New Year’s Wish

Here is what a blogger says about America’s conservatives:

If you’re right-wing, everything is for all the marbles. Everything is a fight to the death. And thinking everything is a fight to death is why right-wingers — and Fox — rack up so many wins.

I wish you that in the New Year you will be able to say:

If you’re me, everything is for all the marbles. Everything is a fight to the death. And thinking everything is a fight to death is why I rack up so many wins.

Happy New Year, folks!

Happy New Year!

This year’s tree and table are the best. See for yourself:


The idea of a Jewish table was somewhat foiled. I initially wanted to add this really great Sephardic dish to the Ashkenazi and Soviet Jewish dishes. I realized, however, that this would be too much food.

I will still do the Sephardic dish and show you but it will have to wait.


The colorful thing in a glass is a verrine. And if you are planning to say that there is no place for shell-fish on a Jewish table, you need to read up on Soviet Jews of whom I am one.

The cake is the Sachertorte. Everything is made from scratch, of course. The red salad is the famous “Mistress Salad.” The idea behind the name is this: the salad is so delicious that a husband will eat it and realize that he can’t risk losing all this amazing home cooking for the sake of some useless mistress. So he exchanges the mistress for the salad. I researched this online today and was kind of horrified, but it was too late to undo the salad.

I forgot to place some oats and water on the table because we are ringing in the Year of the Horse, and the horse has to be mollified. (Once again, Soviet Jews, Soviet. If we feel like worshipping the Chinese calendar, so we will.)

Happy New Year!

The Winners of How Well Do You Know Clarissa Contest

The last part of this contest took place on August 30. We all know what happened a week later, so obviously it took me a while to go back to the contest that accompanied this entire pregnancy. Now, however, I’m ready to announce the results of the contest.

The very last question was what annoyed me in the following paragraph:

Today, fast food workers across the United States are striking for higher pay. Paltry minimum wages mean that workers are paid as little as $7.25 an hour — not nearly enough to live off of, let alone raise a family. More than 13 percent of fast food workers rely on food stamps to make ends meet, and a disproportionate number of fast food employees are women of color.

Of course, I detest the “off of.” At the time I asked the question, I had just spent the entire summer semester grading mountains of essays where each line contained “off ofs.” Sometimes, they even came at the end of a sentence.

Sadly, this simple question made some people strangely aggressive.

And now the winners!

The absolute winner of the series is reader Z with 12 points. Wow, Z, you somehow managed to figure me out completely. 🙂 You will be getting a gift for this win soon.

The second place goes to reader Ol. with 9 points. This isn’t a completely clean win, though, because Ol. is a close personal friend. Ol., I owe you a meal at any place of your choosing in Montreal.

The third place goes to reader Paranoid with 6.5 points. Paranoid made me paranoid with how well she (?) knows me. Paranoid, if you see me at a conference somewhere, please approach me, and I will buy you drinks.

Of course, the biggest winner here is me because having such great, intelligent, cool readers is amazing. Thank you for existing, people!

See the scores of other participants under the fold.

Continue reading “The Winners of How Well Do You Know Clarissa Contest”

The Most Important Holiday

New Year’s is such an important holiday in the Russian-speaking culture that Putin refused to declare national mourning over the terror acts in Volgograd. It isn’t that he is being especially insensitive on this issue. (At least, not more insensitive than he normally is). Putin simply understands even if he declares national mourning, people will still go all out celebrating. You can deprive Russian-speakers of many things, but you cannot take away their New Year’s.

Everything one does on this day is highly symbolic. This is why I timed the writing of my most recent article to submit it today. I’m also starting to write a new article today. You’ll say that this is superstitious. Yes, it probably is. But a lot of research gets done, which is always good.

The Best Books of 2013

And now for some great books published in 2013.

1. Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia was absolutely delightful. See my review of the book.

2. AndrĂ©s Trapiello’s Ayer no más. Another Franco apologist but, this time, a very talented one. I just wrote an article about this novel.

3. BenjamĂ­n Prado’s Ajuste de cuentas. A very passionate novel about Spain’s economic crisis. I will be reading it with my students next semester.

4. Sophie Hanna’s Kind of Cruel. Hannah is yet to disappoint me.

5. Žižek released tow great books: The Year of Dreaming Dangerously and Demanding the Impossible. Both are aimed at general audience and are absolutely delightful.

6. Katherine Webb’s A Half-Forgotten Song. What a talented author, people.

7. Bill Ayers released his autobiographical Public Enemy. It is a very good book.

8. Emma Chapman’s How To Be a Good Wife is a very curious book. Depending on your politics and worldview, this book allows for two radically different readings. Do read and tell me what it says to you. What or who victimized Marta? Is she really Marta?

Overall, there have been more good books than bad ones. A good year in reading. Do share your favorite books of 2013.