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?

bladerunner.jpg

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.

Also:

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?

Hmm.

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?

Lunch Break Reads: Ideas for a Jaws Reboot, Hangovers Be Gone, Michael Bay is Terrible for You, L.A.'s Skateboarders, Bertrand Russell on Idleness, & George Orwell on Writing by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Tom Gauld explores some potential ideas for a Jaws reboot.

I hope the Hollywood Powers That Be cast Adrian Brody and go for "Existential."

Check out more of Gauld's work at You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack.


Berocca, a popular hangover remedy the world over, is coming to the United States!

Goodbye, restraint and good sense! Yes, bartender, I will have another.

Full story at Bloomsberg Businessweek.


Cornell University has now proven that Michael Bay films are bad for your mental and physical health. Shocker.


Rizzoli will soon publish a look at the Los Angeles skateboarding scene called Palm Angels, a project overseen by photographer and Moncler art director Francesco Ragazzi.

Part of the blurb from Rizzoli:

Through art photography, this book hopes to do for skating what Bruce Weber and others did for surf culture, elevating it from what once was an exclusive and localized American pastime to a far-reaching cultural phenomenon. In the spirit of the photography taken of the legendary Z-boys of Dogtown, Ragazzi provides readers with a firsthand glimpse into skateboarding in its modern form, still very much infused with effortless style. Palm Angels includes an introduction by Pharrell Williams (known to the skate community as Skateboard P), who has been instrumental in popularizing the skate look and has propelled it all the way to the high streets of fashion capitals like Paris, New York, and Tokyo.

You can read more about and see pictures from Palm Angels over at Complex.


Harper's has been kind enough to repost a 1932 article written by Bertrand Russell entitled "In Praise of Idleness," which seems extremely appropriate for the day after Labor Day.

Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.

Amen, brother!


But if working is more your thing than idling, Longform recently tweeted a link to George Orwell's wonderful essay, "Why I Write."

It's probably something I should be reading on a daily basis, incorporating into my morning routine (you know, somewhere between swearing at the alarm clock and trying to silence the part of my brain that knows exactly how much paid time off I have, whispering, "Come on, man, you deserve a 'mental health day').

All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

Lunch Break Reads: Is Hello Kitty A Cat Or What?!, Liars, Canada's Nifty Russia/Not Russia Map, Shorter Men Are Rad, Literary Classics, and "The Parable of the Unjust Judge" by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

DEVELOPING STORY: The Huffington Post reported last night that Hello Kitty is not, as many believed, a cat, but is a British girl (or something, I really don't know), and the internet all but fell apart. Then Sanrio stepped in to correct the situation, saying that Hello Kitty was not a human girl, but not necessarily specifying whether she was indeed a cat. Now, Sanrio says that "Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat. It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat. Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat."

"A personification of a cat"? Really, with a story this important, we're engaging in cat semantics?! Are you guys hitting the catnip over there at Sanrio headquarters?!

Maybe some mysteries were never meant to be solved.


Why must you lie, liars?!

This has been a bad week for Lunch Break Reads—two people I publicly praised have had their stories fall to pieces. First, Jesse, the young homeless man Miley Cyrus sent to collect her VMA award and to speak to America about youth homelessness, has holes poked in his claim about being homeless, namely that his family says he can come home any time he wants, but he chooses not to. And now Josh Shaw, who I called a "total badass" after stories came out that he destroyed his ankles jumping from a balcony to save his drowning nephew, has said that his heroic story is a fabrication

Just when I was learning to trust again!

Full story at The Wire.


Canada has decided to step in to help Russian troops not "accidentally" cross the border into Ukraine with the aid of this tweet and nifty map (which has been shared almost 18,000 times at the time of writing this). And if you thought this might annoy Russia a little bit, note that the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia earlier this year, is included in the "Not Russia" part of the map.

Full story at The Telegraph.


New Republic is reporting that shorter men make better boyfriends and husbands! Take that, all you tall jerks! Some of us never quite made it to 5'8", and we're going to make women happy in ways you never could... by doing an hour more of housework each week. (What, really?! Is that legally binding?) 

But anyways, we also are likely to earn more and aren't as likely to up and divorce our ladies. So, like, suck it, you lanky jerks! But, you know, before you do, can you help me get that thing off the top shelf?


This contrast, between a celebrated and largely unread classic and an enduringly popular classic, shows that a key to a work’s ongoing celebrity is that dangerous term: universality. We hold the word with suspicion because it tends to elevate one group at the expense of another; what’s supposedly applicable to all is often only applicable to a certain group that presumes to speak for everybody else. And yet certain elements and experiences do play a major role in most of our lives: falling in love, chasing a dream, and, yes, transitioning as Pinocchio does from childhood to adolescence. The classic that keeps on being read is the book whose situations and themes remain relevant over time—that miracle of interpretive openness that makes us feel as though certain stories, poems, and plays are written with us in mind.

The Paris Review examines why some classics continue to resonate today while others, well, don't. 


I made the conscious decision a while back to make Lunch Break Reads "lighter fare," especially as there's plenty of deep, dark, and heavy stuff going on most of the time, and I assume most TCoI readers are already well-versed in these stories and don't need any more reminders that the world is a cruel, awful place.

That said, I have noticed my mind wandering back to the tragedy and unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri, with some regularity. The facts seem pretty clear cut to me: a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager by shooting him six times. The mental gymnastics needed to make those facts into a narrative where the white police officer acted out of any form of self defense are insane, and yet people are really trying to do this. Just a few days ago, Jon Stewart went after Fox News for their "outrage" at the coverage of the Ferguson tragedy (which Fox seemed to feel focused too much on race, because... I don't know why), and that segment should be required viewing.

Yesterday, The Toast put up a powerful, visceral piece from Ezekiel Kweku on how certain media outlets have covered the death of Michael Brown, and it struck me pretty hard.

In the days after Michael Brown’s death, we watched a sadly familiar story play out. The media ran pictures of him staring sullenly into the camera and making “gang” signs with his hands. They emphasized his weight and large frame, listened to his music and declared it “violent hip hop.” For their part, the police made certain to pair pertinent details about his death with seemingly irrelevant details about his life: releasing the long demanded name of the officer who shot him alongside surveillance footage of an unrelated shoplifting incident, leaking a toxicology report indicating that Brown had “marijuana in his system” at the same time they released an autopsy confirming that he’d been shot six times. Black people desperately tried to defend Michael Brown, pointing out that he was a child, that he was gentle, that he never got into any trouble, that he was going to college. If we fail to name the battleground being fought upon, this fight over what narrative to impose on the details of Brown’s life might seem oddly tangential to the argument over the circumstances of his death. So let’s be clear about the stakes of this conflict: we are trying to decide whether or not Michael Brown was a nigger. A dead human being is a tragedy that needs to be investigated and accounted for. A dead nigger doesn’t even need to be mourned, much less its death justified.

Michael Brown's death—which, frighteningly, isn't an anomaly, isn't something any of us can say is completely out of the norm for America or our police forces—has re-sparked a debate on race and media narratives that I think we all need to be a part of. Kweku's piece hits hard, but some things are meant to hurt, some ideas need to get knocked about, if only so we can reevaluate the way we live our lives and work towards a better future for everyone—not just comfortable middle-class white guys like me.

I'm truly exhausted, frustrated, and angry about living in a country where if I had been in Michael Brown's place, I would not have been shot. And if I had been shot, there wouldn't be any of this bullshit about leaking a toxicology report showing I was drunk along with my autopsy, no disgusting readings into my lifestyle—"Lars Laing-Peterson listened to violent punk rock music like White Lung and the Clash, and ran a website filled with controversial political views," facts about my life taken out of context and mentioned only to invoke ideas of anarchists throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at G8 summits, giving the police officer who shot me reasonable doubt for ending my life, despite the fact I was unarmed. "He looked like a crazed anarchist! I feared for my life. You know how those white punks can be."

The fact that we all know a "fear of white punk rockers" defense wouldn't work in any courtroom (or in the court of public opinion) makes it even more ludicrous that we still live in a country where every young black man can be made to seem like a violent gang member because they like rap music, and that indeed certain media outlets tried to make this out to be the case for Michael Brown.

When does it end? And how many more young people have to die before it does?

Lunch Break Reads: Not So Homeless After All, Most White Folks Have No Black Friends and Hate Politics, Zara's Accidental Holocaust Shirt, Jon Stewart on Race, and White Noise by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

You may remember that I was quite complimentary of Ms. Miley Cyrus a few days ago. Sadly, it has come out that Jesse, the young homeless man Miley allowed to collect her award for her and speak on a very public stage about youth homelessness, might not be so homeless after all. While the messenger doesn't matter to me as much as the message, it's a shame that this has become (and may well remain) "the story," and not the young people struggling on the streets of our cities. Full story at Uproxx


According to the Washington Post, you have no black friends! Also according the Washington Post, you hate politics! FYI: the Washington Post is just chockfull of opinions about you.


Calling it an unfortunate accident, Zara pulls its Holocaust-era uniform-like shirt from stores, because... yeah, like, what the fuck else are you going to do when you realize one of your designers is so ignorant of European history as to "accidentally" create a shirt—apparently inspired by "Classic Western films" (umm... why's the "sheriff's badge" on the striped prisoners shirt?)—that looks like what the Nazis made the jews wear in Auschwitz?

Wow. Just wow.

Full story at The Wire.


Jon Stewart, a longtime hero of mine, loses it in the best way when reacting to Fox News' "coverage" of the Ferguson tragedy. It absolutely has to be seen. Stewart cuts through the bullshit so effortlessly, and not only damns Fox News, but the majority of white America for their sheltered, skewed views on race.


Author Stephan Eirik Clark examines Don DeLillo's White Noise, analyzing the ways its piercing look at American life still holds true, not only for him personally as an author, but for everyone.

As the scholar Mark Osteen points out in his introduction to the novel, White Noise is a deeply religious work. "Like DeLillo's later novel, Mao II (1991), it asks, ‘When the old God leaves the world, what happens to all the unexpended faith?’”

The essay doesn't burrow terribly deeply into White Noise, with most of the piece focusing a lot on the author's personal relationship with the book, but it makes some solid points—"[White Noise] held up everything for examination, even the supermarket"—and, really, I'll post just about anything about one of DeLillo's novels, as long as it is semi-coherent.

Now, time to dig out that copy of Underworld and once again promise myself I'll read it this year. For reals this time.

And then I'll tackle Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow after that. Man, am I going to be so smart! You know, whenever I get around to reading those books, which I will absolutely, definitely do. Soon.

Lunch Break Reads: Penguin Beer Theft, the King Defects to Canada, Jean-Patrick Manchette, Best Reason to Get Injured, Burning Down the White House (Cake), and Jerks on a Plane by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Who's laughing now, review board?! My theories about global warming have borne out! Penguins are stealing our beer! Read the full story at Express.


Why wouldn't Burger King want to get up to Canada? They have the Queen on their money! Anyways, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is pretty upset, and urges Americans to enjoy their fast food at Wendy's or White Castle and support "support two Ohio companies that haven't abandoned their country or customers." Full story at The Wire.


Manchette was a writer of urgency and cunning, of economy and laconic cool, and of narrative that verges on communiqué. Set within the restricted framework of his genre, those elements clashed more often than they blended. This might seem like a weakness, and it would be for most authors, but Manchette manages it by writing characters whose thoughts, decisions, and very beings are dominated by unmitigated conflict.

Chris Morgan takes on the crime fiction of Jean-Patrick Manchette over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. The whole essay is absolutely worth your time, especially if you have any interest in literature, crime fiction, noir literature and/or film, or were a little disappointed that True Detective only left with one statue at last night's Emmy Awards.


Usually injuries to American football players involve some hulking brute of a man slamming himself into another similarly sized man-monster, but apparently not always. USC cornerback Josh Shaw injured himself quite badly, not to save a play or even the game, but his seven-year-old nephew.

Dude jumped off a second-story balcony, busted both his ankles, and crawled into a pool to save his nephew who didn't know how to swim. Total badass.

Full story at ESPN.


Though, really, I have to agree with this guy:


As Samuel L. Jackson might put it, "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking jerks on this motherfucking plane!" Apparently, United Airlines agreed with this sentiment, diverting a Denver-bound flight to Chicago to remove two massive jerks from the plane after a fight broke out involving a device that prevents the person in front of you from putting their seat back. Full story at The Guardian.

Lunch Break Reads: RIP Richard Attenborough, Youth Homelessness, A Tale of Two Sams, Ukrainian Satanists, and Lumpy Chicken Breast Skin by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Richard Attenborough died yesterday at the age of 90. While I definitely fit into the Los Angeles Times' bracket of "younger generations [who] might know [Attenborough] for his role in Jurassic Park"—my brother and I did force my father to take us to see that film in the theaters 30+ times the summer it was released—I was also a big fan of his other work. Sad to hear of his passing, but happy he lived a long, productive life, and that he left behind so much for the rest of us. Read the Los Angeles Times' remembrance of the screen legend here


While I have no real hate for Miley Cyrus, she doesn't really interest me, either. Well, until last night. I have to give up some respect to Miley for sending Jesse, a young homeless person, to accept her award and to talk to a room full of very wealthy people about homelessness in America, the so-called "greatest country on earth," a country where, as Jesse put it, "The music industry will make over $7 million this year and outside these doors [in Los Angeles] are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home." Well put, Jesse. Read more at Rolling Stone.


I hope you didn't draft Sam Bradford onto your fantasy football team this past weekend, because... well, the poor kid is out for the season with another injury to his left knee, the same knee that kept him sidelined for much of last season. While the Rams are rivals of my 49ers, I have a lot of respect and admiration for the NFC West teams, and was really hoping to see the Rams put together a solid season this year. Read more at USA Today.

In other Rams-related news, a football fan promised free drinks to all of humanity if Michael Sam sacked and mocked Johnny "Football" Manziel, which happened, twice

Understandably, the fan backed off the bet, and instead donated to a charity of Sam's choice, the St. Louis Boys & Girls Club. Read more at Bleacher Report.


Russian media outlet Rossia 24 attempted to forge some tenuous link between Ukrainian political leaders and satanic cults. Yes, you read that right. Satanic cults

Guess Rossia 24 really felt like one-upping Rush Limbaugh. Or they're just really, really excited for Constantine to debut on NCB this October! (Me too!)

Read the full story over at The Atlantic


She was transfixed by the gleam of his uncooked chicken breast skin. So raw, so lumpy.

One of Buzzfeed's many fine examples from the article, "If White Characters Were Described Like People of Color in Literature." Pretty much a must read.

Lunch Break Reads: Florida Sucks, Bunny Adoption, Facebook and Satire, Police Militarization, Hemingway, Robin Williams, and Lady Gaga by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Guess which state is trying to suggest that marijuana cookies might be used to date rape people if its citizens vote to allow legal access to medical marijuana? Yep, that's right. Florida. Read the story over at Mic.


Just to prove that the world isn't all going to hell in a hellacious tempest of police violence and border clashes, a cat named Snaggle Puss adopts a baby bunny.

Yes, it's every bit as adorable as you hoped. And yes, perhaps it will help restore your sense of hope and optimism after what's been a pretty shitty few weeks. Make that a really shitty few weeks.

We're due for some uplifting news soon, right?


Just to let all of our parents know they wasted a shit ton of cash sending us to university, Facebook is now going to alert users when a news story is satirical or not. Because, you know, that's a (necessary) thing now. Full story over at The Wire. (And as much as I enjoy the online publication formerly known as The Atlantic Wire, it still disappoints me to type "The Wire" and for it not to refer to the actual The Wire—you know, the Baltimore, McNulty, failed drug war one with a lot of British actors cast as Americans.)


Speaking of the blurred lines between the satirical and the all-too-frighteningly real, here is Jon Oliver continuing to be the best: "I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary military equipment, so here's another patronizing test: let's take it all away from them, and if they can make it through a whole month without killing an unarmed black man, then and only then can they get their fucking toys back."


Edward Mendelson takes on the question "Who Was Ernest Hemingway?" over at The New York Review of Books. Interestingly enough, Mendelson claims he wasn't just a bitter dude overcompensating for having been dressed up and raised as a girl! (All joking aside, it is The New York Review of Books, so it's a solid essay, especially if you have any interest in Mr. Hemingway, letters from famous authors, between-wars Europe, and so on.)


To continue the literary theme: "It seems significant that one of the most popular clips recirculating since Williams’s suicide is his reading of a Whitman poem in Dead Poets Society. He contained multitudes." The New Yorker on the sad passing of Robin Williams. (On a related note, I rewatched Dead Poets Society last night, and the film still felt as important yesterday as it must have when it was released in 1989 and when I first saw it with my father in the mid 1990s. It even made me feel a little bit better about being packed up and shipped off to an all boys boarding school outside of Oxford when I was 12.)


And so as not to end on a total downer: Lady Gaga doing the bucket of ice water challenge to raise awareness and support for ALS... and not even flinching. More at Time (including Conan getting doused in freezing water).

Lunch Break Reads: Shit Writing Syndrome, Harry Potter to Star in Dave Eggers Travelogue Adaptation, and Philip Roth is Done With All of Us, Seriously by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Andy Bobrow talks about being diagnosed with "advanced SWS—Shit Writing Syndrome," and how writing for Community helped to cure him.

A wonderful gem from the essay, apparently "quoted" from Community showrunner Dan Harmon:

“Everyone’s writing is ninety-eight percent shit. Well not everyone’s. Flannery O’Connor was around eighty. I’m making that up, I don’t even know who that is, I just pulled a name out of my 10th grade ass, fuck off for judging me.”


This is a must read for writers of any stripe, if only to laugh for a minute before returning to the garbage pile of a novel/TV pilot/poetry chapbook/philosophical treatise/pop culture article you are working on.


Daniel Radcliffe, still best known for his turn as Harry Potter, will star in the film adaptation of Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity. Radcliffe seems to enjoy acting in stories taken from the literary world, having starred in the adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and as the Beat poet Allen Gingsberg in Kill Your Darlings.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist director Peter Sollett and short story writer Wells Tower are also attached to You Shall Know Our Velocity.


Melville House has announced today that Philip Roth is quite seriously done with all of us. In addition to his literary retirement—which he announced in 2012—Roth has said in a BBC interview airing today that it is “absolutely [his] last appearance on any stage anywhere.”

I guess Roth decided he didn't want to take the path of authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Roberto Bolaño and die while writing and editing perhaps their finest works, The Love of the Last Tycoon and 2666 respectively.

(Big thanks to Lauren for passing this article along. And if you love literary happenings, you should follow her Twitter account The Lighthouse.)

Did Generation X Ruin the World? by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

According to Vice, Generation X has "ruined the world." As someone born in the early '80s and who was a teenager in the '90s, I've often felt more lumped in with the last dregs of Gen X—encompassing those born between 1965 and 1980—than as a harbinger of the Millennial Generation. My existence beginning at the cusp of a generational shift, I took a particular interest in Theis Duelund's article, especially as Duelund blames Gen X for the perceived nihilism and narcissism of the Millennials.

Generation X has a lot more to do with our current shitshow than they believe. I’m not blaming them for the way the world looks—that’s on the Boomers—but our big brothers and sisters in Gen X screwed up our cultural priorities by teaching Millennials that self-obsession is the highest mark of cultural capital.


Writing as a Millennial defending his generation to a world that sees young adults today as the most narcissistic ("selfies," etc.) and useless ("selfies," etc.) generation ever, Duelund's piece is definitely worth a read. The man makes a number of intriguing points, but his fixation with and depiction of the 1990s—"the best decade this part of the world has ever seen," a time when capitalism seemed to be working—is a bit strange, and prevents his conclusions from building into lasting statements.

For Duelund, the 1990s just is—in his article, the '90s simply popped into existence, completely untouched by the decades preceding it. There is not a single mention of the 1980s or how the '90s might be seen as a reaction to a decade (and generation) oft remembered for the line "Greed is good" or the works of Bret Easton Ellis, particularly Less Than Zero and American Psycho. (I can't think of a much stronger statement regarding outward appearance and presentation than the business card fetishism of the latter novel.) Stranger still, Duelund admits that Millennials seem to be in the throes of '90s nostalgia and that "Pop chanteuses trying to establish personal brands have found 1990s nostalgia an unusually rich vein to mine." Of course, some of the success of '90s nostalgia is due to aging (and far more economically affluent) Gen Xers reliving their glory days, but much of it has to be laid at the feet of Millennials who want to emulate the slacker identity perfected in the '90s. But there is no mention that Millennials are also echoing the fashions of the 1980s, dressing like extras from Pretty in Pink and listening to New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen. Even in this micro-age of '90s nostalgia, this '80s revival is still going on. (Have you heard that new Twin Shadow song and/or most anything featured on Pitchfork?) Hell, some young people today look like refugees from a '70s film and soundtrack their lives with neo-psychedelia from the likes of Tame Impala, the Black Angels, Chris Cohen, and [insert band from Austin's Psychfest here]; others appear to have wandered out of a '60s sit-in (in dress and/or philosophy), speaking about "revolutions" and "the Man," seeing in Edward Snowden and the Occupy Movement a return to a vocal and active countercultural moment once thought relegated to the past.

Where Duelund sees his generation as tainted by the 1990s, he makes no attempt to show how Generation X may have been shaped by the 1970s, where the idealism and hope of the '60s died (perhaps in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles), and the 1980s, the birth of the yuppies and the Reagan Era. He could also say that Millennials in their obsession with all things "retro" and "vintage" (from the rise in popularity of vinyl, faux-Wayfarer sunglasses, floral print shirts, and country club-style dress) have failed to learn from the failures and shortcomings of their older brothers and sisters, and their aunts and uncles, even their grandparents. As with many generations in their prime, Millennials today, like Gen Xers in the mid-'90s, seem to have no established identity—in many ways, they are still wrestling with the generational identities of the decades previous—and in the absence of such an identity seem quite willing to appropriate the attitudes, cultures, and fashions of generations past. (At least their idea of these attributes and defining characteristics.) Like Generation X, Millennials will be defined first by grey hairs decrying their self-obsession and, only later, by themselves and their accomplishments, often when their "moment has passed" and the cultural spotlight moves on to another crop of whiny, useless brats. And that day is not far off; very soon there will be thirteen-year-olds who were born after the tragic (and defining) events of 9/11, and who will truly be the first generation to grow up in a world defined the internet as we know it today, especially its social aspects.

On Wednesday, I attended a lecture by Jeremy Epstein, a former Microsoft employee and now VP of Marketing for Sprinklr. He noted that in the 1990s, the internet was not disruptive—email was merely faster mail, online shopping was faster catalogue shopping, and so on. Today, the social aspects of the internet make it far more disruptive. One only has to take a look at social media's role in the Arab Spring, the fact that Turkey recently banned Twitter use in the country, the Occupy Movement, even the outrage about "pink slime," when one woman took down an entire company, a feat unthinkable in the less disruptive internet age of the '90s. Yes, there is a growing current of disdain for "Twitter activism"—some decrying it as self-serving, others saying it's literally the least people can do and hinders any real activism and change, many feeling it is just another symptom of "peak outrage," etc.—but it is impossible to ignore the fact that the online world has changed significantly from the dial-up, Netscape, AOL-tinged '90s (and that the "real world" has been shaped by these technological trends). Much of this evolution will become part of the identity and narrative that emerges about the Millennials, just as the trends of the '90s came to define Gen Xers in all those grungy shades of grey, plaid, and coffee stains.

Instead of pointing fingers (Millennials blaming Gen Xers and Baby Boomers for failing them, Gen Xers blaming Baby Boomers for the initial failure and Millennials for being too self-obsessed to save us, etc.), the more interesting avenues to explore are "When is a generation truly defined, and by who?" and "How will the rise of the Social Age shape the definition of the Millennials?" In many ways, we get to watch this definition crystallize over the coming years—Millennials will soon be (if they are not already) the generation, just as Gen Xers were in the 1990s. As "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the Clinton era of economic prosperity and relative peace, and Reality Bites have become part of the way we imagine Generation X, so too will the gains in the fight for marriage equality, Flappy Bird, and the golden age of superhero films come to be part of the definition of the Millennials.

And, at the end of the day, that ain't too shabby, Millennials.