Slate's Culture Blog

Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM

The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Benjamin C. Bradlee, the legendary editor whose stewardship of the Washington Post lasted more than two decades, passed away Tuesday night. Perhaps Bradlee’s signature accomplishment was the Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, and perhaps the best depiction of that coverage is the 1976 thriller All The President’s Men, which cemented in the popular imagination Bradlee’s freewheeling, debonair, and razor-sharp reputation.

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Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM

The Best Way to Fry an Egg

Like boiling water and slicing bread, frying eggs is often categorized as a kitchen chore that’s so easy a small child could do it. This reputation is not quite fair—it’s actually pretty easy to mess up a fried egg. You can cook it over too high heat, making it rubbery, as I did in one of the takes for the video above. You can accidentally break the yolk while attempting to nudge it over easy. You can tear up the white while loosening the egg from the pan, giving it a ragged look.

The worst mistake, in terms of the final eating experience, is overcooking the bottom of the egg while leaving the top raw. But there’s a way to avoid this mishap, and it’s even easier than flipping the egg, as I demonstrate in this video.

Oct. 21 2014 11:34 AM

Germans Really Are More Punctual. Just Ask Angela Merkel.

You may not agree with Angela Merkel politically—although honestly it’s a bit hard to analyze her ideology in its proper context, given the unfamiliarity to Americans of Germany’s multi-party system; I mean, there are two different kinds of Socialistsand a Pirate contingent. But you have got to love German Chancellor’s style. (And I don’t just mean the spectacular Bell-Biv-Devoe-esque tunic she’s been wearing to every opera since shortly after the Wall fell.) Last week, when pocket-sized despot and notorious tiger-misplacer Vladimir Putin was late to a meeting with Merkel in Milan, she straight-up bailed on him, because Angela Merkel, not unlike the immaculate Berlin-to-Frankfurt InterCity Express, operates on a tight schedule.

Oct. 21 2014 10:41 AM

Taylor Swift Just Went to No. 1 on iTunes Canada With Eight Seconds of Static 

If there’s ever been any question about the power of Taylor Swift’s name to move records, this should dispel it. Some sort of glitch in the Canadian version of iTunes Tuesday morning led to the ostensible release of a new track from her album. The record, for now titled only “Track 3,” is nothing more than eight econds of static, but that didn’t stop fans from taking it straight to No. 1.

As of this morning the eight seconds of white noise—which we should have embedded for you shortly—remains at No. 1, where it sits just ahead, of course, two other songs from Taylor Swift.

Oct. 21 2014 10:10 AM

Where Do I Start With Sleater-Kinney?

Monday’s announcement of a forthcoming Sleater-Kinney albumNo Cities to Love (out Jan. 1, 2015)marks the phoenix-like return of one of rock and roll’s most unique and cultishly beloved bands. From 1995 to 2005, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss made music with teeth and guts and brains and humor and overwhelming amounts of heart, from the Riot Grrrl scorch of their self-titled debut to the loud and gorgeous grandeur of 2005’s The Woods, their most recent full-length release.

Oct. 21 2014 9:25 AM

The Brilliant Fake Novels of Listen Up Philip

In her review of Listen Up Philip, the new Alex Ross Perry movie about a young writer, the older writer who takes him under his wing, and the women they both antagonize, Dana Stevens writes: “The brilliantly designed book covers for their combined works—with pompous titles like Necessity Never Rests, Madness & Women, or I, Zimmerman—stand among the best jokes of the movie, sending up in a few choice images the whole institution of the macho literary novelist.”

I agree, and so, over email, I asked Perry and Teddy Blanks, who designed the book covers, how these terrific literary jokes came to be. Listen Up Philip is available on-demand starting Tuesday, and opens in a number of theaters across the country this weekend.

Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM

The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member

The latest dispatch from Lorneland involves an auspicious promotion: Leslie Jones, an SNL writer for the past year, has been hired as the show’s newest cast member. Jones will be a featured player beginning with this week’s episode, hosted by Jim Carrey.

Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM

Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 

As jarring a departure as “Shake It Off” may have seemed for Taylor Swift only two months ago, in retrospect it was relatively conservative, and meant to ease us into her new sound. Whereas that dance-pop No. 1 featured mostly acoustic instrumentation, last week’s “Out of the Woods” was a breakup ballad built over an electronic beat. The latest song available to hear off 1989, which leaked this afternoon and hits iTunes later tonight, takes her further than ever from her Nashville roots: It’s a soaring, synth-pop anthem of the kind you could imagine being sung by Katy Perry.

The song’s lyrical conceit is clear from the title—the song is about Swift’s move earlier this year to New York City—and musically it gets a heavy boost from songwriter and anthem-meister extraordinaire Ryan Tedder, who has written and co-written songs for the likes of fellow superstars Beyoncé (“Halo,” “XO”) and Adele (“Rumour Has It”). With its synth handclaps and highly sing-along-ready chorus, the song seems made to convey how big and bright the city can feel to a newcomer.

Oct. 20 2014 5:03 PM

Marcel the Shell Is Back and as Endearing as Ever

Earlier this month in Los Angeles, Jenny Slate joined the Slate Culture Gabfest on stage and explained the murky origins of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, her adorable stop-motion character, who has just returned for a third installment (directed, as always, by Slate’s husband Dean Fleischer-Camp). The story was almost as endearing as Marcel himself (it helped that Slate happily did the voice). 

Oct. 20 2014 4:42 PM

An Oral History of A Nightmare on Elm Street

“Great horror films don’t win Academy Awards,” says horror auteur Wes Craven. Instead, they make money. Thirty-odd years ago, Craven, who’d eventually go on to direct Scream, had an unusual idea for a movie, inspired by a newspaper story about a boy who suffered from horrible nightmares and then died mysteriously in his sleep

After all the major studios passed on his script, Craven met New Line Cinema’s Bob Shaye, an erudite film-industry hustler. Their A Nightmare on Elm Street, released in November 1984, would become one of the most important and lucrative franchises in film history: It helped restore the evil monster—in this case, the striped-sweater-wearing, dream-haunting, pizza-faced killer Freddy Krueger—to top billing in fright films; spawned eight sequels that, along with the original, grossed a cumulative $370 million; turned New Line into an industry powerhouse; and even launched the career of a young actor named Johnny Depp.

Here, the film’s principals recount its ignominious beginnings, mishap-plagued production, and, of course, unkillable afterlife.

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