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There’s a line in the film Cold Mountain, about a western North Carolina village during the Civil War, that has always stood out to me. In it, Ruby (Renee Zellweger) laments the current crisis engulfing their land. “Every piece of this is man’s bullshit,” she sobs. “They call this war a cloud over the land, but they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say ‘shit, it’s raining!’”

That line has been on my mind a lot lately as I’ve seen reports — like this from CNN’s Jamie Gangel — that House Republicans want to vote to impeach Donald Trump for his role in last week’s violent insurrection at the Capitol, but that “they legitimately fear for their lives and their families’ lives.” That any member of Congress should live in mortal terror over a House vote is appalling and should be unequivocally condemned. …


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“Sparks Press” by Sarah a Chrisman. Photo: Skylar Baker-Jordan

When last year I interviewed the author Sarah A Chrisman, I walked away with only one word to describe her: warm. Talking to her was like drinking a delicious cup of hot cocoa: sweet, comforting, and immensely satisfying. I wasn’t surprised. The Tales of Chetzemoka — Chrisman’s series of historical novels set in the Pacific Northwest during the late 19th century — got me through the pandemic with their tenderness and companionship.

Cosy and familiar like a warm handmade jumper, the friends of the Chetzemoka Wheelmen — the fictional bicycling club at the heart of the series — became my friends. So, when Chrisman revealed to me that the latest instalment would be published by Christmas, I was excited. …


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Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Carroll O’Connor, and Sally Struthers in “All in the Family.” Photo: CBS/Pinterest

Archie Bunker was a bigot. Whether bemoaning the Black family who lived next door or refusing to accept his friend is gay or his casual misogyny or his frequent attempts at — to borrow a phrase from the modern right — “own the libs,” he was a deeply flawed and prejudiced man. Yet, half a century since he first appeared on our screens, singing an off-key ode to Herbert Hoover and life before the New Deal, he remains a crucial and iconic pop culture figure.

Through Archie, series creator Norman Lear managed to provide a humorous and insightful glimpse into the id of white America during a time of massive cultural and political upheaval. As opposed to the middle-class ideals presented in Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and other American sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s, Norman Lear’s magnum opus focuses on the working-class Bunker family and tackled weighty and topical issues in ways not done before on television. For that reason, All in the Family, which premiered 50 years ago this Tuesday, is a landmark television event. …


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Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty via Vox

Watching what is happening in Congress is heartbreaking to me, as a small-d democrat, and as an American. That our elected representatives would attempt to undermine a free and fair election is frightening. What has our country come to?

Whatever it has come to, it has been a long road to get here. Listening to Mitch McConnell wax lyrical about American democracy and our institutions and advise his Republican colleagues against “partisan vengeance” is so rich I could gag. This is the man who has spent the past decade engaging in partisan vengeance, from saying “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” to refusing a hearing on Merrick Garland, to railroading Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court, to, to, to. …


A photo of the author shrugging and looking confused in front of the Palace of Westminster.
A photo of the author shrugging and looking confused in front of the Palace of Westminster.
Westminster is confusing

I got my start, as both a blogger and professional writer, covering British politics. Even though I am an American, my heart lies in Westminster. I am fascinated by the workings of Parliament, its traditions, its history, and of course the many people — from MPs to spads to mandarins to journalists — who make it work. Or not work, as the case may be.

However, I’ve not had much time to devote to Westminster lately. For those of you who just emerged from the rock under which you live, the US just had what is without a doubt the most important election of my lifetime. That, coupled with a pandemic throwing a spanner in everything from work to play to mental health, has meant my attention has been focused much closer to home. …


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Welp, here we are. The end of the year that felt like a decade. I quit drinking in November 2019, which at various times throughout this dreadful collective trauma we call 2020 has felt like a mistake. Yet here we are at finish line. We made it, when so many of our fellow humans did not. If nothing else, that is worth acknowledging, mourning, but also celebrating. Despite the pandemic, life lives on.

This has been a shit year, chock-full of endless misery and despair. Yet, there have been some real angels emerge, reminding us that even in the bleakest of times, there are those who will put first their fellow human beings. The bad folks deserve to be called out, while the good folks deserve a moment in the sun. …


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The author, drunk and sledding on the campus of Western Kentucky University, Christmas Eve 2010. Photo: unknown stranger who was kind enough to take his picture

Like the Grinch who stole Christmas, Covid-19 is keeping many of us home for the holidays. With much of the UK under travel restrictions and the unmitigated spread of the virus causing many Americans to cancel plans, countless people are facing a rather blue Christmas.

Spending Christmas alone is scary and upsetting, especially if you have never done it before. A time of family, togetherness, and merriment, it can feel impossible to escape the festive atmosphere, which only reminds you just how utterly alone you are. It’s enough to make even the jolliest elf feel glum.

My first Christmas spent alone was in 2009. I was a broke university student without the means to travel home, so I stayed in my dingy little apartment with my pitiful little Christmas tree and a bottle of grain alcohol. Safe to say, it was a low point. …


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The album art for “Dicked Down in Dallas.” Photo: Genuis.com

When I first heard there was a country song called “Dicked Down in Dallas,” I guffawed. As a lifelong fan of country music, I am accustomed to some zany titles. In a genre that gave us such unforgettable diddies as “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” “Goin’ Through the Big D,” and “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” cheeky innuendo is nothing new. But “Dicked Down in Dallas?” That sounds more OnlyFans than Grand Ole Opry.

Yet, the song has become a viral sensation, spreading across the internet faster than Covid at a White House party. Rolling Stone has reported on its success, while industry blog Taste of Country did a flattering profile on its singer, Trey Lewis. Most impressively, the song has racked up sales and streams, topping the iTunes chart and entering the top 20 of the Billboard Hot Country Songs.

Written by Lewis and fellow songwriters Drew Trosclair and Matt McKinney, “Dicked Down” has amazing guitar rifts. Lewis’ rich, twangy vocals are a perfect fit for country radio. The lyrics, on the other hand, are perhaps too explicit to allow for airplay. Still, the fact that people love it isn’t so surprising. …


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James Corden, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman in “The Prom.” Photo: Indiewire/Netflix

The internet hates James Corden.

Take this 2017 Reddit thread, which simply asks “Why do people hate James Corden so much?” Or this 2018 piece from LadBible, in which writer Jess Hardiman explains “how James Corden went from everyone’s favourite funnyman to one of the world’s most hated.” Or Angus Harrison’s guide for Americans “who don’t like James Corden.”

Precisely why people hate James Corden is a bit like why people don’t like dark chocolate, or John Lewis Christmas adverts: it pretends to be lovely but is actually bitter and exploitative, it’s the same schtick year after year, it’s fattening or at least saccharine, and some can’t really tell you why — there’s just something distasteful about it. …

About

Skylar Baker-Jordan

Skylar Baker-Jordan has been writing about UK and US politics and culture for more than a decade. His work has appeared at The Independent, Salon, and elsewhere

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