Foundational Essays

Recent Essays

  • Remembering Gene Wilder
    There is a wonderful story in Remembering Gene Wilder about making The Producers. Brooks worked on it for years before getting it off the ground, and he’d wanted the not-at-all-famous Gene Wilder to be Leo Bloom after seeing him on stage and doing a reading of the first scenes. But when Zero Mostel was cast… Read more: Remembering Gene Wilder
  • Inside Out 2
    My children grew up with Pixar and they carry with them the natural love we have for the things we cherished when young. But it’s not as if taking my daughters to Pixar movies was some kind of penance. Between 1999 when my first daughter was born and 2010, Pixar produced one of the greatest… Read more: Inside Out 2
  • Rebranding Atheism
    A recent essay by Benjamin Cain on Medium got me thinking about something that, to be honest, I don’t spend much time on – religion. Cain’s essay is a convincing takedown of John Vervaeke’s nontheism as a real alternative to atheism. Vervaeke claims that atheists and theist share a common conception of the sacred — a conception… Read more: Rebranding Atheism
  • Finally, the Election We Deserve
    For most of my adult life I, like most Americans, have found myself, as the minute hand nears the top of that great four-year election clock, wondering why we can’t do better. Compared to what the nation seemed capable of, the two politicians chosen for the top job have ranged from wildly disappointing to laughably… Read more: Finally, the Election We Deserve
  • Too Old (or Too Comfortable) for Romantic Love
    About two months ago I picked up J.M. Coetzee’s The Pole — a compact story of late life romantic love. I enjoyed it so much I immediately went on to Waiting for the Barbarians and then Disgrace. You know you’ve enjoyed a story when, after finishing, you immediately find another by the same author. But that second book can be… Read more: Too Old (or Too Comfortable) for Romantic Love
  • Godzilla Minus One
    I’m not a Godzilla fan though I’ll admit to a soft-spot for Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla. So I came to GMO with mixed expectations. The reviews were sterling. The franchise not so much. And when all was said and done and Tokyo was saved, I leaned toward the reviews. The best parts of Godzilla Minus… Read more: Godzilla Minus One
  • Bob Marley: One Love
    When it comes to Bob Marley, I’m of that typical class of loose fan who know next to nothing about someone except their most famous work. From that perspective, One Love will both reward and frustrate you. Kingsley Ben-Adir (impossibly handsome and showing none of the real-world mileage of Marley) is damn good: charismatic, funny,… Read more: Bob Marley: One Love
  • Remembering Lives: Blueberry Bushes and Guava Pastries
    We tend to memorialize two kinds of lives: big public lives and the lives that are closest to us. Both make perfect sense. Most big lives matter a little bit to a lot of people. The people we know matter a lot, but only to us. No one would think it wrong to memorialize the… Read more: Remembering Lives: Blueberry Bushes and Guava Pastries
  • The Blue Angels
    Can a documentary that is exactly what you expected ever be good? The Blue Angels is here to answer that question – at least if you love spectacular flying and wildly gung-ho fliers. All that’s missing is the Top Gun Anthem and Take My Breath Away. But hey, you do get “The Blue Angel Creed”… Read more: The Blue Angels
  • Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
    Nobody seems to give a damn about politeness. Until, that is, they are treated rudely, ignored, made to feel ignorant or displaced, or pushed aside in a queue. Then, suddenly, we see all too clearly how much we appreciate polite society. Those moments do not translate into the world of ideas, where “polite society” is a… Read more: Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue

Asides

  • Remembering Gene Wilder
    There is a wonderful story in Remembering Gene Wilder about making The Producers. Brooks worked on it for years before getting it off the ground, and he’d wanted the not-at-all-famous Gene Wilder to be Leo Bloom after seeing him on stage and doing a reading of the first scenes. But… Read more: Remembering Gene Wilder
  • Too Old (or Too Comfortable) for Romantic Love
    About two months ago I picked up J.M. Coetzee’s The Pole — a compact story of late life romantic love. I enjoyed it so much I immediately went on to Waiting for the Barbarians and then Disgrace. You know you’ve enjoyed a story when, after finishing, you immediately find another by the same author. But… Read more: Too Old (or Too Comfortable) for Romantic Love
  • Godzilla Minus One
    I’m not a Godzilla fan though I’ll admit to a soft-spot for Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla. So I came to GMO with mixed expectations. The reviews were sterling. The franchise not so much. And when all was said and done and Tokyo was saved, I leaned toward the reviews. The… Read more: Godzilla Minus One
  • Bob Marley: One Love
    When it comes to Bob Marley, I’m of that typical class of loose fan who know next to nothing about someone except their most famous work. From that perspective, One Love will both reward and frustrate you. Kingsley Ben-Adir (impossibly handsome and showing none of the real-world mileage of Marley)… Read more: Bob Marley: One Love
  • The Blue Angels
    Can a documentary that is exactly what you expected ever be good? The Blue Angels is here to answer that question – at least if you love spectacular flying and wildly gung-ho fliers. All that’s missing is the Top Gun Anthem and Take My Breath Away. But hey, you do… Read more: The Blue Angels
  • Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
    Nobody seems to give a damn about politeness. Until, that is, they are treated rudely, ignored, made to feel ignorant or displaced, or pushed aside in a queue. Then, suddenly, we see all too clearly how much we appreciate polite society. Those moments do not translate into the world of ideas,… Read more: Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
  • American Fiction
    It would be hard to imagine a more convincing send-up of modern leftist attitudes on race than American Fiction. Every moment of the plot that focuses on My Pafology (or Fuck as it comes to be called) is laugh out loud funny and spot on. Cutting without being cruel and… Read more: American Fiction
  • Is Love a Virtue?
    Virtue theories are the only strand of modern ethical thinking that makes much sense in light of cognitive science. Utilitarian calculus becomes a funhouse of infinite regress in a world where experience changes both who we are and what we value. It didn’t take cognitive science to cast doubt on… Read more: Is Love a Virtue?
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
    “Saigon. Shit. I’m only still in Saigon.” There was a time when I knew almost every line of dialogue in Apocalypse Now but it’s been a few years since I last watched it. The director’s cut currently on Max is NOT the best version. It’s larded down with two extended… Read more: Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Anselm
    It was Wim Wenders not Anselm Kiefer that drew me to watch the documentary Anselm. I knew next to nothing about his work and, if I had known, probably wouldn’t have been that big a fan. But Wenders’ uses the camera to get inside Anselm’s work and make you experience… Read more: Anselm

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