A Scottish Christmas, Twice Removed

Here it sits, the haggis, like some offal thing washed up from a distant land. Which it is, of course—a mix of chopped lamb’s liver, beef, oatmeal, suet, onion, bread crumbs, buttermilk, salt, pepper, and ground cloves, in a “beef or fibrous casing,” shipped frozen from the shores of south Florida. My in-laws, who immigrated […]

Grab ‘Em by the Stock Market

It is not a newsflash that Twitter, and the world more generally, can be a toxic place for women, especially women of color. Yet, when Amnesty International released its Troll Patrol Report on Tuesday, December 18, what many women already knew was confirmed by the extensive year-long study the human rights organization conducted in partnership […]

Being a Griswold at Christmas

What would make up for 35 years of dentists and mechanics chortling over my last name? I want to be fair and rational about this, so I suggest we just dig up John Hughes and use his thigh bone to beat out the tempo to the song for National Lampoon’s Vacation on his skull. Hughes, […]

Kehinde Wiley’s “Vocabulary of Dignity”

On this sunny, 55-degree Midwestern winter day, I made my way to luxuriate in Kehinde Wiley’s 11-painting exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum. I have followed Wiley’s work since 2010, when I first encountered one of his paintings in Louisville, Kentucky at 21c Museum Hotel. Morpheus, an oil and enamel painting in grand classical […]

Nailed It!

While some sick people comfort themselves with plenty of rest and fluids, when I caught my daughter’s eviscerating stomach bug this week, I consoled myself with episodes of Season 1 and 2 of the Netflix series, Nailed It! Sure, I could barely stand upright, keep my eyes open, or consume anything, but somehow watching (or […]

‘They Shall Not Grow Old,’ a WWI Memorial Film

The new documentary They Shall Not Grow Old played in theaters this week, in limited release in the US, for the centennial of the end of World War I. It will presumably be available soon on DVD and a streaming service. The documentary, directed by Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), […]

A Free Gift for the William Gass Completist

Wash U in St. Louis archives the papers of several important American writers, including some who taught here. The William H. Gass collection gathers drafts, manuscripts, hand-corrected proofs, recordings, photos, art, correspondence, and other items of interest connected with Gass, the fiction writer, essayist, cultural/literary critic, and professor of philosophy who taught at Wash U […]

Why Are Unions Turning Red?

The Midwestern coal-mining town I am from was probably as close to 100% unionized as it was possible to be, in the first decades of the twentieth century, from the UMWA, trade and craft unions, and sympathies of business owners, families, and friends. This typically meant voting for those with progressive (or at least pro-worker) […]

On Maria Sibylla Merian, Bedtime Stories, and #MeToo

One of my toddler daughter’s favorite books is This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer, written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode. When I pre-ordered this cheery little board book earlier this year, I was ecstatic to see just as many women as men, actually more so, within its pages. What I was not […]

The Bigger the Hair, The Closer to Dolly Parton

As the daughter of a former beauty queen and a relatively happy, fat, and confident woman, I was intrigued by the storyline of the Netflix original movie, Dumplin’, which debuted on December 7. Adapted from Julie Murphy’s best-selling 2015 young adult novel of the same name and directed by Anne Fletcher, Dumplin’ highlights the coming-of-age […]