Slate's Culture Blog

April 24 2014 4:12 PM

Take a Strange, Delightful Trip Through Homer’s Brain in the Latest Simpsons Couch Gag

Even if you’re no longer an avid viewer of The Simpsons, the continuous appeal of the series’ clever couch gags is hard to ignore. The latest one for the upcoming episode “What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting,” is a particularly amazing one, as we travel through the inner contours of Homer Simpson’s brain.

It’s sort of hard to believe that there could be so much going on in there, but the intricate animation by filmmaker Michal Socha renders it beautifully.

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April 24 2014 2:51 PM

Neil Young Performs a Haunting, Quiet Cover of “Needle of Death”

Neil Young’s A Letter Home was recorded in the Voice-O-Graph booth at Jack White’s Third Man Records, which, as Stereogum explains, “records you to vinyl as you play.” The album of covers came out on vinyl for Record Store Day, but is now headed to CD and DVD as well, for a box set that comes out May 27. The track list is below, and above you can hear his haunting take on “Needle of Death,” the Bert Jansch tune that was one of the inspirations for Young’s own heroin lament, “The Needle and the Damage Done.”

April 24 2014 2:12 PM

Katy Perry Will Ruin Your Birthday Party

In the new video for “Birthday,” Katy Perry lets her considerable imagination run completely wild, disguising herself as five strange characters to crash various birthday parties (and one bar mitzvah). Playing the “World’s Worst Birthday Entertainers”—including an elderly Las Vegas stripper, a Jewish MC obsessed who loves challah, an alcoholic clown, a mouse-eating animal trainer, and an artistically challenged face-painter dressed as a princess—she successfully wreaks havoc on everyone’s lives.

April 24 2014 12:25 PM

Beyoncé Takes Aim at Beauty Pageants in “Pretty Hurts” Video

It’s hard to imagine there are any Beyoncé fans left who haven’t seen all of her recent album’s high-concept videos many times. But those who didn’t shell out the money for the “eponymous avalanche of songs and videos” can now watch the video for her latest single “Pretty Hurts,” via Time, which songwriter Sia Furler recently revealed was actually meant for Katy Perry—but Perry missed Furler’s email.

April 24 2014 12:18 PM

The Fake Hurt Locker: The Musical Playbill from Hedwig on Broadway Is Amazing

The funny conceit of the updated production of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch now playing on Broadway is that it's taking place on the set of another play—in this case, Hurt Locker: The Musical, sadly closed after one performance at the Belasco Theatre. To add to the joke, the floor of the theater is littered with fake Playbills for Hurt Locker—and the Playbill is a hilarious read for anyone who loves theater. Written by actress/comedian Amanda Duarte and Mike Albo (whose own play The Junket just finished its run at the Culture Project) the Playbill features everything a real Playbill would: cast bios (for Taye Diggs, Bobby Cannavale, and Michael Cerveris); an overwrought directors' note; a "How Many Have You Seen?" insert featuring Jukebox: The Musical and The Entire Bible (performed by Fiona Shaw); even an ad for a luxury product (in this case, bars of gold).

April 24 2014 10:58 AM

Stephen Colbert Visits The Daily Show, Gives Himself Hilarious Send-Off

Stephen Colbert won’t be taking over Late Show for David Letterman until next year, but the farewell tour for his Comedy Central character continues. Last night, he stopped by The Daily Show to let his friend and former colleague Jon Stewart know, in person, about his plans to leave his current gig.

April 24 2014 10:42 AM

Frozen and “Thriller” Make for a Weirdly Perfect Dance Mashup

Up to this point, you probably had no idea you'd want to see the characters from Frozen perform Michael Jackson's iconic dance break from "Thriller." Thankfully, YouTube user NostalgicFangirl had the foresight to make this possible, with Elsa leading a chorus line of Anna, Kristoff and Hans.

April 24 2014 10:22 AM

Gateway Episodes: Coupling

When I ask people if they’ve seen the show I’m about to recommend, a common response is, “You mean the British one?” Yes, the British one. Coupling, a sitcom from the early aughts, was created by Steven Moffat, also a co-creator of the current BBC series Sherlock and showrunner for Doctor Who. It was billed as a Friends-like series from across the pond—but while many people seem to remember the title, relatively few Americans seem to have actually seen it. And those who haven’t are missing out.

Coupling centers on Steve and Susan, a thirty-something couple who begin dating at the start of the show; their respective best friends, Jeff and Sally; and their respective exes, Jane and Patrick. So yes, there are six of them, and a variety of romantic pairings ensue, but a comparison to Friends doesn’t get you far: Coupling gives us a funnier, raunchier, and more honest look at relationships.

April 24 2014 8:03 AM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Bagels

What’s brown and sticky?

When I was young and innocent, this was the setup to my favorite joke. (The punchline: “A stick.”) Now that I make my living as a cooking curmudgeon, the first answer that comes to mind is barley malt syrup, the ingredient that makes bagels bagels.

Barley malt syrup is the stickiest substance I have ever personally encountered. When you pull a spoon out of a jar of it, that dangling thread of syrup remains unbroken for far longer than you think it will. It’s like Donna Summer singing that sustained, seemingly unending “up” in “Dim All the Lights.” In other words, when you buy barley malt syrup (which you will likely find at your local health food store), expect to get it all over your fingers, countertops, and possibly your floor.

But buy it you must if you want to make bagels at home—and if you live outside the New York metropolitan area, you should. There are a wealth of good bagelries within a mile of my apartment building in Brooklyn, but non-New Yorkers are stuck with pallid imitations from suburban bakeries or, worse, frostbitten Lender’s. A so-called bagel made outside of New York is in all likelihood “a roll with a hole, not a bagel,” in the words of my colleague Brian Palmer. (Don’t even get me started on overly sweet Montreal bagels, which eminent food writer Mimi Sheraton once accurately said “could not even be called bagels.”)

April 24 2014 7:49 AM

That Great George Saunders Commencement Speech, Animated

Last year, George Saunders gave a commencement speech at Syracuse that was published by the New York Times and shared far and wide. On Tuesday it became a 64-page book called Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness.

To mark the occasion, Random House and Above Average worked with Serious Lunch to produce an abridged version, narrated by Saunders, in animated form. Enjoy.