The title of an Australian film from 1991, Last Days of Chez Nous, has always haunted me, long after any memories of the film itself faded. To those who don’t know French, it can be roughly translated as the “the last days of our house,” or even more colloquially as “the last days of our place.” The phrase married the melodrama of Wagner’s towering finale of the Ring Cycle Götterdämmerung, Twilight of the Gods, with the cozily domestic. A household breaks up. …


The Democratic Dream of the White Daddy and the Dream Suitor

It just happened. I got called a bigot by two angry Facebook posters on a friend’s thread. My comment? That I don’t support Joe Biden for president because of his own actions. I wouldn’t refuse to live next door to Joe Biden. I don’t wish this person any harm. I wouldn’t mind if my son married one of his daughters. I could see myself chatting him up at bar.

To be fair, I would feel that way about almost anyone because, well, because I’m not a bigot.

I have…


Okay. I’m going to write this. I really don’t want to. It’s Labor Day. I start my college teaching again tomorrow, and I just want my last, sweet day off. It’s getting toward afternoon, and I’m still in my bedroom because it’s cool in here, and I’m alone in the house so there’s no one to go down for.

But labor I must. Posting on Face Book threads just isn’t enough because there’s a widespread psychological malady afoot: McCain worshipitis. My previously sane Hillary allies have gone loony with a celebration of John McCain. Memes are being posted. Tremulous adulation…


Mean Boys

Tina Fey nailed the cult of girl cruelty in her iconic film, Mean Girls. But what about mean boys? These were the guys who terrorized us on the bus, in the playground, everywhere our teachers or parents weren’t looking. When we were young they were loser boys who won every game of Musical Chairs. Don’t laugh at my naivety, (okay, you can if you want to) but for years I thought it an odd coincidence that a big, bully, boy was always nearest the chair when the music stopped and was always the last man standing. When I…


Trump Won Because We Wanted Him To

I should clarify what I mean by we. I mean the United States as a society. I know we have micro-societies, and it’s hard to speak of a group of people so numerous and diverse as one society, but our national elections ask us to that, as does our foreign policy, and even our domestic policy, which operates at the federal level in many instances.

I certainly didn’t want Trump to win. I spent more time and money than I really had on HRC’s campaign. In the last few weeks of the campaign…


When I was first introduced to Tom Stoppard’s brand of puckish wisdom with Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead my ears pricked up like a puppy’s — a new master had moved into my neighborhood. We have a tradition in my family to see a play for my birthday, and several Stoppards were among them — Indian Ink,The Real Thing, Hapgood in Williamstown, and the Invention of Love on the telly. Each had its moments, and for me Arcadiais a great masterpiece. Thomasina is waltzing forever in a corner of my mind.

And then there was this year’s production of Travesties


Among the five basic tastes, sweet, sour, savory, salty, and bitter, we are most sensitive to bitterness, probably because bitter foods are often poisonous, so we evolved with tongues sensitive to danger. And yet, sometimes we seek out the bitter, in coffee, bitter chocolate, and beer. Jews are required to eat bitter herbs at Passover to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.

Sensitivities to bitterness are inherited, but I had two parents who guzzled black coffee and two kids who appreciate beer. I avoid both.

Keeping secrets is natural to me. One time a guy in a college cafeteria…


Smashing Knowledge: Kristallnacht in America

I have been teaching the great classical epics in my community college mythology class, as I have for roughly thirty semesters. For years I have met my class on Tuesday evenings in the same room, Southampton 29. In fact, this semester a student confided that when her stepfather dropped her off for class his memories were triggered of sitting in the same classroom as the sunset streamed through the windows, and he pondered the great heroes. Much has changed on the campus. Now there is a confusing traffic circle and the route to the building…


(With thanks to Maxine Hong Kingston)

I honor the woman-warrior. I honor HRC, a worldwide symbol of the dream of female autonomy. And Harriet Tubman. And Toni Morrison. And Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot, the woman who plays her. I honor Maxine Hong Kingston for her beautiful phrase, and Arundhati Roy, and Virginia Woolf. I honor my friends, who are novelists, publishers, editors, memoirists, doctors, therapists, college teachers, rabbis, pastors, Quakers, lawyers, law makers, mothers, teachers, friends, lovers. I honor my amazing daughter.

I am a relic of the second wave of feminism. In 1970, when I was, nineteen, I…


Dear George Clooney, Shut Up

Dear George Clooney, you may look cute in a tuxedo, but when you open your mouth, you lose me. And those who compare you to Cary Grant don’t remember the real thing. You aren’t even original. You are just one in a long line of Democratic men offering post-election criticisms of HRC. You clearly didn’t feel that way when you hosted a gala fundraiser for her at your home.

Let’s look at your quoted beef. According to you “she didn’t up her game.” She didn’t inspire you, and that of course, that means she didn’t…

Laurel Brett

Laurel Brett, PhD. teaches English, Women’s Studies, and Mythology. She is the author The Schrödinger Girl, and Disquiet on the Western Front.

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