8.10.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “‘Traffic,’ by Tom Vanderbilt: Slow-Moving Vehicle”

“We rarely seem to get anywhere fast at any time of day. One reason, Vanderbilt reports, is that people are driving to do things they once did at home or down the block. ‘It is not just that American households have more cars,’ he writes, “it is that they are finding new places to take them.’ They’re going someplace to eat. They’re driving to Whole Foods because they don’t like the produce at their neighborhood supermarket. They’re going out to get coffee. (So much of Starbucks’s revenue now comes from drive-through lanes that the company will put stores across the street from each other, sparing drivers ‘the agony of having to make a left turn during rush hour.’)”

2. “Singing! Dancing! Adapting! Stumbling!”

“Theater is a stylized medium. We know that the guys up there fighting with swords are not going to draw real blood, and we don’t flinch when purportedly real people burst spontaneously into song. The great musicals from the glory days of Hollywood — the Fred and Ginger movies, the Arthur Freed classics from MGM — likewise offered up frothier visions of contemporary life. They emerged during an era when movies gussied up reality for purposes of enhancing their escapist appeal.

“But since the 1960s film’s ability to capture the sights and sounds of the world more or less as they meet the eye and ear has been its signature aesthetic, at least for mainstream fare. The conventions of musical theater tend to assume a ludicrous aspect in this context; in life as we know it people do not communicate in song, trailed by a personal orchestra. (Those superhero movies are obviously pure fantasy, but they achieve their intense appeal by seeming to take place in a version of the real world.)”

3. “Brooklyn to Hollywood: That’s Some Subway Ride”

“In 2005 a car accident left him injured and his 1991 Lincoln Mark VII totaled. While he would need three months of physical therapy to deal with a bulging disc in his back, his obsession focused less on mending than on making some extra cash to buy a new car. Surfing the Web one day he came across a call for submissions in a screenwriting competition. The grand prize was $10,000. So he began to write the first scenes of what he called ‘kind of an epic’: the intertweaving stories of three police officers who have misplaced their moral compasses and grown to hate themselves a little along the way.”

4. “Spoof Within a Movie Within a Movie Within …”

“We were looking for something that somebody would do, that would be going a little bit too far. One of those things where you go, Is this right or is this wrong?”

5. “Returning in Her Favorite Role, Herself”

“In the first episode Ms. Cho, 39, appears naked except for a painted-on dress and a G-string. She also introduces her quirky entourage: Selene Luna, Ms. Cho’s 3-foot-10 assistant and enabler; a gay ‘glam squad’ in charge of the star’s makeup, wardrobe and hair; and her long-suffering parents, Seung Hoon and Young Hie Cho, who are given the rare opportunity to speak for themselves after years of being known only through their daughter’s merciless impersonations.”

6. “Once-Bright Eyes, Wide Open to a New Vista”

“‘I didn’t want to twiddle my thumbs and wait around,’ he said. ‘The way my life’s structured I don’t stay in a place for more than a couple months.’”

7. “True or False: Everyone Looks 10 Pounds Guiltier on TV”

“Even if he acted to pre-empt another wave of reports, Mr. Edwards didn’t need to put himself in front of a camera. Silence, or a written statement followed by a tactical retreat from public life, would have sufficed.”

8. “Cover Stories”

“Most authors have no control over their book covers … But some writers, by virtue of their renown or contractual caveat, not only get to accept or reject designs, but also choose the designer.”

9. “Kanye on Keyboards”

“Certainly no one was predicting that in 2007 a futuristic celebrity ringmaster like Kanye West would make online self-disclosure the rule and not the exception, creating a masterpiece blog, building an online gallery of art and design and showcasing it in a stunning Web site that would improbably cross memoir and mall.”

10. “AntiPod”

“Who is buying Zunes, and why?”

One response to “8.10.2008 New York Times Digest

  1. I know a few people who bought Zunes simply because they’re much, much cheaper than ipods.

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