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Majesty vs. Myopia

I begin this column by offering a measure of what I choose to uphold what ought to be a standard of esthetics, at least in portraiture. It is by no means my only measure, but it does reflect a person I once knew, and who is still close to my conception of a romantic ideal. […]

Abelard and the Gate of Apollo

My name is Abelard. I was born—a birth some later called miraculous—of a dead mother. She was one of several who had died the day before, trying to flee over the Wall. I was left to die in my dead mother’s stomach; on the wet pavement; beneath coiled wire; paces from polished boots marching by. […]

The PIckwick Affair: Chapter Two

Chapter 2: Nightmare on the “Morpheus”  As Cody Hosk warmed up the bus’s engine and let it run for a few minutes, Rufus Lister welcomed the passengers and introduced himself and his partner, Harry Williams. Canty Lanier, the cook, also took a bow. Lister added, “We’ll be makin’ only one more stop on the way […]

The Pickwick Affair: Chapter One

Chapter 1: Stopover in Medford  “Good mornin’, folks! We’ll be arriving on time in Medford in about fifteen minutes, where you can stretch your legs and refresh yourselves. We’ll pull into the Pickwick terminal where you can buy newspapers and snacks. There are telephones inside the terminal. And next door is the Grog and Grub […]

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RIP, James Garner

James Garner, who died on July 19 at the age of 86, was quintessentially modern (in the best sense of the term), masculine and American.

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Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Like its rebooted predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes offers more of the same exciting, escapist fare. These pictures are, like the original 1968-1975 films for 20th Century Fox, designed for mass entertainment. At their best, they provoke thought with thrills. Dawn of the Planet of the […]

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Movie Review: America

Emphasizing emotions over facts, the propellant and powerful America: Imagine the World Without Her, co-written and co-directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, teems with a proper American sense of life. It is limited in its power, which strongly builds yet quickly dissipates, by what amounts to a faith in individualism. Evoking Ronald Reagan, D’Souza understands […]

Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged Part 3

As I previewed last month, the new and final part of libertarian businessman John Aglialoro’s independent movie trilogy adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, features Christian libertarian ex-congressman Ron Paul of Texas. It’s a plot point that, however small, makes no dramatic sense. Like much of this movie, easily the worst of the three […]

Interview: Brett Goldsmith on ‘Hotel Sessions’ by Olivia Newton-John

Musician, producer and photographer Brett Goldsmith recently talked with me from Melbourne, Australia, about his new work with Olivia Newton-John, Hotel Sessions. The record is an extended play (EP) collection of previously unreleased demo tracks that he made with his famous aunt between 2002 and 2011 at various Melbourne hotels (read my review here.) Goldsmith, […]

Music Review: Hotel Sessions by Olivia Newton-John

An extended play recording of seven unreleased demo tracks by legendary artist Olivia Newton-John is on sale (for a steep price, too, at $20) exclusively at Olivia’s new residency venue in Las Vegas, The Flamingo. The set goes on sale soon on her Web site and iTunes. The new songs – titled Hotel Sessions because […]

Summer Nights by Olivia Newton-John at The Flamingo Las Vegas

Olivia Newton-John’s first Las Vegas residency, inside the Donny & Marie Showroom at Caesar Entertainment’s Flamingo Hotel and Casino, is an intimate, poignant show she calls “Summer Nights”. The 20-plus song production premiered this week. I’ve met and written about Olivia over the years at various stages of her extraordinary career and, in Vegas for […]

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans makes the new Marvel Studios picture, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a strong, exciting and powerful sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Its theme of bonding with shared Americanism – rightly depicted here as the essence of individualism – echoes throughout the film. There are a few problems, but mostly this […]

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Interview: Henry Jackman on Scoring ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Composer Henry Jackman (X-Men: First Class, Captain Phillips) recently talked with me about music, movies and his new score for Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This is an edited transcript. Scott Holleran: In your score for Captain Phillips, you’ve said that you strived for moral ambiguity. Do you strive for moral absolutism in Captain […]

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House of Cards: No Heroes, Only Various Shades of Villany and Corruption

In “House of Cards,” there are no heroes. Only villains of various shades of villainy, from gray to the blackest of blacks, fulfilling politically correct requisites on diversity, covering all the affirmative action mandates in gender, race, ethnic origin, and religion. “House of Cards” is an equal opportunity employer in its portrayal of corruption. In […]

Excerpt from Edward Cline’s Novel The Black Stone (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3: Table Talk   “Did you know,” Skeen asked casually over breakfast the next morning, “that Mohammedans, when they go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, must walk counter-clockwise around the Kaaba seven times, and run between some hills looking for water, and perform a schedule of other rituals, all designed to make them feel like […]

Excerpt from Edward Cline’s Novel The Black Stone (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2: A Restful Weekend  Skeen’s face was squarish, with prominent cheekbones and a deceptively grim mouth. His eyes changed from hazel to green, depending on the light, and were set beneath a smooth, untroubled brow that seemed formidable but which was not. His eyes telegraphed a vast and scintillating storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. […]

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Excerpt from Edward Cline’s Novel The Black Stone (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1: In the Beginning  Cyrus Skeen returned to his penthouse apartment in Carmel Towers on Nob Hill in a somber, disconsolate mood. While his day at Skeen Investigations on the 13th floor of the Humboldt Building on Market Street had been uneventful, he had just seen a client on Fillmore Street to report on […]

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Mary Steenburgen on ‘Last Vegas’ by Scott Holleran

After seeing her delightful, new motion picture, Last Vegas, co-starring Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro and Kevin Kline and directed by Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, National Treasure, Phenomenon), I requested an interview with Mary Steenburgen. We’ve previously met and interviewed (read the 2011 interview here) and Ms. Steenburgen was kind to accept. So, we talked while she was on her way […]

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Ridley Scott’s “Democratic Realism”

The best antidote to Ridley Scott’s “Democratic Realism” – which isn’t “realistic” at all – is Romantic Realism, a literary genre which depicts man as a heroic being in pursuit or in defense of rational values.