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Steve Stern: The Frozen Rabbi

Stern doesn’t sweat the impossibility of this premise, and he needn’t —— he’s admirably skilled at inventing a world in which a rabbi could inhabit a freezer for decades and emerge intact. “Some people got taxidermied pets in the attic, we got a frozen rabbi in the basement. It’s a family tradition,” Bernie is told by his father after the discovery is made.

In Praise of Doing Nothing

Monderman had replaced fake clarity with real confusion, forcing drivers to slow down, think and solve the problem of traffic accidents by themselves. He’d undone years of traffic engineering work that had separated drivers and pedestrians, work that had created an illusion of safety that proved dangerous.

Tequila, My Love, My Lifeline, My Teacher

For the spirit I sing of is a life giver, a life affirmer. Unlike all other booze, tequila is a natural upper: it makes you high, not sloppy down. With tequila, you don’t feel drunk; you feel, yes, high. Really. So be careful. A long time bourbon drinker, I began to find the weight of whisky too much for my increasingly fatigued frame. And so I reached for a lighter elixir and found it in the strange, heady brew of the agave…

An Appreciation of Tilda Swinton

Unsurprisingly, it’s usually men who, to paraphrase Herzog, feel compelled “do battle” on cinema’s front lines. But there are exceptions, a notable one being the English actress Tilda Swinton. In 1995, for instance, she spent a week in a glass case at London’s Serpentine Gallery, as a live art tribute to the director Derek Jarman. Last year, she decided to pull a 37-ton cinema-lorry around the Scottish Highlands, in order to screen films – including a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo —— in towns bereft of movie theatres.

A Less Bloody Ethics: On ‘True Blood’

True Blood

The ads for True Blood play on this: “Thou shalt not crave they neighbor.” But of course we do crave each other –– for love, sex, money, nurturing, healing, playing. The dictum of the ad is ambivalent, a supersession of the known moral code. Yes, it tells us, there is an ethics. But they are not certain or fixed because human relations are contractual and complicated.

Michael Haneke and The White Ribbon

“Regarding” is a revoltingly unsentimental description of what a filmmaker does, but then Haneke is not a sentimental filmmaker. An affectless style traces out his signature mood: danger, glazed with calm, that gathers in quiet waves. Haneke’s camera rarely moves, and when it does, it lurks.

On the Phone with Jack Barnett of These New Puritans

For Jack, I am learning, English is almost like a second language. His primary language is a more fluid yet deliberate sonic-speak: Music, instrumentation –– drumming, playing guitar, sampling, clapping, scoring. That is where Jack is most himself, most comfortable, most articulate. “The music is weightless and when I sing so am I” he larks…

On Nostalgia And Hope In How I Met Your Mother

Somewhere between the sips of beer and scotch at MacLaren’s, the high fives, “awesomes”, and “legendarys”, breathes a quiet whisper, an essence almost, of a man and his life — or at least the story that he tells about it.…

Why Crowdsourcing is No Magic Bullet

But what do we actually have to show for the crowd’s toil, years later? As recovering digital evangelist Jaron Lanier points out in his book You Are Not A Gadget, if 15 years ago he’d told people that all we’d have to show for this revolutionary approach to problem solving would be a new type of encyclopedia (Wikipedia) and an adapted operating system (Linux), people wouldn’t have been too impressed

Television on ‘The Wire’: Extension, Expansion, Proliferation

Television on 'The Wire': Extension, Expansion, Proliferation

The Wire performs what television can formally be, what it formally wants to be, how it wants to go. Television is not suited for the climax and dénouement that Hollywood loves so much. We watch television after work, in our pajamas, in our most intimate settings; it is intertwined with our lives. Television is not up there; it’s right here, in our living rooms.

Maria Filice: Breaking Bread in L’Aquila

Breaking Bread is a beautiful book, carefully organized, handsomely printed, and lavishly illustrated (perhaps “illuminated” is a better word, given the contents and the presentation). Maria met her husband, the late Paul Piccone, in 1990 and in the ensuing years they often returned to Aquila, his birthplace in the Abruzzo, approximately 50 miles due east of Rome.

Larry David, We’ll Be Missing You

Sitcoms are a tried and tested formula. They take a cross-section of everyday life; a family, a group of friends, co-workers, and at the chosen demographic, the writers throw in a mix of often everyday, sometimes wacky scenarios to keep the characters and episodes interesting. What’s different about Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm ? Well to start with…

A Dream Deferred… In The Age of Obama

Is Barack Obama the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream or the American Dream? Because make no mistake about it: the two dreams are not the same. The first is the dream of greatness; the second is the dream of success. The first was inspired by the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of man. The second was inspired by the universal desire to be The Man.

The Humor of Anti-Comedy, The Shock

During the course of the show, we are exposed to images of Noble engaging in self-harm and being… Shaky camcorder footage shows him insulting strangers and introducing unsavoury substances into packaged products on supermarket shelves. He encourages audience members to send abusive text messages to his ex-girlfriend and his former producer, who ran off together…

Patti Smith: Just Kids

Just Kids is many things –– a cultural chronicle of the rock ‘n roll world of New York City in the late 60s and early 70s; a portrait of the artist –– as young woman, as young man; a series of exquisite illuminations; a handbook of saints; a heartbreaking love story. Most of all, perhaps, it is the spiritual autobiography of a cultural icon whose journey is far from over.

The Joys of Walking London

If I assume that great cities belong first of all to the young and the old, especially to college age students and the retired old who love to walk, why not New York in its thrilling size and modern sheen and in easy reach by car, train or bus from my New England town?

Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer

The tension between volatility and vulnerability runs throughout the album.. It is the sound of a man sweating out his demons and trying to contain, within a yogic frame of mind, the urge to throw rocks at cars. It is the sound of the lion endeavoring not to eat the lamb, and occasionally failing in that endeavor. It is the most thrilling release of the year so far.

The Great Absurdity of Melrose Place

Melrose Place is constantly bringing us there. It’s riveting and titillating magic. Euripides would have loved it. It’s absurdist literature for fans of Nip / Tuck and Desperate Housewives. It’s dark humor with a lurid a cover of glam and dazzling dynamics.

The Depressing Spirit of A Serious Man

What makes A Serious Man so much more despairing than the Coens’ No Country For Old Men is that its mortal coil is wound tighter. Where No Country had the luxury of retirement, of throwing in the towel by choice, our serious man can only hope things end before they get worse…

Dear Xiu Xiu, I Like You

The new Xiu Xiu music video “Dear God, I Hate Myself” is kind of like the art-school version of David Letterman’s extramarital confession. Or Lady Gaga for real monsters… It unveils what the mainstream constantly tries to veil: vulnerability, imperfection, and the (often) filthy grit of reality.

Understanding Ashley Dupre

The question of who Dupre is and how she wound up a prostitute does not, in the end, seem difficult to answer: She was a resourceful babe who wanted money and was capable of making cruddy decisions. This describes a lot of people.

Edmund White: City Boy

[White] says that he had had sex with a couple of hundred people before he was 16…[T]here was only one brief period, that between 1960 with the introduction of the birth control pill, and 1981, with the advent of a disease not yet named AIDS, when people were completely free to have sex where and with whom they chose.

Introducing Chilly Gonzales

“Hi, I’m Chilly Gonzales. If you don’t know me, I’m a Grammy-nominated producer. I hold the Guinness world record for longest continuous piano concert at 27 hours. I’ve got a lot of famous friends.” He pauses for effect, then, “In France, where I live, they call me un génie musicale.”

Excerpt post

Due to the chaotic nature of the world during the turn of the twentieth century, literature (and culture more generally) responded to and actually instigated a pervasive sense of global revolution.

Rethinking Environmentalism

The problem is not with how we treat the Earth. It’s with how we treat ourselves. We work 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week. And thanks to microcomputing, we work all the time. All the time. There is no leisure, there is no pleasure.

The Magnetic Fields – Realism

A decade after 69 Love Songs, the Magnetic Fields are still relying on formal stunts. This time, they’ve made an acoustic “folk” record–the joke being that Realism couldn’t be any less “realistic.”

America: Go Forth! (In Levi’s)

July 1776 folds into February 2008: Jefferson and Obama merge. The visual motifs of McGiney revitalize the verse of Whitman. The gold rush pioneer morphs into the post-recession innovator or agent of change.

Dominic Dunne: Too Much Money

Roman à clef doesn’t make quite as much sense as a form now that we have Gawker and Perez Hilton to provide us with the real names and humiliations of anyone involved in a scandal.

Ten Zombie Films with a Bite

When the zombie first appeared on film in the 1930s, audiences became hooked on what they saw. Often depicted with crazed, transfixed, and bloodshot eyes, an insatiable hunger for human flesh and above all, a reckless disregard for human life, these terrifying creatures were slow-moving pack travelers.

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