Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 18 2014 12:39 PM

Watch 550 Artists of All Kinds Answer the Question: Lennon or McCartney?

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were, obviously, an artistic partnership for the ages. And it can be surprisingly tricky to tell which Beatles songs each of them was mostly responsible for, at least on their early records.

Still most people do generally prefer one to the other, and Scared Goose Productions, a film, TV and Web series production company run by Matt Schichter, had the brilliant idea to round up 550 answers to that from interviews with musicians, actors, and other artists that were recorded during the last 10 years.

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Dec. 18 2014 12:10 PM

The Clones Are Ready for War in the Teaser for Orphan Black Season 3

The explosive Season 2 finale of Orphan Black left many unanswered questions, most notably, perhaps, “There are male clones?” The wait has felt interminable in the nearly six months since that big reveal, but a new teaser reminds us that Season 3, which premieres April 18, is at least not too far off.

Featuring Tatiana Maslany as several of her signature clones—plus Ari Millen as Mark the Prolethean and young Charlotte (from the Season 2 finale)—who say things like, “This is a fight for knowledge,” and “This is war.” April 18 can’t come too soon.

Dec. 18 2014 10:15 AM

Our Favorite Memes of 2014

This has been a banner year for memes. They have come from a variety of unexpected places. There was the bizarre 11-minute whirlwind of sitcom parody, “Too Many Cooks,” Drake’s well-documented adoption of the lint-free lifestyleAlex from Target, thrust unwittingly into the national spotlight of adoring teenage fans.

In honor of such a fruitful year, we’ve put together a list of our 10 favorites, from the political to the silly. Reminisce with us below.

Dec. 18 2014 8:03 AM

Watch Stephen Colbert’s Best Musical Moments on The Colbert Report

The Colbert Report ends on Dec. 18, and we can only hope that when Stephen Colbert heads to The Late Show in 2015 he continues to sing. Over the last nine years, we’ve watched Colbert parody Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist,” duet with Elvis Costello, stand in for Jay Z, and do so much more. Here is a look back at our favorite highlights from Colbert’s eclectic songbook.

Dec. 17 2014 8:56 PM

Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch Send Up NPR in This 1997 Second City Sketch

Splitsider’s Second City Archives series, which unearths clips of now-famous comedians performing in Chicago’s premier comedy club, is a constant treat, but the latest installment is particularly good: it’s a 1997 sketch called “Delicious Dish,” in which Tina Fey plays Lynn Mahevic, host of the sublimely-titled mock NPR show “Urban Wind.”

Dec. 17 2014 5:00 PM

Should Pie Be Square Instead of Round?

Dan Pashman, the author of the new book Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious and the host of the podcast The Sporkful, holds a lot of unconventional views about food. I recently invited Dan to join me in the kitchen to test out one of his more outlandish theories: that pie should be square instead of circular. Dan explains his hypothesis in Eat More Better:

Bottom outer crust and vertical side crust are superior, because of their positioning and thickness. They’re ideally suited to absorb flavor from the fillings while maintaining toothsinkability.
Therefore, the best bite of a slice of pie is where vertical side crust, bottom outer crust, and fillings come together:
So how can we construct a pie that has more of these precious morsels? By making pie SQUARE.

Is Dan right? Should we all throw out our pie plates right now and replace them with square cake pans? Watch the video above to find out the winner in our round vs. square bake-off.

Dec. 17 2014 4:27 PM

Screenings ofThe Interview Have Been Canceled in New York and D.C.

A spokeswoman from Allied, a film publicity company operating out of D.C., has announced that all D.C. promotional screenings of The Interview have been canceled for Wednesday evening. Though an email sent to members of the Washington area press didn’t elaborate on reasons, the cancellations are likely related to threats from the alleged hackers of Sony’s computer system. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001,” the group, which calls itself Guardians of Peace, warned in late November. “Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

The Interview stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as hapless friends who are sucked into a Kim Jong-Un assassination scheme. The New York City premiere of The Interview has already been called off, as have promotional appearances by Rogen and Franco. As of this post, a Slate writer was able to confirm by phone that the New York City screening scheduled for 8 p.m. at AMC Lowes on West 34th Street is also canceled, though no official email has yet been sent.

Update, Dec. 17, 5:06 p.m.: It’s official. Sony has pulled The Interview from theatrical release. Here’s the full statement:

In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

Dec. 17 2014 4:13 PM

The Black Mirror Christmas Special Is Brilliant and Disturbing

The title of Black Mirror, the rightly celebrated British anthology series about the sinister side of technology, refers to all of the screens that surround us. The phones, tablets, televisions, computers—the very screen you are reading this on: They are all black mirrors, reflecting ourselves back to ourselves, darkly. Each of the show’s six, masterfully constructed, newly-arrived-on-Netflix episodes is completely self-contained—and most end with a sickening twist. The episodes brim with ideas that are utterly sensible extrapolations from our current cultural and technological moment, and yet are so much more fanged, fierce, and sour than the often Pollyanna-ish predictions we make about future technologies, and, more to the point, how we will use them. You think it would be cool to record everything that’s ever happened to you and call it up for review whenever you want? Watch “The Entire History of You” and get back to me. Black Mirror is, roughly speaking, about the future, but what it reflects back again and again are basic human flaws, magnified with the help of increasingly powerful tools.

Dec. 17 2014 3:26 PM

Adult Swim’s Follow-Up to “Too Many Cooks” Is Even Darker and Just as Good

Adult Swim has been killing it lately with a series of aggressively weird late nightinfomercials,” the Internet-freakout-inducing “Too Many Cooks” being, of course, the runaway hit. This week’s “Unedited Footage of a Bear” is just as mind-meltingly good, though it is even darker and more abrasive. What starts as, well, unedited footage of a bear transitions into a parody of allergy medicine commercials then slowly descends into a Lynchian nightmare of crumbling psyches. But, as with “Cooks,” it’s best to just click play and let it take you for a ride:

Dec. 17 2014 2:34 PM

Funny or Die Is Excited for the Final Episode of Serial. No Pressure, Sarah Koenig!

Fans of Serial have spent most of the last week on the edge of their seats. With the final episode of the blockbuster true-crime podcast set for release tomorrow, we’ll finally find out ... well, what, exactly?