Terry Gross Is Bad for the Country

Photo: William F. Steinmetz/Philadelphia Inquirer

Photo: William F. Steinmetz/Philadelphia Inquirer

Conventional wisdom holds that Terry Gross, host of WHYY-produced NPR staple Fresh Air, is the best interviewer in the business. Conventional wisdom is full of shit. Let’s start with her mannerisms. Sarah Miller captured them perfectly in her New Yorker parody “Gwyneth Paltrow Talks to Terry Gross About Conscious Uncoupling”:

GROSS: Okay, I wonder — could you maybe take — you know, like a typical scene from a breakup and describe it as though it were an opera? And then, maybe, could you describe the same scene through the lens of conscious uncoupling? Could you … do you think you could maybe do that, for us?

The hesitant, beseeching ingénue, so timidly obsequious — cut the crap, Terry. You’ve been doing this for 40 years. If you asked guests to strip naked and stick daisies up their arses, they would. Read more »

Kyle Beckerman’s Engagement Photos Make Me Ashamed to Be an American

USA midfielder Kyle Beckerman following the game against Portugal during the 2014 World Cup at Arena Amazonia. Photo |  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

USA midfielder Kyle Beckerman following the game against Portugal during the 2014 World Cup at Arena Amazonia. Photo | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I’m a big soccer fan. I was a big soccer fan even before this World Cup. I love watching soccer on TV. (I know — weird, right?) I get into arguments with my husband over Michael Bradley. I think Kyle Beckerman is the hottest thing since sliced bread.

Hold on. Make that “I thought” and “was.” Because I just saw Kyle Beckerman’s engagement photos, and I’ve changed my mind. Read more »

“No Body Talk” Summer Camps: Is This a Good Thing?

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Last week the New York Times ran an article on a couple of summer camps that enforce a “no body talk” rule. As one such camp’s founder, Vivian Stadlin, explains it, this means that while at camp, kids and counselors “take a break from mentioning physical appearance, including clothing. And it’s about myself or others, be it negative, neutral or even positive.”

My first reaction to the article was, “What a great idea!” At Stadlin’s camp, Eden Village, campers are taught to give compliments like “Your soul shines” or “I feel so happy to be with you.” Signs on bathroom mirrors read, “Don’t check your appearance, check your soul.” Another chain of camps, Rosie’s Girls, takes this a step further and covers mirrors completely, so that campers won’t even be tempted to judge themselves. Read more »

I Miss White Bread

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Poor bread.

Nobody wants to eat it anymore. It’s full of carbs. And gluten. It’s made from wheat.

I’m not talking fancy-ass bread, the kind that comes in the extra-cost “bread service” at elite restaurants these days, made from spelt and oats and black rice and seaweed, served with anchovy-tamarind-apricot spread. I’m talking white bread, the fluffy stuff that used to be a given at the start of any meal out and a staple of the home dinner table. That you ate with butter, not a plate of extra virgin olive oil pocked with herbs.

I miss white bread. Read more »

Loving World Cup Soccer Won’t Make You a Pretentious Jerk

shutterstock_world-cup-brazil

So the 2014 World Cup begins tomorrow, in case you somehow missed all the lead-up about collapsing stadia and civil unrest in Brazil, and for Americans, that’s problematic. The rest of the world calls soccer “football,” but we have real football, the game that no other nation plays (shut up, Canada) because no one else is as rough and tough and cavalier about the risk of brain injury as we are.

So we’re perplexed when we come up hard against the fact that something big is going on in this mysterious world of “football,” something that we don’t really get at all. If we know anything about soccer, it’s that we have to drag our asses out of bed on Saturday mornings to get our kids to soccer practice, and how interesting can a game really be if it can be played by a bunch of five-year-olds?

Read more »

Preening Over a Peacock Chair

Chair-400There are just some people you shouldn’t go shopping with, right?

You know what I’m talking about. It’s those folks who, when you go with them to the garden center for a six-pack of petunias, somehow talk you into a weeping cherry tree instead. Or you run out to Kmart for socks and come home with a futon. It’s some sort of chemical imbalance that’s set off by being in the presence of certain other human beings, your Visa card and consumer goods. I should know better by now than to go anywhere near a shopping center with my daughter. But I don’t.

One time, we bought a Buddha statue together. One time, we bought a $100 stuffed brown bear. (Hey, it was Christmas!) One time we bought a dog, but that’s another story.

This time, we bought a peacock chair.

“Isn’t this cool?” I asked Marcy in excitement as we stared at it in the local thrift shop, tucked away between old sewing machines and headboards.

Really cool,” she agreed, admiring the elaborate curlicues of wicker. “And it’s only $15!”

But I should have realized from the struggle we had getting it into my Honda that I was also going to have trouble fitting it into my life. Read more »

Whoa, Kids! Stop Horsing Around With “Woah”!

keanu-whoa-woah-940x540

Keanu: Whoa or woah?

So I keep seeing young people spell the word “whoa” as “woah.” And I can’t figure out why this is. It’s not like “wh” is an unusual way for a word to begin. (What? Where? Who?) And it’s not like the word has two syllables when you pronounce it: woe-AHHH. So — why? Before you know it, “woah” will have become a word on its own and “whoa” will be forgotten, kicked to the roadside, left on the dust heap of obscurity along with the distinction between “rein” and “reign,” which is another error that’s a burr under my saddle. But that’s a horse of a different color. And anyway, going against the millennial tide is like beating a dead horse, right? Read more »

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