Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you are able to get off the internet and enjoy a rarer, more visceral stupor among family and friends. If you can’t—if the internet’s churning conflicts and blurted anxieties today feel like refugehere are a few things to cook, a few sad things to read, and a few things to help keep it all down.#

New York City, November 25, 2014

weather review sky 112514★★ Two dense flocks of little dark birds plunged past the window, against the gray. The sun was a white unround blotch, the warmth was ebbing, the light dull. Wind rattled in the withered drab oak leaves still on the branches. The afternoon was short, though by nightfall the clouds had separated into individual forms, pale with the blended indeterminate color of reflected city light. The supposedly brewing storm was only theoretical, the converging forces not visibly converging. The ice cream truck was back at the corner. Later, the sound of chanting carried on the night air. Clouds had returned, holding in the sound of the choppers, now hovering, now coming low and turning uptown. The ground was soft, the grass colorless in the flashing lights, where the marchers streamed down the slope by Riverside Drive and up toward the elevated expressway. The smell of road flares drifted along the cross street.

Uber Forever

Numbers are boring, except when they’re not, like when Uber, a five-year-old company that has accumulated over a billion-and-a-half dollars in investment capital and is worth eighteen billion dollars, stands to raise another billion and double in value from six months ago, to between thirty-five and forty billion dollars. This, Bloomberg helpfully points out, puts Uber at “about 1.5 times the capitalization of microblogging service Twitter Inc. and at about the same size as Salesforce.com Inc., Delta Airlines Inc. and Kraft Foods Group Inc.”

Though both Uber and Delta are in the people-moving business—Delta being the world’s busiest airline, with over a hundred and twenty million passengers last year—it would seem to make more sense to put Uber in the context of cars: Bloomberg also notes that Hertz, the largest rental car company in the U.S., has a market capitalization of $11.3 billion, while the entire U.S. taxi business generates some eleven billion dollars a year.

After Normal

babboLast February, Zelda was born in the middle of a snow storm. Even though I had a C-section and Zelda was born a little early, we were happily shipped home just thirty six hours later. Mom (that’s me now, it turns out) was doing great and Zelda was a trooper.

In hindsight, I might have chosen to hang about in the hospital as long as my insurance would cover—which I think was about five days—but, in the haze and the happiness of a healthy birth, when the doctor says, “You’re doing great, up and walking all over the place! Would you be happier at home?” you don’t consider the nurses who pop in every hour to ask you if you want water or food, or to re-swaddle your baby because you have no idea how to do that yet. You don’t think about the fact that you push a button every time the baby cries because OF COURSE you don’t know what she wants; you don’t think about the fact that when she is feeding at your breast it’s very helpful to have a nurse peer over and say, “Yes, that’s right,” or, “No, honey, that’s your elbow she is sucking on.” You only think of returning home to some semblance of normalcy. No one tells you that normal is over; it’s gone, poof.

The Last Comment Section

Mark Slutsky’s Sad YouTube project, which preserves moving comments found under song videos, is consistently powerful. It’s one of the rare internet media experiments that transcends gimmick to become art, which is why the continued attention it’s getting is gratifying but not necessarily surprising—you don’t feel like you’re done with it after seeing it once.

It has a subtle effect on how you read the internet, not so much rehabilitating YouTube comments as adding texture to your ideas about what people want from their internets. Unlike performing emotion on social media, mindful of potential feedback and optics and all that, leaving your story in an anonymous YouTube comment section seems to suppose no exterior result at all. It is sharing for sharing’s sake.

Many of the comments Slutsky collects are about memories evoked by a certain song: I was listening to this when; this reminds me of the time. Popular music, with personal and historical associations, is a great vector for memory. It gives the project the quality of an hidden oral history.

But there’s something more utilitarian and need-based about the comment confessional process, too, which brings me to one of the strangest comment sections on the internet: the one under this video.

Saturday Night's Children: Tina Fey (2000-2006)

tina_fey_2After three and a half years and over 120 SNL cast member profiles, it’s time to end this column the way it began—by highlighting one of my favorite women to ever call SNL home. She’s best known for her time on SNL and 30 Rock, but for America’s many young women who consider themselves awkward, frumpy comedy nerds, Tina Fey’s impact and inspiration as a trailblazing creator extends far beyond her TV and movie credits.

Born in 1970, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey grew up in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia. She developed an early interest in comedy staying up late on Saturdays to watch episodes of SNL and SCTV, and during her middle and high school years, Fey—an honor student and self-described “supernerd”—was in the drama club, tennis team, singing groups, and the school newspaper, where she served as a co-editor and anonymously wrote a recurring satirical column. Speaking in an interview with The Believer, Fey explained her high school yearbook prediction that she’d be “very, very fat” in ten years: “I was just trying to cover my bases. If I did turn out to be a pudgy loser, I’d be able to say, ‘See, I told you.'”

With a comedy career in mind, Fey graduated from the University of Virginia in 1992 with a degree in drama and moved to Chicago, where she worked a day job at the Evanston YMCA while taking improv classes at night at The Second City under legendary teacher Del Close. Through the esteemed Chicago theatre she also first met talents like Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Adam McKay, and Scott Adsit, and she eventually earned a spot on the SC touring company. Fey’s quick wit and improv skills soon caught the attention of SNL’s Lorne Michaels, and Fey was officially hired as a writer in 1997. While SC alum Adam McKay was co-head writer at the time (alongside Tim Herlihy), Fey would take over the job herself just two years later for SNL’s landmark 25th season, making her the first female head writer in the show’s history.

“The trouble with being a window washer is that the better you do your job, the less you have to show for it: It’s painful to do a job where only your mistakes are visible.”#

A Poem by Jerome Murphy

Code Red



I did not shoot a boy for his flaming red hair.
Not a witness was there who would tell you I did.

The agitators are ready to amplify everything
except for the fear I had for my life,


how in one second when his hands
blurred before me, a bright scarlet sear

leapt 

from his scalp and nearly caught on my own.
How in that moment, I was all dry leaf.


How my eye sockets singed when the spark got near.
I am a man who has always been fair.

Looking Back At The Screen: The First Annual Appalachian Queer Film Festival

unnamedThe way the Appalachian region sits in the popular imagination, it’s the last place anyone would expect to find a film festival celebrating queer identity. But in the same month that West Virginia—the only entirely Appalachian state—legalized same-sex marriage, it also welcomed the first annual Appalachian Queer Film Festival, boasting a diverse lineup of features and documentaries. It included mainstream films like Skeleton Twins, starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader and To Be Takei, the Sundance documentary about actor George Takei. The festival featured lesser-known films such as Kumu Hina, a documentary about a transgender woman who teaches and preserves Hawai’i’s indigenous culture, and Goodbye Gauley Mountain, a protest against the ravaging practice of mountain top removal by filmmaker Beth Stephens and performance artist Annie Sprinkle.

I spoke with festival founders Tim Ward and Jon Matthews on the eve of their opening night. Over the telephone, we talked about growing up queer in Appalachia, bringing independent film to West Virginia, and showcasing the contemporary Mountain State.

Young Ejecta, "Your Planet"

A spaced-out production in reverse: denouement, climax, rise, introduction.