All posts filed under: Media

Revolutionary music

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Media

It’s become a kind of folksy, cheesey number over the years, but did you know that the Cat Stevens (AKA Yusuf) song “Father and Son” is actually about the Russian Revolution? I was a little bit amazed to hear in a recent episode of Song Exploder how the song had started its life as part of a musical about the overthrow of the Tsar in 1917. It’s intended to be a conversation between a young […]

Strange inspirations

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Media

Reading about the long-running British quiz show Mastermind, I discovered its austere and stressful setup was inspired by… the Nazis? The show began in 1972 and was the brainchild of the TV producer Bill Wright, a former RAF gunner, who drew on his wartime experiences of being interrogated by the Gestapo. 

Desolate, playing the piano, and wailing

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Media

Just the sheer joy of Big Boi explaining how much he loves Kate Bush. “I just always thought of her as like Phantom of the Opera, somewhere living in a big castle with this big piano that was ten times the size of a regular piano, just playing the piano all day with sheer curtains blowing in the window—she’s almost like Rapunzel but on the top of a hill somewhere, just in a castle, desolate, […]

Five things I thought about when reading that gigantic New Yorker piece on Covid-19

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Media

Beyond “this thing is long.” Even though things have been shit, we got really, really lucky.The story doesn’t just detail the many things that went wrong as the virus emerged and various countries struggled to deal with it—including China’s reticence to admit anything was wrong, the WHO’s complete miss, the CDC’s testing debacle, failed leadership from the White House and so on. What came through to me was how there have also been a set […]

I’ll never complain about somebody filing long again

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Link / Media

“At roughly 31,000 words, the article is as long as a novella, roughly five times the length of a typical major magazine article.” “Mr. Wright, a staff writer at The New Yorker for nearly three decades, initially turned in 76,000 words. “I have an appetite to go into depth,” he said in an interview. (He added, with a laugh: “I get paid by the word.”)” —From the New York Times’ short note about the Lawrence […]

Books I read in 2020

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Media

A lot of things were hard this year. We had it better than many, better than most. No serious illnesses here, mainly just sadness and loneliness and tedium stitched together with moments of dread and panic. But those are all things that you can cope with. In my head, they were circumstances you could adapt to, even if you didn’t like them. People are capable of a lot. But the change that probably surprised me […]

Period pieces

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Media

We’re all spending too much time at home watching TV at precisely the moment that the billions spent on original content in the streaming wars kicks in, and so every week there’s a new must-watch binge show that’s being hailed all around and dissected from all angles (The Crown), or a not-very-secret secret that appears out of nowhere (Ted Lasso). I’m not sure how many of them we’ll remember in a few weeks, let alone […]

You’re interviewing somebody, not dating them

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Media / Workbook

Interviewing people is hard. It’s not easy to talk to someone to try and understand who they are and what they’re about. In journalism, you’re trying to get interviewees to say interesting things too—things that hold up on the page, sound good to the reader, that get the subject to provide a kind of forensic self-examination. The result is that the best interviews are elevated to an art form. But interviewing is also a skill […]

Mo Willems on pandemic parenting

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Media

Marchese: When I was first putting together my questions for you, I realized that a lot of them had to do with things like how we can help kids with the ambient stress of parents’ worrying about the pandemic or politics. But maybe it’s wrong for me to assume that a successful children’s-book author has unique ideas about kids’ emotions. So let me ask you: Do you think you have special insights about kids? Willems: […]

This is preposterous

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Media

A review of Zeke Emanuel’s new book comparing health systems across the world has as good a description of the American maze as I’ve seen. Britain is so lucky to have the NHS; I find it literally impossible to explain to people here how the system doesn’t have to be this way. By contrast, the US health care system—if one can call it that—excludes more people, provides thinner coverage, and is far less affordable. It […]