Everything is (Dis)Connected

Everything is (Dis)Connected

28

Jan

2017

Ever since the early days of film and television, the question has been asked:  how much fidelity does an adaptation owe to its source material?  I don't think there's any one useful answer to this question. there have been exceedingly faithful adaptations that have been wonderful (John Huston's version of The Maltese Fa ...
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The Party of What People?

The Party of What People?

30

Dec

2016

This will be my last entry of 2016.  Next year will begin, barring some unexpected act of fate, with the ascension to the presidency of Donald Trump, as dim-witted, incurious, crass, and crooked human being that has ever held public office in America.  Trump has spent the hours since the election staffing his White House ...
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Peace Won’t Pay the Rent

Peace Won’t Pay the Rent

27

Dec

2016

Joe Sacco's Palestine was first published in 1993 as a series of single-issue comic books, based on the author's trip to the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip towards the end of the First Intifada.  It was collected by Fantagraphics into a single edition in 1996, at a time when there seemed to be some cause for optim ...
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Content Farm

Content Farm

29

Nov

2016

The problem with writing a sequel to a legendary literary property is that it's almost impossible to do it right, and if you beat the odds and manage it, you won't get any of the credit.  For the original creator, the situation is already bad enough:  if your work is a success, fans will clamor for more of the same and cu ...
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Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

27

Nov

2016

Earlier this year, in a burst of post-holiday optimism, I signed up for one of those 'reading challenges' on GoodReads and set myself the goal of reading 25 books this year.  There was a time when this would have been simplicity itself; I used to read at least 50 books on the regular, more if I was out of a job (which happ ...
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La Nuit des Prolétaires

La Nuit des Prolétaires

20

Oct

2016

I've made no secret of the fact that I think of the Paris Commune as one of the pivotal events in human history.  It was not only one of the first, but still is one of the most audacious experiments in equality, freedom, and liberation from oppression that has ever taken place.  One of its most remarkable qualities of thi ...
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A Reason to Suffer

A Reason to Suffer

12

Sep

2016

Guilt has always been a major theme in noir fiction.  Everyone is guilty to some degree or another, and even if they aren't, what does being innocent get you?  Fate will always find a way to trip you up, so you might as well be guilty.  The flip side of this, though, is that everyone starts out innocent, and who ends up ...
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The Drug of Choice

The Drug of Choice

8

Sep

2016

I woke up this morning to have my vacation spoiled by lots of social media chatter about what a terrible job the American media, and in particular Matt Lauer (who is, I suppose, technically a journalist), did of handling Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last night.  Lauer was selected, by virtue of his familiarity to audie ...
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Shalom and the Jewish Jesus

Shalom and the Jewish Jesus

30

Aug

2016

Shalom Auslander got the best possible start on having a sickly fatalistic sense of humor:  he was a miserable Jew from the day he was born.As detailed in his highly entertaining 2007 memoir Foreskin's Lament, Auslander was raised a deeply unhappy Orthodox Jew in and around New York in the '70s and '80s.  Like many of th ...
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Learning to Left

Learning to Left

11

Aug

2016

Socialism has, to put it mildly, a bit of a bad reputation.This may sound like an absurd statement in this year of 2016, especially if you live your life on the internet.  It has only been a few years since socialist candidate Kshama Sawant won a spot on the Seattle City Council; and it was only last month that Hillary Cli ...
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You Can’t Refuse a Continent

You Can’t Refuse a Continent

5

Aug

2016

One of my historical obsessions is the Second World War and its immediate aftermath -- a period which directly shaped our current political climate, but which far too many people know very little about.  Almost everything we can learn about the current state of world affairs can be traced back to the political, cultural, a ...
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Dark Satanic Mills

Dark Satanic Mills

18

Jul

2016

We kill our idols at such an alarming rate, you'd think we could afford to replace them.  At a time when great artistic achievement is increasingly hard to find, we have been gripped with a mania for casting the few geniuses our culture manages to mint aside with great force, usually less because we find something flawed i ...
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To Save You From a Life of Need

To Save You From a Life of Need

11

Jul

2016

It takes a lot of nerve for anyone, let alone a Czech, to title a story "Mr. Kafka".  Finicky Franz casts such a huge shadow on the literature of Prague that it's audacious to the point of foolhardiness to invite the comparison.  But if anyone earned the right to do it in life, it was Bohumil Hrabal.  The Brno-born eccen ...
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No Last Philosophy: Rorty and Social Hope

No Last Philosophy:  Rorty and Social Hope

23

Jun

2016

When I finally got around to reading Richard Rorty’s Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, I experienced the kind of revolutionary bolt from the blue that changes minds and changes worlds.  I’d read Rorty before (a few short essays here and there, and his Objectivity, Truth and Relativism), and liked what I’d seen, but ...
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Third Booth on the Left

Third Booth on the Left

13

Jun

2016

"So, what do you guys sell?""Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.""Your average author isn't 83 years old and nearly dead, then?""Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.""Oh.  Okay.  But, I mean, you don't just do space operas based on the technical education of someone who was an undergraduate when Eisenow ...
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