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Keys, lightbulbs tied to Thomas Edison sell at auction

Keys to the New Jersey lab where Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and some of the lightbulbs that he perfected sold for more than $60,000 at auction on Saturday.

The keys sold for $10,625 at an auction run by Heritage Auctions in Dallas. A bulb created by a German inventor who claimed to have invented the incandescent lightbulb before Edison did was sold for $23,750, while a set of five Edison bulbs used in a court case sold for $30,000.

The items were acquired by Charlie Knudsen, 69, of Pittsburgh, and had belonged to his great-aunt. She was married to one of the attorneys whose law firm represented Edison in patent lawsuits.

Tags on some of the keys list the doors that they opened, including Edison's 1876 lab that became known as the "invention factory." Another key says "motor shed," and a third "shop."

Edison had applied for about 400 patents, including improvements to the incandescent bulb, before he left for New York City in 1882, said Kathleen Carlucci, director of the Thomas Edison Center in New Jersey.

The lab itself was built by Edison's father about 30 miles northeast of Trenton and was the world's largest in its day. Carlucci said it also was "the first research and development facility."

The bulbs up for auction were part of a collection used in patent infringement lawsuits. "One bulb in particular was used in a case where he (Edison) was able to prove he had a patent," Knudsen said.

After making lightbulbs commercially viable, the "Wizard of Menlo Park" turned his attention to New York City where he worked to develop an electric utility.

Squatters took over the abandoned Menlo Park property, raising chickens and crops, Carlucci said. Local residents held dances in the lab.

Today, Menlo Park is a national historic site and a state park. None of the original buildings remain, but a museum and education center highlight Edison's accomplishments.

A 131-foot memorial tower to commemorate his work on the lightbulb stands on the site. It was restored last year and its 14-foot tall replica bulb shines in the night.

Keys, lightbulbs tied to Thomas Edison sell at auction

Keys to the New Jersey lab where Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and some of the lightbulbs that he perfected sold for more than $60,000 at auction on Saturday.

The keys sold for $10,625 at an auction run by Heritage Auctions in Dallas. A bulb created by a German inventor who claimed to have invented the incandescent lightbulb before Edison did was sold for $23,750, while a set of five Edison bulbs used in a court case sold for $30,000.

The items were acquired by Charlie Knudsen, 69, of Pittsburgh, and had belonged to his great-aunt. She was married to one of the attorneys whose law firm represented Edison in patent lawsuits.

Tags on some of the keys list the doors that they opened, including Edison's 1876 lab that became known as the "invention factory." Another key says "motor shed," and a third "shop."

Edison had applied for about 400 patents, including improvements to the incandescent bulb, before he left for New York City in 1882, said Kathleen Carlucci, director of the Thomas Edison Center in New Jersey.

The lab itself was built by Edison's father about 30 miles northeast of Trenton and was the world's largest in its day. Carlucci said it also was "the first research and development facility."

The bulbs up for auction were part of a collection used in patent infringement lawsuits. "One bulb in particular was used in a case where he (Edison) was able to prove he had a patent," Knudsen said.

After making lightbulbs commercially viable, the "Wizard of Menlo Park" turned his attention to New York City where he worked to develop an electric utility.

Squatters took over the abandoned Menlo Park property, raising chickens and crops, Carlucci said. Local residents held dances in the lab.

Today, Menlo Park is a national historic site and a state park. None of the original buildings remain, but a museum and education center highlight Edison's accomplishments.

A 131-foot memorial tower to commemorate his work on the lightbulb stands on the site. It was restored last year and its 14-foot tall replica bulb shines in the night.

Elton John Denies Retirement Rumors

Elton John has refuted a British tabloid report saying that he was going to hang it up when he turns 70 next year.

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"Rogue One" director Gareth Edwards has a cameo in the film

Director Gareth Edwards says he gave himself a cameo in the "Star Wars" spinoff "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." But, as with most things "Star Wars," Edwards is staying mum on what exactly that entails.

The reveal, he said, might have to wait for the DVD extras.

Edwards is a self-proclaimed "Star Wars" super fan and has said that as a child he used to watch the first 10 minutes of the 1977 "Star Wars" every day before school.

"Rogue One" is set right before the events of that original film and chronicles the saga of the rebels who steal the plans for the Death Star. Arriving in theaters on Dec. 16, "Rogue One" is the first in a series of spinoffs set inside the universe of "Star Wars."

"Rogue One" director Gareth Edwards has a cameo in the film

Director Gareth Edwards says he gave himself a cameo in the "Star Wars" spinoff "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." But, as with most things "Star Wars," Edwards is staying mum on what exactly that entails.

The reveal, he said, might have to wait for the DVD extras.

Edwards is a self-proclaimed "Star Wars" super fan and has said that as a child he used to watch the first 10 minutes of the 1977 "Star Wars" every day before school.

"Rogue One" is set right before the events of that original film and chronicles the saga of the rebels who steal the plans for the Death Star. Arriving in theaters on Dec. 16, "Rogue One" is the first in a series of spinoffs set inside the universe of "Star Wars."

Country artist Granger Smith breaks ribs after stage fall

Country music artist Granger Smith was able to continue performing after falling from a stage in New Jersey, but was later hospitalized.

A spokeswoman said in a statement Smith shared on Twitter that he fell while singing at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Friday night.

Smith was being treated for two broken ribs and a punctured and partially collapsed lung.

Smith was standing on an audio monitor when it gave way and he fell into a metal barricade. He got back up and continued performing.

He says he took a pretty hard spill but hopes to be out of the hospital soon to head home to his family in Texas.

Shows this weekend in North Carolina and Texas were canceled. Information about future shows will be released later.

Country artist Granger Smith breaks ribs after stage fall

Country music artist Granger Smith was able to continue performing after falling from a stage in New Jersey, but was later hospitalized.

A spokeswoman said in a statement Smith shared on Twitter that he fell while singing at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Friday night.

Smith was being treated for two broken ribs and a punctured and partially collapsed lung.

Smith was standing on an audio monitor when it gave way and he fell into a metal barricade. He got back up and continued performing.

He says he took a pretty hard spill but hopes to be out of the hospital soon to head home to his family in Texas.

Shows this weekend in North Carolina and Texas were canceled. Information about future shows will be released later.

Teyana Taylor advises Kanye on recovery: "Take your time"

Teyana Taylor has some practical advice for her mentor Kanye West.

The singer-dancer, who has performed with the Grammy-winning artist, wants him to take his time recovering.

"Take however much time you need, you know. Time heals all," Taylor told The Associated Press on the red carpet Friday for the "VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night" show.

"He's a workaholic. He worked his (expletive) off. And if he needs to get his mind right, then I think everybody should respect that and let him do that," Taylor said.

Last month, West was hospitalized in Los Angeles after displaying erratic and angry behavior. It forced him to cancel the remaining 21 dates on his tour.

Taylor said she's stayed in touch with West.

"I sure have. That's what family is supposed to do. He definitely knows that his friends and his family's in his corner for sure," Taylor said.

Taylor and West won best dance performance at the Soul Train Awards for "Fade."

The 25-year-old singer-dancer is the newest member of the VH1 Divas club, performing with Mariah Carey, Vanessa Williams, Chaka Kahn, and Patti Labelle.

"Patti and (the others) told me I was a diva in training. So they're teaching me the ropes right now, so that's always a good look"

___

Follow John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci

Teyana Taylor advises Kanye on recovery: "Take your time"

Teyana Taylor has some practical advice for her mentor Kanye West.

The singer-dancer, who has performed with the Grammy-winning artist, wants him to take his time recovering.

"Take however much time you need, you know. Time heals all," Taylor told The Associated Press on the red carpet Friday for the "VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night" show.

"He's a workaholic. He worked his (expletive) off. And if he needs to get his mind right, then I think everybody should respect that and let him do that," Taylor said.

Last month, West was hospitalized in Los Angeles after displaying erratic and angry behavior. It forced him to cancel the remaining 21 dates on his tour.

Taylor said she's stayed in touch with West.

"I sure have. That's what family is supposed to do. He definitely knows that his friends and his family's in his corner for sure," Taylor said.

Taylor and West won best dance performance at the Soul Train Awards for "Fade."

The 25-year-old singer-dancer is the newest member of the VH1 Divas club, performing with Mariah Carey, Vanessa Williams, Chaka Kahn, and Patti Labelle.

"Patti and (the others) told me I was a diva in training. So they're teaching me the ropes right now, so that's always a good look"

___

Follow John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci

Semper (and suffer) Fidel: Artists conflicted about Castro

As a prominent advocate for human rights, the poet Rose Styron knew well the abuses in Fidel Castro's Cuba and the censorship of artists and publications with dissenting views. But when she and her husband, author William Styron, were invited to meet him in 2000 she didn't hesitate to accept.

"He was an interesting, controversial, obviously very intelligent and charismatic figure," she says of Castro, who died Nov. 25 at age 90. "And in the back of my head, I was also thinking there might be a way to persuade him not to put people in prison for free speech."

For the Styrons and other artists, Castro was a contradiction they never quite resolved, a man equally hard to embrace or to ignore. He was the bold revolutionary who defied the U.S. government and inspired the left worldwide and the long-winded despot who drove out Eliseo Alberto, Daina Chaviano and other prominent writers and reminded artists of the right-wing leaders they had traditionally opposed.

But Castro was intriguing to the creative community in part because he was intrigued in return. Ernest Hemingway fished with him. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were early visitors after Castro took power in 1959 and Gabriel Garcia Marquez a longtime supporter. Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and other jazz musicians performed in Cuba. Norman Mailer, who met Castro in the late 1980s, would list him along with Charlie Chaplin, Muhammad Ali and Ezra Pound as among the four great geniuses he knew personally.

Many had mixed feelings. "Ironweed" novelist William Kennedy shared happy memories of speaking for hours with Castro when both were at the home of Garcia Marquez, but also called some of his actions "abhorrent." Harry Belafonte discussed everything from rap music to Hollywood movies with Castro, but could never fully accept him.

"Fidel was so charismatic, his energy so powerful, his legacy in some ways so admirable, in other ways so sad," Belafonte wrote in his memoir "My Song," published in 2011. "I genuinely liked him, but I can't say he was my role model."

Belafonte and others followed a similar pattern with Castro, initial exhilaration over the Cuban revolution giving way to disillusion, if not outright rejection. Todd Tietchen, author of "The Cubalogues: Beat Writers in Revolutionary Havana," says that Allen Ginsberg and other poets were drawn to the "politics of style — beards, berets, long hair" that Castro and his ally Ernesto "Che" Guevara helped personify. But while visiting in the mid-1960s, Ginsberg saw gays rounded up and sent to work camps. He quickly, and publicly, became a government critic.

"He called Castro's heterosexuality in question, confessed that he wanted to sleep with Che, and challenged the Castro government to invite The Beatles to play a national concert in Cuba as he thought the band's long hair and their 'high tender voices' might insert some much-needed androgyny into the island's culture," Tietchen says. "When Castro finally had enough, he had Ginsberg seized and placed on the next plane out of Cuba."

When the Styrons arrived in 2000, their entourage included Garcia Marquez and playwright Arthur Miller, who would describe their time with Castro in a long essay published in The Nation. Miller, who died in 2005, wrote that he had anticipated a stale affair in the spirit of his encounters with Eastern European leaders.

"I expected to have to do a lot of agreeable nodding in silence to statements manifestly silly if not at times idiotic," he explained in his essay. "Unelected leaders and their outriders are unusually sensitive to contradiction, and the experience of their company can be miserably boring."

Rose Styron noted that she had attempted to visit Cuba before, on behalf of Amnesty International, but the government rejected her application for a visa. When she finally saw Castro, she was surprised by the neatness of his appearance, a well-tailored suit and not the fatigues of his earlier years.

Castro's guests dined on "fantastic shrimp and spectacular pork, dream pork," Miller wrote. The meal wasn't boring, but it was long and exhausting. For hours, Castro expounded about the world, whether the CIA or the intransience of the Russians. He had clearly kept track of his guests' whereabouts earlier in the day and found time to tease Styron about her visit with a local dissident.

"He said, 'I know that from 2 to 3 you went to the park and from 3 to 4 you went to the museum,'" Styron says. "Then he asked, 'What did you do from 5 to 6? Were you shopping?'"

By 2 a.m., Garcia Marquez was apparently sleeping and Castro's underlings fighting to stay awake. With the leader "in full flight, borne aloft by a kind of manic enthusiasm," Miller summoned enough courage and energy to tell his host that he had had enough.

"I raised my hand and said, 'Please, Mr. President, forgive me, but when we arrived you will recall that you said I was 11 years, five months and 14 days older than you,'" Miller wrote. "I paused, struck by his sudden brow-lifted look of surprise or even some small apprehension at the interruption. 'It is now 15 days.'"

Castro laughed and sent everyone home.

Recalls Styron: "His cabinet did everything but stand up and cheer."

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