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. 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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9 bits of historical ephemera found while cleaning! 

by marjorieingall on June 15, 2019

In no particular order:
 
1. The first (photocopied) issue of Bust Magazine! I remember a fun rooftop launch party in 1993.
 
2. An ad for Sassy in Ad Age, starring me and a reader! I remember the Sassy staff being peeved & mortified at being made to do ads. (Not as peeved & mortified as we were by the Sassy Experience Game tho.) 
 
 
3. A long-lost zine by a girl who bailed on her Sassy internship after one day and wrote an EXPOZAAY in which she said I dressed like a suburban Cure fan. I have remembered this for 25 years. Found the zine a couple months ago at Anne Bernstein’s yard sale, SHRIEKED!

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Tootsie and Anne Frank (this is a bad post title)

by marjorieingall on June 9, 2019

Yay, hip is better. Two steroid shots, new NSAID, started physical therapy.

Also yay, I am ridiculously excited for the Tony Awards. I’ve seen way more of the nominated shows this year than usual, maybe because more shows this year than usual were feminist-ish, LGBT-ish, or media-related-ish.

Here is a Tablet piece I did on the Jewification of Tootsie: The Musical. The Broadway show is way more Jewy-feeling (and way better) than the movie; I rewatched the latter and it’s mostly cringe-inducing, sorry. The show is still problematic, but at least trying? However, I am IRKED that no one is talking about how Dustin Hoffman, credited as a producer on the musical, has been accused by several women of sexual assault and sexual harassment. So that’s nice. 

Hoffman responded to the first accusation with, “That’s not who I am.” And coincidentally (really!) I just wrote about the offensiveness of the phrase “This is not who I am” for SorryWatch! (So many celebrities have said it; I did not know until I googled yesterday that Hoffman was one of them.) But uh, the entire cast of Tootsie: The Musical is delightful and I will be happy if Santino Fontana wins a Tony and I will rewatch all of his Crazy Ex-Girlfriend videos in tribute. (But I want Hadestown to win for best musical, because it is no question the best musical.)

Here’s a piece I did for our indispensable neighborhood blog, EVGrieve, on a manga-obsessed (and charming!) librarian new to our local branch.

And here’s a piece on why people should stop writing children’s books about Anne Frank. They’re frequently saccharine, universalizing in a damaging-to-history way, trivializing even when they’re well-meaning…and given how badly Anne wanted to be a writer, can’t we do her the courtesy of reading her work? If you feel your child is too young to read The Diary of Anne Frank, maybe WAIT rather than giving them a picture book narrated by the tree outside her window or her roommate’s cat? Also, maybe there are some other stories — maybe even some non-Holocaust stories! — more suitable for picture books? Maybe the Holocaust, as I have noted in multiple pieces, has developed a dangerously outsized role in contemporary Jewish identity? 

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game of moans

by marjorieingall on May 12, 2019

Warning: Whine.

I have a brutal cold and ALSO sudden and terrible hip pain. Knew about the bursitis and tendinitis, but an x-ray showed BONUS arthritis and a bone spur, woot. I suspect this is all a result of the rod-implantation and removal surgery I had on a broken femur when I was 11. But who the hell knows. My family is at the Lizzo show at Brooklyn Steel, and I can’t stand up for that long, so I’m feeling sorry for myself.

Look at Lizzo at the Met Gala. 

WE PERSEVERE.

I was stuck on the couch, so I watched the Mr. Rogers documentary, and I swore I wasn’t gonna cry and then I cried. It’s beautifully crafted and the last few minutes are so moving. Here’s a quote (from a bit earlier in the film, not from when I was crying) about Mr. Rogers’s decision to come out of retirement to do a special on 9-11, despite not being sure he could help. He said, “I felt that I had to speak to the families of our country about grief — a plea not to leave the children isolated and at the mercy of their own fantasies of loss and destruction. Children have very deep feelings, just the way parents do, just the way everybody does, and our striving to understand those feelings and to better respond to them is what I feel is a most important task in the world.” 

I MEAN.  

Which is a good segue to this piece I did for the New York Times Book Review about three lovely short novels for young readers that tackle loss and grief. I also wrote about the first national study of Jewish grandparents for Tablet, and did a fun history piece about lessons modern-day women activists can learn from the Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902. It is so instructive reading the Times’s coverage of that event: It treats the Jewish women strikers like animals — uncivilized and instinctual and clueless about how the world works — and blithely excuses police brutality. I did like one description of the women protesters:  “Armed with sticks, vocabularies, and well sharpened nails.” We can do that!

 

 

 

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