Book of the Month

Donal's picture

Extinguishing Kinkade


My wife is a sometime painter. She's done a striking reinterpretation of a Georgia O'Keeffe flower, several flowers she photographed herself, and even a portrait of me (that never gets older). She works long and patiently on each canvas. Around 2002, maybe, we walked by a gallery, and she pointed and said, "Those are by Thomas Kinkade." "Who?" "The Painter of Light." "Oh." As I recall, they were very bright paintings of yellow flowers with sunlight streaming across them—helped by a few downlights. "So ... is it that all his paintings are brightly lit?" "Yeah, pretty much." They were good paintings—I've seen a lot worse in gallery windows—but I wondered about the pretentious nickname.

Kinkade was also known for his idyllic landscapes. Someone told me that there was some controversy because Kinkade didn't actually paint all the paintings he sold as "Kinkades." I love poster art—Mucha's Cigarette Paper Women, the Normandie, Klimt's Kiss, etc.—so reproductions don't bother me, but the Painter of Light seemed to be doing something else altogether: [Read more]

KRXA Hal's picture

Elia Kazan Reconsidered

I've been meaning to write about film for a while but haven't gotten around to it. For me, like most of us I guess, writing well requires both knowledge and passion about a topic and a sense that I have something unique to add. Lots of times, I have one or two but not all three. In late Spring 2011, I wrote a brief article entitled The San Francisco Giants have the Best Pitching Staff in Baseball. [Read more]

Donal's picture

2011 Documentaries


I took another quick look at Roger Ebert's site and ran across his top twenty list of documentaries released in 2011. Though I was vaguely aware that someone had done a documentary of Conan O'Brien, I hadn't heard a thing about the rest of them, including The Interrupters, above.
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Doctor Cleveland's picture

Your New Year Public Domain Report: 2012

Happy New Year, all. My spouse and I spent part of yesterday evening at our local revival house, watching a classic New Year's Eve double-feature of The Thin Man and After the Thin Man. Then we adjourned to a favorite bar for midnight; after all, that's what Nick and Nora would do.
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Donal's picture

Flicks Watched Over Xmas Break


The weekend before before Xmas I watched some classic films I had seen many times before - Holiday Inn in black and white, White Christmas in color - but one morning TCM showed All Mine To Give, based on the true story of a Scots couple settling in Wisconsin in the 1850s. Played by Glynis Johns and Cameron Mitchell, the couple worked hard, raised a cabin with help from their neighbors, prospered and brought five or six children into the new country - the American dream. But first the father, and then the mother took sick and died while the children were still quite young, and the oldest son, all of thirteen, followed his mother's wish that he find families to adopt each child. It was heart-rending to see the boy pulling an empty sleigh at the end of the film, on his way to work in a lumber camp, but at least they had neighbors with compassion. [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

#OurXmas - A Twitter celebration for those alone on Christmas - and everybody else

I should be in San Francisco right now.  The plans had been made, tickets bought, room and board at the ready. A family Christmas vacation awaited. But then, life got in the way.

It got in the way in the form of a tiny, old Boston Terrier named Max. My wife got Max before we were together and at the tender age of 22. He’s been with her through the ups and downs of life. While we have other dogs and always will, Max is the dog of her life. And now, at the age of 14, Max is winding down. He has congestive heart failure, and has been battling a sinus infection that won’t go away. He still has a lot of life in him, enjoys his normal routine and attacks food. But the fact is, he could leave us at any time and needs care. [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

Alec Baldwin shows American Airlines by quitting Twitter account

For those following the silly drama between Alec Baldwin and American Airlines, the 30 Rock actor has now quit his Twitter account, saying he would start a new one.

"Let's play a game called Mass Unfollowing. I want to crash this acct and start again. But, tonight at 10 PM, NY time, unfollow me," wrote Baldwin.

For those unawares, yesterday, Baldwin had been kicked off a flight by American Airlines and took to Twitter to complain. From US Magazine: [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Shakespeare, Oxford, and the 1%

Last weekend, Hollywood released Anonymous, a costume drama whose promotional materials ask "Was Shakespeare a Fraud?" They're not really asking the question; the movie clearly promotes the argument that it was "really" Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who wrote the plays. The studio has also sent out course materials to schools, so that teachers can teach students to think critically about embrace the idea that Oxford wrote Shakespeare.
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Donal's picture

America in Primetime

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America in Primetime is structured around the most compelling shows on television today, unfolding over four hours and weaving between past and present. Each episode focuses on one character archetype that has remained a staple of primetime through the generations – the Independent Woman, the Man of the House, the Misfit, and the Crusader – capturing both the continuity of the character, and the evolution. The finest television today has as its foundation the best television of yesterday.
Donal's picture

Buying a Paper


I went home with sniffles Wednesday afternoon. On the way home, I picked up Sesame Chicken and a NY Times. Why buy a paper? Partly because I'm already past their twenty article online limit, but also because, when I have the time, I do like reading the paper front to back and having the chance to glance at every article before deciding whether or not to read it. I suspect that a lot of articles that interest me would never make it to the most read or most emailed lists online. That seemed to be true yesterday.
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Donal's picture

Can you write about the future?

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In Efficiency is the Solution, Tom Whipple predicts the future by describing what we are already seeing: 
 
For the immediate future, however, much of what life in the future will be like will depend on the technologies that will enable civilization to continue while using only a fraction of the energy that is consumed today and to develop the technology to produce large quantities of cheaper renewable fuels. The manner in which our fossil fuels are being used is so wasteful of the energy contained in fossil fuels that major reductions can be made with little real impact on the activities that consume energy. The prime examples of this waste is the internal combustion engine which uses only 14 percent of its fuel to turn the wheels while wasting most of the rest. Huge central power plants waste most of the energy that devours coal and natural gas, and produce much waste heat that is dumped into the air or local water bodies or in line losses. Without the massive waste, the fossil fuel age could last a lot longer.
Donal's picture

Sayles Film Festival

A few weekends ago, I watched Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980) again. I first watched it circa 1982, and enjoyed it so much that I brought a different girl to see it a week later. I rented it on VHS for one girlfriend, and then another, to see. Several years ago I bought the DVD to show my wife, and I probably watch it about once a year. [Read more]

Donal's picture

Two Vimeos

Vimeo is so different than YouTube. I found these two on Neatorama. The first one is a tribute to an easy to guess person, and rather dark. The second is strictly for laughs.

Overtime from ouryatlan on Vimeo. [Read more]

Donal's picture

Lucian Freud changes name and dies at 88

Self Portrait (~1986), above.

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Donal's picture

Of Human Wandage

Last weekend, my daughter thrust Somerset Maugham's great novel at me and said, "You should read this, Dad." She does that a lot and I therefore always have a small stack of books to get through, but I did start reading Of Human Bondage, and I love it. But with all the hoopla about the final Potter film being released NOW! it does occur to me that Harry Potter and Philip Carey have more than a little in common. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

FRIDAY FOLLIES: On Roswell, A Beer for the Times, Disappearing Art, and a Twitterpated Pope


Roswell, NM is in the news again with only just another suspicious "crash".   The "crash" supposedly burned "28 acres" of "grassland".  Uh huh.   The official word is that the pilot "ejected safely".  No ID on the "pilot".  Nobody is allowed to "see" him.  The base is "asking the public to cooperate with military and civilian authorities at the scene to ensure the safety of everyone involved."
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William K. Wolfrum's picture

Vote Chuck Cunningham for President!

My friends, for 35 years we have searched for Richie Cunningham's older brother, Chuck.

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Donal's picture

Cut Outs

Back around 1992, I bought a pile of cassettes from a cutout rack somewhere. One was The Stone Roses, by a Manchester band of the same name that produced this breakthrough album before becoming entangled in legal problems. Even though the album was released in 1989, SR sounded to me like a jumble of Dave Clark Five, Kinks and Doors with a bit of the wall of sound thing going on.

I Wanna Be Adored

She Bangs the Drums [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

Shia LeBeouf - I tapped that

When I saw that Shia LeBeouf told the media that he had "hooked up" with Megan Fox, I was not surprised. After all, I have hooked up with him, as well

Yes, friends, I, noted comma user, William K. Wolfrum, have hooked up with Shia LeBeouf.

The first time was on the set of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. We both figured we'd never work again, so what the hell?

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Ramona's picture

FRIDAY FOLLIES: On the Dalai Lama, Thurber, Michael Scott and Mitt

I've always dreamed of someday meeting the Dalai Lama (hasn't everybody?); sitting down with him, picking his brain, asking him the questions of the day:  What do you think about war and famine and global warming?  If I knew I was actually going to have the chance, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be working up a joke to tell him.  But then I'm not Australian anchor Karl Stefanovic, who had been saving his best joke (I'm guessing) for his best interview ever only to find it painfully lost, in translation and everywhere else.  Watch this.

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