12.27.2009 New York Times Digest

1. “All That Fosse: All Those Echoes of All That Jazz

“Released 30 years ago this month, All That Jazz set a new standard for speed and complexity, its structure boasting as many temporal pirouettes as the headiest art house fare. Yet the film never feels labored. It’s not homework. It’s showtime.”

2. “Passengers’ Quick Action Halted Attack”

“Despite the billions spent since 2001 on intelligence and counterterrorism programs, sophisticated airport scanners and elaborate watch lists, it was something simpler that averted disaster on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit: alert and courageous passengers and crew members.”

3. “Sorry, Shoppers, but Why Can’t Amazon Collect More Tax?”

“If Mr. Bezos wanted to do his part to avert layoffs of schoolteachers and firefighters and, yes, professors at state universities, he should start collecting the sales tax.”

4. “When Lady Gaga Appears, So Do Her Many Influences”

“Whether clad in a dress of plastic spheres, a monstrous Dutch Boy wig with full S & M leathers; bodysuits and stilettos and a cage that caused her to resemble a walking armillary, Lady Gaga made better use of modern media than almost anybody except the current leader of the free world.”

5. “Arthur Koestler, Man of Darkness”

“As a 27-year-old Communist he spent the famine winter of 1932-33 in Khar­kov, amid millions of starving Ukrainians. Rushing southward through France ahead of the invading Nazi armies in 1940, he ran into the philosopher Walter Benjamin, who shared with him half the morphine tablets Benjamin would use, weeks later, to commit suicide. The Harvard drug guru Timothy Leary gave Koestler psilocybin in the mid-1960s, and Margaret Thatcher solicited his advice in her 1979 election campaign. Simone de Beauvoir slept with him but came to hate him, and in a fictional portrait described a blazing intelligence and a personality capable of sweeping people off their feet.”

6. “Led Zeppelin, Gods of Rock on the Celestial Staircase”

“Notwithstanding their compositional deficits, Zeppelin has that elusive band chemistry, and so they make some more albums, which sell really shocking numbers of copies, tens of millions, and between albums they tour the United States a lot, and do really horrible, morally offensive things to young women who offer themselves up for delectation.”

7. “The Body Electric”

“The revolution is happening before our eyes, but we don’t recognize it, because it’s incremental.”

8. “Travis the Chimp: The Wild One”

“He was not Marat or Little Lord Fauntleroy or an artist; he was not a child or a son of human parents, an actor or even a perpetrator: he was a chimp.”

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