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Karol G: ‘A heartbreak can destroy you’ | Culture

It must be pleasant to have an omelette for breakfast with orange juice while your album – your art, your multimillion-dollar business – runs wild on the internet, the numbers skyrocketing.

The global star of the reggaeton movement receives us in her hotel room as she eats eggs and potatoes, washing it down with freshly-squeezed juice.

“The tortilla was delicious,” says Carolina Giraldo Navarro (Medellín, 32 years old) – otherwise known as “Karol G” or “La Bichota.”

She hosted EL PAÍS on Tuesday, February 28. The 32-year-old Medellin-born singer has just released her fourth album: Mañana será bonito (“Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful”). A week after her interview with this newspaper, the songs from the collection would go to the top of the Billboard charts in the United States. She is the first woman singing in Spanish to go to number one.

With the support of her intuitive producer Ovy On The Drums (Daniel Oviedo), she has ensured that Latin urban music – or reggaeton – rules the pop world.

The album is made up of 17 songs where she shines solo or with feats. Among them with her idolized Shakira (post-Piqué), with whom she joined heartbreaks -Shakira post-Piqué; Karol G after her relationship with Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA- to produce the liquid gold that is the song TQG (te quedó grande) -”I was too much for you”-, another record breaker.

Tomorrow will be beautiful got its title because, as the Colombia artist says, yesterday was really ugly. It’s hard to imagine that, as we observe the jovial and intelligent winner, who wears Dolce & Gabbana boots, a hip denim outfit and her flamboyant hair dyed the color of “resurrection red.”

Karol G, wearing a jacket from Javier Guijarro, a top from Sehnsucht Atelier, GCDS jeans and Doc Martens boots
Karol G, wearing a jacket from Javier Guijarro, a top from Sehnsucht Atelier, GCDS jeans and Doc Martens bootsJohnson Lui

The album draws on her healing process, hopping from the rabid melancholy of a breakup to her vitalistic self-improvement. It is rampant and feverish, as befits the voluptuous boss of the perreo world. However, it also has the low tones and bitter verses of the hard-working and conscientious young woman, who supports vulnerable sisters through her charitable foundation.

Karol G is the neighborhood girl, tattooed with female power, with a heart surrounded by barbed wire. Her image contains both pleasure and anxiety: she is both a strong and vulnerable person. Her pleasure-seeking overlaps with discipline and a cerebral nature.

Just 24 hours before her interview, she arrived in Madrid from Miami via private jet. Upon arriving, she had a snack of chocolate with churros in a cafe, while her fans waited outside the door.

“Due to the nerves [caused by] the interview,” she was biting her nails. She shows them to us, with the enamel chipped. “See, and I always have a super cute manicure…”

Q. How are you?

A. Tired, I didn’t sleep at all.

Q. Do you mean that you actually didn’t sleep, or that you slept badly?

A. No, when I say I didn’t sleep, I mean that I really didn’t sleep. I don’t sleep much – my brain is like a motor that I can’t turn off. I’d love to know how, but I can’t.

Even when I manage to fall asleep, ideas wake me up. This has started happening to me in recent years. With all the things I’ve seen – all the things I’ve been able to learn and achieve – my mind seems to fly more. I feel like my head is always flying and thinking about the craziest things.

Q. Your album comes out of a period of darkness, at the end of a relationship.

A. The breakup made me realize that, inside, I was completely unstable – my level of dependency [was high]. When the relationship ended, I felt that I couldn’t do anything anymore and I spent a lot of time devaluing myself. I suddenly believed that I didn’t deserve all the things that were happening in my career.

Q. Girl power fell apart.

A. Totally. It was horrible. My previous album – KG0516 – was incredibly successful at the time, but I didn’t feel like celebrating. I no longer liked what I did – I didn’t like what I saw.

I was vulnerable and people’s cyber-bullying got tougher. It all affected me too much. I got to a point where I didn’t want anything. Love can make you the happiest person in the world… but heartbreak can seriously destroy your life. If you don’t have enough internal strength, falling out of love can confuse you to such an extent that your career, personality, and self-esteem crumble. That happened to me. That’s why it means everything to me that other people can heal with my songs.

Q. And now you’re ok.

A. I’m happy.

Q. In love?

A. I’m having a special moment.

Karol G, wearing a vintage shirt by Metro – a Colombian brand – and Loewe jeans.
Karol G, wearing a vintage shirt by Metro – a Colombian brand – and Loewe jeans.Johnson Lui

Q. Let’s talk about the lyrics in this album. In the song While I heal my heart (Mientras me curo del cora), you sing: “I don’t even miss Ovy in the instrumentals.” How important is the music created by your producer, Ovy On The Drums?

A. Essential. He knows me very well – he even knows my family. For four years, he lived in my house in Medellin. We built the first recording studio together, laying the bricks by hand.

Q. In the song In case we get back together (X si volvemos – featuring Romeo Santos) you sing that “no one trustworthy should be denied a farewell f**k.” Anything to add to that?

A. Sometimes you don’t get along with a person and you’re no longer with them, but you think: “Just this once…”

Q. “You bring the bed and I’ll bring the krippy.”

A. Krippy! It’s a kind of marijuana.

Q. In But you (Pero tú – featuring Quevedo) we hear the lyrics, “you have me wrapped in the booty.” What do you mean by that?

A. The bum. You have a big bum and you have me hooked to it.

Q. In the song Besties, you sing that you go to the club with your friends “with diamonds in the gistro.”

A. (Laughing) Gistro is slang for “thong.” What it means is that we think so much about the details [when we go out] that we even have “diamonds in the registry.”

Q. What does bellaquear mean in your songs?

A. To flirt.

Q. In Gucci the handkerchiefs (Gucci los paños), you said that it was expensive to cry when the “handkerchiefs are Gucci.” Does a Gucci-branded handkerchief get spoiled with tears?

A. You’d be surprised at how a lot of expensive branded clothing is of really bad quality!

Q. So, for heartbreak, you don’t need to buy Gucci handkerchiefs.

A. No, for a heartbreak, toilet paper will suffice.

Q. When you started your career, did you think that, to be a star, you’d have to sing in English?

A. Yes, I thought about that at some point, of course. The biggest reference we had was Shakira… she always did her songs with Spanish and English versions. I took a little while learning English, but when I learned it, I realized that I no longer needed to sing in English for my music to work.

Q. That’s good, no?

A. Yes, truly.

Karol G with a Loewe jacket, a David Albiol vest, shorts from Maison J. Simone and Doc Martens boots.
Karol G with a Loewe jacket, a David Albiol vest, shorts from Maison J. Simone and Doc Martens boots.Johnson Lui

Q. In Ferrari Eyes (Ojos Ferrari – featuring Justin Quiles and Angel Dior) you sing, “and drink and drink and drink… and screw and screw and screw… and light-up, light-up, light-up… and f**k and f**k and f**k… and drink and drink and drink.” Anything to add?

A. Yes, I get asked a lot about that song. You know, in the process of breaking up, you think that, by freeing yourself, you’ll feel better. “I want to drink, I want to drink, let anybody come cause I’m ready”. But later on, you realize that this wasn’t the way either. But at least you had a good time at the party.

Q. What is the Karol G movement?

A. How do I explain that… it’s about an empowered woman who works, who fends for herself, who is strong in difficult situations. I swear that this is somehow reflected in my concerts, in the messages that people write to me…

Q. Do you get bored when you’re asked about feminism?

A. No. What bores me is being asked what it’s like to be a woman in an environment so dominated by men… because it’s not so dominated by men anymore. But I do want to continue talking about feminism in general, because it’s something important and still in development.

Q. Shakira has only done songs in collaboration with three women: Beyoncé in 2006, Rihanna in 2014… and Karol G in 2023. How do you feel about that?

A. What a fright! I still don’t believe it. I wondered for a long time if I would be as talented as this person or that person… I know that there are people who sing better than me, who dance better than me, who are better performers than me… but I have a lot of discipline, I’ve disciplined my talent. I’ve worked very hard to achieve the things that I’ve achieved. It’s hard for me to know that this is reality, but I enjoy it, because I know how much it has cost me.

Q. I’ve read that you love NASA and space stuff. If you weren’t a music star, would you have wanted to be an astronaut?

Q. No. I’m obsessed with it, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be an astronaut, I would have wanted to be a professional motocross racer. I’ve loved [racing] ever since I was a kid.

In the middle of her rise to stardom, the artist is reflective and open to other plans in the long-term. “I don’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life. For five years at least… but staying in this forever would be monotonous.” She is seen here wearing an Alpha Industries jacket and a Calvin Klein top.
In the middle of her rise to stardom, the artist is reflective and open to other plans in the long-term. “I don’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life. For five years at least… but staying in this forever would be monotonous.” She is seen here wearing an Alpha Industries jacket and a Calvin Klein top.Johnson Lui

Q. To go back to Shakira… did you know that, in 1999, she told Gabriel García Márquez that she was more scared of marriage than death?

A. How incredible that she was interviewed by García Márquez! I mean… she’s legendary. And I think that I’m also more afraid of marriage than of death.

Q. What was your childhood like in Medellín?

A. It was a dream childhood, a childhood that no longer exists. I’m from the time when we still played at making swamp fritters.

Q. Swamp fritters?

A. (Laughs). We made arepas out of mud. We used to play in the street… I literally didn’t know what a cellphone was until I was 16-years-old. My family was huge. It was a special childhood.

Q. Despite the socio-political context.

A. Two of my father’s brothers were killed because of the [cartels’] curfews in place in Medellin. After six in the evening, no one could go out, because they [the drug traffickers] were trying to put pressure on the government to negotiate. The way to put pressure was by threatening the entire society – whoever was on the street after a certain hour was killed. Just like that. They had no mercy because they were at war with the government.

Karol G, wearing a Loewe tank top.
Karol G, wearing a Loewe tank top.Johnson Lui

Q. You’ve often thought about ending your singing career.

A. I’ve been making music since 2006. In 2012 was the first time I said I didn’t want to sing anymore, because I was tired of being told that, as a woman, I couldn’t, or encountering any of the indecent proposals from producers and engineers…

Q. Did that happen many times?

A. Yes, it happened a lot. I felt that [those men] were making me lose love for what I liked – which was making music and songs – and if I had to stop respecting myself to get to something, I wouldn’t do it.

But then my dad became my manager. He was very committed. And then, whenever somebody came around with an indecent proposition, I felt super protected with him by my side. It was very important to me.

Q. I recently saw that the news that, in Medellin, a woman – Daniela Rivera – committed suicide by jumping in front of one of the Metro trains with her daughter, who survived. Supposedly, she was escaping an abusive relationship.

A. Machismo is something universal… it seems to have no end. It’s something that we [have to] work on at the foundation. You can’t imagine the stories of girls who no longer want to live.

Q. Your most recent album is titled Tomorrow will be beautiful. What would you say to a fan who listens to your music and knows that tomorrow won’t be beautiful for her?

A. In our culture, we grow up with the idea that we’re not capable or strong enough to achieve things. We distance ourselves from painful situations, when they’re the most evolutionary in the growth process of a person. I can tell you that the last two years of my life – after the pain I have felt – have been the clearest, the happiest.

Q. Maybe she’ll say, “Fine, but I’m not Karol G. She was screwed up and came out of it… but I’m not Karol G.”

A. No, actually, the one who was screwed up was Carolina. Karol G was very good, because her career has gone well. But Carolina learned the greatest things from darkness. Do you know what I mean? When we get to that point, either we learn and leave, or we stay stuck.

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‘Dracula’ in your inbox: Newsletters for reading the classics | Technology

Since the beginning of May, 33-year-old Rafa Baena’s inbox has included an email with the subject line “Dracula Daily: [date email received].” Inside, he finds an extract of Bram Stoker’s original text, which corresponds to that day in the novel. Dracula is an epistolary work, made up of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, all of which are dated. Because the action takes place between May and November, there is the option of reading it as the Dracula Daily newsletter suggests, resisting the urge to devour the book and reading only what corresponds to the day you are on.

Like Baena, 265,000 others around the world receive the emails sent out by web designer Matt Kirkland, who came up with the idea for the newsletter while reading Dracula in the summer of 2020. “My daughter would always ask me ‘what happened today?’ She meant whatever I had read that day, but I realized that the dates were very close to the time we were in, and it occurred to me that it could be read in real time,” he explains. That is, on July 24, you read what the novel says about that date and nothing else. In addition to a change in the usual reading rhythm, that also means altering the order of the original work, which does not always follow the calendar. “I thought it would be fun to read it in chronological order and that an easy way to do this could be a newsletter, someone sending you what to read on the day indicated. Once I had the idea, I saw that it was an easy thing to do and decided to do it,” he relates. In May 2021, he started what he now calls the first “season” of collectively reading Dracula. He had about 1,500 subscribers, which he thought was a great success. In 2022, he decided to do it again, and the newsletter took off: he surpassed 200,000 subscribers.

One of the effects of this mass reading of Dracula in 2022 was the creation of many other similar newsletters. The elements are simple: a work that is already in the public domain and an account with an electronic newsletter service. Not all works lend themselves as well to such a date-specific division, but that is not essential. Some of these literary newsletters simply divide them into parts that can be easily read in an e-mail and set a regular period for delivery; others choose novels where the action takes place over a few months and try to deliver the installments to coincide with it, more or less. For example, the Whale Weekly newsletter began sending out the text of Moby Dick in November 2022 and will continue to do so for two years. They have done some research work beforehand to try to match the timing of the action as closely as possible. Melville doesn’t give exact dates, but it is possible to guess roughly when everything happens from other clues.

Kirkland says that he has lost count of the literary newsletters that have been popping up, but he estimates that there are now over a hundred of them: Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice, the Sherlock Holmes novels, Dangerous Liaisons, Samuel Pepys’s diaries, Edgar Allan Poe’s works, Frankenstein, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall… They are done in the work’s original language or in English.

But why this interest in reading classics in small bites via email? “Serials or serialized stories have already worked at other times in our history and everything comes back around,” explains Elisa Yuste, a consultant who specializes in reading. Moreover, this type of reading “adapts very well to the content consumption habits of the digital era,” she adds. For her part, Dr. Ana Cuquerella, an expert in electronic literature and computational creativity and professor at the University of Villanueva in Spain, points out that “real-time delivery is a mechanism widely used in digital literature,” since it gives “a sense of reality, of updates.” As an example, she cites a 2008 blog, WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier, as the first work she saw that used this style. “It was a blog created by the grandson of a WWI British soldier. The format is epistolary. The entries respect the chronological order in which the original letters were written. A family story becomes the followers’ story; there were thousands of them, eagerly awaiting news from Private Lamin and commenting on what happened with other followers, experiencing it as if it were happening, crying when they sense[d] the tragedy,” Cuquerella says.

Reading via email, commenting on social media

That collective commentary after reading each installment — the same thing that happens with television shows — is a fundamental component of the format’s success. Matt Kirkland is clear about the fact that his Dracula Daily postings exploded in popularity thanks to the activity that emerged on social media, especially Tumblr, where a visit to the hashtag #DraculaDaily (warning: there may be spoilers) shows the full breadth of the content created following each installment: memes, illustrations, linguistic and historical commentary, theories about what is actually happening….

“When readers are immersed in a story they like, a personal bond is created with the narrative elements, and it generates a sense of belonging to the community of fans who share the same passion. Commenting, analyzing and sharing content on social media allows them to express their enthusiasm, connect with other fans and become part of a community that shares similar interests,” says Dr. María José Establés Heras, a professor and researcher in the Department of Applied Communication Sciences in the School of Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid, a specialist in fan studies and transmedia literacy. “This is how fandoms (a neologism created from fan and kingdom, i.e., the realm of fans) of a given cultural product — in this case, Bram Stoker’s novel — are created,” she explains.

Dracula Daily’s success on Tumblr was such that there were even users like Inés, 33, who followed the novel through memes, without ever signing up for the newsletter (she had read Dracula some time ago). “What I liked about the experience was the communal reading, which is how a lot of books used to be read (especially from that era and earlier). On Tumblr, people would comment on everything from silly jokes about a scene to brainy literary analysis and historical context about minutiae. Suddenly, all the characters were alive in their historical moment, and they weren’t doing things for the sake of doing them, it was just that in that era they had to be done that way, it was the expected or necessary thing to do. Or not, and they were breaking the mold. And many of the things that I had observed during my individual reading were things that were clearly there, that everyone could see,” she says of her own experience. This year she started listening to Re:Dracula, a radio version that also publishes its contents according to the dates of the novel. The creator of Dracula Daily is amazed to say that he was asked for permission; he has not been able to follow it regularly. Baena had to leave the reading halfway through “for academic reasons,” although he hopes to complete it in the 2024 edition. “I owe it to the Count, or he will unleash his evil influence on me…,” he says.

Approaching classics in a different way

Inés subscribed to the Dangerous Liaisons newsletters in both the original French and in English. “I’d been wanting to read it for a long time, but it was impossible for me to read such a huge book on my own, and [it’s] from the 18th century, to boot. So, I took advantage of this format,” she says. “I loved it because it’s as if they were writing the letters to me, you get the gossip little by little in real time. It’s fascinating.”

Like Inés, many people are somewhat intimidated by certain classics for reasons that can range from length to language, form or lack of custom, so projects like these can help give new life to these texts for a new audience. “I’ve seen quite a few fans say, ‘I never thought I’d be able to read this book,’” Matt Kirkland notes. A regular reader of Victorian literature, he had not considered that his newsletter could have this effect, but experts in electronic and transmedia literature are not surprised. Ana Cuquerella explains that these types of projects are “alternative ways of getting into the original.” She gives the example of something she does in class. “In every course, I show my students the feeling of rootlessness and hopelessness with a rap by El Piezas… it’s about [Federico Garcia] Lorca’s Romance del emplazado. They don’t know that, but when they listen to it, without exception, they are all able to decipher the underlying message. Then, seeing that this rapper translates it into their language and that they can understand it, they approach Lorca in a totally different way, actively trying to discover what he has to say to them today,” he says.

Literary newsletters do not represent such a dramatic change, but they do bring the text closer to the reader through activity on social media. “I don’t know if you appreciate the details more because of this format [being forced to read little by little] but having thousands of people commenting on each sentence and noticing different things does,” Inés reflects.

Can you say that you have read a classic if you have done so through these bulletins? “If the only thing being done to a work is fragmentation, I personally would say that you are enjoying the original,” says Elisa Yuste. Changing the order, as in the case of Dracula Daily, is another matter. What often happens, Matt Kirkland admits, is that people start with the newsletter and end up going to the book. “Sometimes users who have just unsubscribed from the newsletter write me to explain that it’s not because of anything bad. They just couldn’t wait; they bought the book and have already devoured it,” he says.

Will there be more “seasons” of Dracula Daily? “It doesn’t take too much work, so I guess as long as there’s interest, I’ll keep doing it,” he says. For the moment, the project has already made the leap back to paper: a few weeks ago, Kirkland published a book with the text in chronological order with many of the memes, illustrations and comments that have appeared under the hashtag over these past three years.

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Bill Watterson’s return after ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ adds mystery to his legend | Culture

Writing 43 sentences doesn’t seem like the most loquacious way to break almost 30 years of silence. But you never know with Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, one of the most beloved newspaper comic strips in history. The cartoonist just published The Mysteries, a laconic black-and-white “adult” fable based on Watterson’s story with drawings done in collaboration with John Kascht, known for his elongated caricatures of celebrities.

The Mysteries is the story of a medieval kingdom in crisis, with airplanes flying over newspaper stands and highways, where life is shaped by “the mysteries” alluded to in the comic’s title. “No one had ever seen them, but they seemed to be everywhere. And people lived in suspicion and fear,” the fable begins. Printed on the odd pages of the hardcover book, the drawings are intriguing, a mix of charcoal backgrounds and what looks like photographs of clay models. The 43 sentences construct a morality tale that is open to interpretation. Is The Mysteries a reflection on climate change? Or is it about immigration? Does it talk about the lies of power? Or the dark side of technology? With Watterson, you never know.

Watterson, 65, was born in Washington but soon moved with his parents to Chagrin Falls, a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. The area’s wooded charm served as the setting for the comics he began publishing in 1985. His characters were a bold, imaginative and intelligent six-year-old boy named Calvin and his inseparable conspiratorial friend Hobbes, an extremely sharp animal or a stuffed tiger, depending on how you look at it.

In 1995, Watterson published the last comic strip, in which Calvin uttered one of the most famous lines in the history of comics: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!” Since then, the cartoonist has devoted himself to his own pursuits: cultivating his passion for music, spending time with his family, sabotaging his bank account by refusing time and again to turn his characters into merchandising fodder, and avoiding the spotlight. Like a comic yeti, the same photo of him is almost always in circulation; in it, a smiling Watterson looks up from his worktable. (In recent weeks, some critics have wondered whether the new work might not be a cryptic account of his retirement).

Bill Watterson
Bill Watterson, the creator of ‘Calvin and Hobbes,’ in a photograph from1986.

Watterson hasn’t been completely silent in the nearly 28 years since he left Calvin behind. While he declined to appear in a documentary about him (Dear Mr. Watterson, 2013, available free on YouTube), he has given at least three interviews: one to his hometown paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in 2010, in which he stated that he has never regretted the decision to retire his characters; another to the curiosity website Mental Floss, in 2013; and his most in-depth interview, done on the occasion of the publication of a catalog for an exhibition on his work in 2015. He drew the poster for a documentary on the evolution of newspaper comic strips (Stripped, 2014) and, eight years ago, he also created the poster for the Angoulême festival, which awarded him the Grand Prix for his entire career. In addition, he left his refuge to honor another master American cartoonist, Richard Thompson (1957-2016), the creator of the unforgettable Cul de Sac, and somewhat unexpectedly collaborated with the Pearls Before Swine comic strip.

Thompson was the one who introduced Watterson and Kascht. The Mysteries is the fruit of a decade of collaboration between the two. The February announcement of the project’s existence caused a great stir. After the book’s publication, Watterson made an exception to his silence by releasing a 15-minute promotional video in which the two authors take turns describing the half-finished work in a voice-over.

Watterson wrote the book’s story, which he says he had kept in a drawer for a long time. They imposed a rule on each other: “Neither of us would have the last word. Neither could veto anything or cancel the project. We would only go ahead with what we agreed on,” the creator of Calvin and Hobbes says in the video. As he speaks, images of hands — apparently his own — working on one of the comic’s backgrounds appear on screen. Watterson adds that he “wasn’t looking for an assistant. I didn’t want to be the boss. I wanted a sparring partner, someone whose ideas and skills challenged my own.”

Both describe the struggle between a perfectionist who needs to know where he’s headed at all times (Kascht) and someone who loves improvisation (Watterson). “It would be hard to overstate the incompatibility of our creative approaches,” the former explains in the video. “Now I understand why [rock] bands break up in the recording studio. Our collaboration wasn’t so much a matter of compromise as it was a matter of clashes. It didn’t end up being very smart: we created tons of waste. The truly remarkable thing is that we never got personally angry. We worked from a point of difference in pursuit of a common purpose, which is almost an act of defiance these days.”

Starting over

Watterson recounts that by the end of the first year they hadn’t been able to produce anything together. “So, we started over,” he adds. Kascht created a bunch of clay models of faces of inhabitants of that medieval world and sent them to his partner. They did something akin to casting the models. Nevertheless, the story had a happy ending for Watterson, who concludes in the video: “Collaboration creates friction, but it also creates energy, and sometimes the combination of talents is greater than the sum of its parts.”

The result of that partnership is a strange artifact, which has been received as a disconcerting event in the world of American comics. It has done well on bestseller lists because of the legendary comic strip that was published every week in over two thousand newspapers around the world, including EL PAÍS, but it has disappointed those who expected some trace of the joy and lightness of Calvin and Hobbes.

In a 2010 interview with the Plain Dealer, 15 years after the end of Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson stated, “It’s always better to leave the party early. If I had followed the strip’s popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people who are now mourning Calvin and Hobbes would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for publishing tedious, old strips like mine instead of bringing in fresher, livelier talent. And I would have to agree.” Watterson also left another party — paper newspapers — early (or at the right time), although some like The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times continue the tradition of publishing an offprint on Sundays with comic strips on top of each other, a format that is difficult to translate to a webpage.

To return to the imaginative universe of the boy named after a certain reformist theologian and the tiger inspired by Thomas Hobbes, one must go to the Billy Ireland Comic Book Museum and Library at Ohio State University in Columbus, which houses “the world’s largest collection of cartoons, graphic novels and comic-related materials.” That includes 3,000 originals of the famous comic strip, which Watterson deposited there. In addition to the exhibits, visitors are welcome in the reading room, where they can consult materials from the library’s inexhaustible holdings.

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What’s Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2023? Hint: Be true to yourself | Culture

In an age of deepfakes and post-truth, as artificial intelligence rose and Elon Musk turned Twitter into X, the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.”

Authentic cuisine. Authentic voice. Authentic self. Authenticity as artifice. Lookups for the word are routinely heavy on the dictionary company’s site but were boosted to new heights throughout the year, editor at large Peter Sokolowski told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

“We see in 2023 a kind of crisis of authenticity,” he said ahead of Monday’s announcement of this year’s word. “What we realize is that when we question authenticity, we value it even more.”

Sokolowski and his team don’t delve into the reasons people head for dictionaries and websites in search of specific words. Rather, they chase the data on lookup spikes and world events that correlate. This time around, there was no particularly huge boost at any given time but a constancy to the increased interest in “authentic.”

This was the year of artificial intelligence, for sure, but also a moment when ChatGPT-maker OpenAI suffered a leadership crisis. Taylor Swift and Prince Harry chased after authenticity in their words and deeds. Musk himself, at February’s World Government Summit in Dubai, urged the heads of companies, politicians, ministers and other leaders to “speak authentically” on social media by running their own accounts.

“Can we trust whether a student wrote this paper? Can we trust whether a politician made this statement? We don’t always trust what we see anymore,” Sokolowski said. “We sometimes don’t believe our own eyes or our own ears. We are now recognizing that authenticity is a performance itself.”

Merriam-Webster’s entry for “authentic” is busy with meaning. There’s “not false or imitation: real, actual,” as in an authentic cockney accent. There’s “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” There’s “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.” There’s “made or done the same way as an original.” And, perhaps the most telling, there’s “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features.”

“Authentic” follows 2022′s choice of “gaslighting.” And 2023 marks Merriam-Webster’s 20th anniversary choosing a top word.

The company’s data crunchers filter out evergreen words like “love” and “affect” vs. “effect” that are always high in lookups among the 500,000 words it defines online. This year, the wordsmiths also filtered out numerous five-letter words because Wordle and Quordle players clearly use the company’s site in search of them as they play the daily games, Sokolowski said.

Sokolowski, a lexicologist, and his colleagues have a bevy of runners-up for word of the year that also attracted unusual traffic. They include “X” (lookups spiked in July after Musk’s rebranding of Twitter), “EGOT” (there was a boost in February when Viola Davis achieved that rare quadruple-award status with a Grammy) and “Elemental,” the title of a new Pixar film that had lookups jumping in June.

Rounding out the company’s top words of 2023, in no particular order:

RIZZ: It’s slang for “romantic appeal or charm” and seemingly short for charisma. Merriam-Webster added the word to its online dictionary in September and it’s been among the top lookups since, Sokolowski said.

KIBBUTZ: There was a massive spike in lookups for “a communal farm or settlement in Israel” after Hamas militants attacked several near the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. The first kibbutz was founded circa 1909 in what is today Israel.

IMPLODE: The June 18 implosion of the Titan submersible on a commercial expedition to explore the Titanic wreckage sent lookups soaring for this word, meaning “to burst inward.” “It was a story that completely occupied the world,” Sokolowski said.

DEADNAME: Interest was high in what Merriam-Webster defines as “the name that a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses upon transitioning.” Lookups followed an onslaught of legislation aimed at curtailing LGBTQ+ rights around the country.

DOPPELGANGER: Sokolowski calls this “a word lover’s word.” Merriam-Webster defines it as a “double,” an “alter ego” or a “ghostly counterpart.” It derives from German folklore. Interest in the word surrounded Naomi Klein’s latest book, “Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World,” released this year. She uses her own experience of often being confused with feminist author and conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf as a springboard into a broader narrative on the crazy times we’re all living in.

CORONATION: King Charles III had one on May 6, sending lookups for the word soaring 15,681% over the year before, Sokolowski said. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the act or occasion of crowning.”

DEEPFAKE: The dictionary company’s definition is “an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.” Interest spiked after Musk’s lawyers in a Tesla lawsuit said he is often the subject of deepfake videos and again after the likeness of Ryan Reynolds appeared in a fake, AI-generated Tesla ad.

DYSTOPIAN: Climate chaos brought on interest in the word. So did books, movies and TV fare intended to entertain. “It’s unusual to me to see a word that is used in both contexts,” Sokolowski said.

COVENANT: Lookups for the word meaning “a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement” swelled on March 27, after a deadly mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. The shooter was a former student killed by police after killing three students and three adults.

Interest also spiked with this year’s release of “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” and Abraham Verghese’s long-awaited new novel, “The Covenant of Water,” which Oprah Winfrey chose as a book club pick.

More recently, soon after U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson ascended to House speaker, a 2022 interview with the Louisiana congressman recirculated. He discussed how his teen son was then his “accountability partner” on Covenant Eyes, software that tracks browser history and sends reports to each partner when porn or other potentially objectionable sites are viewed.

INDICT: Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on felony charges in four criminal cases in New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C., in addition to fighting a lawsuit that threatens his real estate empire.

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