Recent Features
The Bloody Ballad of Charlie and Ira Louvin

The Louvin Brothers made heavenly sounds, but the road they took to get there was Hell on Earth.

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Enjoy Orientalism-Lite with ‘Stranger Magic’

Stranger Magic is an exhaustive compendium of the various tales in the Arabian Nights collection, as well as a robust and energetic investigation into how these stories of “Oriental” myth and folklore have seeped into the European imagination from the 18th century onward.

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The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship with Food

We humans eat a wide array of plants and animals, but unlike other omnivores we eat with our minds as much as our stomachs.

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‘Lord of the Flies’ Still Reigns

Fear and brutality inherent in the human condition and the drive to survive are themes that have never gone out of fashion. The stakes get even higher when those involved are children, and that's obviously a big seller.

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Where Angels Fear to Tread: Steven Pinker’s ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’

Is it worst to be killed by a crazed mob wielding machetes or to die via conveyor belt and filing system? The Better Angels of Our Nature keeps falling victim to the halo effect, creating an aura around reason itself.

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Squeeze This!: A Cultural History of the Accordion in America

No other instrument has witnessed such a dramatic rise to popularity -- and precipitous decline -- as the accordion. Squeeze This! is the first history of the piano accordion and the first book-length study of the accordion as a uniquely American musical and cultural phenomenon.

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That Thing That Makes Funk Funky: ‘The One: The Life and Music of James Brown’

James Brown – an untrained musician, mind you, operating on not much more than feel, instinct and desire – revolutionized black pop music, setting off depth charges that would still be exploding a decade hence.

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The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

A chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

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A Third Spain, Neither Left Nor Right, United by Sex?

"Spanish majas wearing traditional peinetas made-in-Spain enhance their legs with imported French stockings; dark Spanish beauties leave Andalusia to sit in front of American typewriters in an office in Barcelona or Madrid; sexy middle-class señoritas speed away on German bicycles."

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Grunge: Straining to Challenge the Status Quo

Grunge: Music and Memory casts grunge as the unsure middle weight stepping into the ring against one pop music brawler after another. Down goes Michael Jackson, down goes Guns 'n' Roses, and while Springsteen is putting the finishing touches onHuman Touch/Lucky Town, Nirvana and Pearl Jam release the most influential albums of the decade.

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Not Gonna Lie: ‘The Hunger Games’, Twitter, and Reverse Victimization

Would it matter at all if Katniss Everdeen, a white teenager in the book The Hunger Games, had been portrayed in the film by a suitably teenage and female, black actor? For the young racists who have gone berserk on Twitter about the supporting character Rue being portrayed by an African-American actor, apparently the answer is yes.

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A Dot, A Messenger, An Icon: An “A to Z” Conversation with Paul Kelly

If Paul Kelly were an American, he'd be regarded as the States' premiere Americana songwriter. He'd be the king of Austin, or Nashville's ruling prince. But Kelly was born in Adelaide, and often places the aforementioned universal themes amidst Australian locales and history.

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5 Apr 2012 // 2:30 AM

The Story of English in 100 Words

English language expert David Crystal takes readers on a tour of the winding byways of our language via the rude, the obscure and the downright surprising.

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We Need This Map: Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder’s ‘Thinking the Twentieth Century’

This is a three-dimensional map of intellectual terrain, marked hastily but with enormous detail and vividness in the course of a conversation between two well-regarded historians. They have spread the map out on the hood of your car—or perhaps, in honor of Tony Judt, the map has been handed to you in a train station.

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29 Mar 2012 // 10:00 PM

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow's Drift argues that we've drifted away from America's original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails.

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In Defense of Adapting Books, Such as ‘The Hunger Games’, to Film

As The Hunger Games phenomenon fills movie theaters, we are reminded of the age-old idea that the book will forever be better than the movie. Or will it?

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22 Mar 2012 // 10:00 PM

Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music

Henry Mancini has sold 30 million albums and won four Oscars and 20 Grammy awards. Through Mancini, mere background music in movies became part of pop culture -- an expression of sophistication and wit with a modern sense of cool and a lasting lyricism that has not dated.

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Textbook Oppositions and Alternatives: Re-Thinking the Role of Race in ‘60s Rock and Soul Music

Black rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and Arthur Lee (Love), as well as white soul musicians in the racially integrated bands playing on recordings of singers like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, existed during the '60s. So why is rock and soul so black and white?

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Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents

This reprint of the cult classic memoir, based on Ellen Ullman’s early years as a computer programmer, reaffirms the reach and relevance of her thoughts on technology and creativity. Her insight is also foresight, and her story remains immediate, critical – and very entertaining.

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Talk About Getting Lost In a Book: Our Favorite Fiction of 2011

Read this book, pass it on to those who deserve it, and be thankful that the world contains artists like...

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Cube Escape' Is Free, Frustrating, and Weirdly Compelling

// Moving Pixels

"The Cube Escape games are awful puzzle games, but they're an addicting descent into madness.

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