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.

Things I’m Verbing: Slack channels, bear-punching and sweet home Chicago

Even if you’re not from or familiar with Chicago, I really want to make sure everyone reads Dan Sinker’s look back at the legacy of @MayorEmanuel. This was a fictional but real-time Twitter account of a much better version of Rahm Emanuel in his quest for the mayorship in 2010–2011. It was foul-mouthed, aggressive, surreal and intensely in love with the City of Big Shoulders. To be living there as it unwound was an incredibly special experience, and like virtually all of his followers, I was heartbroken when @MayorEmanuel vanished into a time vortex during a clap of thundersnow five years ago this week.

Sinker, who has maintained the tweets on Quaxelrod.com (trust me, it makes sense) and released an excellent annotated book version, also seemingly flirted with bringing @MayorEmanuel back. But in his Medium post, he explains why that could never be. It’s a sober, elegiac look at what both Twitter and Chicago have lost in the half-decade since, and it’s an entirely grown-up reflection on what fiction can’t and can offer us. Sinker also reveals how the story really continues, and it’s magnificent in a way only the world’s &($%(#%*ing greatest cup of coffee can be. You really should read it.

I’m also heading back to Chicago next week for the first time since I moved away, a week before Halloween in 2014. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from the city in my adult life, and I can’t wait to go back. In the meantime… well, I can’t say this is the fluffiest set of links I’ve ever shared, but:

Things I’m Verbing: Weird riots, dead media and fake Nazi merch

It’s a good Tuesday when you can share some freelance that came to fruition, so here’s my very first piece for Mental Floss: “7 of History’s Most Unusual Riots.” This was both deeply strange and deeply fun to research — I had no idea people cared so much about, well, their right to grab eels in public, which is not actually a euphemism. Fans of Hamilton, yes, you have a reason to click through too.

What a time to be alive.

  • Speaking of Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, she wrote a great quick hit on a Captain America: Civil War theory which neatly explains why Tony Stark is so distraught in the film’s first trailer.
  • At Women Write About Comics, Hannah Katzman articulates the need for more Jewish representation, because despite the presence of Jews throughout the comics world, it’s still easier to find fake Nazis than ourselves.
  • Meanwhile, the Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature has assembled a thorough, data-driven look at the so-called war between genre and literary fiction.
  • This is not the segue I was looking for, but Pacific Standard took a good look at the death of vinyl in the music world, which pairs with Flavorwire‘s September article “The Premature Death of Physical Media — and the Cult Home Video Labels Keeping It Alive.”
  • It’s early enough in December that I’m not yet sick of year-in-review posts, particularly when they’re the Columbia Journalism Review’s best and worst journalism of 2015.