For anyone who spent the past week on another planet, here is a performance on British television that has thrilled millions on YouTube. You won't believe the strength and clarity of this woman's voice. But then, she's only 47...



Big box




Coming soon: Your take on big box stores. Love them or hate them, they've changed our lives. Which ones do you swear by, and which can you give up?

Will the recession/depression be the end of the big box phenomenon, or has it just begun?

Leave your comments here, and be sure to leave a list of your favorites or the ones you love to hate.


Our friend Jacqui has followed up with her own post on domestic violence in response to several posts and comments on this blog. Be sure to read her take, from the perspective of a writer and psychologist based on the other side of the pond. You go girl!

See and go to Asking for It, in the April posts. 

Thank you, Jacqui, for keeping the conversation going!


As horrible as it is for any individual woman to be punched and choked and slammed and kicked, the real tragedy, to me, is the legacy a violent act leaves for others. What it does to those who care about the victim and whoever threw the punches, especially when the people involved are famous. 

Remember when guys joked that there was no such thing as rape? I do. It wasn't so long ago, either. And, it wasn't only guys who blamed women for getting "what they asked for" because they wore the wrong clothes, walked down the wrong street, went out with the wrong guy, or did whatever they did to bring violence and violation upon themselves. (Then there was the theory that, not only do women ask for rape, they enjoy it. But, that's another story.)

All this is to say, when it came to defining rape in the 1960s, 1970s and maybe beyond, the lines sometimes blurred between victim and attacker, as well as normal and deviant behavior.

And that brings us to today. In the Chris and Rihanna thing, what looked like a pretty clear-cut act of violence perpetrated by an out-of-control young man against a defenseless woman, has changed into something much different. According to the media, it's no longer clear which of the two was the victim and which was the perp. In fact, it's no longer clear there was a crime committed. Maybe she just got what she asked for. Maybe he just got a bit carried away.

Whatever. But, don't believe for a minute that the battle between these two pop stars is limited to the courtroom, or even the media. No, it's being played out daily in school cafeterias, at bus stops and around office water coolers, where their fans take sides and sometimes fight each other. We can only wonder which side of the flying fist they'll be on, as they get older.  

Consider these excerpts from a story in last week's Village Voice (NY): 
(Click Read More to continue reading this post)


In no particular order, here are a few books I've read or tried to read recently. One was read for a book club, the others were just random picks from the library. If you're familiar with any of them, I'd be very interested to hear your opinion. 

Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein

I had great hopes for this first novel by a former NYC assistant district attorney, but the book fell far short of my expectations. This is a feather-light, breezy little mystery in which thinly developed characters run through familiar places, doing predictable things. If you like tourist versions of New York City and Martha's Vinyard, you'll love the setting. Easily forgettable.

The Ha-Ha: A Novel  by Dave King

Couldn't get through it. The first 25 pages introduced a meth addict, a brain damaged Vietnam Vet, and a soon-to-be-discarded kid. Too dark for my tastes. The author spoke at our library a few weeks ago about veterans and their issues. I planned to go, but didn't. 

Run by Ann Patchett

Absolutely loved this book! Her rich language and characters will stay in your memory forever. She introduces the reader to a side of Boston most people never see, where real people live. For more information, see my earlier post, What is a Family?

Le Divorce by Diane Johnson

This may be the best of Johnson's three ex-pat novels, but it's the slowest read. In spite of the leaden pace, I found Le Divorce to be the most satisfying story, with the roundest characters. You never know where she's going. If you like very precise language, chiseled characters and lively plots, you'll love Diane Johnson. She's a master storyteller. You don't need to know French to enjoy any book from this series, but it helps.

Health and Happiness by Diane Johnson

One of her early novels and my favorite, so far. H & H may have been the basis for ER, only better. A taut medical mystery/romance that will make you gasp, laugh, and cry, especially when you run out of pages. I couldn't put it down.