“I may presently change, not only by chance, but also by intention.” —Montaigne   We called him Cowboy, and he wore the hat and talked the lingo and slid a gun into his drawer in the newsroom office. Which brought a few eye rolls, but in time, he grew on us, […]

Remembering Paul Schoomer

      With a big grin spread across his cherubic, bearded face, Paul Schoomer looked like a Jewish Santa Claus. Instead of carrying a sack of toys, he would fill a shopping bag with books you did not know you needed. Serious books. Sure, Paul’s Books offered best-sellers, coffee-table tomes, and children’s books, but […]

Books Save the Queen

      “I’ve been longing to ask you about the writer Jean Gent,” Queen Elizabeth said chattily to the president of France. “Homosexual and jailbird, was he nevertheless as bad as he was painted? Or, more to the point,” and she took up her soup spoon, “was he as good?” That bit of dialogue […]

A Little Originality, Anyone?

      “Write what you know,” the old saw buzzes, setting my teeth on edge. Where is the fun in that? The stuff I already know is the stuff I mutter when somebody falls short. This is not an attractive trait. Even fiction should be an exploration, it seems to me, and your characters […]

Emmett Till: The Horror Never Ended

      The new film Till takes us back to the lynching of an innocent fourteen-year-old and the maternal outrage that lit a match to the civil rights movement. Percival Everett’s riveting new novel The Trees, funny as hell and just as fierce, uses the same piece of history to torch the bigotry that […]

Seeing a Friend on the Silver Screen

    The same month I started writing here, four years ago, an old friend moved his art business to Los Angeles so he could get more “theatrical” (narrative film) and commercial work as an actor, which is his second job and main ambition. He calculated it would take him seven years to get significant […]

Slow Birding

      As a baby, Joan Strassmann heard the sweet chirps of house sparrows nesting beneath the eaves. As a child, she spotted birds on hikes with her father, a German refugee and outdoor enthusiast. Once armed with her own binoculars, she was startled by the electric blue of an indigo bunting. And when […]

Wakanda Forever is a Bad Film but an Important One

      The much-anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, sequel to the wildly successful Black Panther (2018) is not a good film. First, it is too long. At two-and-a-half hours, this bloated spectacle feels labored and poorly conceived. Movies of this sort, action-laden and loaded with special effects, that are long (over two hours) generally […]

Another Bit about Freedom: Lottery Version

    I was in the library when I heard the young man talking on the phone:   “I got our one-billion-dollar lottery ticket, so I feel like we have to be prepared. ‘What would you do?’ my wife asked me, but to be honest I’ve been a little lost. “It sounds flippant, but I […]