In the fantasy and superhero realm, the most chilling and compelling villain of the year was surely Magneto, who in X-Men: First Class is more of a proto-villain, a victim of human cruelty with a grudge against the nonmutants of the world rooted in bitter and inarguable experience. Magneto is all the more fascinating by virtue of being played by Michael Fassbender, the hawkishly handsome Irish-German actor whose on-screen identity crises dominated no fewer than four movies in 2011. Magneto, more than the others, also evokes a curious kind of self-reproach, because his well-founded vendetta is, after all, directed against us.
Sunday, December 11
The ascendant breed of grown-ups who are redefining adulthood.
This is an obituary for the generation gap. It is a story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old. It’s not about a fad but about a phenomenon that looks to be permanent.
Saturday, December 10
The same forces that put his family in the slum also gave him the golf course on the other side of the wall, and the teachers and sponsors, and the strange ability to hit a ball with a club. But it still doesn't make sense. Sometimes it seems as if fate is wrestling with itself, making sure the circumstances of his birth are always conspiring to take away whatever gifts might allow him to escape it. He lives in two worlds, each one pulling away from the other. Anil is in the middle, trying to keep his balance.
Friday, December 9
An essay drawn from the introduction of Davidson’s iconic book Subway, first published in 1986:
To prepare myself for the subway, I started a crash diet, a military fitness exercise program, and early every morning I jogged in the park. I knew I would need to train like an athlete to be physically able to carry my heavy camera equipment around in the subway for hours every day. Also, I thought that if anything was going to happen to me down there I wanted to be in good shape, or at least to believe that I was. Each morning I carefully packed my cameras, lenses, strobe light, filters, and accessories in a small, canvas camera bag. In my green safari jacket with its large pockets, I placed my police and subway passes, a few rolls of film, a subway map, a notebook, and a small, white, gold-trimmed wedding album containing pictures of people I’d already photographed in the subway. In my pants pocket I carried quarters for the people in the subway asking for money, change for the phone, and several tokens. I also carried a key case with additional identification and a few dollars tucked inside, a whistle, and a small Swiss Army knife that gave me a little added confidence. I had a clean handkerchief and a few Band-Aids in case I found myself bleeding.
On the Final Exit Network, a controversial right-to-die organization, and the death of their client John Celmer.
Before the market crashed and home prices tumbled, before federal investigators showed up and hauled away the community records, before her property managers pled guilty for conspiring to rig neighborhood elections, and before her real estate lawyer allegedly tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs and setting fire to her home, Wanda Murray thought that buying a condominium in Las Vegas was a pretty good idea.
How the Mosley Motel, off U.S. 19 in Florida, became the temporary home to at least 27 families turned away from full shelters.
Thursday, December 8
When Saul Bellow and Ralph Ellison were roommates.
He and I had our differences. I am not inclined to be sentimental about those Arcadian or Utopian days. He didn't approve of my way of running the place. I had complained also that his dog relieved himself in my herb garden. I asked, "Can't you arrange to have him do his shitting elsewhere?"
Wednesday, December 7
The West Memphis Three, teenagers who were convicted in 1993 of brutal killings that they certainly did not commit on the basis of local gossip that they were satanists (as evidenced by Metallica fandom), suddenly found themselves released this summer after over 17 years in prison. But what life awaited them?