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“After recently bemoaning the declining quality of films” –January 4, 2003

After recently bemoaning the declining quality of films these days with no less an enthusiast than David Thomson—he, of the glorious Biographical Dictionary of Film (4th edition)—I have been thinking a bit about the relationship of movies and books over a range of, uh, issues. In early December PW published a short q & a …

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“Under-Appreciated Fiction of the 21st Century” –January 1, 2003

There are many societal conventions that I can’t seem to connect with, the calendar year and most of the holidays contained therein are some of them. Thus they have no celebratory meaning for me. As a white lighter for many years (not quite like Fran Liebowitz, who claims she went out every night for 15 …

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“YOU FURNISH THE PICTURES AND I’LL FURNISH THE WAR.” –Dec 28, 2002

Despite the rising din of war drums I managed, lately, to read a few newspapers. The recent flap over alleged Iraqi atrocities when they occupied Kuwait (rehashed in the HBO movie of CNN’s purportedly valiant efforts in covering that war) reminded me of the anecdote surrounding William Randolph Hearst’s dispatch of artist Fredrick Remington to …

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“Having disconnected myself from television…” –December 26, 2002

Having disconnected myself from television—at least for the short term—I expect I avoided innumerable promotions for broadcasts of what has become a Christmas holiday cliche, It’s a Wonderful Life. As I have also pulled the plug on that other great American past time, shopping, it is no wonder that my growing alienation from the mainstream …

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“My life of reading, of loving books, was launched by my mother…” –Dec 13, 2002

My life of reading, of loving books, was launched by my mother’s good instincts in taking me to the Chicago Public Library at the age of eight (I think) for my library card and on a weekly basis thereafter helping me take home a stack of books from the Belmont Avenue branch. There are, I …

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“The issue of who the cultural arbiters are” –December 8, 2002

Some weeks ago Globe columnist Alex Beam — one of the few remaining and diminishing reasons justifying that newspaper’s contribution to deforestation — mentioned in passing that a particular novel was “lyrical and under appreciated.” Which immediately got me to thinking about how many novels are adequately appreciated, or even what that would mean. Then …

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“Some of my fellow citizens who are compelled to be in constant despair…” –Dec. 6, 2002

Some of my fellow citizens who are compelled to be in constant despair about the persistent decline of civilization (an attitude I have always associated with my undergraduate years) or the impending apocalypse are, I think, very much aided and supported by their synergistic (or is it symbiotic) relationship with the thing thoughtlessly (that’s a …

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“A sport (book reviewing) that I have rarely engaged in” –Nov. 12, 2002

Who can explain the neural (mis)firings that lead you to zig when you normally zag? In the case at hand, I found myself reading a few so-called book reviews, a practice I had long ago eschewed and a sport (book reviewing) that I have rarely engaged in. The stone in my shoe that prompted such …

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