When it comes to cinematic options on Valentine’s Day, people’s selections often fall into two categories. The first and most obvious category is the rom-com, the kind of Katherine Heigl-ian fizzy concoction that causes a swoony sensation and a sappy aftertaste. The obvious alternative to this is bitter-and-single cinema, which allows the chronically unloved among us to partake in the kind of self-pity that’s as dark and satisfying as Ghirardelli chocolate. In past issues of...

I could hardly narrow these down! So here are three. Current favorite: a line from Stoney LaRue’s “Look At Me Fly.” “I’m high above the water now, never think twice/Look at me fly.” These lines revel in escape and liberation, and they’re sung plaintively enough to bring tears to my eyes. Another top choice is from Muse’s “Map of the Problematique,” a politically charged line questioning, “Why can’t we see/That when we bleed, we bleed...

If there were an awards show for awards shows, I’d totally give the trophy to the Oscars instead of the Grammys. Look, I don’t DISLIKE the Grammys, and I’d certainly prefer them over the Adam Sandlerized brutality of the People’s Choice Awards. They provide some memorable performances (Macklemore), and offer important exposure to up-and-coming artists (Adele)””that is, if those artist’ awards categories aren’t presented in a throwaway ceremony before the actual show. But overall, they’re...

When I’m bored at a bus stop or in grave danger of dozing off in class, my thoughts often turn to Norton Anthologies. I realize that this is the sort of topic that most people would ponder when  they WANT to fall asleep. However, it’s interesting to think about what””and who””will be included in the Nortons that our kids read. Keats and Twain and Kafka embody the literary imagination of their eras. Who will do...

In 1986, Van Morrison, rock-era Romantic and eternal Mr. Grumpypants, decided he’d had enough. He’d held hands with a “Brown-Eyed Girl,” he’d folded prayerful palms to a “Beautiful Vision.” Now it was time to point his fingers. More specifically, to point them at those who he felt had made off with his musical style. On “A Town Called Paradise,” he sang: “Copycats ripped off my words/Copycats ripped off my songs/Copycats ripped off my melodies.” With...

Right now, the popular culture is ablaze  over “Selma.” Ava DuVernay’s chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Alabama protests has stoked a vigorous debate. It’s a debate worth addressing, since it raises important questions about what it means to be a moviemaker (and a moviegoer) in an age of (thank God) increasing diversity. The debate is centered around the fact that, despite “Selma’s”  great critical and popular acclaim, the film received a mere two nominations:...

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The time when you get a break from my pretentious rants about movies, musicals and movie musicals. But before you go, dear reader, I thought it might be nice to inform you of a little indie film headed your way next year. It’s called “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and a trailer hit the Internet last week, recieving a muted response and some mild acclaim. I jest,...

A couple weeks ago, one of my English classes had a visit from the renowned poet Erin Belieu. When I asked her what one had to do in order to become a capital-G Great Poet, she said this: “You’ve got to become undeniable.” In other words, the power of your voice, its authoritative strength and strangeness, must become so great that people the world over feel compelled to listen to it, even if they don’t...