Airport (1970): An Imperfect Best Picture Nominee for Our Imperfect Times

The Academy Awards are around the corner, and no doubt the viewers at home are eagerly awaiting which of the presenters will be slapped across their face.

What occurred last year between the right palm of Will Smith and the left cheek of Chris Rock was indeed a tragedy (or twisted comedy?) of manners, but it was not a disaster. For that, we must turn to a film I recently screened in celebration for the upcoming Oscars, a best picture nominee that raked in some serious dough back in its day: Airport, released on March 5, 1970, the second-highest grossing film that year.

Some film critics have labeled it the worst movie ever nominated for Best Picture. Could it be that a movie about a disaster was itself a disaster?

What’s the verdict? Read on and find out.

Best Songs of 2022

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2022; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

  1. End of the Empire I-III, by Arcade Fire on WE
  2. End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A-), by Arcade Fire on WE
  3. Happy New Year, by Let’s Eat Grandma on Two Ribbons
  4. King, by Florence + The Machine on Dance Fever
  5. American Teenager, by Ethel Cain on Preacher’s Daughter
  6. Beach House, by Carly Rae Jepsen on The Loneliest Time
  7. Mastermind, by Taylor Swift on Midnights
  8. Bostich, by Yello on Musik Music Musique 2.0
  9. Summer, by Emeli Sandé on Let’s Say for Instance
  10. At the Frick Museum, by Aimee Mann on Queens of the Summer Hotel
  11. Easy on Me, by Adele on 30
  12. Chaise Longue, by Wet Leg on Wet Leg
  13. Hold Me, by The Teskey Brothers on Run Home Slow
  14. Angel of Business, by Grace Ives on Janky Star
  15. Cambodia, by Kim Wilde on Musik Music Musique 2.0
  16. Hindsight, by Jake Wesley Rogers on Bros Soundtrack
  17. Home by Now, by MUNA on MUNA
  18. LSD, by Lucius on Second Nature
  19. Rerun, by Mia Wray on Stay Awake
  20. Less Than Zero, by The Weeknd on Dawn FM
  21. You Make the World a Better Place, by Priscilla Ahn on Waiting

The highlight of this year is Grace Ives — there are many more songs on her album Janky Star that could’ve made this list. Also a weird discovery — there’s an Australian record label called Ivy League Records that are featured here, on The Teskey Brothers and Mia Wray. Oh, and the lyrics to Chaise Longue are just hilarious!

Sunday, 12/4/2022 11am: Flash Fiction/NonFiction Writing Workshop on Ekphrasis @ West Windsor Arts (Princeton area)

For those in the Princeton area, if you have the time and the inclination, please join me as I run a flash writing workshop at the West Windsor Arts Center. Info below!


Sunday: Flash Fiction/NonFiction Writing Workshop on Ekphrasis [Adult]
12/04/2022 11:00 AM – 01:30 PM ET

West Windsor Arts Center
952 Alexander Rd.
West Windsor, NJ 08540

The definition of ekphrasis is “the use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device.” Writers should bring in a meaningful photo of someone they will write about in the workshop. It can be a family member, a historical person, or even a photo of themselves. This is a flash writing workshop, so writers will be creating a 500 word or less piece by the end of the workshop, which will be critiqued and shared in the class.

More Modern Love Illustrations…a Dozen. Yes, a Dozen!

It’s one thing to have people read your story — but to have it illustrated? For me, there is no higher praise. These following artists took my words and turned them into their own works of art.

Huge thanks to Grant Shaffer ( for sharing these with me. And thank you, each and every one of you beautiful artists: Abigail, Adrien, Cecil, Fiona, Francisco, Dora, Junhan, Kayla, Maggie, Sarah, Sol, and Andrea. I’m just floored.

Jingying Zhang (Dora)

Modern Love Illustration, Take 4

So you may recall that a little while back, a third artist had painted their take of my Modern Love essay. Now there’s a fourth — and all I can say is wow. I’ve always been jealous of artists, their ability to say so much through a single visual statement. This is by Rumi Hara (@rumi.hara – Wow. Thank you, Rumi!

@rumi.hara –

Tomorrow: Collingswood Book Festival!

A reminder that the Collingswood Book Festival is indeed happening tomorrow! The weather gods have thrown a little fit, so due to the rain, the festival will move to the high school. From the website:

Due to the weather forecast for this Saturday, October 1, the festival will be held at Collingswood High School, 424 Collings Avenue, Collingswood, NJ. Enter through the high school gym building on Eldridge Ave. If you’re not vaccinated for COVID, mask up!

Saturday, October 1 – Adult Authors

NEW LOCATION: Collingswood Middle School, Main Auditorium (second floor)

10:00 a.m. — Ann de Forest, Ways of Walking

11:00 a.m. — Town Book Presentation: Jo Piazza, We Are Not Like Them

12:00 p.m. — Sannii Crespina-Flores, Machetes are Forged in Soft Rivers and Faleeha Hassan, War and Me

1:00 p.m. — Riley Sager, The House Across the Lake and Sung J. Woo, Skin Deep

2:00 p.m. — Mike Sielski, The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality

3:00 p.m. —Beth Macy, Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis (sequel to Dopesick)

October 1, 2022: Collingswood Book Festival!

Super excited to take part in the Collingswood Book Festival on Saturday, 10/1/2022!

I’ll be on a panel with NYT bestselling author Riley Sager that day at 1pm. The festival folks were kind enough to write up a profile for both Riley and myself, so please check it out!

Essay to TV! Modern Love: Mumbai, Season 1, Episode 3: “Mumbai Dragon”

Amazon Studios has adapted my Modern Love essay!!! (I feel three exclamation points are warranted for this bit of news.) It is episode 3 from Modern Love Mumbai, entitled “Mumbai Dragon.”

So of course I knew about the Modern Love series on Amazon Prime, but I didn’t know they have branched out to culturally specific versions of Modern Love. From Wikipedia:

In April 2022, Prime Video announced the Indian version of the series in three different languages — Modern Love Mumbai in HindiModern Love Hyderabad in Telugu and Modern Love Chennai in Tamil. A Japanese version of the series, titled Modern Love Tokyo will premiere worldwide on October 21, 2022.

Can you guess which of these stills is my episode? If you guessed this one…

Me and Mom, TV-ized

…you are absolutely correct!

So for those with Amazon Prime, which seems to be just about everyone I know, you can watch this episode whenever you wish (turn on the English subtitles!). I would recommend you either read or listen to the essay beforehand, so you can see all the changes that took place in the adaptation:

Now for some questions and answers:

  • This was released almost three months ago — how come you are just posting this now? That’s because I wasn’t made aware of it until this past Friday! The Modern Love folks at the Times were waiting to tell the authors until the financials were worked out. They were indeed worked out, so ergo, I was notified. 🙂 Frankly, I’m glad I wasn’t aware of this until now, because if I had come across it when it came out, I would’ve been very much in the mold of, “Now wait a minute…this sounds a little too familiar…”
  • I just saw the episode, but where was your name in the credits? Yeah, that’s just the way it goes. If you look at the first Modern Love series, you’ll notice that only the episodes that hew very closely to the original essay give credit to the author. Mostly those were the stories that were super popular/went viral. Mine did not, so the writing team made many, many changes to tell their own tale. I knew this before watching, so I was prepared for it to be a very different story — but I was absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out! Much of my essay did make it in the episode, and the theme/spirit of my piece is totally there. The director of the episode, Vishal Bhardwaj, is a legendary filmmaker in India, so I lucked out big time. And the performances are top notch, too. There were three people in my essay — my mother, my wife Dawn, and myself. The same trio stars in the episode, modified — mom the cook, son the singer (!), and sagacious girlfriend.

    So long story short, no official credit. But hey, there can still be an unofficial credit, right? Thank you, IMDb!
  • Now that your essay has been turned into a podcast and a TV episode, what’s next? Isn’t it obvious? Broadway, of course! Somebody please write a musical, pronto…
Dawn and Mom, TV-ized

Lots of people loved the series and this episode in particular — check them out.
“The third episode titled ‘Mumbai Dragon,’ directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. Set against the backdrop of the Indian Chinese community, it tells the story of Sui, a single mother who overbearing love for her son gets threatened when he shares his portion of love with his girlfriend. The mother played by Yeo Yann Yann is easily the best thing about entire anthology.”
“This was easily the BEST of the lot! Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, the short focuses on familial love.”
“I perceived Mumbai Dragon as a story of how stubborn most Indians are when it comes to love. They want their children to marry someone from their community. More than the happiness of their children, what matters to them is their pride. Even though the ending is predictable, the delicious food, performances and tuneful music keep you going through the end.”
“Vishal Bhardwaj is, to put it simply, eons ahead of anyone in the people in this anthology web series. His direction is so expressive, so vibrant, so lively, so dynamic that it’s unfair for everyone else. He brings out the best in Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Naseeruddin Shah, and Wamiqa Gabbi; giving them ample room to visualize their characters’ feelings with words and sometimes, without them.”

One last thing — this is an embarrassment of riches, but another artist on Instagram reached out to me with a third take on my essay this morning! Andrea can be found on Instagram and her website.

A Second Illustration to My Modern Love Piece

So many years ago, the Times published my Modern Love piece. That story was illustrated by Brian Rea, who’s been doing all the MLs for a while now.

Today I received a notification from an Instagrammer, Joyce (@paperie.pufferies), who is currently taking classes at the School of Visual Arts and chose my story for her own illustrative take. How cool is that?


There are two details of this graphic on her Instagram, so check them out, and her site, too!