William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Michael Des Barres documentary travels from Live Aid to Alf

    The upcoming documentary "Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me to Be?" began exactly 30 years ago. That's when a 14-year-old J. Elvis Weinstein watched Live Aid - the mega-concert created to raise funds for to help the Ethiopian famine. The Duran Duran off-shoot band Power Station helped kicked off the festivities, but without lead singer Robert Palmer.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Seveneves: A Short Review of a Long Book

    By sheer coincidence, I finished Neal Stephenson's Seveneves a couple of days before learning that two friends from college, including the former managing editor of The Daily Lobo, our independent school paper, were in town.  Back in the 1990s, the staff of our paper passed around copies of Stephenson's Snow Crash, a witty send-up of the cyber-punk genre.  We loved that book. 

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Age of Marvel

    I haven't seen Avengers: Age of Ultron yet, but there's no doubt that will happen.  I actually haven't seen the second Captain America either.  Parenthood will do that.  But I have seen most of the Marvel movies, I watch Agents of Shield and just finished Daredevil on Netflix.  I know what all the plans for the Marvel cinematic universe are and I know the term "Marvel cinematic universe."

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    No, Colleges Still Require Shakespeare

    You may have seen news stories, timed for Shakespeare's more-or-less birthday, claiming that top American colleges have stopped requiring Shakespeare. This is not news (nothing about college requirements has changed lately), and not really true.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Leonard Nimoy Open Thread

    I admit, it hits me whenever somebody from the original cast dies and I'll probably feel the same way about Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager.

    The whole Star Trek vision and, believe me, some of it has its problems, has always struck me as a bit of necessary hope in a society that can very easily turn cranky.  The whole show, and Nimoy embodied this, has always been about humanity overcoming its want for resources and its inane and unproductive tribalisms.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Fifty Shades of Mr. D.: The Unwritten Rules of Romance Fiction

    Hollywood is making some big Valentine's Day cash off Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie adapted from the first book of E. L. James's mommy-porn trilogy. Let me say right up front that I have not read these books, because life is too short for that. But, like every living human in the industrialized world, I've been bludgeoned with so much unrelenting chatter about these books that I can recap the general plot: buff young billionaire punishes and dominates sweet young virgin in his sex dungeon, but also everywhere else.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Surviving The Daily Show

    The Daily Show was obviously a great thing for American comedy.  At its best, it showed us what comedy can really do for society and reminded us why, in Shakespeare's King Lear, the Fool alone was able to speak truth to power.  The best moment for The Daily Show, to me, was when host Jon Stewart appeared as a guest on CNN's Crossfire in 2005 and so embarassed its host that CNN ultimately had to abandon the show.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your New Year's Public Domain Report, 2015

    I'm late with my annual public-domain update this year. But that's okay because yet again this year, nothing new entered the public domain this January 1. That's right, because of repeated extensions of the copyright laws in the US, no copyrights expired this year. Or last year. Or the year before. Almost none have since January 1, 1979.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Shakespeare "Authorship Debates" and Amateur Scholarship

    So, just in time to ruin my New Year's celebrations, Newsweek has seen fit to publish a credulous article trumpeting the old who-wrote-Shakespeare conspiracy theories. I won't give Newsweek a link, but you can click through Amanda Marcotte's smart takedown at Rawstory if you're curious.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Strategic Overview of J. Alfred Prufrock

    I reimagined The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as a PowerPoint presentation.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Review: The Death of Klinghoffer

    Last night, we went to see The Death of Klinghoffer at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.  We’re new to opera.  We went to our first show, La Boheme last month.  This exploration of a new, for me, art form is quite invigorating and so far the Met’s productions are top notch and the opera house at Lincoln Center is just a beautiful place to spend an evening.  As a matter of pure art, I am totally convinced by composer John Adams and I’d definitely jump at the chance to see Nixon in China or

    Michael Maiello's picture

    A Way Back Book Review: The Mouse That Roared

    When I was a kid, my dad had mentioned a book called The Mouse That Roared and for some reason, his description of the premise – a tiny nation captures a nuclear bomb that makes it the most powerful country on Earth – stuck with me.  He must have mentioned this thirty years ago, but a few weeks ago I found myself Googling for it and finding it long out of print.  I looked on Amazon and people wanted $130 for it.  Sometimes, though, it pays to go local.  I found it at The Strand for $9.  Well, definitely had to have it

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Short Century: A Novel of War and Taboo

    Thanks to The Lost and Found Show, I had the opportunity to read at Word Bookstore as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival this year.  Believe me, I was hilarious.  No, really.  I was funny.  But, beyond that, I met the author David Burr Gerrard and his debut novel Short Century. I just finished reading it and it was a bl

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Ken Burns and the Myth of Theodore Roosevelt

    The Roosevelts, a new PBS documentary by director Ken Burns, presents President Theodore Roosevelt as a political superhero. In photo after photo, Burns’s famous pan-and-zoom effect magnifies Roosevelt’s flashing teeth and upraised fist. The reverential narrator hails his fighting spirit and credits him with transforming the role of American government through sheer willpower. “I attack,” an actor blusters, imitating Roosevelt’s patrician cadence, “I attack iniquities.”

    Though exciting to watch, Burns’s cinematic homage muddles the history. Roosevelt was a great president and brilliant politician, but he was not the progressive visionary and fearless warrior that Burns lionizes. He governed as a pragmatic centrist and a mediator who preferred backroom deal-making to open warfare. At the time, many of his progressive contemporaries criticized him for excessive caution. The “I attack” quote, for example, came from a 1915 interview in which Roosevelt defended himself from accusations that he had been too conciliatory.

    Read the full article at New York Magazine's culture website, Vulture.com

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Book Review: Sharp Knives, Sharp Stories

    When I read really great fiction or watch a really good play or movie, whether it’s new or years old, I find that the work speaks to whatever is going on in the world.  That’s When The Knives Come Down, the debut collection of short stories by Dolan Morgan, certainly fits the bill.  Though the dozen story collection is diverse in narratives and tone, the common theme in all the stories is the relationship of people to place.  The w

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Robin Williams and Making Live Comedy Live

    Robin Williams was funny, lightning fast, and a gifted improviser, but what really set him apart as a comic was that he let his audiences share the experience of what doing standup comedy feels like. He didn't do that explicitly. It probably can't be done explicitly. But he did it, maybe better than anyone else ever has. It was the core of his gift, because a great comedian is not merely funny. A great comedian creates a relationship with the audience, and the relationship Williams created with his live audiences was something fundamental and profound.

    Ramona's picture

    North Carolina’s Gov picks a Poet-you know-Laureate

    A bit of a stink going on in North Carolina this week.  Nothing so serious that lives are at risk, but serious enough, in a state that prides itself on its ability to nurture and grow literary giants, that the story moved all the way up the Looky Here ladder to the New York Times.

    Ramona's picture

    Harper Lee: You Don’t Know Me

     More than 50 years ago Nelle Harper Lee wrote a book called “To Kill a Mockingbird”.   It was her one and only book and it is a masterpiece, but the story behind it has always been a tantalizing enigma.

    Through the years there have been rumors that her best friend and neighbor, Truman Capote, edited her writing so much, by rights he actually wrote it.

     

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Jaws and Climate Denial

    There is no better Fourth of July movie for my money than Jaws. I would watch it at least twice every Independence Day weekend if that wouldn't bore and annoy my spouse. It was designed and filmed so carefully that time has transformed it into a beautifully accurate period piece, capturing the New England beaches of my 1970s childhood in loving detail. Time has also turned it into something else it was not originally meant to be: a parable about the dangers of denying climate change.

    Ramona's picture

    Thank You, Maya Angelou, for Your Magical Words. And for Being You.

     

    We got word that Maya Angelou died today.  When her picture flashed on the TV this morning I held my breath, hoping it wasn't bad news.  When they announced that she was gone, I shouldn't have been shocked, considering her age (86) and ill health, but it took me a few minutes because it never occurred to me that she might someday leave this earth.
     

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