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Ask the Aliens: How Political Should I Be?

[Ask the Aliens is a monthly feature on Misreader that attempts to contact aliens in order to answer life advice questions here on Earth. Read the open call here or check out the previous letters here. If you have a question send it to misreaderblog at gmail dot com with "Ask the Aliens" in the subject line.] Hi, the Aliens, I'm a fiction writer but this question isn't about craft. As far as my use of language and creativity go, number of publications, and recognition in the community go I'm doing okay, but something has been bothering me lately. It's about what I choose to write about. The kind of stories that I do are usually about troubled family members, things not working out, people ad

A Stranger Thinks Piece

I started to watch Stranger Things this weekend and by the third episode—which I found to be equal parts beautiful, frightening, and sad—the show had won me over. I don't want to talk about the plot, so don't worry, there's no spoilers here. I do want to talk about style and substance. Something about this show keeps on making me think of the first, good season of True Detective. For a different reason, it also makes me think of The Americans, every season of which has been very good. Both of those comparisons have to do with style. Stranger Things is mostly style, and what seems like substance, but I can't say for sure just yet. It starts from the title card. You may remember the font Netfl

The Elections Monster (10)

I didn't want to write an Elections Monster today but the beast keeps me up at night. How did I start writing a politics column for this blog in the first place? It wasn't on purpose, it just happened that way. Sort of how the Republican party became the host body for demonic possession. Obviously, I did it for the attention. That's the biggest commodity in this election.Why does anyone type anything on the internet? Why do internet trolls fill a Republican chat on a YouTube livefeed with so many anti-semitic, misogynistic, and racist slurs the chat has to close down? What makes someone you blocked try to throw their turd ideas at your Facebook posts? Why would writers copy-paste a speech wo

The Elections Monster (9)

After more contest than was ever expected, Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for Democratic candidate for president of the United States yesterday, ending the Democratic primary monster. Even though yesterday's joint appearance ends Sanders' run, most articles doing a postmortem for his campaign are dated early June, just after Clinton won the California primary. California was an undeniable turning point for Clinton; at that point, Sanders had to win it to stay alive. He didn't just lose that state, he lost everything. It's taken a month for the Sanders-Clinton detente. In the aftermath, some so-called Bernie Bros are taking it pretty hard. You have to hope that all the progressives w

Pairing: Pokémon and Phones

I am the kind of person who will read an advice column, not just because this is a blog that has one, but because I like to see what people are trying to figure out about their lives. It is possible that I am looking for solutions for my own problems, or that I just enjoy hearing that other people are having them. So it was reading the latest installment of The Blunt Instrument, Elisa Gabbert's writing craft advice column on Electric Literature, which answered a question about writing to trends, that immediately made me want to pair Pokémon and phones. Pokémon are great. You have got to catch them all. There is no way out of this. It is like a contract. They are heavily associated with mille

The Elections Monster (8)

The monster can assume many forms. Sometimes, you've seen him before: a character in your nightmares, a creature on TV. He reached out with his dead claw and pulled the covers off of your head before you screamed and he ran away. He's always threatened you, from a safe distance. Other times, the monster has no defined shape. It moves collectively. Its power comes in its ability to mobilize a horde. Zombies come to mind. I hate fucking zombies. But most of the time, the monster is the one that you can see in yourself. Part of the problem with the result of this week's Brexit vote is that you can understand, on the most abstract level, why some of the arguments to leave would make sense, and w

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