“If You Love Somebody, Set Them On Fire”: 26-plus masters of clever/weird/cheeky song titles 

1. Robert Pollard/Guided By Voices 
The remarkably prolific Robert Pollard has a seemingly inexhaustible ability to produce song after song, so it’s a good thing he has a gift for colorful titles to attach to them. While Pollard’s hit-to-miss ratio is famously variable, his gift for crafting songs that at least sound

Parents strongly cautioned: 16 parental nightmares played out in culture

1. Childbirth process gone wrong
Kids are an easy, obvious button for storytellers to press. So many people are instinctively sentimental about infants, children, and all the iconography of childhood that it’s simple to prompt a massive emotional response by writing a story that endangers or harms a child in some way.…

Nice work, if you can get it: 22 nichey job fields we aren’t taking advantage of in fighting unemployment

1. Ghostbuster: Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Extreme Ghostbusters, etc.
America’s unemployment rate is falling again, but not fast enough to satisfy the vast crowds of people thrown out of work by the recession. And the jobs that are available aren’t necessarily satisfying, challenging, or well-remunerated. We don’t…

“You drink for the wrong reasons”: 20-plus functional pop-culture alcoholics

1-2. Nick and Nora Charles, The Thin Man series
Introduced in Dashiell Hammett’s 1934 novel The Thin Man, Nick and Nora Charles are pop culture’s prototypical bickering married couple, as well a template for subsequent husband-and-wife sleuthing teams. But they’re best remembered as a pair of perpetually pickled…

Basement tapes and cabin fever: 24 unconventional recording spaces

1. Vernon family hunting cabin (Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
There’s no more obvious example in recent years of a recording locale becoming an integral part of an album’s legend than the Northern Wisconsin cabin where Justin Vernon recorded his debut as Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago. As recounted in nearly every…

Start with a bang: 19 films and TV episodes that open with a sex scene

1. Laurel Canyon (2002)
In most American stories, sex (or at least the romantic hookup that implies sex to come) is the culmination and goal of the story, not the beginning. So opening sex scenes tend to either say something specific about the participants’ compatibility (usually “Look at this happy couple! It’s all…

Turkey wraps and dead dogs: 10 higher-education malcontents in pop culture

Milo Burke, The Ask
Milo Burke failed to make it as a painter and ends up working as professional ass-kisser at an unnamed New York City college’s fundraising—er, “development”—office. Neither his mindset nor novelist Sam Lipsyte's lean, relentlessly funny prose try to dress up these facts. The Ask’s chief symbol is…