Best singles of 2016 — first quarter report

Fraught with subtext, “Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón” repelled me at first because of Alex Anwandter’s prosaic voice. In other words, I’d forgotten I was a graduate of the Bernard Sumner School of Advanced Lyric Studies and hold a fellowship in Sumnernomics in singing. The Chilean singer-songwriter assembled a track that recalls the best… More Best singles of 2016 — first quarter report

‘The coffin has you fast,/ The clod will have you next’

A winner of three Pulitzer Prizes shouldn’t be as neglected as Edwin Arlington Robinson, remembered if at all by high schoolers required to write about “Richard Cory” and “Miniver Cheevy.” Like Thomas Hardy, the Teddy Roosevelt protege was born too late in the nineteenth century and too early for the post-Great War Modernist boom but… More ‘The coffin has you fast,/ The clod will have you next’

Marco Rubio, pundit

Six weeks after losing in the most ignominious way possible, the junior senator from Florida is rested and eager to play pundit. The brief exile has deepened his wisdom, sharpened his wit, and added hair to his legs: “If he keeps winning delegates like he did the other night in New York, I think he’s… More Marco Rubio, pundit

Singles 4/29

I can’t remember when we last reviewed two songs about Peter Pan, or when I last sorta liked a song with both Mr. 305 and Enrique Iglesias (also a 305) and that I’d like this song better than Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood tunes, but, hell, that’s the kind of post-Prince week it was. The… More Singles 4/29

‘Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events’

You’ll search my published writing in vain for “cynical” and its noun form. I dislike them. The rare times I’ve used them I’m afraid I’ll get misinterpreted. A cynic is often confused for a realist. Cynics often confuse themselves with realists. In fact, cynicism is the opposite of realism. The latter, having studied facts, makes… More ‘Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events’

Over-plotted ‘Louder Than Bombs’ fritters away its tension

The last time I saw a creepier image than Jesse Eisenberg holding a newborn was Ted Cruz smiling at a podium. A brief scene, sure, and Louder Than Bombs offers others just as grisly. This Norwegian-French production shows how an American family deals with the aftershocks of their mother’s death. Eschewing chronological narrative storytelling, Louder… More Over-plotted ‘Louder Than Bombs’ fritters away its tension

‘I catch a body at a party, sort of herbal with the verbal’ — more favorite things

k d lang – All You Can Eat (1995) Three years after her pop breakthrough Ingenue, k d lang and collaborator Ben Mink went the other way: space. With a basic drum pattern and the simplest of guitar parts (when a harp appears it’s like a shot of bourbon) lang drops the twang and goes… More ‘I catch a body at a party, sort of herbal with the verbal’ — more favorite things

Dennis Hastert’s ‘inability to abide by the law’

Well into 1998, Newton Leroy Gingrich expected Americans to ratify his vision of himself as the United States’ prime minister, the head of an opposition government ready to clear the legislature of the Roundheads who accepted William Jefferson Clinton’s legitimacy as president. Then the midterm elections delivered the most stunning rebuke to a majority party… More Dennis Hastert’s ‘inability to abide by the law’