Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014
Should the fact of Laura Wilder's dated prejudices lead us to abandon Little House and its sequels?
Above: Garth Williams original illustration.

Laura Ingalls Wilder had a hard life. Her family was always moving, and they lived in fear of attacks. Bobcats were a threat. Mom and Dad had to build at least one house, from the ground up. Mom badly injured her foot when she dropped a log on it. In those days, people thought you had to put an injured foot in a certain kind of water—which was exactly the wrong kind of water for an injured foot. So Mama Ingalls’s foot swelled and began to resemble a turnip.


That’s not all. For example, Laura’s sister, Mary, lost her sight at an early age. And a major treat for Laura was a trip to a housing wares store—can you imagine? How boring! But, to Laura, who rarely had the opportunity to see anyone other than her nuclear family, a trip to a nails-and-plywood store was like a trip to Disney World.


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Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013
Royden Poole is having a very bad day. Strong armed into investigating a break-in, the theft of everything but a half million dollars in unmarked bills, two missing-persons cases and a shooting with no body, all he wants to do is go back to pretending to be dead.

“The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.” So wrote Anaïs Nin in her diary in the years directly after the great war.


Decades before the internet and its myriad entertainment traps, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media platforms which have come to crowd out and clog our email in-boxes, creating their own two dimensional universes on the basis of binary code; so too go our thoughts. Paired down to 140 characters, a soundbite, or a catchphrase it becomes increasingly difficult for the old long form, the indepth and subjective rationalization of subject matter, to compete with the fizz and pop of trending tastes. Social media has become a world within our world, and Nin’s prophetic sentiment remains valid, perhaps moreso than when she penned it.


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Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013
This is intended to appeal to Beatle fanatics, though it offers little in the way of new insights, facts, and stories.

To my mind, there are two main categories of Beatle fans. There are the certified fanatics; those fans who can tell you exactly when and where John and Paul first met, Ringo’s mother’s maiden name, and can recite every lyric on every album verbatim. Then there are the more casual fans; people who regularly listen to Abbey Road, and who may have even seen Paul in concert, but have neither the time nor the inclination to join the ranks of the obsessed fanatics with an appetite for the most obscure of Beatles trivia.


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Friday, Jul 19, 2013
Conversations With Myself is a collage of important moments that provide an intensely realistic portrayal of an amazing man.

In view of his recent health problems, I was drawn once again to the wonder that is the story of Nelson Mandela’s life, but instead of reading his autobiography I decided on a new release that is perhaps even more personal. Consciously titled Conversations With Myself, is a book made solely of Mandela’s letters and recordings. Reading it feels a bit like spying on someone’s private diary, full of moments that differ on importance but end up providing a truthful portrait of a man who refuses to be viewed as a legend.


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Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013
Why would as popular an author as J.K. Rowling feel the need or desire to publish under a different name?

Everybody’s got a novel or screenplay or sheaf of poems stuck in their desk drawer or hard drive somewhere; and if not, they’ve got it all written out in their head. Many things keep those works from ever seeing the light of day, most particularly publisher or agent indifference, and sometimes reluctance to part with the work until it’s in perfect shape.


Bestselling authors don’t have that problem. If you’re the New York Times bestseller-list haunters like Stephen King or Malcolm Gladwell, one imagines that with few exceptions you could find a house to publish anything you damn well please. If Tom Clancy wanted to write a book of children’s verse, eventually he’d find somebody to put that one out, likely with a big bold “From the author of The Hunt for Red October” slug on the front cover, just above the watercolor picture of a kitten and puppy frolicking together.


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