Wednesday, January 30, 2008

American Idol Audition - Princess Leia

"Cloverfield" from Spring St. to CC in Minutes!

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

"Cloverfield," the movie in which an assorted group of Manhattan party-goers are picked off by an unexplained monster, reaches for authenticity. The one plotline that prompted a harrumph of disbelief from a downtown audience: the protagonists descend into the subway at Spring Street, walk along the tunnel, run from some alien cockroaches, and, within a few minutes, discover they're already at 59th Street. That's some express line. -- Gawker

"Cloverfield" Trailer

McDonald's Gigantic Napkin Dispensers

When McDonald's Sweden launched their “Big ‘N’ Juicy” burger, they retrofitted these gigantic dispensers (with real, giant, recycled napkins) on certain 'euro-size' poster ads in Stockholm.
-- Swiss Miss

Tom Cruise "Acceptance" Speech

Tom Cruise was given the Freedom Medal of Valor at an International Association of Scientologists event in 2006. He gave a nine minute "acceptance" speech about himself and Scientology.

Hightlights of the speech are courtesy of the blog The Blemish via US Weekly:

…I think it’s a privilege to call yourself a Scientologist, and it’s something that you have to earn because a Scientologist does… has the ability to create new and better realities and improve conditions. Being a Scientologist, you look at someone and know absolutely that you can help them.

“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident… you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one that can really help.

“But that’s what drives me… I know that we have an opportunity to really help… effectively change people’s lives and I am dedicated to that. I am absolutely, uncompromisingly dedicated to that.

“We have a responsibility.

“We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we are the authorities on the mind, we are the authorities on improving conditions… we can rehabilitate criminals.

“…We can bring peace and unite cultures…

“Traveling the world and meeting the people that I’ve met, talking with these leaders in various fields, they want help and they are depending on people who know and who can be effective and do it and that’s us. That is our responsibility to do that.

“It is the time now. Now is the time… Being a Scientologist, people are turning to you, so you better know it, you better know it and if you don’t, go and learn it, but don’t pretend you know it. It’s like we’re here to help.

“If you’re a Scientologist, you see life, you see things the way they are, in all its glory, all of its complexity and the more you know as a Scientologist, you don’t become overwhelmed by it.

“Look, I wish the world was a different place. I’d like to go on vacation and go and romp and play and just do that, you know what I mean. That’s what I want it to be. There’s times I’d like to do that, but I can’t because I know I have to do something about it.

“I have to do it because I can’t live with myself if I don’t, and that really is it.

“So it’s our responsibility to educate, create the new reality. We have that responsibility to say, ‘Hey, this is the way it should be done because we do it this way and people are actually getting better.’

“And let’s get it done. Let’s really get it done and have enough love and compassion and toughness that you’re really going to do it and do it right.

“I have to tell you something – it is rough and tumble, and it’s wild and wooly, and it’s a blast, it’s a blast, it really is fun because, dammit, there is nothing better than the going out there and fighting the fight and suddenly you see things are better.

“I want to know that I’ve done everything I could everyday, and I think about those people out there who are depending on us. I think about that and it does make me feel that we’ve got more work. I need more help, get those spectators either in the playing field or out of the arena. Really, that’s how I feel about it.

“I do what I can, and I do it the way I do everything. [laughs] There’s nothing part-of-the way for me.”

Legault Still Smokes

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Neel Shah posted on Radar Online:

According to the Daily News, [Skip] Legault, who was recently featured in one of those graphic, state-sponsored anti-smoking ads designed to guilt you into quitting, has endured multiple heart attacks, strokes, and the loss of his right leg on account of his nicotine habit, yet still sucks down half a pack a day. "The more I watch my commercials, the sicker it makes me feel," Legault says. "I've lived longer than the doctors told me and it's tough to change something while you're still going."

Prada's Tutu for Men

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Cord Jefferson of the blog MollyGood posted the following about Prada's tutu belt for men:

This is a tutu belt debuted by Prada at the fashion house’s latest runway show in Milan. The New York Times called the piece “humiliating.” The designer called it “revenge.” We call it even more evidence fashion is a whimsical joke played on the world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

By The Blue Marble Blog
January 29, 2008

Cutie polar bear cub Knut made his public debut last week, to the sounds of thousands of cooing fans and 300 shutter-clicking media members. The fuzzy animal, now the size of a Labrador Retriever puppy, delighted visitors as he frolicked through a stream, kissed his keeper, and rolled in the dirt.

Berlin Zoo officials say the cub is not in danger of being killed, as a few animal activists have suggested. Instead, hand-raised Knut is the zoo's star attraction, especially after his neighbor, 22-year-old panda Yan Yan died Monday, of constipation.

The Berlin Zoo has seen attendance jump by 300% since Knut appeared to the public, and the Zoo gift store had to order 10,000 more stuffed Knut dolls after their original 2,400 sold out. The cub now has his own television show, podcast, and a blog written from his imagined perspective. Graffiti artists are even spraypainting his name on concrete pillars under the bear-shaped logo for the Berlin Film Festival.

Flickr Abandoned Building Art

The very interesting Flickr, Abandoned Building Art Group, photos can be viewed here.

(Photo courtesy of Food Food\via Flickr)

Corey Delaney's Sunglasses

Taylor Hicks Dropped from J Records Label

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

From the blog Zakuta:

Taylor Hicks might have won "American Idol," but he doesn't have his record deal anymore. The soul singer, who won the televised singing competition in 2006, has apparently been dropped by J Records, a label within Sony-BMG, which signs the show's singers. "Taylor is going to record on his own for the next album," said J Records publicist Liz Morentin, who did not give further details regarding Hicks.

Hicks' self-titled, post-"Idol" album, released in December 2006, debuted at No. 2 on the charts. In the weeks after it was issued, however, the disc slid down the charts. While it sold a respectable 699,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan data, it did not reach the 1 million mark, unlike all the other debuts from previous "Idol" champs. It also did not register a hit song, unlike other "Idol" winners.

Will Ferrell Plans One-Man Broadway Show

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

The blog Just Jared posted:

Saturday Night Live alumni Will Ferrell is bringing a one-man-show to Broadway, reports NY Post.

“Ferrell’s as-yet-untitled show, which will have a small supporting cast and a band, will be produced by Jeffrey Richards… The Ferrell Project will be autobiographical and include anecdotes about the comedian’s work… Ferrell also will do some of his fabled impersonations - of George W. Bush, Robert Goulet, Neil Diamond, Jesse Ventura and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton,” according to the article.

Tynes Avoids Norwood-Buckner Club

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Lawrence Tynes missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation in the National Football Conference championship game against the Green Bay Packers that would have given the Giants a trip to the Super Bowl. Tynes got a second chance to win the game in overtime, which would have prevented him from joining the Norwood-Buckner Club of Reviled Chockers. Tynes’s made 47-yard field goal with 2 minutes 35 seconds into overtime, which gave the Giants the 23-20 victory over the Packers allowing them to play in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz, against the undefeated New England Patriots on Feb. 3. (New York Times)

In Super Bowl XXV [Scott] Norwood's of the Buffalo Bills missed a 47-yard field goal attempt at the end of the game, giving the New York Giants the victory. (Wikipedia)

1986 World Series On October 25, 1986, the Boston Red Sox faced the New York Mets in game 6 of the World Series. Boston led the best-of-7 series 3 games to 2, and had a two-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning. New York came back to tie the game with three straight singles off Calvin Schiraldi and a wild pitch by pitcher Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson fouled off several pitches before hitting a ground ball to [Bill] Buckner at first base. The ball rolled under Buckner's glove, through his legs, and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run, forcing a seventh game, which the Mets won. Buckner's error capped off a poor Game 6 performance; he went 0-for-5 with runners on in all five at-bats. (Wikipedia)
(Photo courtesy Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Monday, January 28, 2008

"The Wire's" Rootsy Soundtrack

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

The Wire's soundtrack is five years of music from the show. The "rootsy" reference is referring to the the hip hop band The Roots.

2008 Oscars Nominations

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood



Michael Clayton

Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Viggo Mortenson, Eastern Promises
Tommy Lee Jones, In The Valley of Elah

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jason Reitman, Juno
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Diablo Cody, Juno
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Ratatouille (written by Brad Bird; story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird)
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages

Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Sarah Polley, Away from Her
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

Thomas Quasthoff Delivers a Chilling "Erlkönig"

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Thomas Quasthoff delivered a "chilling" "Erlkönig" on January 19, 2007 at Carnegie Hall.

Thomas Quasthoff (born in Hildesheim, Germany, November 9, 1959) is a German bass-baritone generally regarded as one of the finest singers of his generation. Quasthoff was born with serious birth defects caused by his mother's exposure during pregnancy to the drug thalidomide which was prescribed as an antiemetic to combat her morning sickness. Thomas Quasthoff is unusually short (about four feet tall) due to shortening of the long bones in his legs, and he has phocomelia of the upper extremities with very short or absent long bones and flipper-like appearance of his hands.

"Der Erlkönig" (often called just "Erlkönig") is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It depicts the death of a child assailed by a supernatural being, the "Erlking" (roughly translated as "evil spirit", but see the discussion of the legend below). It was originally composed by Goethe as part of a 1782 ballad opera entitled Die Fischerin. (Wikipedia)

Richard Easton in "New Jerusalem"

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Focusing on the 1656 interrogation of the noted philosopher Baruch De Spinoza (Strong) by the Jewish community of Amsterdam for his controversial ideas, "New Jerusalem" examines the clash between religion and modernity that Jews, Christians and Muslims are still, some 350 years later, struggling to reconcile. (Broadway)

Martin Denton of NY Theatre wrote in his review of the play:

The excellent [Tony Award winning] actor Richard Easton portrays Mortera in "New Jerusalem," and there is a wonderful moment when we see that Spinoza has finally convinced him of the truth of his ideas; it's a stunning, cataclysmic moment, reflected on Easton's face and in his body language, reminding us that once a revolutionary idea gets released into the universe, it can never be taken back: progress, such as it is, can only go in a forward motion.

"New Jerusalem" has been extended one week, and runs throught February 10, 2008 at the Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, New York, NY.

Maggie Gyllenhaal reads Miranda July

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Acclaimed author Zadie Smith (On Beauty) hosted a reading on, January 10, 2008, to celebrate the release of "The Book of Other People" (Penguin), a collection that she edited of new short stories by contemporary authors. A selection of the book’s contributors read, including George Saunders (In Persuasion Nation), Vendela Vida (Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name), and special guest Maggie Gyllenhaal, read Miranda July’s story “Roy Spivey.” All proceeds from the book and the event benefited free writing and tutoring programs for children at 826NYC.

"Times" Reconstruction of Bobby Fischer Games

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Boris Spassky vs. Robert James Fischer
172 World Championship, Game 6
The New York Times Viewer Reconstruction

Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was an American-born chess Grandmaster, an Icelandic citizen at the time of his death, who became famous as a teenager for his chess-playing ability. In 1972, he became the first, and so far only, American to win the official World Chess Championship, defeating defending champion Boris Spassky in a match held in Reykjavík, Iceland. The match was widely publicized as a Cold War battle. He is often referred to as a candidate for the greatest chess player of all time. Fischer won the U.S. Chess Championship all eight times he competed, from 1957 to 1966, a record. (Wikipedia)

Wolf Blitzer

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

By The Huffington Post

January 22, 2008

It's Wolf's Fault! Feisty Debate Blamed On "Exceedingly Lenient" Blitzer

... Wolf Blitzer was exceedingly lenient with the format.

Mr. Blitzer appeared at some points to lose control of the conversation as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, and to a lesser extent the former Senator John Edwards, traded barbs during the two-hour debate televised on CNN. The result, Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy write in Tuesday's New York Times, was "the most intense and personal exchange of the campaign season."

"The Wire's" Baltimore "Sun" Subplot

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

jamessal posted in the comments on Slate, "So far as we've seen most of the newspapermen are indeed stock characters, but that's nothing to worry about. Except for a few leads each season, very few characters have conflicting motives. Think Clay Davis, Mayor Royce, Herc, Horse, Burrell, Rawles, Weebay, Chris Partlow, Snoop, the school administrators, even Marlo."

This season of 'The Wire' is based in large part on Simon's experiences in 13 years at The Baltimore Sun. Simon decries recent trends in the newspaper industry that have conspired to make high-end journalism vulnerable: out-of-town chain ownership, an economic climate in which the share price of media companies matters more to industry leaders than the product itself, and a newsroom culture in which prizes, personal ambition and the cult of the "impact" story has replaced consistent and detailed coverage of complex issues as the primary goal.
-- HBO

Plot Summary: Set in Baltimore, this show centers around the city's inner-city drug scene. It starts as mid-level drug dealer, D'Angelo Barksdale beats a murder rap. After a conversation with a judge, Det. James McNulty has been assigned to lead a joint homicide and narcotics team, in order to bring down drug kingpin Avon Barksdale. Avon Barksdale, accompanied by his right-hand man Stringer Bell, enforcer Wee-Bey and many lieutenants (including his own nephew, D'Angelo Barksdale), has to deal with law enforcement, informants in his own camp, and competition with a local rival, Omar, who's been robbing Barksdale's dealers and reselling the drugs. The supervisor of the investigation, Lt. Cedric Daniels, has to deal with his own problems, such as a corrupt bureaucracy, some of his detectives beating suspects, hard-headed but determined Det. McNulty, and a blackmailing deputy. The show depicts the lives of every part of the drug "food chain", from junkies to dealers, and from cops to politicians.
-- IMDb


1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Nathan Lane stars as incumbent U.S. president Charles Smith, Dylan Baker is an advisor, and Laurie Metcalf is his speech writer who wants the president to perform her civil marriage in David Mamet's new comedy "November" playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Mamet, whose script for "Wag the Dog" may be the most prescient piece of politically subversive comedy to ever make it to the screen, takes the lazy way out with the election-year sitcom that opened last night at the Barrymore Theatre, starring Nathan Lane as a lowlife losing president called Chuck.

Instead of wit and fury, we get gags and grimaces. Instead of humor so daring that critics have been known to bite their own lips to maintain decorum, the comedy is so eager-to-please that we strain to hear Mamet's voice beyond the punch lines.

Oh, there is plenty of noisy impertinence and throwaway bits of pertinence in the hyperextended sketch about a failing incumbent. But mostly, this is a commercial Broadway fluff ball disguised as a tough-talking political troublemaker.
(Photo courtesy of Newsday)

"The View from Castle Rock" Book Cover

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Book Description:

Alice Munro mines her rich family background, melding it with her own experiences and the transforming power of her brilliant imagination, to create perhaps her most powerful and personal collection yet.

A young boy, taken to Edinburgh’s Castle Rock to look across the sea to America, catches a glimpse of his father’s dream. Scottish immigrants experience love and loss on a journey that leads them to rural Ontario. Wives, mothers, fathers, and children move through uncertainty, ambivalence, and contemplation in these stories of hopes, adversity, and wonder. The View from Castle Rock reveals what is most essential in Munro’s art: her compassionate understanding of ordinary lives. (Amazon)

“Exhilarating. . . . [Munro's] ability to travel into the minds and feelings of people long dead is uncanny.” —The New York Times Book Review

Alice Ann Munro, née Laidlaw (born 10 July 1931) is a Canadian short-story writer who is widely considered one of the world's premier fiction writers. Munro is a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction. Her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. While most of Munro’s fiction is set in Southwestern Ontario, her reputation as a short-story writer is international. Her "accessible, moving stories" explore human complexities in a seemingly effortless style. Munro's writing has established her as "a major voice among fiction writers." She has been referred to as "the Canadian Chekhov." (Wikipedia)

Vegan Shoes for $300

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Elisa Camahort posted on the blog The Hip & Zen Pen:

Have you seen Charmone Shoes? Most. Adorable. Vegan. Shoes. Ever. And, unfortunately for me they may also be the Most. Expensive. Vegan. Shoes. Ever.

Before I became a veg*n I sold shoes during college and became a total shoe hound/snob...that ended when I was stuck shopping at Payless Shoe Source to get vegan shoes. I've always longed for a source for really gorgeous, non-cheap, vegan shoes. Along comes Charmone.

I mean, their mission could not be more hip & zen:
Charmoné’s mission is to create charming women’s shoes in harmony with animals, people and the environment.

Only two problems:

1. I don't actually wear high heeled shoes very often...and when I do I am nearly always immediately sorry.
2. I have probably never spent $300 USD on a pair of shoes before, particularly a pair that I'll wear rarely and that will probably hurt me when I do. Sigh. But I love them.

(Update: Just in case you didn't see it, Michelle posted in the comments that has trendy AND affordable vegan shoes!)

The Approval Matrix: Week of February 4, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix

The remaining items in the 4th quadrant of the Year-End Mega Matrix were a bunch of movies you guys have already probably seen by now, or don't want to see. So, I decided to do a "Best Of" post today. It was hard to choose, because as we know, many of the items in the matrices are very interesting.

The new issue of New York Magazine should be out Monday, so we'll have an all-new Approval Matrix to post, and research.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stolen White Truffles

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix
The Approval Matrix: Week of November 19, 2007

An Italian truffle hunter has been robbed on his way to the market by thieves posing as police officers who relieved him of 400 grams of freshly collected white truffles worth €2,000.

Dario Pastrone, 58, had spent Friday and Saturday night in the wooded valleys around Chiusano collecting the prized delicacy and was driving to a truffle market in Asti when another car forced him off the road, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Three men dressed as police officers jumped out, opened his trunk and stole the truffles. The price of truffles has risen to as much as €8,000 ($11,500) this year, almost half the
price of gold. (Spiegel Online)

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix
The Approval Matrix: Week of November 26, 2007

Popped Collars

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix
The Approval Matrix: Week of October 8, 2007

Vanessa Tsang wrote in Washington Square News that never before have two inches of fabric been so controversial. The style of wearing the collar on a polo shirt flipped up - or "popped" - has become a runaway trend in recent months, inciting both disgust and glorification among students. Pastel, striped, plastered with name-brand logos, double popped, or half-popped and half-down, these errant collars are causing a stir across campus.

"Especially with the opening of Rugby, there are a lot of NYU students shopping there and wearing the entire [preppy] look head to toe now," said Patrick Michael Hughes, professor of fashion history at Parsons, The New School for Design. "It's very urban."

Hughes also said that this trend is especially prominent in a city like New York.

"I get compliments [when I pop my collar]," Stern sophomore Greg Hammond said. "Girls will compliment you on your shirt. Guys will say, 'Oh, you're a pimp!' "

(Tiny) Sharks in New York City

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix
The Approval Matrix: Week of September 17, 2007

The Daily News reports that a Coney Island lifeguard rescued a 2-foot sand shark from a mob of panicked swimmers. According to the lifeguard, some of swimmers actually hit and smacked the baby shark in the face.

Another shark was seen at South Beach in Staten Island on Sunday, following the 5-foot thresher shark that startled swimmers at Rockaway Beach on Saturday before its lifeless body washed ashore the next day.

"¡Ask a Mexican!"

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix
The Approval Matrix: Week of October 1, 2007

Why do Mexicans use their car horns as a doorbell? Do Mexican children get tamales at Christmas so that they have something to unwrap? The chances are that you will know the answers to some of these questions if you live in the United States and read the wickedly funny "Ask a Mexican!" column .

The brainchild of a Mexican-American reporter, Gustavo Arellano, and his editor at the OC Weekly in Orange County, southern California, the column started out as a prank in 2004. Since then it has become a sleeper hit read by more than a million people from California to New York each week.

The questions -- some addressing Mexicans as "greasers" and "beaners" -- pull no punches, and are met with equally arch slapdowns meant to sneak in an unexpected cultural rapprochement with humor, Arellano said. Through his blunt discussion of stereotypes, he hopes to defend Mexicans and their identity in the United States. (Reuters)

The Book Design Review

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix

2nd Quadrant 8/13 '07

The Book Design Review is a [very intriguing] blog dedicated to the best, and sometimes the worst, of book design, book covers, and book jackets.

Pilobolus Dance Theater

Best of Behind the Approval Matrix

2nd Quadrant 8/20 '07

The Pilobolus Dance Theater is an internationally known American dance company that started in 1971 in a dance class taught by Alison Chase at Dartmouth College. The theater’s Wikipedia pages states that, “Their performances have long been characterized by a strong element of
physical interaction between the bodies of the performers, and exaggerations or contortions of the human form (or other anthropomorphic forms), often verging on gymnastics.”

The Times review of Pilobolus mentions that, “Its performers look as much animal as human. Further yet: Much of its imagery is vegetable, flora rather than fauna. Sometimes we find we’re watching amoebas; changing organisms; explosions of seed heads.”

If you missed the August 11 performance at the Joyce Theater, Pilobolus will be back in the New York area on the following dates in 2008:
March 29, 30 Queens Theater in the Park
February 16 Stony Brook Staller Center

Pilobolus @ 79th (2007) Oscar Awards

"Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design"

The Approval Matrix: Week of August 27, 2007

From the publisher's website: Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design is a collection of writings by Michael Bierut. The 272-page hardcover book brings together twenty years of essays on subjects that range from New York’s faulty “Push for Walk Signal” buttons, to the disappearance of the AT&T logo, to the implications of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire for interaction designers.

Many of the pieces first appeared on Design Observer, the popular blog that Michael edits with Jessica Helfand and Bill Drenttel. Seventy-nine Essays also includes pieces that appeared elsewhere and pieces that have never been published in other collections, like “Waiting for Permission,” “How to Become Famous” and “Ten Footnotes on a Manifesto.”

If you seek a design book that navigates with aplomb between French semioticians, typographers, movie stars and Mad magazine cartoonists, Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design is the one for you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Viva Laughlin"

4th\SE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

By BloggingStocks
October 24th 2007

Viva Laughlin, the universally panned musical/mystery/drama/casino-intrigue series has been canceled after just two airings. What's worse, the show has been pulled after just one try in its regular Sunday-night time slot.

While the CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) show was rife with talent, including star Melanie Griffith and executive producer/star Hugh Jackman, it suffered from pitifully low ratings and even worse reviews. On Sunday [October 24th 2007], the program scored a 1.2 rating and a 3 share among adults 18-49. The show was based on a successful BBC series, Viva Blackpool.

Plot Outline: Small-time casino owner, Ripley Holden [Lloyd Owen], dreams of opening up a snazzy resort on the Laughlin Strip. (IMDb)

If Elvis isn't already dead, Viva Laughlin just might kill him. -- USA Today

Short "Preview"

Jeep Rubicon Pet Jogger

4th\SW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

Whether you are going on a short walk around the block or a long walk through the park, the Jeep Rubicon Pet Stroller gives you the freedom to take your family pet anywhere you go. The Jeep Rubicon Pet Stroller is ideal for puppies, kittens, small dogs, small animals, and older pets with hip ailments or arthritic joints.

Special Jogger Features include:

  • 3 wheels for easy turns.
  • Finger braking system to help the adult stop the stroller while using it for a jog.
  • Rear shock absorbers and front reflectors for safety.
  • Front and rear zippered mesh doors for easy pet access.
  • Mesh also provides full protection from bugs and allows for air flow and viewing for the animal.
  • Ergonomical foam-padded handle for comfort.
  • One-hand fold mechanism for easy folding.
  • Parent tray for keys, drinks, leash, etc.
  • Large storage basket on the bottom.
  • Made from 600 Denier nylon waterproof material.
  • Removable, interior waterproof tray for easy cleaning.
Internet Price: $249.99, Internet Sale: $199.97 @ PETCO

The Rise of TMZ

4th\SW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matric

In September [2007], notched 10.5 million unique U.S. visitors, dwarfing its entertainment-news rivals. In fact, the site, which is co-owned by Time Warner (TWX )units AOL and Telepictures, ranked No. 5 among all news sites, besting all nonportals save for CNN and MSNBC. -- BusinessweekWeek

The New York Times reported that “TMZ” the television show picks up where leaves off, embellishing and adorning the images with a thoroughness that still works best on fast-moving television. Much of what appears nightly on “TMZ” (shown on Fox and other stations) is timely, but still a rehash. More significantly, “TMZ” uses zany graphics to turn videos into judge-jury-executioner cases against marginal personalities.

Each episode of “TMZ” so far has opened with Mr. [Harvey] Levin (managing editor) consulting with his underlings: he calls on them, and they report their photo findings. Typically, he’s thrilled. Michael Jackson’s father thrown out of a nightclub? Gold! Madonna buying a vibrator? Hilarious.

Amy Winehouse

Hollyscoop has a link to a Sun story that reveals that Amy Winehouse went on three-day drug bender before collapsing from an overdose. She took ecstasy, cocaine, and horse tranquillizer - washed down with vodka and whisky.

Winehouse was eventually rushed to the hospital at 1 A.M. on Wednesday August 8, 2007 for an emergency adrenaline shot, and to get her stomach pumped. She subsequently checked into a private wing at The Priory rehab facility in Roehampton, South West London.

Her song “Rehab,” which has been nominated for several MTV VMAs, is about her manager’s attempts to send her to a rehab facility.

Amy Winehouse Drunk or High?

Amy Winehouse Smokes Crack

Michael Crichton Exacts "Revenge"

4th\SW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matric

By The Carpetbagger Report

TNR’s Michael Crowley wrote a terrific-but-scathing cover story in March, blasting novelist Michael Crichton for his climate-change denials, partisanship, anti-intellectualism, and general hackery. With this background in mind, Crowley was apparently taken aback when he picked up Crichton’s new novel and found a character named “Mick Crowley.”

Here’s an excerpt (warning: this is unpleasant, graphic stuff):

Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. …

It turned out Crowley’s taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]–as was his custom–tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child’s mother as “fantasizing feminist fundamentalists” who had made up the whole thing from “their sick, twisted imaginations.” This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley’s penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler’s rectum.)

(The real-life Michael Crowley is also a Washington journalist and also graduated from Yale.)

Double-Issue Reminder

Just a reminder that last week's New York Magazine was a double-issue, so obviously there won't be a new Approval Matrix this week. However, I decided to finish The Year-End Mega Matrix. Posting will be slightly less than usual with about four or five per day, because I already completed most of The Mega Matrix, except for the 4th quadrant.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tautological Reasoning in "This is Why I'm Hot"

4th\SW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

American Heritage Dictionary

tautological (tô-tŏl'ə-jē)

a. Needless repetition of the same sense in different words; redundancy.
b. An instance of such repetition.

"This is Why I'm Hot" lyrics:

I'm hot cuss I'm fly.
You ain't cuss you not.
This is why, this is why, this is why I'm hot.

Virgin Mobile's "You Rule" Ads

(Photo courtesy of x-eyedblonde on Filckr)

Trump Steaks

4th\SW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

The New York Inquirer has a short, but hilarious post on the Trump Steaks:

You can travel to Buenos Aires for great steaks and impeccable leather products. What, no time for a 10-hour plane ride? Or an extra grand in your pocket for a measly coach seat? No worries, Trump to the rescue!

Frightening but true, real-estate woo-hoo Donald Trump has recently announced an agreement with Buckhead Beef that will bring us all (oh, thank the Lord!) Trump Steaks.

"Trump steaks will provide consumers with a taste of Donald Trump's luxurious lifestyle in their own homes, with the opportunity to enjoy the same mouth-watering steaks that are served in his award winning restaurants," says the press release.

It's a licensing deal, attaching the Trump brand to some hunks of meat. Porterhouse, New York Strip, included. And for the cosmopolitan element: Japanese-style Kobe Beef.

Ivanka? Can we gnaw together?

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" Real-Life Divorce

4th\SW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

By Star Pulse
October 23, 2007

In the exaggerated mirror to Larry David's life that is ''Curb Your Enthusiasm,'' even the comedian's own divorce is fodder for comedy.

Sunday night's episode [October 23, 2007] of the HBO show was a classic case of art imitating life with the announcement by David's fictional spouse, played by Cheryl Hines, that she was leaving. It was just in June that David and his real-life wife, Laurie David, separated after 14 years of marriage. The real-life divorce was filed by Laurie David, citing ''irreconcilable differences.''

Their spokesman has called the split ''very amicable.'' On ''Curb,'' the breakup was set off when Cheryl called hysterically from a potentially crashing airplane. Larry told her to ''call back in 10 minutes'' because he was having their Tivo fixed by a cable guy.
(Photo courtesy of Photo by: Matt Sayles / AP)

"Jane" Magazine Closes

4th\SE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

Conde Nast closed down Jane magazine after a 10-year run. The fashion and beauty publication targeted women in their 20s.

The last issue was published August by Conde Nast, which also closed down the magazine's associated Web site.

"We worked diligently to make Jane a success. However, we have come to believe that the magazine and Web site will not fulfill our long-term business expectations," Conde Nast Publications Chief Executive Charles Townsend said in a statement.

Jane, which has struggled with depressed advertising, was founded in 1997 by Jane Pratt. In 2005, Pratt left the magazine.

-- Reuters

Monday, January 21, 2008


3rd\SE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matric

Plot Summary: Remy is a rat, constantly risking life in an expensive French restaurant because of his love of good food, as well as a desire to become a chef. Yet, obviously, this is a rather tough dream for a rat. But opportunity knocks when a young boy, who desperately needs to keep his job at the restaurant, despite his lack of cooking abilities, discovers and partners the young Remy. Its up to the two of them to avoid the insane head chef, bring the rest of Remy's family up to his standards, win his partner a girl, and, of course, produce the finest Ratatouille in all of France. IMDb\Written by swansongang

Geoff Berkshire of Metromix said, "Ratatouille is an instant classic."

Nine Minute Preview


3rd SE\Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

By ABC News
January 18, 2008

Fueled by the success of Nintendo Co.'s Wii and Microsoft's "Halo 3," more video games were sold in the U.S. in 2007 than in any other year, with retail sales hitting $17.94 billion, according to the NPD Group.

The market researcher said total video game sales grew 43 percent, up from $12.53 billion in 2006. In December, historically the industry's strongest month, Americans spent $4.82 billion on video games, up 28 percent from a year earlier and up 83 percent from $2.63 billion in November.

Much of this growing acceptance has been attributed to the Wii, groundbreaking when it launched in 2006 for its motion-sensitive controller that lets players mimic movements for bowling, tennis or sword-fighting.

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said the company expects to sell more Wiis this year than it did in 2007. To deal with the high demand, Nintendo raised Wii production twice since last April, the last time to 1.8 million units a month. Though the consoles are still selling out soon after they hit store shelves, Nintendo has not said it plans to boost production again.

"The Bourne Ultimatum" Ending /Spoiler

3rd\SE Quadrant The Year-End Matrix

(Warning! Contains Spoilers) Jason Bourne (real name: David Webb) (Matt Damon) is given the address of the facility where he was trained (and where top secret project Blackbriar started) by Pamela Landy (Joan Allen). Jason gives to Pamela top secret documents about Treadstone and Blackbriar, stolen from Noah Vosen's office. A man who was part of the project and contributed to erasing the identity David Webb, Dr. Hirsch (Albert Finney), reveals that Jason/David offered himself to the program and that he (Jason/David) hesitated about continuing but he completed the training and became Jason Bourne. Pamela exposes Blackbriar and both Noah Vosen and CIA director Kramer (Scott Glenn) are questioned. Jason runs away, jumps into the East River and appears to be dead... but he swims away...

-- Ruined Endings


3rd\SE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

Plot Summary: An homage to exploitation B-movie thrillers that combines two feature-length segments into one double-bill designed to replicate the grind house theatergoing experience of the 70s and 80s. In "Death Proof," a psycho named Stuntman Mike stalks and kills beautiful women with his car. In "Planet Terror," a small-town sheriffs' department has to deal with an outbreak of murderous, infected people called "sickos." A gun-legged woman named Cherry and her martial arts-wielding partner take on the zombie army. The two films will be fused together by fake movie trailers.
-- IMDb\Written by prettypoison

David Cornelius of eFilmCritic said in his review of the film, "Your feature presentation: two movies made entirely of awesome."


Joey Chestnut Takes Nathan's Hot Dog Crown

3rd\SE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

By Daily News

Thursday, July 5th 2007

America has a new hot dog top dog after Californian Joey Chestnut set a world record by eating 66 weiners, complete with buns, at Nathan's annual Coney Island contest.

"I feel pretty freaking good!" crowed Chestnut, 23, as he relished his victory over six-time weiner winner Takeru Kobayashi of Japan yesterday to take the mustard-yellow champion's belt. Chestnut, the first American winner since 1999, said he was inspired by thoughts of "the Fourth of July - and bringing the title back."

Kobayashi, 29, hobbled by a sore jaw that he had been trying to treat with acupuncture, kept up a breakneck pace with Chestnut through most of the 12-minute contest.

"Mad Men"

3rd\SE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

Plot Summary from AMC: What you are, what you want, what you love doesn't matter. It's all about how you sell it. From AMC and the Emmy® Award-winning executive producer and writer of "The Sopranos" Matthew Weiner, comes Mad Men, a provocative new primetime drama about how to sell the truth. Set in 1960 New York, the daring new series is about the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell while their private world gets sold.

Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in his review, "The acting (from a mostly unknown cast), cinematography (you can just stare at this series) and especially Weiner's writing carry the series to exceptional heights."

AMC has renewed "Mad Men." 13 episodes of the drama have been ordered, and AMC will bring it back the skein in June.
-- Variety

Double Issue

Last week's New York Magazine was a double-issue, so obviously there won't be a new Approval Matrix this week. However, I decided to finish The Year-End Mega Matrix. Posting will be slightly less than usual with about four or five per day, because I already completed most of The Mega Matrix, except for the 4th quadrant.

Thanks for reading!


Norman Mailer 1923-2007

2nd\NE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

By The New York Times\CHARLES McGRATH
November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer, the combative, controversial and often outspoken novelist who loomed over American letters longer and larger than any writer of his generation, died today in Manhattan. He was 84.

He died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital early this morning, his family said.Mr. Mailer burst on the scene in 1948 with “The Naked and the Dead,” a partly autobiographical novel about World War II, and for the next six decades he was rarely far from the center stage. He published more than 30 books, including novels, biographies and works of nonfiction, and twice won the Pulitzer Prize: for “The Armies of the Night” (1968), which also won the National Book Award, and “The Executioner’s Song” (1979).

He also wrote, directed, and acted in several low-budget movies, [and] helped found The Village Voice...

Edward Albee's 'Peter and Jerry.''

2nd\NE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

Edward Albee's, ''The Zoo Story,'' is about an encounter between two distinctly different men, Peter and Jerry, who meet in Central Park one afternoon. First staged in 1959, ''The Zoo Story'' catapulted Albee to the top of American theater. His writing continued to flourish as he wrote ''Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf'' and ''A Delicate Balance,'' and won three Pulitzer Prizes.

Mr. Albee has he felt that Peter needed to be explored in more depth than he had been in ''Zoo Story.'' So he wrote a prequel, ''Homelife,'' which together with ''Zoo Story'' make up ''Peter and Jerry.''
-- The New York Times

''Peter and Jerry'' was at Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street in Hartford, through June 20, 2007.

When news came out that Albee, almost 50 years after that historic debut, had created a related curtain-raiser to "Zoo Story," there was trepidation. Would the new piece, "Homelife," spoil the menace and mystery of his original characters? Might a play about Peter and his wife before he walks to the park make him too specific and, perish the thought, domesticate his motivations?

In reality, the updated double bill that kicked off Albee's unofficial 80th-birthday season last night at Second Stage Theatre, is a thoroughly satisfying package of jagged-edged provocation. In a program note, he says, "deep down," he must have always conceived this as an entire play. I dare you not to believe him.
-- News Day

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Francesco Vezzoli’s Guggenheim Performance

1st\NW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

Francesco Vezzoli’s restaging of Luigi Pirandello’s 1917 play Right You Are (If You Think You Are) took place on October 27, 2007 at the Guggenheim.

Sarah Douglas, and David Grosz of Art Info wrote in their review of the performance:

The play is a comedy with serious intent, a send-up of small-town nosiness that points to the impossibility of discovering the objective truth about other people. But the audience at the Guggenheim could hardly know this. By the time the combined tediousness of the reading (which was not only barely acted but, given the poor acoustics in the Guggenheim, almost impossible to follow) and the voyeuristic peeking through the binocs had hit a fever pitch—Was Salman Rushdie sleeping? Did Jerry Saltz look bored? If I move to the other side will I get a better look at David Byrne? Why did Klaus Biesenbach leave his seat? Isn’t that him right behind me? Weird!

And NYMag wrote of Francesco Vezzoli, "Vezzoli has, over the past decade, become art-world famous for a flashy body of work that reinvents kitsch with the invaluable assistance of celebrities. He’s done needlework studies of Scavullo portraits, sent up Caligula, and produced a video dating game starring Jeanne Moreau and Catherine Deneuve as the lucky bachelorettes. These are often lavish productions—think YouTube footage as financed by the Medicis—and Vezzoli has found generous patronage in the fashion world, largely through Miuccia Prada. "

(Photo by Paula Court, courtesy PERFOMA, the Guggehneim Museum, and Gagosian)

Norman Lebrecht's Book Recalled

1st\NW Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

By The New York Times\Daniel J. Wakin
October 20, 2007

The British critic publisher, Penguin Books, agreed to recall his latest book, “Maestros, Masterpieces & Madness: The Secret Life and Shameful Death of the Classical Record Industry,” which released last July, destroy it, say “Sorry” and promise not to do it again — all over a few pages discussing Naxos Records and its founder, Klaus Heymann.

Mr. Heymann sued the publisher, in the High Court of Justice, saying the book wrongly accused him of “serious business malpractices” based on false statements. He cited at least 15 statements he called inaccurate.

In a settlement with Mr. Heymann, Penguin issued a statement in court saying it apologized for “the hurt and damage which he has suffered.” It agreed to pay an undisclosed sum for legal fees and to a charity. “Penguin Books has also undertaken not to repeat these allegations and to seek the return of all unsold copies of the book,” the statement said.

The American edition of his book, titled “The Life and Death of Classical Music,” was “not affected” by the case. It was published by Anchor Books, a division of Random House. The United States edition will remain on the market, but with “routine, minor factual editorial changes” in the pages in question when a reprint comes out next week, an Anchor spokesman said.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Blog!

Please visit my new blog.

I Got UGGs!

UGG Boots News, Commentary, and Pictures from around NYC, and the World.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hulk Hugon "American Gladiators" Analyst

4th\SE Quadrant of The Approval Matrix: Week of January 21, 2008

Jon Costatino wrote in his review of American Gladiators on Cinema Blend, "The new team of Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali, on the NBC version, are more like sideline reporters, which are normally the worst part of any sports broadcast. Laila Ali has proved to be a walking box of clichés, and maybe she should been better off being a Gladiator than asking them questions. And Hulk Hogan will never be confused with Peter Gammons."

Johnny Cash Tribute Concert Cancelled

4th\SE Quadrant of The Approval Matrix: Week of January 21, 2008

By International Herald Tribune
January 9, 2008

A concert marking the 40th anniversary of Johnny Cash's famous concert at California's Folsom State Prison has been scrapped, with the prison and the promoter blaming each other for the cancellation.

The tribute concert, scheduled for Sunday, was to have been staged in the same prison cafeteria where Cash performed before inmates on Jan. 13, 1968. That breakthrough performance became a popular live album.

Prison officials called off the show late Monday, citing problems over filming rights, media access and security concerns.

"Flavor of Love 3"

4th\SE Quadrant of The Approval Matrix: Week of January 21, 2008

That’s right…there’s a new season of Flavor of Love on the way, and this time there’s a twist. In the time since Flavor of Love debuted, Flav has seen his public profile skyrocket. The woman he’s looking for this time around will be a woman of sophistication who can keep up with his high-profile lifestyle. It seems that Flav paid attention to Charm School (after all, he did attend the reunion taping) and saw that his new show could benefit from a new, positive perspective. --VH1

The third season of Flavor of Love is expected to air on Monday February 11, 2008 at 9/8c on VH1. --Wikipedia