Monthly Archive: March 2009

The Head of Descartes

René Descartes was born on this day in 1596. He’s still being talked about in the 21st century. Even his head makes the news.Descartes was French, but he died in Sweden in 1650. Fans from his native country went to Sweden in 1666 and moved his body back to France. Along the way a bone and a finger were taken as souvenirs, and his head disappeared.

“One Take, Baby”

LeBron James sinks an incredible shot during an interview with 60 Minutes.Here’s the full show.

Maurice Jarre, 1924-2009

Big-screen composer Maurice Jarre died yesterday (March 29) at the age of 84. He got his start in France but came to Hollywood in the 1960s. He won three Oscars doing movie scores for David Lean: Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India.Jarre did the music for more than 150 movies in his career, including The Man Who Would Be King, The Year of Living Dangerously, Fatal Attraction and Ghost.

Norah Jones Turns 30

Norah Jones turns 30 today, and maybe it’s a sign of The Modern Age that her big peak (so far) was already seven years ago, when she released the hit album Come Away With Me. It’s not clear what she’s up to these days. Her official site lists nothing in the “Tour” section and still says “copyright 2007.”Come Away With Me won eight Grammy Awards, so she’s still averaging better than one Grammy per year.

Photos of Robert Pattinson — and Others

We’re testing something new on Who2: photos.Our photo set of teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson seems to be an early favorite with users.Other photo sets currently up include Jessica Alba, Malia Obama, and Natasha Richardson.

Casting the Stooges: Is it April 1st Already?

In one of the most bizarre casting revelations in recent Hollywood memory, MGM and the Farrelly brothers are closing in on the actors who will become the new Three Stooges. And their choices to play the updated versions of three impetuous nitwits who whack each other over the head with lead pipes? Oscar-wining actors Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro, along with Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey. So says MTV.

Letterman Gets Hitched

“I had avoided getting married pretty good for, like, 23 years, and I — honestly, whether this happened or not — I secretly felt that men who were married admired me… like I was the last of the real gunslingers, you know what I’m saying?”Dave Letterman got married.

Lance Armstrong Breaks Collarbone

“A fracture of the third medio of the right clavicle,” say race organizers.Armstrong’s take: “I think for the Tour [de France], it’s a very big problem.”

Small World for Dr. Wu

Speaking of Dr. Wu: Turns out that one guy — Phil Woods — played the alto sax solos on “Dr. Wu” and on Billy Joel’s tune “Just the Way You Are.””Wu” was 1975, “JTWYA” was 1977. (Woods comments on the latter here.)

Are You With Me, Doctor Chu?

Dr. Chu brings certain assets that none of his peers or predecessors have had: a Nobel Prize, a YouTube following (for his lectures on climate change) and an unofficial theme song (“Dr. Wu” by Steely Dan). He is a major celebrity in Taiwan, where scientific achievement is rewarded with rock star status. From a NY Times profile of Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu.

“Getting Their Kirk On”

Hobbyists build their own Captain Kirk chairs from Star Trek.”Sitting in it,” said Mr. Bradshaw, the graphic designer, “I find myself striking an action pose quite unconsciously.”

Richardson Autopsy: “Blunt Impact” to the Head

The death of Natasha Richardson has been ruled an accident by the New York City medical examiner. The cause of death was determined to be an epidural hematoma — bleeding in the brain — caused by a “blunt impact” to her head.

Photo: Manson a Graybeard at 74

Prison officials have released a new photo of killer Charles Manson. It’s part of “periodic updates of inmate images,” says a spokesman.Still with the swastika.

Natasha Richardson, 1963-2009

Shocking, but now confirmed: Natasha Richardson has died, apparently of head injuries, after falling on a ski slope on Monday.

Natasha Richardson Health Update

It’s still quite confusing.The actress was flown from Canada to New York yesterday, where she is at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Photo from 'WAGs: Are They Ruining Soccer?'

WAGs: Are They Ruining Soccer?

And is Victoria Beckham to blame? Maybe.Mostly we just like saying “WAGs” — a term that has its fifth anniversary this year. 

Sara Jane Olson Gets Out of Jail

Sara Jane Olson, also known as Kathleen Soliah, gets out of prison today, leaving the women’s facility at Chowchilla, California after serving seven years for her part in crimes committed in 1975. Kathleen Soliah was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), the sorta-Marxist outfit that famously kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst back in 1974.

Man Resigns Via Cake

Those San Franciscans!Best comment from Boing Boing:If I ever resign my job, I shall deliver the message, scorched with a magnifying glass onto the side of a large slab of beef jerky.

“The Life and Times of Royal Brougham”

As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer fades away, the staff reruns a salute to an old-school sportswriter: Royal Brougham.Brougham worked for the P-I for 68 years and went out on the job: He died of a heart attack at a Seahawks game in 1978.

Don’t Call Him “John-John”

John F. Kennedy, Jr. was never called “John-John” by his family.At least, not according to JFK aide and speechwriter Ted Sorensen. In his 2008 book Counselor, Sorensen recalls sending a draft of his 1965 memoir Kennedy to Jacqueline Kennedy for her review.

Seth MacFarlane Just Missed 9/11

Odd factoid about Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane: he had a ticket on Flight 11 out of Boston on the morning of 9/11. He was late for the flight.

Actor Ron Silver Dead at 62

Whoa! Actor Ron Silver has died at the young age of 62. He “had been fighting esophageal cancer for two years,” says ABC News.(That’s the same cancer that got Harold Pinter three months ago.)

“A Meta-analysis of John Galliano’s George Washington Hair”

The designer goes Colonial:Whereas George powdered his hair, Galliano’s looks to have been painted white or covered in Wite-Out. Always looking forward and taking risks, that Galliano — no wonder critics love him! Also, the article calls Washington “G-Dubs.”

Lindsay Lohan on the Lam

“A warrant was in fact issued Friday for the arrest of Lindsay Lohan… It is our hope that Ms. Lohan will surrender herself so this matter can be resolved in at timely manner.” Lindsay Lohan is a wanted criminal in Beverly Hills.

Photo from 'Wait, John Tyler's Grandson Is Still Alive?'

Wait, John Tyler’s Grandson Is Still Alive?

Yes, it’s true.Harrison Tyler, age 81, grandson of President John Tyler, is alive and well and living in the family homestead in Virginia.Let’s back up. John Tyler was president from 1841-45. How can a guy who became president 168 years ago have a living grandson?

Larry Bird Scores 60

Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick offers up this video of Larry Bird scoring 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks, on this day in 1985.

Bush Shoe-Tosser Gets Three Years

Three years in prison. That’s the sentence for Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference in December.

Bristol Palin and Boyfriend Split Up

It’s true: After the surprise announcement in August, the convention in September, and the baby in December, Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have parted ways.

The Secret Message in Lincoln’s Watch

The Smithsonian has announced that they’ve found a secret message inside the pocket watch that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln. The message was left by a watch repairman named Jonathan Dillon and probably never seen by Lincoln himself.Inside the watch Dillon inscribed a note indicating that Fort Sumter had been attacked, along with the date (“April 13 – 1861”) and the note “thank God we have a government.”

Frank Lloyd Remote

A little-known Frank Lloyd Wright home is for sale in farm country near Los Banos, California. The SF Chronicle has photos.What a fireplace!

Extreme Makeover: Historical Edition

What did William Shakespeare really look like? Most of us have seen the same image for the last five hundred years, from an engraving by Martin Droeshout, done about seven years after Shakespeare died.It shows us a Shakespeare who was a big-headed, little fella, in plain garments and looking a tad shabby.

News Flash: Barbie and Ken Are “Just Friends”

Mattell sets the record straight:Barbie has never been married (she just likes wearing wedding gowns), she is “just friends” with Ken and her “real” measurements are 5 inches (bust) x 3 1/4 inches (waist) x 5 3/16 inches (hips). Her weight is 7 1/4 ounces.

Barbie Turns 50

Today, 50 years after her debut at New York Toy Fair, Barbie doll celebrates five decades as the world’s most popular fashion doll by unveiling a new face and throwing a pink-carpet birthday bash at her real Malibu Dream House.So says Mattel, in a press release datelined “Malibu, Calif.”Yes, Barbie is 50.

Joe Lieberman Now Pro-Bama

After campaigning across the country for Republican John McCain in 2008 and attacking Obama as naive, untested and unwilling to take on powerful special interests, Lieberman now showers praise on the popular new Democratic president.

A Swingset for the White House

The 100 percent cedar and North American Redwood structure has four swings, including a tire swing, a slide, a fort, a climbing wall and climbing ropes. There’s also a picnic table with brass plates etched with the names of all 44 presidents.Malia and Sasha Obama now have their own swingset.The AP has photos.

Second-Tier Twins

Pretty-famous actors Catherine O’Hara and Adrian Zmed were both born on this day in 1954. 441 miles apart: Zmed in Chicago and O’Hara in Toronto.Both were very big in the ’80s, Zmed as a star of cop show T.J. Hooker and O’Hara as a continuing part of the Second City TV comedy gang.

Keith Richards, Voice of Moderation

You know you’ve got problems when you get a “booze ultimatum” from Keith Richards.Even China Daily is on the story.