January 20, 2017

“Joy doesn't betray but sustains activism.”

Modern Adventuress

20 JANUARY 2017

Hello letter friends,

We’re taking it easy today. I hope you’re finding something to bring you comfort and inspiration. I’m skipping an essay today, but let’s peruse some links, recommendations and other assorted sundries.


"I think that what one of the jobs of political leaders going forward is, is to tell a better story about what binds us together as a people. And America is unique in having to stitch together all these disparate elements — we’re not one race, we’re not one tribe, folks didn’t all arrive here at the same time. What holds us together is an idea, and it’s a story about who we are and what’s important to us. And I want to make sure that we continue that.” President Obama on what books mean to him.

"If Torrance is toxic masculinity come undone, Jackie is female steeliness stitching itself back together. Jackie may not be an outright horror film, but it embodies the ethos of horror in ways that reminds viewers why it remains such a captivating genre.” Angelica Jade Bastién on the gore and glory of Jackie.

How designers engineer luck into video games.

The most beautifully designed passports.

The Brutalist coloring book.

Elliott Kalan on the charm of the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence from Star Wars.

I am duly ashamed I’m getting my fringe music recommendations from the NYT of all places, but this is in fact how I found out about M. Lamar, who creates music in a “gothic-devil-worshiping-free-black-man-blues tradition.” I’ve been listening this week and it’s pretty amazing.

Last week I linked a piece about billy barr, the hermit who has been collecting weather data for forty years on his own initiative—The Atlantic did a full profile on him.

"Single parenting is not uniquely challenging, it’s differently challenging, filled in equal measure with longing and contentment.” This WaPo op-ed is virtually identical to my experience and it was a nice thing to encounter.

"Empathy is at the margins of stuff.” This article ended up being far more than I anticipated when I first clicked on it. On Chicago’s Depression Dog.


This week I don’t have one particular item to recommend, but a handful of films that I thought were worth taking in for one reason or another: Sunset Song, Lady Snowblood and Hidden Figures. There's probably an interesting theme to trace among the three of them.


"I don’t write as neatly as my mother did. Over the past few years especially, my handwriting has grown sloppy, rushed, scattered. My letters get spaced out in my hurry to get to the next ones. My thoughts come out not in an orderly line but in a messy jumble, like upending a wastebasket to sort through the trash for something mistakenly cast aside. As much as I like my writing, sometimes, the triggered memories of my mother’s handwriting stings. I wish my writing were as nice as hers. I wish I could write neatly, beautifully, all the time."

This week’s essay flashback is to on handwriting.

Action Squad

So far we’ve raised $120 dollars collectively for Donors Choose projects. There are five projects still active and accepting contributions. If you are so inclined, please take a look and see if you can chip in on one or more.


Just wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who back me on Patreon. I deeply appreciate everyone who pledges their support this way. It does my heart good to know my creative work can be at least somewhat sustainable. I’m running late with getting my recent $5/month supporters their notes, but I plan on catching up soon. If you value what I do here and are able to contribute, that would be very lovely.

That’s all for today. Thank you for reading.

Keep going.



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Today’s subject line quote from Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark:

“Joy doesn't betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection.”