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‘Cracked’ cracking

“I started calling Cracked “the paper of record” in 2007, when I rediscovered the poor man’s MAD Magazine after it transitioned to an exclusively online presence. I was startled by the high quality of the writing I found there. A non-fan described the evolution of Cracked as going ‘from MAD to Mental Floss’ — and meant that as an insult. That sounds to me like an admirable trajectory. Not only did Cracked.com make me laugh out loud (and that’s hard to do), but occasionally their pieces were thoughtful and even wise.

“‘David Wong,’ a.k.a. Senior Editor Jason Pargin, penned an essay called ‘7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable’ that — along with ‘5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy, But Won’t’ and ‘The 10 Most Important Things They Didn’t Teach You in High School’ — should have earned him a chubby book contract.

“Being less blatantly biased than the average hip, pop culture site, Cracked mops up the misinformation spilled by the Right and the Left — no, J. Edgar Hoover was NOT a transvestite, and the Tea Party isn’t the second coming of the Klan. Cracked’s ‘Magic Negro-gate: How Liberals Confused Obama With Kazaam’ should have gained far more traction.

“So I was deeply disappointed in late December, when Cracked published ‘5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam.’ Where to start?”

Kathy Shaidle, writing on “Is Cracked.com the Ground Zero mosque of magazines?” on Jan. 24 at NewsRealBlog

Crying at wolf

“A 13-year-old Norwegian boy avoided being attacked by wolves by playing a heavy metal song on his mobile phone, the Zvuki.ru music web portal reported on Thursday.

“The incident took place in the central Norwegian municipality of Rakkestad. Four wolves, who appeared before the boy when he was returning home from school, were scared away by the noise coming from the boy’s mobile phone, the Russian website said.

“The song that saved the boy’s life was by thrash metal band Megadeth. The boy said he had been told that in order to avoid being attacked by wolves one should not run away from them but attack them.”

Oleg Lastochkin, writing on “Heavy metal saves Norwegian boy from wolves,” on Jan. 20 at Ria Novosti

Black films

“With that project in mind, this has been a particularly bolstering Sundance. A fellow filmmaker and good friend of mine was quoted in The New York Times calling this year’s festival ‘Blackdance.’ I wouldn’t go that far, but there have been a record number of black and/or African-themed films and films by black directors screening this year, including Alrick Brown’s ‘Kinyarwanda,’ Rashaad Ernesto Green’s ‘Gun Hill Road,’ and Dee Rees’ much buzzed-about lesbian coming-of-age tale, ‘Pariah.’ …

“It has been a pretty uplifting week for black filmmakers. But, for me, it has once again raised a difficult question: Do I really want to make black films?

“On Tuesday, I watched a movie called ‘The Details.’ It stars Tobey Maguire and features African-American actors Dennis Haysbert and Kerry Washington in sizable supporting roles. I did not love the film, but I appreciated that Haysbert and Washington fit somewhat organically into the fictional world and, more importantly, that they represented some variety in the black experience. Haysbert plays a down-on-his-luck blue collar man connected to a loving family and a church. Washington’s character had gone to medical school with Maguire’s and come out the other end a philandering, pot-smoking psychotherapist unhappily married to Ray Liotta. Nothing wrong with that.”

Neil Drumming, writing on “Sundance 2011: To Make Black Films or Not To Make Black Films?” on Jan. 27 at his Atlantic blog

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