Things I’m Verbing: Clowns, witches and the trapdoor to Hell

You might say to yourself, “Esther, it’s Monday. Don’t your link roundups come out on Tuesdays and Fridays?” To that I say, “There is no way I’m missing out on sharing Halloween stories before the clock hits midnight and it’s November.” FOR INSTANCE: I have written a story for Refinery29 (my first!) on clowns and the cultural and psychological reasons behind why they freak us all out. It was a delight to do, and actual clown expert Ben Radford lights up my day just by existing and being really cool.

…I actually don’t have much more Halloween content, although The Establishment has been posting some great stuff on witches (plus Pacific Standard, plus A.V. Club, plus every single outlet writing up the greatness that is The Craft). Before we dive into the horrorshow that is the final week before we elect someone president at last, let’s savor this comic:

  • Today in “Wait, that guy was still alive?”, Jack Chick of the Chick Tracts died. Comics Alliance writes about his surprising influence on indie comix, while The New Republic pretty aptly compares him to Nazi documentarian Leni Riefenstahl without breaking Godwin’s Law. The Nib memorializes Chick in pretty much the best way imaginable.
  • This American Life is always kind of a big ask for me, listening-wise. An hour is a lot to commit to, and they don’t always land it. But “Will I Know Anyone at This Party?” doesn’t fall prey to hipster preciousness — instead, it’s a thoughtful look at the Republicans aghast at the nativism and racism that’s infected the party they love. The episode’s main focus is the white community’s response to Somali refugees settling in St. Cloud, Minnesota — essentially a history of “Muslim bans” and how that started.
  • Thank goodness Donald Trump pissed off The Washington Post. While it’s staggering that this is still possible, David Farenthold, who’s been owning the Trump charity beat, has published the biggest doozy yet. It starts with Trump blithely stealing honors from a major donor to a nursery school for children with HIV/AIDS and only goes downhill from there.
  • Back to the other gut-churning pillar of this campaign, Liz Meriwether, writing for The Cut, has a blistering, all-too-familiar essay about how women talk about sexual harassment and assault, and how it’s surprising the men around them.
  • It’s been a while since we talked about Marvel movies, right? Worry no more: Dr. Strange comes out in the U.S. this Friday, and it’s been taking a beating in activist circles for months going on years, thanks to its truly unfortunate baked-in Orientalism. The good news, according to BuzzFeed, is that the movie looks amazing and isn’t as joyless as the previews would have us believe. The bad news: We were right about the Orientalism.

Side note: I write personal essays at my blog Screwball Heroine, and this weekend I published “Baby’s first burlesque show,” about fear, monsters and baring it all. (A friend sold it on Twitter as “depression, creativity and nipple tassels”; “Whatever helps grab the eye,” he said.) I’m still figuring out what kind of essayist I want to be, particularly given the first-person industrial complex, but I think this one’s worth it. For all my fellow writers and anyone who’s just interested, the New York Times wrote up a roadmap for great personal essays their way.

Things I’m Verbing: Angry women, the ur-boomer and Terminator birds from the future

The Christian Science Monitor won last week for my favorite news coverage. Amid all kinds of “pop goes the weasel” references as other outlets wrote up the shutdown of the Large Hadron Collider by a meddlesome mustelid, CSM told us that not only had this sort of thing happened before, but that CERN was certain it’s never been because of a Terminator scenario.

In November 2009, CERN said a baguette dropped by a bird was the cause of an electrical short that briefly shut down the collider.

In that case, the agency said the bird survived but “lost breakfast.” Asked whether the baguette had come from the future to sabotage the machine, CERN responded, “The possibility has been examined by theoretical physicists — considered unlikely as they feel baguettes will not play a part in future cultures.”

I’m not optimistic about a future that doesn’t include baguettes, but I guess that’s worth a debate. After all, the end of the republic has never looked better.