The New Yorker: August 5, 2013

7 Aug

Cover
The much-talked-about Anthony Weiner/King Kong drawing. You know, for a current events cover, this is not bad. I like the drawing and it’s a clever concept. I don’t hate it. Plus it’s a New York current event and the magazine is The New Yorker, after all.

Front
Comment about Detroit’s bankruptcy. Sad story all around. Nothing notable here, but I will link an interesting recent piece about the D from Rembert Browne on Grantland. Mr. Browne is doing a lot of good work over there.

The other noteworthy Talk item was Larissa MacFarquhar on a woman designing luxury handbags designed for carrying guns. Her company is called Designer Concealed Carry. She has a couple quotes about carrying a firearm. She doesn’t seem to have any compunction about killing someone. Her real worry is that the police might not trust her judgment about who does and doesn’t deserve to be shot.

“It’s very frightening that, if you do ever have to use it, you will face civil or criminal charges. That’s just the way society is, even if the laws are clear. So people who carry a firearm have legal-representation insurance.”

MURIKA.

Middle
Jeffrey Toobin’s Texas/abortion/Planned Parenthood article was interesting, even if it didn’t cover a lot of new ground. The most interesting note is that Planned Parenthood’s president is the daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards. I didn’t know that.

I have some thoughts about Woody Allen’s Shouts & Murmurs. He shows up in the magazine every now and then, I’d guess his pieces are pretty popular. I’ve never been a fan of his humor writing like I am of his movies. His style doesn’t connect as well in print. Maybe part of it is that it’s impossible to read him without doing a Woody Allen impression in your head. Plus his humor pieces always seem kind of light and forgettable. And a lot of throwaway gags. Like he takes his bad screenplay ideas and one-liners and mashes them up into 1200 words for TNY. His books of these are pretty popular. I don’t really see myself enjoying a bunch of these in a row. Maybe I’m way off. Maybe his old stuff is better. I don’t know. Not that they’re terrible. Special note to a character in this one, an art dealer named Larry Fallopian, which seems like an obvious reference to Larry Gagosian. I liked that, even if it is the kind of jokey-joke that I was just lamenting.

Gary Shteyngart did not make Google Glass seem all that appealing. I say this as a firm proponent of the flip-phone lifestyle. Mine dates from 2008. I have no desire to upgrade my phone. So it logically follows that I have no desire to start wearing glasses with a computer in them. Life is terrible in so many ways now. Plus Mr. Shteyngart says that he hears the term glasshole is “already current” in San Francisco. Another reason I would not move to San Francisco even if I could afford to. Which I can’t.

On the topic of life being terrible in so many ways now, Ariel Levy has a long reported piece on the Steubenville rape saga. The whole thing just makes me feel despair. Hey everybody, never get drunk ever.

Lengthy profiles of ballet choreographers aren’t really in my wheelhouse. One of the best things about TNY is that they make pieces like this accessible and interesting even for me. A nice mix of insidery ballet stuff and candy for the rest of us to keep it moving. Benjamin Millepied is the subject. He’s probably best-known as Natalie Portman’s husband. I bet that’s a fun time.

Fiction
Good story by Shirley Jackson. Ms. Jackson died in 1965. Her story The Lottery is one of the most famous TNY short stories ever.* This one had a similar kind of feel. I should read more of her stuff. And I love the way that this just showed up with no fanfare or special mention in the magazine. Just a note in the Contributors section like any other writer. TNY is the best.

*Or read it in the TNY archives. It’s just better that way if you ask me.

Back
I don’t know enough about British history or politics to have a real opinion about Margaret Thatcher. This week’s Critic at Large seemed like a decent overview. I wish Republicans would start calling themselves Tories. So much better than the GOP.

It’s always interesting when Wallace Shawn shows up in the magazine. His father, of course, was William Shawn, who was TNY’s editor for 35 years and is something of a legendary figure. The younger Shawn did a lot of work while his father was still editing TNY. I should go back and see what was written about his plays and movies then.

OK I just did that. I didn’t read them, but there are a few reviews of old plays, mostly by Brendan Gill. There’s also a review of My Dinner with Andre by Pauline Kael. And a few casuals and reviews by the younger Shawn himself. I’ll check into it later. An interesting topic for sure.

Three reviews by David Denby. I don’t think I’m going to see The To Do List. I like Aubrey Plaza a lot, but this movie just looks kind of…stupid. Sorry. I think I’m past the point of my life where I can enjoy teen comedies. I’ve heard good things about The Spectacular Now. Shailene Woodley was the best part of The Descendants. I might check that out. Maybe I can still do a teen romance. And I’m very excited about The Canyons. I don’t think it’ll be good, really. Still excited. One of the few movies I mentioned in my 2013 film preview.

Copyediting
Interesting quirk on page 71. In the Thatcher piece, the magazine of course refers to “Mrs. Thatcher”. Except for a quoted passage from a British source, which uses “Mrs Thatcher”, with no period, as per UK convention. I’ve noted in the past that TNY changes quotes to fit its house style, interesting decision here to leave it alone.

Cartoons
Baseball cartoon on page 35. These always seem to have baseball players with stirrups, even though no one wears stirrups anymore. I like that. Paul Lukas on Uni Watch has pointed this out many times in the past. Stirrups forever.

Caption contest entry
“Fresh ground pepper?”

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