The Lycos 50 Blog: News from the Pop Culture Fast Lane
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Man Flies Helium Balloons Over State Lines!
A 48-year-old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert on July 5, landing safely in a field in Idaho. Ken Couch, from Cambridge, Idaho, covered 235 miles in nine hours after taking off in a green lawn chair rigged with a cluster of more than 150 giant party balloons. This was Couch's third balloon flight, he first realized it was possible after watching a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles, done by Larry Walters who was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules. During Couch’s first attempt in 2006 he had to parachute out after too many balloons popped and last year he flew 193 miles, just short of his goal of crossing state lines, “I'm not stopping till I get out of state,” he said. Each balloon can carry 4 lbs, the chair alone was 400 lbs along with Couch and his parachute adding 200 more. “I'd go to 30,000 feet if I didn't shoot a balloon down periodically,” Couch said. To shoot the balloons down he carries a Red Ryder BB gun and a blow gun equipped with steel darts. He also had a handheld Global Positioning System with altimeter, a satellite phone and two GPS tracking devices.
eBay is feeling the heat! A French court ordered the online auctioneer to pay nearly 40 million euros (63 million US) in damages to Louis Vuitton on June 30 for selling fake products against copyright protection. The court ruled in favor of six of LVMH brands and four perfumes that were being sold, Christian Dior, Kenzo, Givenchy and Guerlain. eBay immediately announced it would lodge an appeal, rejecting the view that the court had upheld copyright law. The case, which started a year and a half ago, stated that eBay knowingly allowed the sales of counterfeit products on its site. The court also issued eBay a cease and desist order preventing it from running ads for the perfume and cosmetic brands. If they don't oblige, they'll face a fine of 50,000 euros per day (over $78K.)
The New York Post reports a musical adaptation of the Addams Family is due to hit Broadway with what is shaping up to be an all-star cast. The roles of Morticia and Gomez have been offered to Tony winners Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane. The remake is being written by Adam Lippa, who wrote The Wild Party in 2000, along with Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, who created Shockheaded Peter, designing and directing. The $10 million dollar ordeal is scheduled to hit the stage in 2009.
Tomatoes have been on the do-not-eat list since the FDA told consumers to stay away from the tomatoes grown in Florida after a salmonella outbreak hit 16 states, sickened 145 people and killed a Texas man. Six new illnesses have been connected to the tainted toms in NYC. The New York Health Department claims seven people have been affected by the salmonella since the outbreak was reported earlier this month. The U.S. government counts 228 illnesses in 23 states and is urging consumers nationwide to avoid raw red plum, red roma or red round tomatoes unless they were grown in specific states or countries the FDA has approved. The source of the outbreak is still unclear, the FDA reports central and southern Florida are suspect, along with parts of Mexico.
Rumors of NBC’s The Officespin-off have been making their way around Hollywood, especially now that Aziz Ansari, of MTV’s sketch comedy Human Giant is the first hired cast member according to Variety. Producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur are keeping a low profile on Ansari’s role, but the studio confirmed he did sign a one-year contract with Universal Media Studios as a part of his deal. Producers, keeping details under tight security, will not comment on any specifics of the show. Recently, Daniels and Schur have been spotted working diligently on plans for the new show, which is scheduled to premiere on Thursday nights at 9:30 P.M. immediately following The Office. “We're focusing on making the best show we can make as a companion to The Office,” said Schur. “We're trying to come up with the best concept and hire the funniest writers. In the next couple of weeks, we'll be making the final move to one specific idea.”
Girl Swallows Magnets
Haley Lents, an 8-year-old from Indiana, swallowed 30 magnets and steel balls from a toy called Magnetix, made by Mega Brands, in late May. Haley underwent emergency surgery in order to remove the magnets that left 8 gunshot-like wounds in her intestines. Jason Lents says he and his wife were in the room when Haley consumed the parts and doesn’t know why his daughter would do such a thing, saying she “gets A's and B's, and we taught her not to do stuff like this.” Haley Lents told Early Show co-anchor, Maggie Rodriguez, she ingested the ten magnets and 20 steel balls because they “looked like candy.” Haley now wants to tell other kids not to do the same thing; she and her father will be spreading awareness. Mega Brands has issued the following statement: “Mega Brands was saddened to learn that a child sustained injury from ingesting a large number of toy parts, some of which apparently contained magnets. While we have not been able to confirm whether the toy involved was a Mega Brands product, it is clear this was a highly unusual and isolated situation and is not indicative of any problem with Mega Brands' magnetic construction toys currently on the market. In general, if a child swallows 30 pieces of any toy, it is likely that it will result in harm regardless of the toy in question.”
Rachael Ray’s latest Dunkin’ Donuts commercial has caused quite a controversy, as the popular chef sported a scarf that resembles a ‘keffiyeh.’ Fox News reporter Michelle Malkin says “The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is a traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.”
Dunkin’ Donuts first ignored the complaints, claiming the scarf Ray was wearing was fashion and not a ‘keffiyeh,’ but finally pulled the commercial after getting harassed by the media. The company states, “In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.”
Tragedy struck the family home of Christian singer Curtis Chapman on May 22 when his 5-year-old daughter was struck by car and died. According to police reports, Maria Sue was playing in the driveway of the family’s home on when she was hit by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her older brother. Maria Sue was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville Tennessee where she passed away. Maria Sue was the youngest of three daughters Chapman and his wife adopted from China. The Chapman’s adopted Shaohannah in 2000, Stevey Joy in 2003, and Maria in 2004.
A large number of adoption groups gathered and prayed for Chapman and his family. The singer and his wife promote international adoption, but also have three biological children. The two founded “Shaohannah's Hope,” which is a foundation and ministry to financially assist thousands of couples in adoption. A memorial service for Maria Sue is set for May 24. The family released a statement requesting donations to The Shaohannah Hope Ministry in lieu of flowers.
On May 17 Senator Ted Kennedy, 76, was rushed to the emergency room due to stroke-like symptoms. The Senator was first admitted to Cape Cod Hospital, but was quickly transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. On May 20 Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, which had mimicked symptoms of a stroke but was in fact a seizure caused by the malignant growth in his brain.
“The Kennedy family has faced adversity more times in more instances with more courage and more determination and more grace than most families have to," said Senator John Kerry. “Every one of us knows what a big heart this fellow has. He's helped millions and millions of people — from the biggest of legislation on the floor to the most personal.”
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, starring Harrison Ford, world premiers on Sunday, May 18 at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Indiana Jones, who has not been seen in a screen adventure since 1989, is inspiring Jones-fever all over the world. The fourth generation Indiana Jones movie has been said to have started many years ago, starting on Oscar night in 1994, when Ford presented Steven Spielberg a statuette for Schindler’s List, he then, as they were walking to the press room, surprised him by telling him he wanted to revisit the character of Jones. It took until two years ago to sort it out and moving the story back 20 years in order to get the film finished and fans are thrilled. Check it out for yourself, in theaters May 22, 2008!