Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 18 2014 4:30 PM

Now You Can Legally Drink Cuban Rum—but Should You?

Guy walks into a bar and says, “Isn’t there a bottle of Havana Club here?” Bartender purports not to know what the guy is talking about. Goes and gets the owner. Owner says, “How dare you come into my establishment asking for contraband!” Owner retreats to a personal storeroom, returns with bottles of three of the seven rums currently produced by Cuba’s foremost distillery.

This is last night, Wednesday night—a night after a day when the U.S. re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba and lifted a trade embargo: “Licensed American travelers will be able to import … up to $100 in tobacco and alcohol”. This is the time to make tasting notes on the official rum of Castro’s Cuba.

Havana Club Añejo 3 Años This is a white rum smoother than Bacardi’s. But then so are some mildew removers. (N.B. A few years back, Bacardi—a company exiled from Cuba during the revolution—won a legal battle to use the Havana Club trademark in the U.S., and Bacardi’s fake Havana Club white rum is even unsmoother than its marquee product.)

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Dec. 18 2014 3:16 PM

Now Team America: World Police Is Getting Pulled From Theaters, Too

After Sony decided on Wednesday to cancel the Dec. 25 release of The Interview following a spate of cyber attacks and threats, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema announced that it would show 2004’s Team America: World Police in its place. It now appears that Paramount Pictures has halted not only that plan, but any plans to screen Team America nationwide.

Dec. 18 2014 2:29 PM

Was There an Ending? We Discuss the Final Episode of Serial.

The final episode of the first season of Serial aired Thursday, and, as always, we got together just after listening to discuss the latest installment of the multipart investigative series from This American Life. This week, David Haglund and Katy Waldman were joined once again by Mike Pesca to talk about whether Serial was a meditation on the nature of truth, where the Innocence Project might go from here, and what kind of story would work well for Season 2.

Dec. 18 2014 1:53 PM

The Sony Hack Might Have Killed a Certain Kind of Satire

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

As they say on the Internet, quoting an Anchorman: Well, that escalated quickly. The Sony hack story, in just a few weeks, went from a bemusing diversion—at least for those of us whose personal info wasn’t spilled all over the Internet—about what Sony employees think about Adam Sandler movies to an unprecedented corporate fiasco to an Alamo-like last stand to protect Freedom of Expression, in which the Alamo got torched to the ground and American freedom is now dead (1776–2014, RIP). Yesterday Sony decided to disappear The Interview—not apologize for it, not delay it, not bury it on VOD, but actually more or less pretend that it never happened and doesn’t exist and what is this Interview of which you speak?

Naturally, the notion that anonymous hackers can force a major corporation not only to recall but essentially recant a movie is, to put it mildly, unnerving. As to the threat of actual violence in actual theaters, cybersecurity expert Peter Singer put it this way to Vice: “The ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously.” He also inconveniently reminds us that words like hacking invoke an outsize, irrational fear; after all, he says, “Someone killed 12 people and shot another 70 people at the opening night” of The Dark Knight Rises, and “they kept that movie in the theaters.”

Dec. 18 2014 1:25 PM

How Will Colbert Open His Final Episode?

Stephen Colbert introduced what would become perhaps his signature concept, “truthiness,” in the very first episode of The Colbert Report. The Colbert character’s pursuit of “the truth,” or his satirical version of it, was front and center in those early days of the show. Each episode opened with a joke in which the host pledged to give his fans the unadulterated truth, the Colbert way. That first ever episode, for instance, began with him declaring: “Open wide, baby bird, because mama's got a big, fat nightcrawler of Truth.”

Dec. 18 2014 12:39 PM

Watch 550 Artists of All Kinds Answer the Question: Lennon or McCartney?

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were, obviously, an artistic partnership for the ages. And it can be surprisingly tricky to tell which Beatles songs each of them was mostly responsible for, at least on their early records.

Still most people do generally prefer one to the other, and Scared Goose Productions, a film, TV and Web series production company run by Matt Schichter, had the brilliant idea to round up 550 answers to that from interviews with musicians, actors, and other artists that were recorded during the last 10 years.

Dec. 18 2014 12:10 PM

The Clones Are Ready for War in the Teaser for Orphan Black Season 3

The explosive Season 2 finale of Orphan Black left many unanswered questions, most notably, perhaps, “There are male clones?” The wait has felt interminable in the nearly six months since that big reveal, but a new teaser reminds us that Season 3, which premieres April 18, is at least not too far off.

Featuring Tatiana Maslany as several of her signature clones—plus Ari Millen as Mark the Prolethean and young Charlotte (from the Season 2 finale)—who say things like, “This is a fight for knowledge,” and “This is war.” April 18 can’t come too soon.

Dec. 18 2014 10:15 AM

Our Favorite Memes of 2014

This has been a banner year for memes. They have come from a variety of unexpected places. There was the bizarre 11-minute whirlwind of sitcom parody, “Too Many Cooks,” Drake’s well-documented adoption of the lint-free lifestyleAlex from Target, thrust unwittingly into the national spotlight of adoring teenage fans.

In honor of such a fruitful year, we’ve put together a list of our 10 favorites, from the political to the silly. Reminisce with us below.

Dec. 18 2014 8:03 AM

Watch Stephen Colbert’s Best Musical Moments on The Colbert Report

The Colbert Report ends on Dec. 18, and we can only hope that when Stephen Colbert heads to The Late Show in 2015 he continues to sing. Over the last nine years, we’ve watched Colbert parody Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist,” duet with Elvis Costello, stand in for Jay Z, and do so much more. Here is a look back at our favorite highlights from Colbert’s eclectic songbook.

Dec. 17 2014 8:56 PM

Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch Send Up NPR in This 1997 Second City Sketch

Splitsider’s Second City Archives series, which unearths clips of now-famous comedians performing in Chicago’s premier comedy club, is a constant treat, but the latest installment is particularly good: it’s a 1997 sketch called “Delicious Dish,” in which Tina Fey plays Lynn Mahevic, host of the sublimely-titled mock NPR show “Urban Wind.”