The Color of the Year

        The classic vices are sexier, more noir, but I can wallow in color and feel like I have thrown back a fifth of bourbon. Clicking away from the latest streaming sensation without a second thought, I watch, breathless, a presentation from WGSN (the world’s leading consumer trend forecaster) on the new […]

Recipe Stories: Baked Chicken Thighs

    What is there not to like about a shapely thigh? A chicken thigh is almost all meat, has only one bone, is hard to overcook, and can be easily made flavorful in a way that no bland breast can match without marinade or heavy seasonings. The chicken thigh is the canonical chef’s choice. […]

A Return to Evil

        Christmas and Hanukkah are all about light. Fortified, I go back to puzzling over the darkness. What, for example, reduces an intelligent, wealthy aristocrat to torturing servant girls, sometimes tearing off chunks of their flesh with her own teeth? We fuss over Dahmer and Bundy, but Erzsebet Báthory’s murder count is […]

Why American Politics Are Sometimes Seriously Unserious

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” so said Ralph Emerson. Those who are wisely inconsistent remind us of this quote as we marvel at the grandeur of their twists and turns. Of course, these people are not likely to have ever read anything by Emerson or even to offer the title of […]

How COVID Changed Your Personality

        Another article on all the anxiety and depression triggered by the pandemic. I sigh. The articles themselves are depressing and anxiety inducing. Skimming with one finger on the delete button, I hesitate at a word: “surprisingly.” Reading more slowly now, I register this: “Surprisingly, two previous studies found that neuroticism decreased […]

Caretaking

    Things have been hard, in some ways, for a friend. Others have it worse. He was always employed, for example. But it was a decade: debt, bankruptcy, tax problems, moves, marital conflict. He works with his hands, often outdoors, and the work, in addition to his troubles, was nearly the match of his […]

False Endings

        I once heard a Hallmark creativity czar give a presentation about productivity in which he emphasized the peril of “false endings.” You know them: those glorious moments of self-deception when you decide, “I’m almost done!” and the angst begins to dissipate. Your muscles unclench, and you taste sweet leisure on the […]

The Peril of Naming Our Flaws

        “What is buccal fat how are they still inventing new flaws for us,” tweeted Jules Zucker after she saw the latest celeb cosmetic surgery trend. Responding to one of the 100,000 likes and comments, she wrote, “I am literally running out of limbs and features.” The New York Times picked up […]

A Real New Year’s Vow

    I was at the Schnucks after lunch on New Year’s Eve, picking up finger foods for later. The checkout line was longer than I have seen in four years of living here. It ran the length of impulse buys, about a third of the width of the supermarket, from coffee and filters, past […]

Jeanne Dielman As the Best Film Ever?

        The news broke last month. Sight and Sound, the British Film Institute’s magazine, published its famous once-a-decade list of the hundred best films. And Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles had bumped Hitchcock’s Vertigo from the top spot. “Such a sudden shake-up,” the BFI marveled. (Jeanne Dielman, made in […]