Jennie Yabroff

Stories by Jennie Yabroff

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    Carell's Out. The New 'Office' Boss Should Be ...

    Steve Carell confirmed reports this week that next season of The Office will be his last as Michael Scott, the bumbling, approval-hungry boss of the Dunder Mifflin paper company.
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    The server at Otarian, the new vegetarian fast-food chain that bills itself as “the planet’s low-carbon restaurant,” was trying to persuade a customer to try the “Choc O Treat.” “It’s sooo good, it’s chocolatey, and it comes in this pretty lavender paper!” he enthused. The Choc O Treat is not “sooo good”—it’s sooo dense, without being terribly chocolatey. But the point of Otarian isn’t really the food. It’s the wrapping.
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    Movie Review: ‘Cyrus’

    In “Cyrus,” Jonah Hill is a grown son who can’t let go of Mom’s apron strings, especially when she finds a new guy to date (John C. Reilly). The effect is creepy—and also hilarious.
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    Kathryn Bigelow on Making 'The Hurt Locker'

    Just before dawn one morning in July 2008, Kathryn Bigelow was setting up a shot for The Hurt Locker in the Jordanian desert. The movie, which won this year’s Oscar for best picture and earned Bigelow the best-director award, follows an explosive-ordnance-disposal bomb technician who dismantles roadside IEDs in Iraq.
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    Jennifer Egan Likes This

    Egan's latest novel, "A Visit From the Goon Squad," borrows Facebook's tropes to upend traditional narrative structures. The result? Kind of like a news feed.
  • Jesse Eisenberg vs. Michael Cera: Who's Winning?

    Last year, in the months following the release of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, starring Michael Cera, and Adventureland, starring Jesse Eisenberg, movie blogs were abuzz with posts about the seeming interchangeableness of the two actors. For most of their careers, they’ve played young, lanky, sensitive types who serve as the moral center of movies where the adults (and other teens) behave in decidedly amoral ways. With the mainstream appeal of Juno, Superbad, and the (canceled) TV series Arrested Development, it seemed Cera was pulling ahead in the popularity contest. But now, with two films opening May 24 (Solitary Man and Holy Rollers) Eisenberg is making a strong move for first place. Which, no offense to Cera, is where he belongs.
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    The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves

    With magazines, TV shows, blogs, and an apparently endless stream of books instructing us how to lead more “authentic” lives, it’s high time someone asked what authenticity means. And, more importantly, what’s so great about it anyway? Andrew Potter argues that the search for authenticity is really a reaction against modernity that has been going on since the Industrial Revolution a century ago.
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    Book review: A Martin Amis Retread

    In Martin Amis’s first novel, The Rachel Papers, 19-year-old Charles has girlfriend troubles, family troubles, money troubles, and body troubles (he’s short, skinny, and morbidly obsessed with his teeth). In the 37 years since Charles’s debut, Amis has written journalism, criticism, and a dozen novels. He is one of Britain’s best-known writers, a common figure in both the tabloids and the op-ed pages. He’s been married twice, become a grandfather, and buried his own father, the novelist Kingsley Amis. It would seem unavoidable that life has changed his perspective—his 2000 memoir was called Experience. Yet his latest novel, The Pregnant Widow, opens with a 20-year-old named Keith worrying about his girlfriend, his family, his lack of money, his short stature, and his bad teeth.
  • Book Review: Solar: A Novel Without an Ending

    A scientist returns from a trip to find a colleague in his house and wearing his dressing gown. The colleague confesses his affair with the scientist's wife, and, begging for mercy, trips on a rug, hits his head, and dies. The scientist does not phone the police. Instead, thanks to some conveniently incriminating evidence he happens to have, he frames another man for murder. "What he was about to do could not be undone. He would be putting his innocence behind him. He dipped the head of the hammer in the puddle of blood, smeared the handle, and set it aside to dry." And I, assuming that the rest of the story would act as a slowly tightening noose around the scientist's neck, closed the book.Eventually I picked it up again, and I'm glad I did, because the rest of Ian McEwan's novel Solarturned out to be not at all what I expected. Do I need to insert a spoiler alert if I'm about to tell you that nothing happens? (If so, stop reading now.) The scientist, Michael Beard, goes on with...
  • Why Mona Lisa Makes You Moan

    We had spent the day at the Vatican, eavesdropping as tour guides explained how Michelangelo fudged the proportions on the Pietà , and were heading out for dinner when I started feeling sick. Had we been anywhere else, I would have chalked it up to too much pizza for lunch. But I was in Italy, and I'd been looking at art. Clearly I had Stendhal syndrome.Stendhal syndrome isn't included in the draft version of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, released last month, but with proposed additions including "apathy syndrome" and Internet addiction, it's probably only a matter of time. The affliction takes its name from the 19th-century French writer, who was overcome after visiting Florence's Basilica di Santa Croce. In 1989 an Italian psychiatrist named Graziella Magherini published La Sindrome di Stendhal, describing more than 100 tourists who suffered dizziness and heart palpitations (some requiring hospitalization) after seeing the Florentine sights....
  • Hollywood Goes to Sweden

    The Swedish film let the right One In is set during a Nordic winter so bleak that just watching it practically makes your nose run. The two main characters—a lonely, ostracized boy and the creepy, bedraggled girl who befriends him—are as somber and mournful as the chilly, austere landscape. The movie was a critical hit in America and is currently being remade here, retitled Let Me In. Set in sunny New Mexico. Starring two appealingly pink-cheeked, glossy-haired tween actors. The film hasn't been released, but howls of protest are already ricocheting around cyberspace, where the consensus is that remakes inevitably suck. As one commenter cracked, "Who is going to do the voice of the lovable, wisecracking, skateboarding dog?"The assumption that Hollywood will take all that quiet, moody atmosphere and stomp the life out of it with Godzilla-like clumsiness is understandable: when it comes to remakes, American studios don't have the best track record. And Scandinavian films seem...
  • The Unnamed: Joshua Ferris's New Novel

    Joshua Ferris's first novel, Then We Came to the End, a comic look at work culture during economic upheaval, was a bestselling National Book Award finalist that propelled Ferris into Next Great American Novelist territory. So when you hear that his new novel, The Unnamed, is about a man named Tim who is periodically overcome by a compulsion to walk without stopping until he collapses from exhaustion, you'll probably say, "Yes, but what is it about?" The affliction must be a metaphor for something larger. Addiction, maybe. Looming environmental catastrophe. The search for God. After all, a smart and agile writer like Ferris has to be smuggling a Big Idea under his seemingly straightforward premise. But what if the book is about nothing more than a man who takes really long walks?When we talk about the difference between "high" and "pop" culture, we often mean that one requires the work of interpretation, while the other is a ready source of easy pleasure. Certain writers, artists,...
  • Vegetarians Who Eat Meat

    The latest cookbook by Mollie Katzen, author of vegetarian bibles The Moosewood Cookbookand The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, includes recipes for spinach lasagna and vegetable tofu stir fry with orange ginger glaze. It also includes a recipe for beef stew. No, not "beef" stew, in which some soy-based protein substitute is dressed and spiced to look (and sort of taste) like meat. Beef stew. With real beef. From a cow.Considered one of the chefs most responsible for the mainstreaming of vegetarianism in the 1970s and '80s, and a vegetarian herself for 30 years, Katzen began eating meat again a few years ago. "Somehow it got ascribed to me that I don't want people to eat meat," Katzen said. "I've just wanted to supply possibilities that were low on the food chain."For as long as people have been foreswearing meat, they've also been sneaking the occasional corn dog. The difference is, vegetarians used to feel guilty about their sins of the flesh-consumption. Now, thanks to the cachet...
  • The Problem With the Follow-up Memoir

    Elizabeth Gilbert is the embodiment of the phrase "new BFF." She gives you a hug the first time she meets you. She has a warm smile, booming laugh, and sparkly eyes that telegraph candor and empathy. Her effortlessly approachable persona, translated to the page, propelled her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, into what she describes as a "megajumbo international bestseller." Hollywood and Oprah came calling; readers embarked on Eat, Pray, Love  pilgrimages to places mentioned in the book. In more than 30 languages, Gilbert made herself a whole lot of new Best Friends Forever.With the publication of Committed, those friendships are about to be tested. In some ways, her new book comes from a similar place as Eat, Pray, Love. In both, Gilbert travels around the world, first to come to terms with a devastating divorce, next to come to terms with the prospect of marrying again. But in a larger sense, everything is different. Eat, Pray, Love  was written by a fairly anonymous everywoman...
  • How Food Blogs Led to the Demise of 'Gourmet'

    I never subscribed to Gourmet, which went out of business this week, but over the years I’ve subscribed to Bon Appetit (Conde Nast’s other food title), Food and Wine, Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, the short-lived print version of Chow, and Cook’s Illustrated, and those are just the ones I remember. As far as I can recall, I never made a single recipe from any of them. I imagine some of Gourmet’s subscribers never prepared any of the magazine’s recipes, either, but instead, consumed the magazine itself, the way I consume food magazines—on the sofa, with a glass of wine, the evening it arrives, before shuffling into the kitchen to sauté a chicken breast and steam some broccoli, or boil some dried pasta and open a jar of sauce. Gourmet, like all food magazines, was more about the way we think about food than about the way we actually prepare and eat it—after all, you’ll never learn as much about cooking by reading a magazine as you will by actually getting in the kitchen and bangi...
  • Juliet, Naked: Nick Hornby's Neurotic Lists

    In a very funny scene in Nick Hornby's new novel, Juliet, Naked, Annie makes a list of novels for a man she's met online. The two have been e-mailing about music, art, and books, having conversations that are part showing off, part giddy excitement over finding someone who feels the same way you do about art and culture. After agonizing over her choices, Annie suffers a fit of nerves. One book seems too obvious, another possibly insensitive, a third might suggest she's a lesbian, "when in fact the whole idea was that she was trying to indicate the opposite." Minutes before their first meeting, she stuffs the stack of novels in the trash.Hornby, who's been literature's unofficial expert on neurotic list making since 1995's High Fidelity, wrote the scene for laughs, but he also believes that Annie's anxieties are the crux of the novel, his sixth. "That scene contains the most rewritten paragraphs in the whole book," he says. "It shows what kind of person she is, how much she's trying...
  • In 'Disgrace,' Animal Violence Makes Us Feel Disgraceful

    When, in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov dreams of throwing his arms around a horse that has been beaten to death by its master, his reaction to the violence indicates his morality. One hundred fifty years later, there is still no more effective yardstick of a character’s humanity than his or her treatment of animals. When one character kills another human being, the possibility of his redemption is debatable. But if a character kills an animal, all bets are off. We know Glenn Close is a little wacko even before she boils Michael Douglas’s daughter’s bunny in Fatal Attraction, but once the rabbit hits the pot, justice demands Close not live to see the final credits. In the film Disgrace, based on the book by J. M. Coetzee, violence against animals plays a more complicated role. Lucy, who is white, lives alone on a farm in South Africa, and while her father, David, is visiting, three young black men rob the farm. They rape Lucy and set David on fire while, outside, Lucy’s dogs ...
  • Five Secrets to the Perfect Cupcake

     Cupcakes inspire a surprising amount of animosity for what would seem an innocuous dessert item. Ask most anti-cupcakists about the bases of their objections, and you’ll hear the same thing: cupcakes are dry, flavorless sugar bombs. But according to Pam Nelson, owner of Butter Lane Bakery in Manhattan, there’s no reason a cupcake can’t be moist, delicious, and not-too-sweet. “Our mantra in developing our recipes was less sugar, more flavor,” she says. A few secrets to perfect cupcakes:...
  • How 'American Idol' Influenced the 'Fame' Remake

    The opening scene of the 1980 movie Fame begins with an aspiring actor delivering a confessional monologue. A gangly, pale kid with pouffy red hair who is struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality and obsessed with his mother, he admits that he always worries people won't like him when he goes to a party.  The fear doesn't seem entirely unfounded. As an actor, he's quite promising. As a person, he's a bit of a mess.By contrast, none of the characters in the new Fame has probably ever experienced pre-party jitters. The students at New York City’s High School of Performing Arts may resemble the characters in the original film in that some come from difficult backgrounds or suffer setbacks in their quest for success, but that's where the similarities end. Unlike the lonely, angst-ridden wannabe singers and dancers of the 1980 film, this new bunch of aspiring stars is made of wholesome, polite, well-adjusted kids who seem just as capable of selling T...
  • Cupcake Obsession: In Search of Eternal Childhood

    At the Johnny Cupcakes stores in Los Angeles, Boston, and Hull, Mass., you can buy cupcake-emblazoned T shirts. You can buy MAKE CUPCAKES NOT WAR stickers. You can buy skull-and-crossbones-style earrings, with cupcakes instead of skulls. What you can't buy are cupcakes. Johnny Cupcakes is selling the idea of cupcakes—cupcakes as hip postmodern signifier. You might say it's selling cupcakism.To be a cupcakist is to put your faith in the church of cute and sweet, to believe that childhood is a magical land accessible via a palm-size serving of sugar and fat (and the occasional sprinkle). Blogs like Cupcakes Take the Cake and Everything Cupcakes feature cupcake art, such as a group of the cakes smooshed together and iced to resemble Van Gogh's Starry Night. The suggestion is clear: anything worth doing can be done with cupcakes."The taste of a cupcake is worth more than diamonds," says the musician Pharrell Williams, who included a diamond-encrusted sculpture of a cupcake in a...
  • The Fat Man's Guide to Food Criticism

    Frank Bruni loves the menu at New York's Standard Grill, where we've met to discuss his new memoir, Born Round. He's lukewarm about the food, but the menu gets four stars. "I love the paper stock," he says, rubbing the heavy ecru sheet between his fingers. "It feels like it could have been Elle Woods's résumé in Legally Blonde. If I ever have to send out résumés, I'm going to do it on this paper stock."Bruni's not on the market for a new job, but it makes sense that he's thinking in terms of career change. After five years as the restaurant critic at The New York Times, he's just left the Dining section to promote Born Round, a chronicle of his lifelong struggle with food and his weight, which at one point approached 300 pounds—and that was before he became a food critic.When we meet outside the restaurant, a Mediterranean brasserie in New York's meatpacking district, Bruni doesn't look like a guy who, in his reporter days, used to devour several pieces of precooked chicken in the...
  • Jennie Yabroff: Erin Andrews's Peephole Pictures Are Privacy Porn

    Apparently, no one in this country knows what a naked woman looks like. At least, that’s what media outlets including CBS, the New York Post, and Fox News seem to think. In reporting the story of Erin Andrews, the ESPN reporter who was surreptitiously taped au naturel in her hotel room, these outlets and others found it necessary to include stills from the tape making its way around the Internet. It probably seems incredibly naive to ask why (naked ladies increase ratings, duh), but the answer may be a little more complicated—and disturbing—than that....