Amazon has banned 'incentivized reviews' which were provided in exchange for receiving products for free or at a discount. An update to the customer review policy was posted which says that the banned reviews "make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon" while independent analysis has shown that incentivized reviewers are much more likely to write positive reviews. This policy change does not apply to Amazon Vine which is a similar review program run by Amazon itself.
It wasn’t Gordon Gano who was the problem: it was me. I was listening with a ghostly eighteen year old ex-boyfriend at my shoulder, and behind him, a chorus of snarling early eighties NME journalists, all ready to jeer, because even if I like the Violent Femmes, I’ll like them in the wrong way. JK Rowling takes up ramalbumclub's challenge of listening to a well known album for the the first time and then writing about it: Violent Femmes from 1983. [more inside]
Ian Parker writes about The New York Times' restaurant reviewer: Pete Wells Has His Knives Out
Previously, previously, previously.
Previously, previously, previously.
Writing for the BBC, Lucy Scholes lists "Ten 'Lost' Books You Should Read Now," starting with Teffi's Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea. An excerpt from Memories appeared in The New Yorker in 2014, and a recent article there provided additional background for that book as well as the collection of which the essay "My Dinner with Rasputin" is a part. [more inside]
Five years after Radiohead's last album, myriad hints from the band marked May 1st -- Dawn Chorus Day -- as the date something big was gonna happen. The band ateased the web with rumours_of songs new and old, cryptic artwork, ominous mailers. But after years of waiting, nothing came... literally. Optimistic fans trying to pick up every last crumb_were left climbing up the walls_as they were shown how to disappear completely, with the band's official site and social media fading out
again, slowly dissolving little by little, one by one, before their very eyes.
It all came back Tuesday, as mysterious chirps and inkblots ushered in the sinister claymation music video for long-awaited track "Burn the Witch" [prev.], followed days later by an arresting P.T. Anderson-directed film for the somber elegy "Daydreaming."
While Radiohead's ninth album is not here now physically till June, it's available for download come 8th May_(today!) at 2 PM EDT on Radiohead.com.
It's gonna be a glorious day. [more inside]
A Comics Geek's Verdict on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by Jordan Hoffman [The Guardian] Ben Affleck is great and Wonder Woman nearly steals the show, but there’s plenty in Zack Snyder’s mash-up to make superfans fret. Including, film-maker’s Kryptonite!: very bad writing. [Warning: Reviews Contains SPOILERS!!] [more inside]
"The Complete Review, “a selectively comprehensive, objectively opinionated survey of books old and new,” sits on the margins of the literary world, where it has flourished for sixteen years. As of last Friday, according to an analog counter on the site’s decidedly unglamorous homepage, it had reviewed three thousand six hundred and eighty-seven books, from a hundred different countries, originally published in sixty-eight different languages—an average of two hundred and thirty books a year. Virtually all of this criticism, and everything else on the Complete Review, is the work of Michael A. Orthofer, a fifty-one-year-old lawyer who was born in Graz, Austria, and brought up in New York City. " [more inside]
"From culinary scholarship to crowd sourced culinary brands emerging, 2015 has given us so much to be proud of. The following is a year in review that highlights some of the best parts of the sea change we’ve seen in the world of black foodways." Chef Therese Nelson presents "Black Culinary History Year in Review 2015." Via Michael Twitty.
Debate erupts as Hanya Yanagihara's editor takes on critic over bad review of A Little Life. [The Guardian] The editor of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel A Little Life has taken to the pages of the New York Review of Books to defend his author from a review that claimed the novel “duped” its readers “into confusing anguish and ecstasy, pleasure and pain”. [more inside]
I want to complain to the studio execs who commissioned the current season of "21st century"; your show is broken. I say this as a viewer coming in with low expectations. ... Whose idea was it to hire the ghosts of Philip K. Dick and George Orwell as showrunners anyway? A review of the current season of reality by noted author (and MeFi's own) Charlie Stross.
"Right around the time I first joined the cast of Under the Dome, I was smoking a bowl with the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey."-a review of sorts of the final episode and series of the American tv show.
The Mysterious, Anonymous Author Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels [Vanity Fair]
Passions run high when you’re talking about Elena Ferrante and her work, particularly her sensational, highly addictive Neapolitan novels, which paint a portrait of a consuming female friendship against the backdrop of social and political upheaval in Italy from the 1950s to the present day. My Brilliant Friend,The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay have made Ferrante, an enigmatic figure who writes under a pseudonym, and is widely regarded as the best contemporary novelist you’ve never heard of, a worldwide sensation.[more inside]
Four scathing restaurant reviews (Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Chef's Table, and Masa) for the price of one! Or for the price of $3569.63, to be more accurate. In which Harper's intrepid restaurant critic gleefully excoriates to the dreams and excesses of New York’s most fashionable eateries.
A Zoomorphic Performance: Joaquin Phoenix in P.T. Anderson’s The Master, Daniel Fairfax [more inside]
J. A. Micheline on The White Privilege, White Audacity, and White Priorities of STRANGE FRUIT #1:
I was hardly surprised to find that for every white person who says something racist, there is always either (a) a white person to tell the other white person that they're wrong or (b) a black person to say nothing and show no resistance. (b) happens only once, while (a) happens pretty much throughout the work. It's a perspective common to stories of racism written by whites — in order to make white audiences comfortable, white creators (of any medium) frequently show that "not all whites" were pro-slavery or racist. It is simply inconceivable to write a story in which every white person is racist, because, in their minds, how could that possibly be true? You set the Klan up, the obvious racists, just to knock them down with white saviors, to remind readers/audiences that whites are still good people and knew better and wanted to help.[more inside]
...can I help you with that? PLOS (The Public Library of Science) gets rid of reviewer and editor as a result of sexist statements, from Science Insider; Retraction Watch's summary. Here's the direct link to the apology and update on peer review policy from the PLOS ONE blog. Finally, this story gets the BuzzFeed treatment, plus some of the scientific community's responses using the hashtag AddMaleAuthorGate (additional examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, and the Microsoft Assistant paperclip: 5)
Every April for the past several years, Fantasy Cafe has published a series of guest posts for Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy Month. This year, the article that generated the most discussion was "'I am ... ?': Representation of Mature Women in Fantasy" by Mieneke from A Fantastical Librarian, who asked, "So where are the older women in fantasy? Mature women who are the hero of their own story?" The many other guest posts this year offered an interesting range of questions, observations, and reflections--often by well-known names in the field. [more inside]
The Trouble with Clint by Jacob Krell [Los Angeles Review of Books]
“Clint Eastwood is many things to many people, but contemporary critics tend to agree that he is an auteur, i.e., someone with real directorial insight, care, and reach, someone whose individual artistic stamp can and should be used as a heuristic lens. Insofar as so much of his early career as an actor found him traipsing through the storied landscapes of American westerns and action films, it’s hardly surprising that Eastwood’s own directorial mark is often constituted through toying with genre, as he’s done with the western, to acclaimed effect (Unforgiven); with the boxing drama, to acclaimed (and deeply manipulative) effect (Million Dollar Baby); and with the B-movie, to effect somewhere between perplexing and appalling (Gran Torino).”Previously. Previously. Previously.
What are the most disturbing novels? [The Guardian] [Books] Guardian Books discusses disturbing reads:
"Bret Easton Ellis has haunted some of our readers for days, and on the books desk we’re still getting over certain depictions of dangerous obsessions and hellish orgies. Which fiction has most unnerved you?"
A bulbous, friendly little thing - The Verge’s Nilay Patel spends a day with the Apple Watch. [more inside]
Restaurant Review: Kappo Masa on the Upper East Side: The cost of eating at Kappo Masa is so brutally, illogically, relentlessly high, and so out of proportion to any pleasure you may get, that large numbers start to seem like uninvited and poorly behaved guests at the table. [more inside]
"Here’s an understatement for you: 2014 was a great year for beer. Seriously, it’s hard to put into words just how awesome American craft beer was this year. IPAs got sessionable, then they got fresh-hopped, breweries collaborated like hip hop moguls, older (let’s call them classic?) breweries reinvented themselves with ambitious experiments while young breweries helped push the envelope of style and taste…there were hundreds, probably thousands of new beers hitting the shelves and taps all year long, challenging our palates and expectations day after day. It’s an exciting time to be alive."
Trick or Treat? Anchor Brewing's Bob Brewer on pumpkin beers and why Anchor hasn't produced one.
Pumpkins, by themselves have very little – if any – real flavor that will survive brewing and fermentation. It’s sort of the “tofu” of the squash world in that it tastes like what you put on or into it. The flavor that everyone associates with pumpkins is pumpkin pie. What we are tasting in a pumpkin pie is actually the huge load of sugar dumped into it along with the allspice, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, ginger and other spices.[more inside]
When a bad review of her first novel appeared online, Kathleen Hale was warned not to respond. But she soon found herself wading in (The Guardian)
Scared Yet? is a creepypasta review series produced by Kris Straub, himself the creator of the infamous "Candle Cove" creepypasta. Episodes one, two, three, and four critique "Jeff the Killer," the SCP Foundation, "The Russian Sleep Experiment," and The Josef K. Stories, respectively. [more inside]
The New York Review of Books recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding (previously), growing out of an alliance between Harpers editor Robert Silvers and writer Elizabeth Hardwick to find a place for what she called "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting." Known as the New York Review or the NYRB, it is also known to fans as the best magazine in the world. Next Monday, HBO will air The 50-Year Argument, a documentary by Martin Scorsese about the history of the magazine and what makes it special. [more inside]
Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.[more inside]
Authors can choose to respond to reviews in many ways. This is a bad choice. Found at the LJ of James Nicoll.
Uncomfortable in His Own Skin ‘Your Face in Mine,’ by Jess Row, a Novel About Changing Race: [New York Times]
"When literary fiction dares examine the issue of race at all, it is usually done in an exceedingly tone-deaf way (think William Styron’s Confessions Of Nat Turner or Kathryn Stockett’s The Help) or from a somewhat safe remove (think Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue). It always seems as if the story is accompanied by a blaring announcement that it’s time for this (white) protagonist to learn something. Sometimes the pedantic drum-banging can get so excessive it drowns out everything else, including the inclination to tell a good story. If nothing else, the debut novel from Jess Row, Your Face In Mine, is a refreshing plunge into the deep end of the race conversation." [A.V. Club][more inside]
YouTube theater critic Iain Armitage has never given a bad review. He's six years old. [more inside]
Deep Chords: Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ [New York Times] Patti Smith reviews Haruki Murakami's latest novel. Book Trailer
A NY hotel fines guests $500 for negative reviews. The press notices. Yelpers take revenge -- a dozen or so reviews this morning have turned into more than 200 at the moment, warning of, among other things, a "MAJOR SPIDER INFESTATION."
"Since first opening in 1934 in a converted sheepfold off 67th Street, on the western edge of Central Park, the storied franchise (which is still licensed by the Parks Department) has been a reliable hit. Joe Baum put the restaurant on the national culinary map during the 1960s, and when Warner LeRoy doubled the capacity several years later and added the famous Crystal Room, it became one of the great circus-dining destinations in the world. LeRoy’s heirs ran the profitable old production for years (in 2006, it was still the second-highest-grossing restaurant in the USA, behind Tao Las Vegas), until the great crash of 2008 brought their company to its knees. Now, after years of drama and delay, Tavern on the Green has opened its doors once again, this time under the direction of a hospitality operation originally from Philadelphia called the Emerald Green Group. " So begins Adam Platt's zero star review of the re-opened Tavern On The Green. Others have not been glowing. Even the Post got a few kicks in. Peter Wells' scathing takedown in the New York Times might be better experienced with some happy sheep.
To be fair, I did watch someone play most of the game. Many of those moments repeatedly. And if I wasn’t in the room, the plaintive “Nooooo” that would echo from the living area told me that I’d be able to see whatever it was in another ten minutes. And probably again another twenty after that. And another twenty after that.Kristin Bezio reviews Dark Souls through her husband's gameplay
"When True Blood premiered on HBO almost six years ago, in 2008, the final Twilight book had just been published, breaking records left and right. The gleam's come off since then, off vampires in general and but especially this show, but I believe it still has some things to tell us. Things about philosophy, America, the existence of faith in a secular world. People fucking all kinds of different ways. Sometimes all of these topics at the same time." Jacob Clifton recaps and reviews the Six and a half seasons of True Blood so far, trying to suss out what we can learn from Sookie Stackhouse's many boyfriends.
The problem with false feminism: "My friends have asked for it and I feel like the internet needs it, so I’m going to go through, point-by-point and in no particular order, the top handful of reasons people have given for thinking Frozen is a feminist triumph, and I’m going to debunk them all." [more inside]
Kyle Kallgren finishes "Shakespeare Month" on his art house movie review series "Brows Held High" (previously) with a smashing take down of Roland Emmerich's 2011 Shakespeare-was-a-fraud conspiracy thriller "Anonymous". [more inside]
Andrew Collins started a blog in July 2013 - Circles of Life: The 143 - he's about half way through now. [more inside]
Why Tina of Bob's Burgers Can't Be Ignored
"The eldest Belcher child is a unique character in the world of modern television. And this is a very good thing."
"The eldest Belcher child is a unique character in the world of modern television. And this is a very good thing."
Comedian Andy Daly is an expert at creating naive, offbeat characters with dark secrets. He has appeared in many places (and this AV Club article walks through them all in an interview with Daly), but now has his own show, Review on Comedy Central, in which his character, Forrest, reviews life experiences, from eating 30 pancakes to divorce to being Batman. All 8 of the episodes so far are now online, the funny/dark/uncomfortable parts really start with episode 3: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Andy Daly is also a comedy podcast regular, and ran a one-off series where he played a different character every week (the amazing one where he plays a German travel writer, with many other comedians as guests, is a good place to start).
Introducing Sociology: Tim Kreider's influential 1999 essay (previously) on how Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut uses sex and infidelity to cover up a story of greed and murder by the elite gets a brand new afterward by the author to introduce a new site for his non-fiction writing, TimKreider.com
Why We’re in a New Gilded Age Paul Krugman reviews Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, and discusses the renewal of the importance of capital in preserving inequality across generations.