The Rise and Fall of Communism

Archie Brown, emeritus professor at Oxford, has put out a lively and informative book that traces the communist movement from its intellectual origins in the Renaissance through the present day. If you were politically aware of the world in the late ’80s, you’ll remember it as a time of incredible sweeping change around the world. […]


Under The Dome

I don’t even want to tell you how late I stayed up the last couple of nights finishing off this book: I did the last 300 in one mad sprint in the wee hours of last night. This is top-drawer King, but try to get some sleep on work nights.


Ants On The Melon

After Suzannah was kind enough to respond with the name of the poet I was looking for, I went over to the library and got out Virginia Hamilton Adair‘s anthology. She lived long, and pours it all out into intense little word paintings. She wasn’t afraid to address subjects like sex and death head-on, including […]

Books Music

Bird Songs in “Oiseaux Exotiques”

Ashgate publishing is releasing a series of single-work musical analyses, and a 2007 volume showed up at the school library recently. It’s an analysis of Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques, and it’s full of really well-done and well thought-out musical examples. In particular I like the attached CD, which gives sample’s of Messiaen’s source material — […]


Blood’s A Rover

Alright, this whole “trilogy” thing has got to stop. I don’t know who thought of it first, but it seems like everything has to be part of one these days. James Ellroy’s American Tabloid was sui generis, mixing hard-core crime fiction with tabloid sensationalism, heavily laced with famous names, and purporting to reveal the deepest […]


German Expressionism

The story of the making of the movie “Fitzcarraldo” is parallel to the plot of the film itself: a madman is seized by a vision — to haul a steamship over a mountain to the river on the other side. Werner Herzog had the idea, and to bring it to life on film he couldn’t use models, special effects, easy locations. It had to be done with a real ship, over a real mountain, in a real South American jungle.


A Most Wanted Man

In “A Most Wanted Man” the action, such as it is, is almost an afterthought. What’s really going on is the intra- and inter-agency squabbles, the political considerations of distant governments, the histories — to the extent one can really be sure — of the characters. All of that goes into the fleshing out of the scheme; its denouement is simply where you are shocked to find out what went wrong.