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Web bloggers compete with stars for public’s attention December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Blogging.
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Hey, you! You turned the Web into the pop-culture phenomenon of 2006, whether you were acquiring hundreds of pals on MySpace or uploading videos of yourself lip-syncing to Gnarls Barkley on YouTube.

Time magazine made you the person of the year, because you’re a star, baby. Or at least that’s what the old media says. They’re desperate to stay in your good graces because you’re the power broker now.

Here’s the reality check. Becoming a Web sensation is possible, but not easy. With blogs springing up by the second, all the good gimmicks seem taken. How come you — or we — didn’t think of mixing Mentos and Diet Coke and filming the explosion?

As usual, celebrities had no trouble grabbing attention: among them, hate-spewing actors (Mel Gibson and Michael Richards), babies with famous parents (Suri and Shiloh), and starlets whose turmoils played out like prime-time soaps (a.k.a. Desperate Ex-Wife Britney).

The pop-culture cafe continues to save the best tables for gossip-worthy stars. Yet two entertainers who share very little of their personal lives were standouts, using humor as their light saber of truth.

Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” delivered a scathingly hilarious send-up at the White House Correspondents Dinner of government leaders and the media types who cozy up to them. It didn’t go over well with the movers and shakers, but clips of his monologue found an enthusiastic audience on the Web.

Another brilliantly funny guy, Sacha Baron Cohen of “Borat,” wore a mustache and a cheesy suit and revealed that some Americans still harbor the same backward prejudices as a gangly guy from Kazakhstan.

Several people who appeared in “Borat” complained they were tricked into being filmed, but audiences were laughing too hard to care. As Joel Stein wrote in a Time story, notions of privacy have changed in the wired world: “If you’re under 35, you realize that everything is public now.”

Take that as a friendly warning for the year ahead. As you watch your life and everyone else’s unfold on the Web, remember to watch out for each other a little bit, too.

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Yahoo Web searches about pop culture December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet, Yahoo.
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These were the most popular 2006 searches at yahoo.com
 
1. Britney Spears
2 WWE
3. Shakira
4. Jessica Simpson
5. Paris Hilton
6. “American Idol”
7. Beyonce Knowles
8. Chris Brown
9. Pamela Anderson
10. Lindsay Lohan

Source: Yahoo.com

Lycos Web searches about pop culture December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet.
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These are the top search terms in 2006 at www.lycos.com 
1. Poker
2 MySpace
3. RuneScape
4. Pamela Anderson
5. Paris Hilton
6. Pokemon
7. WWE
8. Golf
9. Spyware
10. Britney Spears

Source: Lycos, Inc. Based on user searches from Jan. 1 through Nov. 25, 2006.

New EU members prepare to party December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture, Media.
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Romania and Bulgaria are getting ready to celebrate their entry into the European Union at midnight with rock music and traditional dancing. Thousands are expected to attend the concerts in the countries’ capitals.

Several European leaders will join in a folk dance in Bucharest, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will give a speech in Sofia. From 1 January the EU will have 27 members, up from to 15 three years ago, and a population of half a billion.

The accession of the two new countries comes amid falling enthusiasm in Europe for the bloc’s continuing expansion. A Eurobarometer poll in autumn only 41% of people in the 15 states that were part of the EU before 2004 supporting further enlargement. The two new countries will be subject to strict monitoring after they join, to ensure they make more progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime. They will face export bans on certain foods, and Bulgaria has been warned that 55 of its aircraft could be grounded unless they reach EU safety standards.

Pyramid of light > Analysts say there is a risk that EU aid will be mis-spent, or just not taken up because the countries’ institutions are too disorganised.

The Bulgarian economy still lacks a certain competitiveness > Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev 

There are also fears that the countries’ economies will fail to compete with the rest of the EU’s once trade barriers come down. “The Bulgarian economy still lacks a certain competitiveness,” Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev has admitted. But both countries have big plans for celebrations. Bucharest mayor Adriean Vidreanu has promised “a traditional party that Romanians will never forget”.

European Enlargement Commissioner and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are among the politicians joining hands for a traditional circle dance in the city.

In Sofia, a pyramid of light will illuminate the sky, with rays emanating from the city’s Orthodox cathedral, its Armenian church, a synagogue, a mosque and another church.

Immigration fears > One Romanian factory has been working flat out sewing European flags for the celebrations. Both Bulgaria and Romania are much poorer than the rest of the EU, with GDP per capita of about 33% of the EU average, compared with 50% in Poland. Some Western European member states fear a flood of new immigrants, but officials in both countries say most of those who wanted to work abroad have already left.

Most of the 15 older EU member states have put in place restrictions on the free movement of workers from the two new members – though Finland and Sweden are two exceptions. Most of the 10 newer member states, including Poland, say they will erect no barriers.

Bulgaria is due to close two reactors of its Kozloduy nuclear power station in the hours before joining the EU, one of the last remaining conditions of membership. Also on 1 January, Slovenia will become the first of the 10 states which joined the EU in 2004 to adopt the European currency, the euro.

Culture in Romania and Bulgaria December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture, Media.
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On 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria become the latest countries to join the European Union. The two nations in south-eastern Europe are relatively unknown in the rest of Europe in terms of their popular culture, including music and television.

Here is a sample of what the average Romanian and Bulgarian settles down to watch on the small screen, and which pop stars are making the biggest splash as the neighbouring countries enter the European club.

BULGARIAN POP MUSIC > In market places, cafes, shops and bars across Bulgaria, it’s likely that chalga music will be blaring out of the stereo. This vibrant, heady mixture of traditional Balkan folk music with Roma (gypsy), Turkish and Arab influences is highly popular. But it is sometimes frowned upon for its scantily-clad female singers and appeal to “low class people”.

“I rather like it. At least it’s Bulgarian,” says Magdalena Rahn of the Sofia Echo newspaper. “The rhythms are catchy and the voices incredible. I would prefer Azis to Western pop music being played here,” she adds.

Flamboyant, cross-dressing male vocalist Azis is one of the most recognised faces in Bulgaria. A leading exponent of chalga, he represented his country alongside pop star Mariana Popova at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Western music has been widely embraced by Bulgarian artists and regularly dominates the country’s charts, alongside the likes of Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani.

Bulgaria’s best-known rap duo Rumaneca and Enchev are currently riding high in the hit parade along with male singer Grafa (The Count) – deemed “not particularly Bulgarian” by Ms Rahn.

The country’s rock scene thrives thanks to bands lik Epizod, who have turned traditional Bulgarian songs into rock anthems. The group have performed clad in armour with the backing of a church choir and folk dancers.

ROMANIAN POP MUSIC > Romania’s most recent musical phenomenon is Cleopatra Stratan. Aged just three, this diminutive talent dominated the charts recently with her song Ghita and has already recorded an album. The daughter of singer Pavel Stratan is said to have been discovered when she performed at his recording sessions.

Acts who have been in the business rather longer include rock band Voltaj, who formed in 1982 under the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Once considered a “danger to society”, they did not record their first album until 1995 and won best Romanian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards a decade later. Rockers Holograf, currently in the Romanian Top 10 with Voltaj, started life in 1978.

Popular names on the Romanian dance scene include DJ Project, best Romanian Act at this year’s MTV Europe Awards, and Akcent and Morandi. Prolific songwriter and performer Marius Moga has penned numerous hits for these acts, earning himself the title “Little Mozart”.

As in Bulgaria, Romania’s acts have to battle hard against songs from the US and UK which often dominate the country’s Top 10.

BULGARIAN TELEVISION > One of Bulgaria’s most popular TV programmes is a late-night daily talk show hosted by Slavi Trifonov, one of the most popular figures in the country. The show’s makers claim its hour-long mix of guests, political satire and musical performances is “unique in Eastern Europe”.

Other small-screen draws in Bulgaria include localised versions of such familiar TV programmes as Big Brother, currently in its third series, and Survivor BG. The country has also spawned its own derivative of Deal Or No Deal, known as Sdelka Ili Ne in Bulgaria, which offers a top prize of 100,000 Leva (£34,620).

ROMANIAN TELEVISION > Romanian TV has come a long way since the dark days of the Ceausescu era. Back then, all viewers had to look forward to was two hours of black-and-white programming extolling the dictator’s virtues. The country now has 10 commercial stations to complement the three channels offered by state television.

A set of familiar entertainment programmes are “watched by the whole nation”, says Radio Romania International’s Iulian Muresan. Probably the most popular, he continues, is Surprize Surprize, similar to the show hosted by Cillia Black in the UK from 1984-99.

Its tearful reunions are interspersed with regular appearances by bebelusele, female dancing girls, which are a common feature on numerous Romanian TV programmes. Other highly-rated shows include Iarta-ma (Forgive Me), where old scores are settled and one-time adversaries start afresh in front of a studio audience, and Dansez Pentru Tine, based on competitive dance shows seen around the world.

The country’s most popular comedy show is Cronica Carcotasilor (The Fault Finder’s Chronicle), which takes an irreverent look at Romania’s political leaders, prominent people in the media and famous faces. This programme also has a coterie of female dancers who perform between sketches.

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
Slavi Show > http://www.slavishow.com/indexen.php
Big Brother Bulgaria > http://www.bigbrother.bg
Surprize Surprize > http://www.surprize-surprize.ro
Cronica Carcotasilor > http://www.carcotasii.ro
Dansez Pentru Tine > http://www.protv.ro/dansez-pentru-tine
Sofia Echo – Politically Incorrect Chalga > http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/politically-incorrect-chalga/id_10025/catid_47
Epizod > http://www.epizod.com/Eng/Epizod/index.html
Holograf > http://www.holograf.ro
Akcent > http://www.akcentonline.com