Soviet Steamed Hams, Coca-Cola Facts, and Succession's Hidden Character
Plus: New Coppola just dropped, Al Gore is punchy, and Ke Huy Quan is re-evaluated.
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The single best thing I saw online this week: Sofia Coppola’s daughter was grounded for a very normal reason, trying to charter a helicopter using her dad’s credit card. Imprisoned in a huge house with an adorable dog and her babysitter’s boyfriend, she decided to make pasta on TikTok:
From the comments: “A perfect short film, we have a third generation of Coppola directors.”
The best podcasts I’ve heard this week
I’ve been using Kevin Systrom’s new AI-powered news app Artifact for a couple weeks, and I like it! Systrom was interviewed by Alex Kantrowitz on Big Technology this week and, among other things, he assuaged my fears that he would sell it to a big company like Facebook… sounds like he is looking back on his time there with some regrets. He also indicates that he’s not crazy about what Instagram has become (me too, Kevin!), and offers some of the most insightful commentary on the state of consumer AI I’ve heard recently.
Do you love podcasts that load your brain up with trivia that you’re going to want to share with everyone you know? I certainly do, which is why I loved (via the Podstack newsletter by Devin Andrade) this episode of Gastropod. It’s about the history of Coca-Cola, which — did you know? — started as a knockoff of a drink beloved by the Pope, which combined red wine and cocaine. This episode covers a lot of ground, including the “real” secret formula to Coke’s success.
There Are No Girls on the Internet has been on hiatus for a few months, but friend of Follow Friday Bridget Todd dropped a surprise into the podcast feed this week: A guest appearance on Stuff Mom Never Told You, where she discusses the growing backlash against influencer parents from their own children. This was also explored recently in an excellent Teen Vogue article, but I love the depth of research that Bridget and Stuff hosts Anney Reese and Samantha McVey brought in to the conversation.
Also in podcasting: HUGE kudos to Maximum Fun on going employee-owned
help i’m (re-)addicted to steamed hams
I’ve previously expressed my affection in this newsletter for Steamed Hams, a segment of the Simpsons episode “22 Short Films About Springfield” that has had a huge second life on the internet. For years now, fans have remixed the scene in all kinds of ways: As a Gorillaz song, inside of Animal Crossing, and in dozens of alternate animation styles, just to name a few. I felt like I had seen them all.
But this week, the YouTube algorithm came to me with an urgent question: You haven’t seen Steamed Hams as a subversive 1960s Soviet animated film, have you? I had to admit that, no, I had not. But now I have:
I might or might not have fallen back down the rabbit hole after watching this. As the top comment on “Steamlyannaya Hamonika” says: “Steamed Hams has transcended being a meme and has become an artistic movement.”
A great video about Succession
Just in time for season 4, my partner and I finally finished Succession Season 3 this week, and I am convinced it’s one of the greatest TV shows ever made. There's much to love in the acting, the dialogue, and of course the music, but here’s a video essay that explores something important I hadn’t consciously registered: The (usually) subjective camerawork. No story spoilers, so you can watch this even if you’re not up to date on the show:
The latest from LightningPod
Here’s what I’ve been producing and editing this week. For more, follow LightningPod on LinkedIn.
On Grit, former Vice President Al Gore joined Joubin Mirzadegan to talk about the progress being made in the fight against the climate crisis, why political will is renewable, his partnership with Bill Clinton, and more. My childhood impression of Gore was that of a dull bureaucrat, shaped almost entirely by SNL (“The lockbox will have three separate locks …”). If that’s how you “remember” him, too, you should take the time to listen to him talk about his climate work here. He’s fired up.
Speaking of fired-up politicians … I briefly reunited with my pal Kara Swisher this week to record her live interview with Rep. Katie Porter, one of the Democrats who will be running for Senate here in California next year. It should be coming soon to the On With Kara Swisher feed. A big chunk of the interview is about the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and I hope the audio captures how gleeful Porter was to have named the Secure Viable Banking Act.
The best thing I’ve read this week
Hot damn, can Walter Chaw write. Last year, the film critic dropped the definitive review of Everything Everywhere All At Once, filtering the story of Evelyn and Waymond through his Chinese-born parents. And now he’s back with an even more personal essay about why it took decades for him to “stop resenting” EEAAO co-star and now Academy Award-winning actor Ke Huy Quan:
The problem with limited, stereotypical representation in films written by, produced, and directed by white men, is there is no commensurately popular corrective in the all of the well of Tinseltown’s century of images. I tried to run from Asian associations. I never dated Asian women. I avoided making Asian friends. It’s harder after all for two to hide than one. And then, as an adult, married with children, I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom again with my wife and, with her help, began to see him, and Quan, differently. I began to see myself differently.
Another film essay I loved this week: Scott Tobias re-evaluates two Errol Morris documentaries: Standard Operating Procedure and The Unknown Known
Palate cleanser: Henry the Roomba Dog
Sound on. Come for the puppy, stay for the owner who cannot keep it together.
Trust me and click these:
This is one of the best uses of AR I’ve seen to date