Poetic Feminist Rant

I talked with a group of poets yesterday. Poetry operates at a level beyond my ordinary grasp; often it reads like an excuse for lazy incoherence rather than stabs at truth. In yesterday’s case, the writers had forged their art around efforts to ensure equal rights and legal protections for women. The event rose above … Continue reading Poetic Feminist Rant

Thoreau’s First New Yorker Cartoon

The wordless cartoons of Nurit Karlin. The sketched illustrations of R.O. Blechman. Turns out these staples from The New Yorker have an antecedent in Henry David Thoreau. Had The New Yorker been around, how might Thoreau have captioned this sketch from Journal XVII, kept February 1854 to September 1854? Certainly not as follows: At the steam-mill sand-bank was … Continue reading Thoreau’s First New Yorker Cartoon

Thoreau, Hold the Joe

Noble and wise, Henry David Thoreau also could be irascible, judgy, and temperamental. In Walden, we learn why: a conspicuous absence of coffee. Take his list of supplies: Rice..... $ 1.73½ Molasses..... 1.73     Cheapest form of the saccharine. Rye meal..... 1.04¾ Indian meal..... 0.99¾     Cheaper than rye. Pork..... 0.22 Flour..... 0.88  Costs more than Indian meal, both money … Continue reading Thoreau, Hold the Joe

Sold Out at In-N-Out

Must applaud the good fortune visited upon author Ted Gup this week in the form of free advertising for his former best-seller The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. Published almost two decades ago, Gup's book found renewed celebrity when it appeared on the front page of New York's gift to … Continue reading Sold Out at In-N-Out

Fly America, Call the Philippines (pt II)

When your official government itinerary on U.S.-flag contract carrier United Airlines is thrown into disarray because of concerns about flying over Iranian air space... ...and the United agents can't confirm the final leg of your trip (which includes traveling on Air Canada, Germany's Lufthansa, and Air India) for 24 hours... ...so that after two hours on … Continue reading Fly America, Call the Philippines (pt II)

A Trail in Two Countries

Years ago I traveled the sands of Saudi Arabia, stopping along the way to tour the  old camel train forts. I visited these caravanserai along the Hejaz Railway, the line targeted by T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. My journeys between 2003-05 took me north from Jeddah through … Continue reading A Trail in Two Countries

Operation Sheltering Sky

Rajasthan is desert country, 70% of the state---India's largest---an arid mix of scrub and sand. We trekked by camel into the Thar Desert about 50 km outside Jaisalmer. Abdullah led our beasts on foot, their names Simon, Paulos, and---inexplicably---Johnny No. 1. Toward sunset we reached the Sam Dunes. The wind died down and we made … Continue reading Operation Sheltering Sky

“The Whites…”

An ugly and violent upward trend divides us along ethnic lines today. In order to stay sane in the face of this spreading and dangerous hate, one need only look to Walter Sobchak, the right-wing nut job Vietnam vet (and convert to Judaism!) from The Big Lebowski... https://youtu.be/dQbpx5Be5rI His utter disdain for his own dirty … Continue reading “The Whites…”

Maneater

This review just slays it. Jason Overdorf hunts with a sharp pen and takes down Dane Huckelbridge's narrative about what would seem a brutally interesting topic. And he doesn't stop there. He spills ink like blood all over the slain author's enablers: "He is not without accomplices in this crime against the English language, either. … Continue reading Maneater

Bless Their (little) Hearts

It would be easy to give in to rage over this image in the NRA's official organ, The American Rifleman. It would be natural and normal to descend into name-calling against them. But that's exactly what the NRA wants, isn't it? Emotional contagion. Rather than express my disgust at this callous provocation to violence, I'll … Continue reading Bless Their (little) Hearts