• Tom-Sawyer

    Thu. June 25

    He’s Not a “Reluctant Reader.” He’s a Boy.

    Stephanie Cohen

    Stand around with any group of moms of elementary school-aged boys and eventually the words “reluctant” and “reader” will enter the conversation. A recently released local book list for the summer called attention to the fact that it was designed to entice reluctant readers.

    The “reluctant” umbrella captures a wide swath of children today, especially boys. If your son is picky (maybe he only wants to read about baseball), or will only read for mandated 15-minute periods ticked off on the kitchen timer and not a second more, or if he dislikes most of the books you bring home, or says the books his teachers assign are boring, someone will eventually suggest that he’s a reluctant reader.

    Reluctance, by definition, can mean unwillingness, hesitancy, or disinterest. There is a long bridge between a reader who hesitates or lacks enthusiasm and a reader who is completely unwilling. When they buck…

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    Books

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    Wed. June 24

    ‘Slow West’ – Michael Fassbender’s Best Western

    R. J. Moeller

    If the world was like the plot of far too many Saturday morning cartoons, and the brain of Wes Anderson could be transplanted into the body of Clint Eastwood (or vice versa), the end creative result would be Slow West.

    Starring (and narrated by) the inimitable Michael Fassbender and featuring the directorial debut of Scottish director John Maclean, Slow West is an engrossing tale of unrequited love, existential crises, Mother Nature’s moral indifference, and the emotional fortitude possessed by those who attempt to settle unsettled frontiers.

    The story follows a young man named Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who in 1870 travels from Scotland to the Colorado territory in search of his lady love, Rose. Jay is a kind, wealthy lad whose profound naiveté is balanced by his earnestness and bravery. His mission—so far as he sees it—is to pursue the “girl that got away” after Rose and her father…

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    Movies

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    Wed. June 24

    The Overpraised Child: Yearbook Edition

    Julie Gunlock

    When did it become normal to pay to have an advertisement placed in the back of your kid’s elementary school yearbook? That’s right, I said elementary school. More importantly, when did elementary school yearbooks become a thing? When I was in elementary school, you simply received a single-page photo sheet with thumbnail pictures of your classmates along with your own individual and most likely awkward picture that you would spend the rest of your life trying to hide.

    Oh, how times have changed!

    Today, it’s common for elementary schools to produce 40-plus page yearbooks documenting every class event, field trip, and school production. And parents are given space in the back to praise their little scholars.

    Leafing through the yearbook my son brought home last week, I was flabbergasted at the notes and pictures submitted by parents. First Graders had ads! And so did a few Kindergarteners!…

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    Culture

  • attends CIROC's "Step Into The Circle" Launch hosted by Sean Diddy Combs in Times Square on November 19, 2014 in New York City.

    Tue. June 23

    P. Diddy Is the Saddest Rap Star Ever

    Jonathan V. Last

    So P. Diddy, née Puff Daddy (née Puffy, née Sean Combs) has been arrested. Not for toting gats where the true players are at. Not for selling more powder than Johnson & Johnson. Not even for running all up in the club and sipping Bacardi (or Cîroc) in an egregious manner, when it was not, in fact, his birthday.

    No, Mr. Diddy was arrested after an altercation with a UCLA football coach. And while the details of the incident are disputed, the crux of the affair is not: Diddy was upset because he believes that the coach is mistreating his son, who plays for the UCLA football team. In other words, Diddy was arrested for being a hockey mom.

    This turn of events is embarrassing—humiliating, even—but not exactly unexpected. Diddy was never the hard-core gangster he pretended to be. He grew up in a rough neighborhood,…

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    Celebrities, Music

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    Tue. June 23

    Why Now is the Time for an Anita Hill Movie

    Carrie Lukas

    Seen solely through a political lens, the timing of HBO’s upcoming movie about Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings—and particularly Anita Hill’s accusations that he sexually harassed her—seems suspicious. Presumably this film will paint 1991 as a much-needed turning point: Feminist groups and liberals stood up against a backward, Mad-Men-esque 80s culture, raised awareness about how women are mistreated in American workplaces, and ushered in an era of progress for women. If the Thomas hearings helped set the stage for Bill Clinton’s election the following year, the people behind this film may hope nostalgia for the 1990s will bolster Mrs. Clinton’s presidential prospects now.

    Yet some viewers—many too young to recall the Thomas hearings and Anita Hill—may react differently and wonder how much better off our society really is today.

    Certainly, Americans are more aware now of the concept of sexual harassment.…

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    Culture

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    Tue. June 23

    Sugar Daddies: Girls Just Want to Have Funds?

    Erin Vargo

    There’s an old joke that goes as follows: A man asks a girl if she will sleep with him for a million dollars. She says yes. He then offers her two dollars and she slaps his face, saying, “What do you think I am?” He answers, “I know what you are. We are just haggling over the price.”

    Prostitution is not new, of course; but organized “sugar” dating is. Sugar dating is far more nuanced than traditional prostitution: Partners enter into business-like arrangements, where the wealthy partner, or sugar daddy (or mama), exchanges money and gifts for the “companionship” of a younger partner (the sugar baby) without necessarily including sex in the agreement. According to Brandon Wade, the founder of multiple sugar dating sites like SeekingArrangement.com and WhatsYourPrice.com:

    “Every successful relationship is an arrangement between two parties. In business, partners sign business agreements that outline their objectives…

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    Culture

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    Mon. June 22

    Amy Schumer is Funny, but Her Fans are Annoying

    Andrew Stiles

    You’ve probably heard of Amy Schumer by now. If you have, you probably have an opinion. I wasn’t very familiar with her work until recently, but I knew she was a comedian who had her own show on Comedy Central and recently made a movie with LeBron James.

    If you believe the things people write on the internet, Amy Schumer is the Funniest Person in Comedy Right Now. You may also know her as “the girl on television who talks about her p***y all the time” (her words). But above all—and this is not necessarily a contradiction, depending on your worldview—Amy Schumer is the social justice heroine our society so desperately craves, deploying perfectly crafted jokes like laser-guided truth bombs against the great white calcified fortress of Intolerance and Sexism.

    Consider the headlines:

    Amy Schumer’s One Direction parody might be her best sketch this season…

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    Celebrities, Television

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    Mon. June 22

    Happy Postmodern Father’s Day!

    Charlotte Hays

    The Washington Post hit upon a decidedly postmodern way to celebrate Father’s Day yesterday: a disturbing piece about a physically and mentally abusive father and a second essay arguing that more dads need to become the “lead parent” in bringing up kids. The second piece is headlined, “Don’t Worry, Working Moms: Just Leave Dad in Charge at Home.” In other words, this second Father’s Day story is really about mothers.

    Honestly, however couples arrange their lives, whether the father works in the home or in an office, is up to them. One only hopes they will be kind and loving and function well together as a family. But Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of the piece and president and CEO of New America, makes family arrangements sound like nothing short of a union negotiation. Slaughter is not allowed to interfere with schedules and dinner menus at home, for example,…

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    Culture

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    Mon. June 22

    ‘Sense8’ (Finally) Starts to Make Some Sense

    Sonny Bunch

    The closing moments of the seventh episode of Sense8 almost serve as a payoff for the six-plus hours that led up to it.

    Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman) have broken into the home of Dr. Metzger (Adam Shapiro). We’ve previously seen Metzger in the hospital that was holding Nomi captive. He hoped to perform a brain surgery that would lobotomize her, stripping her of her “sensate” powers and leaving her a vegetable. We saw the effects of such a surgery earlier in the episode when the duo visited a man named Niles (Tim Lajcik): He is naught but a drooling shell, an ugly scar prominently marking his brow.

    Nomi and Amanita are going through Metzger’s computer when he returns. Jonas Maliki (Naveen Andrews) appears to Nomi and tells her that they must leave, that they are in grave danger. Metzger realizes that they have tipped off Whispers…

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    Television

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    Fri. June 19

    When Mike Rowe says “Work Ethic,” do you hear “Lazy”?

    Brian M. Carney

    When Mike Rowe, creator of the show Dirty Jobs, issued his S.W.E.A.T. Pledge, it prompted an unusually fierce debate: Is a work ethic now a partisan issue? Writing in the Washington Post, Hunter Schwarz argues that it is, like it or not. According to the Pew Research Center survey data Schwartz cites, there are huge gaps between Republicans and Democrats on questions such as whether good luck or hard work have more to do with success, and whether government aid helps or hurts the least-well-off.

    These data points will surprise nobody who’s been paying attention to our politics in recent years. Republican and Democratic candidates for office don’t exactly speak different languages, but they often seem to be describing alternate realities, sometimes with the same words.

    Thus Hillary has her “four fights,” and on the surface they sound (not by accident) like Republican talking…

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    Culture

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