In lieu of a traditional review, I was privileged to chat with Swoosie about the book and her life. Here is a snippeSpoiler: This is a gorgeous book.
In lieu of a traditional review, I was privileged to chat with Swoosie about the book and her life. Here is a snippet from that chat. Read the full Q&A at The Frisky.
“I forgot to get married and have babies” is often a line women with successful careers hear from their peers as a warning to reprioritize their lives. Yet this is exactly how Swoosie Kurtz, currently starring in “Mike and Molly” with Melissa McCarthy, explains why she is 69-years-old and never married and without children. But never fear, Swoosie has no regrets.
How did a girl with an unconventional name grow up to conquer stage and screen— starring on ”Sisters,” “Pushing Daisies,” and “Nurse Jackie,” as well as taking home multiple Tonys, Emmys, Obies and Drama Desk Awards — and still be happy without “a family?” Well, her family.
In her new memoir, Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir Of Womanhood, Work And Family, Kurtz carefully outlines a parent-child love story that is the foundation for her successful career. Named after her World War II war hero father’s B-17 bomber (the Swoose), her childhood was filled with travels across the world showcasing his accomplishments from the war and his Olympic diving skills. Her mother’s successful writing career culminated in a memoir about being a military wife called My Rival, The Sky, which Kurtz weaves into her own memoir.
Teachers have always been my champions and that is why I requested a copy of “This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education” by JoTeachers have always been my champions and that is why I requested a copy of “This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education” by José Vilson for review. I have followed José’s banter on Twitter for some years now. He has said things that I have agreed with and other things that challenged how I view our education system. The same thing happened as I read his edu-memoir.
Clearly something is wrong with our collective public education system. Rather, as Vilson points out, the way we manage our public education system is deeply flawed. Like an onion, there are many layers to “the problem.” Where Vilson shines is, obviously by the subtitle of the book, peeling back the layers to the race and class challenges our public school system faces.
Far too many people still believe that the biggest problem with inner city students of color is that they are headed by a single mother and/or parents are not engaged. Vilson deftly points out that by seeing these as challenges, we are imposing middle-class values on working class or poor families. And the problem with this is that we then ignore the values the students and families bring to the classroom. “When we assume poor kids behave as they do just because of their poverty and not as a manifestation of their frustration with poverty, we do an injustice to their humanity (p 86).” Ever been grouchy when you have to skip breakfast? Imagine if you had little to eat for dinner and then breakfast? No wonder some of our kids are hellions by the time they get to their desks.
I just read this in the bookstore & started crying. It is perfect. Every kid needs this book. The message is about the success we gain thru failinI just read this in the bookstore & started crying. It is perfect. Every kid needs this book. The message is about the success we gain thru failing....more
omg... Such a disappointing book. This is why I usually stay away from books with a lot of buzz. Just ugh... Everything was so contrived. There were somg... Such a disappointing book. This is why I usually stay away from books with a lot of buzz. Just ugh... Everything was so contrived. There were some cute & sweet moments, esp at the beginning....more
I totally skimmed this book as any good grad student does, but I would still recommend this book. It is more academic than popular press. Even I glazeI totally skimmed this book as any good grad student does, but I would still recommend this book. It is more academic than popular press. Even I glazed over a few times with all the academic-speak, but if you can get past that, it is a great dive into the world of investment banking. No, it's not boring at all. Rather fascinating at how easily we buy into the idea that anyone who goes to Harvard is "the best." And then if they work at Goldman Sachs they are "the best." And thus whatever they do at Goldman Sachs must be "the best" and we don't have to worry about it...unless taxpayers have to bail them out of the mess they created. And truly, the investigation into the cult of meritocracy and "being smart" is really what hooked me. One day I may reread this slowly, but for now, a skim will have to do. ...more
This is a great book for anyone still trying to figure out what the hell happened to our economy, why the banks failed and why the government bails ouThis is a great book for anyone still trying to figure out what the hell happened to our economy, why the banks failed and why the government bails out banks with taxpayer money but let's those same taxpayers lose their homes. ...more
I read this for an economics anthropology course and every person in the class (everyone is an anthropologist) could debunk different sections of theI read this for an economics anthropology course and every person in the class (everyone is an anthropologist) could debunk different sections of the history he creates. Thus left us with a sense that too much was unreliable to trust other parts of the book. ...more
The story of an anxious freshmen heading off to college with her twin is a beautiful story of growth. The ending was a bit of a let down but it also fThe story of an anxious freshmen heading off to college with her twin is a beautiful story of growth. The ending was a bit of a let down but it also fit....more
This collection of mini-biographies of women aviators is a must have for every parent whose child has to do a biography project and for every teacherThis collection of mini-biographies of women aviators is a must have for every parent whose child has to do a biography project and for every teacher who assigns them. Sure we all know about Amelia Earhart - my daughter did a project on her a few years ago - and perhaps even Bessie Coleman, but "Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, daring Missions, and Record-Setting Journeys" by Karen Bush Gibson will expand your universe.
Not only are the biographies short enough for your child to read on their own and not be overwhelmed, but they include citations so your child can dig deeper if needed.
wow...I picked this up on a whim & faith in Margaret Atwood. For me it was a bit of a slow start but the last 1/4 of the book was delicious. Thiswow...I picked this up on a whim & faith in Margaret Atwood. For me it was a bit of a slow start but the last 1/4 of the book was delicious. This is another cautionary tale by Atwood of where humankind could be headed....more
The Book of Jezebel has been called a feminist text/coffee table book that will be on the coffee table of every third-wave feminist. NPR suggests you choose it over the latest Bridget Jones book! I suggest that you should instead send the $27 to your local abortion fund, Planned Parenthood or other fave feminist organization.
Basically, "We can do better feminism."
Admittedly, as a critic of Jezebel, I went in wanting to not like the book. I tried to talk myself into being fair, especially after I saw that Kate Harding was a lead writer on it. As a disclaimer, Kate & I went to high school together, have hung out a few times since reconnecting at a Shakesville meet-up and she's bought Girl Scout cookies from my daughter. I also admire her brilliance. So the book can't be that bad, right? I went right for my personal music moment in the book...To the L's!
WHAT?! No Lilith Fair? OK, they covered it under Sarah McLachlan then...WHATTHEFUCK?! After cryptically posting to my FB page about this egregious error, I was told that an online second edition would be created and this error would be corrected. And it has. While I won't spend time outlining every person or idea I feel was left out, I will say that I do not think those left out on purpose, but as editor Anna Holmes points out in an interview with the Washington Post, "just were not thought of."
Thus began my journey to read the book in order, cover to cover. Come on with me as I Frodo this book...
It starts off strong with a full-page photo of Bella Abzug. Then I read the first entry on Aaliyah. Oh, my...I was not a huge fan of Aaliyah, so for me to read it and think, "This does not do justice to her legacy," says a lot. So let's move on my precious...We get to a pretty good entry on Abigail Adams. Jezebel defines her as "the baller behind President John Adams who was the real brains behind the American Revolution (p 6)." I chuckle. Then I hit "adoption" and I throw the book like Frodo tosses the ring:
"If you're pregnant and cannot raise the child yourself, antichoicers would have you believe this is a relatively easy process and morally superior alternative to abortion, even thought it means enduring forty weeks of pregnancy, labor, and any complications that might arise from those, then handing the baby over to stranger while you're physically exhausted and maximally hormonal (p 6-7)"
Now I've written about adoption before and the idea that feminists are best suited to look after the birth mother. I think everyone should read, "The Girls Who Went Away," before saying adoption is the best choice for an unwanted/planned pregnancy. But this description is offensive and not just in the normal Jezebel offensive manner. OK, deep breath...let's keep moving.
Overall I did end up pretty "meh" about the whole book. There are some excellent entries (A League of Their Own, Buffy Summers, Venus & Serena Williams, and Princess Diana), but also some low points such as summing up Deidre McCloskey's awesomeness with this entry: "As far as we know, the first out trans woman who's also a famous economist (p 179)." For me, she's important to know because lately she's been calling into question the idea of "statistical significance" and I think as feminists, we like people who question science in a manner that ensures that good science prevails.
I asked a few #NoJez folks what they would look up in "The Book of Jezebel," and the most requested idea was cis/transgender. I will say that I think their entries on these terms are fairly good despite the McCloskey entry.
But overall, the "meh" feeling came from a sense that some entries were just super shortchanged. That some individuals received well-rounded entries and others did not. I know not every entry can be perfect, but some glaring omissions did occur.
I also feel that the time and energy given to riot grrrl over all other musical genres was short-sighted, to say the least of the amazing feminist work in hip-hop, country and rap, not to mention the aforementioned Sarah McLachlan and her contemporaries. There were also entries that were rightly critical of the person or idea (Helen Thomas, Naomi Wolf), but others did not get that same critical eye (Gloria Steinem, SlutWalk).
Overall, "The Book of Jezebel" is uneven in how it treats lady things, presents some ideas in too snarkastic of a light and overall is just ok. It's not a terrible book, but if you are looking for something to give a young woman who might need a nudge towards claiming the feminist label there are plenty of other gift ideas.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago during the 1980s means that the team of all teams was the 1985 Bears. Walter Payton flew over defensive lines and on occasion did land on his head. To us, it was amazing. To his body, it was brutal.
"League of Denial" provides amazing detail into how brutal the game of football is to the human body. On page 5, the Fainaru brothers cite a physicist who calculated a Dick Butkus hit as equivalent to the size of a small adult killer whale. HOLY CRAP!
Ultimately, the Fainaru brothers tell the story of how football players were paid a king's ransom to play a boy's game, but their bodies and brains paid the real price. The NFL told players that they were special. Weaker men, who would be hurt by concussions, had been weeded out. They were the cream of the crop in more than just playing skills, but in how their bodies reacted to injury.
Many of the men highlighted in the book clearly were full of regret for not hurting themselves, but hurting their friends, their brothers in arms. Story after story involves not just brain injury, but loss of employment and ultimately the destruction of many families due to violent behavior and/or economic strain. Even agents, such as Leigh Steinberg, began to question what the hell they were doing.
They also tell of a vast conspiracy that bled into children's lives. See, in an effort to keep NFL players in the dark, the NFL created a whole team of scientists and studies that said, "Concussions? No need to worry about them! They rarely happen and when they do, no big deal." Yet, helmet makers wanted to create the concussion-proof helmet and when they felt they did, they marketed it to parents and youth leagues too. The other issue with the helmets were not just that they didn't protect one from getting concussions, but it left players with a false sense of security -- to hit harder!
And this conspiracy began by an accident. Concussions were never under scrutiny. The chance that one former NFL player happened to die on a day when a curious corner was on duty spurred this whole discussion. Outside of one or two people involved in "discovering" the extent of the concussion issue, all the scientists involved were strong football fans. They wanted to help the NFL make football safer and to keep players as healthy as possible. They never wanted to kill football. Yet, the league quickly dismissed them and framed them as quacks, when they should have worked with them right then and there.
"If only 10 percent of mothers in America begin to conceive of football as a dangerous game, that is the end of football." - page 206
Overall the book will make you think twice about letting your child play football. It will also make fans look at the game differently. I wince when I see guys take a huge hit. I admit to letting out, "ohs!" in the past. In fact, I still do. I do not think that we can take tackling out of football. But we can try to minimize the injuries, especially reducing helmet-to-helmet hits. Ultimately, as fans we must question our role in the fact that our favorite players, such as Jim McMahon, and most hated players, such as Bret Favre, can not remember large parts of their lives.
The book is not perfect. As a scientist, I think they minimize the scientific process, especially the peer review process. That said, there are always points in the process that can and should be questioned.
The racism that is evident in how Bennet Omalu is treated during the evolution of the concussion debate is often minimized. It is something that should be better fleshed out, as the sexism that Ann McKee faced was.
The cult of masculinity is the real enemy in this puzzle. The hardest part of the book was the section on Dave Duerson, a beloved member of the 1985 Bears, and his evolution from defending the NFL to ultimately committing suicide by shooting himself in the chest so his brain could be studied. His story includes all the tropes - wondering why some players are whining, that "I'm ok, why aren't you?" and on and on. We are told the tale of a smart and loving person who spins out of control. Outsiders see a washed up athlete who can't handle retirement, when in fact he is a deeply wounded person. How often did he get 'his bell rung" and sucked it up to stay in the game for job security?
As a football fan, I wondered if offsides are a function of concussions? Has anyone looked at this? Considering how former players described the sensation of "shaking it off" and heading back in for the next play, I would bet that offside calls could be a detection point.
This is a must read for every football fan and every parent thinking about letting their young children play tackle football. You may still enjoy the game, I do. You may still allow your child to play. But at least you will know a likely reason as to why Junior Seau spun out of control in retirement and killed himself. ...more