The Art of Magic in Fiction: An Interview with Lev Grossman

Fantasy is a genre dominated by sword-and-sorcery epics, mysterious dragons, and tyrannical sorcerers.  Few fantasy novels have joined the ranks of ‘great’ literature, and fewer still have crossed over into the contemporary literature aisle.  The Lord of the Rings has of course become iconic, and the Harry Potter books were inexplicably popular among non-fantasy readers. But when…

Holiday Movie Recommendation

Our end-of-year movie podcast featured plenty of spirited argument, but one point of unanimous agreement was the excellence of “The Hurt Locker,” which manages to do justice to the Iraq War without lapsing into cheap moralism or clumsy political commentary. If you’re interested, I recommend you check out this interview with the film’s screenwriter, who…

Podcast: Holiday Movie Edition

Blogging is going to be pretty slow around these parts for the next few days, but before everyone disconnects for Christmas, we’ve got a year-in-review movie podcast for your enjoyment. I’m joined by Freddie and Sonny Bunch, film critic at The Washington Times and a blogger at Conventional Folly, for an hour-and-a-half (!) discussion of…

The Top Ten Covers of All Time

A  blizzard-induced Internet outage and various snow-related activities forced the cover selection committee (read: me) to delay its final decision over the weekend. Now, however, we’re back on track. Thanks to everyone for their excellent submissions – I ended up wading through nearly 100 songs to come up with the finalists (the master list is…

Podcast: The Golden Age of Television

I sat down with Freddie and Sonny Bunch, film critic for the Washington Times and a blogger at Conventional Folly, to talk about the A.V. Club’s much-discussed list of the decade’s best television shows. The whole thing is below the fold – gold star to whomever finishes the entire podcast.

The Golden Age

I know the League’s commentariat already went a few rounds over The A.V. Club’s “decade in television” rankings, but The Hollywood Reporter has just released another top ten compilation with more than a few surprising entries. I don’t think the list is particularly good, but it does lend support to the “golden age of television”…

Son of The Wire

Matt Yglesias says: What’s really depressing to me about the current TV landscape isn’t so much that we haven’t seen another Wire-quality show as it is that we haven’t even seen a serious effort to produce another show that’d be as good. The aesthetic message of the The Wire is that it’s possible to create…

Best Television Shows of the Decade

The Onion ranks ’em – let the arguments commence! After reading the list, you begin to realize how consistently excellent the last few years of television have been. My personal top five consists of The Wire, The Office (UK), Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, and the first two and a half seasons of Battlestar Galactica in…

How robots replaced amateur artists.

James Matthew Wilson, an editor at Front Porch Republic, has posted the first four sections of an essay called “Art and Beauty against the Politicized Aesthetic,” and the fifth and final section is on its way. Though he’s posted excerpts for discussion at FPR, the full text is at First Principles (parts one, two, three,…

Football in the Northeast

…which, for football purposes, includes South Florida.  In 2005, the Big East – long a basketball-heavy conference – lost three of its five traditionally strong football programs to the ACC, while one of the remaining two, Syracuse, had fallen on desperate times.  To remain a viable football conference (and retain its BCS status) the league was…

Lost vs. Heroes

Following up a little on my last post wherein I quoted Peter Suderman lamenting the lack of direction and planning for the show Battlestar Galactica, let me just add that two other shows I watch have fallen into similar traps. Heroes started out quite good and has since deteriorated into what I can best describe…

Our National Drug of Choice

No one is above the outrage cycle. We have now, in our culture, synthesized the two worst elements of pre-9/11 and post-9/11 media: the pre-9/11 obsession with meaningless bullshit; and the post-9/11 obsession with filling every story with apocalyptic portent and over the top, tween-girl-at-a-Jonas-brothers-concert hysteria. We still care too much about J-Lo’s dress and…

Bloodsport

Contra Bill Simmons, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest article isn’t 2009’s best piece of sports journalism. In fact, it’s not even the best article about football-related concussions. For that, you’ll have to go to GQ’s “Game Brain,” an absolutely frightening look at the long-term consequences of on-field collisions. I’ve always enjoyed football, but I never really considered…

Time Travel

My favorite movie that involves time traveling is Twelve Monkeys.  Anybody know a better time-travel flick?  And, beyond that, has anyone ever seen a time traveling film that made enough sense to be believable?  I find time travel to be the most difficult plot device – it is either used lazily or despite its clever…

What should I do (with all of this fruit)?

So, I went blackberry picking this weekend, and now I have an unreasonable number of blackberries in my fridge.  I made a cobbler last night – and I intend to make another – but I’ll still have a ton of blackberries left over.  Any suggestions for what to do with them (besides nom them as…