Leave the Duggars Alone

By on 4.18.14 | 12:43PM

Amanda Marcotte just couldn’t resist a dirty jab at the Duggars.

In her scathing article at the Daily Beast yesterday, the feminist blogger predicted the end of the Duggar Dynasty.

The popular TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” follows the semi-chaotic, but strangely normal and splendidly wholesome lives of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nineteen children. Their oldest son is married and has three children of his own; one daughter is engaged and another has a serious boyfriend.

Sure, the Duggars are extreme even for many conservative Christians. They don’t watch TV, the girls all wear skirts and dresses, and for goodness sake, there are nineteen of them. However, they aren’t the women-hating, female-abusing psychos Marcotte presents them as.

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Boob Tube

The French Zombie Show You Didn’t Even Know You Needed

By 4.17.14

There’s a scene in the second half of the Peabody Award-winning French TV show The Returned (Les Revenants) where two characters are swimming across a reservoir. One cries out and disappears. The other dives under the surface and searches for him, but with no luck. Eventually, he gives up. The first person is gone, apparently without a trace.

Give or take a few traces (a body, say), this is how death is supposed to work, particularly if you don’t believe in an afterlife: you swim along and someone around you disappears. Then the water closes over them and life goes on, until it doesn’t. And even if you do believe in an afterlife, you do not expect the sudden resurfacing of your lost companion to be any time soon.

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Media Matters

Colbert to Cable

By 4.16.14

The world of late night television been through upheaval lately, none of which seems specifically designed to make it funnier. First, Jay Leno retired and ushered in Jimmy Fallon, who has all the late-night charisma of a slice of Steak & Shake Texas toast. Not to be outdone, Fallon replaced himself with SNL alum Seth Meyers who was mostly notable for making SNL less funny. And not to be outdone by his NBC competitors, David Letterman will be replaced by Stephen Colbert, who is not a late-night talk show host or stand-up comedian, but a caricature of a Fox News talk show host last popular in 2004.

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Game of Thrones: Marriage, Murder, and Spoilers

By on 4.15.14 | 3:53PM

It was a dragonless night on the Game of Thrones political battlefield, but it certainly did not want for violence. Instead, viewers were greeted with one of Ramsey Snow’s torture scenes, Melisandre's human sacrifice of infidels in the name of the lord of light, another royal wedding, and another royal funeral. Joffrey has tortured his last court jester!

First, a few words on the torture scene. Ramsey Snow fed his female victim to the dogs. I gritted my teeth as I awaited the camera to pan onto the victim ripped apart by hounds. But it didn’t. There was no glimpse of her bloody body. Has HBO reached its limit on showing violence?

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Don Draper is a Rock Star

By on 4.14.14 | 4:26PM

The final season of Mad Men premiered last night and unlike last season, started off on a high note. Don Draper’s first appearance made him look like an absolute rock star. He gets off the plane, sees his actress wife, all in slow motion to the sounds of The Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man,” and the only thought that comes to mind is: Wow this guy is cool. But then Matthew Weiner, as he so often does, flips things on us by having Don’s wife drive while Don sits in the passenger seat. The times they are a-changin’, you see. Women drive now, no matter how cool you are.

(Spoilers ahead) 

Weiner has been insistent that Don Draper is America. If that’s true, then Don’s excursions to the West Coast are his version of manifest destiny. Don seems to continually believe things will be better if he reaches the shores of California.

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Capitalism and Politics…in Space!

By on 4.14.14 | 1:01PM

Outer space is cool. Add “in space” after something and it becomes ten times more interesting. Brussel sprouts…in space!

NASA’s Asteroid Retrieval and Utilization mission not only includes efforts to robotically capture and manipulate an asteroid into the moon’s orbit, but also aims to land humans on an asteroid by 2025. 

If the mission is successful, it will be the first time humans have left low earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972. This mission will serve to build capabilities in robotics and launch technology for the eventual goal of landing on Mars in 2030.

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The Beer Spectator Tries Wheats for Spring

By on 4.11.14 | 4:24PM

Beer appreciation is not linear; it's circular.  First you love beer naively, out of a simple joy.  Then your head gets filled with a bunch of crap about what's "good" and you begin disliking beer out of a blind prejudice.  Finally, you come back to appreciating beer for its own nature. – Jeff Alworth

I reached the third stage of Jeff Alworth’s beervana this week. IPAs trapped me in a room with a painted sunset on the wall. The scent of Cascade hops flowed through the ventilation shafts. Why ever leave?

But then I did. No more would I drink only the quadruple dry-hopped-aroma-hopped time bombs that were manipulating my taste buds.

Wheat beers are out there in the sunny fields. They’re waiting to be tasted!

With my first real taste of this type, I realized what Alworth discovered: beer is beautiful. Not for the hops, nor for the malts; holistically 

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At Large

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom Doesn’t Belong in a Museum.

By 4.11.14

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the sound of nails scratching on the Blackboard Jungle. The body ostensibly honored Kiss, Cat Stevens, Nirvana, and Peter Gabriel, among others, by inducting them into their club last night at a party at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But the real honor goes to all those bands—Def Leppard, The Cure, Cheap Trick, etc.—snubbed from the guest list. "Yeah, yeah, yeah" and "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom" don’t belong cooped up behind a glass case in a museum.

The Sex Pistols understood this when they refused attendance at their induction a few years back. “Next to the SEX PISTOLS rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain,” the punk rockers announced in 2006. “Were not your monkey and so what?” They redundantly added: “Were not coming.” The Sex Pistols may never have nailed the music. But here, as in so much, they grasped the attitude—even in their intentional grammatical faux pas. 

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Artists Don’t Owe You Anything

By on 4.10.14 | 11:20AM

Popular works of entertainment, be they mutant teenagers flying across the big screen or young heroines flourishing in post-apocalyptic scenarios on the printed page, are subject to endless criticism. Richard Roeper has made a career doing this very thing.

However, in the age of the Internet, a new form of criticism has emerged. I call it Goldilocks syndrome. This is defined as criticizing art based on the critic’s view of what the art should be. In other words, this porridge is too hot (based on what? Your subjective tastes? What about the creator’s desire for the porridge?) or this porridge is too cold. True evaluation of art has to take the work on its own terms in its own context. Another way of phrasing this would be to ask the question: "What was the artist’s goal in creating this work and how well did he achieve it?"

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Ladies: You Can’t Have It All

By on 4.9.14 | 5:07PM

In a low-blow attempt to make Republicans look like evil, money-hungry white guys who don’t care about women, Democrats recently introduced equal-pay legislation for the third time since 2010.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans voted no:

Republicans said the bill would make it hard for companies to award merit pay or offer flexible work hours in exchange for lower pay and expose employers to costly, frivolous lawsuits.

Ignoring the tired debate over whether Republicans hate women, let’s ask the relevant question: Do women really make less than men?

The 23 percent pay gap myth was already busted. Megan McArdle argued today that if you compare apples to apples—a man and a woman of the same age who work the same number of hours in the same profession with the same educational status—the gap shrinks to 5 percent.

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