Neurologist

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How Does Yoga Relieve Back Pain?

Since chronic back pain is complex and notoriously difficult to treat, many people turn to alternative and complementary therapies to manage their pain. Although it’s still unclear how yoga might relieve back pain, some research suggests that its potential to improve flexibility, promote relaxation, build strength, and ease stress may contribute to reduced pain and improved functioning.

Benefits of Yoga for Back Pain

In a study published in 2009, researchers found that six months of regular yoga practice was associated with significant improvements among people with chronic back pain. The study involved a total of 90 participants with chronic back pain: About half took part in twice-weekly, 90-minute yoga classes, while the other half continued with their usual medical care. Members of the yoga-practicing group were also given DVDs, yoga props, and an instruction manual, and told to practice at home on non-class days.

By the end of the treatment period, the yoga group reported an average 42 percent reduction in pain, 29 percent decrease in functional disability, and 46 percent drop in symptoms of depression. In addition, those in yoga group also had a lower medication use (compared to study members who didn’t practice yoga). What’s more, among the 68 percent of yoga-group members who kept up their yoga practice even after the treatment period ended, researchers observed a sustained improvement in pain, functional disability, and depression.

Several other recently published studies have yielded similar findings on yoga’s effects on pain intensity, functional disability, and medication use among people with chronic back pain.

Is Yoga Safe for People with Back Pain?

Although yoga is generally considered safe, people with chronic back pain (or any other medical condition) should consult with their doctor before starting a yoga practice. Furthermore, some inverted yoga poses may be risky for individuals with certain health problems (such as high blood pressure and osteoporosis).

It’s important to note that yoga should not be used as a replacement for standard care in treatment of back pain.

Sources:

Groessl EJ, Weingart KR, Aschbacher K, Pada L, Baxi S. “Yoga for veterans with chronic low-back pain.” J Altern Complement Med. 2008 14(9):1123-9.

Harvard Health Publications. “Lower back pain? Yoga therapy can help“.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. “Yoga for Health: An Introduction“. NCCAM Publication No. D412. May 2008.

Saper RB, Sherman KJ, Cullum-Dugan D, Davis RB, Phillips RS, Culpepper L. “Yoga for chronic low back pain in a predominantly minority population: a pilot randomized controlled trial.” Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 15(6):18-27.

Sorosky S, Stilp S, Akuthota V. “Yoga and pilates in the management of low back pain.” Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2008 1(1):39-47.

Williams K, Abildso C, Steinberg L, Doyle E, Epstein B, Smith D, Hobbs G, Gross R, Kelley G, Cooper L. “Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of Iyengar yoga therapy on chronic low back pain.” Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 1;34(19):2066-76.

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May 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jake Gyllenhaal Interview – ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

Jake Gyllenhaal Photo Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimeJake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan in ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

© Walt Disney Pictures

May 14, 2010Jake Gyllenhaal may not be the first actor you think of when you picture the star of a big-budget action adventure film based on a video game, but with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Gyllenhaal’s out to prove he can handle intense action scenes as well as more intimate character-driven films. In Disney’s Prince of Persia, Gyllenhaal stars as Prince Dastan, a rebellious young man who prefers to go his own way rather than to follow the rules. After he’s falsely accused of murdering his adopted father, Dastan must team up with a gorgeous princess (played by Gemma Arterton) in order to keep an ancient dagger capable of turning back time out of the hands of people who would use the mysterious object for evil.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Jake Gyllenhaal Interview

Were you familiar with the game before tackling the role of Prince Dastan?Jake Gyllenhaal: “I was familiar with the game since I was a young boy. I used to [play] the side-scrolling version of the Prince of Persia, the original Jordan Mechner created version, on the first Mac computer in elementary school. I remember doing that. And then I took like a 20 year hiatus from the game, though I did know about it but I didn’t really play it that much; I played other games. And then when I read the script for this movie, I took the opportunity and I started researching. I started playing the game and I got to know it very, very intimately.”

How much Parkour training did you do and was it what you expected?

Jake Gyllenhaal: “It was the first sort of type of training that I started to do, which was I guess a little bit Parkour. First I was I working with gymnasts, starting to work on landings and things like that while I was doing regular, you know, cardiovascular training and other things for the role. I didn’t really start doing the serious Parkour stuff until we got to Morocco and and we started choreographing the scenes on the top the Kasbahs and all the sets that we were shooting in.”

“I think the hardest part of doing it is really the focus and sort of being present and training your mind to not worry about whether you’re gonna make the landing, but just focusing on being present in the moment.”

What was having the opportunity to play the lead in a game you played as a kid like?

Jake Gyllenhaal: “Wow, it was like sometimes I wish I could go back, in these past few days I was thinking, I wish I could go back and tell that eight year old kid who was playing the game that one day, you know, 20 some odd years later he would be playing the lead in a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster movie based on that video and game, and just see how you know his eyes would pop out of his head, how excited he’d be. And for me that’s kind of how I felt when I was making the movie. I felt like I was kind of unlocking that piece of my childhood again. It was fun every day, running and jumping and fighting bad guys.”

Dastan starts off pretty cocky and gradually learns to be a little humble…

Jake Gyllenhaal: “Well I don’t know if he really loses his cockiness throughout the whole film. I think – I hope – he maintains it just enough. I think what happens is he realizes the importance of this dagger and his destiny, and he realizes how much his family means to him. You know, like at the beginning of the movie he’s an orphan and he’s rescued by the King, and when he has the potential of losing this family that has brought him in and basically saved his life, when that’s threatened I think he starts taking his life and the lives of others around him much more seriously. But I think he still maintains a little bit of wit and humour throughout all of it.”

Are there any differences in preparing for a role based on a popular, established video game than other roles you’ve tackled?

Jake Gyllenhaal: “Yeah, you know it’s a very very difficult form of research. It required playing the game three or four times a day, which you know is a very, very, very difficult job you know? A lot of people don’t know this, but acting is just so hard. It’s Oscar, right? It’s practicing, you know getting on the game and playing the game three or four times a day – and getting paid to exercise. It’s just it was really tough. [Laughing] No. There wasn’t much difference, actually. That’s the interesting thing. If you’re playing a character that’s based on a book or one that’s even been alive ,I you have to give as much attention, you have to focus just as much as you would if it’s a video game character or if it’s a real life human being. That’s at least how I feel.”

Is there anything about your character that sends a positive message to young people coming into adulthood and want to recognize their potential?

Jake Gyllenhaal: “Yeah. I think for specifically the character of Dastan, I think like I was saying before, he was an orphan and he was brought into a family – or the royal family – by the King because of a good deed that he did and because of he was pure of heart when he did this deed. And I think a lot of things kind of threaten us all the time and to not listen to our own hearts, to make choices that are about what other people think are cool or what other people say are cool. And the lesson, the moral of this movie for Dastan is to follow his own heart and to influence other people around him, like his brothers and his family to follow theirs too. And when you do and when he does, and when he helps the other people around him, it all works out for the best. Ultimately it’s not painless, but it’s for the best. I hope that kids and families, but particularly kids, can take away that if they listen to their heart they’ll never really go wrong.”

Jake Gyllenhaal Photo Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimeJake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan in ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

© Walt Disney Pictures

You’re best known for your dramatic roles. How was preparing for this different?Jake Gyllenhaal: “Well it required a lot of technical work that I usually do in movies. But this was learning how to do the rudimentary aspects of Parkour, learning how to sword fight which involved learning martial arts and having martial arts training and learning choreography, really complicated choreography having two swords that I use – and learning how to horseback ride proficiently in a way that I could do stunts. Learning a British accent. And on top of all of that, on a movie of this size when you make a different choice, like if you block out a scene for instance and you make a different choice in the middle of the day and you say, ‘Well maybe I should be over here…,’ if you make that choice it affects a thousand more people than it would on a smaller movie or on other movies.”

“And it’s just the sheer size of it is like, I guess I could compare it to like going to a sports event every day on set. I would drive up to set and there’d be 500 cars lined up for five miles before you even got to set. And then you would get to the base camp of set, and it would be like an army had set up camp. Then we’d get on to set and there’d be these massive sets built that were 250 feet high with like every intricate detail done so that they could shoot anywhere. And then 1000’s of extras and I would get suited up every morning. It’d take 40 minutes to put on my costume. I had these crazy intense boots that I wore that were like all Parkour-style so that I could do the stunts. I had like…I think you can see it on the poster a little bit, but it had all these different things that were attached to my costume and it took a long time. So it was kind of like getting prepared for some big sporting event.”

What is important when playing the hero to go up against a villain like Nizam, played by Sir Ben Kingsley? What was it like playing opposite him?

Jake Gyllenhaal: “Well, what there are a lot of villains in this movie. They may be actually ones that you would never expect. I would say there maybe 10 or 15 people chasing after the Dagger of Time and who are not for the right reasons. But specifically working for – working with someone like – I would say ‘for’ because he is Sir Ben Kingsley. Working for Sir Ben Kingsley it’s just incredible. I mean, when you work with somebody of that level, that stature who has that amount of experience, that many years, has done such extraordinary work, it’s kind of an actors dream come true. The interesting thing about Ben, Sir Ben, is that he has a real childish play to him. I acted really, really like conservatively around him when I first started acting and he was like, ‘Come on.’ Because, you know, he sits up really straight and he seems so regal, but he really likes to kind of get down and dirty with his acting and so do I. So it was great fun and a real honor.”

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Sex and the City 2’ Movie Review

Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 photoKim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis in ‘Sex and the City 2.’

© New Line Cinema

Sex leaves the City and the sequel suffers for it. Why, with all the possible story-lines that must have sprung to mind between the release of Sex and the City the first movie and shooting Sex and the City 2, was it decided that having Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda take off to Abu Dhabi would be the best idea for Sex and the City 2? And if sending the four friends to the Middle East had to be included in the plot, why was making them into shrill, obnoxiously rich and overly pampered out-of-touch women who ignore the culture of a country to shove their own hedonistic ways in the faces of the people who live there deemed the way to go? This sequel makes the four fashion plates into the very definition of ‘ugly Americans’ as they toss out unimaginative one-liners and campaign for female empowerment, all while living lavishly and being waited on hand and foot.
Over the years we’ve experienced the romantic trials and tribulations of four best friends living in New York, vicariously taking a bite out of the Big Apple as we sat back and watched the escapades of Carrie and her friends on HBO, beginning with that first show way back in 1998. The series didn’t always hit its mark, and I know I drifted in and out as viewer over the course of the show’s six year run, never sticking around for an entire season. But not once did I actively intensely dislike the women at its core. I didn’t always agree with their actions and there were times I found myself totally disconnected from where the show took a particular character, but I still felt like when all was said and done, I basically knew who these four women were. Sex and the City 2 takes those years of my friendship from afar and kicks them to the curb. The uber-rich and pampered princesses of Sex and the City 2 hold but the faintest resemblance to the lovely, albeit often shallow, ladies of the series.

The Story

Sex and the City 2 picks up two years after the events of the first film. Carrie’s married to Big (Chris Noth), they’ve decided not to have children, and Big now prefers a night home on the couch eating take-out to a night out on the town. Carrie, who keeps putting the most atrocious things on her head (including a black crown that looks like something out of Chronicles of Narnia), is struggling with this new development. She wants to dress to the nines and go out to dinner, and Big’s preference for their designer couch, Deadliest Catch, and old black & white movies is causing a rift in their still-young marriage.Miranda’s boss at the law firm absolutely hates her, holding up a hand to shush her whenever she opens her mouth. A brief side note: Given the dialogue Cynthia Nixon has to utter, that’s actually a wise move. Work is driving her crazy and her supportive hubby suggests she just quit and find something new. After all, it’s so easy to get a well-paying job you absolutely love in these hard economic times. Out of touch much?

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 photoCynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis in ‘Sex and the City 2.’

© New Line Cinema

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s happily married and raising two cute girls, although the youngest never seems to stop crying even when she’s snuggled up between mom and dad in bed. Despite the fact she has a nanny to take over whenever she needs time off, money to do whatever she wants, and nothing of any importance to occupy her time other than her kids, Charlotte’s feeling miserable. But, being Charlotte, she tries to hide her suffering beneath a bright, sunny smile and a brave face.And Samantha is going through menopause, engaging in a battle with her aging body she’s determined to win at all costs. A firm believer in Suzanne Somer’s bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (Sex and the City 2 nearly doubles as an infomercial on Somer’s book), Samantha is struggling to keep her sex drive revved up to its needle-bending level. Fortunately for everyone who comes in contact with her, Samantha willingly shares all the intimate details of what she’s experiencing.

After an opening hour featuring the most extravagant gay wedding ever staged in a feature film, a shaky rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” by the legendary Liza Minnelli, and a red carpet movie premiere that finds 50+ year old Samantha wearing the same dress as a certain famous 17 year old, Samantha’s offered an all expenses paid luxurious trip to Abu Dhabi. Why? Because a billionaire sheikh has just opened a luxury hotel there and he thinks Samantha would be the perfect person to handle the PR since she was able to take Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis) from obscurity to stardom. Shaky credentials there, but no matter, that’s the storyline as dreamed up by writer/producer/director Michael Patrick King.

So off to Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco) the foursome go, dozens of bags in tow along with lots of emotional baggage they’ll all need to deal with before King allows us to finally escape the theater after just about the longest 2 1/2 hours you’ll experience.

The Acting

To say Parker, Nixon, Cattrall, and Davis are just going through their paces isn’t entirely fair, but it’s close to the truth. The material’s likely to blame for most of the emotionally vapid scenes and not the actresses who know these characters so well. Noth’s back as Big and he’s fine, doing what you’d expect but in such a nice, understated fashion that he stands out from the females. No other male makes any impact whatsoever – this one’s really all about the ladies.

The Bottom Line

If you pay no attention to the actresses (other than Kristin Davis) and no attention to 90% of the costumes, Sex and the City 2 is fabulous to look at. The colors are rich and the scenery’s spectacular. However, the lighting on the leads is horrendous. Davis is the only main character to escape the harsh realities of age usually disguised so well by skilled cinematographers with gentle lighting.There were a few scenes, though rare, I genuinely adored in the film. The outlandish, over-the-top gay wedding that kicks off the film had me mistakenly believing Sex and the City 2 was going to be an exuberant celebration of the friendship between Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. Also hitting all the right notes is a touching, completely authentic scene in which Carrie and Big bare their souls towards the end of the film. And when Charlotte and Miranda sit down over drinks to commiserate over the tribulations of parenthood, their conversation is both moving and honest.

Charlotte’s bra-less nanny, played delightfully by Alice Eve, is also one of the high points of the film. She’s a real breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale story. But even the nanny’s funny storyline gets squashed with an ending that wraps a bow so tightly on her tale as to completely deflate it.

And can I just take a moment to point out a scene that drove me crazy? If you’re trying to show Charlotte as a loving mother who puts her children first, why is the one real domestic scene of her interacting with her daughters one with her whipping up dozens of cupcakes and decorating them with bright pink icing while wearing a vintage white skirt? And then when one of her daughters lays her icing-covered hands on mom’s rear end – leaving two cute handprints – Charlotte goes ballistic. You wear the outfit, you pay the price – isn’t that the saying? If not, it should be. Seriously, what woman does that? Even for a Sex and the City scene, that’s just ridiculous. Yes, I realize Charlotte’s going through a rough period having to take care of two young girls while being a wealthy stay at home mom with a devoted husband who employs a full-time nanny to take care of the kids, but a vintage white skirt? Come on now.

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 photoCynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis in ‘Sex and the City 2.’

© New Line Cinema

Back to the bottom line… An outrageously inappropriate and campy karaoke version of “I Am Woman” performed by the foursome in an Abu Dhabi club was another one of the film’s low points. I also didn’t find the ladies making jokes about the traditional clothing worn by the women of the region to be anything other than in poor taste. But that was par for the course in this sequel. The easy path in finding a joke was always taken, no pun was spared, no reference to Samantha’s raging hormones or lack thereof was ever left unspoken.Speaking of Samantha’s hyperactive sex drive, it’s provided plenty of fodder for the series and the first film, but in this sequel it just feels a little creepy. Miranda keeps trying to get her to cover up out of respect for the customs and religion of the area, but Samantha insists on parading around in barely there attire, pushing the limits of what’s acceptable – but to what end? Are we supposed to accept that these wealthy New Yorkers, and Samantha in particular, are trying to help end sexism in the Middle East? The issue is so trivialized that in the film’s silliest scene, the Americans are taken in by burkha-clad women who open their outfits to reveal the latest designer fashions from America are hidden underneath. Women power! You go buy those dresses! Stand up for your right to purchase overpriced clothing!

Sex and the City 2 may not kill the franchise, and it will probably do fine at the box office (at least the first weekend before word of mouth/Twitter affects its performance), but it’s nowhere near as entertaining and joyful as the series or the first film. The question I immediately asked myself as I walked out of the theater was would I want to see more of these ladies after spending two and a half hours in their presence in the sequel. My answer: No. Stick a Jimmy Choo in it, Sex and the City‘s done.

GRADE: D+

Sex and the City 2 was directed by Michael Patrick King and is rated R for some strong sexual content and language.

Theatrical Release: May 27, 2010

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Exclusive Interview with Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio

Cinco Paul and Ken DaurioCinco Paul and Ken Daurio

May 21, 2010 – Screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (Horton Hears a Who!, Bubble Boy) are the creative masterminds behind Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ animated family-friendly comedy, Despicable Me. The talented twosome also penned the upcoming Hop (formerly known as I Hop), the Easter Bunny tale with James Marsden and Russell Brand, and Dinner for Schmucks starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. And after turning over their work to directors to bring to life on the screen, Paul and Daurio are going to be tackling their first film as directors with The Lorax, based on the Dr. Seuss story.Although Paul and Daurio typically sing their pitches to studio executives, I found out that, sadly, they do their interviews without warbling a single note.

Exclusive Interview with Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio

Why are you taking the leap into directing?Cinco Paul: “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, you know? As a writer you’d love to be able to have more control, I guess. As a writer you have not that much control over the finished product, so it’s nice to be able to oversee the whole thing from start to finish.”

Ken Daurio: “That was a really nice way of saying they always mess up your script.”

Cinco Paul: “I was not going to say that, because in some cases they make it better. But, yeah, control is good. It’s no fun to go sit down and watch a movie that your name is attached to and see a bunch of scenes that you would never have put in the movie, you know? That’s kind of a rough thing to see sometimes.”

Has that happened?

Ken Daurio: “Yes, it has. Yes, it has.”

How do you normally react? Do you ever confront the director?

“There’s a lot of crying.”

Ken Daurio: “No. I mean there’s nothing you can really do. It kind of goes with the territory. You turn the script in and then they can really do whatever they want with it from there. And so, yes, so that moment when you hand over the script and you sit and wait and hope, that is really the fuel that kind of makes you wish you were directing the movie at that point. So that’s sort of how we got there.”

Is there one specific project, without naming names, that you look back on and say, “That’s the one we should have directed ourselves?”

Cinco Paul: “I would say that…yes. I think – I don’t know. Yes, I’d say there’s one, kind of our first experience started off really positively and then went really to a negative place. And that made us think, ‘You know what? Some day we’re going to direct a film so this can’t happen again.'”

But then it’s still taken you a while to get to the point where you’re actually ready to direct.

Cinco Paul: “Well I think we always wanted to direct, but you sort of have to look for the right opportunity and a situation where someone’s willing to give you a shot. And the time has finally come.”

Is it more difficult when you’re setting out to write an animated film than it is live action?

Ken Daurio: “I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult, I mean now it’s, now having done it a couple of times now it’s certainly, you’re looking at this giant mountain in front of you as you sit down to start writing the script because you realize it’s going to be, we’re going to be working on the script for three/four years. And so in that sense it’s a little more difficult, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s great to be involved all the way through, as opposed to when you turn your script in and they go off and shoot it. So far with animation, you know, we’ve been involved in the whole process, which means even up to the last minute we’re involved in the changes that are being made and have a little bit more say in those changes. So it’s nice, it’s nice but it’s a big undertaking. Yes, it’s a marathon.”

And when you get someone like Steve Carell who does like to throw in his own stuff and who takes things in his own direction, does that make it more difficult on you or is that really a joy when you have someone like that to work with?

Ken Daurio: “Well with Steve Carell it’s absolutely a joy. You know, we are just such big fans and he’s made so much of what we’ve done better. He goes in there and he’s great because he’ll record the lines as written and then he’ll have fun with it and expand and experiment. He really brings a lot of great stuff to the movie.”

Cinco Paul: “Yes, and it’s interesting because I would say candidly he has never made a bad choice. He really hasn’t, which is pretty impressive.”

Ken Daurio: “In ad-libbing and reading the lines.”

Cinco Paul: “Yes, in ad-libbing and coming up with his own stuff. It’s always really funny and it’s true to the character. And so when you have someone like that, it’s a total joy.”

With his ad-libs, did Steve Carell take the character any direction where you guys went, “Hey wait, why didn’t we think of that?”, and then you had to go back in and finesse it a little more?

Cinco Paul: “Well I think from the very first meeting with him, you know he was the one who came up with this voice for the character. We were just writing him as this evil villain and didn’t have necessarily this accent in mind, because the accent is crazy and didn’t exist and it was like something out of his head. So when we heard it for the first time, it really did open up kind of the door to writing for this character, you know? It gave you more personality. You could start to hear things that he would say. So from the very beginning he brought things to the character that we didn’t think of.”

That must be fun to work with someone like that.

Ken Daurio: “Yes, it is.”

Are you going to have him in The Lorax?

Cinco Paul: “We cannot say.” [laughing]

Of course you cannot say.

Cinco Paul: “But I don’t know.”

But if all things worked out it would be great to have him, right?

Cinco Paul: “We would work with him.”

Ken Daurio: “Yes. We worked out with him on Horton Hears a Who! and Despicable Me and so…”

And Dinner for Schmucks. Was that a different experience working with him because it was live action?

Ken Daurio: “You know, we were not involved. We wrote the original draft of that script many, many years ago, so we weren’t involved on the set with Steve at all on Dinner for Schmucks.”

Cinco Paul: “That script was, in our minds, dead for years and then all of a sudden we heard, ‘Wait a minute, it’s actually happening.'”

Ken Daurio: “That was a nice surprise, yes.”

When you write something like that and you put it aside, is it something you even want to revisit? Or is it dead, it’s gone, it’s behind you?

Cinco Paul: “I think you always hope that some of these scripts that you write that you’re proud of that are just sort of sitting there, will someday find a home and someday come to life. So that was really nice because we were actually always pretty proud of that script, but it was just sort of languishing there.”

Ken Daurio: “But yes, there are others that you move on and you are kind of glad… You know what I’m saying? That was probably the best thing for that script.”

Cinco Paul: “Yes, put it out of its miser

Cinco Paul and Ken DaurioCinco Paul and Ken Daurio

What can we expect from Despicable Me?Ken Daurio: “We’ve been having such a great time at these preview screenings because it seems like we’re kind of there. It seems like parents are liking it and kids are liking it, and it’s really fun. It’s fun to see that when everybody seems to be liking it.”

Cinco Paul: “You can hear all the laughs and then see the grownups get a little emotional at certain parts. It’s nice.”

Oh no, it’s not going to be one of those animated movies that makes us cry, is it?

Cinco Paul: “Yes.”

Ken Daurio: “Yes, there may be a little bit of emotion.”

Cinco Paul: “That’s actually what one of the moms said. We were at a test screening and they ask questions afterwards and the mom says, ‘I really was not prepared to cry today.’ And that was nice to hear, if you can kind of sneak a little emotion in on people.”

How do you guys work together as a writing team?

Ken Daurio: “Well, usually we’ll outline a section of the script and then we’ll kind of divide up the scenes. You know, ‘Cinco, you do this scene and I’ll do that scene,’ and we’ll go away and we’ll go to our separate little desks and we’ll write our scenes, and then we put them together and then we’ll read through it. And the goal is to make the other guy laugh. And so that’s how we do it. And then as we’re reading through, we’ll pitch out things for each other’s scenes and we’ll read them and throw out jokes and things like that. And that’s sort of where we really put it all together and finalize it. But that’s generally how we do it. We kind of separate and write our scenes and come together – and we’re very competitive.”

What happens if you get to the point where you’re butting heads over where a scene should go? Who has the final say?

Cinco Paul: “Arm wrestling. You know what? Generally we always sort of find a way through it. We don’t have a lot of big fights.”

Ken Daurio: “No.”

Cinco Paul: “A lot of time it is sort of saying like, ‘You know what? Maybe I don’t know what’s funny in this situation. Maybe Ken knows better than I do. Well, let’s give it a shot.’ And every once in a while someone will win an argument and it’ll go in the script, and then there’s that meeting when the note comes back to change that joke and, boy, the other person is so happy at that moment.”

Is it easy to tap into humor that kids get?

Cinco Paul: “You know, it’s interesting because Ken and I just basically write to make each other laugh, and so I guess generally we hope the kids will laugh too and like it. And generally they do, but you never want to write for kids or write down to kids. Kids are human beings with senses of humor, just like everybody.”

Ken Daurio: “Yes, and we each have kids so we’ve been to those movies that you just want to take a nap in and that you just are miserable in, but the kids are happy and you go for the kids. And the goal is to not make one of those. You want to make a movie that mom wants to go to and dad wants to go to and the kids are going to like it as well.”

How far along are you on your directing project, The Lorax? I know you can’t say anything about casting or any of that.

Cinco Paul: “Yes, we’re not allowed to talk about any of that. There’s very little we can say. The animation has not begun but we’ve been working on the script for quite a while and doing a lot of character design and storyboarding.”

Ken Daurio: “And working with the Seuss Estate and Audrey Geisel and just getting this thing in shape and ready to go.”

Cinco Paul: “In two years it comes out so…”

Is it easier for you guys since you do have the background of working with the Seuss Estate on Horton Hears a Who!?

Ken Daurio: “Yes, I think so. You know, Audrey Geisel was so happy with the movie that I think that actually makes her more comfortable with us, and comfortable with allowing us to explore and have a little bit of freedom with the next project. I think she trusts us a little bit, so that’s nice.”

And I Hop – is it now officially just Hop?

Cinco Paul: “It has changed to just Hop.”

I like I Hop.

Cinco Paul: “There’s so much pancake confusion.”

It’s a fun title.

Ken Daurio: “No, it’s just Hop. But you know what? Maybe it’ll change again, who knows?”

Maybe it’ll be Bunny Hop or something.

Ken Daurio: “Yes, who knows?”

Where did you come up with the idea for that?

Cinco Paul: “That was actually pitched to us by… Was it John?”

Ken Daurio: “I think it was Chris [Meledandri]. It was either Chris or John Cohen.”

Cinco Paul: “John Cohen, one of the execs at Illumination [Entertainment] was like, ‘We need to do an Easter Bunny movie.’ And so then we took that idea, took it and ran with it. It was a lot of fun.”

Cinco Paul: “It is a great idea because, you know, I mean there’s a couple of bunny movies that are trying to be the big Easter movie, but there just isn’t one yet, you know? There’s tons of Christmas movies and some Halloween movies, but no Easter movies.”

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reduce Inflammation Naturally

By reducing chronic inflammation — also known as low-grade or systemic inflammation — you may be able to boost your defense against several major diseases. In addition to fine-tuning your diet and overall self-care, you can reduce chronic inflammation with the help of certain natural substances and alternative therapies.

Why You Need to Reduce Inflammation

Unlike acute inflammation (in which the immune system responds to infection or injury by activating inflammatory chemicals that combat foreign substances), chronic inflammation isn’t beneficial for the body. Often resulting from lifestyle factors like stress and poor diet, chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system continually releases those inflammatory chemicals — even when there are no foreign invaders to fight off.

By working to reduce chronic inflammation, you may be able to protect against a number of conditions shown to be inflammation-related, including:

How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally

Here’s a look at several science-backed approaches to reducing inflammation naturally:

1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Maintaining a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (naturally available in foods like fish oil andflaxseed oil) and low in omega-6 fatty acids (found in foods like red meat and dairy products) may help lower inflammation and guard against diseases like breast cancer,rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and asthma, according to a research review published in 2002.

Shown to thwart the production of pro-inflammatory substances, omega-3 fatty acids are also available in supplement form.

Learn more about how to use supplements safely.

2) Herbs

Preliminary research suggests that some herbs may help reduce inflammation. In an animal study published in 2007, for instance, scientists discovered that curcumin (a compound found in the curry spice turmeric) can overpower pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. And in test-tube research published in 2005, investigators found ginger may reduce inflammation more effectively than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin).

In fresh or dried form, both turmeric and ginger can be used in cooking. If you’re considering the use of any type of herbal supplement in your efforts to reduce inflammation, make sure you consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.

3) Yoga

People who regularly practice yoga may have reduced levels of interleukin-6 (a marker of inflammation), according to a 2010 study of 50 women. Analyzing blood samples from the participants, researchers observed that those who practiced yoga had 41 percent lower levels of interleukin-6 than those who didn’t practice yoga.

More Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle should be your first step in reducing inflammation. The following approaches may have an inflammation-fighting effect:

Following a diet that focuses on anti-inflammatory foods is also considered essential to reducing inflammation.

Sources:

Akiyama H, Barger S, Barnum S, Bradt B, Bauer J, Cole GM, Cooper NR, Eikelenboom P, Emmerling M, Fiebich BL, Finch CE, Frautschy S, Griffin WS, Hampel H, Hull M, Landreth G, Lue L, Mrak R, Mackenzie IR, McGeer PL, O’Banion MK, Pachter J, Pasinetti G, Plata-Salaman C, Rogers J, Rydel R, Shen Y, Streit W, Strohmeyer R, Tooyoma I, Van Muiswinkel FL, Veerhuis R, Walker D, Webster S, Wegrzyniak B, Wenk G, Wyss-Coray T. “Inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease.” Neurobiol Aging. 2000 21(3):383-421.

American Heart Association. “Inflammation, Heart Disease and Stroke: The Role of C-Reactive Protein“.

Barbara G, De Giorgio R, Stanghellini V, Cremon C, Corinaldesi R. “A role for inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome?” Gut. 2002 51 Suppl 1:i41-4.

Duncan BB, Schmidt MI, Pankow JS, Ballantyne CM, Couper D, Vigo A, Hoogeveen R, Folsom AR, Heiss G; Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. “Low-grade systemic inflammation and the development of type 2 diabetes: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study.” Diabetes. 2003 52(7):1799-805.

Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. “Ginger–an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions.” Journal of Medicinal Food 2005 8(2):125-32.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Christian L, Preston H, Houts CR, Malarkey WB, Emery CF, Glaser R. “Stress, inflammation, and yoga practice.” Psychosom Med. 2010 72(2):113-21.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter, “Buzzed on Inflammation“.

Reyes-Gordillo K, Segovia J, Shibayama M, Vergara P, Moreno MG, Muriel P. “Curcumin protects against acute liver damage in the rat by inhibiting NF-kappaB, proinflammatory cytokines production and oxidative stress.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 2007 1770(6):989-96.

Simopoulos AP. “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.” Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 56(8):365-79.

Van Hove CL, Maes T, Joos GF, Tournoy KG. “Chronic inflammation in asthma: a contest of persistence vs resolution.” Allergy. 2008 63(9):1095-109.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Benefits and Uses of Pygeum

Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) is a natural remedy extracted from the bark of the African plum tree. In traditional African medicine, pygeum has long been used to treat bladder-health issues and urinary disorders.

Uses for Pygeum

In herbal medicine, pygeum is typically used in treatment of the following conditions:

Pygeum is also purported to act as a natural aphrodisiac, enhance sexual performance, and protect against prostate cancer.

Benefits of Pygeum

Pygeum may moderately improve urinary symptoms associated with BPH, a condition marked by enlargement of the prostate gland. Several studies show that pygeum can significantly reduce urinary frequency (the number of times patients need to wake up at night to urinate) and pain with urination in men who suffer from mild-to-moderate BPH symptoms. However, pygeum does not appear to reverse the process of BPH.

Pygeum has not been found to be useful in the treatment or prevention of any other health condition. Although research conducted on animals and in test-tube studies suggests that pygeum may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, there is a general lack of scientific support for pygeum’s effectiveness in prostate cancer prevention.

Is Pygeum Safe?

Pygeum is generally considered safe. However, some users may experience stomach problems (such as diarrheaconstipation, stomach pain, and nausea). Additionally, pygeum should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Learn more about supplement safety.

How to Use Pygeum

If you’re considering the use of pygeum in the treatment or prevention of any health condition, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen. It’s especially important to talk to your doctor if you have a medical condition or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements.

Pygeum is available as a dietary supplement and is also sometimes taken in tea form.

It should be noted that the African plum tree has become endangered due to demand for pygeum extract.

Sources:

Ishani A, MacDonald R, Nelson D, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. “Pygeum africanum for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis.” Am J Med. 2000 1;109(8):654-64.

National Institutes of Health. “Pygeum: MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2009.

Shenouda NS, Sakla MS, Newton LG, Besch-Williford C, Greenberg NM, MacDonald RS, Lubahn DB. “Phytosterol Pygeum africanum regulates prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo.” Endocrine. 2007 31(1):72-81.

Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R, Rutks I, Stark G. “Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD001044.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Band of Horses – ‘Infinite Arms’ Review

 

 espite its clear strengths, Infinite Arms, the third album from the indie-rock quintet Band of Horses, is a bit of a good-news/bad-news proposition. For those who adore this group – particularly their last album, 2007’s Cease to Begin – Infinite Armscontinues the band’s exploration of lovely, slightly mystical tunes steeped in folk and country influences. But rather than a confident step forward, Infinite Arms feels a bit like a holding action for frontman Ben Bridwell, who has crafted an album filled with consistent pleasures but not a lot of surprises.

Softening Their Sound … and Opening the Door to Criticism

Within the span of about 19 months, Band of Horses put out their first two records, and the close proximity of their releases only helped underline their sonic similarities. With that said, though, 2006’s Everything All the Time was a moreNeil Young-like guitar record, while Cease to Beginemphasized a romantic, woodsy back-porch vibe. The constants were Bridwell’s yearning vocals and the hippie-ish quality of the tunes, marking Band of Horses as one of indie-rock’s most likable and melodic groups. The band’s lack of edge, naturally, opened the door to criticism that they were just a generic, safe indie group cribbing from the styles of My Morning Jacket and Built to Spill. (Not helping matters was that Built to Spill producer Phil Ek worked on Cease to Begin andInfinite Arms.) But apparently that criticism hasn’t affected Bridwell’s songwriting one iota. The band’s warm, melancholy spirit permeates Infinite Arms, resulting in the group’s third straight comfy-old-sweater record.

Beautiful Sad-Eyed Songs

Since the guitar workouts of “The Funeral” and “The Great Salt Lake” off Everything All the Time, Bridwell has turned his attention to stately, majestic ballads on his follow-up albums, and Infinite Arms’ highlights are very much in that vein. The title track is a stunningly beautiful love song accentuated by the sounds of the outdoors and a plaintive, delicate guitar figure. Later, on “Evening Kitchen,” Bridwell comes up with a country-ish lullaby about realizing too late that you’ve let the love of your life get away. The everyman quality of his voice gives his sad-eyed songs great resonance, but his tunes’ simplicity keeps them from lapsing into soupy melodrama.

A Dose of Optimism

But while Infinite Arms shines brightest at its most gentle, Bridwell has not completely abandoned lively, up-tempo tracks. “Laredo” is feel-good country-rock that follows a familiar Band of Horses lyrical trope: a narrator goes on a trip to forget his troubles at home. The surging melody and echoed vocals in the chorus are so buoyant that it sounds like the singer will be feeling back to normal in no time. On “Dilly,” Bridwell rides a bouncy groove as he explores the promise of second chances, while “NW Apt.” is just a fun guitar number that contains the exuberant line “With three guitars and one amplifier/I’m gonna blow the dust off this scene.” If a Band of Horses ballad allows Bridwell to drown his sorrows, then Infinite Arms’ louder moments give him a chance to indulge in a little optimism.

A Little Predictable

If Infinite Arms has a weakness, it’s that its strengths are a tad predictable. The album does what it does well, but anyone who has the band’s first two records won’t be particularly blown away by these songs. Then again, Band of Horses fans love this group partly because of their easy, comfortable aesthetic. Infinite Arms is rock for people looking for reassurance in their weary lives. Ben Bridwell may not give his listeners much new onInfinite Arms, but there’s no doubt that he gives them exactly what they want with immeasurable skill.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HIV/AIDS Update – tentative approval for lamivudine and stavudine Fixed Dose Combination tablets, 150mg/30mg

On May 17, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted tentative approval for lamivudine and stavudine Fixed Dose Combination tablets, 150mg/30mg, indicated in combination with other antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults. This new fixed dose combination is manufactured by Hetero Drugs Limited, of Hyberdad, India. 

FDA’s tentative approval means that although a product meets all of the safety, efficacy, and manufacturing quality standards required for marketing in the U.S., existing patents and/or proprietary issues currently prevent marketing of the product in the United States. Tentative approval, however, does qualify the product for consideration for purchase under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR program. 

As with all generic applications, FDA conducts an on-site inspection of the manufacturing facilities and of the facilities performing the bioequivalence studies prior to granting approval or tentative approval to evaluate the ability of the manufacturer to produce a quality product and to assess the quality of the bioequivalence data supporting the application. 

These products were reviewed for PEPFAR under the FDA guidance titled Fixed Dose Combinations, Co-Packaged Drug Products, and Single-Entity Versions of Previously approved Antiretrovirals for the Treatment of HIV developed to clarify what regulatory requirements apply to such applications, what issues might be of concern, and how these issues should be addressed. The guidance is intended to encourage sponsors to submit applications for combination and co-packaged products, and to facilitate submission of such applications to FDA. 

A list of all FDA approvals and tentative approvals for PEPFAR can be found on the FDA web site.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Album Review: Jamie Lidell – ‘Compass’

 

 e started out as an electronic music producer and musician, but ever since his 2005 album, Multiply, British crooner Jamie Lidellhas added more and more Soul elements to his music. And on his latest release, Compass (released in the United States on May 18 2010), Jamie proves yet again that Soul knows no gender, race or geographic boundaries. Compass is more consistent than his other albums when it comes to song quality and Jamie’s vocal ability has become noticeably stronger. There’s a few clunky songs that keep the album from being near-perfect, but this is definitely his best solo album so far.

North, South, East, West

One of the better things about Compass is thatJamie Lidell adds a dose of funk to some of the songs, giving the album a strong funk-Soul vibe reminiscent of some of Prince’s past work. Not to say that Jamie’s on the same level as His Purple Majesty talent-wise or creatively, but this album shows that there’s definitely some similarities between their approaches to music. For instance, “I Wanna Be Your Telephone” sounds like a cousin of Prince’s “Erotic City” (musically speaking, not content-wise), and “Your Sweet Boom” also has some subtle Prince influences.But although the music is occasionally funky, Jamie’s voice is still deeply embedded in Soul. Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and other ’70s legends are all represented within Jamie’s vocals as usual, but he also seems to be evolving into a more of a versatile performer and someone who’s willing to break the mold and incorporate other music genres into his style. For example, on both the title track and “Big Drift,” his vocal style sounds close to that of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder; and on the album’s final track, “You See My Light,” his voice has a folksy cadence to it.

Overall, the album’s not exactly a masterpiece, but Jamie gets credit for thinking outside the regular R&B/Soul box and bringing new ideas to the table. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers retro-Soul album. It’s a funk-soul meets indie rock that’s creative and catchy. Although Jamie’s singing may not quite be up there with the best in the business, his range of skills are strong enough make the album listenable from top to bottom.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Drug Information Update- FDA Transparency Task Force Unveils Draft Proposals on Agency Disclosure Policies

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’s Transparency Task Force today released 21 draft proposals for public comment on public disclosure policies aimed at helping consumers, stakeholders, and others understand how the agency operates and makes decisions. The Transparency Task Force will review the comments and decide which proposals to recommend for implementation.

The proposals, to be published in the May 21, 2010, Federal Register, are part of the second phase of the FDA’s Transparency Initiative launched last summer by FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

The proposals reflect the review of more than 1,500 public comments received by the FDA after two public meetings held by the task force and extensive consideration and discussion within the agency.

The FDA is seeking public comments on the proposals in the draft report for 60 days. The task force will consider the comments received, their feasibility, resource requirements, and the priority of each proposal to arrive at recommendations for Commissioner Hamburg.

For more information, please visit: Agency Disclosure Policies Draft Proposals

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment