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The Year In Crying At Your Desk

Enough about how technology is changing us, for now. It’s the end of the calendar year, and we’re consumed with the attendant complicated feelings of the holiday season, as well as settling accounts before the 13 changes to 14. And in that tally of the year soon to lapse, we look back. We remember. We write year-end reviews. READ MORE

The Man Who Put The Fun Back In Movies



Hal Needham was never a household name, something about which he did not care. He passed away last week at the age of 82. He was (by his account) the highest paid stuntman of all time and the director of a slew of memorable Burt Reynolds movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s, including Smokey And The Bandit, a film that, if you grew up in the South, rivaled the popularity of Star Wars. He ushered in a lighter touch to American pop movie culture, but he probably mostly cared about the checks in his mailbox. READ MORE

Twitter And The Death Of Quiet Enjoyment

On Monday, a movie-blog entrepreneur was tucking into a Toronto International Film Festival screening of a horror pic, when, to his actual horror, a fellow screenee was fiddling with his or her cell phone. Alex Billington went straight to film fest officials to complain. READ MORE

A Chat With Tim Leong, Author Of "Super Graphic"

When I first held it in my hands, I was afraid it was a trifle, the kind of published material you might pick up at Urban Outfitters: maybe pics of misplaced apostrophes, maybe something about hipsters. But Tim Leong’s Super Graphic, to be published tomorrow by Chronicle Books, is different. It’s a little bit longer and wider than a book that might be based on someone’s Tumblr, and there are at least half again as many pages. Also, it is not trifling at all, which is quite an accomplishment for a book of charts and graphs that each deal with some dataset derived from comic books and the culture surrounding it. Each informational display stands by itself (“Supervillians and Secondary Colors” or “The Chris Ware Sadness Scale”), but taken as a whole it approaches something resembling a narrative. It’s a very heart-felt love letter to comic books, the imaginary people that inhabit them and the actual people that imagine the imaginary people. READ MORE

'Wigwag' Revisited

It was not a likely name for a magazine. A kid's magazine, maybe, but a bold attempt to supplant the New Yorker? Eyebrows were raised. And yet Wigwag was launched anyway, in the fall of 1989. Editor Alexander Kaplen wrote in his introductory note: "The word isn't made up, and the name's no accident. This magazine has a lot to do with home—who lives where, what they do there, what they do there." The definition, according to Kaplen, is, "to signal someone home." Kaplen launched the magazine as a response to the ousting of long-time editor William Shawn in 1987 (detailed extensively by Elon Green last week). If Eustace Tilley was going to be co-opted by some outsider, then Kaplen was going to re-imagine that eminent magazine as one no longer the Talk of the Town (and you know which town), but rather the talk of all the towns, even the one in which you may live, be it Iowa City or Akron or Winnemucca. READ MORE

Superman Isn't What He Used To Be

Man of Steel hits theaters tonight, and Warner Brothers is hoping that it will bring out the inner 40-year-old in all of us, and that the inner 40-year-old will dig deep and fork over the twelve to twenty dollars it will cost to see the film. It’s a tough spot: historically, the Superman franchise is one for five when it comes to good movies, which puts Superman pretty far behind John McClane. The movies make money, sure, but the movies themselves (other than II, of course)? Not so super. READ MORE

William Gibson On Burroughs, Sterling, Dick, Libraries, The Uncanny, The Web

In real life, William Gibson looks like you would imagine. A little older than the Gibson you imagine, but he was born in 1948, so it only stands to reason. He is gaunt and affable, clothes black, smart looking frames on his eyeglasses, more avuncular than professorial. And he really talks like that! Those neologisms and the sizzling chrome-finished turns of phrase? They fall out of his mouth in the course of conversation. He lives the gimmick. READ MORE

Carmine Infantino, 1925-2013

Lifelong comic book man Carmine Infantino died yesterday at the age of 87. If you are even a casual nerd, you know Infantino as that guy that got to draw The Flash off and on for thirty years. And his pencils were immediately identifiable: square-jawed and kinetic, with characters constantly tilting into a run or skidding to a halt. But that’s not all Infantino did. READ MORE

How Much More Do Baseball Players Make Today?

In honor of Opening Day on Sunday, the first of two essays today on the history of the game.
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The Future According To 1981: An 'Omni' Appreciation

In May of 1981, a draft-dodging ex-pat American published his first story in Omni magazine. The event went largely unremarked. After all, Ronald Reagan was just a few months in office then, and that was either awesome or terrible, depending on your viewpoint, plus that was the same month the Pope got shot! Which is why we now have a Popemobile! But there at your local newsstand, or, if you were lucky (or your parents were generous), there in your mailbox in the plain brown wrapper, William Gibson's "Johnny Mnemonic" saw print. READ MORE