Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 6

Food for Thought (…See What I Did There?)

Unspeakable Appetites” (Lenny Letter)
In film, you’ll find a lot of female characters who are also cannibals. This short piece offers some thoughts on the matter.

Revenge of the Lunch Lady” (Huffington Post)
In one of America’s most unhealthiest counties, Rhonda McCoy, a food-services director, revamps the oft-dreaded school lunch.

There’s a Massive Restaurant Industry Bubble, And It’s About to Burst” (Thrillist)
Citing unreasonably high expectations from consumers, rising labor costs encroaching on already-thin profit margins, and pressures to compete with trendy fast-casual places, this harbinger of doom of an article predicts the death of the independently owned sit-down restaurant.

Learning to Make Lasagna in Kyrgyzstan” (Bon Appetit)
A writer recounts how cooking became a form of self-care while serving in the Peace Corps.

Journeyman” (New Yorker)
Here’s an excellent profile of Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and world explorer.
Further reading: “Fiction Confidential” (Eater)

Alpha Gal” (Radiolab)
Amy Pearl learns that she might have an unusual food allergy. What’s a person to do when she discovers that eating meat might kill her?
Further listening: “May Contain Nuts, Pt. 1: Alpha Gal Returns” “(The Sporkful)

Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow
This is truly a coffee-table cookbook, full of beautiful and at times perplexingly styled photos, dazzlingly complicated recipes that veer into impracticality, and lots of vegetables. I may never cook anything in its pages, but I still want it on my bookshelf.

Links

Nobody Is Home” (Aeon)
Thanks to our modern times, home might not be where the heart is anymore.

You Want to Marry My Husband” (New York Times)
Children’s author  Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer last fall, creates a dating profile for the husband that she’ll leave behind in this touching and heartbreaking Modern Love column.

Losing Streak” (New Yorker)
Kathryn Schluz reflects on the experience of losing things, both trivial and profound. She writes, “We lose things because we are flawed; because we are human; because we have things to lose.”
Further reading: “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness” (The Huffington Post)
Despite seeing gay rights achieve huge gains, gay men still feel incredibly alone and alienated.

‘I Feel Like a Fraud’: Confessions of a Broken-Down Domestic Violence Lawyer” (Vice Broadly)
A lawyer learns just how Kafkaesque the criminal justice system is when it comes to domestic abuse.

‘They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals’” (New York Times)
This photographic essay documents the horrific brutality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent anti-drug campaign in the Philippines. It is not for the faint of heart.
Further reading: “The  Tough Guy” (New Yorker)

The Prairie Wife” (New Yorker)
Gender Studies” (New Yorker)
I am now currently waiting in anxious anticipation for Curtis Sittenfeld to one day release a short story collection.

Podcasts

Amok” (The Memory Palace)
What does a 19th century news report about zoo animal escape have to do with our present day? Spare five minutes and take a listen.

MGM Stories, Part 12: Lana Turner” (You Must Remember This)
In this episode from the archive, Karina Longworth explors the rise of Hollywood’s  “Sweater Girl.” There’s also a gripping account of her daughter’s murder trial. (Cheryl Crane was the talk of the town after she killed her mother’s boyfriend.)

No Hollywood Ending for the Visual-Effects Industry” (Freakonomics)
Stephen Dubner takes a deep dive into Hollywood’s visual-effects industry to learn why America’s studios are going bankrupt.

Millennial‘s  four-part series on Cuba
Megan Tan travels to Cuba to explore what it’s like coming-of-age in a country so different from ours.

Adulthood Made Easy
I bid adieu to a podcast that was always earnest, often reassuring, and occasionally aspirational. Each episode was full of sound advice and the comfort that comes from other people agreeing that being an adult can leave you scratching your head.

Television & Movies

Season 4, Rectify
I expected nothing less than a stellar final season of this beautiful, thoughtful show. In many ways, Rectify is the anti–crime procedural; whereas most crime shows treat viewers to fast-paced plot twists, splashy action scenes, and forensic science, Rectify is never really interested in who commits the rape and murder that upends the Holden family’s lives. Instead, it’s won my everlasting devotion because it takes its sweet old time (only a few months elapse over the course of the entire show) and feels introspective in a way that many other shows are not.

Search Party
Looking for more hilarious shows about really annoying twenty-somethings that live in Brooklyn? Look no further! When Dory learns that a college acquaintance has gone missing, she enlists her ragtag group of friends and her boyfriend to crack the case.This show, which can be best described as a satire, is sharp and self-aware with plenty moments of humor and existential ennui.

Moonlight
Just go watch it. I promise it’s excellent.

Books

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Paul Beatty’s Man Booker prize is well-deserved for this absurdist tragi-comedy, in which the protagonist tries to reintroduce segregation to save his hometown in California. You’ll laugh out loud, feel deeply uncomfortable, and learn something about race in America.

Honorable Mentions

Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 5

Links

10 Streets that Define America” (Curbed)
Full of cinematic gifs of boulevards, thoroughfares, and tree-lined avenues across the United States, this interactive showcases how new developments and changes have affected ten different cities and neighborhoods. Put it all in perspective with a nifty feature that lets you see how a profiled town compares to your current address.
Further reading: “Return to Ohio” (The Atlantic)

Brand New Hue: The Quest to Make a True Blue M&M” (New York Times Magazine)
Natural blue food coloring is notoriously difficult to make, but with consumers eschewing artificial anything, food chemists at Mars Chocolate put their thinking caps on and try to recreate the bright hue so easily provided by Blue No. 1. Fun fact: Blue No. 1 is the only food dye that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Spoiler Alert” (Pacific Standard)
On the topic of food, a bureaucratic nightmare of regulations and 15 federal agencies maintain the safety of our food supply. Ironically, these rules might make us more susceptible to the next outbreak of foodborne illness.

How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Third of the Cost” (The Atlantic)
Take a peak inside a country where health care is protected as a constitutional right and a holistic and primary care physician–centered approach.

Speak, Memory” (The Verge)
When Roman Mazurenko passes away, his best friend creates an unusual digital memorial: a bot that responds to texts from his loved ones so uncannily reminiscent like the deceased.
TV accompaniment: “Be Right Back,” Black Mirror

With Child” (Harper’s Magazine)
With our current administration, we might see more states looking a lot like South Dakota when it comes to abortion access.

Sex, Drugs, and Bestsellers: The Legend of the Literary Brat Pack” (Harper’s Bazaar)
Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, Donna Tartt and Jill Eisenstadt give the Lost Generation a run for their money.

Launch Pad” (New York Times Magazine)
Arunachalam Muruganantham made it his mission to design an affordable sanitary pad for the women in his life.
Further reading: “Code Cracking,” “Look Again,” and…actually, the entire Design Issue is worth reading from front to back.

They Speak Gilmore, Don’t They?” (HazLit)
When I watched the reboot at home, my brother, who was also in the living room, turned to me after the opening scene and asked, “Why are they talking so fast?” Well, here are some thoughts.

My President Was Black” (The Atlantic)
Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on the promise, disappointments, and experience of America’s first African-American president.

My Friend Sam” (New Yorker)
Curtis Sittenfeld writes a touching essay to her best friend Sam. Their friendship takes them from their college days to Sam’s cancer diagonsis. I won’t spoil the ending.

My Son, the Prince of Fashion” (GQ)
Michael Chabon reflects on accompanying his son to Paris Fashion Week, where he begins to understand who is son really is, his passions, hopes, and dreams.

Every Body Goes Haywire” (n+1)
An author reflects on the neurological disorder that inflicts her and her mother.
Further reading: “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” by Leslie Jamison

The Hygge Conspiracy” (The Guardian)
All those cozy nights spent around the fireplace with hand knitted socks, hot cocoa, and the company of family and friends have a dark side.

The Soccer-Star Refugees of Eritrea” (New Yorker)
The Eritrean soccer team has a field day as they plan a mass defection after a World Cup game. (Sorry for the bad pun.)

Profiles

The Afterlife of a Ballerina” (Elle)
Alexandra Ansanelli is exceptional in the ballet world: a prodigy who discovered dance years after most aspiring professional ballerinas put on their first shoes; a principal dancer not only for the New York Ballet but also the Royal Ballet; and in a move that surprised everyone, a rare talent who decided to quit at the height of her powers.

The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn” (New Yorker)
Meet Carrie Goldberg: the lawyer fighting in the new frontier of sexual privacy.

The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close” (New York Times Magazine)
Chuck Close has made his career with larger-than-life, exquisitely rendered portraits, but he has entered a new phase in his life—divorcing his wife, disappearing to Miami Beach, and developing a new mode of painting that is a departure from the pieces that made him famous.

Books/I Recently Read a Lot of Non-Fiction

The Argonaut by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson reflects on family life, motherhood, and her partner’s gender transition in this wondrous essay-memoir. The writing spills over with beautiful turn-of-phrases, and Nelson intersperses her prose with just the right amount of critical theory to keep your brain on your toes.

The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson
For those who are interested in learning more about systemic racism and oral histories, I got you covered. Life for African-Americans was marked by constant terror in a world whose byzantine rules life-threateningly fickle at best.

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
If you’re looking to escape your liberal bubble with a book, skip Hillbilly Elegy and pick up sociologist Arlie Russell Hoschild’s empathetic, candid account of the people she met in a deeply conservative county of Louisiana.

TV

Stranger Things
I know, I’m late to the party, but who knew I would like this nostalgic, creepy, and endearing show so much?

“The Inherent, Unsullied, Qualitative Value of Anything,” You’re the Worst
This episode does impressive work in terms of both its form and content. We pick up (kind of) full-circle with the gang at a wedding, where the continuous camera shots do a wonderful job of depicting the small dramas of the guests. By putting the characters with lots of feelings about their lot in life and their significant others in a social setting that is meant to be celebratory and requires them to be on their best behavior, it’s no wonder that conflicts come to a head.

Black Mirror
Black Mirror continues to excel in pinpointing the uncomfortable and unsettling facets of our technology-filled world and taking them to their logical, dystopic extreme.
Further reading: “The Speculative Dread of ‘Black Mirror‘,” New Yorker

The Crown
This serialized is simultaneously captivating and excruciatingly boring in its careful attention to detail, but if you’re as obsessed with Queen Elizabeth as I am, then you’ll love every minute and be unusually forgiving of the bad CGI animals. The show shines with its nuanced portrayals of the monarchy and the toll it takes on Elizabeth and her relationships with those around her.

Podcasts

Heavyweight
In this introspective show, host Jonathan Goldstein takes listeners as he tries to right past wrongs, mend broken hearts, and resolve petty squabbles. Plus, Heavyweight’s theme song is the catchiest.
Highly recommended episodes: “Toby,” “Tara”

Boy in the Picture,” Reply All
There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet, which means that there are a lot of stories behind the items that wind up there. PJ, Alex, and Sruthi try to track down a boy that’s featured on a meme and create an episode that has a crime-procedural flair and plenty of moments of suspense.

Revisionist History
Malcolm Gladwell takes his signature blend of pop social science and passioned polemic to the airwaves with ten episodes that want to challenge your assumptions and make you reconsider the forces that lead to certain decisions and historical events.

Movies

Manchester by the Sea
I saw this movie on a Thursday afternoon in a theater filled with senior citizens, one of which fell asleep and snored loudly in a back corner. And it was the perfect way to watch Manchester by the Sea. What this movie does best is capture the funny awkwardness and small tragedies of everyday life. I laughed and cried, sometimes all at the same time, and it’s the type of thing that gels well with my (very) dark sense of humor.
Further reading: “The Cinematic Traumas of Kenneth Lonergan,” (New Yorker)

La La Land
This movie was just so, so charming.

Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 4

Links

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.

Profiles

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.

Continue reading “Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 4”

Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 2

Long Things

How Mark Zuckerberg Led Facebook’s War to Crush Google Plus (Vanity Fair Hive)
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair launched a “new mobile-first site devoted to Wall Street, Washington, and Silicon Valley.” As you’d expect, it’s full of articles that give an inside look behind closed doors or their best guess at what’s happening. This piece in particular shines when it describes Facebook’s work culture and lets you see what it’s like to be a part of their world.

Ripple Effect (Wired)
About two weeks ago, I received an email from the DC Public Library system notifying me that seven drinking water sources in libraries throughout the city have high levels of lead. I soon read this article, which follows water engineer Marc Edwards and his quest to protect our water supply from dangerous substances. It’s a sobering reminder that safe drinking water is not something that can be taken for granted.

Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City (New York Times)
My first introduction to school segregation in a present-day context came from This American Life. I’ve always imagined segregation to be a long-abolished relic from the Jim Crow era, but lots of articles like this one have proven me wrong.

Ethics and the Eye of the Beholder (BuzzFeed)
There is a particularly poignant irony in knowing that a philosopher who is celebrated for his stance on ethics fails to applies these same principles to his personal life.

Fandom Is Broken (Birth. Movies. Death.)
Ghostbusters, Frozen, and the Strange Entitlement of Fan Culture (AV Club)
Is the customer always right? Both pieces say no and that the intense sense of ownership that some fans feel about their favorite works do more harm than good.

The Good News at The Washington Post (New York Magazine)
These days, it sounds like everyone wants to be a media company, especially one armed with buzzwords and innnovation (ahem, TRONC). The Washington Post is no exception, but while it has embraced alluring, click-bait headlines, it’s also trying to figure out how to be a sustainable news organization and adapt to an audience glued to its smartphones. I really like learning about the history of publications, and this article offers a look at how one institution confronting change and using the considerable resources of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to its advantage.

New York City, No Filter: On Voyeurism, Social Media, and Life in the City (Brooklyn Magazine)
This lovely piece explores our collective fascination with the quotidian. Plus, anyone who can eloquently explain the appeal of Snapchat earns lots of points in my book.

Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid (Vela)
Is there a conflict between being an artist and a mother? For this author, this is not quite the right answer to ask. In this essay, she eloquently reframes the debate with the following assertion: “The conflict is between the selfishness of the artist and the selflessness of a mother.”

The State of the Domestic Goddess (Serious Eats)
This piece reviews cookbooks from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chrissy Teigan. In doing so, Emily Gould carefully analyzes what exactly each so-called domestic goddess is trying to sell their readers.

On Swarm (Gawker)
A confession: I was never a regular reader of Gawker and probably never will be, but I was intrigued by this essay. It presents a fairly interesting ideas about that type of fake civility and moral high ground that people use to defend themselves in arguments, but it can be a little petty and unnecessarily confrontational. It’s also very long, possibly too long.

Continue reading “Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 2”

Chronicling My Media Consumption: An Introduction (and Vol. 1)

As anyone who knows me can confirm, I consume a lot of media. I also have a lot of pet projects. Hence, the start of this new series of blog posts, where I collect all the favorite things that I’ve come across in the last month.

Inspiration for this project came from the weekly newsletters that arrive in my email inbox and from just being on the Internet in general. Lately, a lot of link roundups have been popping up on my radar. And they’re currently one of my favorite ways of spending my time. I’ve always been a generalist. It’s why I double majored in very different fields in college and why I’d make a terrible PhD student. It’s also why I love the link roundups I’ve been reading. The articles that I’ve discovered through these pages run the gamut when it comes to subject matter and format. There’s always something that’s relevant to today’s trending subjects. There’s always something that’s completely random as well. Every week, I shake my head in wonder and think, Boy, there is a lot of cool stuff out there.

So why bother adding my own link round up to what already exists? My memory for the things I’ve read/listened to/watched is unfortunately short-lived, unless I tell something about it or write down my thoughts about them. Luckily, this is where the blog posts come in. Thinking about the things I’ve read and why I like (and occasionally dislike) them will help me remember them better. I’ll have better answers when someone asks me what I’m reading/listening to/watching.

Without further ado, here are the favorite things that I’ve come across about in the month of May (and some extra stuff from March and April slipped in there too).

The Internet
“Yet I’ll Speak”: Othello’s Emilia, A Rebuke to Silence (The Toast)
I’m a sucker for thoughtful readings of Shakespeare. I haven’t read Othello since high school, but Moran does an excellent job of explaining why Emilia’s line, written centuries ago, remains so salient in the present-day.

India’s Dying Mother (BBC)
I highly, highly recommend reading this article on your phone. Scrolling through this is a joy. Text, images, and video flow together flawlessly, and it’s a gorgeous piece of storytelling that shows how well different forms of media can be integrated.

Same But Different (The New Yorker)
Siddhartha Mukherjee’s An Emperor of Maladies is one of my favorite nonfiction books, and I was more than a little excited to see excerpts from his forthcoming book in the New Yorker. Since their appearance, Mukherjee has received a lot of flak for dressing up unsound science in beautiful prose, but this article still makes it onto my list because I enjoyed every minute reading it.

“You want a description of hell?” OxyContin’s 12 Hour Problem (LA Times)
Purdue Pharma is despicable. That is all.

How Blac Chyna Beat the Kardashians at Their Own Game (BuzzFeed)
I had so much fun reading this article, and Obell does a fantastic job of teasing out what the drama between Blac Chyna and the Kardashians reveals about race and the construction of celebrity.

Unearthing the Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves (New York Times)
This piece conjures all the morbid thoughts that cross my mind from time to time, especially now that I live in a city where it’s so easy to stay anonymous. It’s also an unsettling reminder of the ways institutions and systems can fail people, even after death.

If You Are What You Eat, America Is All Recipes (Slate)
I’m a card-carrying home cook foodie who’s into obscure vegetables and farmers markets, but I learned how to cook from All Recipes and still sometimes uses sour cream as a substitute for ricotta cheese. I’m glad that someone else was also thinking about the different ends of the food culture spectrum.

How Empowerment Becomes Something for Women to Buy (New York Times Magazine)
My favorite kind of think piece: how something is commodified to its detriment.

How Lifetime Became One of the Best Places in Hollywood (BuzzFeed)
As if I needed more reasons to start watching UnREAL.

The Voyeur’s Motel (The New Yorker)
One of my favorite things about this piece is that it might reveal just as much about the author as it does of Gerald Foos, the voyeur himself. There’s plenty of moral ambiguity to go around.

Continue reading “Chronicling My Media Consumption: An Introduction (and Vol. 1)”