Michael Maiello's picture

    Science Factions

    Hey, wow.  This fall, a movie version of Ender's Game is coming out.  It's based on a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, originally drafted in 1977, when I was 2 years old.  I read it in high school and I really liked it.  It's the story of Ender Wiggin, tormented at battle school as part of his training to become the ultimate weapon that saves humanity of a nasty enemy from space called "The Buggers," who remain mysterious in the first book and are explored later in the series.  

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    In Praise of the Writing Binge

    When I got my first job, I also got a book of advice for new professors. It gave me some sensible-sounding advice about writing. Avoid binge writing, it said. Write at regularly scheduled hours and keep each session brief. Too many graduate students are used to writing in crazy binges, the authors said, rather than developing steady writing habits. Faculty had to learn to write all the time, and also had to learn to STOP writing even if things were going well. And I tried to take that advice seriously.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby is a Triumph (whether you like it or not)

    Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a fable.  It is not a fable now, years after it was written.  Fitzgerald structured it as a fable and intended it to be read as such.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    A Short Guide to Bad Oscar Hosts

    Seth MacFarlane hosted a slow-motion catastrophe of an Oscars broadcast Sunday night. His terrible performance immediately sparked two internet conversations: one about what a terrible Oscars host Seth MacFarlane was, and a second about who had, if anyone, been an even more terrible Oscars host.

    Ramona's picture

    Me at the Oscars: Fabulous or Fizzle, 60 years and Counting

    When the first televised Academy Awards ceremony took place on March 19, 1953, I, a bedazzled 15-year-old movie fan, sat in front of our black and white TV set, riveted and no doubt pledging to never forget that moment as long as I lived.   Since then I have never (and I mean NEVER) missed a telecast.

    Ramona's picture

    Oh, no. Sybil

    I've started a new non-political blog at WordPress and this is one of my posts there.  Come on over and check it out!

    Oh, no.  Sybil

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your New Year's Public Domain Report: 2013

    It's January 1, which means it's the day that works whose copyright has expired enter the public domain. Here's the list of works that entered the public domain in the United States today:

    Nothing. Nada. Not a thing.

    Vertigo is not the greatest film of all time (but La Regle du jeu just might be)

    Every ten years the British magazine Sight and Sound polls various cineastes to learn what they consider to be the greatest movie of all time. In 2012, Alfred Hithcock's Vertigo unseated Orson Welles' Citizen Kane which had been selected first in each poll conducted since 1962.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Philip Roth Has Retired

    At 78, Roth says he hasn't written anything of substance in 3 years and that 2010's Nemesis will have been his last novel.  Oddly enough, I picked up

    Ramona's picture

    On Writing Free and Brave


    I had a bout with bronchial pneumonia this week, which left me breathless enough to now be able to cross "ambulance ride" off of my bucket list.  I spent two days in the hospital and, while I feel almost human again, a strange thing has happened.  When I sit down to write, I'm finding that the last thing I want to write about is the current political situation.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Big Keep (Or, Intellectual Property Blues: Hard-Boiled Edition)

       Raymond Chandler’s legendary private eye, Philip Marlowe, will be back in bookstores next year. Chandler’s estate has authorized a new Marlowe novel from John Banville, alias Benjamin Black. But the real news is not that Banville gets to write the book. It’s that no one else is allowed to write one.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Weekend Reading, Labor Day Edition

    What better novel for Labor Day weekend than Joshua Ferris's brilliant debut, And Then We Came to the End? It's truly the Labor-Day read for our time. It's formally masterful its first-person-plural narration, with a collective officeplace "we" who does the narrating, like this:

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Weekend Reading, August 24: Back to School

    Well, it's that time of year. Fall classes are about to begin, or have begun, and I'm definitely sure I saw at least one batch of red leaves this week.

    So, with that anticipatory autumn sadness in the air, my book recommendation this week is Paul Murray's novel Skippy Dies, set in an Irish high school. If the title hasn't spoiled it for you already, the title character meets his demise in the first few pages:

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Weekend Reading, August 10: Occupy Mars!

    I'm going to start a semi-regular series of "recommended weekend reading" posts. My recommendations will inevitably be all over the place, and I don't expect to focus on anything except things I happen to like. Ideally, each installment would have both a book recommendation and a link to a short story or poem available (with the author's permission) on the web.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Moving The Needle With Spike Lee

    I just read David Denby's lukewarm review of Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer (subscription required) in which Denby calls the movie a failure but praises Lee as being one of the few filmmakers out there who would ask the kind of question about faith that he posed in the movie.  I haven't seen the movie and don't know that I will.  I don't watch every Spike Lee Joint the way I watch every movie made by Woody Allen.  But I do pay attention to him and some of his earlier films, especiall

    The Dark Knight Rises

    On the strength of Mary Ann Johanson's 4-star review of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises in the Monterey Weekly, http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/2012/jul/19/dark-knight-rises/, I did something for the first time since the releases of Gran Torino and Mystic River, I bought a ticket to see a non-arthouse film. Given Johanson's expansive rave, I was expecting not only a cinematographic tour-de-force of but also scathing social commentary decrying the overlordship of New York, er Gotham, City by financial robber barons.

    Instead, I suffered through a bombastic, repetitive, over-long, and occasionally incoherent fascist fantasy. I have not seen the first two Dark Knights, so at least some of my confusion may be due to unfamiliarity with details in the previous films. To be fair, I'll concentrate here on my problems with Dark Knight Rises that could not result from ignorance of its predecessors and conclude with a critique of its retrograde politics.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Batman Movie Shooting

    Last night, twelve people died in senseless gun violence at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

    Batman, of course, is a character who is a lunatic vigilante, and so some crazy people identify with that fantasy figure in the wrong way. Batman is also a character who has lost his parents to senseless gun violence. (They were killed on a family outing to the movies.) It's an authoritarian vigilante fantasy about stopping people from shooting each other.


    Latest Comments