Leonard Michaels' "The Zipper": Rita Hayworth is never seen disrobed in the movie, though it is threatened more than once. The atmosphere of dark repression and mysterious forces – the mood or feeling of the movie – might be destroyed by the revelation of her body. It scared me as she began her striptease dance in the nightclub. I didn’t want everybody to see her body, or even to see that Rita Hayworth had a body. [more inside]
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix. Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
Every Monday The Library of America features a free Story of the Week. It could be anything -- a short work of fiction, a character sketch, an essay, a journalist’s dispatch, a poem -- taken from from one of the hundreds of classic books in the LoA collection. Archive of 83 weeks so far.
Weekend At Kermie's: The Muppets' Strange Life After Death. Elizabeth Stevens asks:
What if, in 1990, instead of recasting Kermit—something that had been done to Mickey and Bugs Bunny before him—the Muppets had continued on Kermit-less, as "The Simpsons" did after Phil Hartman died. Recall Susan’s words on "Seasame Street" about Mr. Hooper in 1982: “Big Bird, when people die, they don’t come back.” Let’s say Robin showed up saying his uncle Kermit had passed away? Or, if that was too dark for Disney, what if Kermit had left show business to go off to start a family with Piggy? Someone else could lead the gang of weirdoes..
It would’ve made more artistic sense than what happened
So, I have come to take back the knife on behalf of us prudes, who quite often are only reserved, shy, terribly square people whose native restraint and weak knees are, in fact, generally accompanied by a deep love of personal freedom and diversity of opinion. Prudery comes in for a lot of flak because people imagine that the prudes want to impose limitations on the behavior of others, but they particularly, especially do not. The wimpy and yikes-prone, far from wishing to restrict or even to express an opinion regarding anyone else's private practices, are in reality possessed of a fervent, if doomed, desire to know as little about them as possible.
In Defense of Prudes, an essay by Maria Bustillos, from the Awl.
In Defense of Prudes, an essay by Maria Bustillos, from the Awl.
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
John Hyduk, a middle aged blue collar worker in Cleveland, writes about his daily existence.
"Bachmann's entire political career has followed this exact same pattern of God-speaks-directly-to-me fundamentalism mixed with pathological, relentless, conscienceless lying. She's not a liar in the traditional way of politicians, who tend to lie dully, usefully and (they hope) believably, often with the aim of courting competing demographics at the same time. That's not what Bachmann's thing is."- Michele Bachmann's Holy War - Matt Tabbi - Rolling Stone
"Apocalypses are not only catastrophes; they are also opportunities: chances for us to see ourselves, to change."
Apocalypse: What Disasters Reveal: An essay by Junot Díaz.
The Survivor. "When your family is murdered, and the home you had made together is destroyed, and you yourself are beaten and left for dead — as happened to Bill Petit on the morning of July 23, 2007 — it may as well be the end of the world. It is hard to see how a man survives the end of the world. The basics of life — waking up, walking, talking — become alien tasks, and almost impossibly heavy, as you are more dead than alive. Just how does a man go about surviving such a thing? How does a man go on? ... Why does one man come undone while the next finds a way to make it through?" [more inside]
"For five cents Coney Island will feed you, frighten you, cool you, toast you, flatter you, or destroy your inhibitions. And in this nickel empire boy meets girl." [more inside]
Jonathan Franzen's essay, excerpted from his commencement speech at Kenyon College says, among other things "To speak more generally, the ultimate goal of technology... is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes ... with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self." [more inside]
50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
Cranking. "She couldn't really help my Dad. My Dad couldn't really help her. But they sure tried. She cranked and cranked. I was seven. I didn't know how to help anyone." - A brief essay on life, happiness and work by Merlin Mann.
What Is to Be Done? Tim Kreider of The Pain muses about the future of cartooning as a payable profession
"I've been eating two family-size bags [chips/crisps] a day for two years, and little else for the past decade." Via: The Guardian.
"As Woody Guthrie put it seventy years ago: California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see. / But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot / If you ain't got the do re mi. My father, who risked all our do re mi in pursuit of his own California dream, is a case in point."
Cartoonist Tim Kreider (previously, previously) of The Pain talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
My Above-Average Stroke. From November 2010, Garrison Keillor writing about the stroke he suffered in 2009. [more inside]
Hate Man. "How a New York Times reporter dropped out and became a hate evangelist in Berkeley." [more inside]
"For those of us who dreamed of trips to Mars, the trouble with our times, as Paul Valery once said, is that the future is not what it used to be."
The Someone You're Not: "Our packed prisons are starting to disgorge hundreds of mostly African-American men who, over the last few decades, we wrongly convicted of violent crimes. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years in prison for something you didn't do. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years as someone you aren't. And for Ray Towler, this is what it's like to be free." Via. [more inside]
Fifteen years after we broke up, my ex-boyfriend published a book of poetry. ... For months, the slim book sat on my shelf like an awkward houseguest. Then, one quiet night, something nudged me out of my inertia, or dread, and I settled into bed with his book. And there I was.
Los Angeles Plays Itself is a dazzling cinematic essay by the filmmaker Thom Andersen about how the city of Los Angeles is portrayed in films. Watch it now on YouTube: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 [more inside]
Why I call myself a socialist, by Wallace Shawn.
The Hot Spotters examines the possibilities of a strange new approach to health care: to look for the most expensive patients in the system and then direct resources and brainpower toward helping them. — by Atul Gawande [more inside]
Born This Way! Photo/essay submissions that capture men and women, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate gay selves.
"On GChat, I type many things – sincere and not – that I would never say in person because it’s easy, when typing certain things into a box, to forget whom you are typing to." From Thought Catalog, writer Caroline Bankoff lists 45 things she thinks about when she thinks about google's chat service. [more inside]
Why does Futura work here but Slanted Futura doesn't? Enter FONTS IN USE: A breakdown, explanation and appreciation of type design out in the real world.
At first glance it may seem mediocre but over time you see why such a vehicle would inspire so much loyalty and devotion.
During the month of December, tor.com has been publishing essays on the Twelve Doctors of Christmas. Today artist Pia Guerra gives us the gift of an extended metaphor: the fifth Doctor as a Volvo. [more inside]
From June until August they hid out in their camp in the scrub oak up in the foothills, avoiding the search parties. Then they began coming down into the city by day, passing within a quarter-mile of Elizabeth's home. They walked the streets dressed as religious pilgrims from the New Testament. Mitchell had a long beard and a walking stick. Elizabeth and Wanda covered everything but their eyes. And no one figured it out. This American Life contributor Scott Carrier profiles the Messianic cult of Brian David Mitchell, the abductor of 2002 media icon Elizabeth Smart.
Working on the Ending. Writer Gail Godwin reflects on the way she works now: "Inevitable for the old writer is the slowdown of word retrieval... All it once took was the slightest tug at the bell for the vigorous servant, accompanied by backup synonyms, to report for duty... You can rail at your 'senior moment' like those tiresome people who bring a conversation to a halt because they can’t remember the name of a place or person... Or you can leave a blank, to be filled in later... For me, a consolation prize of word delay has been an increased intolerance for the threadbare phrase. I don’t want anyone on my pages to 'burst into tears' or 'just perceptibly' do anything, ever again."
What Matters (Flash based) is a book published in 2008 combining imagery and essays to tell stories highlighting contemporary issues benefiting from both images and text. The book was edited and curated by David Elliot Cohen (Wikipedia) including 17 essays (TOC, pdf) covering such issues as the Price of Oil Addiction (pdf) and Shop till You Drop (pdf). The complete book is available for free as a series of PDF documents. [more inside]
“It is my hope that this essay will initiate such a conversation. As for me, I'm planning to retire. I'm tired of helping you make your students look competent.”
They Live, John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic, is a fairly subversive piece of work. The film, which combines sci-fi, horror and satire -- and includes one of the iconic fight scenes in movie history -- is an allegorical treatise on the evils of capitalism, set in a Los Angeles populated by evil, conspiratorial and wealthy aliens. The film, despite a mixed original reception, has developed a rabid fan-boy following over the last few decades, and now Jonathan Lethem, the author of "Motherless Brooklyn," "The Fortress of Solitude" and, more recently, "Chronic City" has written "They Live," a meticulous, scene-by-scene analysis of its many, many layers.
Game designer Raphael "Raph" Koster (Wiki) has republished his essay "The Fundamentals of Game Design." Koster was the lead designer for the progenitorial (and, in its time, wildly successful) MMORPG Ultima Online.
How downloading music has literally saved my life: a lightly punctuated personal essay about obesity and compulsion.
I didn’t put much stock in the possibility that a Dominican spiritualist working out of a basement in Union City, New Jersey, would have much to say about a lampshade that might have been made from human skin in a Nazi concentration camp. But there I was.... (via)
"Places like Picher are why Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980—better known as the Superfund bill." - Wired Magazine on the most toxic town in America, Picher, OK , and the people who still live there