From The Archives
17

100 Fantastic (Not Best!) Songs From 2012

Hello and welcome, once again, to "End of Year List" season. Are you ready to hear from all of the critics you can even moderately stand to hear from during normal months? There will be pride, understand. There will be brand-management. It will feel a little obtrusive and overmuch. It will be natural to respond with some weariness—with a flick of the wrist as if to say "check please" and the concomitant desire to call the whole thing off and tune back in at some point during 2013.

Resist it.

You should resist the urge to unplug until 2013—when the world will be not quite so followish-ly Gangnam in [...]

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1

New York City, November 29, 2012

★★★ Dawn threw a wall of pink onto the face of the apartment tower across the way; sunset found a way to throw pink the same place, on the bounce. Between, there was blue sky, with a sort of lilac haze behind the uptown skyline. The safety-orange of construction signs popped in the low flood of sunlight. In the schoolyard, the last colorless leaves on the sycamores shook stiffly in the breeze. The flags of the city and the Parks Department unfurled from their guy wires, flapped northward for a while, then fell back down. The gentle gust was not quite enough to lift the United States flag or the [...]

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0

My 100 Days in Space

"A jumping spider that spent 100 days in space is retiring to @NMNH's Insect Zoo. @NMNH is live tweeting her arrival right now. #spidernaut" —@Smithsonian. Oh my god it's so good to be back!!! Wait, I meant to say, I just flew in from space, and all of my arms are so tired and feel so heavy! Haha.

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3

My Burned-Out New York Apocalypse Novel

National Novel Writing Month comes to an end tonight—at midnight! But our series about the novels that we started writing but, for whatever reason, never finished will carry on. Here's the next entry.

Where are all my End of the World Party invitations? The characters in the novel I never finished—the promotion for which I foresaw myself being very busy with this month, incidentally, the timing of the book's publication being part of my brilliant meta marketing concept—were buried in End of the World Party invitations by now. In the mid-pre-post-apocalyptic world I imagined, December 23, 2012 was the new New Year's.

These parties would be taking [...]

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0

A Poem By Stephen Burt

A Crime at Pattaya

          The following year, in a highly publicized case, four transvestites (one a transsexual)           robbed a Hong Kong businessman and others by first inducing their victims to suck           on their nipples, which had been coated with a tranquilizer.                     —Holly Brubach, Girlfriends: Men, Women, and Drag

I would do it again. I felt paradoxically adult— each chevron on each wave on that warm ocean pointing backwards and up the pale twist in the shadow below concrete stairs. I was led by my wrist. There was a great oval mirror, the hush of a closing door, two earrings unhooked and a square plastic bottle of lotion.

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15

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' At 30

Thirty years ago today a pop music album came out that, for those of us who can count ourselves as members of the Star Wars generation, was a lot like Star Wars. Meaning that it was so culturally dominant for a stretch of our formative years that it became a part of the way that we would think and talk and view the world for the rest of our lives. Regardless of whether or not we even liked it back then, or of how we have come to feel about since, Michael Jackson's Thriller is closer to something like an objective truth than anything else in music history: it [...]

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15

The End of Books, Plus New Insults For Long-Dead Ayn Rand

"Books, I think, are dead. You cannot fight the zeitgeist and you cannot fight corporations. The genius of corporations is that they force you to make decisions about how you will live your life and then beguile you into thinking that it was all your choice. Compact discs are not superior to vinyl. E-readers are not superior to books. Lite beer is not the great leap forward…. I also believe that everything that happens to you as you grow older makes it easier to die, because the world you once lived in, and presumably loved, is gone." —Humorist Joe Queenan has some thoughts on books, and also describes Ayn [...]

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29

Is the World's Most Miraculous Car a Ho-Hum Hybrid Prius?

Carrie: So Ken, I understand that you recently purchased a Prius and are pleased with your purchase! And I bought one several years ago, and am likewise very happy with it. So my first question would be: What do you think the plural of Prius is: Prius-us? Pri-i?

Ken: Well, did you know that Toyota asked Prius owners to vote for the plural form of Prius, because the actual Latin plural (priora) was already taken by a crappy Lada? I just read this on Wikipedia, so I am pretty much an "automotive journalist" now. Anyway, the plural is officially and legally prii.

Carrie: I did not know that! Very [...]

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3

Popular Cholesterol Pills Now Made of Broken Glass

A generic version of the widely-used Liptor anti-cholesterol drug is being recalled because the pills are full of "glass particles," which we guess is a bad thing? People take so many pills!

And you know how the generics are always a lot cheaper, and who cares because it's not like the brand of the medicine is something you care about? Well, one reason these particular pills are cheaper is because they come from some sketchy factory in India—far away from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which does a pretty lousy job of protecting the food and medicine supply right here in the United States. For instance, one of [...]

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0

In Australia, We Don't Worry So Much About Our Student Debt

First, in regard to the word ‘uni’ (wherein uni = university = college): I'm Australian, and I once had a Canadian boyfriend-ish person who was all ‘Gah, call it university! It’s important!’ But in Australia we do tend to stick with the diminutive for pretty much everything. Maybe it’s our relaxed attitudes? Maybe I am making a gross generalisation? I DON’T KNOW, WE ALL JUST CALL IT UNI OK?

I’ve been going to uni on and off, sometimes full-time and sometimes part-time, since 2004. In that time, I’ve gained a Bachelor of Communication, Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Creative Writing, and I’ve started a Master's in Applied Linguistics. My [...]

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5

The "Retrenchments and Narrowings" of Salman Rushdie

Some of his most egregiously uncharitable moments occur when writing about his four marriages….In a close-run contest between Marianne Wiggins (number two) and Padma Lakshmi (number four), it is the latter who emerges as the worst of the spousal bunch. Rushdie presents her as the Marion Davies to his William Randolph Hearst—an erotically beguiling but fundamentally vapid gold digger, whose selfish ambitions as a model, actress, and TV host have, in the end, “nothing to do with the fulfillment of his deepest needs.” The final revelation of her shallowness comes in the wake of September 11 when Rushdie, grieving and shaken and feeling the need to connect with [...]

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45

Please Meet Michael Macher, Our Associate Publisher

Choire: Who are you, and what are you doing in my office????

Michael: I'm your new Associate Publisher! I come from HuffPost where I was most recently leading their content marketing efforts.

Choire: Oh good, then you are not a burglar. Michael Macher, can you explain to me what content marketing is? That's something I should probably know but just don't.

Michael: Content Marketing emerged from the insight that brands are now becoming content creators. Rather than injecting advertising into banner ads, they are creating things that users actually want to engage with. It also comes from the insight that social media is becoming a more viable way to [...]

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9

Love Among the Mismatched

How can an atheist and a theist build a relationship?

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9

David Mamet Is 65

David Alan Mamet turns 65 today. There are all sorts of things I could say about him, and many of his ideas and proclamations make him what I guess we would call "problematic" or whatever, but is he the greatest playwright of the last quarter of the 20th century? It says here yes. (Should you feel the need to point it out in the comments I am indeed a heterosexual white man etc.) In any event, it's the man's birthday today. For the plays, the movies (okay, The Verdict, The Untouchables and House of Games at least) and that episode of "Hill Street Blues" he wrote, I [...]

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4

Rich Places Rich

"The family’s patriarch and matriarch keep a low profile, splitting their time between a large, lavishly furnished apartment on Paris' famous Left Bank and a 6,000 acre estate in the sought-after Loire Valley." —Don't you think there's something going wrong over at Forbes when they decide they have to apply descriptors to "Left Bank" and "Loire Valley"?

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0

Where Will You Lasses Get Your Stockings Stuffed?

Competing indie lady-oriented holiday craft fairs! Oh if this were only a romcom or a sitcom, it's such a good setup. The Bust Mag Craftacular (Mercer St. south of Spring) and the Etsy Holiday Shop (Greene St. just south of Houston) are both happening. And so near! WHEREVER will YOU buy your INDIE GAL GEEGAWS?

Yes there's more, on the events calendar, which has things pretty much on the right day, unlike this podcast, which goes a bit off the rails.

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11

Incredible Art Gifts For The Holiday Season (That Don't Yet Exist)

Calendars! Monthly calendars and tchotchkes. That's the Thomas Kinkade approach to gift giving: Culture as knickknack. Slap the Mona Lisa on a mug. Stick a picture of Monet's water lilies on a mousepad, and you're done. But do we really have to settle for such obvious choices? If you're a supporter of the visual arts, you should want gifts that are both more fun and more meaningful. I certainly do, and I've put together a list of the art-related gifts I'd like to see this holiday season.

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" front-load washer sticker

Because the only thing worse than being trapped in a state of existential dread [...]

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0

New York City, November 28, 2012

★★★★ A few windows, off in New Jersey, caught the fiery rising sun; a few washes of pink touched the clouds; a few fissures of pale blue shone between. Little touches. The baby had shaken off his share of everyone's seasonal cough well enough to tear his albuterol rig apart and scatter the pieces across three rooms. Outside was cold and bright, with not enough wind to dispel the griddle smell around the coffee cart. Attractive thin, high clouds gave way to equally attractive lower, fluffier ones. The long shadows of fire escapes fell across the faces of the buildings on Lafayette Street. Late light again lanced its way into [...]

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0

Talking to National Lampoon Co-Founder Henry Beard

Henry Beard, one of the co-founders of The National Lampoon, is a prolific man. Over the course of forty years, Beard has written more than 35 humor books, including Zen for Cats, The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook (co-written with Christopher Cerf), and Latin for All Occasions. What’s especially interesting is that Beard remains one of the few comedy writers to only devote themselves entirely to print, with little or no interest in writing for other mediums, be it television or films.

Beard’s first parody book, Bored of the Rings, was published in 1969, when Beard (and co-writer Doug Kenney) had just graduated Harvard. The book remains [...]

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3

My Books Of Sad Jews

As National Novel Writing Month enters its final days, the next in our series about the novels that we started writing but, for whatever reason, never finished.

There's a novel I didn't write, and another novel that I did. I'll tell you about the second one first. It's finished—or notionally finished and objectively un-sold, although my agent tells me it received several posi-polite notes of no-thanks—and still here with me. It's in my head, and at least virtually is right there on this laptop's desktop, where it is both ostensibly complete and current through my last idle tinkerings with it, which I made on a slow and stop-full [...]

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