I first heard “Communicating with Horses” in 2008, sitting in a cold room in Portland, Maine, with a handful of other aspiring radio producers at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. We listened closely, unsure where to look. We screwed up our faces, confused. The freedom of the piece was what struck me the most; I remember thinking it was so profoundly weird. There was no real narrative thrust. The piece used real tape—the woman was an actual animal communicator—but it also used elements of fiction and theater that were outside the rules of radio as I had understood them. It was the mid-2000s public-radio equivalent of hearing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in 1913. No one screamed or hurled fruit at the speakers, but we were disturbed: Was this allowed?
And the Paris Agreement on climate change provides the closest thing this documentary has to a plot. Over the course of 100 minutes, Gore educates handsome young people about global warming while working off-stage to push for a finished document. The movie’s climax is the agreement’s completion—a crowning achievement for Gore, and a rare triumph in the long and otherwise sorry history of global climate cooperation.
And just think: If 100,000 people had voted differently in three states, that could have even been the end of the movie. (Warning: This review contains spoilers about the last nine months of geopolitics.) But given that the last moments of the film take place in this world, the movie spends its last moments on the election of Donald Trump and America’s abandonment of Paris. Gore declares that we cannot go back, we cannot lose ground, we cannot surrender—but he seems as at a loss as anyone else about what to do next.
The mechanism that raises and lowers the bread from the chassis is motorized. After I press a button atop the frame, the basket silently lowers the bread into the device to become toast. On its own, this feature seems doomed to mechanical failure. But the risk is worthwhile to facilitate the toaster’s star ability: the “A Bit More” button. That modest attribute offers a lesson for design of all stripes—one that could make every designed object and experience better.
For the timid or uninitiated, leaf-wrapped foods offer an ideal and gentle introduction to fire cooking. Liberated from the need to worry about whether the fish is sticking to the grill or burning, pay attention instead to the rate of browning on the surface of the leaf, which you’ll get to discard whether it chars or remains pale. When juices begin to drip from the packets, you’ll know the temperatures within are climbing. Wait a minute or so, then unwrap a parcel. Check the fish. Is it firm and flaking apart at the touch, no longer translucent but opaque? If so, you’re done. If not, rewrap the fish and return it to the grill for another minute.
First things first: I know A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play and not a novel. But I write this column, and therefore, much like Puck—not to mention Shakespeare himself—I get to break the rules. Plus, it’s feeling mighty midsummery out there (though technically, we’re way past the solstice), so a romantic, hot-weather playlist seems like just the ticket to get us all through the weekend.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is filled with music—fairy songs, mostly (“Weaving spiders, come not here; Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence; Beetles black, approach not near; Worm nor snail do no offence,” etc.)—and has been given many musical treatments over the years since it was put to paper in the late 1500s. But what if William Shakespeare had been a young, love-sick playwright, looking for inspiration in this century? Below, I’ve picked some dreamy, goofy, magical tunes that might have made for good writing music for the bard of bards.
If you die in real life do you die in the dream?