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: 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.