The Cacophony: Black Panther, Verschlimmbesserung, Orson Welles, and Obama Ruins "Peanuts" for the GOP by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Ta-Nehisi Coates shares some early work from his upcoming run on Black Panther, and examines the inspiration reading comics had on his life and work as a journalist, and how, ironically, that inspiration didn't always translate well into tackling the Black Panther scripts.

...aside from hip-hop and Dungeons & Dragons, comics were my earliest influences. In the way that past writers had been shaped by the canon of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Wharton, I was formed by the canon of Claremont, DeFalco, and Simonson. Some of this was personal. All of the comics I loved made use of two seemingly dueling forces—fantastic grandiosity and ruthless efficiency. Comic books are absurd. At any moment, the Avengers might include a hero drawn from Norse mythology (Thor), a monstrous realization of our nuclear-age nightmares (the Hulk), a creation of science fiction (Wasp), and an allegory for the experience of minorities in human society (Beast). But the absurdities of comics are, in part, made possible by a cold-eyed approach to sentence-craft. Even when the language tips toward bombast, space is at a premium; every word has to count.

German has such great words that we just straight up steal some of them, Schadenfreude being a prime example. Bruce Duncan explores German compound words and the linguistic creativity and invention involved in their birth over at The Conversation. It's a quick and fascinating read.

Then there’s my own personal favorite, Verschlimmbesserung. This construction doesn’t just present contrasting concepts. It also employs a playful use of German’s grammatical structures to tie them together. The word begins with two verbs—verschlimmern (“to worsen”) and verbessern (“to improve”). It then conflates their prefixes (ver-), and adds the suffix (-ung) to turn it into a noun. This process compresses an idea that only a wordy English translation can unpack: “an intended improvement that makes things worse.”
The Trial.jpg

Michael Wood wonderfully opens his analysis of Orson Welles (and five texts about the man) over at The New York Review of Books with this paragraph:

There is a special risk in writing about Orson Welles. The dimensions may get a little out of hand, as if they had to mime the physical size and imaginative reach of the subject. Patrick McGilligan’s excellent biography of Alfred Hitchcock takes 750 pages to cover the director’s life and his fifty films. By page 706 of Young Orson, Welles is about to start shooting Citizen Kane, his first full-length movie: he is twenty-five years old, and he lived till he was seventy. There is a thirty-nine-page postlude about the day and night of Welles’s death.

"Looking for Citizen Welles" is fascinating, especially the sections regarding his adaptation of Kafka's The Trial. "When K leaves the cathedral where the above conversation takes place, for example, the ornate portals and façade rise behind him in a kind of elaborate architectural mockery, a conflation of society, system, the law, and the church, but the effect is not political, doesn’t suggest the lonely individual betrayed by a heartless system; it suggests a mismatch between us and the elegant, indifferent world we have built for ourselves."

And as if Obama hasn't already done enough, now he has the gall to write the foreword for Fantagraphics' 25th volume of The Complete Peanuts. How is Mitch McConnell going to read Peanuts ever again?!

The Cacophony: Consanguinity, French Moon Colonialism, Kendrick Lamar's "Post-Impressionist Self-Awareness," and Dirtbags by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Alex Mar's article "Blood Ties" in The Oxford American is lengthy, but well worth the read. It examines the very American fascinations with our ancestral—or "consanguine," one of my new favorite words (thanks Alex!)—pasts, our family's previous homelands, our lineage, our long-departed ancestors, the beginning of a story we are now living the most recent chapter of. It's also just remarkably well written and structured.

My personal history is, as with so many Americans, a fiction, self-spun. I am half-Cuban and half-Greek, born in New York City. First-generation, my two halves consist mostly of whatever pieces I’ve chosen or conjured up whole, rooted only in the barest understanding of the realities of those countries and what it means to live there. The version of Greece with the most cultural heft comes from an era that ended centuries and centuries ago; for Cuba (at least if you talk to my family), that time ended in the fifties, with the Revolution. In this way, Greece does not exist, and Cuba does not exist—not the countries that live in my mind, my mostly imagined homelands.

And from Spanish colonialism to French colonialism... of the moon. The Public Domain Review has posted a short piece on the earliest science-fiction film, Le Voyage Dans la Lune. The Review notes, "While at once a spoof of more serious science fiction [the film drew inspiration from Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon], the film can also be seen as a comment on France’s colonial exploits (it was at the time the world’s second largest colonial power)." So, just remember—the French wanted to colonize the moon. Good thing we got there first!

The New Yorker has been keeping up its recent spate of high-quality articles: Daniel A. Gross' "The Custodian of Forgotten Books" follows Brad Bigelow, a former IT advisor to the US Air Force, who now tracks down forgotten books and authors, rescuing them from obscurity on his blog, Neglected Books; Jill Lepore's "Crying Trump" casts its eye back on the megalomaniac's previous threats/attempts to run for president; and Vinson Cunningham delves deep into Kendrick Lamar's recent "untitled unmastered":

Given his steady motion, continued on this EP, toward hip-­hop’s avant­-garde edges, it also reads as evidence of a Post-­Impressionist sort of self-awareness. Cézanne’s still-­lifes were as much about the act of spreading paint across a canvas as they were about what, for instance, an apple looks like. Lamar’s music seems increasingly preoccupied with rap, and songcraft generally, as a means of freedom, and as a subject worthy of its own scrutiny. To listen to “untitled,” so clearly the work of a restless innovator, is to look at hip-­hop itself—to be reminded of how young an art form it is, and to be tantalized by how many evolutionary transformations it must have left to undergo.

And—as a fitting climax to this entry, especially as these times are dark, cruel, and vulgar, and a laugh-snort is sometimes the only way to find any meaning in existence as our lives push ever closer to the event horizon of an abyss—a new entry in The Toast's dirtbag series, "Dirtbag Jason and the Argonauts."

HYPSIPYLE: welcome to Lemnos
you will find there are no men here
as we have murdered all our husbands
JASON: niiiice
HYPSIPYLE: you see, we neglected our worship of Aphrodite and as punish – what?
JASON: aw yeah I like a challenge

The Cacophony: Fringe Science, Making "Waves," Trump Gets "More Pussy Than You," and More by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

What is the point anymore?


It's 2016. We're like three years away from the events of Blade Runner. Aren't we meant to be "better people" by now? Or something? Yet a noxious bully is seriously contending for a presidential run (and skipped a debate because a Republican woman asked him difficult questions about his ugly public statements about women), the Oscars seem to be run by people who cross the street if they see a person of color walking their direction, an entire town in Michigan was misled into believing their water was safe and that their elected officials cared about their wellbeing, and "pharma bro" just tried to insult someone in the Wu-Tang Clan.

This is clown-type shit. And, furthermore, we can't get enough of it. These stories inform our cynical gallows humor, and don't pretend that isn't what it is. No matter how the 2016 election pans out, I think we all know something is very wrong. Like Weekend at Bernie's wrong. We may be laughing at the horrors presented to us as comedy, but that doesn't make Bernie Lomax—or our souls—any less dead.

But why the hell not, right? I mean, we didn't start the fire (it was always burning, since the world's been turning). Fuck it. This whole existence thing is just meant to a Frenchman's absurd joke anyways. Let's throw some more gasoline on the raging blaze, help to warm up those polar ice caps a bit more.

Speaking of our planet's poles, you already know that B.o.B. doesn't believe the earth is round, but you may not have seen that The Atlantic decided to turn this insanity into an article somewhat defending fringe science.

"[#FlatEarth is] not really about exposing a supposed scientific 'fraud,' it doesn’t have a political or religious agenda, and it’s not out to stop professional scientists from doing their important work and applying what they learn to improve the world. It’s just a bunch of amateur theorists trying their best to feel at home in the universe, in a way many scientists might well recognize if they let themselves."

Ah, yes. See, I get this. I have a complex mythology created around how people get colds and flus which involves the way crows caw at people as they pass under them, because I can't see germs, but I can see those pesky, mischievous crows. Hopefully doctors around the world will "recognize" my desire to just "feel at home in the universe," which for the most part baffles and frightens me.

I'm sure, however, Lizzie Wade's editor was thrilled at the page views that poured in. Go journalism! (And thank the stars for Neil Degrasse Tyson.)

Not to be outdone by the craziness of another rapper, Kanye West decided to lose his shit all over Wiz Khalifa, for reasons beyond our mere mortal understanding or comprehension. Ye has since deleted most of his more barbed tweets, but, luckily, they live on. (The internet never forgets, never forgives.) Here are a few of my favorite lines from the updated Gospel of Yeezus:

"You have distracted from my creative process"

Uncool, Wiz.

"I went to look at your twitter and you were wearing cool pants"

He apparently screen grabbed these pants and sent them to his style team. (Point Khalifa? I'm confused.) Oh, and after a while, Kanye started numbering his points.

"3rd no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through"

Which is true. If you've listed to a Wiz Khalifa album all the way through, there are some people at This City of Islands who would love to talk to you about your fascinating and strange life.

"8th I made it so we could wear tight jeans"

Dear Cheap Monday/3x1/any fashion line with tight jeans: this is a gift. You could, if you so choose, devise an entire ad campaign around this one line. It would be ironic, aloof, current, buzzy, easily Snapchat-able, all those things that a consultant would want a solid six-figures for, and here I am, giving it away for free. (#feelthebern #socialism)

"13th You own waves???? I own your child!!!!"

Oh yes, that's right. The fight started over the title of Kanye's soon-to-be best-selling album, Waves (formerly SWISH). (Out February 11th! Pre-order today!)

Amber Rose—both Kanye's and Khalifa's ex, and the mother of Khalifa's son—said that Kanye bringing up her child in his rant "just shows how fucking ridiculous he is." (Jezebel, not to be left out of the action, goes so far as to suggest that Kanye is still obsessed with his ex.)

 And bollocks to you, too, England!

And bollocks to you, too, England!

Oh, and in closing, Trump allegedly left Tucker Carlson a voice mail a fifteen years back saying, "It’s true you have better hair than I do. But I get more pussy than you do." Don't ever mess with the Donald's hair! He will leave you vulgar voice messages. (Better or worse than a Twitter tirade?)

And here I thought Mercury was out of retrograde. I guess this is just the world we live in.

Congrats, everyone. Great work.

Total Collapse—The San Francisco 49ers in Freefall by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

I've been a San Francisco 49ers fan for a long time. Sadly, not long enough to really remember the golden years. When Joe Montana won his last Super Bowl with the 49ers I was only five years old. I turned ten a few months before Steve Young led the team to victory in 1994. Other than some celebratory fragments, what I remember are "the Dark Times"—that sad stretch of football history that started in earnest in 2003 and only came to an end with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh in 2010. Those were my golden years, 2010-2013. Three trips to the NFC Championship Game, none won or lost easily (and I agree with Richard Sherman, the 49ers-Seahawks NFC Championship Game was that year's real Super Bowl). A memorable, albeit ultimately devastating, Harbowl. And now, after a lackluster 8-8 season last year, the dark days appear to be hovering on the peripheries again in the wake of Harbaugh's departure.

Even if you were okay with the new 49ers stadium being closer to San Jose than it is to San Francisco, even if you could wrap your mind around the management forcing Harbaugh out of the franchise (especially considering the ugliness of the years preceding his arrival), even if you could handle Vic Fangio not being given the head coaching gig and then leaving for Chicago, even if you could deal with the fact that the 49ers couldn't even assemble a full coaching staff until February (and missed out on a number of intriguing candidates) despite the quickness of Harbaugh's departure, what's happened over the last few days has to have you worried about the near future of the Crimson and Gold.

Frank Gore is gone, despite Jed York's promise to find a way to re-sign him. (Though Frank may not being going to Philadelphia, as was reported yesterday). The man has been the heart of the franchise for ten years. There isn't enough that can be said about Frank Gore or his impact on the team. Losing him is a serious blow. Yes, I know he's in his twilight years. That doesn't mean he can't find a way to help a team win, and his locker room presence is legendary. I like Carlos Hyde, I really do, but you can't tell me with a straight face that the kid couldn't benefit from the mentorship of Frank Gore. The team already lost a great football mind in Jim Harbaugh, now they've lost their heart.

If that wasn't enough, Patrick Willis is retiring. Justin Smith is considering retiring. Mike Iupati is signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Rumors circulate about Colin Kaepernick being up for a trade. I'll be interested to see what Darnell Dockett can do, but he's the only person who has been reportedly signed by the 49ers during this stunning exodus. I can't imagine Dockett's terribly excited about joining a defense that may possibly be lacking not only Patrick Willis and Mike Iupati, but possibly Justin Smith as well. (And yes, I've heard Crabtree may be leaving, too. Not considering that a serious blow to the team.)

I had just started warming up a bit to Jim Tomsula, too. As a fan, there's not much you can do about a coach being shown the door. (Well, other than rant on Twitter, but that hasn't helped me much in my life.) I sat back and said to myself, "Hey, at least we've still got Frank Gore, and Greg Roman is gone so maybe we'll use him effectively for a change. Kaepernick has been working on his technique in the offseason, even got himself a mentor. I'll keep my fingers crossed. The team's got a damn fine defense. Yeah, alright. Let's see what Tomsula cat can do." At the moment, looks like the man is going to have to work miracles to just get back to another .500 season.

Beyond just losing a great head coach, a star running back, and at least two members of a formidable defensive squad, the 49ers seem to have lost direction. They appear to be in freefall. The only real questions are, "Can this team avoid a total collapse" and "If not, how much is this going to hurt?"

And I just got an update on my phone that Bruce Miller was arrested on suspicion of spousal battery...

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

Guess I moved to Seattle at the right time.

Seeing Joan Didion by Lauren Lauzon

It took me two days to choose an outfit for Joan Didion's Blue Nights book signing. I was 21 at the time and couldn't decide between wearing my glasses or contacts. I kept imagining Didion's iconic Corvette photo shoot, the one that would immortalize her as a literary paradigm of intangible savoir-vivre. But I also considered her present frailty, her years of tenacious heartache. I wondered what woman would show up at the event, which woman I wanted to appeal to more. I had a feeling that would be one of her last appearances, but then Céline proved me wrong.

The French fashion brand tugged at the heartstrings of every female English major in the world on Tuesday. They released an ad featuring the current 80-year-old, poised but impervious, as she's appeared for most of her public life. She's clad in items that highlight the brand, but represent the (perhaps involuntary) elegance she has been harnessing in her prose.

For those who are unfamiliar with her writing, her nonfiction especially, it's a mausoleum of longing. Didion lost her husband and only daughter years ago, using her writing to braid their lives within pages of resolve. Even before her heartache, Didion was pining for her home. She succeeds in illustrating a sharp intersection of body and place, personifying geography as if it’s an old friend visiting to comfort her. To say Didion is in touch with her surroundings is an understatement, as it is her magnetism to California that pulled her from her deepest trenches. It is this understanding of region that transcends her beyond time and space.

Didion's duality as an intrepid author and goddess makes it easy for me to embrace her vitality on a different kind of page. What makes her such a perfect person for this role is the unwavering strength in every cell of her body. Her gaze surpasses horizons of emotion, memory, and experience. Didion offers more than what the average model could only ever pretend to offer. And I think Céline was brave enough to admit that, in so many words.

This ad demonstrates a collision of literature and fashion in a way I have never seen before. It is important to consider its implications, as they convey a message that each world couldn’t convey separately. The future of the author is changing. And I don’t mean through a commercial avenue, but through the dilution of their profundity. Authors are not closets of proverbs, ethereal beings of sanctimonious quotes to reblog on Tumblr (my gchat status is a quote from The White Album, but that’s beside the point). They are so much more than that. They are blood, skin, and bones. Bills, healthcare, and car trouble. While their words are perpetual, their lives are ephemeral trials of normalcy that we need to accept.

Céline’s photo of Didion breathes life into the icon that was once draped over a Corvette. I see my grandmother in her hands and wrinkled cheeks. I see conversations we have over tea. I see someone I’ve always known, but am curious to explore deeper. For the first time, I actually see her.

Lunch Break Reads: Literature Saves Lives, Brains Can't Handle the Moon, "Serial" Obsession, My Power Animal, and Latrinalia by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Despite the fact the kid wants to attribute the whole thing to God, fact is a book stopped a bullet with his name on it during the recent school shooting at Florida State University. And that book sure wasn't the Bible.

More, including photos of the book and bullet in question, at Gawker.

As this photograph demonstrates, the moon really isn't any larger when its on or closer to the horizon than when it creeps up the sky. So, like, why can't our brains handle the moon? 

Nautilus is on the case.

Thanks to Lauren, I've become—like so many others—obsessed with the Serial podcast. In order to help us Serialites grasp the full extent of our obsession, The Bold Italic has created some phenomenal graphs. My favorite:

Related: The Guardian's Bella Mackie digs into the "Serial backlash" and how it fits an overall pattern of "thing gets popular on the internet, cue the haters."

If I was a dog, I'd be this particular golden retriever. This explains why I haven't finished anything of merit since my early 20s.

And finally, The Atlantic digs into "latrinalia"—which is what academics call bathroom graffiti.

Lunch Break Reads: Librarians Get In On World Series Trash Talk, America's Fascination with Serial Killers, Comparisons to Cormac McCarthy, A Cool Hip Writer, Western Ideas of Evil, & Ebola Freakout by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

It's great to see two rivals—granted, rival librarians—be able to get feisty about sports and not be total jerks about it.

The Altantic's Julie Beck delves into why Americans are fascinated with serial killers.

The serial killer is a quintessentially American figure. According to the Radford database, there have been more than 2,600 serial killers in the U.S. since 1900. England, the country with the next highest total, has had 142. [David] Schmid, [who has studied serial killer celebrity and the popularity of true crime in the United States and] is originally from the U.K., says that while there are serial killers in other countries, because the rates of violence in general, and serial killer violence specifically, are so much higher in the U.S., “a difference of degree becomes a difference in kind,” and people are led to “see serial killers as prototypically American.”

An author complains about being compared to Cormac McCarthy. I mean, what a terrible thing to happen to a writer, to be compared to one of the most respected voices in American literature. I feel ever so terribly about this man's plight. Truly, I do. Poor man. Gosh, what a world we live in, huh? Why can't he just have his novel come out to little or no critical acclaim at all, like most other writers? Why has this literary world forsaken him, cursing—nay, plaguing!—him and his family with comparisons to McCarthy? Why Lord, why? Why must your torment this man?

Full story at The Daily Beast.

The Hairpin brings us a piece entitled "A Cool Hip Writer Who Has Definitely Had Sex Profiles Cameron Diaz," and it's everything you want it to be.

I sit on the ground with the star of There’s Something About Mary and think about ships. Big, old, colonial ships on dark, moody, masculine seas. Cameron, blonde and shining, at the front, carved in wood. There’s something in there, I’m sure of it. A truth-meaning swimming just below the surface like a shark. Maybe a binary. I live to point out binaries. The ship thing is an important and worthwhile tangent and I indulge it for paragraphs, with an emphasis on shark-as-phallus.


Her blood red lips evoke a menstruating vagina, and I am not scared about that because I am a modern man.

Monica Heisey is an American hero, even if she lives in Toronto.

The Guardian's John Gray on Western political leaders' idea of "evil":

Too morally stunted to be capable of the mendacity of which he is often accused, [Tony] Blair thinks and acts on the premise that whatever furthers the triumph of what he believes to be good must be true. Imagining that he can deliver the Middle East and the world from evil, he cannot help having a delusional view of the impact of his policies.
Here Blair is at one with most western leaders. It’s not that they are obsessed with evil. Rather, they don’t really believe in evil as an enduring reality in human life. If their feverish rhetoric means anything, it is that evil can be vanquished. In believing this, those who govern us at the present time reject a central insight of western religion, which is found also in Greek tragic drama and the work of the Roman historians: destructive human conflict is rooted in flaws within human beings themselves. In this old-fashioned understanding, evil is a propensity to destructive and self-destructive behaviour that is humanly universal. The restraints of morality exist to curb this innate human frailty; but morality is a fragile artifice that regularly breaks down. Dealing with evil requires an acceptance that it never goes away.

Read the full piece here.

Thanks, American media outlets. No really, thanks. Your "top notch" news coverage is really helping to prevent Americans freaking out about Ebola. Great work. I hope you all get raises.

Salon highlights six of the more hysterical reactions to the disease reaching America's shores.

Lunch Break Reads: An Internet Glossary, the Saddest Tweet, Cheeseburger Donuts, VKontakte (Finally) Steps In and Ends "Miss Hitler" Pageant, & Kirk Cameron Has No Idea What Halloween Is by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

The Toast breaks down some internet vernacular. It is beautiful.

Some choice picks:

shots fired = I have never heard a gun go off in real life; here is a mildly provocative article about food
#truedetectiveseason2 = I too long for human companionship

A group of people somewhere decided that Burger King should, too, get in on meme Twitter, but as this was run up the flagpole they couldn't get past one tangled knot: Arbitrary Corporate Proper Nouns. So, the result: a billion dollar company using social media to sound like a 19-year-old, but unable to get itself to de-capitalize the phrase "chicken strips."
The future is garbage.

I'm not sure what to make of this... Is it a good thing, a terrible thing, the worst thing ever?

Yes, that is a cheeseburger stuffed inside a donut, covered in bacon. More at Foodbeast.

Vocativ ran a story a few days ago about—and no, I'm not shitting you—a "Miss Hitler" beauty pageant that was being run on Russia's equivalent to Facebook, VKontakte. The pageant has since been canceled, I'm sure to the dismay of the ignorant, hateful people that were in any way involved.

Despite the pageant being canceled, the fact that such a thing was even a reality and that an "Adolph Hitler" page on VKontakte could boast more than 7,000 followers does not bode well for the future of humanity. Worse, Vocativ reports that VKontakte hosts more than 300 pro-Nazi groups, each with anywhere from 5,000-30,000 followers... 

Maybe Gawker is right. The future is garbage.

If you wanted to feel even worse about the collective fate of humankind, Kirk Cameron has urged other misguided Christians not only to embrace Halloween because the pagans stole the holiday from Catholics (which is, in fact, completely incorrect), but to wear awful Obama masks to poke fun at the man because "Christians would dress up in costumes as the devil, ghosts, goblins and witches precisely to make the point that those things were defeated and overthrown by the resurrected Jesus Christ.”

Just unpack that sentiment for a moment. Let it sink in.

Yep, it's another glorious day for humanity.

More at Raw Story.

Lunch Break Reads: Bull Terrier Art, David Bowie Day, Ethan Hawke on Robin Williams, Ghostbusters-Themed Donuts, Bruce Wagner's L.A., and is the NFL Too Big to Fail? by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

For a lot of people, a divorce that strips a house of all its furniture and a bull terrier probably wouldn't equal viral internet fame, but such is the case for artist Rafael Mantesso and his companion Jimmy Choo. What started as a few photographs of the last two residents of an empty house has now become a popular series on Instagram.

The photos are very much worth seeing, and it's nice to see a bull terrier being called "adorable" on the internet, especially in a world where a lot of people are still quite afraid of pit bulls and bull terriers.

More (including lots of amazing photos!) at PetaPixel.

Prepare yourselves! Next Tuesday is DAVID BOWIE DAY!

Full story at Consequence of Sound.

In an interview with Reuters about his documentary Seymour: An Introduction, which focuses on classical pianist Seymour Bernstein, Ethan Hawke opened up about his experiences with Robin Williams on the set of Dead Poets Society.

Something happened to me with Robin. It's the scene where he writes on the chalkboard, "I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world," which is a Walt Whitman quote. And he wants me to sound my barbaric yawp. It's a very difficult scene to play and the director wanted to do it in one take. He wanted it to have an authenticity and it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. And when it was over, Robin just held my hand, and whispered, "Remember this." Very, very beautiful moment for me, you know? And I've hunted, sought that moment out again, all the time.

The entire (short) interview is worth a read, especially to hear Hawke's thoughts on classical music. It took him a little while (and required a fair amount of help from Richard Linklater), but Ethan Hawke is definitely growing on me.

Krispy Kreme is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters with donuts (or "doughnuts," as the British would have it, though that does seem to be an awful lot of unnecessary letters)!

According to The Guardian, these marshmallow-filled—really, what else could they be stuffed with?—treats will be available from September 29 until All Hallow's Eve, so you have will have some time to stuff your face full of Ghostbusters-y calories.

And if themed donuts weren't enough to get you all riled up, Yahoo! Films is reporting that Dan Akroyd wold like to see a Marvel-style universe grow up around the Ghostbusters franchise

While the David Cronenberg-directed film is getting mixed reviews, Map to the Stars' screenwriter Bruce Wagner has had one hell of an interesting life, which he shares some of with The Guardian. Growing up in the swirling nexus of Hollywood fame and celebrity, Wagner ended up dropping out of Beverly Hills High, working at book stores (where he pilfered numerous texts), driving both an ambulance and a limo, among other assorted odd jobs.

I used to give rich out-of-towners fake tours of stars’ homes in Holmby Hills. I’d point to this house or that and say, “Sinatra. Lucille Ball. Jimmy Stewart.” The addresses were available from curbside vendors but most of us were too bored or lazy to bother with veracity. One day, on a fake tour of Bel‑Air, I saw a dishevelled man in a bathrobe in the middle of the street. I slowed and took a closer look and couldn’t believe my eyes: Brian Wilson. He asked if we had a light for his cigarette. The Texans were so thrilled they tipped me $100. I finally understood the cryptic, dadaist bumper stickers popular at the time: I BRAKE FOR BRIAN WILSON.

If anyone's read any of his books—interestingly, also the source of a number of mixed reviews, ranging from comparisons to Nathaniel West's The Day of the Locust to people feeling "nauseous" and being unable to finish the text—let me know how they are, yeah?

And to close, more Pro Football talk: NPR asks the question, "Is the NFL too big to fail?", and Time analyzes Tom Brady's lack of comment on the NFL's recent scandals, looking at the New England Patriots' history of picking up problem players at big discounts.

Lunch Break Reads: Hollywood Reboots, Meredith Graves, the Sky Loves the USA, U2's Free Album Woes, Dazed and Confused's Spiritual Sequel, Terrible People, and NFL Players with Dickensian Names by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

If you needed any more proof that Hollywood would rather rehash old ideas than take a chance on new ones,  I Know What You Did Last Summer is getting rebooted. And so is Scream, as an MTV show. 

Guess that '90s nostalgia train has finally hit full steam.

More at The Verge.

Unfortunately, I’ve met more of those boys since then. They’re the pretentious boys who, when they meet a girl who likes metal, only find it fair to insist she recite the Slayer discography in reverse chronological order. If she likes comic books, she has to know every character’s origin stories as well as subsequent changes and how they correspond to different decades and illustrators. The same boys who, a year later, when I was 15 years old, still on dial-up and not yet part of the world, scoffed when they found out I had never heard of a website called Pitchfork. They were 18 and I was just young and stupid, I clearly wasn’t a real music fan. The ridicule and questioning were constant.

Meredith Graves' essay over at The Talkhouse is intriguing and should be read, if only because Graves so effortlessly points out how quickly many men challenge a female music/comic book/film/etc. fan's knowledge in order to see if she in "a true fan" (or if she is just doing it for attention), to see if she is "authentic," and how many fewer hoops men have to jump to prove their authenticity.

If you wanted to know if the sky loves America as much as Glenn Beck, it does.

More at Neatorama.

If like Tyler, the Creator, you were unhappy to get a free U2 album, Apple is going to show you how to delete it permanently from your iTunes.

Because, you know, in a world where Ukraine is worried about being invaded by Russia, where America is once again bombing Iraq, where ebola is rampaging through Africa, and generally things seem to be getting shittier and shittier on some pretty serious levels, being upset about a free U2 album is definitely something that matters.

More at Pitchfork.

Richard Linklater's been talking about it for a while, but looks like there may be some traction on the spiritual sequel to the wonderful Dazed and Confused. Set in the 1980s, That's What I'm Talking About focuses on a young man starting college... and joining a fraternity. Wait, what?


Guess it's safe to say that this film isn't getting the praise being heaped upon Boyhood anytime soon.

More at FilmDrunk.

And now for a new segment of Lunch Break Reads: Terrible, Terrible People.

In a move that surprises no one, BuzzFeed reports that Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson thinks diseases like AIDS and the like are punishments from God for "immoral behavior." What a classy, original dude. (He does know his ridiculously offensive ideas aren't even that unique, right, and as such is only further underscoring his ignorance and lack of a human soul?)

According to The A.V. Club, Robin Thicke doesn't think he can be held responsible legally for "Blurred Lines" because he was stoned, and, like, man, you've got to understand, it was all Pharrell. 

The NFL isn't the only major sporting institution in the midst of some shit right now. FIFA—albeit in a less violent, more "white collar crime" kind of way—is getting in on some of the action. World Soccer reports that a member of FIFA's financial watchdog organization has been arrested for, yep, money laundering. Oh, and corruption. Almost forgot that one, as it seems to be a prerequisite for any serious job at FIFA. Looking forward to Qatar! Woo!

In order to end on a semi-related, yet high note, here is an old, but wonderful McSweeny's piece on NFL players who names sound "vaguely Dickensian," and a brief write up of the characters they could possibly play in a Dickens novel.

A favorite:

Jeremy Trueblood
Ward and protégé of the kindly Magistrate Petitgout, he is forced to flee London when Petitgout’s sworn enemy, Lord Albright, falsely implicates him in a shady land deal so complicated Dickens eventually gives up trying and changes the crime to attempted arson, midnovel, without explanation. Marries Jenny Applegate.

Lunch Break Reads: Intergalactic + West Coast Edition! by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

This is a special edition of Lunch Break Reads for all those west coasters out there! (And by "special edition," I mean I didn't post this in time to coincide with lunch time here on the east coast!)

If you're anything like me, you've spent countless hours reading about black holes on Wikipedia, because, yeah, why wouldn't you? So I know you'll all be curious to know that apparently black holes don't die. Well, I mean, they kind of do, sort of. Anyways, just read the piece over at io9. It's good stuff.

If black holes weren't enough of a cosmic nightmare, now we have to worry about the Higgs Boson Doomsday! And it's not some crank saying this terrible thing could happen, but Stephen Hawkings. So, yeah, the smartest man alive thinks the Higgs boson could murder us all... and we'd never see it coming.

Full story at Mother Nature Network.

The Guardian is all over yesterday's mysteries. Recently, they published a story which may reveal the true identity of Jack the Ripper, and now they're reporting on the discovery of a ship that was lost on a fabled voyage to the Northwest Passage back in the 1840s.

I mean, I really can't blame the Guardian for their focus on the past. Have you been reading the news recently? It ain't pretty.

Speaking of today's news, unless you've been living under a rock, the Ray Rice/domestic violence/total fuck up by the NFL/Baltimore Ravens headlines have found their way to you.

Typically, I shy away from ugly shit like this here on Lunch Break Reads—I expect that readers are already very well aware of these stories and don't need to be bummed out anymore, and I try to keep it light, maybe even a little hopeful with this segment—but I have a soft spot for ESPN's Mark Schlereth, and this video really hammered home a point about this terrible story that hasn't been covered a lot by other media outlets: For many people, the video of Ray Rice knocking his soon-to-be wife unconscious in an elevator was their first real exposure to true, ugly face of domestic violence (as opposed to only being expose to cinematic/television depictions). 

And with so many talking heads sounding off on this story, it's nice to hear from a former NFL player with a good head on his shoulders who has the experience and knowledge to talk about this story from a unique perspective (not only as a former NFL player, as someone who understands and was a part of that brotherhood, but as a father of two daughters).

More at Uproxx.

For Time magazine, the iWatch means we are now literally handcuffed to our computers. Guess someone had to rain on that parade, right?

Ever wondered what marriage advice columns looked like in the 1950s? Yeah, it isn't pretty.

Full story at Aeon.

One of my all time favorite books is Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Hands down, it is the one book I recommend to people who not only want to get better as writers, but also want to find the energy and inspiration to do so (the latter being something you don't always get from other books on writing).

So, obviously, I was pretty excited to read The Atlantic's interview with Stephen King on him actually teaching writing to high schoolers.

Some choice quotes:

Always ask the student writer, “What do you want to say?” Every sentence that answers that question is part of the essay or story. Every sentence that does not needs to go. I don’t think it’s the words per se, it’s the sentences.
I can remember teaching Dracula to sophomores and practically screaming, “Look at all the different voices in this book! Stoker’s a ventriloquist! I love that!” I don’t have much use for teachers who “perform,” like they’re onstage, but kids respond to enthusiasm. You can’t command a kid to have fun, but you can make the classroom a place that feels safe, where interesting things happen. I wanted every 50-minute class to feel like half an hour.
You don’t want to leave them in despair, which is why it’s such a horrible idea to try teaching Moby-Dick or Dubliners to high school juniors. Even the bright ones lose heart. But it’s good to make them reach a little. They’ve got to see there are brighter literary worlds than Twilight. Reading good fiction is like making the jump from masturbation to sex.

Lunch Break Reads: Hullabaloo, Franco's New Look, Jack the Ripper, Blood Simple, Japan's Excited for Guardians of the Galaxy, and Millennials Can Read! by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Do you like Steampunk and animation? Well, so does James Lopez (whose talents can be seen in The Lion King and Paperman), and he is asking for support to continue work on his project, Hullabaloo.

The story sounds like a ton of fun (details on the campaign page), it's wonderfully refreshing that there are two female leads, the man wants to save 2D animation, and the perks for supporting Hullabaloo's IndieGoGo campaign are pretty fantastic. They've already reached their initial and stretch goals (enough for three short films), but throwing more cash at this project can only make it better, and hopefully boost the chances of a television series or full-length film.

Loving James Franco's new look. Can't wait for it to sweep the nation.

From Uproxx:

The actor, who attended the event to promote his directorial effort The Sound of Fury and to receive the festival’s “Glory to the Filmmaker Award” showed up sporting a rather odd look. A velvet suit, fake mustache, bald head and tattoo of Hollywood legends Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were all part of the star’s zany makeover, but apparently his new style isn’t just for show. It’s for show business.
Franco did double duty at the festival, attending his own premiere while simultaneously filming scenes for his upcoming movie Zeroville. The new project is set in the ’70s and follows the life of a Hollywood obsessed man who is “so enamored with movies that they become a religion to him” the actor told the Associated Press.

Wonder where Franco will place that "Glory to the Filmmaker Award," as I'm sure his mantle has to be pretty cluttered with MFAs and PhDs and his own art and all that.

Better late than never, right? The Guardian is reporting that an "armchair detective"—a more comfortable and less endangered cousin of the "hardboiled detective"—claims that Jack the Ripper was in fact a Polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski.

Glad that only took 126 years to clear up!

The Atlantic's Christopher Orr has embarked on a journey to watch (and take notes on) all of the Coen Brother's films. His notes on Blood Simple, which he ranks as their 6th best out of 16 films, can be read here.

Let's just say the Japanese are super excited for Rocket and Groot. As they damn well should be!

Surprising many, a new report has come out claiming that not only can Millennials read, but that they use this skill to read things other than their exes' Twitter feeds and Tumblr posts! Amazing.

From the Huffington Post:

BuzzFeed came out on top for both total readership and millennial readership, with 68,748 total unique visitors and 38,499 millennial visitors. However, despite the success of these millennial publications, the New York Times still came in second for overall readership and fourth for millennial readership, with about 20 percent more millennial readers than Vice.

And before you scoff at BuzzFeed's popularity, take a moment to remember the last time you trolled that site for hot cat pictures. Wasn't that long ago, was it?