Gene Wilder’s Endearing Menace

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Like the rest of the civilized universe, I was saddened to hear of Gene Wilder’s death yesterday. Despite the fact that he hadn’t appeared in a major motion picture for some 25 years, he left an enduring mark on the cinematic landscape. You don’t really need me to tell you this, you just need to look at the titles associated with him: Young FrankensteinBlazing SaddlesThe Producers, and, of course, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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Obama, Hillary, Biden, Trump—They’re Just Like Us

Your trial awaits, normal citizen / AP

If the past week has reminded us of anything, it is that world-historical politicians are people just like you and me, except they are on live television.

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Matthew Walther’s Washington Diary

Didgeridoos are very large. The bro I saw yesterday wearing a green “Mushroom Life” t-shirt was holding one only ten feet from my face and it looked bigger than him. We were both standing in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, where, according to Reuters Daybook, my old Iowa sweetheart Susan Sarandon was supposed to be speaking at 1:00 p.m. on behalf of a Native American tribe opposed to a pipeline in North Dakota.

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Five Scariest Movies in the Last 30 Years

Blair Witch Project

Inspired by the creepy new trailer for Rings—the sequel/reboot/whatever of the 2002 J-horror remake The Ring—I decided to watch the original (well, the original American iteration) last night. While watching, I tossed off a tweet that it was probably one of the five scariest films of the last 30 years. This, of course, inspired people to ask what the other four were.

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Amy Schumer Owes Most of Her Career to Her Liberal Politics

when will Hollywood finally stop harassing liberals for expressing their views smdh / AP

The comedienne Amy Schumer was on Charlie Rose recently talking about politics and stuff when she uttered the following:

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Gawker Employees and Other Monsters of History Remember Gawker


Washington, D.C. — New York gossip rag Gawker ceased operations yesterday following owner Nick Denton’s inability to unload the property at auction, prompting a seemingly endless flow of sentimental essays, whiny laments about the power of the wealthy, and treacly thinkpieces about the demise of the once-proud website. Visitors to the site in its final …

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Ryan Lochte, American Hero

Ryan Lochte, Hero / AP

Any American who has ever traveled to a non-English-speaking third-world craphole knows one simple fact: the locals are always trying to shake you down for some of that sweet sweet cash you’re carrying. Always. There’s always a scam in the offing, always a cabbie looking to take you for a literal and figurative ride. You have to be on the lookout, because foreigners know that Americans would rather throw money at a problem to make it go away than get involved with local authorities.

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This Sounds Like the Worst Game in the World

Photo on 8-19-16 at 3.03 PM

Until yesterday I was still unpacking from my extended stays in Cleveland and the City of Brotherly Love. Last night my wife got sick of watching me throw dirty shirts out of my suitcase into the laundry basket and demanded that I empty my luggage for real. It took a while, but I complied.

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In Defense of Jared Leto

For the record, this post is titled 'In Defense of Jared Leto,' not 'In Defense of Jared Leto's Ridiculous Outfits' / AP

News broke yesterday that Jared Leto had been cast in the forthcoming Blade Runner sequel, and reaction was mixed-to-hostile. The hostility stems in part, I think, from the fact that “the forthcoming Blade Runner sequel” is a thing that exists and is unnecessary to the point of annoyance. But there also seems to be a legitimate strain of Leto Fatigue in the critical world.

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How to Virtue-Signal With Dead Kids

aleppo child

Liberal anti-interventionists have a guilty conscience. They know the Assad regime, now joined by Russia and Iran, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in the worst mass slaughter since the wars in Africa in the 1990’s. They also know that, unlike in Africa, the United States could have done things, relatively easy things, to prevent much of the killing.

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The Grim Irony of Nate Parker’s Troubles

Nate Parker / AP

I have a piece up this morning at the Washington Post reiterating my belief that it’s the duty of the critic (and, frankly, anyone interested in the arts) to separate an artist from their art. This is more or less the crux of my argument:

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One Small Complaint About ‘Stranger Things’ (Spoilers)


One of the things you learn very quickly as a new parent is that the time you can dedicate to binging programming via Netflix is extremely limited. I’ve missed a lot over the last year—the latest seasons of Bojack Horseman and Orange Is the New Black, just for starters—and probably won’t make up the lost ground. (Somewhere, the world’s smallest violin plays.)

I was able to carve out a weekend’s worth of viewing time to catch Stranger Things, however, and I have to say: I loved every minute of the show. It’s as good as everyone has said, something along the lines of a Steven Spielberg adaptation of a Stephen King novel that John Carpenter did second unit work on. Funny, scary, emotionally sweet and sad, and filled to the rafters with good performances by a crop of talented young actors, Stranger Things is the best new TV show I’ve seen since … Silicon Valley debuted, I guess. Four stars. No complaints.

Well. One complaint. (Spoilers after the image.)

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Riots Are Not ‘Uprisings’

An 'uprising' in action / AP

A while back, I was reading Revolution in the Air, a book on the history of the New Left, and I noticed an annoying linguistic tic. The author repeatedly used words like “rebellion” and “uprising” to describe race riots. For instance: How could it be otherwise, when they saw such juxtapositions as SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael (later …

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Michel Richard, 1948-2016

Michel Richard, right, accepting the 2008 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant (AP)

I last saw Michel Richard a few months ago at his eponymous restaurant, Central Michel Richard, in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. He didn’t look well. He was barely managing his diabetes and his memory seemed to fade from time to time. He also had a bit of a temper—at least more than usual. We sat outside for lunch, surrounded by his clientele, although I doubt these diners, some of whom looked like tourists, knew who he was. He started mindlessly banging a spoon on the table, which led his publicist Mel Davis, to chide him about the noise. “I can do whatever I want,” he said, and banged the spoon with a definitive whap! The diners at a nearby table snapped their heads in his direction–they looked annoyed. I felt like saying, “Do you have any idea who this man is? What a genius he is? What a legend?”

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Meet the DNC’s Advisory Board on Cybersecurity

The A-Team

The Democratic National Committee announced a new advisory board on cybersecurity on Thursday. The announcement comes on the heels of the recent DNC hack that resulted in the resignation of several high-ranking Democratic officials, including DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.).

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