No one looks forward to accusing a national celebrity, a candidate for President, of rape or sexual assault. No one WANTS to be in the national media talking about a violation of their body, to be asked probing questions that violate their privacy, to be called a liar and an opportunist and a slut.
No woman in the country is ignorant to the experience of such an accusation, even when her abuser is not famous. Your life becomes defined by the worst thing that ever happened to you, your identity buried beneath that of the person who violated you. And for every woman who came forward and was believed, there are dozens, hundreds maybe, who came forward and were ignored.
In my near-38 years on this Earth, I have never learned to appreciate one of the most popular and commercially successful agricultural products our planet has to offer. Coffee is woven into American social fabric like almost nothing else, to the point where the word is almost synonymous with conversation; and yet for the last decade or so I have begun each morning not with a hot cup of Ethiopian Coffea, but a cold can of Diet Coke. Which, frankly… people look at you funny.
So I have embarked on a quest to learn to love the roasted black bean, though it’s not the first time in my life I’ve made such an attempt. I’ve tried coffee drinks a few times in my life, usually getting them to within a half inch of my face before recoiling. In the early 2010s I went so far as to purchase a bag of blonde roast beans (having heard those were less harsh and more friendly to beginners) and brewed them up in the French press I keep at home for guests. It didn’t go well. This time, I will succeed. Continue Reading
First Release: They Might Be Giants (AKA “The Pink Album“), 1986
(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)
One of the early songs that defined the band’s sound, with a video that defined their artistic look, “Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head” is an anti-conformity anthem that showcases their ability to be simultaneously obtuse and profound. With an upbeat sound and dark lyrics, this is one of those definitive They Might Be Giants standards–it comes in at #25 only because of the band’s prolific output and my personal tastes.
Every now and then, I appreciate a good Internet meme. My friend and former boss tagged me to name ten books that have had a meaningful influence on me. I’ve presented my ten below, in no particular order. I have a terrible memory for exercises like this one, and I’m certain I’ve forgotten some very important or influential books. I’m also a little ashamed that my list is so damn white and so damn male. Out of ten authors, nine are white dudes. Poor Cacilda Jetha is the only one to check any boxes on the diversity chart. I even managed to work in an outspoken homophobe. Jeez.
Partly I can blame that on the fact that many of these come from my childhood or adolescence, when women and writers of color received less prominence, but mostly it’s a reflection on my reading habits.
I was tempted to massage this list a little bit, dropping in One Hundred Years of Solitude or Wild Seed to make myself look more inclusive, but decided to go with the ugly truth. I never finished the Marquez in its entirety, and while Octavia Butler is a genius and her book was terrific, it just doesn’t have the same long-standing influence on me that these ten do. The ugly truth is that, while I join the calls for more diversity in fiction, the books that shaped me most were by white dudes. But I’m working on changing that.
1. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton 1990
This book will always be dear to me, because it’s the book that made me want to write novels. It came to our house via book club, and sat on the shelf for a few weeks before that Tyrannosaurus silhouette wooed me into opening the pages. If you’ve only seen the film and never read the book, you’re missing out on the complex, nuanced plot that first inspired me to try it myself.
2. Small Pig, Arnold Lobell 1969
The book that taught me to read. I made my parents read it to me over and over again, even after I’d memorized it all so I could recite it along with them. To this day, mentioning “Small Pig” will get an eye roll from Mom and Dad. Continue Reading