Too Much Harmony: “Water by the Spoonful,” A Play About Friendship, Dissonance, and Humiliating Identity

Last night I saw Quiara Alegria Hudes's Pulitzer-winning Water by the Spoonful at Studio Theatre. It uses dissonant jazz as a metaphor for the disjunctions and collisions in our own lives, asking whether these discordant notes will ever resolve into harmony. The show tells two parallel stories: A young vet with PTSD fights with his cousin about how to mourn his dying adoptive mother, and members of an online support group for "crackheads" (their term, which is important, see below) strive to … [Read more...]

From “How to Read the Air”

Those who came seeking help often did so with a faint trace of shame hovering over them--the sense that they were once again pleading to someone to grant them a right that everyone else they passed on the street, on the subway, and in traffic took for granted trailed them in almost all of their dealings and most likely made them more deferential than they had ever been. … [Read more...]

The Sleazy Moral Greatness of “Phone Booth”

Last night I watched Phone Booth, the 2003 thriller (brilliantly directed by Joel Schumacher, for real) in which an unseen killer traps Colin Farrell in a public phone booth and makes increasingly painful demands. It's terrifically intense--I couldn't look away. The high concept is so great: the man suffering in public, while nobody around him has any idea what he's going through. Both Farrell and his character are fun (he's a publicist, rather than a human being) and, by the end, surprisingly … [Read more...]

“Rich Dad, Poor Dad”: I review new film about fatherhood

for AmSpec: Hirokazu Koreeda's new film, Like Father, Like Son, pretends that it will be up front about the source of its heartbreak. Koreeda is the tragedian behind 2004's Nobody Knows, based on the real-life horror of several small children abandoned in their Tokyo apartment after their mother disappeared. This time he takes a parental perspective: Like Fatheropens with a couple learning that their only child was switched at birth, and is not biologically related to them.There's a … [Read more...]

“Flying Camels, Butterflies, And Twizzles”: I report from US Nationals

for AmSpec. (Which Nationals? you ask. Men's figure skating obviously. There is only one sport.)In early January, I attend my very first professional sports competition. The U.S. National Figure Skating Championships have already been going on for four days; the event sprawls over four disciplines and five age categories. I’m at Boston’s TD Garden to watch the senior men, including the two men we’ll be sending to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.Sport, like art, uses the limited body to hint … [Read more...]

Snow Day Thoughts

A series of points too small for a real post.* While I was in Boston for the US National Figure Skating Championships (of which more later!! THEY WERE SO GREAT) I also got to go with Ratty to the Museum of Fine Arts. It has some terrific Spanish painting from the Counter-Reformation era--I love this stuff, even in the court paintings you feel like you can smell the blood. The only thing that glows is the flesh of the Crucified. There's an extremism which I think some people find wearying but … [Read more...]

Sickness Is a Land of Contrasts…

No, this post from Rod Dreher has a great Flannery O'Connor quote and terrific reader comments. What more do you need to know? … [Read more...]


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