ICYMI by Michael Epstein

The Verge makes their case for casting Idris Elba the next James Bond with a hypothetical 007 title sequence.

Binge-Watching Killed The Syndication Star: Law and Order at 25 (Flavorwire, Mid-length)

Full Disclosure: This is one of mine. An essay discussing the legacy of Law and Order, which premiered 25 years ago as of Sunday, that nobody talked about; binge-watching. Before we had Netflix and a term for watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of TV, the only show we would, or even could, do that could engender such devotion was Law and Order because cable syndication ensured it was always on.

At Burning Man's Airport, There are Propeller People and Jet People (New York, short)

Burning Man, as you might imagine, has a special way of coaxing out the weird and extreme out of its people, place and things. The growing divide between the festival's "true believers" and the wealthy attendees who bring in air conditioned campers and other amenities to keep comfortable is a few years in the making.

On the outskirts of "the city" is Airport Camp, a small sub-community of people who like to fly and apparently will take on free plane rides. Airport is, as the name implies, also an airfield of sorts and is the festival's only runway: As more and more celebrities fly to the festival in helicopters and private jets, the pilots who come for fun have started clashing with the ones who are only there for a paycheck.

The Definitive NBA Logo Rankings (Grantland, Longish)

Football season may be closer, but that means it's prime time for preseason nonsense articles about basketball. A small panel of graphic designers deliberated and one basketball writer ignored them. It's pretty entertaining, and allows for 100-percent no-bullshit statements like this:

The bird is immediately identifiable as a pelican, and the menacing stare and blood-red beak provide appropriate aggressiveness for an attacking NBA mascot.
— Zach Lowe

How Pop Stars Make Money (Vulture, Short)

An interesting bit of leg work that compares how much a Fetty Wap-level breakout star and an industry vet like Taylor Swift make from all of their potential revenue streams. Example: a rising star can expect to make, at most, $2,000 from a sponsored tweet. A socially savvy superstar can make $10k.

It's no surprise that star musicians don't really earn money from writing and recording music, but from the celebrity status said music affords them. What might be surprising is how hard stars have to hustle, even at the highest levels in the field.

ICYMI by Michael Epstein

After years of forcing photographers to think square, Instagram is finally letting users post portrait- and landscape-style photos. Image via  Instagram

After years of forcing photographers to think square, Instagram is finally letting users post portrait- and landscape-style photos. Image via Instagram

Slender Man is Watching (New York, long)

An amazing recreation of how two tween girls conspired and attempted to murder their friend. And how Slender both did and did not legitimately factor into it.

Mortal Kombat: [The] Untold Story of The Movie That 'Kicked The Hell Out of Everyone' (The Hollywood Reporter, long)

This one's a little older than the rest, but I hope you'll indulge me since I haven't done one of these in a while. Our momentary fascination with oral histories has definitely come and gone, but I don't think there's a better way to tell a story like this.

The World's Leading LinkedIn Expert Advise Gucci Mane on His New Profile (Grantland, mid)

There some kinds of articles/stories that just can't exist in print because they wouldn't fit the editorial vision of any strong magazine, and/or because they would technically count as humor stories, but aren't necessarily yuk-yuk funny. I guess we should call them blog posts.

This is one of the funniest blog posts I've read in a long time.

College Student Refusing to Read a Lesbian Memoir Don't Deserve College (Quartz, short)

Bold words from SUNY Brockport's Lisa Miller:

If we don’t do the work, we fail. The Duke students who refused to read Fun Home have already failed. Willfully. Perhaps Duke should dismiss them, as they’re unwilling to take on college-level study. Let them reapply when they are ready to face the danger presented by a comic book.

She also gets bonus points for writing something concise. There are a LOT of recent articles about how terrible undergrads are these days and there isn't much more left to say on the matter.

Dude, It's Not a Hoverboard (Gizmodo, short)

You don't really need to read this one; just take note...

Remember how Wiz Khalifa got tackled by airport security at LAX this week? He apparently got tackled for riding one of these things...

Image Credit:  Ben Schmanke (YouTube)

Note that it has wheels and does not hover. Do not refer to this as a "hoverboard." Do not equate it to Back to The Future 2 or the actual hoverboard Lexus made.

10 Worst Mega Man Bad Guys (Who Never Made it Into The Game) (Polygon, List)

Sometimes you just have to say "fuck it." 

Image Credit: Capcom via Polygon

Image Credit: Capcom via Polygon

Even though the list previews/regurgitates content from the upcoming Mega Man Collection, these outtakes from Mega Man II, an incredibly important video game, are still pretty funny.

ICYMI 2.27 by Michael Epstein

Sesame Street's House of Cards parody is way too insightful to be wasted on small children.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Review (The Verge)

Nobody needs to read a review of Hot Tub Time Machine 2. It's highly doubtful — but not impossible— that critics could dream up the kind of scathing comments that would faze the likely audience for it; people who have no intention of watching the movie and fans of the original that read the review just to get mad. Rather than playing into the hands of fans and haters by condemning the film, The Verge asks readers to play a little game called; "What kind of person would watch this movie?" The answer is, of course, almost no one.

While the idea is hilarious in theory, the review's commentary, when combined with its interactive element, risks mirroring the offensive content it calls out in its subject. It took me three tries to find the path to where the review would recommend the movie, and it's hard to imagine that many people would come to it honestly because, as you get deeper to the pro-HTTM2 camp, the questions rapidly shift from joking to accusatory. While calling a film out for offensive humor is the purview of the critic, making the reader feel uncomfortable in their choice to disagree is not. By doing so, The Verge has turned criticism into the thing that triggers angry and, until now, generally unwarranted hate from online readers; it contends that the review is not only an assessment of the film, but of its fans as well.

Adi Shankar Presents a Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Bootleg Film By Joseph Kahn. To Learn More About Why This Bootleg Exists Click Here: http://tinyurl.com/mw9qd79

Dropcam Keeps an Eye on The Network (NYT)

On that time the reporter caught a guy pooping on the sidewalk outside his house using a $200 camera that streams to his phone.

The Disappeared: Chicago Police Detain Americans at Abuse-Laden Black Site (The Guardian)

There are places where Chicago police take people they arrest when they don't want them to see a lawyer. Where they can remove people from the world for a day or two to "interrogate" harder than legally allowed. The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman blows the lid one such site, Homan Square, where the uncooperative, including protestors and suspects gang- or drug-related crimes, are brought to be beaten into submission.

Poison Pill (Pacific Standard)

The history of the modern Opioid painkiller OxyContin reveals how free-market pharma and a time-limited grab for cash flooded America with narcotics and fueled the illegal painkiller trade.



ICYMI 2.13 by Michael Epstein

Sony and Marvel Studios (Disney) signed a deal that will allow Marvel to use Spider-Man in the Avengers movies and other Marvel properties.

Unable to contain their excitement, the folks at Screen Crush put together a fan trailer.

Illustration Age Talks to Tara Jacoby... (Illustration Age)

Maybe it's because I've been spending a lot of time this year thinking about design, but it seems like editorial illustration is making a serious comeback, especially online. With that in mind, Gawker Media illustrator Tara Jacoby talks describes her time in that specific job, and it sounds pretty cool. Stressful, but cool.

The Ballad of Rog and Tyrone (The Verge)

Did you know you can go online and hire a spokesman to record a low-difficulty video on your behalf for $5? Of course you did.

Did you know crazy-ass anime fans have been exploiting that fact to hire the same two guys —an Australian computer salesman named Rog and a former journalist from Cameroon living in London called "Tyrone"— to hash out their arguments for years now?

I didn't think so.

Ethno-sensitivity issues aside—for example, "Tyrone" is not his real name—this is the story of how the internet and the blown-out economy of content facilitated something wacky and crazy and kind of magical.

R.I.P David Carr (NYT, The New YorkerGawker)

New York Times media critic and general all-around journalism idol David Carr passed away on Thursday at the age of 58. His death has drawn out a wave of obituaries and general reminiscing from reporters across the media, which should be surprising considering that Carr's job was to investigate the media.

Kings of Their Crafts, but on Divergent Paths (NYT)

Ironically (or not) I had been planning on putting up Carr's last column, which was about the convergence of Brian Williams and Jon Stewart as titans of the "post-anchor" era of broadcast television.

Our Hole in The Wall: An Oral History of the CBGB Scene (Cuepoint)

The story of iconic house of punk CBGB, as told by some of the artists that played there. Who says Music Journalism is dead?


ICYMI 2.6.15 - All About Matter by Michael Epstein

Logo via  Matter

Logo via Matter

Instead of posting stuff from a wide array of outlets, we're going to pick out a few recent highlights from single outlet that's been particularly great recently. Matter, new science magazine that became one of Medium's original in-house publications last year, has been producing some of my favorite stories for months now.

Both the imprint and Medium's professional publishing shop seem poised to grow, so hopefully there will more stories like these going around. For now, here are a few recent example of the fun weirdness that makes them special:

Love in The Time of Bae

The first part of a serialized longform narrative, which Matter says will be priority for them in 2015, introduces Charlotte, a girl whose romantic and emotional life takes shape through veils of internet abstraction. Frantic and fast-paced, Charlotte discovers new things about herself at a breakneck speed that only a modern teen could.

It's only just begun, but this is the first piece of writing in a long time that really left me wanting more.

Photo Battle: Hilary versus Allison

Another first entry in what I hope will be a recurring series, Photo Battle is a neat photo essay experiment. Two journalism professionals with similar jobs — Allison McCann makes infographics for FiveThirtyEight. Hilary Parker analyzes user data for Etsy — were charged with sending each other random photos for a week.

While the result are kind of mundane, I see the potential for some really interesting, wacky stories as time goes on. There are definitely ways it could improve... (For example, I think it would be better if the ladies' comments were interspersed throughout the piece, rather than held until the end.)

Let's Go Eat a Goddamn Snack: The NFL Cleanse

I'm pretty sure that the stories I've chosen do not properly represent Matter, which does a lot of incredible longform journalism about serious science, but I don't care. This is hilarious. Freelancer Ruth Baron eats every single food item advertised during the Super Bowl, and records her experience in the style of Gawker's Caity Weaver, whose day-in-the-life of a person eating nothing but Friday's Mozzerella Sticks remains the gold standard in modern food journalism.

It took Baron more than a week and at times the resulting story sounds like a sci-fi parable about processed food, but it made me laugh... So definitely worth it, right?

Are You Internet Sexual?

If you have any doubt that the internet is affecting the way people think about and engage with their own sexuality, you won't after you read this piece on sex chat culture.

You're 16. You're a Pedophile. You Don't Want to Hurt Anyone. Now What do You do?

One of Matter's two ASME-nominated stories—that's the National Magazine Awards—is pretty much self-explanatory. The story alternates between the science behind pedofiliac pathology and the story of a man named Adam who has spent most of his life wrestling with sexual attraction to children. It's brutal and terrifying and it will break your heart... Which is exactly why you have to read it.

ICYMI: 11/8 by Michael Epstein

You probably haven't read top 10 most-cited academic papers, but they're out there... Quoted more than half a million times.

You probably haven't read top 10 most-cited academic papers, but they're out there... Quoted more than half a million times.

When Should You Take Bathroom Breaks During Interstellar (Vulture)

The future of entertainment writing is here! There is so much media out there for us consume: In order for us to take it all in, we're going to need help with time management and optimization.

I've been told there is already an app designed to help with this, but everyone knows that redundancy isn't really a concern anymore.

Expect to see one of these for every long* movie in 2015.

*(Note: Compared to YouTube, all feature-length films are to be considered long.)

Melville Never Wrote Me a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Book (Electric Literature)

High-Brow understanding of "low" culture is kind of my thing so, by the transitive property, an article about how authors ingest and use schlock to make good stuff is also my thing.

10 Tips for Men Starting Out in Stand-Up (A.V. Club)

Cameron Esposito has some tips for all the aspiring male stand-up comics comic up in what could be described as a "moment" for women in comedy.

Sharing History With Your Son... When Your History is Halo (Polygon)

An essay or story about sharing video games with one's children isn't exactly novel, but Polygon's Ben Kuchera's ruminations on sharing Halo with his pre-teen son are so nerdy and heartfelt that you can't help but smile.


ICYMI - 10.25.14 by Michael Epstein

Shortly after a leak, Marvel released the first trailer for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.

Pot Kids (Time)

As medical marijuana slouches towards "craze" status, some parents are willing to risk it all to bring weed home and treat their kids' epilepsy and other illnesses based on less-than-concrete evidence. Unable to wait for science to prove the efficacy (or safety) of adding THC to the brain chemistry of developing minds, the undercurrent may carry, if not force minimizing federal crimes related to marijuana.

What Kind of Creep Sells a Celebrity's Naked Photos on The Internet (Buzzfeed)

Alleged celebrity nude disseminator Bryan Hamade didn't want his privacy invaded, but didn't know just how terrible it could get when you've got a publicly mandated target on your back...

It's Not Easy Being Green: A Brief History of The Grasshopper (Eater)

With roots in the liquor-soaked streets of New Orleans, the Grasshopper is a beacon of silly, zany bartending. The return of the foamy, green potion, according to Eater, may be a sign of a return to easy drinking in the world of high-cocktails.

How We Got Rolled by The Dishonest Facists of Gamergate (Gawker)

Gawker EiC Max Read explains how some sarcastic tweets from Valleywag writer Sam Biddle cost Gawker "thousands" in advertising revenue. As with most letters from Gawker editors, it's self-important snarky, sincere and reminds us why, despite their demeanor, Gawker is a worth our time: No matter what happens, they always do the legwork.

IndieCade is The Most Important Video Game Conference You Don't Know About (The Verge)

I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment — While it is very cool, calling IndieCade "important" may be a stretch — but if you want to see the real width and breadth of what video game can be, this would be a good place to look.

Also, there are a lot of cool photos.

What It's Like to Go Bowling With Someone Who Has Ebola (Motherboard)

Vice staff writer Jason Koebler went bowling in Brooklyn this week. Craig Spencer, the first Ebola patient found in New York, ALSO went bowling in Brooklyn this week. At the same place.

Koebler doesn't have Ebola, or at least he doesn't think so, but that hasn't stopped his brain from rifling through all the ways he could have picked it up and examining his personal manifestation of the country's Ebola panic.


ICYMI - 9/20 by Michael Epstein

Via  Jezebel

I Have Sexsomnia—And Can't be Cured (Motherboard)

If you can sleep-talk, sleepwalk, sleep-eat or sleep-drive, then why not sleep-fuck? Stephen Klinck documents his own diagnosis, goes into the history of the condition and outlines what could be some complicated legal implications.

What it's Like to Watch a Meme Explode on Twitter: The Sign Bunny Story (The Daily Dot)

Unfortunately, the Sign Bunny does not look good on this website. If it did, you would be much happier. You would be happier because, instead of this paragraph, you would be reading a nice little quip about how much people love bunnies, memes and Twitter.

This article details how a reporter at The Daily Dot triggered a little fad on Twitter. The Sign Bunny is cool, but charting the flow of the internet is much cooler.

A Shortcut to Comic Celebrity (NYT)

A profile of budding celebrity Josh Ostrovsky, aka Instagram's "The Fat Jewish," who is trying to elevate himself any way he can into the mainstream zeitgeist via new "everyday" approach to social media stardom. Based on the story, he's every bit as crazy as you think he is...

Also it was in printed in the style section — probably because of his ponytail-thing — which is hilarious in itself.

Unofficial headline*: The iPhone 6 Plus is Too Big For Me, and Probably for You Too (Slate) 

Smartphone consumers have made it clear that they love big screens, and Apple's new phones are finally obliging them, but unless you're a professional athlete you probably do not have the hands or pants to use a 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus as well as your current phone.

*I wrote my own headline because the official ones — Slate rarely almost always has a couple — are abhorrently manipulative attempts to grab social traffic. The story is still good, though, so it makes the list.



ICYMI - 8/23 by Michael Epstein

Let's Be Real (Grantland)

Grantland film reviewer Wesley Morris says in no uncertain terms that the new movie "Let's Be Cops" is not especially good, but he also begs us to draw parallels between this silly comedy about two guys who pretend to be cops and the situation in Ferguson, MO.

Great criticism doesn't tell us whether or not to watch, read or otherwise consume art: It doesn't tell us what to think. Great criticism does the opposite: It stimulates and inspires us to take our escapist passions and bring them back into our lives.

People Keep Getting into People’s Cars Because They Think Its Uber (Valleywag)

People are getting into strangers' cars, assuming they are the Uber/Lyft rides they called. The funny part? These people don't seem the least bit embarrassed...

The 16 Most Buzzfeed Facts of All Time (Gawker) 

The most shocking, astonishing, insane list of random bullshit that will blow your mind.

Kanye West’s Samples: A Listenable History (The Verge)

What's better than an oral history? A history of Kanye beatz.

Putting Together The Most Fun Fantasy Football Team Money Can Buy (Grantland)

In honor of the fantasy football team I drafted this week, I bring to you the first article I've about the hobby that actually makes it sound like a good time.

Who Invented The Ice Bucket Challenge? (Slate)

No one really knows who invented the Ice Bucket Challenge, but it definitely wasn't created to raise money for ALS.

ICYMI - 8/2/14 by Michael Epstein

Test footage for a potential Deadpool movie leaked this week. Like everyone else on the internet, I really hope they make this movie.

Repeal Prohibition, Again (NYT)

The New York Times compares the government's position on marijuana to prohibition in a proclamation that, at times, reads like the editorial equivalent of flexing your muscles in front of a mirror and posting it on YouTube...

I guess that's nice? At least they made a neat background to go with it.

The Down-and-Dirty History of TMZ (Buzzfeed)

TMZ creator Harvey Levin sounds like a 21st Century reincarnation of Howard Hughes or J Edgar Hoover. Armed with a vault of Hollywood's deepest, darkest secrets, Levin will apparently do whatever it takes to reign in celebrity privilege, even if it means disregarding journalistic ethics and human decency.

Yes, There is an Uber for Weed (Motherboard)

There was a "Grindr for weed." Now there's an "Uber for weed." One of these days somebody is going to make one these things and they're actually going to work.

I'm a Lesbian Marrying a Man (Salon)

EJ Levy writes out the most confusing, esoteric splitting of ideological hairs I've ever been privy to... Which is why it's kind of awesome.

The Comic-Con Talk Back is a Real-Life Comments Section (Vox)

On the last day of Comic-Con there's a panel, the Comic-Con Talk Back, where people can go and complain about having the organizers did wrong, which sounds like it could be the most excruciating thing you could possibly do.