• FAO_Schwarz_by_Night

    Thu. May 28

    Toys “R” Us Owes Us a Better Explanation

    Erin Vargo

    News outlets reported earlier this month that FAO Schwarz would be closing shop at its Fifth Avenue location in July, leaving the iconic brand without a retail outlet—indefinitely. Toys “R” Us, the brand’s operating company since 2009, pointed to rising rent in midtown New York real estate as justification for the change in strategy. A spokesman assured the public that Toys “R” Us is actively searching for a new location elsewhere in midtown Manhattan; meanwhile, reports indicate that, in fact, the parent company broke its lease with Boston Properties two years early.

    While mourners flocked to the store to pay their respects, I found myself closer to the “anger” stage in the grieving process. The statement by Toys “R” Us executives struck me as disingenuous, and I’m disappointed by their glib attempt to shift the blame to rising real estate. Don’t insult the public’s intelligence, Toys “R” Us: Why,…

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    Culture

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  • soleman-750xx1920-1080-0-0

    Thu. May 28

    Sonny Vaccaro: The ‘Sole Man’ of Round Ball

    R. J. Moeller

    The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network—ESPN, to you—recently parted ways with Bill Simmons, one of their brightest media stars. The internal politics of that dispute aside, Simmons’ legacy at “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” network is secure if for no other reason than that he is the party responsible for the network’s 30 for 30 documentary series.

    These 60-to-90-minute features are fascinating, in-depth, behind-the-scenes accounts of specific people, places, and events that involve sports and impacted culture (and in some cases, geo-political history).

    One of the most recent 30 for 30 films—Sole Man—told the intriguing (and controversial) story of the man most responsible for the multi-billion-dollar athletic shoes industry that exists today. That man’s name is Sonny Vaccaro.

     

    Sole Man is the tale of how a young Italian man from just outside of Pittsburgh became the most influential cog in the sports marketing and fashion machine…

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    Fashion, Sports

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  • 28ECBA6200000578-3095797-image-a-12_1432536099083

    Wed. May 27

    Don’t Compartmentalize Kids

    Melissa Langsam Braunstein

    The cover of the June issue of Australian Elle magazine tells a powerful tale. We see model Nicole Trunfio nursing her young son and enjoying the special coziness that mothers regularly share with their infants. However, the backstory is even better.

    Unlike last year’s Glamour shots of Olivia Wilde nursing her son, the cover that Australian subscribers will see apparently wasn’t planned. According to a Refinery29 article by Gina Marinelli:

    “This wasn’t a contrived situation,” says Elle Australia’s editor-in-chief, Justine Cullen. “Zion needed a feed, Nicole gave it to him, and when we saw how beautiful they looked, we simply moved her onto the set.”

    Bravo, Ms. Cullen. Good call. As Marinelli comments:

    Sure, it may be a glorified representation of motherhood—one that includes luxury fashion and professional hair and makeup—but it’s still a badass ode to any mom who’s ever had to drop everything (a phone…

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    Culture

    1 Comment

  • britt_robertson_george_clooney_tomorrowland-wide

    Wed. May 27

    ‘Tomorrowland': Green is the New Boring

    R. J. Moeller

    There are certain films that sound good on paper, look good in a trailer, but ultimately fall woefully short of their considerable potential.

    Welcome to Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland!

    The plot, when simply read aloud, sounds intriguing.

    Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (George Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.

    What happens when this premise is put into script, and then eventual cinematic form is something quite different (and infinitely more convoluted and difficult to follow).

     

    Tomorrowland is directed by the otherwise talented Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) and was co-written by Damon Lindelof—the creator of the popular sci-fi series LOST.

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    Movies

    1 Comment

  • 4c39cd2e-d7a7-4f8b-b0cb-8a2eb376672b-2060x1236

    Tue. May 26

    Woody Allen’s Existential Void

    Mark Tapson

    While at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival recently promoting his newest film, Woody Allen took the opportunity in an interview to expound upon his personal philosophy. For those who still consider Allen a comedian and filmmaker of mostly comedies, his worldview will no doubt seem surprisingly grim.

    Allen acknowledged that he “had to be a comic filmmaker because that’s where my gifts were,” but he “had always wanted to be a serious filmmaker” like Ingmar Bergman. And by serious he means depressing:

    No matter how much the philosophers talk to you or the priests or the psychiatrists, the bottom line… is life has its own agenda and it runs right over you while you’re prattling. We’re all going to wind up in a very bad position someday. The same position, but a bad one.

    No argument there. Life does have a habit of steamrolling over the…

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    Culture

    1 Comment

  • mad-men-episode-711-don-hamm-935-3

    Tue. May 26

    Enough is Enough: ‘Mad Men’ and the Purpose of Consumption

    Brandon McGinley

    Being a show about advertising, Mad Men was always a show about consumer capitalism. And being a thoughtful show about consumer capitalism, Mad Men was always a show preoccupied with the question “When is enough—money, sex, power, consumption—enough?”

    What is the purpose, the end, the terminus of consumption? Of course it is happiness. But what if consumer happiness is like the proverbial carrot on a stick, always within sight but never within reach? Then there is no purpose or end to consumption; there is only perpetual anxiety.

    Mad Men has tracked dozens of characters’ anxieties—anxieties of status, of gender, of finance, of self-worth—for seven seasons of often-excellent television without offering a resolution to this by-product of consumerism. And while the show has no obligation to recommend a resolution, the last few episodes seemed to be priming us to expect something substantive on this question.

    In advance…

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    Television

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  • Image for Child Molestation is Not a “Mistake”

    Fri. May 22

    Child Molestation is Not a “Mistake”

    Erin Vargo

    If anyone understands the intricacies of the law, it should be Josh Duggar, who yesterday resigned as an executive director of the Family Research Council, a position he has held since 2013. FRC is a socially conservative lobbying organization in Washington, DC. The mission: to “advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.”

    Duggar resigned in response to the “bombshell” report that he had molested five girls (including four of his sisters) while he was a teenager. In his official statement to People Magazine, Duggar referred to his own behavior as “inexcusable” and made reference to his “wrongdoing” and the “wrong road” he was on. Josh’s parents, Michelle and Jim Bob—the parents of 19 Kids & Counting—also offered a statement, describing Josh’s violations as “very bad mistakes.” Both Josh and his parents emphasized in their statements that Josh was a “young teenager” at the…

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    Culture, Television

    4 Comments

  • david-letterman-goodbye_article_story_large

    Fri. May 22

    Here’s to You, David Letterman

    R. J. Moeller

    When I was in 4th grade, my teacher—Mrs. Sawyer—told me that my love for extemporaneously distracting the class with stories and anecdotes meant that I should have my own late night talk show. I went home that evening, snuck downstairs after everyone else went to bed, and sat down to watch my first full episode of Late Night with David Letterman.

    I was hooked.

    In 5th grade, I was already so enthralled by the larger-than-life comedians who ruled the nation’s airwaves after dark that I made my mom take me to the local public library and pre-reserve a copy of The Late Shift by Bill Carter before it had even been released. I had been hearing Dave making frequent reference to Jay Leno and the “job that got away” from Letterman back at NBC. Never one for being kept out of the loop, I read The Late Shift…

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    Television

    2 Comments

  • iStock_000001657120_Small

    Thu. May 21

    Ten Reasons Why American Fast Food Has Lost Its Way

    Ashley E. McGuire

    What the heck happened to fast food?

    When they first became popularized in the 1950s, fast food joints were a place that busy families could go for an easy and affordable dinner together. More and more families had cars, and so the drive-in option became a fun and appealing way to spend a Friday night. Women were increasingly joining the workforce, and so fast food also became an occasional break for harried working moms. The food was standard American fare: burgers, fries, hot dogs, milkshakes, et cetera. Fast food was an easy and fun dining option for busy American families.

    Now it seems like fast food chains are in a rat race to produce the most terrifying and disgusting offerings the human mind can concoct. Here are ten of the grossest, weirdest, most psycho fast food menu items available today:

    Waffle Taco (Taco Bell)  It’s eggs, wrapped inside sausage, wrapped inside…

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    Culture

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  • en-1989-0

    Thu. May 21

    ‘Maxim’ Misses the Point: Taylor Swift’s Brand is Too Asexual to Be Feminist

    Erin Vargo

    “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” – Oscar Wilde

    Taylor Swift is having a really good year life. She’s a fan favorite, a model girlfriend, a model girlfriend, and, in a swoop of good fortune, she won the genetic lottery: Her enviably tall, thin frame is convenient for her signature, classic, girl-next-door look.

    This week might have been the best week ever in Swift’s self-described “best year ever”: She kicked off her much-anticipated “1989” world tour in Bossier City, Louisiana; landed the #1 spot on the Maxim Hot 100; and pretty much owned the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, where she released her newest music video, “Bad Blood,” featuring a whopping 16 of her model/actress/general-badass BFFs, plus hip hop’s rising sensation, Kendrick Lamar. Oh, and ICYMI: She was the inspiration for one man’s 400-pound weight loss (not all in…

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    Culture

    17 Comments

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