AvaTÁR, Celebrity Shamans, and Word Avalanches
Wee olive in a yellow sub, Maureen
Welcome to the first, experimental edition of the new Follow Friday newsletter. In this space vacated by the podcast, I’m going to be sharing the best podcasts, videos, and other things I’ve seen online in the past week.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, but then I called (707)-873-7862 and pressed 3, and now I feel great.
The single best thing I saw online this week: Parody accounts posing as Tesla, Lockheed Martin, Nintendo of America, and more paid $8 to be “verified” on Twitter, making their fake tweets indistinguishable from the real deal. That meant that, for example, an account parodying the pharma giant Eli Lilly and Company could tweet “insulin is free now” and rack up thousands of retweets. The kicker is that the real Eli Lilly had to deny this by pointing people to their stupidly cutesy handle, @LillyPad. Anyway, advertisers are never coming back, this site is toast.
stealing taking inspiration from some of my favorite internetty newsletters in the new format of this newsletter, so please subscribe to all of them:
The best podcasts I’ve heard this week
Michael Hobbes, the co-host of Maintenance Phase and former co-host of You’re Wrong About, is at it again. His new podcast If Books Could Kill, which he’s co-hosting with Peter Shamshiri from 5-4, will cover the dumb and sometimes dangerous things found in “airport bestsllers.” I loved the first episode, about a book I read and completely believed when I was a stupid teenager: Freakonomics.
You know you’ve got a podcast that works when you’re listeners will hit play based on a one-word title, and that’s where I’m at with Helen Zaltzman’s The Allusionist. I learned a lot about an unexpected topic from this week’s episode, “Emergency.” In case you need a little more info than I did, it’s about the many reasons the British Empire painted a colonial conflict in Malaya (now Malaysia) as an “Emergency,” not a war … and why neither side talks about the 12-year Malayan Emergency very much, even though a lot of people who lived through it are still alive.
I’ve been following along with Blank Check for the past few months as Griffin Newman and David Sims have covered the ouevre of Stanley Kubrick, and they have been knocking it out of the park as per usual. This week, I listened to their discussions of Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket, two incredible movies that I revisited this year specifically because of the podcast. If you’re not a Kubrick person, though, just scroll through the Blank Check feed until you find something you know.
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help i’m addicted to this subreddit
Every post on the delightful subreddit /r/WordAvalanches has the same structure: A convoluted setup and a tongue-twisting payoff. That’s because a Word Avalanche is defined as “a highly contrived punny sentence … with an emphasis on the repetition of syllables.” Some examples:
Smith’s robots, who all have a very good vocabulary, ironically seem to challenge the reality of the building blocks of speech.
While enjoying some hors d’oeuvres, my female friend asks me what my favorite lyric from a Beatles song is. Then, she questions whether one of the dishes is simply a miniature pitted Mediterranean fruit inside a golden bread roll. I respond:
"Hello, I.T.? Can you please tell me why my computer is suddenly locked and there is a message demanding 5,000 copies of Atlas Shrugged?"
The Danish National Symphony is a proper orchestra that performs proper classical music for most of the year — but you wouldn’t know that from following them on YouTube, which I do & highly recommend. In regular pop culture-themed concerts, the skilled orchestra elevates already-great music from films like The Good the Bad and the Ugly and The Godfather, often with gorgeous camera work and stagecraft. As a former Avatar skeptic who has recently been “bluepilled,” I lost nine minutes just vibing to their latest video, above. It is, as the Danes say, perfekt.
Speaking of orchestras
I saw Tár this week and WOW, what an incredible movie. I don’t want to say much more because it was such a thrill to go in knowing almost nothing about it, other than what is shown in the trailer above. If you don’t believe me now, you can wait until next year when Cate Blancett wins another Oscar. 5 stárs.
NOW that’s what I call a nut graf!
Princess Martha Louise, the 51-year-old daughter of King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, got engaged in June to Durek Verrett, an American celebrity shaman and the inventor of the Spirit Optimizer — a healing amulet that he sells on his website for $222.
Since their engagement, the Norwegian news media and the public have kept a spotlight on Mr. Verrett, criticizing him for saying he used the amulet to fight the coronavirus, for having suggested that cancer was a choice and for having said that he was a “hybrid species of reptilian.”
The Crown: Norway Edition, anyone?
The best thing I’ve read this week
For both movie fans and independent filmmakers, the rise of streaming platforms like Netflix and Apple TV+ has been a gift — but there’s a but. In his newsletter The Reveal, Scott Tobias writes about “The Silo Effect,” which has turned some films that could’ve been cultural Moments into just another piece of #content on the internet.
P.S. Boys State is also a 5-star movie and I wish I could buy a Blu-Ray of it, in case anyone from Apple is reading.
This excellent ad might make you cry
Via the Garbage Day Discord — apparently this same firm does an ad like this every year? This is Pixar levels of emotional manipulation, and I am here for it.
Palette cleanser: Here is a tortoise opening a science lab
… And the rest
“Quiet quitting” Twitter; The best meme about Twitter’s mad king, in a week full of them; RIP Kevin Conroy, my first Batman; speaking of death: gravestone recipes; speaking of things that are cooked: election deniers; Rhode Island was the original Mastodon; a hilarious TikTok about the best scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; and speaking of returns: photo booths are BACK, baby!