Oh, my binging!


My college student daughter is on season three of Breaking Bad. Sometimes, late at night, we hear her moving around downstairs—studying, working on her laundry, perhaps, but always with her laptop at her side and Walter White on her mind. My youngest daughter is working her way through One Tree Hill; I’m hopeful that she’ll be bored before the end of season one. Over last year’s Christmas vacation, I started my love affair with Downton Abbey. It was late afternoon on Christmas Day. Worn down from the grind of the semester and with Christmas behind me, I settled in for a long winter’s nap on the sofa—compliments of Netflix and our newly-acquired Wii. After thirteen and a half hours of viewing time and several lengthy naps, I emerged from the fog. It was December 27, dirty dishes and chip bags were piled around the sofa, and I had somehow lost two days. I sat up, surveyed the living room, and did what any thinking person would do: I found something else to watch. Daniel Deronda, Wives and Daughters, North and South, Bleak House, Wuthering Heights—four more days passed and it was New Year’s Eve. Read More

Gender Bending in Shakespeare’s“Twelfe Night, or What You Will”

Richard III Belasco Theatre Joseph Timms Mark Rylance

Broadway’s all-male production of Shakespeare’s comedy of gender confusion closes in February.  One critic says, the “. . . performance brings to funny and delicious life the play’s message of the power of love and desire to transcend the limitations of gender.”  Wait, what?  Is that what Shakespeare’s point was?  Read More

Look at Everything Close Up

24 Steen Jan- St Nicholas Feast copy

In Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby, journalist Carl Streator is just getting by. He copes with the stress of his job. He copes with his finances. He copes with the accidental death of his wife and his child, whom he killed with a culling spell. He copes with his mission to find and destroy every copy of the spell. He copes with the fact that he can’t stop thinking about it. Read More

Until We See Their Faces

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When Howard died, we staggered. Any death would have felt huge to the small college where I worked then, but Howard was a very popular, well-known-and-loved senior, the star goalie of our remarkable men’s soccer team, and a warm friend with tremendous character and humility. He was fine, we were all fine, when the Fall semester ended and Howard went home to Jamaica for Christmas break. But then he was tired for no reason, tests were run, a rare and strange blood disease was diagnosed, and by the time classes were starting up again, he was too ill to travel. And then we heard what none of us could stomach or quite believe: he was gone. That was four years ago last month. I miss him, and still cry when I think of him. I want very much to see his face again, have another hug, hear his voice and laugh. Read More

Make It New

21 not-identified-5

I recently watched Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live sing “Only When I Walk Away.” Multicolor laser lights flashed in geometric shapes and cast net-like patterns on the blackness of the stage. My 19-year-old son watched, too, and while he’s not a fan of Timberlake, he appreciated the fact that he was willing to try something new. The last time we saw Timberlake, he appeared on SNL singing “Suit & Tie.” It sounded like the Sinatra songs my dad sang around the house when we were growing up. What a contrast! Read More