The Morning Show, costarring the equally fed-up Reese Witherspoon, is at once a manifestation of and reckoning with women’s middle-aged rage. As showrunner Kerry Ehrin put it, “It’s almost like this orchestral finale — this huge noise and sound all these emotions that have just been stuffed down in these women for all these years, you know?”
It’s not that this rage is new. It’s always been there, in various, and variously sublimated, forms. There have just been so few opportunities for it to be listened to — at least within the mainstream — because there have been so few mainstream productions that even take older women, let alone their anger, seriously. But The Morning Show, for all of its unevenness, also serves as a meta-textual commentary on the fatigue of decades of being a woman in the public eye. This is a fine show about morning television, and a not-always-successful show about #MeToo. But it’s also a very interesting show about Jennifer Aniston.
I took the 05:27 train from Okayama one cool morning, though by the time I got off at Kaminocho Station just 25 minutes later, the air was already thick and sultry, foretelling another typically sweltering August day in Japan. A short walk down the street led me to a small, industrial-looking building, where a family of four and a handful of other customers were already slurping bowls of wheat udon noodles at tables outside. I parted the curtain hanging across the entry and stepped into the udon factory.
Matsuka Seimen is not a restaurant. It is a third-generation noodle-making factory run by the Matsuka family. Over the past 15 years, the Matsukas have built a reputation for preparing and supplying local grocers with fresh udon. But because the thick noodles’ taste and texture is especially flavourful when it’s boiled immediately after it’s been rolled and cut, people soon began to ask the Matsukas if they’d be willing to set aside a few round, chewy strands to serve on the spot. Thirteen years ago, the family yielded to customer demand and ever since, the factory has sold freshly prepared udon directly to the public – but only from 06:00 to 07:00.
Every fisherman or woman has a catch they dream of landing. King salmon, with its signature pink streak and hooked jaw, is almost certainly on any angler’s list. Its very mention brings fantasies of deep woods and roaring streams, dammed by hordes of slick green backs begging to be hooked.
That fishermen wish for salmon is no surprise. The twist in that fantasy is that such visions are not pipe dreams restricted to the West. Thousands of coho and king salmon swim inland every autumn just five hours northwest of New York City, pouring out of Lake Ontario and into dozens of tributaries across Oswego County to spawn and die upstream.
It is hard to think of a major American poet who revealed so little about herself while revealing so much about the human world we inhabit. Through about 100 poems published during her lifetime, Elizabeth Bishop — in her compact, reticent, nearly invisible way — contained multitudes.
There has never been a language as globally dominant as English is today. Yet 400 years ago, it was the lowly tongue of an insignificant backwater on the edge of Europe. Unlike French, Italian, Spanish or even Dutch, it had no cultural prestige, and was useless overseas. Anyone who aspired to real civility, or to travel or trade with mainland Europe, had no option but to learn its languages. How English men and women of the late 15th to the early 18th century went about doing so is the subject of John Gallagher’s fascinating new book, a welcome attempt to show that the history of language encompasses much more than just the history of words.