Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Each Friday, the Emdashes summer interns bring us the news from the ultimate Rossosphere: the blogs and podcasts at newyorker.com. Here’s this week’s report.

Adam Shoemaker:

This week in “Notes on Politics, Mostly,” Hendrik Hertzberg notices a few unexpected deviations in the news world. First, he applauds the Washington Post’s decision to repudiate, unqualifiedly and unapologetically, John McCain’s accusation that Barack Obama demanded media cameras follow him into an Army medical center in Germany. Hertzberg also offers a modest suggestion for newsgatherers facing the newly breached promise by Chinese officials for uncensored internet access during the Olympic games. Finally, he puzzles over the recent off-road trek of a Republican “word technician” on Fox News who bravely veered away from Obama-bashing while host Sean Hannity desperately attempted to retrieve him. The post provided one of my favorite valedictions ever: “Thanks a load, toad.”

Sasha Frere-Jones spent the week at his blog considering free mixtapes and Czechoslovakian-infused rap. He also shares a music video from Richard McGuire, New Yorker illustrator and creator of “compact puzzles of funk.” I am converted. Still, the center of my heart remains dedicated to that burgeoning genre of sometimes atrocious, sometimes sublime hip-hop mashups, and one really can’t do better than this fusion of M.O.P. and “Sesame Street.”

In The New Yorker Out Loud, we hear from Kelefa Sanneh, who wrote in this week’s issue of The New Yorker about the early dissent of radio commentator Tavis Smiley from the “magical” promise of Barack Obama for the African-American community. Sanneh notes that for some black leaders, Obama’s position outside the traditional African-American political trajectory has raised concerns about his commitment to the historical imperatives of the Civil Rights movement. They wonder what it means to be “moving beyond the politics of grievance.” Together, Sanneh’s article and this interview provide a fascinating look at the decisions African-American leaders and voters are facing on the course from primary season to November’s general election.

Rounding out the roundup, Andy Borowitz writes in the Borowitz Report about the swift revenge of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, who just released (we wish) their own attack ad on John McCain after the senator compared them to Senator Obama. While I’m not truly surprised that the “notorious party girls” support offshore drilling, I never really thought of McCain as “pasty white.”

Taylor House:

Earthquake!” cried Postcard from Los Angeles. Dana Goodyear gives us the lowdown on the shakeup (which, admittedly, wasn’t very shaky). No serious injuries or building damage, just a lot of ponderous thoughts about preparing for “the big one” that in the event, will likely be every bit as unexpected. Yawn, maybe tomorrow.

More bad news for newspapers. The L.A. Times is now forcing cutbacks on its weekly book review section—downgrading it from a Sunday insert to space in the general arts section. How bad will it get, and is anyone brave (or stupid) enough to swim upstream?

Anyone recognize Senator Patrick Leahy as the gentleman telling off the Joker in The Dark Knight? Steve Brodner did, and illustrates the effect quite nicely over at Person of the Day.

David Remnick and Hendrik Hertzberg commend Obama’s speech in Germany but debate his shifting position on the war in this week’s The Campaign Trail podcast. And how does it look from McCain’s side of the street? Not great, but not without hope.

Sarah Arkebauer:

This week’s Cartoon Lounge contained some real gems.
Farley Katz penned a humorous Grover Cleveland-themed cartoon on July 29. The antiquated-cartoon theme continued with Matthew Diffee’s post on the 31st. Also worth noting is the delightfully bizarre email-duel by Achewood cartoonist Chris Onstad on July 31 about sandwich shops. The article is a continuation of an earlier interview between Onstad and CL contributor Zachary Kanin.

My favorite new series in the Book Bench is the “Bookspotting” segment. The July 28 edition contained an excellent sighting. I was also pleased to see that (the poetry of) Frank O’Hara made an appearance on the season two premiere of Mad Men. This might be just the impetus I need to start following the program. In other news, a new book of American slogans, Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, is forthcoming, and the people behind the Booker Prize have announced this year’s shortlist. Salman Rushdie is the favorite.

Meanwhile, Goings On posted two promising videos. One is an epic video of acclaimed pianist Lang Lang playing a Chopin etude, not with his fingers but with an orange. The second video of note is a “hilarious, surreal interview” that David Letterman did with Tom Waits (who, we learn, was born in a taxi). Both posts have provided me with valuable new anecdotes with which to astound my friends—always a worthwhile endeavor.

For this week’s New Yorker Fiction Podcast update, I turned to the May 3, 2007, recording in which Richard Ford reads John Cheever’s short story “Reunion.” The story is remarkable both for its brevity and for its richness, and the podcast is worth a listen even if you’ve already read the original.

Previous intern roundups: the July 25 report; the July 18 report; the July 11 report.


I just found “Thanks a load, toad.” That phrase is by far, by FAR the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks.

Did he make that up, or is that something that old guys say?

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree