We end each episode by telling you some of the things we've been thinking about lately—books, films, tv, podcasts, articles, and whatever else strikes our fancy. We thought you might want to enjoy those things too, so we've linked to them here.
#54: The Paradox of Bodily Fluids
José is thinking about the US women’s soccer team, the current World Cup champions! Besides his own natural national pride (or is it chauvinism?) he is also thinking about the role of government intervention in the development of women’s sports in the United States. In a time when many in society doubt the ability of the government to accomplish anything, the development and success of women’s soccer (and sports more generally) is in part the product of a set of public policies that demanded equality in funding for men’s and women’s sports.
Danielle is thinking about the delightful video: “Werner Herzog Reads Where’s Waldo.” Listen, as this singular artistic visionary muses on the campy consumerist activity of our youth, in his unmistakable German drone. For further listening pleasure, check out “Werner Herzog Reads Winnie the Pooh” and “Curious George.”
#53: Both Sides Now
José is thinking about Johan Karlgren’s wonderful “pixel street art” as seen in Bored Panda’s “Swedish Artist Is ‘Vandalizing’ Streets With His Stunning Pixel Art”. Karlgren’s works, placed randomly in various cities around the world, are beautiful and technically impressive but more importantly, they bring a touch of the fantastic to the places we find most ordinary, and most mundane.
Danielle is thinking about a lovely piece of short non-fiction in Entropy magazine called “Central Heating.” Author Brian Benson captures the intangible magic that occurs in a classroom when a group of strangers come to connect, and how that magic transforms everyone, particularly the teacher. Benson writes with humility, honesty, and compassion, not to mention with skillful, captivating prose.
#52: Flip Flop
Danielle is thinking about Motherhood Sessions, a great new podcast in which reproductive psychiatrist Dr. Alexandra Sacks does one-time therapy-like sessions around issues of motherhood. It’s so great to hear other people share their fears, hopes, failures, and insecurities, and to share in their stories and healing.
#51: Buying Happiness
José is thinking about Vegan restaurants. Specifically, three examples of vegan cuisine in New York City: Modern Love, Dirt Candy, and Nix . Vegan cuisine (or plant-based diets) have many things going for it: health, animal ethics, environmental concerns, etc... But for a long time they tasted well, blah! What has changed? Part of it seems to be that Vegan food has changed from being mere plant based alternatives to meat, to a food that takes pride and direction from being about itself; and part of this seems to be a general development and refinement to our own cultural taste for non-meat meals.
Danielle is thinking about the word “matrescence,” a word Dr. Alexandra Sacks’ TED talk introduced to her. Matrescence describes the time of rapid bodily changes, extreme hormonal shifts, and emotional ambivalence and confusion that occurs after a person has a baby. This experience is not the same as postpartum depression—it is simply the transition to motherhood, and it needs to be taken seriously. At the very least, it needs a word.
#50: Of Heroes and (Epistemological) Hostages
José is thinking about the Gordin-Letterman interviews, a collection of the actor Charles Grodin’s appearances on the David Letterman show. The ribbing and banter, the false animosity, and the plain chemistry between these two (spanning over 20 years) is a last glimpse of “old show business” and a refreshing alternative to current plastic and frankly bland television interviews.
Danielle is thinking about Douglas Tsoi’s School of Financial Freedom which offers the online course she took recently called Financial Freedom. In this class, Danielle was asked to consider her emotional scripts around money, think about consumption, saving, and autonomy in new ways, and all while keeping in mind the realities of living in a capitalist world full of various systems of oppression. It’s given her a lot to chew on, and she recommends it for anyone who wants to change their relationship with money.
#49: Shut Up and Punch Your Ticket
José is thinking about Reverb’s video “The Bass Sounds of Tina Weymouth” which analyzes the music of the Talking Heads. This video looks at how the accessible yet artful and edgy playing of Tina Weymouth both built on an appreciation for the music of her youth, and helped create the new sounds of the post-punk era. It also shows how someone can use (but not appropriate) the music of another culture, and reminds José of when he was young.
Danielle is thinking about Claire Dederer’s witty, inventive, and courageous memoir Love & Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, which she discovered serendipitously when she saw the author speak at a conference. Dederer said she wrote the book because she was tired of being told that her midlife emotional and sexual tumult was mere womanly hormones, rather than a deep existential crisis that her male colleagues all seemed be suffering. This was enough to make Danielle want to read it.
#48: Why Shouldn’t I Punch A Chimpanzee?
José is thinking about “AMITA [Am I the asshole] for wanting to give my ex-wife a large amount of money I won despite the anger of my gf?” on reddit.com’s AMITA website. On AMITA, posters can present a moral situation and ask the online community if they are in the wrong. In this post, a man asks if he is wrong for giving is ex-wife a large amount of his winnings from a lottery, despite his current girlfriend’s unhappiness with the situation. He is amazed by the depth and sophistication of many of the commenters, and wonders if this well-spring of philosophical talent is a sign of a renaissance of moral deliberation. Hint: no it isn’t.
Danielle is thinking about Scrivener, an amazingly useful app for writing long works. It has a simple outline feature in which you can easily move chapters around, view chapter synopses in notecard format, easily access notes, including images, audio files, links, etc. and much more. She can’t believe she’s gone this long in her academic and writing career without learning about this program!
#47: Real (Estate) Criticism
José is thinking about Jon Ostrower’s The World pulls the cord on the Boeing 737on the Air Current website. After reviewing the issues surrounding the recent crashes of Boeing 737s, Ostrower notes several of its (potential) structural causes. From Boeing’s decision to revise an older design (as opposed to creating a new one), the decision to implement a new flight mechanic without providing extensive training or documentation, to the decision to allow Boeing employees to certify the 737 Max’s airworthiness, Ostrower lays out how we arrived at this current state.
Danielle is thinking about her family genealogy, which a friend has generously researched for her. Much to her surprise, she has discovered that her maternal grandfather’s lineage has more wild twists and turns than she ever could have imagined, including secret families, name changes, Creole Haitian immigrants, and the dealmakers of the Louisiana purchase. She recommends genealogy as a surprising and rich entryway to the study of history.
#46: Hush! I'm Committing Cultural Violence
José is thinking about Brian X. Chen’s I Tried to Make My Dog an Instagram Celebrity. I Failed, from the NYTimes. Following the attempt to create (and build) an instagram account for his Dog, Chen notes some of the changes to the social media landscape. From “influencer” managers, photographers, to companies which provide bot accounts to follow you, we see the professionalization of what was once one of the most personal and mundane aspects of the online world. Also, what does it say about us, that we are more likely to follow accounts that already have large followings?
Danielle is thinking about Tara Westover’s critically acclaimed memoir Educated, which recounts her journey from her childhood in a doomsday Mormon family in rural Idaho, in which she never went to school, to a Ph.D. from Harvard University. The book is remarkable not only because of the extreme experiences of her youth, but also because of the honesty, compassion, and grace with which Westover tells her story.
#45: Everybody Has to Live Somewhere
José is thinking about Amy Pitt’s How to pick a New York Neighborhood from Curbed. While commute times and rent/home prices are often the primary drivers of our real estate choices, Pitt shows how many of the intangible characteristics of a neighborhood can (and should) influence us. Rather than looking at a neighborhood as just a place to sleep or shop, she shows how the diversity of New York allows people to live the lives they want to live. If they are lucky enough to find a spot!
Danielle is thinking Claudia Dey’s brave and provocative “Mothers as Makers of Death” in the Paris Review. Dey considers how we might view mothers differently if we acknowledged the fact that mothers create and confront death in a deeply intimate way.
#44: Change Like a Mother
José is thinking about Roxanne Gay’s debut novel, “An Untamed State.” A powerful and at times painful tour-de-force that traces the life, struggles, and choices of a Haitian-American protagonist. After an extremely violent kidnapping and gang-rape in Haiti, how does one live life? How are the human relationships that define our time shaped and changed? In this book, we see how the logic of life often produces (what seems at first) absurd results.
Special guest Lucy Collins is thinking about the opinion piece in the New York Times “The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s,” in which Mary Pipher discusses the happiness and gratitude that comes with old age.
Danielle is thinking about her favorite Dr. Seuss book, Fox in Socks. Although she continues to discover new books by this beloved and insanely prolific author, the tweetle beetle battle is still her favorite piece of Seussian lyricism.
#43: If My Therapist Could See Me Now
José is thinking about 15 Books to Read by Black Female American Writersa (list-)essay from the NY Times Style Magazine. While valuable artistic works in their own right, he is thinking about the wonderful power these books (written from the perspective of a group he shares little with) has for helping him to understand himself. Particular standouts from the list are:
“Sing, Unburied, Sing” (2017) by Jesmyn Ward
“Corregidora” (1975) by Gayl Jones
“Annie John” (1985) by Jamaica Kincaid
All books that have spoken (deeply) to him about his own life.
Danielle is thinking about Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “Funes, el Memorioso” or “Funes, the Memorious,” a wonderful fictionalized reflection about a character that remembers every experience he ever has, after an ill-fated head trauma from falling off a horse. In just a few pages, Borges is able to explore the functioning of consciousness, memory, and the nature of thought. A delightful read for the philosophically-minded.
#42: I Don't Know What I Think
This week José is thinking about Yotsuba&!: a wonderful manga about a six-year-old girl growing up in Japan. Besides being sweet, cheerful, and beautifully drawn, this series excels at placing the reader into the perspective of Yotsuba as she discovers and engages with the world. One way Kiyohiko Azuma (the author) does this is through the use of music—there is a soundtrack that accompanies the first volume! When I read the first three volumes of the series I felt like I was re-feeling the same experiences I had when I was a child.
Danielle is thinking about Naomi Alderman’s provocative speculative fiction novel, The Power, about a world in which women spontaneously gain the power to electrocute people with their hands. Through clever and inventive narrative strategies, Alderman manages to build a sweeping and ambitious vision of this world while also keep the narrative emotional, personal, and chilling. Danielle especially recommends the audiobook, as the narrator is an incredibly talented voice actor who convincingly portrays a wide range of global accents.
#41: Re-cognizing Gratitude
José is thinking about Boredpanda.com's Woman Shares Her Worst Tinder Date Ever an (insane) tale of how a woman was brought (unaware) to the family funeral of someone she (just!) met on tinder. He (José) thinks this shows just how much women are pushed by our society to accept the responsibility of providing (free) emotional labor and to accept the guilty of not wanting to provide that labor.
Original Tweet 👇🏼 (but seriously, read the post)
Danielle is thinking about Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak, a CEO who has spent long stints at a Trappist monastery, learning how the monks run multimillion dollar successful businesses, while still keeping their devotion to spiritual growth. He argues that monastic commitments to selflessness and service are not only good for the soul, but also good for business.
#40: The Handmaid’s Fail?
José is thinking about Eugen Weber's 1989 television series, The Western Tradition, which chronicled the historical, social, and cultural development of the West from the origins of the human race to the late 20th century. While the format of the series is a set of lectures, Weber’s style (and mannerisms) combined with the extensive use of representative art works from the Met’s collection make for an entertaining and engaging time.
Danielle is thinking about 101 Cookbooks a delightful cooking blog from Heidi Swanson. Vegetarian and vegan dishes, made with whole ingredients, these recipes are flavorful and surprising. Every recipe Danielle has ever made from this site has been delicious. She especially recommends the Coconut Red Lentil Soup recipe, which is still one of her go-to favorites.
#39: God's Hot Burrito
José is thinking about "The Problem of Kitsch," a remarkable paper from first year undergraduate student Maranda Bennett about how kitsch is a patriarchal representation of the feminine.
Danielle is thinking about community acupuncture, an affordable way to get acupuncture from skilled practitioners. Many cities have community acupuncture options, but Danielle wants to give a shout out to Feel Better Acupuncture Room in Portland, OR, where she’s been very impressed with the acupuncturist.
Also, Danielle is also thrilled that philosophy is so well represented on popular TV show TheGood Place, particularly on the phenomenal episode “Jeremy Bearimy,” in which one of the characters quotes Nietzsche at length!
#38: Does the Truth Matter? Did it Ever?
José is super-mega excited by the upcoming 🎥 Bohemian Rhapsody and is thinking about the 🎼 Bohemian Rhapsody. How is it that a song with three fundamentally different parts comes together into a single, unified, meaningful whole? Take a listen:
Danielle is thinking about the podcast Homecoming from Gimlet media, the source material for the new Amazon Prime Original TV series with the same name. This psychological thriller is captivating from beginning to end. An all-star cast of Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris, and David Cross beautifully brings this story of government mystery and intrigue to life.
#37: Vision Bored
José is thinking about Girl Walk, a film (available in 13 parts on Youtube), showing a day in the life of a girl (woman!) in the city. Set to the music of Girl Talk's "All Day" (itself worthy of cultural reflection), the film sizzles with the life and energy of the city and blends the sophistication of practiced dance with the enthusiasm of a beginner's naïve first love of movement.
Danielle is thinking about The House on the Rock, the weirdest place you will ever visit. Nestled in the bluffs of southwest Wisconsin, it is a kooky collection of a random assortment of objects—everything from a 200-piece carousel that doesn’t have a single horse on it to an entire room full of wraparound pipe organs and six-foot tall beer steins. It will delight, boggle, and confound you. Put it on your bucket list.
#36: What is Philosophical Coaching?
José is thinking about the U.S. Open, America’s premier tennis tournament. After attending a very quiet and non-controversial match he is left wondering why the food at the Arthur Ashe stadium is so much better than any other sports venue he has been to, and why tennis fans dress so much better than any sports fans he’s met before.
Danielle is thinking about mid-century jazz singer Peggy Lee, stylist of sultry classics like “Fever,” “Black Coffee,” and “Why Don’t You Do Right.” D never knew she loved so many of Lee’s renditions of her old-timey favorites.
#35: Freeloaders & Fascists
José is thinking about Aretha Franklin’s 1972 album Amazing Grace. Besides being the best selling gospel album of all-time, it represents an important musical moment: the transition from the authentic, intimate, and religious tradition of gospel music to the popular mainstream sounds of 1970s soul.
Special guest Charlie Gilkey is thinking about the decline of the influence of uncles, as a detriment to young men. He thinks this lack of a variety in male influences may be contributing to toxic masculinity. We think he should come back on the show to discuss this in a future episode.
Danielle is thinking about trauma/tension release exercises or TRE, which induce a natural “therapeutic tremor” in the body to help release stress. This involuntary shaking looks like you’re having a seizure, but you remain aware and able to take control at any time. After watching a few videos, Danielle was able to do it in her living room and felt like she’d just gotten a great massage afterward.
#34: 1000 Islands, 1000 Lives
José is thinking about BlacKkKlansman: Spike Lee’s latest film about a black police officer in Colorado Springs, CO who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Based on a true story, this film combines comedy, drama, action in a portrayal that demonstrates the larger problem of humans who are caught between divided communities.
Danielle is thinking about Terrible, Thanks for Asking, a podcast from creator Nora McInerny about what it’s like when shit hits the fan: stories about loss, death, disaster, and how we muddle through. She particularly recommends episode #0: Sad Nora and the Secret Baby about Nora’s miscarriage, followed five days later by her father’s death, followed six weeks after that by her husband’s death. It is intimate and beautifully told, a stunning example of how tragedy can be transmogrified into exquisite art.
#33: Boredom's Cure(iosity)
José is thinking about Questionable Content a slice-of-life webcomic created by Jeph Jacques. Running semi-daily since August 2003, QC is a window in the life of twenty/thirty somethings, the robots that interact with them, and the lived reality of music, work, and the emotional struggles that define early 21st century America. Never before have six panels a day resonated so strongly.
José’s three favorite strips
Danielle is thinking about a particularly beautiful episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table about Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist nun, who, through simple and mindful cooking at her Korean temple, creates food so exceptional that it has drawn the attention of world renowned Michelin Star chefs. Her quiet, attentive manner, combined with the amazing cinematography of her food, is transfixing. Check out the trailer for season 3.
#32: Anger is a Hasty Servant
Special guest Greg Sadler is thinking about 80s rock band Thor's 1985 song and music video "Anger." Though Greg endorses the song, he warns that the video has been described as the worst music video ever made. Judge for yourself.
Danielle is thinking about Hannah Gadsby's Nannette, an amazing comedy special on Netflix that is part stand-up routine, part one woman show, part deconstructed meta-analysis of comedy itself. Gadbsy tells her story of being a victim of sexual violence and discrimination in a raw, beautiful, and heartbreakingly honest one hour monologue. It’s a must watch.
#31: Hitler's Flowers
José is thinking about the Free Philosophy Project, an organization that connects philosophy students and the residents of various Boston-area homeless shelters for intellectually stimulating philosophical conversations. Founded by Clarinda Blais (as an undergrad!), the project helps both students and homeless residents: students learn to view issue through a perspective they seldom have access to, and residents are able to critically reflect on their own thoughts and experiences.
Some articles about the Free Philosophy Project:
Sometimes in life, the best teachers among us are the students (Women in the World)
Danielle is thinking about a TEDx talk she gave at TEDxPCC called “What to do when your worldview falls apart.” It is a reflection of how to respond when your fundamental beliefs about what is true, right, and good crumble to pieces.
She is also thinking about a documentary film called How to Die in Oregon about Oregon’s “Die with Dignity” Act, which allows doctors to legally prescribe lethal doses of medication to the terminally ill. The film is both politically important and a raw and moving encounter with human mortality.
#30: Playing Chess with Yourself
José is thinking about Dom Ramsey’s I'm a Chocolate Marker, and Here's How the Chocolate Gets Made: from bean to bar, from Bored Panda. Full of vivid photos (and a gif!) this post recounts the extensive process used to create chocolate bars. It reminds him of his favorite segments in Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood—the short films showing children how factories and machines made things.
Danielle is thinking about Ali Wong’s new Netflix comedy special Hard Knock Wife. A follow up from her first 2016 special, Baby Cobra, Wong riffs on the pleasures and horrors of postpartum life with so much bald honesty and humor that Danielle was in tears of laughter within the first six minutes. And Wong does it all in a tiny, tight dress while very, very pregnant—totally badass.
#29: The "I" in Us
José is reading (and thinking about) "Why Trying to Be Less Awkward Never Works" by Melissa Dahl in the New York Times. Why is it that the more we try to be less awkward, the more… awkward we are. Dahl notes that explicit monitoring—a focus on the outward signs of non-awkwardness—helps us learn about new concepts, but at a certain point that continued focus leads us to new forms of awkwardness. What is needed is a habituation of what we learn, not continued imitation.
Danielle is thinking about Seattle radio station KEXP’s YouTube Channel. She is enjoying finding new musical artists, and watching their intimate, in-studio performances. She recommends the 100 most viewed playlist to see great live renditions from artists, both familiar and unfamiliar.
#28: Our Patron Saint
José is thinking about The Street Art of the Black Panther Party, Camilo José Vergara’s post on CityLab. The use of street art for the dissemination of political messages (or propaganda) is nothing new—we need only look at the Ancient Romans—but the combination of fantastical imagery and often dystopian urban landscapes created an absurd imagery that brought the message of the Black Panthers to the forefront.
Also see From the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter a review from the Walker Art Center.
Special guest Jack Russell Weinstein is thinking about music theory, and recommends going to YouTube to watch videos from music theorists to help you understand music, math, and how they fit together.
Danielle is thinking about the Hidden Brainpodcast, which explores the inner working of human psychology and behavioral science in everyday life. She has found each episode to be extremely enjoyable and well crafted, and she particularly recommends “Why Now?” about the MeToo movement and how cases of sexual harassment are being handled differently now than they used to be.
#27: Of Friends and Flatulence
José is thinking about Prune, an iOS game that challenges you to skillfully prune a tree in order to grow beautiful flowers. The meditative aspects of the game—its music and its minimal, yet expressive, graphics—have captured his attention and time during the long commute to work. See also the Verge's review of the game.
Danielle is thinking about the fabulously funny and smart HBO series Insecure from Issa Rae, creator of the web series Awkward Black Girl. Issa—both as a character and as a writer—is thoughtful, quirky, and completely lovable. Check out the trailer:
#26: My Baby, My Moral Mistake
José is thinking about ContaPoints a YouTube creator who specializes in making videos that make contemporary social and political philosophy accessible and interesting. Without getting lost in the excess jargon of theory, he finds her videos are still (relatively) faithful to the ideas present in topics like capitalism, bullying, and atheism. His favorite video is What's Wrong with Capitalism (Part 2):
Danielle is thinking about the children’s book, The Dandelion’s Tale, written by Kevin Sheehan and illustrated by Rob Dunlavey. This sweet, sad story about a dandelion’s last days and how a sparrow helps her to be remembered. Be prepared to feel some feelings.
Also, she thinks that homemade mayonnaise is her new favorite food. She recommends this recipe.
#25: On Racist Jokes (Funny Ones)
José is thinking about Cool Optical Illusions Compilation on YouTube. What is so engaging about optical illusions? José thinks it is the joy of being fooled by our senses (which we usually have extreme faith in) combined with a connection to our youth. Plus, the greatest optical illusion music video of all time:
Danielle is thinking about the Seed and Spark YouTube series Fuck Yes, a series of shorts that depict couples getting and giving consent in fun and sexy ways. In an attempt to prove wrong those who say that consent is not sexy, the creative team at Seed and Spark wants to show that consent can be playful and erotic as hell. Fuck yes!
#24: The Real Thing
José is thinking about the village of Dafen in southern China: the world’s center of forged/fake art. Where most villagers copy dozens of classic art pieces and take (a small part) in a lucrative trade. Are these men and women creative artists in their own right, or (incredibility skilled) hacks/craftsmen? A few articles:
China's Art Factories: Van Gogh From the Sweatshop, Martin Paetsch, Spiegel Online
China's Assembly-line Artists Put the Mass in Masterpieces, Brendan Siebel, Wired
Danielle is thinking about Kerry Egan’s lovely, quiet, little book On Living. As a hospice chaplain, Egan shares her meditations on life from spending time with those who are near its end. The result is an unassuming, but beautifully written, series of philosophical essays on living well.
#23: Hope in a Godless World
José considers the concepts of activity and seriousness in the context of contemporary political events in Beau Willimon's The Parisian Woman. A play where the seeming emptiness of a comfortable and meaningless life comes face-to-face with the chance to radically alter the lives of others.
From the website:
Set in Washington, D.C., where powerful friends are the only kind worth having, the story follows Chloe (UMA THURMAN), a socialite armed with charm and wit, coming to terms with politics, her past, her marriage and an uncertain future. Dark humor and drama collide at this pivotal moment in Chloe's life, and in our nation's, when the truth isn't obvious and the stakes couldn't be higher.
Danielle is thinking about Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of Laika at the Portland Art Museum. In this whimsical exhibit, you get to see set pieces, puppets, and tiny costumes from the four Laika feature films: Coraline, Paranorman, Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings. I went with my family, and my two-year-old and I were both equally delighted by the fantastical colors, shapes, and magic of Laika. If you're in Portland, get yourself to the exhibit before it ends on May 20th.
#22: We Got Options
After a long night singing and partying in transit starved Red Hook, Brooklyn, José is thinking about the short, wonderful, and accessible—Karaoke: Culture With A Two Drink Minimum—an academic paper analyzing the culture of karaoke. How does singing in public, as an amatuer, and for fun, up-end traditional musical structure? What does the joy we gain from karaoke mean, and what can it help us understand about ourselves?
Danielle is thinking about the 2 Dope Queens HBO special series. The queens are Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, two amazing comedians with sparkling chemistry and a line-up of fabulously funny stand-ups. And folks, their fashion game is on point. Watch the first episode free on HBO’s website.
#21: Borrowing Worry
José is thinking about the David Hockney exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among all the wild paintings from Hockney’s career, he was mesmerized by the displays showing the artist’s new project of drawing on an iPad. Here is a video showing Hockney sketching:
Danielle is thinking about two things:
W.E.B. DuBois’ classic text The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of essays and short stories about his experiences and understanding of racial relationships at the turn of the 20th century. The work is exquisitely written and so many of its ideas (unfortunately) remain relevant more than a century later.
Please Like Me a dark comedy TV series from Australian creator, Josh Thomas that is witty, rye, and avoids the typical TV tropes to offer stories and characters that are refreshingly honest. The full series is currently available on Hulu.
#20: When is Enough...Enough?
José’s been thinking about Leïla Slimani’s,The Perfect Nanny. A wonderful (and quick!) read by one of France’s great up-and-coming authors.
When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.
Lauren Collins, “The Killer-Nanny Novel That Conquered France”, New Yorker, Jan. 1, 2018
Danielle has been thinking about the graphic novel, Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir (Or, How I Kicked Anorexia’s Ass and Embraced Body Positivity) by Lacy J. Davis and Jim Kettner. For those who have not read graphic novels because they are not inspired by superheroes or fantasy stories, you may enjoy this take on a graphic novel, a reality-based memoir that is pleasurable both for its thoughtfulness and its dynamic drawings. As immersive as a book but visual like a film, this book is a perfect first, or fortieth, foray into the world of graphic novels.
#19: Feminist Friendship
José has been thinking about Amanda Petrusich’s My Ten Best Albums of 2017. Besides paying homage to the phenomena of “Latin Crossover” and the mainstreaming of Trap music, the article pointed him to the Björk’s amazing new album Utopia (which has been on high rotation on his iPhone).
Björk, Blissing Me
And as a bonus, Migos
Cori has been thinking about Tricia Miranda, the dance/youtube/instagram sensation who has been choreographing and teaching a new generation of dancers. Currently Cori is learning Miranda’s moves for J Balvin and Willy William’s Mi Gente.
Danielle has been thinking about Of Oz the Wizard, a strange and extremely ambitious project in which editorial mad genius Matt Bucy has alphabetized every utterance in the classic film The Wizard of Oz. It is somehow ridiculous and mesmerizing, and you won’t believe how long you actually sit and watch it.
#18: You, Me, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones
José is thinking about The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ 1993 music video for their song “Don’t Know How to Party.” This early video from the band who would later become rich and famous with “The Impression That I Get,” is more than rough around the edges, complete with random shots of Boston and disorganized fans on stage. It is a nice reminder that quality takes time.
Danielle is thinking about Google Keep, an app from the Google suite that will possibly change her life. It is a searchable digital file cabinet that stores, notes, photos, audio files, web pages, etc. It is easy to tag items with labels, to color code them, and to search by label, color, type, or any word in any of the notes. She doesn’t understand why the whole world doesn’t know about this.
#17: From Happy Cow to Hopeful Child
José is thinking about the Complexions Dance Company's new ballet Star Dust: a tribute to David Bowie, featuring the music of David Bowie, beautiful costumes and makeup, and exciting dance! He notes that unlike many other attempts to marry popular music and high art dance, this performance is both exciting and organic to both of its sources of inspiration.
Danielle is thinking about the Time magazine article by Claire Howorth called, “Motherhood is Hard to Get Wrong. So Why Do So Many Moms Feel So Bad About Themselves?” about the various expectations, norms, and myths around motherhood. From breastfeeding to co-sleeping, mothers are constantly given contradictory advice and judged for their decisions, leading many mothers to feel like they are failing to live up to some sort of imaginary standard. This piece outlines those feelings with compassion and insight.
#16: Teen Movies Will Save the World
José is thinking about 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait. Largely (and unfairly) dismissed as a teen movie, CHW exhibits many of the qualities that make (good) teen movies so useful for learning how to have conversations: in one coherent film, it features a range of different characters forced to interact with each other; the false swagger/frigidity of teens then stripped to their emotional core; the multiple layers of meaning and interpretation pushing us to move beyond the film in front of us. Oh, come on! His wardrobe alone leaves him open for public mockery.
Danielle is thinking about the children’s book Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth. This lovely retelling of this old European folk tale depicts three monks who visit a village and teach the wary and untrusting villagers how to make stone soup. Each villager contributes something from home to make a nourishing and rich meal that is greater than the sum of its parts, thus teaching them all a lesson about generosity and community.
#15: All News is Fake News
José is thinking about The Florida Project (2017): a film that shows the life of a mother (Jancey) and daughter (Moonee) in Orlando, Florida. Despite their rough economic circumstances living in transient housing, and Jancey’s (at times difficult to watch) parenting, the film shows both the beauty of childhood and the depth of the bond between mother and child.
Here is the trailer:
Danielle is thinking about 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreats with teacher S. N. Goenka, available at meditation centers all over the world through dhamma.org. This meditation course is 10 days of silent meditation, getting up at four in the morning, sitting for multiple hours a day, and having a totally life-changing experience. It’s not always pleasant, but it is deeply informative and revealing—a journey inward unlike any other.
#14: I'm Not a Masturbation Couch
José saw MoMA’sItems: Is Fashion Modern?—an exhibitof 111 items of clothing from the 20th & 21st centuries— which “considers the many relationships between fashion and functionality, culture, aesthetics, politics, labor, identity, economy, and technology.” Here is a video:
Danielle is enjoying singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton’s music video for her song “Vim and Vigor” from her 2016 album So Ferocious. This fun and provocative video turns the traditional tropes of half-naked women serving a man’s every need on its head, as Carsie is surrounded by good looking, often scantily-clad men that shower her with food, drink, and other pleasures.
#13: Emotional Work for White People
José is thinking about Danielle's creative piece "White Noise," a true story about her experience coping with postpartum psychosis after the birth of her daughter, published in Literary Mama. You can watch her read the piece:
Danielle is thinking about NBC’s television series The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, now in its second season. This cute and silly romp through the afterlife dabbles with some moral and philosophical issues, as one of its central characters is a professor of ethics and moral philosophy. Season one is currently on Netflix.
#12: Is Belief in God Morally Wrong?
José is thinking about “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017” an exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. He was moved by Carl Pope’s “Some of the Greatest Hits of the New York City Police Department: A Celebration of Meritorious Achievement in the Community,” which featured a massive shelf of engraved trophies for police officers who shot and killed civilians. Moving.
Danielle has been thinking about the 2017 Camp Hollywood Lindy Hop Finals in Los Angeles, CA. If you want to see some of the best swing dancers in the world do jumps, kicks, and flips, check out this video:
#11: Tolerating the Nazi Next Door
José is thinking about Taylor Swift’s video Look What You Made Me Do, off her soon to be released album reputation (sic). After comparing it to T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, he reviews the symbolism of several scenes, and then he and Danielle laugh like middle school teens.
Danielle is thinking about the 2016 documentary Tickled, which is sort of about competitive endurance tickling, but really a crazy mystery story in which filmmaker and journalist David Farrier finds himself assaulted by verbal abuse and lawsuits as he follows a twisted trail into a shadowy world. Danielle watched it, mouth agape in incredulous giddiness.
#10: Help Yourself
José is thinking about Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean) a Chicago sculpture by Sir Anish Kapoor. More than just a shiny, tourist’s photo-opportunity, it draws interest with its simple, reflective surface. Walk under the Bean to see yourself and your fellow pilgrims in an otherworldly perspective.
Danielle is thinking about French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1946 essay “Existentialism is a Humanism.” This short, accessible, and provocative essay is full of concrete examples and compelling language--a good text for the beginner philosophy student and a persuasive example of philosophy as self-help.
#9: In Defense of Snobs
José is thinking about Miles Davis’ 1959 masterpiece, Kind of Blue. Considered the greatest Jazz album of all-time, in later life Davis would say:
“So What” or Kind of Blue, they were done in that era, the right hour, the right day, and it happened. It’s over […]. What I used to play with Bill Evans, all those different modes, and substitute chords, we had the energy then and we liked it. But I have no feel for it anymore—it’s more like warmed-over turkey.
What must it feel like to dismiss a work that you have created while it is still (rightly!) adored by others?
Danielle is thinking about Joni Mitchell’s canonical 1971 album Blue. Hailed by music critics as one of the best albums of all time, Mitchell’s personal and poetic lyrics and playful vocal range takes you on a journey of heartache, wanderlust, and homecoming. It was Danielle’s personal soundtrack for her travels through Spain during her college years.
#8: Where is the Pain?
José saw (and highly recommends!) the Meow Meow Revolution: a modern neo-cabaret show performed by Melissa Madden Grey. Her show mixes traditional pop/jazz standards with an irreverent and self-aware campiness that makes it “the thinking man’s” low-brow entertainment.
Danielle has been watching the new Netflix series GLOW about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling in the 1980s. Starring Alison Brie and Marc Maron, this fun and fabulous romp through big hair and melodrama is thoughtful about gender, race, stereotypes, and the images we present to the world.
#7: Death Rattles of Dance
José got himself a Garra Rufa treatment in Prague. After the traditional thai massage, his feet were placed inside a tank where several dozen tiny fish ate his dead skin. He 💖 it, and (contrary to D’s claims) the fish did not die.
Danielle’s been thinking about Season 3 of NPR’s podcast Invisibilia, especially “Emotions Part One.” She was especially struck by the idea that emotions are socially and culturally constructed, which means that we don’t feel emotions that we don’t have concepts for.
#6: White Girl Sings the Blues
José is thinking about Conor Neil’s Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint”. Amazon has a policy of starting each meeting with 30 minutes of silent reading, and José considers if other business meetings suffer because they do not have the time for critical reflection before their discussion.
Danielle is thinking about an episode of the FOX television sitcom Brooklyn 99. The episode entitled “Moo Moo” (season 4) features two black, male characters negotiating how to deal with racism in their jobs as cops. When Sgt. Jeffords (Terry Crews) is harassed and unjustly arrested by a white cop while off-duty, he and Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher) disagree on what to do.
#5: Lottery Players Lack Imagination
José is thinking about Melissa Segura’s Buzzfeed piece on a Chicago detective accused of framing 51 people for murder. He is struck by how powerful family loyalty is—in the face of the overwhelming hopelessness of a murder conviction—and how perseverance helped uncover injustice against those many wanted to write off.
Danielle is thinking about snowboarding. Coached by a snow-whisperer guru at beautiful Mt. Hood, she discovers the Tao of Snowboarding and recommends a trip down the slopes for anyone who wants to learn how to lay back.
#4: Giving with Reason
#3: T-Shirt Feminism
José is thinking about Maggie Nelson’s, The Argonauts, a gender (and philosophy!) bending memoir that recounts the author’s relationship with her gender fluid partner, her pregnancy, and her fascination with both language and theory.
Danielle is thinking about the hilarious and remarkably feminist CW tv show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which just finished airing its second season.
#2: Stop Traffic...and You Die
This week José re-considers Weezer’s, “Pinkerton”, an album widely panned at its reception, but now (20 years later) considered a classic.
Danielle is thinking about the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, which discusses why certain ideas “stick” and others don’t. They offer clear, concrete ways to make your ideas stickier.
#1: I had a crumby trip because I'm a crumby person
Danielle is thinking about Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Simon and Schuster, 2012, audiobook read by Heather Henderson), which tells the story of a 24-year-old young journalist who is afflicted with a rare autoimmune disorder that attacks her brain and sends her into a month-long psychosis.