“There’s something about the very personal experience of smelling that makes pinning it down with words somehow irresistible, and the online economy has made it easier than ever for people to sample esoteric smells in order to write about them.”—Emily Gould on perfume criticism and Barbara Herman’s recent book, “Scent and Subversion”: http://nyr.kr/1qqI9zu
The Borowitz Report: Snowden Drops Four New Songs at SXSW
AUSTIN (The Borowitz Report) — N.S.A. leaker Edward Snowden surprised a standing-room-only crowd at this year’s SXSW by performing an impromptu set of four songs from his new CD, which was released online today.
“Writing the Moomins afforded an escape at war’s end. After a quiet start, the series took off in the fifties, bringing welcome financial stability—but the success also represented a kind of detour. Jansson’s ambitions for painting never left her. Now free time was scarce, thanks to an unceasing flow of fan mail, the minutiae of merchandising, processions of visitors, and, until Lars, one of her brothers, took over, the arduous demands of the comic strip. For a while, there was no pleasure to be found in working.”
“For a great many people, in the past and in the present, it is hard to resist the thrill of war fever, the excitement of ‘seriousness,’ and the call of history—the romance of the iceberg even as it sinks the boat.”—Adam Gopnik on Crimea and the hysteria of history: http://nyr.kr/1f8dQsT
Ian Crouch on why the show has moved both fans and detractors to respond with humor: http://nyr.kr/1fLSGCb
“Maybe we feel compelled to giggle at what we don’t understand, or what we don’t want to think about too closely—a reflexive response to being drawn in by a story that turns on murder, conspiracy, and sexual exploitation, notably of children.”
“When the piece is done well, as it is here, in the director Carrie Cracknell’s continually energetic, excellently cast production, we feel as though we’re watching a story told by a director who has the eye and the sensibility of an unusually intense and observant child—one who knows that convention is a bogeyman we are reluctant to cast off, because we dread freedom, a largely uninhabited landscape.”—Hilton Als on a new production of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, “A Doll’s House”: http://nyr.kr/P69VmU
As Crimea prepares for a referendum on its future, its native Muslim residents are preparing for the worst. Natalia Antelava on the scene: http://nyr.kr/1n0PwhX
“There are about three hundred thousand Crimean Tatars on the peninsula, and although they constitute only fifteen per cent of its population they have great political significance. If they do not back the upcoming referendum, it will be far more difficult for the pro-Moscow government in Crimea to legitimize what is in effect a Russian annexation of the peninsula.”
Above: Crimean Tatars hold a rally near the parliament building in Simferopol. Photograph by Baz Ratner/Reuters.
“The breathtaking scope of Karl Lagerfeld’s mock-supermarket set for his Chanel show, a spectacle that took up the entire Grand Palais, dwarfed earlier Chanel extravaganzas, which was no mean feat—it made the iceberg he hauled down from Sweden four years ago seem like a soggy pile of nothing.”
Above: Chanel. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty.
After a widespread backlash against Auto-Tune, which became T-Pain’s signature effect, the rapper candidly discusses his experience of “turning from one of pop’s hit-makers into a walking punch line”: http://nyr.kr/MRmMHE
“Renzi’s youth matters because Italy is a country that has devolved into a gerontocracy: positions of power are occupied by men in their fifties, sixties, and seventies, while youth unemployment is above forty per cent. The job market is bifurcated between extraordinarily well-protected older workers who cannot be fired and younger people working on ‘precarious’ temporary contracts.”—Alexander Stille on Italy’s new Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi: http://nyr.kr/P4KG4s
“Snapping with your smartphone gets a pass, whereas Glass often arouses suspicion. Part of the reason may be that Glass bypasses the familiar, disarming physical ritual of photography: when a person raises a camera, or a smartphone, everyone know what it means. Somehow an indicator light seems insufficient to overcome perceptions of Glass as furtive and dishonest.”
The Borowitz Report: Ukraine Situation Further Confused After Appearance by John Travolta
KIEV (The Borowitz Report)—A surprise appearance by the actor John Travolta today in Kiev’s Independence Square has further confused the situation in Ukraine, witnesses on the ground report.
According to several accounts, Mr. Travolta flew to Ukraine in his self-piloted private jet in the hopes of raising morale in the embattled country, but only served to perplex Ukrainians with a brief but indecipherable speech.
Jeffrey Frank compares Senator Rand Paul’s recent lament about the state of the Republican Party to Eisenhower’s frustrations sixty years ago: http://nyr.kr/1l0ITXX
“Then, as now, Republicans were deeply divided. In the nineteen-fifties, the Party’s Old Guard still wanted to repeal much of the New Deal and didn’t much like that the Eisenhower Administration was increasing the minimum wage, expanding Social Security benefits, and even bragging about it. Eisenhower viewed the Ohio senator John W. Bricker as a particular annoyance, with his attempt to limit the President’s treaty-making powers through a constitutional amendment.”
“There are already signs that Crimea is on the path to becoming a breakaway state. Since Yanukovych fled Kiev a week and half ago, a pro-Moscow government has come to power in Crimea, Russian troops have taken control of all the administrative buildings in the region, and the Russian consulate in Simferopol has eased naturalization rules for Crimeans who wish to give up their passports and take Russian citizenship. Russian flags are flying high, and Crimea’s ethnic minorities—including Ukrainians—are beginning to get nervous.”—Natalia Antelava on the scene in Crimea: http://nyr.kr/1n9Wiyg
“‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is no more than mildly funny. It produces murmuring titters rather than laughter—the sound of viewers affirming their own acumen in so reliably getting the joke.”—David Denby on Wes Anderson’s new movie: http://nyr.kr/1lvapA0
Among this year’s Oscar acceptance speeches, “the ‘12 Years a Slave’ crew had to acknowledge that they were riding to victory on the legacy of slavery … And Cate Blanchett had to find a way of thanking a director who’s not exactly Mr. Popular.” How did everyone fare? http://nyr.kr/1jMyUFS