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Nikki Shewmaker

Tiger Woods wins 2013 Players Championship

Tense showdown between Tiger Woods and Segio Garcia leads to victory

Tiger Woods won The Players Championship on Sunday, earning $1.7 million from the total purse, bringing Tiger Woods’ total earnings for the season close to $6 million, as well as claiming his fourth title of the season in the PGA Tour. It was a close game between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, coming down to the final two holes, where Tiger Woods closed out the tournament a champion.

Despite Tiger Woods’ win at The Players Championship, a feat he had not accomplished since 2001, the conquest occurred amid controversy and tension between Tiger Woods and Garcia. According to a complaint from Garcia, Tiger Woods pulled a club from his bag during Garcia’s backswing, causing commotion from the crowd that Garcia contributes to his less-than-stellar performance.

Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have a heated past and this is not the first time Garcia has accused Tiger Woods of a breach of etiquette. Garcia told the press, “At least I’m true to myself … he’s not my favorite guy on tour … he’s not the nicest guy on the tour… we don’t enjoy each other’s company.”

Tiger Woods shot back, telling reporters, “Not surprising he’s complaining about something.” Garcia disagreed, claiming Tiger Woods made him (Garcia) out to be the bad guy, when in fact he was the victim.

Either way, no one can deny Tiger Woods’ climb back to the top of the game after his personal life collapsed amid the biggest adultery scandal and subsequent divorce of the last decade. Tiger Woods also told reporters, “I know a lot of people … thought I was done,” said Woods, who has never won four times this early in a season. “But I’m not.”

The Great Gatsby review

Jazz age excess intoxicating to audiences

Decadent, flashy, glittery, brazen and absolutely alluring — Baz Luhrmann’s adaption of the American classic “The Great Gatsby” is all of those things and more. In the fourth big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel that captures the essence of Jazz Age New York, Luhrman lures the audience in and never lets them off the hook.

Sticking surprisingly close to the original source material, Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is a well-executed visual circus. The mise –en- scene and special effects are intoxicating to viewers and a film this overzealous actually benefits from the use of 3D, bringing the spectacle and rebelliousness of the era to life. “The Great Gatsby” also employs a fantastic mash-up of melody, but the modern music employed has nothing on the actual sounds of the era and audiences will be far more moved by Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” blaring than the deftly reworked Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.”

“The Great Gatsby” hosts an all-star cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who brings an unexpected boyishness and charming uncertainty to the role of titular character Jay Gatsby. Tobey Maguire works well as narrator Nick Carraway and Luhrmann uses a nifty framing device (think Ewan McGregor’s Christian from “Moulin Rouge”) to convey the story. The rest of the cast shines as well, but the breakout performance is undoubtedly Elizabeth Debicki as Carraway’s gal pal and Gatsby confidante, Jordan Baker. She captivates every brief moment she’s on-screen.

It would be hard to go wrong with such radiant source material, but Luhrmann and screenwriter Craig Pearce add touches of whimsy and humor to the script, making larger-than-life characters a little more down- to- earth and therefore, the audience more understanding of their actions.

Fans of the novel and movie fans in general should be pleased, as “The Great Gatsby” is immensely enjoyable. It’s not the greatest movie ever, but it is the greatest “The Great Gatsby.”

Natalie Maines releases solo album

Debut effort receiving rave reviews

Natalie Maines, of Dixie Chicks fame, has branched out by releasing her first solo album. “Mother” is a vast departure from Natalie Maines’ country roots, but the record is receiving rave reviews. The album, produced by Ben Harper, is a combination of covers and original tunes and showcases Natalie Maines’ vocal talent.

Natalie Maines is, of course, best known as the front woman of mega- girl- group, the Dixie Chicks. The band achieved unparalleled success as an all-female country act before an ill-timed statement by Natalie Maines at a concert in London over the Iraq war brought their popularity to a screeching halt. The fallout was swift, with record bans and album burnings, as well as the now-infamous feud with Toby Keith. Despite their follow-up album being critically acclaimed, Natalie Maines’ sentiments didn’t sit well with the country music community and their popularity all but disappeared.

Now, seven years later, the Dixie Chicks are on an indefinite hiatus, and Natalie Maines is trying to rebuild her reputation with her debut solo effort. Even though the differences in genre, and the lack of accompaniment by the other “chicks” might feel a bit foreign to former fans, Natalie Maines’ talent is sure to shine through regardless.

Patrick Schwarzenegger booted from nightclub

Movie Star’s son used fake ID to gain entry

Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of action icon and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, caused a ruckus over the weekend at famed Hollywood hotspot Sayers Club. This is a far cry from the charming young man who tweeted about politics last November.

Apparently trouble started for Patrick Schwarzenegger, 19, on Saturday evening after he used a fake ID to gain entry into the nightclub. After sitting down with his friends, Patrick Schwarzenegger somehow kept bumping into the DJ’s equipment, despite being asked several times to be less rowdy.

Resident Sayers Club DJ, Anthony Valdez, then became the target of the harmless, although irritating bad temper of Patrick Schwarzenegger. The USC student became unruly and began throwing ice, until a cocktail waitress recognized him and alerted security to the fact that he was a minor. Patrick Schwarzenegger was promptly booted from the club, which only increased his rage.

Once outside, Patrick Schwarzenegger could be heard telling friends, “I’m gonna beat the f–k out of the DJ. He kicks everybody out of his table, losing money for the club, losing money for the owner.” 

Patrick Schwarzenegger then made a beeline for an SUV and tried to climb in, but was denied access by the driver. It is unclear whether or not Patrick Schwarzenegger and the vehicle’s driver knew one another, but cameras caught the youth aggressively waving his hand in the driver’s face.

On Monday, Patrick Schwarzenegger released a curt apology via Twitter, stating, “Excuse my language. I apologize.” Publicists for the Schwarzenegger’s had no comment to the situation.

Ja Rule released from federal prison

Rap star under house arrest until late June

Ja Rule, the early-Millennium rap superstar, was released from Ray Brook Federal Prison in New York early this morning, where he was warmly greeted by his wife before being whisked away to finish the remainder of his term under house arrest.

Ja Rule, born Jeffrey Atkins, rose to fame after being signed to the now defunct Murder Inc. record label. Due to his collaborations with music heavyweights R. Kelly, Ashanti and Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule has sold more than 30 million records, as well as being involved in very public feuds with icons Eminem and 50 Cent.

After a myriad of legal issues, in 2010, Ja Rule was sentenced to two years in prison due to 2007 incident when a loaded handgun was found in the rapper’s vehicle. To make matters worse, he was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison due to tax evasion, and both sentences were served concurrently. Immediately after being released for the gun charge, Ja Rule was transferred to the federal detention center, where he remained until this morning.

Ja Rule’s release comes the day after Grammy award winner Lauryn Hill was sentenced to three months in federal prison for tax evasion.

Amanda Bynes' nose job is the reason for all of those "selfies"

Star reveals reason she dislikes former photos

Amanda Bynes’ nose job is the newest development in the former child star’s seemingly mental breakdown.  After “retiring” from acting, the former Nickelodeon teen queen has faced massive legal and media backlash, and her apparent downward spiral has left people questioning whether or not she needs help.

Bynes’ social media fixation has garnered the attention of almost everyone in the country, as she routinely tweets and deletes incoherent babble, risqué photos and threats to members of the press, which is where Amanda Bynes’ nose job comes into play. Bynes, 27, has taken umbrage with the media using photos of the star that she has not approved and has even gone so far as to threaten an endless list of media outlets, bloggers and journalists, all while hurling insults at the unwitting recipients.

However, in one of her infamous Twitter rants, the star shed some light on why she is demanding only certain photos of her be used. “The reason I’ve asked all magazines and blogs to stop using old photos of me is I don’t look like that anymore! I had a nose job to remove skin that was like webbing in between my eyes.”

Despite there having been no discernible webbing on the young starlet’s face, Amanda Bynes’ nose job seems to have momentarily appeased her body dysmorphia. During the same tweeting session, she said, “I wasn’t going to tell anyone, but I look so much prettier in my new photos that I don’t want old photos used anymore. When will they stop? I will never look like that again!”

Bynes has admitted to an eating disorder, but denies that she is psychologically and emotionally unstable, despite all evidence to the contrary. Regardless, at least Amanda Bynes’ nose job has made the troubled ingénue happy.

James Righton marries superstar Keira Knightley

Couple marries in intimate ceremony

James Righton, famed keyboardist and singer of The Klaxons, married actress Keira Knightley in an intimate ceremony over the weekend. The couple, who has been dating for two years, got engaged last May when James Righton proposed, but the notoriously private couple downplayed the wedding planning details when asked by the press.

However, rumors swirled that the couple planned to secretly marry in the South of France, when both James Righton and Knightley touched down in Nice last week. The rumors proved to be true, as a giant white tent was erected for the reception on land that Knightley’s family owns.

The ceremony itself took place at the small town hall in Mazan, just a few miles from the reception site. There were only 10 attendees, and the ceremony lasted a few minutes. The ceremony was so low-key that guests wore flip flops and jeans as they watched James Righton, 29, and Keira Knightley, 29, tie the knot.

When Knightley visited Ellen Degeneres last fall, she told the talk show host that she wasn’t interested in having a huge celebration. “The problem is, ever since [the engagement] happened, everyone keeps going, ‘So when is it going to happen, and what’s the dress like?'” she said. “I’m just not one of those girls that’s had the kind of fantasy wedding thing, so we haven’t planned anything and it’s all quite terrifying.”

 True to form, the couple kept their attire casual as well. James Righton wore a tailored blue suit and Knightley wore a Chanel dress that looked shockingly similar to a frock she sported at an event several years ago.

The ceremony was followed by a more sizeable reception at a nearby estate and James Righton and Knigtley plan on having another reception when they return to their home in London.

Amanda Berry escapes captors after a decade

Amanda Berry and three others find freedom

Amanda Berry has been found alive after being held prisoner for over a decade. Monday was an emotional day for Amanda Berry’s family and friends after being reunited with their lost loved one. The family told reporters that they’d never given up hope of finding Amanda alive, even as they years went on and the chances of seeing Amanda Berry alive became less and less likely.

The tragedy began 10 years ago, on April 21, 2003, as Amanda Berry was returning home from her job at Burger King, but she never reached her destination. Police launched a massive investigation that ended with multiple dead ends. Even so, her family continued to plaster flyers and ribbons in hopes that someone would come forward with answers to Amanda Berry’s whereabouts.

“For me, I look day by day,” Serrano told reporters. “I see a girl walking down the street — it’s an instinct, you just look, you know? Could that be her? Will I ever see her walking by?”

Unlike similar stories, this one has a happy ending. A neighbor, Charles Ramsey, in the Cleveland neighborhood where Amanda and two other women had been held captive, heard screams coming from inside the house. Ramsey saw Amanda Berry, whose captors were not home, desperately trying to escape the house and pleading for someone to call 911. Another neighbor helped Amanda Berry to kick out the screen and escape.

In the emotional call to 911, Berry told a dispatcher, “I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been on the news for the last 10 years.”

Officers immediately responded and helped the two other women , and Amanda Berry’s daughter, 6, that she’d given birth to while being held captive, escape the house. All of the women were found mere blocks from where they had been abducted by three brothers over the course of the last decade. All three men involved in the kidnappings have been arrested, but their identities have not been released.

For now, Amanda Berry and her daughter have been treated at a nearby hospital and are sharing an emotional reunion with her family.

Woman eaten by vultures after fatal fall

Endangered species impossible to control.

Woman eaten by vultures-such a sensationalistic headline sounds too shocking to be true, but unfortunately it was a grisly reality over the weekend. An unnamed hiker, 52, who attempted to take a shortcut from the designated trail she was hiking in the French Pyrenees, fell over 1,000 feet to her death from Pic de Pista near the Spanish border.

Major Didier Pericou of the gendarmerie confirmed that the woman eaten by vultures, whose name has not been released, died due to impact from the fall. However, emergency crews searched for the woman for nearly 45 minutes before realizing that rescue efforts were unsuccessful. Tragically, the woman’s body was eaten by vultures before it could be recovered, and by the time rescue efforts reached her, all that was left were her shoes, clothing and bones.

Griffon vultures have become a dangerous nuisance in France. Due to a ruling that all dead livestock must be burned in order to mitigate spreading Mad Cow disease, the vultures have taken to attacking live animals and supplementing their diet by any available means. Unfortunately, the vultures are an endangered species, and therefore protected. This newest development, in which the victim was eaten by vultures in less than an hour, will certainly fuel the fire of local farmers who claim that the vultures’ endangered status allows the Griffon population to become too big and impossible to control.

Casey Anthony's trial judge speaks out on shocking verdict

Not guilty verdict that shocked the world

Casey Anthony judge Belvin Perry is still in shock over the upsetting verdict that happened nearly two years ago. Casey Anthony notoriously stood trial in the death of daughter Caylee, 2, whose remains were found wrapped in a blanket and disposed of in a trash bag in an area nearby their family home.

Casey Anthony’s judge believed there was enough evidence to convict Anthony of first-degree murder, but her defense attorney created enough reasonable doubt and Casey Anthony was found not guilty.

Comparing defense attorney, Jose Baez, to a likeable salesperson, Perry noted, “The state had better lawyers. But Mr. Baez was very personable. And he came across as someone you would like. It’s like somebody trying to sell a used car. Who are you going to buy it from? The most likable salesperson.”

Casey Anthony’s judge also noted that Anthony had two different personas: a grieving mother in front of the jury, and a manipulative, controlling individual when jurors were not present, even screaming and cursing when offered a plea deal.

The media circus that ensued during the Casey Anthony trial erupted into chaos when the verdict was announced. Judge Belvin even double-checked the jury’s decision in disbelief before announcing it to the courtroom.

Although Judge Belvin stands by the judicial process and the upholding of justice in the Casey Anthony trial, he told reporters, “Well, justice has been served in that the jury has spoken. But justice will be served one day by the Judge of Judges. And she will have to deal with this and live with this the rest of her life.”