Category: Humor

Weekend Links

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Ducklings, I write to you from the comfort of my own desk as I took today off for an extra long Bank Holiday weekend. I’ve been working late most days for several weeks and Jeff’s schedule has been even worse by order of magnitude. My delightful near-impromptu romp to Italy with X notwithstanding, we continue to feel a bit run down and overextended lately. Hence an extra long weekend, and possibly the last one until the heady days of August.

Happy Memorial Day to American kittens, and enjoy the long sunshine to Brits and Yanks alike. I’ve pulled together a nice batch of weekend reading to take you through until Tuesday. Let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments, and share your favorites reads and finds from around the interwebs in the comments!

What must it be like to have leaders forced from office for this sort of crap? Sounds nice…

If you need a chuckle and enjoy people who in turn genuinely enjoy and revel in the weird things that give them pleasure, this one’s for you.

Go, girl!

Vanilla is not nearly as boring as it has come to colloquially represent.

Maybe let’s at least…try?

From the bottom of my heart, **** this guy.

A short but interesting video journalism piece on K-beauty, resistance, autonomy, and the strength of both personal and international soft power.

This is weirdly sad to me. There are almost no pristine places left to us.

Julian Asange is a bad guy, in my opinion. Full stop. But the way we prosecute him for his actions is going to be important and I’m afraid that the current indictments could open new precedents which could backfire on actual journalists.

Cool. What are you going to do about it, Representative?

What’s in a name? Turns out an awful lot, include podcast readability!

….yeah….

GIRL GANG GOOD NEWS MINUTE: Hannah’s second book cover has dropped and I cannot wait for you guys to read this absolute banger of a book! Revenge has never been colder or more sweet!

Very stable genius.” It really is extraordinary how almost uniquely good the Speaker is in getting under his skin. Why is that I wonder? Trick question, it’s because she’s a woman. (In related news, I’m already tired of 2020 bullshit. Here’s hoping we’re all a much better informed electorate this time around, because active misinformation and selective classification/declassification is getting weaponized in new ways.)

Well, it’s happened…and Britain is…the same, now? I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster of deeply disliking this leader’s policies and mandate, disagreeing intensely with her choices, and grudgingly feeling sorry for the absolute shitty hand she was dealt when a lot of people pushed buttons and scampered away from the subsequent explosions and messes. She was never going to get out of this job unscathed. If we get Boris Johnson as PM I will have to scream into a cushion for a while.

The pettiness is the point.

We will not go back.

Weekend Links

“Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female — whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.”
― Simone de Beauvoir

Darlings, I type this to you after a week spent preparing for and running a large work event. It went well, I’m delighted to say (notwithstanding a couple of technical snaffus that required MacGyvering mechanical fixes at 6:30 in the morning), but I am wiped after it.

Nonetheless, I have still whipped together a nice bunch of weekend links–because I love you, kittens!

I’ve spared you most American and British political news this week because it honestly makes me to angry. Instead I’ve bundled you up some reading that is a mix of tribute, lifestyle, weirdness that that jolly and uplifting standby: female rage in the face of attempts to control our bodies. All with a few chasers of wholesome loveliness to keep your spirits buoyed before we take to the streets.

She was a warrior in a cardigan.” I failed to include this farewell missive last week, which is criminal. She will be missed.

Patriarchy hurts everyone.

I’m hopeless, I guess, because I hate getting up in the morning.

…this is a thing?

HBO has chosen it’s attempt to keep the serial fantasy genre going once Game of Thrones ends this weekend. They’ve clearly spent the money on a good cast, but I wonder how this is going to work out. It’s an interesting move since I think the film adaptation of this didn’t do so well and the viewing public, being the fickle thing that it is, may be in the mood for something different than high fantasy.

Twitter is garbage but I’m never going to quit a site that gives me this:

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Bill Nye has snapped.

The food revolutions have not reached everyone equally. Well, except maybe the bad ones.

This is fucking scary. (It’s also not fucking surprising. Every single person who told us to “calm down” about Justice Kavanaugh or any of it can take a flying leap.

Because they are our bodies, it must be our choice. [uncensored images of postpartum women’s bodies in all shapes and sizes ahead]

Educate yourself.

…And then put your money where your mouth is.

Rebecca Traister, noted chronicler of women’s rage, its use in public life, and the many ways people try to use it to discredit the women feeling it, has some thoughts on this law as well as well as some solid advice. She does not disappoint. “…never again let anyone tell you that the fury or determination to fight on this account is invalid, inappropriate, or inconvenient to a broader message. Consider that this is also what women and marginalized people are told all the time about their anger in general: that they should not express it, not let it out, because to give voice to their rage will distract from their aims, undermine them; that it will ultimately be bad for them. This messaging is strategic. It is designed to get angry people to keep their mouths shut.”

An honest to goodness charmer of a story!

Style matters, and style guides matter.

Gen Xers, you have been profiled.

Oof, just read me, why don’t you….

I can’t believe we have to say this in the year of our Lady Beyonce 2019, but vaccinate, people. We’ve been doing it for a while!

RIP.

And in related news, a lovely take on THAT Keanu pop culture moment.

Weekend Links

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy” 
― Giuseppe Verdi

Well hi there, kittens! I took a break last week to run off to Italy with X in honor of our 20 year Friendiversary–a totally new holiday that I made up to commemorate two decades of pretty amazing friendship. We planned it a month ago and did it on the cheap, with budget flights and Airbnb, subsisting on pizza and cocktails. It was glorious.

I’m now back in the Big Smoke after a Neapolitan sojourn, riddled with anxiety about a big work meeting this week. All is back to normal. It’s also been another pair of jam packed weeks of news and as I type this I’m still catching up on it all. We had the Met Gala and a new squishy Royal Baby but on the other hand, the Trade War with China is back on, North Korea is firing missiles, there have been multiple mass shootings, Brexit is stalled with Prime Minister May being pressured to resign…

Doesn’t it feel like we’re just doomed to live 2017 over and over again at this point? What sick time warp are we stuck in?

This weekend we are getting our house back to rights, doing immigration paperwork some more, and trying to plan out our summer which now includes a family wedding! Nothing so constant as change, I tell ya. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments.

Six months to the day after the largest antisemitic shooting in American history, another synagogue was targeted. I’m no longer surprised, just permanently heartsick… Antisemitism and Islamophobia are twin children of the same ugly, hate-filled rhetoric and fearmongering, and both are on the rise.

Interesting royal news this week, this time from Japan.

While I think it’s ridiculous that the Trump administration bowed out of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner again, but the speech by historian Ron Chenrow is worth a watch which reminds us that we have always been fighting for the soul of America and the fight is renewed every generation.

What a headline! I couldn’t not read it with a teaser trailer like that, but luckily the payoff was well worth it.

This is both ugly and horrible, and so woefully executed as to be ridiculous. How is this incompetent troll not in jail? This is hardly his first rodeo.

Oh I just bet they did

Huh what now?

This was expected but still feels strange. I wonder what his long term legacy is going to be when we are a few administrations away from this present circus. What will his impact be then?

I am deeply and unrepentantly pro-romance novel. Therefore, how was so much of this interview a revelation: nine children, 179 novels, low caffeine!

Given how tight lipped the whole operation has been up until this point, it’s interesting to ponder on how this suddenly got out. “The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.” (Read the text of the letter here.)

Another horrific school shooting, mitigated by one young person’s extraordinary self-sacrifice. May his memory be a blessing.

Mere days later, another shooting with another young person’s act of self-sacrifice saving lives. Such actions are both

“She says she knows she was a racist. She says that she has changed. And she’s ready to tell everything she knows.” This profile of a member of the alt-right media during its height, her personal ascendancy and subsequent reversal of fortunes is a fascinating read. Not least of all because many of the platforms it discusses have not disbanded so much as moved location in recent years. Radicalization is still happening.

People are trying to sell water. Again. And we’re trying to sell make up to men, but MANLY MEN. GRRR! Late stage capitalism is wild.

For the last time, TRUMP IS NOT A BILLIONAIRE OR SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN, HE ONLY PLAYED ONE ON TV.

What a ride this piece was

And in the world of Good News: adorable babies!

Powerful op-ed. “I don’t blame Mark [Zuckerberg] for his quest for domination. He has demonstrated nothing more nefarious than the virtuous hustle of a talented entrepreneur. Yet he has created a leviathan that crowds out entrepreneurship and restricts consumer choice…There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”

Goodness, this is bleak. My one consolation is that I’ve never used airpods once.

Speaking of tech…maybe we should listen to this woman. She’s gotten an awful lot right.

Congrats on doing the bare minimum

We have a new poet laureate!

Society is a-changing, and that’s impacting our living space.

There are only two episodes left in Game of Thrones, which has been a really important series in pop culture history. Unfortunately I, and a bunch of other people, think that the showrunners seem to be stepping all over the theses they’ve been serving us for the last several years. A big element of that is the (very sudden and not really internally consistent) pivots in the female characters. Tom and Lorenzo put this best in their last episode critique. Here’s hoping a show premised on subverting expectations pulls out a couple of whoppers this weekend.

Five Things I Loved in March AND April

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” 
― William Shakespeare (Sonnet XCVIII)

Guys, as previously groveled, work travel and travel travel have absolutely reordered my sense of the spacetime continuum, and therefore I am shamefacedly coming to you with a combined list of favorites. Both March and April were a wild ride, but we’re officially through the first quarter of the year (gulp) and it’s time to rattle off a list of things that brought me joy this past month. Politics are messy and scary, pop culture is booming with good stuff to try and offset the awfulness

Charlotte Gainsbourg x Nars Eyeshadow in Old Street

This was such a good NARS collaboration and this very product featured in my favorites low these many moons ago, but I’ve been using it almost exclusively for the past couple of months and rediscovered just how lovely it is. As part of a duo, rather than a larger or bulkier palette, it was extremely easy to travel with, which was a definite consideration over the past few weeks. I’ve been using the left side shimmer shade as an all over the lid color which pairs beautifully with both bold lips stronger cheek looks. It’s just enough to look as though you have something on your eye, while letting another element of your makeup take center stage. Alas that it was a limited edition shade, but I will definitely look to try and find a decent shade match for it when it runs out.

 

French Press Lip Gloss in Dirty Chai, by Bite Beauty

This was one of the items I picked up whilst in the States at Christmas. For some unaccountable reason, I’ve been setting aside my usual bright lipsticks in favor of staid and demure nudes. No one is more surprised than I, but it’s given me the chance to get some decent use out of these shades and the one I’ve been reaching for most is Dirty Chai, by Bite. It’s a beautiful “your lips, but better” shade that isn’t a sticky mess like the glosses of my youth were. I’ve used up quite a few makeup products in the last little while (always deeply satisfying) and with the weather turning warmer, I’m rotating beauty products the way some women rotate their seasonal wardrobe. This gloss is probably going to stick around my top shelf until I’ve polished it off fully.

 

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

One of the upsides of travel is the chance to catch up on reading or listening on planes, trains or automobiles. Since the 2020 election season is basically upon us, I’m trying to read as many of the books by my preferred candidates as I can. I’d like to learn about their backgrounds and policies, and even though I know most political biographies are propaganda, I find them useful for contextualizing people or policy proposals. However, as a bit of a pre-palate cleanser, I started with the memoir by the former First Lady–technically I listened to it as an audiobook, read by Ms. Obama herself. It was an excellent decision. It’s a lot more personal than most political or politically adjacent memoirs I’ve read, and it felt a lot more open as Ms. Obama speaks to her unabashed urban background, informed by the racial migrations of the early 20th century, her personality quirks, her formative relationships, her marriage, and her deep roots in the Chicago black community. There is a very set script for most political spouses, particularly wives, and it usually requires a lot of silence and performed adoration of their (mostly) husbands. Ms. Obama is not silent. If you are hankering for a good female memoir, I highly recommend this one.

 

All the Rage, by Courtney Summers

Speaking of female books, though decidedly not on the optimistic side of the scale, I read this Young Adult novel in a single sitting. Hannah recommended this book to me originally and as in so many things she sends my way, it was a great. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy or gentle read, if anything it’s downright dark and speaks to the trauma that lives inside way too many girls. To quote my own Goodreads review, “There is a powerful thread of rage that runs through the female experience–not all of us, not to the same extent, but it’s there. There is a unique combination of shame, silence, doubt, fear, helplessness, pressure, and threat that I have never seen combined and weaponized against men or boys once the way it is routinely used against women and girls. Rage often seems like the only logical response, and yet it’s one we very rarely see expressed. We need to see it more and books like this are a good place to start. Hard, hard, hard book to read but important for that very reason.”

 

Fleabag, BBC

Okay, so complicated women working through their pain is something of thing for me lately, back off! This show just wrapped its second season, but if like me you are late to the party, rectify this immediately. This show is dark and brilliant and intensely personal, with the main conceit being the auteur and main character’s constant breaking of the fourth wall to exchange long looks or commentary with us, the viewers. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is also the creative genius behind Killing Eve and has apparently been tapped my Daniel Craig to improve the last latest Bond film script…at this point I am prepared to eat anything she serves up with a spoon and both hands!

Weekend Links

“The April winds are magical,
And thrill our tuneful frames;
The garden-walks are passional
To bachelors and dames.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson    

Happy weekend, my poppets. After two shortened weeks at work, it’s been a bit difficult to get into the groove and the weather has turned cool again, but we are soldiering through. Aided by a heaping dose of nerdery with the first “summer” blockbuster film and awaiting the next Game of Thrones episode with equal parts longing and dread! Other than that we are just catching up on lost sleep this weekend and cleaning our apartment like staid and steady grown ups. Laundry will no doubt feature heavily.

The news is once again a pile of angst-inducing horror, but I’ve tried to pull out some of the better reads on the internet for you this week to help make sense of it all. We have royal gossip, internet culture, linguistics, and comedy to get you through the weekend. Share your favorite finds from the online world and tell me what you’re up to in the comments.

Horrible…Holy Week this year has been filled with heartache…

It’s not cool anymore to be manufactured.” Uh oh, has the latest backlash begun?

Incels genuinely terrify me, but this story of the evolution of this radical online community is gripping and informative. At the root of a lot of male radicalization (a growing global problem) is isolation, pain, and emotional mis-education. Couple that with human tribalism, the unique self-sorting mechanisms of online culture and good ol’ reliable misogyny and you get a toxic stew of resentment and rage. Marinate in that for long enough the oft blurred lines between “irony” or “trolling” and real life simply fade. It doesn’t matter if you really are a violent misogynist or just pretending to be one online…the acts of extremism are on the rise regardless.

Related to the above, as with so many things, women of color saw the dangers coming and tried to warn us. We need to shut up, listen, and learn as a society, we might yet save ourselves some future heartache.

Seems obstruction-y?

At some point I just need to accept that this blog will turn into a fan site for the Museum of English Rural Life. I love them.

I am both sicked and not surprised by this story

We are reaching an interesting point in society. Long able to avoid actual principled stands by being able to hide behind pseudo philosophy and jargon (radical transparency! Free speech! No political correctness!), we now have too many instances of bad faith from too many people and platforms which thrived by making those claims. We seem to be losing patience for it. Either you believe all violent extremism is bad, or you accept that some is more allowable (white supremacists) than others (jihadists). Either you believe you have the right to make judgements about what spaces you offer people, or insist that everyone participates and has the ability to do horrible things on your platform. Both options have positives and negatives. Both options have consequences. Both options will make you unpopular with some powerful people. Pick one anyway. That’s principle.

And to flip this on to consumers, we need to be thinking ever more critically about the platforms we are choosing. No one is forcing us onto Twitter or Instagram, but our voluntary participation is changing us anyway.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT.

I want to befriend this absolute badass.

Fashion as a legal tool.

Yes, I have seen Avengers: Endgame and found it deeply satisfying. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is such an interesting narrative vehicle and with both it and Game of Thrones drawing down this season, I’m curious to see if pop culture will continue to live in this current space where worldbuilding and intersecting arcs last for years, or if we’re going to return to more standalone pieces of entertainment. Or indeed if something wholly new pops up!

Didn’t do the homework for Avengers? You’re covered:

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Fascination with the royal family being what it is, I think this take on the powers of optics to a group of people (particularly the women who marry in!) when you are often denied a voice is pretty spot on. And I for one think that at the moment those women are doing most of the heavily lifting for the brand of the monarchy while those to the manor born are making the job harder! (The latest tea, if you care about such things. I’ve said it before but it still stands, you could not have paid me to marry into this family!)

The medievalist/Game of Thrones crossover content I crave.

Year of Discipline: March AND April

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ” 
― William James

Discipline, you laugh? Quelle discipline? I’m a month behind on my accountability, and if that doesn’t tell you where I’m at in this project, nothing will.

General Motivation: Woof, mixed bag here, ducklings. I’ve had a series of breakthroughs recently when it comes to work and mental health which have been incredibly positive but I’ve also struggled mightily with trying to force myself to stay on target and track with several things. Another minor depressive bout, unhelped by uneven sleep and eating, have not made things easier. However, I must say that the first bank holiday of the year with absolutely oodles of vitamin D helped tremendously.

Health: this has not been what it should for the past couple of months due to injuring my knee in February but as the weather warms up and we have more sunlight, I’m also feeling much more energetic and less sluggish. Basically, I’m turning into a houseplant in my old age. I started exercise a bit more regularly again this month and want to keep doing that into May.

Finances: I am absolutely chuffed with progress in this area! The changes to my banking plan earlier this year have had the exact intended effect and have enabled me to budget even more effectively, which is therefore enabling us to do things like continue to pay down debt and still afford weekend trips with friends AND add an additional £200 a month to my savings fund. We’re still spending way too much on food, but that’s largely because Jeff is still winding down busy season in accountancy world which means he’s taking lunches and dinners at work, and I’m doing more travel than ever with my job which means I’m having to eat on the go. This has never been my working reality before this year and it’s been quite an adjustment to make. That should be dying down with the summer months, however, so a big goal for May is going to be to get back on the meal planning and cooking wagon. In terms of shopping, I made a list of things I wanted for summer, whittled it down to a single item, and paid for it out of my cash budget. *dusts hands in delight*

Grooming: I still hate doing my hair, but I’ve kept at it, so help me god. I also booked an appointment with a stylist whom I’ve gone to previously and like and for the first time in my adult life, prebooked my NEXT appointment for a few months down the road instead of waiting until I felt and looked like an undergroomed poodle to take action. Yes, other women have made this leap a long time ago and yes I am late to this most basic of personal maintenance. Sue me. Progress is progress. If I hate my hair this much the only solution is to turn it over to experts more often.

Other Stuff:

Planned a girl’s trip with X, which I cannot wait for!

Put some major work projects to bed.

Bought fresh flowers for the house every single week this month.

Spring cleaned our apartment.

Opened discussions with our landlord about a new lease.

Weekend Links

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” 
― Arthur Miller

What. A. Week. I feel like I’ve been saying this every week for nearly three years, but so much is happening all the time that it’s head-spinning to try and keep up with it all. Between Beyoncé, cultural heritage disasters, the shenanigans of Trumpworld, and the long awaited release of the (albeit redacted) Mueller report.

It’s a long weekend with unusually good weather. I’m kicking up my heels in the sunshine and doing a bunch of reading (yes, including the report in full), and planning some quality time with friends and family. Share your plans, reading and otherwise, in the comments.

Notre Dame cathedral caught fire this week (Holy Week…). All credit to a human chain of people who worked together to save the artwork and relics of the cathedral’s treasury, and the fire brigade who helped to fight the blaze. At time of writing, while the damage is severe, there are reasons to be joyful about what has survived as well as mourn what’s been lost. An iconic and sacred place, holy to faith and beauty and transcendental light; there aren’t really words, but a few Parisians managed anyway:

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While we’re discussing places of worship…donations to three smaller churches deliberately burned by a racist arsonist welcome here. Notre Dame already has the support of the world, to the tunes of millions of Euros, but kindness is needed most on smaller scales.

Conspiracy theorists are trash.

It is christened!

Seems like a, pardon me, huge fucking deal.

Women across the country say: duh.

I recognize the challenges, but I think that a society-wide commitment to literacy and building it into the infrastructure of neighborhoods is a great idea.

This interview piece made the rounds last week, I think because as a self-own, it feels well-deserved.

If there is one thing we can’t stop following at Small Dog Headquarters, it’s the Saga of J. Crew. I’ve been personally invested for over a decade.

A deep dive into the mysterious case of Fan Bing Bing.

Now that Game of Thrones is back and singing its swansong, Vulture ask, “Have we reached the end of communal TV watching?” I wonder if this is more of an American problem than anything else? Britain, for example, has a core set of national channels that pretty reliably turns out shows that it feels like the whole country gathers to watch. Great British Bake Off, Broadchurch, Love Island…you can bet on at least one of these a year.

Speaking of, Game of Thrones being back means Gay of Thrones is back!

I have never once regretted my humanities degree. Not once. I will champion humanities and related education until the day I die.

This guy just barely got confirmed.

GOOD. I’m genuinely glad to see a Republican stepping in to compete with President Trump and wish him luck in promoting a more coherent set of priorities than sound bites, grievance, racism and isolationism. Someone needs to make this case.

I’m really pleased to see positive results so far from this experiment in a school serving parents as well as children. We need programmes like this explicitly designed to lift whole communities.

That…that is a big question….

More woes for Facebook (and this report not only that personal data was being made available not just for sale but as per the personal direction of the CEO based on his friendships is…oligarchy at work?).

There are a million hot takes on the Mueller report, but for my money, the only good initial takes are from legal professionals and not talking heads. The Lawfare one is long, but well worth the read. I for one am still working my way through the document and, surprise, my mind has not been changed: what is already in the public domain about this man and his entourage should have disqualified him from office long ago and the “best” defenses of his various malicious actions have been ignorance, incompetence, and that we shouldn’t worry because people didn’t end up following his crazy orders anyway. This has always been a matter for Congress–NOT the Attorney General. I fear Congress will do nothing.

On the other side of the spectrum, this is the kind of quality content I come to the internet for.

The world is not 100% trash this week, kittens! Beyonce dropped a concert album and a concert film/documentary, and though we are undeserving, we are grateful! It’s on Netflix, go partake of the Queen’s greatness.

Lizzo’s album also dropped. We are not worthy.