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  • Posted 9/16/14 at 4:45 PM
  • Books

See Neil Patrick Harris’s Very Charming Book Trailer

Since he already wrote the book, Neil Patrick Harris used the trailer for his forthcoming memoir Choose Your Own Autobiography to show off some of his many other talents. As you might expect, NPH is a pretty great magician, and a very bad competitive binge drinker. This is delightful.

  • Posted 9/16/14 at 3:20 PM
  • Movies

Cara Delevingne Will Star in the Latest John Green Adaptation

In a casting move that has author John Green "so excited!" Cara Delevingne and her eyebrows have signed on for the upcoming screen adaptation of Green's Paper Towns. The model will star as Margo, a mysterious young woman who enthralls a nerdy teen played by The Fault in Our Stars' Nat Wolff. This is only the latest installment of Cara Delevingne Conquers Hollywood: She's also appearing in Michael Winterbottom's Amanda Knox–ish film as well as a Peter Pan reboot, and recently broke into directing with a short film of Reese Witherspoon in an elevator.

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.

It's no secret that James Brown had a dark side. This summer's biopic Get On Up left out many of the weird, uncomfortable, and simply violent incidents that Brown instituted or participated in. But it wasn't until now that we've been able to get a look at just how frightening the singer could be. Earlier this month, his daughter Yamma Brown published a memoir titled Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me (co-written with Robin Gaby Fisher) that details her life growing up with her often volatile dad. In the excerpt below, Yamma flashes back to a moment when Brown beat her mother in front of her and her sister, then writes about how that violent legacy stayed with her into adulthood.

"The beatings always began the same way, with the same terrible sounds." »

The Death of Adulthood and the Rise of Pleasure, or Why Seth Rogen Is More Serious Than Woody Allen

Adulthood is dead, which is great news to get right before the weekend because it means you can cancel your errands and tedious chores and go on a bender, or perhaps just stay home and reread Harry Potter. In a long and thoughtful (and, more specifically, thought-packed) essay in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine — provocatively titled “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture” — A.O. Scott lassos everyone from Beyoncé to Louis C.K. to Don Draper to Broad City to Huck Finn to Lena Dunham to Madonna and hogties them together as an argument that adulthood, culturally speaking, is down for the count.

It all adds up to a satisfying diagnosis of the current cultural moment. »

9 Books to Read If You Miss Your Favorite TV Comedy

The fall TV season may be upon us, but many of our go-to shows for laughs won’t be returning until 2015, or ever. Don’t despair, fans of Broad City, Parks and Recreation, Archer, the dearly departed Enlisted, and other comedies — Vulture has your back. These humorous books should help with your grief over canceled sitcoms or tide you over until your favorite funny characters return.

Recommendations for fans of Parks and Recreation, Broad City, Silicon Valley, and more. »

Joshua Ferris on the Man Booker Shortlist and ‘Bad Fart’ Reviews

Last year, the Man Booker Prize — the most prestigious book award in Britain and probably the world — announced it would, for the first time, consider any book written in English and published in the U.K. On Tuesday, its judges made good on their threat; on their final “short list” of six books are two Americans: Karen Jay Fowler (for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves) and Joshua Ferris. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Ferris’s third novel, is the often hilarious, often depressing existential howl of a New York dentist embroiled in a pseudo-ancient religion. We called Ferris up yesterday to talk about his new accolade.

I’m now something that’s wagered on, which is usually the domain of horses and dogs. But I think it’s totally cool. »

13 Utterly Absurd Panels From the 1940s Captain Marvel Comics

It’s official: DC and Warner Bros. are developing a Shazam movie, and given that it’s DC, it could very well end up being full of explosions, collateral damage, and costumes that look like somebody turned the brightness way down in Photoshop. But nobody wants that. Instead, DC should look for inspiration in Shazam's early adventures in the 1940s (the so-called Golden Age of Comics), when he dressed in bright red and yellow, his comics outsold Superman's, and he fought giant yeast monsters, a super-intelligent worm who kept trying to take over the world, and troubling lengths of string.

Wait, what?

This is the strange joy of Golden Age comics, and Shazam — or Captain Marvel, as he was known until 2012 — is the best of the early superheroes. He is the alter-ego of a 10-year-old orphan newscaster called Billy Batson, who shouts the word "SHAZAM" whenever he wants to transform. His best friend is a neurotic tiger. Here are some of the weirdest, greatest, most ridiculous moments from Captain Marvel Adventures.

  • Posted 9/11/14 at 8:00 AM
  • Books

Catching Up With Kids’-Book Legend Judith Viorst

My editor told me I could go down to Washington on the train and go meet Judy, and I bought a ticket and went, and I got to talk to her and her husband and we had lunch and they were really nice. I thought I might meet her son Alexander or her other son Anthony or her other son Nick, but they were grown up and had to go to work. The train home was slow and the man at the snack bar was weird and mean to the lady next to me. He was nice to me, though. I got a Snickers bar.

There aren’t many protagonists in children’s literature like Judith Viorst’s 6-year-old Alexander. He’s been having a recurringly terrible, reliably horrible, no good, very bad day since 1972, when he slammed into the children’s-book universe with a whiny yawp. Alexander is the rare junior protagonist who reads like an actual bright kid, cranky and charming by turns. He talks realistically, too, in run-on sentences that jump from enthusiasm to bleaggh and right back, and he’s not shy about saying when his parents are annoying, or his brother is being rotten to him, or he’s bored-bored-bored! There are no talking frogs or anthropomorphic mice in these books, and more than 7 million copies of them have been sold. In terms of canonical stature, Alexander has taken his place alongside Eric Carle’s ravenous caterpillar and Mo Willems’s wisecracking pigeon, and maybe even Maurice Sendak’s Max and Dr. Seuss’s nameless behatted cat.

“I do feel like a wholly owned subsidiary of Simon & Schuster at this point.” »

See James Dean, Robert De Niro, and More in These Vintage Hollywood Contact Sheets

The basic appeal of the photographs in Karina Longworth’s new Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951–1997 (Princeton Architectural Press) is easy to grasp. Any peek behind (as Joni Mitchell put it) the star-maker machinery is fun, doubly so when it’s a glimpse at a long-gone movie icon like Audrey Hepburn or James Dean. Immaculate costume and pose mix nicely with the visual clutter of a film set, and who doesn’t like seeing that?

Contact sheets, though, add another layer of interest. Not only do we see the movie being made; we see the photographer at work, too. If he or she’s been shooting fast, the repetitions almost constitute a stop-motion echo of the movie itself—kind of a rough draft, or even a proto-GIF. You can see, and almost hear, the ratchet-click of the hand and eye at work, shooting and winding, shooting and winding, as the lens roves the set—and gradually noses in on the one frame that captures it all. (This even before the photographer has marked up the sheet in grease pencil, flagging the best frames and excising the clunkers.) It’s a lesson to anyone who does anything creative: Even when you have the most beautiful subject in the world, it takes a whole bunch of tries to get anything right.

  • Posted 9/9/14 at 11:30 AM
  • Books

Fewer Parties, More Teamwork: How Saturday Night Live Has Changed in the Last 10 Years

In 2002, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales released Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. For fans of the show both devoted and casual, the oral history was an incredible read — full of great stories from the show's raucous early years and beyond. Miller has updated the book, a new version of which comes out today, with interviews from more recent cast members. Vulture's Jesse David Fox spoke with Miller about how times have changed on the show since the first book came out and whether or not SNL could survive if Lorne Michaels ever left.

"Tina Fey was talking about how everybody was worried about meeting their trainer on time." »

How Kristen Wiig’s Emotional Saturday Night Live Farewell Happened

In 2002, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales released Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. For fans of the show both devoted and casual, the oral history was an incredible read — full of great stories from the show's raucous early years and beyond. Miller has updated the book, a new version of which comes out on September 9, with interviews from more recent cast members. In this excerpt, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Lorne Michaels discuss Wiig's emotional, Rolling Stones–soundtracked farewell.

To lose Wiig was to lose an entire chorus of recurring characters, a major blow. »

  • Posted 9/5/14 at 9:00 AM
  • Books

Buy Tickets for George R.R. Martin's October Event at 92Y and Get a Signed Copy of His Latest Book

By George! It might not be the book we've oh-so-impatiently waited for, but George R.R. Martin has a peace offering for us on the way — and New Yorkers have a chance to get it first. The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (co-written with Westeros.org webmasters Elio García and Linda Antonsson) is Martin's compendium to the Seven Kingdoms, chronicling all the events predating our introduction to his world of dragons, direwolves, and incestuous dynasties — so we can finally understand all those references to the First Men, Robert's Rebellion, the Mad King, and any of the other historical precedents that bear upon our favorite Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens. And just so Martin can get back to writing like the wind, he's only making one U.S. stop to promote it — at the 92Y on October 26, two days before it's available to purchase. Bonus: Anyone who buys a ticket to the event, which go on sale today, gets a signed copy. Our only question is, can we also get booked passage to Braavos with that?

8 Books You Need to Read This September

Each month, Boris Kachka will offer nonfiction and fiction book recommendations, and you should read as many of them as possible.

Elena Ferrante, Ben Lerner, and yes, David Mitchell. »

  • Posted 9/2/14 at 1:02 AM
  • Books

Haruki Murakami Is Releasing a New Book

Famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood,The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84) will come out with a new book in December: a slender, 96-page work called The Strange Library. The book was originally published in Japanese back in 2008, but the English-language version will feature original, specially-designed text and illustrations.  The book tells the story of a young boy taken hostage in a library by an old man, who forces him to memorize a number of books with the intention of eating his brain to absorb the information. The boy then plots his escape with the help of a girl and a doughnut-making man dressed as a sheep. In a press release, Knopf chairman and EIC Sonny Mehta called the book "as scary and surprising as anything he has ever written."

Lost Chapter of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Released

Roald Dahl originally had 15 children getting the golden ticket to tour Willy Wonka's super-secret chocolate factory before settling on the now familiar five in his children's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This means that, in earlier drafts, there were a lot more rooms and a lot more temptation: As you'll remember, each room was a test of a child's self-control, and each time, some hapless child would succumb to their candy-obsessed (or squirrel-obsessed) selves and get lost. In this previously unseen chapter published by the Guardian, the factory tour, now down to eight kids, makes a stop at the Vanilla Fudge Room. The Guardian says the text was "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children almost 50 years ago."

It's a fudge mountain! »

Bruce Springsteen Is Writing a Children’s Book

Entertainment Weekly reports that Bruce Springsteen is writing a kids' book called Outlaw Pete, based on his 2009 song of the same name. The book, about a bank-robbing baby, will consist of Bruce's lyrics paired with illustrator Frank Caruso's drawings. And Bruce isn't the only boomer icon branching out into kiddie lit as of late — Keith Richards announced he is penning a book called Gus & Me back in March. Dad rock: Now also for kids!

Ben Lerner on 10:04, His Second Hall-of-Mirrors Semi-Memoir

The poet Ben Lerner’s first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, about a neurotically selfish American poet in Spain, was one of 2011’s smartest sideways social critiques — and perhaps its unlikeliest critical hit (James Wood called it “subtle, sinuous, and very funny”). The more mature (and still neurotic) protagonist of his new novel, 10:04 (out September 2), is a Brooklyn author considering fatherhood and his own mortality. Lerner describes this episodic meditation on the New York life — within the book itself — as “neither fiction nor nonfiction, but a flickering between them.”

"Your life invariably becomes material for your art." »

57 Books to Read This Fall

Hopefully, you've had a few minutes to play around with our Fall Entertainment Generator. But if you're looking for straight and simple lists of things to look out for by medium, we'll be breaking them out separately. Here's a look at this season's books.

What one of ­OKCupid’s founders learned from all that dating data. »

  • Posted 8/27/14 at 12:03 AM
  • Books

New York Times Reporter Penning Robin Williams Biography

New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff is working on a biography of Robin Williams, Entertainment Weekly reported today. Itzkoff has written about Williams in the Grey Lady a number of times over the years, including this 2009 profile, which caught up with Williams shortly after he had heart surgery. “Robin Williams was a cultural hero of mine, and in the encounters and interactions I was able to share with him, he was always gentle and generous, humane and thoughtful and hilarious,” said Itzkoff in a press release today. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell his story.”

Boundaries Are Conventions. And The Bone Clocks Author David Mitchell Transcends Them All.

It is a beautiful summer afternoon in Ireland, and David Mitchell and I are walking up the High Road above the River Bandon, in the town of Kinsale, talking about supercontinents. One of the pleasures of hanging out with Mitchell is that he is, by self-identification, many kinds of nerd—a Star Trek nerd, a Doctor Who nerd, a map nerd, a taxonomy nerd, a tea nerd, a word nerd, and, for good measure, what you might call a nerd nerd: an enthusiast of nerdery of all kinds. At one point in our conversation, he speaks admiringly of sheep nerds.

“All boundaries are conventions, even national ones.” »

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