Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM

A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing

Any discussion of Angel Olsen begins with her voice. The singer-songwriter is young and mostly unknown, but that voice: it’s a raw and liquid instrument, one that can range from a pursed whisper to a full-throated yodel yet hit every note in between with a warbled and intense clarity. If you're among the uninitiated, the Asheville-based Olsen has released some new material—bonus track “All Right Now” and a video for “High & Wild”—that serves as an ideal introduction to her music.

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Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM

Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel

The Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal has been around for more than 30 years now, and is reportedly the “world’s largest comedy event.” The festival has now partnered with Maker Studios to launch a YouTube channel that will, on a “thrice weekly” basis, release over 500 hours of material from Just for Laughs, according to Variety.

Sept. 17 2014 5:31 PM

Did You Catch Walter White’s Blink-and-You’ll-Miss-It Cameo in Godzilla?

If you saw this year’s Godzilla reboot, you might remember the film’s well-executed opening title sequence. Splicing together archival war footage with classified government files, the sequence quickly redacts the documents’ text until the only legible words are the names of the cast and crew. The files appear uncensored for mere nanoseconds, which is why even the most diehard fans probably missed the clever nod to Breaking Bad.

Sept. 17 2014 4:07 PM

Kern Your Enthusiasm: The Genius of Jenson’s Roman

This is one of a series of posts analyzing and celebrating typefaces which first appeared at HiLobrow and will be reprinted on Brow Beat in the coming days.


In much of the world, for the better part of a millennium, the most visible, identifiable letter-form was one carved in stone on Roman statues and monuments. Square and stern and solid, if you were reading (or, more likely, just looking at) a Roman-style inscription, then you were somewhere civilized. Beyond their meaning, beyond whatever battle, orator, or Emperor they were commemorating, the letters spoke of armies, aqueducts, government.

The Roman-style letter-form was so popular, although awkward for this purpose, it was even used as a scribal hand. There’s an especially likable example, written around the 6th century, from the Book of Maccabees, residing in Durham Cathedral. It was preserved for posterity because, as with many older manuscript fragments, it had been recycled as book-binding waste.

Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM

A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated

The latest episode of PBS’ fun animated interview series Blank on Blank captures a young Michael Jackson just as he emerged into solo superstardom. Recorded in 1980, a few months following the release of Off the Wall, the interview finds Jackson discussing his own perfectionism, his feelings about being labeled “disco,” and the time he says he recorded “Ben” in one take.

The interview might not provide any grand revelations to long-time fans (in a 2010 blog post chronicling the entire experience, interviewer John Pidgeon remembered Jackson’s answers as “consistently unilluminating”), but its appeal is just as much in the bizarre form the interview took: Pidgeon was asked to direct all of his questions through Michael’s 13-year-old sister Janet, who then repeated them to her older brother. With the help of the always-great animation of Patrick Smith, the video gives a great sense of what it might have been like to be in that room.

Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.

It’s no secret that James Brown had a dark side. This summer’s biopic Get On Up left out many of the weird, uncomfortable, and simply violent incidents that Brown instituted or participated in. But it wasn’t until now that we’ve been able to get a look at just how frightening the singer could be. Earlier this month, his daughter Yamma Brown published a memoir titled Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me (co-written with Robin Gaby Fisher) that details her life growing up with her often volatile dad. In the excerpt below, Yamma flashes back to a moment when Brown beat her mother in front of her and her sister, then writes about how that violent legacy stayed with her into adulthood.

The beatings always begin the same way, with the same terrible sounds. My parents are in their bedroom, behind closed doors. First comes the boom of my father’s voice. “Dee Dee! Goddamn it, Dee Dee!” Then I hear what sounds like thunder rolling through the house. That’s Mom hitting the wall. I wait for her to scream, but she doesn’t. She whimpers. She must have learned long ago that screaming incites him.

I swear that during those fights, I could feel the whole house shake with my father’s crazy rage. Whenever he’d start, my sister Deanna and I would run for cover, usually in a closet or under our beds, and cry quietly into our cupped hands. I shook a lot as a kid. My hands. My face. My knees. A 5-year-old with tremors. As my grandma used to say, “Ain’t that just the saddest thing?” Sometimes the fights lasted only minutes. Sometimes longer. The monster would appear, wreaking havoc on our lives, and then the rumbling would stop and we’d hear our mother’s muffled cries. After that, the house would go completely quiet. The sound of the silence was the worst because that’s when Deanna and I would wonder if our mother were alive or dead and if we would be next.

Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM

This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl

David Fincher will release his latest film, Gone Girl, in October. Conveniently, Daniel Silva has put together a comprehensive tribute to Fincher’s films, a 17-minute compilation of clips that illuminates the finer points of the director’s aesthetic.

Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM

Bryan Cranston Re-Enacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason

Did you ever want to see Pedro Martinez mock Bryan Cranston while Cranston wears a singlet? You’re in luck.

This six-minute spot, made by TBS to advertise the upcoming MLB playoffs, also features Cranston as Carlton Fisk, Cranston as Derek Jeter, and Cranston as self-important actor impossibly devoted to his craft—a character that, happily, seems only half true.

Sept. 16 2014 5:07 PM

One Comedy Group Has the Perfect Idea for Ken Burns’ Next Project

Once for a college history course I huddled beneath blankets and watched Ken Burns’ nine-hour-longThe Civil War in one sitting. By hour one I had memorized the famed theme of the award-winning documentary, “Ashokan Farewell.” By hour six I had, I thought, heard every possible instrumental arrangement of “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Dixie” and seen every single way one could pan and zoom across photos. How wrong I was!

Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM

The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching

It’s been a good year for Veronica Mars fans. In the wake of the movie that launched a thousand Kickstarters, this morning brings the premiere of a spinoff Web series. The CW Seed—itself an offshoot of the CW network, which aired the final season of the show—has released the first episode of Play It Again, Dickand, at just under eight minutes, it’s just absurd enough to have Marshmallows coming back for more.