- Here’s what Putin doesn’t understand.
- Current record for a New York City taxi medallion: just under $1 million.
- When empires retreat: The new new world order.
- The hunt for the lost white male Democratic voter.
- James Ellroy: “I hate hipsters, I hate liberals, I hate rock’n’rollers, I hate the counter-culture, I hate movie people. I want to go somewhere quiet, peaceful and decorous, and be radical in my mind.”
- Adam Driver as Boris, and other casting ideas for The Goldfinch: The Movie.
- Print and read: The murders that preceded the Boston bombings.
- Bonus print and read: Rick Perry and the Texas miracle that ain’t.
Tweeting doesn’t usually result in anything this cool. Not so long ago, Jessica Gross read an interview with novelist Alexander Chee, who said that his favorite place to write was on a train. “I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.” Gross tweeted her agreement with the sentiment. And who wouldn’t? Trundling along in a gently swaying car as the panorama of America swoops past, soothing your anxiety over the knotty twelfth chapter of that novel you can’t quite finish, has a curiously soothing appeal to it.
The result of this tweet? Gross found herself on a train, courtesy of Amtrak, which offered her a free ride from New York to Chicago and back. Gross wrote in The Paris Review about the appeal of scribbling in a train car:
I’ve always been a claustrophile, and I think that explains some of the appeal—the train is bounded, compartmentalized, and cozily small, like a carrel in a college library. Everything has its place. The towel goes on the ledge beneath the mirror; the sink goes into its hole in the wall; during the day, the bed, which slides down from overhead, slides up into a high pocket of space. There is comfort in the certainty of these arrangements. The journey is bounded, too: I know when it will end. Train time is found time. My main job is to be transported; any reading or writing is extracurricular. The looming pressure of expectation dissolves. And the movement of a train conjures the ultimate sense of protection—being a baby, rocked in a bassinet…
So far, this was just a test run that Amtrak’s social media director cooked up. But keep your ears and ears open; this could be better than Yaddo.
- Small-batch whiskies to the sinfulness of weak pours: A guide to Southern drinking.
- More dictatorial bad taste: the abandoned Yanukovych mansion.
- Women make better combat pilots; stories of the “night witches.”
- GOP: Keep the children fat.
- Too bad about Bitcoin.
- The legend of Shakey’s Pizza and other adventures of American brands overseas.
- The “academic suicide” that is the mysterious Voynich manuscript.
- In memory of the late, wonderful Harold Ramis: An oral history of Ghostbusters.
- New E.L. Doctorow novel to George Will on Wrigley Field: Books to look for in 2014.
- First book from New Pope, The Church of Mercy, in stores by Easter.
- Print and read: “It is the cure for the dog that bit you, and how easily you forget it is also the dog;” Roger Ebert, addict.
- Bonus print and read: Max Boot on Robert Gates, one angry bureaucrat.
A few select items from Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Rules of Life:
- Remember the CIA is made up of boys whose families sent them to Princeton but wouldn’t let them into the family brokerage business.
- Never trust a man whose eyes are too close to his nose.
- The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character.
- When things haven’t gone well for you, call in a secretary or a staff man and chew him out. You will sleep better and they will appreciate the attention.
These rules might be tough to follow for those of us who are not leaders of the free world, but many are just plain good sense.
(h/t Conor Friedersdorf)
- After Michael Dunn and another killing of a black teenager: “My son has a father and mother. We cannot protect him from our country, which is our aegis and our assailant.”
- Reasons not to want Hillary Clinton to get the nomination.
- Both parties in Kansas City agree that sometimes “protecting religious values” is just discrimination.
- More fracking, more earthquakes.
- When politicians care more about German shareholders than American workers.
- In the 1870s, half of Boston burned down and the US Cavalry was fighting on foot because of an outbreak of horse influenza.
- The great Pandora vote-determinator.
- Sudan to Syria: Don’t bother with cease-fires.
- Print and read: When the CIA sponsored creative writing programs.
- Bonus print and read: The eternal darkness of Dick Cheney: “If I had to do it over again, I’d do it in a minute.”
- In the 1920s, Soviet athletic competitions (they were barred from the Olympics until 1952) featured no winners or losers, but equality between the genders and cool modernist outfits.
- Western Catholics still think the Catholic Church is wrong on just about everything, but African and Asian Catholics are more amenable.
- Zirin: NFL owners “sound like scared children when they talk about the prospect of drafting a player of the character of Michael Sam.”
- Nap-time to weddings: IKEA in China.
- Marco Rubio and the inhaling question.
- Genetically decoding Richard III.
- One step closer to nuclear fusion power.
- Ceasefire on Capitol Hill?
- Ernest Hemingway had an awesome burger recipe.
- Will Forte is … the Last Man on Earth.
- Print and read: Play as freedom.
- Dear America: You are officially no longer that special.
- Good luck finding Jesse Ventura now.
- The great Velveeta shortage of 2014.
- Single rhino horn stolen from Michael Flatley’s mansion and other news from the week that was.
- Koch brothers get billions in food stamps stripped from farm bill, their own subsidies intact.
- Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight novella finally published.
- Welcome to Sochi: You have been hacked.
- Drought-ridden California, as seen from space.
- Less orange: replacing sodium-vapor streetlights with LEDs means that Los Angeles will never again look the same on film.
- “Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it.”
- Here’s what that proposed Satanist statue in Oklahoma City would look like.
- Print and read: How many black churches moved from preaching social justice to the prosperity gospel.
Just in time for the upcoming Academy Awards but way too late for the SAG Awards, Golden Globes, and just about every movie awards ceremony that means anything, here comes the newest iteration of my now-annual Best-Of and Worst-Of compilation: Eyes Wide Open 2013: The Year’s 25 Greatest Movies (and 5 Worst).
The title should be basically self-explanatory, but here’s the gist of it: I pulled together what I thought were the 25 best films from 2013—trying best as I could to cover the gamut from the awards magnets that actually deserved the accolades like 12 Years a Slave to lesser-seen fare like Stories We Tell, Upstream Color, and A Touch of Sin. I also threw in some other odds and ends like notable DVD reviews, shorter appreciations of great movies that didn’t get into the top 25, great quotes, and of course, the year’s 5 worst films.
2013 was a good year all in all, so the 25 best was much harder to compile than the 5 worst. A nice surprise, for once.
- Richard Sherman—He went to Stanford.
- Movie with a message: Dear White People.
- From Gone with the Wind to The Wolf of Wall Street; a trajectory of censorship.
- What the State of the Union didn’t include.
- When St. Louis meets New York.
- The Mexican “walking fish”: One more extinction.
- The eternal poetry vs. prose argument gets fatal.
- Football players at Northwestern University want to unionize.
- Once again, pity the billionaire.
- Fine literature, boiled down, hip-hop-style: Thug-Notes.
- Fine dining, South Korea, and Spam.
- Gillian Flynn changing the ending of Gone Girl for the David Fincher film.
- The state of the union, in maps and graphs.
- So where does the Tea Party live?
- Things to worry about: 1914 is not so different from 2014.
- Print and read: The CIA is a secret superpower and other myths about America from around the world.
- Bonus print and read: New Pope gets on the cover of Rolling Stone.
- Discrimination; now even at Airbnb.
- Time to worry? Nearly half of today’s jobs could be automated within two decades.
- The positive side of gentrification.
- Giving poors what they need: a good kick in the you-know.
- Sean Hannity possibly to leave New York because of mean, mean governor.
- The folks in Missour-ah seriously need to ramp up their smokin’ and gamblin’.
- Enjoy a fine Scandinavian ale, first brewed at least 3,500 years ago.
- Fake your way through the classics.
- Neurotics get more work done than extroverts.
- Print and read: A classic revisited, ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics.’