Book I’d Like to Write: “Our Lives in the Shadows”

Elevator pitch

“It’s The Breakfast Club meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Plot

Sleepy town in semi-rural America. Small public high school, too small for any actual cliques to form. Some kids are more popular than others. Every one of them is an individual with goals, hobbies, and a detailed personal life, though they are not, on the whole, especially introspective or knowledge-seeking.

In addition, each member of the senior class spends much of their time fighting the forces of darkness.

  • A shy boy with controlling parents is also a sorcerer who deals with eldritch monstrosities whenever they rise from the town’s lake in the dead of night.
  • One of the school’s three cheerleaders woke up one day with impeccable hand-to-hand combat skills, which is good, because that was the same day the ninjas started showing up.
  • An aloof contender for the state tennis championship duels featureless, humanoid ghouls armed with a steak knife and a can of pepper spray.

And seventeen other stories, besides.

None of these characters has any inkling of the others’ struggles; teenagers are very good at hiding their secret lives from others. But one day, all the hidden stories intersect, and the senior class will have to band together if they want to save their town…

…and the world? No, probably not the world. The world is a big place, with millions of hidden stories. But one town is enough.

This might be a metaphor for the fact that everyone has a unique set of problems and we shouldn’t judge from outward appearances, but it’s mostly a way for me to deal with real high school social dynamics (few books do this well) and also write lots of supernatural fight scenes.

Recent Work: Fall/Winter 2013

September

Unschooled: CT’s Most Radical Homeschoolers (in the cool surfer sense of “radical”)

Review: Janelle Monae, Electric Lady (the album was good, this review isn’t)

Interview: Chris Stedman, author of Faithiest (part of the launch of the Yale Humanist Community; I’m on the board of directors)

Making Believe: Religious Conversion at Yale University (includes this companion post)

“Witt’s religious awakening was outside my realm of understanding. I wondered if it was really a coincidence that her new relationship with Jesus began at a retreat where she’d begun new relationships with a few dozen Christian friends. Why would God wait to find her on a dock in the woods when she’d been going to church her entire life?”

October

Yale University Commencement Address, May 2014 (Yale jokes)

“As I look upon this crowd—with your narrow shoulders, your pimply foreheads, your dumb, bovine gazes—I almost pity you. You must have been overwhelmed when Yale opened its gates to you, for some inexplicable reason. Perhaps you were Australian, or a mediocre synchronized swimmer. Perhaps your mother was an especially talented applications-essayist.”

Levels of Hell Left Out of Dante’s Inferno

Indiana Jones and Printing at Bass Library (Yale jokes)

A Playlist for Your Worst Moments (Yale jokes, pop music, fourth essay down)

“Heaven has a plan for you, and the plan is that you will grow old and die, like everyone else.”

November

Long Day’s Journey Into Cambridge (Yale jokes) (alternate universes)

Profile of a Coffee-Shop Owner Who Bans the Internet

December

Gourmet Heaven, Wage Theft, and the Convenience of Indecision (warning: angst)

Long Day’s Journey Into Cambridge

(A short story, written for YDN Weekend. Will only make sense to people who were at Yale in 2013, I’m afraid.)

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I woke up and began to panic. It wasn’t far from New Haven to Boston, and I’d fallen asleep after a long night spent polishing my piece for the Harvard-Yale issue of WEEKEND. The train was empty, and I knew I’d missed my stop.

If only life had been that simple.

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The Floodgates Open: Variety Show Edition

Most of the rest of my widely-available online work. Some pieces available only on paper, or whose links have broken, will be published later, in full.

Topics include Michael Grunwald’s The New New Dealmy weightlifting routine, potential trespassing, and how I wound up mentoring a stranger in China.

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The Floodgates Open: Yale Record List Edition

A selection of my list pieces (in full!) for the Yale Record, which totally founded the New Yorker with no outside help and only a little outside money that fell from the sky, as sometimes happens in New York City.

Topics include voter suppression, Vladimir Putin, and how not to get into the Yale Literary Magazine.

 

Other Voter Restriction Laws

Idaho: Must show proof of sexual identity.
Kentucky: Must be born in a state that starts with the same letter as the one you’re in.
California: One of these polling volunteers always lies. The other speaks only truth. Voters must determine who is who. They may ask one question.

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The Floodgates Open: Yale Record Longer Piece Edition

A selection of my work for the Yale Record, the world’s oldest college humor magazine or maybe just the nation’s but if anyone is reading this and wants to correct me for sure I’ll think about them late at night before I drift off to sleep and I will smile a little smile. For what it’s worth.

Topics include AN INTERVIEW WITH FAMOUS MAN JEPH JACQUES, Pokemon, Harvard vs. Yale, and Mythbusters. For more fine work from all the writers of this publication, much of which now gets edited by myself, click HERE!

Memorable Moments in the History of the Harvard-Yale Game

1890: Mysterious time rift opens and transports both starting teams to the field of Super Bowl XXV, 100 years in the future, immediately after kickoff. Since helmets and 250-pound linebackers didn’t exist in the 19th century, seven Ivy Leaguers die in the ensuing collisions. Result: Yale’s bench beats Harvard’s bench 21-14.”

Pikachu’s Inner Monologue

“It has been—six days. And on the seventh day, I shall not rest, for the next chapter of my miserable life will be at hand. The hand of Ash will again discharge me, flinging me into mortal combat.”

An Interview With Jeph Jacques, Creator of Questionable Content

“This is definitely the first rock I’ve ever etched… This may be the most unusual thing I’ve signed now. I’m trying to think of anything weirder… well, I signed that baby once.”

You didn’t sign it with a knife, I hope.

“…No. (Christi: “There’s no carving in baby-signing.”) But I would have! I hate babies.”

Mythbusters Picks on Less Obvious Targets

Round Earth Theory: Starting with the secretive scribbles of Pythagoras, this myth was picked up by the infamous Ptolemy, who continued to spread it despite Biblical scholars’ sensible efforts to refute him. Have you seen the “curvature” of the Earth lately? Has anyone you know fallen off the bottom of the world and into space? Could our home planet really be…spherical??”