Monday, August 25, 2008

No New Approval Matrix this Week : (

It appears that once again, there is no Approval Matrix in this week's New York Magazine Fall Preview issue; however, it doesn't appear to be a double-issue, so we should be back next Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday, with a new Approval Matrix.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hairspray's Nikki Blonsky vs. ANTM's Bianca Golden

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Hairspray star Nikki Blonsky and her father were arrested on assault charges following a brawl involving the family of America's Next Top Model contestant Bianca Golden in a Caribbean airport, police said Friday.

The 19-year-old actress was released on bail, while her father, Carl Blonsky, remained in jail. Golden was also arrested and released on bail. Golden's mother Elaine was reportedly hospitalized with serious injuries.

"Things got out of hand in an argument over seats in the departure lounge, and several people were involved in an altercation," a police source tells PEOPLE. "There were some injuries involved."

Nikki Blonsky was charged with assault with actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum sentence of two years, and common assault, also known as threat of assault, with a 90-day maximum term.

Her father Carl was charged with grevious bodily harm, meaning the victim was injured so severely they needed immediate medical care. The charge carries a five-year maximum sentence. Carl will remain in jail for nine days until a hearing is set on his bail, police say.

Bianca Golden was charged with assault with actual bodily harm.
-- People

"Swing Vote"

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Synopsis: Kevin Costner stars as Bud Johnson, an apathetic, beer slinging, lovable loser, who is coasting through a life that has passed him by, except for the one bright spot in his mundane existence, his precocious, over achieving twelve-year old daughter, Molly. She takes care of them both, until one mischievous moment on Election Day, when she accidentally sets off a chain of events which culminates in the presidential election coming down to one vote, her dads.

Suddenly, Bud Johnson, the nobody, becomes the voice for everybody when the world realizes that his vote will be the one that elects the next president. Politicians invade the small town of Texico, New Mexico and its unwitting inhabitants, waging war for Bud's vote.

-- NMFilm


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rachael Ray is the World's Top-Earning Chef

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

She began winning audiences with catch phrases like "EVOO" (for extra-virgin olive oil) on her first Food Network show, 30 Minute Meals, in 2001. Today, she has four Food Network programs, including Tasty Travels and $40 a Day. Her nationally syndicated, Oprah-backed talk show, Rachael Ray, is averaging 2.6 million viewers this season, and her Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine has 1.5 million readers. She endorses Dunkin' Donuts too--all to the tune of $18 million a year. -- Forbes

2. Wolfgang Puck - $16 million
3. Gordon Ramsay- $7.5 million
4. Nobuyuki Matsuhisa - $5 million
5. Alain Ducasse - $5 million
6. Paula Deen - $4.5 million
7. Mario Batali - $3 million
8. Tom Colicchio - $2 million
9. Bobby Flay - $1.5 million
10. Anthony Bourdain - $1.5 million

"Disaster Movie" Trailer

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Spanish Basketball Team's "Oriental Expression"

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

In response to media outrage over the Spanish national basketball team making a slit-eyed gesture in a recent newspaper advertisement, the team's point guard, Jose Calderon, who plays for the Toronto Raptors professionally, issued a statement on his personal website.
-- Huffington Post

Friday, August 22, 2008

British Cinemas Banning Popcorn

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

A combination of health-conscious cinemagoers rejecting sugar-coated popcorn and disgust at its distinctive smell is steadily spelling "The End" for the snack in some arthouse cinema chains, the Observer reported.

It quoted Daniel Broch, the owner of the renowned Everyman cinema in London's upmarket Hampstead district, who recently bought 17 more venues.

"I will de-popcorn every new venue I acquire," he said. "It has a disproportionate influence on the space in terms of its overwhelming smell, the cultural idea of it and the operational problems created by the mess it produces.

The Picturehouse Cinema, a chain of 19 cinemas across Britain, will experiment with popcorn-free screenings in September.

But other cinemas which tried to go popcorn-free found customers demanded it.

"Audiences in three venues... began asking for popcorn, so we provided it," said Richard Napper, the marketing director of the Curzon chain. --Yahoo! News

Clue Gets A Makeover

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

The much-beloved murder mystery game Clue is getting a makeover. It's been on the shelves for 60 years, but game maker Hasbro has redesigned the game for a modern audience.

...the new game takes place at a modern mansion — at a party of the rich and famous.

The weapons have changed, the characters have bios and the mansion has new rooms, like a spa, a theater and a guesthouse. And the company added an element of suspense with a second deck of cards.
The new game has nine weapons instead of six. There is no more lead pipe, and the revolver is now a pistol. The company also added a trophy, an ax and a baseball bat.

The characters have changed, too. Miss Scarlet has a first name: Cassandra. Colonel Mustard left the military; he's a former football star. Victor Plum, formerly the professor who was always known as the smartest man in the room, became recast as a self-made video game designer — a dot-com billionaire.
-- NPR

Kenny Shopsin's "Eat Me"

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kenny Shopsin hates publicity the way a magnet must hate metal filings. With a documentary, a New Yorker profile and several New York Times articles clinging to him, this supposedly reluctant restaurateur now adds to his own troubles by releasing a totally hilarious and surprisingly touching treatise on cooking, customer loyalty and family bonds. As his brood grew to include five kids, his Manhattan eatery shrunk in size, yet maintained its idiosyncratic 900-item menu (reproduced here in a 12-page spread). Recipes for more than 100 of the offerings are presented, including Mac n Cheese Pancakes and Blisters on My Sisters (sunny-side-up eggs placed atop tortillas and a rice and bean concoction). But the real treat is Shopsin's salty philosophizing. Sure, pancakes are tasty, but he reminds us that, They are flour and milk drowned in butter and some form of sugar. They're crap. And the customer is always wrong until they show me they are worth cultivating as customers. Two such well-cultivated customers were the writer Calvin Trillin and his wife, Alice. They pop up throughout the book, providing not only happy reminiscences, but a roux of poignancy as both Shopsin and Trillin become widowers, bonded together over the love of a decent meal, quickly rendered.
-- Amazon

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Colbert's American Towns Named "Canton" Bit

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Dealbreaker's Guide to Georgia vs. Russia

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Here's part 1, and 2 of Dealbreaker's Q&A on WTF Is Going on with Russia And Georgia.

Mary Louise Parker in "Hedda Gabler"

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Product Description

"Hedda Gabler" is one of Henrik Ibsen's greatest dramas. It is the story of its title character, Hedda, a self-centered manipulative woman who has grown tired of her marriage. To escape her boredom she begins to meddle in the lives of others with truly tragic results. Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" is a monumental achievement in dramatic tragedy. -- Amazon


In 1890, Henrik Ibsen premiered Hedda Gabler, a play questioning the role of women in Victorian society. Some audiences have viewed Gabler as a woman driven to desperation simply because her world has turned out to be less charmed than she hoped. For others, she is a victim of her times, unwilling to devote herself, as was expected of her, to the duties of home. Jon Robin Baitz has brushed away the cobwebs, and he serves as an ambassador from Ibsen's age to our own, preserving the intensity of the original but translating it into a spare, contemporary idiom. His adaptation provides an opportunity to understand the play through a lens shaped by feminism and a theatrical tradition beginning with Beckett. Trapped by the conventions of her age, Gabler is both a martyr and a female incarnation of Vladimir and Estragon, longing for a salvation that will likely never arrive. -- B&N

...stunning...amazingly contemporary in its considerations of the purpose of life, of the preservation of dignity and integrity...the big issues people don't dare to think about. And here is a staging that does not turn away... -- New York Times

Spiegelworld Returns to South Street Seaport

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Impresario Ross Mollison announced today [July 3, 2008] that Spiegelworld 2008 will return to the South Street Seaport, Pier 17, for its third annual summer carnival, running August 6 to November 2, 2008. Once again, Spiegelworld will deliver a non-stop program of ground-breaking shows, intimate concerts, brazen burlesque, the city's top DJs and superb dining, all at one stunning location.

Mr. Mollison also announced that this year's Spiegelworld New York will present the world premiere of Désir, a daring new theatrical circus experience.

"Never before has such a lavish production been created for a Spiegeltent," Mr. Mollison said. "We have assembled the most beautiful aerial and acrobatic acts from around the world, some of which have never been seen before in such an intimate performance space."

Inspired by the sexual, intellectual and artistic adventurers of early 20th century Paris, Désir will take audiences backstage at the greatest nightclub the world has known.

Absinthe, the number one NYC summer event since 2006, will again take New York by storm with a brand new line up of talent from the seediest and sexiest cabaret dens of the world.

Spiegelworld 2008 will also feature the filthy-rich host of Absinthe, The Gazillionaire, in the premiere of his very own fully-staged variety show of questionable entertainment: The Gazillionaire's Late Nite Lounge, playing six nights a week in The Deluxe, with his band Fish Circus. -- Broadway World

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

China: Humiliation & the Olympics By Orville Schellcan

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

The entire essay, China: Humiliation & the Olympics By Orville Schellcan, can be read here.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Coming to Soho

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

(Photograph of Billy Joel and Mayor Bloomberg by Seth Wenig/AP)

By Billy Parker\Gothamist

Alongside Billy Joel and record exec Clive Davis, Mayor Bloomberg announced today that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will open its first annex in Soho. The 25,000 square-foot annex will open at 76 Mercer Street where for $26, music fans can see Bruce Springsteen's first car and the phone booth from CBGB's. Both were on display as Bloomberg made the announcement today.

he NYC branch will feature an "immersive theater," items from the Cleveland museum, and an exhibit called "New York Rocks" which will map NYC locations with musical significance and offer items like Billy Joel's notebook with lyrics for "The Stranger."

"We Are Together: The Children of Agape Choir" on HBO

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

For Slindile Moya and other children living at the Agape Child Care Center in South Africa, music is a touchstone that brings them comfort and joy in times of happiness and loss. This documentary reveals the poignant story of this 12-year-old girl, her siblings and other residents of an orphanage for children who have lost their parents--mostly to AIDS. Shot over three years, the film focuses on Slindile's family and other residents who are members of the choir as they rehearse for a CD and a possible trip abroad to raise much-needed funds to expand the orphanage. --HBO


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Invisibility Cloak

2nd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley said Monday they were a step closer to developing materials that could render people and objects invisible to the human eye.

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects. Previously, they only have been able to cloak very thin two-dimensional objects.

"We are excited because this is a building block for the future," said researcher Guy Bartal. However, he added that developing an invisibility cloak is "a very big challenge" and "will take a lot of energy and time."

Speaking at a news conference at Etcheverry Hall on campus, Bartal and other researchers said the development of an invisibility cloak, a popular subject in science fiction and Harry Potter novels, is probably still years away.

But the new work moves scientists a step closer to hiding people and objects from visible light, which could have broad applications, including military ones.
-- CBS5

"I'm Being Filmed by a Web Documentarian"

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Random House Pulls Novel About Muhammed's [PBUH] Wife [AS]

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Edith Honan\Reuters

Publisher Random House has pulled a novel about the Prophet Mohammed's [PBUH] child bride [AS], fearing it could "incite acts of violence."

"The Jewel of Medina," a debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones, 46, was due to be published on August 12 by Random House, a unit of Bertelsmann AG, and an eight-city publicity tour had been scheduled, Jones told Reuters on Thursday.

The novel traces the life of A'isha [AS] from her engagement to Mohammed [PBUH], when she was six, until the prophet's death. Jones said that she was shocked to learn in May, that publication would be postponed indefinitely.

Random House deputy publisher Thomas Perry said in a statement the company received "cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

Monday, August 18, 2008

7-Year-Old Fired for Being Ugly

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

(GETTY/AFP composite image, with still grab from Chinese TV / August 12, 2008)

One little girl had the looks. The other had the voice.

So in a last-minute move demanded by one of China's highest officials, the two were put together for the Olympic Opening Ceremony, with one lip-synching "Ode to the Motherland" over the other's singing.

The real singer, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, with her chubby face and crooked baby teeth, wasn't good looking enough for the ceremony, its chief music director told state-owned Beijing Radio.

So the pigtailed Lin Miaoke, a veteran of television ads, mouthed the words with a pixie smile for a stadium of 91,000 and a worldwide TV audience. "I felt so beautiful in my red dress," the tiny 9-year-old told the China Daily newspaper.

Peiyi later told China Central Television that just having her voice used was an honor.

Paul McCarthy's Dog Crap Sculpture Blows Away

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Richard Chang\OC Register

A giant, inflatable dog poop created by Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy got carried away in the wind, brought down a power line and smashed a window of a children’s home in Berne, Switzerland.

The dog turd was part of an exhibition titled “East of Eden: A Garden Show” at the Paul Klee Centre (also known as the Zentrum Paul Klee). McCarthy’s piece was called “Complex Sh*t,” and is the size of a house. It reportedly had a safety system that was supposed to deflate the turd in bad weather, but the system didn’t work when a sudden gust carred it from its moorings and deposited it, after it wreaked some serious havoc, 200 meters away on the grounds of the children’s home.

McCarthy is a well-known performance and conceptual artist. He has taught art at UCLA since 1982. He’s known for debunking the myth of the heroic artist and for conducting some weird performance pieces with ketchup, blood and feces.

Michel Houellebecq's "The Possibility of an Island" Adaptation

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Gwladys Fouché\The Guardian

It was the hottest question in French cinema: how would the enfant terrible of Gallic letters fare at adapting his own novel for the big screen? The answer: not at all well.

Michel Houellebecq was determined to film his novel The Possibility of an Island [La Possibilité d’une île ], the parallel story of a stand-up comedian joining a cult and his clone several generations in the future.

He is said to have switched publishers because the move would offer better guarantees he could direct the adaptation himself.

The Possibility of an Island was slaughtered when it premiered at the Locarno film festival in Switzerland at the weekend, with the author apparently playing hide-and-seek with reporters to avoid further embarrassment.

The premiere "turned into a farce," chuckled French daily Le Figaro, describing how critics sneered and laughed before voting with their feet and leaving the cinema. Outside, they hailed the movie "catastrophic", "ridiculous", and damned it as indulging into "bargain-bin philosophising"

Swiss newspaper Le Temps retitled the movie The Possibility of a Shipwreck. Early previews held in Paris were similarly harsh, spreading the word that The Possibility of an Island was the "dud of the season".

The Approval Matrix: Week of August 25, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Charlie Sheen Paid $825,000 Per Episode

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Charlie Sheen, who plays a wealthy, womanizing bachelor on the top-rated sitcom "Two and a Half Men," made more than any other TV actor this year with earnings of $825,000 per episode, including money from his ownership rights in the show.

At the rate of 23 episodes per year, the typical number of shows broadcast each season for a comedy like "Two and a Half Men," Sheen would be pocketing just under $20 million a year for a role that also earned him three Emmy nominations.

Trailing Sheen in the No. 2 spot on TV Guide's list is fellow CBS star William Petersen, who takes home $600,000 an episode for portraying investigator Gil Grissom on the hit police drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." -- Reuters

Christopher Hitchens and Coney Island Waterboarding Stunts

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Persecution of Mary-Kate

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Rick Reilly's Yankee Stadium Barbara Walters' Joke

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Rick Reilly\ESPN

Yankee Stadium is our Roman Coliseum, our sports Louvre, our Delphi. So why are people planning to steal from it?

Because they should. They must! The cathedral of baseball has a date with bulldozers at the end of this season before the new Yankee Stadium (ugh) opens in 2009.

That means next week's All-Star game sets up as a kind of Final Viewing, and, like any good funeral, grievers will be trying to slide a wristwatch or a set of cufflinks off the corpse on the way by. This might turn into a pickpocket convention: armrests, pieces of façade, maybe even turnstiles will go missing. Even normally upright citizen Derek Jeter says he's going to steal something before this season ends. "When it's gone," Jeter says, "they're going to come after me."

So here's the question: What will it be?

Where do you start in a place that has more history than Barbara Walters' closet? This is the joint that saw three popes serve Mass, heard the "Win one for the Gipper!" speech, watched the first sudden death NFL game ever played.

The entire article can be read here.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Cancelled

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

In June 2008, Public Broadcasting Service announced that it intends to soon change the way Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the beloved children’s television program, is distributed to member stations.

PBS will cease transmitting the program as part of their daily syndicated lineup beginning in September. Instead, PBS will provide member stations with a single Neighborhood episode on weekends. This unfortunate decision essentially silences the special nurturing voice of Mister Rogers in the daily lives of today’s children.

Local public television stations, who make the final decisions about which programs to offer and when to air them, can still opt to broadcast Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood each weekday, but they are less likely to do so without the program being included in PBS’s syndicated feed.
-- Save Mister Rogers

Friday, August 15, 2008

Craig Robinson in "Pineapple Express"

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Kristopher Tapley\Incontention

One of our readers reminded me in the comments section of yesterday’s review of “Pineapple Express” that I failed to spotlight one of my favorite performances in the entire film, and a character actor who has quickly become one of the best go-to guys for comedic value.

Craig Robinson is probably most often associated with his Darryl Philbin stockroom character in television’s “The Office.”

Well in “Pineapple Express,” Robinson hits consistent high marks as Matheson, one of Gary Cole’s two henchman hunting down Seth Rogen and James Franco’s bumbling stoners. As usual, he holds court on the screen with specific and hilarious line readings. His exit from the film is one of the funniest scenes of the piece and he plays it up for all it’s worth.

Plot Summary for "Pineapple Express": A stoner and his dealer are forced to go on the run from the police after the pothead witnesses a cop commit a murder.

Hair's Jonathan Groff and Will Swenson

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Hair, The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, performs Tuesday through Sunday at 8 PM, July 22 - September 7.

Tickets are free and are available on the day of the performance (two per person) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park beginning at 1 PM, or by entering the Public's online ticketing lottery at

Beginning Sunday, August 17, Christopher J. Hanke joins the cast as Claude, replacing Jonathan Groff. -- Public Theater

Vickings' Chris Kluwe is a Guiter Hero Champion

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Hell Ride" Poster

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Plot Summary: Larry Bishop stars as bad-ass biker Pistolero, (named after the original title for Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado) who along with The Gent (Michael Madsen) and Comanche (Eric Balfour), hit the road to avenge the death of Pistolero’s old lady Cherokee Kisum (Julia Jones), by the 666ers, a rival motorcycle gang. Vinnie Jones and the ultimate bike riding legend Dennis Hopper to star as members of the satanic biker gang the 666ers.

Hell Ride (2008) is released under the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" banner. The film promises to be a blood and sex-soaked tale of motorcycle revenge and retribution. Bishop took extra duties on this film by not only starring in it, but wrote, directed and co-produced with Michael Steinberg and Shana Stein producing and Quentin Tarantino taking on the job of Executive Producer. -- Wikipedia

I couldn't find a G-Rated trailer. It appears that only NSFW R-Rated trailers have been released for the movie.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1918 — 2008

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose stubborn, lonely and combative literary struggles...revealed the heavy afflictions of Soviet Communism in some of the most powerful works of the 20th century, died late on Sunday at the age of 89 in Moscow.

Mr. Solzhenitsyn outlived by nearly 17 years the Soviet state and system he had battled through years of imprisonment, ostracism and exile.

Mr. Solzhenitsyn had been an obscure, middle-aged, unpublished high school science teacher in a provincial Russian town when he burst onto the literary stage in 1962 with “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” The book, a mold-breaking novel about a prison camp inmate, was a sensation. Suddenly he was being compared to giants of Russian literature like Tolstoy, Dostoyevski and Chekhov.

Over the next five decades, Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s fame spread throughout the world as he drew upon his experiences of totalitarian duress to write evocative novels like “The First Circle” and “The Cancer Ward” and historical works like “The Gulag Archipelago.”

“Gulag” was a monumental account of the Soviet labor camp system, a chain of prisons that by Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s calculation some 60 million people had entered during the 20th century. The book led to his expulsion from his native land.

George Pelecanos' "The Turnaround"

2nd\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

From Publishers Weekly Starred Review

In yet another gem of urban noir, bestseller Pelecanos (The Night Gardener) explores the possibility of making the turnaround, of starting over and building a new life, regardless of the past. One summer day in 1972, three teenage white boys—Alex Pappas and his friends Billy Cachoris and Pete Whitten—drive into a poor Washington, D.C., neighborhood, high on booze and weed, looking for trouble. They confront three young black men, Billy winds up dead and Alex badly beaten. In 2007, Alex runs the family coffee shop, as did his father, and grieves for his son, recently killed in Iraq. Then, one of the black survivors of the incident contacts Alex, opening a door that may finally put the trauma of the past to rest. At the same time, another survivor, the man who beat Alex, has gotten out of prison and has extortion on his mind. The result is a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel of crime, friendship, aging and redemption.


"Pelecanos does what few, if any, American writers do: He tells the truth. Twain told the truth; Faulkner toyed with the truth; Hemingway told his version of the truth and Chandler certainly told a cold, cynical truth. Pelecanos' truth is from deep in the heart, from places where red blood cells know more than all the sweet, heady words truth usually hides behind." (Chicago Sun-Times Randy Michael Signor )

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Author Tao Lin Sells Shares in Next Novel

1st\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Matthew Moore\Telegraph

Investors can pay $2,000 (£1,000) in return for a 10 per cent share of the royalties of Tao Lin’s as-yet-unfinished second novel.

Tao posted details of his “initial public offering” on his popular literary blog last week and claims to have already lined up buyers for five of the six shares.

He predicts, with little supporting evidence, that the novel will sell at least 13,000 copies in the US within two years, and that investors should be able to turn a profit within 40 months.

With potential film and reprint rights included, investors would then continue to reap dividends “every 6 months for the rest of their lives without having to do anything," Tao predicts.

Tao admits that he hopes publicity generated by his innovative money-raising strategy will itself boost sales of the book, but he also says that being publicly owned – at least in a professional sense - would boost his motivation.

"Man on Wire"

Plot: A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."


Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side"

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

From Publishers Weekly

This hard-hitting expose examines both the controversial excesses of the war on terror and the home-front struggle to circumvent legal obstacles to its prosecution. New Yorker correspondent Mayer (Strange Justice) details the battle within the Bush Administration over a new anti-terrorism policy of harsh interrogations, indefinite detentions without due process, extraordinary renditions, secret CIA prisons and warrantless wiretappings.

Fighting with memos and legal briefs, Mayer reports, hard-liners led by Dick Cheney, his aide David Addingtion and then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected any constraints on the treatment of prisoners or limitations on presidential power in fighting terrorism, while less militant administration lawyers invoked the Constitution and international law to oppose their initiatives.

As a counterpoint to the wrangling over the definition of torture and the Geneva Conventions, the author looks at the use of techniques like waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation against prisoners by the American military and CIA; her chilling account compellingly argues that this "enhanced interrogation" regimen constitutes torture. The result is a must-read: a meticulous behind-the-scenes reconstruction of policymaking that demonstrates how legal abstractions became an ugly reality.


“A powerful, brilliantly researched and deeply unsettling book….extraordinary and invaluable” —Alan Brinkley, New York Times Book Review

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Plot: Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

British Chef Prints Salad Recipe with Toxi Weed

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

A British celebrity chef says he's sorry for mistakenly recommending a deadly plant as a tasty salad ingredient.

Anthony Worrall Thompson says he meant to suggest using the weed fat hen, a member of the spinach family whose leaves are edible. He instead told Healthy and Organic Living magazine for its July edition that henbane could be used in salads.

Henbane, whose name means "killer of hens," is a toxic plant that can cause hallucinations, drowsiness and disorientation if ingested. Large doses can kill.

The magazine issued a correction Monday on its Web site. Worrall Thompson told reporters he's sorry for the mix-up, which he called "a bit embarrassing."-- Chron

Menu Calorie Count Inaccurate

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By John Del Signore\Gothamist

...the Health Department does not conduct systematic testing to ensure that restaurants are not miscalculating – or misrepresenting – their data.

Chipotle’s calorie info was previously disputed, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that Olive Garden’s cappellini pomodoro, posted as under 640 calories, actually had 990 calories. ABC News has also tested chains like Taco Bell and found big calorie discrepancies, and let’s not forget that priceless Dunkin' Donuts snafu where two locations in Penn Station displayed the same donut with wildly different calorie totals.

Monday, August 11, 2008

DOT's Anti-Air-Traffic Solution

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix
By Dan Caterinicchia\USA Today

Slot auctions designed to reduce delays and increase competition are coming to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, the government said Friday.

The Transportation Department also said the government and industry must improve procedures for complying with maintenance and safety rules to avoid massive flight cancellations, like those that left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded last month when American Airlines and other carriers had to ground MD-80 jetliners to inspect or redo wiring. Those inspections were supposed to have been completed by March 5.

Under one option at JFK, 10% of the airline's slots above the base amount would be made available via an auction and the proceeds would be invested in congestion and capacity improvements in the region. Or the airlines would auction 20% of slots above the baseline and keep all of the proceeds.

Depending on the option, up to 179 slots of the airport's 1,245 could be affected, Peters said.

The plan also calls for auctioning 10% of slots at Newark above the baseline annually for the first five years of the rule, making 96 slots out of 1,219 at the airport auctioned over the 10-year span.

The Air Transport Association, which represents the nation's largest airlines, said the government lacks the legal authority to impose the auctions. The group also doesn't think the plans will alleviate delays.

The White House Asked CIA to Forge Document?

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Mike Allen\Politico

A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war. The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.”

The letter’s existence has been reported before, and it had been written about as if it were genuine. It was passed in Baghdad to a reporter for The (London) Sunday Telegraph who wrote about it on the front page of Dec. 14, 2003, under the headline, “Terrorist behind September 11 strike ‘was trained by Saddam.’”

The Telegraph story by Con Coughlin (which, coincidentally, ran the day Hussein was captured in his “spider hole”) was touted in the U.S. media by supporters of the war...

The author claims that such an operation, part of “false pretenses” for war, would apparently constitute illegal White House use of the CIA to influence a domestic audience, an arguably impeachable offense.

The Approval Matrix: Week of August 18, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

STFree Service

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

STFree Certifications is a private new age, innovative company that has been fighting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS for the last 2 years in some of the highest infected neighborhoods in the country. STFree’s preventative methods used is what makes the company truly unique.

STFree acts as a 3rd party entity by verifying and storing individuals STD testing information with their consent. We then provide all of our members with an ID we call the Safe Sex License (SSL). The Safe Sex License is a confidential identification card that is issued by STFree. It gives its users access to their important STD testing information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As well as, giving potential sexual partners, with the member's permission, access to this information.
-- STFree

Ryan Seacrest Bitten by Shark

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

The "American Idol" host was swimming in the Pacific Ocean in front of LG Villa Cabo in

Mexico on Sunday [July 24, 2008] when a sand shark swam by and chomped his toe.

"He didn't know what it was for a minute - he thought it was a stick," said one spy.

"He had no time to be scared. He saw it swim away, he got out, took aspirin and called it a day."
-- NY Post

"I was bitten by a shark," recalls Ryan. "It swam up to me, and it took a bite, and then he left."

According to Ryan, the predator was the size of a cat and the incident took place offshore in water about 4 feet deep--with the shark leaving behind "three holes" in his toe.
-- E! News

Critical Mass Bicyclist Assaulted by NYPD

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Wildly Cherry M&M's

4th\SW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Sera\Candy Addict

The Wildly Cherry M&Ms are really pretty to look at with an attractive crimson red package, showing a Red M&M hanging from a ripe bunch of cherries. Opening the package and letting all the candies spill out, the pieces are just as attractive, if not more so, than the packaging. The M&Ms come in two colors: a nice crimson (which isn’t a bright as the normal red color) and a maroon. Like the Razzberry M&Ms that were released last summer, these are a little larger than normal M&Ms and the sizing amongst them isn’t uniform.

How’s the flavor? I really, really, really like these. I can tell you exactly what they taste like: cherry cordials, on the nose. It’s not a cough syrup fake cherry flavor at all, but a sweet maraschino cherry instead. I think this was a good call on Mars’ behalf, since maraschino cherries aren’t exactly naturally flavored to begin with so it’s a much better flavor to mimic and pair as a chocolate flavor addition. The two colors, from what I can tell, taste the same. I kept alternating tasting the two and at some points I thought maybe the maroon was sweeter, but no, I think it’s all in my head.

So if you love M&Ms, even if you weren’t a Razzberry M&M lover like me, give these a shot.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Will Ferrell's "Con Te Partiro" in "Step Brothers"

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

Forty-Four (44) Pound Cat Found in New Jersey

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

A 44-pound feline was found waddling around Saturday without a collar in Voorhees, and officials at the Camden County Animal Shelter hope she gets a nice — hopefully, diet-friendly — home.

"She's built like a quarterback," said Deborah Wright, a shelter volunteer and current foster owner of the kitty. "I mean, how do you lose a 44-pound cat?!" Shelter officials are calling the porky cutie "Princess Chunk."

The largest tabby on record weighed 46 pounds, 15 ounces. That cat, who lived in Australia, died in the 1980s. The Guinness World Records has since dropped the category, fearing cat owners might harm their animals in an attempt to break the record.
-- Rocky Mountain News

Nas Protests Outside Fox News

3rd\SE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Laura Leebove and Evan Lucy, Billboard

On the day Nas' untitled Def Jam album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the rapper joined political groups Color of Change and Move On, along with fans and protesters, outside of the Fox News building in New York to protest the network's portrayal of blacks.

Nas briefly spoke to the crowd of nearly 100 people and urged them to "stop the racist smears on the Obamas and black Americans." In his speech, he cited examples of remarks made by Fox reporters that he and supporters found to be racist, including a reference to Michelle Obama as Barack Obama's "baby mama," and a fist bump between the couple as a "terrorist fist jab."

Even though Nas said he supports Obama and his vision, he hasn't officially endorsed the candidate and claims no political party has approached him for further support.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bert and Ernie "Ante Up" Gansta Rap Video

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

"Get Your War On" Comic Strip by David Rees

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

You've read the "Get Your War On" comic strip by David Rees. They've probably caused you to puke on yourself due to involuntary laughter. Now "Get Your War On" is an animated video, and 23/6 has it exclusively. Check out this promo, and look for new GYWO videos on here every week.

David Thomas Rees (born June 22, 1972) is a cartoonist whose best-known work combines bland clip art with outrageous "trash talk" to incongruous effect. The comic strips, often overtly political, have achieved wide popularity, while baffling or disgusting some readers. Of Rees'comic series, the best known and most controversial is "Get Your War On".Since May 2005 he has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.
-- Wikipedia

Kay Ryan Begins Reign as Poet Laureat

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix


When Kay Ryan was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, the poetry club rejected her application; she was perhaps too much of a loner, she recalls. Now Ms. Ryan is being inducted into one of the most elite poetry clubs around. She is to be named the country’s poet laureate on Thursday.

Known for her sly, compact poems that revel in wordplay and internal rhymes, Ms. Ryan has won a carriage full of poetry prizes for her funny and philosophical work, including awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2004, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth $100,000.

Poets, editors, critics and academics around the country offered advice to James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, about whom to choose to succeed Charles Simic as the nation’s 16th poet laureate, who was appointed 2007. Ms. Ryan’s work has “this quality of simplicity; it’s highly accessible poetry,” Dr. Billington said. “She takes you through little images to see a very ordinary thing or ordinary sentiment in a more subtle and deeper way.”

Ms. Ryan likes to take familiar images and clichés and reincarnate them in a wholly original form. “The Other Shoe” reads:

Oh if it were
only the other
shoe hanging
in space before
joining its mate.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Astor Place Redesign

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

A conceptual draft of “Village Plaza,” a new pedestrian public space that would replace a confusing and dangerous merging zone between E. Fourth and E. Sixth Sts.

By Gabriel Zucker\The Villager

A traffic redesign of Astor Place and Cooper Square in the works for decades seems finally ready to start moving fairly soon, with construction expected to begin as early as this winter. The city’s Art Commission is scheduled to consider a conceptual design for the project next month.

The latest version of the plan, which largely dates back to 2005, involves reclaiming large amounts of street space for pedestrian use. The renovation includes a realignment of Cooper Square from Sixth St. to Astor Place, with the street being thinned and made one-way northbound. The thinner avenue will provide new space alongside Peter Cooper Park, and will create a two-block-long plaza space almost the same size alongside the Bowery, extending down to E. Fourth St.

In addition, Astor Place will be closed to cars between Fourth Ave. and Lafayette St. where it passes “The Alamo” cube sculpture. On the opposite side of Fourth Ave., Astor Place will also be realigned with Eighth St., creating even more pedestrian space. The traffic island for the northbound No. 6 train will be doubled in size.

As part of the capital project, the city Department of Transportation will also be installing medians along Third Ave. to facilitate pedestrian crossings on the blocks between Fourth and Ninth Sts.

According to a D.O.T. document on the plan, “the proposed design will improve outdoor public spaces, expand green spaces, reduce conflicts between pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and add a traffic median along Third Ave.”

Iraq to Compete in Olympics

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Gina Chon\The Wall Street Journal

On Tuesday [July 29, 2008], the International Olympic Committee said it will let Iraq participate in the games in Beijing after Iraqi government officials vowed that its Olympics committee would be independent and free from political influence.

The lifting of the ban on Iraq’s participation in the Olympics came with just enough time to let Iraq meet today’s [July 30, 2008] deadline to submit the names of athletes competing in the track and field events. That means Iraq will be sending two competitors to Beijing. Other potential participants in the fields of judo, rowing, weightlifting and archery will have to sit this one out, because the deadline for name submissions for those events passed last week.

The IOC banned Iraq from the games after the Iraqi government dissolved the country’s national Olympic committee in May. The government said the committee hadn’t had a quorum for several years, ever since several members of the group were kidnapped, and alleged that the committee was mired in corruption.

Viagra Helps Women Reach Orgasim

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Chatter Shmatter

Women who are taking anti-depressants may benefit from the use of viagra, as in a small study it has been proven to increase their likelyhood of reaching orgasm during sex.

The study featured just under 100 premenopausal women and also found that women although enjoyed a heightened orgasm opportunity, did not have an increase in sexual desire or other sexual feelings.

The women were divided into groups with some receiving viagra and some receiving a dummy pill. Up to 72% of women taking viagra reported an increase in their sex drive, with 27% of the placebo group reporting an improvement.

Many women and men for that matter taking anti-depressants have a hard time enjoying sex, and researchers have been trying to figure out what can be done to reverse this fact. The drugs work by increasing the production of the chemical Serotonin in the brain, thus diminishing sex drive.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"The Nation" Launches Sex Column

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

HBO Cancels "Tell Me You Love Me"

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Nellie Andreeva\Huffington Post

HBO has opted not to renew racy drama "Tell Me You Love Me" for a second season.

The decision was made almost a year after the sexually explicit series premiered on the pay cable channel.

"Given the considerable amount of time that has passed and despite the best efforts of everyone involved, we were unable to find the direction of the show for the second season," "Tell Me You Love Me" creator/executive producer Cynthia Mort said in a statement.

"Tell Me You Love Me," a look at marriage through the stories of couples in therapy, drew a lot of attention with its sexually graphic content.

Hasbro Shuts Down Scrabulous

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By Eric Auchard\Reuters UK

Word-wise game players lost a popular online diversion on Tuesday [July 29, 2008] as the creators of a knock-off of the game Scrabble cut off service in North America in the face of a lawsuit by game maker Hasbro.

Scrabulous, an online version of the classic board game created by two brothers in India, cut off the service for U.S. and Canadian Internet users on Tuesday after Hasbro filed suit in a New York federal court last Thursday.

Scrabulous, introduced on Facebook a year ago, has become a phenomenon, sucking productivity in offices and schools around the globe. The game has become one of Facebook's dozen most actively used programs, attracting 500,000 daily players. It pits online opponents who compete to come up with clever words using the most exotic letters to score points.

Hasbro owns the rights to Scrabble in North America, while rival Mattel owns the rights to the popular board game in the rest of the world. Mattel filed a suit against Scrabulous several months ago and is awaiting a decision on its complaint by an Indian court.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gov. Paterson Suggests Selling Bridges and Tunnels

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix


Warning of an approaching economic calamity, Gov. Paterson yesterday called an emergency session of the state Legislature - and raised the specter that New York may have to sell off roads, bridges and tunnels to close a massive budget deficit.

In a rare televised address, the Democratic governor cited "private-public partnerships" involving the sale of state assets - widely condemned by critics as fiscal gimmickry - as one way to stem a tide of red ink brought on by the sagging economy and woes on Wall Street.

China to Censor Websites During Olympic Games

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

(Gero Breloer / EPA)

By Nick Mulvenney\Yahoo! News

Some International Olympic Committee officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites despite promises of unrestricted access, a senior IOC official admitted on Wednesday.

China had committed to providing media with the same freedom to report on the Games as they enjoyed at previous Olympics, but journalists have this week complained of finding access to sites deemed sensitive to its communist leadership blocked.

Attempts at the main press centre to access the website of Amnesty International, which released a report on Monday slamming China for failing to honor its Olympic human rights pledges, continued to prove fruitless by mid-week.

Other websites, including those relating to the banned spiritual group Falun Gong, are also inaccessible.

Beijing organizers said censorship would not stop journalists doing their jobs in reporting the Games.

"We are going to do our best to facilitate the foreign media to do their reporting work through the Internet," BOCOG spokesman Sun Weide told a news conference.

Visitor at London Exhibit Smashes $12,000 Sculpture

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

A 9-foot-tall sculpture by Costa Rican artist Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez was destroyed when a visitor fell into it at a London exhibit.

The BBC said the totem titled "Christina" was broken into hundreds of pieces when a visitor fell into the cordoned-off piece, causing it to crash to the floor at the Royal Academy.

The sculpture, estimated to have been worth about $12,000, was one of five totems by the contemporary artist on display. The gallery closed after the weekend incident, but later reopened, the BBC said Tuesday.
-- UPI

One witness, Clare San Martin, did not see the accident but heard it. "It was an enormous crash," she said. "Like pottery smashing. Everyone was standing around, and one woman, who I assumed had knocked it over, was standing with her hand on her head.

"After a while a person ran off to get help and someone came in with a dustpan to clean it up. Before that people were still coming in to the room and thought it was part of the exhibition. They were taking pictures. I think they thought it was meant to be like that.
-- The Guardian

The Approval Matrix: Week of August 11, 2008