November 29

Gift Giving: Despair, Hope, and a Really Lovely Loaf of Bread

"The sense of despair that hangs over the process of choosing a present stems from our background awareness of how hard it will be ever successfully to identify a material object out in the world that could properly quench a sincere need in another adult." How to Choose A Good Present, from The School of Life. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:56 PM - 49 comments

nature finds a way

World's first living robots can now reproduce, scientists say. Bongard said they found that the xenobots, which were initially sphere-shaped and made from around 3,000 cells, could replicate. But it happened rarely and only in specific circumstances. The xenobots used "kinetic replication" -- a process that is known to occur at the molecular level but has never been observed before at the scale of whole cells or organisms.
posted by fight or flight at 1:02 PM - 53 comments

Do we change or is--have things been--are we in a sort of infinite loop?

Move over Joe Rogan: here's Tim Heidecker's "The Joe Rogan Experience"
Also, it's 12 hours long.
(Or, is it?) [more inside]
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:01 PM - 38 comments

It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out.

Radio Indígena is an Oxnard radio station whose target audience is central California farm workers. It broadcasts news, commentary, and live DJs for 40 hours a week, currently in Spanish and at least nine Mexican languages (Mixtec, Zapotec, and Purépecha). Evenings and weekends feature curated, diverse music playlists. You can listen to it in a web browser, using a phone app, and at 94.1 MHz FM in the Central Valley. Their COVID reporting, in particular, has received some some English language press.
posted by eotvos at 8:59 AM - 5 comments

'90s Dad Thrillers: a List

Notes toward a theory of the Dad Thriller by Max Read Substack, via Samantha Irby's Substack.
posted by ellieBOA at 8:49 AM - 55 comments

“A bold and brassy trumpet melody?”

"He smacked me the other way and my head naturally followed suit. Right, left, right, left. I might have been a front row spectator at Wimbledon if it weren’t for the balloons of blue and purple swelling across my immaculately sculpted cheekbones. They always go for the cheekbones first, don’t they?" "A Recurring Theme (Song)" by Mei Davis (published this year) is a light-hearted James Bond parody in which secret agent Achilles Lee has an accessory he can't get rid of.
posted by brainwane at 7:28 AM - 2 comments

the magic is already there

A lettuce dog, a laundry cow, and other domestic surrealism by the artist Helga Stentzel. [more inside]
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:15 AM - 8 comments

November 28

Virgil Abloh, Barrier-Breaking Designer, Is Dead at 41

Virgil Abloh, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Off-White and artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, has died from cancer at the age of 41 [more inside]
posted by elvissa at 3:20 PM - 27 comments

Meet the Liverbirds

With the recent release of Peter Jackson's documentary The Beatles: Get Back, it's a good time to look at one of the other Liverpool bands of the British Invasion era, one of the few all-female Merseybeat groups (and probably the only one that's been the subject of a musical): The Liverbirds, subject of a (fairly) recent short documentary of their own. [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:43 PM - 13 comments


The WHO has declared a new covid-19 variant of concern 'omicron'. Countries around the world are imposing stricter measures and travel bans even as the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa on Sunday urged countries to follow the science rather than imposing flight bans. Omicron contains many mutations that would appear to weaken the effectiveness of existing vaccines but many uncertainties exist as scientists and vaccine manufacturers scramble to learn more. The discovery of the new variant in South Africa raises concerns about global vaccine inequity.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:29 PM - 225 comments

Sylvia Weinstock, the ‘da Vinci of Wedding Cakes,’ Dies at 91

Sylvia Weinstock, who took the art of baking to new heights with her 10-foot-tall wedding cakes and their garlands of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of hand-painted sugar flowers, died on Nov. 22 at her home in Manhattan. She was 91. non-paywall. [more inside]
posted by Toddles at 12:29 PM - 9 comments

Divorced, beheaded, live!

SIX is a musical about Henry VIII's wives in a singing contest. Sometimes disparaged as "The British Hamilton", the production's iconic costumes and energetic sounds have nevertheless captured the imaginations of a slew of talented animators. We set the stage with Ex-Wives by oliviamarlyce. [more inside]
posted by Lorc at 11:17 AM - 21 comments


Many slot machines on Native American reservations actually, and somewhat surreptitiously, play Bingo! Why? - What are "Class II" machines? - Some of its consequences. - Is it fair? [more inside]
posted by JHarris at 9:18 AM - 4 comments

Those who exist, have existed, or will exist in the vicinity of Omelas

"That child is going to feel the same either way. We might as well do our part to get the tourist industry back on its knees....You want to go to Mendocino. You think no one ever suffered in Mendocino?" John Holbo's "The Ones Who Take The Train To Omelas" is a parody of a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin (and of another scifi classic), and comes with mocked-up old-school travel posters plus the essay "Thought-Experiments and Trains of Thought". (Via Crooked Timber.) Jed Hartman (disclaimer: a pal) has compiled a list of links to short stories responding to the Le Guin story, including stories by N. K. Jemisin and P.H. Lee.
posted by brainwane at 7:26 AM - 26 comments

The past is a foreign country

The Technological Parentheses of Our Lives - "There are a lot of potential parentheses to speculate about, from the end of fossil fuels or eating meat as a society, to the end of screens due to augmented reality..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 7:11 AM - 50 comments

Losing My Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream

Stephen Sondheim left us with many things from his many musicals, but surely disco is not something you'd think of. But no! Losing My Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream [YouTube playlist, 45m] is a mashup/reimagining of the Sondheim oeuvre into something entirely unexpected, joyous, and fun. Playbill breaks it all down for you, track by track. I think the only shows not represented are The Frogs and Road Show. Putting It Together podcast interviews the creators. [40m] Purchase and streaming links! [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 5:20 AM - 12 comments

November 27

Perchance to Dream

Sleep - so essential for body and mind, and yet sometimes so elusive. Can’t sleep after too much revenge bedtime procrastination? No need to stress. Grab your favorite teddy bear, and snuggle in. [more inside]
posted by ReginaHart at 8:02 PM - 21 comments

Film shows McD's trained new staff in proper use of Vulcan death pinch

[via the timesink r/ObscureMedia]
In 1969, MickeyDee's hired Pat Paulsen to present their new-staff orientation film. How this happened, we may never know. It's a combo of dated, prescient, and timeless. It's sardonic, dry, and self-deprecating, yet sincere in its effort. It's both entertaining and informative. It's approximately seventeen minutes long, yet it feels like it's no more than fifteen or sixteen minutes. [Whoop, that means my break's over g2g]
posted by not_on_display at 2:56 PM - 39 comments


Forbes - ‘Arcane’ Is Still Putting Up Review Scores Like Netflix Has Never Seen Before. Arcane has a 9.4 rating on IMDB, which not only makes it Netflix’s top original series by a wide margin, but puts it in the same lifetime tier of shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Band of Brothers, Chernobyl and beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. [more inside]
posted by xdvesper at 2:34 PM - 93 comments

The men who want to be king

Travellers to tiny islands in Vanuatu claim to fulfil a local belief that a mysterious figure from afar will one day bring prosperity. What are they hoping for? (SLGuardian)
posted by ShooBoo at 8:09 AM - 11 comments

loneliness, crows, prophecy, lost things, and courage

What if there's an ache you've been denying, and you've gone solitary to see to your own quiet needs, and someone tries to pull you back into the world? “The End of the World in Five Dates” by Claire Humphrey (previously) is a short fantasy story told in vignettes (text and audio available): “Happy Rapture,” she said, and kissed my cheek, although we had never met before. "Tell the Crows I’m Home" by Laurel Beckley, published this year and available in audio as well, is an atmospheric fantasy story: Nicole finds them all, save for the crows, who do not appear to be bound to the rules of the farm, and come and go as they please. Like Nicole, a crow is never lost. She used to have quite a few human visitors, back when the world was only half broken.
posted by brainwane at 7:25 AM - 2 comments

The millennian do not ever want to be taught anything.

Ridley Scott Blames Millennials for ‘The Last Duel’ Box Office Failure (archive). A small snorter of generational discourse for your weekend.
posted by snerson at 4:59 AM - 183 comments

Wise Guys/Gold!/Bounce/Road Show

Stephen Sondheim was struggling with his newest show. Working with John Weidman to adapt another story from American History, the show went through three (or four) iterations across a decade before failing to open on Broadway. These separate and distinct shows all telling the same story began with the workshop production of Wise Guys in 1999. Here are Nathan Lane and Victor Garber (and a lot of tape hiss), directed by Sam Mendes in a "cast recording" of the show. [YouTube playlist, CastAlbums brings you a listing of this recording with actual song titles.] [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 2:32 AM - 9 comments

November 26

"Your Average Pool Player" seems much better than average

Watch Rollie Williams — who you may recognize from the Climate Town series — attempt to re-create incredible shots played in professional pool championships, but with the skill level of an ostensibly average player. Here is a ridiculous jump shot and a swerve shot to get you started. [more inside]
posted by nickheer at 10:46 PM - 11 comments

at the world you've left / and the things you know

Stephen Sondheim, Broadway composer, artist and lyricist, has died aged 91.
posted by fight or flight at 2:11 PM - 156 comments

Keep on building that chicken

Carol Off of CBC's "As It Happens" interviews Jim Puckett , the mayor of Fitzgerald, Georgia, who stands by a "giant topiary chicken that got him ousted as mayor." Roadside America: World's Largest Chicken Under Construction, and an earlier NPR interview with Puckett [both interviews are available as audio or an edited transcript]. Fitzgerald is home to a population of wild chickens. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:33 PM - 25 comments

Let’s talk about Chess

The 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship has started in Dubai. Magnus Carlsen defends his title against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi in a 14 game match between November 26th- December 16th. You can watch the games daily on a number of chess focused Twitch channels linked below. Games start at 4:30pm in Dubai/ 12:30pm London / 7:30am New York. Games typically last 6 hours. [more inside]
posted by interogative mood at 8:11 AM - 54 comments

"I can help." "Maybe he expects that."

"Everybody knows about Thrull. Thrull like legend among us folk—biggest, greenest, meanest, nastiest, and dirtiest of all—with one big difference: legends false, Thrull true." "Big Thrull and the Askin’ Man" by Max Gladstone is a short fantasy story, told as a tall tale or fairy tale, in which a straightforward host learns to respond to manipulative questions from a seemingly weak guest.
posted by brainwane at 7:21 AM - 7 comments

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

It's So Easy This is a 1987 commercial for the Toyota Tercel. [more inside]
posted by box at 6:45 AM - 59 comments

November 25

Angus Taylor's Gas-Light Recovery

Sick of worrying about Joe Manchin's coal-fired lock on the US Senate? Come to Australia! We have a Federal Government made entirely of fossil fuel industry toadies. Angus Taylor, our Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, has long been a particularly toady (Sky News YouTube, 11m34s) toadie. Polly Hemming and Richard Denniss dissect his latest talk-back disinformation blast (YouTube, 29m02s) in the newest episode of the Australia Institute's Spin Bin (previously on MeFi).
posted by flabdablet at 10:01 PM - 24 comments

The idea that is "America"

Today, on Thanksgiving, also known as the National Day of Mourning, we learn that Ian Fishback, Army officer and whistleblower against detainee abuse, dies at 42. His letter to Senator McCain. Remembered by a former student. I do not think anyone will nominate him for a medal, but I do. RIP Major Fishback.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:33 AM - 44 comments

"At work I am composed and civil and do not break anything"

Two short speculative stories about coping and related struggles. "Dragons" by Teresa Milbrodt (published this year) has a hard-to-quit video game: “I've thought about getting glasses,” the dragon said as we sat on rocks with mugs in our hands and the tin of butter cookies on another rock between us. The dragon even had cloth napkins, which hid the gaping wound in my abdomen. “How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War” by R.B. Lemberg (content note for self-harm): "I am luckier than most. Numbers come easy to me, and I look grave and presentable in my heavy jackets that are not armor." The Lemberg story is also available in audio.
posted by brainwane at 7:20 AM - 4 comments

Gonna Get a Fly Girl, Get Some Spank and Drive Off in a Def OJ

The Oral History of the OJ Car Service
posted by chavenet at 6:58 AM - 4 comments

November 24

Gray wolf, OR93, dead in California

A gray wolf whose “epic” travels captured headlines and imaginations earlier this year was killed in California after being struck by a vehicle this month Rest in peace, brother. Let's hope you're not the last to make the journey.
posted by Man with Lantern at 6:24 PM - 24 comments

Giving you back the good times...

Two Tribes was an apparently upbeat celebration of global nuclear war by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Appearing on the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome, it reached #1 in 7 countries, staying there for 9 weeks in the UK. The Godley and Creme directed video [alternative] featured caricatures of Ronald Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko having a fight. There were a billionty mixes, remixes and 12 inch versions; weekly performances on Top of the Pops were often unpredictable. In the same year, the movie Threads [clip][full length on vimeo] was released. In 2012, Trevor Horn, Stephen Lipson, Lol Créme, and Ash Soan played a gentle version. Previously: [2007][2009][2012]
posted by Wordshore at 1:29 PM - 62 comments

Albatross vs. Albatross

Climate change causing albatross divorce according to a new study, as reported by Manish Pandey for BBC News. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch at 1:24 PM - 7 comments

a fluegelhorn is probably not a fluegelhorn, and vice versa

Hey, why not read up on brass history with Greg, on Greg's Brass History Page.
posted by cortex at 10:09 AM - 15 comments

"My best friend is a dolphin and sometimes it’s weird."

"In your first conversations with them, you’ll probably want to refer to all you’ve learned in the past year’s intensive study of dolphin history, culture, and ritual. Maybe you want to put them at ease, or maybe you kind of want to show off. I’m telling you not to do that, because you know nothing." The science fiction short story "Share Your Flavor" by Jenifer K. Leigh has a fun friendship between a human and a dolphin who commiserate about their relationship issues. [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 7:18 AM - 6 comments

Something May Be Wrong With Literary Fiction Itself

To be clear: I’m not saying MFAs made all novels terrible or that all contemporary writing sucks. A writer isn’t deterministically destined to produce defensive prose if they go through the MFA process. Not all writers who’ve sat in a workshop are “workshop writers.” And some academic experiences are amazing, vital and electric, lighting up students’ minds inside like a moveable feast. But those are instances within a collective system. A system that has, in its totality, changed both how prose is written, who gets published, and who the audience for fiction is. from How the MFA swallowed literature by Erik Hoel
posted by chavenet at 6:21 AM - 164 comments

An excellent piano lesson

Master teacher, advanced student. There's just tremendous trust and respect. It made me realize that yelling at people is showing a lack of trust that they're listening. (Cue up people explaining that's not the only thing it means.) I'm not saying you can always trust that people are listening. [more inside]
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 12:06 AM - 16 comments

November 23

A personal Dewey Decimal system

Johnny•Decimal helps organize your (digital) life. Thousands of emails. Hundreds of files. File structures created on a whim and six layers deep. Duplicated content, lost content. We thought search would save us from this nightmare, but we were wrong. It's simple in practice, but takes some thought to build the right structure for yourself. And that's the beauty of it - the structure is what best suits you and how you naturally group things.
posted by jpeacock at 2:56 PM - 89 comments

the friends you make online

These online relationships are often just as meaningful and rich and strange as my “real-life” friendships, but they’re more difficult to define. Maybe we’re still a little embarrassed? Or maybe we just need to stop waiting for definitions and do the work ourselves. I care too much about my online friends to just coast along in relationship limbo. This is an ode to digital friendships, a taxonomy of connections and disconnections.
posted by sciatrix at 1:53 PM - 32 comments

Gorgeous, Profound, Borderless In Possibility

Hayao Miyazaki Prepares to Cast One Last Spell “'When you meet something that is very strange that you haven’t met before, instead of being scared of it, try to connect with it,' Miyazaki tells me." Ligaya Mishan's interview with the genius animator for the New York Times is the first in an English-language publication since 2014.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:15 PM - 32 comments

Curly, obviously.

You probably like some types of fries more than others. The 3D modeling of various fry shapes illuminates why this might be.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:59 PM - 61 comments

i'm gonna stick around and help until my haunting time is over

This webcomic made it okay to be sad online. Then its artist vanished. The author of ‘Pictures for Sad Children’ went AWOL after a 2014 Kickstarter drama. In an exclusive interview, she explains why she had to unplug from the internet.
posted by meowzilla at 10:27 AM - 48 comments

Giants of the 20th Century

Michael Stipe is Present (A November 2021 interview with David Peisner of The Bitter Southerner)
posted by box at 6:23 AM - 25 comments

"Sixteen Earth years. Not quite nine, Martian."

Wanna read action-y scifi about girls solving problems by hacking electronics? (Previously.) "Power to the People" by Kiera Lesley is shorter: “Sorry, print took longer than I expected.” Sarah said, fishing in her pockets for her offerings, all in white because that was the only colour filament she had. But "A Thousand Ways" by Beth McCabe takes place on Mars: Riley began moving the rows of panels from angled to vertical, a kluge Liam's team had fixed up to keep the sticky dust from accumulating during a storm. While she worked, her gaze travelled over the landscape of her childhood, littered with the debris of the Consortium's failures.
posted by brainwane at 5:44 AM - 3 comments

Santa is gay (at least in Norway)

In 2022 it's been fifty years since you can love who you want in Norway.
When Harry met Santa -- a Christmas commercial from the Norwegian Post Office. (You don't need to speak Norwegian to get the gist.)
posted by MartinWisse at 3:41 AM - 26 comments

November 22

Stealing everything the traffic will allow!

Our Favorite Things is an 80 minute collection of videos from the experimental music group Negativland.
posted by eotvos at 8:36 PM - 22 comments

Merry Switchmas!

"God is pursuing some sort of grand celestial design to replace all of humanity with Vanessa Hudgens clones one by one." (no paywall link) Yes, friends, The Princess Switch 3 has arrived, and it is fully as bonkers as the first two outings. The only holiday discourse you need this season is Princess Switch discourse and theories about the Netflix Christmas Movie Universe. And yes, there is an RPG.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:17 PM - 36 comments

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