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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 22 June, 2018

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Love letter ghostwriter

Bonnie Dowling was a love letter ghostwriter, who answered an ad on Craigslist and found herself writing romantic missives for lovelorn people. Here’s how she did it:

(The Awl– approx 10 minutes reading time, 2002 words)

Could she tell me about a private joke between them, a special phrase, even if she didn’t want to tell me what it meant? She shrugged. And then something shifted and she said she was in love with her friend, had just realized she was gay, and she didn’t know how to tell anyone, especially the most important person.

2. Playing gender judo

Joan C Williams writes about whether women need to practice ‘gender judo’ in the workplace, saying she believes women “have to behave in ‘masculine’ ways to be seen as competent”, but “are still expected to be feminine”. Can they balance between the two?

(Washington Post – approx 9 minutes reading time, 1970 words)

Powerful women often take feminine stereotypes that can hold women back — the selfless mother and the dutiful daughter, for example — and use those stereotypes to propel themselves forward. I call it gender judo. The martial art of judo, which means “gentle way” in Japanese, focuses on using your opponent’s momentum to overpower him.


Pic: Chris Ison/PA Wire.

3. Losing a $50k Twitter name

Naoki Hiroshima tells us the story of how a man lost his Twitter name, which he says was worth $50,000. It happened, he says, due to an attacker who accessed his accounts. (Hat-tip to Paul Fitzgerald)

(Medium – approx 9 minutes reading time, 1824 words)

The attacker tried to reset my Twitter password several times and found he couldn’t receive any of the reset emails because it took time for the change of my domain’s MX record, which controls the email domain server. The attacker opened issue #16134409 at Twitter’s Zendesk support page.

4. The secret life of Johnny Lewis

Bill Jensen writes about Johnny Lewis, a talented actor who met a sad and tragic end. It transpired that Lewis had a secret life that contributed to his sad death.

(LA Mag – approx 26 minutes reading time, 5287 words)

About 30 minutes after meeting Lewis at his door, Blackburn heard his wife, Gloria, anxiously calling for him. He rushed outside to find Lewis on top of the housepainter, pummeling him with his fists. The worker’s face was covered in blood. Specks of it were landing on the actor’s body. Blackburn stepped in to pull the five-foot, ten-inch Lewis off the painter, grabbing him by the shoulder and yelling at him to stop. In one motion Lewis leaped to his feet and slugged Blackburn, who is in his seventies, in the eye, knocking him to the ground.


A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine. Pic: AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman

5. Revolution in Kiev

Ilya Varlamov took to LiveJournal to share photographs and his experiences of the unrest taking place in Kiev.

(LiveJournal– approx 15 minutes reading time, 3078 words)

The authorities turned several water cannons at the demonstrators. Surprisingly no one is afraid of the water. This scout is climbing a balcony to see what’s behind the smoke screen. The drenched people dry at the campfires. And some just walk around wet. There’s an incredible atmosphere here: on one hand you can feel the weariness of the frustrated people, on the other hand euphoria and expectation of victory. In such light, no one is paying attention to wet clothes. Only medic volunteers ask people to go warm up to avoid frostbite.

6. Murder in 48 Hours

Terrence McCoy and Craig Malisow write about The First 48, a TV show that looks at the first 48 hours of a police investigation. They argue that if you’re charged with murder on the show, ‘you’re guilty for life – even if you’re innocent’.

(Houston Press – approx 21 minutes reading time, 4282 words)

Unfortunately, God subsequently dropped out of the investigation, and the three alleged eyewitnesses recanted. But not until after Coker spent nearly three years in jail. The recantations, along with the fact that prosecutors withheld police reports from Coker’s attorney showing that investigators had information on another suspect, led the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to drop the charge.



File. Pic: AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan

In 2000, Rian Malan told the story of a song many of us will know as ‘Wimaweh’, or ‘In the Jungle’. He traces its history back to 1939, when it was written by a man called Solomon Linda… who died a pauper despite the popularity of his composition.

(Rolling Stone – approx 53 minutes reading time, 10793 words)

Its epic transcultural saga is also, in a way, the story of popular music, which limped pale-skinned and anemic into the twentieth century but danced out the other side vastly invigorated by transfusions of ragtime and rap, jazz, blues and soul, all of whose bloodlines run back to Africa via slave ships and plantations and ghettos. It was in the nature of this transaction that black men gave more than they got and often ended up with nothing.

Interested in longreads during the week? Look out for Catch-Up Wednesday every Wednesday evening.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by >

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