I’ve held a secret obsession for several years now – a love of film and television that surpasses even my love for reading. As a writer, this outright adoration of the big and small screen alike is sort of my literary black eye. Nonetheless, for every book I read, I binge watch two full seasons of one show or another and watch no less than three movies. This has given me a fairly good palate for the medium. I hope to explore in this column the cultural importance of film and television, how narrative and characterization is flourishing within the art forms, and also add general commentary on some of the most exciting work currently on offer from both. This may be presented as criticism, it may be presented of flattery, but it will always strive to be honest, informed, and relevant.
A mix of personal essay and cultural criticism, The Waiting Room, a continuation of a column that originally appeared in The Butter, will look at the places where women’s body image, illness, and disability intersect.
A mix of narrative photography, personal essay, and cultural criticism, Manager’s Special, will take viewers onto the streets, behind doors, and into alleys to look at race, politics, poverty, religion, and all the stories of who we are.
I’ve spent most of my adult life after hours. Not just in smoke-filled bars and restaurants where, as a bartender, I saw the pain, humor, goodness, cruelty, and dysfunction of the human condition. But also afterwards, in the after hours, where the mind often goes to strange places: the minutiae of life—love, hate, food, drink, places I’ve been, people I’ve known—but also the arcane and the obtuse, a miscellany of odd, unrelated things that make me curious. Often I think about books and writing, and writers, both famous and infamous, or basically unknown, like me. I think about our differences and similarities, how we somehow manage to navigate the strange mix of terror and optimism that is the writing life. I think about anything and everything, after hours.
During my third year of college, I briefly considered giving in to my unhealthy obsession with cooking by dropping out to attend culinary school. But life, as we all know, sometimes throws other plans your way, so I instead stumbled upon a career in IT. However, after nearly thirty years of rigidly studying stacks of cookbooks, I’m making up for lost time by pushing my continued compulsion for creating good food out onto the edge of a limb: I’m learning to cook without using measuring tools or recipes. Seasoned Abandon is a series about taking a chance and throwing away control, about trusting your intuition, all while embracing failure and completely ruining some dinners.
I have been given this space to do an occasional column. Occasionally I will write occasional pieces. And I have been given free rein, if not reign. I will probably talk about books and reading and writing more than, say, crockpot recipes, but you never know. Sometimes I find bliss in the funniest places. So drop by anytime and see what I am on about.
Joe Mills / String Figures: Some Notes on Trying to Learn Piano in Middle-Age (and a few on parenting, passions, play, the passage of time . . .)
What happens when a middle-aged couple takes up the piano lessons their kids abandoned? Find out as author Joe Mills explores the joys, dreams, burdens, and surprises of one family’s decision to purchase a piano.
Here will you find: mistakes, bodies, nutrients, and silver. A column is an obelisk; do not expect this one to keep to the straight and sturdy qualities of its namesake. Likely, there will be foolishness, and on a good day, a point. I have lost my armor. I have taken up the pen.
A collection of personal essays, Peanuts & Crackerjacks pays tribute to life’s most undervalued and effective instructor: the world of sports.
Thoughts on writing and other mysteries.