Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Benefits of Legos for Kids You Never Thought Of

From My Kidsguide:  Yes, there are benefits of LEGOs beyond basic building skills! You might think of your kids’ LEGO pieces as something you dread finding in the dark. Those little plastic bricks offer much more than just sore feet and irritated parents. There are benefits your kids can reap from playing with LEGOs that you may not have thought of.

Helps Improve Dexterity

If your child struggles with their manual dexterity, working with those little colored bricks can certainly help them out. Start with the biggest blocks for younger kids and help your child work on picking them up and work with them. As their dexterity improves, introduce smaller and smaller blocks. This also helps develop fine motor skills as kids need to learn to manipulate their fingers in order to pick up and work with blocks of assorted sizes.

Helps Improve Attention Span

If you have a kiddo who bounces from activity to activity and flits from thought to thought, working with LEGO blocks can help improve their attention span. For highly distractible kids, working with and playing with those assorted blocks can give them something to focus on and help lengthen their attention span. Focusing on a task like building something with blocks can also help calm a hyperactive child. To improve attention and focus, give your child specific designs to build. For example, ask them to build a car or create a house out of LEGO blocks. This gives them a goal and helps them focus on meeting it.

Playing With LEGOs Helps With Following Directions

If your child enjoys LEGO building sets, this interest helps them improve their abilities to follow directions. How does that work? LEGO building sets come with specific instructions to create the design and those instructions must be followed step by step in order to create the play set. This also fosters an attention to detail in children as they must do each step in order and exactly as written if they want the set to turn out right.

Creates Interest in Art and Design

Creating designs and structures with LEGO blocks can help foster an interest in art and design. If your child seems to enjoy stepping outside the LEGO box and creating unusual structures, you can encourage their interests by adding more blocks and help them come up with designs to work on.

Greedy Man Wants Refund After Buying $650 in Tickets to ‘The Interview’

From yahoo, Sony apparently isn’t the only one who lost money on “The Interview” last week.

A man in Ohio tried to cash in on the buzz surrounding Seth Rogen and James Franco’s new comedy when he purchased $650 in tickets or 50 passes at $13 each to the movie.

According to WCPO in Cincinnati, Jason Best learned that a local theater in Clifton was among the 300 theaters to play the controversial film on Christmas Day and hoped to resell the tickets online at a higher price (i.e., he wanted to scalp them).

“I saw all the hype about ‘The Interview’ on the 23rd and thought, ‘Hey, folks are selling these tickets in other cities and it seems like that’s the thing to do right now so why not give it a shot so see how it goes,”’ he said.

But the plan backfired once Sony announced it was streaming the film online for half the price on sites like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix.

Now the man is demanding a refund from the Esquire Theatre.

“I thought I’d get my money back because the theater’s website *very clearly* said the tickets were refundable,” Best told WCPO in an email.

But a theater manager told Best that the arthouse didn’t have a website and that “The Interview” was listed as a special event.

It turns out Best had purchased the tickets from, which specifically warns on its website that theater owners reserve the right to withhold refunds for special events.

Plus the manager said that scalping tickets was illegal.

The $40 million-budgeted “Interview,” which expanded to iTunes on Sunday, recently changed from a wide to limited release after North Korean hackers threatened to harm theatergoers.

The R-rated comedy earned nearly $3 million at the U.S. box office this weekend.

Play-Doh toy looks like a penis and parents are upset about it

From, Play-Doh has been forced to redesign an 'icing extruder' toy after complaints from parents that it looks like a penis.

The Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain set lets kids pretend to make "cakes" out of the colourful material using a series of moulds and shaping tools.

One of the tools is an "icing extruder" that is used to pipe out fake icing in swirls on top of the Play-Doh cakes.

The 'accidental penis' toy formed part of the 'Cake Mountain' playset

Unfortunately, it looks more like a sex toy - albeit a 3-incher - than a child's toy, and parents who bought the set for Christmas have taken to social media to complain.

I dunno if anyone else follows Play-Doh on Facebook but you should cause they're doing some serious damage control— El Clarko (@Fatgoldfish4) December 29, 2014

I salute the designers who somehow managed to get this Play-Doh icing maker past their bosses.— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) December 30, 2014

Play-Doh has since posted to its Facebook page that it's going to amend the design.

"We have heard some consumer feedback about the extruder tool in the Play-Doh Cake Mountain playset and are in the process of updating all future Play-Doh products with a different tool."

The company added that if anyone has bought the playset and wants a replacement, Hasbro's customer service department will swap it.

It's not the first accidental penis Play-Doh story this week.

A child's innocent Play-Doh sculpture of a 'dolphin on wheels' has gone viral online - sparking thousands of comments and shares on social media.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

That's No Bantha: Custom Built Landspeeder Cat Bed

From geekology, This is the custom Star Wars landspeeder cat bed built by pet furniture maker Roxy's Dream. Ittook over 40-hours to complete and is for sale for $600. No word if the cat is included in the price, but for $600 it better be, and it better be able to talk. And not all sassy like my last cat, Miss Marple. She used to call me fat when I'd get out of the shower. But only if I'd already fed her that night -- she was smart. I wonder whatever happened to her. "Nothing, you made her up." Oh thank goodness. I was starting to worry maybe she got hit by a car or something.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the Most Anticipated Movie for 2015!

From starwars7news, No surprises here. According to a Fandango survey Star Wars beats Avengers 2 for most anticipated movie for 2015. Also Daisy Ridley is the “Biggest Female Breakout Movie Star” for 2015! John Boyega lost the first place in the category “Biggest Male Breakout Movie Star” to Jamie Dornan from “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the movie which trailer was the most watched one in 2014 leaving TFA teaser in second place…

From Variety:

That’s the takeaway from Fandango’s survey of the most anticipated films of 2015. The online ticketing company found that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the film that moviegoers are most jazzed to see next year, while “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has to settle for runner-up status.

The Fandango poll shows just how sky high anticipation is for the return to a galaxy far, far away. An 88-second teaser for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was viewed by more than 51 million fans on YouTube.

To get its results, Fandango polled 1,000 film fans on its website from Dec. 22 through Dec. 29. The company also looked at the biggest film stars and breakthrough performers going into the new year.

Most Anticipated 2015 Movie:

1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
2. “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
3. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2″
4. “Fifty Shades of Grey”
5. “Jurassic World”

Study Confirms Kids’ Movies are Rife With Death and Murder

From slashfilm, Films rated PG-13 and R tend to be more violent than PG or G movies; that’s partially the point of PG-13 and R movies. But it turns out kids’ films are rife with death and tragedy all the same.

The British Medical Journal has found that animated children’s movies actually involve morecharacter deaths than grown-up dramatic films, with murder occurring at nearly three times the rate of adult movies. Hit the jump for more results from the childrens movie death study.

The BMJ published the childrens movie death study as part of their Christmas Edition, which traditionally includes funny or lighthearted research pieces. This one is neither, though I guess it’s still fluffier than their usual fare.

The BMJ compared 45 top-grossing children’s animated films against 90 top-grossing adult-oriented dramatic films, using a “Kaplan-Meier survival analysis with Cox regression comparing time to first on-screen death.” (I’m not going to pretend to know what that means, but if you’re a mathematic / scientific type, there you go.)

Their findings:

Two thirds of children’s animated films contained an on-screen death of an important character compared with half of comparison films. Common causes of death in children’s animated films included animal attacks and falls (intentional or not), while in comparison films common causes of death were gunshots, motor vehicle crashes, and illnesses. Notable early on-screen deaths included Nemo’s mother being eaten by a barracuda 4 minutes and 3 seconds into Finding Nemo, Tarzan’s parents being killed by a leopard 4 minutes and 8 seconds intoTarzan, and Cecil Gaines’ father being shot in front of him 6 minutes into The Butler.

The researchers looked at a wide variety of films ranging from Snow White (1937) to Frozen(2013). Sequels were excluded, as were movies in which the main characters were neither human nor animal (so no Toy Story, for example.)

The grown-up dramas were pulled from the same years as the animated pics. They did not include action and adventure movies, as those are frequently targeted at kids, but did include horror pics (e.g., The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and thrillers (e.g., The Departed, Pulp Fiction).

The results seem counterintuitive until you think back to the plotlines of all those adorable kiddie cartoons. Lots of them center around characters who lose one or both parents, sometimes in the first few minutes of the movie (e.g., Finding Nemo, Tarzan). Heck, I’m still reeling from Mufasa’s death in The Lion King.

In conclusion, the researchers write, “children’s animated films, rather than being innocuous alternatives to the gore and carnage typical of American films, are in fact hotbeds of murder and mayhem.” They suggest parents watch these movies with their kids. Unless, presumably, you’re the parent in an animated movie, in which case you’re probably already dead.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New 'Phantasm V' trailer gives us another glimpse of some awesomeness!

Screech arrested for stabbing a man!

From ew, On Friday, Dustin Diamond—better known as Screech from Saved by the Bell—was arrested by the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly stabbing a man. While few details were known at the time, reports of what happened are now starting to trickle out.

According to a report obtained by CNN, Diamond claims that the incident began when a group of intoxicated people became unruly, and so he left his girlfriend, Amanda Schutz, to go close out his tab. When he returned, he allegedly found Schutz bleeding with two men holding her hair. According to the report, Diamond was accosted by another man when he moved to intervene, and inadvertently stabbed the man in the process. The wound was not life-threatening.

CNNis also reporting that other people in the Port Washington, Milwaukee bar claim that the incident began when women started shoving each other, and that “a women was upset because people were taking pictures of her and her boyfriend.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Netflix to distribute the new "Pee-Wee Herman" movie

From darkhorizons, Netflix is reportedly nearing a deal to distribute the new "Pee-Wee Herman" movie which Judd Apatow is producing says The Wrap.

A Netflix spokesperson cautions that there’s no deal in place yet, but other sources tell the outlet this deal has been in the works for months. Paul Reubens, who co-wrote the script with Paul Rust, reprises his iconic role in the project which aims to begin shooting next year.

The project had previously been set up at Universal, but that is confirmed to no longer be the case. It also hasn't been revealed who will be serving as the film's director, though one is said to be in place.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Box Office

From ew, Although there were three huge wide releases in theaters this weekend, the third and final Hobbit beat them all by a landslide. The Peter Jackson film brought in $56.2 million over the weekend (and $90.6 million since its Wednesday opening), while Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie — all films showing in more than 3,000 locations — made almost $40 million less.

This is a win at the weekend box office, but compared to the rest of the Hobbit films, The Battle of the Five Armies didn’t fare as well: The first film in the trilogy made $84.6 million its opening weekend while the second took in $73.6 million.

The 23 percent drop in opening weekend grosses between the second and third film could be due to a number of things, including movie fatigue. The book — yes, singular book — the films are based on is just over 300 pages, but each movie is at least two hours long. You can only stretch one story so much, and The Hobbit has been stretched… and stretched… and stretched.

Like Battle of the Five Armies, the most recent Night at the Museum is the third in a trilogy — one that audiences also aren’t as jazzed about anymore. The first opened with $30.4 million and the second with $54.2 million, but the third opened with a comparatively lackluster $17.3 million. The lesson here? Don’t wait five years to make a sequel to a film that didn’t probably didn’t need a sequel to begin with.

Annie was neck and neck with Night at the Museum and made just one million less than the Ben Stiller flick. Although Annie is full of star power — the cast includes Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and Quvenzhan√© Wallis (who’s already nabbed a Golden Globe nod for this role) — it also got a ton of bad reviews.

Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 were able to keep spots on the top five this weekend — but this will likely be their last weekend in the upper ranks, as Into the Woods, Unbroken, and The Gambler all open wide next weekend.

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies — $56.2 million
2. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb — $17.3 million
3. Annie — $16.3 million
4. Exodus: Gods and Kings — $8.1 million
5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 – $7.8 million

Wild made its way to the number six spot this weekend with $4.2 million after adding nearly 1,000 locations. Top Five ($3.6 million), Big Hero 6 ($3.6 million), and Penguins of Madagascar ($3.5 million) followed close behind, while the Indian sci-fi comedy PK – a film only in 272 locations – rounded out the top 10 with $3.5 million.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Afterlife with Archie" To Get A Film Or Show

From darkhorizons, Archie Comics Jon Goldwater participated in a Reddit AMA this week and was asked various questions about "Afterlife With Archie," the popular horror spin-off of the classic comic series.

One surprising revelation in the Q&A was that the comic could well see a screen adaptation shortly. Goldwater says:

"As for film and TV - the answer is YES! Absolutely! This is something that will be happening at some point in the near future - nothing to announce just yet, but rest assured it will happen."

The comic sees Sabrina the Teenage Witch bringing Jughead's beloved pet Hot Dog back to life, an act which unleashes a zombie apocalypse in Riverdale and Archie must lead the survivors out of town.

Berlanti Productions and Warner Brothers Studios are currently developing the regular "Archie" comic into a TV series.

Road trip! Pac-Man Themed Restaurant Will Open Near Chicago in 2015

From slashfilm, Pac-Man eats. That’s just what he does. No matter what iteration or spinoff of the classic game you play, the circular yellow guy opens and closes his mouth incessantly and ingests everything in his path, from fruit to dots and even ghosts. So if ever there was a video game character to theme a restaurant around, it’s him. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Chicago in early 2015. A new restaurant called Level 257 is scheduled to open at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL. Read more about the Pac Man restaurant below.

The Chicago Tribute broke the news (via Polygon). The Pac Man restaurant, named after the killscreen level in a game of Pac-Man, has an official Tumblr that has more information.

16 boutique retro-styled bowling lanes with smart technology, table tennis, pinball machines and our Lost & Found games parlor with original arcades alongside exciting new titles, plus custom-built game tables and free-to-play board games, provide a unique entertainment experience.

A gallery space and first-of-its-kind PAC-MAN™ retail shop complete the venue and brand new concept for ‘fun dining’.

So why PAC-MAN™? Level 257 comes from Namco Entertainment Inc. part of the global group of companies in BANDAI NAMCO GROUP, the same company that created the original PAC-MAN™ video game in the 1980s.

Level 257 seeks to explore PAC-MAN’s impact upon our society and pop culture, reminding us all of the importance of play in our lives, while facilitating our desire to relive those times when beating the next level was the most important thing in our world. All while indulging that which we love now – great food and drink with our friends and family.

So yes, it’s officially licensed and now hiring. There are images of the construction on the Tumblr but no clue what they mean by a “brand new concept” for fun dining. Maybe Pac-Man machines at each table? That would have to be it, right?

I definitely think I’d try the restaurant out, but it would have to be pretty unique and fun to stay open. Do you predict success for the Pac Man restaurant?

Exactly one year from today I will be playing hooky to see 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Donkey Kong, Pac-Man destroy Earth in 'Pixels' posters

From ew, Though the team behind 2015’s Pixels has remained relatively mum on how the movie will bring to life arcade classic characters like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, a set of new posters hints at the retro destruction in store.

The Pixels Facebook page has debuted five new posters from the film, with each featuring a different video-game icon wreaking havoc on a major city. From San Francisco to London, no metropolis is safe from the maw of Pac-Man, the mushrooms of the Centipede, or the… creepy face of a Space Invader.

Friday, December 12, 2014

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' character names revealed (in coolest way possible)

From ew, We finally got to meet some new characters in the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but now we're getting to put some names with the faces. J.J. Abrams, the film's co-writer and director, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy have revealed the identities of some of the key players exclusively to EW, including the characters played by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac—as well as that shadowy figure in the snow with the crossguard lightsaber. Click through to see them all...

Get more inside scoop on The Force Awakens from J.J. Abrams (hint: the trading card numbers are significant)!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'The Force Awakens' trailer almost didn't happen

From darkhorizons, With over one hundred million views in under two weeks, the teaser trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is pretty much the biggest trailer launch in history. What might surprise you though, is that it almost didn't happen.

Disney CEO Bob Iger says that J.J. Abrams didn't want to release any footage at all and was so obsessed with retaining the mystery behind the film that he had to be convinced that releasing the teaser was the right thing to do.

Iger was convinced it was due to the rabid Star Wars fanbase and revealed to Variety this week: "I keep telling J.J. Abrams this is a $4 billion movie. We need to treat this very special. It's an unbelievable privilege and unbelievable responsibility to take a jewel, and treat it in a way that is respectful of its past, but brings it into the future."

Iger also says the aim with the film isn't to go big with massive spectacle, but rather trying to using less CG and more practical effects where possible: "[The] wow factor isn't what it used to be. The film [will have] a look that will be extremely respectful of the look George [Lucas] created in the '70s."

'Mad Max: Fury Road' trailer!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guy Rides Motorcycle On Wooden Roller Coaster Track

Christmas Haunted House Features A Scary Chainsaw-Wielding Santa

From huffingtonpopst, You'd better watch out -- Santa Claus is coming, and he's got a chainsaw.

A Christmas-themed haunted house called "A Very Scary Christmas" is opening this weekend in Hauppauge, NY., complete with "killer snowmen, evil elves, man-eating reindeer and murderous Christmas trees."

Of course there's a Santa as well, but he's not the right jolly old elf most people picture.

"I want people to be terrified. I want people to soil themselves," Frank Ingargiola, who portrays Santa, said in a video on the Newsday website. "Naughty. Nice. It don't matter to me anymore. I'm coming. And you ain't gonna stop me."

A few chills on Christmas aren't completely outside of the spirit of the holiday. "A Christmas Carol," is, after all, a ghost story complete with rattling chains and a graveyard. And in recent years, operators of Halloween haunted houses have been adding Christmas shows to earn some extra money.

Call it "Halloween Creep."

"Once Halloween stops, the haunted house season is dead. People have to wait a year to go to the next one," Marty Arominski, owner of Chamber of Horrors NY, which operates the Christmas-themed haunted house, told Newsday. "This is something different to do during the holidays."

Live outside of New York? Well, there's also the Frightmare Before Christmas near Chicago, Nightscare Before Christmas and Wreck the Halls in Dallas, Santa's Slay in New Jersey and Creepo's Christmas in Pittsburgh.

Even Disney gets in on the act, giving the famous Haunted Mansion attraction in Disneyland an annual holiday overlay based on "A Nightmare Before Christmas."

Some attractions, like Disney's, are for all ages. Others are decidedly not. The one in New York is on the more extreme end, promising thrills, chills and gore.

This is not a holiday show for the faint-hearted, but rather an interactive theatrical experience," Arominski said in a news release. "As participants go from room to room, the settings and characters get progressively more frightening."

A Very Scary Christmas does have one thing in common with more child-friendly Christmas events: Everyone gets a photo with Santa, and this one will probably make for a very memorable Christmas card.

If It's December, It Must Be Time for a New Christopher Lee Heavy Metal Christmas Carol

From toplessrobot, Fresh from beating down ghosts with a staff in the new Hobbit movie - presumably using a stuntman, but you never know - Christopher Lee once again proves he is the most badass ninetysomething you will ever know of, turning "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" into a song of praise to heavy metal itself. Three Christmases in to doing this, the former Lord Summerisle is now officially geek god of winter...and win.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

This is perfection

This is from the Cracked article 21 Epic Failures That Should Have Surprised No One.  There is such grace in this error because 1) it's such a primally basic mistake to forget how pencils work, and 2) it comes with its own beautiful hierarchy of disaster.  "Cool to do drugs" and "Do drugs" are clearly off-message in a vital way, but my favorite is the more oblique "drugs."  I need some of these pencils.

Monday, December 08, 2014

J.K. Rowling will release 12 Harry Potter short stories this month

From ew, This year has been one of surprises from J.K. Rowling, and the Harry Potter author is closing 2014 out in a similar way. On Friday, the author announced, via an email to Pottermore users, a series of 12 short stories from her wizarding world to commemorate the 12 days of Christmas. Starting December 12, new installments will be posted at 8 a.m. ET. and will involve “wonderful writing by J.K. Rowling in Moments from Half-Blood Prince, shiny gold Galleons and even a new potion or two.”

Rowling says at least one of the stories will focus on Potter’s rival, Draco Malfoy. Back on Halloween, Rowling wrote 5,000 words for Pottermore about another auxiliary Potter character, Dolores Umbridge.

Skeletor and He-Man Are Workout Bros in New Honda Commercial

From toplessrobot, Following an initial series of ads featuring '80s toys, Honda follows up with a holiday themed set, featuring the likes of Jem, GI Joe, and of course Eternia's two greatest foes. Entitled "Jingle Bros," it's mainly Skeletor rapping about how he and He-Man are pals now, and showcasing what they do together. It really doesn't have anything to do with selling cars - Skeletor rides off on Panthor rather than a Battle Ram or anything - but it does feature a disturbing moment when Skelly and He-Man both get matching She-Ra "heart" tattoos.

I guess it's cool that bone-dome loves his niece and all - but the artwork just makes me think of something more than familial, especially since no canon has ever made clear that Skeletor knows he's related to her.

Star Wars - Episode VII: The Force Awakens - Retro-cut

Kirk Cameron Film Named Worst Ever

From darkhorizon, The recent "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas" has officially become the the worst movie of all-time according to the film database siteThe IMDB. 4,918 users have voted in the poll with the movie pulling a 1.5/10 rating, overtaking the legendarily terrible "Birdemic: Shock and Terror" at 1.8/10.

The faith-based "Saving Christmas" stars Kirk Cameron and Darren Doane in which the pair play brothers-in-law with Kirk's character showcasing to Doane's that various popular elements of Christmas are actually Biblical.

Cameron's film did not go well with critics, garnering a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 18/100 on Metacritic - to be fair to Cameron, the woeful Ben Affleck comedy "Surviving Christmas" several years ago didn't score much better.

After the initial wave of critical reviews, Cameron took to social media to rally his fans for support by asking them to give the film a high public rating on Rotten Tomatoes. When word got around about his attempt to 'rig the game' as it were, detractors fought back and now the film has an audience score of 32%.

The film has grossed $2.5 million from a $500,000 budget, so Cameron is likely ho-ho-hoing his way into profitability.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Happy Birthday Catfreeek!

Happy (day late) Birthday to the coolest Cat I know! You rock, Catfreeek. Glad we got a chance to shoot the shit while you were getting inked last week.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch is Dr. Strange!

From darkhorizons, Following on from the Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool report, another piece of Marvel Studios casting news today that essentially just acknowledges what has been known for some time - that Benedict Cumberbatch has finalised his deal to play Doctor Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios' "Doctor Strange" movie.

The "Sherlock" and "The Imitation Game" star will play the neurosurgeon who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions and becomes the next Sorcerer Supreme who protects Earth against magical and mystical threats.

Joaquin Phoenix was sought for the role but dropped out earlier this year. Cumberbatch, who had always been a fan favorite for the part before Phoenix was linked to the role, was long rumored for the role and began talks in October.

Scott Derrickson is directing the film from a script by Jon Spaihts with a November 4th 2016 release planned.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

'Terminator: Genisys' trailer!

The Bond 24 Title Is ‘Spectre’

(CNN) -- The past is new again for agent 007: The next James Bond film will be called "Spectre."

Director Sam Mendes announced the name of the 24th official Bond film Thursday at England's Pinewood Studios.

Austrian actor Christoph Waltz will join Daniel Craig in the cast. Craig makes his fourth appearance as the rugged British secret service agent.

Shooting for the film, due for release in late 2015, begins Monday.

Mendes all but said the title was a nod to the SPECTRE terror group featured in Ian Fleming's James Bond novels and the early films.

"Those of you who have some knowledge of the Bond franchise and the legend of Bond will probably have some idea of what that refers to, but I couldn't possibly comment," Mendes said.

Rome, London, Mexico City, the Austrian Alps and Morocco will serve as some of the film's locations.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Opinion: Why Lego is ruining our kids' imaginations

London (CNN) -- Lego might not seem like the sort of thing to make your blood boil.

The venerable toy is one of the most popular playthings of all time. People of all ages love it. And if previous years are anything to go by, Christmas stockings will soon be bulging with the stuff.

But the irony is that because people feel such visceral affection for the toy, they tend to fly into a rage when they believe its standards are slipping.

In fact, I'm getting a bit hot under the collar myself.

Principled Lego enthusiasts have been arguing that they undermine the whole point of the toy, as they encourage children to construct showpiece models from instruction booklets rather than building something from their own imaginations.The latest furore concerns Lego's "franchise" sets, which depict scenes from movies like "Star Wars," "Lord Of the Rings," and "Marvel.""Marvel."

"Lego taught me the art of creative destruction -- the need to break something in order to make something better," wrote the blogger Chris Swan.

"Lego for me was always about creativity, remaking and improving on existing designs. Those things don't happen with the sets that are designed to build a model of a single thing.

"Good old generic Lego, with endless possibilities on offer, hasn't gone away, it's just been drowned in a sea of marketing for other brands."

Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbaek contested these claims. "The bricks will probably still end up in big boxes in homes and that will act as a pool for creativity," he said.

But many believe that the complex pieces contained in franchise sets make it very difficult for children to pursue their own designs (Lego now manufactures no less than 3,000 individual pieces).

This is not the only time that Lego has found itself embroiled in controversy. In 2011, when it released "Lego Friends," a range aimed at girls that included beauty parlors, cupcake bakeries and great quantities of the color pink, it was accused of crude gender stereotyping.

As one seven-year-old girl wrote in a viral letter, "all the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks."

(Lego's ham-fisted attempt to address these concerns, a new set called "Research Institute" that featured female scientists,sold out within days.)

For any discerning adult, all this makes you want to weep. Whatever happened to the idea of buying big bags of Lego for your children and letting their imaginations do the rest?

It all seems a long way from the guiding principle of Lego's founder, the Danish toymaker Ole Kirk Christiansen, that "Der bedster er ikke for godt" -- "only the best is worthy." And it supports the general impression that the classic toys of previous decades are being replaced by overly commercialized, sexualized, dumbed-down bits of tat.

Let's skip Sindy and Barbie and take, for instance, Playmobil. Its new City Life range, which is aimed squarely at girls, includes scenes like "Shopping Center," "Beauty Salon," and "Clothing Boutique," all awash with sickly pink. (Because that's what girls are supposed to be into, right?)

Boys, however, are presented with the "Top Agents" range, which includes a video camera that can be attached to a remote-control car so that kids can spy remotely on people (let's not mention the ethical tension between privacy and surveillance).

This bears scant resemblance to the traditional Playmobil -- those innocent little figures with the inverted crescent smile, those skinny horses to clip them on -- which fired the imaginations of generations of children over the last few decades.

Now, we all understand that toy manufacturers are not charities. They are in it for the money, and good for them.

But play is a vitally important part of a child's development, and toy manufactures are uniquely placed to influence their lives -- for the better or for the worse. Why do we stand back while they ride roughshod over our kids' moral and spiritual well-being in the pursuit of maximum profit?

Obviously, creating multiple differentials and marketing towards them is good for business. The more the consumer -- that is, the child -- can be sold the idea that this particular product is essential for a lifestyle aspiration, the more the dollars will come rolling in.

It makes for a depressing indictment of society's view of childhood.

As Christmas approaches, millions of harassed adults will stream into toy stores all over the world in search of that special something that will make their little one's eyes light up.

In the vast majority of those stores, the toys will be divided by gender. Boys' toys will be largely action-based, while girls' toys will be centered around dolls, homemaking and the attempt to conform to a specific idea of beauty, all decked out in pink and tied with a bow.

The gifts will be selected, wrapped and presented. There will follow two days of mayhem.

The girls will instantly be wearing tacky princess dresses; the boys will be armed to the teeth and roaring. Toys that appear impressive but are actually impossible to play with will be littered in the corners of rooms.

Electronic noises will blare unneeded from every corner, and children will enter a vegetative state as they sit for hour upon hour in the dystopian glow of various screens.

Now, I'm not a Christian. But it strikes me that Christmas should be more than just an orgy of consumerism.

This Yuletide, therefore, perhaps we should consider these questions seriously. What sort of adults will today's children become? What sort of world will they create? And what are their toys actually doing to them?

We're Through: Guy Pranks Girlfriend Into Thinking He Threw Their Son Over Balcony

From geekology, This is a video of professional prankster (literally, he makes a living doing this shit) Roman Atwood convincing his girlfriend he accidentally threw their son Kane over a balcony. That -- wow, that's pretty serious. I guess he's pulled every other prank already? Also, I had no idea making prank videos on Youtube could buy you such a nice house. I mean, it has a fish tank in the wall. That is fancy pants. My pants? These aren't fancy at all. "Those are athletic shorts." Yes they are. And if I lift my leg like this? "I can see your balls." Yep.

Man Writes Own Obituary, Reveals Himself As Spider-Man

[via geekology]

Monday, December 01, 2014

Box Office

From EW, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, now in its second weekend, had two wide releases to compete against this weekend, Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2. But it wasn’t much of a competition at all: Mockingjay grossed $56.9 million, while Penguins brought in less than half that with $25.8 million and Horrible Bosses 2 with $15.7 million.

Mockingjay’s box office success is expected. The film, the third in the Hunger Games series, is part of a wildly popular franchise that younger and older crowds are both interested in thanks to its dark, gritty world and A-list stars ranging from Jennifer Lawrence to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Penguins, on the other hand, is also part of a franchise — but one not quite as beloved, apparently.

Big Hero 6‘s mere existence most likely contributed to Penguins’ numbers — many audiences are more drawn to the Disney film than the Dreamworks-made Penguins. Horrible Bosses 2, though, doesn’t have a similar excuse: Its predecessor, Horrible Bosses, opened with $28 million in July 2011 and the sequel was expected to bring in similar numbers, especially because there aren’t many comedies currently in theaters. While the sequel’s $15.7 million opening isn’t terribly weak, it definitely underperformed compared to the first film — and barely made it into the top five.

Big Hero 6 and Interstellar, both movies surrounded by a lot of hype, continue to bring in solid numbers, while Gone Girl finally found itself outside the top five this weekend (the thriller grossed $2.5 million) for the first time since its Oct. 3 release.

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 - $56.9 million
2. Penguins of Madagascar - $25.8 million (5-day total: $36 million)
3. Big Hero 6 - $18.8 million
4. Interstellar - $15.8 million
5. Horrible Bosses 2 - $15.7 million (5-day total: $23 million)

Dumb and Dumber To brought in $8.3 million, down 40 percent from last week’s $13.8 million. The Theory of Everything expanded to 802 theaters this weekend and brought in $5.1 million and Foxcatcher, now in 72 theaters, made $1 million. The Imitation Game opened in just four theaters and made $482,071.

In other box office news, Interstellar continues its successful IMAX run: The Christopher Nolan film has now made $91 million globally from its IMAX screenings — and is now one of the highest grossing IMAX films of all time.

Mockingjay has made $254.4 million internationally, meaning its on track to beat out Catching Fire’s $440 million foreign box office total.