Babette’s Feast and the Spirit of the Holidays

French actress Stéphane Audran died this year at 85. Audran had a long career and more than 100 film and TV credits. She worked with directors Luis Buñuel, Éric Rohmer, and former husband Claude Chabrol, was in The Big Red One with Lee Marvin, and played the title character in the 1987 Danish film Babette’s […]

The Found Poetry of Internet Browser Tabs

Experts say you should have no more than nine Internet browser tabs open at one time, but I feel much like St. Augustine: “Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” In an attempt to be more virtuous and productive, I just culled 23 browser tabs on my phone to eight (most of them recipes, creative […]

Buster Scruggs and the Watchful Eye of Death

The new Coen Brothers movie, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, was released on Netflix November 16, after a (very) limited theatrical release. The National Board of Review made it a top-10 pick for 2018, and it won an early award (for best screenplay) in Venice. The Coens are auteurs, so they make Coen movies, which […]

Women at Mid-Life Have Higher Stress? Duh.

Earlier in November, The Scientific American reported the findings of a study published in Neurology. In the study, which examined 2,000 40-somethings’ cortisol levels and performance on tests of memory, organization, visual perception, and attention, researchers noted women in the study seemed to fare the worst with low test scores and high cortisol levels. This […]

The Wax Dummy’s Shame

Here come the mannequins Avert your eyes Avert your eyes Tall and cool and terrible no common ground no common ground for you and me they’re an awful sight to see …       The tourists looked glumly through the windows of the wax museum. It was closed for the day, and the wind […]

Bill the Patriarchy

It is one of those mornings where a difficult decision has to be made. Luci, almost 20 months old, has been sick since the Friday night after Thanksgiving, and my husband is out of PTO and I do not yet have eligible sick or vacation time. I do, however, have a job that has a […]

A Monument We Can All Celebrate

When they conquered distant lands, the Romans erected fornices and triumphal arches to help locals celebrate becoming Roman subjects. Ungrateful Gauls and Britons had other feelings: “If … we bend our necks to the yoke, the Romans do but lay on heavier burdens, as if we bore them lightly. We used only to have one […]

My First Friendsgiving

This morning on a group text, accidentally including me, the sister who lives on the other side of the state, my three siblings discussed who is making my late grandmother Anna Lee’s chicken and homemade egg noodles (think rustic chicken and dumplings). Over text they delegated who was to bring dessert, dinner rolls, and iced […]

Looking Up, Looking Down

When I topped the bridge, smoke twisted like tornados from the stacks of chemical plants in Sulphur and Westlake and rose a thousand feet into the sky. It is hard to say why the scene impressed me this time. We live with the industrial: city-sized puzzles of pipes and tanks that glitter under the sun […]

In Defense of “Midwestern Nice”

Last week I read Sarah Smarsh’s opinion piece in The New York Times, entitled, “A Blue Wave in Kansas? Don’t Be So Surprised.” In the op-ed, Smarsh also dissected “Midwestern nice” as a misunderstood phenomenon of passive aggression. In reality, Midwestern nice, Smarsh argued, demonstrates the stoic restraint and composure of the often-underestimated people who […]