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Celeb Profile
Usher

Far beyond the extraordinary levels of success that Usher has already achieved in his meteoric rise to global superstardom as singer, composer, producer, film and television actor, businessman and philanthropist, 2004 managed to add even further levels of accomplishment to his profile. Consider the phenomenal success of his fifth album, Confessions, which (as of this writing) is certified 8-times RIAA platinum in the U.S. alone, has surpassed 11 million copies worldwide, and continues to sell about one million copies per month.

Released in March 2004, Confessions scanned a record-breaking 1.1 million units in its first week out, giving Usher his first #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and his first simultaneous #1 pop/#1 R&B entry. (The full extent of the album's historic first week will be detailed further, below.) The CD dominated the album charts throughout the year spending a total of 12 weeks at #1 as it spun off three consecutive #1 Pop/#1 R&B hit singles: "Yeah!" (featuring Lil' Jon & Ludacris), "Burn" and "Confessions Part II."

"With every album, I try to better myself," Usher said before the release of Confessions. "I'm a perfectionist and with the success of my last record [2001's 8701], I wasn't sure about where my growth should be as a performer, as a vocalist. I always felt like I held something back on my albums on every album, I was playing a 'role'. This time, I decided to shake my fears and allow my personality to come through."

Usher, who turned 25 during the recording of Confessions, had already experienced a lifetime under the lights but was ready for more. Signed in 1993 by Antonio "L.A." Reid and Babyface to their LaFace Records label in Atlanta, Usher was poised to begin his second decade as a recording megastar in 2004. This realization had a profound impact on him.

"I'm 25-years old," he said, "and I'm dealing with my responsibilities as a man and I'm not afraid to speak, to be realistic and talk about the issues men deal with." The new album's title was no accident. "I'm telling on myself," he admitted confessed and more than one song dealt with the paradox of honesty and dishonesty in personal relationships. Few artists are willing to tackle such weighty material, but Usher had matured into a different person in the intervening years between albums, a new man who was willing to confront life's changes.

Usher Raymond IV began singing when he was six years old, joining the local church choir at the behest of his mother, Jonnetta Patton, who acted as choir director. Patton, a single mom, raised Usher and his younger brother, James, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before moving the family to Atlanta, Georgia, when Usher was twelve years old. Cited by the singer as his best friend, Usher's mother continues to guide the teen star's career as his manager, a duty she assumed after quitting her full-time office job several years ago. Upon moving to Atlanta, Usher began participating in various local talent shows. It was at one such exhibition, in 1992, that he was spotted by Bryant Reid, brother of Antonio Reid the famed R&B producer and co-president (with 'Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds' ) of LaFace Records. Bryant arranged for Usher to audition for his brother, and the popular producer was immediately taken with the young singer's precocious talent. Legend has it that Reid offered Usher a contract on the spot. Usher recorded and released his debut album on LaFace in 1994. The record, which was co-executive-produced by Reid and 'Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs' , generated the minor hit "Think of You".

Usher was only fourteen when he worked on the album, and puberty proved somewhat of an impediment to the process. As a result, the producers brought in several vocal coaches in order to help him complete the record. Their efforts were not in vain, as the album captured Usher's youthful exuberance and native singing prowess, not to mention the interest of many listeners. After graduating from high school, Usher entered the studio to record his sophomore effort, My Way, which was produced by Jermaine Dupri of So So Def Records, and was released in October of 1997, around the time of Usher's nineteenth birthday. The record was already highly anticipated based on the success of its first hit single, "You Make Me Wanna", an impassioned love song in the classic R&B tradition. The song was an instant juggernaut, hovering at or near the top of Billboard's R&B singles chart from the moment of its release, and it eventually spent considerable time in the No. 2 position on the pop singles chart, second only to Elton John's wildly popular "Candle in the Wind '97."

The success of My Way proved that the teenage crooner had won over the hearts of legions of listeners. It also illustrated the artistic maturation he had undergone since his debut recording. This time around, Usher wrote his own songs, penning five of the album's nine tracks. The remaining four songs were contributed by such R&B heavyweights as Babyface, Teddy Riley, and producer Dupri. Usher spent six months living at Dupri's house while recording the album; the time together, he says, helped them understand each other, and helped Dupri realize the genuine growth Usher was experiencing in his life. My Way yielded a second smash, "Nice & Slow", that also put a chokehold on the singles charts upon its release, and the video for the song garnered a fair share of critical acclaim. Shot by famed hip-hop director Hype Williams, the video, which was filmed in Paris, features a dramatic romantic storyline that almost rivals the song itself. Usher was recognized for the strength of his recent work when he won the 1997 Soul Train Award for Best R&B Single by a Male, for "You Make Me Wanna" He also earned a Grammy nomination, though one of the few blemishes on his young career came during the awards telecast when he inadvertently introduced Album of the Year award winner Bob Dylan as "Bill" before an international television audience. But for the most part, TV has been kind to the kid. In addition to numerous appearances on programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986) , Usher has also been a recurring character on the syndicated TV show Moesha (1996), which stars pop songstress Brandy Norwood. Usher appeared on several episodes as Jeremy Davis, a boarding-school student romantically involved with the show's title character.

With his cute boyish smile, that deelish bod, undeniable vocal and creative talents, and wicked dance moves, Usher has definitely made quite a niche for himself in the industry and in the hearts of his fans.


StarCraft

By Le Chupacabra

I 'm a full fledged console gamer and to be honest I really don't like playing games on the PC…at all. Infact, the last computer game I played was probably Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 or something older.

Despite my indifference to the PC gaming scene, it has one thing that completely sets it apart from consoles: RTS (Real Time Strategy) Games. Among the horde of excellent (and not so excellent) titles is one game that stands above the rest…way above the rest. That game is StarCraft.

StarCraft melds the tales of three mutually virulent races into one slobber-knocker of a deep-space story. The best part of this intergalactic opera is how it's presented. By playing as one faction you only see part of the whole story. By playing through each, you get three unique perspectives that add up to tell a great yarn. The human Marines just want to colonize to survive with their ever-burgeoning population. The demented Zerg want to destroy all life and the ancient Protoss just want to be left alone. Yet while that's a pretty blunt summary, the actual story is more than a sum of its parts. Subject matter from political intrigue to a simple friendship is treated in such a way that the whole StarCraft universe has this gritty, 'real' feel about it. Combined with shocking twists, enigmatic characters and dark humour, it was obvious gamers would love the story of StarCraft.

However, the biggest draw of StarCraft is its utterly addictive game-play. Each race is completely unique and while they may share common unit types like carriers and stuff, no combat unit has a true counterpart. You can argue that the Protoss Dragoon is the equivalent of a Terran Goliath but put them up against each other and you'll be having Dragoon chops for dinner. This lack of 'rock-paper-scissors'-style game-play (as it's known as) makes the game tense and quite thrilling. You have to constantly adapt to the enemy forces and their tactics. If you think using anti-air units against those Zerg flying-bat-thingies (for lack of a better name…I forgot the actual one) is going to help you win you're sadly mistaken. These winged critters are scarily effective when it comes to taking down land targets. Even your air units won't be effective. So the best strategy here is constantly changing your strategy. Having a varied fighting force helps. It pays to think, too! You can lure in the enemy by using some Terran marines as cannon fodder and then surround them with Goliaths and Vultures. Classic deathtrap! Glory be to virtual bloodbaths! If you're Zerg the best way to win is with your overwhelming numbers. The phrase 'Zerg rush' is greatly feared by the RTS fan and has gone down in the annals of gaming history along with 'pwn3d' and 'fragged'. Hehe. Good times.

The graphics are completely archaic by today's standards but the beauty lies in the details and art direction. The Zerg are horrendous to look at and really give the Aliens (from the movie 'Aliens' no less) a run for their money. Each level looks great from the Zen-like Protoss homeworld to the corrupt Zerg planet. The cinema sequences that tie the story together (there's a lot of in-game story pouting too) are nicely done and go well with the gritty flavour of the whole game. A nice touch (it was a new thing back then) is how the HUD (heads-up display) is different for the three factions.

The voice-acting is pretty good too. All the characters sound great and people fondly remember the taunts they heard whenever they clicked on a specific character. The Goliath's metallic "Goliath online!" taunt happens to be a fan-fave. Click on a unit too many times and it'll retort snappily. Damn censors.

Look at this! I'm actually praising a PC game...I must be sick or something.

Jokes aside, regardless of your gaming allegiance this has to be said: StarCraft is a game that's rightfully brilliant, engrossing, epic and dare I say it…Legendary. And if you think the single player mode is fun, wait till you try online multi-player…


The Red Planet

by Asif Rayhan Rasha

MARS is a wonder in the world of astronomy and is commonly referred as the RED planet. It is the next planet from our Earth, fourth planet from the sun and its rocks, soil and sky have a red or pink hue. The distinct red color has been observed by the star watchers throughout the history. It was given its name by the Romans in honor of their god of war.

Geologist Robots
Due to rapid improvement in our technology, we are well equipped with instrument to

keep going study on planets, stars and others. So finally, NASA launched a project (mission Mars) to discover Mars (most of us already know it) by the help of twin robot geologist; Rover, Spirit an extravagant discovery.

Rover Spirit is a wonderful piece of Artificial intelligence and equipped with lots of instruments to analyze rocks and soils on the Martian surface and perform tasks and pass the information to NASA giving opportunity to understand the red planet.

Rover's Mission
Though there is no liquid water on the surface of Mars today, but from the rocks, minerals, and geological landforms, particularly in those that can only form in the presence of water.

MARS Statistics
Mass (kg) 6.421e+23
Mass (Earth = 1) 1.0745e-01
Equatorial radius (km) 3,397.2
Equatorial radius (Earth = 1) 5.3264e-01
Mean density (gm/cm^3) 3.94
Mean distance from the Sun (km) 227,940,000
Mean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1) 1.5237
Rotational period (hours) 24.6229
Rotational period (days) 1.025957
The average recorded temperature on Mars is -63° C with a maximum temperature of 20° C and a minimum of -140° C.
The red sky of Mars also displays two moons, Phobos and Deimos.
The information is collected from discovery programs, encyclopedias, and websites.

That's why the rovers are specially equipped with tools to study a diverse collection of rocks and soils that may hold clues to past water activity on Mars.

Understanding the history of water on Mars is important to meeting the four science goals of NASA's long-term Mars Exploration Program. These are:

Determine whether life ever arose in Mars.
Differentiate the climate of Mars.
Differentiate the geology of Mars.
Prepare for Human exploration and further.

Atmospheric Description
The atmosphere of Mars is quite different from the Earth. The atmosphere is mainly composed of carbon dioxide with a little amount of other gases. The presence of carbon dioxide mostly proves the inexistence of any living thing, but not clearly.

Martian air contains only about 1/1,000 as much water as our air, but even this small amount can condense out, forming clouds that ride high in the atmosphere or swirl around the slopes of towering volcanoes. Local patches of early morning fog can form in valleys. At the Viking Lander 2 site, a thin layer of water frost covered the ground each winter.

It's quite hard to stop describing Mars because as the more you describe, more topics to discuss comes up. If you want to know more, mail me at (asifrayhan@yahoo.com).

 

 
 

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