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Sitdown Sunday: How concerns grew about Bruce Willis's health

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/Celil Kirnapci

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Who makes a victim?

The story of Mackenzie Morrison, who was accused by her university of misrepresenting her childhood abuse.

(The New Yorker, approx 48 mins reading time)

Mackenzie began documenting her life with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Henry Lovelace, Jr., a personal trainer who had won the Missouri Strongest Man Championship in his weight group. Two days after starting the journal, in March, 2014, she wrote an entry about a head injury she’d suffered three months earlier. She had been hospitalized for four days at St. Luke’s, where her mother worked. “Mom heard her tumble, thought maybe tripped going up the stairs,” the medical records said. Mackenzie told the hospital staff that she didn’t remember what had happened. 

2. Buzzfeed problems

As Buzzfeed made yet another round of staff cuts – laying off much of its news staffers – a former employee writes about what made it great, and what they think about the last few years for the site.

(The Nation, approx 14 mins reading time)

It was fun as hell. New hires were starting every week, and we’d go out for drinks what felt like every night. I wrote silly posts (along with a few actual stories) and listened in on serious journalists’ phone calls. There was seltzer on tap, an endless enthusiasm for trying new things, and a sense of delight that we were—as many disgruntled commenters noted over the years—getting paid to do this. For a few years, there was a weightless feeling to all of it, as if we could do or be anything, as if we had figured out how to speak a language that no one else in the media business understood.

3. Mothers on environmental activism

Women talk about how motherhood affected their focus on the environment and their activism.

(Green News, approx 3 mins reading time)

“Whenever I feel dejected, running out of steam and running into brick walls, I remember what they are facing, and I get back in there,” she said. “It’s too important to wallow in self-pity and give up because that means I’m giving up on their future.” At a recent local climate rally, Elaine’s own children came along to watch her address the crowd – and their presence and “seeing how proud they were of me” buoyed her as she spoke. 

4. Bruce Willis’s health

Concerns about the actor Bruce Willis’s health have been shared in Hollywood for years – this story breaks down what has been happening, leading up to the news that Willis has the condition aphasia.

(LA Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

These individuals questioned whether the actor was fully aware of his surroundings on set, where he was often paid $2 million for two days of work, according to documents viewed by The Times. Filmmakers described heart-wrenching scenes as the beloved “Pulp Fiction” star grappled with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember his dialogue. An actor who traveled with Willis would feed the star his lines through an earpiece, known in the industry as an “earwig,” according to several sources. Most action scenes, particularly those that involved choreographed gunfire, were filmed using a body double as a substitute for Willis.

5. Nicolas Cage

An interview with the frankly iconic actor Nicolas Cage.

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(GQ, approx 30 mins reading time)

What I encountered instead was something more surprising: a human being who has been to some serious depths, much of it public, much more of it not, and emerged with a new and better understanding of himself and his life. He has spent recent days this winter mostly inside, reading scripts and watching movies and preparing to welcome a baby with his wife of a year, Riko Shibata. They have the names picked out already: Akira Francesco for a boy and Lennon Augie for a girl. “Augie was my father’s nickname. And my uncle”—the director Francis Ford Coppola—“has decided to change his name to Francesco,” he says, excitedly showing me the two-month ultrasound on his phone. “I think it’s so sweet. It’s like a little edamame. A little bean.”

6. Cyberstalking

A man named Matthew Hardy cyberstalked people – some for years, frightening them to serious degrees.

(The Guardian, approx 17 mins reading time)

This stalking could go on for years. Sometimes, the stalker spread lies about the victims to her friends, family and colleagues: that she was having an affair with her boss, or even her stepdad. The stalker would hack into the victim’s social media accounts, or create fake accounts in her name. He would pose as the victim to have sexually explicit conversations. He would even send stolen intimate photographs of her. 

… AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In this story from 1986, Calvin Trillin writes about the life and career of the top crime reporter Edna Buchanan.

(The New Yorker, approx 35 mins reading time)

All connoisseurs would agree, I think, that the classic Edna lead would have to include one staple of crime reporting—the simple, matter-of-fact statement that registers with a jolt. The question is where the jolt should be. There’s a lot to be said for starting right out with it. I’m rather partial to the Edna lead on a story last year about a woman about to go on trial for a murder conspiracy: “Bad things happen to the husbands of Widow Elkin.” On the other hand, I can understand the preference that others have for the device of beginning a crime story with a more or less conventional sentence or two, then snapping the reader back in his chair with an abbreviated sentence that is used like a blunt instrument. 

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