Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 19 2014 5:10 PM

Watch an Annotated Version of Colbert’s Farewell Song and See Who All Those People Were


Thursday night’s finale of The Colbert Report practically begged for it, so here it is: the definitive video annotation of everyone who appeared during the final sing-along to “We’ll Meet Again.”


Well, almost everyone.

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Dec. 19 2014 4:08 PM

Watch These Chefs Make the World’s Most Beautiful, Complex Gingerbread House

Modernist Cuisine, a collective of chefs, scientists, and writers led by Nathan Myhrvold, is best known for its six-volume, $500 encyclopedia of innovative cooking techniques. Even if you haven’t dropped half a grand on the books, you might have seen some of Myhrvold’s stunning food photography, which prove that food can be a medium for visual art as much as culinary art. Incidentally, an exhibit of fifty Modernist Cuisine photographs is currently on museum tour.

Dec. 19 2014 3:31 PM

If You Liked Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, Will You Like Paul Thomas Anderson’s?

To read Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice is to trip through a convoluted, psychedelic detective mystery, where one minute things seem clear and the next the facts have vanished in a foggy, pot-infused haze. The 2009 novel, set in fictional Gordita Beach, Calif., follows stoner P.I. Larry “Doc” Sportello as he becomes entangled in the bizarre case of a missing billionaire. As with Raymond Chandler’s pulp classic The Big Sleep, Inherent Vice isn’t always easy to follow—it’s more concerned with characterization and mood than it is with plot.

Dec. 19 2014 1:35 PM

This App Wants to Teach You How to Bake Without Measuring Anything

Not long ago, the people behind an app called Perfect Bake sent me a free kit so that I could review their product. They also tried to get into my good graces by including a small Tupperware full of cookies and muffins. Full disclosure: I ate them. I was famished.

Nonetheless, I expected to hate Perfect Bake, an “app-controlled smart baking system that turns anyone into a master pastry chef,” put out by Pure Imagination LLC, a company that makes “smart products.” The centerpiece of the Perfect Bake kit is a digital scale which, when connected to your mobile device, allows you to make recipes from the Perfect Bake database without paying attention to how much of each ingredient you’re adding. “Just place a bowl on the scale and start adding ingredients,” explains the Perfect Bake website. A “virtual bowl” on your phone or table screen “fills up and shows you when to stop” with a loud beep.

In other words, with Perfect Bake, you don’t have to measure anything. The scale and app do all the measuring for you. But does Perfect Bake really turn anyone into a master pastry chef—and if so, is that a good thing?

Dec. 19 2014 12:54 PM

Serial Might Have Been Better if Sarah Koenig Had Been Less Likable

Many listeners tuned in to the 12th and final episode of Serial yesterday looking for an answer to the podcast’s central mystery: Who killed Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee? I was listening to see if Sarah Koenig would finally ask a tough question.

Dec. 19 2014 11:59 AM

Miguel Just Surprised Us With Three Great New Songs

As the year winds down, the surprise musical gifts keep on coming. Earlier this week it was D’Angelo’s first album in 14 years, released with little warning. And now Miguel has surprised fans with a new EP, listed on SoundCloud under the combined name of its three songs:

All the songs are impressive.

Dec. 19 2014 11:07 AM

Seth Meyers Wants the Sony Hackers to Bring It On

In a bit reminiscent of Stephen Colbert’s now dearly departed segment “The Wørd,” Seth Meyers made a defiant appeal to the apparently North Korea-backed hackers who have cowed Sony into suppressing The Interview. With Colbert off the air for a while, maybe Meyers can help pick up the slack? It’d be nice to think so—and this, at least, is not a bad start.

Dec. 19 2014 9:33 AM

Of Course Stephen Colbert, the Character, Didn’t Die. We’re Going to Need Him.

In retrospect, the idea that the real Stephen Colbert would kill off his creation, “Stephen Colbert,” so that he could have a clean start when he takes over for David Letterman on CBS next year, was a kind of lunacy. Over the nine years of The Colbert Report, Colbert (the real one) has proven himself a performer with impeccable instincts and timing and a keen sense of the cultural temperature. Over that same time, Stephen Colbert, the character, has been the over-confident idiot savant that, so often, America needs. Colbert, the man, is too wise to kill off Colbert, the character, when that character still has so much to say, hilariously, about the world we inhabit.

Dec. 19 2014 12:44 AM

The Heartbreaking Story That Might Explain the Song Stephen Colbert Chose to End His Show

After almost a decade on the air, Stephen Colbert brought The Colbert Report to a close Thursday night. For the final show, he brought back many familiar segments, including “The Wørd” and an abbreviated edition of “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A” in which Colbert finally managed to overcome death.

But the closing credits contained something different. Rather than the usual outro music, the show played “Holland, 1945” by the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Why that song? As Maureen Dowd noted in an article about Colbert in the New York Times in April, Colbert “had 10 older siblings” as a child, but his family was struck by tragedy. “[H]is father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10.

Colbert told Dowd he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of “Holland, 1945,” and he sent her the lyrics, which contain these words:

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on
And here's where your mother sleeps
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.

Dec. 18 2014 11:43 PM

Watch The Interview, as Re-Enacted by Pencil Figures

By now, you’re probably well aware that Sony canceled the planned theatrical release of The Interview, the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy about an assassination plot to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, due to hacker threats. Unfortunately, there are no announced plans to release the film online, which means that only a very small group of people has had the chance to see it in theaters.

Because some of us here at Slate were lucky enough to see it before the towering fist of censorship came down, we’ve recreated The Interview from memory, so you can at least have an idea of what you’re missing. Enjoy.