The crossword puzzle can seem utterly authorless. If you haven't caught the documentary Wordplay, or bothered to look up the name that appears in tiny agate type below the grid in The New York Times, you might join many others in assuming that the crossword is written by editor Will Shortz. Or volunteers. Or a computer.
In fact, crosswords are made by people (called constructors) whose status is roughly equivalent to freelance writers—that is to say, low. Puzzles are sent on spec to editors, who buy them or turn them down, and who fine-tune the ones they accept without, as a nearly universal rule, consulting the constructor. Submissions may sit [...]
So you didn't win a Nobel Prize in Literature this week. Unless your name is Mr. Mo. Although, if you live in Europe, you did win a consolation Nobel Peace Prize at least. (Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is like giving an Oscar to Alf.) Anyway, I know, it’s total bullshit. You totally deserved it. But you might just be a calendar year away from getting the recognition you so obviously deserve. Let me show you the way.
I waited by the phone all week for that congratulatory call from overseas myself! Not for the stuff I’ve already written, which, let’s admit, is pretty amazing. But [...]
After years of disavowing the unwanted, unloved phrase "molecular gastronomy," the culinary avant-garde was gifted in 2010 with a new umbrella term under which to gather: Modernist cuisine. The name came from Nathan Myhrvold, whose five-volume doorstop of a cookbook of the same title offers both a history of culinary thought and detailed descriptions of the techniques and recipes pioneered by the likes of Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal. (A shorter version is due out in October.)
Before diving into the proverbial immersion circulator, Myhrvold turns to art history to make the case for the title Modernist Cuisine. Writing on the artistic advancements of the Impressionists, Myhrvold expresses [...]
Imagine that an intern on HBO's hit show "The Newsroom" discovers a cache of unpublished pages while sifting through Aaron Sorkin's desk drawers in search of a cease-and-desist form letter. Who knew that the man behind "The West Wing" and "The Social Network" had such wells of passion for classic Russian novels—and prescription drug literature?
Big Mouse and Small Mouse! A Children's Story by Aaron Sorkin
There was a little house on a little hill that belonged to Little Mouse. One day Big Mouse rode right up that hill on a big bulldozer and knocked down Little Mouse's house.
"Why are you knocking down my house?" asked Little Mouse. [...]
When I heard the new Total Recall had remained true to its predecessor by including a mutant three-breasted hooker (newcomer Kaitlyn Leeb, who's already steeping in the positive and negative attention associated with such a role), my elation turned bittersweet when I realized how little I knew about Lycia Naff, the actress who originated the role in Paul Verhoeven's 1990 blockbuster. Even in a movie teeming with compelling females in thankless minor roles—the "two weeks" woman; the grotendously disfigured mutant fortuneteller; the wee, Uzi-toting Thumbelina—Naff's performance became downright totemic. Verhoeven's entire vision of man's future balances on her prosthetically enhanced bustline.
Right after Total Recall, Naff earned [...]
"Comfortable" is a flexible term. Any one person’s threshold for comfort can differ from another’s. For the individual, comfort is relative: a heat wave in Edmonton, Canada, say, no longer agonizes after one has endured a heat wave in New York. When a person says "comfortable," they often mean "pleasant." Other times "comfortable" translates to just "bearable" or "satisfactory." While the word "comfortable" doesn’t change, a person’s definition of it can, and usually does, with time—that is, with age and experience. It might happen gradually, incrementally, with constant comparisons between then and now. Comfort itself is relative, its meaning elastic.
The word "comfortable" has been thrown around since the Middle [...]
Last week, Gotham Books released Jesse Jarnow's Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock. It's a biography of the Hoboken indie rock lifers who've been a working band since the mid-80s, and always seem to opt for the slow and steady over the quick cash-in. What made Yo La Tengo able to do what so few bands have managed: not only stick together but continue to release new, vital music for almost three decades? Via email, I talked with Jesse, a friend, has been writing about culture in venues such as Rolling Stone and Spin for a solid couple decades himself, and shares not [...]