Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

May 25 2016 1:07 PM

A Fascinating Video Essay Explores the Key Reason Why Calvin and Hobbes Remains So Beloved Today

It's probably safe to say that Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson’s daily comic about the adventures of a precocious young boy and his wise stuffed tiger, is one of the most beloved and influential comic strips of all time. A new video essay, courtesy of Kristian Williams, aka YouTube’s KaptainKristian, examines the comic’s resonance and the reasons for its enduring legacy.

Calvin & Hobbes: Art Before Commerce” argues that Watterson’s urge to explore big ideas, rather than mint a marketable brand, was the essential quality by which the comic transcended the trappings of its medium. With such a sincere, imaginative approach in place, anything was possible: The duo’s cartoonishly-rendered visual reality became an opportune point of contrast to Calvin’s richly detailed internal life; the industry-standard 2-by-2-inch flat boxes became an excuse to show characters defying the boundaries of publishers and life alike. As Williams makes clear, it’s no wonder that Calvin and Hobbes continues to inspire new audiences more than two decades after Watterson put down his pen. 

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May 25 2016 11:00 AM

Rod Serling Talks His Obsession With Time and Creating The Twilight Zone in an Animated Lost Interview

For five seasons in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a cigarette-brandishing Rod Serling entered the homes of Americans with his droll brand of off-kilter storytelling on The Twilight Zone. In the latest episode of PBS’ ongoing animated series Blank on Blank, a lost 1963 interview with Australian journalist Binny Lum reveals that the host could be just as wry in real life. While discussing his fear of riding in Japanese taxi cabs, dubbed “kamikazes,” he quips, “I think probably they’re gonna start giving medals and ribbons for service in back seats of Japanese cabs.”

Serling could also be quite optimistic: “The most unfettered imagination belongs to young people,” he says of the adolescent fans of his show. “They don’t walk through life, they fly, and that’s marvelous. They defy the law of gravity—mentally, anyway.” 

May 25 2016 9:02 AM

The Sad State of Game of Thrones’ Direwolves

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire.

RIP, Summer. With the most recent direwolf death on Game on Thrones, their numbers are dwindling. Only two of the original pack remain—Jon Snow’s loyal Ghost, and Arya’s long-lost Nymeria. Originally, there were six pups, one for every Stark child (even half-Starks), and they were appropriately named to capture both their function and their owner’s personality (and perhaps even their destiny). Here’s a refresher on each of the fierce protectors.

Sansa, who wanted nothing more than to be a noblewoman, named hers after her chivalric ideal—Lady. Before her death, Lady was said to be “the prettiest, the most gentle and trusting” of the direwolves. But being pretty, gentle, and trusting is not the kind of survival skill you need in Westeros, and both Lady, as well as Sansa’s “gentle and trusting” spirit, were destroyed by the Lannisters. Also sadly, Lady, who never attacked anyone, was targeted because of the actions of another, just as Sansa was mistreated by the Lannisters because of her father and brother.

May 25 2016 8:32 AM

A Genius Way to Upgrade Your Fried Eggs

This post originally appeared on Food52.

You've probably heard by now about the joys of frying your eggs in a sloshy pan of a little too much olive oil—the crispy edges and luscious middles you get, the adrenaline of spooning hot oil over a delicate protein, the control it affords you as you determine which corners need more cooking and aim your spoon.

Your own hand is more viscerally and immediately connected to cooking than in just about any other form, including black magic and Searzalls.

But, with olive oil-fried eggs being a near-perfect, near-instant food, had you ever thought to tinker? I hadn't, but Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton at Canal House had. They toss a half teaspoon of smoked paprika into the oil as it sizzles. That's it.

May 25 2016 8:02 AM

The Trailblazing Comic Genius of Strangers With Candy

Last week, Hulu began streaming Strangers With Candy, the cult classic that ran on Comedy Central for three short and tragically underwatched seasons from 1999 to 2000. Rejoice, millennials, for now you, too, can witness the exploits of Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris), the sartorially challenged, openly perverse, and willfully illiterate 46-year-old high-school freshman who has resumed her life exactly where she left off before she ran away to become “a user, a boozer, and a loser.”

May 25 2016 12:59 AM

The Five Top Direct-to-Video Action Movie Lines in the Sniper: Ghost Shooter Trailer

A new trailer was released Tuesday for Sniper: Ghost Shooter, and it looks exactly like what you’d expect the trailer for Sniper: Ghost Shooter would look like. Did you know this is the sixth film in the Sniper franchise, which began with 1993’s Sniper, and includes Sniper 2, Sniper 3, Sniper: Reloaded, and Sniper: Legacy? If not, you could probably deduce it from the trailer, which is a child’s garden of low-rent Tom Clancy technobabble. Every single line is priceless, but here are the five all-time greatest.

“Take the shot! Rampage! Rampage, take the shot!”

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This line sounds silly now, but it’ll sound a lot less silly when the producers are driving around in Ferraris bought with the money from the seven Code Name: Rampage movies.

“The MQ-1 Predator will be our eyes in the sky.”

Always be as specific as possible with the model numbers for any hardware in the film. Ideally, the next line of dialogue would be, “Actually, ma’am, we replaced that with the General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle.”

“We’re gonna hit ’em back. And we’re gonna hit ’em back hard.”

Based on absolutely no evidence, I’m going to say that this is a trademark line in all of the Sniper films, sort of an “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” fan-service thing.

“You, or someone on your team, is feeding our coordinates to Gazakov.”

Is Gazakov the ghost shooter? Does he shoot like a ghost, or shoot ghosts? Would Sniper: Ghost Buster be a better movie? Regardless, in this kind of movie “you, or someone on your team” always means “you.” Don’t trust this guy; he’s clearly busting ghosts with Gazakov.

“Sniper is what we are. No hesitation.”

Sniper is what we are! Snipers is what we are? Sniper are what we is? We snipers are what? Sniper am that I am.

May 24 2016 11:55 PM

T-Pain Just Released a Shot-For-Shot Remake of a Smiths Video

It seems like it’s the season for shot-by-shot music video remakes: Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd started things off with a bang with their inexplicable remake of Styx’s “Too Much Time on My Hands,” and now Classixx and T-Pain have gotten into the game. Their entry into the remake derby is the video for the Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” restaged in East Los Angeles. In this case, it really is only a remake of the video—the audio is a new song, “Whatever I Want,” by Classixx featuring T-Pain. That’s all for the best: No one needs a new Smiths cover. Here’s the original, directed by Tim Broad:

The new version was shot as part of GoPro’s Director’s Program and, not coincidentally, shot entirely on a GoPro HERO4 camera. Director Daniel Pappas did a clever job moving the setting to East Los Angeles; Mariachi Plaza doesn’t look much like the Salford Lads Club, until you notice the Boyle Hotel looming in the background. But there’s one glaring error, which becomes apparent once you compare this shot, from the original video:

fisheye
“Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.”

Rhino

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With this one, from the remake:

nofisheye
“Whatever I Want.”

GoPro

You’d think between T-Pain, Classixx, and a camera company, someone would know how important fisheye lenses are to crafting #1 jams—but then, GoPros don’t have interchangeable lenses. 

May 24 2016 5:34 PM

Watch Radiohead Perform the Album Version of “True Love Waits” Live for the First Time

When Radiohead released their new album A Moon Shaped Pool earlier this month, fans were surprised to find a familiar old title, “True Love Waits,” as the album’s closer. The band had played the song in concert numerous times over the years—with one performance landing on the live album I Might Be Wrong—but had never put out a studio recording. After years of discarded attempts at an album version that would do the song justice, its stripped-down final form proved worth the wait.

Radiohead premiered the retooled version of the song on Monday night at the Zénith in Paris, three stops into its 2016 tour. Thom Yorke played it alone on an empty stage, as he often had before—this time from behind a piano instead of on an acoustic guitar. If the hushed, rapt response is any indication, Radiohead may have found a new concert staple. 

May 24 2016 4:59 PM

Paul McCartney Tells the Story Behind His Collaborations With Kanye West

When Kanye West first released the studio version of his raucous 2015 single “All Day,” I noted the surprising inclusion of elements of an obscure, 45-year-old outtake from Paul McCartney. Remembering that McCartney wrote the song after the birth of his first child, I wondered: “Did West and McCartney, who also recorded the parental ballad ‘Only One’ together, bond over memories of having their first children—and end up with this?”

It turns out that I wasn’t far off the mark. During a new Q&A with BBC Radio 4 for their Mastertapes series—which you can watch in full here—an audience member asked McCartney, “Who in current music inspires you to keep writing?” McCartney mentioned Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, and James Bay (who was in the audience), and then said, “I love Kanye.” Thus began his explanation of how two of his collaborations with West—“All Day” and “FourFiveSeconds”—came together.

May 24 2016 12:35 PM

The Top 10 Rule-Breaking Films of All Time, in One Video Countdown

There are certain aspects of filmmaking that we take for granted: Some are just expectations—a movie that starts off as a crime drama typically won’t suddenly turn into a horror movie halfway in—while others are actual rules, like the 180-degree rule, which keeps the camera on one side of a scene’s action. CineFix’s newest Top 10 video countdown celebrates the renegade filmmakers who flouted these conventions and instead took risks with nonclassical editing, nonlinear plots, and bizarre visuals.

Among those honored are Alfred Hitchcock, who makes the list for breaking the rule that you can’t kill off the protagonist before the final act (a twist that was much more shocking in a pre–George R. R. Martin era) and Jean-Luc Godard, who flaunts the artifice of editing where most try to disguise it. But their top pick is a tough call between some of the most rebellious directors of all time.

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