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Cynthia Martin

"Fatberg: The Movie" coming to a sewer near you

(After it finishes off London)

The award for grossest news story goes to London for “fatberg.” What is “fatberg” you ask? Read on and find out.

A 15-ton blob of fat was removed from a London sewer today. Well the last of it was removed today. Thames Water, a utility company in London, has spent the past three weeks working to remove the fatberg.

The blockage, that was around the size of a bus, was first noticed when residents reported having trouble flushing their toilets.

Oh and the fatberg didn’t just contain food fat. It also contained baby wipes.

This story just goes to show how little we know about the things that keep our cities running. The supervisor from Thames Water, Gordon Hailwood, said that they’ve actually removed greater volumes of fat from London sewers. The only thing special about this fatberg is that it’s one giant fatberg.

This thing was so big that it damaged the sewers. Repairs are scheduled to begin on Monday and should take up to six weeks.

“Homes and businesses need to change their ways, when it comes to fat and wipes, please remember: ‘Bin it – don’t block it,'” Hailwood said.

Good advise for everyone. Because if this is happening in London, you can bet it’s happening in places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and probably every decent sized town across the United Sates. So don’t contribute to your local fatberg by throwing out things that are non-water soluble, like fat and baby wipes.

Chris Brown claims he's quitting music

The rapper has had enough of the bad publicity his actions have garnered

Chris Brown claims he’s quitting music. I didn’t know he was still in the music industry.

The rapper spent a full 45 minutes in jail on Monday for a hit and run. This morning he decided that enough is enough.

“Don’t worry, mainstream America,” Chris Brown tweeted. “After this X album, it’ll probably be my last album.”

That could actually happen. Chris Brown hasn’t been in the spotlight too much since his little “misunderstanding” with then-girlfriend Rihanna. But he hasn’t managed to get away from the stigma of it.

“Being famous is amazing when it’s for your music and talent. I’m tired of being famous for a mistake I made when I was 18. I’m cool and over it!” Brown also tweeted.

It’s fair for him to be frustrated by all the bad publicity that’s been following him around since he assaulted Rihanna in 2009. He was just a kid (not that that’s an excuse. He should have known better.) But it was a one time event, and he doesn’t seem to be repeating his mistake.

Now I am not a fan of Chris Brown in any way. I couldn’t care less if he quits making music.  I just don’t really believe that he’s going to quit.  This little tantrum could give his album momentum and sales. Good sales means he’ll make another album. Bad sales….

We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Chris Brown’s album, X, comes out on August 26.

Peter Capaldi is no Matt Smith

…and he shouldn’t be if he’s going to survive on Doctor Who

The dust is beginning to settle from Peter Capaldi coming out as the 12th Doctor,  and it’s time to take a serious look at what Capaldi’s casting can mean for Doctor Who.

I am a self-proclaimed Whovian. I’ve been watching since the reboot in 2005. And I, like most fans, am a little surprised by Peter Capaldi’s casting. Not because of his age, but because Capaldi is a white male.

Truthfully, I don’t care that he’s white. There was just so much speculation since Mat Smith announced he was leaving the show. Everything seemed to point to a new type of Doctor. Many of the front-runners on the gossip pages were black. And some were even women.

I’m not saying Peter Capaldi is a bad choice for the Doctor. I have no idea what he’s going to be like. And neither do you. So if you’re saying he’s going to suck because he’s too old, you need to stop. He is no where near as old as William Hartnell was when he created one of the most beloved sci-fi characters of all time.

I’m optimistic about Peter Capaldi. If there’s one thing Steven Moffat is good at, it’s picking out Doctors. He picked out Matt Smith. If he had stayed one more season, Smith may have edged out David Tennant for my favorite Doctor.

And for those of you that say that Peter Capaldi doesn’t look like the Doctor, I say he doesn’t look like Matt Smith’s, David Tennant’s, or Christopher Eccleston’s Doctors. Capaldi will be his own Doctor.

That is the brilliance of Doctor Who. Sure, the regeneration may have started out as a way to keep the show going when Hartnell’s health was failing. But now it makes the show completely unique and allows for incredible innovation and creativity. Each episode is new, even if it’s a villain the Doctor has faced a dozen times, because that Doctor will handle them differently than any Doctor before him.

Peter Capaldi will have a lot to live up to. Matt Smith was spectacular as the 11th Doctor. So what Capaldi and the writers have to do is immediately differentiate Capaldi from Smith. He’ll need elements of Smith but he has to be his own person if he’s going to succeed.

But before we meet Capaldi’s Doctor, we have two more episodes to get our fill of Matt Smith. I’m looking forward to the 50th Anniversary episode (David Tennant and Billie Piper!!!!) and the Christmas special, and I will probably end up crying when Smith regenerates.

What do you think about Peter Capaldi being the new Doctor?

Al Roker's new show: "Oversleeping with Al"

A staple of early morning television, Roker sleeps through the taping of his show

Al Roker spent the last 39 waking up for early morning tv shows. But all those early mornings finally caught u with him this morning.

Al Roker hosts his own show, “Wake Up With Al,” at 6 am on NBC. This morning Roker overslept and missed the filming of his own show.

Fortunately, Al Roker is a very good tv personality, so he laughed the whole incident off. He made it in time to co-host the “Today” show and get ribbed by his fellow co-hosts.

Matt Lauer tweeted “Rip Van Roker,” which many fans miss read as “RIP Al Roker.” Roker himself joked that they were going to change the show’s title to “Al, Wake Up.”

Oversleeping isn’t really a big deal. Everyone does at least once in their lives. (Many of us do it every time we have an 8 am class.) So it’s fair to give Al Roker a pass just this once.

He is going to be the butt of jokes for awhile. McDonald’s even used him to promote their McCafe. They tweeted “Stick with us @AlRoker, we’ll help you wake up for the next 39 years #McCafe” with a picture of their coffee.

And Al Roker isn’t the only person on the “Today” show who’s overslept this week. Willie Geist reportedly overslept on Monday. You’ll have to watch tomorrow and see who’ll be the next to oversleep.

Mumford & Sons parodies…Mumford & Sons?

“Hopeless Wanderer” shows off the groups silly side

Mumford & Sons released the music video for “Hopeless Wanderer” on Sunday. If you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out.

Mumford & Sons have gotten a jump on the normal life cycle of a music video. First, the band releases the video. Then someone parodies it. And finally, so many parodies appear that people get bored and move on to the next music video.

The “Hopeless Wander” skipped the initial music video and went straight to the parody. Mumford & Sons gets replaced by some of comedy’s top stars: Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte.

In the beginning, the group actually tries to do justice to the incredible talent that Mumford & Sons is. But as the video goes on, it’s clear that these men are not musicians.

The opening shots look like a normal music video. Hazy fields of golden light. Glare obscured faces. A ridiculous amount of “artistic” touches. A clear folk genre video. The one minute mark is where Mumford & Sons differentiates themselves from the other popular folk bands of today.

The next minute or so progresses normally with Helms on piano, Bateman on banjo, Forte on bass and Sudeikis as lead singer, Marcus Mumford (if you ignore the minor homoerotic glances that pass between the comedians). But then Mumford & Sons take full advantage of these comedians’ talents.

The rest of the video is full of comedic antics. The men share tears, kisses, a tiny boat, and drinks. They round off the video with the required smashing of the instruments.

Mumford & Sons have brought us a music video to remember. And they are definitely a band to keep your eye on. They ought to have great things to come.

H&M offers online shopping for American customers

The retail has been working on a U.S. online shop since 2011

H&M is playing catch-up in the online shopping world. This morning marked the opening of its U.S. online shop.

H&M first announced its intention to make online shopping available in the U.S. back in 2011. And after numerous delays, it’s finally a reality.

It seems a little unusual that it has taken so long for H&M to get its U.S. shop up. It’s operated an online store in Europe for several years.

When H&M first announced its intentions back in 2011, many were very excited about it.  H&M was still new in the minds of many Americans and an online shop would have added to the hype already surrounding the retailer. Since then the hype has died down.

In today’s age of online shopping, retailers need to have an online presence to remain competitive. Some would say that H&M has been dragging its heels, but the truth is that setting up an online shop isn’t all that easy.

H&M’s Head of Investor Relations Nils Vinge said the company underestimated the complexity of operating in the U.S. “We couldn’t just copy and paste the online shops that we operate in Europe…our volumes are so large.”

America also presents challenges by how fickle Americans are. H&M has had to deal with how they planned to handle returns and how to keep up with the ever changing climates, not only physical but also fashionable.

H&M is planning to have a flat rate for shipping of $5.95, but shipping will be free till about mid-August.

Netflix profiles finally arrive

Recommendations will soon be even more customized

Netflix has started offering profiles to its subscribers. I’ve been using Netflix for years and I have to say that it’s about time.

Anyone who has Netflix probably has one, two, twenty people that they share it with. Usually it’s families that share. I share mine with my sister and brother. But because of all that sharing, recommendations tend to get rather bizarre.

Adding Netflix profiles is supposed to help personalize recommendations. Netflix has said that they will offer up to five profiles per account. Each profile will be run like its own account.

I’m very excited about this development. My sister loves to watch anime, but that makes anime a big part of my recommendations. I don’t like anime, so it’s very unhelpful for me. And the recommendations are what makes Netflix great.

Some users may get access to the new Netflix profile feature as early as today. Netflix has said that everyone should have access in the next two weeks.

Netflix profiles will be available on computer, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iOS devices, Blu-ray players and some smart TVs. They’ll be working on making more devices compatable in the next couple months. I’m hoping they’ll get to Wii soon since that’s what we use in my house.

Netflix profiles will allow them to gather more accurate data on what people are watching. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Netflix is tracking what you watch. They openly admit to it. They estimate about 75-80 percent of what people watch is from Netflix recommendations.

“The way we’re using that data is to keep [subscribers] happy,” Yellin said. “And the way to keep [subscribers] happy is to let them watch more stuff.”

33 new ant species to haunt your dreams

Scientists continue to discover new bugs to be afraid of

33 new ant species have been added to my list of bugs I am afraid of. And even the scientist who discovered them finds them scary.

“These new ant species are the stuff of nightmares”, said Jack Longino, a professor of biology at the University of Utah. “Their faces are broad shields, the eyes reduced to tiny points at the edges and the fierce jaws bristling with sharp teeth.”

Luckily for me and all others with entomophobia (fear of bugs), all 33 of these new ant species live in Central America and the Caribbean. (Lucky I guess as long as you don’t live there.)

Most o the new ant species are named after parts of Mayan mythology. The Eurhopalothrix zipacna was named after Zipacna, a crocodile-like demon. To me, that has truly horrifying implications about the ant.

“They look a little like the monster in Alien,” said Longino. “They’re horrifying to look at up close. That’s sort of what makes them fun.”

No, Longino. That does not make them fun.

On a positive note, the new ant species all measure about a twelfth of an inch long. A microscope is needed to see them clearly.

The new ant species were found in small forest patches, all that’s been conserved of the once prominent rain forest of Central America and the Caribbean. Longino references the ants as why conservation efforts are so important.

I hate bugs, but I agree that protecting these new ant species is important for the planet. If we don’t protect them, we could irreparably damage the Earth’s delicate ecosystem.

“They are one of the big elements of ecosystems, like birds and trees. They are major movers of stuff,” Longino said.

Over 15,000 species of ants have been classified so far. Scientists speculate that there could be as many as 100,000. Longino has discovered 131 new ant species.

ELF Bike: Car-bike hybrid gives new meaning to "green"

Organic Transit gains momentum with the first-of-its-kind vehicle

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a Smart car and a bike had babies? Well no need to wonder any more because the answer is the ELF bike.

The ELF is an “Organic Transit Vehicle” and probably the first really feasible alterative to a combustion engine car. It runs on solar power and human-mechanical power.

On just battery power, the ELF runs at about 20 mph. That’s quite a bit slower than other electric vehicles, like the Chevy Volt, but the ELF makes up for it with its price tag.

Chevy Volt: $31,645, plus gas

ELF bike: $5,000, plus shipping

There’s really no comparison. The ELF bike won’t be taking you on cross-country road trips. But for the average city dweller, the ELF could be a great alternative to a car or bike.

The ELF bike takes seven hours to charge by sunlight and one hour from an outlet. So you can commute on just battery power.

Or you can get a workout by pedaling. Unlike a bike, the ELF bike is a great deal safer. It has a shell similar to a car, with headlights, side mirrors and turn signals. And it has a 350 lbs load capacity.

If that’s not enough to excite you, using the ELF bike instead of a car can cut down on CO2 emissions. The ELF can go 1,800 miles on the equivalent of one gallon of gas. Consider the impact on the environment that could have. And the impact on your wallet.

Is the ELF bike the transportation of the future? Maybe. At the very least it’s a good step forward in green transportation.

For more information on the ELF bike, visit Organic Transit’s website at organictransit.com.

Amanda Seyfried has no problem being nude

The actress talks about filming the sex scenes of “Lovelace”

Amanda Seyfried is shedding her “good girl” image with her latest movie “Lovelace.” But she said the movie’s sex scenes didn’t pose a problem for her.

If you haven’t heard about “Lovelace,” the movie is about porn star Linda Lovelace. Amanda Seyfried plays Lovelace, portraying her very troubled life in graphic detail. Obviously, the movie has numerous sex scenes and Seyfried is shown naked in parts. For Seyfried, the nudity wasn’t disconcerting.

“There’s nothing scary about the sex scenes,” Seyfried said. “There’s no consequences. It’s very safe – especially with Peter [Sarsgaard]. I trust him, he’s a good pal and a great co-star.”

But there is one person Amanda Seyfried doesn’t want seeing her naked.

“I don’t want my dad to see my naked body ever,” she told reporters. “I’m going to sit through [the screening] tonight and cover his eyes. It’s really only the nudity. I don’t have problems with him seeing me in violent situations. In sexual situations, it’s a little tough, but it’s more just the nudity. I think anybody can relate to that.”

And Lovelace had to deal with a lot more than just having sex for a living. She was also severely abused by her first husband, Chuck Traynor. Amanda Seyfried said that the violence was the worst part of filming for her.

“It’s not that I was afraid of being hurt or anything like that,” Seyfried said. “I was afraid of where it would take me because we’re depicting something that was really happening to this woman.”

“Lovelace” premiers in theaters Friday, August 9.