It wasn’t the lesson he intended.

Hong Kong. (Photo by author)

The restaurant was nicer than a single guy on Reddit’s self-description.

Hong Kong, lavish, expensive. Not “nice occasions” expensive; nobility expensive, the kind of place that taxes your breaths if you lack a trust fund. I remember the impressions more than objects: Red lighting, Chinese designs. The tables were round like King Arthur’s.

Ours was in the center of the upper hall.

The millionaire was waiting on us. From China, he was an advisor for my university’s marketing course and had invited us all to dinner. Generously, thankfully, on his dime.

A Cliché And a Dilemma

Me and my classmates, we were eight minutes late…


A classical geopolitical theory explains current US politics and provides a warning for our future.

Photo by ElevenPhotographs on Unsplash

The historian Thucydides proclaimed that the Peloponnesian War was made inevitable by the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta. The rise of a new power was perceived as an existential threat to the preexisting power, causing the preexisting power to strike back with force in an attempt to preserve its status.

This tendency, called the Thucydides Trap, is often raised in discussions of foreign policy. The latest fashion is the possibility of war between the United States and China. With China rising and America seemingly declining, this is certainly a perfect example of the Thucydides…


A traveling poet in a postmodern land

Reading Game of Thrones while watching on the Wall. (Photo credit: Author)

I don’t know why I sound British.

Father was the first to notice and I lacked a good response. I ‘d lived in the same New York town all my life, and was 10, an age little heralded for clever retorts. Best guess: Harry Potter and Doctor Who. Homeschooled in a countryside absent sidewalks and people, pop culture proved a fitting substitute.

Not that I felt any loneliness, until I tragically enjoyed a summer camp. Upon discovering friends exist, I fancied having a few. Since then, this irritating desire has often complicated my…


And, right now, it’s very hot

Girl sits by a window looking at a hot, tropical view.
Girl sits by a window looking at a hot, tropical view.
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

I’m exhausted right now.

And yet I got over eight hours of sleep the last two nights. I did about an hour of exercise both days. I’ve done some writing but nothing crazy. Am I stressed? Of course. But I’ve been stressed for about two years now, so that’s not the problem.

No, the problem is simply the heat.

It’s been in the 80s and 90s Fahrenheit, here in the lower end of Upstate New York. That’s passing 32°C for any readers outside the States. I’m on the third floor of my parents’ home, which does not have air conditioning…


We’re putting a great movie into a box

A scene from In The Heights featuring several characters standing on a road.
A scene from In The Heights featuring several characters standing on a road.
A scene from In The Heights making me terrified about incoming traffic. (Photo Credit: © 2021 Warner Bros.)

(Spoiler-free)

In The Heights is a major Hollywood musical starring an overwhelmingly Latino cast. Before release, there was quite a bit of commentary comparing it to Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. Heights shares a director with Asians, but otherwise, none of those films really have anything to do with each other, except for, you know…

And that comparison hints at a problem with how In The Heights has been positioned in our cultural conversation. It’s been framed as a good Latino movie — but it should be framed as a good…


Here are nine possibilities, five of them serious

Mobius and Loki sitting at a table.
Mobius and Loki sitting at a table.
Mobius and Loki watching Thor: The Dark World. (Image: ©Marvel Studios 2021.)

(Major spoilers for the first two episodes of Loki, and slight spoilers for both previous Marvel Disney+ shows.)

We need to talk about Loki.

Why? Because it’s really fun, and I don’t have anyone else to talk about it with. But, also, we all agree the TVA is evil, right?

Loki isn’t necessarily highlighting that the Time Variance Authority is the villain. Most of the staff comes off as endearing, and the show edges around a detective procedural format that would structurally require the TVA to be the good guys.

The TVA also talks about order a lot, uses communist-style…


Don’t defame those poor dalmatians

Cruella De Vill in Disney’s Cruella, with Horace, Jasper, and three dalmations.
Cruella De Vill in Disney’s Cruella, with Horace, Jasper, and three dalmations.
Cruella. ©Disney

Cruella is a masterpiece in pop-punk blockbuster filmmaking. It’s such a roaring adventure that I spent an hour wishing it would let up just so that I could use the restroom.

It’s a really good movie.

So it’s a bit of a shame that, right now, its biggest pop culture impact is a mocking meme riffing on a clip shared online. And yes, that clip’s from the movie, but the actual context is very different from what the internet believes. By the film’s end, the entire premise of the joke is completely broken.

Instead, we have a much better film…


Sometimes it’s better to just skip to the fireworks

Man from Those Who Wish Me Dead walking away from a fire.
Man from Those Who Wish Me Dead walking away from a fire.
I neither know nor care who this bad guy works for. (Photo credit: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

When the story of 21st century American cinema is written, Those Who Wish Me Dead will likely be a footnote to an appendix. It isn’t a particularly innovative film and it doesn’t pretend to be. If you told director Taylor Sheridan his movie felt like an old-school action/thriller you might have watched any Saturday teenage night… I think he would smile.

These days, there’s real value to a movie like that. I love Marvel and I think the current entertainment landscape’s as good as it’s ever been. But there’s something intrinsically nice about watching an out-of-fashion genre, especially in theaters.


Take these lessons from a master of the art

Woman staring bored at her computer.
Woman staring bored at her computer.
Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

I procrastinate a lot. Even right now, I’m supposed to be rescuing my brother from his collapsing volcanic lair.

Wait… he’s gone. Honestly, it’s a relief not to have that on the list anymore.

I also overthink, which is — mostly — a separate issue, but it means I’ve thought a ton about procrastination. And there’s something wrong with how we approach this issue.

We almost always assume procrastination is just laziness. And that’s a needlessly judgemental way of thinking about it because laziness is a blatant character flaw.

Like sloth is literally one of the seven sins. Getting condemned…


Mad Libs Humor

But what is memory, if not Lincoln persevering?

Lincoln Memorial; close-up of Abraham Lincoln’s hands.
Lincoln Memorial; close-up of Abraham Lincoln’s hands.
The freakishly massive fingers of a true statesman. (Photo by ElevenPhotographs on Unsplash)

Disclaimer: This story is intended to be random and humorous. It is published in Fill in the Blanks publication, inspired by the classic game, Mad Libs. Random words contributed by Dariuš Butkevičius, Len Morse, Sandi Parsons, Anna, Quy Ma, Sandra Grauschopf, Amanda Clark-Rudolph, Cara J. Stevens, Panos Grigorakakis, Kayla Vokolek, Ashley Seaman, Shenbaga Lakshmi, Karen Traub, Elan Cassandra, Cole Kirby, Sarah Keays, Yve Laran, TeeJay Small, Victoria A. Fraser, Scott Hughey (TheWriteScott), and Shain Slepian.

Seven score and seventeen years and a bit over four-and-a-half months ago, Abraham Lincoln put on his iconic knickers and LARPed a speech. In these…

Damon Ferrara

A too-clever traveling poet, looking for writing opportunities. Screenwriter/Marketer/Author, “And One Day My Stars Will Burn.” https://linktr.ee/DamonFerrara

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