first_imgNEW YORK | Wouldn’t you love to escape this busy world and just spend some time alone with your thoughts? Maybe not, says a study of volunteers who actually tried it.Some even started giving themselves electric shocks as the minutes ticked by.“I think many of them were trying to shock themselves out of boredom,” said psychologist Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. “It’s just a sign of how difficult (being alone with one’s thoughts) can be for people…. This isn’t something that most people find really enjoyable.”At least, that’s the case for people not trained in techniques like meditation, Wilson and co-authors say in a paper released Thursday by the journal Science.In a series of experiments, college students left their cellphones and other distractions behind and spent six to 15 minutes alone in a sparsely furnished room on campus. They were told to entertain themselves just with their thoughts, or imagine doing one of three pleasant activities like hiking.The experience was not exactly heaven. On a 9-point scale of enjoyment, their average rating was about in the middle. And about half the participants gave it a rating at the half-way mark or below.In nonscientific terms, the overall verdict was: Eh.Doing it at home proved no more enjoyable. When the researchers had 61 people from the community try it at home, about half admitted to cheating by doing things like checking their cell phones, writing or doodling. Their overall results were about the same as with the students.The most startling experiment involved the electric shock. Students first shocked themselves in the ankle and rated how unpleasant that was. They were asked to imagine being given $5 and to specify how much they would pay to avoid another shock, or to receive one. Then they were told that if they wanted to, they could shock themselves again during their time alone, which ran 15 minutes.Of the 55 participants, 42 said they would pay to avoid feeling the shock again. But once they were left alone, even some of these volunteers chose to shock themselves anyway; 12 of 18 men and six of 24 women.Wilson was surprised by the overall results. When the experimenters began the study, “it seemed that it shouldn’t be that hard for people to use (their brains) to entertain themselves,” he said. “All of us have pleasant memories we can call upon, we can construct stories and fantasies.”Maybe the problem is that while pleasant thoughts pop up naturally while we’re doing something like driving or exercising, it’s hard to activate them on demand, he said.“I think it’s an issue of mental control. The mind is built to engage in the world and when you give it nothing to engage it, it’s hard to keep one train of thought going for very long.”In any case, the result is probably not a consequence of modern-day life, Wilson said, because even in medieval and ancient Roman times, there were complaints that people don’t take enough time to contemplate.Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who didn’t participate in the work, said he found the results “surprising and in some ways a disappointing statement about human nature.”Most people have interesting things to think about “so I don’t understand why they find themselves such bad company,” Schooler said.“This is innovative new research, which means it’s the beginning of our understanding of this phenomenon, and not the end,” Schooler said.Online:Journal Science: https://www.sciencemag.orglast_img read more

first_imgNEW YORK | White Castle is offering a vegetarian version of its famous sliders, but they’re not necessarily for dieters.The hamburger chain says it will offer the Veggie Slider for 99 cents each for a limited time at its 400 locations in 12 states.The sliders range between 150 and 270 calories, with customers able to choose from three sauces — honey mustard, ranch and sweet Thai. Regular beef sliders range between 140 and 220 calories, depending on the topping, according to White Castle’s website.The chain, based in Columbus, Ohio, says the sliders are made with Dr. Praeger’s veggie patty and include carrots, zucchini, peas and spinach. A spokesman, Todd Hutchins, said they were tested this past summer in New York and New Jersey.White Castle vice president James Richardson said in a statement the company is committed to “listening to our customers and keeping up with changing tastes” with new menu items.A petition on Change.org asking McDonald’s to offer a veggie burger had more than 107,000 supporters. Chipotle has also been rolling out a “Sofritas” vegan tofu topping for its burritos and bowls, and executives have noted the offering has appeal even for meat eaters.last_img read more

first_imgDavid Foster Wallace will always loom large.To say nothing of his mega-talent for writing or a legacy solidified and amplified by his early death, the man was tall.Jason Segel also has what it takes to match his stature, vertically and in acting brilliance, in “The End of the Tour,” a slice of the end of Wallace’s pre-fame life that finds Rolling Stone scribe David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) plumbing the depths of the soon-to-be-christened literary giant. On one hand, Lipsky knows doing a feature on Wallace will do wonders for his own career. The do-ragged Wallace, working through the mental fatigue of the tour for his acclaimed “Infinite Jest,” acknowledges that try as he might to simply be himself, he cringes at not being able to control his own narrative.It’s one thing to write a widely praised, 1,000-page tome — it’s another to have the trust to let your life be in the hands of a stranger, especially after years of struggling through alcohol, depression and drugs as DFW did.If there’s a sense of the balance of power between interviewer and interviewer, as well as when those tables are briefly turned, it’s in that Lipsky is always the little man. Both he and his girlfriend appear dwarfed by Wallace’s book as they sit on their couch reading it ahead of David’s trip to see Wallace. The guest room in Wallace’s house is filled with stacks of his published work, towering over Lipsky. Even Wallace’s dogs are oversized. Wallace is Texas, Lipsky SoHo.It’s a not-so-subtle way of showing Lipsky’s opinion of Wallace — he puts him in the same pantheon as Fitzgerald and Salinger in lauding the “experiential” qualities of his writing, finding the profound in the mundane.Segel, in addition to capturing the vocal and aesthetic attributes of Wallace, nails the earnestness of the Midwesternisms that defined him — eschewing New York and the literary scene, affinities for junk food and ordering Diet Rite, always saying “pop,” never soda. Or Wallace’s anxious laugher when the subject of his own fame is broached.“It really worries me that what I’m doing right now is like being a whore,” Wallace declares.It remains difficult, as solid as Segel’s performance is, to reconcile how underdeveloped Lipsky is in his own story. It’s partially forgivable since the film acts more of a remembrance of Wallace than a tete-a-tete between these two men or a serious exploration of the power of conversation, à la “Frost/Nixon.”It’s Wallace who brings Lipsky out of his shell — a dynamic that makes you question if Eisenberg’s uneasy performance is truly an act of showing a high-strung interviewer or simply the actor not straying from his nebbishy wheelhouse.Meanwhile, Segel gives free-wheeling yet melancholic monologues as naturally as Wallace can be seen in YouTube videos and old episodes of Charlie Rose, offering prognostications about the growing loneliness of modern society. Watch and compare, and you may agree with me that this may be an Oscar-worthy act.Director James Ponsoldt uses Segel and Eisenberg’s chemistry to carry through screenwriter Donald Margulies’ smart and snappy words to strong effect. Most of the film’s proliferate conversations are as organic as Segel’s own portrait of an artist who knows enough to warn his interviewer that a life of big successes can make even the tall man feel small.“The End of the Tour” is rated R for language. One hour, 46 minutes. Three and a half stars out of five.last_img read more

first_imgIt’s summer time and the living is … not so easy for some.American workers have been taking less and less vacation over the past 15 years. A study by Project: Time Off found that in 2015, more than half of American workers left vacation time unused.If you are among this unlucky group, consider our tips on why you should take a break and how to do it.RECOGNIZE THE PERKS: Vacation is a chance to rest your mind and your body from the demands of work.Doug Walker, manager of HR Services at Insperity said that these psychological and physiological perks can help an employee feel refreshed and more inspired at work and at home.However, he is quick to point out that a stressful vacation, such as one filled with work emails, may end up leaving a worker depleted. He suggests taking a real break that has no work duties or very limited ones, and allows for some tranquility.FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, file photo, visitors are silhouetted by the morning sun as they walk along the beach at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, Calif. American workers have been taking less and less vacation over the past 15 years. A study by Project: Time Off found that in 2015, more than half of American workers left vacation time unused. But experts say that vacation is a chance to rest your mind and your body from the demands of work. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)“It’s in stillness that life’s sediment settles and the murkiness becomes clear,” Walker said.CONSIDER THE HURDLE: The United States is the only developed country that does not require employers to provide vacation time, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. But workers are often entitled to days off that they simply aren’t taking.Project: Time Off found 658 million days went unused last year among those surveyed, the highest ever since the travel industry group began measuring it. Of those, 222 million days are simply lost — they are days cannot be rolled over, paid out or banked for any other benefit.Employees cite a variety of reasons for forgoing vacation time — they worry about returning to a mountain of work or feel no one else can do their job. Some cannot afford it and others simply want to show their complete dedication.But Walker points out there are very few true emergencies at work and that in most cases someone else can handle it or a problem that arises can wait till you return. And taking a break can make you a better worker.“It’s important to remind yourself of that,” Walker said.WALK THE WALK: If you are the boss, the pressure is on you to take a break.By actually taking vacation, you signal to employees that it’s OK to do so, too. Communicate with them about vacation policies and encourage them to take time off as needed.“A company’s success is all about the degree to which your employees are engaged and effective,” Walker said. “If they aren’t engaged because they are burnt out or they aren’t effective because they are burnt out, they need a break.”last_img read more

first_img This May 13, 2016 photo shows apple trees in a Langley, Wash., orchard. Smaller fruit trees are safer and easier to manage than the standard varieties. Choosing the right rootstock will result in miniature orchards, like these apple trees shown here. But even dwarf trees need to be pruned and trained to keep their fruit closer to the ground. (Dean Fosdick via AP) This May 13, 2016 photo shows a Japanese plum tree photographed in a Langley, Wash., orchard. Miniature trees have become a popular way to grow fruit in backyards. Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, like this Japanese plum tree are smaller than the standard varieties but faster to mature and produce. (Dean Fosdick via AP) As for maturing, “With standard trees, you have to wait five to seven years,” Parker said. “It’s two to three years with dwarf or smaller trees.”Choosing the right dwarf rootstock will result in miniature orchards, although you’ll still need to prune to keep trees down to size, Parker said.“There are different dwarfing rootstocks, starting with 8-foot trees and going to 15 feet,” he said. “But you can’t just plant them and let them go. A dwarf tree doesn’t know it’s supposed to stop growing at 8 feet. Dwarf trees are smaller than the standard size, but they still need to be trained and pruned.”Safety is yet another advantage when managing smaller trees. It’s easier to scout them for damage and they require less ladder work — especially when applying chemicals.“Most homeowners don’t have the necessary equipment for spraying over their heads,” said Michael Bush, an extension entomologist with Washington State University’s Yakima County office. “Toxic spray residues can drip down and run all over the applicators. A lot of pesticide labels warn against spraying more than 10 feet (high). They suggest that you hire a professional.”Arborists generally recommend pruning apple trees twice a year: first when they’re dormant, to create better air circulation and prevent diseases, and second in the summer to eliminate suckers, improve light gathering and control growth.“Try to keep limbs from growing straight up and down,” Bush said. “Encourage branches to grow laterally and keep fruiting lower to the ground.”And don’t prune when rain is in the forecast, Bush said. “Blowing rain can introduce fungal and bacterial diseases into the wounds that eventually will spread from tree to tree.”To determine which dwarf varieties work best in your area, Parker suggests reading up and checking with a local Cooperative Extension office “to learn which rootstocks are adapted for the climate.”Test the soil for pH and fertility, choose a sunny, well-drained site and avoid low areas that tend to be frost pockets. Eliminate perennial and noxious weeds before you plant. Apply fertilizer regularly.“Growing apples is not easy,” Parker said. “You can’t grow fruit trees without spraying (chemicals). Spray five to six times to control insects and diseases.”Online:For more about planting and caring for fruit trees, see this University of California Davis fact sheet: https://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/8048.pdfYou can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick@netscape.netcenter_img Miniature trees have become a popular way to grow apples in backyards.Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are smaller than standard varieties, yet faster to mature and produce.“Smaller trees are more efficient for labor. They’re also more efficient for space,” said Michael Parker, an extension horticulture specialist and associate professor at North Carolina A&T State University. “Why put up one tree when you can plant six small trees with lots of apple varieties? If you lose one tree, it’s no big deal. You’ll have other trees producing.”last_img read more

first_img“This year a conversation that keeps on surfacing is what exactly it means to be complicit,” she said. “Complicit has sprung up in conversations about those who speak out against powerful figures in institutions, and those who stay silent.”The first of three major spikes for the word struck March 12. That was the day after “Saturday Night Live” aired a sketch starring Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump in a glittery gold dress peddling a fragrance called “Complicit” because: “She’s beautiful, she’s powerful, she’s complicit.”The bump was followed by another April 5, also related to Ivanka, Solomon said. It was the day after she appeared on “CBS This Morning” and told Gayle King, among other things: “I don’t know what it means to be complicit.”It was unclear at the time whether Ivanka was deflecting or whether the summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business — with a degree in economics — didn’t really know.Another major spike occurred Oct. 24, the day Arizona Republican Jeff Flake announced from the Senate floor that he would not seek re-election, harshly criticizing President Donald Trump and urging other members of the party not to stand silently with the president.“I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit,” Flake said.Solomon noted that neither she nor Dictionary.com can know what sends people to dictionaries or dictionary sites to look up “complicit” or any other word. She and other lexicographers who study look-up behavior believe it’s likely a combination of people who may not know a definition, are digging deeper or are seeking inspiration or emotional reinforcement of some sort.As for “complicit,” she said several other major events contributed to interest in the word. They include the rise of the opioid epidemic and how it came to pass, along with the spread of sexual harassment and assault allegations against an ever-growing list of powerful men, including film mogul Harvey Weinstein.The scandal that started in Hollywood and quickly spread across industries has led to a mountain of questions over who knew what, who might have contributed and what it means to stay silent.While Solomon shared percentage increases for “complicit,” the company would not disclose the number of look-ups, calling that data proprietary.The site chooses its word of the year by heading straight for data first, scouring look-ups by day, month and year to date and how they correspond to noteworthy events, Solomon said. This year, a lot of high-volume trends unsurprisingly corresponded to politics. But the site also looks at lower-volume trends to see what other words resonated. Among them:— INTERSEX: It trended on Dictionary.com in January thanks to model Hanne Gaby Odiele speaking up about being intersex to break taboos. As a noun it means “an individual having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics of both male and female.” Dictionary.com traces its origins back to 1915, as the back formation of “intersexual.”— SHRINKAGE: While the word has been around since 1790, a specific definition tied to a famous 1994 episode of “Seinfeld” led to a word look-up revival in February. That’s when a house in The Hamptons where the episode was filmed went on the market. For the record: The Jason Alexander character George Costanza emerges with “shrinkage” from a pool and said “shrinkage” is noted by Jerry’s girlfriend.— TARNATION: It had a good ride on Dictionary.com in the first few months of the year due to a round of social media fun with the “What in tarnation” meme that had animals and various objects wearing cowboy hats.— HOROLOGIST: As in master clockmaker, like the one featured in the podcast “S-Town,” the highly anticipated “This American Life” follow-up to the popular “Serial” podcast. All seven episodes of murder intrigue were released at once in March. Horologist, used in the radio story, trended around that time.— TOTALITY: There were look-up spikes in August. Thank you, solar eclipse and your narrow band of totality, meaning the strip of land where the sun was completely obscured by the moon. NEW YORK | Russian election influence, the ever-widening sexual harassment scandal, mass shootings and the opioid epidemic helped elevate the word “complicit” as Dictionary.com’s word of the year for 2017.Look-ups of the word increased nearly 300 percent over last year as “complicit” hit just about every hot button from politics to natural disasters, lexicographer Jane Solomon told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s formal announcement of the site’s pick. This undated screen shot provided by Dictionary.com shows the word “complicit,” on the Dictionary.com website. Russian election influence, the ever-widening sexual harassment scandal, mass shootings and the opioid epidemic helped elevate the word “complicit” as Dictionary.com’s word of the year. One of the site’s lexicographers, Jane Solomon, said ahead of Monday’s announcement that lookups of the word increased nearly 300 percent over last year. She said “complicit” hit just about every hot button of the year, from politics to natural disasters. (Dictionary.com via AP)last_img read more

first_imgCollege financial aid offers have been sent out, and the traditional May 1 deadline for high school seniors to pick their schools is fast approaching. That means all across this great land of ours, grandparents are getting hit up by would-be college students desperate to use their elders’ good credit.Federal student loans don’t require co-signers, but private student loans typically do. If the student’s parents don’t have good credit scores or aren’t willing to co-sign, a loving grandparent may be asked to step in.FILE – This April 2017 file photo provided by NerdWallet shows Liz Weston, a columnist for personal finance website NerdWallet.com. (NerdWallet via AP, File)Most of the time, the grandparents should say no. Here’s why:—The loan will show up on a grandparent’s credit report and can have an impact on their ability to borrow money.—Late payments can trash the grandparent’s credit scores and subject them to collection calls, lawsuits and potential wage garnishments or liens on bank accounts.—If the grandparents take over the payments to preserve their good credit, the strain on their finances can endanger their retirement.—Older people with student loans are more likely than those without such debt to say they’ve skipped prescription medicines, doctors’ visits and dental care because they could not afford them, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.Older Americans increasingly are saddled with debt they took on to educate the younger generation. The number of people 60 and older with student loans quadrupled from 700,000 in 2005 to 2.8 million in 2015, according to the CFPB. The average amounts they owe increased from $12,100 to $23,500 in the same period.Although some borrowed for their own or a spouse’s education, in 2014 nearly 3 out of 4 reported borrowing for their descendents, according to the CFPB. Sixty-eight percent said they owed the money for a child’s or a grandchild’s education, while an additional 5 percent owed money for their own or a spouse’s education besides borrowing for kids or grandkids.Many grandparents agree to co-sign a loan because they want to help their grandchildren and may not have the resources to help them pay for college, says Lori Trawinski, a certified financial planner and director of banking and finance for AARP Public Policy Institute. They often don’t understand they’re also legally responsible for the loan.“People are surprised when you tell them that,” Trawinski says. “They didn’t realize they were on the hook.”Even people who understand the risks of co-signing often take a bigger gamble than they realize. Many students who start college drop out. Without degrees, people tend to earn less and have higher unemployment rates, which can make it difficult to repay student debt. That’s why private lenders typically insist on co-signers for student loans.Saying “no” means the grandkids can still go to college, but they’ll have to look for a less expensive education or use federal student loans, which don’t require co-signers.If these warnings are too late, and a grandparent has already co-signed a loan, here are ways to contain potential damage:—MONITOR YOUR CREDIT. Co-signers may not be notified if a payment is late. In fact, they may not be notified until the loan is in default and collections have begun. A dip in your credit scores may be your first indication there’s a problem.—TAKE OVER PAYMENTS. If you can afford to do so, make the payments, then ask the student to reimburse you. That way you can ensure payments are made on time.—ASK TO BE RELEASED. Typically co-signers can be dropped from the loan after a certain number of on-time payments, Trawinski says. The student loan contract should have details about this or you can call the loan servicer.If the loan goes to collections:—EXPORE SETTLEMENT. You may be able to settle private student loan debt for less than the face amount if it’s clear you can’t pay. Be aware that settlement can do further damage to your credit scores.—TALK TO A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY. Student loans are extremely difficult to erase in bankruptcy court, but an attorney familiar with your state’s credit laws can advise you if you’re sued. If you don’t have any assets other than retirement funds, and your only income is from Social Security and pensions, you may be “judgment proof.” That means even if you’re sued, the creditor can’t collect anything.That’s a grim scenario, but you’re better off than people who take out federal student loans. Those typically can’t be settled and the government has extraordinary collection powers, including garnishing Social Security checks. At last count, nearly 114,000 older Americans had to give up a portion of their Social Security to pay overdue federal student loans.This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet . Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com . Twitter: @lizweston.RELATED LINK:NerdWallet: Lending a hand by co-signing a loan can backfire https://nerd.me/bad-reasons-to-cosign-loanlast_img read more

first_imgCOPENHAGEN, Denmark | Norway’s transportation minister and the head of the Scandinavian country’s airport operator took off Monday for a short flight … aboard a Slovenian-made two-seater electric airplane.A view of the first flight by an electric aircraft, at Olso Airport, in Gardermoen, Norway, Monday, June 18, 2018. Norway’s transportation minister and the head of the Scandinavian country’s airport operator took off Monday for a short flight … aboard a small, Slovenian-made two-seater electric airplane. Dag Falk-Petersen, head of Avinor, sat at the commands of the white Pipistrel Alpha Electro G2 while Ketil Solvik-Olsen sat in the passenger seat when they took off from a remote corner of the Oslo airport for a brief journey in the grey skies. (Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix via AP)Dag Falk-Petersen, head of Avinor, sat at the commands of the white Pipistrel Alpha Electro G2 while Ketil Solvik-Olsen sat in the passenger seat. They took off from a remote corner of Oslo Airport for a brief journey in the gray skies.Norway aims to be 100 percent electric by 2040 for all short-haul flights. Avinor, which is responsible for the country’s 44 airports, has bought the electric aircraft used Monday.The operator plans to launch a tender offer to test a commercial route flown with a small electric plane with 19 seats, starting in 2025.last_img read more

first_img 1 of 4 This image released by Universal Pictures shows Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Skyscraper.” (Universal Pictures via AP) NEW YORK | I like to imagine what King Kong, as a popcorn-chomping moviegoer, might make of “Skyscraper,” the latest summer actioner staring Dwayne Johnson. Would he, watching a goliath ascend the exterior of a high-rise with helicopters and klieg lights swirling, woundedly mumble, “Hey, that’s my gig.”But in Rawson Marshall Thurber’s thriller, there is Johnson steadily — and without too much trouble, really — swinging up a 100-story-high crane to then leap across a mammoth chasm and land in an open window on the burning 220-story tower where his wife and twin kids are trapped. This image released by Universal Pictures shows Neve Campbell, left, and Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Skyscraper.” (Kimberley French/Universal Pictures via AP) It goes without saying that if you’re the sort to scoff at a tale’s implausibility, “Skyscraper” may not be the movie you’re looking for. Experts in fields including physics, thermodynamics and screenwriting should proceed cautiously. But then again, few go to a movie starring the Rock and a tall building (they do have great chemistry) for sensible and realistic rescue methods. They go for the dumb fun, the crazy stunts and, above all, the Kong-sized appeal of Johnson, the towering movie star whose on-screen powers easily exceed those of any other action star today, superhero or not.The Hong Kong-set “Skyscraper” is a kind of West-meets-East “Die Hard,” but without the gritty flair of John McTiernan’s film, nor anything like the villainous heights of Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. Johnson’s protagonist, too, is a polished family man, the inverse of Bruce Willis’ unshaven divorcee.Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former military man who, after a haunting hostage encounter, has become a security systems consultant. “I put my sword down,” says Sawyer, who has a prosthetic leg from the incident — a welcome touch in a movie world where disabilities are seldom represented.Along with his former combat surgeon wife (the nice-to-see-again Neve Campbell, whose part exceeds the stereotypical spouse role) and their two kids (McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell), Sawyer is in Hong Kong to ready the security for “The Pearl,” a state-of-the-art skyscraper promoted as three times the size of the Empire State Building. With a swirling turbine midway up and a tennis ball-like sphere at the top, it looks a little like a giant World Cup trophy.The building is the pride of billionaire developer Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), who has filled it with extravagant attractions, like a kind of digital hall-of-mirrors that will inevitably serve as the setting for a “Lady From Shanghai”-like shootout. He presides over it from the penthouse, more than 100 floors above anyone else in the unfinished high rise.The Singaporean star Han is one of the many Asian actors who populate the film, clearly fashioned to appeal as much to Chinese filmgoers as American ones, though their roles are largely peripheral.Sawyer’s family is installed on floor 96, a precarious spot when, just below them, a band of terrorists led by Kores Botha (a ho-hum Roland Moller) sets a floor on fire, blazing a crimson line across the night skyline. (“Skyscraper” is lensed by Robert Elswit and it regularly looks better than you’d expect it to.)Their aim, like countless bandits before them, is to smoke out Zhao. It’s an overly elaborate plan considering they mostly desire the flash drive Zhao carries with him. But what bloodthirsty international mercenary isn’t a big fan of “The Towering Inferno”?That the timing felt right to Thurber and Johnson (who previously teamed for “Central Intelligence”) for a film about a skyscraper under terrorist assault is itself noteworthy. Such a movie would have been unthinkable in the years after Sept. 11, and for some, still is. But this year, for whatever reason, seems to close a chapter in the post-9/11 disaster movie. In April, “Rampage” (also with Johnson) didn’t hesitate to topple urban towers in clouds of dust.“Skyscraper” doesn’t have any such thoughts — or, really, any thoughts, period — in mind. It’s counting on your amnesia to the past, on screen and off, and it will readily supply you with two hours of mindless escape. It does the job better than most, thanks largely to its hulking hero. When Johnson makes his crane leap — the movie’s much-promoted central set piece — throngs surrounding the building ooh and aah. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the Rock.“Skyscraper,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language.” Running time: 102 minutes. Two and half stars out of four.Follow Jake Coyle on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP This image released by Universal Pictures shows Neve Campbell in a scene from “Skyscraper.” (Kimberley French/Universal Pictures via AP) This image released by Universal Pictures shows Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Skyscraper.” (Universal Pictures via AP)last_img read more

first_imgSTOCKBRIDGE, Ga. | A Georgia man involved with a recent documentary exposing abuse allegations against R. Kelly told police the singer’s manager threatened him.FILE – In this June 30, 2013 file photo, R. Kelly performs at the BET Awards in Los Angeles. A Georgia man involved with a recent documentary detailing abuse allegations against R. Kelly told police the singer’s manager threatened him. A Stockbridge police report says Timothy Savage told an officer on Jan. 3 that Don Russell had texted him saying it would be best for him and his family if the documentary didn’t air. Savage said he and his wife were involved with Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP, File)Timothy Savage told an officer on Jan. 3 that Don Russell sent him a text saying it would be best for him and his family if the documentary didn’t air, according to a Stockbridge police report.Savage said he and his wife had taken part in Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series. The series, which aired earlier this month, examined the singer’s history and allegations that he has sexually abused women and girls. He has denied wrongdoing.Russell called Savage while the officer was there and Savage placed the phone on speaker so the officer could listen, the police report says. It continued to say that Russell accused Savage of lying to Lifetime and said that if Savage persisted supporting the series, Russell and Kelly would be forced to release information that would show Savage was a liar and that would destroy him, his reputation, his business and his family.Contact information for Russell could not be immediately found.The report says the case is being forwarded to the criminal investigations division for review.last_img read more