Culture

Culture

More Articles

  • Ansen Review: Latest 'Harry Potter' Never Takes Off

    Decidedly older, definitely angrier, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) goes through his darkest days in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." He has good reason to be both paranoid and rebellious. Dementors attack him on his school break, he's threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts, and The Daily Prophet, the official organ of the Ministry of Magic, calls him a liar for claiming that the evil Lord Voldemort has reappeared on the scene. Even Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) seems to distance himself from Harry. Making matters far, far worse, the smiling, pink-clad fascist, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), Hogwarts's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, is transforming the school into a joyless, repressive prison for Harry and his friends.This description will be redundant to the millions of readers of the fifth installment of Harry's adventures—an 870-page epic that had to shed many pounds to squeeze into a two-and-a-quarter-hour movie. Those who have not read the book,...
  • Will: Sisyphus in the Senate

    Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, has not received the memo explaining that Congress can accomplish nothing in an election year or the year before one. He calls himself the Senate's designated driver, the one not running for president, so he has time to try legislating. He also is the Senate's Sisyphus, determined to roll the boulder of tax reform up Capitol Hill yet again.The fact that Wyden's proposal, the Fair Flat Tax Act, seems radical is a measure of how foolishness has become conventional. Today, as when tax reform was accomplished in 1986, the objectives are threefold—although Wyden stresses only two.One is simplification for its own sake. Americans spend an estimated 6.4 billion hours (more than the 6.3 million industrious people of Indiana work in a year) and more than $265 billion on compliance with a tax code that is six times longer than "War and Peace" (not counting 8 million words—20,000 pages—of regulations). And even with professional help, Americans cannot be...
  • Why Bush Gave Scooter Libby a Pass

    As is often the case in the Bush White House, it was a decision made swiftly, and with stealth. For weeks, allies of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby had aggressively lobbied the president to pardon Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby's powerful supporters—including major GOP fund-raisers like Florida developer Melvin Sembler, the chairman of his legal-defense trust—argued that Libby's conviction in March in the CIA leak case was a miscarriage of justice. Libby's allies pressed their argument with White House aides but got nowhere. George W. Bush's senior staff was under strict instructions: listen politely, but give away nothing about what the president might ultimately do.Behind the scenes, Bush was intensely focused on the matter, say two White House advisers who were briefed on the deliberations, but who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. Bush asked Fred Fielding, his discreet White House counsel, to collect information on the case. Fielding, anticipating...
  • My Turn: My Son's Tattoos and Me

    My 21-year-old son, Alec, has beautiful blue eyes, but the first thing people notice about him is his right arm. That's because waterfalls, big cats, Buddha and a host of Zen symbols cover the entire limb. No unmarked skin shows from his wrist to his shoulder.It started with the left wrist when he was 19—a tattoo of Tibetan Sanskrit wrapped around his lower, inner arm and finally peeking out just below his pinkie. By Christmas, three months later, his right shoulder was encircled with a large golden sun that hovers over a symphony of blues, reds and greens. Now Alec is known in our small New Jersey town as the guy with the tats.And I'm unhinged. While I pride myself on being a rocker, baby-boomer mom (open-minded and astute like no other mom before me), I'm confounded by the rash, youth-driven choice that Alec has made—not just once, but repeatedly—and the permanency of it all.At first, I cried. I yelled at him. I alternated between threats ("If you get one more tattoo, Dad and I...
  • Q&A With Rapper T.I.

    On the low, while the mainstream wasn't watching, 26-year-old Atlanta native “T.I.” (a.k.a. Clifford Harris) quietly and confidently stole the show from the more notable names in the rap game. His last album, “King,'' bowed only second to Jay Z's offering of “Kingdom Come” in sales and because of his steely good looks and no nonsense stance, Denzel Washington handpicked him to play a pivotal role in “American Gangster,'' the actor's next big film. But don't let Harris's innocent schoolboy profile fool you. In his latest album, “T.I. vs T.I.P.,'' the rapper boldly addresses what he considers to be the dual personalities that reside within him—and boy do they conflict. T.I. is the savvy businessman with major endorsements with car dealerships, a 2006 Grammy and two-picture deal with the film company New Line. On the other hand, “T.I.P.,” a nickname he acquired from his paternal great grandfather, is something of a hothead. At the ESPY awards pre-party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night...
  • Potter: OK to Spoil Ending?

    Todd Gitlin remembers a 1975 issue of The New Yorker as if it came out this week. Pauline Kael, the movie critic, reviewed Woody Allen's "Love and Death." But when Gitlin read the review he unexpectedly heard every funny joke. Now Gitlin avoids reviews, except the first paragraph, which he skims to see if the movie is good or not. "That experience actually changed my life," recalls Gitlin, who teaches ethics at the Columbia University School of Journalism.A lot has happened in the three decades since Gitlin had his epiphany, especially in the ways we get our news—the multiplicity of television stations and networks, the Internet and online news sites and bloggers. But the question hasn't changed: in an age where cultural happenings migrate from the arts section to the front page all the time, do journalists break the "news" about endings and plots if they know ahead of time? Put more bluntly, if we found out ahead of time how the final installment of "Harry Potter" turns out, should...
  • Smashing Pumpkins Not So Smashing

    Between Michael Bay’s impossibly awful "Transformers" movie, Thomas Harris’s "Hannibal Rising" and the inevitable debut of trans-fat free Chicken McNuggets, it seems lately that there’s no  shortage of opportunities to obliterate our positive associations with once-reliable brands. So credit Billy Corgan of the sorta-kinda reformed Smashing Pumpkins for picking an apt title for the band’s first new album in seven years: "Zeitgeist." Corgan’s new album accurately represents the term, which translates roughly from German into "the spirit of the time," by reanimating the band that brought him worldwide fame, only to tarnish its legacy with an album that renders itself unlikable by trying too hard to be liked.Corgan’s Achilles' heel has always been his need for approval. Following the band's ambitious, practically operatic major-label debut, "Siamese Dream," in 1993, he spent the next seven years taking the Smashing Pumpkins through the standard motions of muting their sonic palette as...
  • Music: Producer Joe Boyd Recalls the ‘60s

    Joe Boyd had one No. 1 single in his career as a record producer: Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis.” But if Boyd was never one to crank out a lot of chart toppers, he had something more valuable in the long run: a nearly infallible ear for talent. He was the first man to produce Pink Floyd and a pioneer in the field of world music. Musicians sought him out to produce their albums, as Boyd recalls in his new book, “White Bicycles,” a splendid account of music in the ‘60s that's packed with profiles and vignettes about Syd Barrett, Sandy Denny and even a wordless Dylan. As Boyd writes, "I was there and I do remember."A preppie from Princeton, N.J., with an ear for what we now call roots music, Boyd came of age in the early '60s, working at the Newport Folk Festival (and is ready to testify as an eyewitness that Pete Seeger did not try to take an ax to the cables powering Dylan’s famous debut as an electric artist), organizing jazz tours in Europe, where he settled, getting by...
  • My Turn: Finding God and Grace Among the Dying

    When I try to describe my work as a hospital chaplain I sometimes fall back on the line from the film “The Sixth Sense”: “I see dead people.” Not all the time, granted, but more than I'd ever seen before in my life.Death and dying are a natural part of life, and yet most of us are far removed from it; I know I was. Before I started this work a year ago, the only dead person I'd ever seen was my father. My time at a suburban hospital has shown me that death and dying come in as many forms as there are people and lifestyles. As someone told us in a hospital lecture on dying, "People pretty much die as they lived."People with dysfunctional families often die amid tumult. At times, family members are estranged, and the remaining parent and adult children may hurl angry words at one another over the lifeless corpse, as we hospital chaplains try to offer some form of comfort or coming together amid the flying barbs."I'm the bereaved one!" shouted one widow at the chaplain who showed...
  • Joycelyn Elders on the Clash of Politics, Science

    On Thursday, President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James Holsinger, faced blunt questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing about how he would react if he were pressured to put politics before science. "I would resign," Holsinger said.If history is any indication, he's likely to be tested on that promise. Earlier in the week, three former surgeons general—including Dr. Richard Carmona, the most recent occupant of that august office—testified before Congress that he felt intense political pressure. Carmona, who left office in July, said that the Bush administration had delayed his reports and changed his speeches on controversial issues such as smoking and stem cells. "Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," he testified. That came as no surprise to Joycelyn Elders, who served as surgeon general from 1993 to 1994 under President Bill Clinton; she was asked to step...
  • The Asian-American Trollope

    Min Jin Lee’s ambitious debut novel, "Free Food for Millionaires," has been showered with praise by literary critics. Lee’s protagonist, Casey Han, is the daughter of Korean drycleaners who tries to reconcile her immigrant upbringing with the privileged Manhattan lifestyle that her Princeton education has promised her. Skillfully manipulating multiple points of view, Lee reveals the intricacies of New York’s caste system while having Casey navigate her career (banking versus hatmaking), love, family obligations, money and belief.Lee, 38, a former lawyer and stay-at-home mother, had a circuitous journey to authorhood. Since deciding to write 12 years ago, she faced rejections from The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Knopf and also attempted three prior novels, none of which were published. Now, critics compare her to Jane Austen and George Eliot. She spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Charlene Dy. ...
  • Starr: Soccer’s Cinderella Team

    I am of the persuasion that believes rivalry is the lifeblood of sports. As a Bostonian, I am particularly partial to Red Sox-Yankees, but I have no lack of respect for Ohio State-Michigan (on the gridiron) Duke-UNC (on the hardwood) BU-BC (on the ice), Federer vs. Nadal and Tiger vs. the field. Whatever stirs your juices is fine by me.One of the burgeoning rivalries bordering on a blood feud that always stirs my juices is our very own U.S. soccer lads vs. Mexico. Most of the passion surrounding this rivalry is, not surprisingly, delivered from south of the border. Mexican fans are distressed if not totally crazed about the recent turn of events on the soccer pitch. They cannot believe that the damn Yanquis have actually supplanted their country as soccer’s numero uno in this Central America/North America/Caribbean region.It is hard to imagine a moment of greater despair for Mexican fans than when the United States earned a quarterfinal berth in the 2002 World Cup by booting Mexico...
  • Book Excerpt: Elmore Leonard's 'Up in Honey's Room'

    Honey phoned her sister-in-law Muriel, still living in Harlan County, Kentucky, to tell her she’d left Walter Schoen, calling him Valter, and was on her way to being Honey Deal again. She said to Muriel, “I honestly thought I could turn him around, but the man still acts like a Nazi. I couldn’t budge him.”“You walked out,” Muriel said, “just like that?”“I valked out,” Honey said. “I’m free as a bird. You know what else? I won’t have to do my roots every two weeks. Dumb me, I spent a whole year wanting him to think I’m a natural blonde.”“He couldn’t tell other ways you aren’t?”“Anytime Walter wanted some, he’d turn out the light before taking off his pajamas. He was self-conscious about being skinny, his ribs showing, so it was always pitch-dark when we did it. He said American food, all it did was give him gas. I had to learn to cook German, big heavy dinners, sauerbraten with red cabbage, bratwurst. For the ?rst time in my life I had to watch my weight.Walter didn’t gain at all. He...
  • Inside Roswell's Competing UFO Festivals

    This is what happens when a flying saucer crashes in your town: the little green men are, well, little and green, but also purple, blue, yellow and black. Some wear dark capes and rubbery masks. Some hold Super Soakers in lieu of death rays. Others wear diapers instead of pants. One is dressed like a ballerina. Another just turned his Halloween costume inside out.These extraterrestrials are children participating in an "alien costume contest” inside a McDonald’s in Roswell, N.M., as part of the city’s 2007 Amazing Roswell UFO Festival. “Everybody," says George Byrne, a longtime Roswell resident, as he watches his grandchildren prance around the McDonald’s playground in their alien costumes, “needs a gimmick.”This city has a good one. This year’s edition of the city’s annual four-day festival, which began July 5, commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, in which military officials from nearby Roswell Army Air Field announced that a “flying disc” had crashed into a...
  • Cleaning Up the Tour de France

    This year's Tour de France is going to be different. At least, that's the line professional cycling is pushing. Two weeks ago, the International Cycling Union (UCI) asked riders to sign an antidoping charter before the start of this year's three-week stage race, which begins Saturday. If found guilty of doping, riders agree to pay the ICU the equivalent of a year's salary in addition to serving the standard two-year suspension from cycling. Tour organizers insist that any rider who does not sign cannot start the race.You can almost hear cycling fans the world over breathing a resounding sigh of "So what?” Doping has long been as inextricable a part of the culture as shaven legs and skinny tires. But Lance Armstrong’s domination of the Tour attracted a worldwide audience, and with that audience came more money—and increased scrutiny. Now, with sponsors threatening to defect to less volatile (if less dramatic) sports, cycling’s governing bodies have been forced to react publicly. And...
  • New Book Celebrates America's Show Tunes

    Let’s begin with a few things that critic and novelist Wilfrid Sheed leaves out of his book about the American popular song circa mid-20th century: “Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia,” “Miss the Mississippi and You,” “Right or Wrong,” “San Antonio Rose,” “Stormy Monday,” “Smokestack Lightning,” “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” “I Can’t Help It if I’m Still in Love With You,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “Crazy” and “Stagger Lee.” All of those songs were written or sung to wide acclaim in the period that Sheed covers, roughly the time between the two world wars with a 10-year slop over either way. Sheed makes a point of saying that he’s not trying to be encyclopedic, that he’s writing specifically about something he calls the jazz song, a concept that he never really pins down. To speed things along, let’s just say show tunes, which to Sheed are pretty much the end all and be all of American songs. It’s what he grew up listening to, and don’t we all love what we loved when we were young?...
  • Auditioning for 'Big Brother'

    Of all the nice people I meet at the "Big Brother" auditions last spring, my favorite contestant is a woman named Emillan. She arrives for her big date with Hollywood dressed from head to toe in black lingerie, which she purchased for $200 from Frederick's of Hollywood. "I work in the sex industry," Emillan tells me. Really? How? Actually, Emillan holds three different jobs. "I'm a stripper. I'm a foot-fetish model—that's where I make money—and I specialize in domination." Really? How? OK, I'll spare you the details. I ask Emillan if she has any reality TV experience. "I auditioned for 'Coyote Ugly,' where they were looking for a bartender/singer, but I didn't make that. My friend told me I was sneaky and conniving and I'd be perfect for this." It's settled. If I make it into the "Big Brother" house and so does Emillan, we're definitely forming an alliance.Tonight marks the eighth season of what I think is the greatest reality TV show of all time. "Survivor" has its rats and ...
  • Q&A With Enrique Iglesias

    The world's best-selling Spanish music artist, on his way to Live Earth, holds forth on Al Gore, performing in a gay club, 'Insomnia'—his new album and the real thing—and sleeping pills.
  • Ornish: Stop Stress-Related Weight Gain

    New studies show that stress not only makes you gain weight, but it affects what you eat and even where you pack on those extra pounds. What you can do to stop it.
  • Autism: Earliest Diagnosis Ever

    A new study finds that autism can be identified at around 14 months, much earlier than previously thought. How early diagnosis can improve outcomes.
  • Remembering Beverly Sills

    The late Beverly Sills, a peerless soprano, did everything she could—and there wasn't much she couldn't do—to make people fall in love with opera
  • Q&A: Hugh Dancy on 'Evening', Clare Danes

    Is Hugh Dancy the next Hugh Grant? The 32-year-old British actor has been pegged as the next big thing in Hollywood. He just completed a successful run on Broadway in "Journey's End," as the lead, Capt. Stanhope (a role that Laurence Olivier originated). He has four movies out this year, including "The Jane Austen Book Club," based on the recent book. In his latest drama, "Evening," Dancy plays Buddy Wittenborn, a rich New Englander who is dating the film's heroine, Ann. In real life, Dancy is now dating the actress who played Ann, Claire Danes. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. ...
  • Bird Cinema: YouTube, with Feathers

    The most-viewed video of all time on YouTube is "Evolution of Dance," six minutes of shake-your-tailfeather action recapping the American way of getting down. The most-viewed video of all time on  birdcinema.com? "Great Horned Owl Fledgling," 59 seconds of, well, just what you might think. Except with a lot less tailfeather shaking.For the millions of birdwatchers in the United States, though, that kind of footage is pure gold. The brainchild of Doug Myers, CEO of ACR International, an electronic database company, Birdcinema.com launched in June with the ambition of becoming YouTube for the bird set, hosting videos uploaded by some of the 46 million Americans for whom bird watching is a cherished pursuit. The site currently offers video file sharing for bird enthusiasts, but Myers and his colleagues want to expand it to become the primary source for bird video. "Our goal is to obtain footage of every species in the world and offer information on these birds, how to find them and...
  • How to Think Like a Scientist

    Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes containing about 20,000 genes, DNA is the molecule that carries hereditary information in every living cell, matter is made of atoms that are built of protons and neutrons and electrons and ... Alan Leshner isn't buying it. CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes the journal Science and promotes science literacy, he agrees that people "need, at minimum, a rough understanding of the core concepts of science—the more the better." That would keep people from rejecting genetically modified food because, as they tell pollsters, it "contains genes" (all living cells do).The real problem today, however, is not ignorance of the fact that Earth revolves around the sun once a year (something 25 percent of adult Americans do not know). "It's that people don't understand what is and isn't science," says Leshner.Science observes and measures the natural world. From those data it infers the empirical laws that govern...
  • Feeling Thick As a BRIC? We Can Help.

    At least you can talk the talk with the following list of the most relevant lingo in global business today. BRIC: Shorthand for Brazil, Russia, India, China. The label signifies their growing economic might. By 2050, Goldman Sachs projects that the four BRIC countries will represent 45 percent of global GDP, up from 8 percent in 2000. IPO: The initial public offering of a firm's stock to the investing public. In 2006, 196 IPOs for U.S. firms totaled $45 billion. HEDGE FUNDS: Investment pools exempted from strict government regulation because each has a small number (usually fewer than 100) of wealthy investors (often having at least $5 million of total investments). In early 2007, there were 9,550 hedge funds worth $1.5 trillion. PRIVATE EQUITY: Similar pools that, aided by loans, buy all the shares of public companies. The hope: resell later at a big markup. In 2006, such buyouts of U.S. firms totaled $374 billion.
  • Refugees: Who's Fled for Life?

    Worldwide, 32.9 million people have been driven from home by war, persecution and poverty, with 9.9 million officially listed as refugees by the U.N. Top nations:
  • Literature: What's the Good Word?

    Which words appear most often in the titles of best-selling books? Hint: it's not "Jesus," who has never been named in the title of a best seller.
  • Going Postal, Literary Style

    For most people the post office is the irksome home to long lines, lost checks and slow service. But for American writers—and who else could be so perverse? —the post office is a godsend. If not exactly a font of stimulation, it's at least a well-lighted place to earn a paycheck until one's belles lettres can support a writing career.Just don't expect any hymns to the pony express. Two of the most notable ex-mailmen in American letters, Richard Wright and Charles Bukowski, attacked their former employers in early novels. In "Cesspool"—later retitled "Lawd Today!"—Wright poured his experience as a Chicago mail clerk into the bleak story of a Windy City postman who brutalizes his wife. (Fortunately, Wright was single.)Three decades later, Bukowski channeled 12 years as a mail carrier to write "Post Office," described by one critic as "the ultimate I-hate-my-job story." But it was William Faulkner who expressed his unhappiness while still on the job. In 1924, the future author of "The...
  • Paula Abdul’s Reality

    Paula Abdul is TV's most famous cry baby. She tears up when contestants are voted off "American Idol." She bawls when they win the grand prize. At one point last season, Abdul even started wailing when one finalist—Melinda Dolittle—sang really well, because she was just so happy for her. So it's no surprise that the tears flow in Abdul's new reality show, "Hey, Paula," airing on Bravo tonight.The shocker is how quickly Paula Abdul blows up—for the strangest reasons. In the premiere episode, the former pop singer is on her way to Philadelphia to film a QVC spot for her jewelry line when she realizes her two assistants have forgotten to pack her sweat pants, and she'll need to squeeze into a pair of jeans instead. "Why these pants?!" she asks. "I could kill you guys ... it's supposed to be a comfortable trip ... take your foot and shove it down your throat." By the end of the scolding, it's not just Paula who's crying but her two intern-like assistants as well.Train-wreck reality TV...
  • Ansen on 'Ratatouille'

    It would seem that Pixar's newest animated movie, "Ratatouille," has a few obstacles to overcome. The title isn't in English, and a good percentage of the audience has probably never tasted it, let alone heard of it. The hero, Remy, is a rat. Not only that, a rat who spends most of his time just where we don't want to see one—in a kitchen. The setting is Paris, and the movie is a love letter to a romantic notion of France that is not currently in fashion, at least in certain political quarters. And who would ever think of making a family movie aimed at foodies?Has Pixar lost its pixilated mind? Pas du tout. Brad Bird, the unconventional creator of "The Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles," has come up with a film as rich as a sauce béarnaise, as refreshing as a raspberry sorbet, and a lot less predictable than the damn food metaphors and adjectives all us critics will churn out to describe it. OK, one more and then I'll be done: it's yummy.Bird seems to relish the challenge, and even...
  • Isaiah Washington Speaks His Mind

    It’s a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and Isaiah Washington is on the set of the independent film "The Least of These.’’ Washington plays a priest in the movie, and he’s dressed in full-on black on black with a sliver of white at his collar. He greets his guests with a gentle smile and an extended hand. Sitting in his small trailer filled with the scent of myrrh incense, he seems at peace—until he starts talking. Washington can’t stop himself from doing what he’s been doing a lot lately: explaining away a situation that has already cost him a beloved job and could ultimately cost him much more.Last fall, Washington, by his own admission, picked a fight with Patrick Dempsey, one his costars on the ABC hospital drama "Grey’s Anatomy." Fighting with a co-worker is never smart, but Washington took it even further by using an offensive term to refer to a gay cast member during the altercation. "Patrick and I had a philosophical disagreement that got out of hand and that I regret a great...
  • A Werner Herzog Action Movie

    Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), an American Navy pilot in the Vietnam War, is shot down over Laos, captured, tortured and held in a POW camp in the Laotian jungle, where he immediately begins plotting his escape, though no one has flown the coop before. He is, in many respects, a classic action-movie hero—courageous, clever, indomitable. But "Rescue Dawn" is a Werner Herzog movie (and a true story), and though it's as taut and exciting as many edge-of-your-seat Hollywood escape movies, there's a mania about Dieter that sets him apart, a wild-eyed bravado that suggests the line between bravery and complete lunacy is a thin one. Who better than Bale, who is scarily good at macho obsessiveness, to take on the challenge?Herzog, always at his best working in insufferable jungle conditions ("Aguirre, the Wrath of God," "Fitzcarraldo") is fascinated by stories of extreme will. He's told this one before, in his 1997 documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," and it clearly has its hooks in...
  • Why Doesn't Evolution Get Rid of Ugly People?

    Why isn’t everyone beautiful, smart and healthy? Or, in a less-polite formulation, why haven’t ugly, stupid, unhealthy people been bred out of the population—ugly people because no one will have them as mates, meaning they don’t get the chance to pass their ugliness to the next generation; stupid people because they’re outgunned in the race to financial success (that is, acquiring resources needed to survive and reproduce); unhealthy people because they die before they get a chance to reproduce? ...
  • Ansen on 'Live Free or Die Harder'

    The last time we saw John McClane (Bruce Willis) he was ... who can remember?  It's been 12 years since "Die Hard with a Vengeance," and while the first "Die Hard" is now properly thought of as an action-movie classic, nobody's been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the return of New York's toughest, most put-upon detective.  Would anyone care that he was back?  The good news is, "Live Free or Die Hard" makes you care.  Of all the overproduced sequels promising mindless summer fun, this one actually delivers.I looked up my review of the 1990 "Die Hard 2" and what I wrote then still applies: "The 'Die Hard' movies have many of the same virtues as the James Bond movies: first-rate production values, an endless supply of escalating cliffhangers and a fine sense of their own preposterousness."  "Live Free or Die Harder" may pretend to take place in the real world of terrorist threats, but any movie in which the hero brings down a chopper by catapulting a speeding car into...
  • Rachel Hunter's Strange Diet Campaign

    Rachel Hunter is promoting a diet company's 'Find Your Slim' campaign. The problem(s): she's already slim—and she hasn't tried the weight-reducing drink.
  • Steve Perry on 'Don't Stop Believin'

    Who knew back in 1981, when Journey released its inspirational, lighter-in-the-air anthem “Don't Stop Believin',” that it would be embraced by gangsters and presidential hopefuls alike? But this month alone the song set the final scene for the final episode of “The Sopranos” and served as the soundtrack for a high-profile spoof on that HBO series finale starring none other than Bill and Hillary Clinton. The latter production, on hillaryclinton.com, was part of a campaign song contest where voters cast online ballots to decide which pop hit should become Hillary's song for the 2008 presidential race. Journey's ubiquitous hit was not chosen, or even nominated, but the band's former lead singer Steve Perry is not complaining. Perry explains to NEWSWEEK's Lorraine Ali why music and politics don't mix, but Journey, baseball, serial killers and the mafia do. ...
  • Sharapova on Wimbledon, Sponsors and Celebs

    Maria Sharapova is said to be the highest-paid female athlete in the world. The 6-feet-2 tennis champion—she’s so tall she instinctively prepares to duck when she walks through a doorway—is estimated to make $20 million a year in sponsorship deals. Right now she’s at Wimbledon, hoping to win back the title she won there three years ago, at a mere 17.Can she do it? Sharapova has fresh confidence after her victory at last year’s U.S. Open silenced detractors who suggested that she was spending more time marketing herself than perfecting her backhand. But she certainly faces stiff competition. Aside from a shoulder injury, the No. 1 seed Justine Henin, who won the French Open last month, is said to be especially hungry to win Wimbledon—a title which has thus far eluded her. American sisters Venus and Serena Williams and Serbians Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic could also stop Sharapova’s return to center court.As the tournament got under way in London, NEWSWEEK's Ginanne Brownell...
  • Work It Out

    1. What “rather savvy tactic” is Iran’s president using with the Iranian people? What relationships does the tactic imply exist among politics, economics, and culture (which includes fashion)? Make a graphic that shows the relationships. Come up with an analogy between the Iranian government’s tactic and something in your own experience. Remember that the analogy should clarify the Iranian government’s strategy.2. What program did George W. Bush implement in Iran over a year ago? What does Michael Hirsh say the Bush administration hasn’t considered? Write a letter to Bush giving your opinion of his program.
  • The Champ, Winning by Knockout

    He was the greatest "Greatest." Of last century's dominant American athletes, none can match the myth of Muhammad Ali, the champ of tumultuous times. His impact, hardly limited to the ring, makes the largest of today's stars look small. Race and Politics: The unapologetic Ali was a powerful symbol of black pride. For resisting the draft in 1967—"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong"—Ali was vilified, sentenced to prison and stripped of his title. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction and public opinion came around, but Ali was inactive for three of his prime boxing years. Religion: Perhaps the most high-profile convert to the Nation of Islam, Cassius Clay was reborn Muhammad Ali shortly after he bested Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in 1964. Marketing: A rhyming, taunting showboat, he built the Ali "brand" before there was such a term, and promoted it across the globe.