Things I’m Verbing: Plague pits, zoodles and the Death Star

It’s a rough world out there. The more you learn about Trump, Putin and their nuclear bromance (at least in Trump’s mind), the more you may just want to retreat into concrete joys in life. For me, one thing I decided earlier this month was that if I got a spiralizer, everything would be okay. (It was after midnight, and I’d had one drink earlier in the evening; I’m a lightweight, but an inspired lightweight.)

Now that I have this implement, of course, I have to learn to use it, which sent me down the rabbit hole of spiralizer recipes, which led me to the most beautiful vegetable tart I’ve ever seen, summer and winter versions. My own ambition to dive right into complicated food-making is its own kind of optimism, so I’ll take it. Here is an incredibly soothing video of a cuddly German hipster making an intensive pie by hand, from me to you.

Okay, ready for the rest of it? I promise it’s not all bad.

  • I was supposed to go see Star Wars: Rogue One on Christmas, and I totally blorped out of making any plans at all, in favor of sleeping in and cleaning my apartment. (Sorry, Meisje, ugh!) However, as with every release of a Star Wars franchise film, there’s been some great pop culture commentary alongside it. First, Vulture’s Abe Riesman on the dangerous politics of violence the films present — namely, when is it justified and what does that say about how we come to view violence. Another great look at the ethics (and economics!) of empire and rebellion, Imaginary Worlds takes on independent contractors and the Death Star, and whether it was okay to take them down with the ship, so to speak.
  • New York magazine partnered with a nonprofit to attempt feats of radical empathy — between gun advocates and victims of gun violence, some of whom you’ve heard of. I’m thinking hard about this piece; I’m not sure if it’s forcing the hopefulness of the ending or not, or whether it’s just a reminder that you can’t expect a 100% success rate right away or ever. But this is well worth a read, plus it includes video of these people telling their stories.
  • I’ve always been fascinated by the Arctic. Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sophia Roosth explores the way time wobbles in the far northern reaches, and what that means for human survival: “Virus, Coal and Seed: Subcutaneous Life in the Polar North.”
  • Shoutout to my friends who grew up on communal journaling, the first real social media networks. Early this year, E.D. Adams shared “What I Learned While Exposing Myself on LiveJournal.” Rather than being snide or exploitive, this is an affecting piece about self-love, vulnerability and community — and, unfortunately, the shitty trolls that will destroy it all given a fraction of a chance.
  • I know I’m late to the Lumineers, and that this song didn’t even come out in 2016, but I first heard “Ophelia” on Song Exploder earlier this year and fell in love with it. You ought to be listening to Song Exploder, in which Hrishi Hirway gets artists to aurally dissect the various ingredients in composition and shows how it all gets assembled. It’s fascinating, especially in the genres you don’t normally gravitate to. Do some stuff that makes you happy.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Samantha, Donald and Anton

Someday I’m going to come here with a bunch of really happy true news stories. But yesterday, while I was out with a bunch of friends at a park in Manhattan on a sunny day, I made the mistake of checking Twitter and found out that Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, a hilarious and outrageously talented Jewish moppet a full five years younger than me, died suddenly in the night. I never had any kind of emotional relationship with Prince or Bowie or, in fact, most of the rest of the luminaries 2016 has taken from us already, but losing Yelchin has hit me very hard, despite not having an emotional relationship with him or his work either. That he was so young, that he was an only child, that his parents were figure skaters who fled the Soviet Union and that the accident was so strange and lonely and horrible, just feels like too much to bear.

Most of the links I’ve collected over the past week have been reactions to the Orlando massacre. The first one I think everyone should watch is Samantha Bee’s not-even-contained fury at the state of politics that allowed such a thing to happen.