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Updated December 14


The Antilibrary

By Starre Vartan of Mother Nature Network - December 14

If you're a book lover, you know how it goes. You have a stack of books on your bedside, or a bookshelf in your library with a mental "to read" sign on it. Yet you can't stop yourself from adding to the pile. This can lead to feelings of guilt over your new purchases. But I'm here to tell you to stop worrying. What you have is an antilibrary, and it's a very good thing. The term comes via the author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable," Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who is excerpted on the Brainpickings blog. Taleb wrote:

"The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with "Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?" and the others, a very small minority, who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary."

I love this idea that "read books are far less valuable than unread ones." It resonates with me because it's based on the idea that knowing what we don't know is more important than knowing what we do. If you think you already know everything about a subject, you're limiting yourself, cutting yourself off from a stream of information at an artificial point. So a growing library of books you haven't read means you're consistently curious about new information, especially on subjects that have piqued your interest in the past. And that mindset is a great foundation for a lifelong love of learning. We know how good learning is for both our neurobiology and our psychological health as we age. That curiosity also helps us feel young and engaged in our world. So don't despair over your unread books or your partially read tomes. (Yes, it's really OK not to read an entire book.)



Oprah to Be Honored at the Golden Globes - December 14

Actress, talk show host icon, producer, entrepreneur, and media mogul queen Oprah Winfrey is set to receive the 2018 Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Winfrey makes history as the first black woman ever to receive the honor. The ceremony will take place at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 2018 and be televised live on NBC. The HFPA Board of Directors gives the Cecil B. de Mille Award to a talented individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment, Winfrey more than fills those requirements based on her resume.

Winfrey is the fourth black actor to receive the award. Sidney Poitier received the honor in 1982; Morgan Freeman in 2012 and Denzel Washington in 2016. Out of 64 recipients of the award, 14 have been women. The 14th being last year's winner Meryl Streep and the 15th Winfrey. For 25 years, Winfrey was the host of the wildly-recognized, award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show. As Chairman and CEO, she's guiding her successful cable network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, is the founder of O, The Oprah Magazine, and oversees Harpo Films.

On the film side, she received a Globe nomination for her role in the 1985 Steven Spielberg adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. More recently, she received critical acclaim in Lee Daniels' The Butler and produced and appeared in Ava DuVernay's Academy Award-winning film Selma. She also earned an Emmy nod for her role in HBO Films' The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. She reteams with DuVernay in the upcoming Disney's adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's fantastical sci-fi novel Wrinkle in Time as Mrs. Which.



Films Added to the National Film Registry

Rolling Stone - December 14

Die Hard, Titanic, The Goonies and Field of Dreams are among the 25 films that have been added to the National Film Registry, the Library of Congress announced Wednesday. Classic films like 1960's Spartacus, 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1947's Gentleman's Agreement and 1951's Ace in the Hole were also named to the registry, which "recognizes its importance to American cinema and the nation's cultural and historical heritage." "Our love affair with motion pictures is a testament to their enduring power to enlighten, inspire and inform us as individuals and a nation as a whole," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. "Being tasked with selecting only 25 each year is daunting because there are so many great films deserving of this honor."

Director Richard Donner had a pair of films, The Goonies and 1978's Superman, inducted into the National Film Registry. "I thank the National Film Registry for choosing Superman: The Movie and The Goonies as films to be treasured. They are both special films in my life, as was the cast and crew for both. It's wonderful to see them listed among so many great films," Donner said in a statement. New inductee Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan and released in 2000, also becomes the youngest feature film in the registry, supplanting 1999's The Matrix. The diverse class of 2017 also includes music biopics (the Ritchie Valens film La Bamba) and documentaries (Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser), historical documentaries (Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls), animated films (Dumbo, The Sinking of the Lusitania) and home movies (Fuentes Family Home Movies Collection from the 1920s and 1930s). The list...

Ace in the Hole (1951)
Boulevard Nights (1979)
Die Hard (1988)
Dumbo (1941)
Field of Dreams (1989)
4 Little Girls (1997)
Fuentes Family Home Movies Collection (1920s and 1930s)
Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
The Goonies (1985)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
Interior New York Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street (1905)
La Bamba (1987)
Lives of Performers (1972)
Memento (2000)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)
Spartacus (1960)
Superman (1978)
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)
Time and Dreams (1976)
Titanic (1997)
To Sleep with Anger (1990)
Wanda (1971)
With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain (1937-1938)


"Field of Dreams"

2018's Inductees to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

Rolling Stone - December 14

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced next year's inductees: Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, the Cars and Nina Simone will all join the class of 2018. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be given an Early Influence award. The induction will be held at Cleveland's Public Hall on April 14th, 2018. An edited version will air later on HBO and there will be a radio broadcast on SiriusXM. Ticket details will be announced in the near future. Artists are eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first album or single. Radiohead was the only act on this year's ballot in their first year of eligibility, but they didn't make it in. Bon Jovi is the only act in the class to have started after the 1970s.

"It's a Christmas miracle," says Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan. "[We were] guys living the dream, getting on a bus with no guarantees in any way shape or form or anything. It was, 'Let's go out and make this happen.' And we actually did." Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward is equally thrilled to see his band enter the Hall of Fame. The Moody Blues are willing to reunite with original keyboardist Mike Pinder (who left in 1978), and original flautist/singer Ray Thomas, who walked away from the band in 2002. "The spirit is always willing," says Hayward. " I miss them both, particularly Mike Pinder because he was the guy that brought me into the group." The Cars reunited after a 22-year break in 2010 to cut the new LP Move Like This. They had a very brief tour and have been completely inactive since playing Lollapalooza in August of 2011.


Moody Blues

California Fires Have Created a Health Risk - December 14

As the California fires rage, the smoke blanketing the state is putting nearly 1.6 million residents of three counties at risk for lung and heart problems. The fine particles of burned materials in smoke embed themselves into our lungs, causing burning and irritation in the short term, but exposure to fire smoke is insidious, and has been linked to serious diseases and even premature death. Poor quality air from fire smoke can aggravate heart, lung, and inflammatory diseases, causing acute symptoms and hospitalizations. For healthy people, the effects of smoke inhalation include milder problems like burning, wheezing and irritation, but could develop into more serious respiratory infections in the coming weeks. More than 230,000 acres in Southern California have been scorched, at least one person has died, and the Thomas fire is not expected to be contained until Christmas Eve. 

Smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter. Inhaling heavy smoke temporarily changes the way that our lungs work as we breath, which causes the sensations of burning, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. 'The main pollutant we're concerned about is PM2.5, very small particles that can get into the deepest parts of the lungs and cause not only lung, but heart issues,' says Lyz Hoffman, public information officer at the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. To try to mitigate these risks, Santa Barbara county has handed out more than 300,000 N-95 face masks. The masks can effectively block toxic particles in ways that scarves and even surgical masks cannot. 

These very tiny toxins get into the air sacs within the lungs that allow us to quickly exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide as we breath. The particulate matter (PM) can damage the walls of those air sacs. 'When that happens, it can impair the oxygen exchange, and that's why people might feel short of breath, especially those with underlying cardiovascular diseases,' says Dr Charity Dean, public health officer for Santa Barbara county. The air in Santa Barbara is worse right now, after five days of smoke exposure, than it has been ever since the county started documenting pollution levels in 1999. Though most otherwise healthy adults are quite resilient and recover form the effects of smoke inhalation, nearly 450,000 residents there have been exposed. 



"Judy Dench: My Passion for Trees"

Mother Nature Network - December 13

For the last seven years, British actress Judi Dench has been nurturing a forest dedicated to those close to her who have passed. The touching living memorial, tucked within her 6-acre property in Surrey, England, contains native species honoring deceased fellow actors, as well as family members and close friends. Dench, 83, says she started the tradition with her late husband, actor Michael Williams. "Every time a relative or friend died we would plant a tree," she told the Telegraph. "There is one for Stephen Hanley, who performed in A Little Night Music at the National. It's very like him, he was very tall and pale. We have Ian Richardson and Natasha Richardson. It is about remembering and for me it's something that's living and goes on. The memory goes on and gets more wonderful."

Dench's fascination with trees, a life-long interest she says started when she just a little girl, is the subject of a new BBC documentary, "Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees." The one hour special, filmed over the course of a year, follows Dench as she learns more about the secrets of forests with the assistance of tree scientists and historians. As she explains, the experience has made her even more engaged with the wondrous and sophisticated ecosystem growing ever-higher around her. "I will never think of trees as individuals again," she said. "A forest is a very social place. Everyone is sharing and passing on things to everyone else. When I planted trees in memory of my friends I always hoped they would be part of a community, that they would be communicating with each other. And now it's so reassuring to find out it's true."


Judi Dench

Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens, Dead at 62 - December 13

Singer/songwriter Pat DiNizio, who sold millions of records with his New Jersey band, the Smithereens, has died. He passed away just days after indicating via Facebook that he was looking forward to returning to the road. DiNizio was 62 years old and had been recovering from injuries sustained during a fall. Born Oct. 12, 1955 in Scotch Plains, NJ, DiNizio was working in his family's trash-hauling business when he formed the Smithereens with fellow musicians Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros. Starting in 1980, their highly melodic music (almost all of it written by DiNizio) became an FM radio staple and touring favorite. Such songs as "A Girl Like You," "Blood and Roses," "Behind the Wall of Sleep" and "Only A Memory" were radio-friendly and instantly memorable. In addition to his work with the Smithereens, DiNizio had a solo recording career with several albums, and was a frequent performer on the house concert circuit between tours with the Smithereens. His "Living Room Tour" went on for five months and featured the multi-platinum artist performing in fan living rooms. In 2006, DiNizio was the focus of 7th Inning Stretch, an ESPN2 reality special that focused on his recovery from a nervous disorder and attempts to rehab by joining a minor league baseball team, the Somerset Patriots.



Another Ho-Hum Week at the Box Office

Box Office Guru - December 13

In yet another mostly uneventful weekend, Disney's Coco became the fourth film to threepeat at the top of the charts this year while some award hopefuls debuted or expanded with big per screen averages. And there was one big flop. What do Split, The Fate of the Furious, The Hitman's Bodyguard and Coco all have in common? They all led the box office for three straight weekends this year. Coco likely won't be the last film to do it but for now the latest from Disney/Pixar once again topped the charts raking in an additional $18.3M, according to estimates, bringing its total up to $135.5M. Overseas the film added $55.3M bringing its international total to $254M and its worldwide numbers up to $390M.

Leveling off a little from last weekend's 60% decline was Justice League which took in an estimated $9.6M bringing its total up to $212M. With it, Warner Brothers crossed the $2B mark this year led of course by Wonder Woman. Internationally, Justice League added $15.4M bringing its overseas totals to over $400M and its worldwide cume to over $610M. Weird to think that those numbers would be considered disappointing. Lionsgate remained in third place with its surprise hit of the season, Wonder, which took in an estimated $8.5M this weekend, bringing its total up over the magical $100M mark.

Expanding into 840 theaters from distributor A24 was the James Franco-led The Disaster Artist which made an estimated $6.4M for a per screen average of $7,661, best in the top 10. With exceptional reviews and it being award season and all, the film could do pretty well over the upcoming weeks. Debuting with disastrous results in 10th place was the action-comedy Just Getting Started starring Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones. The film made an estimated $3.1M from 2,146 theaters for a per screen average of $1,483. With a Rotten Tomatoes grade of 9% and a CinemaScore of only a C, this will be streaming shortly.

A bunch of award hopefuls debuted or expanded this weekend with positive results. Guillermo del Toro's fantasy-romance The Shape of Water expanded to 41 theaters and took in an estimated $1.1M for a per screen average of 26,829. Best Actor frontrunner Gary Oldman's Darkest Hour added 49 screens (bringing the total to 53) and took in $777K for a per screen average of $14,660. Call Me by Your Name continued to sizzle in limited release taking in an estimated $291K from 9 theaters for a per screen average of $32,345. And debuting on four screens with the best average on the charts was I, Tonya which raked in an estimated $245K for a per screen average of $61,401.



U2 Logs Their 8th Number One Album - December 13

U2 achieves its eighth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as the rock band's new Songs of Experience debuts atop the tally. The set bows with 186,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Dec. 7, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 180,000 were in traditional album sales. Songs of Experience nets the biggest week for a rock album in 2017, both in terms of overall units, as well as album sales. The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Songs of Experience's debut benefits from a concert ticket/album bundle sale redemption promotion in association with the act's 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour, which begins in May.

Songs of Experience is a companion album to the band's last studio effort, 2014's Songs of Innocence. The latter title was initially released as a free download exclusively through Apple's iTunes program on Sept. 9, 2014, but was not eligible to chart until it was commercially released on Oct. 14. In its first tracking week of sales, it sold 28,000 copies, and debuted and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. U2 last topped the Billboard 200 with 2009's No Line on the Horizon, which bowed with 484,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen Music. (The Billboard 200 transitioned to a consumption units-ranked tally in late 2014.)

At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Chris Stapleton bows with his second studio effort of 2017, From a Room: Volume 2. It starts with 125,000 units, of which 116,000 were in pure album sales. It follows From a Room: Volume 1, which also opened (and peaked) at No. 2 (on the list dated May 27), with 219,000 units, of which 202,000 were in traditional album sales. Stapleton is the first country act to notch two top-two charting albums in a calendar year on the Billboard 200 since 2013. That year, Luke Bryan claimed a pair of No. 1s with Spring Break… Here to Party and Crash My Party.

Taylor Swift's Reputation slides to No. 3 on the new Billboard 200, after three weeks at No. 1. In its fourth week, the set collected 112,000 units (down 24 percent), with 70,000 of that figure in album sales (down 47 percent). The album's SEA units rally by 344 percent (to 34,000 units) following the entire set's release to streaming services on Dec. 1. Previously, only the album's four pre-release tracks were available to stream. Ed Sheeran's Divide climbs one rung to No. 4 (up 64 percent), with gains in album sales (19,000; 17 percent), TEA units (22,000; up 163 percent) and SEA units (27,000 units; up 61 percent). The set gains in the wake of the Nov. 30 release of the album's new remix of its song "Perfect," which is now a duet with Beyoncé.

Pentatonix's A Pentatonix Christmas dips from No. 2 to No. 5 (down 5 percent), while Demi Lovato's Tell Me You Love Me (which debuted at its No. 3 peak in October) vaults from No. 21 to No. 6 with 63,000 units (up 168 percent), of which 46,000 were in traditional album sales (up 340 percent). Lovato's album sales benefit from a concert ticket/album bundle sale redemption promotion with Lovato's upcoming tour with DJ Khaled. Sam Smith's The Thrill of It All falls from No. 3 to No. 7 on the Billboard 200 (down 24 percent), while Michael Bublé's Christmas climbs from No. 9 to No. 8 (up 24 percent). Miguel's new War & Leisure bows at No. 9 with 40,000 units (16,000 in album sales), marking the R&B singer-songwriter's third top 10 effort. Rounding out the top 10 is Garth Brooks' The Anthology: Part I, The First Five Years, which falls from No. 4 to No. 10.


"Songs of Experience""From a Room Pt. 2"

New Jersey Cancels Snowball Fight Due to Snow - December 10

The Saturday snowstorm took a while to get started in New Jersey but quickly coated grass and highways. Route 195 is the dividing line for snow amounts of 2-4 inches north of the interstate and 3-5 inches south, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow. Snow was falling at varying intensities in every county of the state by 11:30 a.m. "I think it's also a good idea to proclaim what this storm will not bring to New Jersey. No coastal flooding. No beach erosion. Little to no icing. Few to no power outages. No ferocious winter winds (it will be breezy though). No extreme cold (it will be chilly though)," Zarrow said. Speed limits on the entire lengths of both the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway was reduced to 45 mph. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson closed the park for the day and canceled their scheduled attempt to break the record for world's largest snowball fight. "The safety of our guests and team members is our top priority," park spokeswoman Kristin Fitzgerald said.


snowball fight

"Jessica Jones" Season 2 Gets a Release Date - December 10

Marvel's favorite super-strong, smart-mouthed, whiskey-loving private investigator is coming back. Netflix's acclaimed Marvel's Jessica Jones has set a premiere date for the second season on March 8, 2018. The Peabody-winning series made a video announcement of the premiere date on social media. All 13 episodes will drop on the streaming giant at 12:01 AM on March 8, 2018.

The 55-second video tease hangs itself on the fact that the titular superhero-turned-badass investigator is "getting back to unfinished business." Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is beginning to put her life back together after murdering her tormenter, Kilgrave. Now known throughout the city as a super-powered killer, a new case makes her reluctantly confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past to explore the reasons why. Marvel's Jessica Jones is part of Netflix's live-action TV-verse of Marvel's street-level heroes, the others being Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. All of which led to the ultimate team-up: Marvel's The Defenders. The four series also paved the way for the latest Netflix Marvel series, The Punisher.

Ritter is joined by returning cast members Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker), Carrie-Anne Moss (Jeri Hogarth), Eka Darville (Malcolm Ducasse) and new cast members Janet McTeer and J.R. Ramirez, among others.


Jessica Jones

That Lying Sack of Shit in the White House

by Bella DePaulo of the Washington Post - December 10

I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people's. In research beginning in the mid-1990s, when I was a professor at the University of Virginia, my colleagues and I asked 77 college students and 70 people from the nearby community to keep diaries of all the lies they told every day for a week. They handed them in to us with no names attached. We calculated participants' rates of lying and categorized each lie as either self-serving (told to advantage the liar or protect the liar from embarrassment, blame or other undesired outcomes) or kind (told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else).

At The Washington Post, the Fact Checker feature has been tracking every false and misleading claim and flip-flop made by President Trump this year. The inclusion of misleading statements and flip-flops is consistent with the definition of lying my colleagues and I gave to our participants: "A lie occurs any time you intentionally try to mislead someone." In the case of Trump's claims, though, it is possible to ascertain only whether they were false or misleading, and not what the president's intentions were. (And while the subjects of my research self-reported how often they lied, Trump's falsehoods were tallied by The Post.) I categorized the most recent 400 lies that The Post had documented through mid-November in the same way my colleagues and I had categorized the lies of the participants in our study.  

The college students in our research told an average of two lies a day, and the community members told one. A more recent study of the lies 1,000 U. S. adults told in the previous 24 hours found that people told an average of 1.65 lies per day; the authors noted that 60 percent of the participants said they told no lies at all, while the top 5 percent of liars told nearly half of all the falsehoods in the study.

In Trump's first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post's tally. That's about six per day, far higher than the average rate in our studies. And of course, reporters have access to only a subset of Trump's false statements, the ones he makes publicly, so unless he never stretches the truth in private, his actual rate of lying is almost certainly higher. That rate has been accelerating. Starting in early October, The Post's tracking showed that Trump told a remarkable nine lies a day, outpacing even the biggest liars in our research. But the flood of deceit isn't the most surprising finding about Trump.

My colleagues and I found it easy to code each of our participants' lies into just one category. This was not the case for Trump. Close to a quarter of his false statements (24 percent) served several purposes simultaneously. Nearly two-thirds of Trump's lies (65 percent) were self-serving. Examples included: "They're big tax cuts, the biggest cuts in the history of our country, actually" and, about the people who came to see him on a presidential visit to Vietnam last month: "They were really lined up in the streets by the tens of thousands." 

Slightly less than 10 percent of Trump's lies were kind ones, told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else. An example was his statement on Twitter that "it is a 'miracle' how fast the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were able to find the demented shooter and stop him from even more killing!" In the broadest sense, it is possible to interpret every lie as ultimately self-serving, but I tried to stick to how statements appeared on the surface. [Trump always lashes out when he's cornered. He told me so years ago.]

The most stunning way Trump's lies differed from our participants', though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump's lies were hurtful or disparaging. For example, he proclaimed that John Brennan, James Clapper and James Comey, all career intelligence or law enforcement officials, were "political hacks." He said that "the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close." Talking about green card applicants, he insisted that other "countries, they don't put their finest in the lottery system. They put people probably in many cases that they don't want." And he claimed that "Ralph Northam, who is running for Governor of Virginia, is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities." 

The Trump lies that could not be coded into just one category were typically told both to belittle others and enhance himself. For example: "Senator Bob Corker 'begged' me to endorse him for reelection in Tennessee. I said 'NO' and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement)." The sheer frequency of Trump's lies appears to be having an effect, and it may not be the one he is going for. A Politico/Morning Consult poll from late October showed that only 35 percent of voters believed that Trump was honest, while 51 percent said he was not honest. (The others said they didn't know or had no opinion.) Results of a Quinnipiac University poll from November were similar: Thirty-seven percent of voters thought Trump was honest, compared with 58 percent who thought he was not. 

By telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own, we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.



Native American Actor Steve Reevis Dead at 55 - December 9

Actor Steve Reevis, who had supporting roles in the movies "Fargo" and "Last of the Dogmen," has died. He was 55. Reevis died December 7 at a hospital in Missoula, Montana. No cause of death was given. Reevis grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation. He graduated from South Dakota's Flandreau Indian School and attended Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas, where he received a degree in arts. Reevis also appeared in the movies "Dances With Wolves" and the 2005 version of "The Longest Yard" and acted in several television episodes, including "Walker, Texas Ranger," ''Jag" and "Bones."


Steve Reevis

DC "Shake Up" in Works After Failure of Justice League

Variety - December 9

Warner Bros. is planning a shake-up and restructuring of its DC Films operation following the box office disappointment of "Justice League," Variety has learned. Jon Berg will be leaving his current job running the comic book's film production division, according to several sources with knowledge of the studio's plans. A search is underway for his replacement. Berg will instead become a production partner with Roy Lee, the producer of "The Lego Movie" and "It," who has a deal on the lot. "This is something that Jon approached me about six months ago, and he expressed his goal was to ultimately be a producer at the studio," Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby Emmerich said in a statement to Variety. "I first met Jon when, as a producer, he brought 'Elf' to New Line, which remains one of the best and most evergreen titles in the library. We're thrilled that Jon is partnering with Roy and anticipate their company being a valuable source of movies for Warner Bros. and New Line." The DC overhaul is expected to happen by January.


"Justice League"

"Big Little Lies" Renewed for Season 2 by HBO - December 9

Big Little Lies, one of 2017's most acclaimed television series, will make an unexpected return as HBO announced Friday that Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman have signed up to reprise their roles and executive produce the show's second season. The show, based on Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel of the same name, was initially planned as a limited series. However, the show's Emmy-winning success (it won eight Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series) and cult status led HBO and series creator David E. Kelley to explore a second season, even without a novel to guide the characters. "It gives us the opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of these intriguing and intricate Monterey families and bring more of their stories back to the audience who embraced and championed them," Witherspoon said in a statement (via Variety). Kidman added, "This is inspired by the overwhelming response by audiences around the world… What a journey this has been. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to keep exploring these female characters and make this series with my friends."

While the majority of the Season One cast will return, there will be one change behind the camera as filmmaker Andrea Arnold takes over for Jean-Marc Vallee, who won an Emmy for directing the entirety of Big Little Lies' seven episodes. "I'm beyond excited to be working with talented and acclaimed director Andrea Arnold who will be at the helm. Andrea's unique storytelling style will be a welcome addition to the filmmaking team," Witherspoon said. HBO promises that the series' second season will find the characters navigating "the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting."


"Big Little Lies"

Brendan Dassey Will Stay in Jail - December 9

A Wisconsin inmate featured in the Netflix Making a Murderer series will stay in prison after a federal appeals court overturned a ruling that could have freed him. Brendan Dassey had claimed that he was tricked into confessing that he helped his uncle rape and kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005. However, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 4-3 ruling that the findings by a Wisconsin state court that he participated were "reasonable," even thought one dissenting judge said the case was "a profound miscarriage of justice." Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for his role in the Halbach murder. The 7th Circuit said in a 39-page ruling that although it was not unreasonable to debate whether Dassey's confession was voluntary, as the state court ruled, their finding was reasonable.

Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner strongly disagreed. "His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison," she wrote in her dissent. "I view this as a profound miscarriage of justice." Also dissenting was Chief Judge Diane P. Wood. "Without this involuntary and highly unreliable confession, the case against Dassey was almost nonexistent," she wrote. A federal magistrate judge overturned Dassey's conviction last year on the grounds that his age (he was 16 at the time of confession) and learning disabilities allowed detectives to take advantage of him. A three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit upheld the magistrate's ruling in June. But Wisconsin prosecutors asked for a review by the full 7th Circuit, which came back with a different decision Friday. Dassey's attorneys, Laura Nirider and Robert Drizin, said they were "profoundly disappointed" and would petition the U.S. Supreme Court on his behalf.



Bye-Bye Bada-Bing - December 8

Nobody knew nuttin' today at a Lodi, NJ, strip club made famous by The Sopranos, as media inquiries poured in following word from the state attorney general that the club must close. Satin Dolls, the strip club that served as the fictional "Bada Bing" in the HBO series that ran from 1999-2007, is one of two North Jersey go-go bars that have until December 17 to cease their live entertainment, according to an report. The clubs must close for alleged violations of state laws, according to a statement from Christopher Porrino, the Attorney General. The Route 17 club and A.J.'s Gentleman's Club in Secaucus must sell or transfer their liquor licenses to a third party no later than January 3, according to Porrino and the NJ Division of Alcohol Beverage Control. Reports indicate the owners, identified as members of the Cardinalle family, have been under state investigation for more than six years, Porrino said.

The Bada Bing club was a frequent scene in the HBO series, serving as an unofficial clubhouse for the Soprano family. It was also featured in one of the climactic scenes of the series, with club owner Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) gunned down in the parking lot. "The division has alleged that Anthony Cardinalle, who was criminally disqualified from maintaining involvement with the clubs' operations, nonetheless continued to run the businesses," Porrino said. "The division also alleges that the owners failed to account for large amounts of cash flowing in and out of the businesses." Cardinalle was indicated by the federal authorities in January, 2013 for his alleged participation in a conspiracy with the Genovese crime family. The conspiracy involved the NY-NJ waste-disposal industry, ironically the public profession held by fictional mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) on the Emmy-winning series.

Despite a guilty plea by Cardinalle in December 2013 to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit extortion that resulted in 30 days in jail, a fine and restitution, the ABC division contended it had unspecified evidence Anthony Cardinalle continued to run the clubs. Part of the evidence included Cardinalle identifying himself as an owner to the Lodi police following a 2015 robbery at Satin Dolls by the world's dumbest crooks. "The Cardinalles may have wanted to keep the business in the family, but that's not how it works. Their continued flouting of alcoholic beverage control laws cannot and will not be tolerated," Porrino said. "Illegal activity was glorified at the 'Bada Bing' in the fictional world of Tony Soprano, but it has no place in modern-day New Jersey," he said. "It's time to shut it down."


Bada Bing

B-Movie Actor Conrad Brooks Dead at 86 - December 7

It's a sad day indeed for fans of Ed Wood and classic horror in general as word has come through various sources on social media that character actor Conrad Brooks has passed on. He was 86. Brooks had a long and prolific career which began in 1953 in an uncredited roll in William Beaudine's Jalopy opposite Bowery Boy Leo Gorcey. From there that same year he began a long-lasting relationship with B-movie maven Ed Wood, Jr., appearing in such classics as Glen or Glenda, Jailbait, Night of the Ghouls, Bride of the Monster, and most famously, Plan 9 from Outer Space. He also came full circle by appearing in 1994's Ed Wood from director Tim Burton. With well over 100 roles under his belt, Conrad worked up until his passing with several projects still filming including Revenge of the Devil Bat, Don't Let the Devil In, Darkness Waits, and Abaddon.


Conrad Brooks

Why You Don't Want to Stick Your Hands in Holes of Trees

Mother Nature Network - December 7

Andrew Snyder, a doctoral student in the University of Mississippi's biology department, was walking through the jungles of Potaro Plateau in Guyana at night. Snyder was tasked with locating reptiles and amphibians, senses alert for any gleam of scales or eyes as his flashlight swiped over the rainforest. During one such swipe, Snyder's torch glanced off a glint of blue from the inside of a rotted tree stump. Snyder dismissed the blue at first, assuming it was the eye of a spider. It turns out he was half-right.

"The blue that my light beam illuminated in fact was not the eye shine of a spider, but rather the forelimbs of a small tarantula. I have spent years conducting surveys in Guyana and have always paid close attention to the tarantula species. I immediately knew that this one was unlike any species I have encountered before," Snyder writes for the Global Wildlife Conservation blog, one of the organizers of the expedition.

The tarantula sports a cobalt sheen on its legs, pincers and abdomen, according to Snyder, and the tree stump he found also housed other spiders living in more holes. Snyder sent news of his find to a colleague who studies tarantulas, and describes the response as "beyond palpable." Snyder says that's when he "knew that this tarantula was something special." Until a more formal description and study of the spider can be conducted, Snyder says this potentially new species "should stand as a beacon for invertebrate conservation in Guyana."



The Silence Breakers - December 6

TIME has named the Silence Breakers, the individuals who set off a national reckoning over the prevalence of sexual harassment, as its 2017 Person of the Year. The magazine's editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal revealed the selection Wednesday on TODAY along with the cover, a composite group photo that includes actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler and a woman whose face cannot be seen. "The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover … along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s," Felsenthal said in a statement. The Silence Breakers emerged amid burgeoning allegations of sexual misconduct and assault by film executive Harvey Weinstein. As his list of accusers swelled, so did the number of people who spoke up to expose dozens of other famous individuals in Hollywood, politics, journalism and other industries as sexual predators.

Actor Kevin Spacey, journalist Charlie Rose, comedian Louis CK and U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota were among the high-profile names snared in an ever-growing web of alleged sexual harassers. Last week, former TODAY anchor Matt Lauer was also accused of sexual misconduct. The women, and men, who broke their silence to share their stories of victimization gave traction to the #MeToo campaign, which took off on social media and fueled a worldwide discussion on just how endemic sexual harassment has been.



Sally Field's Memoir "In Pieces" Out in Fall 2018 - December 6

Grand Central Publishing has acquired Sally Field's upcoming memoir In Pieces, a book described as the actress's first extensive discussion of her private life and childhood. Field says the book is "about the little girl that I was, about the teenager who backed into becoming a celebrity, and about the craft that taught me to stand on my feet, a craft that helped me find my way out of a complicated childhood." Millicent Bennett, GCP's Executive Editor, acquired the North American rights from Molly Friedrich of The Friedrich Agency. In Pieces will be published in hardcover print, e-book and audio editions in the Fall of 2018. "I have been a lifelong fan of Sally Field's work on the stage and screen, and it was a thrill to discover that her talents extend deep into the craft of writing, as well," said Bennett said. "Told in her own appealing, unforgettable voice, this is a raw, gorgeous, and moving account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century."

GCP says Field has been writing the memoir for more than five years, and the memoir will mark the first time the actress extensively discusses her private life. Born in Pasadena, California and raised in a show-business family, Field began her career in 1964 in the television series Gidget. Her extensive credits range from that early TV role through Oscar winning turns in Places of the Heart and Norma Rae. She recently starred in the indie hit Hello, My Name is Doris. She received an Emmy Award for her role as Nora Walker on ABC's Brothers & Sisters.


Sally Field

A "Knitted-Straightjacket for the Winter" - December 6

Consider yourself a person of bold fashion choices AND have 210 pounds ($280) to spare? In that case, the tube scarf created by Bulgarian knitwear designer label Dukyana could be just the winter pick for you. Beware, though: this piece of woolen clothing has no arm holes and is really a beige mohair tube that covers the entire body from the neck down, folding over the shoulders. Lots of people have lots to say about this product, some declaring that it resembles a giant sock. Dukyana is the trade name chosen by a Bulgarian woman called Milena Bunalova, who offers the clothes knitted by herself and her five-member team through third-party retailers and her own website. According to the label, the tube scarf (or sock dress or however you choose to describe it) is a fashion statement.

Dukyana hopes the creation will become a hit this winter and sees it as an excellent solution for ladies who favor long walks out in the chilly air. The label also says that the fashion article does not stretch and hugs a woman's body tightly. For all the assurances from Dukyana, shoppers can't quite see the attraction, as the Daily Mail writes. The armless design is one of the gripes people have, saying the garment could pass for a giant sock but not a dress or a scarf. It also makes the outfit totally unsuitable for its intended purpose, that is, long walks in the open. On top of that, some critics say it makes women look shapeless, not to mention that the fabric gathers in places where no female wants any unsightly wrinkles. "This is a knitted straitjacket… for the winter," as one person commented online.



Depeche Mode Outselling Ed Sheeran and Bieber Combined - December 6

British pop group Depeche Mode, that's never released a No. 1 song in the U.S., is selling more concert tickets than some of the biggest names in the business. The band has astonishingly outdone people such as Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber after selling 1.27 million tickets through the first nine months of 2017. They smashed a record in October after they became the first act to sell out four consecutive shows at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The band, who formed in Basildon, Essex in 1980, are on their second tour through Europe and they're later headed to Latin America in 2018. 'Every time we go out and tour, we're playing to more people,' guitarist and lead songwriter Martin Gore, 56, said. 'It's just incredible at this stage in our career,' he said, according to Bloomberg. Depeche Mode, who have been around 32 years, and Liam Gallagher are set to headline the Isle Of Wight Festival in 2018 along with The Killers and Kasabian as the music festival marks its 50th anniversary. The epic event will take place between June 21-24, at Seaclose Park, Newport.

Depeche Mode's Gore said: 'We are looking forward to seeing you at The Isle of Wight Festival in 2018,' according to Team Rock. The band have released a total of 14 studio albums, 10 compilation albums, six live albums, eight box sets, 13 video albums, 71 music videos, and 54 singles.


Depeche Mode

'House of Cards' to Resume Production in 2018 (Update) - December 5

The final season of House of Cards will resume production in 2018 without actor Kevin Spacey. The star had been filming episodes for the sixth season of the Netflix drama but CEO Ted Sarandos has now revealed that as well as firing the actor, the final episodes will be refocused to center on co-star Robin Wright. "We are excited to bring closure to fans," Sarandos said during a conference on Monday, revealing that the 2,000 people who work on the show will get to return to work next year. The final season will be shorter, with just eight episodes. Details of the plot have yet to be released. It's also been rumored that Netflix is seeking to launch a House of Cards spin-off, eager to extend the franchise of their flagship show.

Spacey was fired after allegations of sexual misconduct on the set of the show and off. The streaming giant similarly decided not to move forward with a film starring Spacey as Gore Vidal. The actor was also replaced by Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scott's drama All the Money in the World, leading to last-minute reshoots before the film's release on December 22. Netflix is projected to spend between $7-8bn on original content in 2018. Sarandos revealed that the company will aim to increase animated movies and foreign language productions. "We've been careful to not become a one-brand network." he said at the UBS conference. "The way to do that is having a lot of variety, and executing in multiple genres at a high level."


Robin Wright

Huge Cache of Rare Pterosaur Eggs Found

Mother Nature Network - December 5

The mere thought of giant flying reptiles terrorizing the skies sounds nightmarish, but some 66 to 225 million years ago, this bad dream would have been a reality. Pterosaurs were the largest known flying creatures of all time, and though not exactly classified as dinosaurs themselves, they would have feasted on dinosaurs as snacks. Although pterosaur fossils are not especially rare, pterosaur eggs are. As a result, many questions remain about these winged reptilians. How did they develop? Were they capable of flight as soon as they hatched? Did they require parental care? Did they occupy communal or solitary nests?

Now, in what's being heralded as a "world-class find," paleontologists in China have unearthed the largest cache of pterosaur eggs ever found: at least 215 miraculously three-dimensional eggs, 16 of which contain the remains of embryos. Previous to this discovery, only six three-dimensional eggs had ever been found. It's nothing short of a pterosaur egg bonanza, and paleontologists are beside themselves. Perhaps the most arousing aspect of the find are those 16 eggs with embryonic remains. Researchers have enough embryos to observe cross-sections and study growth rates. All of those pterosaur mysteries are on the verge of being solved. The nature of the discovery also seems to indicate that pterosaurs. or, at least, the species of pterosaur represented by these eggs, were communal nesters, kind of like penguins. Either that, or they laid their eggs in huge clutches like sea turtles.

Although research into the embryos is still ongoing, early indications seem to suggest that pterosaur hatchlings had under-developed wings, meaning that they couldn't fly immediately after hatching. If this is true, they may have required parental care until they were ready to fly. Pterosaurs were also the first vertebrates to take to the air with sustained flight, and they branched into many different species, some aircraftlike in size, some just the size of sparrows. They also varied in appearance. For instance, some had long, pointy snouts, while others boasted wild and crazy crests that may have been used for mating displays. The species represented by this find, Hamipterus tianshanensis, had a wingspan of about 11 feet and likely spent long periods of time flying at sea, feasting on fish. As of yet, H. tianshanensis shows no evidence of having possessed feathers, so they would have truly looked like winged, scaled reptilians. The research was published in the journal Science.



How the Brain Keeps Time - December 5

Whether it's playing the piano or swinging a tennis racket, timing is critical for a number of activities. Now, scientists believe they have discovered the key mechanism in the brain that controls this precise timing. Their findings suggest that timing is controlled by neurons that compress or stretch out the steps they take to generate a behaviour at a specific time. While previous studies have suggested that the control over timing is achieved through a centralised pacemaker, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggest that this may not be the case. In a new study, the researchers suggest that timekeeping instead may rely on the neurons responsible for producing a specific action. Depending on the time interval required, these neurons compress or stretch out the steps they take, to generate the behaviour at a specific time, according to the researchers. Dr Mehrdad Jazayeri, senior author of the study, said: 'What we found is that it's a very active process. The brain is not passively waiting for a clock to reach a particular point.'

In the study, the researchers challenged the theory that timing is controlled by an internal clock. Dr Jazayeri said: 'People now question why would the brain want to spend the time and energy to generate a clock when it's not always needed. The researchers focused on three brain regions, the dorsomedial frontal cortex, which is involved in many cognitive processes, the caudate, which is involved in motor control and learning, and the thalamus which relays motor and sensory signals. They found the distinctive neural pattern in both the dorsomedial frontal cortex and the caudate. But in the thalamus they found a different pattern. Instead of altering the speed of their trajectory, the neurons simply increased or decreased their firing rate. This suggests that the thalamus is instructing the cortex on how to adjust its activity to generate a certain interval. The researchers now hope to explore this mechanism further to understand how our expectations influence our ability to produce different intervals.



Altered Carbon - December 5

The epic trailer for Netflix's Altered Carbon was released on Monday, a world set 500 years in the future where humans live in a dystopian universe. The show, based on the 2002 sci-fi novel by Richard K. Morgan, revolves around human beings who can digitally store their personalities. It begins with an eerie computer-esque narrator as she says 'centuries ago mankind discovered a way to transfer consciousness into a new body, making death a mere inconvenience.' 'Psychasec, live forever in the body you deserve,' she disturbingly concludes. The epic new show has been described by IMDb as a world 'where consciousness is digitized and stored in cortical stacks implanted in the spine, allowing humans to survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness "re-sleeved" into new bodies.' The mega wealthy humans of this universe have the ability to continually upgrade their bodies and essentially become immortal. The ten-episode TV adaptation was announced in 2016 and will debut on Netflix February 2, 2018. 


"Altered Carbon"

Quentin Tarantino and Star Trek? - December 5

Already busy prepping to direct the film he just set up at Sony Pictures, Quentin Tarantino is also planning to boldly go where he has not gone before. Sources said that Tarantino has come up with a great idea for a Star Trek movie at Paramount. After sharing his idea with JJ Abrams (who himself is busy prepping Star Wars Episode IX), the plan is to assemble a writers room of scribes who'll hear Tarantino's take and begin to put together a movie. If it all works out, Tarantino might direct it, with Abrams producing.

While Tarantino has always come up with his own original films, many have wondered what he might do if he took the reins of an existing franchise. He has only done that on television, twice directing episodes of CSI and once an episode of ER. He has spoken about the appeal of taking on one of the James Bond movies, but the hard part of something like that is getting the rights holders to give him a wide creative swath that comes along with a final cut auteur like Tarantino. This would give a remarkable boost to the venerable franchise for Paramount, which is looking to build them under studio chief Jim Gianopulos.

As Deadline revealed last month, Tarantino agreed to make his next film for Sony Pictures. The untitled film is an ensemble that deals with a period in Los Angeles around the time of the Manson murder spree around 1969. He has asked Margot Robbie to play Sharon Tate, and has been discussing two great male lead roles with Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, though he hasn't yet set final casting. Release date is August 9, 2019. That is the 50th anniversary of the death of Sharon Tate, but the description of the picture as a Manson Family pic isn't really accurate, kind of like describing Inglorious Basterds as a movie about Hitler. Paramount declined comment.