Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Small-screen swindlers, a sly magician, and an article you might not believe

Rob Heaps (left), Parker Young, and Marianne Rendon in Imposters (Photo: Ed Araquel/Bravo)


I liked Bravo’s new series Imposters when I reviewed it at the beginning of the season, and with each passing week, I’ve liked it more. It’s the story of gifted grifter Maddie (Inbar Lavi), who marries rich people, then disappears with all of their money. The brilliance of Maddie is that she changes, chameleon-like, to fit the ideal of each person she’s with. When we first meet her, she’s a British Columbian waitress who’s just dumped Ezra; turns out she’s also a football player’s trophy wife and an artistic lesbian. Maddie moving on to her next mark would be fun enough, but Imposters keeps zagging where most would expect it to zig. Those three ex-spouses, for example, team up to find their mutual wife, and in the process become grifters themselves. Then Maddie and her team have to deal with a brutal fixer (Uma Thurman, finally taking over Harvey Keitel’s part in Pulp Fiction), as well as Maddie’s new beau/mark, who may not be what he seems. Bravo is fairly new to scripted series, but its efforts so far (like Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce) have been exemplary. Imposters fits right in as it offers us a riveting dark comedy with compelling performers amid a variety of idyllic landscapes (current setting: Seattle), making for some stylish and sophisticated caper TV. Imposters first season just wrapped this week, but you can easily catch up at Bravo’s website. [Gwen Ihnat]


Magician Tony Slydini

Tony Slydini may not have been a household name, but he was a legendary figure in close-up magic and was admired for his singular style and amaretto-smooth sleight-of-hand techniques. Perhaps his most public fan was talk show host Dick Cavett. Slydini was performing for a group of magicians at a New York restaurant when Cavett stopped by to witness the legendary figure. As Cavett later recalled, “For the magicians, sitting for nearly two hours at that table, sudden gasps and intakes of breath abounded. It was like seeing a man walk up a wall. Nothing prepared you for it.” Cavett—a noted magic enthusiast—was so enamored, he took personal lessons from Slydini. Hoping to share the wonders of Slydini with the rest of the country, Cavett booked his teacher to not one but two entire half-hour episodes of The Dick Cavett Show, now available on YouTube. At age 76 at the time of the tapings, Slydini was as dexterous as ever, performing routines such as “The Helicopter Card” and “Slydini Silks.” [Kevin Pang]

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds,” Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, February 27, 2017

Photo: Barry Goldstein

Like most magazine subscribers, I find it all too easy to fall behind. Especially with a weekly periodical like The New Yorker, miss one or two installments, and suddenly you’re scrambling to flip through the table of contents, scanning to see if anything grabs your eye as you rush to catch up. But for all the times it can feel like an outlet you don’t have time for, I still find myself with a tall stack of articles I’ve excised from its pages over the years, pieces I find inspirational, relevant to my own work, or simply excellent pieces of writing I feel the need to pass on to others. (Sample exchange: Other person: “Have you seen that sporting event?” Me: “No, but Hilton Als wrote this superb piece I’m pressing into your hands right now as you back away slowly.”) And this past month, nothing caught my attention like Elizabeth Kolbert’s excellent breakdown of the problems with cognitive reasoning and emotional bias. I’ve read hundreds of works on this subject—my dissertation covered similar ground at times—but she covers the most recent publications on the subject, exploring why what seems like an idiotic tendency toward ignoring facts and logic was actually an evolutionary necessity in eras past. “Where it gets us into trouble,” she notes, “is in the political domain.” During a time when many are still trying to wrap their heads around the massive gulf in this country between those who voted for Trump and those of us who are biased and willfully ignorant in far different ways, this article is a wonderful reminder of all the ways we’re not nearly as smart as we assume ourselves to be. [Alex McLevy]

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