The Backstories


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It’s interesting how some articles come together. Take, for instance, “Ms. Heller’s Neighborhood,” this month’s feature on Alameda’s Marielle Heller, whose directing career is taking off.

 Her father, Steve Heller, contacted the magazine about his daughter and her film success about two years ago, maybe longer, touting Diary of a Teenage Girl, her edgy first feature film. Edward Guthmann took the assignment, meeting with Heller in Brooklyn and talking to family members and friends about her in the long stretch in between. We timed the article to appear in print with the debut of her second movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me? Heller’s story is a Cinderella tale of determination and perseverance — with more accolades likely to follow if actor Tom Hanks remains a box office draw as Fred Rogers in Heller’s third and biggest film, in You Are My Friend.

For Health & Wellness, I asked Kate Rauch to explore aging eyes after encountering the mysteries of floaters. Four family members and friends — all of a certain age — in rapid succession experienced vitreous collapse, aka floaters. In all cases, the subjects initially were convinced they were having a medical emergency — stroke?  detached retina? — and raced to the doctor’s office where they learned it was just a normal part of aging, along with cataracts, dry eye, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. See what you have to look forward to?

As for video game playing, it’s not one of my interests or vices. Not having children, I haven’t had to regulate their screen time, but many of my friends have, and our discussions have been complex. I can count six individuals, maybe more, whose lives were severely impacted by an inability to take a break from video games. Did they suffer from Gaming Disorder, classified in June as a bona fide mental health condition by the World Health Organization? Chances are, no. But when friends revealed how their kids gamed nonstop, quit school, lost touch with anything that wasn’t virtual, and fell into depression, I did wonder how much was too much. Andrea A. Firth investigates that question. And as one might suspect, there is no definitive answer, though researchers and scientists are studying it. To me, it seems as real and potentially devastating as gambling or substance abuse addictions. Let’s hope the American Psychiatric Association follows the WHO’s lead.

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