The Podiyan

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hero: Clint Eastwood - at 80

Eighty things you might not know about the octogenarian and Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood

1. His middle name is Elias; he was born on 31 May 1930.

2. His nickname among nurses was Samson: at birth he weighed an eye-watering 12lb 6oz.

3. He should be called Clint Jnr, as he is named after his steelworker dad.

4. Drafted into the army aged 20, he managed to spend the Korean War poolside as an army swimming instructor.

5. Clint claims to have never sworn in front of a woman.
6. Despite spending half his career in the saddle, he is allergic to horses.

7. He has directed 32 films – more than Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.

8. A late bloomer, 10 of these were released in the past decade.

9. Clint met swimsuit model Maggie Johnson on a blind date in June 1953; they married six months later.

10. They divorced in 1984, nine years after separating.

11. Despite his Dirty Harry films, Clint has been very critical of violence in the movies.

12. He intended to study music before being drafted into the US army.
13. Eastwood has 109 film awards, including four Oscars, five Palme d'Ors and two Golden Globes.

14. Gran Torino is the only film in which Eastwood's character is shot dead. The Beguiled (by poison) and Honkytonk Man (tuberculosis) are the only other films in which Clint's character bites the dust.

15. He lost his virginity at 14 and has been called a "serial womaniser".

16. Spike Lee accused him of not casting enough black actors in Flags of Our Fathers. A spat ensued, Clint pleaded historical accuracy.

17. American feminist magazine Bust praised him, however, for casting female actresses in traditionally male roles.

18. In 1954, he auditioned for the lead in The Seven Year Itch but lost out to Tom Ewell who went on to star opposite Marilyn Monroe.

19. His first (uncredited) movie appearance came a year later, in Revenge of the Creature.

20. His only line was: "I've lost my white mouse."

21. In the 1950s, he was the face of Maxim Coffee.

22. He was first choice to play Charles Bronson's part as Harmonica in Sergio Leone's 1968 epic Once Upon a Time in the West, but turned it down.

23. Clint was, at one time, believed to be a vegan.

24. But he denied this, saying: "That's why I don't look at the internet."

25. Customers can tuck into hog's baby back ribs at his Hog's Breath restaurant in the seaside town of Carmel, California, where he lives.

26. He has been known to spend Friday nights manning the restaurant's barbecue.

27. In a 1959 issue of TV Guide, Clint advised readers to "always eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and vitamins and always avoid drinking excess alcohol".

28. Before he hit the big time, he made his living digging swimming pools.

29. Eastwood was also a paper carrier, forest fire-fighter, golf caddy, gas station attendant and bar room piano player.

30. He recites the Greek alphabet to calm his nerves.

31. Harry Callahan's line, "Go ahead, make my day" from Sudden Impact (1983), is the sixth most memorable movie quote ever.

32. Clint successfully ran for mayor of Carmel to overturn a law banning public ice-cream eating.

33. He stood down after one term.

34. An attempt at pop stardom bombed after his 1961 debut single "Unknown Girl" failed to enter the charts.

35. He was so appalled at his performance in Ambush at Cimarron Pass in 1958 that he almost quit acting.

36. In 1976, he called Richard Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War "immoral".

37. That didn't stop him being a card-carrying Republican who supported both presidential campaigns for Richard Nixon.

38. Clint has also supported the Democrats.

39. Director Arthur Lubin first spotted him in 1954, recalling him as "a soft, awkward, hayseed type".

40. His character in the Fistful of Dollars trilogy constantly smokes a cheroot – an unpleasant experience for the militant non-smoker.

41. He has practised Transcendental Meditation every morning for more than two decades.

42. He was the owner of the US's largest bluegum eucalyptus. A taller tree was discovered in 2002.

43. Meryl Streep claimed his Bridges of Madison County filmset was the quietest she'd ever worked on.

44. In 1958, executives at Universal Studios fired Eastwood for having a distractingly large Adam's apple.

45. Eastwood swam three miles to safety after he was in a military air crash in the Pacific Ocean in 1951.

46. His most famous singing role is in 1969's Paint Your Wagon.

47. Since 2002, Eastwood has campaigned against hunting.

48. In 2007, France honoured Eastwood with the L├ęgion d'Honneur.

49. His heritage is English, Irish, Scottish and Dutch.

50. Clint's big break came in 1959 when he was cast as Rowdy Yates in the TV western series Rawhide.

51. He even recorded an album – Rawhide's Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favourites, in 1962.

52. Eastwood married anchorwoman Dina Ruiz – 35 years his junior – in 1996.

53. They met when the 28-year-old Dina interviewed the 63-year-old Clint.

54. Clint and the cast were so cash-strapped on the 1964 movie A Fistful of Dollars that they made their own costumes.

55. Eastwood was fifth choice for the role of The Man With No Name, after Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Ty Hardin, James Coburn and Richard Harrison.

56. He's not been out of work since.

57. It was Harrison who recommended Clint as a cheap actor who could play a cowboy.

58. Harrison later said that turning down the role and recommending Eastwood was his greatest contribution to cinema.

59. Clint still describes himself as a shy kid.

60. Clint retired from acting after 2008's Gran Torino.

61. He learned to play the piano by imitating records.

62. He wrote the love theme, "Doe Eyes", from The Bridges of Madison County for his wife Dina.

63. Chopin is one of his biggest musical influences.

64. In 2005, Clint agreed to supply the voice for a Dirty Harry video game.

65. His favourite food is sushi.

66. He used to play the flugelhorn.

67. His favourite exercise is on a less-than-manly cross-trainer.

68. As a child, his family moved around a lot because his father had to look for work during the Great Depression.

69. All that house-moving left him so lonely that he invented imaginary friends.

70. He loved Freddy the Pig stories about talking barnyard animals.

71. During the Rawhide years Clint cashed in by performing with other cast members at rodeos for as much as $15,000 a time.

72. He is a stolid admirer of Winston Churchill.

73. His passion for jazz led to the 1988 film Bird, about saxophonist Charlie Parker.

74. He had a tempestuous 14-year relationship with Sondra Locke, with whom he co-starred in six films.

75. The actor, famous for wielding a 44 Magnum, supports gun control.

76. He has seven children with five different women.

77. His oldest son, Kyle, was born in 1968. Morgan, his youngest, in 1996.

78. He co-wrote a hit single, "Why Should I Care", for Diana Krall.

79. He sings the closing song in Gran Torino.

80. He has 164 movie credits as a writer, director, actor, producer and composer.


Security: How to Control Facebook's New Privacy Settings

After causing a major user backlash, Facebook announced a series of new privacy settings that the social networking site plans to roll out during the course of the next several weeks. The new privacy settings are supposed to simplify the process although some are questioning Facebook’s motives.

Facebook Simplifies Privacy Settings Amid Backlash
Facebook CEO Says Company ‘Missed the Mark’ with Privacy
Young People Care About Privacy, Says Pew Survey
How to Protect Your Child’s Facebook Privacy

If you Google the words "Facebook" and "privacy," you are likely to come up with a few thousand news stories and blog entries. After weeks of talk about everything from government regulation to user boycotts, Facebook officials revamped their site's privacy controls to add a dose of simplicity to what some contended had become too complex a process. The changes will be rolled out to all 400 million of the site’s users in the coming weeks. But what do those changes mean, and what will they look like?

If you Google the words "Facebook" and "privacy," you are likely to come up with a few thousand news stories and blog entries. After weeks of talk about everything from government regulation to user boycotts, Facebook officials revamped their site's privacy controls to add a dose of simplicity to what some contended had become too complex a process. The changes will be rolled out to all 400 million of the site’s users in the coming weeks. But what do those changes mean, and what will they look like? Here at eWEEK, we have the answers.Update 5/28: While Zuckerberg's changes have garnered praise in some corners, some privacy groups say the Facebook privacy control updates do not go far enough. The fundamental issue, critics say, is that Facebook's approach to privacy is for users to opt-out of sharing information instead of opting-in.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alice in Wonderland (2010 film)

Alice in Wonderland is a 2010 fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton, written by Linda Woolverton, and starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen and Stephen Fry and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is an extension of Lewis Carroll's novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The film uses a technique of combining live action and animation.
In the film, Alice is now nineteen years old and accidentally returns to Underland (misheard by Alice and believed to be called Wonderland), a place she visited thirteen years previously. She is told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland's inhabitants. Burton said the original Wonderland story was always about a girl wandering around from one weird character to another and he never felt a connection emotionally, so he wanted to make it feel more like a story than a series of events.
He does not see this as a sequel to previous films, nor as a re-imagining. It premiered in London at the Odeon Leicester Square on February 25, 2010, and was released in Australia on March 4, 2010, and the United States and the United Kingdom on March 5, 2010, through IMAX 3D and Disney Digital 3D, as well as in traditional theaters.

The Prince of Persia - Is Jake Gyllenhaal Right for This Blockbuster?

The Prince of Persia videogame franchise has been acclaimed by critics, not only for its innovative gameplay but also for its Middle Eastern protagonist and cast of characters. So it comes as no surprise that Disney’s decision to cast the Swedish-Jewish Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular prince has generated some controversy. Chris Lee of the Los Angeles Times noted recently that the film, which is directed by Mike Newell and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, has rubbed a lot of Asian-Americans the wrong way, since literally “none of its principle cast members are of Iranian, Middle Eastern or Muslim descent.”

And they probably have a right to be upset. Hollywood has a long history of casting white actors in minority roles, and often those characters have been portrayed in stereotypical or offensive ways (Robert Downey Jr. brilliantly satirized this tradition in Tropic Thunder). Still, it’s hard to blame Disney for picking Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Alfred Molina to play three of Prince of Persia’s leads; when a studio is investing $200 million (production price people, that's not counting P&A) in a summer movie, they don’t experiment with casting lesser-known, non-white actors. (Of course, there’s reason to hope that paradigm is changing: Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire was a massive box-office success, and NBC’s upcoming fall comedy Outsourced proves that the networks are recognizing the marketability of larger minority casts.)

Disney has tried to preempt the controversy by hiring marketing firm BoomGen Studios during the film’s scripting process to consult on issues of historical accuracy and cultural sensitivity. Their advice: set Prince of Persia in a decontextualized “mythological” age, avoiding the issue of Islam and other touchy subjects altogether (although apparently Gyllenhaal’s greasy hair-do is completely historically accurate!). According to BoomGen’s co-founder Reza Aslan, Prince of Persia should be “the anti-300,” referring to the Zack Snyder flick that caught flack in 2007 for its vilification of Persians. And what about Gyllenhaal’s casting? “Iranians are Aryans,” Aslan said recently. “If we went back in time 1,700 years to the mythological era, all Iranians would look like Jake Gyllenhaal.”
Ha! But even if we accept that the historical Prince was decidedly non-swarthy, I still have some doubts about Gyllenhaal’s casting. Remember, this is the actor who is probably better remembered for his turn as gay cowboy Jack Twist in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain than for his more macho posturing in Sam Mendes’ Jarhead. I’m not sure how that association is going to play with some American audiences.

But more importantly, has anyone else seen the trailer? Gyllenhaal has all of three questionably pronounced lines – four if you include the breathy “Hassassins!” Which probably means that his accent in the movie is hilariously bad. But it also suggests that the marketing team behind Prince of Persia is cautiously backing away from the film’s leading man. In the trailer we get a lot of Gyllenhaal twirling, flipping, and generally failing to scowl convincingly – but he’s suspiciously quiet, even demure, and overshadowed by Gemma Arterton’s narration. Are the filmmakers hedging their bets by downplaying Gyllenhaal’s role?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time opened as No. 1 in 18 of the 19 international markets it was released in this weekend, but failed to garner the box office grosses of Kingdom of Heaven or Iron Man, which Disney was using as benchmarks. You can draw whatever conclusion you want from that (studio execs are blaming the heat), but I say Prince of Persia is going to need a little bit of luck domestically to make the kind of money Bruckheimer is gunning for. Then again, what else are you going to watch this weekend, Sex and the City 2? Booo. At least Gyllenhaal and company will be doing something more exciting in the desert than wandering around looking for Cosmos and discussing fake orgasms.

Source: LA Times

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Office 2010: Not Your Only Choice

Microsoft Office 2010 is the obvious choice when it comes to office suites. But is it always the right one? What about Google Docs,, Zoho, or Corel WordPerfect Office? Is one of these alternatives right for you?

Microsoft Office 2010 is an impressive, monumental suite of applications. But, let's face it, with every new version Microsoft's juggernaut gets bigger and pricier. And with every new release the question comes up again: do you really need all this? Is it time to jettison Office altogether, and go to one of three main alternatives: a cloud-based application suite like Google Docs (or the less-famous Zoho), a free or low-priced Office workalike such as, or even a suite that works very differently from Office, such as Corel WordPerfect Office X5? For some readers, Office 2010 is definitely the right choice: check out Samara Lynn's Analyst's View: 6 Reasons Your SMB Might Choose Office 2010 Over Google Apps for Business. But that doesn't mean it's the right for everyone. We've examined the best of the competition to help you decide.
GoogleDocs This cloud-based service is a terrific choice for editing simple Word documents from someone else's computer, or when you're carrying only a lightweight netbook without Office installed. As a complete replacement for Office, it's only ideal for users with minimal needs for advanced formatting and long-document features, users who'll never need to use endnotes or cross-references (as in "see page 9," where the correct page number is inserted by the word-processor), and who'll never need to print an envelope or send out mass mailings. Google Docs automatically keeps track of your revisions—no need to turn on tracking, as in Office—but GoogleDocs won't satisfy anyone who wants tight control over formatting or who needs to write anything more complex than a term paper. Also, are you really sure you want to leave your documents in the cloud, subject to Google's occasional outages or those times when you can't find a connection to the Internet? I don't want to trust my data to the cloud, and unless your data is worthless to you, I don't think you should trust it there either. For most users, I recommend Google Docs as an adjunct to Office, not a replacement. Note: Cloud-computing fans who want to avoid Google can try Zoho, but they're the only people I'd recommend it for; while Zoho has a richer feature set, it's far harder to use. This suite is free, powerful, and compatible with almost all Office documents, but it's clumsy to navigate, and it lacks dozens of conveniences that make Microsoft Office worth having. On the other hand, it doesn't try to format your documents for you the way Word does, and if you're comfortable with the old menu interface in Word 97 through Word 2003, you can still use it in Also, if you're ideologically committed to open-source software, is the least bad choice. still looks and feels like a last-century application, and it contains import filters that let it open dozens of ancient document formats that Office can't handle. If you even need to work with old documents that nothing else can open, is an essential feature in your toolbox. But the main reasons anyone would use it instead of Microsoft Office are price and open-source ideology.

Corel WordPerfect WordPerfect is the only surviving alternative of note to the Microsoft Word way of organizing documents, and the only word processor that gives you clear and simple control over the way your documents are formatted. With WordPerfect, all formatting is controlled by codes that (for example) turn on double-spacing and then turn it off again. When you move, modify, or delete one of these codes in WordPerfect's Reveal Codes window, you control exactly where your document's formatting will change, and exactly how. You won't get the kind of surprises you get in Microsoft Word when you delete a specially-formatted paragraph and other paragraphs suddenly change format. WordPerfect retains its last-century interface and overloaded menus, but it's by far the best program for managing long documents, and it includes security features like redaction that Word still doesn't offer. It isn't for everyone, but plenty of legal and government offices rightly refuse to settle for anything else.
Mac Users If you need a desktop suite, your best fully-functional suite is still the disappointing Microsoft Office for Mac 2008. If you don't need quite so much office power, you'd probably be far happier with iWork '09—at least until Microsoft Office for Mac 2010 is released sometime later this year.
To read the full texts of all our office suite reviews, click through the links below. Make sure to tell us which office suite you prefer (and why) in the comments section.

Corel WordPerfect Office X5 Standard Edition
$249 (street)

For WordPerfect's many government and legal clients, WordPerfect Office X5 is the best upgrade in years; but for home and SOHO users, it's not an essential upgrade from previous versions.

Google Docs/Google Apps
Google Docs: Free/Google Apps: $50 per year per user

Google Docs is good enough for uncomplicated documents and worksheets, especially when a group of people need to make changes in a document, but not so much for serious work. It also has the built-in security and reliability risks of all cloud-based services.

iWork '09
$79 (direct)

Apple's productivity suite isn't yet a replacement for Microsoft Office for the Mac, but iWork '09 offers a terrific set of programs for light word processing and medium-to-heavy spreadsheet use. And the stellar Keynote presentation app leaves the competition in the dust.

Microsoft Office 2007
$399 (street, for Professional)

Office is like the weather—you can't get away from it—but the 2007 version combines power, ease of use, and visual clarity in ways that leave earlier versions far behind. If money's you're happy with Office 2007, you might want to stick with it, unless you truly need one of the new features in Office 2010.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac
$399 (list)

A disappointing upgrade, with almost no must-have improvements. Stick with Office 2004 unless you absolutely need some feature of the new version.

Microsoft Office 2010
$499 (direct, for the full Professional Version)

Office 2010 is a dazzlingly attractive upgrade, but probably essential only for enterprise customers who need the new collaboration features.
Free is the best, cheapest desktop alternative to Microsoft Office, but there's no need to switch if you don't require open-source software and you've already paid for a copy of Microsoft's suite.


This smorgasbord of free online services has more functions than any other MS Office alternative, but that doesn't add up to a best-of-breed service.