Various Tails: Or, An Update on My Summer Reading

This year I answered not one but two of those hubristic "What do you plan to read this summer?" poll-articles. Last year I read exactly one of my "planned" (= "selected in order to bolster my public image," really) books, and didn't like it--you guys can hate me, but I did not get A Confederacy of Dunces at all, just thoroughly remained outside of it the whole time. I did read Two Murders in My Double Life eventually, and liked it.But this year I've knocked off the lot (more or less) fairly … [Read more...]

I Review “Venus in Fur” Movie

for AmSpec: Venus in Fur opens like a horror film—more precisely, like a horror-comedy. The camera swoops slowly over rainswept streets toward a shuttered theater, as thunder rolls and a darkly glittering waltz plays. The music sets the mood for something like Beetlejuice or even Gremlins: The carnival’s in town, and it opens at midnight!Roman Polanski’s adaptation of David Ives's play about Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s perverse novel Venus in Furs manages to sustain this edgy, gleeful mood despi … [Read more...]

From “Going to the Dogs”

"That happens to many women. We young men have cares of our own, and they leave us sufficient time for pleasure, but not enough for love. The family is disintegrating. After all, there are only two possible ways in which we can shoulder responsibility. Either a man accepts the responsibility for a woman's future, and then, if he loses his job the week after, he realizes how irresponsibly he has acted. Or his sense of responsibility forbids him to make a mess of a woman's future, and if, for this … [Read more...]

“All Noir Is Reunion”: I review the “Veronica Mars” movie

at AmCon: When we talk about the TV renaissance, we should talk about “Veronica Mars.” The 2004 “high school noir” show’s extraordinary first season mixed weekly casefiles with a season-long arc–two arcs, actually. Veronica starts the show as a suddenly bereft and embittered California teen: Her best friend has been murdered, her father lost his sheriff’s job when he fingered a local corporate bigwig for the crime, she lost all her friends in the aftermath, and when she tried to show defiance by … [Read more...]

“Short Term 12,” A Long-Term Memory

The new indie drama Short Term 12 looks like one of those well-meaning, poignant, emotionally powerful films I would never, ever want to see. It's about a very young white lady named Grace (Brie Larson) who works with kids and teens in foster care; she begins to heal her own inner wounds because of the unexpected connection she forges with a sullen, angry white girl in her care. Despite several unrealistic elements, the movie creates incredibly compelling characters and beautiful, potentially … [Read more...]

In Atlantic City, Where They Wed the Sea With Rings

I never knew that was a) not solely a Venetian tradition and b) tied to the Assumption of Our Lady! Super-fascinating.Here's the great Robert Browning poem, "A Toccata of Galuppi's." You'll see that I misremembered it in the title of this post. Oh well. … [Read more...]

“Advice for Couples: Give Less Advice”: WSJ

Here's a feature article on one of my many obsessions. And yes, I hate "studies have found" too, but much of this rings true. I wish they'd elaborated more on the problems with simply recasting advice as, "When something similar happened to me, I..." storytelling. I've found that people giving advice on how to give advice typically think that will "work," but in practice it often causes offense (how dare you suggest that my occasional extra Snickers bar is like your drinking problem?!--not a … [Read more...]


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