January 29, 2023

When we found out Norm Macdonald died, my wife and I set our hearts on doing one thing and one thing alone that night. No, not toasting his demise! We watched Dirty Work (1998), the only feature film to star Norm. The ex-Saturday Night Live (1975-Present) star had an immensely loyal fanbase maintained through podcasts, guest spots, and whatever else Norm found himself doing. After getting fired from SNL, Dirty Work was his shot at a more traditional comedic career.... Read more

January 23, 2023

Despite my hopeless pride in coming from New Jersey (being a Raiders fan, despair comes naturally to me), I missed the boat on Zach Braff’s Garden State (2004). I didn’t even really watch Scrubs (2001-2010), though it anchored many a conversation in middle school. In retrospect, I floated past certain aughts cultural touchstones because I was a content kid with older parents who watched sitcoms and reality TV. What was trending didn’t matter, except insofar as my mom got to... Read more

January 22, 2023

You’d have to come from a family both normal and strange to gather and watch Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982). Normal, because it explores kinship, childlike wonder, and the simple pleasure of togetherness despite difference in a way that makes me feel saccharine typing that out. But it’s not at all sweet and light; it’s an odd journey filled with quiet violence, performativity, and hauntings. It’s also, in its TV version (the one worth seeing, in my opinion) 312... Read more

January 21, 2023

Much to some Baby Boomers’ chagrin, our moment bears comparison with the tumultuous 1960s. Then, as now, Black racial consciousness was blossoming, just as Black music and culture became fashionable. We’ve got rioting, a Leftward push rebuffed and domesticated by entrenched power structures, and moral panics around sexual mores. More kids take more drugs more regularly in the face of a hopeless future—many times more powerful than those available in the Decade of Love and Hate (paging Robert Mitchum), but... Read more

January 20, 2023

The nigher the end, the wonkier the appetite. Whether it’s Jay and Silent Bob in Dogma (1999) or General Jack D. Ripper saving his precious bodily fluids ahead of nuclear annihilation in Dr. Strangelove (1964), expecting our shared finale induces extremes. The gnostic sects of the first couple centuries AD were either orgiasts or ascetics, while today Proud Boys compete with new family structures held together by Blackstonian polygamy. The apocalypse is a comedy gold mine for the soul brave... Read more

January 19, 2023

If you combine the stories of “Little Red Riding Hood” and Last House on the Left (1972), and transposed the byproduct to medieval Sweden, you’d have Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (1960). Indeed, the Wes Craven film was consciously modeled on Bergman’s effort, lightly nudging the tale away from idealization by associating the action with the emerging and dangerous freedom of the late 60s and early 70s. Bergman takes the opposite tack, bending toward melodrama. He sets his movie in... Read more

January 18, 2023

It was about 10 years ago that, driving a friend of mine to some late-night Jersey diner, he told me he was going to queue up something, the likes of which I had never heard before—Bisch Bosch (2012) by Scott Walker. He was right. As best I can recall, he led with “SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter).” Shrieks and instruments I could not place pierced a stochastic silence, all whirling around the near monotone of a male voice, a steady,... Read more

January 17, 2023

Very few of you, I assume, have heard of Tucker (2000-2001). No, I don’t mean the contemporary talk show hosted by the probable CIA asset, nor do I mean the side character from beloved children’s cartoon Danny Phantom (2004-2007). Let me introduce you to it much like I was. It’s the only way to experience this star child of Y2K overreach. Tucker was a children’s sitcom on Nickelodeon. In it, Seth Green plays himself as a 26-year-old actor. He, however,... Read more

January 9, 2023

Sometime in the summer of 2009 I opened video on-demand as I played World of Warcraft deep into the night. Usually, I’d be chatting with my high school friends who also played, running something I’d seen a million times before like King of the Hill (1997-2010) in the background, half-watching, half-socializing, half-playing in that excessive way of multitasking that atrophies around age 21. Not this time though. This time I was alone and willing to do whatever it took not... Read more

January 2, 2023

Baseball is not America’s pastime. Sure, we may call it that. But this is misdirection rooted in our eternal shame. We are a brash people known for screaming in cargo shorts all around this wide globe. There is, however, shame in this rudeness. We protest too much, methinks, and prefer not to be seen for what we really are: carnies. Which sport do we make a veritable sport out of hating? Soccer. You’ve heard the accusations (though these seem to... Read more

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