Sunday, February 17, 2008

Karl Rove speech postponed

Because of the weather, University of Iowa officials have rescheduled a visit by Karl Rove, which was supposed to take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union, according to an advisory on UI’s Web site.The lecture by President Bush’s former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser will now happen on Sunday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.
The cancellation is just one of many in the area today because of the weather. A winter storm warning continues until midnight, and officials say travel will be very difficult or impossible as the day progresses. Many church services, activities, area clubs and groups have cancelled their plans for the day.Here are the current road conditions reported by the Iowa Department of Transportation: travel is not advised on Interstate 80 from exits 54 to 254; on Interstate 380 from Interstate 80 to exit 65; on Highway 6 from US 59 to Interstate 80 and from Interstate 80 to 380; on Highway 218 from the Washington County line to Interstates 80 and 380.
The DOT also reports Highway 218 is completely covered with ice and snow from Interstate 380 to US 18 South and is mostly covered from US 61 to the Washington County line; and Interstate 80 is partly covered with ice and snow from exit 254 to the Illinois state line.The National Weather Service says to expect moderate to heavy snow over much of Eastern Iowa this afternoon and evening and increasingly strong winds.Total snowfall could reach five to eight inches northwest of a line from Fairfield to Dubuque, according to the Weather Service.


Fond memories of the Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 turns 50 today, but, unfortunately, I only remember about 20 of them.
I admit that I wasn't an auto racing fan while growing up. In fact, I thought it was the biggest waste of time. I never even watched the Indianapolis 500.
That all changed in 1987 when my editor asked me what I was doing one Saturday night in June. I probably would have told him I was busy if I had known he was going to ask me to cover the American Speed Association race out at the Berlin Raceway in Marne.

Butch Miller of Coopersville won the race, and on my way home, I remember thinking, "That was some really cool stuff."
Daytona has produced some really cool memories over the past two decades, too. Here's my fondest memories of stock car racing's Super Bowl.

5. Harvick's home run (2007)Kevin Harvick edged Mark Martin at the finish, and right behind them came Clint Bowyer, spinning across the stripe on his roof. It provided for one of the most dramatic finishes in Daytona 500 history.
It sure was nice to see longtime car owner Richard Childress back in Victory Lane at Daytona. But you had to feel for Martin, who has yet to win at Daytona.4. Tell the doc he's busy (1997)The late Dale Earnhardt was involved in a horrific wreck on the backstretch late in the race. He was getting into the ambulance so he could be taken back to the infield care center for observation when he asked one of the track's safety officials if the car would start.
The Intimidator jumped out of the ambulance once the engine fired up, and he finished the race in his damaged Goodwrench Chevrolet.
Earnhardt won his first and only Daytona 500 one year later, but I feel that his actions in the 1997 race defined him more than any victory could.

AP PhotoJeff Gordon's gamble paid off in 1999.3. No fear (1999)It was the gutsiest move I've ever seen at Daytona.
Jeff Gordon almost went down to the grass to pass Rusty Wallace for the lead with 11 laps to go, and he nearly ended up in the trunk of Ricky Rudd's lapped car. But Gordon got the lead and held off Earnhardt for the victory.

2. Waltrip's Waltz (1989)To NASCAR's newest fans, Darrell Waltrip probably is just a commentator who tries way too hard to be Terry Bradshaw. But he was one of the best when it came to driving, and he recorded the biggest victory of his career in his 17th Daytona 500 start.
Waltrip won on a gas mileage gamble, then gave us one of Victory Lane's most memorable celebrations when he pulled off the Icky Shuffle and spiked his helmet.

1. The Dale & Dale Show (1993)Upstart Dale Jarrett held off Dale Earnhardt to win his first of three 500s.
His father, Ned Jarrett was in the television booth providing color, and he was given the play-by-play duties for the last lap.
"Gentleman, start your engines" may be the most famous words in all of motorsports.
However, Ned Jarrett's classic line -- "It's the Dale & Dale show, and you know who I'm rooting for" -- has to be in the top five.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Prison gals make a run for it in 'Racing for Time'

Because we're confronted almost daily with stories about people whose life circumstances never gave them a chance, it's no surprise we love stories about people who find one anyhow.
So "Racing for Time" takes us down a familiar path, focusing on a girl named Vanessa who seems destined to wind up as driftwood until she finds something that gives her the confidence to be more.
For Vanessa, played by Yaya DaCosta, that something is running, and the place she finds it is unlikely: a juvenile correction facility in Texas, where she has been sent after her no-'count boyfriend shot somebody and left her with the gun as he fled.
Her prognosis at that point isn't good. If she gets out, she'll probably drift back to the boyfriend and get burned again just because she doesn't see many other options. She spent her early years bouncing around foster homes - no parents anywhere in sight - and dropped out of school in junior high.
Because we know the setup, we also know what she needs: one person who believes in her and will be patient enough to give her a chance, realizing she may stumble along the way.

That turns out to be Cleveland (Mr. Stacks) Stackhouse, a guard at the correctional facility. Played by Charles S. Dutton, who also directed the film, Stacks gets the idea to organize a running team.
The goal, of course, is to provide a focus that will give these girls a chance to build self-esteem.

To its credit, the movie doesn't suggest running is a magic remedy for everyone.
But Vanessa sticks with it, through setbacks and personal struggles that gradually peel away her hard fa├žade to reveal a different and much more promising toughness underneath.
Meanwhile, the running program also helps inmates and officials confront a larger problem inside the institution: the sometimes violent rivalry between black and Latina inmates.
This part of the story is handled in a less nuanced way than the individual stories, suggesting a solution that feels a bit too easy. But the questions it raises are the right ones, and so are the places where it suggests the answers must be found.
For one thing, "Racing for Time" argues that solutions to personal problems are rarely isolated, and that success ultimately involves trusting others. So Vanessa's story is intertwined with those of several other inmates, all from equally challenging backgrounds.
Dutton the director makes their characters feel honest - honest enough that, in a mild departure from most Lifetime movies, this one does not suggest that all stories necessarily end well, at least on the first, second or third try.
But one story does show particular promise: Yaya DaCosta, a striking presence who in the right part could easily light up a larger screen.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

West Broadway explosion confirmed as arson

Vancouver Police and Vancouver Fire Department investigators have now confirmed that this morning's fire and explosion at 686 West Broadway was deliberately set.
VPD and the fire department say the fire was set inside the Taco Del Mar. An accelerant was used and there was a fuel-air explosion. Cleanup is underway, but damage is so extensive it may be some time before business owners can return.

Captain Rob Jones-Cook with Vancouver Fire says the size of the explosion doesn't automatically mean a lot of accelerant was used. Jones-Cook says different types cause different levels of damage. The relatively small size of the restaurant also may have boosted the level of visible destruction. Samples will be analyzed at a lab to see exactly what kind of accelerant was used to start the fire.
Police have not revealed any suspects or motive. Witnesses report seeing a man running from the area around the time of the blast. Investigators will probably be looking at physical evidence all day, but they do have surveillance tape that may help confirm or reject the many unconfirmed stories circulating about the explosion.
The major east-west artery was reopened to traffic just after 11 this morning, but the eastbound right-hand lane is still blocked while the investigation and clean- up continues. Earlier this morning, broken glass and debris were scattered all over the road at Broadway and Heather.

As people headed to work in the area, they described the scene as something that belongs in a warzone. The Starbucks and Taco Del Mar restaurant have been ripped apart, and damage is extensive at several neighbouring businesses.
From the sixth floor of the Holiday Inn, about half a block away, the blast actually shattered the glass of a room while a guest slept in the bed about three feet away. Remarkably, she is just shaken up but okay.

The 2:30 am blast was strong enough to shatter the front windows of the London Drugs across the street. London Drugs has since reopened as well.
One man who was two blocks away when it happened, says he was about to go to sleep when he heard a huge explosion. He says it shook the whole building, so he went out to take a look. He says it's unbelievable.

'American Idol': Top 24 revealed

I'm having some cable problems, so I missed the first few minutes of tonight's American Idol, during which the Top 24 will be revealed from the Top 50.
So the first guy who is out, I don't have his name. Ronald something. I'll try to track it down afterward.
Nina Shaw is also out. Same with Mycale Guyton and Lisa Aukerman.
Carly Smithson, the Irish woman who made it to Hollywood in Season 5 and then had visa issues, is next. Paula goes on and on, and Simon asks her to give Carly the answer, and Carly cries. She is in. As she walks out, Simon takes Paula to task for "torturing that girl."
Rocker David Cook didn't impress Simon with his guitar during Hollywood week, but I still predict he will be in. He is!
Amanda Overmyer, the rock-n-roll nurse, is in.
Brandon Gree, Amanda Hawkins and Buck Smith are out and have to make the long elevator ride back downstairs.
David Archuleta (see a clip in last night's AI entry) is next in the hot seat. Simon says they have to take more time with people under 18, but they think he's worth it, so he is in.
Kristy Lee Cook heads upstairs to the judges. Paula and Randy try to drag it out, but they don't do that good of a job. She is in. (Side note: It's really annoying when Paula tries to drag out the news.)
Brooke White is next and starts bawling just waiting for her chance to see the judges. We see footage of her messing up during her audition in round one of Hollywood week, which we definitely did not see yesterday. But she's in.
Danny Noriega goes crazy with nerves in the elevator. It's a yes.
Jason Castro, Luke Mendard and Alexandrea Lushington all get yesses (though we've seen very little of them otherwise).
Ramiele Malubay (tiny girl, big voice) is in.
Shaun Barrowes is out. Lorena Pinot and Drew Poppelreiter (the farm boy) and Nathasha Block are also out.
Michael Johns (Australian rocker) tells Ryan he feels pretty good, but he starts freaking out on the way to the judges. He is in.
Syesha Mercado lost her voice during Hollywood week, but gave a killer final audition. Paula points out that Y-E-S is in her name, and yes, she is in. Simon taunts Paula for her dumb joke
Robbie Carrico is told that he is through to the Top 24.
Garrett Haley is in, as are Kady Malloy and Chekezie Eze, Amy Davis, Alaina Whitaker and Jason Yeager.
Asia'h Epperson, whose father passed away a day before her initial audition, feels he is with her no matter what. Paula says they have been impressed with her and that she is in the Top 24.
David Hernandez finds out it wasn't unanimous. He is the one who was nervous backstage and then right on track on last night's episode. He is in. Simon says he is the one who said no and that David is going to have to work "a heck of a lot harder" to have a shot at winning.
Josiah Leming calls this "the most important day of my life." He thinks he is in, at least in his gut. He agrees that he was overconfident after his first Hollywood audition (but that didn't stop him from saying he thought he was in). He is not in, which I gathered as soon as they showed the clip of him saying he thought he was in. They say he should keep pursuing music and that he is really talented. He cries when he gets downstairs. He gets hugs from a bunch of the finalists who made it through.
So now there are four people left and two spots.
Colton Berry and Kyle Ensley are the last guys standing. Colton is in, Kyle is out, but Paula says they know he is going to go on to bigger and better things. Simon tells Kyle that he disagrees with this decision and thinks he made more impact and that people would have enjoyed him. I think maybe more of his charisma comes across in person than on screen because while Kyle seems like a nice guy and has a good voice, I don't see him as a music star. I don't have much to say about Colton Berry because I think this is the first time he's gotten much screen time at all.
Cardin McKinney and Joanne Borgella are the last women. Joanne says it's been an amazing experience and a looooong day. Cardin says it's been good but she's emotionally tired. Joanne is in, and Cardin is out, but Paula says she needs to come back. They both cry and hug.
Montage of people who didn't make it and didn't get their names on screen. Oh, well.
And now we're down to 24! And now is the time on Sprockets when they dance. (I'm sorry; I'm not in charge.)
That was a pretty good Hollywood week, all things considered. I didn't even miss the group sings!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Coleman Says He's Secretly Been Married

Gary Coleman is a not-so-newlywed. The former "Diff'rent Strokes" star married 22-year-old Shannon Price in August on a mountaintop in Nevada, but they have been keeping their vows under wraps, the pair told "Inside Edition."
"Nobody was around but the minister, preacher, the videographers, the photographer, the helicopter pilot and us," Coleman, 40, said on Tuesday's broadcast of the program.
Coleman met Price on the set of the 2006 comedy "Church Ball." Price said it was she who proposed to Coleman, but that he surprised her on her birthday by whisking her to a mountaintop in the Valley of Fire State Park to exchange vows.
She said they kept their wedding secret because she wanted to keep being seen as her own person.
"I just want my own identity as well because I don't want to be known as Gary Coleman's wife," she said.
Coleman played down their age differences, saying "I don't have issues with age, I have issues with intelligence ... She's more intelligent than I am and that's what matters to me."
Price, who is 5-foot-7, and Coleman, who is 4-foot-8, also played down their height gap.
"That doesn't really matter to me," she said. "He was 10 feet tall to me because he was sweet and I really liked his personality."

Snow storm hits Long Island and the city

A small snow storm hit Long Island and New York City today, leading to dangerous road conditions. The storm is expected to last until midnight, at which point it will turn into sleet and then rain, the National Weather Service said.A small storm system approached from the southwest, causing light snow across Long Island and parts of the city. Nassau and Suffolk counties are expected to get an inch of snow, while a winter weather advisory has been issued in New York city until midnight. New York City will get between 1 and 2 inches of snow and sleet with a light coating of ice.Both New York City and Long Island can expect up to two inches of rain tomorrow.
Temperatures today will hover in the mid-20s and will rise into the 30s after midnight.Police in Nassau and Suffolk reported several accidents at around 3:30 p.m., but could not conclude that they were all weather related. State police said there were no fatalities, but more than a dozen reported accidents, due to icy conditions on the Northern, Southern, Wantagh and Meadowbrook parkways.Suffolk County police are advising motorists to take extra precautions when they drive home this evening.Since the snow began falling at about 3 p.m., there have been close to 40 to 50 crashes throughout the county, Suffolk police said. Authorities also reported icing on the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway.
"The roads are extremely bad," Capt. Thomas Palmieri, executive officer of Highway Patrol said.He advised motorists to leave ample stopping distance and drive slowly."If you don't have to drive, stay off the roads," he said. "Leave yourself plenty of time if you have to be on the road. Above all, drive slow."


Yoko vs. Lennon

Nobody told her there'd be days like these.
Lennon Murphy—a little-known singer-songwriter who was named after John Lennon—has found herself at odds with Yoko Ono over who has legal rights to the famous moniker.
An attorney for Lennon's widow filed a petition last week with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office seeking to cancel a trademark Murphy took out in 2003 for "Lennon" as the name of her band.
The petition cites the "likelihood of confusion" in the marketplace and "dilution" of the music icon's surname. (Lennon itself is a fairly common throughout Ireland and is derived from the Gaelic word Leannon, which means a "lover" or "sweetheart.")
The 25-year-old Murphy claims that, as a courtesy, she sought and received Ono's blessing to use the name back in 2000, when she signed with Arista Records.

According to Murphy, the label was concerned about the name issue and sent her product manager, Justin Shukat (reportedly the son of Ono attorney Peter Shukat), to approach the prickly 74-year-old artist. Ono supposedly gave her okay, clearing the way for the Tennessee-born Murphy and her eponymous band to release 5:30 Saturday Morning.
Arista dropped Murphy and her mates from the label after that debut album failed to generate big sales. However, Lennon the band continues to perform concerts and release music independently.
According to Muphy, Ono's change of heart came two days before the statute of limitations was due to run out. In her complaint with the Trial and Appeal Board, Ono claims Lennon the band "fraudulently" registered its trademark.
Another attorney for Ono, Dorothy M. Weber, tells E! Online, "We don't comment on anything currently pending, whether in court or otherwise."
In an anguished post on her MySpace blog, Murphy decries the filing and says that her career could be in jeopardy, even though she believes she's in the right.

"I'm not sure what confusion I could be causing, since I don't have the $50,000 to hire a lawyer and fight this. If people were confusing me with John Lennon and accidently [sic] buying my records, I should have more than enough money to live my life and hire a lawyer? I wish that was the case," she writes.
"I haven't worked since October 2007, so I live on just enough to get through the months until I get back on the road. I have no idea what I'm going to do yet in this situation, and I'm stressed, angry and scared."

The performer went on to defend her name: "I never falsified my intentions, I never used John Lennon for my benefit, and I never took one cent out of Yoko's bank account. I play music, my name is Lennon, and the most heartbreaking thing out of this whole situation is the insult it gives to my late mother and who she believed in; on top of demeaning the man that John Lennon was and will always be."
Although Ono has picked a fight with Murphy, the young singer has gained support from a potentially key ally.
Julian Lennon, John's son from his marriage to first wife Cynthia Lennon, himself a singer-songwriter who has had his own run-ins with his stepmom, posted Murphy's message on his MySpace blog and expressed sympathy for her situation.
"This is NOT about me but about a girl named 'Lennon,' " writes the 44-year-old Julian. "She has my full support."
Come on, Yoko, give peace a chance.


Lenny Kravitz claims he's had no sex for three years

SULTRY rock singer Lenny Kravitz is renowned for his womanising ways, so it may come as a surprise to learn that he has been celibate for three years.The American Woman singer - who is renowned for his womanising ways - insists he is staying celibate until he finds the perfect woman. Kravitz, 43, told Maxim magazine: "It's just a promise I made until I get married. Where I'm at in life, the women have got to come with something else, not just the body, but the mind and spirit. It usually trips them out, but that's the way it's going to be. I'm looking at the big picture." Kravitz married The Cosby Show actress Lisa Bonet in 1987, before they divorced in 1993. The pair have a nine-year-old daughter Zoe Isabella Kravitz. Since splitting from Bonet, Kravitz has been romantically linked to Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kylie Minogue, Vanessa Paradis, Natalie Imbruglia and Adriana Lima. Meanwhile, Kravitz has revealed he will tour Canada in March. The Grammy-award winning star is planning to showcase his eighth studio album It Is Time For A Love Revolution when he will perform at venues including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Obama takes Virginia to stretch winning streak over Clinton

Democrat Barack Obama landed an emphatic victory over Hillary Clinton in Virginia Tuesday, in the first of a trio of Washington-area nominating clashes expected to deal new blows to her White House hopes.
In ominous signs for the Clinton campaign, exit polls showed the 46-year-old Illinois senator surging ahead in the former first lady's normal bastion of women, and splitting another of her key powerbases, white voters.
The Republican presidential nominating race in Virginia, between Senator John McCain, the presumptive nominee, and conservative favorite, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, was deemed too close to call.
Virginia had been seen as Clinton's best shot of halting Obama's winning streak, after Obama swept five weekend contests, on a day which also featured contests in neighboring Maryland and Washington, DC, where polls close at 8 pm (0100 GMT).

Clinton is now desperate to win delegate-rich contests in Ohio and Texas on March 4 to reignite her faltering White House quest, after ousting her campaign manager at the weekend amid growing signs of turmoil in her camp.
Television network exit polls said Obama, vying to become the first black president, extended his appeal among young voters and African-Americans, and split the white vote with Clinton in Virginia.
More striking, exit polls showed that he took the vote among women -- the former first lady's core constituency, by 58 percent to 42 percent in the state.
Among those who put a priority on the economy, Clinton's bread and butter issue, Obama still came out on top 60 to 40 percent.
Those who cared most about the Iraq war went 65 to 35 percent for Obama.
Virginia was the biggest prize up for grabs with 83 Democratic delegates up for grabs. Maryland had 70 on offer, and the US capital, a special federal district, 15.
Clinton gave a flurry of television interviews, looking past what was shaping up as a grim night for her, targeting markets in Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, where Obama is favored, which votes on February 19.

Asked by a Cleveland, Ohio, station whether the midwestern state was a make-or-break encounter for her, Clinton argued she had been written off before.
"I've been down this road before, Before I won New Hampshire, nobody thought I would ... this is a close race, it's a long road to the nomination," she said.
The New York senator was due to hold a rally in Texas on Tuesday night as results from the Washington-area primaries rolled in, while Obama was in Wisconsin.
In one symbolic boost, Clinton snapped up the endorsement of former Ohio senator and astronaut John Glenn.
"She has the strength and experience to take on the Republicans in November and win Ohio and the White House," Glenn said.
Voters in the so-called Potomac Primary, for the river that passes through all three of Tuesday's jurisdictions, reveled in their newfound importance in the presidential race after nominating contests across more than half the country left the two senators in a dead heat.
"It feels a little more that something historical is happening this year," said real estate investor Brian Coulter, 48, at a polling place in Bethesda, Maryland.
Andrea Matney, 39, a special event manager who lives in Bethesda added: "This particular election feels particularly meaningful to me."

Obama led Clinton 1,144 to 1,138 in the running delegate count going into Tuesday's contests, according to website A total of 2,025 delegates are needed for the nomination.
The role of some 440 still-undecided super-delegates -- party luminaries who can choose to vote for either candidate -- is now likely to be critical.

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