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March 29, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's film double


In today's New York Times, Ashley Parker reported on an interview with Phyllis Shelton (above, right), who was Elizabeth Taylor's film double and stand-in on such movies as "Cleopatra," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Suddenly, Last Summer," and "BUtterfield 8."

Excerpts from the Times story follow.


The morning that Elizabeth Taylor died, Phyllis Shelton received nearly half a dozen calls before noon. She took the news last week harder than most.

After all, Ms. Shelton had been on the set with Ms. Taylor in Italy when “Cleopatra” was filmed, ridden a horse for "Reflections in a Golden Eye" and honeymooned at the Mexican Riviera house that Ms. Taylor owned with Richard Burton.

For years she had been Ms. Taylor’s film double — and nearly her spitting image — as a young woman in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and friends were calling to share the news.

"It was beautiful in the fact that this was some girl I'd always admired, mainly because she loved horses and I was some horse freak, and who would ever know I’d grow up looking like her, so that was a real treat," Ms. Shelton said.

When Ms. Shelton was in her 20s, radiant with short hair and a porcelain complexion, she was competing in pageants in her native Kentucky when someone noticed her strong resemblance to Ms. Taylor and asked her to move to California.

Ms. Shelton, who had grown up riding horses and watching the equestrian-themed "National Velvet," one of Ms. Taylor’s first movies, said the connection was instant. Their first meeting, she said, "was kind of funny."

"We just looked at each other and laughed," Ms. Shelton said. “She had a great sense of humor. She was spoiled, but who wouldn't be spoiled if you were raised like that?"

Once in Hollywood, Ms. Shelton had her brown hair darkened a few shades and her front teeth capped, and used colored contact lenses to transform her "green as they can get" eyes into the violet eyes for which Ms. Taylor was so famous.

Ms. Shelton says she was taller than Ms. Taylor, who was also "heavier and much better endowed," but pictures of them show that the resemblance was striking — and it extended down to their love of men.

But as the two women grew older, their looks — and their lives — diverged.

"We used to look just alike, and now we don’t," Ms. Shelton said. "She had a lot of fun in her days, and I did too, but in doing so, she abused herself in some ways."

These days, Ms. Shelton is often told she looks a lot like another Hollywood leading lady.

"I’ve heard people say Shirley MacLaine, but I can’t believe it," Ms. Shelton said. "How can somebody look like one person, and then as you get older, you look like another person?"

March 29, 2011 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Matthias Pliessnig — Works in wood


The artist creates wooden furniture at once curvilinear and geometric.


The pieces above and below will be on display through July 31, 2011


at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.,


part of the biennial series "History in the Making: Renwick Craft Invitational."

March 29, 2011 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Vid.ly — One URL to watch them all


Wrote Robin Wauters in a March 25, 2011 techcrunch article, "Video encoding service provider Encoding.com this morning announced that it is opening the beta version of its Vid.ly video URL service to the public.

"With Vid.ly, Encoding.com aims to... enable publishers to create what it refers to as a 'universal video URL,' designed to play videos everywhere."


"Since it was released in private beta at the end of January 2011, the company says several thousand beta users generated over 10,000 Vid.ly URLs by uploading their source videos via the dedicated website, where anyone can now sign up."

March 29, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Anatomical Matryoshka


"Anatomical nesting dolls for an upcoming show at the Rothick Art Haus."

[via Richard Kashdan, 9Gag, and stuntkid]

March 29, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"The Tree of Life"


Above, the poster for Terence Malick's upcoming film.


the trailer.

[via Deliberatepixel and IMDb]

March 29, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: $8,000 pocket-sized ultrasound machine


Wrote Stephanie Simon in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "Dr. [Eric] Topol, a cardiologist in San Diego, carries with him... a portable ultrasound device roughly the size of a cellphone. When he puts it to a patient's chest, the device allows him to peer directly into the heart. The patient looks, too; together, they check out the muscle, the valves, the rhythm, the blood flow."

Topol no longer carries  a stethoscope.

He said, "Why would I listen to 'lub dub' when I can see everything?"

Ooh, I want one.

But in three years it'll be a $9.99 iPhone app so I guess I'll wait.

Nevertheless, astounding technology.

Most ultrasound machines in doctors's offices are mounted on a rolling cart and cost a lot more than $8,000.

[via medgadget]

March 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to tell a real Zippo lighter from a fake


Above, a real Zippo next to a counterfeit.

Which is which?*

A March 25, 2011 Wall Street Journal article by Barry Newman noted that many of the lighters that come into Zippo's repair facilities (the lighters are guaranteed for life) are, in fact, fakes, oftimes something not known by their owners until the unrepaired counterfeit is returned.

Wrote Newman, "It's getting to the point where Zippo itself has to look twice to tell the difference between counterfeits and its own product."

• The 12 letters "A" through "L" stand for the months on a Zippo date stamp; other letters flag a fake

• Zippo chimneys have 16 holes

• Zippo rivets are steel, not brass

• Zippo's flint eyelet is brass, not steel

• Zippo strikewheels are cut in a houndstooth pattern

• The edge of the flint-screw's head in a Zippo is knurled

*The lighter on the left is a fake.

March 29, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cosmonaut: Fat iPad Stylus

It's a Kickstarter project with, at my last look, about $16,000 pledged of the $50,000 required by April 19.

Maybe this'll give 'em a boost.

I just like the look of the device, so reminiscent of the fat crayons I used in kindergarten.

And that great name.

March 29, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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