"Steady the Pour" is a short comedic film about Annie, a young software engineer, who, in facing a major life decision, seeks advice from a motley cast of strangers in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. Can a Wall Street financier moonlighting as a psychic, a disillusioned venture capitalist, and a guitar student with uncanny access to the "animal spirit" kingdom help her, or are the questions Annie's asking the kind we can only really answer for ourselves?
Release date: Fall 2017 | Directed by: Deva B. Anderson | Screenplay by: Amanda R. Martinez | Starring: Molly Kinsale Ratermann, Christa Martin, Evan Shen Adler, Will Springhorn Jr. | Produced by: Sudden Lemur & Deva B. Films | DPs: Mark Lammerding, Philip Lima
Anatomically Modern Human for President | short screenplay
"Anatomically Modern Human for President" is a short comedy screenplay about two scientists who invent a time machine and accidentally bring one of the earliest members of the human species back to the present. This early human gets loose, becomes a social media sensation, and enters the race for president, where he quickly becomes the most popular candidate. The scientists struggle to find and return him to the past before it's too late.
The piece is pure satire, inspired by evolutionary theory's distinction between anatomically and behaviorally modern humans. The former, thought to have evolved c. 300,000 years ago, would look more or less as we do today. But only around 50,000 years ago are humans thought to have gained the suite of cognitive abilities to think and act as we do. What, I wondered, would happen if you took a 300,000-year-old man, put him in a suit, and dropped him in the middle of Times Square? In this era in which compelling narrative is used to negate fact and justify even the most absurd behavior, how might this early human be explained?
The script has earned recognition in eight competitions, and was named a finalist in five. It won its category, "Best Comedy Short," at the 2017 Nashville Film Festival.
Nostalgia in China | The New Yorker.com
A powerful wave of nostalgia is sweeping the generation of Chinese born between 1980 and 1989, known in China as baling hou, or "post-eighties." This piece I wrote for The New Yorker.com details evidence I found of the epidemic in several cities. It also explores how research on what nostalgia is and why we feel it may explain why the bittersweet sentiment has China's post-eighties cohort so firmly within its thrall.
Battle at the End of Eden | The Atlantic
Exotic and isolated, animals found only on islands are quietly dying off. To many, the vexing wave of extinction portends an ecological crisis. To a cadre of brash scientists who think they've discovered a solution, these desperate times call for desperate measures—a strategy involving guns, poison, traps, and a wholesale rethinking of modern conservation. This long-form article, published as The Atlantic's first original e-book, details the fight to preserve the most delicate places on Earth.
Only 65 years after the mass production of plastic began, the material is in every ocean and seabed on the planet. My reporting on how plastic is transforming the ocean ecosystem took me to Kamilo Beach, a secluded stretch of coastline in the rural Ka'u district of Hawaii's Big Island. Each year, powerful tides and trade winds heap between 10 and 20 tons of debris onto Kamilo's shore, most of it plastic. What drew me there was a phenomenon I'd heard about - that Kamilo's trash was literally turning into plastic sand. I wanted to see if it was true. Indeed it was. Check out the video clip at left or below.
For an optimistic take on the fate of plastics at sea, here's a short piece I wrote for Scientific American. When scientists slid a one-cm-size sliver of plastic bag they'd fished out of the North Atlantic under a microscope and zoomed in a few thousands times, they discovered that marine microbes had not only colonized the fragment, some of them appeared to be eating it. Could microbes be evolving to digest one of the world's most durable materials?
The Improvisational Brain | Seed Magazine
Watching a musician in the throes of an improvisational solo can be like witnessing an act of divine intervention. But embedded memories and conspiring brain regions are the true source of this off-the-cuff creativity. This Seed Magazinefeature I wrote dives into the brain of renown classical pianist and improviser Robert Levin during performance. With a cognitive ethnomusicologist and neuroscientist acting as guides, it explores Levin's process at the neuronal level.