Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rihanna ad campaign makes me want to visit the island country of Barbados

Pop music star Rihanna is featured in a new series of advertisements for her island home of Barbados. And they’re very effective. They make me want to vacation there.
Rihanna has done a terrific job as an official honorary ambassador of youth and culture for Barbados. The Daily Mail praised her recent ad campaign as well.
My favorite photo series of Rihanna was her celebrating Kadooment Day in Barbados in August 2011. You can tell she’s having a blast.



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fairytale art for adults

I’m amazed by the amount of artwork that’s inspired by classic fairytales, especially those adapted by the Walt Disney Co.
Stories from our childhood seem popular with artists for reimagining and reinterpreting. And since everyone is familiar with the stories behind them, people can appreciate the twists that artists put into their interpretations.
Classic fairytales also are in the public domain so they are free to use. But many artists mix them with modern pop culture works that are protected – if the rights holders choose to enforce their copyrights.
Here are some of the latest examples I’ve seen.

Depressed Disney princesses

Photographer Dina Goldstein of Vancouver, B.C., created a series of images called “Fallen Princesses.” The photos depict fairytale characters like Snow White and Cinderella in bleak modern-day settings.
“I explored the original brothers Grimm’s stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, many of which were changed by Disney,” she wrote. “I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.”
For examples, see “Snowy” and “Cinder” above.
These photos remind me of the work of photographer Thomas Czarnecki, whose series “From Enchantment to Down” depicted the demise of a bunch of female fairytale characters.
Platinum Image Conception Studio of Rio de Janiero used photography to put a sexy spin on classic fairytale stories like Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel. Check out the company’s fantasy portfolio, as well as examples here and here.

Fairy Tales for Twenty-Somethings


In his Tumblr blog, Fairy Tales for Twenty-Somethings, Tim Manley takes a comic approach to fairytale characters dealing with real-life problems.
He imagines Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, the Frog Prince and other characters managing their personal problems as if they were millennial urbanites.
For instance, Rapunzel cuts her hair super short and suddenly attracts lesbian suitors.

Annie Leibovitz’s Disney series

Disney has reimagined its own fairytale movies over the years using photographer Annie Leibovitz and a host of celebrities.
The most recent in the series features singer Taylor Swift as Rapunzel. It was released this month.
Previous entries in the series have included Olivia Wilde as the Evil Queen and Alec Baldwin as the Spirit of the Magic Mirror. Earlier sets were released in August 2012 and March 2011.
See other photos from the series at Miss Geeky and Fanpop.


Pop princesses meet Disney princesses

One piece of art circulating on the Internet juxtaposes classic Disney princesses with today’s pop music princesses, most of whom got their start with Disney.
The artwork features (bottom left to right) Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift. Swift is the only one of these young women who was not a Disney starlet.


Another series of illustrations shows the Disney princesses as little girls with their animal friends as plush toys. These works were done by artist Moon Child in the Sky on DeviantArt.
Above and below are samples showing a young Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” and a young Jasmine from “Aladdin.”


Disney princesses mashed up with other pop culture works

A common theme of Disney princess art is to mix those characters into other stories in pop culture such as “Pokemon” and “Star Wars.”
Artist Hapuriainen of Finland did drawings of the Disney princesses as Pokemon trainers in Japanese anime style. She’s obviously a big Pokemon fan because she’s got other Pokemon-inspired artwork on her website.
Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, including the “Star Wars” franchise, in October inspired a ton of Disney princess-“Star Wars” mashups. Princess Leia is the newest Disney princess.


Disney artist Adam Dix sketched the above drawing of Princess Leia meeting all the other classic Disney princesses.
Phillip Sevy, an artist known as thecreatorhd on DeviantArt, did a drawing of all the Disney princesses wearing sexy slave girl outfits in Jabba’s lair.


Another artist, Naima Sawyer-Dymski, drew the Disney princesses as Jedi knights and other “Star Wars” characters.
My favorite recent mashup is a movie poster for “Princess Leia and the Seven Jawas,” a take-off on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” of course. It was done by artist Jozef Kyselica.

 
Artist Christopher Stoll depicted several Disney princesses as Marvel superheroes the Avengers in his artwork. Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009.
And artist Witit Karpkraikaew drew Disney princesses as grotesque living-dead zombies.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lingerie Football League is finished, replaced by Legends Football League

The owners of the Lingerie Football League announced earlier this month that they are changing the official name of the LFL to Legends Football League.
The decision was made to improve the image of the women’s football league before its fourth season begins on March 30. Executives admitted that the lingerie, including frilly bras, panties and garter belts, was just a gimmick to attract early interest to the LFL.
I suggested mid last year that the LFL change its name to the Ladies Football League and change their uniforms too.
“Instead of modified lingerie, these athletes could be wearing sports bras and shorts. Still call it the LFL, but make the first ‘L’ stand for ‘Ladies,’” I wrote in May 2012.
Am I the only person who thinks Legends Football League sounds like a seniors league? It makes me think of a league for retired NFL players to scrimmage. Nothing about “legends” makes me think about female athletes, much less sexy female athletes. (I’m talking about you, Liz Gorman of the Tampa Breeze, as the photos below show.)
It’s not the first time I’ve accurately predicted changes that would improve the league’s reputation. The LFL took my advice about moving from pay-per-view to cable, deemphasizing the sexy aspects of the sport, creating safer uniforms and giving more attention to the stars of the game (see the Baltimore Charm’s Angela Rypien and Ashley Helmstetter on a Jan. 22 Fox News broadcast).
In a press release this month, the LFL said it rebranded the sport as Legends Football League to highlight athletics.
“This is the next step in the maturation of our now global sport,” said LFL founder and Chairman Mitch Mortaza. “While the Lingerie Football League name has drawn great media attention allowing us to showcase the sport to millions, we have now reached a crossroad of gaining credibility as a sport or continuing to be viewed as a gimmick. In the coming years we will further establish this sport in the U.S., Australia, Europe and Asia as the most known form of American football globally. In order to reach the next milestone, we feel the focus has to be the sport and our amazing athletes.”
Those are commendable reasons for the rebranding. But the decision ultimately must have been financial. Taking away the gimmicky and sexual aspects of the sport will likely help with sponsors, advertisers and mainstream media coverage, methinks.
The LFL rebranding includes replacing the lingerie uniforms with performance sportswear, removing the “sexy female figures” from the LFL logo, redesigning the shoulder pads to increase protection, and changing the brand tagline to “Women of the Gridiron” from “True Fantasy Football.”
The LFL expanded from the U.S. to Canada last year and plans leagues in Australia this year and Europe in 2015.
One unknown is whether the new uniforms will eliminate on-field wardrobe malfunctions, an embarrassing element of the Lingerie Football League. For examples of LFL wardrobe malfunctions, check out the Tumblr blog called LFL Wardrobe Malfunctions. Duh.

Photos:
LFL’s new uniforms and name (top) and the beautiful Liz Gorman of the Tampa Breeze. Gorman announced Friday that she will not be playing for the Jacksonville Breeze (formerly the Tampa Breeze) this upcoming season.


Articles on the rebranding of the LFL:

The lie perpetuated by the Lingerie Football League (Guyism; Jan. 23, 2013);

Lingerie Football League looks for credibility (ESPN; Jan. 15, 2013);

Lingerie Football League Rebrands to Legends Football League (EOG; Jan. 10, 2013);

Lingerie Football League shedding lingerie, and not in the fun way (Philly.com; Jan. 10, 2013).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Porn studios like to parody mainstream Internet companies

I’ve written previously about how porn studios are running out of subjects to parody.
They have moved from parodying mainstream movies and TV shows to putting an X-rated twist on everything from public figures to TV commercials and consumer products.
Another target for adult movie studios has been Internet companies, many of which already have been tainted by profanity, nudity and hard-core sex on their services. Craigslist, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all have received the porn parody treatment.
Strangely there are no parodies yet for Angie’s List, LinkedIn, Groupon, Yahoo or Tumblr, all of which seem like naturals.
So, guess which Internet company has been parodied the most by porn studios?
It’s MySpace with 18 movies to date, followed by Facebook with 13, Twitter with seven and Craigslist with five.

Updated March 9, 2014.

Most popular Internet companies for porn studios to parody

1. MySpace

My Space (2006-08), a series of four movies to date
MySpace.cum (2006), a series of two movies to date
MyPlace: A Space for Whores (2006-07), a series of four movies to date
MyXXXpornspace.com (2006)
Bi Space (2007)
MyBlackAssSpace.com (2007), two movies in series
From MySpace to My Place (2007-08), a series of two movies to date
MySexSpace (2008)
MyFavorite.EmoSluts (2011)

2. Facebook

Fuck-Book Diaries (2012-13), a series of seven movies to date
Social Network Sluts (2012-13), a series of three movies to date
The Facial Network (2012)
MILFbook (2009), a series of two movies to date

3. Twitter

Twitter My Shitter (2009)
Titter (2009)
Pornstar Tweet (2009)
#ImaSlut (2011-12), a series of three movies to date
Tweeters (2013)

4. Craigslist

Creig’s List Cuties (2012-13), a series of three movies to date
Craig’s List Compulsion (2008)
Graigslist (2006)

5. YouTube

Lube You (2006)
Yu Tube (2009)
New Tube (2009-10), a series of two movies to date

See photo gallery on Flickr.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

AVN needs to reconsider what’s a clever porn title

The 2013 AVN Awards, considered the Oscars of the porn industry, were handed out Saturday in Las Vegas.
Since I never see any of these movies, the only category of interest to me is the Clever Title of the Year award. This year’s winner was “Does This Dick Make My Ass Look Big?” by Vouyer Media. That’s a humorous title, but most of the 15 nominees were not that clever.
As an outsider whose interest in the porn industry is almost entirely First Amendment driven, I like porn titles that parody mainstream movies and popular culture. The only nominee fitting that description this year was “Occupy My Ass” by Bobbi Starr and Evil Angel, which riffed on the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The only studio interested in parody porn titles these days seems to be Caballero Video. In recent years, it’s been giving its porn movies titles and covers that mock popular brands of breakfast cereal, snack foods, candy, alcoholic drinks and caffeinated beverages. They’re like Wacky Packages done by pornographers.
But the trend could be nearing an end.
Caballero last fall pulled off the market a series of 10 movies that parodied Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors. The ice cream company, owned by Unilever, sued and got a judge to issue a restraining order on the sale of the movies in question.
Caballero should have stuck to its guns for the sake of First Amendment parody rights. But it caved. It’s “Ben & Cherry’s” movies parodied real ice-cream flavors Boston Cream Pie (“Boston Cream Thigh”), Banana Split (“Banana Clit”), Late Night Snack (“Late Night Snatch”) and Peanut Butter Cup (“Peanut Butter D-Cup”). It pulled the DVDs off the market in September and agreed to destroy them, according to Bloomberg, Reuters, Los Angeles Times and New York Post.

Photo: Caballero Video’s banned “Peanut Butter D-Cup” porn video. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Absurd morality against sexy women who model extends to Europe

Lisa from Italian blog Very Special Girls reports that the treatment of women who’ve worked in porn or as sexy models can be just as harsh in Europe as in the U.S.
In a response to my article on Thursday, she points to two similar cases of “unjust and wicked discrimination” of women in Italy.


In October 2010, a teacher at the prestigious San Carlo Catholic High School in Milan, Ileana Tacconelli, sparked controversy when racy photographs of her were posted on the Internet.
One mother complained to the head teacher that Tacconelli was “too attractive and a distraction.” Tacconelli, who has three degrees, is a former beauty queen and model.
(See articles in the Daily Mail, AcidCow and Very Special Girls.)

Last March, furious parents pulled their children out of an Italian nursery school after it emerged that one of the teachers there posed for sexy photos in see-through underwear.
Michela Roth, a teacher at Castello di Serravalle near Bologna, is a model who has won several beauty pageants.
(See articles in the Daily Mail, AcidCow, Piximus and Very Special Girls.)

Photos: Ileana Tacconelli (top two photos) and Michela Roth (bottom two photos).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Public treats porn performers, nude models like criminals

Stacie Halas committed no crime, but a school district fired her from her job as a middle school teacher because it discovered that she had performed in pornographic movies years earlier.
A three-judge panel for California’s Commission on Professional Competence on Tuesday sided with the school district that fired Halas last April.
America is puritanical when it comes to sex and nudity. It punishes women who have appeared in adult films, posed naked or worked as strippers. Male porn performers seem to get more lenient treatment.
The news media enjoy covering these stories because they know sex sells and can attract viewers and readers.
America used to treat adulterers, unwed mothers and homosexuals the same way. Imagine a school district trying to fire a teacher for being gay today.
As a country, we need to get over our sexual hang-ups and not treat porn performers and people who’ve posed naked as pariahs.
Here are some recent cases where the public has mistreated women for their porn past:

Science teacher loses her job because of porn past

Stacie Halas, 32, was fired from her job teaching science to middle school students in April after Oxnard, Calif., school district officials uncovered her porno past.
Halas appeared in porn films under the name Tiffany Six during an eight-month period between 2005 and 2006, three years before she started teaching science at Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School.
Students apparently discovered her porn past and alerted other teachers, the Associated Press reported.
School officials should be more concerned about juveniles watching porn than about the sex life of a teacher.
At one point, profanity was etched onto Halas’ classroom window. If it were a gay slur, that vandalism would be considered a hate crime.
“Many adult performers work to put themselves through school – especially now when support for education has hit an all time low,” Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, told AVN. “Ms. Halas worked in a legal industry in order to supplement her income, allowing her to go to college and better her life. Unfortunately, instead of supporting the responsible decision that she made, the Oxnard school district decided to discriminate against her. This was a poor decision; Ms. Halas does not deserve to be terminated. On the contrary, she deserves our utmost respect and support.”
Teachers being outed for their porn past is nothing new, LA Weekly reports in its article, “Porn-Star Teachers Are Nothing New: Our All-Time Top 5.”
The Tiffany Six story also was covered by the New York Daily News, the Daily Mail, International Business Times and Mstar News.


Teacher quits after porn past revealed

Science teacher Tera Myers, 38, quit her job last March at a St. Louis high school after being put on administrative leave following the discovery of her work in porn films.
Once again, a student discovered that Myers had made adult movies in the 1990s using the name Rikki Andersin.
Myers lost a job teaching at a Kentucky high school in 2006 for the same reason, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York Daily News.


Ukrainian porn star seeks EU asylum from persecution

Anastasia Grishay, a Ukrainian porn star known as Wiska, hopes to become the first in her profession to be granted asylum in the European Union because of her job.
Grishay, 26, claims she is being persecuted in her home country because of her work in porn films. She is requesting asylum after fleeing to the Czech Republic in 2010.
See articles from December by the Daily Mail, the Sun, Kyiv Post and International Business Times.


‘Pawn Star’ Olivia Black fired for nude photos

Reality TV star Olivia Black was fired from the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” show after her past as an adult model for goth-pinup site SuicideGirls.com was exposed by the National Enquirer.
Black modeled nude for SuicideGirls under the alias Belladonna. She joined “Pawn Stars” in early 2012 for season five of the reality series set around employees at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. She was fired in December after the nude photos came to light, Xbiz reported.
After she was canned, she returned to SuicideGirls to do a photo shoot, according to Fox News and the Inquisitr.


High school guidance counselor fired over sexy lingerie photos

Women don’t even have to pose nude to get fired by prudish bosses.
Tiffany Webb, a guidance counselor at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Manhattan, was fired after 12 years on the job because photos of her in lingerie and bikinis from her early career as a model were discovered on the Internet, the New York Post reported in October.
Webb, now 37, posed in seductive undies between age 18 to 20, but stopped modeling several years before she became a city teacher in 1999, the Post said.
Webb is now suing the Department of Education, charging wrongful termination, sex discrimination and violation of her First Amendment rights. She has since changed her name and has taken a teaching job in New Jersey. The story also was covered by AVN and Xbiz.


Houston Chronicle fires writer who moonlighted as a stripper

Houston Chronicle society writer Sarah Tressler was fired from her day job last March after a competing publication outed her for moonlighting as a stripper.
She later filed a gender discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (See original and follow-up stories by Jim Romenesko and articles by Jezebel and Xbiz.)
On the plus side, she turned her blog Diary of An Angry Stripper into a book. And the New York Daily News reported Jan. 15 that she’s taken a reporting job with the San Antonio Express News covering cops and crime.

Citizens raise ruckus about ex-porn star joining rescue squad

Ex-porn star Harmony Rose, 29, generated controversy last July when she joined the Cave Spring Rescue Squad in Roanoke County, Va.
She was working as an EMT for the squad when her porn past was discovered, WDBJ and the Huffington Post reported.
At the time she was working under a standard six-month probationary period, Xbiz reported. No word on whether the probationary period is over or whether she will be retained.


Minnesota high school refuses to let student bring porn star to prom

High school students have brought sports stars and other celebrities as their prom dates, but the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District in Minnesota refused to allow student Mike Stone to bring 19-year-old porn star Megan Piper.
The school thought Stone’s choice of a porn star as a date was inappropriate and would be disruptive, the Huffington Post reported.
Stone, 18, didn’t go to his high school prom last May, but the Daily Show got him a date with Piper and filmed a funny segment about the controversy, the Daily Dot reported. You can see the Daily Show video here.


Parents raise hell after Sasha Grey reads books to first graders

Parents complained after mainstream actress Sasha Grey (“Entourage” and “The Girlfriend Experience”) read books to first graders at a school in Compton, Calif. Grey also happens to be a retired porn star. (See articles by TMZ and Gawker.)

Organizations refuse charitable donations from adult entertainment companies

Last March, the cash-starved Little League baseball organization in Lennox, Calif., refused to take $1,200 donation from a gentlemen’s club, AVN reported.
In October, Susan G. Komen for the Cure rejected a donation from adult video site Pornhub.com. (See articles by AVN and Xbiz.)

Press gives female political candidates a hard time for posing for Playboy

Why does the press make such a big deal about female political candidates who once posed nude for Playboy? Because sex sells.
Last fall, two political candidates made headlines when it was revealed that they had posed in Playboy years earlier.
Amy Biviano, a Democratic candidate for the Washington state House of Representatives, had posed for Playboy’s October 1995 “The Women of the Ivy League” feature. (See articles in Wizbang, Seattle Weekly and Xbiz.) She lost the election.
Kerri Hoskins-Branson, a Democratic candidate for the Kane County, Ill., board, had posed for Playboy’s “Book of Lingerie,” “Girls of Summer,” “Bathing Beauties” and “Nudes.” (See articles by Xbiz and Kotaku.) Branson also lost the election.

Double standard for men

The Miami-Dade Public School system fired substitute high school teacher Shawn Loftis in January 2011 after learning of his career in porn as gay performer-director Collin O’Neal. But a state education commission ruled in March 2012 that Loftis can still teach in Florida, according to Click Orlando and Xbiz.
Last March, it was revealed that Jonathan Daniel Brown, one of the stars of teen comedy “Project X,” had appeared in a Bang Bros. porn movie called “Nerd Hunting.” TMZ reported that Brown did the porn movie to get some “on-screen experience.” He also “banged three smoking hot chicks” in the movie. Because he’s a man, the press exposure wasn’t a bad thing for Brown. (See articles by TMZ and AVN.)
In November, Cortland County, N.Y., District Attorney Mark Suben revealed his past as ’70s porn performer Gus Thomas. The story blew over and everyone has moved on. (See story by Xbiz and AVN.) However, he was the butt of a few jokes by Jay Leno.

Photos:
Poster for documentary “After Porn Ends” (2012);
Video screen grabs of Stacie Halas, a.k.a. Tiffany Six, from the New York Daily News and FilmDrunk;
Tera Myers, a.k.a. Rikki Andersin;
Anastasia Grishay, the Ukrainian porn star known as Wiska;
‘Pawn Star’ and Suicide Girl Olivia Black;
High school guidance counselor Tiffany Web;
Journalist and stripper Sarah Tressler;
Ex-porn star Harmony Rose;
Porn star Megan Piper;
Sasha Grey reads to first graders, photo by TMZ.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Will.i.am, Danny DeVito, Bill Clinton and other celebrities at CES 2013

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show was a celebrity-packed event.
It featured musical performances by Adam Levine and two members of his pop rock band Maroon 5 during Qualcomm’s keynote and Alicia Keys at Monster’s private party. Kesha, the Killers and Imagine Dragons performed at other CES corporate events.
Rappers 50 Cent, Ludacris and LL Cool J were there, as were NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tim Tebow and other familiar actors, musicians and sports stars.
Some celebs like musician Will.i.am, actor-director Danny DeVito and former President Bill Clinton spoke publicly at this year’s CES. Here’s a summary of those three appearances.

Is Will.i.am a crazy genius or just crazy?

Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am spoke at a CES panel on innovation on Tuesday (Jan. 8, 2013). In addition to being a musician, he is a founding shareholder in Beats Electronics and started a company called I.am.plus to make tech gadgets like an iPhone camera accessory.
When Will.i.am spoke, he didn’t make a lot of sense and rambled at times. You had to connect the dots and draw inferences to try to understand what he was saying. Many of his thoughts about technology and business seemed overly simplistic or not grounded in reality. He reminded me a bit of the character Chauncey Gardiner from “Being There” as other panelists agreed with him and interpreted what he said.
I’m a fan of Will.i.am’s music and think his work to inspire inner city kids to pursue careers in technology and business is wonderful. But his thoughts about tech and business seemed a little out there.
Will.i.am spoke a couple of times about the future of 3D printing.
“3D printers are going to change everything in our lifetime,” he said. “When machines make machines and the things that you want can be printed in your house ... And just the guts, you’ll replace them. We’ll see that in our lifetime.”
Huh? See what I mean?
“3D printers. You’re going to print your medicine. You’re going to print organs and stuff,” Will.i.am said at another point. “If you can sequence the human genome in your house, what does that mean for the way medical and that …” He trailed off, not completing his thought.
“Hospitals, medicines and doctors … that whole thing is going to be rethunk. And we’re going to be a part of that and we’re going to see that in the next 20 years,” he said. “You’ll see other things as big as your refrigerator that do things in the medical field. That will happen in our lifetime. Just like a microwave came in my grandma’s lifetime.”
I have no idea what he was getting at there.
“My jacket is going to be a computer in a couple of years … we’re going to wear technology,” Will.i.am said at another point. OK, I’ll grant him that one.
He sees data being interconnected; so that doctors can do things like examine your tweets on Twitter to make a diagnosis aided by information on where you’ve traveled and what activities you’ve done. He didn’t seem to grasp privacy issues in his technology predictions.
“Why do you need a scale in the bathroom? Shouldn’t the floor automatically tell you what you weigh? Why do we use mirrors? Why can’t we just have a camera on the wall with a display system? Fuck, why do we have mirrors in 2012,” he said passionately.
His views just got weirder and weirder.
He said people would have huge data storage systems in their homes.
“I’m going to have something in my house that’s going to be refriged because you need something cold to store all that data. Your refrigerator is going to be more than something that just stores your food in the next couple of years,” he said.
Will.i.am had his own interpretation of the Internet of things concept. He said the road should talk to the wheels of your car to alert you to speed bumps. And your car should talk to your refrigerator.
“As you pass by Ralph’s, (your fridge should call your smartphone and tell you), ‘You know, we ain’t got no milk in here,’” he said.
Will.i.am says he travels the world “sponging,” soaking up information “in the fashion of an anthropologist, and then at the same time affecting pop culture. So I started looking at myself as a pop-thropologist.”
I had a difficult time “sponging” what he was talking about.
“That’s why I like traveling. I sponge up everything. I’ve sponged up this whole room already,” he said.
Most news publications treated Will.i.am with kid gloves. They cleaned up his thoughts and his quotes for their articles to make the celebrity appear more articulate than he was.
See “Will.i.am is the most CES celebrity ever” by the Verge, “Will.i.am Flashes His Geeky Side at CES 2013” by Billboard, and “You’re not going to believe this, but Will.i.am is a tech visionary” by Digital Trends.

Danny DeVito cracks up the crowd

Actor-director Danny DeVito had the crowd at the Panasonic booth in stitches during CES 2013. The comic actor spoke about his favorite tech gadget (his iPhone), complained about TV remote controls and gave behind-the-scenes details of his movies and TV shows.
DeVito came across as humble and gracious and liked to make self-deprecating jokes. He was the opposite of Will.i.am, who struck me as full of himself and braggadocios.
He said he likes to take photos and text his kids with his iPhone, but the Siri personal digital assistant software can be annoying. “I turned her off just a minute ago. She’s always bothering me. She’s a ball-breaker,” DeVito said.
DeVito owns a Panasonic Viera smart TV, but is confused by its complicated remote control.
“The thing that confounds me is: How many buttons do you have to put on that damn remote? It drives you crazy,” he said. “Just make a remote control we can all use so we don’t have an IT guy living in the house.”
He loves high-definition Blu-ray Discs. Comparing Blu-ray to DVD, he said “Blu-ray kicks its ass,” he said. His movies “Hoffa” and “War of the Roses” are coming out on Blu-ray Disc soon.
Asked about what technology he thought was interesting at the show, he made fun of Panasonic’s bone-conduction headphones for the hard of hearing. He said he liked that voice-activated TV thing where you could press a button and say, “Give me a boner.” He paced the stage and took questions from the crowd.
  • “Do I like watching myself in movies? Of course I do. I’m a ham.” 
  • “Who’s the best actor I’ve worked with? Myself. You know how many actors it takes to screw in a light bulb? One – he holds on to the light bulb and the world revolves around him.” 
  • “My current celebrity crush? I gotta be careful, you know. Gee, there are so many guys out there that I’d … I don’t know. It’s hard to tell.” (Big laughs.) 
  • “Brad Pitt gets all my parts.” He said he’s getting reading to film another season of the FX comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Bill Clinton pleads for gun control legislation 

Former President Bill Clinton spoke about his charitable work at the Samsung keynote.
He also reminisced about how far the Internet and mobile phones have come since he was in office and talked about how cellphones have had a life-changing impact in developing countries.
Clinton spoke without a teleprompter, but since he’s a career politician and professional speaker now it’s not a surprise that’s he’s so good at it.
He saved the bulk of his speech to discuss challenges that face the country and the world, specifically the “vast chasms of inequality in education, health care, access to capital (and) access to jobs that pay a decent living.”
He touched on the “looming crisis of climate change.”
But he got the most applause for his support for an assault weapons ban following the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“Look in the United States at this raging debate we’re about to have over our absolutely unjustifiable neglect of gun safety. I signed the assault weapons ban, which limited these ammunition clips to 10 bullets, back in 1995 and it led to a massacre of the members of Congress who voted for it. The gun lobby beat the speaker of the House, they beat the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who was one of the most distinguished members of Congress, and any number of other members by terrifying people who lived mostly in smaller towns in rural America that we were coming to get their guns. An enormous amount of the money that they get comes from gun manufacturers. Why does anybody need a 30-round clip for a gun? Why does anyone need one of those things that carries 100 bullets? Half of all mass killings (ever) in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005. I grew up in a hunting culture, but this is nuts.”
Photos: 
Will.i.am speaks at CES 2013 (Patrick Seitz photo);
Close-up of Will.i.am’s crazy shoes (Patrick Seitz photo);
Danny DeVito speaks at the Panasonic booth (Patrick Seitz photo);
Bill Clinton speaks at the Samsung keynote (CEA photo).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Highs and lows of CES 2013

Journalists love to complain about the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. So much so that it’s become a cliche.
I agree that the show is a logistical nightmare to cover for news media like myself. This year, the already massive show added another major venue, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the far south end of the Strip. Along with the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Venetian Hotel, that makes three major bases of operation for the show. It was unwieldy.
Long taxi queues and lines for CES shuttle buses and the Las Vegas Monorail are the norm during the show. You get used to it and try to plan your schedule to minimize hassles.
On a couple of occasions I opted to walk for more than a mile because I knew I’d get to my destination faster than waiting for and riding on a shuttle bus.
The day before CES officially opens the organizers schedule a full day of back-to-back press conferences where major companies like Panasonic, Samsung and Sony pitch their newest devices. In recent years, it has been hard to get into some press events because there are simply too many reporters and bloggers.
This year, for the first time in 13 years of going to the show, I wasn’t able to get into the LG Electronics press conference because the room reached capacity before it started.
The CES organizers, the Consumer Electronics Association, need to set up overflow rooms where reporters who get locked out can watch the presentations on closed circuit TV.
Reporters from the same news organization often tag team press day, with each journalist covering every other event, standing in line for an hour or more to get good seats.
The CEA reported Friday that this year’s show had more than 5,000 media in attendance, the same as last year.
We journos complain about CES, but still come year after year. I guess we’re masochists.
What follows are some random notes about my impressions of CES 2013.

Best keynote presentation: Qualcomm

The Verge wrote a scathing review of Qualcomm’s keynote presentation. They found it flaky, dorky and an overall train wreck. The website’s summary article and live blogging of the event read like they were written by the old balcony critics on “The Muppet Show.”
They didn’t report on what was occurring on stage so much as cracking jokes and making sarcastic asides the whole time.
Yes, the opening sketch about young people who are “Born Mobile” was awful. But it was Vegas awful. It was so bad, you couldn’t turn away.
And Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs should have been the one interacting with Big Bird from “Sesame Street,” not some weird flunky.
I liked the Qualcomm keynote because it was unpredictable and had a lot of energy. The company was at least trying to be entertaining. It was preferable to the opening night keynotes in years past from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Those were snoozefests with the only entertainment coming from an occasional technical glitch.
I liked the segments in the Qualcomm keynote featuring movie director Guillermo del Toro (I love his work) and “Star Trek Into Darkness” actress Alice Eve (awkward as her scripted interchange with Jacobs was). And the performance by Maroon 5 at the end was a treat.
I also found Qualcomm’s announcements about its next-generation Snapdragon processors to be pretty illuminating.
Interestingly, a later article by the Verge called the Qualcomm event the “best press event” of CES 2013 for many of the reasons I just stated. So, get your story straight, guys.


“Blade 2” remastered for ultra HD 

Director Guillermo del Toro discussed taking “Blade 2” (2002) from the film vaults and remastering an ultra HD version of it. People will be able to see the vampire superhero movie “exactly as it was intended to be seen,” he said.
The subject came up as Qualcomm was talking about chips for watching ultra HD video on smartphones and tablets, made possible by its latest mobile processors.
“Don’t go to the prime rib buffet after this,” del Toro warned the crowd before showing a gory clip.

Great performance by Maroon 5

Pop rock band Maroon 5 performed three songs in an acoustic set during the Qualcomm keynote event. Adam Levine sang “One More Night,” “This Love” and “Payphone.”
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs joked after their set that “Payphone” wasn’t appropriate for his speech about mobile technology. “I think that song should be called ‘Cellphone’ not ‘Payphone.’ That would be more mobile,” he said.
Levine said the group should have been called Maroon 3 for the evening because it included just him, lead guitarist James Valentine, and BJ Morton on keyboards.

Sign that CES is tragically unhip

One sign of how uncool CES was this year was the decision to play Psy’s overexposed “Gangnam Style” at media events for Qualcomm and Dish Networks.
Before another major media event at CES, the organizers played LMFAO’s equally overplayed “Party Rock Anthem.”
Have younger people choose the music, guys.

Funniest original video played at a keynote: Samsung

During its keynote presentation, Samsung Electronics played a very funny video that blamed the explosion of Internet traffic on cat videos. It wasn’t an original idea, but the cat videos were hilarious.

I won’t stop calling it the Consumer Electronic Show

The CEA has been urging media for years to stop calling its conference the Consumer Electronics Show. The official name is International CES, or CES on second reference.
When I tell people I’m going to CES, they say, “What’s that?”
Then I say, “The Consumer Electronics Show,” and they immediately know what I’m talking about.
The organizers obviously want to broaden the show to include other things like software, home appliances, cars and other technology. But the show is predominantly a consumer electronics event.
It’s not like American Telephone and Telegraph or International Business Machines, which changed their names because they weren’t relevant to what they did anymore.
So, I’m going to keep calling it the Consumer Electronics Show.

Most embarrassing tech gaffe at company press conference: Sony

For the big unveil at Sony’s press conference at CES, stage hands rolled out a prototype 56-inch 4K OLED TV. It’s the world’s largest in a category that combines two hot display trends: 4K, or ultra HDTV, and organic light-emitting diode screens.
But the set suffered a technical glitch and showed an interface screen before going into Microsoft’s black screen of death. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai joked that the display was great for showing off user interfaces.
Technicians tried to fix it on the spot, but they soon gave up, turned it off and wheeled it to the side of the stage. It was working fine at the Sony booth for the show.
The Seattle Times published a good article on the incident. And DigitalVersus has some decent photos of it.


Stupid back-to-the-future moment: Samsung

Journalists chuckled at Samsung’s CES press conference on Monday when an executive said the company had just coined the term “T-commerce.”
The concept of electronic purchasing through your TV has been around since at least early 1994 when Time Warner Cable began testing its interactive TV system in Orlando, Fla. Industry officials started calling TV-based purchasing T-commerce after Amazon.com and e-commerce became a big deal.
But Joe Stinziano, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics America, apparently was unaware of all previous efforts at T-commerce.
“We’re also introducing an entirely new way to interact with your TV. We call it T-commerce,” he said. “For instance, while watching the hit Fox show “New Girl,” viewers will be able to learn about Jess’ latest outfit and even purchase it with the click of a remote.”
I remember seeing demos for this sort of thing years ago at tech conferences, only the example they typically used was buying a sweater or outfit you saw on the then-current show “Friends,” which ran from 1994 to 2004.

Most cringe-inducing moment: Panasonic

Joe Taylor, chief executive of Panasonic North America, couldn’t stop raving about Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker. It was embarrassing.
Booker, a rising political star in the Democratic Party, appeared at Panasonic’s keynote event to discuss the company’s decision to move its U.S. headquarters to Newark.
Why Newark?
“It wasn’t financial. We had a number of opportunities that from a fiscal perspective were certainly much better. But none of those other cities had Mayor Booker,” Taylor said.
Taylor described Booker as a “visionary mayor.”
“In life, we need people who are incredibly smart, who are incredibly good looking or incredibly talented athletically. And that’s great one by one, but is it fair that one person should have all of those things?” Taylor gushed.
Journalist Lisa Ling, serving as host of the Panasonic event, said Taylor had a “man crush” on Booker. “It’s OK if you have a little man crush on Cory Booker,” she said. “We’re secure in our masculinity here.”

Best company-sponsored concert: Monster

Monster Cable held an invitation-only concert with Alicia Keys at the Paris Ballroom in the Paris Hotel on Wednesday Jan. 9. I managed to snag a press ticket.
Her hour-long set was terrific. She sang all her big hits including “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” and “Girl on Fire.”
I read that Kesha performed at Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio event, but only did a measly three-song medley and was gone.

Biggest disappointment: No star-power at Sony media event

Sony’s media event on press day at CES usually features actors from the company’s upcoming movies and musicians from its record label.
In recent years, actors Will Smith and Seth Rogen and singers Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson have appeared on stage at Sony’s event. But this year, it had no star power at all.
Perhaps new CEO Kaz Hirai is trying to save money or is preparing to sell off its movie and music units to shore up the struggling conglomerate.

Now my TV will think I’m gay, too

I’ve written several times on Tech-media-tainment about how Netflix’s movie recommendation engine thinks I’m gay. For the record, I’m not. (See posts from 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.)
At CES this week, Samsung and Panasonic announced smart TV systems that will make recommendations of shows to watch based on past viewing behavior as well as programs friends have watched and rated.
Hopefully they’ll do a better job than Netflix. Just because I like movie musicals and NBC’s TV show “Smash” doesn’t mean I want to watch gay-themed videos.

Photos: 
Samsung’s 85-inch Ultra HD, or 4K, TV with distinctive easel design and integrated speakers (CEA);
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and actress Alice Eve (Patrick Seitz photo);
Big Bird from “Sesame Street” at Qualcomm keynote (Patrick Seitz photo);
Maroon 5 at Qualcomm keynote (CEA); 
Sony’s booth at CES 2013 (Patrick Seitz photo);
Sony’s prototype 56-inch 4K OLED TV suffers a technical glitch (Patrick Seitz photo);
Microsoft error screen on Sony 4K OLED TV at CES 2013 (Patrick Seitz photo); 
Alicia Keys at Monster party at CES 2013 (Contactmusic.com); 
Promo art for NBC’s “Smash” starring Katharine McPhee.

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