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Thursday, October 31, 2019

How Many Christmas Movies Is Too Many Christmas Movies?, by Ashley Spencer, New York Times

How is it even possible that there’s room for so many movies from a single genre? Are we reaching peak Christmas?

“No matter what the state of the economy, no matter what the state of chaos or stability, there is an extraordinary appetite for simple, cheesy, unsophisticated, easy-to-watch programming,” said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “And all the better if it’s wrapped up in the bunting and ribbons of Christmas.”

History And Philosophy Should Make Us Feel Baffled And Strange, by Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Aeon

Yet wonder is sadly absent from much of our discussions on history and philosophy today. We use the word in conversations all the time but, somehow, the idea that we might feel like Theaetetus at times doesn’t seem very explicable or, worse, grown-up. History and philosophy don’t do wonder: that is for rockstar boy-scientists, children and sideshow alleys. In thinking these ways, I think we have lost something immeasurably more powerful than the racks of books that I still grieve.

In a way, I think we want wonder lost because it is discomforting. It gets under your skin, mocking your efforts at sense-making. When we look at the way that people have thought about wonder through time, our tidy, rational disciplinary histories unravel. New voices emerge, and we aren’t sure what to do with them. We also come face-to-face with those who appropriate the ‘look’ of history and philosophy to challenge and confuse us about what is certain and what is good, right and fair. They do so for good and for ill. And we face the dark thought that our efforts at ordering both knowledge and the world can prevent us from facing our most troubling ethical problems.

Anthony Bourdain, A Legendary Knife, An Auction, And A Love Story, by Sarah Rense, Esquire

A Bob Kramer knife is a thing to behold, with waves of carbon exploding across the blade, and at the time, Kramer was obsessed with using meteorites, which are crashing into the ground in such plentiful numbers that "you can go to eBay and buy meteorites all day long," he insists. (It’s true.)

"You know, if somebody stabbed you to death with that knife—and that would be wrong, I hasten to say—that knife's so beautiful you couldn't help but say, 'That's a really amazing looking knife,'" Bourdain commented while they filmed, before putting one to the test to chop chives right there in the shop.

Ten Years Ago, I Called Out David Letterman. This Month, We Sat Down To Talk., by Nell Scovell, Vanity Fair

It’s rare in life that a story has a clear beginning, a middle, and an end. I would have preferred that Dave had been paying attention when it could have made a difference, but this is the ending I got.

The Uses—and Uselessness—of Poetry, By Dara Barnat, by Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, World Literature Today

Back descends into a sea of loss, bringing to bear the tools of language in her possession, to explore whether these tools can matter at all.

Rick Baker, The Monster Maker Of Hollywood, by Mandalit del Barco, NPR

An American Werewolf in London. The zombies from Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Bela Lugosi's Dracula from Ed Wood. The dark fairy Maleficent.

They're all the work of Rick Baker, who created some of the most memorable movie monsters and creatures of the last four decades. Baker is retired now, having won seven Oscars for makeup. But he's chronicled his long career in a new two-volume illustrated book titled Metamorphosis.

We’re The Husbands From Every Haunted House Movie, And We Think You’re Just Not Giving Our New Home A Chance, by Amanda Lehr, McSweeney's

Now, Muriel, no one said that moving was going to be easy. It’s been a chaotic time for all of us. And, true, our new place isn’t perfect. It doesn’t have the crown molding you wanted. There’s no central air. And, yes, every night at 3 AM, we’re awakened by frantic scratching sounds from inside the walls. It’s just the house settling, sweetheart! You know, like we did in ’96.