Category Habitually Distracted

Checking in on Twin Peaks: The Return

A couple of months ago, I came before you, friends and readers, to herald the return of that nexus of alternate dimensions, spiritual possession, unexplained murders, damn fine coffee, and cherry pie that is Twin Peaks. Now, with thirteen episodes in the rear-view, I’m back to report on my findings. First things first: It’s been a confusing, funny, creepy, and weird ride. It’s been hypnotic, astounding, and occasionally even beautiful.

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“How Do You Know That?” and “Why Should I Care?”: Examining Assumptions and Other Acts of Self-Improvement

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a student thanking me for a fun and informative Spring semester. Feedback like this is always appreciated, especially after grades have been posted, but this contained an extra bit of encouragement. At the end of the message, the student wrote, “The two most important things I learned this semester: ‘How do you know this?’ and ‘Why should I care?’” What the

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What I Don’t Write (About): A Writing Mini-Manifesto from a “Southern” Writer

When I started writing fiction, I was told that, as a southerner, I’d been imbued with an appreciation for “my land” and “my people” and they therefore must be part of any story I set out to write. Imagine my confusion when I found that, despite reading vivid descriptions of endless varieties of red dirt, lengthy passages of agricultural history, and tedious accounts of hunting excursions and football injuries, I

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Gary’s Off-the-Map Movie Pick: Gentlemen Broncos

From Jared Hess, the mind that brought the universe Napoleon Dynamite, comes Gentlemen Broncos, a 2009 film about bad science fiction, intellectual property, independent filmmaking, blow darts, geodome living, and nightgowns. If you’re looking for something funny and a little unusual, this could be the one for you. The protagonist of Gentlemen Broncos, Benjamin, is a young science fiction writer seeking publication for his novel Yeast Lords (you read that correctly). He attends a writing conference

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Real Life Lessons: The Designated Doofus

The summer of 1984 was a fun time to be alive. Sure, we all thought the USSR was going to bomb the bejeezus out of us—and they were thinking the same thing about us—but movies like The Day After notwithstanding, there was more to life that year than the looming specter of World War III. During that summer, the music world saw the issue of Prince’s Purple Rain, Sammy Hagar’s VOA (it was no Standing Hampton,

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Going to Hell, One Chick Tract at a Time

Surely you remember Jack Chick, the comic book guy who took the world by storm in the seventies and eighties? The one who wrote tracts and books about religion, scared the hell out of little kids, and denigrated people from just about every demographic other than his own? I’m not sure what Jack’s demographic would be, actually: maybe kooky, mean, angry, hypertensive, fundamentalist dudes who can’t write a decent story

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