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“Seven at one blow!” said the little man with great pride. “Such a brave deed ought to be known all over the town, and it won’t be my fault if folks fail to hear of it.” “I don’t know if Joe Biden would make a good President,” said a friend. “He seems like he might be one of those creepy uncles – never been married; no life of his own. I was reading about him in…” Suddenly, my mind felt a wad of hair slip down and clog my drain/brain. My thoughts ran slowly, gurgling, slightly murky. “But he’s been married twice,” I offered tentatively. “His first wife and baby died in a car accident, I think,” suddenly unsure of my memory. “He’s married now. Her name is Jill.” My friend looked at me, momentarily gob smacked. “Biden’s married. I knew that,” she stammered. “But what… what was I reading???” […]

The rabbi stood before his congregation last Saturday and in his comforting baritone, spoke as rabbis have spoken for centuries: Keep yourself clear of the fighting between the Christians and the Muslims and any combination therein.  We aren’t like them.  We are separate; we are above.  We don’t breathe the same air they breathe.  We don’t eat as they eat.  We don’t drink from the same stream.  We don’t cry as they cry or laugh as they laugh.  We don’t give birth in pain or die alone.  Winter comes for them but not for us.  If they are cold and freeze to death, so be it.  As long as we are warm, all is as it should be. Have I forgotten anything? Yes, Rabbi.  One small thing:  It didn’t work then; it won’t work now. If you are suggesting we adopt isolationism, Rabbi, you must have flunked Jewish History1-001.   And […]

Pull it together, for crying out loud! I can’t settle. I can’t write right. Words fail me. My anger feeds my fear and my fear feeds my feelings of insignificance and impotence and that, in turn, feeds the deadening belief that everything I do from here on must be of great significance. I need to write a warning that’s gripping and funny and pithy, and personally momentous, while, at the same time, historically accurate and, above all, true. But, in fact, I can barely see the screen because I can’t stop crying out loud! Literarily. Literally. Then Miriam sent me Sarah Ruhl’s speech. Every artist deserves a daughter like Miriam. Remarks from playwright Sarah Ruhl on accepting the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust Distinguished Playwright of the Year Award at Lincoln Center, New York on Monday, November 14, 2016. Thank you so much. I am so honored, and humbled, […]

Angry? Me? Who am I to be angry? Let’s talk about experts: the people we trust to have delved deeply into a certain topic because it interests them more than it does us. Besides, none of us has the time to learn everything about everything. These experts might also be beyond us on the scale of brains but I often wonder about that. I’m thinking right now about Eugene Volokh, professor of law at UCLA School of Law, espouse to be expert on the 1st and 2nd Amendments (freedom of speech and the right to bear arms). At least other experts say he’s an expert. He was probably a brilliant baby because he graduated from UCLA at age 15. He now teaches while contributing his expertise to the Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and more. How could anyone, especially me, doubt that he’s an expert? This guy […]

I’ve said it so many times, I can’t remember to whom I’ve said it and on what walls of which elevators I’ve scratched it with my nail file or in what bathroom stalls I’ve written it in permanent marker. But I’ll say it once again, here, with emphasis: I hate old people jokes. I cringe when I hear jokes about faulty memories or sagging body parts. Some might see these quips as self-deprecating and a means of bonding. I see these jokes as examples of self-hatred. I have to admit I’ve made a few of those miserable jokes myself but all ageism makes me sad, even my own. Words wield terrible power. As George Orwell said, “… if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” Words can be used to build walls between people and insinuate assassination. And, despite what some loose-lipped liars think, words cannot be taken back. […]

Dodo-birds, Unite! Before We’re All Fricassee The following is a speech from Tony Kushner’s play, A Bright Room Called Day. Shut up. Listen. There is something calling…. If you still retain a shred of decency you can hear it – it’s a dim terrible voice that’s calling — a bass howl, like a cow in a slaughterhouse, but far, far off… It is calling us to action, calling us to stand against the calamity, to spare nothing, not our blood, nor our happiness, nor our lives in the struggle to stop the dreadful day that’s burning now in oil flames on the horizon. What makes the voice pathetic is that it doesn’t know what kind of people it’s reaching. Us. No one hears it, except us. This Age wanted heroes. It got us instead: carefully constructed, but immobile. Subtle, but unfit to take up the burden of the times. It […]

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I hate the cavalier way people use the horrific to describe the irritating or inconvenient, like calling the lifeguards at our small beach Sand-Nazis because they were constantly blowing their whistles or calling airport security Baggage-Nazis, no explanation necessary. I cringe when I hear someone make a thoughtless reference to a contemporary, comparing him or her to Hitler. This is because, as a graduate student, I studied Germany and Eastern Europe. I hung out, during that time, in the cellars of beastly charisma, totalitarianism, naked nationalism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, tyranny, and genocide, becoming intimate with the unique qualities of the Nazi Reich and the people and circumstances which baked the cake known today as the Holocaust. Irreverent as I am, this piece of history has a sacredness for me. It was a lesson of shocking proportions that we could be learning from forever. The ability to pull off such an immense […]

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. Henry David Thoreau   I might have hesitated to blog. I certainly don’t tweet.  I thought: It’s just not me.  Social media, you understand, is so… common, vacuous, and too often badly written. But my sneer slips when confronted with the fact that people are being murdered for expressing themselves through Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs.  People are being threatened, terrorized, disappeared, shot in the head, chopped into pieces.  If anything can bring home the validity of social media, it is that courageous and honest writers are speaking out, via their blogs and tweets, about the injustices engulfing their fellow human beings and that their enemies will do everything possible to silence these truths. In October, a Mexican drug cartel murdered María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, aka FELINA, who had taken on the job […]

I’m still not sure about this blogging thing.  For example, when I wrote about my evening out with friends a couple of weeks ago, I forgot to mention Scott.  I feel awful.  How could I have forgotten Scott? I’ll tell you.  Writing quickly, without a day or preferably a week or a month in which to edit and revise, is dangerous.  I might say anything—insult my best friend, damage my daughter, cast off my husband, forget Scott—without realizing the smallest bit is amiss.  I write slowly—painfully slowly—for good reason. I remember seeing Arianna Huffington on the Daily Show, prior to the launch of the Huffington Post, attempting to sell Stewart on the benefit of blogs.  “Think of all those jokes that you write but toss into the junk because you have less than 30 minutes to make your point and be funny.”  (I’m paraphrasing like crazy because I cannot find […]

Cecil the Lion or rather his pelt will be competing for most common costume this Halloween—appropriate, considering this is the holiday on which, traditionally, we celebrate the dead.  Beyond Cecil, we should expect to see a lot of stock 2015 movie characters.  I’m talking about costumes worn by adults, here.  Children may be wearing jeans and sweatshirts, as fewer schools are celebrating Halloween in an effort not to offend—anyone. I grew up in the Halloween Capitol of the World where we could Trick-or-Treat for days before so that we wouldn’t be left candy-less, as on the day itself were parades down Main Street, one during the day and one even larger at night following the football game at the Pumpkin Bowl.   I can remember three of my costumes: a rabbit, a hobo, and a Southern belle.  The other years I was probably wearing a band uniform, a kind of costume; […]