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    Mon. August 3

    ‘True Detective’ and The Lines We Cross

    Sonny Bunch

    Are we changed by trauma or does trauma simply bring out our true self?

    That seems to be the most important question of True Detective’s second season, and it’s one we’re asked to consider a couple of times over the course of the sixth and seventh* episodes. Frank (Vince Vaughn) is a big believer in the idea that trauma merely heightens who we are.

    “I sold my soul for nothin’,” says Ray (Colin Farrell), confronting Frank with the knowledge that the man he killed because Frank told him he was his wife’s rapist wasn’t the guilty party after all. But the club owner is having none of Ray’s pity party.

    “I didn’t get you to do anything,” Frank says. “I gave you a name and you made your choice. That choice was in you before your wife or any of this other stuff. It…

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    Mon. August 3

    What Your Kids Can Learn from Nikola Tesla

    Stephanie Cohen

    During a recent book club meeting with a bunch of third through sixth graders, I asked the girls to write down the three most useful traits if you were attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a 45-foot sailboat alone.

    The girls were immersed in Sharon Creech’s award winning book, The Wanderer, a story about an adopted girl who crosses the ocean with her cousins and uncles to visit her grandfather.

    The girls leaned over their papers, thinking and finally writing down their answers. As we went around the room, I was struck by how many of the girls had listed imagination as a necessary trait for a difficult journey. I expected bravery, calmness, fortitude, and intelligence, but not quite so much imagination.

    When I asked them why imagination would be useful, I expected them to say it would enable them to come up with creative fixes if something…

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    Books, Culture

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    Fri. July 31

    How to be Thrifty During Wedding Season

    Ashley E. McGuire

    In the last week, I read three different articles about the unaffordability of attending or participating in people’s weddings. In that same week, my husband and I had to discuss the fact that even to attend a local wedding, we’d have to cough up around $200 for a babysitter. Cleaning out my desk, I collected all the recent invitations for weddings we couldn’t attend and calculated that, if I were to send a gift for all of them all at once, it would cost about $1,500.

    In an article for xojane.com, one woman writes of having over $4,000 in debt from being a bridesmaid in two weddings for women with whom she is no longer even friends. Staggering costs like these led another woman to decline every single out of town wedding invitation she received, as described in an article for the Washington Post.

    The recent outcry over the…

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  • Jake Gyllenhaal and Oona Laurence star in SOUTHPAW.

    Fri. July 31

    Jake Gyllenhaal and the Moral Lessons of ‘Southpaw ‘

    R. J. Moeller

    In an interview with Howard Stern last week, Jake Gyllenhaal was interrogated about everything from his failed romance with Taylor Swift to the details of his Bar Mitzvah some twenty years prior. Amidst the silly (however entertaining) banter typical on Stern’s program, Gyllenhaal was asked to expound on his feelings when he learns that other actors were considered for a role that he eventually lands.

    His response to that question – essentially, that he has learned that he needs a lot of things to go right and a lot of people working on his behalf to accomplish anything in his life – is similar to the lessons learned by his latest lead character, boxing champ Billy Hope. Gyllenhaal’s new film, Southpaw, is nothing if not a story about what sort of attitude and mindset is required of human beings who learn through tragedy just how interdependent we all are…

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    Thu. July 30

    Why is Tom Brady Still Fighting the NFL?

    Ashley May

    He’s the reigning Super Bowl MVP, with four Super Bowl championship rings in his collection. His team holds the longest consecutive win streak in NFL history. He has a three-year, $27 million contract with the Patriots. This means in the 2015 season he’ll make a base salary of $8 million, with a signing bonus of $6 million. Through the last 15 seasons, he made just under $150 million dollars. He’s the poster boy for Under Armour, Movado watches, and Ugg footwear.

    Which begs the question: why is Tom Brady fighting his four-game suspension after Deflategate?  Shouldn’t he take the punishment and walk away? It seems like he has a lot more to lose from a drawn-out lawsuit than a temporary, although embarrassing, punishment. It’s even rumored that Goodell considered reducing Brady’s suspension in order to cut off complaints that the NFL punished Brady on par with those perpetrating domestic violence. There has to…

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  • AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR -- "Houston Finals" -- Pictured: Tony Matesi -- (Photo by: Bob Levey/NBC)

    Thu. July 30

    Why We Love ‘American Ninja Warrior’

    Mark Tapson

    Two weeks ago NBC’s American Ninja Warrior bested The Bachelorette in the coveted 18–49 ratings demo, after the two raced neck-and-neck all summer. Last Monday night the finale episode pushed The Bachelorette to victory again, but ANW has proven to be the summer’s surprising hit. Its popularity has confounded Slate’s television critic, who asked, “What’s the source of the show’s hypnotic appeal?”

    Good question, but Slate offered no answer, except the fascination of “watching dozens of men and women fall off obstacles that could only be dreamed up by a borderline sadistic ringmaster very familiar with the interactions of muscle groups.” But that explanation doesn’t do the show justice.

    American Ninja Warrior, now in its seventh season, is the big-budget American version of the Japanese original in which contestants run an insanely demanding obstacle course (even the original version has produced only three winners in…

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    Thu. July 30

    Tom Cruise: The Greatest Movie Star of All-Time

    Jonathan V. Last

    Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation comes out this weekend and with it will be another round of people beating up on Tom Cruise. They make fun of him for his religious beliefs. They knock him for making overly commercial movies. They mock him because he was one of the first people in America to have the Internet kind of ruin his life. (In 2006, Sumner Redstone estimated that the Oprah-couch incident cost Paramount between $100 million and $150 million. He subsequently cut Cruise’s production company loose.)

    But people are crazy for not loving Cruise. Okay, sure—Scientology. But when it comes to commercial movie-making, Cruise is the actorly-version of Stephen Spielberg—but without a fallow decade, like the one Spielberg had between E.T. and Jurassic Park. Which is to say: Cruise doesn’t make disposable cinematic garbage; he makes the most-interesting movies possible for the mass market. He makes them serially, one after another, without going…

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  • Untitled, Fort Scott, Kansas  
	Gordon Parks (American, 1912–2006)
	Photograph, gelatin silver print
	*Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy and © The Gordon Parks Foundation
	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Wed. July 29

    Was America More Diverse in the 1950s?

    Mark Judge

    In the last sixty years America has become a more tolerant country. But has it become more diverse?

    In terms of race, the answer is yes. There is greater visibility for minorities, and interracial marriage has produced younger generations that tend to see people and personalities and not color. This is a singular accomplishment, the great social leap forward of the last half century,

    Yet further down on the scale of moral importance, in the areas of music, books, general knowledge, cars, conversation, and fashion, the United States was far more diverse in the 1950s. The racial progress in America has led to a reflexive dismissal of everything else the culture produced prior to the civil rights victories of the 1960s. Marinating in self-regard for our progress, we reject previous eras as bland black-and-white prisons, a patriarchal matrix of Mad Men-style sexual harassment, racism, bland pop music and TV dinners.…

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    Wed. July 29

    Yes, Those Ashley Madison Users Got What They Deserved

    Chelsea Samelson

    The recent hack of the adultery website AshleyMadison.com was the kind of digital earthquake that sends devastating, long-lasting shockwaves through the Internet. For many, the first shock was learning that a website devoted exclusively to facilitating infidelity even exists. Then, there was the aftershock that the site boasts close to forty million American users. Finally, there was the knowledge that a data breach of this scope and magnitude was executed with relative ease and has yet to be resolved.

    But nothing disturbed me more than seeing how many people rushed to the defense of the Ashley Madison “victims,” decrying the inexcusable violation of their privacy rights.

    The Internet has been abuzz with essays arguing that online privacy trumps all, and that if it is violated, it is a crime worse than any other it could expose. While I can appreciate trying to take a principled approach to this issue,…

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    Tue. July 28

    Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston, and Intergenerational Addiction

    Erin Vargo

    No one loved the late Bobbi Kristina Brown more than her mother, the late Whitney Houston. In a 1993 interview with Rolling Stone, she gushed:

    “Having Bobbi Kristina, I could never do anything to top that… There’s been nothing more incredible in my life than having her. God knows, I have been in front of millions and millions of people, and that has been incredible, that give-take thing. But man, when I gave birth to her, and when they put her in my arms, I thought: ‘This has got to be it. This is the ultimate.’ I haven’t experienced anything greater.”

    If there is peace to be found in the death of Bobbi Kristina, it is the image of her mother welcoming her at the pearly gates of heaven, arms outstretched and a megawatt smile, singing “Your Love is My Love”. After six months of purgatory on earth, the…

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    Celebrities, Culture