Things I’m Verbing: Disreputable hometown figures, magically vicious book reviews and Tim Gunn’s perfect shots fired

Okay, goal for the week: No more talking about Donald Trump, especially in re: media failure (not that there isn’t plenty to discuss even without this week’s Matt Lauer farce).

  • Lauer is actually one of the highest-profile alumni of Ohio University, the company of the company town in which I grew up. I was distressed to learn that one of its other famous graduates was none other than gruesome Fox News misogynist Roger Ailes. But there’s nobody better to read up on Ailes with than New York magazine’s Gabe Sherman, and his long feature on the women who took down Ailes is really something else.
  • Mother Jones backed up a first-person account of what it’s like to work at a gun range, from a man who’s spent years in that community. It’s staggering — from dealing with suicides to hosting future mass shooters to watching the rise of paranoia and hatred among its core customers. This presents a narrative about angry old white men that Mother Jones readers want to hear, but all the same, it’s not comfortable reading.
  • I have a complicated history with Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated. When he published the novel, his senior thesis at Princeton, to dazzling acclaim, I was ready to resent him to the ends of the earth. Then I read it and loved it more than I ever thought I would. (A recent attempt at a re-read has proven a little more eye-roll-y, but I still enjoy a lot of what the story does, particularly the Trachimbrod sections.) Foer has just released a new novel, and I’m going to be honest, the savage reviews are delightful. Top of the pile: “With joyless prose about joyless people, Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘Here I Am’ is kitsch at best” from the Los Angeles Times, plus Michelle Dean, writing for The New Republic, in “Me Oh My!” which begins, “You can’t make a woman come just by looking at her. Or so it seemed we all agreed, until the arrival of Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer’s new novel.” Delicious.
  • Designer Tim Gunn doesn’t spare any words or pity for the fashion industry in an op-ed today for the Washington Post. I can’t emphasize enough how much I air-punched at “Designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women. It’s a disgrace.” Even as simply a tall woman with broad shoulders and hips, shopping is so much more difficult than it needs to be. Gunn’s most perfect shots fired: “This a design failure and not a customer issue.” Share this with everyone.
  • I haven’t watched Stranger Things yet, since finding out a college coffee shop co-worker is a writer (so weird!! I have to process), but writer Drew Mackie has taken it upon himself to share more of what we loved (??) about the weird 1980s. He’s collected two hours of strange VHS-tinged TV for your viewing pleasure, separately and all at once. For all us Oregon Trail Generation kids, that we grew up with all this and turned out the way we did doesn’t seem so odd after all.

Things I’m Verbing: The Invisible Hand of Westeros, Evading Spoiler Minefields and the Voice of Turtle Power

For the next week, I have this problem: I want to be on the Internet, and particularly social media, but I also want to go into seeing Captain America: Civil War next Friday without having seen most of it in either leaked clips or people talking openly about spoilers. Concurrently, I’m also eager for any news at all about my favorite TV show, Agent Carter, and whether it’s been renewed. (Surely it would be terrible to cancel this amazing show while Peggy Carter’s surviving crew is dominating silver screens worldwide? Then again, I’m biased and think any circumstances under which we lose Agent Carter are terrible.)

So, I’m not quite in hiding, but I’m enacting any number of precautions to be sure I get my peak #TeamCap experience. Happily, this does mean I’ve found a lot of good stories I’ve enjoyed.

  • We’ve all learned a lot about Prince and the ways he changed the world. I had no idea Prince also lived with epilepsy; Karrie Higgins’ essay “Prince and the Sparkle Brains” is a deeply felt and movingly written look at disability and representation, and a must-read on every level.
  • I’m a big fan of lists, and having recently become a big fan of making comics, I was delighted when Science of Us underscored the benefits of drawing your to-do lists.
  • Pop culture is all superheroes all the time these days, except when it’s taking a breather in Westeros. The Imaginary Worlds podcast has a great episode about, well, the practical concerns of fantasy and sci-fi — namely, “The Economics of Thrones and Starships.”
  • The overlap in the Venn diagram of nerds and book-lovers is huge. LitHub has a nice entry in the ongoing genre of KonMari response pieces, “On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books.” Pair with the Atlantic‘s more socially skeptical piece, “Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter.”
  • This week a friend and I broke out some DVDs I own but had never watched: the early episodes of the ’80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, one of my most formative texts. A close analysis of the famous theme song led us to theorize that the Leonardo voice actor sings it. However, the truth was even better: The voice of a generation is a high-concept session artist named Jim Mandell. He spoke briefly to Dish Nation in 2014 about, among other things, his work as dieselpunk music visionary Miles Doppler. A great mystery of my childhood, solved at last — and weirder than I could have hoped.