Monday, January 31, 2011
From Publishers Weekly
Megaselling Life of Pi author Martel addresses, in this clunky metanarrative, the violent legacy of the 20th century with an alter ego: Henry L'Hôte, an author with a very Martel-like CV who, after a massively successful first novel, gives up writing. Henry and his wife, Sarah, move to a big city (Perhaps it was New York. Perhaps it was Paris. Perhaps it was Berlin), where Henry finds satisfying work in a chocolatería and acting in an amateur theater troupe. All is well until he receives a package containing a short story by Flaubert and an excerpt from an unknown play. His curiosity about the sender leads him to a taxidermist named Henry who insists that Henry-the-author help him write a play about a monkey and a donkey. Henry-the-author is at first intrigued by sweet Beatrice, the donkey, and Virgil, her monkey companion, but the animals' increasing peril draws Henry into the taxidermist's brutally absurd world. Martel's aims are ambitious, but the prose is amateur and the characters thin, the coy self-referentiality grates, and the fable at the center of the novel is unbearably self-conscious. When Martel (rather energetically) tries to tug our heartstrings, we're likely to feel more manipulated than moved.
From Publishers Weekly
Two of France's most polarizing writers give free rein to their intellectual preoccupations, caprices--and egos--as they spar, in a fiery exchange of letters, over Judaism, morality, political commitment, postcommunist Russia, and their own celebrity. Philosopher Lévy (Barbarism with a Human Face) and novelist Houellebecq (The Elementary Particles) draw on an array of sources for their discussions, such as Celine, Comte, Spinoza, and Hugo, but repeatedly throughout the book it is the correspondents themselves who emerge as the preferred subject matter. Both discuss at length their apparent vilification at the hands of the media and this self-absorption threatens to capsize more interesting discussions about writing and the relationship between art and life. (Still their mutual ribbing delights; Houellebecq to Lévy: "A philosopher without an original idea but with excellent contacts, you are, in addition, the creator behind the most preposterous film in the history of cinema.") Nonetheless, there is an undeniable pleasure in being privy to this conversation between these two outsize personalities.
Friday, January 28, 2011
The producer of the Star Wars franchise has apparently told colleagues that the world is due to end next year.
George Lucas interrupted a meeting with actor and comedian Seth Rogen and film director Steven Spielberg to spend "around 25 minutes" outlining his belief in impending armageddon.
Rogen told the Toronto Sun: "George Lucas [sat down] and [proceeded] to talk for around 25 minutes about how he thinks the world is going to end in the year 2012.
"He's going on about the tectonic plates and all the time Spielberg is, like, rolling his eyes, like, 'My nerdy friend won't shut up, I'm sorry.'
The end of the Maya calendar on 21 December 2012 has encouraged some to believe the apocalypse is imminent - a notion popularised by the disaster film 2012.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Facebook is expanding the empire, Google-style. Estimates place the social networking giant's advertising revenue at $1.86 billion for 2010, an 86 percent increase from the year before.
Though Facebook is not yet anywhere close to infringing on Google's ad dominance (the search engine nets close to $2 billion each month), AdAge predicts that Facebook's ad revenue will more than double by the end of 2011, to over $4 billion.
... Facebook's number three advertiser is the bizarre scam site Make-my-baby.com, a strange page using the pretense of a virtual baby face customizable with a mustache or glasses, to gain access to browser settings and reset user homepages to Bing, the Microsoft search engine. According to ReadWriteWeb, the site prompts users to install a browser-plug in which then proceeds to change the default search and homepage to Bing. The affiliate company responsible, Zugo, then receives a piece of the revenue whenever users click through a search ad. Attempts to uninstall the toolbar redirect to a broken link.
on January 26, 2011
I am makin' these peas, while my Lebonese girlfriend jingles her keys and does a strip tease—oddly, I just cut the cheese, and she said, "oh baby, please!" Still cookin' these peas... who's in my front yard playin' ball with the twins the Steves? None the the best, quarterback, Drew Brees.
AHCHOO! That was a sneeze! Please Paula Deen, no more stinkin' peas!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The Big Payback takes us from the first $15 made by a "rapping DJ" in 1970s New York to the recent multi-million-dollar sales of the Phat Farm and Roc-a-Wear clothing companies in 2004 and 2007. On this four-decade-long journey from the studios where the first rap records were made to the boardrooms where the big deals were inked, The Big Payback tallies the list of who lost and who won. Read the secret histories of the early long-shot successes of Sugar Hill Records and Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC's crossover breakthrough on MTV, the marketing of gangsta rap, and the rise of artist/ entrepreneurs like Jay-Z and Sean "Diddy" Combs.
300 industry veterans-well-known giants like Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the founders of Def Jam, and key insiders like Gerald Levin, the embattled former Time Warner chief-gave their stories to renowned hip-hop journalist Dan Charnas, who provides a compelling, never-before seen, myth-debunking view into the victories, defeats, corporate clashes, and street battles along the 40-year road to hip-hop's dominance.
The Downton Abbey estate stands a splendid example of confidence and mettle, its family enduring for generations and its staff a well-oiled machine of propriety. But change is afoot at Downton — change far surpassing the new electric lights and telephone. A crisis of inheritance threatens to displace the resident Crawley family, in spite of the best efforts of the noble and compassionate Earl, Robert Crawley; his American heiress wife, Cora; his comically implacable, opinionated mother, Violet; and his beautiful, eldest daughter, Mary, intent on charting her own course.
From ABC News by By JENNIFER FARRAR
It takes a clever theater company to turn an overstuffed, normally tragic Shakespearean romance into a lively comedy. Fiasco Theater has achieved just that, a genuinely lighthearted playfulness with their bright, streamlined production of William Shakespeare's "Cymbeline."
Their tongue-in-cheek treatment of the play, which is normally handled more as a tragedy with comical moments, is in a very limited run off-Broadway, presented by Theatre for a New Audience at the New Victory Theater.
The basic plot concerns a pair of star-crossed young lovers, played by a spirited Jessie Austrian as Princess Imogen, with Noah Brody stalwart yet gullible as Posthumus, her soon-banished new husband.
By secretly marrying, the pair have defied the will of her father, King Cymbeline, played as a Falstaffian buffoon by Andy Grotelueschen, who also portrays the king's preferred choice for Imogen's husband, his doltish stepson, Cloten.
There's a wicked stepmother-Queen, played with elfin malice by Emily Young, and a loyal servant, Pisanio, given an air of earnest good will by Paul L. Coffey. Ben Steinfeld is gleefully scheming as villainous Iachimo, who dupes Posthumus into doubting Imogen's loyalty.
Through Jan. 30
Monday, January 24, 2011
Rodarte's Laura and Kate Mulleavy created 40 ballet costumes, plus all of Natalie Portman's knitwear and dresses, for Black Swan, but don't expect them to receive any nod from Oscar. If anyone gets an Oscar nomination for costuming the film, it will be Black Swan costume designer Amy Westcott, who received the "costumes by" front credit. The Mulleavys didn't negotiate a credit as part of their initial deal, and they weren't members of the Costume Designers Guild at the time (only guild members are eligible for nominations, and the sisters have since joined).
Friday, January 14, 2011
by Ryan Dezember
HOUSTON—The U.S. Coast Guard expects to rid the Houston Ship Channel of thousands of gallons of spilled animal fat by late Wednesday or early Thursday, an agency spokesman said.
Some 250,000 gallons of beef tallow leaked on early Tuesday evening from ruptured storage tank owned by Jacob Stern & Sons Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based agricultural products company. About 15,000 gallons of the beef fat ended up on the Houston Ship Channel via a storm drain, causing the closure of a small portion of the waterway. The Coast Guard said it is still investigating the cause of the spill.
The spill and the ensuing closure occurred near the northern end of the channel, and have no impact on tanker traffic. But bad weather caused ship traffic delays on Wednesday.
The Coast Guard hired a local company to clean up the fat from the waterway. The agency said that six boats are at the scene, corralling the coagulated fat with boom. The spill is expected to have minimal environmental impact, the Coast Guard said.
"Luckily the stuff is easy to clean up," Mr. Brahm said. "It solidifies at room temperature, so as soon as it hit the water it just kind of sat there."
Thursday, January 13, 2011
From Village Voice
We at the Voice have long been huge fans of Pat Kiernan ... who entertains us regularly with his "smartly selected U.S. newspaper stories" chronicled on his website, Pat's Papers, each day. Alas, today he writes:
I wish this was a cheery New Year's greeting, but I'll get straight to the bad news. As much as I love producing Pat's Papers each day, the website is a money loser. We've been steadily building our audience, so I've been patiently subsidizing the staff and production costs. But the end of the cash is near. I really don't want to shut the site down, but the traffic has to improve to generate enough ad revenue to make a dent in my costs.So I've declared this "Pat's Papers SOS" week. If you enjoy reading the site, we need your help.
He goes on to ask folks to tell five friends about the site and to sign up for his free morning email.
From MTV by Josh Wigler
"Little Fockers" won the top spot for a second straight week — $26.3 million take giving Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro's comedy sequel a total gate of $103.2 million since landing in theaters two weeks ago. While many studios would look at that number as a decisive success, it's a trickier story with "Fockers," as the film's immediate predecessor, "Meet the Fockers," had earned $162.5 million across the same dates in
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
From Space Jam and Amazon
If you don't remember what SPACE JAM was all about then here's a refresher.
"Although at first glance it looks like a movie dreamed up by a marketing committee, Space Jam actually defies the odds against it to become a dazzling display of family entertainment. There's a kind of demented genius to the idea of casting NBA superstar Michael Jordan in a live-action and animated movie costarring the beloved characters from Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes cartoons. They play off each other like seasoned veterans of vaudeville, and Jordan never falls into the kind of awkward, amateurish showmanship that you might expect from a sports idol. They've all been hijacked to an outer-space amusement park run by the Nerdlucks, who strike a Faustian bargain with the Looney heroes: if Bugs and Co. can defeat the Nerdluck "Monstars" in a basketball game, they'll win back their freedom; if they lose, they'll be doomed to stay there forever as enslaved entertainers. So they kidnap Jordan as their coach and "secret weapon" while the nefarious Nerdlucks suck out the basketball skills from such stellar victims as Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing. --Jeff Shannon
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The year is coming to a close, hence a deluge of end-of-year recaps and superlatives. But one of the most observant has to be NBC anchorman Brian Williams' hilariously acerbic observation that the biggest media story of 2010 is the New York Times' "discovery of Brooklyn". Gothamist gleefully reports that NYTPicker has unearthed Williams' rant from the Christmas Eve edition of Morning Joe.
A sampling from the bombastic monologue: "There are open air markets, like trading posts in the early Chippewa tribe, where you can make beads at home and then trade them for someone to come over and start a small fire in your apartment that you share with nine others." Click above for the full video and the fun begins at 0:21.
From TNP by Cristina Ruiz
Artist William Ryman to install a garden of 25ft-high flowers on Park Avenue.
Giant roses will flower in Manhattan next spring. Artist William Ryman is to install 38 plants up to 25 ft high on Park Avenue from 57th to 67th Street. The works will be unveiled in January and will remain in place for five months. Ryman had hoped to scatter giant discarded bottle caps, crushed cans and bubblegum wrappers at the base of the roses but says Mayor Bloomberg is “doing an anti-litter campaign” and would not allow it. The $1m installation has been commissioned by the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee and approved by the New York City Parks Department. Meanwhile at Art Basel, Ryman, son of the minimalist painter Robert, is showing four new works at the Marlborough stand (D15). These, which are as colourful as his blooms, are priced at $50,000 and $60,000.
A Finnish journalist and a photographer out on assignment one June evening suddenly hit a young hare on a country road. The photographer, ultimately unsympathetic, abandons his journalist companion Vatanen, who sets off to find the wounded hare. Vatanen develops a close bond with the hare and in their adventures together, they witness people's avarice, inhumaneness, hypocrisy, cruelty, participation in bureaucracy, and mere existence, rather than living, in the world. This last realization in particular is life altering for Vatanen: he quits his job, discards his hopeless marriage, sacrifices financial security, and sells his most prized possession (a boat). All this Vatanen replaces with a life of odd jobs and on-the-road experiences. This picaresque novel could simply depict a middle-age crisis, but it reaches beyond fantasy or fiction, becoming mythic in its universal themes. The story is inventive, satirical, and quite humorous. It is also refreshingly sentimental in the sense that Paasilinna reaffirms our connection with the animal world and our inherent need for happiness and freedom to maintain quality of life.
Monday, January 10, 2011
In an interview with Capital New York, former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton offered her candid thoughts on food in Brooklyn, food trucks, current Times critic Sam Sifton's work, and David Chang's cooking, and she really isn't keen on any of them. Sheraton, who was the Times' food critic from 1975 to 1983, offered the following:
"[S]o far anywhere I've been to there has not been worth the trip from Manhattan. I haven't been to Al di la, because you have to wait on line, and I'm not going to Brooklyn to wait on line. ... The Times has certainly been very exaggerated in its Brooklyn coverage, because most of them live there. They begin to see it as being better than it is because it's so close to them. I would go to Brooklyn if it were exceptional."
On David Chang:
"I really don't take him seriously as a chef."
On food trucks:
"[A]nd the truck thing, I don't know how long that'll last. I don't know where they eat it, that's what I can't figure out about a truck. Where the hell do you eat it?"
Iran denies report that Ahmadinejad was slapped.
Spokesman says WikiLeaks report saying Revolutionary Guards chief slapped president during argument over freedom of the press meant to divert attention from 'kidnapping of General Reza Asghari'
Tehran has denied a WikiLeaks report that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was slapped by the head of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guards.
According to the WikiLeaks report, a source in Azerbaijan told American diplomats in early 2010 that General Mohammad-Ali Jafari was furious at Ahmadinejad over his stand on freedom of the press and slapped him during a meeting of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
The Fars news agency quoted a Revolutionary Guards spokesman as saying Saturday that "those behind WikiLeaks have availed themselves of the fame they gained through their insider information and invent false stories."
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The NY Times wedding section is a place where people go to envy, analyze, or mock couples who manage to get announcements of their happy unions immortalized. It's not usually a place where you reel in disgust—until today's Vows column which describes two successful middle-aged people who "met in 2006 in a pre-kindergarten classroom. They both had children attending the same Upper West Side school. They also both had spouses." Dunh dunh DUNH.
Since their announcement is in the Times, the two obviously got married: Former WNBC 4 reporter Carol Anne Riddell and media executive John Partilla, now 44 and 46 respectively, apparently fell in love in love amidst school functions—and dinners, Christmas parties, and family vacations their families took together. Before they admitted their feelings to each other, Riddell "said she remembered crying in the shower, asking: 'Why am I being punished? Why did someone throw him in my path when I can’t have him?'" But after painful disclosures to their spouses, separation, and all that other stuff, the couple got married last month. Partilla, who has three kids with his previous wife, said, “I didn’t believe in the word soul mate before, but now I do." Ouch.
From BN by Raanan Geberer
ATLANTIC AVENUE — For at least 20 years, railfan Bob Diamond’s tours of the abandoned 19th century Long Island Railroad tunnel in Downtown Brooklyn have been a perennial local favorite.
Local residents and others who have gone on the tours, entering the tunnel under Atlantic Avenue through a manhole and climbing down a ladder, have been impressed by Diamond’s knowledge of railroad history – which is appropriate, since he rediscovered the long-closed tunnel himself in the early 1980s.
When the Fire Department earlier this month moved to cancel a weekend film showing in the tunnel that he was co-sponsoring with Rooftop Films, supporters may have consoled him with the facts that he still could sponsor his trademark tours and that National Geographic TV was still going ahead with its plan to film a special on Diamond in the tunnel.
However, even this has now come to an end. On Friday evening, Diamond received a communication from Anne Koenig, executive director of the city Department of Transportation (DOT), that revoked the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association’s (Diamond’s organization) “revocable consent for the continued maintenance and use of a railroad tunnel, together with two public entrances, a manhole and ventilators in Atlantic Avenue from Columbia Street to Boerum Place.”
The DOT’s action may have been prompted by a letter to that agency from Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, dated the same day, that expressed “the Fire Department’s serious public safety concerns regarding the use of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel … These public safety concerns are so serious that the Fire Department strongly recommends that the Department of Transportation exercise its discretion to immediately revoke the revocable consent.”
The FDNY did include several possible “remedies,” such as the establishment of a “second means of access/egress” to the tunnel, installation of code-compliant electrical wiring and lighting, provision of first-aid equipment and more.
Diamond, in communications with the Eagle, has maintained that he has repeatedly asked DOT to build a second entrance, but the DOT has refused to act on it.
On the BHRA’s web site, Diamond urged his supporters to call local elected officials. Meanwhile the Gothamist blog polled readers on whether Diamond should be allowed to lead his tours.