Things I’m Verbing: Indiana Man, Alabama Man and Florida Man

Today is one of those days where I want to opt out of the news cycle entirely. Any partisan take on shooting up a congressional GOP baseball team’s early morning practice is awful by default, yet I can’t help feeling that it will be become a bludgeon by the end of the day, not least from the president, despite his hopes and prayers.

Today is one of those days where I want to opt out of the news cycle entirely. Any partisan take on shooting up a congressional GOP baseball team’s early morning practice is awful by default, yet I can’t help feeling it will be become a bludgeon by the end of the day, not least from the president, despite his hopes and prayers. Meanwhile, in high Triangle Shirtwaist fashion, a massive fire at a London housing complex has horrifyingly illuminated the low esteem in which society (including landlord MPs) holds working-class life. Remember last night, when we were all simply angry about AG Jeff Sessions’ non-testimony on Russian interference with our election?

  • I clicked on Molly Ball’s profile of a freshman GOP congressman because of a tweet from Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg: “Embedded in this elegant @mollyesque profile of an Indiana congressman is a non-benign Trump dis of Mike Pence.” Yikes, non-benign is right.
  • Writing for Slate, Donna Minkowitz has scared me where I didn’t need to be scared with “How the Alt-Right Is Using Sex and Camp to Attract Gay Men to Fascism.”
  • You should follow Ironed Curtains, a blog collective featuring essays from Americans with Soviet roots. Their most impressive work to date is “Brilliant Blue Sky: Eyewitness Stories From Chernobyl,” sharing accounts from more than 100 people on the disaster’s 31st anniversary.
  • June 12 marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre. In honor of the 49 murdered and those who rushed to help, Dear World assembled portraits and interviews with survivors, first responders and loved ones. I wept reading through these, in large part because of the genuine love for the victims that restores their individuality.
  • We’ve talked a lot about how important Wonder Woman is for its representation of women, including Jewish women. One area where the film fell down, however, is representation of disability. Erin, the blogger behind The Geeky Gimp, presents the clearest argument yet for why the entertainment industry needs to change the conversation on disability, and facial difference in particular, as a signifier of evil.

Grim as the news has been, there have still been some light (or at least darkly humorous) takes to be had. It’s okay to enjoy them.

Stay brave, friends.

Image credit: King Lear, Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland, 2015

Things I’m Verbing: Brave geeks, inland farming and Zac Efron’s abs

It’s been an otherwise stupid week for speech; the furor about comedian Kathy Griffin’s Judith-and-Holofernes portrait of herself with the severed head of the president is an exercise in one-sided performative outrage, which the left has self-abasingly internalized from the right.

I make a habit of linking as little breaking news or reaction pieces as possible. Given the ridiculous speed with which this administration’s already imaginary moral center collapses into a gravitational singularity, it hardly seems worth trying to keep up with it all. Every once in a while, though, someone gets so furious and so creative with their fury that I have to celebrate it. This week, snaps to Charles Pierce of Esquire, writing on Trump’s withdrawal (for “negotiating a better deal,” very reality show) from the Paris Accords on climate change. Calling it “the Rose Garden’s dumbest moment on record,” he sold me with “obvious anagram Reince Priebus” and just keeps going from there.

It’s been an otherwise stupid week for speech; the furor about comedian Kathy Griffin’s Judith-and-Holofernes portrait of herself with the severed head of the president is an exercise in one-sided performative outrage, which the left has self-abasingly internalized from the right. That said, my favorite literary take on this administration comes from SFF writer Catherynne M. Valente, who realized back in April that Trump is our first magical realist president.

  • This isn’t all going to be outrage, but personally, I’m fed up with the rapturous response to David Alm’s “I was friends with Richard Spencer” essay in the Point. The surface-level read is a seemingly brave self-examination about why Alm stayed friends with the white-supremacist troll. He doesn’t seem to notice that every woman and minority tells him from the outset that Spencer is bad news. In fact, the entire essay is a master class in falling prey to Geek Social Fallacies, which, as a fellow alumna of the University of Chicago, surprises me not one bit.
  • Speaking of white supremacy, sit with Garrett Epps’ lovely piece for the Atlantic on Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue, “The Motionless Ghosts That Haunt the South.” As a Civil War–obsessed fifth-grader, I dragged my parents on two separate Spring Break trips to battlefields and museums. One stopped in Richmond, where a transplanted Northerner working at the Museum of the Confederacy told us the row of statues was also called the Avenue of Second-Place Trophies.
  • From the New Food Economy, consider Chelsey Simpson’s look at who benefits from VC money for food startups, with a case study on the local food movement in Oklahoma City.
  • Death with dignity, as the assisted suicide movement calls itself, provokes strong emotions on all sides of the issue, especially disability rights activists. For many my own age, physician-assisted suicide may raise the specter of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, with its unsettling euphemism “being released.” Myself, I appreciated (and wept through) this New York Times Magazine exploration of a man who attends his own wake. It’s a complicated, thorough look at ceremony, survivors and agency at perhaps the most vulnerable time in anyone’s life.
  • Wonder Woman comes out in the United States today. Among the many preemptive criticisms I’ve seen of the film (most, from star Gal Gadot’s nationality to the studio’s “risky gamble” on a female director, unworthy) stands the odd complaint that Gadot isn’t buff enough to play an Amazon. Writing for Vulture, E. Alex Jung takes on the film industry’s insistence on outrageous swole bodies for male actors. “I’m worried that the Hollywood Chrises are just one scoop of protein powder away from total renal failure,” he writes.

I’m excited for Wonder Woman, personally; I’ll be seeing it in one of the Alamo Drafthouse’s all-female screenings, which I expect will be both delightful and powerful.

Stay brave, friends.

Photo credit: payattn13/Flickr

Things I’m Verbing: Marshmallows, lipstick and a dichotomous double dose

My very earliest entries in this blog were not always up-to-the-minute stories and analyses. Sometimes I just posted things that I thought were cool. Given that by the time I post my next entry, the Shit Demon from Dogma will become the leader of the free world &c, I’m going to go halfsies on this one. If you want to skip right to the good-still-exists-in-the-world stuff, I don’t blame you in the slightest. First:

Okay, but now:

  • A real thing in the world: collectible Hieronymus Bosch figurines.
  • This Azerbaijani woman wrote out the entire Quran on black silk in gold and silver ink. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe this.
  • Are you listening to Song Exploder? You really should. This week, host Hrishikesh Hirway (also of local favorite The West Wing Weekly) gets Solange Knowles to break down “Cranes in the Sky.” It’s so fortifying to hear an artist talk about depression, mental health, her creative process and what makes her laugh; it’s also good for me to realize that the title of this song actually has nothing to do with birds.
  • Another podcast rec, from Slate: “How the Onion Remade Joe Biden.”
  • A very real story that will make your heart sing: in Polish (so hit “translate” on your browser, what a future we live in!), a gigantic, authentic Nazi-eating fish.

Stay brave, friends.

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.

Things I’m Verbing: State fossils, high stakes and pedepodcasting

My horoscope says “The world is full of more goodness than you know yet.” Ted Cruz and the CDC say otherwise, but Neko Case, Will Bailey and one lady in Sardinia may prove it right.

The horoscopes were close to the comics in the Athens Messenger, so I read them growing up, as one of those kids who always had to be reading. Ours were silly and self-conscious, but I’m still fond of horoscopes as a concept, in a “You have to cultivate a few nonsensical beliefs to keep things interesting” kind of way. Madame Clairvoyant at the Toast writes horoscopes I like. “This month is for watching your future open up, strange and golden in front of you,” she writes of March. “The world is full of more goodness than you know yet.”

I really hope so. If all else fails, I can just remember that Neko Case exists, but it’s an uphill battle sometimes.

  • This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would start limiting access to pain medications, in an effort to combat opiate abuse — not an imaginary epidemic. However, this bodes ill for chronic pain patients and doctors alike. Author, activist and academic India Valentin took to Twitter shortly after the news broke to lay out the stakes.
  • Much as we would like to try, we must not forget Ted Cruz. The New Republic‘s Clancy Martin shared “A Most Hated Man,” which is unnerving not just for its insights into why we like or dislike Cruz, but also for how it complements the “Trump is bad, but Cruz is dangerous” meme.
  • Guess I didn’t leave this behind in the Bush years — I’m once again turning to The West Wing for solace. For everyone else in that boat, Joshua Malina (speechwriter &c Will Bailey) is finally dropping his episode-by-episode podcast… soon. I’m optimistic about this one, not only because Malina is consistently entertaining on Twitter, but I love Song Exploder, and his partnering with producer Hrishikesh Hirway spells great things for us all.
  • The state fossil of my home state, Ohio, is the trilobite. The state fossil of my second home, Illinois, is having its day in the sun. One, it’s called the Tully Monster, and two, scientists just figured out what it looked like and what it’s related to. Click that link, you need the laugh.
  • This is me trying to remember the goodness of the world. In September, BBC Magazine* profiled the last woman who makes sea silk — an ancient art kept alive by one Jewish Sardinian. It’s so poetic; perhaps Madame Clairvoyant isn’t just making it all up.*(Help me, fellow copy editors, the formatting is getting me on this one.)

Things I’m Verbing: Meta-theater, mate-finding and Marvel (obviously!)

I know there was some sportsball on either side of the Beyoncé concert this weekend, but only one thing happened on Sunday that deeply, deeply mattered to me.

However, I am probably going to spill an awful lot of ink about Captain America: Civil War over the next several months, so let’s talk about women, women, women, women and… okay, #CivilWar.

(First, though, no joke, holy cats, Bey, “Formation” is a hell of a thing.)

  • Talking about sex frankly with your kids: It’s just smart parenting, writes Alanna Schubach in the Washington Post. And we’re not just talking moms and daughters — her amazing-sounding grandmother was a big part of this too.
  • Meanwhile, at Marie Claire, I was really interested in “Can Women Fix Dating?” Maria Ricapito makes a compelling case for how the male gaze inherently makes most dating apps frustrating or dangerous on some level for women.
  • Okay, have you been following this story from the Seattle theater world about Erin Pike? She’s been performing a one-woman show using dialogue and stage directions from the nation’s most frequently performed plays, and apparently it makes a hell of a statement. However, the publisher of those plays is not at all happy about that, and sent her a C+D an hour before curtain. It keeps getting more something else from there. Good meta-theater too, at least.
  • Johanna Hedva writes about chronic illness in “Sick Woman Theory” for Mask, and what disability and intersectionality mean for her personal activism.
  • I, uh. Can’t stay away from Marvel. The Daily Dot asked all the presidential campaigns if they were #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. Only Bernie Sanders replied. I’m darned pleased with his answer, but I’m also not entirely surprised.

Things I’m Verbing: Grief, gardens and the privilege of access

I posted my first story for Hello Giggles today, and it’s one that’s close to my heart in a lot of ways. Agent Carter is a TV show about a woman kicking ass in the 1940s, but it’s also, in its first season, a show about confronting grief. “What Agent Carter Gets Right About Grief” is a personal essay about television that finally presents something I’ve lived with for many years in a realistic way — and makes it the protagonist’s greatest journey.

The second season just premiered last night, but you can stream the first season right now. It’s only eight episodes, and even if you’re not familiar with Captain America, it stands well enough on its own that I can’t recommend it enough.

  • Given the seeming avalanche of beloved celebrity deaths over the past week or so, everyone has been trying to understand both public and personal grief. Three very useful links:
  • Despite the above, Agent Carter is also a fantastic, heart-clutchingly wonderful technicolor spy noir, with more than a little excellent comedy thrown in. It’s not the only genre show I’m keeping an eye on; thank goodness for io9‘s exhaustive list of what’s to come across the networks.
  • If you’re looking for another exhaustive list of excellence, the 2016 National Magazine Award finalists were just announced, and there are links.
  • This week saw a conversation in the publishing industry about the value or gatekeeping effects of workshops such as the prestigious six-week Clarion program for sci-fi and fantasy writers. It led to some good conversations about what “makes” a writer, but disability activists have also spoken out forcefully about the privilege baked into the structure of such events. Applicable throughout society, not just the SFF world.
  • I loved this Huffington Post video about using shipping crates as portable, sustainable gardens, especially since I also just listened to 99% Invisible‘s “Reefer Madness” episode (it makes sense once you dive in, but trust me, Roman Mars is giggling too).