The war isn’t over yet. If there ever was a war.

We fought our own way, with words not blood,

But silence brings the same death, and there is no further reason to reject

A common ending.

The Last Mermaids


We’d come to see the last of the Mermaids, called it a conservation trip but really we were just there to gawk. And point. Stand in the background of a CNN reporter’s camera and wave to our friends back home who had thought we were cruel to come so far just for a sideshow. Continue reading


Where the wind blew pine needles across the roof. Scritch, scritch.

I didn’t know it would be this long.

I never would’ve let the dog out.

Never would’ve kissed you under the wolf moon. They say it’s cursed. Now we know.

Scritch. Continue reading

Darling Sees the Wolf

[PS, this has been my first Daily Prompt ever, Flee!]

County Sheepshire lies between the wooded hollows in the Valley Without Name. Imagine a sleepy part of the country, spread with idyllic farms and jovial townspeople who’ll gladly take a traveler in, in exchange for a hard day’s work. Who raise barns overnight and drink warm cider, and whose most pressing concern is whether the weather will hold for the season. There, can you imagine it? Yes, just like that. A bucolic paradise. Well County Sheepshire is nothing like that. County Sheepshire is a fucking terror. Continue reading

Tribes: Note 6

6thstreet“Do you two know each other?” Isabel’s little coins jingled on her skirt.

Sylvia was convinced this must be a setup. She had stumbled through this new city for months without recognizing a single face, seeing a single individual more than once. But here he was, the Man on the Bridge. Noah, rather. Now he had a name. Continue reading

Tribes: Note 5

Those deepest things you might never tell to your best friend somehow always come out to the Thoughtful Stranger, poised entirely out of your own context. First impressions make first derisions, but not with the Thoughtful Stranger. Sylvia found herself telling the woman with the perfect eyeliner much more than she intended: the truth. Continue reading

Tribes: Note 3

bridge“Give yourself some time. You’ve been there a day. Jesus.” Of course Liam was right. He always tried so hard to be.

“I’m so bad at meeting people.” Sylvia thought it funny: she had no recollection of ever meeting him. Liam had always been.

Continue reading

Tribes: Note 2

pizzaIt had been at that greasy pizza place near Fort Lee, alight in fluorescent opulence, where she last saw Liam. Outside that pocket of majesty, the world was still and dark. Sylvia had sat alone, spinning strands of cheese around her fingers before biting the gobs off. Continue reading

Tribes: Note 1

queensboroThey call it a haunting when a spirit attaches to a place and won’t let go. Sometimes, they say, it happens with people, too. Ghosts cling to the living, meddling in those things they’re no longer able to control. Everywhere you go, they follow.

Continue reading

The Writer’s Toil

Years ago, I read this installment of one of my favorite series, The Atlantic‘s “By Heart,” in which authors discuss their favorite literary works and one-liners. At the time, I don’t think I fully understood the Camus line Faye Weldon quoted. I just wanted to read an interview with a successful author and television writer (an ambition of mine that has since evolved).

Continue reading

Film Review: Anomalisa (2015)

I’ve been reading a lot of rave reviews about the latest Charlie Kaufman flick, “Anomalisa” (2015) directed with Duke Johnson. As of writing, the film has a coveted 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Kaufman’s art is in capturing, particularly through his writing, the aesthetic of despair. In his films, characters fight the erasure of their memories, build hyper-controlled versions of their realities, struggle to see from others’ eyes — all to grasp at the threads of human connection that have always eluded them. They are heart-wrenching portraits expressed by numb and familiar protagonists.

“Anomalisa” captures some of the same despair at the mundane as Kaufman’s other work. For instance, the hotel which serves as the setting for most of the film is called The Fregoli, and most of the voice acting is performed by a single actor — affectively illustrating a particular paranoid delusion protagonist Michael Stone suffers from. But, I went to the theater looking for a spiritual successor to 2008’s “Synecdoche, New York” with its evolving circular heartache. And despite its brutal depictions, “Anomalisa” is not quite that film.

I could make excuses. “Anomalisa” was first a “sound play” written under a pseudonym (Kaufman’s been trying on a few other art forms since “Synecdoche”) and later became a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign. Sometimes in adaptation (no puns intended here), some part of the whole is inevitably lost. I haven’t seen/heard the play. I can’t attest to this. But there is missing at the heart of “Anomalisa” that fails to connect protagonist Michael Stone’s spiraling loneliness to a greater thematic idea.

Indeed, his paranoia was completely lost on some of the loudest moviegoers in my theater, who decided to proclaim “WELL HE’S JUST A NUT,” as soon as the credits rolled.

Meanwhile I stuffed the last of my popcorn down my throat and chewed slowly, saying nothing. Contemplating, because “Anomalisa” is a beautiful movie. Many have focused on its use of stop-motion puppetry, which was artfully done. The city was magically recreated in minuscule form. Because it allowed characters to take on literal other faces and voices, it was a stylistic choice that greatly added to the substance.

In fact, this is easily one of the better movies I saw in 2015. It still left me somewhat disappointed. It still made me wonder, after an incredibly slow first act, where the hell things were going. It’s still got me thinking two weeks later. And it’s still worth seeing, dear reader, if you haven’t yet.