“What is Paris really like? You don’t have to sugarcoat if for me, I can take it.”

By Frances Katz

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Paris rooftops in the 11th Arr. (photo by Frances Katz)

Not long ago, travel magazine Afar sent writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner to Iceland. She responded with an interesting essay about looking for and not finding any puffins, an adorable bird native to the island. …

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Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club is more than a book about mothers and daughters, although it’s easy to choose sides while reading the generational 1989 novel. On one side are the mothers, Chinese immigrants who have been gathering together for years at a weekly mahjong party called The Joy Luck Club. These women lived several lives — lives that began in the very old world of China before Mao. On the other side are their modern second-generation American daughters. They are engaged in a constant struggle between living up to their mothers’ expectations and finding their own way.

When I first read the book, I was firmly Team Daughters, and that hasn’t really changed. I still find myself sympathizing with them, but for slightly different reasons. Each of the daughters — June, Waverly, Lena, and Rose — wants to understand their inscrutable mothers. What spoke to me at the time was the love and the tension and the cultural generation gap that always reminded me of two people trying to have a conversation by shouting at each other from opposite sides of the Grand Canyon. Even with the best intentions, only a few vague words and phrases ever come across. …

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There’s nothing more exciting than boarding an airplane to take off for the destination of your dreams. And there’s nothing less exciting than being on the actual flight. Hour after hour of recycled air, cramped seats, bad movies, and boorish seatmates can make five hours seem like 500. But the beautiful fashion crowd does it all the time — flying back and forth from New York to Paris, London, Tokyo and Milan. How do they do it without tumbling off the plane looking and feeling death warmed up? Simple. They come prepared, and they come with style. …

The best thing Hollywood can do for Georgia is to stay here forever.

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I used to think a boycott could fix everything from dictators running amok in third world countries to unscrupulous ice cream vendors at the local park. But a boycott is not a one-size fits all solution to bad governments, bad laws or bad labor practices. A visible Hollywood presence in Georgia is the best thing the film industry can do for the state.

Atlanta had been struggling with an identity crisis probably since the end of the Civil War. When I moved here in the late ’90s, the city was still taking hits for trying, and mostly failing, to model itself after the big cities it admired like New York, Miami, and Austin. Atlanta’s inferiority complex was a hot topic back then. “Is it just me, or do you think Atlanta tries too hard?” a colleague asked at the time. “Oh my god, yes!” sighed another. “It’s so tiring. …

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Milo Parker (and friend) as Gerald Durrell, whose books are the basis for the series.

Somewhere between Downton Abbey, Little House on the Prairie, Arrested Development and The Swiss Family Robinson are The Durrells in Corfu. The six part series from Britain’s ITV begins airing as part of the PBS “Masterpiece” series on Sunday October 16. The Durrells is based on the first book of classic semi-autobiographical trilogy “My Family and Other Animals,” by conservationist Gerald Durrell. The books and the series chronicle the unconventional Durrell family as they relocate from rainy, dreary England to the sunny, unspoiled island of Corfu in 1935.

Anyone who has ever dreamed of chucking it all and setting up home on a sunny island in the Mediterranean will be swept away by the lush scenery and wildlife that welcomes the family to Corfu. Widowed mom Louisa has been persuaded to move her bored and listless family there for a chance at happiness and familial harmony. The family includes her four children: Gerry, the youngest and an obsessive animal lover; Lawrence (called Larry), the oldest, a failed real estate agent and struggling writer; boy crazy Margo who is looking for love and adventure; and middle brother Leslie, once ruefully described by his mother as “a dolt with a gun.” Over the course of the series and the novel, Gerry will bring home animals, Leslie will randomly shoot things, Margo will paint and fall in and out of love while Larry embarks on a brilliant literary career that will span several continents and as many decades. And with all that going on, they each still find time to look for a suitable romantic partner for their reluctant mother. …

Everything Old is New Again: Watch the real-life dance inspirations behind the acclaimed FX mini-series.

There are so many things to love about the FX mini-series Fosse/Verdon. First, there is Michelle Williams’ extraordinary performance as legendary Broadway dancer Gwen Verdon. Her performance elicits chorus after chorus of “Give her all the awards” each week on Twitter. (I’m not the only one who thinks the series should have been called “Verdon/Fosse!”) The rest of the cast, including Sam Rockwell as Fosse and Kelli Barrett channeling Liza Minnelli are also brilliantly bringing these iconic Broadway and film stars to life.

And of course there are the performances. The series began with dance recreations from the films Sweet Charity and Cabaret. Fosse’s iconic choreography still seems oddly fresh, even with all the hands, hats, suggestive shimmying and cheesy hippie styling. …

Find Out if Your Entire Life is a Lie!

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Cool moms take you shopping. Scammer moms take you to court.

So you’ve been reading a lot in the news about these college admissions scams and as you sit in your comfy dorm room at your first choice college, you can’t help but wonder, “Did my mom spend thousands of dollars to get me into this school, and if she did, why was she always telling me to go to my room and study?”

Well of course you won’t know for sure until the next wave of indictments comes down, but you can prepare yourself by talking this short quiz to see what kind of mother you really have:

You’re freaking out about the SAT, so you ask your mom if you can get a tutor. What does she do?

Luke Perry’s character Dylan McKay had great hair, a cool car and all the girls. Was it really all so simple then?

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Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and Dylan (Luke Perry) in the good old days,

The death of Luke Perry from the after effects of a stroke was a sharp blow to many of us who were sure it wasn’t time for our pop culture icons to begin leaving us unless it was from a drug overdose or an unexpected accident. …

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(An early version of this essay first appeared on The Ploughshares Blog and is published here with permission.)

One of my favorite little known facts about Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is that she developed her writing skills at Cornell in the 1950s as an undergraduate student in Vladimir Nabokov’s legendary European literature class.

In addition to being a brilliant novelist, Nabokov was also had a reputation as an inspiring professor. In 1989, actor Christopher Plummer even portrayed the author lecturing about Kafka in a recreation of those memorable lectures for PBS.

Like many of Nabokov’s former students, Ginsburg speaks in glowing terms about the author and his legendary lectures. “He was magnetically engaging,” Ginsburg told Culture Trip. “He stood alone, not comparable to any other lecturer.” …

Is there anything more pathetic than racist, sexist, over-the-hill sports radio hosts trash talking female athletes?
I’ll answer that for you: NO. There is not.

So unless you want to join them on the Podium of Shame, put down the beer and nachos and listen up:

First of all, gold-medalist Chloe Kim is 17, you sexist, child molesting, creeps.
She is an amazing snowboarder. Did you even see her half-pipe run?
Do you even know what half-pipe is?

She made more money yesterday in fees and endorsements than they probably ever did in their sad little talk radio lives.
Apologizing after they’ve already been bounced is so pointless. Their sexist comments are all over social media. If they know something is lame and gross, maybe don’t say it on the radio.
Meanwhile WEEI Sports radio in Boston will suspend its live programming today so their dude bro hosts can all go to sensitivity training. That’s right. No live programming today. You want to talk about Spring Training or USA Hockey, take it to Twitter. WEEI management says this is an attempt to stop an ongoing pile of sexist sludge that pours forth almost daily. …


Frances Katz

Writer. Journalist. Media reporter. Theatre geek from way back. Occasionally funny. Occasionally on the road. Fan of the Oxford Comma. Siri calls me Sweetie.

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