Things I Read That I Love #335: Big Pants, the Disney Adult-Industrial Complex, Fancy Dorms and Flo

HELLO and welcome to the 335th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can know more about the Disney Adult Industrial Complex! This “column” is less queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.
The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.

The “Disney Adult” Industrial Complex, by Amelia Tait for The New Statesman, February 2024

In addition to sharing the results of surveying more than 1,300 self-identified Disney adults, Tait traces the present presence of Disney Adults in the popular imagination (embarrassing or enchanting??!) to a conscious marketing direction taken by Disney starting in the mid-1980s.

What “Gender-Neutral” Fashion Gets Wrong, by Mel Woods for The Walrus, December 2023

Sometimes you read an entire thing and you realize “there is probably no right way to do what all of these places are doing wrong,” you know? Bodies come in so many shapes and sizes!!! We think we have a solution or we’ve identified the problem and then that solution also has its problems. The world is not made for us, I think, but here we are trying to make the world.

My 30-Year Quitting Addiction, by Rich Juzwiak for Slate, January 2024

“From the times that I failed—allowing myself one smoke, then smash cut to me tearing my way through a pack within just a couple of hours—I learned that I can approach this only from a black-and-white perspective. I’m either a chain-smoker or someone who hasn’t had a cigarette in more than 18 years. I’m nothing in between. Call it keeping momentum or settling into inertia, but I’ve found that I can follow a program extremely well. Permissive dabbling is just chaos to my mind.”

The Strange Saga of Kowloon Walled City, by James Crawford for Atlas Obscura, January 2020

This is such a fascinating story — how a Chinese military barracks built in the mid-1800s evolved into a self-regulated, self-determined society after World War II that at its peak consisted of “50 buildings, almost all between 10 and 14 stories high, occupied by 8,500 premises, 10,700 households, and more than 33,000 residents.” These buildings were constructed without any meaningful regulation, all packed in tight against each other and connected by dark alleys. You really have to see the pictures (and diagrams) to see how unique this place was. Obviously it was a hotbed of “criminal” activity like opium production and distribution, but also, factories made goods and food exported throughout Hong Kong, and it was a thriving residential and commercial zone until the city came in with a wrecking ball in 1993.

I Want a Critic: Andrea Long Chu, interviewed by Merve Emre, by Merve Emre for The New York Review of Books, January 2024

I think in criticism, there is cruelty and there is viciousness. Viciousness is the attack dog that hasn’t eaten in a week, and is drooling and barking and snarling. Cruelty is the person holding the leash. That piece, I think, was vicious. But the viciousness proves that it is not coming from a place of authority, because it leaps into the exacting of violence onto the object. Cruelty says, “Well, what are we going to do about this?” There’s a restraint and a withholding. “I could be hurting you, but I won’t,” or “I won’t hurt you as much as I could.” That is the position I have, I hope, moved toward, as I look at these takedowns I have written.

A Teen’s Fatal Plunge Into the London Underworld, by Patrick Radden Keefe for The New Yorker, February 2024

This is one of those stories that I did not think was going to suck me in for a solid hour but absolutely did and I have no regrets. a 19-year-old from West London plummeted into the Thames and died, and in the aftermath of his death, his parents learned he’d been posing as the son of an oligarch and in fact telling all kinds of lies to all kinds of people. But what he’d gotten himself involved with in general, and the police corruption that sidelined any real investigation into his death — well it’s quite a tale!

How to Sell a University, by Pam Kelley and Melanie Sill for The Assembly NYC, January 2023

I started down this rabbithole after seeing a TikTok about the dorms at High Point University, which are insanely fancy and have like, multiple restaurants, arcades, an in-dorm steakhouse, swimming pools and movie theaters? One student described it as “an all-inclusive vacation with a side of homework.” Anyways it turns out to be a very expensive liberal arts college that is on the up-and-up since hiring wacky motivational speaker businessman Nido Raji Qubein to take over, and branding itself as a place for students who love “faith in “God Almighty,” patriotism, respect for the flag, appreciation of private enterprise, democracy, and justice for all.”

Why Are Pants So Big (Again)?, by Jonah Weiner for The New York Times, March 2024

“Whatever style pants look like [expletive] to you are the pants you’re supposed to wear, and as soon as they start to look normal to you, those are not the right pants anymore. You should always be wearing pants you think look stupid.”

What Really Happened to Baby Christina? by Matthew Bremner for Esquire, January 2024

A man spending his life in prison for a crime it seems that he definitely did not commit, and the twist is that he was the one who asked the police to investigate his daughter’s death as a murder to begin with.

Everybody Knows Flo From Progressive. Who Is Stephanie Courtney?, by Caity Weaver for The New York Times, November 2023

Insurance companies have to anthropomorphize their abstract products and Stephanie Courtney has to balance comedic aspirations with the joy of having enough and at this intersection we have again my fave Caity Weaver

Should I Leave My Husband? The Lure of Divorce, by Emily Gould for New York Magazine, February 2024

“I wondered if my marriage would always feel like a competition and if the only way to call the competition a draw would be to end it.”

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3178 articles for us.


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