Things People Write
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"[N]othing prejudices the way a reader comes to a piece more than its headline. Nothing is more likely to make him or her believe, even after reading the article through, that the author has said something he has not said and perhaps would never want people to imagine he has said."

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Column Filed

"Yes, of course it could happen here. Just park and enter the Queens Center Mall on a sunny Monday morning and you see how soft a target it is for terrorist gunmen like the ones who slaughtered dozens of shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Go do some shopping as the hostage situation in Africa airs live on TV and feel the big, fat bull’s-eye on your back — especially as the holidays approach, when we will jam malls like this one across the country. But if you’re a New [...]

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Memories Sad

"The Mocking Cure

I admire the depth of Christine Smallwood’s impressive research into bed-wetting therapies ['Are You Sleeping?,' Forum, August]. One treatment she neglected to mention, however, was the method my mother used: she brought me in from playing outdoors, stood me before my bed, forced my head down, and rubbed my face in the soiled sheet. I’ll bet her 'cure' was not an uncommon practice back in the 1940s. And while I did later have occasional incontinence issues on the playground, I never again wet the bed. Success — except for the sad memories.

Noreen Ayres Henryville, Pa."

The [...]

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Woman Apologizes For Her Role In The Destruction Of The American Dream

"When we turned the American dream into a dream about materialism, we disheartened our young, who now are forced to achieve what we've defined as success in a straitened economy," says Ronald Reagan's chief speechwriter.

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Men Terrible

"A man's guide on 'getting awesome with women' is being slammed as a how-to guide for rapists after disturbing excerpts of the yet-to-be published book were uncovered through social media."

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Suddenly Rape Is Bad?

"[A] political campaign against sexual assault in the military… shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality."

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Springtime For Jami Attenberg And Germany

"I did not learn to cook, either. Instead I have become a superior dinner guest. I am wonderful to have at your side while you cook, particularly if you give me a glass of wine, and also to have sit at your table, because I will appreciate your food in a deep, emotional and highly verbal way." —Awl pal Jami Attenberg reminds us that the key ingredient in chicken noodle soup is "guilt." In other news, her wonderful novel The Middlesteins has been picked up by German publishing company Schoffling & Co. It's fun to imagine the conversations at the office about how to handle the retitling of [...]

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Middle-Aged Morrissey Fans Ruining Everything

"It's the fortysomethings, mostly male, mostly white, who identified with Morrissey's tales of outsider woe a billion years ago, who are now running the country and controlling the nation's media, filtering experience through their eyes and returning it to us as news and policy briefings…. The oppressed have become the oppressors."

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Comedians Win Biracialism Lottery

"Key and Peele’s biracialism is central to their comedy, but in a far different way than I’d imagined: it is expansive, not constricting, a Golden Ticket to themes rarely explored on television."

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Is New York's Streak Of Having Mayors Who Are Braying Wisenheimers, Precedent-Shattering Racial Firsts, Hard-Charging Crime-Busters Or Quietly Competent Entrepreneurs Elected In The Wake Of The National Disaster Of Sept. 11 About To End?

"For the first time since 1973, when Richard Nixon was president and [Abe] Beame won office on the ill-starred slogan 'He knows the buck' just as New York slouched toward fiscal disaster, the nation’s largest city is poised to have a mayor who is not a braying wisenheimer, not a precedent-shattering racial first, not a hard-charging crime-buster nor a quietly competent entrepreneur elected in the wake of the national disaster of Sept. 11 but a conventional, labor-loving [...]

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Was There An Arab Spring?

"There was no 'Arab Spring.' Conservative columnists originally cooked up the term in 2005 to describe a non-event that they imagined was taking place in the Arab world as a result of George W. Bush's 'Freedom Agenda.' That Arab Spring did not live up to its hype, nor did democracy come to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and yes, Iraq and Lebanon, where its cheerleaders had breathlessly predicted it would. The term was forgotten, then resurrected in 2011 after a string of uprisings that were in some ways similar and in other ways disparate broke out in the Arab world. 'Arab Spring' is an unfortunate turn of phrase: By drawing on [...]

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Coffee Articulate

"Hi-Collar is currently serving coffee roasted by Porto Rico Importing Co., one of the oldest of old-guard New York coffee companies. I would consider this to be archetypically dark-roasted 2nd wave coffee, which is to say, it’s something of an outlier for the kinds of cafes we typically write about on Sprudge, and certainly not what I usually choose to drink. But the siphon I ordered at Hi-Collar was excellently prepared; called the Tokyo Blend (Porto Rico is somewhat blend-mad), my coffee was initially dominated by carbolic roast flavors, before opening up into a pronounced hard caramel and nutty sweetness, which mellowed into a nice toffee with the gentle addition [...]

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Ludacris Lyric Cited To Indicate Difficulty Of Feline Socialization

"'Socializing' a cat that’s been living on the streets takes a tremendous amount of commitment, and many are beyond it—as Ludacris says, you can’t turn a ho into a housewife—and there are too many of them for the shelters to take in and let linger."

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Song Referenced

This article about R.E.M.'s Mike Mills and his fondness for fantasy sports does so well up until the last sentence. WHY? There was no need to go there. Tsk etc.

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Even Paul Krugman Going After Kanye West Now

"Well, I have a theory. When you have that much money, what is it you’re trying to buy by making even more? You already have the multiple big houses, the servants, the private jet. What you really want now is adulation; you want the world to bow before your success. And so the thought that people in the media, in Congress and even in the White House are saying critical things about people like you drives you wild."

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Book Disliked

"tiresome," "eye-rollingly awful," "preening," "self-absorbed," "dolorous," "solipsistic," "narcissistic," "ridiculous," "irritating," "pretentious," "cloying," "baffling," "portentous," "insufferable," "flimsy," "not remotely funny or compelling," "claustrophobic," "totally annoying" —I kind of thought Norman Rush's Subtle Bodies was pretty good, but I guess I was wrong.

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Look Explained

"Because 'Rush' is set in the ’70s, he also watched and rewatched 'Gimme Shelter,' the 1970 Rolling Stones documentary, which may account for why, in yet another departure, 'Rush,' which was shot by Anthony Dod Mantle (who won an Oscar for 'Slumdog Millionaire'), has something Mr. Howard’s movies, practically interchangeable in their straightforward, un-fancy cinematography are seldom known for: a look." —This is like watching someone walk a wire; you hold your breath until they make it safely to the other side.

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We Totally Solved Civil Rights

This "plain English" account of today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder—the big Voting Rights Act case this term—pretty much tells me that I am not smart enough to be allowed to vote, because I can't even understand a simple summary. I guess we beat the boss level of racism? So let's be happy about that, if that's what we decided. But as I said, I can't really tell.

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Artist Contextualized

"When scientific learning began to eclipse religion as the more reliable explainer of the mysteries of life, our view of the world flattened out—we went from looking to the sky for answers, to looking here on earth. In the absence of divine authority, our perspective, individual human perspective, became as important as anything else. Picasso was able to see this, with his crazy giant eyes, more clearly than other people. And so began to paint the world exactly as he saw it—as a collection of two-dimensional geometric shapes, like planes of broken glass, splintered and warped and shifting with the viewer’s relative position to the object in sight. The world, [...]

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Could Your Handwriting Cost You That CEO Gig?

What does your handwriting say about you? SPOILER: Nothing. Which is probably good, because when is the last time you spent any time writing anything by hand? Didn't you cramp up in like thirty seconds because your wrist was all, "What? I thought we GOT OUT OF THIS BUSINESS!" Anyway, if you're in France you might not get a job because you have bad handwriting, but you probably have bigger problems, what with being French and all.