It’s not just Mac users who have grown accustomed to the company’s lackluster note-taking app Notes, which, after a 2013 redesign, at least stopped attempting to look like an actual notepad covered in neat Comic Sans writing. At this point, the scrawled-off Notes screenshot is the de riguer medium for celebrity apologies and public statements, as if to imply, “I may not be near a computer, but I am writing this my own damn self.” This is a funny trend, but it always makes clear how deeply ugly the app itself remains; for anyone who writes a lot, it’s a convenient but aesthetically unpleasant way to jot down stray thoughts and to let a draft take shape. All of which brings me to Bear, a note-taking app that is increasingly winning over converts. Bear does a lot of things better than Apple’s Notes, but it mostly just looks a hell of a lot better, with clean spacing, a selection of easy-on-the-eyes fonts, and a few color schemes to scroll through. If you spend most of your day staring at a screen, a little aesthetic upgrade goes a long way, even if it will run you $15 a year.
Hideo Kojima is the creator of Metal Gear Solid, my all-time favorite video game series, so I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. Lately, though, I’ve been an even bigger fan of his utterly delightful Twitter account, which has virtually nothing to do with video games and is mostly about Kojima’s love of movies, music, food, and toys. Pretty much every day, you can count on him to post a photo of some delicious meal, whatever album he’s listening to, a poster for a big movie he just saw, or some neat action figure he just bought. It’s really no different than following any other nerdy film buff in that respect, but since Kojima is one of the most famous game developers in the world and he loves to pack his games with homages to the things he likes, it’s fascinating to see him like that stuff in real time. Plus, he once tried to illustrate something from his upcoming game Death Stranding with a photo of a Yellow Submarine made of Lego bricks and some Hannibal figurines, and it was a very good tweet.
300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso
“The smallest and shortest pieces of art strive for perfection; the largest and longest strive for greatness,” writes Sarah Manguso in her slim nonfiction book 300 Arguments (out earlier this year from Graywolf Press), an assembly of brief passages that often read like aphorisms or, yes, arguments. The author of six books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, Manguso indeed achieves a kind of perfection throughout, many sections as short as a single sentence, none longer than half a page, all polished to a high shine. Not one word is out of place, as Manguso’s linguistic logic is so sound as to seem unassailable. “Bad art is from no one to no one,” reads another entry. Like an elegant spread of petit fours, each piece is precise and discrete, yet of a larger, cohesive whole—about what it means to be an artist, to be happy, to find success. Despite her exacting, incisive writing, Manguso knows that some truths remain elusive, unable to be captured by language.