Slate's Culture Blog

July 24 2014 12:41 PM

Pop Quiz: Can You Identify These ’70s Hits by Just Their First Second?

This month we’ve challenged you to identify hits from the ’90s’80s, and the last few years after hearing just the first second of each song. Now let’s go even further back, to a time of tie-dye and glitter, when rock got louder and disco got big. Dust off your snazziest platform shoes and identify these ’70s hits by their first second.

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July 24 2014 11:26 AM

Watch Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch’s Two-Woman Show From 15 Years Ago

In 1999, Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey were on the cusp of stardom. The former was hired as a Saturday Night Live cast member, while the latter served as a writer for the show. That same year, the two friends created a two-woman show, Dratch & Fey, which ran at both Chicago’s Second City and at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. One of their critically acclaimed performances has just made its way online.

The show is a fast-paced tour-de-force that finds Dratch and Fey creating wacky personas in the form of Edwina Garth Burnham, a woman’s rights pioneer, and a modern woman exploring her sexuality, respectively. And for fans of the comedians, it’s a definite treat to witness them in their element “before they were stars.”

(Via Splitsider.)

July 24 2014 10:54 AM

Dear Hollywood, Stop Stealing All Your Ideas From Frank Miller

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

In the mid-1980s, writer/artist Frank Miller crafted two of the most influential Batman stories ever told: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. It's not hard to see why they've had such a potent legacy. Even today, three decades after they were published, they remain thrilling and insightful. But I swear to God, if one more filmmaker uses them as a source text for a Batman movie, I'm going to smash my face into a concrete wall.

Today is a great day to reassess Miller's twin graphic novels' influence on the multibillion-dollar Batman movie industry, because today is Batman Day. Batman Day is, of course, an entirely made-up holiday that DC Entertainment declared to celebrate its ever-lucrative Caped Crusader's 75 years of publication history (as well as move product and build buzz in advance of this weekend's San Diego Comic-Con).

Take a look at the initial announcement of Batman Day and you'll see how much DC relies on Miller: It mentions only one comic published between 1939 and 2014, and that comic is The Dark Knight Returns. Frank Miller's Batman is still the primary ambassador between DC and the world at large. And, most important, every single Batman movie director has paid fealty to Miller's '80s tales. His grim and gritty take on ol' Batsy has crowded out all other cinematic approaches to the character.

What was once an innovation is now a cliché. It's been nearly 30 years, Hollywood. If you want to stay relevant, you have to update your inspirations.

July 24 2014 10:22 AM

The Trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey Is Here

E.L. James’ 2011 novel Fifty Shades of Grey, the first in her “bondage drama” trilogy, became an instant worldwide phenomenon that topped Harry Potter as the fastest-selling paperback ever. The trailer for the much anticipated film version premiered on the Today Show this morning. It moves through the story quickly: Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a young, timid journalist, sets out to interview Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a wealthy, brooding businessman, whom Steele describes to her roommate in a voiceover as “polite, intense, smart, and really intimidating.”

July 23 2014 9:31 PM

This Video Essay Is Great on Richard Linklater’s Subtle, Intimate Cinematography

Richard Linklater’s films are known more for their plotlessness and structured naturalism than their visual style. Thats understandable: his camerawork is subtle, and more concerned with getting the right shot for the right moment than producing striking images for their own sake. Thankfully, Nelson Carvajals new video essay gives this underrated work its due, demonstrating just how brilliantly Linklaters films use cinematography to immerse the viewer.

July 23 2014 4:23 PM

The Songs That Time Forgot

This post originally appeared at Very Small Array.

Some pop songs are timeless classics. Some play endlessly at weddings and on oldies stations. Others find renewed vigor in movie trailers or because their lyrics can be applied to Golden Grahams. Still others just, well—disappear.

We started with the top 10 songs of each year from 1900 to present (as calculated by the Whitburn Project), recording each song’s Google hits, Wikipedia presence, and last.fm scrobbles to calculate an obscurity score.

July 23 2014 4:02 PM

A Boyhood and Harry Potter Mashup 12 Years in the Making

After Nelson Carvajal made his Boyhood and Planet of the Apes mashup Apehood, film writer David Ehrlich tweeted that the idea “would have been much more effective with Harry Potter.” Ehrlich isn’t the first to make a connection between Boyhood, which was filmed with the same cast over 12 years, and the Harry Potter franchise, which was shot in a similar manner. New York’s IFC Center even hosted a Harry Potter marathon in the run up to Boyhood’s release.

Recognizing a good idea when we saw it, we edited together the trailer above: the touching story of one boy growing up … as a wizard.

July 23 2014 3:07 PM

Seth Meyers Found a Way to Make New Yorker Cartoons Really Funny

The cartoons are the worst part of The New Yorker: They’re sometimes sexist, usually unfunny, and totally out-of-step with the generally dignified tenor of the magazine. But Seth Meyers has given us a reason to appreciate the cartoons by hiring actors and set designers to bring the animations to life, a gimmick that elevates and aggrandizes the stale humor of the cartoons until it actually begins to seem funny. Last night, The Late Night Players reprised the segment by performing Live New Yorker Cartoons, Part II: Too Hot to Handle, Too Droll to Hold, with introductions and commentary by Meyers and real-life New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Props should go to the actor playing General Doug, whose commitment to the role extends to lying stiffly on a psychiatrist’s couch in a way that would make a chiropractor wince. But the real star of the show is straight man Remnick, who introduces and explains each cartoon with admirable comic restraint.

July 23 2014 1:48 PM

Sad Jack White Is the New Sad Kanye Is the New Sad Keanu

A photo of Jack White at last night’s Cubs game has begun to go viral. Though the Cubs won the game 6-0, the rock star apparently did not enjoy the game.

July 23 2014 8:16 AM

Arizona Beverages Is Now Making “Oak Brewed Tea,” for Some Reason

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The iced tea you never knew you wanted, and still probably don't want.

AriZona Beverages

Have you ever sipped an oak-aged chardonnay and thought, “This oaky flavor would be so much better in a glass of iced tea?”

No? Well, just in case you ever do, Arizona Beverages has you covered. The maker of Skinnygirl Sparklers and Organic Yumberry Green Tea has released an iced tea as inexplicable as the capital Z in its name: “AriZona Oak Reserve,” an iced tea “brewed with American Oak Chips.” What will this oak-brewed tea taste like? Arizona promises that “connoisseurs” will take to its “sophisticated tea notes and smooth oaky finish.” Thank goodness—I hate drinking tea with unsophisticated tea notes or, worse, no tea notes at all.

No word yet on how connoisseurs feel about drinking iced tea out of a plastic bottle designed to look like an oak barrel with the word “OAK” printed on it in all caps twice.

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