chickarina: the melissa kirsch blog

Archive for April, 2008

New York Times Correction Tally on Heston Obituary Now Officially Farcical

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Okay, far be it from me to obsessively follow the fascinating twists and turns of a dead actor’s constantly changing obituary, but come on, New York Times. Now it’s just embarrassing.

From today’s corrections:

An obituary on April 7 and in some copies on April 6 about the actor Charlton Heston misstated the year he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, as well as other aspects of his life.

1. He enlisted in 1942, not 1944.
2. He served in the Aleutian Islands about two years, not three.
3. And he and his wife, the former Lydia Clarke, an actress, spent less than one year, not several seasons, at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Theater in Asheville, N.C., which they founded after the war.

These three additional corrections (you’ll recall there were about five published in the days following his death) wouldn’t be as bewildering if not for the original crapped up report. But now, two weeks later, they’re issuing more corrections? These tiny details, we can all agree, are not as crucial as when the Times got Heston’s name and age wrong, but nonetheless, they leave the paper with even more egg on its face (and its readership even more stymied).

I now imagine the New York Times obituaries are written kind of like Mad-Libs - you know, you fill in blanks like “Proper Name,” “Name of Movie Character,” “Number of Years Served in Aleutian Islands,” and end up with a mildly entertaining but usually totally unintelligible story.

Previously: New York Times Violates (At Least) Ten Commandments of Journalism in Reporting Charlton Heston’s Death

Total Thai Overwhelmsion

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

What on earth is going on with Second Avenue? I usually reserve my neighborhood codger persona for whinging about how crazy loud and invasive the Cooper Square Hotel Hostel is. But the situation with Thai restaurants on Second has just gotten bananas and I can’t sit in silence any longer.

Okay, forgive this totally-specific-to-my-neighborhood post in advance but I need to discuss something.

For a million years, Thailand Cafe has flourished — or rather existed — on Second between 5th and 6th Streets. It got a weird clubland makeover last year and a sans-serif logo that was a lot better than its green dragon-lady signs of yore, but still Thai.

East Village Thai, which you’d think from it’s creepy awning would suck but is actually terrific (I usually default to the Gang Massaman) is at Second Avenue and 7th Street.

Sea Thai is decent but kind of insane if you eat in there on the weekend, on Second between 4th and 5th Streets.

Holy Basil, while not next door, bears mentioning as it is yet another Thai restaurant, and has been rattling around forever at spitting distance: Second between 9th & 10th Streets.

So that’s a lot of Thai in a few block radius.

But now another Thai place, the very lamentably named Kurve, replete with weird Spirograph rainbow sign, is opening at Second Avenue and 5th Street. I will never get over that name. I will never get over the Cooper Square Diner that was there when I moved in and was lit solely by pink neon lights.

Then today I noticed ANOTHER THAI PLACE is opening in the old Bamboo House Chinese restaurant (where I saw a rat once) at Second Ave. and 6th Street. This time it’s Spice, which is kind of good, and the nearest branch is MILLIONS OF MILES AWAY on University Place and 10th Street. But wait. Aren’t Spice and Sea owned by the same people? Yes they are!

What is going on? I’m sure I even missed some Thai restaurants in this teensy radius. If I knew how to make a customized Google map, I’d do that. I like Thai food. I like to have Thai food options. But I have a bad feeling that someone’s not going to survive this situation. I fear it may be poor, Queer-Eyed Thailand Cafe. It’s right in the eye of the storm and it’s been having a weird identity crisis for a while.

This whole post is ridiculous and very “Area Woman Wonders Why There Are So Many Thai Restaurants In Neighborhood” but what are blogs for if not observational blather? I know. Selling awesome things.

This Week in New York Magazine

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I wrote about where to dispose of your old electronics in NYC.

You know it’s amazing how much time & toil can go into something like this. The amount of fact-finding research that goes into something so seemingly straightforward is never visible to the eye after it’s published. I’d venture it’s easier to write a long, expansive feature than it is to write a no-full-sentences chart.

The info is quite useful. I just saw an air conditioner on the street outside my apartment yesterday. I’ve become more of pious recycler since researching this. I wonder if I was subliminally influenced to use the word “pious” because I’ve been up since 6am and am on my second round of Morning Edition and they are going nuts over the Pope’s visit. And the airline merger. And taxes.

Dump Your Junk [NY Mag]

Chickarina Hacked!

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Friends. Do not be alarmed. Chickarina has been viciously hacked. In the worst way. You might see some dirty gross weirdness showing up in blog posts. The site itself may look like it was crafted by a 3-year-old out of Legos. I assure you this is temporary and we will soon be back after some serious maintenance. Until then, please bear with us.

Let it be known, welcome visitors from Google Reader (where all the filth that has been weirdly appended to the regular posts is made visible, the Huffington Post, Gawker and all points non-New York, that we at the Chickarina blog are not typically peddlers of smut. In fact, we peddle it not at all, but are at the mercy of some pernicious spam outfit determined to bring down the juggernaut that is this blog.

Presently, unable to post directly to my Wordpress blog, I am availing myself of the lifesaving free trial of MarsEdit, which I may have to actually purchase if the whole pernicious hate criminals continue to spam and defile the driven-snow purity of this poor, ailing, hacked and sent to a chop-shop blog.

Alas, poor Chickarina! I knew her, Readers: a blog
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy!

Which is worse: dirty porn spam, or lame Shakespeare appropriation for feeble attempt at dramatic effect? I kind of nauseate myself. Not as much as the dirty porn, but close.

Also: If you find something amiss, like a 500-line garbled list of dirty words in a blog post, could you email the authorities? Thanks.

New York Times Violates (At Least) Ten Commandments of Journalism in Reporting Charlton Heston’s Death

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

So Charlton Heston, actor & gun-lover, died on Saturday night. The New York Times ran his obituary on Sunday, and since has had to issue a string of corrections that are so ridiculous that they make one wonder who on earth is driving the bus over there.

This ran today:

An obituary in some editions on Sunday and in some copies on Monday about the actor Charlton Heston misstated his given name at birth. It was John Charles Carter, not Charlton Carter. The obituary also referred incorrectly to the character played by Orson Welles in the film “Touch of Evil,”€ in which Mr. Heston had a starring role. The character, Quinlan, is a police captain, not a sheriff. And a list of Mr. Heston’€™s films accompanying the obituary on Monday misstated the relationship between two characters in the film Midway,€ in which Mr. Heston played a Naval officer. The characters, the officer’s son and a woman of Japanese descent, are hoping to marry; they are not already married.

They misstated his name?

This is in addition to what ran shortly after the obit was published:

A front-page obituary and a headline in some editions on Sunday about the actor Charlton Heston misstated his age and the year of his birth. He was 84, not 83, and was born in 1923, not 1924.

Evidently Heston may have been lying about his age, but that’s really where the crack reporting force at the Times might have done a touch of sleuthing. Or fact-checking.

Obituaries of people of this stature are, as we all know by now, written years in advance, and updated periodically. And with every draft and update comes editing. I don’t know how far in advance this obit was written or how many times it was rewritten or appended or the lede was changed or whatever, but it was probably at least five times, if not more. (The guy had cancer in 1999, and in 2002 confirmed he “announced that he had received a diagnosis of neurological symptoms ‘consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.’”) And somehow in all of those edits, plus the certain re-editing before Sunday’s publication, they got his name and birthdate wrong, as well as numerous details about the films he was in.

I tend to believe the Times when they report the news, and certainly I don’t feel personally offended by the totally sloppy inaccuracies in this obit. But, as a reader of the paper, as well as a writer, I wonder about the priorities of the Times‘ newsroom. Were the writers more concerned with style than accuracy, leaving it to editors to check his work? Do editors think checking facts is beneath them? Did copy editors have no time to read over a 2,400-word piece?

There’s a pathetic irony in the kicker for the piece:

“You never get it right,” he said in a 1986 interview. “Never once was it the way I imagined it lying awake at 4 o’€™clock in the morning thinking about it the next day.” His goal remained, he said, “to get it right one time.’”

An Open Letter to the Democratic Presidential Candidates

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Dear Hillary & Barack:

The emails are getting out of control. I’m on both of your mailing lists and you and your “surrogates” are totally spamming the crap out of me.

Related: I know you and Tim Russert like to vacillate between calling you by your first names during debates. But you really need to stop signing your emails with your first names. It’s totally unpresidential. I like when you call me “Friend–” or use a mail merge to address the email “Dear Melissa,” but we are not dating. Nor are we pals. You want to be the leader of the free world. I want you to sign your mash notes “Senator.” Because once you’re elected or not elected, I have a feeling I’m never going to hear from you again. All this chummy , one-way epistolary affection is going to cease, and I’m going to feel abandoned.

That’s it. For now. I’m freaked out by a lot of other stuff going on in the campaign, but I thought I’d start here, since the Huffington Post’s reporting and much of the Times’ opinion page are much more incisive. By the way, you’re still on my list, MoDo.

Ms. Melissa Kirsch

Previously: I work myself up into a (gentle) lather over email signing.