Read the whole new issue of The Stranger over here (or click on the cover)!
1. CONNER HABIB, who apparently acts in pornographic films, contributes a feature story to The Stranger that is primarily made up of repetitions of the question "Why do you hate porn stars?" In debate-club terms, this is what's known as a leading question. If Habib were being truthful, he'd ask why we were uncomfortable in our personal dealings with pornographic actors. Instead, Habib offers up a hate/love dynamic, and puts plenty of words in the reader's mouth, besides. ("I'm not sure why this... sounds so much like an I-told-you-so when it comes from your mouth," Habib writes, when you likely didn't say a word to Habib.) Perhaps the real question here is: Why does Habib love straw men so much?
2. In the chow section, BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT spends a disgusting amount of money on toast at several restaurants and then complains about restaurants that charge a lot of money for toast. Did she really need to pay $3 for cinnamon toast in order to determine that $3 is too much to charge for cinnamon toast? Would this review, on balance, be much more attractive if it were smacked silly with the common-sense stick?
3. A Little Shop of Horrors review by
CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE is packed with folksy asides. He self-consciously inserts an "um" into a stammering first paragraph intended to mimic the stop-start speech patterns of an overexcited adolescent girl. He continually drops asides to the reader that are supposed to sound friendly but instead ring with condescension, like a drunken, underpaid children's TV show host. ("Funny how horror steps in out of nowhere, isn't it? So anyway, Little Shop of Horrors is about...") Is this an attempt by Frizzelle to appear more salt-of-the-earth, to establish himself as a blue-collar Garrison Keillor type for an aging print-media audience? If so, does this appeal to you? Should it?
4. The film section contains a review by DAVID SCHMADER that does everything a good film review should, along with two film reviews by PAUL CONSTANT that achieve the opposite. Schmader compares and contrasts Nymphomaniac: Volume I with the rest of Lars von Trier's body of work. Constant explains what his idea of a good Muppet movie would look like, and then he wastes three hundred words on a film adaptation of a José Saramago novel without even mentioning that it's an adaptation. (Let's have a hand for your book review editor, ladies and gentlemen.) Both times, Constant reviews his feelings more than the movie on the screen, and gives the reader no idea what to expect or appreciate in the films he's supposedly reviewing. Is Schmader simply using Constant as a decoy, like a moderately attractive man bringing his ugliest friends with him to the singles bar? Does this strategy work?