Staff Directory 6134704

James Lileks

Columnist | Variety
Phone: 612-673-7858

James Lileks is a Star Tribune columnist. 


Lileks, a Minneapolis resident since 1976: "I've never repeated myself once. I don't like to say I write a 'humor' column, since that's subjective. What might be amusing to me might leave you poker-faced. Let's just say my columns are not intended to be taken seriously." He also writes "Streetscape" pieces, which detail the delights and errors, past and present, of the Twin Cities urban environment. He's the author of four novels, four pop-culture "humor" books on vintage subjects and two collections of columns. "People who like my stuff will probably like lileks.com, and those who don't are probably grateful for the heads-up, and will avoid it," Lileks says.
Recent content from James Lileks
Was French dressing being dishonest?

Was French dressing being dishonest?

The brave new world of unregulated dressing.
The annual list of banished words has no official means of removing them from the dictionary.

Lileks: At the end of the day, awesome phrases still exist, literally

But make sure you circle back.
A New York City pharmacy posted a sign noting that home rapid tests for COVID-19 were sold out.

Lileks: What do you do when you run out of COVID tests?

The days in which people can freely test over and over again have passed, for a while.
Minnesotans do well in resisting excess — except at the State Fair.

Lileks: If there's Minnesota nice, there should be Minnesota naughty

New survey totals up our sins.
Want a low-stress new year’s resolution? Start by vowing to know what day it is.

Want to make a New Year's promise you can keep? Try these 11 Low Effort Resolutions

Need an emotional boost as we head into what could be another tough year? Make a resolution you know you can achieve.
Lileks: When you're a jerk, you're a jerk all the way

Lileks: When you're a jerk, you're a jerk all the way

How to ruin "West Side Story" for everyone.
There are many ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but only one song to sing. Now, why is that?

Lileks: New New Year's songs

Why is there only one?
Beware the question: Did you find everything you were looking for? It’s a difficult one to answer.

Lileks: The pastrami-shaped hole in one's life

Existential questions from the grocery store clerk.
Wall-mounted pot fillers have the water line installed inside the back wall behind the stovetop.

Lileks: Cooking up a Christmas miracle

Appliance installation produces a range of emotions
Lileks: What's our favorite Christmas movie?

Lileks: What's our favorite Christmas movie?

The answer might surprise you!
Gold colored top ten award sitting on red background. Horizontal composition with copy space. Directly above view. Top 10 concept.

Lileks: Ten problems with Top 10 Lists

All the things you missed.
Lileks: Spilling the beans about a broken coffeemaker

Lileks: Spilling the beans about a broken coffeemaker

The problems with online shopping.
White birch (aka birch poles) is a popular item for holiday pots.

Lileks: Bye-bye, birch, as a December mainstay

Hello, lonely firs.
Lileks: Putting up the lights early is not always a bright idea

Lileks: Putting up the lights early is not always a bright idea

News story: A man in Tampa, Fla., hired some pros to put up his Christmas lights on Nov. 6. His homeowners association fined him $1,000…
Lileks: Are Minnesotans poor poo picker-uppers?

Lileks: Are Minnesotans poor poo picker-uppers?

What's to blame for our dog-doo rating?
Lileks: Wait for new stove heats up excitement

Lileks: Wait for new stove heats up excitement

It was quite a special day last Wednesday. A sense of tingly, happy anticipation. Almost like Christmas!It was the day our new stove was scheduled…
Lileks: The lure of legacy lightbulbs is dimming

Lileks: The lure of legacy lightbulbs is dimming

It's worse than it sounds
Lileks: It's ketchup that's out of this world

Lileks: It's ketchup that's out of this world

Red sauce from the red planet.
Did you know that you can pay to track your packages?

Lileks: The Little Package That Couldn't

Ten dollars, and we'll tell you why you can't get your box.
The new words of the year aren’t words at all. Unless you speak acronym.

Lileks: New words of the year aren't words — unless you speak acronym

The dictionary just got a bit fatter by adding a slew of words (that aren't really words).
Lileks: Key facts about losing things

Lileks: Key facts about losing things

The five stages of not finding your keys.
Lileks: Can we be permanently disconnected?

Lileks: Can we be permanently disconnected?

A Minnesota town won't stop calling me.
Lileks: An intentional act of meat-candy intermingling

Lileks: An intentional act of meat-candy intermingling

Wisconsin makes a regrettable advance in meat science.
Lileks: Please let Indiana Jones enjoy his retirement

Lileks: Please let Indiana Jones enjoy his retirement

Everything old is new again.
Lileks: Will the Mall of America's new 'failure museum' be a success?

Lileks: Will the Mall of America's new 'failure museum' be a success?

More than 150 exhibits, each an example of a product that cannonballed into the pool and belly-flopped, hard.
Lileks: Mary Tyler Moore was on to something

Lileks: Mary Tyler Moore was on to something

I don't like this rerun
Lileks: We didn't start the fire — but we tried to

Lileks: We didn't start the fire — but we tried to

Because the gas was leaking
Lileks: We can see clearly now

Lileks: We can see clearly now

Why glasses should be cheap.
Lileks: Recalling our Life lessons

Lileks: Recalling our Life lessons

It's all about winners and losers.
Lileks: We forget how bad most TV used to be

Lileks: We forget how bad most TV used to be

Is the fall TV season still a big deal? There are still networks, so there has to be a fall season with exciting new shows.…
A 27-story apartment building will replace this structure on Washington Avenue N. in Minneapolis.

Why the Twin Cities should save some ugly buildings from the wrecking ball

Beautiful buildings tend to be the ones that are preserved. Here's why we should save some ugly structures.
Lileks: The squirrels are mutating

Lileks: The squirrels are mutating

The war between man and squirrel has resumed.
Lileks: Things that go beep in the night, and day

Lileks: Things that go beep in the night, and day

Whenever I leave town, a smoke alarm dies, and my wife has to find the one that's making the noise. This time she couldn't. She…
On holiday weekends, we don’t usually need the sign to know that traffic is slow.

Lileks: Labor Day driving advice – don't

We're really not very good at this.
Lileks: This one weird trick will save your coffeemaker

Lileks: This one weird trick will save your coffeemaker

"Do I smell something burning, or is it the COVID?"We're told that olfactory anomalies are a side effect of COVID, but isn't that loss of…
Winter is forecast to be cold and snowy.

Lileks: Farmer's Almanac says winter will be ... cold – with some snow

There's really no need for predictions. We know what winter will be like.
Lileks: Planning a trip right now is lots of fun

Lileks: Planning a trip right now is lots of fun

Are you planning a trip to the U.K.? Probably not. I mention the following only so you can tell yourself, "Well, thank heavens I'm staying…
Before noon, the streets were already packed as fairgoers took advantage of a perfect day of weather for the fair. ] First day of the Minnesota State

Lileks: New foods? Sure, but for the rest of the fair, we appreciate the old stuff

Anything less than 10 years old is considered recent.
Dwayne Johnson Disney

Lileks: Begone, stinky celeb news

Celebrity oversharing must cease.
The comic strip couple, Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead, have been newspaper fixtures since the 1930s.

Lileks: Why we still read – and need – Dagwood

If you want to alienate people, talk about religion or politics. If you want to have a nice conversation, talk about breakfast cereal and newspaper…
How to tell your dog you're going back to the office

How to tell your dog you're going back to the office

If you're concerned about how your pet will take it when you return to the office, talk to your pet. Here's a sample conversation.
Lileks: DirecTV was not AT&T but it was; also AT&T is now DirecTV

Lileks: DirecTV was not AT&T but it was; also AT&T is now DirecTV

Why you needn't bother switching streaming services.
Lileks: Recalling recalls

Lileks: Recalling recalls

What's next? Beer recalled for salmonella?
In which we make the watering rules even odder, or else more even.

Lileks: Even the sprinkling rules are odd

Here are the rules. They're simple — sort of.
The 701 Building in downtown Minneapolis is the work of famed architect Helmut Jahn.

Minneapolis' 701 Building has kept its slightly kooky, 1980s charm

A popped-collar building is tucked in Minneapolis' buttoned-down skyline.
Lileks: Is it ethical to force people to hear your music?

Lileks: Is it ethical to force people to hear your music?

OK, I need you to tell me if I was wrong.(Note: I was not. I have never been so right.)Last week we took a trip…
What have they done to denim?

Lileks: When your pants always fit, something's gotta be wrong

It's now possible to find pants that always fit. And offer no judgment.
“Tom & Jerry” played the ultimate cat-and-mouse game.

Lileks: Mouse-proofing, 'Tom & Jerry' style, without the hatpin in the rear

The dog's kibble has a nice palette, no doubt chosen to flatter the sensibilities of the human who buy it. Brown, beige, tan — those…
Nicollet Avenue and 4th Street 1960: Milner Hotel. Originally called the Mackey Legg Block, the building opened in 1885 and was demolished in 1960.

Skyscrapers rule downtowns, but we need smaller buildings, too

Two- and three-story buildings create character and a more human scale.
End road work....but when?

Lileks: When all the roads are finally finished

Highway construction will end someday. Really.
Lileks: Down with door-to-door dinner disturbers

Lileks: Down with door-to-door dinner disturbers

I should have a "no solicitors" sign, but one of my friends is a British lawyer, and I'd hate for him to drop by, see…
Read on for the latest scoop on ice cubes.

Lileks: Is your ice preference trendy enough?

What's the best ice?
LILEKS: Why real stores are better than online, pt. 2,239

LILEKS: Why real stores are better than online, pt. 2,239

I bought a new computer mouse the other day. Ruined it the same day. I blame the pandemic.Problem: My wife's mouse for her work laptop…
Let the chips be eaten while they may — they might be the dreaded “Limited Edition.”

Lileks: No, I will not fall for your seasonal limited edition potato chips

Lays giveth and Lays taketh away.
Centennial Plaza vintage postcard

A long-gone 1950s plaza in downtown Minneapolis boasted waterfalls and a visiting president

First, the space was turned into an ice rink, and then, in 1956, to celebrate Minneapolis' first 100 years, it was redone as Centennial Park.
At top, a pedestrian navigates a skyway Tuesday in downtown Minneapolis. Above, cars and people fill the streets near the Hennepin County Government C

What office workers can expect when they return to downtown Minneapolis

If you're heading back to your office in downtown Minneapolis, expect more than you hoped, less than you feared
Lileks: New TV tech lets you skip commercials? What a world!

Lileks: New TV tech lets you skip commercials? What a world!

It's always annoying to get ads on the streaming channels. Aren't I paying you for this already?You are, but not enough. You have the PEON…
Minneapolis Sunday Tribune

What Minneapolitans in the 1920s thought the Twin Cities would be like in 1980

Folks pictured helipads and the Borough of St. Paul.
Lileks: There's no gift as good as time

Lileks: There's no gift as good as time

A 1937 book helped kids celebrate their fathers.
Lileks: Can't grill without a password

Lileks: Can't grill without a password

Never tell a guy that you're in the market for a new grill, because he will tell you about his baby."I've got the Char-Beast 9000…
Lileks: Do masks protect against June bugs?

Lileks: Do masks protect against June bugs?

Two subjects can be cured with one solution.
Lileks: Buying pet insurance? Better hope there's no revolution

Lileks: Buying pet insurance? Better hope there's no revolution

Your dog is sick. It's heartbreaking. You think:"If only they could tell us what's wrong!" True, but if we're redesigning the whole dog experience, let's…
Lileks: Is there an Echo in here? Too bad

Lileks: Is there an Echo in here? Too bad

A new home network twist — and worry.
Target has suspended in-store sales of sports and Pokémon trading cards.

Lileks: Finally! They banned Pokémon cards

Clickbait intro: Target has pulled Pokémon cards from the shelves, and the reason might surprise you!You might think, "It's because Pokémon is over?" Hah. Pokémon…
Two “aliens” pose for a photograph in front of Imagine That Scrapbooks on Main Street in downtown Roswell, N.M., Friday, July 6, 2007, during the

Lileks: Are you alienated by the thought that UFOs are real?

Scoffers stick to the common responses.
The smell test for dog food is a different standard.

Dogs can now dine on everything from bison to turkey and blueberries; ours likes dry food just fine

Dog foods are now available in a dizzying array of raw, fresh, even subscription services. Our dog loves plain old kibble.
Really, only Farrah Fawcett transcended a ‘70s hair style.

Lileks: Back to the '70s? Ayyyy, sit on it

I cannot stress this enough: Everyone looked ridiculous, except for Farrah Fawcett.
Male (top) and female (bottom) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen through a microscope.

Lileks: Here come genetically modified mosquitoes

Science-modified mosquitoes? Hmm ...
Could Mini Donuts get more mini?

Lileks: An early fair? It's against the laws of nature

I want to go to the fair.I don't want to go to the fair."Fascinating," you say in a bored tone; "do let us know how…
Streetscapes

Starting as early as 1919, Minneapolis planners had big ideas for city

Since 1919, Minneapolis Planning Commission has looked to the future.
Three Bird scooters were on the sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis.

Lileks: It's OK to deploy and deplore the return of the scooters

Another back-to-normal moment — we can worry about scooters again.
Investigating a crime on Wikipedia could lead you down a rabbit hole.

Lileks: Wikipedia wants me to do what?

I use Wikipedia a lot, and now and then they ask me for money. Now and then I give them money."What?" you say. "You fool!…
Marnie the Dog attended Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” OrangeCon celebration in 2015 in New York.

Your dog might become internet-famous, with a bit of luck and crooked ears

Whether it's because of sweet behavior or a crooked smile, dogs can gain millions of followers.
What shape is your licorice supply?

Lileks: When is licorice not licorice?

It's not a medium. It's not a shape.
The TV remote is never where you want it.

Lileks: No one should ever lose the remote

It seems to be the purpose of the media these days to make you unhappy about living in an age of miracles, so let me…