Author Archives: humanizingthevacuum

Best films of 1935

1. The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock) 2. Alice Adams (George Stevens 3. Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale) 4. Sylvia Scarlett (George Cukor) 5. The Devil is a Woman (Josef von Sternberg) 6. A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood) 7. … Continue reading

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The Manchester dead and the primacy of pop

Men dedicated to mass slaughter don’t distinguish attendees at the Bataclan from Ariana Grande fans. But what made the choice of a Grande show particularly gruesome was demographics: Grande’s audience consists mostly of young women and gay men, two groups … Continue reading

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Like Sunday morning: the best of Lionel Richie and the Commodores

No late twentieth century popular icon has suffered vacillations in critical ardor as severely as Lionel Richie. As singer and songwriter for the mildly funky Commodores, he showed far more interest in balladry and, interestingly, a polished studio kind of … Continue reading

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The commencement address grind

As temperatures climb and boredom with criticizing the Trump administration increases, fellow liberals turn to a favorite hobby: self-immolation. Picking on students walking out of Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address at Notre Dame is the latest example. Students are … Continue reading

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Trump proposing deep cuts to social services

Remember, readers, that no difference existed between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump’s budget that is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday will include $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid — a move that underscores the President’s resolve to … Continue reading

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Viva Las Vegas!

Two observations based on the Billboard Music Awards: (1) Running through a hit-strewn preface that plays like an Obama-era catalog of very necessary vulgarity, Nicki Minaj lands on 2017 “No Frauds” and the David Guetta-produced “Light My Body Up” while … Continue reading

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Lucky lucky lucky: the best of Stock Aitken Waterman

I suppose the subtlest condemnation of the Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman is to place Donna Summer’s last American hit atop my list here’s an example of an artist who didn’t surrender a millimeter of her personality to … Continue reading

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Don’t get fooled by Mike Pence

When party satraps chose vice presidential nominees, the head of the ticket ignored his running mate — why trust a stranger? “Hack” is too strong a word, for if we dismiss most of the vice presidents in our history as … Continue reading

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Giving the world some bonhomie: the best of August Darnell

Among the wittiest of songwriters and producers, Augie Darnell cut quite a figure in Koch-era New York, combining punk and commercial disco with one hand and guiding a throwback combo called Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band with the other. For … Continue reading

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Best movies of 2017 – first quarter and a half

I’ve reviewed about thirty-five films this year to date, an underwhelming 2017 thus far. Look for reviews of Alien: Covenant soon; I missed the press screening. A Quiet Passion and The Lost City of Z are easily the most accomplished … Continue reading

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Singles 5/19

Last week’s number one was Chance the Rapper’s first, Migos’ Quavo’s second, and Wayne’s first in years. They can thank Justin Bieber, number one again this week with a remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” reviewed a couple … Continue reading

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How Trump will govern from the center

Yeah but Donald Trump was a Democrat, sez Joe Scarborough: President Donald Trump has told advisers he wants to end payments of key Obamacare subsidies, a move that could send the health law’s insurance markets into a tailspin, according to … Continue reading

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