buzz

Why Book Criticism and Literary Culture Needs a Poptimist Revolution

When bestselling author Jennifer Weiner was profiled by The New Yorker in January 2014 in an article called “Written Off,” writer Rebecca Mead made sure to outline Weiner’s two audiences: one, the loyal readers of her books, who propel them onto the best-seller list, and number two, a pricklier sort, consisting of the “writers, editors, and critics… who have given Weiner a parallel notoriety, as an unlikely feminist enforcer.” The short version is that, through Twitter (and her following, which currently numbers about 93K), Weiner used her platform to needle such august institutions as The New York Times Book Review and everyplace else with mediocre VIDA counts regarding the amounts of space they give to reviewing and considering the three books that “matter” for the season written by male authors like Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, while simultaneously ignoring the span of women’s writing, and, additionally, commercial fiction. … Read More

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10 Great Movies to Stream This Holiday Weekend

The Labor Day weekend doesn’t begin until end of day tomorrow, but c’mon, who’re we kidding — you’ve already checked out for the week, and it’s time to start making plans. And while we know some of you (shudder) sociable types will be heading out to lakes and barbeques and such destinations to enjoy the end of another summer, we’re catering (as usual) to the shut-ins, who’re taking the three day holiday weekend to catch up on some long-delayed nothing-doing. So here are a few of the recent(ish) additions to Netflix and Amazon Prime to add to your holiday weekend viewing lists; just click the title link to watch them right now. … Read More

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‘Infinite Jest,’ Recreated in Lego by an 11-Year-Old

This might be the best thing you’ll see on the internet all day. Earlier this year, English professor Kevin Griffith and his 11-year-old son Sebastian started Brickjest, a project in which they aimed to “translate” David Foster Wallace’s postmodernist classic Infinite Jest into Lego form. The final product has some 100 images, each of Lego scenes created by Sebastian based on his father’s descriptions. According to their website, the pair “first envisioned translating David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest into Lego after reading The Brick Bible, by Brendan Powell Smith. Wallace’s novel is probably the only contemporary text to offer a similar challenge to artists working in the medium of Lego.” Well, they certainly met the challenge. After the jump, check out a few of the best scenes, and then head on over to Brickjest to see the whole project. … Read More

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25 Must-See Movies For the Fall

Hey there reader, been to the movies lately? If the box office reports are any indication, I’m guessing not — and who can blame you? We’re currently in the weird dead zone between the tentpole blockbusters of the summer and the prestige, Oscar-friendly pictures (and, increasingly, tentpole blockbusters) of the fall. But relief will be here soon enough, so in the interest of helping you mark up your movie-going calendar, we’re looking ahead to the fall films we’re anticipating most. … Read More

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Between Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, Celebrity Feminism Is So Hot Right Now

The Taylor Swift pop machine is in full effect with the imminent fall release of her fifth album, 1989. She announced the album during last week’s live stream event, which also served as the debut of the single “Shake It Off,” (haters gonna hate, hate, hate, etc.) along with the Mark Romanek-directed video, which involved lots of awkward white girl dancing. She also said that the album was her first “documented pop album,” which in Swift-land, means that the former star of country radio has put together a suite of songs that will only play on Top 40 stations; and by my uneducated guess, will probably not get banjo-laden country station remixes, this time around. … Read More

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Andrew W.K. — A Philosopher for Our Times

If you’ve not been reading Andrew W.K.’s life advice column at the Village Voice, you’re really missing out. Since the start of the year, he’s been taking weekly questions from fans, and dispensing some fascinating and thoughtful answers. In particular, he’s garnered a great deal of attention for his response to “Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is A Right-Wing Asshole,” wherein he chided the questioner for defining his father as a political viewpoint and not a person. It was rightly lauded, and was also greeted with a measure of surprise: wait, the guy who wrote “Party Hard” also wrote this? The thing is, though, it’s always been worth taking Andrew W.K.’s ideas seriously. And reading through his column again this morning, it struck me: in Andrew W.K., we have a philosopher for these crazy times. … Read More

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Matt Sharp on The Rentals’ Future and the Weezer That Could Have Been

“My choices often have gone against probably what people have most wanted to hear out of me.” Matt Sharp tells me this towards the end of our hour-long conversation, which he conducted entirely from the parking lot of a Los Angeles Starbucks. Sometimes, as we spoke, it seemed as though Sharp’s mouth couldn’t keep up with his brain. Whatever the opposite of burnout is, Sharp’s there. He’s happy to be invited to the party, even if he’s the pessimist in the corner.

For the uninitiated, Sharp’s life in music is a long one that begins, at least publicly, in the alternative boom of the mid-’90. He was the original bassist in Weezer, playing on the band’s first two seminal albums, 1994’s The Blue Album and 1996’s Pinkerton. Between those two records, he formed The Rentals, a power-pop project for Moog enthusiasts and those with a strong sense of irony (their debut was called Return of The Rentals, after all). … Read More

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Why the Hell Does ‘Modern Family’ Keep Winning the Best Comedy Emmy?

There are certain traditions that we can count on in popular culture. Super Bowl parties. Oscar red carpet gawking. Beyoncé idolatry. MTV VMA hand-wringing. And every year, when the Primetime Emmys hand out their award for Outstanding Comedy Series, you can reliably depend on a nation of television viewers slapping their foreheads, gritting their teeth, and growling, “Jesus Christ, Modern Family AGAIN?!” And last night, as reliably as Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, ABC’s family sitcom won the prize for the fifth straight year. It has won every year it’s been on the air. Why, oh why, does this keep happening? … Read More

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“Problem,” “Royals,” and Other Pop Songs Transformed into Flowery Sonnets

Although the two forms of poetry were borne of vastly different eras, sonnets and pop songs actually have a lot in common: they follow a pretty standard formula, they’re short and sweet, and often, their subject is love. One blog noticed these similarities and fused them together into “Pop Sonnets,” rewriting the lyrics of pop songs into sonnet form. The results are hilarious and brilliant — Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea’s “Problem,” for instance, goes from “I should be wiser/ And realize that I’ve got/ One less problem without you,” to “I dream of days before our love was marred/ By infidelities and sordid lies/ — Too fanciful to learn that, should we part/ The load of problems’d lift off my heart.” Read the rest of “Problem’s” sonnet-ification below, along with updated poetic versions of “Call Me Maybe,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Stacy’s Mom,” and other pop gems. … Read More

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How the Sexual Progressivism of ‘True Blood’ Imploded on Itself

I knew True Blood‘s series finale was bound to be terrible when there was no nudity warning on HBO Go. Three seasons past its deserved expiration date, True Blood had long held my attention on the strength of Ryan Kwanten’s abs and little else, so what was the point of watching last night’s final installment without the promise of another Eric/Jason scene (or some other form of blatant fan service)? “Thank You” wasn’t a godawful conclusion for its simple lack of sex, though. For a show that made its name on sexual liberation, True Blood‘s finale felt retrograde, conservative, and bizarrely off-tone. … Read More

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