Holiday Drama Cometh

holiday ornaments

As the temperature cools and we jump in the last leaf pile, there is no denying it: the holidays are upon us. Even with my treasured family, the hectic pace of shopping, cooking, in-law scheduling, and guest-room cleaning makes the last few weeks of the year feel packed with high drama. Just when I’m ready […]

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What Were They Thinking?

What Were They Thinking

People are weird. We're such a strange combination of messy biology and competing motivations, sometimes we erupt into acts so odd it takes deep research to figure out what the heck we were thinking in the first place. The research, though, makes for good reading. In 1997 in British Columbia, a former logger cut down a […]

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What Looks Weird in an Ordinary Town….

Desert Town 1

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Craner have created a delightful science fiction/fantasy/mystery novel in Welcome to Night Vale. Based on a podcast of the same name, Welcome to Night Vale teams up a 19-year-old pawnbroker and a single mother to find the mother's son and the nature (and location) of King City. That the pawnbroker has been […]

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This Old Dog Brings New Life: November’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Black and grey senior dog paw bumps a grey senior cat lounging on wood floor, (photo shot from above)

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month to encourage would-be pet owners to think about rescuing a senior dog, cat or small animal. Studies show that one of the many health benefits of having a pet is they help lower your blood pressure and anxiety, so let an old dog, cat or small animal rescue you and bring new life to your […]

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Merchant Marine: “We Deliver the Goods”

Merchant Marine World War II recruitment poster: "You Bet I'm Going Back to Sea"

August 1942. The island of Malta, a strategic supply point for the Allied forces fighting in Italy and North Africa, was under siege by Axis forces. Malta was desperately running short of supplies and fuel, so Winston Churchill ordered Operation Pedestal, a convoy of 14 merchant ships escorted by aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers and heavy […]

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Get to Know the Playwrights of Goodman Theatre New Stages Festival

goodman sign at night

The Goodman Theatre 2015 New Stages Festival is underway. If you aren’t familiar with New Stages, it's like a workshop—but with way more bells and whistles. Several playwrights will have staged readings during the festival, and others even have the luxury of putting on “development productions,” including two weeks of rehearsal, budget and technical support from […]

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Lost Worlds

Lost Worlds

It's hard to keep track of the places lost to history. They've been wiped off the face of the Earth, absorbed into larger nations, ground down into nothing or sometimes just invented by our collective imagination. The struggle to preserve these worlds in our memory makes for compelling literature. Famed explorer Percy Fawcett disappeared into the Amazon in […]

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This Boy’s Life: 4 Books About Growing Up

Altar Boys 1

Poet and novelist James McManus has a new book of linked stories out, Education of A Poker Player. We follow Vince Killeen through adolescence as he grows away from his childhood desire to be a priest and thereby save his beloved grandmother from Purgatory. Nothing against his grandmother—girls and cards are just more fun. Set in Lisle […]

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6 Sources for Sleuthing Slippery Superstitions and Symbols

broken mirror, black cat

Why are we afraid of broken mirrors? Ancient taboos, fears about drowning, doppelgänger, demons, a tool of divination, the soul's prison? Trace the superstition back to myths of Narcissus, Echo, Hindu death spirits and the Slavic gypsy Fate goddess. Dig deep into the collective psyche. You may find a better history of a superstition in a comprehensive […]

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The Psychology of Fear: Why Do We Love to Scare Ourselves Silly?

creepy eyes peering through partially opened window

"Terror is a passion which always produces delight when it does not press too close." —Edmund Burke It seems counter-intuitive, but we go out of our way to scare ourselves by watching scary movies, riding roller coasters and jumping off of bridges WITH bungees, all within constraints of course. Arousal Dr. Margee Kerr has some […]

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