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: Central Asian dictators, elegiac hillbillies and the nature of reality (or something)

This morning’s hideous Cabinet news: Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a man literally too racist for the 1980s. It seems obvious that, like during the election, Trump is working to numb his enemies with a fire-hose of soul-crushing and shocking news, every one bit of which should be immediately disqualifying. President Obama is trying to keep his chin up, but this week we’ve seen Japanese internment cited as a positive precedent for Muslim registries, requests for security clearance for Trump’s children and their spouses, literal fake news straight from the horse’s mouth, accusations that protests are paid and thus should be punished and suppressed, media outlets tamping down their descriptions of racists and bigots taking top roles in the new administration…

What I’m saying is you should all be following Central Asian dictatorship expert and St. Louisan Sarah Kendzior on Twitter, although she’s going to scare the shit out of you every single day.

One tip from that last link is taking a moment to clarify for yourself what’s most important to you politically and personally. I still have no idea, in my inmost lizard-brain heart, why Trump’s campaign rhetoric wasn’t a deal-breaker for so many voters. You can talk to me about economic anxiety and feeling ignored and beaten down and disparaged until you’re blue in the face, but minorities and people of color in this country, not to mention Native people (who have the most right to rage of all, frankly), have been treated far worse by society and the government and still didn’t buy in. If you have links to an argument otherwise that truly convinces you, I’d love to see it — please share in the comments if you can.