Sideshow: South By Southwest kicks off with Interactive, Film, and sports festivals

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died calmly, says his friend and cameraman.
"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died calmly, says his friend and cameraman. (BOB PEPPING / Contra Costa Times)
Posted: March 12, 2014

Dan DeLuca from SXSW

South by Southwest kicked off in Austin, Texas, over the weekend, with its Interactive and Film festivals first. Statistics whiz Nate Silver and Grantland founder and hoops analyst Bill Simmons discussed sports tech at a panel for the SXsports segment.

"A scientist is just a kid who never grew up," said astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson at his SXSW keynote Saturday with journalist Christie Nicholson. The host of the TV series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which debuted on Fox Sunday night, Tyson held 3,500 attendees rapt in an engaging, funny hour-plus talk. Since Tilda Swinton's vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive was sold out, I went to see Darius Clark Monroe's Evolution of a Criminal, having its world premiere down the street. The film, which took seven years to make, is an autobiographical documentary about how Monroe, as a 16-year-old honor student, robbed a bank in his hometown of Houston. Exec producer Spike Lee was at the screening and said, "Darius is a great story. . . . Young brothers are lost. They need to see something visually that's the antithesis of that rap stuff, some of it not all of it, that glamorizes that lifestyle."

But the real rock star of SXSW was beamed in from Russia on Monday at noon: NSA leaker Edward Snowden, talking about Internet privacy. My article on his talk appears on Page A1 of Tuesday's Inquirer.

(Follow Dan DeLuca's SXSW updates on his blog "In the Mix":

Steve Irwin's last words

Naturalist Steve Irwin's friend and cameraman Justin Lyons set the Web ablaze Monday with new details about the Aussie TV star's 2006 death from a stingray attack.

"We found a massive stingray . . . almost 8 feet [long], so it was very impressive," Lyons tells Australian news show Studio 10. "Stingrays are normally very calm," and the filming went well, Lyons said.

Until the final shot. "I thought this was going to be a great shot and all of a sudden it propped up on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes within a few seconds, they're incredibly powerful animals."

It was over before he knew it, said Lyons, who was shocked to see Irwin standing in a pool of blood. "He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, 'I'm dying.' "

Jennie Garth goes self-help

Self-help books never appealed to Jennie Garth. That is, until she wrote one herself.

"I was the first person to roll my eyes at that stuff, and now I realize it's important," says the author of Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde, a memoir-slash-guide to self-love published last week. Garth, 41, tells her painful second divorce, from Peter Facinelli, forced her to reevaluate her life.

She learned much and she shares it in the book. "I try to teach other people to love themselves and take care of themselves," Garth says. "That is the one good thing about divorce: I have time to actually be with myself."

Gossip petits fours

Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol's baby's papa Levi Johnston will compete next year in the infamously tough Iron Dog snowmobile race in Alaska, says TMZ. His goal: To crush Sarah's husband Todd, who races every year.


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