- Piketty: Germany never repaid its war debts, so where do they get off lecturing Greece?
- People are still giving lots of money to Ted Cruz.
- Denver weed growers using too much power.
- Homer Simpson meets Donald Trump.
- Scribd, which offers unlimited ebooks for a monthly fee, sharply cutting back on romance and erotica “because readers are gorging themselves.”
- Future of American military aviation: The trillion-dollar fighter plane that can’t dogfight.
- If you’re arrested in New York for a nonviolent crime, no more need to post cash bail; here’s why doing that in the first place might be unconstitutional.
- In Texas textbooks, the Civil War apparently had little to do with slavery.
- Print and read: Do you need to know what “stagflation” means? Or, the uses of cultural literacy.
When last we left Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in the frenetic second season of House of Cards, he had bested all challenges and ensconced himself in the Oval Office. It was a thunderclap of a climax, his school ring rapping on the desk like a gunshot, the echo calling to mind the long line of rivals he had run over on the way there like human speedbumps. You almost expected the story to end there. But as every striver for the throne from Macbeth back to the Roman emperors discovered, staying in power is as much or more of a struggle than getting there in the first place…
Here’s a trailer, to catch you up:
Because there is apparently no end to the inventive riches of Scandinavian literary culture, we now have the Future Library Project.
They are planting a forest of 1,000 pine trees in Norway north of Oslo that will be harvested a century in the future and used to print an anthology of writing. In the manner of a literary time capsule, the pieces for the anthology are being written now at the rate of one per year and held in secret until publication in 2114.
There’s something magical about it … It’s like Sleeping Beauty. The texts are going to slumber for 100 years and then they’ll wake up, come to life again. It’s a fairytale length of time. She slept for 100 years.
Fellow quasi-futurist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, Bone Clocks) is next up.
It’s a fascinating thing to contemplate, writing something that won’t be read until well after one is dead. The advantage? No worries about reviews. The downside? No adulation.
Still, it’s worth thinking about the next time you sit down to your next writing assignment. Pick up a book from the 1910s and see how much the language and underlying societal assumptions have changed since then. Then, taking that into consideration, start writing with an eye for timelessness. Who knows? Somebody may pick it up in 2114, on a screen or yellowed paper, and you want to make sure that they will know what you are talking about.
For Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh took an effortlessly charming Channing Tatum, an impeccably entertaining Matthew McConaughey, threw them together with some classic rock hits, male stripper dance moves, and a backdrop of economic insecurity, and made it into one of the most unlikely successes of 2012. Now there’s a sequel, and quite incredibly it beats out the original in every way.
Magic Mike XXL is playing pretty much everywhere now. My review is at PopMatters:
It’s no criticism to say that Magic Mike XXL doesn’t have a lot at stake. Following Magic Mike‘s model, it’s got a low budget and simple concept, and will likely clean up on its July 4 opening weekend. But this just-tongue-in-cheek-enough sequel, unlike the frantic and insecure Jurassic World, carries a devil-may-care casual confidence that wins you over precisely because it’s not trying to go bigger and bolder. Instead, it brings the further adventures of a merry band of male entertainers who love what they do, know they can’t keep doing it forever, and want to go out on a high note…
Here’s the trailer:
- This is what the White House looked like last Friday.
- … and then the Girl Scouts showed up.
- America finally agrees … on hating this recipe.
- Christie the great American truth-teller.
- Well, it started when Columbus discovered barbacoa…
- A history of American fireworks.
- Confederate flags, then and now.
- Time to open up the old embassy.
- Print and read: What will America be like when we can’t base our lives around work anymore?
Amy opens in theaters tomorrow; seek it out. You can read my review at Film Racket:
Before becoming a punch line for tabloid-huffing, talkshow-loving misery vampires, Amy Winehouse wasn’t just a star talent, she was a constellation unto herself. Bursting into the moribund pop music scene of the early 2000s with verve and danger, she came on like some savvier Billie Holiday in a field of Auto-Tune tarts. There’s a heavy dose of that briefly blazing performer in Asif Kapadia’s potent, powerful documentary Amy…
Here’s the trailer:
Ken Loach’s latest slice of life from the British isles is based on the true story of Jimmy Gralton, an activist deported from Ireland for political agitation who returns in 1932 to reopen his community hall. Trouble, with “mother church” and other forces of oppression, follows.
Jimmy’s Hall is opening this week in limited release. My review is at Film Racket:
Wearing a big progressive heart on its union-made sleeve, Jimmy’s Hall could easily have been a carefree lark about good times and toothless rebellion, if it had been directed by somebody besides Ken Loach. Another filmmaker, one without a political vertebrae to speak of, could have conjured up a piece of twee Irish fun that would have been twice as fun to watch but several times more pointless. Loach does have a thing for speeches. While they drag the film to a halt more than once, there’s a bright and touching sincerity running throughout that makes that wandering stodginess not matter so much…
Here’s the trailer: