The Truth Might Send You Into a Frightful Frenzy, and Maybe Into Sleep

What stories send you off to dreamland? One of the kindest, most generous people I know likes TV series about real-life murder mysteries, no matter how grisly. (Love that about her.) For me, stories about trains taking me to exotic locations in distant times, or fantasy tales, are just the thing.

When it comes to fantasy, one the great masters to whom I bow down is Neil Gaiman. I was among the legion of fantasy and horror geeks who have highly anticipated the debut of his “The Sandman” TV series — adapted from Gaiman’s comic books.

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A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, But I’m Seeing ‘Casablanca’ Through a More Truthful Lens

It took some vintage films to make me see how my mind has shifted — in ways that put the movies in a new perspective that isn’t entirely flattering. This came to me while watching Bette Davis claw her way to a richer life in “The Little Foxes.” And then I watched Ingrid Bergman trapped in a life-or-death love triangle in “Casablanca.

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Struggling With the Feeling of Failure, 10,000 Times Along the Way

If you’re anything like me, then you were utterly gobsmacked by the astounding images that NASA released this last week. They are “the deepest infrared view of our universe that has ever been taken,” according to NASA administrator Bill Nelson. The odds we’d even get to see those images was amazing: there were 344 possible points of failure along the way, NASA said.

Read More on Medium

How We Move Forward, After the Supreme Court Devastations

When I was very young, my older brother died of brain cancer. He was four years old. As you might imagine, this was a deeply shattering experience for my parents. My mother’s way of dealing with it was to repress her feelings under a big flat stone. She rarely mentioned what she and my father went through — all those repeated trips to the hospital, the crushing sense of failure.

Read More on Medium

From Sissy Spacek to Jean Smart: Delicious Roles for Older Women Multiply

Outstanding roles for older female actresses on TV have always been in short supply. In recent years, the business has tried to address the issue of racism and sexual misconduct. And older men have been around in shows for a long time. But as for a variety of shows with primary characters that authentically portray fascinating, mature women? Not a lot.

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The Essential Writers’ Tool: How to Build or Join a Feedback Group

Writing a piece of fiction can be like walking through a foreign land that seems endless, and occasionally filled with thorny brambles. Yes, you may have friends who will commiserate with your dilemmas, pour you some wine, or provide some good advice. But maybe the people you know just are not enough to get you where you need to go. Maybe you need to widen your circles, suck it up and meet some absolute strangers even if you’re an introvert — people who can guide you in new directions that you hadn’t considered before or hadn’t thought about strongly enough.

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Top 8 Things About a Friend With a Richly Lived Life

Her parents were part of the French Resistance. To evade Nazi detection, her mother hid tiny bits of paper with secret messages in the curly locks of her children’s hair.

A treasured friend of mine who lived in the United States for 45 years recently emigrated back to her native country, France. I’m coming to grips with the reality that our frequent visits are at an end. And I’ve written a list of things about her that I want to remember, always.

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Elon Musk and the Future

It was like a musket shot when Elon Musk pursued a deal to acquire Twitter. (And actually snagged a deal after this story originaly went to press.) But the most striking thing about it, for me, is his use of the word “freedom.”

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Red Beans and Rice: Memories of a Creole Love Affair

The cookbook lost its cover countless years ago. It’s spattered with roux (that baseline sauce of many a Creole recipe) and other unidentified marks from meals long gone by. The spiral binding has been a little derailed, but still holds the pages together. And part of the index was unintentionally ripped out of its original place somewhere along the way and is now a bookmark.

” is like a bible for some people utterly smitten with New Orleans cuisine. And its author sure has one snobby attitude. Leon E. Soniat Jr. prefaced his recipe for red beans and rice: “If you insist on cooking sausage with your red beans, try this recipe.”

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Fantastic Worlds Coming Our Way: How Metaverses Will Evolve

The cascading crises that the world is facing tear me in two directions. I pay attention to it in a pretty big way. But at the end of the day, escaping into far-flung fictional worlds is even more vital to my state of mind than before. If there were a bookstore version of a deli, where you could order novels instead of sandwiches, I’d be yelling: “Hold the futuristic disasters and smear on something fantastic.”

Read More on Medium

The Truth Might Send You Into a Frightful Frenzy, and Maybe Into Sleep

What stories send you off to dreamland? One of the kindest, most generous people I know likes TV series about real-life murder mysteries, no matter how grisly. (Love that about her.) For me, stories about trains taking me to exotic locations in distant times, or fantasy tales, are just the thing.

When it comes to fantasy, one the great masters to whom I bow down is Neil Gaiman. I was among the legion of fantasy and horror geeks who have highly anticipated the debut of his “The Sandman” TV series — adapted from Gaiman’s comic books.

Read More on Medium

A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, But I’m Seeing ‘Casablanca’ Through a More Truthful Lens

It took some vintage films to make me see how my mind has shifted — in ways that put the movies in a new perspective that isn’t entirely flattering. This came to me while watching Bette Davis claw her way to a richer life in “The Little Foxes.” And then I watched Ingrid Bergman trapped in a life-or-death love triangle in “Casablanca.

Read More on Medium

Struggling With the Feeling of Failure, 10,000 Times Along the Way

If you’re anything like me, then you were utterly gobsmacked by the astounding images that NASA released this last week. They are “the deepest infrared view of our universe that has ever been taken,” according to NASA administrator Bill Nelson. The odds we’d even get to see those images was amazing: there were 344 possible points of failure along the way, NASA said.

Read More on Medium

How We Move Forward, After the Supreme Court Devastations

When I was very young, my older brother died of brain cancer. He was four years old. As you might imagine, this was a deeply shattering experience for my parents. My mother’s way of dealing with it was to repress her feelings under a big flat stone. She rarely mentioned what she and my father went through — all those repeated trips to the hospital, the crushing sense of failure.

Read More on Medium

From Sissy Spacek to Jean Smart: Delicious Roles for Older Women Multiply

Outstanding roles for older female actresses on TV have always been in short supply. In recent years, the business has tried to address the issue of racism and sexual misconduct. And older men have been around in shows for a long time. But as for a variety of shows with primary characters that authentically portray fascinating, mature women? Not a lot.

Read More on Medium

The Essential Writers’ Tool: How to Build or Join a Feedback Group

Writing a piece of fiction can be like walking through a foreign land that seems endless, and occasionally filled with thorny brambles. Yes, you may have friends who will commiserate with your dilemmas, pour you some wine, or provide some good advice. But maybe the people you know just are not enough to get you where you need to go. Maybe you need to widen your circles, suck it up and meet some absolute strangers even if you’re an introvert — people who can guide you in new directions that you hadn’t considered before or hadn’t thought about strongly enough.

Read More on Medium

Top 8 Things About a Friend With a Richly Lived Life

Her parents were part of the French Resistance. To evade Nazi detection, her mother hid tiny bits of paper with secret messages in the curly locks of her children’s hair.

A treasured friend of mine who lived in the United States for 45 years recently emigrated back to her native country, France. I’m coming to grips with the reality that our frequent visits are at an end. And I’ve written a list of things about her that I want to remember, always.

Read More on Medium

Elon Musk and the Future

It was like a musket shot when Elon Musk pursued a deal to acquire Twitter. (And actually snagged a deal after this story originaly went to press.) But the most striking thing about it, for me, is his use of the word “freedom.”

Read More on Medium

Red Beans and Rice: Memories of a Creole Love Affair

The cookbook lost its cover countless years ago. It’s spattered with roux (that baseline sauce of many a Creole recipe) and other unidentified marks from meals long gone by. The spiral binding has been a little derailed, but still holds the pages together. And part of the index was unintentionally ripped out of its original place somewhere along the way and is now a bookmark.

” is like a bible for some people utterly smitten with New Orleans cuisine. And its author sure has one snobby attitude. Leon E. Soniat Jr. prefaced his recipe for red beans and rice: “If you insist on cooking sausage with your red beans, try this recipe.”

Read More on Medium

Fantastic Worlds Coming Our Way: How Metaverses Will Evolve

The cascading crises that the world is facing tear me in two directions. I pay attention to it in a pretty big way. But at the end of the day, escaping into far-flung fictional worlds is even more vital to my state of mind than before. If there were a bookstore version of a deli, where you could order novels instead of sandwiches, I’d be yelling: “Hold the futuristic disasters and smear on something fantastic.”

Read More on Medium

How Small Pebbles (And Paul Newman) Illuminate Gaps in My Heart

By Janet Stilson / July 6, 2021 /

It happened again – a trigger that jolts me into a memory when I least expect it. Last weekend, I watched an old Paul Newman movie, HARPER, with my friend Doris. Newman leads a cast that is pretty iconic: Shelley Winters, Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner – with a screenplayby William Goldman.…

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Miles Davis, Mysterious Birds and the Unstoppable Urge to Soar

By Janet Stilson / June 29, 2021 /

There’s a bird that sings outside my window almost every morning with the most haunting, flute-like melody. How can three notes, repeated over and over, be so captivating? Okay, I admit, Miles Davis’s tune “So What?” kind of made it clear that can be done in two notes – and it’s no wonder that Erykah…

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Ready, Set, Dive: Crossing a Mysteriously Thrilling New Ocean

By Janet Stilson / June 22, 2021 /

It’s an otherworldly experience, what happens to creative writers when they fall in love with bits and pieces of storylines and characters crowding their heads. They are teased by their own minds into discovering what’s there, summoning up old memories, old feelings and fantasies of bravery, evil machinations, breathtaking adventures – you get the picture.…

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Splendid Friendships, Transformed by Love and Loss

By Janet Stilson / June 8, 2021 /

If Alice of Wonderland ever grew up in the present day, she’d look like my friend Terri. I saw her for the first time in ages the weekend before last—she of the purple locks, John Fluevog fantasy-like footwear and a fairy tale dress that coordinated impeccably. At first blush, there’s no way to tell we’d…

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Book Review: Romantic Towns, a Stolen Rembrandt and a Deadly Dad

By Janet Stilson / June 1, 2021 /

If you’re looking for bookish relief from the problems that seem to surround us all these days, Dr. Stilson has a personal prescription: an un-put-down-able mystery novel, THE LAST PERDOUX, written by Larry Maness. Those of you who know my writing tendencies, and my novel THE JUICE in particular, may assume that this novel falls…

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A Few Skinny Seconds to Romance or Serenity

By Janet Stilson / May 25, 2021 /

I was standing before a Gustav Klimt painting when I felt him. A man I’d just met was right behind me. His hand had reached out, a half inch from my dark hair, searching for a connection and a true sense of me. Pretending not to notice, I gazed at the pale-skinned woman in the…

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Deeper Than Dreams, Or Don’t Listen to Your Mama

By Janet Stilson / May 18, 2021 /

When Wynton Marsalis was 17, he knew he had to leave home. His relationship with his mother was contentious. She didn’t want him to become a professional musician, and other people were urging him to find another path as well. Wynton asked his father, the great pianist Ellis Marsalis, for his opinion. “Do you love…

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Crashing Rain, Buried Truths and Growing Up

By Janet Stilson / May 4, 2021 /

On lazy summer days long ago, my mother, sister and I would tackle the attic, figuring out which of our possessions relegated to that deep memory space should be discarded or better organized. There were odd sticks of furniture, stacks of splashy picture magazines, my mother’s childhood ringlets in an old cigar box, and my…

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Disastrous Friends and Mesmerizing Sea Gods: A Book Review

By Janet Stilson / April 27, 2021 /

“A great main character is a character who’s fully committed to a terrible plan.” Marti Noxon, Writer, Showrunner Recently I listened to a podcast called THE SCREENWRITING LIFE that featured an interview with Marti Noxon. Her screenwriting credits include SHARP OBJECTS, FRIGHT NIGHT and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. When she talked about great main characters…

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What’d He Miss? Magical Thinking Along My New Path in Life

By Janet Stilson / April 13, 2021 /

It was dumbfounding. There I was, trying to plug a power cord into my MacBookPro. And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what slot to use. That happened a few days ago. Bear in mind, my laptop is like an extension of my body. There is an invisible umbilical cord between the machine…

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