It is one of the most significant — and beautiful — published works of natural history, and rarely comes up for sale. Only 119 copies remain, and all but a handful are in museums, libraries and universities.

The collection of 435 hand-colored prints, made from engravings of Audubon's illustrations, measures more than 3 feet by 2 feet (90 centimeters by 60 centimeters) because Audubon wanted to paint the birds life size.

"That's all very well with weed warblers, but when you come to bald eagles you're going to need a big book," Goldthorpe said. "Audubon himself described the size as a 'double elephant' folio."

A pioneering French-American ornithologist and entrepreneur whose business ventures took him across the expanding United States, Audubon came to Britain in 1826 after failing to raise money to print his book in America. His outdoorsman image and vivid illustrations made a strong impression.

"He caused a sensation," said Goldthorpe. "It was as if someone in a (James) Fenimore Cooper novel had ended up in a Jane Austen novel."

Audubon sold the book on a subscription basis to wealthy collectors. The copy for sale was No. 11, bought by paleontologist Henry Witham.

The December sale also includes medieval illustrated manuscripts, work by William Caxton, England's first printer, and letters written by Queen Elizabeth I and her ministers about the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Man recreates dead lover as a sex doll
A grieving businessman has spent £15,000 creating a life-size doll of his dead lover, a sex shop owner has claimed.

'RealDoll' sex doll: not actually that lifelike

The 50-year-old took dozens of photos of the woman to the store, asking for a plastic copy with genuine blonde hair and exact matches for her face and body shape.

It took 18 months to create the 58kg (9st) clone, which has articulated joints, a titanium skeleton and life-like ‘skin’. ‘It’s the most expensive doll we have ever sold but don’t think it is your traditional inflatable sex toy,’ said Diego Bortolin, of Tentazioni sex shop in Treviso, north Italy.

‘I’m sure there is a tragic story behind this. I’m sure the girl in question died as a result of some accident and the man was involved as well. It’s a hunch I have and the staff in the shop agree with me.’ The unnamed customer had ‘scars from what looked like burns on his face and his arms’, said Mr Bortolin, adding: ‘When he showed us the photographs, he was in tears.

‘Although I didn’t want to push him, I just felt there was something sad behind his request.

‘When I delivered the doll to his house there were several photos of the young woman dotted around.

‘He was delighted with the finished product. We aim to please.’