I had plenty of time to cool my heels in airports this last half month — plenty — and read mad amounts, including some interesting pop cult talk in The New York Times. Some highlights:

Yes to this. You want to improve your experience of reading a book? Hit that thing the way you’d hit a new season of Stranger Things if Netflix dropped it tomorrow. Figure out how many pages you can read in, say, 45 minutes. Then, next time you sit down with the book, try and read that many pages before you look at your phone again. The more time and energy you can give to a novel,, the more the mental effort melts away, and the story comes roaring forth, with a cast of thousands and no budgetary limits on the SFX.

Here’s some good talk about Avengers: Endgame, and the way the superhero film has become an invasive species that has driven most of the other fish out of the theatrical pond. I am myself a guy who loves the superhero genre and I’m blown away by what has been accomplished in just over a decade of films set in the MCU. Is it the best franchise ever? Isn’t it? Remember, we’re talking 22 films here; Bond has had 24 films, but it took him 50 years to get there, and, like, half of ‘em are really cheesy. Endgame is a sublime bit of closure, the ending we hoped for but didn’t quite dare hope we’d get.

Stilllllll…. Manohla Dargis has a dark spin on the MCU which I thought was worth a look. Cause, like, what are these films really about? Don’t they sort of celebrate the idea of an unelected high-powered elite — people with access to limitless wealth and bottomless governmental resources — using science we don’t understand to solve problems too overwhelming for an ordinary person to comprehend? They have dick measuring contests that leave cities and nations in ruins, but they walk away without one lock of hair out of place. The subtext here is that we should be happy to turn our power over to the 1% — Bezos, Zuckerberg, Trump — and be grateful they don’t reduce our planet entirely to cinders.

Okay, maybe — MAYBE — that’s overthinking it. (My wife says they’re delightful action-comedies that give folks some desperately needed wish fulfillment. Sometimes, the most generous take is also the most accurate one.)

The online YA community has become a realllllllly fucked up place. But you knew that. I… just don’t think a couple hundred people ganging up to destroy a first novel (and crush the novelist in the process) before the book is even released is healthy literary criticism. Remember when everyone was getting off on the idea of wiping out the literary gatekeepers and ushering in a new era of free expression? Turns out the Internet is waaaaaay more repressive than your average publishing house.