“Antique Nightmares” in The Los Angeles Review of Books
In our smartphone century, life can feel like one long stream of videos and social media updates. Like many other radio drama fans, I took refuge in an antique storytelling medium enjoyed without the distractions of photographs, videos, or social media posts. Listening to a horror radio drama is the exact opposite of browsing your Facebook feed. Instead of an endless stream of content, you are forced to follow a single voice and a single story. The second you lose focus, the story collapses.
“The Resurrection of Mara Jade” at deviantART
Despite all of the excitement online about the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser released last month (47 million YouTube views and counting), thousands of fans were heartbroken at what they did not see in these new stories about a galaxy far, far away: Mara Jade and the rest of the Star Wars Expanded Universe … a mighty mythology that filled gaps in the Star Wars story for millions of fans like me—a huge bookshelf of novels, comics and fan art.
“Why We Need Delmore Schwartz Now More Than Ever” in The Los Angeles Review of Books
We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning,” Donald Trump crowed early in his campaign, stoking our election season obsession with success. But his quick fix promises cannot correct the economic harm caused by the 2008 financial crisis. No candidate could ever repair this damage quickly. We need to accept that bitter fact, rather than bury it underneath cartoonish campaign slogans.This is the perfect time to remember the work of Delmore Schwartz, a poet who graduated from college into the black heart of the Great Depression.
“Belabored Empires” in The Awl
“In the darkest days of the Great Depression, Heywood Broun, a sportswriter more famous for his gambling exploits during the Roaring Twenties and for sneaking shots of gin during meetings than his reportage, haphazardly transformed journalism with a newspaper column.”
“Hello Barbie’s War on Imagination” in Salon
“Digital toys threaten to destroy make-believe play traditionally shared between caregivers and kids. These artificial companions offer a seductive promise for adults: they handle all the hard work of talking, reading and playing with our kids. Parents must refuse to outsource imaginary play before these toys rule the market…”
“The DOJ E-Book Lawsuit: Is It 1934 All Over Again?” at NPR
Trapped inside Amazon’s low-price prison, publishers channeled MacGyver and cobbled together a temporary fix out of duct tape, a Swiss Army knife and Apple’s brand-new iPad. To everyone’s surprise this ramshackle solution survived two years — and changed the e-book landscape forever.
“The Military Toy Industrial Complex” in The Believer
G.I. Joe was one of the pioneering “program-length commercials.” By creating an entire television series around a product, these shows dodged FCC regulations that limited children’s advertising. Animated characters helped sell everything from gummi bear candies to He-Man dolls, but G.I. Joe drew more criticism for encouraging both consumerism and militarism. In 1982, Hasbro’s initial $4 million advertising push for G.I. Joe was the most money the company had ever spent on a single line, spawning a virtual military-toy-industrial complex. What did Dr. Mindbender teach us?
“What Writers Need To Know About Patreon” at GalleyCat
A number of authors have used the platform Patreon to raise support for ongoing projects. Patreon helps creators of everything from web videos to novels to comics raise a “sustainable income” for their work, building a community of fans who provide monthly support. To find out more about building a successful Patreon campaign, I caught up with Taryn Arnold, Patreon’s associate marketing manager.
“The People’s Card Game” in The Awl
These days, most Americans don’t even recognize the word “euchre,” but it has been kept alive by loyal bands of Midwestern card players who live in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, a geographical body dubbed the ‘Euchre Belt.’
“Publishing’s Sexiest Trend” at NPR
Fifty Shades of Grey emerged from the steamy land of fan fiction, an online community of readers who write unauthorized extensions of their favorite stories. On FanFiction.net, readers have produced a mind-boggling mountain of work: 583,000 free Harry Potter stories, 197,000 free Twilight stories and 46,000 free Lord of the Rings stories.
“Why Kids Need Truly Interactive Experiences” at Joan Ganz Cooney Center
‘Interactive’ is one of the most overused words in the 21st Century, a label attached to thousands of digital devices, apps and TV shows for kids. Interactive tablet apps will read a book to your kid and interactive cartoon characters will invite your kid to dance during a TV show The word “interactive” can make anything sound more educational. But what does it mean, really? Digital devices generally provide solitary experiences for kids, but these tools are marketed to parents as ‘interactive.’