This Week In Culture: July 11–17, 2020

Stories about new TV shows, a remote ComicCon, and a visitor in the night sky all contributed timely vocabulary to this week's list from the entertainment, tech, and sports worlds.

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  1. avid
    marked by active interest and enthusiasm
    In addition to his work on "Mythbusters," Imahara — an avid science fiction fan — actually worked as one of the very few officially trained operators for the much-adored droid R2-D2 in the "Star Wars" universe.
    TV host and engineer Grant Imahara died of a brain aneurysm at 49. Imahara appeared on the popular show Mythbusters for ten years, and was also one of R2D2's trained operators in three of the Star Wars movies. His death was a shock to his many fans and friends, all of whom praised his intellect, humor, and kindness.
  2. braggadocio
    vain and empty boasting
    The duo go back and forth about different current events, including police corruption, the death of George Floyd, braggadocio and recovery from drug abuse.
    Kid Cudi and Eminem released a new song, titled The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady, along with an accompanying video in which the pair appear as superheroes. They cover a lot of subjects, including the murder of George Floyd and the Trump administration. Braggadocio comes from Italian; the brag- you see in there offers a useful hint at its meaning.
  3. denigrate
    attack the good name and reputation of someone
    "Being female is not just one thing, and showing that breadth of who we can be and the differences within that, that shouldn't be denigrated," she told Salon in a recent and wide-ranging interview.
    Netflix's new film The Old Guard is the first major superhero movie directed by a Black woman. The film, which stars Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne, premiered this week to rave reviews. It tells the story of a small band of immortal humans pursuing a particular form of justice while being hunted by a pharmaceutical executive who wants to use their DNA to make everyone immortal.
  4. impairment
    a reduction in quality or strength
    Both Krawiec and Windsor say they worked with instructors who teach students with visual impairments to develop more accessible versions, like those that don’t rely on pictures, so that participants can solve the puzzles after hearing them through a screen reader.
    Librarians have begun creating virtual escape rooms using Google Forms for bored students stuck at home. Some of their efforts are remarkably complex, entertaining, and of course educational. Some have Harry Potter or superhero themes, and the puzzles can be quite difficult. Some real escape room companies are also making virtual experiences, playable via Zoom.
  5. languid
    lacking spirit or liveliness
    For most of the film, instead of communicating high adrenaline, the pacing is slow, even languid.
    Director Josephine Anderson made a short documentary about three female mountain bikers. While the content is inherently intense and fast-paced, and the subjects discuss their many dramatic crashes and injuries, the film is shot in a slow, dreamlike way to contrast with the content. Languidus means "faint," "tired," or "weak" in Latin.
  6. luminescence
    the emission of light without heat
    Neowise will appear about as bright as a typical star, but you may notice a bit of smudgy luminescence above it.
    The comet Neowise is visible to the naked eye during evenings this week, though it will be clearer through binoculars or a telescope. There's an app to help you locate and track it, and experts recommend getting as far from lights as possible for the best viewing experience.
  7. malign
    speak unfavorably about
    But while it’s easy to malign the group for its stumbling, it is by no means alone.
    Some country music artists are responding to institutional racism in their industry. In addition to the Dixie Chicks dropping the "Dixie" from their name, Lady Antebellum — antebellum being Latin for "before the war," a reference to the South before the Civil War — changed their name to Lady A. The problem is that there's already a Black blues singer using that stage name, and the band's attempt to resolve the conflict amicably quickly turned sour and resulted in a lawsuit.
  8. plausible
    apparently reasonable, valid, or truthful
    New London is a gleaming and wholly plausible paradise for people like Lenina and Bernard, as well as an obvious dystopia for anyone unlucky enough to be born at Cjack 60’s rank.
    NBC launched its new Peacock streaming service with free and paid tiers of subscriptions. The paid levels can watch new programming made specifically for the new channel, including a version of Aldous Huxley's famous 1932 dystopian science fiction novel Brave New World. Reviewers say that the show looks beautiful, but the writing isn't as compelling as the original book.
  9. salvage
    save from ruin, destruction, or harm
    So when they canceled Comic-Con in April, organizers decided they had to try to salvage the event in a much more robust fashion online.
    ComicCon, one of the biggest conventions in the U.S., had to cancel for the first time in 50 years. The organizers put together a series of virtual events, called ComicCon@Home, that they hope will be a fun and engaging consolation for tens of thousands of disappointed fans. The events will take place during the convention's original dates, from July 22–26, and will include panels, contests, and screenings.
  10. undertaking
    any piece of work that is attempted
    The Redskins’ announcement comes a little more than a week after the organization released a statement saying it would be undertaking a “thorough review” of its name, a process the team said in Monday’s announcement has “begun in earnest.”
    The Washington Redskins announced that they will be changing the team's name, but no information about the replacement was forthcoming. The team resisted call to change the name for decades, but relented after many of its major corporate sponsors said they would withdraw their support if the change wasn't made. New signs, uniforms, and merchandise must be created before the season begins on September 13.
Created on July 15, 2020 (updated July 17, 2020)

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