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Of the hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, 17,000 are currently in common use, and the average person knows only around 2,500 of that small fraction. But even the most well read among us must admit to neglecting their dictionaries, to knowing of words without being able to define them—the lexicographer’s epistemological quandary. Presenting 700 such words on a tidy set of 300 cards, Wordsmithery separates the logophiles from the charlatans. Drawing cards, players challenge their opponents to define, say, “salubrious” or “sanguine.” A round or two over the holidays may save adult players from future malapropisms—with luck we’ve avoided them here—and help prepare children as young as eight for a life of eloquence, and for the S.A.T. ($25,


Queen and Slim

Queen and Slim may lift from the outlaws-on-the-lam school of filmmaking, but Melina Matsoukas’s shocking and wise debut follows its own road map,” says Air Mail Editor at Large Richard David Story. “Scripted by Emmy-winner Lena Waithe (from a story by Waithe and Million Little Pieces author James Frey), the film begins with an awkward Tinder meetup between a young, attractive African-American couple—newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith and Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya—in an Ohio diner. But the date turns into a nightmare: the two are pulled over by police, Queen is shot in the leg, and Slim ends up killing the cop. The doomed couple then begin a noir-ish drive by night on a journey south. With a thunderclap of ravishing imagery, music, and supporting performances, Queen and Slim entertains, saddens, and terrifies with tender mercies and the realities of what it means to be black in America.” (In theaters now.)


Olive Oil

Peppery, grassy, and green, top-shelf olive oil belongs on the counter, easily reachable for seasoning, sautéing, and simmering. Pineapple Collaborative, a woman-owned-and-operated food company that relies on local California produce and small-batch production, has combined three species of olives—Koroneiki, Arbequina, and Arbosana—to create a smooth-textured and brightly flavored oil, equal parts tangy and rich, at a cost low enough to keep you accustomed to the magic of high-quality kitchen essentials. (Pre-order; $28,


Love and Radio

Nick van der Kolk’s Love and Radio is a weird and ultra-endearing podcast, covering the unconventional through unconventional means. In “A Girl of Ivory,” van der Kolk interviews a throuple about their dynamic, but the show soon reveals its sleight of hand: the two women involved are sex dolls, their respective parts written by their owner and read by actresses. The “Secrets Hotline” episodes are chronicles of shame, created from the show’s answering machine, where anonymous callers unburden themselves. The recordings, punctuated only by scoring, are sequenced in such a way that a story emerges. Van der Kolk’s experiments with structure make a strong case for the pre-eminence of podcasting as nonfiction narrative’s next frontier. (


The Electric Bike

The Faraday Porteur S is a modern e-bike without the distractions that most motored bikes come with. There isn’t a button that rockets you down Fifth Avenue, and there are no apps or screens to look at while you zip through traffic. The Porteur S’s battery-powered engine is equipped with an onboard computer that communicates with your pedaling to amplify your output—and it’s all controlled and adjustable through a simple switch located on the handlebars, just like a classic gearshift. ($1,399;

Issue No. 22
December 14, 2019
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Issue No. 22
December 14, 2019