6.22.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Pixar Gambles on a Robot in Love”

“Andrew Stanton, who wrote and directed the film, doesn’t care if the kiddies want to hug Wall-E or not when the movie comes out on Friday. ‘I never think about the audience,” he said. “If someone gives me a marketing report, I throw it away.’”

2. “The New Trophy Home, Small and Ecological”

“LEED — an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the hot designer label, and platinum is the badge of honor — the top classification given by the U.S. Green Building Council. ‘There’s kind of a green pride, like driving a Prius,’ said Brenden McEneaney, a green building adviser to the city of Santa Monica, adding, “It’s spreading all over the place.’”

3. “When the Comedy Is Lost in Translation”

“The worse news for Hollywood is that the new movies may be feeding a non-American tendency in once-dependable foreign markets like France and South Korea. ‘Pop culture used to be American pop culture,’ said Roger Smith, the executive editor and a motion picture analyst at Global Media Intelligence, a research company. ‘But the rest of the world is figuring out how to make pop culture of its own.’”

4. “Nothing Sells Like Celebrity”

“These days, it’s nearly impossible to surf the Internet, open a newspaper or magazine, or watch television without seeing a celebrity selling something, whether it’s umbrellas, soda, cars, phones, medications, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing or even mutual funds.”

5. “Waistlines Expand Into a Workplace Issue”

“Corporate leaders often speak out on issues that cost them tens of billions of dollars annually. Numerous executives have called for a plan for providing health insurance to the uninsured, for example. So why aren’t they making more noise about obesity?”

6. “The Carla Effect”

“‘Preceded by a sulfurous reputation,’ Le Journal du Dimanche reported, ‘Carla Bruni has improbably succeeded in a country so traditionally attached to conventions: in less than six months, the third wife of Sarko has conquered, after that of the President, the heart of the French: 68 percent of them, according to our JDD poll, appreciate their new first lady.’

7. “Tinkerer’s Toy”

“The Chumby is a fairly innocent-looking object resembling a clock radio, with a small touch screen and a leather-covered, padded exterior that feels like a beanbag. It costs $180, and it turns out that ‘alpha geeks,’ as Stephen Tomlin, the chief executive and founder of Chumby Industries, puts it, have been the primary target audience so far. What a Chumby does, basically, is display widgets — and your reaction to that shorthand explanation will situate you on the geek continuum. (‘What’s a widget?’ scores pretty low, for instance, but the answer is just two paragraphs away.)”

8. “Smoking, Drinking, Writing, Womanizing, Smoking, Drinking …”

“He smiled. ‘The big blunder was that Joan quoted Marshall McLuhan. He had a bunch of books out in 1960, but not the one where he said, “The medium is the message.” Unless she was in his class in Canada, she wouldn’t have known. He was probably using it already, but it was not in print.’”

9. “Does 8th-Grade Pomp Fit the Circumstance?”

“While some educators are grateful that notice is still being paid to academic achievement, others deride the festivities as overpraising what should be routine accomplishment. Some principals, school superintendents and legislators are trying to scale back the grandeur.”

10. “He’s Pregnant. You’re Speechless.”

“‘When there’s a lot of fascination around a figure like Thomas Beatie,’ said Judith Halberstam, a professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California, ‘it points to other changes already happening elsewhere in the culture.’”

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