In Praise of Not Going Viral

In the foodie world, as in most worlds now mediated online, there is intense pride at having a recipe “go viral.” Samin Nosrat, the delightful author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and the ensuing Netflix series based on the cookbook, admits as much in her recent confessional-recipe (it is a form, trust me) entitled, “Delicious […]

The Exact Moment Chris Pratt Realizes He Is Rich

You will remember the scene, near the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) admits to himself, as much as to Nova Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly), that he is the leader of his gang. “They’ll be fine, Dey,” he says. “I’m gonna keep an eye on ’em.” […]

Frogs get a hop on noise pollution

In an increasingly noisy world, it may seem impossible to find peace amongst the cacophony of busy roads, blaring sirens, and roaring machinery. That is, unless you are a wood frog. New research from Pennsylvania State University shows these pocket-sized pollywogs are becoming immune to the stresses of noise. Compared to their quiet country cousins, […]

Mapping the Desire Lines of Family

I first met Nishta J. Mehra in 2005 when we studied creative nonfiction at the University of Arizona’s MFA program. Her prose was, and is, agile, buoyant while being direct, and strong. She also routinely brought baked goods to our class workshops, and, honestly, you have not lived until you have tasted one of Nishta’s […]

death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades

Johnny was a mess—snide, sneering, insubordinate, a liar—and impossibly old, maybe even 24 or 25. None of us really believed him when he said his previous job was carrying nuclear bombs around on his back. We should have. After Vietnam, the US Army was a mess in general. Johnny was just another of us—the disheartened […]

Highway to Hell

Most mornings do not begin by walking across a snow-covered campus as a young man in flame-colored pants and an intergalactic backpack—think the cosmos meet tie-dye—blasts AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” Is the music emanating from his phone, I wonder? A portable bluetooth speaker placed just so? Am I in the future, where people have branded […]

A Shade of Blue

Blue is one of those mystical colors which has long inspired artists and cultures around the world. Pablo Piccasso’s Periodo Azul lasted for three years, from 1901 to 1904, whereby he painted the world in monochromatic melancholy. Many artists before Picasso, and after, had their own blue periods, too. Toni Morrison wrote of the racist […]

Making Art Great Again

Remember Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light™”? He ripped off the term from JMW Turner and trademarked it, but was more often called “that mall artist.” His achievements, for a decade or more, were impressive—starting with getting “art” into malls for purchase by ordinary folk, who bought it in unprecedented numbers. Joan Didion wrote in 2003 […]

This Is It, Harriett

You always read about it: the plumber with the twelve children who wins the Irish Sweepstakes. From toilets to riches. That story. —“Cinderella,” Anne Sexton     Who does not have the feeling, now and then, that the pot of gold is out there, sitting around, waiting for harvest? A woman in England discovered hers […]

A Playlist for the Snow

When I email a friend in Chicago to tell him the snowpocalypse is coming to St. Louis this Friday at noon, I beseech him not to laugh too heartily at us lesser, lower-Midwestern mortals. We who buy all the bread and milk and thin-crust frozen pizzas topped with provel when only five to eight inches […]