Things I’m Verbing: Restorative justice, body blows and one globe-trotting chicken

The news waits for no one. I was so overwhelmed and buzzing with possibilities from an amazing four days at THREAD, the storytelling conference/workshop at Yale (that’s me up top experiencing VR for the first time!), that I was trying to find exactly the right in to discuss it here. Then one asshole committed an atrocity in Orlando, then another tried to one-up him at the Los Angeles Pride Parade, then Donald Trump outdid himself with just three words, an impressive feat on any number of terrible levels:

Thank goodness for the Tonys last night. And if you’re looking for the story par excellence to escape into, may I suggest the Dodo’s “Chicken Sails Around the World With Her Hot Dad“? It’s got everything, and I hope it brings a little light back into your world. The rest of today’s links are not nearly so fun.

  • I’ve been watching two stories about sexual assault gain traction in my Facebook feed especially. There’s the Stanford rapist Brock Turner sentencing outcry, and an exposé from the Chicago Reader on rampant harassment at a local theater going unchecked for years. These have led to a number of nuanced, thought-provoking considerations of what constitutes justice, all the more worth considering in the light of unspeakable acts like a mass murder at a gay bar.
    • Jes Skolnik writes about restorative justice, and something in her phrasing really struck me — that the violent act itself is one thing, but the injustice of the system endangering and failing so many more is what we can concretely fight.
    • Radiolab just started a spin-off miniseries about the Supreme Court, called More Perfect, and it’s truly worth your time. The first episode, “Cruel and Unusual,” is another exploration of how we try to enact vengeance or justice through the state, but can’t seem to reconcile the desire for the death penalty with the reality of how it comes to pass.
    • Two other writers took on the subtler cultural choices that have wracked various theater communities. As a one-time would-be improviser, I can absolutely confirm what Julia Weiss says about the language of sexual violence and misogyny in improv, and how real concerns get dismissed in the name of comedy. Meanwhile, Anthea Carns considers the way theater valorizes a certain kind of male anti-hero, and how those stories are considered “deep” and “meaningful” simply by dint of their aggressiveness.
  • Many outlets have reported that the incomparable Geena Davis will be producing a documentary on gender disparity in Hollywood; many others have noted with some outrage that the project has a male director. The Mary Sue gets to the bottom of both questions, and reminds us that we can’t dismiss true allyship while also demanding it. That said, pair with the Atlantic’s piece on why film studios no longer make live-action films starring young girls.
  • Meanwhile, Ars Technica takes us into an odd project that could put us all on our heels anyway: a short film written by an AI.
  • There’s been some incredible reporting lately about bodily trauma. First, NPR profiles the Iraq veteran who threw himself into researching the emblematic injury of that war, the TBI. Next, the New York Times Magazine asks whether PTSD might in fact have physical roots. Pair both of these with GQ’s initial look at concussions in the NFL.
  • We’re 10 days away from the vote that determines whether Great Britain will leave the European Union. The Nib is an excellent nonfiction cartoon and comics site, and since I went to THREAD to experiment with graphic novel-style journalism, check out their explanation of what Brexit could mean and what its supporters and detractors have to gain and lose.

Things I’m Verbing: FOIAs on hold, fascism on the radio and fangirling the Rockford Peaches

Over the weekend, I fulfilled maybe my dearest movie-related wish: getting to see A League of Their Own on a big screen, in a room full of other people, mostly women, for whom it was also an immensely formative experience as a young kid. I was 7 when it came out, and I think only I saw it on VHS, but because of that movie, I desperately wanted to play baseball, to swing dance, to be on a close-knit team of amazing people who mean the world to me. I’d never seen anything like it before.

I was just the right age for a whole slew of kids movies about sports: The Mighty Ducks, Ladybugs, The Sandlot (which also holds up incredibly well), Rookie of the Year, some of them better than others (let us not speak of Air Bud or Angels in the Outfield), very few of them about girls. I didn’t wind up becoming an athlete, but I don’t think I ever got over the rich female characters and their equally rich relationships. I promise you, A League of Their Own is better than you remember, if you’ve seen it, and better than you can imagine, if you have yet to see it.

  • Speaking of the endlessly admirable Geena Davis, she’s been running a foundation that researches and promotes women and depictions of women in film and TV, in front of and behind the camera. Bloomberg spoke with her last year about her work, how much we have left to accomplish and what simple things scriptwriters can do to achieve accurate gender representation in the most fundamental, unconscious ways.
  • It’s South by Southwest all day, every day for a little bit now, and I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty intrigued by City of Gold, a documentary about the only food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. Jonathan Gold and his love affair with Los Angeles look fascinating enough in pictures; he won me over with a 2012 interview in the Believer about how to smell bullshit in the food world.
  • Less delightful — in fact, the opposite of that — you must watch Rachel Maddow’s gut-churning compilation of Donald Trump’s escalating language at his rallies. Today being Super Tuesday II, or Mega Tuesday, or whatever we’re calling it, it’s never too late to see the true face of what we’re dealing with as a nation.
  • There’s always precedent. Esquire published a brief but vivid look at the legacy of Father Coughlin, a one-time progressive in the 1930s whose radio program soon became a hugely popular mouthpiece of racism, antisemitism and straight-up fascism.
  • I’m just as in love with #Bam4Ham, in which the cast of Hamilton spent the day singing and freestyling at the White House, as anyone else. However, we can’t also forget that Barack Obama, like any idealistic president, isn’t flaw-free. ProPublica and the Washington Post have documented their investigation into “the most transparent administration ever” and its troubling record on the Freedom of Information Act.