‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ a tell-all about Hugh Hefner’s empire by ex-Playboy bunny Holly Madison, has become an instant best-seller
Mark Armao writes: A juicy tell-all memoir by former Playboy bunny Holly Madison has become one of this summer’s surprise best sellers. Ms. Madison joins a growing list of unlikely authors including “Humans of New York” creator Brandon Stantonand YouTube makeup sensation Michelle Phan who have leveraged large social media followings into best-selling books.
“In her book, Ms. Madison writes that her experience at the mansion was a far cry from the glamorous, carefree lifestyle depicted in the show.”
“Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny” is described in the author’s note as the “never-before-told story of the Playboy Mansion and the man that holds the key.” The title debuted at No. 1 on The Wall Street Journal’s latest best-selling books list, which uses data provided by Nielsen BookScan. As of Thursday afternoon, the book was No. 7 on Amazon’s ranking.
“It’s been a really big surprise,” Ms. Madison said. “I thought it would be a sleeper, and that people would read it and tell their friends about it, and that it would be kind of a slow growth. I never expected this kind of attention in the beginning.”
Published by Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, the book’s first announced print run was 100,000 copies. Strong preorder demand led the publishers to go back to press multiple times before the book’s June 23 release, according to publisher Lynn Grady. HarperCollins is owned by NewsCorp., which owns Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Since its release last week, the book has sold more than 23,000 hardcovers, according to Nielsen BookScan.
“She describes Mr. Hefner as a ‘controlling megalomaniac’ who enforced a strict 9 p.m. curfew for his harem of ‘girlfriends’ and forbade them from fraternizing with mansion staffers.”
Ms. Madison’s career richly demonstrates the opportunities available in today’s social-media-fueled, reality-TV star-making machinery. The 35-year-old former model grew up in a small town in Oregon before making her way to Los Angeles to become an actress.
She was working as a waitress at Hooters before becoming a regular at Playboy pool parties, eventually earning the title of Hugh Hefner’s No. 1 girlfriend. Read the rest of this entry »
Robert Nason writes: In Alfred Hitchcock’s films, the lack of information—or the possession of it—can have deadly consequences. The titles are revealing: “Suspicion” (1941), “Notorious” (1946), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934, 1956). In his concise, insightful book on the director, Michael Wood asserts that in Hitchcock’s films there are “only three options: to know too little, to know too much . . . and to know a whole lot that is entirely plausible and completely wrong.”
“Some claim that Hitch was a sadist who took ‘pleasure in seeing beautiful women in harm’s way.’ Mr. Wood argues that Hitchcock worked out his own fears on film: ‘Far from enjoying the torments of these women at risk, he identified with them.'”
Hitchcock was born on Aug. 13, 1899, the son of a greengrocer. Members of this economic class, Mr. Wood says, were suspicious of the posh people above them and the unruly ones below. Hitchcock’s films would abound with upper-class villains and fearful mobs. As a Catholic, Hitchcock was an outsider in Protestant England; he would later be an English outsider in America.
Shy, chubby and intelligent, the young Hitchcock had few friends. He preferred attending sensational London trials—and movies. Instead of fan magazines, Hitch—as he preferred to be called—avidly read technical film journals and landed a job designing movie title cards. As a fledging director of silents, he was influenced by the shadowy lighting and dynamic camera movements of German Expressionist cinema. He would combine their beauty and atmosphere of anxiety with a dash of black humor and a blonde in jeopardy. All the ingredients were in place for his third feature, “The Lodger” (1927), the film “in which he became Hitchcock,” as Mr. Wood puts it. The title character is suspected by everyone as a Jack-the-Ripperish killer. Is he or isn’t he? “Innocence and guilt,” Mr. Wood notes, “leave many of the same traces.”
When Hitchcock came to Hollywood in 1939, he had already imparted alarming warnings to his British countrymen in a recent string of thrillers. He would send the same message to Americans: A menace threatened not only Great Britain and the United States but civilization as a whole. In many of Hitchcock’s great British films, from “The 39 Steps” (1935) to “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), we’re usually not told who the spies are working for, but there’s little doubt who the enemy is. Likewise, in his early Hollywood film “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), the “peace activist,” suavely played by Herbert Marshall, is actually a spy working for the unnamed foe.
While some Hitchcock films deal with global threats, the truly frightening works dwell upon more intimate dangers. In the film that was the director’s personal favorite, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), Joseph Cotton plays a dapper killer of wealthy women, proving that evil could lurk even in anytown America. In “Strangers on a Train” (1951) and “Rear Window” (1954), brutal murders occur, respectively, in an amusement park and a middle-class apartment building. Hitchcock became an American citizen in 1955, the same year that his hit television program “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” debuted. Mr. Wood suggests that the habitually fearful Hitchcock worried about “losing what he most cared about” at the pinnacle of his career, and this contributed to the richness of his confident yet melancholy films during the next few years.
Mr. Wood devotes more space to “Vertigo” (1958) than to any other Hitchcock film. In this masterpiece of misinformation and obsession, Jimmy Stewartplays a retired private investigator fascinated by a suicidal woman who is hardly who she seems to be. In “North by Northwest” (1959), Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a shallow Madison Avenue advertising man thought by enemy spies to be an American intelligence officer who in fact doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »
HAVANA (AP) — A U.S. foundation will ship nearly $900,000 in supplies to build a state-of-the-art facility to preserve Ernest Hemingway’s books, letters and photos – the first major export of construction materials to Cuba since President Barack Obama loosened the trade embargo on the island.
The Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation has been trying for years to help Cuba stop thousands of pages of documents from slowly disintegrating in the baking heat and dripping humidity of the sprawling homewhere the American writer lived and worked outside Havana from 1939 to 1960. Officials with Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council, which runs the Finca Vigia, have been enthusiastic about building a conservation laboratory but said they didn’t have the funds or supplies to do it.
High-quality building materials are virtually impossible to find throughout much of Cuba, with homeowners forced to buy paint and water pumps stolen from government agencies and pay overseas travelers to bring items as large as sinks and kitchen cabinets in their checked luggage. In state-run hardware stores, a request for an item as mundane as a box of screws can provoke peals of laughter from salesclerks.
The foundation’s proposal to send four shipping containers with as much as $862,000 of materials ranging from nuts and bolts to tools and roofing was approved by the U.S. government in May, after Obama created a series of exemptions to the embargo. The exceptions include permission for Americans to export supplies donated for the purpose of supporting the Cuban people in fields such as science, archaeology and historical preservation. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah Laskow writes: Late in May, when the Boston Public Library was still missing a Rembrandt etching worth $30,000 and a 16th century Dürer print worth $600,000, the situation looked bad. More than a dozen staff members were searching through tens of thousands of prints and drawings, without any luck, and the local press was reporting on a recent audit that had scorched the library for its less-than-stellar inventory management. “It is critical that the BPL have an inventory report that should list each item it owns,” the auditors wrote. “This consolidated inventory list does not exist.”
“These collections are vast. If you’re talking about a couple hundred items, it’s easy to go through once a year and make sure everything’s there. But when you’re talking about millions of items…if it took you 2 minutes to inventory each time, a full inventory can take years.”
— Kara M. McClurken, who heads preservation services at University of Virginia Library.
Then, last week, just one day after the library’s president announced her resignation, the two prints turned up—just 80 feet from where they were supposed to be.
In Boston, the value of the prints that went missing was high, and as a result, the reaction—press coverage, police involvement—and the consequences were severe. But the problems identified in Boston are far from unique to this one library.
Across the country, in city art collections and special collections of public libraries, one-of-a-kind items are routinely misfiled, misplaced, lost or stolen. And sometimes, routine mistakes and slipshod documentation grow into a much more intractable problem, with large portions of public collections being managed by institutions who have no idea what’s in them and no full inventory of their holdings.
“Librarians are trained to catalogue books and CDs. Art is an outlier. “With cutbacks, librarians are asked to do more with less, and artwork gets put on the back burner.”
— Camille Ann Brewer, the executive director of University of Chicago’ Black Metropolis Research Consortium
For instance, a library in Paterson, New Jersey, lost 20 pieces of antique furniture and bronzes and waited six years to report the loss to police. An Indiana library couldn’t find four paintings by the German artist Julius Moessel and never even tried to collect the insurance. An audit in Long Beach, California, found that about an eighth of the city-owned art collection could not be accounted for. The New York Public Library is missing a handful of maps dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries—and didn’t even notice it had lost one of Ben Franklin’s workbooks, until the person who inherited it offered to sell it back to the library. (The NYPL is currently suing for possession.) The Chicago Public Library has lost the vast majority of the 8,000 books, some of them now rare and valuable, that were donated to the city in 1871 and made up the library’s original collection. In 2011, the San Francisco Civic Art Collection wasn’t even sure how many pieces were in its collection. How did this problem first come to light? Well, some of its valuable pieces were found basically just lying around in a dank, watery hospital basement.
These problems aren’t restricted to a city level, either. At the Library of Congress, the inspector general noted in a recent report that “there is no comprehensive inventory or condition statement which covers the Library’s collections.” An examination of six presidential libraries found that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library had inventory information for only 20,000 of its 100,000 items. Read the rest of this entry »
London (AFP) – Britain has been forced to move some of its spies after Russia and China accessed the top-secret raft of documents taken by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, British media reported.
“We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.”
— Intelligence source, to the Sunday Times
The BBC and the Sunday Times cited senior government and intelligence officials as saying agents had been pulled, with the newspaper saying the move came after Russia was able to decrypt more than one million files.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information,” a Downing Street source said, according to the newspaper.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information.”
— Downing Street source
Downing Street told AFP on Sunday that they “don’t comment on intelligence matters” while the Foreign Office said: “We can neither confirm or deny these reports”.
The BBC said on its website, meanwhile, that a government source said the two countries “have information” that spurred intelligence agents being moved, but said there was “no evidence” any spies were harmed.
Snowden fled to Russia after leaking the documents to the press in 2013 to expose the extent of US online surveillance programmes and to protect “privacy and basic liberties”.
The Sunday Times said other government sources claimed China had also accessed the documents, which reveal US and British intelligence techniques, leading to fears that their spies could be identified. Read the rest of this entry »
In January 2015, Muslim terrorists massacred cartoonists and writers at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, proclaiming to be avenging Islam’s prophet. The rampage, which included the murders of hostages at a kosher market, prompted global leaders and throngs of citizens to rally in support of free expression. But was the support genuine?
In this Broadside, Andrew C. McCarthy explains how leading Islamists have sought to supplant free expression with the blasphemy standards of Islamic law, gaining the support of the U.S. and other Western governments. But free speech is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society, essential to our capacity to understand, protect ourselves from, and ultimately defeat our enemies.
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes: On June 9, Crown Publishers will release a new book, End of Discussion: How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), written by our own Guy Benson and Mary Katharine Ham. “They want to shut you up,” Guy and MK write, “but don’t let this be the End of Discussion.” The book encourages all Americans who value the open exchange of ideas to fight back against this strategic effort to make America less free, less feisty, and less fun.
In an exclusive to Hot Air and Townhall readers, we are publishing the first chapter of End of Discussion, “Head Explosions.” At the same time, readers can sign up for the chance to win a free copy of the book!
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) May 26, 2015
BONUS: You know who else has a book about the Left’s War on free speech? Kirsten Powers.
Sept 1959 Pocket first printing
“Things have been changing dramatically in the last two years. Since Xi Jinping came to power, what was tolerated before is not tolerated any longer, in China or Hong Kong.”
Ilaria Maria Sala writes: The shop assistant is abrupt when the question comes.
“We are not going to sell that one. Sorry,” he says, when asked for a copy of one of Hong Kong’s most eagerly searched-for books.
[Order Zhao Ziyang book “Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang” from Amazon.com]
“It might come back,” he says vaguely.
On the surface, there seems to be no censorship in Hong Kong. Unlike the mainland, the web is free, a wide range of newspapers is available, TV news covers demonstrations and protests, and nobody needs to apply for permission to print books.
“The pressure is on to stop Hong Kong people and mainlanders from reading unapproved books. When sales became harder, we started shipping books to individual customers in China. Nothing reached them. We tried through a courier in Shenzhen, but they stopped accepting books.”
“In 40 years, I know of only one book that has ever been stopped from distribution,” says Wong Sheung Wai, director of Greenfield Bookstore, a shop and distribution company, “and that was the Chinese translation of a guide to suicide.
“The real problem, though, is that our local government does not defend our autonomy. Rather, they lecture Hong Kong on how to behave to please the central authorities.”
“Taiwan translated it, but the Hong Kong authorities did not allow for it to be published and distributed here,” he says.
But mounting pressure from China to have greater control over what the Hong Kong public, and the Chinese tourists flocking there, read is creeping into this former British colony.
“Even the three big chains are commercial interests, so they do try to sell what clients want. At times certain books disliked by the Chinese authorities will still be available, but hidden behind a counter, or piled up with the spine turned to the walls.”
Through a complex web of self-censorship, soft censorship and mainland economic control, bookshops and media outlets in the territory have been changing their tone or giving less coverage to topics that China deems sensitive.
A slow but steady “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong, a key factor in bringing tens of thousands of protesters to the streets during last year’s umbrella movement, has been changing the face of the publishing and book distribution industry, with fewer shops willing, or able, to sell books forbidden in China.
Booming real estate costs add to that problem.
“Readers’ numbers are going down everywhere, and nobody can afford a ground-floor bookshop unless they are backed by people with very deep pockets,” says one publishing industry insider.
“If you ask me what is the biggest problem that Hong Kong faces right now, it is the Liaison Office, and their growing involvement in Hong Kong’s affairs.”
— Alex Chow, one of the student leaders at last year’s protests
The three main local bookshop chains, with a total of 51 outlets, are controlled by the Liaison Office, Beijing’s official representation in Hong Kong, which, she adds, makes sure they only pay a nominal rent for their operations. Read the rest of this entry »
Interview: Martin Ford, Author Of ‘Rise Of The Robots’
From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.
“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate. So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”
“There’s already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item,” Ford tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.
In his new book, Rise of the Robots, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated workers can no longer find employment.
“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate,” Ford says. “So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”
Any jobs that are truly repetitive or rote — doing the same thing again and again — in advanced economies like the United States or Germany, those jobs are long gone. They’ve already been replaced by robots years and years ago.
So what we’ve seen in manufacturing is that the jobs that are actually left for people to do tend to be the ones that require more flexibility or require visual perception and dexterity. Very often these jobs kind of fill in the gaps between machines.
For example, feeding parts into the next part of the production process or very often they’re at the end of the process — perhaps loading and unloading trucks and moving raw materials and finished products around, those types of things. Read the rest of this entry »
Crime Fiction: ‘Murder is Served’, by Frances & Richard Lockridge, Cover Art by Eddie Chan, Avon Paperback, 1951Posted: May 18, 2015
1951 Avon paperback. Cover art by Eddie Chan
‘Being Shocked is Part of Democratic Debate. Being Shot is Not': Charlie Hebdo Receives Award, Standing Ovation at PEN GalaPosted: May 6, 2015
Josh Feldman writes: The staff of Charlie Hebdo was honored tonight at the PEN American Center gala, following much controversy, and they received a standing ovation as they affirmed their commitment to free speech and free expression.
“I perfectly understand that a believer can be shocked by a satirical cartoon about Mohammed, Jesus, Moses or even the Pope. But growing up to be a citizen, is to learn that some ideas, some words, some images, can be shocking.”
There was a recent controversy when a group of authors refused to participate in the gala because of their opposition to what they perceive as the French publication’s “intolerance.”
Salman Rushdie and a whole host of other writers stood up for Charlie Hebdo, defending them from that charge of intolerance and insisting the free speech principle is of paramount importance. Read the rest of this entry »
Sorry, Charlie Hebdo
Je suis Charlie. French for “I am Charlie,” the phrase became a global expression of solidarity and resolve after Islamist gunmen murdered 12 people at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
“The terrorists who attacked cartoonists in Paris and in Texas hoped that murder would intimidate them—and others—into silence. As such theirs was not merely an attack on a publication; it was an attack on the foundations of liberal democracy.”
In a terrifying copycat attack Sunday in Garland, Texas, two men with assault rifles attempted to gun down people attending an event satirizing Muhammad with cartoons. A single police officer managed to shoot and kill both gunmen before they got inside the event. With some 200 people in the building, the potential for another politicized mass murder was great.
“Trumpeting the list of petition signers was no less than Glenn Greenwald, last seen lionizing Edward Snowden’s right to go public with information stolen from the National Security Agency’s efforts to track the people who committed the Paris murders and tried to do it again in Texas this week.”
On Monday authorities said one of the gunman, Elton Simpson of Phoenix, had been under surveillance for years because of interest he’d shown in joining jihadist groups overseas. He was found guilty of making false statements to the FBI, but a federal judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence that Mr. Simpson’s activities were “sufficiently ‘related’ to international terrorism.”
Against this backdrop we have the extraordinary—almost comical—irony of some of America’s bien pensant intellectuals boycotting a ceremony Tuesday by the PEN American Center to confer its annual courage award for freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo. PEN is an association of writers, and six prominent novelists—Peter Carey,Michael Ondaatje,Francine Prose,Teju Cole,Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi—have been trying to repeal the award for Charlie Hebdo.
Against this backdrop we have the extraordinary—almost comical—irony of some of America’s bien pensant intellectuals boycotting a ceremony Tuesday by the PEN American Center to confer its annual courage award for freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo.
Ms. Kusher said she was uncomfortable with the “forced secular view” and “cultural intolerance” represented by Charlie Hebdo, whose signature attacks were on organized religion. Read the rest of this entry »