Friday, March 30, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/30/18)

This is a great interview: 'Failing Up' With Leslie Odom, Jr.

This soundtrack is GREAT: Jack Antonoff on the Love, Simon soundtrack: 'I wanted to go all-in'

The American Girl Doll Magazine Made Me a Feminist

The Trailblazing Woman Who Dreamed of Cheese

Fascinating: Some Anglo-Saxon Easter Customs

Morning Coffee (3/30/18)

IT'S FRIDAY. Time for some happy links.

Let's start with the important stuff: 10 Pictures of Baby Goats to Get You Ready for Spring

Sometimes sports are great!! Emergency goalie Scott Foster shuts door for Blackhawks against Jets

EXCITED: Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli preview their queer love story What If It's Us

Ooh! Amy Poehler to Direct, Star in and Produce Netflix Comedy 'Wine Country'

Mark Hamill tried to convince William and Harry that Luke should be a prince, everything is amazing.

The first??? But this is a great fit for her: The Duchess of Cambridge becomes the first Royal Patron of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Here's a trailer for Netflix's Troy show, coming next week.

Also: ‘Monty Python’ Heads To Netflix As SVOD Service Picks Up Entire Comedy Catalog

Fug Nation Loves Cute Sandals!

14 Pretty Flower Nail Art Ideas To Celebrate Spring

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/29/18)

This is an essential read about Being A Woman On The Internet: Who Does She Think She Is?

How Portraiture Gave Rise to the Glamour of Guns

The Original Little Mermaid: On Kay Nielsen, Disney, and the sanitization of the modern fairy tale.

The Birth of the Cuban-American Mob

Interesting: One of the best Sherlock portrayals came from the Soviet Union

The Greatest Easter Album of All Time

Weirdly enough, this is not about classical liturgical music, much as I love it. (In fact, if you would like to receive a special Good Friday playlist tomorrow of nothing but various Stabat Mater settings through the ages, go sign up for Band level or above on my Patreon. I sure know how to market myself with popular things the people absolutely want, huh?) Anyway. The actual greatest Easter album of all time is Peter Cottontail from Peter Pan Records. As best as I can glean from The Internet, this children's record originally came out in the sixties and was reprinted in the seventies, and my parents somehow found it in the early eighties, and I was OBSESSED. Unfortunately, so far as I can tell, it never made it to CD nor digital/streaming. (It is none of the albums entitled Peter Cottontail on Spotify. Trust me; I have checked.)

However! Some HERO has uploaded the songs to YouTube and made a playlist. PLEASE ENJOY. This should start at the beginning but I'm not positive if it will play through the playlist. (If not, click the link.)

And allow me to also suggest one of my favorites, "Betty Bunny's Birthday Day," which, as the title suggests, is not actually an Easter song at all:

Welcome to the earworm my parents and I have had for over thirty years.

Morning Coffee (3/29/18)

At Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question

Lawsuit Over Trump’s Ties to His Businesses Is Allowed to Advance

Voter Fraud in New Hampshire: Rhetoric Versus Reality

The guns debate is a culture war. And young people will win it

Yay!! Bologna 2018: Jacqueline Woodson Wins Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Wrongfully Imprisoned for 23 Years, White Sox Employee Gets His Job Back

Good for them: Starbucks has achieved pay equity in the U.S., ahead of most everyone else

Oops? China’s Space Station May Crash to Earth on April Fools’ Day

Google Beats Lawsuit Accusing YouTube of Censoring Conservatives

Anglo-Saxon settlement and Roman army camp found in A14 bypass dig

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/28/18)

Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

The Very Unnerving Existence of Teen Boss, a Magazine for Girls

Jonathan Kellerman and the Dark Psychology of Crime

Soil and Satellites Are Telling a New Story About Ancient Civilizations in the Amazon

A Catholic bishop and his rural Chinese parish worry about a deal between Beijing and the Vatican

Morning Coffee (3/28/18)

ICYMI, yesterday I recommended In a Perfect World.

Wow: John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment

The White House Is Lying About the Census

The Ultimate Test of Trump's Impunity

Life Inside S.C.L., Cambridge Analytica’s Parent Company

Experts reach for the stars to fight slavery as satellite pictures tell all

US Navy launches submarine with gamepad-guided periscope

Millie Veasey, Part of Trailblazing Unit in WWII, Dies at 100

These rules are INSANE: How an Instagram Post Led to an N.F.L. Cheerleader’s Discrimination Case

Good! The 2018 Network Pilot Season Shows Considerable Gains for Women Directors

15 New Exoplanets Discovered — and One of Them May Be Suitable for Liquid Water

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/27/18)

This is so interesting: On the Hunt for the Lost Wonders of Medieval Britain

The Great Norwegian Porridge Debate, Or Tradition Vs. 'Science'

Alive with artisans: Cairo’s al-Darb al-Ahmar district – a photo essay

A few steps (and mis-steps) in the early years of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

A Victorian Gothic Reading List

Weekly Rec: In a Perfect World

I've had a lot going on the past few weeks and needed a book to take me out of myself by letting me get lost in another world, and In a Perfect World by Trish Doller DELIVERED. It's about an upper middle class Catholic girl from Ohio who moves to Egypt for her senior year when her mother is hired to start a health clinic in Cairo, where she learns about a totally new culture, confronts her own biases, and falls in love with a working class Muslim boy. It was just enthralling - both the world Doller creates and the character's personal journey and romance - and I didn't want to put it down.

I'll note that I don't know enough about Egypt to evaluate the accuracy of Doller's portrayal, but she clearly did her research and approached the subject matter thoughtfully, especially in regards to questions of religion, class, and privilege. She's not preachy and doesn't offer easy answers, but the book is ultimately hopeful, and the Serious Issues she addresses are integrated very well into the fabric of the story. It's just a lovely, thought-provoking, satisfying read.

Morning Coffee (3/27/18)

Linda Brown, Who Was At Center Of Brown v. Board Of Education, Dies

The most radical part of Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stormy Daniels

Bernie's Russia Problem

In Seville, Burial of Civil War Commander Reopens Decades-Old Wounds

They arrested Keith Raniere!!

Oh, how sad: Remembering Philip Kerr

This is... not wildly surprising: Tinder's parent company sues Bumble over patents

!!! Gina Rodriguez To Star As Carmen Sandiego In Netflix Live-Action Feature

What Makes Some Hair Curly? Not Quite What Scientists Thought

Medieval Women With Artificially Deformed Skulls Migrated to Form Strategic Alliances

Monday, March 26, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/26/18)

Why India’s modern women say it’s a ‘burden’ to be female

I love this: Ranking Shakespeare's Plays as Crime Fiction

I don't agree with ALL the opinions here, but it's an interesting read: Meg Murry's Glasses

The Beer Twins (One Evil) Take Their Feud to Queens

The Librarian at the Nexus of the Harlem Renaissance

Morning Coffee (3/26/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

John Bolton Is a Gut-Check Moment for America in the Trump Era

How Trump helped inspire a wave of strict new abortion laws

Public lands are being sold in secret on the internet

Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys

Civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond is first Canadian woman on currency

An Arizona girl vanished in 1999. Could her name scrawled on a dollar bill be a new clue?

Wreck of the Juneau Is Found, 76 Years After 5 Brothers Perished

Ooh: 2,000-Year-Old Mosaics Unearthed Under Florida Art Museum

Michael B. Jordan Set To Produce (And Probably Star) In WWII Action Film, ‘The Liberators’

Frank Miller to spin King Arthur legend into YA book Cursed

Friday, March 23, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/23/18)

Valley Forged: How One Man Made the Indie Video Game Sensation Stardew Valley

The Classics Scholar Redefining What Twitter Can Do

What Jasmine Guillory Reads

Incarnadine, the Bloody Red of Fashionable Cosmetics and Shakespearean Poetics

The Supermarket Cafeteria That Major League Baseball Players Love

Support Nashua's March For Our Lives!

Like many cities, Nashua has a march for gun control and specifically to stop school shootings happening tomorrow. It's being planned by an awesome group of teens - I've worked with some of them on other things - and they're raising money to pay for the required police presence and printing costs. Can you help make sure they raise enough by tomorrow? As of this writing, they only need $130 more!

If you're local and planning to attend, let me know so I can look for you! And if you'd like to find a march in your own city, look here.

Morning Coffee (3/23/18)

We made it to Friday! Time for happy links.

ICYMI, yesterday I recommended Love, Simon.

Michelle Obama’s Portrait Is So Popular, the Museum Moved It to a Bigger Room

Hahahaha: Ambridge Analytica: the spoof account that’s combine-harvesting data

I love this: Mysterious Road Signs to Fictional Places Have Appeared in Didcot, England

Important information: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's "Best" Scrunchies Are From Switzerland

Very excited to watch this: 'Jamestown': Preview the New Period Drama from 'Downton Abbey' Producers

This Woman Wrote Her Novel At A Tire Store And Now They Are Her Biggest Fans

These are very cute: 14 Egg-ceptional Easter Egg Nail Art Ideas

Hallmark to debut 34 new Christmas movies in 2018

How Well Do You Know Your Generic Network Dramas? (Embarrassingly well.)

This Post Is Literally Just Celebrities Holding Dogs

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/22/18)

‘We’re Losing the Fight’: Tuberculosis Batters a Venezuela in Crisis

The Strange, Uplifting Tale of “Joy of Cooking” Versus the Food Scientist

[Daniel] Mallory Ortberg: “Experiencing the Joy of Transitioning Feels Really Powerful”

Call the medieval midwife

"What these comedians are demanding is that we respect their feelings while they exercise their constitutionally safeguarded prerogative to hurt other people’s feelings. That’s not a level playing field. It’s the power dynamic preferred by a playground bully, in which all the discomfort flows in one direction: away from them."

Weekly Rec: Love, Simon

March has been pretty great for movies for me - I loved Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time and now Love, Simon. Like Wrinkle, Simon was based on a book I really liked, though this one I read as an adult so I wasn't attached to it in quite the same way. (By the way, the book is called Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda; they changed the title for the movie, which I think was wise since it's a bit of a mouthful. I definitely recommend both.)

I needn't have worried either way, though, because this was a great adaptation, quite faithful while changing what it needed to change to make the movie work as its own thing. I expected to like the movie (partially because several of my friends saw it first and all said good things) but I LOVED it, which was a nice surprise. It's the first mainstream wide-release teen gay rom-com, and the love story is great - I want to be careful not to spoil anything, because who the love interest IS is a bit of a mystery, but it involves falling in love with someone through their words, which I always enjoy.

There's a lot to love aside from the romance plot, too: Simon's coming out story is well done; it's difficult for him in a very real way that somehow doesn't take away from the overall joyful tone of the movie. As you'd expect from a high school movie, lots of characters are figuring themselves out, not just Simon, and there are great family and friendship plotlines along with the romance. And what really got me was the whole atmosphere of the movie: the soundtrack is great, the writing is funny and smart, and the costumes and production design were right on; together they all made a world I wanted to stay in as long as possible.

Also, a warning: This movie will make you want Oreos.

Morning Coffee (3/22/18)

The Statesman continues to have good coverage of the Austin bombings.

Peru president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigns amid corruption scandal

Quite the story: Kidnapped Royalty Become Pawns in Iran’s Deadly Plot

EXCLUSIVE: Fired FBI official authorized criminal probe of Sessions, sources say

The Strange Tale of Trump's Phone Call to Putin

There’s Never Been a Native American Congresswoman. That Could Change in 2018.

Good for Julie Plec: Former 'Vampire Diaries' Writer Details Harassment on Set

Artifacts Stolen in Massive Archaeological Theft Recovered in Canterbury

Interesting: Google plans to boost Amazon competitors in search shopping ads

This sounds right up my alley: Lionsgate to Develop World War II Story ‘How the Girl Guides Won the War’

Researchers Create Simulated Exoplanet Atmospheres

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/21/18)

The Legal Battle to Colonize Mars

Once Upon a Time in the West: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Biographer on the Fantasy and Fiction

Lord have mercy on your casserole: In praise of church cookbooks

15 Irish Crime Writers You Should Be Reading Right Now

How Mom Bloggers Helped Create Influencer Marketing

Morning Coffee (3/21/18)

Xi Taps Harvard-Educated Adviser to Tighten Grip on China’s Economy

Immigration Advocates Warn ICE Is Retaliating For Activism

Good: GOP Candidate Who Called Emma González A "Skinhead Lesbian" Drops Out Of Race

The Grisly Murder Case That Could Turn Half of Oklahoma Back Into Tribal Lands

If you think voters are divided on abortion, think again

This is great: She Was the Only Woman in a Photo of 38 Scientists, and Now She’s Been Identified

If you downloaded the Bitcoin blockchain, you may have downloaded child porn

‘Multiple Steves and Pauls’: A History Panel Sets Off a Diversity Firestorm

Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly Are Still Identical Twins, Despite What You May Have Read

Ooh: HBO Unveils First-Look Photos Of ‘My Brilliant Friend’ Drama

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/20/18)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi's Kelly Marie Tran Has a Story to Tell

The Strange and Twisted Life of Frankenstein

A Modern Controversy Over Ancient Homosexuality

Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out?

Inside the Wild Life of a Royal Correspondent

Morning Coffee (3/20/18)

U.K. Reaches Brexit Transition Deal With E.U.

Well, obviously: Trump Hires Lawyer Who Has Pushed Theory That Justice Dept. Framed the President

Trump Organization’s real estate partner in India accused of $147 million fraud

Hope Hicks Isn't a Victim

IT IS 2018: D.C. Councilman Apologizes for Claiming That Jews Control the Weather

Science Finds Once Again That Violent Video Games Don't Turn People Into Rage Monsters

New Effort Aims to Boost Hollywood's Female Union Membership

They're making audiobooks on vinyl because OF COURSE.

DNA Reveals Stone Age North Africans Had Near Eastern and Sub-Saharan Ancestors

This sounds interesting and, uh, timely: In the TV thriller ‘Occupied,’ Russia has Western democracy on the run

Monday, March 19, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/19/18)

This feature about the International Pizza Expo is fascinating and will make you hungry: So You Think You Can Dance—With The Dough?

China’s peasants left for the cities to seek their fortune, and it made them miserable

This biography sounds interesting: Agatha Christie’s life rivaled the immortal mysteries she created

What If Girls Knew They Were Allowed to Be Angry?

The Russian Love Affair with the Arabian Horse

Morning Coffee (3/19/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

If you're at all interested in Cambridge Analytica and the way Trump's team exploited Facebook data, you should read this: ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower

This isn't a SHOCK but it's still TERRIBLE: AP Exclusive: Kushner Cos. filed false NYC housing paperwork

Also, you know, not a shock: Russia election: Vladimir Putin wins by big margin

Oops? A White House Staffer Allegedly Left His Encrypted Email Login at a DC Bus Stop

Amazing: How a Norwegian comment section turned chaos into order—with a simple quiz

Steve, a Famous Northern Light, Stays Mysterious (and Keeps His Name)

I clicked on the obituary of Lady Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde but it turns out her story, about unions and women in business and the way technology has changed printing, is worth a read.

See John Legend as Jesus in first Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert promo

Aaah yay: ‘Juliet, Naked’ Set For Late Summer Release By Roadside Attractions & Lionsgate

Hmm: Younger’s fictional novel Marriage Vacation being made into real book

Friday, March 16, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/16/18)

A Tribute to Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s A Wrinkle in Time Sexy Science Marriage

She has very good taste: Chelsea Clinton reveals her all-time favorite books -- and her bad-boy literary crush

Daniel Mallory Ortberg Would Like to Eat Breakfast Like a French Duke ME TOO.

Behind the scenes on the Coronation Street set – a photo essay

LET'S GO: 10 of the best European islands … that you’ve probably never heard of

Want to hear more about my writing process?

DOES anyone want to hear more about my writing process? Honestly, that idea has always seemed weird to me - not that I object to talking about it, but I don't really get why anyone outside my very close friends/family would CARE. (They get the out-of-the-blue texts like "Do you think you could kill someone with [non-weapon object]?", which I'm sure are not startling at all.) But! People talk about writing and read other people's thoughts on writing all the time! I realize that! In theory, I am included in that! And indeed, as I've been more open on places like Twitter about the fact that I'm working on something, people seem to want to hear about it! I am bemused but honored.

At the same time, I've been trying to think of a little something extra to add for my Patreon supporters to show my appreciation and make sure all levels are getting something out of supporting. And... honestly, I kind of miss my Oscar Project Diary that I sent out EVERY DAY for a while. I don't want to commit to something else of that level on an ongoing basis, because it was VERY time-consuming, but I wanted to do SOMETHING.

So... I'm melding these two thoughts into one. Starting this weekend, patrons of any level* will get my Writing Diary posts - an exclusive update on how my novel's going, what I'm thinking about, research I'm doing, things that are stumping me, whatever. It will be informal and conversational, on no strict schedule but we'll say at least a post a week. Usually text, maybe sometimes a picture or, I guess, video (probably not? Why would I make a video.) or... whatever! I'm excited to share this and see how it turns out; I'm hoping it will be both interesting to my readers and helpful for me as far as self-reflection and clarification of thought.

If this sounds interesting to you, head on over to Patreon and sign up, and then watch for your first Writing Diary post this weekend! In it, I will REVEAL what object I was contemplating as an unlikely murder weapon in the text mentioned above.

* Okay, real talk. "Any level" starts at $1 a month. That's exactly $1 for you, no fees or anything. I know some people genuinely do not have a spare $1 in their budget and I will ALWAYS keep the link posts free and open for that reason, but for MOST people who read my blog, I'd like to think that you get at least 3.33 cents a day of value out of it. There are higher levels - if my posts are worth 10 cents a day to you you could sign up at the $3 level, say - and at each level you get an extra piece of content each month. (And they stack, so for example at the $10 level you get the $1, $3, $5, and $10 rewards every month.) Check out the levels and rewards here.

Morning Coffee (3/16/18)

Time for Friday happy links!

ICYMI, yesterday I wrote about why I liked A Wrinkle in Time so much!

Aaaah, great news from my friend Steph! Netflix is making a movie of her YA horror novel There's Someone Inside Your House. (I generally avoid horror but I really loved this one.)

Hahaha: National Trust apologises to Cornish after appearing to endorse putting cream on scones first

7 Books to Read After Seeing Black Panther

Aw, look at today's George Peabody Google doodle!

Ooh, pretty: These L’Occitane Easter Eggs Are Even Better Than Chocolate Eggs

The Amy Poehler/Nick Offerman crafting show is premiering ON MY BIRTHDAY. That's very thoughtful of them.

Perfect: If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy In A Writing Workshop

I'm not particularly into animated series but this is quite the voice cast.

The Solo movie is doing some kind of promotion with Solo cups and that's HILARIOUS.

Mae Whitman Is Ready for Taylor Kitsch to Play Her Boyfriend Now I mean, who isn't?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/15/18)

This is fascinating and important and worth your time: The Male Glance

‘Mallory Is Not Gone’: Daniel Mallory Ortberg on Coming Out As Trans

This story of targets banding together to take down a con man is WILD: The Perfect Man Who Wasn't

Why Jhumpa Lahiri loves translating Italy's 'finest living writer'

Women on Trial: British Soldiers’ Wives Tried by Court Martial [during the American Revolution]

Weekly Rec: A Wrinkle in Time

The novel A Wrinkle in Time is important to me - I wrote my college thesis on Madeleine L'Engle's work - and so I was both excited and worried when I heard that it was going to be a big feature film. LUCKILY, my excitement was justified and my worry was unnecessary. This movie was a complete delight; it did a great job of retaining everything important about the novel while updating things to feel contemporary and relevant to today's kids. Ava DuVernay did a great job executing her vision, and the whole cast was great but ESPECIALLY star Storm Reid as Meg.

It's natural to get upset about changes when a book you love is adapted, though I always find it useful to remember that no one is actually taking the original version away from you and you can ignore the adaptation entirely if you wish. But in this case I don't want to ignore it! It's great! I had a few moments of "That's not MY xyz" at the beginning, but then I made a conscious decision to let go and see the movie on its own terms, and I loved it. I especially like that this version has a young black girl saving the world with a white boy as her sidekick - I think that's a great thing for ALL kids to see. (The change that I liked least was the erasure of Meg's brothers Sandy and Dennys, but ah well, I get it.)

There's also been some talk about the movie being less explicitly Christian than the novel. I understand that disappointment if you're going in looking for something that is specific to your own religion, but I actually loved what they did with it in this area: they very much kept the important points of L'Engle's philosophy and theology while diversifying the great thinkers quoted and making L'Engle's outlook accessible to wider variety of kids from all sorts of backgrounds. Jesus is not mentioned by name as he is in the book, but what L'Engle believed is important about Jesus was very much there.

This was a movie that was fun, occasionally scary, intellectually and philosophically interesting, and inspirational, all at once. Go see it, and bring any kids you have around.

Morning Coffee (3/15/18)

“We’re mad that we haven’t been listened to”: students speak on the National School Walkout

Russia threatens retaliation after Britain expels 23 diplomats

With Mike Pompeo at the State Department, Are the Über-Hawks Winning?

The Conor Lamb Model

How Jeff Sessions Is Sneaking Trump Allies Into Key DOJ Positions That Normally Require Senate Confirmation

OH GOOD: Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes charged with massive fraud

Why Is U.S. Health Care So Expensive? Some of the Reasons You’ve Heard Turn Out to Be Myths

!!! Scott Kelly Spent a Year in Space, and Now He Has Different DNA Than His Identical Twin Brother

Uncovering the Secrets of the ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’

Oskar Gröning, the ‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,’ Is Dead at 96

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/14/18)

This series is sad and fascinating: Missouri is a destination wedding spot — for 15-year-old brides

The Times is doing a great new feature called Overlooked, in which they write obituaries for important women they missed. Sylvia Plath!! Charlotte Bronte!

Daniel Mallory Ortberg talks The Toast, The Merry Spinster, and the joys of peanut butter

Modern Humans Survived a Supervolcano That Rained Glass Over South Africa

Neanderthals Painted the World’s Oldest Cave Art

Morning Coffee (3/14/18)

Wow: Pennsylvania House Race, in a District Trump Won by 20 Points, Is Too Close to Call

Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo

ICE Spokesman Resigns, Saying He Could No Longer Spread Falsehoods for Trump Administration

The Senate's Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill Is a Disaster for Basically Everything It Touches

Sad news: Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos

!! Man Arrested in 1986 Murder of Massachusetts Teenager

I get why, but SIGH: The Crown Paid Its Queen Elizabeth Less Than Its Prince Philip

Court Rejects Tech Bro Gender Discrimination Suit Against Yahoo

Uh: Greece Suspends Soccer League After Team Owner Invades Field With Gun

This documentary about piano students in Ireland looks great.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/13/18)

This is a powerful piece from Jessica Valenti: My 2lb baby: 'lonely' is the only way to describe raising an ill or disabled child

Just Doing It: A Conversation with Mallory Ortberg

The Downside of Radical Honesty

Ice cream makes everything better—even science

Chekhov, Sakhalin and the Russian Famine of 1891–92

Morning Coffee (3/13/18)

These package bombings in Austin are scary - stay safe, friends! The Austin Statesman is posting updates here.

Russia tries to entice voters to polls to prop up Putin's legitimacy

WHAT A SHOCK: Despite Mueller’s Push, House Republicans Declare No Evidence of Collusion

Trump administration broke the law by failing to implement smog rule, federal court rules

After Bragging About Broadcom Jobs, Trump Kills Its Qualcomm Deal Over 'National Security' Risk

James Levine’s Final Act at the Met Ends in Disgrace

Hubert de Givenchy Dies at 91; Fashion Pillar of Romantic Elegance

NASA’s Juno Probe Peers Into Jupiter’s Mysterious Atmosphere and Polar Regions

This sounds interesting: ‘Half the Picture’ Documentary on Female Directors Sells to Gravitas

Huh: Scientology TV Network Sets Launch On DirecTV, Apple, Roku And Amazon

Monday, March 12, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/12/18)

How Egypt's Strongman Is Turning Sports Into Propaganda

Artificial Intelligence Is Now Used to Predict Crime. But Is It Biased?

In Search of Russia's First Inhabitants

This sounds really interesting: The Night Diary author Veera Hiranandani's new YA book explores an overlooked history

Hunter-Gatherer Skulls Mounted on Stakes Reveal Symbolic Ritual Practice

Morning Coffee (3/12/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Putin: Maybe ‘Ukrainians, Tatars Or Jews’ Meddled In American Election

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ White House spokesman does not deny that Carl Icahn was tipped off

Woman Who Was Forced to Marry Her Rapist at 11 Finally Changes Florida Marriage Law

Humans — Not Bots — Are Largely Responsible for the Proliferation of Fake News

FBI arrests CEO of company selling custom BlackBerrys to gangs ... of course they were BlackBerrys.

Ursula Marvin, Geologist of the Extraterrestrial, Dies at 96

Whoa: RIP Claire's and Thanks for All the Piercings

Good for them: Riverdale's Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes Slam Cosmopolitan Philippines for Photoshopping Their Bodies

Interesting: A24 Buys Horror Spec From ‘Cat Person’ Author

A Tiny Book Written for Dolls, Commissioned by a Queen of England, Is Now for Sale (They certainly write off Vita Sackville-West easily here...)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/9/18)

The case for Black Panther as a 2019 Oscar behemoth

Jessica Morgan (of Go Fug Yourself) is both a pal and a writer I really enjoy, so I'm excited to drive into her top 10 essential movies.

Very important journalism: 13 Of The Most Adorable Pets Owned By Famous Writers

How a Tiny Wisconsin Island Became the World’s Biggest Consumer of Bitters

An Arthurian castle in Slovenia: the history, legends and future of Castle Borl

Weekly Rec: The Romanovs: 1613-1918

Oh hi! After a brief post-Oscars break, normal posting has resumed! So this seems like a good time to remind you that these posts are made possible by my Patreon supporters, and if you enjoy them and want more content, please consider joining in!

Yesterday during the snowstorm I finally finished reading The Romanovs, and if you're at all interested in Russian history I highly recommend it. We mostly hear about a few specific Romanovs - Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, then on to the twentieth century and the whole mythologized Rasputin story - but Montefiore does a masterful job of taking us through the whole dynasty, from the early seventeenth century up through the end in 1918. I found some of the earlier stuff to be particularly interesting, probably because I knew less about it going in. (Someone please write a well-researched historical novel about the early Romanov brideshows!) Montefiore also does better than I expected at helping the reader keep everyone straight, which is impressive since everyone has the same six names and also six different nicknames.

The tsars are often pretty romanticized, especially Nicholas and Alexandra and their kids at the end, and I thought Montefiore did a much better job than other authors I've read (looking at you, Robert Massie) at explaining how the Romanovs weren't just good people caught up in a terrible fate out of their control - they in fact were REALLY BAD AT THEIR JOBS and made a variety of awful decisions that led directly to their downfall.

This book can be a little slow going at times - it took me over a month to read it, which is pretty rare for me - but it's worth it and some of the stories it contains are WILD. (I do not know why many more people did not die from alcohol poisoning.) It also made me want to read more Russian literature, so I think I'll be tackling War and Peace soon...

Morning Coffee (3/9/18)

Time for some happy Friday links! Just a reminder: If you enjoy these or my other posts, please consider supporting me on Patreon. For as little as $1 a month you can help make sure I can invest the not inconsiderable time required to compile links.

Oooh! Obama in Talks to Provide Shows for Netflix

Eee, cover and excerpt for Holly Black's next book The Wicked King!

Hey knitters, here's the official pattern for Nakia's infinity scarf from Black Panther.

Here's the 2018 longlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction.

Look at this Wrinkle in Time jewelry! I'm sure I'll buy something and am agonizing over what; I'm going to make myself wait until after I see the movie in case that makes a particular design speak to me in a way I might not expect.

Elsewhere in niche jewelry I'm sure I'll buy: LOOK AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM'S ENAMEL PINS.

'Suits' Spinoff With Gina Torres Lands USA Network Series Pickup I'm excited to see her lead a show!

Everyone Has A Book Genre That Matches Their Personality — Here's Yours (This quiz told me I was a mystery novel, so obviously it is correct and accurate in all ways.)

The Original 'My Little Pony' Toys are Back and Making Your Childhood Dreams Come True (I sold mine in a yard sale and VERY MUCH REGRETTED IT.)

Whoa: This Glass-bottom Pool in Honolulu Has the Most Breathtaking Views

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/8/18)

The unwelcome revival of ‘race science’

‘Black Panther’ Is Groundbreaking, But It’s Shuri Who Could Change The World

Acrimony F.C.: M.L.S. Teams and Fan Groups Navigate a Rocky Marriage

"Boy" books vs. "Girl" books: How do we stop the labeling?

Mining Liberty: Daniel Roberdeau’s Quest for Lead on the Pennsylvania Frontier

Morning Coffee (3/8/18)

Sergei Skripal was deliberately poisoned with nerve agent, say police

Jeff Sessions’s lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary” laws, explained

What a shock: Trump Spoke to Witnesses About Matters They Discussed With Special Counsel

Stormy Daniels Is Suing Trump Over A "Hush Agreement" That She Says He Never Signed

And: Trump Lawyer Obtained Restraining Order to Silence Stormy Daniels

Kentucky Senate pulls bill to outlaw child marriage following opposition by conservative group

New report shows lack of progress for women of color in the media

Ooh! Little Women to become multicultural graphic novel for 150th anniversary

Google Researchers Are Learning How Machines Learn

This sounds interesting: Gina Rodriguez to Star in, Produce Netflix Rom-Com ‘Someone Great’

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/7/18)

I am SO EXCITED: Ava DuVernay’s Fiercely Feminine Vision for ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

Blood on the Land in Brazil

Author Maggie Stiefvater put together some interesting numbers and information on how authors really get paid.

Handwalla Bwana’s journey from Kakuma refugee camp to the Seattle Sounders

Trash in the Fjords? Norway Turns to Drones

Morning Coffee (3/7/18)

Oh hey, apparently we just had an earthquake. I didn't consciously feel it but I DID wake up right then! (As I was typing that sentence it suddenly started to snow VERY HARD. Exciting weather day!)

‘They can’t kill us all’: Slovakian journalists defiant after murders

Africa is now home to the world’s largest migrant populations

These people. The Trump Organization Ordered Golf Course Markers With the Presidential Seal. That May Be Illegal.

The GOP is going to war with Trump over … tariffs

Women’s March Leaders Have An Anti-Semitism Problem — Maybe It’s Time To Leave Them Behind

Weinstein Co. Sale Deal Collapses

Wow: Dating App Bumble to Ban Gun Images From User Profile Pictures

Found: A 127-Million-Year-Old Fossil of a Fledgling

Ooh, Lost in Space trailer!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/6/18)

This story on beating the lottery via math is WILD: Jerry and Marge Go Large

The Merchant Ivory: The History of Adaptations That Came Before ‘Call Me By Your Name’

On figure skating: How Do You Judge Je Ne Sais Quoi?

Say It with Noodles: On Learning to Speak the Language of Food

How a Sneak Attack By Norway’s Skiing Soldiers Deprived the Nazis of the Atomic Bomb

Morning Coffee (3/6/18)

North Korea Is Willing to Discuss Giving Up Nuclear Weapons, South Says

Welp: Former Russian spy critically ill in UK 'after exposure to substance'

That was far from the craziest story yesterday! "A Belarusian escort with close ties to a powerful Russian oligarch said from behind bars in Bangkok on Monday that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian meddling in United States elections."

Plus Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg called before grand jury, says he will refuse to go

And then Former Trump campaign aide burns everything down in epic series of cable news interviews

Back in sane news: After Months of Deadlock, Germany’s Merkel Finally Secures a Fourth Term

Eeeee, Mary Poppins Returns teaser trailer! I'M SO EXCITED.

When Stars Were Born: Earliest Starlight’s Effects Are Detected

I LOVE today's Google doodle for Gabriel Garcia Marquez's birthday.

Hmm: Historical Doc With A Hint of ‘Game Of Thrones’ Sold To Global Broadcasters

Monday, March 5, 2018

Afternoon Tea (3/5/18)

This piece by Nicole Chung is great: How to Write a Memoir While Grieving

The Instagram Stars Hiding Their Famous, Muslim-Hating Mom, Pamela Geller (And a subsequent update.)

Luca Guadagnino Is Love

Fascinating: The Misunderstood Byzantine Princess and Her Magnum Opus

Photos: The astonishing hidden complexity inside our sleek techie gadgets

Morning Coffee (3/5/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week!

First up: here are all the Oscar winners! I correctly predicted 21 of 24 categories. Not bad!

Progress? Special counsel wants documents on Trump, numerous campaign associates

Mueller’s Focus on Adviser to Emirates Suggests Broader Investigation

Uh... State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.

What a headline: Florida’s senate convened a rare Saturday session to reject taking action on guns

‘Pure madness’: Dark days inside the White House as Trump shocks and rages

A Group of Women Just Bought the Weinstein Company

Bitcoin thirst spurs Icelandic heist—“Grand theft on a scale unseen before”

Wow: Call Me By Someone Else’s Name: Armie Hammer’s Actress Wife Sues Woman Who Impersonated Her To Attend Vanity Fair Party

'Diversity in Romance' report finds decrease in books by authors of color

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Oscar Project 2018: Picks and Predictions!

Well, here we are. It's Oscar weekend! So I guess it's time to tell you what I want to win. For each category, you'll see links to my posts about each nominee, and then my prediction of what will actually win, my preference for what SHOULD win among those nominees, and in some cases my comments on what should have been nominated but wasn't. (Note: I'm 100% convinced that I'm forgetting A LOT of the other things I would have ideally nominated.)

I hope you've enjoyed my Oscar posts. If you'd like to support my work and get more exclusive content, come join me on Patreon!

Best Picture:
The Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What Will Win: The Shape of Water, though I keep going back and forth between that and Three Billboards
What Should Win: Call Me By Your Name, Call Me By Your Name, Call Me By Your Name
In a Perfect World... I'd have nominated Wind River and maybe The Florida Project in the place of Three Billboards and The Shape of Water.

Actor in a Leading Role:
The Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Phantom Thread, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
What Will Win: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
What Should Win: I'm torn between Oldman and Timothee Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name.
In a Perfect World... I'd have nominated Jeremy Renner for Wind River in the place of Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Actor in a Supporting Role:
The Nominees: All the Money in the World, The Florida Project, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (twice over)
What Will Win: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards
What Should Win: Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project
In a Perfect World... I am COMPLETELY FURIOUS that Three Billboards got TWO slots here and Call Me By Your Name got none. I would have nominated both Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg, and Hammer should have won.

Actress in a Leading Role:
The Nominees: I, Tonya, Lady Bird, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What Will Win: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards
What Should Win: Margot Robbie for I, Tonya
In a Perfect World... Daniela Vega should have been nominated for A Fantastic Woman.

Actress in a Supporting Role:
The Nominees:I, Tonya, Lady Bird, Mudbound, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water
What Will Win: Allison Janney for I, Tonya
What Should Win: Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird

Animated Feature Film:
The Nominees: The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, Coco, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent
What Will Win: Coco
What Should Win: Coco
In a Perfect World... Surely there was SOMETHING better than The Boss Baby to nominate.

The Nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Mudbound, The Shape of Water
What Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
What Should Win: Dunkirk, though I wouldn't mind seeing the first female cinematography win for Mudbound.
In a Perfect World... I'd have nominated Call Me By Your Name and maybe Phantom Thread.

Costume Design:
The Nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Victoria & Abdul
What Will Win: Phantom Thread
What Should Win: Phantom Thread

The Nominees: Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water
What Will Win: Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water
What Should Win: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
In a Perfect World... I'd have nominated Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name

Documentary (Feature):
The Nominees: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Faces Places, Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo, Strong Island
What Will Win: I'm torn between Icarus and Last Men in Aleppo.
What Should Win: Icarus, though there's no bad option here.

Documentary (Short Subject):
The Nominees: Edith+Eddie, Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Heroin(e), Knife Skills, Traffic Stop
What Will Win: Traffic Stop
What Should Win: Heroin(e)

Film Editing:
The Nominees: Baby Driver, Dunkirk, I, Tonya, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What Will Win: Dunkirk
What Should Win: Dunkirk, though I wouldn't be mad at Baby Driver or I, Tonya.

Foreign Language Film:
The Nominees: A Fantastic Woman, The Insult, Loveless, On Body and Soul, The Square
What Will Win: A Fantastic Woman
What Should Win: A Fantastic Woman

Makeup & Hairstyling:
The Nominees: Darkest Hour, Victoria & Abdul, Wonder
What Will Win: Darkest Hour
What Should Win: Darkest Hour
In a Perfect World... I might have nominated Beauty and the Beast here.

Music (Original Score):
The Nominees: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What Will Win: The Shape of Water
What Should Win: Phantom Thread
In a Perfect World... I'd have put Call Me By Your Name in the place of Three Billboards.

Music (Original Song):
The Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Coco, The Greatest Showman, Marshall, Mudbound
What Will Win: "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman
What Should Win: "Mystery of Love" from Call Me By Your Name
In a Perfect World... Well, "Visions of Gideon" was actually the better original Sufjan Stevens song in Call Me By Your Name.

Production Design:
The Nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water
What Will Win: The Shape of Water
What Should Win: Blade Runner 2049, though both WWII movies are close seconds for me here.
In a Perfect World... Guess what, I'd put Call Me By Your Name here too.

Short Film (Animated):
The Nominees: Dear Basketball, Garden Party, LOU, Negative Space, Revolting Rhymes: Part I
What Will Win: Dear Basketball
What Should Win: Negative Space

Short Film (Live Action):
The Nominees: DeKalb Elementary, The Eleven O'Clock, My Nephew Emmett, The Silent Child, Watu Wote/All of Us
What Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
What Should Win: My Nephew Emmett or The Silent Child

Sound Editing:
The Nominees: Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
What Will Win: Dunkirk
What Should Win: Dunkirk

Sound Mixing:
The Nominees: Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
What Will Win: Dunkirk
What Should Win: Dunkirk

Visual Effects:
The Nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War for the Planet of the Apes
What Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
What Should Win: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):
The Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly's Game, Mudbound
What Will Win: Call Me By Your Name (This is the only category for which I'm letting myself hope.)
What Should Win: Call Me By Your Name

Writing (Original Screenplay):
The Nominees: The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What Will Win: Get Out, though this is the category I'm having the most trouble predicting. I wouldn't be at all surprised by anything except The Big Sick here.
What Should Win: Anything but Three Billboards.