The Surveillance Balloon Above Montana, And Other Curiosities [#112]
Reality show news, perplexing advice from New York Magazine, and a low point in US-China relations.
Consider a longtime bucket list item checked off, thanks to my realtor Tiffany and her partner Ruth. For years, I have been wanting to be in the studio audience for the Korea-imported reality game show, The Masked Singer. To sum up, famous contestants who can passably belt out a tune participate in a singing competition behind an elaborate mask and costume. It’s wild.
The judges include Ken Jeong, which makes the whole panel funnier and more ridiculous. The studio audience consistently registers next-level DRAMATIC facial reactions, something I did not want to die without trying. Now I have done it. I have now been in “the pit” for many hours, to watch this crazy competition as it was taped. No, I will not tell you who was unmasked at our taping, you will find out soon enough.
Speaking of reality competitions, Netflix tried to run an actual Squid Games competition in the UK and it was misery for all involved. Who could have predicted that? There is a high altitude surveillance balloon hovering over the United States, originally near a spot we keep ICBMs, but now it’s on the move. Cool cool cool. In other spy news, I don’t think our domestic police agency is doing so hot — not when “Did the FBI Head of Counterintelligence throw the election to Trump” is a top headline.
If you are pretty online, you know NYMag’s The Cut came out with an etiquette feature called “How to text, tip, ghost, host, and generally exist in polite society today.” I read it all. It was fun. The standalone tipping piece is useful. A lot of it was probably designed to perplex or infuriate. So as you can imagine, the response piece (from Today in Tabs) was more enjoyable than the piece itself. Some of it had me cry-laughing:
In books, I’m reading Delia Cai’s debut novel, Central Places, and wish it would have existed for me twenty years ago, as a Chinese-American gal who also faced growing up in the Midwest. More book recs from me are in my book insider newsletter! Sign up if you aren’t already hanging out there...
Werk Werk Werk
Last summer, our production company worked with the Hollywood agency UTA’s audio arm, Clamor, to make a podcast called The State Of: Women, exploring state-by-state differences in policy and how they affect women. I wrote the show and directed the recordings but didn’t think much about it after wrapping. Then, this week we got nominated for an Ambie award from the Podcast Academy. We’ll take it!
Watch and/or Listen
Women Talking, a mesmerizing film that takes place mostly in a hayloft. I know I’m not selling it that well, but damn, what a visceral experience of deep feeling and humanity. See it in the theater if you can.
My Year of Dicks was joked about when it got nominated for an Oscar, because we juveniles just can’t help snickering at the title. But the other night, my partner and I actually watched this animated short and my god, I found it so deeply moving, poignant and funny.
Ezra Klein’s interview with Dan Savage is full of humanity and insight about modern relationships and family. Didn’t plan on this section being sex-themed but here we are. Savage is the sex columnist who is responsible for concepts like “monogamish” and “GGG” and even “santorum,” in the culture (named after pious former PA Senator Rick Santorum).
I love the Substack newsletter, Gossip Time, so much. It reminds me of the early days of blogging when Pink is the New Blog by Trent Vanegas was a daily read for me while I was hunkered over a greasy bag of Wendy’s with a phone in my ear, convincing sources to talk with me within three hours, in order to turn into a news story by the 11pm news.
As it reads, kiss your friends faces more,