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Scott Hixson

My heroes are predominately literary figures. Some are authors. All are dead. I like to collect antiquated things. My prized possessions in this world are two typewriters and neither one of them has ink. You could say I like useless things, and you’d be right. Between my typewriters, vinyl, library of yellowing pages and English major I am, in essence, utterly useless. In a past life, I was a drop of ink on page 57 of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” I then became a sandy rock and I have not moved since. I often like chain-smoking because I find I would rather worry about killing time than killing myself slowly. I pretend my freckles are constellations. I’ve yet to find any discernible shapes. My teeth are too big for my head. I’m just like everybody else, but stretched out. This has led many to feel like they can criticize, as if skinny people are less conscious about their weight than obese people. I’ve had nicknames ranging from the relatively tame “Tree” to the more absurd, and frankly offensive, “Ethiopian dynamite." I got a brain tattooed on my chest to remind me to think more. It didn’t work. I’ve noticed since I reached manhood that elderly men hit on me more than any other demographic. I can’t quite figure out why. I like ghost stories though I don’t believe in the existence of ghosts. I stole yard gnomes from a neighbor’s garden when I was much younger. I thought I was part of something coined the National Gnome Liberation Front. I’m pretty sure the statute is up for that so I have no qualms. Also, they were mean neighbors. I consider the smell of old books an aphrodisiac, I think it’s the sign of a serious mental condition. I think MDMA is a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and an Oreo on top on a rainy day. Whisox!

Xena body armor: The future of protective equipment

The U.S. military is developing body armor specifically for women to confront the problems of discomfort and weight

Xena body armor: The U.S. military will look to imitate the body armor of Xena: Warrior Princess as it looks to develop greater protection for female soldiers on the battlefield.

Currently, female soldiers must choose between 11 different male body armor sizes.

The impetus for a gender-specific change in the designs of body armor came in 2009, when female soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division voiced their concerns about the gear they used on a daily basis.

“It rubbed on the hips, and the vests were too long in the front, so that when you had female soldiers climbing stairs or climbing up a hill or a tree, or sitting for a long time in a vehicle, that would create pressure points that in some instances could impact blood flow and cause some discomfort,” said Lt. Col. Frank Lozano, who helps to develop body armor for females.

According to a U.S. Army study, ill-fitting body armor is “more than a matter of comfort. It affects combat effectiveness.” The study continues to state that improperly fitting body armor on female soldiers “made it difficult for [them] to properly aim their weapons and enter or exit vehicles.”

“It became clear to us that there was a difference in torso length,” said Lozano, who serves as the product manager for the Army’s soldier protective-equipment program. “The other point that we realized is that there is a significant difference in shoulder width. I read this data, and it seemed so obvious.”

Douglas Graham, a spokesman for the Army’s Office of Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, has said the most important goal in developing body armor for women is to “spread out the energy” when a bullet strikes the armor.

“Some people would like to eventually make plates so it’s like ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ and conforms to the shape” of women soldiers, added Graham.

The Army’s developmental efforts face a series of unique challenges. To provide maximum coverage for female soldiers, the plates must curve to fit the shape of the body; however, the more curves a plate has, the heavier it will be.

“There are some complex curvatures that come into play with female hard-armor plates,” said Graham. “I could make female hard armor, but it would be twice as heavy.”

The army is currently testing eight additional sizes of body armor made specifically for women that include changes such as “bra-shaped darting” in the chest. Women within the 101st Airborne Division that have been testing the hard armor have given it positive early feedback. “They say, ‘I could wear this all day,’ ‘I could run a marathon in this,’ and ‘It feels much lighter,’ even though it really isn’t any lighter,” Lozano added.

Eddie Murphy killed while snowboarding?

Rumors of the comedian’s death are running rampant across Twitter

Eddie Murphy is alive and well, despite what you may read on Twitter today.

Eddie Murphy, 51, is rumored to have been involved in a snowboarding accident while vacationing in Zermatt, Switzerland. According to the rumors, the comedian met his demise after crashing into a tree.

This is not the case, though, as Eddie Murphy is still kicking. In fact, it is the fifth time the comedian has been rumored to have died while snowboarding.

News of Murphy’s death lit up Twitter but it is not to be believed. According to TMZ, the rumor was begun by the rogue website MediaFetcher.com, who is also responsible for the rumors involving the deaths of celebrities such as Bon Jovi, Charlie Sheen and Vanilla Ice.

Despite the rumors, Eddie Murphy remains among the living, according to E! Online.

Eddie Murphy must really love snowboarding as this marks the fifth time he has been reported to have croaked while enjoying the extreme sport. According to E!, the rumors can be traced to the pranksters at Global Associated News, who have falsely reported that Jeff Goldblum fell from a cliff in New Zealand, snowboarding in Switzerland claimed the life of Adam Sandler and Ryan Gosling died after falling fifty feet from a mountain in the Swiss Alps.

Eddie Murphy was rumored to have kicked the bucket while snowboarding on May 29, 2011 by Gossip Cop. Murphy was reportedly in Zermatt, Switzerland when he “lost control of his snowboard and struck a tree at a high rate of speed.” The false report continued to say that the comedian had been air lifted, but had “died instantly from the impact of the crash.”

Eddie Murphy was alleged to be back in Zermatt on October 20, 2011 when it was falsely reported he had once again perished while snowboarding.

It was a busy year for Eddie Murphy as he was again reported to have died in a snowboarding accident on December 6, 2011.

Global Associated News falsely reported Murphy’s death in February of this year, writing: “Actor Eddie Murphy is reported to have died shortly after a snowboard accident earlier today – February 3, 2012. The actor & novice snowboarder was vacationing at the Zermatt ski resort in Zermatt, Switzerland with family and friends. Witnesses indicate that Eddie Murphy lost control of his snowboard and struck a tree at a high rate of speed.”

Kristin Chenoweth knocked unconscious during filming of "The Good Wife"

The award-winning actress was “knocked out cold” after being hit “square in the head” by falling equipment, according to a witness

Kristin Chenoweth was injured Wednesday on the Williamsburg set of the CBS legal drama, The Good Wife as a piece of falling scaffolding struck her in the head, sources told The Post.

Kristin Chenoweth, 43, was knocked unconscious for a brief time and suffered a seizure for about 30 seconds, according to the sources. The pint-sized actress was on set filming her guest appearance for the program when the construction equipment fell about 15 feet and hit her, the sources said.

A FDNY spokesman told The Daily News that paramedics responded to the scene of the incident, North 6th St. and Kent Ave. in Williamsburg, about 5:05 p.m.

The actress was rushed by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital where she was listed in stable condition. A FDNY official told AP that the actress was being treated for “minor injuries.”

A witness to the accident told TMZ that Kristin Chenoweth was struck “square in the head” by the equipment and that she was “knocked out cold.”

“I thought she was dead at first,” the witness said, adding the actress slammed her head onto concrete during her fall.

The witness added that the area near the East River on Kent Avenue and North 6th street is known to be windy.

“That area is a vortex of wind . . . and a big gust of wind blew the lighting off the scaffolding,” the witness continued.

CBS Television Studios released a statement regarding the incident that reads: “This afternoon, while filming a scene for The Good Wife in Brooklyn, a gust of wind blew a lighting silk out of place striking actress Kristin Chenoweth. She received treatment on the scene by the show’s medic until a New York Fire Department emergency medical team arrived and transported her to the hospital. All of us at the studio and the show are thinking about Kristin and wishing her a quick recovery.”

Kristin Chenoweth will have a recurring role during the next season of The Good Wife. Chenoweth starred as the original “Glinda” on Broadway’s Wicked and has recently appeared on ABC’s GCB. Chenoweth won a Tony Award for her role in Broadway’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The actress also earned an Emmy for her work on Pushing Daisies.

Jessica Biel dazzles at the ESPYs

The actress also revealed her fiance, Justin Timberlake, picks out her outfits

Jessica Biel appeared onstage Wednesday with NY Jets quarterback Tim Tebow as the two were the first presenters at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. It wasn’t the pairing of the stars that stole the show but Biel’s stunning looks. The star also revealed that her fiancé, Justin Timberlake, often picks out the outfits for her to wear and that she had no choice in the engagement ring she received.

Jessica Biel, 30, looked glamorous in a white mini-dress that consisted of a fitted top and full skirt that showed off her leggy assets. The star remarked that her favorite part of the outfit was her white Mary Jane pumps with yellow neon heels.

“I know the ?#espys? are about sports and stuff but LOOK AT MY SHOES!!!,” Jessica Biel wrote on Twitter.

Biel and Tebow took the stage arm in arm to present the award for Best Breakthrough Athlete. The award was presented to New York Knicks basketball star Jeremy Lin.

Earlier in the day, Jessica Biel admitted via Twitter that she was worried about presenting with the deeply religious Tebow, 24.

“Dear God, please don’t let me swear in front of @timtebow at the ?#espys? tonight when we present. Love, Jess,” wrote Biel.


Jessica Biel also made headlines for revealing to InStyle magazine that her fiancé has better taste than she does when it comes to outfits, and engagement rings, too.

“When I walk out of the closet after getting dressed in the morning, I’ll go like this [turns palms upwards as if to say, ‘Well?’] And he goes like this [shakes his head no]. Then he picks again. It’s hilarious,” the star told the magazine for its August cover story.

Jessica Biel also revealed that she had no choice in the engagement ring she received from fiancé Justin Timberlake. Timberlake, 31, and Biel have been together on and off for four years. Their most recent breakup was confirmed in March 2011 but they were photographed months later at several Los Angeles parties and events. The pair has been engaged since January.

“I had no say whatsoever [in the ring]. I don’t micromanage,” the actress said. “He is fearless in his choices and has a real eye for design. And I’ll be honest: He has better taste than I do.”

Jessica Biel will next appear in the remake of the 1990 Schwarzenegger film, Total Recall. Biel will star opposite Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, John Cho and Ethan Hawke. The film is set to be released on August 3.

Afghan woman executed: International outrage at Taliban's treatment of women in Afghanistan

A three-minute video obtained by Reuters depicts the execution of a young woman by reported Taliban fighters

An Afghan woman has been executed by the Taliban in a gruesome scene depicted on video. The footage, obtained by Reuters, shows a man who approaches a young woman from behind and open fires with a burst from his Kalashnikov. The execution of the 22-year-old woman is celebrated by witnesses and their chorus of cheers can be heard on the video.

“Allah warns us not to get to close to adultery because it’s the wrong way,” says one man as the shooter approaches the woman from behind. “It is the order of Allah that she be executed.”

The execution of the Afghan woman has sparked an international outcry and has left many disgusted at the Taliban’s treatment of women.

The Age reports that Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bob Barr labeled the execution as “barbaric,” and serves as “another stark reminder of the brutalities that [are] regularly committed under Taliban rule, and of the task ahead of us in advancing the rights of Afghan women and girls.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague tweeted his disgust at the Afghan woman’s execution, writing: “Disgusted by the barbaric public execution of an Afghan woman by Taliban. Shows it’s vital to stand up for women’s rights in #Afghanistan.”

The United States’ top commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, told the Washington Post’s Sayed Salahuddin and Kevin Sieff that the brutality conducted by the Taliban “must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

Gen. Allen added, “Let’s be clear, this wasn’t justice, this was murder and an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty.”

The provincial governor of Parwan Province, Basir Salangi, told Reuters that the video, which was obtained over the weekend, was filmed last week about an hour outside the Afghan capitol of Kabul.

“When I saw this video, I closed my eyes. . . The woman was not guilty; the Taliban are guilty,” said Salangi, who added the woman was sexually involved with two Taliban commanders and that they executed her in order to settle a dispute.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the arrest of those responsible for the execution Monday.

The Taliban has so far denied any involvement in the execution.

Local Afghans have voiced their own outrage at the Afghan woman’s execution. One 42-year-old shopkeeper, Sayed Jalal, in Charikar, the provincial capital of Parwan Province about 25 km (15 miles) south of Shinwari, the site of the execution, voiced his frustration with the Taliban’s acts of violence:

“We will take revenge for this. Their brutality and such inhumane acts are why we hate the Taliban,” Jalal said.

Chumbawamba splits after 30 years

The British band hit it big in the U.S. with its infectious 1997 hit “Tubthumping”

Chumbawamba has split. The anarchistic pop-punk band that has amassed a large international fan base outside of the U.S. but has garnered little acclaim outside of their 1997 hit, Tubthumping, in the U.S. will call it quits after 30 years of rocking.

The British band that many Americans may consider a “one hit wonder” has actually released over 15 albums during their three-decade long career. According to The Guardian, the band released their final album this January and will play a series of concerts this year before splitting for good.

“Thirty years of being snotty, eclectic, funny, contrary and just plain weird. What a privilege, and what a good time we’ve had,” wrote the band.

The band’s website reads:

“That’s it then, it’s the end. . . . With neither a whimper, a bang or a reunion. Thirty years of ideas and melodies, endless meetings and European tours, press releases, singalong choruses and Dada sound poetry, finally at an end. . . . We felt we’d got to a point where what we did as a band – and specifically the writing, recording, touring cycle – wasn’t doing justice to what Chumbawamba set out to do in the first place. . . . Eventually the rest of our lives got in the way and we couldn’t commit the time and enthusiasm that the band demanded.”

Chumbawamba’s hits include the singles Tubthumping, Amnesia, Enough is Enough, Timebomb, Top of the World (Ole, Ole, Ole), and Add Me.

Excedrin recall leaves heads aching six months later

Headache and migraine sufferers are forced to turn to other sources in search of relief

Six months after the drug manufacturer Novartis announced the massive recall of its Excedrin, No-Doz, Bufferin and Gas-X products on Jan. 8, Excedrin Migraine is still off the shelves and that has left many headache and migraine sufferers scrounging for substitutes.

The Excedrin recall was attributed by Novartis to problems at its Nebraska plant that could have led to contamination by other medications made there.

In a statement, Novartis said that it is “working very hard to return products to store shelves.” Novartis plans to begin production of its medications on a “line-by-line, product-by-product basis” to assure no products risk contamination and to begin restocking pharmacy shelves by the end of the year.

No information has been released as to what products the company will begin manufacturing first.

With the unavailability of Excedrin Migraine in the wake of the Excedrin recall, many headache and migraine sufferers are forced to turn away from pharmacies in search of relief. Some have opened up on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter espousing their need for the drug, while others have turned to black market sources such as eBay where one recent auction of 50 tablets sold for $60 and another dispenser of 100 tablets went for $150.

Doctors are warning consumers about purchasing Excedrin Migraine and other recalled drugs from eBay, as there are no guarantees about its safety.

Dr. Charles Flippen, a professor of medicine at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, spoke of the dangers of purchasing such drugs from sources other than pharmacies, “These medications are being passed on by private individuals, and there’s no control over where that particular medication has been or if there’s been tampering.”

Headache and migraine sufferers can get relief without turning to black market sources, according to some medical professionals.

One Excedrin Migraine capsule consists of 250 milligrams of aspirin, 250 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and 65 milligrams of caffeine. According to ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor, Dr. Richard Besser, a generic substitute should work just as well.

“If it has the same amount of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine, the ingredients in Excedrin, it should work just as well,” Dr. Besser said.

The founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute, Dr. Joel Saper, believes simultaneously taking each of the separate ingredients in approximately the same doses as they are found in Excedrin Migraine will produce the same pain-relieving effects.

But doctors caution that taking the ingredients separately will not work for everyone.

“Excedrin has been studied and found to be very effective, and there’s something about that combination that for certain people is very specific for them as far as pain relief,” Dr. Flippen added.

Volvo recall delays cost Swedish car-maker $1.5 million fine

The Swedish car manufacturer has agreed to pay $1.5 million in fines for failing to report seven recalls in a timely manner

Delinquent Volvo recalls have cost the Swedish auto-maker $1.5 million in civil penalties, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Volvo recalls in question involved a total of 32,000 vehicles in 2010 and 2012. According to the NHTSA, Volvo was fined for delaying, or failing to report, seven recalls in a timely manner. Some of the Volvo recalls concerned minor defects including incorrect tire-pressure labels; others included much more serious safety-related defects such as defective airbags and problems with vehicles stalling.

Volvo has denied any wrongdoing but has agreed to pay the $1.5 million fine imposed by the NHTSA. Volvo has stated that it has “taken steps to improve the review process and analysis of potential quality and safety issues with our vehicles.”

Federal law requires manufacturers to act in a “timely” manner, no more than five business days, once it discovers a safety problem that would warrant a recall.

The maximum amount of fines the NHTSA can levy on a manufacturer is $17.35 million.

Toyota was dealt of series of fines relating to its questionable handling of safety issues in 2009 and 2010 stemming from incidents of sticky accelerator pedals. The Japanese manufacturer was forced to temporarily close a number of its assembly lines and recall millions of vehicles as it searched for a solution to the problem.

German auto-manufacturer BMW also earned a $3 million fine from the NHTSA earlier this year stemming from delays in 16 separate recalls involving BMW 5 and 6-Series cars from 2004-2010 and 7-Series models from 2002-2008.

Hope Solo not suspended after positive drug test

The 30-year-old U.S. Olympic goalkeeper tested positive for the banned diuretic, Canrenone

Hope Solo has been warned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after she tested positive for a diuretic contained on the Agency’s prohibited list. The U.S. soccer star has said she had no idea the prescription drug she took for “pre-menstrual purposes” contained the prohibited drug, Canrenone.                         

Hope Solo, 30, released a statement saying: “Once informed of this fact, I immediately cooperated with USADA and shared with them everything they needed to properly conclude that I made an honest mistake, and that the medication did not enhance my performance in any way.”

According to the USADA, a sample of the Olympic goalkeeper’s urine collected June 15 tested positive for Canrenone, a diuretic prohibited by the USADA. Solo’s doctor-prescribed medication was found to contain the drug in therapeutic doses and therefore Hope Solo was not suspended from competing in the London Olympic Games but instead was given a public warning.

“As someone who believes in clean sport, I am glad to have worked with USADA to resolve this matter and I look forward to representing my country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London,” Solo said.

Hope Solo is one of 14 American athletes to receive sanctions under the U.S. Olympic Committee’s anti-doping policies this year. She is one of only three to avoid receiving a suspension, according to the USADA.

The USADA urges athletes to do their research before taking prescription and over-the-counter medications as both may contain banned substances. Athletes can apply for permission from the USADA to take a medication that contains substances included on the prohibited list.  

“As in all cases, we thoroughly investigate the circumstances and always do what is fair and right for clean athletes and the integrity of sport,” Travis Tygart, USADA chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Hope Solo has served as the goalkeeper on the U.S. national soccer team for nearly six years. Hope Solo was goalkeeper for the gold medal winning U.S. women’s soccer team at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Philip Seymour Hoffman to star as Plutarch Heavensbee in second installment of "The Hunger Games"

The 44-year-old actor will take over as the Head Gamemaker in the wildly popular series

Philip Seymour Hoffman will join the cast of the upcoming sequel to The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Lionsgate has confirmed that the Oscar-winning actor will portray Plutarch Heavensbee.

Philip Seymour Hoffman will play the Head Gamemaker in the second of the movies based on the books in Suzanne Collins’ immensely popular Hunger Games trilogy. Catching Fire is set for release on Nov. 22, 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Lionsgate and the filmmakers of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ are pleased to announce that Philip Seymour Hoffman has been cast in the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel Catching Fire,” read a statement from the studio.

Heavensbee will take over as the Head Gamemaker after Seneca Crane, played by Wes Bentley, was forced to kill himself at the end of The Hunger Games. It is Heavensbee’s duty to design The Hunger Games arena for the Quarter Quell, the special event held every 25 years in Panem to commemorate The Hunger Games. For the third Quarter Quell, the 75th Hunger Games, two past winners from each district must return to battle to the death once again in the arena.

The role of Heavensbee is the first major role to be filled for Catching Fire to this point and many are anxiously anticipating who will play the roles of popular characters Johnanna Mason and Finnick Odair. There has been no official word as to who will play either character but rumors have run rampant. Reportedly Suckerpunch’s Jena Malone will play Johanna Mason, according to MTV News, and both Arnie Hammer, who recently appeared in Mirror, Mirror and The Social Network, and Garret Hedlund, from Tron and Troy, are being considered for the role of Finnick Odair. Trevor Donovan, from 90210, and Twilight star Robert Pattinson are both rumored to star as Odair though both have denied those rumors.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is best known for his roles in films such as Moneyball, The Big Lebowski, Doubt, Charlie Wilson’s War, Synecdoche, New York and Capote, which earned him a 2006 Best Actor Academy Award. Recently Philip Seymour Hoffman was awarded a Tony Award nomination for starring opposite Andrew Garfield in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

Francis Lawrence will take over as director for Catching Fire after it was reported that The Hunger Games director Gary Ross dropped out due to time constraints. Lawrence is best known for his 2011 drama Water for Elephants and the 2005 thriller Constantine.