Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 4


We Were the Only Plane in the Sky” (Politico)
After planes struck the Twin Towers on 9/11, George Bush was shepherded onto Air Force One. This oral history describes what happened during the eight hours the President spent in what was then considered the safest place to be: the sky.

The Blob That Cooked the Pacific” (National Geographic)
Thanks to warm ocean water created by El Niño, an algae bloom has taken over the West Coast. The toxic algae has decimated populations of local marine wildlife and might provide a preview of the ecological carnage that could result from climate change.

“‘I Had No Choice But To Keep Looking‘” (New York Times Magazine)
Five years have passed since a tsunami swept across Tōhoku, but a husband and a father continue to search for their missing family members.
Podcast accompaniment: Act One of “One Last Thing Before I Go” (This American Life)

From Hiroko to Susie: The Untold Story of Japanese War Brides” (Washington Post)
When WWII ended, as many as 45,000 Japanese women followed their American husbands to the United States. These war brides faced challenges when it came to adapting to the mores and culture of a new country, but many thrived in their new homes, including the author’s mother.

That Dragon, Cancer” (Wired)
When Amy and Ryan Green’s one-year-old son is diagnosed with cancer, Ryan channels his experiences into a video game.
Podcast accompaniment: “The Cathedral” (Reply All)

The Arctic Suicides: It’s Not the Dark That Kills You” (NPR)
Greenland has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. In a country where nearly everyone seems to know someone who has taken their own life, communities struggle to save their youth. The piece considers the prevalence of suicide in the context of Greenland’s colonial history and its lack of mental health resources.

Marvel, Jack Kirby, and the Comic-Book Artist’s Plight” (The Atlantic)
Jack Kirby fights Marvel for his original artwork.

Flight Risk” (Slate)
It turns out that airlines don’t quite know what to do with creepy passengers who can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Women and Guns” (Marie Claire)
This interactive feature casts a spotlight on an issue normally not associated with woman. There are opinions from both sides of the debate, colorful and informative graphics, and pieces written by Hillary Clinton, Carla Fiora, and Roxanne Gay.

Making House: Notes on Domesticity” (New York Times Magazine)
A home is something that is presented, polished and showcased to others. But one of its main functions is to also serve as a living space, which inevitably begins to bear the traces of its past and present inhabitants. This essay explores these two sometimes contradictory roles that we ask our humble abodes to play.

Framed: She was the PTA mom everyone knew. Who would harm her?” (LA Times)
This six-part series explores a personal brouhaha between a PTA mom and a two married attorneys in Irvine, California. It’s a sordid tale with reality television twists and an inside look at how the other half lives.


Huma Abedin on Her Job, Family, and the Campaign of a Lifetime” (Vogue)
Huma Abedin is probably best known for being Anthony Weiner’s ex-wife, but she has thrived in the political realm in ways that her husband never will. Nathan Heller’s profile explores Abedin’s unique position as Hillary Clinton’s right hand woman and the sacrifices and rewards that come with it.

Pete Wells Has His Knives Out” (New Yorker)
Pete Wells, a restaurant critic for the New York Times, also wields a unique amount of power. Dining incognito in New York’s restaurants, he can make or break a restaurant with his reviews, and you can be sure that he doesn’t mince words.

Patagonia’s Philosopher-King” (New Yorker)
Patagonia could have only been the brainchild of Yvon Chouinard. This profile charts the ways in which his eco-friendly, anti-corporate ethos have shaped his vision for the clothing company he cofounded.


Occupy Wall Street: Where Are They Now?” (New York Times)
Unsurprisingly, the answers to the question in the title vary.

Stunning Photographs Inspired by Edward Hopper Paintings” (Slate)
Richard Tuschman creates photographs inspired by Edward Hopper paintings, capturing the warm glowing light that characterizes Hopper’s signatures style to a T.


Season 1, Fleabag
Fleabag’s premise is simple: each episode follows the different exploits of the show’s unnamed protagonist, dubbed Fleabag in the credits and played to pitch perfection by Phoebe Waller-Bridges. Sporting red lipstick, a deranged sense of humor, and staggering amounts of emotional baggage, Fleabag juggles romantic liaisons, family drama, personal tragedy, and a failing guinea pig-themed cafe. It dazzles with its winning combination of laugh-out-loud depravity, stellar acting, and gut-punching emotional depth. The show is also impressive from a formal standpoint. Each episode leaves viewers with the pulverized dust of its fourth wall, a flawlessly executed move that could have felt gimmicky in less capable hands.

“Twenty-Two,” You’re the Worst
Last season, You’re the Worst received large rounds of applause for its nuanced portrayals of clinical depression. It now turns its attention to PTSD by letting Edgar take center stage. Edgar, an Iraq War veteran, is generally known on the show for doing nice things for his self-absorbed friends and getting insulted in return. There are casual references to his trauma, but they have often served as punchlines or comedic relief. “Twenty-Two” is the first time we see the world from his perspective, and it’s a lonely, anxious place, where threats lurk in grocery store aisles and desperation for relief calls for drastic measures. You lock step with Edgar and understand why picking up snacks can require an extraordinary amount of bravery and why asking for help at a V.A. appointment can lead to disaster. Watching the episode is an exercise in empathy, and that’s what makes it a standout.

Season 2, Transparent
I started watching Transparent when Amazon decided to stream the first season for free after its first and very successful showing at the Emmy Awards. I binged watched the whole thing. The experience of watching all ten episodes in one setting convinced me that I liked the show, yet it wasn’t until I worked my way through this season (this time, in gradual increments) that I understood why I found it so compelling. There are a lot of shows about complicated families, but Transparent portrays its family as a living, breathing entity, something that is coming of age, even though all the kids have grown up and their parents are in their sunset years. The Pfefferman family as a unit feels as much of a character as Maura, Shelly, Sarah, Josh, and Ali. It lives and grows just as the individual characters do. Favorite episodes of season 2 include “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump,” “Mee-Maw,” “The Book of Life,” and “Man on the Land.”

Jed Bush’s cameo in the Emmy Award’s Opening Montage
Jed Bush is everything that he wasn’t during his run for GOP presidential nominee—charming, self-aware, and funny.


You Must Remember This
You Must Remember This takes listeners on a deep-dive into “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” In each episode, host Karina Longworth explores the lives, dramas, and sudden plot twists of Hollywood history through a biographical lens. (Each episode or series focuses on a specific actor, director, etc.) With its careful research, fun voice acting, and attention to detail, it’s a must-listen to anyone interested in film history (or history in general).

In the Dark
Allow me to be a contrarian for a moment: I thought that Serial, the true crime series that put podcasting into popular culture lexicon, was merely okay. In the Dark, which explores the 1989 abduction of eight-year-old Jacob Wetterling, is way better. Because Danny Heinrich, Jacob’s kidnapper and killer, has already confessed to the crime, it is able to eschew the typical whodunnit format of many true crime shows. This leaves the series to explore what I think are more interesting questions: What mistakes did investigators make when Jacob’s disappearance was first reported? What led them to follow the wrong person of interest? What are the longstanding implications of the sex offender registry laws that were passed after high-profile abduction cases?

“Spanx” (How I Built This)
Sara Blaxley, inventor of very useful hosiery that eliminates panty lines, tells the saga of how she created her product and convinced other people that it was a product that was worth making. Blaxley is an engaging storyteller and makes starting your own business sound easy.


The Witch
Robert Eggers’s “New England folktale” is a creepy, sparse horror flick that gets props for historical authenticity and psychological thrills. Set in 17th century New England, the movie follows the trials and tribulations of a Puritan family who has been banished from their village. Witchcraft-related hijinks ensue.


Fever” from E•MO•TION: Side B (Carly Rae Jepsen)
Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest release is a shining star of a collection. Presumably drawn from the 250 songs that she recorded for  E•MO•TION, this EP (and this song in particular) has all the sparkly synths and ‘80s-pop inspired hooks that you could ever want in the last few days of summer. Other gems on this release include “Higher” and “Roses.”

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