Tag Archives: writing

Sunday Scraps 102


1. JOURNALISM: This my be my favorite editorial I’ve read in quite some time. From Tim Krieder at the NYT, he writes about uncertainty of stating one’s opinions on the internet: “I felt like the explanatory caption beneath my name on-screen ought to be: PERSON IN WORLD.” This is basically exactly how I feel about everything.

2. STYLE: Ever wonder about Rihanna’s hairstylist? Who is this person? Where did he or she come from? NYMag has got you covered.

3. WAR: In this not at all scientific but very strangely powerful series, soldiers are photographed before, during, and after war.

4. TELEVISION: How to make a good drama that wins lots of awards. Is there a formula for that? Perchance there is and it’s only 13 steps!

5. GEOGRAPHY: Highly difficult, highly addictive, Geoguessr is game where google streetview displays a picture and you try to guess where in the world it was taken. Good luck with Australia vs. Texas.

6. DEPRESSION: Blogger Allie Brosh is back after a long hiatus. This webcomic explains where she’s been, and also does a pretty excellent job at describing depression to those that are not depressed. Play close attention to the fish analogy.

Related Post: Sunday 101 – Dear Daughter, Colbert’s “homophobe” song, Lennon and Maisey

Related Post: Sunday 102 – Why lady looks matter, SCOTUS, Huma + Anthony, football tragedy


Filed under Art, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 86


1. WRITING: Man, If only our shared first name meant I shared talent with Emily Rapp (Ditto Emily Nussbaum, Emily McCombs). In this essay for The Rumpus, Rapp writes about finding intimacy while her son continues to die. If that sounds sad, it is, but it’s also beautiful.

2. PARENTING: Emily McCombs, editor of XOJane, writes about her creative path towards motherhood and it’s pretty inspiring.

3. INSTAGRAM: Complete with lyrics (for your singalong desires), College Humor nails our obsession with Instagram with this parody of Nickelback’s “Photograph.”

4. SUFFRAGE: Weird and strange and weird again. Here’s a children’s book from 1910 against women’s suffrage.

5. TED: Anita Sarkeesian, from Feminist Frequency, speaks at TEDx Women on online harassment.

6. ROLES: Really interesting video imagining what club life (ha) would be like if the stereotypical roles of men and women were reversed. Who objectifies and gets objectified?

Related Post: Sunday 85: Painless? The path to the NFL, Ann Patchett’s new book store.

Related Post: Sunday 84: Astronaut letters, bedrooms around the world, women who model as men


Filed under Family, Gender, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 84

1. GENDER: Watch this Time interview with Casey Legler, a woman who works as a male model, and try not to drool.

2. BOOKS: A new anthology, My Ideal Bookshelf, creates colorful portraits of authors’ and celebrities’ book collections, includes David Sedaris and James Franco.

3. SUFFRAGE: Great collection from Sociological Images of vintage anti-suffrage ads.

4. WRITING: Chicago author Megan Stielstra on the stresses of new motherhood and the surprising support from a stranger.

5. ASTRONAUTS: Super sweet letters from astronaut Jerry Linenger to his 1-year-old son while he spent three months at a space station.

6. CHILDHOOD: What does a child’s bedroom look like? Depends on where they live, and damn, the range is pretty intense. Mother Jones has some examples. 

Related Post: Sunday 83: Stewart, language in the NYT, Mormons on the campaign trail

Related Post: Sunday 82: Kevin Durant, Maddow nails it, NYMag cover photos


Filed under Books, Chicago, Gender, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Why You Should Be Reading Grantland

If you’re not an ESPN-watching dude, or you don’t have very many ESPN-watching dude friends, you might be missing out. The first person to send me something from Grantland, an online magazine on sports and pop culture, was one of those dudes, and I doubt I would have stumbled upon it without his help.

Grantland was founded by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, what Ad Age calls a “one-man content generating apparatus,” in June 2011. I was late to the game and only added it to my reader a month ago, but in that time, I’ve starred oh so many things.

Ostensibly for long form sports and culture, I really find it’s at its strongest at the nexus of those two. Anything in the “sports and” category is where they really hit their stride: Sports and medicine (like this piece on CTE in NFL players), sports and gender (like this on the Kournikova era), Sports and race (like this one on Serena Williams), but every now and then, there’s the randomest of gems (like this diva-off).

My reader and Twitter feeds, not to mention my typical self-guided daily tour through the interwebz, is basically a who’s who of 3rd wave feminism. Jezebel, Mother Jones, Peggy Orenstein, the XX Factor, Anita Sarkeesian, Clarisee Thorn, this is my digital bread and butter. The Grantland staff isn’t exactly the equivalent of reading Drudge every morning in terms of spicing up my web consumption, but it’s a different crowd and I think I like it.

Related Post: Final thoughts on the Olympics

Related Post: I will not be joining your gym

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Filed under Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Sunday Scraps 72

1. ZOE: British Olympian Zoe Smith strikes back at body haters in an extremely articulate and extremely badass blog post.

2. RACE: Nicole Moore at the Huffington Post addresses the recent announcement that Nina Simone will be played by Zoe Saldana and the controversial history of casting famous black women.

3. KATRINA: For the New Yorker’s Letter from Louisiana Katherine Boo reports on one town’s reaction, years later, to Katrina evacuees.

4. WRITING: How do contemporary writers address texting, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare, Skype and the like in new fiction? The Millions addresses the “awkward but necessary role of technology in fiction.”

5. WHITE HOUSE: New York Times profiles White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on her role in the Obama administration, especially during his courtship of female voters.

6. MEDITATION: Men’s Journal follows one man’s journey into total silence and total boredom in a 10-day meditation course at Dhamma Giri in Western India.

Related Post: Sunday 71 = Cosmo around the world, Helen Gurley Brown, Dr. Ann McKee

Related Post: Sunday 70 = Louie CK interview, boys in dresses, tween books


Filed under Body Image, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

“Thumbs up for the 6 Billion” – An Ode to Caitlin Moran

Rainy sundays are perfect. All your ambitious, outdoorsy, fitnessy plans get canceled. There’s nothing left to do but be perfectly content putzing around your house, baking, crafting, cleaning, reading, watching ESPN documentaries, and never once changing out of your sweatpants.

On Sunday, I finished Caitlin Moran’s feminist memoir How To Be a Woman. As I often do when I finish a good book, I went to jot down the lines or paragraphs I had admired and flagged along the way.

And that is the story of how I spent two hours on Sunday re-typing half of Moran’s book. It is just that good.

If this were a book review, it would go like this: Read this book.

If I ever teach a class to anyone, ever, for any reason, even a cooking class, I will undoubtedly assign this book. I’ve written before about feminism as big tent movement, with unwieldy waves, dissenting pockets and a long history of ostracizing queer women, women of color, and male allies. It is a movement often devoid of humor, making us easy targets for lame comedians and late night hosts. It is imperfect, we are imperfect, but goddammit we are trying.

My feminism is not my mother’s feminism and her feminism isn’t the feminism of my grandmother (who would probably spit at the word, but who, in my opinion, should wear the badge proudly.) My feminism isn’t even necessarily the feminism of my peers, the men and women who shared classrooms and roundtables and reading lists with me for years. The next time someone asks me what feminism means to me, this is the book I will give them.

My feminism is not anti-sex. My feminism is not anti-man. My feminism is not anti-stay-at-home-mom, anti-Cesarean, anti-pornography, anti-bra, anti-queer, anti-marriage, or anti-child. It is not anti-razor, anti-celebrity, anti-faith, or anti-family. It is certainly not anti-humor.

This post would be 300 pages long if shared all the passages from Woman that I loved, so indulge me while I choose just a few:

On why pornography is not inherently sexist:

“The idea that pornography is intrinsically exploitative and sexist is bizarre: pornography is just some fucking, after all. The act of having sex isn’t sexist, so there’s no way pornography can be, in itself, inherently misogynistic. So no. Pornography isn’t the problem. Strident feminists are fine with pornography. It’s the porn industry that’s the problem.”

On why body shaming by the media, while admittedly not life and death, is a crucial feminist issue:

“It is the ‘Broken Windows’ philosphy, transferred to female inequality. In the Broken Windows theory, if a single broken window on an empty building is ignored or not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Evetually, they make into the building and light fires, or become squatters.  Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them.”

On why childlessness is not a female tragedy:

“No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer and crippled by it. Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Newton, Faraday, Plato, Aquinas, Beethoven, Handel, Kant, Hume, Jesus. They all seemed to have managed quite well. Every woman who chooses–joyfully, thoughtfully, calmly, of her own free will and desire–not to have a child does womankind a massive favor in the long term. We need more women who are allowed to prove their worth as people, rather than being assessed merely for their potential to create new people.”

On why feminism is for everyone:

“Seeing the whole world as “the guys” is important. The idea that we’re all, at the end of the day, just a bunch of well-meaning schlumps trying to get along is the basic alpha and omega of my worldview. I’m neither “pro women” or “anti men.” I’m just “Thumbs up for the six billion.”

Related Post: Why I believe men belong in the feminist movement.

Related Post: So this is why people hate feminism.


Filed under Body Image, Books, Gender, Really Good Writing by Other People

Literary Geek-Out: Bechdel

Last night I went to a reading by Alison Bechdel, graphic novelist, creator of comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, author of Fun Home (nominated for the National Book Critics Award), and her new memoir, Are You My Mother?

Readings by graphic artists are kind of challenging, since much is said with picture instead of text, and Bechdel’s style also draws on large passages of other people’s text (in this case, Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott). It’s particularly hard when there are mega pillars scattered throughout the space, requiring much craning of necks, and delayed ooohs and aahs as people read the satisfying end of a speech bubble.

Craning of necks and such

I feel like the act of reading graphic novels is particularly personal, more so than the reading of an average book. Everyone has a methodology and order in which they approach the lay-out of text and images, lingering over one or the other, or jumping back and forth. Me, I read the text first, then take in the picture, then try to zoom out and sync them up as a story-telling unit in my brain.

My favorite part of Alison’s presentation was the detail she went into on her multi-step creative process. She takes pictures of herself in each posture to help herself illustrate. She meticulously researches background scenery (stores, landscapes, and the like). At one point, she showed us a close-up of an illustration of her mother, which turned out to be a short movie clip. If you watch closely, she told us, you’ll see my changes to the image. She was literally deleting pixels from her mother’s mouth, to make the expression exactly as she wanted it.

After the reading, she opened the Q&A with “Does anyone have anything they want to talk about?” No wonder the focus of her current book is psychoanalysis and introspection.

Literary geek-out captured by the lovely Kate D

Unrelated Note: I have never been in a room with so many short-haired women before. Felt strange to look like everyone else.

Related Post: Literary geek out, the Megan McCafferty edition.

Related Post: Literary geek out, the Jennifer Egan edition.

Related Post: Literary geek out, the David Mitchell edition.


Filed under Books, Chicago, Family, Gender