Slate's Culture Blog

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.”

Video Advertisement

Dec. 17 2014 5:00 PM

Should Pie Be Square Instead of Round?

Dan Pashman, the author of the new book Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious and the host of the podcast The Sporkful, holds a lot of unconventional views about food. I recently invited Dan to join me in the kitchen to test out one of his more outlandish theories: that pie should be square instead of circular. Dan explains his hypothesis in Eat More Better:

Bottom outer crust and vertical side crust are superior, because of their positioning and thickness. They’re ideally suited to absorb flavor from the fillings while maintaining toothsinkability.
Therefore, the best bite of a slice of pie is where vertical side crust, bottom outer crust, and fillings come together:
So how can we construct a pie that has more of these precious morsels? By making pie SQUARE.

Is Dan right? Should we all throw out our pie plates right now and replace them with square cake pans? Watch the video above to find out the winner in our round vs. square bake-off.

Dec. 17 2014 4:27 PM

Screenings ofThe Interview Have Been Canceled in New York and D.C.

A spokeswoman from Allied, a film publicity company operating out of D.C., has announced that all D.C. promotional screenings of The Interview have been canceled for Wednesday evening. Though an email sent to members of the Washington area press didn’t elaborate on reasons, the cancellations are likely related to threats from the alleged hackers of Sony’s computer system. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001,” the group, which calls itself Guardians of Peace, warned in late November. “Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

The Interview stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as hapless friends who are sucked into a Kim Jong-Un assassination scheme. The New York City premiere of The Interview has already been called off, as have promotional appearances by Rogen and Franco. As of this post, a Slate writer was able to confirm by phone that the New York City screening scheduled for 8 p.m. at AMC Lowes on West 34th Street is also canceled, though no official email has yet been sent.


Update, Dec. 17, 5:06 p.m.: It’s official. Sony has pulled The Interview from theatrical release. Here’s the full statement:

In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

Dec. 17 2014 4:13 PM

The Black Mirror Christmas Special Is Brilliant and Disturbing

The title of Black Mirror, the rightly celebrated British anthology series about the sinister side of technology, refers to all of the screens that surround us. The phones, tablets, televisions, computers—the very screen you are reading this on: They are all black mirrors, reflecting ourselves back to ourselves, darkly. Each of the show’s six, masterfully constructed, newly-arrived-on-Netflix episodes is completely self-contained—and most end with a sickening twist. The episodes brim with ideas that are utterly sensible extrapolations from our current cultural and technological moment, and yet are so much more fanged, fierce, and sour than the often Pollyanna-ish predictions we make about future technologies, and, more to the point, how we will use them. You think it would be cool to record everything that’s ever happened to you and call it up for review whenever you want? Watch “The Entire History of You” and get back to me. Black Mirror is, roughly speaking, about the future, but what it reflects back again and again are basic human flaws, magnified with the help of increasingly powerful tools.

Dec. 17 2014 3:26 PM

Adult Swim’s Follow-Up to “Too Many Cooks” Is Even Darker and Just as Good

Adult Swim has been killing it lately with a series of aggressively weird late nightinfomercials,” the Internet-freakout-inducing “Too Many Cooks” being, of course, the runaway hit. This week’s “Unedited Footage of a Bear” is just as mind-meltingly good, though it is even darker and more abrasive. What starts as, well, unedited footage of a bear transitions into a parody of allergy medicine commercials then slowly descends into a Lynchian nightmare of crumbling psyches. But, as with “Cooks,” it’s best to just click play and let it take you for a ride:

Dec. 17 2014 2:34 PM

Funny or Die Is Excited for the Final Episode of Serial. No Pressure, Sarah Koenig!

Fans of Serial have spent most of the last week on the edge of their seats. With the final episode of the blockbuster true-crime podcast set for release tomorrow, we’ll finally find out ... well, what, exactly?

Dec. 17 2014 2:22 PM

Tim Burton Says He Plans to Make Beetlejuice 2 With Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder

More than 25 years have passed since Tim Burton’s 1988 cult classic Beetlejuice, and plans for a sequel have been in the works since at least 2012. It now appears that those plans are starting to move forward: Burton, speaking to MTV, has confirmed that he wants to return to direct, that he’s continuing to work on a script with Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows), and that there are parts for both Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder.

Dec. 17 2014 1:07 PM

Sony Really Should Release The Interview Online, and Soon

The fallout from the Sony hacks continues. The New York premiere of The Interview was canceled after threats to theaters from the alleged hackers, who have focused their ire on the big-budget comedy with the Kim Jong-un assassination plot. The film’s stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco, have canceled all upcoming media appearances, and at least one major theater chain, Carmike Cinemas, has pulled the film from its roster completelyUpdate, Dec. 17, 2:59 p.m.: The Wall Street Journal reports that Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Holdings, and Cinemark Holdings, Inc. have joined Carmike in the decision to cancel screenings of the film. This is a huge blow for Sony: “Together,” Erich Schwartzel and Ben Fritz explain, “the four chains control more than 18,000 of North America’s approximately 40,000 movie screens.”

Dec. 17 2014 10:17 AM

Watch Kendrick Lamar Perform a New Song as The Colbert Report’s Final Musical Guest

Tuesday night, The Colbert Report welcomed Kendrick Lamar as the show’s final musical guest—a double-edged sword, Colbert noted, joking that Paul McCartney, R.E.M., Jack White, and Nas were all his opening acts. Not that Kendrick minds that sort of pressure. After a brief interview (which included some funny back and forth between the two), Lamar performed a new untitled song from his long-awaited follow up to 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City that should silence many critics of his empowering first single, “i.”

Dec. 17 2014 9:16 AM

Do We Need Another Leafy Green “Superfood”? We Have One!

Sometimes, because I am a person who writes about food on the Internet, public relations representatives offer to send me samples of new products to taste and (they hope) review. Most of the time, these product pitches concern candy, snacks, beer, or coffee. But recently, I got a pitch that was about a new vegetable—or really, an extant plant part that had recently been repackaged as a vegetable: broccoli leaves. In other words, leaves from the plant that produces broccoli.

According to its website, BroccoLeaf—the name trademarked by Foxy Produce to describe this leaf—is “a magical delicious power food veggie.” How could I resist such an appealing jumble of adjectives and nouns? I asked Foxy’s publicist to send me some.