Things I’m Verbing: Good talkers, bad TV and sweet, sweet Christmas

I’m late to Scandal, and I admit, I’m mostly interested thanks to Josh Malina’s excellent banter and analysis on The West Wing Weekly. I don’t know why I let this happen to me. The show is infuriatingly bad, and yet as long as I can ignore the thoroughly useless White House plots (and the scripts’ hilarious grasp on journalism ethics) and focus on David Rosen’s terrible luck or the weird brother-sister thing between Huck and Quinn or Harrison just being the smoothest, most gorgeous gladiator in the ring… it’s pretty good “let me kill an afternoon so I don’t have to think about the slow heat-death of American democracy” material.

Speaking of:

  • Mike Pence is a very bad man. His policies as governor of Indiana hurt people — specific groups of people. If he won the vice presidential debate on Tuesday night, it was thanks to a Disney film–level ability to wish away the reality of Donald Trump. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie thinks Pence has given us a preview of the GOP after Election Day. That said, Pence and Tim Kaine seem to have gone into the debate with very different goals — and it’s possible that Kaine got just what he wanted.
  • This started off as a tweetstorm (a word I still kind of hate), and I’m glad Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall refined it into a piece, because the @replies were getting very tangled. Don’t skim past “Storm and Menace” for its Tolkienesque headline; this is a clear-eyed piece about why Jews tend to vote liberal, and why we can’t forgive the normalization of antisemitism and other hatreds that this election has become.
  • Meanwhile, totally outside the realm of politics (for once!), something amazing is happening in the world of living Yiddish (yes, it’s still very much a thing): a 21st-century dictionary, especially for those of us who like to shlingen epizodn (“wolf down” TV).
  • I’ve got Timeless and Conviction on my to-watch list at the moment, the former because I’m a sucker for time travel and the latter because I’m a sucker for Hayley Atwell. Jared Keller, writing for Pacific Standard, has more than convinced me to give Designated Survivor a hard pass. I was never a fan of 24, but “post-9/11 pornographic revenge fantasy” doesn’t seem like a thing we as a culture really need.
  • Lucky for me, there’s another option. I keep writing “Luke Cake,” in part because star Mike Colter, have you even seen this guy? (You have. He’s up top. Oh my gosh.) But the MarvelNetflix series Luke Cage, which dropped last week, is shaping up to be a treasure. See, for example, Noah Berlatsky, writing for Quartz: “Luke Cage takes on the ultimate villain: America’s toxic black male stereotypes.”

Things I’m Verbing: Ecto-Cooler cocktails, the immune system of democracies and grace by George Foreman grill

I mean… that about sums it up, right?

  • Wow, though, Mike Pence. When you look at the issues, it doesn’t really get better. And in fact, if you listen to the alternative press in Indiana, he’s been pretty bad there in practice, above and beyond theory.
  • These paired essays are two horrible flavors that go together well. For the Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch investigates the parallels between contagion and the collapse of the American political system. “What is it,” he asks, “that not long ago allowed our government to metabolize the aggression that is inherent in any pluralistic society and still get things done?” Meanwhile, the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik asks us to get really honest about what the rise of Donald Trump among Americans means. See also, from May: “The Day the Republican Party Died.”
  • Also see also: The Los Angeles Times outlining the fundamental ridiculousness of the laws that will govern next week’s Republican National Convention, and why law enforcement in Cleveland is nervous as hell.
  • Something good is happening today, though: the all-female Ghostbusters gets its wide release. Not only does this mean service pieces about cocktails you can make with the recently re-released Hi-C Ecto-Cooler, but you get to see the good parts of fandom on display, to counteract all the ugliness of grown men whining about how their childhoods have somehow been ruined by social justice warriors. (Yeah, about that.) To whit: how the film honors one super-fan who touched a whole community.
  • Other ways in which there’s good in the world, from a wholly unexpected source: The Kitchen Sisters’ podcast Fugitive Waves has been producing incredible stories lately about our relationships with culture and food. Even they were surprised, however, by what they learned about the George Foreman grill — including from Foreman himself. It’s not just the top-selling electrical appliance of all time, but it’s a vector of dignity. You can listen to the episode on that link, but I highly recommend subscribing to this show anyway.