Slate's Culture Blog

Aug. 27 2014 3:11 PM

No, FXX’s Cropping Is Not Ruining the Simpsons Marathon

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet in the last few days, you’ve probably heard of the Great Simpsons Cropping Scandal. When FXX, in its supreme beneficence, brought the world a 12-day marathon of #EverySimpsonsEver, it seemed like nothing could possib-lie go wrong. But lo, though the network gives, it also takes away. More specifically, it has taken away about 25 percent of every frame of the show’s first 19 seasons. By airing episodes originally created for standard definition 4:3 screens by zooming and cropping them into wider and higher-definition 16:9 frames (rather than presenting them with bars down each side of the screen), FXX committed what many media obsessives consider a cardinal sin: They altered the original content.

Since some of these technical changes—letterboxing vs. pillarboxing vs. panning and scanning—are easier to understand when you see them, I made a two-minute video to break it down:

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Aug. 27 2014 11:16 AM

David Lynch’s Ice Bucket Challenge Video Is Very Lynchian

David Lynch is not like other people, and so it’s no surprise that his Ice Bucket Challenge video is not like other people’s either. Make sure you wait to hear his nominee.

And if that wasn’t Lynchian enough, here it is backwards:

Aug. 27 2014 8:47 AM

Classic First Lines of Novels in Emojis: A Quiz

We've rendered these 10 famous first lines from novels in emojis. Can you name the novels?

Aug. 26 2014 9:12 PM

Kawehi Shares the Voices in Her Disembodied Heads for the “Anthem” Music Video

Kawehi is a relative unknown who just made one of the best music videos of the summer. The video is for “Anthem,” and it features the Kansas-based artist singing at a bare table, removing her head at the end of each vocal track, and placing her disembodied cranium in a box where it continues its looped contribution to the song.

Aug. 26 2014 6:58 PM

Emile Haynie’s New Song With Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dev Hynes, and Sampha Is Gorgeous

Sometimes the best songs come from out of the blue and involve a collaboration between artists you didn’t even know were working together. That’s precisely the case with the first-ever solo song from producer Emile Haynie (known for his work with Kanye West, Eminem, Lana Del Rey, and many others). The song, which Haynie quietly shared last night, is called “A Kiss Goodbye,” and it features a diverse roster of guests: actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, and British singer Sampha. And the song lives up to the amount of talent packed into it, resulting in an orchestral ballad that’s as heart-wrenching as anything Haynie’s ever done.

Aug. 26 2014 5:06 PM

What Robin Williams Learned From Jonathan Winters

The Emmys’ tribute to Robin Williams included a clip from Williams’ appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, in which he borrowed a pink scarf from someone in the audience and turned it into a nun’s outfit, a hijab, a prayer shawl, and so on.

It’s the kind of thing he learned how to do in part from watching, and later working with, Jonathan Winters, the comedy legend who died last year at the age of 87.

Aug. 26 2014 3:28 PM

Bob Dylan Announces The Basement Tapes Complete: Listen to a Track

In June 1968, a Rolling Stone cover story written by magazine founder Jann Wenner ran with the headline “Dylan’s Basement Tape Should Be Released.” The songs in question were a baker’s dozen of rough cuts recorded in Bob Dylan’s upstate New York home with the band that would come to be known as the Band, but these thirteen cuts were just a fraction of the 138 tracks recorded during that spring of 1967. Now, nearly a half century later, Dylan has announced that the recordings will be released in their entirety on Nov. 4 on The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11.

Aug. 26 2014 2:22 PM

Here’s How Other Men Would Look With Cary Fukunaga’s Man-Braids

For all the victors at this year’s EmmysBreaking BadModern Familythe “Colbort Report”—I think we can all agree that the night’s real winner was Cary Fukunaga’s man-braids. Widely praised for their “beautiful execution,” “fancy” look, and “strong side part,” the braids have already been named “the new man-bun.”

But how will the nation’s leading men look when they inevitably copy Fukunaga’s amazing braids (joining such other forerunners as Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg)? We did some photoshopping to find out.

Aug. 26 2014 9:06 AM

How to Chop Vegetables Without Chopping Off Your Fingers

Recently a dissatisfied reader wrote to Slate for the purpose of accusing me of displaying a “wildly dangerous knife technique,” among other sins. I must confess that there’s some truth in this accusation: I didn’t go to culinary school, so no one’s ever forced me to chop onions for hours on end. I don’t habitually use the expert-recommended “claw grip” to hold onto foods I’m cutting, not because I have anything against it, but because muscle memory overrides conscious deliberation every time. I cannot dice to save my life.

And yet I almost never cut myself in the kitchen, a stroke of good fortune I attribute to the fact that I keep my knives sharp. (Dull knives have a tendency to slip around instead of going into the food you want them to penetrate.) Knife sharpening is far simpler than I used to think. For more details on sharpening, for a few bonus knife-related tips, and for footage of my terrible knife technique, see above.

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