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    Wed. August 13

    Yes, Washington, D.C. is a Cool Town

    Mark Judge

    Forbes recently caused some derision in the media when it named Washington, D.C., the “coolest city in America.” People couldn’t believe it—D.C., the country’s coolest city? This is the home of suits from the 1980s, early bedtimes, and Al Gore.

    As a native Washingtonian, I can only say that Washington is indeed a cool place. But here’s the thing—it’s a cool town, not a cool city.

    Blake Gopnik, who was the art critic for the Washington Post from 2000 to 2010 before decamping for New York, once made the same observation. “D.C. is not a city, it’s a town,” he said. “And I don’t say that in a disparaging way.” What he meant is that Washington has arts, beautiful scenery, good restaurants and clubs, and a generally cool and laid back vibe, but it doesn’t touch the monster energy of a city…

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    Culture

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    Wed. August 13

    The Wisdom of Harry Potter in Dark Times

    Mark Tapson

    Last month at their home in Texas, Stephen and Katie Stay and four of their five young children were executed in an horrific massacre at the hands of the ex-husband of Katie’s sister. The sole survivor of the family was 15-year-old Cassidy; incredibly, she not only survived being shot in the head by playing dead, but managed to call 911 after the incident and give details of the attack to the authorities. That led to the suspect’s capture later that day and also saved the lives of her grandparents, whom the murderer intended to target next. Cassidy is expected to make a full recovery.

    During a press conference a few days afterward, the remarkable Cassidy quoted the wizard Dumbledore from the wildly popular fantasy series of Harry Potter books by author J.K. Rowling: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn…

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    Books, Culture

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  • Robin-Williams-robin-williams-10647180-2057-21001

    Tue. August 12

    Robin Williams’ Gift

    Mark Tapson

    Like everyone else, I was stunned yesterday to hear of the passing of comedian and actor Robin Williams, apparently by his own hand. A sad clown who brought gut-busting laughter to countless millions for over 35 years while simultaneously wrestling with dark personal demons, Williams was also an Oscar-caliber dramatic actor of such classics as Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. The world has lost a talent that arguably bore the gift of genius.

    About that genius: among the outpouring of reactions on social media yesterday, I was struck by a keen observation on Facebook from political commentator Steve Hayward that Williams’ “zigzag streak of lightning in the brain” (a phrase once used to describe Winston Churchill’s greatness) was “palpable”: “He wasn’t a person of comic imagination who merely thought up jokes. He was way beyond that. You could see his wit (not even an adequate word) explode in his…

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    Culture

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    Tue. August 12

    Britney, Auto-Tune, and Female Imperfection

    Mark Judge

    “Can you Photoshop that out?”   

    It’s a question I get asked fairly often. As a photographer and amateur filmmaker, actors and models will look into my camera viewfinder at the end of a shoot and notice something about themselves they don’t like. A mole. A wild hair. An awkward stance.

    This is usually the stuff that I like the most. So no, I’m sorry; there won’t be any Photoshopping—unless a plane flies into the shot. Imperfections are what make us human. They also are what make a woman particularly attractive.

    Our digital culture has become so skilled at eradicating our flaws that it has made women insecure and artists both lazy and terrified of showing any real humanity. Recently a horrific audio was leaked of Britney Spears singing her song “Alien” without the aid of Auto-Tune, the electronic device that cleanses the human voice of any…

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    Culture, Music

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  • dead-poets-society-robin-williams

    Tue. August 12

    Robin Williams’ “Mr. Keating” Changed My Life

    Elizabeth Tenety

    There are very few events in my life that profoundly changed how I thought and lived: 9/11, meeting my husband, the birth of our sons.

    Watching Dead Poets Society is also on the list. Robin Williams’ performance changed my life.

    I was a sophomore in high school when I stumbled across the movie during Christmas break. It was the year 2000. Viewing it alone in the dark cocoon of our basement den, I was both mesmerized and inspired. With his eloquence and wit, Robin Williams, playing boarding school English teacher John Keating, inspires a class of late-1950s prep school boys to embrace the meaning all around them—finding purpose in American poetry, in the company of friends, in the pursuit of love, and in everyday life.

    Judging by the affection for his performance in Dead Poets on social media, Robin Williams’ Mr. Keating affected a lot of lives.  In one of…

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    Culture, Movies

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    Mon. August 11

    Life Without Social Media: Not Worth Living?

    Gracy Olmstead

    When Facebook was down for several minutes on August 1, all hell broke loose. Or at least, that’s what the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department thought that afternoon when they received a plethora of panicked calls from forestalled Facebookers. Indeed, the onslaught of calls was so intense the department’s sergeant posted a stern tweet to stem the calls:

    #Facebook is not a Law Enforcement issue, please don’t call us about it being down, we don’t know when FB will be back up!

    — Sgt. Brink (@LASDBrink) August 1, 2014

    It’s interesting to note how the failure of one social media service only made another social media service all the more necessary: the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, in determining how to stem the tide of calls, found Twitter was their best method. And as SooperMexican.com noted, the sergeant’s tweet spurred an onslaught of disparaging, contemptuous comments throughout the Twittersphere from people…

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    Tech

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    Mon. August 11

    Should Women Coach Professional Male Athletes?

    R. J. Moeller

    For all of the young girls out there who daydreamed of one day being screamed at by Gregg Popovich, this USA Today story is for you!

    There’s a reason the San Antonio Spurs are one of best organizations in the NBA.

    Tuesday, the team named Becky Hammon an assistant coach, making her the first female paid by an NBA team to be an assistant.

    Despite what most headlines and Tweets would have you believe, Ms. Hammon is technically NOT the first female assistant coach. That honor goes to household name Lisa Boyer who was so integral to the 2001-2002 Cleveland Cavaliers staff that she didn’t travel with the team to away games. But in a culture obsessed with glass ceilings, racial quotas, and the trumped-up pageantry of being the “first” to do something the rest of us have to feign interest in, our progressively minded media will take whatever…

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    Sports

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  • Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 - Arrivals

    Mon. August 11

    Megan Fox: Making Marriage and Motherhood Sexy

    Chelsea Samelson

    I never really liked Megan Fox. Something about her always seemed, well, tasteless and vampy. I have yet to see any of her movies, but I’ve often seen her on the cover of magazines and all over the Internet, often being hailed as one of the sexiest women on the planet. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw her on the recent cover of Cosmopolitan, pulling up the hem of her already short skirt, right next to the headlines “Cosmo’s Sex Bucket List” and “24 Moves to Unleash Your Inner Bad Girl.” Leave classy to Cosmo, right?

    But I was genuinely surprised upon reading the actual interview with Fox. In fact, I was left downright impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a female celebrity make so many pro-woman, pro-marriage, pro-motherhood remarks in my life and from a notoriously sultry, sex symbol celeb nonetheless.

    Fox, now…

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    Culture

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  • la-et-st-emmys-2014-jon-voight-ray-donovan-emmy-nomination-20140710

    Fri. August 8

    Jon Voight’s Moral Courage

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Steven Spielberg. Billy Crystal. Ben Stiller. Dustin Hoffman. Woody Allen. Barbara Streisand. Ben Stein. Sylvester Stallone. Bette Midler. Neil Diamond. Jerry Seinfeld. Jon Stewart. Paul Rudd. James Franco. Darren Aronofsky. Michelle Trachtenberg. Emmy Rossum. Natalie Portman. Lena Dunham. The list is endless of celebrities who can trace their lineage back to Father Abraham.

    Why then, is Hollywood, land of would-be activists, so quiet when Israel is under attack yet again, and when global anti-Semitism is surging?

    Synagogues in Europe are being defaced. Riots in cities around the world show angry mobs waving marred Israeli flags or swastikas. Hamas can’t even honor a humanitarian ceasefire against Israel. This isn’t hyperbole. Newsweek’s most recent cover story was entitled, “Exodus: Why Europe’s Jews are Fleeing Once Again.” Yet one of the most Jewish industries in the world, American show business, is basically silent.

    Or as the Jewish Journal put…

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    Culture

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  • Sharknado2_detail_2560x1450_1280x725_268736067814

    Fri. August 8

    Is ‘Sharknado 2’ the Future of Television?

    Mark Tapson

    Last week was the premiere of Sharknado 2: The Second One, the much-anticipated sequel to last summer’s campy hit TV movie Sharknado about a freak tornado sucking sharks out of the ocean and dropping them like kamikazes into Los Angeles. For those who found the popularity of both Syfy channel schlockfests to be a sign of the impending collapse of Western civilization, Brian Moylan at The Guardian poses an unsettling scenario: Sharknado is the future of television, and “we all better get used to it.”

    Curiously, considering what a cult favorite it has become, Sharknado’s 2013 premiere was seen by even fewer viewers than is typical of a Syfy original movie, which usually consists of mega-creatures of one sort or another wreaking havoc or battling each other. But the movie’s popularity quickly developed as a trend on Twitter, so when Syfy aired another showing a week later, its viewership increased by 38%.…

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    Movies, Television

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