Los Angeles, Jan 24 (AP/UNB) — After five decades, Jimmy Page's dragon has re-emerged from its lair.
Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero's last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.
The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents "a pivotal moment for the guitar and music," said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.
The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year's 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his "Excalibur," kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate.
The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck.
"It was given to me with so much affection," Page told The Associated Press in October. "I really wanted to customize the instrument, almost consecrate the instrument."
Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.
He would use the guitar to write and record songs like "Dazed and Confused" for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.
But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page's painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.
The guitar-makers at Fender had thought about remaking the instrument long before Page himself came forward, because of its historic significance and as a way to claim for Fender a piece of Page, who among guitar nerds is associated with rival Gibson guitars.
"A lot of people were surprised to hear all of Led Zeppelin One was recorded on a Telecaster, that's kind of mind-blowing," said Waller, who has been building guitars since high school woodshop and whose creations have included a Telecaster for Keith Richards and a fully functioning Stratocaster made of cardboard.
Page wanted to recreate not just the design, but the form, feel and sound of the original, so Waller went to his house in London and the two took out the old guitar and took it apart piece-by-piece so they could recreate each part for the rebuild.
"Best day at work ever," Waller said.
Page even made a trip to Fender's California plant — the rocker's first time inside a guitar factory — to inspect and help with the finished products.
"All the employees lost their minds," Waller said with a laugh, "to watch somebody like Jimmy Page be totally enthralled with the machinery and act like a kid and be taking pictures."
The 75-year-old Page painted at least a stroke on each of the 50 instruments Waller built.
"He was adamant about applying paint to every one," Waller said.
Fender is also selling assembly-line models of the guitar that are more affordable than the many thousands the handmade ones are likely to bring in.
Waller said he had been a bundle of nerves when the first of the recreations was sent to Page in England, and was deeply relieved when he heard back from Page that it was a dead ringer for his original.
"As soon as he opened the case he knew," Waller said.
Page agreed, telling the AP that "If anything, the colors were just slightly richer."
Dhaka, Jan 18 (UNB) - ‘Through Her Eyes’ is an initiative which showcases works of Bangladeshi women filmmakers. Goethe-Institut, Bangladesh is co-hosting the event. Its Director Kirsten Hackenbroch spoke to UNB about various aspects of the event and how it can benefit Bangladeshi women filmmakers.
What are the objectives of ‘Through Her Eyes’ initiative?
The Goethe-Institut and the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh want to promote Bangladeshi women filmmakers with ‘Through Her Eyes’.
There are a few female filmmakers who have become internationally successful. However, looking at both Bangladesh and the global perspectives, we see that women filmmakers still face disadvantages and find it more difficult to join the international independent film community [but they] continue to produce films.
So, we really want to create a platform where young, aspiring and talented filmmakers from Bangladesh can ask questions to those who have already gone through the international stage, can reflect on their possession, on their career perspectives and enter into discourse with the larger group of society.
You are helping through the process but do they get any financial help from this?
The programme that we are setting up now is not a programme for financial assistance. It’s where young filmmakers have a chance to find a forum or space to discuss, to share their sorrows, and get guidance.
What can evolve from this is that we will understand the needs of the young filmmakers in general and young female filmmakers in particular. [We hope to understand] what kind of support will they need, what sort of seminar, workshop sessions would be helpful, what kind of information is not readily available in Bangladesh. With this series, we hope to understand, and then [we] should be able to react and design the programmes.
Is there any mission statement for Goethe-Institut? Why Goethe-Institut is doing that? Is there any story behind that?
Yes, certainly. First of all, the Goethe-Institut is a cultural and language institute. We are supporting cultural activists’ ideas, especially from the independent artists, around the world to pursue entering into global dialogues and to pursue the work that they can [produce] and support them as much as we can.
We organised a Berlinale spotlight in September 2018, particularly for films. The Berlinale International Film Festival came to Bangladesh with two delegates. We organised the Berlinate spotlight together with DocLab and the IFIB (International Film Initiative of Bangladesh).
Three Bangladeshi films are going to Berlinale. How is their prospective?
It’s a huge success. There have been films from Bangladesh and filmmakers going to Berlinale but not in big numbers. So, I see it as somewhat connected also to the Berlinale spotlight. [It’s a] chance for Bangladeshi filmmakers to engage with people from Berlinale to understand what kind of programme they offer and now it’s a huge success to see that three filmmakers in one year are going to Berlinale.
I am very happy to see that. And I hope that through the work that we are doing, through the programme ‘Through Her Eyes’, [we’ll] have a stable flow of Bangladeshi independent filmmakers going to represent their projects at film festivals such as the Berlinale also the Doc Club, the doc light click Documentary Film Festival in July.
Is there any long-term plan or future plan with the current initiative?
The future plan is to really see from the discussions that we will have at Goethe-Institut what the young filmmakers need in order to continue or for more sustained engagement in the independent film industry. [We’ll come up with] workshops or seminars or we could bring experts from Germany to work with the young filmmakers here in Bangladesh.
What do you expect from this event?
What I expect is that the forum we offer will lead to a greater network among young filmmakers, so that especially those who are new in the profession don’t feel intimidated by, for example, the dealings with international festivals which can be quite a headache.
So, we really hope that this sharing between seniors and juniors, between more experienced and less experienced filmmakers will create an atmosphere of helping each other, of being available for each other, of being mentors to the younger generation.
Obviously, the programme is very much an offer to the film community and I would be very glad if the film community itself takes charge of the programme and really explains or expresses their wishes on how the programme should continue in future, what particular discussion they would need in order to be able to improve or make the work they are doing more sustainable. So, [the expectation is] to understand the talented filmmakers’ perspective.
I think there are brilliant Bangladeshi independent films. It’s more about a chance to have more people to tell their stories and to have more people who are really talented to get the support they need to tell the stories.
I invite everyone to join us on Sunday to the discussion space that we offer and to really make this their own space.
Dhaka, Jan 18 (UNB) - Directing and producing works remain a challenge for women filmmakers in Bangladesh, much like anywhere else.
Although women have been involved in this region’s film industry from the beginning, they still face many challenges on their way to become directors, noted Samia Zaman, the founding president of International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB).
Samia’s IFIB and the Goethe-Institut have come up with an initiative – ‘Through Her Eyes’ – to showcase works of female filmmakers and give people an opportunity to enjoy them.
“At present, we have a very few female filmmakers here,” she said. “But it’s assuring that we got some new female filmmakers who are making films, documentary and short films. Thus, we felt the need to showcase their works.”
Goethe-Institut Bangladesh Director Kirsten Hackenbroch said their goal is to promote Bangladeshi women filmmakers. “It’s where young filmmakers have a chance to find a forum or space to discuss, to share their sorrows, and get guidance,” she said.
Hackenbroch said they want to create a platform where young, aspiring and talented filmmakers from Bangladesh can ask questions to those who have already gone through the international stage, can reflect on their possession, on their career perspectives and enter into discourse with the larger group of society.
“We hope this sharing between seniors and juniors, between more experienced and less experienced filmmakers will create an atmosphere of helping each other, of being available for each other, of being mentors to the younger generation,” she said.
Samia Zaman said Rubaiyat Hossain’s ‘Under Construction’ would be the first film to be screened as part of the ‘Through Her Eyes’ series on Sunday.
“The movie has received international recognition, including at the Dhaka International Film Festival. We hope film enthusiasts will join us to enjoy films at 5pm of third Sunday of every month at the Goethe-Institut,” she said.
Washington, Jan 17 (AP/UNB) — How did the earliest land animals move? Scientists have used a nearly 300-million-year old fossil skeleton and preserved ancient footprints to create a moving robot model of prehistoric life.
Evolutionary biologist John Nyakatura at Humboldt University in Berlin has spent years studying a 290-million-year-old fossil dug up in central Germany's Bromacker quarry in 2000. The four-legged plant-eater lived before the dinosaurs and fascinates scientists "because of its position on the tree of life," said Nyakatura. Researchers believe the creature is a "stem amniote" — an early land-dwelling animal that later evolved into modern mammals, birds and reptiles.
Scientists believe the first amphibious animals emerged on land 350 million years ago and the first amniotes emerged around 310 million years ago.
The fossil, called Orabates pabsti, is a "beautifully preserved and articulated skeleton," said Nyakatura. What's more, scientists have previously identified fossilized footprints left by the 3-foot-long (90 cm) creature.
Nyakatura teamed up with robotics expert Kamilo Melo at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne to develop a model of how the creature moved. Their results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The researchers built a life-size replica of the prehistoric beast — "we carefully modeled each and every bone," said Nyakatura — and then tested the motion in various ways that would lead its gait to match the ancient tracks, ruling out combinations that were not anatomically possible.
They repeated the exercise with a slightly-scaled up robot version , which they called OroBOT. The robot is made of motors connected by 3D-printed plastic and steel parts. The model "helps us to test real-world dynamics, to account for gravity and friction," said Melo. The team also compared their models to living animals, including salamanders and iguanas.
Technology such as robotics, computer modeling and CT scans are transforming paleontology, "giving us ever more compelling reconstructions of the past," said Andrew Farke, curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California, who was not involved in the study.
Based on the robot model, the scientists said they think the creature had more advanced locomotion than previously thought for such an early land animal. (Think more scampering than slithering.)
"It walked with a fairly upright posture," said Melo. "It didn't drag its belly or tail."
University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas R. Holtz, who was not involved in the study, said the research suggests "an upright stance goes further back than we originally thought."
Stuart Sumida, a paleontologist at California State University in San Bernardino and part of the initial team that excavated Orobates fossils, called it "an exciting study." Sumida, who was not involved in the robot project, said the work provided "a much more confident window in to what happened long ago. It isn't a time machine, but Nyakatura and colleagues have given us a tantalizing peek."
New, York, Jan 11 (AP/UNB) - There's no end in sight to the partial federal shutdown and, more distressing to federal workers, no paycheck in sight either.
The shutdown has furloughed 380,000 federal workers and forced an additional 420,000 to work without pay. President Donald Trump has said he is willing to keep the government closed for months or even years to get his demands met. But even if an agreement is reached and the government reopens, it could be some time before anyone earns a fresh paycheck or gets potential back pay.
It's a burden that few American households can bear without strain. Some experts weigh in with tips on how to cope:
Prioritize your bills
Sit down and take a good look at what bills are due, or will be due soon.
Rank your obligations by importance in case you cannot meet them all. Mortgage and utility bills should top the list, followed by credit card payments and any other revolving debt. Consider making just the minimum payments on your credit cards for now. Then look at any other spending to figure out what is essential and what can be trimmed. Limit spending to must-have items only until pay resumes.
Contact the lenders for your mortgage, credit cards, auto loans and any other expenses to discuss your options.
The upside is that companies are aware of the situation and a number of them are offering help.
Chase, for one, has been automatically refunding overdraft or monthly service fees for customers who had direct deposit of federal government paychecks to savings and checking accounts since the shutdown began. It also is offering various hardship options for its auto, credit card and mortgage customers. AT&T said that it will waive late fees, provide extensions and otherwise work with customers on flexible payments for phone, internet and television service as long as the shutdown is in effect.
Several large banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, are also making their hardship programs available to federal workers and others hurt by the shutdown. The terms vary but typically include options for delayed payment, waived fees or loan modifications on various products. Smaller banks are taking steps as well: Oceanfirst Bank in New Jersey said it will grant forbearance or temporarily suspend mortgage payments for up to 90 days for borrowers whose income is affected by the shutdown.
But you must contact the companies to get any sort of assistance.
It's time to find some money to tide you over.
Households without emergency savings should consider other sources of cash, such as selling assets, be it stock or unused items around the house. Other options include withdrawals from a Roth IRA, which are tax and penalty free; borrowing from cash value life insurance policies; or tapping a home equity line of credit.
Consider borrowing from family, if it isn't too fraught with complications.
There are decent opportunities to borrow elsewhere as well. Some banks, such as Navy Federal Credit Union are offering certain customers affected by the shutdown a loan of up to $6,000 at 0 percent APR. Others, such as USAA, are offering low-interest loans to certain impacted workers. The American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents a number of federal government employees, is also offering interest-free loans for its impacted members.
Try and avoid riskier sources for money, such as raiding your retirement stash or college savings for the kids; the long-term negatives might not be worth the short-term relief. Avoid title loans or payday lending as the interest rates are exorbitant. While some use of credit cards is understandable, be aware that those balances may become due before your pay resumes.
You may be able to seek unemployment depending on your job and where you live. Unemployment rules are determined by state law, so whether you qualify is based the state you live in, said Tom Spiggle, founder of Spiggle Law Firm in D.C.
A word of warning: You'd be obligated to repay the state for any benefits you received if you are granted unemployment but later receive back pay.
Get a side hustle
Federal workers can find another paying job as long as there is no ethics rule or statute that prohibits it, Spiggle said. Some positions may prohibit you from doing related work but may allow you to do unrelated work.
The U.S. Coast Guard suggested employees hold garage sales or offer to babysit, walk pets or housesit to earn cash — tips that were perceived by many as tone-deaf and were later removed from a support program website. But sadly, it may come to that for many families. The flexibility and cash found through the gig economy may prove essential for some workers.
Barbara O'Neil, a financial planner and professor at Rutgers University, suggests workers should inventory their skill set and think about ways to convert those into an income stream.
However, time may be an issue for those working without pay. Spiggle said there has been some speculation that the TSA agents who called in sick were doing so to work other jobs to make ends meet. He warns that is an improper use of sick leave and could get a worker disciplined or even fired.
If you find you cannot get by, look into what public assistance is available. Call 211 or visit www.211.org to find out what human services programs are available in your community. Examples include SNAP — the supplemental nutrition assistance program — energy assistance and food pantries. Several food pantries nationwide have made themselves available for those individuals or families at risk of going hungry due to the shutdown.
Talk it out
There is a sense of powerlessness to this situation that is frustrating for workers, said Dennis Nolte, vice president and financial planner at Sea Coast Investment Services in Florida. Workers have "have no earthly idea when they'll be able to go back to work" and are stuck in an odd limbo between employed and unemployed. He recommends talking to friends or relatives or forming a group with co-workers to commiserate about uncertainty to help keep the stress in check.