For your earholes

This wasn’t initially what I was going to write about this week.1 But when you realize that all of the tabs you have open point to a bunch of similar content, bingo-bango you have a theme. And said theme is: Stuff You Can Listen To!2

1) I would be a terrible writer if I didn’t start with a promotional piece. Last week, I got to talk about women’s anger and politics at The Suburban Women Problem. It was a hoot to do3 and I hope it gives even more women the push they need to run for office. And I wish all these women lived closer to me so that we could go out for coffee.

2) Speaking of anger, I don’t know that any woman4 can listen to this episode of NPR’s excellent (if harrowing) On Our Watch series and not find herself in an incandescent rage. The officers5 at the heart of these two cases clearly never thought they would be caught — or, in the off-chance they were caught, that they would never ever be held accountable. Which should make any thinking person wonder: how often is this happening without anyone knowing about it?

3) As a unicorn chaser: The Sporkful’s6 most recent episode is about food, yes, but the answers guest hosts Drew Magary7 and Dave Roth provide are a solid foundation for how to negotiate any point of tension in a long-term relationship. FWIW: I cannot with the rubbing oil on your legs but relationships are all about compromise.

4) Speaking of food, one of my new small pleasures is tasting all of the Japanese Kit-Kats I can find. On the very same day that a good friend dropped off a flavor she found at an H-Mart in New Jersey, this episode of The Indicator dropped. The first segment is about how an anthropologist8 asks different questions — and how that approach is also useful for economists.

5) Get comfortable because this will take a minute to set-up.

Back in 1997 (or 1998), my husband and I went to the U.K for a much belated9 honeymoon. British Air had a program back then where you could rent a car; then be given a list of B&Bs all over the island. All you had to do was call an inn the night before to let them know you were coming. The rooms were part of the car rental price.

It was a great scheme for two young Americans with no kids and all kinds of time. We had no real itinerary — other than to eventually get to Edinburgh from London — and no set agenda. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, frankly, and just might once these pesky children are out of the house.

Anyway.

One afternoon, after a leisurely drive10 to Cirencester, which isn’t pronounced like you’d think it is, we had some time to kill before dinner. I asked the lady at the desk if it was okay if we went for a walk in the gorgeous and v. British fields and hills behind the place.

“Why wouldn’t it be,” she said, while staring at me as if I was completely barking mad. “Are you not allowed to walk in the countryside in America?”

“Yes and no,” I said. “Public land is open but private land, well. It’s a good way to get shot.”

She continued the staring.11 Eventually, she said, “just make sure you close any gates you open so the cows don’t wander. Dinner’s at six.”

So, reader, that’s what we did. It was a wonderful wander over hill and dale. We made it back in time for dinner and a pint around the fire after. It was a good day.

I told you all of that to tell you this: I could have used this episode of 99% Invisible 20-some years ago. Would have saved me one awkward conversation, anyway, even though awkward conversations really are the backbone of a trip done well.

Have you enjoyed a podcast lately? Tell me about it.

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1

I was going to write about Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain and the related HBO doc but discovered that I can’t form any thoughts about the content other than PRK is great and the Sacklers (and others) are miserable examples of humanity for whom justice can’t come soon enough (even though it won’t be as thorough as I might like). That and some incoherent screaming is all of I have on the subject right now.

2

I did not say that it was a clever theme.

3

with some light catharsis

4

and more than a few men

5

I know quite a few good cops, mind. But until they make themselves part of the system holding their fellow officers accountable, their goodness is irrelevant.

6

The pasta is really good, btw. Big fan.

7

He also does a take down of the holiday Williams-Sonoma catalog every year that brings comfort and joy.

8

Coincidentally, the friend who dropped off the Kit-Kats is also an anthropologist.

9

we married in 1994 so …

10

The only real problem with driving on the “wrong” side was when we’d hit a roundabout. Going clockwise took a lot of brainpower and was ALWAYS terrifying.

11

This is the same innkeeper who was convinced it wasn’t possible to drive to Edinburgh because it was “so far away” from Cirencester (all of six hours, maybe), which gives you a sense of American scale versus British scale.