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Film Review: Lincoln

(11/29/12 11:01am)

The people who inhabit the Washington D.C. of Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama, Lincoln, could be well-described by Snoop Dogg’s—forgive me, Snoop Lion’s—song “G’s and Hustlas.” These eponymous characters, Snoop reflects, “want some, get some, bad enough, take some.” They are wheeler-dealers, unscrupulous figures trying their hardest to advance in politics—and presumably, in the process, make their “sh*t dope.” In particular, proceedings of the House of Representatives are about as loud and raucous as your average frat party. Votes for bills or amendments transcend meek “yes”’s or “no”’s into ear-splitting shrieks of “YAYYY” or “NAYYY.” Outspoken abolitionist Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) can’t help but call a whole lot of people “nincompoops.” Throughout the film, representatives, true legislative frat-stars, deliver rousing speeches at the House podium. In this Congress, resulting celebratory Busch-Light-shot-gunning sessions would not feel out of place.

Film Review: Looper

(10/04/12 8:35am)

The trailer for Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller Looper distills American pop culture to two minutes of frenzied glory. We get Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, made up with a Willis-esque putty Roman nose, running train, engaging in fighting rampages and blowing stuff up—all set to the frenetic, throttling wub-wub-wubs of dubstep. It’s the standard, romanticized, what-Hollywood-thinks-America-wants setup.

Music Review: Dinosaur Jr.

(09/20/12 7:16am)

Dinosaur Jr., an alt-rock trio consisting of lead singer J Mascis, drummer Murph and bassist/occasional singer Lou Barlow, are about as ancient as dinosaurs themselves. The band started in 1984, and they’ve been professional musicians for almost 30 years. I Bet on Sky, their tenth studio album, comes at the tail end of a career that has shaped the trajectory of independent music.

Music on the Lawn concludes series with musical doc

(09/04/12 9:12am)

When I found out that Shut Up and Play the Hits was only playing for one day in theaters in July—some sort of devilish yet ingeniously effective scheme by the distributors in terms of purchase-motivating psychology, I imagined—I scrambled to buy tickets. I was rewarded; the film, recounting LCD Soundsystem’s final show, was historically important, captured the concert experience tremendously, delved into big questions about the nature of art and experience itself, and introduced us to lead singer James Murphy’s absurdly adorable French Bulldog. I paid around 10 bucks for that screening, movie-theater-buttered popcorn notwithstanding.

The Sandbox

(07/02/12 4:07am)

Maybe I find the Scripps National Spelling Bee so entertaining because of the cultural connection. It is the Desi Hunger Games, after all, a streak that began when Nupur Lala won in 1999; an Indian-American has won the Bee 10 times in the last 14 years. This year, the career tributes didn’t disappoint—after two days of fighting to the [orthographical] death, Snigdha Nandipati, another Indian, won, and the top three contestants were all Indian. Take that, District 12!

I don’t know, ya’ll

(04/13/12 4:00am)

Pretty much every day at Duke, I’ll hear someone refer to a girl as a “dumb bitch,” or worse, “dumb c***.” I’ll see that a beautiful “I need feminism” poster from the recent campaign has been defaced with a sheet of paper bearing the message “make me a sandwich.” I’ll hear some girl on the plaza emphatically declare, “Oh, I’m not a feminist or anything,” as if it’s absurd to believe in something as necessary and important as equality for women.

Saxapahaw, N.C.

(03/13/12 3:43am)

The town of Saxapahaw, N.C., may sound more like a sneeze than a name. Yet for a town nobody has heard of, it has its wondrous rustic charm, one that effortlessly combines the old and the new. Half artsy hipster and half pure backcountry North Carolina, the town ensconces about a three-mile radius, interrupted by a bridge across the grand Haw River. The feeling of the town is one of enduring openness—in people, activities and space. Buildings are constructed with old-age brick and hardwood floor, but brim with modern technology and style. Doors are perpetually open, buildings are lined with porches replete with white-washed rocking chairs, every third room is an open food-and-wine-stocked kitchen, and people—including outsiders like Nate, my photographer, and myself, are allowed to explore as we please.

More than a dollar $ign

(03/02/12 5:00am)

‘Tis the season of i-banking and consulting internship interviews! Much discussion has concerned the later-life usefulness of STEM majors as opposed to the alleged futility of liberal arts majors. “Practicality” seems to be the word on everyone’s minds, as we consider the future usefulness of our studies.