Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 15 2014 9:05 AM

Watch Conan O’Brien Sing the Monorail Song

On Friday night, The Simpsons took over the Hollywood Bowl, celebrating the show with a bevy of its beloved musical numbers performed by an all-star cast. The standout tune may have been “The Monorail Song” as sung by Conan O’Brien, the man who wrote the episode it’s featured in, “Marge vs. the Monorail.”

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Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM

Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice

Michael Winslow is known as the Man of 10,000 Sound Effects, and for good reason: he has an unbelievable genius for making sounds that should not be possible to produce with human vocal cords. Making the rounds now is a video from 2011 in which Winslow performs the vocals, drums and blistering electric guitar of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

It’s cliché, but the performance really must be seen to be believed.

Sept. 13 2014 4:47 PM

The Simpsons’ Groundskeeper Willie Shares His Thoughts on Scottish Independence

On September 18, Scots will vote on whether to sever ties from the United Kingdom and assume independence. Many voices have spoken on the subject, but now we have the last word: the opinion of The Simpsons' Groundskeeper Willie, one of the most famous and nationalistic Scots of all time.

Sept. 13 2014 3:55 PM

Jack White’s Music Video for “Would You Fight for My Love” Was Made in a Day

In the run-up to his latest album, Lazaretto, Jack White made what he called the world’s fastest record—he performed and pressed to vinyl the album’s title track in less than four hours. Now he’s applied a similar tactic to the music video for “Would You Fight For My Love”: according to a press release, the video was conceived and created within 24 hours.

Sept. 13 2014 2:05 PM

Kutiman Returns With Another Brilliant Song Comprised Entirely of YouTube Clips

In 2009, Tel Aviv-based musician Ophir Kutiel released Thru-YOU, a project that made startlingly deft use of YouTube clips to craft original music. Kutiel, who works under the name Kutiman, is finally back with “Give it Up,” which further proves his talent for stitching together obscure samples into really, really good songs.

It’s also proof of his penchant for amateur and instructional videos: “Give it Up” is comprised entirely of various clips from unknown musicians, including a 6-year-old pianist and a high school brass ensemble.

Sept. 13 2014 11:44 AM

Why Is the New York Times Diagramless Crossword So Coy?

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine features a profile of Viola Davis, a much-discussed meditation on “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture,” and a diagramless crossword puzzle by Fred Piscop. Diagramless crosswords, or “diagramlesses,” are blank 17-by-17-square grids that invite you to fill in the intersecting words without giving you the usual diagram provided by black boxes that tell you where the words should and shouldn’t go. Requiring less lexical erudition but more spatial savvy than regular crosswords, diagramlesses are a delightful chance for crossword aficionados to work out a different part of their brains.

But the Times Magazine’s version makes you jump through what I’ve always thought was a strange hoop before you start solving. Like all the Times’ diagramlesses, this week’s comes with a potentially befuddling introductory note: “The first square across is given with last week’s answers.”

What that means, practically, is that you have to flip back through several pages of the magazine to find out where 1 Across begins. The location of the first square is a crucial piece of information, so why does the New York Times Magazine make you go hunting for it, I always wondered, instead of just telling you right there next to the grid?

Sept. 12 2014 1:59 PM

The Death of Adulthood Is Actually the Rise of Pleasure

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Adulthood is dead, which is great news to get right before the weekend because it means you can cancel your errands and tedious chores and go on a bender, or perhaps just stay home and reread Harry Potter. In a long and thoughtful (and, more specifically, thought-packed) essay in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine—provocatively titled “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture”—A.O. Scott lassos everyone from Beyoncé to Louis C.K. to Don Draper to Broad City to Huck Finn to Lena Dunham to Madonna and hogties them together as an argument that adulthood, culturally speaking, is down for the count.

It all adds up to a satisfying diagnosis of the current cultural moment, even if this particular moment has had an exceptionally long lifespan, cultural-moment-wise. Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison, often held up (as in Scott’s essay) as the Ur-man-child comedy, came out almost 20 years ago, in 1995. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the first of Judd Apatow’s bro-posse romps, came out in 2005. David Denby, in The New Yorker, identified the post-30, bong-hitting, slacker man-child in a great essay about Knocked Up and romantic comedies back in 2007. And then, of course, there’s this piece of half-assed japery about a generation of people who are at best reimagining, and at worst scurrying away from, adulthood, from back in 2006. In fact, given that Mad Men premiered in 2007 and Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, you could probably connect these exact same cultural dots to make the case that we’re moving toward, and are hungry for, more nuanced depictions of adulthood, rather than hearing adulthood’s death knell at this late hour.

Sept. 12 2014 1:14 PM

This Trailer for the Next Jennifer Lawrence–Bradley Cooper Movie Is Not Very Promising

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are in yet another movie together. But despite Hollywood’s franchise inclinations, it’s no sequel. Instead, Serena is a Depression-era period piece about a power-grabbing couple whose business empire begins to crumble when the wife appears unable to produce an heir. Sound dramatic enough? The trailer’s crescendoing violins agree.

Sept. 12 2014 11:32 AM

The Very Funny Comic Who Just Became the Next “Weekend Update” Anchor

On Thursday night, Lorne Michaels surprised comedy fans by revealing to Bill Carter of the New York Times that Cecily Strong had been replaced on “Weekend Update” for Season 40 of Saturday Night Live by Michael Che. The announcement was surprising for a few reasons. Strong, who began last season by co-hosting the fake news with Seth Meyers, was certainly a better anchor last year than her partner, Colin Jost, who replaced Meyers when the latter left for his own show halfway through the season.

Sept. 11 2014 4:30 PM

Dear Professors: Please Don’t Respond to the Mean Things Students Say About You Online

Ask any college instructor about online professor-rating sites such as Rate My Professors, and she will insist that not only does she find the anonymous student-rant irrelevant to her career, she hasn’t so much as peeked at her own ratings—in fact, she doesn’t even know if she’s on there.

Hardly. I know enough professors to know that there are two kinds in the world: 1) those who have been equal parts elated and bent out of shape by their RMP ratings—and 2) liars.

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