Back to the Future: The Eerily Accurate Predictions of J.G. Ballard

This, above all else: beware the boring future. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from reading Extreme Metaphors: Interviews With J.G. Ballard 1967-2008, but this is the big one, something at which observers of technology and readers of science fiction will shudder with recognition. As befits a writer whose… » 12/09/14 10:58pm 12/09/14 10:58pm

On Their Own Terms: 6 Rockin’ Ladies Who Altered Music History

It is tempting to write about the many famous all-male punk bands that Viv Albertine's band, The Slits, influenced and inspired. Many reviewers, writing about her new memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys have been unable to resist that temptation. But isn't the message of so many… » 12/01/14 11:47am 12/01/14 11:47am

Baseball Penman Roger Angell on Derek Jeter, Aging, and Love

Come late afternoon this Sunday, after twenty years of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter will walk off the field to a hellacious ovation. Yes, even in Boston's Fenway Park, where his cleats will drag across the infield dirt one last time. Where does Jeter rank among the Yankee greats? Well, the… » 9/25/14 9:49am 9/25/14 9:49am

O Captain My Captain: 7 Rebel Teachers Who Inspire Us

In an era of high-stakes testing and endless assessment, students and teachers alike can feel that they're drowning in paperwork at the expense of learning. As political debate rages about how best to manage schools and keep standards high, we're celebrating seven teachers­ — real and fictional — who broke the rules… » 9/22/14 4:49pm 9/22/14 4:49pm

In The Mood For Laughs: An Interview with Phil Hartman's Biographer

The man may be gone, but the characters live on: Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, Anal Retentive Chef, Lionel Hutz, Lyle Lanley, Bill McNeal, Captain Carl, Troy McClure. All brought to life by sorely missed funnyman extraordinaire Phil Hartman, the subject of You Might Remember Me by longtime Chicago Sun-Times staff… » 9/18/14 9:38am 9/18/14 9:38am

Smashing Ceilings and Taking Names: Powerful Women in Politics

Famed filibusterer Wendy Davis and New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand both launch new memoirs this week. Gillibrand's book Off the Sidelines is already making waves for calling out certain (unnamed) male colleagues as, well, sexist pigs. Unwelcome comments on their appearance have long been an occupational hazard for… » 9/11/14 12:18pm 9/11/14 12:18pm

Interference: One Man Questions Everything Football Has to Offer

At 8:30 pm E.S.T., the NFL jumpstarts its ninety-fifth season with a donnybrook between the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and America's sweetheart hunk of cheddar, the Green Bay Packers. More than 20 million viewers will tune in tonight, and more than 100 million will catch a game over the opening… » 9/04/14 12:12pm 9/04/14 12:12pm

Ray Bradbury's Biographer: 'He Was Who He Always Maintained He Was'

In many ways, Ray Bradbury's life is a biographer's dream — the extensive record of his very public life as a master storyteller surfaces through thousands of media publications, announcements, advertisements, and his own reminiscences. Many years of private interviews led me to still more sources, published and… » 8/27/14 11:10am 8/27/14 11:10am

Remembering the Astronaut Wives of the '69 Moon Landing

I decided to write the story of the astronaut wives after seeing an incredible Life magazine photo of them in their skyrocketing beehives, outfitted in their candy-colored minidresses. When I learned that they actually have a club—and that they raised their families in the Houston "space burbs" near NASA's operations,… » 7/21/14 5:50pm 7/21/14 5:50pm

Margaret Atwood Dreams Up Murder in the Arctic

A summer! But which of the seventy-five summers I have spent? The summer of 1957, when I was a waitress at a boys' camp on an island in Lake Huron and first ate a rattlesnake? The summer of 1965, when I was writing The Edible Woman in exam booklets on a card table in Vancouver? Perhaps the summer of 1976, when we took… » 7/21/14 4:19pm 7/21/14 4:19pm

Among Thugs: Hooliganism and the Evolution of Soccer

This Sunday, roughly a billion viewers will tune in to the World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina. I know where I'll be at kickoff for what is unquestionably the planet's biggest sporting event: in front of a large television screen, cold beverage in hand, joining one-seventh of my fellow humans of Earth in… » 7/10/14 11:28am 7/10/14 11:28am

Why James Joyce's Ulysses is Forever Indebted to Feminism

First, a caveat: in order to thoroughly enjoy Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses, you need not have actually read Ulysses. You don't even have to have plans to read Ulysses. Birmingham expertly gives us the lay of the land in which Ulysses was written: state-sanctioned… » 6/11/14 5:09pm 6/11/14 5:09pm

Reflections from 7 Child Actresses Raised in the Spotlight

Women who've grown up in the spotlight face a daunting amount of public criticism, especially of their looks (just ask Chelsea Clinton). Those tough lessons, however, are often just a heightened version of the pressures all young women face, making these seven memorable film and television stars uniquely qualified… » 5/22/14 10:03am 5/22/14 10:03am

Supermodels, Hot Dogs, and George Plimpton: A New Look at the Legend

In 1999, I attended a panel discussion centered around The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. The lineup was basically the 1927 Yankees of New Journalism. Hosted by bon vivant extraordinaire Dick Schaap, the featured guests were Ira Berkow, Gay Talese, David Halberstam, and George Plimpton. Murderers' Row,… » 5/15/14 2:22pm 5/15/14 2:22pm

Embrace Your Inner Boss Lady: 5 Tales of Women on Top

Recently Sophia Amoruso, CEO of the online retail company Nasty Gal, found herself in back-to-back meetings with Nordstrom and the designer Michael Kors. "And the whole time," she writes, "I'm sitting in this meeting thinking, Oh my God, I stole a Michael Kors watch from Nordstrom when I was seventeen." It's an… » 5/07/14 10:44am 5/07/14 10:44am

9 Mascot Life Lessons, Gleaned from the Big Mind of Mr. Met

Life as a Mets fan, as any fellow masochist will tell you, can be trying. In 1962, the Mets' first year in the National League, the team went 40-120. In the more than half-century since, the Mets have had their moments, including World Series titles in 1969 and 1986, but the good teams have been few, and the miserable… » 5/01/14 9:39am 5/01/14 9:39am