Lauren Davis: Play a nightmarish adventure story set in a twisted world that evolved from 'Peanuts' comics (io9)
Mastaba Snoopy [is] a choosable path adventure in which a young Woodsnoopy must navigate the depression-prone landscape filled with nickel-seeking Lucys and the cosmic horror that is Peppermint Patty.
Paul Krugman: The Big Fail (New York Times)
It's tempting to argue that the economic failures of recent years prove that economists don't have the answers. But the truth is actually worse: in reality, standard economics offered good answers, but political leaders - and all too many economists - chose to forget or ignore what they should have known.
Maureen Dowd: Why, God? (New York Times)
When my friend Robin was dying, she asked me if I knew a priest she could talk to who would not be, as she put it, "too judgmental." I knew the perfect man, a friend of our family, a priest conjured up out of an old black-and-white movie, the type who seemed not to exist anymore in a Catholic Church roiled by scandal.
Henry Rollins Doesn't Smoke Marijuana. But He Has No Problem With It (LA Weekly)
If the spread of marriage equality wasn't enough good news for you, recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older now is legal in the states of Washington and Colorado. So far, they seem to be surviving quite well. Perhaps these two beautiful states have concluded that the war on drugs is, for the most part, a racket, and they want to be on the right side of history as this new century rolls out.
Anna Maxwell Martin: 'Loads of women's drama is really dumbed down' (Guardian)
The actor tells Elizabeth Day about the dearth of funny roles for women, dance-offs and why she's only ever spotted in Waitrose.
John Lingan: Bristling Dixie (Slate)
Uncle Walt thought 'Song of the South' would be his masterpiece. Now it's invisible.
Roger Ebert: National Society of Film Critics falls for "Amour"
Michael Haneke's "Amour," which won the Palme d'Or last May at Cannes, was voted Saturday the best film of 2012 by the prestigious National Society of Film Critics. The award, coming on the eve of voting for the 2013 Academy Awards, confirms "Amour" as a Best Foreign Film frontrunner. Other NSFC winners will also draw welcome attention.
Laconic History of the World
This map was produced by running all the various countries' "History of _____" Wikipedia article through a word cloud, then writing out the most common word to fit into the country's boundary. The result is thousands of years of human history oversimplified into 100-some words.
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
David Bruce's Smashwords Page
David Bruce's Blog
David Bruce's Lulu Storefront
David Bruce's Apple iBookstore
David Bruce has approximately 50 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
Michelle in AZ
From The Creator of 'Avery Ant'
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
Sunny and breezy.
To Announce Nominations
For the first time in 40 years, the host of the Academy Awards will help announce the Oscar nominations.
Academy officials say Oscar host Seth MacFarlane will join actress Emma Stone Thursday to reveal the nominees for the 85th annual Academy Awards. This is the first time since 1972 that an Oscar host has participated in the nominations announcement. Charlton Heston was the only other show host to announce Oscar nominees.
MacFarlane and Stone will reveal the contenders early Thursday morning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Sets PBS Record
British period drama "Downton Abbey" scored rave reviews and a record 7.9 million viewers for public broadcasting channel PBS as viewers tuned in to watch a wedding and financial calamity during the award-winning show's third season U.S. premiere on Sunday.
Fans witnessed the wedding of Matthew and Lady Mary Crawley, after two seasons in which viewers were kept wondering if they would ever tie the knot.
According to PBS, the ratings for season 3 quadrupled the average viewings for PBS primetime shows, which usually is 2 million viewers, and nearly doubled the premiere of the second season, which kicked off with 4.2 million viewers in January 2012.
"Downton Abbey," created by British screenwriter Julian Fellowes, has become both a critical success and a cult favorite among its many U.S. fans.
It has won seven Emmy awards and will be going into Sunday's Golden Globe awards with three nominations in major television categories including best drama series.
2012's Top-Selling Comic
'The Walking Dead'
Stilted gaits and mindless shambling did nothing to stop demand for Image Comics' "The Walking Dead" series, with the 100th issue of Robert Kirkman's acclaimed series garnering the top spot as 2012's top-selling comic book.
The book, published by Image Comics, led the annual list of top-selling comics compiled by Diamond Comic Distributors, the Baltimore company that distributes comics, graphic novels and pop-culture merchandise worldwide.
The series' 100th issue was published in July and has been garnering new readers, thanks in part to the ongoing television series of the same name that runs on IFC. In the issue, Kirkman shocked longtime readers by graphically killing off a key character, a development that saw the book sell out and go through three printings because of demand.
Readers were also keen on capes and villains, too, and demand for Marvel Entertainment's "Avengers vs. X-Men," a 12-issue miniseries written by Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by artists John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert, helped the publisher grab eight of the top 10 spots on Diamond's chart.
The only other titles on the chart not part of the superhero dust-up between Marvel's two biggest teams was the 700th issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man." In that issue, written by Dan Slott and illustrated by Humberto Ramos, Peter Parker dies at the hands of Doctor Octopus who, in turn, vows to continue Parker's legacy of good by becoming Superior Spider-Man. The others were "Uncanny Avengers" No. 1 and "Avengers" No. 1, both of which followed the conclusion of "Avengers Vs. X-Men."
'The Walking Dead'
The Montreux Jazz Festival says its founder and general manager Claude Nobs has been hospitalized in a coma due to a cross-country skiing injury over the holidays.
The summer music festival says 76-year-old Nobs fell while skiing and underwent surgery at the university hospital in Lausanne, where he has remained unconscious and requires further testing to determine how to proceed.
A statement Monday from the festival said its planning will continue with its secretary general, Mathieu Jaton, assuming Nobs' responsibilities.
Swiss newspaper Le Matin reported Nobs has been in a coma for two weeks since the accident on Christmas Eve, while he was cross-country skiing near his home in the village of Caux, near Montreux, at the eastern end of Lake Geneva.
Announces Review Of Honors Process
The Kennedy Center is reviewing the way it selects artists who receive one of the nation's highest arts prizes, the Kennedy Center Honors, after a group said Latinos have been largely excluded.
The formal review announced Monday includes Kennedy Center board members and an 11-member artist advisory panel. The panel includes actress Debbie Allen, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Broadway actor Raul Esparza and Joseph Polisi, president of The Juilliard School in New York. It also will include representatives of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.
The center also will form a Latino advisory committee to foster engagement with the Hispanic community.
Filmmaker George Stevens Jr. has produced the honors show since its creation. He helps narrow a list of potential honorees nominated each year by an artist committee with Kaiser and Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein. The Kennedy Center board's executive committee makes the final selections each year.
In December, Stevens said he didn't know whether changes were necessary in the selection process.
Granted Restraining Order
Laurence Fishburne has been granted a temporary restraining order against an ex-convict who claims to own the actor's home and went there on New Year's Day to try to evict him.
The order requires Anthony Francis, whose real name is Mark Francisco, to stay 100 yards from the Oscar-nominated actor and his wife and daughter.
Francisco was sentenced to serve two years in state prison on a cyberstalking conviction in 2010, and court records show he spent time in a state mental hospital for that case. He pleaded no contest to cyberstalking after being found competent to stand trial.
Francisco went to the Oscar-nominated actor's home Jan. 1 and told Fishburne's wife that they were living there illegally. Police were called and based on Francisco's agitated demeanor and criminal history, they advised Fishburne to seek a restraining order, the court filings state.
Fishburne and his wife, Gina Torres Fishburne, have owned their home for 10 years, his filing states.
"Dating Game" Killer
Convicted California serial killer Rodney Alcala, known as the "Dating Game" killer thanks to his appearance on the television game show more than 30 years ago, was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison on Monday for murdering two New York women in the 1970s.
Alcala, 69, already on death row in California for killing four women and a 12-year-old girl in that state, was extradited to New York in June to face charges in the slayings of flight attendant Cornelia Crilley, 23, and Ellen Hover, 23, the daughter of a nightclub owner.
The cold case unit of the Manhattan district attorney's office brought charges against Alcala last year after conducting more than 100 new interviews with witnesses.
A Manhattan judge sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison on Monday.
A professional photographer, Alcala lured his victims by offering to take their pictures, according to authorities.
CBS Reveals Secret FBI File So Competition Can't
Few people were better at digging up secret information than the late 60 Minutes veteran Mike Wallace, and now CBS News has honored that memory by posting his FBI surveillance file online. The network requested the documents through the Freedom of Information Act after his death in April of last year, and either to protect itself or get to the story first, CBS managed to scoop everyone else in the process.
While there isn't anything too scandalous in his background, it's clear that from time-to-time the federal government took an interest in Wallace's stories and what he might be up to. There's a lot of discussion of a trip he took to Cuba while working on a story in 1970. The U.S. government even appeared to have conducted an investigation on his behalf, after a World War II veteran sent Wallace a threatening letter accusing him of being a communist traitor.
In a posthumous lead-chasing tactic that Wallace would have admired, many journalists make it a habit to automatically request FBI files on famous citizens after their deaths - the Bureau won't release files to the media for people who still are alive. And it also gives historians a chance to see exactly what kind of lengths the government would go to keep tabs on non-lawbreaking citizens who they might consider "troublemakers." Whether CBS was worried about the effects of a troublemaking story that someone else could publish about Wallace with a FOIA request, or whether it was straight-up curiosity, reamins unclear. But it seems CBS thought would it be best to beat everyone to the punch in this case, asking the courts for Wallace's info themselves and scooping any other intrepid reporters by putting the best parts online.
You can read the angry letter, as well the FBI memos sent about it, by downloading the documents from the CBS website.
Back - With Hedgehogs
Animal Planet has confirmed that its cherished annual tradition, Puppy Bowl, is back on for another round of gridiron thrills and canine cuteness.
This year's Puppy Bowl will take place February 3 - for those who don't follow non-puppy sports, that's Super Bowl Sunday - from 3 to 5 p.m., at the newly christened Geico Stadium, with 63 pooches vying for glory on the field.
The latest incarnation of the animal kingdom's most-anticipated sporting event is receiving a few tweaks this year. In a first for the nine-year-old Puppy Bowl, the battling canines will be encouraged from the sidelines by a squadron of hedgehog cheerleaders. In another first, new Puppy Cam technology will put viewers on the field with "in-your-face" shots of snouts, tails and paws, while an off-field camera will capture substitutes warming up for the game in a special puppy hot tub. (Three words: underwater puppy shots.)
As always, the game will feature the Kitty Half-Time Show, where kittens will provide a break from the action on the field with an array of acrobatics and gymnastics, culminating in a confetti shower. (Because, really, do you expect any surprises from Beyonce's half-time show this year?)
Huell Howser, the homespun host of public television's popular "California's Gold" travelogues, has died at age 67.
Howser died at his home Sunday night from natural causes, said Ayn Allen, corporate communications manager for KCET. No other details were available.
For years, "California's Gold" took viewers to many parts of the Golden State, with Howser doing folksy, highly enthusiastic interviews and narration in a distinctive twang he brought with him from his native Tennessee.
Howser's friendly interview format was characterized by a gentle inquisitiveness and a love for little stories punctuated by his hallmark exclamations of "That's amazing!" or "Look at this!"
Howser wrote on his production company's website that his show was operated on the premise "that TV isn't brain surgery."
With little more than a cameraman trailing him to little-known corners of the state, Howser's programs didn't have slick production values but drew viewers in with his intimate, conversational interviews.
His charm and enthusiasm tickled viewers wherever he went. When Howser visited the U.S.-Mexico border, he playfully taunted a federal guard by tiptoeing back and forth over the international boundary. In Southern California, he wandered through a grove of avocado trees, exclaiming over a dog's ability to lick the green flesh clean from the fruit's shell - and noting the animal's thick, lustrous fur.
Howser also appeared in such other series about California as "Visiting with Huell Howser" and "Road Trip with Huell Howser."
Howser received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and began his TV career at WSM-TV in Nashville. He hosted a magazine-style series at WCBS-TV in New York City and then went to Los Angeles in 1981 to work as a reporter for KCBS-TV.
In 1987, he moved to KCET to produce a program called "Videolog," the predecessor to "California's Gold," which is aired by PBS stations all over California, as well as Oregon, Nevada and his home state of Tennessee.
The beloved series about California was produced for more than 19 years, and helped launch six other series' about the state.
In 2011, Howser donated his entire catalog of episodes to Chapman University so that they could be digitized, posted to the Internet and made available free-of-charge.
David R. Ellis
David R. Ellis, the actor-turned-stuntman-turned-director of "Snakes on a Plane," has died. He was 60 years old.
Ellis' manager, David Gardner, confirmed his death Monday and said Ellis' body was found in a hotel room in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ellis was in Johannesburg working on "Kite," a remake of the 1998 Japanese anime film that was to have starred "Snakes on a Plane" actor Samuel L. Jackson.
Gardner declined to provide additional details, and no cause of death has been released.
Ellis' directing credits include "Shark Night 3D," ''The Final Destination," ''Cellular" and "Final Destination 2." He also worked on such films as "Misery," ''Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Waterworld." Ellis began his Hollywood career as an actor in the 1970s before moving into stunts and directing.
He is survived by his wife and three children.
David R. Ellis