Essays that I’m glad I read

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

I read through The web’s funniest stories by Tim Carmody (Kottke) the other day. My favorites from that list are:

Quick reads

So You’ve Decided To Drink More Water by Mallory Ortburg (The Hairpin)

A nicely written fantasy about starting a new diet/lifestyle.

“[…] Grown men sink to their knees as you pass, their faces crumpling into shameless sobs. Mothers lift their children up to you in mute and expectant appeal. You bless them all. […]”
TOTO’S “AFRICA” BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY by Anthony Sams (McSweeney's)

You’re welcome in advance for putting this into your head for the rest of the day.

“At the airport the young man heard far-off drums echoing in the night. He imagined the young woman in the plane sitting still, hearing whispers of a quiet conversation near the rear of the fuselage. […]”
Oscar Fug Parties: Lindsay Lohan and Sharon Stone by Jessica (Go Fug Yourself)

A short riff based on a single picture of Sharon Stone and Lindsay Lohan.

“[…] FUCK MERYL STREEP I’M TELLING YOU THINGS. So THEN you decide to make a REALLY PORNY SEQUEL to the movie where you show your cooter LIKE I MEAN REALLY PORNY […]”
TIME FOR SOME STORIES by davesecretaryatwork (Tilde Club)

This is a long read, but broken up into many short and easily digested pieces. Some are laugh-out-loud funny. Some are weird and fall a bit flat. All are at-least kind-of clever—though it’s hard to tell whether the cleverness is deliberate or the product of accidental genius or what? Are the stories really real? Or pretending to be real? Written in a mad flow of energy within the time frame shown in the posts (the initial flurry was written in a single morning)? A frenzied work of mad genius from the early days of the web.

“[…] SO IT’S CHRISTMAS AND MY FAMILY IS PLAYING ‘SCATTERGORIES’ AND EVERYONE IS DRUNK, ESPECIALLY MY STEP-UNCLE RICK. HE’S JUST RAVING DRUNK. IT’S CRAZY. SOMEONE ROLLS THE LETTER ‘F’ AND WE ALL SPEND 2 MINUTES TRYING TO FILL OUT THE BLANKS. THE TIMER DINGS AND WE GO AROUND TELLING EACH OTHER OUR ANSWERS.

“THE FIRST CATEGORY IS ‘VEGETABLE’. WE ALL GO AROUND AND WE GET TO DRUNK STEP-UNCLE RICK WHO LOOKS AT US ALL SMUGLY, DIGS UP THIS WIDE GRIN, AND THEN SAYS “FUCKING CARROTS!! […]”

Long reads

Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving by Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half)

I first read Allie Brosh’s essays and cartoons on depression, which are both eye-opening and hilarious. This one is about her two dogs, who suffer from emotional instability.

“[…] When we started packing, the helper dog knew immediately that something was going on. I could tell that she knew because she becomes extremely melodramatic when faced with even a trivial amount of uncertainty. She started following me everywhere, pausing every so often to flop to the ground in an exaggeratedly morose fashion − because maybe that would make me realize how selfish I was being by continuing to pack despite her obvious emotional discomfort. […]”
The Alameda-Weehauken Burrito Tunnel by Maciej Ceglowski (Idle Words)

This guy is a world-class essayist with a rich blog archive that includes tech stuff about the web. This story is lovely. Fair warning: his site’s motto is “brevity is for the weak”.

“[…] In 1911, the celebrated British civil engineer Basil Mott approached the plutocrat Andrew W. Mellon with an audacious plan to build a straight-line tunnel 2500 miles long connecting New York City with San Francisco, allowing packages to be sent between the two cities using only compressed air and gravity. […]”
Something Close To Madness Case File #24: The Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure by Nathan Rabin (The AV Club)

The introduction to this one is long. Hang in there, there’s gems like this existentially evocative image in there.

“An experience that was meant to be joyous, communal, and designed around the short attention spans of small children had morphed into a de facto private screening. At least there were two souls in attendance; I imagine most screenings of Oogieloves played to empty theaters, where its constant pleas to an audience that did not exist must have played like something close to madness.”