Television Show Review: Atlanta: Season 1

Atlanta Season 1

Atlanta: Season 1 created by Donald Glover (FX Productions) Starring Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz. #OscarsSoWhite Last year’s Oscar nominees commenced a necessary conversation around representation. Despite many worthy submissions from minority candidates, the prestige categories saw no nominees. For people in the old guard, the line of reasoning stays consistent: the best quality programming is nominated, regardless of color. If quality is quality, the cream rises to the top and representation will happen, providing the content merits consideration. And yet, the counter argument holds weight. I first encountered the idea from Vox critic Todd VanDerWerff. In essence, diversity is required to allow for the most interesting stories to be told. The old guard will… Read More →

Book Review: The Price of Salt

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (New York: Dover Publications, 2015; originally published in 1952. 256 pp) Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1921. She studied English composition, playwriting, and short story at Barnard College. Highsmith wrote 22 novels during her career, including Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She died in 1995. Who Are You? Identity is a tricky thing. When I was younger, I worried consistently about goodness. Did I possess good qualities inherently? Did I need to work for them? What did it take to be good? With a constant focus on these identity questions, I never felt whole. I had nothing obviously hindering me from living a decent life,… Read More →

Film Review: The Revenant

The Revenant

The Revenant written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro Iñárritu, directed by Alejandro Iñárritu (Regency Enterprises, RatPac Entertainment, R, 156 min) Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, and Forrest Goodluck. The Forest for the Trees We recently moved in close proximity to the mountains. As we take our exit, the freeway begins its carve through the rolling hills and mountains of the Cascades. Beneath the wisps of fog, forests of evergreen encompass the landscape like a 5 o’clock shadow. When we enter our development, a copse of trees rests to our left, a solitary lookout over the hills and the first reference to the wild beyond our residence. I’ve been wanting to explore the trail that leads… Read More →

Book Review: The Art of War

The Art of War by Sun-tzu

The Art of War by Sun-tzu; translated by Ralph D. Sawyer (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994. 375 pp) Sun-tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China, traditionally believed to have lived from 544 BC to 496 BC. It’s Not All About Warfare Even though I must admit I was the typical teenager playing the standard first-person shooter games, the older I get, the less inspired I become with the war metaphor. While Tom Clancy can scratch that puerile itch for action and black-and-white narratives, the world’s complexity makes it difficult to sit within the us-versus-them mindset. From a business perspective, the warfare metaphor runs deep. We… Read More →

Book Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (New York: Doubleday, 2016. 320 pp) Colson Whitehead was born in 1969 and raised in Manhattan. He attended Harvard College and afterward he began working as a reviewer for The Village Voice. Out of the gate, Whitehead’s fiction gained acclaim when his first novel, The Intuitionist, won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award. His work has earned him the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Also, Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Victors Write History History: Written by the Victors. We discuss such a phrase most often around our… Read More →

Television Show Review: Stranger Things: Season 1

Stranger Things Season 1

Stranger Things: Season 1 created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre) Starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp, and Cara Buono. With Age As a parent I’ve achieved equilibrium. I don’t mention this to suggest I have my life all lined up and perfectly balanced. Such a position is a work of sanctification for which I constantly strive. But, I do get to see the other side of the coin. As a dad, I see the world anew. When I was a child, I thought of childish things. I had a sense of play and curiosity. As a burgeoning young adult, I thought I… Read More →

Television Show Review: Preacher: Season 1

Preacher Season 1

Preacher: Season 1 created by Evan Goldberg, Sam Catlin, and Seth Rogen (AMC Studios, DC Entertainment) Starring Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Lucy Griffiths, W. Earl Brown, Derek Wilson, Ian Colletti, Tom Brooke, Anatol Yusef, Graham McTavish, and Jackie Earle Haley. Taking On the Razor It’s time to fight. I’m not much of a brawler, but Occam’s Razor needs a sucker punch. Hyperbolically speaking of course. While the razor represents an interesting device pointed toward simplicity whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’m increasingly convinced that life operates at an increased distance from this principle. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to use said razor in a scenario where two competing explanations of one phenomenon include a far simpler version. But… Read More →

Book Review: The Big Picture

The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll (New York: Dutton, 2016. 480 pp) Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of London. His most recent award was a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. He is the author of From Eternity to Here and The Particle at the End of the Universe. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jennifer Ouellette. On Ontology We all have a reason for being…. Read More →

Film Review: O.J.: Made in America

OJ Made in America

O.J.: Made in America directed by Ezra Edelman (ESPN Films, Laylow Films, 464 minutes) Starring O.J. Simpson, A.C. Cowlings, Ron Shipp, Marcia Clarke, Gil Garcetti, F. Lee Bailey, Carl E. Douglas, Barry Scheck, Mark Fuhrman, and Tom Lange. Back to the 90s 2016 is the O.J. renaissance. Stylistically, our fashion trends begin to mimic those of our counterparts two decades ago. Our music pushes toward that synthetic sheen or the grunge discord depending on your tastes. Trends aside, the 1990s represent the last moments before computer and internet ubiquity. Consider the large monitor sitting on Judge Ito’s desk during the trial. Today, the computer would be in the judge’s pocket. Even more, today’s omnipresent cell phone society manufactures clearer cases… Read More →

Book Review: Moral Man & Immoral Society

Moral Man and Immoral Society by Reinhold Niebuhr

Moral Man & Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics by Reinhold Niebuhr (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001; originally published in 1932. 288 pp) Reinhold Niebuhr was a theologian, ethicist, and professor at Union Theological Seminary. Niebuhr attended Elmhurst College, Eden Theological Seminary, and Yale Divinity School. His views have influence countless leaders including Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, John McCain, and Madeleine Albright. In 1964, Niebuhr earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in 1971. Looking Back Review the 20th Century and you’ll find plenty to criticize. World wars. Genocide. Massive technological advances. For every slice of progress, it seems there’s an equal and opposite setback. Two steps forward. Two steps backward. With the benefit of hindsight,… Read More →