9.28.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Paul Newman, a Magnetic Titan of Hollywood, Is Dead at 83”

“If Marlon Brando and James Dean defined the defiant American male as a sullen rebel, Paul Newman recreated him as a likable renegade, a strikingly handsome figure of animal high spirits and blue-eyed candor whose magnetism was almost impossible to resist, whether the character was Hud, Cool Hand Luke or Butch Cassidy.”

2. “An Actor Whose Baby Blues Came in Shades of Gray”

“I don’t think Mr. Newman was ever as beautiful as he is in Hud. His lean, hard-muscled body seems to slash against the wide-screen landscape, evoking the oil derricks to come, and the black-and-white cinematography turns his famous baby blues an eerie shade of gray. The character would be a heartbreaker if he were interested in breaking hearts instead of making time with the bodies that come with them.”

3. “How We Value the Super-Rich”

“We can resent the enormous riches generated on Wall Street. At the same time, we can venerate other kinds of wealth – Silicon Valley’s, for example. It’s almost as if there are ‘good’ billionaires and ‘bad’ billionaires in the public consciousness.”

4. “Sound, but No Fury”

“Given the past week, the debate should have been a cinch for Obama. But, just as in the primaries, he willfully refuses to accept what debates are about. It’s not a lecture hall; it’s a joust. It’s not how cerebral you are. It’s how visceral you are. You need memorable, sharp, forceful and witty lines.”

5. “Chiefs’ Gonzalez Has Body of a Warrior, Mind of a Professor”

“Once voted the most handsome athlete in Kansas City in an informal radio poll, Gonzalez for many years hosted a popular seminar teaching football to women. And while he does enjoy a night on the town, most fans would probably be shocked at how many evenings he is quietly immersed in his books.”

6. “Cameras Roll, and Faith Hasn’t a Prayer”

“Because there’s nuclear weapons in the world and because there are suicide bombers and there are so many people who are anxious to get to that next world. They don’t look at the end of the world as a bad thing. That’s pretty scary. Until rationality is enshrined again and this magical thinking is marginalized, I’m a little nervous.”

7. “What My Copy Editor Taught Me”

“Helene had no literary theories – she had literary values. She valued clarity and transparency. She had nothing against style, if it didn’t distract from the material. Her blue pencil struck at redundancy, at confusion, at authorial vanity, at the wrong and the false word, at the unearned conclusion. She loved good writing, therefore she loved the reader: good writing did not cause the reader to stumble over meaning.”

8. “This Old Recyclable House”

“New construction consumes 60 percent of all materials used in the nation’s economy every year, excluding food and fuel. Few of those resources are renewable. Older homes are among the last repositories of old-growth timber, like heart pine or cypress, and keeping even the most mundane building materials in circulation at the end of a house’s life preserves their ‘embodied energy’ (the energy expended producing and shipping natural resources in the first place) instead of drawing new resources to replace them.”

9. “The Unbrand”

“Muji’s frill-free philosophy seems particularly on-target now that the design world is veering toward understatement and familiar shapes instead of the ‘forward-thinking’ (read: overdesigned) gizmos and doodads that we have gotten so used to lately. With a recession a reality and sustainability issues no longer just a concern of politically engaged homemakers in Northern California, a return to simplicity seems not only desirable but downright inescapable.”

10. “Only Connect”

“I am now using a Jitterbug, the mobile telephone that functions – shocker – solely as a telephone.”

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