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FEATURED COLUMNS

humblebrag
yeah, you do it too
by joe procopio (@jproco)
topic: pop culture
6.1.11 • CLASSIC

When you waste as much time as I do staying on top of social and popular culture, there are certain trends you can't ignore, even if they do kind of stab you in the eye once in a while. For example, I recently discovered, through the painful task of reviewing the long public history of my own writing, that I was one of the first to start using the now pedestrian "Did that just happen?" (1995) and "I know. Right?" (2005). This culminated recently in the totally immature prospect of sneaking in

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the most important resolution for writers
one simple sentence for 2012
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)
topic: writing
1.4.12 • CLASSIC

We writers are, perhaps, even more susceptible to the idea of New Year's Resolutions than regular people. After all, we're always setting goals, aren't we? Always trying to improve? And that's what resolutions are about. Setting a goal or making a plan, swearing to do better at something we'd always hoped to be better at, or to stop doing something we shouldn't.

But these goals have a dark side. We sometimes beat ourselves up needlessly for failing to meet a target that was arbitrary -- possibly meaningless -- in the first place. Or, we move heaven and earth to meet that target and we "succeed", only to find it doesn't actually make us better writers or produce great writing.

So what's a resolution-loving writer to do? Stop resolving? Hardly.

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how to lose a girl in one date
what do star wars, b.f. skinner, and paypal have in common?
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)
topic: humor
3.9.11 • CLASSIC

Recently, there was a bit of a clamor on the Internet regarding an article published by TV writer Tracy McMillan on the Huffington Post Web site titled "Why You're Not Married." In it, McMillan lays out what I assume she considered a no-holds-barred list of reasons why women in their mid-30s who want to get married aren't yet. It was definitely controversial, and, as of this writing, there were 2,144 comments on the Huffington site regarding the article, plus countless others on Facebook (my own

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william wants a doll
how does a feminist mom raise her son to be the same?
by michelle von euw
topic: general
12.10.10 • CLASSIC

As I turned the corner in the upscale independent toy store full of handcrafted puzzles and games well beyond my price range, an item caught my attention. It was an adorable baby doll sitting high up on the shelf, nestled in a box that touted lifelike toes and a removable diaper. The doll, dressed in a blue striped onesie with only a patch of light brown hair on a pale pink head, reminded me immediately of my son. Certainly, the pacifier attached to the baby doll’s mouth by a magnet mirrored

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bleat the parents
judgment fray
by mike julianelle
topic: humor
12.22.10 • CLASSIC

We’ve known each other a while now. We don’t always see eye to eye, but despite our differences, I think we can all agree on two things: 1 – I’m a pretty amazing person, all around. 2 – I can’t remember the second thing. My actions, behavior, personality and general comportment on a daily basis are completely and 100% irreproachable. As such, there’s no reason to bother judging me; there’s nothing to judge. Besides, you don’t see me judging you, do you? Sure, most of you like terrible music

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i see you, but it doesn't matter anymore
the rise and fall of music videos
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)
topic: music
6.27.12 • CLASSIC

Recently on a Saturday morning, I spent a couple of rare hours doing nothing but watching music videos on satellite television. As a child influenced by the 1980's MTV juggernaut, this is the adult equivalent to zoning out over cartoons.

I slipped into a programming cycle that let me see highlights from:

*80 and 90s pop/rock: ("Keep it Dark"–Genesis; "Never Tear Us Apart"–INXS; "Dear God"–XTC; "Smells Like Teen Spirit"–Nirvana)

*current country: ("Good Girl"–Carrie Underwood; "Banjo"–Rascal Flatts; "Pontoon"–Little Big Town")

*and current pop/R&B: ("The One That Got Away"–Katy Perry; "That Girl Right There"–Usher; "Titanium"-David Guetta featuring Sia)


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they shoot with film, don't they?
some thoughts on the film .vs digital civil war
by jason gilmore (@JasonGilmore77)
topic: film
6.6.12 • CLASSIC

Times are changing fast, with technology transforming all we see around us. Those of us alive long enough to remember cassette tapes, encyclopedias and phones that couldn't do everything for us, are often forced to adapt or be left behind. In the film and photography worlds, a civil war has emerged over the last decade or so, between those who prefer shooting film or digital, a civil war that would've been unthinkable in the past.

I remember film school like yesterday. There was an immediacy to shooting on film that made me realize how essential preparation was. When I had to pay out of my own, broke, out-of-state pockets to purchase 8mm film, and mail it to a lab in Boston where it would be developed, and, hopefully, returned, I learned quickly that I needed to know what I was doing when I filmed.

We used light meters but that didn't mean it wouldn't return under lit. I had 20/20 vision, but that didn't mean shots may not have returned out of focus. I remember sitting in dark editing rooms at the renowned Pittsburgh Filmmakers facility, splicing the tiny film with an Exacto knife and taping it back to the preferred next shot. Film editing, they called it. I have only seen my film school shorts once since I graduated in 1998. They are not good, but I can't imagine my future films without them. Shooting with film the way we did was the most difficult thing I can imagine. And that's exactly why it was essential.

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picking a spouse
three steps to avoiding divorce
by jeffrey d. walker
topic: writing
9.15.10 • CLASSIC

I am now five years and a few months married. And I was pretty deliberate about deciding whom I would settle down with. I lived with Amanda for about four years before we got married, which followed a practice of living with every girl I seriously dated, and not counting ladies who never made it to live-in girlfriend status. There were quite a few. I was even more deliberate before writing this piece on marriage, which, incidentally, was something the wife wanted me to write after like two mo

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customer service and social media
how @boingo did it right
by maigen thomas (@Maigen)
topic: general
12.21.11 • CLASSIC

Customer service (or the lack of it) makes us all angry at some point or another. Social media makes it easier then ever before to have your voice heard, but how many companies are using social media to really interact with their customers?

I've been angry for a while now. Not a Super Pissed Off and Going To Shout About It kind of angry. Just a slow simmering crankiness that peaks once a month and then returns to being out of sight and (mostly) out of mind.

Since I'm a high-time flight attendant, I'm always on the go, rarely in one place for more than a day and constantly swiping my debit card for innumerable small charges (a coffee here. A hotel charge there. A quick bite to eat. Oh! A pretty scarf!). Instead of relying on a bank statement that only shows up once a month, I check my bank account once a day - sometimes more. There's a constantly updated ledger of checks and balances in my head, and if anything goes wrong it's usually my fault. I don't have credit cards, so if I spend more than I can afford, well, I'm eating Ramen noodles and peanuts on the plane until my next paycheck.

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has top chef jumped the shark?
not yet, but it needs a project runway makeover.
by alex b (@Lexistential)
topic: television
9.24.10 • CLASSIC

At last, it's over. I usually apply this lackluster sentiment to intimate encounters gone wrong and uninteresting, eye-glazing conversations, but sadly, it's relevant in the case of my favorite cooking competition. This season of "Top Chef: DC" is over, and it's a relief. Mind you, I'm not giving up on the show. Given that it's injected my life with an extra level of foodie happiness I didn't think was possible with my pork-reverent life, I don't want to stop watching chefs overstress the Qu

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the power to decide
why it’s necessary for women to control their birth control
by sarah ficke (@DameMystery)
topic: news
3.7.12 • CLASSIC

When Sandra Fluke stood up to testify in front of Congress on February 23rd about the importance of accessible birth control for all women, she probably didn’t expect to be called a prostitute. Women probably didn’t think that, in March of 2012, we’d be defending our right to use a medicine that was approved for sale 52 years ago. And yet, here we are again having to convince people – primarily men – that women do have the right to have sex without pregnancy.

We live in a time when men are lowering or erasing the barriers that allow them to get women pregnant (see: insurance-subsidized Viagra), while making it harder and harder for women to prevent conception. While the issue is birth control, no-one is really talking about condoms in this case. Condoms are available on supermarket shelves, they cost less to buy, and they are known to prevent STIs – a definite medical benefit. They also require the consent of a man. The real subject of the conversation is the pill: the birth control method that women control and that women can practice with or without a man’s knowledge or consent.* The question then becomes not just should women use contraception, but should women be allowed to choose contraception on their own? There are many excellent reasons why the answer is – and should always be – yes.

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a guide to guide books
on writing episodical non-fiction
by erik lars myers (@TopFermented)
topic: writing
9.21.11 • CLASSIC

Funny story. When I got this contract to write a book about North Carolina Beer and Breweries I foolishly thought that it would be a relatively easy assignment. I mean, you're talking a couple of 6x9 pages per brewery, including photos and a profile. What's that, like... 1,000 words per brewery? 1,500? How hard could that be? I can probably bang through that in a weekend.

I mean, how hard can it be to gather a little bit of fact about each place and summarize it?

It turns out this is hard work.

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socialgeist
slimed by digital ectoplasm
by jeff miller (@jmillerboston)
topic: pop culture
3.14.12 • CLASSIC

Man, I've worked with some really fantastic people. People I'm proud to call friends 20 years later; folks I hope to know for many years to come. Others, despite our natural chemistry and the sharing of a thousand pizzas and coffees and cigarettes (I've since quit), I keep only in my memory, for whatever inexplicable reasons people have for maintaining distance in the face of friendship.

But then sometimes – and it's a fortunate rarity – there are people I just want to forget completely. Inevitable adversaries that've had such an ill effect on my psyche, I not only want them out of my life, I want any residual smears of negative energy they’ve left in my airspace GONE. FOREVER. The idea that they might irrevocably occupy some part of my brain is not only depressing, it’s offensive. All I want is for their memory to just...peter away, down the drain of my subconscious, and with any luck...poof! Gone.

“TOO BAD!” say Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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RECENT COMMENTS

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I am not going to read it this time. I do and I just cannot pull myself together to comment. It is a beautiful tribute. I am very glad that you wro...

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