Review: Uncontested Grounds

Review: William Conelly’s Uncontested Grounds William Conelly’s wonderful new poetry collection, Uncontested Grounds (Able Muse Press, 2014), includes five war poems well worth our attention. Conelly is a veteran of the United States Air Force, although the war poems here come not from his personal experiences but from his imaginative understandings. “R & R” imagines … Read more

Review: Nothing But the Clouds Unchanged

Review: Nothing But the Clouds Unchanged This companion book to the excellent 2015 Getty Center exhibition of WWI art gathers 14 essays about 14 artists by 14 art historians. Their commentaries are uniformly excellent in their balancing biography, culture, and brief analyses of or observations about individual works. The book demonstrates that artists respond in … Read more

The Mozart mystery remains unsolved

In a letter to the Napa Valley Register (“Darwin’s Dilemma,” Sept. 1, 2017), Lowell Young suggests that extraordinary talents in music, mathematics and the other arts prove the existence of a creator. I find it quaint that some people still think that finding flaws or incompleteness in one scientist’s 1859 book undermines an idea that … Read more

Donald Trump and the Law of Unintended Consequences

No one should have a fuller experience with and understanding of the law of unintended consequences than Donald Trump. Serious blunders are inevitable for a president who is impulsive, narcissistic, and willfully and profoundly ignorant (of culture, history, economics, science . . .). Serious blunders are inevitable for a president who considers his intuition more … Read more

10 ways to improve the presidential debates

All reality TV is boring and only pretends to be spontaneous, but the worst reality TV shows are probably the presidential and vice-presidential debates. They are not really debates at all, and probably never will be, but here are ten ways to make them much more honest and useful to voters. 1. Get a competent … Read more

Review: Don’t Think Twice

Don’t Think Twice shows the forced transformation of a small improv group from New York hopefuls to the newest arrivals in that vast community of artists all over the country who have abandoned their quests for celebrity careers, and settled for pursuing their art in small towns. As the film opens, members of The Commune, … Read more

Geoffrey Hill has died, and we inherit his poetry

The truly great poet Geoffrey Hill has died. Death, there is thy sting. Unlike nearly every other poet of every era, Geoffrey Hill precedes his poems in death. I performed a memorial reading of some of Geoffrey Hill’s poems today in the Dialog coffee house in W. Hollywood, California. I was the only one there … Read more

Why the American jury system is endangered

As the United States Balkanizes into hostile political and racial demographics, one obvious victim ahead is our jury system. I have no clue as to how the jury system will be modified, but I do not see how it can possibly survive in its current, flawed form, however important it is to democracy. Our jury … Read more

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood’s 2015 film Eye in the Sky is a very well constructed thriller, crispy written and mostly well acted. And it is a film with an important central issue. The ethical dimension The central subject of Eye in the Sky is not drone warfare per se, no matter what some reviewers say, it is … Read more

Who Made Donald Trump a popular candidate?

One of the many amusements of the 2016 presidential primaries is watching establishment Republicans panic as Donald Trump elbows his way to the nomination and endangers down-ballot races. That establishment should find Trump’s appeal easy to understand, since they prepared his way: the Southern strategy’s appeal to less-educated working class white men, their relentless and … Read more