Sound and Fury

          I thought I was going deaf. Selectively deaf, only to the dialogue of certain films. Leaning forward or cranking the volume (which sometimes only made it worse) I seriously considered turning on those stupid subtitles. Then I happened onto an article that assured me the film industry acknowledges the problem. […]

Some Animals Are More Equal: A Review of State Funeral

    A fascinating 2019 documentary called State Funeral is available now on MUBI, but be forewarned: the film literally moves at the speed of a dirge, as it shows the public funeral of Joseph Stalin, who died March 5, 1953. The footage of grief-stricken crowds used by director Sergei Loznitsa came from “tens of […]

Make It a Double, Robot

    If you needed proof that we have lost our soul, just head to a bar that has lost its bartender—to a robot. In times of loneliness, sorrow, or despair, some people go to church, and some go to a bar. Those working behind that stretch of polished wood need all the patience possessed […]

101st Airborne Flyover Under Investigation

    A few months ago I asked the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles, if I could ride around with their Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) for a week, in order to write about the helicopters and a historical anniversary for the Division. The 101st is an Air Assault division now (helicopters used for combat troop […]

Play Is a Form of Respect

    A three-part humanities lecture about play, with wine and hors d’oeuvres on the last evening? I cleared my calendar. For years I have grumbled that the world of ideas is too dour. This year’s speaker, Ian Bogost, invents games. He wrote a book called Play Anything. His cultural commentary for The Atlantic is […]

And Pioneering the Concert of the Future Is . . . ABBA??

    I am conflicted about many things, but I never thought an old Swedish pop band would be one of them. Nonetheless, ABBA is about to hold a concert—based on its first new studio album in forty years—with digital avatars. For whatever reason (vanity? Old hurts? Good sense?) the four members of ABBA did […]

Julia: Portrait of a Life Lived Well

    The new documentary Julia works to explain why Julia Child still matters culturally, both as the first TV-chef icon and as a feminist who paved the way in two sexist fields: professional cooking and media. The film is directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, who were nominated for an Academy Award in […]

There Is More Than One Way to Live a Beautiful Life

              It all started when Sr. Noeleen insisted I end my agonized-over, emo high school graduation speech with “Mispah.” Mis-what? She was smiling, her thin, stern face alight with triumph. I sulked, bristling without even knowing what the stupid Hebrew word meant. “May the Lord be between you and […]

Gratitude Comes Hard to Us

    Thanksgiving is here, and we who invented the holiday are squirming as usual. We have been subjected to a series of (usually commercial) exhortations to be grateful (and show it by buying something). Pop psychology has tossed a lot of mawkish reflection in the same direction, insisting we make gratitude lists and feel […]