“The Uncozy Christie”: Me on the Queen of Crime

at the University Bookman: Agatha Christie’s name is practically synonymous with comfort reading. Her publishers used to promise readers “a Christie for Christmas,” and her works are the inspiration for the mystery subgenre known as “cozies.” Quaint little English villages, low-rent lords and shady ladies, just a spot of murder before tea at the vicarage—this is Dame Agatha’s public image.But on the occasion of her 125th birthday, we might do well to remember that both of Christie’s most mem … [Read more...]

What Was Going On Inside: I Watch “Goodnight Mommy”

for AmCon: An Austrian television personality comes home to her remote, eerie house to recuperate from extensive plastic surgery. Swathed in bandages, she confronts her twin sons—and they don’t recognize her. She can’t persuade the boys that she’s their real mother, and her inability to remember basic information about her own life doesn’t help. She seems to scapegoat one of the boys as the troublemaker; she sometimes refuses to talk to him or even set a place for him at the table. The boys deci … [Read more...]

Kurt Browning’s Humility, Nicole Bobek’s Radiance, And Heteronormativity on Ice!

Last night I saw the Halloween on Ice tour in Richmond, VA. Because this is a full-service blog I will give you my impressions. The main thing is that you absolutely should go if you are in the market for a good old-fashioned skating cheesefest.Shawn Sawyer was the MVP. He's so much fun, and seems to have a gift for weird, creepy skating programs. Tons of cool extension moves and spirals and spins.Nicole Bobek did her aerial hoop thing, plus her characteristically beautiful spirals. Also … [Read more...]

“God Hates Renoir”: Protest at Boston’s MFA

Glorious: It’s nothing personal, says Ben Ewen-Campen, he just doesn’t think French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir is much of a painter. Monday, the Harvard postdoc joined some like-minded aesthetes for a playful protest outside the Museum of Fine Arts. The rally, which mostly bewildered passersby, was organized by Max Geller, creator of the Instagram account Renoir Sucks at Painting, who wants the MFA to take its Renoirs off the walls and replace them with something better. Holding hom … [Read more...]

Devils in the Dark: My “Star Trek: TOS” Rewatch Continues

(part one)I'm into season two now. Some things I'm noticing:* The writers are very consistent with the message that peacemaking is unnatural to human beings. We're the savage species, the killers who for some reason decided to go out to the stars to answer cries for help. This seriously comes up every other episode (it's part of what they use Spock's alienness for) and it adds so much emotional resonance to the (less-consistent) peacemaking itself. I am not a fan of ST:TNG so I'm the … [Read more...]

Why the Long Face? I Watch “BoJack Horseman”

for AmCon. This piece could have been twice the length--I have a lot of feelings about this show, apparently: We’ve suffered a rash of cynical, sarcastic, hyper-competent white manchildren on our TV screens: “House” was one of the purest versions of this creepy fantasy, where self- and other-loathing make you cool and insightful. Recently there has been a bit of a backlash. Leading men (Walter White, Don Draper) now display the gross and pathetic nature of entitled narcissism, no matter how well … [Read more...]

“Et in Academia, Ego”: I review “Bradstreet Gate”

for the University Bookman: Death and defeat haunt the college novel. College novels—whether they focus on students or professors—typically tell a story in which the shining promises of academia prove not only false but absurd. College promises insight; college novels display the blankness of human depravity. College proclaims the power of reason and dialogue; college novels expose irrational passions and farcical miscommunication. College exalts the life of the mind, while the college novel is … [Read more...]