A Story About Building Something

Jan 31 2015 @ 8:30pm

Ellie Lee tells shares how she came to appreciate the essential role her father, an immigrant shopkeeper, played in his community:

Learn more about the Moth here. Previous storytelling on the Dish here. Speaking of building something, here’s a look back at a post from January 2013 entitled “Is The Dish A Community?”:

I probably send more emails to the Dish than to any one person I know outside of work, other than my close relatives and girlfriend. To the extent that “community” and “communication” have a shared root (which they do),qm The Dish is a community to me. And in any community, there are those who get a thrill up their leg being an active member (your “dorky” subscriber), and those who keep their distance from any displays of affection (your dissenter). And there are those who simply appreciate the stimulation the community provides and find it occasional cathartic to throw in their two cents (or pence in my case) by shooting of an email.

The Dish is not Oprah. It is that rare thing on the Internet: a place for intelligent discussion that wears itself lightly. Most of the web communities I’ve seen are populated by either emotion-infused screeds or dispassionate analyses that betray nothing of the writer’s bias. The Dish is the only place I find commentary that doesn’t pander to either extreme. In part because reader feedback is moderated. But largely because, while biased, the editing is, as you claim, remarkably balanced.

Solo But Not Single

Jan 31 2015 @ 7:15pm

Maureen O’Connor wonders about the role masturbation plays in relationships:

Most studies find that a big majority of married Americans report masturbating (and since it’s self-reporting, that probably undersells it). “Even if I had all the men in the world that I wanted in my bed, even if I had Ryan Gosling, I would still masturbate with sex toys,” French sex columnist Maïa Mazaurette recently told me. “I don’t want to go back to a world without plastic!”

On the other hand, well, masturbation is sort of inherently antisocial. Within the bounds of a relationship defined, in part, by both partners’ willingness to devote sexual energy to one another, it can be downright rude. Can we ever really get over the embarrassment of purely personal indulgence? Or take the indulgence of your partner as anything other than a rejection of you? Even if we want to be open, practically and emotionally, exposing deeply private habits to anyone — even the one you love — is reflexively uncomfortable. And hearing your girlfriend rev up her vibrator after saying she’s going to sleep early can be hard to shake. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean that the negotiations won’t be awkward or that the concessions will be easy to get used to.

A Poem For Saturday

Jan 31 2015 @ 5:55pm

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“On the Grasshopper and Cricket” by John Keats (1795-1821):

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is creasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

(Photo by Jim Capaldi)

Mental Health Break

Jan 31 2015 @ 4:20pm

We’re still trying to catch ours:

A Short Story For Saturday

Jan 31 2015 @ 3:22pm

Given this week’s weather, Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow” seemed like a timely selection – though of course the story isn’t really about snow. Here’s how it begins:

Tub had been waiting for an hour in the falling snow. He paced the sidewalk to keep warm and stuck his head out over the curb whenever he saw lights approaching. One driver stopped for him but before Tub could wave the man on he saw the rifle on Tub’s back and hit the gas. The tires spun on the ice. The fall of snow thickened. Tub stood below the overhang of a building. Across the road the clouds whitened just above the rooftops, and the street lights went out. He shifted the rifle strap to his other shoulder. The whiteness seeped up the sky.

A truck slid around the corner, horn blaring, rear end sashaying. Tub moved to the sidewalk and held up his hand. The truck jumped the curb and kept coming, half on the street and half on the sidewalk. It wasn’t slowing down at all. Tub stood for a moment, still holding up his hand, then jumped back. His rifle slipped off his shoulder and clattered on the ice, a sandwich fell out of his pocket. He ran for the steps of the building. Another sandwich and a package of cookies tumbled onto the new snow. He made the steps and looked back.

Read the rest here. More of Wolff’s short fiction can be found in Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. Peruse previous SSFSs here. Update from a reader:

I see a none-too-subtle South Park reference in today’s short story. I mean, it’s The Dish and one of the main guys is Kenny. Of course he’s fucked.

Face Of The Day

Jan 31 2015 @ 3:02pm

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From the in-tray:

As a long-time reader, subscriber and rare participant, I wanted to share a photo for the View From Your Window segment: this afternoon at the Korean DMZ, North Korean guards looking into the conference room where meetings between the UN and North Koreans are periodically held.

A History Divided

Jan 31 2015 @ 2:25pm

The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie tours the National Museum of her native country, noting that “it’s the pre-Islamic parts that most interest me”:

In the centre of the [Late Harappan (or Indus Valley Civilisation) Room], on a podium of his dish_priestkingown, is that most iconic of the Indus Valley Civilisation’s artefacts: the priest-king. Unlike many of the other objects in the museum, there’s an approximate date attached to the soapstone figure: 2500-1500 BC. I look closely at the priest-king’s combed-back hair and cropped beard, his patterned cloak, the circlet at his brow. For years a replica of this figure looked out from one of the bookshelves in my family home, mysterious and distant, and now that I’m standing in front of the original I feel … quite certain it’s another replica.

At this point the director of the museum, Mr Bukhari, walks in and I ask him straight. “The original is kept somewhere,” he says, smiling a little sadly. “It’s a national symbol. We can’t take risks with it.”

With just those few words he transforms my combative attitude.What pressures there must be in running a museum that requires a Koranic inscription at its entrance to try and ward off attacks. The object that should be the centrepiece of the museum—the one Mr Bukhari describes as a “national symbol”—has to be hidden away “somewhere” that can’t be named. …

Read On

Tuning In To Diversity

Jan 31 2015 @ 1:09pm


Chenjerai Kumanyika feels that “few of the hosts of popular narrative non-fiction podcasts and public radio programs like This American Life, Invisibilia, RadioLab, Startup, and Strangers are non-white.” He wonders how greater diversity in narrators and hosts would affect the “public voice” of radio:

In August and then again in November 2014, my wife and I traveled to Ferguson, Missouri. When we first got there in August, I remember talking to some young African-American males who lived on the street where Michael Brown was killed. I asked one why he thought that there had been such an uprising in Ferguson. In response, he reminded me that Michael Brown’s body had lain in the street for four hours (he said eight) before being picked up. Of course I had heard this before, but he made me feel it. I sat quietly for over 40 minutes and let him tell his own story his own way. His voice smoldered with conviction as he spoke. The deep resentment and frustration in his steady low tones pushed through any detachment or emotional distance that I might try to maintain. I felt the weight of Michael Brown’s body, and the weight of so many other lives in this young man’s voice. I wasn’t hearing his voice thrown in as a sound bite garnish to another host’s main dish. Instead, he was the narrator, assembling memories, images, emotions, and even speculation into his own multi-modal account. I would like to hear people who speak with voices like this young man’s voice as hosts and narrators on public radio shows and podcasts.

Kumanyika comments on the above audio sample he recorded:

Some of what bothers me is just problems with poor writing choices. At times, I wrote with in a voice that isn’t my own (“Fisherman with Capital F”? What does that even mean?). What bothers me most when I listen to this piece is that I’m acutely conscious of the way I’m adjusting my whole experience/method of inhabiting my personality. My voice sounds too high in pitch, all the rounded corners of my vernacular are awkwardly squared off. I’ve flattened the interesting aspects of my voice.

He re-recorded it with more of his own personality:

Read On

The View From Your Window Contest

Jan 31 2015 @ 12:00pm

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You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts. Be sure to email entries to contest@andrewsullivan.com. Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or a Dish t-shirt. Have at it.

Recording The Ordinary

Jan 31 2015 @ 11:02am

Cody Delistraty finds value in it:

Why write down routine conversations, ones we’ve had a million times and will have a million times more? Isn’t it more important to remember extraordinary moments: first steps, graduations, jobs, awards, marriage, retirement, vacations? Yet people seldom realize how fondly they will look back on days spent mundanely: a day spent reading in the bay window, a picnic in the park with friends. These things may not stick out while they are happening, but revisiting them can be a great pleasure.

Ting Zhang’s research backs this up:

Read On