Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Knight Rider" Disappoints

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

Garry Stevens of the blog, From the Box Seat, posted the following review:

I certainly wasn’t expecting a lot out of NBC’s Sunday night, made-for-tv "Knight Rider" movie. With that in mind, I went in expecting very little from Knight Rider - and was still somehow shocked at how absolutely terrible it was.

Surprisingly, KITT, voiced by Val Kilmer, was the least of the movie’s problems. The new and highly controversial model of the artificially intelligent auto was a Ford Shelby GT500KR Mustang, which when all is said and done, is a pretty sweet car. Of course, this advance in technology turned out to fall short of the the Two Thousand’s plain old bullet-proofiness when we learned that when KITT’s computer is shut down, he’s just as vulnerable as my 1992 Honda Civic.

As sheik as KITT was, everything impressive about the car was shown within the first 6 minutes of the movie. To say it went “downhill” from there would be an understatement.

Almost the entirety of the two hours of this debacle was dedicated to Sarah and/or Mike riding across the country, talking to a car. That’s it. In two hours, nothing happened. There were conversations about parents, about love, about careers and about emotions - all with a car. Conversely, there was no turbo boosting, passanger-door clothes-lining, ejection-seat jumping or slamming head-on through walls. As a matter of fact, there was no action at all. Lots of talky though.

However, according to the New York Times, “Knight Rider” (12.7 million) earned the highest ratings in the 18-to-49 age group for a made-for-television movie on any network in almost three years.

Bindi Irwin Dolls

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By Celebrity Fashion Watcher

Sunday, 02/17/2008

Terri [Irwin] with the ‘Bindi Irwin Doll’ at Toy Fair 2008 held at The Javits Centre NYC Today [February 17, 2008]. Wild Republic, the nature-themed toy brand of K&M International, Inc., in a partnership with Australia Zoo, will launch a full product range that carries Bindi’s wildlife messages of nature preservation and conservation. The toy range is highlighted by the fully articulating Bindi doll and various Bindi Australia Zoo playsets, plush and bendables.

Bai Ling Blames Bust on Bad Break Up

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By Binside TV

E! News reports the "Lost" actress [Bai Ling] blames the bust on a bad break up with her boyfriend before Valentines Day. The 37-year-old actress and scenester exclusively tells E! News that she split with her new boyfriend Wednesday before she was scheduled to fly from LAX to New Mexico to begin shooting a film, turning it into an "emotionally crazy" day for her.

She was dealing with the "huge problem of breaking up [before] Valentine's Day" when she was arrested for shoplifting, Ling said, adding, simply, "Wrong boyfriend."

Just before she was supposed to board an afternoon Southwest flight to Albuquerque, the actress, whose credits include guest roles on "Lost" and "Entourage," was detained by a gift shop employee for trying to walk out of the store without paying for $16 worth of in-flight entertainment—two magazines and two packs of AAA batteries. She was taken into custody by LAPD and booked on one count of misdemeanor shoplifting at nearby Pacific Station before being released on her own recognizance.

Tokio Hotel

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

Tokio Hotel Leaves "TRL" in New York City on Monday, August 4, 2008.

Tokio Hotel is a German rock band. The quartet has scored four number one singles, two number one albums have sold nearly 3 million CDs and DVDs in their homeland. So far they have had much chart success in Germany and Austria. They also had some chart success in France, Italy, Israel, Sweden, Belgium, and Switzerland. However, while still struggling for success in most English-speaking countries, the band has released English language versions of Scream and Ready, Set, Go! in the UK, and are currently enjoying exposure in Canada and the United States.
-- Wikipedia

Miley Cyrus [Hanna Montana] Oscar Presenter

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008
Tomoneil posted the following on a L.A Times blog:

Miley Cyrus [Hanna Montana] isn't really a film star, of course. That "documentary" of hers in theaters right now is just an affordable alternative for tweens whose parents can't, or won't, pay gabillions for real concert tix. Does she really deserve a place on the stage at the Oscars, which presumably celebrate the best of cinema? Or is this just a stunt to draw more TV viewers?

And her appearances at award shows aren't over. According to E! News:

Fresh off her latest gig as an Oscar presenter, Miley Cyrus is ready to try her hand at hosting an awards show.

The Hannah Montana star and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, will serve as cohosts of the 2008 CMT Music Awards, organizers announced Tuesday. In addition, the father-daughter duo will also perform at the Apr. 14 event.

(Photo courtesy of Disney)

Lily Allen Dropped from Agent Provocateur

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By Daily Mail

19th February 2008

Lily Allen has been dropped as the face of Agent Provocateur. The Smile singer was reportedly dumped by the lingerie firm after a disagreement between the company's bosses over her pictures. Allen, 22, is said to be "gutted" after putting herself through gruelling gym sessions to get in shape for the ads.

Allen, who was to take over from Kate Moss, was snapped in a corset and stockings with a whip and was said to be "really proud of her new figure", according to a friend. But she was ditched after Joe Corre, 40, and Serena Rees, 39, who own the business and are divorcing, failed to agree if she was the right girl for the job. A company spokesman said no decision had been made and the photos may still be used.

Ladders Advertisement

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

GPS Navigator with a Breathalyzer

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

Billed as the first in the world, NDrive's G400 is a GPS navigator with a breathalyzer built into the side. The fact that it costs 200€—just under $300—and that, according to Kit, who lives in Portugal, they're given away for free with the country's motorway toll widget...
-- Gizmodo

Return of the Dunk Contest

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

Georgia the Wonder Kitty is Found

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

A kitten that spent 25 days meandering through New York City’s tunnel system has been returned home.

Ashley Phillips, a 24 year-old librarian in the Bronx, says she first lost her cat while returning home from a vet visit. While waiting on the platform, little Georgia managed to slip out of her carrier.

Over the weekend, two subway workers heard that a black cat had been spotted under an east-side station. Track workers Efrain LaPorte and Mark Delassio said they found Georgia while walking through the area and making meowing sounds.

Six month-old Georgia meowed back. She had lost some weight during her adventure, but other than a scratch on her nose was no worse for the wear. -- ZooToo

On the "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update segment that aired this past Saturday, it was mentioned that Georgia survived by hanging out with a subway break dancing crew. Ok, so you had to be there. It was actually very funny!

(Photo courtesy of ZooToo)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Barack Obama is Your New

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

Every time you click on the site a new saying appears, such as, "Barack Obama Lent You His Jacket," "Barack Obama Baked You a Pie,"and "Barack Obama Left a Comment on Your Blog."

Stuff White People Like

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

From the About section of the Stuff White People Like blog:

This is a scientific approach to highlight and explain stuff white people like. They are pretty predictable.

Home Run Apple to New Mets Stadium

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

We posted about this issue before:

Gothamist reports that the Home Run Apple will not be moved to the Mets’ new Citi Field baseball stadium when the team moves in 2009; however, fans can still sign a petition at to prevent the Apple’s retirement. The Home Run Apple has been sitting behind the center field wall in Shea Stadium for 27 years.

However, it now appears that the Apple will be moving to the new stadium, but according to AOL," Mets officials said they did not know whether it would be the same fiberglass apple that has popped up like a champagne cork following Mets homers since 1980."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"The Logic of Life"

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

From Publishers Weekly\via Amazon

Financial Times and columnist Harford (The Undercover Economist) provides an entertaining and provocative look at the logic behind the seemingly irrational. Arguing that rational behavior is more widespread than most people expect, Harford uses economic principles to draw forth the rational elements of gambling, the teenage oral sex craze, crime and other supposedly illogical behaviors to illustrate his larger point. Utilizing John von Neumann and Thomas Schelling's conceptions of game theory, Harford applies their approach to a multitude of arenas, including marriage, the workplace and racism.

Contrarily, he also shows that individual rational behavior doesn't always lead to socially desired outcomes. Harford concludes with how to apply this thinking on an even bigger scale, showing how rational behavior shapes cities, politics and the entire history of human civilization. Well-written with highly engaging stories and examples, this book will be of great interest to Freakonomics and Blink fans as well as anyone interested in the psychology of human behavior.

"Sunday in the Park with George"

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

"A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."

A musical with book by James Lapine, based on the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. George, a painter, has trouble connecting with his lover, Dot, when he thinks he has to choose between her and painting because he can't balance them both. The second act reveals that his great-grandson has similar problems, but he is able to start working through them when he returns to the island (now covered in condos) and is visited by a spectral vision of Dot.

Show Dates:
Opening 21 Feb 2008
Closing 15 Jun 2008

Performance Schedule:
Tuesday - Saturday @8pm
Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday @2pm

Theatre Information:
Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019

"August Wilson's 20th Century" at Kennedy Center

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By Broadway World

February 6, 2008

The most awarded African-American playwright in history, August Wilson's crowning achievement was his ten-play cycle, "August Wilson's 20th Century" in which each work is set in a different decade in the 1900's. The cycle, often titled the Pittsburgh Cycle because nine of the ten plays are set in Pittsburgh, chronicles the African-American experience in the 20th century. "August Wilson's 20th Century" will be presented in a series of staged readings at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St. NW Washington, DC 20566).

The Plays and Dates:
1900s: Gem of the Ocean (March 4-8)
1910s: Joe Turner's Come and Gone (March 6-8)
1920s: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (March 9-11)
1930s: The Piano Lesson (March 12-15)
1940s: Seven Guitars (March 14-16)
1950s: Fences (March 16-19)
1960s: Two Trains Running (March 20-25)
1970s: Jitney (March 22-26)
1980s: King Hedley II (March 23-27)
1990s: Radio Golf (March 28-29)

Allen C. Guelzo's “Lincoln and Douglas”

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

William Grimes of the New York Times wrote in his review of the book,"In his searching and illuminating “Lincoln and Douglas” the eminent Lincoln historian Allen C. Guelzo does the great service of bringing the debates back down to earth, placing them in the context of a brutal four-month senatorial campaign."

"The debates, Mr. Guelzo repeatedly emphasizes, were only part of an often dirty political campaign, not a series of Socratic dialogues."

Book Description from Amazon:

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history.

What carried this one-term congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country's most formidable politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas directly in one of his greatest speeches -- "A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- and confronted Douglas on the questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. As this brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation.

Of course, the great issue between Lincoln and Douglas was slavery. Douglas was the champion of "popular sovereignty," of letting states and territories decide for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a moral line, arguing that slavery was a violation both of natural law and of the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. No majority could ever make slavery right, he argued.

Lincoln lost that Senate race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," whom almost everyone thought was unbeatable. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history.

The Dubai Arch Bridge

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By Popular Mechanics\Matt Sullivan

Published on: February 12, 2008

As if the Burg Dubai tower wasn't already taking the worldwide skyscraper race to new heights, this as-yet-unnamed span will be the world's largest arch bridge, with 2000 vehicles set to cross its 12 lanes—per hour, in each direction—when it's slated for completion in 2012. At 670 ft. tall, Dubai's next super structure will stand higher than the George Washington Bridge (604 ft.) but fall short of San Francisco's existing Golden Gate Bridge (746 ft.).

Images Courtesy of Fxfowle International

Cai Guo-Qiang's "Importune: Stage One"

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

For "Importune: Stage One," nine white Chevrolets are arranged within the Guggenheim -- one on the ground floor, another on the top ramp and seven dangling in mid-air. The work is meant to mimic the impact of a car bomb, with the nine cars representing the trajectory of one car ricocheting through the center of the museum.

David Heald - Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York
-- Washington Post

"Inopportune: Stage One"

Monday, February 25, 2008

“We’re Forgetting AIDS” amfAR’s Ads

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By amfAR

January 30, 2008

Prevention is the focus of amfAR’s latest public service advertising campaign, designed to remind the public that AIDS remains the most devastating epidemic of our time. On a black background, red, gray, and white lettering announces a stark truth: “We’re Forgetting AIDS.”

The ads promote the theme “Prevention Is the Cure” by citing statistics showing that large numbers of people still engage in unprotected sex, and by urging people to fight the epidemic by protecting themselves and their partners.

London Mayor Joins Anti-Bottle Brigade

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By Grist

February 20, 2008

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has joined the anti-bottle brigade, exhorting Londoners to drink from the sink and declaring that bottled water served to restaurant patrons costs 500 times more than tap water and is 300 times more damaging to the environment.

Launching his "London on Tap" blitz on Tuesday, Livingstone said using fewer bottles would help climate change.

Bottled water, he added, left a higher carbon footprint -- some imported brands travel from as far as New Zealand -- and he urged consumers not to be embarrassed about asking for tap water in restaurants.

"We need to do everything we can to lower these (carbon) emissions," he told reporters. "There is no need to buy the expensive bottled water that has become a bit of a fad in recent years."

Nabokov Estate Contretemps

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

(Vladimir Nabokov with his son Dimitri)

Nabokov's last novel lies in a Swiss vault, hailed by the few who have read it as his finest work – but before he died he ordered that the manuscript be destroyed.

Somewhere in Switzerland there’s a safety-deposit box that contains one of the most divisive literary manuscripts on earth. It’s been over 30 years since it was deposited there, and locking it away was less a decision than a a way of putting off the worst. If Vladimir Nabokov’s unambiguous request had been obeyed, the work, transcribed from 50 index cards on which the great writer noted down the bare bones of his final and incomplete novel, would have been immediately destroyed. But his executors – his beloved wife, Véra, and his adored son, Dmitri – vacillated.
-- Times Online

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (April 22 [O.S. April 10] 1899, Saint Petersburg – July 2, 1977, Montreux) was a multilingual Russian-American novelist and short story writer.

Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to entomology and had an interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's "Lolita" (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works. Nabokov himself regarded his four-volume translation of Aleksandr Pushkin's Eugene Onegin as his other major achievement.
-- Wikipedia

(Photo courtesy of Philippe Halsman / Magnum Photos)

Rosewood Resorts Presents Adam Gopnik

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

It appears that this occurred last year. I wasn't able to find any current information on this, but here it goes anyway. I personally like Adam Gopnik. I've seen his "Lighting Up New York" documentary about ten times! (I use it for a class I teach.)

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce the newest chapter of its exclusive Hot Type Author Series: world-renowned writer Adam Gopnik. Known for his outstanding work at The New Yorker and his playful Parisian-inspired novels, Paris to the Moon and The King in the Window, Gopnik will be visiting Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, January 27-31, 2007, to host a series of gatherings where guests will have the exclusive opportunity to discuss his past works, his adventures in Paris as well as his most recent book, Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York with him.


A writer for The New Yorker since 1986, Adam Gopnik has come to be known as one of the preeminent, wittiest, and most charming interpreters of contemporary life writing today.

Adam Gopnik has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism an unprecedented three times, as well as the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. He lives now in New York with his wife, Martha Parker, and their two children, Luke Auden and Olivia Esme Claire.

Russians Claim North Pole Ocean Floor

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

Russians Carry Gun on Space Station

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

By WESH Orlando News

February 14, 2008

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station apparently have access to a gun.

Russian Cosmonauts carry a gun on their Soyuz space capsule, which is attached to the space station.

Every spacecraft carries survival gear for crash landings, and the Russian Soyuz has a kit that includes the gun.

But although the gun has been there for as long as the space station has been in orbit, its existence is kept quiet. NASA and Russian officials won't talk publicly about it.

[However]Former NASA engineer Jim Oberg, who is an author and journalist, wrote about the gun on his Web site. He said the gun has no place in an environment where people are under such high stress.
The Approval Matrix: Week of March 3, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vendors Jailed in LA for Grilling Bacon Hot Dogs

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

By LA Weekly\Daniel Hernandez
February 6, 2008

As she speaks, a customer approaches, peering at her meat bin. "No bacon?" "No bacon," sighs apologetically, in accented English. "They don't let me." She means police and L.A. health-department inspectors...

The grilled bacon, twisted around a wiener, is topped with grilled onions and a mountaintop of diced tomatoes, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Then one whole grilled green poblano chile is plopped impossibly on top.

[Palacios] would love to sell bacon-wrapped hot dogs — trust her — but a trip last year to the women's county jail, a trip she says officials orchestrated to "make an example" of her, finally pushed her to give up the bacon and illegal grilling device she used for so long. Instead, she prepares dogs the only way the county Environmental Health Department currently allows, by boiling or steaming. Not grilling. And grilling is the only way to make a classic L.A. bacon-wrapped hot dog.

Last May, she was sentenced to 45 days in county jail for repeatedly violating food codes. Once out, Palacios and her companeros on the streets of the Fashion District formed an advocacy group to protest what they call harassment on the part of police and inspectors, fully aware that they are fighting an uphill battle.

Nicholas Cage Sues Kathleen Turner

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Kathleen Turner has written an autobiography called "Send Yourself Roses," and Nicholas Cage is not happy. In fact, he's suing:

A "defamation, libel and slander" case had been issued at London's High Court, a courts spokesman said. It relates to claims made in her book, "Send Yourself Roses," over Mr Cage's behaviour when the pair co-starred in 1986 comedy "Peggy Sue Got Married." A spokesman for Mr Cage in Los Angeles said the action followed "false allegations that appear in a forthcoming autobiography", the Daily Telegraph reported.

In the book, Turner writes of Cage:

He caused so many problems. He was arrested twice for drunk-driving and, I think, once for stealing a dog. He'd come across a chihuahua he liked and stuck it in his jacket.
-- Huffington Post

Paparazzi Heckles Britney with Animal Noises

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

By Gawker

Probably panicked that Britney Spears might, through some miracle, actually become a sober functioning human being, the paparazzi started heckling her and her parents, literally making high-pitched jungle animal noises. Some editors thought the paps were infiltrated by actual Crip and Blood gang members, as if that could somehow be worse than their actual behavior.

This video is slightly unrelated, but unbelievable nonetheless. Paparazzi "Heckles" Britney.

Seacrest to Produce Denise Richards’ Show

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Andy Dehnart posted on the reality tv blog Reality Blurred:

Ryan Seacrest is producing a reality series about Denise Richards’ life, a show that’s been the focus of a court battle this week with her ex-husband Charlie Sheen.

Seacrest told OK! Magazine, “We’ve been in talks about doing a series with her. I don’t know if the kids would necessarily be involved. It would be about her, if we do this, and her life. And what she wants to do with it, with her career.”

In court this week, “despite Sheen’s objections, a court commissioner greenlighted Richards’ plans for a reality show featuring her and Sheen’s two daughters, 3-year-old Sam and 2-year-old Lola,” according to E! Online. “There are unspecified ground rules, a source said, but otherwise Richards was ‘very happy.’ Richards was said to have needed Sheen’s permission to make the project work, but the Two and a Half Men star had shown no sign of being okay with the girls appearing on camera.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pedro Cockfight

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Animal rights groups are accusing Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez and Hall of Fame hurler Juan Marichal of fowl play after both were shown attending a cockfight in the Dominican Republic in a video posted on YouTube last week.

"Animal fighting has no place whatsoever among those who presume to be role models for youngsters," added [Wayne] Pacelle, [president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States]. "Not in this country, and not elsewhere."

Cockfighting is legal in the Dominican Republic, but illegal in 48 states in the U.S. Louisiana passed a law banning the blood sport that will go into effect in August. New Mexico, the other state where cockfighting is legal, has no pending legislation to ban the sport.
-- Daily News

"Crossing Midnight"

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

"Crossing Midnight" is an American horror/fantasy comic set in contemporary Japan. It is written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Jim Fern and Eric Nguyen. Vertigo, a subsidiary of DC Comics, currently publishes it.

Plot from Wikipedia:

A rash pact made between a young father and Aratsu, Lord of Swords, results in his wife giving birth to twins, one on either side of midnight. Fifteen years later, Aratsu returns, demanding one of the twins as payment.

Book Description from Amazon:

A fantasy/horror series set in the heart of present-day Nagakaki, Japan where a set of extraordinary twins are bornone just before midnight and the other just after. They discover the huge impact this minor difference has on their destinies when the after-midnight twin, Toshi, is inducted into a world of supernatural beings and events that intersects with our own world. Now Toshi and her brother, Kai, desperately try to stay one step ahead of their terrifying fates while they learn how far their new world of terror intersects with their own. In this volume, Toshi must choose her weapons and begin her hazardous training through a fairy- tale-gone-wrong world like nothing anyone has ever experienced. Plus, Kai falls in with the enjokosaimiddle- to high-school-age girls who go on dates for money. It's legal in Japan, but a supernatural slasher is voicing disapproval in the bloodiest ways imaginable.

Dump Masters of NY Inc. and Mob Busted

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

(Photo courtesy of Chip East\Reuters)

In the largest sweep in recent memory, federal and New York State authorities on Thursday rounded up scores of accused organized crime figures who were indicted on charges including murder, racketeering, construction extortions and the looting of union benefit funds.

More than 80 people — among them the entire Gambino family hierarchy and reputed figures from the Genovese and Bonanno families — are named in two indictments, along with union and construction industry officials.

Four trucking company executives, from companies including SRD Contracting, Firehawk Enterprises, Jo-Tap Industries, Andrews Trucking and Dump Masters of NY Inc., were also charged.
-- New York Times

Jared Retires

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

By Reuters

February 12, 2008

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 02/12/08 -- Jared Fogle, the man who lost more than 245 pounds by eating SUBWAY® sandwiches and exercising, announced today that he's "hanging up" his iconic fat pants after 10 years of successfully keeping the weight off and focusing on a new $2 million, 3-point plan to fight childhood obesity. New York Giants Defensive End Michael Strahan, a friend and supporter of Fogle, is partnering with him to launch a new program for The Jared Foundation.

After starting his diet in 1998 and gaining fame for his weight loss success in 2000, Fogle began traveling more than 200 days each year sharing his story and inspiring millions of people. Along the way, his 60-inch waist pants have served as a reminder of how easy it can be to slip back into old habits. Now that it's been a decade, a fit and trim Fogle says he's officially leaving the pants behind. He'll be embarking on a year-long "Tour de Pants" to raise awareness and funds for The Jared Foundation before retiring his original pants to the new Advertising Icon Museum.

Strahan was first introduced to Fogle on the set of a SUBWAY® restaurant commercial and since then the two have had a camaraderie and common interest in this cause. Strahan will serve as an honorary board member on The Jared Foundation, working with Fogle.

World's Only Blue-Eyed Koala

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

By The Daily Telegraph

HE gets his name from Ol' Blue Eyes himself - and no wonder given Frankie is the world's only blue-eyed koala.

His piercing eyes have dumbfounded animal carers who were so worried they tested his vision.

Staff at his Dreamworld home on the Gold Coast [Australia] found that apart from some reduced pigmentation, Frankie, named after Frank Sinatra, has perfect vision.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TV Returns!

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Everybody probably knows it by now, but the 100-day writer's strike has ended.

Under the tentative agreement, writers would get a maximum flat fee of about $1,200 for programs streamed on the Internet in the deal's first two years and then get 2 percent of a distributor's gross in year three — a key union demand. Other provisions include increased residual payments for movies and TV programs downloaded from the Internet. The last writers strike, a 153-day walkout in 1988, resulted in an estimated $500 million in lost wages.
-- Yahoo! News

Editor's Note: I think this is good for the writers, because I personally watch all my "television" on the Internet. (I don't have enough self-control to have cable television. I'd waste too much time.) It's only fair that the writers get paid too. TV Guide has a post about when your favorite television shows will return. For example, "30 Rock" is set to return on April 10.

"NY Times" Migraine Blog

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

About This Blog: More than 28 million Americans, and many more people throughout the world, suffer from migraine headaches, one of the most debilitating of pain disorders. Symptoms like excruciating pain, visual disturbance and disorientation are often compounded by long-term emotional, physical and financial costs. The contributors to this blog, all sufferers, reflect on how this affliction has affected their lives, and on their efforts to manage and cope with the pain.

HarperCollins Posts Free Books on Web

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

In an attempt to increase book sales, HarperCollins Publishers will begin offering free electronic editions of some of its books on its Web site, including a novel by Paulo Coelho and a cookbook by the Food Network star Robert Irvine.

The idea is to give readers the opportunity to sample the books online in the same way that prospective buyers can flip through books in a bookstore.

“It’s like taking the shrink wrap off a book,” said Jane Friedman, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. “The best way to sell books is to have the consumer be able to read some of that content.” -- New York Times

Jennifer Sardam of Observed in Books: A Reader's Blog posted that, "HarperCollins also plans to upload a different title by Coelho each month for the rest of the year."

Operatic Version of "The Fly"

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Howard Shore, and David Cronenberg recently announced that, along with Placido Domingo, they'll be turning their version of George Langelaan's The Fly into an opera.

According to The CBC, the trio will have their Fly opera open in Paris on July 1, 2008 before moving over to Los Angeles some time in September. The production will consist of a chorus, a 75-piece orchestra and three characters: a baritone, a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. As a diehard fan of the flick, I'm guessing the ill-fated Seth Brundle is the baritone, his lady love the soprano and the horribly awful Stathis Barnes as the tenor. Too bad I won't be anywhere near Paris next July or Los Angeles next September.
-- Cinematical

Plot Summary for The Fly: Seth Brundle is a scientist working on teleportation. Just when he thinks he's ironed out the last bug in his system, the intervention of a common house fly turns Seth into a 6 foot insect. The transformation from man to fly is gradual but horrific, and is witnessed by Veronica; a reporter documenting Seth's story. Seth has some time to try to find a cure, but is there enough time...?
-- IMDb\Rob Hartill

"Please No Strollers"

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

By New York Times\Alex Williams

February 10, 2008

THESE days little children are brought along to places that would have been considered inappropriate a generation ago: four-star restaurants, cocktail parties, rock concerts. But for all the sniping from adults who resent this territorial invasion, the onslaught shows no sign of letting up. In fact, one of its latest flash points is the local bar.

When the owners of Union Hall — a moody, dark-paneled bar and brunch spot in Park Slope, Brooklyn — recently posted a sign that read “Please, No Strollers” under another one reading “No One Under 21 Admitted,” they did not see it as a declaration of war with the neighborhood’s sizable population of young parents.

“The word gets out that this is a place for baby buggies to go, we end up with 8 to 10 strollers, or 15,” said Jim Carden, an owner. He explained that the goal was simply to make sure that the preferred transportation for toddlers of the stay-at-home parents who had adopted the lounge as an afternoon hangout would not crowd out the regular patrons.

Perhaps he underestimated the neighborhood’s vocal and proactive parents. Local parenting blogs were soon bristling with denunciations.

The move by Union Hall is not the first time a local business invited censure by taking on the stroller class. Last year, the two-story Barnes & Noble on Seventh Avenue posted a sign restricting strollers to a designated area on its ground floor; the sign was removed after a neighborhood outcry. In 2005, a bartender at the Patio Lounge, a bar on Fifth Avenue, posted a sign — still known as the infamous “Stroller Manifesto” on local parents’ blogs — that asked, “What is it with people bringing their kids into bars?”

Coen Brothers to Adapt New Film

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Joel and Ethan Coen, directors of Fargo and Oscar-nominated No Country for Old Men, reached a deal with American author Michael Chabon for the book, according to trade publication Variety.

In The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Chabon has created an alternative history. Berlin has been destroyed by an atom bomb; Israel lost the 1948 War of Independence; and a community of Jewish refugees is living in Alaska.

That small Alaskan community, itself precarious, is the setting for an alcoholic detective's investigation of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who might be the messiah. -- CBC

According to the blog, Film School Rejects, no casting decisions have been made.

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Christensen/Associated Press)

Roy Scheider 1932 – 2008

2nd NE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

Roy Scheider, a stage actor with a background in the classics who became one of the leading figures in the American film renaissance of the 1970s, died on Sunday afternoon in Little Rock, Ark. He was 75 and lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Mr. Scheider had suffered from multiple myeloma for several years, and died of complications from a staph infection, his wife, Brenda Siemer, said.

Mr. Scheider’s rangy figure, gaunt face and emotional openness made him particularly appealing in everyman roles, most famously as the agonized police chief of “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s 1975 breakthrough hit, about a New England resort town haunted by the knowledge that a killer shark is preying on the local beaches. -- New York Times

Mr. Scheider was nominated for an Academy Award, and Golden Globe for "All that Jazz," and an Academy Award for "The French Connection."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Four Paintings Stolen from Bührle Collection

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

The E. G. Bührle Collection room in Zurich that held the four paintings.

Three men wearing ski masks walked into a private museum here in daylight, grabbed four 19th-century masterpieces, tossed them into a van and sped off, pulling off one of the largest and most audacious art robberies of all time. It was the second multimillion-dollar art heist in Switzerland in less than a week.

Switzerland was stunned, not just by the loss of half a dozen masterpieces by the likes of Picasso and Monet but, based on police reports emerging Monday, by the seeming ease with which they disappeared.

On Sunday, the three men who entered the E. G. Bührle Collection here took four paintings — a Cézanne, a Degas, a van Gogh and a Monet together worth an estimated $163 million — but not the most valuable works in the collection. The four just happened to be hanging in the same room. -- New York Times

"Poppies near Vétheuil" (1879), by Claude Monet.

"Boy in the Red Waistcoat" (1888), by Paul Cezanne.

"Blossoming Chestnut Branches" (1890), by Vincent van Gogh.

"Count Lepic and his Daughters" (1871), by Edgar Degas.

(Photos courtesy of Keystone, via Associated Press, and Getty Images)

Williamsburg SteelWorks Loft's Ads

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

By Curbed

Monday, February 11, 2008

The latest luxe condo marketing push in the Burg involves The SteelWorks Lofts on N. 4 Street between Berry and Wythe, a huge old industrial building that's being converted (at the hands of Gene Kaufman) to 96 condos. Meanwhile, Manhattan designers AvroKO are handling interiors, which should draw some added attention. A limited website is up, with the industrial image above, plus a 1940s or 1950s-vintage woman with the slogan, "They Work Harder, So You Can Live Better." Bottom line: get a $1.2M+ condo with a hot design where someone used to work in 125 degree heat welding steel. The sales campaign is similar o the Sophia Lofts on Roebling Street, which played off the building's history as a bakery. In the case of the SteelWorks (it once housed the Lewis Steel Products Corp.), the welders worked to leave us studios starting at $560,000 and those AvroKO interiors.

Shuster Suspended For "Pimped Out" Comment

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

On Thursday's "Tucker" on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks.

In the "pimped out" reference, Shuster was talking about Chelsea Clinton's role in her mother's campaign. Shuster said, "Doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?" -- Mediabistro

David Shuster: Chelsea Being "Pimped Out?"

Hating on Herbie Hancock

1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

... when it came time for the final announcement, album of the year, the award went to 67-year-old jazz legend Herbie Hancock for "River: The Joni Letters," his album of Joni Mitchell interpretations. The decision appeared to shock many, though Hancock wasn't caught off-stride.

In his acceptance, the pianist, who had earlier co-performed George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," paid tribute to a number of his predecessors, most notably mentor Miles Davis.

"I'd like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mold this time, in doing so, honoring the giants upon whose shoulders I stand, some of whom like Miles Davis, John Coltrane ... unquestionably deserved the award in the past," Hancock said. "But this is a new day, that proves that the impossible can be made possible."

"River" is the first jazz album to win album of the year since Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's 1964 "Getz/Gilberto" pulled off the trick. The two works are the only jazz albums to have done so.
-- CNN


1st NW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 25, 2008

(CNN) -- Democrats say they have a "dream team" of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama but they might be looking at a nightmare if superdelegates have to determine which one will be at the top of the ticket.

Usually the superdelegates are an afterthought -- the nominee normally emerges before the National Democratic Convention by winning enough delegates in the caucuses and primaries to capture the nomination.

But this year, Obama and Clinton are running such a tight race that after millions of votes and months of campaigning, neither candidate is expected to have the 2,025 delegates needed to seal the nomination before the August convention.

And the superdelegates, a group of about 800 people who cast their vote at the convention, could set a candidate over the top.

Superdelegates -- made up of governors, senators, house members and various other other party officials or members -- are also known as "unpledged" delegates.

They are free to choose the candidate they like, while pledged delegates are assigned in primaries and caucuses.

Many superdelegates pledge allegiance to a candidate well before the party convention, but they can change their minds. Superdelegates make up around 20 percent of the total delegates.

On the Road Again...

I'm on the road again. It's mid-winter break for public schools in New York City, so I'm on vacation - but not from posting. Posting will be delayed until this afternoon or evening, and will continue as usual tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, and this weeks Approval Matrix is posted below!

The Approval Matrix: Week of February 25, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

No Approval Matrix Until Tomorrow?

It doesn't look like the new Approval Matrix will be posted on New York magazine's website until tomorrow, because of the holiday. I'll keep checking, but I'm travelling this morning from North Carolina (Don't ask!) back to New York City. There isn't a new issue at the hotel here. I'll check the newsstands when I get to the airport, otherwise we'll be back tomorrow.

Sorry, and thanks for reading!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ryan Seacrest 's Superbowl Pregame Show

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 18, 2008

News Corp.'s Fox used Ryan Seacrest, host of its American Idol, in what was billed as the first made-for-TV Super Bowl red-carpet walk. Fox's Terry Bradshaw probably spoke for many viewers: "Seacrest, the only time I thought I'd see you at the Super Bowl would be as a cheerleader." Said Fox NFL pregame comedian Frank Caliendo: "Boy, nothing says 'NFL-tough' like Ryan Seacrest. I guess Richard Simmons was booked."
-- USA Today

[Ryan Seacrest] annoyingly referred to Hugh Laurie (who looked like he was being held at gunpoint to promote House's supercool post-Super Bowl episode) as "Dr. House." Have a little respect, Ryan — the guy's an award-winning actor, not Urkel!
-- TV Guide

Some of the celebrities to walk the "red carpet" included John Travolta, American Idol's Jordin Sparks, and Alicia Keys.

Fox's Declaration of Independence Super Bowl Ad

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 18, 2008

Andrew McCarthy in "Lipstick Jungle"

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 18, 2008

Plot Outline: A look at the lives of Nico, Wendy, and Victory -- three of "New York's 50 Most Powerful Women," according to The New York Post.


Andrew McCarthy gained recognition in Hollywood as his classic, clean-cut good looks continually had him placed as the sincere and kind leading man. As McCarthy's career grew, he involuntarily became a member of the infamous 80's Hollywood teen group, the Brat Pack. McCarthy's better known films include the Brat Pack films, such as St. Elmo's Fire and Pretty in Pink. -- Wikipedia

Bruce Fretts posted on TV Guide, "Cheers to Lipstick Jungle for miscasting Andrew McCarthy as Joe Bennett, the billionaire who romances fashion designer Victory Ford (Lindsay Price). In Sex and the City scribe Candace Bushnell’s excruciatingly self-derivative new NBC dramedy, Mr. Bennett seems like a Mr. Big wannabe. But with his diffident, charisma-free performance, ex-Brat Packer McCarthy (Pretty in Pink) seems more like Mr. Medium-Size."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rush Limbaugh Predicts Liberal's Dimise

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 18, 2008

By The Huffington Post

February 6, 2008

Rush Limbaugh's potty mouth runneth over.

Even some fellow conservatives think the cigar-chomping pundit has gone too far in his latest use of the phrase "anal poisoning."

Limbaugh was ranting against Sen. John McCain on his radio show this week when a caller asked whether he thought McCain would pick Sen. Lindsey Graham as his running mate. Limbaugh doubted it, though he admitted: "I may be wrong ... Lindsey Graham is certainly close enough to [McCain] to die of anal poisoning."

Graham's office didn't return a call for comment, but a McCain staffer tells us, "We've been getting a lot of calls from people who think [Limbaugh] has stepped over the line

... it was the third time he'd used the term in 13 months. (On Jan. 5, 2007, he said that former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe "will die of anal poisoning because he is so close to drilling Hillary [Clinton]."

A source close to Limbaugh says the right-wing gadfly was merely using a "time-honored" synonym for "brown-nosing." But if you Google the term, the only people who seem to be using it are proprietors of porn sites. -- Daily News

"The Hottie and the Nottie"

4th SW Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 18, 2008

Plot Outline: Nate moves to L.A. to track down Cristabel [Paris Hilton], the woman he's been in love with since childhood, only to discover that his plan to woo her only has one hurdle to overcome: what to do with June, Cristabel's ever-present, not-so-hot best friend? What's even more complicating is Nate's growing feelings for June, whose true beauty starts to emerge.


McCarren Park Pool to Reopen

3rd SE Quadrant\The Approval Matrix: Week of Feb. 18, 2008

[T]he new pool will cover almost 70 percent of the space of the old one--significantly more than had been expected. The pool will be able to handle about 1,500 people. It will wrap around a concrete area that will just into the middle of the space in a U-shape. Architects are calling this area "the beach," as it will have water on three sides. The diving pool, which has been filled in, will be rebuilt. (There is also a long-term plan to rebuild the wading pool.) In the winter, some of the space will be used as an ice skating rink. One of the big existing structures to the right of the entrance will be converted to community space. The building on the left will be turned into a gym. There's also talk of putting a cafe atop the main entrance building. The rebuild means the end of big concerts at the pool, although the space could be used for some performances in the spring and fall when the pool and/or ice rink are closed. Come the end of summer '08, it will be time to kiss concerts at McCarren Pool goodbye. -- Wikipedia

The Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn says work on the pool is going to start by the end of the year and that the new $50 million venue will be open in 2011.