Internet Connected Toys
February 23, 2016
Before the holidays, I wrote an essay about Hello Barbie and Internet-connected toys for Salon.
Check it out:
“My stomach hurts when I think about some computer-stuffed doll replacing my role in her imaginary games. Every morning, I follow in my daughter’s wake during these epic play sessions, carried back to the imaginary places I used to visit as a kid.
“But these toys are truly the future. Toy and app makers have created thousands of digital doodads to replace imaginary friends and real-life play with parents. From virtual reality goggles to talking dolls to solitary apps, digital toys threaten to destroy make-believe play traditionally shared between caregivers and kids.
Photo via photosteve101
Sad Men Podcast: James Agee & Johanna Skibsrud
November 29, 2015
I just released a new episode of the Sad Men Podcast. This edition explores LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN, a Depression-era book by the great James Agee.
Giller Prize-winning author Johanna Skibsrud joins us for the podcast, explaining how Agee’s work influenced her novel, QUARTET FOR THE END OF TIME.
I created this podcast, telling the stories of how a generation of men and women writers survived the Great Depression. You can download the podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.
The Spirit of 1934
November 10, 2015
I just published “Belabored Empires” in The Awl, an essay about how a ragtag group of journalists built the newspaper unions that still stand today.
Here’s an excerpt: “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.”
These stories matter now more than ever as digital reporters around the country unionize.
Sad Men Podcast
November 6, 2015
I’ve started a new podcast project, telling the stories of how a generation of men and women writers survived the Great Depression.
You can find the Sad Men Podcast for free at iTunes and at SoundCloud.
My first episode ponders the bloody legacy of the great horror radio writer, Arch Oboler.
It is a companion piece to my Los Angeles Review of Books essay about the history of scary radio and podcasts.
Star Wars Wars
May 23, 2015
After visiting the Star Wars Celebration convention with my daughter, I wrote an essay for deviantART about the hundreds of stories lost when Disney decided not to include the Expanded Universe in the upcoming films.
Thousands of fans were hurt by the revelation, and I interviewed a few Expanded Universe fans to find out how they felt about the change. The Expanded Universe is “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.”
Here’s more: “In fact, Disney nearly destroyed this imaginary universe in a single press release. The Expanded Universe characters were exiled in a single sentence: In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.”