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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Art, Literature, Fermentation: An Interview with Tara Whitsitt

“I’m excited for the food movement: It’s a really special time, seeing organic and local is trendy across an array of social groups and age levels. It’s been wild watching the hype grow as I’ve made my way around the country. Many of these individuals are not super informed on the reasons to choose organic and local–that, to me, is systematic change. You don’t need reasons to choose organic and local, you eat what tastes better.”

A Weekend and a Week: My Attempt at a Writing Retreat

All of this is to say what so many writers have already said: it’s hard to write a novel and act like a human being. You can’t have a foot in both worlds, half in and half out of your mind. So some writers go on a solo retreat, some writers drink, and some writers wake up to write while polite society is still sleeping—in any case, they find a marker, something that signals that they are no longer in the old world.

My Life Aquatic

They’re curious, the Ballard Locks. Here, Seattle’s main freshwater lakes, Lake Washington and Lake Union, mix and mingle with the salty inland sea of Puget Sound. The Ballard Locks connect the bodies. They are intricately engineered to move hulking commercial ships, tugs, and barges—as well as smaller pleasure crafts and kayaks, up and down a 26-foot elevation. But this infrastructure was also designed to prevent damage to the freshwater ecosystem and salmon. The locks are an important part of the region’s maritime history since 1916, and with more than a hundred thousand boats, over a million tons of transported cargo, and more than one million people visiting annually, the Ballard Locks are also an intricate mix and mingle of human life.

The Tel Aviv-Berlin Road

The year 2015 marks a half-century of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. It is a complicated relationship, to say the least. On the one hand, ties between these two countries are incredibly strong; as a recent article in Ha’aretz details, Germany has made key contributions to Israel’s economy, security, and diplomacy nearly since the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. And present day relations have little of the hand-wringing and public back-and-forth that marks, say, Israeli comments about Jewish life in France, or the regular Israel-bashing that is a feature of discourse in many European countries. On the other hand, it’s Israel and Germany. There will always be a lot to say.

A Brief History of Film Trailers, or: Turns Out This Post Is Not About Peter Orner

In this way, trailers are wonderful Schrodinger’s Catnip: the trailer is a box, the film is the cat inside, and seeing the film opens the box to discover that cat dead or alive, a tanking 0% on RottenTomatoes or a Critic’s Pick in the New York Times. Just watching that good trailer again and again, though, the cat always lives, the movie is irrelevant, and the experience of the trailer is a repeatable, elusively changing experience. This, I think, is comparable to the feeling I get when writing early drafts: everything is borderline incoherent, but still raw, there are images that gnarl their way to the foreground, and scenes are skeletal with key moments of dialogue belted out by a character you don’t really know yet. Maybe that’s why, on particularly dry writing days, I wind up rewatching some of my favorite trailers, triggering a kind of a Pavlovian response: Okay, Brain, get off your ass and start figuring out how we get from that image to that sound bite.