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Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Tom-Mel-Tom-Bruce Era

August 11, 2014, 11:56 am

There’s a new book, previewed in Grantland (they do book excerpts?), called “Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor.” It’s not the first or last book about Tom Cruise. Movie stars on his level get publishers pumping their printing presses. What’s missing – what I want to suggest here in just 1500 quick words – is a book, or even a good Esquire article, about the era of Cruise’s stardom, a two-decade-long stretch when Hollywood’s scripts rotated around a certain kind […]

Puff Piece for Paul Passes Over Populism

August 7, 2014, 5:21 pm

The current issue of The New York Times Magazine has a cover that reads, “Has the Libertarian Movement Finally Arrived?” It’s no accident that the author, Robert Draper, in a 10,000-word examination of the national mood, fails to mention the words “populist,” “populism,” or “1%.” That’s because this article is less an interrogation of libertarianism than a journey to it, beginning with two charismatic television hosts (one of whom was once the face of MTV), moving through an extended interview […]

Saluting a hero with disabilities and abilities

August 6, 2014, 12:09 pm

“Astonishingly, it is legal under Federal law for a restaurant to refuse to serve a mentally retarded person, for a theater to deny admission to someone with cerebral palsy, for a dry cleaner to refuse service to someone who is deaf or blind. People with disabilities – the largest minority in the U.S. – were left out of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. Twenty-five years later, discrimination against disabled people is still pervasive.” Twenty-five years after these words […]

Why TV Families Always Have 14yo Girls and 10yo Boys

August 4, 2014, 8:59 am

Earlier this summer, when Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday used a tragic massacre at U.C. Santa Barbara to shine a light on cinematic “schlubby arrested adolescents” and the women who love them, she provoked a round of outrage, including tweets by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow. Though Hornaday chose her moment badly, she drew attention to a genuine, troubling trend in filmmaking, one that doesn’t usually kill people, but does often distort expectations. After Hornaday’s piece, a consensus emerged: […]

Two Songs of Nice and Ire

August 1, 2014, 8:54 am

I didn’t start this week intending for it to be Weird Al Week. But if there’s one thing we learned in July 2014, it’s that you never know when Weird Al Week is coming. Musing upon the singular, almost sui generis oeuvre that is the Compleat Weird Al Yankovic, I found myself thinking about all the lives he’s touched…especially artists like Nirvana and Lady Gaga who found his parodies a badge of honor. Weird Al has given so many people […]