Writing Sample: Book Review

AN ARMY OF PHANTOMS: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War
Author: Hoberman, J.
Review Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: New Press
Pages: 400
Price ( Hardcover ): $27.95
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-59558-005-4
Category: Nonfiction
Classification: Popular Culture

Sharp analysis of postwar-era Hollywood by a leading film critic and historian. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Film Review

Enjoying Fuller: The Irresistibility of Sensation in Underworld U.S.A.

By Christo​fer Pierson on February 23, 2010 back to Underworld U.S.ATo tell you the truth, though I loved Samuel Fuller’s 1953 classic Pickup on South Street, perhaps because the last Fuller I saw was the wildly uneven White Dog (1982), I wasn’t expecting much from Underworld U.S.A. (1961). Continue reading

Writing Sample: Political Analysis

First Amendment Perversion
October 3, 2003
By Burt Worm

“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. . . . The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.” – Justice Hugo Black, New York Times Co. v. United States, concurring opinion.

The Wilson/Plame betrayal story gets more complicated by the hour as the White House and syndicated columnist Robert Novak work swiftly to cover their respective tracks with the dust kicked up from their frantic spinning. On CNN on Monday, Novak denied that he had been told that Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame worked in covert operations by someone in the administration, a fact he reported in his July 14 column in these words:

“Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him. “I will not answer any question about my wife,’ Wilson told me.”

Strangely enough, Novak also denied on Monday that he knew Plame was an “operative,” claiming now that he thought she was merely an “analyst” – i.e., an intelligence worker not covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, the federal law the CIA alleges may have been violated by the outing of Plame.

It is, of course, possible that Novak is telling the truth that he learned about Plame from a source other than the White House. Possibly it’s common knowledge among Washington’s ruling class and their spokespersons in the elite press corps that Valerie Plame is a CIA agent. Possibly Novak learned this from someone in the CIA while he was researching his story on Wilson’s trip to Niger to investigate the fraudulent documents alleging Saddam’s intention to purchase yellow cake uranium for his nuclear weapons program. But why would someone in the CIA be so careless about the identity of an operative working in a field as sensitive as weapons of mass destruction? Continue reading

Writing Sample: Event Coverage

Independence on Exhibit

United Spinal’s Independence Expos put consumers in touch with products, services and information that make aging or living with a disability easier and more manageable.

By Christofer Pierson

Independence Expo is fast becoming one of the highest profile ways for United Spinal Association to put into action the ideals expressed in its mission: to improve the quality of life of individuals with spinal cord disorders. It also enables United Spinal to share its 60 years of expertise in the disability rights movement with a whole new audience whose needs overlap with those of United Spinal’s core membership: the growing population of people heading into retirement years who want to be able to age in their homes.

Long Islanders had their first opportunity to attend United Spinal Association’s Independence Expo this past June, a little over a month before Orlando hosted its version for the third year. Altogether, more than 1,500 people visited the exhibit halls and attended workshops at Suffolk County Community College (Brentwood, Long Island) on June 26 and 27, and the Buena Vista Palace Hotel (Orlando) on August 7 and 8—about 600 at the former and more than 900 at the latter. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Medical Feature

Splice of Life

Nerve graft surgery is restoring some function and sensation for people with spinal cord injuries.

By Christofer Pierson

Tom Spiegler, 47, a C5-6 quadriplegic who lives in the Hudson Valley north of New York City, was not looking to be cured of the paralysis he acquired in a work-related accident in May of 2006. He just wanted to fix his wrenched hand to be able to hold things without dropping them—things like pens, eating utensils, and ping-pong paddles.

“If I wanted to play ping-pong with my daughter,” Spiegler says, “we’d have to duct-tape the paddle to my hand.”

Spiegler imagined an operation that would reshape his hands into forms that would actually be functional. So in late October of 2009, he paid a visit to Dr. Andrew Elkwood, a plastic surgeon affiliated with the Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, who was recommended to him by his physiatrist at the Kessler Rehabilitation Institute in West Orange.

Dr. Elkwood recommended an operation that promised much more function than Spiegler thought possible. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Academic Paper

Witchcraft and Statecraft: The Political Uses of Magic in Shakespeare

If Shakespeare held his mirror up to Elizabethan and Jacobean society to produce his art, it was inevitable that he would catch his own image along with that of his society. The author’s image is, I think, most interestingly reflected in the passages of his plays that concern magic. I would not argue that Shakespeare presents the reader with any faithful self-portraits in a superficial sense. It is not necessary to take the monomaniacal Prospero in The Tempest, for example–Shakespeare’s most famous magic “artist”–as an autobiographical figure representing a one-to-one correspondence between the play’s author and its central figure. However, on a deeper level the magic of Prospero and the other magicians in Shakespeare’s plays reflects the artistry behind the scenes in a number of important ways.

Where magic is used by Shakespeare it inevitably serves as the engine by which the action is propelled forward, thus miming–in fact, dramatizing–the author’s structuring of the action. This self-reflective, mimetic function of Shakespeare’s magic is clearest in The Tempest, where Prospero’s magical “project” is the plot of the play. Yet even in Macbeth, in which magic is practiced by non-humans, the supernatural elements serve on one level to reveal in coded form the outcome of the dramatic action. Shakespeare’s magic also mimes the relationship between the author and the audience. The audience of Macbeth, for example, stands in relation to Shakespeare as Macbeth stands in relation to the Weird Sisters; in each case, the former is forced by the relationship to interpret the “imperfect”–that is, latent or not wholly manifest–signs of the latter. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Feature Article

Uptown: The New Downtown?

by Chris Pierson

At the intersection of Forest and Cumberland Avenue in the heart of Portland, four corners meet but do not shake hands.  On the southeast corner, the monolithic art deco AT&T building glowers across the street at a lonely vacant lot to the northeast.  A new parking garage on the southwest corner seems preoccupied with the developments in the condominium space at its foot.  And on the northwest corner, Thomas Moser Cabinetmakers, in an elegant civil war era residence, casts an interested eye on the less than harmonious proceedings all around. Continue reading