Television Show Review: Russian Doll: Season 1

Russian Doll Season 1

Russian Doll: Season 1 created by Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, and Amy Poehler (Netflix, 3 Arts Entertainment, Jax Media) Starring Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Bennett, Greta Lee, Elizabeth Ashley, Rebecca Henderson, Jeremy Bobb, and Dascha Polanco. Art and Culture It’s always fascinating to map the thematic elements of art to the culture in which it’s created. Post-apocalyptic stories rose to prominence after the atomic bomb and constant conflict during the Cold War. Stories about terrorism and doing the hard-but-right thing, i.e., 24, happened after 9/11. Today, we have hopepunk. Whether in song or on stage, the creative focus of the day seems to have an eye for an optimistic future, something toward which we should all work; and verily, fight tooth… Read More →

Book Review: A Manual for Cleaning Women

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 432 pp) Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Her stories are inspired by her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons. Sober and writing steadily by the 1990s, she took a visiting writer’s post at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994 and was soon promoted to associate professor. In 2001, in failing health, she moved to… Read More →

Television Show Review: True Detective: Season 3

True Detective Season 3

True Detective: Season 3 created by Nic Pizzolatto (Anonymous Content, HBO) Starring Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo, Stephen Dorff, Scoot McNairy, and Ray Fisher. Dealing with Trauma Trauma is a wrench in best laid plans, the curveball life throws when we’re down two strikes. Nobody plans for it; nobody wants it. Even in scenarios where it seems likely—war or declining health—the human condition leads us to believe we’ll be different, that pain and suffering will elude us. But it doesn’t. And how we respond to trauma matters for our own well-being. We hold on to the spinning top that is trauma for as long as we can but when we let go we get flung in any direction. For some, that… Read More →

Film Review: Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade written and directed by Bo Burnham (IAC Films, A24, R, 93 min) Starring Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, and Emily Robinson. Time to Worry When I was younger, my mom would stay up until I returned home from whatever teenage exploits in which I had decided to engage. Early. Late. She’d be sitting on the couch reading, watching television, waiting patiently. Stubbornly, I often didn’t consider this sacrifice. Instead, it always bothered me—that somehow I wasn’t to be trusted. But, she would always reinforce that this decision wasn’t really about me. She couldn’t sleep with me in absentia. She needed the peace of mind about my safety before she could retire. Now, with kids of my own, I get… Read More →

Book Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N. K Jemisin

The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth Book One by N. K. Jemisin (New York: Orbit Books, 2015. 512 pp) N. K. Jemisin is the first author in the genre’s history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo awards, all for her Broken Earth Trilogy. Her work has also won the Nebula, Locus, and Goodreads Choice awards. She is currently a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and she has been an instructor for the Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops. The Holocene It snowed recently. The kids stayed home for many days. We had cabin fever. End of short story. But for the purpose of this review, let’s talk about weather and climate. Too often, commentary about the… Read More →