2014's fast food atrocities
Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.
Even if its author, Lev Grossman, weren’t a colleague and friend, I’d be fervently recommending “The Magicians” to any reader who fell under the spell of Narnia or Harry Potter as a child and looks back on it all with an adult’s ambivalence.
It’s the story of Quentin Coldwater, a glum teenage Brooklynite preparing for his first year of university, who finds himself enrolled instead in a secret college of magic. Like most of the other students at Brakebills, Quentin grew up on a series of children’s novels about a magical land called Fillory, emblem of all the wonder he longs for but that seems forever out of reach. Could his long-denied dreams finally be coming true?
“The Magicians” is a grown-up’s book, one that reflects on the sort of questions you never think to ask about fantasy narratives as a kid, such as: Is it such a good idea to meddle in the politics of a strange country you barely understand? Wouldn’t magical powers drain much of the challenge — and therefore the purpose — out of life? If animals and trees could really talk, would they have anything especially interesting to say?
Instead of deflating the novel’s spell, this skepticism liberates the story from the old fantasy clichés and takes it into exhilaratingly uncharted territory. There are some ravishing episodes (especially a passage in which Quentin gets transformed into a migrating wild goose), and above all an irresistible storytelling momentum that makes “The Magicians” a great summer book, both thoughtful and enchanting.
Check out recent Critics’ Picks:
“The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union,’” by Andrew O’Hehir
“Dollhouse” Season 1 DVD, by Mary Elizabeth Williams
Prada fall/winter 2009 look book, by Stephanie Zacharek
“Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales,” by Laura Miller
HBO’s “Boy Interrupted,” by Heather Havrilesky
Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.
KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.
Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.
Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.
Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.