• boyhood-di

    Mon. July 21

    “Boyhood” and the End of Manhood

    Mark Judge

    I have heard the sound of a civilization collapsing. It occurred at the end of the newly released, highly worshipped film Boyhood. It happened when the film ended and the lights came up, and a few people in the theater actually applauded.

    They may have been the only ones left awake. To say that Boyhood is dull is to say that that anthrax can cause an adverse reaction in humans. This film, written and directed by Richard Linklater, is so totally aimless that it eventually enrages. It seems to go on for weeks and nothing really happens.

    It also validates two claims of modern cultural critics. The first is that we are now living in a post-literate age. The second is that American boys are having a very difficult time becoming men. Boyhood validates those two claims in spades.

    For too many filmmakers today there’s no need to impose a…

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    Movies

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  • Matthew-McConaughey-and-Woody-Harrelson-in-True-Detective

    Fri. July 18

    When Did TV Get So Dark and Twisted?

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Remember when popular television was light and fun? Shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and Seinfeld weren’t exactly clean, but they weren’t dark and twisted. They were funnier than they were sad; and they were mostly about friendships, communities, and relationships. E! Online made a list of the top 20 series of the last 20 years, and only a couple, such as The Sopranos, were heavy on violence and suffering. The rest, like Arrested Development, Grey’s Anatomy, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, tilted either towards funny or emotional, but none were particularly graphic or morose.

    This year’s Emmy Award nominees for best drama series offer a stark contrast to the shows of the 90s and the 2000s. On the list are Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, and True Detective. Downton Abbey is the only series that is not morbid, violent,…

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    Television

    4 Comments

  • 156712051

    Fri. July 18

    America’s Renewed Interest in Craftsmanship

    Bryan Dik

    When economists and workforce specialists talk about what jobs Americans need to train for in order for the U.S. to maintain its competitive edge in the global economy, it’s usually science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  Makes sense.  But how about barrel-making?  Just a few years ago, cooperage was a lost occupation, a remnant of days gone by, another job (along with cobbling and blacksmithing) that the world no longer seemed to need.  Now?  Barrels can’t be made fast enough.

    Why the sudden surge?  Credit it to Americans’ newfound passion for craft distilleries, barrel-aged beers, and bourbon-infused anything.  According to a recent story in Time, worldwide demand  for whiskey has increased dramatically, sending the U.S. into a “barrel panic” and pushing up the price for new barrels made of charred oak—the only kind that can be used to make American whiskeys, thanks to Title 27 of the…

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    Culture

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    Thu. July 17

    Why We Should Forgive Cheaters

    Chelsea Samelson

    “Forgive and forget” is one of our culture’s favorite phrases. In many ways, that’s a good thing—the virtue of forgiveness should always be uplifted. Forgiveness, after all, is a truly beautiful thing—an act rooted in compassion, humility, and ultimately, love.

    But when a love between two people is forever altered by infidelity, the idea of forgiveness can suddenly become a big, blurry, ugly mess. Take it from Kendra Wilkinson, the former Playboy bunny who fell in love, got married, had children and is currently watching her marriage picked apart in the public eye as the world waits to see if she forgives her recently-caught-cheating husband.

    Sigh.

    In a world where forgiveness is a virtue and betrayal is not, how are we to handle cheating? Is there such a thing as a black and white, one-size-fits-all answer for infidelity?

    Sort of. Cheating, like any wrong, should always…

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    Culture

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  • planet-apes-ftr

    Thu. July 17

    The Trouble with ‘Apes’

    R. J. Moeller

    “If I had to sit through one more emotionally charged scene between talking monkeys, I was going to punch someone.” - Whitney Moeller

    Some may say that the best sequel to a re-boot (that has already been re-booted once before) is the newly released Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but just think about what low standards we have for quality filmmaking these days if this is the case?

    In 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox gave a glimpse of what it would be like if the highest evolved member of our species (James Franco) became friends with the most highly evolved simian (Caesar the Monkey). It was a not-so-wild, wildly boring ride that included all of the thrills of a Huffington Post piece on why Darwin matters (written, presumably, by a junior college professor). This week, with a new…

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    Movies

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  • Untitled

    Wed. July 16

    Conservatives and the Pop Culture Divide

    Abby W. Schachter

    There is a lively discussion going on among some serious conservatives who love pop culture. There isn’t so much a disagreement among the discussants as there is a difference of emphasis.

    Adam Bellow, who has been publishing non-fiction conservative books for a couple of decades now, has launched a new venture called Liberty Island Magazine, which is an effort at grassroots crowdfunding of independent authors of conservative fiction, video and music. As Bellow explains in his recent cover story for the National Review,

    “Conservative books today sell millions of copies. By all apparent measures, the culture war is going extremely well. Except that in reality it isn’t… The real problem isn’t the practical challenge of turning serious books into bestsellers. The real problem is that we may have reached the limit of what facts and reasoned arguments can do. The real problem is that the whole conservative nonfiction enterprise…

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    Culture

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    Wed. July 16

    ‘Family with Fire’: The Free-Market Telenovela

    Melissa Langsam Braunstein

    The morning after Election Day is too often painful. The night before, Latino voters were tantalizingly within reach. Yet, in the morning’s light, Republican politicos are heartbroken, having failed to woo that coveted demographic.

    Dominican-American Clara Del Villar, herself a conservative, has a better idea: The GOP should engage Hispanics where they already are, namely in the telenovela audience. Toward that end, Del Villar created Familia con Fuego, or Family with Fire, a pro-free-market telenovela, whose first season includes 12-Webisodes. Del Villar recently spoke with Acculturated about the show:

    What inspired you to create Familia con Fuego? My parents came here in 1956, after being harassed by the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. My parents suffered through many challenges, but they always stressed the opportunity of this country. The point is to show all the characters in aspirational roles, embracing the possibility and potential of this country.

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    Culture, Television

    2 Comments

  • magnolia bakery

    Wed. July 16

    Good Riddance to the Cupcake Fad

    Julia Shaw

    Crumbs, the largest cupcake chain, has filed for bankruptcy. The cupcake trend is finally over.

    Good riddance.

    I confess. I’ve never been a cupcake fan. Cupcakes could not measure up to the joy of a slice of cake. At my kindergarten birthday party, my mother brought yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting to share with the class.  I had milk instead.

    As an adult, I thought I’d give cupcakes a second chance. It’s like cake, after all: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Perhaps there was a Holy Grail cupcake, and once I tasted that perfect cakelet I’d be converted.  As a grown up, office birthday parties are the culinary return to kindergarten. At these cupcake fests, I tried cupcakes from a variety of local places: Buzz Bakery, Hello Cupcake, Baked and Wired, Red Velvet, The Sweet Lobby, and the cakelets that cause people to line up around the block, Georgetown…

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    Culture

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  • Logo

    Tue. July 15

    In Defense of Violent, Sexy, Revenge-Based Fiction

    Mark Judge

    I admit it: I like violent, sexy entertainment in which people and things I hate get overthrown or blown up.

    I consider this enthusiasm completely healthy and normal. Through recorded human history people have had a need for catharsis, for emotional purging, for gaining revenge through fantasies depicted by other people. If it doesn’t spill over into sadism, it’s usually all good. Some of my favorite action epics and revenge fantasies: Game of Thrones, The Iliad, Macbeth, The Road Warrior, The Killer Inside Me, Iron Man.

    I also like Liberty Island, the new website and media group founded by Adam Bellow. Bellow is a well-known editor of conservative authors, from Jonah Goldberg to Sarah Palin, but Liberty Island is his first venture into fiction. Its theme is genre fiction—westerns, sci-fi, crime—that have a conservative or libertarian theme or flavor. The bad guys are usually liberals. (Full disclosure: I…

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    Books

    3 Comments

  • 93828367

    Tue. July 15

    The Brave New World of IVF

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Where does one even start with this story?

    With the facts, I suppose. Sherri Shepherd, former host of The View,  used technology to create a baby using her husband’s sperm and a donor’s egg. She used a surrogate to carry the baby, where the baby is still in utero. Sherri and her husband are now divorcing, and Sherri no longer wants the baby, to which she has absolutely no biological connection. She has filed for divorce in New Jersey, a state that does not recognize surrogacy agreements as legally binding. Of the baby she said, “It is not my child. I’m not paying child support.”

    It’s a story Aldous Huxley would have been proud of. Ordering a baby. Growing it elsewhere. And then sending it back.

    Our society likes to think of itself as progressive, and liberals especially like to think that the so-called “arc of…

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    Culture

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