Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 4 2015 8:19 AM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Potato Salad

 

If you’re even remotely patriotic, tomorrow you’ll find yourself fulfilling one of your three annual obligations to barbecue. With your Memorial Day practice run out of the way, there are no excuses for being unprepared—hopefully you’ve figured out your grill timing and the proper ratio of hot dogs to hamburgers, because god knows I can’t help you. What I can tell you is that the key to a good barbecue isn’t just the meat. As a host, your job is to make sure that while you’re tending to your coal and animal flesh, your guests are happily chatting and snacking. This usually entails some combination of alcohol, chips andguacamole, and some staple side dishes—principal among them potato salad.

 

 

 

No reasonable American will dispute that you must serve potato salad at your Fourth of July gathering. But reasonable Americans might challenge the kind of potato salad you serve. The biggest and most obvious problem with traditional potato salad is that it relies on mayonnaise for dressing—and unless you’re making it from scratch, there’s really never any reason to use that stuff.

 

 

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July 4 2015 8:00 AM

Here’s a Frosted Tip For You, Food Network: Stop Trying To Find the Next Guy Fieri

In recent years, the male stars of the Food Network have begun to seem eerily familiar. There was Aaron McCargo Jr., winner of the fourth season of Big Daddy’s House, who marketed himself with the catchphrase “the flavor of bold.” There was last season’s Food Network Star winner Lenny McNab, wearer of big cowboy hats and hubcap-sized belt buckles, (whose show never made it to production after his after racist, homophobic and sexist online postings were discovered). The overbearing magnetism, the jacked-up ’Merican persona—it all gives off a whiff of deja vu. These guys might not have spiky bleached hair, funky wristbands, and a rotating wardrobe of cargo shorts, but their inspiration is unmistakable: Guy Fieri.

July 3 2015 9:02 AM

This Dairy Company Says That American Cheese Is Un-American. They Are So Wrong.

Tillamook is an Oregon dairy co-op and cheese manufacturer with a vendetta against processed cheese. Take a look at this highly biased interactive called “Natural Cheese vs. Processed Cheese” (which concludes, “Say yes to yum by standing behind real cheese!”) to get a sense of where Tillamook’s loyalties lie. I’ve never tried Tillamook, but I imagine I’d like their aged cheddar—I like most aged cheddars. And in general I’m on the same team as Tillamook: I usually prefer traditionally made cheese to processed cheese.

But today I am compelled to speak out against Tillamook. That’s because it has taken its campaign against processed cheese too far, by creating a petition called “ ‘American Cheese’ Is Un-American.” The petition reads, “We the people of the United States of America are being falsely represented by our namesake ‘American Cheese’ ... Out of respect for the hard work and integrity that our nation was built upon, we respectfully ask that these processed, plastic-wrapped slices of deception be stripped of America’s name.”

Now, freedom of speech is obviously a fundamental American value, and I support Tillamook’s right to spew any claptrap they want. But that’s what this petition is: Claptrap. Of course American cheese is American! I daresay American cheese is the most American cheese of all.

July 3 2015 8:32 AM

My Hometown Baseball Stadium Just Burned Down. It Was My Childhood—and an American Relic.

On June 29, residents of Eugene, Oregon watched helpless and aghast as Civic Stadium—a dilapidated, 6,800-seat baseball venue built in 1938, a local landmark as beloved as its future was contestedburned to the ground in a mysterious fire.

For several hours Monday night, the towering plume of flames and smoke was by far the tallest thing in the city of 159,000 residents and zero skyscrapers, eclipsed only by the picturesque, fir-covered peak of Spencer’s Butte in the background. This was only fitting, given that Civic had anchored its neighborhood for almost eight decades, as an intractable symbol of the great American pastimes—baseball, yes, but also acrimonious conflicts between commercial real estate developers and the longtime residents fighting to keep them out.

July 3 2015 8:02 AM

The National Anthem, as Sung by the Movies

However you plan to celebrate the upcoming holiday—and whatever you plan to call it—it’d be hard to avoid at least one rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” for better or worse. Our national anthem is so pervasive that it’s found its way into dozens of our Hollywood blockbusters—so why not compile those renditions into a single performance?

July 2 2015 5:10 PM

The Terminator Franchise, Diagrammed With Straws

Perhaps the best scene ever written about the mind-bending, headache-inducing difficulties of time travel is in 2012’s Looper. In that movie, the older, wearier version of the main character (played by Bruce Willis) sits down at a diner with the younger version of himself (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and tells him that he doesn’t have time to talk about time travel, because then they’d “be here all day, drawing diagrams with straws.”

Designer Michael Talley was inspired by that scene and decided to explain the movie’s complex narrative through (what else?) a diagram with straws. Now, with the fifth movie in the Terminator franchise out in theaters, we asked Talley to make another diagram with straws, this time for the even twistier timelines of the 30-year-old series. As in the Looper diagram, each straw represents a character, and each dotted line represents time travel.

July 2 2015 3:34 PM

The Rewriting of David Foster Wallace

Nobody owns David Foster Wallace anymore. In the seven years since his suicide, he’s slipped out of the hands of those who knew him, and those who read him in his lifetime, and into the cultural maelstrom, which has flattened him. He has become a character, an icon, and in some circles a saint. A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.

For someone who has long loved Wallace’s writing, as I have, one of the ironies of this shift is that, whether he intended to or not, Wallace started the process himself. First, he embarked on a series of publicity campaigns in which he performed his self-conscious disdain and fear of publicity campaigns, a martyr to the market culture and entertainment industry he was satirizing in his books. Then there was a treacly commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 that became a viral sensation and later, a few months after his death, a cute, one-sentence-per-page inspirational pamphlet, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life. And now comes a bromantic biopic, The End of the Tour, starring Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky, the novelist Rolling Stone sent to write a (later abandoned) profile of Wallace in 1996. The movie’s theme is the bullshit-ness of literary fame—which Wallace, the permanently unsatisfied overachiever, nonetheless craved (not to mention it might get him laid, which he also thought would be a phony achievement). The movie is based on Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the book of transcripts Lipsky published in 2010. And since much of its dialogue is transferred directly from the tapes, it does have a claim on the authentic Wallace.

July 2 2015 2:07 PM

A Detailed Statistical Analysis of the Man Meat Exposed in Each Magic Mike Film

Since Magic Mike XXL gyrated into theaters Wednesday, people have started asking a crucial question: Which Magic Mike movie shows more butts? We started debating this matter as soon as we exited the theater, so, to settle the debate, we went back and tallied it all up once and for all. Below, we’ve charted every bare buttock, G-string, lap dance, and instance of shirt-rippage in each Magic Mike film.

July 2 2015 12:25 PM

Stephen Colbert Interviewed Eminem on a Small-Town Public Access Cable Show

Stephen Colbert subbed in as host of a morning talk show based in the tiny town of Monroe, Michigan for what was surely the best-ever episode of Only In Monroe. Released on the official YouTube channel for Colbert’s upcoming Late Show, the segment is very much public access television—drab chairs, outdated fonts and all—but with a Colbert twist, featuring onscreen graphics similar to those in The Colbert Report. As bizarre as these gimmicks are in this setting, the show only gets weirder as Colbert talks to the show’s regular hosts, settles local Yelp disputes, and finally interviews “local Michigander” Eminem.

It’s hard not to wonder if this clip offers a glimpse of what Colbert’s new show will be like. The interview style is particularly odd; as Colbert asks Eminem deliberately obtuse questions about whether or not he uses bad language in his music, Eminem eventually admits, “I’m just trying to figure out why I’m here.”  

July 2 2015 11:59 AM

Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” Video Is Very Literal, Very Cinematic, Very NSFW

There’s something unspeakably satisfying about Rihanna’s song “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Maybe it’s her use of the proemial bitch. Maybe it’s the just the image of Rihanna coolly driving away with a man’s wife held hostage in the back of her car. Fortunately, the new official music video for the song is seven minutes of RiRi and friends doing just that, with a little drinking and weed and other debauchery mixed in for good measure. Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen even puts in an appearance (spoiler alert: He is the bitch who’d better have Rihanna’s money).

The video takes the song’s lyrics literally and so contains strong language, nudity, and violence. Of course, if you’re really feeling squeamish, there’s always Kelly Clarkson’s PG-rated cover of the song, which is about as squeaky-clean as a song about kidnapping and murder can be.

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