4.27.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Cover Story: The King of Visceral Design”

“What was remarkable then — and seems even more so now, when virtually every magazine cover is a thicket of text lines running behind or on top of one celebrity or another — is that the Lois covers were virtually textless. They achieved their effect by communicating a single idea through an image. Some were untouched photographs, but, in an era before Photoshop, some were created by the primitive technique of cutting and pasting, using photographs, clip art and sometimes hand-drawn elements.”

2. “Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt”

“Burt Flickinger, a longtime retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to ‘switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.’

“‘It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet,’ he said, ‘but it is certainly headed in that direction.’”

3. “Elite Korean Schools, Forging Ivy League Skills”

“Evening study hall begins at 7:45. She piles up textbooks on an adjoining desk, where they glare at her like a to-do list. Classmates sling backpacks over seats, prop a window open and start cramming. Three hours later, the floor is littered with empty juice cartons and water bottles. One girl has nodded out, head on desk. At 10:50 a tone sounds, and Ms. Kim heads for a bus that will wend its way through Seoul’s towering high-rise canyons to her home, south of the Han River.

“‘I feel proud that I’ve endured another day,’ she said.”

4. “The Race of Truth: 40-Yard Times Can Tell the Future”

“Based on an examination of the last 10 years of data from running backs at the combine, and comparing that to the same players’ subsequent N.F.L. statistics, it is clear the 40-yard dash does help predict whether a college running back will be an effective professional.”

5. “The Spirit of ‘68”

“More than any other art form, cinema captured the energy, the truth, of the times. To an extent rarely matched before or since, filmmakers did not simply record the upheavals and crises of the time; they were participants and catalysts. None more so than Mr. Godard. It seems apt that the Film Forum and Lincoln Center programs share La Chinoise, one of a flurry of films he began, completed or released in 1968, and one in which he indulges his fondness for epigrams and proverbs. One of his slogans proclaims that with vague ideas, we need clear images.”

6. “Material Woman, Restoring Her Brand”

“Alongside whatever she has offered her audience through the years — sex, glamour, dancing, defiance, blasphemy, spirituality — Madonna has never pretended to be anything but diligent. She’s disciplined, hard-working and determined to sell. For Madonna as a pop archetype, the truest pleasure isn’t momentary physical ecstasy or divine rapture but success. She labeled that impulse too in an early tour: ‘Blonde Ambition.’”

7. “Next on His Docket: A Supreme Challenge”

“Marshall is akin to Mr. Fishburne’s many mentor-teacher figure roles, among them Furious Styles in Boyz N the Hood and Morpheus in the Matrix movies. In these roles, through his poised demeanor and his precise, confident intonation, Mr. Fishburne exudes intelligence and moral authority.”

8. “Hard Lessons Learned in the Ring”

“All fighters are sad.”

9. “Public Radio Tries to Reignite Its Public”

“‘A lot of the research that guided public radio’s direction in the last 30 years focused on us discovering a niche we could serve and serve well,’ of highly educated, news-craving listeners, said Maxie Jackson, WNYC’s senior director for program development. But, he added, that formula ‘didn’t appeal to people of color.’ He called it an issue of tonality.”

10. “Dude! Like, Those Ads Live Forever”

“For viewers the advertisements have offered a comedic crash course in the evolving vernacular of the 21st-century American male. For their creators and the brewery behind them, the spots have provided a different lesson: that young consumers are using the Internet and other technologies to express the ways they want to receive (and even control) advertising, and it’s up to advertisers to hear this message.”

11. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Worries”

“The real boom in nude vacations is coming at the high end of the business, as upscale hotels and resorts, and even some luxury cruise lines, have begun to see the economic potential in the no-clothes crowd — particularly those who want to shed their clothes but not their pampered lifestyles.”

12. “A Literary Critic Drops His Ax and Picks Up His Pen”

“‘You have to be prepared to live on $20,000, which is not impossible, even in New York.’ (Mr. Gessen, who lives in Prospect Heights with two roommates, said he never earned more than $25,000 a year until he was 30.)”

13. “Mexican for the Soul”

“‘I like that they have a nod toward the metropolitan lifestyle, as opposed to Berlin’s more Bohemian lifestyle,’ he said as he passed around his cellphone, which displayed an image of his Parisian girlfriend in bed holding a tiny dog. ‘Paris has breakfast time and lunchtime, and disciplines like that. I find it helps the rhythm of life, and reflects what you do with your life. It has a little bit more momentum.’”

14. “From a Time Before BlackBerries”

“‘I love how it’s designed out of heavy steel but with great grace, like the Eiffel Tower. I can’t turn it at any angle where it doesn’t excite me.’”

15. “Let’s Say You Want to Date a Hog Farmer”

“The couple is among a growing number of people who have found love on dating sites that pair members based on a specific shared interest or background — sites like HorseandCountrySingles.com, Nerdsatheart.com, DateMyPet.com, STDmatch.net (for singles with sexually transmitted diseases), MatureSinglesOnly.com (for people over 50) and Veggielove.com.”

16. “When the Times Make the Man”

“[McCain] inhabits a more serious historic role, as the latest — and almost certainly the last — hope for Americans born in the 1930s to send one of their own to the White House. The 1900s, the 1910s, the 1920s and the 1940s have all been represented in the White House. But not the 1930s.

“It is the missing decade. A demographic blip? Perhaps. But it might also be that Americans born in the 1930s lack the particular qualities we look for in our national leaders.”

17. “BlackBerry’s Quest: Fend Off the iPhone”

“Since the iPhone went on sale last summer, amid long lines of shoppers and media adulation, the contours of the smartphone market have begun to shift rapidly toward consumers. An industry once characterized by brain-numbing acronyms and droning discussions about enterprise security is now defined by buzz around handset design, video games and mobile social networks.”

18. “Is Hollywood Warming to Its Favorite Villains?”

“Businesses and business people remain some of Hollywood’s most reliable villains. But the next crop of corporate heavies appears to have something attractive in its villainy. Perhaps that means a long-overdue acceptance by movie makers that at least some of those who pump oil, sell stock, run airlines and build our increasingly fuel-efficient cars are not completely without value.”

19. “The Catastrophist”

“For all of Amis’s testimonies about the transformative impact of Sept. 11 — which ‘will perhaps never be wholly assimilable,’ whatever that means — there is at least one way in which he has been thoroughly untouched by the atrocity: he is still busy with the glamorous pursuit of extraordinary sentences.”

20. “You’re an Author? Me Too!”

“But even as more people choose the phantasmagoria of the screen over the contemplative pleasures of the page, there’s a parallel phenomenon sweeping the country: collective graphomania.”

21. “Empowering by Disempowerment”

“That poster image she saw was one of many Demotivators created and sold by a company in Austin, Tex., called Despair Inc. It sells scores of posters satirizing the banalities of the motivation industry (including the inevitable cute cat clinging to something, although in this case it says: ‘Give up: At some point, hanging in there just makes you look like an even bigger loser’), along with calendars, T-shirts, a book and a clear coffee mug marked to show precisely when it’s half empty.”

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