Lessons Learned: A Marching Band and Cheerleaders Makes Everything Better

Presented by Pepsi

Turns out, the easiest way to get fans excited for Super Bowl XLIX’s Pepsi Halftime Show (or maybe anything) is to include cheerleaders, a marching band, and free food. Flavorpill teamed up with Pepsi and GrubHub/Seamless to reward football fans with a catered spread and full-on halftime show during playoffs — and the Big Game this weekend. Check out footage from our nationwide delivery blitz below, and get hyped for #Halftime yourself! … Read More

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Why Sweden Sucks: On Michael Booth’s ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People’

When Mashable ran a story on “hygge” in December 2014, it ended up running around my social media feeds as the ultimate way to get through winter: cozy up, just like the Danes do! There’s no direct English translation of how exactly to get the feeling of hygge, but it amounted to, in short, lighting some candles and drinking some mulled wine, in what may be your beautifully minimalist yet folksy outdoor cabin on the water, in the most Danish and Scandinavian embrace of a small, warm place in the middle of winter. … Read More

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Why Kanye West, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney’s “FourFiveSeconds” Left Me Disappointed

This weekend, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney released “FourFiveSeconds,” a stripped-down, soulful jam. Rihanna delivers one of her best vocal performances ever atop an acoustic guitar hook — seemingly from Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth — that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ed Sheeran album. Kanye sings — sans AutoTune — with a defiant streak audible in his voice, about spending the night in jail (a true story, mind you) and the public coming for his pride. An organ, likely played by McCartney, and a hearty choir of voices flesh out the sound and give “FourFiveSeconds” a gospel feel as it progresses. … Read More

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The Oppressive Softness of ‘The Duke of Burgundy’

I watched The Duke of Burgundy with someone who experiences ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), whereby certain stimuli that brush against the threshold of nonexistence create a tingling sensation in one’s upper body; it’s said to be pleasant. Some typical ASMR triggers — which have become something of a YouTube phenomenon — include running water, the rustling or crunching of leaves, personal attention (like being measured, getting one’s hair cut), and whispering, all of which are used in hypnotically controlling repetition by writer/director Peter Strickland throughout the film. Strickland also adds some new triggers to the mix, such as popping soap bubbles, and, more strangely, the high-frequency sounds certain moths’ genitals make to confuse approaching, echolocating bats. … Read More

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Spy Novels, Mice Brains, and the Neuroscience of Pleasure: Ned Beauman on ‘Glow’

There are some go-to mentionables about the novelist Ned Beauman, snippets or shorthand remarks that are true but work to obscure his literary gifts and value. It is often pointed out, for example, that Beauman was the youngest writer on Granta’s Best Young British Novelists of 2013. And it is now a given that his first two novels — Boxer, Beetle and The Teleportation Accident — recall the work of William Gibson and Thomas Pynchon. Both of these are fine things to write or say — and Beauman is unfailingly modest, a writer who is genuinely humbled to hear such things — but for me they don’t quite get at the consistency or quality of his work. Time after time, Beauman is able to capture a milieu, or totally invent one, in fleet, intelligent prose that is somehow analytic, beautiful, and comic all at the same time. When a new novel by Beauman arrives, I open it knowing that I’m going to be swept into an engaging, possibly ecstatic plot. I also know that I’ll be quoting it to all of my friends. … Read More

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Sundance 2015: Baumbach and Gerwig’s ‘Mistress America’ Looks Behind the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Mask

PARK CITY, UT: “I could only agree with her,” Tracy says of Brooke, in the opening moments of Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America. “It was too much fun to agree with her.” Tracy (Lola Kirke) is a college freshman, failing (and frankly, not trying all that hard) to fit in at Barnard. Brooke (Greta Gerwig) is her older future sister-in-law, a whirling dervish, jazzy and odd and prone to non sequitur. She’s comfortable and confident and all the things that Tracy’s not, so it’s easy to see how Tracy both idolizes and idealizes her. If that were all that was happening in Mistress America, it’d still be worth seeing; it’s got a fast pace and screwball spirit, and is the closest thing Baumbach’s done to pure comedy since his peerless debut picture Kicking and Screaming. But there’s a lot more going on here than just laughs. … Read More

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‘The Hunting Ground’ and ‘Hot Girls Wanted': Sundance Docs Investigate the Sexual Exploitation of Young Women

PARK CITY, UT: Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s The Hunting Ground starts on a note of deceptive hopefulness. To the familiar and triumphant strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” we see YouTube and home video images of hopeful high school seniors finding out that they’ve been accepted to their schools of their dreams. We see addresses and welcoming speeches from university administrators, promising them that these will be the most important and memorable years of their lives. It’s all light and exciting and even funny — and then they drop the hammer. The film’s title comes from an offhand mention by an interview subject, a rape survivor. It seems an apt description for how the rapist sees a college campus, and perhaps even for society at large, as another Sundance documentary called Hot Girls Wanted reiterates that the sexual exploitation of young women is not just an epidemic, but an industry. … Read More

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‘Grantchester’ Episode 2 Recap

A party at a country house. A purloined ring. Murder and seduction. This is the week that Grantchester gets really juicy as the mystery surrounds Sidney and his sister’s friends from school, a universally snobby lot who all act like they’ve got something to hide. The occasion for their gathering? Amanda’s engagement party, which Sidney is loath to attend — given his feelings for the bride — but for his sister’s pleas. … Read More

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‘Girls’ Season 4 Episode 3 Recap: “Female Author”

It’s about damn time Girls gave us a reason to root for Marnie. “Female Author” is enough to make us remember the show’s early days, when Marnie didn’t just have her life together—she had her life orders of magnitude more together than any of her friends. After months upon months of mortifying office parties and kitchen sink rim jobs, the put-together gallerist we once knew was all but forgotten. And then we got this episode, which sees Marnie make real, concrete, hopefully possibly lasting progress, personally and professionally. Who knew she had it in her—or more importantly, that the writers’ room would let her have it? … Read More

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10 Science Fiction Illustrators You Should Know

We’ve been big fans of Swedish illustrator, animator, and graphic designer Kilian Eng for some time. Eng’s science fiction-inspired artworks are architectural, elegant, and punctuated with electrifying colors. They also channel the iconic illustrators from the past — especially French legend Moebius. It’s no wonder the artist’s monograph Object 5 has been out of print, but publisher Floating World Comics has reissued the book as a European album hardcover with 16 new pages of art. Eng’s style has us nostalgic for some of the sci-fi illustration greats we love. Here are ten you should know. … Read More

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