The Timelessness of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”
At 5:07 p.m. Central Time this afternoon, radio stations across the country will join Minnesota Public Radio's KCMP in broadcasting “Nothing Compares 2 U” to mark the lyrically appropriate “seven hours and 13 days” since since Prince's death. “We just wanted to honor the man we called our friend, and the music we all love,” program director Jim McGuinn told CBS News, "and thought that maybe we might be able to get radio stations all over the world to share this moment with fans who are missing this great artist.”
If, like many people, you know the song from Sinéad O'Connor's chart-topping version, the commemoration may seem 48 hours premature, since O'Connor changed the song's opening words, perhaps so she could linger over the soft consonants in “fifteen days” rather than deal with those hard r's and t's. But though “Nothing Compares 2 U” will always be associated with O'Connor, Prince’s composition was first recorded in 1985 by a short-lived Minneapolis band called the Family, whose first and only album was released in 1985. Never issued on CD or digital in the U.S., the out-of-print LP has been unavailable for nearly 30 years—and genuinely unavailable, not just “I can't listen to it for free right now” unavailable like most of Prince's catalogue—but the (apparently) temporary moratorium on takedown notices for Prince-related content gives us a window to appreciate how he first heard the song, and how it's evolved through the years and dozens of subsequent versions.
Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and J.J. Abrams Duet in Huttese in the Latest #Ham4Ham
Ever since The Force Awakens came out last December, fans (us included) have been asking Lin-Manuel Miranda and J.J. Abrams when they’d be releasing the song they co-wrote for the new Star Wars movie’s cantina scene. Now that day is finally here, and the Hamilton creator and the Star Wars director saved a special surprise for it.
For this week’s #Ham4Ham show—planned for this year’s Star Wars Day (so named because it’s when fans say “May the fourth be with you”)—the two made their first public appearance as cantina band Shag Kava to perform “Jabba Flow,” before announcing that the song is now available on music services including iTunes and Apple Music. If you’ve ever wondered why Shag Kava are called that or what in the name of “jizz music” they’re singing, Miranda explained that, too: The lyrics translate to “No, lover lover, it wasn’t me,” meaning that all along the whole thing was an elaborate homage to Shaggy, and no one ever noticed. So that’s the story of why Lin-Manuel Miranda is a MacArthur-certified genius and you are not.
Kendrick Lamar Jammed With Prince Two Years Ago, and Now We Have the Electrifying Video
If there’s any comfort to be had from Prince’s untimely death two weeks ago, you’ll find it in the outpouring of new videos of Prince performances that have been popping up online ever since. One such clip comes to us via Facebook fan group the Prince Museum, who released this rare, electrifying footage of Kendrick Lamar performing live with His Royal Badness at Paisley Park in 2014.
Trevor Noah Called Out Ted Cruz for His Baffling, Way Too Late Trump Rant
Ted Cruz is out, Donald Trump is in, and Trevor Noah had a lot to say about the both of them on last night’s Daily Show. Noah painted a pretty grim portrait of the last hours of Cruz’s now-defunct campaign, which he spent being called a “fish monster” by an Indiana Trump supporter and deflecting some pretty bizarre accusations that his evangelical father was somehow involved in the assassination of JFK.
But the former presidential candidate didn’t take any of that lying down: Noah went on to pick apart the rant Cruz delivered against Trump ahead of the Indiana primary, in which the Texas senator and sometime Psychrolutes marcidus called his opponent, among other things, “a narcissist,” “utterly amoral,” and “a pathological liar.”
“I Just Don’t Find American Literature Interesting”: Lit-Blog Pioneer Jessa Crispin Closes Bookslut, Does Not Bite Tongue
In 2002, Jessa Crispin was a 23-year-old college dropout from Kansas working for Planned Parenthood in Austin, Texas. That’s when she started a webzine called Bookslut. It very quickly became a surprisingly big deal, at least in the small world some now called the Bookternet—which was really more an era than a place, a time when the web looked like the answered prayers of readers and critics in a shrinking print marketplace. Anchored by a blog, strongly skewed toward small presses, and branded with a nude sketch of a woman reading in bed, Bookslut made Crispin a pioneer in the online universe; like many of her peers, she gradually elbowed her way into the Establishment, writing reviews in major papers and two books, The Dead Ladies Project and The Creative Tarot. But the web has changed since 2002, for bookish writing as much as everything else, and last month, she announced in a laconic blog post that Bookslut’s May issue, which goes live on the site’s 14th anniversary, would be its last.
There will be a wake “for our dear little slut” at Brooklyn’s Melville House Books on May 6, and the archives will remain online “until the Apocalypse comes.” A few weeks ago, Crispin met us for a brunch-time exit interview in Fort Greene.
What are you doing in Brooklyn?
I’m writing a book that’s due at the end of May, and so there are a lot of meetings where my publisher [Melville House] has to take me to lunch and tell me I’m not a bad writer.
What’s the gist of the book?
That contemporary feminism is not only embarrassing but incredibly misguided to the point where I can’t associate myself with it. There’s outrage culture, safe spaces, the lean-in culture—but also the Gen-X-Baby-Boomer rah-rah capitalism, yay! And also a lot of misguided notions about gender. As if women are somehow more naturally empathetic than men, and all we need is full participation in public life and somehow the world gets better. Which is not the case.
Tell me why you’re shutting down Bookslut.
It’s just a really slow process. Running it takes a lot of time, and it makes no money so I’ve been pouring money into it for 14 years. We always were trying to figure out ways to keep it going. I had a meeting with my managing editor, and we went through all these ideas and nothing seemed viable, and we said, “Oh, we should just close it, shouldn’t we?”
Genius Crispy, Fluffy (Vegan) Waffles With a Very Strange Secret
This post originally appeared on Food52.
Moms, listen up: This recipe will avenge every time your kids scoffed when you mixed in the healthy cereal with the sugary stuff, every time you enforced the TV rules, every time you made an unpopular decision about lima beans or BB guns or bedtime and stuck with it. I’m just going to say it: You were right.
And nonmoms, stick around—you’ll get some really great waffles out of it (and another good reason to call your mother).
As controversial as sneaking healthy ingredients into junky kid-foods may be (I’ve been known to throw stones myself), parents need to do what they need to do. And, in at least this one case, doing the unthinkable in the name of health led to a totally genius result.
The unthinkable? Emptying an entire package of tofu into the waffle batter.
Surprise! The Best Part of Game of Thrones Is Bran Stark and His Weird Tree.
The sixth season of Game of Thrones, while still young, is proving to be as awkwardly paced and claustrophobic as the last. Unsurprising and senseless things are happening in cages and dark rooms and on rickety bridges. It’s all rather ho hum, with one exception: The only story with any measure of grace and wonder, belonging to a character who was completely absent from Season 5: Brandon Stark.
Surprise! You may need time to come to terms with this development. If, like many, you’re accustomed to groaning every time Bran appears on screen, you may have spent the opening scene of Sunday’s Episode 2, “Home,” sympathizing with Meera, who complains that during his visions “nothing happens.” Indeed, the younger Stark has always been the most maligned, for his dawdling odyssey, beset by indecipherable visions, in search of a bird. There’s also the fact that the little Bran we first got to know aged with alarming (and mockable) speed. But worst of all, the character was insufferably reactive, needing constant pushing and pulling by everyone around him as he vacillated between whining and rolling his eyes back into his head.
All that has changed. Bran’s absence from Season 5, which once seemed like an expediency, now feels like a stroke of genius.
Watch Five Movie Politicians Go Out With a Bigger Bang Than Ted Cruz
Tuesday was the last day of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, and the senator went out with a bang, telling reporters, “I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump,” before giving a lengthy speech about the presumptive Republican nominee’s personal and political shortcomings, up to and including venereal disease. It’s rare that a politician faces the end of a campaign with such open contempt for his or her opponent, especially in a primary: Certain delicate fictions are required of losing candidates in the name of party (or national) unity. (Cruz’s concession speech simply didn’t mention Trump at all.)
But however rare it is in real life for a candidate to give that sort of speech, it happens all the time in the movies. (In fact, a cynical person might think Cruz’s sudden burst of clarity—wrapped in an admission he’d been lying about Trump up to now—might have been a staged attempt to tap into our love of this sort of thing in fictional politicians.) Regardless, now that Cruz is gone, it’s unlikely that any remaining candidates are going to go on this kind of tirade—at least until November. So to fill the months to come, here are five of the greatest examples of fictional politicians with nothing left to lose finally saying exactly what they think.
Why We Find It So Infuriating When Novelists Are Judged Based on Attractiveness
Tuesday morning I watched my Twitter feed fill up with point and counterpoint: an endless stream of retweeted photos taken on the red carpet of Monday night’s Met Gala and another endless stream of literary people aggravated by an article in Entertainment Weekly on the subject of debut novelists. It turns out, the piece announced, that being conventionally good-looking or articulate can boost the advance on royalties a first-time author gets for his or her novel. This wasn’t news back in the 1980s, when the Brat Pack signed rich book contracts while being photographed wearing cool clothes in Manhattan nightclubs, but somehow every time it gets reported (every six or seven years or so) it is always received as a disgusting revelation.
I agree that this isn’t a great situation, and as Slate’s Mallory Ortberg pointed out over at the Toast, one quote from Knopf editor Claudia Herr—“We would have paid her the same money if she weighed 500 pounds and was really hard to look at”—registered as particularly insensitive. It’s dehumanizing to all of us to relegate anyone’s body to the status of “hard to look at.”
What does all this have to do with the Met Gala? The event consisted entirely of young, slender, beautiful people walking around in extravagant clothes, a phenomenon deemed fascinating enough to generate scores of articles and many more admiring tweets, some from the same people who complained about the Entertainment Weekly story.
The Makers of Game of Thrones Shouldn’t Apologize for Lying. They Should Lie Better.
This post contains “surprises” about Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones.
It’s possible there are a few humans somewhere in the world who were surprised by Sunday’s “shocking” revelation that Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow was not, in fact, dead—or at least not permanently. But for most fans, the question wasn’t whether showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would bring back Kit Harington’s slain lord commander. It was how, and, to a lesser extent, when.
As it turned out, neither of those things was much of a surprise. Kit Harington’s Jon Snow came gasping back to life at the end of the sixth season’s second episode: just far enough to extend the interseasonal tensions but not so far that that it would try the audience’s patience. And the manner of his return seemed to fall on the border between two popular fan theories: Melisandre, the mystical “red woman,” performed a resurrection ritual, and the lingering close-ups of Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, suggested it may have have played host to his spirit while his body was otherwise incapacitated.
Just as predictable was the real-world ritual that followed. Harington, who had spent months insisting that the only way he was returning to Game of Thrones was as a corpse, taped a sheepish apology video for Entertainment Weekly, while his co-star and onscreen half-sister Sophie Turner tweeted her less tortured regrets: “Soz for the lies n that.” Benioff and Weiss have kept mum thus far, aside from a cursory episode walkthrough, but it’s only a matter of time until they do their first interview and offer fans an apology for all the times they insisted, straight-faced, that “Jon Snow is dead.”
If anything, Benioff and Weiss should apologize for not lying better.