This Week in Links: January 12-19

Our themes this week are conspiracies, pop stars, and (surprise) animals.

Some of you may remember me discussing at some point or another a bit of stress I may have undergone when first arriving in Thailand on account of all the conspiracy-theory talk circulating amongst my friends. And Lupe Fiasco. “Nine-eleven, Building Seven, did they really pull it?!Planes were dowsing the planet with toxic aluminum and barium on the daily, Princess Di was assassinated, and we didn’t land on the moon. It just really had me feeling like this. (Okay, sorry Emilie, I promise not to start using gifs to illustrate everything, that is truly your realm.)

Of course I’m exaggerating, but it’s funny now to look back on because I do find the whole business a bit fascinating. Though have zero desire to spend any more time blogging about it. Or… about those conspiracies, anyway.

Because the fascination doesn’t stop there, people. Everything we hold near and dear in pop culture, it would seem, is potentially involved in some sort of twisted scheme. I first decided to do some investigating after looking for the full Watch the Throne album on YouTube because I was just dying, for whatever reason, to hear Jay say, “Do you know who I am, Clarice?” in “Murder to Excellence.” (Coincidentally this was the morning after Jodie Foster delivered her allegedly powerful Golden Globes speech, of which I was oblivious at this point.) Couldn’t find the full album; instead found the show they did in London for the Watch the Throne tour (in which they didn’t actually perform “Murder to Excellence,” but who’s counting?). Which brings me to how I started thinking about celebrity conspiracies: in the comments there were all kinds of Illuminati references (including one simply stating, “illuminati muppets,” which hit me hard, because the only thing I hate being called more than a sheep[le] is a muppet. But it was unclear to whom the comment was really directed so I was able to let it slide). And I realized it wasn’t the first time I’d seen the Illuminati mentioned in connection to some of our most beloved superstars, and so decided to find out more.

Now, I’ve read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons so I like to think I know as much about the Illuminati as the next guy– that is to say, almost nothing. However, a quick, “what does jay-z have to do with the illuminati?” search yielded many results. I liked this one from Slate a lot, and with a title like, “Is Lady Gaga a Satanist Illuminati Slave?” who could blame me? But the graphic for this Gawker article was too good to pass up:

i mean, if nothing else this is definitely making me want to be a part of the illuminati. shoot... is that the intention? are they in my head already?

i mean, if nothing else this is definitely making me want to be a part of the illuminati. shoot… is that the intention? are they in my head already?

http://gawker.com/5886988/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-illuminati-the-conspiracy-theory-that-connects-jay+z-and-queen-elizabeth

It offers two comprehensive “guides” (“The Believer’s Guide” and “The Skeptic’s Guide,” both informative and, in good Gawker-style, hilarious), and gets you kind of hoping that Blue Ivy Carter really is in charge of the world, because an infant occupying the captain’s chair is about the only acceptable explanation for things being so messed up.

Perhaps you recall the 15 Insane Fan Theories… list from Buzzfeed I posted on my first installment of This Week in LinksAladdin‘s set in the future, Tarantino has created a similar but alternate universe, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off all takes place in Cameron’s head? Well Emilie’s directed me to a character-oriented list in the same vein:

literary characters conspiracy flavorwire

it’s like… 95% homosexuality (honestly i’m surprised bert and ernie and tinky-winky didn’t make the list…) but still worth a read, as that’s an entirely hyperbolic figure.

http://www.flavorwire.com/362916/a-few-conspiracy-theories-about-classic-literary-characters

And for old times’ sake, here are links to two of my favorite conspiracy theories from back in the day: Hollywood begins mass brainwashing campaign to get people ready for the next bioengineered virus release (via NaturalNews.com) and THE MOON: A Propaganda Hoax (via The Mad Revisionist). (The latter isn’t claiming that we didn’t go to the moon– it posits instead that our dear little satellite doesn’t even exist. Though in a world of limitless possibilities…)

On the topic of commentary in virtual forums, here’s that update I know you’ve all been longing for of any stirrings we created with out Lil Wayne reference in the Tupac Deposition video:

tupac deposition comments

esfelon makes a compelling argument, i’m just still trying to figure out what an ‘intelegentan’ is.

And my friend Kyle sent me this gem on the basis that he ‘knew I liked reading comments.’ Am I that transparent?? But yeah. Good call, Kyle.

awesome, feminist-insensitive comments on the 'bic for her' pen available on amazon.com.

awesome, feminist-insensitive comments on the ‘bic for her’ pen available on amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/BIC-Cristal-1-0mm-Black-MSLP16-Blk/product-reviews/B004F9QBE6/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

I’ll do a little soul-baring right now (if Jodie can do it so can I!) and admit that 25 is a weird age to be newly single… since returning home from Thailand I’ve attended two weddings (one of which was my younger cousin’s) and borne witness to countless engagements and marriages thanks to the voyeuristic magic of Facebook (sorry, I don’t mean to sound disparaging of your bliss… heartfelt congratulations to all you litte lovebirds!). However, the old adage that “misery loves company” has rung true, and in Kathy’s and my case the silver lining has been that it would seem that nothing brings old friends together like simultaneous breakups. During her stay we spent countless contemplative hours going through the full spectrum of feeling like of course we’d end up happy to being fatalistically certain we’d end up alone (the phrase ‘cats eating my face’ got thrown around a bit) at least twice a day week, as well as watching Downton Abbey wondering where our respective Cousin Matthews were. She also hooked me up with these bits of literature on the subject of love in our weird and trying ‘modern’ age. They present a bit of a spectrum themselves.

item 1: a nytimes article in which men are DEFINITELY the bad guys. arg! men! chauvinism! glass ceiling! hook-up culture!

item 1: a nytimes article in which men are DEFINITELY the bad guys. arg! men! chauvinism! glass ceiling! hook-up culture!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/the-end-of-courtship.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

(My boy “Antoine Vanderbilt” coincidentally also addresses this article in his latest “Dear Antoine” installment, in which ‘Laura from DC’ wonders when is the most appropriate time to put out.)

in this one, from the atlantic, online dating is to blame for millenials’ inability to foster successful relationships– it’s so easy to find someone new ‘we’ don’t put in the time or attention necessary to keep the ones we have. an interesting hypothesis, anyway.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/01/a-million-first-dates/309195/#.UPQ9AcWMYa8.email

finally, a beacon of hope. a relationship succeeds because of undying effort on the part of a real-life prince charming. but is this still giving men too much agency/responsibility?! i’m waiting for the article about the relationship that succeeded because of undying effort on the part of a real-life princess charming.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/on-love-i-was-totally-into-enjoying-the-time/2013/01/10/c01b99ac-56b2-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story.html

Anyway, that was a bit of a divergence from the aforementioned themes, let’s reel it back in with another one about pop stars… Specifically two surprisingly similar individuals: Kurt Cobain and Justin Bieber.

this makes ollie a lot like both of them.

this makes ollie a lot like both of them.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/10-ways-justin-bieber-is-like-kurt-cobain

(As long as we’re talking about commentary, let’s just say there are a handful of Kurt Cobain fans that do not appreciate this article one little bit. But I think lil Biebs is great? Just see for yourself!)

baby, señorita, mon chérie…

And moving onto animals (yayyy!).

more buzzfeed... i can't help it. the way the official takes the dog off the field is the same way i take ollie to my room to crate him. all limbs sticking exactly straight out.

more buzzfeed… i can’t help it. the way the official takes the dog off the field is the same way i take ollie to my room to crate him. all limbs sticking exactly straight out.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tommywes/adorable-dogs-interrupt-professional-soccer-game

because the only thing better than a donkey in a well is a comically large one.

because the only thing better than a donkey in a well is a comically large one.

http://www.petside.com/slideshow/photos-guinness-world-record-animals?Utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=cpc#586104

this is a work-find... looking through the church's website and was struck by this headline, and subsequently by the heartwarming story that accompanied it.

this is a work-find… looking through the church’s website i was struck by this headline, and subsequently by the heartwarming story that accompanied it.

http://www.pilgrimshospices.org/news/woody-the-rocking-horse-is-so-special/

another work-find...

another work-find…

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/asaph/news/realeasteregg2013.php

I mean, it’s no Godbaby but… what is, really?

And, also because I can’t help it, a couple nerdy ones to round out the post and re-express my love of All Things Language.

do words really mean anything

http://hotword.dictionary.com/semiology/

i almost got lost in all the linked articles to this one... this stuff is seriously so intriguing to me.

i almost got lost in all the linked articles to this one… this stuff is seriously so intriguing to me.

http://hotword.dictionary.com/beautiful-sounding/

And… if comparing Justin Bieber to Kurt Cobain is such a sin in the musical world I don’t want to know what kind of offense it will be for him to share “Song of the Day” status with Janis Joplin but… I heard on the radio that yesterday would have been the Queen of Rock’s 70th birthday so I reckon it’d be a greater offense to not give her the last word:

i’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday… to be holdin bobby’s body next to mine.

(Ugh it was so hard not to go with “Mercedes Benz,” but Bobby McGee will always occupy a special place in my heart.)

Two years ago: October 24-25: The Final Leg

This Year in Lists

Already I’m going to deviate from my intended trend of “This Week in Links” by moving to something a bit broader: This Year in Lists. It’s the end of the year, so everyone’s making lists of the best this or the worst that or their favorite whatever. I’m pretty bad at stratifying things, nor do I feel that I’ve been well-versed enough in anything related to pop-culture or world events or really anything to put together anything even close to a very insightful list of that variety.

But I do love lists, so I decided to try a different tack and make a list of the lists I’ve come across that kind of… did the work for me. Here they are, in no particular order: Angela’s List of the Top 12 Lists of 2012.

First up, from Pitchfork.com, two lists I’ve actually made a point of seeking out every year: the Best and Worst album covers of the year. Always entertaining to me. PF’s actually got quite a few music-oriented lists up at the moment, if you head over to their homepage.

pitchfork worst album covershttp://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9013-the-worst-album-covers-of-2012/

pitchfork best album covers
http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9014-the-best-album-covers-of-2012/

Moving onto Daytrotter.com, and sticking with the music theme: Daytrotter’s Top 200 Sessions of the year. Daytrotter’s just a real fun music site that features “seventeen bands and over 60 Daytrotter Session songs” each week. Some bands you’ve likely heard of, some you probably haven’t, but I’ve been impressed with most everything I’ve perused on the site. As stated on their “About” page, “What Daytrotter is attempting to do is to not kid around with you and tell you that we found something that you never knew existed. We are going to contribute to the musical landscape, not just toss it around like a used book or a stolen pick-up line. We’re going to give you something that you truly have never heard. We are not giving you songs from someone you love’s record album, thereby stealing from someone you love. We’re giving you exclusive, re-worked, alternate versions of old songs and unreleased tracks by some of your favorite bands and by a lot of your next favorite bands.

You can buy a membership which allows you to download a certain amount of the music, or just stream for free. They’ve broken up their Top 200 list into a few installments; this one starts at the top and is particularly near and dear to me as it features a track from a local Charlottesville band, with whom my brother has played trumpet on a number of occasions, The Hill and Wood.

daytrotter best sessions 2012http://www.daytrotter.com/#!/concert/best-songs-of-2012/20056400-37383579

Next up: an assortment of lists from AntoineVanderbilt.tumblr.com. I discovered this blog a few months ago when a mutual friend linked to the very poignant and eloquent “More than a Game” post on Facebook. I was so moved and impressed by the writing I continued perusing, and by the time I reached the funny and insightful “Democrapalooza 2012: The Road to the White House” post I was hooked. I think it’s safe to say I’ve kind of creepily become this stranger’s biggest fan, and come to completely defer to his rulings on pop-culture dealings (though I can’t say I wasn’t taken aback by a bit of a Taylor Swift fixation). And… as a result, I’m totally yoinking all four of his Top 25 year-end lists.

Top 25 TV Shows:

this'll be the only time i spoil the #1 results, but i agreed so wholeheartedly with this pick, not to mention spend as much time ogling jon hamm as possible, so the exception needed to be made.

this’ll be the only time i spoil the #1 results, but i agreed so wholeheartedly with this pick, not to mention spend as much time ogling jon hamm as possible, that the exception needed to be made.

http://antoinevanderbilt.tumblr.com/post/37640390874/the-best-tv-shows-of-2012

Top 25 Songs:

antoine vanderbilt top songshttp://antoinevanderbilt.tumblr.com/post/37723025445/top-25

Top 25 Albums:

antoine vanderbilt best albums 2012
http://antoinevanderbilt.tumblr.com/post/37802987742/top-10-albums-of-2012

Top 25 Reads:

lots of books/articles i'm keen to check out here. and this one, which i already have, and which draws relevant parallels between t-swift and the likes of both tupac and dre.

lots of books/articles i’m keen to check out here. and this one, which i already have, which draws relevant parallels between t-swift and the likes of both tupac and dr dre. i didn’t think it was possible either.

http://antoinevanderbilt.tumblr.com/post/37858350150/the-best-words-i-read-in-2012

What would a list about lists be without a nod a Buzzfeed, your one-stop-shop for every internet list about anything ever? A few of my recent favorites:

the 40 cutest things that happened in 2012. be sure to watch the kangaroo video.

the 40 cutest things that happened in 2012. be sure to watch the kangaroo video.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/cutest-things-that-happened-in-2012

50 most wtf animal pics. i just... really like animals, guys.

50 most wtf animal pics. i just… really like animals, guys.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbellassai/50-most-wtf-animal-pics-of-the-year-6z51
(reminds me of that one time in bali…)

in a totally different vein, li wei's best non-photoshopped shots of 2012. really stunning images allegedly done without 'cheating.'

in a totally different vein, li wei’s best non-photoshopped shots of 2012. really stunning images allegedly done without ‘cheating.’

http://www.buzzfeed.com/txblacklabel/li-weis-best-non-photoshopped-shots-of-2012-28m7

Even real news (“real” “news”?) sites aren’t above list-creating, so I’ll wrap up with some items from the Guardian and Time.

the worst ideas of 2012

the worst ideas of 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/the-worst-ideas-of-2012

top 10 underreported stories

top 10 underreported stories

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/12/04/top-10-news-lists/slide/floridas-voting-fiasco/

And if you somehow haven’t had enough of lists yet, Time’s actually got a whole smorgasbord of them. They call it the “Top 10 Everything of 2012.

And… that might be me done for the year, friends. I head to New York City tomorrow morning to ring in 2013 with some old partners in crime and suspect I’ll be a bit indisposed. So here’s wishing you all a most exciting, happy, and safe New Year’s Eve!

One year ago: Christmas in Thailand
Three years ago: Christmas Party Video

This Week in Links: December 16-22

I realize I haven’t provided much background on what it is Ollie (or I) are doing in America, and I guess that’s a post that is probably coming in the future. For the present, I’ll say that my job requires me spending a lot of time on the internet (because, you know, I don’t spend a lot of time on the internet as it is…), and as a result I come across… stuff. Now, I know there are already lots of ways to organize and keep tabs of the “interesting” or “noteworthy” things that tickle one’s online fancy… Pinterest and Reddit and the like. (This week I even learned that the word “curate” is being used to describe the “technique of cobbling together preexisting web content and sharing it with readers/followers/whomever.” I was embarrassed when I read the article because I knew that’s exactly what I’d started an email thread to myself with the intention of doing, but found redemption in the knowledge that I would never have considered myself a curator by doing so.)

However, blogging’s always been my virtual poison of choice and at this point in my life this old dog doesn’t care to learn any new tricks. So, the idea is that I’m going to make a weekly Favorites list of the off-beat and entertaining things I stumble upon (oh yeah, that’s a thing too, isn’t it?) and throw them all in one Saturday archive.

Some of them will be things directly related to my job, like the fact that I now possess the knowledge that members of Build-a-Bear management are referred to not as officers but, in fact, “bears.” (All photos link to their respective site.)


http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=182478&p=irol-govmanage

Or that a UK site called ChurchAds.Net has fought back in the War on Christmas with a controversial “Godbaby” campaign:

this links to a poll, where you can declare “I like the Godbaby poster,” “I dislike the Godbaby poster,” or “I have no strong views either way about the poster.”

http://www.chelmsford.anglican.org/godbaby-poll

Or that earlier this month Benedict XVI became the first Pope to join Twitter. There goes the neighborhood, right?

his first tweet, posted on december 12, reads, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” he went a little crazy, tweeting five whole times that first day, but then took a week-long break before getting back at it.

https://twitter.com/Pontifex

And now that I’m sure I’ve really left you guessing as to what my job entails, I’ll go on to admit that many of my links will be decidedly work-unrelated. Here’s one I discovered when checking my bank statement:

i was reading ‘grapes of wrath’ at the time i saw this one and the irony was not lost on me that a bank– so grossly vilified in the novel– would be displaying the work of dorothea lange– whose work creates a striking visualization of steinbeck’s themes. in any case, lots of nice photos, quotes, and history here.

http://museums.bankofamerica.com/arts/bearing-witness-exhibition/Gallery

The New York Times published a list of the top 25 films of the year with the rationalization that this was a year in which 10 would not suffice. (And I admit, I can’t remember many times in my life where I’d walk into a cinema and admit to wanting to see every movie on the marquee, but it’s happened this year more than once.)

new york time's top 25 films
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/movies/a-o-scotts-25-best-films-of-2012.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

And oh hey Buzzfeed, thanks for providing me with countless smiles and instances of inspiration. This week’s notables:

11 beautiful monochrome literary posters pairing insightful quotes with elegant design. if you're struggling to think of what to get me for christmas, look no further.

11 beautiful monochrome literary posters pairing insightful quotes with elegant design. if you’re struggling to think of what to get me for christmas, look no further.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/these-posters-make-the-perfect-literary-christmas

"15 insane theories about movies and television that will blow your mind." i know the term gets thrown around a lot, but my mind was blown. i found the tarantino one most compelling, but they all got you thinking.

“15 insane theories about movies and television that will blow your mind.” i know the term gets thrown around a lot, but my mind was blown. i found the tarantino one most compelling, but they all get you thinking.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/15-fan-theories-that-will-forever-change-the-way-y

"the 25 funniest autocorrects of 2012." NSFW in every way, including the fact that you will be laughing at the painful awkwardness of each situation in a way that it appropriate for no office environment, no matter how hard you're pressing your scarf to your mouth. (thanks andrew/emilie)

“the 25 funniest autocorrects of 2012.” NSFW in every way, including the fact that you will be laughing at the painful awkwardness of each situation in a way that is appropriate for no office environment, no matter how hard you’re pressing your scarf to your mouth. (thanks andrew/emilie)

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/the-25-funniest-autocorrects-of-2012

Off-beat news story of the week:

this particularly appealed to my former self who studied russian for 2 years and was able to be like, 'yeah, i remember that letter, and we were told it might not always be seen with the two dots above it!' no mention of the cia was ever made, however.

this particularly appealed to my former self who studied russian for 2 years and was able to be like, ‘yeah, i remember that letter, and we were told it might not always be seen with the two dots above it!’ no mention of the cia was ever made in class, however.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/17/cia-officially-denies-that-it-is-trying-to-erase-a-letter-from-the-russian-alphabet/

You might have heard that Obama was named Person of the Year by Time (thanks Kathy), and that article, despite its kind of rose-colored filter, is worth a read for sure. I learned that the MLK quote I have in my Facebook quotes (“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”) also adorns his doormat at the Oval Office, which made me feel pretty cool. However, I thought the glance-back at the 2008 Person of the Year– also Obama– was all the more interesting in that you can see both his achievements and the ways in which we can still hope to change. Plus the graphic was just better.

time person of the year 2008
http://www.time.com/time/person-of-the-year/2008/

And for an even further glance-back, this tongue-in-cheek article in the New Yorker about 1912’s Man of the Year:

the new yorker mitt romney man of the year
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2012/12/time-names-mitt-romney-man-of-the-year-1912.html

And finally, from Matador Network, just a stunning collection of quotes and photos with a “reflection” theme.

quotes and photos for reflection
http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/reflections-46-quotes-and-photos-for-deeper-contemplation

One year ago:  Ricotta/Tomato/Mushroom/Basil and Ricotta Eggplant/Olive/Pesto Pizzas