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21 Dec 14:46

this house may or may not be real


my theory: this is an entirely AI-generated real estate listing that is designed to be viewed by real-estate-buying AIs only. no humans involved in the transaction.

on grayness in real estate

Allegedly, somewhere in Wake Forest, North Carolina, a 4 bed, 5.5 bathroom house totaling more than 6,600 square feet is for sale at a price of 2.37 million dollars. The house, allegedly, was built in 2021. Allegedly, it looks like this:

A McMansion is, in effect, the same house over and over again - it’s merely dressed up in different costumes. In the 90s, the costume was Colonial; in the 2000s, it was vague forms of European (Tuscan, Mediterranean), and in the 2010s it was Tudor, dovetailed by “the farmhouse” – a kind of Yeti Cooler simulacra of rural America peddled to the populace by Toll Brothers and HGTV.

Now, we’re fully in the era of whatever this is. Whitewashed, quasi-modern, vaguely farmhouse-esque, definitely McMansion. We have reached, in a way, peak color and formal neutrality to the point where even the concept of style has no teeth. At a certain moment in its life cycle, styles in vernacular architecture reach their apex, after which they seem excessively oversaturated and ubiquitous. Soon, it’s time to move on. After all, no one builds houses that look like this anymore:

(This is almost a shame because at least this house is mildly interesting.)

If we return to the basic form of both houses, they are essentially the same: a central foyer, a disguised oversized garage, and an overly complex assemblage of masses, windows, and rooflines. No one can rightfully claim that we no longer live in the age of the McMansion. The McMansion has instead simply become more charmless and dull.

When HGTV and the Gaineses premiered Fixer Upper in 2013, it seemed almost harmless. Attractive couple flips houses. Classic show form. However, Fixer Upper has since (in)famously ballooned into its own media network, a product line I’m confronted with every time I go to Target, and a general 2010s cultural hallmark not unlike the 1976 American Bicentennial - both events after which every house and its furnishings were somehow created in its image. (The patriotism, aesthetic and cultural conservatism of both are not lost on me.)

But there’s one catch: Fixer Upper is over, and after the Gaineses, HGTV hasn’t quite figured out where to go stylistically. With all those advertisers, partners, and eyeballs, the pressure to keep one foot stuck in the rural tweeness that sold extremely well was great. At the same time, the network (and the rest of the vernacular design media) couldn’t risk wearing out its welcome. The answer came in a mix of rehashed, overly neutral modernism – with a few pops of color, yet this part often seems omitted from its imitators – with the prevailing “farmhouse modern” of Magnolia™ stock. The unfortunate result: mega-ultra-greige.

Aside from war-mongering, rarely does the media manufacture consent like it does in terms of interior design. People often ask me: Why is everything so gray? How did we get here? The answer is because it is profitable. Why is it profitable? I’d like to hypothesize several reasons. The first is as I mentioned: today’s total neutrality is an organic outgrowth of a previous but slightly different style, “farmhouse modern,” that mixed the starkness of the vernacular farmhouse with the soft-pastel Pinterest-era rural signifiers that have for the last ten years become ubiquitous.

Second, neutrals have always been common and popular. It’s the default choice if you don’t have a vision for what you want to do in a space. In the 2000s, the neutrals du jour were “earth tones” - beige, sage green, brown. Before that, it was white walls with oak trim in the 80s and 90s. In the 70s, neutrals were textural: brick and wood paneling. We have remarkably short memories when it comes to stylistic evolution because in real time it feels incremental. Such is the case with neutrals.

Finally, the all-gray palette is the end logic of HGTV et al’s gamified methodology of designing houses with commodification in mind: if you blow out this wall, use this color, this flooring, this cabinetry, the asking price of your house goes up. You never want to personalize too much because it’s off-putting to potential buyers. After twenty years of such rhetoric, doesn’t it make all the sense in the world that we’ve ended up with houses that are empty, soulless, and gray?

A common realtor adage is to stage the house so that potential buyers can picture their own lives in it. In other words, create a tabula rasa one can project a fantasy of consumption onto. Implied in that logic is that the buyer will then impose their will on the house. But when the staged-realtor-vision and general-mass-market aesthetic of the time merge into a single dull slurry, we get a form of ultra-neutral that seems unwelcoming if not inescapable.

To impose one’s style on the perfect starkness is almost intimidating, as though one is fouling up something untouchable and superior. If neutrality makes a house sell, then personality - at all - can only be seen as a detriment. Where does such an anti-social practice lead us? Back to the house that may or may not exist.

In my travels as McMansion Hell, I’ve increasingly been confronted with houses full of furniture that isn’t real. This is known as virtual staging and it is to house staging as ChatGPT is to press release writing or DALL-E is to illustration. As this technology improves, fake sofa tables are becoming more and more difficult to discern from the real thing. I’m still not entirely sure which of the things in these photos are genuine or rendered. To walk through this house is to question reality.

Staging ultimately pretends (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) that someone is living in this house, that you, too could live in it. Once discovered, virtual staging erases all pretensions: the house is inhabited by no one. It is generally acknowledged (though I’m not sure on the actual statistics) that a house with furniture - that is, with the pretense of living – sells easier than a house with nothing in it, especially if that house (like this one) has almost no internal walls. Hence the goal is to make the virtual staging undiscoverable.

If you want to talk about the realtor’s tabula rasa, this is its final form. Houses without people, without human involvement whatsoever.

But what makes this particular house so uncanny is that all of these things I’ve mentioned before: real estate listing photography, completely dull interiors and bland colors all make it easy for the virtual furniture to work so well. This is because the softness of overlit white and gray walls enables the fuzzy edges of the renderings to look natural when mixed with an overstylized reality. Even if you notice something’s off in the reflections, that’s enough to cause one to wonder if anything in the house is real: the floors, the fixtures, the moulding, the windows and doors.

This is where things are heading: artifice on top of artifice on top of artifice. It’s cheap, it’s easy. But something about it feels like a violation. When one endeavors to buy a house, one assumes what one is viewing is real. It’s one thing if a realtor photoshops a goofy sunset, it’s another to wonder if anything in a room can be touched with human hands. I won’t know what, if any, part of this estate costing over 2 million dollars actually exists until I visit it myself. Perhaps that’s the whole point - to entice potential buyers out to see for themselves. When they enter, they’ll find the truth: a vast, empty space with nothing in it.

The better this rendering technology gets, the more it will rely on these totally neutral spaces because everything matches and nothing is difficult. You are picking from a catalog of greige furniture to decorate greige rooms. If you look at virtual staging in a non-neutral house it looks immediately plastic and out of place, which is why many realtors opt to either still stage using furniture or leave the place empty.

Due to the aforementioned photography reasons, I would even argue that the greigepocalypse or whatever you want to call it and virtual staging have evolved simultaneously and mutualistically. The more virtual staging becomes an industry standard, the more conditions for making it seamless and successful will become standardized as well.

After all, real staging is expensive and depends on paid labor - selecting furniture, getting workers to deliver and stage it, only to pack it back up again once the property is sold. This is a classic example of technology being used to erase entire industries. Is this a bad thing? For freelance and contract workers, yeah. For realtors? no. For real estate listings, it remains to be seen. For this blog? Absolutely. (Thankfully there is an endless supply of previously existing McMansions.)

The thing is, real estate listings no longer reflect reality. (Did they ever to begin with?) The reason we’re all exasperated with greige is because none of us actually live that way and don’t want to. I’ve never been to anyone’s house that looks like the house that may or may not exist. Even my parents who have followed the trends after becoming empty nesters have plenty of color in their house. Humans like color. Most of us have lots of warmth and creativity in our houses. Compare media intended for renters and younger consumers such as Apartment Therapy with HGTV and you will find a stark difference in palate and tone.

But when it comes to actually existing houses - look at Zillow and it’s greige greige greige. So who’s doing this? The answer is real estate itself aided by their allies in mass media who in turn are aided by the home renovation industry. In other words, it’s the people who sell home as a commodity. That desire to sell has for some time overpowered all other elements that make up a home or an apartment’s interiority to the point where we’ve ended up in a colorless slurry of real and unreal.

Fortunately, after ten years or so, things begin to become dated. We’re hitting the ten year mark of farmhouse modernism and its derivatives now. If you’re getting sick of it, it’s normal. The whole style is hopefully on its last leg. But unlike styles of the past, there’s a real, trenchant material reason why this one is sticking around longer than usual.

Hence, maybe if we want the end of greige, we’re going to have to take color back by force.

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06 Sep 01:41

VMA Awards: Lady Gaga Gave Us the Version of 2020 We Need

by Lorenzo Marquez

Thank you Gaga for these blessings which we are about to receive. We are not wor– actually, yes we are, but thank you anyway, Steffi. We missed you more than we realized and we love that you went full-bore on the classic sort of Gaga style we wanted to see this night.

Also: you guys better do some limbering up right now because you will be required to do quite a bit of bowing down over the course of this post.



Bow down to your Jiffy Pop Galactic Empress.

Should we call her Steffy Pop for the remainder of her career? Would that get annoying quickly? Yes and possibly. The shape here is … challenging, let’s say. But we love the texture of it and the fishbowl was a cutely witty attempt to blend her Chromatica era space queen/techno fetish aesthetic with a statement on mask-wearing – and still allow her to serve face for the “red carpet.” Her makeup looks fantastic and we love the mani and rings.



Iris Van Herpen Couture

Bow down to your Space Moth Queen.

We’d argue that Gaga’s succession of outrageous but thematically appropriate masks may come to be seen as a watershed moment in the normalization of them. When a pop star starts blending masks with performance and fashion in a manner that feels statement-making, if not a form of artistic expression – during a widely viewed entertainment event no less – it feels like the culture turning a corner on how we view them.

Anyway, we adore this look for it’s ethereal weirdness and exuberance and we think the mask is a spectacular accompaniment. The boots feel wrong, though. We don’t mind the style. It’s what we’ve come to expect from a classic Gaga look, but we’d have thought a lighter color would integrate better with the look.



Christopher John Rogers

Bow down to your Horn-Mouthed Disney Princess.

This is by far the most conventional look she wore last night, but it made a nice respite from all the cray and reminded everyone that Gaga’s still a diva and a fashion-lover. The color looks fantastic on her and the necklace looks gorgeous, from what we can see of it. Given the conventionality of the look, we wish she’d pulled her hair back or up so we could see it better. And of course, the choice of mask is intentionally jarring, deliberately meant to play against the old-school conservative glamour of the rest of it. It’s punk maskcessorizing.



Valentino Couture

Just bow down, because this is fucking fabulous, every inch of it. A perfect blend of haute couture, pop star realness, personal branding and mask compliance. This is the 2020 we need more of.



Candice Cuoco and Valentino Couture


We really are impressed with the consistency and cohesiveness of her looks over the course of the night. It’s like she and her long time stylist Nicola Formichetti unleashed all the promo looks she would have worn if Chromatica had been released during a less fucked-up 2020. And we are what? GRATEFUL AF FOR THAT. Love the “face armor” thingy, love the outrageousness of the sleeves, which give her not just a wizard vibe, but some sort of techno-priestess/goddess serve. And that could not possibly be more on point for her at this moment. Just a really well-done round of looks that almost approached costume design in the use of symbols or references.



Style Credits:
First Look: Area Silver Metallic Quilted Parka from the Fall 2020 Couture Collection | Conrad Headpiece | Dena Kemp Jewelry | Pleasers Shoes
Second Look: Custom Iris Van Herpen Couture Dress | Cecilio Castrillo Mask and Headpiece | Pleasers Boots
Third Look: Christopher John Rogers Ball Silk Taffeta Skirt and Cropped Blouse from the Fall 2020 Collection | Lance Victor Moore Face Mask | Dena Kemp Earrings | House of Emmanuele Crystal Tribalism Pearl Necklace | Lillian Shalom Rings | German Kabirski Bracelet | Pleasers Shoes
Fourth Look: Valentino Bodysuit and Cape from the Fall 2020 Couture Collection | Maison Met Mask | Dena Kemp Jewelry | Pleasers Shoes
Fifth Look: Custom Candice Cuoco Liquid Chrome Ruffled Winged Train Coat | Valentino Bodysuit from the Fall 2020 Couture Collection | Maison Met Mask | Lance Victor Moore Face Armor | Manuel Albarran Bra and Choker | Lillian Shalom Rings | Dena Kemp Earrings and Bracelets | Pleasers Shoes

Styled by Nicola Formichetti | Hair by Frederic Aspiras | Makeup by Sarah Tanno | Nails by Miho Okawara


[Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/MTV VMAS 2020, Courtesy of Area, Courtesy of Valentino, Christopher John Rogers/Instagram]

The post VMA Awards: Lady Gaga Gave Us the Version of 2020 We Need appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

08 May 16:10

How Digital Maps Have Changed What It Means to Be Lost

by Julie Beck

The last time I was ever truly lost was in the summer of 2013. It was in St. Petersburg, Russia. I traveled there for work, and after four days of fighting jet lag to cram in sightseeing on the side, I fell asleep on a bus, nodding off over the copy of A Clash of Kings I’d been carrying with me during the trip.

When I woke up, I had no idea how long I’d been out and if I’d missed my stop. The stop was right across the street from my hotel—pretty easy to spot if you’re not asleep. So I tried to ask the bus driver if we’d passed the Park Inn. I didn’t speak Russian and he didn’t speak English, but he nonetheless made it very clear that passengers were not allowed to talk to him.

I was saved by a young Russian woman who overheard my distress. She tried to explain to me, in English, how to get back to the hotel (we had definitely already passed it), but perhaps seeing that her directions were not breaking through the fog of my panic, ended up getting off the bus with me at the next stop and drawing me a map. She had perfect winged eyeliner, and once she noticed my book, we talked about Game of Thrones for a while.

The instructions were simple: There was one, long main road, and I just needed to follow it all the way back to the hotel. She warned me it could take a while. I guess I’d had a pretty long nap. I thanked her with the gratitude of the truly desperate, and set off.

It was indeed a long way. It was late, too—but since it was summer in Russia, the sun had only just set, and I still had a lavender 11 p.m. twilight to navigate by. I cried a little bit and felt sorry for myself as I walked, worried that the woman’s map would be wrong or that I would make a wrong turn. I wasn’t totally convinced I would make it back.

Then a small and sprightly young man bounded up to me, seemingly out of nowhere. He asked me, in English, if I knew where McDonald’s was. I did not.

“Are you from the cruise ship?” he asked. He was neither Russian nor American; his accent was one I couldn’t place.

Apparently, there was a cruise ship docked nearby, and with precious little time remaining before he had to return to it, he was on a quest to consume a Big Mac.

He asked me about myself, and when he heard I was lost, said he would walk with me for a while. I told him about the event I was covering in St. Petersburg; he told me about his cruise. I had already been shaken a bit out of my panic and self-pity just by his arrival, but he kept me calm until the illuminated Park Inn appeared on the horizon. A small distance away, the lights of a cruise ship glittered in the harbor.

In short order, the man spotted someone he knew from the ship, and ran off to join them. “Goodbye, Julie, I love you!” he shouted as he shot back into the night, a bullet in search of a Big Mac.

A few months later, I bought my first smartphone. I haven’t been lost since—not in the enormous, sweeping, helpless way I was then. I still get turned around occasionally, or confused about where something is, but my phone is always with me, and as long as there’s a signal, there’s a map that can clear up that confusion. My Russian misadventure feels like it might be the last time I’m going to be lost with no map at my disposal, utterly at the mercy of strangers.

I was curious if others felt the same way, so I set about collecting more of these moments—memories of the last times people felt really, truly lost. I suspected many of them would come from the pre-smartphone era—and some of them did—but while it’s easy to think that an interactive map in every pocket would make the experience of getting lost obsolete, it hasn’t. People still get lost, but the proliferation of digital maps has definitely changed the landscape, if you will, of when and how people lose their way.

All the stories in this piece were told to me in interviews, then edited and condensed for clarity.

Dan Krzykowski, a 34-year-old in Minneapolis who works in music publishing

The exact date is hard to pin down, but it would have been just before the proliferation of smartphones. 2007 or 2006. I had been invited to Duluth, Minnesota, to spend time with a friend’s family, and one of the things he pitched doing was snowmobiling—on groomed trails in the woods and on frozen lakes and things like that.

People treat it as sort of a barhopping thing, possibly not wisely. The same bars that are open in the summer for fishing and boating people—generally on a lake—they’ll stay open for packs of snowmobiles to come in and get a beer. So that was the plan.

I was on one of the snowmobiles by myself, and two friends of mine were on a sled together. This was pitch-black of night in the woods. I took a turn and missed how sharp it was and just went a few feet into the brush. The sled got stuck and they didn’t notice because they were on a very loud machine that just kept going.

After about 15 or 20 minutes I figured they’re not going to find me. So I got the snowmobile back on the trail. It was legitimately the first time I had ever been lost lost and it is also the last. It hasn’t happened since. I just decided to guess when I got to forks and try not to go in circles. I had a flip phone, and there was no service.

Eventually after about an hour, the woods opened up onto a lake. I saw a light on the other side, and figured this must be one of those bars. It just so happened that that is the one my friends were going to. I walked in, and I asked them if they had noticed I wasn’t behind them and my roommate said, “Yes, we figured you’d be fine.” And then he said to sit down and have a beer.

Pamela Kingfisher, 66, a consultant near Tahlequah, Oklahoma

It was about 2002, with my husband, in Tennessee. We were exploring Cherokee heritage sites and had gone to the old town of Chota, just northeast of Chattanooga. It’s right at the edge of the mountains. We prayed and laid down tobacco, did the whole thing. Then we got in the car and thought, “Let’s go this other way.” We think this map—paper map, back in the day, we didn’t have a cell phone either—shows that this hill goes up over and we’ll go to this other old Cherokee town. So we take a left instead of a right and end up going up this hill. There’s no signage. We saw no houses, no people, no cars, and it was like the forest just kept moving in on us. The roads got skinnier, the trees were hanging over and touching.

I’ve been in every state, 72 Indian reservations, and I don’t get scared very often. But it just got stranger and more like a fairy tale coming into animation or something. I don’t think we ever reached the top of that mountain, it got steeper and skinnier and scarier. It felt like the land and the roads were taking over and we were just kind of coasting along and maybe shouldn’t be there. We finally just stopped and kept looking at the map, and looking at each other. We just turned around and left like our pants were on fire. It was too scary.

There were multiple stages of the digital-map takeover. MapQuest launched in 1996 as a web service, and briefly enjoyed status as a verb—“I’m going to MapQuest directions to the party”—in the era when people would look up directions at home, print them out, and take them on their journey.

“I’m right on that edge where I experienced that,” Krzykowski told me. “Writing things down on a Post-it note and putting it in your wallet.”

But in the mid-2000s, MapQuest fell out of favor. Google Maps launched in 2005, and became available on mobile in 2007. You know how that worked out. (Although, incredibly, MapQuest still exists—and it’s profitable.)

“Now, I barely think about where I’m going and how I’m going to get there,” Krzykowski says. “I’ve just completely off-loaded that task.”

But that off-loading creates new ways for people to get lost. Perhaps people are less likely to get turned around on their everyday travels than they once were, but GPS isn’t perfect. Maps might not be updated with construction areas, for example, and location tracking can be laggy. How many times have you spun around on a street corner staring at your phone, trying to orient Google Maps’ little blue “you are here” dot?

Andy Lee, 42, the vice president and managing director of Asia/Pacific at Mapbox, a digital mapping company

I was leaving a meeting in Jakarta, and I gave myself two hours to go from downtown to the main international airport. I used a popular ride-sharing app. First, it took him about 30 minutes to get to me. On the map it looked like he was super close. But there was so much heavy traffic in downtown Jakarta, and when he made a wrong turn, he basically had to go half a mile, and then make a U-turn and come all the way back.

Then we go on the roads and it was apparent that the driver doesn’t often go to the airport, and so he wasn’t sure exactly how to go. He missed a turn because he was relying on navigation as well, and just interpreted it incorrectly.

We ended up in this side village off the highway. By the time we got back on, I realized that Jakarta has a new airport, and that terminal was actually half a mile away from the other terminal. The app will do a very quick auto-complete—I typed in CGK ,which is the code for the Jakarta airport, and I quickly selected it, but I didn’t realize it had picked the brand-new airport. So the driver got me to the new airport and then I realized that’s not the terminal I need.

We ended up on a dirt road, trying to get through this construction site, because the two airports weren’t perfectly connected yet. He literally was driving me through a construction site. I kept looking at my map and freaking out. The closest I could get is the parking lot of terminal one. There was still traffic all the way to the airport. I could continue to [try to] go there, or I could run through the parking lot to cut through the traffic, lugging my little suitcase with me. I opted to get out of the car and run through a parking lot. Bear in mind I was dressed for a meeting, not dressed to go lugging a four-wheel suitcase and a backpack. As a result of this little adventure through Jakarta, I missed my flight.

Even in a world that is more mapped than ever, maps can still betray you. Or, perhaps, people often disorient themselves through overreliance on these maps. “At the end of the day, with all this technology, global positioning, it’s still up to human judgment,” Lee says. “A map is still subject to human interpretation.”

Plus, GPS doesn’t reach every nook and cranny of the world. Not yet. There are still places where cell signal is poor, where maps have little detail.

“I live in Cherokee county. At my house, cellphones don’t work. On most reservations, there’s no cell coverage,” Kingfisher says. “When you get onto dirt roads, a lot of them just don’t show up on the map. That’s why I love rural America. Thank God there’s wild places.”

Even in more populated areas, there are places too small or detailed for digital maps to reach, but where a body can still get turned around, like parks, or buildings:

Katharine Harmon, 57, the author of You Are Here and The Map as Art

In the very northwest corner of Washington state are some islands, the San Juan Islands, and there’s an island called Lopez Island where I spend a lot of time. And in the center of that island is a forest. It sounds like a fairy tale. But anyway, this forest is well-known on the island, people get lost there a lot, and at some point they even put up some trail signs with these little symbols about which trail is the lightning bolt trail and which trail is the mountain trail and so on, but it didn’t help. People still get lost there. So sometimes if I’m going to go for a run or go for a hike there, I’ll say to my family, “Okay, I’m going to get lost!” And they know exactly where I’m going.

But one of the times I was with a friend there, we went late in the afternoon and I think we were there probably for three or four hours. We came out in the pitch black, and had to flag down a car to take us home because we were just absolutely exhausted. We didn’t even want to walk home. We [had] started running. It wasn’t so much that we were panicked, but it was starting to set in a bit. I think when you get lost and you're with somebody else, one person plays the role of being the one who keeps things lighthearted and laughing because the other one is on the edge of losing it. That’s my experience. I think it’s really different when you’re lost with another person versus when you’re lost alone. Because when you’re lost alone your mind has to play both roles somehow.

Matilda Kreider, 19, a political-communication student at George Washington University

In October I was interning for the Wilderness Society, so I was dropping off papers in the Senate offices, in the Russell office building. It’s a pretty complex building—it’s like a polygon with a courtyard at the center. So, a lot of hallways. And there are parts where you have to take an elevator up, get on another elevator and then go down just to keep walking on the same hallway.

I had finished my errand, but then I did another lap and realized I had passed Marco Rubio’s office again. And of course, that’s of note. That’s when I realized I’d been walking for a while and hadn’t seen an exit.

It was a situation where a map’s not going to help me because I’m inside a building. And I was too embarrassed to go into a senator’s office and be like “Could you help me find an exit?” I finally found a courtyard—it’s been an hour at this point—and I saw a door at the other side of the courtyard. I’m thinking, “Thank God, this must be an open courtyard.” I walk through it and all of a sudden I’m back inside the building again, because the courtyard’s in the middle. So I wandered and wandered and then found a security guard and said “I need help.” At this point I was laughing at myself because I’d been there an hour longer than I was supposed to be. But I escaped.

It feels to me less like digital maps are erasing the experience of being lost, and more like they are pushing it to the extreme ends of a spectrum, and flattening out the middle. There are the small ways of being lost that maps can’t help, and then there are the grand ways, which seem often to happen when people are traveling, and don’t have access to maps on their phone.

Chris Devers, a 41-year-old in Somerville, Massachusetts, who works in IT

This wasn’t necessarily the last time but it was the most memorable time. It would’ve been November of 2005. My wife and I were in Europe, and we were driving to Salzburg, Austria, trying to find our hotel for the night.

I speak a little bit of German, but not really, and she doesn’t speak any. I’m driving, she’s navigating, looking at the map on paper. We’re having trouble getting oriented on the map, and we keep going in circles. And it's been a while. Finally I’m like, “Where are you having us go, I don't understand, we keep going on the same street. And she’s like, “Well there seems to be something important up here.” We were following big prominent, signs, with big helpful arrows, saying go toward “Einbahnstraße.” And I’m like, “Einbahnstraße?” That means “one-way street”!

Pete Collard, 46, an architecture Ph.D. student in London

The last time was when I was in Baikonur in 2012. It’s a Russian town in the middle of the Kazakhstan desert. I was on a research trip with an architectural school; we were visiting some ex–Soviet Union industrial spaces. We’d been to Chernobyl, and we were going to Baikonur to go and see a rocket launch. The town was built for one purpose which was to send rockets up. It’s where Yuri Gagarin, all the Sputniks and everything went up from. So everything was built at the same time and everything looks the same and it’s also in the same condition of decay.

We arrived in the evening, and in the spirit of being in Russia, we were trying vodka and various other things. To the point that I missed the wake-up call the next morning, and everybody left to go on an excursion. I thought, that’s okay, I’ll go and explore the town on my own. But after a while I got a bit confused about my bearings because, as I said, everything looked exactly the same. And I didn’t see many people about. I had a phone, probably had an iPhone at that stage, but it wasn’t connecting to anything.

I got a bit paranoid. As a British citizen walking around what is still effectively a semi-military town, we had to get lots of permits and things to be there. If I did get picked up by the police or something, I didn’t speak any Russian, I couldn’t really explain where my friends were, couldn’t even remember where my hostel was. It was the middle of summer as well, so it’s baking hot. It was a Kafkaesque kind of experience.

It got to the point where I was thinking if I find our bus I will recognize the bus. So as I was walking around, I was looking for a white bus. It was almost like looking for a white rabbit or something, in Alice in Wonderland. After wandering around all day, by chance I found the rest of the group and the bus, they were swimming down by the river, looked quite surprised that I was so confused and desperately pleased to see them.

Even though it can be stressful, there’s still a romanticism attached to the idea of getting lost while traveling—the possibility of happy accidents, unplanned discoveries, and connections with strangers. Many people have bemoaned the death of this experience at the hands of smartphones and their maps, noting with regret that travelers now “choose efficiency at the expense of discovery,” as Stephanie Rosenbloom put it in The New York Times.

“Part of the fun of going to new places is getting lost sometimes,” Collard says. “The city sometimes reveals itself to you. But only if you’re willing to let it do it. You have to open up a bit and perhaps put your phone away.”

There is some magic in these moments. I do treasure the memory of my Big Mac–hunting guardian angel. But to whatever degree digital maps kill discovery (and there’s no way it’s 100 percent), they also provide a sense of safety and autonomy to people—especially women—as they move through unfamiliar environments.

Sommer Mathis, 38, the editor in chief of Atlas Obscura

I was 19 years old and this would be 1999, so long before I ever had a smartphone. I had been doing a study-abroad program for the summer in Paris, and my older sister decided to come visit me for a week and we ended up going to Amsterdam for the weekend together And then as soon as we got there, she came down with terrible bug and had a fever and really couldn’t do anything. She needed to stay in bed. But I was very excited to go explore the city. So one night I just left her in the hotel and went out on my own. Being that age and being American, I was not super used to being able to go to bars. And of course, also being in Amsterdam, I ended up being offered some marijuana. I had a little bit, and then I decided to take a walk. It’s maybe 9 p.m. or something at this point.

There are canals and there are a lot of little winding streets. A lot of the streets kind of look the same. At some point I realized that A) I had no idea where I was, and B) that I was inebriated, which was not helping. So I ended up stopping into some other bar and had a beer and this guy who was also sitting at the bar started chatting me up. I was trying to play it cool but very nervous and out of sorts. So this guy offers to buy me a beer and I’m like “I don’t know,” and then he kind of starts chiding me about not being friendly. I finally just explained to him, “I’m a little bit stoned and I’ve lost my way and I don’t know how to get back to my hotel.” And he’s like, “What hotel are you staying in?”

At this point I have a choice to make. I just decided that I needed help and used my best instincts about this person. So I told him what hotel I was staying in and he was like, “No problem, I know where that is. I’m walking in that direction, I will walk you back there.” And I’m like, “Okay.” I really felt totally helpless. But the whole time he’s walking me back to my hotel, I’m really kicking myself, like, “This is a ridiculous decision to make, I should never have done this.” But sure enough, he absolutely just walked me straight back to my hotel. But I remember that I didn’t know what was going to happen when we got back to the hotel, and was just very relieved that nothing happened.

“I can sympathize with that romantic notion that wandering in an unfamiliar place is great because you never know what you might stumble on,” Mathis says. “But in practical terms, as a woman who often is out walking alone, I do have my guard up. I have my city face on. And the technology that we have now does make me feel like I can be self-sufficient almost anywhere. And that’s something I value.”

Tausha Cowan, a 32-year-old communications manager and travel blogger at The Globe Getter, says she uses Google Maps “religiously” while traveling. If she suspects that somewhere she’s visiting won’t have internet service, she downloads offline maps.

“I’m all for wandering,” she says. “But what I can say for myself is it wasn’t a pleasant experience to feel truly lost. I’m definitely a firm believer in sometimes going off of a route, but maybe doing it with some safeguards, so if you feel like you’re in an uncomfortable situation, you have a way to get out quickly.”

There are many ways to be lost. Some have declined due to technology; others are newly born. But in every situation, to be lost is to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is frightening, often dangerous, but it also breeds connection—with people, and with places. The maps people carry in their pockets can be a barrier to that connection, but they are also safety nets. And it’s easier to take a leap if you know there’s something at the bottom to catch you.

18 Mar 13:07

I messed up at work and I’m so ashamed

by Ask a Manager

wow, alison just covered like a year's worth of therapy in this response

A reader writes:

I work in HR and I’m used to receiving mostly praise for my work, but today I was gently reprimanded for having been indiscreet. I immediately understood why, because I was aware that I had shared something I shouldn’t have. I was only trying to bond with someone who doesn’t seeem to like me, but it was so stupid. As a result of this, I have had to face the fact that I have a tendency to be careless about what I say and have decided to become more professional at work.

I don’t think my boss is actually mad at me, but I feel so ashamed and I worry that he will never fully trust me again. I’m having a bit of a crisis where I am admitting to myself all the other bad things I do at work. Like how I don’t always check things as thoroughly as I should, or how I’m too outspoken or just do things without asking permission. Because this behavior is usually either valued or not noticed, I am rarely corrected and I get very upset (in private) when I am.

Right now I just want to hide and never do anything that could cause negative exposure ever again. But should I? Every time I receive negative feedback I wish I was either one of those thoroughly decent and professionally brilliant people, or a really boring worker bee who never takes a short-cut or says something remotely controversial. And I swear to myself that I will be a bit of both, but then the humiliation fades and I find myself being my old untrustworthy, chatty self.

I guess I’m asking you how to be a better employee on a permanent basis. And if anyone in the comments section have had similar experiences, please share. I feel like a lonely failure.

That awful feeling you have right now is how people grow. You do something wrong, you feel horrid, and you resolve to do better in the future. Get rid of the horrid feeling, and you get rid of a lot of the impetus for growth.

That’s not to say that you should feel crushing shame every time you mess up! You shouldn’t. But if something was a genuinely big mistake, sometimes it’s reasonable to feel embarrassment and regret. You don’t want to dwell in that space for a long time, of course! And the way out of it is to decide what the lessons are that you’ll take forward with you, resolve to do better, and then forgive yourself. If you have trouble with the forgiving part, it helps to remember how human this whole cycle is — everyone messes up and everyone feels this way (except sociopaths or other deeply troubled people), and you get to move on once you’ve learned from it.

What I see in your letter, though, is a very unhealthy relationship with mistakes. You said you get very upset on the rare occasions you’re corrected. You feel like a failure. Making one mistake is causing you to dwell on all the other mistakes you’ve made. You’re ashamed and want to hide. But people make mistakes; you are human and you are not perfect and having flaws and messing up is part of the gig. The alternative is … what, you never do a single thing at work that requires your boss to ask you to do it differently? How realistic is that?

When someone gets very upset whenever they’re corrected, there’s always something going on that’s not about work at all (assuming those corrections aren’t constant or given in a mean way). Often it’s rooted in family of origin stuff — like you grew up in a house where approval was dependent on you being perfect or the consequences of messing up were inappropriate and scary. If as a kid it’s not safe to be flawed and if messing up is a Big Deal, that can wire you to experience it as big and scary as an adult too, even when it’s no longer warranted by your life circumstances. (More on this here.)

If you realize that your reactions to even minor criticism aren’t calibrated the way you’d like them to be — if they’re too intense, and if they’re causing you angst instead of helping you learn and grow — therapy can help you unravel what that’s rooted in and help you re-wire those reactions so you’re responding in a way that better serves you.

I know you were asking about how to be a better employee, and so maybe this answer feels like it’s gone off the rails. Fixing the way you respond to mistakes and criticism will make you a better employee; processing criticism in a healthier way will make it easier to learn from mistakes and to incorporate those lessons for next time (not to mention making your manager’s job way easier). But there’s so much more going on in your letter, and taking a broader view to what this is really about has the potential to bring you much more peace.

I messed up at work and I’m so ashamed was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

13 Dec 19:47

updates: the boss who dumps pee in the kitchen sink, and more

by Ask a Manager


It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

1. My boss pees in a cup and dumps it in the kitchen sink

No one has spoken up because they all say it’s their word against his. I only work one day a week as independent contractor so I can’t say anything. I guess it’s just something they are going to live with. But, when I am there we do eat in the conference room instead of the kitchen.

All the advice given was great and of course, it was right. Something should be done. It’s just so damn embarrassing.

2. My new company is all about the Law of Attraction and other pseudoscience

I am still at the same company, for now. Luckily, there’s not been too much activity on the Law of Attraction front. I never directly talked to my boss about how I felt about the woo. Something about it really seemed like a “this is what we’re doing, period.” I know others had originally expressed religious concerns, but “they eventually came around.” I mostly used the “wait and see” approach. We did have a day long seminar hosted by Jane with the whole office but it wasn’t absolute torture. I think those in charge have met with her personally multiple times over the last year, but it’s surprisingly started to fizzle out. It appears that a lot of these company initiatives are mostly talk.

However, all of this Law of Attraction stuff has seeped into management style – for example, my first real review. I was told I am super talented, do great work and my coworkers seem to enjoy working with me, but I wasn’t positive enough. If I didn’t shape up and become more positive, they would have to reconsider my position. So, uh… that was fun. My “positivity” hasn’t been brought up in any official capacity since other than an odd comment here or there, so I’m trying not to worry too much about it. It still hangs above my head like a Sword of Damocles. I do have clinical depression but don’t think I’m overly Eeyore…

Because of this and a variety of other reasons, I am making plans to leave but I don’t feel the urgent need to do so. Thank you again for all your advice. You’ve been a huge help over the years.

3. How to tell coworkers “you need to do that yourself”

Your scripts and the advice here worked beautifully. Mostly I got a lot of embarrassed and apologetic reactions from people who had been genuinely confused about the change. I also have had several very visible projects in my new role, which I think has helped with clarification. I also spoke with Robin and we agreed on an explanation of new job duties that we both would give when asked. A few of the worst offenders either moved on to new roles or have had other unrelated performance issues. If anyone complained to Lily, I never heard about it.

In not-so-great news, we are going through a reorganization and I was reassigned from Lily to one of her direct reports, Victoria. I like Victoria a lot and don’t foresee problems with her as a manager, but there is sort of a learning curve in figuring out what a new manager wants (I’ve reported to Lily for four years). There is also a push at higher levels of our agency to centralize my currently decentralized unit and in so doing, to put me back into a support role. It has been widely acknowledged that this is not because of my performance, which has been well above par according to them, but because my role doesn’t “fit in.” Lily created it for me and no one else here has one quite like it. Victoria and Lily both have promised to do everything they can to protect me, but I’m quite disheartened by these conversations and am experiencing a high level of anxiety when going to work.

Update to the update:

I’ve been assured that my going back to a support role is not on the table, regardless of what happens with the restructuring. I’m still feeling anxious and would like some answers about what I will be doing day to day in the new year (this has been an ongoing conversation for six months with no answers), but for now I’m trying to focus on things outside work until then. 

4. My coworker is badmouthing my work – and some of her complaints are true

My letter left a lot out for brevity’s sake. A lot of commenters criticized me for getting my lesson plans in Sunday night, but I do want to be clear that the latest I ever had them uploaded was on Sunday morning, and I included plans, Google slides, and all the copies/materials she would need. This particular coworker was responsible for a different subject, and while her plans were always early, they were so vague as to be virtually unusable. It wasn’t a great situation, in that no one had enough time to do everything we needed to. I sacrificed getting them in by the weekend; she sacrificed detail.

This past year was so much better. I moved to a different grade level, and while my team wasn’t perfect, we were a much better fit. They were very…flexible about lesson plans, shall we say. In fact, most weeks, I ended up writing lesson plans for all the subjects, and mine were of better quality than theirs (when they wrote them at all). It was a lot of work, but I really preferred it to getting badmouthed for my lesson plans while also having to use terrible plans from someone else, and no one cared that they sometimes got done on Sunday. We are technically required to write our own plans anyway, although pretty much every grade level team splits up their lesson planning by subject. I got a glowing evaluation from my coach, and my students made incredible growth, which put to rest my fears that I’m just a bad teacher and not cut out for the job.

I did talk to my former coworker about her concerns. A couple of weeks after my letter was published, I apologized for the way I handled lesson plans, using your script. She waved it off and said it was not a problem, we were all muddling through. I haven’t heard of any more complaints from her since then, and we’re still cordial when we see each other.

5. Company-wide thank-you writing (#4 at the link)

We had our third annual thank you card making session today. The CEO’s advisor left this year and I wasn’t sure about running the session by myself, so I posted on Slack asking if it was a thing people still wanted to do and got a really positive response and lots of offers to help. I’ve just gone down to the canteen to pick up the bag of thank you cards at the end of the day and it is STUFFED. I had 20 minutes budgeted for two colleagues and me to sort the cards tomorrow ready for delivery, but I think I may have underestimated!

updates: the boss who dumps pee in the kitchen sink, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

06 Sep 19:53

Beyoncé as 'Star Trek' Characters; (a "Thread")

by ajlobster
25 Jul 20:34

These Gay Wedding Photos from 1957 Offer a Mystery, Some History, and a Tribute to Heroes

by Tom and Lorenzo

It’s the kind of story tailor-made for social media in the modern day; a snapshot of the past, the hope of a happy ending, and a tantalizing mystery to solve, starring a cute, brave young man who dropped his wedding pictures off to be developed in 1957, because that’s what you did back then, when phones were bolted to walls and cameras didn’t have screens on them. But this being 1957 and the cute young man being queer, things did not work out.

“But the young man would never see them. That’s because the photos depict him in a commitment ceremony with another man, and unbeknownst to him, the store manager had a policy of withholding developed photos if he deemed them “inappropriate”—as he did these.

The photos, though, lived on because the manager of the shop had another policy: Staff were allowed to do whatever they pleased with confiscated pictures. An employee held on to the photos, which her daughter discovered in her Cherry Hill home 60 years later, after she passed.”

“In 2013, she sold the photos on eBay to a donor who later gave the photographs to the ONE Archives in Los Angeles and the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives in Philadelphia. Since then, the organizations have been looking for the grooms, their friends or family. In the photographs, the two men and their friends appear to be mostly in their twenties and thirties; if they are alive today, they would be in their eighties or nineties.”

Please go and read the whole story, because it deserves to be told and they’re trying to get these pictures seen by as many people as possible in order to find out more about these people. The pictures themselves aren’t just cute, or romantic or happy. They’re straight-up amazing and every person in them is a goddamn hero.

There’s so much to love about these pictures, so much to marvel at, to celebrate. Not just the love on display, but the friendship, support, and sense of family and community. How brave these men were. How much they must have loved each other. We’ve seen plenty of gay house party pictures from back in the olden days, but this gathering has none of the camp or silliness you often see at these gatherings. This is for real. These men are in love and their friends are here to help them celebrate that fact.



But we can’t not see the blinds. Those firmly closed blinds, with the night, the world, the eyes of outsiders, and the destructive force of the law on the other side of them. It may be necessary for us all to be reminded of something every single man in these pictures knew down into their bones: they were all deviants and outlaws, subject to everything from job loss to jail time to chemical castration for exhibiting same-sex tendencies or socializing with people who did. If someone decided to call the cops on this gathering, all of their lives could be ruined. We say this not to be total drags about it. Quite the opposite. We say this to elevate and celebrate each of these men for their bravery and sense of self, which allowed them to overcome any fears of retribution for living their lives truthfully. For white middle-class American men of the 1950s, the world was an enormous silver platter, heaped to overflowing with opportunities and possibilities. For these men, outside the safety of these walls, it was a world dead-set against them.

We hope these men are found or that we all get to find out more about them. It’s possible their time together was brief or ended badly. It’s possible they lived long and happy lives together. That’s pretty much the point of all weddings: the possibilities of the union. Outside of the hope of reuniting them with their pictures or allowing them the opportunity to teach us more about queer history, it doesn’t really matter if these pictures can serve up a happy, social media-approved ending. What matters is that these men loved; fiercely, bravely, and happily, in the face of an ongoing social genocide against them. Champagne toasts forever to this happy and brave couple.



[Photo Credit:]

The post These Gay Wedding Photos from 1957 Offer a Mystery, Some History, and a Tribute to Heroes appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

25 Jul 20:25

“Picard” Trailer – Captain’s Fashions

by chozzles


Those of you who have been with us for a while may know that, while we know and love all of the Stars Trek, our deep passion is for TNG. There are a lot of reasons why this is so, ranging from the clothes in TNG have a different level of pure-bonks than any of other series, to the fact that WE WERE RAISED ON THIS AND WE JUST LOVE IT.

So even as the franchise has been getting revived in different ways, while these new iterations were exciting, they weren’t quite hitting our sweet spot (well, I don’t want to speak for Anna, they weren’t hitting my sweet spot). 

That changed this weekend.

Damn right that’s a prime teaser, f*ck.

Trailers are actually kind of hard to examine fashions through, because there’s so much footage and its hard to get a good screengrab of things, so I’ve limited myself to taking a close look at the fashion that really matters: the Picardwear.

Spoiler alert: the watchword for this series is “practical comfort.” Okay, I don’t actually know how any of these costumes fit or feel, but considering the troubled past between Starfleet Uniforms and Patrick Stewart’s spine, I think we can all agree he’s earned some casual wear.


Heathered fabric for a Heathers-like shot

I’m actually a little ashamed to admit that I assumed that this was Data and then heard rumblings on the internet that it might be some other Noonian creation? I immediately looked away to avoid spoilers. But the real attraction here is this sophisticated looking blazer (I’m assuming its a blazer from the shoulders, but really, anything could be happening on the front of that thing). The fabric looks warm and welcoming, perfect for being comfy during those French vineyard winters, when the vines are leafless and the fog sits low in the orchard. Take special note of that collar, because, friends, we have a recurring theme.


Everyday Essentials by Starfleet

This I suppose isn’t that exciting, and in some ways the fit reminds me a bit of TOS-era clothing. That being said, I’m definitely getting season-7 Captain-isn’t-gonna-wear-no-red-no-more casual vibes. On the other hand, is that… a mock turtle?!


From the Under His Eye collection for Men

I’m sure it must just be a thing in future-fashion at the moment that costume designers believe that in the future all colors will be from the Crayola Bold Box, but this is actually a nice, cozy-looking burgundy sweater (to go with your glass of Bordeaux, way-oh!). Unfortunately we don’t get a head-on look at the garment, but whatever is happening in that ribbed collar region is intriguing and I have time for it. Is there a potential for a sexy partial unbuttoning?


Category is: Indiana Jones Grampa

I mean, slap a beat-up fedora on his head and hand him a whip and some sensible walking shoes, AMIRITE? We should all aspire to jobs where we can dress like this in our seventies.

Also this feels like as good a time as any to think about the circular nature of fashion, both how “late 20th/early 21st century fashions” are coming back into vogue in the Trek-verse, but also the idea that (maybe?) these costume designers feel the need to throw contemporary looks into futuristic stories. Are they worried the kids won’t be able to relate? Because I have definitely seen that sweater at Costco.


Desert-wandering is always business casual

Difficult to make out much here, but thank god he’s undone the top button. Also here’s hoping they’ve figured out sun-skin protection in the 24th century, because that dude is gonna have one rosy scalp otherwise.


Stick a top hat on him and hand him a walking stick, and he could be a friendly narrator for A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist

But maybe that’s more a function of Sir Patrick’s unstoppable Englishness. Anyway, this looks like the perfect thing to wear to get plastered at a hotel bar. The brickwork behind him makes me think we might still be in rural France, but those shoulderpads say business. Really solid shirt color choice (literally and figuratively).


Go Bold™, the new line of men’s adventure gear from Banana Republic

I actually really like this look—it’s my second-favorite of the trailer!—the divide between top and bottom on the jacket gives a soupçon of that TNG uniform vibe, while the asymmetrical collar says “It’s the future we do not give a f*ck.” That backpack could be saying “I’m about to trek through the jungle for a Louis Vuitton photoshoot” but it could also be “could I get my cappuccino with oat milk and the WiFi password?” I still have the Indiana Jones theme song stuck in my head, and now so do you. You’re welcome!


Yes, kids, I’ve been spending a lot of time with a woman called Indigo and we had the most wonderful weekend in Taos. I’m not trying to replace your mother, but Indigo makes me very happy.

This is the look that I’m living for. That comfy statement swear, complete with buttons that are almost never actually buttoned, but is still lightly quilted to keep off the chill. And while it fits into the muted rainbow of the future-fashion moment, it has a playful quality to it, which, I guess if I think about it, is what makes the TNG fashions the funnest to write about.

Okay, that’s it for now. But, with rumors being confirmed daily that other TNG friends are returning, I know that I, for one, am *very* excited.


I don’t know about Data but this really got my emotions chip fired up.

14 Jun 19:43

Seeing an Aurora From the Space Station


astro_christina is a solid IG follow

"Years ago at the South Pole, I looked up to the aurora for inspiration through the 6-month winter night." Aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Christina Koch snapped this image of an aurora.
06 Jun 14:19

Commandments of the Lord Who Created Meryl Streep

by Matt Whitaker

God is an Amy Adams stan
(click through)

Shouts & Murmurs by Matt Whitaker: “Do not steal money. Do not steal cattle. Do not steal focus from Amy Adams the way that Meryl did in ‘Doubt’ and ‘Julie & Julia.’ ”
03 Jun 20:16

J. Walter Weatherman: And that’s why you always leave a...


aaaaand scene.

J. Walter Weatherman: And that’s why you always leave a note.

Pier Pressure - 1x10

02 May 14:15

“Game of Thrones” Stars John Bradley and Iain Glen and the Battle of Winterfell for Esquire Magazine

by Tom and Lorenzo

cute idea for a shoot - it's like the opposite color palette of sunday's episode

“Game of Thrones” stars John Bradley and Iain Glen are featured in the latest issue of Esquire magazine photographed by Tyler Joe.




John Bradley aka Samwell Tarley


On Samwell Tarley deciding to fight in the Battle of Winterfell: “He wouldn’t have been able to live with himself if Jon or anyone else died while he was safe in the crypts.”

On the Episode 3 opening where Samwell Tarley sees the women and children going into the crypts and has to decide whether to join them: “In that moment he decides that these are the people he’s fighting for. He decides to fight for his own sense of duty. I think that’s a really powerful moment.”

On filming the Battle of Winterfell: “When you’re doing 60 night shoots and you’re going to bed at 6 am and waking up at two in the afternoon and going to work again, you feel that your entire body’s been affected on a molecular level because you’re completely separated from your real life. When you’re up and socializing, your friends are all in bed and the other way around. When your friends are up, you’re in bed. So you find yourself being completely cut off from reality.”

On his last scene in EP3 where Sam’s on top of a pile of bodies and the director’s note from Miguel Sapochnik that he’ll never forget: “He said, ‘it’s just going to be you and a stack of bodies, and I want you to get across in this shot that this is Sam thinking for the first time in this battle that he’s not going to survive this. This is the moment where all the fight goes out of your character.’ That was a really tough moment to film. We had been filming for a long time and we felt like it had really been starting to take its toll on us. We felt battle scared. I was leaning against bodies of people who presumably Sam had known. They were just stuffed dummies, but it was really an eerie moment, because you’re looking at dead human faces and hands, and it can have a visceral effect on you. It felt when I was filming that moment that it might be the most memorable moment in my entire time on this show.”

On not thinking he’d survive this episode: “For Sam, I knew how much potential he has to effect the outcome of this show, but I genuinely thought they were going to kill him halfway through the last season.”

On the upcoming finale conveying a similar sentiment to the Red Wedding: “One word that I always use to describe how people feel about the show is satisfying. Happiness isn’t something that this show goes about too well, because they’ve never bothered about keeping an audience happy. So when people say, ‘Am I gonna be happy with the ending?’ It’s like, well, maybe not. Because everybody’s got a different way that it wants to end. The Red Wedding is a hugely satisfying, dramatic moment, but you don’t want it to happen. And I think that with Sam, I’m happy with the ending, but mainly because I’m just satisfied with it.”

On Kit Harrington asserting that Joffrey and President Trump have a lot in common: “That is interesting because there’s a certain kind of weakness inherent in them both and I think there are a lot of similarities there. The thing about Trump and Joffrey is they should be the most powerful person there is, but they’re not. And they know that they’re not. And they’re worried about it. And when Joffrey says, ‘I am your king,’ and when Trump comes out with all of his bluster about, ‘I’ve achieved this and I’m the best this, and you’ve never seen anything like me before,’ you do get the sense that that’s coming out the mouths of people who are questioning their own power actually. And they’re worried that they’re actually not as powerful as they should be.”

On him and Kit realizing that their friendship has to evolve now that the show is over: “We started talking to each other about the nature of our friendship over the course of eight years. And just thinking, you know, it’s a good job that we’ve been friends because we work so closely with each other. If we didn’t get on, it would have been a nightmare to just see the face every day that you dislike…We were just talking about now that the show’s ended we don’t have a real structure to our seeing each other anymore. Now it’s a real test of all of those friendships.”

On GOT being both his first audition and his first show, similar to Kit: “Over the course of that first season, Kit and I really bonded over that, because we were able to work out that the other one was just as inexperienced as they were. I think that kinda set the tone for the rest of our friendship. The friends that you make when you are scared and uncertain and vulnerable, they’re the friends that you stick with, because you know that you can trust them and they know what’s going on under the surface.”

On Samwell Tarley representing a different kind of masculinity: “I just want people to see that there are different ways of doing things. A lot of those archetypes, especially in the current kind of political climate, a lot of those kinda toxic masculine archetypes are being ironed out…A lot of men probably want to think on some level that all men are like Jon Snow. They wanna think that a man is a man and a man will stand up for what he does. And a man will come out of the traps and do the job, but that’s not like most men that I know. Most men that I know are vulnerable a lot of the time and scared and some people don’t like to see that represented because it takes away from their fantasy of what they are and what a man should be.”

On the unexpected survival of Tarley through eight seasons: “I didn’t know how pivotal he was gonna become and I think that’s a good thing, because it’s a three-way kind of attack of surprise: the audience discovers how brave and worthwhile this character is over the course of the next eight seasons; I discovered it as an actor just how much this character is growing; and the character discovers it about himself.”

On Samwell Tarley being the in-book version of George R.R. Martin and whether they’ve discussed what that means: “I’ve not really had a conversation with him about it, no. I wouldn’t want to because I wouldn’t necessarily want it to be confirmed. I think it’s something to always strive for. I think you could kind of get crushed under the weight of it if you imagined if you are playing the part of this author, his avatar in the show.”




Iain Glen aka Ser Jorah Mormont


On his younger costars taking on their roles while still being children themselves: “It’s a great deal to take on when you’re that young. But they all seem to be managing incredibly well. And, if I’d been Kit’s age or Maisie’s age when I started, I certainly wouldn’t be complaining!”

On getting the better end of the stick with filming locations for GOT: “In the early seasons, I was part of the Dothraki/Daenerys storyline. We were always on the move, always traveling. But we were always coming into rather fantastic, gorgeous, sunny warm spaces. We were filming the bit that the crew always looked forward to each season, before they went back to shitty, wet, cold weather.”

On thinking Jorah wouldn’t survive the greyscale: “I thought my number was up. Creators] Dan [Weiss] and Dave [Benioff] really enjoy fucking with the actors—not giving them any sort of clues. So I asked them both individually, because I couldn’t get the answer. One of them said ‘I’m not saying.’ The other, when I said, ‘Do I survive the greyscale?’ said, ‘You do this season.’”

On Jorah’s love for Dany and how that sparked fan-fiction: “In a chaotic, mad, dangerous, and violent world in which people are generally out for themselves…the purity of his desire to support her—to be there for her—is a nice contrast to the rest of the show. For the first two, three seasons, it was about this desire to express that from his point of view, but never doing it.”

On the writers paying special attention to Jorah and Dany’s story: “I think they modulated their journey really beautifully throughout the seasons. I think they found a really compelling root through it, where for you, as an audience, it’s hard to stand from the outside. And I’m not the best person to ask, but people tell me, that you have such a mixture of emotions watching. At first you think, ‘Oh please, go on and say it!’ But then very quickly it’s, ‘Oh god! You shouldn’t have!’”



[Photo Credit: Tyler Joe/Esquire Magazine]

The post “Game of Thrones” Stars John Bradley and Iain Glen and the Battle of Winterfell for Esquire Magazine appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

25 Apr 18:08

Buster: Hey, Father-Uncle DadPrison Break-In - 3x07[ submission...


One of the best parts of GOT being back is that it means this blog is also back.

Buster: Hey, Father-Uncle Dad

Prison Break-In - 3x07

[ submission from Fiona Heeron ]

08 Apr 12:16

“Thor” Star Chris Hemsworth for Men’s Health Magazine

by Tom and Lorenzo

happy almost friday, my dears!

“Thor” star Chris Hemsworth covers the March 2019 issue of Men’s Health Magazine photographed by Steven Chee.



On creating Centr: “The whole thing was about not becoming stagnant. That’s when your emotional and physical problems occur, I think. I wanted to create something that embodied the three main elements of healthy living—the movement, the nutrition, and the mindfulness—and present it in a way that’s entertaining, functional, and also accessible.”

On how he’s grown to be more comfortable in his own skin over the past decade: “I’ve stopped trying to go, “Who do I have to be? What personality do I have to shape in order to succeed?” And just going, “Truly be yourself.” And that’s when things started to change; that’s when I felt happier. The real work is, who am I?”

On the stall in his career after 2009’s Star Trek: “I was about to quit. I always wanted to act, and one of the first things I wanted to do when I got any money was pay my parents’ house off. I’d asked Dad once when he thought he’d pay it off and he said, “Honestly, probably never.” I wanted to change that. So I was super active with auditions. And then my mentality changed, which came from being at a point where I was like, “I’m going to go back to Australia.” I had one more audition where I was like, “Do this for his house. Think about reasons other than yourself.” That was for The Cabin in the Woods, and I got that job, and from there I got Red Dawn. And then I got Thor.”

On whether he feels pressure to maintain the body that made him famous: “It comes hand in hand with the roles I play, but look, occasionally you’ll see paparazzi poking out of the bushes and you’re like, “How’s my rig look? Am I on point, or have I slacked off lately?” I maintain my fitness because it makes me feel better.

On whether he’d like to still play “the superhero” at age 50 like Jason Statham and The Rock: “It’s about whether the story interests me, to be totally honest. I grew up watching the Tom Cruise model of films that are fun, entertaining, and then squeezing in a few themes that speak to different parts of yourself, your personality, or your soul.”


[Photo Credit: Steven Chee/Men’s Health Magazine]

The post “Thor” Star Chris Hemsworth for Men’s Health Magazine appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

05 Apr 12:01

Why Is Stalking People on Venmo So Addictive?

by Madison Malone Kircher

Can someone who has their Venmo transactions default to "public" please explain to me why you would literally ever do that?? Maybe I am just An Old, but I was horrified when I first set up Venmo to see that there was even such a thing as a public feed where you could view other people's transactions. Nobody needs their business out there like that!

Get That Money is an exploration of the many ways we think about our finances — what we earn, what we have, and what we want.

My senior year of college, I dated somebody who then went abroad for a semester in Paris. Before she left, we cried a...More »

05 Apr 11:58

Gwendoline Christie WERQs That Iris Van Herpen Couture at the “Game of Thrones” Season 8 Premiere

by Tom and Lorenzo


Bow down to your queen.




We will not sully this moment with our words about how this represents a personal best for her in an up-and-down red carpet history. We we will not marvel at how well this suits both her and the event she’s attending. We will not focus on the shoes, which are pretty fabulous in their own right. We will not even spend time on how great her hair and makeup looks. And we will not linger on the puckering across the bust because Lady Brienne is well outside the incredibly limited sizing zone of ripped-from-the-runway fashion. No, kittens. We will not do these things. We will merely snap our fingers in Z formation and tell Her Majesty to get on with her WERQ.


Like so.



Style Credits:
– Iris Van Herpen ‘Shift Souls’ Printed Gown from the Spring 2019 Couture Collection
– Delfina Delettrez Jewelry
– Manolo Blahnik Shoes

Styled by Jerry Stafford

[Photo Credit: INSTARImages,]

The post Gwendoline Christie WERQs That Iris Van Herpen Couture at the “Game of Thrones” Season 8 Premiere appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

01 Apr 18:04

Inbox is signing off: find your favorite features in the new Gmail


Ughhhh. Anyone else as attached to Inbox as I am? I figured if there was a crowd for a "screw you google for killing a niche product that I love" complaint, it would be y'all...
I'm seriously going to need some developer out there to come up with #TheOldInbox for me. Despite what Google says in their "transition guide", reminders are going to be a mess, no one wants to use Google Tasks, and hinting that bundles *might* come to Gmail at some undefined future point doesn't help me now...

Inbox by Gmail has been a great place to experiment with new ideas like snoozing emails to later, as well as try the latest AI-powered experiences like Smart Reply, Nudges and high-priority notifications to help you stay productive.

Four years after launching Inbox in 2014, we've learned a lot about how to make email better—and we’ve taken popular Inbox experiences and added them into Gmail to help more than a billion people get more done with their emails everyday. As we look to the future, we want to take a more focused approach that will help us bring the best email experience to everyone. As a result, we’re planning to focus solely on Gmail and say goodbye to Inbox by Gmail at the end of March 2019.

We introduced the new Gmail in April this year, incorporating many of the same features you’ve come to love about Inbox plus newer features like Smart Compose, which helps you draft emails faster. Read more about how these features in Gmail can help you manage your inbox better in this post.

We know change is hard, so we’ve created a transition guide to help you switch from Inbox to the new Gmail with ease. All your conversations are already waiting for you in Gmail. See you there.

26 Feb 17:51

ask the readers: reply-all horror stories

by Ask a Manager

Yeeeesssss. Can't wait to open this up tomorrow and read the comments.

You’re at work and get an email about yet another team-building event and write back “kill me now,” intending to send it to your work friend, but accidentally hit reply-all … and now your whole team has it. Or you email your manager the many reasons why you disagree with a new process decision but accidentally reply-all to your whole department, making you look like you were trying to make A Statement when you weren’t. Or you mess up your email distribution list and accidentally invite 7,000 sailors to your New Year’s Eve party.

I want to hear about reply-all disasters — yours or other people’s. The worse, the better. Please share in the comments.

ask the readers: reply-all horror stories was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

04 Feb 16:05

On Quitting Google and Facebook

by Nicole Dieker

I am either on a plane right now or stuck in an airport, so while I’m traveling I’m going to suggest you read the three new articles in Gizmodo’s Goodbye Big Five series:

I Cut Facebook Out of My Life. Surprisingly, I Missed It.

The first day of the Facebook block is Halloween, which is particularly hard because I can’t post cute photos of my 1-year-old, Ellev, dressed up as Boo from Monsters Inc. (I ordered the costume on Amazon, of course, pre-block.) And I can’t find out what my friends are dressed as unless I individually text or email them, which is weird. The only people who get to see my family as Boo, James P. Sullivan (me), and Mike Wazowski (my husband) are the members of my extended family with whom we trick-or-treat, the strangers we pass IRL, my in-laws due to a photo sent on a group text thread, and a couple of friends to whom I text photos apologizing for the “bespoke sharing.” I have to admit that the enjoyment of a holiday dedicated to dressing up is somewhat degraded when not using Facebook’s apps.

I Cut Google Out of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything.

Going off Google doesn’t come naturally. In addition to mentally kicking myself every time I talk about “Googling” something, I have to make a “banned apps” folder on my iPhone, because otherwise, my fingers keep straying out of habit to Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Calendar—the three apps that, along with Instagram and Words With Friends, are in heaviest rotation in my life.

I Cut Microsoft Out of My Life—or So I Thought

Even though I don’t use any Windows machines, don’t own an Xbox, and don’t turn to Microsoft Office for document creation, the company still turns out to be tricky to block, not so much online, but in the real world, where Dhruv and his VPN can’t help me. In one surprise example, I run into the Redmond giant in my car—a 2015 Ford Fusion, which I have from a long-term rental service called Canvas. I’ve been driving it for weeks but only now notice a placard on the center console that reads, “SYNC, powered by Microsoft.” Turns out, Microsoft’s technology powers the car’s entertainment and navigation system, so I have to drive to work in silence.

If you haven’t already read the first installment in this series, which I shared as part of last Friday’s News Roundup, go back and read it too: I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash.

25 Jan 09:57

2018 McGingerbread Hell Competition Winners

Happy New Year, Folks! I’m pleased to announce the winners of this (past) year’s McGingerbread Hell Gingerbread House Competition!!

First off, I cannot find the words to say how much joy each and every entry to this competition has brought me. Every single one of the participants put their 100% best McMansion Hell face on and the results were charming, hilarious, and, if we’re being punny here, downright sweet. This may be the best idea this blogger has ever had. 

Second, let me say that the when I say the competition was fierce, I mean, it was fierce. So much so that I drafted the fellow judgement of two of my favorite colleagues, my literary agent Caroline Eisenmann, and fellow architecture critic/Editor of Chicago Architect Magazine Anjulie Rao to help me narrow the 43 contestants down to 8. 

Just a note: Last names of the winners have been abbreviated for privacy reasons. If you would like your full name to be published instead, please email with your preferred name. 

We’re going to start our line up with the 5 honorable mentions in alphabetical order, after which there will be a break to take those of you scrolling through this on the dashboard to the full article where the top 3 McMansions will be revealed. 

Without further ado… 

Honorable Mention #5 : Manoir de emporte-pièce by Anya D.

The judges were impressed by the whimsy, creativity and finely detailed execution of Anya’s house. Caroline summed it up best: “what else is a McMansion if not a bunch of smaller houses wrapped into one package?” 

Anya writes: 

Hi I’m Anya and I’m 12. I made my Gingerbread house from Gingerbread I mixed and baked myself. The house shapes came from a cookie cutter. It’s held together with royal icing frosting I made. The shingles are almonds and the house off to the side is the dog house and has candy dog bones on it. The “lights” on parts of it are candy balls. I hope you like it!

Honorable Mention #4: AMAZING Custom Home with Quality Features by Sydney E.

The judges were impressed by the house’s fine craftsmanship, attention to detail (especially the peppermint columns, the gumdrop crenellations, and the chandelier in the back) and great sense of humor. Anjulie remarked: “Love the inclusion of the nuclear family.” What really had us in stitches was Sydney’s wonderfully rich description, especially this part:

 “…You’ll know you’re living in the lap of luxury when you see the ENORMOUS GOLD CHANDELIER in the dining room. But it’s the ROOFTOP PATIO with no discernible purpose or point of entry that will really set you apart from your neighbors. “Hey, how did you get up there?” they’ll ask, but you’re not telling (mysterious!). The landscaping will make you feel like you’re in the countryside, in a sea of royal icing TURF GRASS (shown here, lightly dusted with coconut snow). The FOUR TREES on the property are either too far from the house to provide any shade (stately!) or extremely close to the house and actively obscuring at least one window (posh!). The entire house, the front walk, and the driveway are all bordered in royal icing ENGLISH IVY, which is definitely never going to be a problem for native plants (colonial!).”

Honorable Mention #3: Suburban Hobbit House by Jennifer K. & Cara M.

The judges were impressed by the difficulty of execution in Jennifer and Cara’s house, especially the dome, the cleverness of using almonds as cladding, and the hilariously barren “asphalt” lawn complete with soul patch. Kate remarked: “Pretty sure I saw this exact house in Bergen County, New Jersey.”

Jennifer and Cara wrote about their house: 

Made of solid gingerbread in shape of skulls (had the pans), graham crackers, lots of icing, nuts, chocolate, a candy cane, grape tic-tacs, decorator sprinkles, butter-rum Lifesavers, fondant, Tootsie Rolls, and a loaf of rosemary bread. Round center mass house with back porch nub, two wings, a charming turret. We totally meant for it to look this way.

Honorable Mention #2: European Charme by Núria O. 

The judges were very impressed with the fine detailing (such as the columns, balustrades, and front door), the crisp, clean execution of the design, and total commitment to the McMansion Aesthetic™ from front to rear, including the completely barren lawn. 

Núria describes the house in finely practice Realtor-ese:

Beautiful gazillion-square-feet chalet featuring lots of personality and European flair. This cozy 4-bedroom, 10-bathroom cottage is made of sturdy construction-grade tan-beige gingerbread from top to bottom. Roof plates are structurally tinted, not painted, ensuring a durable color that will last until the last crumble is eaten. Windows glazing is made of gelatine sheets coated with black-coloured blueberry jam to ensure privacy as you lounge by the bay window or enjoy the views from the beautiful faux-balcony. 

All doors are solid gum paste, with royal icing on all window frames as well as the balustrade. This home is ideal for entertaining, with its luxurious two-story entrance featuring genuine Spanish _neula_ columns with doric capitals, ornated pediment and a quaint half-tindered wall that gives true European _charme_. Utilities are housed in a lovely turret next to the service door. The garage accomodates two SUVs or six European sedan cars. The magnificent brown-sugar-paved front yard features icing plants and a signature landscaped crushed-sprinkle turf patch on cookie soil. The same type of grass was used in the large, sunny backyard which also has a patio area.

Honorable Mention #1: Existential Crisis on 34th Street by Caitlin R. 

The judges were very impressed by the house’s clever use of different baking materials and attention to detailing, especially in the icing work. Kate was especially excited by the rounded gingerbread turret, and Anjulie loved the “Existential Crisis” detail and monumental marshmallow columns. The description had Caroline especially in stitches.

Caitlin describes the house:

This nine-bedroom mansion is made from the most exquisite of gingerbreads. Lovingly handmade from scratch, and crafted by local artisans, it’s ready for your own sweet family. Grecian inspired columns impose your might on the neighborhood, while a pebble-clad tower with bay windows adds a touch of country charm. Architectural details include a ‘stonework’ wall and chimney, sweet dormer windows, and a luxurious back porch. A myriad of windows let light into this expanded historic house - the original building dates all the way back to 1982! Come by today, and soon you’ll be calling this three-and-a-half story, Greco-Chateauesque Italian Revival Americana, 18,600 square foot mansion - home!


It all comes down to this. It was stiff competition through and through, and the judges deliberated long and hard about who the top 3 spots should go to. Each house showed tremendous ability in craftsmanship, detailing, and McMansion Engineering. Without further ado: 

Third Prize: Saccharin Sanctuary by Christa H.

The judges were wowed by the amazing craftsmanship and attention to detail present in Christa’s house. Caroline was impressed by the use of Cinnamon Toast Crunch as shingling, Anjulie loved the jellybean stone accents, and Kate found the use of sticks of gum as fake-stucco siding to be very clever. The execution of the lawyer foyer, turret, and appropriately nonsensical rear exterior put this house in to the third place slot. 

Christa’s description, in perfect Realtorese: 

This fabulous 1.5 story house features a gorgeous columned entry, double garage, show-stopping turret, and the picture perfect back patio. Built from the finest gingerbread and white chocolate… you can be sure that this house has a superior foundation that you can trust for years to come. Jelly Beans, spear mint Lifesavers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Double Mint gum among other award winning materials make this house’s curb appeal unforgettable! List Price: 🍬574,900 
Est Mortgage: 🍬2,240/mo
Listed By: Sugar & Space Reality®️

Second Prize: The Hundred Thousand by Louisa G.

The judges were blown away by, as they say, the sheer size of this lad. The monumentality of such a massive roof must have taken some serious gingerbread engineering, all while perfectly encapsulating McMansion Roof Culture. The engineering, clean execution, attention to detail (millions of nonpareils!!), and true, well, McMansion-ness of this house vaulted (ceiling) it into 2nd place. 

Louisa describes the house thusly: 

The Hundred Thousand has no equal. This 37-piece towering gingerbread edifice was baked and constructed over four days during the heat of an Australian summer, by an Australian and a Finn, using a Finnish gingerbread recipe. Inspired by Mt. Nub, The Hundred Thousand boasts a porcine screaming porch, eight ahoy-mateys windows, a royally-iced gable front that almost but not entirely obscures the front door, and palatial grounds landscaped with topiary sweets, all topped off with a soaring roof tiled with hundreds & thousands. 

So many hundreds & thousands were used that the builders ran out of material - causing the construction project to grind to a halt for almost ten minutes, until the Australian’s father arrived with more much-needed building supplies. The Hundred Thousand was fixed together using high-quality caramel, and is internally braced by two large gingerbread cross-panels. This fantastic abode required nearly 2kg of flour and eight eggs (provided by the Australian’s chickens) and was constructed as large as the oven would allow, measuring a whopping 40 cm across on the front facade, and nearly 30 cm high. 

And finally, (DRUMROLL PLEASE)

First Prize: Casa de McGingerHell by Beth and Tina C.

From the moat, dome skylight, and lawyer foyer, to the rice crispy treat retaining wall, and chocolate rocks, this house, in the words of Caroline, was “truly next level.” The judges were blown away by the incredible attention to detail and clever use of different materials, specially the pretzel railing on the bridge, the marshmallow penguins, and we all freaked over those sugar glass and water elements. From the several different types of windows, bizarre massing, and three car garage, this house encapsulates the deranged opulence of McMansions in the sweetest way possible. 

Beth and Tina describe their house: 

Located centrally and literally dominating the entire living room, this McGingerMansion features over twenty handcrafted stained glass windows, a double sized garage, and three hand laid rock face walls! This gingermansion also has not one, but two incredible water features including a delightful frozen waterfall in the spacious backyard. Boasting several pre-decorated pine trees surrounding the property, this festive gingermansion showcases several dozen strands of lights and as well as a handful of charming wreaths. 

The one hundred percent genuine pretzel log deck overlooking the backyard is the perfect place to entertain friends and family alike, especially during the holiday season! Standing at just over a foot and a half tall, this truly massive gingermansion has a total composition of just over twenty pans worth of gingerbread. Call now to schedule a tour today; this gingermansion won’t last long! *Disclaimer: As required of us by law, we must disclose the presence of a minor pest infestation in the form of roughly a dozen cute, but possibly rabid penguins on the property.

On behalf of the judges and McMansion Hell, we would like to thank everyone who entered the competition for their amazingly wonderful houses, and for the funding from McMansion Hell’s Patreon supporters whose generosity made running the competition and supplying the prizes possible. 

Stay tuned for this year’s new and exciting McMansion Hell features:

- The conclusion of the 50 states, starting with Virginia next week. 
- A series of essays on kitsch
- Looking at McMansions decade by decades
- McMansions in film and media
- Updates on the McMansion Hell Book

If you like this post, and want to see more like it, consider supporting me on Patreon!

There is a whole new slate of Patreon rewards, including Good House of the Week, Crowdcast streaming, and bonus essays!

Not into recurring donations or bonus content? Consider the tip jar! Or, Check out the McMansion Hell Store ! 100% of the proceeds from the McMansion Hell store go to charity!

Copyright Disclaimer: All photographs are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, satire, and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107. Manipulated photos are considered derivative work and are Copyright © 2018 McMansion Hell. Please email before using these images on another site. (am v chill about this)

08 Jan 21:03

They lead exciting lives.

by yasmine

fully 2/3 of my instagram feed

They lead exciting lives.

21 Dec 17:05

my boss wants help with her dating app profile

by Ask a Manager

"she’s the director of HR"
AHAHAHAHA. EVERY damn time. why are they always HR people??

A reader writes:

My new boss started here in January. My coworkers and I are upset and concerned over her complete lack of boundaries. It hasn’t gotten better as time goes on.

I could write you a novel about all the stuff she does, but here are just a few examples to show what I mean:

* My boss told us she’s trying to lose weight. She said her goal is to lose over half her weight. She says my coworkers and I have to keep her accountable to make sure she stays on track. One time she was upset with the five of us for not “calling her out” when she had a doughnut with her lunch. If she strays off her diet, she expects us to say something to her. But when one of my coworkers saw her eating a chocolate bar and reminded her about her diet, she got upset with him. None of us are comfortable with this because we can’t win whether we say anything or not.

* Related to her diet, she told my coworker Jane to write down everything she eats and what she does at the gym because she wants to weigh the same as she does. Jane isn’t a dietician or personal trainer and she has no experience with this kind of thing. Jane told us she doesn’t want to do this but our boss won’t take no for an answer. She thinks it is off-putting and invasive. She’s mentioned shopping trips together when she loses weight.

* Our boss had a meeting with all of us because she wanted us to help her with her online dating profiles and wanted opinions from men on what she could do to make them more appealing. She’s asked us about this more than one time.

* Our boss, my coworkers, and I all live alone. None of us have any children or dependents. One of my coworkers, Mark, has a girlfriend, the rest of us are single. Mark is moving in with his girlfriend next month. When our boss found out, she hid in her office for the rest of the day. At one of the mandatory after-hours bar trips she puts on for us, she cried and said Mark was breaking up our “single people’s club” and said over and over that she didn’t know his relationship was serious. She talks all the time about wanting marriage and kids.

* She has all our personal phone numbers and calls us at home after work and on weekends.

She should know better because she’s the director of HR. I could make a list of all the ways she crosses the line. If anyone says anything to her or doesn’t do what she wants, she gets upset.

She calls us her family and as you can see from the examples above, she gets way too personal with us. It is way over the line. No one is sure about going over her head to her boss because she reports to our VP of Operations. I have talked to my coworkers and no one wants to get fired for standing up to her or saying no. She doesn’t like it when we don’t go along with her.

I answer this question over at New York Magazine today. You can read it here.

my boss wants help with her dating app profile was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

12 Nov 20:10

WERQ BITCH: Ezra Miller in Moncler at the “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Premiere

by Tom and Lorenzo

best viewed in dark mode, obviously...although if you're in dark mode you won't be able to read this, so...

















What? You expected commentary? Darling, Ezra IS the commentary. We, bitchy fashion bloggers who’ve spent years imploring actors to stop dressing like they work in offices and embrace the fact that they’re artists, can do nothing but bow down at the sight of Monsieur Miller’s “Missy Elliot Models House of Vader Couture” lewk. It is nothing less than a Supreme Queer Fashion Moment.

For real, though. If we can get semi-serious for a sec, we would absolutely rate this near the top of Queer Style moments in history. It won’t change anything about how men dress but it’s not meant to. It’s absolutely one queer person’s take on how they want to own an event by being as out-there and focus-pulling and challenging as they can allow themselves to be. This may seem silly and it’s certainly worth cracking a joke or two over (we think even Ezra would agree with that), but it’s also a form of high red carpet performance art, brilliantly executed. Eternal respect, kid.




Style Credits:
Moncler 1 Pierpaolo Piccioli Puffer Coat with Matching Hood and Gloves from the fall 2018 Collection

[Photo Credit: INSTARImages, Courtesy of Moncler 1 Pierpaolo Piccioli]

The post WERQ BITCH: Ezra Miller in Moncler at the “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Premiere appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

25 Oct 15:51

50 States of McMansion Hell: Ohio County, West Virginia


The vibe of this house reminds me of a shopping mall I once visited in rural Pennsylvania that was like 65% abandoned.

Howdy folks! I’ve decided to go a little out of order here and get right down to West Virginia. Things have been a bit bleak lately to say the least, and I wanted to share with you a house that pretty much captures the national mood:

This 6 bed, 6 bath brown “contemporary” (contemporary is realtor speak for a house that doesn’t have any shutters) boasts a whopping 6900 square feet and was built in 1993. It can be all yours for around $850,000 USD!

Tort Lawyer Foyer

As we can all see, we’re starting pretty early on with the dreary vibes this house has to offer. This is probably the dreariest lawyer foyer I’ve ever seen, but to be fair, there are some pretty dreary lawyers out there and they deserve representation too. 

Formal Room In Which The Family “Sits”

Every decade or so there’s some uncomfortably commodified idea of “Asian” decor that becomes popular, but nothing beats that time in the late aughts where HGTV did those hmmm “feng shui” shows. (if you are an academic writing about material culture, this would be a really interesting paper topic.)

Dining Room

I would have a china cabinet and fill it with all my silly knick knacks. As someone with a chronic case of the “oopsies” i will never have expensive china. 

Living Room

hi mom love you


I swear I’ve seen those chairs in like a Boston Market or something. What’s funny about 90s beige is that it’s more gray-tinged (i.e. ‘cold’) which makes it slightly more dreary, whereas 2000s beige is more yellow-tinged (i.e. ‘warm’) and is more mindnumbing. Beige, you see, is a spectrum. 

Master Bedroom

Strange that these folks don’t have a little side table or anything to put their phone on before going to bed. even if they’re analog folks, where are y’all gonna put your alarm clock?? on the floor?? i have Questions?

Master Bath

Cell phones definitely killed the intercom market. Generations of wealthy pranksters have been denied the opportunity to harass an entire household of people at once. It’s okay though, they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes anyways by, like, controlling the whole economy and government and stuff. 

Bedroom 2

(TED Talk voice): There is the “sincere” market for home goods, and then there is the shadowy “irony” market, which poses a strategic problem for design and its investors. 

Bathroom 2

rip beige toilet. u taught me it was ok to be weird.

Hobby Room

ha ha it’s great to do jokes when all i want to do is hide under the covers and sleep away the uncertainty and fear


This is like one of those hacks in video games that lets you dual wield swords or something. (dual wielding living rooms with identical microfiber sectionals is not as cool, admittedly)

Well, (fortunately? unfortunately?) we’re out of rooms, so, without further ado: 

Rear Exterior

it is rumored that “computers” may be involved, at this very moment, in the act of “posting”

Anyways folks, that’s it for West Virginia. Up next, Vermont! We’re almost done with the 50 states, folks, and I’m so excited, personally because that means I don’t have to have a tab permanently open that lists them in alphabetical order because no, i didn’t learn the song, sorry. 

Final thing, I know that this might not be up everyone’s political alley, but I wrote this heartfelt personal essay about traveling along the New Jersey Turnpike and trying to reconcile the landscapes of climate change. 

If you like this post, and want to see more like it, consider supporting me on Patreon!

There is a whole new slate of Patreon rewards, including Good House of the Week, Crowdcast streaming, and bonus essays!

Not into recurring donations or bonus content? Consider the tip jar!  Or,Check out the McMansion Hell Store ! 100% of the proceeds from the McMansion Hell store go to charity!

Copyright Disclaimer: All photographs are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, satire, and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107. Manipulated photos are considered derivative work and are Copyright © 2018 McMansion Hell. Please email before using these images on another site. (am v chill about this)

18 Oct 15:38

Cate Blanchett Covers W’s “The Female Gaze” Special Issue

by Tom and Lorenzo


Cate Blanchett covers W’s “The Female Gaze” special issue photographed by Jackie Nickerson, Alex Prager, Rineke Dijkstra, and Shirin Neshat and styled by Sara Moonves. A special issue photographed, styled, written, and directed by women, about women.





Style Credits:
1st Cover: Martine Rose Trench Coat
2nd Cover: Victoria Beckham Coat
3rd Cover: Alexander McQueen Dress

[Photo Credit: Jackie Nickerson, Alex Prager, Rineke Dijkstra, Shirin Neshat/W Magazine]

The post Cate Blanchett Covers W’s “The Female Gaze” Special Issue appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

17 Oct 14:46

First Look: Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great in the Upcoming HBO/Sky Miniseries

by Tom and Lorenzo

YASSS, EMPRESSSSSSSS. We don’t have much to add, since it’s just one shot and a press release, but we’re always thrilled when Queen Helen of the island nation of Fuckinfantastica gets to play an actual queen on film. Can’t wait to see her be all imperious and difficult in enormous dresses, which sounds like a lot of fun, now that we’ve described it that way.

Monsieur Press Release would like to say a few things now. Please gather quietly to listen to what he has to say.

Set against the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of Russian empress Catherine the Great, who wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century, the limited series follows Catherine towards the end of her reign during her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together serving as the architects of modern-day Russia.

Currently shooting in palaces and sets across Russia, Latvia and Lithuania, this four-part miniseries will chart the latter years of Catherine’s 34-year reign, as she builds Russia’s reputation as one of the great powers of Europe.

Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great, the Russian Empress who was strong-minded, independent, brilliantly intelligent and sexually liberated — the definition of the modern woman.

Jason Clarke as Grigory Potemkin, a Russian military commander who became Catherine the Great’s lover, favored statesman and life-long friend.

Joseph Quinn as Paul, Catherine’s son and heir.

Gina McKee as Countess Bruce, Catherine’s lifelong friend and confidante.

Rory Kinnear as Minister Panin, a skillful politician, advisor and governor to Catherine’s son.

Richard Roxburgh as Grigory Orlov, one of Catherine’s former lovers, who helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power.

Kevin R. McNally as Alexei Orlov, who, with his brother Grigory, helped orchestrate the coup that brought Catherine to power.

Sam Palladio as Alexander Vasilichikov, Catherine’s young lover.



[Photo Credit: Hal Shinnie/HBO]

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06 Oct 21:24

BET Awards 2018: Happy PRIDE from Space Queen Janelle Monáe

by Tom and Lorenzo

Bow down to your queer queen from outer space.



A look like this one doesn’t really lend itself to any sort of fashion critique, because traditional modes of style are not as important as the message and the high-impact way it’s being delivered. Which is a nicer way of saying that we LOVE the rainbow skirt but find the fuzzy bathing suit bodice to be little more than an afterthought. And while both the hat and the flying saucer clutch are fun (the former being something of a Janelle trademark item), they’re not what we’d normally consider well-chosen accessories for this particular dress.

But like we said, traditional critiques don’t really apply. Queen Janelle of Planet Pride has alighted and we should be spending more time supplicating ourselves to her fabulosity and less time nitpicking it.



Style Credits:
Nicolas Jebran Rainbow Tiered Dress from the Spring 2018 Collection
Judith Leiber Flying Saucer Clutch with Lights
Tiffany & Co Jewelry

Styled by Alexandra Mandelkorn | Hair by Nikki Nelms | Makeup by Jessica Smalls

[Photo Credit: INSTARImages,, Courtesy of Nicolas Jebran]

The post BET Awards 2018: Happy PRIDE from Space Queen Janelle Monáe appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

06 Oct 21:23

The “Game of Thrones” Cast Came Out for Co-Stars Rose Leslie and Kit Harington’s Wedding

by Tom and Lorenzo

ALL OF THIS IS THE BEST, especially soph and mais giving us "ab fab: the college years", and perfect kilted richard madden just about made my heart stop :-O

We’re not the types to swoon over weddings, but the pictures coming out of this one make it seem like an uncommonly fun and high-spirited affair. There’s just something hilariously appealing about a bride who can’t stop grinning and laughing like all of this is just the craziest shit she’s ever seen.

Honestly, we’re not such assholes as to sit on the sidelines of a wedding, judging everyone in attendance for what they’re wearing – unless there’s royalty involved and then all bets are off. Bottom line, everyone looks pretty, stylish and ridiculously happy in these shots. Feel the love, darlings.



Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams



John Bradley



Emilia Clarke



Peter Dinklage



Ben Crompton



Liam Cunningham



Richard Madden

But if YOU would like to judge everyone involved, by all means, don’t let our kind hearts stop you.



Style Credits:
Elie Saab Dress from the Spring 2018 Bridal Collection [Not exact match in the gallery]

[Photo Credit: INSTARImages, Courtesy of Elie Saab]

The post The “Game of Thrones” Cast Came Out for Co-Stars Rose Leslie and Kit Harington’s Wedding appeared first on Tom + Lorenzo.

03 Oct 18:35

Online dating study quantifies what’s ‘out of your league’

by Kate Furby

oooof. what do you guys think happened with the woman who got 1,500 messages in a month? to me that sounds like some kind of doxxing/attack rather than her being super "desirable"...

People send dating app messages to potential mates who are 25 percent more desirable than they are.
03 Oct 18:14

Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Drops a Creepy New Poster and Trailer

by Tom and Lorenzo

T Lo’s favorite pretend-niece is turning out to be a real witch.





We’ve seen the first few episodes already and we’re not allowed to say much until the embargo lifts, but the look of the series, as you can tell from this teaser, makes it feel like the perfect Halloween-week binge. It very much has the look and visual language of some classic gothic horror from the late ’60s and ’70s, which makes it a real treat to look at. And yes, as should be clear by now, this is not going to be anything at all like the ’90s sitcom based on the same character. We’ve said it before: this is the age of the powerful, pissed-off woman in pop culture and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina looks to be right in line with the zeitgeist.


Chilling Adventures of Sabrina imagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, this adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.

Cast includes: Kiernan Shipka, Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, Ross Lynch, Michelle Gomez, Chance Perdomo, Jaz Sinclair, Richard Coyle, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Abigail Cowen, Lachlan Watson, Bronson Pinchot, and Gavin Leatherwood. Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also serves as chief creative officer of Archie Comics, penned the script for the series. Aguirre-Sacasa executive produces alongside Riverdale collaborators Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater and Lee Toland Krieger. The drama hails from Warner Bros. Television-based Berlanti Productions.






[Photo Credit: Netflix – Video Credit: Netflix via]

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