On Finding Your Voice

I have been thinking about Rebecca Curtis a lot lately. Specifically, I have been thinking about a short story she published in The New Yorker called “The Christmas Miracle” in December of last year. I really liked it. In fact, it may be one of the most entertaining and thoughtful short stories I’ve read in the past five years. To describe it is hard, because there are so many wonderful elements. A semi-employed nutritionist narrator tells her communist comrade K the story of a holiday…

From A Smartphone

I remember growing up, just when Seinfeld ended, seeing a magazine cover with Jerry lying in bed with a television, smoking a cigarette. The idea was ridiculous—we’re not sleeping with our sets, right? I laughed and mentally put it away. In the years since, our obsession with media has changed. Most people sleep next to if not with their iPhones. It’s not so funny anymore. I recently joined Instagram, which as far as I can tell is Facebook four years ago. In fact, they are…

Big Data, Small Voices

I don’t usually get this riled up over statistics. Yet, a recent post from Nate Silver’s new FiveThirtyEight blog predicting that Republicans are “slight favorites” has really bothered me. It’s not the research that’s flawed, it’s the reaction. As journalists take up Silver’s data, it begins to take on new, frightening proportions. The headlines quickly become Stats Guru Nate Silver Has Some Bad News for One Political Party in the 2014 Election (Policy Mic), “GOP Senate Takeover” (CBS News), and “Election analyst Nate Silver predicts GOP…

Ralph Fiennes hatching a cunning prison escape plot. Even the prison is well-appointed.

Quickie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 Note: This review contains serious spoilers. Read at your own risk. There’s a thrift store beauty to all of Wes Anderson’s films. His characters inhabit a tastefully chic world, almost a left-of-center Architectural Digest or a nice waiting room. Even the most squalid of scenes seem brought to us by Restoration Hardware. Unfortunately, this stylization often extends to Anderson’s characters, none more so than in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Instead of people with feelings and emotions and thoughts, they come across as very funny set…

Where to Find a Good Story

The other day I came across this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, written by Sean Hill, a former professor at a small public college in Indiana. After paying for an expensive education in creative writing, he chose a career in higher ed. Yet he found only part time work as an adjunct professor, where he was denied job security and even health care. I know adjuncts struggle, in every field, but especially the humanities. What interested me was Hill’s final assignment: Write an…

Here Is My New York

When E.B. White wrote Here Is New York in 1949, his seminal essay on life in the Big Apple, the city was undergoing a renaissance. The war was over, industry was solid, and soldiers were returning to build solid lives out of concrete and brick on the island and its environs. Factor in a cultural resurgence; whether art, painting, literature, or jazz, and one can understand White’s optimistic take on a city emergent. But since I moved to New York, I wonder if his dream…

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