It’s Time to Talk About ‘Snowpiercer,’ the Best Action Movie of the Summer

Do you poop when you only eat cockroach blocks?


Chatting with a Writer-Producer of ’90s TV

Working with Dick was kind of surreal — he kept asking me things on the set like “Is this funny?” and I’d nod like an idiot. I mean, who am I to tell Dick van Dyke something he came up with wasn’t funny?


Chatting About Tuna Noodle Casseroles, Jell-O, and the American Iron Housewife

Ester: Hello!

Meaghan: Hi. Happy Friday. Did you do your 1 Thing yesterday, which was to cook?

Ester: I did, actually, Accountability Partner! Thanks for asking. The casserole came out nicely, but, I don’t know, a little on the bland side? I’ve never made tuna noodle anything before; I guess it’s supposed to taste like comfort food. Have you had time to cook at all, what with the new baby and your crazy family hanging around?

Meaghan: Ha, you mean my crazy family whom I love and adore in case they are reading this? A little bit! I kind of got in the bad habit of not cooking when I was pregnant, and generally not doing anything because I was growing a human, DAMMIT, so I am trying to become a contributing member of the household again, which is weird!

Ester: Oh, pshaw, don’t bother. You’re contributing! You’re feeding / holding / bonding with THE BABY, to whom you are sun and earth combined. You are Gaia, mother of all things. Gaia don’t cook.

Meaghan: Ha, my boobs are his sun and earth combined.

Ester: Right, one boob is sun, one boob is earth.

Meaghan: Scarily accurate. HA! Okay but my question is why did you want to cook a tuna casserole? That is amazingly nostalgic. I have never made one but definitely ate them as a child.

Ester: See, I never ate them as a child. My mom didn’t believe in that kind of food.


From the Other Side of the Tracks to the Tenure Track: Chatting with a Humanities Prof

My family has been the key reason I’ve always been able to push myself forward. They always tell me how proud they are of me, the way I stand up for myself, resist what people try to convince black girls they should believe about themselves


Why We Are Moving To Canada This Week

This should go well. Let’s talk about health insurance.


How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing

He doesn’t need my money. The church will continue to exist without my measly portion of income. But my heart needs to give it.


The Cost of Things: Supporting Podcasts, Radio, & Friends

Mike: “I don’t want your money! Keep your money!” Ester. I can’t get that song out of my head—it’s stuck. It’s from 21 Chump Street, from the This American Life musical that just went up earlier this week.

Ester: That’s hilarious, MD. I haven’t listened to it yet but I’m highly susceptible to earworms so I’m sure that once I do I too will suffer from your malady.

Mike: So, it’s from their live show, and they have a video you can download if you want, and yes, I wanted it. The cost of it was $5, but they said that since the show was so expensive to make it’d be great if you could pay more. So I paid $20.

Ester: That’s great of you! Did you consider waiting to see how much you enjoyed the content before deciding how much to give them in exchange for it? I just signed up for Slate Plus, where you pay the site $50 a year or $5 a month to get upgraded content — podcasts without ads, for example — but that was after years and years of reading and listening to Slate content gratis. Their value had already been demonstrated.

Mike: I decided that $20 was a fair price to pay for something I listen to on a weekly basis and want to continue to support, so I paid it without waiting to see if I liked the video itself.

Ester: Right, that makes sense. You’re not paying for the video, after all; you’re rewarding them for their track record. I have done that too for TAL specifically. (I’m a radio dork.) But do you have other podcasts that you listen to and like and haven’t contributed to, even though they’ve asked? What’s your criteria for deciding which listening experiences to support?


Budgeting for Vacations, Other People’s Weddings, and Other Summer Stuff (Yay Summer!)

Mike: So Ester, it officially feels like summer! Maybe because it was 90 degrees the other day (but I still haven’t put in my air conditioner, perhaps to Josh Michtom’s delight). But I will! I did it in July last year.

Ester: We haven’t either! I always hold out ’til the last possible moment, til I feel like a wax person whose own skin is melting off my body. For environmental reasons.

Mike: I guess for me it’s part environmental reasons, but also because I don’t think it’s so terribly hot yet? I’m also not home very much, so that may be one reason. I’m at the office right now, and it’s usually on, but it’s quiet here today so I have turned off the a/c and opened the windows. It’s below 80! Who needs it? Okay, so, the thing I wanted to ask you is whether you have summer travel plans and if you planned for it financially in advance.

Ester: Last summer, as you may recall, my husband Ben, babygirl and I decamped for seven weeks — we stayed in Vilnius, Lithuania, in an AirB&B that thankfully did not burn down (the Lithuanian rain would have taken care of that right away anyway I guess), in a couple different places in England, and then in a family friend’s house in Spain. That was pretty amazing — and kind of ate up our travel budget for two years. So we don’t have anything planned for this summer, really, except to figure out how to have, entertain, and enjoy time with a kid in the heat without leaving NYC. How about you?

Mike: I have a savings account through Ally that is specifically for vacations. I just checked and there is $400 in it.


What It Costs to DIY A First Book Tour

People take you seriously in the business world only when you take yourself seriously. By pouring my money and my life into this book tour, I was merely being my own best boss.


Talking to Oni Hartstein About Cars That Don’t Stop

For today’s Friday Chat, I caught up with my friend Oni Hartstein, artist, writer, theme park expert, and co-founder of Intervention, a three-day festival of independently produced creative awesome in the internet age. (I’ve been part of Intervention every year since its founding. This year it’s in Rockville, MD on August 22-24. You should totally go.)

Nicole: Oni, what are you thinking about re: money today?

Oni: Mostly my car. It’s a used car that had a lot of trouble this week. It seems OK now but it makes me nervous. As a self-made artist and convention owner I don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to funding forward momentum. And we both know that when it comes to starting things you need to be able to fund it one way or another.

Nicole: YES this this this.

Oni: Basically I am glad that the car didn’t cost me too much money – this time…

Nicole: So how much did it cost you?

Oni: I’ve been told it’s less than $400 which is good. Harknell is out speaking to the mechanic now.

Nicole: Oh, wait, you mean the repairs. The actual car did not cost you $400. Got it. Still, $400 that you aren’t expecting SUCKS. I would have it in my bank account right now but I would also have to freak out and rearrange all my spending for the rest of the month.


A Nanny (BA, MSW) Chats about Psych Grad Programs, Zigzagging Through Life

I was socialized to be a super achieving person who does great things and makes lots of money. I was one of the “smart” ones in my class, so I thought I had to be a doctor. I never really considered anything else until I went to college. And then I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor, but maybe a teacher (there’s my gut!). But my parents said something along the lines of, “We’re not paying for you to go to Cornell to be a teacher.”


“Mole Man”: On Five Months of the Night Shift

A friend of mine recently completed five months working the night shift in a Manhattan office. This week was his first of working full-time during normal business hours. I checked in to see how he felt.

Ester: How’s it going, Mr. Daytime Man?

Adam: Hello! Yes, here I am. It’s a little hard to focus. Lots of people around. Also the internet happens all day during the day, whereas at night it really doesn’t happen very much.

Ester: #truth.Tell us what your gig used to be like vs. what it’s like now?

Adam: In January I started working here at night. My hours were 6 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Ester: VAMPIRE HOURS.What was that like? Did you chat with janitors? Who did you take breaks with around the water cooler?

Adam: Right, sure. I was basically Count Chocula for our generation. I would describe it as silent and lonely, though actually a pretty good environment for focusing on your work. Also, I figured out pretty quickly to work Sunday-Thursday instead of Monday-Friday, because there is literally nothing more depressing than arriving to work in an office full of people about to leave for the weekend.

Ester: That makes a lot of sense!So what else did you learn, being nocturnal?

Adam: I dunno. I’d always thought of myself as a pretty nocturnal person who likes to stay up late and sleep late but I found working the night shift VERY VERY VERY HARD.

Ester: Explain how!