When you're as old as Norman Lear, you go to a lot of funerals—even in Plastic Town, U.S.A., where people often embalm themselves prior to death. On a spotless L.A. spring day, he's just back from one, of a dear friend, and ever the producer, he doesn't love the way it played. In fact, it's left him a little stunned, the part where they stuck the coffin in a slot at the mausoleum.
“I saw a coffin put in a wall,” he says. “I'd never seen that before. God, I thought it was much less pretty than scattering ashes over some beloved terrain. I would prefer the prettier ending.” That we don't know how “the game of life” ends drives us “fucking crazy,” he says. But this is part of “the foolishness of the human condition,” as he sees it, the built-in absurdity of life that he learned at the tender age of 9 (more on that later) and that he's reflected and exploited again and again in his 67-year career, showing us our worst foibles while making us spit-up laugh at ourselves.
Today, Star Wars is much more than a movie. But it is worth noting that it all could have ended in 1977. In Michael Kaminski’s 2007 book The Secret History of Star Wars, it’s revealed that Lucas considered ending the series after the first film, even after it became such a massive global hit. Star Wars could have been the ultimate one-and-done.
We think of the world of Star Wars as vast, nearly infinite. This is, after all, the saga Wired called “The Forever Franchise.” But what if it had stopped right there? What if there were no sequels at all? What if Star Wars was the only Star Wars?
The empirical findings in “Everybody Lies” are so intriguing that the book would be a page-turner even if it were structured as a mere laundry list. But Mr Stephens-Davidowitz also puts forward a deft argument: the web will revolutionise social science just as the microscope and telescope transformed the natural sciences.
It’s the night before Thanksgiving and I’m at the Meals-2-Go section in the Western State University Center Café stuffing saran-wrapped turkey sandwiches into my backpack while the cashier stares at her phone. I was supposed to have driven back home to Colorado Springs that morning before the storm but last night Chelsea stole a handle of Old Crow from the senior suite and we stayed up drinking and watching clips from nineties dating shows on YouTube and next thing I knew it was noon today and Chelsea was shaking me awake to say that her car was here to take her to her flight home to LA. By the time I got my shit together the roads were closed and the snow was beginning to really fall. I lied and told my mom I had a last-minute project that I had to work on for class because I figured it was a better excuse than sleeping in. The truth is I don’t really care that I’m missing Thanksgiving, I’m mostly bummed that Chelsea won’t be around to drink and gossip and watch movies with for five whole days.
I pay for one sandwich and go back outside where ice crystals attack my eyes. Squinting, I trudge on, thinking of the sandwich I’m about to eat and the half-bottle of Old Crow waiting for me. I can just barely just make out the path to the dorms. Chelsea’s sleeping bag coat that she let me keep for the break feels like a freaking t-shirt in this weather, and immediately my nose begins to run and my snot to freeze. I take the long way to see if Paul Brewer’s light is on. He’s a transfer student from some East Coast liberal arts school and super-hot, and he told Chelsea he was staying on campus over Thanksgiving. Maybe, I think, this is the weekend to make my move, though I’ve hardly spoken two words to him and am an awkward mess whenever he comes into our room to talk to Chelsea. She says he visits to see me but I know that he’s definitely there for her. I see a light on and call his name but the wind swallows it up. It’s cold and I feel like a loser so I keep on walking.