WORD LISTS

This Week In Popular Culture: August 17–23, 2019

August 22, 2019
We've scoured this week's entertainment news and rounded up our favorite vocab words from the stories that everyone's buzzing about.
auspicious
The Japanese anime industry is worth $19 billion this year, a record high. Thanks largely to the number of streaming platforms that now carry the animated shows and movies, the market keeps growing even as demand in Japan is shrinking. With so many options to choose from, "best-of" lists can be helpful. "Auspicious" derives from the Latin word for people who watched birds in order to predict the future. If they'd had anime back then we probably wouldn't be lucky enough to enjoy the word today.
"Student council president Miyuki is from a less auspicious family but is one of the most popular students at school."
The Verge (Aug. 17, 2019)
bombastic
This piece marks the tenth anniversary of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards. The author depicts that moment — and the long, complex fallout for both artists — as being the point at which people saw the degree to which such moments can gain a life of their own on social media. Since then, celebrities and publicists (and people who want to be famous) now actively try to create controversy or viral spectacles at every opportunity.
West closed the show, seeming to own all the criticism of the past year by performing the bombastic, vulgarity-filled “Runaway.”
Washington Post (Aug 17, 2019)
expedient
Jennifer Thomas, a Seattle-area classical pianist, burned a piano for her most recent YouTube video. Her dramatic videos have attracted a large audience online, which has translated into successful concert tours. She began shooting videos because she has three children; technology allowed her to get her work into the world without leaving home.
"What started as an expedient substitute evolved into much more."
Seattle Times (Aug. 20, 2019)
gambit
AMC movie theaters have begun offering dynamic pricing in a few cities, where more popular movies cost between 50 cents and $1.50 more than other films. Because of streaming at home, cinemas are seeing a drop in business; AMC executives hope this might help them stay profitable. If it's successful, they'll roll it out nationwide.
"Aron’s bold gambit comes as box office receipts are struggling."
Variety (Aug 21, 2019)
nonplussed
The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle announced completion of their new state-of-the-art composting facility. Every year the zoo turns 625 tons of animal waste into 750 cubic yards of compost that local gardeners buy to fertilize their plants. This makes money for the zoo and saves them $75,000 in disposal costs. You might be nonplussed when you realize that there isn't a single poop joke in this note.
“'I am the pooper-scooper at my house,' said a nonplussed Holiday Anderson, 10."
Seattle Times (Aug 16, 2019)
precedent
"American Factory", the first documentary from Barack and Michelle Obama's production company Higher Ground, is now available on Netflix. The film shows how a Chinese company opened a glass plant in a former car factory in Dayton, Ohio. It won a Director's Award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. "Precedent" is most often seen in a legal context, where judges give great weight to earlier rulings when reaching their decisions.
"At almost two hours, the documentary doesn't drag. Instead, it sets an impressive precedent for the Obamas' forthcoming projects."
USA Today (Aug 21, 2019)
quintessence
Actor Peter Fonda, member of the legendary Hollywood family (son of Henry, brother of Jane, father of Bridget), died this week. Though he starred in many movies, he is best known for his role in "Easy Rider", which he co-wrote and starred in as a free-wheeling hippie testing the limits of the outlaw biker life in 1969. The movie was highly influential and inspired a generation of filmmakers. Dying on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock might be the most Peter Fonda thing of all time.
And they, Fonda above all, represented the quintessence of that era – its creative tumult, idealism, loss and self-absorption – on screen.
The Guardian (Aug 18, 2019)
reprise
A fourth Matrix movie is officially happening, and Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will be playing the leads. Lana Wachowski, half of the sibling team that created the movies, is writing and directing it. "Reprise", a musical term, is also used for actors revisiting roles they have played before. It basically means "do-over" in French.
Lana Wachowski is set to write and direct a fourth film set in the world of “The Matrix,” with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity, respectively.
Variety (Aug 20, 2019)
toque
The Tiny Chef Show, a runaway success on Instagram, features a little green cook who makes a variety of dishes in short films made using stop-motion animation. This technique involves moving the character and props a little bit at a time, shooting a few frames of each new pose. A very slow method — it goes back to the dawn of film — stop-motion gives the resulting movies an adorable quality. In Canada, a "toque" also refers to a knit winter hat, often with a pom-pom on top.
"The chef wore a rainbow-striped apron and a tall, puffy toque."
The New York Times (Aug. 15, 2019)
visceral
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival, and a planned concert to commemorate the occasion was cancelled amidst much confusion. Despite all the reasons it should have failed — disorganization, rain, nearly half a million people — the original concert was an overwhelming success. The joyous spirit of cooperation and celebration that defined the event gave credibility to the hippies' "peace and love" message.
"It was the commonly held convictions of a well-educated group of vulnerable, perhaps naive, young people who empowered one another through a visceral kind of connectedness."
Washington Post (Aug 16, 2019)

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