Good afternoon! At Slate we’re bracing ourselves for a spectacular blizzard that’s making meteorologists rub their hands together with frankly terrifying relish. “Blockbuster blizzard for the ages this weekend,” wrote one. “Crippling impacts.” Who doesn’t love crippling impacts?
Still, to frame this in maximally self-serving terms, those crippling impacts mean that if you’re on the East Coast, you might be looking for some reading matter this weekend. Happy to help! Print these stories out now so you’ll be able to read them even if the storm takes out the power grid and ushers us into an apocalyptic pre-industrial future.
The story that gave me the best window into someone else’s life was by Silas Hansen, on what it’s like to love football as a trans man:
When I sit down at the bar and order a beer and a burger, when I strike up a conversation with one of the other regulars about fantasy football, or whether or not the Panthers are for real, or how great it felt to see the Patriots lose two games in a row, I feel comfortable. I stop, for a little while, questioning the way I look or the way I talk or the way I act.
Mark Joseph Stern wrote about Marco Rubio’s attempt to butch up, and made me feel newly sympathetic toward that craven and oleaginous politician:
Rubio has essentially allowed his rivals to bully him into adopting a persona that is, quite obviously, uncomfortable for him. A well-groomed and soft-spoken man, Rubio is just a little too pretty to pull off the tough guy attitude. I do not mean to suggest that Rubio is gay—I am certain he is not—but rather that his stabs at machismo fall painfully flat.
Katy Waldman made me enjoy something objectively terrible, in this case Sarah Palin’s diction:
Palin—who conjures in her listeners such a state of bewilderment that they grow susceptible, as if hypnotized—is less an orator than a conductor of orchestral music, of enchanted, fevered, perplexing passages that paint moods we’ve never felt and realms we’ve never seen. I am so glad she’s back.
And Bryan Curtis’s history-cum-takedown of the sportswriting cliché “all the right things” revealed the surprising depth behind that hackneyed phrase:
Most sportswriting clichés can be ignored. The ones worth prodding are the phrases that reflect the anxieties of the profession. So it goes here. When a sportswriter records an athlete “saying all the right things,” he is saluting the athlete for lying to him.
Not from Slate
“Solving Pharma’s Shkreli Problem” by Matthew Herper, Forbes magazine
How do drug companies justify their obscene profits? “The drug industry’s dirty little secret is that it is full of Martin Shkrelis, albeit less greedy ones with nicer shoes and more polished manners.” A great analysis of what’s wrong, and how to fix it. —Laura Helmuth, science and health editor
“Enter the Grief Police” by Megan Garber, the Atlantic
I tend to turn my nose up at social media “funerals” for celebrities, but Megan Garber’s smart, sympathetic piece made me second-guess my snobbery. —Ruth Graham, contributor
• Jordan Weissmann recommended “The Strange Life of Q-Tips, the Most Bizarre Thing People Buy,” an exploration of “one of the only, if not the only, major consumer products whose main purpose is precisely the one the manufacturer explicitly warns against.”
• Aisha Harris loved this Oscar season analysis from the website Very Smart Brothas, and Dan Engber pointed to this piece about Hollywood’s recent turn away from computer-generated effects.
• Finally, copy chief Megan Wiegand wants everyone to remember the timely advice offered in this piece: “You are not actually required to lose your goddamn mind just because snow is falling.”
Overheard on Slate Slack
Slack is a chat program we use to inform millennial Slatesters about the Eagles.
aisha.harris: serious question: why do people hate on the eagles?
jack.hamilton: i genuinely dislike their music but a lot of people have more complex reasons
henry.molofsky: cause it’s cool to hate the eagles
the eagles are like the Coldplay of the ’70s
jack.hamilton: back in the ’70s they were seen as total scourges by most big-time rock critics. proof of rock’s betrayal of ’60s ideals, vapid, insipid, totally huge
so hating them is like an illustrious tradition
this is from 1972 and contains the incredible sentence “Another thing that interests me about the Eagles is that I hate them.”
leon.neyfakh: you know what’s crazy? the Eagles’ Greatest Hits, which is the best-selling US album of the 20th century, came out BEFORE “Hotel California.”
What the hell was on it!?!?!?!
henry.molofsky: Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (Remastered)
jack.hamilton: i mean seriously, all those songs are so fucking bad
aisha.harris: i really love “hotel california"
henry.molofsky: i could listen to “Take It To The Limit” given the right setting
that’s coming from someone who loves shitting on the eagles
aisha.harris: i could not name any other song they’ve done, though i just realized i’ve heard “take it easy” 800 bajillion times on classic rock/oldies stations
jack.hamilton: “boys of summer” is a great song but that is solo henley
gabriel.roth: It’s a great chorus, not sure it’s a great song
jack.hamilton: this is a good version of “desperado”
henry.molofsky: i think its a common situation to not know all the eagles songs are by the eagles
they’re so ubiquitous you don’t even notice
sharan.shetty: Do people doubt that the Eagles would be more critically appreciated in the poptimism era? They’re just really good songwriters who make big dumb catchy feel-good music
gabriel.roth: Disagree. They’re like Coldplay or Mumford
The fake-rock sound stops them from registering as pop
sharan.shetty: fair, fair
sharan.shetty: Coldplay comparison is a good one
jack.hamilton: the incredibly long “history of the eagles” doc that’s on netflix is immensely watchable though
dan.kois: i have had that doc recommended to me 100x in the last few days.
aisha.harris: thank you guys, for making me understand why people hate on the eagles. the coldplay comparison makes so much sense to me!
heather.schwedel: i also found this chat about why people hate the eagles useful/informative
leon.neyfakh: maybe this has already been done but if not, could we find someone who really loves the Eagles and have them write about why?
henry.molofsky: my friend michael’s dad
henry.molofsky: great guy
Very Short Q&A
This week’s personal question is addressed to Slate’s words correspondent Katy Waldman (with whom I discuss Serial every week on Slate’s Serial Spoiler Special podcast).
Slate Plus: You made up the week’s best headline, and writing headlines isn’t even your job. What’s your secret?
Katy Waldman: Here is the mortifying story of the week’s best headline. On Tuesday evening, I was surfing Facebook while dipping in and out of #breaking_news [a Slack channel —ed.]. I saw a brilliant status update from a gentleman I had gone on an OkCupid date with two years ago. We are not in touch. I guffawed, copy-pasted the text into Slack, and went out for the evening.
Hours later, I opened my email to find multiple Slack notifications. A warm tsunami of undeserved praise had washed up at my feet. “Katy, you are a national treasure,” one editor had written. Worse, Josh Voorhees had used the headline for his post, and Twitter had embraced it.
I did what any responsible journalist would do and had a panic attack. Then I sent the gentleman a rambling, terror-stricken Facebook message, to which he responded graciously. So, for posterity: The Week’s Best Headline sprang from the brain of writer Michael Beeman. What is my secret? Beeman. Who is the Hot Mess and Dumpster Fire? Me.
I swear, when I asked this question I thought Katy had made up the headline herself. Happy to set the record straight, and thanks for all the page views, Michael Beeman.
And thanks to you for your Slate Plus membership, which makes our work possible. Stay warm and safe, and we’ll see you next week. —Slate Plus editorial director Gabriel Roth