TIME Parenting

This Is How to Stalk Your Teenage Children Online

MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN
Jennifer Garner plays an intenet snooping mother in Paramount's Men, Women & Children Dale Robinette—Paramount Pictures.

One mother comes clean

I knew I had to be very careful when choosing a fake online identity with which to stalk my kids. It needed to be somebody that my children would want to be friends with, but not close friends, somebody who might plausibly notice them, but they might not notice being noticed by.

That’s how I ended up becoming Clara Lemlich. She was a leader of a massive strike of female shirtwaist workers in New York City more than a century ago. Logically, a modern Clara would be interested in clothes and young women, exactly what both my teenagers are interested in.

It’s well-known that only loser teenagers befriend people who don’t already have friends so I rounded out Clara’s profile by prefriending a whole bunch of people I knew my kids (a 13 year old girl and 16 year old boy) would find cool. That noted labor organizer, Channing Tatum, for example.

Given Ms. Lemlich’s areas of expertise, it’s not weird or creepy or anything that my children might crop up on her radar. Well, perhaps it’s a little creepy. I mean, if I were their mother and I saw some random adult pretending to be a dead union activist looking at their photos on Instagram, I’d be alarmed. But I am their mother, so …..anyway, I digress.

My ruse made just enough sense that when Clara Lemlich started following my kids, she seemed both acceptable and ignorable; they took the bait. Online friends are after all, more desirable for their quantity than their quality. The only person my children do not want to add to their list of followers is me.

Surely, you’re saying, there’s some more upfront, reasonable, less sneaky way to do this. Experts recommend, for example, that you have all your children’s passwords and make sure that you have full access to all their social media sites. To which I say: bwahahahahaha. Good luck. You will never get ahead of your teenagers on nefarious uses of technology. I’ll wager young Rory Gates has already figured out at least one way to digitally outsmart his dad, Bill.

In the new movie Men, Women & Children, Jennifer Garner plays a mom trying to do exactly what those parenting gurus recommend. She has all her daughter’s passwords. She tracks her daughter on her iPhone. Her computer records every website the girl has visited, every text her phone receives and every person who texts her, just to make sure there are no predators. (Her daughter goes along with all of this, because her daughter is a completely fictional construct.)

I’m not worried about predators. I pity any poor perv who tries to get my kids off the couch. But like Garner’s character Patricia, I do worry that what the kids are posting might blow back on them later. As Patricia says: “our children will be the first generation whose lives have a searchable database.”

That’s why I felt I needed Clara Lemlich. The Internet is too vast and labyrinthine to be mapped. Parents can’t give their offspring a guidebook or a list of dangerous neighborhoods, even if they knew them. They can’t warn them ahead of time to avoid doing something that might later seem terrible. But this public vast world is also holdable in one hand; It’s as if their bus pass could allow them to time travel. And strip when they get there.

But once I had successfully Trojan horsed my way into my kids’s online lives, I found their cities somewhat lacking in drama. There were no fights to join. Their activities mostly consist of friends being excessively complimentary of each other and excessively unpleasant about strangers. It’s narcissistic but not dangerous. The biggest infraction my daughter seems to be guilty of is copyright infringement: she’s posting photos I took. Without attribution.

So I’m outing Clara Lemlich. Hi kids, it’s me. Isn’t this Instagram thing fun? Of course, they don’t follow me on social media, so they’ll never know.

TIME movies

Robin May Be a Woman in the Batman v Superman Movie

"St. Vincent" New York Premiere
Actress Jena Malone attends the New York Premiere of "St. Vincent" at the Ziegfeld Theater on October 6, 2014 in New York City Mike Pont—FilmMagic

Holy casting rumors, Batman!

As if Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn’t already packed with superheroes (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, to name a few), NBC is reporting that Robin will also be in the film—and she will be played by Jena Malone.

Yep, that’s right: Robin’s a she. An extra anonymously told NBC news affiliate WILX-10 that the Hunger Games: Catching Fire actress is filming scenes this week with Ben Affleck, who plays Batman, and Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Lex Luthor. This could explain why Malone has lately been sporting red hair. Two weeks ago, the actress Instagrammed a pic of her new fiery locks with the caption, “Drastic times call for drastic measures.”

Making Robin a woman, though, isn’t all that drastic. Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman movie is reportedly based largely on Frank Miller’s comic The Dark Knight Returns, in which Batman’s sidekick is a woman named Carrie Kelley. In the comics, Kelley—obsessed with the Dark Knight—saves him from some bad guys in order to win his trust and become the new Robin.

This information comes to you at a potentially high price: The extra who leaked the news could be fined a staggering $5 million after signing a non-disclosure agreement to Warner Bros.

TIME Music

Hear Gwen Stefani’s Solo Comeback Song ‘Baby Don’t Lie’

A decade after she made her solo debut with Love. Angel. Music. Baby., Gwen Stefani is ramping up her 2014 comeback tour with “Baby Don’t Lie,” the brand-new single from the No Doubt frontwoman’s as-yet-untitled third solo album. (That’s not all she’s planning: in addition to serving as a coach on The Voice, the singer says she’s writing new music for No Doubt, too).

Stefani wastes no time pulling out the big guns for her return to dance music. Radio favorites Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic, Beyoncé), Benny Blanco (Kesha, Katy Perry) and Noel Zancanella (Maroon 5) are among the co-writers and co-producers on the track, which perhaps explains why “Baby Don’t Lie” isn’t quite as left-field and forward-thinking as her debut. Back then, she indulged her Japanese street-style inspirations, teamed up with No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal to raid the closet of 1980s pop and made high-concept dance tracks with Björk producers years before pop’s EDM fascination took off. Few songs on that album sounded like hit singles until they became ones. “Baby Don’t Lie,” on the other hand, though bulletproof, is what you’d imagine a hit song in 2014 would sound like before you even hear it.

In less capable hands, “Baby Don’t Lie” would leave a weaker impression, but Stefani and all her vocal idiosyncrasies find a way to make it her own. The singer has written many a great song about falling in love with someone who’s got a few skeletons in their closet, and “Baby Don’t Lie” is a worthy entry into that oeuvre. Consider this the amuse-bouche for whatever next-level music of hers Pharrell promised is coming.

TIME Video Games

Is This Really the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Launch Trailer?

Activision's near-future military adventure starring Kevin Spacey as the head of a rogue private military company arrives in just a few more weeks.

I don’t see a lot of gameplay in this pithy less-than-a-minute trailer, so I’m not sure why Activision’s calling it a “gameplay” trailer. Just excise that word and it works: type “Official Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Launch Trailer” and you’re golden. But by using the designator “gameplay,” I’m betting it’s not the last “launch trailer” we’ll see.

When I first glimpsed it on Saturday, the trailer had 300+ views. Now it has over 5.3 million. It’ll doubtless double that in another 48 hours. That’s the power of a Call of Duty.

There’s a little more to see here, but it’s not much. The same clips already shown in previous trailers pop in, abridged. The new stuff–and is it all new stuff? I can’t tell–amounts to 1-2 second clips of people in EXO suits doing impossible things, each of which Call of Duty-philes will obsess over.

The game is out November 4 (November 3 for Day Zero edition buyers) for this- and last-gen PlayStation and Xbox systems as well as Windows. It looks terrific in this trailer, a collage of rainbow-plaited tracers and pluming squibs and mo-cap Kevin Spacey smirking in a suit. And I’m still hopeful that, though it’s clearly rooted in the ballistic-power-fantasy school of design, the game has some subversive fictive tricks up its sleeve.

It’s one of these what-games-can-be questions for me (and I include the storytelling angle in my definition of “game” here–it’s a holistic thing). I’m definitely not from the “Who cares about the narrative, does it shoot good?” school of thought. If Beau Willimon and David Fincher can use an actor like Kevin Spacey to tell a politically nuanced tale that slyly comments on current affairs, why can’t a piece of interactive entertainment starring Kevin Spacey do the same?

TIME Television

Manhattan, the TV Season’s Secret Weapon

MANHATTAN
Greg Peters

This drama about the race for the atomic bomb showed in its first season that, just like in nuclear science, powerful forces can come from small things.

I cannot always pretend to understand this new age of television, with its surfeit of TV series from websites and tiny channels and online bookstores. But I am enjoying it.

Take Manhattan, the richly textured period drama about scientists trying to create the atomic bomb, in Los Alamos, N.M., during World War II. It comes from WGN America, the cable-broadcast “superstation” that’s trying to rebrand itself with original scripted dramas. (The first, the loopy supernatural serial Salem, debuted earlier this year.) It’s created little pop-culture buzz. (It’s apparently being recapped only at a few sites, chief among them Scientific American and Popular Mechanics.) It’s drawing live ratings well under a million, with its 18-49 advertising-demo audience practically a rounding error.

Yet it was recently picked up for a second season. How does this work? Is it a loss leader? Has WGN figured out, like the architects of nuclear fission, how to extract tremendous power from a tiny mass of viewers? I have no idea. But its season finale, “Perestroika,” left me very happy that somehow it’s working.

Manhattan began as one of those shows that seemed just good enough–one of the growing mass of competent cable series that I might watch regularly if I had 72 hours in a day. I would fall behind and catch up, but as it went on, it grew into something special. Like Masters of Sex, it used a fictionalized version of history to tell human stories at the same time, while dramatizing the excitement of scientific discovery.

Through the families of the scientists brought to the middle of nowhere for who-knows-what, it asked, what are the unintended costs of a culture of secrecy? Through the internecine competition of the bomb-race, it asked, where’s the line between necessary ambition and self-aggrandizement? And through the politics and paranoia of the project, it asks, how much individual sacrifice is acceptable in the name of a greater good?

“Perestroika” brought those themes to crisis while setting up the series strongly for a second season–in particular, through Frank Winter’s decision about whether to let Charlie twist in the wind, accused of espionage, rather than spill about the breach of compartmentalization. With the Thin Man project now over–and Reed fatally out of the way–his implosion program is the only game in town. He’s won, and all he needs to do to keep winning is to cut Charlie loose, one more unfortunate case of collateral damage, like Sid Liao.

Why he doesn’t, but rather arranges to be “caught” telling Liza what they’re really doing out in the desert, is an intriguing question. It may simply be human guilt. But there may be a larger recognition that once you accept the win-at-all-costs mentality and let it go unchallenged, there’s no telling whom it will claim. It’s understandable that people like Frank would develop a Messiah complex; after all, they’re being treated like messiahs, with the individual power to stop the slaughter of millions and save the free world. As Babbit (an excellent Daniel Stern) tells Frank, “It doesn’t matter that you’re a good man. Maybe a good man couldn’t have made implosion work.”

But their power is also terrifying to those who rely on them. Having to place so much faith in these inscrutable eggheads creates suspicion and resentment in the powerful, from the menacing Occam to the Secretary of War (Gerald McRaney), who bellows at Oppenheimer for selling the President “a Buck Rogers fantasy.” (In real life, after all, Oppenheimer was dogged by red-baiting accusations.) The godlike power of these physicists makes them invaluable and suspect at the same time. It may be that the prospect of unleashing such a tremendous power had led Frank to realize that win-at-all-costs is not longer a sustainable doctrine. Maybe we do still need good men.

Manhattan‘s first season hasn’t been flawless; its themes and exposition can be clumsy, and the production seems a little threadbare. But it’s been a fascinating twist on the disparate-soldiers-thrown-together-in-a-foxhole war story, following people whose wisdom doesn’t always match their intelligence. Even Frank, in his revelation to Liza, suggests a kind of sad-in-retrospect naivete, predicts that thanks to their work, “There will never be another war.” If there’s one thing Manhattan‘s first season showed us, people will always find reason to fight–even when they’re on the same side.

TIME White House

Richard Nixon’s Comic Genius

NIxon's The One
Harry Shearer as Richard Nixon, with Henry Goodman as Henry Kissinger Ollie Upton—Sky Arts

Richard Nixon was imitating comedians, says the comedian who's imitating him

Most Americans think they have a pretty good idea of Richard Nixon: Checkers speech, Watergate, resignation.

Which is why Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons actor Harry Shearer decided to debut his Richard Nixon series, Nixon’s The One, in the U.K. The show, for which the scripts came from actual transcripts of Nixon’s Oval Office tapes, debuts for American audiences on YouTube on Tuesday — and people who think they know Nixon may be surprised, the actor says.

That’s because the Richard Nixon of Nixon’s The One is, in many ways, a comedian. Shearer and his co-writer Stanley Kutler, the historian who played a major role in getting those tapes released publicly, spent hundreds of hours listening to the tapes in search of “bizarre, funny, spooky, crazy, weird conversations” that weren’t necessarily about major world events but that shed a light on the President’s day-to-day character. Because many of the tapes had not been transcribed, as they were irrelevant to the Watergate investigation, they relied on logs of his Oval Office meetings to guess which tapes would contain conversations about the themes in which they were most interested; when they did listen, the tapes were often muffled and hard to decipher. And Shearer, who had played Nixon before, found that he had to do extra research in order to capture a relaxed version of the President, who was rarely seen in such a state publicly.

“One of the ways I try to figure out people is to figure out who are they imitating,” he says. “It struck me that the stance that I saw Nixon take when he was relaxed was imitative of the two most relaxed comedians of his era, Bob Hope and Jack Benny. He was sort of doing them, so I did him doing them.”

Nixon’s comedic side came out in particular in the scene prior to Nixon’s resignation, which was caught on camera rather than by Nixon’s audio recorder. In the minutes before he went on air, he joked with the camera crews, a choice that had long struck Shearer as odd, especially considering Nixon’s lack of affection for small talk. In the course of rehearsals, however, the actor came to believe that the joking was for a reason: “He thought, I believe, that these guys on the crew are going to go back home and talk to their families and say he wasn’t upset, he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t sad, he was nice, he even wished us Merry Christmas,” Shearer explains. “It was the start of the next campaign, to rehabilitate his reputation.”

See an excerpt from that segment of Nixon’s The One:

And, says Shearer, the whole arc of Nixon is a comedy — or rather a tragicomedy — in its deep irony: Nixon was a self-made man, and then he became a self-destroyed man. “There’s something quite elegant about that,” Shearer says. “He sort of wrote the perfect punchline for his own joke.”

Read more: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Richard Nixon

TIME Television

The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Strangers’

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC.

Episode two is a mostly meditative palate cleanser before what will surely be a gory continuation

Episode two of the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead is titled “Strangers,” but it might as well have been called “Meditations” or “Aphorisms.” The bulk of the episode is composed of multiple, one-on-one ruminations on the fundamental question (after basic survival) for our group: how to be in this world.

Carol and Tyreese, Rosita and Abraham, Bob and Sasha, Carl and Rick, Carol and Daryl all take part in these brief discussions at the beginning of the episode. Rick tells Carl, summarizing his world view, “You are not safe,” in pretty much the exact opposite speech of the one given every day by every helicopter parent everywhere. Bob, in contrast, comes to a more optimistic conclusion: “This is a nightmare, and nightmares end.” (More on Bob’s nightmares later.) Michonne, who doesn’t have her samurai sword anymore, expresses an anti-materialistic worldview. She doesn’t miss her blade, she misses her friends who have died. (I miss her samurai sword.)

The stranger we meet is Gabriel, a world-weary pastor without a flock. In Christianity, Gabriel is the angel of God’s revelation, the messenger who comes to earth to tell people important things they should probably know, like a holy low balance alert. He tells Mary about Jesus, for example. This Gabriel, in contrast, is anxious, frightened, barfy. He tells the group he is a pacifist, having neither killed the living or the undead since the outbreak. The writers, in other words, paired the group’s self-searching with the meeting of a character who supposedly should have the BIG answers.

(Gabriel is portrayed brilliantly by Seth Gilliam, who played Sergeant Ellis Carver on HBO’s The Wire. Though, given his illustration in the comics I would have thought another Wire actor, Andre Royo who played Bubbles, might have been a better fit.)

Gabriel leads some of the crew to a canned food repository to get supplies, while Abraham and Eugene try to fix a broken down short bus that, they hope, will take them to Washington, D.C. The cans are submerged in about four feet of water and obstructed by about a dozen very water-logged walkers. When a walker was pulled out of the well on Herschel’s farm back in season two, it was a terrifying and pivotal plot point. Now, melty zombie faces are just par for the course.

Back at Gabriel’s church, it becomes clear he is hiding something. He’d panicked at the food storehouse when he saw a walker wearing church-lady glasses and Carl has found scratch marks on the outside of the church, suggesting it was locked from the inside. Somebody also took the time to carve “You’ll burn for this” on the side of the church before being bitten to death. Rick tells Gabriel we all have secrets but that if his threaten the group, he will kill him.

What happened exactly, we’ll surely find out. But Gabriel is an interesting new character for a number of reasons. He recalls Graham Greene’s whisky priest, the ordained man with obvious moral failings. (Gabriel’s not an alcoholic, but he is obviously a coward.) Think Friar Tuck or Robert Mitchum’s character in The Night of the Hunter. He is interesting because his moral quandaries are singularly different from everybody else’s. He isn’t grappling with kill-or-be-killed. He’s grasping with his own failings, personal sin outside of the basics of survival. He’s a pre-apocalyptic figure in a way.

The show ends on a double set of cliff-hangers. Daryl and Carol see the car that kidnapped Beth last season and go on the hunt. Poor Bob meanwhile is captured by Gareth and some of the surviving Terminus members. When Bob comes to, Gareth gets his turn at answering the “how to be?” question, making the case for the ultimate pragmatism being cannibalism. In one of the show’s more deliciously gruesome twists, the camera pulls back to reveal that everybody is having a fine old meal on roasted Bob leg. Ew.

Zombie Kill Report
1 gun handle to the face by Michonne; 1 bullet to the head by Carl; 3 blunt force traumas to the head by Rick, Michonne, Carol; 1 arrow to the skull by Daryl; 11 sharp objects to the waterlogged face by multiple; 1 knife to the throat by Carl.
Estimated Total: 18

New credits!
Unless I missed this last episode, the credits have been redone to reference more recent and upcoming scenery.

Was Bob infected or what?
Moments before the Termians knock Bob unconscious and drag him away, he’s looking at the church and begins to ball. What’s up with that? Did something happen—a cut? a bite? pukey zombie water in the mouth that infected him? If that’s the case Gareth and company are not eating the finest quality meat…

TIME movies

Leo DiCaprio Teams With Netflix on Endangered Gorillas Documentary

8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards - Arrivals
Leonardo Dicaprio at the 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards at Sheraton Times Square on Sept. 21, 2014 in New York. Michael Loccisano—Getty Images

Virunga hits Netflix and select theaters on Nov. 7

Leonardo DiCaprio is coming to Netflix — but not in the way you might expect.

The actor is teaming up with the streaming giant to release Virunga, a documentary directed by Orlando von Einsiedel that takes a look at gorilla preservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie follows a team of park rangers, one of whom is a former child soldier, as they try to protect endangered mountain gorillas from poachers.

The movie, executive produced by DiCaprio, will hit Netflix and theaters in Los Angeles and New York City on Nov. 7.

“Leo intuitively understands that there is nothing like the power of film to reach people’s hearts and minds,” Ted Sarandos, Neflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “With Virunga, we’ll work with Leo to introduce viewers around the world to an incredible, gripping story that will have audiences guessing right up until the final act.”

[THR]

TIME Television

Letterman Cue-Card Holder Canned After Writer Altercation

The Late Show With David Letterman Resumes Filming
NEW YORK - JANUARY 02: A general view of the exterior of the Ed Sullivan Theater during a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman on Jan. 2, 2007 in New York. Bryan Bedder—Getty Images

“I know I shouldn’t have put my hands on him”

A cue-card holder for CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman says he lost his job after getting into a physical altercation with a co-worker.

Tony Mendez says he grabbed a writer for the show, Bill Scheft, by the shirt on Oct. 9, which resulted in his dismissal, the New York Post reports.

69-year-old Mendez, who says Letterman wasn’t aware of the conflict between him and Scheft, told the Post that the outburst had been “coming for a long time.” Scheft declined to comment to the Post.

“I know I shouldn’t have put my hands on him,” Mendez said.

A spokesperson for Worldwide Pants, Letterman’s production company, declined to comment on the matter, according to the Associated Press.

Mendez joined Late Show in 1993.

TIME Books

Toni Morrison’s Papers to Be Housed at Princeton

Toni Morrison, Nobel prize winning novelist, at the Hay Festival on May 27, 2014 in Hay-on-Wye, Wales.
Toni Morrison, Nobel prize winning novelist, at the Hay Festival on May 27, 2014 in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. David Levenson—Getty Images

The Nobel Prize winner taught at the university for 17 years

Princeton University is the new home of various writings and manuscripts from Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison, the school announced Friday.

The collection includes more than 180 linear feet of documents, including early versions or proofs of many Morrison novels, such as Song of Solomon and Pulitzer Prize winner Beloved. The 83-year-old served on Princeton’s faculty for 17 years.

“Toni Morrison’s place among the giants of American literature is firmly entrenched,” University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement. “This extraordinary resource will provide scholars and students with unprecedented insights into Professor Morrison’s remarkable life and her magnificent, influential literary works.”

Archivists will prepare the documents to be available for research over the next year.

Morrison taught creative writing at the university from 1989 until 2006, when she retired. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, and the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1998, as well as many other honors and awards.

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