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Alone in Nairobi

Night can make you feel like a stranger, even when you’re home Last night, when the power had been out for twelve hours and the sun finally set and left me in the dark, and someone knocked on my door to hand me candles, and I lit the candles and sat on the bed and listened […]

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The Revenant Is a Movie About Man

THIS CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS. The Revenant takes place in Montana in the 1800s, but most of it could’ve happened any time since the last Ice Age, in any cold part of the earth. There’s the snow. The wind. The trees. The slow shaggy meaty animals and the quick fierce ones that bring them down. Men in heavy […]

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In Praise of Roleplay

All of us play characters. Some are truer than others. When’s the last time you threw on an outfit you’d never wear in regular life, looked into the mirror, and tried out some phrases… “You talkin’ to me?” …just to see how those words sound coming out of your mouth?

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9 Books to Read by Age 30

These are the books that defined my 20s. Read them to become a better writer—or a more interesting person. Each of these books will teach you new ways of thinking about things you’ll face — or are now facing — in your twenties. If you’ve already read some of them back in high school, read them again now that […]

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Here There Be Dianogas

Even in Star Wars, we need dark places on the map. One particular moment in the original Star Wars trilogy has always connected with me more than all others. It’s that moment in the first act of A New Hope when Luke walks out behind his aunt’s and uncle’s farmhouse and watches the twin suns setting over […]

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The Fascination of the Abomination

Why is the human mind so eager to explore the darkness? What do we hope to learn there? I. Paradoxes of the heart Have you ever watched a movie that was so scary you couldn’t look away? For as long as I can remember — and probably longer — I’ve been intrigued by monsters. At preschool age, I had what my […]

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All the Leaves Are Brown…

Death is the ultimate affirmation of life . People used to understand this. This time of year always gets me thinking about death. I mean death; not violence. The distinction is crucial. In fact, our culture’s fetishization of violence speaks volumes about the distance we’ve put between ourselves and death.

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Ancient Mesopotamians: The True Original Gangstas

The great crime bosses of the Iron Age I drove by the Assyrian carvings on the towers of Hollywood & Highland today, Louisiana rap music blasting from my speakers, and I felt a feeling that I’ve felt many times before, but one whose manifold nuances and raw emotional impact I’ve never been able to convey […]

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The Lure of the Abyss

What’s so fascinating about the dark? The word “abyss” may be one of the oldest words still in use. We can trace its roots with certainty back to the ancient Greek “abyssos,” and possibly back to the Sumerian “abzu,” which would make this word, at the very least, 6,000 years old. In all those millennia, its meaning […]

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