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Category archive for: Interviews

Chasing the Empty ‘A’

Take out a pencil. This is a test.

Which of the following best describes parents who pick up their children from school and ask,

“Hey, how’d you do on that math test?”

  • Attentive
  • Supportive
  • Involved
  • Contributing to a high-pressure academic culture that’s hurting our kids’ health without actually helping their intellect.

Yeah, take your time on this one. It’s tricky.

I thought I knew the answer. I thought I understood how to squeeze my kids through the narrow, competitive tube of American academics. But a challenging new documentary called my assumptions into question.

Created by a frustrated mother of three, Race to Nowhere aims its cameras at our pressure-cooker of a school system, where college hopefuls scramble to build dazzling transcripts only to graduate high school burned out and, ironically, unprepared.

With a sold-out screening at the Arlington Theatre on January 9, the film is getting nationwide attention. Filmmaker Vicki Abeles, a former corporate attorney on Wall Street, made the film after her seventh grade daughter was diagnosed with school-induced stress.

Continue reading Chasing the Empty ‘A’


Ana Marie Cox Waxes Wonky

She’s informed. She’s omnipresent. And she once called Ann Coulter a “horse-faced tranny” on MSNBC.

“Now I kind of wish I’d said something worse,” jokes Ana Marie Cox, the Washington journalist who serves up politics with liberal seasoning and a side of snark.

The founding editor of political satire blog Wonkette, Cox now waxes wonky as a correspondent for GQ, a frequent guest on The Rachel Maddow Show, and a hardcore tweeter. A self-described nerd, Cox entertains her million-plus Twitter followers with confessions of bad ’80s hair, shout-outs to beloved indie rock bands, and links to cool politi-stuff — like her recent interview with Gov. Schwarzenegger (Ahnuld Sez Gerrymandering Is for Girly Men).

On October 15, Cox comes to town to speak at Politics, Sex & Cocktails, a benefit for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties (tickets and information).

But first, she spoke to slightly starstruck me…

Continue reading Ana Marie Cox Waxes Wonky



They say crisis brings people closer. Certainly it was true during the Jesusita Fire when, if you weren’t evacuated yourself, you were welcoming displaced friends into your home.

I think motherhood — especially new motherhood — is a kind of crisis in itself. For all their wee littleness, newborns bring colossal emotional upheaval and physical duress. Their arrival demands mandatory evacuation from our comfort zones.

And women bond over it. Un-inclined to discuss their chapped nipples and husbands’ quenchless libidos with the friendly check-out guy at Vons, they’ll squawk their guts out to any stranger with a diaper bag.

Or a movie camera.

At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27th, UCSB’s MultiCultural Center Theater will screen a new documentary on the pleasures and pains of parenthood. Birthright: Mothering Across Difference will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, my friend Celine Parreñas Shimizu, who teaches in the Feminist Studies department. The event is free.

The film is a patchwork of interviews with 50 area moms: gay and straight, rich and poor, married and single, working and stay-at-home, white and Latina and Asian and black. Despite differences, they share anxieties, hopes, and points of pride.

Continue reading Motherhood

My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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