A Number of Reasons I’ve Been Depressed Lately

In this day and age, this is a pretty short list.

Published: Jun 5, 2017
Length: 9 minutes (2,313 words)

The Feminine Heroic

Megan Mayhew Bergman explores how women, often excluded from adventure narratives, carve out their own heroic space.

Published: Apr 11, 2017
Length: 6 minutes (1,735 words)

Like Art

Making art is hard. For some people, it isn’t hard deciding to make art for commercial purposes.

Published: Feb 27, 2017
Length: 9 minutes (2,310 words)

Protectors

Do you own your pet, or does your pet own you? This deceptively simple piece of short fiction explores fertility and fragility, and the ways we fail to protect those we love.

Published: Oct 1, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,709 words)

Collector’s Item: What was the Princess Diana Beanie Baby?

Planning to finance your retirement with your Beanie Baby collection? Think again.

Published: Oct 24, 2016
Length: 8 minutes (2,001 words)

The Craft of Poetry: A Semester with Allen Ginsberg

An intimate recollection of a Beat legend.

Published: Jun 1, 1995
Length: 62 minutes (15,685 words)

Islands in the Stream

The Bee Gees were pop music geniuses whose work in 1978 “accounted for 2 percent of the entire record industry’s profits.” Yet they were still underappreciated—and also still capable of making ill-conceived creative decisions.

Published: Jul 18, 2014
Length: 11 minutes (2,817 words)

Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119

From 1990: George Plimpton interviews the acclaimed poet, who died Wednesday at age 86:

When I finish maybe fifty pages and read them—fifty acceptable pages—it’s not too bad. I’ve had the same editor since 1967. Many times he has said to me over the years or asked me, Why would you use a semicolon instead of a colon? And many times over the years I have said to him things like: I will never speak to you again. Forever. Goodbye. That is it. Thank you very much. And I leave. Then I read the piece and I think of his suggestions. I send him a telegram that says, OK, so you’re right. So what? Don’t ever mention this to me again. If you do, I will never speak to you again. About two years ago I was visiting him and his wife in the Hamptons. I was at the end of a dining room table with a sit-down dinner of about fourteen people. Way at the end I said to someone, I sent him telegrams over the years. From the other end of the table he said, And I’ve kept every one! Brute! But the editing, one’s own editing, before the editor sees it, is the most important.

Published: May 28, 2014
Length: 26 minutes (6,569 words)

Matthew Weiner: The Art of Screenwriting

The Mad Men creator on his early inspiration and the making of Don Draper:

You know in Reds, when they’re interviewing the witnesses, and Henry Miller says, People today think they invented fucking? That kind of thing. The old people you’re looking at, they may have been more carnal than we are—drunker, less responsible, more violent. So many of those film noirs are about how soldiers reintegrate themselves into society. The private detective is haunted by the shadow of having killed people in the war. Don’t even get me started on The Best Years of Our Lives. The move to the suburbs, the privacy, the conservatism of the fifties—that’s all being driven by guys who, for two years, had not gone to the bathroom in privacy. I’m not the first TV person to be puzzled and fascinated by the fifties. The two biggest shows of the seventies are MASH and Happy Days. Obviously that moment is some sort of touchstone for culture. Is Hawkeye not related to Don Draper? He’s an alcoholic Boy Scout who behaves badly all the time. I just wanted to go back and look again.

Published: May 6, 2014
Length: 33 minutes (8,452 words)

Death of a Salesman

On the genius of Cal Worthington, the legendary Southern California car dealer and TV pitchman who died Sept. 8 at age 92:

“Worthington’s long-running series of self-produced spots never deviated from a formula. The slender cowboy—six foot four in beaver-skin Stetsons and a custom Nudie suit—always preceded his hyperactive sales pitch with a gambol through the lot of his Dodge dealership, accompanied by an escalating succession of exotic animals. Originally it was an ape, then a tiger, an elephant, a black bear, and, finally, Shamu, the killer whale from SeaWorld—each of which was invariably introduced as Cal’s dog, Spot. Not once did he appear with a canine. The banjo-propelled jingle (set to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”) exhorted listeners to ‘Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal,’ a catchphrase that became the basis for the most infamous mondegreen in Golden State history. To this day, Pussycow remains a nostalgic code word exchanged among Californians who came of age in the era before emissions standards.”

(via The Browser)

Author: Sam Sweet
Published: Oct 10, 2013
Length: 6 minutes (1,553 words)