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: 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.