minute thoughts 3.17.19

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Thoughts while having a dramatic photoshoot with a carton of McDonald’s fries at 1 am in a poorly-lit kitchen

1. Great read of the week: how a recipe goes viral. It’s so interesting that the homebody economy has actually created such a sense of community (re: Girls’ Night In) around staying in and cooking at home (also interesting: the very intentional creation of viral food).

2. Brit + Co released a slideshow of best new snacks for March and why don’t all blogs do this. I am so excited. Häagen-Dazs Stout Chocolate Pretzel Crunch ice cream? Passionfruit water? Peach cobbler ice cream? Chocolate espresso almond butter? Omg. Also, Hippeas are pretty good for a “healthy” snack (they’ll never replace actual chips for me, but the lightness is nice). And I’ll always have a soft spot for Black Forest Gummy Bears, because my uncle swore they were the best and used to keep giant Costco packs of them in his apartment. He would feed them to us whenever we were over at his house, and we’d stay up late and play Crash Bandicoot on PS3 and watch Mission Impossible (the latter which gave me nightmares). So I have weird, random childhood memories attached to that specific brand of gummy bear.

3. I’ve loved The New York Times’ Modern Love column for a while, but their Tiny Love Stories are my new favorite thing. They’re just a handful of billions of love stories out there in the universe, and each one is so special and precious. It makes me smile.

4. I was trying to articulate to a guy friend of mine why I don’t like when men give me compliments, even when they’re nice compliments, and I realized that it’s because even if the guy isn’t actually trying to pick me up, the compliment isn’t actually for me. The guy always tends to just wait around for your reaction, like they’re expecting to be congratulated for being such a generous guy, like you’re supposed to be extremely flattered. It kind of reiterates the idea that women are only valuable when appreciated by a man; it feels like being an object for consumption, and it’s gross and uncomfortable. But one time I was waiting late at night on the Union Square 4/5 platform, and this random guy comes up to me and goes, “Yo, those boots are fire,” and simply walked away. And I glowed for the entire train ride back to Brooklyn. That’s how you compliment someone. It’s to make them feel good, not you.

5. One of the greatest things about 2018 being the year of Asian representation is that Asian actors are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Michelle Yeoh? Icon. How much do I love Lana Condor? Endlessly. Also really digging Cosmopolitan’s new dynamic content.

6. I read this op-ed from The Guardian a couple of days ago, titled “Capitalism is destroying the Earth. We need a new human right for future generations.” It was extremely depressing, naturally. But the author makes a great point—he posits that everyone is entitled to an equal share of natural wealth, which contradicts the current model of capitalism, which sells the earth’s resources to whoever can pay top dollar. But to follow the money to its origins reveals some pretty horrifying revelations about entitlement, including the question of reparations (if any) for rights stolen from slave laborers. But whenever I think about capitalism, I always go back to this article, “I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People.” I think about this article at least weekly, but the fundamental tenets of capitalism allow us—even encourage us—to ignore the needs of others in favor of our own needs. And until that fundamental mindset changes, capitalism will only continue to make the lives of the 99% miserable.

7. Okay. Baking is one of my passions, and I’m not going to lie, I’m a little upset that it’s a Silicon Valley bro pastime now, mostly because I pride myself on having very little in common with them. Don’t get me wrong, I will still reluctantly try recipes from The Perfect Loaf; I think I just hate the concept of it. I’ve thought a lot about this recently, and I think one reason millennials are perpetually dissatisfied is the obsessive need to optimize everything, even our hobbies. And the appeal of baking to Silicon Valley bros is, of course, mastery. Which is fine. But when you compare that frame of reference to men as “experts” to that of women as “natural homemakers” or “lifestyle bloggers,” it’s really quite pretentious. And annoyingly reductive.

8. I love continuity, and one of the things that I look forward to every year is Molly Yeh’s Valentine’s Day Almond Cake. She’s made it every year for the past nine years (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018), and I love seeing how her decorating skills/photography have improved over the time—it inspires me to keep blogging, even when I feel like I’m not writing anything of consequence. But it’s a window into my psyche and my life at the time, and it allows me to keep track of my progress, which is a deeply personal thing to me.

9. Honestly, I’m not too mad at these fast food French fry power rankings. They got McDonald’s and Five Guys right; but I think it’s unfair to compare curly fries to regular fries—curly fries are always objectively better, but sometimes you also just want plain fries. It depends on your fry mood. Some of these I’ve never tried (or even heard of...what is a Rally?), and my only real complaint is that Shake Shack should be higher in taste; they are delicious. But for me, my personal test for French fries is whether or not they can be eaten without a condiment, and McDonald’s and Five Guys are clearly winners in this regard. Awaiting my sister’s comments on this, because I know she has lots of French fry opinions.

10. I feel like this is the pinnacle of pop culture, not because I like The Nanny (I’ve actually never watched an episode), but because I love the idea of applying an academic lens to pop culture. I could go on about this for years, but what a lot of people don’t consider or aren’t aware of when they look at pop culture is that it’s not an isolated peak; it’s one small wave in an ongoing sine curve. Pop culture and counterculture are very easily explained by history and psychology, which is fascinating and pretty much what I examine on a daily basis as a strategist in advertising. But it also makes me think of another part of pop culture—pop music, which I thought of in particular because of Carly Rae Jepson, who a surprising number of my friends frequently extol as one of the best pop artists. But I just find it interesting that people look down on pop music and that it’s considered a lesser genre. It may not be your personal taste, but I think it’s a mistake to dismiss it simply because it’s in the Top 40. Of course there is some element of it being formulaic (e.g. the “Millennial Whoop,” or Bo Burnham’s “Repeat Stuff”), but as a whole it’s really difficult to create things that millions of people love and that have lasting staying power (I dare you to ask me how many clients I’ve heard say they wanted to “make something go viral”). If it were easy, anyone could do it. The lecture I attended at this year’s A Night of Philosophy and Ideas actually discussed this exact thing: what makes a song “good.” The Switched On Pop podcast effectively breaks down the musical theory of “Call Me Maybe,” which is, honestly, brilliant.

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