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If you’re like me, you’ll agree there’s nothing so dispiriting as finding yourself in the lavishly appointed dining room of a luxury resort, flute of Prosecco in hand, about to embark on a nine-course tasting menu—when, from somewhere up on the ceiling, in wafts the opening verse of “Lady in Red.” Maybe I’m oversensitive, but it felt like a dentist’s drill aimed squarely at my skull. I loathed Chris de Burgh’s 1986 original; going cheek-to-cheek with this florid instrumental version was infinitely worse. From that point on the meal became an afterthought, while the god-awful sound track consumed all my attention. An orchestral arrangement of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” came and gave without mercy. Mantovani’s rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” only made me wish I were. They say music has the perceived effect of slowing down time. In this case it made time grind to an agonizing halt. –“Bad Music in Public Spaces,” Peter Jon Lindberg, Travel and Leisure
Our age is dominated by Saturn, and it is time to rediscover Jupiter. It is safe to say that few if any of the millions who have read C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia would have summarized their message in those terms, taken from medieval planetary lore. Michael Ward, who with Planet Narnia has established himself not only as the foremost living Lewis scholar, but also as a brilliant writer in his own right, well knows that in advancing such an argument he risks being lumped with Dan Brown and other so-called discoverers of hidden codes. But his cumulative case for reading the Narnia books in terms of the planets… is overwhelming…. Ward proposes, instead, that the books reflect and embody the thematic characteristics accorded in the medieval world-view to the seven planets, ie including the Sun and the Moon but excluding Uranus, Neptune and the now demoted Pluto. Thus The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe embodies Jupiter, Lewis’s favourite planet… This explains, and gives coherence to, the otherwise puzzling jumble of themes and characters (including Father Christmas) that Lewis’s friend J. R. R. Tolkien so disliked. Prince Caspian, with its military theme and imagery, embodies Mars. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, journeying towards an ever- larger Sun and discovering its aurifying influence, Ward regards as the “most obvious” novel to interpret under his scheme. Luna is seen to fine effect in The Silver Chair, and perhaps with more subtlety than Ward has yet explored; so too Mercury in The Horse and his Boy; Venus, initially surprisingly but with increasing conviction, in The Magician’s Nephew; and, climactically, Saturn, the planet of old age, despair and death, in The Last Battle. –“Welcome to the real Narnia: The hidden medieval message at the heart of C.S. Lewis’s classic Chronicles,” Tom Wright, Times Literary Supplement
Harsh reaction to Superfreakonomics does not portend the death of pseudo-contrarian journalistic techniques;
Malcolm Gladwell and his imitators can rest easy;
Gerald Marzorati offers a somewhat weak defense of the “new, new, new journalism”;
and Salman Rushdie (“I wish Padma nothing but the best”) shows why smart writers might not be dumb, but they certainly can be stupid;
an analysis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns
In the game’s scenario, 20 million armed American “patriots” begin seizing local and federal government offices. These are the same people whose earlier Tea Party protests had been ignored and dismissed by the mainstream media. Now, they post bounties for government employees. There’s fighting in every state. Meanwhile, Lou Dobbs has been disappeared, and Glenn Beck has been found dead of an “aspirin overdose.” Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly have been rounded up, and Fox News forcibly shut down. The US military refuses to come to Obama’s rescue. His loyalist forces of 40,000 end up controlling merely three counties in Virginia, while an allied force is in charge of three counties near Washington, DC. The Federal Reserve also controls two of its own counties, as does the Cong (the remnants of the Democratic Congress). A collection of pro-Obama black nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists have a hold on two counties. What can you do as a player? You can join the patriots trying to capture Obama and defeat the Cong. –“The Obama Coup,” David Corn, Mother Jones
Trudy Lieberman reports on the failed promise of the Affordable Care Act, Sarah A. Topol explores Ukraine’s struggle for a national identity, Dave Madden spends a week in Hollywood’s toughest comedy club, and more
Percentage of Japanese and Italian men, respectively, who rate their kisses a 9 or a 10:
Babies prefer to look at attractive people.
A bag of headless goats was found on Long Island.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”