The one where we retain our sanity in a stupid world

Photo by J. Delvalle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

I want to discuss a popular TV show my wife and I have been binge-watching on Netflix. It’s the story of a family man, a man of science, a genius who fell in with the wrong crowd. He slowly descends into madness and desperation, led by his own egotism. With one mishap after another, he becomes a monster. I’m talking, of course, about Friends and its tragic hero, Ross Geller.

You may see it as a comedy, but I cannot laugh with you. To me, Friends signals a harsh embrace of anti-intellectualism in America, where a gifted and intelligent man…


BOOK EXCERPT

“I make space for a few miracles. And maybe you’re one of them?”

The following is an excerpt from my novella, A Slow Parade in Penderyn: Book One of the Dryad’s Crown. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Piper was up later than usual, but she refused to go to bed until Timon told her a story. The priest sat on a cushion next to her cot and took a deep breath, which was his way of saying, “You win.”

“One day unlike any other, an old Penderyn farmer fished along the coast. Every morning, before the sun rose, he would walk from his shack to the beach, and cast his…


BOOK EXCERPT

Public Relations at the End of the World

The following is an excerpt from my novel, Wear Chainmail to the Apocalypse (Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3). In this chapter, I explore a trope of the apocalyptic genre: The living are confined, while the infected roam free. How does our fearful narrator maintain his sanity? He discovers a few good books, of course.

My job consisted of clicking a wireless plastic mouse. I rested my hand on top, pressed down gently and then released. I moved the mouse around on the pad, stopped, then clicked again — a double click now, two clicks in rapid succession. It…


SHORT FICTION

Eileen always thought the rats would eat the cockroaches — or that the presence of cockroaches would indicate an absence of rats. Imagine her displeasure when both proliferated and partnered together. During the year she lived with Chad, the cockroaches appeared on the walls, the floor and the ceiling. Eileen used Glamour with Reese Witherspoon on the cover. The Happy Issue. She rolled the magazine into a baton. An optimistic headline faced outward: “301 things to put you in a good mood fast.” 1… 2… 3… she crushed three cockroaches that evening. …


photo from Facebook, Texas Academy of Figurative Art

ARTS & CULTURE

by April Hopkins

I read an Instagram post of someone who not-so-subtly declared an end in sight for the conceptual and abstract expressionist art movements — that have dominated our society for the past 100 years — and proclaimed a return to more classical styles. Another Renaissance, if you will. I’m not sure if we are in the Dark Ages of art, but I will say I am thrilled to see an interest in representational (realistic) art being rekindled.

When I was younger, I felt a bit lost as an artist. I was drawn to a slower-paced approach to art, one that is…


THOUGHTFUL PARENTING

8 Rules for Kids with Cellphones

Once my daughter Kennedy was old enough to stay home alone, the question of getting her a cellphone also came up. Suddenly, I was thrown into unfamiliar territory. Parenting is a challenge when the problem takes on weighty, almost absurd levels of symbolic meaning. And in today’s world, few things carry more power than the glowing screen of a phone — destroyer of innocence, bane of ambition and the ruin of many a teenager.

Despite the available parental control apps and some common sense (she doesn’t have access to any passwords), there is no question she has greater access to…


CIVILIZED GAMING

The Most Important Thing a DM Can Do At the Beginning of Any Game

A few weeks ago, I attended Origins Game Fair with three of my closest friends. (Full disclosure: All of us are fairly experienced DMs. Thus, we have a lot of opinions on Dungeons & Dragons. I consider myself a writer — first and foremost — and view any DMing as an extension of my desire to scratch that storytelling itch. But that’s a blog post for another time.) During our week at Origins, I played six sessions of D&D. The first night, Amy Lynn Dzura ran an adventure for us, which she had written. It was our best game experience…


IN MEMORIAM

Tammi True was crass and irreverent, and I will miss her terribly.

Sometimes, you work on a story, and it gets much larger than you ever anticipated. In 2010, I pitched the idea for an article on the re-emerging burlesque scene in Dallas. My editor Tim liked it, and thus I began work on my first feature for D Magazine. I initially requested that the article be 3,000 words long. Tim asked for 2,000 words. I gave him 2,755 words. I had dinner with and interviewed numerous burlesque dancers. (Journalism is amazing!)

I got the phone number for Nancy Myers — who went by the stage name Tammi True. She had done…


FIGHTING FAIR

Talking to Students About Abortion, Weed, and Dress Code

As a former school teacher, I’ve thought a lot about how we think through the tough issues. For several years, I assigned a “social issues” essay to my students. And I always began this assignment the same way, by saying, “Students, you should know that good and intelligent people will disagree on difficult issues.” I wanted my students to consider that people with a differing opinion aren’t necessarily evil or stupid, and their reasoning may be perfectly valid.

Little did I know how difficult this assignment would be.

We’d spend the entire class listing controversial issues on the board. I’d…


ANOTHER LIFE HACK ARTICLE

Simple Habits to Help You Tackle Your To-Do List

The holidays are a busy time. No one disagrees on that point. Even if you plan to keep things simple this time of year, the end-of-year obligations and deadlines can stress out anyone. And yet, even though we all have 24 hours in a day, some people just seem to be better at managing their time and getting things checked off their to-do list.

What’s the secret? Here are some tips that even the busiest, most disorganized person can put into practice.

1. Make a list.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you don’t have an accurate picture of what…

David Hopkins

Writer of many things. Sign up for my newsletter and receive sneak peeks, fiction freebies, writing tips, and creative insights. https://thatdavidhopkins.com

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