- Baldwin to Sontag and Mailer: The 10 greatest essays since 1950.
- The year in photos, so far.
- Moses and whether he could have parted the Red Sea without God’s help.
- Catherine the Great to My Friend, Dahmer: the year’s best unproduced screenplays
- The Times‘ 10 Best Books of 2014.
- Lila, Boyhood, and Transparency: If everybody basically agrees, why are there so many best-of lists for 2014?
- The Big Lebowski, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Rio Bravo among the films added to the National Film Registry in 2014.
- A roll-call of notable 2014 obituaries.
- Alamo Drafthouse stands up for, well, freedom.
- The Ramones and other great Christmas songs.
- Bill O’Reilly does his darn best to ruin another holiday season.
- Chris Rock: “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.“
- Print and read, bonus year-end edition: Daniel Pearl’s last story, smoking pot with David Brooks, and other selections from Longread’s best stories of 2014.
It’s been an eventful year, not necessarily in a bad way. But nevertheless the start of 2014 is welcome. Any day now.
In the meantime, a bit of holiday doggerel from Calvin Trillin:
I’d like to spend next Christmas in Qatar,
Or someplace else that Santa won’t find handy.
Qatar will do, although, Lord knows, it’s sandy.
Also, one shouldn’t get through the holiday season entirely without anything from David Sedaris‘s memories of working as a store elf:
The woman grabbed my arm and said: You there, elf. Tell Riley here that if he doesn’t start behaving immediately, then Santa’s going to change his mind and bring him coal for Christmas.
I said that Santa changed his policy and no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you’re bad, he comes to your house and steals things. I told Riley that if he didn’t behave himself, Santa was going to take away his TV and all his electrical appliances and leave him in the dark.
The woman got a worried look on her face and said: All right. That’s enough. I said, he’s going to take your car and your furniture, and all of your towels and blankets and leave you with nothing. The mother said, No, that’s enough – really.
Go on, take a Snow Day; you all deserve it:
How’s your 2012 been? Happy to have survived the Mayan apocalypse?
More importantly, did you finish your shopping? Either way, here’s a consideration from the New Yorker circa 1970, in which a certain “Christmas Consultant” ponders what a good gift for a guy could be:
My list would include useful gifts, like a matched, color-coördinated, full-fashioned set of pre-written thank-you letters. Such a pleasant gift, and so easy to use. Upon receiving a gift—let’s say a myna bird trained to say “You’re wonderful, Fred,” or “Joe,” or “Pierpont”—one would merely use the efficient index system provided and come up with a pre-written note that said something like “I can’t begin to describe to you the emotion which welled up inside of me when I first heard Precious Myna chirp out, ‘You’re wonderful, Fred,’ or ‘Joe,’ or ‘Pierpont.’” There is, you see, a crying need for a pre-written note in such circumstances, since no self-respecting fellow, however practiced in hypocrisy, could possibly bang one out for himself.
Whatever your gift-giving situation, or views on the Mayan apocalypse that wasn’t, you should take a snow day—we’ve all earned it:
Opening Christmas Day (because, well, why not?) is the newest tongue-in-cheek Tarantino genre-stew:
With his bloodily entertaining but tonally sloppy Django Unchained, the always fastidious Quentin Tarantino may finally be loosening up. This development could help broaden his appeal in the short run, his newest film being the kind of straightforward blend of humor and self-aware ultra-violence that plays pretty well to many different audiences these days. (In other words, expect few of the tricky narrative gambits that have defined his work in the past; this one’s more about doing maximum damage with six-shooters.) Unfortunately, a less formally inhibited Tarantino may turn out to be a less entertaining filmmaker…
My full review is at Film Journal International.
You can see the trailer here:
Bonus holiday fun—check out the trailer for the 1966 original Django, which Tarantino lifted the theme music from (but, sadly, not the Gatling gun in the coffin):