LA Times has a lengthy piece on black-on-black homicide, which I guess will be a Pulitzer contender.
I guess we should mention Lost in La Mancha, this new documentary about Terry Gilliam's failed attempt at re-interpreting Don Quixote on film. It's a movie about making a movie, except the movie was never made.
NYT has an article on the future of NYC's subway system. The gist: fewer humans, more computer brains.
Looks like there were some decent poets at a big-timey poetry jam for teenagers at HBO's studios in NYC.
It's everywhere by now, but:
It's becoming increasingly obvious that in this connected age, covering your tracks is not feasible and the new old adage that says "Don't do anything you wouldn't want your mother to see" holds true. I guess this all started with the fiasco involving Joe Millionaire's TV grandfather, "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire", during which it was revealed that (a) the millionaire wasn't really a millionaire, at least not in the traditional, polo-playing, life-of-leisure, East Egg kind-of-way and (b) he had a restraining order against him for threatening his ex-girlfriend.
Maybe the only real difference between "WWTMAM" and its spawn, "Joe Millionaire", is that in the earlier case, the Original Bride participated in soft porn after the show, whereas in the newer version, the contestant seems to have assembled her oeuvre beforehand.
Is there a lesson to be learned here, people? Yes. Crave anonymity. Like us.
Or, you could choose to ignore all that and just order one of her movies. (I don't feel comfortable linking directly to them, but if you search Google for certain words, you can find it pretty easily. Not exactly safe for work.)
I think we mentioned the plans here before, but here's the mayor's official press release about the deal with Christo to create the "Gates" project in Central Park. It'll be February 2005. The press release contains some details that weren't available earlier.
For the first time since Rudy outlawed them in 1997, there will be fireworks in NYC for Chinese New Year (which is this weekend). [nyt]
Neal Pollack & Co. also weigh in on the State of the Union speech, via erotic poetry inspired by the address.
Did you know George Clooney is dating Renee Zellweger (again)? Yeah, well, he is. He even gave her a $30,000 bracelet, so he must love her. Or at least want to sleep with her again. Remember, she was dating Jim Carrey -- what, you forgot Me, Myself, and Irene already? -- then they broke up right before the wedding.
Funny State of the Union photo from SF.
Here's a decent enough thing about the State of the Union speech: Christopher Buckley weighs in, along with some other guys. He proposes a lefty version of Fox News -- "The Red Channel".
A surgeon wrote his medical school's initials on a woman's uterus with a branding iron during a hysterectomy, and claims it was a valid part of a medical procedure. Would he have done the same to a man's testicles during a vasectomy?
Chris Nolan, who did Memento, has signed with Warner Bros. to make a new Batman. Hmmm. Where does this leave Darren Aronofsky, who did Pi, and was supposed to do the new Batman? I guess his Batman: Year One project is still on track. Lots of other DC Comics movie news is included in the article.
This is a good one: some idiot kids from Long Island stole bodies and remains from some cemeteries, dressed them up, and took them to a party. Heh. The bodies were all buried between 1896 and 1935. According to the NY Post, "The kids at the party are known as 'Goths' - they dress in black, and some have body piercings and tattoos." You know who busted them? Teachers. Typical.
If you're thinking of being part of the live studio audience at "Jimmy Kimmel Live", please be advised that they are no longer serving unlimited free drinks, and George Clooney will not pour vodka down your throat.
Update on the previous post about Billy Joel's car wreck and Christie's subsequent photo-taking: turns out she's trying to document something about Billy's reckless ways, apparently so she can issue stern rebukes to Billy about endangering their daughter.
Clone of the Attacks. This came from Mad magazine, apparently, and Babak.
Boston Globe has a piece on Amy's Robot's favorite actor (I think): Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I mean, let's face it...who else can you really get excited about. Besides him and Vincent D'Onofrio, I mean.
The richest almost-hot 18 year-old girl in the world is Athina (Onassis) Roussel. She also loves ponies.
As previously mentioned here, Robert Young Pelton, author of the World's Most Dangerous Places, was kidnapped two weeks ago and released 10 days later. National Geographic (for whom he was working) has an interview with him about the experience. Turns out the two people he was kidnapped with were just 22-year-old American kids, not journalists. At least the kidnappers fed him 5 times a day. [via medianews]
Already all over the news, but still: Kazaa is counter-suing the entire entertainment industry, claiming it does not understanding the possibilities of digital technology, an impressive rationalization.
You've heard about that internet worm that slowed traffic over the weekend? You may know that it was made possible by a well-publicized (and old) hole in Microsoft's SQL Server software. You may also have heard of Microsoft's year-old "trustworthy computing" initiative. Well, it turns out that Microsoft's OWN COMPUTERS were hit by the worm over the weekend because THEY FAILED TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN ADVICE and install security patches for their own products. [nyt]
Dominick Dunne, who I believe to be a national treasure, is caught up in a slander suit filed by...Gary Condit. Dunne repeated a rumor he heard that Condit was a patron of a Middle-Eastern-funded brothel and complained to the brothel-owners about a clingy Chandra Levy. Shortly thereafter, Chandra disappeared. The source of this rumor? None other than the guy who that book The Horse Whisperer is based on. Small world. [nyt]
Billy Joel was in a bad car accident Saturday night in Long Island. Don't worry, though: he's okay. What's weird: Christie Brinkley -- his ex-wife -- was down at the firehouse taking pictures of his wrecked car the next day. Hmmm.
Hey, guess what? Beer companies use women with big tits to sell their products. Except this year's campaigns have reached new levels of absurdity and offensiveness, bringing us closer and closer to the advertising nadir that Bill Hicks predicted (mentioned at the beginning of the article.) [via Whiskas]
Well, it's official: The New York Times has appointed a 27-year-old woman to be the editor of its Arts & Leisure section. She was editing Slate, then this came along. I've never felt older.
Are there more curse words on network TV than there used to be? Apparently. Do many people care? Apparently not. [NYT]
I am sorry to report that I am dead. I am dead because I looked at that picture of Salma Hayek on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Hey, look! I'm alive again! I'm alive because I looked at that picture of Salma Hayek on the cover of Vanity Fair.
According to the LA Times, movie studios are starting to believe that if a movie does well at Sundance, it will do poorly at the box office. Examples: Tadpole, Slam, and Happy, Texas, as well as Girlfight, which I thought did ok, but apparently not. "The biggest mistake you can make up here," says Tom Ortenberg of Lions Gate Films, "is to fall in love with a movie because the audience does." Counter-example that somehow proves the point: The initial Sundance screening of 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" was equally lackluster. "A lot of people came out of the screening shaking their heads, saying, 'What the hell was that?' " says Artisan's Malin. "We were basically the only bidders on the film." "Blair Witch" went on to gross $142 million.
The much-hyped overpriced and unnecessary cool toy, the Segway Human Transporter Electric Scooter, has finally arrived in New York. [via Rachel]
Robert Young Pelton, author of the seminal World's Most Dangerous Places was kidnapped in Panama by Colombian rebels the other day. He has since been returned safely. It happened a few days ago, but I didn't realize 'til I read it in this article about some other kidnapped journalists in Colombia. His website about surviving kidnappings, etc., is temporarily off-line. But, thanks to the miracle of the Google cache, you may be able to see what the site looked like before they pulled it.
Look! Disgraced former New Yorker editor Tina Brown, fresh from riding Talk -- remember Talk? -- through it's much-hyped rise and more-hyped fall, has penned a column for another gasping (but still good) mag, Salon. The column funnily/ironically is about disgraced former media execs...OF WHICH TINA HERSELF IS ONE.
Also funnily/ironically, the bottom of the page details Salon's new Premium and Not-So-Premium services, which include paying $18 and still seeing a lot ads. So, as predicted by me earlier this week, and by "me" I mean the stuff I read, it looks like that's about it for Salon.
I guess it's Political Day here on Amy's Robot today: Here's Clinton weighing in on Bush, which I don't think he's really supposed to be doing. Anyway, his phrasing here is funny/ironic:
"It's bad ethics and terrible economics," he told an enthusiastic audience at the Families USA health advocacy conference. "Take my money and make America well."
So, will he be approved or not?
Oh, it's a trick question. Commission members are not subject to any nomination/approval process. Update: Well, great. It looks like he's bowed out under pressure. Maybe the world won't end this week.
The best thing I've read so far about The Hours is Michael Cunningham's article about watching his book being transformed into the film, what is lost in the translation, and what is gained through illuminating performances. He also gets at what is so wonderful about Virginia Woolf, which also explains why The Hours is my favorite movie of last year.
Super-stores like Wal-Mart are downsizing into smaller versions for those customers who think their stores are just too big. The states where these new mini-superstores, or Small-Marts, are opening, (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee; and a handful opened in Florida, Alabama and Utah in the last week) suggests to me that the customers might be the ones who are too big and fat to handle walking around a store.
Just because you're not a sailor doesn't mean you can't get scurvy. Like that kid I knew in college who only consumed Ramen (tm) noodles and vodka over winter break, and his gums started bleeding. Drink your orange juice, people.
For those of you club kids who have been getting your the "Harry Potter" brand of Ecstasy (complete with an image of the juvenile wizard), it looks like you'll have to find a new supplier. My favorite branding campaign in drug history: "You'll Be Back" brand heroin.
Theater can still be revolutionary: the first Shakespeare production in Iran in 25 years (featuring bare male legs) incites vigilante attacks.
This has probably been up a while, but I just came across it. Which is supposed to be what blogs are all about. So: A Postmodern Analysis of Beastie Boys' "Shadrach".
ps: Need I remind you that I happen to know a little something about Postmodernism?
ps2: by coincidence, it was one of that guy's books that helped me do this. (search for me)
well i'm sure we've had it up to our necks with all the hype. isn't it amazing how something very simple, pure, sweet, and innocent can be blown so far out of proportion? who really gives a shit that i wanna be with britney spears? it seems as if everyone does. the only person that should give a shit is britney. i never meant to be in this situation. shit happens. whats the big deal? yeah she is a big POP star and her last relationship with another big POP star was a big deal, but damn y'all need to chill. do you think i should not like someone because you don't want me too? fuck that!! ... all the media is doing is trying to create a lot of controversy. to them its just more interesting to make up lies and crazy dramatic shit. i've heard and seen some unbelievable things since i've been liking her. now all the media has done is twisted the whole thing around and made other people come back running. and i assure you that anything besides that fact that i definately have feelings for britney isn't true. it is simple, honest, and pure. thats that. .... i don't give a fuck about anything anyone thinks and definately the media. lets just drop this right here in the bizkit camp. lets move on. ... next time ill fall in love with a tree.
--Fred Durst, 1/20/03
It's terrible to say, but I can't help but think that September 11 has something to do with this.
Update to Amy's WTC-memorial-as-bison-pasture post: it isn't just any walking-tour guide making the suggestion...it's Timothy "Speed" Levitch, who defines the idea of "quirky New Yorker" almost as much as Thoth*, another NY character/documentary subject. (Levitch is already the subject of a previous documentary, and is also a walk-on in Waking Life.)
*Thoth is the pan-flute playing, Central-Park-haunting, imaginary/mystical-language speaking, skimpy loin-cloth wearing dancer/musician/visionary about whom that Oscar(tm)-winning documentary was made a couple years back.
In a new documentary by Richard Linklater, a Manhattan walking-tour guide suggests that the WTC site be turned into an open park featuring roaming bison. Maybe we need more creative, conceptual ideas like this.
Looks like Salon is breathing its last few breaths: They're going to require everyone to get a subscription or click through several pages of ads to read stuff. Oh, well, Salon -- I've been reading you since you used 16-point type sizes and had to use salonmag.com because the hairdressers association wouldn't give you salon.com -- but it looks like this could be the end of the road for us, and for you. [LA Times article, via medianews] PS: you can login at LA Times using the username "amysrobot" and the password "password"...just another complimentary service from the 'Bot.]
X-Men: Legally not human. [via slashdot]
HAHAHAHAHA!! We're celebrities! We're not pretentious! How could we possibly be pretentious??!! We're just regular old celebrities having a great time!! A great time at this great party for these great awards because we're so great. And fun. And unpretentious. We're not pretentious -- really!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! We're just having fun! Ha Ha! Ha Ha! Ha! Ha.
We don't do sports very often here on the 'Bot (it's bad for our already-laboring heart), but here's a nice piece on why Yao Ming, the 7' 5" Chinese guy playing center for the Houston Rockets isn't really all he's cracked up to be. Reason #1: Chinese seasons are usually 30 games long, not 72, like in the NBA, and the big boy is starting to feel it.
NYT profiles photographer Bruce Davidson (link finally fixed), who is revisiting East 100th Street between 1st and 2nd, a block that was the focus of a book he put together 30 years ago. Davidson's original photos of the block are blunt but not simply documentary -- he captures the essence of the area, but composes the shots artistically, often with posed subjects. And, not only is he up in my 'hood, he also shares my personal aesthetic: check out him, check out me.
On January 14, Slate, the online mag owned by Microsoft, ran the following article:
On January 16, Yahoo (and MSN) had the following news:
Only two possible conclusions can follow: (1) people are dumb, or (2) B*sh & Co. co-erced MSFT (by dangling favorable J*stice Department rulings) into paying a dividend to ease passage of the new tax-relief bill, which would eliminate taxes on dividends.
Update (1/20/03): The author of the original piece describes why he was wrong, without seeming to admit that he was wrong.
Article on Salon [via Whiskas] cuts to the central issue of "Joe Millionaire": we in America still like to pretend that we live in a classless society. Whatever (un)lucky girl ends up winning the fake millionaire with frightening eyebrows, Evan Marriott, (who will be rich enough through endorsements and book deals after the show is over that he'll probably be a real millionaire after all) will have to pretend that she's not interested in him for his social standing, but for love. It will be a horrible and shameful moment.
Plus, the writer points out that we working class people have a completely fake vision of how rich people live based on shows like this. Come on. Hot young rich playboys don't loll around in French chateau anymore: "What kind of hot-blooded, messed-up American heir would hole up in a French ch穰eau with an assortment of tarted-up office managers who lie about their ages, anyway? Where's the house in Ibiza? Where's the party? Where's the wounding ignorance of how the other 90 percent live? Where's the blithe sense of entitlement? Where, for the love of God, are the drugs?"
My old friend Nicholson Baker has a new book out. NPR interviews him* about A Box of Matches, which mainly seems to be about a guy who sets fires in his fireplace. If you read the the summary on NPR's site, it seems like ole NB is getting just a little bit more obsessive/compulsive with each book that he writes. Will it be long before he makes his own paper and moveable-type printing press?
Fresh Air just rebroadcast its 1986 interview with Chuck Barris, creator of The Dating Game and subject of the new film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (based on his auto-biography, in which he famously claims that he was also a CIA hitman). He comes off as calm, well-spoken, very, very intelligent and amazingly insightful about what works on TV. If you've ever seen the Gong Show (see some video now), or the movie, you won't believe how smart he sounds.
I bet you've been thinking: where is the sassy, urbane commentary from Amy's Robot on the absurd ban of smoking in NY bars that will go into effect in March? Well I'll tell you. I've been holding out for Sars' commentary. The central argument being: IT'S A BAR, people [tm Whiskas]: "If you want sparkling clean lungfuls of untainted air, why not visit the Yukon, or the Alps, or the spa at the Beverly Hills Hilton, or another locale that's, oh, I don't know -- NOT A BAR? Did you not see the sign out front? No, not the lighted Guinness symbol -- the other one? The one above the door that says "McSwiggan's"? What, may I ask, did you count on finding when you came through the door -- a row of Nautilus machines? It's not "McWorkoutigan's," okay? It's not "McOxygen's."
Nominees for the National Book Critics Circle Awards (not to be confused with the National Book Award) are out. Main difference: Steve Martin doesn't host the awards ceremony.
Interesting, long interview with John McWhorter about race in America. Worth the read, if only for a different perspective. Some weird stuff about Asian kids will raise your eyebrows, I guess.
Of all the productions of Hamlet I've ever heard of, this one is the most surreal: It's being performed by some theater freaks on a stage made of ice in a section of Sweden above the Arctic Circle where the temperature is 40 below zero, in a Finnish-Hungarian language spoken by only 85,000 people.
Democrats are getting back on the ball: Mario Cuomo, my childhood political hero, is doing a speaking tour, and points out once again that Bush's proposed tax cuts won't help the poor, who hardly pay any taxes anyway.
Vampire hysteria in Malawi. [NYT]
Are you sitting down? Libya is due to take over chairmanship of the United Nation's Commission on Human Rights. Are you kidding me? Here's Human Rights Watch on the issue, and Amnesty's Libya page.
Great pissed-off overview of reality TV shows and why they probably won't be around much longer. My theory [inspired by T-rock]: celebrities are inherently more fun to watch than regular people are. Case in point: there are a few great details in this article about the new washed-up celebrity show "The Surreal Life", and tell me your eyes aren't drawn to text that includes the phrases "Corey Feldman" and "Vince Neil". [via King Pigeon]
Salon's "Ask the Pilot" section says, Don't believe the reverse hype: maybe you will survive if your plane ditches in water.
Queen Elizabeth got some panic rooms put in her palaces.
Hey folks! A brand-new concept in advertising is coming to television! A new variety show called "Live From Tomorrow" will feature endorsements and product placements in the actual content of the show. I can hardly breathe.
Just in case you ever had any doubts that Brittany Murphy has become a too-skinny ho-bag. Wasn't she cuter as Tai?
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere... homeless people are traveling to New York for our superior social services. City officials, not usually known for their generosity, are accepting them.
Mandatory registration of young men from Muslim countries at US INS centers is causing long lines, fear, frustration, and confusion as they all try to register before the deadline. Not to mention hundreds of arrests.
(link fixed) Ebert reviews Biggie & Tupac, the new Nick Broomfield documentary about the deaths of those two guys. He posits Suge Knight was behind it all.
Federal charges have been brought against the apparent leader of the Bonanno crime family in NY, the one boss who escaped charges in the last 10 years. Also charged were two men allegedly responsible for the murder of Dominick Napolitano, who allowed Joe Pistone (aka Donnie Brasco) to penetrate the family in the 1970s.
Follow-up to Amy's earlier post about the Illegal Art Exhibition: on their website, you can view Todd Haynes' now notorious Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story which is usually very hard to track down. You you might want to download the 440-megabyte MPEG and burn it to CD while you have the chance.
One of my favorite sections of In Style magazine is Transformations, which shows how a (usually) female celebrity has changed her style/appearance over the years. Well, this month it's Drew. My favorite ever, though, is Sarah Jessica Parker, who (sorry, SJ) went from Homely Helmet Hair (1984) to Dee Snider (1994) to Hot Dee Snider (1999) to Barbra Streisand (2002).
This almost goes without saying, but my other favorite "Transformations" is Salma Hayek, who has basically been the hottest thing in the world since the moment she was conceived, and who, unbelievably, has only gotten hotter as time goes on. Hotter than George Clooney in 1985 you ask? Yes, even hotter than that, I submit.
Television Without Pity, whom we've actually met, has a recaplet of Joe Millionaire. Heh.
MSN has a decent article about how to beat a speeding ticket. It even tells you how much getting a ticket can cost you in the long run because of increased insurance costs. Something to think about.
Glad I discovered the secret to being slim a few years ago: lots of brown food (cereal, spaghetti, nachos), occasional candy bars, and a really traumatic breakup with your girlfriend.
See, people, there's always a silver lining. You just have to find it.
Mr Blackwell's list of the worst-dressed celebrities is out, if anyone cares.
A worse faux pas has been committed by Blackwell himself, however: his official website hasn't been updated since 1998. Embarrassing! Besides, the website looks like a cross between a pre-teen's obsessive Geocities page mixed with a thrift store's attempt at e-commerce. Stick to cold media, Blackie.
While we're on the topic of thrift stores, here's some pictures found in a camera purchased at a thrift store.
This just in from the Tech Desk at Amy's Robot: So, today was Steve Jobs' keynote at Macworld. Lots of new products out, including a PowerBook with a backlit keyboard.
Usually, these keynotes are simultaneously exhilirating and depressing, since Jobs announces all this great stuff, but then reveals some kind of ridiculous blunder (like 32 MB of RAM in the original iMac), but this time around, it all looks good. Yeah, and so much for all those bullshit reports about the video-enabled iPod, a concept that doesn't even make sense until DVDs are legally rip-able. (But check out this ski jacket that has iPod controls built into the sleeve.)
Illegal Art is an exhibit featuring pieces that are all based on material ripped off from other artists or corporations, based on the completely ingenious copyright law that allows you to use other people's work as long as you are parodying it. No lawyers are saying a word about the exhibit, yet, except for Paul McCartney's publicist. Figures.
Some stuff between Roger Ebert, AO Scott, and others about Adaptation on Slate. Entries 12-14.
NYT reports on a new, federally-subsidized chimpanzee retirement community.
"Weapons of Mass Destruction", or WMD, is the 2002 Word of the Year, according to the American Dialect Society. A panel of language usage experts at Amy's Robot selected "kittens" as the 2002 Word of the Year. You can take your pick.
The site for Kill Bill, the new Tarantino movie, is up. I won't look at it. I guess the real question is whether the movie will be revolutionary, good, or just disappointing. Word is, they didn't use a screenplay, just a book. I wonder if that's possible. The site is in Flash, so better check it at work or via high speed. [via fimoculous, who's been sharing a lot of posts with us lately.]
NYT Magazine has questions for Frank Gehry. Don't read it if you like him and you're liberal. He doesn't come off so great. Basically, he says (twice) I didn't submit a proposal because they were only paying $40,000.
Oh. That explains it.
Funny article in the Times about "professional" drinkers who drink on New Year's Day instead of New Year's Eve. What happens when the two worlds collide? Hilarity ensues.
NYT profiles the city's best traffic cop. In Boston, the traffic cops screw everything up. In NY, most of them are helpful, although some of those guys on the Queens side of the 59th Street Bridge need a refresher course. Turns out, all traffic cops only get a one-day orientation anyway.
Sydney Omarr, famous newspaper astrologist, has died. I didn't see it coming.
Great eulogy for Joe Strummer on Salon. Quotes from Greil Marcus, Lester Bangs, ("We were all waiting for a group to come along who at least went through the motions of GIVING A DAMN about SOMETHING," the critic Lester Bangs wrote 25 years ago. "Ergo, the Clash.") Also commentary on why he agreed let Jaguar use "London Calling" in an ad, and an incredible anecdote on how The Clash tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce their New York punk fans to rap in 1980.