cellular telephone

Someone, somewhere, has surely commented that you can tell a lot about a person from what he or she happens to find funny. For this reason, I have always thought that the roars of approval which greeted P.J. O'Rourke's jokes about homeless people said it all about the 80s.

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In an effort to shame horror-movie writers into abandoning perhaps the laziest trope in their profession, Rich Four Four has stitched together 66(!) instances since 2000 of folks in mortal peril having their cell phones flash the "no service" message or otherwise malfunction at a crucial moment: (via Vulture)

Early last spring, outside a guesthouse in Kabul where I was staying, an injured Afghan man limped up to the locked gate. He wore a blazer with suede elbow patches and leaned on crutches. Because a suicide bomber had attacked the building not long before, a guard blocked the entrance of the unannounced supplicant. The fact that the man refused to give his name didn't help his case.

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Empire Falls

With Hurricane Katrina still over the Gulf of Mexico, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, New Orleans's chief jailer, convened his ranking officers for an emergency meeting. Present in the sheriff's conference room that Saturday were most of his wardens, as well as the officer in charge of supplies and the head of the jail's kitchen, a huge feeding operation that prepared more than 18,000 meals per day. The sheriff went around the table, asking the officers if they were prepared for a storm.

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Bigger, Badder

You hear a lot of complaining, and rightly so, about Hollywood's tendency to churn out safe, unimaginative pabulum--the remakes, the sequels, the blow-everything-up movies. Less remarked upon is the opposite problem: The studios' inability (or unwillingness) to make B+ movies, competent, mid-sized genre films that are formulaic in the good sense. There was a time when Hollywood excelled at producing such solid but unexceptional fare--Westerns are the classic example--but no longer.

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