Category: Popular Culture

The Time to Care About Disaster Victims

President Obama sent us an email a few days ago, and this time it wasn’t to ask for monetary support of his healthcare reform boondoggle. He was asking us (and the millions of others on his OFA database) to help Haitians. He wrote: “Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home,...

Planning for the New Year

Those of us who suffer from Horizon Sickness — always looking ahead to the next thing instead of being fully engaged with the present — tend to be excellent planners. We maintain detailed lists; we’re fantastically organized; our desks are neat. We foresee everything.  Sadly, after several decades of insisting otherwise, we must admit that...

Out of Step With the World

In the golden days of hardcore punk rock — yes, there was such a period; it ran roughly (very roughly) from 1979-1985 — a “movement” emerged called Straight Edge, which was an edgy way of saying Straight.  Straight as in, “I don’t do drugs or drink. I’m a thrash-metal-loving cutural outsider who doesn’t defile his...

Unfortunate Misapprehensions

With each day’s news comes further affirmation that it is entirely possible to be reasonably intelligent, highly educated, and specially trained while also being utterly ignorant of what’s commonly understood to be reality.  No, I’m not speaking of the funny folks with advanced degrees who denounce the Theory of Evolution in favor of loopy fairy...

Losing Weight: How I Did It

Folks who haven’t seen me for a long time have been looking at me quizically, slightly startled. One lady who previously had encountered my visage only on an old video archived on the Internet said when she met me, “I didn’t recognize you. I thought you were, you know, a big guy.”  At one point,...

On the State of Publishing

How bad is the publishing business? Not even best-selling authors with a consistent record of “earning out” advances (i.e., garnering more in wholesale sales than the amount paid in advance by the publisher) can count on seeing their most current manuscripts make it to print and occupying dear shelf space at Barnes & Noble.  I...

Jazz is Dead

If, like me, you listen frequently to jazz radio, often you hear DJs and other concerned constituents urging folks to “keep jazz alive,” as though it were an invalid on life support. Falling sales, vanishing broadcast formats, venue closures — they all suggest that America’s greatest contribution to the planetary arts is indeed on the...

What Would Happen If…

What would happen if everyone who owns American homes — urban, suburban, or otherwise — converted their lush lawns into vegetable gardens?  What would happen if every American family became a one-automobile unit and committed to using bicycles and public transportation except when carpooling? What would happen if the majority of Americans walked everywhere except...

The Fable of the Fable

There once lived a Regular Person with regular talents and regular desires, including the one that most regular people have: to be less regular and more extraordinary, to be more like an exalted Them and less like an unheralded Us.  So, despite her regular looks — some would unkindly say that she was not even...

All Atwitter

First MySpace, then Facebook, and now Twitter. The idea of simultaneously communicating with hundreds or thousands or millions of “friends” has gone from clunky functionality to improved efficiency to instant success, “connecting” people no matter their geographic or spiritual distance. Finally, after much fretting and fomenting, we’ve overcome our existential solitude. We are one.  That’s...