3,800-Piece Death Star Diorama Is Coolest Star Wars Lego Ever

Move over Millennium Falcon, because there's a new Best Lego Set Ever in town: the $400 Death Star. Almost 4,000 pieces of absolute nerdgasmic technological terror now available to order, showing 14 scenes that happened in the no-moon during the original trilogy. We have all the official information and three high definition photos that show every angle of this amazing set, with 21 amazing mini-figs, including Han and Luke dressed up as Lego Imperial Stormtroopers.


"That's no moon, it's the Lego Death Star!"

Starship Troopers 3 Japanese Trailer

"I guess Casper Van Dien's gotta eat."
"At the same time - how on earth did they get funding after #2 ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"


Can Dogs Smile?

Diamonds on Demand

Lab-grown gemstones are now practically indistinguishable from mined diamonds. Scientists and engineers see a world of possibilities; jewelers are less enthusiastic.

"This is a virtual diamond mine," says Apollo CEO Bryant Linares when I arrive at the company's secret location, where diamonds are made. "If we were in Africa, we'd have barbed wire, security guards and watch towers. We can't do that in Massachusetts." Apollo's directors worry about theft, corporate spies and their own safety. When Linares was at a diamond conference a few years ago, he says, a man he declines to describe slipped behind him as he was walking out of a hotel meeting room and said someone from a natural diamond company just might put a bullet in his head. "It was a scary moment," Linares recalls.


"Diamonds are not only a girl's best friend, but everyones!"


The Movie Review: 'The Happening'

The Movie Review: 'The Happening' by Christopher Orr
This film is so bad that I feel compelled to make a spoiler-laden list of its most laughably terrible parts rather than review it.
M. Night Shyamalan's latest movie, The Happening, is not merely bad. It is an astonishment, so idiotic in conception and inept in execution that, after seeing it, one almost wonders whether it was real or imagined. It's the kind of movie you want to laugh about with friends, swapping favorite moments of inanity: "Do you remember the part when Mark Wahlberg ... ?" "God, yes. And what about that scene where the wind ... ?"
The problem, of course, is that to have such a conversation, you'd normally have to see the movie, which I believe is an unreasonably high price to pay just to make fun of it. So rather than write a conventional review explaining why you should or shouldn't see The Happening (trust me, you shouldn't), I'm offering an alternative: A dozen and a half of the most mind-bendingly ridiculous elements of the film, which will enable you to marvel at its anti-genius without sacrificing (and I don't use that term lightly) 90 minutes of your life. As this is intended to be an alternative to seeing the actual film it is, of course, overflowing with spoilers.

"Best movie review line EVAR : "Allow me to suggest, contrarily, that if millions of Americans were killed by some tree-originated pathogen that could be released again at any time, the immediate result would not be a renewed enthusiasm for peaceful coexistence, but rather a program of deforestation so aggressive it'd make the Brazilian lumber industry look like tree huggers."

Can’t Find The G-Spot? You’re Not Alone: The Science of Sex

By: Brie Cadman

As much as I am inspired and impressed by modern medical and scientific advancements—nanotechnology, laparoscopic surgery, and genome sequencing to name a few—I’m also a bit shocked by the fact that we haven’t yet mastered some of the basics. Take human anatomy for instance. Yes, we’ve identified the twenty-six bones of the foot and the ventricles of the brain, but when it comes to deciphering the female urogenital tract, scientists are still at the drawing board. In fact, they have the same questions you might—does the G-spot exist, and if so, where the heck is it? Do women really have a prostate, and if so, can they ejaculate?


The Beach Boys - U.S. Singles Collection: The Capitol Years (1962-1965) Review

Posted by Mitch Michaels on 06.16.2008

Kick-off the summer with this impressive 16-CD box set…

My Story
I fell head over heels for the Beach Boys around the time I was in 3rd grade. I can’t remember if it was before or after the “Kokomo” phenomenon, but it wasn’t a passing fad. I still consider their music some of the most vital in the American songbook today. There are quite a few Beach Boys collections out there, but recent years have brought some of the best, including the double platinum 2003 release Sounds Of The Summer and its companion release, 2007’s Warmth Of The Sun. The latest Beach Boys reissue is aimed towards collectors – a collection of CD reiussues of the band’s earliest singles. At 66 songs on 16 CDs, will this be Beach Boys overkill or the perfect beginning to an endless summer?

Their Story
The Beach Boys origins go back to Hawthorne, California, a suburb of Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast. It was there that the Wilson brothers – Carl, Brian and Dennis – were born. With a musically inclined father, the music bug soon bit the boys too (Brian hardest) and they spent a lot of time during their earliest years singing harmonies together, sometimes with cousin Mike Love. The foursome – along with high school friend Al Jardine – began to seriously think of getting a band together in the early 60’s, but, as Brian put it, they had to have an angle. Dennis was an avid surfer, so he suggested that the band could make a song about the sport, which was building in popularity at that time. And so, one fateful weekend while their parents were away, the boys bought instruments and wrote what would be their first single – “Surfin’”.

The Wilsons’ father Murray liked what he heard and began trying to help the guys get into the music business. “Surfin’” was released on Candix Records in 1961. The band had originally chosen the name “The Pendletones”, but when they received the first pressings of “Surfin’”, it was credited to “The Beach Boys”. A young promotional worker thought that the new name better reflected the band’s surfing tie-in. The Beach Boys moniker stuck and “Surfin’” became a surprising moderate hit throughout the nation. A deal with Capitol Records wasn’t far behind.

In early 1962, Al Jardine left the band to go to college and was replaced by David Marks. This line-up recorded the band’s debut album Surfin’ Safari, which was released in late 1962. The title track was the first Capitol single, and it managed to reach #14 on the Pop charts, thus truly launching the “surf rock” fad of the early 60’s. Surfin’ Safari became a Top 40 album and spawned another single, “Ten Little Indians”, which nearly reached the Top 40 as well.

Surfin’ USA appeared in 1963, The Beach Boys’ second LP. Another collection of similarly sunshine-themed songs, Surfin’ USA managed to make it all the way to #2 on the album charts, thanks to the title hit, which reached #3 in the US and became the band’s first Top 40 UK hit. Not long after this album broke, Al Jardine returned, initially replacing Brian Wilson for live shows but then taking over for David Marks. It was also at this time that Brian, already a chief songwriter in the band (along with Love and partner Gary Usher), began to take more control in the studio and attempt to move the Beach Boys past simple surfing songs.

Surfer Girl was released in late 1963, and the title track was another Top 10 hit (#7). DJs began playing the B-Side, a car tune called “Little Deuce Coupe”, and it reached #15. The band rushed out a THIRD album at the end of 1963, and Little Deuce Coupe spawned the hit single “Be True To Your School/In My Room”, which performed similarly. The A-side reached #6 and the B-side, the first real glimpse into Brian Wilson’s genius, hit #23. Little Deuce Coupe became a #4 hit – amazing considering it was released only one month after the Top 10 album Surfer Girl.

With three full albums released in 1963, the band didn’t take a moment to rest. 1964 would yield FOUR, the first of which was Shut Down, Vol. 2, an all-Beach Boys sequel of sorts to a Capitol Records hot-rod compilation that the band had appeared on earlier. That set is notable for the single “Fun, Fun, Fun”, which reached #5 on the charts. Shut Down was meant to solidify The Beach Boys as the biggest band in America. Unfortunately, America got a little more crowded in 1964 – “Beatlemania” and the British Invasion was in full effect. Thanks to this new sound and influx of talent, Shut Down was largely ignored, not even making the Top 10. A longstanding rumor is that Brian Wilson wanted to forget about Shut Down completely when he saw The Beatles perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Instead, Wilson used this perceived competition to fuel his creativity.

All Summer Long was released in the summer of 1964. The album would feature a much more lush arrangement than previous Beach Boys albums. It would also feature session musicians playing instead of the band – who focused solely on vocals and harmonies. The album would mark the band’s first #1 single when “I Get Around” topped the charts. All Summer Long would become the band’s first gold album seven months after its release.

Beach Boys Concert, a live album, followed later that year and also went gold. It also became the band’s first #1 album, remaining on top of the charts for four weeks. Closing out 1964, the band put out The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album, which reached #4 on the charts and scored the #3 hit “The Man With All The Toys”.

Despite the British Invasion, the Beach Boys proved that American were still vital on their home soil as 1964 came to a close. With six Top 10 hits that year and three Top 10 albums, the Beach Boys had a strong hold on the moniker “America’s Band”. Unfortunately, there was a lot of pressure on the band to continue that success, particularly Brian Wilson. By the end of the year, Brian had stopped touring with the band to focus on studio work. He was replaced briefly by Glen Campbell, and then permanently by Bruce Johnston. The Beach Boys Today! was released in 1965, featuring the hit singles “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)”, “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Do You Wanna Dance?”. The album was another gold hit and reached #4 on the charts. It also featured some of Brian Wilson’s steps into experimentation, as its entire second side featured ballads all connected as one suite.

Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) came out in the summer of 1965, led by the band’s second #1 single “Help Me, Rhonda”. After the experimentation of Today!, Brian Wilson stepped back to the formula on Summer Days, possibly because the other Beach Boys just weren’t “getting” what he was doing with the music. The album would go gold and reach #2, proving that, in 1965, audiences were hungry for Beach Boys music no matter what Brian was trying. “California Girls” was also released from this album, and it reached #3 on the charts. Beach Boys Party! arrived at the end of 1965, a covers album which featured acoustic instruments and a loose party atmosphere. “Barbara Ann”, a Regents cover, was released from this album and became a #2 hit in the US and a #3 hit in the UK.

As 1965 ended, both Surfin’ USA and Surfer Girl were certified gold. Around this time, the Beach Boys would release the non-album track “The Little Girl I Once Knew”. Though it only reached #20, it is now seen as a precursor to Brian Wilson’s legendary album, Pet Sounds.

In 2008, Capitol Records decided to reproduce the Beach Boys’ first 15 singles and compile them for a CD box set. The album features faithful reproductions of the original single artwork as well as extensive liner notes and bonus tracks with each single. The time period covered includes many of the band’s best-known singles, cutting off at the point their work became very experimental with “Pet Sounds”. You can check out a “virtual box set” version on the Beach Boys’ official site.

The Album
On June 10, 2008, Capital Records released U.S. Singles Collection – The Capitol Years (1962-1965), a 16-CD box set which compiles The Beach Boys’ first 15 singles for Capitol Records. Several bonus tracks are included, some previously unreleased.


Dennis Wilson - 'Pacific Ocean Blue: Legacy Edition'

The first solo album from any member of the Beach Boys was "Pacific Ocean Blue" from the drummer Dennis Wilson, released in 1977. It reached No. 96 and went out of print by the time of his death in December 1983, becoming over the last decade one of those albums available only through eBay auctions. It makes its U.S. CD debut packaged with Wilson's never released "Bambu," his oft-bootlegged follow-up. Both are testimony to Wilson's compositional skills, which shine consistently, even when the patina of mid-'70s production techniques mask his artistry.

Wilson's solo deal was inked with James William Guercio, who had produced and managed Chicago, built a mammoth recording studio in the mountains of Colorado and signed the Beach Boys as clients as well. The studio, and its attendant label, were named Cairbou; Elton John named his 1974 album for the enclave. At that time, Dennis was the lone Beach Boy arguing that the band continue the development it had experienced with "20/20," "Sunflower" and "Holland"; the others opted to parlay the commercial success of "Endless Summer" into making the band tops in the oldies marketplace.

All of that history is present on "Pacific Ocean Blue" an album that has that distinct Caribou sound despite being recorded in Santa Monica, a lush and layered collection of instruments and voices, which occasionally teeter into artificiality, in addition to an element of grandeur. The grand instrumental "Common," for example, lands somewhere between "A Chorus Line" and Chicago.

Sonically, the album reveals Dennis had only tangential connections to the music of his brother Brian, although it can easily be argued that, in retrospect, "Pacific Ocean Blue" had a significant influence on Brian's solo debut recorded more than a decade later.

Dennis Wilson's music navigates variances within the realm of mid-tempo, both as a composer-performer of pop music that settles in at a meter a pinch more brisk than a ballad, and as a pianist jamming late-night on some funk or blues.

His rough and bluesy voice belies the smooth harmonies he participated in in the background during the 1960s. Wilson mostly plays keyboards and among the great musicians on the sessions were legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson, drummers Hal Blaine and Ricky Fataar and guitarist Earle Mankey, who would go on to become one of L.A. preeminent post-punk producers. Disc closes with Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins singing the words he wrote for for the Dennis Wilson-Gregg Jakobson instrumental "Holy Man."

Among the newly released material are two remarkable pieces: "I Love You" from "Bambu," a suite of themes that ventures from the bluesy to beachfront gospel to light classical piano; and "Only With You," written with Mike Love and one of three bonus tracks for the "Pacific" sessions. "I Love You," at only two minutes, feels like a half-realized sketch, one that could have been fleshed out in the spirit of the Beach Boys' ecology-minded "California Saga." "Only With You" displays greatness of the Beach Boys at their best, the fusing of the intimate and the grand, sounding like friends gathered around a piano and producing glorious music that works in the living room and the concert hall.


Alabama 3 - Woke up This Morning


Mass Transit Effect on Pop Culture (Humour)

How high does the price of gasoline have to get before Batman resorts to the Batbus?

The influence of the car is everywhere in popular culture. But what if we had been forced to rely more on mass transit from the beginning? How might pop culture be different?

Here's some speculation.

The Beach Boys would have sung I Sit Around instead of I Get Around. (I'm getting sore walking up and down the same old strip / I'll be a middle-aged guy with a titanium hip.)

Musicians have long relied on automobiles as metaphors for sex (Baby, you can drive my car). Somehow, you don't get the same level of innuendo with mass transit (Baby, you can join my car pool).

So I'm guessing that lyricists would have relied more on food to get the message across. Prince, who expressed his desires in Little Red Corvette (Baby, you're much too fast) might have tried this instead:

Little crepes suzette

Baby, you're much too hot

Raspberry vinaigrette

Your love's my food for thought

And Wilson Pickett wouldn't have sung Mustang Sally, because Ford would never have built the car.

I imagine that, in a mass-transit world, notions of vehicular sexiness would have had a more European flavor. Perhaps he would have called the song Vespa Vicky.

Tony Soprano would never have lived in New Jersey.

He'd have lived in Brooklyn, and the opening montage would have shown him commuting home by subway after a hard day of whacking rivals.

Likewise, Fred Flintstone and his blue-collar buddies in Bedrock would have foot-powered a bus home.

Instead of driving the fuel-guzzling Gen. Lee (a Dodge Charger), Bo and Luke from The Dukes of Hazzard would have at least downsized to the Cpl. Cooper (a Dodge Dart).

A host of other car-oriented TV shows would have had different titles: My Mother the Streetcar, Knight Walker, Huckleberry (Grey)Hound and Pimp My Hydrogen Fuel Cell.

In a mass-transit world, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper could still have portrayed counterculture heroes, but the movie would have been called Easy Bus Rider.

Hapless Clark Griswold could have gotten into just as much trouble if the movie had been called National Lampoon's Stay-at-Home Vacation. And, instead of going to White Castle, Harold and Kumar might have had a pizza delivered.

I can also envision a movie in which Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd employ a vehicle to transport themselves in time. But in a world less in love with cars, it might have been Amtrak to the Future.

Instead of racing 500 miles to nowhere, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and company would compete to see who could hail a taxi, stuff it with five or six passengers and get to the Daytona airport first. The sport would be called NASCAB.

Come to think of it, the price of getting to the racetrack might soon exceed the cost of getting in.

In that case, we'll all stay home and play a hot new video game: Grand Theft Gasoline.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.