In 1983, Berkeley poet and journalist Mark O'Brien wrote an article about sexual surrogates — women and men trained to help people with disabilities learn to use their bodies to give themselves and others erotic pleasure.
For O'Brien, the subject wasn't academic. After a bout of childhood polio, he had spent much of his life in an iron lung. He could talk, and tap out words on a typewriter holding a stick in his mouth. He could feel things below the neck. But he couldn't move his muscles.
I have no particular wisdom about this photo; I just think it's interesting to see that the Rockettes are never not regimented. I thought maybe you'd be allowed to wear your own dance clothes, but it makes sense that they'd want to see the effect of everyone looking the same, even in practice. These women work hard.
Like the characters in this year's indie feel-good The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — British pensioners who decide to spend their autumn years living communally and on the cheap in India — the French seniors of the charming yet melancholy All Together face aging in a time of banking crises and austerity measures.
Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 6:50 am
October is normally a time for watching movies through your fingers, knowing something grim is about to happen. Ry Russo-Young's new film, Nobody Walks, is no exception — except that at a horror movie, you're guarding against images that are sure to be terrifying. In this intimate, quietly compelling indie drama, they're mortifying.
With its frisky camerawork, eclectic scenario and playful stylization, the Chinese period action romp Tai Chi Zero is an impressive package. That there's not much inside the glittery wrapping is just a minor drawback.
Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 3:25 pm
It's tempting to call Denis Cote's Bestiaire "contemplative." Its unscored 72 minutes of footage — of animals, caretakers and patrons at Quebec's Parc Safari — certainly leave a lot of room for thought.
The road to hell is paved not just with good intentions, but with movies that attempt to capture the way women really talk. Bodacious confessions about illicit nights spent in all manner of threesomes; loud coffee-shop discussions about yeast infections; repeated fretting about that possible Mr. Right who, for some reason, just hasn't gotten around to calling — all of these things figure heavily in the generally preposterous girl talk that makes up That's What She Said. Elvis Costello sure had it right: There are some things you can't cover up with lipstick and powder.
His public words have inspired millions, but for scholars, his private words and deeds generate confusion, discomfort, apologetic excuses. When the young Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," there's compelling evidence to indicate that he indeed meant all men, not just white guys.
As soon as Sherry Turkle arrived at the studio for her Fresh Air interview, she realized she'd forgotten her phone. "I realized I'd left it behind, and I felt a moment of Oh my god ... and I felt it kind of in the pit of my stomach," she tells Terry Gross. That feeling of emotional dependence on digital devices is the focus of Turkle's research. Her book, Alone Together, explores how new technology is changing the way we communicate with one another.
Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:54 pm
"It was the best of times, it was the best of times," riffs aspiring writer Sophia in the opening of MTV's new dramedy, Underemployed, as she taps away on her laptop, narrating the lives of her recent-grad friends a la Carrie Bradshaw. It's the first cliché in a series full of them. It's also a sign of the ongoing fascination with the lives of twentysomethings trying and failing to do big things in big cities during a big recession. (Take it from me — it's not that great.)
A lot of people would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. At a little over 19,000 feet above sea level, it is Africa's highest peak. Many want to do it to raise money for a cause or just to prove to themselves or the world that they can. And some people, like Spencer West, actually make it to the summit.
Now we want to tell you about history that was just made on a campus that is full of history, some of it difficult. Just a few days ago, a young woman was crowned homecoming queen at her university. And you might think, well, that's nice, but that happens all the time.
Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 8:49 am
I don't know when we decided to start celebrating the 161st anniversaries of things, but it's the 161st anniversary of the publication of Moby-Dick, and there's a Google Doodle to celebrate. [The Telegraph]
Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:56 am
"The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie," admits Binx Bolling, the hero of Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer. It's the same for a lot of us — cinema affects us in ways we don't always understand, and even the worst films appeal to our nostalgia and sense memories in manners that defy the normal rules of taste and logic. (Currently, on my DVR: La Dolce Vita, a classic I know I should see at some point, and Gymkata, a truly terrible 1985 martial-arts flick I've watched a dozen times.
While much of America was watching the second presidential debate, about 2,000 people — many of them between the ages of 20 and 40 — were doing something very different. They had gotten a rare and prized ticket to the only U.S. appearance by J.K Rowling, as she promotes her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.
The crowd was huge but happy — double the number originally planned, forcing the organizers to change venues. Attendees got a ticket to the Lincoln Center event and a copy of the book, which Rowling would later sign.
To speak with Ryan Murphy about his show American Horror Story is to hear this declaration repeatedly: "She classes up the joint."
Murphy is referring to his star, Jessica Lange, who recently won an Emmy for her role in the show's first season. If you've been a fan of Lange's film career, from Tootsie to Frances to Blue Sky, you might wonder why this treasure of the American theater, this two-time Oscar winner, is slumming in a lurid cable TV horror show.
Long before singer and pianist Michael Feinstein became famous in his own right, he had the privilege of working closely with legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin, as his archivist and cataloger. In his new book, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, Feinstein writes firsthand about the musical world of the American composers and brothers, George and Ira Gershwin.
Brooklyn Castle, which I originally saw at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, is one of my favorite movies of the year. And starting this week, it's coming to theaters in select cities. (See a list of theaters here.)
I'm sure Jennifer Lopez knows exactly how much wind is flattering, far more than I do. I'm sure she has a Flattering Wind consultant, and possibly even a Flattering Wind Consultant Handler. ("Assistant To The Flattering Wind Consultant Handler: Coco Maribou. Assistant to Ms. Maribou...")
But honestly, I might have gone with 20 percent less gale force here.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:53 am
Everywhere you go, you are data. You purchase an apple and suddenly ones and zeros are racing through the clickstream like they're wearing superhero capes. Someone, somewhere now knows more about when people eat apples, the likelihood that you will purchase one again, how they correlate to your longevity, your salary, your risk of disease. You shape the universe as you go.
What happens to underground artists after they step, blinking, into the harsh, flat light of the upper world? If they are Robert and Aline Crumb, not a whole hell of a lot — at least, not in their approach to their art. As amply demonstrated in Drawn Together, which collects comics the two cartoonists have created together since the late '70s, their specific subjects may change, but how they go about depicting those subjects — their shared impulse for autobiographical, self-deprecating logorrhea — remains constant.
Dellarobia Turnbow, the smart-mouthed heroine of Barbara Kingsolver'sFlight Behavior, is frustrated by her marriage to Cub, the boy who got her pregnant in high school, and by the grinding privation of life on her in-laws' failing farm. Kingsolver mixes a story of personal awakening with themes of environmental stewardship and climate change as a freak natural phenomenon begins to transform Dellarobia's life. This exclusive excerpt exhibits one of the book's pleasures — Kingsolver's closely observed depictions of rural life — as it introduces the main characters.
From the first five minutes of Vegas, there's no mistaking its classic Western heritage — they even have Stetson-wearing heroes wrangling a herd of cattle on horseback.
The year is 1960, and nail-tough rancher Ralph Lamb has been talked into serving as the top cop in Las Vegas. Lamb's only problem: He's taking over just as the mob is trying to turn Vegas from a sleepy ranch town into the world's grown-up playground.
In Vegas, the white hats just want to run their ranches, while the black hats fight over money, gambling and power.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 4:27 am
My first official kitchen chore, at the ripe age of 6, was to help Mom with the dal. It is one of the first dishes I learned to cook from her, and I still consider her the ultimate dal expert. Dal is sort of an umbrella term under which my family (and, I bet, most Indians) lump pulses and legumes such as lentils, beans and dried peas.