I Saw Shamir’s Aura, But Will It Survive Fame?

Shamir Bailey doesn’t mind having the New Age tell him who he is. Though he may eschew most forms of categorization, the singer doesn’t resist the vague boxes that astrology, tarot cards, and aura readings put people in. It seems he even enjoys them. His Twitter, where he’s been known to assert his defiance of the confines of gender and sexuality, is linked in to a “Twittascope” that tweets Scorpio horoscopes, daily, onto his feed. Though he was raised under the Nation of Islam, the religion was more of a family heirloom than anything else, and he now considers himself more generally, universe-worshippingly… Read More

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Why Do We Re-Read Our Favorite Books as Kids, and Why Do We Stop When We Get Older?

As an avid young reader, I tore through every Nancy Drew book — both the originals and the cheap paperback updates — twice, experiencing my favorites up to five or six times. Even more sacred was my semi-annual ritual of re-experiencing all of L.M. Montgomery’s major novels, including the entire eight-book Anne of Green Gables series, alternating with my personal favorite, Emily of New Moon, and its two sequels. For weeks I would go back to Prince Edward Island and dwell with those characters. This journey was supplemented by a solemn re-reading of The Lord of the Rings every four or five years, an experience so intense that my dreams would begin to look like Peter Jackson’s set designs, even before those designs existed. As I got older, I switched out some of these childhood classics for adult ones, going back through the “Austen six” again and again, while also making a point of re-watching my favorite Austen miniseries and the Lord of the Rings films in marathon fashion. … Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Finale Recap: “You Can’t Take Command”

Scandal‘s season four finale hit the reset button in a very necessary way: B613 has been dismantled, Rowan has been locked up (for now), and Olivia chose Fitz. But there is a shiny, new x-factor here that makes season five look like a new frontier: Mellie Grant has left the building. With a finale like “You Can’t Take Command,” why even bother with a cliffhanger? … Read More

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‘Louie’ Season 5 Episode 6 Recap: ‘Sleepover’

A fair number of people have fallen out of love with Louie over the past couple of seasons, and while I don’t agree, I can’t say I don’t understand. It has, after all, gone from a comedy with dramatic beats to something closer to a seriocomic drama—which this viewer enjoys, and thinks it does well, but is the kind of tonal shift that’ll alienate some people no matter how adroitly it’s executed. And when you look at these two seasons in toto, it becomes clear how much of that shift coincides with the accelerating importance of Pamela—both the character, and Pamela Adlon, who plays her. Increasingly, I’ve come to believe that the real value of Louie, and one of its lasting legacies, may very well be that you just don’t see television shows (or films) tacking a relationship that’s this goddamn complicated. … Read More

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‘Mad Men,’ Mad Science, and Dying Bees: Links You Need to See

Today was a big day in tech. Not because of any eagerly anticipated reveal of an upgraded Smartwatch, but because you can now fly above Manhattan like a bird, thanks to this Oculus thing (as Gothamist calls it) at the Museum of the Moving Image (through Fri-Sun, June 7th), and because this little 3-D printed robot can crack a combination lock in 30 seconds and not even break a sweat. Hacker Samy Kamkar came up with robot idea, built the whole thing for about $100, and then published the blueprint and software code, along with a How-To video, on the Internet. Masterlocks everywhere are cowering in fear. … Read More

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Anton Chekhov’s Hysterical First Book Is Published After 130 Years

If you have never heard of Antosha Chekhonte, the brilliant parodist who published sharp, persistently hilarious sketches in Russian humor magazines (like The Alarm Clock and Dragonfly) during the late 1870s and early 1880s — well, you’re forgiven. Chekhonte, if you didn’t guess right away, was actually the young Anton Chekhov, and his first book of writings, The Prank, has never been published. Thankfully, this mess will be corrected this July when the New York Review of Books releases the slim book — a collection that Chekhov meant to usher his breakthrough into wider literary fame — for the first time in more than 130 years. … Read More

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ABC’s Fall 2015 Lineup: Muppets, Diversity, and Murder

Unlike the other three Big Four networks, ABC is satisfied just the way it is — and for good reason. Last season, the network found success (in both ratings and quality) with a smart combination of diverse family sitcoms, Shonda Rhimes dramas, and Marvel Universe thrillers. The network is so confident in its stability that three of its lineups will remain unchanged going into the next TV season: Monday (Dancing With the Stars/The Bachelor and Castle), Wednesday (family sitcoms galore), and Thursdays (Shonda’s night!). The network is also introducing new shows, of course, and we’ve got the rundown on all the trailers. … Read More

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Feminist Writers on the ‘Mad Men’ Moments That Made Them Cheer and Broke Their Hearts

Whether or not it was a “feminist show,” Mad Men broke ground by zooming in on the experiences of women, specifically experiences related to misogyny. From office hostility to restrictive roles in suburbia to power dynamics on dates and in marriages, the show left no stone of sexism unturned. As a result, recaps, essays, and water-cooler discussions about the show became an entryway to talking about all kind of gender-related issues. For a large group of writers — one that included but wasn’t limited to TV critics — Mad Men helped fuel discussions on sex, rape culture, harassment, internalized sexism, race, class, reproductive rights, sex work and more. So, as the show draws to a close, we asked some of our favorite feminist writers to name a moment or plot arc from that resonated with… Read More

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‘Mad Max: Fury Road': Fast, Thrilling, and (Yes) Feminist

The production company logos that open George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road are accompanied by the deep rumbling of a loudly revving engine — and good luck finding a more appropriate starter pistol for this movie, which is like a machine that roars at full throttle for two solid hours. Miller’s last entry in the Max franchise, which has run the gamut from grubby low-budget exploitation movie to pricey studio blockbuster, was 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome, where (in something of an artistic suicide) he saved the series’ signature motif of tricked-out post-apocalyptic vehicles roaring across the desert plain for the final 20 minutes of the movie. No such restraint is shown here. Fury Road is for all intents and purposes a 120-minute chase, where the focal vehicle must keep moving, and thus, so must the movie. But there’s more happening here than empty spectacle, which has drawn the ire of some of the Internet’s more odious commentators. … Read More

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How ‘Pitch Perfect’ Helped A Cappella Hit a High Note in the Mainstream

If there is one thing you learn at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), it’s that there are a lot of ways to wear a vest. The vest, you see, is part of the changing uniform of the a cappella group. While perfectly matching (and perfectly dorky) bow ties, khaki pants, and suit jackets were once the preferred aesthetic of a cappella and its innumerable male groups from across the Ivy League, the sound’s “cool” new look involves coordinating trends across a singular color palette and a renewed sense of individuality. There were more pleather skirts on stage at this past April’s ICCA Finals than there are at a Forever 21. And don’t even get me started on the University of Michigan G-Men, who wear numbered soccer jerseys while covering Alt-J and employing mouth percussionists so frighteningly guttural, you’ll swear there’s some sort of woodland mammal among their ranks. … Read More

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