Nostalgia and film

As a brief follow up to my post on upper-middle-class families in modern television and film, I’d like to respond to this comment by Sam MacDonald: Yes. If we could only go back to my childhood, when there were accurate, realistic portrayals of the American middle class, such as the Jeffersons, Silver Spoons, Dallas, Dynasty,…

Normalizing the Upper-Middle-Class in Movies and Television

Alyssa Rosenberg worries that the introduction of characters like Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt – the replacement for Charlie Sheen’s character on Two and a Half Men – could ‘normalize’ the very wealthy: The thing that’s annoying about having a very rich character (it doesn’t sound from this description like Kutcher’s character will have lost his…

“The Harrow and the Harvest”: Weep No More My Lady

(I’m writing about Gillian Welch’s The Harrow and the Harvest until I feel like stopping.  But really, you should listen to the music more than you should pay attention to me.) Bob Dylan isn’t the only thematic influence on The Harrow and the Harvest: “Hard Times” riffs on the songs and world of Stephen Foster, re-imagined a century and…

Tits! Swords! Edginess!

(Editor’s note: Erik’s praise for “Game of Thrones” drew me out of semi-retirement. Bear with me) One of the problems with easing constraints on a creative medium is that creators are inevitably tempted to prove their boundary-pushing bona fides. Cable television has been widely hailed as this decade’s dominant cultural force, but I can think…

Super Bowl Open Thread

I don’t have a real rooting interest, but I am anticipating a great game. My tentative pick: Steelers over Packers, 28-24. Feel free to throw out any predictions, gambling tips, or jokes at Ben Roethlisberger’s expense in the comments. We may finagle a prize for anyone who guesses the final score before kickoff (Unlimited guest…

Gene Wolfe interviewed

Interesting stuff from the one of the League’s favorite science fiction writers. Of particular note is his pessimistic conservatism (“The government in Home Fires is doing the thing that I expect them to do now at any minute: to grab hold of General Motors and General Electric and whatnot, and say, ‘You’ve got to hire…

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite Christmas song, but O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is way up there. A close second is Silent Night, which my three-year-old calls Silent Goodnight and sings along with me many nights. Then again, I’m a terrible Christmas carol fanatic. I’m the guy who starts listening to them after…

The Political Football: Cynical Collapses and Redemptive Comebacks

Joe Lieberman endorsed John McCain for President almost exactly three years ago, at a time when McCain’s shots at the GOP nomination were widely dismissed as DOA because of his reputation as a “moderate,” and as a “maverick” willing to stand up to his party’s right-wing base.  McCain’s popular reputation was that he was a man…

Little Match Girl Passion.

What I like most about the An die Musik performance space in Baltimore is the low stage, which to me represents the basic spirit of the place. It’s no more than two feet high, and it extends wall-to-wall across the full forty-or-so foot width of the yellow room. There’s no curtain, for this stage is…

Defending Basketball Mysticism

I know I should be talking about Four Loko or Thomas Friedman’s latest column on the horrors of deliberative democracy, but the start of a really compelling NBA season demands some sports blogging. Despite a pathological hatred for pretty much everything related to numbers, I find advanced basketball statistics pretty interesting. Part of this can…

Ludwig und Yeezy.

I’m at my desk listening to the new Kanye West album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I’m not going to argue with the pop critic consensus: it’s good. When the staff of the music review website Pitchfork named rap duo Outkast’s “B.O.B.” the best track of the last decade, they praised the song for its…

Bread & Circuses: A mini-review of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I finished the third installment of The Hunger Games last night, Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, and my goodness what a read. All three books are absurdly intense page-turners bound to keep one up far past one’s appropriate bedtime. If you are married and both spouses are reading these at the same time, prepare for some…

How Boys Learn to Read

Great op-ed from The Wall Street Journal: The appearance of the boy-girl literacy gap happens to coincide with the proliferation of video games and other electronic forms of entertainment over the last decade or two. Boys spend far more time “plugged in” than girls do. Could the reading gap have more to do with competition…

“Nuclear chivalry.”

As many have said before, it’s no coincidence that in the world of Hollywood blockbusters the last decade has been the decade of the superhero film. In the nineties our blockbusters brought us fantasy about the apocalyptic near-destruction of society. In the country’s most globally dominant decade, it was as if our only possible challengers…