Book Review: Fresh Complaint

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 304 pp) Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 8, 1960, Jeffrey Eugenides is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. As an undergraduate, he attended Brown University and later earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University. Eugenides received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fellowship for a short story he wrote in 1986. In 2002, his novel, Middlesex, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. Eugenides works on faculty at Princeton University’s Program in Creative writing and lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter. The Knot in Your Stomach A signal of life, outside of biological factors such… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 4

BoJack Horesman Season 4

BoJack Horseman: Season 4 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Netflix, Tornante Company, ShadowMachine) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. Onward to Positive Psychology Have you ever noticed the perspective of self-talk? While a subjective observation, it seems self-talk slides into second person. “You’re not good enough.” “Look what you did this time.” “You’re never going to make it.” As a teenager, my limited training in positive sports psychology argued for a surgical denunciation of this “other.” Often if I used the “I” pronoun and told myself I would succeed or have a good day, I would tend to have a better day. Some Christian traditions suggest the “other” as a demonic accusation of sorts,… Read More →

Film Review: American Honey

American Honey

American Honey written and directed by Andrea Arnold (A24, Parts and Labor, British Film Institute, Film4, R, 163 min) Starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, and Dakota Powers. A Suburbanite’s Dance with Poverty My closest dance with poverty waltzed through my life in my early twenties. Mind you, poverty in the most white, suburbanized approach to the word. Even during my lowest earning periods, parents possessed a knack for encouraging currency toward my empty coffers, let alone the fail-safe of an exhibit-quality room waiting for me were I ever to require lodging again (I did). As such, the suburban white… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Night Of

The Night Of

The Night Of created by Richard Price and Steven Zallian (BBC Worldwide Productions, HBO, Film Rites) Starring Riz Ahmed, Peyman Moaadi, Poorna Jagannathan, John Turturro, Jeannie Berlin, Paul Sparks, Amara Karan, Bill Camp, and Michael Kenneth Williams. Put the Kettle On Surprise! The systems around which you operate influence you. Example: I work with a British expatriate. My lexicon now skews toward sayings like “Put the kettle on” instead of “Boil water” and “Two weeks’ time” instead of “Two weeks from now.” It’s a small example but it goes to show how external influences alter who we are, how we act, and what we believe. When it comes to murder mysteries, most narrative arcs focus on the “whodunnit” aspect of… Read More →

Television Show Review: Vinyl: Season 1

Vinyl Season 1

Vinyl: Season 1 created by Rich Cohen, Mick Jagger, and Martin Scorsese (Paramount Television, Sikelia Productions, Jagged Films) Starring Bobby Cannavale, Paul Ben-Victor, P. J. Byrne, Max Casella, Ato Essandoh, James Jagger, J. C. MacKenzie, Jack Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Juno Temple, and Ray Ramano. Design Failure In my line of work, we like to discuss the weight of organizational identity. In particular, the visual mark of a company cannot carry the entire strategic sensibility of the business. If a logo represents every last detail of the organization, it will crumble under the pressure. The design will fail. For this reason, I think of logos when I consider the effectiveness of HBO’s Vinyl. At its core, Vinyl depicts the shifting music… Read More →

Television Show Review: House of Cards: Season 4

House of Cards Season 4

House of Cards: Season 4 created by Beau Willimon (Media Rights Capital, Panic Pictures, Trigger Street Productions, Netflix) Starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Nathan Darrow, Mahersala Ali, Molly Parker, Jayne Atkinson, and Elizabeth Marvel. All Hail the Death of Political Drama Political drama is dead. We have killed it. Over the previous three seasons of House of Cards, the Achilles’ heel of an addictive show emerged in its suspension of disbelief. The viewer can only go so far before the murder, betrayal, and political scheming becomes absurd. And yet, our current political climate suggests we aren’t going far enough to push the absurdity of our political drama. Granted, none of our current Presidential runners go to the depths… Read More →

Television Show Review: American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson created by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (20th Century Fox Productions, Ryan Murphy Productions, Color Force) Starring Sterling K. Brown, Kenneth Choi, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Christian Clemenson, Bruce Greenwood, Nathan Lane, Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, John Travolta, and Courtney B. Vance. But a Quarter We are but a quarter into 2016 and I would suggest the current cultural milieu continues to ask questions about the meaning of justice and diversity in our modern age. Perhaps in part to the demagogues running for president, society asks questions about non-white perspectives on the world. What does life mean for those without privilege? Culture wants this question answered. Ta-Nehisi Coates publishes a critically acclaimed… Read More →

Television Show review: The Leftovers: Season 2

The Leftovers Season 2

The Leftovers: Season 2 created by Damon Lindelof (Warner Bros. Television) Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Jovan Adepo, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Carrie Coon. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS* So That You Might Believe What are the parameters of your belief? In a post-modern society, many might not consider belief to be a warranted pursuit. But, in truth, we all believe something. For the rationalist and the naturalist, that faith might connect to scientific pursuits. For others, belief might correspond with a person—the savior of a certain group, or the benefactor of another. And many channel belief into an organized religion. But at its core, faith is required… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 2

BoJack Horseman Season 2

BoJack Horseman: Season 2 created by Ralph Bob-Waksberg (Netflix, Tornante Company, ShadowMachine Films) Starring Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, and Paul F. Tompkins. Surprisingly Human Can you recall a tag line? Any tag line. Seriously. Not many are memorable. There are the classics, like “Just Do It.” But for the most part, tag lines represent vanilla pudding. While most tag lines provide bland descriptions of a good or service, some stand out for distinct reasons. Animal Planet, for example, has the tag line, “surprisingly human.” It’s a good tag, albeit a little odd. It attempts to draw the connections between our quadrupedal brethren. It also fits considering the myriad of reality television now residing on the channel…. Read More →

Television Show Review: Bloodline: Season 1

Bloodline Season 1

Bloodline: Season 1 created by Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman (Netflix, KZK Productions, Sony Pictures Television) Starring Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbet Leo Butz, Sissy Spacek, and Sam Shepard. A New Kind of Show If you haven’t logged on to Netflix lately, you’ll be surprised at the amount of Netflix-specific programming. The manner in which content releases creates new viewing experiences. The first hint at this new frontier occurred with House of Cards as the whole season released at once caused binge watchers to… well… binge. The release-the-season-all-at-once strategy allows the writers and producers to reconsider how to approach a show. While Bloodline isn’t the binge-watching cocaine addiction of its Netflix brethren, the medium provides… Read More →