When you make a spectacle of yourself…

70s glasses

My ten-year-old son recently got glasses. It’s not a surprise: my wife and I both wear them. And while two wrongs don’t make a right, apparently two nearsighteds make a farsighted. I was nine when I got my first glasses. I was in third grade, my first year in the old, long-gone Gibson Elementary School in Tennessee. Now, with the … Read More

Death Wish, Old and New

Death Wish poster

After seeing commercials for the upcoming Eli Roth remake, I rewatched the original Death Wish from 1974. I was really surprised by how different Death Wish was from what I remembered, and how Roth’s remake, to judge from the trailers, totally misses the point. Yes, Charles Bronson becomes a vigilante after his family is brutally attacked, but that’s just the skeleton … Read More

Some thoughts on Christmas, as the vile triumph around us

bully

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released a song called “Souls of the Departed,” on his album, Lucky Town. After describing the death of a seven-year-old boy killed in a gang-related drive-by, he observes, His mama cried, “My beautiful boy’s dead” In the hills the self-made men just sighed and shook their heads But then, as always, Springsteen brings it down to … Read More

Rocky IV: Electric Bugaloo

rocky-iv-poster

Every Thanksgiving, I have a Rocky-thon. Starting whenever I get up, it’s all Rocky, all day. Except it’s a curated marathon. It includes Rocky I-III, Rocky Balboa, and now Creed. There’s no Rocky V, which no one seems to question. But how, folks ask, can I leave out Rocky IV? Well, lemme tell ya. I reviewed Rocky IV for my … Read More

The Point of the End of the Tour

Jesse Eisenberg (David Lipsky) and Jason Segel (David Foster Wallace

The End of the Tour is a film adapted from the memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, by David Lipsky. It begins with news of Wallace’s suicide* reaching Lipsky, who then digs out his audio tapes from the five days he spent with Wallace at the end of his author’s tour … Read More

The Truth About Writers on TV and in the Movies

Modern Family Crazy Train

Last night on Modern Family, a show I love thanks to the entire cast’s impeccable comic timing, regulars Phil and Cameron met a famous novelist on a passenger train. Said novelist, Simon Hastings (played by Simon Templeton, whose real name sounds like a pen name), is writing a mystery novel about a murder on a train, and of course he’s writing … Read More

A Response to the Lesbian Death Trope

Lexa from the 100

I don’t watch A Game of Thrones. Although it may be, as Ian McShane says, merely “tits and dragons,” it’s also a show that prides itself on killing off characters with no warning, no build-up, and no apparent reason. That’s too close to real life for me, as I explained here back in 2012. I also don’t watch The 100. … Read More

Thoughts on the X-Files, Doctor Who, and Sherlock

the-x-files reboot

When I heard that Steven Moffat is leaving Doctor Who, my first thought was, “Finally.” Of course, he still gets a whole last season to ruin what was once one of my favorite shows, but much like Scott Walker as governor here in Wisconsin, we can only hope his successor will be able to put things back like they were. … Read More

Thoughts on Clarion, Privilege and Gaiman

computer keyboard

So Neil Gaiman—a writer whose success and public image make him a hero to many aspiring writers—tweeted this: It got noticed. Clarion is a workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers, taught by successful established authors in those fields. Its also expensive, long (five to six weeks), and so beyond the reach of a great many aspiring authors. To quote … Read More

How everyone, deep down, is “Like Me”

Chely Wright with flag

So one time I met Chely Wright. It was around 1998. I worked in a Nashville mall at the Bombay Company, a repulsive chain store that sold overpriced foreign-made furniture and faux artsy knickknacks. I was the assistant manager, and took it as seriously as I did most of my other jobs, which meant that I worked no harder than … Read More