Category: Pop Culture

Weekend Links: 2020 Begins Edition

Beloveds, 2020 is upon us! And my god, we’re only three days in. I’ve honestly been trying to muster up some positivity for the new year, as I normally enjoy fresh slates and clean starts, but I’m struggling. 2019 was hard on a personal level and scary on a macro one, and 2020 is…ah…seeming to start as it means to go on.

However, on a long and delightful call with X the other day we discussed the wonderful motivating power of SPITE. So join me, poppets, in declaring at the outset, that we are not going to give in to despair or undue cynicism–for no other reason than that our collective antagonists are hoping for just that. Get hydrated, caffeine up, register to vote, pick a small handful of causes that you care about deeply to devote your energies to, decide whose good opinion and love is actually important to you and prioritize your life according, and hug a dog. We’re going to get through this year and we’re going to do it with aplomb.

Here is a nice batch of weekend reading to look back fondly on the good, catch up on some things you may have missed, and ground yourself for what we’re likely going to deal with in 2020.

The year in memes.

The year in fashion.

The year in podcasts.

I bet you didn’t know you needed a deep dive into the world of lingerie, but you do.

I’m glad that the news media seems final able to confront some of their failings, particularly the areas that fall in talking head and “opini-tainment” as Jon Stewart once called it. I also think that for it to have taken this long denotes something more disappointing if not sinister.

Anatomy of a radicalization.

At this point, reporting that does not do the connecting work of white nationalism and other political views is doing an active disservice to us. I’m grateful to see this changing.

I’m also grateful to see the discourse on climate change improving, but it’s horrifically late.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

This is a fantastic round up of culture “moments” of the past year, and a good list of things to try and catch up on if you’ve thus far missed out.

Behold a goddamned headline!

People who are anti-immigration in my country can’t do math.

I could read a whole book on how “fan culture” has taken over everything from politics to pop culture, and what this means for us as a society. I spend an inordinate time thinking about it. In the meanwhile, this article is a great starting point.

Romance is a genre I used to morally eschew, then read in shameful secret, and now revel in openly. There is some seriously good writing to be found in its pages, too often dismissed because the target audience is women and the main topic is feelings. That’s a rant for another day…what you need to know is that some major DRAMA went down in the Romance world this week. I watched it unfold in real time on Twitter, but for those who need a primer, Lois Beckett from The Guardian is here to help!

Relatedly to all of the above mess, let’s all diversify our reading this year, shall we?

Oh. So that’s why witnesses are being blocked. Shock, surprise.

Oh. So that’s why the secrecy. More shock, surprise.

We had a fascinating debate in my office about this! It spiraled into the differences between religious and “philosophical” belief systems, and how we chose to allocate protections.

Still developing as I finish up this post but…this feels horribly huge. The consequences are already starting. Mar-al-ago guests and Russian diplomats knew about the attack before the appropriate members of congress did. I remember this all too well from 20 years ago. The performative hawkishness and patriotism, the propaganda to circle the wagons around the government, the othering of whole nations and cultures with a long tail of hideous racism that we are still dealing with. 20 years later, thousands of Americans and allies dead, hundreds of thousands of civilians dead, no clear gains, no increased stability, recent revelations that there was no fucking plan in the first place…NO. NOT AGAIN. Not to appease ideologues, not to distract from domestic scrutiny, not for anything.

Weekend Links: Yuletide Edition

It’s Christmas week, kittens! We were woefully unprepared for the holidays this year and much of our preparations have been of the last minute variety. I snagged the last slot available for Tesco grocery delivery, the last tickets for our local theatre’s “The Rise of Skywalker” (didn’t like it at all, I’m sorry to say), and the second to last delivery option for our Christmas tree. We got my sister’s present in the mail to Japan on the last possible day. We are one missed time slot away from disaster, here!

However, this year we are attempting some holiday baking which is not something we’ve really done in our time in London. Every year that goes by and we “settle” we seem to have a more functional kitchen, so we are leaning into that this season. That being said I burned the last thing I put in the oven to charcoal crisps so…watch this space.

Other than that, we are indulging in food and drink this week and doing precious little else. There are a few more posts coming your way before the end of the year, but in the meantime, I hope your Christmas preparations are going better than mine–if you celebrate–and that you are enjoying the winter season with friends and family.

We’re all going to have to move.

I’ve made a complete break mentally with the world I used to live in.”

Some leading conservative commentators, campaign veterans and media personalities have launched a PAC aimed at defeating President Trump in 2020…or more specifically Trumpism. Their argument, with which I agree, is that Trump does not represent the ideological conservatism that they revere and wish to restore. However, the rise of Trumpism has made me question how much of this ideology was genuine in the first place, and how much of it was simply a wish for ingroups to maintain their own power (financial, racial, perceived control over life circumstances, and so on). Trumpism s

It’s always a joyous week when Anne Thériault drops her latest in the Queens of Infamy series!

Add this to the list of films I want to see. Preferably with Hannah whilst sipping wine.

This piece is over a year old but it’s new to me and how pleasing it is!

I am glad we are asking the question seriously, “What are we going to do with/for/about men?” and making art that tackles that topic. Men may need to puzzle this out on their own, and there’s a question of what role women should take in this debate. (Contrapoints, a prominent left-wing YouTuber, recently made a video arguing this point of view as well–content warning re drug references, sex and sexuality frank talk, and some pretty bold/provocative visuals. I love her and her hyperbolic and performative aesthetic, but she’s definitely not going to be all my reader’s cup of tea!)

Longtime readers know how much I love murder mysteries–a “cozy” murder read or show is quite probably my favorite way to relax. …I’m not saying I’m healthy, I’m saying I’m self aware. And one of the purely aesthetic aspects my film and TV murder favorites all share is that they are stylish as hell. (And in Small Dog Nation, we stan Madeline Khan forever!)

Well, it’s happening.

In religion news this week, this editorial is blistering and it’s still sobering to think of how little effect it will have on the intended community. (ETA, The National Review got in on the act. I predict the same results.)

The Good Place is on hiatus until January, but here is a lovely piece on it and its approach to hopeful humanism and the limits of philosophy. I truly believe TGP is an active force for good in the world.

More Small Dog Nation catnip!

Woof. This is something I’m thinking a lot about recently, both in and out of therapy.

Weekend Links

Your weekend reading is here! And once again, mostly as an act of self care, it’s almost entirely politics free–ENJOY.

We talk a lot about the President’s use of Twitter, but this deep dive into the online world in which his Twitter feed operates and feeds itself is the first examination of that particular ecosystem that I’ve seen. And I think it’s long overdue.

Answers to one of the most consuming and awkward questions of my childhood!

What a harrowing story

Something is definitely in the water (and by “water” I mean capitalism and social media).

So, media is changing all around us. What does this mean for one of the biggest names in magazine publishing, you ask? This is an engrossing read for anyone who is at all interested in the media landscape.

Also from The Intelligencer, this…opening line: “White nationalism has a branding problem.” It’s actually a good review of the state of several of those “influencer Nazis” that everyone gave platforms to because they dressed well and managed to be well-spoken. How’d that turn out for us all? Snark aside, this piece actually has some good points to make about respectability politics for horrible people.

This op ed is infuriating.

Meanwhile, this saga is charming. Let them look at the art!

Crissle West (one half of the EXCELLENT and popular podcast The Read), deserves every ounce of her success.

Genuinely interesting election news–because it’s about process not personalities. Like unto other social experiments, I want to see a decent ranked voting case study in action. It strikes me as much more likely than first-past-the-post to engender a consensus agreement on the results of an election rather than the partisan bitterness we see so much of now.

The revolution will be sloganized.

If there’s one thing we at Small Dog Nation can’t get enough of, it’s a good archeology or excavation story!

Here for the clap back!

The THIRST.

Notorious PWB.

Obviously I have a deep appreciation for the role of “Mormon mommy bloggers” and the role they played in internet culture. Whilst not a mum, Mormon blogging has been a big part of my writing background and personal story, so I still feel weirdly protective about some of the OG characters of the genre.

Weirdly fascinating!

 

Weekend Links: WAGatha Christie and Wagging the Dog

“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. …  How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”
– Mark Twain

This week has been NUTS. We’ve got footballers wives doing a better job that national security apparatuses, the Ukraine scandal spiraling into new depths, and ursine QUEENS. This is an extra hefty dose of links to help you process the *waves hands at general state of things.*

It’s going to be a very normal and calm week, I see…

Super normal.

What BULLSHIT. This is what toxic gender roles mean for everyone: loneliness and disdain for all involved, unless we all participate in a system which requires a hierarchy with winners and losers. Imagine the world we could build if we dedicating one tenth of the energy we put towards reinforcing unequal systems to building better ones that rewarded different many different kinds of success instead of a designated few.

We’ve been playing the “horrible goose” game for a week, this might be next.

I’ve fled that country

Words cannot express how much I love Caitlin Moran and her writing. Her last column in the Sunday Times is short but nails the appeal of chaos to so many right now–particularly those who should, theoretically, be most opposed to it.

LOL to the entire idea that Perry is the criminal mastermind. Also, the internal logic continues to impress me. This “perfect” phone call that is entirely above board was also totally this guy’s fault. Let me be clear, I completely am onboard with the idea that Rick Perry is involved in this mess (and so do other people, given he’s been subpoenaed), but you will have a hard time convincing me that the Oops Guy is responsible for it all.

I need to print out this list and post it. It’s nominally about writing, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the advice is multi faceted.

A rather interesting case progressed this week, wherein the President tried to keep his personal financial records hidden via a rather extraordinary set of circumstances and claims that his office grants him immunity from any kind of criminal prosecution–which would have been a deeply problematic ruling to enshrine in precedent.

This shift in policy is not just bad and last minute on it’s face, it puts one of our most stalwart allies in the fight against ISIS in direct harm’s way, thereby breaking promises and diminishing the likelihood that we are seen as a trusted partner to our own friends the world over. (ETA, two days later…)

TikTok makes me feel very old.

Ooh, someone running the social experiment I want follow!

Ronan Farrow’s latest book exposes a lot more about the shadowy world of private protection and security that the wealthy move in to safeguard them against reputational damage. He’s released excerpts with The New Yorker and they are not fucking around! Part I, Part II, Part III.

Related to the previous, what happens after, you ask?

who’s in for the next pony party?

I don’t like this weird dystopia.

Meanwhile, Holly is a goddamn icon as far as I’m concerned!

SOMEBODY BUY THIS CAPE RIGHT NOW.

We’ve had to go through a lot of pain to realize that this should have been the take from the jump as a society, but I stan a sassy delivery of truth any day of the week.

Also, Elizabeth Warren is extremely good at this.

What a mess this is going to be…on Tuesday the White House sent a rather sloppy legal letter advising the House that they aren’t going to participate in the investigation into their behavior. This is either ridiculous gaslighting or they don’t understand how an investigation works. Likely both. Now is when we are going to see if our constitutional checks and balances actually work: will the House be able to serve and enforce subpoenas, or is the president above the law? Regardless of your politics, this has huge implications for American politics.

On Wednesday, the prominent legal scholar Noah Feldman summed up the impasse are barreling towards.

Also, greater insight into how a fairly small outfit (all things considered) is destabilizing nations and events around the world.

Something I honestly think about a lot: will Jeff and I ever really be able to retire?

A tragic and difficult read, about individual pain and community trauma.

I love fall!

The kerfuffle with the NBA and China, explained.

How did you survive the WAG War of 2019? Anything that gets the term “Wagatha Christie” trending will absolutely command my attention.

How handy! A new list of things to read, all of which tickle my fancy!

Another week, another great Amanda Mull piece.

It’s leather jacket season!

Thursday. Welp. (A tiny reminder of how deeply incestuous all of this world is, and a quick summary. Another tiny nugget/reminder that their companies are called Fraud Guarantee and Mafia Rave. Seriously.)

“…the best people…”

Reminder: to understand the Ukraine shenanigans, you have to understand the world of conspiracy theories. It’s also increasingly likely that some of the most powerful men (and they are mostly men) in the world, actually DO believe these.

On the flip side, here’s a succinct timeline of the Ukrainian situation as it actually happened. In other words, Mr. Guiliani was not “looking for dirt”

All the AOC haircut “scandal” has made clear to me is that most men don’t realize how expensive it is to be a woman.

Hey, that Webtoon I shared on a previous monthly favorites post has some great news!

Friday. The role of the Supreme Court really is the Chekov’s Gun in the Trump presidency.

Also Friday.

Also also Friday. (Her statement is not messing about.)

And did sweet f a about it, apparently.

Fuck.

Extremely relevant to my interests and past professional life. This change will affect how money flows across this entire planet!

SHAMELESS PLUG OF THE WEEK. I’m so bloody proud of her I could burst! Enjoy this pleasing tease of the British version of her upcoming book and sharpen your knives in anticipation.

Welp, this baby made me cry.

Weekend Links

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
― Groucho Marx

Ducklings, another weekend is upon us and it has been a bonkers one. Short intro this week we have a lot to catch up on and discuss!

Honestly, SNL nailed it. And by “it” I mean my fears, the reality of the moment, and the correct chaotic energy.

I heartily love the phrase “yoga babble” and find it a very apt description.

RIP to an icon.

I’ve gone on a roller coaster in the run up to this film, first being excited by the idea of it, put off by the groundswell of toxicity that sprang up in the worst corners of the internet around it, and troubled by … Based largely on this review, I think I’ve circled back around to being fairly excited to see it. It seems very current to the times and for that reason, I’m interested. Jeff and I went to see Hustlers last week (bit of a weird segue, but walk with me) and afterwards I opined that it was the first film I’d seen since The Big Short that I felt was about our current era in a very deliberate way. It was certainly the first movie I’ve seen that expressed anger and a revenge fantasy for the past 10 financial years. Pop culture has been largely been centered in the realm of science fiction and fantasy (Marvel and Game of Thrones, anybody?) and avoidant of The Now. I know Joker is a comic book piece, but the themes it’s clearly tackling are all 2019.

Like catnip for Small Dog Nation.

I too am THIS many years old.

In fact, I’m getting too old for the new platforms of Kids These Days…how grim.

Of COURSE they are. Just get out of the way, peeps, and let the teen girls do their thing. They are 100% our best hope for the future.

Shaken or stirred?

DUH.

How is James Franco still allowed out in society?

Baby steps, I guess? I actually perversely hope that what this accomplishes is enough social cognitive dissonance to drive real social change for women.

You guessed it, I’m still not over this business story.

Content warning: this reporting from the New York Times is incredibly hard to read, and some people may not be able or wish to, but it’s important. The scourge of online abuse and sexual exploitation of children has exploded in recent years and our ability to track it, hold abusers to justice, and protect victims is fundamentally not scaling with the technical ability of the individuals and communities creating and spreading it. Here’s hoping that sunlight provokes change.

The political news will be summarised at the end of this post (to avoid my brain exploding) but this piece is worthwhile both because from what I’m seeing early on this week, most of the defense attempts of the administration’s behavior are trying to invoke an outright conspiracy theory. This needs to be understood, alongside the remembrance that the current president rose to political prominence and viability off the back of conspiracy theories. It’s simultaneously vital info, but will not dissuade those support him BECAUSE of conspiratorial views and not IN SPITE of them.

Meanwhile, some local reporting out of Wisconsin that has relevance not just to the state and a major local industry but also to America, the land of opportunity and where hard work definitely always pays off… In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”

Ah, another British American cross over event. Our special relationship is not just about hairstyles, it’s about mutually punishing political foes. Cool.

In other British news

Brexit is also going great, by the way.

We are a pro-bath family.

“Kirstjen, you didn’t hear me the first time, honey,” Mr. Trump said, according to two people familiar with the conversation. “Shoot ’em down. Sweetheart, just shoot ’em out of the sky, O.K.?” What. The. Fuck. I’m not talking about the alligator filled moat. I can’t.

QUEENS OF INFAMY UPDATE.

Maybe dudes should sit this one out, just generally.

What a beautiful essay from Zadie Smith.

AH. Nothing is new. We’ve circled back to his original desired endgame, back before he thought he would win.

The UK and the US are both reporting dramatic drops in native wildlife in recent decades. In case you wanted some cheery news this week…

LOLOLOLOL. This guy is SO bad at crimes. Her subtweet was perfect.

Who had “Ruin Whisky” on their 2019 bingo card?

At this point I will read anything by Amanda Mull, her beat of shopping, consumption, women’s perspectives, health and wellness is very much my jam. Her latest on how Forever 21 (but really a lot of other people in capitalism) underestimated the young folk, and women in particular, to simply not need them.

Who asked for this? Why? How did they do the math to identify this demographic?!

Oh, fuck off. Woke culture didn’t harm you, it’s making you rich. Shut up.

This week’s best Twitter profile.

Okay, this is moving unbelievably fast. *cracks knuckles*

Monday through Wednesday: let’s sum up the mess of conspiracy theorist trash, honest debates about nepotism we need to have–right alongside the discussion of bad faith defenses of corruption when it’s Your Guy we’re talking about, and wide ranging complacency/complicity that got us to this point. (This interview with the former Ukrainian prosecutor general is stunning, but it cuts through the noise quite a bit.)

Thursday: THERE it is, just saying the quiet parts out loud and betting that if he does it in broad daylight, he’ll get away with it. He may, depressingly, be right. Meanwhile, at the OTHER coverup

Friday: a summary. Bleeding hell. A lot of aides have apparently been privately “horrified” at the President’s cavalier calls for a long time and decided to do fuck all about it. Profiles in courage.

Weekend Links

“If the spirit has passed through a great many sensations, possibly it can no longer be sated with them, but grows more excited, and demands more sensations, and stronger and stronger ones, until at length it falls exhausted.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler

What a year this week has been…

General mood.

This is a short but really compelling TED talk and very well worth your time.

That’s a lot of Brits to repatriate in peacetime!

This headline should read, “Mr. Trump Tried It.” Ms. Thunberg was ready for the clapback, as you might have expected. Never tried to out-internet the children. They haven’t had to acclimate to this world the way we have, they are native users and they are SCARY. (Also, the sheer amount of adults trying to bully children is gross.)

Her murderous rampage continued and reader, I cackled!

Why traditional self-help narratives aren’t resonating with The Young Folk.

I think I’m pretty pleased about this, actually?

Thoughts?

Um, Atlantis, is that you?

Trickle. Down. Economics. Is. A. Lie.

I’m very stressed about this utterly trivial thing! Bite Beauty makes my hands down favorite lipsticks on earth and I’m nervous about and shakeups. Anyone want to buy me a handful of backups?

Fast Company has a couple of interesting stories this week about the perils of IPOs and the “gamechanging” companies in the news of late. This on was my favorite.

In a similar vein, Rent the Runway is also struggling.

Dame Helen Mirren, ladies and gentlemen! What an icon.

Hurrah for nice things, like beloved TV shows about being a good person.

Holy crap.

[ETA: the below updates were added as news broke this week…which was approximately every ten minutes]

HOLY CRAP. This change in stance came swiftly as a result of the cascading reporting on a whistleblower case. As the week progresses, the facts on the ground get weirder and worse for the administration. A “transcript” of the call was released by the White House, ostensible to explain how the call was not as bad as the media was making it out to be. It was considerably worse. Not only that, it transpired that the whistleblower complaint (which was also released) was about a much wider array of actions not just from the President, but included efforts by others to shield his actions from scrutiny and oversight.

Rudy Giuliani continued to act like a reasonable and sane person and in no way seemed to be trying to drag the actual State Department under the bus whence he is getting thrown. It’s okay, he was not the only one making mistakes. Snark aside, a lot of people from the State Department, to the Attorney General are implicated by this activity. Mr. Volker is the first to step down from a post, I can’t imagine he’s going to be the last.

Good lord, quid pro quo is something of a theme this week, eh? How do ANY of these men still have their jobs?

Call me petty, but I hope things are getting downright tense at headquarters.

And finally, a little levity for you all.

ETA AGAIN: HOLY. CRAP. Honest question, how did none of this come out previously? No whistleblowers, nothing in the Mueller report, nothing at all?

Weekend Links

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”
– Heny Rollins

It’s the weekend, piglets! A short intro from me because I’m technically supposed to be on holiday…even through the reality of my job means I’m still doing a bunch of work this week, I’m annoyed to say. Hey ho, such is life. Jeff is in a similarly grim set of circumstances and we’ve agreed therefore that a long Christmas break, possibly to include foreign travel, will therefore be justified. Win some, lose some.

It’s a rainy sunday here, so that means I’m going to log off, make a couple of batches of soup, drink copious amounts of tea and alternate between Agatha Christie’s Poirot and my newest love, Schitts’ Creek by way of relaxation. Tell me your plans in the comments!

Happy weekend to JLo and literally no one else. This is what fashion and media types call “a moment.”

What an awful scam on every level, do not @ me.

One of the Founding Mothers of NPR has passed away. RIP Ms Roberts.

*screams into the void* I’m (sadly) not at all surprised by this at all, only angry and depressed. Sometimes I think about how the vast majority of sexual crime statistics track almost perfectly over my closets female friend groups and myself and I just want to set something on fire.

And as a follow up, the pertinent question. (My own question about what the Kavanaugh hearings really ask remains: are women acceptable collateral damage on someone else’s journey?)

Hook ’em on Shakespeare young.

This investigative piece on the harshness of live on the high seas (an excerpt from a forthcoming book) is hard to read but is evidence of how many industries have horrifically out of date practices and next to no labor protections. We’re not nearly as advanced as Silicon Valley would have us think, sometimes.

Hm. This seems super not great for us as a species

I will read anything by Anne Helen Petersen, and we were blessed with another gem this week.

Seriously, guys. Let’s just try some ideas. Let’s run the experiments.

Highly relevant to my interests.

In case you’re looking for your next book read.

Smoking is bad, team. Smoke if you’re a grown up and damn well please, but there is no need to relitigate the health hazards.

I’m for Boleyn-core, 100%.

The kids are going to save us. They shouldn’t and we shouldn’t have to ask them to, but they are. And I hope that leaders around the world are doing a bit of demographic math in their heads in response to the images and headcounts of the marches this week. Kids grow up and they vote.

Data is fascinating, and useful. We need more of it and less punditry.

A pet theme of mine is how much I wish Americans could see their news through the lens of another nation’s media. It’s enlightening, whatever your political bent.

I know it’s only the latest in a long list, but this is a really serious allegation. In normal times, we would never even have gotten to this point, and yet here we are and I’m not convinced there will be any consequences. How bloody GRIM is that?

And finally, please enjoy my favorite new Twitter account.