The Coen Brothers are no help and never will be. Go ahead and ask them. Fresh Air’s Terry Gross recently tried. She asked them how they write their films. “It’s mostly napping,” Ethan Coen answered. The Coen Brothers have been evading answers for about 30 years now, since Blood Simple came out in 1984. Asked about The Big Lebowski a few years ago, Joel Coen said, “That movie has more of an enduring fascination for other people than it does for us.” This is a game, and the Coen Brothers play it well. Other artists have played the same game at even higher stakes. Thomas Pynchon has been in hiding for 40 years. J. D. Salinger hid for about 50, until his death a couple of years ago. The Coen Brothers simply hide in plain sight. They answer by not answering.

I’m scared of Arthur Rimbaud. Frightening lines like the following can be found in his last collection of poems, Illuminations, newly translated by the great American poet John Ashbery.

Long after the days and the seasons, and the beings and the countries, The flag of bloody meat against the silk of arctic seas and flowers; (they don’t exist.) Recovered from old fanfares of heroism—which still attack our hearts and heads—far from the ancient assas- sins— Oh! The flag of bloody meat against the silk of arctic seas and flowers; (they don’t exist) Sweetness!

What is most troubling about those lines is the way Rimbaud gives us our flowers and then takes them away again, twice. And I hear the word “sweetness” uttered between clenched teeth, with a hiss. This is a man, after all, who once argued that a poet must explore “[a]ll the forms of love, suffering, and madness…. More…

 

The golden age of large-mammal discovery has long since passed. Maybe that’s why the recent news that a police offer and car salesman from Georgia had found the body of Bigfoot was met with both predictable skepticism and a bit of discreet excitement. Nobody’s ever identified a Bigfoot before, so nobody knew exactly how to prove that what the men had was one, but the California-based Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., was willing to take a crack at the problem.

The determination, it turns out, ended up being relatively simple. After buying the frozen “corpse,” the group initially observed that the fur “melted into a ball uncharacteristic of hair.” Further thawing revealed that the head was “unusually hollow in one small section.” An hour later, in the final and most conclusive test, an examiner touched the foot and discovered… More…

Some say he’s a maverick. May be. He’s done his share of things his own way for his own reasons. But that isn’t the part of him that is most interesting.

   Candidates’ Stories

Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope Hillary Clinton: Living History John McCain: Worth the Fighting For

John McCain really grabs your attention when he blows it. When you think about it, McCain blows it far more often than seems possible, or at least survivable, in contemporary political life. But even before that, even as the half-assed soldier he admits that he was, blowing it was part of the picture. His war heroism revolves around getting shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese, and the story finds its climax when McCain signs a false confession under torture and then tries to kill himself out of… More…