Things I’m Verbing: Yiddish for toughs, productivity for the overworked and the blues for all of us

I write these posts trying to think both of my friends who are constantly swapping the best links on Slack all day and my friends who prefer to skim the news. For everyone, I think because of its omnipresence around (journalism) social media, you can’t forget to read “The Obama Doctrine,” Jeffrey Goldberg’s remarkable long look at the president’s foreign policy philosophies, taken from multiple interviews over a long period of time. It really is long, but don’t miss it — especially because at least for me, it reinforced, in our time of trouble, how much I’m going to miss this guy and his brain.

Probably you can preface all of these links with “In our time of trouble,” which has the same scansion as a rather phenomenal blues song. Now that I’ve earwormed you (I hope), you should check out those versions — you may not have heard at least two of them.

  • If the current state of party implosion is giving you particular angst, don’t worry: Everything old is new again, and we’ve (sort of) seen this before.
  • Activist/artist Lauren Besser is struggling with a thing that rings true to me: What if Bernie was Bernadette? What’s the choice we’re really being offered from the Democratic candidates?
  • Fightland has an older but fascinating piece on tough Jews — literally, Jewish fighters and the Yiddish they used for those fights. (Can’t say I think it landed the ending, which doesn’t understand power differentials, but the rest, oh yeah.) See also: things I would love Ted Cruz to get through his noggin.
  • One more rightly viral piece for the list: “12 Things About Being a Woman That Women Won’t Tell You,” from Caitlin Moran for Esquire UK. I got catcalled twice in one residential block this week, once by a man driving a yellow school bus. Like any of us, I could tell you so much more.
  • I loved this week’s episode of Note to Self from WNYC. “Why You Feel More Productive But the Economy Isn’t” is a conversation with Douglas Rushkoff, who wrote Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and it points a damning finger at how expectations for explosive growth warp business and companies at just about every level.

Things I’m Verbing: Blindfolds, blackwork and white noise

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Yup, still the Cloisters. That walk is too nice not show off from every possible angle. Doesn’t this make you feel peaceful? And to think, there’s a highway, like, a hundred feet below this. (I don’t know if it’s 100 feet. For an entry about fact-checking woes, I’m going to let this one slide.)

You can never turn off being a copy editor or a fact-checker. Even when you’re trying to unwind, it ruins everything. Case in point: Last night I was finishing up a novella by a writer I both respect like hell as an artist and can never decide how much I actually enjoy her work.

It’s a fairy tale set in the Jazz Age, and it relies heavily on ’20s-era slang throughout. Which was a freaking delight, except early on, the writer describes characters wearing victory rolls — a signature hairstyle of World War II, meant to imitate the swoops of fighter pilots. (I can’t find evidence that they weren’t in use before the 1940s, but certainly to use imagery so associated with a very different decade is careless, if not confounding as a deliberate artistic choice, in this context.)

Anyway. I also got mad at this writer in another book for claiming a character alive in the 17th century knew how to speak Akkadian, a dead language not fully deciphered until the mid-1800s. The things we discover are deal-breakers.

  • It’s not actually my intention to closely repeat topics or outlets, but two great articles about Tori Amos found their way to me this week, so I’m not going to ignore that. The first is an examination of Boys for Pele on its 20th anniversary; it’s not only my favorite of her works, but one of my favorite albums of all time. The other is a great interview with Interview magazine about her musicalThe Light Princess. Pair with Sady Doyle’s wonderful article for BuzzFeed last year “Where Would Music Be Without Tori Amos?”
  • Aeon also does video, and you need to watch this short animation it made to accompany narration by Radiolab‘s Robert Krulwich, about why blindfolded people can’t walk in straight lines. It’s an intriguingly simple question, and stunningly rendered.
  • This isn’t serious business, I just like tattoo blogs, despite not having any. Tattoodo is hitting the spot for image-based listicles for me right now. This post on blackwork is a highlight.
  • I’ve found that learning about improv has helped me figure out so many different kinds of expression and communication, including journalism (let characters drive the story, not plot!), so I’m super excited to check out Long Form Improvisation and American Comedy: The Harold by Matt Fotis.
  • It’s the final third of National Novel Writing Month, as well as the true wind-up to The Holidays, which may mean you need the perfect white noise to block out… literally everything about the world. I live next to some very noisy neighbors, and I have a lot I need to get done at home. For those of us who can’t seem to accomplish work at coffee shops (and aren’t even into that kind of noise anyway), I present the best 10-hour YouTube video of them all: crackling fireplace. You can probably accomplish literally anything that requires focus and relaxation with this on. There are so many other white noise generators out there, but I haven’t found one that beats this.