My blog

I write in spurts, mostly at random.
‘Road to Nowhere’ (Monte Hellman movie, 2010)

‘Road to Nowhere’ (Monte Hellman movie, 2010)

If you're acquainted with any wannabe filmmakers, you may know the agony of listening to people spout movie jargon and watching them direct scenes for films that can never amount to more than an indulgent mess of amateur acting, clumsy technique, and flawed...

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Mitt Romney lying about balanced budget, taxes

Mitt Romney lying about balanced budget, taxes

Mitt Romney is lying. He and Paul Ryan teamed up for a joint town hall meeting on Monday at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here is what Mitt Romney said to the more than 3,000 people who came to hear him: " ... raising taxes slows down growth, and...

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Honey Boo Boo on CNN with Brooke Baldwin, John Berman

Honey Boo Boo on CNN with Brooke Baldwin, John Berman

Here's a little TV moment that I'll be reliving in nightmares for a while. Apparently, "Honey Boo Boo" is the nickname of Alana Thompson, the breakout star of TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras beauty pageant show who will now be featured in her own TLC spinoff, Here Comes...

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‘Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson

‘Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson

My sister recently gifted me with a copy of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, published last year by Simon & Schuster. At 571 pages plus notes and index, it's a hefty volume, and Isaacson's plain and linear telling makes the book seem daunting at first...

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‘Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here’

‘Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here’

Over the weekend, I was surprised to hear that another of our nephews is a huge Pink Floyd fan. Of course our nephew Elliot, 25, has been smitten with Dark Side of the Moon for years — to the point of buying import copies on vinyl, getting a Dark Side of the Moon...

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Hawaii missionaries: Sarah Vowell’s ‘Unfamiliar Fishes’

Hawaii missionaries: Sarah Vowell’s ‘Unfamiliar Fishes’

Unfamiliar Fishes is the product a very fortunate convergence. Author Sarah Vowell has a delicious appreciation for the peculiar coincidences and ironies produced when cultures clash and combine into the slaw of American history — and Hawaii, our 50th state, is a...

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Wisconsin recall election: Lehman, Wanggaard debate set

Wisconsin recall election: Lehman, Wanggaard debate set

Former State Senator John Lehman is set to debate current State Senator Van Wanggaard this Thursday night at 7 p.m. The candidates are running against each other in the June 5 recall election for Wisconsin's 21st Senate District. The live Wisconsin state Senate...

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‘Cedar Rapids’ (Ed Helms, Anne Heche movie, 2011)

‘Cedar Rapids’ (Ed Helms, Anne Heche movie, 2011)

It's the quirks and surprises that make an offbeat movie like Cedar Rapids enjoyable. The basic story is strictly conventional: Naive insurance agent Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is unexpectedly catapulted from his routine life in the Wisconsin hinterlands to the bright...

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Jonah Lehrer: ‘Imagine: How Creativity Works’

Jonah Lehrer: ‘Imagine: How Creativity Works’

Update, July 30, 2012: On Sunday, July 29, Jonah Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker over reuse of his own material in his New Yorker blog posts, and after an article in Tablet magazine — "Jonah Lehrer’s Deceptions" — revealed that he had fabricated quotes from Bob...

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How to replace a toilet: First, break the old toilet

How to replace a toilet: First, break the old toilet

couple of days ago, I successfully replaced our toilet's flapper assembly. However, something was still not quite right. The flush handle was bumping into the tank lid, and it clearly needed a small adjustment. So on Thursday afternoon, I grabbed...

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compares self to Vince Lombardi

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compares self to Vince Lombardi

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, quoted in an AP story Wednesday afternoon, is now imagining himself as legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Walker recalls the Packers' 1-10-1 record for the 1958 season, and he cautions that head coach Vince Lombardi was not...

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Solitaire, patience, and creativity at work

Solitaire, patience, and creativity at work

Solitaire — the pastime of playing cards alone — is often regarded with disdain. Solitaire players are viewed as slackers wasting time when they should be doing something productive. Solitaire is even seen as a pathetic pursuit — a game for outcasts and loners of...

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‘The Coming Jobs War,’ by Gallup CEO Jim Clifton

‘The Coming Jobs War,’ by Gallup CEO Jim Clifton

Watch any TV these days, and the title of Gallup CEO Jim Clifton's recent book hardly seems prophetic. Companies tout job creation on commercials, news reports obsess over workforce and unemployment statistics, and candidates push tax plans aimed at small business and...

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Price of gas when Obama took office: $1.81

Price of gas when Obama took office: $1.81

  $1.81: The price of gas when Obama took office.In the past few days, I have seen this meme spreading on Facebook — and back in September, Michele Bachmann was saying, "The day that President Obama took office, gasoline was $1.79 a gallon." Many Facebook...

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Bob Dylan autobiography: ‘Chronicles: Volume One’

Bob Dylan autobiography: ‘Chronicles: Volume One’

On my living room bookshelf, next to a few other books about the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, was an autobiography from 2004 I had bought some time ago, but not yet read. Chronicles: Volume One is a hardback of moderate size, containing 293 rough, deckle edge pages...

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Ryan Gosling movie: ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ (2007)

Ryan Gosling movie: ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ (2007)

Imagine if the late comedian Andy Kaufman made a feature film. Picture a movie with an authentic indy drama feel and a sturdy cast — but revolving around a ludicrous predicament which is uncomfortable to begin with, and then continues on and on until the absurdity...

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‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ (Jim Carrey movie, 2009)

‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ (Jim Carrey movie, 2009)

What I Love You Phillip Morris (trailer above) has going for it is a great story. The saga of impostor and con artist Steven Jay Russell is unbelievable, outrageous — it's beyond your wildest imagination. It's also a true story. This point is emphasized during the...

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Grover Norquist and the tax pledge = Rumpelstiltskin

Grover Norquist and the tax pledge = Rumpelstiltskin

Watching this 60 Minutes segment on Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform pledge this past Sunday night — "The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP" — it occurred to me that his story has some very familiar aspects. [includeme...

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Astonishing but true: Mark Twain tried surfing in Hawaii

Astonishing but true: Mark Twain tried surfing in Hawaii

Preparing to visit Hawaii for the first time a decade ago, I read Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii, a collection of the Sacramento Union writer's dispatches in 1866 from what were then known as the Sandwich Islands. Twain's letters are an enthralling portrait of...

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We Energies coal ash spills into Lake Michigan

We Energies coal ash spills into Lake Michigan

Wisconsin news made The Rachel Maddow Show again last night. That's because on Monday, coal ash from the grounds of We Energies' Oak Creek Power Plant was swept into Lake Michigan when a shoreline bluff collapsed during construction — ironically, for an air quality...

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Which MP3 deals? Amazon $5 albums for November

Which MP3 deals? Amazon $5 albums for November

Among many other Amazon MP3 deals, each new month brings a new list of 100 Albums for $5 Each. It's always a hit and miss affair, with a few bargain treasures mixed in among the discounted debris. Here are the albums that jump out at me for November: The Ultimate Blue...

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‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Grimm’: New TV from old tales

‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Grimm’: New TV from old tales

Two of the new TV series we have sampled over the last couple of weekends have some things in common. Both are hour-long scripted dramas which layer fantasy and supernatural elements onto the everyday, modern world. Both also link back to the realm of classic fairy...

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Dry Bones song: Ezekiel cried, ‘Dem dry bones!’

Dry Bones song: Ezekiel cried, ‘Dem dry bones!’

Dry Bones, the video above by Dan DiFelice, is something that showed up in my Vimeo inbox the other day and caught my eye. It does not use the Dry Bones song. However, both this short film and the Dry Bones song share the same inspiration: the Old Testament's Book of...

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