Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 21 2014 1:11 PM

Mike Myers Returns as Dr. Evil to Mock North Korea and the Sony Hacks

SNL’s last episode of 2014, hosted by Amy Adams, yielded plenty of comic delights, but perhaps its best moment was the very first sketch.

In the episode’s cold open, Mike Myers reprised his beloved Dr. Evil character, the finger-gnawing, kitten-petting villain from the Austin Powers movies. The occasion? North Korea’s alleged hack of Sony, which is giving “evil organizations a bad name.” Myers also works in some funny self-deprecation, noting that if North Korea really wants “to put a bomb in a theater, do what I did—put in The Love Guru.”

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Dec. 21 2014 12:42 PM

Watch SNL’s Brilliant, Christmas-Themed Parody of Serial

Serial, the historically popular true crime podcast, ended its first season earlier this week. Now we have the inevitable SNL parody, in which Cecily Strong impeccably plays host Sarah Koenig.

The parody investigates the story of Kris Kringle, an elf who allegedly leaves presents in peoples’ homes, and we get smart riffs on all of Serial’s signature traits: Sarah Koenig’s “introspective, chatty, sometimes brazenly naïve” manner; Adnan’s endearing, constantly equivocating phone calls; and, most importantly, Nick Thorburn’s catchy soundtrack.

Dec. 20 2014 6:45 PM

Craig Ferguson Left the Late Late Show With a Quirky, Deeply Referential Farewell Video

Craig Ferguson left the Late Late Show on Friday, marking the end of a 10-year tenure. Ferguson was late night’s best host, and one who routinely inched the genre toward improvised and experimental territory, so it’s only proper that he bid farewell with a bizarre video that eschewed nostalgia and instead referenced the endings of several other TV shows.

Dec. 20 2014 5:47 PM

Nicki Minaj Dropped a Three-Act, Unusually Candid Short Film for The Pinkprint

The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj’s much-delayed new album, was finally released earlier this week. It was worth the wait: track by track, the record is a stellar, “unexpectedly moody” triumph, with Minaj threading her usual bluster with moving strands of confessional storytelling. In keeping with this newfound candor, she’s released a short film that uses four Pinkprint songs—“All Things Go,” “The Crying Game,” “I Lied,” and “Grand Piano”—to render some of the record’s main themes.

Dec. 20 2014 1:00 PM

Madonna Releases Six Songs From New, Leaked Album Rebel Heart

Earlier this week, 13 demos, all supposedly for Madonna’s forthcoming album, found their way online. The new record had yet to be given a title or release date, spurring the singer to denounce the leaks as “a form of terrorism” and “artistic rape.” She’s now taken matters into her own hands, revealing the album’s title—Rebel Heart—and releasing for download six brand-new, completed songs as an “early Christmas gift” to fans.

Dec. 19 2014 5:10 PM

Watch an Annotated Version of Colbert’s Farewell Song and See Who All Those People Were

 

Thursday night’s finale of The Colbert Report practically begged for it, so here it is: the definitive video annotation of everyone who appeared during the final sing-along to “We’ll Meet Again.”

 

Well, almost everyone.

Dec. 19 2014 4:08 PM

Watch These Chefs Make the World’s Most Beautiful, Complex Gingerbread House

Modernist Cuisine, a collective of chefs, scientists, and writers led by Nathan Myhrvold, is best known for its six-volume, $500 encyclopedia of innovative cooking techniques. Even if you haven’t dropped half a grand on the books, you might have seen some of Myhrvold’s stunning food photography, which prove that food can be a medium for visual art as much as culinary art. Incidentally, an exhibit of fifty Modernist Cuisine photographs is currently on museum tour.

Dec. 19 2014 3:31 PM

If You Liked Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, Will You Like Paul Thomas Anderson’s?

To read Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice is to trip through a convoluted, psychedelic detective mystery, where one minute things seem clear and the next the facts have vanished in a foggy, pot-infused haze. The 2009 novel, set in fictional Gordita Beach, Calif., follows stoner P.I. Larry “Doc” Sportello as he becomes entangled in the bizarre case of a missing billionaire. As with Raymond Chandler’s pulp classic The Big Sleep, Inherent Vice isn’t always easy to follow—it’s more concerned with characterization and mood than it is with plot.

Dec. 19 2014 1:35 PM

This App Wants to Teach You How to Bake Without Measuring Anything

Not long ago, the people behind an app called Perfect Bake sent me a free kit so that I could review their product. They also tried to get into my good graces by including a small Tupperware full of cookies and muffins. Full disclosure: I ate them. I was famished.

Nonetheless, I expected to hate Perfect Bake, an “app-controlled smart baking system that turns anyone into a master pastry chef,” put out by Pure Imagination LLC, a company that makes “smart products.” The centerpiece of the Perfect Bake kit is a digital scale which, when connected to your mobile device, allows you to make recipes from the Perfect Bake database without paying attention to how much of each ingredient you’re adding. “Just place a bowl on the scale and start adding ingredients,” explains the Perfect Bake website. A “virtual bowl” on your phone or table screen “fills up and shows you when to stop” with a loud beep.

In other words, with Perfect Bake, you don’t have to measure anything. The scale and app do all the measuring for you. But does Perfect Bake really turn anyone into a master pastry chef—and if so, is that a good thing?

Dec. 19 2014 12:54 PM

Serial Might Have Been Better if Sarah Koenig Had Been Less Likable

Many listeners tuned in to the 12th and final episode of Serial yesterday looking for an answer to the podcast’s central mystery: Who killed Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee? I was listening to see if Sarah Koenig would finally ask a tough question.

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