Sarah Ball

Stories by Sarah Ball

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    Pop Culture's Worst Racial Stereotypes

    Charlie Chan might be getting a new lease on life as a popular character, but some storied depictions of minorities in pop culture haven't aged as well. Here are five of the most dated and stereotyped characters in movies, cartoons, and literature.
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    Tactical Engagement: Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston Make an Art of Tabloid War

    Like Thucydides, diligently recording the ups and downs of Athenian and Spartan conflict, modern scribes have worked their pens into a frenzy over the War of 2010: Bristol Palin vs. Levi Johnston. But within that bitter battle—now an all-out redneck fracas—is another conflict: the sparring between rivals Us Weekly and People.
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    Salinger Like You’ve Never Seen Him

    In April of 1968, the stamped date of the never-before-seen photograph held by documentary filmmaker Shane Salerno, J. D. Salinger would have been 49 years old. He was recently divorced, and three years into the seclusion that would span the last 45 years of his life. Salerno won't yet reveal any details about the mysterious picture.
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    The Sugar High of Cake-Themed TV

    From 'Cake Boss' to 'Ace of Cakes' to the new D.C. 'Cupcakes', airing Friday on TLC, our television cravings are running from cake, to cake, to more cake. Should we stick a fork in this trend—or embrace this spate of comfort-food TV?
  • Who Won the LeBron James Jingle Sweepstakes?

    LeBron James's hourlong ESPN prime-time special tomorrow night beckons his new city of choice—most likely Cleveland. But more poignantly, it means the end of all the cheesy LeBron-themed jingles.
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    Is ‘Twilight’ Looking to ‘Eclipse’ the Ladies?

    "Twilight" is leaving you in the lurch, ladies—at least, that’s what new research is claiming. Ahead of the release of "Eclipse," a new study suggests the third film is suppressing the book’s romantic fervor in favor of action-packed battle scenes and, in the process, devaluing its female fans. Why? As the study puts it, because Hollywood “doesn’t confer cultural legitimacy on texts until they are embraced by men, not just women.”
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    It’s Casual Friday, Every Day

    Increasingly lax office culture means we have not two wardrobes—work and play—but one. These days, are there any fashions not allowed at work?
  • Bradley Cooper Gets 'Karate'-Chopped. By an 11-Year-Old.

    Weekend winner? Jaden Smith! Weekend loser? Bradley Cooper. The stubbly, lanky star of "The A-Team" wasn't enough to carry the movie to a big opening; it bowed in second place with an estimated $26 million.
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    Movies: Italy Porn (for Ladies Only)

    Used to be, summers were for travel. Now they’re for travel movies—ones that assiduously indulge us right here, in the air conditioning, in a reclinable velour chair, with a 64-ounce beverage. And this summer, we’re going to Italy.
  • Rue McClanahan of 'Golden Girls' Dead at 76

    Rue McClanahan, the television actress best known for her roles on "Golden Girls" and "Maude," died early Thursday morning of a massive stroke. She was 76 years old.
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    'SATC2,' 'Prince of Persia' Bomb at the Box Office

    This past weekend was the most sluggish Memorial Day at the movies since 1995—a bad omen for summer business. The 'Sex and the City' sequel—ye of $153 million in 2008—wilted under the critics’ heat lamp. So did Disney’s 'Prince of Persia,' starring Jake Gyllenhaal and his pectorals. What gives?
  • Video: Surveillance Shows Suspect; Taliban Vid Shows Mehsud Alive

    A potential suspect in the May 1 attempted Times Square car bombing is tall, thin, white, and in his 40s, police say, after analyzing tape captured from NYPD surveillance cameras. The man removes a dark shirt about half a block from the Nissan, which was left running, and stuffs the shirt into his bag while glancing over his shoulder multiple times. In response, two videos from the Taliban's sect in Pakistan were posted online: the first claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, and the second featured the country's Taliban leader, long thought to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike.  Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud appears healthy in the video footage, which looks to have been filmed in early April. Per The Washington Post's Foreign Service, "That development was hailed as a huge blow to a militant organization that has carried out a steady campaign of attacks inside Pakistan over two years, and whose previous leader was killed by a U.S. drone last summe...
  • Obama's Financial-Reform Speech to Be Lean, Mean

    Obama's coming north, and he's carrying a big stick: the president is expected to deliver a stern reprimand to the banking sector in his speech in New York Thursday, in the process excoriating some of his biggest financial backers, The Washington Post reports. Executives and employees from Goldman Sachs, the firm that will bear the brunt of Obama's finger-wagging, contributed nearly $1 million to his campaign in 2008. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told Bloomberg the president's speech will focus on pushing the financial-reform bill, which he advocates as the antidote to Wall Street's "failure of responsibility." "I believe in the power of the free market. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it," Obama will say, per excerpts released by the White House. His pitch: either Wall Street institutes and adheres to tough rules, or it risks dragging the country into a second...
  • Quote of the Day: Michael Steele

    "I work every day in this job, as I like to put it, to turn the elephant. Now, I don't know if you ever had to turn an elephant, but the end you have to start with is not necessarily the best place to start."—RNC Chairman Michael Steele, describing his attempts to make amends between the Republican Party and the black community.
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    A Ticket to the Circus

    The high times of Norman Mailer, as seen from the perspective of Norris Church Mailer, his much younger, good-humored sixth wife. She takes you ringside for 33 tumultuous years with one of 20th-century literature’s biggest icons.
  • To Nancy Drew on Her 80th Birthday: You're a Nintendo Game?!

    Nancy friggin' Drew—happy birthday, baby! Our favorite slim sleuth of River Heights turns 80 this year, not that she looks her age. Botox, Pilates, intravenous chardonnay therapy—to whatever she's doing to look so fab, we say cheers. In her latest incarnation, Drew sports a trendy motorcycle jacket over a sporty striped shirt and uses some slick Ashleigh Banfield glasses to help scan for crime-scene clues. And she's kicking it these days with a new gig, as the title character in a THQ Nintendo DS game out this month: "Nancy Drew: The Model Mysteries."Of her celebratory, birthday reimagining, we should start by saying that this isn't the first videogame version of Drew's sleuthing (it's just the latest), nor is a makeover for the teen a new fad. Quirky, multiplatform reboots are all the rage for young-adult lit serials: witness the revived Goosebumps novels (now a new series and online "theme park"); the Hardy Boys spinoffs; or this...
  • Tweeple Trail: Tiger Woods Had Better Win the Masters, Or Else

    Last week, Tiger's sexts were the talk of Twitter—from the golfer's predictably nasty ones to our favorite, "No turkey unless it's a club sandwich."  But now, with Woods confirmed to appear at Augusta in fewer than two weeks, Tweeps are forecasting what his sordid text-trail will mean on the course. Can he withstand the embarrassment to pull off one of the "most shocking comebacks in sports history," like Rick Reilly says he'd better? Can he shore up against more media attention than he's ever received in his over-scrutinized life (for the first time in recent memory, People is accredited to cover the Masters )?  After a five-month layoff, Woods is the odds-on favorite according to Golf Digest, but Golf.com's Jim Suttie thinks it'd be a coup if Woods made the top ten. "[He] just won't be tuned into the competitive mindset that a Tour player needs to win," he writes.  Punditry: what think ye?  @JimmyTraina: If he...
  • Wait, What? Obama Still Smokes?!

    The First Physical came and went Sunday, handing down a clean bill of health for President Obama—but we've been loving the feverish reaction to doc Jeff Kuhlman's note about "smoking cessation efforts." The New York Daily News wonders how much the president is still smoking, while CBS calls him "Smoker In Chief"; The Christian Science Monitor helpfully suggests to the president that instead of Nicorette he try "not inserting a cigarette into [his] mouth." Politico went with reporterly deadpan: "The president is chewing nicotine gum, according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs." But Huff Po's Andy Borowitz wins the Headline Award: OBAMA TO GOP: I WILL QUIT SMOKING IF YOU WILL QUIT BEING DICKS.
  • Book Review: Jane Austen's Zombie Mashups

    Textually speaking, it's tolerable menfolk Lizzy finds in short supply—not loyal girlfriends. Elizabeth Bennet, the pride of Pride and Prejudice, is steeped in enough estrogen to last a lifetime of Yoplait ads. Besides her meddling mother, gaggle of sisters, and loyal best friend, there's her 200-year-old fan club of female readers, rivals to Potter nuts and Trek fiends in fervor. So where is the sisterhood in her hour of need?...
  • Donald Margulies on His New Play

    ... disaster looks back at us. Donald Margulies talks about his new play on how war correspondents are affected by the conflicts they cover.
  • J.D. Salinger's Influence

    Salinger himself, as well as his most famous character, has influenced pop culture, crime—even modern linguistics.
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    Heidi Montag: Why Her Plastic Surgery Disturbs Us

    By the time she turned 21 in September 2007, MTV reality star Heidi Montag had already had a nose job, collagen lip injections, and implants that turned her A-cups into cantaloupe-round 32-Cs. There are many things wrong with this scenario, but here are the 11 things that disturbed us the most.

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