Pray Me to Have Discipline

    Maybe you too have the 2005 edition of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, illustrated by Maira Kalman. It is one of those books that seems to rise to the surface of piles of books and present its slim, red, hardcover binding when it knows it is needed. […]

Syncing Our Brains—to Each Other’s

    In the future, Svengoolie will command my complete attention. No more dozing and surfing. Not if I want a good marriage. For my husband, tv is pure escape. Nothing relaxes him more than a Friday night pizza and two hours of a bad Fifties horror flick, the kind that was stuck together with […]

The Sad Little Cloud Over Bob Ross’s Life

  Though I loved watching him paint, I found Bob Ross a wee bit smarmy—like a Mister Rogers for grownups, but less earnest. Only in recent years, when I started to see his face on mugs and socks, breath mints and boxer shorts and Chia Pets (everywhere, that smile! that ’fro!) did I pay him […]

Good Dog!

    For weeks, I kept an internet meme on my desktop. It suggested a “new approach to self-care”: talking to yourself the way you talk to your dog. “What a good girl!” “Look at that sweet tummy!” “You’re so smart!” “Time for a treat?” The idea amused and shamed me. I listened to myself […]

Sensuous Dog Days of the Midwestern Summer

  I have been talking a long time, I realized, about finding the perfect place to live one day. Southern Illinois was my first biome, and I still know it intimately, but summers can be miserably humid and hot. Before every major thunderstorm, people in the St. Louis area keep saying this will be the […]

On Claude McKay’s Birthday: September 15, 2021

  Claude McKay, born on September 15, 1889, in rural Nairne Castle, Jamaica, thrived on shifts of locale and identity. He was a writer of pioneering dialect verse and a national culture hero on his native island; one of the inventors and toughest critics of the Harlem Renaissance; a producer of blockbuster novels (1928’s Home […]

Leon Spinks Once Blew Up the World

    On September 15, 1978, forty-three years ago on this day, Muhammad Ali, at the age of thirty-six, became the first heavyweight champion to win the title three times.  This is a mixed distinction, as, while it may indicate tenacity and longevity to win a title three times, it also means Ali had the […]