Sunday Reads: More Mattel movies, spider games

Plus: Why quitting Twitter is so hard
Sunday Reads: More Mattel movies, spider games
Image: A pleasant Sunday to you (Shutterstock)

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5 things we especially liked on Quartz

🎬 Mattel’s intellectual property dreamhouse. The world might not need another cinematic universe, but the box-office success of the Barbie movie is giving Mattel plenty of reasons to assemble one. Julia Malleck offers a look at what’s in production as the company tries to turn more of its popular toy brands into Hollywood gold.

🎤 A business, man. As our friends at The Root celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Quartz is looking back at the business moves that helped define the genre. Brianna Holt recaps the endorsement deals, record labels, studio contracts, and luxury fashion collaborations that have created real wealth along with lyrical content.

🧐 Guessing game. Today’s Federal Reserve is far more transparent than it was before the 2008 financial crisis. But Fed chairman Jerome Powell has good reason to stay coy about the central bank’s timeline for future interest rate increases this year—if there even are any. Nate DiCamillo explains what the Fed is trying to accomplish by keeping investors on their toes.

🐦 Twitter quitter? Scott Nover was easily enticed to set up a Threads account. But he found it hard to build a habit using the new app from Meta, as he had with Mastodon and BlueSky before it—so he consulted with a couple of academics to find out why. Meanwhile, Scott also took a look this week at Twitter’s rebranding as X. Let’s just say he wasn’t impressed.

🕵️ Find your company’s influencers. In an excerpt on Quartz at Work from their new book Power to the Middle (Harvard Business School Publishing, 2023), Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, and Emily Field offer tips for taking stock of your organization’s middle managers and identifying “the critical few” who “are both high-value and influential.” They also share good advice for how to invest in managers.

5 great stories from elsewhere

🎮 Blame game. Cody was just nine years old when he began playing Fortnite, the battle royale video game. His parents watched in dismay as he became obsessed, playing for hours on end without stopping to eat or drink. Cody’s parents are now part of a lawsuit taking on game developer giant Epic, MacLean’s reports. The suit alleges that Epic makes their games addictive on purpose and are therefore liable for getting kids hooked.

🕷 Friends & foes. Spiders are a common phobia, but in the Philippines there is a pastime that may cut people’s aversion to the arachnids. Gideon Lasco, a Filipino anthropologist, says that as a child he used to play “laro ng gagamba,” or “game of spiders.” It involves collecting spiders, taking them in as pets, and then making them wrestle with fellow eight-legged opponents. In Sapiens, Lasco explains how the tradition may reshape peoples’ views of spiders.

🗣️ Ask Altman. OpenAI’s chatbot has sparked a global AI race. Atlantic staff writer Ross Andersen speaks with CEO Sam Altman about the technology his company has unleashed upon the world—and whether he regrets it. The nine-part piece follows the development of ChatGPT, and is interspersed with conversations with Altman about the unknown potentials and dangers of AI. (There’s also a great audio recording if you’d prefer to listen in.)

💤 Troubled sleep. Climate change is not just occupying humanity’s waking reality—it’s entering our dreams. The vast majority of climate dreams involve feelings of stress and fear, but they also tend to vary across sex, race, political affiliation, and generations. A story from Time breaks down the data on climate anxiety dreams, and what we can learn from them.

🍲 A stew grows in Brooklyn. There is a stew in Brooklyn, New York, that has been bubbling away for two months. Called the “perpetual stew,” it’s ladled out in a park in Bushwick and is free for any who wish to sup. The project was created by Annie Rauwerda, more famously known as “Depths of Wikipedia” on Twitter/X. Ramsey Khalifeh for the Gothamist wades into the history of ever-simmering soups and travels to the stew site to get a taste for himself.

What to watch for this week

Gif: Giphy

We’ll be watching a bunch more earnings reports this week. Among them:

  • Monday: Adani Green Energy
  • Tuesday: Merck, Pfizer, Toyota, Starbucks, BP, Uber, Marriott, Molson Coors
  • Wednesday: Qualcomm, PayPal, Ferrari, Kraft Heinz, YUM!, DoorDash, Etsy, Robinhood
  • Thursday: Amazon, Apple, ConocoPhillips, AB InBev, Airbnb, Square, Adidas, Kellogg, Expedia, News Corp
  • Friday: State Bank of India, SoftBank

Thanks for reading! Here’s to the week ahead, and don’t hesitate to reach out with comments, questions, feedback, Twitter-habit alternatives, and spider games. Sunday Reads was brought to you by Heather Landy, Julia Malleck, and Susan Howson.