Deep history can usually be detected in the most banal of artifacts, if you know where to look. Consider one of the most derided items on a modern supermarket shelf: the humble Doritos chip. Originally introduced in 1964 as an exclusive treat for Disneyland visitors, showcased at the “Casa de Fritos” in Adventureland, Doritos have become the crown jewel in the Frito-Lay empire of snacks.
-Steven Johnson, Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World
The letters between Eleanor and Hick are less remarkable now for their shock value than for the moving and poignant story they tell of two women who loved each other intensely and deeply. Women who loved women surrounded both of them, and showed the way to a freer life.
-Susan Quinn, Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady
You may not be able to think of a weirder, more otherworldly creature than the cuttlefish. It has no backbone, strange W-shaped pupils in its bulbous eyes and thick floppy-looking arms protruding from its face. It swims around with a tutu-like frill that floats around its body, but propels itself backward to escape predators. To look at its many-fingered face is to look into the visage of Cthulhu, that fictional god of H.P. Lovecraft’s strange horror stories, or the alien Ood of the rebooted cult TV show Doctor Who.
-Amina Khan, Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future
Frida fell for America’s malted milk, dime stores, and movies like “Tarzan” and “Frankenstein,” but found Americans, particularly the wealthy circles she and Diego socialized in, to “completely lack sensibility and good taste.” She renamed America “Gringolandia.”
-Zena Alkayat & Nina Cosford, Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography
Before it was a TV series on Comedy Central, South Park was a bootleg: A five-minute foulmouthed holiday cartoon, with crude construction-paper animation and dialogue to match, called “The Spirit of Christmas.” Brian Graden, then an executive at Fox, commissioned the University of Colorado film school graduates Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create a cartoon “Christmas card” he could send to friends for the holidays in 1995. “The Spirit of Christmas” featured prototypes of the characters we now know from South Park–Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny–who witness an expletive-filled fight to the finish between Santa Claus and Jesus.
-David Bianculli, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific
There will come a time when people decide you’ve had enough of your grief, and they’ll try to take it away from you.
-Sarah Manguso, 300 Arguments: Essays
Nobody thought the apocalypse would be so polite and quirky. Things just popped out of existence, like they had forgotten all about themselves. Now when you misplaced your keys, you didn’t go looking for them.
-Alexandra Kleeman, “You, Disappearing,” in Intimations: Stories
Before southern California’s glorious, golden landscape was etched with eight-lane superhighways and tangles of concrete flyovers choreographing a continuous vehicular ballet; before families became enchanted with the thrill and convenience of popping TV dinners into the oven; before preservatives and GMOs allowed food in mass quantities to be processed, preserved, and transported in refrigerated trucks and served up in disposable packaging at fast-food franchises for quick consumption on the go by harried, hungry travelers, there were oranges. Millions of oranges, fragrantly punctuating thousands of acres.
-Lisa Napoli, Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away
Everyone hates email. And yet we can’t stop checking it. Recent studies show that office workers dip into their inboxes on average a whopping 74 times a day and spend roughly 28 percent of their total workday on the task of reading and responding to email. What’s more, scientists have established a clear link between spending time on email and stress: the more frequently we check our email, the more frazzled we feel.
-Jocelyn K. Glei, Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which sits so large and many-stepped on Fifth Avenue in New York, there is a section on the first floor referred to as the sculpture garden, and I must have walked past this particular sculpture many times with my husband, and with the children as they got older, me thinking only of getting food for the kids, and never really knowing what a person did in a museum of this nature where there were so many things to look at. In the middle of these needs and worries is a statue. And only recently–in the last few years–when the light was hitting it with a splendid wash, did I stop and look at it and say: Oh.
-Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel