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What a Wonderful World

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Wachowski Brothers Reload

Matrix: Reloaded is the number one hit at the box-office this summer. But many are asking: just who are the directors of the film, the Wachowski Brothers? They have refused all press interviews since the release of the first part of The Matrix in 1999. And the official Warner Bros. biography simply says that, "Little is known about them."

Andy (35) and Larry (37) Wachowski are both college dropouts from Chicago. For years, the Polish-Americans wrote comic strips and horror scripts while supporting themselves by doing carpentry and house painting. The producer of The Matrix films, Joel Silver, met the brothers when making Sylvester Stallone's action thriller, Assassins, the first script written by the Wachowskis, in 1995. They showed him the script of The Matrix, which they had written a few years before. "They said that they wanted to direct the film themselves.

But film studios didn't want to know as they had no experience at all behind the camera." But Larry and Andy persevered. They directed the low-budget Bound in 1996, which went on to become a minor cult hit. That is when Warner Bros. became interested. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Matrix went on to make $460 million worldwide. Keanu Reeves, who plays Neo in the movie, says that the mysterious brothers have an almost uncanny understanding of each other. "You can go to either of them separately and ask a question, and more often than not, they will agree and tell you exactly the same thing." Producer, Joel Silver, agrees. "They are like one brain in two bodies."

Is a Bare Head Better Than a Bearskin?

Ever wondered what that thing is on the heads of the Queen's Foot Guards as they stand outside Buckingham Palace? Well, it's a hat. Honestly! It is made from the skin of a Canadian bear. The Sovereign's Guards have been wearing this strange, and very hot, headwear for over two centuries. But now, to appease animal rights campaigners, the search is on for a synthetic alternative.

The hat is called a "bearskin" and was first worn by the Foot Guards in recognition of their defeat to the French Imperial Guard in 1815. The French in those days wore the skin of the Ursus Americanus, or Canadian black bear, so the British army copied them. Today, about 2,500 bearskins are in active service with the Grenadier, Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Coldstream Guards regiments.

The Queen, however, receives thousands of letters every year complaining that the skin of a Canadian bear should be left on the bear, and not put on the head of a British soldier. So, the British army has been searching for a "fun fur" alternative. But it isn't easy. "We have tried artificial fibers, but nothing works," says the unusually named army spokesman, Lieutenant Col. Peter Dick-Peter. "Nylon alternatives look too red in the sunshine, look too spiky when it rains, and produce too much static electricity in strong winds," complained Dick-Peter. So, for now, the British are sticking with the bear. If you think you would like one of these regimental fashion statements, then one hat will cost you around 400 pounds.

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