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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dance Lessons For Writers, by Zadie Smith, The Guardian

One of the most solid pieces of writing advice I know is in fact intended for dancers – you can find it in the choreographer Martha Graham’s biography. But it relaxes me in front of my laptop the same way I imagine it might induce a young dancer to breathe deeply and wiggle their fingers and toes. Graham writes: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Fred Astaire represents the aristocracy when he dances,” claimed Gene Kelly, “and I represent the proletariat What can an art of words take from the art that needs none? Yet I often think I’ve learned as much from watching dancers as I have from reading. Dance lessons for writers: lessons of position, attitude, rhythm and style, some of them obvious, some indirect. What follows are a few notes towards that idea.

Licensed To Eat Fire (Valid One Year Only), by Ilise S. Carter, New York Times

If you wanted to run away with the circus, it would be as easy right now as it has ever been. But you would have to provide a lot of paperwork: photo ID, proof of professional insurance and an E29 fire performer’s license from the New York Fire Department.

These days, being a professional fire eater is just not as wild as one might think. As of Jan. 1, 2016, all fire performers wishing to work within the five boroughs must be trained and licensed. I want to say that this is great, because it ensures the safety of audiences and venues, but it also makes me a little sad.

You Never Forget Your First Horror Movie, by John DeVore, Medium

In fact, 1981 was a banner year for lycanthropes. An American Werewolf in London also came out that year. Like The Howling, it featured a cutting-edge transformation scene. Both movies were more or less tongue-in-cheek. But I think most people would agree that An American Werewolf In London was the superior fang-and-fur flick. Those people would be wrong. An American Werewolf In London is full of knowing winks. The Howling is proud that it is garbage. I took that garbage seriously, though. Like a scholar.