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    Tue. February 24

    Are Hollywood Actresses “More Than Their Dresses”?

    Chelsea Samelson

    Don’t try telling Reese Witherspoon that she looked stunning in her black and white Tom Ford Oscar gown on Sunday—she doesn’t really want to talk about that. Our lovely Hollywood sweetheart hit the red carpet pushing the #askhermore campaign, a new attempt to get reporters asking questions that delve deeper than designer gowns. You see, Witherspoon is tired of just being asked, “Who are you wearing tonight?” Or, as she so succinctly put it, “We’re more than just our dresses.”

    Before the big night, she posted on Instagram a few examples of questions she would prefer to be asked: “What accomplishment are you most proud of?” “If you could play any character in any movie, who would it be?” “What’s your favorite T.V. show?”

    Sigh.

    How ironic.

    Ironic, because this all came from a woman who likely just dropped tens of thousands of dollars…

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    Fashion

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  • sacks_pub_fall07-e1365451928912

    Mon. February 23

    Oliver Sacks, Mortality and Gratitude

    Mark Tapson

    Last week in the New York Times, bestselling author Oliver Sacks wrote that he has mere months to live. At 81 and in otherwise robust health, Sacks learned that a cancer which he thought had been eradicated when first diagnosed nine years ago is back with a vengeance and now cannot be halted.

    The New York Times has called Sacks “a kind of poet laureate of contemporary medicine.” An accomplished neurologist and professor, he is the author of numerous bestselling books including fascinating collections of case studies of people suffering from neurological disorders. His book Awakenings was adapted into an Oscar-nominated 1990 film of the same name starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat spawned pop culture offshoots from a chamber opera to plays to movie characters to an indie pop album.

    Sacks hasn’t slacked off with advancing age. In the last 15…

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    Culture

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  • FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

    Mon. February 23

    Don’t Take “Fifty Shades of Grey” Literally

    Erin Vargo

    I had the express pleasure of watching Fifty Shades of Grey the night before it opened for a general audience on Friday, February 13. Austin’s beloved flick house, Alamo Drafthouse, offered an early viewing to eager moviegoers, complete with a silvery grey necktie draped across every theater seat. The night was a riot: for one, because the audience was made up largely of women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s; and two, because not one of them confused the event as an opportunity to push a political agenda. We laughed; we whistled, jeered and chuckled (often in unison); and we all seemed thoroughly entertained by the end of it.

    I suspect this was the case because most of the women there, like me, didn’t take the film precisely for its word. And that is the best advice I can offer to anyone still on the fence about watching it: Don’t…

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    Movies

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  • Untitled1

    Fri. February 20

    The True Beauty of Beyoncé and Cindy

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Move over nude photos. The latest celebrity drama is over leaked unretouched photos.

    First came the unauthorized leak of a photo of Cindy Crawford posing for a Marie Claire photo shoot that hadn’t been Photoshopped. Apparently the model, old enough to be a grandmother but not too old to admit she still struggles with body image, had a little stomach flab showing.

    Then it was pre-Photoshopped pictures of Beyoncé, leaked from a recent L’Oreal photoshoot. The photos reveal her skin with tiny bumps and blemishes under a thick layer of pasty looking makeup.

    Both leaks have caused a media firestorm and Twitter explosion. Even the BBC, not exactly a celebrity news outlet, acknowledged that the leaks had stirred a pretty feisty “online debate.”

    Celebrities post unretouched photos of themselves on their Instagram pages all the time. But what’s different here is that, in both instances, the photos were…

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    Culture

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  • Jordan talks with Bryant

    Fri. February 20

    Why the NBA Needs More Mentors

    R. J. Moeller

    In a post-Michael Jordan world, Kobe Bryant has been the best basketball player of the past fifteen years. LeBron James is undeniably a genetic freak of nature and a dominant physical specimen on the court, but only Kobe has shown the same dogged determination and fierce competitiveness that elevated His Airness above his peers. LeBron is passionate about winning. For Kobe, it is a matter of life and death.

    But there is another marked difference between Kobe and LeBron that, perhaps, has made all the difference: Kobe has made it a top priority to seek out and learn from mentors his entire career in ways that LeBron has not.

    In a recent Washington Post story about Bryant’s desire to play for/with Michael Jordan when MJ was a part of the Washington Wizards’ organization a little over a decade ago, Kobe opened up about this desire for teachers in his life.

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    Sports

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  • image-24884

    Thu. February 19

    Should Kanye and Kim Leave the Baby Home Next Time?

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Parents like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West ruin it for the rest of us. Last week they brought their 18 month-old toddler to a New York Fashion Week show, where Kim was seated in the front row. She sat right next to fashion’s notorious ice queen, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, nicknamed, “Nuclear Wintour,” for her severe demeanor.

    As is to be expected of any 18 month-old contained in a dark cramped place for more than, oh, three minutes, North West (still cringing at the name) had a complete meltdown. The pictures show her writhing and wailing, much of it in Wintour’s personal space, with Wintour pulling away with disgust.

    I say Kim and Kanye ruin it for the rest of us parents, because they really do. Society is trending ever more hostile toward kids in public, and parents that push the appropriateness envelope with children only exacerbate that.

    The urban…

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    Culture

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  • ht_jessica_simpson_instagram_fifty_shades_jc_150216_4x3_992

    Thu. February 19

    Fifty Shades of Jessica Simpson

    Melissa Langsam Braunstein

    Beyoncé may have been drunk in love, but Jessica Simpson is apparently bound in love—as in BDSM. The singer-turned-fashion mogul celebrated her first Valentine’s Day married to former NFL player Eric Johnson by posting three photos of them to her Instagram account. Inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, the #FIFTYSHADESOFJOHNSON pictures certainly offer a different view of marriage.

    Take a look at the pictures and you’ll quickly forget that you’re looking at the parents of two toddlers. Take a look, and you’ll need to be reminded that the mother in the photos was previously famous for her virginity.

    In the first picture, the Weight Watchers spokeswoman shows off the results of her hard work. She reclines with her eyes closed, while barely dressed in a tuxedo jacket and some lacy knee highs. One of her shirtless husband’s hands tugs at the jacket revealing a lacy…

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    Culture

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  • fashion victim little princess girl portrait

    Wed. February 18

    Should We Raise Our Daughters To Be Princesses?

    Ashley E. McGuire

    I’m of two minds about princesses. On the one hand, I hate efforts to crush anything gender-specific, and I grew up on a steady diet of Disney and turned out okay. On the other hand, I hate the damsel-in-distress, narcissistic glitter-fest that seems to characterize the modern-day concept of princesses. My daughter has a pair of pink, sequin and fur Frozen boots. I hate them.

    But I shuddered when I read the Wall Street Journal’s story about five and six-figure princess-themed bedrooms for the children of America’s elite. The lede is about a mom who spent seventy thousand, yes—you read that correctly, seventy thousand dollars, on princess-themed bedrooms for her two daughters. Stella (who shares a name with my own daughter) sleeps in a six thousand dollar castle-bed contraption. (Sorry about that hand-me-down-off-neighborhood-listserv toddler bed, my Stella.)  Another mom profiled in the piece spent two hundred thousand dollars on…

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    Culture

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  • 772112640315486759

    Wed. February 18

    Did Mocking Justine Sacco Improve Our Culture?

    Katrina Trinko

    Few Americans would be comfortable watching a person stand in a town square while being shouted out at by angry strangers.

    So why do we embrace it online?

    Just take the case of Justine Sacco, the PR chief who found herself a national figure after she sarcastically tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”  While she was on an 11-hour flight to South Africa, Sacco’s tweet went viral, spurring a hashtag “#HasJustineLandedYet” and reactions across the internet. She ultimately lost her job.

    In a New York Times piece this month, journalist and documentary maker Jon Ronson chronicled what happened to Sacco after her December 2013 tweet. She is currently employed, but her life remains affected by the national attention she received. Sacco characterized the experience as “incredibly traumatic,” saying she “cried out [her] body weight in the first 24 hours.” Dating,…

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    Culture

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  • Clay and Amber on grass Old Fashioned

    Tue. February 17

    ‘Old Fashioned’: If You Get It, You’ll Love It

    Bryan Dik

    Mark Tapson’s recent post alerted readers to the Valentines’ weekend release, opposite Fifty Shades of Grey, of a low-budget indie called Old Fashioned.  For readers who pay attention to the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the Fifty Shades vs. Old Fashioned showdown could have been billed as the clash of the, shall we say, not generously reviewed films.  26% of critics wrote a positive review of Fifty Shades, compared to 24% for Old Fashioned.  Ratings from users of the site were not quite on the same page, though. Audiences were lukewarm about Fifty Shades (51% positive rating), whereas 96% gave Old Fashioned a thumbs-up.

    96% for Old Fashioned, in contrast to 24% of reviewers?  Wow. Undoubtedly a selection factor was at work here—Old Fashioned was marketed as a Christian alternative to Fifty Shades, so perhaps the high audience ratings are the result of preaching to the choir.  Even so, that’s not the…

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    Movies

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