Good news from the debate Wordle

Used with permission from Tom Sullivan at

Following the final debate of this presidential election cycle, I found Tom Sullivan’s Wordle of Trump’s talk. I was not surprised that “me” and “money” were the two words Trump used the most. Nor was I surprised that “coronavirus” wasn’t on the Wordle at all. But I was especially happy to see that “beautiful” wasn’t on the Wordle either.

One of the most challenging classes I took in graduate school was simply titled Aesthetics. I took away a lot of ideas about art and the sublime, yet one of the lasting takeaways has to…

Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

The Texas State Fair opened yesterday. That might be a surprise, but like so many COVID-era events, it’s a blend of the virtual and the socially distanced. Through the magic of downloading, you can get your family and social distanced friends together to host your own creative arts contest or create your own midway game.

You can even host your own livestock show at home, letting your family pet or stuffed animal stand in for Grand Champion Steer. …

The subject line of an email received September 8, 2020

Photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash

In order to keep the memorial open

we must convince you of the preciousness of human life

and that it is always already enmeshed in sacrifice

often with certainty but here with wind-swept, full-blown naivete.

In order to keep the memorial open

we must continue to resist the photographs of bodies

falling through space, we must see sanctity

in planes impacting with a thud no one can hear

anymore. In order to pay the electric bill

we must cast the lights just so, not just one night

in the year…

Really, I already knew.

The first time I got a Google Maps Timeline delivered to my gmail was in January. The timeline is an automated survey of places I had been in December. Over the holiday break, I drove to the airport in Houston, deplaned in Fort Lauderdale, and after a few days drove a rental car down to the Florida Keys. It was a delightful vacation. The Timeline was a mini-map with places I had visited. Like a souvenir map, courtesy of Google.

Today, my Timeline for August arrived. Without thinking too much, I know every place I’ve…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“You know the characters on How I Met Your Mother better than you know your neighbors” is considered a slight to one’s sense of community. In fact, it’s a reality.

We have thousands of hours of documentaries, dramas, sitcoms, and classic films on Netflix. Why are people still watching Friends and The Office? In the UK last year, more viewer hours on Netflix were devoted to Friends than to any other property. …

Can you change your life with one small gesture?

“Oct 18 2011 [Day 352] ‘Forgiveness’” by James_Seattle is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You may surprised to learn that there’s a Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance. Today, they’re celebrating the 25th annual National Forgiveness Day. “Forgive and forget,” we’re told when we’re kids, and even when we’re adults. Not so easy, you might say.

A possible scenario: You had an argument with a friend who said something that hurt you. You keep playing that scene over and over, trying to figure out why that person would be so thoughtless. Or why you were stunned and didn’t say anything in response. …

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

As the traditions — especially the lush and gorgeous costumes and face paint — of Dia de los Muertos stretch into Halloween, concerns of cultural appropriation are inevitably aired. These concerns are valid and should be voiced, yet the extraordinary positive aspects of Dia de los Muertos are then cordoned off from many people who could benefit greatly from spending a day with the dead.

In her book Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon, Regina Marchi (2009) argues that Día de los Muertos, as it is celebrated in the United States…

It’s like new year’s day for writers: whether you NaNoWriMo with the fiction writers who started it all, AcWriMo with the scholars working on their essays and books, or find another direction for you words, millions of people are making resolutions today to write every day from here to the end of November.

A sign that I spend too much time thinking about how, when, and what I will write rather than actually writing is the vast number of communiques that have crossed my social media accounts and email, encouraging me to join up and write. I have joined groups, made commitments, filled out forms, and watched various webcasts. But all of those activities are, obviously, not really writing.

This year, I am not finishing a book. I am not setting a daily word count goal. I’m just honoring the process and will see where it goes. #amwriting

Sydney has a miniature of the University of Texas campus on the table between her chair and the sofa. She tells me how people pick it up and look down into it, like they are looking for secrets or something they can discover. I am looking for what gets left out. It’s an aerial view of my past, places I lived, buildings I walked between, an open stretch in front of the tower where I sat in the grass sophomore year and flirted with a boy I ended up not dating. One of the reasons I feel connected to Sydney…

Photo by Bogdan Yukhymchuk

I seldom know what to answer when prompted to call out favorite books, although Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love is certainly in the small handful of books that had a profound effect and influence on me. I read Geek Love shortly after finishing college, where I majored in English as a means of giving myself over to my ongoing bibliophilia. There were no later novels from Dunn. After her death in 2016, and thanks to the internet, I found others who shared my spark of love for that weird, extraordinary family at the center of Geek Love. A few years later…

Linda Levitt

Cultural commentary and curiosities.

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