I receive a lot of press releases and story pitches in my day job. Lately, companies seem to be eager to tell me how consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that take a stand, have a conscience, and are good corporate citizens. I want to write back, “Yeah, I know. Let me tell you about my coat.” But, since that would be weird, I’m going to tell you about my coat. Continue reading
“She reminded me of a warning I was fond of repeating: do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” – Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
These words appear on the first page of Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I took down off the shelf today after finally finishing The Stand by Stephen King. I found both books in the donated piles at the Welles Turner Memorial Library Book Sale–the kind of lovely town event where kids show up towing red wagons and you see spouses barking at each other about who is supposed to cover which table. But after spending the better part of three months with the lone survivors of the super flu (aka Captain Trips), I was on the hunt for something very, very different. Little did I know that the first page of Nafisi’s book would send me back to the often bleak world of The Stand. Continue reading
Yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by Senator Mitch McConnell during debate over Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General. Because Seantor Warren is a badass, she just went on Facebook Live and read the letter from Coretta Scott King she was going to read in the debate. Then McConnell gave women the mantra we’ve been looking for. I had to meme it.
Feel free to steal and share!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m addicted to podcasts. And lately my listening tastes have leaned toward the political.
Here’s the thing, skimming your Facebook and Twitter feeds isn’t really informing you. Even if you’re clicking through to actually read some of those articles, they can only do so much. Sometimes you need more insight or analysis (preferably not of the screaming talking-head variety)…or you just need to have a laugh along with your political chat. That’s when I turn to podcasts. Continue reading
My boyfriend is hard to buy gifts for. Not because he “has everything”–in fact, it’s just the opposite. He makes an effort to shop ethically, which, mostly means not supporting brands that use sweatshop labor. For the first year or so of our relationship this meant he mostly shopped at second-hand stores or bought things made in America. That’s not easy these days. But over the past few years a handful of brands have made their way onto his “approved” list, and–for whatever reason–they are mostly outdoorsy brands, like Patagonia, that have a commitment to the environment and the workers in their factories.
L.L.Bean is one of those brands. There’s a store not far from my home, and at first, he was skeptical. He knew the company makes their Bean boots in Maine, but couldn’t quite wrap his mind around how the company keeps prices reasonable without exploitative labor practices. Then he had the chance to ask an actual employee, who explained that because Bean doesn’t sell merchandise through third parties and goes direct to consumers it can keep its prices down. Meanwhile, it stays committed to making some of its most popular products in the U.S. Continue reading
I’ve been listening to this song a lot lately, and have yet to get through it without shedding a tear or two. I’m a sucker for a simple song of gratitude. I hope it brings some joy to your day–which may be spent arguing about politics with your family.
And maybe, when you’re done, give some thought to the folks at Standing Rock. Set aside, for a moment, the problem with the pipeline and what it would mean for the environment on a global scale, not just for the people at Standing Rock. It is a national disgrace that indigenous people-or any people–are still being treated this way by the government. If you can’t get away from work to help support them in person, please consider donating.
A couple of days ago I went to visit a friend, and she told me a story that stuck with me as the single most of-the-moment tale I’ve ever heard. I decided it needed to be told to a wider audience.
You’ve heard about Pokemon Go, right? If not, you have somehow successfully avoided the internet, the local news, and pop-culture as a whole for the past week, and I salute you. Basically, an augmented reality game meant for children has taken over the world, and adults are now wandering around staring at their mobile devices looking for “hidden” cartoons.
When I first started dating my boyfriend he asked me what I thought was the most important issue facing the world. I said, unequivocally, the environment. Without a healthy environment, the rest of it doesn’t matter. We won’t be here to worry about the economy, or politics, or terrorism, or inequality. So when news broke about the illegal killing of Cecil the Lion, my blood boiled.
For me, this is just more evidence of the kind of human arrogance–and sometimes ignorance–that is responsible for everything from climate change to habitat destruction to plain old littering. Scientists warn that were are headed for a mass extinction: “While the extinction of a species is normal and occurs at a natural ‘background’ rate of around 1-5 per year, species loss is currently occurring at over 1,000 times the background rate.” Continue reading
Sorry, I’m done laughing now. According to Slate’s Jamelle Bouie, the reason a recent CNN poll puts The Donald in second place among GOP candidates is:
“…unlike the professional politicians in the race, Trump is—from his views on immigration to the ‘issue’ of Obama’s citizenship—one of them.”
This is sad, but probably true. There is only one response to anyone who thinks Trump is just like them:
Lately, much of my regular media diet has been made of up of discussions of Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy. From NPR to Slate, everyone’s talking about it. Here, take a few minutes to catch up:
- Slate Double X Podcast
- Two Moody Bitches Discuss Moody Bitches
- On Point with Tom Ashbrook
- and here is a NYT article from the book’s author, Julie Holland
This ad is stupid for any number of reasons, but the one thing I keep thinking about is the HUGE disparity between the Secret Service and school security guards. Secret Service agents are highly trained professionals at the top of their game who have been extensively screened (they may like prostitutes but none of them have flipped out and tried to kill any of the people they’re supposed to protect). On the other hand, the security guards in my high school usually came to work in sweatpants and may or may not have been dealing drugs. They should not have been allowed to carry weapons (and probably shouldn’t have been allowed to drive their sweet Trans-Ams). So, is the NRA suggesting we give all schools a couple of Secret Service agents? Maybe some retired Seal Team 6 members?
A while back I wrote a post called “Get Scared, Buy Stuff” which was about the way marketers scare you into thinking you’re ugly to buy make-up, and into thinking a nuclear holocaust is coming so you’ll become a doomsday prepper and put a bunker filled with MREs and grenades in your backyard. I started thinking about this again, thanks to the National Rife Association.
I often wonder what world people live in that they think they need semi-automatic weapons to protect their families. The truth is, they live in the same world I do… they’ve just bought into the BS marketing tactics of the NRA (and the weapons manufacturers that are their bread and butter). Continue reading
I love comedy for its ability to discuss difficult subjects in a less depressing way — like talking to any hate monger from the Westboro Baptist Church. I mean, honestly, who would have thought Russell Brand would be the voice of reason in any situation?
I used to work in Newtown, Connecticut and I lived just down the road in Monroe. I volunteered at the pound, and every once in a while I drive the hour or so back there to visit one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a beautiful town. Exactly what you think of when you picture Connecticut. Beautiful old homes line the main road, and Ram Pasture Park is the kind of place where you see retrievers running in the snow, geese sitting on the pond, and where you can still picture actual rams grazing in the grass. And then there’s the infamous flag pole, which confounds drivers.
I was never really a part of this community, but I know people who are. It’s a community much like the one I grew up in. So when I saw the news today, I was shocked. Sad. Angry.
I sat here watching the news for a while, watching the images of children marching single-file through the parking lot. Listening as elementary school children, with pearl earrings, reported what they’d heard and experienced. I looked at the faces of the newscasters I grew up with as they stumbled over their words, struggled to figure out what was going on, and tried the explain what the hell had happened. Cried with the parents who sobbed as they retrieved their children from the school…or worse.
Eventually I decided to get up and walk the dog. We took the long route, and I streamed NPR to my phone, listening to the news as I walked. It was an unusually beautiful day, today. Not warm, exactly, but not cold. It was clear and sunny, and not so windy that your nose and ears throb. It made me think about 911. Continue reading