This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.
My Media Stats from 2021
- 406 podcast episodes totaling over 457 hours
- 58 movies totaling over 112 hours
- 21 books
- 18 television seasons
About a Roy
Kendall is the show’s dark prince, a would-be mogul puffed up with false bravado. He is often ridiculous in his self-seriousness, especially when he’s trying to dominate his indomitable father. Strong was perfectly cast: a background player who had spent his life aspiring, and often maneuvering, to fill the shoes of his acting gods. “Kendall desperately wants it to be his turn,” Strong said. Last year, he won an Emmy Award for the role.
Strong, who is now forty-two, has the hangdog face of someone who wasn’t destined for stardom. But his mild appearance belies a relentless, sometimes preening intensity. He speaks with a slow, deliberate cadence, especially when talking about acting, which he does with a monk-like solemnity. “To me, the stakes are life and death,” he told me, about playing Kendall. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.” He does not find the character funny, which is probably why he’s so funny in the role.
For most of my life, the shopping mall was the symbol of the capitalist experiment. Everything about it celebrated consumerism and the illusion of plenty, and fueled the suburbanite’s need for a real-world simulacrum—one that could replace scary diverse downtowns with “safe,” artificial Disneyland-ish approximations that substituted commerce for community. The choices in a mall were simultaneously endless and extremely constrained: You could try on every shoe in the world. Eat six different kinds of foods at the food court. Watch one of five movies. Maybe there was a fountain or a carousel. The actual activities you could do were limited, but there were so many products to choose from that it felt—to lame teenage me, certainly, covered in zits and longing to belong—like a place where rehearsals of glamour and independence and self-fashioning were possible (even if I never quite managed to access them myself). And yet, they’re dying. A 2017 report by Credit Suisse predicted that 1 in 4 malls would close by 2022. That was before the pandemic. How are these castles to consumerism crumbling while the system they so ably represented lives on?
If It’s Brown…
This communication between the stomach, brain and colon, called the gastrocolic reflex, is a normal response to eating. But coffee seems to have an outsize effect; one study published in 1998 found that eight ounces of coffee stimulated colonic contractions similar to those induced by a 1,000-calorie meal. Researchers have hypothesized that coffee’s gut-brain messaging is likely caused by one or more of coffee’s many chemicals, and perhaps mediated by some of our own hormones that play important roles in the digestive process, like gastrin or cholecystokinin — both of which can spike after coffee drinking.
- Scan of the Month
- On “Succession,” Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke
- What America’s Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close
- Comment thread on Zillow’s Failure
- 10 lessons in productivity and brainstorming from The Beatles
- More than you want to know about gift cards
- Mozilla: Privacy Not Included
Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.
Thanks for reading. Have a great month,