News Allan Umscheid, owner of Yards By Al in Lawrence, Kan, feels the bitter wind and catches drifting snow on his face as he runs a snow blower early morning

With Arctic winds plummeting temperatures to  -50C, much of North America has shut down as authorities warn of the life-threatening freeze

Leslie Nielsen, the comic actor who never cracked a smile

Geoffrey Macnab mourns the deadpan star of Airplane and Police Squad!

Unstoppable: Disaster movies that are a runaway success

As Unstoppable goes on release, Geoffrey Macnab explores the thrill an out-of-control train brings to the screen

US turns to king of the disaster movie for its happy ending

The American government may be turning to Hollywood in its desperate search for an end to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, but even if the director involved is James Cameron no one is assuming a happy ending.

2012 (12A)

Roland Emmerich, 158 mins

Spoofs? Don't make us laugh

The latest crop of parody films has marred the genre

Album: Patterson Hood, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs), Ruth St Records/ATO

The Drive-By Truckers' creative mainspring springs no surprises on his debut solo album, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs) carrying on where the DBTs' magisterial 2008 album Brighter Than Creation's Dark left off.

Disaster Movie (12A)

Disaster Movie isn't so much a film as an insult to cinema-goers everywhere. I know I should really ignore a product which is nothing more than a splinter scraped from the bottom of the Hollywood barrel, but it's the second film its writer-directors have had out this year. The guilty parties are Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the same dud duo who excreted Date Movie, Epic Movie and March's Meet the Spartans, and for sheer crappiness they've excelled themselves: their latest soul-sapping "spoof" is rightly ranked on imdb.com as the worst film ever.

Theatrical turn from the heroic lead

If Hurricane Gustav is turning into a real-life version of a Hollywood disaster movie then Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, has cast himself firmly in the role of heroic lead male.

Flood, ITV<br/>Midnight Man, ITV<br/>Shrink Rap, More 4<br/>Clarissa and the King's Cookbook, BBC4

The Thames rose and we watched, helpless, as writers' careers sank: ITV had a week of disasters, and James Nesbitt as a reporter fighting dark forces did little to turn it round

10,000 BC (12A)

Roland Emmerich's junk epic promises an odyssey "into a mythical age of prophecies and gods, when spirits rule the land and mighty mammoths shake the earth" – which sounds like a Spinal Tap concept album but plays more like a junior and less gory version of Apocalypto.

Cloverfield, 15

Monster takes Manhattan, as posted on YouTube: It has shaky footage, jerky cuts, no stars, and you barely see the creature causing all the terror. But believe the hype: this is a truly scary movie

Joel Hirschhorn

Oscar-winning songwriter with Al Kasha

Good Scene / Bad Scene

Chosen by Michael Bay, director of 'Bad Boys 2'
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War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot