Things I’m Verbing: Lady Lindy, the Queen of Diamonds and your next Angelica Schuyler

I just saw the Yankees play the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, my first professional baseball game in about eight or nine years. I found it hilarious and delightful, but truth be told, I only have one true love when it comes to baseball.

I hope you laughed at that — happy Friday, gang! Fun fact: Arlo Guthrie and I share a birthday, which is coming up this Monday. Fingers crossed we get some good news?

Until then…

  • I almost don’t care if it’s sort of a conspiracy theory at this point, I’m fascinated by this proposition that Amelia Earhart survived and wound up in the Marshall Islands.
  • You know how much I love nonfiction comics (in addition to all the other kinds); recently we’ve had two exploring a subject close and dear to my heart. At CityLab, Ariel Aberg-Riger (whose work I’ve loved before) has written and illustrated a gorgeous, poignant piece about Mr. Rogers and what makes Americans hunger for his kind of neighborhood. Meanwhile, at Longreads, Candace Rose Rardon is a world traveler, but she’s found meaning in one global commonality: “Home Is a Cup of Tea.”
  • For Kajal, Nadya Agrawal pushes on a trope we’ve seen in multiple acclaimed “South Asian man is just a normal American guy” films and TV shows: “Why Don’t Brown Women Deserve Love Onscreen?” Responding on Twitter to a related essay from BuzzFeed (“Why Are Brown Men So Infatuated With White Women Onscreen?“), S.I. Rosenbaum digs into something that both essays miss: “When the author says ‘quirky,’ he means ‘Jewish.'” For more on Jews, particularly American Ashkenazi Jews, and whiteness, see Tumblr use Salt Dragon, writing on Jay-Z’s not-really philosemitic lyrics and what many urban Jews became after World War II.
    • I posted this over a holiday weekend, so if you missed it, I wrote up how Jewishness and Israelis don’t fit into a POC/white, colonist/indigenous binary and how otherwise committed anti-racist activists can entirely miss clear signals of antisemitism.
  • If you want a really sad, troubling story of a progressive, feminist, sex-positive activist gone “red-pilled,” read Katelyn Burns’ “The Strange, Sad Case of Laci Green” for the Establishment.
  • On July 3, I saw the Yankees play the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, my first professional baseball game in about eight or nine years. I found it hilarious and delightful, but truth be told, I only have one true love when it comes to baseball. Someone once said that as The Shawshank Redemption is to men, A League of Their Own is for women. It’s simply perfect on every level, and given that I saw it at 7, it’s incredibly formative for me. Katie Baker, writing for the Ringer, shows why it’s still the greatest sports movie of all time.

Stay brave, friends.

Image credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame; click that link, it’s a great article too. See also: this great art from Project Wisconsin, just because it’s great.

Things I’m Verbing: False feminists, bad business and a very good cucumber

I’m working on deadline today, so this is going to be quick — but in a short and sweet kind of way, rest easy. They’re all good stories, Brent.

I’m working on deadline today, so this is going to be quick — but in a short and sweet kind of way, rest easy. They’re all good stories, Brent.

  • What does it mean to be a good cucumber these days? Food writer Bee Wilson believes it’s become so watered-down, we don’t even know what that means anymore. (Link goes to the Financial Times; heads up on the paywall.)
  • Small Town Noir: I’m fascinatedNiemanStoryboard asks a Scottish fellow why he’s so obsessively collecting and investigating mid-century mugshots from a small town in western Pennsylvania.
  • You swooned and screamed over the first Black Panther trailer this week, right? (Ohmygod, go do so if you haven’t.) Seems like that kind of momentum would be a great time for Marvel to showcase its Wakanda-based comics, with their excellent writers and illustrators! Or… not, apparently? In the process, they’ve revealed a fatal flaw about how the industry insists it will get new readers into comics.
  • Last night in my corner of the internet, Twitter user Rave Sashayed bravely livetweeted her experience reading the godawful and rightfully canned 2006 Joss Whedon script for Wonder Woman. It’s worth considering where the famous-for-being-feminist Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator went so, so wrong in his approach to women. A Tumblr user named Laurel Jupiter took a thoughtful look at Whedon’s work back in 2015, when we were all still angry about the mess that is The Avengers: Age of Ultron. As she writes:

I wish he hadn’t turned, in twenty years, from the man who wanted to see the blonde girl in the horror movie survive and thrive into the rich bastard who thought it was funny to call Natasha Romanoff a cunt on IMAX and who called her a monster for being the victim of medical abuse. I’m still laughing angrily at Joss being driven off twitter by a mob of angry, betrayed female fans, because wow does he ever deserve it, but man, Joss. It didn’t have to be that way.

  • Samantha Bee is everything, and Full Frontal this week was a glorious poke in the eye to Jeff Sessions. Let’s end it on that:

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Free speech, werewolf handbooks and the 3.5 percent

I had jury duty on Thursday; happily (sorry, civic duty), I wasn’t selected from the pool, but actually happily, that meant I walked out of the Brooklyn courthouse right into the Yemeni-American Bodega Strike. It was stunning and beautiful. I’ll let this video speak for itself:

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"JUSTICE! NOW!" #bodegastrike

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It’s a wonderful antidote to all those “protesting just distracts you from the REAL problem, which you can’t fight!” thinkpieces. For more on that, see Huck magazine’s “There is no secret motive: Trump is as shambolic and as racist as he seems” and Ijeoma Oluo’s “Fuck This White Dude Game Theory.”

  • A really interesting statistic made the rounds this week, as Guardian headline announced that only 3.5% of a nation’s population can peacefully overthrow a regime. Thank research by University of Denver professor Erica Chenoweth, who also sums it up briefly and wonderfully in a TEDxBoulder talk from 2013 (link includes transcript).
  • Journalism loves navel-gazing, and one of its favorite conversations is about objectivity and evenhandedness. Who decides what neutrality is, however, is not neutral at all, as Lewis Wallace discovered this week when he was fired from Marketplace for a blog post musing on institutional power and the responsibilities of reporters to acknowledge bias and imbalance.
  • Sometimes with the news you just want to love somebody, and for me this week, it’s queer Black breast cancer survivor and activist Ericka Hart, whose “Mastectomy Story” video over at Allure is just so human and honest and fabulous.
  • Hey, meanwhile, Marvel needs to stop trying to make us feel conflicted somehow about Nazis. If you want a really good comic that will make your heart swell with joy, may I recommend How to Be a Werewolf? Queer characters, immigrant characters, multiracial characters, birth families, found families, a coffee shop, a mysterious old house on the edge of town, social anxiety… it’s so perfect. You will love it. Just go — it won’t take you that long.
  • Finally, this XKCD comic about free speech and what it really means is always handy and will never go out of style. Actual threats to free speech as enshrined in the Constitution come from the government.

It’s the weekend, friends. Stay brave.

Things I’m Verbing: Inside/outside, middle ground and how to have a baby

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 HeroinePortal 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.

Things I’m Verbing: Expendable courtiers, boring dictatorships and the end of life

There’s still goodness in the world:

As I type this, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the man too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s, is undergoing confirmation hearings for the post of attorney general. Civil rights lion Rep. John Lewis and, in a first for the nation, a sitting senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey, will actually testify against Sessions. Pretty galling that it got this far, but I suspect we’ll be saying that a lot over the next few years. If you need some fortifying banter, I recommend you check out the Says Who? podcast, by journalists/hilarious people/angry progressives Maureen Johnson and Dan “@MayorEmanuel” Sinker. The latest episode is called “Flashlight in the Darknesscast,” to give you a taste of tone.

I’d also like to promote the first of a series of personal essays I’m committing to writing this year, as part of the #52essays17 challenge. Over the years, I’ve come to love online advice columnists, from Dear Sugar to Captain Awkward to Mallory Ortberg’s new, improved Prudence. Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly can be so good when she’s good, but when she’s bad, she totally misses gigantic signal flares and gives a very depressed person the worst advice she could. I should know. Read on in “Our Lady of Broken Pheromones” at Screwball Heroine.

Okay.

  • Republicans are hellbent on defunding Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that no federal money has gone to abortion care — a legal medical procedure and personal right! — since the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976. Women should have access to abortion, and cutting off access won’t make abortions stop, it will only make them more dangerous. Read Rebecca Traister’s latest in New York magazine for more on that (and also). But if you don’t know what Planned Parenthood does, day to day, you should. Comics artists Tillie Walden and Anna Sellheim show you what taking care of women really looks like.
  • I go back and forth on some Vox takes. On the one hand, there’s nothing boring to women or people with health problems about the government taking away access to life-saving medical care for the sake of politics. On the other, Cornell University professor Thomas Pepinsky thinks Americans have a much too apocalyptic vision of what living under an authoritarian state really looks like.
  • Oh hey, speaking of exciting times! In one day — yesterday — sixteen Jewish community centers across the country faced bomb threats. But sure, antisemitism isn’t a thing and Trump’s election hasn’t emboldened bigotry — after all, Jared and Ivanka are observant Jews! Yeah… about Jared Kushner and expendable court Jews.
  • Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk is one of the best grief memoirs I’ve ever read, and so I’m eager to see just about anything she does next. I wouldn’t have necessarily called “In Search of Post-Brexit England, and Swans,” but the bird theme is unmistakable. So much of the conversation around both Brexit and the Trump “win” are about what nations have somehow lost. So, what does that look like? What does that mean?
  • Two very different profiles, on big subjects that we shouldn’t be scared of: First, for New York magazine, a photo essay on what it actually looks like to raise a child with Zika-related microcephaly. Next, for the New York Times Magazine,One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die.” I never expected to read the words “quirky hospice” ever in my life, but this isn’t some twee hipster bullshit — this is about figuring out how to honor your most essential self. Pair with another New York Times essay, briefer, which invites some conversation of its own: “The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage.”

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Cold War throwbacks, A-list blackouts and the new underground

It’s the Friday before Christmas, and… this is where we are, basically:

About that:

  • Yeah, Trump still hasn’t moved beyond “if we have nuclear weapons, why shouldn’t we use them?” Max Fisher clarifies the tweet (ugh) that set it all off this morning for the New York Times.
  • Trump’s inauguration is basically turning into a talent blackout — no one of note is willing to associate with him or celebrate him. Which is what makes it cool that the union representing the Rockettes is forcing them to perform.
  • North Carolina just earned a 58/100 score from the Electoral Integrity Project, putting it somewhere in the neighborhood of “authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone,” according to the report’s creator. Pair with Atlanta artist Cory Thomas’ comic “The weirdness of being black in white spaces after the election.”
  • There’s never been a better time (other than the past) for media literacy, and the Establishment breaks down your 2017 guide to overthrowing the media. Complements 99 Ways to Fight Trump and the Indivisible guide, now available in a nice/easy-to-follow PDF.
  • Finally, just unrelated and interesting and engrossing and affecting, “Before We Were Good White” by Jennifer Niesslein for Full Grown People, about family history, poverty and class in America. Also, an unsolved murder amid Prohibition-era bootlegging.

Stay brave, friends. And as we go into the weekend (and the holiday, for all you celebrants out there):

 

Things I’m Verbing: Falling down a chimney, lighting the oil and rereading history

The news keeps being heavy. I’m trying not to burn myself out, but it feels unbearable in its own way not to be a witness and speak out against this. If you want to stop here, that’s totally fine; here’s a first-person account of falling down a chimney for clicking over, which I appreciate. For something more apolitical, you might enjoy “Wishing Away the Wish List,” about the holidays and the desire to be known; for something about education, try “‘How Old Is the Shepherd?’ The Problem That Shook School Mathematics,” about liberating students from stupid pedagogy.

Here comes the rest:

Stay brave, friends.