1. “Mike Nichols R.I.P.” The acclaimed director of The Graduate dies at 83.
“Mike Nichols, one of America’s most celebrated directors, whose long, protean résumé of critic- and crowd-pleasing work earned him adulation both on Broadway and in Hollywood, died on Wednesday. He was 83. His death was announced in a statement by the president of ABC News, James Goldston. Dryly urbane, Mr. Nichols had a gift for communicating with actors and a keen comic timing, which he honed early in his career as half of the popular sketch-comedy team Nichols and May. He accomplished what Orson Welles and Elia Kazan, but few if any other directors have: He achieved popular and artistic success in both theater and film. He was among the most decorated people in the history of show business, one of only a handful to have won an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy.”
2. “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.” Our own Justin Clark on Assassin’s Creed and the power of representation.
“Needless to say, heroes—the real and imagined figures who set the bar on all that is good in the world—have always been short in supply if I wanted to see someone who looked like me. Sounding like me was even more impossible. I have a caramel complexion, a basketball player’s height, a football player’s build, and a writer’s vocabulary. I am a stereotypical giant black guy, until I speak. I’m generally considered physically black, but vocally white, which is a whole other can of worms, really. I am a mysteriously scarce anomaly in pop culture. If we go all Crisis On Infinite Earths with it, where every TV show, every film, every book’s universe is mashed together to exist in the same space, I am a rarity. If I do exist outside of fringes and subcultures, I am a punchline. I am a sellout. I am a magical solution machine. Or, I’m Morgan Freeman.”
3. “Babysitting the Bomb.” The missileers of Global Strike Command watch over our aging, oft-forgotten, frequently persnickety, and potentially world-destroying nuclear arsenal.
“I pipe up with my questions about what it feels like to put so much work into something that we’ll likely never use, but the airmen just smile. ’People mistakenly think that we show up every day and keep nukes on alert because we anticipate launching them,’ says Senior Master Sergeant Brandon Otten, who runs the maintenance—team training program. His boots are propped on a steel cross section of the missile body stenciled with DOWNRANGE and a little arrow pointing upward. ’These are doing their job,’ he says, pointing to the missile nose. ’Us keeping them ready to go—it’s not that we don’t ever get to use them. We use them every day.’ The mission is the show of readiness. And the show of readiness is the mission.”
4. “What’s Missing from Foxcatcher.” Richard Brody on the Bennett Miller film.
“What’s missing from Foxcatcher is sex. Mark Schultz has no girlfriend, and no boyfriend, either; the other young wrestlers who live on du Pont’s property and train with Mark are also devoid of romantic entanglements. As for du Pont—who was, in real life, sued in 1988 by a college wrestler for sexual harassment—he has no attachments either. The movie offers no grounds to speculate on sexual tensions between du Pont and Mark Schultz—it offers virtually nothing sexual at all, once the early scene with Mark and Dave is done. But this lack of sexuality is never treated as an absence. (By contrast, the sexual desire of a fighter in training is a crucial theme of Raging Bull.) If the movie is about asexual or sexually repressed men, that itself would itself be a salient aspect of this (or any) story.”
5. “Where the Fuck Is Princess Leia?” Help me, multi-gazillion dollar toy industry, you’re my only hope.
“And I’m not just talking Hillary Clinton, or even Malala, though I am talking about them, too. My sister is raising three children on her own and still manages to get up in the morning, dress the kids, load the car, run the house, feed the kids, fix the toys, take charge of every single one of the encounters they witness every day, read bedtime stories, be kind, be a disciplinarian and brush her hair and look nice (which is a helluva lot more than I managed in the two weeks I was responsible for breakfast and school runs). She is one of many women doing this. Where is the princess that embodies all that? I know where she’s not! She’s not in the toy store and she’s not in my niece’s underwear drawer. And she should be. Don’t we want kids — and it’s worth noting that by the time I left my nephew was nearly as devoted to Princess Leia as my niece — to have female figures (literally in this case) to idolize who have even tenuous connections to the amazing, strong, complicated women they will grow up to be, and/or work with and for, and/or maybe marry?”
Video of the Day: The final scene from The Graduate:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.