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MS patient has ‘energy to burn’ after new procedure


Steve Garvie who can now walk without his wheelchair after undergoing Italian doctor Zamboni's neck vein surgery to cure his multiple=


Steve Garvie has “energy to burn,” can bathe himself and rarely uses his wheelchair – a much different picture from just a few months ago.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 10 years ago and desperate for more control over his body, Mr. Garvie underwent a procedure in January that unblocked a vein in his neck – a potentially groundbreaking method of treating MS that was first introduced by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni.

“I’ve been getting better all the time. I’m doing just fine,” Mr. Garvie, 53, said from Barrie, Ont.

The potential treatment is still in its preliminary stage. And as researchers in Canada and around the world lay the groundwork to test Dr. Zamboni’s theory, the doctor, along with Buffalo researchers, will present findings at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Toronto on Wednesday.

Dr. Zamboni’s study on the degenerative condition has sparked both hope and controversy. He believes MS is a vascular condition, caused by blocked or malformed veins responsible for draining blood from the brain, and can be treated with surgery. It is a departure from conventional thinking that MS is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks myelin, a fatty substance that coats nerve cells.

Dr. Zamboni found that in 90 per cent of people with MS, including his spouse, the veins draining blood from the brain were malformed or blocked. But many in the medical community have been skeptical of his work because it is preliminary, with a small sample size, and has been heavily promoted before going through the rigorous research process.

Despite the skeptics, Mr. Garvie and other MS patients have been seeking out the treatment, which involves a simple surgical procedure, angioplasty. A few clinics in Canada offer it, including one in Barrie. Mr. Garvie’s surgery took less than an hour, and just moments afterward he could move his left hand and left leg, which he couldn’t do before.

Patients, eager for a remedy, are also seeking out researchers who are about to embark on studies.

“There has been significant e-mail traffic, voice-mail traffic,” said Ian Rodger, vice-president of research and academic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ont. “There’s been a lot of phone calls that have come into a variety of places, some to my office, some to my colleagues’ office. Certainly in the thousands.”

A team of doctors from McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare and Hamilton Health Sciences has been set up to test Dr. Zamboni’s theory. Another team involves researchers at the University of British Columbiaand the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers will study the veins in the brains of long-suffering patients and healthy people to see if there is a difference between them.

Both teams are waiting for approval from the ethics board, and trying to secure funding before moving ahead with the trials. If all goes as planned, they hope to have preliminary results within a year.

“We’re anxious to get going. But at the same time, this needs to be studied properly,” said Lindsay Machan, associate professor in radiology at the University of British Columbia. “It’s a really intriguing theory that Dr. Zamboni has come up with, and there have been some patients who seemed to have had some really impressive responses.”

Watch video here :

http://watch.ctv.ca/news/w5/the-liberation-treatment/#clip237617

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April 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2010 Summer Movie Preview

 

Toy Story 3

The summer of 2010 kicks off with the return of Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man in the appropriately titled sequel: Iron Man 2. However, once we’ve had our fill of Iron Man, the rest of the summer is nearly superhero-free. The summer’s serving up aliensvampires, werewolves, and well dressed women, but with the exception of Jonah Hex (whose title character, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a household name) Iron Man 2 is providing the only superhero excitement of the summer. Let’s just hope the rest of May, June, July and August’s releases can make up for the lack of unnaturally strong men in bizarre costumes.

1. ‘Iron Man 2’

Iron Man 2© Paramount Pictures
Starring: Robert Downey JrScarlett Johansson, and Mickey Rourke

What It’s About: Robert Downey Jr is back in peak form as the billionaire Tony Stark who, when he’s not partying and/or hitting on women, saves the world as Iron Man. But this time around the government wants to butt in on Iron Man’s action – and Stark isn’t willing to share his technology.

Release Date: May 7, 2010

2. ‘Robin Hood’

Robin Hood© Universal Pictures
Starring: Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett

What It’s About: Originally, this Robin Hood tale wasn’t even going to focus on Robin Hood. The first pitch of the story had the Sheriff of Nottingham as the central character, with the story told from his point of view. But ultimately that’s not what wound up being filmed. Instead, Robin Hood is once again the story of a man who steals from the rich to give to the poor, with Crowe playing the expert archer.

Release Date: May 14, 2010

3. ‘Shrek Forever After’

Shrek Forever After© DreamWorks Animation
Featuring the Voices Of: Mike MyersCameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas

What It’s About: The merry gang of ogres and assorted animal sidekicks return for the fourth – and final? – film of the franchise. This one’s set in an alternate universe (following a curse by Rumpelstiltskin) in which Shrek and Fiona aren’t married and Puss in Boots is a giant orange fluffball who’d rather eat than fight.

Release Date: May 21, 2010

4. ‘MacGruber’

MacGruber© Rogue Pictures
Starring: Will Forte, Ryan Phillippe, Kristen Wiig and Val Kilmer

What’s It About: Inspired by the 1980’s TV series MacGyver,MacGruber follows the exploits of a man who can make a bomb out of a paper clip, sticky note, and empty tube of toothpaste. Okay, so those aren’t exactly what he’d use – but you get the point. In the film, MacGruber comes out of self-imposed retirement for one last job: to protect the world from a stolen nuclear warhead.

Release Date: May 21, 2010

5. ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time© Walt Disney Pictures
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton

What It’s About: Based on a popular video game series, Jake Gyllenhaal shows off his buff – and bronzed – body as a prince (of Persia) who teams up with a gorgeous princess (Gemma Arterton) to keep a dagger filled with the Sands of Time (special sand capable of reversing time) safe from the wrong hands.

Release Date: May 28, 2010

6. ‘Sex and the City 2’

Sex and the City 2© New Line Cinema
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Cynthia Nixon

What It’s About: The lovely ladies who first graced the small screen from 1998 to 2004, and then starred in one of the most successful female-driven films of all time, are back on the big screen in what’s sure to be the year’s most fashionable film. Marriage and children can’t keep Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte down, as the foursome heads off to Abu Dhabi for a little fun and relaxation (and sex).

Release Date: May 28, 2010

7. ‘Get Him to the Greek’

Get Him to the Greek© Universal Pictures
Starring: Russell Brand and Jonah Hill

What It’s About: Russell Brand returns as the leather-clad rocker Aldous Snow in this spin-off from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Jonah Hill’s also back, but he’s not playing the same character he played inFSM so maybe it’s best to just pretend not to remember him being a part of the first film. In Greek, Hill is charged with escorting the unruly rock star from England to the Greek Theater in LA for a comeback concert. Hilarious R-rated hijinx are sure to ensue.

Release Date: June 4, 2010

8. ‘The A-Team’

The A-Team© 20th Century Fox
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Liam Neeson, and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson

What It’s About: And here’s another film based on a once popular TV show. The series, which ran from 1983 to 1987 on NBC, featured four Vietnam veterans wrongly convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Together as ‘The A-Team’, they attempted to clear their names while helping out people in need. The film follows the same general premise but moves the action forward so that instead of being involved in Vietnam, the four soldiers did tours of duty in Iraq.

Release Date: June 11, 2010

9. ‘The Karate Kid’

The Karate Kid© Columbia Pictures
Starring: Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith

What It’s About: Ralph Macchio was the original Karate Kid in a series of films that made ‘wax on, wax off’ a popular saying. Pat Morita co-starred as the oh-so-wise Mr. Miyagi who not only taught the kid how to defend himself physically, but also served up important life lessons. This time around it’s Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s son Jaden who gets to learn how to fight and martial arts legend Jackie Chan who’s doing the teaching.

Release Date: June 11, 2010

10. ‘Jonah Hex’

Jonah Hex© Warner Bros Pictures
Starring: Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, and Megan Fox 

What It’s About: Who is Jonah Hex? That’s a question a lot of non-comic book fans will be asking when the gunslinger who survived death moseys into theaters for what’s likely to be the first film of a franchise (if it performs up to expectations at the box office). Josh Brolin takes on the lead role as the bounty hunter who must track down a dangerous villain out to unleash hell on earth.

Release Date: June 18, 2010

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

The Cast and Director Talk About ‘Death at a Funeral’

 

 The 2007 indendent British comedy Death at a Funeral directed by Frank Oz was the inspiration for 2010’s Americanized Death at a Funeral from Screen Gems and directed by Neil LaBute. Chris Rock fell in love with the original film after catching a screening in a nearly empty theater, and his admiration for that film made him want to remake the movie with a big name ensemble cast. Rock hopes this new version will open up the comedy to a wider audience.

The action in Death at a Funeral takes place at, as the title implies, a funeral. Rock and Martin Lawrence play the sons of the deceased man who apparently went to his grave trying to protect a very provocative secret. Peter Dinklage reprises his role as the stranger who knows the secret and demands to be paid off or else he’ll spill the beans. The huge ensemble also includes Zoe Saldana, Columbus Short, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, Regina Hall, Danny Glover, and Luke Wilson. Together for a press conference in LA to discuss their version of Death at a Funeral, the cast shared why they were so attracted to this remake and what it was like being a part of such a funny cast.

Director Neil LaBute and the Death at a FuneralCast Press Conference

Why did you want to do this film?Neil LaBute: “I guess the genesis for me was twofold. I’d been looking for a comedy for quite some time. Getting people to believe that you are able to do something other than what you’re known for in this town sometimes is difficult. Luckily, the effect in this case was that Chris Rock had seen the movie and wanted to make a [version of it] in the States. He’d worked with me 10 years ago, had a good experience and also had been a director in the last few years, but wanted to act in terms of the production rather than act and direct. So he was interested, knowing that I liked working with actors and scripts.”

“Then I’d also worked with Screen Gems, who were putting the film together. I’d doneLakeview Terrace with them, had a good experience. And so those were an individual and a company or Clint Culpepper, the head of that company, who said, ‘Let’s take a chance on somebody doing something different.’ There’s always been humor, I think, in what I do – sometimes unintentionally, frankly – but I had never done a comedy other than Nurse Bettywhich had humor and scalpings coexisting.”

“There’s never been just a straight up comedy, so it’s an expensive medium we work in. So to get a chance to do something, people have to say, ‘I’ll trust you with $15 million, $20 million.’ So it’s a big amount of trust. Luckily, I was able to come into this and get a chance to work on what is essentially more flat out comedy than anything I’ve done before. So it already existed as an idea and even a script, and I came in at that point where Chris was really the only person in place at that time.”

Is there such thing as “black” comedy and why is the white character driving a Saab?

Chris Rock: “Driving a Saab? That was Neil’s choice. Neil’s in charge of car picking. Is there black comedy? I mean, there’s comedy that black people do. To me, it’s all just comedy to tell you the truth. I consider myself in the same line – – there’s Richard [Pryor] and Eddie [Murphy] and [Bill] Cosby, but I’m also a descendant of George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield and all those guys like that. So I just mix it all up. When I was a kid, we didn’t think Rodney Dangerfield was a funny white guy. We just thought he was a funny guy.”

Is this a record for remaking a film so soon?

Chris Rock: “I saw the movie…one of the reasons I wanted to remake it, I saw it in an art house. I saw it like in a little theater, Angelica, whatever, with like 10 people. Something to me just said, ‘This is like a pop movie. Why is this playing at an art house?’ Me and the other 10 people are laughing our asses off. Have you ever been in a theater with no people, ‘Waaaaa,’ just laughing, because you normally need other people around to get rid of your inhibitions, but we didn’t care. It was amazing.”

Did you think it would take longer to make it, and why did you think it would work with an American sensibility?

Chris Rock: “I just thought the jokes would work in America. I thought you watch a lot of the movies out right now, comedy, we’re not doing a lot of one guy comedy right now. A lot of things are collaborations, something like Date Night right now or The Hangover is like a bunch of people. So I thought the fact that it had a lot of funny parts was perfect for me, not wanting to have to carry a whole movie. And also perfect, something a studio would really be into. So I thought it would work that way.”

Zoe, can you talk about your scenes with James Marsden and working with this crew? Did it influence you?

Zoe Saldana: “No, I don’t think I’m funny at all. I don’t want to be, but I just knew that this was going to be an amazing experience. Everything about the concoction of this project was appealing, from Neil LaBute to Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover and the rest of all of us coming all the way down. Then I remember asking my team, ‘Well, who’s going to be playing the crazy boyfriend that’s high on substances?’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, James Marsden.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God, yes, I’m totally…’ It just felt to me like something I’ve never done before and it was a challenge.”

“I saw the first one and I loved it. I’ve seen it like four or five times. Something about it just felt like, ‘Oh my God, that’s one thing that the entire world has in common, that’s funerals.’ And everyone has a crazy family member. It didn’t matter if it was in England or if it was here in America or whatever. It was still, to me, […]it was going to work and it was hysterical.”

 

When Universal Pictures invited the media to the set of Get Him to the Greek starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, one of the scenes being film contained a bit of a spoiler…scratch that and make it a big spoiler. So rather than ruin any potential surprises, we’ll stick to what’s commonly known about the film.

Get Him to the Greek is a spin-off from the R-rated 2008 hit comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall that was written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller and directed by Stoller. Stoller’s back at the helm of Greek and Russell Brand reprises his role as leather-clad, bad boy rocker Aldous Snow. FSM‘s Jonah Hill is back for more rowdy fun, this time as the guy charged with making sure Aldous makes it to the Greek Theater (hence the film’s title) for a comeback show.

Between shooting scenes, Russell Brand sat down with online journalists (including About.com guest writer Fred Topel) for an R-rated chat to talk about slipping back into his Aldous Snow character once again. Something which, according to Brand, was a fairly easy process. “It’s really good because it’s more fun to play him on drugs because now it enables me to relive the better aspects of my own drunken hell without some of the terrible consequences,” joked Brand.

Russell Brand Get Him to the Greek On Set Roundtable Q&A

You have a bit of a history with drugs and alcohol so did you make suggestions to the script?

Russell Brand: “I think it was written with my personal problems in mind so yes, I was able to bring a lot of that to the script.”

Are you okay with revisiting it on film?

Russell Brand: “Yeah, because I went through all of those years with a crack and heroine addiction I might as well get some money out of it. It cost enough. It was expensive. You get beaten up and go to crack houses. There’s a down beat in a crack house.”

How does a music performance differ from doing stand up comedy?

Russell Brand: “It differs almost entirely because as a music performer you stand on the stage saying, ‘Look at me. Look at me. F–k me I’m so sexy.’ As a comedian, you stand on stage saying, ‘Oh, this awful thing happened. I banged my leg. Don’t look at me.’ There is a bit of embarrassment and humiliation. Whereas a musical performance is about self-grandization.”

You did a song in Sarah Marshall but did you know you were going to have to do a musical as Aldous Snow?

Russell Brand: “No, that would have been madly presumptuous. I’m more than grateful to have had the opportunity to do this.”

What’s your favorite song that you’ve recorded?

Russell Brand: “‘Bangers, Beans and Mash’ written by Jason Segel. The title of the song is neither a euphemism for sex nor an English dish, both of which Jason is unaware of I imagine because otherwise why would have written it? You don’t eat bangers, beans and mash. You don’t want ketchup getting in the mash. You want gravy with mash and bangers. Also, a working class euphemism for tits is bangers as well so these things play in my mind.”

So it’s a metaphor but it’s the wrong metaphor?

Russell Brand: “No, it’s not a metaphor because it has no reality other than its own very specific notion so it has no comparative of value. It is not a metaphor because it’s just itself. It can’t mean anything else.”

You’ve shot a couple of music videos already. What do you do in the videos?

Russell Brand: “March about the desert pretending to be Christ and sort of bring peace to Africa.”

Were those your ideas?

Russell Brand: “No, I’m too dangerously close to being a messianic figure to suggest things that mock that.”

You’re shooting in LA, Vegas, London and NY. Do you have a favorite city you’ve shot in?

Russell Brand: “I’ve learned over the course of doing this to do films set in my house between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon and where I play a little boy called Russell who wears pajamas and plays with a cat for brief periods worthlessly in broad daylight while being fellated. Not by the cat—hang on, it is the cat.”

Is that a euphemism?

Russell Brand: “No, again it’s literal.”

You share scenes with Sean Combs. Can you talk about working with him?

Russell Brand: “Yeah, it’s insane because he’s Puff Daddy. You know when people are so famous it makes you giggle a bit because you think of things you shouldn’t say and all that stuff? Obviously I’m not going to…”

But you thought about that in the middle of filming?

Russell Brand: “Yeah. ‘Oh my God, there’s Puff Daddy.’ You repress those things. He’s a great joy. He’s a gentle fellow. He’s funny and thoughtful and sweet. He’s been very compassionate. I went away for a romantic weekend to Vegas with him to see Ricky Hatton get punched in the face in a boxing match.”

What’s it like going away for a weekend with Sean?

Russell Brand: “I just felt like the luckiest girl in the world. It felt like a dream, really. Then he popped the question. He’s very lovely. He’s a very hospitable gentleman.”

Can you talk a bit about working with Jonah Hill?

Russell Brand: “Yeah, he’s lovely. He’s a really funny, sparkly individual. He’s young and I forget how young he is. He’s only 24 or 25. He’s incredibly bright and has a clear understanding of what he wants to do. He comes up with good suggestions, and I enjoy the chemistry I have with him. I was really surprised in Sarah Marshall with the short scenes between he and I worked. That’s the reason I wanted to do this film because I was interested to explore that.”

Russell Brand Get Him to the Greek On Set Roundtable Q&A

Did you have any musical inspirations to help you with this role?

Russell Brand: “Lots. Jagger, Keith Richards, Bowie, Morrissey, Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher. I’m friendly with some musicians so I’m able to watch them. They’re very different from comedians. They’re rude—at the least the ones I know. They’re so self-assured.”

Like Keith Richards?

Russell Brand: “Keith Richards is actually a very gentle fellow. That self-assuredness that they have…me, I’m not like that. I’m more…I don’t know. They seem very grounded.”

Did any of their stories help you with this role?

Russell Brand: “I didn’t ransack the biography of my musical chums. I felt that would sort of be like grave robbing. I did lots of characteristics and traits from some musicians I know, like Morrissey or Noel Gallagher for example.”

This set is very relaxed. Is that the type of environment you’re used to working in or are you used to being around more chaotic sets?

Russell Brand: “I think I’ve been very fortunate in my brief career in films to work with people that are kind of cool. I think it comes from Judd [Apatow] down that people are very collaborative. I’ve not encountered people that are hard to work with among this group of people. I’ve done Bedtime Stories and the previous film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, was with Judd as well. I’ve done The Tempest with Julie Taymor and Helen Mirren and that was a different vibe of madness. I’ve never thought, ‘This is an obnoxious and unbearable person.'”

Would you like to do another Aldous Snow film and make it a trilogy?

Russell Brand: “I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t know. What else can I have him do?”

Director Neil LaBute and the Death at a Funeral Cast Press Conference

Funerals are supposed to be somber but often we end up laughing. Have you thought about how you’d like your own funeral to play out?

Chris Rock: “I’m not sure. I think I want all the living Presidents there. Carter, I want them all to be in shorts. Stanley Cup, you know, somewhere around. I haven’t given it that much thought. I want Jay-Z to rap the eulogy. ‘That nigga’ dead y’all.’ Squeeze Oprah in there somewhere.”

Who is responsible for such outstanding casting? What was the criteria?

Chris Rock: “Clint Culpepper. I mean, Clint’s the man. I didn’t know Columbus. I didn’t know James. Clint’s like, ‘They’re in your movie.’ I was like, ‘Okay.'”

Columbus Short: “No one knows me. No one knows me, Chris.”

Chris Rock: “But when we got Neil, a lot of actors really were like, ‘Oh yeah, I definitely want to work with Neil.’ But when people started hearing Martin was doing it, it was like, ‘Oh, yeah!’ It was like, ‘Oh, sh-t!’ Tracy signed up but once Martin got on, it was like, ‘I’ve got to get in there! Don’t do that movie without me.’ Once we got Martin, it was another movie.”

Tracy Morgan: “Well, I get to work, these are my champions right here so it was like for me, this whole panel is like the dream team. I’m playing with Barkley and Jordan, those guys, so I might get a medal. I’ve got my shirt. I’m on the team. When I’m with Martin and Chris, I’m on the team. I might not start, I might not never play. But that’s okay. I’ve got my shirt. I played pro game. So for me, that’s what it was for me. You know what I’m saying? It was the same thing going back to find my inspiration from the gate. From the gate it was just like what first made me want to do it from the jump was Chris and Martin. So now to actually get here and it’s for real now, it’s solidified. I’m in a movie, just for me to be seen, I’m sharing space with these guys so that’s how I feel about it.”

James, we loved your rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Where did you draw your inspiration?

James Marsden: “That was from Chris, I think. That was your addition, wasn’t it? I don’t know, I thought it was funnier if it really was a sincere offering of condolences to Loretta [Devine]. I remember Zoe and Columbus sitting there going, ‘You’ve got a voice, man. You’ve got to go for it.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know if it’s funnier if he can sing. Maybe it’s better if he doesn’t sing well.’ ‘No, no, no. Sing as gospel as you can. Just go for it.’ That was like all right, all right. That on, the last take, became like inspired.”

Being naked the whole movie, did you worry about catching cold?

Columbus Short: “I caught the cold.”

James Marsden: “I gave the cold to Columbus. I gave the cold to Columbus’ cheek. No, they kept it nice and warm on set. They wanted me to be comfortable. Yeah, that was fun. I’ve always said, ‘Nudity’s not a problem for me, but it must be in a comedy.’ I’d hate to be, I don’t know, there’s something uncomfortable about asking for the audience, to be sincere to the audience or have to take it really seriously and get naked. If it’s for a joke, I’ll do it – I guess.”

You never had any doubts or qualms?

James Marsden: “No, because I knew it was funny. I read the script on a flight from New York to LA, and I didn’t know that there had been a British film already made so I just thought it was this great original kind of chamber piece about all the stuff that takes place at this funeral. I just thought the character was rich and I just kept reminding myself of what this guy has to endure unbeknownst to him and involuntarily. It was just always funny to me, so I didn’t think twice about taking it off.”

Tracy Morgan: “Yeah, but you’re built like an Adonis.”

Regina, where do you find your humor alongside these guys?

Regina Hall: “Well, I was very excited to see the movie. I’d never worked with any of these four so I’ve watched all of them, all these three guys literally. I watched Martin every episode. I was like, ‘God, I can’t tell him. He’ll be like, She’s stalking me.’ Chris I loved, Tracy on Saturday Night Live so I’ve been a fan, too. But I have to say they’re really giving and generous, so to work with them was pretty easy.”

Martin, after doing Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, what made you want to do another ensemble comedy?

Martin Lawrence: “Well, my man Chris Rock gave me a call personally and when he first called, I was like, ‘Uh, sorry, Chris. I can’t do that.'”

Chris Rock: “I didn’t have a lot of money when I called him the first time.”

Martin Lawrence: “But then he sent me the British version and I thought it was very funny. Then when he told me it was about playing his brother, I just said, ‘I’ve got to be on board.’ Me and Chris we see each other probably every year and we’ve always talked about working together, working together. He came on the Martin show, I went on his show on HBO. We just finally got a chance to really do a movie together and it’s because he put it together, so I’ve got to give my man the credit for that.”

Martin, how does it make you feel that everyone is drawn to a film with you?

Martin Lawrence: “It makes me feel good. For your peers to respect what you do and respect that you can bring something to it makes me feel good. Puts pressure on me to deliver, but I’ve been doing that my whole career so I look forward to it. I’m very appreciative and thankful to have been a part of it.”

Chris and Neil, is it more or less challenging to remake a movie than create something from scratch?

Neil LaBute: “For me I would say it’s a bit of each.”

Chris Rock: “Yeah, it’s a bit of each. I’ll say this. When you know a movie’s ending works, your life’s so much easier. It doesn’t make the rest of the movie not difficult in parts but, boy, when you know… I’ve remade a few movies and they all have one thing in common: great endings. If you’re going to remake something, make sure that ending was tight. I would say it’s a little less challenging, if you have a great ending. If you don’t have a great ending, don’t remake the movie.”

Director Neil LaBute and the Death at a Funeral Cast Press Conference

Neil LaBute: “You know you’re climbing the same mountain but you want to find a new way to do it as well. You want it to be your own and yet, especially in this case, I think everyone went into it who had seen it really loved it. There was no sense of, ‘Oh, we can make this better.’ It’s just we’re going to make it our own.”

“It’s a whole different kind of family. The temperature was already 80 degrees above where this very reticent English family starts in the original. So if the temperature’s here, we wanted to keep that temperature going all the time, ratcheting up the humor. So how do you find those moments? And take big ensemble people. For me, the only drawback of the original is I think a few people are slighted along the way, some of the actors. I think to a person, those that were slighted in the original have much more to do and are funnier as characters in this particular version. And you have a lot to stand up for because people look at the first one as we do and are appreciative and say, ‘That’s really funny. Why are you remaking it?’ ‘Well, for a variety of reasons.’ So I think you do have that to live up to as well. That is a challenge.”

Columbus and Zoe, you both did this and The Losers. What was the mindset like, the transition from comedy to action?

Columbus Short: “To be honest with you, this movie prepared me so much to do the movie we did because I got to watch these three guys. To be honest, I signed on the movie to work with Peter Dinklage. No, honestly, to watch these three guys work and to go into an action movie, especially Martin with the movie that we made, me and Zoe, is in that vein, an ode to the Bad BoysLethal WeaponDie Hard. And Martin did it amazing, so to watch how he works comedically and his timing really helped me to go into the next project.”

Zoe Saldana: “And just it really helped that we play brother and sister in this movie because we have yet to find out… We’ve been on an inquisition since last year.”

Columbus Short: “We have the same father.”

Zoe Saldana: “We think. We honestly do think that we have the same father. Our mothers just haven’t told us yet. It really helped us because by the time we got to Puerto Rico, then we felt confident enough to push each other as actors. Even though our characters really didn’t have much to do with each other, but we were there as brother and sister sort of off camera and that was pretty awesome, especially at night. No, no, not like that. [Laughing] Guys, that’s it everybody, so nice to meet you all. I mean, in the casinos, you guys. Come on, Puerto Rico’s got a ton of casinos. Oh my God.”

Columbus Short: “Oh God, Zoe. Way to go.”

We’re live streaming.

Zoe Saldana: “Are you? No. Okay, so then you know what, let’s correct that. When I say at night, I mean because after work we’d always go to the hotel. In the lobby it was like the cast and the crew. We would have a drink and sort of just unwind and talk about the day and everything, because we were doing a lot of action sequences.”

Columbus Short: “You blew it already.”

Zoe Saldana: “That’s it. It’s out. Columbus and I are having an affair.”

Back to casting, was this supposed to be a black version of the original film?

Chris Rock: “I don’t know. It’s weird. I mean, I was the lead I guess. I mean, I was Aaron and I’m black. Okay, it’s me, Martin and Tracy. Can you name three white comedians that more white people would come and see? I’ll outsell any white guy. If I said, ‘No black people can go see me next week in LA, I would still sell more tickets.’ So I just consider myself a comedian. I’m a black man and I’m down for the struggle, but I’m a comedian. I’m a comedian. When you say ‘black’, it’s like a movie for a certain amount of people.”

Luke, can you compare this comedy to others you’ve done?

Luke Wilson: “I don’t know, just I like the idea that it was a big ensemble and the fact that Neil was directing. Yeah, you hear that these three guys are going to be in it, it’s just an unbelievable trio. I always think about like a few years ago I was down in the Caribbean. I went to this little island. I walked on the island and everybody was like, “Blue Streak!’ Martin and I had done this movie, everybody down there, that was like their favorite movie. I told a friend, ‘Wait until you see the reaction I get when you walk on this island. It’s likeBlue Streak, Martin, his idiot partner, this is the guy!’ So I thought if I could work with all these guys, I could go back and like run for mayor on one of these islands.”

“No, I just love the idea of working with all these guys, all these people. And a funny part in something, I don’t know if it’s different, but it definitely was a part that appealed to me.”

James, how much was on the page and how much did you create in the moment? Zoe, did anything he did surprise you?

James Marsden: “I had to apologize to Zoe before every take actually because I said, ‘Zoe, I’m sorry but will you just indulge me? I’m going to try something.’ And she said, ‘Stop it, stop it, stop it. You’re on acid. Do your thing.’ The script was always really, really strong and we always went in and did what was scripted because it was great. It was flawless, but I thank Neil for this but he afforded me a certain amount of creative license to have this balance of going in prepared but also allowing yourself to remain relatively obtuse or open to finding things throughout the day. So it was a great environment to go in. I was definitely allowed to find things that maybe weren’t necessarily always there. You had to be open to that to be out there in space like I was.

Director Neil LaBute and the Death at a Funeral Cast Press Conference

Tracy Morgan: “Can I say something too? I’d like to make an announcement. Me and Luke, we’re going to rewrite The Love Boat. We’re rewriting The Love Boat. We’re going to redo The Love Boat. Columbus is going to play Gopher. You’re playing Captain Stubing.”

Zoe Saldana: “I would watch that. I would totally watch that. Going back to your question, the funniest thing that Jimmy did that wasn’t so funny, but it kind of was too, was that the scene where he’s supposed to be completely naked on the rooftop and I’m supposed to open the window and go, ‘What are you doing? Come back inside. Blah blah blah.’ He didn’t give me any warning that he had taken off his pants. So I’m talking with Luke inside and then Neil yells, ‘Action.’ I open the window and said, ‘What?’ I’m just like, ‘Look at his eyes.’ I just kept looking at his face.”

“I could’ve been prepared to know that he was going to be naked so I felt really…it’s awkward. You’re embarrassed, he’s embarrassed and then they yell cut and I yell at him. I’m like, ‘Next time if you don’t tell me I’m going to punch you. I just need to be ready.’ He’s like, ‘Thank you so much. You were such a gentleman. You kept looking at me in my eyes.’ I wouldn’t look down.”

James Marsden: “I wasn’t embarrassed.”

Columbus, James and Tracy, did you really touch?

Columbus Short: “Yes, I really touched his dangle. The thing about it is it’s funny because I’m not going to say any names but Buke Bilson rhymes with who didn’t want to do it.”

Luke Wilson: “It’s not that I didn’t want to do it. I had a charity event that day.”

Columbus Short: “So Neil came to me so, so like cocky saying, ‘Look, Columbus. You wanna, you wanna?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ I’d seen James for a month and a half at that point just making a fool out of himself every day, throwing himself out there. Why wouldn’t I do it? It was aggressive. It was aggressive. Like, ‘Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me.’ I didn’t want to touch you. I didn’t want to be touched and I’m going to be honest, guys, and I’m a completely heterosexual male, he’s packing a nice little [package]. I’m like, ‘Is your mother’s name Juanita?'”

Tracy, was your hand really down there?

Tracy Morgan: “It was. I’m a method actor. It was real poop. It was everything. He ate some pork and beans and franks. Chris and Neil slipped him some Ex Lax so the old man went hard on me. Went hard, you know?”

Luke, how much concentration did it require to play straight?

Luke Wilson: “I’ve worked with funny guys before, guys like Will Ferrell, so you are conscious of trying to concentrate because you never want to start to laugh during scenes, because you will ruin a take. The problem is you get people like Tracy. They see it start in your eyes that you’re going to laugh and then they just start driving you. I would do a thing where if you were Tracy, I’d just kind of look off to the side and be waiting because I’m just waiting for my lines, not even listening to what he’d say just so I could get through the scene. Yeah, you’ve got to focus because these guys are so funny and the script was good and the stuff they’d add was really funny too. So you never want to ruin something.”

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Drug Information Update- FDA Approves Asclera to Treat Small Varicose Veins

FDA/CDER/Division of Drug Information (DDI)

The Division of Drug Information (DDI) is CDER’s focal point for public inquiries. We serve the public by providing information on human drug products and drug product regulation byFDA.


 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Asclera (polidocanol) injection for the treatment of small types of abnormally swollen or twisted veins called varicose veins.

Although they usually occur in the legs, varicose veins also can form in other parts of the body. Factors such as genetics, age, female gender, pregnancy, obesity, and prolonged periods of standing may increase the risk for varicose veins.

Asclera is approved to close spider veins (tiny varicose veins less than 1 millimeter in diameter) and reticular veins (those that are 1 to 3 millimeters in diameter). Asclera acts by damaging the cell lining of blood vessels. This causes the blood vessel to close, and it is eventually replaced by other types of tissue.

For more information, please visit: Asclera

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Blues Album For Beginners

 

 The enormous width and depth of blues music can prove to be somewhat daunting for the new fan. Ranging from early Chicago blues to Texas blues-rock, from British blues-rock to acoustic Piedmont blues, these are the albums that you should start your blues collection with. If this list is a little light on Mississippi Delta blues, it’s not for lack of artistic merit – many surviving Delta blues recordings would sound harsh to ears unaccustomed to primitive recording techniques. Instead, this is a list of blues albums for beginners, those artists and records that will introduce a newcomer to the charms of the blues.

1. Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry – ‘Sing’ (Smithsonian Folkways, 1958)

Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry' SingPhoto courtesy Smithsonian Folkways

The most popular duo to perform in the Piedmont blues style, both individually and together, guitarist Brownie McGhee and harp playerSonny Terry would popularize folk blues with a young, white audience that would go on to innovate the mid-1960s folk-rock sound. Originally released in 1958 by Moses Asch’s legendary Folkways label, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Sing features a baker’s dozen of the Piedmont styles’ most inspired performances, from traditional songs like “John Henry” to original material like “Better Day” and “Dark Road.”



2. Buddy Guy – ‘I Was Walking Through The Woods’ (Chess Records, 1970)

Buddy Guy's I Was Walking Through The WoodsPhoto courtesy Geffen Records

Blues guitar legend Buddy Guy recorded for Chess Records from 1960 to 1967, but it was primarily his role as a session player – adding his talents to recordings by artists like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor – that the Chess Brothers were interested in exploiting. While Guy never had much chart success while at Chess, this collection of ten singles he recorded for the label during the 1960s perfectly frame Guy’s gospel-tinged vocal style and scorching fretwork. Guy would go on to bigger and better things, but this is where it all began….

3. The Fabulous Thunderbirds – ‘The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ (Takoma Records, 1979)

The Fabulous Thunderbirds' The Fabulous Thunderbirds albumPhoto courtesy Price Grabber

Although it would take until their fifth album, 1986’s Tuff Enuff, beforethe Fabulous Thunderbirds would enjoy a modicum of mainstream commercial success, the band’s self-titled debut album (also known as Girls Gone Wild) is a better representation of the T-Bird’s early Texas roadhouse sound. Hitting your ears like a shot from a blunderbuss, nobody could have predicted the heady mix of Jimmie Vaughan’s inspired fretwork (which combined the rawness of Albert King with the smooth-as-silk elegance of Freddie King) and frontman Kim Wilson’s soulful vocals and blistering harpwork. Along withRoomful of Blues, the Thunderbirds laid the groundwork for the contemporary blues band. 

4. Howlin’ Wolf – ‘Howlin’ Wolf / Moanin’ In The Midnight’ (Chess Records, 1962)

Howlin’ Wolf's Howlin’ Wolf / Moanin’ In The MidnightPhoto courtesy Geffen Records

Howlin’ Wolf‘s first album, Moanin’ In The Moonlight, was released in 1959 and gathers singles that he cut for Chess between 1951 and ’59, while his self-titled 1962 album (often known as the “Rocking Chair” album for its cover), featured songs recorded in 1961 and ’62. Put together on a single CD, the songs from Wolf’s first two albums represent some of the artist’s finest work. Backed by the talents of songwriter and studio bass player Willie Dixon and the phenomenal six-string talents of guitarists Hubert Sumlin and Jimmy Rogers, songs like “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Back Door Man,” “Spoonful,” and “Smokestack Lightning” have long since become blues and blues-rock standards.

John Lee Hooker's The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954Photo courtesy Ace Records

The great John Lee Hooker’s discography is a minefield of ill-conceived studio albums, cheapie cash grabs, dashed-off pseudonymous recordings, and “hits” collections of dubious merit.The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 is the real deal, two dozen of Hooker’s earliest sides and the powerful performances on which much of his legacy is based. This is where you’ll find the roots of boogie in Hooker’s primitive, Delta-influenced rhythmic drone, and songs like “Boogie Chillen’,” “Crawlin’ King Snake,” and “I’m In The Mood” would influence everybody from the Rolling Stones and the Animals to Canned Heat and Bonnie Raitt (as well as dozens of fellow bluesmen-and-women).

6. John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – ‘Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton’ (Polydor, 1966)

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers' Bluesbreakers with Eric ClaptonPhoto courtesy Polydor Records/Universal Music

Although he would initially make a name for himself with the Yardbirds, it was only when guitarist Eric Clapton defected to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers that the British blues-rock explosion would be launched. Although he only made one album with Mayall,Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton was more than enough to influence a generation of English youth to follow in the footsteps of “Slowhand.” Mayall allows his guitar prodigy to explore covers like Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” Robert Johnson’s “Ramblin’ On My Mind,” and Freddie King’s “Hideaway,” while Clapton’s contributions to originals like “Double Crossing Time” bring the flavor of traditional Chicago blues to a uniquely British performance.  

7. Junior Wells – ‘Hoodoo Man Blues’ (Delmark Records, 1965)

Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man BluesPhoto courtesy Delmark Records

The first true Chicago blues album cut in the studio (others were collections of singles or recorded live) was also Junior Wells‘ first full-fledged album, and the young harpist pulled out all the stops to make it rock. Hard. Backed by friend and musical foil Buddy Guy (the guitarist is listed as “Friendly Chap” on the original vinyl due to contractual legalities), Wells attempted to capture the sound and feel of a performance at a West Side blues club. The general consensus is that Wells accomplished what he set out to do; the harpist would return to Delmark for the equally raucous South Side Blues Jam album in 1970.

8. Muddy Waters – ‘Hard Again’ (Blue Sky Records, 1977)

Muddy Waters' Hard AgainPhoto courtesy Geffen Records

Although you can’t beat Muddy Waters’ late-1950s/early-1960s Chess label recordings, this 1977 “comeback” album, produced by blues-rock guitarist Johnny Winter, may serve as a better introduction to the blues legend’s enormous talents. Fronting a top-notch band that included guitarist “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin, the great blues harpist James Cotton, pianist Pinetop Perkins, and drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Waters roars and rocks with the energy and vigor of a bluesman half his edge. For ears accustomed to a more rock ‘n’ roll oriented style of blues, Hard Again will provide a gateway to Waters’ albums like Live At Newport 1960.

9. Paul Butterfield Blues Band – ‘The Paul Butterfield Blues Band’ (Elektra, 1965)

Paul Butterfield Blues Band's The Paul Butterfield Blues BandPhoto courtesy Elektra Records

Harp wizard Paul Butterfield‘s racially-mixed band revolutionized the Chicago blues, popularizing the music with young rock fans and introducing the talents of guitarists Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop to the world. This self-titled debut would mix inspired covers of classic Little Walter, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James songs (“I Got My Mojo Working,” “Blues With A Feeling,” “Shake Your Moneymaker”) with newer material, like Nick Gravenites’ “Born In Chicago,” infusing each performance with Butterfield’s soulful vocals and growling harp playing, incendiary guitarwork, and a rock-solid rhythm provided by Chicago blues veterans Jerome Arnold and Sam Lay.

10. Robert Johnson – ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers’ (Columbia Records/Sony, 1961)

Robert Johnson's King of the Delta Blues SingersPhoto courtesy Sony Recordings

In many ways, this is the one that put Delta blues on the map. Pushed into release by the legendary Columbia Records A&R man John Hammond (in spite of the label’s misgivings), this collection ofRobert Johnson’s 1930s recordings provided a blueprint for 1960s blues-rock. A single-CD set includes penultimate versions of blues classics like “Terraplane Blues,” “Cross Road Blues,” and “Hellhound On My Trail,” among others, while a deluxe two-disc set includes alternate versions of these essential early blues records. If you’re looking for just one blues record for your collection, this is the one.  

11. Sonny Boy Williamson – ‘The Real Folk Blues’ (Chess Records, 1965)

Sonny Boy Williamson's The Real Folk BluesPhoto courtesy Geffen Records

With “folk blues” all the rage during the mid-1960s, Chess Records attempted to present its hardcore blues stable of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson to young, white blues fans with introductory collections titled The Real Folk Blues. In most cases, this title was somewhat deceptive, but such a description was apt for Williamson. The harmonica wizard’s music always retained its Delta flavor no matter the production, and this collection features some of the best of the artist’s late-career performances from a period that he was hanging with folks like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Assisted by legends Willie Dixon, Robert Jr. Lockwood, and Otis Spann, these edgy, dark juke-joint stomps perfectly capture vintage Sonny Boy.

12. Stevie Ray Vaughan – ‘Texas Flood’ (Epic Records, 1983)

Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas FloodPhoto courtesy Sony Recordings

Blues-rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1983 debut would appear at a time when blues artists were struggling (more than usual) and the music was considered to be passé by all but a hardcore faithful. The popularity of Texas Flood would place it in Billboard’s Top 40, and keep the album on the charts for a year and a half. Although Vaughan would go on to make better records and develop a distinctive artistic voice, Texas Flood is a celebration of the guitarist’s influences – a raucous, reckless record that would rekindle a blues flame that still burns brightly today.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Drug Information Update – Ongoing Safety Review of Stalevo (entacapone/carbidopa/levodopa) and possible development of Prostate Cancer

FDA/CDER/Division of Drug Information (DDI)

The Division of Drug Information (DDI) is CDER’s focal point for public inquiries. We serve the public by providing information on human drug products and drug product regulation byFDA.


 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is evaluating clinical trial data that may suggest that patients taking Stalevo, a Parkinson’s disease medication, may be at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer. In this trial, patients taking Stalevo were compared to those taking carbidopa and levodopa (sold as Sinemet), a combination medication also used to treat Parkinson’s disease. At this time, FDA’s review of Stalevo is ongoing and no new conclusions or recommendations about the use of this drug have been made.

Stalevo contains a combination of the active ingredients entacapone, carbidopa, and levodopa. Entacapone is also available as a single-ingredient product sold under the brand name Comtan. Both Stalevo and Comtan are used to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The data being reviewed are from a long-term clinical trial called Stalevo Reduction in Dyskinesia Evaluation – Parkinson’s Disease (STRIDE-PD). STRIDE-PD evaluated the time to onset of dyskinesia (difficulty controlling voluntary movement) in patients with Parkinson’s disease taking Stalevo compared to those taking only carbidopa/levodopa. An unexpected finding in the trial was that a greater number of patients taking Stalevo were observed to have prostate cancer compared to those taking carbidopa/levodopa.

The agency is exploring additional ways to better understand if Stalevo actually increases the risk of prostate cancer. Previous controlled clinical trials of shorter duration evaluating Stalevo in Parkinson’s disease have not found an increased risk of prostate cancer, and prostate cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men who are of the same age as men included in the STRIDE-PD trial.

For more information, please visit: Stalevo 

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Ask the DJ – DJing with MP3s

Dear DJ,

I am learning to DJ for myself and friends. I purchased a package of two used Technics SL1200m3d turntables and a new Behringer vmx 300 mixer. The turntables came with about 50-60 records which I am using to learn to beat match. But I do not want to make a big investment in vinyl. I have a Mac computer with approximately 5000 songs in the mp3 (iTunes) format. I am at the point where I would like to start spinning using my computer and all the songs contained therein. Do you have suggestions for a particular software(s) that would work for me? Also, what do you think is the perception of mp3 DJs?

Signed,
DJ David

Dear David,

That’s a lot for one email, but you raise some very good questions. I am going to start at the end and work backwards.

The perception of mp3 (or laptop) DJs is evolving. With many superstar DJs (Paul Van Dyk, BT and Sasha) using laptops for their gigs, the medium is gaining acceptance. When I started DJing with CDs, I got a lot of crap from people who said real DJs use vinyl. Fast forward 10 years and just about every DJ uses CDs in some way when spinning live. In 10 years, will laptop be the standard? Things are certainly heading that way, but there are two things that must be addressed: entertainment value and sound quality.

Just like the acceptance of CD DJs, one must realize that it’s not the format of the music being played, but the music itself. If the DJ is playing a rocking set of music and packing the dance floor, does it really matter if he/she is using vinyl, CD or mp3? With that said, there is an element of showmanship that comes with vinyl — cuing up the record, backspinning, scratching — an almost sensual feel that a great DJ exudes when working vinyl. With the advent of the CD turntable, the DJ has more control of the music and can manipulate the music in a manner that is more than just playing tracks off a CD.

Fast forward to laptop and the idea of watching a guy punch buttons can be quite boring. Even though the music is the highest priority, the showmanship and entertainment value of the DJ can be quite important as well. Who wants to watch someone who looks like they are checking their email for two hours? As the controllers advance and stabilize — FinalScratch, Sasha’s Maven Controller, the Shuttle Pro — the laptop DJs’ show will increase as well. Add to that the ability to create music live with packages like Abelton Live and Logic, laptop DJs have even more creative control.

Just as sound quality on vinyl can be an issue, sound quality with mp3s can be a major issue. Not only are there source issues, there is compression and file format. While iTunes quality mp3s might sound good on an iPod or home stereo system, on a large club sound system, the disparity in sound quality is definitely perceptible. Among DJs who use laptops, 192 is considered the minimum bit rate for mp3s, while 256 or 320 is much more acceptable. Some will only use uncompressed WAV or AIFF files. Another possible problem with mp3s is digital rights management (DRM), which controls how the music can be used. So when purchasing mp3s, be sure to double check the format quality and DRM.

Which brings us back to the original question, what software do I recommend? While there are pretty much industry standards for record and CD players — there isn’t a clear favorite for software programs. If you learned how to spin on vinyl, a program like Final Scratch, which uses time coded records, would be a good option. You should also check out Abelton Live, DSS DJ, Rane Serato Scratch, Virtual DJ, and Traktor DJ. Try out several programs and see which works best for you. The controller is also very important, as you will definitely want more that just a point and click mouse. When configuring your setup, be sure to keep in mind memory, processor size, and drive speed.

In case you are wondering, I made the move from CD to laptop about six months ago. I am running Traktor DJ on a Mac Powerbook with a very colorfully-lit Western Digital external drive.

Keep exploring and you will find the right system for you, whether it’s turntable, CD, or laptop.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Drug Information Update: FDA Provides Information to Consumers about the Ingredient Triclosan

FDA/CDER/Division of Drug Information (DDI)

The Division of Drug Information (DDI) is CDER’s focal point for public inquiries. We serve the public by providing information on human drug products and drug product regulation byFDA.


 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today updated its website www.fda.gov with information about triclosan, a common ingredient added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It may be found in antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes and some cosmetics—products regulated by the FDA.

In January, Rep. Edward J. Markey, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, sent a letter to the FDA requesting information about the status of FDA’s ongoing review of triclosan in consumer products.  In responding to the Chairman’s letter, FDA explained that, in light of animal studies raising questions about triclosan’s safety, the agency is engaged in an ongoing scientific review to incorporate the most up-to-date data and information into the regulations that govern consumer products containing triclosan. The FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time.

For more information please visit:  Triclosan

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Essential Hardcore Albums

 

 All too often, hardcore bands think that playing hardcore is simply playing as loud and fast as you can, with little thought to style or musical construction at all. This isn’t really the case, at least not all the time. Many hardcore bands have played with style and skill, and even some of the best that simply do seem to be trying to simply play really loud and really fast developed their own style of doing it. If you want to get into hardcore, it helps to first know those who did it first – and did it best. Here are 10 albums no self-respecting hardcore fan should be without.

10. Germs – ‘MIA (Complete Anthology)’ (1993 – Re-release)

Rhino

Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that their first appearance took place before the band had even written any songs – or even really knew how to play – and was simply a noise riot, and that their shows were chaotic and inconsistent, the Germs hold sway as being influential on many punk bands today, and were a band that typified the sound of So Cal hardcore.

Although the band was never prolific in the studio, only releasing one full-length recording in 1979 and a scattered handful of songs elsewhere, these songs, and the barely-controlled way they were performed, made a solid impact on punk bands that would follow.

9. Agnostic Front – ‘Victim In Pain’ (1984)

Rat Cage Records

While they attracted criticism for their right wing, conservative stance on many issues, New York’s Agnostic Front were really about playing no nonsense, in your face, blue collar hardcore. A hardcore band for the working man, Agnostic Front was light on pretense, expressing themselves with raw attitude and aggression.

Subsequent years and albums would see Agnostic Front move to being a crossover/thrash metal band, but in these early days, Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma were poster boys for New York hardcore.

8. 7 Seconds – ‘The Crew’ (1984)

BYO Records

One of the originators of melodic hardcore, 7 Seconds hit a hardcore highnote with this debut album, and despite the fact that they’re still together decades later, they have yet to truly match the fervor this record instilled in its fans. Breakneck riffs combined with melodic lyrics to forge a record that helped define a movement and a sound, filled with songs that still hold up today, both for their raw intensity and singalong catchiness

7. The Adolescents – ‘The Adolescents’ (1981)

Frontier Records

They were doing the same thing as a lot of hardcore bands in the California scene – but somehow the Adolescents were doing it better. On songs like “I Hate Children,” they were a snot-nosed maelstrom giving the finger to suburbia, their parents, police, and even their fans. What was simple standard fare for many punk bands of the time was elevated by the band’s ability to play guitar hooks that pushed their impudent anthems to circle-pit classics.

That, and the fact that they wrote a classic punk tune about an amoeba.

6. Minor Threat – ‘Complete Discography’ (1988)

Dischord

Despite a short run as a band, Minor Threat’s influence on hardcore is undeniable. Not only did they create an influential hardcore sound, they inspired the straight edge movement. A song on their first EP, “Straight Edge,” with its anti-drug and alcohol stance, launched a dedicated following that continues today. And although other straight edge bands have come across with a more militant take, none have matched Minor Threat’s intelligent songwriting.

The band has also been a vital influence in the DIY movement through the creation of Dischord Records, a vehicle for releasing all of the band’s recordings.

5. Husker Du – ‘Zen Arcade’ (1984)

SST

Husker Du’s 1983 EP, Metal Circus, found Husker Du coming into their own as a hardcore band, rising above the pack, but it was 1984’sZen Arcade that truly elevated them to one of the greats. While still predominantly a hardcore record, Zen Arcade toyed with other sounds, including jazz, psychedelia, acoustic folk and pop -– all sounds frontman Bob Mould still explores today as a solo musician.

An ambitious undertaking, Zen Arcade was a two-LP recording concept album, a first-person story about a teen who runs away from home, seeking refuge in both drugs and religion. It’s a bold, chaotic record, and many punk musicians from all schools of sound describe it as being an inspiration.

Dead KennedysCleopatra Records

With the election of Ronald Reagan, political hardcore began to explode out of California, showing a passionate, angry side of American youth that hadn’t really been displayed since the Vietnam protests, and one of the first and best to do it were Dead Kennedys.

Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is a timeless primer for anyone looking for advice on raging against the machine; specific political namedropping may place it firmly in the Reagan era, but the attitude, anger and sarcasm expressed on tunes like “Kill the Poor,” “Let’s Lynch the Landlord,” “California Über Alles” and “Holiday in Cambodia” keep this record relevant, and frontman Jello Biafra’s delivery keeps this record enjoyable.

3. Negative Approach – ‘Total Recall’ (1992 – Re-release)

Negative ApproachTouch & Go

While ’80s hardcore is often remembered best for what was coming out of the East and West coasts, there was a strong Midwest hardcore scene as well, and Negative Approach helped forge and lead it. With musical foundations laid by the Stooges, NA was one of the most intense, angry and nihilistic of any American hardcore band. Their music is fast, heavy and abrasive, and vocalist John Brannon has a voice that sounds shredded by razors and battery acid.

1992’s Total Recall gathers up the band’s discography, making it the only release by the band you need, but you really do need it. This band is hardcore personified.

2. Black Flag – ‘Damaged’ (1981)

Black FlagSST

Black Flag’s first full-length record (and their first recordings with frontman Henry Rollins), Damaged carried Black Flag to a different realm from where previous frontmen had taken them. It found the band exploring a sound that was darker, and employed songwriting that was more intense and personal.

While many (myself included) preferred Keith Morris at the helm of Black Flag, the fact is he was only around long enough to record a handful of songs, and as an album, Damaged was Black Flag’s peak. The band is so tight that their ability shines through lo-fi production, and the with and sarcasm of Rollins is readily apparent on even the most paranoid tracks 

1. Bad Brains – ‘Bad Brains’ (1982)

ROIR

When the Bad Brains hit the D.C. punk scene in the late ‘70s, they had previously been a jazz-fusion band. This gave them a fast advantage over many of their contemporaries because they were already accomplished musicians. Their musical ability allowed them to play punk rock at blistering speed, which made them arguably the first hardcore band and a band that helped spread the idea that punk doesn’t need to be sloppy.

The band was composed of religious African-American Rastafarians who also were adept at reggae. That part of their sound influenced a range of bands from Fishbone to the Beastie Boys. Later on, the band would stray from hardcore, but their self-titled album is easily one of the greatest hardcore albums in existence.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | 1 Comment

Top 10 Women of ’80s Rock

 

This list becomes far more interesting to compile if massive pop superstars from Madonnato Whitney Houston to Janet Jackson are deemed ineligible for inclusion. That’s because ’80s rock harbored a number of worthy artists that often played second fiddle to the era’s prominent pop stars. Now is their chance to shine as confident female performers unintimidated by the usually masculine-leaning hierarchy of rock music. Here’s my list – in no particular order – of the most influential and quintessential female rockers of the ’80s. Let the arguments ensue.

1. Tina Turner

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol

Though she began her career strictly as an R&B/soul/funk singer and performer, Tina Turner re-emerged for the ’80s as a bona fide rock artist. 1984’s Private Dancer became a smash hit on the strength of three Top 10 pop singles, one of which – the broadly appealing mid-tempo “Better Be Good to Me” – fully embraced an atypical mainstream rock sound for an African-American artist of the period. In her mid-forties, Turner was unquestionably sexy not only through her physical appearance but also her stage confidence and versatility.“We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “The Best” also became major solo pop hits later in the decade, and Turner’s affinity for rock extended into a successful duet with Bryan Adams on the guitar-fueled “It’s  

2. Pat Benatar

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Chrysalis

Aside from growing into a decade-long fashion and culture icon, Pat Benatar made a series of genuine mainstream rock albums that successfully spanned the styles of hard rock, new wave and pop. Her influence on the future of female-produced rock music is undeniable, but she also managed her feats with femininity intact. Equally adept as an interpreter and songwriter, Benatar proved the existence of a rich market for music that explored the feisty, demanding and forceful elements of the late 20th Century woman. Early full-tilt rockers like“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Treat Me Right” may have eventually melted into more pop-friendly tunes like “Shadows of the Night” and “We Belong,” but Benatar has never lost her convincing rock punch.

3. Annie Lennox of Eurythmics

Album Cover Image Courtesy of RCA Records

The British duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart may seem upon first glance to be a strictly pop outfit. Lennox’s orange hair and memorably androgynous image combined with layers of keyboards could easily lead observers to that conclusion. However, massive hits“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Here Comes the Rain Again”boast a rock music fullness even without the customary guitars common to that genre. And by the time “Would I Lie to You?” and“Missionary Man” emerged as successful singles circa 1985-1986, powerful rock music cues had clearly begun to infiltrate the duo’s music, adding yet more muscle to Lennox’s already singularly soulful yet edgy vocals. These latter tunes, in fact, stand as ’80s mainstream rock classic hits.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol

In a way I hate to lump these two distinct musical personalities together in a retrospective list. However, the sheer number of worthy candidates vying for a spot here leads me to present these two in a relatively tidy package. Some Heart purists would argue that the band and its feminine leaders rocked much harder and more often during the late ’70s than during their ’80s pop reboot. Ultimately, though there is certainly some truth to that, ’80s Top 10 pop hits “What About Love,” “Never,” and “Alone” contain at least as many signature rock elements as they do pop or, God forbid, adult contemporary. The Wilson sisters ruled ’80s mainstream rock on many levels, even if their songwriting talents faded into the background during this period.

5. Stevie Nicks

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Rhino Atlantic

As already the most visible female member of ’70s rock kingpinsFleetwood Mac, Nicks was well-positioned to become a bona fide solo rock star during the ’80s. Her output generally didn’t disappoint those with high expectations, even if Nicks’ personal life and the status of her band began to show signs of wear and tear. Especially regarding efforts from the decade’s first half such as “Edge of Seventeen,” “Stand Back,” and “Talk to Me,” Nicks put forth a forceful rock sound in both her raspy, recognizable vocals and her solid rock arrangements. And although Nicks most certainly qualifies as a pop star, there have always been other descriptions that keep her from falling into bubblegum territory.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Geffen

As a key creative force in one of alternative rock‘s most independent and original bands of all-time, Gordon occupies a space in the annals of women in rock akin to no-nonsense punk poetess Patti Smith. Both women plied their crafts in New York City and have long navigated the cutting edge of rock music, and both eschew glamour for passion and honesty in an industry not usually kind to such an attitude. As sometime lead singer and bassist for an ensemble group not strictly fronted by anyone, Gordon might not be one of the first ’80s female rockers to come to mind when brainstorming this topic. However, her band’s contributions and continuous influence make a strong argument for Gordon’s presence in this particular conversation.

7. Joan Jett

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Blackheart Records

Jett may be the ’80s female artist with the most complete rock pedigree, as her status as founding member of the Runaways proved instantly that she had appeal for fans of punk rock, hard rock, mainstream rock and even heavy metal to a certain extent. That same rock versatility has personified Jett’s work as a solo artist and as the unquestioned leader of her capable backing band, the Blackhearts. Jett has also managed to blend an undeniably sexy feminity with an aggressive image and approach usually reserved for the testosterone-heavy lineups of the majority of hard rock bands. In fact, an anthem like 1981’s “Bad Reputation” displays more convincing bravado than perhaps three-quarters of the male-dominated hard rock Jett helped inspire.

8. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Rhino/Warner Bros.

That a native of Akron, Ohio could have gone to England and helped direct the fledgling punk rock scene there – all before she founded and led the Pretenders, one of the finest punk/new wave-inspired bands of the ’80s – is but one detail of the life of Chrissie Hynde that lands her squarely on this list. Hynde explored the British and European music scenes for a few years before making several attempts to start and lead a band. Therefore, by the time she finally formed the Pretenders in 1978, Hynde was experienced enough to select highly talented bandmates and resilient enough to withstand the drug-related deaths of two of them. Hynde carried on to produce some of the Pretenders’ finest songs yet in “Don’t Get Me Wrong”and “Show Me.”

9. Patty Smyth

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia/Legacy

As probably the biggest dark horse on this list, Scandal frontwoman and solo artist Patty Smyth rarely gets the credit she deserves for being a major ’80s rock presence. Like Jett and Hynde, Smyth covers a lot of ground both musically and personally. Aside from an early-’80s relationship with legendary New York City punk musician Richard Hell – with whom she had a daughter – Smyth also received consideration from friend Eddie Van Halen as a possible replacement for David Lee Roth in his esteemed band. As for Scandal and her fledgling solo career, Smyth injected some memorable rock songs into the pantheon of ’80s music, including “Goodbye to You” and “The Warrior” as well as “Never Enough,” a major hit on the mainstream rock charts in 1987.

10. Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Geffen

Like Hynde an early dabbler in the London punk rock scene of the mid-’70s, the artist born as Susan Ballion in London has proved herself one of the most influential and maverick artists of the post-punk era. Siouxsie and the Banshees immediately achieved U.K. success with its avant-garde, early Goth rock sound, and even without any major American success helped guide the development of the modern rock foundation that paid off so handsomely during the ’90s. The band’s impressive seven studio albums during the ’80s were always just a bit too strange to become smash hits, but in terms of uncompromising artistic aims few artists of either genre approached the permanence of Siouxsie’s defiant, dark image and elusive musical qualities.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment