The last meal is a curious staple of modern executions, not least because it involves, in the words of one death-row inmate, “putting gas in a car that don’t have no motor.” At Lapham’s Quarterly, an essay on the ritual’s history, one that includes mention of famous last meals like terminally ill French President Francois Mitterrand’s final dinner of “Marennes oysters, foie gras, and two ortolan songbirds.”
Tomorrow (January 18th), sites like Wikipedia and Reddit will go dark to protest SOPA. Anyone who’s been online over the past few weeks probably has a vague sense of why this proposed legislation is bad news for the internet as we know it, but Reddit has put up a blog post delving into the language and illustrating the frankly alarming ramifications of its passage.
Fans of Seinfeld and Arrested Development might be interested in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a comedy about a band of hapless, self-interested pub owners in which slapstick hijinks obscure the fact that nothing much ever happens (for example: a wheelchair race/brawl in a mall between two characters pretending to be handicapped to get girls). The first episode of the fifth season premiers this Friday but you can watch past episodes free at FX.
Out this week: The Color Master, a new short story collection by Aimee Bender; an English-language translation of The Infatuations by Javier Marias; and Brief Encounters with the Enemy, the new Saïd Sayrafiezadeh book that Scott Cheshire reviewed for us on Monday. Read more about these and other releases in our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.