What the Boogaloo Bois Are Not

Bois? Why are a bunch of hetero gun-toters in Hawaiian shirts branding themselves gender-queer? Surely they know what the spelling signifies. Or does nothing signify anymore, in this world of clashing memes and criss-crossed identities? The cleanest definition I can find for the Boogaloo Bois is Seth Cohen’s: “a loose group of far-right individuals who […]

The Winter of Our Discontent

“If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere,” the Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote. The phrase is now relevant in a way he never anticipated. That is not surprising; poetry pushes past a poet’s limits to trespass on the universal. And thanks to COVID-19, the whole world now dreads winter as though […]

Here Are Some of My Pans

    Last week on Facebook I reposted something from celebrity chef Jacques Pépin, who is pictured in front of a wall covered in pots and pans. The headline of his post reads, “Here are some of my pans.” On the anniversary of 9-11, with a record number of named storms in the Atlantic, the […]

When Scholarly Articles Are Fraud, Whim, or Total Insanity

“Elsevier says it is investigating how one of its journals managed to publish a paper with patently absurd assertions about the genetic inheritance of personality traits,” I read in the newsletter of Retraction Watch, a brilliant ten-year-old project undertaken by two scientists. Regularly appalled by what passes for research, they decided to track the small-print […]

Princess Bride Gets Put to Use

    The Princess Bride, you will remember, is about some really bad guys being defeated by true love and by some charming guys who are pretty bad too. (“You seem like a decent fellow. I hate to kill you,” says the mercenary to the pirate who kills all prisoners.) In a live table read […]

Why Women Can Dress Like Men But Not Vice Versa

A woman slips on her boyfriend’s cotton shirt, its shoulders dropping inches below hers, and rolls up the long, long sleeves. She looks even more feminine. A man borrows his girlfriend’s soft blue pashmina, swinging one end over his broad shoulder. He looks far less masculine. I am using traditional categories here, and old gender […]

The Clothes We All Abandoned

There they all are, just hanging there, smooshed together in the dark, waiting like Broadway wannabes after an audition. As I reach for the usual gray shorts and oversized t-shirt, I shoot them a guilty glance, admiring their colors. It seems so long ago that I spent a rainy afternoon sorting them, pinks into lavenders […]

Unserious Clamor

    The title essay of Tatyana Tolstaya’s Pushkin’s Children: Writings on Russia and Russians is an account of the changes in feeling toward Russian writers, within Russia, over time. The essay questions the writer’s role, as artist and as citizen, and the role of words as cause, effect, or neither. Tolstaya points out that […]

Bond in Retirement

    The release of the new James Bond film was delayed three times but is scheduled for November 20th. Fans in my household who saw the trailer are worried it will waste the final appearance of Daniel Craig, whom they believe is better in the role than Sean Connery, the Bond icon. No Time […]

Why a Deadly Pandemic Aroused Less Drama in 1918

The first time a boy broke up with me, I thought no one had ever felt such pain. Now, I am living (so far so good) through my first pandemic, and nothing has ever felt so surreal. The sudden halt to life as we know it, the arguments between politicians and scientists, the greedy bursts […]