Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Downfall of Intellect

The year was '99. Y2K was on the verge of destroying civilization (kinda like man-made global warming is now) while one band fearlessly took pride in making young people dumber, I was one of those young people. The poetic genius of Fred Durst had some how managed to rhyme the word "nookie" with "cookie". It's bewildering to think of the shite that I listened to when I was young.

What's more bewildering is that two of the older fellas on the team got into an argument about "Nookie" while in the dug-out. They were basically arguing over what "Nookie" meant. Nary a more philosophical discussion have I heard of. Anyway, I think we lost the game. We weren't too focused obviously, but at least we were cool. (?)

The trend of "being-dumb-is-cooler-and-less-pompous" became the social norm from this point forward. Though movies like 'Clueless' were responsible for starting the snowball effect years earlier; ultimately we have "Oh-I-remember-that-crappy-song" songs like this that shaped the intellect of the youth for the worst.

Some how I managed to reverse the "dumb-is-the-new-cool" syndrome for myself, but Limp Bizkit had done it's deed. They opened the floodgates for bands like Nickelback to come in; dance all around the intellect of our nation and go "cock-rock-a-doodle-doo." Oh well, at least Limp Bizkit's edgy brand of rap-rock is dead...for now.

No, Limp Bizkit is not solely responsible for the downfall of intellect...But they were certainly a major factor. To summarize for all you product-of-bizkit-idiots out there: Limp Bizkit made it cool to be dumb thanks to Fred Durst.


P.S. Wes Borland truly was the only good thing about ol' Limp Bizkit. What truely made Limp Bizkit suck was Fred Durst, and it's not pretentious or pseudo-intellectual to give your two-cent-opinion on any thing. My opinion is not superior to anyone else's opinion - if you think Limp Bizkit is good - so be it!

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Is This Music?: 29 terrific instrumentals by bands that usually sing

By Christopher Bahn, Marc Hawthorne, Jason Heller, Steven Hyden, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Sean O'Neal, Leonard Pierce, Tasha Robinson, Scott Tobias

1. Teenage Fanclub, "Is This Music?"

"Is This Music?" by Teenage Fanclub

Who knows—besides the members of the Scottish band themselves—what Teenage Fanclub were referring to with the title of the final song on the classic Bandwagonesque. Perhaps they didn't think it was music if it didn't have lyrics, or maybe it was just too cheerful and simple. Whatever the case, "Is This Music?" surely is music, a terrifically soaring way to end an album that holds up years later—if it didn't turn out to be as influential as 1991's other big hype, Nirvana's Nevermind.

2. Pavement, "Heckler Spray"

"Heckler Spray" by Pavement

Pavement had already released a pair of buzz-gathering seven-inch singles when they made the jump to 10 big inches for Perfect Sound Forever. And how to herald their leap into the semi-big-time? With a one-minute EP-opening instrumental in which Gary Young pounds his drums slowly in a modified Bo Diddley beat while guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg lay down twin riffs: one chugging, one stuttering. "Heckler Spray" is a grinding, spitting indie-rocker designed to shut the crowd up so the band can start the show.

3. Rush, "YYZ"

Instrumental tracks often seem like breathers for bands, but with Rush, nothing is ever that simple. "YYZ" takes its name from the airport code for the band's hometown, Toronto, and the song itself translates the letters into Morse code and uses that as the basis for its rhythms. But if you just want to listen to it rather than do the math, it still rocks pretty hard. (Also, this animated fan video—fanimation?—is amazing.)

4. Cake, "Arco Arena"

Most of Cake's music is about the funky, nerdy white-boy strut and John McCrea's chant-along vocals. McCrea's voice works almost like another instrument, establishing a choppy beat and rhythm fit to get stiff hipsters in '50s glasses pogoing along. Which is why the 91-second "Arco Arena," off the band's breakout album Comfort Eagle, is such a pleasant anomaly. A promo version with vocals was released as a single, but the album cut is an insinuating, creepy, slinky instrumental that sounds about as far off Cake's usual fare as George Harrison's sitar experiments were from The Beatles' early rock.

5. Fugazi, "Brendan #1"

"Brendan #1" by Fugazi

Fugazi dabbled in the occasional instrumental, and much of the Instrument soundtrack is dedicated to lyric-free bits, but the ones they occasionally chose for album inclusion are truly masterful. "Sweet And Low" from In On The Kill Taker is incredible, but it's edged out by the band-defining "Brendan #1," from Repeater, which essentially sums up Fugazi's energy with no yelping or shouting.

6. New Order, "Elegia"

Low-Life is New Order's most danceable, most technopop-informed album, but it also contains one of the band's saddest songs: the instrumental "Elegia," which runs mournful guitar plucking under synthesizers that sound alternately like a funeral mass and the stalker theme from Halloween. It's as powerful, evocative, and emotional a song as New Order ever recorded, and it was put to beautiful use in the Academy Award-nominated animated short More, where the song signifies the persistence of discontent.

7. Led Zeppelin, "Moby Dick"

Led Zeppelin albums featured instrumental tracks ranging from the memorable to the cringe-inducing, but none were mightier than this crushing number from Led Zeppelin II. Although a showcase for John Bonham's brawling drum solo, it's also got a killer blues-funk intro on guitar and bass.

8. The Who, "The Ox"

It didn't take long for The Who's John "The Ox" Entwistle to establish why he was one of the best rock 'n' roll bass players ever: The last track on the band's first album proves it as he cranks out a punishingly heavy bassline while a feedback-drenched guitar, Keith Moon's manic drums, and a crazed boogie piano go absolutely berserk.

9. Elliott Smith, "Kiwi Maddog 20/20"

Elliott Smith is known best as a purveyor of sad-bastard music, a reputation he established right away on his gorgeously downbeat 1994 solo debut Roman Candle. But Smith also had a slyly humorous side, which he exhibits on the closing instrumental "Kiwi Maddog 20/20," a languid surf-y tune that wouldn't be out of place playing over the credits of a Quentin Tarantino film. Which means "Kiwi Maddog 20/20" is totally out of place on a collection of depressing folk-pop songs, though after 30 minutes with Smith's quiet tales of desperation it's practically a lifeline.

10. Paul McCartney, "Momma Miss America"

For his first post-Beatles solo album, Paul McCartney opted for a homemade recording that sacrificed the larger-than-life slickness of his band for demo-like toss-offs like the smoky instrumental "Momma Miss America." It might not be as well crafted as immaculate Beatles tracks like "Eleanor Rigby" or "Hey Jude," but "Momma Miss America" has the disarming rawness of a bootleg, offering a rare inside glimpse at one of the world's biggest rock stars amusing himself in the studio.

11. The Commodores "Machine Gun"

The Commodores are remembered today for silky smooth ballads like "Easy" and "Three Times A Lady," but the Motown group's first hit was the instrumental "Machine Gun" off the 1974 album of the same name. Later Commodores songs were made for the dentist's office, but "Machine Gun" is a proto-disco dance floor scorcher, with clinking synths and an infectious wah-wah guitar forcefully rocking every booty in the house.

12. Uncle Tupelo, "Sandusky"

Uncle Tupelo's third album, March 16-20, 1992 (a dateline that reflects the recording sessions with producer Peter Buck), was in essence a back-to-basics acoustic record intended to affirm the band's country-folk bonafides, mixing Jay Farrar/Jeff Tweedy originals with standards like "Moonshiner" and "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come" and covers like the Louvin Brothers' "Atomic Power." The penultimate song, "Sandusky," serves not only as a pleasing bridge to the mournful Farrar closer "Wipe The Clock," but a delicate, evocative statement all its own. The simple interweaving of guitar and banjo seizes on a gorgeous musical phrase and keeps building on it until your imagination kicks up whatever "on the road" clichés it can conjure.

13. Eagles, "Journey Of The Sorcerer"

With so many vocalists (and egos) vying for attention in the Eagles, it's a wonder the group ever shut up long enough to record an instrumental, let alone one as full of as many atmospheric twists and turns as "Journey Of The Sorcerer" off of One Of These Nights. The album marked a transition from the group's earlier country-folk incarnation towards the slick rock sound that would dominate its career in the '70s, an evolution that would eventually cause founding member Bernie Leadon to leave the band. Perhaps that's why Leadon went for broke with this ambitious instrumental on his way out, a banjo-driven space odyssey full of synthesizer whooshes and orchestral bombast that most listeners probably skip on their way to less heady L.A.-malaise ballads "Lyin' Eyes" and "Take It To The Limit." Years later, the song would take on a second life when it was chosen by Douglas Adams as the theme for both the radio and television incarnations of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, where its odd, travelin'-the-backroads-of-the-universe vibe fit right in.

14. The Smiths, "Money Changes Everything"

"Money Changes Everything" by The Smiths

Considering how important Morrissey was to The Smiths, it's not surprising that he was rarely left out of the picture, but for the B-side to "Bigmouth Strikes Again," Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce, and Andy Rourke crafted an excellent mid-tempo instrumental that gets its groove on while traveling down a dark and mysterious path. Neither Morrissey nor Marr—without question one of the best songwriting teams of all time—have matched the old greatness since their split, but the latter came close when he retooled "Money Changes Everything" with Bryan Ferry to create "The Right Stuff" and proved that the music would still sound great with words.

15. Minutemen, "Cohesion"

Minutemen's Double Nickels On The Dime showed the world (or at least the small, punk corner of it) just how accomplished and all-over-the-map the band truly was. "Cohesion" is one of the album's most shocking moments—simply because it's so hushed. Taking a breather from his poetic rants and deconstructed funk, singer-guitarist D. Boon fingerpicks the delicate acoustic instrumental without the slightest regard for the fact that it couldn't be less punk.

16. Genesis, "The Brazilian"

By the time Genesis made 1986's Invisible Touch, the English act had undergone a massive transformation from its Peter Gabriel-fronted, prog-rock experimentalism into a vehicle for Phil Collins' far more mainstream songcraft, which had just netted him a hit solo album in No Jacket Required. But Genesis never let its proggier side fade away, and at the end of an album featuring a slate of slick pop tunes like "In Too Deep" came "The Brazilian," a synth-driven and sleek but dangerous-sounding instrumental that would have made a perfect theme song for a drug-lord villain in Miami Vice. And in fact, it was later used on Magnum, P.I. to show the detective's dark obsession in an episode where he was tempted to commit a revenge-motivated murder.

17. Buzzcocks, "Walking Distance"

As great as "Walking Distance"—Buzzcocks' ringing, anthemic instrumental—is, it's also slightly frustrating. True, the dueling melodies of guitarists Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle propel the song beautifully, and it's the type of track that would have made a great TV theme or incidental piece in a film. But it could just as easily have been a full-on, vocal Buzzcocks song—in which case it wouldn't be so criminally overlooked.

18. Iron Maiden, "Transylvania"

Iron Maiden fans can debate the merits of singer Paul Di'Anno versus those of his more famous replacement, Bruce Dickinson, all they want. The fact remains: "Transylvania," the instrumental track off the band's Di'Anno-led debut from 1980, is a knife-sharp, laser-precise, and viciously melodic example of classic British heavy metal.

19. Metallica, "Orion"

Metallica proved its instrumental mettle in 1984 with Ride The Lightning's 9-minute "The Call Of Ktulu." The band followed it up two years later with Master Of Puppets' "Orion," an equally epic instrumental that managed to be simultaneously more brutal and more complex than "Ktulu." Moving from searing thrash to sparse atmospherics that almost hint at Pink Floyd, "Orion" screams without a word.

20. Public Image Ltd., "Graveyard"

Rather than fill up the glaring absence of John Lydon's voice on the instrumental track "Graveyard," Public Image Ltd. Guitarist Keith Levene and bassist Jah Wobble used the empty space to its full potential. While Levene pokes the void with pointillist noise, Wobble bobs through it with a throbbing rumble that resembles nervous, inverted disco.

21. Blue Cheer, "Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger"

Mudhoney borrowed Blue Cheer's Hendrix-with-a-head-wound sound for its self-titled 1989 album—and also lifted, nearly note for note, Blue Cheer's 1968 instrumental, "Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger." Renamed "Magnolia Caboose Babyshit," Mudhoney's version, while decent, pales before Blue Cheer's original—a minute-and-a-half blast of coarse, crude, demented psychedelics.

22. Archers Of Loaf, "Smokin' Pot In The Hot City"

"Smokin' Pot In The Hot City" by Archers Of Loaf

Though seemingly a throwaway track on the Archers Of Loaf odds-and-ends collection The Speed Of Cattle, "Smokin' Pot In The Hot City" is still a winning song, with Eric Bachmann and Eric Johnson's guitars twisting playfully around each other instead of doing their usual snarling roar. As for the title, the liner notes claim the song is about "nothing in particular."

23. Galaxie 500, "Instrumental"

"Instrumental" by Galaxie 500

Well, there's no arguing with that title. The band famous for its sad, slow sound proved that even without lyrics, it could produce a gorgeous song that combined melancholy and triumph. Years later, it was used in an Acura commercial and touched off an argument over selling out that was as productive as such arguments always are.

24. Pink Floyd, "Interstellar Overdrive"

A ten-minute psychedelic epic that almost single-handedly kicked off the space-rock movement, "Interstellar Overdrive" may be the most widely covered instrumental song by a non-instrumental band. Supposedly, its memorable guitar hook was inspired by an attempt to remember Love's version of "My Little Red Book."

25. Meat Puppets, "I'm A Mindless Idiot"

A lot of instrumentals are little more than afterthoughts—good riffs that the band didn't know what else to do with—but "I'm A Mindless Idiot," one of three songs on the terrific Meat Puppets II without vocals, is essential to the album. Its rambling, relaxed feel perfectly conjures the sunny, wandering mood and distinct sound of the whole.

26. The Police, "The Other Way Of Stopping"

It didn't take long for Sting to dominate The Police with his rock-star poses and grad-school-dropout lyrics, but from time to time drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers got to contribute a song of their own—or at least demonstrate their chops. "The Other Way Of Stopping," off 1980's Zenyatta Mondatta, was written by Copeland, and though Summers' spare guitar provides the song's dominant sound, this instrumental is really all about giving Copeland a chance to bang out complicated patterns in the background, and give hope to frustrated drummers everywhere that someday they might be the star of the show for three minutes.

27. Elton John, "Carla/Etude/Fanfare"

"Carla/Etude/Fanfare" by Elton John

Elton John's 1981 album The Fox is a fairly forgotten item in his catalog, but every now and then, the lush orchestral instrumental "Carla/Etude" makes its way into one of Sir Elton's concerts, or as the backing music to some uplifting TV news montage. On The Fox, "Carla/Etude" fades directly into the peppy synthesizer instrumental "Fanfare," in a direct contrast of keyboard styles: from the dreamy and romantic to the minimal and electronic.

28. Red House Painters, "Cabezon"

"Cabezon" by Red House Painters

Following 1993's twin self-titled Red House Painters LPs (known by fans as "Rollercoaster" and "Bridge"), bandleader Mark Kozelek took a step back from the epic with the slighter Ocean Beach. Kozelek signaled the simpler touch by opening the record with "Cabezon," an acoustic instrumental far lighter and jauntier than anything in the prior RHP repertoire. Ocean Beach has its share of depressing, harrowing Kozelek songs, but "Cabezon" is not among them. It's a gentle breeze, not a full-force gale.

29. Pixies, "Cecilia Ann"

The epic, surf-inspired "Cecilia Ann" opens Bossanova with a superhero vibe, setting the pace for the rest of the record perfectly. It's two minutes of charging, reverb-y guitar—and probably the kind of song Black Francis would make 500 of, if his fans would let him.

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Judge: RIAA damages too high in innocent infringement case

By Eric Bangeman

A judge has ruled that a teenage girl who admitted to downloading music over KaZaA will only have to pay damages of $200 per song, instead of the $750-30,000 normally allowed under the Copyright Act (and the $750 per song sought by the RIAA). The reason for the cap comes from Whitney Harper's "innocent infringement" defense, in which she argues that she did not knowingly infringe the record labels' copyright.

Harper's father was sued by the labels in January 2007, but after it was discovered that his then-16-year-old daughter Whitney was responsible for the KaZaA share discovered by MediaSentry back in June 2004, he was dropped from the lawsuit and his daughter substituted. Whitney admitted to using KaZaA as well as downloading and sharing music over the P2P network, but said she didn't realize what she was doing was wrong. Her technological illiteracy and age made her incapable of intentionally infringing the record labels' copyrights, she argued.

In his ruling, Judge Xavier Rodriguez quotes an affidavit submitted by Harper saying that she had "no knowledge or understanding of file trading, online distribution networks or copyright infringement." Since KaZaA didn't expressly inform her that the music she found on the network was "stolen or abused copyrighted material," she had no way of knowing that what she did was wrong. "Defendant had 'no reason to doubt' that her actions were '100% free and 100% legal' and that she believed programs like KaZaA 'to be similar to online radio stations,'" wrote Judge Rodriguez.

The RIAA countered the argument by pointing out the copyright notices included on retail copies of CDs should have been enough to make Harper realize that what she was doing was wrong. Not so, said the Judge.

Even though Harper may not have realized it, the judge ruled that she did indeed infringe on the RIAA's copyrights, thus granting the RIAA's motion for summary judgment on 37 of the over 540 songs in Harper's KaZaA share (six that were downloaded by MediaSentry, 16 listed in MediaSentry's screen shots, and 15 found in a forensic examination of the family PC's hard drive). But damages are capped at just $200 per song—not the at least $750 sought by the RIAA—due to her innocent infringement.

"Although proper notice was provided on the cover of each of the Recordings, a question remains as to whether Defendant knew the warnings on compact discs were applicable in this KaZaA setting," wrote the judge. "In this case, there were no compact discs with warnings," reads the judge's order. "Plaintiffs have not introduced any evidence to contradict that Defendant did not have an understanding of the nature of file-sharing programs and copyright sophisticated enough to have reason to know that her actions infringed Plaintiffs' copyrights. Therefore, the Court finds that a fact issue exists as to whether Defendant was an innocent infringer."

If the parties can't agree to the damage award of $200 per song (for a total of $7,400), the case will move to trial over the amount of damages.

With the possibility of being forced to pay up to $30,000 in damages for each song (Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $9,250 per song after being found liable for infringement; that case looks headed for a retrial), $200 per song doesn't sound all that bad. But had the Harpers signed off on the RIAA's prelitigation settlement offer, they may have been able to write a check for $4,000 and be done with it all.

That said, had Judge Rodriguez applied the law differently, it is possible that the Harpers would only have to pay damages for the six songs actually downloaded (and possibly not even those). The judge either isn't familiar with or isn't convinced by recent rulings that merely making a file available over a P2P network is not enough to demonstrate copyright infringement. Instead he found that the presence of the tracks in a KaZaA share was enough to infringe the labels' distribution and reproduction rights.

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Joss Whedon's Batman Movie That Never Was

The center off all things cult worship, Joss Whedon, opened up to MTV Splash about his Batman pitch to Warner Brothers, pre-Christopher Nolan. "It wasn’t what they did but the vibe was very similar,” Whedon explained. “Mine was a bit less epic. It was more about the progression of him and it was more in Gotham City. He didn’t go to Tibet and meet cool people, but it was very similar in vibe." Wait, is this script still out there? Can we make more Batman movies please, with Whedon at the helm? Click through for more details on Whedon's Bat-story, plus All-Star Superman writer Grant Morrison's own Hollywood pitch for a Superman movie that ignores Superman Returns.

Whedon claims that his bat pitch was in the same vein as Nolan's, but I still think Whedon deserves his own caped crusader movie. Whedon's bat-story went a little something like this:

“In my version, there was actually a new [villain], it wasn’t one of the classics — which is probably why they didn’t use it,” he explained. “It was more of a 'Hannibal Lector' type — he was somebody already in Arkham Asylum that Bruce went and sort of studied with. It was a whole thing — I get very emotional about it, I still love the story. Maybe I’ll get to do it as a comic one day."

Always the gentleman, Whedon praises Nolan's dark work as worlds above the current directors that cannot seem on encompass what making comic book movies is really all about.

“I thought Christopher Nolan’s done an amazing job of bringing out the comic book, and I see a lot of movies [coughs “HULK”] — sorry, I had a Hulk stuck in my throat — that don’t really have the aesthetic or the pathos or really get why the comic book works.”

In over "what could have been news" both comic book big wigs Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, and Brad Meltzer discussed what they would do to make a Superman movie actually heartfelt as well as entertaining. Both Morrison and Johns have pitched Superman reboot films to Warner Bros., and Morrison talked about what his film would do.

First, forget Superman Returns ever existed, and stop trying to make him such a martyr who gets kicked around all the time. But that doesn't mean Morrison would have a totally invulnerable Supes. Instead, his movie pitch to Warner Bros. involved a compressed version of his All-Star Superman arc, about Superman confronting his own mortality.

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Top 10 Star Wars Moments

by David Schwartz

Have you ever thought about which are your favourite moments in Star Wars? It’s tougher than you think.

For starters, there are six films. Although, to be honest, the three prequels rarely entered our minds when coming up with the list. Then there is the fact that we had to somehow whittle it down to just 10, which is almost impossible.

It could seriously have been a top 100, but there are limits, right? And we really wanted to come up with the perfect 10.

Please feel free to tell us your favourites.

Anyway, here goes:

10. Jabba killed
Return of the Jedi

Now, this could easily have been simply Princess Leia in a gold bikini. But combine it with Princess Leia dressed in a gold bikini choking the life out of a big, fat monster with her slave chain and you get, er, what sounds like a scene from an S&M dungeon.

9. ‘Let’s blow this thing and go home’
A New Hope

We used to know a lad at school who once told us he hated the Star Wars arcade game because he always died in the Death Star trench bit. He said: “I just don’t understand it. It tells me to use the force, so I let go of the controls, but I always crash.” Suffice to say, we had no idea why he did that. Thankfully, Luke Skywalker was not so boneheaded and with a little help from Han Solo finally gets to destroy the Death Star. Just brilliant!

8. Yoda fighting
Attack of the Clones

Yoda finally dropping the hyperbole and picking up his lightsabre was certainly a brave decision by George Lucas. Goodwill towards Lucas was in short supply at that point and he could have got it so wrong. Thankfully, he didn’t. And it is without doubt one of the best scenes in the series and deserves its place.

7. AT-AT attack
The Empire Strikes Back

The Imperial ground assault on the Rebel base on Hoth is certainly one of the most exciting action sequences in the whole series. It happens surprisingly quite early in Empire Strikes Back, and the effects (just about) hold up to today’s standards.

6. Greedo gets it
A New Hope

Greedo’s demise at the hands of Han Solo is certainly one of the most memorable scenes in the series. It’s the climax to an incredible bar scene in Mos Eisley, where we are treated to the strangest creatures ever seen on screen since the Olsen twins.

5. Enter Darth Vader
A New Hope

Has there ever been a better entrance? We really don’t think anyone had ever seen anything like it before.
A really tall, asthmatic guy dressed as a Nazi? Whatever next! Prince Harry maybe?

4. Shot of Luke and the suns
A New Hope

A really poignant moment as Luke Skywalker gazes longingly into the night sky. We’re welling up now just thinking of it. Thinking of it, however, is all we can do at the moment, as we can’t find a damn clip for it. Can you help?

3. ‘I Know’
The Empire Strikes Back

Han Solo responds to Princess Leia’s “I love you” in the only way he knows how. “I know” is the perfect response. It could have been a lot worse. He could have said: “No, I love you more… No, you put the phone down…” Urrgh!

2. Star Destroyer
A New Hope

There are few moments that have captured kids’ imaginations as much as the opening sequence. OK, so maybe we didn’t read the writing at the beginning (too much like school), but suddenly this ship flies into view being attacked by another ship, that just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Special effects were never the same again.

1. I am your Father

It’s one of the biggest shocks in movie history and the defining moment of the series.

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The 20 Most Outdated Stereotypes In Film And Television


The desire to telegraph a great deal about a character in a short amount of time can leave a writer open to using cultural stereotypes. It’s human and we all do it. But so is shitting our pants when we’re babies and eventually, we grow out of that. (Until we’re old and senile like Andy Rooney. Then we can shit all over whoever we want and CBS will apparently pay us for it.) So, in the interest of helping us all grow the fuck up, Guanabee has compiled an educational list featuring our 20 favorite outdated stereotypes from television and films both recent and past. It should be noted that a lot of these movies are really quite good, despite their cultural faux pas. While others of them (cough! Norbit cough!) are all that remains of a talent that once shone bright as the stars. Sigh. Anyway! Please join us after the jump as we count the 20 Most Outdated Stereotypes In Film And Television.

1. Song Of The South (1946) - Uncle Remus, The Disney Uncle Tom

Disney’s Song of the South starring James Baskett as Uncle Remus is a little known film that introduced the world to, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”—the song of the happy slave. The film was groundbreaking at the time for its mixture of live action and animated characters, but rather old hat in its use of Uncle Tom, Massa and an actual Tar Baby. While it’s by no means the only racist Disney vehicle, it may be the one upon which their entire creative model was founded.

2. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) - Gold Hat, The Dirty Mexican

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre features the famous line, “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges” uttered by Alfonso Bedoya who apparently inspired “Ask A Mexican’s” logo. If we had a nickel for every time a drunk spring breaker shouted this line at us in Matamoros, Mexico, we’d have a lot of nickels. He’s the quintessential dirty Mexican.

3. “Speedy Gonzales” (Debuted 1953)- Little, Brown, Mexican Rodent

We’re going to say it now. We fucking love Speedy Gonzales. Precisely because he is a stereotypical poor Mexican with an exaggerated accent who is STILL quicker than all the gringo cats. But let’s face it, that’s not exactly what most Americans think of when they think of Speedy. Oh, and let’s not forget his cousin Eslow Poke Rodriguez.

4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) - Mickey Rooney As Mr. Yunioshi, The Strict, Japanese Landlord

Not much needs to be said about Mickey Rooney’s performance here. Not only is he not Japanese, but he goes out of his way to perform a caricature of a human being. Not really sure if this was even funny in 1961.

5. Deliverence (1972)- The Inbred Southerner

Imagine a movie made in 1972, at the height of the Black Panther movement, where four suburban guys get lost in the projects of Detroit and are sodomized by an inbred black family. Yeah, it never would have happened.

6. Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980) - Cheech, The Drugged-Out Cholo With The Ridiculous Accent

We saw an interview once with Cheech Marin where he said he was literally coaxed into being more and more cholo with this character to sell it better. Today Cheech has a serious career as a Mexican sidekick (sigh), but he will never be as beloved as when he played the unemployable pothead from L.A.

7. Scarface (1983) - Tony Montana, The Greasy, Immigrant, Latino Drug Lord

We know we’re going to get some flack here. Latinos love to claim Tony Montana more than white guys love to think of all Latinos as greasy drug dealers. But the truth is, he’s a despicable character and one of the only ways that Hollywood will represent Latinos on the big screen. Put that in your straw and snort it.

8. Police Academy (1984) - The Kinky, Gay Predator

The “Blue Oyster” gay bar scene in Police Academy was such a successful joke, it was referenced again in at least one more sequel. Two antagonist characters accidentally walk in and are held hostage by the horny, gay patrons looking to make them their bitches. Cuz that’s what happens at gay bars.

9. Sixteen Candles (1984)- Long Duk Dong, the Asian Über-Nerd

We have to admit that the character of Long Duk Dong is as beloved to us as any hit song from the 80’s. And we were so judgmental of Mickey Rooney’s Asian character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s! Looking at it now, though, kind of makes us—okay, it still makes us laugh.

10. Pretty Woman (1990) - Vivian, The Hooker With A Heart Of Gold

Pretty Woman wouldn’t be such an affront if it wasn’t so critically lauded. It literally was Julia Roberts’ star vehicle. Well, at least it gave Richard Gere the chance to graduate from his star vehicle in American Gigolo.

11. The Birdcage (1996)- Agador, The Barely Housebroken, Gay, Guatemalan Houseboy

It’s bad enough that the character of Agador the Guatemalan is a houseboy to two rich, white guys, can’t walk in shoes or wear a shirt comfortably, but he’s also played by a Jew. Not too culturally sensitive there, producers.

12. The Waterboy (1998) -Bobby Boucher, The Dumb Cajun Southerner

There aren’t a lot of people out there defending Cajuns, but we’re going to. This falls under the second most accepted stereotype in all of America—the dumb, white southerner. (The first is coming up, natch.) Sure, Bobby Boucher has a heart of gold and is the hero of the movie, but does his mama have to hate readin’ so?

13. The Sopranos (1999-2007) - The Italian-American Crime Family

We know we’re treading on thin ice here, but America’s love of seeing Italians kill each other and everyone else has got to stop. It’s the most culturally accepted, nay applauded, stereotype in all of America as far as we’re concerned. And sadly, some of the most lauded Italian-American actors of our time continue to reinforce the stereotype over and over again. After all, what other roles will they be offered? Do they even know how to act without the accent and the gun?

14. Shrek (2001) - Donkey, The Wisecracking, Black Sidekick

Eddie Murphy appears twice on this list and it’s no wonder. The comic genius who created Delirious and Raw is now the minstrel willing to do any dance for a buck from the studio. And what character could be more tired in America today than the black sidekick? Even in donkey form.

15. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - Pagoda, The Quirky, Exotic, Indian Manservant

Wes Anderson, director of the The Royal Tenenbaums, is sort of responsible for the quirky asian character’s rise to popularity in the last decade. Since Bottle Rocket he hasn’t really been able to get away from them. They kind of just stand in the background without too much to say. Like furniture. Or they play the brainy math teacher or bookstore attendant. He claims to love them, but they never get more screen time than a prop. And unfortunately he’s influenced an entire generation of advertising creatives. Like the guys who wrote all those retarded Virgin Mobile Chrismahanukwanzakah ads a few years back. Thanks, Wes.

16. Lost In Translation (2003)- The Entire Country Of Japan As Comic Fodder

This movie actually goes so far as to have Bill Murray mock a prostitute for ordering him to “lip” her stalkings. There’s also the flaming Japanese TV show host, the über hipster Japanese director (who says “lat pack”) and the crazy titty bar that introduced the world at large to Peaches (a Canadian.)

17. A Shark’s Tale (2004) - The Italian-American “Shark”

See the Soprano’s write up above. Voicing the dad in this crime family is Robert De Niro, of course. This time, the writers don’t even bother to hide the idea that Italians=sharks.

18. Spanglish (2004) - Flor, The Hot, Latin Maid Who Barely Speaks English

Latinas have made there way up in the world from the asexual, plump maid who crosses herself when the white protagonist does something funny to the skinny, hot maid who might fuck you. Rejoice!

19. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) - Borat, The Eastern European Bohunk

Sacha Baron Cohen plays the culturally clueless Kazakhstani who goes to America on a learning expedition while exposing his hosts to the way things are done in his country: incestous affairs with one’s sister, naked fighting with co-workers and the ritualized vilification of Jews. The country of Kazakhstan sued Cohen and the producers for defamation. Need we say more?

20. Norbit (2007) - Rasputia, The Fat, Black Bitch

Norbit is, in our opinion, Eddie Murphy’s lowest public moment. And we are including the tranny incident. An entire movie making fun of fat, black women? What’s next a movie about how smelly the homeless are?

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The Quick 10: 10 Things 300 Didn’t Tell You

by Stacy Conradt

It was, um, a lot of years ago today (480 B.C., to be exact) that King Leonidas and the Spartans were defeated by Xerxes’ army at Thermopylae. Well, that’s according to some accounts. Some historians say that we can’t be sure exactly what day in late summer the Battle of Thermopylae happened, but for our purposes today (namely, a timely Quick 10) we’ll stick with the ones who have agreed on August 11.

10 Things 300 Didn’t Tell You

1. We often hear the epic battle called the Battle of Thermopylae, but the truth is, there were lots of Battles of Thermopylae, including one in WWII. In 1941, the British Commonwealth set up their defenses in the same pass that was used in 480 B.C.

2. However, that pass is a lot bigger than it used to be. At the time of the historic stand against the Persians, the pass is estimated to have been no bigger than 30 meters. Now, due to silt deposited by rivers over time, the coastline of the Gulf has grown by at least three miles.

3. Another reason this Quick 10 is particularly fitting right now: according to “The Father of History”, Herodotus, the Battle occurred while the Olympic Games were going on. Of course, Herodotus also earned the nickname “The Father of Lies”, so you may want to take that with a grain of salt.

4. We don’t really know how many warriors there were on either side, but if you agree with Herodotus, there literally millions of Persians vs. 7,100 Greeks. It’s pretty widely agreed that his estimation is ridiculous – it was probably closer to 200,000 Persians total (including warriors who didn’t make it to the battle at all).

5. Some of those perfect quotes from the movie are the real thing. If you’ve seen 300, you no doubt remember a Persian warrior telling a Spartan warrior that the Persian arrows would be so numerous they would blot out the sun. “Then we will fight in the shade!” was the Spartan’s response. Supposedly, this is a real quote from a Spartan named Dienekes.

6. Likewise, Leonidas was thought to have really said “Come and get them!” when the Persians told the Spartans to surrender their weapons.

7. Those Spartans sure are quotable. Another quote that has perhaps lasted thousands of years is the Queen’s response to the messenger who asked why Spartan women were allowed to speak amongst men. “Because only Spartan women give birth to real men,” she said. Plutarch, a Greek historian, recorded this memorable line in the Moralia under “Sayings of the Spartans”.

8. The poet Simonides wrote an epitaph for the 300; it was engraved on a stone and placed at the point of the Spartans’ last stand. The original no longer exists, but a copy was made. It has been translated many different ways – here are a few of them:
• Stranger! To Sparta say, her faithful band
Here lie in death, remembering her command.
• Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.
• Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and are
buried here.
• Go, stranger, and to Lacedaemon tell
That here, obeying her behests, we fell.

9. Literally, Thermopylae means “hot gates”. It was so named becaues of the sulfurous springs there; the narrow pass served as a gateway to them.

10. The person buried in Leonidas’ tomb may or may not be Leonidas. While most of the Spartans were buried where they fell, it was custom to bring the King home and give him a proper burial. However, they didn’t get the body until 40 years later (the Persians got to him first). Obviously, the body was just bones at that point, so it was impossible to know if they actually belonged to Leonidas or not.

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7 Reasons “Clone Wars” Will Be Worth Seeing

by Chris Higgins

The latest Star Wars movie, Clone Wars, opens this Friday. We’ve done our homework on the new movie, and it actually looks pretty good. As the seventh movie in the epic series, we turned up seven reasons why Clone Wars will be worth seeing.

1. No More Hayden Christensen!

AnakinMany Star Wars fans found Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin at turns wooden and whiny. In Clone Wars, the voice of Anakin is taken over by Matt Lanter (probably best known for his role as the evil quarterback Brody from TV’s Heroes). Familiar returning voices include Samuel L. Jackson (as Mace), Christopher Lee (as Dooku), and good old Anthony Daniels (as C3PO). Unfortunately we don’t get to hear from Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan — he’s been replaced by James Arnold Taylor, a voice actor with a resume a mile long, including the voice of Obi-Wan in the Clone Wars animated shorts, and the voice of Ratchet from the Ratchet & Clank games.

As far as I’m concerned, less Hayden Christensen means more awesome.

2. Awesome Anime-Inspired Art

Pointy Obi-Wan BeardThe look of Clone Wars borrows heavily from anime, depicting characters with stylized, chiseled faces, huge eyes, and angular bodies. Count Dooku’s face is comically elongated, and it looks like you could grate cheese on Obi-Wan’s pointy, multi-segmented beard. But aside from that, the move to full animation from the “greenscreen extravaganza” of the last three films solves a crucial problem: we no longer have that sense of creepy fakeness that comes from mixing live action and computer-generated effects (see: the uncanny valley). In Clone Wars, everything’s an effect, and the look hangs together better precisely because of its distinctive style.

The full animation look also frees up moviemakers to invent some insane battle sequences, including one in which the Jedi warriors and AT-TE walkers walk up a cliff during the fight. Another epic (though brief) battle scene has Anakin jumping from speeder to speeder in mid-air, cutting down droids.

3. Clone/Droid Carnage Galore

The Clone Wars are unique in Star Wars mythology because they were fought by the eponymous clones, versus a bunch of strangely fragile droids (probably shoulda up-armored those guys, eh?). Although the clones are portrayed as super-soldiers (they’re all Jango Fetts, after all), we get to see legions of them cut down by droids — and vice versa. And who doesn’t love a little droid-on-clone violence? Part of the fun of Clone Wars is in seeing how many clones and droids we can blow away in each battle.

Clones with fancy hair-dosAmidst the carnage, we’ll get to see more individuation among the clones. A major character this time is Clone Commander Rex, leader of the 501st Clone Trooper Legion. Rex is Anakin’s second in command during the Clone Wars, and although he’s a clone, he’s also an individual. Other clones are shown with tattoos and an almost comic array of hair styles and colors. Check out the videos “The Clones are Coming” and “Clone Wars Clip: Battle of Christophsis” on the the official site (click on “Videos” at the top, then pick your clip at the right) for a taste.

Kids take note: you can get tips on drawing “Captain Rex” from Star Wars illustrator Grant Gould. Check it out. (Seriously.)

4. Jabba’s Southern Uncle

Hutt concept artEarly reviews have mentioned an intriguing new character: Jabba’s uncle Ziro the Hutt, whom David German of the AP described as “a giant slug that speaks with a Truman Capote-like Southern drawl.” Um. Awesome? Although information about this guy is slim, Wookieepedia has a page on Ziro (warning: includes a minor spoiler related to action in Clone Wars), which includes some biographical info:

Starting out as a loan shark on Sleheyron, Ziro moved to Coruscant to pursue a bigger career. He eventually became a vigo of the criminal organization Black Sun, and had a tattoo of its symbol. He used a rundown tower that used to belong to the Lantillian Spacers’ Brotherhood as his personal base. The tower was transformed into a gaudy-looking pleasure palace.

All I’m gonna say is, I have to see Truman Capote’s Pleasure Palace at least once in my life. After that, I’m cool with finding a new definition of pain and suffering as I’m slowly digested over a thousand years.

5. It’s Actually Funny

Didst Thou Fart?Although you can’t tell it from the trailers, early reviewers have commented on the amount of humor in the movie. Some reviewers have even gone so far as to call Clone Wars a spoof, or a parody of Star Wars — and I think that’s a good thing. Much of the fun of the first three Star Wars films came from Han Solo’s wisecracks. This character (and his sense of humor) are completely lacking in the latter three films, replaced with absurdly over-the-top, possibly-racist slapstick (I don’t think I have to name names here); brooding and smoldering and whining (Anakin); and some “nice try” droid humor from C3PO and R2D2. In Clone Wars we can expect at least a return to the freewheeling ’70s vision of Star Wars, where swashbuckling swordplay meets crazy high/low-tech hybrid technology on the battlefield, mixed with a healthy dose of family-friendly comedy.

6. A Female Main Character Who Fights

Ahsoka, the new PadawanClone Wars introduces Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s new Padawan. If there’s one thing Star Wars has been sorely lacking, it’s female characters who actually take part in the battle sequences. Sure, Princess Leia and Padme have been known to use a blaster in a pinch, but Ahsoka is actually on the battlefield, in the thick of things. Will this character bring girls to the Star Wars franchise? I guess we’ll find out on Friday.

In many ways Ahsoka is standing in for the previous Star Wars Padawans (Luke in the early films, then Anakin in the prequels), so there are bound to be a few Padawan Moments — which in the world of Star Wars means some kiddy whining followed by Important Lessons — but it’s encouraging to see a female warrior taking the stage after thirty years of male-dominated action sequences.

7. George Lucas Didn’t Write, Direct, or Produce It

George Lucas - Nope!What a relief! Of course Lucas’s fingerprints are all over this film (he kinda invented the franchise), but officially he doesn’t get any of the key production credits. Director Dave Filoni seems squarely in charge of this one, and Indiana Jones hat notwithstanding, I think we’re all glad to let others take the reins and bring a fresh perspective to the Star Wars universe. Clone Wars writers include Henry Gilroy (who has worked on lots of animated shows, including The Tick), Scott Murphy (whose IMDB page is slim, though he wrote two episodes of Angel and worked as an uncredited production assistant on Boogie Nights), and Steven Melching (who has done a ton of TV animation, and was a production assistant on 1991’s House Party 2). While these may not be the most prestigious writers on the block, at least they’re not George.

To Find Out More…

Watch the trailer in HD or check out the official site — the latter actually has a bunch of good videos, although watching director Dave Filoni introduce the videos while wearing his Indiana Jones hat is a little disconcerting.

To whet your appetite, starting Friday you can grab a Clone Wars themed Happy Meal from McDonald’s (the toy is — no kidding — a Clone Wars Bobble Head with a character’s head attached to a vehicle). If you need something now, pick up some of the new toys and other merchandise. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait until November before the Nintendo games (Lightsaber Duels for Wii and Jedi Alliance for DS) are released.

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"Dark Knight" leads box office for 4th weekend

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Batman outwitted a pair of stoners to lead the North American box office for a fourth weekend on Sunday, becoming the third-biggest movie of all time.

"The Dark Knight" sold about $26.0 million worth of tickets during the three days beginning Friday, taking its haul to $441.5 million after 24 days, said Warner Bros. Pictures.

The superhero sequel now ranks at No. 3 on the all-time list, behind "Titanic" with $601 million and "Star Wars" with $461 million.

But adjusted for inflation, the Caped Crusader ranks more modestly at No. 49, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo. The 1939 epic "Gone With the Wind" wins by that measure with $1.4 billion in today's dollars.

Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, said it expects "Dark Knight" to surpass "Star Wars" next weekend and end up with about $520 million.

The last movie to enjoy an unbroken four-week reign at No. 1 was "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" in 2003-2004, according to Box Office Mojo.

Internationally, "The Dark Knight" has earned $263.1 million, with Britain contributing $69.3 million and Australia $35.6 million.

The drug-fueled caper "Pineapple Express," named for a strong brand of marijuana, opened at No. 2 in North America with $22.4 million. It would have been No. 1 had Columbia Pictures not opted to open the picture two days earlier than usual on Wednesday to maximize sales during the school holidays. The film's five-day total stands at $40.5 million.

Seth Rogen and James Franco play a pair of pot aficionados on the run after witnessing a murder.


Columbia said the opening was "beyond expectations" given that the budget was a modest $27 million. Not surprisingly, men aged 25 and under made up the bulk of the audience, the Sony Corp unit said.

Another Wednesday opener was the teen-oriented female drama "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," which came in at No. 4 with $10.8 million for the weekend. The five-day haul stands at $19.7 million. The audience was 90 percent female, said Warner Bros., which co-financed the $26.5 million film with FedEx Corp founder Fred Smith's Alcon Entertainment.

Its 2005 predecessor, released before co-stars America Ferrera and Blake Lively won acclaim with their respective TV shows "Ugly Betty" and "Gossip Girl," earned $9.8 million during its first three days, and finished with $39.1 million.

Elsewhere, Universal Pictures' "The Mummy: Curse of the Dragon Emperor" slipped one place to No. 3 with $16.1 million in its second weekend; its 10-day total rose to $70.7 million. Universal, a unit of General Electric Co, said the Brendan Fraser adventure was the No. 1 movie internationally for a second weekend with $56.1 million from 49 territories; the foreign tally stands at $141 million.

Columbia's comedy "Step Brothers" fell two to No. 5 in North America with $8.9 million, and now has a $80.9 million after three weekends.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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The Top 6 "Celebrities"who shouldn't be famous

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in recent history, it became ok to be famous for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Plenty of people have opinions on celebrity gossip on the whole – but the simple fact is – a lot of people that are followed constantly in the press are there for a reason – they’re extremely talented. Take Britney Spears for example – yes, she’s crazy, yes, she makes awful decisions over and over again, but the she’s also an outrageously talented and driven performer.

That’s more than we can say for this group of – well – what would you call a person without a job, career, talent or marketable skills that mostly parties and lives off their parents? Oh right… now we call them “Celebrities”.

6. Nick, Brooke & Linda Hogan

WTF, reality TV? How did it come to this? Having grown up in the 80’s, I am intimately aware of who Hulk Hogan is and just how much ass he can kick. Remember when he slammed Andre the Giant in Wrestlemania III? That was AWESOME! Well, that was also 1987, and shortly after, Hulk Hogan stopped being interesting to me. So now it’s 2008, and I have to see stories about his daughter Brooke, son Nick and estranged ex-wife Linda, all of whom look like they were dunked in bleach and slapped on a tanning bed at birth.

5. Tila Tequila

As we’ll see, this problem of fame for no reason can’t always be blamed on reality TV. This one is firmly the fault of myspace. As far as I can tell Tila is famous for two reasons:
• She’s reasonably good looking.
• She had a lot of time on her hands and was very good clicking the “add” button on myspace, which she did like 6 million times.

She got famous when Maxim decided to do a story on a hot chick with a lot of myspace friends. They found unemployed friend clicker Tila, and voila, another talentless celebrity was born.

4. Tori Spelling

I really don’t understand this one at all. The other day I caught a bit of her reality show, where her and her husband come out of a baby store and they are MOBBED by paparazzi? Now let’s review who they are:

She was known as the ugly girl on 90210, who was only their because her father was the producer. That’s the last thing of note she did, and that ended 8 years ago. And really, it was crap when it ended… the real root of her fame is 1990.

Her husband has never acted in anything bigger than a frickin Hallmark movie.

Now, I ask you, doesn’t this couple BELONG in obscurity? How can we possibly care enough to have the paparazzi follow them?

3. Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian is getting more and more well known lately due to her reality show, keeping up with the Kardashians. I want to remind you that this isn’t why she is famous – she landed the show as a result of her fame. As far as I can tell that fame was based on living in LA, she lounging around and not really do anything, partying, being hot, having a million dollar ass and sleeping with a lot of celebrities for a living. So that’s something.

I actually find her so hot I don’t care. But she belongs on the list.

2. Paris Hilton

This list was made for Paris Hilton. An heiress with no talent whatsoever, she was really the first one that made an entire career out of being photographed around people who are famous for a reason. And that’s all she can really do. We do give her points for trying just about everything else you can legitimately be famous for. We’ve seen her model – which I guess she’s ok at. We’ve heard her sing, which was much, much better than any of her truly awful acting attempts. She’s now opening a club in Vegas, which I think is much better for her true talent, partying and having your picture taken. We also appreciate how many sex tapes she’s released – some stars give you one, but she just keeps giving.

1. Everybody on the hills

Audrina Patridge, Heidi Montag, Lauren Conrad, Kristin Cavallari, Spencer Pratt & others. You’ve probably heard these names. You find them familiar, yes? What movie are they in again? Or is it TV? Are they in Gossip Girl? These my friends are the stars of MTV’s “Laguna Beach” with begat a spin off show “The Hills”. They are outrageously wealthy, privileged white people who live by the beach and go shopping in their Bentley’s. Most of them are making a career out of self promotion. Heidi Montag in particular seems to constantly release pictures of herself from photoshoots she organizes into the press. Audrina Partridge has new bikini shots coming out on at least a weekly basis. They are talentless and you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with them – but yet their fame grows.

So what’s the take-away here? Generally, I think even if you have nothing to give the world you can still be a celebrity. The rules:

1. Have famous and/or outrageously rich parents.*
* Millions of Myspace friends can be substituted.
2. Have and spend a lot of money yourself.
3. Be very, very hot and take a lot of hot pictures of yourself.
* Optional – release at least one sex tape.
4. Important – make sure not to attempt to do anything constructive.
5. Live and party in LA

Good luck folks!

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Soul legend Isaac Hayes dies

(CNN) -- Soul singer and arranger Isaac Hayes, who won Grammy awards and an Oscar for the theme from the 1971 action film "Shaft," has died, sheriff's officials in Memphis, Tennessee, reported Sunday.

Singer Issac Hayes seen performing in the U.K. last year. Hayes was found dead Sunday at age 65.

Singer Issac Hayes seen performing in the U.K. last year. Hayes was found dead Sunday at age 65.

Relatives found Hayes, 65, unconscious in his home next to a still-running treadmill, said Steve Shular, a spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department.

Paramedics attempted to revive him and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 2 p.m., the sheriff's department said.

No foul play is suspected, the agency said in a written statement.

Hayes was a longtime songwriter and arranger for Stax Records in Memphis, playing in the studio's backup band and crafting tunes for artists such as Otis Redding and Sam and Dave in the 1960s. Photo See photos of singer Isaac Hayes »

He released his first solo album in 1967, and his 1969 follow-up, "Hot Buttered Soul," became a platinum hit.

In 1971, the theme from "Shaft" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and won an Academy Award for best original theme song. The song and the movie score also won Grammy awards for best original score and movie theme.

Hayes won a third Grammy for pop instrumental performance with the title track to his 1972 "Black Moses" album.

From the late 1990s through 2006, Hayes provided the voice of "Chef" for Comedy Central's raunchy animated series "South Park," as well as numerous songs.

The role introduced him to a new generation of fans, but he left after the show lampooned his own religion, the Church of Scientology.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. In a CNN interview at the time, Hayes credited his success to "adjusting and constantly evolving, expanding and trying to stay as young as I can."

The new generation of popular musicians, he said, "could use a little more substance like we had in the day."

"They're standing on our shoulders. Some of them don't realize [it] because they sample me so much," he said.

Hayes credited his role on "South Park" with expanding his fan base, and said that he had almost passed on the job.

"I started to walk out. I thought it was a Disney thing. I [had] never heard of this thing," he said. But his agent persuaded him to tape some episodes.

"Toward the opening I started having trepidations -- 'Oh my god, what have I done? I've ruined my career.' But when it aired, the ratings went through the roof," he said.

A 1992 visit to the royal family in Ghana was a life-changing experience for Hayes, he said.

"I went back on speaking engagements and encouraged African-Americans to go to Africa [to] interact socially, culturally and/or economically," he said.

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