fixations

All the Things We Thought About a Lot This Year

January Jones getting out of a cab, Salman Rushdie’s thirsty Facebook DMs, and much, much more.

Britney Spears, Alexis Neiers, Salman Rushdie, January Jones.
Photo: BackGrid, Getty, Youtube, Pacific Coast News/Avalon
Britney Spears, Alexis Neiers, Salman Rushdie, January Jones.
Photo: BackGrid, Getty, Youtube, Pacific Coast News/Avalon

I Think About This a Lot is a series dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds. For our Year in Review 2018, we’re taking a look back on all the things we thought about a lot this year.

1. Paparazzi Photos of January Jones Getting Out of a Cab

“While none of the places that ran the cab photos out-and-out called her a slut (actually: they probably did, but I’m not looking it up! I value myself too much for that), they might as well have. That’s what ‘walk of shame’ means, right? That you spent the night drinking and carousing in a beautiful dress and then you met someone and went home with them and took your dress off. Then you put it back on only when the sun’s early morning rays reminded you of the existence of a world outside the really fun night you were having, and that now your dress and your heels and your clutch (too small for sunglasses!) are supposed to mark you as a Person Who Has Been Out All Night Having Sex, penance you’ll have to do until you can get home and change into something without sequins.” —Angela Serratore

Read more here.

2. The First Episode of The Ashlee Simpson Show

Like many things from 2003 that most people forget existed, this premiere episode of The Ashlee Simpson Show has been archived to my ‘Very Impactful to Your Essential Being’ memory file. For every therapist or horrified acquaintance that has ever asked, ‘Why are you like this?’ the answer is simple: Because Ashlee taught me. While some young women utilized the narratives depicted in Sex and the City or The O.C. as their guiding light through the murk of adolescence, The Ashlee Simpson Show became my beacon, showing me how to act and feel when my 11-year-old internal compass had gone hormonally haywire.” —Allie Volpe

Read more here.

3. This Photo of Britney Spears Holding Candide

Photo: BACKGRID

In the picture, she is holding several books, the uppermost of which is a copy of Voltaire’s Candide; she is clad in a fedora, hot pants, and a pair of glasses dark enough that we can’t tell if she’s wearing an expression that says, ‘Huh! I’m reading Candide!’ or ‘Huh? I’m reading Candide?’ It is inscrutable. Did Britney pick up a copy of Candide while in Maui? Did she bring it with her for the trip? (Stars, again, being just like us, presumably take Serious Books on holiday with good intentions, even if they end up reading pulpy garbage by the pool.) Did she finish it? Did she enjoy it? Would she recommend it to a friend?” —Philippa Snow

Read more here.

4. The Time Salman Rushdie DMed a Woman ‘You Look So Gorgeous and Hottt’

“Yes: ‘Gorgeous and hottt.’ The winner of the Man Booker Prize, an author whose writing has been described by The New York Review of Books as ‘the most important to come out of the English-speaking world in this generation,’ is a worse booty-caller than your average college freshman. I will never stop thinking about it.” —Kath Barbadoro

Read more here.

5. Martha Stewart Covering the Red Bottoms of Her Louboutins With Black Sharpie

I’ve gone through several stages of emotion since revisiting Martha’s shoe-defacing habit. The first was outrage. What’s the point of buying a pair of shoes that costs hundreds of dollars only to cover up their most sought-after element, the red soles? At best, this is an act of sadism against moms who own novelty wineglasses that say things like, ‘Chocolate is good but shoes are carb-free!’ At worst, it’s some kind of commentary about the relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie that I’m not intellectual enough to figure out.” —Gabrielle Noone

Read more here.

6. The Song ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover’ by Sophie B. Hawkins

“This isn’t the kind of song that approximates socially acceptable speech — we can forgive it for that much. It’s meant to be filled with the secret, yearning stuff you’d say at night but never in the morning. The lyrics are lovably pathetic, if also unbearable. At one point, in the middle of all the ‘damns’ (there are so many), she says ‘shucks.’ Shucks! You get your chance to say all the things you want to say, to a person you’d like to seduce, and you say shucks? Language is a prison.” —Jen Vafidis

Read more here.

7. This Photo of Nora Ephron Looking Miserable While Another Woman Sits on Her Husband’s Lap

Nora Ephron, Carl Bernstein, and an anonymous woman.
Photo: Getty Images

I think about Nora Ephron all the time. A lot of women do. She was one of those public figures with whom many people feel like they have their own private relationship. I think about her thoughts on dinner parties (always have round tables), unsalted butter (don’t bother with it), and people (they have only one way to be). I think about her advice (‘Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.’). But there’s one version of her that I think about the most, and it makes me feel strong when I’m in my lowest moments. It’s the one in that photo above.” —Michelle Markowitz

Read more here.

8. When Stuart Little Went on a Date

Part of Stuart Little’s appeal, of course, was its continual toggling between naturalizing the mouse-as-person gambit and emphasizing its weirdness. On the one hand, we had the Littles worrying, just like any regular human parents would, that their boy might have nightmares were he exposed to inappropriate nursery songs. On the other, the fear, specifically, was that these songs would be ones that belittled or menaced rodents. (‘I should feel badly to have my son grow up fearing the farmer’s wife was going to cut off his tail with a carving knife,’ Mr. Little frets.) But even stranger than the muddling of the border between man and mouse, I’ve always felt, was the blurring of the distinction between boy and man.” —Naomi Fry

Read more here.

9. The ’90s Computer Game Chop Suey

“Theresa Duncan decided that the most beautiful thing a young person could see was something possibly similar to her own life. In Chop Suey, the sisters Lily and June Bugg do nothing more than wander around their town with a takeout hangover, observing their neighbors. It’s more of a set of vignettes than an adventure, or a linear cartoon picture book. You can’t win or lose. What you can do is visit a candy store called Cupid’s Treats, an observatory, the home of ribald Aunt Vera and two of her three ex-husbands (all named Bob), and other screwball locales.” —Amy Rose Spiegel

Read more here.

10. The Pool Scene in The Bachelor Season 13 Finale

Every single season of The Bachelor claims to be the most dramatic in the history of the show, but Jason Mesnick’s actually was. It was so emotionally fraught that he got a whole phrase added to the Bachelor Nation Lexicon. Any good fan knows that the ‘final rose’ is the last rose given out on a night, that the ‘fantasy suite’ is where the top three contestants finally get to bone the leading man or lady, and that only one woman can survive the dreaded ‘two-on-one’ date. Mesnick’s season was such a wreck, filled with so many shots of him sobbing with his head hung over a balcony, that those kinds of breakdowns by men were henceforth called ‘pulling a Mesnick.’” —Kelsey McKinney

Read more here.

11. Kanye West at the Katrina Telethon

I could watch Aghast Mike Myers all day. It’s like watching a live birth — the moment teeming with infinite possibility. As a group, my white conservative class had winced with sympathy for the Austin Powers guy. Stripped of fake teeth and a fake accent, and incongruously paired with a Grammy-winning rapper, he seemed especially normal, even proper. He embodied thoughts and prayers. This also appeared to be the held view of the producers and most other guests of the telethon — a knee-jerk pathologizing of black anger. (They have since revised their opinions.) I could also watch Kanye West say ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’ all day. I didn’t have the words then to proclaim through my grin, but now I do: Where is the lie?” —Morgan Parker

Read more here.

12. This Grainy Photo of Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx

Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx.

So, who cares if Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes were together, are together, are in a committed relationship, or a casual one? Me, it seems. While I could not name a single fact about either person — beyond, of course, the Tom Cruise connection — this picture occupies a special part of my brain. And it’s not a part of my brain that I’ve ever really talked to other people about.” —Reyhan Harmanci

Read more here.

13. Mark Cuban Saying ‘Right’ on Shark Tank

“Mark Cuban did not invent the right and he’s not the first or last man (or woman, but really: man) to use it to aggressively prove his (or her, but really: his) point. Ever since Cuban opened my ears to the right, I’ve noticed it near constantly, used frequently by pundits, podcast hosts, TED Talk speakers.” —Katy Schneider

Read more here.

14. Emily Weiss’s Wedding-Prep Routine

“Emily Weiss’s 2016 wedding prep post is one of the most superlative accounts of beauty-related futility the world has ever seen. Fifty feminist academics working for 50 years could not have concocted such a concise depiction of what is involved when one strives for conventional feminine perfection, not even if they were helmed by The Beauty Myth author Naomi Wolf herself. The expense, the time, the waste, the myopia — it’s all there, in fewer than a thousand words, with lots of hyperlinks so readers can construct an identical psychic iron maiden if they so choose.” —Charlotte Shane

Read more here.

15. The Sliding Doors in Sliding Doors

For a long time, I thought about Sliding Doors in the same anxious way my friend did: What if I’m not in exactly the right spot at exactly the right moment, and I miss the chance encounter that’ll give me the relationship I want, the career I want, the friendships I want? And, more sinister, What kind of bullshittery is going on behind my back that I’ve just barely missed catching in the act? Make one false move, Sliding Doors seemed to be saying, and you’ll throw off a bunch of potentially very good outcomes.” —Ashley Fetters

Read more here.

16. Bling Ring Member Alexis Neiers’s Voice-mail Meltdown

All nine episodes of Pretty Wild were shot while Alexis was out on bail, focusing on the unexpected, juicy saga that was Alexis’s efforts to prove her innocence. The E! series was not renewed for a second season. But before its untimely cancellation, it gave us this gift: Alexis’s reaction to a Vanity Fair article about her and her criminal activities.” —Jessica Goldstein

Read more here.

17. This Song About Zach Braff Being Your Dad

A serious question: would you like Zach Braff to be your dad? My favorite song in recent memory is a song that asks this important question: What if he was? Imagine what it would be like to be sitting in a baby carriage as Zach Braff stared into the camera, eyes watering slowly and soulfully? Would you turn out okay? Would you be soundtracked by the Shins? Would playing catch with daddy Zach Braff — who may be off elsewhere in his mind, concerned with his own coming-of-age from manchild to maybe man — be the source of all your therapy appointments in the future?” —Elisabeth Donnelly

Read more here.

18. Robert De Niro Yelling ‘You Blew It!’ in Cop Land

The first ‘blew’ stretches on for a beat longer than seems necessary or even advisable. His mouth is half-full with the sandwich he’s waving around throughout, and you can practically feel the deli meat–flecked spit hitting Stallone in the face. (My boyfriend and I have argued about the contents of the sandwich; he suspects it may be strictly cheese but Tilden strikes me as more of a ham man.) But it’s De Niro’s expression that clinches it. His eyebrows arc halfway up his forehead while his lower jaw juts out so far it threatens to unhinge completely, like a snake’s. It’s terrible, and it’s perfect.” —Jess Bergman

Read more here.

19. Kris Jenner’s 30th-Birthday Music Video

“The Kardashian matriarch wasn’t yet a star. She was a privileged Beverly Hills wife and mother, who didn’t just think a music video would be a fitting way to celebrate a milestone birthday, but actually went through the trouble of drafting lyrics and going to a recording studio to make it happen. Who does that — and decades before turning your lifestyle into a brand was a thing? A woman destined to become the matron saint of reality TV, that’s who. Because a prerequisite for becoming famous — or becoming anything, really — is thinking and acting like you could be.” —Gabrielle Birkner

Read more here.

20. The Last Scene of The Hills

While it would be nice to claim that I — a reasonably intelligent person who was in grad school when that episode aired — remained unconcerned by this revelation, my shit was similarly misplaced. In this moment, two things had become abundantly clear: the TV had lied to me, and this was deeply upsetting. The reason for my reaction comes down to a couple of simple facts that go a long way to explaining how we live in the world now.” —Brandy Jensen

Read more here.

21. Kim Kardashian Brushing Her Teeth

When Kim Kardashian was 30 years old, she briefly married basketball player Kris Humphries. The marriage lasted 72 days and their relationship has since become a blip on her pop-culture legacy — but within that blip is a blip that I think about every time I brush my teeth. In those moments, with a vibrating electric brush between my lips, I feel closer to Kris Humphries than anyone in the world.” —Jessica Bloom

Read more here.

22. A Song About New York From The Magic Show Musical

The idea that you would grow up in the West 80s and be desperate to get the hell out of there, to make it somewhere else less provincial, is all but alien now. The Richistan New York in which I live is a place where people turn themselves inside-out to hang onto a little sliver of rented real estate. You’re a lot likelier to get defeated by New York and leave than you are to be defeated by the larger world and land back in Manhattan. The idea that it would be crushing for someone to move to West End Avenue sounds a little far-fetched.” —Christopher Bonanos

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23. Hilary Duff’s Feud With Faye Dunaway

“Whaaat????? is probably what you’re thinking right now. But it’s true. It all started when Duff got cast in a remake of Bonnie and Clyde (Whaaat?????) and posed for a Dunaway-inspired photo shoot for Allure. Dunaway heard about the casting and the send-up, and according to a gossip columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, she was not pleased. The Sun-Times reported, via anonymous sources, that upon learning of Duff’s role in the film, Dunaway asked, ‘Couldn’t they at least cast a real actress?’” —Allie Jones

Read more here.

24. The Food Fight in It Takes Two

I languished through six summers of rural sleepaway camps, desperately hoping to engage in food fight such as this. I haven’t even gotten to toss a mere carrot at someone’s head, let alone grab a serving bowl of mashed potatoes and start pitching handfuls at fellow campers. As with most fun things, I figured this was something children are not allowed to do, but that we’d have ample opportunity to enjoy as adults. WRONG. We’re still not allowed. You playfully toss a turkey leg at your Uncle Randy that one time, and suddenly you’re not allowed at Thanksgiving dinner anymore. More adults have probably done cocaine than had a food fight! Depressing.” —Sophia Benoit

Read more here.

25. Ally Hilfiger’s Burrito Breakdown on Rich Girls

Ally realizes she’s hungry and decides to make a burrito. That’s when things get really wild. She takes a trip to Whole Foods to get ingredients, but doesn’t know what goes inside of a burrito. She’s not sure what kind of beans to get, or what kind of cheese goes on nachos. She ends up staring at a row of salsas for a million years. When she finally gets back to the house, her friend Danielle comes over. At first, it seems like everything is going well, but Ally starts freaking out while cutting onions. She hasn’t eaten all day. Clearly, she’s just hangry. Right? ‘All I want is my onion, and my tomato, in the beef with the rice, with the cheese, and avocado. And I want to eat it and I can’t do that,’ Ally screams. Danielle tries to help. The scene cuts to the girls talking in the backyard. The burrito never gets made.” —Marie Lodi

Read more here.

26. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling Holding Frozen Yogurt ‘In Their Hand’

“Then there was the ‘yogurt,’ sans container. ‘Cone or cup?’ I could see some frozen yogurt shop employee asking, in the saddest scene Patti Smith ever envisioned for the East Village. ‘Just the hand,’ Emma Stone would reply, dimples flaring. ‘You see,’ she’d say, faux bashful, Ryan at her side. ‘We share one.’” —Adriane Quinlan

Read more here.

27. This Photo of an Immigrant Family Arriving at Ellis Island

Photo: Augustus F. Sherman/The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library

“‘The good girl’ looked to be a teenager, and I pitied her immensely. I feared she spent her entire life caring for others — first her seven younger brothers and then, perhaps, as many children of her own. I imagined she had gone from her parents’ house to her husband’s, with no moment in between to, say, live across the country from a family whose expectations were so Old World, it was almost comical. Did she ever have a moment to ask herself, at a safe distance from her family’s unrelenting needs and expectations, Who am I? What kind of life do I want to live?” —Alexis Coe

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28. Kelly Bensimon Running in Front of a Cab

“If you Google image search ‘Kelly Bensimon running,’ which I had done long before writing this, you’re greeted with a mosaic of images just like this scene. It’s like she’s never even heard of a park. Every shot of her running looks like she’s one step away from being hit by a car. (And honestly, it wouldn’t be the car’s fault.) She’s just barreling down city streets like she’s some sort of very tan Prius.” —Alison Leiby

Read more here.

29. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Reveal on Oprah

“Apparently I’m not alone in thinking of the episode as memorable because that time ‘Kirstie Alley Donned a Bikini’ is the first segment on an Orpah.com listicle titled ‘Remember When?’ Kirstie’s moment is followed by that time ‘Mel Gibson Smoked Onstage,’ ‘Lindsay Lohan Addressed the Tabloid Rumors’ and ‘Oprah Danced with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ President Barack Obama’s 2005 appearance on the show when he was ‘just a new senator’ also makes the list, below Lindsay Lohan and above a young Jerry Seinfeld.” —Katherine Milsop

Read more here.

30. The Dave Matthews Band Poop Bus Incident

“The morning of August 8, 2004 dawned cool and crisp in Chicago. It was the perfect day to take in the city’s sights without being overwhelmed by its usual summertime heat and humidity. Tourists lined up for the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, went shopping up and down the Magnificent Mile, boarded double-decker buses that would whisk them down Lake Shore Drive. And 120 sightseers embarked on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise — a boat trip down the Chicago River showcasing some of the city’s prized architectural gems — not knowing they were bound to be forever tied to one of music’s darkest days. (Or at least, one of its smelliest.) As they reached the Kinzie Street Bridge, a grated drawbridge on the north fork of the river, one of Dave Matthews Band’s tour bus drivers emptied 800 pounds of human waste directly overhead.” —Laura Turner

Read more here.

31. Cher Saying Tom Cruise Was One of Her Top 5 Lovers

I don’t know why this troubles me so much. Tom Cruise is good in bed — so what, who cares? I do. I care. Tom Cruise is rumored to audition his girlfriends and make his wives sign marriage contracts. I have a hard time imagining him having sex with anyone, nor do I want to. Plus, Cher is Cher. Tom Cruise needs a last name.” —Carla Ciccone

Read more here.

32. Susan Sontag on ‘Emotional Book-keeping’

“Have you ever tried to reason with someone about whether accompanying you on an ehhhh friend’s backpacking adventure would be balanced out by traveling to a remote and dubiously curated sculpture garden? Have you ever had someone report disappointedly on the number of sweet things you said to them in the last week? I hope not. I personally haven’t, but I can’t say the same for a city planner I dated in 2013.” —Maggie Lange

Read more here.

33. Scarlett Johansson’s Tom Waits Cover Album

“The musical style is a crowded, muddied indie pop, as if the Cocteau Twins were produced by someone attempting to achieve a Phil Spector–style ‘wall of sound’ after only having heard the words ‘wall of sound’ but without listening to any examples. The bones of the songs themselves, often layered under Tom Waits signifiers — jaunty tuba, wailing bagpipes, respectful organ — are, of course, great. Tom Waits is great. They absolutely succeed in making you think, I should listen to the Tom Waits version of this.” —Kelly Conaboy

Read more here.

34. The Beauty Habits of This Possible Cult Leader

“Teal Swan is a self-made guru who calls herself ‘the spiritual catalyst.’ She built a commune in Costa Rica for the ‘Teal Tribe,’ a set of devoted followers culled from her roughly half-million online followers. She practices a Skype-enabled form of recovered memory therapy, believes she was raised in a Satanic cult, and has accused a family friend of stuffing her into a human corpse and then sewing it shut, forcing Teal to sleep inside — like a depraved human version of the Star Wars tauntaun scene. She says she can access the Akashic records, which are a compendium of all human knowledge, events, thoughts, and feelings through all time — so she literally believes that she knows everything. Some say she’s a savior. Others say she ruins lives.

But what I can’t stop thinking about are her pores.” —Maureen O’Connor

Read more here.

35. The Palate Cleanser From The Princess Diaries

“When I watched this scene for the first time, my 10-year-old self was incredibly intrigued. I needed to know everything about these alleged ‘palate cleansers.’ Were they real? What flavor were they? Where could I find one?”Priya Krishna

Read more here.

36. The 1993 Adam Sandler Song, ‘At a Medium Pace’

Most of my friends at the time, myself included, probably would have described sex like this: ‘Your thing goes in her thing and then stuff comes out and she has a baby,’ which is, let’s say, a limited definition. Then we heard this song and went: ‘Wait … THAT’S sex, too?’ (Although some of us probably thought: Oh, yeah, for sure, that’s what I’m going to be into.)” —Josh Gondelman

Read more here.

37. Vanessa Bayer’s Sunday Routine

“To date, only one truly brave and radically transparent Sunday Routine has ever been published: that of comedian and actor Vanessa Bayer, back when she was a Saturday Night Live cast member in early 2016. I think about Bayer’s hideously relatable routine all the time, especially when still lying in bed at 3:30 p.m. on that final day of a fleeting weekend, lazily Googling food delivery service discount codes.” —Katherine Gillespie

Read more here.

38. These Photos of Scott Eastwood Working Out Barefoot and in Jeans

Photo-Illustration: SplashNews

First of all, he’s working out in jeans in the Los Angeles heat. JEANS. Who works out in jeans? Absolutely no one. Holding up said jeans is an enormous metal belt buckle. What if the belt buckle gets hot? Did Eastwood burn his taut tummy on it? But we haven’t even gotten to the most perplexing part of the exercise pic: he’s barefoot. He’s barefoot on the street, running on the Santa Monica stairs by the Pacific Coast Highway. Let me put my I-lived-in-Los-Angeles cap on right now to say that those stairs are disgusting. There’s trash and likely needles and rusty nails and god knows what else on them. Did Eastwood immediately go to Urgent Care and get a tetanus shot afterward? I hope so.” —Kerensa Cadenas

Read more here.

39. The ‘Live Más Mentality’ Moment From Ink Master

There’s something about freezing these reality-TV moments in the amber of reaction GIFs and meme fodder that elevates the medium. It’s the language my generation understands. Our shared consciousness has most definitely been televised. We’re steeped in pop culture that values taking your most personal experiences — your job, your dreams, your marriage, your summer shore journey — and distilling them into easy-to-follow plotlines that hinge on ‘drama.’ Drama can mean sobbing, or drama can mean sex, or drama can mean getting punched in the face: As long as the drama exists, it can be consumed. (And sponsored by Taco Bell or Honda.) And then that one shining moment’s bit of dialogue can be taken out of context and used on Twitter to illustrate a joke about just how much American consumerism has ruined our lives, or a joke about our shared depression, or a joke about ass eating. Living más is what you make it.” —Crissy Milazzo

Read more here.

40. The Song ‘God Loves a Terrier’ From Best in Show

“Best in Show hit theaters around 15 years before dog culture took over the internet. Currently we’re living the heydays of social-media phenomenons like WeRateDogs and Dogspotting, but the comedy was a portrait of fanatic dog love before pretty much everyone became a fanatic dog lover. It predated the vocabulary of large bois and doggos and floofers who give borks and get pats. The show scene Guest and his crew were satirizing is still filled with a rarefied type of aficionado — the kind that cares about breed standards and grooming techniques — but the fervent devotion his characters have for their pets seems to have spread far and wide. In this way, Best in Show looks downright prescient.” —Esther Zuckerman

Read more here.

41. Ursula Applying Red Lipstick in The Little Mermaid

The first time I watched I was 3 years old. Back then, I couldn’t put into words just how appealing it was at the time, or how much I needed a longwear, satin finish red lipstick, because I’d yet to read a product description and I was an extremely quiet child who rarely spoke. But Ursula’s steady hand and nonchalance with her lip color made an impression on me — it seemed obvious that when I grew up to be a confident woman who was manipulative to teens, I too would regularly apply lipstick.” —Erica Smith

Read more here.

42. The Bagel Retrieval Scene on The Leftovers

“The Leftovers, on a whole, is a particularly fascinating look at human trauma and the various ways we cope with the unknown. Kevin clings to a routine in an attempt to clutch onto life’s constants: he jogs, he wears aviators, he repeatedly calls his stepson, he eats carbs. (I like to ignore the fact that Justin Theroux himself is probably not eating all the bagels, pizza, and French toast mentioned on the show, in an effort to maintain his chiseled 12-pack.) For all his uncertainties, Kevin’s morning bagel provides some consistency. When the toaster threatens to consume his breakfast, defying logic and justice, he loses his grip on all things real. It’s only when he retrieves the burnt bagel that his faith in reason is restored, even if for a moment.” —Sarah Nechamkin

Read more here.

43. The Legend of the A-Rod Centaur Painting

If the woman had revealed that humble Yankee great Derek Jeter — or even a catch-all celebrity such as Ben Affleck — had owned the centaur portrait, we never would have fast-tracked the item. But the notion of Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez commissioning a painting of a Greek mythological figure in which his face and Adonis-like torso adorned a horse’s sturdy body explained everything. He sunbathed bare-chested in Central Park fully aware the pics would be splashed across the New York Post. He glommed onto Madonna for a Kabbalah-tinged spiritual awakening in the aftermath of his divorce. He kissed himself in a full-length mirror for a Details photo shootOf course he needed a permanent reminder that he was a special stallion of fanciful proportions.” —Mara Reinstein

Read more here.

44. The Pinball Episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Forever, as a concept, is pretty hard to comprehend. There are mathematical calculations that approach it, religious yearnings for paradisiacal eternities, and experiences like waiting in line for the bathroom when you urgently need to pee. But it was clear to me as a kid, when I watched the end of one particular episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, as a giant, silvery pinball bore down on our protagonist: Forever is a long fucking time.” —Jamie Burke

Read more here.

45. A Louise Mensch Tweet About Steve Bannon Getting the Death Penalty

Prior to the 2016 election, I was under the mistaken impression that conservatives had a monopoly on believing obviously phony political material they encountered online. Image macros of apolitical celebrities overlaid with quotes about locking up Hillary Clinton or ending the Fed — those were standard-issue Crazy-Uncle-email-forwards (‘Re: FW: Re: RE: Fw: Morgan Freeman Said What We’re ALL Thinking About Killary!’). Some of this could be chalked up to a simple lack of internet literacy, but the key was really wish fulfillment — “Of course Robin Williams thinks what I think about the capital gains tax. I knew I liked him for a reason!” Well, in 2016, the world changed, and conservative conspiracy enthusiasts had to make room for the other side of the aisle.” —Patrick Monahan

Read more here.

46. St. Vincent Saying ‘I Love You’

It’s all charming and wonderful until you remember that the comment section is always a veritable hellscape. Indeed, droves of YouTube users have professed their lust for Clark underneath the video. ‘I watch this every night,’ says one, and another: ‘Guys, knock it off. It’s obvious that she’s talking to me and no one else.’ And another, taking it up a notch, ‘I want to lock her in my basement and make an Annie Clarke [sic] suit.’ Totally, my man! A hot horror washed over me as I scrolled down and realized a solid 300,000 of the 467,000 views on ‘St. Vincent (Annie Clark) says I ‘I love you’ were probably from dudes jerking off to the video on loop.” —Grace Perry

Read more here.

47. Bella and Edward’s First Kiss in Twilight

I saw Twilight in theaters, home on winter break during my junior year of college. I went with a friend from high school and we treated the experience as a joke, even as we paid actual money for tickets in exchange for the privilege of spending two actual hours of our lives watching Robert Pattinson sparkle. But at 21, I wasn’t too old for Twilight and I wasn’t — no matter what I thought going in — too good for it. At 21, I was barely removed from that intoxicating mix of fear and lust and hormones that is the province of high school.” —Miranda Popkey

Read more here.

48. Ina Garten Saying ‘Store-bought Is Fine’

Photo: Shutterstock

Those words echo in my head every time I walk through the aisles of a grocery store. I’m not much of a cook, so I take more liberty than Ina intended. A package of pre-chopped veggies for stir-fry? Store-bought is fine. A box of Tex-Mex seasoned rice and beans mix? Store-bought is fine. A whole frozen chicken pot pie? Store-bought is fine!!!”Ali Jaffe

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49. This Prince Parody Account Tweet

Unlike every dime a dozen parody account that serves to amass huge follower counts and then monetize through ads, @PrinceTweets2U was, like the man himself, an elevation of a form. Many did not understand it — but it was art, nonetheless. And if the hallmark of great art is that it is where two ideas that don’t naturally go together meet, then @PrinceTweets2U certainly qualified. Especially on the day when ‘Prince’ decided to make a formal complaint about Time Warner Cable.” —Karen Geier

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50. Riley Finn Leaving Buffy

“Riley is uncannily like a dud boyfriend in real life. Not a horrible, abusive boyfriend, just the kind who seems good on paper, but being with him is like being in a meandering subplot of a TV show’s fifth season. You may like all the same things, but when he talks about them it’s mysteriously irritating. He may be ridiculously good-looking, but when you have sex, you can almost hear a voice saying, ‘Your call is important to us, so please stay on the line.’ There is no buzz he cannot kill: Even when he’s not there, you end up tediously theorizing with friends about what makes the relationship so bad. When he finally leaves you (somehow you will never beat him to the punch), it will mostly be a relief.” —Sandra Newman

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All the Things We Thought About a Lot This Year