When Brilliant Met Divine: A Healthy Conversation with Bette Midler


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Photo by Jonathan Pushnik
Bette Midler
She sings. She dances. She acts. She jokes. She cleans up decrepit, crumbling urban properties. She wins awards for all those things. And she also, simply, talks.

In a bit of a departure from her standard high-production fare, on April 29, Bette Midler, the aptly monikered Divine Miss M, addresses the equal-parts anticipatory/participatory audience of the Brilliant Lecture Series.

"I'm happy to be doing this event. I've been doing them for a couple of years now, I kind of enjoy them," Bette Midler remarked on her upcoming Q-and-A appearance with the series which this year has also welcomed luminaries Betty Buckley, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. "I've been to Minneapolis, I went to Niagara Falls, I mean, I've been around.

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Stupid Advice About "Marrying Smart" in New Book

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Last week, collegiate women everywhere were offered some advice that seemed to be sent via mimeograph directly from 1955. Author Susan Patton, who dubs herself "The Princeton Mom," released her book Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE (capitals hers). The book is a self-help guide, if you will, on how to bag a good man early on in life -- when young women are in college. Patton then goes into great detail, based on her own personal experience and that of people she knows, on why this is the best time for such an endeavor.

Some of the advice Patton offers is genuinely sound: Look for good boys because they make good men; don't date married men; if he cheats with you, he'll cheat on you. All of this is fair. The book is broken into parts based on age, college years, twenties, thirties and the differences in finding a "mate" (God, I hate that word) through these times in a woman's life. And despite what we want to say, finding a guy in your twenties is significantly different from finding one when you are 30. But very quickly, Patton's advice turns into a bad episode of The Donna Reed Show, except even Donna Reed wouldn't put herself down like Patton is suggesting young women everywhere start to do.

The crux of Patton's book is that young college women need to be intelligent and find a man while in school. If finding said man gets in the way of your studies or personal exploration, well, that's just fine by her. You'll have plenty of time to get a career going, but so many smart, capable and, most important, single men will never again surround you at once; the time for snagging one is nigh!

Patton is right on the one hand -- being in college is probably the last time you will be living among a plethora of college-age men, but smart? Capable? College guys? Hey, Susan Patton, when was the last time you were in college? That's right: a long, long time ago.

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The Russians Are Bad Guys Again, and It's About Damn Time

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Welcome back, comrades.
Things are getting a mite testy down Crimea way:

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainians in this nation's capital prepared themselves for war after results from the disputed referendum in the Crimea showed an overwhelming majority in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

Crimea's election committee said that 97% of voters backed a union between the largely ethnic-Russian peninsula and the huge neighboring country.

"I have a feeling that today is the last calm day," said Lubna Petrova, a grandmother who was watching TV coverage of events in Crimea. "Tomorrow Putin will start a war against the Ukrainian nation, and he won't stop until he takes over the entire country."

Good times. But even with all the fears for Ukraine's sovereignty and the possibility of armed conflict between Russia and the West, there is some good news. Specifically, it's now safe for Hollywood to make Russians their main movie villains again.


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Zach Levi Explains It All: Why Nerd HQ 2014 Needs Fan Funding

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Chuck Cook Photography
Zachary Levi (center) at Nerd HQ along with Chuck co-stars Mekenna Melvin (right) and Joshua Gomez (left)

Nerd HQ is the brainchild of actor Zachary Levi of Chuck fame, business partner (and former Chuck props guy) David Coleman and Courtney Coleman, David's wife. (Levi also provided the voice of Flynn Rider in Disney's Tangled and his singing on "I See the Light" garnered a Grammy award, as well as an Academy and Golden Globe nomination.)

The Nerd Machine
In this video, Zachary Levi explains why Nerd HQ has to be crowd funded this year. Donations are being accepted at the Indie Gogo site (click to view).

Together, they run a company called The Nerd Machine, which produces apparel and accessories that allow fans to express their nerdiness in a loud and proud way.

For the past three years, Nerd HQ has offered, free of charge, a place for pop culture fans to hang out during San Diego Comic-Con. (It is in no way affiliated with the convention.)


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WhatsApp With Facebook Taking Over the World?

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Double the pleasure, double the fun.
I try my best to keep up with all the web goings-on that the kids are into: For one, it's a part of my job and for two, it makes me feel not so old. But I won't lie; I had never even heard the word WhatsApp before two weeks ago when my step-mother, who lives in Mexico, suggested I download it so we can chat. Yes, my step-mother told me about it. I am lame.

But now, WhatsApp is all over my radar - and everyone else's who cares about Facebook's world domination -- due to the purchase of the app by Mark Zuckerberg and Co. If you are like me and had not heard of the app before, or even before reading this right now, it is basically a text messaging application that enables you to chat with people via the Internet. It's like Skype but for texting, and it's free for the most part.

Last week, Facebook shocked the universe by buying the app for a whopping $16 billion dollars! Billion with a B. Thus far, this is the largest purchase of a start-up ever in the history of the word start-up.

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Celebrities Tell Magazines: "Stop Looking at My Baby Unless You Pay Me!"

Categories: Pop Culture

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People magazine
I just finished reading Alec Baldwin's piece in New York Magazine in regards to his dismay over public life. After reading all about the massive cross he has to bear by being a celebrity that makes millions of dollars, I still don't feel bad for him. His new baby, on the other hand, is another story.

Celebrities and their children. This country has a lot of odd obsessions: reality television that is not based in any reality, shopping for Christmas gifts at absurd hours on national holidays, extreme skiing, doing 20 minutes of abdomen workouts in less than 10 minutes and expecting the same results and, even more than all of those things, we love celebrity children.

Our intense love of Hollywood's spawn starts early; we watch for slightly significant baby bumps, we fixate on growing bellies, we laugh over how "like us" celebs' high-calorie cravings are, we both criticize and laud post-baby bodies, we mock the weird names they call their children, and we love love love to look at pictures of their kids. We love it!

Why do we love ogling over pictures of celebrity whippersnappers? Who the hell knows, but we do and because of that fact, magazines that focus on the intimate lives of famous folk feed our addiction with highly publicized exclusive photos, daily updates on how these children's lives are better than our own and comparison pics of which baby wore it best.

But lately, our worship of the recognized rug rats has gotten a lot of heat from none other than their attention-loving parents.

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Bill Hicks: His Ride Ended 20 Years Ago

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The Goat Boy in repose.
As of February 26, comedian Bill Hicks will have been dead 20 years. Houston's favorite son (don't try to deny it) was 32.

Whether he went on to meet his version of Jesus (the guy who doesn't like crosses), descended into the infernal regions (where the Satan-worshipping family down the block with all the good albums ended up), transmuted into pure energy, or is simply moldering in the ground in the Hicks family plot in Mississippi, we'll probably never know. Still, two decades removed from his untimely death from pancreatic cancer, Hicks remains one of the most revered and influential comedians ever.

Just ask Denis Leary.


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Twitch Plays Pokemon: Perhaps It Is We Who Are the Pocket Monsters

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It's weirder than you think.
You've seen The Truman Show, right? Oh, no? Okay, go ahead and do that. It's cool. I'll wait.

Good movie, right? Now imagine if Truman had an earpiece, and into that earpiece is piped the reactions of every single audience member across the land. Now imagine that they are all shouting commands at him, and Truman must do the first one he hears after finishing a task, regardless of what it is.

Walk. Run. Dig. Rifle through your pockets. Switch directions. Break some shit. Fight that guy. Throw your wallet away. Jump off that cliff.

Something very much like that is happening right now on the Internet. It is a phenomenon called Twitch Plays Pokemon, and even if you are like me and care nothing at all about Pokemon, I urge you to keep up with it. It is endlessly fascinating.

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Reality Bites Turns 20 Today, Still Isn't Very Good

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Generation Ecch
To begin with, I'm not referring to *that* Reality Bites, your weekly glimpse into the abyss that is (mostly) basic cable reality television. That's only 2.5 years old and just as bitingly hilarious as ever.

Cough.

No, I'm talking about 1994's Reality Bites. You remember: Winona Ryder before she became Spock's mom? Ethan Hawke before he de-grunged? Janeane Garofalo? Ben Stiller? That guy from Sahara?

The movie was released on this day in 1994, and is held in high regard by many locals, probably because it's one of a very few that's recognizably set in H-Town, with Montrose, Greenway Plaza, and Tranquillity Park figuring prominently in several scenes. Unfortunately, that hometown affection has caused many to overvalue what is, at best, a mediocre film.


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Sharking in the Seventies

Categories: Pop Culture

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Incredibly, Misty Knight never got her own TV show.
Though I've written about the show a couple of times here, last night's mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead actually served as a jumping-off point for a discussion about something far more interesting: sharks.

Backing up a bit: Rick is in sorry shape (broken ribs, multiple contusions, a shirt that must stink to high heaven by now), leaving son Carl free to wander around and almost get killed twice. As a reward for incompetence that stops just shy of Darwin Award status, he finds a giant can of warehouse club chocolate pudding, which he eats on a rooftop while contemplating his dwindling character arc.

This got my little group of TWD watchers wondering -- yes, four to five of us get together every week for "Zombie Taco Night," let he who is without nerd sin cast the first nerd stone -- will "eat the pudding" replace "jump the shark" in our pop culture lexicon? This, in turn, led to a discussion about the influence of Jaws on entertainment, specifically TV. Most of us were kids in the late 70s who watched way too much prime-time network TV, so it was easy to rattle off most, if not all, relevant shark appearances of the tops of our heads.


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