i’m fine, how are you

by marjorieingall on February 9, 2018

Happy 80th birthday, Judy Blume! Let us not allow our collective obsession with Forever distract us from what makes her truly magnificent! (Spoiler alert: It’s her incredible empathy for her characters, her gift for dialogue, and the fact that she’s really fucking funny.) (Also, how psyched was I to see my secular Jewish self reflected in a novel?)

An obituary for Julius Lester, marvelous writer and troublemaker.

A smart, kind, not-too-scary introduction to the Holocaust for very young viewers. 

A batshit faux-academic essay (in a journal funded by a libertarian software zillionaire) about how the sneaky Jews are trying to undermine good American values through children’s literature. 

Again I must rave about this middle-grade comic novel set in the 1980s and full of Members Only jackets and nuclear anxiety.

And I forget what’s been going on at SorryWatch because everything is terrible.


Patrick Stewart, my dad, and the New Haven pizza conundrum

by marjorieingall on January 29, 2018

Not long ago, you may have heard, Sir Patrick Stewart crowned the pies at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven the best. 

Pizza is polarizing, perhaps even politicizing. And quite frankly I need NO MORE of that shit. I’ll hunker down with my tribe, put my blinders on, and JUDGE. Make proclamations, with a generous serving of side eye. From a safe distance. So when Sir Pstew and I decided today on a whim to have lunch at @frankpepepizza in New Haven I was ready for anything. I’ve heard the hype, the wax poetic. Y’all can keep your opinions and just let Auntie Sunny EAT for fucks sake. And eat that famous clam pie I DID, for it was mighty and compelling, and Peroni (which is so damn *refreshing* on draft it might the fuck as well be club soda) to wash it down with was BINGO. Pstew’s was also so tasty he proclaimed it the best pizza he’d ever eaten (and, knowing him like I do, I know WHY he made that claim: the crust. Thin and crispy all the way through. He’s unnerved by “doughiness”, and fails to see the merit in the pliant and supplicant yield of a proper Napoletana pie. I digress.) Let’s forgive him his silverware approach…he’s a fella from Yorkshire. Eee lad, don’t know no beta up north then, do they? A half hour later back on the interstate we both remarked on the lingering garlic and salt in our mouths, and we were happy for it. Yay Frank Pepe’s and yay #newhavenpizza

A post shared by Sunny Ozell (@madameozell) on

I read this and felt melancholy. My dad, the late farklempt.com, was known for his New Haven pizza obsession. Every time he and my mom drove from Rhode Island to NYC to visit Josie (the rest of us were incidental; his granddaughter was the raison de conduire), he’d insist on stopping for a pie. Every trip, his ranking of “The Best Pizza in New Haven” changed. Thankfully, his proto-blog records some of his musings for posterity. There was no blogging software back in 1997, when he started his site, having taught himself rudimentary html, but he loved to write, loved to talk about food, and loved his family. Farklempt.com let him do all those things. 

In February 2002, when Josie was four months old, his fave was Pepe’s — “a thin chewy crust, divine sauce, lots of olive oil, and all fresh ingredients,” he wrote. “It was perhaps the best pizza we ever ate.”

He also raved about Josie’s conversational abilities, which consisted of pulling off his glasses, sticking out her tongue at him, and echoing noises back and forth. “Actually, she can speak now–she just hasn’t learned words,” he wrote.

In April, 2002, he slammed Tony & Lucille’s (after being unable to get into Pepe’s — his usual fave, rated “a Roberto Parkerelli 98”– or Sally’s), calling it “disappointing” as well as overpriced. He lamented, “The crust was thin and chewy, like Pepe’s, rather good, but the sauce was sour, the mushrooms were canned, and the spinach was sparse.” Ya burnt, Tony & Lucille.

Farklempt and mom were back again in May. The entry coos over Josie (now seven months old), rhapsodizes about Russ & Daughters (how Dad would plotz if he knew that there’s now a Russ & Daughters restaurant on Orchard and an outpost at the Jewish Museum!) and details another pizza jaunt: 

Driving home, we continued our quest for the best pizza in New Haven. Modern Apizza’s line was continually busy — this bodes well for future explorations — so we settled on Abate’s Pizza, which is next door to Pepe’s on Wooster Street. Our order was ready when we got there, and they let us eat it on their verandah, along with a bottle of old-fashioned Foxon lemon & lime soda. It was a small mushroom-spinach pizza. The mushrooms were fresh and sautéed first, the best we’ve had in New Haven, and the spinach was passable, even though it might have been canned. The sauce was first-rate…nay, delicious. The crust was not quite up to Pepe’s, a tad thicker and not as chewy. So far, the ranking is: 


1. Pepe’s
2. Abate’s
3. Sally’s

Like Sir Patrick, Dad put a LOT of value on crust quality. Also on reading

Farklempt’s next pizza check-in was in September 2002. I fear I can trace his decline on the site: There’s a spelling error, which was unlike him, and no pictures, an indication that he was tired. He did have the energy to change fonts to trumpet the all-important pizza rankings: 


Farklempt & family discover that they can phone ahead to abate’s, who accept the order graciously, start to cook the pizza, and serve it to you with utter friendliness at a table inside. And the pizza itself (onion, mushroom, spinach, sauce, and mootz, of course, is superb, tasty, hot, with all fresh ingredients! They welcome children of all ages and a full line of beverages. Folks, if you’re traveling through New Haven on 95, this is the place to stop. The New Rankings are now:

Few of the site’s links work anymore. Modern Apizza may have ranked fourth in my dad’s heart, but it was the first to have its own domain name and the only one with a still-working link, so it wins on at least one front? I am making myself sad again.

Mom and Dad were back again in October (“I think I need a 12-step program for Josie, for I have all the features of an addict,” Dad wrote) and Abate’s retained the top slot. “It was sizzling hot when I arrived — the usual mushrooms, spinach, and onion,” he wrote. “It was the best pizza ever in New Haven.”

As he got sicker, he drove less and took the train more. The New Haven entries disappeared. The Farklemptian truth about the best pizza in New Haven may now be lost to history, but I seem to recall that by the time he died, in August 2004, at age 64, he’d returned Pepe’s to the top position. No insult intended to PStew, but you really can trust my dad on this subject…unlike some people who’ve acknowledged never even tasting pizza until 2013, when they were 72. There’s only so much ground one can make up, you know? 

Dad’s last farklempt.com entry was a picture of my ultrasound from June 2004. He labeled it “Quasimoda.” He never got to meet Quasimoda, who became known as Maxine. She was born two months after his death and named for him.

She really likes pizza. 


in byline news

by marjorieingall on January 17, 2018

The enduring relevance of Broadcast News (from a “journalism is doooooomed” perspective and a #metoo perspective). I will be so cranky if Holly Hunter doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for The Big Sick. Presumably she won’t win, because comedy, but even given the Academy’s tendency to give awards to lugubrious and Important movies that do not age well, SHE SHOULD GET A NOM. 

Also! You can buy the dress! In all its ’80s realness!

[click to continue…]


stuff i wrote

by marjorieingall on January 5, 2018

Farewell to Fred Bass, man of The Strand. (Plus: My life in Strand moments.)

What Pixar’s Coco can teach us about death and loss.

Four 2017 children’s picture books you absolutely should not purchase for Hanukah (or any other occasion). 



a vintage “pseudo-womanist boys” rant

by marjorieingall on December 19, 2017

On Twitter, writer Meg Nesterov reminded me via her Instagram that I wrote this in Sassy in 1994. It seems….relevant. 

I feel like I need to footnote this for the Youth of Today. But the Youth of Today can Google. WE DIDN’T HAVE GOOGLE IN 1994, YOUTH OF TODAY! (Here’s a freebie, though: The last line is a reference to Antioch College’s affirmative consent policy, which people were horrified, furious and sneering about back in the day.)

I would cut the line about Republicans if I were writing this now. But back then people still talked about Rockefeller Republicans; Republicans then were not the semi-sentient garbage fires they are today.

Also, shut up, Matt Damon. When this was published, Matt Damon was best known for School Ties, starring Brendan Fraser. Ben Affleck had seventh billing, playing “Chesty Smith,” which, fun fact, was also the name of his character in Justice League.





Santacon bingo

by marjorieingall on December 11, 2017

I made a game.  



the best jewish children’s (and young adult) books of 2017

by marjorieingall on December 8, 2017

It’s the Best Jewish Kidlit of 2017!

Goth parfumerie Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Hanukkah fragrances!

The best children’s museum you’ve never heard of!

Inside Sir Hummus, Amsterdam’s first dedicated hummus joint!

And naturally, we have been busy lately over at SorryWatch. (FYI: We also tweet and FB, for apologies that require mockery but not analysis.)


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what’s new?

by marjorieingall on November 17, 2017

Anti-vaccine hordes attack a Jewish children’s book

Transgender Jews are creating meaningful, inclusive mikvah rituals

10 Things I’ve learned after having two kids become Bat Mitzvah.

I reviewed a bunch of YA fantasy novels for the New York Times. 

Also, I am a walking ball of phlegm, please pity me. 



friends, friends, friends

by marjorieingall on November 7, 2017

I was so excited to interview Marty Krofft, of Sid & Marty Krofft, of the newly rebooted “Sigmund & the Sea Monsters” and the classic “HR Pufnstuf” and “Lidsville” and so much more, for Tablet Magazine. And then it turned out that the Kroffts are not Jewish and there was no reason to interview them for a Jewish publication. YET SHE PERSISTED.

Dave Eggers’s new book about the Statue of Liberty is terrific.

There’s a brand new exhibit at the Tenement Museum, this one focusing on post-WWII immigration. 

It’s the ANXIETY TWIG FETISH, a talisman for our neurotic age!

Unrelated: I voted today.

On SorryWatch: Kevin Spacey‘s and Harvey Weinstein‘s apologies, analyzed. (And as a palate cleanser, a far better apology from Thor.)

And most important, my daughter became a Bat Mitzvah. 


The Talmud of Clueless

by marjorieingall on October 11, 2017

Clueless is now on Netflix, and replete with Jewishness!

I took a spooky hard-hat tour of the old abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. Look, I took a picture of a spooky window pane.

Here are three new picture books about Israel for parents who are ambivalent about Israel.

What the hell is this vintage goober of an Israeli hat doing on current fashion runways? And, God help us, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art?

Meet the Jazz-Age Jewess behind NYC’s repressive Cabaret Law.

And whoo, a bunch of new posts on SorryWatch, including a close reading of Harvey Weinstein’s execrable, whiplash-inducing apology, and a wee apology-adjacent linguistics lesson, for you word nerds. (Also, a SorryWatcher opined in USAToday about Equifax’s lousy apology.)

My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah is in 10 days and I have to make 200 origami boats. Bye.