When Britain was an outpost of an earlier empire.
Oct 12, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 05 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
You can find them here and there, scattered across England: the small green mounds, the hillocks and filled-in ditches, the hints of straight lines that once cut through the landscape. Just beneath the long grass lies the rich silt, piled up by the wind or washed in by the rain in the 62 years since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I I. In the 177 years since Victoria took the throne. The 949 years since a determined William of Normandy landed on the English shore. The 1,418 years since St. Augustine came to Canterbury, a prayer book in his hand.
The life of chess, from birth to checkmate.
Oct 12, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 05 • By MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER
After the workday, far too many of us come home and turn on our televisions or our computers. But some of us indulge in more traditional, non-electronic hobbies, and these hobbies have rituals, which seem mystifying to the outsider. For example, the now-defunct North American popular culture trivia championship awarded the winner a championship belt, which was acquired somehow from a defunct minor wrestling league.
Cita & Irwin Stelzer have a nice day.Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By CITA STELZER and IRWIN STELZER
We never thought we would find ourselves stocking a pantry in Arizona. But now that Phoenix is our winter base, there we were, on line at the deli counter of a supermarket located in one of the ubiquitous strip malls that we love because they are home to thrusting small businesses as well as huge anchor tenants like the store we were in. After waiting awhile, we realized we were in a take-a-number queue. We remedied the oversight and got number 61. We both remember it because of what followed.
One way of putting the Holocaust in perspective.
Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By ANDREW NAGORSKI
Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin was both critically acclaimed and fiercely denounced. Its detractors accused the Yale historian of relativizing the Holocaust by placing it in the context of the other acts of wholesale violence in the region, particularly the terror unleashed by Stalin against his own people.
Unexpected bliss from interplanetary angst.
Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
When was the last time a movie was just, you know, lovable? Guardians of the Galaxy, maybe—all the more so because its lovability was so unexpected, coming as it did from the Marvel comic book movie factory. The same is true of The Martian, a movie so spectacularly winsome it’s almost beyond criticism. How could this have happened with this piece of hard science fiction, full of talk about orbiting distances and vectors and botany, derived from a nerdy novel first published chapter by chapter on the writer Andy Weir’s blog?
A poet who contends with the world as it is.
Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By WILL BREWBAKER
Nick Flynn writes in defiance of despair, and the poet’s fourth collection is as emotionally fraught as its title. Even the dust jacket art, which depicts an abandoned laundromat, is exhausted. My Feelings confronts suffering without flinching. The speaker sounds emotionally spent, but these poems endure in the midst of exhaustion.
The behavioral sciences scandal Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
One morning in August, the social science reporter for National Public Radio, a man named Shankar Vedantam, sounded a little shellshocked. You couldn’t blame him.
The art of writing about art.Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By MAUREEN MULLARKEY
The British painter Howard Hodgkin came to the Frick Collection some years ago to lecture. After pained attempts to deliver a prepared talk, he abandoned his notes for a monologue. Zig-zagging through art in general, his own work, and the historical canon, he came to that curious contemporary genre: art writing. Hodgkin dismissed legions of contemporary art writers with one sentence: “Too many people think they can write without ever having had to read.” It was a nimble curtsy to his longtime friend Julian Barnes.
Fred Allen and the invention of modern comedy.
Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By PHILIP BRANTINGHAM
‘Mister AL-len!” was the screechy cry of Portland Hoffa, announcing the entrance of Fred Allen on his popular radio show, Town Hall Tonight. Portland was Fred’s wife and sidekick on the show, at the time when it was one of the top three radio programs in the 1930s. (The others were Jack Benny’s and Eddie Cantor’s.) The popularity of Fred Allen’s several programs lasted into the 1940s, when the last one finally expired in 1949.
In the wrong hands, ‘shaming’ can lead to coercion.
Oct 19, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 06 • By STEFAN BECK
When Jennifer Jacquet, an assistant professor in the department of environmental studies at New York University, was a child, she persuaded her mother to buy her a book called 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. One of the simple things that the book induced her to do was to shame her parents into boycotting canned tuna.
1:53 PM, Oct 5, 2015 • By JEAN KAUFMAN
Whenever I read about the European response to the current wave of “migrants” to Europe, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “Why?”
11:26 AM, Oct 5, 2015 • By KEVIN TELFORD
This summer, EastBanc W.D.C Partners, a prominent development company, announced the construction of two residential towers with retail space in the West End of Washington, D.C., not far from George Washington University. Included in the development are plans for multiple squash courts. The squash facility, which will go by the awkward appellation “Squash on Fire,” (it rests on top of an old firehouse) will consist of eight courts totaling some 20,000 square feet.
10:00 AM, Oct 3, 2015 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual self-advertisement, has now ended for this year. Bookstores will disassemble their earnest displays of “banned books,”and the semblance of normality will return to public libraries. And we will be left with the sobering thought that, in 21st-century America, there remain people who would ban the works of Harper Lee or J.D.
12:05 PM, Oct 2, 2015 • By IKE BRANNON
The central Illinois music scene (the ostensible subject of my magazine piece this week) was amazingly fecund in the 1970s, and worthy of a self-indulgent blog post all its own. The alpha and omega of this time and place was REO Speedwagon, and Gary Richrath enjoyed an intensely loyal following around town even before he joined REO.
By spoiling a Young Adult favorite.Oct 12, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 05 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
I thought I’d wait for the furor to die down a bit before I said anything. It’s been more than two months since Go Set a Watchman was published. Presumably reviewers, pundits, liberal arts professors, people with heightened sensitivity to the role race plays in contemporary society, and the 200 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who were frog-marched through To Kill a Mockingbird in high school are calmer now.
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