["Comedian Bernie Mac, known for his roles in films like "Guess Who," died Saturday morning at a Chicago hospital at the age of 50, the Chicago Sun-Times said. The actor-comic, who had been hospitalized for pneumonia this month, died of unconfirmed causes at Northwestern Memorial hospital. "It brought tears to my eyes because Bernie Mac has always been my all-time favorite entertainer and comedian. It pains me to have to report that," said Sun-Times columnist Stella Foster."]
2."World Inaction": Anne Applebaum reports at Slate on Russia's invasion of Georgia.
["For the best possible illustration of why Islamic terrorism may one day be considered the least of our problems, look no further than the BBC's split-screen coverage of Friday's Olympics opening ceremony. On one side, fireworks sparkled, and thousands of exotically dressed Chinese dancers bent their bodies into the shape of doves, the cosmos, and so on. On the other side, gray Russian tanks were shown rolling into South Ossetia, a rebel province of Georgia. The effect was striking: Two of the world's rising powers were strutting their stuff."]
3."The Dying Art": Michael Joshua Rowin (Philip Roth fan extraordinaire) reviews Elegy.
["Philip Roth is a generation older than the baby boomers, but it's significant that David Kepesh, the protagonist and confessor of The Dying Animal—the 2001 novel that is now the fourth Roth work to be adapted for the screen, under the gentler title Elegy—states that the sexual revolution of the 60s has been a central influence in his life, and that it encouraged him to leave his wife and family for his true desire: free love, i.e., no-frills fucking. Spanish director Isabel Coixet and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer (who previously penned the film version of Roth's The Human Stain) emphasize Kepesh's boomer credentials to an even greater degree than their source material's author, beginning Elegy with an interview of Kepesh by Charlie Rose. Kepesh, a college literature professor and radio show host, is on to promote his latest book, a study of how America's roots are not solely puritanical, that an early colony—a sort of bizarro Plymouth—reveled in paganism and debauchery before being quashed by repressive traditionalists. This colony offers a model of sexual "freedom" that serves Kepesh well during his generation's brief Summer of Love and beyond, but it's fitting that Rose equates its founder to Hugh Hefner. Behind the veneer of freedom lies immature, self-satisfied emotional isolation, and that's where the sexually arrested Kepesh resides."]
["Scientists have created two new types of materials that can bend light the wrong way, creating the first step toward an invisibility cloaking device. One approach uses a type of fishnet of metal layers to reverse the direction of light, while another uses tiny silver wires, both at the nanoscale level. Both are so-called metamaterials—artificially engineered structures that have properties not seen in nature, such as negative refractive index. The two teams were working separately under the direction of Xiang Zhang of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley with U.S. government funding. One team reported its findings in the journal Science and the other in the journal Nature. Each new material works to reverse light in limited wavelengths, so no one will be using them to hide buildings from satellites, said Jason Valentine, who worked on one of the projects."]
5.House contributor N.P. Thompson reviewsIn Search of a Midnight Kiss and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
["So, to resume, on the heels of that film, I allowed myself high hopes for the deliciously titled Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The upward lilt of those repeated vowel sounds, buttressed by rapidly reoccurring hard-c consonants in the first two words, followed by the throaty, low notes of the city's name after the women's, felt indicative of a frolicsome, festive spirit. Yet what pervades Allen's first film to be shot in Spain is a spirit of churlishness. It isn't an ode to the death of romance so much as it is a peevish lockdown, a wholesale annihilation of the romantic impulse. Despite being well acted—Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz are as extraordinary as they are beautiful, and even Scarlett Johansson, a performer of limited means, through evincing a giddier, more relaxed persona than usual, rises to the occasion that might have been—Vicky Cristina is a candidate for the city dump. The movie showcases the laziest misdirection of Allen's career. The light-filled, summertime Spanish settings seem to have cast a spell over everyone, everyone except Allen, that is, who responds to the pansexual conjuring of his players by slapping voice-over narration over their every move. And not just any innocuous voice-over: If Allen were reading these stage directions himself, his patented Brooklynese whine might have lent this imprisonment device a comic gilt. As is, there's only guilt, and it's all his. Allen inexplicably hired Christopher Evan Welch to over-enunciate, in a booming tone of voice, actions and thoughts that could very well be conveyed simply by letting the viewers watch and letting the actors act. A cut from an interior scene to a shot of a sailboat in a harbor doesn't need to be accompanied by some schmuck telling us, "And so they all went sailing on Mark's boat that afternoon." Vicky Cristina Barcelona is rife with this kind of idiocy: "Lunch was served on the terrace," or "During the course of conversation, an awkward moment occurred." It's as if Allen considers us too stupid to grasp transitions. And while Welch isn't exactly shouting, his relentless intonations stampede like a Mack truck splaying its tire tracks."]
Quote of the Day: Bobcat Goldthwaite
"America's one of the finest countries anyone ever stole."
Image of the Day (click to enlarge): Xander Jace Riniker, one of two babies born on 8/8/08 at 8:08, weighing 8 lbs, 8 oz.
Clip of the Day: Requiem for a Wonka. (Hattip: Ali Arikan)
_____________________________________________________ "Links for the Day": Each morning, the House editors post a series of weblinks that we think will spark discussion. Comments encouraged. Suggestions for links are also welcome. Please send to email@example.com.