Tuesday, October 30, 2007

3rd\SE Quadrant 11/5 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of November 5, 2007


Jeff Smith, the award-winning creator of BONE, tells the story of young orphan Billy Batson who finds himself transformed into the World's Mightiest Mortal whenever he says the magic word "Shazam!" after being granted the magical powers of the gods by an ancient wizard. In this hardcover collecting the acclaimed 4-issue miniseries, Billy must use these extraordinary abilities to face an invasion of alien creatures as well as stop mad scientist Dr. Sivana and his Monster Society of Evil from taking over the world! (DC Comics)

Job posted on his blog Jog Likes Comics, "So I read the new book, and it was pretty neat."

"Kid Nation"

Despite her horrible record of failing to make the yellow team perform their assigned tasks, Taylor is arrogantly confident of keeping her job.

"Zach does not have any chance of beating me,"Taylor said smugly,"because I have all five girls on my side."

Zach will have none of it, and runs aggressively on a "clean up this town" platform, reasoning he can win if he can sway just one girl.

And Zach defeated Taylor for the Yellow district seat by a one-vote margin. (Get Real)

"Kid Nation" is a reality television show hosted by Jonathan Karsh that premiered on the CBS network on September 19, 2007 and airs Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. The show features 40 children aged 8 to 15. In the show, the children try to create a functioning society, including setting up a government system with minimal adult help and supervision. The show stresses the difficulty in creating a viable society. At the end of each episode, an elected council of kids awards the Gold Star, worth $20,000, to a fellow participant. Participants were paid $5,000 for their involvement in the show's taping. (Wikipedia)

Mendoza Diagonal

Mookie - A very interesting approach to analyzing the correct amount of hotness a woman must have to overcome her craziness. The concept, of course, being that the crazier a woman is, the hotter she must be to overlook it. It was analyzed using the HCS (Hot-Crazy Scale) on How I Met Your Mother. After considering all factors and plotting them on the graph, the side that a crazy woman falls on the Vickie Mendoza Diagonal would scientifically determine whether the relationship is worth pusuing.

In a nutshell, Hot is on the Y axis and crazy on the X axis. The line starts from 0 with a slope of 1. Basically plot where the girl lies on the graph (crazy, hot) and determine on which side she falls on the Vickie Mendoza Diagonal.

2nd Avenue Deli

The 2nd Avenue Deli may reopen in a new location farther uptown near Third Avenue, a year after the landmark restaurant closed its doors in the East Village, depriving the city of what had been its best corned-beef sandwich. The Lebewohl family, who owned the deli for more than 50 years, until a rent dispute with a new landlord shut it down last year, is now expecting to close on the purchase of a building in Murray Hill, where a spokesman for the family said it plans to open a new delicatessen. (The New York Sun)

The following was previously posted on Eater: It looks like the famed 2nd Ave. Deli will definitely be reopening at 162 E. 33rd St according to a reliable confirmation received in the form of a communique from a trusted correspondent:

Me: You still making deliveries?
Driver: Nah man, soon. soon tho.
Me: Really? They are reopening?
Driver: Yeah.
Me: Where?
Driver: Thirty Third and Third
Me: Wow! How long?
Driver: Soon man. Soon.
Me: How soon?
Driver: Oh, I say five months.

Coheed and Cambria

Coheed and Cambria recently performed (Friday, October 19th) at CMJ '07.

Elizabeth Cline of New York wrote about show, "The encore, meanwhile — which came after a typically terrific, anthem-packed show — emphasized the band’s prog-rock leanings. It was devoted entirely to jamming: Sanchez soloed with the guitar behind his head and on a theremin; Travis Stever blew on the mouth harp; and the band’s new drummer, Chris Pennie, earned his keep with some insane off-tempo, double-bass drum rolls. The teenage fans were left seeming a little slack-jawed — but Aunt Antonia could not have been better honored."

Coheed and Cambria is a progressive rock band from Nyack, New York and Kingston, New York. Coheed and Cambria have released four studio albums, two live albums, and various special-edition re-releases. Their albums are concept albums, revealing the plot of an overarching storyline, The Amory Wars. (Wikipedia)

Our Dumb World:
The Onion's Atlas of The Planet Earth,
73rd Edition

Book Description: Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of The Planet Earth, 73rd Edition features incorrect statistics on all of the Earth's 168, 182, or 196 independent nations. It also features maps, including a fold-out world map at actual size. Readers will learn about every country from Afghanistan ... to the Ukraine, "The Bridebasket of Europe."Today's news-parody consumer cannot possibly understand made-up current events without the context of fake world history and geography. That is why The Onion is publishing a world atlas: to help us. Our Dumb World is an invaluable tool for any reader interested in overthrowing a weakened government in East Asia, exploiting a developing nation in Africa, or for directions to tonight's party at Erica's. It is a reference guide to 250,000 of the world's most important places, such as North Korea's Trench of Victory, the Great Human Pyramid of Egypt...(Amazon)

No nation is safe when The Onion's hard-hitting cartographic team is on the job."

2nd\NE Quadrant 11/5 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of November 5, 2007

"The Night Tourist"

Book Description: Jack Perdu, a ninth grade classics prodigy, lives his with father on the Yale University campus. Smart and introverted, Jack spends most of his time alone, his nose buried in a book. But one winter evening, a near-fatal accident changes Jack's life forever. His father sends him to see a mysterious doctor in New York City--a place Jack hasn't visited since his mother died there eight years ago. In Grand Central Terminal, he meets Euri, a girl who offers to show him the train station's hidden places--the ones only true urban explorers really know about. Eight flights below the train station, however, Jack discovers more than just hidden tracks and mysterious staircases. He has stumbled upon New York's ghostly underworld. This, Jack believes, is his chance to see his mother again. But as secrets about Euri's past are revealed, so are the true reasons for Jack's visit to the underworld. Masterfully told, The Night Tourist weaves Classical mythology together with New York's secret history and modern-day landscape to create a magical adventure, full of unexpected twists and page-turning action. (Amazon)

It is a great read, one that I think middle school students will enjoy. This story has clear connections to the Orpheus myth and there are many references to mythology throughout. But for readers who are not familiar with the myth, this book would still be a treat."

The rights to the book were bought by Universal. (Cinematical)

Benny Carter

Jazz at Lincoln Center kicked off its season [October, 19 2007] with the centennial salute to the alto saxophonist, trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader who earned the title "the Renaissance man of jazz." (News Day)

Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was a major figure in jazz from the 1930s to the 1990s, and was recognized as such by other jazz musicians who called him King. Carter was admired for his ability to write saxophone solis, which are sections of music that are played by the whole saxophone section as one unit in the manner of a harmonized solo. As a youth, Carter lived in Harlem around the corner from Bubber Miley who was Duke Ellington's star trumpeter. Carter was inspired by Miley and bought a trumpet, but when he found he couldn't play like Miley he traded the trumpet in for a saxophone. (Wikipedia)

“The Brothers Size”

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times wrote in his review, "Tarell Alvin McCraney, a third-year student at the Yale School of Drama, is one of the few playwrights in the Under the Radar festival who is actually under the radar — but not for long."

“The Brothers Size,” his absorbing and emotionally resonant drama set in the bayou country of Louisiana and loosely based on West African myths, is decidedly the work of a young writer. But there is evidence in his richly drawn characters and colloquial poetry, which manages to sound both epic and rooted in a specific place, to suggest that he has a long career ahead of him."

The Brothers Size is an allegory for lost time and regret. It is an ardent celebration of tradition with a loose structure that seats us inside the action. It is cerebral, spiritual, and innovative. If you're looking for a nice departure from the standard theatrical form, you'll find it here, beautiful in its vibrations and timbre."

"A Psychic Vacuum"

Artist Mike Nelson transforms the disused interior of the Essex Street Market in NYC’s Lower East Side, taking audiences on an unexpected journey through reconstructed rooms, passageways, and meticulously assembled environments of his installation titled "A Psychic Vacuum." Inspired by the building’s history, the surrounding neighborhood, literary and cultural references, and the current social climate in the United States, the project comes to life via materials gleaned from local salvage yards and debris from the market’s heyday. (Creative)

Scott Lachut of Cool Hunting posted, "All of Nelson's carefully selected details create a running narrative that at once interprets the (now endangered) character of the neighborhood as a relic forgotten as the days pass by, while at the same time revering it as a still vital participant in the flow of daily life happening on these streets."

The show was free, and ran from September 8 - October 28 at The Old Essex Street Market.
(Photo courtesy of Charlie Samuels)

A Time to Keep Silence

... in A Time to Keep Silence, Leigh Fermor writes about a more inward journey, describing his several sojourns in some of Europe's oldest and most venerable monasteries. He stays at the Abbey of St. Wandrille, a great repository of art and learning; at Solesmes, famous for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of La Grande Trappe, where monks take a vow of silence. Finally, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike landscape, where he seeks some trace of the life of the earliest Christian anchorites. More than a history or travel journal, however, this beautiful short book is a meditation on the meaning of silence and solitude for modern life.
(The New York Review of Books)

Prose lapidary and evocative enough to please even the hardiest skeptic.
— The Washington Post

Edmund Wilson Essays

With this inaugural volume of what will be a series devoted to Edmund Wilson's work, The Library of America pays tribute to the writer who first conceived the idea of a publishing series dedicated to "bringing out in a complete and compact form the principal American classics." Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1920s and 30s presents Wilson in the extraordinary first phase of his career, participating in a cultural renaissance and grappling with the crucial issues of his era. (The Library of America)

Edmund Wilson (May 8, 1895 – June 12, 1972) was an American writer, noted chiefly for his literary criticism. Most literary experts considered Wilson the preeminent American literary critic of his day, and perhaps of the 20th century.

Edmund Wilson was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, and his father was a lawyer. He was educated first at The Hill School and then at Princeton from 1912-1916. He began his writing career as a reporter for the New York Sun, and served in the army during the First World War. He was the managing editor of Vanity Fair in 1920 and 1921, and later served as Associate Editor of The New Republic and a book reviewer for The New Yorker. His works influenced novelists Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, Floyd Dell and Theodore Dreiser, and he wrote plays, poems, and novels, but his strength was literary criticism. (Wikipedia)

Christopher Wheeldon's

Christopher Wheeldon, the dancer and founder of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, may well be the world’s most in-demand ballet choreographer.

Critics routinely praise his wit and imagination and point to his keen musicality, mastery of stage space and inventive partnering. His best-known works — the strange and stirring “Polyphonia” (2001) and “After the Rain” (2005) — gain their power through the force of their sensual shapes, lines and geometric forms. (Times Topics)

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company performed through Sunday [October 21, 2007] at City Center, 131 West 55th Street.

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company

Monday, October 29, 2007

1st\NW Quadrant 11/5 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of November 5, 2007


Dumbledore, it turns out, the wise and wizened wizard of “Harry Potter” fame, is taking his place alongside other media figures, like Bert and Ernie and Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies. For all, sexuality has become an issue. Dumbledore is, as his creator, J. K. Rowling, asserted at Carnegie Hall, gay. (New York Times)
(Photo courtesy of Murray Close/Warner Brothers Pictures)

Garrison Keillor Stalker

Garrison Keillor has gotten a restraining order against a Georgia woman he claims has made telephone calls and sent him explicit e-mails and disturbing gifts, including a petrified alligator foot and dead beetles. (Gawker)

“Young Frankenstein” Scalpers

“Young Frankenstein” is one of the biggest deals headed to Broadway so far in 2007-08. Top ticket prices will be $120, with some "premier" and "premium" seats priced at $450 and $375 per ticket. The New York Times reported that the $450 orchestra ticket price will apply to the 100 or so best seats in the house. At the time of the August 7 first preview in Seattle, the Broadway advance was already around $15 million. (BAM)

Scalpers may have over anticipated demand by raising the price too much, because there are seats still available during the previews.

Opening night is November 8 at the Broadway Hilton Theatre.

Nellie McKay

"The 24-Hour Plays" on Broadway is an annual benefit in which six one-acts are written, cast, directed and performed in less than a day. (24HourPlays)

Nellie McKay who is a British-born American singer-songwriter, actress and former stand-up comedian, served as musical guest. (Playbill)

She is noted for her critically-acclaimed debut album “Get Away from Me.” (Wikipedia)

Apparently, her performance during the "The 24-Hour Plays" was, “barely audible.” (NY Magazine)

Compañía Nacional de Danza

Spain’s acclaimed Compañía Nacional de Danza made its BAM debut from October 16th through 20th with three works of choreography of Artistic Director Nachio Duato: Por Vos Muero, Castrati, and White Darkness.

Deborah Jowitt of the Village Voice wrote that, “White Darkness deals with drug addiction, but there’s so little sordidness that, unless you read the program before seeing the piece, you mightn’t know that the white powder that, spotlit, pours down from above at various times and in various places onstage is meant to be heroin (or cocaine). It could be a miraculous blessing from heaven. People lie neatly down around a pool’s circumference to sleep, or kneel devoutly by another supply. A woman (Yolanda Martín), guided or guarded by a man (Dimo Kirilov) is fatally attracted to the substance; others hang her out over “their” pool; Martín and Kirilov pour small quantities of it between each other’s hands. In the end, several individuals are isolated by their craving in squares of light, and the white stuff rains down on Martín until she’s turned th color of ash. Kirilov walks out of her life.
(Photo courtesy of Jack Vartoogian)

Tomayo Painting

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's ``Tres Personajes,'' a 1970 painting vibrating with reds, yellows and purples, may fetch as much as $1 million at a Sotheby's auction on Nov. 20, the work's first public viewing since Elizabeth Gibson spied it in a mound of garbage on a Manhattan sidewalk. Gibson, a tall, blond 53-year-old resident of the Upper West Side, went out for a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning in 2003. She spotted a large painting poking out from among the garbage bags left on the sidewalk on West 72nd Street. In her pre-caffeinated haze, she kept walking.

``I'm all about de-cluttering, so why was I going to take it home?'' she recalled in an interview.

A few minutes and a cup of coffee later, Gibson returned to the trash pile, saw the painting and reconsidered. ``I saw it was a big painting,'' she said. ``It needed a sleek, large apartment.''

After finding a million-dollar painting in the trash, Gibson has reaped some gain herself. She collected a $15,000 reward from the owner as well as an undisclosed fee from Sotheby's. Her experiences have inspired her to begin writing a book. Uribe, meanwhile, is focused on the sale in November.

Tamayo, who died in 1991, remains one of the most sought- after Latin American artists. His 1955 ``America (Mural)'' fetched a record $2.59 million at Christie's International in New York in 1993.

Million Dollar Painting Found in Garbage

Thursday, October 25, 2007

4th\SW Quadrant 10/29 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 29, 2007

2nd Cab Strike

Yahoo! News - A second strike in six weeks by New York City cabbies did little to slow the city Monday, as familiar fleets of yellow cabs lined up as usual outside transportation hubs.

The cabbies called their second walkout to protest new rules requiring installation of equipment that would let passengers watch TV, pay with credit cards and check their location using a global-positioning system.

The taxi drivers say the technology is a costly invasion of their privacy and works erratically at best. The Taxi and Limousine Commission has said its tests showed the technology worked more than 99 percent of the time.

It wasn't immediately clear how many drivers were honoring the 24-hour strike. But the city said the vast majority of the city's 44,000 licensed taxi drivers were working.

Spice Girls @ Victoria's Secret

Richard Driver posted on Bloggingstocks that Billboard reported last night [October 16, 2007] that the new Spice Girls Greatest Hits album will be sold exclusively at Victoria's Secret stores, a division of Limited Brands, Inc. (NYSE: LTD), starting November 13, until it is released in other retail outlets starting January 15. According to the same report, fans will have a 24-hour period to pre-order the album from the Victoria's Secret website starting tonight at midnight. The album will also be available in digital stores from November 13, while the Spice Girls begin a worldwide tour in early December.

The deal that Capitol Music Group made with Victoria's Secret will also see the quintet performing at the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show," which will be broadcast by CBS (NYSE: CBS) on December 4.

"Transformers" MLB Game Ad

Sam posted on the blog Sam vs Kevin, "Not only is it underhanded, but it’s also intrusive. For example, during the 2007 baseball playoffs on FOX, instead of a normal screen wipe, a "Transformers" movie title would flash. Now granted, Transformers is a great piece of cinema, but it had no relation to anything else in the FOX broadcast. It was an artificially created spot for product placement where none should have been, and it detracted from the overall professional feel of the telecast."

"Samantha Who?"

Plot Outline: A psychiatrist suffers from amnesia and is forced to find out who she really is.

Ginia Bellanfante of the New York Times wrote in her review of "Samantha Who?," "The show works because Ms. Applegate is the kind of comic actress who could never be completely believable as a goody-two-shoes. She puts a healthy ironic distance between herself and that dreaded entity, the better person her character must become. You look in her eyes, and, happily, you see a recidivist."

ABC has full episodes of the show on its website.

"The Game Plan"

Plot Outline: An NFL quarterback living the bachelor lifestyle discovers that he has a 8-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Todd Gilchrist of IGN Movies said, "To paraphrase David Spade, I liked this movie the first time I saw it -- when it was called Kindergarten Cop," but Cynthia Fuchs PopMatters wrote, "You can't not like The Rock."

"The Game Plan" grossed $22.9 million in 3,103 theaters in its opening weekend and was the #1 movie at the U.S. and Canadian box office. The film was also the #1 movie in its second weekend, grossing $16.6 million. (Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

3rd\SE Quadrant 10/29 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 29, 2007

"We Own the Night"

Tagline: Two brothers on opposite sides of the law. Beyond their differences lies loyalty.

Plot Outline: A New York nightclub manager tries to save his brother and father from Russian mafia hit men. (IMDb)

Claudia Puig of USA TODAY said, "The theme of this absorbing crime drama centers on a simple idea: Blood is thicker than powder,"but Fred Topel of Can Magazine said, "Between the clubbers and the dealers, they only seem to be renting the night at best."
"We Own the Night" Trailer

"Dementia 13" Online

"Dementia 13" is a 1963 horror thriller. The film was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Although Coppola had been involved in at least two nudie films previously, Dementia 13 served as his first mainstream, "legitimate" directorial effort.

The plot follows a scheming young woman who, after having inadvertently caused the heart attack death of her husband, attempts to have herself written into her rich mother-in-law's will. She pays a surprise visit to her late husband's family castle in Ireland, but her plans become permanently interrupted by an axe-wielding lunatic who begins to stalk and murderously hack away at members of the family. (Wikipedia)

The film is being shown in its entirely on AMC's website as part of Monsterfest.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

Chris at Draven99 Musings said in his review of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Seasons 1 & 2 DVD, "I have seen the show described as "Seinfeld on crack." That is a pretty accurate description, if you cross it with the setting of Cheers, the single camera look of "Arrested Development," and some decidedly non-PC dialogue."

Darren Sirkin of TV Guide wrote, "The dialogue flows like good improvisation and the plotting is always clever and more complicated than you'd expect...," and A.J. Carson of TV DVD Reviews related, "They coast on attitude with clever dialogue and funny anti-social ideas taking the place of well-plotted scripts. Yes, the show is funny, but it doesn’t quite measure up to classic sitcoms. Still, the series is fun and unusual enough to warrant watching."

Dialogue examples:

  • "This is good; this is shady good, Frank."
  • "I'm good — go get us some slaves"
  • "I gotta get to Broadway, and welfare's the key"
  • "Quit being such a nancy boy."

"ROC BOYS (And the Winner Is)"

“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”

According to every pop-culture website in Internetland last night’s [October 11, 2007] 30 Rock was the funniest episode of the fall TV season so far. More specifically, “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” was one of the funniest segments in recent TV history. “Boys becoming men / men becoming wolves!” (Co-Ed Magazine\Steve of Seton Hall University)

The YouTube video has been removed by NBC, but the full episode (202) can be viewed here.


CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival took over New York City from October 16-20, 2007 with over 1,000 dynamic new artists, dozens of groundbreaking films and thousands of non-stop revelers! (CMJ)

College Music Journal, commonly known as CMJ, is a music events/publishing company most famous for its annual festival in New York City, the CMJ Music Marathon, as well as a weekly magazine of and for the music industry and college radio stations in the United States and Canada. CMJ also publishes CMJ New Music Monthly, a magazine with interviews, reviews, and special features. Each magazine comes with a CD of 15-24 songs by well-established bands, unsigned bands and everything in between. The staff puts together CMJ Music Marathon, a large convention and music festival, each autumn, in New York's Manhattan. (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

2nd\NE Quadrant 10/29 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 29, 2007

Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton"

Her [Tilda Swinton] character, Karen Crowder, is an attorney, lead counsel for a company that faces a $3 billion class-action lawsuit over a toxic agrochemical it manufactures. She is under enormous stress because so much is at stake and because she feels, as a woman and being new in the job, that she must be perfect.

We first see Karen falling apart in a restroom stall before a presentation — a scene that Clooney identifies as one of his favorites. It certainly grabs your attention, but Swinton builds the character in layers, from lots of tiny bits.

"That's my talent," she said after the groomers had been dismissed, going on to describe the "detective work" that goes into assembling the pieces of a character. "I thought that what I could provide is subtext," she said. (Houston Chronicle\Eric Harrison)

Plot Summary for "Michael Clayton": Michael Clayton is an in-house "fixer" at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. A former criminal prosecutor, Clayton takes care of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen's dirtiest work at the behest of the firm's co-founder Marty Bach. Though burned out and hardly content with his job as a fixer, his divorce, a failed business venture and mounting debt have left Clayton inextricably tied to the firm. At U/North, meanwhile, the career of litigator Karen Crowder rests on the multi-million dollar settlement of a class action suit that Clayton's firm is leading to a seemingly successful conclusion. But when Kenner Bach's brilliant and guilt-ridden attorney Arthur Edens sabotages the U/North case, Clayton faces the biggest challenge of his career and his life.
(Warner Bros. Pictures\via IMDb)

Matt Taibbi's Election Coverage

Matt Taibbi (born 1970) is an American journalist. Currently he works at Rolling Stone where he authors a column called "Road Rage" for the print version, and an additional weekly online-only column called "The Low Post." He is best known for his coverage of the 2004 US presidential election, and for his former editorial positions at newspapers the eXile, the New York Press, and the Beast. (Wikipedia)

Bill Watterson

Friday's The Wall Street Journal featured a review of "Schulz and Peanuts," David Michaelis's intermittently brilliant biography of Charlie Brown creator Charles M. Schulz. What makes this review notable above all the other recent reviews of this title is the author: Bill Watterson. Yes, that Bill Watterson: the famously reclusive creator of "Calvin and Hobbes," who shut down his strip in 1995 and disappeared so completely into his hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, that the Cleveland Scene made a great "Roger & Me"–style piece out of just trying to find the guy.

How much contact did the Journal's staff have with Watterson? Did edits go through the syndicate, or did someone get to talk to him on the phone? Lasswell [deputy books editor for the Journal] demurs from going into too much detail but does allow, "It was not something that required a lot of editing. Let's leave it at that." (New York)

"Gustav Mahler" Tags

A strange graffiti tag is being peppered across the city's east end.

For at least two weeks, somebody has been spray painting the name "Gustav Mahler" on several businesses in the areas of King Street East and surprisingly, on an old Gardiner Expressway pillar in the Lake Shore Boulevard East and Leslie Street area.

Why anyone would want to scrawl the moniker of the Austrian composer is baffling business owners who are stuck cleaning the culprit's mess.

Mahler was known as one of the leading orchestral and operatic conductors of his time. He was born into a Jewish-European family in Germany on July 7, 1860 and died on May 18, 1911. He completed nine symphonies, with his most famous works being "Songs of the Wayfarer," "Songs on the Death of Children" and "The Song of the Earth."(24 Hours)
(Photo of Mahler tag on the wall next to the Ontario Design Centre building, near King and Sherbourne courtesy of Flickr\Dave Till)

11,000-year-old Wall Painting

Reuters\via Yahoo News - French archaeologists have discovered an 11,000-year-old wall painting underground in northern Syria which they believe is the oldest in the world.

The 2 square-meter painting, in red, black and white, was found at the Neolithic settlement of Djade al-Mughara on the Euphrates, northeast of the city of Aleppo, team leader Eric Coqueugniot told Reuters.

"It looks like a modernist painting. Some of those who saw it have likened it to work by (Paul) Klee. Through carbon dating we established it is from around 9,000 B.C.," Coqueugniot said.

Monday, October 22, 2007

1st\NW Quadrant 10/29 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 29, 2007

Brian Stokes Mitchell

A venerable charity celebrated its 125th anniversary by inviting its president up onstage to sing a few songs. That could have been a recipe for a not-so-enchanting evening. But the Actors Fund is a unique organization, headed by the uniquely talented Brian Stokes Mitchell. The resulting evening at Carnegie Hall was a superb and memorable one.

Mitchell took control of the fabled stage with the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store. It's no secret that he sings better than just about any leading man of today; put him out in front of an audience with a good song, and nobody on Broadway can top him. (Variety)

Mitchell won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical in 2000 for "Kiss Me, Kate." (Wikipedia) (Picture courtesy of Variety)

Colorado Rockies in
World Series

When the Colorado Rockies woke up on the morning of Sept. 16 and looked at the National League wild-card standings, they trailed wild-card leader San Diego by 4½ games, and Philadelphia and the L.A. Dodgers each by three games. Plus, the Rockies were in the midst of a three-game losing streak in which they'd been outscored 29-12.

In other words, the Rockies were an afterthought, a playoff contender mathematically, but not realistically. Only a streak of historic proportions could propel them into the postseason.

Today, the Rockies are, unbelievably, the National League champions as winners of 21 of 22 games -- not only getting to the playoffs with a 14-1 run but also sweeping Philadelphia and Arizona in the first two rounds to join the 1976 Cincinnati Reds -- more famously known as "The Big Red Machine" -- as the only teams to win the first seven games of any postseason. (ESPN)

Imus Returns

Drudge Report Exclusive - In a dramatic and dazzling career rebound, controversial radio host Don Imus has secured a deal returning him to the airwaves on December 3 -- this time on the nation's most listened to talk station, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned!

"Imus In The Morning" will make a high-impact resurrection on WABC in New York City, top sources reveal.

"We'll have him on a standard 40-second delay," a studio source explains. "Don is rested, humbled, and ready for war!"

Specific terms of the deal will not be released, but the host, who was fired by CBS and MSNBC after making disparaging comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, has inked a eight-figure, multiyear contract with WABC parent company, CITADEL BROADCASTING.

But who will his GUESTS be?

Arthritic Cane Toads

Researchers have found that the cane toad, one of the most invasive species anywhere, is paying a price for conquering northern Australia. The toads are growing so big and hopping so rapidly into new territory that they are developing severe arthritis.

Cane toads, which are toxic to snakes and other animals that try to eat them, were introduced in Australia in the 1930s in an effort to control insects in sugar cane fields. (NY Times)

Clay Aiken as Sir Robin

From "American Idol" to Eric Idle's "Spamalot." Clay Aiken will join the Broadway cast of "Monty Python's Spamalot" on Jan. 18, playing one of the leads, Sir Robin, in the Tony Award-winning musical directed by Mike Nichols. "I really couldn't have asked for a more wonderful group of people to work with," said Aiken, who became a recording and concert star after his appearances on the TV series "American Idol." (Huffington Post)

Sir Robin is a purported Knight, noted for his extreme cowardice, of the Round Table whose standard is that of a chicken. He is known for having "nearly fought the dragon of Angnor", for having "nearly stood up to the vicious chicken of Bristol" and for having "personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill." (Wikipedia)

Pundits (Dowd) Down with Colbert

Neal at fishbowlNY posted, "Was this Sunday's [October 14, 2007] Maureen Dowd op-ed written by "Stephen Colbert" real? A genius pisstake? Who cares anyway."

Maureen Dowd wrote in her Op-Ed piece, "I was in my office, writing a column on the injustice of relative marginal tax rates for hedge fund managers, when I saw Stephen Colbert on TV."

"I called Colbert with a dare: if he thought it was so easy to be a Times Op-Ed pundit, he should try it. He came right over. In a moment of weakness, I had staged a coup d’moi. I just hope he leaves at some point. He’s typing and drinking and threatening to “shave Paul Krugman with a broken bottle.”

"Colbert" wrote in his Op-Ed piece, "Surprised to see my byline here, aren’t you? I would be too, if I read The New York Times. But I don’t. So I’ll just have to take your word that this was published. Frankly, I prefer emoticons to the written word, and if you disagree :(""I’d like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column today. As I type this, she’s watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito."

The entire Op-Ed pieces can be read here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

4th\SW Quadrant 10/22 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 22, 2007

"Prison Break" Rips Off "Se7en"

Jump the Shark related, "Three little words come to mind: Jump the shark! Instead of the writers/producers developing a different storyline, and taking their time to figure out a way to make her exit more believable (and less gruesome and tragic), the went straight to the she's-not-coming-back-so-let's-put-her-head-in-a-box solution. I get it, something went down in contract negotiations with Sarah Wayne Callies, and she's not coming back. But, first of all, her death is sort of a rip-off of Se7en, and second, it's completely over-the-top for the current storyline. LJ is fine, but Sara gets beheaded? Hmmm. I'm thinking they messed this one up big time..."

The Farrelley's
"The Heartbreak Kid"

Plot Summary: Eddie is forty, owns a sporting-goods store, and is still single. After watching his ex-fiancée walk down the aisle, he meets Lila, an environmental researcher, who seems too good to be true. Pressured by his father and best friend, Eddie pops the question and marries Lila after only 6 weeks. However, as he almost instantly discovers, his new bride is a nightmare with more baggage than he can handle. She's immature, foolish, a monster in bed, owes a tremendous amount of money to various sources, and as it turns out, is only a volunteer and doesn't actually have a job. While on their honeymoon in Cabo, Eddie meets Miranda, a down-to-earth lacrosse coach who is visiting with her family. Sparks fly, and Eddie falls for her. Now comes the tricky part of breaking off his marriage to crazy Lila, all while keeping the truth from Miranda about why he's in Cabo in the first place... (IMDb\ Written by Lex)

The Heartbreak Kid Trailer

Monopoly: Boutique Edition

This is Monopoly like you have never seen it - dressed up in pink and all about things girls love! Buy boutiques and malls, go on a shopping spree, pay your cell phone bill, and get text and instant messages. You and your friends will adore the funky tokens, cool buildings, and cute illustrations. Best of all, the game is stored in a beautiful keepsake box which doubles as a jewelry box. Cool game features include: 8 collectible tokens just for girls, keepsake storage box with removable tray and mirrored insert, pink gameboard with fun properties, pink and purple translucent boutiques and malls instead of houses and hotels, Instant Message and Text Message cards instead of Chance and Community Chest, pink Title Deed cards, redesigned Monopoly money, flocked banker's tray, 2 pink dice, and instructions. Paint the town pink with Toys R Us Exclusive! (Toys R Us)

Seth Rogen on "Saturday Night Live"

Annie Wu of TV Squad said, "Seth Rogen shared the Saturday Night Live monologue that he's supposedly always dreamed of doing, complete with Bill Hader as Steven Segal. It was cute but, again, didn't get huge laughs. Oh, and speaking of Rogen and Hader, I totally expected more of them working together."

"Saturday Night Live" MacGruber

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

3rd\SE Quadrant 10/22 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 22, 2007

“Gossip Girl” Extended

Frosty at Collider posted that the CW is obviously happy with the performance of freshman drama “Gossip Girl,” as it’s become the first new show to get a full season pickup. And while the numbers on the show don’t compare to the major networks like NBC or CBS, the show is a huge hit on iTunes, where the most recent episodes are usually in the top 5 of all downloaded shows.

If you haven’t seen the show before, “Gossip Girl” is from “The O.C.” producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and it’s based on the New York Times best-selling young-adult book series of the same name.

The show ... focuses on the struggle for social supremacy among teens from both sides of the tracks in a posh Manhattan prep school.

"I Love New York 2"
Midget Mac

Deanna Goodson of the blog Team RT said, "Midget Mac, a little person, is, by far, the standout of the season so far. He’s cute, funny and sweet but he also has a thug-side which is great for New York."

Midget Mac (NSFW!)

VH1.com Videos

"Dirty Sexy Money"

Patrick "Tripp" Darling III is played by Donald Sutherland in the television series "Dirty Sexy Money." Tripp is the family patriarch who gained massive wealth through owning vineyards and investing on properties around the world. He is married to Letitia, with whom he has five grown but troubled children with. (Buddy TV)

Plot Outline: A lawyer (Peter Krause) is forced to take care of one of New York City's wealthiest families. (IMDb)

Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times wrote, "Dirty Sexy Money lives up to its name."
"Dirty Sexy Money" Promo

1,500 Pound Pumpkin

Thad Starr's pumpkin-growing buddies thought he was crazy when he chose a seed from a 227-pound mother pumpkin to grow his own backyard giant this summer. On Monday, Starr's 1,524-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin shattered all previous Half Moon Bay records at the city's annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Starr, of Pleasant Hill, Ore., won $9,144 in prize money.

The Half Moon Bay competition has long been considered the Super Bowl of weigh-offs, attracting entries from Washington, Oregon and across Northern California. Starr, a stay-at-home dad, beat 70 competitors for the top prize. (The Mercury News)
(Photo courtesy of Paul Sakuma\via The Mercury News)

R. Kelly's "Real Talk"

"Aliens in America"

Pilot Report: When unpopular 16-year-old Justin (Byrd) is named "eighth-most bangable girl" in his high school, his mother Franny (Pietz) takes things into her own hands, inviting an exchange student into the family. But her dreams of a cool, ready-made friend for her son are dealt a blow with the arrival of Pakistani Muslim student Raja (Kalyan), who despite his sweetness and enthusiasm is unlikely to help Justin become more popular in central Wisconsin. Franny tries to have Raja sent back, but the entire family warms to him, Justin in particular, and by the end of the pilot Raja is welcome to stay. (New York)

Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times related in her review of the show, "It's a premise that in the wrong hands could be boorish and not at all amusing, so it is to the writers' credit that ''Aliens'' is instead fresh, funny and charming in a tart, sardonic way, one of the best sendups of adolescent angst since ''The Wonder Years'' and ''Malcolm in the Middle'' (and perhaps even ''My So-Called Life'')."

"Aliens in America" Preview

2nd\NE Quadrant 10/22 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 22, 2007

"The Arrival"

"The Arrival" is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope. (Shaun Tan)

An excerpt from "The Arrival" can be viewed here.

Alex Ross'
The Rest Is Noise:
Listening to the Twentieth Century

Ross, the classical music critic for the New Yorker, leads a whirlwind tour from the Viennese premiere of Richard Strauss's Salome in 1906 to minimalist Steve Reich's downtown Manhattan apartment. The wide-ranging historical material is organized in thematic essays grounded in personalities and places, in a disarmingly comprehensive style reminiscent of historian Otto Friedrich. Thus, composers who led dramatic lives—such as Shostakovich's struggles under the Soviet regime—make for gripping reading, but Ross treats each composer with equal gravitas. The real strength of this study, however, lies in his detailed musical analysis, teasing out—in precise but readily accessible language—the notes that link Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story to Arnold Schoenberg's avant-garde compositions or hint at a connection between Sibelius and John Coltrane. (Publishers Weekly)

"Man Push Cart"

Plot Summary: Every night while the city sleeps, Ahmad, a Pakistani immigrant, struggles to drag his heavy cart along the streets of New York to his corner in Midtown Manhattan. And every morning, from inside his cart he sells coffee and donuts to a city he cannot call his own. He is the worker found on every street corner in every city. He is a man who wonders if he will ever escape his fate. (IMDb)

Jay Weissberg of Variety wrote of "Man Push Card," "An example of spare, slice-of-life indie cinema at its most unpretentious."
(Photo courtesy of John Higgins/Films Philos)

"Man Push Cart" Trailer

Jim Shepard and Joshua Ferris

Jim Shepard, Like You'd Understand, Anyway, and Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End, are on the short list for the National Book Award.

Jim Shepard said, "Then We Came to the End is the Catch-22 of the business world: it's a hilarious and heartbreaking and surreal portrait of the modern American corporation as a carnival - preschool? - of infantile misbehavior and breathtakingly futile and petty and despairing competiton. The real revelation here is how moving it all becomes: how much humanity and genuine emotional weight finally, against all odds, shines through." (Powells)

"Catch-22" is a satirical, historical fiction novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of the Second World War from 1943 onwards, is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the Twentieth century. (Wikipedia)

The first chapter of Like You'd Understand, Anyway can be read here.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's
"War and Peace" Translation

Richard Pevear is an American-born poet and translator who frequently collaborates with his wife, Larissa Volokhonsky, on translations of works mainly in Russian, but also French, Italian and Greek. The husband-and-wife team live in Paris and are said to work in a two-step process: Volokhonsky, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, prepares a literal translation of the Russian text, and Pevear adapts the literal into polished and stylistically appropriate English. After that first draft, Pevear says, "Larissa goes over it, raising questions. And then we go over it again. I produce another version, which she reads against the original. We go over it one more time, and then we read it twice more in proof." (EIZIE)

Pevear was born in Boston and earned a bachelor's degree from Allegheny College and a master's degree from the University of Virginia. As of 2006, he teaches classes at the American University of Paris. (Wikipedia)

"The Paris Review Interviews, Vol II"

Publisher Comments: The art of the interview has never been more lively or engaging than in the pages of The Paris Review. Since this seminal literary magazine was founded in 1953, it has given us invaluable conversations with the greatest writers of the past half century, vivid self-portraits that are themselves works of finely-crafted literature. In this second volume, editor Philip Gourevitch selects a rich, varied crop of literary voices, including William Faulkner, Tony Morrison, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Graham Greene, James Baldwin, Stephen King, Philip Larkin, Eudora Welty, Peter Carey, Gabriel García Márquez, and more. "A colossal literary event" as Gary Shteyngart put it, The Paris Review Book of Interviews, II, offers an indispensable treasury of wisdom and insight from the literary masters of our age. (Powell)

The literary blog The Elegant Variation posted, "We called the first volume of this series "the gold standard of crack," and they haven't given up an inch of ground with the release of the second volume, which is as compulsively readable as the first."

"Thinking Shakespeare"

Marcus at Wittgenstein, Shakespeare, and Cookie Monster posted, "The best acting book I've read in years is "Thinking Shakespeare", by Barry Edelstein. It delves into every nook and cranny of Shakespearean acting. Shakespeare is such a lofty figure! How can we possibly measure up? By Keeping It Simple, Stupid. By figuring out what our characters want and working to achieve those goals on stage. That's Edelstein's message. It's been many other people's message, too. But Edelstein tells it well -- and he shapes it specifically to the needs of the Shakespearean actor. But "Thinking Shakespeare" should be read by all actors. For if you can act Shakespeare, you can surely act Neil Simon.

He continued by stating that, "Thinking Shakespeare" is a splendid book for directors, too. It will teach them -- or remind them -- how to analyze a Shakespeare script. It will also help them work with actors. And "Thinking Shakespeare" will thrill the literary scholar or Shakespeare fan. If you've spent all your time viewing Shakespeare through the lens of academia, this book will open you up to a whole new way of reading (not just Shakespeare, but all plays)."

Monday, October 15, 2007

1st\NW Quadrant 10/22 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 22, 2007

Metrocard Design Demise

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding the fare hike, the MTA is starting to make preparations that will lead to the phasing out of the MetroCard, a 13-year-old subway icon. Gone will be the familiar gold-and-blue flimsy plastic cards. In its stead, we’ll have touch-and-go SmartCard RFID technology that should speed up lines and make paying for public transportation rides even easier.

The MTA’s smart-card pilot program on the Lexington Line, developed with Citibank and MasterCard, will soon be expanded to 275 buses and opened up to all contactless credit and debit cards issued by banks. (Second Avenue Sagas)

Municipal Wedding Office

Zach Patton of the blog Governing reported that NYC is revamping its Marriage Bureau to attract more wedding-minded couples to get hitched in New York. The bureau is getting a $13 million makeover from Mayor Mike Bloomberg's personal interior designer.

The Marriage Bureau, now on the second floor of the Municipal Building, has sterile marble, and the door to the wedding chapel is painted deep red. Couples sit on plastic chairs lining the walls in the hallway until their names are called; there is graffiti scratched into the walls; and, worst of all, there are no bathrooms nearby....

New York is the country's second-biggest issuer of marriage licenses. Vegas' Clark County issued more than 112,000 marriage licenses last year -- almost double the number in NYC.

"In the Valley of Elah"

Plot Outline: A career officer (Jones) and his wife (Sarandon) work with a police detective (Theron) to uncover the truth behind their son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq. (IMDb)

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly related that, "In the Valley of Elah, the first film Paul Haggis has written and directed since Crash, is exactly the sort of movie America needs right now — a lacerating, bone-deep inquiry into the war in Iraq, one that struggles to find meaning in the very chaos of that conflict." (EW)

In the Valley of Elah Trailer

Tate Modern

A crack in the floor which forms Tate Modern's [Britain's national museum of international modern art] latest installation has claimed its first casualties. Three visitors lost their footing and fell into the gap made by Doris Salcedo's art work. They were among more than 12,000 people who viewed the installation, which runs the full 167 metres (548 feet) of the Turbine Hall. The Tate said the trio did not sustain serious injuries. (Andy Bosselman)

The work by Colombian sculptor Doris Salcedo, entitled Shibboleth, runs the full 167 metres (548 feet) of the cavernous [Turbine Hall at London's Tate Modern]. It begins as a hairline crack in the concrete floor of the building, then widens and deepens as it snakes across the room. (Times Online)
(Photo courtesy of Andy Bosselman)

Junot Díaz

His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker magazine which listed him as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century. He is best known for his two major works: the short story collection "Drown" (1996) and the novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2007). (Wikipedia)

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" has made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list (a first for a Dominican author), Miramax Films bought the screen rights and a translation into Spanish is already in the works.

The novel revolves about Oscar, an obese comics fan growing up in Paterson, N.J., and his dysfunctional Dominican family, going back to the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship.
(SPLALit\Carlos Rodríguez Martorell)

The Argenteuil Bridge

by Claude Monet

Intruders broke into the Musée d’Orsay, which houses a major collection of Impressionist art, early Sunday [October 7, 2007] and left a tear close to four inches long in the painting “The Argenteuil Bridge,” from 1874 by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

The intruders, believed to be four men and a woman, appeared drunk and “left various bits of filth” before “one of them stuck a fist into the magnificent masterpiece by Monet.”

The alarms sounded and museum personnel arrived quickly, but the intruders were able to flee; however, the painting can be restored according to Christine Albanel, the minister of culture.

There have been similar attacks in other museums in France. Plates and chalices for communion, from the Cathedral of St. Jean the Baptist were recently stolen, and a woman left a lip-shaped stain on an otherwise immaculate white canvas that is an untitled work by the American artist Cy Twombly. (NY Times)