Weekend Reads #285

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Bisa Butler, Broom Jumpers, 2019
Bisa Butler, Broom Jumpers, 2019

Weekend Reads

States where abortion is on the ballot in the 2024 election. (Washington Post – gift article)

Gangsters, money and murder: How Chinese organized crime Is dominating America’s illegal marijuana market. (ProPublica – if it shows up in Chinese and you can't read it, click the button before the article to read in English)

Travel mogul. Philanthropist. Legal weed champion. The real Rick Steves is so much more complex than who you see on TV. (Washington Post – gift article)

I tricked ChatGPT into being my boyfriend. He got spicy real fast. (Wall Street Journal – gift article)

AngryGF offers a perpetually enraged chatbot intended to teach men better communication skills. WIRED took it for a spin. (Wired)

How Gen Z made the crossword their own. (New York Times – gift article)

Fans mourn after ‘The Simpsons' kills off original character Larry the Barfly. (NBC News)

There’s now an FDA-approved app to treat depression. (Lifehacker)

Decades of undiagnosed ADHD in Gen X girls created a “lost generation” of women. (Shannon Watts)

I’m a Jewish student at Yale. Here’s what everyone is getting wrong about the protests. (CNN Opinion)

How ‘blue comments' turned the TikTok algorithm into a protest tool. (Mashable)

58-year-old woman sets world record by holding plank for over 4.5 hours. (My Modern Met)

The Colleen Rothschild Friends & Family Sale is going on right now. Usually you can get 20% off with my code OXYGEN20 but during this sale, you can get 25% off with code FAMILY (sale excludes bundles). Here's a link to my favorites from this skincare brand I've been using since 2016.

The parents who regret having children. (Time)

“Gold Award” Girl Scout claps back at school board for censoring her project. (Scary Mommy)

If you'd like to help this Girl Scout, here is the Amazon wish list for more banned books.

From kava to “sleepy girl mocktails,” can anything ever take the place of booze? (Vox)

Aldi’s ‘aisle of shame’ is a middle row of goodies that have nothing to do with groceries. Shoppers are huge fans of it. (CNN Business)

Can the fast-fashion giant Zara rebrand as luxury? (Washington Post – gift article)

And for my local yokels (and for everyone else who inserts cards instead of tapping to pay because this is a country-wide issue): Prince George’s County police recover 8 credit card skimmers at convenience stores in April. (DC News Now)


If you follow me on Instagram and watch my Instagram Stories, you know that Hydrow sent me the Wave, one of their rowing machines. I have been fascinated with rowing for years and two summers ago even took sculling classes. My dad had a rowing machine when I was a kid and it's one of my favorite machines at any gym. I was thrilled when they offered to send me one, and if you know me you won't be surprised I picked the Wave in orange!

the boys in the boat movie poster

I've had it for five weeks now and am loving it, and it's making me think more about rowing and all the books and movies and TV series that feature it. Lessons in Chemistry, The Gentlemen, The Novice… and I saw on Hydrow they had classes connected to the movie The Boys in the Boat so my husband and I decided to watch it (and yes, I rowed along with them for part of the film).

the boys in the boat cast; the rowers in the boat and the coach on the pier talking to them

The Boys in the Boat is based on a book that is based on a true story. University of Washington, during the Depression. Joe Rantz was abandoned by his family as a teen, is at college and can't pay tuition. He hears the rowing team offers a part-time job to each member and tries out and gets on the JV rowing team.

A scene from the movie The Boys in the Boat where character Joe and his girlfriend looking at one another in a train station.

The JV team is so good, they're picked over the varsity team to compete for the Olympics, which that year is taking place in Berlin. Spoiler alert, the team wins, goes to the Olympics, pisses off Hitler, and USA wins the gold. Between, you see friendships, mentorships, and a budding romance.

the JV team of rowers rowing in the movie The Boys in the Boat

This movie is like Top Gun, Hoosiers, Miracle, and almost every movie about astronauts. A team of virtual strangers is assembled. Tempers flare, but everyone focuses on the goal. They realize they are better together than separate. Against all odds, they win, and in the process, they become friends. And I don't hate it.

The character Joe Rantz from the movie The Boys in the Boat sitting on a bench in a USA sweater looking up

A lot is filmed in golden hour, people are pretty to look at, wise older men see promise in the underdog and take him under their wings, pretty girl is smitten with pretty boy, and they all live happily ever after while Hitler doesn't. The Boys in the Boat is family friendly and not violent and like vanilla ice cream. And with all that's going on in the world, it's nice to sit down (on a couch or a rowing machine) and enjoy some vanilla ice cream during golden hour.

For Your Entertainment

vanessa williams

Vanessa Williams is 61, an icon, and a badass. In the 1980s, she was the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America. In the 1990s, she became a pop star. In the 2000s, she became a Broadway star. In the 2010s, Williams became an award-winning TV star and published author. In this decade, Vanessa Williams is still acting (she will be playing Miranda Priestly in a theater adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada), still an activist for human rights, and still making music.

Williams' latest single, “Legs (Keep Dancing),” is her first non-holiday song in 15 years. To show respect to Diana Ross and Diahann Carroll, she references Ross' famous outfit in Mahogany and uses the title of Carroll's memoir as the catchy line: “The legs are the last to go.” Her album will be released later this year. For now, enjoy this (and Ugly Betty fans will recognize fellow castmate Marc St. James in the limo!).

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. This is an especially great weekend post, Alison! I was immediately hooked by the Bisa Butler quilt as the main image, I watched the movie Saturday night, and I worked my way through the links over the next several days. Thanks!

  2. Sometimes your recommendations are not for me (I’m not great on feminism), but quite often you really knock it out of the park.
    This week’s “Scary Mommy” article is really saddening. I am European and we just don’t understand some of the madness occurring in your part of the world. Asides the anti-abortion brigade (which is a very difficult moral issue – maybe not one for men to dictate?), the censorship of books is very worrying. Well done to that young lady for standing up for her freedom.
    Aldi – we have a standing joke “Go into Aldi for a loaf of bread, leave with an angle grinder”. The centre isle is what gets many men through the doors.

  3. As always, you have a wonderful, diverse group of links in your Weekend Reads! I want to thank you in particular for one that was very helpful to me–Ian Berlin’s piece on CNN. I have found it hard to find the right understanding about these protests, as a very left-leaning older Jewish woman. Obviously, they are not all the same, which only adds to the confusion. Berlin’s account is really clarifying and reassuring–and hope inspiring.

    I am not sure if this is “kosher” (pardon my pun!) for the comments here, but I will add for anyone looking for another source of information and action, check out J Street, a registered PAC in the USA that has been advocating for a two state solution for Israelis and Palestinians for years. In anyone is interested, check them out at JStreet.org They are actively advising the Biden administration.

  4. I absolutely loved The Boys in the Boat book and can’t imagine how I’ve missed the movie. Going to find it now. Thanks!

  5. I’ll go back and read more of the links in a bit, but wanted to thank you for posting the NYT article about Gen Z and crosswords – my 22 year old has been creating crosswords for his campus paper for the past few years!

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