Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Shakespeare Wasn't Perfect

    So The Atlantic has seen fit to publish more "Shakespeare authorship" conspiracy-mongering, this time masquerading as feminism by proposing a female candidate. But the piece doesn't quote even a single line of the real poetry that woman wrote. It can't, of course, because that would give the game away.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Never a Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren

    book cover

    I'm hoping you all remember friend of Dagblog, Colin Asher, who has spent the last seven years working on a literary biography of Nelson Algren, once one of the most famous and celebrating working novelists in the United States and always a solid progressive and friend to the working class.

    I haven't read Colin's book yet, but I have read the article in The Believer that was the genesis of the project.  Colin's onto something big here, perhaps one of the last untold stories of McCarthyism.  He's also a terrific writer and this is going to be a great introduction to Algren's work for a lot of us.  It's not every day you get to discover a lost novelist of quality.

    The book's been getting great reviews, including five stars from Publisher's Weekly and serious treatment from The Nation and The New Yorker.

    You can make Algren spin in heaven by purchasing this book from Jeff Bezos.  Such is life.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Alas for Gene Wolfe

    Gene Wolfe, one of the greatest of science-fiction writers, has passed away. His work was subtle and superb. Wolfe wrote paragraphs you could lose yourself in, like a labyrinth, and come out a changed person on the other side. He thought profoundly about what story-telling means as few other writers have. He was honored inside the genre and sometimes outside it, but deserved far more honor in both places. Any account of 20th-century American literature that omits Gene Wolfe is incomplete.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your Public Domain Day Report, 2019: YES!!!

    Today, at last, is Public Domain Day in the United States. For the first time in decades, some American copyrights were actually allowed to expire naturally, a mere thirty-nine years later than planned. So after years of blogging, every January first, about what wasn't entering public domain and what would have entered public domain under earlier laws, I can finally blog about what is entering public domain.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    My First Short Story in a While

    As previously mentioned, I have a new short story out this month: my first in 21 years. I am very happy about this. And, as promised, here's a taste and a link to the full piece. I hope you enjoy it.

    The thing that broke your heart was, he could still fly. Nothing else to call it. There he was in those silly clothes, going wherever he pleased and not falling, as if gravity were just some tired social pretense and he’d grown too old to bother. But it wasn’t the same.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Dag Needs Some Culture

    I know most of you know Natasha Gural, friend to Dagblog and delightful political radical.  What you may not know is she is one of the best writers about art and culture out there today, and has for too long been without a venue.  Well, no more.  Natasha was selected to join the Forbes contributor network and will be writing as many as seven stories a month about art and the art world.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Writing Short Fiction, Then and Now

    I used to write short stories. Then, for many reasons, I stopped writing fiction. Today I had my first story published in more than twenty years. (It will be posted on the web in two weeks, and I will link to it then. If you can't wait, the issue's for sale here.) More stories may be along; we'll see. If it takes another twenty-one years, I'll have something to look forward to in 2039.

    It's a little strange returning to an art form after two decades away. One of the things it means is that in my old stories, no one has e-mail. Most people didn't. Or cell phones. Any temptation to dredge up old pieces is held at bay by the fact that they've become historical fiction.

    So what else has changed?

    Ramona's picture

    Why It Means Something When De Niro Says It

    You could spend many wasteful hours going back through at least 30 years of my public utterances--blogs, essays, articles, comments--but you'll never find an F-bomb in any of them. That's not me. It's not my most hated word--that would be the C-word--but it's right up there.

    Bronze Medal: why can't I change my skin?

    Set off by Vogue & Gigi Hadid's "scandal" over a bronzed up photo shoot, I'm amazed by what we can or cannot do. I can go to a tanning salon or the Bahamas to get as dark as can be, put on Smokey Eye and that's presumably fine. I can go into plastic surgery and give myself tits, tighter abs, a smooth face, almond eyes with a pert nose, and of course do my hair style in whatever manner or color (presumably - maybe some are off limits). If I transition to a woman, people will be supporting my right to use other bathrooms and not be discriminated against, and gender and sexual preference is a matter of what I "identify" with. If I dress up as an outrageous transvestite woman as Rudy Giuliani did, I'd just be a good sport, showing solidarity with LGBTQ. The Village People could costume up as whatever as part of the fun. De Niro could tubby up superfat to play Jake La Motta, and Daniel Day-Lewis could get in line with the intricacies and nuances of Cerebral Palsy to play Christy Brown, while dressing drag was the key plot device in Academy winners Some Like It Hot and Mrs. Doubtfire.

    But as a high school girl discovered, it's not okay to put on a Chinese dress (unless willing to take 1000's of Twitter condemnations). As kids are discovering, it's not okay to be Pocahantas on Halloween. As Gigi Hadid found out, fake tans are only allowed so far before "appropriation" kicks in. Presumably Adam & the Ants could never regroup and keep the  Indian  Native American regalia. Rachel Dolezal discovered that "identifying as black" wasn't enough, even though she followed that up with action & involvement.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Don Corleone's Guide to Attorney-Client Privilege

    So the President of the United States is very concerned, and very confused, about attorney-client privilege. Let me try to explain, using the example of Tom Hagen from The Godfather. Why The Godfather? Two reasons. First, I want to. Second, I have a terrible suspicion that some of Trump's misunderstanding comes from watching the Godfather movies. (He does love TV.) Trump reportedly believes any meeting that has a lawyer in the room is protected by attorney-client privilege, and oh my sweet God is that not true.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Striving Over Surviving

    Striving Over Surviving

    Danny Cardwell

    By Simba Sana

    Agate Publishing, 260 pp.,

    It would be easy to categorize “Never Stop” as a postmodern Horatio Alger novel set in an urban community. This memoir has all the ingredients of a rag to riches story. But such a reading has the potential to render all of the pain, failure, and life lessons chronicled throughout its 260 pages invisible. This isn’t fiction. Each shattered life and every violent death can be traced to an easily locatable time in place in our not too distant past.

    Simba Sana’s childhood could be described as catastrophic. His father was a no show. He was raised by a single mother with mental health issues. He grew up in Washington, D.C., at a time when crack was replacing PCP as the drug of choice, and guns were replacing fistfights as the preferred method for settling disputes. He survived a gauntlet of racial and socioeconomic pitfalls that consumed many of his peers. Any of these obstacles could have derailed or ended his life before he attended Gonzaga College High School and then Mount Saint Mary’s University. 

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    For Le Guin

    Ursula K. Le Guin was my hero. Urusla K. Le Guin is my hero still. She is gone from this world, and only her words are left to us. Those words are marvels.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your Public Domain Report for 2018

    Hey gang! It's time for Public Domain Day again, where we list all of the music, film, books, and other pieces of art leaving copyright today. And here's that list again, just like last year:

    Nothing. Nothing at all.

    Happy New Year.

    Although the Framers of the Constitution only gave Congress power to grant copyrights and patents "for a limited time," repeated extensions have made sure that nothing has entered the public domain in the United States since January 1, 1979. Today makes nearly forty years since that happened.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Never Trust an Action Hero: Star Wars' Lost Politics

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi has hit the cineplex and begun raking in the customary astronomical profits. But the film has some angry detractors among hard-core Star Wars fans (a minority, I think, but a loud one) who complain bitterly that The Last Jedi is unfaithful to the Star Wars tradition. I'm not going to talk about the new movie here, and I'm going to do my best to delete discussion of it in comments (no spoilers!) for at least the next week. But I'd like to talk about the old Star Wars movies, the originals and the prequels, and the ambiguity that George Lucas tried, but failed, to give them.

    Hef & the Culture Wars

    There are a million words to be written about the misogyny of Hugh Hefner's mission, many already being jotted down. There's a lot of humor and contempt to be had still for a grown man that liked hanging around in PJs far into adulthood. There's something to be said for his early civil rights support, as testified by Dick Gregory and others. And that lead me to the territory I'd like to address, as it goes to the crux of our recent NFL morass, the need for BLM, last year's election, and a host of other issues.

    Hefner founded the Playboy Club in 1953, not in tinseltown as we recall today but in Chicago, the thriving center of the Midwest.in our still glorious post-war phase. It was a conservative place in a conservative era. It's easy to think of the 50's as some Happy Days thing, Richie Cunningham all fresh and speckled, I like Ike kind of lovely romance with paradise and God-given but deserved success. But most here know that dream of the suburbs and the lucky trip to Vegas was a hyped-up myth, that the house didn't pay out nearly as often as stated, that half the "lucky ones" strolling in and out were shills. And instead of carefully crafted Walt Disney features and Elvis rockumentaries, it was as much about Lenny Bruce and Last Exit to Brooklyn and Naked Lunch and the  National Guard called out to LIttle Rock to enforce integration and McCarthyism and tons of other foul stuff covered with a sanctimonious wholesome totally marketed image in a Golden age of marketing. This was "Family Values", aka "we're Christian and you're not".

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