Tracy Goodman

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The 100 Books Facebook Users Love

What titles most shaped the site's readers? Harry Potter, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings—and the Bible.<p>A few weeks ago, I started to see a viral status being passed around my Facebook friends.<p>“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way,” it begins. “Don’t take more than a few …

30 Years of Coens: Fargo

The movie that brought it all together<p>In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Coen brothers' debut, <i>Blood Simple</i>, I’m re-watching their 16 feature films and attempting to jot down observations on one per day, in order of their release. For a fuller explanation of what I’m doing and why, see my first …

Alt-Fall Movie Preview 2014: The Wild, the Weird and the Totally True

From Nick Cave and Edward Snowden docs to two new K-Stew dramas, here are your alternatives to the season's sequels and Oscarbait<p>We've spent months …

Movies

The Psychology Behind Costco's Free Samples

Mini pizza bagels? Now we're talking.<p>In 2010, a Minnesotan named Erwin Lingitz was arrested in a Supervalu grocery store after spending an excessive amount of time at the deli counter. In the words of a Supervalu spokesperson, Lingitz had violated “societal norms and common customer understanding …

The Maiden in the Moon

Kate Upton has blithely conquered lad mags, YouTube, Twitter, and even high fashion, which sniffed a bit at her Dougie-dancing, bikini-rocking emergence as the 21st-century Betty Grable. Now that Upton has wrapped her latest film role, in The Other Woman, alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, …

It’s Getting Hot in Here!

Food Network host Guy Fieri’s takedown by The New York Times, Paula Deen’s blithe racism, Nigella Lawson’s domestic split—culinary controversy has been the order of the day. But some scandals are more digestible than others, and the explosions from Gordon Ramsay seem only to feed his fame.<p>Whom the …

Look Homeward, Anjelica

Hers was, in many ways, a fairy-tale upbringing: the swashbuckling father, larger-than-life director John Huston; the beautiful danseuse mother; the rambling Irish estate that was home. Then came her parents’ separation and a move to Swinging 60s London. In an adaptation from her new memoir, …

Darkness in August

Duncan, Oklahoma, takes pride in its homespun image and churchgoing values—though, like many American towns, its soul has been swallowed by chain stores and fast-food restaurants. The old Rock Island tracks literally divide the haves and have-nots, in an increasingly unbridgeable split. Buzz …

A Hollywood Mis-Education

After four decades in Hollywood, the author—a director, screenwriter, actor, and producer—has learned that you can’t: (a) stay mad at Robert Downey Jr., (b) go wrong with Robert De Niro, or (c) swear when you lose the Oscar. Plus: why he and Alec Baldwin decided to color outside the lines.<p>Why make …

How O.J. and Nicole Brown’s Friends Coped with Murder in Their Midst

Twenty years ago today, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered in Brentwood. As the O.J. Simpson murder case consumed the nation, writer Sheila Weller found herself pulled into the victims’ inner circle as she began reporting a book on the case, Raging Heart, that explored the human …

What Life Is Like When You’re Born on a Commune

My parents spent the 1970s on communes: first, a shared house in Boulder; after that, a “self-realization fellowship” in Paonia, Colorado; then the Spring Hollow farm in Tennessee, with a dozen other couples. They were out to save the world, or at least themselves. Peace, love, and …

The Ride of His Life

After an epic drama of destruction and redemption—worthy of, say, a Marvel super-hero—Robert Downey Jr. is figuring out what he’s learned. Exhibit A, in theaters this month: The Judge, the debut feature from the production company Downey has started with his wife, Susan. At the Malibu home he …

The Little-Known Story of How The Shawshank Redemption Became One of the Most Beloved Films of All Time

A dud at the box office when it opened 20 years ago this week, The Shawshank Redemption now perennially tops IMDb’s favorite-movies list—the ultimate in “guy cry” cinema. A story of studio maneuvering, big paychecks deferred, and well-earned roof suds.<p>The odds of a successful jailbreak are never …