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September 2003 Archives

September 30, 2003

Official Documents

A. and I have been pretty busy lately, so we haven't provided our usual links to the official court records in high profile cases. To catch up a little:

All documents are PDFs.

The Sordid "Nation Building" of Iraq

Paul Krugman is especially cynical in this Op-Ed about the cronyism that is defining the US government's efforts to rebuild Iraq, and award lucrative contracts to their friends at the same time. He goes beyond the Halliburton favoritism we already know about: electricity and phone service provision is working much the same way. Those who are suffering the most are the Iraqis, who wait and wait for services to be restored while the White House manipulates bidding so that the right people win. Krugman writes, "Iraq isn't postwar Europe, and George W. Bush definitely isn't Harry Truman." And this is no Marshall Plan.

September 29, 2003

Collagen-Infused Water?

In the October issue of Vanity Fair, the "My Stuff" feature asks Entertainment Tonight/Today show fashionista Steven Cojocaru about his stuff. Turns out he has an IBM ThinkPad, a Sony Plasma TV, Jimmy Choo sneakers, some Heineken, and a Cartier watch. Yeah, well, so doesn't everybody.

But under the "Drinks" section, Steven has one item that is truly shocking. Are you ready?

"Collagen-infused water from Beverly Hill Ravine"

WHAT? You can get collagen in your water? Does Beverly Hills add collagen to their water supply like the rest of the country adds fluoride? Does it prevent lip decay? Is Bevery Hills Ravine a company or a geographic location? Do you buy this water at the store or at your surgeon's office? Does it inflate your urethra? Whose collagen was it before you drank it?

I Googled basically every combination of "Beverly Hills" "collagen" and "water" you could think of, but without any success. If anyone has some info on this product, please send it to us.

Here's a scan of the page from Vanity Fair.

Arnold Studies

Two professors, one at UCLA, one at John Jay, are partners in academic studies on Arnold Schwarzenegger [LA Times]. They have been collecting information about him for 20 years, not as a person, but as a "reference, a point in our culture", and now they're writing a book about him. They say about Arnold, "He's like a mold that grows everywhere." Yeah maybe, but he is one hell of a funny mold, whose comedic skills have not yet been fully explored. Have you seen Junior? How about Kindergarten Cop? I hope he doesn't get elected, partially because of the mockery it would make of our political system and democracy in general, and also because it would probably prevent him from making any more high-quality comedies in the next few years.

September 28, 2003

Fortress of Solitude excerpts, pt 1 of 2

Here's a little something from Fortress of Solitude, the new novel by Jonathan Lethem. A woman writes to her son Dylan on a postcard that shows a shirtless Henry Miller and a woman at Big Sur:

don't let hank fool you d
a brooklyn street kid never quits
dreaming of stickball triples
egg creams and the funnies
in his mind he's dick tracy
she's brenda starr
not venus on the half shell
love beachcomber crab
The rest of the novel up to this point (page 104) captures equally well the drifty haziness of childhood, and foreshadows the way memories of such things -- though disjointed and confused -- will anchor and haunt you.

Coming soon: page 261.

CIA Seeks Recruits With Good Crossword-Solving Skills?

I woke up this morning to see the Central Intelligence Ag*ncy advertising on NYTimes.com, with a slightly flippant ad that says "If you can read this" and then is followed by some Arabic script, which I'm guessing says "your country needs you" or something similar. (Ideas?) Clicking on the ad takes you to a page at cia.gov that lists available positions in their language department, but a nav bar on the left indicates they also need people for "clandestine services". It's not easy being a spy:

To qualify you must have first-rate qualifications: a bachelor's degree with an excellent academic record, strong interpersonal skills, the ability to write clearly and accurately, and a burning interest in international affairs. A graduate degree, foreign travel, foreign language proficiency, previous residency abroad, and military experience are pluses. We are particularly interested in candidates with backgrounds in Central Eurasian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern languages, and those with degrees and experience in international economics and international business as well as in the physical sciences. Entrance salaries range from $43,500 to $60,400, depending on credentials. [emph. added]
"A burning interest!" Wow, who was the enthusiastic copy writer at the Agency who came up with that one? Also, it looks like first-year spooks make only a little more than first-year teachers in NYC. I wonder which job is harder.

Cut and paste this into your browser: http://www.cia.gov/employment/language.html (Don't want good ole amysrobot.com showing up in the C*A's referral logs, do we? They'll see what we're up to over here...criticizing J. Lo and all could get us into some hot water.)

ps. It looks like they've advertised on NYT.com before, but I couldn't find too many references to it, so.

September 26, 2003

George Plimpton, 1927-2003:
Bon Vivant, Gadfly, Savvy Consumer Electronics Shopper

We learned today via the Amy's Robot Link Factory™ that George Plimpton, who throughout his prolific career wrote books on everything from baseball to Shackleton, has left the Upper East Side of this world and moved up to that penthouse in the sky. Upon hearing the news of his death, I couldn't help but wax reflective on the time I met the famed author, editor, and occasional actor. He was buying a camcorder at Circuit City on East 86th Street.

As I watched him question a sales associate about the advantages of MiniDV over Hi-8, I knew I was watching a master at work. Throughout the interview he plied the the associate's knowledge with the same avid curiosity we've seen him use a hundred times in The Paris Review. As he soaked up the differences between optical and digital zoom, it seemed as if he were discussing with Phillip Roth the more difficult social metaphors of Portnoy's Complaint. His learned avuncularity elicited responses of surprising depth from his subject, who expounded on the virtues of 10x optical zoom much more, I think, than he ordinarily would have, and we were both left with a profound comprehension of the matter.

When he said, "So -- let me understand -- I can hook this up to my computer?", I was reminded of his earlier delicate exploration of the poet Marianne Moore's imagination -- as Plimpton implied, each in their own ways struggles to capture the transient, the fleeting, the momentary, and isolate and preserve it for a more studied analysis at some later time. True, I already was impressed, but even these subtle gestures couldn't have prepared me for what came next. When Plimpton reached for the camcorder and held its viewfinder to his eye, I recognized the moment for what it was: a coda to Plimpton's career of participatory journalism. "Let me see how this thing works," he said, seemingly shedding the role of the journalist in favor of a new one, that of "Consumer Electronics Purchaser." But I knew that although he appeared to be a mere customer, beneath that facade the passionate heart of a journalist beat steadily, and his mind registered each element of the experience: the feel of the zoom button on his forefinger, the weight of the unit in his hand, the visual chaos of the camera's demo mode, which applied a dizzying array of video effects to everything that came within his line of sight. "I see, I see," he said, expressing an almost intuitive understanding of how 1-touch sepia tone could add a bit of pre-emptive nostalgia to any special family memory. By the time he got around to placing a Memory Stick in the camera's magnetic media slot, he and the sales associates were more than just reporter and subject: they were friends, teammates, partners.

When Plimpton finally committed to the purchase, having explored all his options with the alacrity that had aided him so much when bullfighting, boxing, or figuring out William Styron, everyone silently applauded yet another Plimpton masterwork. As he signalled the end of the session by autographing his credit card receipt, he reclaimed the mantle of "George Plimpton, Reporter" (as opposed to "George Plimpton, Consumer") and marched up the escalator, camcorder in hand. There was no doubt as to the impact of what we (the sales associate, the cashier girl, myself) had witnessed, and we were united in awe of the consummate journalist. Capping the extraordinary time we had spent as part of the story we imagined he would simply title "Buying a Camcorder", the cashier girl was the first to speak:

"That man famous. He's in the movies! I seen him in Good Will Hunting!"

Used CDs You Have Seen Hundreds Of Times

Pitchfork has compiled Castoffs and Cutouts, their Top 50 Used CDs (via fimoculous), many of which you will probably recognize, because you contributed to the inventory at Joe's, Kim's, and Princeton Record Exchange. The list is very perceptive and accurate, and helpfully rates each entry for its worthiness, should you happen to come upon it in your local used bin. I would agree with all of these ratings, with the possible exception of Lush's last album Ladykillers, which is not strong, but has at least 3 very good songs on it. The disses on Veruca Salt, Frente, and REM's Monster album ("The very words 'Bang and Blame' send most people over 25 into fits" hee hee!) are totally deserved. Saying you hate Arrested Development and Republic by New Order is gutsy and controversial, but I can't disagree.

Dr. Who Returns!

Dorky kids who loved PBS during the 1970's freak out as news of a revived Dr. Who series breaks (The Guardian also reports.) Richard E. Grant as the Doctor would be the ideal choice for the new series, though I've never been able to decide whether I preferred Tom Baker or Peter Davidson in the old days.

MEE-OWWW! pfft pfft

The Democrat candidates go at it again, ganging up on Dean, throwing "Newt Gingrich" around, prompting Dean to come back with "You know, to listen to Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt, I'm anti-Israel, I'm antitrade, I'm anti-Medicare and I'm anti-Social Security," he said. "I wonder how I ended up in the Democratic Party." Nice-guy Al Sharpton came to his rescue, calling him Brother Howard.

Surprisingly, no one challenged Clark, who seems to have been largely quiet during the debate. Considering he has no health plan to offer yet, and voted for Nixon and Reagan, he'll have a lot of questions to answer soon, but the world's going easy on him for now.

September 25, 2003

Fresh Perspective on 'The Bachelor'

From the Amy's Robot Mail Bag:

Oh my lord - this promises to be the best season yet!!! The little hookers are BURSTING with enthusiasm for Bob, their claws are already fully extended, there's promise of an emergency trip to the HOSPITAL when one of the fritters gets her little heart hurt, and we've been teased with glimpses of Bob making out with / screwing EVERY SINGLE slut on the show!!!

ABC really has hit the jackpot - drop all other reality shows NOW and watch The Bachelor this season, if you aren't watching already. There's something special about it.

And DO NOT call us during the sacred hour unless it is during the commercial break, please. -Laura

The Bachelor on this new series is certainly not trying too hard to endear himself to me. From the ABC website: "During college Bob had the opportunity to be the social director of his frat house, which led him to the founding of his band, called Fat Amy. Fat Amy started in 1993 and was an immediate fan favorite throughout the Midwest." Fat Amy. Nice one, Pug-Nosed Jheri-Curled Bob (tm Rungu) who got dissed by Trista on The Bachelorette. -amy

Casting for the Stepford Wives

NYT on a casting call for the remake of The Stepford Wives that was wisely held in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where there are more than enough women who fit the bill. Like this one: "At 29, Anne Nolte of Weston, Conn., appeared to be a dead ringer for what was being sought. She is 5 feet 11 in flats, and was wearing a smart black cocktail dress and pink cashmere sweater that set off her dark blond hair, and had an Yves St. Laurent handbag casually slung over her arm. She left her husband, the investment banker, at home. She had never seen the movie or read the book but knew enough about the plot to take it in stride."

Some of these women are self-aware enough to realize that the Stepford Wives phenomena says more about men and their fantasies of servile, robotic women than it does about actual suburban housewives.

The book/movie that cause such a stir in the 1970's is being remade in a different time, but judging from some of the comments of today's real-life Stepford husbands ("If I was a multimillionaire, I'd be happy if my wife stayed home and worked out all day") I wonder how much things have really changed.

Arnold's Softer Side

Surreal Op-Ed piece by Maureen Dowd about her recent conversation with Arnold. They discuss whether or not he's a metrosexual, the Madonna-Britney VMA kiss, his two favorite actresses (Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep), and how black bodybuilders have problems with their calves (but he's not racist!) But by far the most inches are dedicated to what Arnold truly loves, shopping for his wife. He buys Maria blouses, dresses, suits, outfits, and jewelry, and is "95 percent on the money, with the size and with the style." Maybe he should just be a personal shopper at Barney's.

PLUS: CNN and E! cover his televised spectacle of a sort-of-mock debate, in which he arouses Arianna Huffington's feminist sensibilities, who was apparently not amused by her pal's jokes.

Update on Arnold's "Should women wear pants?" issue: Friend-of-the-'Bot Chrissy reports from California: "We saw Maria last night at headquarters (with 2 little Arnolds in tow), and she was indeed wearing pants. And driving the notorious Hummer!"

September 24, 2003

David Lee Roth's Tour Done In by Samurai Maneuver Gone Wrong

"It was an incident onstage where he was doing a kung-fu maneuver and he got hit with a staff that he uses," spokesman Todd Brodginski said in a statement. "He was doing a very fast, complicated 15th-century samurai move."

Wow. A kung-fu-practicing Samurai? No wonder he had problems. I'm not an expert on this stuff, except from the movies, but isn't kung fu a Chinese martial art? Aren't Samurai from Japan? I guess he's ignoring the Hagakure's smart advice about what happens when one thing becomes two.* Maybe his injuring himself was a performative metaphor for the battle between these two styles?

Regardless of the contradiction in fighting forms, there is an incredible video of Diamond Dave practicing his Samurai moves over on his website. I literally could not take my eyes off it. I never thought a video could surpass the one of him chillin' with the belly dancers and dwarves from a few months ago...but let me tell you something:

Never. Underestimate. David. Lee. Roth.

*"It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything that is called a Way. Therefore, it is inconsistent to hear something of the Way of Confucius or the Way of the Buddha, and say that this is the Way of the Samurai. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all ways and be more and more in accord with his own."

Dave Matthews Band Loves AOL

So a hundred thousand people are streaming into Central Park to catch the show in a few hours, getting their bottles, backpacks, and dirty bombs confiscated. It's for the schools. It's funny to me that AOL is sponsoring this thing and making a huge deal of it and only giving the schools $1 million, while just last week Bill Gates gave us $50 million, without much of a fuss. I wonder if a million dollars would feed all the kids in the school system for even one day. I don't think it would.

Amy and I got supersaturated with DMB after catching him at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater more times than we could count, back when he was dating our housemate's sister and playing the Flood Zone once a week. Did anyone else lose patience with DMB after the supposedly big-deal album Busted Stuff? I hated this album so much it made me retroactively dislike his earlier records...I haven't listened to them since Dave was on 60 Minutes that time. Will he recapture the magic? I'd like to think so, but I don't think Amy thought there was ever any magic to recapture.

No Naked Jungle People Please, We're British

Kate Beckinsale, who has never been drunk, is shocked -- shocked!-- at the state of reality television in England, particularly because of Naked Jungle, in which participants accomplish feats and swing through rugged locales while nude. Show's been on for 3 years, Kate. Go get a beer and enjoy it.

September 23, 2003

Bill Murray Rules the Universe

Thanks to Fametracker (and to Whiskas, for the notification) for running a profile of Bill Murray when everyone else on the planet is gushing about Sofia Coppola. He's doing the best work of his career while Steve Martin is sleepwalking through Bringing Down the House and that Cheaper By the Dozen remake. I think that MTV or AFI or somebody should give a special lifetime achievement award to Bill Murray and Holly Hunter for absolutely refusing to shed their unfashionable regional accents, regardless of the role they are currently playing.

White Rap Revue

Aesop Rock will be performing today (Tuesday) at the Virgin Megastore at 6 pm [scroll down]. Def Jux's website sort of implies El-P and some other Jukies will be there.

So, let's take a second to look at the state of white rappers.

  • Eminem. He's got it all figured out. Maybe he's doesn't have the most abstract, brain-bending lyrics, but he's got a perfect ear and narrative style. Looks like he's moving behind the boards now, which hopefully will yield some interesting projects -- but if his gift is for assonance, don't we want him to stay on the mic? Em: try to keep 50 out of trouble.
  • The Beasties. They're getting old. What are they working on? They had that peacenik single last spring, but what else? I want the hiatus to be over.
  • El-P. His record company, Definitive Jux is a gift to the world. El's producing some of the most talented guys out there -- Cannibal Ox, C. Rayz Walz, RJD2 -- and still putting out brilliant albums of his own. Has there been a recent hip-hop album better than El's Fantastic Damage? If so, El probably produced it himself. Which leads us to:
  • Aesop Rock. New album, Bazooka Tooth, came out last month. Maybe he's not as innately skilled as his Def Jux cohorts, but he's still better than nearly everyone else you hear, althoguh he does sort of come across like the lost Beastie Boy...a little uncomfortable in his own skin.
  • Bubba Sparxxx. Plays up his crackerdom more than Ted Nugent. Redneck rap was a genre waiting to happen, so it's good he came along. You can listen to all of his new album, Deliverance, over at BET (ironically), where they spell the name of the album wrong. Bubba would kick my ass for saying so, but even Timbaland's production can't save it.
  • MC Paul Barman. Brown-educated Jewish intellectual potty-mouthed rap was another genre waiting to be born. Too clever for his own good, but it works, maybe because he's so filthy, and because he combines words in a way that you don't understand until 5 minutes after you hear it. New album came out a year ago, is somehow more foul-minded than his first.
There are others, but this will suffice.

September 22, 2003

Everybody Either Likes or Doesn't Like the Smoking Ban

According to a poll commissioned by the American Cancer Society And Tobacco-Free Kids, New Yorkers support the smoking ban by a 70-27 margin when asked this question: "Earlier this year a law went into effect prohibiting smoking in all workplaces in New York City, including offices, restaurants and bars. Would you say that you support or oppose the law?"

However, according to a poll conducted by NY's Conservative Party, 63% of city voters agreed with this statement: "The politicians went too far when they enacted a total ban on smoking in restaurants and bars."

Apparently, people like not being able to smoke in bars, restaurants, and offices more than they like not being able to smoke only in restaurants and bars.

Maybe they should follow the model of anti-abortion/pro-life groups (formerly "pro-death" and "anti-choice", respectively) and agree on the language that surrounds the issues. Like just asking people, "Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I like cancer."

Just wait here in the car, honey...

We're generally not covering the Ben/J.Lo split, but we're making an exception for this tidbit, suggested by Whiskas. During their unsuccessful attempt at patching thing up this weekend, they were spotted at the mall, where Jennifer sat in the car while Ben shopped for a gun.

Also see the next bit: Uma's been seen around town with John Cusack. Wait, she used to be with John Cusack? She used to be married to Gary Oldman? Wow, I sure wasn't reading the papers in 1992. -amy

Hmm. Sounds like Ben Affleck is taking a page from the Robert Blake playbook.

Yeah, Ames. Apparently John Cusack used to have a big thing for Uma that never really materialized/perpetuated in the way he wanted, but now he's getting a second chance. He must've gone over to her house with his boombox or something.

In my experience, the boombox thing only works some of the time. Like a maximum of maybe twice per girl. -adm

September 20, 2003

Another Shot Heard 'Round the World?

Some San Francisco Giants fans shot to death an LA Dodgers fan after a game on Friday.

Let's not forget that it was a previous meeting between these two teams (when both were based in New York) that resulted in "the shot heard 'round the world," Bobby Thomson's homerun during the National League penant in 1951. Thomson's homerun figures prominently in Don DeLillo's Underworld -- a fictionalized account of the game serves as the book's prologue, and several characters in the book are obsessed with the homerun ball. Will DeLillo add an epilogue to new editions of Underworld taking this shooting incident into account? Don probably wouldn't believe it if someone told him this story.

But, like they say in Magnolia, these things happen.

Update: Here's a more fully reported LA Times story.

September 19, 2003

9/11, families, and freedom of information

Families of those killed on 9/11 are demanding that all the information about the event be released to an investigatory agency [nyt]. I would like to know whether these are the same families who a few weeks ago were outraged that a court ordered the Port Authority to release its audio recordings from that day. If so, it seems a little odd to me. Is it proper, in this case, to claim special privilege: that, because you lost a loved one, information should be made only under the circumstances that you deem appropriate? Maybe I would think differently if I were in their position, but isn't it in everyone's interest to make all the information available, so that people can make their own judgments about it?

Amy's Robot Hit by Denial-of-Service Attack

Intellectual terrorists have hijacked Amy's Robot...probably due to our excoriating treatment of J. Lo, Jason Biggs, and Courtney Love.

That's the price you pay for the truth. From our host:

One of our machines is currently under a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. The large amount of traffic from this attack caused our network to unreachable at times. This downtime is affecting all customer services. We have notified our upstream providers and they have begun to block traffic to the attacked IP. We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing you, and we will make a second announcement as soon as a solution has been completed.
Update: Our valiant host fought off the attack.

Richie from the Block

Clyde Haberman at the NYT talks to people from the Elmhurst, Queens school where Richard Grasso went to high school. Turns out they weren't too impressed with him back then, or since his rise to power, either.

Woody's latest

NYT says Anything Else is better than Hollywood Ending and Small Time Crooks and Woody Allen's other recent, lesser films, because some of the jokes are actually funny. As you might expect, Christina Ricci is a highlight, playing her role of the difficult girlfriend with "feral, neurotic glee". Ebert likes it too, but then, look at all the movies he gave three stars to this week. Yeah, like Secondhand Lions. Ebert notes how weird it is that the trailer for Anything Else doesn't let on that Woody is actually in the movie himself, in a significant supporting role. Clearly, the studio no longer thinks he's box office gold. Stephen Hunter, however, thinks he's clearly the best part of the movie.

Goodbye Trance

One of the premiere UK trance labels, Hooj Choons, has folded. Their announcement says, "Naturally, this has come about as a direct result of: Sept 11/ any middle eastern conflict you care to name/ downloading/ the slump in the global economy/ music industry/ dance music industry... No, the truth is that as distinguished labels, clubs and magazines shut down around us, we failed to react quickly or effectively enough to what was going on." And the fact that kids are listening to Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Darkness instead of the boom-boom sound. Clubland out, Rock in.

Benefit in Brooklyn with Dan the Automator

A naturally-powered concert in Prospect Park will feature 2 Many DJ's, Handsome Boy Modeling School (Prince Paul and Dan the Automator), UNKLE and others, to benefit an organization called Renewable Brooklyn. Brooklyn Brewery will be serving organic beer in biodegradable cups made from corn. Really. It's on October 3.

September 18, 2003

Help Jason Biggs Find Love

Poor Jason Biggs just can't get a girlfriend! The successful and popular actor recently broke up with his girlfriend of 3 years, and says he can't find a nice, normal, smart, funny, non-actress girl with whom to share his love. I wonder why?

"You walk in my house, man, and it's just empty rooms and stacked boxes," he says, adding that he has bought only a bed, a couch and a "bad ass" large-screen, high-definition TV.

"I like hanging with my buds," he says. "I'm a dude at heart - the kind of guy who'll burp in public."

Biggs admits he sometimes felt a little out of his league working with the intellectual [Woody] Allen, especially when the director started dropping names like Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard. "Definitely, there were some references that Woody would make on set that I would be like, 'Huh?' " Biggs recalls with a laugh.

So, anybody want to introduce this guy to their sister? Come on! We all need love!

In the Cut

We've had a link or two about it on the Amy's Robot Link Factory™, and we've mentioned it in passing, I think, but it's now time for us to start whole-hearted, explicit coverage of the upcoming Jane Campion movie In the Cut, which is based on Susanna Moore's short novel of the same name.

The novel caused a bit of a stir when it came out because of its unapologetically graphic sexuality. The story's narrator, a professor at NYU, gets herself involved with a hard-boiled detective who is investigating a murder she may have some information about.

Much has been made of the book's twist ending and whether this ending will be repeated in the film, but it seems to me that Campion has a more difficult choice to make: Will she echo the tone of the book's callow, self-destructive narrator? Moore's book makes you a little seasick because the narrator is not a particularly likeable or sympathetic character and she repeatedly engages in behavior so wrong you're eventually left navigating her world without a moral compass, and you can't know whom to trust, like, or care about. It seems to me that this will be difficult to capture on film, but not impossible: Vertigo, Husbands and Wives, and maybe Pi accomplish a similar kind of moral disorientation. With this tone, Moore does something new, or at least unusual, for a mystery novel, which is that instead of taking the easy way out and making her untrustworthy main character a suspect, she has that character establish her innocence but still maintain an air of "unknowability" that heightens the suspense of the story and intensifies the reader's visceral response to the narrator's world. Nicole Kidman was an obvious casting choice, but still somehow brilliant -- combine her performance in Eyes Wide Shut with To Die For, and you get the idea -- but she abandoned the role after a long flirtation, eventually being replaced by Meg Ryan. So can Ryan pull it off? A lot of people don't like her or think so, but I do. Take a look at her in Courage Under Fire, or re-imagine Addicted to Love as a stalker film instead of a romantic comedy, and then, like me, you will have faith. No one I know seems to have any doubts about Ryan's co-star in the film, Mark Ruffalo, playing the dirty cop. One friend of mine's clitoris almost exploded the other day when the report about Ruffalo's reportedly prodigious "talent" came out.

Renaming the World Trade Center

After much deliberation and arguing over what to call the rebuilt area on the site of the World Trade Center (including Freedom Tower, 9/11 Memorial Plaza, Greenwich Plaza, Hudson Terminal, Washington Market, Telegram Square, Radio Row, Little Syria, and Bitsy Foofoo's Funtime Circus) developers are settling on a decision [nyt]. Get ready. World Trade Center. "As one of the several million New Yorkers who still say Sixth Avenue, 58 years after it was renamed Avenue of the Americas, Larry Silverstein [leaseholder of the site] offered a practical reason for keeping the name World Trade Center. 'Even if we wanted to call it something else, New Yorkers would continue to call it what it was,' he said. 'That's the way New Yorkers are.'"

September 17, 2003

ADM! Look!

Looks like there's going to be a series based on Practical Magic coming to CBS next year. Sandra Bullock's production company is working on it. A certain blogging partner of mine might be excited to hear this news, or maybe he was just into Nicole. -amy

Amy knows I've had a soft spot in my heart for Practical Magic ever since a rather humiliating experience at an almost-pretentious video store in Boston a few years ago. I rented Blast from the Past and Practical Magic on the same night, seizing the opportunity when the movie buff owner, Fred, wasn't around to cast disdain in my direction. I watched them both and loved them both, even listenining to Griffin Dunne's director's commentary on the Practical Magic DVD, which is mostly about how amazing and beautiful the kitchen was. (Amy, months later: "Yeah, that was a really great kitchen.") The next day, guess who was working the counter when I returned the videos? That's right! "Um, hey, Fred. I'm, um, returning these." That was the last time I ever went to Fred's Video. -adm

Still More Sofia Coppola Profiles

From the latest, we learn Sofia's top ten movies: All That Jazz, Badlands, Darling, GoodFellas, The Heartbreak Kid, Lolita (1962 or 1997?), The Piano, Safe (Me too, S!), Tootsie (Amy, too, S!) Rumble Fish (your dad, too, S!). Did she purposely leave out Adaptation or Being John Malkovich?

For the record, here are our top ten movies involving someone closely related to Sofia: Raising Arizona, Being John Malkovich, Godfather, Godfather II, Apocalypse Now, Rushmore, Rocky, Virgin Suicides, The Conversation. That's only nine? Um. Ok, how about if we take the first 2/3 of Adaptation, and then add the Chemical Brothers video she's in that Spike directed? Does that count? -adm

I would add to our list Lost In Translation, one of the better movies I've seen all year (we can include movies that Sofia actually directed herself, right?) Bill Murray has been using his talent in such an amazing and effective way over the last few years, and good for Sofia from prying him out of Wes Anderson's grip and writing such a perfect role for him. It did make me worry about the state of her Spike Jonze marriage, however. The Scarlett Johansson role is pretty clearly based on Sofia herself (which adds a level of pretention and preciousness to the movie that I'd rather not dwell on,) and she spends much of the movie sitting around being lonely in her hotel room while her hip, up-and-coming young artist husband is off at work and being mooned over by celebrities.

By the way, you might have been wondering what ever happened to my Top Ten Films of 2002 list. Well, here you go: The Hours, Adaptation, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 8 Women, Spirited Away, Far From Heaven, 24 Hour Party People, 25th Hour, and Talk To Her. In 2001, I had 11 films in the Top Ten, so this year I have 9. The 10th slot might have been filled by City of God or Chicago, but neither of them turned out to be all that good. -amy

What Would Chelsea Do?

Now that Chelsea Clinton has moved to NYC and is spending her Friday nights walking around the corner of Ave. B and 10th on her way to Gnocco, um, so I hear, many celebrities and local NY characters have offered their advice as to how she should live her fabulous new life. Some advice: jog on the West Side Highway, straighten her hair, date a Calvin Klein underwear model, eat downtown, keep a low profile, get a pit bull, avoid degenerate rich kids, volunteer at hospitals (that one's from Ed Koch) and Whiskas' favorite, from Isaac Mizrahi, lose 5 pounds.

September 16, 2003

Central Park Fireworks Video

So here's my video from the somewhat disappointing Light Cycle fireworks show last night. I shot it from the less-than-ideal vantage point of 106th and 5th, but still.

Anyway, since the fireworks themselves weren't that exciting, I tried to spruce it up a little: the video runs backwards. [Quicktime required.]

Perils of the Mini-Scooter

Will mini-scooters join squeegee men, panhandlers, street pissers and bad graffiti as signs that the city has lost control? In my neighborhood, kids on mini-scooters are EVERYWHERE, weaving in and out of traffic, sidewalks and parks without a care in the world. They look like accidents waiting to happen, and apparently they are: a guy with one in Brooklyn crashed into a truck the other day and is on life support now. The city, apparently, is beginning to crack down, as the scooters, although legal to sell, are illegal to ride. They may have to step up the effort, though: up here in East Harlem (aka Spanish Harlem, aka SpaHa, aka Soon-to-be-not-Spanish-Harlem) the kids are racing around on unlicensed, loud, and not-very-safe-looking dirt bikes now.

If your city has not been hit by the locust-like infestation of these things, note that they are not scooters in the moped/Honda Esprit sense of the term: they're like a cross between those things, a skateboard and (sometimes) a bike seat. Judging from recent sidewalk run-ins, it's not unreasonable to fit 3 dumb kids on each vehicle. It's funny how these things have morphed from a way for decrepit old people to get to the grocery to a way to go check out the tweenie hotties in another neighborhood.

But let me say: What a bunch of classist hypocrites we will all be if the city permits Segways but not mini-scooters.

Spotlight-Hogging Pop Hangers-On

Fametracker points out that Britney Spears is morphing into the garish, Madonna-stalking, naked-in-fashion mags has-been that Courtney Love has already become. Remember that VMA's about 3 years ago when Madonna was being interviewed by Kurt Loder on a balcony after the show, and a very wasted and embarassing Courtney Love was standing below them, throwing her compact up at Madonna? She was like a tag-along younger sibling with Hi-C stains on her face who misbehaves to get attention from her cool teenage older sister. Madonna calmly said "Courtney Love is throwing her compact at me", and suggested to Kurt that they'd better invite her up, or she'd never stop. It made me cringe.

More on Schwarzenegger and Women

LAT takes a close look at Arnold's 30-year public history of talking about women. They document some of his more misogynistic statements along with some pro-equality thoughts that he has voiced over the years.

What kills me is the hypocrite Republicans -- inlcluding many Republican women -- saying everything is just fine with Arnold's comments and sordid past. In an article we linked to the other day, some big-wig Republican woman said, "As far as I know, Arnold upholds family values." This about a man who a week earlier had been all over the news for the orgies, groping numerous reporters and co-stars, and making a series of generally unkind or backwards statements about women. ("I saw this toilet bowl. How many times do you get away with this -- to take a woman, grab her upside down and bury her face in a toilet bowl?" and "Neither my mother nor Maria is allowed to go out with me in pants." How's that for family values?) I haven't seen the tape, but I heard Pat Robertson has literally laughed off Arnold's sexual escapades, with a cheap one liner about "well, back in my bodybuilding days...". Puke.

September 15, 2003

Madonna, Kids, and Kaballah

I feel like we may have reported this story in some other form a while back, but here's Madonna talking about how Kaballah helped her to write and inspired her new kids book. Relatedly, here's a picture (taken today) of her daughter Lourdes almost-all-grown-up. (Lourdes is the one on the left. Phew.) She looks uncannily like a cross between Madonna and a Latin lover.

Ooh! Aah!

Don't forget about the most gigantic fireworks display ever(?) tonight in Central Park: 11,000 shells in 9 seconds. Then go home.

Like a flash mob, except without all the BS.

Update: Sort of disappointing from where I was. Video footage coming soon.

Cultural Capital at Ground Zero

Various groups have sent in proposals for what to do with the space set aside for art and culture at the WTC. Arthur Miller and Meryl Streep are backing a theater complex, the New York City Opera wants an opera house, but maybe there's no room, and the 92nd Street Y proposes a community center. The Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation, as with all such things, will weigh their options and decide something that some people will like and many people will hate. Too bad the 3,000 people half-buried there don't have a say in the process. Do you think they would vote for the opera house or the playhouse?

I may as well note, for the one millionth time, the ridiculousness of stuff like this, especially around 9/11 anniversaries, during which everybody in power sits around and offers banalities like "the children are the hope for the future" and makes a big deal about how sacred everything is, and then they go back to work and order everybody to hurry up with the construction of the office towers already. Oh yeah. And the cultural center.

September 14, 2003

Municipal Photography in NYC

The NYT reports that a city clerk recently discovered that 20,000 photos in its collection were taken by the same city photographer, Eugene de Salignac, who was the only photographer employed by the city's Department of Plant and Structures for 30 years, beginning in about 1903. Many of his photos are viewable at the Department of Records online gallery, which I think we linked to a while ago. While looking into this a bit more, I discovered that between 1939 and 1941, another city agency, the Department of Taxes, took a picture of every building in the 5 boroughs. This project resulted in 720,000 photographs, each of which has been microfilmed and can be viewed by anyone who visits the Muncipal Archives.

More on city photography: NYT Magazine re-profiles Diane Arbus, and runs some never-before-published photos.

September 12, 2003

Undercutting Dean

So now Gephardt has joined in the Dean-bashing extravaganza that is the fight for the Democratic nomination. Gep compares Dean to Newt Gingrich and says he's "not what Democrats stand for." In fact, Dean is one of maybe 3 of the candidates who are precisely what Democrats stand for -- at least what they stood for before they became a bunch of mealy-mouthed, scaredy-cat, rubber-stamping ditto heads.

Gephardt and fellow sell-out Lieberman must know that their desperate attacks on Dean will do little to aid their own campaigns but will only continue the fragmentation of the party. I hate to say it, but since the situation is so dire, this seems like one of those election seasons where the smart thing to do is for Dems to limit their attacks on each other, see who the natural winner is, and throw their support behind him as quickly as possible.

Blackout Post Mortem

The mayor's office is asking you to fill out this online survey regarding your experiences during the blackout.

Also, there's some email going around indicating that if you fill out a form at ConEd.com [pdf] you can get reimbursed for food spoilage due to the blackout. I called ConEd, and they report what the form makes somewhat clear: because the blackout was not their fault, they will not honor any claims.

Friday Fun!

Here's a little something I made for you. Two little somethings, really:

  • iTunes Library File XML parser. Put a copy of your iTunes library file (usually "iTunes Music Library.xml" which is found in your iTunes folder) in a web-accessible directory, paste the URL into the form, and your iTunes library will show up rendered as an HTML file sortable by artist, album, song, or file size. The resulting page is bookmarkable, too, so you can send it to people. See a small example.
  • For the less technically inclined: your very own secret decoder ring. I invented a method of encryption called PCP, aka Pretty Crappy Privacy. You can use it to encode text, and email the results to your partners in crime. They can then use the page to decode the secret message. I'll give you a dollar if you can tell me my encryption algorithm. Here's a little message to decode to get you started:
Have fun!

Johnny Cash Walks The Line

Goodbye Johnny Cash. Thanks for writing "Big River" and "Get Rhythm" and "Folsom Prison Blues". Here's the NY Times obit.

Oh my God, John Ritter died too. Wesley Willis, Johnny Cash, and John Ritter. Wow. -amy

...And Warren Zevon, too, Amy. Don't forget Warren.

Here is my John Ritter tribute:

The E! True Hollywood Story for Three's Company is the best documentary film ever. Joyce DeWitt may be dancing on Ritter's grave today...but she dances alone. -adm

Resfest 2003

This year's Resfest, a digital film festival, will include the premiere of Daft Punk's new video/movie Interstella 5555. I've been a fan of their video-movies since the mini-movie for 'Da Funk' (by Spike Jonze) about the guy in the dog suit on crutches. The other videos included also look amazing, and there will be a Spike Jonze rarities segment. Festival comes to NYC October 9-12.

Shortlist Music Prize

The Shortlist Music Prize gives an annual award to a band that has sold less than 500,000 albums, sort of an alternative to the Grammys or the UK's Mercury Prize. The finalists just got announced, and it's a great list (though not a lot of surprises,) including The Streets, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sigur Ros, Bright Eyes. And check out who the judges and nominators are: Tori Amos, Tom Waits, Chemical Brothers, Spike Jonze, Flea, Perry Farrell, The Neptunes, and some others. N*E*R*D won last year. Award show takes place in LA, which makes me a little envious; see more info.

September 11, 2003

1990 Redux

As m@ points out, there are a hell of a lot of bands reuniting these days. The Guardian asks, Are the Pixies going to be crap when they tour next year? There is, I suppose, the possibility that they might be as sorry as the Rolling Stones wailing and kickboxing their way through 35 year old songs, but come on. THE PIXIES. ARE TOURING. If that doesn't excite you, then maybe you're one of those people who DID get to see them play years ago, or at least caught The Breeders with Nirvana on their 1993 tour.

As for My Bloody Valentine, Kevin Shields has released a slew of new tracks on the Lost in Translation soundtrack, so there is hope. However, we've been disappointed before, so I'll believe it when I see it.

The Rebirth of Horror

Interview on Salon (it's worth clicking through the ad, which is for Thirteen, a movie very worth seeing. A little overwrought, but Holly Hunter and the guy who played Elton in Clueless make up for it) with Eli Roth, who made the forthcoming horror movie Cabin Fever. Roth really really loves horror movies, and is annoyed with the Hollywood branding of many recent horror movies (28 Days Later, Silence of the Lambs, The Sixth Sense) as "thrillers" or "supernatural dramas". He also includes some advice David Lynch gave him about movie making, and recounts gruesome details of the many flesh-eating diseases he has suffered. Peter Jackson likes Cabin Fever, and I know I'm seeing it.

9/11 Coverage

Slate has 6 articles related to 9/11, NYT has an op-ed discussing the ways the world's view of us has "darkened" in the last two years and a lead editorial assessing the state of things since, and the Washington Post has a special "Two Years Later" section.

September 10, 2003

Moussaoui case takes one more step towards the inevitable tribunal

As we mentioned the other day, Zacarias Moussaoui won his legal fight to question other terror suspects who might offer evidence that would clear him of the government's charges of his involvement in 9/11. Predictably, the gov't is now defying the court order and refusing to allow Moussaoui the opportunity to interview these men, even though they know it's likely the case against ZM will get thrown out as a result. Why? Because they want to try him in a military tribunal anyway. The case has born only the slightest resemblance to an actual constitutional process since the beginning, so may as pull out all the stops now that things aren't going the way they'd initially hoped. National security and all. I love the idea of the Justice Department purposely bungling cases so they can hand them over to the military.

Did the Justice Dept. wait til 9/10 to announce their next move so everyone (like me) would feel bad criticizing the administration on 9/11? Stranger things have happened.

10-year-old girl OD's on Ecstasy

Account of the death of a 10 year-old English girl who took 5 ecstasy tablets and died. Apparently she found the pills hidden among some older friends' belongings: "She was OK, but then started saying stuff, like moaning, and being really stupid and asking everyone to pick her up and kiss her."

Britney's new album

Britney says her new album is "kind of trance-y." Watch out Sasha and Digweed! Britney's getting trance-y! Also, did you know Moby produced some of the album? He did.

New Jim Jarmusch

Rundown of the short conversations with famous people that make up Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. RZA, GZA, Steven Wright, Steve Buscemi, and Cate Blanchett are all featured. I saw one of the early shorts, Somewhere in California, a conversation between Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. It was like a combination of the Tom Waits and Jim Jarmusch "Fishing With John" episodes, and the fantastic Jarmusch rambling about cigarettes in Blue In the Face: "Coffee and cigarettes. That's like the breakfast of champions." Funny, but in a low-key, subtle way. -amy

Wondering about the Jarmusch/RZA connection? Don't forget RZA did the semi-amazing soundtrack to Ghost Dog. Two stories on this: (1) Jarmusch asked RZA to do the soundtrack. RZA did a bunch of intellectual stuff and played it for Jarmusch and Jarmusch was unmoved, saying it wasn't hard enough. RZA went back and made what became the soundtrack. (2) When RZA finished the soundtrack, and he called up Jarmusch and said "Be at the corner of [whatever] and [whatever] at 4 pm. A black Lincoln Navigator will pick you up. Get in it." So The Navigator picks up Jarmusch, and instead of going to some studio somewhere to listen to the music, RZA plays JJ the music right there in the Navigator because he had tricked out the sound system in the Navigator so much it was studio-quality. Story #1 is pretty true, Story #2 I'm not so sure about. -adm

September 9, 2003

TVwoP in the mainstream

Many of the articles in this MSNBC segment on new TV season are written by our old pals, the ladies from Television Without Pity. As Whiskas points out, strange to see them writing as legitimate commentators and not as bitchy fans. Lots of suggestions and spoilers for returning shows, including some news about 24.

Miscellaneous Links

Since the Link Factory is unreliable during our server problems, here's some stuff:

Leni Riefenstahl Dies

The wonderful, horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl has come to an end. Here's the Washington Post's obit. Don't forget the documentary made about her a while back.

Technical affairs update: Sorry for

Technical affairs update: Sorry for the continued delays on our server. Grr. The latest from our host:

I just talked to one of the people who was on call this weekend (who had yesterday off), and he mentioned that one of the database machines was acting a little weird over the weekend. While it appears to have been working fine yesterday, we're going to move some people off of it and onto a new machine today just to be safe. If you still notice problems after another day or two (when the moves are completed), please let us know as there may be a trickier problem at hand.
I just took the complicated scripting out of our pages, and that seems to fix the delays. The noticeable change to you, our faithful readers, is that there's no more "robot changes depending on who wrote the post" trickery. I think you can live with that for a few days.

September 8, 2003

Ashcroft Protest, TuesdayThe grapevine says:

Ashcroft Protest, Tuesday
The grapevine says: "Atty. Gen. Ashcroft will speak in a closed-door meeting to law enforcement personnel at Federal Hall, 26 Wall Street (across the street from NYSE), New York, NY on Tuesday, September 9. Gather at 12 noon at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets." More info.

A report on Silver Ring

A report on Silver Ring Thing and other Bush-supported teen abstinence programs that have gained tremendously in popularity. Teens who participate in such programs reported become sexually active over a year later than they would have without the program, but are less likely to use birth control once they do. As one participant says, "you don't realize it's wrong. It's like eating Pringles. Once you start, you can't stop."

Guardian profile of a "socialist

Guardian profile of a "socialist internet" built by an English scientist in Chile during Allende's administration called Project Cybersyn, that collected information from the entire country and synthesized it in Santiago.

When I heard the announcer

When I heard the announcer on 1010 WINS this morning begin saying "Singer/songwriter...." I knew what had happened. Warren Zevon, who was the kind of songwriter who doesn't seem to exist anymore, had died, giving in to the cancer we heard about a year ago. He approached death as he approached life -- with dignity, calm, awareness and a sense of humor.

I think I was in junior high when I first heard "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", and it taught me something about telling stories. Of his generation, maybe only Tom Waits is as adept at conjuring characters and settings. But Zevon's striaghtforward, emotional side was equally compelling: "Reconsider Me" captures the heartache of a ruined relationship with a directness and lack of sentimentality appropriate to an impossible situation. A bit ironically, the song appears on his brilliant record Sentimental Hygiene, which is so good, you almost assume it's a greatest hits album, except it hangs together so well.

One thing that I always think about when I think about Warren is his guest appearances on Letterman. He filled in for Paul S. while he was off shooting Blues Brothers, and I think Letterman was always surprised at how funny Warren was. I think Dave was expecting him to just sit there and play songs, but Warren would inevitably toss off an unsolicited joke or one-liner, and Dave would laugh before he even knew what happened. It's this creative energy that pervades his music, and makes him as memorable as the characters he wrote about.

September 7, 2003

Newsweek profiles Scarlett Johansson, once

Newsweek profiles Scarlett Johansson, once of Ghost World, now of Lost in Translation, of course. She's 18. She "wasn't crazy about" Virgin Suicides. She says "Um" in the Scarlet Johannson way that we love (we imagine). She went to (goes to?) Yale. She compares meeting Bill Murray to "meeting Cal Ripken or something", meaning it was a big deal to her. An unexpectedly vibrant picture accompanies the article.

MSNBC/Washington Post has the story

MSNBC/Washington Post has the story of a man twice convicted of raping a 9-year-old girl in Maryland. He was sent to death row and served 9 years of his sentence, only to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Freed in 1993, he recently learned of a new twist in the case: someone he knew in prison actually committed the crime.

Meanwhile, Florida (as was widely reported last week) has imposed a limit on how long a convict can wait before introducing DNA evidence -- we wouldn't want anyone to prove their innocence, I guess, since it would make executing them inconvenient.

September 6, 2003

Science has retracted a story

ectasyScience has retracted a story from last year that indicated Ecstasy caused nerve damage and could lead to Parkinson's. Here's why: turns out the researchers at Johns Hopkins had actually given the animal subjects methamphetamine, not Ecstasy. They say the pharmaceutical company mislabelled the bottles. Wow, maybe this will cause raves to be cool again.

September 5, 2003

One of the cattiest, most

One of the cattiest, most vituperative columns ever by good old Tom Shales in the Washington Post today about last night's football extravaganza on the Mall in our nation's capital, which basically was the VMA's Redux, but this time with the President. I caught only a few minutes of Bush's speech, but it was delivered with the same earnest doggedness that he uses when talking about Saddam Hussein, the fight against AIDS in Africa, subsidized farmers in California, and his golf swing ("We will find each one of these terrorists, and find them and bring them to justice,... now watch this putt.") I'm sorry I didn't watch to the end, missing his inspiring closing rhetoric: "Are you ready for some football?"

My favorite quote from the article is about Britney: "Spears just kept singing, singing, singing. Or rather syncing, syncing, syncing. But the feeling some of us at home were having would be better described as sinking, sinking, sinking."

Times review of Trumbo, a

Times review of Trumbo, a new play about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo written by his son, and starring Nathan Lane. Trumbo was branded as a Communist and was out of work for much of the 1950's (but still did uncredited writing), but later returned to have a successful career (Spartacus, Lonely Are the Brave) when times changed. Did anyone see the PBS American Masters special on Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, and blacklisting the other night? It's worth watching.

September 4, 2003

One of my favorite features

One of my favorite features of Fametracker is the Least Essential Films lineup, and the Fall edition is out. Worst sounding film is Radio, in which "Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as a retarded black man who teaches a crusty white football coach (Ed Harris) what's important in life. It's the Magical Black Man you enjoyed so much from The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Green Mile, except now he's retarded! That means he's 50% less threatening and 100% more endearing!"

After destroying Ibiza and many

After destroying Ibiza and many other beach destinations in Europe, drunk British men are now ruining Prague [nyt]. Cities like Dublin, not exactly known for teetotaling, are starting to discourage groups of British men from visiting. Article raises the question, If all these guys wanted to do was drink at an Irish pub, why not just stay home? "It's cheaper to come here than to go to Blackpool," said one visitor, "and nobody knows us here."

NYT reports on the ways

NYT reports on the ways that surburban town planning has caused obesity, depression, isolation, and many other health problems in Americans. Town planners are now realizing that with no sidewalks, walking is made impossible, making residents exclusively dependent on their cars. A demographer states, "If you look at San Francisco versus its suburbs, you find a pound or two pounds difference" in expected body weight. "If we all walked like New Yorkers, we'd all weigh a little bit less. But we're not going to weigh like New Yorkers until we all live like New Yorkers." Good enough for me.

I'm going to write something

delilloI'm going to write something about the upcoming New Yorker Festival in a few days (most interesting panel: "Wyclef Jean talks with Jeffrey Eugenides"), but in the meantime here's a bit of info I gleaned from the Barnes & Noble brochure for the event: Don DeLillo's novel White Noise has been adapted for the screen. Stephen Schiff (Lolita and -- ugh -- Deep End of the Ocean) wrote the screenplay. This effectively kills my long-time plan to shoot a page-by-page literal adaptation of the novel, a project that would have surpassed even Greed, von Stroheim's 9-hour-long adaptation of Frank Norris' McTeague.

This information also reminded me that when Don D's Underworld came out, big time producer Scott Rudin optioned it for $1 million, but I imagine that project is dormant, since (a) the book has no plot and (b) there's another movie called Underworld coming out in a couple weeks.* Probably the only person capable of directing DD's Underworld would be Wim Wenders, except I don't think he knows anything about baseball. Oh no wait: PT Anderson maybe could do it, except he already turned down the project.

*coincidentally, another movie called White Noise is also coming out in 2005 ("A man is contacted from beyond the grave by his murdered wife.")

US Senate to get Dan

US Senate to get Dan Quayle bust. Two sculptors died in the making. It was totally worth it, though.

Someone should make a documentary about this.

September 3, 2003

FBI says they've only seen

FBI says they've only seen a "necklace bomb" like the one in the pizza man robbery once before: in Colombia. In June 2000, terrorists (FARC) locked a woman named Elvia Cortes into the device -- which later blew up -- killing her and a bomb squad technician. The case became a high-profile source of anti-FARC sentiment. Interestingly, that device is described as having a homegrown sci-fi appearance -- lots of flashing lights and dials, just like the more recent bomb. Sounds like the creator of the pizza bomb device was a subcriber to Bomb Quarterly. Lots more from Google on the Elvia Cortes case.

Also, it's probably worth pointing out that this bomber seems to take the same kind of interest in his craftsmanship that Unabomber did, although UB was interested in sleek, organic packages, and this guy seems to like the sort of funky bells-and-whistles look.

John Sexton, the President of

John Sexton, the President of NYU, is moving to raise the quality of undergraduate teaching across the university [nyt]. He's already built up the Law School into the Top 5 nation-wide, and has made the Economics department a rival of Princeton and Stanford. One tactic he's taking is to persuade NYU's top graduate school professors to teach some undergrad classes. Adjunct professors currently teach a large majority of undergraduate classes, according to the adjuncts' union, and I can personally verify that over half of my graduate classes at NYU have been taught by adjuncts. Sexton apparently wants to sell this as an advantage, which could be a valid argument: adjuncts are often leaders in their professional field and have kept up with their industry, whereas full-time professors often get permanently stalled in the year in which they got their Ph.D, like one Contemporary Literature professor I know at a prestigious university who doesn't know who David Foster Wallace is.

Among the actors being considered

Among the actors being considered to play Batman in Christopher Nolan's upcoming movie are Christian Bale, Jake Gyllenhaal, and, wait for it, Joshua Jackson. Christian certainly has cultivated the dark anti-hero image with American Psycho, and we know he can get those abs back, but Jake and Joshua? Both seem too doughy and goofy, and too young.

Here's the San Francisco court

Here's the San Francisco court decision overturning those hundred death penalty cases. [pdf]

NYT coverage, Washington Post coverage, LAT coverage, SF Chronicle coverage. Where is NPR's coverage?

September 2, 2003

This is so incredibly terrible,

This is so incredibly terrible, I almost can't even stand it anymore:

ASHTON KUTCHER IS LATEST CONVERT TO KABBALAH. Make it stop! If this keeps up, God is going to personally come down here and kick everyone's ass.

Previous Amy's Robot entries on celebrity Kabbalah: Brittany Murphy signs up, Madonna and Missy Elliot settle dispute via Kabbalah, Madonna buys big house for study of Kabbalah. Oh yeah, and Guy Ritchie forced to rewrite script because it had too much Kabbalah in it.

When God finds out that Brittany and Ashton used to go out but aren't together anymore, and Ashton still wants to pursue Kabbalah, he is going to be really pissed.

McDonald's is launching its latest

mcdonaldsMcDonald's is launching its latest tagline: "I'm lovin' it." This slogan sucks. "Did somebody say McDonald's..." is better than that, and that sucked (although it did, somehow, cause some pleasure centers in my brain to fire off every time I heard it). At least it's better than "We love to see you smile" which was a colossal failure. Supposedly this campaign is global, so do they have to come up with a way to convey the casual enthusiasm of "lovin'" in potentially dozens of different languages? Not at all -- looks like they're just going to cram sloppy English down everybody's throat.

September 1, 2003

Bush's Declining Approval RatingsOur friend

Bush's Declining Approval Ratings

bush ratings
Our friend Rungu, an economist who's very busy and can't update his blog as often as we'd like, has prepared some great charts illustrating the decline in Bush's approval ratings over time (as measured by the Gallup polls). In fact, his approval ratings have been constantly trending downward since he was elected, except for large upward spikes just after 9/11 and the onset of the war with Iraq. So:Update: New poll from the Daily News seems to support this trend, with many NY'ers disapproving of W.

Runs country.Chokes on pretzel.Falls off


About September 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in September 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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