Stop Asian Hate!

This boy, my grandson, is an American citizen. But he’s not coming back to the United States, at least for now. Photo by Yan Zhang Miller.

I identify as white. What do I mean “identify?” I am white. Actually beige and 100% Ashkenazi Jewish, .i.e., with grandparents from Poland and Austria.

Nevertheless, I’m contributing this short piece because my son is married to a woman from Anhui Province, China. And I have two grandchildren who are—if you count those things—50% pure Ashkenazi Jewish and 50% pure Han Chinese. A winning combination, if you ask me, for beauty, smarts, and good health.

During the ten years they’ve been married, my son and his wife have lived in Beijing, San Francisco and Singapore. They are now in the…

and avoid tricky sound-alike words in your stories

Collage by Ellen Shapiro using Adobe Stock vectors.

‘Homophone’ is the somewhat unfortunate term that refers to two or more words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Whether or not you’re a fan of what they’re called, homophones are popping up everywhere, in Facebook posts, in student work, even in stories on Medium.

The essays by students in my graphic design class for college seniors, for example, were thoughtful and insightful. But their spelling was… creative. As just a few examples:
“They wanted me to rain in my creativity.”
“He challenged American consumers to think outside the isle.”
“I couldn’t bare reading about him.”
“They waved the…

No matter how much effort I put into making the Thanksgiving turkey, I was never happy with it. Until this year. So here’s a recipe ready for Christmas.

This Thanksgiving could possibly have been my 20th time making the roast turkey. And it’s the only time I’ve been truly happy with the results.

Oh, I’ve tried brining, shoving butter under the skin, turning the bird three or four times, using butter-soaked cheesecloth (that, from Julia Child), constant basting, etc., etc. No matter the methodology utilized, when the dark meat was done, the white meat was dry; the whole production might have looked pretty on its decorated platter but was not worth the [considerable] effort. After all, all roast turkeys are welcome when covered with gravy and accompanied by…

Should we prepare for the second civil war?

All images courtesy Edel Rodriguez

“I know what Trump is going through right now.” My husband said that to me last night.

“Why do you care?” I answered, surprised.

“Because his finger is potentially on the button. I don’t want him to have a complete meltdown.”

“I wouldn’t feel sorry for him. Besides, his meltdown already happened.”

“I’m not feeling sorry for him. I’m being realistic. When someone really believes they had something and it gets taken away, it has greater impact than if they never had it in the first place. …

You never know what you’ll find in the men’s department or in the back of your own closet.

Yep. It’s really me. All photography by Margaret Fox.

Nothing in my closet made sense any more. Since March, there’s been no need for silk blouses and beige gabardine trousers and linen blazers, my spring and summer-in-the-city working wardrobe. Besides, what was I doing, besides working at my computer all day, at home? House cleaning, gardening, weekly grocery shopping, a little yoga practice, a little percussion practice. Zoom meetings, for which The New York Times recommends a crisp white shirt. I have several of those. Soon, the weather was too warm for jeans, even yoga pants. And forget sweatpants. I hate sweatpants.

When it got really, really hot, I…

from what was in the fridge

It looks like a big egg yolk in this picture, but it’s the most delicious soup I’ve ever made…with ingredients that were hanging around in the refrigerator.

We had this collapsed, cooked buttercup squash in the fridge. I’d roasted it the night before, but it looked kind of unappetizing, especially in the hot weather. And a bunch of celery and some decent-looking carrots were in the vegetable bin.

Shall I throw away that squash, I asked myself. No, make soup with it. I surprised myself.

It was so good. Hot that day, and cold, for lunch, the next.

I bet…

Brands needed new ads right away. What happened?

Still from commercial for FreshPet, courtesy Terri & Sandy

Imagine that it’s April 22, 2020. Time is frozen. You’re sheltering in place, watching Anderson Cooper interview Carolyn Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas. In a wacky, unnerving exchange, Ms. Goodman claims she wants the casinos — the whole city — to reopen, with no plan in place on how to do so safely. “Wait a minute,” Cooper says, “3,900 cases in Nevada, 163 deaths, and that’s with social distancing.” For a little levity, you tune in to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but, of course, it’s The Daily Social Distancing Show, and the guest is Andrew Cuomo, governor of…

If your supermarket has a cheese section, a bakery, and fresh fish and herbs, thank Milton Glaser and his client, Sir James Goldsmith. The late designer’s legacy included a $500 million redesign of Grand Union. The total redesign of the supermarket experience did not last forever, but the innovations did.

Model by Milton Glaser, Inc,, c. 1992. Recently reconstructed by Mirko Ilic.

For London-based financier Sir James Goldsmith (1933–1997), buying and selling companies on the world market — oil companies and industrial corporations — was all in a day’s work. In 1978, he bought the Grand Union Company, an American supermarket chain headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey. He then asked Milton Glaser, whose work in interiors, exhibitions, identity, posters, publications, and restaurant design was already world-famous, to “redefine the supermarket category.” Thus began an odyssey that took Goldsmith and Glaser to the food halls of London and Berlin and the open-air markets of Italy — and became one of the most remarkable…

Did that attempt to change things make a difference?

Collage from iStock and 123RF images by Ellen Shapiro

It was 1967, in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Inglewood High School, I landed a coveted summer job, working at the pool complex in Centinela Park, a 55-acre public park in Inglewood near the edge of South-Central L.A.

I didn’t have lifeguard certification, but I passed a written test and a physical that let me join the elite group of pool attendants. It sounds laughable now, but the job was coveted because we got paid for spending most of the day in the sun, working on our tans — wearing our smart red one-piece swimsuits with navy-striped trim —…

Photos from Friends Abroad

Family and friends. Sometimes we take them for granted. But it’s terrible when we can’t be with them in person.

On March 29, I posted an invitation to a virtual event called “My Empty.” I invited relatives and friends to (safely) take pictures of their deserted neighborhood or street, or the outside of a place they used to hang out.

Some say COVID-19 is the great equalizer. I’m not sure that’s true. But it surely is the bringer-together in ways we never considered before.

Here are photos taken by friends—designers and photographers—who live in Asia, Europe, Mexico, and Israel.


Don Ryun Chang
Dean, Graduate School of Film & Digital Media, Hongik University
COEX Mall, Seoul, Korea


Ellen M. Shapiro

My career is designing and writing about design. Here, I can write about lots of things. My short fiction attempts to capture and evoke past moments in time.

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