Smart Reads: Butts, Bonnets, and BRING ME MY DRAGONS


  • Butts. Is there anything sillier or more uncomfortable to talk about than butts? New York Magazine’s Maureen O’Connor musters up a helluva lot of courage and curiosity to explore an aspect of modern sexuality that may be approaching, if not mainstream acceptance, than at least a more relaxed attitude among vocal heterosexuals. Her writing is frank and personal and utterly shocking in every way. If, like me, you’re embarrassed about such topics, reading this will be a fantastically visceral experience. I blushed, I squirmed, I absolutely howled with laughter. It’s such an awkward subject, even linking to it makes me fidgety. (Mom? Gramma? Click at your own risk.)
  • Speaking of howling with laughter, Mike Berlin’s recent Standing Ovation column in Backstage is a stop-whatever-you’re-doing must-read. His description of Naomi Watts’ performance in I Heart Huckabees is so good, it’s like watching the movie in literary form. The piece even builds tension around her character’s “raging existential meltdown” just as the film itself does. I steadily became more hysterical as I read it, reliving Watts’ deranged, bonnet-wearing performance. Why hasn’t she done any comedy since?
  • There are some fine Game of Thrones think-pieces and recaps being passed around, and I could painstakingly point out which of these regular writers best capture and enhance watching this electric fourth season. But the article that sticks out in my head is a buzzy, anticipatory piece of praise from Maureen Down of the New York Times. Her connecting HBO’s Game of Thrones to her own physical health is hysterical, and she manages to defend her sudden obsession with the show with a substantiated case for its relevance in modern life. My favorite line – “Ted Cruz and Rand Paul wouldn’t survive a fortnight in King’s Landing” – evokes the kind of TV-watching philosophy we should all adopt; the Golden Age of Television offers opportunities for acutely immersive escapism, but we should probably refrain from taking it at all seriously.
  • Finally, if you have a contemplative hour to spare, the recent episode of Radiolab called “60 Words” is truly worth a listen. You’d think the show’s quirky slice-of-scientific-life format wouldn’t lend itself well to politics, but this report’s thoroughness is so immersive, you actually find yourself questioning the difference between war and piece in the 21st century. Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich, and Buzzfeed’s Gregory Johnsen walk the listener steadily through such massive moral issues, from the emotional moments immediately after September 11 to the political implications of the legal jargon that has dictated and not dictated national security policies since. Great, thought-provoking stuff.

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