Things I’m Verbing: Oh God, Not the Debates Edition

Weeks ago, a friend invited me to join her in the audience for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, which, no-brainer! It was only yesterday that I finally made the connection between the date we’re attending — tonight — and the fact of the first presidential debate, also tonight. I thought maybe that meant we could escape enduring it altogether, but not only is this Stephen “Stephen Colbert” Colbert we’re talking about, but actor/White House adviser Kal Penn and The West Wing star Rob Lowe are the guests. At least it’s going to be much better than exposing myself to the unedited horrorshow firsthand.


Good luck and godspeed, my friends. Below, have some stories that are not about the debates at all, while I go devour the GQ cover story on Lin-Manuel Miranda and what he’s doing next. (Maybe you can just listen to the cabinet battles between Hamilton and Jefferson on loop instead: OCR#Ham4Ham and #WhiteHouse4WestWing4Ham versions.)

  • The New York Times Magazine has a sober, fascinating look at a design and architecture question: “Can You Erase the Trauma From a Place Like Sandy Hook?
  • Sometimes apps are in fact developed for good and not for evil. Sapiens profiles Joshua Hinson, a member of the Chickasaw Nation who felt disconnected from his own ancestral language. So he built both software and community institutions to get all generations speaking it again.
  • Michelle Goldberg, writing for Slate, has some wonderful insights on the true tragedy of Ralph Nader’s campaigns and movement: “In the 2000 election, the high priest of anti-consumerism turned politics into the very thing he hated most.”
  • I don’t watch High Maintenance, but after E. Alex Jung’s look at how one episode deconstructs the tired and tiring “gay best friend of straight woman” dynamic, maybe I should. In some ways, I’d like to pair this with “Who Gets to Write What?” from author Kaitlyn Greenidge, about writing what you know, cultural appropriation and the ongoing mess regarding aggrieved writer Lionel Shriver.
  • Racked has a visually beautiful and totally fascinating history of pockets for women. If you’re a fellow, this sentence probably leaves you utterly cold, but I guarantee most women have the following response:

On a side note, I’ve started a new blog for personal essays and their ilk, if you’re interested. Today I posted “Let’s go visit the swans,” which is both about animals, continuity and memory and about how dogs, suburbs and moms are dopey and wonderful all at once. I hope you like it, and I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading!

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.