We´re Burning It Up!
Tue, October 14 2014 » Business » Comments Off
Could faking his own death be Andy Kaufman’s biggest joke yet?
In 1980, legendary comedian Andy Kaufman and his writing partner, Bob Zmuda, wrote a script for a film called “The Tony Clifton Story,” based on a character of Kaufman’s.
On Page 124, there is a block of dialogue intended for Kaufman to speak as himself, informing viewers of Clifton’s demise. Among the lines:
“On June 12, 1980 . . . Tony Clifton, at the age of 45, died of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Hollywood, California.”
Four years later, at age 35, Kaufman himself would, supposedly, die — from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Hollywood, Calif.
It was no coincidence, Zmuda reveals in a new book, “Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally” (BenBella Books), written with Lynne Margulies, Kaufman’s girlfriend.
Not only does he firmly believe that Kaufman faked his death, but that Kaufman will be emerging to reveal his great prank to the world very soon.
Zmuda believes the germ of this idea — and, it appears, many of Kaufman’s mental-health issues — began with an incident in his childhood.
Modal TriggerAs Zmuda tells it, Kaufman, who first appeared to be “a normal young boy,” had a grandfather he adored called “Papu” with whom he would “sing songs, play games and just have a great time.” But when Papu died, Kaufman’s parents made “a horrible mistake.”
Instead of telling young Andy, his parents, fearing his heartbreak, said Papu “went away to another country far, far across the ocean and wasn’t coming back.” So rather than learning to deal with death, Kaufman thought he had been abandoned.
This, Zmuda says, is when Kaufman began withdrawing from the world. He would “lock himself in his room and start talking to the walls.”
But it also, Zmuda believes, planted the idea that life and death “could be manipulated.”
Modal TriggerKaufman on “Saturday Night Live” in 1982.Photo: Getty Images
“It was here where I believe Andy would develop the concept of ‘bending reality’ to suit his needs,” writes Zmuda. “If his parents could fake his grandfather’s not dying, Andy would just fake himself dying.”
Kaufman, a “Saturday Night Live” regular who rose to fame on the sitcom “Taxi” and was immortalized by Jim Carrey in 1999’s “Man on the Moon,” was known for stunts, such as once taking his entire Carnegie Hall audience out for milk and cookies after a performance.
He began talking with Zmuda about faking his death several years before his “actual” death.
When SNL’er John Belushi died in March 1982, Kaufman was very upset — not for normal reasons, but because, as he told manager George Shapiro, “John Belushi is pulling my stunt, faking his death.”
Shapiro, who recalls in the book that Kaufman truly believed this for a time, says Kaufman spoke often of faking his own death. “Could you imagine how this is going to blow everyone’s mind?” he would say.
To ‘die’ laughing
Zmuda presents transcripts of several of his conversations with Kaufman on this topic.
Sometime in 1982, Kaufman called Zmuda at 4 in the morning, telling him he had decided to fake his death and insisting he meet him right away.
Modal TriggerBob ZmudaPhoto: WireImage
A half-hour later, as Kaufman devoured a bowl of chocolate ice cream at Canters Deli in Los Angeles, Zmuda told him what he was planning was illegal and refused to have any part in it.
Another time, they argued after Kaufman admitted telling a woman he was going to “fake my death by making people believe I had terminal cancer.” (The woman’s response, according to Kaufman? “She thought it was disgusting, and if I ever brought it up again, she’d never talk to me.” Zmuda had to tell him that “people *really get wigged out when you start f- -king with death.”)
Zmuda also recalls a conversation in which Kaufman started coughing, and Zmuda said: “Stop with the coughing, already. I think it’s a dead giveaway.” Kaufman replied, “I don’t know. Everyone seems to believe it.”
Early on, Kaufman told people he was dying because he “ate too much chocolate.” He had read a book called “Sugar Blues” that said that “too much chocolate can kill you.”
“Maybe I’ll just stick with cancer,” Kaufman said, after which Zmuda asked how long he planned to stay dead. He said, “If I was going to be a little boy about it, I’d go into hiding for one or two years. But if I was going to be a man about it, it’d be 20 or 30 years.”
Modal TriggerAndy Kaufman in “Taxi”Photo: Corbis
Kaufman, Zmuda believes, found a “body double,” someone with his general physical appearance, who was genuinely dying of cancer. Then he began changing his own physicality to match that of the dying man, including losing weight and shaving his head, and released *photos of himself in this state.
Zmuda says that once, when Kaufman’s brother Michael flew out to LA to visit his dying brother, Kaufman accidentally dropped the charade, appearing sick and frail one day but “back to his old self” the next. When Michael asked how it was possible, he was told, “medication.”
Zmuda and Kaufman came to privately refer it as “the dying routine.” In one of their final conversations on the matter, Zmuda says, they discussed his financial situation, since as Kaufman’s writer, Zmuda’s career was built around Kaufman’s. Kaufman suggested leaving Zmuda money, but he said no, as it could implicate him when Kaufman returned.
By then, Zmuda claims, Kaufman had decided on 30 years as the time frame for his hoax and that he would keep Margulies out of the loop, letting her believe he had really died.
Even to Zmuda, who had helped create many of Kaufman’s deceptions, it all began sounding “pretty f- -ked up.”
“Bob, it’s who I am and what I do,” Kaufman said. “Nothing could ever top it. I’ve given it great thought. Besides, I’m getting psyched. I’m starting an entire new life.”
Asked how he would start that life given that the world knew what he looked like, Kaufman suggested becoming a children’s clown, which would allow him to wear makeup, and calling himself “something stupid like ‘Zany Clowny.’ ”
When the body double died, Zmuda says, a switch was made, with the double buried as Kaufman, and Kaufman being spirited away to start his new life.
Co-author Margulies doesn’t seem to share Zmuda’s feelings on this, but offers an alternate theory of Kaufman’s passing.
Zmuda and Margulies reveal here for the first time that Kaufman was bisexual, and she floats the possibility that he died not of cancer but AIDS. The pair writes that Kaufman made them promise to keep his bisexuality a secret until both his parents were dead. Kaufman’s mother died soon after he did, and his father passed away last year.
Modal TriggerAndy Kaufman in 1978Photo: Getty Images
While it has long been known that Kaufman was a sex addict — in just one week, Zmuda says, Kaufman had sex with all 42 women working at the Mustang Ranch brothel in Las Vegas — they recall that he would also pick up men for sex in San Francisco’s Castro District.
“Years after Andy ‘died,’ ” writes Margulies, “a gay friend in San Francisco said that everyone knew Andy died of AIDS because they saw him in the Castro District constantly.”
The book also reveals that *comedian Dave Chappelle told Zmuda at the Aspen Comedy Festival in 2005 that his own infamous exit from comedy, when he walked out on his Comedy Central show, was directly influenced by Kaufman.
After being summoned to see the comic, writes Zmuda, Chappelle announced to the few people in the room: “Folks, listen up. It was because of this man and Andy Kaufman that I quit my job!”
Zmuda says he “winced” in response and asked, “I did?”
Chappelle then told Zmuda that “Chappelle’s Show” “just wanted me to keep that same old step-and-fetch-it bulls- -t going. I wasn’t going to do it! I don’t care how much they paid me. That show was killin’ me. Now I know how Andy was feeling having to do ‘Taxi.’ ”
A late return
Toward the end of the book, Zmuda recalls how at Kaufman’s funeral, he “didn’t shed a tear” but “had to bite my lip a few times to keep from exploding in laughter.” “Everyone was expecting Andy to jump out of the casket at any time,” he says.
Zmuda believes that, given Kaufman’s self-declared 30-year timeline, his return is imminent. Kaufman died in May 1984. If Zmuda is correct, then Kaufman is already late.
In the book’s final pages, Zmuda addresses Kaufman directly, imploring him to emerge and laying out plans for how it could be done, including Zmuda coordinating a massive event at which Kaufman would appear.
Discussing his longtime code of secrecy with Kaufman about their pranks, Zmuda writes: “The only reason I’m giving it up now is that Andy set a time limit on this one. Thirty years. So I’ve kept my part of the bargain and kept my mouth shut. But no more. The prank’s over. I want him back and he’s coming back.”
Tue, October 7 2014 » Business » Comments Off
Tue, September 30 2014 » Business » Comments Off
On Sept. 11, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center unveiled Smart911, a free service which allows any household to upload safety information into a secure online profile. Users choose which information they would like to upload and may include photos of their home and family, as well as medical information such as blood type.
More here: http://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/delaware/2014/09/12/sussex-county-unveils-smart/15541765/
Tue, September 30 2014 » Business » Comments Off
MADRID/SYDNEY (Reuters) – A year after Spain, the sunniest country in Europe, issued notice of a law forcing solar energy-equipped homes and offices to pay a punitive tax, architect Inaki Alonso re-installed a 250 watt solar panel on a beam over his Madrid roof terrace.
“The government wanted people to be afraid to generate their own energy, but they haven’t dared to actually pass the law,” Alonso said as he tightened screws on the panel on a sunny summer day this month. He had removed solar panels from the roof last year.
“We’re tired of being afraid,” he said.
Halfway across the globe, in the “sunshine state” of Queensland, Australia, electrical engineer David Smyth says the war waged by some governments and utilities against distributed energy, the term used for power generated by solar panels, is already lost.
“The utilities are in a death spiral,” he told Reuters by telephone while driving between a pub where he helped set up 120 solar panels to cut its A$60,000 ($53,000) annual power bill and a galvanizing plant which was also adding solar panels to reduce costs.
In Australia, he said, solar panels have shifted from being a heavily subsidized indulgence for environmentally-conscious households to a pragmatic option for businesses wanting certainty about what their running costs will be next year.
“Not many people are doing it because of emissions or the environment,” Smyth said. “It’s about the cost.”
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels constitute the fastest growing renewable energy technology in the world since 2000. Global capacity has exploded from 1.5 gigawatts at the turn of the century to 136 gigawatts currently, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Meanwhile, the price of solar panels has plummeted 80 percent since 2008 thanks to generous state subsidies aimed at promoting clean energy.
It’s still less than one percent of energy capacity worldwide, but the surge in installations of rooftop solar panels is beginning to hit utilities and their business model of charging customers on the basis of consumption.
Joined by traditional energy companies, they are lobbying governments to reverse decades of subsidies to green, renewable energy such as solar and, in some cases, to tax them.
In Europe, Australia and in the United States, energy companies have powerful lobbies that argue that they form a cornerstone of the economy and provide jobs to tens of thousands. Governments are forced to pay heed and in some cases they have acted. australia solarREUTERS/Rebekah KebedeRows of solar panels face skywards at the Greenough River Solar project near the town of Walkaway, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Perth October 10, 2012. Australia switched on its first utility-scale solar farm on Wednesday, bringing the country a small step closer to achieving ambitious renewable energy use targets that traditional coal and gas power producers are now fighting to soften.
Local Australian governments have slashed rebates for households which feed spare solar energy back into the grid, and approved massive increases to set daily connection fees. In Queensland, Australia’s most solar-powered state, one state-owned grid company just raised daily connection fees by 1,142 percent while removing per-unit consumption charges – effectively removing the incentive to switch to solar.
Spain’s decree, although never converted to law, would force solar-equipped homes and businesses to connect to the grid and pay a tax on each kilowatt consumed.
Asked when it might be approved, an industry ministry official told Reuters by e-mail: “It all depends on what the cabinet decides to do in the coming months.”
Nevertheless, the mere threat of the law was enough to ground solar panel installations to a halt in the country. Fewer panels have been installed in Spain this year than any since the early 2000s, renewable energy experts say.
“The draft law was a brilliant move by the government to keep people from going off the grid, delaying competition for the big utilities,” said Cote Romero of renewable energy advisors ECOOO. “They’ve paralyzed a whole sector without actually regulating it.”
And yet, households and businesses find solar energy appealing in an environment where utility bills are increasing.
“Current policy is encouraging people to go off the grid,” said Roger Gill, owner of Spanish solar energy company Expert Sistemas Solares.
“Most of our clients right now are small businesses, particularly in the farming and fishing industries, who are fed up and want some stability in their energy costs.”
Although the surge in solar energy may be fueled in part by environmental concerns, it is not being led by environmentalists. Apple Inc
The record for a country installing solar PV in a year was China, in 2013, with 11.3 gigawatts or nearly a third of global installations. China wants 35 gigawatts of solar PV capacity by 2015 and 100 gigawatts, nearly the entire current world total, by 2020.
australia solarREUTERS/Rebekah KebedeRows of solar panels face skywards at the Greenough River Solar project near the town of Walkaway, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Perth October 10, 2012.
A HIT WHERE IT HURTS
Solar’s rapid rise – along with warmer weather, more energy efficient appliances and various geopolitical factors – has pushed down demand for traditional electricity and cut into utilities’ profits across the world.
Earlier this year, German energy giant RWE AG
A 60 percent drop in wholesale power prices in six years has forced Germany’s utilities to book billions of euros in writedowns on their coal and gas plant portfolio.
“The low power prices are leaving a trail of blood in our balance sheet,” RWE Chief Financial Officer Bernhard Guenther said in May, reporting first-quarter operating profit fell by a fifth.
Although U.S. utilities have yet to feel a financial sting from solar’s rise, they are leery of a future in which the burden of maintaining their delivery systems is spread among a smaller number of customers.
Last year, Arizona became the first U.S. state to introduce a solar tax after the state regulator let its main utility, Pinnacle West Capital Corp
That is much less than the $100 a month APS wanted, but several other states are considering similar proposals, or have pledged to reform electricity rates to address the rise of distributed generation.
“Public utility commissions are all looking at this change in the distribution system and potential change in the business model of utilities,” said David Owens, executive vice president at Edison Electric Institute, the trade group for investor-owned utilities in the United States.
The experience of Hawaii, which has a far larger percentage of homeowners with rooftop panels than any other U.S. state, offers a window into the challenges other regions may face as they bring more and more distributed generation onto their grids.
Homeowners on Oahu – Hawaii’s most populous island – need to get the utility’s approval before installing solar because some of the island’s power circuits have reached a threshold where it would be dangerous to add more PV without investing in upgrades to the distribution system.
In Australia, Queensland state-owned power network company Ergon reported a 5 percent slide in household energy consumption in the 2013 financial year. Last month, the country’s No. 1 and No. 2 energy retailers, Origin Energy
Utility companiesAP Photo/Mike DererGetting the utility companies involved in retrofitting homes and businesses would create jobs at little cost to the government, Clinton argues.
So old energy is fighting back.
Germany, the world’s largest solar market following years of generous state subsidies, imposed a levy in 2014 on small businesses which use self-generated solar power – referred to as the “sun tax”.
“Those who protect the climate get penalized, those who harm it get cleared,” said Carsten Koernig, managing director of German solar campaigner BSW.
“Instead of supporting solar power in its transition to become competitive, it is now artificially made more expensive.”
Australia’s Queensland has ruled out a solar tax but promised to re-jig energy pricing so that everyone – solar-reliant or otherwise – pays the same. But that removes the incentive to go solar, and leaves customers at the mercy of later price rises by the utilities.
“Distributed generation (DG) could be the end of utilities as we know them today,” U.S. investment research firm Morningstar said earlier this year. “Utilities’ centralized network monopolies break down when customers become self-sufficient competitors.”
Romero, the Spanish renewable energy expert, said: “Utility companies know that the future is in renewables, but they’re not going to go down without putting up a fight.”
(Additional reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, Rory Carroll in San Francisco and Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-taxes-fees-the-worldwide-battle-between-utilities-and-solar–2014-9#ixzz3Eh0F0QFR
Mon, September 29 2014 » Business » Comments Off
THE ERASMUS STUDENT exchange scheme has brought so many couples together from around Europe that it has led to the birth of one million babies, according to an EU report out today.
A study of the programme’s impact since its launch in 1987 showed that 27 percent of people who took part had met their current life partner during their stay abroad.
A third of Erasmus students hooked up with people of a different nationality, nearly three times (13 percent) the rate of students who had not travelled.
This has created something of a baby boom, the EU said as it released the results of the study.
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for education, said that the EU “estimates that around one million babies are likely to have been born to Erasmus couples since 1987″.
European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said it was a “touching little figure” that showed the scheme “creates a lot of positive things”.
“It is a great encouragement to young people to go and live abroad and open up to all the opportunities that exist if you are willing,” Hansen added.
Erasmus involves the 28 European Union states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
In total, three million students and 350,000 teachers have taken part in the scheme, the EU said.
Original article: http://www.thejournal.ie/erasmus-baby-boom-love-stories-europe-1684557-Sep2014/
Thu, September 25 2014 » Business » Comments Off
Phil Supple, State Farm’s director of public affairs, told PR Week that Mr. Schneider’s ad “has unintentionally been used as a platform for discussion unrelated to the products and services we provide.”
“State Farm provides health insurance, and nothing ensures public health more than getting vaccinated,” the video says. “It is time to end the anti-vaccination movement; with your help, we can elicit change.”
Mr. Schneider took to Twitter Tuesday night to suggest that his First Amendment rights have been violated.
“‘If the Freedom of Speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter,’ George Washington,” he tweeted to his 203,000 followers.
Hyperdontia is the condition of having supernumerary teeth, or teeth that appear in addition to the regular number of teeth. They can appear in any area of the dental arch and can affect any dental organ.
Howard Stern Wackpacker Eric Lynch has passed away September 20th, 2014 at 3:15 PM in the hospital.
He was 39 years old.
Johnny Frato tweets:
So sorry to hear about Eric the Actor. He truly didn’t care what u thought of him. Which in some ways made him happier than us all. Miss u!
Mon, September 22 2014 » Business » Comments Off
“2099 and I´ll wait for it.”
Sun, September 21 2014 » Business » Comments Off