2015 Year in Review: This Asian Life

Hanging out at a cat cafe, Seoul.

Hanging out at a cat cafe, Seoul.

“This Asian Life” was one rejected names for my East Asia Tumblr, which ultimately got a pretty straightforward name, Elise Goes East! But lucky for me, the name still hung around my head long enough to return as a headline for my annual year-in-review post.

Between the globe irreversibly warming, mass gun deaths at a regular clip and the tumultuous rise of ISIS, it can feel like the human race is on the brink. But I have to stay hopeful, partly out of my constitution and partly because this year we brought another tiny human into the world and I want it to be a safe enough, survivable place for her.

In my little universe, there has been plenty of discovery and joy, and for that I’m endlessly grateful.

New Experiences: Moving to South Korea. Living in South Korea. Eating live octopus. Stranger in a strange land syndrome. Having a baby in a foreign country. Reporting through an interpreter almost exclusively. Ear infection. Getting abandoned in a cab without explanation. Crashing a wedding and going unnoticed. Eating 4,000 calories in front of an audience of thousands, who gave feedback the whole time. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Osaka, Japan. Osaka’s karaoke bars. Cat cafe.

Most Mindblowingly Awesome Gift: My friend and coworker, the shockingly talented Adam Cole, wrote and performed me a K-pop style goodbye song using common Korean phrases he taught himself in a day. This will be on the “best list” of my life, not just of the year.

Difficult Loss: Saying goodbye to my dog, Saidee.

Most Unexpected Mail: The last season of Mad Men on DVD, sent from LA by Mad Men creator and head honcho Matt Weiner. When he wrote me asking for my address, I thought it was a joke, until those DVDs arrived in the mail from his assistant.

Beverages of Choice: Gong Cha’s black tea iced bubble tea with full ice, 30% sweetness. Grapefruit soju. So much grapefruit soju.

Regrets: Never learned a signature karaoke song in Korean. Not counting kids books I read only three books beginning-to-end in 2015. This is by far my all-time low. Next year I’m taking the advice here on how to read more.

Product Discoveries: Okonomiyaki, “essence” for skincare, enoki mushrooms, pilates socks, Laneige water bank sleeping mask, Tony Moly Eye Cooling Stick

Things I miss about my American life: Snickers ice cream bars, the NFL, chatting it up with strangers, being understood when I ask questions, uncensored Internet, driving (on occasion), wasting time during the work day by walking to Starbucks with my coworkers, going to the office, being able to get food that’s not automatically spicy, Life cereal whenever I want it

Notable New Pal: Chris Holmes, who is Paul McCartney’s DJ. I met Chris in a classic living abroad/traveling a lot situation —  when you happen to be in the same place as an old friend. In this instance, I was in Tokyo at the same time as pal Harper, who was there with his dad to see Chris play in the Paul McCartney show in Tokyo. Not only did I get to hang with Harper and dad, we met Chris and his wife, Melinda, and when the McCartney tour came to Seoul, Chris hooked me up with VVIP tickets at the last minute. See? This is why you should say yes to everything.

Favorite Selfie: Isabel nailing me in the face a few days after I tried the “rice ball baby face” meme on her.

Items Muled to Seoul By American Friends: Hidden Valley Ranch, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Advil Liquigels, Almay Eye Makeup Remover Pads, Loreal Voluminous Mascara in Blackest Black, Lawry’s Taco Seasoning, my Graf & Lantz tote bag, baby shoes, Clean and Clear Foaming Face Wash, Degree deodorant, Purpose face wash, Robitussin Cough and Cold, Zinc throat spray.

And in no particular order, this year I:

Traveled 168,895 miles, visited seven countries and spent 54 days away from home (DC and then Seoul). It is more mileage but a lot more time at home than last year. I’m still exclusively breastfeeding little Isa, so she has to fly with me everywhere since I’m her food source. Pumping is an occasional option, but, since I am a known pump-hater, it is a last resort.
Kicked off 2015 in Mexico with some of my best pals and whiskey water
Said goodbye to Washington, D.C.
Got the best sendoff song of ever
Moved into my first-ever high-rise
Started learning Korean
Took a few MOOCs
Fried a few appliances due to international voltage differences
Learned about PM2.5 and started checking it every day
Played Korean drinking games with my company’s CEO
Started learning Korean, made little progress
Made a bunch of new expat friends, and
Entertained a lot of guests who visited from the states
Spent a lot more time with my mom/dad/brother, thanks to being newly Asia-based
Witnessed a line for a Taco Bell opening
Got the angriest listener voicemail
Let a stranger sleep on my shoulder on the Tokyo subway, which I learned is a Japan thing
Reflected upon my Korea experience with many blogs and magazines
Ate a giant cheeseburger in between contractions, during the birth of my new baby
Visited Jeju Island, a super weird place
Got a 10-year visa to China, but had to sign an MOU promising I wouldn’t commit acts of journalism when I’m there
Started life-logging again, this time with FitBit
Had a weird meeting at the North Korean embassy in Japan
Interviewed a Taiwanese presidential candidate
Witnessed a dog groomed into a square
Pissed off PSY’s lawyer
Found an uncannily spot-on Texas-themed bar in Tokyo
Covered ASEAN.
Spoke at my grandfather’s alma mater, in Beijing.
Got bronchitis after a trip to Beijing
Started a newsletter with a punny name.
Survived a 14-hour flight with a cranky husband, highly verbal three-year-old and a nursing baby. Then made it through their jet lag.

I think we can call it a year now. Goodbye, 2015.

Previous Years in Review:
201420132012 | 20112010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

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We Need To Talk About My Osaka Karaoke Experience

Intense singing. With strangers.

Intense singing. With strangers.

It’s no secret I enjoy a good karaoke night with friends, but it turns out there’s a semi-private karaoke experience — with strangers — I enjoy just as much.

Last weekend in Osaka my friend Sarah and I stumbled upon several bars of the same type: They are sorta-divey, narrow spaces — only as wide as a tall man’s wingspan, a single, sit down bar that seats maybe 12 people, tops, and three bartender women who serve you sake, beer or liquor while you and your barmates sit around and take turns signing karaoke selections which appear on the two screens in front of you. (The bartender ladies make sure to offer you the remote and song book at frequent intervals so the singing doesn’t cease).

You just drink and sing, and smoke, since it’s allowed in Japan, with strangers in a super intimate setting. Or you can ignore everyone and stare straight ahead, since it’s a bar and not a living room setting, like private karaoke rooms (which are far more common across Asia). But everyone applauds you at the end of your selection, these bars are full of men but non-suggestive bartender women, and you end up feeling a general sense of community in a short amount of time. I need to know what this bar concept is called!

A stirring rendition (at least to us) of  "Moon River" with our new (and only) Osaka friend.

A stirring rendition (at least to us) of “Moon River” with our new (and only) Osaka friend.

We befriended the Osaka man who happened to be seated next to us, and he humored me by singing the Japanese cliche, “Sukiyaki,” because it was the one Japanese song I could think of. I returned the favor by selecting “Moon River,” with which, for some reason, all Asians I’ve ever karaoked with are familiar.

The best part of the evening was, after we were three bottles of sake in, the bartender ladies passed out karaoke snack sticks for everyone. I think it was like a Funyun, but in the form of a cylinder, and wrapped in cute Doraemon packaging featuring little Doraemon holding a microphone singing. They come in onion or curry flavor (among others) and they were DELICIOUS. Sarah was most excited about the snack.

WHAT ARE THESE BARS? I don’t know the Japanese name for them but there’s gotta be a name for this type of experience, since while wandering the area near the Tennoji Zoo (parts of it can be kinda sketchy by Japan standards), there were several of them in a row. At first we were intimidated about wandering into one, namely because they were so small that it seemed unnerving, and because all the customers were men and the bartenders were women. But nothing even remotely weird or sexual seemed to happen while we were there. It was just a good ol’ time, making new friends. Definitely one of my top nights in Asia.

The curly haired man on the end there ended up singing a Queen song for us, which was pretty crazy.

The curly haired man on the end there ended up singing a Queen song for us, which was pretty crazy.

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Tokyo-Seoul-Beijing-Seoul-Taipei

The cameras in the People's Square.

The cameras in the People’s Square.

This month, I am going from South Korea to Japan to China and then finally to Taiwan, spending about a week in each place. Each place has its own unique culture, despite being connected as a region. And now that we’re halfway through these journeys (only Taiwan is left) I’m not only feeling culture-whiplash, but a severe pain in my throat and a nagging cough known in the expat community as “Beijing Cough.”

These are some things I remember about Beijing:

Brother Roger took care of a lot of hospitality even though we were only seeing him as a secondary reason; the reason we went to Beijing was to help train students as part of the Sam Houston State University’s Global Journalism Center, which had partnered with Tsinghua University, my grandpa’s alma mater. Roger being the host he is, he made sure we had drivers anytime we needed, which helped a lot but all the car time also showed us how traffic really is murder in Beijing.

The girls were awesome. We stayed in a Marriott “executive apartment” for a few nights because the facility had a giant lap pool and a kids play room, both of which Eva took advantage of. There was also a giant closet that fit Isabel’s co-sleeper so Isa had a “room” of her own.

The duck was second to none, of course, but Roger introduced us to his favorite Japanese restaurant in Beijing and they knew how to make Japanese food, no joke. Tasted like a really quality joint in Tokyo, where we’d been just the week before.

Due to a windstorm, the smog got blown out of town for the first few days of our trip. It was straight up BLUE skies, which I didn’t expect. But the smog eventually returned and was so severe that I got recurring headaches, the tickle in my throat turned into a full-on cough, and when walking from our hotel to a coffee shop to meet my friend Ben, it straight-up smelled like everything was on fire. It was just the air.

I had forgotten about squatter toilets, which have largely been phased out of Seoul but remain in a lot of public bathrooms in Beijing. Squatters were a big feature of life when I spent a few summers in Taipei in the 1990s. Except in the 1990s I was in middle school, about 100lbs and hadn’t delivered two babies, so squatting wasn’t so physically burdensome. I was basically anxious every time I was away from the hotel and felt the need to pee.

This led to a discussion about squatters with the aforementioned Ben. He pointed out that squatters are actually more sanitary, in his mind. I think they’re gross because I have to be so close to the ground while squatting and you see the mix of shoe grime and wetness on the ground while you’re down there. But Ben said it’s much better to squat and NOT have your legs on a toilet seat that so many others have sat on. The solution of course is just to squat over a toilet seat, but toilet seats weren’t an option.

Since we’re on the topic of squatting, something else happened. Matty was outside our hotel one night and saw a cabbie turn his flashers on, get out of the car, drop trou, crouch behind some bushes and take a dump near the curb, get back up with his pants still open, tuck-in his shirt and return to the cab. No shame. Kind of amazing.

You know what else was kind of amazing? The valets who drive you home in your own car.

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What I’m Reading: The Love and Relationships Edition

It's complicated.

It’s complicated. (Photo credit: Channing Johnson)

If you and I spend any one-on-one time together, we inevitably get around to some of my favorite topics — love, fidelity, identity and memory. I cover human connection (and how technology is changing it) as a beat, so over the past year I’ve been writing more on these themes, with posts questioning whether online dating is really helping us make better matches, etc.

I’ve also evangelized the best show on TV right now (since Mad Men isn’t back yet), The Americans on FX. It’s ostensibly a show about Russian spies living as sleeper agents in the U.S. But really it’s about love, fidelity and identity. And it stars one of my mad crushes, Matthew Rhys. (I love Matt’s! And Welshmen!)

Buried in that exposition was RECOMMENDATION #1: The Americans on FX. Watch it. Seriously. Season 3 debuts on Wednesday.

Okay, here are the rest of my recommendations on this theme:

#2 Why We Cheat (Slate Magazine)
The author of the book ‘Mating in Captivity’ sits down for a Q&A, in which she dispels some of our black-and-white thinking about stepping out on our partners. The nut graf: “Very often we don’t go elsewhere because we are looking for another person. We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self. It isn’t so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become.”

#3 The Split-Screen Marriage (The New York Times)

Showtime’s Golden Globe-winning (but not necessarily deserving) program, The Affair, explores the notion of perception and memory in our intimate relationships. It tells half its story from the man’s point of view, then flips midway through each episode to the woman’s perspective. Even though they remember the same sequence of events (for the most part), the tone and details are completely different. This NYT piece gets at “the canyon of ignorance that cuts across every human relationship” and got me thinking about how we can treat one other better by seeking to know our partners more.

#4 Vonnegut on Marriage (dannyman.toldme.com)

An argument for the villages of yesteryear — extended families. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it’s about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they’re really saying to each other, though without realizing it, is this: “You are not enough people!”

#5 Searching for Sex (The New York Times)

This piece made me want everyone to get laid more. As I mentioned in a previous post, an economist dives into the big data we have on sex-related searches, whether it’s penis size or the number of times “sexless marriage” is searched instead of “loveless marriage.” The results show Americans are have WAY TOO LITTLE SEX and that they’re really hung up about body insecurities.

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Everything I Know About Serial From Hearing Y’all Talk About It

Something crazy happened this fall. A serialized audio tale called Serial gripped the nation, becoming the most downloaded podcast in the history of podcasts. A spinoff of This American Life, Serial followed producer Sarah Koenig as she re-reported an old homicide case from Baltimore. Ever since it caught on with a certain set (read: people who I hang out with at bars), I was the fifth or seventh wheel in some-sort-of-Serial-conversation almost every day.

I have not heard a second of Serial.*

But since I sure do spend a lot of time at bars with you all, let met tell you about Serial based on never hearing it. All of us in the small club of Non-Serial Listeners should try this exercise:

Sometime around 15 years ago, a high school student named Adnan was dating a popular Asian-American student named Hae Min Lee (or something). He suspected she might have been cheating on her and may or may not have strangled her to death, put her body in a trunk, and got his marijuana dealer friend Jay to help him bury the body.

The Baltimore Police investigated and pinned the crime on Adnan, charging him with murder, which carries a sentence of life without parole. Adnan swears he’s innocent, though the details of where he was on the day Lee disappeared are hazy. All the details are retraced for us.

Jay-the-“friend” was critical to the prosecution’s case, as Jay testified that he helped bury the body and maybe something about picking up Adnan at a Best Buy. And there was some long chapter somewhere about whether there was a pay phone at the Best Buy back in the day.

The case goes to trial. But the first trial ends in a mistrial cause of something that went wrong with a juror maybe(?) and afterwards, the jurors polled indicated Adnan would have been acquitted.

High on this polling data of one jury in one space in time, the defense is confident going into the second trial. That doesn’t go so well. It might have to do with an attorney’s voice, which is difficult to listen to. There is debate about how sexist it is to complain about her voice. Adnan is convicted and sent to jail.

Koenig, in a jailhouse interview with Adnan (or several), finds him to be quite witty and charming. In the exploration of the case, the podcast casts doubt on whether Adnan actually committed the crime. Since the case hinged on Jay, they try to talk to him in the podcast but he proves elusive. Jay eventually gives and interview to The Intercept, but only after the podcast season concludes and apparently he’s kind of convincing in Adnan’s guilt. But of course he would be. Hrmmm.

The whole thing just DRAWS YOU IN on so many levels because it reveals how many variables are completely out of your control in the criminal justice system, the work that goes into shoe leather journalism and how our memories and perceptions deceive us. Just look at how unreliable eyewitness testimony can be. Koenig asks at one point, “What did you do last week?” AAAAHHHH NONE OF US CAN REMEMBER!

Oh, and then in the final episode or thereabouts, it is revealed that a serial killer was released from prison two weeks before Hae Min’s murder, and he later went on to rape and strangle to death an Asian American woman. This killer later committed suicide, so we can’t hear from him again.

The week-by-week Serial episodes spawn podcasts-about-the-podcast. Slate‘s is the most popular. Cocktail chatter about Serial can include questions like is it racist? (Insert something about the stereotypes of immigrant children.) Is this worth telling as a podcast? Isn’t every Law & Order episode an hourlong version of serial? What is the journalistic value of this? Why is Serial so effective?

This concludes your Serial introduction from someone who’s never heard Serial. Details are/were sketchy.

*I listen to one podcast. It is Andy Greenwald’s Hollywood Prospectus, from Grantland. I don’t even listen to it that regularly.

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2014 Year in Review: What Kind Of Year Has It Been?

“Of course, life will randomly go to hell every so often, too. Cold winds arrive and prick you: the rain falls down your neck: darkness comes.” -Annie Lamott

I spent much of 2014 just barely hanging on. (In the NorCal redwoods, May 2014)

I spent much of 2014 just barely hanging on. (In the NorCal redwoods, May 2014)

It’s hard to look back at 2014 without feeling completely paralyzed. A missing plane, never found. A plane being shot out of the sky. Another plane that went missing in the final days of the year. ISIS beheadings, Crimea, Gaza, Ebola, school shootings, campus rapes, lethal cops, our nation’s intractable problem with race. Ryan Gosling fathering a child with some woman.

For me, the year started with bringing home a flu strain from Asia, my nanny quitting at the height of a dramatic fight with us and a week later, suffering my first miscarriage. The nanny that replaced the first one wound up disappearing from our lives by August because she somehow was knocked up and needed to go tend to her own baby. Yep.

In the summer I went to Ferguson and got automatic rifles drawn on me by eight jumpy cops.

By October, I had finally moved desks as a gambit to change up my feng shui. A new beginning, I thought. On the very same day, the staff received an email — I read it at my new desk — that friend and mentor and the reason I came to work at NPR had been dismissed from his job by our new CEO. When I called my husband to commiserate, the first thing he said to me wasn’t empathetic but, “I hope you’re not crying at your desk right now.”

Then, two days before Christmas, after running into get a sandwich in the freezing rain, I returned to my car to find my purse and computer had been stolen sometime inside of four minutes. Merry Christmas, assholes.

That is the pessimistic take, of course. All our first-world “hard times” are nothing in the scheme of things. And there were moments of great love and delight this year, too. As I’ve done for 10 years now, here’s a Hu look back:

Favorite Discoveries on the Internet: Clickhole. The Passenger Shaming Instagram account.

We did not have a selfie stick for this. This is just Eric Schmidt's pure talent.

We did not have a selfie stick for this. This is just Eric Schmidt’s pure talent.

Favorite Selfie: The one Google Chairman Eric Schmidt took of us. He snapped a lot but I liked the one where I wasn’t paying attention.

New Experiences: Tear gas. Being in the crosshairs of cops. Jellyfish sting in Jamaica. Dangerous halluciongenic crisis in Jamaica. Couples crisis brought on by aforementioned dangerous drug trip. Aspen Institute. Doing a Planet Money podcast! Having a pregnant au pair. Speaking at the UN. Seaplane flight. Oculus Rift virtual reality experience. The miscarriages.

Randomness: Running into Obama in Denver. Getting lost in the briefing room. Hung out with a semi-famous actor-I-will-not name and watched him effectively bum some weed off strangers.

And in no particular order, this year I:

Flew 72,952 miles to four countries and 28 cities. Was gone from home 90 days this year, though it felt like way more.
Visited the Taiwanese News animation studio (a favorite from a previous Year in Review), told a story about it.
Took some creepy stalker photos of Sofia Coppola at a pool in Miami.
Moderated a panel on wearables at SXSW and did not wear Glass despite lobbying efforts by the Glass guy.
Got Taco Cabana delivered to my hotel room at the moment we needed it the most.
Partied with Scoot McNairy.
Got solar panels on our house.
Became buddies with a Hollywood funnyman named Alec Berg after interviewing him about his show, Silicon Valley. This led to a friend reunion with my high school pal from 9th grade, Scott Mechlowicz. Small universe.
Got retweeted by Martellus Bennett.
Survived longest winter in DC in maybe ever.
Taught a quarter at Northwestern.
Taught a semester at Georgetown.
Stayed at YMCA in the redwoods.
Attended four weddings. (Crissy, Alexis, Tim, Drew.)
Went on a hike in Aspen with Lance Armstrong’s nanny.
Parked wrong in San Francisco. Paid a $600 price for that mistake — the $440 base towing cost, plus the $150 citation.
Did a little talk with Eric Schmidt.
London!
Reconnected with my high school economics teacher, Mr. Coates.
Got a is-a-burrito-a-sandwich story on national air for more than five minutes.
Convinced my editor to get some online clothes styling with me (for a story, of course).
Covered #Ferguson. Dealt with difficult feelings afterward.
Lost my favorite boss. (Not from earth, just from work.)
Saw Seoul. Prepared to move there.

It wasn’t a bad year, entirely. I just had some of the hardest days and weeks of my life during the course of this year. It felt unrelentless at times. Tears were shed. Mistakes were made. But ultimately we survived. Here’s to a brighter, more peaceful 2015.

Previous Years in Review:
20132012 | 20112010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

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A Week In My Near Future

Some girls devouring street food in Myeongdong, a central shopping area.

Some girls devouring street food in Myeongdong, a central shopping area.

Back from Seoul. It was intense. I’m starting to get over uncompromising jet lag after taking two 14.5 hour, International date line-crossing flights inside five days. That meant I had only four days on the ground in Seoul to do a lot of preparation for moving there. I interviewed five candidates to be my translator/assistant, visited three preschools and saw 16, yes 16 different houses and apartments in Seoul. By the last day of house-hunting I really wanted to just pick something or throw in the towel.

A few observations:

Really going to like the heated seats on the Subway, which is also the cleanest subway system I’ve ever encountered. Don’t even get me started on how polite everyone is compared to the subhuman experiences in Shanghai, Beijing and being flabbergasted by the people who play their music without headphones on the DC Metro.

I have never seen so many post-op women just out and about in the city. I knew South Korea was some sort of cosmetic surgery capital but I didn’t expect to see it so obviously. It seemed like I couldn’t turn my head without seeing a gal with one of those skin-colored silicone nose covers protecting her face after a nose job. I told Matty about it and he says this is exactly what happens in the near-future predicted in The Hunger Games.

My mom met me in Seoul and while she had her own friend to hang out with while I did my work-related stuff, she did go on some of the househunting trips with me and we got to hang out together, just the two of us, which we hadn’t done in awhile. It made me really want to spend more time with my momma. I find a lot of the transitions coming up quite unnerving, but my mom makes me feel like I can handle anything.

And finally…

Someone I read a lot — Sean Bonner — recently wrote about how he missed his “old way” of blogging, in which he just spewed out whatever was on his mind into a post. We all tend to write about a single idea in each post now, which makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons, but maybe not for personal blogging. I miss the stream of consciousness blogging, too. I was reading my old blogger blog from my early twenties and remembered how much I enjoyed just writing whatever silliness was on my mind, without any particular connecting themes or organization.

Anyway that’s neither here nor there. Which is sort of my point in sharing it. I think I’m returning to posts devoid of any central points. Some more photos, below.

It Takes ID To Get ID: A Lesson in Opening an Office in Korea

Back when I covered Texas politics, the voter ID debate came up time and time again. Lawmakers eventually passed it in 2011, the legislative session I never finished covering. One of the complaints about a measure requiring voters to show ID and not just a voter registration card in order to cast a ballot was this: “It takes ID to get ID.”

Democrats argued that the measure disenfranchises seniors, minorities and the poor, like many of the Texans born to midwives, who might not have issued formal birth certificates. Or those who didn’t have a drivers license to start with and are now in their seventies and eighties. Being able to exist all your life without certain documentation, and then suddenly having to get it, would be too onerous a task for many voters, voter ID opponents argue.

This kind of hassle is really coming into full focus for me lately, in a totally unrelated situation. You may recall we are preparing to open the first ever NPR bureau in Seoul, South Korea. The paperwork hoops started with the gruff visa guy who wouldn’t grant me a visa for journalism activities until I had a business certificate. How does one obtain a business certificate? Your business must be registered with an address. How do I lease a place in order to have an address? I need a bank account. How do I start a bank account? I need a Korean alien registration card. How does one obtain an alien registration card? With a business license or visa.

You get it.

I leave for Seoul tomorrow, to try and resolve some of these issues in person. I’ll blog along the way. Wish me luck.

You Should Totally Waste Some Time Watching These Music Videos

I would like to assemble a panel of art critics who have never before been exposed to Go West’s ‘King of Wishful Thinking’ video to review this absurd and delightful artifact from 1980s humans. It really deserves far more attention than it’s gotten. I was reminded of it this morning by my friend Johnathan Woodward, who put it this way:

I sent it to friends Claire and Wes, who looped in Friend Mito.

CLAIRE: Oh my god what is this.
MITO: The keyboard guy at 1:01 and 1:43!!! SO GOOD.
[pause]
MITO: Oh I get it. Are those kitchen sinks being tossed in at the end?
WES: It would make a pretty good musicless music video, I think.
[pause]
WES: Wait, the Singin’ in the Rain one is better. Have you all seen it?

MITO: I love it. It’s even better than Phish Shreds:

WES: Ahh, I’ve never seen that before. I can’t stop laughing.

Credit: http://slugsolos.tumblr.com/

Credit: http://slugsolos.tumblr.com/

What I’m Reading: Post-Labor Day Edition

How did this summer pass us by? I think it might be all the doom and gloom. I’ve tried to not think about it too hard, to avoid a malaise spiral in which I end up playing Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’ over and over.

Anyway, now that I’m more or less recovered from Ferguson, I’m back to reading too many periodicals and posts. Some of them are:

The Worst Governments in America are Local Governments

Contrary to what we hear all the time about local governments being more responsive and accountable, this Jonathan Chait piece shows how state legislatures merely get elected because of the national mood, and local governments can be worse — downright oppressive. Ferguson’s problem is not police militarization, he argues, but the Orwellian attitudes that come with it.

With Big Data Comes Big Responsibility

Friend Om, who inspired me to put together these What I’m Reading lists in the first place, wrote this piece a couple months ago and it comes packed with a lot of big ideas. One of them I’ve been wrestling with is that so much of our privacy and subsequent feelings of security online are due to the benevolence of the Googles and Amazons of the world. How long will they be benevolent?

The WTF Did I Miss? recaps of Masters of Sex

If you’ve spoken to me anytime within the month of August, you’ve heard me wax rhapsodic about the wonder that is Showtime’s Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Their acting is heartbreaking and the show plumbs the depths of so many topics that fascinate me; love, work, identity, intimacy. But reading these spot on and belly-achingly funny reviews took my Masters of Sex experience to another level. You must read them if you’re a fan of the show.

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