About My Blogs

Like many writers, I've started, abandoned and returned to a number of blogs over the years, including ones on this site, at Medium and at the Huffington Post. I wrote a blog called Backward Messages for about three years, exploring the scapegoating of violent video games, heavy metal, the occult and other topics. I also occasionally post recipes from my kitchen at Gluten-Free With Everything

Backward Messages
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Blog Index
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Monday
Jan092017

Nine New Albums I Loved in 2016 (And Three More by My Friends)

So much good music comes out every year, and part of the joy of the turning of the year is getting to read other people’s best-of-year lists, so I can find out about all the music I missed. It’s rarer, though, that I latch onto enough music in a year to put together a list of my own. 2016 was one of those years, though, and here are some of my favorites, in no other order but their release dates:

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Sunday
Dec042016

Interview With Them Are Us Too’s Cash Askew, Who Died in the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire

This past fall, I was lucky enough to interview Cash Askew and Kennedy Ashlyn of Them Are Us Too, an emerging goth duo with a romantic, ethereal sound, for an article in Bitch. Unfortunately, it looks like Cash was present at the Ghost Ship party in Oakland, California, on Friday night, and that she didn’t survive the fire. Numerous artists and musicians were lost in the fire; as of this writing, the Oakland Fire Department says they have found 24 dead, and expect to find more as they search the building. Each one has a story of a life on the margins, of the things that inspired them and got them through the day, and of the people who were buoyed by their work in turn. I was only able to include a few lines from my interview with Them Are Us Too in my article. I’m publishing in full now, in the hope of sharing what a thoughtful, bright and special musician Cash was.

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Wednesday
Nov162016

Please START Sharing Links to These Sites

The proliferation of fake, misleading or woefully biased news on social media (particularly Facebook) has left many people wondering which news sources they can trust. I’m here to offer a list of news outlets that work hard to check their facts and strive for objectivity. I will grant that there is a (sometimes deserved) mistrust of mainstream news sources, and that many mainstream sources are going to be on this list. But they’re largely still producing skilled, ethical journalism that provides what readers need to know. In addition to sharing links from these sites, please also consider subscribing to the ones you like best. That will ensure that they can continue to do the work of digging up information and informing the public.

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Sunday
Nov132016

Hey, Mark Zuckerberg: It’s Time To Take Responsibility for Facebook’s Role in How Users Get Their News

The proliferation of fake, misleading or woefully biased news on social media (particularly Facebook) has left many people wondering which news sources they can trust. I’m here to offer a list of news outlets that work hard to check their facts and strive for objectivity. I will grant that there is a (sometimes deserved) mistrust of mainstream news sources, and that many mainstream sources are going to be on this list. But they’re largely still producing skilled, ethical journalism that provides what readers need to know. In addition to sharing links from these sites, please also consider subscribing to the ones you like best. That will ensure that they can continue to do the work of digging up information and informing the public.

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Tuesday
Sep202016

From Columbine to Chelsea, We’re No Closer to Solving Mass Violence

Three years ago this week, I was getting ready to release The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in the Crossfire and Why Teens are Taking Them Back. I hoped the book would reshape national conversation around two things: 1. Acts of mass violence, particularly those perpetrated by teens, and 2. The kinds of things we tend to blame for those acts, particularly violent video games, heavy metal and the occult. Basically, I wanted to show that these interests were beneficial (or at least harmless) and that we needed to look elsewhere if we were going to prevent future attacks in schools and elsewhere. That has happened, although almost certainly not because of the book, and we’re not in a much better place than we were when I started researching in 2007. As I write this, we are reeling from what looks like a domestic terror bombing in New York City and yet more murders of unarmed black males by police. We still have a long way to go.

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