Latest Gifts for the techies - 2011

Don't scale down this holiday season. The Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale not only measures your weight, fat mass, lean mass and body-mass index, but will then transmit that data to your an app on your smartphone and chart it out for you. Just what you need after a big meal. $159.00,

Latest Gifts for the techies - 2011

It's not the size of the speakers that matters. The Jawbone Jambox portable wireless speaker delivers crystal clear sound with an output of up to 85 decibels, enough to fill the largest of New York apartments. 199.99,

Latest Gifts for the techies - 2011

It's time to stop plugging your camera into your computer. The new Eye-Fi memory card has built in wi-fi capabilities that will tranfer photos and videos wirelessly straight from your digital camera straight to your smartphone, iPad or computer. $47.99 - $79.99,

Latest Gifts for the techies - 2011

See without being seen, that's the goal of the Spy Net Video Glasses, which can record up to 20 minutes of video with sound. Perfect for the budding young spy in all of us. $29.99,

Latest Gifts for the techies - 2011

Make your Skype/GChat experience a pleasurable one with the comfortable Logitech Wireless Headset H800, which connects to all devices via bluetooth and features a built-in equalizer. $99.99,

Monday, February 28, 2011

Barack Obama Recalls Favorite Movie Music at the Oscars

Barack Obama is a number of things: the President of the United States, a dedicated family man, and, apparently a big fan of Oscar music.

The Commander-in-Chief unexpectedly appeared on tonight's Academy Awards broadcast to give his vote for the best song in film, choosing Herman Hupfeld's romantic classic 'As Time Goes By' from 'Casablanca'

Following his announcement, presenter Kevin Spacey gave over the stage to singer-composer Randy Newman, who is nominated for his 20th Academy Award this year for 'We Belong Together' from 'Toy Story 3.'
Following a short performance of his Oscar-nominated song, Mandy Moore hit the stage with fellow singer and 'Chuck' star Zachary Levi, where the duo performed an excerpt from 'I See the Light' from animated hit 'Tangled.'

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Does Helena Bonham Carter Need an Oscars Stylist?

By showing up the the 2011 Golden Globes wearing mismatched shoes, Helena Bonham Carterproved she doesn't adhere to fashion rules. And even though the quirky actress already dubbed her upcoming Oscars gown a "catastrophe," one stylist hopes the nominated actress will take her fashion statement a little more seriously for the Oscars.

"She is a brilliant actress, so she needs to be a bit more serious about her wardrobe," fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo told PopEater at the 23rd Annual Bailey House Auction party.

Although the actress isn't interested in stylists, Valvo would step up at the last minute to give her a stunning look for the Oscars. "I would give her whimsical and quirky personality a bit of sophicication," he said.
"I would put her in something very Moulin Rouge or can-can with corsets and frilly skirts because she's so beautiful, and I'd make her shine," he added.

Carter, who plays a young Queen Elizabeth in 'The King's Speech,' is nominated for best supporting actress at the 2011 Oscars.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dr. Dre Debuts 'I Need a Doctor' Music Video (Feat. Eminem and Skylar Grey)

A lot has happened in the dozen years since Dr. Dre has released a solo album. A lot. Dre's much-storied third album, 'Detox' is kinda like hip-hop's own 'Chinese Democracy.' Except that everyone expects great things from this one. It's almost time to finally cash in those chips for the money and the big pay-off: After years of hearing Dre's collaborators -- including Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube -- discuss their contributions and speculate about the album's release, 'Detox' finally drops in April. For real, this time.

While certain unfinished tracks were leaked in the past -- much to Dre's chagrin -- when an unmastered version of the song 'Kush' leaked last fall, he quickly mastered it and released it officially via iTunes. Then came a video. So, whereas previous leaked tracks were allegedly removed from the album's final tracklist, 'Kush' was the forced first single.

Last November, just one week after 'Kush' was released, producer Alex da Kid said the track he worked on called 'I Need a Doctor' (feat. Eminem and Skylar Grey) would be the official second single from 'Detox.' Turns out, the kid was right.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Celebrity Beauty Looks of the Day: Halle Berry, Ginnifer Goodwin and Brooklyn Decker

Halle Berry:
The 44-year-old actress looked stunning at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills, California. Her complexion was radiant, her eyes sultrified with a burnished bronze shadow, and her lips were dressed to a peachy pink perfection.

Ginnifer Goodwin:
The "Big Love" actress rocked a new 'do at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills, California. The edgy undercut style was softened by her dove graywinged-out smoky eye and pale pink lip.

Brooklyn Decker:
The Sports Illustrated model and actress wore an effortless and playful side-swept braid at the premiere for her new film "Just Go With It" in Madrid, Spain. Her milky complexion was luminous, and got the perfect pop of color from her bright, raspberry-hued pout.

Shop the selection of makeup products below to help you nail this celebrity look, and check out our Wear the Beauty Trend column for more pretty looks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


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Marshals Release Photo of Alleged Tucson Shooter

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Marshals Service released a new image Tuesday of the man suspected of shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, killing six people and wounding a dozen others near Tucson last month.

The photo shows Jared Loughner in front of a block cinder wall, wearing a mustard colored jail uniform with a white T-shirt underneath. His hair is slightly grown out and he has a cut on his right forehead.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns said he was leaving it up to the marshals to decide whether to release the mug shot of the 22-year-old Loughner taken in Phoenix while Loughner was in the agency's custody.

Several mediaorganizations received thephoto from the marshals Tuesday. The Associated Press did not immediately obtain a copy.

The previously unreleased photo is a different image than the mug shot released by the Pima County Sheriff's Office taken two days after Loughner was arrested.

Defense attorneys had argued against releasing the new photo, saying it invades Loughner's privacyand doesn't serve any legitimate public interest. In addition, mug shots reveal people at their most humiliating moments, the lawyers said.

Burns said he did not agree the photo would invade Loughner's privacy or harm his chance at a fair trial, but he said he didn't have the authority to rule on the matter because the 6th Circuit requires the U.S. Marshals Service to release the photo.

"We're making these pictures seem way more ominous than they really are," Burns said, adding the second mug shot is much "tamer" than the first one that has been widely circulated on the Internet. That photo showed Loughner wide eyed and smiling.

The Jan. 8 attack outside a Tucson-area grocery store also left a federal judge, an aide to Giffords and a 9-year-old girl dead. Loughner has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in the case.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stepmother Charged With Murder in Death of Zahra Baker

Elisa Baker was indicted today on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of her disabled 10-year-old stepdaughter, Zahra Clare Baker, whose remains were found in various locations around North Carolina.

The indictment handed up by a grand jury in Catawba County, N.C., asserted that Baker had "a history and pattern of physical, verbal and psychological abuse of the victim," The Charlotte Observer reported, and that she had "desecrated the victim's body to hinder detection, investigation and prosecution of the offense."

In documents released today by the state's chief medical examiner, it was revealed that authorities still haven't found the girl's skull, but an autopsy had still been performed. Medical examiners say Zahra died from "undetermined homicidal violence."
Zahra, who had battled cancer and needed an artificial leg, was reported missing on Oct. 9 by her father, Adam Baker. Authorities believe the girl had been killed more than two weeks earlier.

The grand jurors cited a number of aggravating circumstances in the case, alleging that Elisa Baker "secreted the victim from family and others prior to and after the offense, delaying detection of the offense," the Hickory Daily Record reported.

The indictment also stated that Baker "took advantage of a position of trust or confidence, including a domestic relationship, to commit the offense."

Baker claimed that her husband had dismembered Zahra's body, a charge he has denied. According to The Associated Press, a search warrant released last month cited cell phone records indicating Elisa Baker was at locations where Zahra's remains were found.

In October, authorities arrested Adam Baker on charges unrelated to his daughter's disappearance. He posted $7,000 bond and was released.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pentagon Reports Billions of Dollars in Contractor Fraud

The Pentagon paid hundreds of billions of dollars to defense contractors engaged in criminal or civil fraud -- in some cases paying the companies after they were convicted, according to a new Defense Department report.

At least 91 contractors holding contracts worth $270 billion were the subjects of civil fraud judgments -- and in some cases criminal fraud convictions as well, many of which resulted in fines, suspensions or debarments. Even so, Defense Department contracting officers still assigned $4.9 billion worth of work with these companies after the fraud was uncovered, the report said.

The contractors identified in the report include such blue-chip entities as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Pratt & Whitney, IBM and even the Yale medical school.

The Pentagon said its own sloppy bookkeeping, missing records and inadequate training of acquisition officials were to blame for the mess. The Pentagon also acknowledged that the data in the report, which covers only 2007 through 2009, are probably incomplete because the Defense Department cannot accurately track individual contractors or how much is actually spent. And the report only tracks those fraud cases of over $1 million.

At least $682 million was paid in error to 30 companies that had been convicted of criminal fraud, according to the report, including $29.6 million to Herley Industries, an electronics manufacturer, and $66 million to AEY Inc., a military surplus and sporting goods firm.

The number of fraudulent contractors identified in the report is relatively small -- some 120 companies out of the 235,000 contractors that work for the Defense Department. But the dollar amounts are significant, a continuing drain on taxpayers and on the military's combat readiness.

Military contracting fraud, which first plagued Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War, has long bedeviled the American armed forces. Defense Secretary RobertGates is only the latest of a long succession of defense chiefs to try to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in the Pentagon's giant acquisition bureaucracy.

Under the pressure of two hot wars and a defense budget that has mushroomed to its current $700 billion size, the Pentagon has set up a Procurement Fraud Working Group. But in the six years the task force has been at work, fraud seems to have expanded even as the Pentagon's ability to detect it has increased.

With the data in the new report, the Pentagon acknowledged, came "recognition that additional guidance and training . . . is needed'' for its contracting officers.

The report was released by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had demanded a Pentagon accounting of fraud. "The sad truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," he said in a statement.

"It is clear that DOD's current approach is not working and we need far more vigorous enforcement to protect taxpayers from massive fraud," Sanders said.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gabriel Aubry Dismisses Halle Berry Custody Case

Halle Berry's ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry has filed to end his custody case for 2-year-old daughter Nahla, reports. The site confirmed that Berry and her lawyer were sorting out the development in court Wednesday afternoon. The couple have been at the center of tabloids lately, going from amicably split to vocally embattled. Reports came in this morning that Berry and Aubry were considering setting aside their differences for their daughter and that they'd begun talking again. "Halle Berry's breakup with Gabriel Aubrey and custody dispute over their daughter has been one of the strangest, most perplexing cases in recent memory," RadarOnline founder and executive vice president David Perel tells PopEater. "They went from seeming to get along fine to a bitter dispute that looked like only a judge could solve it. And just as everyone thought it would have to be fought out in a courtroom, the situation changed again, and Aubrey filed a motion to dismiss his own case." 4:50PM update: Radar tells PopEater Berry has left court. "Halle won a procedural hearing to take Nahla across the country to New York," David Perel tells us. "Gabriel has withdrawn his suit as the paperwork shows. He has not filed anything new. Despite reports he is filing a different suit, that has not happened yet. We will know more about what he plans to do shortly." Aubry, 34, filed for joint custody on Dec. 30, kicking off a tabloid war between himself and Berry, 44. The two dated for five years before splitting earlier in April 2010. "I think both sides realized how out of hand things had gotten recently," an insider tells Radar. "They both love their daughter and want to make sure her welfare comes first. Gabriel and Halle have spoken to each other and have committed to try and make things work, without the courts -- Gabe's decision to drop his case is his way of showing Halle he's prepared to take a leap of faith and trust her once again." Before this development about Aubry dropping the custody case, a source close to the couple told Radar: "Gabriel and Halle even resumed talking again last week, and it seems that Halle is going to be making it easier for Gabriel to spend time with Nahla, which has been a sticking point between the two up 'til now. Hopefully this is the start of the two of them being able to form some kind of workable co-parenting relationship for the sake of their daughter."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Liam Neeson Opens Up For the First Time About Natasha Richardson's Death

Nearly two years after his wife, Tony-winning actress Natasha Richardson, passed away following a skiing accident, Liam Neeson is opening up for the first time about that terrible night in March 2009.

"I walked into the emergency [room] -- it's like seventy, eighty people, broken arms, black eyes, all that -- and for the first time in years, nobody recognizes me," the 'Taken' star toldEsquire. "Not the nurses. The patients. No one. And I've come all this way, and they won't let me see her. And I'm looking past them, starting to push -- I'm like, 'F**k, I know my wife's back there someplace.'"

Neeson rarely speaks about his private life, and was initially hesitant to talk about Richardson with Esquire writer Tom Chiarella. However, while recounting a motorcycle accident that put him in the hospital in 2000, the Oscar-nominated star of 'Schindler's List' began to discuss the tragic parallels between the accident he survived and the one that took the life of his wife.
After striking a deer, Neeson lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a ditch, breaking his pelvis in two places. He was transferred to New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, and Richardson, who was filming in Canada, rushed to be by his side. "I found out later they'd told her I wouldn't last the night," Neeson said. "Well, they never f**king told me that."

The scene would be repeated nine years later, only in reverse, with Neeson rushing from the Canadian set of the film 'Chloe' to be with Richardson, who had hit her head in a skiing accident.

After the fall, Richardson was initially lucid and simply asked to be taken back to her room, dismissing the ambulances that reported to the scene. Three hours later, however, the actress was taken to a small Canadian hospital after complaining of a headache. Within a few hours she was transferred to a larger hospital in Montreal. Neeson rushed from the set of 'Chloe' to be with Richardson, who had fallen into a coma as a result of a brain hemorrhage sustained during the fall.

The day after Richardson's accident, she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital, where she died on March 18, 2009. On March 19, theater lights on Broadway and in London's West End were dimmed in honor of the respected actress and dedicated AIDS research activist.

"What am I gonna do? How am I going to get past the security?" Neeson told Chiarella, recounting what was going through his mind when he arrived at the hospital. "And I see two nurses, ladies, having a cigarette. I walk up, and luckily one of them recognizes me. And I'll tell you, I was so f**king grateful -- for the first time in I don't know how long -- to be recognized. And this one, she says, 'Go in that back door there.' She points me to it. 'Make a left. She's in a room there.' So I get there, just in time. And all these young doctors, who look all of eighteen years of age, they tell me the worst."

According to Chiarella, Neeson stopped the interview briefly while discussing Richardson, blinking back tears while gazing across the eatery at members of the late actress's extended family, who were coincidentally at the restaurant -- a favorite of Neeson and Richardson's -- the day of his interview withEsquire.

The actor returned to the set of 'Chloe' immediately after Richardson's funeral. "I just think I was still in a bit of shock," he said. "But it's kind of a no-brainer to go back to that work. It's a wee bit of a blur, but I know the tragedy hadn't just really smacked me yet."

Neeson and Richardson have two teenage sons, Michael and Daniel.

"I think I survived by running away some. Running away to work. Listen, I know how old I am and that I'm just a shoulder injury from losing roles like the one in 'Taken,'" the actor told Esquire. "So I stay with the training, I stay with the work. It's easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work. That's effective. But that's the weird thing about grief. You can't prepare for it. You think you're gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top Dogs Strut Their Stuff at Westminster

NEW YORK - Lance Armstrong leaned forward in his seat, trying to get a better look at the competition. This was his first Westminster - a Tour de French bulldogs, fox terriers and all other canine champions - and he was focused at America's No. 1 pooch pageant.

Flanked by his twin 9-year-old daughters, Isabelle and Grace, the cycling champion sat virtually unnoticed in the stands, several rows off the floor.

"It's a great treat for the three of us to be here," Armstrong said.
Moments later, a parade of long-haired dachshunds entered the show ring at Madison Square Garden.

"These are her dogs," he said, grinning and glancing at Isabelle. "We better pay attention."

Nearly 2,600 dogs are competing, and they all carry the abbreviation "Ch." before their names - it stands for champion, since every purebred dog at the Westminster Kennel Club event has already been a winner somewhere.

An 85-pound Scottish deerhound called Hickory fared well Monday night, winning the hound group. Raised on a 50-acre farm in Warrenton, Va., she seemed comfortable on the green carpet.

"The breed is very sensitive to their surroundings. This is quite an experience for a dog who lives on a farm and chases deer," handler Angela Lloyd said.

A rookie Pekingese took the toy round, and the nonsporting and herding champs were to be chosen later in the evening.

The top sporting, working and terriers will be picked Tuesday, and judge Paolo Dondina of Italy will point to the best in show that night shortly before 11 p.m.

This year's entries come in 179 breeds and varieties, and six made their Westminster debuts - Icelandic sheepdogs, redbone coonhounds, Leonbergers, Boykin spaniels, cane corsos and bluetick coonhounds.

All of the newcomers got a warm welcome from the crowd. So did a pert Pomeranian that kept doing 360-degree spins while walking in the ring, drawing laughs from all over the arena. Alas, the group judge wasn't so enamored, and little Powerpom High Performance didn't make the toy cut.

Also in attendance: Jane Hammett-Bright, who nearly made the final episode on "Survivor: Nicaragua" last season. She came from Jackson Springs, N.C., with her shetland sheepdogs.

"You can always depend on your dog," she said. "On 'Survivor,' you can't depend on anybody."

By Westminster standards, it's considered a pretty open field. Dodger, a smooth fox terrier that finished 2010 as the top show dog in country, has retired and will not compete - co-owner Phil Booth said that was the plan all along.

That leaves another smooth fox terrier, a bulldog, a boxer and a bearded collie and among the many favorites.

Something that's not such a favorite in the dog show world: A piece in the most recent edition of the journal "Emerging Infectious Diseases" published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In it, a pair of experts in the field of diseases transmitted between animals and human say there are some but small risks for pet owners who let their dogs sleep in bed with them.

The risks, however, are not great when dealing with healthy pets, veterinarians Bruno Chomel and Ben Sun wrote.

Their conclusions were based on reports of such cases, going back to at least 1974, and the sample size was not a large one.

Yet anything that can even slightly rankle a dog lover, such as the suggestion that dogs shouldn't lick their owners - on the kisser, on Valentine's Day! - is bound to be barked down.

"I read it and I think that's insane," said Scott Sommer, who guided a prize bichon frise named J.R. to best in show at Westminster in 2001. "He sleeps with me every night, his head on the pillow. For 13 years, and I'm fine."

"I thought it was a joke," he said.

Others inside the Garden took the same view.

"There's risks sleeping with anyone," offered star handler Bill McFadden, who led a Kerry blue terrier named Mick to the top prize in 2003.

Aaron Wilkerson handled perhaps the most popular dog in recent Westminster history, a beagle called Uno that won in 2008. He let Uno sleep in his bed after he retired from competition.

"After he won, I figured he could have anything he wanted," Wilkerson said.

American Kennel Club spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said the piece reinforced good pet practices.

"They're telling you to take your dog to the vet once a year, to wash your hands," she said. "With these dogs, the risk is so remote vs. the benefits people get from sleeping with their pets."

Chomel said he and Sun didn't intend to alarm anyone, they merely wanted to raise awareness of what they thought was an increasing trend of owners sleeping with their pets.

"In the scientific community, it was very well received. In the dog and cat world, it was a little different," he said. "People went crazy, like if you let your dog sleep with you, you will die. That's not what we are saying."

"Basically, we didn't want to scare everybody. We just wanted to let people know that when you take that kind of risk, there are things that may happen," he said.

Chomel said he doesn't have any pets now. As a kid, he did. And those pets slept on the floor.

"Same room is OK, but having a pet sleep in its own bed is best," he said.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who Is Esperanza Spalding, Grammy Best New Artist Winner?

Who is Esperanza Spalding? The 26-year-old jazz bassist who snatched the Best New Artist Grammy out of the hands of Justin Bieber, that's who.

Although cameras quickly cut away, Bieber's disappointment at the announcement seemed clear. The AP reports Spalding had just one Grammy nomination entering the show's 53rd annual ceremony Sunday night.

Drake, Mumford & Sons and Florence and the Machine were also nominated. While a lot of people will spend the wake of Bieber's Best New Artist loss figuring out who Spalding is, there's little doubt she's extremely talented.

"From the time Esperanza Spalding appeared on the scene in 2005, the dynamic singer, bassist, composer and arranger has been heralded as jazz's next big thing," the AP wrote in a lead-up to the Grammys. "Her impressive musicianship has won her White House recital dates, praise from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock, and critical acclaim.
"I am new in that I haven't been around that long, and I'm an artist," Spalding told AOL's Spinner in January, following her Grammy nomination. "So it fits. Somebody out there thinks that in their mind that I am one of the best. It's flattering. I'll take it."

Spalding's third album, 'Chamber Music Society,' dropped in the summer of 2010. Co-producer Gil Goldstein told the AP of Spalding's nomination, "I've been kind of joking, saying it would be nice that if once in a while, the best new artist would be someone who reads and writes (music)."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Best February Deals

Bargain hunters are getting both good and bad news as they head into the market during February. The good news is that there are some spectacular deals on remaining 2010 models. The bad news is that automakers are a bit stingier with their incentives on their 2011s. > In Pictures: 20 Great February Deals You'll find some of the best deals on 2010 Hondas. The Japanese manufacturer is offering low interest rates across the board: 0.9% over five years for the Civic Coupe, the Civic Hybrid, the Accord sedan, and the CR-V. The Honda Element is one of the few exceptions, but its special finance rate is just a point higher, 1.9%. For its part, GM is offering $2,000 or $3,000 in rebates2010 Chevy Tahoe, and $2,000 on the 2011 version. Similarly, Volkswagen has put a 1.9%, five-year financing deal on its 2011 Tiguan, and 0% deal on the 2010 model. Automakers like to start the year optimistically, hoping that they won't need to discount vehicle prices as much as they have in the past. In recent years, the soft car market has often dashed those hopes, however, and massive rebates have reappeared on some vehicles later in the model year. That may not happen to the same degree this year: The prospects for the domestic, Asian and European automakers are improving, in the USmarket at least. So they might not be as inclined to discount as much as they have in the past. on a range of 2010s and even some 2011s. For example, you can get a $3,000 rebate on a Select The Vehicles Below And View The Incentive:

Compact Cars Midsize Cars Crossovers Stylish Pickups Fullsize Pickups
Honda Civic Toyota Camry Honda CR-V Honda Ridgeline Chevrolet Silverado
Mitsubishi Lancer Ford Fusion Mitsubishi Outlander Chevrolet Avalanche Nissan Titan
Chevrolet Cruze Nissan Altima Acura RDX Nissan Titan PRO-4X Ford F-150
Ford Focus Chrysler 200 Ford Escape Dodge Dakota Big Horn/Lonestar Toyota Tundra

Editor's Pick: 2011 Ford Focus
The Ford Focus is a nameplate that has survived brutal competition and the latest episode in the long-standing rivalry between GM and Ford. Its Chevy counterpart, the Cobalt, is heading off into the sunset, taking its massive $3,000 rebates with it. Consumers won't see its replacement, the Chevy Cruze, featuring that kind of largesse for some time. Since the Focus is getting a complete revitalization for 2012, there are money-saving opportunities for buyers on the model this year. Aside from big rebates, dealers may offer bargains or throw in a few extras to keep the current version rolling off their lots. While some buyers are drawn to the latest, greatest technology in a 2012 model, others may think about their wallets first. The massive rebate on the 2011 Focus will reduce its base price from more than $16,000 to less than $14,000. You'll also save at the pump: The Focus gets a maximum of 35 mpg on the highway from its 140 hp, 2.0-liter engine. And, as an option, you can get Ford's multi-faceted SYNC system to mobilize your personal technology.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday's 'American Idol' let the tears flow in epic proportions

Contestants gather for Thursday's episode of 'American Idol' from Hollywood.
With Steven Tyler on his good behavior and no real way for us viewers to sort out our scorecards yet, the star of Thursday's "American Idol" was the salty teardrop.

In the absence of contestants or singing that we really know or care about yet, the cameras turned to television's proven Plan B: crying. Buckets, rivers and oceans of crying.

Winners cried. Losers cried. They cried on stage. They cried to Ryan Seacrest. They cried to each other. They cried in the middle of the room. They cried in hallways. They called home to cry.

You'd think we were watching an audition for Speaker of the House.

Now people always cry on "Idol." But usually there's also some singing. Thursday, the singing seemed to last just long enough for the tear ducts to reload.

To be fair, though, "Idol" doesn't have a lot of choice. These early weeks are tough, because the show has to keep its audience interested between the initial burst of curiosity about the new judges and the point at which the contestant lineup has shrunk enough to feel manageable.

When you're cutting the field from 363 contestants to 168 in 41 minutes of airtime, as "Idol" did, you're not creating bonds or lingering on poignant stories.

You're clearing out bodies.

That's why Seacrest spent most of the night insisting that no, really, seriously, honestly, all of America has bonded with this guy from Milwaukee or this woman from New Jersey.

Couldn't be tighter if we'd been slapping high-fives with elephant glue.

The idea, obviously, is that Seacrest says it enough times, that will make it true.

Idle thought: Does he believe it himself?

No matter.

True, Tyler asked contestant Chris Medina about his fiancĂ©. True, that's a poignant story. True also: If Chris had been eliminated – spoiler alert: he wasn't – America would not have been clinging to his ankles as he left the building.

As with almost any production like "Idol," the size of the superlatives is a good gauge for just how much extra hype the producers think the night needs.

Randy Jackson tells us this year's talent crop is the best ever. Ryan tells us the pressure is "enormous" as the show starts and escalates it to "colossal" at the halfway mark.

A week or three from now, when the adjectives recede, we'll decide how serious to get about this season.

Thursday, "Idol" was still speed-dating, not taking long walks on the beach.

Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn Are Not Dating

It's time to put the Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn romance rumors to rest. E! News reached out to Scarlett's rep, who confirmed that the two are nothing more than friends.

"Scarlett and Sean are not dating-- they have been friends for years," her rep says. "Nothing more, nothing less. They have been talking over the last few months regarding Haiti Relief and Scarlett's upcoming trip to Haiti as Oxfam's Global Ambassador."

Sean, who is 24 years older than Scarlett, is still committed to his work rebuilding Haiti, even a year after the tragic earthquake. He'll undoubtedly be a knowledgeable resource for the soon-to-be divorcee on her upcoming trip to the Caribbean island nation.
The 'Milk' actor can also give some sound advice to Scarlett about going through a divorce. This January Sean finalized his divorce to Robin Wright and reportedly "got taken for one-half of everything."

Despite rumors that Scarlett and Ryan Reynolds were getting back together, the two are legally separated and working towards a divorce settlement. Sources say Scarlett has been devastated by her Ryan's budding romance with Sandra Bullock.
It's time to put the Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn romance rumors to rest. E! News reached out to Scarlett's rep, who confirmed that the two are nothing more than friends.

"Scarlett and Sean are not dating-- they have been friends for years," her rep says. "Nothing more, nothing less. They have been talking over the last few months regarding Haiti Relief and Scarlett's upcoming trip to Haiti as Oxfam's Global Ambassador."

Sean, who is 24 years older than Scarlett, is still committed to his work rebuilding Haiti, even a year after the tragic earthquake. He'll undoubtedly be a knowledgeable resource for the soon-to-be divorcee on her upcoming trip to the Caribbean island nation.
The 'Milk' actor can also give some sound advice to Scarlett about going through a divorce. This January Sean finalized his divorce to Robin Wright and reportedly "got taken for one-half of everything."

Despite rumors that Scarlett and Ryan Reynolds were getting back together, the two are legally separated and working towards a divorce settlement. Sources say Scarlett has been devastated by her Ryan's budding romance with Sandra Bullock.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Larry Ellison Buys Porcupine Creek

One of the homes on our biggest price drops for 2010 list has found its new confirms that Oracle billionaireLarry Ellison has snapped up Porcupine Creek, a 249-acre golf course estate in Ranch Mirage, California, for $42.9 million. This home originally hit the market for $75 million but last fall it had a price cut to $55 million. Ellison already has ties in the area. In 2009 he bought the nearby Indian Wells Tennis Garden and BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament. Ellison also owns property in Woodside, California, on Malibu's Carbon Beach and last year he purchased the Astor's Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

Pourcupine Creek was formerly owned by Yellowstone Club founders Tim and Edra Blixseth before an acrimonious divorce got the better of them and their global collection of properties. Porcupine Creek was most recently in the hands of a holding company related to the Yellowstone Club. Blixseth sold the Yellowstone Club last year to CrossHarbor Partners. Porcupine Creek includes a golf club and golf course, a huge 18,400 square-foot main residence, eight guest houses, a pool, spa, gym and an amphitheater. It has hosted many benefits and charity events and in an email to MyDesert Edra Blixseth expressed hope that the estate might serve that function again.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kevin Smith Lost 65 Pounds After Being Kicked Off Airplane for Being Too Fat

Forget hitting the gym to shed those extra pounds. Just get kicked off a plane for being "too fat" and you'll be so traumatized you'll have to lose the weight!At least that was the case for Kevin Smith. The director and 'Jay and Silent Bob' star told Joy Behar about his 65-pound weight loss in a high-energy interview that led her to ask, "Are you on Amphetamines?"

Last February, Smith was furious when Southwest airlines threw him off a flight from Oakland to Burbank because they deemed him too fat to fly. He took to his Twitter page to express his rage towards the airline. In one Tweet he wrote: "The @SouthwestAir Diet. How it works: you're publicly shamed into a slimmer figure. Crying the weight right off has never been easier!"

Smith told Behar he "spent most of my life yo-yoing in terms of weight" and likes to wear loose-fitting hockey jerseys that no matter what his weight is. "I call up Omar the tent maker," he joked. "Get me a hockey jersey, and he takes all the rayon, all this material... and makes my jersey. It's a whole team I'm wearing! I'm wearing twelve kids on my chest."

He got serious though, admitting to having mixed feelings about losing the weight. "I sympathize far more with heavier people than I ever will with thin-- I'll never be thin," he told the host. "Let's be honest, I've lost 65 pounds, but nobody's going 'I wanna sleep with you!' They're just like, 'Keep going, you look better.'"

He's still furious about being thrown off the flight last year, and "felt at that moment 'I'll lose the weight, but I'm not putting on thinner clothes.' I'm still the same person I was when I was 65 pounds heavier." He added that "sometimes a fat dude has a lot to offer, if [you] can just get past the blubber

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rachael or Martha? Guy Fieri Makes His Choice

It didn't take very long for Food Network star Guy Fieri to decide whose Super Bowl party he'd rather hit up, Rachael Ray's or Martha Stewart's.

"I have to go with my girl Rachael," Guy, who was in Dallas as a spokesperson for Ritz Crackers, told me. "Who doesn't love Rachael Ray? She's one of the most generous, real people I know. Everyone loves her."
Well, everyone except Martha, who famously told Nightline that while Rachael may be popular, her style of cuisine and cook books are "not good enough" for her. "She professed that she cannot bake," Stewart said. "She just did a new cookbook which is just a re-edit of a lot of her old recipes. And that's not good enough for me."

And while Martha sees Rachael as an entertainer and herself as more of a teacher, Food Network star Anne Burrell agrees with Guy. "No one is better than Rachel," she told me at Mark Cuban's amazing Super Bowl party.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Judging Mark Kelly: Gabrielle Giffords Would Want Him to Fly the Shuttle

Give him some credit. Give her some credit.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head on Jan. 8 in Tucson, Arizona, has made so much progress in a Houston rehabilitation center that her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, decided to leave his wife's side and join his crew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, scheduled to launch in April.

And here come the critics, right on time: Mark Kelly is selfish, he's ego-driven, he cares more about his career than he does his wife. How can he even think of abandoning her in her fragile state?

Hey, people! Mark Kelly is going back to work, like thousands of other husbands with sick or injured wives. And – no small thing – he's preserving his sanity. Unless someone you love has been through a trauma as severe as what happened to Giffords, you have no idea what you'd do in that situation.
As a cancer survivor, I have a clue. When you get word that no matter how many surgeries or treatments you endure, you'll probably die in a couple of years, you go a little nuts. And the people you love go right down the rabbit hole with you.

You don't realize it, but you have a movie in your head. It's laying dormant for now, but it can rev up at a moment's notice. The title is "I Am Hurt, but They'll Save Me." The doctors, the nurses, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors and the amorphous forces of the universe will all join hands and fix you.

In this movie, everyone says the right thing at the right time. They listen closely to what you say. You're never lonely. You suffer through some discomfort and sadness, but after a measure of attention and care from professionals and loved ones, you bounce back. You feel like your old self again, or maybe even a little better than you used to be.

That's your story, and you'll stick to it until reality throws a punch that leaves you curled up in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably. I can just about guarantee it: You will feel abandoned. You'll be scared. You'll feel angry, confused and hopeless. You'll envy people who blithely assume their good fortune is a given. Just like you used to.
It's only human. We instinctively turn away from trouble. We descended fromhunter-gatherers, built to fleemore than to fight.

My week in the hospital in 2001 was a blur of flowers and visits, kisses and hugs, a few laughs, lots of pain. And, two days after surgery, the worst night of my life. The day my doctor delivered the bad news on the type, stage and survival statistics of my ovarian cancer, I felt totally alone. My family hadn't yet arrived, and my husband literally didn't know what to do.

What I needed was a husband who would crawl into bed with me, cry with me, stroke my hair, and tell me he loved me more than ever. What I got was a normal man who was exhausted, frightened and desperate for some peace of mind.

I'll bet I'm not the first wife to walk that path. It took me a long time to understand what happened and why, and to forgive. People are not always up to the challenges they're given. It can take years to get up to speed.

But I don't think that's what's happening to Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords. I take Kelly's words at face value: This space flight is what she would want him to do. Everything I've read about this intelligent, compassionate woman suggests to me that he's spot on.

But even if he's wrong, the decent thing for the public to do is let them sort this out in a way that makes sense to them. The catastrophic shooting that took place a month ago is a tragedy for which Giffords and Kelly bear not one scintilla of responsibility. She's a heroine. And a survivor. Mark Kelly did not choose this spotlight. And he's not abandoning her to the winds. He's leaving her in good hands.

Recovery from brain injury can and does happen. Just ask Bob Woodruff, former ABC anchor who was 20 feet away from an improvised explosive device that exploded in 2006. He thinks she has an even better chance at recovery than he did.

There's no doubt that, in a year's time, Giffords will be different from before. Progress may beslower or less complete than everyone would like. But no matter what happens, I suspect Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords will find a way to adapt. Ordinary people do not become astronauts or congresswomen.

Someday Mark Kelly will be able to tell his wife all about his last trip into outer space. Her smiles may be delayed, but significant just the same: I'm still here, I'm still me, I still love you. And I'm still proud of you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jennifer Aniston Tries Out Bra Vibrator for Ellen

Jennifer Aniston certainly just went with it on her Friday appearance on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show!' The 41-year-old actress showed off her sense of humor and openness when she reluctantly agreed to try on a bra vibrator. It's a self-explanatory product that, well, sends vibrations through your bra!

The former 'Friends' star put the two small pads, attached to electric cords, into her bra and let Ellen hit the switch. "OH," she squealed. "Am I getting milked? What's that!"

"Isn't that lovely? This will enhance you," Ellen explained.

"I don't wanna be enhanced!" Jen screeched.

"Yes you do," Ellen joked. Jen was paying a visit to the funny lady's daytime talk show to promote her upcoming film 'Just Go With It.'

Friday, February 4, 2011

Report: Kim Kardashian Unhappy Being Dragged into Halle Berry's Custody Drama

Kim Kardashian might have dated Halle Berry's ex Gabriel Aubry briefly in 2010, but the reality star wants to stay far away from the estranged parents and their ongoing custody battle.

Sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times that Kim is "both amazed an extremely unhappy" that her name is getting dragged into the drama surrounding Halle and Gabriel's 2-year-old daughter Nahla. Halle was reportedly furious when Gabriel and Kim were dating, and her young daughter was exposed to the brunette beauty. But Kim "only saw the little girl once or twice... She wouldn't even recognize Nahla if she saw her somewhere without either Gabriel or Halle with her."

The source also claims Kim has gone out of her way to deny any link to Gabriel beyond a platonic friendship. A friend of the 30-year-old says she's particularly upset because Halle "has repeatedly snubbed her-- both at red carpet and private social events in Hollywood."

Kim has moved on from Gabriel and is dating New Jersey Nets player Kris Humphries. She even hinted at wanting a baby with the star athlete after only a few weeks together.
As far as being not being a positive role model for Halle's young daughter, Gabriel certainly could've done worse than Kim! She recently took a stand against the glamorization of teen pregnancy, knowing that many of her fans are young, impressionable girls. She also deeply regrets posing nude for 'Playboy' and 'W' Magazine. But I guess that sex tape leaked in 2007 might not have made her potential step-mom of the year in Halle's eyes.

I hope for Halle's sake and for Kim that these two can get along. The woman's got enough Baby Daddy drama going on as is. She does not need trouble with the Kardashian clan!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kim Kardashian shows skin in sexy Super Bowl ad for Skechers; Steamy ad to run in fourth quarter

Kim Kardashian will be showing lots of skin in a steamy ad for Skechers

Kim Kardashian will be showing lots of skin in a steamy ad for Skechers

Kim Kardashian will be front and center at the Super Bowl. At least during the commercials. 
The reality starlet will be showing lots of skin in a steamy ad for Skechers after the two-minute warning in fourth quarter, reports AdAge. 
The brand is betting millions that Kardashian can get younger people in their shoes. 
"Kim will be challenging people to get rid of your bad habits and get your friends on board," Leonard Armato, president of Skechers Fitness Group, said. 
The voluptuous brunette signed up to be the spokesperson for the brand's Shape-Ups last November. 
Kardashian loves her 'toning' shoes – whoever makes them. She was the face of rival shoe Reebok EasyTone in 2009. 
She has some tough shoes to fill. 
NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana's Skechers ad during last year's Super Bowl resulted in a 30% jump in sales.

Audrina Patridge strips down to her bikini for Bongo's sexy ad campaign

Audrina Patridge is striking a pose for Bongo for the second year in a row.

Audrina Patridge is striking a pose for Bongo for the second year in a row.
Though her former "Hills" cast mates are nothing but a distant Hollywood memory,Audrina Patridge is proving that she's here to stay.
The reality TV star is stripping down and showing off her best assets in a sexy new ad campaign for Bongo.
Continuing her partnership with the brand for a second year in a row, Patridge dons fashions that leave little to the imagination. The brand's Spring 2011 line has the star flaunting her bikini body in a black two-piece and modeling a variety of tank tops and shorts.

"I am thrilled for my second season as the Bongo girl!" the "Dancing with the Stars" alum, 25, says. "It has been a wonderful partnership and I really love the product. I wear the jeans and tops constantly and can't wait for spring to wear the bikinis on the beach and all of the new dresses, shorts and sandals."

Photographed by fashion shutterbug Tony Duran, Patridge's national ad campaign will debut in March in magazines and billboards. Bongo apparel and accessories will be available exclusively at Sears and Kmart.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Report: Lindsay Lohan Suspect in Jewelry Theft

Listen up, Lindsay Lohan. I know Marilyn Monroe is your idol and all, and she did say "Diamonds are a girl's best friend," but hijacking high-end jewelry is not what she had in mind! reports that cops have asked a Los Angeles judge for a search warrant for the starlet's Venice Beach home. They suspect that Lohan has stolen a piece of jewelry, and investigators told the court they have a video of Lohan wearing the missing jewels. "Lindsay is being accused of stealing high end jewelry, including a necklace," one law enforcement source told Radar. "A search warrant was requested Tuesday at the Airport Court to search Lindsay's house for the item of jewelry in question." If this jewelry is valued at $5,000 or more, the troubled 24-year-old could be charged with a felony. She's still on probation after allegations from a Betty Ford clinic worker who claimed Lohan assaulted her, so any trouble with the law could land her back in court. I'm really hoping this is all some misunderstanding, i.e. Linds was loaned the jewels and thought they were a gift, or some jewelry designer set her up in a shoddy attempt at some free publicity. I'm Team LiLo through and through, but if we're adding theft to her rap sheet, this 'Mean Girls' star gets even tougher to defend. Lohan was released from her court-mandated stint in rehab on Jan. 3, 2011. In her first tweet as a free woman, she wrote, "Today is the first day of the rest of my life." She even shared a quote from Gandhi, saying, "The future depends on what we do in the present," and added her own commentary of "(taking it) one step at a time..." Her dad claimed she passed all her drug tests, and she even sought a sober friend in ex-addict Tom Hardy, both definitely good steps towards staying out of trouble. Stealing jewelry, however, would not fall in the scope of Gandhi-inspired behavior!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rihanna Confirms Topless Pics of Her Are Real

A few years back some scandalous photos of a woman appearing to be Rihanna surfaced on the web. While many assumed the pictures to be real, confirmation was never obtained. Until now.

Thanks to an inquisitive tweet from a breathless fan, we now know the topless pics seemingly depicting Rihanna are actually her.

Earlier today, a Rihanna fan who goes by @PinaRihanna tweetedto her idol, "Heeey boo! What is thiss?" and linked to the sultry photo. Despite the fact @PinaRihanna sends tweets to Rihanna on an almost hourly basis, this one caught the pop star's attention, prompting a reply.

"That would be... ME" Rihanna confirmed, adding, "when I was skinny!"
Mystery solved. Looks like the world owes a debt of gratitude to the tireless efforts of @PinaRihanna, who has since tweeted back at Rihanna 3,764 times.


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