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  • Chuck Barris: Confessions of a Dangerous Novelist

    Barris created The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show. But since his retirement he's become a writer best known for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. His novel Who Killed Art Deco just came out in -paperback. He spoke with Nicki Gostin.
  • Consumerism: It's An Evolutionary Urge

    Marketers understand that humans, like other animals, have evolved finely tuned mechanisms for competing for status—and that our choice of a consumer brand is less about the material item itself and more about advertising our wealth, beauty and power to (hopefully jealous) onlookers. But in his new book, Spent, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller argues that our species is also driven to show off such characteristics as agreeableness (see Whole Foods and Fair Trade coffee) and conscientiousness (see a well-maintained lawn). While Miller thinks it's improbable that humans will ever give up "their runaway quest for self-display," he notes that our instincts to show off, say, kindness and intelligence can privilege different forms of consumption. For example, we're already seeing a shift away from items that scream "I can afford to waste outlandish amounts of resources!" (big yachts, caviar-and-champagne blowouts) to items that trumpet "I'm ecoconscious!" (electric cars, organic...
  • A Note From Stephen Colbert

    NEWSWEEK has bestowed upon me the honor of choosing this week's letters—huge mistake! Because now I'm just going to print all the letters I sent that the magazine didn't run. In your face, Other Letters!
  • A Tourbook Written in Crayon

    For a child, a box of Crayola crayons can be a wondrous thing. When I was in elementary school, I was particularly taken with burnt sienna. It was neither brown nor red, but seemed taken from the earth, and it had the most beautiful name. I was reminded of my early curiosity and respect for that color recently, as I stood on top of the walls of Siena's Museo dell'Opera, high above the Piazza del Duomo, and looked out over the city spread below. At first, all I saw was a dull sea of brown, but then it began to take shape and gain heft. The brown became warmer, redder, and splintered into dozens of tones. I thought of burnt sienna, and suddenly the association between a crayon and a city did not seem silly or strange. Afterward, walking through the cramped streets of the town's historic center, I saw echoes of the color everywhere. There were the brick-red chevrons of the sloping Piazza del Campo, the town's spectacular medieval square, and the Palazzo Pubblico, burnished in afternoon...
  • Why I Took This Crummy Job

    No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. You're reading Stephen Colbert. And for that I apologize. The last thing I want is to contribute to the corrosive influence of the print media. I prefer to yell my opinions at you in person.But I can't do that this week, because I am in Iraq. I've brought my hit TV broadcast over there to support our troops. I figure if I do this, I can finally take that yellow- ribbon magnet off my Audi without looking like a jerk. God knows what it did to my paint job.I know what you're thinking: "Isn't the Iraq War over?" That's what I thought, too. I hadn't seen it in the media for a while, and when I don't see something, I assume it's vanished forever, like in that terrifying game peekaboo. We stopped seeing much coverage of the Iraq War back in September when the economy tanked, and I just figured the insurgents were wiped out because they were heavily invested in Lehman Brothers.Turns out there are still 135,000 troops in Iraq, which I don't understand...
  • Letters: ‘Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures & You’

    Oprah's not perfect, but that's why we love her. She can be full of herself at times—but at least she's authentic and trying to help people. She's done a lot of good.Julie Coan, Houston, TexasI've wasted many hours reeducating my patients after the latest pseudoscience sermon by the likes of Suzanne Somers, Jenny McCarthy or even Dr. Mehmet Oz. It's bad enough they are giving out crackpot medical advice, but the singlehanded contribution that Oprah is making to the science illiteracy of America is real cause for alarm. Somers and McCarthy, in particular, like to portray this as a battle between Big Pharma/Medicine and free choice. In fact, the battle is between science, logic and reason on one side and superstition and ignorance on the other.Michael Melgar, M.D., Great Neck, N.Y.Whether you agree with Oprah, Suzanne Somers or Jenny McCarthy, the authors could have at least interviewed doctors and researchers who are looking into their claims. Progressive medicine is leaving behind...
  • Adiga's Stories From India

    Like an Asian sister city to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, the fictitious town of Kittur, India, is full of anguished souls trying to find their place in the world. They fight, love and struggle their way through the overlapping stories in Between the Assassinations, the nimble new work from Aravind Adiga, the Indian writer who won Britain's Man Booker Prize last year for his savage first novel, The White Tiger. With his latest book, Adiga, 34, strengthens the brash voice that echoed through his debut. A graduate of Columbia and Oxford who grew up in the town of Mangalore (the model for Kittur), he is an insider with an outsider's probing eye, taking the country to task for its shortcomings—corruption, cronyism, inequality, indifference—while pulling for its success. ...
  • The Return of the New York Neurotic

    A Woody Allen movie starring Larry David is, in theory, a perfect storm of urban neurosis. "I'm not a likable guy," announces David's character, Boris Yellnikoff, at the start of Whatever Works. David, the star and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm, has always been a more aggressive neurotic than the kvetcher Allen, whose characters tend to mask their misanthropy with halting self-denigration. Playing "himself" on HBO, David is a beehive of irritability, lashing out at a world that always contrives to reward his contempt with humiliation. In Allen's movie, as a suicidal former physics professor convinced that he's a genius and that the world is spinning out of control, his misanthropy is even more ferocious. But the funny thing is, his venom leaves no sting. Though Boris tells the audience "this isn't a feel-good movie," this likable but paper-thin Allen effort is precisely that, an urban fairy tale with a happy ending that's anything but hard-won. (Story continued below...)Has the...
  • "The Beatles: Rock Band" Trailers -- Are You a Fan?

    Sorry, Where the Wild Things Are.  This latest viral video is officially as badass and funky and musically rockin' as that trailer, minus all the hipster-y, twee elements that make it hedge on cloying.  We were already excited for the September drop of The Beatles: Rock Band, but the quirky animation in this ad for the game has us extra-pumped.  What do you think?To see a preview of the game's actual functionality, and what it will look like to actually inhabit Paul McCartney, check out these other clips:
  • Books: The Bleakness of Neil MacFarquhar's Memoir

    Neil MacFarquhar's new book does what every reporter aspires to: it sneakily delivers social science (history, anthropology, political theory) to the reader in the guise of a hack's memoir. The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday is the author's account of four years as a Middle East reporter for The New York Times, and it is filled with first-rate analysis leavened by plenty of color. Strangely, though, MacFarquhar's implied conclusion—he is cautiously optimistic about reform—is largely at odds with the evidence he submits. He sallies forth into Arab capitals and listens attentively to the ambitious, clever and desperate intellectuals trying to liberalize their countries. But ominous obstacles—stagnation-prone governments, paranoid autocrats—lurk in the background.MacFarquhar, who grew up in a Libyan oil enclave populated by Westerners, threads reform ideas into his country descriptions. A Syrian, Mohamed Shahrour, for example, believes the prophet...
  • Why Health Advice on 'Oprah' Could Make You Sick

    Wish Away Cancer! Get A Lunchtime Face-Lift! Eradicate Autism! Turn Back The Clock! Thin Your Thighs! Cure Menopause! Harness Positive Energy! Erase Wrinkles! Banish Obesity! Live Your Best Life Ever!
  • Books: Simon Schama's "The American Future"

    Obama's America is facing some worrisome questions: whether to encourage the globe's best and brightest to flock to our shores, or to save American jobs for American workers. Whether the military should focus on bombing terrorists or building schools. Whether religious beliefs should dictate laws, such as on abortion and gay marriage. Whether the American dream of plenty has finally been exhausted. The issues are so daunting, it's easy to worry that the United States has never faced such insurmountable problems.So leave it to a historian to remind us that even the Founding Fathers grappled with similar debates. In his new book, The American Future, professor and critic Simon Schama traces the four motifs of war, religion, immigration and American bounty as they stretch across our national history like Lincoln's mystic chords of memory, firing each generation's imagination—and, consequently, its politics. Some of the parallels that Schama unearths are striking: here's Jefferson,...