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Often found talking to herself, occasionally does what’s expected of her, but not too much

Jean Smart‘s character punches sexism in the nuts

Anyone who consumed afternoon TV in the 1990s will remember the blonde, ditzy character Charlene from Designing Women, a show about a group of ladies in the south who open and run an interior design firm. Jean’s character Charlene refused to believe life could be anything less than endlessly fun. She rocked sweater dresses with legendary shoulder pads and always wore massive earrings to balance out her teased, curly hair.

I loved Charlene growing up. Nothing ever got her down and she had a wealth of ridiculous stories for her colleagues. She often got dismissed or put down by the…

The patron saint of stoners helped an incredible love song of a movie come to life

In the depths of exhaustion after a long day of writer's block, I put on Dinner in America in hopes of getting inspired.

The movie is insanely good, and I’ll get into all that, but first I want to tell you what happened at the end of the credits — a line reading “In memory of Danny Leiner.”

If that name looks familiar to you, that’s because Leiner worked on so many stand-out projects, often stories championing the awkward kids in the corner, the overly-happy stoner, or the rebels of the neighborhood. …

Why I’ll never work in education again

My mother and I have a shorthand with all of our conversations. Whenever I mention something my partner M. is up to; designing a science summer camp, teaching high school classes online, anything related to education, my mom has a question ready for me.

“Why don’t you do something like that?”

To this day the question irks me. My reasons for never wanting to teach again are solid, despite how often they’re dismissed by people who desperately need teachers or members of my family. While I did well as a teacher at most of my schools, I have consistently seen…


How Barilla turned cooking into a dance party in your kitchen

Barilla’s pasta playlist.
Barilla’s pasta playlist.

The ideal pasta texture can be difficult to describe until you taste it. That soft-but-not-squishy-but-also-not-hard texture named al dente makes for perfect sauce delivery, a delightful thing in which to squish your fork, and the best place for melted cheese.

How to achieve it? Why, turn on your pasta playlist, of course!

Barilla attempted to make some “while the water boils,” (their term) with a YouTube series back in 2017. It’s genius, but it assumes you have your computer in your kitchen. While I definitely do watch my computer in the kitchen, it’s rare I can give it my full…

Why do readers insist she had a learning disability?

A quick Google search of “dyslexic authors” results in tons of listicles written since the invention of the list-as-article. In almost all of them, you’ll find the name, Agatha Christie.

I didn’t question her place on these lists at first. It turns out a lot of authors I grew up loving struggled with pattern recognition or had severe dysgraphia that made their handwriting impossible to read. But one thing bugged me.

None of these lists, or at least very few, offered any evidence for the claim “Did you know X was DYSLEXIC?” I started studying dyslexia during the pandemic for…

But I had to cancel mine

In 2019, my partner of two years proposed. She nailed it — she set it all up with a group of writer friends with whom I met up once a week to go over works in progress. She had my friend Ivan read a short story that referenced the song “How Long Will I Love You” the moment the same piece began to play on the cafe speakers. As I glanced around in shock, she walked in with friends and family to get on one knee and pop the question.

We started planning our wedding immediately, but as we’re two…

Mindful Traveling. China. South America.

Hired help means something different outside the US

I lived in Shanghai, China, after an unexpected job offer turned into a surprisingly long stay. There, almost everyone had an ayi.

An ayi, or auntie, can be anything from a hired cook to a nanny for a newborn. As a preschool teacher, I saw them daily. They picked up their charges, washed their faces, taught them how to urinate into plants. They became part of China’s bizarre, random scenery that kept the place so interesting.

The longer I stayed, the more I saw my friends hire their own personal helpers. …

For science fiction superstar Octavia Butler, it was a horrible movie

Learn more about Octavia Butler in my upcoming podcast episode. I’ll be investigating claims that Butler was a dyslexic writer and finding evidence to back up or refute this claim. Find it on my Patreon page.

When a young Octavia Butler sat at home one afternoon, she caught a made-for-TV-movie called Devil Girl from Mars. I didn’t make myself sit through the film, the trailer gave me all the low lights.

The production took all the worst bits of low-budget movie making and blended them together. …

And how her life inspired two incredible books

My new podcast, The Lives of Writers, is available to subscribers on my Patreon page. You can hear the first episode, Meags Fitzgerald, for free here.

Meags Fitzgerald is an author with whom I fell madly in love after I heard about her book Photobooth. Fitzgerald fell in love with the old machines and decided to make a hard left in her career path to work more closely with the dying technology. She identifies as queer, (same), has an obsession with red hair, (definitely), and loves any piece of pop culture that dabbles in magic (yes!)

In 2015, Fitzgerald wrote…

One man’s mission to tell a non-profit’s story

@jenntstb visits the mural representing SAWA.
@jenntstb visits the mural representing SAWA.

In 2019, Mexican painter and illustrator Iskar traveled to LA to start working with a gallery when he got an unexpected opportunity. The gallery’s owner introduced him to Rafi Nourafchan and Emily Shagley. Nourafchan heads a foundation of the same name and Shagley runs SAWA, a non-profit benefiting Kenyan women.

Shagley and Nourafchan wanted to feature a mural inspired by SAWA’s story on the famous 7575 Melrose wall, a space reserved for street artists. The Instagram-famous walkway is a living gallery, cycling through works by LA’s best creators. …

Lindsay Redifer

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