“America’s Got Talent” made another big splash Tuesday night — and this time it didn’t happen on stage.
Melanie “Mel B” Brown threw her drink at fellow judge Simon Cowell after the latter made a snarky joke about her wedding night.
The incident occurred during the live show as magician Demian Aditya attempted an escape trick. The trick fizzled, leaving host Tyra Banks to explain that there had been a technical malfunction.
That’s when Cowell opened his big mouth.
“I kind of imagine this would be like Mel B’s wedding night,” he quipped. “A lot of anticipation, not much promise or delivery.”
Brown clearly did not appreciate the comment. She immediately sprang from her seat, flung the contents of her cup at Cowell and then stormed off.
— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) August 23, 2017
“Mel B is out,” Banks told the audience. “This is live TV, y’all.”
The show’s official Twitter account tweeted that Brown had left the building.
The incident comes as the former Spice Girl is in the middle of a contentious divorce from estranged husband Stephen Belafonte.
Brown, who has doused Cowell before, eventually returned to the judges’ panel to finish out the show. Afterward, she told “Entertainment Tonight”: “He should know, if you say something inappropriate he’s gonna get like stuff thrown at him.In a friendly way. I made sure there was no ice in it this time.”
Brown also told “ET” that she called Cowell “an a**hole and that was it and he goes, ‘Oh, whatever.'”
Samsung introduced the Note 8 to the world Wednesday, looking to put the recall of the Note 7 behind it once and for all.
I got to spend some time with the new phone. At first glance, the Note 8 seems to have put Samsung firmly on the road to redemption. The phone manufacturer has not had a new model of its premium phone since 2015, after the recall of the Note 7 last year when some of the devices overheated and caught fire. With that said, here are my initial impressions of the phone.
The most striking thing on the Note 8 is its display. It runs edge-to-edge as it does on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. On a phone as large as this — 6.3-inches — the extra space is especially noticeable. For those upgrading from the last available Note, the added screen real estate is almost eye-popping. I’ve never found bezels particularly annoying, but there is something deeply impressive about seeing a screen of this size with (almost) no border around it.
That gives you plenty of room to play with the Note’s signature stylus, both for handwritten notes and for doodles, such as this one a Samsung representative penned on my portrait.
The screen is set up for multitasking, which is arguably Samsung’s biggest power-user advantage over the iPhone. Users can set “app pair” shortcuts to quickly open two apps at the same time. So, if you want to have your calendar handy along with your email, you can set a shortcut to have both appear on the screen.
The dual-camera, for me, is the next most notable feature. Samsung’s made several software improvements to make the phone even better at shooting in low-light, getting sharp in a close-up, and staying steady even when your hands are not.
In the pre-briefing, Samsung also had a side-by-side comparison with a “competitor,” — unnamed, but definitely Apple’s iPhone — in a demo designed to make its stabilization software look amazing. With both phones mounted on a vibrating box, the Note 8’s view screen showed barely a wobble as compared to a the super-shaky iPhone.
I'll have to do a test at a later date to see how it plays out the same way in the real world.
Samsung has also worked some software magic on the way the phone’s camera focuses. Thanks to the dual-lens, the Note 8 actually takes a couple of shots with every shutter click. That allows users to edit their photos more comprehensively after the fact — you can change the background blur of a picture, for example, or see the wide-angle view of a close-up shot.
The Note 8 has a dedicated button for Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant. The voice assistant is smart in some ways — it can recognize what’s in your photos, for example — but still works with a limited number of apps. Samsung is adding more support, however, including for the music service Spotify.
What I would have liked to see
There are some gripes, of course. The fingerprint reader, which was clumsily placed next to the camera lens, is in the same awkward spot. And the Note is still large and somewhat unwieldy to hold if your hands aren’t that big — though the ability to get more screen real estate out of a device that’s physically smaller helps ease that concern.
Of course, evaluations of the more practical considerations — battery life, speed and daily use — will have to come upon further review when I have more time to spend with the phone.
So who should buy it? Devotees of the Note line should be very pleased, particularly coming from the Note 5 — Samsung skipped the Note 6 for branding reasons. If you must have that huge screen, the stylus and/or the multitasking features, this is the best option on the market. The Note 8 is the Samsung also slightly squared off the edges of the Note 8 as compared to previous models, which makes the phone much easier to hold than their slippery predecessors.
For those wondering whether the Note 8 will have the similar battery issues as the Note 7, Samsung has said that it learned its lesson and as a result applied new safety standards when making the phone.
This is Samsung’s premium device, and should be thought of in competition with the iPhone 7 Plus, or whatever upcoming Plus model may appear in the fall.
For most, it will be worth a wait to see what Apple has on offer — which also, conveniently, gives the Note 8 time to work out any potential growing pains.
The Note 8 goes on pre-order on August 25, and hits store shelves on Sept. 15. Prices at carriers will vary, based on the way consumers choose to pay for the phone. But, as a sense of the price, buying the phone AT&T will cost $949.99.
Read more from Hayley Tsukayama:
''Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they've been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.''
- Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things)
"A story is not like a road to follow...it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you."
- Alice Munro (Selected Stories)
"I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction."
- Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me)
The drawings today are by the great Chris Riddell: illustrator, author, former UK Children's Laureate, and a tireless advocate of the importance of stories and art.
Those of us who write online tend to have a very specific mental image of what the standard internet troll looks like. Their typical dwelling involves a wood-paneled basement, usually in the home of a parent. Their uniform is unwashed terry cloth, and their skin is the translucent white of a prehistoric deep sea fish.…
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Here's why I propose everyone have at least one cocktail ottoman in their lifetime (and why I should take my own advice): Every night, I sit down on my sofa and I put my feet up on my wood coffee table. It's hard as a rock, and it certainly does not offer a comfy spot to cushion my heels which leads me to clear the table top to make room for a pillow so I can finally be comfortable. Just imagine if I were to instead buy a coffee table that is also an ottoman and therefore already has a plush, pillowy surface for me to kick back, relax, and rest my feet? And it can serve as additional seating when I need it to? Win-win. (Contrary to popular belief, your guests shouldn't sit on your coffee table. But they can sit on your coffee table if it's also an ottoman.) Here are a few top contenders if you're in search of a cocktail ottoman like I am.
From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index growth moderates
For the sixth consecutive month, architecture firms reported increasing demand for design services as reflected in the July Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the July ABI score was 51.9, down from a score of 54.2 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 58.6 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased from 53.7 to 56.4.Click on graph for larger image.
“The July figures show the continuation of healthy trends in the construction sector of our economy,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “In addition to the balanced increases in design billings across all major regions and construction sectors, the strong gains in new project work coming into architecture firms points to future growth in design and construction activity over coming quarters.”
• Regional averages: South (53.8), Midwest (53.8), Northeast (53.6), West (50.9)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.8), commercial / industrial (55.4), institutional (52.0), mixed practice (48.4)
This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 51.9 in July, up from 54.2 the previous month. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects' services.
Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.
According to the AIA, there is an "approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending" on non-residential construction. This index was positive in 9 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2017 and early 2018.
Some authors have a very distinct brand; their individual works, whether major or minor, are all of a type. If they publish enough, readers tend to make an adjective of their name—so “Ballardian” evokes crashed cars, empty swimming pools, and accelerating entropy, all clinically described, while “Vancean” writers evince a fondness for abstruse vocabulary, ponderous elegance, and gloriously improbable societies. An “Asimovian” story might sacrifice prose and characterization to the rational working out of a Big Idea, while a “Phildickian” tale proceeds by way of shattered realities and paranoid revelations.
Other writers, though, seem almost to begin anew with each new book; so restless are their subjects, styles, and preoccupations that readers never feel entirely settled or comfortable with them. Elizabeth Hand is one such author. She is far too mutable a writer for “Handian” to ever become science fiction shorthand.
The list of awards on Hand’s CV testifies to her range: it includes the Shirley Jackson Award, given for “psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic;” the Nebula, awarded for science fiction; and the World Fantasy Award, presented, of course, for fantasy. She’s published a YA novel about magic, the theater, and incest; a ghost story about folk singers in an Old Dark House; three mysteries about Cass Neary, aging punk photographer and occasional detective; a fantasy trilogy; dozens of short stories; a handful of tie-ins; and several standalone titles. Not only can Hand write with equal authority on the punks and the Pre-Raphaelites, she convinces her skeptical readers that these two wildly divergent movements share some affinities.
Despite the radical differences in form, setting, genre, and intended audience, a devoted Hand reader will gradually begin to uncover unifying themes. Fire., the new Hand collection from PM Press, provides an opportunity to develop a better understanding of her career.
As Hand discloses in “How I Became a Writer,” much of her work is implicitly biographical. The eccentrically grand old houses that we see in Illyria or Wyldling Hall, with their knickknacks and ephemera and their tinctures of dread, mystery, and coziness, derive from her grandfather’s rambling Hudson Valley estate. Some of Cass Neary’s early life—skipping class to enjoy culture and neglecting studies to experience bohemia—parallel the author’s own life. In the essay’s most disturbing passage, Hand also describes a direct experience of true evil; her characters struggle with the desolation occasioned by similar ruptures. Although most of her first Cass Neary novel, Generation Loss, takes place on an island off Maine, one of its most memorable scenes takes place in New York, where Cass, ensconced in a downtown apartment, watches an era end on the morning of September 11, 2001. Both of the short stories in Fire. feature lives devastated in a second; in Hand’s fiction, no world and no individual life is proof against wanton and unwarranted destruction. Few things are more permanent than fragility.
Fire. concludes with two biographical essays on two of science fiction’s tragic heroes. Hand is a past winner of the Tiptree Award, named in honor of Alice Sheldon’s pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. Sheldon, Hand argues, might have been happy had she been born several decades later in a world more considerate of childhood trauma and more accepting of unconventional gender identities. Instead, Sheldon led a life that mixed adventure—childhood expeditions in Africa, postwar intelligence work—with trauma in almost equal measure. In Hand’s telling, the sad end of the story, a murder-suicide, seems almost inevitable: that Alice Sheldon ended her own life doesn’t shock so much as the fact that she endured it so long and so well. Hand’s subsequent essay, on Tom Disch, once again reminds us of just how funny, provocative, and challenging a writer the SF community lost nearly ten years ago. In both of these essays, Hand evinces an honesty and bluntness akin to her subjects’. Neither author “passed suddenly” or “died unexpectedly”; neither author, I suspect, would want such anodyne obituaries.
The shortest piece in Fire. may well be my favorite. “Kronia” is a slipstream, forking-paths story about all the times a woman and her lover did (not) meet, the children they (did not) have, the mutual friends they did not (or did) share, of places they might have traveled and lives they might have led. It’s dreamlike and hard-edged; like Hand’s fiction in general, “Kronia” is tender without being saccharine and attuned to the past without becoming nostalgic. The narrator of the story lives dozens of possible lives in six pages, and perhaps this multiplicity is what’s truly most characteristic of Elizabeth Hand’s writing. No two fans would ever agree on a Liz Hand reading order, and every reader will have a different favorite of her books. They will, however, agree that Elizabeth Hand is worthy of attention, admiration, and devoted reading.
Matt Keeley reads too much and watches too many movies; he is helped in the former by his day job in the publishing industry. You can find him on Twitter at @mattkeeley.
1300 block of West Campbell Avenue, 10:45 p.m. Aug. 17: Someone broke a glass door by throwing a large piece of cement.
600 block of East Hamilton Avenue, 6:20 p.m. Aug. 17: Police say someone stole a laptop computer and a Apple USB charger from a vehicle.
400 block of East Hamilton Avenue, 2:23 p.m. Aug. 17: According to police, a 33-year-old man was seen in a store with a handgun in his waistband.
Whiteoaks and Redding streets, late Aug. 16: A unknown object was used to shatter the rear window of a vehicle.
500 block of University Avenue, 11 p.m. Aug. 17: According to police, someone smashed a car window and stole property. Two ours earlier, another car window was smashed on the 4100 block of El Camino Real where someone else stole items.
600 block of High Street, 4:38 a.m. Aug. 17: Someone reportedly vandalized property.
3100 block of El Camino Real, Aug. 16: Police say someone broke into a vehicle.
100 block of El Camino Real, 1:28 p.m. Aug. 13: According to police, someone robbed another.
East Bayshore Road, 9:08 p.m. Aug. 15: Police say someone stole credit cards from this location and then used them a short time later.
Winslow Street, 4:27 p.m. Aug. 15: The owner of a mini bike told police it had been stolen.
James Avenue, 1:36 p.m. Aug. 15: Someone stole another’s wallet.
East Hillsdale Boulevard, 11:32 a.m. Aug. 17: According to police, someone cut the lock that secured a bicycle valued at $380 and stole it.
Curlew Court, 8:38 a.m. Aug. 17: Someone broke into two vehicles and stole items valued at $600.
Metro Center Boulevard, 4:36 p.m. Aug. 16: Police say someone quickly stole a laptop computer resting on a table.
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Here at Ars, we spend a lot of time talking about how developers deal with the trade-offs between resolution, frame rate, graphical detail, and simulation complexity they face at the top end of modern console and PC hardware. Quite often, the first-blush "wow factor" of more pixels and higher frame rates wins out in this constant balancing act. For Destiny 2, though, Executive Producer Mark Noseworthy says the team prioritized the complexity of the game itself over hitting a frame rate higher than 30fps.
In a Twitter thread back in June, Noseworthy said that the CPU limits on current consoles mean the game had to scale back to 30fps "to deliver D2's AI counts, environment sizes, and # of players." In the latest issue of Edge magazine (excerpted by WCCFTech), Noseworthy expands on the reasoning behind that choice:
It’s about the simulation of the Destiny world. Thirty AI at once, large open spaces, six players, sometimes with vehicles, and dropships coming in; that’s where we’re using the CPU.
Could we make a Destiny game that ran at 60fps? Yes, but the space would be smaller, it would be less cooperative, and there’d be fewer monsters to shoot. That’s not the game we want to make.
First and foremost, we’re trying to make an incredible action game. We don’t feel we’ve been held back by the choices we’ve made about world simulation versus frame rate; in fact, we think we’re offering a player experience you can’t have elsewhere because of the choices we’re making.
Put like that, the trade-off doesn't sound like a bad one. Yes, a game that's locked to 30fps looks markedly worse than one running at 60fps or more, all things being equal. The resulting lack of smoothness is especially noticeable in a reflex-based shooting game like Destiny 2 (though the server's internal tick rate has arguably more impact on how the game feels). That said, a smoother Destiny 2 with fewer simultaneous enemies and fewer player characters in smaller battle locales would probably be noticeably worse to play, too. As long as the game can run steadily at a playable 30 frames per second, without dips, that sounds like a perfectly acceptable trade.
Ariel Motor Company
If you watch Top Gear, you'll know the Ariel Motor Company. It's the British maker of the Atom, a mid-engined assortment of scaffolding that was dreamt up as a modern answer to the Lotus/Caterham Seven—the same car that gave Jeremy Clarkson an epiglottis full of bees. Ariel also makes the Nomad, an off-road version of the Atom that featured in Matt Le Blanc's Top Gear debut.
Both of those vehicles are utterly bonkers, stripped down to the very essence of a car but overloaded with excitement. Which makes us rather excited about the fact that the next four-wheeled thrill ride to emerge from its Somerset factory is going to be an electric vehicle.
NEW YORK CITY—We're live from New York, where Samsung has taken the wraps off its new flagship device, the Galaxy Note8.
Samsung changed everything about the Galaxy S line earlier this year, and those changes are all making the jump to the bigger Note model. You get an extra-tall display with on-screen navigation buttons and slim bezels. The fingerprint reader has been moved to the back, next to the camera components. There's also an iris scanner, a dedicated hardware button for Samsung's "Bixby" voice assistant, and compatibility with Samsung's "Dex" desktop dock.
So what is actually different from the Galaxy S8, which launched almost five months ago? Well, first, it's slightly bigger. While the Galaxy S8+ topped out at 6.2-inches, the Note 8 bumps up to 6.3-inches. On the back there's Samsung's first dual-camera design, pairing a wide-angle camera with a telephoto one with 2× optical zoom. Both have optical image stabilization, something Samsung claims is a first. Samsung has a number of trick features using the dual cameras, such as fine control over depth-of-field and simultaneous dual captures to take a whole-scene, wide-angle shot at the same time as taking a close-up, detailed shot.
Name: Linda Dershang, and Jack the Westie
Location: Belltown — Seattle, Washington
Size: 1,523 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
Linda is a Seattle powerhouse. She is the force behind many of the city's hippest bars and restaurants, and has designed her latest home, a modern condo in Belltown, with vintage finds, designer pieces, eclectic artwork, and a solid dose of '70s glam.
This unconventional Laguna Beach house took four years to build and some three years to sell. Now, after nine months, it’s back on the market.
The 3,000-square-foot, steel-and-glass “rock house” was built into a boulder on the sand. It was designed a couple of decades ago by Orange County architect Brion Jeannette.
After the owner, software entrepreneur Dennis Morin, died, the house was put up for sale. When we spotted the listing in 2014, the asking price was $15 million. Several price chops later, in November 2016, an out-of-state investor bought the home for less than half that sum: $6.5 million.
The house landed on the Multiple Listing Service again this month, with an asking price of $7.995 million and a description that touts it as a “solid investment.” Leo Goldschwartz of McMonigle Group Corp is the current agent.
We’ll see what it sells for.
While Donald Trump has thus far in his presidency shown a marked reluctance to get anywhere near his ultra-liberal friends in California, his visit today to “The Biggest Little City in the World” leaves a mere 11 miles between the Golden State and our golden-sheathed commander-in-chief.
Known worldwide for its hotels and casinos, as well as the birthplace of Harrah’s Entertainment, Reno will host the president later this morning as he continues his western journey (last night in Phoenix) before putting it in reverse and heading back to Washington with a 12:25 p.m. (all Pacific time) scheduled departure from Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
As the president and his posse leave Phoenix at 8:45 a.m. and make their way to Reno, here’s what you should know:
What time will Trump arrive in Reno?
Air Force One is expected to land in Reno at 10:25 a.m.
What will he do once he’s there?
At 11 a.m., Trump will give remarks to the National Convention of the American Legion at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. That group is a national veterans association that often holds its annual meetings at the hall. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that the organization recently reaffirmed its long-held opposition to hate groups, describing them as “un-American.” That could provide some tension as Trump continues to take heat for his remarks about the violent white-supremacist protests in Virginia last week.
Once he’s done speaking, Trump will sign the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act while still at the convention hall.
The president will head back to the airport and take off at 12:25 p.m. for Washington.
Where can I watch a live feed of Trump’s speech?
Can anyone go see him speak?
The American Legion meeting will be open only to members.
Are protests expected?
Local press reports say ten protest groups are expected to gather to meet Trump when he arrives at the Center. They include Black Lives Matter Reno-Sparks, Northern Nevada Progressive Coalition and Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood. According to three Facebook pages for the event, about 300 people were expected to attend and more than 700 people were interested in the rally.
How are the local police getting ready?
The Reno Police Department will cordon off several roads from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., including South Virginia Street, from Peckham Lane to South McCarran Boulevard; Kietzke Lane, from Peckham Lane to Firecreek Crossing; and Redfield Parkway, from Baker Lane to Virginia Street.
A 9-year-old boy abducted by his father after the slaying of his mother – which prompted an Amber Alert – was in protective custody Wednesday after police shot and killed the man in Encino.
The officer-involved shooting occurred about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday on the 5500 block of Lindley Avenue near Killion Street, said Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Justin Eisenberg.
Konstantin Morozov, 48, brought his son, Daniel Morozov, to a friend’s apartment, and police found them after receiving a tip, Eisenberg said.
The elder Morozov, who was suspected of fatally shooting Daniel’s mother and then abducting the boy Monday in Santa Maria in northern Santa Barbara County, emerged from the apartment and confronted officers, prompting an officer-involved shooting, Eisenberg said.
The father was taken to a local hospital, where he died, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.
A gun was recovered at the scene, Lopez added.
An interview with the boy was pending Wednesday, said Eisenberg, who didn’t say if the boy witnessed the shooting.
Lopez said the boy was unharmed and in protective custody with the Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services, which is working on a “placement plan” for him.
“Obviously, his mom was killed the day before, and then his dad,” Lopez said. “They’ve got to find his next of kin.”
According to the Santa Maria Police Department, Daniel was abducted at 8:39 p.m. Monday following the fatal shooting.
Initially, police explained the suspect was seen driving a blue 2015 Volkswagen Golf hatchback with license number 7JGG242, but that vehicle was found abandoned Tuesday morning in Santa Maria.
Police then said the boy and the suspect might be in a black 2017 Jeep Cherokee, license number 7XZK698, but that vehicle was located Tuesday afternoon in Santa Barbara.
Officers went to the shooting scene at 230 N. College Drive in Santa Maria Monday night and found a person dead, the Santa Maria Police Department said. As a result of the investigation, police requested an Amber Alert for Daniel in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Lopez said LAPD’s Force Investigation Division is investigating the officer-involved shooting, while the Santa Maria Police Department are investigating the mother’s shooting death.
Steal the Stars is the story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO. Despite being forbidden to fraternize, Dak and Matt fall in love and decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: they’re going to steal the alien body they’ve been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.
If you haven’t yet listened to Tor Labs’ sci-fi noir audio drama written by Mac Rogers and produced by Gideon Media, you can read our non-spoiler review and catch up on Episode 1: “Warm Bodies”, Episode 2: “Three Dogs”, and Episode 3: “Turndown Service.” Then click through for this week’s installment, in which we meet the reprehensible and extremely influential Trip Haydon, who has less-than-savory plans for the Harp…
Today, Trip Haydon—the head of Sierra and the man who holds all their fates in his hand—is visiting Quill Marine. It’s the ultimate test of Dak’s leadership. There’s no margin for even one mistake.
Steal the Stars is a noir science fiction thriller in 14 episodes, airing weekly from August 2 – November 1, 2017, and available worldwide on all major podcast distributors through the Macmillan Podcast Network. It will be followed immediately by a novelization of the entire serial from Tor Books, as well as an ads-free audio book of the podcast from Macmillan Audio.
Subscribe to Steal the Stars at any of the following links:
About Tor Labs:
Tor Labs, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, specializes in experimental and innovative ways of publishing science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related genres, as well as other material of interest to readers of those genres.
About Gideon Media:
Gideon Media proudly builds on the acclaimed, award-winning theatrical tradition of Gideon Productions in creating complex, riveting genre entertainment. Gideon Media meticulously crafts new audio worlds in which listeners can lose themselves, centered around heart-wrenching, pulse-pounding tales of science fiction and horror.
Katy Perry doesn’t sound thrilled about the idea that David Hasselhoff may be in talks to join her as a judge the upcoming reboot of “American Idol.”
Hasselhoff, whose pop star adventures have been highly appreciated in Europe, confirmed a Daily News report from earlier in the week that his reps are in talks to seat him alongside pop megastar Perry as a judge on “American Idol.”
In the report, a source close to the “Baywatch guru said: “David is interested in the role and his management have made contact with the show’s executives with a view to working out a deal.
Perry is the only judge so far confirmed to be on the next season of the TV talent contest, and will reportedly earn $25 million for the gig.
In an interview on SiriusXM, Perry downplayed Hasselfhoff’s chances and even suggested it’s a good thing he’s not in contention: “I know there’s some people that are in play, and David’s not necessarily been one of them, God bless.”
Perry didn’t come out and say why she doesn’t think The Hoff should be a front-runner for “Idol” — whether she thinks he lacks the musical talent or judging experience. But it kind of sounded like she has doubts about his credentials.
She said she believes the job requires “people that you respect in the music industry.” She also said any judge needs to be someone who can “contribute as far as constructive criticism.”
It should be noted that Hasselfhoff has TV judging experience; he spent four seasons as a judge on “America’s Got Talent.”
In any case, ABC declined to comment when asked if Hasselhoff was in the running for the “American Idol” gig.
EL CERRITO — El Cerrito Plaza shopping center will be the home of an outlet of one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country when MOD Pizza opens its doors.
MOD, which will open in a space formerly occupied by Pasta Pomodoro in mid-November, has a concept that invites customers to design their own pizzas and salads.
Seattle-based MOD was founded in 2008 by Scott Svenson, a former Starbucks executive, and his wife, Ally. It had a huge growth spurt in 2016, opening 95 new stores nationwide, bringing the total to 187, according to a survey by Chicago-based Technomics. Sales rose to $130 million last year, up from $61.4 million in 2015.
“We spent the first four years of our existence thinking through the concept and the culture and our value proposition and working hard to make sure we were building a foundation upon which we could grow more rapidly,” Scott Svenson said in a released statement.
The El Cerrito restaurant will join other MOD locations in Pinole, Walnut Creek, Brentwood and Alameda in the northern East Bay.
The Alameda restaurant offers 10 standard pizzas for $5.47 for a 6-inch, $8.47 for an 11-inch and $11.47 for an 11-inch double crust. From there, customers can choose from an array of sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables and crusts, including vegan options, all for the same price. The pizzas are baked in large gas-fired ovens at 800 degrees so that the cooking is completed in about three minutes.
Salads come in three basic varieties — deluxe, Caesar and simple, which can be modified with the same selection of ingredients as the pizzas, including 22 different vegetables, spices and meats and seven cheeses, and topped with a choice of eight dressings.
MOD, which stands for “Made on Demand,” has made a point of investing in its employees’ success and giving back to communities, Svenson said.
The company makes a special effort to provide employment opportunities to the formerly incarcerated and to people who have had problems with drug and alcohol addiction.
“In our case, it’s a social impact,” Svenson said. “It’s having the business stand for something that’s more than just profit.”
Applications to join the “MOD Squad,” as employee teams are known, can be made on the MOD Pizza web site at https://modpizza.com/join-mod-squad. MOD ranked seventh on Fortune Magazine’s list of the 20 Best Places to Work in Retail in 2015.
The deal at El Cerrito Plaza has been in the works since late spring, and MOD has been approved for beer and wine sales at the location, according to El Cerrito community development analyst Noa Kornbluh.
By Alex Horton, (c) 2017, The Washington Post
At $700 million, Wednesday night’s Powerball prize is the second-largest lottery jackpot in its history, and the math is working out in favor of lotto commissions.
Two years ago, your chances of becoming an instant millionaire were 1 in roughly 175 million. Now, the odds are 1 in roughly 292 million.
Tweaks to the game in October 2015 increased the number of total balls, from 59 to 69, from which players need to pick five. It may seem like a modest change, but the odds of winning the jackpot shot up astronomically.
So now it’s even harder to strike it rich with Powerball, leading to fewer chances of big payouts, which in turn rolls over to gigantic prizes such as the one Wednesday night.
Then you won’t believe what happens next. Media reports (like this one) and social-media posts fuel an ever-increasing prize, Kelly Tabor, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Lottery, told The Washington Post.
That is how the $1.6 billion amount paid out three ways in January 2016 reached its historic value.
The final figure of $700 million will probably balloon by Wednesday morning because of what Tabor called “jackpot chasers,” the casual lottery players who join in when the Powerball reaches astronomical heights.
“That’s really driving up sales right now,” she said.
The pot has been growing since June after the twice-weekly drawings netted no winners.
And if no one claims the winning ticket Wednesday, Tabor said, the next jackpot will probably surpass the $1.6 billion prize as the biggest ever.
States, not necessarily players, are reaping the rewards of the sales surge. National lottery ticket sales in 2016 totaled more than $80 billion, according to figures from the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries cited by the Associated Press. That’s more than was spent last year on movies, video games, books, music and sports tickets combined, the AP said.
Last year’s total was a $7 billion increase from 2015 revenue, which grew $3 billion compared with 2014 after two years of flat sales.
In other words: The rule change reaped big rewards for states and makes it harder for players to win big.
Lottery ticket sales, defended by state commissions as a way to help fund education and veterans programs, have drawn fire in recent years. HBO’s John Oliver delivered a scathing segment in 2014 questioning the potential harm for addiction and some dubious claims of how much revenue actually reaches state programs.
When it comes to modest numbers, the recent rule changes technically make it easier to win a prize because of a reduced number of red balls, known as the Powerball. Players in Colorado have a 1-in-38 chance to win the smallest amount, which is $4 – double the cost of a standard ticket, Tabor said.
The state has seen an uptick in the number of $50,000 and $100,000 prize winners since the rule change, she said.
“That was the feedback from players. They wanted a better shot at smaller prizes,” Tabor said.
Winners will typically opt for a lump sum instead of yearly payments spread across 29 years, Tabor said. That value for this week’s payout is estimated to be about $443 million, depending on state taxes.
New York, which has a relatively high state tax rate, sold the highest number of tickets in 2015. Tabor has some advice for some would-be winners there.
“If you’re playing Powerball, go over to Connecticut,” she said.
Harini Nagendra, a professor at India's Azim Premji University, says that lakes, trees, and other natural resources are vital to maintaining health and nourishment in India's poorest cities.
Wal-Mart has announced plans to collaborate with Google's Home device to offer voice shopping. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, seems to be keeping a close eye on Amazon, whose smart speaker, Echo, has met with success nationwide.
Young men from the North African nation have been involved in deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels, and – just last week – emerged as suspects in violence in Spain and Finland. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.
Deadspin Welp, ESPN Shot Itself In The Dick | Jezebel Torso Found Near Copenhagen Identified As Body of Journalist Kim Wall | Splinter CNN’s Don Lemon Gave a Brutal Response to Donald Trump’s Unhinged Phoenix Rally | The Root Texas Police Officer Was Justified in Striking 14-Year-Old Girl in the Face, Department Says |
A surge of cheap media players, which often use the open source Kodi software, has made it easy for people to stream video from the Internet directly to their TVs.
The media players themselves are perfectly legal, and the Kodi software is too, but when these are loaded with pirate add-ons, legal issues arise.
Earlier this year the European Court of Justice ruled that selling or using devices pre-configured to obtain copyright-infringing content is illegal. With this decision in hand, anti-piracy group BREIN has pressured dozens of vendors to halt their sales, but the action hasn’t stopped there.
Aside from going after sellers, BREIN is also targeting people who make “pirate” Kodi builds, which are prepackaged bundles of add-ons.
“We are also going after people who are involved in illegal builds, those with add-ons for unauthorized content,” BREIN director Tim Kuik confirmed to TorrentFreak without highlighting any specific targets.
Thus far, the group has focused on three ‘pirate’ builds and settled with ten people connected to them.
BREIN settlements generally include an agreement not to offer any infringing material in the future. This is also the case here. The developers face a penalty of 500 euros per infringing link per day.
Aside from the Filmspeler (Film Player) judgment of the EU Court of Justice, BREIN’s actions also use the Geenstijl ruling as a basis. This confirmed that merely linking to copyrighted works without permission can be seen as infringement, especially when it’s done with a profit motive.
In addition to targeting developers, BREIN previously announced that it had successfully halted the infringing activities of 200 sellers of ‘pirate’ media players.
Despite BREIN’s efforts, there are still plenty of infringing players, builds, and add-ons circulating in the wild, even on eBay. However, with pressure from various sides, it has become increasingly risky for the people involved, which is a dramatic change compared to a year ago.
Stephen King likes his epics. The Stand was his version of Lord of the Rings and it was already plenty long in 1990 when he added 329 pages to make it his longest book ever, clocking in at 1,153 pages. It was his massive epic about childhood and adulthood coming in at 1,138 pages. And in 2009 he delivered Under the Dome, his third longest book at 1,072 pages. But an epic is about more than mere page count, it’s about an author’s ambitions, and King’s epics deliver as many characters as we can handle, overflowing a town-sized stage, battling The Forces of Absolute Evil in books like ‘Salem’s Lot, The Tommyknockers, Needful Things, Insomnia, Desperation, and The Regulators.
But an interesting thing’s been happening as King gets older: his books have been shrinking. Starting with 1987’s Misery, but especially with 1992’s Gerald’s Game, he’s limited himself more and more to one or two characters in a single location (Dolores Claiborne, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), and when he has given us that epic scale and scope in books like Cell, Lisey’s Story, Duma Key, and 11/22/63 he’s seen the action through the point of view of one or two characters. It’s something he came to late (King didn’t even publish a first person novel until Dolores Claiborne in 1992) but since Insomnia in 1994 he’s approached his epics from a more intimate perspective. But Under the Dome is a throwback, a massive King-sized epic hoagie, dripping with fillings, the size of ‘Salem’s Lot and Needful Things, done the old fashioned way: cramming in absolutely everything he can lay his hands on, and letting it all hang out.
King has occasionally claimed that he originally started Under the Dome in 1972, but I can’t find much evidence to back that up besides this one statement to the New York Times. Most evidence points to the following chronology. In 1976 or 1977, King wrote the opening chapter of a book called Under the Dome, and later lost the pages. In 1981, while on location shooting Creepshow, King took another stab at the story, calling it The Cannibals about a large cast of characters trapped in an upscale apartment building. He wrote 500 pages (you can download the first 122 of them on his website) “before hitting a wall.” In 2007, inspired in part by Ken Follett’s massive historical novels, he took a third run at the material, and this time he wrote the entire book in 15 months. “I was on fire,” he told the New York Times.
Some folks have pointed out that King’s novel, published in November, 2009 bears a close resemblance to 2007’s The Simpsons Movie in which Springfield is placed under a giant dome, but it also plays with a concept explored in Clifford Simak’s 1965 novel, All Flesh is Grass, about a small town that wakes up one morning to find itself trapped beneath a dome placed by extraterrestrials who want to study their reactions. Then again, The Cannibals was pretty reminiscent of JG Ballard’s 1975 novel, High-Rise, about a luxury high-rise whose residents descend into anarchy and decadence when they seal themselves off from the outside world. It’s also inspired at least in part by Lost, which was pushing peak popularity when King was writing Under the Dome, and the mystery of the Dome with its competing characters trying to decipher weird clues to escape their circumstances, felt more than a little like America’s one-time favorite TV show.
I’ve got a complicated relationship with Under the Dome, because I recapped all three seasons of the TV adaptation and incurred brain damage as a result. Personal injuries aside, Under the Dome is a hell of a book. Does it strain credulity by having a town of 2,000 descend into open warfare after being cut off from the outside world for only a week? Yes. Is its political message broadcast at a volume so loud it can cause permanent hearing loss? YES. Does it demonstrate once again that there is no top that Stephen King can’t vault over one-handed with a cry of “Geronimo!” on his lips? Absolutely. But it also answers the question of why Stephen King has sold 350 million copies of his books: the guy can tell a story.
Under the Dome starts with Dale Barbie, a noble drifter, leaving the tiny town of Chester’s Mill, Maine after getting jumped in the parking lot of a local bar by a bunch of thugs, including Junior Rennie, son of local bigshot and used car dealer, Big Jim Rennie. This is pretty much exactly how we first met saintly Nick Andros way back in The Stand, and the two characters are virtually identical, save that Barbie can talk. Barbie is a main character who’s as anonymous as they come, with no character flaws or traits to get in the way of our identification with him as he races through the breakneck plot that kicks off in the very first chapter. We’re not even on page ten when an impenetrable dome suddenly surrounds Chester’s Mill, reaching 47,000 feet into the sky and 100 feet underground. It causes a plane crash and bisects a chipmunk, giving the TV show one single moment when it topped the novel.
Capitalizing on the town’s sudden isolation from the rest of the world, Big Jim Rennie (who is, of course, a Republican) turns himself into a tiny tyrant, deputizing his insane son, and putting the town under this control. A cardboard cut-out right-winger, Big Jim is not only a big fat hypocrite (the ultimate evil for King) but he bemoans the local bar which he calls a “sinpit”, refuses to use profanity even as he murders his opponents with his bare hands, drives a Hummer, hates President Obama (referring to his middle name “Hussein” as “the terrorist one in the middle”), has a secret porn stash, and bans liquor sales. His churchy exterior conceals the soul of a monster who’s been stealing the town’s propane to power his crystal meth plant hidden inside the Christian radio station he owns. He’s also gotten the local hellfire and brimstone preacher, Lester Coggins, to help him with his meth business. The Rev. Coggins is so twisted and perverse he commits crimes, quivering with an almost-sexual arousal, then flagellates himself for his sins. These are not subtle characters.
But subtle is not on the menu. We first meet Junior Rennie, Big Jim’s son, on page 19, delivering a whiny, self-pitying inner monologue, the sun giving him a headache. Three pages later, he’s calling his girlfriend’s vagina her “goddam itchy breeding-farm”, biting through his own tongue, and bashing her brains out on the floor. Eighty pages later he murders Dodee, her best friend. Two hundred pages later, he’s having sex with their corpses, and there’s still 800 pages to go. Barbie, Julia Shumway, the local reporter, and their other allies are bland and colorless compared to Junior Rennie, Big Jim, the Rev. Coggins, and the rest of the book’s bad guys, making it apparent that while King may hate these villains and what they represent, they inspire his best writing in a way his heroes don’t. And it’s not just the bad guys who are turned up to 11. King’s writing style is in full-on “Heeeere’s Johnny!” Jack Nicholson mode, as loud and blaring as an axe smashing through a bathroom door.
“Suddenly he was swept by horripilation. The goosebumps swept up from his ankles all the way to the nape of his neck, where the hairs stirred and tried to lift. His balls tingled like tuning forks, and for a moment there was a sour metallic taste in his mouth.”
Musical balls aside, some of these ideas were there from the beginning. The Cannibals featured a blue collar, alpha male, NRA member named Pulaski who calls everyone “babycakes” and stockpiles guns in his apartment, including an uzi. And there’s a simpering, god-fearing, overweight, overly-religious woman with an “utterly closed mind” who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Both of them appear marked to develop into villains later in the book. But despite its deep roots, Under the Dome is King’s response to the Bush Administration, much in the same way that Cell was his response to 9/11 and the War in Iraq. Starting with an airplane crash (reminiscent of 9/11), Chester’s Mill descends into anarchy under its criminal Republican leadership which uses religion to mask its criminal activities. As they scramble to enrich themselves and conceal their crimes, the leadership and its enemies both ignore dangerous greenhouse gases building up inside the dome that threaten to kill them all. Worried that people might not get the obvious point, King even said, “I want to use the Bush-Cheney dynamic for the people who are the leaders of this town.” Big Jim is clearly Dick Cheney, staying in the shadows, manipulating elected officials with the greatest of ease, and deeply dangerous. Politicians are powerless in the face of his iron will, allowing Big Jim to deal drugs, murder, and steal with total immunity. Just to really drive the point home, Barbie, a war veteran, is prone to saying, “It’s like Iraq all over again.”
But cartoonish as the political allegory gets, UtD is studded with massive set pieces that bring every character crashing together with a satisfying boom. Whether it’s the dome’s arrival over Chester’s Mill, an outdoor rally by the townsfolk that descends into farce and then tragedy, Junior Rennie and his debauched police buddies gang raping one of their former friends, a food riot at the local supermarket, or the final firestorm that sweeps through town and consumes all its oxygen, these scenes are the kind of big Thanksgiving feasts that King creates for his readers, tying napkins around their necks, and pushing them up to the groaning table before letting them dig in. They’re deeply satisfying and he pulls them off with a lot of invisible craftsmanship, juggling multiple characters and intense action without ever once dropping the ball.
Written in short, propulsive chapters of about 20 to 30 pages each, with each chapter divided into three or four subsections that can run as short as a single page, UtD leavens its breakneck pace with a mordant sense of black humor. After one character dies on his John Deere riding mower which keeps chugging along, King writes, “Nothing, you know, runs like a Deere.” The ending feels like a let-down as we discover that the Dome was put in place by punky little alien kids who were goofing around with their parents’ technology. When they learn that the ants on their ant farm are actually getting hurt by their game, they shut it down immediately. It’s a letdown, but after the massive table we’ve gorged ourselves at, anything less than Junior Rennie crater-humping the Moon until it explodes is going to feel like an anticlimax. This is a long book, but not a repetitive one, and it rarely spins its wheels. After all, King has to push civic society to the breaking point and beyond in just seven days. It took the Bush Administration at least a couple of years to do the same.
Grady Hendrix has written for publications ranging from Playboy to World Literature Today; his previous novel was Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and his latest novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist.