My Mom Couldn’t Cook by Tom Junod

My mother was a good mother. I was a good son. My mother was a betrayed woman—I think I knew that, from an early age—and so I was careful never to betray her, as she, by instinct, never betrayed me.1 But now I felt betrayed, and I betrayed her in return, by learning to cook. No: by cooking. No: by marrying a girl who had no interest in cooking, and cooking for her. No: by cooking for my wife as I wished my mother had cooked for me.2 No: by cooking as my father would have cooked, had he taken up the toque—by cooking unyieldingly, despotically, ball-bustingly, hungrily, not just selflessly but also selfishly, as an assertion of prerogative.3 When my mother came to visit, I made her chop, according to specification. “How’s this?” she’d ask, showing me the cutting board of haphazardly chopped broccoli, and when I’d say she had to chop it smaller, finer, more uniformly, she’d say, “You’re some pain in the ass” or “What a pill.”4 I was perversely proud of her exasperation, perversely proud to be addressed in terms heretofore reserved for my old man. A pill? I had never been a pill before. I had always been, in my mother’s estimation, “a good egg,” but now I’d become a pill by insisting that my eggs taste good. My mother wasn’t college-educated, but she wasn’t stupid, either. She knew what was going on. When, much later, I wrote a flattering profile of my father for a magazine, she dismissed it tersely: “Don’t forget who raised you, kid.”5 But my cooking—my decision to cook—was a rejection of the way I’d been raised, a rebuke of the way she’d raised me.6 I had been on my mother’s side, but now, unforgivably, I was on my father’s, by taking my mother’s job.



Preface from The Soloist by Steve Lopez

The Soloist by Steve Lopez


I’m on foot in downtown Los Angeles7, hustling back to the office with another deadline looming. That’s when I see him. He’s dressed in rags on a busy downtown street corner, playing Beethoven on a battered violin that looks like it’s been pulled from a Dumpster.

“That sounded pretty good,” I say when he finishes.

He jumps back three steps, eyeing me with suspicion. I see the name Stevie Wonder carved into the face of the violin, along with felt-pen doodles.

“Oh, thank you very much,” he says, obviously flattered2. “Are you serious?”

“I’m not a musician,” I answer. “But yes. It sounded good to me.”

He is black, just beyond fifty, with butterscotch eyes that warm to the compliment. He is standing next to a shopping cart heaped over with all his belongings, and yet despite grubby, soiled clothing, there’s a rumpled elegance about him.3He speaks with a slight regional accent I can’t place. Maybe he’s from the Midwest or up near the Great Lakes, and he seems to have been told to always stand up straight, enunciate, carry himself with pride and respect others.

“I’m trying to get back in shape,” he says. “But I’m going to get back in there, playing better. I just need to keep practicing.”

“So you like Stevie Wonder?” I ask.

“Oh, yes, certainly. ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life.’ ‘My Cherie Amour.’ I guess I shouldn’t have written his name on my violin, though.”

I write a column for the Los Angeles Times. The job is a little like fishing. You go out and drop a line, cast a net. I’m figuring this vagrant violinist is a column. Has to be.4

“I’m in a hurry at the moment,” I tell him, “but I’d like to come back and hear you play again.”

“Oh, all right,” he says, smiling appreciatively but with trepidation. He looks like a man who has learned to trust no one.

“Do you always play in this spot?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says pointing across the street with his bow to Pershing Square5, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. “I like to be near the Beethoven statue for inspiration.”

This guy could turn out to be a rare find in a city of undiscovered gems, fiddling away in the company of Beethoven.6 I would drop everything if I could, and spend a few hours pulling the story out of him, but that will have to wait for another day. I’ve got another column lined up and not much time to shape it. The deadlines come at you without mercy, even in your dreams.

“I’ll be back,” I say.

He nods indifferently.

Back at the office I seat out another column, scan the mail and clear the answering machine. I make a note on the yellow legal pad where I keep a list of possibilities.

Violin Man.

It’s got potential. Who knows where it will go?

Breaking Up With Your Parents, by Cora Frazier

Mommy and Daddy:7

This just isn’t working out.

I feel like our relationship is stifling me creatively and personally. I’ve discovered this with the help of the expensive weekly therapy that you pay for.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t texted you for two days seeking reassurance that it’s O.K. to ask my roommate to help clean her cat’s vomit off the floor, or that I will be the richest and most famous writer ever, and you will mail one of your copies of the 1998 Northwestern Children’s Literary Review to anyone who thinks otherwise. 2

It really wasn’t anything you did. We’ve had some wonderful times together. You’ve changed my diaper on the side of the highway, explaining yourself to a state trooper while holding a container of baby wipes in one hand and a full diaper in the other.3 After I had my first ballet recital, you offered vaguely supportive comments without explicitly lying. You let me wear my first two-piece tankini bathing suit under my clothes for several days before suggesting that we wash it. You let me eat Pop-Tarts, but never Pop-Tarts with frosting. When you walked in on me rubbing myself against the Ashton Kutcher shrine in my bedroom, you immediately closed the door and apologized profusely. You accepted me during the brief time I wore a cape and wanted to be called “The Great Ba Di Di, Prince of Toilets.”

And then the honeymoon period ended. It’s hard to pin down how these things change—often they happen in unnoticeable shifts.4 Was it when I turned eighteen, left your house, and began college? Was it when I graduated from college and moved to New York City? Was it when I was approaching thirty and got engaged to someone else? I don’t know. You’ve probably felt it, too.

Of course I’m sad. Of course it hurts. I know nothing will ever be like what we had—nothing could ever compare, you must know that.5

He expects advice from me. He expects me to pay attention to the directions when we are driving somewhere, no matter how sleepy or hungry or full I feel. He expects me not to walk away from people who are talking to me because I am bored and see a cat with a weird eye. He expects gifts other than the huge cardboard head of George Washington that my brother and I bought for two dollars as a joke.

I’m sure you’ll have your own perspective on the relationship, and you’ll want to respond—I expected that. You’ll say, “That’s fine, sweetie, we love and support you no matter what.” You’ll say, “Do you know yet when you’re coming for Easter? I want to make sure we have enough beds.” You’ll say, “I saw that you called several times. I was at book group. What’s up, honey?” I hear you, I do.[footnote]Comma Splice:[/footnotes] But know that my mind is made up.

We can still be friends, of course. I’d like that. In a way, nothing has changed. I can still call you to ask for any factual information I might need to know, instead of simply Googling it. I can still come to your house and expect all my favorite foods to be in the fridge. I can still take any of your clothing, makeup, nice lotions, or valuable jewelry without asking for it or telling you that I’ve taken it, causing you to worry more than usual that you’re starting to lose your mind.[footnote]Appositive: Frazier has done an excellent job, throughout the piece, of adding specific details through appositives. Here we see that she is describing the way her mother would fret. It’s brilliant because she is first talking about taking things, not her mother at all.   I can still text you late at night, tipsy, alone in a cab: “Hey. I think about you every day.”

And of course—it goes without saying—6I will always come into your bed early on Saturday morning, jump up and down, hit you and myself with pillows until I collapse, exhausted, and need to be carried downstairs for cartoon-watching. And I will always have a lot of specific questions about Santa’s life.

And who knows? Maybe one day we’ll see each other across a room offering bingo, crowded with metal walkers and free-standing breathing machines, and you’ll say, “Cora, we never thought we’d see the day . . .” And I will say, “I did. Oh, I did.” And when I win—which you may have allowed to happen, just like old times—and I’m standing, shouting, “Bingo!,” and dancing, waving my board in victory, you will stare at me with tearful smiles and say, “You make us so proud.”7 


Letter of Recommendation: ‘Pinky and the Brain’ by Jonah Weiner

“Pinky and the Brain,” a cartoon that aired for half of the 1990s 8, is a three-chord kind of show, as bound by formal constraints as they come. Before spinning off into its own half-hour slot 2, the series began life as the best thing about “Animaniacs,” an exuberantly unhinged variety cartoon executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and packed with non-sequitur punch lines, meta-level laughs and so many showbiz in-jokes that you could forget this was a show nominally made for kids 3. “Pinky and the Brain” stood out for its ingenuity and extreme economy. The show has only two recurring characters to speak of — the talking lab mice of the title — 4 and precisely one plot, set into motion in the opening moments of each installment with the same 23 words: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.”


That the mice will deploy some scheme for world domination is the lone narrative motor, and that their failure is guaranteed provides not only the inevitable third-act kicker but also the condition of the show’s continued existence: a reset button that returns the mice to the lab to plot again. The pair is at once idiosyncratic and archetypal, in a vaudevillian kind of way. Brain is a hyperintelligent, short-tempered straight man voiced by a guy doing a stentorian Orson Welles impression; Pinky is daffy and sweet and speaks in an over-the-top Cockney accent 5.

They are given no back story beyond a stray line in the theme song (“Their genes have been spliced”), and they learn no lessons by episode’s end. Characterization takes the form, instead, of kid-friendly, broken-record repetition 6. In every episode, while unveiling the plan at hand, Brain will ask Pinky, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”–a question so ritualized that fans refer to it by “AYPWIP”–to which Pinky will offer a reliably outré response. “I think so, Brain, but I can’t memorize a whole opera in Yiddish.” “I think so, Brain, but Pete Rose? I mean, can we trust him?” “I think so, but Kevin Costner with an English accent?”

The Snowboard, The Subdural Hematoma, and The Secret of Life by Brian Clark

The massive pool of blood in my head pressed precariously against my brain. The doctors marveled that I was alive, much less walking and talking.

They looked and shook their heads in wonder at the MRI results. I politely reminded them I was indeed alive, awake, and actually in the room.

On May 9, 2005, 7 they wheeled me in for emergency surgery, and I said goodbye to my wife, not quite three-year-old daughter, and newborn son. I knew that sometimes people don’t wake up from brain surgery, and 2 this might be the last time I saw them.

Wait, let’s back up a bit. 3

The Snowboard

It’s the beginning of 2005. 4 I’m working way too hard, which is not surprising considering I’m managing three service businesses and a handful of online projects. 5 My real estate businesses are booming because I’d learned how to use the Internet to generate leads around the clock, 6 but 7 to be honest, I’m much better at marketing then I am at managing all the people it took to keep those things going.

A buddy of mine from high school calls and says 8 he has just the ticket — a ski trip to Tahoe. 9 It’d been way too long since I got away, and given that my wife is seven months pregnant, I know things are going to get tougher before they get easier.

I decide to go no matter what. 10

Full article:

Confessions of a Juggler by Tina Fey

My daughter recently checked out a book from the preschool library called “My Working Mom.” It had a cartoon witch on the cover. “Did you pick this book out all by yourself?” I asked her, trying to be nonchalant11 . Yes. We read the book, and the witch mother was very busy and sometimes reprimanded her daughter for messing things up near her cauldron. She had to fly away to a lot of meetings, and the witch’s child said something like “It’s hard having a working mom, especially when she enjoys her work.” In the heartwarming conclusion, the witch mother makes it to the child’s school play at the last second, and the witch’s child says she doesn’t like having a working mom but she can’t picture her mom any other way. I didn’t love it. I’m sure the two menwho wrote this book had the absolute best intentions, but this leads me to my point. The topic of working moms is a tap-dance recital in a minefield.

It is less dangerous to draw a cartoon of Allah French-kissing Uncle Sam—which, let me make it very clear, I have not done2—than it is to speak honestly about this topic.

What is the rudest question you can ask a woman? “How old are you?” “What do you weigh?” “When you and your twin sister are alone with Mr. Hefner, do you have to pretend to be lesbians?” No, the worst question is: “How do you juggle it all?”

“How do you juggle it all?” people constantly ask me, with an accusatory look in their eyes. “You’re screwing it all up, aren’t you?” their eyes say. My standard answer is that I have the same struggles as any working parent but with the good fortune to be working at my dream job. Or3 sometimes I just hand them a juicy red apple I’ve poisoned in my working-mother witch cauldron and fly away.

The second-worst question you can ask a woman is: “Are you going to have more kids?” This is rude. Especially to a woman like me, who is in her “last five minutes.” By that I mean my last five minutes of being famous is timing out to be simultaneous with my last five minutes of being able to have a baby.

Science shows that fertility and movie offers drop off steeply for women after forty.

When my daughter says, “I wish I had a baby sister,” I am stricken with guilt and panic. When she says, “Mommy, I need Aqua Sand” or “I only want to eat gum!” or “Wipe my butt!,” I am less affected.

I thought that raising an only child would be the norm in New York, but I’m pretty sure my daughter is the only child in her class without a sibling. All over Manhattan, large families have become a status symbol. Four beautiful children named after kings and pieces of fruit are a way of saying, “I can afford a four-bedroom apartment and a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in elementary-school tuition fees each year. How you livin’?”

Now, I’m not really one for status symbols. I went to public school. I have all my original teeth and face parts. Left to my own devices, I dress like I’m here to service your aquarium. But the kid pressure mounts for other reasons.

The woman who runs my local toy store that sells the kind of beautiful wooden educational toys that kids love (if there are absolutely no other toys around and they have never seen television) asks me, “Are you gonna have another one?”

A background actor on the set of “30 Rock” will ask, “You want more kids?” “No, no,” I want to say. Why would I want more kids when I could be here with you having an awkward conversation over a tray of old Danishes?

The ear-nose-and-throat doctor I see about some stress-induced canker sores offers, unsolicited, “You should have another one. I had my children at forty-one and forty-two. It’s fine.” Did she not hear the part about the stress-inducedcanker sores?

My parents raised me never to ask people about their reproductive plans. “You don’t know their situation,” my mom would say. I considered it such an impolite question that for years I didn’t even ask myself. Thirty-five turned into forty faster than McDonald’s food turns into cold non-food.

Behind Door No. 2, you have the movie business. Shouldn’t I seize the opportunity to make a few more movies in the next few years? Think of the movies I could make!

“Magazine Lady”: The story of an overworked woman looking for love, whose less attractive friend’s mean boss is played by me . . . when Bebe Neuwirth turns the part down.

“The Wedding Creeper”: An overworked woman looking for love sneaks into weddings and wishes strangers well on their wedding video, only to fall in love with a handsome videographer (Gerard Butler or a coatrack with a leather jacket on it), despite the fact that when they first met they knocked over a wedding cake, causing an old lady (Academy Award™ winner Jane Fonda) to rap.

Next, a strategically chosen small part in a respectable indie dramedysemble called “Disregarding Joy,” in which I play a lesbian therapist who unexpectedly cries during her partner’s nephew’s bris. Roger Ebert will praise my performance, saying I was “brave to grow that little mustache.”

Finally, for money, I play the villain in the live-action “Moxie Girlz” movie, opposite a future child star who at this moment is still a tickly feeling in Billy Ray Cyrus’s testicles.

How could I pass up those opportunities? Do I even have the right to deprive moviegoers of those experiences?

These are the baby-versus-work life questions that keep me up at night. There’s another great movie idea! “Baby Versus Work”: A hardworking baby looking for love (Kate Hudson) falls for a handsome pile of papers (Hugh Grant). I would play the ghost of a Victorian poetess who anachronistically tells Kate to “go for it.”

I debate the second-baby issue when I can’t sleep. “Should I? No. I want to. I can’t. I must. Of course not. I should try immediately.”

I get up to go to the bathroom and study myself in the mirror. Do I look like someone who should be pregnant? I look good for forty, but I have the quaggy jawline and hollow cheeks of a mom, not a pregnant lady. This decision cannot be delayed.

And what’s so great about work, anyway? Work won’t visit you when you’re old. Work won’t drive you to the radiologist’s for a mammogram and take you out afterward for soup. It’s too much pressure on my one kid to expect her to shoulder all those duties alone. Also, what if she turns on me? I am pretty hard to like. I need a backup.

And who will be my daughter’s family when my husband and I are dead from stress-induced canker sores? She must have a sibling. Hollywood be damned. I’ll just be unemployable and labelled crazy in five years, anyway.

Let me clarify. I have observed that women, at least in comedy, are labelled “crazy” after a certain age.

Female Writer: You ever work with xxx xxxx?

Male Agent (dismissive): She’s crazy now.

Female Writer: You know who I loved growing up? xxxxx mcxxx. What about her for this part?

Male Writer: I don’t know. I hear she’s pretty batshit.

Female Writer: I got a call today from xxx xxx.

Male Producer: Ugh. We had her on the show once. She was a crazy assache. She wanted to see her lines ahead of time. She had all these questions.4

I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all “crazy.” I have a suspicion—and hear me out, because this is a rough one—that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.

The only person I can think of who has escaped the “crazy” moniker is Betty White, which, obviously, is because people still want to have sex with her.

This is the infuriating thing that dawns on you one day: even if you would never sleep with or even flirt with anyone to get ahead, you are being sexually adjudicated. Network executives really do say things like “I don’t know. I don’t want to fuck anybody on this show.”

(To any exec who has ever said that about me, I would hope that you would at least have the self-awareness to know that the feeling is extremely mutual.)

It seems to me the fastest remedy for this “women are crazy” situation is for more women to become producers and hire diverse women of various ages. That is why I feel obligated to stay in the business and try hard to get to a place where I can create opportunities for others, and that’s why I can’t possibly take time off for a second baby, unless I do, in which case that is nobody’s business and I’ll never regret it for a moment unless it ruins my life.5

And now it’s four o’clock in the morning.

To hell with everybody! Maybe I’ll just wait until I’m fifty and give birth to a ball of fingers! “Merry Christmas from Tina, Jeff, Alice, and Ball of Fingers,” the card will say. (“Happy Holidays” on the ones I send to my agents.)

I try to think about anything else so I can go back to sleep. I used to cling to the fact that my mom had me unexpectedly at forty, only to realize a couple of years ago that I had the math wrong and she was thirty-nine. A world of difference, in my insomniac opinion.6

My mom was conceived in the U.S., born in Greece, and brought back here as an infant. Because of this, she never gets called for jury duty.

She grew up speaking both English and Greek, and when I was in elementary school she volunteered to be a classroom aide, because a lot of the Greeks in our neighborhood were “right off the boat,” as she would say, and needed a translator. Sometimes the teachers would ask her to translate bad news: “Please tell Mrs. Fondulas that her son is very disruptive.” And my mom would nod and say in Greek, “George is a lovely boy.” Because she knew that if she translated what the teacher really said the kid would get a beating and the mother would hate her forever out of embarrassment.

Little kids’ birthdays in my neighborhood were simple affairs. Hot dogs, Hawaiian Punch, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, followed by cake and light vomiting. (Wieners, punch, and spinning into barfing would later be referred to as “the Paris Hilton.”) I would always complain to my mother after the Greek kids’ parties, because they served Italian rum cake. Covered in slivered almonds and soaked in booze, Italian rum cake is everything kids hate. No one ever ate it. It just got thrown away.

Cake Time is supposed to be the climax of a birthday, but instead it was a crushing disappointment for all. I imagine it’s like being at a bachelor party, only to find that the stripper has overdosed in the bathroom.

My mom finally explained to me that the reason the “Greeky Greeks,” as she called them, got the Italian rum cake was that it was the most expensive item in the bakery. They wanted the adults at the party to know they could afford it. Anyway, is that what I’m trying to do with this second-baby nonsense? Am I just chasing it because it’s the hardest thing for me to get and I want to prove that I can do it?

Do I want another baby? Or do I just want to turn back time and have my daughter be a baby again?

Some of you must be thinking, Well, what does your husband want? He’s a part of this decision, too, you know! He wants me to stop agonizing, but neither of us knows whether that means go for it or move on.

Why not do both, like everybody else in the history of earth? Because things that most people do naturally are often inexplicably difficult for me. And the math is impossible. No matter how you add up the months, it means derailing the TV show where two hundred people depend on me for their income, and I take that stuff seriously. Like everyone from Tom Shales to Jeff Zucker, I thought “30 Rock” would be cancelled by now.

I have a great gynecologist, who is as gifted at listening as she is at rectal exams. I went for my annual checkup and, tired of carrying this anxiety around, burst into tears the moment she said hello. I laid it all out for her, and the main thing I took away from her was the kind of simple observation that only an impartial third party can provide. “Either way, everything will be fine,” she said, smiling, and for a little while I was pulled out of my anxious, stunted brain cloud. “Everything will be fine” was a possibility that had not occurred to me.

That night, as I was putting the witch book in my daughter’s backpack to be returned to school, I asked her, “Did you pick this book because your mommy works? Did it make you feel better about it?” She looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “Mommy, I can’t read. I thought it was a Halloween book.”

I Am Still Tiger Woods

When I was five years old 7, my dad sawed off the end of a rusty MacGregor five iron, popped off the worn black rubber from the useless end, refastened it to the jagged top of my new club, and led me out to my backyard in Canton, Mich. to smack my first golf ball. The second those Top Flite dimples whisked into the high grass behind our house, I was hooked for life 2. I practiced putting with my Papa’s trusty old 10-iron on his muddy orange carpet every time we visited them in Oregon. The ball would roll into a tiny blue cup time after time again, each plop of the ball hitting the plastic producing a cheery “Oh!” 34 from my proud grandmother. I spent hours putting on that carpet as a hopeful young 10-year-old and begged Papa for daily trips to the driving range downtown. My parents have spent thousands of dollars on me for golf clubs, golf balls and greens fees. I’ve played in rain, snow, wind, hail, and sun. I remember putts like the 60- foot miracle that curved and dropped for birdie on No. 2 at North Conway Country Club; I remember shots like the 135-yard pitching wedge on No. 9 that bounced once on the green and sunk in for a birdie 3 and a front-nine 39; I remember my best score (72) and my worst (119); I remember mornings golfing across Ireland and Scotland with my dad and rainy afternoon rounds with my grandparents in Oregon 56. You pick a year in my life, and I can tell you where I was golfing and how well I was playing. I am a golfer. And 7, in line with every young golfer of this generation, I loved Tiger Woods. I had a poster of Tiger in my room. I went through a period where I would hit, wear and play with nothing but Nike equipment. I wore my “I am Tiger Woods” t-shirt so much as a pre-teen that it nearly disintegrated. I watched Tiger win and sulked when Tiger lost. I admired every stroke, every putt, every fist pump 8. Tiger was my golf hero. And guess what? He still is. Tiger will tee it up on Thursday for the most prestigious tournament in golf: The Masters at Augusta National9. It’s his first tournament in 144 days, since he declared an indefinite leave from golf to fix marital troubles stemming from infidelities to his wife, Elin. It’s the media storm of the year. The best player in golf history, in sports history, is nothing more than your everyday, professional sleaze ball. Many fans feel betrayed. They feel angry, let down, disappointed, and appalled. Not me 10. I hold Tiger in the same regard as I once did. Why? He’s an athlete 11. I look up to him for his unmatched talent in golf. What he does in his personal life is none of my business.


A Trumpian Candidate on Trump’s Corset- Calvin Trillin


People are asking—I shouldn’t be saying this, but a tremendous number of people are asking—12 why does Donald Trump always have on that floppy suit jacket? Why doesn’t he button it? Can he button it? 2 Other candidates, when they visit a state fair,3 wear bluejeans and a work shirt. A work shirt. 4 because a President needs stamina. He has to be high energy. No work shirt for Doughboy Donald. He wears a floppy suit jacket and a baseball hat. What’s he hiding? And have you noticed that his neckties—wide neckties, really huge neckties, huge— 5 come clear down to his belt buckle? How does that happen with a man who is six feet three? That’s all I’m asking. Is he malformed? Does he have a short upper body to go with the short fingers? Does he buy extra-long ties? Or are the neckties specially designed to hide the outlines of some stays around his midsection? I don’t know, but that’s what some people say. And why is his face that funny orange color? Could it be that he has to hold his breath because of a tight corset? I’m just passing along what some people are asking.[Footnote] Repetition/Punctuation: Again, as we highlighted earlier in this piece, the author repeats rhetorical questions to highlight and give emphasis to his main points. [/footnote] These people don’t care whether a candidate is fat or thin. What they care about is whether or not they can trust the nuclear codes to a man who is deceptive about his own shape.

Why does he look so much more bloated in his neck and in his face than in his midsection? Is it because we can’t really see his midsection? Thousands of people in other countries have noticed this, and they’re laughing at us. 6Believe me, they’re laughing at us. 7 China is laughing at us, because they make corsets in China—which, by the way, they’re undercutting us on. 8 For millions. Millions. 9 I’m not saying that Trump wears a corset, but I’ve received thousands of letters and tweets saying that the size of his neck doesn’t match the size of his stomach. A pattern of deception! And a tremendous number of those letters and tweets compliment me on my own neck. I have a great neck.

I’m told, by some people who should know, that the man is wearing a corset. They say there’s a tremendous chance of that. Tremendous. A huge chance of that. Huge. They suspect that bigly.10 Sure, Trump’s doctor released a so-called medical report—written, the doctor now says, in five minutes—which says Donald has lost fifteen pounds in the past twelve months. But it doesn’t give his weight. It doesn’t give his weight, because what if a man who looks like he weighs maybe two hundred and thirty pounds really weighs two hundred and eighty pounds. People are going to ask where he’s hiding that extra fifty pounds. Believe me, they’re going to ask that. And I don’t even want to think about the answer. It’s disgusting.

In fact, the whole medical report is a one-page letter that is short on numbers. Very short. Really tremendously short. Shorter than Marco Rubio.The letter’s language, so close to Donald’s language, brings up the question of who wrote a letter, years ago—if there was such a letter—telling Doughboy Donald’s draft board that he was ineligible for the Vietnam draft because of bone spurs in his heels. And did that letter really use the phrase “best bone spurs ever”? I can hardly bring myself to discuss this, because it’s disgusting. Very, very disgusting. The last time bone spurs were in the news was when Joe DiMaggio had a bone spur. Don’t get me wrong: I loved and admired Joe DiMaggio.

And he loved and admired me. Baseball players love me, because I’m a winner. Joe DiMaggio had an operation to remove the bone spur. Did Doughboy Donald have an operation? There’s no record of that. So where are those bone spurs now? Did they just squirt out between his toes, or does he still have bone spurs in there somewhere? I’ve had people looking for those bone spurs, and you won’t believe what they’re finding. When their report is released, those bone spurs will make the corset look like small potatoes. But the corset is still disgusting. Very, very disgusting. And deceptive.But I don’t want to talk about that. I’d rather talk about the issues. 


Never Give Up by Jack Handley

If I could say one thing to the young people of today, it would be this: Never give up.11 Keep trying and pushing and struggling, even if you don’t know what your goal is or why you would want to achieve it.

As you march down the street not giving up, hold your head high and swing your elbows. People will recognize you as someone who won’t give up, and they will get out of your way. Some of them will even hide.

Some will try to discourage you. They’ll say that what you’re doing is “illegal,” or a “sin,”2 or a violation of the health code. They may cling to your legs, causing you to drag them along, or jump onto your back, pleading, “In the name of God, please stop what you’re doing!”

Keep going. Rest assured, they’re jealous.

“We’re not jealous, honestly,” they may say. “Just please stop!” Maybe you’ve struck a nerve.

“No, you haven’t struck a nerve,” they’ll say. “What you’re doing is just awful, and we’d like you to stop!”

Let that be your inspiration. Shake off the naysayers and trudge on, through the mud and the filth and the slime, knowing that you have a higher purpose. Remember, nobody liked van Gogh’s work, and if nobody likes yours it’s probably a sign that you’re a genius.

Look to the horizon. See that little dot? No, not that one—the one that’s even farther out. You can barely see it. Now don’t stop until you reach it. 3 Take out your machete and hack a new path through the jungle, even if there is an old path just a few feet away. Fend off the monkeys of “good manners” and the sloths of “patience.”

We are born with the instinct not to give up. As babies, we cry and scream until we get what we want. But somewhere along the line we lose that ability. People talk us out of our crazy ideas—people who live in the so-called real world, where things “make sense.”4 They’ve never attempted the impossible. But you have, many, many times.5

Keep pushing ahead—not in a way that seems pushy but in a way that says you won’t stop. Some people say you shouldn’t bang your head against a wall. Tell that to the woodpecker.

Along the way, there will be compromises—bribes and torture and “hunting accidents.” You may have to engage in unnatural sex acts. But don’t give up. With each unnatural sex act, you will be one step closer to your goal.

When you finally reach the first stage of success, congratulate yourself. But remember that there are twenty-four more stages of success.

Some people may ask, “If I take a rest, even a little one, is that the same as giving up?” Yes, it is. But if you need to pretend to give up—so that people will leave you alone—go ahead. Then keep doing what you do, but even harder.

Several years ago, there was a man who wouldn’t give up. He was just an actor, but he had bigger things in mind, in the world of politics. People tried to talk him out of his wild-eyed notions, but he wouldn’t listen. And that man was John Wilkes Booth.

Keep pushing and scraping and clawing and begging.6 Even in your dreams, don’t give up. If you dream that you are wearing nothing but underpants, try to make them expensive, executive underpants.

Eventually, all your determination will pay off. The same people who mocked your ideas and tackled you will now claim to love your vision. “We love it! We love it!” they’ll say. They’ll tell you that the governor is interested in your ideas and will bundle you off in a car to the governor’s mansion. But when you pass under the stone archway you’ll notice that it doesn’t say “Governor’s Mansion” but “Insane Asylum.” Jump out of the car and run into the woods. Keep running. Never give up running. 


There is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue by Jason Sheehan

I believe in barbecue 7 As soul food and comfort food and health food, as a cuisine of both solace and celebration. 2 When I’m feeling good, I want barbecue. And 3 when I’m feeling bad, I just want barbecue more. I believe in barbecue in all its regional derivations, in its ethnic translations, in forms that range from white-tablecloth presentations of cunningly sauced costillas, to Chinese take-out spareribs that stain your fingers red, to the most authentic product of the tar-paper rib shacks of the Deep South. 4 I believe that like sunshine [. . .] no day is bad that has barbecue in it.

I believe in the art of generations of pit-men working in relative obscurity to keep alive the craft of slow-smoking as it’s been practiced for as long as there’s been fire. 5 A barbecue cook must have an intimate understanding of his work, the physics of fire and convection, the hard science of meat and heat and smoke 6– and 7 then forget it all to achieve a sort of gut-level, Zen instinct for the process.

I believe that barbecue drives culture, not the other way around. Some of the first blows struck for equality and civil rights in the Deep South were made not in the courtrooms or schools or on buses, 8 but in the barbecue shacks. There were dining rooms, back yards and roadhouse juke joints in the South that were integrated long before any other public places.

I believe that good barbecue requires no décor, and that the best barbecue exists despite its trappings. Paper plates are okay in a barbecue joint. And paper napkins. And 9 plastic silverware. And I believe that any place with a menu longer than can fit on a single page – or better yet, just a chalkboard 10 The dashes are being used to add almost a side thought, or an interrupter which adds tone to the writing 11– is coming dangerously close to putting on airs.