Have you seen Hidden Figures? You absolutely need to see Hidden Figures, a movie that makes no apologies for its brilliant Black women and for its depiction of the systems that humiliated and suppressed them. I just get really excited whenever I see that it’s doing well, and for a non-scifi film, it’s inspiring some incredible fanart. My favorite is this set of watercolors by Stella Blu, which I very much hope she’ll make available as prints:
I’m looking for inspiring and gorgeous art to put on my walls, given how close we are to the coming four years. Shepard “Obama Hope Poster” Fairey and two other artists are blasting through a Kickstarter campaign to flood Washington, D.C., with resistance images for an inauguration that’s banning large signs; for a $50 pledge, you can get a signed copy of your favorite print, plus unsigned versions of all five stunning images. The wonderful Summer Pierre is also doing limited-edition print runs of her Obama farewell address cartoon, as well as her 2017 resolutions for hope and action — proceeds go to charities addressing hunger and education.
On the personal essay side of things, I’ve also been thinking about spaces this week. At my site Screwball Heroine, “Portal fantasy, Williamsburg, Brooklyn” takes on the interior worlds of depression and the rejuvenating promise of a little retail therapy.
Okay, on to the rest.
- Romper editor and no-bullshit straight-talker EJ Dickson is having a C-section on Feb. 8 and she couldn’t be happier to tell you why. A great essay on women’s bodies, women’s choices and the social pressure to allow others to control both.
- You’d think, from the reporting, that the vast, undifferentiated middle of the country is nothing but working-class whites as far as the eye can see. Alia Hanna Habib grew up Arab-American in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a town as Rust Belt-dead as you could wish for, and her perspective deserves your attention.
- Ariel Aberg-Riger comes from Sheffield, Alabama, another part of the country facing strange political times. Her comic “How Does One Undam?” takes on hometown changes, the Tennessee Valley Authority and what happens to family roots in interesting times.
- Have I missed an opportunity to scare the pants off anyone today? Ned Resnikoff’s “The center has fallen, and white nationalism is filling the vacuum” for ThinkProgress should do the trick. There’s also the horrifying German court decision that an attempt to burn down a synagogue in 2014 wasn’t antisemitic because it was somehow a legitimate expression of protest against the actions of the Israeli government. That… is actually a textbook definition of antisemitism, so… cool.
- It’s no good leaving you curled up in a ball, though, so to bring some joy back into your life: Meet Daliyah Marie Arana, an incredible 4-year-old who has already read more than a thousand books and whose photos with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden have given me hope for the future for once.
Stay brave, friends.
This week, my cousin asked what “verbing” actually means. I have two answers. One is that I wanted something vague-yet-interesting enough to cover the wide range of feelings I have about the news on any given day. “Things I’m Loving” isn’t always accurate, and “Things I’m Reading” is just boring. The follow-up answer is that Calvin & Hobbes is one of my foundational texts.
Hashtag Things ’90s Kids Understand.
And now, onto the news. Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign CEO, sure is worrisome. Vox has a whole genealogy of Breitbart and the alt-right that’s very worth reading. This must mean the Democrats’ foes are formidable, clever and dastardly, right? Able to get away with it all and nothing sticks, because their followers eat it up?
- Oops. Not just that, but it looks like Bannon is actually… committing voter fraud himself, in that he’s registered to vote at a vacant property in Florida that’s set to be torn down soon. Oops.
- Up until Clinton’s speech yesterday explicitly tying the Trump campaign to the racist alt-right, it seemed she was keeping pretty quiet and letting her opponent simply get in his own way. But she’s been facing controversies of her own about the Clinton Foundation, most notably in a misleading AP tweet about her activities related to the foundation while she was secretary of state. John Aravosis refutes the case for wrongdoing in a sensible, astute Twitter thread; my favorite part it this: “[Muhammad] Yunus won the Nobel peace prize for founding the Grameen bank and pioneering concept of microlending to women in LDCs. no shit the Secretary of State met with Yunus. He’s global poverty’s Mother Teresa. That’s AP’s big smoking gun.”
- St. Louis-based Sarah Kendzior, always essential reading, has a new piece in Quartz castigating the media (and its national audience) for only caring about stories outside their coastal bubble when they’re extreme (Ferguson, Katrina, Milwaukee, Baton Rouge), and ignoring or dismissing the vast majority of the country otherwise, during the unsexy everyday brutality girding these issues.
- Ever since Hanna Rosin’s eye-opening “The Overprotected Kid,” I’ve been staggered at how much less freedom many children have simply to wander a neighborhood or do things without a parent chaperoning. This week, NPR published a fascinating interview with a psychologist whose recently published research, in collaboration with a philosopher, looks at the moral judgments bystanders make about the parents of children left alone. The way they devised their study is really interesting.
- Because I will never pass up an opportunity to shout Lynda Barry’s praises to the skies, you should read this interview she gave in 2010 about my favorite book of hers, Picture This, which is about where imagination comes from, why we draw and how it’s possible to draw like we did when we were kids again.
- I want to end on a magical note, also about art. Sigalit Landau left a dress in the Dead Sea for two months. Not to get all clickbaity, but the end result is staggering.
Sometimes I get down on myself for feeling drawn to the arts — isn’t there More Important Stuff going on in the world? I should stop doing that: Not only are the arts wonderful and important, but they’re as perfect a lens as any to examine the world and how we interact with each other. Plus not only that, but noodling around through arts links led me to Making Your Life as an Artist, a free ebook by choreographer Andrew Simonet about managing your time, your money and the worth of your work. Freelancers of all stripes, take note.
- Arthur Chu is done with stupid Asian stereotypes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and everywhere else, frankly. “Not Your Asian Ninja” begins as an indictment of the second season of Daredevil, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Short version: Nobody has any excuses for the lazy characterization and world-building that are still acceptable for Asian characters in media.
- Unmissable: “Tabletop Gaming Has a White Male Terrorism Problem.” It didn’t start with GamerGate — not even close.
- On Hamilton and the U.S. prison system: “Tonight, in the midst of our shared creative endeavor, they saw themselves smack in the center of the narrative of creation, possibility, pursuit and achievement.”
- Lighter, but really lovely (and certainly true to my experience): Animation student and beginning Lindy hopper Emei Burrell drew a series of comics about learning to swing dance and falling into the community.
- And speaking of being a beginner, ever wanted to see what the start of a staggering opera career looks like? Luciano Pavarotti performed in Moscow in 1964, and while you can see the talent and the skill, you can also see how much he’s going to grow as a presence. Useful for all of us, and a darn pleasure to hear.