Art with an Agenda

Linda Gass creates gorgeous stitched paintings of the Western United States. They're deceptively lovely; each one is also a map of environmental damage.

I talked to Linda about her work. “I try to lure people in with that beauty to get them to confront the hard issues we face,” she said.

Well, it worked for this viewer. I'm totally hooked.

Read more over at mental_floss.


Interlude: Other People's Poetry

Der Blaue Weiher by Hugo Henneberg

The Night Ocean
by Rumi, tr. Coleman Barks

We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.


Let's Talk About Nellie Bly.

When I was very young, someone--and I wish I could remember who--gave me a collection of picture books about great women in history. I don't remember much about Eleanor Roosevelt, and I'd forgotten about Margaret Mead until college, but Nellie Bly stayed with me. Her tenacity and sheer nerve impressed me even then.

I got to write about her recently, and was completely delighted to find out that my picture book had left out some of the best parts of Nellie's story. That woman was unreal.

Here. Educate yourself: Nellie Bly, Rabblerouser and Pioneer of Investigative Journalism

photo: The Newseum


Plush Guts Make Life with Chronic Illness Just a Little Less Terrible

I wrote a story for mental_floss this week on a subject very close to my heart (and the rest of my body): coping with chronic illness.

Check it out if you get a chance: Cuddly Guts Bring Comfort to the Chronically Ill

photograph: I Heart Guts


A little business

You may have figured this out by now, but if you haven't: I got a job at mental_floss

What does this mean? 

A lot more weird science stories.

A lot.

Like this one: 

Bloodsucking Fish Rain from the Sky in Alaska

and this one:

Clams Are Giving Each Other Cancer


Also: are you on Twitter? I'm on Twitter. It took me a while to come around, but now that I have, I love it.


Also also: Thanks for reading.


A Truly Great Artist: Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

I grew up loving Woody Allen--not just the movies, but the man. Over the last year, I've renegotiated that relationship. My essay on Sweet and Lowdown is in the June "Dilemmas" issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine.

You can read it here.


Interlude: Other People's Poetry

The Mangroves
by Mary Oliver

As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, "Listen,
we are trees too." Okay, I'm trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don't
they know it, can't be done. "Are you
trying to fly or what?" I ask, and they
answer back, "We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can."

photograph by Barbara Fernandez

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