This week was a hot mess on all fronts: the government shutdown, internet lists regurgitating 2018 back to us, and I’m home for the holidays (which is a lot). Highlights: Cardi B was V Cardi B, H.E.R. wins COLORS, Julia Bullock may be the key to popularizing opera, Rachel McAdams is a forever badass, naked mole-rats are vicious, sometimes we eat beaver butt juice, Susan Potter will live forever, everyone seems a little confused about Bill and Hillary, and RBG got a clean bill of health.
Who knows what Cardi B is ever about to do?!?! No one. All we know is that she is going to stick her tongue out, make a sound no one has heard before, and probably talk about her vagina. Sometimes all of this happens simultaneously, sometimes she leaves her vagina out. But you get the point.
This video is Cardi B on steroids, which she kinda always seems to be on.
I’m completely obsessed with COLORS’ channel on YouTube. It is one of the best places to find new artists on the internet, and is highly curated without feeling overbearing and impersonal.
H.E.R. has been around for a little while, but came into herself this year and started getting widespread attention, earning her 5 Grammy nominations, including best new artist.
3. Vanity Fair: History Is in the Making at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Julia Bullock is my favorite soprano. She is the musician I go furthest out of my way to see. I have followed her career for years. I have seen her perform for the past three seasons.
Bullock is the 2018-2019 MetLiveArtist in residence, and has been performing programs that engage with the museum’s collection and history throughout the Met’s various locations. I was fortunate enough to see her perform A Dream Deferred: Langston Hughes in Song earlier this month at the Met Museum’s fifth avenue location in New York. It was a quiet, rainy afternoon filled with readings and different musical interpretations of Hughes’ poems: some were in song, and others were purely instrumental.
In many ways, Bullock is being crowned queen of diversity in opera. She is young, a woman of color, and brings a searing criticality to all of her performances, especially when it comes to canonized works. Her programs are exceptionally smart, often pairing traditional song cycles with classical renditions of songs written or popularized by singers such as Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone amongst others. The programs drip with politics and her morals, but are never didactic. They are conversations, not statements.
One of the reasons Bullock can successfully hold these conversations is because of her voice — warm, seductive and unwavering — and her “ability to inject each note she sings with a sense of grace and urgency.” Bullock’s musicality is so profound she can make anything sound beautiful.
In her seminal book, On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry writes “[the] willingness continually to revise one’s own location in order to place oneself in the path of beauty is the basic impulse underlying education.” The success of Bullock lies in how she makes you instantly fall in love with whatever she is performing, and by extension her. From then on, there is the constant need be in the path of her beauty, and with it, any conversation she engenders.
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I have always been a fan of Rachel McAdams. I find her choice in projects and characters constantly fascinating and evolving, and she almost always gives underrated performances. She is one of those celebrities that has kinda never had a big scandal and often falls off the radar, but this week that was not the case.
McAdams posed for the cover of Girls. Girls. Girls. magazine and this photo is ALL over the internet. I don’t know how many articles have been written about it. Needless to say, this photo just cements her as a forever badass.
5. DCist: After Bloodbath, The National Zoo’s Naked Mole-Rats Finally Choose Their Queen
Nature documentaries are consistently my favorite genre of movie/TV show to watch. Can’t fall asleep? Listen to David Attenborough describe capybaras. Need some excitement? You can cut the tension of an iguana being chased by snakes with a knife. Feeling heartbroken? Attenborough also narrated the beginning of Adele’s video. David Attenborough will always show up in your time of need.
Despite what you might have learned from Kim Possible, naked mole-rats can be ruthless and bloodthirsty creatures. Throughout the past few months, there has been a battle taking place at the National Zoo over who would be the colony’s queen. Like bees “one queen reigns supreme over everybody else, and challengers must fight and kill her for their own shot at rulership. Only the queen is allowed to reproduce, and her subjects are assigned roles as she sees fit.” The only way to tell the which mole-rat is the queen is by which one gives birth. On Monday, one animal ascended to the throne by giving birth to three pups.
6. Vice: A History of Flavoring Food With Beaver Butt Juice
Well isn’t that title catchy! Eating animal butt juice. When you consider that historically we have also rubbed whale fat on ourselves to smell good this isn’t all that surprising. But, technically, we are not consuming beaver butt juice. Castoreum is basically “beaver-made herbal essences” made from “castor sacs [that] are right next to the anal glands,” and is very expensive and increasingly rare in food. Eating beaver herbal essences might seem strange, but “humans have a long history of consuming castoreum. Since antiquity, it’s been hailed as a powerful medicine, a treatment for everything from epilepsy to constipation to spider bites.”
We are eating weird stuff now — like Tide PODs (don’t do this) — and will eat more weird stuff in the future.
7. National Geographic: Susan Potter knew in exquisite and grisly detail what was going to happen to her body after death.
A couple of months ago my sister frantically called me and asked me if she should donate her brain to science. More specifically she wanted to know that in the case of her death I could follow a specific set of guidelines to make sure her brain was procured within 24 hours. “Ummmm… sure?” She has not formally donated her brain to science yet; the call was more of a thought experiment.
I recalled this conversation to a few of my friends in medical school that were okay with the idea of my sister donating her brain, but said she shouldn’t donate her body because they have seen how bodies are treated after death. Before Susan Potter died, she knew everything about what would happen to her body. “I want to see the meat locker,” she told Victor M. Spitzer, PhD, who is overseeing the Visible Human Project, where he will “resurrect and reconfigure Potter’s body as a kind of digital avatar that can talk to medical students and help them understand how, in life, she was put together” before finalizing her donation. Essentially, Spitzer and his assistants will “slice male and female cadavers millimeter thin and photograph each section, so the images could be assembled into a digitized compendium of human anatomy.”
9. BuzzFeed: We’re Only Just Beginning To Realize How We’ll Remember Bill And Hillary Clinton
A fixture in American politics for over two decades, the Clintons are a complex, divisive couple. People of voting age when Clinton was president often reminisce about the economy of the 1990s, while younger generations are critical of the Defense of Marriage Act and tough-on-crime policies that decimated black communities. Bill Clinton was president, but Hillary was an active first lady. It is fairly clear that she will not run for president again, so “with the Clintons, we’re just moving into those more complicated and lasting questions of legacy — theirs together and alone, and whose will prevail over the other’s.”
For as long as I have known who Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, I have been convinced that if she ever dies it will be at the bench with a gavel in her hand. But part of me thinks that will never happen.
This week it was announced that RBG had surgery to remove two pulmonary nodules, and for now has been given the all clear by doctors. But with RBG’s history of cancer (colon and pancreatic) and age of 85, having two nodules may be a cause of concern. Here is to RBG’s speedy recovery!
*All images taken from reference articles*
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