Can you imagine?

In the meantime, their friendship grew through one of Sondheim’s favorite mediums, games. Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson hosted holiday parties that included charades, in which Streep participated. Mia Farrow brought Sondheim to one.

“I play a different kind of charades than Meryl does,” he said. “I play running charades, in which there are two teams in relay. She likes to play the kind of charades where her team makes up all the things and our team acts them out and they giggle at what assholes we are as we’re doing it.”

Streep replied, “His version is too complicated to do when you’re drunk.”

One more for the blogs among you

Sometime over the summer I will celebrate my favorite blogs during Blog Week, as reviewed and selected by me, but this weekend I have a visitor* and another opera (same opera) and a brunch day to attend, and betwixt all that—well, these naps aren't gonna take themselves.

From Tim Bray, Still Blogging in 2017:

I wonder what the Web will be like when we’re a couple more generations in? I’m pretty sure that as long as it remains easy to fill a little bit of the great namespace with your words and pictures, people will.

The great danger is that the Web’s future is mall-like: No space really pubic, no storefronts but national brands’, no visuals composed by amateurs, nothing that’s on offer just for its own sake, and for love.

Here’s a visual composed by an amateur.

God bless the amateurs.

via (blog)

*This is my friend Tucc, not a euphemism for a mouse and/or gentleman caller

For a good time, read

Kaitlyn Tiffany is my favorite writer at The Verge, because she's sharp, funny, and charming and appreciates many random, unrelated things with enthusiasm. (!! An important habit / skill.) Also because she loves blogs. As who doesn't? Blogs are the best. Here she is with an appreciation of—what else—Martha Stewart as "the perfect blogger":

Martha isn’t stuck in the past. She loves Facebook Live (see this “FBL” art she made out of blueberries), and she has one of the wittiest and strangest Twitter accounts you’re likely to find. But she realizes and respects the long-forgotten secret about blogging — that blogs are as much about the act as they are about the content, and that consistency and longevity are the only qualities in blogging worth respecting. Anyone can write about the first peacock they buy. Only a world-class blogger will write about every peacock they purchase and every thing that happens to each one. Anyone can share a personal story in hopes of aiding someone with a menial task. Only a truly exceptional blogger will do that every day for over 3,000 days and show no signs of stopping. Martha, possibly, has done her research and knows that blogging consistently is good for you. In any case, she made the promise of being there, and she has followed up.

p.s. yay blogs!

See also: the Jake Gyllenhaal newsletter, the memes of Trump's first 100 days, 10 things you can learn from a terrible twitter account, using Mike Huckabee as the medium's bête noire ("Here’s a tweet that doesn’t have a hashtag. You can see how it’s better."), my winter happy place is Sarah Jessica Parker's weird, gross Instagram, I have owned a Fitbit for one day


When things fall apart, or the meaning of life

From Heather Kirn Lanier at Vela Mag, "SuperBabies Don't Cry":

We want a SuperRace because we want to eradicate absolutely everything that terrifies us. We want SuperHumans so we can transcend that thing we are: human. But a SuperHuman would lack that crack in everything through which, as Leonard Cohen sang, the light gets in. There’s something in our suffering that we need. We’ve known this for millennia, and we make it clear in the stories we keep telling. The Buddha gave up his palace and meditated beneath a tree for a week. Jesus of Nazareth said yes to a cross. Our ache is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, says the copper lady with the torch. When we walk into our pain, we sometimes find ourselves on the other side, freed of what we once thought we needed to feel free.

From an interview with Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone, circa 2007:

Faith doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have a category. It’s oblique. So it’s unspeakable. We degrade faith by talking about religion.

Terms of use

From Racked, some thoughts on the new brand marketing:

Then, just last week, I was riding the subway and I noticed an ad for a company called Capsule that described itself thusly: “A pharmacy where you’re more likely to hear ‘I love you’ than ‘next please.’” Now, like I said, I’m a sucker for a good “I love you.” But why on earth would I ever want my pharmacist to say it?

Did we used to talk about brands so much? Back in the day, before social media made everything chummy and gross? I don't think so. I don't remember feeling that whatever was missing in my life could or would need to be fulfilled by developing a relationship with my toilet paper, and now I'm supposed to care enough to friend it on Facebook. In return for friendship it might give me coupons, I guess. No sale.

So what gives? Why do companies think we’re into this stuff? It reminded me of something I read in consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow’s book, Decoding the New Consumer Mind: According to Yarrow, besides supplying us with the goods we need, shopping also fulfills an important social need. Since humans first began gathering, we’ve gone to the marketplace to connect with others. But now that many of us are shopping online — alone, right from our couch — we’re missing out on that sense of human connection. Which is why, perhaps, brands have found some success appealing to our hearts.

My heart says barf. I can't even shop at physical Aveda stores anymore, because they always want to give me a neck massage and serve me tea. I imagine someone Higher Up thought this offer would serve as a meaningful bonding gesture between sales professional and "guest," but it vaults right over five or six of my personal spatial boundary issues. I'm able to chitchat when necessary during a random transactional experience with a stranger, but the last time I went in there, after the third employee tried foisting the whole contextually inappropriate neck massage/tea number on me, I finally had to say "I really just want to buy something and leave." It actually made me long for the post office, where, at the very least, the staff remains surly and I am unwelcome.

Turn around, bright eyes

I haven't posted anything here all month and I feel okay about it. I haven't had anything in the world to talk about to anybody, and I've been okay with that, too. Not that I've been hiding out—in sooth, I have not!—only I seem to have entered a passive state in keeping with the weather (changeable) and the times (uncertain). I haven't felt sunny or fun-filled or even brooding and reflective, I'm just lying low and waiting for the winds to change. You know the feeling. It's both helpful and useless. I read the latest New Yorker this afternoon and when I got to this line in Gary Shteyngart's piece about watches—"Can you hold your own world together while the greater world falls apart?"—I thought well, there it is. That's what's been happening this month.

p.s. The whole thing is a gem: please read it.

+ ditto Adam Gopnik's review of a new slate of books on "is liberalism dead?", which ends like this:

An easily overlooked aspect of Voltaire’s thought was the priority it gave, especially in his later life, to practice. Watchmaking, vegetable growing, star charting: the great Enlightenment thinker turned decisively away from abstraction as he aged. The argument of “Candide” is neither that the world gets better nor that it’s all for naught; it’s that happiness is where you find it, and you find it first by making it yourself. The famous injunction to “cultivate our garden” means just that: make something happen, often with your hands. It remains, as it was meant to, a reproach to all ham-fisted intellects and deskbound brooders. Getting out to make good things happen beats sitting down and thinking big things up. The wind blows every which way in the world, and Voltaire’s last word to the windblown remains the right one. There are a lot of babies yet to comfort, and gardens still to grow.

i.e., no*

* it's through a post on the same at that I learned about Betteridge's law of headlines, a principle stating that the answer to Adam Gopnik's question was virtually guaranteed to be no. This is why I still read blogs.

go watch this—it's the best, most delightful and rewarding thing you can do for yourself right now, right here, today: 

Also: Steve Martin is my body icon:

No one asks “What happened?!” when they see Steve Martin. I don’t care if they’re 10 or 100, they just say “Oh, it’s Steve Martin. I know it’s Steve Martin because that’s how Steve Martin has looked the entire time I’ve been alive.”


Reading lately

From Megan Kirby at Vol. 1 Brooklyn, on her lasting love of Chicagoland:

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to live in the suburbs, but part of me wishes I did. A friend of mine skipped town for Palatine a few years back, and she described it as, “When you’re playing a video game and you switch over to easy mode.” I think of Yorktown as the inevitable place we all end up after we’re ready to own a house and grow hydrangeas and never, ever lug a bag of cat litter on public transit again.

I posted that on Facebook earlier this week and immediately regretted it. People hate it so much when you love the suburbs! It makes them so happy to tell you how much they don't. (Of course "I'll feel better if I dump all over that thing you just said you loved" is a strange reaction to a random opinion under any circumstances, but it only serves to make me love that thing more, and vengefully.) But I really do love the suburbs. I really do love small towns and I also really do love big cities. If living in all three simultaneously were an option, I'd be all over it in two shakes. Also maybe on a farm. Or a beach. Or a prairie. All places to live / love if you want to! Those who hate it are welcome never to visit.

“The eye always craves what it doesn’t see”

What sort of artist catches your attention? The artists that I’m interested in are the ones that make a picture of the times they live in. If you can listen to that inner voice, you’ll be fine. If you make your work from love, you’ll be fine. Just don’t try to fit in to the prevalent movement. If everybody’s doing video around you, then you should probably start painting. The eye always craves what it doesn’t see.
— Marilyn Minter @ NYT

The art of losing

There’s precious little solace for this, and zero redress; we will lose everything we love in the end. But why should that matter so much? By definition, we do not live in the end: we live all along the way. The smitten lovers who marvel every day at the miracle of having met each other are right; it is finding that is astonishing. You meet a stranger passing through your town and know within days you will marry her. You lose your job at fifty-five and shock yourself by finding a new calling ten years later. You have a thought and find the words. You face a crisis and find your courage.
— Kathryn Schulz @ The New Yorker

Read & be readers

Books are uniquely suited to helping us change our relationship to the rhythms and habits of daily life in this world of endless connectivity. We can’t interrupt books; we can only interrupt ourselves while reading them. They are the expression of an individual or a group of individuals, not of a hive mind or collective consciousness. They speak to us, thoughtfully, one at a time. They demand our attention. And they demand that we briefly put aside our own beliefs and prejudices and listen to someone else’s. You can rant against a book, scribble in the margin or even chuck it out the window. Still, you won’t change the words on the page.
— Will Schwalbe @ WSJ

Of course you could say the same about any fixed property—I can't stop E.T. from going home, or bring Gary back on thirtysomething (come back, Gary, come back, but not in a monkey's paw kind of way!)—although I like the point, and in particular I like a point that reinforces what I already believe to be true. I am, after all, an American™.