National Day Of Mourning Today!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018, National Day of Mourning

In honor of the death of Former President George H. W. Bush, President Donald J. Trump has declared Wednesday, December 5, 2018, as a national day of mourning.

         George H. W. Bush and His Wife Barbara Bush (above)

                                        41st U.S. President

Description

George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Prior to assuming the presidency, Bush served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989.

BornJune 12, 1924, Milton, MA
DiedNovember 30, 2018, Houston, TX
Vice presidentDan Quayle (1989–1993)
Presidential termJanuary 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
Years of service1942–1945

Stan Lee A Death Of A Legend

Stan Lee A Death Of A Legend

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics’ Real-Life Superhero, Dies at 95

The feisty writer, editor and publisher was responsible for such iconic characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther and the Fantastic Four — ’nuff said.

Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics whose fantabulous but flawed creations made him a real-life superhero to comic book lovers everywhere, has died. He was 95.

Lee, who began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless other characters, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a family representative told The Hollywood Reporter.

Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, also confirmed his death to the Associated Press.

Lee’s final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he sued executives at POW! Entertainment — a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties — for $1 billion alleging fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later. He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. (Lee’s estate is estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.) And in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.

On his own and through his work with frequent artist-writer collaborators Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others, Lee catapulted Marvel from a tiny venture into the world’s No. 1 publisher of comic books and, later, a multimedia giant.

In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, and most of the top-grossing superhero films of all time — led by Avengers: Infinity War‘s $2.05 billion worldwide take earlier this year — have featured Marvel characters.

“I used to think what I did was not very important,” he told the Chicago Tribune in April 2014. “People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed.”

Lee’s fame and influence as the face and figurehead of Marvel, even in his nonagenarian years, remained considerable.

“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “A superhero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige also paid tribute. “No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee,” Feige said. “Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all. Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family and the millions of fans who have been forever touched by Stan’s genius, charisma and heart. Excelsior!”

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Stan Lee Needs a Hero: Elder Abuse Claims and a Battle Over the Aging Marvel Creator

Beginning in the 1960s, the irrepressible and feisty Lee punched up his Marvel superheroes with personality, not just power. Until then, comic book headliners like those of DC Comics were square and well-adjusted, but his heroes had human foibles and hang-ups; Peter Parker/Spider-Man, for example, fretted about his dandruff and was confused about dating. The evildoers were a mess of psychological complexity.

“His stories taught me that even superheroes like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk have ego deficiencies and girl problems and do not live in their macho fantasies 24 hours a day,” Gene Simmons of Kiss said in a 1979 interview. “Through the honesty of guys like Spider-Man, I learned about the shades of gray in human nature.”

(Kiss made it to the Marvel pages, and Lee had Simmons bleed into a vat of ink so the publisher could say the issues were printed with his blood.)

The Manhattan-born Lee wrote, art-directed and edited most of Marvel’s series and newspaper strips. He also penned a monthly comics column, “Stan’s Soapbox,” signing off with his signature phrase, “Excelsior!”

His way of doing things at Marvel was to brainstorm a story with an artist, then write a synopsis. After the artist drew the story panels, Lee filled in the word balloons and captions. The process became known as “The Marvel Method.”

Lee collaborated with artist-writer Kirby on the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer and X-Men. With artist-writer Ditko he created Spider-Man and the surgeon Doctor Strange, and with artist Bill Everett came up with the blind superhero Daredevil.

Such collaborations sometimes led to credit disputes: Lee and Ditko reportedly engaged in bitter fights, and both receive writing credit on the Spider-Man movies and TV shows. “I don’t want anyone to think I treated Kirby or Ditko unfairly,” he told Playboy magazine in April 2014. “I think we had a wonderful relationship. Their talent was incredible. But the things they wanted weren’t in my power to give them.”

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Hollywood Pays Tribute to “Visionary” Stan Lee

Like any Marvel employee, Lee had no rights to the characters he helped create and received no royalties.

In the 1970s, Lee importantly helped push the boundaries on censorship in comics, delving into serious and topical subject matter in a medium that had become mindless, kid-friendly entertainment.

In 1954, the publication of psychologist Frederic Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent had spurred calls for the government to regulate violence, sex, drug use, questioning of public authority figures, etc., in the comics as a way to curtail “juvenile delinquency.” Wary publishers headed that off by forming the Comics Code Authority, a self-censoring body that while avoiding the heavy hand of Washington still wound up neutering adult interest in comics and stereotyping the medium as one only kids would enjoy.

Lee scripted banal scenarios with characters like Nellie the Nurse and Tessie the Typist, but in 1971, he inserted an anti-drug storyline into “The Amazing Spider-Man” in which Peter Parker’s best friend Harry Osborn popped pills. Those issues, which did not carry the CCA “seal of approval” on the covers, became extremely popular, and later, the organization relaxed some of its guidelines.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, he grew up poor in Washington Heights, where his father, a Romanian immigrant, was a dress-cutter. A lover of adventure books and Errol Flynn movies, Lee graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project, where he appeared in a few stage shows, and wrote obituaries.

In 1939, Lee got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America No. 3, he wrote a two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” that was used as text filler to qualify the company for the inexpensive magazine mailing rate. He used the pen name Stan Lee.

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From ‘X-Men’ to ‘Spider-Man’: 35 of Stan Lee’s Most Memorable Cameos

He was named interim editor at 19 by publisher Martin Goodman when the previous editor quit. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Signal Corps, where he wrote manuals and training films with a group that included Oscar-winner Frank Capra, Pulitzer-winner William Saroyan and Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss). After the war, he returned to the publisher and served as the editor for decades.

Following DC Comics’ lead with the Justice League, Lee and Kirby in November 1961 launched their own superhero team, the Fantastic Four, for the newly renamed Marvel Comics, and Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and X-Men soon followed. The Avengers launched as its own title in September 1963.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Manhattan’s high-literary culture vultures did not bestow its approval on how Lee was making a living. People would “avoid me like I had the plague. … Today, it’s so different,” he once told The Washington Post.

Not everyone felt the same way, though. Lee recalled once being visiting in his New York office by Federico Fellini, who wanted to talk about nothing but Spider-Man.

In 1972, Lee was named publisher and relinquished the Marvel editorial reins to spend all his time promoting the company. He moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to set up an animation studio and to build relationships in Hollywood. Lee purchased a home overlooking the Sunset Strip that was once owned by Jack Benny’s announcer, Don Wilson.

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Stan Lee Reflects on His Successes and Regrets: “I Should Have Been Greedier”

Long before his Marvel characters made it to the movies, they appeared on television. An animated Spider-Man show (with a memorable theme song composed by Oscar winner Paul Francis Webster, of “The Shadow of Your Smile” fame, and Bob Harris) ran on ABC from 1967 to 1970. Bill Bixby played Dr. David Banner, who turns into a green monster (Lou Ferrigno) when he gets agitated, in the 1977-82 CBS drama The Incredible Hulk. And Pamela Anderson provided the voice of Stripperella, a risque animated Spike TV series that Lee wrote for in 2003-04.

Lee launched the internet-based Stan Lee Media in 1998, and the superhero creation, production and marketing studio went public a year later. However, when investigators uncovered illegal stock manipulation by his partners, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001. (Lee was never charged.)

In 2002, Lee published an autobiography, Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee.

Survivors include his daughter and younger brother Larry Lieber, a writer and artist for Marvel. Another daughter, Jan, died in infancy. His wife, Joan, was a hat model whom he married in 1947.

Like Alfred Hitchcock before him, the never-bashful Lee appeared in cameos in the Marvel movies, shown avoiding falling concrete, watering his lawn, delivering the mail, crashing a wedding, playing a security guard, etc.

In Spider-Man 3 (2007), he chats with Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker as they stop on a Times Square street to read news that the web-slinger will soon receive the key to the city. “You know,” he says, “I guess one person can make a difference … ’nuff said.”

Duane Byrge and Borys Kit contributed to this report.

Veterans Day Holiday 2018

Happy Veterans Day

So as we celebrate Veterans Day, we encourage you to enjoy the parade in downtown Fairfield or any of the other events happening across the county. While you’re there, take a moment to thank a veteran for his or her service. Then, once you’re safely home, sit back and enjoy the features in our Veterans Day section.

Happy Veterans Day to you all. And to those who served, we offer our eternal gratitude.

Applebee’s Makes You Feel Better

Applebee’s Makes You Feel Better

Applebee’s is betting on stress eaters, and it’s paying off

That’s been the brand’s strategy since John Cywinski took over as its president in March of last year. And it’s working: Applebee’s US same-store sales increased 7.7% in the third quarter of this year, setting a 14-year record.
While fast food brands are ditching artificial ingredients and offering healthier alternatives, Applebee’s has embraced comfort food for a banner year.
“Americans are stressed,” Cywinski told CNN Business.
“When stressed, they tend to go to comfort food … and we’re pretty darn good at comfort food,” he said. “That’s the role we play.”
“We look at ourselves as America’s kitchen table,” he said, noting that with about 1,800 locations, most Americans are within driving distance of a restaurant. “We’re that affordable indulgence.”

What went wrong

A few years ago, Applebee’s was struggling. The brand started selling seared and grilled items and serving smaller portions to chase a more health-conscious consumer.
With these initiatives, the brand was targeting just a small segment of their customers, the “up-and-coming guest,” said Brian Vaccaro, a restaurant analyst with Raymond James.
“They tried to pursue a customer who wasn’t going to Applebee’s anyway,” said Stephen Anderson, a senior equity research analyst covering restaurants at Maxim Group. The strategy flopped,and sales declined.

Applebee's wants you to eat good in the neighborhood. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Applebee’s customers have an average household income of $70,000, the company said. About 30% of its customers are Millennials, but it also sells to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. And it serves more families and black and Hispanic customers than its peers.
The brand struggled because it “took its eye off its core guest and lost sight of who Applebee’s is, and what Applebee’s stands for,” Cywinski said.

Cheap drinks and comfort food

To get Applebee’s back on track, Cywinski hired a new leadership team. He convinced franchisees to contribute toward Applebee’s advertising fund. He rolled out drink promotion after drink promotion: Dollaritas, Dollar Zombies and, most recently, $2 Bud Lights.
Alcohol accounts for about 15% of Applebee’s business, Cywinski said. It’s important because stressed out customers may want a drink with dinner. And when people come to drink, they often order food.
When it comes to meals, Applebee’s is focusing on “abundant value,” Cywinski said. That means all-you-can-eat riblets and chicken tenders and creamy pasta dishes.
Applebee’s competitors Chili’s and Olive Garden have also been performing well recently.
Wage growth and higher employment rates have helped the consumer environment overall, Vaccarro said. Those are “all positive for casual dining,” he noted.
But Applebee’s has been “significantly outperforming the industry,” Vaccaro added. That may be because Applebee’s has done such a good job of showing customers that it’s about the value and the experience, he said.

Skirting the health trend

With a bigger advertising budget, Applebee’s poured money into campaigns that highlight the brand’s renewed commitment to indulgent food. The ads are designed to make you laugh and make you hungry, Cywinski said. One video, promoting the new pasta dishes, shows close-up shots of decadent dishes while “At Last” by Etta James plays in the background.
Applebee’s is still offering healthier options, Cywinski said. But the brand is focusing on comfort food. Applebee’s is about “making people hungry [and] satisfying them,” he said. “So that doesn’t mean small portions, it doesn’t mean pursuing niche trends.”
The company has found its sweet spots without leaning on trends.
“They’re not going after the avocado toast Millennials,” said Anderson. “They’re going after middle America.”
But Applebee’s is paying attention to certain trends. Like other chains, Applebee’s is investing inoff-premise dining, technology and delivery.

Coffee Can Stop You From Growing?

Can Coffee Really Stunt Your Growth?

Few foods or drinks have been as well studied as coffee. Research has looked at coffee’s possible connection to cancer, infertility, heart disease and a host of other problems (more on some of these later).

But, did you ever hear that coffee might stunt your growth? Apparently, it’s a common belief.

Separating Truth from Fiction

There is no scientifically valid evidence to suggest that coffee can stunt a person’s growth.

This idea may have come from the misconception that coffee causes osteoporosis (a condition that may be associated with loss of height).

But blaming coffee for height loss due to osteoporosis is faulty reasoning for at least two reasons:

  1. Coffee does not cause osteoporosis.
  2. Osteoporosis does not routinely make you short.

The other problem with the “coffee stunts your growth” theory is that most growth occurs well before most people are drinking coffee regularly. By the time we’re in our teens, most people have almost reached their full height. For girls, this is usually by age 15 to 17; for boys, it’s a bit later. You can’t “undo” bone growth once it’s complete.

Decades ago, studies reported that coffee drinkers might have an increased risk of osteoporosis. It was suggested that:

  • Caffeine can increase the body’s elimination of calcium.
  • Lack of calcium can contribute to osteoporosis.

Naturally, this attracted lots of attention and concern. After all, there are millions of coffee drinkers, so presumably all of them could be at risk. But the effect of caffeine on calcium excretion is small. And the link between coffee consumption and osteoporosis was never confirmed.

In fact, when the studies suggesting a link were analyzed, it turned out that people who drank more coffee drank less milk and other calcium-containing beverages. So it was probably the dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D among coffee drinkers, not the coffee, that increased the risk of osteoporosis.

Causes of Height Loss

Osteoporosis with compression fractures can reduce an adult’s height. But you can also lose height without osteoporosis.

The discs above and below most of the spinal bones (vertebrae) contain water. They lose water with age, so they can degenerate and compress a bit. If enough discs are affected, you can lose a measureable amount of height over time.

Curvature of the spine (scoliosis) or bending of the spine forward (kyphosis) can also lead to height loss. The most common causes of scoliosis and kyphosis include osteoporosis (in adults) and developmental abnormalities (in kids).

For anyone concerned about the effect of coffee consumption on bone health, getting more calcium and vitamin D through diet (or supplements) could readily address this.

And while it’s true that people who have osteoporosis of the spine can lose height (and often have curved spines), it’s the fractures, not the osteoporosis itself, that lead to height loss.

The Risks and Benefits of Coffee

Many studies have failed to identify serious medical risks associated with coffee drinking. Coffee can cause insomnia, a jittery feeling and a slight (and temporary) elevation in blood pressure in some people.

Excessive coffee consumption (six or more cups per day) has been associated with reduced fertility and miscarriage (although definitive studies are not available). In addition, caffeine withdrawal is a common cause of headaches, and can worsen heartburn due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) .

But most coffee drinkers have no bothersome side effects. And many studies have “cleared” coffee as a cause of serious disease, including cancer and heart disease. In fact, research has linked coffee consumption to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Liver disease
  • Certain cancers (especially liver cancer)
  • Gout

Caffeine can also briefly enhance athletic performance and promote weight loss. (By the way, many competitive sports ban excessive caffeine intake by athletes.)

Some of these potential benefits may not just be related to caffeine. For example, maybe coffee drinkers have healthier lifestyles than non-coffee drinkers. If true, those lifestyle differences, not the coffee, could account for the lower risk of certain diseases. Just as the “link” between coffee and osteoporosis turned out to have another explanation, these potential health benefits could turn out to be unrelated to coffee.

The Bottom Line

Whether or not coffee turns out to have significant health benefits, this popular beverage doesn’t stunt your growth. Your height is largely determined by the height of your parents and the quality of your diet and overall health while growing. If you eat a balanced diet and take measures to avoid osteoporosis, you’re likely to achieve the maximum height “allowed” by your genes. And, sorry: Just as drinking coffee won’t make you shorter, avoiding it won’t make you any taller.