Summer is upon us! Well, actually it’s kind of cold and gray outside here, but as you, our imaginary beachgoer, break out the sunblock and pack the Cheetos and flip-flops for a day in the sand, we’d like to introduce the first in an ongoing series of posts listing stories we’re reading, watching or listening to—stories we think you might want to check out.

Sometimes the events themselves make a piece worth a look. In other cases, the skill in storytelling catches our collective editorial eye (the baleful gaze of which resembles something from Tolkien).

If you want to pass along stories you think we should see (and should perhaps include in future lists), please don’t hesitate to send them to us. And yes, we’ll be rotating media, so there will be posts on “What we’re watching” and even “What we’re listening to” in future weeks. Stay tuned…

ARTICLES

The Spill, the Scandal and the President” by Tim Dickinson from Rolling Stone (via The Browser).

According to reports by Interior’s inspector general, MMS staffers were both literally and figuratively in bed with the oil industry. When agency staffers weren’t joining industry employees for coke parties or trips to corporate ski chalets, they were having sex with oil-company officials. But it was American taxpayers and the environment that were getting screwed.

School of Fight: Learning To Brawl with the Hockey Goons of Tomorrow” by Jake Bogoch from Deadspin.

Tom Bloomberg decided to teach me how to punch another kid unconscious on a hot summer day in rural Manitoba.

Stranger-than-fiction Manhunt Ends in Skwentna” by Joshua Saul from Alaska Dispatch (via Gangrey.com).

Ben remembers breaking into one lodge and finding a stuffed moose and a well-stocked medicine cabinet inside. He said he took eight big Percocet and four or five Oxycontin—a pretty decent amount of synthetic heroin. “I threw up on the moose,” he said.

Christina Finds Her Voice” by Jo Ciavaglia from the Bucks County Courier Times.

In an emergency room earlier this year, a young woman listed her symptoms, then explained why, if a CT scan were done, doctors would see that half her brain is gone.

Chosen, but Not Special” by Michael Chabon from The New York Times (via David Quigg).

The presence of Jews among the not-yet-extinct peoples of the world can no more be credited to any kind of special trait or behavior than the Tasmanians or the Taino ought to be blamed for their own eradication.

BOOKS

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum.

Until the early nineteenth century, few tools existed to detect a toxic substance in a corpse. Sometimes investigators deduced poison from the violent sickness that preceded death, or built a case by feeding animals a victim’s last meal, but more often than not, poisoners walked free. As a result murder by poison flourished. It became so common in eliminating perceived difficulties, such as a wealthy parent who stayed alive too long, that the French nicknamed the metallic element arsenic poudre de succession, the inheritance powder.

Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present by Hank Stuever (Christmas in July June!).

Before the Black Friday dawn, the sky is still a mix of dark blue and the sick sodium-vapor saffron of the suburban night. I park by the Beijing Chinese Super Buffet and walk across the lot to the Best Buy, where hundreds of people—some in their twelfth or thirteen hour of standing in line—await the day-after-Thanksgiving doorbuster sale.

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