so much Holocaust

by marjorieingall on February 15, 2020

At Tablet, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wrote about the best Holocaust books of 2019. This year, I kept all Holocaust books off my annual list of the year’s best Jewish children’s books; I promised to talk about the best Holocaust books when the day of remembrance came around. The reason: As I’ve written many times, I feel there are too damn many children’s books about the Holocaust, and for the end-of-year gifting season, I really wanted to celebrate books that were NOT about genocide.

That said: If I were allowing myself to add ONE MORE book to the Best Holocaust Books column, it would be A Boy Is Not A Bird, about an 11-year-old boy in Romania in 1941. The only reason I cut it was that it’s sorta more Holocaust-adjacent than Holocaust? No Nazis, no concentration camps. (Honestly, consider that a point in its favor: Lesser-known setting.) A Boy is Not a Bird is both accomplished and odd, with an unreliable narrator — I love an unreliable narrator.

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in which my brother and his husband have a simcha

by marjorieingall on January 23, 2020

Keeping on the feel-good tip, here is a story about joy and liberation and a Bat Mitzvah at CBST, New York City’s LGBTQ shul. (Autocorrect changed that to “soul,” and yeah, that too.) 

And at SorryWatch, this is less happy: Crappy apologies, apology-shaped objects, and onomatopology after the implosion at Romance Writers of America

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happy new year (?)

by marjorieingall on January 3, 2020

Here’s hoping 2020 is better than 2019.

In upbeat news, I am enjoying Oscar Isaac and John Boyega giving Disney agita as they promote Star War: Rise of the War Star. (Oscar Isaac, repeatedly: “I wanted my character to bone John’s character, you Mouse cowards.” John Boyega: “Reylo SUX.”) I did not like this movie for many reasons — mostly that it was incoherent — but what I liked best were these guys’ performances.  


More upbeat news: Here is my annual list for Tablet of the best Jewish children’s and young adult books of the year. It was a particularly strong year! Which is good, because we Jews need all the help we can get at the moment. This reminds me: Non-Jewish friends, please explore the “Love Your Neighbor” booklists compiled by the Association of Jewish Libraries: Four lists of children’s books on various Jewish topics, designed to foster understanding and solidarity.

Also, I reviewed four picture book biographies for the New York Times Book Review. 

On SorryWatch, we have a poor apology for racism in the restaurant world and a poor apology for tree destruction. Please send us your good apologies. We need them right now. (And as we said on Twitter: The Pope’s apology was fine. It was not great.) 

 

 

 

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News of the Jews

by marjorieingall on November 23, 2019

A personal history of Sesame Street at 50. (I am trash for Oscar.) 

Musings on Jenny Slate‘s performance and writing. 

The history of anti-Semitism at Emory University’s dental school (and, sadly, in midcentury dental schools across the country). I loved talking to Perry Brickman; one of my fave interviews in years. 

And on SorryWatch, apologies after yet another young adult literature blowup, plus a forthcoming book that helps kids be mensches (which includes knowing how to apologize well). 

Also I made Revenge Meatloaf (and went viral). Pretty good. A lot of meat. Vengefully tasty. 

 

 

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Happy Halloween

by marjorieingall on October 31, 2019

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Nu, where are all the scary Jewish children’s books?  (We’ll always have Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.)

In other children’s book news, I read a middle-grade graphic novel about the Holocaust I actually liked!

At SorryWatch, raging at the Astros’ lying Assistant GM (now out of a job, deservedly, and too bad about the World Series, fellas); sharing a nice poem about creating the world we want to live in; and musing about forgiveness for Yom Kippur. 

Also, we are Halloween-festive here.

   

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wedding dresses, just because

by marjorieingall on October 21, 2019

I enjoyed this post on wedding dresses, from Liz Black, a writer revisiting her wedding dress nine years later. It made me think of my own dress-purchasing adventures. 

Twenty-one (!!) years ago, Jonathan and I got married in a redwood grove in St Helena, CA. It was on the grounds of an old run-down hot sulphur spring resort that smelled like farts, but the setting was ethereally gorgeous. We set up a chuppah in the redwoods and crossed over a little brook on a footbridge decorated by our friends with flowers and then had dinner in a field. Hippies!

I bought and returned three dresses in quick succession, reflecting the fact that I wasn’t really sure of who I was back then. 1. Shopping with mom, I bought a vintage Priscilla of Boston fancy-schmancy white dress. Priscilla of Boston was famous for designing Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids’ dresses in the 1950s; the company, which specialized in ungapatchka lacy and beaded concoctions, went under in 2011. The dress, while beautiful, was not me. We returned it to the vintage shop.

I don’t have a picture of my ungapatchka dress but here is Princess Grace in hers? 

 

She looks terrified!

2. At the Jessica McClintock outlet in San Francisco (it was CLEARLY very important to me that I not spend a lot of money on my wedding dress, because I was an OFFBEAT AND ALTERNATIVE BRIDE, dammit), I bought a lime green gown with a satin corset top and tulle skirt. I planned to dye my hair (which at the time had pink and purple stripes in it) to match the dress. Husband was worried that I would clash with the lawn. I returned the dress. I wasn’t convinced that green hair would look that great on me anyway. Update: Jessica McClintock, who was born in 1930 (and is best known for being the designer of Gunne Sax in the ’70s and early ’80s, when I rocked her wares on the Bat Mitzvah circuit), retired in 2013 (!) and shut down her business. She’s since licensed her name for manufacture overseas. 

I found my green dress online, but the satin panels have faded unevenly and the tulle has discolored to a sickly lemon. It was really pretty, I swear! 

 

Imagine it looking more like this (this seller has a way with seductive lighting!), but in bright lime green.

For a time, I flirted with the idea of a flippy white Betsey Johnson mini-dress that I can’t find online. It was spaghetti strapped, with swirly white embroidery and little clear holographic sequins all over it. My mom conveyed her disapproval, and her imprimatur mattered to me a lot. Make of that what you will. I did not buy it.

3. I found the perfect dress at Jeremy’s, the late, lamented designer discount shop in San Francisco. (I am delighted to discover that a) Jeremy’s was pioneering enough to have registered the domain jeremys.com, and b) though the store is gone, the web site is still up! Thank you, Jeremy! Fare thee well!) It was dead simple, the product of an Italian label I no longer recall: A long, white, architectural A-line dress made of layered stretch mesh. (The sleeves had just one layer, so they were sheer; the rest of the dress had two. Still pretty sheer, but there was a slip and a lot of fabric in the skirt, so it wasn’t that CHECK OUT MY HOOHAH.) The sleeves were a little long, so I cut them with a scissors. Like a delicious porridge or comfy chair or proper-sized bed, it felt just right. After the wedding, I had a friend tie-dye it in purples and lavenders, so I could actually wear it again. (And did. I mentioned I lived in San Francisco, right?) Now my 18-year-old wears the slip (also tie-dyed) as a dress. 

Ha, you can see how unevenly I cut the sleeves! 

Anyway, just musing about the past, as one does when prompted by Fashion Thoughts. 

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Burning Man and Elizabeth Perkins (no, not together)

by marjorieingall on September 19, 2019

Go read this delightful cartoon by Kelly Bahmer-Brouse about Frances Perkins and her hats. Which is relevant because early this week, Elizabeth Warren spoke about Perkins in Washington Square Park, right by Perkins’s former home. I was there, but wasn’t planning to write about it because Tablet had already assigned it to the lovely Paul Berman. But then in the staff meeting the next morning, another dude said he was going to cover it too, and I blurted out, “SO ARE ALL THE WHITE MEN GOING TO WRITE ABOUT ELIZABETH WARREN???” To my editors’ credit, they encouraged me to write something too, and though I don’t know that we needed three takes on the same event (they billed it as a triptych) I was very jazzed by the topic of Elizabeth Warren and the Triangle Fire. (And Perkins too.) Regular readers know the depth of my Triangle Fire obsession. [click to continue…]

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Tisha B’Av and TV

by marjorieingall on August 9, 2019

Here are some things I wrote: A look at activism planned for the Jewish holiday/fast day of Tisha B’Av (here’s a hint: #JewsAgainstICE, #CloseTheCamps); a 30th anniversary tribute to Lois Lowry’s great Number the Stars for The Horn Book (not online, sorry); and a suggestion for how to pair two different picture books about gratitude from two different cultures.

Again, I feel dumb writing flippantly when terrible things are happening all around us, but here I go. The rest of my family was away for much of the last week, so here are the things I binged on TV!

  1. Always Be My Maybe (so freaking funny! and the lovely cinematography made me feel warm about San Francisco again, which is quite an accomplishment! and yay, Keanu!)
  2. The entire sixth season (so far) of Younger (as ever, a daffy skewed look at book publishing plus really fun clothes — there are at least three web sites and tumblrs devoted to the fashion — and as ever, Miriam Schor is a delight, BUT ALSO for the last two seasons Laura Benanti has been a delight!)
  3. The entire third season of Jessica Jones (so well-acted — brava especially to Rebecca de Mornay — and it’s a whole show about complex female relationships: between friends, and between mothers and daughters)
  4. The godawful but very shirtless Red Sea Diving Resort

Now that the fam is back, I need to finish Queer Eye with my older daughter; The Boys with my younger daughter (such a darkly funny, cynical look at the marketing of superheroes and patriotism!); and Good Omens, Pose, Better Things, Big Little Lies, and When They See Us with my husband.

Escapism: Essential right now. 

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only talking about positive things in this post!

by marjorieingall on July 22, 2019

SWEDEN, of all places, has become a huge source of Yiddish children’s media! Meshuggeh!

The woman who runs the chevra kadisha (Jewish burial society) in Santa Cruz offers beautiful advice about living, gleaned from 20 years of her work in death. 

Just finished watching Stranger Things 3. I’d gotten the impression the season was weaker than its predecessors. I didn’t think so. I loved all the ’80s pop culture references, and loved that one of the themes was growing up at a different rate from your friends. So much middle-grade fiction seems to address this, but not many movies or TV shows. It was also super-fun seeing the brand packaging and logos from that era again. Also, I had a shirt very much like the diagonally striped, elbow-length puff-sleeved number Nancy Wheeler wore. (Most of her outfits were actual ’80s dead stock, though that top was apparently made by the costume department.)

Also, I extremely belatedly saw Booksmart and thought it was hilarious. It’s just a remix of a trashy ’80s teen comedy, but centering female friendships, feelings and experiences. I do wish they’d left out the teacher-student sex (just because it’s a female teacher and male student doesn’t make it ok, even when the teacher is played by the wonderful Jessica Williams) and the deliberate dosing of someone else with hallucinogens played for laughs. Uncool.

Did I mention I am going to Burning Man? I am going to Burning Man. It’ll be my husband’s 21st burn, my first.

 

Also, this is a fashion challenge that I vow to rise to.

I invented a delicious salad: Spinach, arugula, lemon cucumbers from our garden, warm chicken grilled by my husband, sliced peaches and radishes in a sriracha carrot ginger miso dressing. Feta or nuts would have been good but feta with chicken isn’t kosher and if I eat nuts I die. Which would not make this a positive post. 

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a meditation on borscht and family

by marjorieingall on July 8, 2019

Ah, the potency of borscht as memory. Look, it’s no coincidence that no one is neutral about borscht: You love it, you hate it, or you have never tasted it. There is no neutral. Because for Ashkenazi Jews and Eastern Europeans, borscht is family history. People get fierce about how to make the proper borscht. There’s even a children’s book called The Princess of Borscht about how EVERY borscht-maker feels her borscht is the best borscht (I wish I could recommend it — the text is wonderful but I loathe the static, wispy art).

Also, while we’re pondering hot vs. cold, here is a quirky history of NYC’s public bathhouses and outdoor pools (unshockingly, both are products of Jewish visionaries in different decades). Happy summer. 

 

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