What I learned over winter vacation…

Don’t start a blog series (or two) if you are in charge of cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas and are also moving between Christmas and your annual New Years party.  Also: try harder to remember that you have three kids under five.


I am still hoping to wrap up the Westworld series (begun here, here, and here) at some point but in the meantime, thank you for your graciousness, gentle readers.

The happy news is that I’ll be contributing culture recommendations to the revamped Christianity Today Entertainment Newsletter and continuing to write essays there as while venting my other cultural ramblings here at the blog.



#TBT Film Rec: Brewsters Millions

In honor of tonight’s ridiculous double header 7-person then 10-person Republican debate, a quick reminder to put Richard Pryor’s Brewster’s Millions on your film bucket list.  The film combines minor league baseball, electoral politics, venture capitalism, and class-divide comedy.

It’s not high cinema.  And (okay, okay), it’s not Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.  But as a charming trip back to the 80s stand-up star-driven comedies, it delivers while also supplying one of my favorite election time admonitions, “Vote None of the Above!” Continue reading #TBT Film Rec: Brewsters Millions

Secret Worth Exposing: The Riveting Spies of AMC’s Turn

Remember that enchanting kid from Billy Elliot? So earnest and physical and compelling…Those traits serve actor Jamie Bell still, now all grown up and starring of AMC’s Revolutionary War spy drama Turn.  In it a Loyalist young man is pressured into a spy errand for the Patriots, an act that sets a number of gears turning within him and within the wheels of General Washington’s war machine.

The story of season one is young Abraham Woodhull’s efforts to resist the tugs of his Loyalist father and of his Patriot friends, of his efforts to be his own man on his own terms–terms that change slowly but force, like a gathering storm. What is especially satisfying is how Abraham rides that storm, wrestles to command it rather than merely be swept up in it, how he comes to make allegiances without ever quite relenting in the self-determinism that is his most singular personality trait.

Turn is particularly strong in its ability to make 18th century life both recognizable–full of real people, not national heroes nor prim puritans–and newly alive with texture. While I sometimes find the variety of settler New Yorkers’ accents befuddling, for instance, it is a welcome reminder of the recent immigrant status of some colonists and of the distance between the English we speak and what they would have spoken. Continue reading Secret Worth Exposing: The Riveting Spies of AMC’s Turn