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Friday, September 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"My Uncle Thanassis is 81 years old. Over the course of his long life, he has weathered every Greek identity crisis since World War II: the bitterness that divided and impoverished the country after its bloody 1946-1949 civil war between communists and conservatives. The painful postwar years that sent his friends to Australia and the United States for work. The 1967-1974 military junta that smothered free expression and movement. The rise in the 1980s of the populist socialism pushed by former premier Andreas Papandreou, a mercurial, Harvard-educated economist. The good-time 1990s, when even the souvlaki-shop owners in Athens seemed to be making enough money to buy new Alfa Romeos and island vacation homes. The Europeanization of the last decade, when espresso freddos replaced the traditional sweet, grainy coffees in cafes -- and when a white-haired man who wore three-piece suits and liked dancing to wailing clarinet music seemed hopelessly out of place.Through it all, my uncle maintained that being Greek was a gift. 'Greeks make people feel good,' he used to say, his eyes twinkling. 'We show people how to live in the moment, to appreciate the scent of lemons and jasmine in the summer, to dance instead of cry when the stress of life gets to be too much. Whatever is wrong with this country, we always have that.' Not anymore." (ForeignPolicy)



"Let’s say Chris Christie decides to run for president – then what? It’s a question that has occurred to Christie and his circle of intimates — and they’ve begun sketching a plan in the case the governor goes forward with a run. They understand that all the enthusiasm and pleading in some Republican quarters for a Christie candidacy obscures the fact that the New Jersey governor would immediately have to scale the side of a steep and unforgiving political mountain. With the initial primary and caucus states poised to move up their contests to January, an October announcement means that Christie would immediately confront two questions of some urgency: where would he compete and how would he get on the ballot in an array of states coming in rapid succession. Those decisions have to be made and action needs to be taken while also handling myriad other demands — all of it on the fly. While Christie’s camp is staying mum, the governor is aware, according to top Republicans and donors, that the hour is growing late. He has to decide what to do within the week — and below are the issues he’d have to address." (Politico)



"The Metropolitan Opera opened its season with its eagerly awaited production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. I initially wondered if the almost-four-hour opera would be too long. It wasn’t. The only minutes I’m counting are the ones until I can see it again. Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano, sang the title role in the operatic melodrama about Henry VIII’s second wife. Ms. Netrebko was joined by Ekatrerina Gubanova (mezzo-soprano and a fellow Russian), Tamara Mumford (mezzo-soprano), Ildar Abdrazakov (also Russian), and tenor Stephen Costello in title roles. Marco Armiliato conducted, David McVicar directed, Robert Jones designed the sets, and Jenny Tiramani was responsible for the lavish costumes. We can thank Peter Gelb, the Met’s general Manager who has, for a long time, wanted to add this splendid opera to the repertory. And the Met can thank Mercedes Bass for underwriting the entire evening." (NYSocialDiary)



"The premium cable channels, HBO, Showtime, and Starz, make their livings by selling consumers on the idea that they can't get the sort of programming these channels offer anywhere else. Some of what consumers can't get anywhere else, the premium networks would loudly proclaim, are world-class dramas, more complex and risqué than anything else on TV. Something else consumers can't get anywhere else, the premium networks proclaim a smidge less loudly, are naked people. On premium cable, there will be boob, or at least ass — especially on the dramas. HBO's most recent series — Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire — didn't skimp on the nudity, and Showtime's upcoming terrorist drama Homeland and Starz's forthcoming Boss both, reliably, deliver breast in the first episode. On average, someone will be naked in the first episode of a premium cable drama in eighteen minutes and 36 seconds. To be fair, the king of the premium cable pack, HBO, actually shows more restraint than the other networks: On average, it takes 23 minutes and 33 seconds for someone to appear unclothed. On Showtime, it only takes 11 minutes and 28 seconds, while on Starz it takes 16 minutes and 44 seconds (if you don't count Boss, which waits a whole 40-minutes-plus to provide a long, lingering nipple close-up, Starz would win, usually providing nudity in 6 minutes, 19 seconds). Take a look at the complete, time-stamped list to see to see which shows and networks are most swiftly providing consumers with naked people for their buck." (NYMag)


"Here are some things I can tell you about Anna Chapman. Her hair is redder in real life than in photos, a brilliant Kodachrome blaze falling over her shoulders. I can tell you that she wore a cream-colored dress with a modest-length hem and a black sash belt. Chapman, 29, is also disarmingly attractive, not because of the dress or the hair, but because of the way she looks at you. Right in the eyes. Like she wants to, you know, connect. She may have done unremarkable work back in the U.S. as a spy for Russia, but the woman the Russian media calls Agent 90-60-90 (for her measurements, in centimeters) is, somehow, everywhere. It’s been a little over a year since her return, a year of centerfolds, talk shows, and political rallies. The media, largely controlled by the authorities, still reports each of her many moves. Clearly the Kremlin has found her a useful hero. Days after she was unmasked by the FBI along with nine other spies living as unassuming professionals in Boston, New York, and New Jersey and traded for four Russian prisoners on a tarmac in Vienna, Chapman received a hero’s welcome at the Kremlin. She and her fellow spies sang a patriotic song from the Soviet film Sword and Shield with Putin and, a few months later, were given medals by Medvedev. She was appointed to a high post in the ruling party’s youth brigades and was the subject of a fawning one-hour interview special on government-controlled Channel One. She attended an innovation forum led by Medvedev and showed up at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to cheer on a Russian rocket launch. Chapman was in Baikonur because she had been hired as an 'innovation consultant' by a little-known bank that specializes in financing Russia’s space industry and whose initials are, coincidentally, FSB, the same as those of the successor of the KGB." (Businessweek)

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