Permission to Play Jazz

A holiday hiatus from the blogosphere was necessary so that I could gorge myself into blissful ham-induced catatonia. But in the New Year, my coma subsided and my naturally flowing narcissism returned, the blathering must blather! As Lawrence Olivier once said in response to being asked why actors desire to be actors, “Look at me look at me look at me look at me!”

Tuning the Ear

Though I wouldn’t consider all the books I’ve read during the initial months of The Pulitzer Project to be heightened text, they do present a language that is not my own and like the audience at the Royal Shakespeare Company, I do spend a bit of time tuning my ear to the structure and rhythms of the writer. Some voices require more tuning than others, but I usually get there in the first fifty pages or so.

Hamsters and Charlatans

Or so my pretentious little acorn perceived. So I wrote lofty essays on the virtues of giving up our handheld mindsuckers. Of all the time I gained back. Skipping with toddlers through fields of daisies and lollipops and Renoirian picnics. 

Art and Artist

My apologies for sullying the ethereal refuge of Rivendell with non-Middle Earth problems, but that elvish cynicism has been ricocheting around in my gourd since the Weinstein scandal began quaking through Hollywood leaving numerous gilded idols wobbling on their plinths.

Different Results

Since August of 2015, I have had what is commonly disparaged as a dumbphone, a technological museum piece that’s roughly the size of a computer mouse but frothing with stupidity. With a battery life of a solar calculator and the texting ease of a psychotic gerbil with no thumbs, I’m in the market for another hopefully slightly more intelligently designed device with which to order pizza.

Most dumbphones are designed by zombie weasels, so I don’t expect a transcendent user experience, but something must give. This phone bloweth chunks, and I hate its face.

Artistic Injuries

That’s what they did over there in that cozy little building, right? Lounge on enormous armchairs, their feet up on equally plush ottomans, sipping fine coffees and savoring whatever bit of prose fancied them that day. Right? Why did I waste a year in biology when I could have been wrapped in a quilt, puffing some aromatic flake, and looking down the bridge of my nose through the desperate Scottish countryside?

The Art of Being Here

Life was suddenly beautiful laughing children and a wife who gets more interesting and gorgeous and lovely every day. Life was suddenly taking my kids out at dusk to get a little more swinging in before bath time, the September sun setting over the browning cornfield that borders our backyard.

The Pulitzer Prize Project

I’ve always wanted to be known as well-read even though I have little clue what that actually means. My father was often referred to as such after trouncing us all in rounds of Trivial Pursuit, until we realized of course that the version of the game we were playing came out before many of us were even born, and we were decidedly and defensibly at a generational disadvantage. Regrettably, Trivial Pursuit has yet to incorporate a handicap structure, despite my many imagined angry letters.

Amounting to Something More than Jack Squat

In some some dark self-depreciative corner of my psyche where self-worth is a fart joke punchline, I never expected the piece to come to anything of substance and was preparing myself for the ultimate guilt I would feel after raising so much money for research purposes. I worked in finance for a while and concern for one's return on investment is ever before me.

Best reads in 2016

Easily one of the best WWII novels I've ever put my fingers to. Utterly engrossing. I left it knowing every dusty, bomb-blasted corner of Saint-Malo, but in the tactile/auditory/olfactory way Marie-Laure was forced to learn it. A tale of hope and perseverance. Of love and conscience. Doerr apparently spent a decade writing it and this careful approach shows. Also, it won the Pulitzer! So, yeah!

Phantom vibration syndrome

I checked Facebook at the dinner table instead of engaging my children about their day, thereby defeating the point of family meals. I spent too much time in the bathroom reading articles that didn't matter, losing precious minutes to play with my kids and connect with my wife. And I stared into its glowing screen at some mindless triviality instead of allowing my mind and soul to relax into that soft lull in time that happens right before bed. I was in short a slave to my device. It did not serve me. I served it.

The power of Christ compels me... to watch this demon movie.

My wife and I are suckers for exorcism narratives probably because there's something euphoric about distilling evil down to its worst possible base and then conquering it with some great religious/existential truth -- as if all those felt board stories you were told as a child in Sunday school were actually true -- even if your teacher had composition issues.

A sanctimonious response to 'The Exorcist' (TV Series)

Now I don't know about you. But I like my fictional or "based on true events" demons to be awful. No milquetoast white collar demons here, sir. Give the supernaturally inclined viewing public what they want -- a fiend worth exorcising! There may be demons out there whose sole existential purpose is to make you eat lots of butter. I personally am possessed by an entire legion of buttery flaky tormentors and exactly no one should worry about my saturated, glistening soul.

Taylor Swift is reincarnated Gene Tierney and the unsung ten second brilliance of Kathleen Howard

Much like the January to March season in which every film released to theaters is a guaranteed pile of salted garbage (few exceptions), streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu seem to have periods of oscillation between critically acclaimed releases and Tori Spelling straight-to-DVD horrors -- not necessarily confined to a first quarter graveyard they can strike at any time and at Tara Reid levels of terrible.

We aren't in one now thank the digital gods, but we were fairly recently. And it was in that Segal-esque entertainment choke hold that I discovered a trove of wonderful old movies buried deep in the streaming hinterlands beneath the dead and rotting career of Kirk Cameron.

Does Dolores dream of electric sheep? (No spoilers)

The two most common critiques of the "Westworld" pilot are a) the concept has been explored ad nauseam and b) the show drops to ontological depths too onerous to attract the GoT audience HBO wishes to retain after Martin ritually executes the population of Westeros. 

To which I reply... are you freakin' kidding me?

Québécois Ennui

Still Life by Louise Penny, the first in the Inspector Gamache series is a tight-knit whodunit... if you're Canadian. If you're an American, it's a meandering whogivesadump about a septuagenarian who gets offed during her morning stroll.