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Making Virtue Interesting When Writing a Book

We live in a time when virtue is not considered very interesting. Once upon a time in America, though, virtue was viewed very differently.

In the mid- to late(ish)-19th century, wrote a series of novels centered around young men who were the embodiment of American virtue. They weren’t gentlemen by lineage, they were gentleman by character. In his series of bestsellers, Alger churned out seemingly endless stories about teenagers, or even boys of 10 or 11, who were hard-working, honest, kind, courageous, and invariably willing to take a stand when it come to doing the right thing, no matter the temptations to do the wrong thing.

For the boys and young men across America who couldn’t get enough of Alger’s books, it didn’t matter at all that the plots were cut from the same template or that the heroes were interchangeable. What mattered was that Alger promised a payout on the American dream: If you work hard, are honest, cultivate virtue, and seize opportunity when it offers itself, then you too can make the journey from shoeshine or newspaper boy to a well-paid office clerk with a straight shot to being president of the company one day.

Story Wars: Canadians and the Star Trek vs. Star Wars Battle

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 26: The Trouble of “Story”

Vulcan, Alberta, Canada. Population: 1,917, as per the latest Canadian census (2016). Home to the Tourism and Trek Station and the annual “Vul-Con” Convention.

No, the town was not named after Spock’s home planet, but Vulcan is a pretty clear indicator of Canada’s Trek obsession. The debate may rage elsewhere, but in Canada there is a definite consensus (as there is with so many things): Trek leaves Wars in the space dust.

PreTeena: April 22 – April 28, 2019

You won’t want to miss these hilarious cartoons depicting the ups and downs of adolescence. Now each week’s strips will debut on Sundays as the lead strip of Liberty Island’s Sunday Comics feature. If you draw a comic and would like to have your work featured on Sundays, please contact us: [email protected]

Check out Allison Barrows’ new PreTeena blog here.

UPDATED: Ranking My 10 Favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

And sorting out the others. Disagree with my choices?

With the fourth Avengers movie debuting this weekend, the closing chapter of a 22-film series, I decided to start a discussion over which installments in the series have been the best, which are weaker, and why.

The Ethical Transhumanism of Star Trek

In a universe where cybernetics, genetic engineering, alien tech and thousands of worlds exist, why are the humans of the Federation so human? Let’s take a look at the limited, ethical transhumanism of “Star Trek”.

‘The Highwaymen’: Bonnie and Clyde Are Long Since Dead, But the Cult Mentality Lives On

The made-for-TV film “The Highwaymen” has been on Netflix for several weeks now, but I didn’t get around to watching it until a couple of weeks ago.

The much talked-about vehicle for Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson is, as most readers will know, the story of how two retired Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer (Costner) and Maney Gault (Harrelson) tracked down the legendary couple Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, when other law enforcement agencies across several states, including the FBI, had failed.

I Would Like to Acknowledge…

Part 1 of a new series on Australian culture

The entrance to the Stringybark Creek Bushwalk is not far from my apartment a couple miles north of the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. If you planned a hike in this government-funded nature reserve smack dab in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world – Sydney is home to 5.7 million people – you could be forgiven for thinking you might not see much bush on your Bushwalk, but you’d be wrong.  Soon after you set off, the sights and sounds of the city are swallowed by the densely packed canopy above. Forty minutes and a few random turns later you start to wonder – especially if you’ve decided to go without your phone for the afternoon – whether you’ll be able to find your way back home. A half hour later, emerging from the Bushwalk a few steps away from a pub with a Sunday schnitzel and beer special, you wonder why you were ever worried in the first place.

New Fiction: Constance Dryden’s Oil

We bought the house we’re currently living in from an elderly woman–Constance Dryden–who had lost her husband ten years before. My wife Teri and I figured Constance to be in her late seventies, perhaps early eighties. On our first walk-through, and all through the sales process, she seemed vaguely ambivalent, even unwilling to part with the bungalow on Portland’s Southwest Devonshire Street. According to our agent, Sally Showwalter, her family had insisted Grandma Dryden give up the homestead when it became clear she could no longer keep it up. Her three children were worried about her living alone with the stairs to the basement, the old clawfoot tub, the considerable amount of work needed in the large yard. The oldest daughter was taking her in.

Our offer was countered, we accepted, and that was that, but returning from a run to Home Depot several days after closing we found Constance raking October leaves on the front lawn.  “You have to stay ahead of the leaves this time of year,” she said. “How do you like the place so far?”

Teri and I were friendly, but a shadow of wariness crossed our shared glance.

 

William Shatner: To Boldy Goof

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 25: Faking It Until He Made It

For some, the word “goof” is associated with a dim-witted but lovable Disney character. For Canadians, “goof” is the ultimate insult, on par with being called a child molester. Walk into a bar in Canada and call someone a goof and you will get your ass kicked.

A “goof” may be completely harmless and well-meaning. The goof wants to be liked. But something is… off about him. His behaviour isn’t quite normal. It’s persistently annoying. He’s the opposite of the level-headed Canadian exemplar.

People notice and target the goof. Women won’t touch the goof. If you see him, cross the street. His actions can’t go unpunished. And he’s got to reassert his place in the social order by fighting.

Sometimes, however, the goof gets the last laugh. They want to call me a goof? I’ll show them just how goofy I can be

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get William Shatner.

PreTeena: April 15 – April 21, 2019

Sunday Comics!

You won’t want to miss these hilarious cartoons depicting the ups and downs of adolescence. Now each week’s strips will debut on Sundays as the lead strip of Liberty Island’s Sunday Comics feature. If you draw a comic and would like to have your work featured on Sundays, please contact us: [email protected]

Check out Allison Barrows’ new PreTeena blog here.

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