6.27.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “Ac-shun! Now Brace for Impact”

“Good action is harder than it looks.”

2. “Golly, Beav, We’re Historic”

“There have perhaps been funnier sitcom scenes since, and certainly much louder, more frenetic ones. But has the craftsmanship — wonderfully believable brotherly chat as a foundation; sly incongruity laid on top — ever been bested? Doubtful.”

3. “In Documentary, Wall of Sound Meets Wall of Law”

“The film employs a greatest-hits collection of 21 Spector songs, played or performed in their entirety. And it does so without having obtained Mr. Spector’s written permission. Thus the film could become the latest flashpoint in the debate over what’s generally known as fair use, and copyright law. (Fair use refers to the right, under certain circumstances, like criticism, to use copyrighted material without permission. But the exact amount one can legally use remains a murky proposition.)”

4. “Surely It’s 30 (Don’t Call Me Shirley!)”

“The plentiful pop cultural references and anything-for-a-laugh attitude of Airplane! recalled early films by Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles) and Woody Allen (Bananas). But its velocity and density were new. Every scene was packed with surreal, often faintly metafictional sight gags (including a supporting turn by the N.B.A. giant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a co-pilot who denies that he’s really Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and a cameo by Ethel Merman playing a psychiatric patient who thinks he’s Ethel Merman). And the film proudly served up jokes so astoundingly corny that they somehow managed to circle around the bend and become hilarious. (‘Surely you can’t be serious.’ ‘I am serious — and don’t call me Shirley!’) At the same time Airplane! wasn’t just a collection of bits. The narrative hewed closely to that of Zero Hour!, and if you can factor out all the silliness — no small feat with a movie that segues from a Casablanca-inspired romantic flashback to a Saturday Night Fever-like dance number — what remains is a compact, even classical piece of filmmaking.”

5. “I’m Not a French Maid, I Just Play One on TV”

“For Ms. Munn, making peace with this past sometimes involves therapy, and sometimes it involves dressing up as fictional male lust objects like Princess Leia or Wonder Woman (as she does in photos in her memoir), simultaneously mocking and indulging fanboy fantasies.”

6. “The Idea Incubator Goes to Campus”

“The centers look like academic versions of business incubators.”

7. “Urban Lands of Opportunity”

“Over the past couple of decades, a new way of working and a new kind of workplace have evolved.”

8. “Roll-Up Computers and Their Kin”

“‘The paper book is dead,’ says the digital visionary Nicholas Negroponte.”

9. “Death by Gadget”

“An ugly paradox of the 21st century is that some of our elegant symbols of modernity — smartphones, laptops and digital cameras — are built from minerals that seem to be fueling mass slaughter and rape in Congo.”

10. “Are Cells the New Cigarettes?”

“Just as parents now tell their kids that, believe it or not, there was a time when nobody knew that cigarettes and tanning were bad for you, those kids may grow up to tell their kids that, believe it or not, there was a time when nobody knew how dangerous it was to hold your phone right next to your head and chat away for hours.”

11. “No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class”

“To what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?”

12. “The Mysteries of Tobias Wong”

“In 2007, the soft-spoken (and stage shy) Mr. Wong sent Mr. Chorpash, the professor and friend, to the podium at a design conference to give an entire presentation pretending to be him — never mind that Mr. Chorpash is tall and Caucasian — while Mr. Wong sat amid baffled audience members, wearing a devilish smile.”

13. “Turn Right, My Love”

“The origin of female voices in navigation devices dates back to World War II, when women’s voices were used in airplane cockpits because they stood out among the male aviators.”

14. “The Psychology of Bliss”

“In 2003, a German computer expert named Armin Meiwes advertised online for someone to kill and then eat. Incredibly, 200 people replied, and Meiwes chose a man named Bernd Brandes. One night, in Meiwes’s farmhouse, Brandes took some sleeping pills and drank some schnapps and was still awake when Meiwes cut off his penis, fried it in olive oil and offered him some to eat. Brandes then retreated to the bathtub, bleeding profusely. Meiwes stabbed him in the neck, chopped him up and stored him in the freezer. Over the next several weeks, he defrosted and sautéed 44 pounds of Brandes, eating him by candlelight with his best cutlery.”

15. “How HDTV Scrambles Beauty Standards”

“High def likes monochrome.”

16. “Where Do Gadgets Really Come From?”

“You might own a device made by Dell, Hewlett-Packard or Apple, for instance, but had you heard of Foxconn Technology before multiple suicides by workers became a big news story? Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen, China, with an estimated 400,000 employees, manufacture products for all three of those familiar tech names; the company has also reportedly made devices, equipment or components for Nintendo, Amazon, Cisco and others.”

One response to “6.27.2010 New York Times Digest

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