Culture Vultures

A Look Down on Your Golden Globes

By 1.13.15

It has come around again, fair readers: that endless season of celebrity self-congratulation known as "Awards Season," wherein the more plebian of us take to our couches with cold gin and sharp criticism to view a seemingly endless parade of beautiful people who were lucky enough to possess so few life skills they ended up in entertainment.

National Zoo Panda Sees Snow for the First Time

By on 1.7.15 | 2:32PM

I don't want to demean the seriousness of today's other news and the discussion we're having about it, but maybe we could all use a little cuteness break today. Everything that's happened is very scary. I'm grateful that there are men and women who fight day in and day out on the front lines to protect me. I'm grateful I have commenters to remind me of that. And I'm grateful that the National Zoo has an adorable panda that likes to play in the snow.

So let's all drop everything and enjoy Bao Bao's first snow day. Because it's fantastic.

You may now resume your regularly scheduled news cycle.


Harvard Professors Shocked At Obamacare Rate Hike

By on 1.6.15 | 12:47PM

While we wait for the results in the Great House Republican Insurgency of 2015 (John Boehner looks to have dialed up the orange in his spray tan just for this occasion), how about a little unabashed schadenfreude? 

The faculty of Harvard University, who contributed greatly to the ideas theoretically embodied in the Affordable Care Act, have a Harvard-sponsored healthcare plan, so they were spared the effects of having to choose from the Obamacare marketplace. But that Harvard-sponosred healthcare plan could only be shielded from the nationwide trend of rising healthcare costs for so long. And now, the end is near. And they face the final curtain. And despite an ineffective faculty vote aimed at resisting the dastardly corporate influences now clearly infiltrating their beloved institution, Harvard professors will have to pay more for their plans

PETA Trades Barbs With Palin, Confuses Her With Tina Fey Again

By on 1.5.15 | 12:51PM

Over the New Year's holiday, PETA, which is not typically known for having all of its marbles together in a single place to begin with, lost whatever remains of its collection over a photo of Sarah Palin's son Trig balancing on a rather large dog in order to reach something at counter level in her kitchen. Depsite the fact that the dog was clearly used to it, that the child couldn't not weigh even half of what the dog weighs and that Ellen DeGeneres, PETA's celebrity of the year, posted an almost-identical photo months earlier, PETA insisted that Palin was committing animal abuse. 

Barack Obama Had a Nicer New Years Than You

By on 1.2.15 | 4:50PM

Actually, I had a pretty nice New Years. I availed myself of a five-course tasting menu at a really fantastic restaurant, some decent cocktails and Midnight Mass. 

But, of course, I didn't do it in Hawaii. 

The President, who is wrapping up his 17-day vacation on Oahu, spent New Years with the family, getting shave ice at a neighborhood place with his daughters and snorkeling with the family at Hanauma Bay, a huge inland reef and wildlife sanctuary that is great for beginners, but is usually closed to the public over the holidays. Barack and Michelle then ditched the kids and went for a fifteen-course tasting menu of their own at Hawaii's Vintage Cave, a French-American fine-dining restaurant, "private society" and wine cellar located in a giant shopping mall just down the road from Waikiki beach. The 

Lena Dunham’s Republican Rapist is Probably Not a Republican, Rapist

By on 12.31.14 | 1:38PM

Before I even begin, allow me to apologize. In this article, I am going to have to discuss Lena Dunham's sex life. I realize that the mere mention of Lena Dunham having relations with anyone or anything is enough to scar you, but I want to point out that you read the Spectacle at your own risk and we will not pay for your therapy. 

Anyway, in her book Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham discussed, in surprisingly graphic detail, a sexual assault that she suffered at the hands of the only Oberlin campus Republican that has ever existed. Only, further examination by Breitbart news and others seemed to indicate that, while there was a campus Republican at Oberlin at the the same time Dunham attended, that campus Republican absolutely did not rape her. And the campus Republican was, quite understandably, rather distressed that the suggestion would even be made, and not just because Dunham implied that he'd willingly seen her naked, but because accusing someone of rape is, legally speaking, defamation. 

'Tis the Season

Chinook Winter

By From the December 1997 issue

From our December 1997 issue.

Cody, Wyoming

To write about the weather, you have to be where the weather's interesting, or preferably lethal. Here winter has been punctuated in a cadence of blizzard, dead cold, wild chinook — at twenty below, thin ribbons of smoke from chimneys and exhaust pipes rise upward for what seems a hundred yards or more, finally fading into the cobalt sky. Tires rolling on the frosty pavement make a sound like ripping Velcro, and at night you can just about hear the firmament throbbing. It is the paradox of the frozen: cold brings quiet, yet in the quiet you hear everything. In Wyoming, madmen hear the stars.

Last Call

Christmas Below the Gnat Line

By From the December 2013 issue

I’ll risk cliché by saying it seems like we just did this a few months ago. Cliché perhaps, but true nonetheless. Hours and days last as long as ever, but the years whiz by.This isn’t a complaint. Christmas is joyous and I like it, even with its aggravations. There are fewer of those now as the family is smaller. Attendance at Christmas dinner at chez Thornberry, once a boisterous affair with young and old human celebrants in double figures and numerous dogs probing all perimeters for handouts, has dwindled, in the words of the song, to a precious few. 

But these few are indeed precious. And recognizing this is a good part of what Christmas is for, even though carols, presents, decorations, and parties remain in the forefront of what has been largely a secular celebration. This was the case even before our cultural transmission belts and their keepers went post-everything.

The Worst Christmas Song Ever

By on 12.23.14 | 12:11PM

So, I'm traveling today, which means that, unless Jesus performs a miracle on my iPad keyboard, it's likely this is the only post you'll get from me for at least a couple of hours. Which means, of course, that I have to make it good, right?

I want to talk Christmas songs. Not the kind you sing in church, but the kind you've been hearing on that one radio station that flipped its programming to Christmas music just after Labor Day and has been haranging you with approximately 80000 versions of the same eight songs for three months. There are some truly terrible Christmas songs. And in the spirit of the congenial debate often at play in this blog, I want to declare that there is a Most Terrible. 

North Korea Has Found Source of Hacks, Will Blow Up White House Now

By on 12.22.14 | 1:06PM

We all know that our government is taking the hacks on Sony Entertainment very seriously. We know this because President Obama held a Very Serious Press Conference on Friday, where he only called on Very Serious Reporters, who asked Very Serious Questions about his Very Serious Response to a corporate hacking.

According to President Obama, Sony tried to go it alone, found they were incapable of handling such an attack on their technology and now he'll be stepping in to handle their problems. Sony, on the other hand, quickly noted that they had asked the White House for help with the hack some time ago, and despite their regular contributions to Barack Obama's campaign coffers, no one picked up the phone in the Oval Office. But they're happy to have the help now, they guess.