Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Nov. 22 2017 5:31 AM

Finally: A Genius, Fully Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Turkey

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52.

What if you could wake up on Thanksgiving morning and not have to roast a turkey? (This isn’t a trick question—you still get to eat turkey.)

The oven would be free to churn through pies and stuffing and whatever unexpected casseroles might show up. You wouldn’t need to worry about maneuvering and babysitting a 15-pound roast beast while the kitchen is full of other bustle. And best of all, there would be no fear of the bird drying out, whether mistimed or forgotten—thanks to some very clever advance planning.

Nov. 22 2017 1:07 AM

Good News! Good Show The Good Place Gets New Season, Should be Good

Mike Schur’s good show The Good Place did good and should return, reports a reporter at the Hollywood Reporter. Showrunner Schur started the show in 2015; the third season of the thirty minute comedy, like the two that preceded it, will be 13 episodes long. Thrilling!

Schur’s show shows the story of Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who succumbs to shock from a shopping cart smash-up, and whose soul subsequently suffers in “the Good Place,” a suspiciously shitty Sartrean state supervised by a spirit named Michael (Ted Danson). William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and D’Arcy Carden round out the excellent cast; the writing staff includes former Gawker editor Cord Jefferson and comedian/failed Glee auditioner Megan Amram.

The Good Place, which has already explored philosophy and produced an epic list of punny restaurant names appropriate for a hypothetical afterlife where things are not all that great, returns Jan. 4.

Nov. 21 2017 11:42 PM

Partridge Family Star David Cassidy Has Died at 67

Partridge Family star David Cassidy died Tuesday at the age of 67, the New York Times reports. The cause of death was organ failure, according to his publicist.

Cassidy was born in New York City in 1950. He debuted as an actor on Broadway in a short-lived 1969 musical called The Fig Leaves are Falling, which lasted long enough to earn him a screen test in Los Angeles. After moving to California, Cassidy booked small roles on several TV shows before being cast as Keith Partridge, the oldest of five children in a family musical act, on ABC’s The Partridge Family. (His stepmother Shirley Jones played his mother on the show.)

The show, which ran for four seasons and turned Cassidy into a teen idol, was produced by Screen Gems Television, the same company behind The Monkees, and as with that other show about a fictional band, merchandising and record deals were very much part of the package. In the case of The Partridge Family, none of the cast members were originally supposed to do more than lip-sync their songs, but Cassidy talked his way into the recording sessions and he and his stepmother became the two members of the Partridge Family who actually sang.

The Partridge Family yielded several hit records, including the 1970 #1 hit “I Think I Love You,” and Cassidy launched a solo career, charting in his own right with “Cherish” in 1972. By the time his television show was cancelled after four seasons, he’d played sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium. But he was uneasy with the commercialization of his own image, telling one interviewer, “I’m exploited by people who put me on the back of cereal boxes.”

After The Partridge Family ended, Cassidy stopped touring and worked as a recording artist only. He eventually returned to acting, picking up an Emmy nomination in 1978. In his later years, he faced struggles both with money and with alcohol, even as he began performing again was involved with several successful Las Vegas shows. He was married and divorced three times and is survived by a son and a daughter.

Here’s how Cassidy described being a teen idol in a 1972 Rolling Stone interview:

It’s a high going out on that stage. You look around and it’s all there for you, people loving you like that. My friends are there with me, I’m doing what I love to do most, singing and I’m singing for people who would rather have me sing than anybody else in the world.
“There's one song I do, ‘I Woke Up in Love This Morning,’ and I find a little place where I can sort of point to them. And they each think I mean them, and I do.

Nov. 21 2017 4:48 PM

John Lasseter Taking Leave of Absence from Disney-Pixar as Misconduct Allegations Emerge

John Lasseter, the head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, overseer of Pixar Animation Studios, and a giant in the industry, is taking a leave of absence as anonymous sources allege that he engaged in inappropriate behavior.

The news of Lasseter’s sabbatical came just minutes before a new Hollywood Reporter story broke in which multiple unnamed “former Pixar insiders as well as sources in the animation community” accuse Lasseter of a pattern of misconduct. One “longtime Pixar employee” reportedly said that Lasseter made a habit of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” and drinks heavily at social events and premieres. Others in the story allege that women at Pixar would routinely turn their heads to avoid a kiss from Lasseter and that Lasseter would touch women inappropriately at meetings and company functions.

The Hollywood Reporter story also cites anonymous sources who claim that an unwanted advance from Lasseter is the reason that Rashida Jones and writing partner Will McCormack stopped working on Toy Story 4. Jones and McCormack have denied this to the New York Times in a joint statement, attributing their departure to an environment they say is unfair to women and minorities:

The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible, and, in fact, counterproductive for the people who do want to tell their stories. The Hollywood Reporter does not speak for us. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences. There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.

Disney declined to comment on the story to the Hollywood Reporter, but in an internal staff memo obtained by THR and confirmed by Variety, Lasseter announced that he would be taking a leave of absence, writing that he recently had “a number of difficult conversations” and referring to unspecified “missteps.”

The memo continues:

It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.

Lasseter also wrote that he would be taking a six-month sabbatical to “start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

Update, Nov. 21, 9:15 p.m.: This post has been updated with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack's statement to the New York Times.

Nov. 21 2017 1:37 PM

CBS Fires Charlie Rose Over Alleged “Extremely Disturbing and Intolerable Behavior”

 

CBS has fired news anchor Charlie Rose following a Washington Post report in which eight women accused him of sexual harassment. CBS, along with PBS and Bloomberg, had already suspended Rose, host of CBS This Morning, in light of the allegations. But on Tuesday, a memo was circulated to CBS News staffers announcing that Rose had been fired.

 

“A short time ago we terminated Charlie Rose’s employment with CBS News, effective immediately,” wrote CBS News President David Rhodes. “This followed the revelation yesterday of extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior said to have revolved around his PBS program.”

Nov. 21 2017 1:03 PM

Colbert: Trump Demands Gratitude from UCLA Players, Because Thanksgiving Is About Receiving Thanks

On Monday’s Late Show, Stephen Colbert addressed what is quite possibly a new low in Trumpian pettiness: Demanding public gratitude for a good deed, and then wishing he could take it back when he didn’t recieve the thanks he had hoped for.

Trump’s weirdest episodes tend to come on weekends, so in Colbert’s world, “Monday means that it’s time to dig through Trump’s weekend tweets and pick out the little kernels of corn.” And what ridiculously juicy kernels he had to play with this week.

If you haven’t been following this saga closely (and who could blame you), Trump is in the throes of another public fight with a black sporting figure. After securing the release of three UCLA basketball players from a Chinese jail, Trump decided to show off his altrusim by demanding their thanks, tweeting, “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

It seems Trump needs validation for every action he performs as president, great or small. “Imagine Thanksgiving at the Trump house,” said Colbert, before breaking out his Trump impersonation, calling to mind the disturbing June cabinet meeting in which members went around the table praising the president. “‘Let’s go ’round the table and all say what we’re thankful to me for. I’ll start.’”

But when one of the men’s fathers, LaVar Ball, was asked about what Donald Trump had done for his son, his response was the most triggering reaction possible for the president: “Who?” As someone whose job revolves around making fun of the president, Colbert knew this was a good one. “Pretending not to know him is the meanest thing you can do to Donald Trump,” he said. “Knowing who he is is his whole thing. That’s why he puts his name on all his buildings, and one of his kids.”

At Ball’s snub, Trump’s attempt at “kind benefactor” melted away. He tweeted that Ball was “unaccepting” of what he did and said that he should have left the American men in a Chinese jail, proving once and for all that Donald Trump is not only incapable of altruism: He is also the tiniest man alive.

Strategically though, this may not be the smartest move for Trump, says Colbert: “Now’s not the time to be suggesting that someone should go to jail for what their dad did.”

Nov. 21 2017 11:36 AM

Charlie Rose’s CBS This Morning Co-Hosts Had Frank Responses to the Allegations Against Him

“What do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?” Gayle King asked that question on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, but she and Norah O’Donnell could teach a master class about how to respond when someone you work with is accused of sexual harassment. King and O’Donnell, co-hosts of CBS This Morning, bluntly addressed the elephant in the room, the absence of their third co-host, Charlie Rose, who was suspended by CBS News on Monday after eight women shared stories of misconduct in a Washington Post report. (Rose has apologized for “inappropriate behavior” but said he does not believe all of the allegations are accurate.)

O’Donnell spoke first:

This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment of where we stand and, more generally, the safety of women. Let me be very clear. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and pervasive, and I’ve been doing a lot of listening, and I’m going to continue to do that. This I know is true: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility. I am really proud to work at CBS News. There are so many incredible people here, especially on this show, all of you here. This will be investigated. This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period.

King then spoke up to note that she was still “reeling” from yesterday’s Post story and had slept less than two hours the night before. “Both my son and my daughter called me. Oprah called me and said, ‘Are you OK?’ I am not OK.”

King encouraged women to continue speaking up about misconduct and said that her personal and professional relationship with Rose does not overrule her support for the women who accused Rose. “I’ve enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the past five years,” she said. “I’ve held him in such high regard, and I’m really struggling, because what do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible? […] That said, Charlie does not get a pass here.”

Both King and O’Donnell were frank and unequivocal, making it clear that Rose’s behavior is unacceptable and part of a wider problem. King, who has co-hosted CBS This Morning with Rose since its launch in January 2012, made a point of expressing her sympathy for the women who have spoken out even as she tried to reconcile the actions in the Post story with the Rose she knew.

Nov. 21 2017 9:33 AM

Charles Manson Is Dead, but Pop Culture Is Keeping Him Alive

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Charles Manson, the man who convinced his followers to commit a notoriously brutal spree of murders in 1969, has died. But as far as pop culture is concerned, Charles Manson is alive and well.

In the half-century since Manson’s acolytes killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others on an August night in the Hollywood Hills, then murdered grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, the evening after, the remorseless cult leader and his crimes have inspired all manner of popular art and artists. That includes books (Helter Skelter, last year’s The Girls by Emma Cline); plays (an opera called The Manson Family and Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, in which Manson follower Squeaky Fromme plays a key role); films (the 1973 documentary Manson and the more recent indie comedy Manson Family Vacation); music (Marilyn Manson is named, in part, after him, while the Sonic Youth track “Death Valley ‘69” is about the Manson family); and television shows (the NBC series Aquarius, not to mention a lot of allusions in Mad Men).

Nov. 21 2017 8:33 AM

A Three-Tier Pie That’s Thanksgiving Dinner All in One

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52.

People do crazy things at Thanksgiving. Whether it’s deep frying a 25-pound bird or stuffing different birds inside one another to make one gigantic feast of a bird—this holiday is consistently epic in the food world. And while I normally cede to more traditional holiday dinner plans, this year I wanted to try something epic of my own.

I wrote recently about hot water crust, the amazingly sturdy pie crust that holds up well to heavy or wet fillings. Even more importantly, hot water crust pies are easy to unmold and so sturdy they can be stacked on top of one another to create a tiered pie. You heard right—move over tiered cakes, it’s pie’s turn.

 

Nov. 21 2017 7:33 AM

All the Songs on Sia’s New Christmas Album, Ranked

I know what you’re thinking: It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! It’s too early for a Christmas album! Maybe that’s why Sia decided to call hers Everyday Is Christmas, to get ahead of the Christmas-in-November criticisms. (And yes, the title should probably  be “every day,” not “everyday,” but let’s not be grammatical Grinches about this.)

As she explained in an interview with Zane Lowe, Sia chose to skip covering any of the usual standbys in favor of an album comprised entirely of original songs, co-written by Sia and her longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin. “I thought we had a bit of a shortage of good Christmas music,” she said. “There's obviously the classics and stuff, but anything new, I wasn't vibing that much on it.” The result is that Everyday Is Christmas stays true to its title, mixing Sia’s pop sensibilities with the sounds of the season for a solid Christmas album that can also hold up year-round.

That said, not every song on Everyday Is Christmas is created equal, so we’ve ranked them for you, below. We’ve also noted which songs are festive enough to make your Christmas party playlist and which are better suited for a quiet evening roasting chestnuts by the fire.

10. “Puppies Are Forever”

I’ll surely be in the doghouse for putting this one so low on the list, but so be it. Sia’s answer to “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” is a warning that owning a dog is a big commitment, so think carefully before adopting one for yourself—or giving it as a gift. “Puppies are forever, not just for Christmas,” she instructs on the song’s chorus. “Cause they're so cute and fluffy with shiny coats/ But will you love ’em when they're old and slow?” A choir of barking dogs backs her up for maximum whimsy. It’s an important PSA, especially around the holidays, but it gets old fast, and the message is at odds with the peppy melody.

How festive is it? Jingle bell rock on.

9. “Snowflake”

Everyone’s favorite internet insult just got a musical number to go along with it. This is a lovely but ultimately forgettable lullaby that uses the impermanence of snow as a metaphor for a relationship. Our pick for the No. 1 song on the album covers a lot of the same ground—both ballads even put “snow” right in the title—but “Snowflake” is easily the weaker of the two.

How festive is it? Save for a silent night.

8. “Santa’s Coming for Us”

Sia is acclaimed not just as a musician in her own right but for a successful songwriting career, having written hits for the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Carly Rae Jepsen. That’s why it absolutely tickles me that the first line of “Santa’s Coming for Us” sounds like “Something something something something HOT CHOCOLATE.” Every third word or so is unintelligible, which makes listening to the song like eavesdropping on a conversation that’s just a little too far away to hear properly. Catchy, but too marble-mouthed to rank any higher.

How festive is it? Jingle bell rock on.

7. “Sunshine”

Not everyone loves the holiday season; for some, it can be stressful or lonely, and the days are short and dark. On “Sunshine,” Sia promises to make those days a little brighter, singing “I'm Santa's helper and I've got your back/ All my love is gift-wrapped/ Don't be scared, I'm by your side.” Just as sunny as the title promises.

How festive is it? Jingle bell rock on.

6. “Ho Ho Ho”

You can thank Robert Louis Stevenson for this one, since “Ho Ho Ho” takes a line from the fictional pirate song he invented (“yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum”), tweaks a single letter, and turns it into a tribute to holiday booze. Unabashedly loopy—just listen to those slide whistles!—and wholly creative, “Ho Ho Ho” is the winter companion to Sia’s summer megahit, “Cheap Thrills.”

How festive is it? Jingle bell rock on.

5. “Everyday Is Christmas”

If the album’s moody title track isn’t the end-credits song for every Christmas movie that comes out in 2017, then what was even the point?

How festive is it? Save for a silent night.

4. “Underneath the Christmas Lights”

Probably the most traditional, and most restrained, song on the album, but it’s beautiful in its simplicity. Sung with almost religious intensity despite the secularism of the lyrics, Sia lets her voice waver and crack on the verses before launching into those haunting high-note howls.

How festive is it? Save for a silent night.

3. “Candy Cane Lane”

Between the sleigh bells and the lyrics (“I’ll call Rudolph down to meet us in the street/ We can dance, he can prance/ There’s no can’ts, ’cause here everything is possible”), this bouncy little earworm is as Christmassy as they come.

How festive is it? Jingle bell rock on.

2. “Underneath the Mistletoe”

Ah, the mistletoe, a staple of any holiday album. Sia urges on an imaginary lover as she waits beneath the plant, wanting to rush “like a fool would.” There’s a lot of power behind the song, from the swooping “la la la la la la”s to the belted-out chorus, but the best parts are the breathy repetitions of “you and me here, underneath the mistletoe.”

How festive is it? Save for a silent night.

1. “Snowman”

This ballad will surely invite some “Mister Police” jokes, and yes, the music video for this would probably be very funny to behold. But this is actually a moving, bluesy love song about a relationship threatened by the promise of spring:

Don’t cry, snowman, not in front of me
Who’ll catch your tears if you can’t catch me, darling
If you can’t catch me, darling
Don’t cry, snowman, don’t leave me this way
A puddle of water can’t hold me close, baby
Can’t hold me close, baby

While not as flashy as “Candy Cane Lane” or as singular as “Ho Ho Ho,” “Snowman” has the advantage of taking something we associate with winter and applying it to a universal theme. Sia has said that she penned the entire album in just two weeks, and it shows with some of the others songs' lyrics, but not with “Snowman,” which is smart enough and sweet enough to hold up well beyond December.

How festive is it? Save for a silent night.

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