A linear look at the best of the year from our “Blog” section

Part 1 today, Part 2 tomorrow

March 4th  Watson: Just How Scared Should We Be? 

“Billed as the ultimate intellectual showdown between man and machine, Watson wowed audiences with its ability to understand human speech, parse crappy puns, avoid calling Brad and Ken things like ‘organ sack’ or ’tissue mound,’ and keep mum on the subject of world domination.” –Jesse Montgomery

March 17th The Leatherman Cometh

“The lore surrounding Hoboes, Vagabonds, Drifters, Rogues, Tramps and Striders excite in us a passion seemingly unmatched by other American itinerants. Few are quite as interesting, confusing, and regional as The Leatherman, who kept a precise circuit in the Hudson River area between 1856 to 1889.” – Max Rivlin-Nadler

March 18th Dispatches from SXSW: Corporate Branding, Social Media, Tasty Food

 “I can already see such transformations working on the three levels of desperation fueling any event like this: the corporate desire to establish and sustain meaningful connections with consumers is heightened by making festivalgoers dependent on their beneficence (directing them to and then underwriting parties); the festivalgoer’s desire to gain access to an exclusive space is radically expanded by the effective use of cutting edge social media channels; and finally the gatekeepers of venues and parties are able to manage access in creative ways by engineering how guest lists are compiled.” – Michael Schapira

April 14 Roald Dahl Stories to Appear on UK Cereal Boxes

“Let me tell you 5 ways in which this plan will totally backfire and destroy a generation of future Ricky Gervais’s, and Hugh Grants’s, and other bumbling footy-players:

  1. The illiterate children who are infuriated by the illegible characters on the back of their Frosty O’days (or whatever the fuck kind of cereal they have in The UK, and if they are talking about oatmeal, so help me god), will turn away from reading and writing forever, instead spending their days in coal mines or chimneys and their evenings in dark pubs, fondling their tattered books of mazes.
  2. Children will develop a deep “Matilda” complex, remaining brilliant and resilient in the face of persistent child abuse. While the amount of items moved by the minds of children will rise, the amount of unreported negligence and abuse of minors will almost triple.” – Max Rivlin-Nadler

April 27 Notes on a Non-Scandal

“Jennifer vs. Jennifer! Jodi vs. Jonathan! Aren’t we tired of this yet? But then, here I am again, reading all about the Jennifers. And when I came across Deena Drewis’s post in The Millions on Monday about the whole Egan/Weinerkerfuffle — and her strongly held views on “chick lit” as a term and a genre — I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.” – Nika Knight

May 18 “Kegasus”

Kegasus, a demigod, was conceived when Broseidon appeared to Diana (of Delta Phi Omega) in the form of a Lacrosse player. Taken by Diana’s ability to name all the championship years of Coorsica University, Broseidon sired Kegasus.

Renowned for showing up to Dionysian parties just as “things were winding down”, he would nonetheless demand a serving of “Weed” and inquire “Are there any more of those Nymphos around?”

The constellation Kegasus, located in the Mid-Atlantic sky, represents the liminal struggle between one’s animal nature and one’s need to maintain eligibility for next season…. – The Editors

May 20 “Kindling”

“With the advent of electrophoretic ink, the demise of the manual typewriter (the last producer is switching to refrigerators), and now, Amazon.com’s announcement that they are selling more e-books than print books, those flexible sheets of wood pulp known as paper seem to be on their way out. And while we’ve talked about how this will affect everything, how this will not affect everything, and how we should stop talking about how this will or will not affect everything, we seem to have forgotten, once again, the real victims of the digital revolution: book burners.” – Eric Jett

May 31 “Illusions are for Cowards. Cast Spells That Hurt.”

The following parody borrows heavily from Jonathan Franzen’s New York Times op-ed ‘Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.

“A COUPLE of weeks ago, I replaced my three hundred-year-old magic wand with a much more powerful sceptre. Needless to say, I was impressed with how far the technology had advanced in three hundred years. Even when I didn’t have anything to enchant or shroud or animate, I wanted to keep fondling my new wand and experiencing the marvelous clarity of its runes, the silky action of its handle, the shocking speed of its spells, the beguiling elegance of its inlay.” – Alex Shephard and Eric Jett

June 8 Jonathan Safran Foer: A Day in the Life

“As Jonathan Safran Foer opened his eyes and stared up at the vaulted, 100 year old ceiling of his Park Slope brownstone, he thought, “Today I will not only impress my Jewish mother, but all the Jewish mothers everywhere.” This was not an unusual thought for Jonathan Safran Foer to have. In fact, it had been his first thought every morning for the past 25 years.

But today was different. Today he would finally achieve his goal. Today he would put the finishing touches on the project he had been working on in his finished basement for the past 18 months: “Grantiful,” a robot that felt real human sadness and also submitted winning applications for grants.” –Alex Shephard and Max Rivlin-Nadler

July 13 St. Louis is the Northwest Border of the Confederacy

“It’s summer, and for me that means it’s time for a trip back home to visit the family in St. Louis. When I think of summer in St. Louis a few things spring to mind, the first of which is the humidity. People in New York complain about humidity and I just have to smile and nod. Walking outside in St. Louis is like being gently covered by a warm, invisible, wet blanket. It’s almost a jungle heat. The only place I can think of that’s potentially more humid is New Orleans. 

The second thing I think of is Fair Saint Louis, an outdoor music festival and air show that is this year being headlined by edgy and challenging acts Maroon 5 and Montgomery Gentry. If you’re doing the cultural math in your head, the correct result would be: White People Festival. And not only would you be correct this year, but that conclusion would have held even more truth when the fair first began in 1878.”– Scott Beauchamp


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