Dominican Republic-set Retelling of Romeo & Juliet Gets Buzz for intense Mexican Standoff Scene

Independent film ‘Cristo Rey’, shot in 2013 is being selectively screened as it searched for distribution. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in Santo Domingo (in the Dominican Republic) and states that it may be the most intriguing version of the story “in quite a awhile”, referencing predecessors such as West Side Story who had also modernized the story.

A shot from a scene showing a Mexican standoff with a woman holding a machete to a police officers neck as she is surrounded by offers with guns drawn is helping propel buzz about the film.

The Shakespearian update is set among the tensions between the Hatians who illegally immigrate to the richer side of the island they share with the Dominican Republic.

Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua brings a familiar story of love and prejudice but places it in a unique and compelling setting. In Cristo Rey, a shantytown in Santo Domingo that the movie is named for, drug lord El Bacá (Leonardo Vasquez) and Colonel Montilla (Jalsen Santana), a corrupt police chief, reign supreme from opposite sides of the law. They contend with each other while squeezing the impoverished inhabitants of Cristo Rey. Montilla’s hunt for El Bacá plays an important role in the plot.

A racial divide plays out in the movie, with lighter-skinned Dominicans castigating the darker Haitians.

It’s within this fray that Janvier and Jocelyn, who is El Bacá’s younger sister, spark an unlikely romance. Pressured into El Bacá’s service after his mother is deported to a post-apocalyptic-looking Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Janvier looks for a way to solve his problems and preserve his newfound love.

“Cristo Rey” moves along with a developed plot and passable performances by its leads, with a strong supporting cast, but falls short in some regards. Important tensions between the characters, including a rivalry between Janvier and his brother, as well as the love between Janvier and Jocelyn, aren’t given the space and attention they need to carry the emotions they try to convey.

Celebrities and their Stunt Doubles

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie & Stuntwoman Eunice Huthart

Angelina Jolie & Stuntwoman Eunice Huthart

Charlize Theron & Stuntwoman Alicia Vela-Bailey

Charlize Theron & Stuntwoman Alicia Vela-Bailey

Rob Pattinson & Stunt Double

Rob Pattinson & Stunt Double

Kate Beckinsale & Stuntwoman

Kate Beckinsale & Stuntwoman

Carrie Fisher & Stuntwoman Tracey Eddon

Carrie Fisher & Stuntwoman Tracey Eddon

Cameron Diaz & Tom Cruise & their Stuntpeople

Cameron Diaz & Tom Cruise & their Stuntpeople

Natalie Portman & Stunt Double Ballerina Sarah Lane

Natalie Portman & Stunt Double Ballerina Sarah Lane

Tom Cruise & Michael McIntyre

Tom Cruise & Michael McIntyre

Tom Hardy & Stuntman

Tom Hardy & Stuntman

January Jones & Stuntwoman

January Jones & Stuntwoman

Uma Thurman & Zoe Bell

Uma Thurman & Zoe Bell

Daniel Radcliffe, Robbie Coltrane & Stunt Doubles

Daniel Radcliffe, Robbie Coltrane & Stunt Doubles

Regina King & Stuntwoman

Regina King & Stuntwoman



Lucy Lawless & Zoe Bell

Lucy Lawless & Zoe Bell

The danger at the beach you’d never expect

For being such a relaxing place, the beach is wildly dangerous.

You can be attacked by sharks.

You can be swallowed by a tsunami.

You can die of exasperation trying to find a parking spot in Santa Monica.

you need a damn Ph.D to fully understand the parking restrictions

Compared to an inland form of relaxation, the park–the beach is a war zone.

But it’s the unexpected that’s most terrifying.

One man is dead and a dozen are injured after being stricken by lightning…


…on Venice Beach.

also known as “lightning alley”

Of all the pitfalls you can experience of a visit to Venice Beach in the middle of summer, being struck and killed by lightning is somewhere between “being strangled by a man with health insurance and a 401k” and “getting a serious papercut on a moving pallet of ‘JUST SAY NO’” posters.

Of course, everyone panicked and trampled each other, so like the running of the bulls at Pamplona, it may not have been the horn but the crowd that killed him and injured the rest.

note the random passersby taking photos.  welcome to LA

All I know is there were likely some people walking out of the “FREE 420 MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS” clinic who thought they were having the worst trip of their lives. Further damage included a random house in Redondo Beach, a few miles away:

you know, if that happened to my house, i’d just keep it that way.  great story for the grandkids

now the neighbor will have to scorch his nearly-identical BMW 645ci convertible to keep up with the joneses

This was not the only surprise beach-related danger that happened today.

One man is dead and others are injured after being stricken by a crash-landing plane…


…in Venice, Florida.

for a second, this man looks like the most badass pilot since that guy who landed his plane on the hudson

How the heck can someone standing on a beach get hit by a plane? If someone in one of Venice’s canals was hit by a meteorite, the trifecta of tragedy today would be complete.

Does pollution make you smarter?

Pollution is such an easy thing to complain and do absolutely nothing about. Everyone hysterically proclaims its evils, how we simply “MUST” do something about it.

Despite the fact that China pollutes more and pollutes harder than we have since the Chester A. Arthur administration.

Studies have recently come out indicating that pollution not only chokes off our lungs, not only gives us cancer, but evil of evils, makes us dumb:

Researchers for the first time have linked air pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, bolstering evidence that smog may harm the developing brain.

Doesn’t seem to be harming China too much.

Also, that meme that they have to project virtual sunrises in Tiananmen Square so people know what time of day it is?

Yeah…that was an ad for a travel agency.

Anyway, back to the questionable study:

The results are in a study of 249 children of New York City women who wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. They lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to typical kinds of urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust.

Exactly. They found a neighborhood situation where the children would not have scored high on IQ testing (low-income neighborhood, unstable family, decrepit schooling system). Now they’re blaming pollution. But note how they don’t do a comparison with a low pollution low income neighborhood (somewhere around Jackson MS) to see if pollution truly was the problem.

Like I said—doesn’t seem to be harming China too much.

STAHP you’re gonna make him/her/most likely him stupid!

Anyway, science agrees with me. Pollution is actually a sign of…intelligence:

Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs?

They might, if they spew industrial pollution into the atmosphere. New research by theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) shows that we could spot the fingerprints of certain pollutants under ideal conditions. This would offer a new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

The types of pollution they’re looking for are CFCs (the hairspray pollution) which we have since banned, so if any aliens are trying to find us, guess what?

We turned on our nightvision!

People often refer to ETs as ‘little green men,’ but the ETs detectable by this method should not be labeled ‘green’ since they are environmentally unfriendly,” adds Harvard co-author Avi Loeb.

*keels over*

Who is hanging these suicidal teddy bears around LA?

If you live in one of the hipsterer parts of LA (Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Silverlake, Hollywood on a good day) you’ve noticed these mysterious, suicidal? teddy bears hanging from telephone wires.

you said you’d play with me forever

Like the misplaced toys of some enormously tall child or an MLB pitcher’s offspring, Winnie-the-Pooh lookalike teddy bears with pink facemasks (chic!) are popping up through the neighborhood.

But just who would do this…and frankly…why?

Enter Leyla Safai, food truck queen (yup, that pink HeartsChallenger ice cream truck is hers) and half of HeartsRevolution, a JPop-inspired band.

According to the band’s facebook:

This is what you do when you have too much free time on your hands.

Damn hipsters.

It’s unknown what the project is promoting, but probably something viral (doesn’t that mean HIV is a really aggressive form of viral marketing?)

Share & comment if you’ve seen these. Who knows, they may have cameras and can be silently watching and recording us all (ESPECIALLY our bad car singing…)


Google employee: our employees are too smart, ruining Google

When you think of working for Google, you think of sitting on a yoga mats and munching on an organic salad while your coworker cartwheels by to drop off a memo.

they even have foosball!

It seems like heaven while you’re drinking two-day-old coffee at your incredibly uncomfortable gray particleboard desk where your boss just dumped a stack of files that need to be done by the end of the day, right?

According to Avery Pennarun, a Google Fiber engineer, it may not be as great as you think.

Pennarun begins by bragging how smart Google employees are. For any smarter-than-average kid who has had to go through public school, this may seem like a blessing.

But when you get that many smart people in one place—it’s a recipe for disaster.

Pennarun says:

Smart people have a problem, especially (although not only) when you put them in large groups. That problem is an ability to convincingly rationalize nearly anything.

Oddly, the smarter someone is, the more confident they will feel in explaining something well past its ability to be explained. Which is frustrating enough if you’re the parent of a smart child who tries to explain everything, and really frustrating if you have an employee that won’t accept blame.

For example: what happens when a project doesn’t work? Google has their share of failures, from Google+ (social network nobody used) to Google Wave (real-time project editing nobody used).

this gives me anxiety just to look at.  also, it’s in swedish

Pennarun explains:

It’s a setup that makes it very easy to describe all your successes (project not canceled) in terms of your team’s greatness, and all your failures (project canceled) in terms of other people’s capriciousness. End users and profitability, for example, rarely enter into it. This project isn’t supposed to be profitable; we benefit whenever people spend more time online. This project doesn’t need to be profitable; we can use it to get more user data. Users are unhappy, but that’s just because they’re change averse. And so on.

Bottom line: according to Google engineers, it’s your damn fault you’re not using their brilliant new product because their brilliant new product is perfect unlike you, flawed human, who simply won’t CHANGE.

Which is ironic, because the types of employees that work at Google, according to Pennarun, are the ones who have the most trouble with change:

If you know all the constraints and weights – with perfect precision – then you can use logic to find the perfect answer. But when you don’t, which is always, there’s a pretty good chance your logic will lead you very, very far astray.
Most people find this out pretty early on in life, because their logic is imperfect and fails them often. But really, really smart computer geek types may not ever find it out. They start off living in a bubble, they isolate themselves because socializing is unpleasant, and, if they get a good job straight out of school, they may never need to leave that bubble. To such people, it may appear that logic actually works, and that they are themselves logical creatures.

Think about it. You go to school. You quietly rise to the top of the class. You prefer working by yourself to working with others. You only have yourself to blame for failure. But you don’t fail because you’re smart and can generally work through whatever comes your way. You’re in your early 20s, you’re out of college, and you’ve never left your tiny island of solitude where the real world doesn’t exist. And now you work at a place with other people who had that exact same upbringing. Your average user is not one of your coworkers across the “campus” from you. It’s a mom in Omaha looking up recipes. It’s a coach in Sheffield looking up the latest World Cup score. It’s an elderly man in Mexico City trying to see what all this fuss is about online. These people don’t care much about a new social network or real-time work-edit program. And you can’t rationalize them away by saying “well, the old man will die soon, the coach isn’t educated enough to use our product and at least we got the mom’s data when she signed up for a Google+ nobody uses”.

Pennarun calls this a curse:

What I have learned, working here, is that smart, successful people are cursed. The curse is confidence. It’s confidence that comes from a lifetime of success after real success, an objectively great job, working at an objectively great company, making a measurably great salary, building products that get millions of users. You must be smart. In fact, you are smart. You can prove it.

Confidence, and eventually arrogance, eventually collides with reality. And the results aren’t pretty.

Ironically, one of the biggest social problems currently reported at work is lack of confidence, also known as Impostor Syndrome. People with confidence try to help people fix their Impostor Syndrome, under the theory that they are in fact as smart as people say they are, and they just need to accept it.

To a really smart person, everything you do is an extension of yourself. A normal person who makes a stupid choice is more likely to admit, “you know what? I failed. I will try something else”. A smart person is more likely to say that everything they did is right and you’re wrong—because their intelligence is validated only by what they do. They grew up knowing they were smart and being told they were smart. Failure is not an option.

Until they reach a crisis where their intelligence is challenged. Then—their whole world just breaks. “Maybe I’m not as smart as everyone says I am?” they wonder. “Maybe I’m stupid. Maybe I’m a phony, working here around all these smart people, pretending to be smart!” That’s Impostor Syndrome.

Screenshot 2014-07-07 09.12.59

you can tell who this affects just by seeing the second result on Google

Impostor Syndrome, or lack of confidence, may be the key to making companies like Google (lots of smart people unwilling to accept blame or admit fault working in one place):

Impostor Syndrome is that voice inside you saying that not everything is as it seems, and it could all be lost in a moment. The people with the problem are the people who can’t hear that voice.

The 20th century was won on a combination of intelligence, improvisation, and guts. One failed without the other. World War II, for example, was won with brilliant military leadership willing to improvise along with “the Greatest Generation” of hardworking soldiers who gave it all. On the contrary, our smartest minds got us into Vietnam, and while we had valiant soldiers, we were unwilling to improvise or stomach the war at home.

When you look at Google, it’s like one big experiment. At few points in history has that much IQ been concentrated in one place for peaceful ends. The result is a constant struggle for a group of smart people to understand the real world.

Screenshot 2014-07-07 09.14.50

for instance, letters aren’t that big in the real world

Makes that gray office desk with the stack of files you should be working on instead of reading this seem a lot better in comparison.

too smart

Mark Cuban talks about his SnapChat Killer, Cyber Dust

“Every spoken word isn’t recorded. Why should your texts be?”

That’s the motto of Cyber Dust. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban on his new messaging app designed to lessen our digital footprint and protect users privacy in ways SnapChat promised to but falls short.

More Details on the startup that is growing now for less than 1 Million:

Cuban took his idea to app developers and launched Cyber Dust to address his privacy concerns. “The minute we hit send on a text we lose control,” says Cuban. “We are all going to have to learn to shrink our digital footprint.”

Yet Cyber Dust is not the only app for ephemeral messages. Snapchat recently added text to its service, after popularizing “selfie” photographs.

Although Cyber Dust has a way to go before reaching Snapchat’s millions of users, Cuban says that his app will appeal to users who are looking for something truly private. “The minute we turn off the server it’s gone forever,” says Cuban.

Cyber Dust does not store messages on hard drives. Snapchat, on the other hand, recently got in trouble with the FTC, saying it misled the public about the extent of its privacy.

Last fall, Snapchat reportedly turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook (FB). Cuban says he told Snapchat they were “crazy” for turning down Facebook. “There’s a lot of things that you can do in your life that transcend money when you don’t have to worry about money.”

Is Bitcoin Really “Real Money”? and will it last?

Joe Nocera in the New York Times points out that the internet needs a digital currency but that the key trait behind bitcoin could be why it doesn’t fulfill that need:

Whenever I read a story about bitcoin, the virtual currency that has been so much in the news these days, I think about a man named Dee Hock. In the early 1970s, Hock created the credit card system that we now know as Visa. Hock was a man who liked to think grandiose thoughts. When it came to Visa, and credit cards in general, Hock used to describe them not just as a way to get a short-term loan but as a new kind of payment system, an exchange of value that was on par with, and that competed with, cash.

As it turns out — and the bitcoin experience is helping to illustrate this — Hock’s description of credit cards was more than a little hyperbolic. Yes, you could now use a small plastic card instead of cash to buy something, but that card had value because it connected both the buyer and the seller to a fiat currency. People trusted it because they believed in their country’s currency and financial institutions. The exchange of value was never the credit card itself; it was still the dollar, the pound, the yen.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is truly a new form of payment system, unconnected to any currency or any government. Its libertarian proponents in Silicon Valley love that about it; they talk about it as a potential disrupter of traditional financial institutions. It has value not because a government has decreed and backed its value — the classic definition of a fiat currency — but because a community of users has decided to give it value. Its current travails, however, suggest that may also be its inherent flaw: that however much we say we mistrust governments and banks, when it comes to our money, we trust them a lot more than we trust some clever lines of computer code.

Larry Kudlow says Bitcoin is not real money:

Venture capitalist Ezra Galston writes in the Wall Street Journal, “without a regulatory framework, credible payment processors — such as PayPal, Dwolla or Square — cannot service bitcoin exchanges. And because payment processors are vital for converting fiat currencies into virtual deposits, bitcoin operators will be forced to move downstream into the black market.” Mr. Galston concludes by asserting that “the bitcoin community must embrace external regulation to ensure that credible vendors may participate in payment processing.”

Hundreds of bitcoin supporters have tweeted attacks at me for arguing that bitcoin is not real money. But historically, money must be a reliable medium of exchange, and a reliable store of value. Bitcoin meets neither of these definitions.
How can you transact using so-called digital money when prices fluctuate by hundreds of dollars in the space of an hour, or less? You might think you bought something for $500. But by the time the retailer processes payment, the so-called digital-currency price drops to $100.

Both buyers and sellers lose big because bitcoin is not a reliable medium of exchange with a dependable store of value. It is backed by nothing but pure speculation. You can’t even hedge it, because there’s no interest rate. You can barely even get a price quote — not for the value of the product being bought or sold, but for the value of the monetary medium of exchange.

Cars playing leapfrog due to ice and snow in Long Island

This shot from Wantagh Long Island shows some of the damage a little snow can cause:

Man loses hair in background of Obama speech

Or at least that is what the optical illusion of these 2 photographs together would have you believe…