Slate's Culture Blog

Aug. 19 2014 9:43 PM

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” Sounds Great As a Vintage Waltz

Postmodern Jukebox should require no introduction. We’ve featured their work many times, and their covers—a vintage soul version of “Creep,” an R&B rendition of the DuckTales theme song—are always a delight. Their latest is no different: Scott Bradlee and his band take Cyndi Lauper's classic “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and make it a slow, sultry waltz.

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Aug. 19 2014 8:59 PM

Men, Women & Children Looks Like Jason Reitman’s Darkest Film Yet

Jason Reitman’s career has taken a strange turn of late. He first gained acclaim for Thank You for Smoking and Juno, movies that dealt with serious issues while maintaining a comedic tone. But his last two films—the polarizing Young Adult and mostly panned Labor Day—embraced a darker approach, with the latter even veering into melodrama. Men, Women & Children, Reitman's latest film, is a continuation of that trend: from the trailer, it looks like a sober, sprawling dive into how technology affects the lives of adults and kids alike.

Aug. 19 2014 6:26 PM

Here Is Everything We Know About The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Following this month's Guardians of the Galaxy, there will be no more Marvel movies released until next May's Avengers: Age of Ultron. There is already a ton of info out there about what's in store for Marvel's dysfunctional superhero crew. Here's everything that's confirmed or all-but-confirmed.

Aug. 19 2014 5:30 PM

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul Reunite for Emmys Spoof With Julia Louis-Dreyfus

In a bid to get you to watch the Emmys next Monday, the awards show has managed to assemble a few of everyone’s favorite nominees for a short comedy sketch. In the spoof of a pawn shop reality show, Julia Louis-Dreyfus attempts to pawn one of her four Emmy Awards (she won one for Seinfeld, one for The New Adventures of Old Christine, and two for Veep) to pawn shop clerks played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. The negotiations eventually lead to Louis-Dreyfus’ discovery of the illicit business the pair is running out of the back of the shop, and it’s not the one you might expect.

All three actors are up for awards on Monday—Louis-Dreyfus for lead actress in a comedy, and the Breaking Bad co-stars for lead (Cranston) and supporting (Paul) actor in a drama. The six-minute spoof is itself reminiscent of an awards show—star-studded, occasionally funny, and about twice as long as it needs to be—but it’s still nice to see Walt and Jesse back together again.

Aug. 19 2014 4:11 PM

20 Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

People tend to be more tentative about putting food in the freezer than they are about putting food in the refrigerator or pantry. This may be because freezing makes food solid and odorless, and so we lose our primary methods of determining whether something is good to eat or has gone bad. (The way to find out, by the way, is to thaw it and then subject it to your usual eyeing, sniffing, and prodding.)

But many more foods can be frozen than just the ice cream, pizza, and steak currently occupying your freezer. (Or whatever it is that’s currently occupying your freezer—I’m not a psychic.) Check out the above video for 20 different ingredients you might not have thought to freeze. (And for the source of that “suspended animation” bit, plus more freezing tips, read my former boss Mark Bittman’s take on the matter in the New York Times.)

Aug. 19 2014 2:54 PM

Did Harry Potter Help Shape the Political Views of Millennials?

This article originally appeared in The Conversation.

The idea that entertainment has an effect on our politics might seem ludicrous to some. Many would scoff at the notion that the Star Wars saga might have influenced the political socialization of Generation X. Or that the music that the baby boomers listened to played a supporting role in the development of that generation’s politics.

Perhaps even most ridiculous is the idea that J.K. Rowling’s immensely popular tale of the boy-who-lived could have played a role in the political development of that generation, the Millennials. Let alone an election result. But this is exactly what some recent research of mine indicates.

I found empirical support for the idea that the Harry Potter series influenced the political values and perspectives of the generation that came of age with these books. Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture. As Harry Potter fans will have noted, these are major themes repeated throughout the series. These correlations remained significant even when applying more sophisticated statistical analyses—when controlling for, among other things, parental influence.

Aug. 19 2014 1:04 PM

Hear Jim James, Elvis Costello, and Marcus Mumford’s Take on Bob Dylan’s “Nothing to It”

If you are T Bone Burnett, and Bob Dylan’s publisher asks if you want to make an album from an untouched box of Dylan’s lyrics from 1967, then the answer is unequivocally yes. After taking on the task last fall, Burnett rounded up a troupe of musicians to set the lyrics to music and record the tracks. The first 20 songs comprise the forthcoming album Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, and the first preview of the album, new track “Nothing to It,” is available to stream today.

Aug. 19 2014 11:58 AM

Letterman Remembers the First Time He Met Robin Williams

In the wake of Robin Williams’ death last Monday, there’s been an outpouring of remembrances of the late comic, including from late night hosts Conan O’Brien and Jimmy FallonThe Late Show was on break last week, but last night David Letterman, who knew Williams personally for nearly four decades, returned with one of the most heartwarming tributes yet. In it, he shared the charming story of how the two first met as amateur comedians and competitors at the legendary Comedy Store in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, Letterman’s reaction to witnessing Williams in action for the first time is priceless: “They’re gonna have to put an end to show business because what can happen after this?”

Aug. 19 2014 9:01 AM

Introducing the Star Wars Rumor Generator!

For all the months and months of rumors about Star Wars Episode VII, it’s remarkable how little we actually know. Back in April, there was the initial announcement of the cast, and then in June, the additions of Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie. Aside from that casting news, almost nothing has been confirmed. The rumors—mostly from sites like Latino Review that are often right but also sometimes wrong—come from unnamed sources. And even the substance of the gossip is often utterly generic. Last week the latest was that the main villain is “tall and thin and terrifyingly creepy” (as opposed to the villains who are not creepy?) “with glowing red eyes to match his red lightsaber.” In other words, he’s sort of like Vader, and Darth Maul, and nearly every other Star Wars villain. As Indiewire’s Sam Adams tweeted, “I have it on good authority EPISODE VII will include both Stars and Wars.”

So why not join in on the fun? Now you, too, can spread speculation, using the generator below. You may look at the source and think “I have a bad feeling about this”—but that shouldn’t stop you from spreading some gossip! May the force—of hearsay—be with you.

Aug. 19 2014 8:03 AM

Villains Love Classical: The Supercut

When the avenging hero of Luc Besson’s latest thriller Lucy finally bursts in on the evil villain, he’s lying back, getting a cucumber-mask makeover, and listening to Mozart. It’s no surprise: The villain’s choice of music harkens back to Besson’s most famous villain, the Beethoven-obsessed madman of The Professional. Not to mention decades of other classical-loving bad guys, whom we’ve rounded up in the supercut above. Just last year, White House Down featured a sequence in which an evildoer hacks into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue while jamming out to Beethoven’s Fifth, a sequence that itself was reminiscent of the Beethoven-blaring Die Hard.

Which types of classical do villains love the most? As the examples above suggest, their favorite composer seems to be Beethoven. (Perhaps they’re inspired by A Clockwork Orange.) Meanwhile, their favorite instrument seems to be the piano—recall Bond villain Hugo Drax or Interview With the Vampire’s Lestat de Lioncourt—and they also go crazy for opera. Perhaps there’s no accounting for their killer taste, except that screenwriters seem to use classical again and again to signify that these baddies are frightfully intelligent, have a flair for the dramatic, and are too sophisticated to be trusted.