stacks of newspapers folded and bound with twine
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The news has been full of big things this week. Afghanistan, the Delta Variant, Haiti. There’s this strange thing that happens with news, where we hear it or we read one piece of coverage and we fell like we know everything there is to know. This is becomes news coverage is a story, and stories by nature are something that feel whole and complete.

It is an old talking point that the news is biased and we chose which outlets give us news based on our ideologies. But I wonder if this thinking about bias limits our understanding of just…

The Disney Canon

This summer I have watched 26 of the 59 Disney Animation feature films. Some of them for the very first time. (Princess and the Frog was delightful, who knew?) I don’t adore Disney, but I find it an interesting cultural touchstone because it has lasted so long and evolved so often. Watching so many so close together is an entirely different experience than watching one every so often. Stories begin to emerge beyond the individual films.

One story I’ve indulged in is the evolution of animation and the expectations for what an animated film can be. The…

image of a concert with stage lights in background and crowd with hands lifted in silloutette foreground.
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Last week, I wrote about how I’m trying to give myself new associations for childhood music that I love but that is tainted by association with my old faith. This journey has led me into lots of strange realizations about how my memory works with music. Last week, it was the inconsistency of memory and how scenes or times in my life are tied directly to music. This week, it is the secret archive of knowledge that I don’t know I have until it just appears.

For instance, if you’d asked me last month, I would’ve said I don’t know…

child listening to music through headphones with eyes closed
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Here is a familiar scene: your spouse, child, parent says something like, “Remember? We just did that last week.” And you search your mind and adamantly argue the thing in question did not happen last week. Neither of you are wrong, but somehow, due to the vast mysteries of the universe encompassed in the human brain, you remember last week differently.

For many people, music becomes part of memory. You listen to a particular song and it comes with a temporal frame, a moment, a scene from the past. Recently I’ve been exploring childhood memories through music because I’m preparing…

image of piano sheet music

The biggest difference between a symphony and a film score is that the symphony was created to stand on its own, to be the focal point of our attention. In comparison, a film score is meant to blend into the background of our attention adding to the emotional experience of the film without distracting from the story.

But film scores are unique an stimulating works of art that can be appreciated both as part of a film and on their own as a listening experience. …

book cover of Jane of Battery Park. Orange and red tones show park benches and lamp posts in background with swirling glossy film strip in foreground

Sources of inspiration for a writer are as vast as they are mysterious. I’ve been writing for decades, yet the things that spark an idea continue to surprise me. I tend to think that they come from actively expanding the boundaries of knowledge, but sometimes I write from places of old knowledge. When this happens, it is most often an accident.

When I started writing my debut novel, Jane of Battery Park, I did not plan for it to be about music. I was writing about a culture gap, which also tends to be a gap in world views/belief systems…

Action shot of figure skater Alexie Yagudin during his Man in the Iron Mask 2002 Olympic long program

When I was twelve

In my newsletter this month, one of the things I’m thinking about is the fact that the music I go back to over and over (my favorites) have been my favorites since pre-adolescence. I’ve changed quite a lot as a person since I was twelve, so this was something of a realization. It concerned me. I feel I have very little in common with my younger self in the ways that are important. So, what does it mean that as I’ve aged, my music taste has remained mostly the same?

I am a film score person…

Last week I went to Disneyworld by myself for fun. It was a strange, extremely impulsive and extravagant decision. I made it with two days notice, not stopping to doubt, not even asking myself why, now that it was finally safe to travel, was this the place I wanted to go?

Something I didn’t really understand until I was on my flight home already regretting I hadn’t found a way to make the trip longer. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t miss home. I hadn’t worn myself out as I expected. …

mostly sunken row boat in an algae-covered pond.
Emily MacDonald from Pexels

Have you bought new clothes this month? I have. In fact, the pandemic gave me far too many reasons to sit online and buy clothes that I’m just now having occasions to wear. My wardrobe is one of the big areas of my life that I don’t do great thinking about sustainability and climate change. I’ve eliminated plastic grocery bags and plastic packages, beauty and cleaning products. I’ve moved away from chemicals in my yard, on my walls, and my furniture. I compost. But green/sustainable fashion eludes me. I think some of this has to do with the fact that…

Hand reaches towards a green tinted light in an industrial, high tech background
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2050 is the red letter year for thinking about our future, particularly climate change. Scientists have marked this as the time when, if we don’t make drastic changes, things will start to go horribly wrong. (Here is a book review to a great book that gives you the basics if this is a new idea for you.) I’ve read several books that discuss 2050 and I always have trouble getting my head around it. So this week, I sat down and tried to figure out what exactly 2050 means in terms of time.

Its hard for humans to appreciate a…

Jaye Viner

Jaye Viner knows just enough about everything to embarrass herself at parties she never attends. Her novel, Jane of Battery Park, arrives in August

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