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You Can Always Quit Evolving
Shrimps is bugs.
The best advice columns are the ones where the question is unhinged but has an extremely obvious answer which the advice columnist then refuses to supply. On Friday a reader asked The New York Times’ Ethicist:
My husband loves to travel and always either pays for, or gets an upgrade into, the first-class cabin. When we travel together with our children, he buys himself a ticket in first class and puts us in economy or economy plus.
Literally anyone is capable of answering this question except The New York Times’ Ethicist, who thinks a good answer is “why not suggest taking turns?” Perfect. Everyone else took turns suggesting other places the husband could spend the rest of time.
Orcas are learning how to sink boats off the Iberian peninsula. Take back the seas, comrades! If the orcas and the octopuses team up, we might have a problem.
In Curbed Rachel Sugar, Jack Denton, Laura Thompson, and Adriane Quinlan quantified by exactly how much you can’t afford to live in New York City. Only one of their examples includes a candle budget, but all of them have a strong “someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. my family is dying” vibe. Want to do something really insane like “live in a house and own a car?” Good luck you fool, you maniac:
Owning a brownstone makes you vulnerable to a million horrifying things: wind-driven rain getting lodged into parapets, causing leaks; a stoop in need of repair; a façade that needs to be restored (generally every 40 years, but costs can range from $50,000 to $150,000). Let’s say this year she has a relatively minor leak: $3,000. Then she’d have to paint ($25,000, according to a brownstone owner in Windsor Terrace) and fully furnish the entire place (about $100,000). She’ll put $5,000 down on her Subaru Forester, then pay $788 a month after, and her garage will be around $500 a month.
Surprisingly (to me) the Brooklyn Heights brownstone / three kids at Brooklyn Friends School lifestyle is more expensive than the Upper East Side coöp / Long Island summer home / three kids at magnet school lifestyle, though the latter requires a larger down payment. Also, apparently there’s at least one twenty five year old arborist who lives in Manhattan. Unsurprisingly, no journalist can afford to live in NYC at all.
A week later, there is now a whole ShrimpsIsBugs subreddit full of Shrimps is Bugs fan art and at least one Shrimps is Bugs tribute tattoo. “….holy shit. Alright fine I’ll keep it,” concedes Lewbular.
Can you believe it’s Intern Camille’s last week already? She has consistently pitched and filed on time every day, so it was strange when I didn’t receive an intern tab from her today. But, following instructions I received in a text from a blocked number, I did discover the following in a beat-up looking manila folder in the back of my closet, underneath an old shoebox full of what appear to be micro-cassette tapes from a Dictaphone-style audio recorder, which I don’t remember ever seeing before. There’s also what looks like a small door in the wall back there, marred by several deep gouges. I’ll go check it out as soon as Tabs is done today.
Have you ever thought "Wow, I love the classic 1994 video game Doom II, but I wish it were more like Mark Z. Danielewski's seminal ergodic book House of Leaves?” Then great news: MyHouse.wad is the Doom II mod for you.
MyHouse.wad is pitched by its poster Veddge as a simple map made by a recently deceased childhood friend, replicating his house. However, the file for it is significantly larger than the base game of Doom II. And it comes with lore: the Google Drive for the mod file also features strange drawings, an obituary, a very intense copyright warning, and a journal featuring the most blatant nod to House of Leaves: the word "house" marked in blue.
The mod itself depicts a house slowly unraveling. Normal doors can lead to brutalist mazes, a mirror dimension, or even a replication of the "Five and a half minute hallway" from House of Leaves.
Part of what makes it so novel is how well it understands the digital cultures it draws on, so that tropes don’t collapse into cliché. The format mirrors classic creepypastas like Ben Drowned, with multimedia elements and a gradually more and more alarming game left behind by a deceased person. It's also a love letter to Doom II modders, nodding to how many make houses as an early mod, and using design elements like a slightly taller player character and smoother animations to make the experience uncanny for seasoned players. It’s technically deft as well, featuring level designs that aren’t normally possible, adding to the non-Euclidean feel.
There’s also something heartening about the fact that a nearly thirty year old game is still so loved that people return to it to make novel stories because they can, and now, even now, even with various technological limits, those stories provide new approaches to the game.
The archaic word of the day is ellingness: loneliness.
—Camille Butera measured it: 32 feet 10 inches exactly.
Today in Crabs: “Nantucket Horseshoe Crab Spawning Season Going Strong.” Ok yes, horseshoe crabs are technically spiders, but I did learn from this Nantucket Current article about the horny living fossils that “biomedical companies are only allowed to harvest 30% of the horseshoe crab’s blood and are required to release them afterwards.” Sounds like my boss, heyyyyy. Also horseshoe crabs picked a shape 440 million years ago and called it a millennium, proving that You Can Always Quit evolving.
Today in Roasts: Laura Miller roasted Brandon Taylor’s new Ben-Lerner-core novel in Slate. “It may be possible to write a novel about people slogging through directionless lives without the novel becoming a slog itself, but Taylor hasn’t done that.” Sophie Kemp roasted The Dare’s “Sex” EP in Pitchfork. “…Sex is not a particularly erotic collection of songs, nor is it very cool; it would even be generous to call the four tracks ‘silly.’” And Warner-Discovery CEO David Zaslav dressed up as Dril and got roasted by all of Boston University. “Pay your writers” chanted the crowd, as Zaslav droned about how important it is to end work-from-home. Whether you like him or not, you can’t deny that Zaslav is a pioneer in the business of being first up against the wall when the revolution comes.
Matt Bors announced that The Nib is shutting down after its retroactively ironically themed final issue, “The Future.” “The Nib has published more than 6,000 comics and paid out more than $2 million to creators.” It will be replaced by: nothing, just another void where independent cultural criticism used to be. Hank Green has Hodgkin’s lymphoma (which is apparently “the good kind of lymphoma,” fwiw), and Kate Lindsey wrote about the weird helplessness of being on the mass end of a parasocial relationship (that nevertheless “is a kind of relationship”) and not being able to do anything to help.
Today’s Song: Poe, “5 & 1/2 Minute Hallway”
Weird, I thought this was the exterior wall of the house, but inside this little door it’s just… dark. I’m going to crawl in here a little way and s