Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roshamon And The Mumbai Bombings

In this era of geopolitical pandemonium in-between American administrations (P.S.: Where is President Bush in all this. Is he still sipping "Pisco Sours"?), methinks that we will be experiencing more "Roshamon" moments. Is multiple perspectivism a function of the new multilateral world order? From the Foreign Policy blog:

"Some stories say that there were eight terrorists already waiting in the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels. The Times of India claims that all of the terrorists were Pakistani citizens, and that they had expected to make it back on the fishing trawler they hijacked. This was not a suicide mission.

"To give you an idea of how disparate the accounts can be, the Times names the skipper of this purloined vessel as Amarjit Singh, while The Hindu says his name was Balwant Tandel. Rediff says there were two fishing boats. The Times says the terrorists left from 'an isolated creek near Karachi,' while Rediff reports that 'Intelligence Bureau officials are trying to verify if the terrorists came in through the Persian Gulf.' Rediff also mentions that its information comes from the interrogation of 'Abu Ismail,' while according to the Times a terrorist named 'Ismail' was killed at Girgaum Chowpaty, a local beach."
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment who oversees the network’s television studio, said that he and the head of the diversity initiative for NBC Universal, Paula Madison, have been pushing for projects starring minorities. Mr. Silverman said, 'We were going after this regardless, but I don’t think you can deny the power that Barack Obama brings in magnifying this direction in our world.' He added, 'We’ve all been colorblind for years, but the results don’t necessarily match up to our intentions.'" (NYTimes)

"Americans are watching the extraordinary sight of two presidents working at once. As President George W. Bush limps through his final days in office, with the economy struggling and seemingly on the verge of collapse, we are greeted every day to roll-outs of President-elect Barack Obama’s new initiatives through another press conference and another policy proclamation. What’s more, there is evidence that the Bush and Obama people have been talking through these immediate decisions. The visibility of President-elect Obama is unprecedented in scale and scope." (TheDailyBeast)

"(John) Judis sees Obama's win as 'the culmination of a Democratic realignment that began in the 1990s, was delayed by September 11, and resumed with the 2006 election.' My own view since spring 2006, when I wrote an essay in The American Prospect touching on these matters,[4] has been that the era of conservative dominance is over, thanks to Iraq, the Katrina fiasco, Bush's failed Social Security privatization effort, and other factors, but that the collapse of conservatism did not perforce imply the rise of a new liberal age. That, I believed—and still believe, even after an Obama victory in which 46 percent voted Republican—would depend on what President Obama and the congressional Democrats did with their power. And here, for reasons both historical and contemporary, we must consider the question of realignment in light of the current financial crisis and the structural economic problems with which the new president must grapple." (Michael Tomasky/ NYRB)

".. (W)atching Hollywood hug itself in an orgy of self-congratulation has some real psychic benefit. Who among us will not enjoy the diversion of watching someone opening an envelope that contains something besides the ashes of your 401(k)? Besides, there is always a bull market in ego, and the movie business will be celebrating the 81st annual Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Kodak Theater with or without your consent ..It’s helpful to think of the Oscars as a horse race of human thoroughbreds, with backers wagering millions on the marketing of hopefuls, all fighting for the prestige and box-office boost that comes from appending 'nominated' laurels to their ads. Ultimately, however, when it comes to Academy Awards, there is best picture, and then there is everything else." (TheCarpetbagger)

"Tyler Perry has come to terms with the Writers Guild of America West on a contract covering scribes on his TBS comedy skeins 'House of Payne' and 'Meet the Browns.' Deal, announced Wednesday, came after five months of negotiations. The WGA West played hardball with the indie mogul in October, sending pickets to the opening of Perry's new studio facility in Atlanta." (Variety)

"The birthday of her long-serving PA Fiona Young last night proved the perfect foil for Miss Moss to go on one of her famous benders. The venue was the Miller's Academy of Arts and Science in Westbourne Grove, and she was joined by boyfriend Jamie Hince, Damon Albarn, Sadie Frost and Jefferson Hack. Kate, 34, looked a little worse for wear as the gang bowled out at 2am to head back to her place in St John's Wood for the afterparty." (Thisislondon)
Who Will Replace Hillary Clinton in The Senate?

Hillary and Congresswoman Gillibrand. (image via nytimes)

Around the web there is much chatter as to who will replace Senator Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate. All coy denials aside, Clinton will be part of President elect Barack Obama's national security entourage come Monday morning, as the Secretary of State designate.

The nominee to replace Clinton will probably be from upstate, as New York already has a Senior Senator -- Brooklyn's Chuck Schumer -- and a Governor -- Harlem's David Patterson -- from the city. Western New York clearly deserves some representation (it's only fair) giving even-money bets to either Congresswoman Gillebrand or "The Riverkeeper" Robert Kennedy, Jr. (who may or may not become head of the EPA). Some of the clutter around the web as to who might replace New York's Junior Senator:

"As a candidate to replace Hillary Clinton when she becomes secretary of state, Representative Kirsten Gillibrand is thought to be an attractive option because she represents an upstate district and would be the only woman to hold an elected statewide post. But the head of the New York chapter of the National Organization of Women said she would prefer a woman with a longer track record of advancing women's issues than Gillibrand, who was comfortably re-elected to her second term. 'I think Kirsten's a great person and a great Congresswoman, but I would prefer at this point to see someone who has sunk her teeth into women's issues and civil rights issues,' said Marcia Pappas." (PolitickerNy)

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Carolyn Maloney - who could become Sen. Maloney if and when Hillary Clinton becomes secretary of state - will talk about their recent books on women's empowerment at Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse Monday night. Journalist Lynn Sherr moderates." (PageSix)

"Several Democrats appear, with varying levels of intensity, to be positioning for the job: Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who's name I'm hearing a lot, although not from people close to Paterson; Buffalo Rep. Brian Higgins; Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. But there's a range of others: Reps. Nita Lowey, Jerry Nadler, Greg Meeks, Anthony Weiner, and Carolyn Maloney get mentioned. So do Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand's name also comes up, though her seat might be tough for Democrats to hold if she vacates it." (Politico)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Media-Whore d'Oeuvres

"The London fashion industry brought down the house at the British Fashion Awards last night. This is the UK's version of the CFDA's, and it was impossible not to recognize how important of a role British fashion plays in the world. With names like Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson Burberry and Jimmy Choo on the roster of nominees, who can deny the force that is the Brits. In attendance were bold-faced types like Claudia Schiffer, Roland Mouret, Christian Slater and Roisin Murphy, to name a few." (Papermag)

"Shortly after news of the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai broke yesterday, 'SAJA' launched a series of live webcasts on the horrific events. These special 90-minute reports will continue every 12 hours in the coming days, with the next report beginning Thursday, Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. New York City time. Journalists and experts in Mumbai and in the U.S. will join host Sree Sreenivasan for updates, struggling to make sense of the massacres. Sreenivasan, a professor of journalism at New York’s Columbia University and co-founder of the South Asian Journalists Association and technology reporter for WNBC-TV, is encouraging listeners with updates from Mumbai to call the show at (347)324-5991 and share information with the South Asian community, as well as with journalists worldwide." (Blogtalkradio)

"I have friends who gave up a good part of their day working in the overflowing dining halls and soup kitchen serving the Thanksgiving meal to those who would otherwise go without. For them each plate passed was a dish of gratitude. They not only made themselves useful, they made a difference in the lives of others. Thinking about this subject I was reminded of my friend Deborah Norville’s book called 'Thank You Power; Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You' which she published last year ..I got involved quite accidentally through a conversation Deborah and I had at Joan Rivers’ dinner table one night about a year ago. She told me she was writing a book on Gratitude. I was intrigued because I’m not aware of a book on the subject and it is a subject that runs through my consciousness, especially when something is troubling me to the point where I’m having a hard time dealing. I happened to tell her of a personal experience related to the application of Gratitude. She asked if she could use it. I agreed." (NYSocialDiary)

"Slight navel-gazing on a U.S. holiday: a good longish story from Andrew Sullivan in the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine. One of the earliest columnist/bloggers, Sullivan documents his own learnings in his blogging life, and the visceral appeal of the format." (Paidcontent)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reading all of these years ..

Ron, AKA The Corsair
The President-Elect is Smooth

(image via newsbusters)

President Barack Obama's interview with Barbara Walters is not unlike his charming interview with "60 Minutes'" Steve Kroft in that the banter is quick and smart and, well, cool. The President-elect is sort of plays the elder sibling role in the interview -- regardless of the interviewers age -- taking a pin to the pomposity of the reporters craft.

When was the last time we had a President that could dance so well with conversationally with Barbara Walters -- who may or may not have a thing for black men -- as well as the seasoned Kroft? From ABCNews:

"WALTERS: I have one final, very important question. I, Mrs. Obama, I sent you a picture of my dog, Cha Cha


"WALTERS: Who is a Havanese, and a very perfect dog, and…


"WALTERS: Cha Cha. Cha Cha is a dog, he's a Havanese, he's from Havana … real name is 'Cha-cha-cha.'

"BARACK OBAMA: Cha-cha-cha.

"WALTERS: Yeah. (overlap)

"BARACK OBAMA What is a Havanese?

"WALTERS: Oh, it's like a little … it's like a little terrier. And they're non-allergenic, and they're the sweetest dogs in the world.

"BARACK OBAMA: But, but it's a … it's like a little yappy dog.

"WALTERS: Yeah, you don't want (overlap)…

"MICHELLE OBAMA: Don't criticize.

"BARACK OBAMA: Yeah, it like sits in your lap and things?

"MICHELLE OBAMA: (Overlap) Yes, it's a cute dog. (Laughs)

"BARACK OBAMA: It sounds kind of like a … a girly dog."

That's it, Mr. President-elect; if she were a tree, she would be ash right about now. And we cannot fail to note that the aforementioned "Cha-Cha," Barbara once claimed talked to her (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment).

Now: while she's off balance, ask her what really happened between her and Richard Pryor.
Bush Has A "Pisco Sour"

(image via ANDINA/Carlos Lezama)

Granted, being a lame duck unilateralist President during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit cannot have been comfortable. And, normally, an "adult beverage" would be the logical thing to do in such a situation -- to take the edge off. But should the President, who has admitted to problems with alcohol, be imbibing? From Andina:

"Peru has successfully promoted its national drink 'Pisco Sour' during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit, Peru’s Environment Minister Antonio Brack said Sunday.

"He noted that the flagship drink of Peru was well acepted by international guests, including Japan's Prime Minister, Taro Aso.

"...U.S. President George W. Bush, who quit drinking at 40, was apparently drinking a Peruvian cocktail during a meeting on Saturday.

"Pisco Sour is a cocktail containing Pisco (a Peruvian brandy), lemon juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and regional bitters."

In defense of the outgoing President, Laura's ultimatum specifically drew the line at Jim Beam. "Pisco," we cannot fail to note, was not involved.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

(image via Victor Boyko/Courtesy of Russian Vogue via style)

"Never-ending blankets of snow delayed the start of Russian Vogue's tenth anniversary banquet on Thursday night by more than two and a half hours .. Billed as a 'recession chic' meal, dinner came without the delicacies that one expects in Moscow like quail and fish eggs. However, the bottles of Veuve Clicquot on every table didn't exactly say 'budget.' And neither did the live auction that followed. When 30 dolls designed by fashion designers hit the block, some fetched as much as 100,000 euros, with proceeds going to local orphanages. Billionaire businessman Vladislav Doronin dropped 30K on a doll designed by YSL's Stefano Pilati. It was a present for his girlfriend, Naomi Campbell, the current face of the fashion house." (Style)

(image via observer)

"The press corps has a new dean. David Broder is, of course, Dean Emerita, but the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet will probably be taking over the daily duties. What do those entail? The unofficial position is part institutional memory, part guardian of journalistic purity: the walking, talking conscience of the press corps, there to remind them that he's just a president. Sweet, already a well-regarded reporter and infamous for her acerbic personality, has been covering Obama for years and never really swooned for him as so many of her colleagues did." (TheDailyBeast)

"While its previous polls show an electoral shift in party identification towards the Democrats, the Pew Research Center says that there has not been the same shift in the ideology of voters. The numbers of voters who put themselves in the categories of liberal, moderate and conservative has changed little since the George Bush won his first term. At the outset of the Bush administration, 18 percent of voters said they were liberal, 38 percent called themselves moderate and 36 percent described themselves as conservative. The numbers now are 21 percent, 36 percent and 38 percent respectively. There is more ideological unity among Republicans with 68 percent saying they are conservative, while among Democrats 34 percent say they are liberal and 37 percent say they are moderate." (CQPOlitics)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Updike Wins Bad Sex In Fiction, Lifetime Award

We kind of love John Updike. He looks so unabashedly joyous on the book jacket author's photo, like he cannot believe he is writing for The New Yorker -- me, a kid from the Pennsylvania suburbs! Clearly he is an amazing writer. Updike's essays and book reviews are breathtaking in their scope, which includes: biology, religious philosophy, poetry, world literature, the graphic arts ... And Updike's vocabulary is just unreal; even a sour lexicographical pedant like John Simon concedes Updike's intellectual supremacy. John Updike is a true American original.

The subjects of Updike's fiction, though -- polymorphously perverse suburban couples, often aging -- seem to shrink before the horizon of his talents. But those are our issues that we bring to the table. We love his sparkling, vivid prose but have always had a problem with the settings (University towns, the exurbs, auto dealerships in Pennsylvania).

But Updike is stylistically the heir to Nabokov, although their subject matter is vastly different (except, perhaps at the erotic nexus point that is Lolita). Even at his worst he is magnificent in his breadth. And if anyone can make a suburban car dealership bound, rabbit-like, into The Corsair's urban/urbane consciousness, it is Updike.

But, admittedly, we are having some trouble getting through his "The Widows of Eastwick," the sequel to the triumphant Witches -- again because of the subjects he works his magic upon. Imagining bodies coinciding that are less than taut and nubile is, uhm, a difficult cognitive leap.

And someone else thinks so, only a lot more intensely. From Bloomberg:

"John Updike’s sex scenes -- including a romp with a 'Widows of Eastwick' witch in a beachside motel room -- won a Lifetime Achievement Award at Britain’s ever- anxiously awaited Bad Sex in Fiction Awards.

"... Previously won by Tom Wolfe, Sebastian Faulks and Norman Mailer, the contest seeks to dishonor the author of the year’s worst sex scene. London’s monthly Literary Review inaugurated the prize in 1993 'to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.'

"The judges cited Updike for his 'unique achievement' after his latest novel, 'The Widows of Eastwick,' garnered a fourth consecutive nomination for the prize.

"'Good Sex or Bad Sex, he has kept us entertained for many years,' the judges said in a statement, quoting from a passage so redolent in lips, rubbing and 'deep throbs' that we blush to reproduce it here."
Mickey Rourke: Two Hundred Bucks Will Last You At McDonald's

If Mickey Rourke wins the Best Actor Oscar for Darren Aronofsky's festi-buzzy The Wrestler, it will be the ultimate Hollywood comeback story. And we're a sucker for a good redemption tale, it's so American. Rourke's been at the top when he was Prince of Greenwich Village, and he's been at rock bottom. This recent interview with Entertainment Weekly shows just how far down rock bottom is on the Hollywood food chain:

"When Rourke chose to give up boxing in 1995 rather than run the risk of suffering permanent brain damage, he found himself back at the bottom. His pricey house had been repossessed, his marriage was in ashes, and his movie prospects were bleaker than ever. He'd gone from costarring with De Niro to sharing the screen with the likes of Dennis Rodman and Jean-Claude Van Damme. By the end of the '90s, Rourke even had to sell off his motorcycles, one by one. 'Every time I would go broke, I would sell another motorcycle to get me by for about six months,' he says. 'And then I got down to one motorcycle, and I called a friend at a construction company and I said, 'Can you get me a job out in the Valley where people won't know me? He thought I was kidding and hung up the phone. I couldn't even get that!' For the past few years, Rourke says that he even relied on handouts from friends, including one who gave him $200 a week so he could eat. 'Two hundred bucks will last you at McDonald's,' he says."

We wish Rourke the best of luck in his Oscar-worthy quest. More here.

(image via darrenaronofsky.blogspot)
Graydon Carter: The Vanity Fair Oscar Party Will Be "A Cozier, More Understated Event"

Graydon and Madonna trip the light fantastic. (image via mediabistro)

Last year, because of the Writer's Strike, there was no Vanity Fair Oscar party (the big daddy of Oscar parties); this year, because of the financial collapse, it will be scaled down -- intimate -- to keep in good taste with the times. Editor Graydon Carter announced this morning that Vanity Fair is holding their annual, legendary Oscar Night party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on February 22, 2009. "The party will be a much more intimate affair than in years past; we’re going to scale back the guest list considerably," Carter says.

Simultaneous Translator: Don't event think of crashing this motherfucker.

"We’ll celebrate Hollywood’s big night the way we did when we first threw the party 15 years ago—it will be a cozier, more understated event. And one with familiar decor—given the current economy, and our dedication to the green movement, we will be recycling many of the elements of years past."

So we guess Pam Anderson and Liz Hurley's invitations will conveniently be lost come February? From Toby Young:

"The party ... serves to brand the magazine as a sexy, glamorous product; it links it in the public's mind with everything that's desirable about Hollywood. Of course, it helps if something scandalous happens at the party and there are usually one or two celebs happy to oblige. In 2001 Elizabeth Hurley and Pamela Anderson started making out in full view of the other guests. Rather surprisingly, neither was invited the following year."

Pam and Liz, tarting it up at the 2001 VF Oscar Party via

Press release here.
Kate Moss Has A Weird Night

Kate, Jame (left) and red, red wine. (image via thisisshowbiz)

Kate Moss, internationally famous as the model who wore "poom-poom" shorts to her blowcaine media beheading, had an odd evening at the Christmas launch of her pal Stella McCartney's Mayfair store in London. Moss showed up with her boyfriend Jamie Hince of The Kills at a party which included Stella, Sir Paul and his American girlfriend, Nancy Shevell. Let's take it from there. From Thisisshowbiz:

"Kate and Jamie were at the switching on of the Christmas lights at the Stella McCartney store in Mayfair. At 9.30pm, the gang made their way to Shoreditch House, where Sam Sparrow was performing at the Pepsi Maxcast evening with Sound Tribe Live.

"Kate, 34, was pretty well refreshed after several glasses of red wine and got into a bizarre argument with two gents as she waited for a lift home.

"Our spy said: 'She turned to a man who had just walked in and drunkenly said, You just grabbed my bum, you weirdo'."

Here's where things get odd (or odder). Her "bum" -- or, as Johnny Depp famously called it "a highwater booty" -- was not actually touched; witness:

"The guy, who had not been within reaching distance of Kate, looked shocked and didn't know what to say. At that point a second guy tried to calm things but Kate flew into a rage and shouted, I'm going to get you done for harassment'."

"Kate then weirdly told one of them: 'I'm going to get you felt up later tonight.' When you're an international model, you can clearly call on 'people' to feel others up at will.

"Stella (McCartney) walked past the fracas — but chose to ignore it and walked off, leaving Kate to argue. Maybe she had seen the fur after all.

"It was all downhill for Kate — when her phone ran out of batteries, the multi-millionairess offered several people 50p to let her use their phone."

What was in that red wine? More here.
Oh, Can She?

(image via standardatl)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"ALEX Rodriguez has his priorities - and they are not his children. The Yankee slugger, who ditched his wife of six years, Cynthia, after becoming besotted with Madonna, is a 'soul-less' man who is 'abandoning' his kids on Thanksgiving for his lover, according to what Cynthia is telling friends. 'Access Hollywood' reports that Cynthia, who's in the final stages of her divorce from A-Rod, wrote an e-mail to a confidant noting: 'My 6-foot-3, 220-pound soul-less, soon-to-be ex-husband is abandoning his kids on Thanksgiving to be with Madonna . . . She called and he ran on her command back to New York City . . . Gross!'" (PageSix)

"Speaking before Clinton arrived at the Plaza for an awards ceremony for a Randall's Island sports foundation on the evening of Nov 24, (NYC Mayor Michael) Bloomberg told the crowd of wealthy donors and prominent New Yorkers, 'I assume she is going to be secretary of state. It has not been officially announced I gather, so we can't presume. But let's assume for the sake of argument that Hillary Clinton is the next secretary of state. I think she is going to be a wonderful secretary of state. I've had the luck of working with her for the last seven years and there has never been a senator that I've ever met -- with the possible equal exception of Chuck Schumer -- Hillary has always been there for the state even when she was campaigning for president, when I needed something for the state' .. When Clinton spoke later in the evening she talked about 'hot spots' and African countries, but only to say that her friend and donor, Susan Patricof, to whom she was presenting an award, had visited such places in the course of her charitable activities." (Observer)

"Many of the Republicans emerging as potential members of the Obama administration have professional and ideological ties to Brent Scowcroft, a former national-security adviser turned public critic of the Bush White House. Mr. Scowcroft spoke by phone with President-elect Barack Obama last week, the latest in a months-long series of conversations between the two men about defense and foreign-policy issues, according to people familiar with the discussions. The relationship between the president-elect and the Republican heavyweight suggests that Mr. Scowcroft's views, which place a premium on an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, might hold sway in the Obama White House. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was deputy national-security adviser under Mr. Scowcroft in the George H.W. Bush administration, is almost certain to be retained by Mr. Obama, according to aides to the president-elect. Richard Haass, a Scowcroft protégé and former State Department official, could be tapped for a senior National Security Council, State Department or intelligence position. Mr. Haass currently runs the Council on Foreign Relations." (WSJ)

(Irina Pantaeva and Roland Levin via gawker)

"Well-liked Siberian model Irina Pantaeva is heading for splitsville with her longtime discoverer/husband, Roland Levin." (Musto)

"Ted Kaufman, a Democrat and a long-time adviser to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., has been tapped to fill his former boss’s soon-to-be-vacated seat in the Senate — an interim appointment that appears made with an eye toward a 2010 Senate bid by the incumbent’s son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat, announcement her pick of Kaufman on Monday." (CQPolitics)

(Harriet Mays Powell, Teri Agins, and Linda O'Keefe via JH/nysocialdiary)

"I went to lunch at Tiffany. Longtime readers know this is the closest thing to a holiday commercial tradition that exists in New York .. It has a certain air about it. Very relaxed and comfortable, mind you. But luxurious too ..This luncheon is for the fashion media – the people who write about Tiffany. The magazines, some television, this reporter. Wendy Moonan and Guy Trebay were there from the Times. Pamela Fiori from Town & Country, Amy Fine Collins from Vanity Fair and Virginia White from Vogue, James Reginato from W, Teri Agins from the Wall Street Journal; Dana Cowin from Food & Wine, Sophia Chabbot from WWD, Liz Smith of and her syndicated column, Hal Rubenstein of InStyle, Cricket Burns from Quest, Marian Etoile Watson from Fox-TV, Jill Newman from RobbReport." (NYSocialDiary)

"A few familiar faces popped into The Oak Room at The Plaza for a Pre-Thanksgiving Sunday Brunch .. Martha Stewart was free from her busy schedule of center pieces and cupcakes to stop by for a mimosa and a snack. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s safe to say that Martha had tons to chat about with the other guests including Katie Lee Joel, Vera Wang, Tori Burch, Celerie Kemble, Lauren and Joey Allaham, Carol McFadden, Dennis Paul, and John Stossel." (Guestofaguest)

"Socialite Rank—the menacing website that stacked socialites against each other in a controversial weekly rating system—closed for business. A month or so later, after much speculation and finger-pointing, its founders were exposed to be nearly identical Russian step-siblings Olga Rei and Valentine Uhovski (sometimes called Valentine Rei) , who were both 23 at the time. Immediately after the site shut down, the duo, who identified themselves as former child stars in Russia, talked about making their clever social experiment into a book. They planned to call it The Year of The Rank; a documentary was rumored." (Observer)

"Sir Paul McCartney has thrown some cold water on hopes that Beatles’ recordings would finally make it to iTunes, saying that negotiations with Apple Inc. have stalled, AP reported. As has happened many times before, fans of the band’s music thought they might finally be ready for the digital age last month." (Paidcontent)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Picture Pages, Picture Pages ..

Will someone please tell Flavor Flav that he doesn't have to act like that, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863? (image via gossiponthis)

Cave In. Verb. 1. to collapse inwards. 2. Informal to yield completely under pressure. (image via thecobrasnake)

Voted by her graduating class as most likely to suck seed. (image via thecobrasnake)

Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison, never fails in unintentionally "bringing the creepy." (image via tvnewser)

We recommend a robust multivitamin, fried plantain and some arroz con pollo for good measure. (image via thecobrasnake)
A Little Of The Old In And Out

(image via bloomberg)

In: Tim Geithner. Clearly President-elect Barack Obama, with the appointment of Senator Clinton all but likely, will put most of his intellectual efforts towards the economy -- at least in the beginning of his administration. Tim Geithner, slated to take over at treasury, will be in the center of the storm, in the thick of the action.

How a Treasury Secretary Geithner reacts to China and the events unfolding in Asia are worthy of note. James Fallows of The Atlantic posts an email he received from Beijing-based Bill Bikales, the senior economist for China/Mongolia with the UN Development program, on the Asia angle of Tim Geithner's expertise:

".. Tim apparently also studied Chinese, was posted in Tokyo for Treasury, and focused on Asia studies as undergraduate and graduate student. This is all great background for Treasury's international dealings in the coming years.

"Second, he was head of the IMF's Policy and Development Review Department (PDR) for two years. PDR are the people there who provide the intellectual framework for, and monitor and sign off on the work that the country missions do. Some of the best people I ever dealt with at the Fund. I like this because I've thought more than once in recent years that what the US needs to do is take a step back and look at itself just as the IMF looked at, say, Argentina, during those years, and develop a tough IMF program; get your fiscal act in order, get serious about risks in the financial sector, establish external sustainability."

More here.

Out: The Gulf Of Aden. The riotous anarchy that is the Gulf of Aden is, while vaguely romantic, quite dangerous. This blog is called The Corsair -- an antique term for a pirate -- but we cannot condone theft of property, kidnapping and the blackmail of innocent parties no matter how fucked up the situation on Somalia is and how much blame the European powers have for the present pandemonium. From the AP:

"NATO, the U.S. Navy and other militaries say it isn't as easy as sighting a pirate speedboat and intercepting it.

"They say their radar does spot pirates on the prowl and they alert crews of threatened ships. But the vast stretch of the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden is simply too large. Warships cannot escort every ship and cannot always get to an attack scene in time.

"Their focus has been the Gulf of Aden, between Somalia and Yemen, where 20,000 merchant ships a year pass on the way in and out of the Suez Canal, the quickest route from Asia to Europe and the Americas. Three NATO and Russian vessels and up to 15 other warships from a multinational force are patrolling there, along with an unannounced number of U.S. Navy ships.

"They have carved out a protected corridor through the Gulf of Aden, and last week the NATO ships engaged in a firefight with pirates attempting to hijack a Danish ship. Still, on Tuesday, pirates succeeded in seizing a Hong Kong cargo ship carrying wheat to Iran.

"The capture of the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star opened up an entirely new front farther out in the Indian Ocean — nearly as far from the Gulf of Aden as Paris is from Moscow. It signaled a threat to another key route, one that rounds Africa's southern tip and is used by vessels too large to traverse the Suez Canal with full cargos."

Is there any doubt that an age of International Law is not too far on the horizon? More here.

In: Christiane Amanpour. Sure, Amanpour is probably a bit disappointed that her husband's loyalty to The Clintons will probably keep the dashing Jamie Rubin from becoming the United States Ambassador to the United Nations -- a role he was born to play -- but she is not doing so bad herself.

Amanpour, the smartest roving international journalist, is getting her own daily show to compete in-house with Fareed Zakaria's magnificent (but weekly) GPS. From the NYTimes:

"Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, said: 'Our thinking was we wanted a big, the biggest, name to hub our international prime time, and when it comes to global international superstars that list pretty much begins and ends with Christiane Amanpour.'

"Ms. Amanpour’s program will go after big interviews but also include reporting and round- table discussions, he said. It will begin in the second quarter of 2009, joining several other new programs that the network — which reaches about 240 million households worldwide — has already started to show in the noon to 6 p.m. Eastern time period, which is prime time for much of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. 'BackStory,' with Michael Holmes as anchor, began in October; other programs, planned for early 2009, are in the pilot phase."

We look forward to that. And, as TVNewser notes, Amanpour was recently honored.
Dick Morris Is Still Obsessed With The Clintons

It does not speak well for Dick Morris' mental health that he is still pathologically obsessed with Bill and Hillary Clinton. As you no doubt remember, Morris was unceremoniously ejected from his position as an advisor to President Clinton hours before he delivered his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1996. Though Clinton and Morris had a volatile relationship (they almost came to blows, once), they were politically successful -- the Punch and Judy of the Oval Office, so to speak.

Then Dick romped with a hooker. Though brilliant in the realm of Machiavellian politics -- Morris created Triangulation, the strategy of bringing into confluence specific policy prescriptions that Clinton and then-Majority Leader Trent Lott believed in -- the hooker thing was the last straw.

Fast forward a decade. Morris' brilliance has once again resurfaced (as well it should), and his sins have been forgiven by the Right (which, in Republican politics, is better than a pardon from God). How far the mighty have fallen! Once a classy Rockefeller Republican with a first rate intellect and solid professional reputation, Morris presently serves as Sean Hannity's feral pet, dishing on all things Clinton for the consumption of the ultra-right wing waterheads. And yet even after President Clinton has moved off the national stage, veered onto the international arena (in, admittedly, sometimes shady ways), Morris' blood feud with the Clintons -- now embodied in his animus towards Hillary -- continues. Every week a new "column" by Dick Morris, invariably on Hillary Clinton, arrives in The Corsair's inbox.

It's sick, psychotic stuff, people. It is probably typed out sweatily, at bacterial velocity at a fevered pitch and sent to emails across the fruited plains with a cracked laugh. From today's email:

"It is still hard to believe but, if Hillary Clinton's 'confidantes' are to be trusted, Barack Obama is about to appoint her secretary of state and she is about to accept. This appointment represents the capstone of betrayal of Obama's promise to be the 'change we can believe in.'

"Having upended the Democratic Party, largely over his different views on foreign policy and the war in Iraq, he now turns to the leader of the ancient regime he ousted, derided, mocked and criticized to take over the top international-affairs position in his administration.

"No longer, apparently, does he distrust Hillary's 'judgment,' as he did during the debates when he denounced her vote on the Iraq War resolution. Now, all is forgiven. After all, Obama's election, the only change he apparently truly believed in, is a fait accompli.

"Apart from the breathtaking cynicism of the appointment lies the total lack of foreign-policy experience in the new partnership. Neither Clinton nor Obama has spent five minutes conducting any aspect of foreign policy in the past. Neither has ever negotiated anything or dealt with diplomatic issues. It is the blonde leading the blind."

Oh, desist, Dick Morris: desist!
Friedman: Bush Should Bring In Geithner As Treasury Secretary

(image via nebraskahumanities)

Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Op-Ed columnist Thomas Friedman was on the Brian Lehrer show on NPR this morning. He struck his usual interesting themes -- the next President will be managing weakness, not strength; "gonna need a bigger boat"; don't eat at restaurants, stay at home eating tuna -- but focused in on the peril faced in the interregnum between the present President and the inauguration January 20th of Barack Obama. "This financial crisis is coinciding with a political vacuum ..."

As a part of the solution, Friedman suggested (echoing his column yesterday, but said more forcefully this morning), "Have Bush bring (Obama's Treasury Secretary pick Timothy) Geithner in and then you have a formal liaison between the two teams."

Did Stephen Colbert Jump The Shark?

"My, What big shoes you have." The better to jump the shark! (image via nydailynews)

Okay, we get that Stephen Colbert's Holiday Special exists in a realm of irony meant to spoof cheesy, homespun holiday specials based in log cabins smelling of mulled cider with windows fogged beast baking in the old-style oven. We get that. But a Walton's vibe, a John denver vibe, does not a memorable holiday classic make. And we also get that John Legend's spicy nutmeg riff (see below) was mildly amusing, as were those loving -- though perhaps overdone -- close-ups lingering over the holiday rack. We cannot fail to note, though, that Legend wore his sunglasses throughout his performance -- suggesting a certain anonymity with regards to his participation in this .. project (aka: appearance fee collection spot):

But the show kind of seriously sucked, and if you have any sense of taste you will have to agree with me here.

And, worse, the sheer lack of effort -- and constant *ironic* shilling of the DVD ($12.99!)-- made the whole show seem more like a poorly executed plan devised to part the viewer from his or her cold-hard holiday bonus cash than any actual content. The special just fell flat. In fact, we would hazard to guess that there was little -- if no -- actual script (aside from the clearly dubbed musical numbers) to the damn thing. The "special" seemed almost entirely improvisational, calculated only to eat up as much time as possible so as to reach, exhausted, that 22-minute finish line where everyone could fetch their robust appearance fees and, reinvigorated, briskly sprint away from the unholy stink.

Even Jon Stewart, who made an appearance (how much did they pay him) in defense of Hanukkah, looked as unhappy to be there as Tina Fey did during those last Sarah Palin appearances where she had to look backwards to SNL ("I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5, so if anyone could help me be done playing her on Nov. 5, that would be good for me”).

With the exception of Legend and, maybe, Feist, it wasn't memorable. Bah humbug!

Entertainment Weekly, the once-great weekly, continuing on its downward spiral, loved the special. Actually so many media outlets "loved" this show that one wonders if we have all fallen into a vortex of unquestioning Colbert-Stewart love, unable to distinguish the comedic wheat from the chaff.

Have they no shame?

Come on, admit it, it sucked (and not in an ironic way)...

sell those DVDs! (image via amazon)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

New York's #1 Escort. Who says the city has lost it's competitive edge? (image via amazon)

"Natalie McLennan, who used to make $2,000 an hour working under the name Natalia, plays coy in her new memoir about her supposed acquaintances with rockers Lenny Kravitz, Fred Durst and photographer Peter Beard .. McLennan admits that she and (Spitzer hooker Ashley) Dupre were unsuccessful getting Nas into bed, though they did get the rapper back to Itzler's loft to party." (RushMolloy)

"Hijackings by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden region have leaped this year, with more than 581 crew members taken hostage from January to September, compared with 172 in all of 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Before the Sirius Star incident, ransom demands had hovered between $500,000 and $2 million, up from tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars 'in recent years,' said Chatham House, the London-based international affairs group, in a report last month. The increasing income does more than just make the pirates more brazen. The more ransom they receive, the more sophisticated their operations become, said Will Geddes, managing director of ICP Group, a London-based security company. Geddes estimates Somali pirates may have accumulated $100 million in ransom since the 1990s, booty that will make their attacks more effective. 'These boys can buy some fast, powerful boats, which can get them out quickly and easily into the channel,' he said." (Bloomberg)

"MADONNA ordered staff to compile a damning DOSSIER on Guy Ritchie’s 'boozing and sexist behaviour' to get a low-key quickie divorce, we can reveal. She told close friends: 'I’m going to BURY him.' Then she handed pages of neatly typed 'evidence' to lawyers .. “Madonna was angry because she felt Guy had welshed on the deal that they would keep the happily married image going until the end of her current tour. 'So she became determined to paint him as a drunken, lewd sexist.' Madonna, 50—angered by his lads’ nights out—roped in her workers to help. The source said: “She got staff to keep a record of every time he was out late or made an off-colour comment. It was bizarre as he’s not a heavy drinker or abusive. He doesn’t drink any more than the next man. 'But she was trying to show he’d be a bad influence on the kids, which is rubbish. Guy’s a devoted dad and the kids adore him.'" (Newsoftheoworld)

(image via nyscoialdiary)

"Last Thursday night, the American Museum of Natural History held their annual benefit with more than 500 guests attending the dinner and a performance by Jon Bon Jovi in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. There was an auction, as there is an auction at any benefit going these days. Although this one was conducted by Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News (announcing the items to be sold) along with Jamie Niven, executive Vice President of Sotheby’s actually conducting the sale .. Mr. Niven, however, more than met the challenge on Thursday night, selling packages like visits to the set of Saturday Night Live, and an SNL after party (the whole cast had a table there) and Late Night with Conan O’Brien (he was there too) with so much enthusiasm he sold some things twice and three times and raised an additional hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause. And everybody loved it." (NYSocialDiary)

"The cast of Saturday Night Live joined Lorne Michaels, Brian Williams, Mayor Bloomberg, and Conan O'Brien at the American Museum of Natural History's annual gala on Thursday night. After cocktails in the Roosevelt Rotunda, guests made their way to the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for dinner and a performance by a squeaky clean Jon Bon Jovi, his once voluminous locks now a bit of, well, natural history. Upping the youth factor in a room full of dinosaurs (what? we're just talking about the exhibits), Amy Poehler glowed in white Zac Posen with a killer neckline, while Kristen Wiig opted for a smart navy blue Moschino. Kenan Thompson, sporting a pair of black shades, weighed the merits of the evening's auction items, which included an exclusive tour of the Big Bone Room — and no, the comic wasn't about to let that one go by without comment. 'Is that where everybody's boning?' he wondered. 'That's where I want to go.'" (Style)

"Fans of Brooklyn native and gifted soulster, Maxwell, literally lost their marbles this fall with the announcement of his long awaited tour, Maxwell Live ‘08. Concert-goers packed into venues across the country selling out more than half of the tour after waiting six long years for the singer and his mic to return to the stage. Sunday night he celebrated the tour’s end in New York at the Bowery Hotel with friends including Megan Carlotsi, Steven Hill, Sarah Tressler, and funny guys Anthony Anderson and Cedric the Entertainer." (Guestofaguest)

"In her 25 years at CNN, Christiane Amanpour has hopscotched the world, the very model of a foreign correspondent, turning up at seemingly every war, genocide, famine and natural disaster, slipping through previously closed borders and interviewing even the most recalcitrant. That will change next year, when she starts a nightly program on CNN International, which is retooling its lineup. An edited version of Ms. Amanpour’s show is expected to be shown on the weekends on CNN’s United States channel." (NYTimes)

"Newsweek's Julia Baird gives an in-depth look at Rachel Maddow's childhood, home life and MSNBC program in the upcoming issue of the magazine. Baird visits the show, beginning at the afternoon staff meeting, on the day after Obama's election, and describes Maddow's work ethic. 'She regularly works 16-hour days, only eating once she has finished,' she writes. 'She often has just one large meal at 2 a.m., purchased from street vendors.' Part of the piece focuses on how the program's ratings success can continue in an Obama presidency. Maddow says she thought Barack Obama was 'monotone, literally and figuratively,' after first interviewing him. Even those that could be counted as critics, like David Frum, had compliments for the host, who described her as an 'unusually thoughtful and intelligent person.'" (TVNewser)

"The Huffington Post has raised another $15 million in funding, according to the Times UK, as it continues on a high growth trajectory, which also means a high cash be fair, the site’s traffic went through the roof and sky during the election season, and it has been investing a lot in expansion ... the round hasn’t yet closed completely, and the company is looking to close it $20 million, and that may mean besides Oak and previous investors, some other investor might be coming in. And the valuation is a bit higher than we initially reported: it is $90 million pre and if the round closes at $20 million, then the post money valuation would be $110 million, a huge one in news media business by any standards." (Paidcontent)

"The new Bond pic Quantum Of Solace was down 59% from its franchise record opening a week ago for a $27.4M weekend. Its new North American cume passed $100M Saturday in just 6 days time to finish with $109.4M through Sunday. Going into Friday, Daniel Craig's 2nd turn as 007 had made $335M worldwide. Then the actioner opened in Australia and Spain to the biggest Bond openings ever. So MGM/Sony had an overseas weekend of $40.6M which will put international at $309M for a staggering $418.5M worldwide through Sunday. There are four territories left to open -- New Zealand, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Japan." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)
Greenfield: Obama Cabinet Is The Last Chapter Of The West Wing

CBS Senior Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield was on today' Imus show. He likened President elect Obama's choices thus far as being "literally the last chapter of The West Wing."

Imus, contrarian, replied, "surely you're not suggesting (that his choices are like) a TV show."

"The parallels are striking."

Those parallels have been commented upon before. On the TV show, written by veteran Democrat insider Lawrence O'Donnell, featured, in the last season a plot line in which Jimmy Smits, playing Congressman Mark Santos with a thin resume, beat a veteran Republican pol played by Alan Alda. Smits' Santos promptly offered Alda's character Senator Arnold Vinnick a seat in his inner cabinet.

And Senator Obama, a candidate of change with a thin resume, has all but selected his primary opponent Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Corsair Classic

From the Phenomenal Handclap Band Blog:

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Last night, I trekked to Brooklyn for an adidas fete celebrating '60 Years of Soles and Stripes' at a decked-out Williamsburg warehouse loft space. We arrived a bit unfashionably early and my friend Becca commented, 'If this were a house, I'd call it the fourth estate!' But our real faux-pas may have been that we showed up dressed exactly alike: leather skirt, black everything, all topped off with a cardigan. We considered pretending to be in a band until we ended up sitting next to a trio of Swedes(??) dressed in the same Acne versions of our outfits. One coolly told me, in her unrecognizable accent, 'This champagne isn't even really champagne; I mean, it's from California!' before chugging her Andre. I guess it got the job done! Before we knew it, the warehouse filled up with similarly dressed folk -- with the exception of Adrian Grenier who got there first, claimed a prime spot, and milled about in full LA mode. The Phenomenal Handclap Band (unsigned, but with a clear HUGE fanbase) tore it up while people waved found-feathers in the air." (Papermag)

"HILARY Swank and agent boyfriend John Campisi at the Waverly Inn, near Jay-Z and Beyoncé, plus Andrew Stein, Tom Freston and Doug Liman toasting the new engagement of 'Sex and the City' writer Amy Harris." (PageSix)

"Endearingly boisterous America's Next Top Model judge and walking coach J. Alexander (Miss J to the fans) has sold a book, Follow the Model: Miss J's Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power, to Simon Spotlight Entertainment, to be edited by Patrick Price (Mr. Price was also responsible for the seminal He's Just Not That Into You, not to mention the Lance Bass biography Out of Sync)." (Observer)

"Those who missed Mango's lavish festivities in Barcelona last week didn't have to suffer too long. Last night, the retailer brought the party all the way to Gotham, celebrating the reopening of its Prince Street flagship .. Others who stopped by included Ashley Olsen (as her sister Mary-Kate watched fireworks in Dubai in Middle East), Genevieve Jones, and Behati Prinsloo .. Guests like Magno's president Isak Andic, Tara Subkoff, Ali Stephens and Poppy Delevigne munched on the kobe beef, fresh lobster, lamb chops, and house slaw--but desserts came in the form of a set by Solange Knowles. 'Put on you Mango dress and dance, honey!' she exclaimed as Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone obliged." (Fashionweekdaily)

"It's official — the exhaustive presidential show of pretending to consider a public school for the Obama daughters is over. They'll be attending Chelsea Clinton's alma mater, the Sidwell Friends School. Tuition will cost the the family $28,442 for Sidwell's Lower School in Maryland, and $29,442 per annum once the girls graduate to the Washington D.C. campus." (Gawker)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Geithner To "Help Lead Financial Markets Out Of The Wilderness"

(image via cnn)

Lots of news on the Cabinet front of President Elect Obama's emerging Team of Rivals. NBC News is reporting New York Federal Reserve President Tim F. Geithner will take the Treasury post and former Energy Secretary and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, formerly a contender for Secretary of State, gets the Commerce job. From Bloomberg:

"U.S. stocks rose and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded from an 11-year low after President- elect Barack Obama picked New York Federal Reserve Bank chief Timothy Geithner to head the Treasury.

"'This news could really give the stock market a badly needed shot in the arm,' Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, wrote in an e-mail to clients. Geithner is a 'fantastic choice to help lead the financial markets out of the wilderness.'”

In a poll conducted at Tuesday's The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council event in Washington, 37 percent of respondents said Geithner should get the job. Larry Summers came in second in the poll, gathering 18 percent, according to Reuters.