What I’m Reading: The Trying A Newsletter Edition

I’ve gotten really into a couple of email newsletters that people I like and admire put out — notably Ann Friedman‘s, Jamelle Bouie‘s and Sean Bonner‘s. Newsletters are all the rage these days and I’ve toyed with doing one myself so I’m trying it out. You can subscribe at this link, and I’ll cross post here on HeyElise if you prefer not to crowd your inbox further.

What I Wrote

I’m on leave so I’m not doing a ton of writing for work. That said, I hope you’ll enjoy one of my last NPR pieces before I had a baby, on hard-core Korean hikers and how hiking links Korean immigrants to their ancestral homeland. I also wrote a bunch of answers for Cup of Jo, the popular lifestyle blog, about motherhood in South Korea. And if you haven’t moseyed over there yet, I started a blog for two-week-old Isabel Rock, because it wasn’t going to be fair that her sister has a Tumblr and I didn’t do some sort of documenting for Isa.

What I Read

Korean Juliana Haahs on being shamed for her looks by her Korean family. Ann Friedman on how the Taylor Swift/Nicki Minaj Twitter tussle laid bare what happens when white people hear big picture critiques about system racism. Sheila Smith on the uproar in Japan over legislation that would allow the pacifist nation to better defend itself militarily. Andy Greenwald on why Masters of Sex is not as good this season. The Atlantic writers scathingly and deliciously diss True Detective each week and that’s my favorite thing to read after my viewings. Choice example:

“Why, why, why, does Pizzolatto keep making Frank say thinks like, “It’s like blue balls. In your heart”? Poor guy’s got enough to deal with without it sounding like he’s doing pornographic slam poetry.”

What I’m Still Reading

Book: Korea: The Impossible Country, by Daniel Tudor

The former Economist correspondent in Seoul explores the history, culture and ways of life here on the land I now call home. It’s been dragging in a few parts but I’m learning a lot of fascinating tidbits so I’m working my way through.

What I’m Watching

Rectify is a quiet and sometimes lyrical show on Sundance Channel that I only recently discovered. The first season is only six episodes and available on Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming, so it’s easy to get caught up. It’s worth the investment if you enjoy character driven stories and can handle a more plodding pace. Not sure? Read Matt Zoller Seitz’s review, which won’t give much away.

Also: I’m hate-watching True Detective, of course.


The Instagram account of Chriselle Lim: Chriselle Lim is a stylist and video blogger that once worked with the famous YouTube tycoon, Michelle Phan. I’ll never have her glamour or togetherness so I lurk on her Instagram, instead. Also she has an adorable baby who is also already living a more stylish life than the rest of us.

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Animated David Foster Wallace On Perfectionism, Life Choices

I am an unapologetic David Foster Wallace fan. He’s one of my favorite writers and thinkers. I am also really enjoying Blank on Blank, a series of animated interviews. I just stumbled upon this DFW interview with WYNC that the Blank on Blank team put to moving pictures.

In Memoriam: 2012 Celebrity Death Pool

Our long-running celebrity death pool has concluded yet another year of being awful at picking celebrity deaths. (To prove my point, the year Amy Winehouse and Steve Jobs died, none of us picked either of them.)

George H.W. Bush’s passing, which did not happen despite the publishing of his obit, would have given Evan the 2012 win. But I ultimately get to claim victory on a technicality. Here’s a snapshot of the final scoresheet, which I’ll follow with an explanation:

CDP 2012 Final Point Totals. Click to enlarge.

CDP 2012 Final Point Totals. Click to enlarge.


Scoring is one point per death, then we subtract the age of death from 100 and put that number behind the decimal point. For example, a 25 year old celebrity death gets you 1.75 points, while a 80 year old celebrity death is 1.20 points.

Who counts as a celebrity? The group can veto a pick for obscurity during a draft, but we haven’t had a situation so far in which a questionably famous celebrity was drafted.

Lippy and Blake finished the year with 0 points. It’s the second shutout year in a row for Lippy, who didn’t correctly predict any celebrity deaths in 2011, either. Evan was prescient to pick Inouye, whose December passing took a lot of Washingtonians by surprise. Lindsay Lohan, who like Hosni Mubarak shows up on two lists, is somehow still alive.

The 2011 Holdover Rule of 2012, which has since been amended, is responsible for my second victory in a row. We don’t draft on the very last day of the previous year, which creates a death loophole for those who die between draft night and January 1 of the new year. In 2012’s draft, anyone who died in 2011’s gap period would count toward the 2012 total. That’s how I wound up with points for Christopher Hitchens.

No one benefited from the Two Deaths-Same Incident Rule, which doubles your points if two of your celebrity death picks die in the same incident.

2013’s contest introduced some major changes, notably the snake draft in which we can’t duplicate any picks, and the elimination of the holdover loophole. (Those who died in the gap weeks were replaced with fresh picks.)

The CDP Death Notification Rule remains. (The death of any CDP pick must be immediately tweeted and then shared or retweeted by other CDP members, sometimes with a standings update.)

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A Round of Cheers and Jeers

I’ve been sitting around my living room a lot more lately, since I am too slow to really move around and apparently I could go into labor at any moment. That has allowed plenty of time to consume more pop culture and cast judgement upon it.


This Jacoby Jones endzone dance from the Ravens-Eagles game today. It looks like he’s doing some sort of mongolian barbecuing or something … not sure, but it makes me happy:

Scott Disick. This guy is the only reason I’ve managed to sit through about four or five episodes of E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. He’s vapid and narcissistic like the rest of them, but he owns it and seems to be a pretty decent father, actually.

Owing to more sensitive gums, I am now flossing numerous times a day. So a big shout out to my favorite floss, Oral B’s Glide Pro-Health. So smooth. You know what else is smooth? Tito’s vodka, which I miss so much.



American peanut butter giant Jif has decided to make “Jif Hazelnut” to compete with the European hazelnut spread standard-bearer, Nutella. Say it with me now: OUTRAGE! But let’s see what the market decides, cause I don’t see how Nutella addicts will accept any imitators.

And how about one more first-world problem jeer for not-being-able-to-sleep-on-one’s-stomach? This whole sleeping on your side situation is getting old. I know I am supposed to cherish this special time and all, and I am quite appreciative of the miracle of life and all the perspective it brings, but free range sleeping was so nice back when it was an option.

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Case of the Mondays? These Videos Helped Cure My Blues

In these fractious and trying times for the country, in which even chicken sandwiches have become symbols for cultural and political division, I have turned to the simple things to keep my spirits up. The videos have put a grin on my face over the last week:

Buster Bluth on Cartography
Seeing evidence that perhaps the funniest show of the last decade, Arrested Development, is going to be back as a movie has made me nostalgic for some of the show’s funniest moments. The cult favorite featured absurdity like this, from one of the best characters, Buster:

Aaron Paul on The Price Is Right
There is nothing more life-affirming and Americuh-affirming than Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul’s way-back-when appearance as a contestant on The Price Is Right. Bob Barker was still hosting and Paul seems like he’s on meth as he makes it all the way to the showcase showdown.

Steve Carrell and Ellen Play Charades
I used a clip from Ellen’s show in my All Things Considered piece a few weeks ago, and in scanning her YouTube channel stumbled upon this gem. It had me cracking up uncontrollably at my desk.

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What Nora Ephron Said in 1996 About Having It All

Here’s what the late Nora Ephron said in her 1996 commencement address at Wellesley College. Amazing how everything old is new again. (Emphasis mine)

This is the season when a clutch of successful women—who have it all — give speeches to women like you and say, to be perfectly honest, you can’t have it all. Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.”

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The Ultimate Supercut of All The Recycled Aaron Sorkin Dialogue

This is amazing. In advance of the premiere of his new show, someone took the time to cut together all the dialogue writer Aaron Sorkin recycles from his television shows and films. Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed called it “heartbreaking.” I am just really impressed by the supercut. Gathering all these video snippets must have taken forever.

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The Week I Saw Edward Sharpe, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Brian McKnight

It’s been an eclectic week of live shows, that’s for sure. NPR Music’s Bob Boilen, who hosts All Songs Considered, has been wanting to go to a show together, and last week we settled on Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The gazillion-piece band puts on a generous and fun live show, and they have some sentimental significance for me since photog Channing set his 2010 slideshow of our wedding photos to the Edward Sharpe hit, “Home.”

That show was Tuesday night. The band delivered. And that was probably the “hippest” show I saw all week.

Heard it From a Friend Who Heard it From a Friend

B y Friday we were at a performance by 1980s monster ballad makers REO Speedwagon and Styx, thanks to our boss Joel. Joel’s little bro Todd Sucherman is the drummer for Styx and we’ve been wanting to go see him for as long as we’ve known that bit of trivia. It finally happened, and it was magical out there in the Virginia ampitheatre, in perfect 70 degree weather, eight rows back from the stage.

After the show we went backstage and met the members of Styx (including the few remaining original members) and Drummer Todd cracked us up with his almost total recall of Arrested Development scenes. That guy is rad.

Four: Repeat Steps One Through Three

Capped the week off with 1990s R&B great Brian McKnight. This was basically an impulse move. Sometime at a bar last week, I was telling friend Ian how much I loved 90s R&B, especially artists like Brian McKnight. Ian thought he had heard McKnight would be in DC and sure enough, the crooner was set to perform at the historic Howard Theatre on Sunday night. We bought tickets right then and there. Some photos:

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The Latest Trailer for Aaron Sorkin’s New Show, Newsroom

The latest trailer for Aaron Sorkin’s new show, ostensibly about the decline of the American press, is out and making the rounds:

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Six Observations After Six Blustery Hours in New York City

About a year ago, when I ran into my DC-based writer pal Robert Draper while he was on his way to interview someone for his book, I told him that whenever the book came out and he got invited to go on The Daily Show, I wanted to go along.

The book — Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives — came out this Tuesday, and Draper actually remembered my request. He invited me to join his brother John, girlfriend Laura and longtime pal Colin in attending the live taping at the small Daily Show studio (CAMERAS VERBOTEN!) on the Upper West side. (I tried to hear any distinctive laughter from our little group, but it’s all pretty muddled.)

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Robert Draper
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook


So I went up around lunch and came home after the show. But because it’s Nueva York, there was plenty of randomness to observe and experience.
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