Ravening for Delight

H. P. Lovecraft’s tales of cosmic horror have long inspired obsessive fandom. His short stories, in the hundred years since they were first published, have extended their tentacular influence to Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, the Alien movies, Dungeons & Dragons, and beyond. Paul La Farge’s new novel, The Night Ocean, traces Lovecraft’s unusual friendship with a 16-year-old fan… Continue reading Ravening for Delight

Acts of Kindness Help Family Overcome Travel Ban

For Here & Now (NPR + WBUR) and Kind World, I reported this story about an Iraqi family split up by President Trump’s executive order in January limiting travel from seven countries. Labed Al-Hanfy, the father, had been an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq. He wanted to move his family to America to escape… Continue reading Acts of Kindness Help Family Overcome Travel Ban

How the Rorschach Got Its Blots

For The Organist (KCRW & McSweeney’s), I produced this story on the surprising backstory of the Rorschach test, that all-purpose metaphor we use for “means whatever you want it to mean.” As Damion Searls, the author of a new biography of Hermann Rorschach explains, that’s not what the test is really about at all. Check… Continue reading How the Rorschach Got Its Blots

As You Dislike It

Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes you don’t like what everyone expects you to. When you’re a critic, that can look contrarian or intentionally provocative. Longtime Pittsburgh theatre critic Ted Hoover is neither of those things, but he does throw some very entertaining shade on Shakespeare in this feature I produced for Studio 360.

Way to Go, Einstein

On the 100th anniversary of the publication of the theory of relativity, I produced an episode of Studio 360 (PRI + WNYC) looking at how Einstein upended the way we see space and time, his effect on pop culture, and how one of his most preposterous ideas was ultimately proven right. For this hour, I came… Continue reading Way to Go, Einstein

Is Laughter Good for Your Health?

Rod Waddington

For this episode of Studio 360, Kurt Andersen and Only Human host Mary Harris go to a session of laughter yoga to find out about the health effects of laughter. We trace the origin of laughter with researcher Robert Provine, and look at laughter’s effect on the brain with neuroscientist Sophie Scott. Chris Gethard talks about… Continue reading Is Laughter Good for Your Health?

Man in Space

Walter Shirra, Apollo 7 (NASA)

A photo of a man sitting in the dark, in profile, looking out a window. His face is illuminated by a glaring light. Long dark whiskers — not quite a beard — bristle out across his cheek and chin. He isn’t a fugitive holed up in a motel room, watching the parking lot, but an astronaut: you can tell… Continue reading Man in Space

JFK Sings on the Moon

Fort Worth Opera

Recently, the Fort Worth Opera decided to commission a new opera to tell the story of JFK’s final night—a night he spent with the first lady in a Fort Worth hotel room. They turned to two up-and-coming stars of contemporary opera, the composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek. I interviewed Little and Vavrek and… Continue reading JFK Sings on the Moon